Thursday, February 26, 2009

Donuts with Dad

Today, Josie's preschool has their annual 'Donuts with Dad' breakfast. From 8:30-9:00 AM they will share breakfast with all the other kids and their Dads (or Grandparents, Mom, etc). Josie was very excited. Last night she practiced introducing her Dad to her friends... "Emma, this is my Dad. His name is James." She also practiced shaking hands and saying "It's very nice to meet you."

Josie will soon be 4 years old. It is amazing to see the changes in her over the past year. She totally cracks us up. She sits at the dinner table and starts off with "So, Dad, how was your day?" She talks with her hands, which is incredibly funny to watch. Her two favorite things to say are "I'm just kidding!" and "Are you joking me?!"

The other night, James tripped over a pair of Josie's shoes (which are EVERYWHERE!) and yelled, "Josephine, pick up your shoes!" She responded, "Dad, I'm just a little kid, you don't have to yell!" Looks like I have a handful with that one!

Maddie is in her third day of conditioning in preparation for soccer try-outs next week. She has come home each night with bruises and muscle aches. She does her homework, takes a hot bath with epsom salt and goes to bed. At least she's not on the computer all night...! She is happy though. Quite a few of her girlfriends are trying out for the team, so she's really looking forward to playing. I'm pretty confident she'll make the team. She's been playing soccer since she was 5 years old. Maddie has a March birthday, like Josie. So, she'll be turning 15. I have no idea where the time has gone. She now towers over me, constantly calls me 'shawty' and when she's aggravated with me she says "yes, Mother". Arggggg! I feel old!

Until next time...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Winter Formal and A Baby Shower

Our dreary winter weekend was brightened substantially by two wonderful events. On Saturday morning, my friend Sharon and I hosted a baby shower for two of our preschool Moms. Both Moms are having their third child - and both are due on April 10th! Patty will be having her third daughter and Rebecca will be having her second son. It was very easy to tell which presents belong to each of the girls, as we all color-coded our gifts with the traditional pink & blue.

The baby shower was, by far, the most wonderful event we've had in this house. As I have stated before, the preschool Moms are an incredible group. They are so relaxed, friendly, and talkative... our time together as a group always goes by quickly. As far as hosting went, that too was a joy. Sharon wrote the invitations, coordinated who would bring what dishes, and kept the RSVP list. All I had to do was make sure the house was clean, the dogs were locked away, and that we had extra champagne on hand. What could be easier?! Here's what the table looked like once everyone brought their dishes:

Here's Rebecca opening one present: a hand made set of baby booties and hat.

Here's Patty with a gift from Joseph's Mom, Patricia:

And, Here's both of the girls enjoying the bounty:

It really was a lovely morning with the ladies. As the last of the dishes was being cleared, James returned home with the girls. He had taken them out to "look" at car and ended up purchasing a BMW convertible!! This will be Maddie's car when she starts driving next year. Until then, her Dad will road-test it! (But, more on that in the next post...) I finished the clean-up with the help of Sharon and Jamie - and hightailed it with Maddie to the hair salon. She was getting primped for her first High School formal - the Winter Formal.

Maddie's friend, Alex, arrived around 5 and then I took the girls to another friend's house. The girls were joining a larger group for dinner before the dance. Maddie looked just lovely in the dress that her Grandmom selected for her:

(Maddie on the left, Alex on the right)

And, of course, no photo session is complete without Josie getting in on the act! So, here's Josie with the girls before their departure:

It was a wonderful, stress-free Saturday. I wish all days would go so smoothly and be so enjoyable!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Exploring the Past

I have been quite busy. since the New Year, with a new project. I was quite intrigued late last year when my dear friend, Marty, told me about her new found hobby of genealogy research. I knew that one of my uncles, Joe, was a genealogy buff and had done research on part of our family tree. My Aunt Kathleen, Joe's wife, died in 2001, so I never saw the product of that research.

Most of my family history has been dispensed in short, verbal clips. A story here or there about a grandparent I didn't know and such. I remember some of those stories, but some are starting to fade. I decided to follow Marty's lead and investigate, to the best of my ability, both the maternal & paternal sides of my family tree. I hope that my research will provide enough material to produce a small book for my nieces and nephews - so that they won't have to rely on my memory (or my siblings' memories) for clues to their past.

I should begin with a short explanation. Both my parents come from unconventional family backgrounds. My father was raised by a single parent, my Grandmom Kathleen. His older brothers were also responsible for his care, as my Grandmom always worked, and worked hard, to provide for her 5 children. My Dad has only fleeting memories of his own father, and has no interest in learning more about the man.

My Mom, Barbara, was born and raised in Quebec, Canada. She was one of two daughters. Her father was 53 years old when she was born. She never had a good relationship with her mother. She left Canada in her early 20's to marry my Dad. They made their home in Philadelphia, where my siblings and I were born. We took trips up to Canada to visit my Mom's family on a yearly basis until her Dad died. One visit, in 1974, was our last. I knew as little about her family as I did about my Dad's.

I always believed that our ancestry was Irish, at least on my Dad's side. My Mom wasn't sure about her own parents, except that her Dad had emigrated to Canada from England. I had few clues to work with, but it was my Mom's side of the family that produced the largest amount of traceable leads.

My maternal Grandfather, Edward, emigrated to Canada from Cotishall, Norfolk, England. He was a decorated solider in World War 1. I was able to trace his ancestors back to the late 1700's in Kilmarock, Aryshire, Scotland. The trail goes cold there. That ancestor, Hamilton, would have been my great, great grandfather. My Grandfather was one of 10 children. His father and brothers were 'wherrymen' who worked the barges on the rivers surrounding Norfolk, England.

My maternal Grandmother, Margaret, came from a long line of Murphy's. They were members of the first English speaking parish founded in Quebec, St. Patricks. As you can tell by the name, the parish was founded by Irish immigrants. The Canadian government did not hold official vital statistic documents until the late 20th century. The church was responsible for those documents - and the Canadian government has done an excellent job of indexing and photocopying those records and making them available on-line. I was able to trace my Mother's ancestors back to my Great, great, great, great grandfather, Patrick, who emigrated from Ireland to Canada sometime in the early 1800's. Those ancestors were 'cordonniers' - shoemakers - for at least 3 generations.

I'm hoping that now that I have the lineage down, I can fill in the blanks with historic photos and records. This will no doubt be a challenge, as my ancestors were regular working folk.

My Dad's side of the family remains a mystery. I have located and sent away to Sheffield, Yorkshire, England for my paternal Grandmother's birth certificate. I'm hoping this gives me some clues as to where to hunt down her family. I do know that my Grandmother had 3 sisters and 3 brothers. Her father and brothers all worked in the 'mills'. First, the paper mill then the steel mill. An entry in the 1930 US census, recorded when my grandmother and grandfather lived in Philadelphia, lists her father as being 'English' and her mother as being from the 'Irish Free State'. Those are the only clues I have thus far. I was able to find the record of her emigration from England in 1921. She was only 15 years old when she arrived in Philadelphia.

As far as my paternal grandfather goes, we know only that he was a carpenter from Culdaff, Donegal, Ireland. My Uncle Phil visited with some family members in Ireland in the 1980's. I don't know how much information he has regarding the lineage. I do know that my ancestors have run a tavern in Donegal for a few generations. My Dad does not have high hopes for me in turning up much more... we will have to see.

In addition to taking on this research, I've been working on producing my 2008 family scrapbook. I have gone digital, using the iBook feature inside of iPhoto, to create this years book. While I did enjoy going to crops and spending time with my scrapping friends, I was getting too far behind. I was focusing more on the look of the pages than I was in journaling and recording facts for the girls. It's important to me that they be able to look back and see how much they weighed when they were 3 years old, or what they were for Halloween on a given year.

That's what's been going on here. All this stuff has been squeezed in while Josie has been down with a cold, which seems might be turning into strep throat. We'll find out today when she visits her doctor. Maddie has to have a sports physical tomorrow afternoon. She will be trying out for her high school soccer team starting March 2nd. We're still trying to figure out the logistics of picking her up from practice... her school is 25 miles away from our home. And finally, icing on the cake this week... I was eating a bagel on Sunday morning and cracked a relatively new (Sept 07) crown on one of my teeth. Had to listen to my dentist bitch me out for 10 minutes yesterday... ("What are you doing to break a porcelain crown?"). Like anyone would intentionally break a tooth that cost $1500! Jerk! Alright, enough from me for now. Have a wonderful week.....