Monthly Archives: July 2013

Bob, Jennifer, and baby cowThese days when the fair comes to town, many people think of the rodeo and the petting zoo, but years ago petting zoos didn’t exist. I suppose that might have been because so many people raised their own animals that they didn’t need to go out somewhere to see the farm animals…or at least, many of them didn’t. With the urbanizing of our country, more and more, people don’t get to be around farm animals as much in their everyday lives. I guess that has made us a little nostalgic is some ways. We keep trying to connect to the past in many ways.

I think most little kids these days have been to a petting zoo, but years ago, the petting zoo was out at the barn after the calving was over, and your admission fee was cleaning out that barn. It just didn’t have quite the same effect on a kid, whether they really liked animals or not. Taking care of animals is a messy job, as any rancher or 4-H student can tell you, and not one you usually associate with little girls. Nevertheless, little girls do like babies, and baby cows are very cute.

Personally, I think I would rather go to the petting zoo. We have raised a cow or two in our time living out in the country, and while the baby is cute when you get it, they are messy, and a lot of work. They grow from babyhood very quickly and then they aren’t so cute. They want their grain and they are willing to rush you to get it. Having a cow…sweet as they can be, step on your foot, or accidently kick you while trying to get to that food or Aunt Laura with a baby calfgrain really hurts. Oh, they don’t mean anything by it, but it was not a job I was willing to allow my girls to do,

And the saddest part about raising a cow…the main reason I would rather go to the petting zoo is that once they are grown…they must be butchered. They had been like a pet to us. We had even named them, and then we were expected to eat the meat. It truly got to the point where I could hardly stand to eat it. It’s not that I don’t like beef, because I do. It’s just that I don’t want to know my dinner by name!! No, I’ll buy my beef at the store, and go to a petting zoo, if I really feel the need to get next to nature in that way.

Thanksgiving DinnerTimes have changed as far as what is considered the normal family dinner, but whatever your family does, this is a daily trsdition. Some families opt for the sit down family style dinner, where everyone is at the table, and you eat together. As a kid and still sometimes, such as lunch at my mom’s house, this was how we ate. The meal was prepared and when it was ready, we all came to the table, prayed over our food, and ate together. We always had good conversation, and an ocassional debate between my dad and me, and when everyone was finished eating, we gave thanks for the meal, and left the table to begin the clean up. It was a dinner tradition that has largely become a thing of the past for most families, including my own for the most part. It is mostly because people don’t have time enough to sit for an hour or more to eat and talk about their day…a sad fact that has come about because of our hectic lifestyles.

As families grow, sometimes they simply outgrow the table, or at least they do if friends and family come over for holiday dinners and such. At this time you have to be a little bit Aunt Dixie, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Bonnie_editedinnovative in order to make things go smoothly at dinnertime. It was at this point that many families adopted the idea of the kid’s table. The kid’s table is just what it sounds like. It is usually a coffee table or other small, and usually too low for the adults to possibly be comfortable, table that the kids can adapt to easily. The cool thing is that, for a little while anyway…until the kids decide that they don’t really want to be considered the kids anymore, and they want to be at the adults table, this set up allows the adults to talk easily, and without all the noise that always resides at the kid’s table. It can, however,  be a big problem, when the kids want to move up, because they can’t really add to the conversation in exactly the way they thought, so it just creates problems. Sometimes…if you ask me, the kids don’t know how cool it is to be at the kid’s table. Some even opt to go back there…shock!!

Of course, as many of us know, sometimes it is almost impossible to have any kind of a sit down dinner at all. The kids are rushing out to work and dates, and there is always some game or show on television. For many people, they have to get to the gym, or in our case, our on the trail for a walk…after visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home, of course. Collene on Thanksgivig_editedThere is just so much to do and so little time. For Bob and me, that often means eating separately, and on the run. Since he gets off earlier than I do, he has already eaten, so we can rush to the nursing home and back in time to walk. I might have a sandwich in the car on the way to the nursing home, I know it’s odd, but it works for us these days. And on the opposite side of that coin, is the kid who gets off work after dinner is already over. There is just no choice but to check out the table to see what might be left over, in the hope that they don’t have to make something for themselves. The traditional family dinner is probably a thing of the past for most of us, and has been replaced by a new tradition…whatever works for your family.

Caryn, Caryl, and CherylMost kids, at some point in the summer vacation, get bored, or hot, or motivated, or something, and they begin to look for new things to do. As little kids, the choice that most often seems to come up is ways to make some money. Enter the Lemonade Stand. You don’t see as many of these as you might have during the years when I was growing up, but every so often, I still see them. My sisters and I were no exception to that rule. Of course, the big motivation to make money was usually so we could walk over to the Ben Franklin Store that Casper had at that time, to buy candy. I think very few kids have ideas that were much different than ours…I mean kids were going to sock that money away for college, right.
Alena and Allyn
It’s funny how motivated kids can be when it come to esrning money to spend on things for themselves, but when it comes to school work, or something like that…forget it. You will have to force them to do that. I guess we all have things that motivate us, and when you are a kid…well you are motivated by kid things. Planning for the future was just not what you had in mind, not that it would help if we did put lemonade money in the bank. I mean, at 5 cents a glass, we might have made a dollar or so, and boy, did you work hard for that dollar. I guess it was a good thing that we still had penny candy and penny gumball machines.
Lemonade Stand
I remember how much fun we had, selling lemonade to anyone who drove by on those hot summer days. We could sell to just about anyone who drove by, because things were different back then. We didn’t even need a parent hanging there with you, to keep you safe. These days you wouldn’t dare leave your kids there alone to sell lemonade. They would be gone when you came back. We lived in a different time. A safer time. We had the run of the block back then, and selling lemonade on the corner was just one of the many fun things we did, things we really enjoyed… like running a lemonade stand.

My parents on their wedding daySixty years ago today, my dad married my mom. If Dad was alive today, we would be planning on a party to celebrate the event. It makes me sad that they didn’t get to reach their 60th anniversary together. I remember that just 10 short years ago, we were celebrating their 50th anniversary, and soon after they left on the Alaskan cruise that we gave them. It was the trip of a lifetime for them, and one they never forgot. It made us all feel really good…to know that they had such a wonderful time. I am so glad we gave them that trip. They had always wanted to go, and now, looking back, and knowing that just 4 short years later, Dad would be gone, it was like a last chance that we didn’t know about.

Mom & Dad - Alaskan Cruise on StairsWe spoke to them several times during their trip. It’s funny that two people who weren’t sure that they wanted to go on a cruise without making it a family trip, were the same two people who didn’t want that trip to end. I can understand that. Although they would have had an amazing time on the trip if we all could have gone along, they nevertheless had a love of travel, and found the places they saw to be exciting and fun. Their natural curiosity would have quickly removed any disappointment at going on the trip alone. They were like a couple of kids on a very cool field trip. When I asked them, as their trip was nearing its end, if they were ready for it to be over, they told me, “No.” I knew they would feel that way from my own experience following our 25th anniversary cruise.
Mom & Dad Alaskan Cruise (formal)
My sisters and I have always felt very honored to have the parents that God gave to us. We were raised in a stable, Christian home filled with lots of love and the very best values. We were taught teamwork and mutual respect. We were taught to forgive and to set aside anger, for the greater gift of love. I couldn’t have asked to be a part of a better, more loving family, or to have better parents. Today is my parents 60th anniversary. Though Dad is in Heaven, Mom has never married another man. Theirs was a once in a lifetime kind of love that would last forever. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!! We love you both so very much!!

Corrie and Kevin Petersen prom 1991Twenty years ago today, my  family grew by one, when my daughter, Corrie married the love of her life, my son-in-law, Kevin. They seemed so young. While Kevin was 21 years old, Corrie was just 17 days past her 18th birthday. They were so young. Bob and I had married young as well, but it just seemed like a different thing when it came to my baby girl…but it wasn’t, of course. Sometimes people are grown up at a seemingly young age. That was another thing that was a little hard to accept…that these kids were grown up. They had been dating each other for 3 years by the time they were married. I had never believed in love at first sight, but there is no other explanation. Those two kids saw each other, and they were in love.

The years would bring many things…some happy and some sad, but they have weathered all the things that life threw at them and have come out on top. They have only grown stronger and more in love along the way. They have raised two wonderful sons, who are very good boys, and who continue to make them and us very proud. The years have definitely brought far more happy times than sad ones, and for that I am grateful. I could never have dreamed of a Corrie and Kevin Petersen Wedding Day July 17, 1993better life for my daughter.

Today, as I look back on their lives, it’s amazing to think that it has been twenty years of marriage for them. How can they possibly have been married for twenty years? They should still be kids themselves, and yet they are the parents of teenagers…Chris is 17 and Josh is 14. These kids of mine will soon be moving into the next phase of their lives…married kids and grandparenthood…not just yet, of course, but it’s just around the corner for them. Life moves so quickly that we hardly have time to notice the changes, until they are right there in front of us. Corrie and Kevin are facing Chris’ graduation and Josh’s driving days both within the next year. Their lives are going to change in the same ways ours did. While their boys will seem like little kids to them, they will soon find out that maybe the best is yet to be. The future holds many wonderful things for Corrie and Kevin, and I am so happy that they will share in those wonderful days. Happy 20th Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you both very much!! Have a wonderful day!!

Allen Spencer as a boyFor some time now, my niece, Jenny has thought that her son, Isaac looks like his great grandpa, my Dad. Whenever she, or anyone else says that, I look at him, and I can kind of see it, but I wasn’t sure. For me, it can take a while to see those similarities…mostly I suppose because the similarity is often from a specific age of the proposed look alike, but once you see what the other person saw the looked so similar, there is just no doubt.

It is often easier to see the similarities when you are talking about a father/son or even grandparent/grandchild, but a great grandparent/great grandchild and beyond is often a little more difficult to see…at lease for a number of years, in most cases. One of the things I see about Isaac is that he is quick to smile, like my Dad was. I think they might share more that physical looks. They might have a very similar sense of humor. I do know that Isaac gets the same little look on his face when he is about to pull something on someone that I have seen on my dad’s face…it’s one of those funny little looks that tells you immediately that you are about to get picked on…if you are quick enough to notice it.
Isaac Gpa Spencer look alike
There are other similarities between Isaac and my dad too, of course. They had the same nose, smile, chin, and especially eyes, of a deep amazing blue color, and of course, the twinkle. I look forward to watching Issac grow up, to see how much he looks like my dad at ages older than what they were in these pictures. I think that as he gets older, we will see so many ways that he is like Dad. Often, when someone is so similar to another person, those similarities carry into other areas of their lives. I think Issac could do no better than to be like his great grandpa. He would be an amazing man, if he was like my dad.

Modern HeadbandFor centuries moms have been trying to find new ways to add bling to their daughters look. Maybe it wasn’t always called bling, but moms of daughters know that if you don’t add bling, everyone thinks you had a son…and there is nothing worse than having people think that your little princess is being mistaken for a prince. It’s really never to early to add bling to your little girl’s look, and the options are endless, but there have been some things that have evolved over the years. One of them is the headband…or bow, as it probably started out to be.

When my girls were babies, they didn’t make headbands for babies. I was told to use corn syrup to hold a little bow on their heads so they looked like girls…not that corn syrup worked, but I gave it a try. I decided to put bonnets on my Hair Bowgirls, because I couldn’t make anything work to keep a bow on their head, until they finally had enough hair to use a teeny rubber band and whatever ribbon was handy…gift wrap worked quite well. Needless to say, they wore bonnets for a long time.

Headbands have changed a lot over the years, and the modern baby headband is probably the most stylish of them all. These days baby girls can wear anything from bows, to flowers, to their parents team colors, but in the twenties, headbands looked a little bit like the sweatband that people used to wear a lot to control sweat on the forehead during workouts. I’m sure the people living in the twenties thought they were very stylish, but to me they looked a bit like a devise used for carrying baskets of food from the market in some of the Middle East countries. The band often has big bows on the sides, and it makes the little girl’s head look huge…but that’s just my opinion.
Twenties Headbands
There is nothing new about headbands and other bling, except the name. I remember putting nail polish on my kids and granddaughter’s nails at a very young age. They loved it. It made them feel pretty, and as all women know, that is the name of the game. I don’t think it is even as important to look pretty to others, as much as it is to feel pretty to ourselves. When you wake up, and nothing works with your look, it makes you feel…well, blah!!! It is a completely unacceptable feeling, and when you add a little bling, it just improves the whole look. And it doesn’t matter if you are 1 month or 80 years old. Girls…very simply…like bling!!

Bronzed Baby ShoesThe bronzed baby shoes had been on the shelf in my in-laws’ home for many years. They had grown dusty sitting there for so long on the back of the shelf…neglected, as most such trinkets become over the years. Now as we cleared out the contents of the home in preparation for sale after the passing of my father-in-law and my mother-in-law’s move to a nursing home, the shoes came to my attention again. I had always loved the idea of bronzing baby shoes, but never managed to get it done for my own babies…just too busy living life, I guess. Baby shoe bronzing had been a fad at the time when my sisters and I were little, but not much is said about it these days, although you can still get it done.

To my surprise, the shoes had not been chosen as a treasure by anyone else in the family, so they found their way into my home for safe keeping. I’m a bit of a nostalgic, you see…or maybe, more than just a little bit. The things I find to be of value in an estate, are the momentos and photographs…the reminders of the past, and therefore, our connection to it. The bronzed shoes belonged to my late sister-in-law, Marlyce, who passed away in 1989 at the far to young age of 39 years, 1 month, and 5 days.

Marlyce was developmentally disabled, but that was something those of us who knew her seldom noticed. She was a sweet, loving person, who smiled her way into my heart the first time I met her, and never has left in all the 39 years that I have known this family. Her Amy with Marlycepassing was a sad time in all our lives. Gone, were her delicious chocolate chip cookies, which no one could really match. Gone, were the stocking caps she used to knit. Gone, was her smiling face, her love of babies, and her pride at being an aunt.

All that was left of those 39 years was a little pair of bronzed baby shoes. They seemed such a little thing, and yet the steps they represented far overflowed their tiny size. I could see her first little baby steps…her school days…her work…her hobbies…her love of family, especially babies. So many accomplishments. The accomplishments of a lifetime…short as it may have been.

Smile for the CameraFive GenerationsThroughout all the years that I knew Bob’s grandpa on his mother’s side, we all knew with certainty that he hated having his picture taken. So much so, that he would look away, or glare at the camera. We all just knew that any picture he was in would have him looking angerly away, and that made us sad sometimes, but there was nothing we could do to change things. I often wondered why he wouldn’t just cooperate, but we all assumed that he simply hated having his picture taken…badly enough to practically throw a fit about it. It got to the point where it was easier to leave him out or to let him be grouchy about it.

As I was going through some of the old pictures from my in-laws’ house, I came across a few pictures here and there, that were a little different. The grouchy look was gone, and he was looking at the camera. I began to wonder about something else…like what could have happened to make him hate having his picture taken. He wasn’t always that way. The pictures proved that. Life can change people sometimes. Sadness can take away their smiles, and every life has some sadness in it, but I couldn’t think of a deep sadness that had happened to him since these pictures were taken. So what could it be? What could have stolen his smiles, and turned him into someone who didn’t want his picture taken?

Since Grandpa died in 1985, I suppose that we will never know. It saddens me that he died with some deep dark sadness still living inside him. It saddens me that we never got to see the other side of him…the side of him that had smiles and laughter in it, because I She's my MomGrandpa's baby boythink that side would have been very nice to know. I wonder why he locked that part of himself away? No, I guess we will never know what happened to Grandpa to make him that way. But, after looking at the pictures of his smiling face, looking directly at the camera, holding my brother-in-law, Ron when he was a baby and his smiling face  looking lovingly at his mother, I will always know that there was a time when things were very different.

Real CowboysWe have all watched old Western shows, and the cowboys always seem to look very romantic…at least for the period of history they lived in, but the reality was not exactly like that.  Now, I can’t say for sure that none of the cowboys of that day looked like that, but the majority of those men were hard working homesteaders, who lived in an era where there was no running water, and all too often the water they had was needed for crops. The land was hard and dry, and tough to work, because it had never had crops planted in it before. There were rocks to be removed before the land could even be tilled. This was the world our ancestors lived in…if they came out to the wild west, like mine did.

Now don’t get me wrong…they did their best to clean up, when they cleaned up, and they looked real good, but the daily shower that we take for granted, was not possible in those days. Often the same water was used for more than one person, and you had to hope that you weren’t going to be the last one. The cowboys of the old west took a weekly bath and washed their hair every couple of weeks…most of the time…or sometimes anyway. They did not understand hygiene, because no one really knew anything about that then. Off to TownAnd they couldn’t have done much about it if they had, without any running water.

The roads were dirt, the land was dusty, the sun was hot, and the people…well, the people were as clean as they could be under the circumstances, but since the only odor improving items were the perfumes that the women used very sparingly, people just got used to the odors that existed. They were around horses and cows all day, and they had to clean up after those animals. It wasn’t their fault, and there really was nothing that they could have done about it in most cases…it was just the way it really was in the old west, and they were the real cowboys.