Grandchildren

Some people have such a wonderful way with children that they seem ageless. That is the way Bob’s great grandma was. When we went to visit her in Yakima, Washington, when Corrie was just 15 months old, and Amy was 4 months old. Corrie and her great great grandma had such a connection. It didn’t matter that there was an 88 year difference in their ages. Grandma understood Corrie, and Corrie loved her very much. The chair she gave to Corrie was part of that connection they had. Grandma saw that Corrie would cherish the little chair, and her instincts were correct. It has been a treasure to Corrie.

Grandma truly was a timeless person. So many people who are in their 80’s and 90’s, have little tolerance for the silliness of children, but Grandma was no ordinary person. She loved life, and the people in it…especially her little great great grandchildren. And she was so full of life. She was one of those people whose age is hard to guess, because they are so much younger than their years. Grandma lived alone for the 8 years after Grandpa passed away, and prior to that, they had lived together in their own home, with Grandpa doing the maintenance on the house. They were both amazing people. Grandpa was 93 years young, and Grandma was 96 years young when the left us, but they weren’t feeble and weak. They lived their lives fully right up until the end.

When Grandma was 93, her son Frank and his wife Helen brought her out for a second visit since the birth of her first great great granddaughter, Corrie was born. Even though they had not seen each other. 4 years, and it is hard too say just how much Corrie remembers of that visit, but the connection between her and her great great grandmother is very obvious. Grandma and her little great great grandchildren were all having a wonderful time together.

It would be a short 4 years later when Grandma went home to be with the Lord on February 10, 1984, but the influence she left behind for all of her family was huge. She was a woman who took an interest in life, both past and future. It was Grandma that gave me a good start on Bob’s side of the family history, and not just it’s people, but the history of things too. Sometimes it is the history of things that brings home the history of people. Those were the stories that Grandma told me on that visit, and looking back now, I can see that what she was doing, was passing along our heritage…just like she did for her grandchildren, to the best of her ability, even if they don’t remember much of it. We do, and we will keep it and her alive, to pass on to those little ones, now grown.

When he was little, Christopher liked to copy those adults around him. That might mean that you would find him helping his mom with the laundry, which always included removing all the clothes from the laundry basket and climbing in himself. Or you might find him helping to babysit the younger boys. Christopher was always a helpful little boy. He was also very curious. Not only did he want to help with everything, he wanted to know about everything. It is a curious world, you know.

So no matter what Corrie or Kevin were doing, there was Christopher right in the middle of it all, lending a helping hand…even if that meant he had to crawl into the dryer completely to get the clothes out. He liked the work his parents did. It seemed like play to him, and he knew it must be something important, or his parents wouldn’t be doing it. It makes sense…right!!

Christopher, like most little kids, really just liked to mimic his parents. That is how they learn things. Kids develop their sense of self from their parents and grandparents. They are their first role models…or the lack thereof in some cases. Which is why we all need to do our best to teach them the right things to do.

And on that note, we come to what Christopher learned from his grandparents. Before Bob and I got our loungers, we had a couch with a coffee table. The only way to relax and put your feet up was to put them on the coffee table. Yes, our parents taught us not tuo put our feet up on the table, but we are grown up and this is our house right…right. We never really gave the whole thing much though for another. As time went on, we soon found out how much the things we did influenced those little people who were always watching and listening to what we said and did. One day when Christopher was over, he was relaxing with his orange juice…and, wanting to be just like Grandma and Grandpa, he decided to put his feet up on the coffee table while he relaxed. Well, as you can see, it was a bit of a stretch, but he managed to pull it off.

As a little boy, just learning to walk, my grandson, Caalab reminded me so much of his mom. Amy took those first teetering steps…about two of them, and from that point on, she ran. She didn’t have time to walk…she had places to go. Caalab was just like that, with one small exception. When Amy started walking/running, I found that getting those cute pictures of the baby plopping down on the ground because they couldn’t balance very well yet, were next to impossible. Amy just didn’t fall.

Caalab on the other hand was a fall waiting to happen. It wasn’t because his balance was off or anything, but rather because he simply got ahead of himself…or should I say, ahead of his own feet. When Caalab wanted to get from point A to point B, he always felt that doing so as fast as possible was the way to go, and in his mind it seemed like a good plan. But, as is often the way with plans…they just don’t work out quite like we saw them in our heads.

When Caalab would start across the room, his upper body was always way ahead of his feet. So much so, in fact, that it wasn’t that it was so far to fall that concerned us, but rather what was going to hit first. As you might have guessed, it was usually his head that hit first, and with uncanny accuracy, as if he was aiming for the sharpest corner in the room, or the decorative handle that might do the most damage.

It wasn’t that Caalab was clumsy, because he definitely isn’t, and really never was. Caalab was just in a hurry. He wanted to see everything, go everywhere, and do everything…now!! He would get so excited, and even though he had run into things head first before, he would still take off at break neck speed, and the next thing you knew, there he was…sporting a new bruise or cut…usually on his forehead. These little boo boo’s were the direct result of head meeting stationary object…always followed by very loud screaming and crying from little boy. Every time there was a new boo boo, I could almost feel the pain, but once his little boo boo was bandaged and/or kissed, Caalab was all better, and off again.

Thankfully those early walking years gave way to the years of far fewer bruises. Caalab learned how to keep his feet caught up with his head. He is still in a hurry a lot of the time, but we don’t have to consider a full time football helmet for him anymore.

My husband, Bob has a habit of sweeping the snow into a pile in the street in front of where we park our cars. It is a really nice thing to do, because it means I don’t have to wade through the snow to get into the house. It also creates a large pile of snow beside the curb in front of our cars…especially when it snows a lot.

My grandkids have been known to get silly around snow drifts…natural or man made. Throwing each other in the snow, or throwing themselves in, are common occurrences. But then these things are not unusual for kids and snow. And of course, the kids aren’t the only ones involved in the snow day fun. Their dads love to be the ones to throw those kids in the snow…and the funny thing is that the kids are begging their dads to throw them in the snow drift.

The other day as Bob and I were going out to our car, he pointed to the pile of snow and said that some kids had walked right through the middle of it. He seemed irritated about it, but it struck me as something totally different. Why is it that kids will leave a completely clear sidewalk to go traipsing through the snow? It doesn’t matter that they don’t have snow boots on, they do it anyway. There is just something about that pile of snow sitting there that calls out to them, just like rain water running down the gutter…they can’t resist.

As we got in our car, and started to drive away, I could picture several little kids walking along, and then they see the pile of snow. With one accord, the kids head for the pile of snow. Maybe they just want to be king of the hill. Or maybe they wanted to see if they would sink. I could see me as a little kid doing the exact same thing. I didn’t care, back then, if my clothes were soaked from playing in the snow. Clothes will dry, after all, and what kid worries about catching a cold, or dripping on their mother’s carpet. Those are matters to be worried about after they happen. Mom loves you anyway, and she will only be mad for a while, and catching a cold meant that you got to stay home from school…a prospect that almost made being sick worth it…provided you didn’t feel too ill to enjoy the stolen day off, and that it didn’t drag into the weekend.

Yep, there is just something about a pile of snow, natural or man made that calls out to you. “Come and play. That’s why I’m here, you know.” What kid can resist?

Sometimes in life, we get the opportunity to interact with nature is ways that are unexpected. Most of the time wild animals, want nothing to do with humans. We are the enemy, and they know it, but once in while, you find a situation where the animals have learned to trust humans. Such was the case when my daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin took their son, Christopher to Denver with Kevin’s parents. Christopher’s other grandma helped Christopher to feed the geese some bread, and the geese loved it. Now, knowing my grandson like I do, I know that he was laughing with pure delight as the geese come up to him and took their dinner from him. Christopher has always loved animals. And when something got him excited, his laugh was amazing. I can just imagine the excitement he must have felt.

Some people have more chances to get to know nature up close and personal, like my good friend Becky, who lives on the mountain with her husband, dog, a number of deer and wild turkeys. The turkeys don’t allow her to get too close, but the deer are very brave. They will come right up to the camera…just to see what it is, even sticking their nose right up to it sometimes. Becky is treated to a side of nature that most of us never get to see. And, as she continues to live on the mountain, the deer will get to know her better. This picture of one of Becky’s favorites, Buddy, has him eating out of one hand while she took the picture with the other hand. She was nervous, but Buddy was a gentleman, so all went well.

Even in town, we have been treated to situations where nature and humans can interact. I know, because I have deer that come into my back yard often throughout the year. They are relatively unafraid. We can walk around the yard while they are there, and unless we get too close, they just watch us with curious interest. Maybe they, like we, each wonder what the other is all about. We aren’t too sure how close we can go, but we would love to be able to get really close…we just don’t know if we dare. Should we take a chance on a wild animal trusting us enough to allow us to get close? Most of us will take that chance. That’s why we feed the geese, deer and turkeys, and even the squirrels, like the one who bravely climbed up my grandson’s pant leg, until he realized he was very close…and then he ran. Those moments are special, and maybe even a little unnerving, but that’s what getting close to nature is all about.

My second grandson, Caalab is good at sports. He plays basketball and football, but they really aren’t his first love, though he is a good player in both sports. Caalab has several artistic qualities, as well as being a great comedian. Caalab has been taking guitar lessons at school for several years, and is quite good at playing the guitar. He loves it when he and his dad can jam together.

Recently, Caalab has discovered that he is quite good at drawing. He was goofing around one day and decided to try to draw his favorite Disney character…Pluto. So he started drawing, and it came out perfectly, as you can see from the picture here. Now I don’t know about you, but I have tried to draw, and it was a disaster. You know, those “Can you draw this” contests…well, the answer for me is “No, I can’t.” One thing I’m definitely not…is an artist.

Caalab has some real talent…in several areas. He can do anything he chooses to do. Of course, like most kids his age, he is keeping his options open. Meaning that he doesn’t really know what he wants to do for life yet. His dad works in radio, and Caalab could easily go into radio too if he wanted, and with his quick wit, he would be good at it. He could go into music or art or be a comedian. Very few people can come up with the funny stuff that Caalab can. He can always make me laugh. And he never forgets a punch line. Most of us have forgotten the punch line and and stumbled around with several “um, um’s” before finally given up on telling the joke. But not Caalab. He has been telling jokes since he was 4 or 5 years old. He’s really good at it, as he is at several other things.

Caalab’s choices are many, and time is on his side. I know he will be good at whatever he chooses to do, but for right now, I think I’m glad he isn’t ready to go out into the world just yet. Like my other grandchildren, Caalab is growing up so fast, and I am not ready for him to be all grown up. When you first have grandchildren, you just don’t think ahead to when they will be grown, but that time comes all to fast, and I would like to slow it down some.

While his older brother loves football, Josh’s game is basketball. Chris was good at basketball too, but it wasn’t really important to him. Josh loves the game. And Josh is suited to the game too. He is tall and slender, and very quick on his feet. He has learned so much, this season especially. Maybe it is partly because he has a really good coach, but I think that he is coming into his own this year. He isn’t afraid to shoot the basket, like he sometimes was in the past. He knows he can do it now. Also, he is tall enough to rebound well, and steal the ball easily.

His team is undefeated so far this year. They are a formidable opponent for any team. Their coach has taught them well, and they operate as a team. They don’t care who shoots the baskets, only that each player has done his best and given it his all. That is was teamwork is all about. Each of the boys supporting the others…watching their backs. That is what I see in Josh and his team.

Josh is one of the taller boys on his team, so it makes him one of the better guards. It is very hard to shoot over him, and very easy for him to block the shots. I am amazed at how quickly he moves and how immovable he is when he is guarding. The more he plays the better he will get. Of course, that is the same for most sports. If you are dedicated and you practice, you can get better at the sports you love.

I have seen such growth in Josh this year…in more ways than just sports. Oh sure, he is still a bit of a jokester, and he loves to pick on me…and other people, including his mom, but he just seems more grown up now. Maybe I notice it more with him because he is the youngest of my grandchildren. It’s easy to always look at the youngest child or grandchild, and think they will always be the little one. Then one day you look at them and you suddenly see them for the young adult they are. It can be quite a shock. When my grandchildren started arriving, I thought they would be little for a long time, but now suddenly they are all teenagers, even this youngest one that I have most recently discovered in no longer little, but a formidable opponent.

As kids, we all thought snow was the coolest thing. We couldn’t wait for it to start so we could go out and play in it…provided it wasn’t a school day. If it was a school day, we all hoped that it would come down so hard that school would be cancelled. Funny how if you were in school and it snowed, you thought it was great fun to have indoor recess, but if school was out, you couldn’t wait to get outside to play. And it didn’t matter if it was early in the day or late at night, snow simply called for playing outside. It called out to you…”Come and build a snowman with me!!”

And once you got the snowman built…if you were blessed with a block full of kids, you were all set for a snowball fight. Of course, the first thing you needed to do is build a fort. You needed a place to hide from the incoming snowballs, because we all know what happens to that poor person who gets caught with out some form of cover. That person is really in a lot of trouble, because very soon, the snowballs are going to start flying, and they will not show mercy. It is nothing personal. It’s just the way the game is played. Survival of the fittest is the name of the game. Of course, it’s even more fun if that poor victim of the attack is your mom or aunt.

There were always so many ways to have fun in the snow when you were a kid. One of the most fun, of course, was throwing someone else in the snowbank…preferably a girl right. And when you get your three grandsons going against your only granddaughter…well, she is going in the snow. Even if she doesn’t want to mess up her hair and makeup, because she is going to the mall. Shai was a good sport when her cousins Chris and Josh, and her brother Caalab threw her in the snow, and rubbed snow in her face.

For kids, snow days are the best part of winter. Hoping for a day off from school to hang out with your friends and cut loose a little. And in my opinion, it’s just as well that we like snow when we are kids, because many of us really don’t later on. Maybe it’s the driving in it, or maybe we just get more thin skinned as we get older. My idea of a good thing to do on a snow day…sitting in front of a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate, and reading a good book on my Kindle. Oh yeah!! That’s what I’m talking about.

When I look at my granddaughter, I see a beautiful girl, who is bubbly and very cool. She has changed through the years, but she has always been beautiful. Many people have told me that she looks like me, and maybe she does, but she is far prettier than I am. Still, I see some things about her that do look like me. Sometimes, you have to look back on things to really see them. Recently Shai took a picture of her and me, and pointed out that we have the same eyes. I hadn’t seen that before. They aren’t exactly the same, but they are close…except when she smiles, her eyes take a little upward turn on the outsides, that is so pretty.

I had been told that my daughter Amy, Shai’s mom looks a lot like me and looking back on her pictures, I can see that too. Amy looks very much like me in the face, but with her blond hair, it is a little harder to see, for some reason. I had thought that my daughter, Corrie looked like me, but in reality, she looks much like my mother-in-law, and the only reason I thought she looked like me was her hair color. Perhaps, that is why I thought people saw similarities between Shai and me. Shai’s hair is brown like mine, and our coloring is the same, so looking at the pictures, it’s easier to see the similarities. Still, I did not see them until, I looked at the picture Shai took. Then, as with Amy, I could see that we do look a lot alike.

When you have kids, and even with your grandkids, you always want them to look a little bit like you. I guess it is just human nature…the desire to reproduce another person who looks a lot like you. Maybe it is a way of connecting with our children and grandchildren forever. Or maybe I have had this on my mind because I have been researching our family tree. In doing so, I have seen many faces. Some that look like people I know, and some who don’t. The similarities can be in sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, children, aunts, uncles, and even cousins. It is quite interesting to see. So often, it takes someone who never knew the people involved to really pick out those similarities.

Still, sometimes when I look back on those old pictures, I am very surprised. I was going through my old pictures from when my grandchildren were real little, I found this one of Shai and me when she was just a little girl. It is one of my favorite pictures of the two of us, but as I looked at it, it occurred to me that Shai has a smile like mine…just like mine, in fact. I find that simply amazing.

Being born 1 day apart and spending much of there early lives together, my grandson, Christopher and my granddaughter, Shai have always been close. I don’t say that they have never have those boy/girl germs type of days, but for the most part they were always good friends, as well as cousins. They were so much alike they were like peas in a pod.

Since my daughter, Amy took care of both her daughter, Shai and her nephew, Christopher, they were almost like twins. They played together daily, and even though they were boy and girl, they were close. They had a way of being a laugh a minute with all their antics. Of course, they could also get into their share of mischief too. And they kept Amy quite busy with all the little stunts they pulled. Everything from making a mess of the house, to picking on Shai’s little brother, Caalab. By the end of the day, Amy was the one who needed a nap.

It was always interesting when these two kids got together. They lways had some secret little plan to torment the younger boys, or sometimes the boys decided to torment Shai, so I guess the younger boys have exacted some revenge. But, whether it was playing clubhouse at grandma’s, or tattling on each other, there was never a dull moment.

Recently during our annual photo session for Christmas pictures, we allowed the kids some time to do the goofy picture things they had always wanted to do, Christopher and Shai decided to take a few moments to re-live some of those silly times and capture it all in pictures. The results were really quite good, I’m sure you will agree. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in this case, I would have to agree. These pictures are funnier than words can say, but with this bunch you never know what to expect…except that it will be quite funny.

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