Monthly Archives: January 2012

When our girls were little, Bob was quite smitten with them. So much so, in fact, that all it took was a little smile or giggle to get him to give in to their…requests, and yet, not feel one bit taken in by them. The reality, however, is that he was extremely taken in by them. In fact, he lived wrapped around their tiny little baby fingers…and it didn’t seem to bother him one bit. Bob loved his girls, and they loved their daddy.

We had a little joke that the girls and I played on Bob as they got a little older. If they wanted to do something, or wanted to go somewhere, and Bob seemed to be…undecided, I told the girls to flutter their eyelashes and say, “I love you Daddy.” Needless to say, it worked like a charm. Of course, we wouldn’t have used it on something that he seriously didn’t want to do, but I’m not so sure Bob knew that. Through the years, the girls used their Daddy’s Little Girl trick on Bob quite a bit. Even when it wasn’t necessary. If they wanted a candy bar at the store, or a new pair of jeans, Daddy’s Little Girls sweet talked their dad to get what they wanted. Of course, their love for their dad would never have allowed them to take advantage in any big way…just the ones Bob wanted to give in on anyway.

Being Daddy’s Little Girl does take a certain amount of work too…like watching him Daddy's Little Helperwork on his truck, or handing him his tools, but the girls were pretty good at that too. As they grew up, Bob got more and more accustomed to his place in life. Corrie and Amy perfected their…controlling touch over Bob’s heart. They could pretty much get anything they wanted…within reason.

Not much has changed over the years. The other night Amy was at the bowling alley, and well…payday wasn’t until today, so she smiled at Bob and said, “Dad, do you want to buy me a beer?” He looked at her like…”Not really!” And in perfect Daddy’s Little Girl style, Amy said, “I love you Daddy!” Yes, she got her beer…what else is new. She’s her Daddy’s Little Girl!!

When my niece, Toni was a little girl, she loved to clown around. She made everyone laugh with her antics. When everyone else was serious, here would come Toni, ready to start the fun rolling…and she had a laugh that was contagious. She might giggle while showing off her favorite boots or some other goofy thing, just to get a laugh out of someone. She was so quick to laugh, and always found a way to pass that along to others around her.

While those days are in the past now, Toni has grown into a beautiful woman. She is sweet and caring. She is one of those people who doesn’t see what a treasure she is. With her kind heart and quick smile, she adds sunshine to a cloudy day.

Toni has a sense of style that brings beauty to he home. I love some of the decorating ideas she has come up with. Some of us have a knack for that kind of thing, and she is definitely one of those people. She creates beauty all around her. I guess that all comes from the beauty that lives inside her.

Life isn’t always easy…for any of us, and Toni has been through some rough times, including when her son James had a serious head injury that could have cost him his life. Toni stood strong in that tough time, and kept James calm…and prayed, because she knew that God would take care of her son…and He did. James is so precious to her. For a long time it has been just the two of them, and James was and still is, her world. Now, she has found love again in a wonderful man…Dave. Life is complete for Toni once again, and I am so happy for her.

Toni has turned into a lovely woman, and one I am proud to call my niece. She is thoughtful and kind. She is a good mom, and good to her mom and grandmother, my sister and my mom. And that smile…well, it is still very much alive and well on Toni’s pretty face. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! We love you very much!!

When my dad was a little boy, he really liked his bottle…but he was a little bit careless with it as he got a little older. It was time to get him off of the bottle, but he was not very interested in that idea. When he got teeth, he started pulling on the nipple with his teeth, and would bite it off, spilling the contents all over the floor. I’m quite sure my grandmother was frustrated beyond words with him.

One day, in one of Dad’s careless moments, he tossed the finished bottle into the wood box, breaking it, because there was no such thing as plastic bottles then. His mother, who was all done with this nonsense, looked into the wood box…then turned to my dad and said, “That was the last bottle…they are all gone.” I can imagine what was going through her mind…and his. I’m sure she was thinking, “Will he cry…for hours!!” And I’m sure my dad was thinking, “Can’t we get another one?” But after looking at his mother, who looked back at him, stone faced, my dad knew that was the end of the matter. He looked sadly into the wood box, and walked away. I’m told he didn’t cry, nor did he ask for another bottle ever again. I think my grandmother was a wise woman.

While he was a good boy who loved his mom and dad, and respected his elders, my dad was still full of antics as he got older. Like many kids who think they are so grown up, sometimes you just can’t tell them anything. Sometimes they just have to learn things for themselves. Such was the case on day when my dad was sitting at the table…leaning back in his chair. The chair kept rocking back on two legs. We have all been there. Our parents telling us not to rock back in our chair like that, but…really, how many of us ever listened. No, most kids know it all…right!

Well, my dad was no different. His mother had repeatedly told him not to lean back in his chair. On this particular occasion, my great grandfather, my grandmother’s dad, was visiting. My great grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Germany, and Great Grandpa still spoke in mixed English and a German dialect. Then the inevitable happened. My dad leaned back a little too far, and the chair went on over. My dad looked up from the floor, to see his grandpa looking down at him and saying, “So Du bist a Oka Mann!”…which translates to, “So, you are a Big Man!” Somehow…I’m not so sure Dad felt very big…nor do I think he thought it was very funny!!

Old pictures can bring back memories of great times that you don’t want to forget. In my Dad’s letters home from World War II, he asked for pictures of his favorite spots and people so that he could keep them stored in his memory. As a young soldier, he was lonely for both family and home.  He wanted to see the places they used to go, like Manitou Falls…a place that I have looked up online, and I can say that I can fully understand why Dad would like it. Not just because it is a very pretty place, but because it is a trip down Memory Lane. It’s a place we all need to go sometimes.

When I look at the pictures I have taken while Bob and I are out hiking, I can relate to my dad’s desire for pictures of those places he loved so much. When you look at them, you can feel yourself going back in time to that place again. Reliving the moments. The times of our lives. I love being out on the trail, listening to the birds and far away from the traffic and other annoying sounds of the city. The trail is a place of peace for me, in an otherwise stressful world.

Some of my favorite childhood memories involved our annual vacations. Mom and Dad took us so many places. We camped out, sleeping under the stars…no tent needed. We sat around the campfire for hours before finally deciding that we couldn’t stay awake any longer…mostly because we all hated to have the evening around the fire end. We woke to the birds chirping and usually a fire going, because Dad was up and had it going…the smell of coffee brewing and bacon frying filled the morning air…mingled with the smell of burning wood on the fire. Those are the memories that mean summer to me.

We all have special memories that remind us of the times of our lives, and they are a varied as we are, but each memory is precious and the pictures we take are a way to keep them close. I know that was what my dad was looking for when he asked for pictures from home so long ago as he was stationed in England in World War II. He couldn’t go home right then, but he could let his mind re-live the times of his life.

When Siara was born, we knew she would most likely be small, given the size of her parents. My niece Chantel is 4’10” and Siara’s dad, Tim, about 5’4″. She was such a teeny little baby, and just as cute as a button. She was always a little ham, like her mom, and loved posing for pictures. That hasn’t changed one bit. Of course, being very photogenic doesn’t hurt anything either. Still, cheerleading was never what I thought Siara would choose to do. Now, I can’t imagine why it never occurred to me. She is perfect for that sport. She is energetic and enthusiastic. She is quick to smile, and her bubbly personality brings out the best in people. She knows how to get people excite about the game and get them cheering. I suppose that could be the training she has received, but I think it was always something that was inside her, and now it is coming out.

Given her small size, I never would have figured her for a power house, but that is exactly what she is. I never knew that until I saw some of the pictures from her performance in The American Grand National Championship Cheerleading competition. All I can say is that Siara has amazing strength…and now she is a national champion…impressive!! She is strong and capable. And she is very talented. She is dedicated and works hard to make the entire squad look good…they all do. They are a team. She doesn’t like it when people think of what she does as some namby, pamby girly thing, because it is a true sport, and Siara has the bruises to prove it.

Today, our little power house turns 18, and I find that very hard to believe. Maybe that is because she never grew beyond 4′ 9″, and so it seems as thought she is still just a little girl, or maybe it’s just that it’s always hard to believe that kids grow up. Whatever the reason, our little teeny girl is all grown up today. She has been weighing her options to decide what she wants to do with her life and what college she might want to go to. The way I see it…while she will never be a big girl, no matter what she decides to do, I know that she will give it her all, just like she has done with cheerleading and high school. We are very proud of Siara’s accomplishments. And today, I want to wish you a very happy 18th birthday Siara. We all love you very much.

Some babies…and even older kids, absolutely hate to take a bath. I suppose this applies to boys more than girls. Boys don’t seem to have time to take out of their busy day to do something so silly as take a bath. I mean, what is a little dirt anyway. Of course, it might be more fun when there are 2 or 3 in the tub. At least then a guy has friends to play with…making it more like swimming. Still, most of the little boys I have been around would much rather play in a mud puddle than take a bath.

My girls both loved their bath time. They would splash and giggle…as long as you didn’t get soap in their eyes. Washing their hair wasn’t their favorite thing, mostly because of the whole water and soap in their eyes thing, but the rest of the bath was great…especially if there were bath toys to play with. As for me, I loved their bath time. Watching them giggle and play was so cute. Those little baby days go by so fast that a mother has to hang onto the memories, because before you know it, that is all that remains of those baby days.

My girls favorite thing to do as they got a little older was to take bubble baths. It was always so funny to watch them making beards or fancy hairstyles out of the bubbles, or just blowing them off of their hands. It was a great way for little ones to have fun. And it took me back to my own childhood days. When taking a bath meant a good half hour or more of playing in the water. Making boat sounds with my face partly underwater, and seeing the water churn like a propeller, or seeing how long I could hold my breath were always fun things to do in the bath tub. My mind wandered as I bathed my girls, wishing that these baby years could last forever.

Then coming back to reality, I would lift my clean little daughters out of the water and wrap the snugly in a towel, before putting on their pajamas, the day’s dirt gone, and tucking them in their bed, because one of the nicest things about bath time is that it relaxed the baby and got her ready for bed. After their baths, my girls would just snuggle down and go right to sleep…awwwww, peace!!

As a kid, I always heard the stories so many of us have heard, about how tough our parents had it when getting to school. Many walked barefoot, in the snow, 10 miles to school, and it was uphill both ways. It was a rough life, you know, and yes I heard those stories too, but the one that struck me as strange and maybe a bit scary was the one my dad told of hopping a train to school. In my mind, I pictured these two little boys, maybe 9 or 10 years old, running along side of a slowly moving train trying to hop up in the box cars, and of course, feeling that lump in my throat as my mind pictured all the possibilities of such an ill advised venture. Knowing that my dad obviously didn’t land under the train, since he was, after all my dad, and must have survived such a childish prank, didn’t do much to ease my young mind for my dad as a boy. And I never could figure out why my grandmother didn’t beat the daylights out of her two reckless sons.

In going through some of my dad’s things since his passing, we came across a railroad pass, and that took me back to those old stories. You see, my grandpa worked for the Great Northern Railway Company, and his kids had passes to ride the train for free, so while he may have tried some of those reckless ways to board the trail, it wasn’t necessary for him to do it in order to get a ride, and given the evidence, I would have to think that he probably boarded the train in the normal way. Meaning that most likely he had pulled the wool over my eyes or that I was extremely gullible, or more likely a little of both. Still, I can’t say I would put it past my dad or my uncle to attempt or even be really good at hopping a train. They were full of adventurous spirit as kids.

Still, given my own love of trains, and the love of trains my dad always had, I have to think that it must have been such a great way to get to school, or anywhere else that he needed to go. To me, there is a thrill in my soul when that whistle blows, and the conductor yells, “All aboard!!” Then the lurch of the car tells you that you are on your way, and all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. The scenery flashes by you effortlessly, and you can let your mind wander through the nearby woods to see what animals, meadows, ponds, or rock formations might be in there, just beyond the next turn of the tracks.

When Bob was a little boy, his family lived in Montana. When he was 5 years old, his dad would take a job offer in Wyoming, and the family would move to Mills, Wyoming, which is a suburb of Casper, Wyoming. The family lived in Mills from the time Bob was in Kindergarten until about 3rd grade. During that time, Bob was friends with some of my cousins, and for all I know we played together too, since my family spent a lot of time with those cousins, and at the Mills school, which Bob and his family lived across from. Then the family would move out in the country, west of town. But it seems as though our families were crossing paths over and over for many years.

I was born in Superior, Wisconsin, where I lived until I was 3. Then our family moved to Casper, Wyoming, which is where my mom was born and raised. My aunts future husband’s family lived in Mills, and my future mother-in-law did quite a bit of sewing for them. Later my future father-in-law would work with that same uncle whose mother my future mother-in-law sewed for. I am often amazed at the connections that happen without knowing what they will bring to the future of those involved. People you knew years ago and who didn’t seem to have any particular bearing on your future, suddenly do. It makes you realize what a small world this really is.

For a boy from Montana, and a girl from Wisconsin to move to Wyoming and live there for 15 years, go to different schools, and finally meet because his sister worked at the same place as the girl, and then get married and live happily ever after…is amazing. In fact, when I told my mom’s family who I was dating, they all knew his family. Imagine my surprise! You really don’t just assume that your family will know your boyfriend’s family, unless you had grown up around each other for many years, which was not the case with us. Nevertheless, our families were crossing paths all those years, and now they would be forever connected. I guess we all knew good people when we met them.

My sister-in-law Rachel’s daughter, Cassie, and her husband Chris, gave birth to a baby boy named Lucas Rae exactly 6 months ago today. Little Lucas was not given good odds early on in the pregnancy. It all began shortly after they were told that they would have a son. Joy soon turned into concern as the doctors explained that baby Lucas was smaller than he should be at that point. It was determined that he had an intestinal blockage, a 1 in 8 million chance, that was causing him not to be able to absorb nutrients properly. They were also told that in addition to the surgery shortly after his birth to clear the blockage, he had three holes in his heart that would need to be addressed at some point. They were also told that it was likely that Lucas had Down’s Syndrome. It was a huge blow for a young couple to take, but they faced it head on, determined to win. Prayer requests were immediately sent out.

Cassie was due to deliver Lucas about August 3, but that was not to be. It was important to deliver him early so the blockage could be removed and he could begin to grow, but delivering him early also presented problems, given his small size. Still, the early delivery was the best option. So on July 3, 2011 at 11:51pm, Lucas Rae was born by Cesarean Section in Denver. He weighed 2 pounds 7 ounces and was 16 inches long…4 inches longer than the doctors expected…the first miracle. He was on only oxygen at that point because of immature lungs. They had to wait on the surgery because Lucas was having a little bleeding in his brain, but it was not a stroke or tumor…the second miracle.

Finally, the day came for the intestinal surgery. Lucas had gained a little weight, and the bleeding had stopped. The surgery went very well, and Lucas was soon on the way to much needed weight gain. About this same time they were told that one of the three holes in his heart had healed in its own…a third miracle. Finally Lucas was able to go home, weighing 4 pounds 9 ounces. His favorite place to be, other than in Mommy or Daddy’s arms, was his swing. All too soon, the time came to return to Denver for the heart surgery. After a successful surgery, Lucas was finally able to come home for good…a fourth miracle. He was such a “little trooper” through all of this as his Grandma would say.

Today is Lucas Rae’s 6 month birthday…a day that the doctors weren’t sure would ever arrive, but God and the prayers of faith knew different. He is still pretty little, and looks a bit like a baby doll in some of his pictures, but he is happy and smiley, and much loved. While I, like most of his Casper family, haven’t had a chance to meet Lucas yet, we already love our sweet little miracle man very much.

When a soldier is serving his country, so far away from home, he often feels like he will not be returning to the same world he left when he joined the service, or was drafted, as used to be the case. The letters from home mean more to that soldier than their writer could ever imagine, and yet, so often, what starts with the best of intentions…to write daily letters…soon slips and ends up being every couple of weeks or once a month. That schedule works well for the person writing from home, but is terribly hard on the soldier, so far away, and wondering if they have been forgotten.

My dad’s letters home from World War II, while varied in content, really said just one thing…I wish I was home. In his letter from July 4th, 1944, he talks about all the great things the family did on Independence Day. My dad writes, “The picnics, drives, swimming at Manitou Falls, the ball games, and all kinds of stuff like that.” He goes on to say that it all seems “so long ago” and I can almost hear the sense of loss in his words. Then he talks about how he can “remember each little detail” and how the “little things like that stick in a fellows memory their whole life, because those things that seemed unimportant at the time, all go together to make up one wonderful word…Home.” He continues, “And the fourth of July is as much a part of that word, as the front door is a part of the house.”

I have found that there was a writer living inside my dad too. Something I had no idea about before. His words painted such a clear picture that I almost felt like I was there. And, between the lines, lived the pain of the loneliness that a young soldier was feeling. Then, I could see my dad, pulling himself up by the bootstraps, and setting aside his feelings so his mother wouldn’t worry, when he lightly said, “Say, let me know what you did on the fourth. Will you? Where you went and if you had fun.” He went on to talk about the flowers that grew in England…a subject he knew his mother would like, although my dad always did like Lilacs too, and missed them in England. When I was a girl growing up, our yard was always full of them. I guess he always wanted to feel like he was home and Lilacs were a big part of that to him.

Dad always tried not to let his feelings worry his mother. I’m sure that is what every soldier has to do. Still, I can’t help tearing up when I think of his feelings. I have always thought of my dad as such a strong man, who always knew what to do, and he was when I knew him, but there was a time that he was, as every soldier is in war time, a scared kid, trying to be brave and not let anyone know what they are feeling, and most of all a kid, wanting to go…Home again.

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