Kids

There are few things in the life of a toddler that they enjoy more than a pony ride on a grandparent’s foot. It is the first type of ride most kids get to take…almost like their first carnival ride. It is amazing that such a simple ride can thoroughly delight a child. It is such a simple thing to do and yet it can give the rider hours of fun…if your leg could hold out that long that is. Nevertheless, the child will continue to as you to “do it again” for hours.

We seem to mimic some of the rides we loved as children in the play with our toddlers a lot. The merry-go-round is done by swinging the child around until they are dizzy and delighted. The airplane is done by lying on the floor and holding the child’s hand while lifting them with your feet into the air. They may not know what we are imitating, because they are too young, but this type of play is passed down from generation to generation.

I remember that JD really loved to get these rides when he was little, and he would ask anyone in the room to give him another ride. Sometimes he would have to go from person to person as one leg or another would get tired, or the adult would get bored with the game. It’s funny how some kids like the pony ride more than others. JD loved his pony rides.

Today, JD rides a different kind of pony…or should I say horse power. JD rides and has raced motorcycles, along with his little brother, Eric. And lets not forget the many cars and pickups that have made their way into JD’s life. He will spend hours working on a vehicle…often into the wee hours of the morning, when he doesn’t have to work the next day. Sometimes, I think he is obsessed with engines, but I suppose that is not all that unusual, given that his dad also loves engines, cars, and motorcycles.

Today, JD has taken on the role of the ride giver with the little ones we have in the family. He is always roughhousing with his cousins, be they little or not. My grandkids have all reaped the benefits of JD’s playful nature…although the adults have wished they would all settle down from time to time. I don’t blame those early rides for all the roughhousing though, because sometimes that is just how a person is. JD is a kid at heart, and I think that as long as there are little ones around him, he will jump right in there and play with them, so…move the furniture back…if you want to keep it in one piece that is.

Kaytlyn Machelle was born 4 years ago today, and gets her middle name from her Aunt Machelle. I remember that the first time I saw her, I thought she had very big eyes. Big eyes are always so amazing on a girl, if you ask me. I don’t get to see my grand niece very much, because she lives in a different town than we do. Kaytlyn is the younger of two girls…the granddaughters of my sister-in-law, Debbie and her husband, Lynn.

She is a bubbly little girl with a great imagination. She can create her own little world with her toys, and had a way of getting her sister and her cousins to jump right in and visit that little world too. She seems to think that her cousin, Tucker, who was her friend, before he became her cousin, is her boyfriend. She is a definite flirt, and I’m pretty sure she has her daddy wrapped around her little finger with her big eyes and sweet smile. In fact, I think her daddy has probably lived there from the moment he first saw her.

Most of my acquaintance with little miss Kaytlyn has been through the pictures I have received, which makes it a little harder to really know her, but I can tell from the pictures that she is the kind of child who lights up a room when she is in it. She is a princess, and very girly, choosing bright colors to wear when she has her say. I also think that she has been a sweet gift to her older sister, Jala, who had been an only child for 6 years before Kaytlyn’s arrival. It’s hard to be an only child, I think, but having never been one myself, I can’t really say. Still I think Jala thinks her little sister is just about the greatest. Jala shows a great love for Kaytlyn, and plays along with her little games, even though she is a big girl of almost 10 years.

Kaytlyn is curious, like most children, always wondering about the world around her, and perhaps about the face she sees in the mirror. That face in the mirror seems to be a first friend for so many chidren. They look in the mirror and the face that looks back always smiles when they do, and never looks away. The face in the mirror always pays attention to them, and is loyally waiting for them each time they approach. Can there possibly be a better friend than that baby who doesn’t leave them stuck in the house while the bigger kids get to go outside? No, I think that first friend is a cherished memory for most babies…as well as their parents, because really…who can resist the face in the mirror. Today, little Kaytlyn Machelle is 4 and a little princess with great big eyes. Happy birthday little birthday girl…say hello to the face in the mirror for me. We love you very much, sweetie!!

A few days before my first two grandchildren were born, my nephew and his wife at the time, had their daughter, Christina. Maybe because of having their birthdays close together, and maybe not just because of that, Christina and my granddaughter, Shai have always been good friends. For a long time, Christina lived in Texas, and Shai was not able to see much of her, but when she moved back to Casper, it was as if they had never been apart. Cousins aren’t always good friends, but it is a little more common in our family, and since Christina and Shai are the only girls near their age, it made sense that they should be friends.

Christina has always been a bit flashy…not unlike most kids her age. Her favorite thing was to dye her hair is wild ways. Her aunt, my niece, Toni was that way. She dyed her hair just about every color in the book. It is Christina’s goal to dye her hair as many colors as her Aunt Toni. While I don’t dye my own hair, and have always liked my natural color, I know a lot of people like to spice it up a bit, and that is their right. Some of her colors have been wild and crazy, while others are fairly standard colors. Either way, you never know exactly what to expect with Christina.

Still, as spicy as she can be, Christina is a very sweet girl, and I love her very much. She lived in Texas for a number of years, and so we didn’t have as much chance to get to know her as she was growing up. When she came home for visits, she often told me that she missed the closeness to the rest of the family. It is something that goes along with living away from the rest of a close family, unfortunately, and it can be very hard on the kids. It’s no one’s fault…it just is. Now, while Christina misses her mom and little brothers, she is living in Casper again with her dad, step-mom, and little sisters and brother on her dad’s side. I know that there are times that she is torn because of missing the other half of her family, but we are very happy to have her here with us.

Today is Christina’s Sweet Sixteenth Birthday…that very special birthday in the life of a kid. Soon she will be driving and the next thing we know she will be graduating. Time goes by so fast. I remember well the day she was born…and it seems like only yesterday. Happy birthday Christina!! We love you!!

When my brother-in-law, Ron was little, it seemed like he would always be too little to help out much with things in the garage, and other mechanical areas of the place they lived. It was a frustrating thing to him to always be told, to go in the house, or go play, or stay out of the way. He wanted to be a mechanic…just like the big guys were.  He was sure he knew how to do stuff, but he just never seemed to get the chance. He did his best to be grown up…even trying to get to be as tall as me…which wasn’t saying much, but somehow struck him as being big at the time. Ron was younger than Bob by 14 years, and the rest of the kids were girls…who as we all know, do nothing that is interesting to a little boy.

As Ron grew up, of course, there began to be more jobs for him to do than he probably wanted to have. That happens with most kids. What seemed like the coolest thing to do in our early lives, is in reality, work, and not fun at all. Still, there were jobs that Ron really liked to do. One of them was moving snow around the place with the tractor. Having driven a tractor quite a bit, I can relate to the fact that it is a fun thing to do. Of course, it can have it’s down side too, as Ron can tell you. One time on Thanksgiving Day, Ron was moving the snow off the driveway, and the tractor got stuck in the snow. Ron stepped up on the tire to try to get it moving, and…well, it moved alright…right over his leg!!

Bob was working that Thanksgiving Day, and my girls and I were running late getting to my in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. When we pulled up, I saw my father-in-law carrying ny nephew Barry, into the house, and several other people were with him. What struck me as odd…the fact that no one said one word to me. I thought, “Wow!! I’m not that late, am I?” The truth was, it was not my 2 year old nephew, Barry that my father-in-law was carrying into the house…it was my 12 year old brother-in-law, Ron, who had broken his leg. How Ron could have looked like Barry to me is still a mystery to me. I suppose it was because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea of my father-in-law carrying my 12 year old brother-in-law.

Needless to say, it was a rather strange Thanksgiving dinner. My in-laws took Ron to the hospital, and the rest of the family ate a rather subdued Thanksgiving dinner without them. When we next saw Ron, his entire leg was in a cast and he was in a hospital room. It was a difficult 6 week for him,because that cast made it next to impossible to walk, but he was soon well again, and has had no ill effects from that terrifying experience…when the tractor went berserk. Happy birthday Ron!! Glad you’re ok!!

My sister, Cheryl was divorced from her husband Rob before their youngest daughter Jenny was born. While divorce is a tragedy, there was a great degree of good that came to Cheryl’s children afterward. They were very young when the divorce took place, and their dad was not a big part of their life after that time. They did have a father figure, however…their grandpa, our dad. Dad was a mentor to them. His continued loving guidance was a major source of stability in their lives.

Dad always saw to it that they got to go on some vacations, and outings to the mountains, as well as drives…a type of outing we all enjoyed. Dad also provided a moral compass as well as help with educational things. Don’t misunderstand me, because they did have their mom, and Cheryl was and is a good mom, but they needed that father figure…someone who could do all the things a dad does with them.

Every one of Cheryl’s kids has told me that their grandpa was the only dad they ever had. Thinking about that I realize how blessed I was to have my dad, because not everyone has that. It’s hard to understand how they felt, because I was never in that position. For my sister’s kids, they had to look to my dad to show them all the things a dad usually shows you. That was not a bad thing for them either. Each one of them has told me about how their grandpa enriched their lives.

It really wasn’t anything so specific that my dad did for them, but rather it was just the love he showed to them…and it was the same love he showed to all his grandchildren, but maybe it was felt a little bit more deeply to them, because they wanted the love of a dad…and they wanted to belong. That is what my dad gave them. A sense of normalcy in their life.

When my dad passed away, each one of my sister’s kids told me that he was the only dad they ever knew. While I can’t pretend to know every detail of what he meant to them. I do know that somehow he impacted their lives is a way that made them feel a connection to their grandpa that was unlike the other grandchildren, even though my dad was very much loved by grandchildren and great grandchildren alike. I believe it was the way he became their mentor, showing them how to live, but living the best life he could as a model for them…as well as for the rest of us. That was the kind of man my dad was.

When you are the younger brother, life isn’t always easy. Your older brother gets to do all the really cool things, while you have to stay home, because you are too little. That’s how Easton used to feel…when he was younger. Easton’s big brother, Weston got to go to school, and even better, Weston got to go to their grandma’s house after school and spend several hours there. Going to Grandma’s house was the coolest place to go…and Weston was the only one who ever got to go and spend time there. It just wasn’t fair.

The really bad thing for Easton was that nobody seemed to understand how he felt, or even know that something was wrong. And worse, he didn’t know how to tell them. It was a dilemma. And since Weston was older than Easton by 4 years it was a dilemma that would be with him for quite a while. Easton realized early on that things were different for his older brother. Weston had a lot more rights and privileges. How could that be fair?

By the time Easton was old enough to understand that not all things are fair, and he was getting ripped off, this situation had gone on a while. Since Easton seemed too little to go the places and do the things his big brother was allowed to do, no one gave any thought to whether or not it was fair…it was simply the way it was. Easton wasn’t old enough. Unfortunately, as often happens with the younger sibling, the family thought of Easton as somehow younger than he really was. He was the baby, after all. It was just too soon for Easton to go to Grandma’s…or was it?

Finally, Easton had taken all of this situation that he could. It was time for him to take action. So, one day, he gathered up all the courage he had, and he told his mom and grandma that he would be a good boy, if he could go to grandma’s house too. The reaction to his little heart wrenching plea, was one of complete shock and surprise. No one had even considered that Easton was feeling that way. But, his courage paid off, because after that day, Easton got to go to his grandma’s house to play too. He was a big boy now!! The day had finally arrived!!

Today that sweet little boy turns 8 years old. No one thinks of him as a baby anymore, but a big boy who know how to be a good boy at his grandma’s house, and how to speak for himself…at least when it is really important. Happy birthday Easton!! We love you big boy!!

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.

As a little girl, Amy was a child of several moods. I was forced to stop letting her take naps by the time she was 2 years old, because while Amy was a happy, giggly, sweet little girl before her nap…it was a very different picture when she woke up from a nap. You simply had to hand her a glass of kool-aide, and stay out of her way for about the next 3 hours. During that time, she kept that kool-aide glass pasted to her face, sipping it slowly, and invariably creating a kool-aide moustache, and glaring at everyone in sight. It was really odd, because she was not that way in the mornings…just after a nap!! So, when she was 2, her nap time ended…as did the glaring, kool-aide sipping aftermaths. I hated to lose my little bit of free time while the girls napped, and oddly, Corrie, who is a year older than Amy still needed and took her naps, but it was worth it to me to lose the free time, if it meant losing the grouchy little girl who always appeared after the nap.

Amy was always a child who knew exactly what she wanted, and she didn’t appreciate it if you chose to disagree with her. Now mind you, she had to deal with a very stubborn mother, and if she and I disagreed on what she should be doing or having, she found herself on the losing end of the argument, because…well, I was bigger than she was, and that was that. Still, she didn’t mind showing your just how she felt about the whole matter. You could always tell when she was really mad, because she would take a hold of one hand with the other, with a pretty sour expression, and then in unison, she would pull both hands to the same side of her little body in a twisting movement that pretty much said, “Don’t you EVER touch me again…in your life!!” Of course, she would eventually get over being mad, and you were soon accepted back into her good graces…until the next time you dared to disagree with her.

And as Amy’s big sister, Corrie can attest, Amy ruled the roost where the girls were concerned. Corrie didn’t stand a chance against Amy’s hot temper. Corrie always was a little more timid than Amy, and soft hearted where her baby sister was concerned. She probably could have taken Amy, if she had dared to try, but she never did, so Amy pushed her around a little bit…until they grew up a little bit that is. Age changes things a lot, because the girls are good friends now.

And sometimes, you really didn’t know that Amy was having a bad day or moment, until she blew up, and let you know. It might be something that would seem minor to most of us, but to Amy, it was a big problem. And while she can’t remember just why she was mad every time, she has come up with at least one explanation, even if it seems a little far fetched to me. She has decided that at least in this last picture…Corrie was stepping on her toe. Sure Amy…whatever you say!!

When my father-in-law is doing something that takes a lot of concentration, he always does it in a certain way. It is something he has always done. It is just  his way of concentrating. There is simply a process, or whatever it is that he is working on will not go together right. I don’t know if sticking his tongue out helps with concentration, or if it is about balancing things. Or maybe it is just like that old saying that you have to hold your tongue just right. I don’t know if this process ever really helped with what he was working on or not, but it was something he always did, and still does. He was the one who started it all…and then passed it down through the generations.

When Bob came along, the traditional method of concentration was passed on to him. He did many things his own way, as we all do, but Bob has always been very much like his dad, both in looks and actions. I remember the first time I was watching Bob work on a car part when we were dating. As he worked…deep in thought about the task at hand, out would come the tongue. And it didn’t just have to be out, it had to move around until it was positioned just right. And as the work changed, so did the tongue. I never could figure out why holding his tongue out helped. It just seemed to be the only way he could work…and have it turn out right. It was his way of concentrating, just as it had been his dad’s.

But, the biggest surprise for me was when I noticed my daughter, Amy had inherited her dad and grandpa’s method of concentration. One day, as I was watching my children enjoy a bowling game that we had given them for Christmas, I noticed that Amy was deep in concentration, trying to figure out how to get a strike, and there it was…her tongue sticking out of the side of her little mouth. It’s funny that you just don’t think about the things that you pass down to your children, until they are doing that very thing that you or your spouse did. So here she was, my little girl, with her tongue hanging out of the side of her mouth, moving it around to get it in just the right position, so that she could take her turn on the little bowling alley.

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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