Monthly Archives: May 2012

When my niece, Andrea was a little girl, she was a sweet, smiley girl who had cute little blond curls.  When Andrea was little, my sister, Caryl and her then husband, Warren lived in several other states, because he was in the Navy. We didn’t get to see much of Andrea or her brother, Allen, but when Warren had to go on the long cruises required by the Navy, Caryl would often come back to Casper for a few months to a year at a time. One time, I was babysitting Andrea while her mom worked at the hospital, and I had to go bowling, so Andrea went with me. She was such a sweetheart. She sat quietly and watched me bowl. I guess it fascinated her, because she watched every frame, and she was only about 2 or 3 years old at the time.

As Andrea grew up, she found that she had a heart for the disabled and down trodden. She never liked seeing people who were unable to defend themselves, being picked on. When she was in high school, she had the opportunity to work with a group of developmentally disabled children, and she found that it was her calling. She decided that she would love to go into counseling or working with the developmentally disabled citizens in some other capacity. It is a noble calling, and one that few people take to. It takes a very special person to go into that field, but I believe that Andrea will be good at it, or any other career she chooses. And the people she works with will find themselves quite blessed because of her skills.

On June 28, 2005, Andrea gave birth to her son Christopher. He has and always will be the most important thing in her life. He is the love of her life, and they have so many great times together. They are always goofing off together, and I really love being able to see the silly pictures of the two of them. They don’t live here, so we don’t get to see them as often as we would like, but she takes pictures of them often, and posts them a lot. Christopher, nicknamed “Topher” has begun to follow in his mother’s footsteps, at least on the funny side of life. And from the looks of things, the funny side of life is a great place to be. Happy birthday Andrea and Happy Mother’s Day too. I hope you have a great day. Love you!!

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the woman who nurtured you from birth to adulthood, and I have been so blessed by the woman God gave me to be my mom. She is sweet and kind, and always tries to keep the sunshine in our lives. Every day for as long as I can remember, she would remind us of the same things as we left her house. She would always tell us to “Keep on the sunny side.” and “Jesus takes care of you.” It was a beautiful send off to our day, and showed us the love she felt for each of us.

I don’t suppose it was easy to raise 5 daughters, with all of their moods. I know there was more than one drama queen among us, so it was quite a job. And I know that we probably drove her half crazy more than once. I can’t say our house was a quiet place, but it was always interesting. Between the giggling and the arguing, quiet was…well, non-existent. In fact, as a mother and grandmother myself, I wonder how she ever kept her sanity…much less raise 5 good, Christian daughters…but, she and my dad did just that.

When I got married, I gained a mother-in-law and father-in-law. Many people don’t like their in-laws, but I can say that God blessed me with wonderful in-laws. My mother-in-law became like a second mom to me. She had lived a very different kind of life that my mom had, being raised on ranches and out in the country. She canned most of their vegetables, and did a lot of home baking, things my mom didn’t always have time for with her job. So I was able to learn some new skills.

Being a city girl, I’m sure that I was something new for my mother-in-law, but she was always good to me, and she became my second mom. Now, 37 years later, I take care of her, due to her Alzheimer’s Disease, and I hope that she knows how much I love her. As time goes by, I know she will remember me less and less, but I hope that somehow she will always know that she was loved, by all of her family. I pray that both of my moms know how much they are loved. Happy Mother’s Day to you both.

We have all had those kinds of pictures taken. You know the ones. The “Wait!!! I wasn’t ready…” moments. We take a look at them these days and say…”Delete that one!” or “That better not show up on Facebook!” Well, thankfully these days we can say that and no one but you and the picture taker ever see that awful picture, unless the taker refuses to get rid of the offending picture. In days gone by, however, when you couldn’t see what the picture looked like until it was developed, things were quite different.

When the pictures were picked up from the photo shop, often the whole family gathered around to take a look at them. Then it happened…you came up on a picture and said, “Oh my gosh!!! That’s awful!! Don’t show that one to anybody!!” The problem was, that not only had several people already seen it, but it was part of some event, such as a wedding or birthday party, and it was an important part, like cutting the cake, the wedding toast, or blowing out the candles!! So, you were stuck with everyone seeing it, because the moment could never be duplicated. All you could hope for was that someone else got a better shot than this one, so you could get a copy and pitch the offending picture in the trash…but, what was the likelihood of that happening. Pretty slim!!

I am very thankful that we have digital pictures now, because not only can you retake the moment when you see how awful the first shot was, but with the programs we now have, you can fix many of the simple problems. I have cropped the picture, so it isn’t all background, brightened and color corrected, cloned out problem areas…like that fly away hair, and placed eyes over eyelids so the person’s eyes weren’t closed. Most os the time, no one even knows I made the change, unless they saw the before picture that is. You can even place two people side by side, when they weren’t beside each other at all. It’s all pretty cool.

Yes, maybe it can eliminate some of the laughs we get over those awful pictures, but if you are like me, you save those too, because you never know when you might need a laugh. I’m not one to post those awful pictures on Facebook or even my blog without the person’s permission, but when they are old pictures, and very few people know who the person is, it’s not so bad. So, today my blog is dedicated to those “Wait!!! I wasn’t ready!!!” moments that we have all had, but thankfully were able to fix…and to those poor people of yesteryear who couldn’t.

My sister, Cheryl and I are the two oldest children of our parents. There are two years between us. Our younger sisters always seemed so much younger than Cheryl and me. Those early years were spent as pretty good friends, with me looking up to my big sister. Cheryl, it seemed to me, always had it all, not is the sense that I wasn’t given anything, but in the sense of being cool, and I wished that somehow I could be as cool as she was. I suppose most little sisters feel that way about their big sister at some point in their lives, but I can honestly say that in many ways, I still look up to my sister. She has a kind and loving heart, and more patience that I have ever been able to work up. Big sisters just don’t get any better. She is a blessing to our entire family

When we were little, we were good friends, but as we got older, the personality differences that siblings will obviously have, really began to show, and there were a number of years, where we didn’t get along very well. We were very different people at that time, although oddly, we really aren’t so different now. We have both looked back on those years and wondered why it seemed so important to do some of the things we did, or fight over some of the things we fought over. I guess, the years just change who people are, and what is important.

As adults, we have come to love, respect, and count on each other. Through caring for our parents, we have come to know how vital our relationship has become. We both bring different things to the table called caregiving, as do our other three sisters, and no one is expendable. As our lives and the lives of those we care for change…adding in-laws and children with needs…the things we are able to do change some too. My life has been very busy lately with my in-laws health needs, and Cheryl has stepped up and carried more of the load at our mom’s than I would like her to have to carry. Still, she has carried that load, and given me the time I need to use elsewhere, and for that I am forever grateful.

So much has changed through the years. It happens in life. Cheryl and I have long since resolved our issues, and we are good friends. It’s funny that when we were adolescents and teenagers, we both wondered why God had stuck us with such an irritating sister, but now looking back through the eyes of experience we have both come to know that, clearly God knew exactly what He was doing.

When you think of your grandmother, how do you picture her? Is she gray haired and wrinkled, or can you picture the girl she once was? Most of us can only imagine our grandmothers as the age they were when we were able to have our first memory. That would put them in the vicinity of 40 to 50 years old, and of course, we are certain that they are ancient, mostly because when we are very young, anything over 20 is ancient. Rarely do we consider the idea that our grandmother could have been young once. We are sure she was born old…or at the very least, have not been young in such a long time that there is no way they remember it.

It can be so hard to picture as young, someone who we assume has always been old, but there was a time when our grandmother was a girl. She had to go through the same teenaged years, even though the times were different then. Could she possibly understand what kids go through today? I think she does, because even though she hasn’t gone through the exact things kids today have, she still had the same emotions and age related changes you did.

Bob’s grandmother grew to adulthood during the Roaring Twenties…a time of breaking with tradition. World War I was over, and everyone was in the mood to party and…well cut loose from the mundane. Jazz music became the “in thing” and I’m quite sure that the parents of that generation thought they were insane. And maybe to a degree, they were. Finally having the war over must have given them a feeling of euphoria. It’s like being under pressure for a long, long time, and finally the pressure is over, and you feel like you can fly.

That is the age when Bob’s grandmother grew up, and when I look at the pictures of her in those young years, she really looked the part, but of course, by the time she reached the age of 20, the Great Depression had hit. I can only imagine the emotions she must have gone through. The roller coaster ride from euphoria to depression within a matter of a few years. Now this generation of young people was going to have to really prove themselves. They were going to have to be the generation that would bring this country back from the brink. Imagine the emotions they must have gone through. Still, they did start our country on the road back from the brink to recovery. When you think about that, you are able to get beyond the idea that they couldn’t possibly have ever gone through the things you have gone through, to the point where you finally understand that it is you who have never gone the things they have gone through. It brings an appreciation of just how amazing that generation really was.

I have been reading through some of my dad’s letters home to his family from World War II, and I find myself thinking about the secrets that had to be kept. During wartime, locations and mission cannot be spoken of, because it might, or more likely would, compromise the mission and the men involved. I’m sure it was hard for the men, when they couldn’t tell their families where they were, other than the country they were in. Still, they knew that what they were doing was bigger than they were, and they were a part of something greater than their own needs…and there were spies everywhere. Letters and calls could be intercepted, and if they were, missions could fail, and lives would be lost.

Mixed in with the necessity of secrecy, was the need to let family know you were ok. Remember, that most of these men were very young, and many had never been away from home before. Now on that first trip away from home, there are people trying to kill them. My dad had lived away from home before going into the Army Air Forces, but he was very loving and loyal toward his family. It was very important to him that they not worry about him. Dad was also an honorable man. He was a patriot. He would never do anything that would dishonor or put in danger his country, or the men he served with. I can imagine that these men all found themselves in a tough place at that time in the world’s history, but they did what they had to do, because they were a part of something greater than their own feelings, or those of their families.

My dad was the top turret gunner and the flight engineer on a B17 Bomber, stationed at Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England. It was a base in the middle of the English countryside, surrounded by civilian towns and farms. These people knew all too well how important the United States military presence was to their safety, and indeed their very lives. If one of those men had revealed information about their upcoming missions, the entire area could have been attacked and destroyed. So important was their mission over there, and so grateful were the people of that area, that memorials were erected to remember…forever, the sacrifice made by the brave men of the 385th Heavy Bombardment Group, U.S. Army Air Forces. The memorials were placed so that generation, and future generations would remember the sacrifices made to save their lives by men who were a part of something greater than their own lives…to protect the lives of people they didn’t even know. That is what my dad was a part of when he was barely more than a teenager.

Those years changed who my dad was, just like they changed the lives of all the men who lived through that turbulent time in the history of the world. Those were hard times for everyone, and yet my dad and the other young men he served with, played their very important part with dignity and honor, placing the lives of innocent civilians ahead of their own lives, because they were a part of something greater.

As we travel this road called life, we all have moments when we need a hug. Sometimes it is because we are hurt, whether physically or emotionally, and we are looking for someone to comfort us in that bad time. Those are the hugs that none of us will get through life without needing at some point, unfortunately, but they are not really the kind of hugs that we can honestly say we enjoy. They are simply necessary.

The kind of hugs that we all enjoy, are the ones that say, “I love you so much!!” Those hugs are so special, and we need them more than any other kind. We all need to know that we have family and friends who love us…no matter what. The first time we feel that love is often from parents or grandparents, and it is the kind of love that shapes our lives forever. Those hugs are so important, and children who do not receive them can be irreversibly warped by that omission. I am so thankful that my family has never been one to withhold hugs. It has shaped the kind of person I am, and my ability to give and receive love from those around me.

Of course, the greatest kind of hug is the kind that comes from the joy of celebration or reunion. The hug you get when you see someone that you haven’t seen in a while. Visiting your grandmother who lives miles away. Love knows no distance barrier. When we would go to Montana to visit Bob’s grandmother every year, the reunions were so sweet. Grandma was such a loving person, and Bob loved her dearly. He wanted his kids to know her, as well as they knew their other grandmothers who lived closer. And they did. Grandma loved her kids and grandkids so much that the miles made no difference…love traveled across the miles to light upon those who were far away from her.

Love can also grow between two people who share a special event, as was the case between my daughter, Corrie and her great grandmother, who she shared a birthday with. They had a closeness that lasted a lifetime and beyond. They shared birthday parties, and reveled in the fact that they shared that special day. Every time they saw each other, it was clear that their bond was forever. Even after grandma passed away in July of 1990, Corrie still feels her memory deeply…especially on her birthday. Sometimes that can be painful, yet bittersweet, because the memories of her love for her grandma, are still so strong.

Every grandma has a love for her grandchildren that goes so deep that it can’t be explained. I have been so blessed by my grandchildren, and I love getting hugs from each and every one. Grandchildren are the continuing blessing that starts with parenthood. The love you give to your own children sets the stage for the love that will come through your grandchildren. What a wonderful continuing saga.

Hugs have been more the commonplace event in our family. What a blessing that has always been. To know that no matter what mistakes you make, in the end, after whatever punishment, there will follow a hug, because love doesn’t depend on whether or not you were perfect. What an awesome way to grow up!! And oh, it was an awesome way. Unconditional love. That’s what I hope I have passed on to my children and grandchildren, and what I hope they too, will pass on to their children and grandchildren…because everybody needs a hug.

It is somewhat rare to be able to take pictures of five generations of a family. Many people are able to take four generation pictures, but five is not always possible. When my two oldest grandchildren were just babies, we were able to get that picture that so many people would love to have. The pictures we took were and are pictures we will always treasure.

Many people think that five generation pictures represent the ability to live long lives, and that is true, but so much more is represented in those treasured pictures. Five generations represents the wisdom of age being passed down from generation to generation, and that is exactly what we did have in our family. Things like the ability to grow your own food in a garden or raise cattle, chickens, and horses. The ability to knit, sew, embroider, and crochet things like clothing, blankets, table cloths, pillow cases, and so much more. It was these abilities being taught by the older generation to the next, and the next, and the next generation. What a blessing to have these things taught to a great grandchild, who can then teach it to their child, grand child, and great grandchild. A child learning from its parent, who learned from their parents, and grandparents.

So much wisdom and knowledge has been passed down this way. In fact, we would not know how to do many things that we know, were it not for the generations the came before us. When I look at these pictures, I remember the things we learned for Bob’s grandparents. From card games played out between ruthless partners, to recipes like Grandma’s Strawberry Rhubarb Jam…which was the best jam I have ever tasted. It’s almost as if the wisdom and knowledge of the prior generation has been entrusted to the next generation to pass on to the future generations. Our grandparents and great grandparents have given us the best that was in them, in the hope that through us, they might live on. It is almost a sacred trust.

Since the time of these pictures, the babies have reached the age of 16, and Grandma has since passed away. Her words, stories, wisdom, knowledge, and especially her love continue to live on in my memory. She was a very special lady, and I only wish my grandchildren could have known her…not just have been in a picture with her. She lived so much of the history they only know from books, and she could have taught them so much. Unfortunately, the miles that separated us from her, made any real relationship with her impossible during their early years, and before they were old enough to remember her much, she was gone. She passed away on March 28, 1998, just 2 years and one month after the birth of those babies. I just hope that the things she taught her son, my father-in-law, who taught his son, my husband, can be remembered by his children, my daughters, to pass on to their children, my grandchildren, and to their children, and their children, and on into the generations beyond.

Today was my grandson, Josh’s last regular track meet. He has enjoyed track so much, and he is very good at it. He has long legs and they are very strong. Josh had entered the 400 Meter Run, the 4 X 100 Meter Relay, and the 200 Meter Run. The day was beautiful, after a cool, rainy start. The meet was running very smoothly, and the time for Josh’s first race, the 400 Meter Run, quickly arrived. This was a race we all felt Josh would do well in, because he had always seemed to need a little distance to get up to speed.

Josh was to run in the outside lane…the one that toward the end, can be quickly caught up to by the inside lane. The gun sounded, and it was very clear to me that Josh got a great start in this race. There was no hesitation at the sound of the gun…just a smooth take off. I was excited by that in itself, because as we all know, the take off is very important.

Around the first turn, Josh was still in the lead…in fact he was quickly pulling away from the other runners. Then he got to that point…at about 100 meters, where he gets up to speed. At that point, he took off like a rocket. People around his mom, my daughter, Corrie started saying, “Look at that kid!!! Look at him!!” They were stunned. And we…were, totally hyper with excitement!!

Josh has been running in Middle School Track for two years now, and while he placed quite well in the races, he had not taken first place yet. We wanted it for him so badly. He really, really wanted it. We knew he had it in him. And this race just might be that race.

The race continued like that right up to the end. I could hardly breathe, I was just so excited. Here was my grandson, so far out ahead of the rest of the runners that they weren’t even in sight of him. Everyone was so excited!! The man standing next to my daughter, Corrie asked, “Which runner is yours?” Corrie proudly exclaimed, “The one in first!!” The man said, “Wow!!” She was so proud!! We all were!!

The pictures Josh’s brother, my grandson Chris took, said it all. There are no other runners in the picture. That is because Josh never lost the lead. He was the only runner in the pictures, because he had left all the others in the dust!! He was like a rocket, and they simply couldn’t compete with that. I’m so proud of my grandson, Josh’s first 1st place win…and in a tough, long race…the 400 Meter Run!! Josh ran the race in 1.07 seconds. Way to go Josh!! I’m so proud of you!!

With summer comes the need to keep cool. Kids have the unique ability to set aside things like concern over wet clothes or ruined makeup. They simply don’t care about those things. If given the chance, they will run through the sprinkler, clothes or bathing suit…it just doesn’t matter. And, who needs to ask for permission every time? Just tell mom that you were walking by and simply got wet…yeah, right!

Why is it that something that brought such pleasure as kids, seems to be something that we cringe at as adults. Just getting caught in a sprinkler or rain storm as an adult sends us running for cover, but as kids we relished the chance to do the exact same thing. And, as adults when we get caught in that situation, it doesn’t matter how hot we are, that water feels so extremely cold! What has changed? We are the same person…only older! I don’t get it.

As kids, all we can think about is finding a way to get out of the heat. Even end of school picnics can incorporate a type of sprinkler. How do you cool down an entire class of kids at the same time? You call in the fire trucks, of course. Now I wouldn’t want to be hit by a fire hose head on, because it would seriously hurt!! But, you spray that same hose into the air, and it becomes some of the coolest “rain” you ever saw. It becomes just like a downpour!! What better way to soak an entire class of kids!!

And of course, there is still the more conventional way of cooling off…the back yard pool, or as it is with little kids, the wading pool. It is in the wading pool that many kids find that you don’t need the water to be deep necessarily, just cold. Add a few toys, and you have an afternoon of cool fun.

Yes, kids get to have all the fun…without all the inhibitions. Looking back on those years when my sisters and I were running through the sprinkler, I can remember what it was like to be a kid. Sometimes, I wish those days weren’t in the past, but then I look at what I have now, and I realize that I probably wouldn’t want to go back there…even for the fun of running through the sprinkler without worrying about my makeup.

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