Remember the spiral perm? Everyone was wearing them just a few years ago. It didn’t matter if you had long hair or relatively short hair, it was the look. The thing is that going to a salon to get those perms was expensive, and we really hated to pay that price, as did many of you, I’m sure. Well, our family found a solution. A friend of ours was a cosmetologist, and at that time, the only people who could purchase things from a beauty supply store had to be licensed. It was much like the newest controls that only allow licensed cosmetologists to purchase perms now.

Since we wanted the perms, and not the expense, we talked to our friend and the rods were ordered. We didn’t totally know what to expect as far as the look of the rods was concerned, so when they arrived, we were a little bit surprised. We had never seen perm rods like that before. We had to read the instructions to make sure we knew what we were doing. Those first few perm roll-ups were laughed about quite a bit, so as you can see, we had to have pictures so we could remember how funny it looked. Don’t even ask who this was a picture of, because I want to live, and any one of my sisters would be willing to make me very sorry for telling…which is also why I will not be posting the other side of this picture…which I do have. Hahaha!!

Every time one of us would get a perm, which we always did at Mom’s house, it was something that got the laughs from any of the men in the family…which could be why we did them at Mom’s. We could make sure husbands and sons weren’t there…usually. Still, it was fun to get the perms and funny to see how we looked in those rods.

These days, not only can we not do these perms at home, but I wouldn’t have one. The styles have changed, and I really don’t like doing the damage to my hair. The memories of those days of getting repeated perms in Mom’s kitchen will be with me for a long time. We had some good times in that kitchen. Everything from perms and hair trims to lunches and long talks, but those perms will stand out in my mind as some of the…funniest looking times…to say the very least.

When you were born Siara, you were such a tiny little girl. You were so much like your mom and grandma…sophisticated from the moment you arrived. Some people are just like that, and you were definitely one of those. You had a smile that made the sun seem to shine a little brighter, and you were and are so stylish. While you never grew to be tall, you had a personality the made you seem larger than life. You always wanted to be tall, but now, I think you have grown quite comfortable in your own skin, and you know that it doesn’t take height to make you a success. It’s all about what is on the inside, and Siara, you have it all, and you will go far.

Now, you are 18 years old and graduating, and I am finding it very hard to believe. Where have the years gone? How can you be graduating already? I am so proud of all you have accomplished in your school career. You are an amazing cheerleader, and a great student. You have proven yourself to be a role model, a true friend, and even a national champion. Your high school years have been filled with many successes, and I know that whatever you choose to do as a career, you will excel in as well, because you know how to succeed.

Now your high school career is over, and your life journey is just beginning. There are so many possibilities for you to choose from, so many roads to take. You may start out on one road, and find that you want to go down another road altogether, or you may find the road you want right away, or you may already know where you are going. It doesn’t matter, because that is what life is all about…growing and changing. No matter how you change or what you choose to be, you will be great, because you are an amazing person…a big success in a little package.

I still can’t believe that today, you are a high school graduate. How can that be? You should still be that little teeny girl running around your grandma’s house, or spending the night at grandma’s with Lacey, giggling the night away, and then not wanting to get up the next morning. Now, those little girl days are over, and you go forth into the world, ready to take it on and win! I am so proud of all you have accomplished and all you will accomplish. I am also very excited for you, because it is the dawn of a new day for you. The world is yours…go out and take it!! Congratulations on your High School Graduation little Si-Si!!

My dad became ill on a trip back to his place of birth and the surrounding area. His plan, after a quick trip around Lake Superior, was to spend some quality time with his older brother, my Uncle Bill. Unfortunately, while Dad, Mom, and my sister, Cheryl were on the road to Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, they had stopped at the Terry Fox Monument and Dad was hit with a serious Pancreatitis attack. This illness and other complications would put Dad in the hospital for the next 4 months, and send him home very weak, and needing much care from his loving family before he would recover. Still, he would never be the same again…except mentally, of course. His body was never as strong, and he never drove again, and needed Intravenous Feeding, and oxygen off and on. These things together would make another trip to Wisconsin almost impossible, and he never went back.

Dad’s brother, my Uncle Bill was older than Dad was, and even less able to drive, but otherwise healthy. We knew that the only way they were ever going to see each other again, was for Uncle Bill to come here. Still, that was going to be a huge undertaking, and we didn’t know if it would ever happen. Enter, my cousin Bill. Bill contacted us and said that he planned to bring his family to see Yellowstone National Park, and he thought he would bring his dad, my Uncle Bill out to see his brother, my dad. We were very excited, especially my dad. The plan was for all of them to spend a day or so here, then Uncle Bill would stay with my parents while Bill and his family went on to Yellowstone for a time and then come back for a few days before leaving for home.

This was a blessing beyond measure for my dad and my Uncle Bill, and a wonderful gift for Bill and his family to give them. It was a pure act of love from Bill toward his dad and his uncle, my dad, and one that will never be forgotten. Bill has always been a sweet, thoughtful person, as anyone who knows him can attest to, and the love he has for his dad is very evident. I will never forget that visit, nor will I ever forget the fact the Bill made it possible for his dad and mine to see each other one last time before my dad passed away. Bill you are a great person and I am forever grateful for the wonderful gift you gave our dads.  Happy birthday Bill!! We love you very much!!

When my niece, Andrea was a little girl, she was a sweet, smiley girl who had cute little blond curls.  When Andrea was little, my sister, Caryl and her then husband, Warren lived in several other states, because he was in the Navy. We didn’t get to see much of Andrea or her brother, Allen, but when Warren had to go on the long cruises required by the Navy, Caryl would often come back to Casper for a few months to a year at a time. One time, I was babysitting Andrea while her mom worked at the hospital, and I had to go bowling, so Andrea went with me. She was such a sweetheart. She sat quietly and watched me bowl. I guess it fascinated her, because she watched every frame, and she was only about 2 or 3 years old at the time.

As Andrea grew up, she found that she had a heart for the disabled and down trodden. She never liked seeing people who were unable to defend themselves, being picked on. When she was in high school, she had the opportunity to work with a group of developmentally disabled children, and she found that it was her calling. She decided that she would love to go into counseling or working with the developmentally disabled citizens in some other capacity. It is a noble calling, and one that few people take to. It takes a very special person to go into that field, but I believe that Andrea will be good at it, or any other career she chooses. And the people she works with will find themselves quite blessed because of her skills.

On June 28, 2005, Andrea gave birth to her son Christopher. He has and always will be the most important thing in her life. He is the love of her life, and they have so many great times together. They are always goofing off together, and I really love being able to see the silly pictures of the two of them. They don’t live here, so we don’t get to see them as often as we would like, but she takes pictures of them often, and posts them a lot. Christopher, nicknamed “Topher” has begun to follow in his mother’s footsteps, at least on the funny side of life. And from the looks of things, the funny side of life is a great place to be. Happy birthday Andrea and Happy Mother’s Day too. I hope you have a great day. Love you!!

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate the woman who nurtured you from birth to adulthood, and I have been so blessed by the woman God gave me to be my mom. She is sweet and kind, and always tries to keep the sunshine in our lives. Every day for as long as I can remember, she would remind us of the same things as we left her house. She would always tell us to “Keep on the sunny side.” and “Jesus takes care of you.” It was a beautiful send off to our day, and showed us the love she felt for each of us.

I don’t suppose it was easy to raise 5 daughters, with all of their moods. I know there was more than one drama queen among us, so it was quite a job. And I know that we probably drove her half crazy more than once. I can’t say our house was a quiet place, but it was always interesting. Between the giggling and the arguing, quiet was…well, non-existent. In fact, as a mother and grandmother myself, I wonder how she ever kept her sanity…much less raise 5 good, Christian daughters…but, she and my dad did just that.

When I got married, I gained a mother-in-law and father-in-law. Many people don’t like their in-laws, but I can say that God blessed me with wonderful in-laws. My mother-in-law became like a second mom to me. She had lived a very different kind of life that my mom had, being raised on ranches and out in the country. She canned most of their vegetables, and did a lot of home baking, things my mom didn’t always have time for with her job. So I was able to learn some new skills.

Being a city girl, I’m sure that I was something new for my mother-in-law, but she was always good to me, and she became my second mom. Now, 37 years later, I take care of her, due to her Alzheimer’s Disease, and I hope that she knows how much I love her. As time goes by, I know she will remember me less and less, but I hope that somehow she will always know that she was loved, by all of her family. I pray that both of my moms know how much they are loved. Happy Mother’s Day to you both.

My sister, Cheryl and I are the two oldest children of our parents. There are two years between us. Our younger sisters always seemed so much younger than Cheryl and me. Those early years were spent as pretty good friends, with me looking up to my big sister. Cheryl, it seemed to me, always had it all, not is the sense that I wasn’t given anything, but in the sense of being cool, and I wished that somehow I could be as cool as she was. I suppose most little sisters feel that way about their big sister at some point in their lives, but I can honestly say that in many ways, I still look up to my sister. She has a kind and loving heart, and more patience that I have ever been able to work up. Big sisters just don’t get any better. She is a blessing to our entire family

When we were little, we were good friends, but as we got older, the personality differences that siblings will obviously have, really began to show, and there were a number of years, where we didn’t get along very well. We were very different people at that time, although oddly, we really aren’t so different now. We have both looked back on those years and wondered why it seemed so important to do some of the things we did, or fight over some of the things we fought over. I guess, the years just change who people are, and what is important.

As adults, we have come to love, respect, and count on each other. Through caring for our parents, we have come to know how vital our relationship has become. We both bring different things to the table called caregiving, as do our other three sisters, and no one is expendable. As our lives and the lives of those we care for change…adding in-laws and children with needs…the things we are able to do change some too. My life has been very busy lately with my in-laws health needs, and Cheryl has stepped up and carried more of the load at our mom’s than I would like her to have to carry. Still, she has carried that load, and given me the time I need to use elsewhere, and for that I am forever grateful.

So much has changed through the years. It happens in life. Cheryl and I have long since resolved our issues, and we are good friends. It’s funny that when we were adolescents and teenagers, we both wondered why God had stuck us with such an irritating sister, but now looking back through the eyes of experience we have both come to know that, clearly God knew exactly what He was doing.

As summer approaches, my thoughts drift back to summers gone by. Once school was out for the summer, the neighborhood kids had three months of wonderful, carefree days. We would run and play, or lay around in the shade reading a book or watching the clouds float by. Three months of freedom!! It was so relaxing, and looking back now, I’m sorry I took those days or granted. All too soon, they would be gone…just a memory.

We went swimming and sun bathing. And since I love the sunshine, this was the perfect time of year for me. I have always been a “Popsicle Person” so the heat and sun were my best chance of thawing out from the too long and too cold Winter. I relished the time I could spend outside. Then as now, the summer months are my rejuvenation time. I feel so dragged out during the winter, and when summer comes, I start to feel alive again. So…bring it on!!

At some point, every summer, our family took a vacation. It didn’t matter if money was tight, we always went somewhere. We camped out under the stars. The smell of the campfire was everywhere. Roasting marshmallows was a nightly event. The air was warm and the scent of flowers and pine trees was everywhere. We would sit around for hours…far into the night, just enjoying the beauty of the night. Our family loves a good camp fire so much, in fact, that we often have fire pits going during the summer evenings at home, just to be able to sit around and watch the fire, and smell the wonder scent of the burning wood. The days on vacation were filled with sight seeing, shopping for souveniers, fishing, or just relaxing. We were so blessed to have traveled to so many places.

As summer approaches, I begin planning our annual trip to the Black Hills, where Bob and I spend a week hiking in the hills. We will end up at Harney Peak at some point in the trip, and as usual, we will be sorry when our time there is over, because it is one of our favorite places on Earth. I am so ready for the summer months, that it is hard to wait. I’m thankful that April was, and May is starting out nice and warm, because a rainy Spring can put a big damper on my thoughts of Summer.

It seems like most families have one child who is the “cuddly” one. That child who loves to give hugs and kisses, and really wants to sit on your lap and just be with you. It is a mother’s dream. For my niece Jenny, and her husband, Steve, that child is their son Zachary, who is turning 7 years old today. Zack has always loved to hug his family, and it is something that always makes us feel very blessed. Don’t get me wrong, Zack is a tough little boy, and can take on his brothers with no problems. When you are the middle son in a set of three, you learn to take care of yourself…fast.

Like his brothers, and most boys for that matter, Zack loves to do all the boys things. He jumps on the family trampoline, likes to play with cars, and of course, the superhero fighting stuff that it seems all boys enjoy at that age. There is just something about being the super hero that appeals to them, and it seems like they all know about lasers and special wrist guns, spider webs, and the man of steel.

Like the rest of his family, Zack loves the great outdoors, and wants to be out there as much as possible. He has been blessed with a family that loves to get out and play, and that makes life just one big adventure for Zack and his brothers, Xander and Isaac. Their dad is teaching his boys to shoot guns, and be safe at it, of course. They know how to act around guns, and what not to do too, such as any kind of dangerous play with guns. And it doesn’t take summer for them to go have fun, because they totally love being waist deep in the snow up on the mountain. And if they can’t go somewhere, because their dad is working…well, Zack and his brothers will just have their own adventure out in the yard. They have a great tree for climbing, and all of the other boy things that you could ever need to let their imaginations run wild.

Still, at the end of the day, or even part way through it, Zack has to take a moment or two out just to go and give his mom a hug and a kiss, because as rough and tumble as Zack is, he is still his mothers dream boy…her little cuddler, and he loves his mom so much. Really, does life get any better than that? I don’t think so. Happy birthday Zack!! We love you bunches!

My dad always loved trains. As a young boy, whose dad worked for the Great Northern Railway Company, dad had a pass to ride the train where ever he needed to go. I’m sure that his love for trains was fueled by the fact that he got to ride the train daily, a privilege that most people don’t have.

Dad has told us of his days of riding the train, and it always sounded to us like he was hopping the train, not riding with a pass. He never said “hopping a train” or anything, but we always thought that was what he meant. Maybe we thought that because it always sounded like such an amazing adventure. Or maybe he and his brother did “hop the train” on occasion, just to add to the excitement…something I’m sure his mother would have tanned their hides for.

Years later, when traveling to the Black Hills, my parents rode the 1880 Train in Keystone, South Dakota. It had been many years since Dad had been able to ride a train much, so it was very exciting for him, and it brought back those old memories of his days of riding the trains back in Wisconsin. They really enjoyed those train rides through the Black Hills.

When the Amtrak Trains came on the scene, I think my dad’s interest really peaked. He began thinking about taking a trip on the Amtrak. It would be a dream trip for Dad and Mom. They planned to ride the Amtrak Train up the California coast. The trip was to take several days, and they would sleep on the train. That would be a new experience for both of them, as all their other train rides were just day trips or less.

My dad was so excited about this trip. He was like a little kid in a candy store. I think that is how a lot of people feel when riding a train…like being a kid again. The wonder of something so new to them. And while riding a train wasn’t new to my dad, traveling that way was. He had always traveled by car. Mostly because he believed that you couldn’t see the country from a plane. But, this was different. They were able to view the countryside and it went by, and he didn’t have to drive. He felt like he was taking the trip of a lifetime. They were finally taking the ultimate train ride.

They had such a great time riding the Amtrak. It would be a trip that would live in their memories for the rest of their lives. They had taken many vacations, and all of them were filled with great memories, but there are always a few of your trips that live in your memory as the big trip, the best trip…the ultimate trip.

My dad loved pretty much everything that had to do with history. I suppose that is why we stopped at every historical marker or historical site we found. Dad wanted his kids and grandkids to know as much about our nation’s history is he could show us. He wanted us to know where this nation came from, how it progressed, and what it had accomplished…what our ancestors and the ancestors of others had accomplished. From the founding fathers who started this country, formed it ideals and its government, to the days of the horse and buggy when the pioneers began to head west, looking for their fortune and a place to put down roots. He loved the old west.

He showed us so many aspects of history, that we almost felt like we were there. I sometimes wondered how he could have possibly known so much about things from the past. Of course, now I know that some things were taught or passed down, and many things he read about. He simply absorbed the information. And he also had a flair for story telling, so he often made history seem like he had actually lived it. These are stories and places I will never forget, although I’m sure I didn’t completely appreciate all of it like I should have, but I guess most kids wouldn’t have.

My dad was very patriotic and loved his country. I suppose that is one reason he loved the Black Hills so much. There was so much history there, and so much information. Just spending a little time listening to one of the many speakers at Mount Rushmore, can open a bounty of information. To this day, I can’t go to Mount Rushmore without feeling a sense of awe. There is a need to show respect to the memory of those great presidents. Almost a need to be very quiet…or at the very least, whisper. Kind of a show of respect.

I think that must have been how Dad felt whe he visited Mount Rushmore in his younger years, because he took lots of pictures and kept them safe all those years. I think he knew it was a special place full of history, the kind of place he might want to show his family some day. The kind of place he might want to come back to and share with his kids. So we could learn from it the way he did.

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