Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today seems like a good day for...

  • Leisurely sipping a few cups of coffee in my bathrobe.
  • A long lunch with one of my favorite people.
  • A walk or other workout.
  • Genealogy research.
  • A nap.
  • Some writing.

Hmm...where to start? So many choices, so little time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spring break at last!

Thanks to the genius behind the alternative school calendar (aka year round school), I am enjoying a two week long spring break. I must have blacked out briefly last week when I was asked to teach a few days of our intersession remediation program and I agreed. I can't imagine another reason I would have said yes other than loss of consciousness, or perhaps the influence of hallucinogenic drugs. However, that commitment has ended and the rest of my break is MINE. Well, as much as anything in my life can be...

Today, I am taking Audrey to the opthamologist and, of course, Target. We're getting geared up for a short family trip to the redneck mecca that is Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We'll leave tomorrow after A's dentist appointment. The boys are so pumped up because the hotel has an indoor pool. That was really their main (only) criteria. As much as John hates Pigeon Forge-- he has serious post-traumatic stress induced by horrible family vacations from his childhood where he wanted to play putt-putt but all they did was shop-- it was his suggestion. I prefer to vacation in more urban environments. I was thinking Nashville or Indianapolis. In the end, we went with Pigeon Forge because Dollywood is opening this weekend.

So, readers, you'll be treated with new pictures soon. You know, the ones where everyone but me looks like they are having fun, and I just really look like I need a drink. Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More finds...

I've been a little obsessed with my genealogy research lately. I've mapped out my family and John's family and been able to get pretty far back with both. I've hit a couple of brick walls (the Cox family, my grandmother's people, seemed to have simply appeared in the late 1800s!) but I'm working on it.

Still, by far, the most fascinating thing I've encountered is the mystery of my great-grandmother Ina's children. I've pieced it together with birth and death records and created a timeline. She was married in 1915, and the babies started coming shortly thereafter. Here's a list of what I've found:

  • Stillborn male (prolapsed cord) 27 May 1916 (Never mentioned before)

  • Denzil -12 Sept 1917 (I knew him. He died in 1992.)

  • Lenville -12 Oct 1919- 11 April 1921 (This was while they were gone from Elliot County to Ohio. I had never heard him mentioned, but his birth/death was recorded in a family Bible. )

  • Geneva- 19 June 1922 (Mamaw)

  • Vernal -25 July 1924 (Stillborn, premature birth, never mentioned)

  • Guy Wendell -8 July 1925 (He passed away a year or two ago.)

  • Loretta- 6 Oct 1928 (My favorite great aunt...with a mouth like a sailor.)

  • JB and Fred (TWINS...HELLO!!! Could someone have mentioned this sooner???) 8 Nov 1930. JB (aka Jasper, Jack, or Jacques) was Mom's favorite uncle. A seriously flamboyant fellow...passed away in 2002. Fred....who knows??? I just know he was born.

  • Willard- 19 Oct 1932 (birth records)- 11 Nov 1935 (in the family Bible, but never mentioned)

  • Stillborn male -30 March 1935 (never mentioned)

  • Annette- May 1936

My mother has still not mentioned this to my grandmother, but we're hoping that she'll be able to talk a little about it. I had hoped to find the cemetery where the babies were buried according to the death records, but my father doubts that is possible. They had tried to find it in the past, but it was in a very rural area and had been over taken with weeds.

My dad shared an interesting story about his grandmother's death. He found her dead when he was five or six years old. They had all been to the garden to pick beans and when they returned, she was lying on the porch. She had been in the porch swing and had a heart attack.

I am just fascinated with all of this. I really want to find out more. I'm hoping to be able to locate more pictures and attach names to the faces. I think that will help me settle some of the stories brewing in my brain! In the meantime, here is a picture of my great-grandparents, Oscar and Ina.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Before I had children (BC), I started researching my ancestry. I found that much had been documented on the DeHarts, my mother's father's family. They came from Holland in the 1600's to flee religious persecution, and they were early prominent land owners in Brooklyn, NY. Very cool!

On my mother's maternal side, the Clevengers, there wasn't a whole lot of documented research. I began digging through online databases of birth, death, and census records. Those are pretty fascinating to examine. There were boxes you could check if someone was deaf, dumb, blind, idiot, or insane. The casualness of that language amazes me. We live in such a politically correct society that there are special terms for everything!

Anyway, I found record that indicate that my grandmother had several (at the very least four, possibly six or more!!!) brothers that were born but never reached adulthood. This is in addition to the six children that did survive. Some of these mystery siblings were stillborn, others died in childhood, others, I can't quite figure out. As close as I am to my grandmother, and as many "family history projects" I did with her growing up, I had never heard of these people. I talked with my mother about it, and she does recall the mention of one, and a family Bible she has shows a couple more, but there are still more to unravel.

This has really sparked something inside me. I am just fascinated by the idea that babies just sort of came and went. Now, I know this was the 1910's, 20's, and 30's, but still....it amazes me. They were home births, possibly with a midwife, or even unaided. I just want to know what happened. Were they ill? Was there some kind of birth defect? Prematurity? My mind swirls with the possibilities. And how did she, my great grandmother, Ina, feel about this? Did she mourn every baby or was she secretly relieved that there wasn't going to be another mouth to feed? I have some pictures of her, and she's such a stout, stern looking woman. My grandmother is still alive and probably can tell me some things, but her mental state isn't always stable. I want to seive through more pictures, visit the family home place and cemeteries this spring and investigate further. I feel like there's a story to tell...finally!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Gibbly's World

My new nickname is Mrs. Gibbly. That's what my dear student M. calls me now. Isn't that awful? Oh, well. I guess it's a term of endearment. Here's what's shaking in my world...
  • Audrey puked on the way out the door this morning. I thought she was faking. John accused her of gagging herself. Turns out, she has strep. We're parents of the year.
  • Spring break is coming soon. But not soon enough! We have to slog through the next four days before we are rewarded with the freedom of break.
  • My plans for my first day of Spring Break---a colonoscopy. Beat that.
  • I've embarked on a research project of my mother's family, the DeHarts. So far, I have learned some interesting things. We have Baptist ministers and moonshiners in the lineage. Woohoo! Details to come!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Who has time?

Today's descent into madness began very innocently. John and I were having an interesting conversation at the dinner table tonight. First, let me preface this by saying we were the only people left at the dinner table at this point. The kids were running amok in the kitchen. Jack had a pair of Audrey's panties (?) and she was chasing him and Sam was whining about, well, I don't really know what. Anyway, we were trying to have an adult conversation, which, at this point, might be considered an Olympic sport. It ain't easy, people.

We were conversing about some people we know who have in essence, no real responsibilities. One had been to the chiropractor in the middle of the workday. One has a job that has no real positive impact on the world yet is paid a ridiculous amount of money. One has time in his/her life to workout, take long lunches, and a whole bunch of other stuff that might be a little too personal for me to share on this public forum.

"WHAT DO THESE PEOPLE DO ALL DAY? They have time to see a chiropractor, a therapist, go to the gym, tan, shop, freakin' eat LUNCH???? I go to work at 7 in the morning, leave at 5 in the evening, run home, fix dinner, clean it up, do the night time ritual, and fall into bed. I practically have to be on my deathbed before I go to a doctor, forget the chiropractor!!!!!"
John kind of looked at me funny. I guess I said it with a little more fire than I realized. Then, he high fived me. He's learning to just agree after ten years of similar outbursts.

Now, I'm really and truly not complaining about my life. I love it. Honest. But sometimes I wish I had a little more leisure time and a lot fewer demands on my time. I would love to linger over lunch rather than gulp down my Lean Cuisine in 20 minutes. I loathe doctor's appointments because they require me to ask the dragon lady for a sub, and then prepare for a sub only to come back to find that the sub did nothing I asked and left my room trashed. Last time I went to the chiropractor (umm...November???) I had to leave in the middle of my treatment to go pick up my kids. And the gym? Yes, I have driven past it. That's about it.

On the flip side, I started thinking about the reality of what I actually DO accomplish with my day. I read these magazine articles about women who come home after a long day at the office and work out for 120 minutes a day, then prepare yummy healthy meals that even their children enjoy. Others do fantastic volunteer work in their communities. Some work two jobs and raise these awesome children with fantastic values who go to Harvard. Some make homemade laundry detergent and granola and organic baby food and cloth diaper their children.

I feel like such a slacker. Such an impostor. I don't have enought time in my life to do anything more than work and shabbily tend to my children. Yet, what time I DO have I don't spend well. Sigh.

Monday, March 1, 2010


So, I stagger in after work on Thursday and flop in the recliner. I was fighting a cold and just worn out. The kids are playing nicely (ha) and I'm vegetating, when I start to hear this awful sound. A cross between a meow and a cry. I assume it is our pet-stray cat we've named Kingy, and he/she's hurt, so I begin pacing from window to window to find him/her. (Kingy is only our cat in the sense that we feed him/her. He/she was left behind when our former neighbors moved away.)

Jack and I explore around and find nothing, so back to the recliner I go. Audrey is freaking out because she can hear this terrible noise and she knows that a cat is IN THE HOUSE, which is not good, since she is terrified of anything bearing fur. I reassure her that there is no cat in the house, and then, all of a sudden, SOMETHING bangs up against the HVAC return vent. SOMETHING is in there.

"Okay, kids, grab your shoes and coats. We're going to the car," I pronounce bravely. My mind is not so calm. Holy cow! What the heck is in there? A skunk? A racoon? And where's John? Why won't he answer his phone?

My kids are absolutely silent in the car as we wait patiently for John to arrive home. He does, half an hour later. When he sees us bundled up and waiting in the van, I reveal that we have a critter somewhere in the duct work. He and I venture back in the house, John with a shovel in hand (?!?) and are greeted by a lovely aroma. At first, I think skunk. But, as I am able to tolerate it for more than ten seconds, I realize that it is not skunk. It is, in fact, cat pee.

The smell is overpowering. We don't know where this animal is, and we know that there is no way Audrey Gilbert will sleep in this house tonight. We pack up the essentials and head west to the Holiday Inn Express for a fun filled mini-vacation. The kids love it. I am stressed to the max and crabby beyond description. A Wal-Mart run to grab a few forgotten essentials soothes me somewhat, but still, I am thinking, "THIS is my life? For real?"

I can reflect on this now without losing my cool because the house smells okay again, a the cat was caught (and released), and the exterior vent he/she used to enter in has been sealed. All in all, it was just another typical day at the Gilbert house.