Monthly Archives: April 2013
Little boys have always had the same problem…bossy big sisters, aunts, cousins, babysitters…girls. It isn’t that girls like to be bossy so much. It’s that it is part of their nature. Men are programmed to go out and support the family. They don’t get as emotionally involved with the children. I don’t mean to say they don’t love them very much, because they do, but the day to day discipline, training, nurturing…bossing, they have more of a tendency to leave to the women, and that’s ok, because women are geared to that nurturing training, discipline…bossing part of a child’s life. Women have a tendency to be bossy by nature…which for little boys can create a problem.
Little boys expect their mom to tell them what to do, but those pesky sisters are a different story. Who do they think they are anyway? They aren’t the boss, so why is it that they are always making a guy do stuff that he doesn’t want to do? I mean, boys have better things to do than stand still posing for a silly picture. Boys have better things to do than stay clean for school, or some other equally as unimportant event. Boys have things to do, and it just never fails that just when they are all set to go have fun, here comes their older sister again…making them pose for a picture, or sit still when they have things to do. Why can’t they just mind their own business.
In their defense, it isn’t really a girl’s fault either. Their mom and dad always put them in charge. When they go outside to play, they are told, “Keep an eye on your brother.” When the family goes someplace, they are told, “Hold your little brother’s hand.” And then when they are old enough, they become the built-in babysitter. They are always held responsible for what their little brother does…like they can make them mind. Eventually, they learn to do just that. They become the boss that they will eventually need to be for their own children. They become just like their mom.
It’s all part of the growing up process, for both the little boy, and his big sister, cousin, aunt, or babysitter. It doesn’t mean that it’s anything personal. It’s just that if she can make her little brother or charge do what needs to get done, she can go back to doing what she wants to do. Being in charge of her little brother really isn’t all that fun, it’s a job…like any other job. The sooner she can get that job done, the better. So she does what she has to do. She becomes bossy. And after a while, she finds that being the boss isn’t so bad. You can assign tasks for the younger kids, and get out of some of that work. This could work! “Get over here little brother. Now, stand still, and smile…like you mean it!” Yep, being the boss is ok. Maybe it feels natural. Hmmm, maybe she is bossy by nature.
My cousin’s daughter, Kristin has always been an amazing girl. Her parents, Bill and Maureen have kept us up to date on her activities through the years…mostly by pictures and letters, since they live in Wisconsin, and we are in Wyoming. Kristin has always seemed like the shy type, but that is mostly because knowing someone in letters and pictures isn’t quite the same as knowing them in person, and when you come and visit, and you are a kid, it’s hard to find things to talk about. Nevertheless, Kristin was very sweet, and we all enjoyed the visiting with her, when she and her family brought her grandpa, my Uncle Bill out for a visit in 2007. It was very nice to get to know both Kristin and our cousin, Cody, who is my cousin, Jimmy’s son, and we are so glad they all made that trip so that Uncle Bill and his brother, my dad could see each other one last time.
As I said, we had kept track of Kristin and her activities mostly through letters and pictures, but now that she is on Facebook, I expect that we will get to know her even better. Kristin has been in Karate since she was just a small child, and at this still young age, she is a black belt, so while she is not physically real big, she definitely carries a big stick, so anyone who gets in her way, might want to keep that in mind. Of course, like most kids who have taken Karate, her abilities would never be used to bully others, but only as protection for herself or for others. I have never had the pleasure of watching her compete, but I can imagine how great she must be since she is a black belt.
Now that Kristin is in middle school, she has begun to branch out into some new interests, one of which is drama. No, I don’t mean the kind that involves screaming insanely, but rather the kind that involves being in plays. Her drama group just finished performing “Once Upon A Mattress” and from what I’m told, the play went very well. I have never seen her act, but with Kristin’s ability to excel in all she does, I can imagine that she is an excellent actress.
Kristin has grown so quickly from the shy little girl who came to visit us in 2007, into a beautiful young lady who I am proud to call my cousin. I know that she will go on to make her parents and the rest of her family very proud. Today is Kristin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kristin!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
Since the snow began in Casper, on April 8, 2013, we have had around 32 inches of snow, which, of course, varies depending on where you are in town. Since the storms took place over a number of days, some of it melted in between storms. Now if you happen to live on the mountain…like my friend Becky and her husband, Darren, your world looks…just a bit different than the rest of town. According to Becky, they have had between 48 and 54 inches…maybe more, since the wind has been blowing it around up there.
All the kids in town expected to have a snow day with the first storm, so when morning arrived, along with what most of us assumed was enough snow to call school off, and school was still on, the kids were justifiably annoyed. The comments on Facebook flew back and forth expressing their irritation. At that point, I mentioned to my grandkids that they should have watched the movie, “Snow Day” because it would explain to them, the best way to arrange a Snow Day. Well, I don’t think they took my advise, but it would seem that they found a way to get that Snow Day after all…and it didn’t involve hijacking a snow plow.
April, 2013, has decided to be like the Spring storms I remember as a kid. We used to get the kind of snow that meant that cars didn’t get around in it. People who really needed to get out had to use a snowmobile. This April storm was going to rival those storms, and the second round of the April, 2013 storm hit close enough to the first round that the snow hadn’t completely melted. That created enough problems with the roads to bring the words that every school aged child wants to hear…Snow Day. Then begins the reality of the Snow Day, because while the weather is too rough to go to school, for some reason, it is not so bad that the kids…and any parents who were able to get the snow day too…can’t get out there and play. Other kids, like my grandson, Caalab found themselves literally waist deep in drifts of snow with a shovel at not only their house, but those of the neighbors, as well.
At that point, the best mode of transportation became the sled powered by kids. After all what is a Snow Day for if not to get out a play in the snow. Suddenly kids who normally had to be pryed out of bed, jumped out of bed and could hardly wait until breakfast was over, so they couyld get out in the snow. Of course, there are adults, like Darren, who probably felt a little bit differently about the type of play they had, and who had to use a much stronger mode of transportation…the truck with a plow. Digging out of the ton of snow on the mountain, is a lot of work, but then I suppose that the chocolate chip cherry cookies Becky made today, would help to motivate Darren in his work.
I have never really been around birds much. I do like birds and love to watch them flying. They fascinate me. The way they can float on the air on windy days. The way they chase each other around the sky. The different types and sizes. Still, I don’t have birds, and never have, and if they flew toward me, I would duck instinctively. I know, it makes no sense, but that is the way it is. I am pretty much the same way with butterflies. I don’t like having things flying at me. It freaks me out.
So you might ask how I managed to sit still for a picture with a parrot on my shoulder. Well, it was actually easier than you might think. One day, a client of ours walked into the office with a parrot on her shoulder. We were very surprised, as that is not something you see every day. Even a good bird, has a tendency to fly away if she is let outside, with or without her owner. It is simply instinct. We talked with her for a few minutes about how she managed to keep her parrot sitting on her shoulder like that, even though we knew it was simply real good training.
The bird was so beautiful, and so colorful, that in the picture you might even wonder if she is real, but I assure you that she is. Her feathers shone so brightly that they almost looked plastic, which is, I’m quite sure, the reason she doesn’t look real. And she was so well behaved. So many birds are fine with their owner, and then when they are around other people they get really nervous and skittish, but not her bird. She let us pet her and really seemed to relish it.
Then, she asked if we wanted to have her sit on our shoulders, and…well, you just didn’t have to ask me twice. I was very excited. The parrot, posed prettily for the picture, and then sat there totally content on my shoulder for a few minutes. I’m told that she loved to play with wet hair, but my hair was dry, and while she fiddled with it a little, she didn’t get as involved as she did with her owner, but again, I’m sure that’s normal. After a few minutes, they had to head out to finish their errands, and they were gone. We talked for a while about how amazing that was, and then went about our day too, but the memory of the parrot on my shoulder has stayed with me for many years now.
Being far away from family, is only one of the many hardships of being in the service. It is strange to think of feeling lonely with so many people around you all the time, but that is just how a soldier feels…probably more than they will ever admit. It doesn’t matter if they are married or single. There are always family members that they miss. We would have a hard time understanding their feelings, even if they are our own family member, because we are not all alone in a foreign country, with enemy fire all around us, wondering if we are ever going to get to go home to our life again, and they are.
A lot of times, these men are on long shifts that seem to never end, and in war situations, their bed can be a hill of dirt, sleeping among the bugs, with one eye open, and carefully listening for the sound of guns or explosives, or more importantly, footsteps. It doesn’t make for an ideal sleeping situation. Yes, they are afraid. Bravery has nothing to do with the lack of fear. Bravery is standing your ground, in spite of the fear. That kind of situation takes its toll on the men and women who find themselves in it, and the need for occasional breaks is vital. Unfortunately, trips home are not aways possible, so when they can they explore the area they find themselves in. Many times, these men will not come this way again, so it can be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Sometimes the area they are stationed is of great interest to them, as it was to my dad. A big part of his ancestry has its roots in England, so being stationed in Great Ashfield, in Suffolk, England, he had the rare opportunity to see where his family came from. I don’t know how much he was able to see of it, but to me, just knowing that my feet might have walked in some of the same places as so many of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, would be awe inspiring.
When we think of our soldiers, we get a picture of a man in camouflage, holding a gun, and taking cover behind whatever shelter they can find. We see them as fearless, brave and courageous. We never picture the man behind that facade. The man with hopes and dreams for the future. The man with loved ones who are constantly on their minds. The man who wants to do his duty, because he knows it is necessary, but beyond that, he just wants to go back home to his family…to kiss his wife and kids, or marry and have a family to love, and to return to his parents and family, who can’t help but jump every time there is a knock on the door…praying that it isn’t men in uniform, who are there to tell them that they have lost something of great value to them…son, daughter, husband, or wife. He just wants to make it home.
There is so much heaviness on the hearts of these men, and no way to change what is. It brings a great need for some down time. You can’t continue on, and do a good job, without it the ability to set aside the stress and fear of combat, for a just little bit of fun to take your mind off of it. So, the men and women, our soldiers, look to the countryside that they find themselves in, hoping to find a smile or two, and something to smile about. They do the fun things they can find so that after a time of rest and relaxation, they can go back and do their duty once again.
Bob and I went out to the nursing home to visit his mother on Saturday, and very uncharacteristic of her, since she got Alzheimer’s Disease anyway, she was very talkative. She was telling us about her day…at least as she remembered it. Her story moved from one scenario to another, making little sense, unless you knew some of the characters, and the places she was talking about. The other problem with her story was that it spanned at least 6 decades, and they were all intermingled. Probably the most disconcerting part of the story, however, was the fact that she was talking about Bob and me, almost like we weren’t there, and yet at other moments, she talked to us, knowing who we were. It was very strange to feel the need to speak of myself, as someone else, so it didn’t confuse her. It was also strange to shift gears, when she asked me what I was making everyone for the dinner she had decided I was cooking.
I’m sure a lot of people would have been a little bit freaked out by this strange visit, but with Alzheimer’s Disease, that is somewhat normal. The main reason it isn’t very normal, is that many Alzheimer’s patients, including my mother-in-law, don’t usually talk so much. It was quite an interesting conversation, really. She mentioned several family members, including Bob and me, our daughters, Corrie and Amy, and two of my grandsons, Chris and Josh. She also mentioned my brother-in-law, Ron, and my nephew, Barry as well as my sister-in-law, Jennifer. Then she mentioned the names Adolph, Brady, and Cody…names that made no sense to me, and two of which will most likely always be a mystery. Adolph and his wife Loretta, apparently were good friends of my in-laws, a long time ago.
It was very strange to know that she knew who we were, and yet also had a picture in her memory of what we looked like 30 years ago. The two pictures seemed like two different people in her mind, so it made perfect sense that she would be talking to us and about us at the same time. I suppose many people would find that sad, and think of Alzheimer’s disease as a horrible thief, and to a degree, they would be right, but so much of this disease…if looked at with the right mindset…can be found humorous. Yes, she makes up her stories, but they are about things in her past. Yes, she doesn’t always know us. But there is a lot to be learned there too. I never knew about their friends, Adolph and Loretta, but maybe someday she will tell me a little bit more about them…perhaps, in another story session.
Baby faces are so cute, and funny, and amazing, but have you ever stopped to wonder what is really on their minds. When babies stare off into space…like we all do from time to time, I have to wonder just what thoughts they are thinking. We have lived so many years, compared to their short time here, so what deep thoughts could they have when their mind drifts. Are they thinking of their next meal, or maybe just their binky or bottle. That was most likely the case with Bob. I don’t think a hungrier child ever existed. He was always ready to eat, and if he wasn’t eating, my guess is that he was thinking about eating.
With Aleesia, who loves to have her picture taken, and is very quick to smile, my guess would be that her thoughts would have to do with the best shot to add to her portfolio. It’s not a matter of being a model or anything, although this little girl could sure do it with her smiles. It’s just that this baby loves to ham it up for pictures. The camera comes up, and she starts to pose for the picture. It might be that she is used to having her picture taken, since her mom takes new pictures all the time. So…what would Aleesia be thinking in this shot…oh, maybe something like “should I say cheese?”
Aurora, seems to be a deep thinker. I notice that in her a lot. Maybe, it is because I have that same tendency. A deep thinker, might be thinking…”Mom said no. So, how can I get another cookie anyway?” Or she might just be thinking something like, “I am sooooo mad at you right now!” Even as she thinks that, she is trying not to let you know what she is really thinking. Sometimes that is a good idea. I mean you don’t really want to let your mom know how upset you are with her. That can cause some real problems when it comes time to sweet talk her into giving you what you want next.
Then we come to Reagan, who has had her fair share of cute little suitors. It helps when your parents have friends who have boy babies your age. Nevertheless, sometimes moms can get carried away in setting their daughters up with boyfriends. They always seem to have their own idea of who you should be dating. Typical of moms!! And sometimes a girl has to put her foot down. It makes no difference whether or not you like the guy, it is simply a matter of having your mom set up your dates. How rude!! Still, I think Reagan has the situation well in hand here, when she says with her eyes, “Seriously Mom, quit setting me up with dates!!”
Years ago, when most women didn’t hold down a job outside the home, because we were considered too delicate, and maybe not quite smart enough, for such things, women were raised to keep the house for their husbands. Of course, no one gave much thought to the fact that one of the hardest jobs in existance then or now, is being a mother and homemaker. If a man had to do that job, and many have over the years, they would tell you that they prefer a job out in the world any day. Nevertheless, back in the day when few women worked outside the home, everyone seemed to think that women spent most of their time having afternoon tea and socializing with their friends. And to a degree, maybe they did. Taking a break from our daily work is not uncommon, and is even necessary, if we are to be able to do our work well, and be willing to come back to it the next day and do it all again. Thus the need for a Girls Day Out, or as is often the case these days, Girls Night Out.
Of course, years ago, women seldom went out in the evening, unaccompanied by a man anyway. It was considered unsafe. I find that a bit odd, considering that it seems to be far more unsafe for women to be out, especially alone, these days than it did in the old west, or even back in the 50’s and 60’s. Of course, maybe things didn’t happen to women as much back then, because they usually had a man with them. I’m sure that we could debate that for some time, if we chose to, but on the lighter side…girls day or night out has been something women have looked forward to through the ages. It was a break from their daily work…a time to cut loose and have some fun.
Much has changed over the years. I heard it said somewhere, in reference to that Knight in Shining Armor riding a White Horse that women are always thought to be looking for, “That knight in shining armor is still out there, but these days he is riding a white Honda Civic, and he needs you to help him make the payments.” Most women work outside the home these days, not that the ones who stay home don’t have their hands full. It still doesn’t matter what your job is, everyone needs a break, and these days, the trend is toward Girls Night Out. After all, the men have had Boys Night for years, and somehow nobody ever thought that was so wrong…right? Sometimes, it is nice to leave the kids home with their daddy, and just spend a little time doing the things you can only do with your girlfriends. Cheers, girls!!
My sister-in-law, Jennifer is the mother of three boys, and no girls. That was quite a surprise at the time, because all the other grandchildren were girls. Then, out of the blue…so to speak…came Jennifer’s three boys. Jennifer would like to have had a daughter, but that was simply not to be, and she got used to the ways of boys, which I’m sure was a bit of a stretch, because Jennifer has always been more of a girly girl. She loves playing the piano and always struck me as definitely not tomboyish. She does love hiking, skiing, and running, but so do many other girls. She had two brothers, but raising boys is just not the same. I can imagine that those boys really kept her on her toes, and since I had two girls, and no boys until my grandsons came along, I can say that boys are very different than girls…in everything from energy to teasing to attention span. They don’t like to sit around quietly and read a book, like a girl might…they have trucks to play with, and simply can’t be bothered with such nonsense.
Six months ago, Jennifer’s life changed drastically, she she became a grandma for the first time…to a granddaughter!! Who would have thought that Jennifer would have a granddaughter!! I wouldn’t have bet on that in a million years, and I would be surprised if she got more than one, but then, stranger things have happened.
Being an OB nurse, Jennifer’s work life revolves around babies, and she is our go to person when it comes to having babies. Before my girls went to the hospital, we called their Aunt Jennifer. It was comforting to know that we had an expert in the family, and she would go with us, even if she was not on duty. She loves babies so much, that I can imagine that her little granddaughter, Reagan Kaylynn will be well loved, and maybe just a little spoiled…no, never spoiled, I’m sure. Like there was ever a grandma that didn’t spoil those grandbabies. I figure that before she can hardly walk, Jennifer will have little miss Reagan out skiing or hiking or something like that…if she can get her off of the horses that live at her other grandma’s house, that is. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Jennifer, I hope you have a wonderful day doing all the things you most love to do. Happy birthday!! We love you!!
A while back, my daughter, Amy saw a picture of four hands forming a square. They were four generations of a family and that struck her as very special. So the next time we were all together, we took the pictures that were like those she had seen. We were very pleased with how the pictures looked. It was a very different way to do generational pictures.
I started thinking about what those hands represent. They represent the past, present, and future of our family. Yes, you could say that my mother’s hand is the past, but then so is mine, Amy’s and even Shai’s. Parts of our lives are in the past and part of our lives are in the present, and yes, parts of our lives are in the future. Within those hands is the hope of the future and the wisdom of the past. Our mistakes are now living in the past, and the future is what we will make of it. The choice is really ours.
Those hand have done so many different things. They have cuddled new life and changed diapers, shaping the future with their loving touch. They have been the disciplinarian of young lives, teaching responsibility and respect for others. They have played and worked…held books and babies. Everything we do, in some way includes our hands. They have shaped what we are. Some hands are calloused…the hands of a manual laborer. Some are soft, possibly the hands of an office worker. Some are dry from too much soap and water, possibly the hands of a nurse or caregiver. Some hands are permanently stained with oil or paint, while some are soft and manicured. It all depends on what things are going on in their lives.
So much can be seen in our hands, whether it is physically seen, or simply seen because you know the person. Our hands are so expressive of who we are, and when you look at four generations of hands, you can see all the differences that you know exist between the hand’s owners. It was such a good idea to take the picture, because it will always be a reminder of the past, present and future of who we were, are and will be.