candy

May Day is an almost forgotten day of the “special days” on the calendar. When I was a kid, our mother, Collene Spencer helped us make “May Baskets” and fill them with candy. Then we would take them to the neighbors’ homes and hang them on the doorknobs. We would then knock on the door and go hide. The homeowner then had to try to find us…or they could just shout out their “thank you” and enjoy the candy. No matter what they decided to do, we always had a great time giving May Baskets, and I think it taught us to be givers.

There are a number of traditions that were carried out in the early years of May Day, but have since faded away. Things like the May Pole dance and fire cleansing (I’m not even sure what that is). There might be places where they still celebrate in this way, and some towns actually have a permanent May Pole. Some other traditions like the May Baskets and spring cleaning have stuck it out for the long haul. I’ll bet you didn’t even know that spring cleaning actually started as a May Day tradition, and yet millions of people do some time of spring cleaning, yard preparation, and even redecorating or remodeling beginning on May Day.

For me, these days, May Day doesn’t involve May Baskets. That is a tradition that went by the wayside with my adulthood. I think my mom would have done that for all of her life, if she could find willing co-conspirators, and that makes me a little sad, because Mom never really asked much of anyone. Nevertheless, she did love her traditions, and it must have been a little sad for her to see May Baskets go by the wayside. For me, May Day really doesn’t mean anything much, except that Spring is finally…really here. The days are longer and warmer. I can get outside and walk on my trail, especially in the early mornings, which have been far too cold prior to this, and still might be a bit cold some mornings. It always seems like the year shifts into high gear on May Day, because while I don’t mind Fall, I don’t look forward to the coming Winter. I am more of a three-season girl, who would love to just skip Winter completely, but I live in the wrong state for that so…anyway, happy May Day everyone. May your celebration…whatever that is, be sweet and special.

In the midst of a time when so many people are offended, angry, and tired of so many restrictions, comes a day when we can all take our minds off of the negative stuff going on and focus on something good…love. Over the past two years, we have been bombarded with lock downs, riots, protests, and a general show of hate. It has been a trying time for all of us. We need more love in our lives. Love doesn’t just apply to romantic love, but anyone can be your valentine…friends, children, and parents too. In fact, I can’t think of a more important time in history to celebrate love.

While romantic love is traditionally the big reason for Valentine’s Day, and I love the special times and traditions with my husband, Bob, I think I find that the traditions that are the most fun are ones that surround the little kids. Little ones live to receive candy and gifts. They don’t care how much you sent or what they receive, they just love the show of love you are giving them. I’ve seen kids get a dollar box of candy or a chocolate rose, and they are totally happy. Younger kids even love getting something like chocolate pudding or applesauce. They don’t really care what it is…kids just like gifts, and for me it’s fun to watch their little faces light up.

However, Valentine’s Day is celebrated, the point of the holiday is to let your loved ones know that you love and appreciate them. Of course, every day is a great day to tell your loved ones how much you love them, but I think it’s nice to make a special effort once in a while, because it’s just as easy to take our loved ones for granted, and before we know it, they feel a little bit unloved. Of course, we should never let that happen. In fact, maybe every day should be Valentine’s Day, because after all, our loved ones are always our Valentines, aren’t they. Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

Some holidays celebrate one thing and one thing only, but others, such as May Day, can have several meanings. When my sisters and I were children, May Day was a special day. Our mom, Collene Spencer would go to the story and buy candy. We made baskets out of construction paper and put candy in them. Then we would sneak around the neighborhood, hang the baskets on the front door of a neighbor and knock on the door. Then, we would run and hide. Sometimes they would catch us, and sometimes they would just yell out “thank you,” but they were always pleased that we though of them and did something nice for them.

Many people look at May Day as celebrating the beginning of the summer season, or at least the warmer part of Spring. It is a day when it seems like suddenly the flowers have all begun to bloom, the grass gets green, and the trees got their leaves. That is a great way to think about it, because for me Spring and Summer are the best times of the year. I love being able to get out and hike and just enjoy the warm weather. Some of the celebrations included a Maypole dance where ribbons were wrapped around a pole to create a work of art. The ribbons are multi-colored, so its like braiding them together. Its a great game for the kids…and a great welcome to Summer!!

In the United States, May first has another meaning…it is also Law Day. These days it is questionable as to how people feel about that, but to me it is an important day. Our nation needs law and order, and I believe that most people would agree. Law Day is a day meant to reflect on the role of law in the foundation of the country and to recognize its importance for society. These days there are people who are against the police, except when they need one, and then suddenly the police are very important. I have and have had law enforcement officers in my family, and I can say that they are some of the most caring people I know. So to them I say Happy Law Day!! To everyone else, Happy May Day!!

Every year…like clockwork, parents dress their children up in costumes, and the annual tradition of children roaming the neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and asking for treats…with the threat of tricks, if the “blackmail” is not paid…begins. It’s Halloween, of course. These days, not as many children really understand how the whole thing is supposed to work. They just see it as a day to gather up as much candy as possible. I read somewhere that children consume, on average, 7,000 calories worth of candy…or the equivalent of almost 11 Burger King Whoppers, without cheese, and not the new meatless version, of course. It’s a good thing that most kids are very active, or that many calories could be bad. And that isn’t even considering the sugar high that the parents will have to deal with. Try putting that child to bed after all that, and you’ll find that it’s going to be a long night. The best you can hope for is that the day falls on a Friday, so they don’t have to get up for school the next day…not the case this year, unfortunately.

So, with all the negative aside, the costumes people come up with are usually very cute. I prefer the costumes that don’t focus on the gruesome and horrific, but there are always a few of those. This year, with all my grandchildren grown up, we will only have our little great granddaughter heading out to see what she can come home with. At just 17 months, she will most likely only be going a few places, and since she is so little, she isn’t as totally addicted to candy as she will most likely become in future years. Nevertheless, I’ve never seen her turn down a treat either.

I remember Halloweens past, when my grandchildren were little. They couldn’t wait to get out there, and they really preferred if their parents didn’t stand around and talk. After all, they had rounds to make, and it wasn’t getting any earlier. My grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen, always had the cutest costumes. I suppose I might be a bit biased, but I don’t care. I’m sure every parent and every grandparent feels the same way about their own little ones. It’s our prerogative!! Our little ones never had any tricks up their sleeves, that I knew of, but I do recall the year when I, as a little kid, was handed a little bar of soap, by my mother, Collene Spencer. It was my “trick” and I was only asked by one person, what trick I had up my sleeve. When I showed him the soap, he let out a great big guffaw!! He had no idea that I would even know what he meant. He said that it made his whole day!! Happy Halloween everyone!! Be safe out there!!

In many ways, my nephew, Tucker Birky is a typical eleven year old boy. He loves to do all the goofy things that make those who know him laugh hysterically. There is almost nothing that is off limits when it comes to ways to make people laugh. He might eat candy in such a way as to make green lips, and the grin impishly. Hi might put something funny on, like funny glasses, a wrapping paper hat, or just a funny face, Tucker is up for it. It’s all about getting the laugh from his audience. That is Tucker…and that’s what makes everybody love Tucker. He is always happy and smiling. He does like looking good, and recently discovered what a difference a haircut can make in a guys appearance.

While Tucker is a funny guy, when it comes to his studies, he is all business. Tucker reads at the ninth grade level, even though he is only in 5th grade. Tucker is also top of his class of 30 students in piano. Tucker isn’t into sports much, but would rather play Fortnight on his Xbox, play with his dogs, or help his dad, my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg with things in the garage or doing the chores. He likes splitting wood, and helps his mom, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg with chores too, but my guess is that he doesn’t like those as much as the ones that ate “man’s work” chores. Tucker is a candy-holic, and if they would let him, his favorite breakfast would be…you guessed it, candy. It doesn’t matter that he has braces now, if he thinks he can get away with it, he will eat candy.

Tucker has recently decided that he likes listening to music, and sometimes likes to have it turned up very loud in the car, with all the windows down. I’m not sure what the purpose of the windows being down is, but maybe so he can share his tunes with anyone in the general vicinity. Tucker loves his mom, and is learning to cook. It is something they can do together. While Tucker might not be the biggest kid in his class, he has a heart that can rival any one of them. Today is Tucker’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When I think of Easter, I immediately think of my Christian faith. I think of the miracle of salvation, and the willing sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The human race was in so much trouble. Sin had entered in and we were doomed. There was no way out, because the wages of sin is death and all has sinned. But God has a solution. Innocent blood must be shed to pay the price for all those who had sinned. There was not other way to reverse the curse that sin had brought sin the world.

The death of Jesus, on Good Friday, was a brutal one. As we know, humans have the ability to inflict horrible pain and wounds upon one another. Jesus was a man, but he was also God. He felt every brutal flogging, and endured every humiliation that was thrust upon him, and he did it knowing that it was vital. In fact it was the most important mission in history…past, present, and future. No single act would ever be more important, because the death on the cross was a “once for all” thing. His death reversed history. What the devil stole from the human race, Jesus returned.

When Jesus arose from the dead, three days later, our justification was complete. We could now go to Heaven, just by believing that Jesus had made that sacrifice for us, and accepting him as our Lord and Saviour. Such a simple way to receive eternal life, and yet, so many people refuse to receive, because they think they will have to give up their fun life. Little do they know what they are really giving up. This life is just a moment in time…Heaven is forever. The difference is stark. This life is fleeting and soon will be gone, but the next life will never end, and we can choose where we spend it, so we must choose wisely.

Many people celebrated with a big dinner, and Easter candy, and that is fine but people should never forget the real reason we celebrate Easter…the resurrection of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. Jesus is risen!! He is alive!! Happy Easter everyone!!

Whether you consider Valentine’s Day to be a highly commercialized day, geared toward getting the consumer to spend a bunch of money on silliness, or you see it as a day set aside to celebrate love, everyone who has loved ones in their life, has to deal with it in some way. Perhaps deal with it is a poor choice of words, but there are those who feel like that is exactly what the day is all about…and they have loved ones too. Of course, those same people feel like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all the others are the same commercialized money trap. I don’t really get that. Why not have a day here and there to celebrate the people who have blessed your life? After all, where would your life be without those wonderful people in it. Sometimes, I think people take their family so much for granted, that they forget how blessed they truly are.

I get that we are all busy. In fact, that is one reason why we should embrace these days. They remind us to take a moment out of our busy, hectic lives and remember the people who are always there for us…through thick and thin, and I don’t mean just our spouse. Our parents have given up many things to make a better life for their kids; our siblings basically guarantee that we always have friends; our kids, in whose eyes, we can do no wrong…at least when they are little. We have all of these people, who show us so much love, and then we complain about having to buy them a little box of candy or flowers!! What does that say about us?

There are also marriages and families that are a little bit more unconventional, who do things like dinner, or handmade gifts, and in reality it is not the gift that counts, but the thought…the sentiment…the love. And most of all, it’s about showing how much they are loved, because after all, it’s the love that matters. And since it is the love that matters, why not show it.

I love looking at the pictures my family posts…especially the kids. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s true, but sometimes it’s the caption that really grabs me. Such was the case the other day when I looked at this picture posted by my cousin, Grace Oltman. The picture shows the smiling faces of her son, Hosea and her sister, Angel Pallas’ daughter, Hazel. These kids never cease to amaze me, because they are just being kids, after all. Grace captioned the picture with, “They will do anything for some candy.” That immediately took me back to the years when my grandchildren were little ones, and we tried so hard, sometimes in vain to get a good picture of the four of them.

As the grandma, it was my idea to do the four of them, and sometimes I think my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, thought I was crazy. In fact, sometimes I thought I was crazy. We tried everything to get them to all four smile at the same time…and I mean we tried everything, including candy, if they cooperated. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. Now, looking at the pictures Grace took…which turned out amazing, by the way, I see what my problem was. She gave them the candy while they had the picture taken. What kid wouldn’t smile with a piece of chocolate in their hand? Oh, if I had only known. Of course, these little kids, Hazel, Hosea, Tenley, and Canaan, as well as cousins, Addilayde and Meadow, are definitely not strangers to the camera. Their parents take lots of pictures of them, and these kids know how to smile for the camera. I think that is why I enjoy looking at all their pictures so much. There is just nothing sweeter than looking at a smiling child…even if it is a candy smile, and even if the candy, cake, or whatever else they may enjoy having, is all over their face.

Every once in a while, however, even mom’s who take great pictures because the kids are so cooperative, will hit a bit of a snag. Such was the case when Grace took the picture of little Hosea and his little brother Canaan. Hosea was wearing his usual great smile, but Canaan needed a little help. Uh…Grace, I think you forgot the chocolate on this one, but then I guess Canaan was a teeny bit to small for that. Nevertheless, those sad face pictures can be just as cute as the ones that are all smiles. In the end, I had to promise to let my grandkids, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen, do one goofy picture in order to get good smiles out of them. I guess that the moral of the story is…whatever works.

14915726_10207674439914949_2327968944635573688_n1493159_10202953481025562_5006047457295047592_nHalloween started out as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve. Originally, it was to be a time dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. These days, very few churches still practice it in that way, if at all. Yet, many of the Celtic traditions from Ireland that were there before Christianity came to the area, are still observed. Activities include trick-or-treating, attending Halloween costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into Jack O’Lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. Since I’m totally not a fan of horror movies, and thankfully, my husband, Bob agrees with me on that, we avoid the horror movies at all costs, and are pretty happy when Halloween is over, because then there aren’t so many horror movies on television. Nurse Corrie

Over the years, the costumes worn by kids and adults alike have changed. Very few people want the traditional costumes anymore. Now it’s things like superheroes, cartoon characters, firefighters, or even period costumes, like Vikings or pirates. These days, anything goes. If it interests you, you can make it a costume. I’ve even seen people dress their little ones up as a Lego block, or a car, complete with the body of the car attached to the child’s waist. The creativity is amazing, and I wish I had thought of some of those things when my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were little, because it would have been so cute. I wasn’t very inventive, so the girls were kind of the normal things, but my girls got more creative than I did with their kids…or maybe the costumes just got better.

With the adults getting in on the action, you will see more parties and even people dressing up at work. Some scan0012halloween-at-rice-insuranceoffices even have contests to see who has the best costume. It’s all in the fun of the day, and lots of people spend quite a bit of time getting ready for the activities. My niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve always have a party. It is something our whole family looks forward to. Unfortunately, this year, Bob and I will have to miss out on the fun, because we have to bowl. We are disappointed, of course, but there is always next year. Happy Halloween everyone!!

Baby GirlThis time of year, everything is so exciting for the little ones in our lives…and even for the not so little ones. The littlest ones especially find the lights, gifts, candy, and the excitement of it all to be almost more than they can believe. Their eyes light up as brightly as the Christmas tree, and keeping their little hands away from the tree and gifts can prove to be really difficult. On Thursday nights, I spend the evening with my mom, Collene Spencer and my sister, Cheryl Masterson. With school activities and Christmas shopping to do, my niece Jenny Spethman often drops her daughter, Aleesia off at my mom’s so she can spend a little time with her grandma and great grandma. That means I get to see quite a bit of her too, and she is so much fun to be around at this age. She is such a goofy little girl anyway, and I don’t know if it’s the candy or the season, but she becomes even more goofy.

I have had a chance to hear Aleesia say a lot of things, and believe me they are all just as cute as they can be. She always calls the movie Despicable Me, Spicable Me and the Minis. She calls my mom, her great grandma, GeeGee. She loves to say Paaaaleese with her grandma. These are common mispronunciations among little kids to be sure, but such fun to hear the kids say. And as we all know, kids grow up so fast that before you know it they can say all their words without mispronunciation, and those cute little sayings days are gone.

This last week, while my niece, Jenny was shopping, Aleesia and her brother Zack were at Mom’s house and we were watching kid movies. It’s funny how easily you can get used to those kid shows, when there is a little one around trying to say all the words they aren’t sure how to pronounce. That night though, Aleesia was having a lot of trouble concentrating on the movie. She kept touching the tree and pointing to the tree. Then she got up on the couch and looked out the window and saw the lights on the other houses and said, “Moo Lights!!” I laughed in spite of myself. I knew that she was trying to say “more lights”, but in my head I pictured cow-shaped lights. It was such a funny thought, that I could not keep a straight face.

Of course, what would Christmas be without candy. Christmas especially seems to be filled with baking of cakes, pies, cookies, and candy. By the time the holiday is over, the kids have had so much candy that is takes a couple of weeks to bring them back to earth. My sister, Cheryl had a really difficult time limiting the amount Decorating the treeof candy Aleesia had. Aleesia kept coming back for more, saying, “Chocoleet!” She placed a strong emphasis on the “leet” part, and her high little voice just made it sound so cute. Of course, it was chocolate, but any candy would have been just fine.

I know that these days are very short, at least for Aleesia mispronouncing word, so I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to be around to hear her funny little sayings. They will most likely be said only this year, and then next year, she will either not mispronounce words, or the mispronunciations will be entirely different words. Either way, I think I will always smile when I look at Christmas lights, because the thought of cow-shaped lights called Moo Lights will always be in my memory files.

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