Grandchildren

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.

We knew almost from the very start that our little Shai was a Fashionista. She wanted her nails painted almost from the moment she was born…ok, ok her grandma helped that part out a little, much to her daddy’s chagrin. I don’t think it was really going to matter if her grandma painted her nails or not…this little girl was all girl, and very much a Fashionista. And that is a fact that has not changed to this day.

The other thing that fully describes Shai is born to shop. She likes nothing better than to check out the latest styles, the coolest frills, and of course, the most stylish shoes. Jewelry is a must too, of course, because a girl can never have enough bling. She also likes the hustle and bustle of the mall. It’s not just about shopping, but socializing.

Still, as a little girl…it was a different scenario. Shai had a one track mind. It didn’t matter so much what she was shopping for. The reality was that she was doing what she was born to do. Shop first, fashion second, and third and maybe the most important of all…never use your own money. Probably Shai’s favorite place to shop when she was a little girl was J C Penney’s. One day she was trying to get her mom to take her shopping at J C Penney’s, and Amy said, “No, we don’t have enough money right now.” Well Shai saw that as a non-problem. She wanted to go shopping and she was willing to find a way to make that happen. And, she was sure she had found the answer when she said, “Well…just charge it!!”

Shai has grown up some since those days of simplicity, but she still loves to shop. And she is still very much a Fashionista. In fact, I often find myself looking to her for confirmation on my own outfits. She has a great eye for fashion. If she says I look good, then I know that I do. She would never steer me in the wrong direction. She can always see a fashion mistake. It’s nice to have such a stylish granddaughter. Much has changed with Shai through the years, but she will probably always be a Fashionista who was born to shop.

I went to my grandson Josh’s final game for the tournament today. His team took 3rd. I am very proud of him. Now I know that many people might not think 3rd place is something to write home about, but in this case, they would be wrong. My grandson Josh has been playing basketball since he was in grade school. He played 3 years at the Boys and Girls Club, 1 year for Pineview Elementary School, and this is his 2nd season with Centennial Junior High School.  He is in 7th grade now. Josh has always been what would be called a support man on the team. He can rebound and pass well, but dribbling and shooting were not his best talents in the sport. Still each year Josh has improved greatly, and as he continues to play, I have no doubt that he will be a player the other team knows about very soon.

As I said, this was the battle for 3rd place, and the game was tied at 11 – all, until seconds before the half, at which time the Casper Classical Academy team scored 2 more points. Both teams fought hard that first half. When Josh’s team, The Centennial Eagles, took to the court after the break, they were somewhat rattled. Between the beginning of the half and the 3 minute mark in the 4th quarter, the Casper Classical Academy team had moved their lead to 19 – 17…

Enter Josh!! Kevin, my son-in-law, and Josh’s dad had talked to him for a second or two right before they started back up. He told him to take the shots when he could. Josh got the ball and the key was a mass of players doing their best to stop the score, so Josh dribbled, turned, and shot the ball for a beautiful 3 point basket. The crowd literally went wild, and Josh’s team just about lost it. Suddenly the fire was back in those boys, and Josh’s confidence soared.

It was never that Josh couldn’t shoot, he just didn’t think he could. About a minute later, Josh found himself with the ball again, and this time he didn’t hesitate. He ran, jumped and shot the ball, for a 2 point basket. Moments later, he was again in position to shoot a 3 point basket, but the other team now knew what he was capable of, so they were on him…and they fouled him. Now Josh had a free throw shot…in fact, 3. This had not been a strong suit for Josh either…and he was shaking from excitement and exhaustion I’m sure. Still, he made one out of three shots for a total of 6 points in a game, where before he would get maybe 2 points. Josh was a wild man!!

The score was now 23 – 19, and it was the other team’s turn to be rattled. There would be 4 more points scored by Josh’s team, but the entire team knew who won the game for them. It was the kid who managed to keep his cool under fire and score an amazing 3 point shot to put the fire back into a team that was feeling defeated. It was Josh…and it was his day to shine.

I met the love of my life at the tender age of 17. I worked at Kmart, as did his sister. We were kids, and that is a fact that stands out more and more in my mind every time I look at these old pictures, but age doesn’t always matter. Ours was a love that would last. We knew it…or at least hoped it would. I suppose you can’t really say you knew it, even though at the time you honestly did know it.

The early years flew by in a whirlwind of activity as our family began and grew. We were busy, and I suppose that many marriages struggle at this stage, but we hardly noticed the passing years. We couldn’t imagine being anywhere else or with anyone else. In fact, the thought never crossed our minds. We were just going forward with our lives, being happy, enjoying our kids, and…well, living.

Before long, our girls were in school and our lives were changing again. Back to school night, parent/teacher conferences, field trips, and class parties became the new normal for us. Again we hardly noticed the passing years. We were just to busy with our lives and being happy to notice that time was passing. During the time when a lot of marriages were strained and breaking up, ours remained strong. I don’t try to say that we had any secret formula to keep a marriage strong, because we didn’t. We were older now, but still young, and still we didn’t really know how to make a marriage work. We just moved forward with our lives.

Before we knew it, our girls were graduating from high school, and both were soon married and starting their own lives. Our lives were changing again. Soon we were the grandparents of three grandsons and one granddaughter, the whirlwind of our lives continued to spin. We were so busy enjoying the babies, and enjoying our adult daughters and their husbands, that we didn’t notice the passing years. Before we knew it our grandchildren were in school.

Now, our grandchildren are teenagers, and as I take a moment to look back on the years, I realize that those two kids who met all those years ago had something special, although they didn’t know it then. Somehow their marriage was going to be one that would beat the odds. A marriage of two kids, that lasted a lifetime…unusual to be sure, but not impossible, and sometimes not even unique, as some of my friends can attest…but still, somewhat rare. It is the result of being blessed to find…on the first try…the love of my life.

When you are a little girl, and you are having a really bad day, it’s really nice to have somebody who is always on your side. Very often that person in a little girls life is her grandpa. Little girls have a way of stealing their grandpa’s heart,and when the going gets tough, grandpa is a wonderful ally to have on your side. And the funny thing about those little girls is that it takes them about 5 seconds to get their grandpa figured out.

And it’s not like those grandpas mind being wrapped around the little fingers of their granddaughters, because they don’t. The first time they look at that little face, they are hooked. And when something upsets their little princess, they will do just about anything to make it all better. It’s funny that sometimes young parents can get pretty nervous about why their little darling is upset and crying, but to the grandparents, who have been through all this before, it isn’t a big deal. And isn’t it funny that the older we get the less torn up we get about little ones crying, and the more soothing we can be to the child. Oh I know that doesn’t apply to just every grandparent. Some do have a harder time with crying children as they get older, but in many cases, I find that our focus turns to the child and not the embarrassment at the crying.

That is the type of grandparents Corrie found herself with as a little girl. Grandparents who weren’t bothered by a little fussing, but rather were ready to help her with whatever it took to ease her troubled little mind at that moment. Corrie and all the grandchildren who came after her, have always loved their grandparents very much, and now that they are older, and in need of a little help themselves, it is those grandchildren who have stepped up to give them a helping hand. It is a way of returning the love that was shown to them all those years ago. A way of saying, “Yes, we remember all you did for us, and all the love you gave, and now it is our turn to show you how much we care…how much we love you.”

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?

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