Monthly Archives: January 2013

Happy TimesI wasn’t there when my future Uncle Jim met my Aunt Ruth, of course, because I wasn’t even born yet, but I can imagine how he must have felt, because he had found his one and only. All it took was one look at the two of them together, and you could see just how deep their love was. There would never be anyone else for either one of them. They were married on September 15, 1946, and began a life full of love, laughter, and later, a desire to see new places and find their special paradise.

After living several places, they found that special place in the mountains near Newport, Washington. There, with their family around them, they settled down in their last home. Grief had crossed their paths while living in California, when their middle child, and oldest son, Larry was killed in an accident. Washington would become a retreat…a way to get beyond their grief and feel alive again, in the beauty of nature. They had always loved the great outdoors, and now it would become a healing balm for their hearts too.
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When my Aunt Ruth passed away, on May 11, 1992, Uncle Jim’s heart was broken, and maybe his spirit a little bit too. The love of his life was gone from him for now. She existed only in his future now…in Heaven, waiting for him to join her again. For many years now, Uncle Jim has been living in the past…the one thing that the Alzheimer’s Disease couldn’t rob him of. He could see his lovely bride…his one and only…beautiful as ever, always beside him, reminding him of the wonderful life they had shared and the wonderful future they would share soon.

Uncle Jim passed away yesterday at the good old age of 91. He lived a happy life but his body was tired and it was time for him to leave this life and start the next one. He was surrounded by his loving family, and the wonderful nurses and CNAs who had cared for him for the past 7 years, and who will miss him terribly. His joyful voice, singing as he wandered through the halls of the nursing home, is silenced now, no more to delight those who loved to hear it. His smiling face no more to brighten the day of all who saw it. And there will be more than one nurse who will Uncle Jim Wolfemiss being chased around the home by this little old man saying he loved them.

His antics done here on Earth, Uncle Jim has gone home, to begin his future in Heaven. He was met by his one and only, Aunt Ruth, his son Larry, and all the family who had gone before him. He is free again, with his body and mind intact. The disease that had kept him bound all these years, no longer has its hold on him. He is free, healthy, happy, and surrounded by the loved ones who were awaiting his arrival. We love you Uncle Jim, and while we will miss you very much, we are thankful that you are safe in God’s loving arms. We will see you again very soon.

JoshSometimes, in the life of a child, a situation arises that brings out the extraordinary in that child. And even if what the child is doing, isn’t something so unusual, the actions of the child are still extraordinary. I have seen the extraordinary in all 4 of my grandchildren over the past 7 years of caring for 2 sets of their great grandparents, but this current situation is about my grandson, Josh. Josh is my youngest grandson, and he has been the one who has been able to help in the current care of his grandparents, because at 14, he is too young to have a traditional job. Tradition has certainly not played a part in the work that Josh does every week. Most 14 year old kids think only of playing video games or hanging out with their friends, but not Josh. He wants to go to his grandparents’ house every time he gets the chance. And he doesn’t just sit and visit, he wants in on the work…although it isn’t work to him…it is Mom Schulenberglove for his grandparents.

Because, Josh has been more available to help in the care of his grandparents, he has had the chance to bond with them in a way few of the grandchildren have been able to do. His care and concern over their well being is so touching. Recently we had to put my mother-in-law, his great grandma in a nursing home, after she took a bad fall. It was the second of two falls in less than a week. Falls, are probably the worst thing that can happen to the elderly, but we were blessed in that she did not break a single bone. She did, however, tear the skin on her left arm badly. We took her to the hospital by ambulance, and from there she went to the nursing home. Josh wanted to know all about the nursing home. especially where it is. When his mom, my daughter, Corrie told him that it was in Paradise Valley, he said, “No, Mom!! No!! That won’t work!! That is too far from the hospital!! What if she falls?” Of course, once Corrie told him that there were nurses and Walt SchulenbergCNAs on staff at the nursing home, he felt much better. He knew she was safe. He loves her dearly, and Josh has made her safety a top priority for some time now.

Josh comes with us to see his great grandma as much as he is able to, but now he has shifted his caregiving skills to his great grandpa. He is such a loving, caring boy, and his dedication to his great grandparents has endeared him to them all. He helps, my mom, his great grandma at church, to get up and get to her car, and anything else she needs, and he helps with the care of his great grandpa, my father-in-law, every chance he gets to get over there. I am very proud of Josh, and his caregiver’s heart.

Christopher, Caalab, and ShaiMy granddaughter, Shai was not always a fan of her little brother. Like many older siblings, she often wished that she had been an only child. Of course, many kids wish that when their younger sibling comes along. They get less attention, and they have to share their toys. Sometimes, it’s because the new baby cries a lot, as was partly the problem for Shai…at least until Caalab started teasing her, as brothers often do to their sisters. Early on though, Shai liked her little brother…except when he was crying. Then she wished her parents could somehow send him back where he came from.

Being a girl, Shai has a motherly side, but not so much when it comes to her brother. As far as she is concerned, brothers are best when they are seen and not heard, and the less seen the better. In fact, never coming out of his room is a pretty good idea, since she can’t send him back where he came from. Of course, Caalab has an entirely different view of things. Girls are for picking on, and they should take it with a smile. She is welcome to have her door closed when she is getting dressed, but all other times of the day should be open season on his sister. My guess is that by now, you can see the problem these two had.
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Of course, much has changed as they have grown older, and most of the time they get along well…provided Caalab keeps his teasing to a tolerable level, but as little kids, it was a different story. Shai tried everything to shut her brother out, since hearing him at all annoyed her. Covering her ears didn’t always work very well, and closing her door wasn’t any better. Finally, she hit on the perfect plan. She would borrow her grandpa’s ear muffs, that he used when mowing the lawn to protect his ears. She figured that since they were powerful enough to block out most of the lawn mower’s noise, they should work on her little brother. And, I suppose it would have worked too, except for the simple fact that they only blocked out sound. Her little brother was still there. I’m sure glad that those days were short lived, because otherwise, I might only have two grandsons, instead of three.

Funny facesOnce in a while, you come across a baby, who makes the funniest faces. Reagan is just three months old, but she makes great funny faces. She has great teachers, so you might say it isn’t so unusual, except that she was less than a month old when this first picture was taken. How do you get a baby to make the same face as her daddy, when she is not even a month old? I don’t see how, but here is Reagan, my grandniece doing just that. Amazed, I asked her mom how they got her to do that, she said, “We just asked her nicely and she did.” Of course, she had no idea how it happened either, and yet, Reagan did a perfect  imitation  of  her  daddy  for  this  picture.
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And, we have all seen the pictures that everyone is doing these days, where everyone in the picture has their tongue sticking out, and of course, Little Miss Reagan is no exception. She has to make sure she keeps up with the rest of the in crowd of babies, so as soon as she could work it out, she had her mommy and daddy take the first of these necessary pictures. I mean, a girl has to make the right moves so she can get set up with the in crowd. Not that I expect Reagan to ever have any trouble being in the in crowd, because she has personality to spare. I think she will be a natural in any crowd she wants to be in. Everyone likes a  girl  with  a smile  on her  face,  who  can  make  people  laugh.
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I think Reagan comes by her knack for cute little faces naturally…I mean when you look at the faces her parents make, you have to assume that some of that will rub off on their children. It could be the faces she sees them making, or it could be that she simply inherited it. It is still very odd how she managed to make the same face as her daddy when she wasn’t even looking at him. Maybe they really are two of a kind, or maybe it helps to just ask. However it happened, my guess is that we will be seeing lots more of this little girl making these funny faces, because I think it is just a part of her nature, and I think that her parents funny faces  won’t  hurt  when  it comes  to  working  up  a  funny  face.

Lacey Louise StevensIt’s a very strange feeling when you no longer have any grandchildren who are teenagers, or at least I think it would be a strange feeling. I won’t personally find that out for slightly more than 5 years from now, but as of today, my mom will know how that feels. Her youngest granddaughter, Lacey is 20 years old today. When your first grandchild arrives, you feel like you will have babies in your life for years to come. Before you know it that first grandchild is all grown up and having babies, so I guess having babies in your life might be correct. Still, they are different, they are great grandbabies. The grandbabies stop coming at some point and then, one day, there are no more of them in their teens.

It is very strange to think of Lacey being 20 years old. In my mind, she should still be a little girl in grade school, or huddled up in a corner of the couch with Siara deep in conversation, because that is what they spent a lot of time doing. But now, those little girl days are gone, and Lacey is all grown up. She is finished with school and is a fully trained Cosmetologist, who just passed her boards…and one my daughter recommends, since she has used her before, while she was still in school. Now she is ready to head out on her Lacey Stevensown, and I’m very excited for her. This career comes naturally to her, and in many ways she gets her talent from her mom, my sister, Alena. While Alena didn’t pursue the same career, she had a natural talent for it, and I believe she passed that on to Lacey.

I’m very excited for Lacey as she begins her new life. No more school…no more being a kid…she is a grown up adult, out in the working world, making her own way. I know that she will have great success in all she does, because she is an amazing person with great talent. Today is Lacey’s 20th birthday. We are all so proud of your accomplishments. Happy birthday Lacey!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!

Josh helpingI finally got my Christmas decorations and my tree down today. My grandson, Josh came to help me. Some years are just like that. I love the holidays, but like many people I know, the un-decorating is…well, not so much fun. This year was messed up, because we had to put my mother-in-law in the hospital and then a nursing home on the weekend I would have taken down the tree. After that, there just never seemed to be a good time. We were either visiting her, or visiting and taking care of my father-in-law. Of course, there were a few moments mixed in there that might have been used for taking the decorations down, but we were just too tired to think about it.

This year reminded me of another year when I just couldn’t get to the task of taking down Pho4C9Bthe Christmas decorations. We were living out in the country then, and bowling every night of the week. We weren’t home very much, or as my sister, Alena would say, we weren’t country people…we were city people who slept in the country. And she would be right. We took a change of clothes and came home after bowling. Needless to say, it made taking our Christmas decorations down, a little difficult.

Our daughter and future son-in-law, Kevin had been dating a while by then, so Kevin felt comfortable teasing me about the Christmas tree that was still up in March, and I guess I deserved that one, because I suppose I should have found a way to get it down, but time just got away from me. Before I knew it, March had  arrived.  Then, the girls  and Kevin had decided  to take matters into their own hands.PhoB256

We were coming home from bowling one night, and when we pulled up, Kevin’s car was there too. He wasn’t usually there when we got home, so we wondered what was up. When we walked in to door, here were the three kids, taking down our Christmas decoration, and having a good time laughing about the fact that it had come to this. Needless to say, I was quite embarrassed, by their teasing, and vowed never to let that happen again. It isn’t March yet, so I guess I’m ok, but I’m sure that the kids have had a laugh or two this year too, because as we all know, the holidays really are over.

There is an old saying, “as snug as a bug in a rug.” Now I don’t know how long that saying has been around or if my father-in-law’s nickname came from that or not, but when he was a baby, they either switched that saying around, or made up their own, but he was “as cute as a bug.” That saying was used around him so long that somehow the nickname Bug eventually remained, and Bug he has been ever since. It’s funny sometimes, how these nicknames come about, and when you look back on them, you wonder why anyone would think that was cute, but on him it is nevertheless. And it has never changed. For all the years I have known and been in this family, his mom, sisters, and, brothers, called him Bug. When I asked why they called him that, they told me that he was as cute as a bug.

I can’t say that I have ever felt like bugs were cute, except maybe the Ladybug, but apparently either I was missing something, or they were cuter back then, or maybe it was just that boys thought they were cute, or great, or whatever. I suppose that for a boy, Bug would be a pretty good nickname…I mean, how many guys go by snake or something like that, and I have to tell you that I like Bug a whole lot better. Snake reminds me of somebody who might slit your throat in a gang fight, and I have to wonder how comfortable I would have been at 17 years of age, upon meeting my boyfriend’s dad and having him be introduced as Snake. Yikes, I don’t think so, and besides that, my father-in-law is not snake-like at all. He’s far too nice a guy for that. Of course, they didn’t introduce him as Bug either, but eventually the nickname came out.

Even though he has been Bug for as long as I have known him, my father-in-law would undoubtedly pass out if I ever called him that, and I can’t imagine doing it anyway. For one thing, since it was a nickname from his childhood, it seems better suited to childhood, and of course, for his family it was just as normal as calling my grandson Joshua, by his nickname, Josh, but if you didn’t start out using the nickname Bug by knowing him as a child, it might seem a little odd to start using it on him when he is your father-in-law, or at least that’s the way I see it. No, I’ll just have to leave that one for his brothers and sister, who will never get past calling him that anyway. You have to admit though, that he was as cute as a Bug!!

Getting a group of people together for pictures can be trying under the best of circumstances, and when you get a group of kids together…well, all bets are off. You don’t know if the kids will cooperate or if some will cry and some will laugh hysterically. You would expect that as the people get older, they might be able to control their emotions for just a second so the picture could turn out good, but, it seems there is always one in every crowd. In Bob’s dad’s family, that one that was a big cut up, was Bob. Maybe it was being the first boy in the bunch that drove him to goofiness, or maybe all those girls drove him crazy. Either way, he often ended up being the one with the funny face, because something struck him as funny at the most inopportune moment. When you think about it, it wasn’t such a bad thing…at least not this time, but I suppose that his mom wasn’t too amused at the look on his face.

Bob has always been one to laugh a lot, and most of the time it is very amusing…especially when he is laughing about a television show and you are not in the same room with him. When you hear that laughter from another part of the house, you have no idea what is so funny, but you laugh about it anyway. It was too hard not to. His laugh is a bit contagious. Still, the faces he often made as a child in pictures that were being taken, were probably irritating to his mom who wanted the pictures to be the best ever. Bob, like many little boys, just couldn’t keep a straight face, or sit still for that matter. It just wasn’t in him.

Looking at these pictures now from the viewpoint of having tried with my kids and grandkids, I can understand how she could be upset, but whether you wanted more serious pictures or not, you just have to admit that that one little funny face in that crowd of more serious ones did add a flavor to the picture that was all its own. He wasn’t trying to be bad, he was just wiggly, like boys are, and probably really wished they would just get this stuff done already so he could go back outside to play, because who wanted to sit still for pictures anyway. Yep, there is one in every crowd, and in that crowd, Bob was that one.

Everyone has their own parenting styles. Kids can be a trial, and some of us are patient, and some are not. My dad was a person who did his best to resolve issues peacefully, where my mom was one to spank first and talk later. The funny thing was that when Mom got tired of our bickering, she would tell us to, “wait until your dad gets home” which always brought thoughts of terror, although I never figured out why. Dad tried his best to resolve the problem without spanking. His way was to talking it out and I can count the times I was spanked by Dad in my life on one hand…well ok, maybe 2 hands, but it wasn’t much, so I don’t understand to this day why we thought he was going to pound us into sand. I did find out that grounding, by either parent, was very effective too, especially as we got older. It’s real hard to date, when you are grounded.

One thing I took away from my childhood was patience…not that I had anywhere near the patience of my dad. No, I was much more hands on than my dad, and far less patient. My girls quickly learned that if they didn’t want to see that hands on tactic, they had better mind me. After a while, I could snap my fingers, and two little mouths would instantly shut. I guess I had a way of handling things peacefully too…peace and quiet, that is. If the girls didn’t want to be on the receiving end of my hands on tactics, the had better respond quickly to my finger snapping tactic. When my grandkids came along, I had more of my dad’s patience, but they still experienced the hands on tactic occasionally. One thing that my kids and grandkids knew though…I loved them…no matter what.

No matter what type of parenting tactic a parent uses, the main thing is to parent with love, because it makes the discipline easier to take. Your kids will never like your form of discipline anyway, and you have to do what you have to do. It is your job, and you are not their friend, you are their parent. It is your job to teach them how to make it in this world, and one day they will be these wonderful adults, who have taken your lessons and passed them on to their kids. I vividly remember telling my parents after a spanking one time, “I’m NEVER going to spank my kids!!” And all I can say to that is…”Right.”

It seems to be a rite of passage…you know, the new social interactions of a kid who is now is school, whether it be pre-school or grade school. Suddenly they have all these new friends. Then the oldest kid in the class has a birthday, and invitations are circulating around the class. It is so exciting for the children who get one, and devastating for the ones who don’t…unless it happens to be an all boy party and you have a girl, or vice versa. As a parent, you almost feel as bad as the child that wasn’t chosen, until you are planning the party for your child, and you realize that there is no way you can invite all those kids…you would go broke…or insane. You invite as many of their friends who are close and that you can afford or stand to have, and sadly, the rest will just have to deal with it. Of course, we all hope that it isn’t the same kid left out time after time, but it can be. Since my girls had their birthdays in the summer, we had an easier time of it, in that the invitations were not handed out at school.

Those first little social interactions can be so cute. You watch as your little one spreads their wings and heads out to meet new people that you have no part in until they become your child’s friend. It can be a strange feeling, when they come home and start talking about little Susie or little Jimmy, and your first thought is, “How do you know this person?” And then you remember that of course, it is school. It is a very different time in the life of both parent and child, but it quickly transitions into an understanding that it is normal not to know every friend your child comes in contact with. Many friends will remain friends only at school, and some will become friends that are more like family, in that they spend a lot of time at your house, or your child spends a lot of time at theirs.

I found that it was always easier to have those early parties at McDonalds or Burger King, because then they could clean up the mess, and they even provided the entertainment. The kids always had a wonderful time, and I was much more at ease, and since I had gotten to know some of the mothers, I wasn’t sitting there all alone. So often, parents take their kid to a party, and think, “Ok, now I have a little free time to do what I want to.” And that is ok for the most part, if their child is well behaved, but it is the pits when they aren’t. I was very lucky in that most of the friends my girls had were very well behaved, and most of their moms stayed for the party. It was kind of nice for me that way too. Not everyone has good experiences with their child’s first social interactions, but good or bad, everyone goes through those little changes in their child’s life. And no matter what, it is something you don’t forget.