Monthly Archives: November 2011

As a young bride, I wanted to be the best wife ever. I suppose that is what all young wives what to do. So they go out of their way to please their new husband. I was no different. Bob went to work at 5:00 am, so I got up at 4:00 am and made him a nice breakfast of all his favorite things. Bacon, eggs, hash browns, and pancakes, with orange juice and coffee, a breakfast fit for a king, or so I hoped. Going out for breakfast was one of the things we really enjoyed doing when we were dating.

For months Bob faithfully ate his breakfast every morning before he left for work. I then went about my day of cleaning and planning his dinner. I was in Seventh Heaven. Our life together was shaping up to be a “happily ever after” kind of life.

We went on like this for months. I was tired, getting up at 4:00 in the morning, but I was doing it for my man, and I knew that I could always go back to bed when he left for work. The main thing was that I knew that he went to work feeling full, well cared for, and most of all, loved. And he did feel those things, without a doubt, but there was something else he was feeling. Something I didn’t know about. After such a big breakfast, so early in the morning, Bob would go to work feeling so over full that it almost made him feel sick…even though the food was good.

Finally, after months of dealing with this problem, and not wanting to hurt his new wife’s feelings, Bob couldn’t take it any more. I remember him telling me that he needed to talk to me about something. Of course, as a new wife, I didn’t want to hear that, but I agreed. Bob…carefully choosing his words…told me that he simply couldn’t eat breakfast that early in the morning…it made him feel sick. He was so apologetic, and I could tell that he felt horrible telling me that.

What he didn’t know, is that I really hated getting up at 4:00 am to cook breakfast. I felt tired all day. I had never really been a morning person, although I learned to be later, but at that time…no way. I told Bob we really needed to talk more, and we both laughed about a what a funny situation that had been. I guess it was all about learning to communicate.

My parents had 5 daughters…and no sons. I’m sure that the early years were the same as they are in most homes, but with each additional daughter came a little less control for my dad. Now don’t get me wrong on that word control, because my dad was the boss. If we got to be too exasperating for Mom, her big threat was Dad, and while Dad rarely had to spank us, just knowing that he would was enough to make is behave ourselves.

The type of control I’m talking about is a little different. Being the only man in a houseful of women, especially when there are 5 daughters, means being seriously outnumbered. Imagine vying for the bathroom…and we had only 1 by the way…against 5 teen and preteen aged girls trying to get ready for school. I’m sure you get the picture. If Dad wanted a shower, he had better get it before 5:00 am, or he was most likely out of luck. And if he needed to use the bathroom…well, it might be easier to go somewhere else, or should I say quicker.

These kinds of things continued for most of Dad’s life. He always had to be the one to kill the bugs…especially the moths, which put his little princesses into screaming fits, instantly. We made him get up in the middle of the night while camping to “put another log on the fire” to keep the bears away…never mind the fact that we were inside, and the bears couldn’t get us anyway. I’m quite sure he watched more chick flicks than he ever wanted to as well. Nevertheless, Dad took it all in stride, allowing his girls to feel like princesses…with chores, of course…but still princesses. He gave in to the girlie side of his girls, and probably spoiled us pretty good. The house was filled with dolls and kitchen sets, tea sets, and cribs…all the things we needed to play house.

Later came the waiting on us to finally get ready so we could go somewhere, because we all know that it is impossible to leave the house without our makeup…and I mean it!! Dad knew quite well, that he might just as well sit down and read the paper, because he would have time to read the whole thing. I am reminded of the Brad Paisley song, “Waitin’ On A Woman” when I think of all the times my dad waited patiently for his girls to all get ready.

When there is one person, male or female, who happens to be the only person of that gender in their household, and they find themselves seriously outnumbered, yet they manage to keep their wits about them, I can’t help but think back on everything we put my dad through over the years. It occurs to me that they might just be a saint…or else they have just resigned themselves to the inevitable.

There is something special about being born on your great grandfather’s birthday. It becomes a bond between the two of you…something you will always share. That is the bond that my niece Machelle shared with her great grandfather…my mother-in-law’s dad. I was a unique birthday type that would be the second of it’s kind in our family. This kind of birthday makes the people involved very close. For the grandparent, it is like a special birthday gift…one that can’t be bought with money…a miracle that just happened to arrive on your special day. Very cool!!

For the grandchild, it gives a sense of connection to someone in a very special and unique way. One that your friends don’t usually get to have. And since Machelle was the second grandchild in our family to manage to arrive on a great grandparent’s birthday, it placed a connection between her and her cousin, my daughter, Corrie, who had also been born on a great grandparent’s birthday, and in fact, the same set of great grandparents, only her great grandmother. Now I don’t know the statistics on just how rare that is, but I do know it is unusually common in our family, having occurred 3 times over the years…but that is another story.

Machelle and her great grandfather celebrated birthdays together, and shared a closeness that can only come from such a special bond. Unfortunately, those special birthday moments were only to last until Machelle was 9 years old, at which time her great grandpa passed away from cancer. Still, I’m quite certain the bond between them remains in her heart.

Those things…that sense of connection to your great grandfather in a very special way…never really pass away. They are with you on every birthday. You don’t celebrate your special day without taking a moment to reflect on your great grandfather, and what he meant to you. You celebrate the day for both of you, because it occurs to you that without him you would not exist, and also that you were a very special birthday gift to him. One he would always look at as being very cool!! His birthday present. And as for the rest of us…well, we think Machelle is a beautiful, wonderful woman, who is a blessing to know. Happy birthday Machelle!! We love you.

When kids are little, the whole meal thing can be…well, a challenge. No kid is the same, and there are always things they don’t like to eat. To make matters worse, if you were raised in my generation, you were always told that you needed to clean up your plate, because there were children starving in Africa. It occurred to us that our not cleaning our plate was not going to help them anyway, but that was still the thing we were told. Of course, our parents were trying to teach us not to be wasteful, but when I was looking at tomatoes or peas…which I still do not really like, it didn’t make any difference, because I figured that if those children in Africa wanted my tomatoes or peas, they were welcome to them…just get me a to go box and I’d figure out a way to pay the postage.

My parents didn’t go for that, so I had to sit there until I cleaned up my plate. Yuck!! I tried everything I could think of to get out of it. I would put a forkful of peas in my mouth and then spit them into my napkin, but the darned things wouldn’t always stay in there, so I ended up getting them back. After a while, I learned how to make them stay in there pretty good, but I still got caught most of the time. Now tomatoes were a different story. Putting a forkful of stewed tomatoes in my mouth produced a pretty much instant gagging effect that was not faked, and trying to swallow was almost worse. I learned to plug my nose and swallow those nasty things whole…and quickly.

Sometimes, it isn’t a matter of not liking a food, but taking more than you can eat. My sister, Alena found that out on Thanksgiving one year, when she wanted to have the entire turkey leg. She argued with my dad about it until he finally gave in and let her have the entire turkey leg. Of course, she couldn’t eat it all, so Dad said she could have it the next day. Well, she still couldn’t eat it all, so she got it the next day…and the next. By that time it was covered with cranberry sauce and gravy, and just the site of it made Alena cringe. Dad would get that silly turkey leg out every day, and try to hide his emotions when he handed it to Alena. Finally, the turkey leg ended up in the trash, and to this day, Alena doesn’t eat the leg on turkey or chicken.

Yes, food can be an issue with kids , but eventually they outgrown that pickiness…or just grow up and move out, so they can make their own food choices. There are some things that I still don’t like…and probably never will, but as I found out recently with Avocados, it never hurts to try thing again once in a while, because your tastes might change. You never know, but tomatoes and peas…well not yet.

I met Bob while I was a senior in high school, and we were married a little over a year after graduation. After the wedding, we took honeymoon trip to Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park. Bob and I had a wonderful honeymoon, and while we were gone, my parents took care of our cat.

When we came home, we opened the front door to find that a few things had changed around our house. Our first clue was when we turned on the light and there was something on the switch…shaving cream. Stepping into the living room, we saw that there were torn newspapers all over the floor…and our cat had been having a great time shredding them. So we cleaned things up, laughing about the trick my parents had pulled off. Both our families are teasers and pranksters, so this was nothing new to us.

Then, I started to make dinner. We were going to have fried chicken…one of my favorite dishes, and as it cooked it smelled wonderful. As I was preparing the side dishes, a found that we had another surprise in store for us. All of the labels on our canned goods had been removed, so the side dishes were going to be a bit of a surprise too. In the end, we had fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, and peaches. Now that doesn’t sound too bad, until you add that fact that I like salt, so I used a generous amount on the chicken, and as we bit into it, we discovered that the salt and sugar had been switched. Bob was such a good sport. He told me it wasn’t so bad, and ate at least two pieces of chicken. Thankfully we had used a packaged gravy, so it was good…of course the potatoes were a little sweet. All in all, it wasn’t too bad, and nothing went to waste. Again, we laughed about the whole thing.

The final prank was discovered when we went to bed that night. There was a cup of rice over our door, so my parents got to throw the final handful of rice to commemorate our marriage. They had also short sheeted the bed…which I’m sure you can figure out, and there were a few crackers in there that needed to be vacuumed out, but the funniest thing was the fact that there were a selection of bells, including a cow bell tied to the bed springs…so I’m sure you get the picture on that one. We were too tired to remove those until the next day, so it wasn’t a quiet night, but we did get…some sleep.

I suppose some people might think our homecoming was a mean trick, but we thought it was totally funny, and it has been a funny memory that we have had for the last 36 years. I wonder how many other people can tell you all of the details of that first day home from their honeymoon.

Kids see things differently than we do. They are always watching the adults around them, trying to understand what things are important…or better yet, grown up. To be sure, that is good reason to be careful what you do, because there are always little eyes watching you, learning, trying to become you, because they love you. It is amazing to think that this little life is looking to you to shape it, and teach it what is right and wrong. It’s easy let the cute little bad habits pass, but not the best idea. Before you know it, you have to break those habits. It is also somewhat unnerving, to know that your every move is being watched and analyzed as only a child can do.

Kids are so willing to help out in the home when they are little…not that those days will last. They will figure out that it’s work soon enough, and then it won’t be so easy to get them to help out…without pay that is. Still, all too often, we won’t let them pitch in when they are little, because they don’t know how to do things right. A big mistake on our part I think. So it isn’t done perfectly…they will learn…if we let them. And the whole learning part is so cute, and they feel so grown up, that it is a shame to deny them that right to be a little helper. And what difference does it make if your bed isn’t perfectly made or the vacuuming perfectly done every day? Isn’t their self esteem more important?

And of course, there is the clothing lessons. They watch what you wear, and do their best to look just like you. It’s always funny to see little ones stumbling around in their mom’s or grandma’s heels or their dad’s or grandpa’s boots. Hats and mittens, coats and clothes, are all fair game when kids are playing dress up. They just look up to their parents so much…see them as the most beautiful of the most handsome person ever. Don’t you wish those days could last forever…or at least through the teenage years? But those days are gone so quickly and then they no longer see things through the eyes of a child.

Thanksgiving is a time to remember all your blessings, and where they came from. As I looked at this picture of our family at Thanksgiving, so long ago, is occurs to me just how blessed we are. This picture shows a pretty small group, but the reality is that our family has exploded with growth since that time. Most families do grow and change over the years. Children grow up, get married and have children…the blessings continue to grow. We have so much to be thankful for. Most of us live in the area, and have had the chance to stay very close. Our children know each other, and their children do too. We go to church as a family…taking up 3 rows of chairs these days.

Yes, there are some who have gone home to be with the Lord…Dad, Alyssa, Laila, Nancy, Marlyce, as well as grandparents and some aunts, uncles and cousins, and we miss them very much, but we are thankful that we will see them again, and that the Lord comforts us concerning those have gone home, and gives us the strength to move forward, in spite of the pain. And, I am thankful that my mom and my in-laws are all doing well, and I pray that continues for a long, long time. And I’m thankful that the rest of the family is also in good health. We are so blessed in that way, and I thank God for that.

So often, we dwell on our problems or disappointments, and forget to notice our blessings. Today, I want to focus on all the positive things in my life, and all the loved ones I have been blessed with. I want to focus on the freedoms we have, simply because we live in a country that values those freedoms. I am thankful for the men who have fought and died to win those freedoms. And mostly, I am thankful for my savior, Jesus, who came and died for me so I could have eternal life.

We all have so much to be thankful for. It is my hope today, that all is well with you and yours, and that you never take your blessings for granted. I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.

Have you ever noticed that in really old photographs, the people never smiled? I have often wondered why that is. I mean, I know that there were certain remote tribes of people who were deathly afraid of having their picture taken, because they thought that it stole your spirit. I really don’t think anyone thought that in the 1800’s when these old pictures were taken, so why is it that no one smiles…and some people actually look mad. Even the kids didn’t smile…not one! How do you get that many people to scowl all at the same time?

I know that life was hard in the old west, but it couldn’t have been that hard, or everyone would have packed it in and moved back to the east. The work was harder, so maybe everyone was just tired, still if you make yourself, just about anyone can paste on a smile for a few minutes, especially when you did know in advance that you were going to have your picture taken. I don’t know, it has just always amazed me that people would pay good money to have their picture taken, and then scowl in it, so it looks more like it was a photo for a wanted poster.

But, after giving this question a lot of thought, I think I have finally come up with the answer. I believe that these families like most families these days spent several hours arguing with their darling little ones, and by the time it was their turn, everyone was in such a fowl mood that no one felt like smiling. Wow!! Now if that is the reason, then it sounds just like group pictures of today. I can’t tell you how many times we have tried to get all the kids or grandkids to smile at the same time, much less to stop fighting long enough to avoid putting everybody in a terrible mood. So, who’s to say that those families didn’t have the same problem. Ok, maybe not.

We may never know exactly why all the pictures taken of families in the 1800’s were taken with a straight face or even a scowl, but what we do know is that by the early 1900’s, people realized that the best pictures are taken when the subjects smile, and look like they enjoy life and want to remember this great day. When history looks back on your pictures, what will it see? Why not a smile?

My dad always loved teaching his family about the history of this great country. He and my mom decided early on that they wanted to show us the country we lived in, and they most certainly did. We traveled from one coast to the other, from the north to the south. Dad would stop at every historical marker he could find along the way. We would get tired of stopping at all the markers, but from that we learned about things like the Oregon Trail…a trail that I’m pretty sure I have seen every marker for…but one that I know all about too.

He took us to Gettysburg, and we walked through the battlefield in hushed silence, because you can almost physically feel that this is hallowed ground…that the men who died there…who shed their blood to purchase freedom for all men…changed that place. Once you have been there and walked that place, you can never feel the same about a war that threatened to rip our country apart. And yet we remained, strong and determined.

Dad told us about the old west, and the cost of settling this country. Families that traveled by covered wagon, westward to find a better life for their families, because there was room to grow out in the west. Room to farm and ranch and carve out a living that was unavailable in the east, which was much too crowded. The settlers were people who longed to find out what was over the next mountain top. Adventurers who wanted freedom to make their own rules.

He taught us about the gold rush in the Black Hills, and then showed us how so much history still remains in the Black Hills. It became a place our family loved to go, and to this day Bob and I go over every year. It just has a hold on me…a draw that I can’t totally explain. I am always in awe there. The beauty of the hills, memorials, the 1880 train, and the old west shows in Keystone. I never get tired of being there.

Dad and Mom took us and later our kids to so many places and showed us so many things. It is something we will always be grateful for, and that we can never thank them enough for. They gave us something no teacher or classroom could have taught us…they gave us a little piece of history.

I was looking through some of my mom’s old grade school pictures, and the names on the back. I find myself amazed at the number of names that are familiar to me for one reason or another. I have lived most of my life right here in Casper, having moved here when I was 3. My mom has also lived here most of her life, with the exception of the first 6 years of her marriage, so I guess it stands to reason that there might be a name or two from her classmates that might have stayed on in Casper.

It was just somewhat unexpected I guess, although I don’t know why. Some names, of course, were common enough so that I wasn’t absolutely sure, but many were names I had heard…from my friends. One is the mother of a girl who was my best friend in junior high. Another was the mother of someone who was a client of mine a few years ago. Another was the same last name as a mortal enemy, later turned friend from junior high. And there was one who was related to someone I bowled with.

A name that really amazed me, although it probably shouldn’t have is most likely the daughter of a man who developed part of this town, because there is a street named after her, and again the name is not a common name and the street carries both her first and last name, so what are the odds that she isn’t the same girl? Pretty slim I’d say.

As I looked at the faces…kind of searching for a face that looked like one I use to know…it occurred to me that I was really looking at something very special. I was looking at the past, and the past had met my past, and who knows, maybe that past might just meet the future, because who knows how many of the children of those kids have stayed on here in Casper. It is totally possible that while the names might change due to marriage, many of the families remain the same, and my children’s children might go to school with the great grandchildren of classmates of my mom’s…as the past meets the future.