Adding Family History to Our Vacation

Our family recently went on a trip to Southern California. There were three things on our list: Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, and my favorite The Mormon Battalion Historic Site in San Diego’s Old Town.

Yes, it was fun to go on the new Guardian of the Galaxy ride at California Adventure, to have everyone laugh at me and my terrified face as we went over Splash Mountain, and to see the koalas and pandas at San Diego Zoo, but the part of the trip that meant the most to me was when my children go to learn about their fourth great-grandfather, Zemira Palmer.

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Mormon Battalion Historic Site

The Mormon Battalion Historic Site is located at 2510 Juan St., San Diego, CA 92110. It is free to the public and open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. The last tour is at 8:00 p.m. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to go because we had spent the majority of the day at the San Diego Zoo and the children were exhausted from walking, but I really wanted them to go. I knew they shared information about their ancestors and I wanted them to see it.

When we walked in, two beautiful young women (missionaries) asked us if we wanted a tour. We went into the front waiting area.

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Front waiting area at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site

It was a lot of fun because the pictures on the wall talked to us almost as if we were in some kind of Harry Potter movie.  The young man on the bottom right-hand corner represented Zemira Palmer. He was the narrator and took us through the journey.

First, we started in the room that represented Mount Pisgah, Iowa, then we moved on to Fort Kearny, Kansas.

At Fort Kearny, my ten-year-old son got to dress up like a member of the Mormon Battalion and carry a gun that they would have carried.

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After Fort Kearny, we followed the Battalion on their journey of over 2000 miles to San Diego. One thing I learned is that the Battalion stayed in San Diego for over a year later and helped the people learn to make bricks, irrigate, and so many other things.

Outside, my boys got to pan for gold, make bricks, and wash clothes like the members of the Battalion did. It was a great, interactive way for my children to learn about their great fourth grandfather Zemira Palmer. As the missionaries told the story, I also supplemented with additional information that I knew about him. It was the highlight of my trip.

 

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Zemira Palmer was born 9 August 1831 at West Borough, Frontier County, Canada to George Palmer, Jr. and Phebe Draper. Zemira was the six child in a family of 7 children. His father passed away when he was two, and his mother Phebe met Brigham Young and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Many years later, Phebe remarried a man named Ebenezer Brown. Ebenezer enlisted and Phebe followed to become a laundress. She mended and washed the clothes for the Battalion. She also cooked for the officers.

Zemira was fifteen years old when he volunteered and was assigned as a personal aide to Col. Allen, which included caring for his horse and shining his boots. The Mormon Battalion march was very difficult. They dealt with cold, heat, lack of water, sickness, and even problems with wild bulls. There were also soldiers from Missouri; some who had helped drive the Saints from their state.They made it to the Pacific Ocean at the new settlement of San Diego in January 1847. The war ended and they never had to fire a shot. Zemira, his mother, and his step-father all re-enlisted and stayed one more year in San Diego. Phebe taught school to the children of the area and Zemira and Ebenezer made adobe bricks and helped build new buildings.

The Mormon Battalion made a good impression on all the people with whom they had associated. After their enlistment was up, they traveled north to find work before coming to the Salt Lake Valley, They were employed at Sutter’s Mill during this tune and were there when gold was discovered. It is said that they paid the first tithing in gold. They rode mules all the way to the Valley. When they finally arrived there was a great family reunion. It had been three years and they were glad to be with the family and the Saints again. Zemira was now 18 years old.

Later Zemira married Sally Knight and they had 12 children together. He was a strong man who did amazing things because he exercised his faith in his Heavenly Father.

Week Three: Writing Your Baby’s Story

We’ve been busy the last few weeks with family in town and celebrating birthdays. I had fun adding more information to each of my “baby’s” stories. They certainly aren’t babies anymore! Our youngest just turned six years old. If you are starting when your baby is only a few weeks old, congratulations! My details are getting foggier the older I get. Here are the questions to add to your child’s story this week.

  1. Who drove the mother and the baby home?When did the mother and baby arrive home
  2. Where did the mother and baby live? Who did they live with?
  3. Describe the baby’s home and room.
  4. Did the baby sleep in their own room or share a room with the mother or someone else?
  5. What were the siblings’ and/or other family members’ reactions the baby’s arrival home?
  6. What visitors did the baby and mother have in the first few days home?
  7. Did anyone come or help the mother and the new baby? Who? How long did that person stay? What other help did the family receive?
  8. Did the mother and/or baby receive any special gifts?
  9. Describe the feelings the mother and father had during the first few days home.  Did they have any special impressions or thoughts?

A few of the highlights from my answers to these questions comes from that the last one. Describe the feelings the mother and father had during the first few days home. When we had our first beautiful baby boy, I was twenty-four.  We were students in college and working hard to make ends meet.  I remember when we first brought our baby home to our little apartment, I was so excited, but also very nervous. We had a lot of support. My mother came every day to help us out a little and my mother in law came for a few days as well. Our church family helped us with dinners and always checked on me.

It was hard the first time I was left alone with our son. I had taken care of children, even little babies, but not for hours at a time. I was trying to nurse him because all my birthing classes had stressed that “breast is best.” However, our sweet little guy would not latch on in a comfortable way and it hurt terribly every time I tried to feed him. I was frustrated and exhausted. However, I would not, could not supplement with formula. I was certain in my foggy postpartum mind that if I fed him from a bottle, he would die and I would forever hold the title of “worst mother in the world.”

I remember praying,”Please Heavenly Father, please help me, please bless him to be able to eat.” Well, I tried to do everything the lactation specialist had shown me and it wasn’t working. The baby was hungry and tired. My delivery was rough and I was still recovering. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I cried and cried, the baby cried. It was so overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do anymore when exactly at the moment by my sweet husband walked in the door. He had come home from work earlier than I expected. He looked at me and the baby and he took the sweet infant in his arms and snuggled him and sent me to bed. I remember saying the baby was upset because he was hungry, but I couldn’t get him to eat. My level-headed husband said, “We still have samples of formula from the hospital, right?”

He said, ‘formula’ but I am sure I heard  ‘arsenic.’  I glared at him. “We are not feeding our baby formula!”

He looked at me kindly and put his arm on my shoulder. “Karen, scientists created infant formula for this reason: so that their dads could help feed their babies. Our baby won’t die if he drinks formula. I promise you. He is going to be fine.”

I tried to protest, but I was so exhausted and somehow he got me to go lay down. I fell asleep almost immediately. I woke an hour or two later and came out to my husband watching television in the living room. Our baby’s belly was full and he was happily dosing in the crook of his father’s arms.

I realize then my prayer was answered. It wasn’t in the way I thought it would be, but it was an answer. My husband coming home when he did was a tender mercy.  I never thought I would go to feeding our baby formula, but after seeing how my husband could help me. Later I realized how much easier it was for me and the baby and we never went back.

If you are wondering if feeding our baby formula hurt him,  well he is in the eighth grade, 6’1″, sings, plays piano, and has great grades.

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Trapper Keepers and American Girl Dolls

Back in the early nineties, my family moved from our log home to run a bed and breakfast across town.  I am the youngest of six children. I have an older sister, then four brothers. We moved while my third brother was on a two-year proselytizing mission for our church in Bolivia. The only two children left at home were myself and my brother who was two years older.

When we unpacked our belongings into our new rooms, my brother found a Beauty and the Beast Trapper Keeper in a box of his. It was not his and so he put it on my bed thinking it was mine. I saw it and knew it was not mine so I put it on his bed. This went on for days until finally I got upset and said,”Quick putting this thing in my room. It isn’t mine.”

“Well, it certainly isn’t mine!” he said.

We figured out it must have belonged to our brother who was on a mission. My brother put in a box in his closet and I thought it was the end of it until the next day when I got home from high school. My brother sat in the living room, not watching television, reading, or doing anything. He never just sat. I knew he was up to something. He nodded at me when I came in. Then he smiled. It was an eerie, mischievous sort of smile. “Aren’t you going to take your stuff up to your room?” he asked.

“No!” I yelled and ran to my room. “Where is it?” I searched my room for the offending Trapper Keeper. I looked in my pillowcases, in my dresser drawers, in my closet. He followed me and casually leaned against my door watching my erratic behavior. He had an amused look on his face.

“Where did you put it?” I asked ready to tear my hair out.

He laughed and looked at the ceiling.I looked and he had taped the Trapper Keeper to the ceiling above my bed.

“I wanted you to have a good dreams,” he said.

I immediately stood on my bed and tore the offending item from my ceiling.

The next day, I put it in the cupboard under his television where he kept his video games so his friends would see it as they got the games out.

The next day, he taped it to my shower.

The Trapper Keeper would never disappear. The game went on for the rest of the year until my brother graduated and moved away. I put in my closet and laughed when I saw it.

It felt weird to be the only kid at home with my parents that fall. When the spring came around my brother decided to go out and serve a mission for our church as well and was sent to England. The following Christmas, I got the Trapper Keeper out, wrote him a bunch of letters, filled it with candy and mailed it to him. It was the best!

Our family talked to him on Christmas and he had not received my package yet. Then a few weeks later, I got a letter saying he had received my package, but he wasn’t very happy about it. I believe he threw it away in a bin in Manchester, England. trapper-keeper

It is a funny thing to remember. Then similarly, a few years after my husband and I had our first son, we were expecting another baby and we bought some curtains from Pottery Barn Kids.  My husband got on a mailing list somehow and they sent him an American Girl doll catalog. We laughed about it and I would call him at work to tell him it had come in the mail so it would have something to look forward to when he returned home.

As our boys have grown, we still get the American Girl Catalog. My husband started putting it in our oldest’s sons room and then I would help him come up with a place to hide it in my husband’s things. Then our two younger boys have got involved and they hide in each other’s bedrooms. We moved three years ago and made sure that we changed our address so they would continue to come, however, we put the catalog in our oldest’s sons’ name.  We wanted him to feel special. With so much technology these days, who doesn’t like getting special items in the mail?

We continue to get them to this day and find funny places to hide them.  The best hiding spot was when I put it in a part of my son’s backpack he doesn’t use very often and he carried it back and forth to junior high for a week. Good times! It is the little, silly things we do that our kids remember. Just as I always think of my brother whe I see Beauty and the Beast, I know in the future, I will never see an American Girl catalog without thinking of the funny times we had with our boys when they were young.

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Carpooling

My boys go to two different charter schools in our valley. I carpool with two other families to the schools. The two other amazing moms take turns taking the kids to school and I rotate with one of them on picking up the kids. We take another teenage boy and two sisters, one is twelve and the other is ten. Throwing the girls in has been really fun this year.

We have had some fun and interesting conversations. It is funny that the kids can remember things from a year or so ago. One time we saw a black fluffy dog and a white fluffy dog running down the middle of the road.

I pretended I was the voices for the dogs. “Run, Kiki! We are finally free!” said the white one.

“Yes, Fifi, we are! Run! Run like the wind!”

Then I sang the words to “Born Free.”

Then their owner came chasing after them. It was pretty funny to see him try to catch up.

One the same street, someone posted a weird cardboard stand-up by the telephone pole with the words “Slow down” next to it. The cardboard stand up was of a cartoon woman wearing a white robe. My son named it Veronica and we called it his girlfriend.

I am sad to report she isn’t there anymore. The other teenagers started  a conspiracy saying my son might be responsible for her disappearance. No comment.

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Finally, the kids have come up with this game whenever we see a certain color of car, they do something different to each other. It can get violent. Luckily, they leave me as the drive alone!

  • Orange car-hit your neighbor
  • Green car-tickle your  neighbor
  • Purple car- hug neighbor (contributed by the ten year old girl of course)
  • Yellow bus- hit your neighbor
  • Hot pink car=death for everyone

I am glad we haven’t seen any hot pink cars!

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