Monthly Archives: August 2013

Grandpa Byer and 6 of the kidsWhen I think of my grandparent’s house in North Casper, it always brings a smile to my thoughts. It wasn’t a big house, in many ways, but it did have a big back bedroom where all the kids had slept at one time. With nine children, they needed a fair amount of space for everyone. Nevertheless, the rest of the house really wasn’t that big. When I think of the song, “Little Houses” by Doug Stone, I think of my grandparent’s house. When their kids were young, and all or most of them were still living at home, there was little chance that they could pass each other in the hall without brushing against each other. They had to learn to get along and to work together as a team. There was simply no other way.

Oh, I know there were the typical fights. I came from a family of 5 sisters, so I can attest to that, but there is always a closeness too. It’s about knowing that your siblings will always love you…even if you are annoying sometimes. Let’s face it; you can’t grow up without going through that annoying adolescent stage, so we have all been there. Still, there is something about being crowded into a house that is maybe just a little small for the size of the family that brings a camaraderie that you can’t get when you live in a house that is so big that you almost don’t notice that you have siblings at all.

In big families, the older kids are grown and often married while there are still more children coming into the family, so there really never is a time without the pitter patter of little feet and the giggling of babies. There is just never a dull moment. And for the older kids, there is nothing more exciting that getting a new baby to hold. Sometimes you wonder if that baby will ever learn to walk…because I mean they are always being held, right? Nevertheless, those same siblings who want to hold those babies will also happily teach them the ropes of growing from babyhood to the world of the toddler.Growing Family

Once the siblings have all been born into the family, the nieces and nephews begin to arrive, and there are more babies to hold, teach and babysit. Love is simply everywhere in a little house. I remember going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and as one of those nieces, I remember feeling the love that filled every wall of that old house. Grandma and Grandpa always made us feel like we were their own kids, and the house always felt warm and cozy. Yep…love really does grow best in little houses.

Patty-CakeI love watching babies who have reached the age of playing all the cute little baby games. It is the beginning of their journey to becoming the person they will eventually be. Of course, these baby games are not the one thing in life that determines the kind of person they will be, but rather, just the child moving in the direction of knowing what they like and dislike. And after all, isn’t that a big part of the person we become.

Everyone likes different things, and the same goes for babies. Some babies really have a great time playing patty-cake, while others love to play peek-a-boo. It’s just a matter of the things they find funny or interesting. I think it would be a boring world if we all liked the same things, and I think that goes for babies too. Some babies like to be startled, and will laugh uncontrollably, while others would immediately start crying in that scenario. Some like listening to people make funny noises at them, and others would prefer to be tickled or something to make them laugh. It is simply personal preference, and it starts at a very Peek-A-Booyoung age.

Bob, like to play patty-cake…or maybe it was just about clapping his hands when he thought people liked the things he was doing. No, he doesn’t have to have people clap their hands today, but he does appreciate it when people react to the funny things he does. Bob has a great sense of humor, and he can be quite funny, so I guess he has never lost that, from the time he was a baby.

I can’t say that Christopher still plays peek-a-boo, but he does enjoy a practical joke…like sneaking up on people…and he’s not alone in that either, all my grandsons like that one. What is it about guys, that makes them all like the practical joke thing? And of course, you know that girls and in this case, especially their grandma, are prime targets to startle. Of course, girls apparently make a great target for most types of teasing…again, a guy thing.

Shai liked the girly things more, and was a great thrower of kisses. Not that she didn’t Shai throwing kisseshave a sense of humor too, because he does. She laughs with total delight if she can pull one over on someone. I always like the times when kids learned to throw kisses or to wave bye bye. Often their hand was turned the wrong way, and they were waving at themselves. Of course, that was the only way to make sure you were doing it right…right?

Yes, I love all those baby games, and those changes in the personalities of the babies as they take that journey from babyhood to childhood, and beyond. It is one of the greatest times in the life of a parent or grandparent.

Company + oneHave you ever noticed that whenever company comes over for a visit, or there is some special occasion, like a birthday party; kids just seem to come out of the woodwork. These are the same kids, who don’t want to be stuck in the house on a normal day, but this one is special. There are people in the house that they don’t get to see very often or they are just curious about what is going on, and who is getting what. Before you know it, there are half a dozen kids under foot, and in every picture you might be taking. Oh, they don’t mean to be in the way, or to be a big problem…they’re just curious. Of course, that doesn’t matter to the adults, who sometimes feel annoyance, even though they try to understand.
Allyn, Grandpa Byer, and unknown
Having been one of those kids, I can understand how it feels to be the kid, who just wants to be in on the action. When I was a kid and company came over, it seemed like we were supposed to go play, but we wanted to be in the house with the adults. Oh, it wasn’t always that way. Often, we were allowed to sit and talk to the adults…until we finally got bored with the conversation, which always seemed to be less and less fun as the evening went on. In fact, when I think about it, maybe my parents had figured out a way get us kids to go outside and play. I mean, really, does any kid want to listen to the adults talk for  very long?  No, it’s boring…so we  would  simply find  other things  to occupy  our  time.Christmas is for Kids

Christmas and birthdays are a different matter, however. Once the gift giving starts, you are simply not getting those kids out of the middle of the picture zone. The excitement is too high. They don’t even notice that they are in every shot, and sometimes in front of the shot the photographer was trying to take. All the adults can do at a moment like this is to try real hard to remember what it was like to be a kid. Remember that kids, aren’t trying to be in the way. They aren’t trying to be annoying. They aren’t trying  to  invade  your  space.   They’re  just  curious.

Aunts and UncleEvery year, my mom’s family gets together to have our annual picnic. Sunday marked the last day of summer vacation for the kids, as well as the annual picnic. It became a type of last blast for everyone. It’s always so much fun to see how much all the kids have changed, and to hear all about their lives. I’m amazed that we all live in the same town, but most of us see each other only on Facebook. Of course, I’m thankful for that, because so many of the younger generation would not even know me if it weren’t for Facebook. We have an amazing group of young people in our family, and I really like hearing about their lives. So many of these kids seem like they should still be babies to Autumn, Aunt Sandy, and Johnme, but they are in high school…and beyond. With such busy lives, you have to communicate where and how you can. I feel like my life has been very much enriched by the relationships I have developed with the wonderful young people in our family.

Our family picnics started when grandma and grandpa wanted the kids to keep in touch…a wise idea. Back then, of course, computers, smart phones, and Facebook weren’t readily available. If we had been trying to keep up with each other back then, well…we wouldn’t have done a very good job of it. The family picnic, and the family Christmas party were originally designed to keep the sisters and brothers in touch, and they have done that quite well. It also gives the younger generations, Uncle Wayne and Elmermine included the chance to see how the aunts and uncles are doing. Often we don’t hear very much about them, unless they are sick, or their family is on Facebook, and sometimes not even then, so it’s good to be able to get together for some great conversation and a few good laughs. I sometimes wonder if my aunts and uncles…and my entire family for that matter…really know how very important they are to me, because if they don’t, I want them to know that they are very important to me. We are a family that is blessed to live so close to one another, and yet, we often don’t see each other much. These annual get togethers are a vital part of our continuing close relationships, and I for one, enjoy them very much. I’ll see you all at the Christmas Party.

Mommy, Daddy, and baby AleesiaAleesia Juliette SpethmanWhen my grand niece, Aleesia was born…the rainbow baby of my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve…we all rejoiced over the birth of their second baby girl, and that she was healthy and whole. It has been a remarkable year…a year of blessings, that followed a time of sadness over the loss of their first daughter, Laila, almost two years earlier. While Laila will never be forgotten, the first year of Aleesia’s life has been one of healing…at least to a small degree. Aleesia is everything they could have hoped for in a daughter. She is cute and sweet and full of smiles. She is the pride and joy of her parents and her three brothers.

From the moment she arrived, Aleesia wrapped the hearts of her family around her baby finger. That first little touch was like saying, “Watch out, because I’m going to steal your hearts!” Aleesia is such a sweet baby. She is so easy to please, that there has been no need to spoil her. She is easily entertained by the antics of her brothers, and they love  to make her laugh. She really has her very own entertainment committee. And for their part, the boys just love to find new ways to make their baby sister laugh.

Aleesia is so quick to smile. All it takes is to say her name, and she looks at you and smiles. She is comfortable around her whole family and extended family. She is always ready to pose for the camera, mostly because we are always taking pictures of her, so that now she instinctivly knows what she is supposed to do…and she has mastered the precious smile, as well as the perfect funny face, with all her practice. Life is just exciting for this baby girl. She loves every moment of it, and that makes us all feel very blessed.

Aleesia’s brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, also feel the blessing that this past year has brought. Having a little sister is something they have wanted for a long time. She is so different than they are, but they don’t care. There is very little that the boys won’t do for Aleesia. As this first year comes to a close, however, things are changing. Aleesia has discovered that her brothers have pretty cool toys. Sometimes, she thinks that they are On brother's skate boardAleesia and her brotherscooler than her own toys. They let her get away with it, but I suppose there will come a day when they decide that she should leave their toys alone. For now, however, they are just enjoying the year of blessings. With the end of Aleesia’s first year and the beginning of the second, I wonder how this will change in Aleesia’s terrible two’s. Time will tell. Today is Aleesia’s first birthday. Happy birthday baby girl!! We love you very much!! Have a blessed day!!

Pretty little girlBaby girls are always so pretty. It doesn’t matter what they look like, baby girls are just pretty…each with their own look and pretty in their own way. Some people may not agree with me on that, and in fact, I know of people who will tell you that babies aren’t even cute, but there is something about a baby girl that has a cuteness all her own. As they grow into toddlers, they start finding their girly side, and feeling really pretty in their little dresses, or playing dress up in their mom’s things.

Then come the adolescent years, and it seems like everything is off. No matter how much the girl tries, she just doesn’t like the Awkward Yearsway she looks, and she really wishes that people would not take her picture ever again, because everything is all messed up. Unfortunately, for many of us, those years go on far too long, and she becomes convinced that she will be living in the awkward years…forever!! Of course, those years aren’t nearly as long as she thinks they are, but rather it is that, while she is living in those years, it just feels like forever.

Finally those years are over, and most of us realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that those who really matter can see a beauty in us that we can’t even see ourselves. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that every girl deserves at Beautiful Marlyceleast one picture that, when viewed by others, brings the same reaction…”Oh, you look beautiful!!” That one picture that is simply, undeniably beautiful. Of course, beauty really comes from the inside of a person, and maybe that is why the picture I ran across of my sister-in-law, Marlyce, looked so beautiful to me. The essence of this picture was so clearly about the beautiful girl my sister-in-law was. Her sweetness, kindness, and gentleness glowed from her face. When I saw that picture, I was unable to look away for a few minutes, because I had never seen such a great picture of Marlyce before. She was beautiful, inside and out. This was her perfect picture…the one every girl deserves to have at least once.

Eating SunglassesHave you ever noticed that when babies are given a toy to play with…it goes directly to their mouth. I know, everyone will tell you that they are learning about textures and such, and that is probably right, but nevertheless, odd. We all did this, of course, but when I think back on that as an adult, I know I would be very grossed out. Oh, I know that we still do stick stuff in our mouths now and then, but it still seems like a really bad habit. Of course, my grand niece, Aleesia was not really planning to eat her sunglasses, and may have even seen other people do that with them, so she thought it was the thing to do, but there have been people who have chewed on their sunglasses to the point of ruining them.

When babies a really little, they use their mouth as part of playing with their toys, and by the time they are done, the toy is a slobbery mess, and needs a bath of its own…yuck. Even when my girls were little, I remember picking up a toy they had been playing with before they fell asleep, only to find it all wet and gross. I’m not squeamish or anything, but Maybe, it's a crackerI’m not fond of having other people’s saliva all over my hand either…not even my kids. It just felt icky!!

Well, thankfully babies grow up a little, and they quit sticking so much stuff in their mouths. Pretty soon they even get to a point where mostly, it is food that goes into their mouths. Of course, the food isn’t always less messy, but it seems different somehow to see a baby with a food mess on their face than it does a slobbery toy. There isn’t anything more fun than to see a baby on their first birthday, covered with cake, and happy as a clam. After all, these are the messy years, and parents just have to deal with it.

Grandma and Laura (I think)In years gone by, when it wasn’t as easy to get to your job site as it is today, many people lived as near their work as possible, especially when their work was out in the woods. Jobs in the cities and towns don’t require long drives, but when you travel on a horse, and work from sunrise to sunset; it’s nice to be close to home. Working in the logging industry, like my grandparents did, living in the woods was just part of the job.

I’m told that their little cabin in the woods was near International Falls, Minnesota, where their daughter, my Aunt Laura was born. I would imagine that the winters were very cold there, and the best thing for anyone who could was to stay indoors, but them I seriously doubt that my grandmother was a woman who was afraid of a little but of cold and snow. Still, the cold and snow would really make it hard to work out in the woods…nevertheless, that was the job that had to be done. Maybe that was another good reason to live near your work. You could get home to the nice warm house sooner, and maybe Little Cabineven be able to go home for lunch.

When I look at these pictures, it reminds me of the “Little House on the Prairie” books. Everywhere you look seems to be a new adventure. I can imagine how the Ingalls girls felt living there…the adventures they must have had…the adventures my Aunt Laura must have had there, playing with the children of the other logging families that lived in the woods too. I’m sure there was an abundance of forest animals to see and be in awe of. I love photographing the animals…when I happen to be in the right place at the right time. The pictures can be amazing. I can imagine all the beauty all around the little cabin in the woods.

Jala 2009I love looking at old photographs of people and trying to decide who they look like. With some people that can be difficult, because they are a Heinz 57, of sorts…a little bit of both parents, with some aunts, uncles, and grandparents mixed in there. Other people are so obvious that you can tell who they belong to right away. Still others don’t necessarily look like a specific person, until a little later on in life.

Our grand niece, Jala falls into the “Wow!! She looks a lot like her grandma” catagory. I have always thought she reminded me of my sister-in-law, Debbie, but even more so, when I look back at pictures of Debbie when she was closer to Jala’s age. They have the same jaw line and smile…the same nose…the same ears, and even similar eyes. It always surprises me when someone looks so much like another person in the family, although I suppose it shouldn’t because everyone has those traits that are strong in their family. Nevertheless, when it happens it still surprises me.

Jala is my sister-in-law, Debbies first granddaughter, and I know they have more likes and dislikes in common that just their looks, though…like their love of quilts. Debbie likes to Young Debbiemake them, and Jala collects them and other types of blankets. She must have a hundred of them, and uses every single one. In fact, I had heard that Debbie was planning to teach Jala how to make them herself. Just think of it. Then she could have 200 of them if she wanted, and her grandma wouldn’t have to make all of them. Ok, that was a joke, because I know that Debbie loves making quilts and other things for her grandchildren.

Today is Jala’s 11th birthday. You are growing up way too fast. Before we know it, you will be all grown up and married with kids of your own. Ok…let’s not rush things.  Happy birthday Jala!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

A Good ShaveThe first time I saw this picture, I thought it was another one of those pictures where the people were acting for the camera, only the person in this one appeared to be giving first aid to someone who was injured. It had to be acting, because the person who was giving first aid was smiling, and tending to an injured person really isn’t a laughing matter…especially when the injured person appears to be unconscious…or was he?

Old black and white pictures fascinate me. You have to look carefully to see the whole picture sometimes. Upon closer scrutiny of this picture, it occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t exactly the picture I though it was. My eye caught something that didn’t look quite right, and when I zoomed in on it, I could se that the man lying in the dirt was actually getting…or supposed to be getting a shave, with a straight razor…in the dirt!!

I’m beginning to think that some of my early relatives were really comedians. If the man in the dirt was getting a real shave, why would he be lying in the dirt to get it? And if he was getting a real shave, why was the shaving cream all over his face…including above his eyebrows? If he was getting a shave, was he crazy to be letting this person give him that shave…with a straight razor? If you ask me, I would say that if this was a real shave, both of these men were crazy!!

My guess is that this was all another of those goofy scenes that seemed to be all the rage in those days. When I look at the pictures from the current day, I have to think that maybe we could learn a little bit about what is funny from these guys, because their shots are a whole lot funnier than ours are, in my opinion. I suppose it all depends on what you draw from. We have seen so much on television that there isn’t much left that hasn’t been done already, but they were taking the rough and wild daily lives of living in the old west, and adding a little humor to it to get a laugh that would last for years to come. While, I’m pretty convinced that this picture was another of those staged comic shots, it did depict the way people did things back them. We still shave today, of course, but I’m thankful that a straight razor in not what we have to use to get a close shave these days, because that could lead to the injury kind of close shave, when placed in the wrong hands.

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