Tag Archives: Olympics

If Genealogy was an Olympic event, I might be on the podium.

I’ve got to say, I was disappointed by the Olympics coverage by my local TV channel. I only watch figure skating during the winter Olympics.  I don’t have any interest in skiing, snow boarding, the luge or even speed skating.  Figure skating is all I want to see. Prime time coverage in my neck of the woods was largely everything BUT figure skating. I had to go to another channel, covering the Olympics 24/7 to catch it.

But that was enough to fill my entire evening for…what, two weeks?…a week and a half?  In fact, I still have the final skating exhibition to watch – I think I’ll hit my DVR next.

So, of course, no writing happened during this time. The U.S. didn’t fare well, and I got into the competition between the two Russian skaters, Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova. I was as outraged as everyone else when Zagitova all but stole (in my opinion) the gold from Medvedeva.

And, I say I have no interest in skiing, but I did watch Lindsey Vonn. I caught a little bit of snow boarding and saw Shaun White win gold again.

As you know, I came back from my Mom’s house with all those boxes of family history.  I still haven’t gone through the photos, but the documents I found, were amazing.  And most of them provided fewer answers than they caused more questions. I was as dedicated to going through these documents as if I was training for an Olympic competition.  That’s all I did for several weeks.  I would call my Mom every time I found something interesting and it got to the point where she stopped saying “Hello?”  And started answering the phone with, “What did you find now?”

Like, why would your great grandparents, who spent their whole lives in Wisconsin (as far as we knew) get married by a Justice of the Peace in Illinois? And why would your great grandma have joined a church in Chicago 4 years before the wedding?

This same great grandma kept a receipt from a drugstore for Diphtheria anti-toxin in 1931. Had she been sick? Had my grandfather been sick? I found it in her Bible and it seemed like a strange thing to keep all those years. And why was the mother on my great grandfather’s birth certificate crossed out and replaced with a different woman’s name? Was it just a clerical error or something else?

And this is just TWO people from a family tree that includes one known Civil War soldier and one Revolutionary War soldier (not the same side of the family, but you know what I mean). What other things will I find? It’s so exciting to think about!

My 2 times great grandma kept the baptism record for her baby boy who died at 6 months old in 1898. I know because I have the document hanging on the wall in my office. She was born in Germany and most of the documents I have for her are in German (the one for her son included). She came to this country with her parents when she was 8 years old. I’m so interested to learn more about her.

I love reading my grandma’s diary from 1947.  Each day, I’m reading that same day and thinking about what was going on in her life all those years ago. On the 4th of March, 1947, she and Grandpa had gone to see Easy Come, Easy Go and then went for a drive. I wish we had found more diaries.  I don’t know if this is the only one there was or if perhaps others of them just hadn’t survived.

So, I have started trying to do some research.  I started with my great-grandparents, figuring those records would be more current and perhaps easier to find.  So far, nothing about this whole Illinois phase. I wish I had unlimited resources and could do a So Who Do You Think You Are approach to learning my family history.  Traveling around…making appointments with historians and genealogists who do all the searching for you and hand you the documents when you arrive. How awesome would that be? Ah, if only money grew on trees!

Basically, I was so deep in the Olympics and the family records that I blinked and February was over.




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Distractions of Olympic Proportions

I love the Olympics. Not in a stay home from work and watch from morning till night kind of way, but I’ll happily give up my evenings for two solid weeks to watch gymnastics (or figure skating, depending on the time of year).

This morning I watched an interview on Facebook with the Magnificent Seven. I remember like it was yesterday…Shannon Miller, the most decorated U.S. gymnast…Kerry Strug, clinching the title on the vault, wrecked ankle and all. Before 1996 we had a powerhouse in Mary Lou Retton. Since then, I’ve held my breath while Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin worked their way across the balance beam.   I’m excited to watch Gabby Douglas compete again for gold.

I’ve always loved gymnastics. Maybe because I’m such a tall, gangly girl whose entire gymnastic repertoire was a back bend (you know…bending backwards to touch my hands to the ground with my belly button arched to the sky).

Gymnasts seemed to always be petite, but powerful. They seemed fragile but determined. Their strength always amazed me, both in the routines they performed as well as their ability to handle what must have been crazy amounts of pressure.

Certainly the same could be said for many Olympic sports. The sacrifices made by athletes to compete at the top-level of their sport. Having a goal and being in it, heart and soul, putting in the work and then enjoying the glory of reaching your dream and competing against all the other bests in the world. And if you came out the other side on the podium…what a powerful moment. I’ve spent many years living vicariously through our U.S. gymnasts, cheering their success and mourning their losses.

It’s almost time to sit in my living room and share their adventure again.

I don’t follow gymnastics enough to know the ladies on the team this year. I know only that Gabby will return along with Aly Raisman. But by the time the all-around champion is crowned, I’ll feel like I’ve known these women since they were babies. Great Olympic coverage has always let you into their lives and created a sense of family for me. These are “our” athletes. The best the United States has to offer. Our sons and daughters. In a world turned upside down, maybe more than ever, our Olympic athletes make me proud to be an American.

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