Monthly Archives: July 2011

Everyone needs time to relax sometimes. Many times, the company picnic is not exactly the place for that relaxation, however, our company picnic today was an amazing way to relax. We are a small company, and the majority of the people who work there are my family members. That in itself is unusual, when you don’t own the business, but that is how it is at our office.

Jim owns the company, and I started working with him in 1996. Through the early years of our time together, it was just him and me. Through the years we added different people, who came and went. Then, my daughter, Amy would come to work with us in 2009, and Amy’s daughter, my granddaughter Shai in 2010. Her son, my grandson Caalab does maintenance around the building and helps Jim with odd jobs. When we decided to get a website, it would be my daughter, Corrie who build that site for us. So you can see that now, even though Jim owns the business, he is surrounded by family…mine, and since we are such good friends, we have informally adopted Jim and Julie, so I guess it is all family. The other people at our picnic, were my husband, Bob, my sons-in-law, Kevin and Travis, my other two grandsons Chris and Josh, Kenny, the person who had done all the construction on our building who is also a friend of Jim and Julie’s, and and another friend of theirs, Sondra.

As I said, ours is a small company, and that was the extent of our company picnic. Now, add to that the fact that it was held at Jim and Julie’s cabin, with the hummingbirds also in attendance, and you have the recipe for a lovely, relaxing time. The hummingbirds entertained us, and we all just sat around and relaxed. It was a day spent in the company of good friends, and it was very enjoyable. Jim took the kids for rides on his 4-wheeler, and they each had a wonderful ride. the rest of the adults sat and visited. After dinner, he finished the rides, and then sat down to visit with the rest of us. We would sit and enjoy the citronella lanterns well into the evening, finally saying good night at about 9:15pm. It was a lovely day. Thanks Jim and Julie.

My dad was always quite the kidder. He loved to joke around with his girls. He was also a bit of a history buff. He loved to travel, and in our many travels, his favorite thing was to stop at historical markers…especially the Oregon Trail. I’m pretty sure I have seen every marker for that one there is. Obviously, we didn’t have a good appreciation for some of his history information, like we should have, and might have today, but one historical fact that was of interest to all of my dad’s daughters was, Christopher Columbus. I’m pretty sure Christopher Columbus was my dad’s favorite historical character.

I can’t say for sure when this story got started, but I can tell you that I was pretty young. The way the story went is this. Dad would begin by telling us that according to historical records, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492…and you all know the rest of the story, right? Well, not exactly. You see, the story continues like this. Dad would tell us, “In reality, Chris didn’t discover America.” We would say, “He didn’t?” Dad would answer, “Nope, I did, but I was a nice guy, so I let Chris take the credit for it.”

We probably believed this tall tale early on, but after a while, we just went along with the joke because Dad liked it…and so did we. I think he always thought the idea of sailing across the ocean back in those days, in search of a new route or a new world, would be an exciting venture. He always had the heart of an adventurer, a fact that blessed his whole family with the ability to see many places. Dad loved to take us there…wherever there might be this time. And I think he always loved the idea of seeing beyond the normal range of vision…like a sailor looking out over the bow, or a mountain climber looking off across the mountain range from the top. It was a vision that would bless his whole family.

I think my dad might have been a lot like Christoper Columbus. I think they both had a way of looking at things that goes deeper than average. A way of being able to pull the extraordinary from the ordinary. Maybe it was fantasy, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little bit of that in life.

I had to take my father-in-law to the doctor today for a followup visit after a hand injury. With Alzheimer’s Disease, we cannot leave my mother-in-law home alone, so when we have an appointment where I can’t easily take both of them in, we have someone come in to stay with her. Since her sister, Margee retired, she has been able to come over and sit with her, and often she brings he granddaughter, Stasi along. Stasi enjoys coming for a visit, which is such a blessing.

Teenagers don’t often want to go visit the elderly, much less help out, but Stasi loves coming over to visit my in-laws, and even when I get back with my father-in-law, she is often not really ready to leave. She is always willing to help my father-in-law out, by doing whatever is needed. She has pulled weeds for him, a well as many odd jobs around their house. And this last week, when my niece Machelle was painting window frames, Stasi was right there to help her. Stasi is very simply a very sweet girl, and one who likes to be a blessing.

Stasi, her brother, and her Dad live with her grandmother, Margee, my mother-in-law’s sister. Stasi’s mom passed away in 1998. Stasi helps her grandmother, just like she does my in-laws. She shows a kindness toward others that would make her mother very proud of her. It is hard to lose a parent at any age, but when it is at such a young age, very often life goes on without really missing that parent, but Stasi has never forgotten. Perhaps it is because of grandparents and her dad to keep her in remembrance of what a special woman her mother was. Whatever it is, Stasi has never forgotten and strives to live a life that would make her mom proud of her.

As I said, Stasi often helps out her grandmother, who is on oxygen and has a hard time getting around. It is a monumental task for a young girl to take on, but as I am finding with Stasi, it is one that she does well with. And yet, she still takes pleasure is coming over to my in-law’s house, her great aunt and uncle, and help out with whatever they need. She is a wonderful young lady, as anyone who knows her will attest.

It takes a village to take care of the elderly at home, and the longer I am in this situation, the more I have learned to notice and appreciate those who happily and willingly give of their time, resources, and mostly themselves to make the later part of someone’s life be a little bit better. It is a gift that can never be repaid. How do you thank someone for their kindness and sacrifice in the service of others? You can’t. It is impossible. All you can do is hope that in some small way you have made them aware that you see their kindness and sacrifice…that it has not gone unnoticed…that while you can never repay, you most certainly do appreciate all they do.

Our family has been taking care of my mother-in-law for several years now, and caregiving, as anyone who has done it can attest, is a team effort. Many families have very small teams, due to few children in the family, or the inability of the family members to help for whatever reason. Sometimes family members are physically or emotionally unable to help, and sometimes they live too far away. I think every family has those who live too far away to help, and our family is no different.

Every family also has a variety of skills in it that can be put to use is the care of a patient. Sometimes, like in our family, you are blessed with a nurse, and other times, also like ours, you have people who have done this before and have acquired the necessary skills to be of assistance. That said, this story isn’t about those people. This is a skill of a different kind and a caregiver who has been a blessing in her own way, whether she knows it or not.

Machelle is a part of the family that lives in a different town than the rest of us. She lives in Powell, which is about 4 hours away from Casper. While Machelle isn’t able to be here to help on a daily basis, when she is here, she is so willing to help, that it really warms my heart. She is a licensed Cosmetologist, and when she comes down, all I have to do is ask, and she cuts and perms my mother-in-law’s hair, and cuts my father-in-law’s hair. She is willing to clip their nails if I haven’t already done that, and any other grooming thing we need.

And if that isn’t enough, when she was here last weekend for a wedding in the family, she took the time to paint the frames on several windows for my father-in-law. She has done yard work too. She is just a very sweet and very helpful person. Machelle gives of herself without asking for any kind of special recognition, but those who know me and have read my blogs know that I like to give credit where credit is due. Machelle deserves a lot of credit for all she has done to help. We really appreciate it Machelle. You are a great blessing and I love you very much.

We are a little bit past the middle of summer, and it is a time when it usually starts to get pretty dry in Wyoming, but this is not a normal year…in many places. We have had a wet year so far, but nevertheless, in the last few weeks, I have noticed more brown in our lawn than before. One would think that with all the snow we got this year, and the overflowing rivers, that the lawns would be lush and green, but that is not the case. It doesn’t take many days at almost 100 degrees to scorch the grass…not to mention the people.

My daughter, Amy loves the rain. When the clouds start moving in, she stars cheering. Most people hate to have it rain at the end of a work day in the summer, because it ruins their plans for the evening, but rain makes Amy come alive. When it starts to rain, it is all Amy can do not to run out the door to go drive in the rain. She says there is nothing quite like driving in the rain. Each of us has something that makes us feel alive. Of all the different things it could be, rain is probably one of the nicest.

I particularly like thunder storms, provided I am not out in them. Lightning and the ensuing thunder are God’s fireworks, if you ask me, and I think it is beautiful. I guess that is why I would rather see those clouds move in a little later in the day. Lightning is at its best after dark. I love how it lights up the whole sky, and when the thunder rolls, especially if the strike was close, the whole house shakes. It’s very cool and it always makes a cozy night at home that much more cozy.

There just really isn’t a negative side to a rain storm, including afterward. The lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, the rain pours down, the air smells fresh and clean, and then, after it’s all over, comes the promise…the rainbow…the last beauty of the storm. There is just something about a rainbow. It’s beauty and mystery are beyond compare. Though many have tried to explain how it might come to be, but it just doesn’t add up. It’s God’s masterpiece. His gift to us. His promise. And it is awesome. All of it, together making up the beauty of the mid-summer rain.

Being the baby of the family is a position that is is very unique. The baby of the family is often treated differently. Maybe it’s because parents don’t like to think of their last child growing up. We talk baby talk longer, help them more with things, make their siblings help with more things, and in general baby them more. Maybe it’s isn’t always a good thing, but it is the way it goes most of the time.

And when you are also the youngest grandchild, maybe you get the baby of the family treatment even more. Josh was both of these things, and to top it off, he had a rough start too, which I will tell about on his birthday in September. Josh has had a love/hate relationship with baby of the family syndrome for a long time. Sometimes, like when he didn’t have to do the hard chores, because he was too little, he liked it, but when his older brother was babysitting…well it wasn’t so much fun. No kid likes to be bossed around.

But, Josh isn’t a baby anymore. He has grown tall and is very capable of regular chores, which he probably doesn’t like too much,  and taking care of himself, which I’m sure he does like. He has a mind of his own about sports too. While his brother loves football, Josh would rather play basketball and be in track, both of which his tall, slender stature are better suited for anyway, so it’s all good.

And as usual, things come to the baby of the family after everyone else gets to do them. That would also lead to a few less stories about that youngest child, simply because they haven’t lived as long and the others, and therefore haven’t had as many experiences. Not an easy thing to swallow for a kid.

That said, however, there is something that Josh has a heart to help others. Whenever he can, he tries to assist my mom, his great grandmother in getting to her car after church. No one asks him to do it, he just does it. He has a kind heart. He also has a good sense of humor. He likes to joke around and especially to pick on me, his shorter than him grandma…because he can!!

Five years ago, my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My dad had become very ill a few months earlier, and we needed my mom on the caregiving team we had going with him, so when we knew something was wrong with her, we were overwhelmed at the thought of coping with two seriously ill parents, and having one less person on the care team to do it with. Mom’s brain tumor had affected her ability to stay awake. She slept all the time. We thought she was depressed, and that surprised us because my dad was getting so much better. It also affected her ability to speak the correct words. She could speak, but it didn’t always make sense. That was when we knew she was not depressed.

We needed a new plan. My granddaughter Shai, who was a very mature 10 years old at the time was called into service, and she stepped up and took over the daytime care of my parents, her great grandparents. By this time, my dad was awake most of the day, but movement was still difficult and he didn’t know what pills he needed or what other care was needed, so Shai did it all. I worked just 4 blocks away, and my boss was willing to let me do what I needed to do…a great blessing to me and my family. I came over at lunch and helped out, and right after work too. My older sister lived with them, and so was home in the evenings. My other sisters helped out several times a week, as did several of the grandchildren and great grandchildren. We had home health care that came in to help too, but a lot of it was on Shai. Our family will always be grateful to her for all she did that summer.

Mom’s tumor was a Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. The Oncologist we were blessed with, told us that this was the best case scenario. He said that if it was a Lymphoma, while still cancer, they often said that it was “only” a Lymphoma. It was reason for him and us to praise God, which we both did, since he was a believer too. We felt very blessed that he was the doctor we got, because, he never lost hope, and neither did we.

Mom began her treatments in July of 2006, and by January of 2007, the tumor was completely gone. Her speech returned to normal and she was able to function again. He continued treatment for a time just to be sure, and then came the many followup visits, all of which showed no regrowth of the Lymphoma. My mom was a survivor. She has been cancer free now for 4 1/2 years, and we thank God daily for that blessing. While my dad has gone home to be with the Lord, and she misses him terribly, she knows that she has been given a great gift…life.

At the time Bob was a teenager, before his little brother, Ron came into the picture, Bob was the only boy in his family, and with 4 sisters, there were plenty of potential victims for his many pranks. Ron would not be born until Bob was 14, so until Bob was 16 to 18, Ron was too little to get himself into too much trouble, or get very involved in the pranks his older brother was pulling. That would come later on. Bob got into plenty of trouble with his older sisters, but this story is about him and his younger sisters. You see Bob was the third child, with 2 sisters older, and 2 sisters younger and finally his little brother joined them later.

Bob, like most boys loved to tease his younger sisters. His sister, Brenda told me that he would chase his sister, Jennifer, with spiders…something I can very much envision, since he has teased me and my girls in the same way. Mind you, it wasn’t with a live spider, but more of a…”Here, don’t you want to see it” kind of thing, which still makes me and probably most other women cringe to say the least. Spider guts are only slightly less disgusting than a spider is scary. I hate spiders…just in case you couldn’t tell. Now, I don’t know what Jennifer did to be the one who was threatened with spiders or spider guts, but one thought would be that she was the best screamer over it. That, to a boy is a really good motivator to continue the torment that I am quite certain continued for quite some time.

Now, his sister, Brenda, got a little bit different treatment. I don’t know if it was because she was younger, or more cooperative when he asked her to call some girl he liked, but was too shy to call, maybe she wasn’t as scared of spiders. Brenda tells me of the times she called girls for him, so I suspect he had to be a little nicer to her. Brenda got candy and chocolate bars, so she would stay motivated to help him out. I guess you would have to say Bob was thinking ahead anyway. And so was Brenda…she had seen the torment Jennifer went through. I suppose you have to compromise sometimes. I know for a fact it’s what I would do, if it meant the difference between spiders and chocolate bars.

My nephew Eric, brought his girlfriend to a family gathering about 2 years ago. We are a pretty big family, so I’m sure that was overwhelming to the extreme, but Ashley handled it very well. Before long, as we got to know her, I think everyone could see that these two wonderful people belonged together. They have so much in common, and with each passing day, the bond between them grows stronger and the love grows deeper. They will be a wonderful blessing to each other.

I have known Eric all of his life. I have watched him grow from a sweet little boy into a man who makes me very proud to be his aunt. He is a man of integrity, hard working, and very faithful and loving to Ashley. I wish I had known Ashley when she was young, because it doesn’t take much looking to see how special she is. I’m sure she was a great little girl too. I can see they were both raised by great parents to be great people, and they certainly are a couple of great people.

There are differences in how they were raised. She in the country, and he in town. Eric loves motorcycles and Ashley loves horses, but that doesn’t stop a mingling of the differences to create sameness. They both love animals…even Roo, now that Eric knows him better. Ashley was the only one who could see Roo’s true potential, but just as she expected, he grew on Eric and now they are best buddies. They both have a great sense of humor, which anyone who knows them and has seen them goofing off can attest to. All these things come together and create a couple, and that is what it is all about.

So, today they take the ultimate step in their relationship…marriage. All the plans have been made. Their preparations, along with the preparations of loving families and friends who have helped put together a wedding that will be remembered and cherished for the rest of their lives. Moving past a few little glitches, which they seemed to have taken in stride, they will now embark upon their journey into the rest of their lives. What their future hold, no one knows for sure, but I believe they will be able to handle whatever comes their way, and arrive comfortably together, hand in hand, to that place every marriage strives for…happily ever after. Congratulations Ashley and Eric!! I know you will be very happy!! I love you both very much!!

When my first niece, Chantel was born, my parents were so excited about being grandparents. Chantel was just so little, and still is for that matter. Her small size brought about the nickname that my dad came up with…Teensy. That name progressed into, or perhaps from teeny tiny, and then to little teensy, and teens (not to be confused with the adolescent). Maybe my dad just knew something the rest of us didn’t, because, Chantel has grown into a beautiful 4′ 10″ woman…and I do use the word “grown” pretty lightly, since we can all tell from my description that growing was not something Chantel excelled in. She is definitely vertically challenged, but that is the extent of her “challenges” in my opinion.

Chantel, always had flair. From the very first picture, you knew she was special. She was very much a girly girl. She loved posing for pictures, and is very photogenic as you can see. She loved makeup and bling. It was one of the things about her that made her fun. I don’t know, maybe we were biased, because she was our first niece/granddaughter, but everyone in our family was pretty taken with teensy. For much of her early life, she was like another sister to my younger sisters. She went a lot of places with them, and while they did fight some, they all had a good time.

Chantel is grown now, and many grandchildren/nieces and nephews have followed in her little footsteps. She has moved on to motherhood and one day soon I’m sure she will become a grandmother, although there is not big hurry for that. While she has become an adult, her flair for the beautiful has not diminished. She adds her special touch to every part of her life and the lives of those around her. She has a knack for interior decorating, and her home shows it. She has created a lovely home for her family…something not everyone can do. She could easily be an interior decorator. She is a natural when it comes to style. After watching her from birth to adulthood, I know that her sense of style is something she was born with, because it has always been there.

While Chantel can be as tough as the next woman when she needs to be, it is her sweet spirit that most impresses me. She would choose to love others over any other way of life. She has a kindness about her that is very endearing. Her smile and laugh can lift the clouds from a dreary day, and bring back the sunshine. She is as much a blessing today as she was the day she first arrived, if not more. Love you Chantel!!