Kids

As we travel this road called life, we all have moments when we need a hug. Sometimes it is because we are hurt, whether physically or emotionally, and we are looking for someone to comfort us in that bad time. Those are the hugs that none of us will get through life without needing at some point, unfortunately, but they are not really the kind of hugs that we can honestly say we enjoy. They are simply necessary.

The kind of hugs that we all enjoy, are the ones that say, “I love you so much!!” Those hugs are so special, and we need them more than any other kind. We all need to know that we have family and friends who love us…no matter what. The first time we feel that love is often from parents or grandparents, and it is the kind of love that shapes our lives forever. Those hugs are so important, and children who do not receive them can be irreversibly warped by that omission. I am so thankful that my family has never been one to withhold hugs. It has shaped the kind of person I am, and my ability to give and receive love from those around me.

Of course, the greatest kind of hug is the kind that comes from the joy of celebration or reunion. The hug you get when you see someone that you haven’t seen in a while. Visiting your grandmother who lives miles away. Love knows no distance barrier. When we would go to Montana to visit Bob’s grandmother every year, the reunions were so sweet. Grandma was such a loving person, and Bob loved her dearly. He wanted his kids to know her, as well as they knew their other grandmothers who lived closer. And they did. Grandma loved her kids and grandkids so much that the miles made no difference…love traveled across the miles to light upon those who were far away from her.

Love can also grow between two people who share a special event, as was the case between my daughter, Corrie and her great grandmother, who she shared a birthday with. They had a closeness that lasted a lifetime and beyond. They shared birthday parties, and reveled in the fact that they shared that special day. Every time they saw each other, it was clear that their bond was forever. Even after grandma passed away in July of 1990, Corrie still feels her memory deeply…especially on her birthday. Sometimes that can be painful, yet bittersweet, because the memories of her love for her grandma, are still so strong.

Every grandma has a love for her grandchildren that goes so deep that it can’t be explained. I have been so blessed by my grandchildren, and I love getting hugs from each and every one. Grandchildren are the continuing blessing that starts with parenthood. The love you give to your own children sets the stage for the love that will come through your grandchildren. What a wonderful continuing saga.

Hugs have been more the commonplace event in our family. What a blessing that has always been. To know that no matter what mistakes you make, in the end, after whatever punishment, there will follow a hug, because love doesn’t depend on whether or not you were perfect. What an awesome way to grow up!! And oh, it was an awesome way. Unconditional love. That’s what I hope I have passed on to my children and grandchildren, and what I hope they too, will pass on to their children and grandchildren…because everybody needs a hug.

It is somewhat rare to be able to take pictures of five generations of a family. Many people are able to take four generation pictures, but five is not always possible. When my two oldest grandchildren were just babies, we were able to get that picture that so many people would love to have. The pictures we took were and are pictures we will always treasure.

Many people think that five generation pictures represent the ability to live long lives, and that is true, but so much more is represented in those treasured pictures. Five generations represents the wisdom of age being passed down from generation to generation, and that is exactly what we did have in our family. Things like the ability to grow your own food in a garden or raise cattle, chickens, and horses. The ability to knit, sew, embroider, and crochet things like clothing, blankets, table cloths, pillow cases, and so much more. It was these abilities being taught by the older generation to the next, and the next, and the next generation. What a blessing to have these things taught to a great grandchild, who can then teach it to their child, grand child, and great grandchild. A child learning from its parent, who learned from their parents, and grandparents.

So much wisdom and knowledge has been passed down this way. In fact, we would not know how to do many things that we know, were it not for the generations the came before us. When I look at these pictures, I remember the things we learned for Bob’s grandparents. From card games played out between ruthless partners, to recipes like Grandma’s Strawberry Rhubarb Jam…which was the best jam I have ever tasted. It’s almost as if the wisdom and knowledge of the prior generation has been entrusted to the next generation to pass on to the future generations. Our grandparents and great grandparents have given us the best that was in them, in the hope that through us, they might live on. It is almost a sacred trust.

Since the time of these pictures, the babies have reached the age of 16, and Grandma has since passed away. Her words, stories, wisdom, knowledge, and especially her love continue to live on in my memory. She was a very special lady, and I only wish my grandchildren could have known her…not just have been in a picture with her. She lived so much of the history they only know from books, and she could have taught them so much. Unfortunately, the miles that separated us from her, made any real relationship with her impossible during their early years, and before they were old enough to remember her much, she was gone. She passed away on March 28, 1998, just 2 years and one month after the birth of those babies. I just hope that the things she taught her son, my father-in-law, who taught his son, my husband, can be remembered by his children, my daughters, to pass on to their children, my grandchildren, and to their children, and their children, and on into the generations beyond.

With summer comes the need to keep cool. Kids have the unique ability to set aside things like concern over wet clothes or ruined makeup. They simply don’t care about those things. If given the chance, they will run through the sprinkler, clothes or bathing suit…it just doesn’t matter. And, who needs to ask for permission every time? Just tell mom that you were walking by and simply got wet…yeah, right!

Why is it that something that brought such pleasure as kids, seems to be something that we cringe at as adults. Just getting caught in a sprinkler or rain storm as an adult sends us running for cover, but as kids we relished the chance to do the exact same thing. And, as adults when we get caught in that situation, it doesn’t matter how hot we are, that water feels so extremely cold! What has changed? We are the same person…only older! I don’t get it.

As kids, all we can think about is finding a way to get out of the heat. Even end of school picnics can incorporate a type of sprinkler. How do you cool down an entire class of kids at the same time? You call in the fire trucks, of course. Now I wouldn’t want to be hit by a fire hose head on, because it would seriously hurt!! But, you spray that same hose into the air, and it becomes some of the coolest “rain” you ever saw. It becomes just like a downpour!! What better way to soak an entire class of kids!!

And of course, there is still the more conventional way of cooling off…the back yard pool, or as it is with little kids, the wading pool. It is in the wading pool that many kids find that you don’t need the water to be deep necessarily, just cold. Add a few toys, and you have an afternoon of cool fun.

Yes, kids get to have all the fun…without all the inhibitions. Looking back on those years when my sisters and I were running through the sprinkler, I can remember what it was like to be a kid. Sometimes, I wish those days weren’t in the past, but then I look at what I have now, and I realize that I probably wouldn’t want to go back there…even for the fun of running through the sprinkler without worrying about my makeup.

One of the first ways we learn of love is the hug. As babies, that closeness to people is something we crave…especially our mom, dad, and grandparents. It makes us feel secure. I remember when my girls were little, and holding them, especially for the first time. The love I felt for my daughters was incredible. It was such a awe inspiring experience. To know that this little person was mine…to nurture and care for…to train and encourage…to love and cherish…well, there is really no way to accurately explain that feeling.

Becoming a grandmother brought back that feeling…or as close to it as it is possible to be. Being there for the births of my grandchildren…seeing them for the very first time…well, I found myself holding my breath in anticipation of their arrival. Their births brought about feelings that I will never forget. An incredible feeling of love and amazement. Holding my grandchildren and cuddling them, feeling incredibly blessed with the new life that was given to us, almost brought tears to my eyes.

There is no greater feeling that the addition of a new life given. Each one is a miracle in itself. It is hard not to be…almost surprised by it. I will always remember and cherish the births of my grandchildren, which I was so privileged to see. How do you thank your child for the wonderful gift of a grandchild…even more, how do you ever thank God for it? There is, of course no possible way. All you can do is enjoy the wonderful blessing that you have received. I know that I’m probably rambling along, but sometimes the feelings are so strong that it is impossible to get them straight in my head.

I have been blessed by grandchildren who love spending time with me. They stay the night and invite me to their sporting events. My granddaughter works with me and my grandsons come and mow our lawn. They text me and call me just to talk. We are friends on Facebook and good friends in general. What more could a grandma ask for. And the good news is that my girls are my good friends in all of the same ways as the grandkids…well, except for spending the night, Ha Ha Ha!!

If someone were to say to me, “What would you want, if you could have anything?” I would struggle for an answer, because there would be nothing to wish for…other than maybe more time to spend with those I love…my wonderful family!!

When my nephew, Barry was just a little boy, he and his mom lived with her parents. As far as Barry was concerned, his grandpa was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Barry was determined to be just like his grandpa!! My father-in-law was building a house on their land when Barry was just about 1 year old… just old enough to want to help. When my father-in-law was doing the preparatory work Barry wanted to be with him. He wanted to know all about the cool things his grandpa was doing, especially since he had no intention of going to school or anything like that. He was going too be far to busy being Grandpa’s partner.

In building a house, you have to have the right tools for the job. You can’t expect to build a house with a nail file, or paint with a toothbrush. The right tools are vital to the success of the entire project. A good carpenter has tools that are well fitted to his hands and to his
way of working. He has a team of workers who know their job and work together to get the job done. Each person helps the others to do the job right. That said, Barry had his own tools. He had the little wooden hammer he used on one of his toys, and since some of his other toys included tools, I’m sure he had a little toy saw, shovel, pliers, wrench, and many other tools that he figured might come in handy in this endeavour. Barry put his tools to work whenever he could find someone to lift him up to the work area so he could get at it.

The home plans will always include plenty of storage space, because everyone knows that storage space is vital. Barry considered himself the Foreman of the storage areas, I think. He had to make sure they were the right size, because a storage area that couldn’t hold it’s foreman was…well, simply too small. There are lots of times that a guy needs to get into those cupboards, and cramped space in there is just not acceptable. So Barry was the Foreman and also the Inspector of the storage areas.

Yes, building a home is a big job. Being the foreman on such a job usually means plenty of stress, so one final thing that Barry learned from his grandpa about the right way to be a carpenter, was that you have to take time out for occasional breaks. So, every once in a while, Barry would find a cupboard to hide out in for a while, and the most important item to have in that space was the thing we all know helps with the stress of any job…the Folger’s Coffee!! It can be the only thing that lies between a man and his sanity.

When most of the men in the family have a tendency toward mechanics, you will find that the older men teach the younger men the ropes. That is the best way to learn…by example. Most of the young men who are learning from the adult men are in their teens, but sometimes you get an overachiever, who wants nothing more than to be a mechanic. It seems to be in their blood…even as little kids.

My nephew, JD was like that. If a car was being worked on, JD was there. It’s almost as if he could smell it. He wanted nothing more than to come out and help…even if it was only handing Bob, or one of the other men, the tools they needed to work on the cars. He has never wanted anything more than to work on cars. These days it is very likely that you will find JD in the garage working on a car until the wee hours of the morning. And he has plenty of them to work on too. He owns at least 8 vehicles. I guess that early training kind of made him just a bit of a fanatic!!

Our family really doesn’t need to take a car in to be worked on for anything. We have mechanics that can work on engines, transmissions, radios, maintenance, and even body work, which isn’t really mechanics, but falls into a similar category, since it is done to a car. All of these guys came up the ranks…taught by the men who came before them. And all of them were very motivated to learn all they could about cars. It makes for a great support system for our cars.

Some of the men have tried over the years to train up some girl mechanics, and more than one of us make pretty good assistants, including me. Most of the women in the family Daddy's Little Helperreally never took to the mechanical side of things, however. Still, that didn’t stop the men in the family, and especially Bob, from trying to turn the women, and especially his girls and me, into mechanics. He started trying to have the girls help him when they were just toddlers. They loved being out there with their dad, standing on the bumper, and watching him work on the cars. Unfortunately, all too soon, boys came into their lives, and the mechanic lessons were quickly forgotten. I guess, you can’t fight love with mechanics, because love will win out every time. Today, our girls don’t work on cars much. Either their husbands do, or Bob does. Of course if Bob does it, he still requires them to help. He doesn’t give up easily.

Being the only boy in the family had to be somewhat hard for Bob, when he was little. Bob was the first boy born among the grandchildren on both sides of his family. And when that happens…well, we all know how bossy a group of girls can be when there is only one boy in the bunch…especially when he is among the younger children.

I have little proof that Bob was bossed around by the girls, except that…well, being a girl myself, I know that against 5 girls, one little boy would find himself in a situation that was…impossible to be the boss of. And little girls can and do find as many ways to get into lots of trouble as boys do, but with only one little boy in the crowd, guess who will get the blame 9 times out of 10.

I can imagine how my husband, as a little boy, must have felt when the girls told his mom that it was all his idea or that he did it. Bewilderment set in, I’m sure, as he tried to figure out what had just happened, because something most certainly happened, and it wasn’t good. That is a fairly common scenario in the interactions between little boys and little girls. The girls aren’t being mean, it’s just that he was the easiest way out of trouble. I can’t say for sure, but I can see that his big sister, at least, was trying to get something straightened out, make Bob do or say something that he wasn’t cooperating with.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that being the only boy in the crowd isn’t such a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s quite likely that the girls treated him like the baby, especially when they were playing house. And if that meant making him some dinner, I’m sure that went over well, especially since dinner probably meant cookies, or some other such treat. That would make acting like a baby worth while. Besides, it’s never a bad thing for a guy to have a bunch of girls waiting on him hand and foot…right?

Being the only boy is a group of girls has it’s ups and downs, but I suppose there could be worse things in life. And from the looks of things, I don’t think it was something Bob minded very much…most of the time. In fact, knowing my husband, my guess is that most of the time he thought the whole thing was just fine by him….most of the time.

Bob and I had always felt that our kids didn’t really need a phone in their room, and for the early years, they didn’t have one. But, when our girls reached the pre-teen years, we decided that since the phone was always for them, and having them talk, talk, talking in the living room made it really hard to watch television, maybe having a phone in their rooms wasn’t such a horrible idea after all. The constant chatter and loud laughter was hard to ignore…not to mention having the girls constantly telling everyone not to listen!!

So, along about the time they were 11 or 12, we decided that Christmas would bring a rather unexpected gift for our girls. We were going to get them phones for their rooms. Of course, there would not be a separate line, but there would be some peace and quiet in the living room. For the most part it brought peace to our home…sort of. There were times when one or the other of the girls took too long in their turn on the phone, and then we would have a few fights. Still, the moments of fighting were a small sacrifice compared to the hours of peace that fell in between. I will never forget the look on my girls’ faces that Christmas morning. They couldn’t believe that they could talk in their bedrooms and not have everyone listening to every word they said.

Much has changed since those days. Pretty much every child has their own cell phone these days…and their own phone number…and it is more important than many people would like to think. A cell phone can be a life line if their car breaks down, or they missed their bus, etc. I know of many parents who don’t think their child needs a cell phone, and that they are a distraction. In some ways, that is right…especially if they are using it during class, but a child walking home alone, who gets lost or is being followed…needs a phone…now!!

I am grateful that my girls have continued the tradition and that their children each have a cell phone. It’s nice to be able to get a hold of my grandchildren whenever I want to. Of course, today things are different. Phones are used in a completely different way…texting. And if you want to keep up, you have to be able to text. I personally like texting, because it allows you to go on doing what you were doing while you are waiting to hear back. And cameras on the phone can be fun and functional too.

Yes, much has changed since my girls’ first phones, but kids haven’t changed. They still get excited about that new phone, and just the fact that it is theirs. They still want the latest and the greatest technology. And what is cool today, will be old news tomorrow. As excited as my girls were with their new phones that Christmas morning so many years ago, today they would wonder if I had lost my mind, because I would be giving them an antique that would be viewed as worthless.

My girls had their own quirks when it came to eating…right from the start. They both nursed just fine, but when it came to other forms of eating, things changed. Corrie did quite well on the bottle. Then at 3 weeks old, the doctor, as was the normal back then, started her on rice cereal. And not a moment too soon. Corrie was such a hungry girl. The problem was…she was too hungry. She would be crying, and I would get the cereal ready, but as I put a spoonful of cereal in her mouth, she gagged and coughed. Then she cried, and I spooned, and she coughed and gagged, and the whole process went on and on, until she finally got enough down to feel like she got something. Then she could relax and finish eating. I, on the other hand was emotionally drained and physically exhausted, and felt like a very bad mommy.

One day I was at the store, and I came across an item that saved my sanity. It was an Infant Feeder. Basically, it was a bottle system that had a large hole in the nipple and it moved the cereal toward the nipple to keep the air out. The way it worked mattered very little to me. It was the fact that it did work, that I cared about. Corrie got to eat without choking, gagging, or crying, and I got a peaceful relaxed dinnertime. It was a life saver.

When Amy came along 11 months after Corrie, I felt much more prepared for the whole feeding part of motherhood…for about 5 minutes. I quickly learned the fact that every baby is different. Amy wanted nothing to do with the bottle, and I don’t mean that she disliked it. She started gagging before the nipple ever got to her mouth. The doctor suggested a Playtex Nurser…it made no difference…nor did any other bottle. We thought maybe it was the rubber smell, but it made no difference. She never took a bottle, pacifier, or the Infant Feeder that saved my life with Corrie. It was a brand new day.

If Amy needed water or formula, we had to use a spoon until she was old enough to use a sippy cup, which she started on very early, by the way. It was really hard to get a babysitter for her. My sister-in-law, Jennifer had the unpleasant experience of having to deal with that the first time we left her to babysit. It was a tough job. We all learned from the experience, and we all survived.

Like every mother, I learned as much from my children and they learned from me. One of the biggest lessons was that every child is different. They have different likes and dislikes, needs, and abilities. What works with one child might not work with another. You have to look at each child as an individual, or you will never succeed. And probably the most important thing is to keep your sense of humor, because looking back, I’m sure everyone can see the humor in these two situations, especially knowing that we all survived those years.

For every grandparent, there is the first. The child that came along and changed everything. The child who changed them from parenthood to grandparenthood. For my parents, that child was my niece, Chantel. She was…shall we say, a shock to our systems…not just my parents, but to her aunts too. It was not about being, not ready for her to come, it was about the kind of girl she was. Chantel has a type of beauty queen style…or maybe it was actress style. No matter, we couldn’t help but be amused and surprised at the same time whenever she started posing.

It always amazed me that this little teeny girl could have so much style, when I at 15 years of age was still feeling quite awkward. But style was as much a part of who Chantel was as the hair on her head. And she was so quick. She never missed an opportunity to show her style. The camera came up, and Chantel immediately posed. And she was just a little girl, but she was just doing what came naturally to her.

As she grew up, she never lost that sense of style, although the posing did change some. She is so photogenic, and has a beautiful smile. And her sense of style doesn’t stop with photos. It has carried into her home, where she pours out her beautiful style. I think there must be an artist living inside the woman she has become, but that isn’t surprising really.

Yes, that first grandchild can be so surprising, because they are usually so different from your own children, and yet so like them…or at least the child your kids used to be. Chantel is much like her mother, my sister Cheryl. They both had the ability to take the most amazing pictures, and they both have the natural sense of style in decorating. I guess I have to wonder why Chantel seemed so different from the rest of us…at least to me, because she was maybe the kind of little girl like what I always wanted to be…like my sister, Cheryl. They both always had it all together, and I always wished I had been able to be like that.

Today that little girl…that first grandchild, is a wife and mother, and still a very beautiful person, inside and out. She will always hold a special place in our hearts and in our family. Happy birthday, Chantel!! We love you very much!!

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