Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Century Old Mystery

First, I am so sorry I have been absent for so long. With having to recite Proverbs in order for David to write out his sentences, his suspension and spring break along with other stuff I have had very little time to read or write blogs. Also slowing me down is lack of sleep due to seasonal allergies and the meds that help me make it through the day without sneezing my head off.

During one of the middle of the night can't-breathe-or-think nights I did a quick search on Imagine my surprise when I solved a century old mystery!
When I began my family research before David was born my great uncle Russ wrote me a letter explaining that his father Stephen was born in 1888 and gave me the names of his parents, but that was all that was known about that side of the family.

Reading a Letter
Stephen's parents split and his mother took him to live with her father. His mother then went to another state, married and started another family. That was the last that any of us heard from Stephen's mother or father. It is quite a sad tale.

My search pulled up two family trees. One was a tree I have seen before through Stephen's wife and found it very faulty since there are no sources cited and there are many errors. One such error is a man that died in 1862 and the next life event listed for him shows his baptism in 1979. I certainly hope that he was not exhumed in order to baptize him.

The second record solved not only my own mystery but also the mystery for another person. In 1968, Stephen's father's daughter-in-law wrote a letter. This letter interviewed a minister that knew the father well and the family history. Stephen's father had four families—the first two marriages ended when the wives died and were laid to rest next to each other. The third marriage was to Stephen's mother and a quote from the statement caught my interest:

The third time Isaac married Ollie from Appalachia, VA. She loved horseback riding and took no interest in housekeeping, nor in rearing the children of the former wives. He was a man of great farming interests and logging—delivered the logs down the Clinch River into Chattanooga, TN. Therefore, when their only child, Stephen, was very small he was sent back to her parents' home in Wise County, VA. No communication was made between her and the Williams family ever again. They never knew the son she reared.

Stephen's father would then go on to marry happily again.

I immediately wrote to the other family tree holder. His mother would have been my grandfather's cousin. She is in her 80s and she can't wait to meet us. She had given up hope of ever finding out what happened to Stephen and his family. I am glad that I could answer her questions.

In another quirk of fate, Stephen worked in a coal mine that they also had other family members work at over time. They had just been to that exact coal mine last month on a research trip.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Foolish Little Man

Last week I shared how David was having to write sentences in order to get him to listen better. His listening has gotten a bit better, but his behavior is still not up to what it should be.

Even though this is spring break we can't let this area slide and let him just have fun so I have changed what he is to write. Last week it was directions, but this week I began him at Proverbs 1:2. He must listen then write down what I say. I am quoting just a section of the verse, but at the end of the passage he must read back to me what he wrote. This has caused him some concern as he can't always read what he wrote. If it is wrong he must rewrite the verse.

Since so much of Proverbs deals with the wise versus the foolish man I thought that would be the perfect place to begin. As we are going along I am explaining what the verse means so that he also gets the concept.

It is not the spring break that I had envisioned. I had planned on taking him to the Y's pool but since he busted his knee I can't do that. It has been rainy and not so nice outside, but since we do need the rain I'm not complaining.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Lesson in Listening

David is in trouble at school again! He has a three-day suspension. I could almost see it coming, but it wasn’t until today (the second day of the suspension) that I think I know why he’s having such a problem. He isn’t listening. I gave him several easy chores with one- or two-step directives to complete. However, I found that either the steps were not followed in the order I gave them or they were skipped altogether.

So we went over the chore directives and I explained what he didn’t do correctly. David thinks that when he is told that he is to clean out the grill he knows how, because he wants to do it his way. The problem is that when he is finished, his way is not correct. A case in point is when he was to clean out the grill and cover it from our weekend barbecue. He cleaned it out and left the bag of ashes on the grill, the lid left up and the cover on the ground. All these issues had been addressed with the directions. But his mind shuts off after he gets the general concept. This is happening in the classroom when he is given work and then doesn’t listen to hear what the directions are. He then gets upset and angry when the adult tells him he hasn’t gotten it right.

Even though many tell me this is a normal stage in a teen’s life David takes everything to extreme. So I usually have to take my correction to the extreme also to get the point across. After verbally talking to him about the issue and what needs to be done, it has continued. I am now having him sit down every hour with a notebook and I will give him 10 directives. David will have to write exactly what I say without me repeating it. If he missed it, I will say it one more time and he must rewrite it. David really doesn’t like to write so this is also helping with his handwriting skills. I have explained that this exercise in listening will continue until he can consistantly follow the directions we give him the very first time.

This will seriously cut into his fun time until he begins to listen.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Capitol

The Capitol Building with cherry trees
We arrived at the Capital building and had just a few minutes before our tour began. We began the tour with a film that explained the history of the building and the laws that were passed to change the course of our nation.
One of the statues in the Capitol Building
We had a wonderful tour guide who escorted us through the public areas of the building. The beauty of the building can not be described. There was a purpose and meaning behind all the craftmanship that is displayed. The kids were amazed by the fact that the mural on the ceiling was done with the ceiling in place and the artist had to paint from scaffolding. The painting is of George Washington surrounded by 13 maidens. The sheer weight of the dome as we stood directly under it caused some worried looks—8,909,200 pounds of cast iron. With all this work ceing done long before the mammoth construction trucks we have today.
George Washington and maidens - the Capitol Dome
As I gazed around the rooms we passed through it brought a deep sense of pride in being an American. It also made me wonder what the building would look like if it were designed today. Would we have spent so much time and effort on conveying who we are and ensuring the building would be survive for many generations?
David in front of the Capitol Building
After the tour we walked past the Supreme Court and we had around an hour and a half to see the sights on our own. Of course, David wanted to head over to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum. This is always David's favorite place to visit when he is in Washington.
One of the Capitol Building skylights
The bus ride back was very long, in fact we arrive back at the school an hour and a half late.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Boys on the Bus

After a very hectic week of doctor’s appointments—three to be exact—babysitting, house cleaning and prep for our field trip we were ready to roll. We were glad that David’s doctor said he no longer needed to be on crutches. His bedroom lamp was a casualty of a crutch gone astray. The gaping hole in his knee will still take several weeks to heal over. Of course it doesn’t help that he keeps sliding on his knees and reopening the wound. So he had an all-clear for his field trip.

Robert E. Lee House at Arlington Cemetery
So Friday morning I headed out in the pre-dawn hours at the back of a bus filled with 75 thirteen year-old BOYS. There were just two other moms on the bus and they sat in the first rows away from the fray. We had a total of 300 eighth graders heading to see the nation’s capital—two buses of girls and two buses of boys. You wanna bet the person who organized the bus arrangements was on a girls’ bus.

I was amazed at the number of kids who had MP3 players and cell phones, but few had an actual camera. The kids borrowed and tossed their expensive electronics with no regard to how much their parents had spent on them. I allowed David to use my MP3 player on the drive up. Yes, I have one, and no, he doesn’t. He had one and can’t find it so until he can save up the money he will not be receiving another one. The music kept David quiet and content for a good part of the trip. When we got very close he started his seat jumping and I was left all alone.

One of the guards at
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
We arrived at Arlington Cemetery and began the long uphill trek to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was a rough walk because David flips from walking slowly to an almost outright jog up the hill. We stood and watched as the soldiers placed a wreath at the tomb. Years ago there was much more gun twirling than they had on this visit. We were very sad to not see the guns being thrown from one soldier to the other in such crisp movements. But David was impressed anyway.

On our way back down to meet the bus David was running to catch up with a friend. I had just yelled “don’t run” when, splat! David had gone off the sidewalk and slipped in the mud. It had been raining lightly all morning. When David got up his school uniform was a mess—the shirttail, both sleeves, pants and my backpack were covered in a wet mushy mess. Luckily one of the teachers chaperoning the trip was kind enough to loan David an extra shirt he had brought. Of course, this made David stand out since he was the only student not in his school uniform. Only my son!

Cherry blossoms
All boys on board and we headed to the Capital building. The drive over was beautiful. This was the day before the Cherry Blossom Festival and the trees were in full bloom. If you don’t know the history of these unusual trees, it really is interesting, Three thousand flowering cherry trees were a gift from the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912 honoring the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan. In 1981 Washington was able to repay the Japanese kindness when cuttings from our trees were sent to replace some cherry trees in Japan which had been destroyed in a flood.

I will share our experience at the Capital tomorrow.