Monthly Archives: June 2012

Long before there was such a thing as a Diva, my niece Chantel was one. That little girl posed for every shot of the camera, and even if no one was taking a picture. It was just second nature to her. She was posing before she could walk. Chantel was a teeny little girl, who still only stands 4’10” and she is a mom. So those days she was just the cutest little Diva there ever was.

It’s funny how some people are just born with style, and they really don’t worry about the current trends, they just wear what they like. That was and always has been how Chantel is, and since she is a fashionista, she need not worry about it anyway. I must admit, however, that when she was younger, her idea of fashion was a little different than what I would have worn, but that is probably pretty normal, considering that I am her aunt, and not the same age or even close.

There was also the whole game of dress up, which we all know little girls love to play, and those outfits, like this one, can be pretty comical…especially the wearing of the adults glasses or sunglasses. They look for funny on those little teeny faces, but as we all know, they are the finishing touch to the whole ensemble!! And what outfit is complete without the heels. I mean really, a girl has to look amazing for her adoring fans…right!! And if you are liked Chantel, who is very short, those heels help put you in the height category of the big kids…very important, you know!!

Chantel will always be one of those people who doesn’t even have to try to take a great picture. It all just comes naturally to her. She is very photogenic, and enjoys having her picture taken too. Yes, Chantel always was and always will be a fashion diva, and that’s ok with us.

Kids have always loved playing in boxes and most of us can attest, and some kids can really get carried away with boxes. When the box becomes more important that the item in the box, you know that your kid is one of those kids. Of course, this is something kids just do when they are little, and it doesn’t last very long, so it is something you should smile about while you still can.

Sometimes, they are so infatuated with the box that you start to wonder if you should just wrap that up instead, because they would have more fun with it. Of course, clothes are always a good option, because they can get rid of those pretty quickly and then they are left with the box. Cool, in their opinion…and maybe in yours too.

My youngest daughter, Amy was one of those kids who really loved to play in boxes and with boxes. For whatever reason, it fascinated her. She liked to put things in the boxes just to see if they would fit, or get in the boxes and play. Seriously, who needed toys. Just give Amy a box. Birthdays and Christmas were great fun for her…even if it wasn’t her birthday or her present. And nobody had to fight with her over their gift, just hand her the box.

It is kind of sad these days, at least while children are little, that most gifts come in bags, because you can’t really play with a bag in the same way. In fact, it ends up looking just like wrapping paper, which oddly, doesn’t hold much interest for the kids. I would think they would love to rip it up and make noise with it, but they just don’t.

One of the funniest times concerning a child in a box however, was the Christmas that Amy was 1 1/2. She was really into the whole playing with boxes thing, but have no idea how big a box needed to be to hold a kid. Someone had opened a gift, and given Amy the box, and after playing with it for a while, she decided to sit in it. Well, as most of you know, Amy was and is a pretty small girl, and at 1 1/2, she was about the size of a 6 month old baby. That didn’t really help matters very much, however, when she decided that she could fit in a shoe box. It was a fact that simply escaped Amy, and I’m not sure she would have cared anyway, because, what mattered is that even if she did overflow a little, she found a way to sit in that shoe box. I mean, that is what boxes are for…right!!

When I was a kid, one of the fun things to do was the stare down. Two people stare at each other until one blinks. The one who stares the longest without blinking is the winner. There was never any real purpose for this little game except to outlast your opponent, and that seemed to be the thing to do. And the funny thing was that it wasn’t just little kids that did it. Teenagers did it too. Maybe it was a silly kids game, and maybe it was a way to test ourselves…to see how long we might be able to endure. I don’t know for sure, but it was the contest of choice when we were goofing around…especially when we had cousins in town.

Of course, some of us were better at it than others. I would love to say that I was one of the best, but I think I probably fell somewhere in the middle. As I recall, Alena and Allyn were pretty good at it, and my cousin Terry was good too. Whenever he was in town, you could bet that there would be a few competitions that included the stare down that would end up in the mix of events.

It’s funny how quite often it is that you and your cousins are the most competitive. Sometimes it goes to the point of not getting along at all, but that was never the case with our family. The stare down and other competitions were always done in good clean fun, and were very much enjoyed by all of us. We left the fighting to other things…things that were more important, like who was a tattletale, or who hit who. Thankfully none of that happened so very much.

We always enjoyed the times when our cousins would come to visit, which became less and less as we all got older, and started working or got married. Those were some of the greatest times, and I miss them very much. Sometimes I wish things didn’t have to change so much…because in the stare down of life, time is always the winner.

Father’s Day is always bittersweet for me because my dad lives in Heaven now, but I still have my father-in-law. I miss my dad so much. The great times we had. Dad was such a wonderful dad. He had five daughters and no sons. He was so patient and he knew better than to expect to be on time for anything, because when five daughters were trying to get ready for anything, it would take hours.

My father-in-law is also no stranger to the time daughters can take. He has 4 daughters and 2 sons. I think fathers of daughters have to be a patient breed. Daughters are not only slow to get ready for the day but they are quite often drama queens as we all know. So these men are both very special men.

I can say without hesitation that I have been blessed with two of the most amazing dads that ever lived. And I can also say that I wish I could always have both of them here. That is not to be though because my dad is in Heaven and my father-in-law is getting older too. I know the day will come when they both live in Heaven, but I will try to hold that day off as long as I can.

A dad is someone we seem to take for granted when we are little and then when we are older, we wish we had those days back. Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again, so that I could have all the years back. As you get older and start losing parents, you realize how precious they are. I guess that if we knew how quickly that can happen, we would count each moment as precious.

Sometimes you look at a picture and it hits you. This is a face you have seen somewhere else. Sometimes it is hard to figure out just who this person reminds you of, but sometimes it is so clear that it is shocking. As I was looking through some old pictures last night, I came upon this one of my sister Allyn. It was so surprising to me. I had never seen the resemblance before, but my sister’s grandson Ethan looks so much like his grandma that it was uncanny.

I knew that Ethan looks like his daddy, my nephew Ryan, and I knew that Ryan took after our side of the family more than his dad’s side, but seeing that picture of Allyn that is so amazingly like Ethan somehow surprised me. Maybe other people in the family had seen the similarities too, but now one had mentioned it as far as I know. So maybe I wasn’t the only one who had somehow missed it. Whatever the case may be, here I was staring at the the picture of my sister that was so clearly also the face of her grandson.

In researching the family history, I have looked at many pictures old and new, and no matter how often I find a face that belongs to more than one person, I always find my self…stunned. I don’t know why really, but I guess somehow I just don’t think people can often be reproduced so exactly…but I seem to be wrong on that, because clearly, that is exactly what I was looking at…again.

I don’t think I will be able to look at Allyn, Ryan, or Ethan again without looking for similarities. I know that they all look very much alike now, and the only reason it isn’t easy to see, is the differences in their ages. But with the benefit if pictures from different ages on each person, you can clearly see just how much they look alike.

Our family is no stranger to miracles. Sometimes things happen that change lives in an instant. In the blink of an eye you are faced with a situation that is so serious that you have no time to think, and it is just as well, because you can’t wrap your mind around what you are seeing anyway. You find yourself running on autopilot, because it is the only thing that keeps you going. It is at that moment that your faith in God to take care of your child is the most important thing in your life…and theirs.

When my grand nephew, James was six, his dad brought him home after a visitation, and he and my niece, Toni were talking in her back yard while James played. Boys being who boys are, James decided to jump off the deck and swing on the clothes line wire. Unfortunately, the clothes line pole was not very solidly in the ground. When James hit that wire, the pole came down and hit him squarely across the back of the head, cracking his skull. Blood went everywhere, and Toni and Jim couldn’t believe their eyes. Here was their precious little boy injured and bleeding in front of them, and their minds were struggling to come to grips with what they were seeing. They sprang into action, grabbing a towel for his head and rushed him to the hospital.

James began to ask for his grandma, my sister Cheryl, because he wanted her to reassure him that he was going to be ok. Cheryl was called to the hospital, and when she arrived they all prayed over James, and the doctors took him into surgery. James was in surgery for 4 hours, during which time a Titanium plate was placed inside his skull. That plate will be there for the rest of his life.

So many things could have happened that would have brought this situation to a very different ending…but they didn’t. James came through the surgery with flying colors, and the doctors were amazed. He couldn’t have visitors, for a time, because too much movement and stimulation makes it hard for the brain to heal, and there was much healing that needed to happen.

James did remarkably well in the healing process…miraculously so. No other explanation works. He was back to himself very fast for having had a serious head and brain injury, and there were no ill effects from it. It was a miracle. Today that walking miracle is turning 15. James is a sweet, loving young man who is a joy to his parents. His has grown tall, strong and handsome. I don’t know if he knows what a miracle his life is, but we, his family know. We can never forget what God has done for James. His life was repaired and given back to him by a loving and miraculous God. Happy birthday James!! We love you!!

My nephew, Garrett is a man who loves his family. No, he is not married, but he loves his parents, sisters, and in a very special way, his young cousins. Garrett will make a great dad some day, because he loves children. They just click. He doesn’t mind playing their games, and they love being around this grown up who has a little bit of kid in him too. He rough houses with them and chases them around. All the things that little kids like to do. Maybe Garrett forgot to grow up or something.

Garrett is a family kind of a guy, but with a bit of a wild side…or should I say a crazy side. Garrett is a man who is really all kid. He likes to joke around with everyone. And his sisters are two of his prime targets. If he isn’t attacking them, he is hugging them. And since he would never hurt them, either prospect isn’t a bad deal. It’s just that you never know quite what to expect from a brother like that. And if I were those girls, I wouldn’t turn my back on him too often.

Nevertheless, Garrett is a great guy. He is helpful to those who need his help, and kind to those needing kindness. He is a friend to everyone he meets, and is loved by all who know him. He is a guy that doesn’t mind helping he grandmother. And we all know that a lot of kids are too busy for things like that, but not Garrett. He comes to help at her house when she asks him to, and helps her get into church on Sundays. He is just like that.

I know that whatever Garrett decides to do with his life, he will succeed at it, because he has the perfect mix of ingredients…love, kindness, playfulness, craziness, wildness, goofiness…all tings that make him the great guy that he is. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! We love you.

I have not seen my cousin Shirley for about 30 years, but recently we have reconnected due to my mother’s desire to give Shirley our grandma’s wedding gown. Shirley is the oldest granddaughter of my dad’s and her mom’s mother, and as such, the wedding gown should go to her. It had been left in my dad’s care. After Dad passed away, Mom decided to give the dress to Shirley, but we had no way to get a hold of her. God takes care of the things we aren’t able to, and almost immediately, Shirley’s son, Larry showed up in a family tree search I was doing in Ancestry.com. He was searching too, and we connected. He got me in touch with Shirley, and then we and several other family members connected on Facebook. It is amazing how one little step can change the lives of so many people.

Since reconnecting with Shirley I have learned several things about her. Shirley is a patriotic American, who believes in the Constitution and the freedoms and rights it gives to each of us. She believes in hard work and being able to keep what you earn. She believes in the right to keep and bear arms. As I said, the Constitution and all its rights and freedoms. She and I are very much alike that way. It makes me proud that my cousin and I share our conservative American beliefs.

I also know that Shirley loves living up in the mountains, away from the crowds in town. That is not so unusual in that her family lived outside Casper on a piece of land in the Dempsey Acres area when she was a little girl growing up. I guess you could say that country living was in her blood. After leaving Casper, and trying some big cities, the family would move to the mountains of Washington. Shirley is a hard working woman who likes the simple things like the birds and other mountain sounds of the summer morning.

Today is Shirley’s birthday. We are sending you birthday wishes across the miles. We are thankful that our families have reunited again, though we have not yet seen each other in person yet. We hope your day is filled with all of God’s greatest blessings. Happy birthday dear cousin!! We love you!!

A few years ago, Bob and I had the opportunity to take a trip to Canada that was an award from one of the companies I write insurance for. They had set up several things for us to do, such as hikes, an imitation Queen of England for us to meet, who was very good by the way, and even an animal exhibit, complete with birds you can’t even get close to normally. Canada was beautiful, and we had a wonderful time. We loved the hike we took, which ended at a waterfall, and there was also a river right behind our hotel that was running very high and made for a beautiful view as well.

One of the things that I enjoyed the most was the animals. They had a set of sled dogs that were just beautiful, and thankfully not like the mean one on the movie “Snow Dogs”. There was also a hawk and several other birds. But the one that most impressed me was the miniature owl. He was a Northern Pygmy Owl and he stood about 5″ or 6″ tall. He was so cute. I had the opportunity to actually hold him on my finger, and he willingly sat there. I would have thought he would have been skiddish, since they are a very timid owl. They normally hide as much as they can. Of course, I’m quite sure they aren’t timid when they are hunting at night, but then I suppose that there aren’t many humans out then either.

I did a little research on this littl owl, and found that when they get excited, they twitch their tail…and here I thought he was trying to keep his balance, hahahaha!! One thing that surprised me was how gentle he was while sitting on my finger. One would think that with claws like that he would have scratched or something, but he didn’t…and believe me, I was very grateful.  His feet kind of tickled my finger, especially when he moved around a little, but I was so fascinated that it never occurred to me to feel nervous about what he would do. He was just too beautiful to take my eyes off of, and I had never expected to be able to actually hold an owl. Our trip was wonderful, and one I will never forget, and I am glad I have this picture to remember my moment with the Northern Pygmy Owl.

When Barry was a little kid, he liked to ride motorcycles. Like a lot of boys, the ability to drive…even if it is only on dirt…makes them feel like men. So, if given the chance, they will ride the motorcycle or four wheeler. And if their dad is into bikes, the boys are even more likely to want to ride one. These days there are tracks with cool jumps for the kids and lots of ways to make it a family outing, but back then, Barry rode around the dirt roads north of Casper, where his grandparents lived.

Barry thought anything that had to do with motorcycles was cool back then. In fact, he would sit on the parked bike, just to be on the bike. But, riding was the most fun, of course. Barry was always a kid who liked tractors, motorcycles, four wheelers, and even riding lawn mowers. Anything that was mechanical, so it made sense that he would want to ride non-stop.

What was really kind of cute though was that when he got his helmet, he didn’t want to take it off. I think that kid would have slept in it if he could have. Every time you saw him, he had that helmet on. He wore it in the house, and out to play, and of course, riding. It’s a natural thing for a kid to do. It always seemed to Barry that he was having to wait on others to ride, and that was a bummer. He always felt like he had to fight for his turn to ride.

These days Barry is all grown up and has his own toys. He doesn’t have to ask permission now. He can get out there on his riding lawn mower and ride to his hearts content.  Boys never really outgrow their toys, the toys just get bigger and more expensive, right? Well Barry, now you can have any toy you want…as long as you want to pay for it, so enjoy. I don’t think anyone will fight you over this one. Happy unbirthday Barry!!

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