Monthly Archives: November 2015
We’ve all been told not to stand so close to the television set, but somehow all that nagging by our parents never really had much effect on most kids, who still stood right in front of the television as often as they sat a distance away from it. I don’t think it was really an act of defiance, but rather that the child was absorbed in the show, and didn’t even realize that they were standing right in front of the television set.
Of course, our parents were worried about a myth that getting too close to the television set could damage their child’s eyes, but science has proven that to be just that…a myth. In reality, they say that the reason that children tend to stand close to the television is that they can actually focus better on objects that are closer. Of course, scientists also say that when children stand so closely, it can also be a sign of future nearsightedness. That said, I guess that in reality, it does no harm for a child to stand right in front of the television…other than the fact that it irritates everyone else who is trying to watch the same show. I don’t suppose that this revelation will stop parents from telling their children not to stand so close to the television set, and that is up to them, but the reality is that it will not hurt your children.
Whether it is hard on your children’s eyes to stand so close to the television or not, will probably always be up for debate, but don’t think that kids are the only ones who do it, because they aren’t. I’ve seen plenty of adults who stand in front of the television set, including my husband, Bob and me too. It’s not that you mean to do it, but rather that you walk by and something catches your eye. You are interested, so you look, and the next thing you know someone is telling you to get out of the way. Oops!! Not only did you get caught by another adult, standing in front of the television set, but it was probably one of the same people who heard you tell your kids not to stand in front of the television set. I know that for me, that brings back memories of those days now in the past when I nagged my kids in exactly the same way.
During this journey to find my ancestors and my living family, there have been several times that I have felt that I had made a rare find. Of course, how could it be rare if there were several times, you might be thinking. I thought the same thing, and yet, some of the people I have come across have become so special to me that they could only be classified as a rare find. People like my father-in-law’s half brother, Butch Schulenberg, and our cousins Paul and Betty Noyes, come to mind immediately. But then, I also think of Tracey Inglimo, Denny Fredrick, Tim and Shawn Fredrick, Shirley Cameron, Pam and Mike Wendling, Bill and Maureen Spencer, and the many Schumacher cousins in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I think of Nick and Laura Weber, and Joe Weber. As I think of these people, new rare finds and renewed rare finds, I begin to realize that as I have discovered these special people, some I have never met in person, and some that I have known all my life, but lost track of, I begin to realize that maybe rare finds in the family line aren’t really as rare as I thought they were after all.
I have been thinking about what it is that makes a person a rare find, and the thing that immediately comes to mind is that these people truly care about me…about what I think and who I am. I find that these people are kindred spirits…something I had not really given much thought to until I got into the “Anne of Green Gables” movies, but after watching those movies, I realize just how important kindred spirits really are. Kindred spirits share the same values, goals, and desires, even if they are is slightly different ways. I think it is the values though that mean the most. Maybe that is a big part of what makes these people a rare find. So much has changed in our world these days, and while we all have maybe a slightly different view of what things are wrong and how to fix them, I still find that these people are value driven people…patriots, who love this country and what it stands for.
The longer I think about it, the more I realize that while finding people who compliment who I am is not such a rare find, it is still a rare find that there are so many people who have become so very special to me. It warms my heart to think of these people, and it warms my heart with every conversation I have with them. It is my hope to someday meet those precious people who I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I know we will really hit it off, because we are family and kindred spirits. It’s a great combination. While my “rare finds” have not really been so rare after all, I am so blessed by each and every one of then, and that makes them absolutely priceless. I am very blessed to know them all.
My nieces, Machelle Cook Moore and her sister, Susan Cook Griffith have both always been very sweet, loving girls. They have tender loving hearts. Machelle is the older sister, and there are five years between the girls, but they are just as close as they can be. Both of the girls love to go camping and to be outdoors in general, which is nice for their families. The summers are filled with trips to the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming, which is where they live.
It is there, however that many of the similarities between the girls end. Machelle and her husband, Steve have two sons, Weston and Easton, while Susan and her husband, Josh have a blended family with two daughters. I have found that when a woman has just sons, her life is much different than when a woman has just daughters. That is an observation that I have made from my own life, because I also have two daughters and no sons. Boys tend to change a woman…even if she is a girly girl. There is simply a culture shock that comes from having a house full of men. Maybe it is the same for the fathers of just daughters, and in reality, I’m sure that is true, but since I am a woman, I can’t speak to the culture shock a man of only daughters really feels, other than outnumbered. But then again, I’m sure that the mother of just sons, feels the same way. I know my own daughter, Corrie Petersen feels outnumbered a lot. I’m sure that Machelle has the same issues, and the older the boys get, the more they like to tease their mothers. That is a guy thing for sure.
Life with boys is rough and tumble, and in many ways a little bit gross. Because that is what boys do. It is filled with spiders, snakes, bats, and toads, or at least some kind of a mixture of these and more. The mother never really knows what she might find in the pockets of her little…angels. She can never be 100% sure that they won’t completely embarrass her with their noises, because to them that sort of thing is…well, funny. For most girls, these kinds of things would be more embarrassing to the girl than to her parents…not so with boys. With boys, all bets are off, and their mom had better expect the unexpected…at all times. I know that those who have boys know exactly what I’m talking about.
Machelle and Susan are alike in many ways, but their lives are very different. I know that they wouldn’t trade their lives for anything, but I’m sure that they’ve had a few conversations about just how different their lives are too. I don’t think either of them could fully believe the differences unless they see it for themselves, however. Today is Machelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every year, after Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to put up the Christmas decorations. And every year, I find myself with fewer and fewer of my little helpers to deck the halls of my home. I suppose that as time goes by, there will be a new group of little helpers to spend that special time with me, but for now, I’m hoping to have at least a couple to help on Saturday with my Christmas decorations. Either way, I will get my decorations up this weekend, because there are only so many days to get it done, and I must make hay while the sun shines…as the old saying goes.
Thinking of the decorating ahead, takes my thoughts back to the times that my family decorated our house when I was a kid. Things were very different then. I don’t recall putting up the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving, but it might have been about that time. What I do remember is my four sisters and me and our parents decorating the tree, while we sang Christmas carols and ate popcorn and other snacks. It was a big deal, and none of us would have missed it.
I remember the fanfare that led up to the decorating. We went to the lots to purchase our tree…because there weren’t any artificial trees then. We brought it home and Dad cut the excess length off so the tree would fit in the house. The fragrance of the pine filled the house, and made everything so festive. Mom and Dad would string the lights and garland. Then it was time for my sisters and me to start putting up the ornaments. Mom and Dad taught us to carefully place the ornaments to create the most beautiful effect on the tree. I’m sure that our training took time. Nevertheless, with patience and practice, we got pretty good at it. One thing that eventually went by the wayside…in most families I think is tinsel. As you can see, we all had a handful and were carefully placing it on the tree, but no matter how careful you were, that stuff always ended up on the floor or tangled in the tree branches, which wasn’t a problem with a real tree, but definitely a problem in an artificial tree.
It didn’t matter how old we were. From the oldest to the youngest, even if the youngest was only 2 years old, we decorated the tree. It was so much fun. In fact I think we looked forward to it all year. Traditions are that way. Once you start them and find them to be a lot of fun, you wish you could do them every day, but I suppose that would get boring after a while, so it’s a good thing they only come once a year. As I think back of those traditions from my youth, I feel a bit sad, because all too soon, those days are gone, and we can never get them back. We must move forward, start our own traditions, and accept the changes that have come, because that is what life is all about…whether we like it or not.
As Thanksgiving approached this year, I found myself thinking of the things I’m thankful for. Of course, I’m thankful first and foremost for my loving Heavenly Father. He is always there for me. He will never leave me nor forsake me. How could I possibly ask for more than to have a God who cares deeply about every little tiny part of my life. No human cares that much, not even those who love me with all their hearts, because…well humans just don’t have a love so deep and unconditional.
While this year will find half of my family here and half in Washington, it will feel very lonely, but what I really care about is that my family is all happy, healthy, safe, and sound. And I hope they have a wonderful Thanksgiving too, even though we will miss them very much. I think the holidays are the hardest time to be apart, because the rest of the time work and activities keep you busy and you can forget that they are so far away, but the holidays…well, they are just different. The holidays are all about family. Maybe next year we can be together for one of the holidays. That would be really nice. For now, I am thankful that all of Amy’s family is together for this Thanksgiving holiday. And I’m lonely and sad because of the empty chairs we will have at our table this year.
And this will be the first Thanksgiving with both of my parents in Heaven, and that is very hard for my sisters, and our families. Yet, we are still thankful that our parents are together with other loved ones who have gone to Heaven too. I am so thankful that our parents brought is up to know the Lord, and to know the comfort of knowing where they are now and that they are safe in the loving arms of our Heavenly father. While we will miss them terribly today, as we do every day, and the empty chairs that they would have occupied will make us lonely, we know that they are celebrating with us, because they celebrate God’s love with thanksgiving every day, as do we. We will also be missing my father-in-law, and in reality my mother-in-law, who is in a nursing home. For Bob’s siblings, the loneliness is the same as my sisters and me, the empty chairs speak volumes, if we will listen.
Still, not all things about this day will be sad and lonely, because last month, right after I broke my shoulder, I was so blessed when Bob and I were “adopted” into my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen’s family. His parents, Becky and Duane Skelton invited us to spend Thanksgiving as part of their family. Kevin’s parents have been friends of ours for a long time, and it was just such a wonderful thing to do. I don’t think I was ready to try to put on a Thanksgiving dinner. By Christmas, I expect that I will be much more ready, when I host Bob’s family, but for now, I am very thankful for the kindness of such amazing friends. I love both of them very much, and I look forward to the memories we will have of this day.
Lastly, but in no way the least, I am thankful for new and renewed family connections. Over the past couple of years, we have reconnected with cousins that we haven’t seen in quite some time and some we had never met, which has expanded our family in areas that were lacking before. It is so wonderful to have such a large family, and to have the opportunity to get to know these cousins that we never knew. They are all such wonderful people with so many different interests and life stories, and yet, we are all connected in the deepest of ways…we are family. And that is definitely something to be thankful for.
While this Thanksgiving is filled with mixed emotions for me and my family, I am truly thankful for every day of life, for every member of my family, for each friend, for job, home, and the beauty of God’s creation here one Earth. And I am thankful that when this life is over, I too will live forever in the loving arms of my Father in Heaven. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! Have a blessed day!!
I think most people have heard the Bible verse, John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” People may not realize that this is a Bible verse, but they know what they thought was an old saying. Either way, the verse was talking about Jesus dying on the cross to save the world from it’s sin, but I don’t think that was all it was about. It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but when my pastor was preaching a couple of weeks ago, this verse was part of his sermon. Of course, he talked about Jesus sacrifice, but suddenly something jumped out in my mind. This verse was about far more than Jesus sacrifice, or it wouldn’t have talked about the greater love a person can have if they choose to lay down their life for their friend. It was about how we are all supposed to be.
It was at that moment that a thought came to me. There is more than one way to “lay down your life.” Of course, the verse meant to die for your friend, and many is the hero who has done that, but it occurred to me that dying is not the only way to lay down your life for someone. In fact, caregivers lay down their life all the time. They set aside their normal life activities, and take the time to take care of another person. I’m not trying to blow my own horn, but rather I want to talk about all of the many caregivers I know of and those I don’t, because their sacrifice is amazing. The patient they care for, would be in a nursing home, were it not for the loving kindness shown to them by a friend or family member who laid down their own life to give that time to another. It is one of the greatest showings of love there is, and it is also very rewarding for the caregiver, although sometimes it is sad too. For just a little bit of time, almost always a relatively short lived little bit of time, at least in the grand scheme of time, you have the chance to be the wind beneath their wings…the one who holds them up and cares for their needs…the one who had the privilege to lay down their own life to care for a loved one.
Yes, greater love hath no man, than that a man lay down his life for his friend…to actually die for his friend, but there is another way that is just as wonderful, and just as loving…to lay down your own needs, desires, activities, time…to care for another human being who desperately needs your help. So here’s to all the Caregivers I know, and to all those that I don’t know. You truly are among the greatest of people on Earth, because you have make a sacrifice that shows the ultimate amount of love you had for your loved one. It makes me proud to be a part of such an elite, amazing group of people. Today is National Family Caregiver Day, and I hope it is an amazing day for all of you.
In years gone by, criminal investigations were often flawed, circumstantial, or non-existent. If the crime wasn’t witnessed by someone, it often didn’t get solved, unless someone had threatened to kill someone. Even then, the wrong person was convicted quite often…probably not often than anyone cared to admit or think about. It was a fact that no one really wanted to think about. Then, as science began to find new ways to process evidence, there were fewer mistakes. That didn’t and still doesn’t completely eliminate miscarriages in justice, but more and more often, the right person is sentenced.
There are a number of television shows on these days that feature the use of a crime lab, and while I realize that the investigations rarely progress as quickly as they do on television, I do find them interesting nevertheless. I don’t know how realistic some of the tests are, but I have a feeling that the answer is…not very. Nevertheless, I like the idea of using science to catch the right criminal. Things like fingerprints, DNA testing, ballistics, and the chemical makeup of poisons, to name a few, are tests that have revolutionized the criminal justice system.
It was on this day, November 24, 1932, that the first FBI Crime Lab opened, and while it has gone through some controversy over the years, it still remains on of the best labs in the country. The crime lab is now known as the FBI Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory. Originally this lab was chosen because it has the necessary sink operated out of a single room and only one employee. It has expanded exponentially since then. Of course, these days each state has their own lab too, and while there has been controversy as to bias over the years, those operate in much the same way. Scientific answers to serious questions. And it all started in a single room, rather primitive lab in 1932.
I think a lot of people know or at least have heard of Cripple Creek, Colorado. Most people think of the fourteen casinos located there, and I suppose that casinos are a fitting thing for Cripple Creek to be known for, but it wasn’t always that way. Cripple Creek became a gold mining boom town in 1894 after gold was discovered there. At that time 150 gold mines suddenly sprang up, and with them, a strong miners union…the Free Coinage Union Number 19, which was a part of the militant Western Federation of Miners.
As with any gold mining operation, desparate workers began pouring in from all over the country. Before long Cripple Creek had a huge labor surplus. With the labor surplus, the owners begin requiring extra hours, with no pay increase, or the alternative, they could keep the current 8 hours a day with a pay reduction of 50 cents. The Western Federation of Miners opposed both plans, and the miners when on strike. Their picket lines and refusal to work closed most of the mines. They showed what solidarity is all about. The miners who were still going down in the working mines assessed themselves 10 percent of their wages to support the strikers, and the union set up soup kitchens. How often to you see people who can’t afford to strike, but who are willing to support those who do strike.
The governer of Colorado, David Waite would not help the labor bosses, but they had the county Sheriff, Frank Bowers in their pocket. They told the miners to go back to work, they would not. By the end of October, things had gotten so out of hand that finally, on November 23, 1903, Governor Peabody agreed to send the state miltia to protect replacement workers that the bosses had brought in. The striking miners were furious and they barricaded the roads and railways. The soldiers began rounding up the union members and their sympathizers, including the entire staff of a pro-union newspaper, and imprisoned them without charges or any evidence that they had done anything wrong.
The miners and others who were imprisoned complained that their constitutional rights had been violated, and
one anti-union judge replied, “To hell with the Constitution; we’re not following the Constitution!” Those tactics brought out the more radical elements of the Western Federation of Miners, and in June of 1904 Harry Orchard, who was a professional terrorist the the union employed, blew up a railroad station, whick killed 13 strikebreakers. With the bombing came the outrage of the public and the deportation of the Western Federation of Miners leaders. By midsummer, the strike was over and the Western Federation of Miners never regained the same level of power it had originally had in the Colorado mining districts. Even in this day and age, the unions and the bosses seem to always be at odds, and I suppose that something like this could happen again.
Some birthdays come and go without a lot of fanfare, but others come with a reminder of the blessings we have, and the things we could have lost. This year, for my niece, Kelli Schulenberg, hers is a birthday filled with reasons to be thankful. The recent fire that could have destroyed her home, also could have taken the life of her beloved dog, Dakota. While she was waiting to hear of the fate of her house, and the wellbeing of her dog, I had a chance to talk with, encourage, and pray with Kelli about the whole situation. Of course, her mind was filled with worry, but she showed a strength that told me that no matter what the outcome, she and my nephew Barry would pull through.
With Kelli’s birthday coming so close to Thanksgiving, I’m sure that there have been a number of years where her reasons for being thankful have mingled with her birthday wishes, but I doubt if any other year has brought that more into perspective than this year. When you come close to losing your home, your pet, and all of your cherished memories, it really serves as a reminder to be thankful for all God has given you, and all that He protected for you. Kelli and Barry’s home and their dog were spared, and they both know the feeling of thankfulness for that precious gift. The did lose some wood and trees, a trailer and a shed, but these were things that, while still a loss, can be replaced with much more ease than a home and less pain than a pet. Nevertheless, they were a loss.
But, as with most things we are thankful for, the best are the gifts given in our time of need. That certainly was the case for Kelli and Barry, when their family and friends came together to cut up more wood than they originally had. With the winter months set now with enough wood to keep their home warm and cozy, Kelli finds herself with yet another reason to be thankful the year, both on her birthday and Thanksgiving.
Some birthdays are a little bit sad, because we feel older now, or a loved one isn’t with us, but I think that on this birthday, Kelli will not be thinking about the passing years, but rather about the blessings she has been given, especially in this past year. So much of her life could have been very different, had it not been for the prayers of friends and family, the hard work she and Barry had done to make sure their home had a good fire break around it, and the help of family and friends to give back the things lost. And of course, she is thankful to still have her dog, Dakota, thanks to the kindness of friends who made sure he was ok. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For some reason, time seems to fly by much faster as we get older than it did when we were young. Maybe it is because as kids, we could only think of being grown up. In reality, it’s too bad that we didn’t know that with growing up would come many other things that are not so pleasant as simply getting to be an adult. Responsibility is probably the first thing you suddenly notice, but it will not be the worst thing you will ever face. No, the worst thing is definitely loss, and it seems like the older we get, the more people we know who have passed away. It’s not just family, of course, but friends, parents and siblings of friends, and the worst…children.
While the loss of our loved one is something that we deal with every day, there are days that are definitely worse. The anniversary of the day they passed, and in that first year, the day of the month that they passed. Today marks the 9 month anniversary of my mom’s passing, as well as the 5th anniversary of the passing of her little great granddaughter…Laila Spethman. While there is little comfort for those of us left behind, there is a degree of comfort in knowing that my parents are getting to know their two little granddaughters who left us too soon, Alyssa Harman and Laila Spethman. I know they are having such a great time, because for both Mom and Dad, there was nothing more important than family, and every little grandchild was very special. I know that the loss of two young great granddaughters was very hard on them, and I know that they are having a great time getting to know those girls.
The days that mark the loss of a loved one are always hard, and while we wish we didn’t have to face them, they are also days to remember. Our minds drift back to happy days, during their lives. We think about the sweet little memories, such as the one my sister Caryl Reed had yesterday. When she was giving a bed that her husband Mike had made for our mom to use when she visited, to their grandson, Topher Spicer. As they were moving the bed, one of Mom’s curlers and a bobby pin were under the bed. They had fallen out the one time she got to sleep there. Caryl said it was like a little hug from Mom. As this nine month anniversary of her passing arrives, it’s like Mom is sending her love and telling us that she is having a wonderful time in Heaven with Dad, Alyssa, Laila, and the rest of the family who were there to greet her. While this day brings a dual sadness to our hearts, because we miss Mom and Laila, it also reminds us how happy they are, celebrating in Heaven, because there is no sadness or tears there. We love and miss you Mom and Laila, as well as Dad, Alyssa and all our other loved ones in Heaven. Someday soon we will see you again.