Humor

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.

My grand niece, Aurora Hadlock is a sweet, slightly bashful little girl, who is a blessing to be around. She is very loving, and always quick with a hug, but don’t let one side of her fool you as to the other side of Aurora, because Aurora has a goofy, teasing, funny side that comes out to play when she gets to know people. Aurora and her mom, Chelsea Hadlock love doing things together, along with her brother, Ethan, and her dad, Ryan Hadlock. It’s fun to go camping on the mountain, and hiking the trails there. Ryan and Chelsea keep the kids busy with lots of fun activities.

This summer, the kids joined the many people in the latest fad of painting rocks and them placing them around town for others to find. The idea is two-fold really. Some people…mostly kids…keep the rocs they find like a sort of free souvenir for the hard work in hiking around to find the rocks. Others, like my husband Bob and me, re-hide the rocks we find, so that someone else can enjoy them too. Its really quite interesting. Aurora and her brother, Ethan had a great time, with their mom painting the rocks, and then setting out to hide them around the trails. Lots of people post their finds on Facebook, in the hope that the artist can see the happiness their painted rock brought to someone else.

Aurora is a girly girl, and she loves her dresses and other costumes that make her feel like the princess she is, but don’t let her girly girl side fool you, because Aurora is her daddy’s girl, and anyone who knows Ryan, knows that teasing comes with the territory. Ryan got it from his dad, and he is working hard on passing it down to his kids. Of course, it’s all in good fun, and the kids aren’t mean about, it, but they are little experts at it. Once in a while the students become the teacher, and for Ryan, that has been the case on more than one occasion, when the kids have decided that it’s time to show daddy their expertise. Ryan is a good sport though, because I’m sure he did that to his dad too. If you are going to tease, you have to be able to take a joke too.

School will be starting next week, and Aurora will be a grown up first grader. She is a good student, who loves going to school, and learning. She loves to read, and especially to play with her friends on the playground, because no matter how good a student you are, recess is still everyone’s favorite class. I can’t believe how quickly our little Aurora is growing up, Today is Aurora’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Most of my friends know that I love shoes. In fact, that is truly an understatement. I have shoes for every need and for every outfit. I have hiking shoes, sandals, shoes for jeans, boots…lots of boots, and of course, heels…of every color, height, and style from low heels to platform heels, and even funky heels. Yes, I love shoes. But there is a line that even I won’t cross.

Over the centuries in many areas of the world, shoe style was really a show of status. And in some countries, the size of a woman’s foot was so important that women would stuff their feet into shoes that would fit a young child. Those women were so intent on making their feet small, that they would perform a procedure on them called foot binding. It is a crazy way of tying the toes in such a way, so as to make a point of the front of the foot. The foot was then bent almost in half to fit in a shoe for a young child. I think every woman would like her feet to be smaller, at least every woman who wears size seven or above, but foot binding is extreme.

I love platform heels, but some styles…both old and new, are ridiculous. When the platform is so high, and made of something with no give to it, or has no heel on it, the woman wearing the heel really can’t even walk by themselves. And believe me, I would need help too, and I’m used to platforms. It’s just that these aren’t platforms. No, they are stilts!! Platforms have been a tradition for a very long time in Europe, clear back to the 17th century, and then they were out of fashion until the 20th century. Really, it wasn’t until Ferragamo reintroduced them in the 1930s that platforms came back in style. In 2009, an exhibition was organized, with an accompanying catalog on the topic of these elevating shoes, titled “On A Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels.” Chopines, which were also known as zoccoli or pianelle, are a platform shoe up to 20 inches high. Of course, those who wore them required the help of servants so that they didn’t fall flat on their face…in the name of fashion. The idea of chopines, besides being a fashion statement, was to protect the wearer’s clothes from street mud. Never mind the servant’s clothes, and really, why did they have to go out in the mud anyway? They were aristocrats, couldn’t someone just carry them on a platform chair, or run their errand for them. Whatever the case may be, I will not be buying a pair of these crazy stilt platforms, should they ever come into style again.

I do love my many styles of shoes, and my platforms are among the favorites, but I draw the line at about a 3 inch platform. Much more than that, and I not only have difficulty walking, but I end up taller than everyone around me, and for me that is just too odd. I am used to being one of the “wee ones,” as my niece Kellie Hadlock calls me, and that’s ok with me. I never wanted to be tall anyway. I’ll let my platforms make me look tall. I’m good with that!!

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