Monthly Archives: March 2012

We all do it…throw kisses to people we care about. Most of us don’t even give it a second thought. But when it comes to babies we spend hours trying to teach them to throw kisses and laugh about the funny attempts at it. And there are many funny attempts. There is the back handed kiss, were they see the back of your hand so they think they need to use the back of theirs, so instead of kissing their palm or finger tips, the kiss the back of their hand. Then there is the kiss the palm, but forget to throw, where the hand just stays on the lips. I have even seen where the child sticks their finger in their mouth and then pulls it out. Somehow that one just doesn’t seem like a kiss, but what do I know. I guess they have seen their parents throwing a one finger kiss, but couldn’t quite get it right, so the finger went in the mouth instead up to the lip.

One of my favorites is the one my little granddaughter always did…the two handed kiss. She loved throwing kisses, and she would always use both hands. I guess she could throw bigger kisses if she used both hands. And maybe she just loved her grandma…that’s the best reason I can think of. I loved those thrown kisses, and now that she is so grown up, I miss that little girl, so bubbly and full of kisses and hugs. But, she has grown into a beautiful young lady, and I am very proud of her.

All too soon, the days of little baby thrown kisses are over and kids don’t want to throw kisses to parents and grandparents so much. Then you try your hardest to get those toddlers to throw you a kiss. The best way I have found is to tell them you want a hug. This might get the hug, but if it’s a boy, much of the time, they will throw a kiss instead…because hugging a girl…even a grandma, is…well, eeewwww!!

As adults, we no longer feel the embarrassment over thrown kisses, as we did as adolescent children. Then the thrown kisses start to happen more often. The kisses are different though…as we all know. They use the hands less, and are mostly meant to tell our loved ones how much we care. They can also be an expression of deep love for a spouse or significant other. They can even be used to attract someone we want to meet. Whatever we use them for…we never really stop liking those thrown kisses.

Sometimes, when I look at some of the pictures of my dad and my Uncle Bill, and think about all their antics, I find that they remind me quite a bit of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. They were always getting into trouble…oh not the kind that was really bad, just the kind that was a little bad. And of course, their favorite thing to do was to go fishing…or anything else that involved the water and no school. They were always trying some new thing…some new invention…or some new gimmick. Just like Mark Twain’s characters.

I can totally see my dad and uncle as two more characters in those novels. They would fit right in. I’m not sure the story lines would even have to be altered…except to add to more kids. Dad and Uncle Bill used to do things like setting off dynamite on Independence Day…not firecrackers…no, that was too small scale…they set off dynamite. Or they might set of dynamite on the top of the gate post…just to see what would happen. Of course, then they had to take out and reset the gate post before their mom got home from town, because she would have tanned their hides for them.

Don’t get me wrong. they had to work hard, as did their sisters, but if there was a way to get out of the work, or to find some shortcut, you can be sure that the brothers were right there. My guess is that as little boys, they were a handful for their mom. I’m quite sure that my grandmother would have done anything for her kids, but I think her boys might have been hard to reign in sometimes. But still, they were loyal to her and mostly helpful.

I guess you would have to say that they were…adventurous, and that is the part of those boys that reminds me of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Their adventures are what got them into trouble, and yet, their adventurous spirit is what made you love them in spite of their crazy antics. That is the kind of boys they were. And when Uncle Bill came out here to visit my dad before his passing, you could still see the twinkle in their eyes when they talked about the things they used to do. It was pretty funny. In my mind, I could just see my grandmother, on her way home from town…wondering what her mischievous boys had been up to all day, and what messes she was going to come home to. I’m also quite sure that more often than not, she came home to some mess that needed to be cleaned up…and a couple of boys who needed a good spanking…even if they didn’t mean to make the mess. I can also see her dealing with the dilemma of should I spank them…or just laugh about the whole thing.

My daughter, Amy was born 6 months before her cousin, Machelle. The girls were alike in many ways, and could often be found playing in their own little world. Machelle’s family moved to Thermopolis when she was very young, and the girls didn’t get to see each other as much. We tried to get the girls together as much as we could…when Debbie and Lynn were in town, or sometimes we would take turns taking the four kids for a couple of weeks in the summer. Oh, Amy and Machelle had their little tiffs, but they always were, and still are good friends. When I look at those pictures of the girls back then, it makes me smile to see the cute little expressions they had. I’m pretty sure they were sharing some little secret.

Nevertheless, as little girls, they fought over toys, and had a few bouts of hitting each other…like all kids do. I suppose it was a good thing that they didn’t live too close to each other, or who knows what might have happened…especially since Amy, while quite small in stature, was afraid of nothing. And, even though Machelle quickly passed Amy up in height, sometimes having a small person going after you in a big way can be really disconcerting, and Amy had that effect on kids who didn’t know what to expect.  She could move so fast that they had no idea what she would do next. Thankfully those little events didn’t happen very often. As the years went on, they grew out of the fighting stage of life, of course. Their friendship continued to grow. They didn’t get to see each other much still, because Machelle’s family had moved to Powell.

When Amy was planning her wedding, of course, Machelle was included in the wedding party. Amy couldn’t imagine her wedding day without Corrie, her sister, Carina, her best friend since kindergarden, and Machelle and Jenny, her two special cousins in the wedding party. The girls all looked just beautiful, and the wedding day was as special as Amy had dreamed it would be. It’s amazing that two cousins who have lived in different towns for most of their lives, can be so close, but they were. Both of the girls have grown into beautiful, women, wives and mothers. When I look at these old pictures, it’s hard to believe that they are grown up already…much less with almost grown children of their own.

As far as my nephew, Tucker is concerned, his big brother is the greatest friend ever. Riley is 11 years old and Tucker is 4 years old. To a little boy of 4, a brother who is all grown up like his big brother Riley…well, he is just the coolest person ever. Tucker and Riley live out in the country, and while Tucker has a couple of friends who live close enough to play sometimes and spend the night together once a week, Riley remains Tuckers closest friend and his hero big brother. And when Riley is staying at a friend’s house, Tucker really misses him a lot. It’s very hard for a little boy to understand why is big brother gets to go do so much, and he has to stay at home a lot more. He just wants to be big…like his brother. Seven years difference in age can make such a big difference in what is allowed and what isn’t.

When Riley is at home, he plays with Tucker quite a bit, so Tucker feels that loneliness a lot when Riley is away. And for a little guy, a weekend can easily seem like forever. I’m sure Tucker wonders why his brother doesn’t stay home with him more, but as we all know, the older a kid gets, the more friends they usually have, and they would much rather hang out with their friends than their little brother. Even if they do like playing with their little brother too.

But, when Riley is home, and it’s a snowy day…well that’s when the fun really begins. The boys get to go out side and do all the things boys really like on a snowy day. They could throw snowballs, or build a fort, or go for a sled ride, or build a snowman. It doesn’t really matter what they are doing, a snowy day is one of the best days for a kid, and for Tucker that kind of day is only made better by being able to spend it with his big brother, Riley.

Time will change things, of course, and Tucker will go to school and have more friends. He won’t always feel so lonely when his brother is playing with his own friends or at work, or college. Still, no matter where they are, or what they are doing, Riley will always be Tucker’s big brother, and…I think his hero too. There is just nothing like an older sibling who has been there for you. And someday, maybe Riley will look at Tucker, and think, “Hey, maybe you’re my hero too!”

Ah, here it comes…the wearin’ of the green, corned beef and cabbage, and green beer for those who like that…Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s a day for partying…and pinching for those who forget to wear green. Most people look at Saint Patrick’s Day as just another party day. And I enjoy the pinching games and the corned beef and cabbage, but I’ll leave the green beer for others.

One thing that Saint Patrick’s Day does make me think of, however, is my Irish background. I think most of us have a little Irish background, and some have a lot. You can usually find it by the last names, like Bob’s grandmother, whose name before her marriage was Leary, or my great grandmother, whose maiden name was Shaw. Many of these ancestors really never knew very much of their Irish roots, because their families have been in the United States for centuries. I don’t remember either of these grandmothers ever mentioning Irish roots, or being particularly Irish.

Still, many people whose Irish traditions, or any other traditions common to their countries, have been passed down from generation to generation, feel a deep attachment to the past and to their roots. Anytime you look back at your family history, you can’t help but feel the beginnings of an attachment to a different time and a different place. It’s easy to envision what life might have been like then. Days before cars and planes, when people traveled by horse and buggy. Days when moving to a new country meant leaving your family behind forever…never to see them again.

Travel wasn’t so easy then. And yet brave people like our ancestors, who wanted to have a better life, set out into the unknown. They had no idea what they would find out there, but they set aside their fears and went anyway. They were pioneers, and were it not for them, we would not be where we are today, or have what we have today. They are also the inventors. Someone had to come up with all of the modern conveniences that we have today. They were people with that same pioneer spirit. What would our world be like without those people and people like them. People who carried their traditions into a new world, or people who came to the new world and started traditions of their own.

Much of my background is German and English, but there is some Irish, and the Irish family members that I have had the pleasure of knowing were very much a treasure as valuable as the emerald colored hills of the old country. So I’ll carry on the tradition today. Wearin’ the green, and pinching those who forget, and eating corned beef and cabbage with loved ones. Because, today…everybody is a little bit Irish. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all.

When Eric was born, his older brother, JD was very excited about having a little brother, but that didn’t mean that he knew how a little brother needed to be cared for. That wasn’t really unusual for a little boy of 17 months. Nevertheless, we all wondered how Eric managed to survive having an older brother like JD.

The first hint that Eric might be in peril came when JD stuffed an eye drop bottle, with the lid on thankfully, down Eric’s throat when he was less than a year old. Thankfully, their mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer was very nearby and heard little Eric’s struggle to breathe. She immediately called 911, and they walked her through what to do. While Jennifer is a nurse, you can’t thinks straight when it is your own child.

Having survived that ordeal, life got back to normal for the two brothers…for a while anyway. When Eric was about 3 years old, JD’s curiosity would again get the better of the situation, and JD would lock Eric in the trunk of the family car…thankfully it was parked in the garage at the time and not in the hot sun. Jennifer heard his muffled yells for help and rescued her youngest son from his big brother a second time. Now, I know you think JD hated Eric, but the opposite was the truth. They were inseparable.

And if having his brother out to get him wasn’t enough, Eric decided to give it a go himself, when he fell off of the deck of the family’s bi-level home. He landed on the concrete below, but somehow managed to stay in one piece…with everything in working order. Talk about having nine lives, I think Eric must be part cat.

Through the years many future challenges presented themselves, since the brothers were very much into motocross, and with motocross comes a number of bruises. Still, that did not diminish their love for extreme sports. They have tried many different extreme sports, and usually do quite well at them.

But, probably the craziest thing Eric wanted to try almost happened on the day he had a friend over and he called his mom at work to ask if it would be ok for them to jump off the roof of the house and into a snow drift. Of course, Jennifer told him no, but he continued to try to persuade her to allow it. So, finally she told him that if he insisted on doing that, he had to wait until she was at home…because someone needed to be there to call 911. Needless to say, that was one attempt at Eric’s demise that didn’t happen. We’re glad you made it through it all, Eric!! Happy birthday!!

Some people are just naturally goofy. They make you laugh at every turn, and the jokes and funny comments seem to just roll off their tongue. And quite often, it doesn’t stop at just what they say, but continues right on into what they do. My niece Kellie is like that. Practically from the moment she was born, she was a giggle box and constantly doing things to make people laugh. And her laugh…well, contagious if putting it mildly. I can hardly remember a time when I have seen Kellie without a smile on her face. That is because she is one of those people who go through life unaffected by the negativity that goes on around her.

Kellie is so full of life, and she has a way of drawing others into her world…even if they can’t figure out how to stay for very long…mostly because their own lives get in the way of it. But Kellie, lives in a world of fun and laughter that is very much her own. I like being drawn into Kellie’s world, because it gives me a chance to be a kid again…or at least, a Wee One as Kellie calls me and my girls. We are among the shortest ones in the family, and Kellie is among the tallest, so she can do that…along with picking us up in a great big bear hug. Then she puts us back down on the ground and laughs delightedly about it. You just never know what Kellie might do…or what she might dress up like for that matter.

Kellie has no enemies, and especially not animals. She loves her kitties and her dog, and you just never know…she might even kiss a dolphin when given the opportunity. And it seems quite obvious to me that the dolphin was quite taken with Kellie, but then, why should the dolphin be different. Everyone who knows Kellie is quite taken with her.

The thing that is really amazing about Kellie, though, is that while she can be very funny, and a total jokster, she has a sweetness about her that is unmatched. She loves everyone, and they love her. With her knack for happiness, also comes a knack for kindness. And she has a love for beautiful things…especially music. Kellie has a sweet spirit, a love for the Lord, and a beautiful voice that is a joy to listen to…especially when she is singing worship songs to God. It is my honor to know you Kellie. You are a great blessing to many!! Love you, and happy birthday!!

When little boys get a new toy, it seems inevitable that the dads, uncles, big brothers, and even grandpas are going to help the little boy play with the new toy…especially if the toy is a cool one, like a truck with moving parts, a crane , or something cool like that. Sometimes the big boys help so much that the little boys hardly get to play at all. It seems like when girls grow up and get done playing with toys, they don’t tend to go back to them as readily…not so with men. Those toys always have their draw for men.

The funny thing about toys is that sometimes, the little boys get almost pushed aside so the big boys can play with the toys. Or better yet…it must be time for a nap right. Oh they’ll never admit it, but boys toys are pretty hard for the big boys to resist…especially considering the fact that the toys these days are more cool that when we were kids.

As boys get older, the toys do cost more but the reality is that they are still toys. Women think of a car as transportation, men have to know all the inner workings and how it all works. Oh, I know that there are exceptions to the rule. There are women mechanics and men who don’t care about how a car works, but there are still toys that big boys have. And, the types of toys are as varied as the boys.

And sometimes, The little boys don’t even have to be around with their toys for two big boys to decide to act like little boys again. On a snowy day when they are done with their work, or maybe just tired of it, a child’s sled can and a strong son-in-law can make for a great big boys toy. And if the little boys come out and want to play…well, you just tell them the same thing you told them when they first learned to play. If you had it first, you don’t have to give it up, so…seriously…we had it first!! Go find your own toys to play with.

Yep, the funny thing about boys is that they never really grow up. They might get bigger, and the toys might get more expensive, but that does not mean that they won’t want to play anyway. Boys will be boys. And boys will always have their toys.

There is something about getting a brand new car that is so exciting. It’s never been used by anyone else. That’s kind of how my dad felt about the B-17G Bomber that he and his crew were assigned. It was brand new. They were to be the first crew to fly her. I’m sure they weren’t the last, since their plane survived the time they were in it. But I don’t really know if the plane continued to fly in war times. The B-17 bombers had a strange history, and I’m sure many people wouldn’t have felt like it was going to be a very safe plane since the early prototypes didn’t fly well. That is probably a fact that I’m sure my grandparents were thankful not to have known, and hopefully my dad didn’t know either. Still, the early models that crashed were built in the mid 1930’s and the B-17G version, which came out in the mid 1940’s, was the final and by far the best version.

I am thankful that it was the final version that carried my dad on his missions, and even more thankful that his plane brought him back every time…even though they flew through many hazardous missions. My dad was so proud of his plane, and he believed that it would bring him safely home again. He could seen why the plane was called The Flying Fortress and The Super Dread, because it could come home even after taking some damage, provided the damage left the fuselage in one piece, of course.

In my dad’s letters, he described the beautiful plane to his family. Dad could see the beauty in the planes, of course, because he had worked for Douglas Aircraft Company, building planes. So, the intricacies and the strength of the B-17G Bomber made sense to him, where they were probably lost on my grandmother. I took my dad out to the airport the August before he passed away, and he got one last chance to go through the B-17G bomber. He was still highly impressed with the plane, and all it could do. He told me where he was stationed on the plane, and what his duties were, and what a wonderful plane it was. I could still see the look of wonder on his face…almost like that of a little boy with his first toy car or plane. As we went through the plane, I could see why my dad was so impressed with it.

Dad went on to tell his family about how smoothly the plane flew, and how impressed the crew was. He also wanted them all to know that this was a plane that would keep him safe and bring him home. It was very important to him that his family not worry. My dad knew that “not worrying” would be difficult, but he wanted to encourage them and let them know that God would take care of him and bring him back safely. Dad did return from World War II, of course, and he was unscathed. He had experienced things he never expected to experience, and sadly, he really never much enjoyed flying after that time, but he was always in awe of the B-17G Bomber.

When my girls were 4 years old and 3 years old, we were living on my in-law’s land, while we got our land ready to move onto. During that time, my sister-in-law, Brenda, and my brother-in-law, Ron were in elementary school and often needed help with their homework. I enjoyed helping them out, so they usually came to me for that help. So, many nights we had a tutoring session at my house. It’s pretty hard to run a tutoring session with small children around, who want to play.

I needed to come up with a way to help my sister and brother-in-law, and occupy my young daughters. Like most kids, the girls just wanted to do the same things the big kids were doing. The problem was that they were too young and would need more help than I could give them right then.

So, after giving it a little thought, I got each of my daughters a piece of paper and a pencil and told them to do their homework too. I was amazed at the way they did their homework. The girls didn’t scribble or draw pictures, but rather they made small careful circles. They were making their letters. As a mother, I was impressed and pleased at their very good attempt to mimic their aunt and uncle’s homework. They even stayed on the lines fairly well.

Things went on that way for a short time, and then Brenda and Ron started needing help with spelling. That…was the beginning of the problem. Before I knew it, Corrie and Amy wanted to learn to spell too. It all seemed innocent and, well even cool, but having them ask how to spell every word they could think of did get old after a while.

On day they started asking me how to spell the names of all their aunts and uncles. I was busy with other things, and really didn’t have time to go through every family member’s name. By the time we got to my sister-in-law, I had had just about enough of spelling. So, when they asked me how to spell Brenda, I very quickly blurted out B-r-e-n-d-a. Well, the girls caught BR, and that is the name that stuck.

At first, Brenda didn’t know if she liked the new nickname or not. When she was little, Jennifer had called her Bea, and she thought it would work into Aunt Bea. She never expected to be BR or Aunt BR. Still, it was a name that grew on her, and the kids really liked it. Before long, everyone was calling her BR. She has it on her license plate, and people have bought her blocks and plaques that say BR. It is her own nickname, unique and original…even if it was an accidental nickname.

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