11:30 am Christmas Eve Morning. We've finished. We did it. Woot Woot. There were moments where I didn't think we were going to make it. I've been worried this week that the kids would experience the agony of defeat and a learning experience rather than the joy of a successful project. But yea! It worked, it worked.
453 family group sheets digitized
98 15 year old boy
60 13 year old boy
60 11 year old girl.
How it all went down before it took a swing for the better.
Last night, on Christmas Adam (the night before Eve), we left the kids to themselves while we went to our traditional Iron Chef competition with my sisters (another story). The kids were supposed to stay home and work on their extraction. The last two days that they've been out of school we've been working and working as long as their attention spans would allow. The attention spans haven't been much. When they are sitting at a computer, using the internet, the draw of the surf is harsh. They can't concentrate. They are drawn to this and that--mostly the boys are drawn to the current video game that all their friends are playing. Honestly I know alot of adults who are the same way. It seems like we are becoming a culture of trivia buffs who can't get a major project done. I have days like that too at times.
So we'd been dragging through the last couple of days. I've been frustrated that they've said "yeah, I'm doing it" but then the surf drags them away. It was coming down to the line. We still had way too much to do.
In retrospect it was crazy to think they'd work on it last night. They're teenagers for heaven's sake. I expect alot out of them. But when we got home, I would have been disappointed to find out they hadn't gotten much done, but I was downright mad when I found out they hadn't been doing much that morning when I was sitting in the family room working on it with them. I was really mad.
So we had one of those terrible motherhood moments. I yelled at them last night. I was so frustrated with them that they couldn't do it without me sitting there with them. I had wanted it to get finished up so that we could do other things today (Christmas Eve). Why couldn't we have gotten it done early? I wanted to make Christmas cookies, relax, visit with family more etc. But the morning was spent go, go, go on getting this project done. In the end it was ok. Saved us some calories. But we went to bed last night not thinking we were going to be able to finish it. And I went to bed thinking I had forever ruined my children's chances of ever liking family history. If they have this Mom that is uber-stressed about it, they'll just resent it. I hadn't won the battle, and more importantly I had lost the war.
So last night, when we were going to bed, I asked them--how are you going to get it done? 15 year old boy said he wanted us to get him up at 7am. Now you have to understand that getting this child out of bed in the morning is harder than raising the dead--literally. Nothing gets him up--not love or money. Some school days it's come to a glass of cold water. He's growing and he just needs alot of sleep. But that's when the turning point came.
At 7 am when Kim and I came down to wake him up, he was already sitting on the couch doing extraction.
Yes, yes he was.
I attribute it more to his love of his grandparents at this point than to his love of family history. But I'll take it.
In the end we all worked together. Kim saved us. Kim rocks at Genealogy. He did pages and pages of this extraction, and finished up the two younger kids projects. Kim can always find the things on microfilm that I can. He is just quick at it. In a religious sense it came out as a perfect celebration of the life of Christ. Kim came in and made up for what the younger kids couldn't do themselves. 15 year old helped with some of that too. Or as 15 year old son put it to his younger brother as he was doing some of younger brother's pages "You have saved our lives--we are eternally grateful (In a little green alien voice from the movie Toy Story."
Yes--their Mom has put too much emphasis on this. They think their lives are at stake.
It was really beautiful watching it all come together this morning. I was sitting by 11 year old girl, encouraging every little bit out of her last two pages. She was too stressed. But it all melted away as those last couple of pages were done. It was a real sense of joy. I think they all felt it. Relief. Pride. A job well done.
I'm a little worried about the Christmas memories they will take into their respective families. Instead of sweet Christmas baking memories they'll have these mad family history project memories. Oh well. There already weren't alot of cookie making memories--more packaging and shipping family history chart memories. We'll relax next week like we always do.
I think the major point to learn today, is that it is really good to have deadlines. We've all drug it out, me included, thinking we would have time to do it later. But when it comes down to a deadline, it gets done. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas are great excuses for deadlines. It just works.
We're off to have a beautiful Christmas celebration. And present to my Mom and Dad the family history project extraordinare. They boys have already said that they may be willing to do another book next year. We've already decided though that we are going to start in January and have it done early to avoid the last minute drama. I wonder if that will work or if we will need to rely on the deadline principle again. Whatever happens, I think cleaning up and going over this database we've created is going to need to be the next project. I'm looking forward to doing that one myself.
Stay tuned. We're headed to the library with my parents on Wednesday to verify some of this stuff.