Monthly Archives: June 2011

Every grandma will tell you that every moment with your grandchildren is a special one. From the first time you hold them after they are born, you just never get over how wonderful they are. They delight your heart with their antics and their humor, and even when they are being a little naughty, their charm will make it almost impossible to be mad at them.

Why is it so different with grandchildren than it was with your own kids. You knew you had to discipline your kids, and you knew you should with your grandchildren, but they are just so darned cute, and after all, it is their parents responsibility to discipline them…isn’t it? So, you spoil them and shower them with love, and their parents hope you don’t do more harm than good, but it just seems like you feel differently about kids behavior as you get older. The little things just don’t bother you as much.

What you notice instead is just how much you can love that little tiny person and just how easily they can wrap you around their little finger. It is a place you will live for the rest of your life. They will always have the ability sweet talk you, and make you feel like they didn’t. And while you know it is going on, you just don’t seem to mind. You simply don’t have it in you to be as hard on them as you felt you must with your own kids. And sometimes they are just so sweet that your favorite Grandma picture doesn’t even include Grandma, it was just a grandma moment.

So, you treasure each moment, each smile, each laugh, knowing that all too soon they will Shai and GrandmaJoshbe grown up. It is with mixed emotions that you face that reality, because you realize that before you know it, they will be grown and their little kid days will be gone. But then you also realize that when they are grown up, they will marry and before you know it they will have children of their own, and the cycle will start all over, with new little grandbabies to love and hug, and to share those grandma moments with. And you realize how very blessed you are.

Sometimes the things kids find interesting can be so funny. When my oldest grandkids were little, like most kids, they liked places like boxes, baskets, and other such hiding places. I don’t quite understand what the draw is for kids, but they always seem to think it is a secret place, or maybe a fort, or their own special place. Whatever it is, those little places are as special to them as…maybe a car is to young driver. They thought of it aa their own play area.

Christopher’s family has always had dogs. They were and are members of the family. Since Christopher grew up with them and Shai spent a lot of time with Christopher, it just stands to reason that the dog’s kennel held some interest for those two kids. The dog was a special friend, and the kennel belonged to her. It was the coolest place they could think of.

In fact, that is putting it mildly. It was a favorite hangout for them. Every time they were together, Corrie would find them in the kennel, playing. They would bring their toys in and play in there for hours. Meanwhile, the dog really wanted nothing to do with the kennel when the family was at home. It was a bed for her and nothing more. She knew she had to be in there when they were gone or in bed, but the minute she was allowed out, she was out. And here are these two little kids who can’t wait for the dog to vacate so they can take over. I guess it is all about “the grass being greener” on the other side.

I seems that the very coolest thing for the kids was trading places with the dog. I guess that isn’t so odd, since, all the dog wanted to do was trade places with the kids. It seems that the grass really can be greener on the other side, because it is all about the eye of the beholder. Or maybe it is like the big box that the appliance came in. Once the item that was normally in the box, or the kennel, came out, the kids could go in. And so they would…and they would have the most wonderful adventures while they were there.

Kids make all kinds of faces. Of course, they cry and pout, and they are serious and silly. Their little looks make our world a little bit more interesting. Oh I know our children can annoy us. They can scream loud enough to break eardrums. Still, through it all, we love them, no matter what their look is today.

Josh has always been a smiley boy, who loves to make goofy faces, and they always make me laugh. One of the cutest faces is the one you see when a child is filled with excitement, like Christmas day or their birthday. The smiles are the biggest ones you have ever seen. Kids have such a hard time containing their excitement and joy. I find it sad that we tend to lose that as we get older. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have that same innocence and happiness in our lives.

A baby trying not to fall asleep, or one who has just awakened from sleep, can be some of the funniest faces out there. The face Caalab made trying to stay awake when he was little, was just so funny. His head kept dropping and then he would jerk it back up. He finally lost the battle, and sleep took over. Christopher on the other hand was just waking up, and the funny look on his face makes you wonder what exactly is in that cup he has, but since I know his parents well, I know it is just juice, and Christopher is just goofy.

Learning to wink is one of the things that can produce so of the funniest looks. First both eyes blink, then the nose crinkles up and the mouth opens, and finally after lots of work a wink appears. Shai worked so hard to be able to wink. She really wanted it, and she was so proud when she got it. She would wink on demand, and it was precious.

Kids have many moods and many faces. They are precious lights in our lives. They bring joy and…well, life into an otherwise dull day. What a wonderful blessing from God they are.

When kids are little, all they want to do is be like their parents. Little girls want to wear their mothers heels and makeup, nail polish and dresses, and boys can’t wait to have feet as big as Daddy’s or be as tall or they want to use the same tools or play the same sports.

Kids are so cute when they are trying to be their parents, and wearing their shoes, or the shoes of some other adult. They clomp along, trying not to fall…in shoes that are several sizes too big. And when they do, they just laugh, get up, and totter away again. If they can manage to get up on their own with the shoes that they have on. Most of the time, it seems that they need help to get back up…especially in boots. We look at them and laugh, not just because it is so cute, but because it reminds us of ourselves when we were little. And of course, they are laughing too, possibly at the absolute hilarity of it all. They know how goofy it is and yet they seem to think that you might not realize that they know.

I also find it funny that every time kids put those shoes on, they put them on the wrong feet…every time!! Unless we help them, that is. How can that be? You would think that, at least part of the time they would get them on the right feet, but it seems never to happen. It’s like they plan it or something…maybe, just to be funny. Do kids ever get their shoes on the right feet? I think not, so why should it be different in their parents shoes?

I don’t know what is going through their minds, exactly, but I do know that it is common for them to want to copy the person or persons who have had such a big influence in their lives…at least so far. These are such fun years, and they are so quickly over. Before we know it these little ones are driving and dating and married and having babies, who then try to fill their parents shoes.

When my parents were dating, they sometimes double dated with my mom’s sister, Evelyn, and her husband, George. They would go to formal affairs, such as the military ball, but more often they went to movies. Family was important to all of them, and sometimes the best double date is your family.

One night, Mom, Dad, Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George went to the movies. The had a great time and were enjoying their visit on the way home. My dad had driven that night, and so he and my mom were taking Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George to their Mills home, before he would take my mom home.

It was a beautiful moonless night. They drive past The Wagon Wheel skating rink, and around the corner to the railroad track. At that time, there was no signal light or gate. As they started to cross the track, something caught Uncle George’s eye. Thankfully for all of them, he knew what it was. He yelled, “Train!” My Dad instinctively turned the wheel in the same direction as the train was going, and the car was dragged along beside the train until the train was able to stop.

My dad was normally a very calm man, but this was no normal situation. Dad got out of the car and threw down the popcorn he had been holding in his lap. He went up to the engineer, and started yelling at him. You see, the engineer didn’t have the headlight turned on in the engine, and remember that it was a moonless night with limited lighting in the area.

The engineer insisted that it wasn’t his fault. The police were called, and a representative from the railroad showed up. They argued the matter back and forth, but even with the 4 people in my dad’s car insisting that the engine had no headlight on, the railroad wouldn’t step up and do the right thing. The accident was deemed my dad’s fault.

So, after a very frustrating investigation, the couples were cleared to go. They got back into the car, which was thankfully, ok to drive, and my dad started looking around. He searched for several minutes, and them my mom asked, “What are you looking for?” To which my dad answered, “My popcorn!!” They all began to laugh then and told him that he had thrown it on the ground when he got out of the car, because he was so mad at the engineer. You can imagine Dad’s surprise.  He simply didn’t remember throwing the popcorn down, because of the shock of the whole situation. It would be the one thing they could laugh about when they thought back on the train wreck.

For Mother’s Day, my mom often asks us to do the projects she has planned on over the year. It is a great way to get things done that she would otherwise have to pay someone to do. So, we pick out a weekend, and get the plans made, and on the chosen weekend, we all descend on Mom’s house.

This year’s projects consisted of spring cleaning her bedroom, re-painting trim on the house, planting her flowers and cleaning the yard, and building a deck. Seventeen people showed up to help, a pretty good crew. We have been doing this for several years now, but it always amazes me that that so many people can have a general plan, but no true foreman, and yet the as the jobs are laid out everyone steps up and gets started.

At first, it looks like total chaos, then maybe organized chaos, but then suddenly, the different projects begin to come together, and before you know it something amazing has happened. Seventeen people who don’t normally do this kind of work…who are everything from mechanics to teachers, students to insurance agents, in the medical field to police officers to those in the legal field…and yet today we were painters, gardeners, carpenters, housekeepers, and cooks, and that worked for us.

So, why do we do this and how is it that it works for us. Well, love can produce a multitude of talents that we didn’t really know existed. My mom wanted nothing more than to have her children all together. It wasn’t just about the projects, although those were important to her too, but she has always liked it when her children are together. The projects turned out great. And while we are not quite finished, we will be tomorrow, and for another year, we probably won’t all work on a big project. But Mother’s Day will roll around again, and new projects will be dreamed up.  And once again, we will all become weekend warriors, ready to tackle the jobs she needs done. It’s not a bad Mother’s Day gift, after all. And in reality, to her, it is the best gift ever. Having her children all together showing their love for her.

I was watching an eagle as I went on a walk the other day. The day was beautiful, with just a slight breeze. The eagle was alone, soaring peacefully, like he was floating. He playfully dipped and swooped around, then glided peacefully around the clear, sunny sky.

It occurred to me that in many ways, his life was so free and peaceful. Of course, I know how he gets his meals, and the violence that is a big part of his world, but today, just for a moment, he is at peace…hurting no one and nothing.

It makes me think of how hectic my own life is. I am always on the go. Rushing to work, to care for my mom and my in-laws, to workout. And while my workout is a walk, preferrably outside, for 2 hours, it is still a part of the day that is scheduled, removing any semblance of free choice. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t change most things about my life or my day, with the exception of the health of my mom and in-laws, and obviously my dad’s passing, I think that sometimes, just for a moment, it would be very cool to be an eagle.

I think I would like to fly above all the hustle and bustle of today’s world. To be above it without having to be involved in it. To fly free for just a little while. The eagle is such a strong and beautiful symbol of freedom, that it always reminds me of hope. As I watch this eagle floating along, I am filled with a sense awe and peacefulness.

As I went on with my walk, it was with a little lighter step. My mind had wandered along the path of freedom that the eagle took, and I was able to share in what he sees as the eagle flies along.

Watching the news every day, we hear more and more about flooding and sandbagging. Snow pack in many areas is 300% above normal or even more. Rivers are very high, and lots of people are sandbagging in the hope of holding back the water. People are being forced to move to higher ground, and some have had to abandon their homes.

Wyoming had a lot of water last year, but nothing like they are expecting this year. I have lived here since I was 3 years old, and I don’t remember ever having water this high, but I suppose I might not have been paying much attention as a child. Now, as an insurance agent, I have clients who live by the river, and it does concern me. I know they have flood insurance, but I don’t want their homes destroyed. You can replace the home, but the memories and pictures and things are gone, and cannot be replaced.

Bob’s extended family lives in Forsyth, Montana, and they are right by the Yellowstone River. Flooding has already started there. I have seen pictures of standing water on the football field of the high school. Bob’s uncle lives just on the other side of the levee from the river, and said that if his sump pump wasn’t working, he would have 4 feet of water in his basement.

I occurs to me that an event like this one, with flooding in so many states can change lives in such a short time…sometimes forever. The floods along the Mississippi that are devastating so much of Louisiana…not to mention the rest of the states along the Mississippi, are just horrible. Of course, I don’t wish drought on anyone, but I wish there was a balance of the two.

I know this season will pass, and the waters will recede. People will rebuild, and move forward again. Human beings are a resilient bunch. We tend to fight our way back from the brink in many ways. Of course, after the return, we will find ourselves forever changed because of the time we spent in the water’s path.

Few things give as much pleasure as the excitement of a child when they receive a gift that so obviously excites them. And for a toddler, few things are more exciting than receiving a pony. Ponies have changed over the years, but how much kids love them hasn’t. How is it that kids just seem to instinctively know that riding is fun. We don’t even have to tell them. They just know. I suppose they have watched us, or television, or other kids. Whatever it is, they learn the fun of the ride…on whatever form of transportation they can catch a ride on.

Christopher received his pony for his first or second Christmas, and he was so excited. He had big eyes anyway, but when he was excited…well, wow!! His eyes in this picture were so big!! Christopher always had great expressions and this was one of the best. In fact, this is one of his favorite pictures. Those big eyes are such a draw.

Christopher and Shai, his cousin, being born one day apart and Amy babysitting Christopher, made them best friends from the start. Naturally they spent a lot of time together when their mom’s weren’t working too, so Shai had her opportunity to come over and play at Christopher’s house. On this particular day, they were taking turns on the pony, and both were equally excited about it. The adventure was on, and they were going places. No one knew where except them, but they knew.

Ponies just seem to have that effect on kids…or people for that matter. We all take great pleasure in them. Real or toys, they remind us of a simpler time and a bit of freedom. We can imagine the wind in our hair as we ride free across the plains. Sometimes if we try really hard, we can imagine a trip back in time to the days of the old west. Of course, for a two year old, it’s really all about the ride.

Thirty five years ago today, my youngest daughter, Amy was born. She was born 11 months after my older daughter, so for 1 month out of every year, they are the same age. It is something that I think the girls have both loved and hated, but I hope that they will come to enjoy the uniqueness of it. I have always thought it was very cool. I found out that there is actually a name for that…Irish Twins…a bit of trivia that I find interesting.

Amy has always been a short girl, so all of the various nick names were applied to her. I called her Strawberry Shortcake, and her dad called her squirt and shorty. Amy also had big eyes, blond hair and little bird legs, so I called her Tweety Bird. Nick names seem to be a way of life with most parents, and they quickly become little endearing terms. I don’t think parents ever forget the nick names we give our kids. They are just so cute that they are precious memories to us.

When Amy was about 2, I started bowling on a morning league with a nursery for the kids. Corrie had a great time, but it wasn’t quite so good for Amy…at first. The other kids thought she was a “walking doll” and they wanted to carry her around…an idea she didn’t go for, so when I heard this blood curdling scream that I recognized as Amy, I went running to the nursery, only to find that she was fine, and the kids would not try to carry her around again. Problem solved. As I said, Amy was little, but very capable of taking care of herself.

Amy has long since outgrown all of the little girl stories, even if she didn’t grow tall. She is a loving wife and mother, as well as a very capable insurance agent. I am very proud of all she has accomplished. She is a sweet and loving daughter and granddaughter, who is always willing to help out wherever she is needed. There is a saying, “Big things come in small packages” and that fits Amy very well. She may be small, but she is big hearted, a big help, and a big success. And I am very proud of her. Happy birthday Amy!!  I love you very much!!

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