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Black Friday 2011 Recap

By M Davies   /     Nov 29, 2011  /     Events, Family, Medical Issues  /     2 Comments

I know everyone hates me and will throw things at me for posting that I went Black Friday shopping this year, but oh well.  I've been going Black Friday shopping every year for as long as I can remember with my Grandmother, Aunt and Mother.  It's kind of a sick and twisted Thanksgiving family ritual.  We put the fun in dysfunctional.

This year, our Black Friday actually started on Thursday evening…at 7pm to be precise.  The players:  My Mom, My Aunt and me.

Stop 1:  Toys R Us in Wilkes-Barre

They opened at 9pm on Thursday evening.  We got there early and found parking without a problem.  We then stood in line for approximately 90 minutes.  Toys R Us would only let in so many people at once due to the fire code occupancy regulations.  We got into Toys R Us easily enough, it was getting out that was the problem.  They had the store blocked off with various shelves, so you could only go into certain sections if you wanted to checkout.  The checkout line wrapped around the store.  Thank god I didn't have to buy anything!  Here's a picture of the line wrapped behind Toys R Us:

Stop 2:  Wal-Mart in Wilkes-Barre Township

I specifically recall a TV commercial from Wal-Mart that said "Don't stand outside in line, come inside where it's warm."  Yeah, not so much.  By the time we got to Wal-Mart (around 10:00pm), every parking spot in the parking lot was taken and two lines formed outside at each of the entrances to the store.  My Mom dropped of my Aunt and I to get in line while she tried to find a parking spot.  And, when I said every parking spot was taken…I literally mean, every parking spot was taken.  People even resorted to parking in nearby restaurants, hotels and quadruple parking (forget double parking)!  My Mom eventually found a spot, where no one else parked….BECAUSE A GLASS BOTTLE WAS SMASHED ALL OVER THE PARKING SPACE.  So what does she do?  Pulls in, and parks it.  I'm like "Well, at least we are at Wal-Mart if we need to buy a can of fix-a-flat."  I received a text message from a friend that told me that Wal-Mart was "at capacity" and the police made them lock the doors because of fire code regulations.  There was security standing at the door letting in people only as others were exiting the store.  After waiting around for about 20-25 minutes, we all finally got in the door.  The Wal-Mart commercial was chalk full of lies.  Here's a picture taken from the line at Wally World:

Wal-Mart has THE WORST setup for Black Friday that I've ever seen.  They have doorbusters, some started at 10pm, some started at 11pm and some started at midnight.  However, all of the electronics were at midnight.  If you wanted any of the electronic items, you needed to get a ticket and stand in a line which is nice because it makes it fair for everyone.  I'll give them that.  But here's what I really want to know:  How do they expect people to leave the building to make room for the others coming in if all of the specials start in 2 hours.  You have to stand in line for 2 hours to get something…therefore no one is leaving the store.  If no one leaves the store, no one else can get in.  I guess I'm the only person that is missing the logic in this setup.  Why not start the deals ALL AT THE SAME TIME?  Does an hour really make that big of a difference between the specials?

My aunt wanted a 13" TV that cost 98 dollars.  Both her and I got a ticket and stood in the line.  We had the third ticket issued for this item.  Once we got to the area of the store where the line was, we decided to sit on the floor and wait for midnight.  OH MY GOD.  You'd think we had just committed a mortal sin.  The Wal-Mart lady who was assigned to watch our line yelled at us and told us we were not permitted to sit on the floor because we could be trampled.  I looked around at the other people in line with us.  Two old ladies were in line with us.  Yeah, I'm sure Grandma will take us out with her Hoverround if we're not careful.  Are ya kidding me?  Meanwhile, we watched people walk past us with printers, computers, DVD players, freezers, and other "big ticket items" in their carts, but yet we have to wait until midnight to get a fucking 99 dollar no-name brand TV.  Makes perfect sense to me! 

Anyway, we people-watched for the next hour while waiting for the stupid TV.  Can I just ask….what the hell is wrong with people?  Do they not think about what they are wearing before leaving the house?  If your shirt doesn't cover your beer gut, don't wear it.  I think your jammies are adorable and all, but I don't think they are appropriate to wear in public.  Finally midnight arrived and we got the TV with no issues.  There was no trampling.  The line moved in an efficient and orderly manner.  By the way, I was up to Wal-Mart earlier today, and check this out: 

Look at how many fucking TVs are there now and at the same price!  Why does God mock me?  I'm debating on whether or not to sue Wal-Mart to get the 2 hours I wasted of my life in line back as well as other punitive damages.

Stop 3:  Target in Wilkes-Barre Township

All told, I'd say we got to Target around 1am.  Parking was no issue, because at that point they were already open for an hour.  Once again, here's another place that was easy to get into, but IMPOSSIBLE to get out of.  I forget who was going for what at this store, but I ended up walking out with a cheap DVD, a bottle of lemonade, earbuds and a tube of facial cleanser.  4 items, 30 dollars and 90 minutes of following the leader in the line maze that started way over in the frozen food section and we were finally on our way to our next destination.

Stop 4:  Kohl's in Wilkes-Barre Township

We got here about 3am.  We parked right up front and got right in.  There was hardly anyone shopping in the store…know why?  BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL STANDING IN LINE.  Don't get me wrong, every register had a person working at it, but it was the person at the beginning of the line directing people that was clueless.  They would make it so that only one person would go to one line at a time.  Wow.  Why not stack each line with 3 or 4 people to get things moving?  Why does it have to be so nitpicky?  I got all the way up to the check out and realized I didn't have my wallet.  Thus, my first panic attack of the evening began.  I figured I had left it at Target, or it was stolen or I dropped it somewhere.  Then I started thinking about all of the credit cards and ID that was in there and started hyperventilating.  My Mom tried to steer me in the direction of her car to check the back seat.  Yeahhhhh, it was back there.  Apparently, it fell out of my purse and I hadn't noticed.  Who can keep track of these complicated details when you've been up for close to 24 hours?  I took my wallet back inside and paid and left feeling like a big embarrassed dumbass.  Oh by the way, I seriously considered buying these shoes:

I get distracted by shiny things.

Stop 5:  The Mall / JC Penney's

At this point, I could not be more thrilled to see the sight of the Wyoming Valley Mall.  We rolled in here at 4:30, and my iPhone's battery was completely dead.  Twitter was keeping me entertained, so I had to figure out a way to charge the battery.  I took a walk down to FYE which did not have any iPhone battery chargers that would work for my purpose.  I needed an emergency charger.  The AT&T store did not open until 5am, so I had to kill some time.  I decided to walk around in Spencer's because I noticed that they had some funny hats.  I ended up buying one.

Also, did you know that they make Pacman Snuggies?  I had to take a picture to show to my friend Brian, because he'd never believe me.

Finally, the AT&T store opened and I was able to purchase the most awesome charging device known to man.  It's called the Mophie Juice Pack.  It's a charging phone cover.  Instead of charging your iPhone, you charge the cover essentially giving you double battery life.  You can check out more about it here if you are so inclined.

Stop 6:  Toys R Us in Wilkes-Barre

Yep.  At around 7:30am we went back to Toys R Us, because going once wasn't enough abuse.  This is the part where I began to get irritated with my Mom.  She wanted to buy Gabby and Owen something each for Christmas and Gabby's birthday.  Fine.  But, I don't know what to tell her to get because Gabby lost her wish lists.  She kept asking if she should get this, or get that.  I DON'T KNOW.  JUST PICK SOMETHING AND GET IT.  I was less than amused.  We were in Toys R Us for what seemed like an eternity.  I was seriously considering committing suicide with a nerf gun. 

Stop 7:  K-Mart

After the hell that was Toys R Us part deux, we made a pitstop at Dunkin Donuts to have a quick breakfast.  We couldn't go to the one near the mall because there was no where to park, so we stopped at the on on 309 by K-Mart (after the big cow).  The girl behind the counter screwed up my order three times over.  I mean really, how hard is it to get a sausage sandwich and a coffee wrong, but I digress.  According to my Foursquare, we got to K-Mart at 952:am.  K-Mart was pretty busy, but nothing like Wal-Mart or Toys R Us.  We had no trouble finding parking or getting checked out here.  I didn't buy anything, but my Mom did.  I forget what.  She was also picking up stuff for people she worked with so it may have been for one of them.  She's nuts.  I found these rejected gifts for your the special people on your Christmas list this year:

A Santa Thong, with free included Santa Sack.  I laughed so hard when I seen this (probably because I was punch-drunk due to lack of sleep).  How can you go wrong when you are getting Santa's sack free with this purchase?  You know what I say, if its free its for me!!!!  Anyone who's on my "naughty" list this year will be getting one of these.

Come on, is this for real?  It can't possibly be real.  A THREE WOLVES SHIRT IN MY LOCAL K-MART.  This is almost too much for my giddy geek heart to handle.  By the way, if you aren't getting the geek reference on this, then you need to check out this:  http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Three-Wolf-Short-Sleeve/dp/B002HJ377A – Read all of the comments, from top to bottom.  You will piss your pants with laughter.  I think I originally learned about this from Slashdot.

Stop 8:  Boscov's in Downtown Wilkes-Barre

You know, I love me some Boscov's.  If I ever met Al Boscov in person, I'd probably pinch his cheeks.  At around 11:15am we rolled into the parkade at Bosco's.  We headed for the curtain section first which is on the 4th floor.  I sat down on the floor, indian style and waited while my Aunt and Mother perused the selection.  I was just there last month, and didn't feel like looking through everything again.  Yeah, sitting in the curtain section.  I am a rebel. 

Something you should know about Wilkes-Barre Boscov's….in case you have never been there before, know that it is hotter than the surface of the sun inside of that building.  Do not bring a coat.  I don't care if it's 35 degrees below zero outside.  Do not bring in a coat, trust me.  You will melt.  On Black Friday, the temperature of Boscov's seemed ok.  However, I found out something new.  The lower the floor, the hotter the temperature.  It's like taking the escalator to hell if you go down to the basement.  We spent most of our time in the basement, because that's where all of the kitchen crap, toys and savings auditorium are located.  I just about damn near had a heat stroke.  I didn't bring my coat, but I was wearing a light sweater layered under a tank top.  MISTAKE.  I found a new toe ring!

My Mom was feeling ill after that, so this was our last stop, we drove back to my Grandmothers, and I drove home after that.  This was around noon.

The damage:  I figure I spent about 150 on stuff I probably didn't need.  I got a few Christmas gifts.  We shopped for close to 18 hours.  I was awake for roughly 32 hours. 

Also, I think that all of the walking and activity injured my foot.  I woke up writhing in pain and couldn't feel the toe and outer step of my left foot.  I thought for sure I was having a stroke or the diabetes grim reaper was coming to pay me a visit. 

Cue late night, Black Friday-related panic attack #2 (this happened on Sunday evening).  As soon as I was able to, I called the doctor in the morning.  After looking over my foot and poking and prodding around, he determined that I have pinched nerve somewhere in the left part of my left foot.  There apparently is no magic cure for this.  Basically, you just have to wait it out.  Let me just tell you….I'm not happy about this.  I'm ready to call for a second opinion.  Like, I know my pinky toe is physically there, but I can't feel it.  All I feel is numbness and tingling.  It's not a fun time.  At all.

Still in all, I look forward to the Black Friday adventures again next year. 

I must be crazy.  But between me and you, all of the good people are.

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Thanksgiving vault

By M Davies   /     Nov 23, 2011  /     Family, Uncategorized  /     0 Comment

This video was probably taken in 2005 based on Gabrielle's age.  What's especially great about this video is my Grandmother pulling rank on my Mother by telling her to make the bed.  This is the type of dysfunctional family interaction I'll be up against tomorrow. 

Also: 

In 2004, I missed my first Black Friday in a long while because of having to work and being 9 months pregnant.  I was just preparing for Gabby's arrival.

In 2007, I was just trying to get my Blog re-established after being laid off from Big Red Telco provider.

In 2008, I was thankful for just about everything that you can imagine.

I seemed to have skipped posting on Thanksgiving in 2005, 2006 (due to nearly being dooced), 2009 and 2010. 

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The Adopted FIL

By M Davies   /     Oct 12, 2011  /     Family  /     0 Comment

Did you ever have that one person…possibly a relative even….that shows up at your house at the absolute worst time?  Usually without calling or giving you prior notice that they are stopping by?  Let me see a show of hands….

*Raising Hand*

Me too! 

My brother-in-law's father-in-law is who I'm referring to specifically.  I've since nicknamed him "Adopted FIL".  Don't get me wrong, I love the guy to death, but A LITTLE ADVANCED NOTICE PRIOR TO SHOWING UP WOULD BE NICE.  Especially since we have 2 younger children.

Most times that he shows up, its usually during dinner.  I'm not sure if this is planned or not, but it makes you obligated to offer food to him.  Which encourages his behavior.  I don't like to consider myself an enabler.  He's also shown up while the hubs is working during the day (…he works from home…) 

Yesterday…this happened:

(Adopted FIL on my roof talking on his cell phone)

Its great that he helped clean our gutters.  I really do appreciate it.  Once again, he gave no advance warning prior to showing up and you know…hitching up the ladder and climbing on top of our roof.  Rich happened to walk outside and there he was…on top of the roof.  How freaking weird!  I know if I was the one to have walked outside and seen a man on our roof I would have probably started screaming and having a panic attack (of course then realizing afterward its only Adopted FIL)

My point of this post is two three things: 

  1. No one would have ever believed me if there wasn't photographic evidence.
  2. There's seriously never a dull moment in my life.
  3. ONLY IN SWEET VALLEY!
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Pancreatic Cancer SUCKS!

By M Davies   /     Oct 06, 2011  /     Family, Into the Void  /     0 Comment

Pancreatic Cancer SUCKS.  There I said it again…and I'm going to keep saying it.  Far too many people have lost their lives to it before their time.  Among some of the more famous celebrities that have fallen victim to this form of cancer:  Michael Houser of Widespread Panic, Dizzy Gillespie, Patrick Swayze, and most recently Steve Jobs.  There's also someone else very special that was close to me that died of this horrible disease….my Grandfather.  While he may have not been a visionary, musically inclined, or a well known actor, he was a very important influence on my early life. 

The survival rate according to the American Cancer Society, for all stages of pancreatic cancer combined, the one-year relative survival rate is 20%, and the five-year rate is 4%.  If it is caught early enough, there is a procedure that can be done to try and stop the cancerous cells from spreading…but that is a big IF.  Basically if the cancer has spread beyond your Pancreas, its only a matter of time until you pass on.  My Grandfather got sick before Christmas in December of 1994, he passed on in August of 1995. 

Simply put…pancreatic cancer is a death sentence.

A while ago I wrote down my thoughts on my Grandfather's death.  I haven't had the chance to re-read this in its entirety … so the grammar, capitalization and spelling might be haphazard at best.  Consider yourself warned.  It came from what was inside of my heart at one of the worst times of my life so I hope that you don't hold that against me.

11/03/02 – 3:33am

"My Grandfather"

 No matter how hard you try, you can not get rid of demons from the past.  My “demons” or “skeletons in the closet” are my Grandparents.  I don’t mean my Mom’s parents – my Maternal Grandparents are still alive.  I am talking about my Paternal Grandparents – my Dad’s Parents.  Everytime I talk about them it is hard to not start crying or feeling heartbroken.  I cannot help but feel like I was basically screwed out of getting to say my proper goodbyes to them.  Yes, they are dead.  Both of them.  I am still not used to the fact of having only one set of Grandparents.  I don’t if I’ll ever get used to it.

My Grandfather, Russell died August 31st 1995.  He died the summer after I came back from going to Norway.  He was gravely ill.  It all started back in December 1994, right around Christmas.  My Grandfather (in his 70s) came down with a case of Yellow Jaundice.  This came as a shock to me mainly because I vividly remember him saying the doctor thought he was “healthy as a horse” a few months earlier.  That Christmas was a little unusual, because “Poppy” wasn’t around, he was in the hospital.  After Christmas dinner and exchanging gifts the whole family drove up to see him in the Hospital – Mercy Hospital, as a matter of fact.  We gave him our various presents.  He seemed in good spirits.  If you knew my Grandfather – his normal demeanor was always cracking jokes about anything and everything.  When we crowded around his bed he cracked some jokes about how all of the hospital food “tasted like they cooked it all in the same pot”.  We all laughed along, but I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital secretly.  Hospitals have always freaked me out, along with Nursing Homes.  I really don’t know why.  Usually, I’ll glance into someone’s room and see something bad, like a real sick person.  I get heartbroken just thinking that someone may be dying at the minute I walk in.  We finally left the hospital after staying for an hour or so.  My Grandfather eventually returned home only to get worse. 

I don’t remember exactly when he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.  This all happened a long time ago, and I was only a pre-teen at the time.  I remember throughout the Winter my Grandfather being in and out of the hospital, hooked and unhooked from various scary looking machines.  Sometimes he had so many wires and needles and tubs coming out of him that I was scared to touch him.  I didn’t want to accidentally bump one out of place.  Sometimes just looking at him was enough to make me want to cry.  I hated seeing him (or anyone for that matter) in so much pain. 

As time went on, he seemed to go into a withdrawn phase.  He would acknowledge you were there.  Talk to you briefly then nod off and go to sleep, or just sit there not talking at all.  I often wondered what it was that he was thinking about.  I also thought about my Grandmother and what she was feeling.  Sometimes I think she was hurt by him saying so little. 

After the long winter of being in and out of the hospital, my Grandfather seemed to be getting better.  They took him out of the hospital for a while in the spring.  I can remember because when I went to Norway in May I sent a postcard to both sets of my Grandparents.  My Dad even brought the family dog “Dutchess” down to my Grandparent’s house a  few times to liven things up a bit.  It seemed that some time after I got back from Norway (June-July-ish) is when my Grandfather’s health started to rapidly worsen.  That summer, being a good niece, I stayed down my other Grandmother’s house and watched my Aunt Annette’s kids.  I did that along with dealing with this pain and fears of my Grandfather dying.  I remember there being talks of Hospice’s and a bunch of other things that a 14 year old would not understand. 

One night, my brother and I were staying with my Grandmother.  Walking into her living room was completely weird.  There was a huge hospital bed in the center of the living room.  The hospice people said my Grandfather wanted “to come home”.  All the preparations were there for him to come home.  Since it was a weekend, I think they wanted to wait until Monday to bring him home.  I just remember feeling really sad looking around seeing the various hospital equipment.  At one point during my visit, I nearly broke down in tears.  I went up and hid in one of the spare bedrooms.  I didn’t want my Grandmother or my Brother seeing that I was crying.  All of the sudden, I heard my Grandmother get out of the tub.  I panicked because my eyes were bloodshot and you could tell that I was just crying.  “Michelle,” she called out “is that you??”. 

“Yes.” Trying to hide my sniffles. 

She could tell that I had been crying.  She asked me what was wrong.  My Grandmother always had a great way of comforting me.  I felt so scared and I just blurted out “I DON’T WANT POP TO DIE.” And with that, I started sobbing furiously again.  She held me tight and she said “Me Neither”.  That was all we said.  We sat there for what seemed like an eternity just hugging and crying.  My brother eventually came up to see what we were doing.  We quickly dried our eyes and my Grandmother came up with a good excuse and we went back downstairs to watch a movie and then went to bed. 

The hospital bed in the living room always comes back to haunt me.  Why, you ask?  Well, remember how I said that the Hospice Workers told my Grandmother and family that my Grandfather wanted to “come home”.  They misunderstood him.  After my Grandfather was told that everything was ready for him to come home, he just shook his head.  He said “I want to go to my other home”.  He meant heaven.  One day when my brother was staying down my Grandmother’s house one of the people from the Hospice came by and filmed the front of the house and the surroundings of Lee Park – where my Grandfather grew up and lived.  He apparently had asked the Hospice workers to do this so he “could see his real home one last time”. 

I remember particular, this one week.  It was mandatory for my brother and I to stay down my other Grandmother’s (Mom’s Mom) house.  My mother explained to my brother and I that “Pop was getting very, very sick.” And they weren’t going to be around much to cook and watch us that week.  I was getting very scared.  Every night I’d find somewhere to spend alone for a few minutes.  I’d think to myself.  “Oh god.  I’m so scared.  I don’t want to lose my Grandfather.  He and I are so close.”  The one night, I made a plan.  I found this picture of my Grandfather and I together when I was about 4 years old.  We were standing on a porch together next to a big deer he got while hunting.  I decided that when Pop dies, I wanted this picture to go with him.  I didn’t want him to forget me on the other side.  I also decided that I should get him a little something else…so he isn’t scared while making his journey to the other side.  While out shopping with my Grandmother later in the week, I managed to scrounge up enough money to get a small white teddy bear.  The teddy bear was so small and cute that I figured he would be the perfect thing to get. 

Thursday came around.  Thursday of that week. – the 31st.  I was baby-sitting my cousins and then all of the sudden my uncle got home early – around 5.  I was pretty much off the hook from that point on.  I didn’t have to watch the kids anymore.  I stuck around anyway because my aunt had some cats.  The cats were fun to play with so that is what I was doing.  All of the sudden my Grandmother walked out on the porch and called me over.  She told me to come inside because she had something to tell me.  (Sidenote:  My Aunt and Grandmother were neighbors at the time).  I was sitting down on her porch when she told me the news.  My Grandfather had died.  I know I mentioned this above, but my heart broke, literally.  All of my emotions and feelings came pouring out in the form of tears.  I broke down really bad.  My Grandmother just held me.  She was crying too.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know what to say.  I had a 2 Grandfathers when I woke up in the morning, but now I only have 1.  How could this be?  Suddenly I felt so guilty, I felt like I should have spent more time with him, I felt like I should have went to see him more in the hospital, I should have hugged him more, and I shouldn’t have taken him for granted. 

I some how managed to sleep that night.  I really don’t know how.  I think I may have cried myself to sleep.  The next day came quickly, and funeral arrangements had to be made.  The very next day I was go to and get my hair cut so I looked presentable for the funeral and also school which started in a few more days.  The next thing I remember was going to the viewing.  My Grandmother, Dad, Aunt and Mother were all seated in the first row.  I was in one of the rows behind them.  This was the first viewing I was ever at, and I wasn’t really sure what normally happened in funeral homes.  My Grandfather was layed out in a Casket in a very nice suit (picked out my Grandmother).  I remember looking down at him and thinking that he just looked like he was in a deep sleep.  If you stared for too long at his eyes you’d swear that you would see them blink.  After the night of the viewing was over, I went home for the first time a few weeks.  I slept well that night and woke up semi-refreshed the next morning.  That morning we were to report to the funeral home and close the casket and then go to the church where there was going to be a burial mass.  Then we were going to the Cemetery to the actual “funeral”. 

Closing the casket was the hardest part of the ordeal I think.  I remember just standing around it with my family and we were all praying and touching him.  I stroked his hair.  He was really thin, and looked a lot different from the “Poppy” I was used to seeing.  I thought that it wasn’t really him, that my Poppy was going to jump out from behind a door saying “Surprise” like he’d always joke around.  It was real, and it was him.  I started crying furiously again.  I didn’t want to say goodbye. 

At the burial mass, I sat next to my Dad.  For the first time in my entire life, I seen my Dad cry.  That really touched me.  My Dad and Grandfather were really close.  I think losing him really tore my Dad up.  After that, we attended the actual “funeral”.  I don’t really remember the burial process really well.  I didn’t take that long.  The wind was blowing and I was exhausted.  I wanted to go home and sleep or cry more.  The day of the funeral was the first day of school.  I didn’t go.  It was the only “first day” of school I have ever missed. 

I still go to visit his grave.  I still miss him terribly.  I will never forget him and the impact he has had on my life.  He will always be there and I really do hope to see him on the other side some day.  I miss you Pop. 

PS – Donate to Pancreatic Cancer Research here:  http://www.pancan.org/

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Khrystos Voskres! Voistynu Voskres!

By M Davies   /     Apr 24, 2011  /     Family, Rusyn  /     3 Comments

And now a bit about my heritage. . .

 

The title of the blog post literally translates to “He has risen.  Indeed he has risen.”  This is a traditional greeting during the Easter/Christmas season for Ukranian/Russian Orthodox Catholics like myself.  I am a non-practicing one of … those.  My paternal grandfather was big into attending church and being a normal practicing catholic.  After my parents made the move from Wilkes-Barre to the Poconos, we didn’t go to church as much (if ever).  The fact of the matter is, there aren’t many church’s that are Ukrainian.  I can think of two – the one to which I attended CCD – which after doing a Google search is “SS Peter and Paul” on North River Street in W-Barre.  The one that my family “practiced” in was SS Peter and Paul in Plymouth.

 

I have been desperately trying to seek out more information about my paternal grandfather’s family since the early 2000’s.  I’ve hit numerous road blocks.  The biggest one being that none of his family spell their last name the same way.  Imagine my surprise to find out each of his siblings have taken on a different variation of the spelling.  My grandfather spelled it “Hryvnak”, his two brothers spell it “Hrevnack”, his eldest brother spelled it “Revnack”, and obviously his sisters took the name of their respective husbands.  By the way, the “Revnack” variation of it, would be how you’d actually pronounce it in real life.  The H is silent.  The Y takes on an “eh” sound, and nak.  Rev-nack. 

 

Now all that having been said, here’s where it REALLY gets tricky.  The graves of my great-grandparents have a completely different spelling of the last name.  I was able to trace them back as coming through Ellis Island, but before that I have no information.  My great-grandmother’s name is Maria Yurchak Hrywniak.  She came from Certizne, Czechoslovakia.  My great-grandfather’s name was Alec Hrywniak and was from Sonak, Austria.  “Hrywniak”.  Where did the W disappear to?  When/where did the V and I appear?

 

So again, I started searching like madman and find this page:  http://www.slovakia.org/society-rusyn.htm

Specifically this:

Rusyns have typical Slavic first names like Michael (Michal or Michajlo), John (Jan or Ivan, nicknames Vaňo or Janko), Marija (Marja, Marka, Marička), Helen (Olena or Helena) and Anna (Hanna, Hanka, Haňa) or Anastasia. But several first names are peculiar to Rusyns (and extremely rare among Slovaks): for males, Vasil (Vasko), Dimitrij (Mitro), and Demjan (i.e., Damian); for females, Paraskeva (Paraska, Pajza, usually anglicized to Pearl), Hafia, and Tekla.

Rusyn surnames vary widely, many ending in “skyj”, but some other common endings are “čak”, “čik”, “jak” “ňak” or “nyak”, “ko” or especially “nko” and “sko”, “iin” and “ovič”.

 

My Grandfather and his siblings have some of the names of the above:  Girls:  Anna, Helen, Mary, Julie.  Boys:  John, Alec, Peter, Russell (was my grandfather).  I think that is all of them, but I may be missing some.

 

So great, I know I’m a Rusyn with several different spellings of last names, the names of my great-grandparents, and my grandfather’s siblings.  That doesn’t explain much to me.  I need more info.  God, I am nosey!

 

I found a person on Facebook with my same last name, a “Roman Hryvnak”, and I decided to add him to my friend list and message him about what he knows.  This is what I got:  “I’m not sure how much you know about your heritage, but there are few things that I can tell you for sure. Hryvnak (or Hrywniak for that matter) is somewhat popular last name in western Ukraine where I was born and lived for most of my life. It originated as a cossack’s nickname. It is hard to say if we are related since many people in Ukraine have that last name. I do know that on my grandfather’s side of the family someone moved to the states a while ago.”

 

Roman further sent me this picture:

 

The last name that is on that sign the most is Hryvnak written in Ukrainian :) I took this picture in a village where my family came from. It’s called Danyl’che (Ukraine).  This is a memorial sign where the men fought for their independence against the Russian and German forces in WW2.

 

So there you have it.  That’s what I know.  Which isn’t too much.  I keep this website up with my maiden last name as a tribute to my grandfather and his family’s struggles to come to America.  My hopes is that someone will be searching Google, looking for the same information that I am and come across my site and we can do an information exchange.  Any information anyone can provide would be of great value.

 

Have a blessed Easter everyone!  I dedicate this one to my Pop.

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Then and Now: The Russell Edition

By M Davies   /     Aug 04, 2008  /     Family  /     1 Comment

Another day, another birthday.  This time it’s Russell, my brother.  He turns 22 today, which makes me feel….old.  We are six years apart, so you do the math. 

Then:  A bright blue-eyed toddler with white blonde hair.  (Yes, that’s me sitting next to him)

Then:  A boy playing in a snow bank taller than he was.

Now:  A hot dog eating fool.  Holla!

Happy birthday Russell!

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