June 7, 2019

Funnymoon: Fort Klingensmith

You tried. 
Due to limited vacation days, our honeymoon has to be broken up into a few small getaways throughout the year. Our first excursion was over Memorial Day, and along the way, we stopped by Hannastown, where Fort Klingensmith is.
"No military force in history could penetrate those walls."
-Jason Klingensmith 
Jason’s 5th great-grandfather, Johannes, built it with his brother John Peter. They moved to the colonies when they were young and became scouts for General George Washington during the French and Indian War. Eventually, they plopped down about thirty-five miles from where Jason grew up and worked on their farms with the occasional break to impregnate their wives.
Zachy happily playing where his foremothers were publicly shamed. 

All the Klingensmiths around here can be traced back to Andreas Klingenschmidt who owned a bell factory in Leipzig, Germany in the 16th century.  (Klingen=bell, schmidt=metalsmith) They probably immigrated here to escape religious persecution, but then again, maybe word got out that Pennsylvania likes their bells.

Hannastown only had a few good years because the Seneca were already using that land. Their perspective was that God owned the land and blessed them with its bounty. Another human owning that land wasn’t taking it from them, it was stealing from God. In response, they came to the town and slaughtered a bunch of them, including John Peter and his family. They spared the 8-year-old boy Peter and raised him as their own.

Peter grew up to become “White Peter”, and not to be outdone in unoriginality, the white people named his wife “Molly Indian Maiden”. Their offspring live in New York and Canada. Jason grew up hearing that he is part Native American, but as far as I know, it’s through marriage instead of blood. From what I’ve gathered, he is mostly German and English on his dad’s side (with a smidge of Irish and Jewish). Zach’s paternal line on his DNA test confirmed this. Jason’s maternal side is a hundred percent Syrian, but since the country was invaded so often, that’s likely a hodge-podge as well. It’s difficult to research her history without knowing Arabic.

All of this information came about when I made a family tree for Zach. Jason and I value history, and we want Zach to know his place in it. Being a part of something much bigger is valuable for our humility while paradoxically teaching us that we are important.

The blockhouse where Jason's family probably lived because his uncle's nickname was "Blockhouse". They weren't great with nicknames back then. 
(Coming up next is "Funnymoon: Nemacolin". If you would still like to donate to the honeymoon fund, click the link here.)

May 17, 2019

My Shotgun Wedding

Reverend Dr. J
Dentist, wedding officiant, Tombstone tour guide, and his favorite movie is also Office Space.
Office Space is supposedly my husband’s favorite movie, but every other week, I wake up to go to the bathroom and find him passed out on the couch with Tombstone playing. He has every line memorized and likes to remind me that it has the manliest cast of all time.

My relationship with the movie is different. I have a fondness for it because I saw it for the first time in detox back in 2007. That was a difficult time, of course, but what I had kept in darkness was now exposed. For the first time, I could talk openly about all the horrible things I’ve done without being judged as a horrible human being. It’s easy for me to forget that a person isn’t an action. We get to decide our actions, and if we feel like we can’t, we can choose to find help until we can. In my experience, when we have compassion without holding others accountable for their behavior, that very virtue is twisted and used as a weapon against us. Predators feast on people without healthy boundaries.

Back then, I was 26, but no more than a teenager mentally. I wanted to marry and have kids, but life had several more years of character building planned for me. Sometimes it felt like a video game where a level could only be passed by admitting that I was wrong about something I had been adamant about. If you think this prepared me well for marriage, you are correct.

After ten years, and a lot of loss, Jason came along and filled in some of those gaps. My parents had since passed, and he gave me his. They’re good, decent folk. Cliche ‘in-law’ jokes don’t apply to them. I feel appreciated for what I bring to their family. Like most people, I thrive on appreciation.

The package deal included two stepkids and their mom, who has become a dear friend. People may think that’s odd, but she is raising incredible kids and clearly has wisdom to teach. Being a wife and mother can be emotionally confusing, and she’s patient with me  
My father-in-law George, stepdaughter Kira, stepson Ben, and homemade son Zach.
Zach, Kira, Ben, and my mother-in-law Carole hiding
Kira's mom, Laura. I would refer to her as my "sister-in-law" if it didn't imply that she and Jason were siblings. (They're not.) Oddly enough, Laura and I discovered that we are fifth cousins. 

With this backstory painted, it’s easy to see why I married into the Klingensmiths. We intended to marry in a traditional way, but that wasn’t an efficient one. Growing up, I assumed my parents would pay, and it’s easier spending someone else’s money. Trying to plan a wedding without my mother revealed many of my shortcomings. I found myself feeling ashamed for not being as successful as my parents, envious of my siblings, and ungrateful for what I have. That’s not how I want to celebrate our life together, and it's certainly not what my mom would have wanted. She never compared my success to hers because our obstacles were different. Life had given me too much too early; she was proud of my endurance and the lengths I went to transcend hardships. Sometimes not becoming bitter is a high accomplishment, brutally earned.

Our trip to Tombstone had been planned since Christmas, and Jason made an off-the-cuff remark about getting married there if he can dress as Doc Holliday. Later, I Googled "Tombstone Weddings" out of curiosity, and Dr. J and Linda popped up. We called, and for a few hundred dollars, they could marry us like it was the 1800’s. They even specifically asked if Jason wanted to dress as Doc Holliday. This made me Big Nose Kate, his common-law wife. What girl doesn’t dream of dressing up as brothel owner for her big day.
Our wedding venue was Madam Mustache's Olde Time Costume Shoppe. 

Congratulations, Zach! You're legitimized!
No longer a bastard. 
Instead of 'I do', I got to say, "I'm your huckleberry."
After our wedding, we ate wingdings at Big Nose Kate's Saloon, then Jason shot some 19th-century Rugers. 
We assumed that when we returned, I would begin planning the church wedding. I got as far as inquiring into catering prices. People flying across the country for a wedding they secretly don’t want to attend deserve to be fed well. For a decent spread, we could buy a new car. Then it dawned on me that if we have another kid, which we hope to, we need a vehicle with at least six seats. I can forgo a party if it means not being a Disney villain and sticking a stepchild in the trunk.

For the honeymoon, we are breaking it up into several short getaways throughout the year. Jason’s vacation days are already reserved for our two-week family trip to St. Augustine, Florida this summer. I insisted we still make time for a honeymoon. Before my mom passed, she asked me to travel and see the things she couldn't, so in a way, this is a part of my wedding that she can still help me plan. Our first getaway is at Nemacolin over Memorial Day weekend, and I hope to tell you about it when we return.

It felt tacky to create a registry, so I looked up “wedding gifts & elopement” and one of the recommendations was creating a honeymoon fund. If you would like to give a gift, the site is If not, that’s expected because we didn’t feed you.