Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sugar and Spice and... Saliva?

Let me start this post by saying that this is NOT an ad or a sponsored post in any way.  I don't do those.  These are my thoughts alone.

I mentioned here a while back that there were some really cool things happening in our family.  And when I said really cool, I meant really cool.  I had looked forward to blogging about all of this for a long time - like for over two years - but I've decided that because there are some very sensitive people in the mix, it's probably best that I don't.  It's not worth risking hurt feelings.

But I'll tell you this.  It involves my hubby learning he has a ton of family he didn't previously know about.  And finding this out when one is in his early 40s is enough to knock one's socks off!  Let's just leave it at that, shall we?

This has been an incredible thing to watch unfold.  It could have gone terribly wrong, but it went incredibly right, and the benefits of taking the risk and making contact have been immense.  Bigger and better than we could have ever imagined.

But it got us thinking - do most of us really have an idea about our roots?  Do we really know where we came from?  I've always known that I am part Cherokee and that I have some Irish, too.  But how much?  I have no idea.  Hubby always told me he was, in large part, German.  Now that we found out about all this new family, we were dying to know what else might be in his blood.

I was delighted to learn that Ancestry offers a really simple service for this.  You pay them $99, spit in a tube, mail it off, and they send you their best guess as to your genetic roots!  How cool is that?!  We invested in a kit for hubby.  He sent off the sample and prepared to wait the 6-8 weeks that were indicated in the instructions.  Imagine our shock when his results came back 8 days after they received the kit!

Turns out hubby is, according to Ancestry anyway:



Wait, what?  I don't see German on that list (unless it's considered Southern European??).  When we received these results, we were both blown away.  WOW, almost 80% of his background is in that one relatively small area in Northern Europe.  Crazy.  

Truth be told, I had wanted to do the DNA thing myself for a long time.  But with all the new discoveries about his background, I decided he should go first.  (I couldn't bring myself to spend $200 on this at once.)  But seeing his results only intensified my wish to have my own DNA done.  So the next time there was a sale, I jumped at the chance and bought my own kit.

Naturally, mine took longer to come back than his did.  I think they must have known I was waiting and that I am not the patient one in our house!  The results did eventually return.  Remember that Cherokee and Irish??


Blown away once more.  No Cherokee - or other Native American - to be found and only 22% Irish!  Wow!  I didn't know about ANY Scandinavian background at all and definitely no Italian or Greek either.  It's fair to say I was completely geeked out when I got this email.  I was so surprised at the absence of Cherokee that I actually called Ancestry just to ask if there was a chance of a mixup or something.  The guy on the other end of the phone - who was American, by the way - told me that Native American DNA is sometimes a little bit 'off' on these tests.  He used the example of two full siblings who should have the same amount of Native blood.  One sibling's test might say 25% and the other might say 10%.  He also told me that anything under 7% sometimes won't show up at all.  So that's also a possibility.

Cool sidenote, he also told me that Ancestry is constantly improving the way they run this test, so every time they make a new version, they re-run your raw DNA data and send you revised results.  I already got one set that was slightly more targeted than the first.  Pretty nifty.

Now, I know what the cynical side of your brain is saying.  "You can't possibly know if this test is accurate.  You can't expect much from a $99 DNA test."  Yes, I know this.  It's not as if I'm changing the course of my life based on what this test says.  I just find it fascinating.  And, for fun as funds allow, I hope to buy these tests for a few target relatives, like my grandmother.  It would be amazing to see what hers says, since her father was the one who was half (or more?) Cherokee.

I'm posting this now, in the middle of November, even though I began writing it in late August... just before my life turned upside down.  Holy moly, there've been some changes!!  I'll start on that post next.  I might just have it posted by spring.

PS, anyone have suggestions for getting a three year old to spit in a tube for a DNA test?  Ha!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Time for Some Randomness

I'm just going to put a few things out there into the universe.

First...

I can't stand it when people breed animals, especially puppies, for money.  As in, for a source of income.  It makes me crazy.  And sad.  And irritated.


Why?  Why would you intentionally create more dogs and cats when the Humane Society of the United States estimates that 3-4 million are euthanized per year?  That's somewhere between 165 and 220 dogs and cats euthanized every day, in every state in our country.  And let's not even start on the number beyond that who are abused, neglected, used for fighting... it just makes my heart sick.  Why would you deliberately contribute to this problem just so you can make a few extra bucks?

I was asked a while back to share a Facebook post from a friend who was trying to sell puppies.  I thought it must be an accidental litter or... something.  It wasn't.  He bragged to me privately how much money he was making off these puppies.  I didn't share the post and I unfriended the person.  (This was not someone I was very close to in real life.)

I've seen people who breed for money scrimp on things like vaccinations, checkups, deworming treatments, food supplements... and even worse, they have virtually no incentive to screen new owners for the animals.  After all, they make the same amount of money no matter who they sell to.  Unsavory people buying puppies from Craigslist or the backs of pickups for $500 apiece can abuse and neglect to their hearts' content.  When they get caught, the animals end up in shelters and often euthanized.

It just makes me nauseous.  So please, don't do it.  Or you owe me a box of Tums.

So there.

*  *  *

On another note, I miss birthday surprises.

Not gifts.

Surprises.

I started writing about this on my birthday.  Which may or may not have been over a month ago, but hey, I'm just not as prolific a writer as I used to be.  I write a lot in my head.  Less than 1% of it makes it out of my head.  I need to get better about this.

Anyhow, I used to think I wanted presents for my birthday.  I probably did.  But in the last few years, I've realized it's not the presents I really long for.  It's the surprises.

When I was a kid, my parents threw me great parties.  They weren't necessarily extravagant, but I never wanted that anyway, so it was perfect.  My gifts were always big surprises.  Again, not expensive, but they didn't need to be, because the buildup was huge and the surprise was always worth it.

I remember my first bicycle.  It was purple with a white banana seat with a flower print on it.  It had a white wanna-be-wicker basket on the front with plastic flowers on the front.  And the little streamers coming out the handlebars.  I was just about the most excited kid on the planet when I laid eyes on it, because I had no idea it was coming.

I guess I'm that person who loves surprises.

And I miss them.

Don't get me wrong, I always get taken care of on my birthday (and at Christmas, and lots of other special times too).  But there aren't usually surprises in the mix anymore.

And I miss them.

But there's good news.  Ever since I became a parent, my memory has been fairly poor.  I forget where I put things and I forget appointments and people's phone numbers.

So the good news is, I can start engineering my own surprises any day now.  It's going to be awesome.