When my niece, Toni was a little girl, she loved to clown around. She made everyone laugh with her antics. When everyone else was serious, here would come Toni, ready to start the fun rolling…and she had a laugh that was contagious. She might giggle while showing off her favorite boots or some other goofy thing, just to get a laugh out of someone. She was so quick to laugh, and always found a way to pass that along to others around her.
While those days are in the past now, Toni has grown into a beautiful woman. She is sweet and caring. She is one of those people who doesn’t see what a treasure she is. With her kind heart and quick smile, she adds sunshine to a cloudy day.
Toni has a sense of style that brings beauty to he home. I love some of the decorating ideas she has come up with. Some of us have a knack for that kind of thing, and she is definitely one of those people. She creates beauty all around her. I guess that all comes from the beauty that lives inside her.
Life isn’t always easy…for any of us, and Toni has been through some rough times, including when her son James had a serious head injury that could have cost him his life. Toni stood strong in that tough time, and kept James calm…and prayed, because she knew that God would take care of her son…and He did. James is so precious to her. For a long time it has been just the two of them, and James was and still is, her world. Now, she has found love again in a wonderful man…Dave. Life is complete for Toni once again, and I am so happy for her.
Toni has turned into a lovely woman, and one I am proud to call my niece. She is thoughtful and kind. She is a good mom, and good to her mom and grandmother, my sister and my mom. And that smile…well, it is still very much alive and well on Toni’s pretty face. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! We love you very much!!
When my dad was a little boy, he really liked his bottle…but he was a little bit careless with it as he got a little older. It was time to get him off of the bottle, but he was not very interested in that idea. When he got teeth, he started pulling on the nipple with his teeth, and would bite it off, spilling the contents all over the floor. I’m quite sure my grandmother was frustrated beyond words with him.
One day, in one of Dad’s careless moments, he tossed the finished bottle into the wood box, breaking it, because there was no such thing as plastic bottles then. His mother, who was all done with this nonsense, looked into the wood box…then turned to my dad and said, “That was the last bottle…they are all gone.” I can imagine what was going through her mind…and his. I’m sure she was thinking, “Will he cry…for hours!!” And I’m sure my dad was thinking, “Can’t we get another one?” But after looking at his mother, who looked back at him, stone faced, my dad knew that was the end of the matter. He looked sadly into the wood box, and walked away. I’m told he didn’t cry, nor did he ask for another bottle ever again. I think my grandmother was a wise woman.
While he was a good boy who loved his mom and dad, and respected his elders, my dad was still full of antics as he got older. Like many kids who think they are so grown up, sometimes you just can’t tell them anything. Sometimes they just have to learn things for themselves. Such was the case on day when my dad was sitting at the table…leaning back in his chair. The chair kept rocking back on two legs. We have all been there. Our parents telling us not to rock back in our chair like that, but…really, how many of us ever listened. No, most kids know it all…right!
Well, my dad was no different. His mother had repeatedly told him not to lean back in his chair. On this particular occasion, my great grandfather, my grandmother’s dad, was visiting. My great grandparents had immigrated to the United States from Germany, and Great Grandpa still spoke in mixed English and a German dialect. Then the inevitable happened. My dad leaned back a little too far, and the chair went on over. My dad looked up from the floor, to see his grandpa looking down at him and saying, “So Du bist a Oka Mann!”…which translates to, “So, you are a Big Man!” Somehow…I’m not so sure Dad felt very big…nor do I think he thought it was very funny!!
When I first went back to work after taking 13 years off to raise my girls up to the junior high level, I found that there were not many places who were willing to take a chance on me and my abilities. That said, I found myself working at a Burger King as the main day girl, mostly working the drive thru window from August, 1988 to April, 1989, when I was hired by our insurance agent and began my career in insurance. The time I spent working at Burger King, while less than fulfilling, because I was capable of so much more, was interesting and I very much enjoyed working with most of the people I worked with. I spent many hours saying, “Thanks for choosing Burger King. May I take your order, please?” It got to be a habit, and I have never forgotten that greeting, normal I’m sure, when you say the same things for so long.
My girls were in junior high when I worked at Burger King, and as we all know, junior high school girls attract junior high school boys. So began the years of phone calls from those boys to my girls. All that seems pretty normal, and it was, but after a long day at work, answering the phone was the last thing I wanted to do. Nevertheless, on this particular night, I answered the phone when it rang, and immediately fell into my normal routine…”Thanks for choosing Burger King…” At that point my mind completely blanked blanked on what should be said. I stumbled along with, “No…that’s not right…not Burger King…” Finally, I pulled out, “Hello.” After a moment of silence on the other end, a boy said, “…is Corrie there???” Yes, without a doubt, he thought I was crazy…and for a moment, maybe he was right.
That has happened to me several times, I’m sorry to say. I have answered my home phone as, “Farmer’s Insurance” or “The Stengel Agency” and I have even made calls to doctors for my parents, and told them I was “Caryn, with The Stengel Agency.” I guess, we get into a habit, at work of saying certain things when we answer the phone, and and after a while, our mind forgets that we aren’t at work. Whatever the reason, telephone faux pas can be pretty embarrassing for the person who momentarily forgets where they are, and pretty funny to the person on the other end of the line.
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.
When Amy was a little girl, she had a unique way of talking. Her pediatrician said she breathed her words. Basically that meant that drink of water became ink of ata. Most of us would just call it baby talk, and so it was. She has completely grown out of those cute little baby days, but I will never forget all the cute little things she used to say.
There was her Texan days. Instead of saying good night, Amy would say goo naaat. We used to get such a kick out of her funny little way of saying things. We called her our little Texan, which was funny in that she had never been to Texas, much less been there long enough to pick up any accent. And no one we knew had a Southern accent either. Just our Little Texan. There were quite a few of her words that came out with a Texas accent, in fact. In fact, just about any word that had an i turned into an a with Amy.
Her little accent carried over into other phrases too, like the time she told my sister, Alena that she had dot in her eye. Alena said, “You have a dot in your eye?” Amy said, “No!!! Dot!!!” Alena said, “Dot!!” And Amy said, “No!! Dot!!” Well they went on at an impasse for a while, as Alena tried desperately to figure out what Amy’s problem was. Finally in one of those forehead slapping moments, Alena said, “Ohhhhhh!! Dirt!! You have dirt in your eye!!” To which and exasperated Amy said, “Yeah, dot!!!” We have laughed and laughed about that one for years.
Lots of kids have funny little ways of talking baby talk, and in my opinion, they grow out of it all too soon. So many people try to move their kids out of those years into adult speech, because they are worried about the funny little way of talking being permanent. Those years just fly by, and once they are gone, you wish you had recorded the way they spoke, or at least, written down some of it, so you could remember it. Whether your little one breathed her words, or couldn’t quite get the r’s or s’s or maybe t’s, or maybe you were like us…you had a little Texan on your hands. It doesn’t matter, it’s just sooooo cute!
I’ve often wondered why the latest thing to do is take pictures of the shocked look. Everywhere you look online, there are pictures of mock surprise…and they can be really funny. Everyone is going for some variation of that look to see if they can get people to laugh. I remember back when the only pictures of a shocked look were actually real, such as my niece Liz at Christmas when she was a little girl. From the picture you can see that she was very surprised to see what gift she got for Christmas. And you knew it was a real reaction. Maybe it wasn’t the huge surprised look that you see today, but it was much more realistic.
But these days it’s all about the shock factor…and it can be pretty funny. There is the surprised look, the stunned look, the almost tearful surprise, the grinning surprise…and the list goes on. So, why do we take these pictures, which are usually the long arm specials, by the way? I think it is to see what kind of reactions we can get. Or maybe we just like to take pictures of ourselves with different expressions because we are curious as to how we would look. People today…me included…seem to have an obsession with the self portrait, and we totally enjoy every possible variation of it.
Of course, the real goal is to see how many people laugh at your silliness. I always get a kick out of the shocked look pictures, because every one seems to be more outrageous than the last. And people don’t seem to mind having these pictures out there on Facebook for everyone to see, and maybe more importantly to laugh about. And really, when you think about it, who doesn’t need a good laugh…anytime. So much in this world is serious, negative, and stressful, so why not post a picture meant to simply make us laugh, and put us in a great mood. Every time I look at one of these staged shock factor pictures, I can’t help but laugh, and then, go on with my day in a little better mood. And really, isn’t that what it’s all about.
When Christopher and Shai were born, just one day apart, many people thought they were twins…at least those who didn’t know they were cousins. I suppose part of the problem is that they were together much of the time, and people just see two car seats in the back seat, with two babies about the same age, an immediately assume that they are twins. Amy’s mother-in-law thought they were both so cute together, that she bought them a matching set of boy and girl outfits, and asked that we take some pictures with them in the outfits. We made arrangements to have the pictures taken, and did our best to take the picture she wanted. However…the best laid plans do not always produce the best results.
Christopher was always quick to smile, but Shai was a little more…jumpy in those early years. We tried over and over to get both of the kids to smile at the same time, but as is normal with kids, that just didn’t happen. The kids were about six months old, and as we all know, it can be tough to get two 6 month old babies to be happy at the same time. Still, we persevered and took whatever possible shots we could. I can’t say that the picture taking process was a very successful endeavor, but the end result was better than we thought it would be.
The best picture we could get is the one you see, and while Shai is being fussy, the picture has a charm all its own. We have always wondered what the problem was, and many have speculated about it. But, I think by far the cutest one was the idea that Christopher is smiling in that mischievous way because he just pinched Shai, which would also explain her face. I’m sure that at 6 months of age, any pinching that might have happened would be entirely by accident, but the look on their faces is just so classic, that we couldn’t help but think it could have happened just that way…or maybe Shai was just having a bad day. We will never really know what the problem was, but the picture is so precious, no matter what was going on.
Every year during Fire Safety Week, the local fire department holds an event to create better awareness to the hazards of fire, and how to stay safe. A lot of the day is geared toward the kids, because they are new to fire safety. Fire trucks are brought in and the kids…and adults…can get a ride in the big ladder bucket, which is very cool. You also have the opportunity to take a closer look at the trucks, and learn about all they can do. Of course, every kid wants to see the lights and hear the sirens. There are rooms set up to show you how to escape in the event of a fire in the home, and talking about fire extinguishers and such. It is all designed to teach people how to survive a fire.
When my grandchildren were little, and probably also because Bob worked on the fire trucks, we always took them to those things. It made for a fun day, and it’s never too early to teach kids about fire safety. Of course, their parents went to, when they could, and we made an event of it. The kids had a great time checking out all the event had to offer, and of course, there was always food and drinks…a definite plus as far as they were concerned, especially if the food was something good, like cookies.
When they were little, they really didn’t care much about the whole fire safety thing, but the rooms to teach escape were kind of cool!! They showed the places where fires could start and had the necessary equipment for escaping in them. There were instructions for the kids that could read, and people to help , or the parents could help the little ones. The whole place looked to the kids like a big playhouse. So they took their time playing in there, and that is when a discovery was made…
I know that you thought you knew exactly how the old Christmas story goes, but all these years I think you may have been wrong. We have all heard it…the story about Santa Clause coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve, bringing toys to all the good little girls and boys…but you have it all wrong. I know that for a fact, because there in that little fire safety room, we discovered that it wasn’t Santa Clause than comes down the chimney at all, but rather it is Christopher Santa Clause that comes down the chimney with all the toys. No seriously…it is…just look!! See…you just thought you knew…
As a young bride, I wanted to be the best wife ever. I suppose that is what all young wives what to do. So they go out of their way to please their new husband. I was no different. Bob went to work at 5:00 am, so I got up at 4:00 am and made him a nice breakfast of all his favorite things. Bacon, eggs, hash browns, and pancakes, with orange juice and coffee, a breakfast fit for a king, or so I hoped. Going out for breakfast was one of the things we really enjoyed doing when we were dating.
For months Bob faithfully ate his breakfast every morning before he left for work. I then went about my day of cleaning and planning his dinner. I was in Seventh Heaven. Our life together was shaping up to be a “happily ever after” kind of life.
We went on like this for months. I was tired, getting up at 4:00 in the morning, but I was doing it for my man, and I knew that I could always go back to bed when he left for work. The main thing was that I knew that he went to work feeling full, well cared for, and most of all, loved. And he did feel those things, without a doubt, but there was something else he was feeling. Something I didn’t know about. After such a big breakfast, so early in the morning, Bob would go to work feeling so over full that it almost made him feel sick…even though the food was good.
Finally, after months of dealing with this problem, and not wanting to hurt his new wife’s feelings, Bob couldn’t take it any more. I remember him telling me that he needed to talk to me about something. Of course, as a new wife, I didn’t want to hear that, but I agreed. Bob…carefully choosing his words…told me that he simply couldn’t eat breakfast that early in the morning…it made him feel sick. He was so apologetic, and I could tell that he felt horrible telling me that.
What he didn’t know, is that I really hated getting up at 4:00 am to cook breakfast. I felt tired all day. I had never really been a morning person, although I learned to be later, but at that time…no way. I told Bob we really needed to talk more, and we both laughed about a what a funny situation that had been. I guess it was all about learning to communicate.
My parents had 5 daughters…and no sons. I’m sure that the early years were the same as they are in most homes, but with each additional daughter came a little less control for my dad. Now don’t get me wrong on that word control, because my dad was the boss. If we got to be too exasperating for Mom, her big threat was Dad, and while Dad rarely had to spank us, just knowing that he would was enough to make is behave ourselves.
The type of control I’m talking about is a little different. Being the only man in a houseful of women, especially when there are 5 daughters, means being seriously outnumbered. Imagine vying for the bathroom…and we had only 1 by the way…against 5 teen and preteen aged girls trying to get ready for school. I’m sure you get the picture. If Dad wanted a shower, he had better get it before 5:00 am, or he was most likely out of luck. And if he needed to use the bathroom…well, it might be easier to go somewhere else, or should I say quicker.
These kinds of things continued for most of Dad’s life. He always had to be the one to kill the bugs…especially the moths, which put his little princesses into screaming fits, instantly. We made him get up in the middle of the night while camping to “put another log on the fire” to keep the bears away…never mind the fact that we were inside, and the bears couldn’t get us anyway. I’m quite sure he watched more chick flicks than he ever wanted to as well. Nevertheless, Dad took it all in stride, allowing his girls to feel like princesses…with chores, of course…but still princesses. He gave in to the girlie side of his girls, and probably spoiled us pretty good. The house was filled with dolls and kitchen sets, tea sets, and cribs…all the things we needed to play house.
Later came the waiting on us to finally get ready so we could go somewhere, because we all know that it is impossible to leave the house without our makeup…and I mean it!! Dad knew quite well, that he might just as well sit down and read the paper, because he would have time to read the whole thing. I am reminded of the Brad Paisley song, “Waitin’ On A Woman” when I think of all the times my dad waited patiently for his girls to all get ready.
When there is one person, male or female, who happens to be the only person of that gender in their household, and they find themselves seriously outnumbered, yet they manage to keep their wits about them, I can’t help but think back on everything we put my dad through over the years. It occurs to me that they might just be a saint…or else they have just resigned themselves to the inevitable.