Monthly Archives: April 2012

When most of the men in the family have a tendency toward mechanics, you will find that the older men teach the younger men the ropes. That is the best way to learn…by example. Most of the young men who are learning from the adult men are in their teens, but sometimes you get an overachiever, who wants nothing more than to be a mechanic. It seems to be in their blood…even as little kids.

My nephew, JD was like that. If a car was being worked on, JD was there. It’s almost as if he could smell it. He wanted nothing more than to come out and help…even if it was only handing Bob, or one of the other men, the tools they needed to work on the cars. He has never wanted anything more than to work on cars. These days it is very likely that you will find JD in the garage working on a car until the wee hours of the morning. And he has plenty of them to work on too. He owns at least 8 vehicles. I guess that early training kind of made him just a bit of a fanatic!!

Our family really doesn’t need to take a car in to be worked on for anything. We have mechanics that can work on engines, transmissions, radios, maintenance, and even body work, which isn’t really mechanics, but falls into a similar category, since it is done to a car. All of these guys came up the ranks…taught by the men who came before them. And all of them were very motivated to learn all they could about cars. It makes for a great support system for our cars.

Some of the men have tried over the years to train up some girl mechanics, and more than one of us make pretty good assistants, including me. Most of the women in the family Daddy's Little Helperreally never took to the mechanical side of things, however. Still, that didn’t stop the men in the family, and especially Bob, from trying to turn the women, and especially his girls and me, into mechanics. He started trying to have the girls help him when they were just toddlers. They loved being out there with their dad, standing on the bumper, and watching him work on the cars. Unfortunately, all too soon, boys came into their lives, and the mechanic lessons were quickly forgotten. I guess, you can’t fight love with mechanics, because love will win out every time. Today, our girls don’t work on cars much. Either their husbands do, or Bob does. Of course if Bob does it, he still requires them to help. He doesn’t give up easily.

Being the only boy in the family had to be somewhat hard for Bob, when he was little. Bob was the first boy born among the grandchildren on both sides of his family. And when that happens…well, we all know how bossy a group of girls can be when there is only one boy in the bunch…especially when he is among the younger children.

I have little proof that Bob was bossed around by the girls, except that…well, being a girl myself, I know that against 5 girls, one little boy would find himself in a situation that was…impossible to be the boss of. And little girls can and do find as many ways to get into lots of trouble as boys do, but with only one little boy in the crowd, guess who will get the blame 9 times out of 10.

I can imagine how my husband, as a little boy, must have felt when the girls told his mom that it was all his idea or that he did it. Bewilderment set in, I’m sure, as he tried to figure out what had just happened, because something most certainly happened, and it wasn’t good. That is a fairly common scenario in the interactions between little boys and little girls. The girls aren’t being mean, it’s just that he was the easiest way out of trouble. I can’t say for sure, but I can see that his big sister, at least, was trying to get something straightened out, make Bob do or say something that he wasn’t cooperating with.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that being the only boy in the crowd isn’t such a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s quite likely that the girls treated him like the baby, especially when they were playing house. And if that meant making him some dinner, I’m sure that went over well, especially since dinner probably meant cookies, or some other such treat. That would make acting like a baby worth while. Besides, it’s never a bad thing for a guy to have a bunch of girls waiting on him hand and foot…right?

Being the only boy is a group of girls has it’s ups and downs, but I suppose there could be worse things in life. And from the looks of things, I don’t think it was something Bob minded very much…most of the time. In fact, knowing my husband, my guess is that most of the time he thought the whole thing was just fine by him….most of the time.

There are some people who, for whatever reason, have a way with children. Bob is that way, and he doesn’t even have to try. Kids just take to him. And it’s not just babies…it’s kids in general. Our grandchildren loved being picked up in his strong arms or sitting on his lap while he showed them things about nature. Bob has always loved sitting out on the front porch in the summertime, just watching nature. And it’s something he enjoys sharing with anyone who wants to come along. The babies loved to come along.

Bob has a way of making kids laugh. Maybe it’s because he is such a big kid himself. He is always doing goofy things to see if he can make people laugh, but the funny thing is that he doesn’t have to. Just his presence in a room draws the kids to him. I don’t really know how he does it. He just seems to be a kid magnet.

This past weekend we went to Gillette for Men’s State Bowling Tournament. As we went into the bowling alley, there were two kids that came charging up to him. Now I’m used to that happening, but not at a bowling alley in a different town! Of course, these kids do know him…they are the children of one of Bob’s teammates. Nevertheless, you can tell by the reaction, that they consider Bob their buddy. I know exactly why they think that. It’s because that is truly what Bob is. He is a buddy to many…adults and children alike. He is a kid magnet, but also an adult magnet. I have a tendency to be somewhat shy…especially around people I just met, but not Bob. He seems to know everyone…and their kids.

The really funny thing is that he doesn’t even have to be the one to initiate a friendship with the children of his friends. Once those kids know that he is a friend of their parents, that is all they need, because Bob has already made them laugh in some way. And he has already been laughing and joking around with their parents.

That is simply what Bob is like. He is a people person, and a man of the highest character. People don’t worry about their kids being around him, because he is like a grandfather to them. He loves his own kids and grandkids so much and loves spending time with them. The boys always manage to get him rough housing, and of course, his granddaughter will always have him wrapped around her finger, just like his daughters did. Yes, he is a kid magnet, but maybe they are magnetic to him too, or maybe he just never really grew up. Now, that makes sense to me.

Bob and I had always felt that our kids didn’t really need a phone in their room, and for the early years, they didn’t have one. But, when our girls reached the pre-teen years, we decided that since the phone was always for them, and having them talk, talk, talking in the living room made it really hard to watch television, maybe having a phone in their rooms wasn’t such a horrible idea after all. The constant chatter and loud laughter was hard to ignore…not to mention having the girls constantly telling everyone not to listen!!

So, along about the time they were 11 or 12, we decided that Christmas would bring a rather unexpected gift for our girls. We were going to get them phones for their rooms. Of course, there would not be a separate line, but there would be some peace and quiet in the living room. For the most part it brought peace to our home…sort of. There were times when one or the other of the girls took too long in their turn on the phone, and then we would have a few fights. Still, the moments of fighting were a small sacrifice compared to the hours of peace that fell in between. I will never forget the look on my girls’ faces that Christmas morning. They couldn’t believe that they could talk in their bedrooms and not have everyone listening to every word they said.

Much has changed since those days. Pretty much every child has their own cell phone these days…and their own phone number…and it is more important than many people would like to think. A cell phone can be a life line if their car breaks down, or they missed their bus, etc. I know of many parents who don’t think their child needs a cell phone, and that they are a distraction. In some ways, that is right…especially if they are using it during class, but a child walking home alone, who gets lost or is being followed…needs a phone…now!!

I am grateful that my girls have continued the tradition and that their children each have a cell phone. It’s nice to be able to get a hold of my grandchildren whenever I want to. Of course, today things are different. Phones are used in a completely different way…texting. And if you want to keep up, you have to be able to text. I personally like texting, because it allows you to go on doing what you were doing while you are waiting to hear back. And cameras on the phone can be fun and functional too.

Yes, much has changed since my girls’ first phones, but kids haven’t changed. They still get excited about that new phone, and just the fact that it is theirs. They still want the latest and the greatest technology. And what is cool today, will be old news tomorrow. As excited as my girls were with their new phones that Christmas morning so many years ago, today they would wonder if I had lost my mind, because I would be giving them an antique that would be viewed as worthless.

It seems like every family has a comedian or two in it. My grandson, Caalab definitely falls into that category. He is constantly coming up with new ways to be silly and to make other people laugh. And believe me, he is pretty good at it. From the time he was little, he could tell a joke and never forget the punch line. Or he would make up his own funny stuff, and it was really funny.

The other day, he was helping me scan pictures onto my computer, and as we were finishing up for the day,he said, “Would it be ok if I scanned my face?” Now we have all seen the jokes where people copy their face on a copier, but I hadn’t seen a scanned face before. As crazy as it sounded, I couldn’t exactly see a problem with it, so he scanned his face several times.

Of course, he had to try several different looks to see what might be the funniest, and then he wanted to make sure the scans were saved…for some future joke, I’m quite sure. As I have looked over pictures for my blogs, I have come across these scanned pictures of my silly grandson, and laughed about them every time. It is amazing to me that even without trying, he has figured out a way to make me laugh.

The really funny thing is that once Caalab has created the funny thing, the moment for him is over, and he can walk away, leaving you with the memory of the funniness. He will now save it in the archives of his mind, bringing it up at some later date to see your reaction over and over again. The cool thing is that he doesn’t overdo the whole thing either. It just comes up once in a while and then as quickly as it appeared, it is gone again. He’s good that way.

Our comedian grandson will always be that way, because being a comedian is as much a part of him as his great smile. It is part of his wiring, if you will. Everyone is crafted differently. We all have our strong suits, and our weak ones. Everyone excels at something. And most of us have several things we are really good at. Caalab is no exception. He plays the guitar…and is getting quite good, he loves dogs…of every kind, he has a good heart…filled with kindness, and he is a funny guy…a comedian. Yes, Caalab is always coming up with some new and very funny way to make people laugh. You might say he is…Scanning the Possibilities!!

Few times in a woman’s life can compare to becoming a mother, grandmother, great grandmother, or great great grandmother. Holding that little baby in your arms is so special. And when you become a grandmother twice in 2 days…well, that is amazing. While waiting for the grandbabies to arrive, you have a profound sense of expectation, and yet still empty arms, because your little one hasn’t arrived yet…you just know the baby is coming. And the excitement is almost overwhelming.

That is just how I felt when both of my girls were pregnant at the same time. The were due about 2 weeks apart, but that was not to be. We were going to be blessed with grandbabies that were 1 day apart. The idea of having 2 grandchildren in 2 days…and they weren’t even twins. My arms like my heart were filled with so much joy that I felt like I was floating on air. I wanted to hold both of them constantly. It was an amazing feeling.

I think that can be a universal feeling, because when we took the babies up to Montana to visit Bob’s grandmother, the look on her face reminded me of exactly how I felt when holding my 2 grandchildren. They weren’t her first great great grandchildren, but it didn’t matter of course, because they were still her little babies, and there were two of them at the same time.

That is really how all babies make their grandmothers feel, no matter what level of grandmother you are. Babies are just the greatest blessing there is. That new little life, so sweet and cuddly…full of giggles and smiles, making the goofiest faces. And if you have ever been a mother or grandmother, you will know that there are no babies that are a sweet, as cute, or as wonderful as the ones that belong to you, no matter how many you have at one time.

Since Christopher and Shai’s arrivals, we have been blessed with 2 more grandsons, Caalab and Joshua, and while they didn’t arrive a day apart, they are as wonderful as our older grandchildren. I love being a grandmother as much as I loved being a mother. Life is good, and I’m still floating on air.

Today is the first track meet of the year for my grandson, Josh. He is the only one of my grandkids that really likes track. The others have done it a time or two, but Josh loves to run, and so the track part of the meet totally suits him. He has really been training for the track meets all of his life…even before he knew what a track meet was.

Josh and his big brother, Chris used to come to my house in the mornings and when it was time to go to school, they would walk the half block to their elementary school. I say that they walked, but that was rarely the case. Mostly they had a race to see who could get there first, and except for reminding them to look both ways for cars, I simply enjoyed watching the race to see who would win today.

When these races first started, Josh was pretty little…a Kindergarten, grade school newcomer. At that age, his strategy was…outsmart the big brother. So, he tried to distract his big brother so he could get the upper hand. They were supposed to go out to the sidewalk and start the race at the same time, but Josh always managed to figure out a way to get a head start. I know that he figured it was his only way to win, since his brother, Chris is 2 1/2 years older than he is. And at in those early years, Josh was probably right.

Then as Josh grew, things began to change. Josh worked so hard at beating his brother, that he grew stronger and quicker. He started winning a race or two…which was surprising to his brother. We had to start making Josh was until I said, “On your mark! Get set! Go!” Otherwise the races were no longer fair to Chris. Still, even with the new fair starts, Josh was winning more and more. Not always, but winning fair and square.

Those early races were not to practice for future track meets, but they did stimulate a love for running and racing that has carried Josh into this sport. He has tried the field events, but they don’t give him the excitement of the run, the wind in his face, and the thrill of the victory that racing gives. Running is where he shines, and I, for one, love to watch the race. Go get ’em Champ!!

I grew up in an age when people spanked their kids. In fact, I can’t think of one friend who never had a spanking. And my mother could discipline with the best of them. I just don’t think she liked it much. Oh, she could get in there and scream as well as anyone, and she wasn’t a push-over by any stretch of the imagination. But, in reality, I don’t think that she really liked all the screaming and arguing that went on in a house full of girls. You see, my dad was the only man, or boy in the house for all of our young years. Counting mom, it was 6 to 1.

Raising 5 girls with all of the emotions that can go on with 5 drama queens, I can’t help but wonder how she managed to keep her sanity. Part of her way was to tell us, “Just wait until your dad gets home!!” And it was a threat that would bring fear to our hearts, although I don’t exactly know why. My dad had a way of working out a situation without the need for a spanking, much of the time. Mom’s big threat was all the trouble we were going to be in when dad got home, and believe me, if you deserved it, you got it…big time, but if it could be worked out without a spanking, dad could do it. He really didn’t spank us much, we just knew that if he did…boy were we going to wish he hadn’t had to.

Mom’s way, on the other hand…whenever possible anyway, was to spread the sunshine and smiles. I remember that even if we had all been screaming and fighting, when all was said and done, Mom would sing some song like, “Let a smile be your umbrella, on a rainy, rainy day.” Or she might sing, “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life.” Anything to stop the fighting and hopefully put a little cheer back into the house. Mom always hated the fighting that could go on in a house full of girls with very different points of view…and believe me, we could go at it. So much so that sometimes Mom would just decide that if fighting was what we wanted to do, we were going to do it!! Have you ever tried to fight on demand? It has a way of making you feel really ridiculous. At some point, you give up and end up laughing about the whole thing. I guess she was a pretty wise woman.

Mom always wanted her kids to be happy. She wanted our lives to be…just a little bit like living in Perfect. And while she knew that there was no real place like Perfect, she knew that her words and songs could add a little sunshine to our lives, so that has always been her goal. To this day, whenever we seem down in the dumps, or life is filled with stress, we can count on Mom to tell us, “Keep on the sunny side!!” That is just how she is. it’s who she is…the Keeper of the Sunshine!!

When my girls were having their babies, we were so blessed to have our own nurse to come over to the house and tell us when it was time to go to the hospital, and then be there in the delivery room…even on her day off, to help them through the process. It wasn’t that I hadn’t had children, but it is different when it is your girls in so much pain. It is one of the hardest things to watch. You feel helpless…and happy at the same time. We all felt more comfortable just knowing she was there. I was there for the birth of each of my grandchildren, as was their Great Aunt Jennifer, our own nurse. Not many people can say they had the same nurse for each child over the course of 2 1/2 years, but my girls could say that…and it was someone who cared about them too…not just a random nurse assigned to them. And how many of us will always know the nurse who helped deliver us or our children. I don’t even remember the names of the nurses who helped deliver my kids.

Jennifer became interested in nursing, and especially Obstetrics, when she had her first son. She started nursing school shortly thereafter, and has been an OB nurse ever since. She has assisted in countless deliveries, and delivered several herself…because, sometimes the doctor just doesn’t make it. I can only imagine how delivering a baby must make you feel. Being the one to hold that little life for the very first time. I can see how that would have become Jennifer’s dream career.

Over the years she has worked as a delivery room nurse and a nursery room nurse. She has seen joy and sadness, because unfortunately, not all births have a happy ending. Still, there are far more happy births than sad. That is one of the reasons she chose Obstetrics over, say Geriatrics or Oncology. She didn’t want her whole job to be about sadness and loss. Something I’m sure most of us can understand.

I know of several other people in Casper who remember Jennifer fondly as the nurse who helped deliver their children. And I know my girls, their husbands, their dad and I will always be grateful for the fact that when the babies were arriving, we had our own nurse to ease the way through the process. As much as it is worth the labor pains to have our babies, it still isn’t easy, and it helps to have someone there to…make you feel like it’s all a normal part of the process, and it will all be ok. Soon that new little life will arrive, and you will hold him or her in your arms, and the rest will fade away, but for our family, not our nurse. We will always remember her, because she is our own nurse. Happy birthday Jennifer!! We love you!!

My girls had their own quirks when it came to eating…right from the start. They both nursed just fine, but when it came to other forms of eating, things changed. Corrie did quite well on the bottle. Then at 3 weeks old, the doctor, as was the normal back then, started her on rice cereal. And not a moment too soon. Corrie was such a hungry girl. The problem was…she was too hungry. She would be crying, and I would get the cereal ready, but as I put a spoonful of cereal in her mouth, she gagged and coughed. Then she cried, and I spooned, and she coughed and gagged, and the whole process went on and on, until she finally got enough down to feel like she got something. Then she could relax and finish eating. I, on the other hand was emotionally drained and physically exhausted, and felt like a very bad mommy.

One day I was at the store, and I came across an item that saved my sanity. It was an Infant Feeder. Basically, it was a bottle system that had a large hole in the nipple and it moved the cereal toward the nipple to keep the air out. The way it worked mattered very little to me. It was the fact that it did work, that I cared about. Corrie got to eat without choking, gagging, or crying, and I got a peaceful relaxed dinnertime. It was a life saver.

When Amy came along 11 months after Corrie, I felt much more prepared for the whole feeding part of motherhood…for about 5 minutes. I quickly learned the fact that every baby is different. Amy wanted nothing to do with the bottle, and I don’t mean that she disliked it. She started gagging before the nipple ever got to her mouth. The doctor suggested a Playtex Nurser…it made no difference…nor did any other bottle. We thought maybe it was the rubber smell, but it made no difference. She never took a bottle, pacifier, or the Infant Feeder that saved my life with Corrie. It was a brand new day.

If Amy needed water or formula, we had to use a spoon until she was old enough to use a sippy cup, which she started on very early, by the way. It was really hard to get a babysitter for her. My sister-in-law, Jennifer had the unpleasant experience of having to deal with that the first time we left her to babysit. It was a tough job. We all learned from the experience, and we all survived.

Like every mother, I learned as much from my children and they learned from me. One of the biggest lessons was that every child is different. They have different likes and dislikes, needs, and abilities. What works with one child might not work with another. You have to look at each child as an individual, or you will never succeed. And probably the most important thing is to keep your sense of humor, because looking back, I’m sure everyone can see the humor in these two situations, especially knowing that we all survived those years.