Monthly Archives: February 2012

When my girls were about 4 and 3, my in-laws sold their place west of Casper and bought a place north of Casper, because the old place was becoming more and more a part of town, and they wanted to live in the country. We had moved our mobile home to their old place while we got our new place east of Casper ready, so when they sold the old place, we moved with them. The new place had a 14 X 60 mobile home on it, which would definitely not be big enough for the family. So began a family project. We would build them a house, and everyone was going to help. It was rather exciting for me, since this was something I had never done before…much less ever thought I would do.

I had the initial job of running the tractor while one of the guys went behind me with a scoop to move the dirt and level the site. This was a big job since the home was to be built into the side of a hill to help with insulation. I had never run a tractor before, much less with a person hooked up behind it, so I was a little bit nervous, but in time, I became an expert through repetition. Finally the site was ready for the home to be built. The foundation was laid, and the next step of the family project would begin.

The home was to be built out of cinder blocks. For those who don’t know, cinder blocks are like a very large, usually gray, brick. My father-in-law, it seemed, could build just about anything he put his mind to, and I don’t know if he had laid bricks before, but he did this job with the skill of an expert. This was to be a big home with a huge garage attached. The family would no longer be cramped for space.

Everyone helped, right down to the little kids. Barry, my nephew, was just about 1 or 2 when we were doing some of the finishing touches to the house, and he helped too…even if someone had to lift him up so he could reach. Every family member had a hand in the building of the house, and we can all take pride in the accomplishment.

While my in-laws have long since moved to town, my brother-in-law, Ron bought the land next door to the house, and still lives out there with his family. The home that was our family project is still there, of course, and houses a different family now. Whether they know it or not, the house they live in has quite a unique history…and they are very blessed to be living in it.

When you are the younger brother, life isn’t always easy. Your older brother gets to do all the really cool things, while you have to stay home, because you are too little. That’s how Easton used to feel…when he was younger. Easton’s big brother, Weston got to go to school, and even better, Weston got to go to their grandma’s house after school and spend several hours there. Going to Grandma’s house was the coolest place to go…and Weston was the only one who ever got to go and spend time there. It just wasn’t fair.

The really bad thing for Easton was that nobody seemed to understand how he felt, or even know that something was wrong. And worse, he didn’t know how to tell them. It was a dilemma. And since Weston was older than Easton by 4 years it was a dilemma that would be with him for quite a while. Easton realized early on that things were different for his older brother. Weston had a lot more rights and privileges. How could that be fair?

By the time Easton was old enough to understand that not all things are fair, and he was getting ripped off, this situation had gone on a while. Since Easton seemed too little to go the places and do the things his big brother was allowed to do, no one gave any thought to whether or not it was fair…it was simply the way it was. Easton wasn’t old enough. Unfortunately, as often happens with the younger sibling, the family thought of Easton as somehow younger than he really was. He was the baby, after all. It was just too soon for Easton to go to Grandma’s…or was it?

Finally, Easton had taken all of this situation that he could. It was time for him to take action. So, one day, he gathered up all the courage he had, and he told his mom and grandma that he would be a good boy, if he could go to grandma’s house too. The reaction to his little heart wrenching plea, was one of complete shock and surprise. No one had even considered that Easton was feeling that way. But, his courage paid off, because after that day, Easton got to go to his grandma’s house to play too. He was a big boy now!! The day had finally arrived!!

Today that sweet little boy turns 8 years old. No one thinks of him as a baby anymore, but a big boy who know how to be a good boy at his grandma’s house, and how to speak for himself…at least when it is really important. Happy birthday Easton!! We love you big boy!!

As sometimes happens in families who live great distances away from each other, our family has been distanced from some of my cousins for as many as 30+ years. That is a fact that I find sad in many ways, but mostly because now, with the use of Facebook, we have reconnected with many of those cousins, and now we are faced with the lost years that cannot be replaced. I am very glad to be in touch with my cousins Shirley, Terry, Pam, Bill, and second cousins, Larry, Tonnya, Danyelle, Jason, Crystal, Christine, Bill, Kristin, Cody, Tim, and Shawn and all their families. Talking with them now, the missed years seem to have melted away, but knowing that there were so many years, and so many past events that we missed out on, makes me sad. That’s how life goes sometimes. You get so busy with your own life, that there doesn’t seem to be enough time to stay in touch.

Kids I last saw as babies, or have never even met, are grown up and out on their own. Some have their own children and one has a child on the way. My cousins and I have been doing quite a bit of catching up, and that has been very wonderful for me, as I hope it has been for them. I have been getting to know the younger generation, as well as the ones in my age group. We are as varied in who we are as we are in where we live, and yet each person, each personality, each life is a precious reunion to me. I am interested in the lives and lifestyles of each one. Some of us prefer the big city life, some the small town atmosphere, and some the scenic beauty of nature.

We are all very different, but we all share one side of our background. We share the same Spencer lineage. We are connected in the past, present, and future because of it. We share similar views of our background…similar stories of the past. We may have a little bit different view of those stories, but they are basically the same. I feel so blessed by the connection to these precious cousins. It is really the fact that these cousins complete who I am…and that part of me was separated from the rest of me for a long time. Today, I feel so blessed to be reunited with my cousins…the grandchildren and great grandchildren, and even great great grandchildren of my grandparents.

On Valentine’s Day, two very special people got engaged. My future nephew-in-law, Jason asked my niece Jessi to marry him. We are all so happy for them. They are so perfect for each other. They are both full of life and fun to be around. It is a great match.

Jason…known as Red, fits so well into the family. We are a family that likes to tease each other, so it’s a good idea to find someone who is an easygoing kidder. And that is Jason. Theirs is a relationship fulled with laughter, and what could be more wonderful than a home filled with laughter. I am convinced that that is the type of home Jessi ad Jason will have.

Still, behind the laughter, the silliness, the jokes and teasing, lives a love that is very strong. I have talked to Jason when he wasn’t joking, and before he knew me very well. Bob and I were on a trail here in town, when we ran into Jason. You could see the way he felt when he spoke of Jessi. It wasn’t so much in his words, but more it his way of talking about Jessi, and I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing of our conversation. It wasn’t so much in the words spoken, but rather in the look in his eyes when he speaks of Jessi.

It is the same look I have seen in Jessi’s eyes when she speaks of Jason…along with a sparkle in her eyes and a glow on her face. It is a look I think most of us know, or at least those of us who have been there. It is a look of love. It is the look on both Jessi and Jason’s faces. Theirs is love, and I believe, it is forever…a match made in Heaven. And it makes me so happy for both of them.

I think Jessi and Jason have the three most important ingredients for a good marriage…God, love, and laughter. With those ingredients, along with hard work, because no marriage works if its members won’t work at it, Jessi and Jason will have the together forever kind of marriage. I am so happy for them as they begin their life’s journey.

I went to my grandson Josh’s final game for the tournament today. His team took 3rd. I am very proud of him. Now I know that many people might not think 3rd place is something to write home about, but in this case, they would be wrong. My grandson Josh has been playing basketball since he was in grade school. He played 3 years at the Boys and Girls Club, 1 year for Pineview Elementary School, and this is his 2nd season with Centennial Junior High School.  He is in 7th grade now. Josh has always been what would be called a support man on the team. He can rebound and pass well, but dribbling and shooting were not his best talents in the sport. Still each year Josh has improved greatly, and as he continues to play, I have no doubt that he will be a player the other team knows about very soon.

As I said, this was the battle for 3rd place, and the game was tied at 11 – all, until seconds before the half, at which time the Casper Classical Academy team scored 2 more points. Both teams fought hard that first half. When Josh’s team, The Centennial Eagles, took to the court after the break, they were somewhat rattled. Between the beginning of the half and the 3 minute mark in the 4th quarter, the Casper Classical Academy team had moved their lead to 19 – 17…

Enter Josh!! Kevin, my son-in-law, and Josh’s dad had talked to him for a second or two right before they started back up. He told him to take the shots when he could. Josh got the ball and the key was a mass of players doing their best to stop the score, so Josh dribbled, turned, and shot the ball for a beautiful 3 point basket. The crowd literally went wild, and Josh’s team just about lost it. Suddenly the fire was back in those boys, and Josh’s confidence soared.

It was never that Josh couldn’t shoot, he just didn’t think he could. About a minute later, Josh found himself with the ball again, and this time he didn’t hesitate. He ran, jumped and shot the ball, for a 2 point basket. Moments later, he was again in position to shoot a 3 point basket, but the other team now knew what he was capable of, so they were on him…and they fouled him. Now Josh had a free throw shot…in fact, 3. This had not been a strong suit for Josh either…and he was shaking from excitement and exhaustion I’m sure. Still, he made one out of three shots for a total of 6 points in a game, where before he would get maybe 2 points. Josh was a wild man!!

The score was now 23 – 19, and it was the other team’s turn to be rattled. There would be 4 more points scored by Josh’s team, but the entire team knew who won the game for them. It was the kid who managed to keep his cool under fire and score an amazing 3 point shot to put the fire back into a team that was feeling defeated. It was Josh…and it was his day to shine.

I met the love of my life at the tender age of 17. I worked at Kmart, as did his sister. We were kids, and that is a fact that stands out more and more in my mind every time I look at these old pictures, but age doesn’t always matter. Ours was a love that would last. We knew it…or at least hoped it would. I suppose you can’t really say you knew it, even though at the time you honestly did know it.

The early years flew by in a whirlwind of activity as our family began and grew. We were busy, and I suppose that many marriages struggle at this stage, but we hardly noticed the passing years. We couldn’t imagine being anywhere else or with anyone else. In fact, the thought never crossed our minds. We were just going forward with our lives, being happy, enjoying our kids, and…well, living.

Before long, our girls were in school and our lives were changing again. Back to school night, parent/teacher conferences, field trips, and class parties became the new normal for us. Again we hardly noticed the passing years. We were just to busy with our lives and being happy to notice that time was passing. During the time when a lot of marriages were strained and breaking up, ours remained strong. I don’t try to say that we had any secret formula to keep a marriage strong, because we didn’t. We were older now, but still young, and still we didn’t really know how to make a marriage work. We just moved forward with our lives.

Before we knew it, our girls were graduating from high school, and both were soon married and starting their own lives. Our lives were changing again. Soon we were the grandparents of three grandsons and one granddaughter, the whirlwind of our lives continued to spin. We were so busy enjoying the babies, and enjoying our adult daughters and their husbands, that we didn’t notice the passing years. Before we knew it our grandchildren were in school.

Now, our grandchildren are teenagers, and as I take a moment to look back on the years, I realize that those two kids who met all those years ago had something special, although they didn’t know it then. Somehow their marriage was going to be one that would beat the odds. A marriage of two kids, that lasted a lifetime…unusual to be sure, but not impossible, and sometimes not even unique, as some of my friends can attest…but still, somewhat rare. It is the result of being blessed to find…on the first try…the love of my life.

As I continue to read through my dad’s letters to his family during World War II, I have been reading between the lines, and behind the scenes that he was able to share. During a war, the soldiers involved are unable to speak about the operations they are taking part in. Still as young men and women, far away from home, they want and need to write and receive letters. They need the closeness of family, and yet they don’t want to worry their family, and they are bound by military rules, not to talk about the missions. So much so, that letters must be read to make sure no information accidentally gets out.

Knowing my dad in his later years, and getting to know him through his letters home, I know that he was not a man who wanted others, especially his family to worry about him. So, he never told of pain or fears. Which leads me to believe that my dad wouldn’t have told his family, and especially his mom, what he was feeling during the bombing missions he went on every day. Not even if he could have. That was just the man my dad was…as a young soldier, and as a adult husband and father.

Still, in reading his letters, the need for comfort and reassurance that existed in him every day, whispered quietly from between the lines and behind the words my dad wrote in his letters. He asked for good news concerning men he knew that were in the service too. Hoping that if they were ok, he would be too. Of course, I can’t be sure that those were my dad’s feelings or his thoughts, but I know that is how I felt when I looked at the pictures he took of flak from the German Fliegerabwehrkanone. This was an 88mm gun capable of rapid fire. The resulting shell fragments would rip through the planes and it is said that it took over 3,300 rounds to take down a plane. And those guns did take down planes. The B-17 bombers had to fly through these traps on the way to and from their targets. How could these boys go through that every day and not have fear that they would not come home. I know it took great faith in God to move beyond that fear…to keep going…to survive the day to day nerve racking missions.

I have great respect for all of our soldiers, because they push their fears back every day, and hide their true feelings from their loved ones so they don’t worry. And yet, when I look at the pictures Dad took of the flak all around their plane, and read the letters telling his family that he is “ok and feeling fine”, which is really a way of saying he is still ok, and not telling them much of anything I think I understand what true bravery is. That was typically my dad, never allowing his feelings to worry his family. I feel that I know my dad better from his letters and it makes me appreciate what a wonderful man he was even more. I love you Daddy!!

When you are a little girl, and you are having a really bad day, it’s really nice to have somebody who is always on your side. Very often that person in a little girls life is her grandpa. Little girls have a way of stealing their grandpa’s heart,and when the going gets tough, grandpa is a wonderful ally to have on your side. And the funny thing about those little girls is that it takes them about 5 seconds to get their grandpa figured out.

And it’s not like those grandpas mind being wrapped around the little fingers of their granddaughters, because they don’t. The first time they look at that little face, they are hooked. And when something upsets their little princess, they will do just about anything to make it all better. It’s funny that sometimes young parents can get pretty nervous about why their little darling is upset and crying, but to the grandparents, who have been through all this before, it isn’t a big deal. And isn’t it funny that the older we get the less torn up we get about little ones crying, and the more soothing we can be to the child. Oh I know that doesn’t apply to just every grandparent. Some do have a harder time with crying children as they get older, but in many cases, I find that our focus turns to the child and not the embarrassment at the crying.

That is the type of grandparents Corrie found herself with as a little girl. Grandparents who weren’t bothered by a little fussing, but rather were ready to help her with whatever it took to ease her troubled little mind at that moment. Corrie and all the grandchildren who came after her, have always loved their grandparents very much, and now that they are older, and in need of a little help themselves, it is those grandchildren who have stepped up to give them a helping hand. It is a way of returning the love that was shown to them all those years ago. A way of saying, “Yes, we remember all you did for us, and all the love you gave, and now it is our turn to show you how much we care…how much we love you.”

My parents always liked to travel, and sometimes they didn’t have vacation time coming, but wanted to feel like they took us someplace. So along came going for a drive. I know lots of people who, like my parents, love to go for a drive around town, just for the pleasure of the road trip…even if the road trip is only 10 miles or so. It always took longer, of course, because we would stop and look around at all the sights. My favorite ride was up to the mountain, to look out point, or up to the hill where the Events Center now sits (though it was not there when I was little). We would always end up one of those places at night, so we could see the city lights.

Dad and Mom always liked the view of the city lights, but I think they also realized that with 5 girls, twinkling city lights would always be viewed with a sense of awe. It was the highlight of the whole drive. Sometimes we had to look quickly as we headed on into town, but other times we got to stop and just enjoy the beauty of the lights. We girls always called the lights The Jewelry Box, because the lights seemed to form sparkling necklaces and other pieces of jewelry. Sure, you had to use your imagination, but we were quite good at that.

Those drives and beautiful view of the city lights are things that we will always have in our memories. Mom and Dad just wanted to give us a chance to go for a drive, when there was not much else to do that didn’t cost a bunch of money for 7 people, but what they really gave us was a lifetime of memories. To this day, all of us love to go for a drive, and I don’t think any of us can come into town at night without remembering The Jewelry Box when we see the city lights.

We will always consider ourselves blessed because of all the places our parents took us on vacations. We have seen so many states, and experienced their beauty. We have camped out and stayed in hotels. We have learned about the Oregon Trail, and just about every other historical marker we ever came across. We have seen both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. We have been to Canada and Mexico. Yes, we have been very blessed because of our parents love of travel, but one place that has always brought special memories was right in our own back yard…The Jewelry Box.

My sister, Allyn was always a very soft hearted person. Even as a little girl, my mom had a very hard time with any disciplinary action when it came to Allyn, because any show of disapproval put her immediately into a broken hearted state. This was not a fake way of getting out of trouble either. Having witnessed this myself with Allyn, I can attest to the validity of her feelings. In later years when my sisters and I spoke of the trouble we used to get into, we all agreed, “Not Allyn though. Allyn was always good!!” When you think about that, it is really a tribute to her in itself, and one that no one could argue.

There was and is something quite different and interesting about Allyn. She is one of those people who doesn’t like to say anything mean or hurtful about people, but she loves giving her loved ones little pet names. So, her daughter Jessi became Jessilynn, her son Ryan became the boy, her daughter Lindsay became Squirrel, and her daughter Kellie became Baby Kellie. She also called Lindsay, Squee Squee, and Kellie, Pretty Teeny Sweet and Little or the babe. And even made up a song for Kellie that went like this, “Mommy got a pretty Kellie, Yeah!!” And of course, she would always say, “She just a baby!” Always meaning it is an endearing way. And when one of the kids calls or stops by, she always calls them BaBy…using a high pitched voice to enunciate each syllable.

Allyn always likes to say encouraging things to people too, so she might tell someone they are “stunningly beautiful, fantastically clever, and wonderfully sweet.” Or she might say they are “the sweetest and the best.” And if one of the kids was whining or complaining, she would say, “How could you say those words??” If the kids were going outside in the winter, she would say, “Mittens, mittens, teeny kittens!”

And now that she has grandchildren, she has a whole new generation of cute little sayings. To her grandson she says, “Spinken spank the teeny Ethan. Teeny make him teeny cry.” Not that she would spank him, but more to make him laugh so that whatever problem he was having simply melted away. Ethan and his baby sister, Aurora will grow up hearing all those funny little sayings a lot, and that is a pretty good deal when you think about it.

I’m not sure what brought this strange and different language out in my sister…which her daughter-in-law, Chelsea calls Allynisms…but most of us find it very amusing to say the least. And, it has been an endearing thing as far as her family is concerned. And really, when she says some of that stuff, who can help but laugh. Bad moods quickly melt into smiles and laughter…because who could keep a straight face when someone, out of the blue says, “Spinken spanken teeny wanken”…whatever that means. Yes, my sister might speak a language that is very different from the rest of us, but I guess that is what makes her so special. Happy birthday Sis!! We love you Teeny Wanken!!

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