Monthly Archives: June 2012

Kids play so hard. From the moment they get up until they fall asleep they are going. It’s almost like they are trying to cram a lifetime of play into each day. They don’t understand that there is always tomorrow. I love watching toddlers as they get to that point where they want to keep playing, but they just don’t have any more play in them. They start to get sleepy and they try to go faster and faster, until they simply fall asleep.

Sometimes that can be a parents dream…especially if the child is one who is hard to get to sleep, but it also seems like by the time the child falls asleep, it is late enough in the day that after their little nap…they will be up half the night. What is the parent supposed to do? Wake the child back up and deal with the grouchiness, or let them sleep and plan on a late night. It is a tough decision to make.

My grandson, Christopher was one of those play ’til you drop kids, but not the hard to get to sleep type, and he loved his sleep time, so we got to enjoy those all worn out moments. He was so funny. He would play so hard that he could fall asleep sitting up if, you weren’t watching. In fact, that seemed to happen rather often. Not everyone can sleep sitting up, you know. He just didn’t care. He would fall asleep in the middle of dinner or playtime. The need would hit him and he was out like a light.

He always made the funniest faces, and some of the funniest ones came when he was just waking up. That point of still being half asleep and half awake, made him look as if he had been given just a little bit too much to drink. Of course, that wasn’t the case, but he sure looked the part.

Yes, kids just don’t know when to quit. They don’t shop ’til they drop…the play ’til they drop. Sometimes, I think we are the ones missing out on things. We spend our lives slaving away at our jobs, and all too often forget to allow for a little play time or down time. Then the years fly by and we wonder where they have gone, and how we missed them. Maybe we should take a page out of their book and play until we are so worn out that we could sleep sitting up. Think of how contented we would feel!

Bob’s family lived out in the country when I first met and later married him. They wanted to be able to raise farm animals, if they wanted to, and they later did do, as did we, but they also liked having a vegetable garden, and canning the vegetables they grew. It was a good sized vegetable garden, and Grandpa Knox took it upon himself to be the caretaker of that garden. Every day of the growing season would find him out there tending to that garden. And as a family, we all reaped the benefits of his labor, so we were glad he did it.

Grandpa was a rancher from way back, and so raising his own food was…just normal for him. When I met Bob, his grandparents were living on the same land has his parents…just across the yard in fact. That was not something I was used to, but it was a very efficient plan, and allowed Bob’s parents to take care of his mother’s aging parents as well. Everyone worked together to meet the needs of the family as a whole. With so many kids moving far away from their parents, to see this family pulling together for the greater good, was very cool.

When it was time to harvest the vegetables, we all went out and helped, and then began the women’s work. We prepared and canned the vegetables for later use. All of this was new to me, because having grown up in town, we didn’t normally can our fruits and vegetables, although I had made jelly before. Still, I felt a little…no, a lot…out of my element, but I quickly got the hang of it and later canned my own vegetables too.

Grandpa was a man of very few words, and one who always seemed most at home when he was out in the garden or doing other outdoor tasks. He may not have talked much, but he sure knew what he was doing when it came to gardening…a feat that anyone who knows me well, knows is not something I would put on my resume…much less write home about. To put it mildly, I have a brown thumb…except when it comes to roses, which I have no problem with. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know. That said, when Grandpa’s gardening years were past. I found myself very much missing all the wonderful vegetables we got out of Grandpa’s garden.

With boys, hugs and kissed usually stop in their toddler years…at least what we all know as PDA’s (public displays of affection). They are learning to be a man after all, and men don’t show emotion right?? I used to think that it was mostly boys whose dads were worried about them being wimps that caused their sons to act this way. Of course, this thought came from a woman who had 4 sisters and no brothers, and then 2 daughters and no sons. I know better now that I have 3 grandsons and only one granddaughter. Boys instinctively know that they have to be tough, and just like girls who are learning to be nurturing by playing with their dolls, boys learn toughness by pushing back their emotions…and the first thing to go is those good old PDA’s. I mean, “A guy could get beat up” right!!

The good news is that those things will come back into play when they get to the point where they actually like girls again, which must happen after the girls get over their case of the cooties, or the boys get vaccinated from them anyway, because as we all know cooties are the worst germ out there!! So as women, we either need to vaccinate our little boys against cooties…try convincing them that the shot is a good idea…or wait the whole thing out and plan on missing those kisses and hugs until we lose the cooties.

Sometimes, however, something a little boy does is so sweet and thoughtful, and it takes you so by surprise, that you can’t get it out of your mind. It’s almost as if they forget themselves for a moment and just let the emotions flow out of them. Last night I was having dinner at my mom’s house with Mom, my sister Cheryl, and her kids, Rob and his wife Dustie and their kids, Christina, Raelynn and her friend, Matthew, and Audrianna. I was sitting in the chair that was right in front of the door as you walked into the house. As they arrived, the girls all came in and said hello to me, as did their parents. But, when Matthew came in, he walked straight up to me and gave me a big hug!! Now, I am his great aunt, and I know he loves me, but most of the time when I see him, I either have to expect that there will be no kiss or hug coming, or I might get one after the wrestling match it takes to get him down long enough to steal one. Not so last night. That sweet little boy came right up to me and hugged me. I almost cried. It was a precious moment. Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that he will continue to do that, because he is only 6 years old, but it was such a loving and thoughtful gesture, that I think I can let the times when he doesn’t do it slide, because he is after all…only 6 years old.

My parents were hard working people in their working years. They always made sure that we had whatever they needed to have a good life. One of the greatest gifts they gave us was travel. For as long as I can remember, we took a summer vacation and went somewhere! The places we went were varied. But, I can say that we have been in more states than many of the people we knew, and our teachers were surprised when they asked us what we did on our summer vacation. It was one of the richest, most priceless gifts my parents gave their daughters. A unique view of the country we live in.

Mom and Dad loved the outdoors. They loved being in their garden and backyard. They created many new gardening designs and they were beautiful. Their yard was their favorite project. I remember so many family gatherings being held there, under the shade of the several big trees they had. Dad would be at the grill cooking our meat, and us girls would be helping Mom in the kitchen getting things ready for the family dinner that would follow. These days, families just don’t eat together as much as they used to. I notice that even Bob and I, with the caregiving obligations we both have, will eat our evening meal alone as often as not. Not so in my childhood. Mom and Dad wanted our family to have as many meals together as we could. I suppose that was because they knew that all too soon, that would end.

They loved their home, yard, and garden, but the places they loved the best were when they were out in the woods, camping. They loved to wake up in the morning and make breakfast over the campfire, with the smell of the pine trees heavy in the air, and the birds singing all around. They never liked the lake much, but the mountains, were their place of refuge. Their chance to get away from the hurry up world we live in. So many people can’t seem to allow themselves to slow down or sleep in, and just take life at a slower pace, but when we traveled, Dad was never in a hurry. We would get where we were going…and see the beauty of the world around us along the way. Yes, Mom and Dad gave us a wonderful life, and opened the door to a world of beautiful places and things…the places they loved the best.

My mother-in-law and father-in-law have known each other for a lifetime. Their mothers, Nettie and Vina were friends when the kids, Walt and Joann were just toddlers. Nettie and Vina became friends and spent time together while their husbands worked on the ranch. At that time Walt was 3 and Joann was 1. When nap time rolled around, they would put both babies in the same crib, and so years before they would marry, Walt and Joann slept together, a fact which has been laughed about by their family members ever since, much to the chagrin of Joann, who was never sure she thought that type of teasing was very funny.

My father-in-law speaks proudly of the years of marriage that they have mastered…63 years today. All those years of working together, raising a family, weathering the storms of life and loss, and making the journey toward growing old together. So many plans, so many dreams. A lifetime of making plans. For most of those years, my mother-in-law kept the house, and my father-in-law worked. It was the way many it was back in the late 40’s and early 50’s…before women’s lib and feminism came into being and so many women turned to careers. I’m not saying it was better or worse then…just a different time. And it was the way my in-laws wanted their life to be.

As with many things in life, sometimes things don’t turn out just exactly as you had planned. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in about 2004, and since that time her abilities have deteriorated…but not the love that has endured through all the trials, all the difficult times, the loss of daughter, and granddaughter, and parents. The love has endured. Now that my mother-in-law is no longer able to do the cooking and washing, my father-in-law has taken over those duties.

People never know how they will react to the illness of a loved one…especially long term illness. Some people leave, but most long term marriage partners stay. Still, not all people with an illness like Alzheimer’s Disease can expect to be living at home with the one they love. So many partners feel like they have already lost their loved one, so a nursing home won’t matter. And so many people have no other options, because there is not enough help. And even though they love their spouse, there are no other choices. It is a difficult decision to make and one that could still be in my in-laws’ future. There is no right or wrong choice…just no other choice.

No matter what the future holds for my mother-in-law and father-in-law, I know that their love will endure. When she no longer knows who he is or who her children are…the love will endure. He will still go see her as often as he can get someone to take him, because she is the other half of him…she is the heart of him. When she is ill, he worries, when she is difficult, he sweet talks her (after he fights with her a little), when she is having a good day, he praises her…because after all these years, the love endures.

I was at the hospital yesterday, bringing my father-in-law, who had been in the hospital for surgery, home.  A nurse on the floor, who was not his nurse, and so didn’t know his last name, came in to see if the transport team member needed any assistance. When he said he didn’t, she looked at me and said, “You’re Amy’s mom aren’t you?” I laughed and said, “Yes, I am.” She told me that she had gone to school with Amy and asked me to tell her hello.

As I was leaving the hospital, I thought back to the first time someone had asked me that question. Amy was in Kindergarten and I was volunteering at the school, doing throat cultures to check for Strep Throat. As I walked into the nurses office to get my supplies ready, I saw two little girls sitting on the bed. One of them had apparently scraped her knee, and the other one was there for moral support. The little girl who was there with her hurt friend, said, “Are you Amy’s mom?” When I said that I was, the hurt little girl said, “Amy who?” The first girl said, “You know!!! Amy Sugarberry!!” That encounter put a smile on my face the rest of the day.

I have been told many times that Amy looks like me, although that is not alwyas something I can see. It must be so, however, because in recent months, I have had several people who know that I am Amy’s mom, tell me that I really look like her. Still it is surprising to have someone who doesn’t know me as Amy’s mom already, be able to just pull her name out of the hat when they see me. It really brings to light that we look very much alike.

I have always known that I bear a strong family resemblance, because I have had people recognize me as being my sisters’ sister many years after the graduated from high school, and ask me if I am my dad’s daughter, when it has been years since they have seen him. I guess with that said, I should not be surprised when they can see a strong resemblance between my daughter and me. Nevertheless, I find myself still amazed that even after all these years, I am still known as Amy’s mom!

When my mom was a little girl, her favorite and most comfortable way to sit was in a full straddle split. Being a gymnast in my own youth, I know that the straddle split was the ultimate move, and there weren’t very many gymnasts that could do it. For that reason, those who could do it were always envied. Well, my mom was one of those people. In fact, she was so comfortable doing the straddle splits, and not really comfortable sitting in other ways, so that is how she usually sat on the floor. Now if that would have been me, well…OUCH!!! Whenever Mom told me about the way she was able to sit, I remember feeling just a little bit sorry that I had not taken after her in that area. Of course, she cqn’t do the straddle splits anymore, but there was a time when she would have been the envy of a lot of girls in the sport of gymnastics.

I have recently come across a picture of my niece, Jenny that tells me that, at least in that one way, Jenny took after my mom, although she doesn’t resemble her in any other way that I know of. Jenny has always loved all things that had to do with gymnastics and dance, and as you can see, she was very good at the coveted straddle splits. I don’t know if she still does the splits, or even if she can, but Jenny is a great dancer. She does Zumba and Belly Dancing, as well as any other form, I’m sure. And being a very girly girl, she loves the costumes that go along with dance, especially the belly dancing. I’m also sure that her little daughter, who is due to arrive in August will also be an amazing dancer and gymnast. After all, her Mommy is one of the very best, and I’m sure that dance will be something the two of them will enjoy sharing.

Jenny’s niece, Audrianna, Anna for short, also seems to have taken after my mom and her Aunt Jenny. From the time she was a little teeny girl, she could also do the straddle splits. Now, Anna was probably the most unusual of the three in that she was able to take them one step further. The first time I saw Anna do her little trick, she had barely learned to sit up. We were on the mountain for a family picnic, and her mom sat her down on a blanket in the shade of a tree. She sat there for a little while, and then she moved her legs out into a straddle split sit. As I watched her, I was amazed that she could do the straddle splits…but, I was even more amazed at what she did next! That little tiny girl brought her legs all the way into the straddle split and then on around so that she was laying on her stomach and ready to crawl away!! I was shocked. I have never seen anyone who was able to do that!! But our little Anna could.Now that is something for the gymnasts to really be envious of!!

Sooner or later, everyone has a moment that can only be classified as…well, shock!! Being mildly surprised…which tends to be the new picture to take and post on Facebook just doesn’t describe it. No, I’m talking about that moment when someone jumps out at you in a hallway and your eyes get as big a silver dollars. And nobody does shock quite like a baby. They just can’t seem to get their mind wrapped around things like loud noises, and the resulting look on their face is simply classic!!

My granddaughter, Shai was one of those babies who was startled by just about anything. Maybe she was a concentrator like her grandma, or maybe she just had great hearing. I don’t know. I just know that noises or an unexpected touch could cause her eyes to get huge, and even make her cry sometimes. She was simply so jumpy. Of course, we didn’t try to make her cry but, those big eyes were something to see.

I wish I could have been around for some of the shocked looks I have seen in the pictures of Bob, because I have never seen eyes so big…in anyone, baby or adult. I don’t know what shocked Bob, but I’m surprised he didn’t jump right out of his mom’s arms in this picture. His was the greatest face of shock picture I have ever seen. I would love to have seen what happened to shock Bob, because I have never seen eyes so big, in baby or adult. They looked like they were going to pop right out of his head!! Every time I see that picture I have to laugh, because Bob’s shock was so apparent. If it wasn’t mean, you would do the same things over and over just to see those wide eyed shocked looks on the baby’s face.

Some of the best shocked baby moments come when you are taking a picture and the flash goes off. As adults, we know to be prepared for that flash, but there is no way to warn a baby about that impending flash, and no matter how many times you take their picture, the result is the same…at least until they are a little older. You might catch that smiling face, or you just might end up with the face of shock!
 

My sister, Alena was a child who has always loved hair styling, and I have often wondered why she didn’t become a cosmetologist, but she didn’t. She still cuts our mom’s hair and that of some of the rest of the family, but that is not where her true calling lies.  She was pretty funny as a child however, because her main practice head of hair was her own. If Alena was in the area…hide the scissors. I will never forget some of the comical hair styles she sported from time to time. Nor will I forget our mom’s difficult attempts at repairing the damage Alena had done. I remember the little pixie cut that came from a time when she cut one chunk very close to her head. And then there was the bangs that she suddenly had..and that were usually very short. The rest of us girls had long hair, but Alena’s hair depended on the cut of the day, and if Mom could keep the scissors out of her hands, which was next to impossible…because she would search them out.

When Alena wasn’t practicing her hair styling techniques, she was contemplating becoming a scientist…or more specifically, a chemist. Alena liked improving on the cleaning formulas we had in the house. I don’t really think that she ever perfected her own brand of cleaning formula by mixing Comet and shampoo, but our toilet, which was usually her mixing bowl, always seemed to be pretty clean. Of course, Mom could have wrung her neck a few times, and I have wondered how she mixed all that stuff, and never came up with a combination that would blow up the toilet. So much for really being a chemist, I guess. No, this wasn’t to be Alena’s true calling either.

While Alena never mentioned that school was anything that she particularly liked, it would be in a school setting that she would find her true calling. Alena began working in the school system when her children were still in school, and I’m sure that the hours were a factor in her decision, since she would have the same time off as her kids. She began working as a playground teacher, and was very well liked by all, including the children that she sometimes had to convince that they would be better off to control their behavior. It’s funny that often it is the strictest person in a child’s life that is the most respected. When her superiors saw how good she was at making kids behave…without killing any…they promoted her to positions like the “in school suspension” monitor, and eventually the classes for the children who were either troubled, or struggling. Of course, she had to take the necessary training for these positions, but in the end, she would find that she was well suited for this type of work, and believe it or not, these troubled children didn’t look at her as a warden, but as a friend, who understood them and wanted to help. Not a bad true calling, if you ask me.

Today is Alena’s birthday, and since she doesn’t have to work in the summer, I’m quite sure that she would be sleeping in, even if it weren’t a Saturday. And can you blame really her? Happy birthday Alena!! I hope you have a great day and a lovely summer!! We love you!!

When Amy was 3 months old, we found out that she would probably never reach 5 feet. I know that at 3 months that hardly seems like something anyone could predict, but she had not grown at all since she was 6 weeks old, and my doctor being a seasoned pediatrician, and after examining her, concluded that, “If she reached 5 feet, he would be surprised. Well, he was right, and today my little girl is a 4 foot 11 inch adult. But don’t think she is a wimp, because you would be wrong.

Amy had her little blond moments as a child, like the time she brought the outfit she wanted to wear out to the kitchen and put it on. Then she started looking around for something…all over the kitchen. Finally I said, “What are you looking for?” She answered, “My shirt!!” I answered, “You have it on!!” She looked down in total surprise to find the shirt on, just like I had said. She did have her blond moments.

And then there was the time that we were walking into Kmart. Amy was about 3 or so. She was just ahead of me as we walked through the parking lot, and she always had a tendency to look behind her or around herself and she walked forward. So, suddenly I hollered to her to look where she was going, but it was too late…Amy walked right into the bumper of a parked car. She wasn’t hurt, but I found myself having a hard time not laughing about it.

All kidding aside though, our little blond is a very capable, and really not blond-like most of the time, adult, who is a great help to me. I might tease her a little, but I don’t know what I would ever do without her. Amy and her sister are two people I can count on…no matter what I have to ask them to do. The life of a caregiver, which both of my daughters are, is a tough one, and those who have not been there, don’t understand. Many people would not take on the challenges of caregiving, but when the needs arose, my girls were there for me, and their grandparents, on both sides. They know what it takes, and they don’t give up. Ever!! That is…priceless!! I know that those commercials are done in a joking way, but really, all joking aside…my girls are priceless!!

When they say that big things can come in small packages, it was Amy that they had in mind. And I am so blessed. How could I have been so blessed? It is a question for which there is no answer. Today is our precious little blond’s birthday, and I can’t say enough about what a wonderful honor it is to be her mom. Happy birthday dear Amy!! We love you very much!!