Saturday, June 19, 2010

Our New "Family Mystery"

I've made a hobby of researching my family history, as most of you know. Its such an interesting and fun pasttime for me. Not only do I get to learn the history of people and places, but I'm allowed to research and put together the puzzle pieces that are in fact related to me somehow. Its like being in a history class (which I loved immensely) but to an amplified degree. Its history that I can connect personally to.

I've been taking each "branch" of the tree as far back as I could go  - with the startling revelation on one of the lines I've first followed that I am indeed a direct decendant of King William I of England. That was fascinating to discover, and I have yet to really look into that line  other than tracing out the names themselves.

Instead I have moved on to another mystery. I was curious to find out about my paternal lineage - my Mom holds stories of my grandfather that I wasn't aware of until he passed. I would definitely like to get these stories on paper. I was also able to trace our line to my great great great grandfather, Michael Sinnett, through It was interesting to note that that particular branch of the family lived in the same small community for about 100 years.

After much scrounging on the internet, I met a man who was had been researching that branch of the family as well and had found Michael's father - Francis Sinnett. And unfortunately, collectively our trail runs cold.

I know that in the 1871 Census it states that he was married to a "Hannah". Also in that census their name is listed as "Sennet" which is, of course, one of the many variations of my surname on the census forms. His birthplace on that census is merely listed as "Canada" and his religion "Church of England". The part that sticks out to both our minds is that this family professed that they were "French" in origin, where most "Sinnett"s or various in the area indicate an Irish origin.

My cohort and I have chatted once or twice, and sent emails back and forth about the mystery of Francis and we've tossed around a few ideas. One being that "Francis" actually is "Francois Zenet" of Quebec. If this is true, he was christined in 1801 in Saint Hyacinthe Quebec and was also married once before his wife Hannah in Clarendon (who I have yet to uncover successfully). I believe, if memory serves, that his previous wife was named "Marie" or "Sarah" (Completely from memory... so that could be wrong).

Another idea that we have is that Francis was an Acadian who hid during "Le Grande Derrangement". It started out as a plausible argument for me because of the location of the family (Basically the Saint John River Valley and viscinity) and that we can find virtually no record of Francis Sennet before he shows up at the age of 70 in Clarendon.

However, one part that makes me think he is, in fact, Mr Zenet from Quebec,is this; as it was emparted to me, there is a gravestone with Mr Zenet's name on it in Millville, NB and spelled as such. Although he is not buried there, his name is listed on his daughter's family stone. The other part is that I can not find any record of an Acadian family with the name Sinnett, Sennet, Zenet or any variation of those names. Acadians love to keep track of their history and what family names arrived in Acadia - but these names were not on any lists that I could see (not even anything close unfortunately). I'm fairly certain I've exhausted this particular line of thinking. Which really is good, it gives me a narrower search in my quest for information.

The whole mystery of Francis and his wife, or wives is completely fascinating to me and I have been looking for any scrap of viable information on the family before they arrived to New Brunswick. However, as I'm quickly entering the era before Canada was a country and the constant strife of that era, the documents and information available to correctly "match" any information I currently have is sorely lacking.  What happened to them? How did they get here? Why did they come? Why did they change their name? What happened to his first wife? Did they hide or did they move after the explusion? Are his children from his first or second marriage? Who were his wives? Who was his parents? Why are we French and not Irish?

Unfortunately, we may have hit a knot in this branch of the family tree, but its interesting that our family appears to be different in the rest of the Sinnett's as claiming to be French and not Irish. I hope my detective skills improve enough to unravel this mystery to my satisfaction.

As a side note, I completely enjoy looking up information and piecing together results for family information, so if you have something that you're curious about and would like assistance, (or even just to let me look something up for you), just ask! I'd be happy to!! (and that's a huge understatement!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Winnie's graduating already! Well... kinda... :D

Tomorrow is Winnie's "graduation" from Pre-School and I think I'm more excited than she is. They've been practicing two songs to sing tomorrow morning for the adoring crowd, and then there will be treats and cake. Its not the ceremony, which Winnie considers a big party that she should get presents for... but the fact that its a sign she's growing up. And boy, has she grown up in the last year.

I had to force myself to glance back to September and remember the trying times we'd gone through with pre-school. Winnie couldn't tolerate sitting for long periods (aka, 10 seconds..), she didn't talk to her peers, was obsessed with dinosaurs, was unable to transition to and from the pre-school without screaming, hitting, crying and running away.

As I dropped her off and picked her up today from her "last official pre-school day" I thought about these things, all of the things that she can do now and shone with pride at how she has indeed blossomed at pre-school this year.

She walked to the pre-school without my help, dropped her things off at her locker and went to wash her hands by herself. As she walked by to join her classmates, she looked up at me and said "Bye Mom". Walking on her toes she entered the classroom, stopped, and then walked flat footed around the room to choose her starting activity. She' was alone, but I gave a little smile as she tried to ignore my presence watching her. I know now that once she gets settled in, and with a little prompting from her ASW, she'd find something she'd like to do with her friends instead of alone. At the beginning of the year she would try to be alone for the entire day and being next to the other children was incredibly uncomfortable for her. Now she can not only play beside them, but she can play with them and engage them to play with her.

When I went to pick her up, still thinking about what it was like in September, I allowed myself to be amazed at her progress.

I got to the playground out back and Winnie was in the centre of a bunch of kids. They were playing with plastic frogs in a bucket of water. Winnie was singing "Splish splash i was taking a bath" and the other kids were joining in with her. She looked up and saw me, smiled, and said "Hi Momma, we're playing with frogs!" The other kids continued to play as we asked them all questions about the frogs, which Winnie was able to answer all of them. However, when we asked her what the little boy's name was she had been playing with, she couldn't remember. You see, she was more interested in the frogs then playing with the boy. But the fact was that she tolerated his presence with her and her play frogs, and that in itself has been a long way to come for little Miss Winnie.

When I said "Are you ready to go?" she jumped up, smiled and said "yes, lets go get Maggie". She still needed prompting to pick someone to say goodbye to, which she did with no problem and we left to a chorus of small "bye Winnie"s. Holding my hand she walked with me to the car and proceeded to tell me all about her day. She had circle time, played with Rachel, found some frogs, sang some songs and there is a party tomorrow! Most of all "I had fun at preschool today Momma", which is just music to a parent's ears.

No screaming, no crying, no kicking, no running away... at least not when it came to pre-school. ☺

I am so proud of her for all of the work she has done this school year. Unfortunately we can't put the cheer pompoms up just yet... While the other kids are on summer vacation, Winnie will be starting kindergarten prep right after Canada day holiday. Its a testament to what her life is and will be like. The other kids are able to rest and she's still hard at work... just trying to learn all the things that other kids pick up 'naturally'.

You go girl.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How different it will be

It's shocking when we realize how different our children's lives will be from our own, and the milestones that you obtained as a child may or may not come to fruition in the same way for your children. Today, I wrote down each girls' SSN on a federal application form. At 2 and 5 I've already had to apply for them on their behalf as a federal government identifier.

I remember getting my SSN application form and being excited when I received the little white card that meant, to me, that I was allowed to join the workforce. Now that I'm older, I know it means more than that - and I also know that we have one as soon as we're born, but I've never really thought about it until my kids needed theirs. When I saw the request on the form, I did a double take - then I called the office to be sure. "Yes" i was told, "It is better to have them early in your situation, than later on - this way they can be properly identified always".

So, I sit here and quietly mourn the "loss" of that experience for my girls, at the same time knowing that its a loss they will never realize - so therefore not really a loss at all... There will still be moments where they'll feel that hype and excitement, that feeling of wonder and growing up, but that particular moment - the same one that I had, is lost to them.

This seems like a small thing, and one may wonder "Why is she going on an on about this one little card?! Its so silly, just let it go already!". But, its these "little losses" that we're faced with day in and day out. The little things that our children won't experience the same way as us, or even as other children their age. At each little loss we take a moment to ourselves and we mourn that loss. We mourn for our children yes, but we also mourn for ourselves - the loss of the experience for them, the loss of the added experience for us. Who doesn't want to share an experience with their child that they once had?

This constant grieving is a mainstay in the lives of those with disabled children. Yes, we enjoy the wonderful moments that we have with our children, but we do mourn what could have been. This is not to say that our children aren't amazing and perhaps more so because of their disability, but that the expectation of the child that may never be is always there.

However, in this grief, it's important to remember that there is a light. That moment may be gone, but our children have a future, and their future is as bright as the shining stars in their brilliant eyes. In this future, we have time to make our own moments, experiences and memories.