Being the baby of the family is a position that is is very unique. The baby of the family is often treated differently. Maybe it’s because parents don’t like to think of their last child growing up. We talk baby talk longer, help them more with things, make their siblings help with more things, and in general baby them more. Maybe it’s isn’t always a good thing, but it is the way it goes most of the time.

And when you are also the youngest grandchild, maybe you get the baby of the family treatment even more. Josh was both of these things, and to top it off, he had a rough start too, which I will tell about on his birthday in September. Josh has had a love/hate relationship with baby of the family syndrome for a long time. Sometimes, like when he didn’t have to do the hard chores, because he was too little, he liked it, but when his older brother was babysitting…well it wasn’t so much fun. No kid likes to be bossed around.

But, Josh isn’t a baby anymore. He has grown tall and is very capable of regular chores, which he probably doesn’t like too much,  and taking care of himself, which I’m sure he does like. He has a mind of his own about sports too. While his brother loves football, Josh would rather play basketball and be in track, both of which his tall, slender stature are better suited for anyway, so it’s all good.

And as usual, things come to the baby of the family after everyone else gets to do them. That would also lead to a few less stories about that youngest child, simply because they haven’t lived as long and the others, and therefore haven’t had as many experiences. Not an easy thing to swallow for a kid.

That said, however, there is something that Josh has a heart to help others. Whenever he can, he tries to assist my mom, his great grandmother in getting to her car after church. No one asks him to do it, he just does it. He has a kind heart. He also has a good sense of humor. He likes to joke around and especially to pick on me, his shorter than him grandma…because he can!!

Five years ago, my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. My dad had become very ill a few months earlier, and we needed my mom on the caregiving team we had going with him, so when we knew something was wrong with her, we were overwhelmed at the thought of coping with two seriously ill parents, and having one less person on the care team to do it with. Mom’s brain tumor had affected her ability to stay awake. She slept all the time. We thought she was depressed, and that surprised us because my dad was getting so much better. It also affected her ability to speak the correct words. She could speak, but it didn’t always make sense. That was when we knew she was not depressed.

We needed a new plan. My granddaughter Shai, who was a very mature 10 years old at the time was called into service, and she stepped up and took over the daytime care of my parents, her great grandparents. By this time, my dad was awake most of the day, but movement was still difficult and he didn’t know what pills he needed or what other care was needed, so Shai did it all. I worked just 4 blocks away, and my boss was willing to let me do what I needed to do…a great blessing to me and my family. I came over at lunch and helped out, and right after work too. My older sister lived with them, and so was home in the evenings. My other sisters helped out several times a week, as did several of the grandchildren and great grandchildren. We had home health care that came in to help too, but a lot of it was on Shai. Our family will always be grateful to her for all she did that summer.

Mom’s tumor was a Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. The Oncologist we were blessed with, told us that this was the best case scenario. He said that if it was a Lymphoma, while still cancer, they often said that it was “only” a Lymphoma. It was reason for him and us to praise God, which we both did, since he was a believer too. We felt very blessed that he was the doctor we got, because, he never lost hope, and neither did we.

Mom began her treatments in July of 2006, and by January of 2007, the tumor was completely gone. Her speech returned to normal and she was able to function again. He continued treatment for a time just to be sure, and then came the many followup visits, all of which showed no regrowth of the Lymphoma. My mom was a survivor. She has been cancer free now for 4 1/2 years, and we thank God daily for that blessing. While my dad has gone home to be with the Lord, and she misses him terribly, she knows that she has been given a great gift…life.

At the time Bob was a teenager, before his little brother, Ron came into the picture, Bob was the only boy in his family, and with 4 sisters, there were plenty of potential victims for his many pranks. Ron would not be born until Bob was 14, so until Bob was 16 to 18, Ron was too little to get himself into too much trouble, or get very involved in the pranks his older brother was pulling. That would come later on. Bob got into plenty of trouble with his older sisters, but this story is about him and his younger sisters. You see Bob was the third child, with 2 sisters older, and 2 sisters younger and finally his little brother joined them later.

Bob, like most boys loved to tease his younger sisters. His sister, Brenda told me that he would chase his sister, Jennifer, with spiders…something I can very much envision, since he has teased me and my girls in the same way. Mind you, it wasn’t with a live spider, but more of a…”Here, don’t you want to see it” kind of thing, which still makes me and probably most other women cringe to say the least. Spider guts are only slightly less disgusting than a spider is scary. I hate spiders…just in case you couldn’t tell. Now, I don’t know what Jennifer did to be the one who was threatened with spiders or spider guts, but one thought would be that she was the best screamer over it. That, to a boy is a really good motivator to continue the torment that I am quite certain continued for quite some time.

Now, his sister, Brenda, got a little bit different treatment. I don’t know if it was because she was younger, or more cooperative when he asked her to call some girl he liked, but was too shy to call, maybe she wasn’t as scared of spiders. Brenda tells me of the times she called girls for him, so I suspect he had to be a little nicer to her. Brenda got candy and chocolate bars, so she would stay motivated to help him out. I guess you would have to say Bob was thinking ahead anyway. And so was Brenda…she had seen the torment Jennifer went through. I suppose you have to compromise sometimes. I know for a fact it’s what I would do, if it meant the difference between spiders and chocolate bars.

My nephew Eric, brought his girlfriend to a family gathering about 2 years ago. We are a pretty big family, so I’m sure that was overwhelming to the extreme, but Ashley handled it very well. Before long, as we got to know her, I think everyone could see that these two wonderful people belonged together. They have so much in common, and with each passing day, the bond between them grows stronger and the love grows deeper. They will be a wonderful blessing to each other.

I have known Eric all of his life. I have watched him grow from a sweet little boy into a man who makes me very proud to be his aunt. He is a man of integrity, hard working, and very faithful and loving to Ashley. I wish I had known Ashley when she was young, because it doesn’t take much looking to see how special she is. I’m sure she was a great little girl too. I can see they were both raised by great parents to be great people, and they certainly are a couple of great people.

There are differences in how they were raised. She in the country, and he in town. Eric loves motorcycles and Ashley loves horses, but that doesn’t stop a mingling of the differences to create sameness. They both love animals…even Roo, now that Eric knows him better. Ashley was the only one who could see Roo’s true potential, but just as she expected, he grew on Eric and now they are best buddies. They both have a great sense of humor, which anyone who knows them and has seen them goofing off can attest to. All these things come together and create a couple, and that is what it is all about.

So, today they take the ultimate step in their relationship…marriage. All the plans have been made. Their preparations, along with the preparations of loving families and friends who have helped put together a wedding that will be remembered and cherished for the rest of their lives. Moving past a few little glitches, which they seemed to have taken in stride, they will now embark upon their journey into the rest of their lives. What their future hold, no one knows for sure, but I believe they will be able to handle whatever comes their way, and arrive comfortably together, hand in hand, to that place every marriage strives for…happily ever after. Congratulations Ashley and Eric!! I know you will be very happy!! I love you both very much!!

When my first niece, Chantel was born, my parents were so excited about being grandparents. Chantel was just so little, and still is for that matter. Her small size brought about the nickname that my dad came up with…Teensy. That name progressed into, or perhaps from teeny tiny, and then to little teensy, and teens (not to be confused with the adolescent). Maybe my dad just knew something the rest of us didn’t, because, Chantel has grown into a beautiful 4′ 10″ woman…and I do use the word “grown” pretty lightly, since we can all tell from my description that growing was not something Chantel excelled in. She is definitely vertically challenged, but that is the extent of her “challenges” in my opinion.

Chantel, always had flair. From the very first picture, you knew she was special. She was very much a girly girl. She loved posing for pictures, and is very photogenic as you can see. She loved makeup and bling. It was one of the things about her that made her fun. I don’t know, maybe we were biased, because she was our first niece/granddaughter, but everyone in our family was pretty taken with teensy. For much of her early life, she was like another sister to my younger sisters. She went a lot of places with them, and while they did fight some, they all had a good time.

Chantel is grown now, and many grandchildren/nieces and nephews have followed in her little footsteps. She has moved on to motherhood and one day soon I’m sure she will become a grandmother, although there is not big hurry for that. While she has become an adult, her flair for the beautiful has not diminished. She adds her special touch to every part of her life and the lives of those around her. She has a knack for interior decorating, and her home shows it. She has created a lovely home for her family…something not everyone can do. She could easily be an interior decorator. She is a natural when it comes to style. After watching her from birth to adulthood, I know that her sense of style is something she was born with, because it has always been there.

While Chantel can be as tough as the next woman when she needs to be, it is her sweet spirit that most impresses me. She would choose to love others over any other way of life. She has a kindness about her that is very endearing. Her smile and laugh can lift the clouds from a dreary day, and bring back the sunshine. She is as much a blessing today as she was the day she first arrived, if not more. Love you Chantel!!

My dad always enjoyed fishing, like many people do. I never could see the big draw, but everyone is different. Dad always seemed to think it was relaxing, and I suppose it would be. I think it is in some people’s blood. Dad always loved everything about the outdoors. Camping, being in the woods, and of course any kind of travel, were the kind of things he wanted to do. He wanted to give his family the gift of seeing this great country and the world if we wanted it. And he didn’t want it to be seen from 30,000 feet in the air. He always felt like this world was best seen in a car.

I remember camping near a creek or a river. It always seemed the ideal place. It provided a place to fish and clean up the kids, not to mention cooling off if it wasn’t too deep. And once in a while, we went to a lake. I remember the only time I really enjoyed fishing. We were at some kind of a company gathering, I believe. It was at Ocean Lake, and we were fishing from a boat for sun fish. Oh my gosh…they couldn’t keep our hooks bated. I was competing with another girl to see who would catch the most fish. We were out there for…maybe an hour, and I came back with 14 and she had 12. That was amazing. And I guess that is my problem with normal fishing…too slow paced. Mostly you fight for 1 or 2 fish…not 14. I guess I want more action. Maybe that is why I prefer hiking. I think Dad was blessed to have some sons-in-law who liked to fish, because for most of his life…at least when his girls were young…he didn’t have too many fishing buddies, so when the sons-in-law came around, it was his turn to have that guy stuff.

My dad was born in Superior, Wisconsin, right at the tip of Lake Superior, and lived in that area all of his young life. Like most boys who grew up in the Great Lakes Region, I suppose, fishing was a way of life, and my dad and his brother, Bill, were no exception. They were adventurous boys, and I have seen several pictures of them through those young years with their various catches. From a catch of a dozen or more fish, to this BIG beauty when they were 2 or 3 and 4 or 5 years old, they were just very successful fiushermen. So I guess, fishing was just in their blood. They had many duties around the old place, so I guess I can see how for two boys, the best way to relax was just fishin’.

My mom and I were on our way to take her to a picnic with her sisters and brothers the other day, and she started telling me about some of the family outings she went on as a child. It was a bad time in American history. The years following Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929…the Great Depression years. Most people didn’t have much money. With a large family, something most people did have in those days, finding a way to have an outing with your kids and make it fun on very little money was a real challenge. Families had to walk to many outings, making the rivers edge or just a field outside of town a good spot to go to. Taking lunch turned the whole thing into a fun way to have a change of pace from the every day. Games such as “Kick the Can” were the rage in those days. And of course, watching the birds and looking for deer and other animals is something that has spanned the generations. There is nothing like seeing a wild animal just walking through the fields without noticing that you are there…yet.

My grandfather always loved the outdoors and especially rocks. He would often gather up his kids and head somewhere outside of town, where they could all search for pretty rocks. He would turn those rocks into fun things for them. He turned hunting rock into a quest. The kids thrived on it. They would find one they thought he might be able to use and run to show him their treasure. After a while, they began to enjoy rock hunting as much as their dad did, and I know my mom still loves it to this day, though she can’t do much of it now. After years of gathering rocks of every type and color, Grandpa got a rock polishing machine and began making beautiful jewelry. I guess all those years of taking the kids out gathering rocks was going to finally pay off. I still have a necklace he made me from a beautiful pink rock. He made many a gift from those rocks, and that machine could really bring out the beauty in a rock that prior to that time, Grandpa was the only one who could see its true potential.

Mom says that her parents just knew how to make doing anything fun. They didn’t have to spend a lot of money or go very far. The park, or just a hillside could be turned into something that was very cool. It just took a little imagination, and that was a gift my grandparents were blessed with. And something my mom, aunts and uncles thrived on and will always have to look back on and reminisce about.

We had a chance to spend some time on the mountain at my boss, Jim’s cabin this last weekend. It was just so peaceful to sit and watch the hummingbirds. I look back on the time we spent there, and it occurs to me that there wasn’t a lot of talking, just bird, and squirrel, watching. I suppose that could have looked, to someone outside the situation, like we were ignoring our hosts, but everyone’s eyes were transfixed on the flurry of activity at the hummingbird feeders.

The birds vied for the best feeding spot, hungrily feasting on the sugar water dinner they were so generously provided. Jim and Julie were telling us of the massive amounts of sugar they go through just to keep their little charges satisfied. Now I call them charges, but if you ask me it sounds like they are the ones in charge, and Jim and Julie are at their beck and call.  And the squirrels are so smart. They didn’t take the peanuts that had fed down through the feeder, they lifted the lid to make their own choice

It was so relaxing. The birds kept us entertained with their antics. They didn’t mind having us quite close to them, in fact the only thing that seemed to make them fly off very much was when another bird flew in to feed. As far as we were concerned, the must have thought we were similar to a tree, because while they didn’t try to land on us, they buzzed right by us so closely sometimes that it made us duck. Several times I wasn’t sure how they missed me. It was great fun.

There were so many of them, that you never ran out of tiny birds to watch. The area was alive with them. Hummingbirds are so unique. I don’t know of another bird quite like them. I could be wrong, of course. I’m not an expert, but I have never heard of any similar. Maybe that is why they hold us spellbound like they do. I find myself able to sit for a long time just watching them, and in my busy life, that is such a rarity that I am…well, grateful. My life is so busy that sometimes I don’t take enough time for myself…to slow down and regroup. There is just something about watching the hummingbirds vie for position that is interesting and yet relaxing at the same time. It was a day that I so enjoyed and I am so thankful for and definitely a day I look forward to experiencing again. Thanks Jim and Julie

58 years ago today, my parents were married in a simple ceremony at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Casper, Wyoming. It was the start of a beautiful and long life together. My dad was a friend of my mom’s family, and that is how she met him. She told me she saw my dad and thought, “Wow!!” I guess says it all. My mom had found her man. And my dad felt the same way. Dad never called my mom by her name, but always called her “Doll” instead.

My dad was her knight in shining armor, and my mom loved his southern gentleman ways. He always made her feel like a princess. In fact, that is how he was with all his girls. He was understanding and patient, even when we were screaming over a moth across the room, or the imaginary bear that might be just outside the dark camp spot, creating the serious need for another log on the fire in the middle of the night.

Mom and Dad were a team. They did pretty much everything together, especially after his retirement. The was simply no place they would rather be than with their spouse. It was a love that would last forever, and still very much continues today. My mom has never considered loving any other man. Dad had shown her the world and all the beauty it can hold, and walked the path holding her hand on this journey we call life, her companion and best friend, her confidant and cheerleader. He was her biggest fan and she was his. The love they shared radiated from their eyes, and never dimmed, in all the years they spent together.

Yes, the last 3 anniversaries have been spent apart, but only physically, because they will be together forever again very soon. My mom looks forward to the time when she will see my dad again, but knows that it will be yet a little while, because she is still needed here. There is more for her to do before they are again, together forever. Happy anniversary Mom and Dad!! I love you both very much!!

Corrie met Kevin when she was just 14 years old. They worked together at Burger King, and she was not allowed to date until she was 15. I made an exception and let her go out a day or so early, because he wanted her to meet his brother, who was moving. Little did I know what would come of this relationship. You never expect your daughter to marry the first man she dates, but that is what happened. It was love at first sight, and it has never changed.

Their relationship quickly progressed into a deep love and respect. They were mature about the proper way of doing things. I attributed that to the fact that Kevin at 4 years older than Corrie and out of high school at the time, didn’t feel the need to act like a high school boy. They did do many of the high school things, so that she wouldn’t miss out, such as prom, co-ed ball, and other activities. Since they had both attended the same high school, and he was just out of high school when they met, they shared a loyalty to the school, which I’m sure helped some, but Kevin is very thoughtful, and he didn’t want her to regret that she didn’t do the high school activities.

After several years of dating, I began to realize that these kids were serious about each other. They were so young, but I had to admit that I liked Kevin, and he and Corrie seemed so right for each other. Their relationship worked. Still, I wondered how a relationship that started out with two people so young and one, my daughter, very young, could manage to last, but I was delightfully surprised at how they have lived their lives. They have been loyal and faithful to each other, and have stayed very much in love.

Kevin asked Corrie to marry him on her 17th birthday, and they were married 17 days after her 18th birthday. That was 18 years ago, and they are still very much in love. Their marriage has been blessed with two wonderful sons, Christopher and Joshua. While no marriage is without its tougher times, they weathered the harder times together, and came out stronger than ever.

It is a rare thing indeed, for a relationship that began when one of its parties is 14 to endure the test of time and last 21 years together and 18 years married, but theirs has done just that. As anyone who has been married knows, marriage is a lot of work. No marriage will last if the couple is not willing to work at it, and I am so proud of these my kids who have worked hard to develop a strong marriage that beat the odds. Happy Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you both very much!!

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