Monthly Archives: August 2011

I know many of you think this story is about a stock market crash, but this is a story about a different kind of crash. Bicycle helmets are a relatively new item, that was unheard of when I was a kid. They first began making them in about 1975, but weren’t very protective, They began improving them in the mid 80’s, but were rarely used. That said, it is safe to say that my girls grew up, just like their parents, not using a helmet when riding a bike. We weren’t considered negligent at that time. That was the way everyone rode their bicycle.

It was the summer of 1986, and almost the end of June. My daughter, Corrie would turn 11 on June 30th, a birthday she shared with her great grandmother. Like most kids, in the summertime, Corrie’s mode of transportation was her bicycle. We lived out in the country, and the road in front of our house was not a busy street, so my girls and their friends rode their bicycles there for hours each day. A few days before Corrie’s birthday, I was in the house while the kids played outside. Suddenly, I heard a blood curdling scream, and then another smaller scream. I ran outside, to find Corrie’s friend running to get me, tears streaming down her face, yelling, “Corrie wrecked her bike!!”

I ran out to Corrie, to find her bleeding from her face, and I don’t mean her nose. The scrape looked really bad, but I could tell that it would not need stitches. I did think there was a definite possibility that she would have a scar on her face. My heart sank. I hated to think of her having a scar for life. I prayed inwardly, so I wouldn’t scare her, and asked God to please heal her face without a scar. Since she hit her face, I watched for all the usual signs of concussion, but nothing ever came of that. Nevertheless, she was very upset. She was horrified that she would look awful on her birthday and in the pictures that would be taken…typical of a soon to be 11 year old girl.

She survived the horror of having her picture taked with a scab on her face, and her face healed with no scarring, for which I praise God. The birthday party went on, in spite of the scab, and this story has a happy ending, but the moral of the story is this: To avoid your own crash story like this one, I recommend that you and your kids wear a bicycle helmet. While it won’t necessarily save you from the crash, it might save your face from the scabs and scars.

Loosing the baby teeth. It is a rite of passage. The move from being a baby to being a big kid. Most kids lose a couple of teeth at a time, and maybe 4,  Too many teeth lost at the same time can make eating somewhat difficult. I remember teasing my girls, and then the grandkids about having to eat baby food, since they lost their teeth. They would always roll their eyes, and say “Mommmmm!!” or “Grandmaaaa!!” I’d just laugh. They always knew I was teasing, but they liked the teasing just the same. It brought attention to the gaping hole in their mouths, and made them feel special.

Most of the time these little toothless moments caused very few problems, but in 2005, when Josh was 7, losing teeth took on a little bit different direction…to say the very least. Josh lost a couple of teeth, and then two more before those could come back in, and then, two more!! He had so many teeth missing, that it truly became difficult to eat anything besides soft foods. I suppose it was a good thing that Josh liked foods like macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs. Otherwise, he might have starved, and since he has always been a slender kid, it wouldn’t have taken too long. My teasing about baby food, seemed to have come true. Not that it would have been a bad thing either, since baby food comes is some pretty good dessert flavors, anyway.

Nevertheless, Josh does look a little bit concerned in this picture, so I have to wonder what he is worried about. If I know Josh, it has to do with some food he might not be able to eat, but that could be pretty much anything from granola bars to apples. More likely he was just making a face. That’s how Josh is. He can make some of the funniest faces, and have some of the goofiest smiles, but truly, no smile can really top this one. There are so many teeth missing…that this smile is practically gums only.

Of course, at 7 years old, there is one more possible reason for Josh’s face.He may have been wondering if somehow he was different than most kids. He might have thought that this rite of passage had gone a little wrong somehow…like would his teeth ever come back…would he be able to eat real food again??? For Josh, that could be a big concern, because he really likes to eat. And I don’t think baby food is exactly what he had in mind. Thankfully, this rite of passage soon passed, and Josh has his new teeth…Whew!!!

Everyone hopes that the marriages in their family will last forever, but sadly that is not always the way things work out. Bob’s grandparents on his dad’s side divorced when his dad was about 5, I believe and for many years, Bob’s dad would have nothing to do with his real dad. In fact, Bob would be a grown man with two daughters of his own before we would know anything more than that his grandpa was the sheriff of Forsyth, Montana for many years before he retired. The one thing we did know is that if your last name was Schulenberg in Forsyth, Montana, they knew who you were related to…the sheriff. He was a much loved sheriff for a long time.

My father-in-law finally reconnected with his dad at a family reunion about 1980. We went to the family reunion the next time, and my girls were able to meet their great grandpa for the first time. We knew about the hard feelings from the past, but my father-in-law had decided to put that all behind him and be friends with his dad, so we felt comfortable getting to know him, knowing that we would not be hurting my father-in-law’s feelings.

The years had changed him from the man who could not seem to get along with grandma, to a much more mellow person…someone who maybe realized what he had missed out on through those many years of no contact. Bob and his family had visited Forsyth many times after moving to Wyoming, but the kids would not have known their grandpa if they saw him on the street…unless he was in uniform of course, but Bob doesn’t recall ever meeting him.

Grandpa would pass away before we got a chance to see him again, and much about him remains a mystery to us. We know that he remarried after the divorce, and had another son, who has stayed in contact with my father-in-law, and is a very nice man. We know that during his retirement years he made wooden lawn chairs, and he gave one to each of his great granddaughters. It will be the only thing they will have to remember him by…other than a couple of pictures. It is sad that so much of their heritage is lost to them, but that is the way it goes sometimes in a divorce. I will always be grateful that we had the chance to meet him, even if it was only once.

I was thinking about something my Aunt Sandy said to me a while back about talking to my mom about the old stories before it is too late…before she forgets them, or before she were to go home to be with the Lord. Then I was listening to some tapes by Jesse Duplantis, while on a long drive to and from Denver for a class these past couple of days. Jesse Duplantis talks about a minister, or evangelist being a gift from God placed in your life to be a blessing…to get God’s word out to you. That got me thinking abut the other gifts in our lives…our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

Early in our lives these people nurture us, teach us how to grow up, take care of our physical needs, and our emotional needs. They might babysit us, or later, let us spend the night. They are role models for us, to teach us right from wrong, and social etiquette. We learn our early sense of style from them…at least until we are old enough to want our own style. We get our early religious training from them, whether it is to go to church or not, it usually comes from the adults around us. There are so many characteristics, that can be traced back for our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

They do all these things for us and yet all too often we think of them as outdated, behind the times…especially in technological matters, annoying, interfering, and…well, anything but a gift. And yet, that is exactly what they are, and we get to have them for a very short time…too short. Just ask anyone who has lost their parent or parents, and see how they feel about them now. Do they regret that they didn’t spend enough time with them? Yes, because no matter how much time you spent, it wasn’t enough. If I could spend one more day with my Dad, would I do it? Absolutely, and I would treasure it…you have no idea how much I would treasure it, but I can’t. That gift is no longer here, but sometimes in thinking about the gift I have lost, I forget to see the gifts that are still in front of me. Sometimes, I see them as more of a job than a gift. Most of you know that I am a caregiver for my mom and my mother and father-in-law. Sometimes, I let myself lose site of the purpose of that caregiving…which is to keep the gifts in my life, in my life for a little longer. Do yourself a favor, and see the gifts in your life…cherish them…and as my Aunt Sandy would tell you talk to them about all the stories of their past…your heritage, that only they can tell you, and once they are gone, the stories are gone too. Whatever you do in life…cherish the gifts you have been given.

My grandson, Caalab, has always had a thing for the older woman. Practically from the time he was born, he had made up his mind that he was going to marry his mom’s best friend, Carina. We all figured that it would be a passing phase, since many little boys love older girls, and for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they “oooo and awww” around the lucky kid and do all the things they do to make them smile and laugh, thereby letting the little boy know that they are just the coolest thing ever. And maybe those girls are right about that, but then again, maybe I’m biased. I do think I have the coolest, handsomest grandsons ever, and the coolest and prettiest granddaugter ever.

As he got older, it became obvious that Caalab wasn’t really changing his mind about Carina. He was pretty gone on her, and in fact, when she was about to get married, we had to let Andy, her fiance know in no uncertain terms that he would not only have to get Caalab’s ok, but when the time came for Caalab to marry Carina, Andy would have to step aside…and just be a man about it too. As they years have gone by, Caalab had determined that it wouldn’t really be fair to Andy, to ask him to step aside, especially now that Carina and Andy have a son, and a boy really needs to have both mom and dad around if possible, so he has turned his focus on other older women.

Caalab’s dad, Travis, is the announcer for the local Roller Derby Girls, so Caalab gets to go to the derbies quite often, and I don’t know if it is just because he is so cute, or what, but here he is again, cozying up to the older woman…and receiving a kiss for his efforts and cuteness. But, as he has gotten older himself, he is still keeping his options open. He isn’t just limiting himself to one older woman. He likes them all. From his mom’s friends, to roller derby girls, to beauty queens. If he can cozy up to a pretty girl, he will do it. And I suppose one can’t really blame him for noticing a pretty girl. And the good news is that as he gets older, the older woman seems to get younger.

How well I remember the visits to Bob’s grandparents house in Forsyth, Montana. We used to go there every year for a visit. A lot of the visit revolved around the kitchen, where Grandma always seemed to be busily cooking up something. From that first cup of coffee in the morning with real cream from the cows they milked, and fresh eggs that she went out and gathered herself, toast and real butter, to the jellies and pies and cakes she made, everything just tasted different there…special. I suppose it was because of the fact that it was all farm fresh, and not store bought, but I think it was the love that it was made with too.

We loved going out to that old house, even though it was a bit of a drive to be sure. They owned a lot of land…I’m not just sure how much, but it was a big ranch, so the drive out to the house took some time. You could see the highway from their front yard, but it was a long way off. Mostly they owned everything as far as the eye could see. I remember sleeping in the bedrooms upstairs where they raised their children, Bob’s aunts and uncles. The rooms still looked like they did when the kids were living there, complete with the pictures they had on their dressers. It was like stepping back into time, for a little while.

But the best times were spent in the kitchen. We would play cards, for as long as Grandpa (Walt, who was Bob’s step grandpa, but never felt like it to us) could keep the game going, or Grandma would call it a day. Grandpa could play cards all day if she would let him, but she has other things she needed to do. She was always busy in that kitchen. I often wondered if she was so busy because we were there, or if that was always how she was. Of course, when we were there, my girls and I would help out, which they really enjoyed. Funny how your kids enjoy helping out at someone else’s house, but will do anything to get out of work at your own house. She just made it feel like fun, I guess. The girls always felt special at Grandma’s table too, because she had these old pans, that looked like a camping skillet, that the kids got to eat out of. I suppose most people would laugh at that, but there isn’t a one of the grandchildren that didn’t get to use them, nor one that doesn’t love those old pans.

I have been thinking a lot about that old house, and the treasured memories I have from there, and wishing that those days weren’t in the past now. Grandma and Grandpa have gone home to be with the Lord, and while I miss them a lot, they will always live on in my memories…especially the ones in Grandma’s kitchen.

In a world that gets busier by the moment, it is hard to keep up with your close friends, much less your aunts, uncles, and cousins, who you don’t hang out with on a regular basis. So, every year my mom’s family has a family picnic in the summer. That and the annual family Christmas party provide a chance to reconnect with an ever growing family. Since her family is quite large and most of us still live in the Casper, Wyoming area, the turn out is usually pretty large. There were a lot of people who were not there this year, but it could easily pass for a small company picnic without stretching the imagination too far.

My mom and her siblings are getting older now, and some of them have trouble getting around. They don’t get together as often as they would like, because it is harder for them. So, the annual family picnic is a nice way for them to spend some time together, and for their kids, grandkids, and great grandkids to enjoy the time as well. They sit around and talk about the old days…about those who have gone home before us and about their memories of them. And get to know the new babies who have joined our family.

This year, thanks to Facebook, where I have connected with a number of my cousins grown and teenaged kids, I knew more of the kids better than ever before. They are a great bunch of kids, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them. It is a rare thing, I think, to know the children and grandchildren of your cousins pretty well, especially in a family that numbers over 300, but I can say that I do. And I feel very blessed to know them.

I have been to many of these family picnics. And many are spent asking who this or that new person is, but this time I knew…I knew them, and their kids. I suppose that many people would think this an odd statement, because we all live in the same town, but when you really think about it, do you know your cousins kids and grandkids well? If you are like most families, probably not.

Kids…their biggest goal is to be just like the adults…practically from the moment they are born. They watch the things the adults around them do and they notice the things that are done over and over. These things, they determine, are the important things that make you a grown up. It can be very entertaining.

Kids have a way of making you laugh that is all their own. One of the funniest things they do is the “hats” they wear. They see others around them wearing a hat, and because they are little, that seems like the coolest thing to them, and they want to mimic their parents, or other adult. It makes them feel all grown up. Even if the hat is too big, they will put it on and do their best to make it stay put.

And it doesn’t have to be a hat at all, in order to make it important head gear, like the ear muffs grandpa wears when he mows the lawn. They are an important item to be on your head, and nobody says they just have to be on over your ears, they can be a great fashion statement for the stylish little girl of the 90’s. And if you could just add a pair of heels, this little girl would be on her way to Hollywood for sure.

Of course, sometimes things don’t go just exactly as planned. Sometimes the cutest hat in the world just won’t cooperate very well, and doesn’t it just figure that at the biggest wardrobe malfunction of the season, there would just naturally be someone right there with a camera to capture the unsuspecting model looking…well, not quite her normal perfect self.

Yes, hats and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly. But sometimes that head gear can be a bit of a challenge to our little people…and a definite source of smiles for their parents.

When my grandchildren were younger, their moms had to be to work at 8:00am, and I didn’t have to be to work until 9:00am, so I took the kids to school and daycare. They would begin arriving at my house around 7:30am, and when Josh, my youngest grandson, would walk in the front door, the first words out of his mouth were always the same…”Treat, Grandma…treat!!” Josh was a treat-a-holic, he had a one track mind, and he was always hungry. Left alone with a bag of candy, he would devour it all in one sitting. It wasn’t a matter of greed, he just liked treats so much that he couldn’t stop himself very easily.

When Josh would start asking for a treat with his cute little face, it was a hard thing to resist and I think he knew that, because he took full advantage of the hold he had on his grandma’s heart. He probably conned me out of more treats than the other three grandchildren combined. The only good news was that I tried to have some nutritious sweet snacks in the house, so he wasn’t always eating junk. I just don’t know how one kid could eat so many treats.

Josh can be a bottomless pit, but not usually for the normal foods unless he is in a growth spurt, but he is always a bottomless pit when it comes to sweets, like many other people I know, but that is where the similarities end, and I’m sure it is because he is a kid. You would expect that a child who likes candy and treats as much as Josh, would be an overweight child, but as soon as his baby days were over, so was any sign of chubbiness. Josh turned into a slender, athletic young man, who is a good basketball player and runner. He is also doing well in school, and I am very proud of him, but oh, I do remember the days when that little boy could smile his way into my heart and come out with the prize he was looking for…a treat.

Today, August 11th, as I write this, it is my nephew, JD’s birthday. He is 23 years old. I remember when he was born…premature by several weeks. My sister-in-law, Jennifer is a OB nurse, and she knew something was wrong, and she knew exactly what it was…Placenta Previa. Sometimes that condition can go along and not be too dangerous to mother or baby, and the baby is simply delivered by Cesarean Section to avoid excessive bleeding, but in some cases, as in JD’s case, bleeding begins and an emergency Cesarean Section is necessary.

On August 11, 1988, Jennifer knew she had a serious problem, and worse yet, she was at home…alone. She also knew that by the time someone could get to her, it would most likely be too late, so she drove herself the mile or so to the hospital, where she was rushed to surgery for an emergency Cesarean Section in a desperate and, in the end, successful attempt to save the lives of her and her baby, JD.

JD came into this world, a healthy premature baby, because his mother knew what to do, and God protected both of them on a very dangerous journey that had to be taken, because their very survival depended on it. JD’s birth, and continuing health were brought about by a series of miracles. I thank God that He protected both of them.

Now, 23 years later, JD is a successful mechanic, and a very sweet young man. It would have been such a loss to our family, if he were to have never been a part of it. It is a gift from God that he is here, and we are all very blessed. So happy birthday JD!! You have been in my thoughts all day today. Hope your birthday was awesome. May God continue to bless you always!!

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