All posts by tom

We Got a New Vehicle

​So...After 20+ years of driving Jeeps and trucks, we went an entirely different way this time.

We Just Bought a Minivan!

Chrysler Pacifica Limited

​We leased this 2018 Chrysler Pacifica Limited on ​Thusday. It should serve us well for day-to-day use and for road trips.

Pacifica Interior

​How It All Started


Up until a month or so ago, I had never even ​thought about a minivan for us. Then, while waiting for service on the Jeep one day, I saw ​this on the sales floor at the local Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge dealer. The interior roominess was amazing. The different possible seating arrangements seemed to make it a very versatile vehicle. It got me thinking that it just might work for us.

We still had about 6 months left on our Jeep lease but I filed the idea away as a possible future consideration.

​A few days later, we got a call from the dealership inviting us to come in and discuss end of lease options for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. I mentioned to Georgia that we might want to consider a minivan this time. She wasn't sold on the idea but she did do some online research. She was open to at least considering ​it.

We took a drive to the dealership so ​Georgia could look for herself. She was mostly sold after the visit and a test drive but had a couple concerns.

​Why a Minivan


​Why would a couple in their late 60's even think about a minivan? Aren't they for families with young children?

Actually, there were several reasons that a more versatile vehicle might be right for us.

First, there is a lot of space in a minivan. The Jeep worked OK for hauling groceries ​or a few suitcases. With Georgia's small mobility scooter in the back though, space was a little tight. Some creative loading was required for a long trip.

Seating was another consideration. With Max's booster seat taking up one spot, we could barely squeeze two more passengers in the back.

Comfort was another point. The Jeep's ride is, well Jeep like. You definitely feel the road and it can be hard on the back at times.

Still, a minivan? At our Age? Actually, when we thought about it, we realized that a very high percentage of friends our own age did own minivans and loved them.

It was time to do some more serious research.

​The Decision


​We turned to the Internet to learn all we could about minivans in general and the Pacifica in particular.

​It seems that a lot of people of all ages are like us. They came to minivans reluctantly but, once they had one, they really liked it a lot.

Our choice came down to considering the pros and cons and making our own decision.

I already mentioned some of the pros. Comfort and space were big ones but there were other pluses.

The three zone climate control, heated and ventilated seats and 8 way driver and passenger seats are great. Also a lot of cup holders and cubby holes to stash stuff ​are nice to have.

The space is made more versatile because of the Stow 'N Go seats. The Pacifica stands out in this area. Other vans let you remove the second row seats for more space but only Pacifica lets you fold them into the floor. We can fold them all down to hold everything we want to take on a road trip then, when we get to out destination, we can unpack, open the seats and carry seven passengers with us. No seats left sitting useless at home.

Oh, and there is a built in vacuum cleaner to clean up after that trip!

The Pacifica is an IIHS top safety pick. 5 Star rating!  In addition, the Chrysler Advanced SaftyTech package includes a lot of tools to protect us on the road. Lane Sense, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with braking, 360 degree camera, front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular parking assistance (auto park) and more.

I think the technology in new cars is going to help older drivers stay on the road longer and be safer. Let's face it. In our 60's, our reaction time and vision aren't what they were in our 30's. A little extra help can't hurt.

​The Infotainment system is an updated version of the Uconnect system we had in the Jeep but with two second row seat video screens. Max will love that feature. Other things we like about it are SiriusXM radio, navigation with traffic monitoring, mobile phone interconnect, Apple CarPlay and a host of settings to customize the in car experience.

Performance should be good with the 3.6L V6 at 287 HP and the nine speed transmission. Mileage is touted as very good too. 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. We will see.

What about the cons. There must be a few.

One big one that almost stopped us from buying is the lack of all wheel or four wheel drive, The Pacifica comes in front wheel drive only. After years of Jeeps, we had ​serious reservations about this one. In our online research, we didn't find any ​real complaints about handling so it must be working fine for others. Besides, I am retired now. I don't HAVE to go out when the weather stinks. We will find out how this works out for us but I am hopeful.

Another issue is that there is no spare tire in the Pacifica we bought. That worries us because we go places, like Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, where roadside service is scarce. ​The vehicle did come with a tire repair kit that includes a tire repair foam canister and an air compressor. Not the same as a spare! This is still a concern for us but maybe we can come up with a solution. A compact spare we can throw in the back for road trips?

​Choice Made


​That is really about all for concerns we had. The pluses seem to far outweigh the minuses. We pulled the trigger and made the change from SUV to minivan.

Will be be glad we did? I really think we will but only time will tell. We are looking forward to traveling in our new vehicle and to the places it is going to take us.

​This video from Chrysler is the same model that we have - just different colors. It is a bit of a sales pitch but does highlight some of the features that we liked and that helped us choose the Pacifica.

Festival Season Is Here!

Wauconda Fest

​The summer festival season is getting into full swing here in Chicagoland. We started it off with Wauconda Fest this past weekend.

​Max and his Mom met us there for a great afternoon of fun and games. The weather was just about perfect and the food wasn't bad either!

Carnival Ride

​​Max rode a few rides and went through the fun house three times but, his favorite thing to do is play the games. He won a couple stuffed toys and, best of all, a MineCraft sword!

I'm sure this wont be the last festival we go to this summer but it was a great way to kick off the season.

MineCraft Sword
Off Road Driver

Genealogy Detective Work

Researching your family tree requires you to be a bit of a detective. Sometimes the branch you are following is clear and easy to follow. Other times, you ​ gather every clue you can find and still can't make the breakthrough that answers your genealogical questions. Genealogists call those ​seemingly dead ends "brick walls" and we all reach them at some point in our research.

​​Sometimes you just get lucky and the solution to a brick wall turns up out of nowhere. As more and more records are digitized and made available online, the record we need to solve a puzzle can turn up at any time. ​​Often though, family mysteries require sifting through documents that, at first, ​don't seem to be directly related to the ​question at hand but turn out to be key to the solution.

​One of my great-great-great grandmothers was named Lucina Smith. I know a lot about her but, I could never find out her parents names. If I look at Lucina's entry in other family trees on, most don't list her parents at all. The ones that do name them don't agree with each other. I see Enos Smith and Lucina Chapin, George Smith and Lucena or Lucina Durfee and Christopher Smith and Polly Randall. Which set of parents, if any of them, is right?


​This is a good place to make a note about using other peoples family trees as a source. As this example shows, you should never just accept anther persons research without verifying it for yourself with other sources. These trees are a good place to find hints to use as a starting point but not as proof of facts about a person.

​​To get my answer, I needed to go back to what I knew about Lucina and search for ​sources that I hadn't seen before. Just searching for the name Smith wouldn't get me anywhere. There are just too many Smiths. I had to search specific locations and for related people.

​I knew that ​Lucina married Charles Weller and, from census records, that she was born in New York about 1826. Charles and Lucina had ​moved from New York to Pennsylvania and then on to Wisconsin. They had five children all born in Pennsylvania. The 1870 and 1880 censuses showed them living in the village of Ellensboro, Wisconsin. Charles Weller died there in 1884.

After Charles died I lost track of Lucina and ​​I couldn't find her ​on any other census. So, I put the search for her parents aside for a while and began researching her children. ​When I did that though, Lucina herself turned up again. 

I ​learned that her daughter Rosalia married a man named George Countant. On the 1900 census, I found George and Rosalia living in Ossining, Westchester, New York with their daughter​ Pearl. Also in the household was an older woman listed as Lucina Miller. I immediately suspected that this was a transcription error. A quick look at the actual record revealed that this was indeed Lucina Weller - N​OT Lucina Miller.

1900 U.S. Census Transcript
1900 U.S. Census Image

​Now I knew Lucina ​had gone back to her birth state of New York after the death of her husband Charles but I found no further records naming her. That is where my search remained for several years.

Just recently though, I found a new record from the 1905 New York state census that listed a Lucina Weller living in the home of William and Emma D. Sutton and their children. Her relationship was listed as "aunt."

1905 New York State Census

​Was this my Lucina or just a coincidence of names? If this was my 3rd great-grandmother, then William must be her nephew or Emma was her niece. If I could find a Smith ancestry for one of them I ​just might find Lucina's parents.

Finding out ​which of the Sutton's she was related to turned out to be easier than I expected. 

I didn't find birth or  marriage records for William or Emma but I did find a marriage record one for their daughter Tena. That record told me that the brides parents were William Sutton and Emma Smith. Now I was almost positive that I had the right Lucina Weller!


​From the information I had gathered so far, I could build a family tree that looked like this:

Hypothetical Tree

​​Since I was ​convinced that Emma's father was Lucina's brother, if I could learn the names of the two Smith men I would also learn the name of Lucina's father. As it turned out, finding the name of Emma's father ​took some serious detective work!

I would have liked to have found a birth or marriage record naming Emma and her parents but, so far, I have not found one. I ​did find many census records ​for Emma Smith and Emma Sutton living in or near Stockton, New York. Comparing these and using other ancestry family trees as hints, I eventually concluded that Emma was the daughter of David Montgomery Smith and Amorillus (or Amorillis) Ames. ​The 1870 census raised some questions. On that ​a 15 year old Emma Smith was living in the household of Harvey and Amorillus Solomon. Was David dead by then and ​Harvey was a step-father?

​Once I had settled on David​ Montgomery as ​Emma's father's name, I hit the jackpot. ​The Stockton entries in the New York Town Clerk's Register of Men ​Who Served in the Civil War included David Montgomery Smith and two of his brothers. All three men had enlisted in the Union Army in August of 1862. Sadly, that fall, David and his brother William both died of disease ​while encamped at Suffolk, Virginia​.

​The register ​gave me David's date and place of birth and his parents names. He was the son of Christopher Smith and Polly Randall. His death date of Nov. 14, 1862 also explained why his wife ​was remarried by the time of the 1870 census.

Civil War Soldiers From Stockton New York

​Click the image to see it full size.

​There I had it! After years of thinking I would never find the names of Lucina Smith's parents, I had finally ​knew them. Like most things in genealogy, I can't be absolutely positive that this info is correct but I would certainly ​rate it as "Highly Probably" to "Almost Certain."

​Revisit your family tree's brick walls from time to time. New information just might help you solve a mystery!

Now if I could just find the names of her husband ​​Charles Weller's parents...

Happy New Year 2018

​Happy New Year 2018!

​Shortly after we were married, Georgia and I took our daughters on our first overseas trip. We enjoyed England and France but, the part we liked the best was the time we spent in Scotland. I hope we can get back there again​.

Merry Christmas 2017

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Tom and Georgia

James Edward Moore – September 9, 1952 – November 2, 2017

James Moore

​This last weekend, Georgia and I traveled to Milwaukee to attend a moving memorial service for my cousin Jim Moore.

Jim was diagnosed with ALS on December 2nd, 2016. The terrible disease took him from us on November 2nd of this year. He was a loving father, devoted husband and companion, amazing teacher and loyal friend to more people than I think even he knew.

In Jim's Words

​I have been dealt a hand I will deal with in my own fashion.

His family, friends and students gathered together on Saturday to say a final farewell to Jim. 

As is ​too often the case with cousins, I knew Jim best when we were children. When we grew up, life took us our separate ways. Distance, starting our own families and careers meant we only saw each other on rare occasions. Those times to reminisce and catch up were never enough but ​they were all we had. Still, Jim was always not only my cousin but also my friend and I will miss him.


Jim Moore was a scientist and a science teacher. He taught Biology, Environmental Science, Intro to Physical Science and other science courses to thousands of students at Germantown High School in suburban Milwaukee for over 40 years. I know from listening to his students and colleagues that Jim was an exceptional teacher.

​Like all good teachers, Jim never stopped being a student of his chosen subjects. He was an avid hiker, cyclist and skier. He loved being outdoors and observing the natural world around him. Whenever he could, he took others with him to share his knowledge and his wonder.

Jim truly loved to share his passion for science with the world and not just with his students. He maintained a blog called Science of Reality where he shared his science based world view. His blog became a vehicle to document his struggle with the terrible disease of ALS.  But, beyond that, it was also a way to continue to teach all of us about how we can co-exist with the natural world that we are a part of.

​In Jim's Words

​I AM NOT DONE TEACHING!  I need to know that I did everything I was capable of to help insure my children, my students and the people I love have a planet and a civilization available to them to continue our existence on this, the most beautiful (and only) “Garden of Eden” that we know of in this Universe.

I invite you to ​click the button below to learn more about Jim's world view and his final battle by reading his own words as he wrote them in his blog.

​Spend time with your family now - for too soon they are gone.

A Long, Warm Fall Weekend

It has been very summer like well into October here in the Chicago area. We took advantage of the weather by getting outdoors over the long Columbus Day Weekend. Max was staying with us so we had fun together.

​Fall Festival

Pumpkin Carving
Pony Ride

​Indian Boundary Park in Chicago ​is home to an annual Fall Festival especially for children. Max has gone to the festival in each of his four years. Max's mom Angeli (Georgia's daughter) went with us as she has every year. His Dad had to work Sunday so he couldn't join us.

Activities at the festival included pumpkin decorating, kids games, bouncy houses, a petting zoo and pony rides.

The warm weather brought out more people than usual so we had to wait in a long lines for the pony ride. We used the wait time to eat the subs we brought with us. We finaly got to the fron of the line and Max had his turn riding a pony named Minnie.

There was another line for the petting zoo so we decided to skip that. Max was happy to look at the animals from outside the fence but many of them still came over to him for a quick pet.

It was a beautiful day and a fun family outing.

​Fishing Trip

Geared Up!
Organizing the tackle

​The warm, sunny weather held into Monday so, after some errands in the morning, we went fishing in the afternoon. 

We started out at Bangs Lake which is ​close to our house but didn't get and action there. After an hour of no bites, we moved on to ​Lily Lake which is just a few miles away in the village of Lakemoor.

Max got plenty of bites and almost landed his first fish - it got off the work right at the waters edge. Still, it was a fun fishing trip.

I think Max enjoyed getting worms out of the carton as much as he enjoyed fishing with them!

​On Tuesday the temperature dropped and it rained most of the day. If this was the last summer like weekend of the year, it was a good one.

Added My Genealogy Posts to Winging It

I mentioned in the last post that I would be getting rid of my other web sites. My on;y problem with that is that I think there is some good stuff on those sites and  I hate to just let it go away.

As a solution, I am going to import my blog posts from the Great Genealogy Blog into this one. The genealogy site will be deleted to avoid duplicate content. Then I will review each of them and keep the ones I like the best. You will be able to see them by sorting for the category Genealogy.

Genealogy Catagory

​I will also go through my 3D printing blog and possibly add some posts from there.

Catching Up and Future Plans


Before I retired, I thought retirement would mean I had more time to pursue my own projects. In some ways that is true. I can now spend my time doing what I want to not what a "boss" tells me to. Still, I never have enough time to do everything I want to do.

This blog is a good example. I have had the best intentions about keeping it up and making regular entries. Obviously, that hasn't worked out for me. A big part of the reason is that I have five web sites to maintain. What that means for me is that none of them get the attention they deserve.

​Because I think Winging It is the most important of my web sites, I am going to concentrate on this one and eliminate the rest of them.

As the other sites expire, I will not be renewing the domain registration on them. For my genealogy and 3d printing sites, I will post my activities in those hobbies on this blog. I will also keep my Facebook pages devoted to those hobbies.

My marketing web sites will just go away. I am retired after all and I don't choose to keep promoting those sites.

So, here is a brief report on what I have been up to lately. Sort of a "how I spent my summer" report.

​Summer ​Catch Up

Max at Carnival

Our Grandson Max still stays with us two days a week and we love having him visit. We had several outings to carnivals and events with him this summer. He is four years old now and really keeps us going when he is here!

SS Badger

​In late June and early July, we took a road trip to Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana. We were celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary with this get-away.

We started out by driving north to Door County Wisconsin where we spent three days sight-seeing, shopping and eating out. We had to go to a fish boil and visit Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant.

From Door County, we drove to Manitowoc, Wisconsin to catch the SS Badger car ferry across Lake Michigan. ​In the ​more than twenty five years we have been going to Michigan, we had never gone by ferry so we wanted this experience. It is a four hour trip but a relaxing way to travel. We arrived in Ludington, Michigan in the evening and spent one night there.

​The next morning we drove north to Arcadia and checked into the Pleasant Valley Resort Motel. This place is a family tradition. Georgia stayed there several times as a child and her and I stay there every time we go to the area. It was our base for the next few days.

From Arcadia, we made day trips to ​Glen Lake, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Maple City (where Georgia's family is from), and generally exploring the area​. On one rainy day we even visited a casino.

On the 4th of July, we made our longest drive of the trip from Arcadia to Shipshewana​ in Indiana's Amish country. We stayed at the Farmstead Inn across from the huge Shipshewana Flea Market grounds.

The next day we went to the flea market for a day of shopping and lunch. That night we had dinner at the Blue Gate Restaurant.

​The next day was spent shopping in downtown Shipshewana and visiting some of the countryside. We had dinner at a local spot a friend recommended.

That night, we both got ill with what we assumed was food poisoning. In the morning, Georgia was feeling better but I was still pretty sick. We just stayed in the hotel all day while Georgia did some laundry from the trip. That night, Georgia was feeling sick again too.

​Out last destination of the trip was going to be Fort Wayne to do some genealogy research at the Allen County Library. Since we were both still sick, we debated about going there or going back home. In the end, we decided to go to Fort Wayne since it was a short drive. If we felt better we would go on with the research. If we didn't feel good, we could rest in the hotel. We were both sure we would be better soon.

We made a stop at the library but Georgia was getting pretty sick again and I was still feeling bad myself. We called the hotel and asked if we could check in early. They said it was OK so we did that.

The next morning, I was still feeling a little bad but I was OK to drive home. Georgia was still pretty sick. That drive back to Wauconda seemed like it would never end!

The day after we returned, I was doing a lot better but Georgia wasn't. Her doctor told her she should go to the emergency room so we went. She ended up being admitted to the hospital and was there for almost two weeks.

To top it all off, we learned that our credit card number had been stolen and several thousand dollars charged to it. MasterCard caught the fraud and, in the end, we didn't have to pay any of the charges. Still, it took ​almost two months to the investigation completed and a new card issued.

So, what started out as a great trip ended up a with a horrible last couple of days.

Oldest family members

​​My Grandmother's maiden name was Dearhamer and this summer, the Dearhamer family held a reunion ​in Bruce, Wisconsin. Georgia and I just had to go up there for it.

In preparation for the event, I put together two genealogy books for my great grandparents Charles Dearhamer and Chloe Weller​ who were married in 1904.

The reunion was held at Trails End Youth Camp in Bruce and was very well attended. It was great to see so many aunts, uncles and cousins gathered together.

We were only able to stay in Bruce for a couple days but it was a very nice visit.

​Besides these special events, we have made a couple short trips to Wisconsin Dells over the summer and one other trip to Michigan.

Georgia is on a planning committee for her 50th high school reunion which is coming up next year. We made the trip to Michigan so she could attend a committee meeting in person. For most of them, she is on a net meeting.

We took a couple extra days while we were there so we could visit family and friends in the area.

Now that summer is over, we are starting to make our fall and winter plans. I am going to try to stay up to date with this blog. Eliminating my other sites will be a big help I am sure.

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