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Wednesday, October 30

Starting Genealogy - My October Project

Not to get into too many details, but cancer sucks.  It has stabbed at our family over this past year.  As my grandmother lay in her bed, a priest came to visit her from the nearby Catholic church.  He administered last rites and gave her communion, which she mustered all her strength to partake in.  I could see her spirit lighten.

As I sat beside her and visited with her children for a few days, I realized that I have so many questions for her.  I wanted to hear the story of how she met my grandfather.  I wanted her to tell me about the neighborhood she grew up in.  I wanted to know about my grandfather (who passed when I was only 2 years old) and his time in the service. 

My eldest aunt was rumored to have been a bit of a genealogist, but she had only done our current family (which I admit is extensive).  I asked around and found a copy of my great-grandfather's journal.  He had, at 83 years old, sat at a typewriter and wrote until he couldn't remember anymore.  Out of curiosity, I Googled the oldest relative that he had recorded in his journal and struck gold. Harvard Press had, in 1905, published a book all about the history of my family name.

The best part was that it was available as a free E-book.  Papa J loaded it on my Nook and I have been pouring over it.  I signed up with and started etching out as much information as I could piece together from it in collaboration with my great-grandfather's journal. 

Friday, I am taking Papa J's grandmother and grandfather out to dinner and to talk about their family tree.  I was brainstorming about how to get as much quality information as possible, when I came across a suggested questionnaire online.  More than simply tracing names, it suggests asking the family member you're interviewing about things like childhood chores, where they went to school, how they celebrated the holidays, etc.  The list is transcribed from V. Allee's 1978 article (in Family Heritage Magazine), "A Family History Questionaire" and can be found HERE.

Some Sample Questions...

I am truly looking forward to the dinner and a chance to sit with Papa J's grandmother and talk about her past.  Even more so, I'm eager to sit with her on the kitchen floor, doing shots of vodka and looking through photo albums.  That day will soon come.  

Tuesday, October 29

Hunting for Witches in your Family Tree

For the month of October, Mama Stacey has been working on genealogy.  Prompted by family deaths and illnesses this year, I began to research my grandmother's family.  Turns out that they're pretty prominent throughout European history and I am happy that I will get to share my findings with my children one day.

I have traced myself back to a man named Matthias Button, who was embroiled in one of the earliest witch trials in America.  He was a witness against a vagrant named John Godfrey, who was tried several times for witchcraft in Massachusetts.  Godfrey later took vengeance on my ancestor by burning down his home and killing his wife.

Pentucket, later Haverhill

When I retold the story to Papa J, he encouraged me to research his Italian grandfather's family line as he was fairly certain that he'd heard rumors of Romani blood in his family when he was younger.  I am looking forward to meeting with his grandmother later this week to look through photos and try to get as much information as I can from her.  

In the American version of the popular British television show, "Who Do You Think You Are?", Sarah Jessica Parker discovered that her ancestor had been accused of witchcraft, but thankfully released before being executed.

Have you ever delved into your ancestry?  Has it ever crossed your mind that you may be descendant from someone accused of witchcraft?  Millions around the globe were from the late 1500s into the early 1900s.  Of course their were infamous surges, the Salem Witch Trials here in America and the Trier Witch Trials in Germany, amongst others.  Records were kept and many of them are searchable. 

If you are curious, American Ancestors has an article which lists web and real-world resources for your to peruse.  Hunting for Salem "Witches" in Your Family Tree, by Maureen Taylor.
Here is a collection of links to resources, should you want to take a peek.  These links are gathered with the help of and Google.

Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive & Transcription Project - Scanned and transcribed documents from the trials, historical maps of Salem, transcribed diaries, etc.  It has a list of accusations and profiles of notable people during the hysteria. 

Witches in Colonial America - An article put out by ProGenealogists of  This lists all of the names of accused witches in New England and documented outcomes.  

Genealogy of Witch Trial Ancestors & Families - Hosted by RootsWeb/, this offers the genealogy of several accused witches in Massachusetts, USA.  

Essex Witch Trials - Trials listed by name.  This site also includes a collection of documented confessions and court documents.  British.

The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft - Here you will find a database of the nearly 4,000 people accused of witchcraft along with a 'further reading' section.

Witches & Witch Trials in Ireland - A small compilation of accused witches in Ireland.  There are not many entries as of 2013, but research continues.

Happy hunting!!!

Thursday, October 10

All Natural Parenting 6 Month Check-In

When I found out I was pregnant last year, I went on a naturalistic rampage.  I researched cloth diapers and homemade diaper rash creams and read everything I could about breastfeeding.  I was anti-vax and pro-attachment, anti-sugar and pro-SAHM.  I memorized milestone and developmental timelines.  I was determined to "fix" everything I'd done "wrong" with Doodle Bug ten years earlier.

Now that Baby E is 6 months old, I am out of crazy mode.  Things I have come to know are that loving your children and letting them be are what winning parents do.


Well, we tried using Kushies all-in-one cloth diapers.  I couldn't wait to use them, however it proved difficult.  At first Baby E was way too small for the newborn size and the waterproof covers did not provide any give for her umbilical stump.  By the time Baby E grew long enough that the newborn diapers didn't reach all the way to her armpits (!), they no longer fit around her waist.  We said goodbye to $100 worth of unused diapers and graduated to the infant size.  These worked for a few weeks, but the heat of summer made them miserable to wear.  Baby E would sweat and dampen the cloth.  The cover acted like an incubator and her skin would flush.  I had to start using coconut oil a lot.  Sweat also made it difficult to tell if she was urinating enough or just sweating a lot.  On super hot days, or days when I was traveling a lot, I began using disposables. 

Honestly, by the end of July we said goodbye to cloth all together and began buying disposable.  While the environment may not be happy with me, our wallet was.  Cloth had cost us $100 for 10 newborn size and $150 for 15 infant size on top of $3 per day to wash and the cost of liners, wetbags, special detergent and shipping.  Pampers have more sizes, don't require me to haul a wetbag around with me all day and at $35 box lasts us a loooong time.  Our initial investment in cloth was over $400 and only made it 4 months.  We have only spent $70 for 3 months of disposables and there is no more need for ointment/oil.

We can now travel and do whatever and know that leaks and wet rotting diapers are not a worry. 

Picnicing in an RV park with her great-grandparents.


This is a decision every parent has to make for themselves.  I researched pros and cons and dangers and in the end, some of the major anti-vax concerns didn't hold water for me.  Even with Doodle Bug being a special needs child who had received vaccinations, we chose to selectively vax.

Nothing to do with vaxing... just Baby E out to dinner for her 6 month "birthday".


I really wanted to make use of the handmade, antique cradle that Papa J's grandparents gave us.  We rearranged the bedroom to fit the thing.  Will the baby sleep in it?  Only for a rare nap.  Even though Papa J had co-sleeping concerns, he eventually caved after many screaming sleepless nights.  Baby E is happiest and sleeps the best when she is snuggled into her little spot at the head of the bed, solidly between her parents.  She rolls over to nurse when she needs it and rolls onto her back to sleep.  She gets 8-10 hours each night and is in good spirits during the day because of it.


I swore that this time I was dedicated to all natural, vegetarian, organic, dye-free, no white sugar "stuff".  I was also pretty sure I was going to gung-ho breastfeed and not even bother with food until her first birthday.   Articles about allergies and gluten haunted me.

This was about the time I started to realize all those comics that joke about how relaxed a parent gets the second time around were spot on.  At three weeks I dipped Baby E's pacifier into Reddi-Whip and gave it to her.  She has tried waffles, fruit (through a mesh bag), spaghetti and even a touch of ice cream on one crazy hot day.  We did purees for a bit, but after some research into baby-led weaning, I just let her gum on whatever I'm having.  She shares a wedge of creamcheese slathered onion bagel in the mornings and plays with rice at night.  She still breastfeeds for all of her meals, even after plowing through a handful of spaghetti.

We introduced spaghetti at Mabon.
 Breast Feeding

I had awesome visions of breastfeeding at night and pumping so that either of us could feed her during the day.  I saw myself going out to shop or hang with my girlfriends while Papa J cuddled Baby E and fed her from a bottle.  We bought a pretty pump and special bottles that mimic the shape of my breast/nipple. 

Pffft!  This little girl loves boobies.  She has been a breastfeeding champ since day one.  She is a happy, chubby boobie baby... so much so that we can't get her to take a bottle at all.  I pumped in the beginning and still have about a 3 day supply of frozen milk, but I don't even bother anymore.

Also, my friends had been very supportive of my desire to breastfeed and bought or made me nursing covers.  I used them for about 10 days and then said "the heck with it!".  If you're around a nursing mother and her infant, you may just see some boob every now and then.  The only time I ever really felt self-conscious was trying to nurse Baby E in the middle of a carnival while sitting under a tree, surrounded by college kids.  At that point, I'm not even sure it was the breast feeding that bothered me, but the idea that someone may see my stomach (as a goddess-sized woman, this has been a bother for me since highschool).  Other than that moment, my worries about being 'seen' are far behind me. 

Not to mention, it's kind of addicting.  It's easy, it's free, it's good for me, it's good for her and she LOVES it.  She gets silly with it and adorable with it.

Baby E having a morning nip.  She is no longer happy to lay beside me.  She climbs right on up.


I worried the first time the doctor asked if Baby E was rolling yet and I had to say "No."  A friend of ours had a baby just 3months prior and it is soooo hard to not compare children.  It is sooooo tempting.  But, after one momentary freakout (afterall, I already have one child that didn't keep up and was eventually found to be autistic and mentally retarded), I put all my books away and unsubscribed from my weekly email checklists.  EVERY baby is unique and I am dedicated to letting Baby E be her own person without pressures.  I think that starts now.

To this day, Baby E hates tummy time and only rolls over if it's absolutely needed... but she sits on her own, is army crawling, babbles, tracks well and is, above all, happy.

Having a baby 10 years after my first little bundle is really like starting all over again.  I didn't have anything left from Doodle Bug's baby days save for his sling (which a decade of wine and chocolate left me unable to fit anymore).  But, once you're a parent, those skills never really go away.  Papa J was trying to dress her the day we brought her home and couldn't figure out how to get her onsie on.  He looked at me and I sat down beside him.  Out of the blue, the ghost of a memory surfaced and I remembered how to do it.

The gift that this last 6 months has given me, other than a beautiful baby and an appreciation for my adorable family, is the realization that I didn't do half bad as a single mom raising a special needs boy.  There was nothing to 'fix' in my parenting.  I did nothing 'wrong'.  That peace of mind is nice to have.  

Being "mommy" to a tiny baby again is just terrific.  I'm still not sure if I want another one, as my pregnancy and the delivery were just miserable (STILL not fully healed!) but I'm a lot more open to the idea than I was in week one.  :)

Baby E rockin' out.  LOVE the hair.