Monthly Archives: September 2013

imageWhen my daughters had their first children one day apart, almost 18 years who, I thought that was the coolest thing, and it was, but sometimes, sisters get to have their babies on the same day, and that it very rare indeed. Nevertheless, that is the case for my Aunt Dixie and my Aunt Bonnie. Their sons, James and Michael were born 49 years ago today. As a grandmother, I can imagine how busy things were for my grandma and grandpa. Of course, back then they couldn’t be in the room when the baby was born, nor could the father…which seems very odd to us now, but they were definitely in the waiting room pacing the floor. And the excitement must have been very high. Just think, to get two grandchildren on the same day, and they weren’t twins. That doesn’t happen very often. Now, top that off with both babies being born in the same town, in the same hospital, and you have real excitement.

It must have been interesting to the hospital staff too, because they had sisters in hospital with newborns for several days. Back then, the mom and baby stayed in the hospital for 5 days or so. I’ll bet it was the talk of the nursing staff. And for the sisters, they got to share the experience on a much closer basis than sisters usually do. They didn’t have to wait for visiting hours to see their sister’s baby, and in fact, I believe that only the dad and grandparents were allowed to visit back then, so they would have had to wait until their sister and the baby came home. Nevertheless, for the sisters, like their own son, they could easily go and see their nephew anytime they wanted to because he was probably right next to their own son, unless he was having his dinner, which would imagemean that their own son was doing the same.

Babies arriving in this world is always such a special day, and when you double that…without having twins, the day becomes even more special for the family. How wonderfully unique to be able to share the birth of your child with your sister. It adds a bond to the sisters and their families that might not have existed otherwise. Today is my cousin, Jim’s birthday and also my cousin, Michael’s birthday. I’m not sure who is the oldest, but I’m sure they will let me know as they read their story. Happy birthday Jim and Michael!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you both!!

Heading to the gameThere are times in the life of a person that are looked back on as being…Epic!! They can be anything from the first time they have flown to the first professional ball game. I’m not talking about marriage here or high school graduation, because those fall unto an entirely different class of events. And the things that are epic for one person, are not so for someone else. Today is just such a day for my grand nephew, Xander. His Aunt Liz has been to many pro ball games, as has his cousin Kellie and her boyfriend Josh, but today…well, today is special, because they have decided to make the day epic for Xander by taking him to a Broncos/Eagles game. Now Liz, Kellie, At Sports Authority Field at Mile Highand Josh are Broncos fans, but Xander is an Eagles fan, so this could get…interesting. Oh, I know they wouldn’t pick on Xander too badly if the Eagles lose, but he would be hard pressed to hold back his excitement if the Eagles win. It might just be a little bit uncomfortable on the way home, but I doubt it. These are die hard sports fans, who know what it means to be a good sport.

This takes me back to my first pro baseball game…right there in Denver. Of course, I was much older that Xander has been so blessed to be, but I don’t really think the excitement changes much. There is just something so cool about being inside the stadium that brings with it the realization that this is the big time, Almost got into a fight with the Broncos Kangerooand you are really there. These players are the pros, and you are watching them…and not on television. It seems surreal to most people that first time. Yes, you get used to it as you attend more and more games as time goes by, but I really don’t think any of us ever forget that first time…ever!!

Of course, as a Broncos fan, I still have to hope they win…sorry Xander. Still, I hope that both teams play amazingly well today…for Xander. I hope it is a good game, well played. I know that win or lose, Xander is going to have a day that he will never forget…an epic day…a day that will go down in the history of his life as one of the very coolest days ever.

You Stepped On My ToeWhen my girls were little, I didn’t work outside the home, but I did bowl quite a bit. At that time, the bowling alleys had a nursery for the children of the bowlers. It certainly made it easier to bowl if they didn’t have to find a babysitter or watch their children when they are trying to bowl. Needless to say, since I bowled quite a bit, my girls got used to those nurseries…eventually. There were a few rough moments in the early years, however. My younger daughter, Amy started going to the nursery when she was two years old, and since she was pretty little and walking, the other children thought she was a walking baby doll. They wanted to carry her around, and Amy…well, she didn’t like that one bit!! When I heard her screaming at the top of her lungs, I assumed that she had gotten hurt, so I went running to the nursery. When I got there and saw Amy calmly playing with the toys, I asked the nursery attendant what had happened, because I knew it was Amy that screamed. The attendant said, “Oh she’s ok…one of the other children just tried to pick her up!” That’s just not a good idea with a child who wants to be thought of as being as big as any other kid, and some of those kids who tried to pick her up were younger and yet bigger than she was, so she simply didn’t appreciate that at all. To my knowledge, that never happened again, but then would you try that twice if the cute little walking baby doll practically bit your head off? I think not!!

My oldest daughter, Corrie never had the problem that Amy did, because she wasn’t as short as Amy, and she started going to the nurseries at three instead of two. By this time, having been a mother a while, I had ways to rewarding the girls for good behavior. I’m sure some people would not agree with my methods, but I could take the girls to the store without them asking for everything in sight, simply by telling them that if they didn’t ask for anything while Corrie and Angry Amywe shopped, they could have a candy bar when we were done. The same method was used in the nursery…if you stay until I’m done, you get a candy bar. One day as I was getting my things together, and my girls were the last ones in the nursery, the attendant brought them out to me. They were always excited when bowling was over, knowing that their candy bar was coming. This particular time, Corrie was very excited about her candy bar, and when she got to my bowling area, she immediately said, “Mommy, can I have $6.00 for a candy bar?” Well, I lost it!! I said, “Boy, that had better be one huge candy bar for $6.00.” Laughing the entire time!! Of course, the girls got their candy bars, and the good news is…I didn’t have to spend $6.00 for them.

Allen-and-Ruth-Spencer-with-dogKids always seem to do things in grand style. They never start out small and work their way up once they have some experience under their belt. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, they always do things in a big way. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the things they are doing will not be done well, just that they might be over-done to a degree.

My Uncle Bill and my dad were pretty handy with tools and building things, so when they set themselves to the task of building a home for their dog Shep, they felt confident that they knew what they were doing and that they could do a good job. They loved Shep and they wanted him to have a good home to live in. In their minds, maybe Shep was a bigger dog than he was in reality or maybe they just wanted his home to be roomy enough for him to be comfortable. Or, it could have simply been a matter of their calculations being a little bit off…Uncle Bill doesn’t really clarify that. Nevertheless, when the house was built, it was…well, grand!! It wasn’t that they lined it with gold or anything, but it definitely had a vaulted ceiling.

When their mother, my grandmother saw the dog house, she got such a kick out of it that he dubbed it the two story dog house. When you look at it, she was right. It looked like it had a loft in the upper area. Of course, in reality, Shep had a smaller dog house that looked really big on the inside. If any of the kids had wanted to spend the night out there with the dog, they probably could have stood up inside.

Looking back as young men, I’m sure they have all had a good laugh a time or two about that old dog house. These days, they would never have wasted the wood on such an extravagant dog house, especially since all that open space probably provided less warmth than a smaller dog house might have, but they were little boys, trying to do a good thing for their beloved dog. I am equally sure that Shep appreciated their efforts, and never told them about it…if the house felt cold due to the extra space.

imageTurning 21 is a big day in the life of a kid. I use the word kid lightly, because they really haven’t been kids for quite some time. Nevertheless, to me they are still kids, except that they can now legally drink, and their parents truly hope that they will be careful and have a designated driver or take a cab home. Well, today is that special day for my cousin, Cody, but that isn’t what Cody is really all about.

I first met Cody when his Uncle Bill and Aunt Maureen brought him along on their family vacation in 2007 to visit our family, and leave my Uncle Bill, Cody’s grandpa with us for a week while they went to Yellowstone National Park to show their daughter Kristin and Cody all the sights there. Cody was a bit shy at first, but that really isn’t his true nature, and by the end of our time with them, we were enjoying good conversations with imagehim. Since that time, I have watched Cody grow up on Facebook, and I’m very proud of the wonderful young man he has become.

It’s not easy for a young man to grow up without his dad, and since my cousin Jimmy died of Mesothelioma on February 1, 2006, that is what Cody has had to do. His mom, Tami has been a wonderful influence on him and did an amazing job of raising him, but a boy still misses his dad, when he doesn’t have him in his life…and Cody and his dad were very close.

Since finishing school, Cody has embarked on a new career with the developmentally disabled. It takes a very special person to work with the developmentally disabled, but the rewards are so amazingly great that every moment is priceless. I know this because of my imageown developmentally disabled sister-in-law, Marlyce, who passed away far too soon in 1989. The developmentally disabled, love those people who love them, and they love them dearly. Nevertheless, they do have special needs and need special handling, and being the sister-in-law to Marlyce, was very different that working in a group home with a group of developmentally disabled people. That is a big job and one that makes me very proud of Cody for his undertaking of it. More importantly Cody, I know that your dad would be very proud of the man you have become. Today is Cody’s 21st birthday. Happy birthday Cody!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

 

imageMy cousin Stephanie, who is my cousin Greg’s daughter, is one of the few family members who live back east…and the rest would be her family…and as far as I know that is it. Many of the family members don’t really know Stephanie, and that is unfortunate, because she is a great person. I have had the pleasant opportunity to get to know her through Facebook, and for that I am grateful.

Stephanie is a stay at home wife and mother, who is all about family. Her kids are her top priority, as is her husband Mike…but he can take care of himself…most of the time, anyway. As we all know, raising kids is no easy job, and as daughters go into the teenaged years, their emotions run high. Nevertheless, Stephanie handles Kate’s various imagecrisis moments with as much humor as possible to ease the situation, and yet the right amount of compassion, when the situation is very emotional. Having become friends with Kate too, I can say for certain, that Stephanie and Mike have done a great job. Of course, they also have a son, also named Michael, who pretty much loves to goof off with his mom, dad, and sister. Little boys can be so amusing, and that is pretty much what he is. Michael is all smiles, and loves to be funny. I’m sure that brings much joy to the house as well.

I love the relationship that Stephanie and Mike have too, because they keep it very light. Too many people today forget to have a little joke once in a while, but these two, will just imagemake some goofy comment of the other’s Facebook wall for fun. That tells me a lot about their sense of humor and also, why their marriage has worked. Life has enough serious moments and tough times, mix in a little humor, and you will feel a lot better.

Sometimes, you regret that you didn’t have the opportunity to be a part of someone’s life before so much time had passed, and that is definitely the case with Stephanie. Her light hearted humor and smiling face bring joy to the lives of those who know her. Today is Stephanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Stephanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageIn 1910 – 1911, my Grandpa Spencer and my grandma’s   brother, my Uncle Albert Schumacher, spent the winter months trapping and working in the logging camps in northern Minnesota. This was before my grandparents were married. The men took several pictures before embarking on the journey from the Schumacher farm in Elliot, North Dakota in September 1910 for their “winter in the woods”. My grandpa took his 1895 Winchester 30-03, the gun that was his pride and joy, and Uncle Albert had a 1899 Savage and they headed off on their adventure. It would be a winter to remember. It was freezing cold, often getting down to 30° below zero.

They built what they called a flat boat to carry their supplies, two rifles, two handguns, plenty of ammunition, and plenty of dried and canned food. The boat could also be loaded onto a wagon when they needed to travel across country, although, I’m not sure where they got the wagon after traveling by water. Still since I have seen the picture with the boat on the wagon, I know that they got that part covered as well. In the end, the cold winter sort of won out. They trapped during October and November and then worked in the logging camps until spring.

While the cold winter, and the freezing conditions did change their plans for the winter, you could still say that they had a successful winter of trapping anyway. Now, I don’t know how I would feel about trapping skunk, because at some point you have to go and deal with that carcass, and to me that would be horrible. We have all driven by a spot where a skunk was killed, and…whew, what a smell!! Nevertheless, my grandpa and my uncle took that in stride and came away with a good amount of skunk and muskrat pelts for their efforts. My Uncle Bill, who I must credit for the information in this story, figured that in all, imageimagethey probably made about $100.00 for that cold winter’s trapping venture, plus the money earned while working in the logging camps. It may not sound like much money for all that work and the freezing conditions, but in 1910 and 1911, it was a pretty decent wage.

Cheryl and CarynTo every little girl who has a big sister, she is most likely the first person she looked up to. Big sisters are wise, because they have done so much in this world. They can show you all the cool things that they have had the opportunity to see in their lives. They show you the ropes, and they are there for you through thick and thin…even if you fight occasionally in those early years. When it comes down to it they would fight any foe, bully, or even and friend…if they came between them and their little sister. That was and is the kind of friend I have in my big sister, Cheryl. She always seemed so much more sophisticated than I was. And still does to this day. I don’t know how she does it, but she just has that something about her. With all she has done with her life, I find myself feeling very proud that she is my sister.

I suppose there are many younger sisters who feel the same way about their big sisters. I mean, big sisters always seem to have the answers, all the cool friends…not that you get to hang out with them, all of the cool clothes…while you wear hand me downs, and they get to do so much more than you get to do. Still, sometimes, they give you a little bit of their time, and you get to bask in the warmth of being with that person who is so much cooler than you are. You get to go do things together…like exploring in the back yard, or playing with the cool toys they have. Your life is perfect, simply because that cool big sister gave you a few minutes of their time.

It is at this point in time that you really get a full understanding of how much your big sister loves you. It doesn’t matter that most of the time they really want you to just stay Love my sisterSistersout of the way. It doesn’t matter that most of the time they want you to leave their toys alone. Those thoughts fade into a distant memory. You get to hang out with the wisest, coolest person you know. They get to teach you from all the wisdom of their years…even if there are only 2 years between you, and you are only 6 months old at the time. I guess that wisdom isn’t nearly as important as the love your big sister has for little old you.

27016_394747284000_6877317_nThey say that girls often marry a man who is much like their dad, and that seems to be the case with Jessi and Jason. Both Jessie’s dad, and Jason are police officers, but that is only one of the similarities between these two men. They are both serious pranksters, which Jessi tells me reminds her a lot of her dad and her grandpa, my dad. Of course, it is apparently pretty easy to tease Jessi, because she is pretty gullible and believes anything Jason says. For that reason, he never misses an opportunity to try to trick her. I would imagine life in their house is pretty comical.

Another way Jason is like my dad, Jessi’s grandpa, is that when it comes to cars, foreign is simply not an option. Of course, there are several people like that in our family. Most of us really believe that it is best to buy American, and that is Jason’s thought too, but there is another reason for him too. Jason was born in Michigan…just 20 minutes from Detroit. I doubt that someone could be born and raised in that area and not know the importance of buying American made cars.

There are many sides to Jason. He has degrees in engineering and fire science, and also has his pilot’s license; and yet he knew that his true calling was to be a Highway Patrolman. He loves what he does, and of course there is more to being a police officer Jason the pilotthan giving tickets. Jason is the lead Crash Team member in our area, and my kids can attest to the value of that. He was the first one on scene at an accident involving my son-in-law Kevin’s dad. It was such a relief to Kevin and Corrie to have Jason meet them at the edge of the scene and tell them that his dad was ok. He was caring and yet thoroughly did his job on the accident. That is how he handles every accident he deals with…with compassion and professionalism. As Jessi says, “God definitely has special people in mind for every job and this is no exception.” I have to agree. God does place the right people in the right job, and Jason is the kind of person that you want to see after you have been in an accident.

Jason loves kids, and there will definitely be children in the future for Jessi and Jason, but for now he likes to do things with the other kids in the family. On Labor Day weekend, when the family went up to my sister, Caryl and her husband, Mike’s cabin at Seminole Reservoir, Jason took every single kid…10 all together, for rides on the RzR. They all have an amazing time. Jason will never pass up the opportunity to share these kinds of things with a child. He has a very soft heart when it comes to kids.
Jason and Aurora
Like most people, Jason has a nickname. Because of his red hair, they call him Red, Ginger, and a few others that the guys at work have stuck him with. If they tell you to call him one of those, he will probably know exactly who told you to do it. They might think they got away with something…but they didn’t. Jessi says she had no idea that being a redhead was such a big deal, and maybe that’s part of it, but I think it goes back to that sense of humor and a little return teasing, because of all the pranking Jason has done to others in his past. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Do you have a boyfriendRecently, while looking through some old school pictures, I came across one of my own, that I vividly remember being very embarrassed about as a kid. It was silly, I suppose, but at the time…I just couldn’t believe it. Back then, the photographer couldn’t be totally sure that the subjects eyes were open, or that they smiled, or if they had hair in their eyes, or much else about the picture until it was developed. They looked through the view finder, but there was that second when they snapped that picture where they just had to hope the subject held the position they had seen them in just long enough for the picture to be taken. And film cost money, so they didn’t take several shots in the hope of having one turn out…at least not until the senior pictures were taken and the family was paying for all that film.

The other challenge a photographer faced, was getting a child to smile when they maybe didn’t feel like doing so. With no parents there to make the child sit still and smile, the photographer was on his own, so he would usually come up with any funny comment he could think of to guarantee that coveted smile in each of the hundreds of school children that passed in front of his camera on any given day. Sometimes, that was a huge challenge. Kids might have had a bad morning, didn’t like what their mom made them wear, or didn’t like their hair. Whatever the case, kids can be very temperamental when things aren’t going their way.

I don’t recall ever being one of those children who didn’t smile for the camera, but still the photographer didn’t know that, so he had to do what he felt was necessary to guarantee my smile. In this particular year, the photographer thought he had it all figured out, and on the smile part, he did, but there was just one small problem…the eyes. No, I didn’t close them, as you can clearly see, but I wasn’t looking at the camera either. When I saw the picture, I thought, “Oh yuck!! I look goofy!!” I couldn’t have retakes, because the stipulations for retakes were things like eyes closed or hair in the eyes, not eyes looking up. You might be asking yourself, what was she doing that caused her to be looking up. It’s a valid question and one that I can still answer for you. This is the look you get when you ask a little girl, “Do you have a boyfriend?” I always did those days, of course, but I had to think about whether or not I was willing to tell the photographer that. You might be wondering why my hair didn’t bother me too, but that was the style then…my goofy look wasn’t. I just have to wonder if he asked the girls that particular question after that.