I let the kids each pick out stickers at Hobby Lobby this evening, and on the way home we suggested to Henry that he could draw baseball players to embellish with his baseball stickers. He got right on that as soon as we got home–these are only two of about six drawings he created before I sent him to bed.
And here’s a school assignment of Mabel’s. (Yes, it’s long. I did say this post is for the grandparents.) Mabel is ten and in fifth grade. When Isaac had this assignment, I remember him agonizing to barely fill a page with large handwriting. Mabel typed hers, then printed it on a piece of a brown paper bag, and we burned the edges to make it look aged.
To anyone that receives this note:
The weather is atrocious. The wind tosses this boat in the sea like a child skips a rock in a lake. Water is entering the boat and I fear my life shall end soon. So I write this note in hopes that someone may find it and learn of my travels.
My name is Christopher Columbus. I was born in Genoa, Italy. I was the son of a weaver, but was hardly interested in weaving. I wanted to sail. I wanted to be like the many sailors from the port of Genoa that sailed to and from the Indies, bringing back gold and spices and silk. I wanted to explore! As soon as I was old enough, I became a deckhand on a merchant ship. Through hard work and much devotion (which devotion I had), I got promoted many times until I became a captain.
In the May of 1476, my ship and four other merchant ships were mistaken for enemy warships and were attacked. My ship sank and I was left shipwrecked very far from shore. But holding onto a single oar, I was able to paddle myself back to safety.
After returning to land, I went to Lisbon where my brother, a mapmaker, lived. I had not yet learned to read or write and immediately started to learn. With the help of my good brother, I was able to learn the art of map making, and I married my lovely wife, Dona Felipa. Her father was the captain of a Portuguese ship and had many books, charts, and logs from his many voyages. I read the books of Marco Polo and Ptolemy. I believed Ptolemy’s theory that the world was round.
That’s when I began to wonder. If Asia goes around the world (considering that the world is round), then could I not sail west and reach Asia? I wanted to see if there was a better way to reach Asia, and wanted to prove Ptolemy’s theory. So I went to Spain and turned to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Isabella was deeply religious and was a good woman. She was interested in my plan and hoped that when I sailed to Asia I could teach them Christianity, but because of Spain’s war, she and Ferdinand did not have the money to help me. I waited six years, but finally in 1492 when the war was over they agreed to support me. And so I started my voyage that year, bringing three ships with me, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
I became captain of the Santa Maria. We started traveling and I kept a log of the happenings aboard the ship. We ate salted meat, fish, lentils, and chick peas. We had the fire in a box of sand so that we didn’t light the ship on fire. As I was captain, I slept in the only cabin of the Santa Maria. The other men slept on the deck.
After 30 days of sailing and not a single sighting of land, many of the men became restless and angry. I was forced to lie to them about how many leagues we had traveled, for fear of mutiny. They were thinking of throwing me overboard. I continued to encourage them and remind them of the riches in Asia.
Finally, on October 11, 1492, the men saw evidence of land such as a carved cane and a wooden board. Their spirits were lifted and so was mine. The next day we arrived on an island I named San Salvador. I had reached Asia! The people here wore no clothing. They had dark shin and were very curious about us. We gave them red caps and glass beads. They loved these inexpensive ornaments and immediately became friends. In return for the items we had given them, they gave us colorful birds called parrots, balls of cotton yarn, and spears. But they seemed an unusually poor people.
In search of better riches, I sailed to Cipangu, Marco Polo’s country that he claimed to have palaces of gold. Seeing no such things, I sailed on until I found an island that I named Hispaniola. Hispaniola has beautiful mountains and plains. The Indians there have wonderful little villages and they are very polite and generous. But on Christmas Day, My ship was wrecked on a reef and the cargo was taken on shore. I was horrified, until I noticed the golden nose rings of many of the Indians. They traded this gold for inexpensive items of no worth to us. I then wanted to return to Spain with these amazing parrots and spears and gold and yarn. I wanted to show them that I had done it. I even took six captive Indians with me.
But now this weather threatens my existence and I fear Spain shall never see these things nor know of my discoveries. So if you have found this note and are reading it now, please! Tell Spain of San Salvador and Cipangu and Hispaniola and that sailing to Asia from the west can be done. Tell Spain of me, so that my voyage and my discoveries were not made in vain. I shall be dead by the time you read this, so please! Please! Tell of Christopher Columbus!