Humor

My grandnephew, Ethan Hadlock is a sweet boy. He is always ready to hand out the hugs to all the people he cares about. Ethan is the oldest of my sister, Allyn and her husband, Chris Hadlock’s grandchildren, and the only boy, so he is pretty protective of his little girl cousins, Adelaide Sawdon and McKenzie Moore, and his sister, Aurora Hadlock. It’s what being the boy in the family is all about. Ethan has a soft heart and it shows in everything he does. Ethan turned 9 years old today. I have a really hard time thinking that he could possibly be 9 years old already. He is a good student and works really hard in his classes. He is a really great reader, and he has been known to practice his reading on his little sister, so as he practiced, and she got to hear the story. She is learning to read too now, so I don’t suppose he has to read to her much these days. Ethan is such a kind boy that he won the Kindness Award at his school.

Ethan has lofty goals for a boy in the 3rd grade. He has decided that he wants to be a Marine, so he can kill bad guys. I never would have expected the Marines, but his desire to fight crime and terrorism is not surprising, because Ethan’s grandpa, Chris Hadlock is a retired Casper Police Department Lieutenant, and his uncle, Jason Sawdon is a Wyoming Highway Patrol Officer. Both of them are decorated, and I know that Ethan is very proud of them. After his time in the Marines, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Ethan become a cop in some branch of law enforcement. Sometimes this kind of thing runs in families, and it almost like it is in their blood.

Of course, Ethan doesn’t spend all his time working toward becoming a Marine. He does have to spend some time being a kid. Ethan, like many kids, likes video games, and his favorite is Minecraft. For those, like me, who had no idea what the game is all about, it is a game about digging (mine) and building (craft). Basically you build buildings, so similar to construction. Maybe Ethan will become an architect. I think he would be good at that too. Ethan is really a kid with a wide variety of interests. I suppose that comes from being such a good student. He has taken the time to broaden his horizons, so to speak.

Ethan has a great sense of humor, and loves to pick on his Great Aunt Caryn, by flipping my long hair on top of my head from time to time, and then pretending that it wasn’t him. When I can’t catch him at it, he just laughs and laughs. I’m quite sure that he uses his teasing prowess on his aunts, uncles, and grandparents too, if I know him. In all, Ethan is probably a normal 9 year old, but in many ways I think he is pretty exceptional. Today is Ethan’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every New Year’s Eve for as long as I can remember, our family threw a party, both for the New Year and for my mom’s birthday, which is January 1. It is our New Year’s Eve Tradition. As I was thinking about our tradition, I wondered about other New Year’s Eve Traditions. So, I decided to research some of them. Wow!! There are some really strange traditions out there. One I found particularly strange was that in Switzerland, they drop a dollop of ice cream on the floor. It is supposed to bring overflowing abundance in the New Year. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think that is strange…and messy. In Spain, it is all about good timing. When the clock strikes midnight, Spaniards try to eat a grape in time with each chime. Those who don’t manage to cram the right number of grapes at the right time face the threat of bad luck for the following year. Be warned, it’s not as easy as it sounds, apparently. Many people practice beforehand to increase their chances of beating the clock. This is serious business from what I read. In Czechoslovakia, they like to look to their future around New Year’s, usually with the help of an apple. The fruit is cut in half and the shape of the core determines the person’s fate. If it’s a cross, mischief is on the way, but if it’s a star, you can expect happiness. Apparently, many New Year’s Eve traditions center around food…including our party, but our party doesn’t have any traditions that involve the food.

Several of the traditions sounded very familiar to me, because they are traditions I have grown up with. Many places celebrate with fireworks on New Year’s Eve. In some places, it is believed that the noise and light from fireworks and sparklers would scare away bad spirits, not something I believe in, but some people might. At our house, midnight means that it’s time to “beat the pans.” It’s something we have done since I was a little girl, and a tradition that my sisters and I would not change. It reminds us of our parents, and makes it seem like they are there with us on that special night each year. I do think that my parents might be surprised to find out that their tradition, that they made up, is one that is also tradition in Iran…I was very surprised.

A couple of traditions were, strange to me. People in Buenos Aires, Argentina, have an unusual tradition. On the last day of the year they shred old documents and papers to symbolize leaving the past behind. Around noon, on New Year’s Day, people throw the scraps of paper from their windows all over the city in a shower of confetti. Out with the old and in with the new, I guess. I hope they never need those documents. As strange as that tradition was, the winner of the strangest tradition on Earth…in my mind at least it the one celebrated in Peru. The last day of December…New Year’s Eve, is the day of the Takanakuy Festival. The Takanakuy Festival is the craziest festival I have ever heard of. The Takanakuy Festival, is the fighting festival. Every year people of Peru have a fist fight to settle their differences. Can you imagine a whole town fighting in the street? They then start the year off on a clean slate on New Year’s Day. I guess then that it must be illegal (or at least, in very bad taste) to be mad about anything or at anyone that you had a fist fight with the day before. Now, I think that the tradition of not carrying any arguments into the new year is a really good one, but I know that I would not want to have to go through that whole fist fight part of the festival. Nope…I sure wouldn’t.

My great grand niece, Izabella Siara Harman is a sassy little two year old…and that information comes straight from her mom. Belle as we all know her is the middle child of my grand nephew, Jake Harman and his wife, Melanie. She is the image of her daddy, and her mommy tells me that she is a sassy girl. At two, kids are learning to talk and repeating everything the adults around them are saying, and Belle is no different. In fact, it is the new words and phrases that she is saying these days that have totally convinced me that this is a sassy girls for sure. Belle’s latest sayings are things like please, thank you, no, sissy, and brother, of course, but then you get to the sassy things, like “are you kidding me,” “shut up,” and my favorite, “don’t freak out.” Yep, she’s a sassy girl!!

This little girl is a girl after my own heart…and the hearts of her grandmother, Chantel Balcerzak, and her aunt, Jenny Spethman, because she loves shoes…all shoes. Now if you ask anyone who knows the three of us, they can tell you that we love shoes too…boots, sandals, tennis shoes, heels…shoes!!! That’s our little Belle to a tee. For anyone who has ever loved shoes, Belle’s love of them seems perfectly normal. Seriously…this little girl could grow up to be a girly girl.

Belle loves being a big sister, and she is very helpful to her mom, with her little brother, Jaxx. She feeds him his bottle, and gets him toys, and doesn’t even mind helping with diaper changing. I guess if you start a kid out early, they don’t get grossed out by stuff like that. Of course, Belle lets her big sister, Alice help too, when she gets home from school. Belle thinks Alice is a great big sister. They play together and they love to laugh, and be entertaining to their parents. There really is nothing like the laughter of children to get the whole house laughing. Belle and her siblings are great friends, and I know she can’t wait until Jaxx can get old enough to really play with her. It’s fun to take care of baby, but in the end, it’s lots more fun to run around the house and play with your little brother. I’m sure Jaxx feels the same way too. It’s hard for a baby to watch his older sisters running and playing, and all he can do is sit there getting excited. My guess is that Belle will be instrumental in getting her brother up and crawling, and then walking…simply so he can keep up with the fun.

Belle is growing up so fast, and I love watching all the changes as she grows. She is a sweet little, feisty girl, who doesn’t give up on what she wants. She is sassy, indeed, but with an engaging twinkle in her large blue eyes. When she looks at you, you instantly love this little sweetie. It’s impossible not to. Today is Belle’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Belle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As the youngest brother, sometimes it seems that my grand nephew, Isaac Spethman feels the need to be the wild, adventurous type. His big brothers always seem, to Isaac, to be ahead of him, which is, of course, normal because they are his older brothers. Nevertheless, to Isaac, saying that flag football isn’t as tough as regular football, feels like being called the baby. Isaac couldn’t wait to play football with the big boys. This was his first year of getting to do that, and he did great. He was so happy to be playing real football…finally!!

Isaac’s wild side goes beyond football, however. Isaac love the feel of riding a motorcycle with his dad, Steve Spethman. As far as Isaac is concerned, faster is better. Riding is something Isaac can share with his daddy…when his mom isn’t riding with his dad anyway. Isaac gets along well with all the guys. His brother, friends, and his dad and other relatives. He loves hanging out with the guys and playing airsoft wars. Of course, Isaac was raised around guns. He knows about guns…how to be safe with one, and how to shoot one…well. I suppose that skill would come in handy when playing a game called airsoft wars. Isaac and his brothers love all games that bring out their tough-guy side.

While Isaac is a tough-guy, all boy kind of kid, he also has a softer side, although I don’t think he would admit that to just everyone. When it comes to helping a little mermaid named Aleesia down the dock, gentleman that he is, Isaac takes his little sister’s hand to make sure that she always gets safely to wherever it is that she is headed. Aleesia is the baby of the family and the only girl, so her brothers take really good care of her, while letting her know that she is a little princess in their minds. Isaac, being the child closest to Aleesia in age, seems to understand what it’s like to be the little one, and he just instinctively takes his sister protectively by the hand. I’m sure it made Aleesia feel very safe. And really, what are big brothers for, after all. Today is Isaac’s eleventh birthday. I can’t believe that he is so grown up. Happy birthday Isaac!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Tucker Birky is a funny guy. Being funny comes naturally to Tucker, so much so, that often he doesn’t even realize that he’s being funny. Making people laugh is just a skill that Tucker seems to have been born with. He loves his mom, Rachel Schulenberg, and his step-dad, Ron, and considers him to be is dad. Tucker loves to make his mom laugh every day. He always wants to leave her with a smile on her face, and in her heart. Tucker reminds me a little bit of my daughter, Amy, who used to stick a Chiquita banana sticker on her nose to make us laugh. Tucker has taken that one step further, making funny faces, and even putting a chip clip on his eyebrow. Now I don’t know if that hurt or not, but Tucker smiled right through it.

Tucker also has a kind side. Every morning, he tells his mom what a great mom she is. It is such a precious thing to get up in the morning and have your child tell you that they couldn’t ask for a better mom. Tucker knows that his mom misses his older brother, Riley, who is in Guernsey, Wyoming right now, and he misses him too, so it’s important to help lift his mom’s spirit, and Tucker senses that instinctively. Of course, that isn’t the only reason he tells her that she is a great mom. The main reason is simply because she is. Tucker also knows that his mom misses his older sister, Cassie; her husband, Chris; and their children, Lucas and Zoey, who live in Powell, Wyoming. That said, Tucker is the only kid who is with her right now, and his kind heart is just what Rachel needs to make her smile.

Tucker is a busy guy. He is a straight “A” student. He takes piano lessons, and is getting quite good at playing and has recently memorized his next piano piece. Nevertheless, school isn’t all Tucker likes to do. He loves to ride his bicycle and motorcycles on their property in the country. He loves his animals, and snuggling up with his dog to watch television. Tucker misses his brother, and an uncle who doesn’t live here. Tucker also loves to hang out in his dad’s shop, and help him work on things. He and Tucker are very close, and they work well together. Ron is teaching Tucker the ropes of mechanic work, which is an important thing for every young man to know. In the years since Ron and Rachel have been married, I have watched Tucker grow into an amazing young man. Today is Tucker’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Welcome to double digits!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When I asked my niece, Ashley Parmely to give me some insight about her daughter Reagan, her first words were…”Oh Reagan!” She was not meaning that Reagan was frustrating, annoying, or anything like that. The comment was rather like a reflection on the essence of her daughter’s personality. Reagan is a complex little girl. As her mother said of her, “She is so, so smart, smarter than me. She is always pushing me to be better.” Being the oldest, she has a way of being a “little mom” to her younger siblings…sister, Hattie and brother, Bowen. She loves to help her mom with the younger kids, and she is so kind to them. Reagan’s love for her siblings is a beautiful thing to watch. She doesn’t want them to get hurt or be sad, and she does whatever she can to entertain them, which is also helpful to her mom. Her baby brother, Bowen is her new favorite “responsibility.” She loves to pick him up and carry him around, and just love on him in general, but then who can blame her, because he is after all, soooo cute!! Reagan also loves her parents very much. Since her daddy, my nephew, Eric is sometimes out of town for work, she tries to spend as much time with him as possible when he’s home. She loves to snuggle up and hang out with him.

Reagan is becoming quite a farm hand. She loves their animals, and feels a deep sense of responsibility for them. This makes her a very grown up little 5 year old. She helps to clean out the stalls, and carries 3 to 5 pound flakes of hay, that are usually 2 feet by 2 feet and about 6 inches deep, to feed them. Now, if you’re like me, you probably don’t know what a flake of hay is. It is a section of the original hay bale that breaks away and can be taken to the animal for its dinner. Reagan is not afraid of hard work, and often works very hard alongside her parents or grandparents. And Reagan isn’t afraid of anything, but thankfully she is wise enough to make sure a snake is safe before she decides to be friends with it.

With all of her grown up qualities, it can be hard to believe that Reagan is, nevertheless, a little girl of just 5 years today. She loves to ride her bicycle, and drive her little motorized car, which she is very good at steering, by the way. She knows that mermaids, Anna and Elsa are real because, as she says, “I met them!” You see, she recently had her birthday party, and she got to swim with the two mermaids. An awesome time was had by all the children, but especially Reagan and her little sister, Hattie. Reagan has a funny side, and she keeps her family laughing all the time. While she doesn’t really like it when her parents tease her, Reagan is learning to recognize teasing, and not to take her parents too seriously. At least, she doesn’t usually cry anymore when they say things like “no we aren’t taking you in with us to dinner we are meeting our other kids.” She just rolls her eyes and tells them, “I do not like it when you tease me.” Reagan is a tough girl. If she gets hurt, she always does her best not to cry and to be tough, but she does have a girly side too. She got her ears pierced two years ago, and just got to start changing her earrings out. That’s a big event, and she is so excited to finally be wearing rainbow hearts. Today is the amazing Reagan’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My dad’s younger sister, Ruth Spencer married a man named Lester Alonzo Wolfe…who went by Jim, and I truly can’t imagine him as Lester. He was Uncle Jim, and he was truly a kid at heart. He could be serious when he had to be, but that was not his real nature. Uncle Jim and my dad, Allen Spencer were good friends, more than brothers-in-law usually are. They were more like brothers, and what one didn’t think of, the other one did!! When the two of them got together, all bets were off. They came up with the craziest things, from antics to dinners. You never knew what they would do next.

Uncle Jim genuinely loved my sisters and me, and as we grew up and got married and had children, he loved our kids, too. He was so much like our Dad in that way. He always loved having kids around, and in response to all of us kids teasing him and cajoling him, he always obliged us by teasing and cajoling back. I suppose that had to do with the kid he was inside. Laughter was not something you saw in him once in a while, it was the norm with Uncle Jim. It didn’t matter where we were, or what we were doing…in the house, outside, on camping trips, or country drives, which we made often when they were in town…he was just so much fun! He and our Aunt Ruth both were, but he and Dad were such big kids themselves, that when they got together, they could relate to our need to have that fun interaction with our Dad and our uncle. They reveled in it, and it made them both very happy. They played well off of each other. Their fun attitudes and ways were contagious! And we all loved it!

Uncle Jim’s nature was good, clean, and fun-loving, and he had a kind heart. He would give us anything we asked for, if he could. If he bought a treat, it was for everyone. If there was a game to be played, everyone could play, and if there was an underdog, he was their champion! No one ever felt left out because of the inability to keep up with the better players, and none of us felt like we wished he wouldn’t do that. I think it taught us to be understanding of everyone…not just the best players. Uncle Jim thought nice thoughts, and then put them into nice actions. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

Uncle Jim’s stories were the best and the most interesting. He could sure tell them, whether they were the truth or some of the great whoppers he told, that we, of course believed. Sometimes I think the whoppers were the best…things like walking ten miles in the snow, barefoot, and uphill both ways. Those were the kind of stories they told us, and we were gullible enough to believe. He could tell a story better than anyone we knew. We loved having Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth come to visit, and they loved surprising us. They often just popped in…from several states away, making popping in a planned event. When they came to visit, it was truly the happiest time for my sisters and me! They brought happiness and fun with them. Whatever our family may have been doing, we gladly stopped doing, for the entire time they were here. We just had fun with Uncle Jim, Aunt Ruth, and whichever of their children came with them.

My sister, Cheryl, who helped me with some of these great memories, the rest of my sisters and I, don’t have one bad memory of Uncle Jim. He was simply a good-hearted man who, though he was married to our Dad’s sister, could not have loved us any more if we had been his own blood, and he always let us know that fact. You don’t often find that in an uncle, and we love and treasure him still today, and always will!! Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Jim.

When I think of forms of entertainment, snail racing is about the furthest thing from my mind, but apparently it is a thing. In fact, on October 1, 1954 a ten year old boy named Martin Witter put his snail team through their rounds at a trial race at his home in Lynwood, California. Martin had formed, what he claimed to be, the only snail stable in the country. Every afternoon the snails were awakened for their trial runs by being placed in the sun. As the sunshine began to penetrate their shells, the snails came to life. On top of the racing snail’s shell, Martin had glued a tiny yoke made from a matchstick. The reins, made of string, were connected to a small simulated Roman chariot constructed from a fish food tin in which the snail driver sits. Speedy, in the harness and Butch, in the “Chariot” beat a neighborhood entry establishing a new track record of 3 feet in 5 minutes…not bad for a couple of racers, who we all know travel at a snail’s pace.

The “World Snail Racing Championships” is an annual event that started in Congham, Norfolk in the 1960s after its founder Tom Elwes saw the same event in France. At the 1995 race the snails set the benchmark time of two minutes by a snail named Archie. The 2008 event had to be cancelled because the course was waterlogged by a period of heavy rain. That was also just days after the death of its founder, Tom Elwes. The 2008 World Championships was won by Heikki Kovalainen and a snail named after a Formula One racing driver, in a time of three minutes, two seconds. The 2010 World Championship was won by a snail called Sidney in a time of three minutes and 41 seconds.

The first official live snail competitive race in London, the “Guinness Gastropod Championship” was held in 1999. It was called by horse racing commentator, John McCririck who started the race with the words “Ready, Steady, Slow”. This is the common terminology for the start of a race. The following year Guinness featured a snail race in their advertisement, Bet on Black as part of their “Good things come to those who wait” campaign. It kind of funny when you think about it. Waiting for the end of a snail race would definitely be a wait. The advertisement won the silver award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and was self-parodied for their “Extra Cold” campaign several years later.

The “Grand Championship Snail Race” began in Cambridgeshire in 1992 in the village of Snailwell as part of its annual summer holiday. The event regularly attracts up to 400 people to the village, more than doubling its normal population. The rules are that you’re not allowed to touch your snail during the race, change snails or doing something that would make your snail go faster than it should. The snail has to win the race on its own.

Sometimes, I find myself quite shocked to think that I could have children who have been married more than twenty years. I know that seems odd, and that I should be used to it, but it just doesn’t seem possible…and yet it is. Twenty two years ago today, my youngest daughter, Amy Royce walked down the isle, and into the arms of the love of her life, Travis Royce. So much has changed since that day. Amy and Travis have two beautiful, grown children, Shai and Caalab, and they all live in the Bellingham, Washington area. Living near the water was always a dream of Amy’s, and Travis has always loved Washington state too, so it’s a dream come true.

I asked Amy if she ever dreamed that they would make it this far, and she said that she always knew they would. She kinda likes him, you know. I can see how that could be. They are very good together, and her latest Facebook profile picture says it all…captioned, “I love this maaaaaan!!” Their love for each other is quite obvious. You can see it in every picture they do together. That is something that really warms a mother’s heart. There is just something about knowing that your child is really loved that makes you feel so good about the relationship choice they have made. And I know that Amy and Travis have both made a wonderful choice…the perfect, made in Heaven kind of love.

Amy and Travis are both very social people, although Amy is a little more bashful than Travis is. Nevertheless, once she gets to know people, she really enjoys socializing. They are also very much alike in their sense of humor. I never really thought of Amy as being a funny girl, but she really seems to be these days. Maybe Travis has worn off on her. It had to be that way, because Travis has always been that way. He loves a good joke, and loves to make people laugh. That laughter is one thing that has always impressed me about the home that Travis created for his family. Every time I was there, I saw it…laughter. It was the norm in their home. The kids thrived on it, and they enjoy a good joke now too. I think that laughter makes a home warm and cozy. And with Amy and Travis, you never knew what they were going to come up with next.

Twenty two years is a long time to be together these days, but when the home is filled with love and laughter, the years fly by. Suddenly, before you ever realized where they had gone, 22 years are in the past. The good news is that they know that they have the rest of their lives to enjoy being together. Today is Amy and Travis’ 22nd anniversary. Happy anniversary Amy and Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Motivating your child to get good grades is a difficult task sometimes. Let’s face it, a child who struggles in school, doesn’t see getting a dollar for each “A” grade, as being an achievable prize. Of course, the goal has to be something the child can do, or they will give up before they start, so for a child who struggles, the dollar might be for a “C” or something. Maybe the goal needs to be broken down by weeks to help the struggling student, or even by assignment. When you have a student who struggles with school, you will pretty much do anything…including treats to get them to try harder to get good grades, because as we all know, a student who excels in school, can almost write their own ticket in life. College and jobs even come easier for them.

With all that being said, I suppose that I will sound like my parents, who like most parents of people my age, walked ten miles to school, uphill both ways, but when I was in school, we didn’t get rewarded for our grades. Maybe it just wasn’t done then, but for us, that was the way it was. So when I hear of paying a child for grades, I have mixed feelings about it. I’m not exactly opposed to paying for grades, because it is the child’s job, after all, and I expect to be paid for my work. Still, by the same token, I would have to wonder if it shouldn’t also be that a poor grade costs the child then. I mean, if I am a great driver, and I get a speeding ticket, I have to pay the penalty too, even if I haven’t had one in ten years. And shouldn’t a child just naturally want to learn things. No, not really. When I was in grade school, history was the most boring subject in existence, and yet today, I research events in history for my stories. I guess that if it is something you really love, you don’t need any motivation, but if it isn’t something you really love, no matter how big the amount of motivation you are offered, it will not make you love that subject.

Still, some people take things a little be too far, in my opinion. Such was the case in a story I read the other day. It went like this: “My elder brother has a son. He has just started school. My brother buys him toys, different devices, and new clothes to motivate him. When I was in my first year in school, he promised me that if I finished school with excellent grades, I would be able to have a tooth made of gold. I was really enthusiastic for many years.” Now, I don’t know about you, but a gold tooth would not really motivate me to get better grades. Still, to each his own. I suppose that to a young boy, a gold tooth might sound like the coolest thing ever…at least for a time. As you read in the story, even that great motivator didn’t do the trick forever.

Like most things, as kids get older, that dollar isn’t quite the motivator it used to be either. Kids, these days, know how little a dollar can buy, and when you think about it, it’s really hard for a kid to stay motivated for nine weeks…just to make a dollar. I guess that if parents are going to use a reward system motivator, they are going to have to keep up with the times, and upgrade that motivator periodically so it will be the study aid they are hoping for. Or maybe my parents had the right idea after all, which was pretty much, get good grades…or else!! And I think I’ll leave that right there.

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