games

My cousin, Shirley Cameron is the first granddaughter of my grandmother, Anna Louise Schumacher Spencer and grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, and would remain the only granddaughter for nearly the first seven years of her life. As the first granddaughter, and the only one for so long, she and my grandmother became quite close. Grandma passed away when I was just six months old, so I never really got to know her. Nevertheless, Shirley has told me a few things about Grandma that give me a bit of a view of her…humorous side. Kids tend to get into trouble with their parents, and Shirley is no different, but Shirley had a bit of an edge when it came to getting in trouble with her mom. She would run to her Grandma Spencer, who would teasingly shield her from her mother’s wrath. It’s one thing to plan to spank your child, but when your mother gets in the middle of things and makes the whole thing seem like a game of chase, it sometimes becomes impossible…not to laugh, that is.

Our grandmother spent part of her time in a wheelchair, due to Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Shirley remembers climbing up on her lap and tearing around the house with much screaming, of excitement that is, while her mother most likely sported a headache from all the noise, but I must admit, I would probably find it quite fun to ride around the house on Grandma’s lap in her wheelchair. I also think that while Grandma and Shirley might have ganged up on Aunt Ruth, and Grandma might have helped Shirley get away with a few things, Aunt Ruth probably also loved watching the two of them being so close. I suppose that could be the grandma in me talking, because I loved being so close to my grandchildren. It is a privilege that is simply priceless. Nevertheless, I think my grandkids liked it too. There is just something wonderful about being close to your grandparents.

As with most of us, those childhood days have long since turned into childhood memories. Both Grandma and Aunt Ruth have been in Heaven now for many years, but Shirley will always have the memories of those amazing fun times, and that is something most of the rest of us will never have, because we were either too little, or not born yet, when our grandma passed away, with the exception of three of the grandsons. Knowing Grandma is something I wish I had been able to do too, but I love hearing about the good times Shirley and Grandma had. Today is Shirley’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

12744046_1007366095996590_7429582353481087613_nApparently, I am a little bit behind the times, because these days people set up their own YouTube channel to record everything from the songs they sing, to the games they like to play, to their daily life. My grand nephew, Topher Spicer has a YouTube channel, and he is very serious about the things he puts on there. He doesn’t like to have his recordings messed up because someone walked into his room in the middle of things, so the biggest thing on his current wish list is a sign that says Recording In Process.

Topher’s favorite game is Mine Craft, and that really must be the game of choice for most kids, because it seems to be the game all my grand nieces and grand nephews play. I’m not into games, so I suppose I just don’t get the draw. Of course, that isn’t the only game he plays, because like most kids, Topher loves all things iPad. Now, I can’t blame him there, Topher's teambecause I am very tech serious, so all things iPad, iPhone, or computer are very cool. Keep it up Topher, you can go a long way in business with a technological mind.

Topher’s mom, my niece Andrea Beach, tells me that Topher is really showing all the signs of “teendom” and she kind of wishes he wouldn’t…especially in the area of his moods. I can relate to that, as can every parent. Nevertheless, like most mom’s she realizes that Topher will alwys be her little baby, and like most mom’s she will just have to hold onto that thought as he spreads his wings in new areas of life, because time waits for no man, and Topher, like all kids is growing up very quickly.

Topher loves to hang out at the Sinclair Recreation Center with family friends, Nikki Vigil and her son Marcus. Andrea & TopherThey go to the rec center three days a week. It’s always cool to go play and have some fun, and the rec center is a great hangout for kids. Topher really loves to play soccer too. He was on a team for the first time this year, and he has discovered that he is a very good defender. His team was the Sinclair Dinos. I’m sure he will continue to play, and of course, get better and better. He will be key player for his team, I’m sure. Topher likes all things boy, including comics, which is pretty typical, but he is also able to interact with people and animals alike. In fact, I have noticed that when he is at my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s house, her cat Lewie love sitting by Topher…and since he doesn’t like kids much…that’s amazing. Today is Topher’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Topher!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageMany people today believe that we, as a people, spend far too much time online, on the phone, and otherwise technologically engaged. They believe that the world would be better off without all the technology. I think they have not given enough thought to their idea. We can say. “Let’s get rid of the internet”, but then we would lose the ability to run most businesses. We can say, “Let’s get rid of the telephone”, but again most businesses rely on the phone. Yes, things like television, the internet, radio, and even cell phones are a source of entertainment, but that is not all they are. They keep us informed with important news and weather warnings. They keep us in touch with loved ones, they allow us to place orders for supplies to be brought to our stores, they allow us to provide care for our loved ones who are ill, and to be available to them and to nursing staff at the drop of a hat. So, let’s really explore what it might be like if all technology was gone.

On September 1, 1859, amateur astronomer Richard Carrington went up into his private observatory, which was attached to his country estate outside London. After cranking open the dome’s shutter to reveal the clear blue sky, he pointed his brass telescope toward the sun and began to sketch a cluster of enormous dark spots that freckled its surface. Remember that he couldn’t look online for pictures of what he was seeing, nor could he look online for an explanation of it. Nevertheless, he would soon know more about what he saw than he would ever have wanted to know. Suddenly, Carrington spotted what he described as “two patches of intensely bright and white light” erupting from the sunspots. Five minutes later the fireballs vanished, but within hours their impact would be felt across the globe.

There was not a lot of technology in existence when the largest solar storm on record, dubbed The Carrington Event occurred, but by that evening the ensuing anomaly would be know worldwide. It was not technology that would bring the world to a standstill…but rather the lack of technology. At that time, the greatest form of technology the world had was the telegraph. Other than letters, it was the world’s communication. And now it was gone. Sparks flew from the machines, and caught paper on fire that happened to be nearby. All over the planet, colorful auroras illuminated the nighttime skies, glowing so brightly that birds began to chirp and laborers started their daily chores, believing the sun had begun rising. Some thought the end of the world was upon them. In reality, it was a very large solar storm, and it could happen again. In fact, the Earth has had several close calls in 2012, 2013, and 2014. If one of these solar storms had made a direct hit on the Earth, electrical transformers would have burst into flames, power grids would have gone down and much of our technology would have been fried. Life as we know it would cease to exist…and we would be in that state for quite some time. Earth would be instantly plunged into the dark ages. These kinds of solar storms have hit the Earth many times before, and experts tell us that it will happen again someday.

I realize that many people disagree with my views on technology, and by the way I believe it is vital, including Facebook. Nevertheless, it really is impossible to have some technology without having the social media. People are just naturally inventive. It you invent one thing, someone will invent another. So the next time you decide that we should just get rid of technology, think about what it has done for the medical world, the information highway, and national security. And if that doesn’t make you change your mind, imagine not being imageimageable to fill up your car, and the fact that it wouldn’t run if you did. Imagine having no electricity, and no way to get the fuel to run a generator. Yes, there are people who are preparing for just such an event, but there really is no way to prepare for all that would be needed if every system known to man was fried. I believe that instead of doing away with technology, we each need to decide how much time we want to spend on things like Facebook, cell phone games, and television, and stick to our decisions. That part really is up to you.

scan0036 (4)A young friend of mine recently had a new baby, and I was reminded if the age old tradition of the shower. Women through the years have helped brides-to-be and soon to be moms prepare for the upcoming event for some time now. The bridal shower got it’s start in 1890, and is mostly a tradition held in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The baby shower was one that transitioned from the purification rituals that used to occur back when women had to remain in seclusion for 14 days after giving birth, to the naming and baptismal ceremonies, and finally to what they are today, which is more of a way to welcome the new baby with gifts that are necessary for caring for the child. Personally, I like them more for what they are today, as I’m sure most people would agree. These days, the showers just as often include the husband-to-be or the new daddy, in what used to be a pretty much exclusively female party.

One tradition, when it comes to showers, that people either like a lot, or completely dislike is the traditional shower Baby Shower Helpergames. We have all been to showers where you tried to name the new baby, diaper a balloon, remember the kitchen utensils on a tray, or give marriage advise to the young couple. Not everyone likes to play these things, and having been to showers of both types, I really have to say that I like both. I think it is simply a matter of taste…and maybe of well thought out games. In the years that I have been attending showers, I have played just about every possible game, and I must say that there have been a few that were great. I personally liked the diapering the balloon, the name game, and the balloon under the shirt game. That one was actually played for the first time…by me anyway, at my niece, Ashley Parmely’s baby shower, and it was hilarious. Of course, as the mother-to-be, Ashley won. The point was to see who could have the biggest belly. Technically, Ashley had a distinct advantage over the rest of us…she had the balloon belly, and the Reagan belly. The rest of us didn’t stand a chance, but it was fun to try to get a belly that was bigger than hers.

Some of the funniest shower games are those played with a blindfold on…like the one above, in which my sister-in-law Jennifer Parmely was trying to scoop all the cotton balls into a bowl, without being able to see scan0201them. They are so light that you really don’t know if you have anything on there or not, and since you can’t use your other hand to assist in the process, you find yourself being less than successful. And since it seems that there are always a few little ones in the group, the laughter can get going pretty easily. My brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg found his sister’s attempts quite hilarious indeed. It’s all intended to break the ice among friends of the honoree, who may not know each other, as well as adding a little bit of laughter and fun to the whole occasion. So the next time you go to a shower, and find that games will be played, try taking a lighter view of it. You might find yourself having a great time, even if you don’t usually like to play those silly shower games.

ElectronicsPlaying a gameWhile I was at our family Christmas party Saturday night, I noticed all the people using electronic devices for entertainment. I know this is a subject that has been beaten to death by a lot of people, but I guess I have a little different view of it. I know that people may not socialize as much with those around them, and I suppose that is a problem, but it is the way things are these days…and in all reality, I am one of those people who gets on their phone a lot. I try not to get on it too much when I’m with my husband or kids, but the reality is that it’s hard not to. I have had to learn to be available…mostly for my kids and the family members that I am caregiver for. There are no other options. You are needed at all hours of the day and night, and so you keep your cell phone close.

With texting, you can send the message and then get back to your conversation, so it leaves you with less time that you are ignoring the person you are with, but not everything involves texting. I have moments when I get an idea for my writing…even in the middle of the night, and if I don’t put it down somewhere, I find myself thinking, “What was that idea again?” And believe me, that is frustrating. I have used my phone to Google something that those I’m with and I are talking about, such as parts some actor played in some show, or what day a battle took place in World War II, which usually is something I am quite interested in. A smart phone is truly an unlimited source of information, and I must say that I seem much smarter when I use it.

Yes, we live in a world of everything at our fingertips, and that is not always a bad thing. I have placed orders from my phone, transferred funds from my phone, emailed from my phone, and I can even get my proof of insurance for license plates from my phone now. The smart phone is simply a time and even sanity saver. How can it save your sanity you ask. Well, tell me, what three year old can’t play a game on a smart phone. When you child is crying, and you are in public, that can be a definite sanity saver. And when you older child is in a situation whereby they need to sit still, and they really don’t want to, a smart phone is a great form of entertainment that will keep them out of trouble and save you from embarrassment. And when you are in a public place and your kid is one of the ones who is sitting quietly and entertaining himself, that is a good thing. You get to look like the awesome mom or dad.

I can think of lots of reasons that we should try to be aware of those around us , and limit our time on the cell phone or other electronics, as a show of respect, and I can think of lots of reasons that the smart phone is not Texting ChrisYou caught mesuch a bad idea. I guess it is a matter of trying not to abuse it, and trying to be respectful and understanding of those who aren’t using it. Of course one other thing I have noticed, and that I have tried to do myself, is to include others in what you are doing with your smart phone. I usually try to show Bob some of the things I find of Facebook, because he loves a good bit of humor. And it lets him be a part of what I’m doing even if he doesn’t smart phone…because not everybody does, you know. And here I was just thinking, “Everybody does it!!” Ok, almost everybody does it. Admit it…you do it too.

imagejpeg_0aMy Grand Nephew, Easton Moore, who is the youngest son of my niece Machelle and her husband, Steve, is having his tenth birthday today. Turning ten, is a big deal to Easton, as it is with most kids. He is leaving the little kid days of a single digit age behind, and moving on into the much more grown up days of double digit ages. Nothing could be more important to a guy than that!! After all, it is the beginning of so many new phases in his life…right??

Well, it is…but those new phases can seem a little bit daunting too. Many kids at this age, think it’s babyish to say things like, “I love you Mom!” For Easton, that could be a problem, because one of his favorite things is to sit on his mom’s lap when she sits down to watch television, and then tell her that he loves her about every 5 minutes. I hope that is something that Easton never allows to bother him. My grandson, Caalab is like that, and even though he is going to be 17 this summer, he still gives me a imagejpeg_0bhug and tells me he loves me…and he is very macho, so don’t worry about that, Easton, ok.

Easton is not sure he likes having his own room either, and he can often be found sleeping on the floor in his brother’s room. Again, that is not too unusual at this age, especially since he and his brother shared a room until recently. That is a problem he shares with his Aunt Susie, and seems to happen when the younger child finally gets their own room. The older one shared until they were old enough not to be bothered by that aloneness. Time will cure that little problem.

One thing Easton definitely doesn’t miss is being in the back seat of the car. He is now big enough to no longer require a booster seat, so he finally gets to ride up front with his mom…and now she is the one who finds that odd. I’m sure that Easton loves being closer to the radio, so he can turn it up when his favorite song, “Life is Beautiful” by Sixx AM comes on. Of imagejpeg_0dcourse, he is into anything Zombie, like his favorite movie, “I Am Legend” and his favorite game, “Walking Dead”, both of which I will leave to him, since I don’t like zombies or vampires or walking dead people…at all!!

Basically, Easton is a goofy kid, even if he is 10 years old now. He likes to make all the faces that are so in style these days and pick on those around him, like hiding on the floor of the car so he can scare the person getting in. He likes to pick on his cousin, Kaytlyn too…but I’m not sure she finds that very amusing. Today is Easton’s tenth birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! We love you!! Have a great day, but quit growing up so fast, ok!!

Uncle Wayne ByerWhen my Uncle Wayne Byer was a little boy, it was unheard of for boys to wear shorts…or at least that was the opinion of Uncle Wayne, his brother, my Uncle Larry, and the boys they hung out with. They weren’t against going shirtless in the summer as a way of beating the heat though. Uncle Larry didn’t go shirtless as often as Uncle Wayne did though, because being a blond, he sunburned much easier than Uncle Wayne did. Uncle Wayne, on the other hand, tanned so deeply in the summertime that people often asked him if he was an Indian.

Summers were spent playing outside for most of the day, much of that time in the middle of the street. One woman in particular got very annoyed at the kids as they always seemed to be in the street when she wanted to drive down it. She proceeded to yell at them to “get out of the street and stay out of it.” Like most kids, that didn’t influence them much. They nonchalantly stepped slowly out of the way and let her pass, and then promptly went right back to playing in the street. I have to think they played out in the street at the exact time she had to leave for work, just so they could irritate her…typical of kids, and the mischievous brothers and their friends really enjoyed irritating her.

Uncle Wayne also loved playing Annie-Annie Over, which was a game where one team threw a ball over the house, calling out Annie-Annie Over. That was the only warning the other team got. If they caught the ball, they could sneak around the house and try to tag someone on the opposing team with the ball, before that team could run around to the other side of the house, thereby claiming that side as theirs now. If they tagged someone, that person was now on their team. If the ball didn’t go over, the throwing team called out Pigtail. That way, they got another chance to throw. When one whole team ends up on the opposing team’s side, the game is over, and the winning team is the one with team members. The summer days were filled with this and many other games, and made for great memories.

Uncle Wayne and the rest of the boys he hung out with always seemed to be in some mischief and before long the police were called. No they weren’t in serious trouble, but in those days, the police would bring them in and call their parents. For most kids, this straightened them out pretty quickly, because calling their parents usually meant a good whoopin’ and that Wayne Doyle Byersolved the problem, but these boys ended up at the police station more than once. Back then, there was a truck that drove around delivering pop to people who wanted to buy it. It was similar to the ice cream truck of today, or maybe the Swann’s truck. One time, when the driver was delivering pop to a house, and the boys decided to relieve him of a couple of six packs each. The delivery driver gave chase, and since the boys were a little bit hampered by 2 six packs of pop each, they couldn’t get away. The next stop was the police station, and a call to my grandpa. They might have been scared, but their dad was a pretty softhearted man, so maybe not. Today is Uncle Wayne’s birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Roll out the BarrellKids have always tried to use things around them as props in their games. Things like boxes, barrels, and even a little taller hill become the prop of the day. When I saw this picture of Bob’s brother, Ron, his cousins, Danny and Sandy, and a neighbor girl playing on four oil drums, all I could think was “Roll out the barrel, and we’ll have a barrel of fun.” Of course, that is the “Beer Barrel Polka” song, which was composed by the Czechoslovakian musician Jaromír Vejvoda in 1927, and really had nothing to do with a child’s game at all, but the words seemed so fitting in the case of the game the kids were obviously playing. The barrels must have either had something in them, or been pretty heavy in their own right, because it doesn’t appear that they wanted to roll around on the kids. Still, in my imagination, I could see them racing down the driveway to see who would get to the finish line first. It doesn’t really matter what they were doing with the barrels, because it is obvious that they thought being up on them was great fun. If they looked back now, they would probably wonder how such an inanimate object, with no moving parts and no flashing lights, could possibly have held their interest, but you must understand that their childhood was a time of no computers, cell phones, or video games…at least for a few more years, so they used their imaginations to have fun.

The same applies to the game “King of the Hill”, which was of course to see who could dominate the hill and keep everyone else from being able to get up it. Of course, I don’t think that is exactly what my Aunt Laura and her friend were playing either, but it did, nevertheless King of the Hillappear that Aunt Laura had managed to acquire the taller of the two little hills, thus making her the King…so to speak. Whatever the game was that the girls were playing, the two little hills figured into it enough to make my grandmother want to take their picture as a memory of the occasion. Here again, the girls had used the things available to them to make for a day of fun. Kids used to be able to do that. Without video games and texting, and with parents who didn’t let them watch television all day, or without television at all, the imagination was the way to have fun. It really seems to be a lost art today. Kids don’t used their imaginations much these days, because all the stuff in their head is fed in electronically. That’s really quite sad, when you think about it.

SistersFew relationships are like that of two little sisters. They love each other from the moment the youngest arrives…well most of the time. That first year of the younger sister’s life, will determine if she is a pain in the neck, or cool enough to take what her big sister can dish out. It will also determine just how much she is willing to put up with, before she takes matters into her own hands. It is a learning process for both sisters. Most generally, sisters will end up being friends for life, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few bumps in the road. My own sisters and I are good friends, but that doesn’t mean that the years we spent sharing our childhood home were smooth as silk, because they weren’t. We are five different people with five different personalities, and that is bound to cause clashes every now and then.

The same is the case for my sisters-in-law, Jennifer and Brenda. Jennifer had been the baby of the family for two years when Brenda came along. With three older siblings bossing her around with all their no no’s, Jennifer was very excited to have a younger sister, who wouldn’t be the boss of her. Maybe they could even be best friends. And, things were going along well…most of the time. Jennifer loved her little sister very much. It was almost like having a real life doll when she was a baby, and then later, she had a friend who liked to play the same games she did. It was much better than having a little brother, in her mind, because boys just want to play dumb cars, and not dolls. Jennifer hugged Brenda often, and life was good.

Nevertheless, Brenda was her own person too, and she didn’t always want to do things Jennifer’s way. They have two very different personalities, and what one finds funny the other might not. And, as with most little girls, they can both get annoyed when their friend Frenemiesstarts feeling too much like a frenemy. No one likes being laughed at, even if that isn’t really what was happening. Sometimes it might have been just a matter of something striking Brenda funny, and Jennifer didn’t agree. That was all it took. Jennifer was…less than amused with this little sister…who she loved very much. That didn’t excuse Brenda’s laughter about something that Jennifer didn’t think was funny. With that one little giggle came a totally new situation. They were now definitely frenemies, and Jennifer was sure that things would never be the same again. Thankfully, the whole situation was a fleeting moment in their childhood years, and they would go on to be friends again…until the next little clash, that is.

Jacob's tentJacob, the son of my cousin, Denise DeVogel, who I recently met on Facebook, got busy the other day and in his play, he reminded many of the rest of us in the family about the fun things many of us did as kids. Jacob pushed the couch and chair in his mom’s living room together, covered them with a blanket, and…presto, he had a private little tent to camp out in. He has spent the last couple of days having a great time in that little tent. And his mom, Denise has had such a good time watching him have such a good time.

Looking at the picture she posted on Facebook, took me back to my own childhood, and the many tents my sisters and I made. We had such good times playing in the little shelter that the tent provided. Not that we needed shelter, but more a secret little place to hold our meetings, play games, have snacks, and pretend to go to sleep…not that any sleeping happened, unless we planned to camp out for the night like it seems was Jacob’s plan to do. The things that went on in those tents, were such a big deal when we were kids, and I suppose that everyone’s games were a little different, but we all thought that our little club meetings were a total mystery to our parents, not ever realizing that our parents were little kids once too, and they probably played many of the same games you did.

And it wasn’t just me who took a trip down memory lane while looking at the pictures of Jacob Home Sweet Homein his tent, because Denise’s friend, Karen commented, “How fun!! I remember doing that!!” Her words were exactly the ones that would have come out of my mouth, had she not beat me to it. It’s pictures like these that remind you of all the good things that define childhood. It’s the freedom to be creative, inventive, and yet silly, all rolled into one little person, that makes the whole scene so fun to watch. It makes me want to be a kid again…well, maybe not, but I could be a kid again for a day or maybe a week, so I could build a tent in the living room, and hold the little club meetings, or read a book, or camp out, and then I could step back into reality again, and take with me the little vacation memories I had in the tent in the living room. Thanks for the memories Jacob!!

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