Family

There are few things in the life of a toddler that they enjoy more than a pony ride on a grandparent’s foot. It is the first type of ride most kids get to take…almost like their first carnival ride. It is amazing that such a simple ride can thoroughly delight a child. It is such a simple thing to do and yet it can give the rider hours of fun…if your leg could hold out that long that is. Nevertheless, the child will continue to as you to “do it again” for hours.

We seem to mimic some of the rides we loved as children in the play with our toddlers a lot. The merry-go-round is done by swinging the child around until they are dizzy and delighted. The airplane is done by lying on the floor and holding the child’s hand while lifting them with your feet into the air. They may not know what we are imitating, because they are too young, but this type of play is passed down from generation to generation.

I remember that JD really loved to get these rides when he was little, and he would ask anyone in the room to give him another ride. Sometimes he would have to go from person to person as one leg or another would get tired, or the adult would get bored with the game. It’s funny how some kids like the pony ride more than others. JD loved his pony rides.

Today, JD rides a different kind of pony…or should I say horse power. JD rides and has raced motorcycles, along with his little brother, Eric. And lets not forget the many cars and pickups that have made their way into JD’s life. He will spend hours working on a vehicle…often into the wee hours of the morning, when he doesn’t have to work the next day. Sometimes, I think he is obsessed with engines, but I suppose that is not all that unusual, given that his dad also loves engines, cars, and motorcycles.

Today, JD has taken on the role of the ride giver with the little ones we have in the family. He is always roughhousing with his cousins, be they little or not. My grandkids have all reaped the benefits of JD’s playful nature…although the adults have wished they would all settle down from time to time. I don’t blame those early rides for all the roughhousing though, because sometimes that is just how a person is. JD is a kid at heart, and I think that as long as there are little ones around him, he will jump right in there and play with them, so…move the furniture back…if you want to keep it in one piece that is.

On the occasion of Christopher’s first meeting with his great great grandpa, he didn’t quite know what to make of him. That is something I can certainly understand, as can anyone who knew him. Grandpa was gruff and yet funny. Many people thought he was angry, but I knew better. He was one of those people who…maybe had a little bit of trouble expressing his feelings, but once you found your way into his heart…he was a person who cared deeply about you. What a wonderful trait to have in a grandpa who became your grandpa by marriage, both his to Christopher’s great great grandma…you see he was Christopher’s step-great great grandpa, and mine because he was Bob’s step-grandpa. I know these things about him, because I did find my way into his heart, and we were ruthless card partners…but more importantly, he was every bit a grandpa to me, and I loved him very much.

But, Christopher, being a little guy, had a bit of trouble figuring his great great grandpa out. Nevertheless, he did love him. And in some ways, they were two of a kind. Not in the gruff…hard to get to know…kind of way, but in the joking kind of way. Christopher is famous for making faces that are very expressive, either funny or serious. So when Grandpa started with his gruff voice and funny way of talking, Christopher gave him a look that said, “What are you talking about?” Again, I can understand how Christopher might wonder such a thing. Grandpa was always talking very fast, and when you combined that with his gruff voice…well you had to pay attention or you might miss the point.

So, Christopher did his best to figure out that guy that everyone was telling him was his great great grandpa, and maybe took a little bit of comfort in the fact that his Aunt BR was holding him, because he just wasn’t very sure about that guy that was in front of him. Then, just when he thought this guy called great great grandpa was never going to be somebody he would understand, he said something funny. Or, maybe it was just that everybody else started laughing. I’m not sure Christopher knew which it was, but I’m pretty sure everyone started laughing at Christopher’s funny face. It didn’t really matter, because suddenly Christopher decided that maybe this guy called great great grandpa was funny after all.

When Rachel married my brother-in-law, Ron, it was the beginning of a new life for her…many changes were coming, including some that were impossible to prepare for. As you begin married life, you expect certain changes, such as moving, having children, or as is the case in this marriage, adding a step-dad to a family in which the children are already there, and down the road, becoming grandparents. Still, some changes are very unexpected.

Ron is the youngest of my in-law’s children…in fact, he was born 18 years after their first child, his sister Marlyce. That said, when he married Rachel, she was instantly moved into an ongoing family caregiving situation, due to her new mother-in-law’s Alzheimer’s Disease, and her new father-in-laws, COPD and Emphysema. That is a lot to walk into for a 35 year old woman. Of course, she wasn’t the first line caregiver, but as we all know, when it comes to caregiving…it takes a village, and every person is important, right down to the children. The great thing about Rachel is that she can be counted on to come and help out with anything I ask, whenever he job allows. She also has a tendency to stop by, out of the blue, with lunch and just to visit our in-laws. It is a very sweet thing for her to do, and one for which we are all grateful.

Rachel has a daughter, that she had early in her adulthood. Cassie is quite a bit older that her two half-brothers, Riley and Tucker. Cassie actually got married on June 2, 2010, 10 days before Rachel and Ron. Before long Cassie would find out that she was pregnant, and due on August 3, 2011. Early on in the pregnancy, the doctors found out that something was wrong. This is a time when a girl really needs her mom. While Rachel lived in Casper, and Cassie in Powell, Rachel quickly went into action. Prayers were requested from anyone who knew how to pray, and Rachel immediately began to encourage Cassie and her husband, Chris. On July 3, 2011, one month prematurely, little Lucas Rae was born. While he dose have Down’s Syndrome, and had to have heart surgery, he is now a healthy 8 month old baby boy, who is as sweet as he can be, and who definitely loves his grandma.

Rachel’s life has taken many twists and turns, but because of the awesome person she is, it has all turned out to be a wonderful life. Happy birthday Rachel!! I’m so happy to have you for my sister-in-law. Love you!!

Kaytlyn Machelle was born 4 years ago today, and gets her middle name from her Aunt Machelle. I remember that the first time I saw her, I thought she had very big eyes. Big eyes are always so amazing on a girl, if you ask me. I don’t get to see my grand niece very much, because she lives in a different town than we do. Kaytlyn is the younger of two girls…the granddaughters of my sister-in-law, Debbie and her husband, Lynn.

She is a bubbly little girl with a great imagination. She can create her own little world with her toys, and had a way of getting her sister and her cousins to jump right in and visit that little world too. She seems to think that her cousin, Tucker, who was her friend, before he became her cousin, is her boyfriend. She is a definite flirt, and I’m pretty sure she has her daddy wrapped around her little finger with her big eyes and sweet smile. In fact, I think her daddy has probably lived there from the moment he first saw her.

Most of my acquaintance with little miss Kaytlyn has been through the pictures I have received, which makes it a little harder to really know her, but I can tell from the pictures that she is the kind of child who lights up a room when she is in it. She is a princess, and very girly, choosing bright colors to wear when she has her say. I also think that she has been a sweet gift to her older sister, Jala, who had been an only child for 6 years before Kaytlyn’s arrival. It’s hard to be an only child, I think, but having never been one myself, I can’t really say. Still I think Jala thinks her little sister is just about the greatest. Jala shows a great love for Kaytlyn, and plays along with her little games, even though she is a big girl of almost 10 years.

Kaytlyn is curious, like most children, always wondering about the world around her, and perhaps about the face she sees in the mirror. That face in the mirror seems to be a first friend for so many chidren. They look in the mirror and the face that looks back always smiles when they do, and never looks away. The face in the mirror always pays attention to them, and is loyally waiting for them each time they approach. Can there possibly be a better friend than that baby who doesn’t leave them stuck in the house while the bigger kids get to go outside? No, I think that first friend is a cherished memory for most babies…as well as their parents, because really…who can resist the face in the mirror. Today, little Kaytlyn Machelle is 4 and a little princess with great big eyes. Happy birthday little birthday girl…say hello to the face in the mirror for me. We love you very much, sweetie!!

On February 28th, my oldest grandson, Chris turned 16. It was an epic day in his life. He got his driver’s license, and got to start driving his own car to school, as well as picking up his brother, which they both think is cool. With that license will come driving himself to and from work, and other errands for himself and his parents. It is a great time in a kid’s life…usually.

And it was for Chris too…until today. Chris was in his swimming class today. His swimming teacher wants the kids to warm up before getting into the pool, and so they run relay’s on the wrestling mats that are in between the pool and the bleachers. The mats are there to keep the kids from slipping and spraining an ankle. In theory this might work, but Chris caught his toe on the mat, bending it over, under the rest of his foot, and fell.

Chris figured he had broken his toe, and that there wasn’t much to be done with it. So, he went through the rest of the school day, Wendy’s for lunch, picked up his brother, Josh, and then to work to get his check. The he decided to stop and show it to his grandma…me. We talked about it a bit, and in looking at it, I felt like it might be more than a broken toe, and called his mom, my daughter, Corrie.

Chris was very concerned about going to Urgent Care, because if they had to cast his foot, he might not be able to take his driving final for Driver’s Ed. That would mean a completely wasted quarter, because he would fail Driver’s Ed. That would also mean that he would not get the discounts that go with having completed the course. I tried to reassure him that perhaps they could wrap his foot today and cast it after his driving class, but he still left my office a little worried…both about his final, and his job at Johnny J’s Diner.

Corrie and Kevin, left work immediately and took Chris to Urgent Care. They took 3 x-rays and determined that he had broken the bone that connects his toe to the upper part of his foot. He basically tried to rip his toe off and that caused a half circle break. That was the bad news. The good news is that at least for tonight, he was given a boot cast, which can be taken off for his driving final…whew!! The rest of the good news is that he was cleared to work, since his job doesn’t require heavy use of his foot. That was a big relief to both Chris and his manager.

Chris will still have to go see an Orthopedic doctor, but the news looks pretty good. Chris will have to adapt his driving a little, but I’m sure he can manage that. He is pretty good at adapting to the the changes in his life. In fact, his dad, Kevin took him out in his car tonight to see how it would go, and he did very well. He will still take off the boot for the driving final, but he is going to do ok. Chris is very motivated, because he is one of the top two kids in the class and he doesn’t want to lose his standing. I know he will come out on top of this situation, but all I can say is…what a way to start sixteen.

Becoming a grandmother was such a thrill for me. I had wanted to be a grandmother by the time I was 40 years old, and my oldest daughter, Corrie gave me the gift of a grandchild just 2 months before my 40th birthday, but Christopher was an even bigger gift to my mother-in-law. Christopher was her first great grandchild, but more than that…he was born on her birthday, just as his mother, my daughter, Corrie was born on my mother-in-law’s mother’s birthday and was her first great grandchild. My only regret is that Corrie’s great grandma didn’t live to see that day. She would have been delighted!! She always felt very special to have her first great grandchild be born on her birthday. In fact, it was the first remark she made to me when she walked into my room, and I knew that I had somehow…without even knowing it and never having planned it, given her a gift that would enrich her life as long as she lived. Now Corrie and given that same gift to her grandmother.

When Corrie managed to have her first child on my mother-in-law’s birthday, we were…shocked to say the very least. By that time we had gotten used to Corrie’s birthday being on her great grandmother’s birthday, and the fact that our niece, Machelle was born on her great grandfather’s birthday…same couple by the way, but when Christopher arrived on his great grandmother’s birthday, and it was the daughter of the great grandmother whose birthday Corrie was born on…well, I don’t know the statistics, but I’m sure it’s pretty rare.

The years have flown by since Christopher’s arrival, and I find myself looking up at a sixteen year old young man today, who will get his driver’s license this afternoon. Sometimes it is hard to wrap my mind around that fact. Chris, as he is now called, should still be that teeny little boy who was and still is famous for making the cutest faces. He could always make me laugh. Christopher always had a flair for the comical as a little boy. I can’t believe that he is so grown up…so close to being a grown man. Where did the years go? They went by so quickly.

I am so proud of Chris. He is a hard working young man, who holds down a job, bought his own car, plays football, and studies hard in school. He also helps out in the care of his great grandma, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, and I know that is a little sad for him, because his great grandma doesn’t understand the significance of their relationship anymore. Nevertheless, they love each other, and when she is told about their birthdays…she says she remembers. And, I think she does then. She remembers that she has a great grandson who came on her birthday, and she remembers just how special that is. She remembers how exciting that was. They both know that they are blessed.

Today my grandson, Chris turns 16…that most exciting year of all. He has his car ready to go…a Camaro, of course. He has been working on it for some time with his dad, and now it is all fixed up and sporty…just the kind of car a young man wants to own. The chick magnet that every guy wants to be driving. He is a good driver, and I think he will do wonderfully well on the road. I think his great great grandmother would have loved to have seen this day. Happy birthday Chris, and happy birthday Mom!! I hope you both have a wonderful day!! I love you both!!

There are events in your life that you can look back on and know that they changed your life forever. Things like marriage, motherhood, grandmotherhood, as well as the sad moments like death, come upon you and the world is suddenly just…different…forever. Few things are more exciting in the life of a mom than the day her children have children. I have been blessed to have 4 grandchildren…3 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. They are all the most wonderful gifts my girls and their husbands have ever given me. Each grandchild is special in their own way. Each one is unique, with their own personalities, skills, and ideas. The day each of them arrived changed my life forever, and for the better.

When my first two grandchildren, Christopher, my older daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin’s son, and Shai, my younger daughter Amy, and her husband Travis’ daughter, arrived a day apart, my status changed forever in a matter of two days. It was a whirlwind. I literally spent the better part of those two days at the hospital, witnessing my first and second births ever. I have been going through old pictures and I came across the pictures of my daughters right after giving birth to their first child. Their beautiful, glowing faces filled with awe and wonder as they held the most wonderful gift of God sleeping peacefully in their arms, is priceless. They both tell me that they looked awful, but that is not what I see. I see two beautiful girls who, I am happy to say, God blessed me with.

My younger two grandsons came in fairly quick succession, with Caalab, Amy and Travis’ son, born 17 months after his older sister, and Josh, Corrie and Kevin’s son, born 2 1/2 years after his older brother. So, within 2 1/2 years all my grandchildren would have arrived. It was a whirlwind…and a bit of a culture shock for their grandma, who having had 2 daughters and no sons, was…shall we say, somewhat unprepared for the difference in how girls act and how boys do. Nevertheless, those boys got me broken in pretty quickly, and now I am an old hand at boys as well as girls.

As the 16th anniversary of the day I became a grandmother arrives, I find myself still in awe of the blessings that God has given me. It seems like only yesterday that we were anxiously awaiting their arrival. How could that have been 16 years ago? Where has the time gone? Before I know it, and I know that my girls probably don’t want to hear this, my girls will become grandmothers and I a great grandmother. And just “days” after that, a great great grandmother, because time goes by so very fast that the years seem like days. If was after all, only yesterday the Bob and I were welcoming our beautiful daughters into this world, and also just yesterday that we welcomed each of our grandchildren, so it stands to reason that the next generation, and the next will feel exactly the same way. Yes, time goes by so quickly, but I wouldn’t change one second of it where my kids and grandkids are concerned. I am so very blessed, and I thank God for such wonderful gifts.

As Spring approaches, the minds of many men turn to…well, fishing. And it isn’t just the men either. My daughter, Corrie has already mentioned that she is getting camping fever. I suppose that really is normal for this time of year. Winter has dragged on long enough, and everyone is really over it, and ready for warmer weather. Bob and I don’t do much camping, but we love to hike, and lets face it…walking the mall just isn’t the same thing. So, as we get to this time of year, we can feel spring fever coming on too.

For avid fishermen, spring brings on a pretty big yearning for the open air, the water, and the fishing pole. I have never been one for fishing much, but then again, maybe it would be kind of nice sometimes. I lead a pretty hectic life, and the thought of sitting in a chair with nothing to do but wait for the fish to bite could be just what I need. I know my kids and grandkids seem to really enjoy it.

There are a lot of the other members in my family who love to head out to Pathfinder Lake to see what they can catch. And since I have fished in the past, I can relate to the challenge. There is really something about feeling that fish on the end of the line, and the ensuing fight to bring him in. The minute you feel that first tug, you wonder who will win…you or the fish.

And you don’t even have to enjoy eating the fish to enjoy the sport, because while Corrie’s family doesn’t like fish, they simply supply other family members with a couple of meals that are well received and very much enjoyed. My mom and sister, Cheryl have been the grateful recipients of a weekend’s catch, as have Kevin’s mom and Bob and me. So I guess we can’t say that we mind the fact that they don’t like fish.

As February comes to a close, and March marks the move toward Spring, the minds of sportsmen of all ages begin to think about fishing and other water or warm weather sports. I think that if it is possible, the adults are more excited that their little fishing buddies, for the season to begin. It’s like a breath of fresh air…or the light at the end of the tunnel. Winter is losing it’s punch and with it’s death comes the promise of the coming Spring and Summer…the lazy days of Summer and fishing, camping, hiking, and…warmth…beautiful warmth.

Lots of people follow the crowd…go along with their peers. If all their friends are being negative, rude, or disrespectful, then so do they. Everyone, it seems, is out for themselves. Doing things only if they will bring benefit to self. It seems like it is an “I, Me” world.

Still, there are people out there who specifically set out to be different than the rest. People who set aside their own needs and desires in order to do something nice or helpful for others. They are all around you, whether you know it or not. The man who stops to help someone change a flat tire, the the person who assists an elderly person with mobility problem to get up from a chair that is low, or helps a caregiver to transfer a loved one into the car from a wheelchair when they are not feeling well, and obviously to weak to stand easily.

These people usually remain nameless, because we either don’t know them, or we don’t see them do the nice things they do. Or maybe it is because they don’t do it for recognition, but rather because it is the right thing to do. They don’t do it for pay or for fame, but because they care about people. And they don’t even consider themselves to be heroes…but they are.

The funny thing is that each of us has the potential to be that person…to be different. It is a choice each of us can and must make when the opportunity presents itself. When we don’t look the other way when someone needs help, or when we can simply go out of our way to do something nice. And when we get the chance to step outside ourselves, to put others first, to ease someone’s pain, to give help where it is needed…when we get that chance and we take it…we learn what it is to be different.

A few days before my first two grandchildren were born, my nephew and his wife at the time, had their daughter, Christina. Maybe because of having their birthdays close together, and maybe not just because of that, Christina and my granddaughter, Shai have always been good friends. For a long time, Christina lived in Texas, and Shai was not able to see much of her, but when she moved back to Casper, it was as if they had never been apart. Cousins aren’t always good friends, but it is a little more common in our family, and since Christina and Shai are the only girls near their age, it made sense that they should be friends.

Christina has always been a bit flashy…not unlike most kids her age. Her favorite thing was to dye her hair is wild ways. Her aunt, my niece, Toni was that way. She dyed her hair just about every color in the book. It is Christina’s goal to dye her hair as many colors as her Aunt Toni. While I don’t dye my own hair, and have always liked my natural color, I know a lot of people like to spice it up a bit, and that is their right. Some of her colors have been wild and crazy, while others are fairly standard colors. Either way, you never know exactly what to expect with Christina.

Still, as spicy as she can be, Christina is a very sweet girl, and I love her very much. She lived in Texas for a number of years, and so we didn’t have as much chance to get to know her as she was growing up. When she came home for visits, she often told me that she missed the closeness to the rest of the family. It is something that goes along with living away from the rest of a close family, unfortunately, and it can be very hard on the kids. It’s no one’s fault…it just is. Now, while Christina misses her mom and little brothers, she is living in Casper again with her dad, step-mom, and little sisters and brother on her dad’s side. I know that there are times that she is torn because of missing the other half of her family, but we are very happy to have her here with us.

Today is Christina’s Sweet Sixteenth Birthday…that very special birthday in the life of a kid. Soon she will be driving and the next thing we know she will be graduating. Time goes by so fast. I remember well the day she was born…and it seems like only yesterday. Happy birthday Christina!! We love you!!

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