Monthly Archives: February 2013

Jacob Vincent Harman_editedFrom the moment his sister, Siara was born, my grand nephew, Jake became her protector. It didn’t matter if someone was bullying her or simply teasing her, Jake took it upon himself to make it right. That’s the kind of guy he is. When Siara was little, she hated to eat anything that was broken. Her dad thought this was hillarious, and so when her mom, my niece, Chantel, gave the kids a Little Debbie snack cake, her dad would flick the cake, breaking the frosting before giving it to her. Siara would fall to her knees and wail mournfully, “It’s broken!!” Even though Jake was only 5 or 6 years old, he would quickly say, “It’s ok CC, lets trade!” Immediately the situation was all better. After, his parents’ divorce, Jake became the man of the house…a role he had practiced for all his little life. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his sister.

Growing up in a home without a dad, Jake had to deal with the influence of a single mom and a Siara and Jakesister. We all know that the driver of the car gets to pick the radio station. so in the mornings, Jake had to listen to the music his mom liked. Chantel liked to make sure the day started out with everyone in a good mood, so singing on the way to school…to Chantel’s favorite songs…was the way the drive went. To this day, Jake knows every word of Shania Twain’s “I Feel Like A Woman” and Jake..in typical Jake style says, “Hey, I was raised by a single mom, and I have a sister. Don’t judge!” I say it takes a man who is comfortable in his own skin to be able to say I sang that with my mom and sister, and I have no regrets.

When Chantel’s current husband came into their lives, Jake just wasn’t sure he wanted to trust another man in the house again. He tried so hard not to like Dave, even telling Chantel that Dave looked like a serial killer…a statement as far from what Dave is like as the Earth is from the Sun…but Dave was very different than Jake’s real dad, and he soon won Jake’s respect, and more importantly his heart. Three weeks later, Jake asked if he could call Dave…Dad. Jake’s days of having to carry the load of being the man of the house alone, were over.

Still, there was the Siara issue, and as Chantel says, “The door swings both ways.” OneChantel and Dave_edited day, before Dave was a true member of their family, Jake in normal kid style, pushed his sister down on their trampoline. Apparently, it’s ok for Jake to pick on his sister. Since Dave was in the back yard, Siara did the logical thing and told on Jake. Dave went to the trampoline and jerked Jake to the edge so that he could tell him never to push his sister again, but before Dave to say a word, Chantel tells me that he saw a little blond vapor trail and heard the slamming of the screen door as Siara ran into the house to tell Chantel, “Mom!!! Dave is hurting Jake!!” It just goes to show you that while siblings might pick on each other, no one else gets to pick on their sibling. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a wonderful day!!

RonIrish SetterWhen my brother-in-law, Ron was about 10 years old, he had an Irish Setter dog named, what else…Red. Ron loved that dog, and they were pretty much inseparable. Ron was trying very hard to teach his dog as many trick as he thought the dog could learn. It doesn’t seem to me that he was having a lot of success with most of them, but when he patted his own shoulders, the dog knew it meant to stand on his hind legs and put his front paws on Ron’s shoulders. It soon became their favorite form of play. Red loved Ron, and wanted to be with him all the time, but sometimes Ron had chores to do.

About that time Bob and I were living on the same property as his parents, while we got our land ready to move onto. Corrie was 2 years old, and Amy was 1 year old. Ron was always playing with Red in the yard, and that was also where the girls played. That was just how it had to be, the yard was a shared space. The girls never minded playing out there, because when Ron was out there, they had a great time. Of course, the girls were interested in the play with the new dog, and they watched intently. But as little girls do, they lost interest pretty fast.

Eventually, they started going out in the yard playing their own games, and this too, would have been fine, except for one thing. Red, had been learning the best way to play with people. As Corrie walked out into the yard, he bounded over to her and…you guessed it, put his paws on her shoulders, knocking her down immediately. As her high pitched screams hit the air, Red retreated…in a big hurry. I think I might have done the same thing if I were Red, because Corrie could really scream.

Amy had a little bit different encounter with Red, because the dog seemed to understand that a crawling child was very different from a walking child. Amy could crawl Amy at 2 years oldCorrie Sue Schulenberg 2 years 3 months old_editedaround under Red’s feet, and was very careful. He never stepped on her or scared her in any way, but with Corrie, he just didn’t get it. Walking kids should be big enough to do Red’s favorite trick. He was bewildered by this problem. Finally he quit trying, because I’m sure those screams were scary. Unfortunately it took Corrie a number of years to trust dogs again…any dogs. I can’t blame Red for this, because after all, he was just playing.

Mom SchulenbergMy mother-in-law is in the hospital tonight. Her age, Pneumonia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Diabetic related Kidney disease are taking a toll on her body. We don’t know how long she will be with us, as she is in and out.  When she is somewhat lucid, this dear sweet lady is asking us things like, “Do you want me to make you some breakfast?” or “Did you feed that brown dog?” Here she is very ill with Pneumonia and very messed up electrolytes, causing her to hallucinate about things like the crocheting she used to do, and the pets she used to have, yet she is thinking about doing for others. She isn’t moaning and complaining about how much she hurts, and demanding that something be done for her. She is thinking of others…or she is resting quietly…asking very little. She just weaves her story as she goes along.

She has always wanted to make sure that guests didn’t go away hungry, and so offering to make breakfast for Kevin, Corrie, Amy, and Josh isn’t so unusual, but she hasn’t cooked in years, so you would think that she wouldn’t bring that up. That is what Alzheimer’s Disease does though…takes away your present and leaves you only the past. She lives in an alternate reality…a review of the life she lived. Much of what she says makes sense only to her, and those who knew her in her young life.

I mentioned the dog question to my father-in-law, telling him that I had assured her that we fed the dog this morning. He said the dog had to be Brownie, a dog they had when Bob was a baby. A picture popped into my head…a picture of my sister-in-law, Marlyce with a brown dog. I had written a story about that dog with Marlyce just 3 days ago. I didn’t really know the whole story, when I wrote the story, I could just see that Marlyce and her dog loved each other. It would take my mother-in-law’s trip down memory lane to bring out the full story of how protective the dog was of Marlyce…often stopping her from going Walter & Joann Schulenberg wedding day 1949_editedwhere she shouldn’t…like too close to the railroad tracks near their home. And yet, it was just what I was thinking when I looked at the picture.

I don’t know how this hospital stay will end. My mother-in-law is a fighter, and I don’t believe that she will leave this world until she is ready to go. We all hope and pray that she will stay with us a little while longer, because we are not ready to have her go. I guess we never will be ready, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because when it comes right down to it, we will have no say in the matter. All we can do, when the time arrives is to remember that she lived a good long life…even if part of it was lived in the past…in an alternate reality.

Jenny in straddle splitWhen my niece, Jenny was a little girl, she loved to dance and do gymnastics. She was a natural talent. Most people have a hard time with the splits, much less behind able to do the straddle splits, but Jenny took after her grandmother, my mom in that straddle split ability. As much as I loved gymnastics, the straddle splits, and pretty much the splits in general were simply beyond me. I could do the rest, but splits of any kind just hurt. Not Jenny, she was amazing.

Another thing Jenny has always been great at is dancing. She Belly Dancingdanced through her childhood and into her teens. When we had a teen dance club here, she and my daughter, Amy liked to go and dance there. But going out dancing isn’t the only way Jenny likes to dance. She likes to work out, and one of the ways she has done that is Zumba dancing. Zumba dancing is something I want to master, but so far, I think I have two left feet, so that will take a good deal of practice. Again, Jenny is a natural.

Another type of dancing that Jenny has taken up is belly dancing. She creates her own Crista and Jennycostumes, and they are beautiful. She is so graceful and beautiful. Being able to move like that takes a great deal of talent, and hours of practice. And yet, she also finds time to be a great mom to her three boys and now to her little girl. I’m sure that before long, Jenny and her daughter, Aleesia will be taking these classes together and quite likely Aleesia will follow in her mother’s dance steps and become a great dancer too. I’m sure that will be a wonderful thing for the two of them to share for years to come, because, once a dancer…always a dancer. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Josh guarding in basketballGuardingLast night, I  went to  the last regular season basketball game I will ever attend for the middle school aged kids. Why? Because, my youngest grandson, Josh is the last of my grandchildren in middle school. That fact seems so odd to me. How can it be that my youngest grandchild is going into high school next year? It’s funny that it isn’t so much the first child to do the landmark things in life that shocks you, but rather the last one to do them. I suppose that it is because once you start a new level in life, you naturally think it will go on this way forever, and when you find out that it isn’t so, you are somehow startled by that revelation.

Josh has grown so much in his abilities. When he was in grade school, he was almost afraid of the getting ball, or should I say, of making a mistake. It has taken a lot of encouragement to get him to be more aggressive on the court, but the work his family has done, has really paid off. Josh doesn’t back off when someone tries to get the ball. He holds on tight, and gets the jump shot. He used to be nervous about dribbling the ball down the court and going for the basket, but now he goes for that too, and isn’t even afraid of going for the 3 pointer, which he has gotten pretty good at making. He is turning into a great basketball player.

The tournament starts this Friday, and that will be the last tournament, as will I don't think so!Stay Backtrack when he participates in that. It won’t be the last year he participates in sports, I’m sure, but it will be in a different setting. While I know that he will just get better and better each year, I also know that he is growing up, and things will be different. He improves so much with each year, that I know that next year will be even better than this year was, so what is my problem? I guess it is that my youngest boy is growing up, and I guess I just wish he wouldn’t do that so fast.

Reagan & AyvaMarlyce & friendThrough the years, people have had a special relationship with their puppy friends. Dogs just have a way of being more than just a pet. So many dogs have protected their owners from harm, and when they are with the children of their owners, they become even more protective. They seem to think of the children as their own babies, or maybe their siblings. It is so strange that an animal can have such strong feelings for their owners, but as we all know, dogs can be very smart. My grand niece, Reagan’s dog, Ayva thinks Reagan is her baby. She expects to be involved in every part of Reagan’s life…nap time, play time, and of course, walks.

Dogs have a natural instinct when it comes to the developmentaly disabled. They seem to be more gentle with them, even when they are a little rough. My sister-in-law, Marlyce was developmentally disabled, but her puppy friend didn’t seem to mind anything she did. That dog was her friend for life, and she was his best pal. I think dogs have a sort of motherly or fatherly feel toward the developmentally disabled, because they know that they need a little extra help sometimes, almost like a child, even if the person is not a child.

An older kid with a dog has a playmate that doesn’t get in fights with them. Dogs just Josh and MollyCaalab and his puppieswant to play and be with you. They don’t care what they get to do, they just want to go along. My grandson, Caalab’s dogs like to go camping, while my grandson, Josh’s dog thinks she should get to go everywhere with Josh, including school, if she could get away with it. The boys and their dogs don’t have to be doing anything special for them to be happy, because doing anything with the boys, makes the dogs  and the boys very happy.  They just want to be their friend.

75056_1633440283117_8006226_n_editedThe first time I met my niece, Toni’s future husband, Dave, I thought that he was pretty quiet…which surprised me because Toni is so outgoing. Like most first impressions, this one was wrong, because Dave is very outgoing and quite fun. On Christmas I got to see the goofy side of him, when for lack of a chair, he sat on his brother-in-law, Steve’s lap. I could tell, that neither of them were surprised by his antics, but I certainly was. I won’t be fooled into thinking that Dave doesn’t have an outgoing, and very humorous side again.

Since that first meeting, I have watched how Dave is and looked at the pictures they have taken, and while his goofy side is fun to watch, the thing about Dave that most impresses me is the loving side. It is so obvious 29480_1450963761318_2102979_n_editedto me that Dave loves Toni with his whole being, and that is high on my list of what a husband should be toward his wife. It is so easy to see how in love these two are. Toni is absolutely glowing these days, and as her aunt, I can say that I really like seeing that. I think these two will have a long happy life together.

Another thing that really impresses me about Dave is the way he worked to make a relationship between him and Toni’s son, James work. Blended families are sometimes difficult, and for a kid, it’s hard to accept that your mom is marrying someone that isn’t your dad, but Dave has found a way to win James over. He won’t ever try to replace James dad, but they have a better relationship than so many steps do, because Dave took the time to let James ease into a friendship with him. He included him and even found things that 423193_10151136257657237_1789342987_n_editedthey could do together…guy things, that are important to a kid. I think that has endeared Dave to many in the family.

I think Dave is a really good fit in this family, and will be great to be around. We are a family of teasers, and Dave is that way too, and yet that isn’t all he is about. He steps up and pitches in whenever he is needed, even offering his help with things like raking the leaves up when the rest of us just couldn’t get around to it. Basically, Dave is one of the family. Today is Dave’s birthday…the first since his marriage to Toni. And it’s Super Bowl Sunday too, so that should help make it a good day!! Happy birthday Dave!! We love you!! Have a super birthday!!

Grandma Hein and Bobscan0033_editedMost people think of Ground Hog’s Day on February 2nd, but in our family, it is more than that. Today is Bob’s grandmother’s birthday. She would have been 104 years old, if she were still alive. She always liked the idea of being born on Ground Hog’s Day, and I think most people born on a holiday do feel like that is a special thing. For Grandma, finding out if Spring was coming early this year, and turning another year older were part of the same thought…almost like getting one more present. Everyone feels like their own birthday is the most special day of the year. I know I have always loved my day. I like the name of the month, the day of the month, and even the year I was born, but to the world, there is nothing special about my birthday, because I was not born on a holiday. To the world it is just another day, but when you are born on a holiday, it’s almost like everyone acknowledges it…or at the very least remembers it, like all of us have done with Grandma’s birthday.

This year, Grandma would have received the happy news that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, so Spring will come early. That would have been happy news to Grandma, who as I recall, didn’t care for Winter any more than I do. Grandma was always such a happy person, and I can just see a little spring in her step, and maybe a little brighter smile, at the though of the coming Spring. She always had a garden, and loved to be out there in the sunshine picking vegetables for canning. Of course, that was in the Summer, but Spring is for planting, and anticipating the coming harvest, which is what Grandma was most likely thinking about.

I wish we would have been able to see Grandma more through the Five generationsscan0017years, but she lived in Montana, and we live in Wyoming. Not too far for our yearly visit, but too far for visits that came much more often, and a visit on her birthday was difficult to plan because of the weather concerns. Still, she knew we loved her and wanted to come, because we did so almost every year from the time Bob and I married to her passing. I miss those visits to Grandma’s house, and the peaceful days that those visits meant. It was a special time in our lives, and a time I will never forget. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma!! We love and miss you very much.

Marion Chester LearyBob’s great grandfather was a single dad for much of his children’s young lives. He worked on the Northern Pacific Railroad as a yard clerk. It was a time in their lives when everyone had to pitch in. The kids, Bob’s grandmother, Vina, and her brother, Kirby had to get things done around the house, because their dad worked long hours at work. Those were different times. Kids at home doing their chores were much safer than they were in this day and age. The two of them knew that they needed to get the house cleaned and supper on the table by the time their dad got home…not because they were afraid of him…because they knew how tired he would be. Grandma spoke so highly of her dad, that I know she felt nothing but love and respect for him.

His occupation was a hard one, but it had its perks too. When his vacation time came around, their travel plans often included a train ride to somewhere. I can imagine how much fun that must have been. Not many kids in those days got to do a lot of traveling, and unless your dad worked on the railroad, or you had a lot of money, you probably didn’t get to ride on a train much either. I don’t know where all they got to go, but since I like riding trains myself, I can totally picture how excited they must have been every time they set out on a new adventure. I can imagine trips back east to visit family members who might have lived back there, or down south, maybe to see the Gulf of Mexico. So many places they might have gone…so many things they might have seen.

I have ridden a train for short distances, but never on a long trip. I can tell you that it is an exciting ride, and one I never get tired of, so I expect that Grandma and Kirby were thrilled every time they got on board. I think it would be so exciting to eat and sleep on the train…especially as young children, who already see life as one big adventure.

I wish I had been able to meet Great Grandpa Leary, but he was gone six years before I was born, and of course, years before I became a part of the family by marrying Bob, and so much too late to meet this man whose daughter always spoke so highly of him. I think he must have been quite a guy.