Friday, July 31, 2009

Bringing it Back to Life, Part 2 - Some of the People

I don't remember my great, great grandmother of course, but I know she was a woman petite in height, and she was a civil war veteran's wife. The picture below is of her and her son, Wales, my great grandfather. I have to find out, but I think they are standing in front of the hog pen where the (duh) pigs were kept.

In a book my grandmother wrote for her three sons, she tells about "Mama."

"She despised wash-day and would give away a Sunday dress to get a woman to help do the washing. She was a confederate widow. In July each year she received a pension (around $130). We would load up in the T-Model car and go to Spartanburg. It bought all of us shoes, cloth for dresses, curtain material, white sheeting, baloney, and each of us sat in the car and had a greasy hot dog with lots of onions."

"She loved her church, my babies, pretty clothes, and cheese, and she was as reserved and noble as a queen."

"She married my grandfather, Henry Johnson, when she was very young. I wonder if she ever loved him very much. He was almost twice her age and died when my father was four years old. She never married again."

"She disliked the dark, loved new moons and things done right. She taught me things I will never forget-you never chewed with your mouth open-you put a knife, fork, and spoon at every place." (All the time I might add and not just special occasions and MY grandmother taught me the same thing.) "Every night she knelt by her bedside and said her prayers, her hair hanging down her back in a single pigtail."

Wales and his mother Lillian Cooper Johnson

Below is Layton Cooper, or Uncle Layt as everyone called him. He worked very hard on finishing the house as a young man.

The picture below is of Wales again. I have a teensy memory of him. He passed away when I was 4 or so. Some excerpts from my grandmother's book about her father:

"He had a funny way of teasing without laughing. How he loved my boys when they came along. He was so very special. I feel he's enjoying Heaven, for if he's not there, there is no use for anyone to try to get there."

"His hands I will never forget. He made a trip to Woodruff for crop fertilizer in a wagon and was caught in a severe thunderstorm. Seeing those hands with the wet, torn bag and the pink and white squares of coconut candy was too much."

This lady is Wale's wife, Clara Jackson Johnson. Everyone called her Mother except my dad and his brothers and they called her Granny. I call her Mother, too, and it suits her much more than Granny does in my opinion. She passed away my senior year in high school. I can remember when she lived in the home house a little. I remember staying overnight with my cousins Hope and Judy.

My grandmother wrote these things about her mother.

"I can always remember how my Mother kept flowers in the house. Always starched scarves on the tables and dressers. Pillow cases, too, were starched, and the sheets were ironed nice and smooth."

I know she was a wonderful cook. I know she like to dress up for church on Sundays. She always wore dresses and always had a broach or necklace on. She taught me how to crochet and I can still see her hands showing me the stitches.

Daddy Wales at Christmas.

Check out that plate of fried chicken!

My grandmother, Mary Kathryn, was born in the house. This is her as a baby.

There were lots of babies. This is my grandmother's younger sister and my grandmother's first son, Bob.

Here's my dad.

My cousin, Hope. I know it gets confusing, but Hope is my grandmother's niece, my dad's first cousin and my second. She's closer in age to me, and I consider her my sister!

Look! It's me with my great grandparents. My grandmother told me that Daddy Wales would never hold us, but he'd touch us in some way. I love this picture of him holding my hand. Notice the broach at Mother's collar?

There were special events at the house, too. Here's a picture of my mom's bridal shower. My great aunt is in the center. On the left is Emily, and don't ask me to make that family connection or you'll be so confused you won't know whether to scratch your watch or wind your butt!

Another bridal shower: this time it's my dad's youngest brother's wife or soon to be wife, Judy.

While I look for more photos of the house and pictures taken in and around the house, I'll leave you with this:

Snort! This is my great aunt, my grandmother's sister, Hope's mom. Don't you love the hair? I wonder how long it took her exactly to get it that high and how much AquaNet she had to use? She was at a family picnic in this photo and my guess is she fishing a bug from her iced tea with that spoon and thinking how much she would like to ring the photographer's neck.

Life goes on doesn't it?

Jake in Papa's new window...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bringing it Back to Life, Part 1

See this house?

Looks like it needs major TLC, right?

Boy, does it ever!

See the back section in the third photo? It's basically two rooms: what I remember to be the kitchen and the dining room of my great-grandmother's and then my great aunt's home. I vaguely remember there being a pantry or mud room of sorts where you see that door when I was a little girl.

That back section of the house, from what I understand, is around 175 years old. It's had "cosmetic" repairs done over the years, but when something is that old, there comes a point where it needs more than just some makeup. At this point, it's resting on the ground and my dad isn't sure he'll be able to save it.

The front part of the house? Well, it's not quite that old. It's maybe 140 or 150 years old. She's had some makeup added, too, bless her heart.

My great, great, great grandfather, David Cooper built this house. He and his family lived in the two back rooms until he could start on the larger front section. He and his wife, Mary Jane Layton Cooper, and their family are buried in the family cemetery that's behind the house a bit. He died before he could finish the house at age 40.

Mary Jane passed away at age 75. Sorry for the bad picture here. There was a tree casting a shadow. She was born in 1846 and died in 1921.

If you're wondering where these grave markers came from, well, my dad poured the concrete and my cousin, Hope, wrote the names on them. The cemetery is another story for another day.

This is Mary Jane. I wouldn't want to upset her, would you? To our knowledge, there are no pictures of David.

I have something of his though. This hammer and tool box were his. My grandmother gave them to me. I treasure them.

The land on which the house was built was handed down by my great, great, great, great grandfather Coleman Layton. This was Mary Jane's father. Mary Jane married David Cooper. Have I confused you yet? Mary Jane and David had 9 children. Their son, Layton Cooper finished the house as he could.

The house has been lived in by descendants of the Layton-Cooper family ever since. David and his family, then my great, great grandmother, my great grandparents, and my grandmother and her sister were born in the house. Later, my grandmother's sister lived in the house and raised her family there. When it became difficult for my great aunt to move around easily in the house, she and her husband moved. The house itself had been left to dad's first cousin, Hope, by my great-grandmother. Hope in turn sold it to my dad for $1.

Look at my grandmother's face between my dad and Hope. She's happier than a (insert witty southern saying of your choice) knowing my dad's getting the house. He's worked since 2002 bringing the old girl back to life, doing most of the work on his own, getting help when he needed it. If you'd like to stick around, I'll show you just how he's done it!

Friday, July 24, 2009

We Interrupt This...

I thought once Jake got a little older things would be different as far as my work-at-home job, being able to complete my household chores, and even taking a shower. By different, I mean less interruptions-that since I could talk to him, reason with him, and make him understand what my job is, that he'd know not to interrupt. Not only has that changed only a little as far as Jake is concerned, but last night was proof that the other adult in this household can't seem to go 10 minutes without my attention.

First of all, I had been to the dentist yesterday for an impression redo that I wasn't expecting to have to do, and on top of that I wasn't expecting more Novocaine and my jaw was hurting pretty badly last night. Once we got home from dinner out, I just wanted to rest on the sofa. I asked P if she'd trade nights with me putting Jake to bed so that I could rest. I got a maybe on that. Not a "Sure, I'll do it." but a maybe.

The minute my rear end hit the couch, Jake wants more Sponge Bob cutouts. (More on those later.) I explained to him that I did not feel well and that I'd help him with this the next day. It was after 8:30 and he was about to have his pre-bedtime meltdown where he's very sleepy and doesn't want to admit it. I told him that if he did not stop his behavior that I would not help him with what he wanted and that was that. With him finally okay, I then have to get up and put aloe gel on someone's back who didn't use sunscreen at the pool. I go back to the sofa and the phone rings. I tell my friend I'll call her back once everyone was in bed.

Now P knows that Jake is to be in bed no later than 9:30 for the summer months. Instead of getting him ready for bed, she decides she is going to sit and watch the show I wanted to watch at 10 pm even though she "hates" the show. Meanwhile, Jake is asking for a snack. I get the snack, grab the phone, and head to my office to call my friend. I'd had enough of trying to rest.

I'm talking on the phone and hear comes Jake and P. She's decided to clean the Hamster cage at 10:30 pm. Jake is on the hippity hop. I can barely hear my friend and I look down and Toot the Hamster is in his ball right under my feet. I go to another room in hopes to hear better and thinking that bedtime would be next. Instead, I get the meltdown cry, my name is being called, and P is yelling. My friends says she'll let me go, but I told her to hold on. I finally round both "kids" up and shut them in the bedroom telling them GOOD NIGHT!

By this time, I'd lost all train of thought, missed my show, and a phone call that should have taken no more than 15 or 20 minutes had lasted an hour and I can't remember a damned thing I was going to tell my friend.

There's such an imbalance when it comes to our responsibilities for Jake. I forsake even my job to take care of him. I can't meet production requirements because of the constant interruptions, and although I'm not working right now and in the process of starting a new job, I still have a few weeks before school starts that could make or break my position with this company. I don't get up for every little request, but there are times when I have to respond to what he wants or needs.

At night, I only get quiet time once EVERYONE is in bed, and even then I sometimes hear squabbling going on between P and Jake before he finally falls asleep or gets up and comes running to me. Then what's the point of taking turns with bedtime? I may as well do it all the time.

I'm the mom and I know that comes first before anything. I know this. My looks, my personal time, anything I want to do or need to do all get put aside until my obligations as a mom are fulfilled for the day. There has been better balance between Jake and me lately. He and I tend to have easy days, no fussing back from him when I ask him to do something, and even if there is, I can usually handle it without it escalating. He's never been an unruly child or temperamental. He simply wants the normal attention any child would want from his parents.

P knows she lacks patience at times and that her reactions are sometimes the cause of the arguing between she and Jake. What I don't get is, if that's not working for her (as Dr. Phil says) then why doesn't she change it? She says she wants him to react to her the way he does me. I've told her my thoughts behind how I respond to Jake, but still there's no change.

I want her to handle things on her own without my having to come in and referee. I want her to respond like a parent and not a sibling. Most of all, I don't want to worry about this when they are out together or when she takes him to Wilmington to see her sister. I don't want to worry that her impatience and lack of empathy to the fact that he's a 5 year old turn someone who has always been a well behaved child into one that isn't. I see it happening though because he wants to argue back not just with her, but now with me, and I have to undo this somehow.

There's no good way to end this post because I could keep going and going. Hopefully someone will say I'm not the only one dealing with an imbalance between themselves and their partner or spouse and how the kids are handled. UGH!

Monday, July 20, 2009

No, it's not funny...

Why are cats so smart yet so dumb? And why are there so many stray cats in our neighborhood that like to congregate in our yard? Last week Pat saw a kitten sitting under the front of my car, and when she went out to see how friendly it was, it jumped up into the engine area. I never saw the kitten and hadn't given it a second thought. Yesterday, Jake and I were going to get some lunch so I settled him in his car seat and then we left. About 15 minutes later we arrive home and I immediately see this kitten laying on our driveway. I knew exactly what had happened. UGH! I parked and told Jake there was something on the driveway I didn't want him to see and that I was going to cover his eyes until we got inside. Of course, he questioned me, and I explained that one of the neighborhood kittens was hurt and I needed to help it. I get Jake inside and settled down with his Happy Meal. Then I try to decide what on earth to do about this cat. I call my dad, he laughs and then tells me the story of how he saw a bunny rabbit on the road that had been hit by a car, but wasn't dead and he knew he had to put the bunny out of its misery. Thanks, Daddy, that helped so much!

Okay, so I tell Jake to stay in the house and head out to the garage for a shovel, garbage bag, and then decided on a box, too. Of course, I try to shovel up the poor animal and it just scoots along the driveway. Oh great! No way am I touching it so I have to go find something to help me get it on the shovel. Mind you, the driveway looks like, well, it was I guess, a murder scene. There's "stuff" everywhere! All I could find was some kind of wooden stick in the garage, but I knew I just couldn't do this. I go back in the house and decide to call my neighbors, Kent and Katie. They're super nice and I'm sure when they gave us their numbers, they didn't mean for us to call with this type of situation, but I'm at a loss here. Sweet Kent comes out and gets the cat up and into the bag and box. He finally tells me to go inside and he'd clean up the driveway. I was very upset that I had taken this kitty's life and I guess Kent could tell. I thanked him over and over again. Geez, what a good neighbor!!! Later, you couldn't even tell what had happened except for the "box" sitting next to the garage door.

I called Pat and left a message for her not to come home and think she had a surprise waiting by the garage and go tearing into the box. I let her know what happened. Afterward, my lunch was not looking very appetizing. Oh well.

This morning, I wake up kind of, and Pat's telling me the mama cat was going nuts. I told Pat not to say another word, that I knew I killed her baby and it was bad enough; I didn't need to hear the mama was grieving! She keeps talking though, telling me that Mama was trying to get into the box. ACK! Now I feel so much better!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Getting Ready for the Toof Fairy!

For a couple of weeks, Jake has mentioned that his "toof" hurt, and he pointed to his bottom front tooth on the right. When he'd let me, I'd check to see if it was loose and it never was. I still thought the permanent tooth was working on pushing the baby tooth out. The other morning, he said to me, "My toof is loose!" I checked it and told him I thought it was and how great that was! I must have been overly excited because he started to cry and said, "This can't be happening!" Poor little guy was pretty upset that he was going to lose a tooth.

Later that same day, I asked him if I could check it again and at the angle I was, I saw this!

Yep, his permanent tooth is coming in behind the baby tooth. You would not believe the bribing I had to do to get this picture! Anyway, after some on-line searching and a call to the dentist, we're letting nature take it's course. Of course, I tried to persuade the boy to start wiggling that baby tooth, but promptly was told "no way." Geez....I'm really looking forward to playing "Toof Fairy" and my kid can't even be persuaded to wiggle the thing even after I offered him a new SpongeBob movie!