Genealogy…One Of My Many Hats

Hello again!  I’ve come out of hibernation only to discover that I’ve slept through the warm part of winter… Oh well, time to get crackalackin’!

So, one of my many dorkalicious hobbies is…genealogy research!  Yes!!  I can’t get enough of it!  …actually I can get too much of it and have to take a break before I end up driving myself completely insane.

If you’ve ever done any sort of genealogy research, you know half of the fun of it is traipsing around in old cemeteries, trying to find the headstones of your loved ones.  Here’s some friendly advice.

  Things You Need Before Going Cemetery Stomping

  1.  Bug Spray…and lots of it.  Most cemeteries are kept up by volunteers.  Let’s just say that some cemeteries have great volunteers and others…not so great.  Like “pulling up weeds just to read tombstones” not so great.
  2. Shaving Cream and Spray Bottle – By using shaving cream, you can see all of the fine details that time has stripped away on a headstone.  All you have to do is wipe shaving cream on the stone and scrape it away.  You will be amazed by what is left in the crevices.  Amazed!  Some stones look like nothing is written.  Then miracle of miracles, words and symbols appear from nothing.  Magical!
  3. Camera –  Do I really need to explain this?  You don’t have to have a high dollar camera, but having a camera is important.  Headstones won’t last forever:(

And there you have it.  Bug Spray, Shaving Cream and Camera.  Viola!

One of my favorite tools to put in my travel bag is the book Stories In Stone by Douglas Keister.  Why you ask?  Headstones are full of symbols.  Symbols that I know nothing about.  Sometimes the symbols may be a group of letters, other times a few shapes or pictures, hands pointing up, fingers pointing down.  It was all kind of confusing.  Could I look them up on my smart phone in the middle of  Nowhereville USA…maybe, but most times there is absolutely no signal to do so.  For that reason, I have a copy of the book.  Anyway…Symbols… I was left saying, “What in tarnation?!”.

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One time in particular, I was looking at a headstone of a female relative and she had an anchor on the top of her stone.  I had no records of her being in the Navy and she lived nowhere near the ocean.  Clueless!  Then, I decided to look up what the symbol meant.  Apparently, having an anchor on a headstone can mean several different things.  After finding multiple possibilities, I’ve decided  the most logical definition was that she was the anchor of her family since she was a mother and ran her household.  We will never know for sure.

What to do now?  Get to diggin’!  You really never know what you will find until history is staring you in the face:)

Happy Hunting!,

That Book Mama

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Ivan, His Story Lives On

Talk to me about books for 5 minutes and I’ll probably tell you about my love for audio books.  Being a Mom and finding time to read as much as I want is a real challenge.  Like seriously…then insert audio books into the picture.  Long Commute + Audio Book = Happy Mama!

Now, I read all across the board.  Juvenile to YA to Adult books. However, in the summer, I have a copilot with me.  For this reason, book selections are taken from the juvenile section.  Not a problem at all!  This summer we’ve picked several great books and one of them was, The One And Only Ivan by:  Katherine Applegate.

photo 1 (18)Told through his point of view, Ivan tells the story of his life from inside the Exit 8 Big Top Mall.  Ivan has lived in the mall the majority of his life and his days are pretty much the same.  He has made friends with Stella the elephant and Bob, a stray dog.  Watching tv, talking to his friends and having people visit his cage is a normal daily routine, but then something magical happens.  Ivan discovers his love for drawing and painting.

Ivan is an artist.  He often wonders why people can’t figure out what he’s drawn.  Honestly, I’m sure lots of artists feel the exact same way.  When he isn’t drawing, he is talking to Stella.  He worries about her because she isn’t well.  They also can sense that something is about to change.  Then, in pops Ruby, the baby elephant.  I can just see her!  She asks a billion questions a minute and is totally adorable and innocent.

Even with the story having funny parts and the animals being such characters, there’s still a lesson to be learned.  Ivan is in an enclosure with no access to the outside world.  He’s been living in basically a box for years.  Stella is very sick and her owner seems not to care.  Bob was a puppy that was dumped and ended up at the mall.  It creates a ton of opportunity to talk to your child about proper animal care.  Great, great story!

After reading the Author’s Note at the end, we found out that the book was loosely based on a true story.  I then found the book, Ivan:  The Remarkable True Story Of The Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate.  It is a simple nonfiction book that tells Ivan’s story.

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Pick them both up!  You totally won’t regret it!

Enjoy!

That Book Mama

P.S. You may want to grab a tissue, just in case:)

Pink Princess…But Wait, There’s More

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I love, Love, LOVE, Shannon Hale!  Can I just be honest?  At first, I really didn’t like her newest book.  (gasp) …I know…but listen.  I’ve just finished The Princess In Black and I’ve now decided that it is a great book for beginning readers!  I think I was hoping for her normal, “can’t put it down, princess who don’t mess around” book.  When I really think about it though, this book is just that except on a lower reading level.  So, I stepped out of the box and took a second look at the book.  I’m glad I did because I will for sure recommend it frequently.

Princess Magnolia (dressed in all pink…of course) is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower, when she is called away to tend to some irritating monsters.  By secretly becoming “The Princess In Black”, Magnolia jumps on her faithful unicorn/horse in disguise Blacky and gallops away to fight off the monsters that are plaguing the kingdom.  While Magnolia is out fighting off monsters, Duchess Wigtower is convinced there is something suspicious going on.  With short chapters and vivid illustrations, this book is a great find for a beginner reader that is transitioning over into “the big stacks”.  I’m tellin’ ya though, once your reader hits about 5th grade reading level, pick up The Goose Girl and Princess Academy.  They are excellent choices!

Enjoy,

That Book Mama