toys

scan0110New TVsLet’s face it…we all love getting presents. Maybe it’s the excitement of finally seeing what it is, or maybe we kind of knew what we were getting anyway, but now we actually have it. Whatever the excitement is for you, you have to admit that you love getting presents. I think it all starts about the time that you are old enough to realize what those things in that toy box are used for, and then suddenly to connect that with the fact that once you tear off the paper on that box you are given, you will find a toy to add to your collection. For a kid that is among the greatest things that could possibly happen to you. I mean, toys are the best…right?

Then, came the day when you were give the inevitable gift of…clothes, for your birthday or Christmas!!! Your first thought was, “How lame is this!!” You might have even got a little bit annoyed, sad, or just downright mad. Of course, I seriously doubt if your parents were very happy with you…especially if you opened the gift in front a bunch of friends or family members, and then got mad. Parents tend to think your rudeness is not so special. Still, for many kids, getting clothes is the ultimate bummer. They know they need them, and really they like the clothes they get, but clothes just don’t qualify as a present!! It should be the number one rule of gift buying and giving. Don’t parents know this? I mean, they were kids once too…right? And if the kids are little enough, suddenly, the reality completely sinks in…their parents were never kids!!! Otherwise, they would know that you never buy clothes for a gift for a kid…never!!

Now, I know that as adults many of us have even requested clothes as a gift, but even then, you have to admit that the thrill of getting a gift can be lacking…just a little bit, when the gift is clothes. It doesn’t mean that you Wow!! Clothesscan0129don’t like the clothes. And I’m sure my girls and dad really did like them. In fact, I know that they all really liked the clothes they got!! Could it have been just a bad picture that revealed a face that was lacking in joy…you know, that, “wait!! I wasn’t ready” moment. At the very least, in the case of my dad, who would never have made mom think he didn’t like her gift, and as I said, he did. I know he did, because he wore that suit a lot. We all remember him in that one. So at least for him, I suspect it was a poorly timed picture. Nevertheless, the look on his face still strongly resembles that “clothes…really!!” look.

Tiny Mom 2As kids, most of us have varying degrees of difficulty keeping track of our toys, mittens, coats, shoes, homework, and other such vital items, and when it comes to actually looking for those lost items, we somehow seem to be less than adept. How can so many things simply disappear in our rooms? I used to think that my daughter, Amy had a black hole in her room, because some of that missing stuff was never heard from again…even when we moved!! Nevertheless, Amy was not alone in her mysterious disappearances. It seems to be a common problem among children…and some adults are no better at keeping track of their things…losing cell phones, keys, paperwork, remote controls, and any other item that they were going to put in a safe place, so it would not get lost.

I remember so many times as a kid, when I couldn’t find something, and my mom would tell me to go look for it, because she didn’t have time to hunt for it when we were fully capable. Caryn, Caryl, and CherylThat did not inspire us to go and search our rooms in depth until the much needed item was found, but rather caused us to wander aimlessly around our room…playing with other things that came into our line of sight, because those things seemed much more important than looking for a lost shoe on a school day. Then after playing for a little while, we would wander out to the front room again, whining to Mom that we just couldn’t find it. It was our hope that Mom would finally take pity on us and come to help us hunt for that missing item. Most of the time we were sadly disappointed…except for the possibility of the missing shoe on a school day, which usually found us wearing some other pair of shoes, that probably didn’t really go with the outfit we had on, but would have to do, because like it or not, we were going to school. Mom wasn’t about to let something as minor as wearing a dress with tennis shoes, keep us home on a school day.

So, we usually found ourselves back in the bedroom, hunting for that missing item again, and wishing Mom would just come and find it, because she was so much better at looking for Alena and Allynthings than we were. I suppose that she was right in making us do things for ourselves. I think I do better than the average person at keeping track of my things these days, because of Mom’s teachings. Although I must admit that I still lose things sometimes too. Mom taught us to put things away, although we don’t always do so…even today. But the thing I remember the most about those times when I was in my room hunting for a lost item, and unable to find it, was my mom saying, “You’ll never find it if you keep looking for it on the ceiling”, which meant quit walking around the room hoping it will jump out at you, and start looking under the bed, in the drawers, or in the closet, so you will find it already.

Perfect HappinessWhen my nephew, Barry was a little boy, I used to get such a kick out of watching him open presents. Whether it was his birthday or Christmas made no difference, because Barry got excited!! I know, most kids do, but the looks on Barry’s face were just classic, and when his eyes lit up with pure excitement, it was impossible not to smile. For Barry, the best gifts were always trucks, but that didn’t mean that all the rest weren’t super cool too. I suppose that he initially thought that gifts were going to happen every couple of weeks, since his birthday is just two weeks before Christmas. For a little kid, that second dose of presents in such a short time could make it seem like this was going to be the new normal.scan0055 (5)

Of course, as time went by, Barry understood how it all worked, but he still got as excited as any other kid when his special day came along, or when Christmas finally arrived. The one thing he decided that he didn’t like too much was having that birthday so close to Christmas. That put all the excitement of receiving gifts in one short little time frame and then left a whole year until he got gifts again. In a way, that was a disappointment to the rest of us too, because we didn’t get to see how excited he got for a whole year either.

I can’t say that Barry still gets so excited about gifts on scan0057 (4)his birthday or Christmas, after all, he is a grown man now. Maybe he just holds that excitement inside…like we all do at one time or another. And he doesn’t have that little baby face anymore or his little boys ways, and in many ways, I miss both of those things sometimes, because like all kids, Barry grew up too fast. He has grown into a wonderful man, who is always there to lend a helping hand. He is someone you can always count on when you need something done. He still likes his trucks and other toys, but these days they are just bigger and more expensive. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day, and try to contain your excitement, ok!! We love you!!

imageimageOne year ago today, we received a new little addition to the Schulenberg family. Little miss Reagan could have arrived on her mommy’s birthday, and in fact maybe she tried, but she wasn’t quite fast enough, and so they each have their own birthday…one day apart. I also, have to think that was probably the last time Reagan was too slow about anything. Babies have a way of growing up way, way too fast, and as they grow, they also get their teeth too fast, crawl too fast, and walk too fast. Before you know it, they are in school, driving, dating and married and having kids of their own. Whew!! It’s enough to make you get winded.

Reagan looks so much like her daddy, that it is like they are twins, but she got her silly personality from her daddy and her mommy. Reagan makes the funniest faces, and has from the time she was just teeny, but lately she has been making some new faces. Things like trying to wink, the “who me, I didn’t make this mess” look, and the “here mommy, you eat it, if it’s so good” look, are just a few of the looks I have noticed. I think that as time goes on, we will be treated to many more of the silly looks that our miss Reagan can make.

Reagan, like many other kids, likes to take the things that are stored in a box out of the box, so she can get in the box. She reminds me of my kids and my grandson, Chris. All of them loved playing in boxes…after the contents have been removed…I mean, who needs the toys or books Reagan - 11 months oldimagethat were in the box anyway. Reagan is getting to that age where getting into things is what she is all about. And her funny faces still play a part in all that…like, “I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about!! I wasn’t getting into anything!!” She has a side to her that is very easy to see. I can tell that this little girl will be just as sweet as she can be…with a big helping of mischief on the side. Today is Reagan’s first birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have  an extra special day!! We love you!!

Mommy, Daddy, and baby AleesiaAleesia Juliette SpethmanWhen my grand niece, Aleesia was born…the rainbow baby of my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve…we all rejoiced over the birth of their second baby girl, and that she was healthy and whole. It has been a remarkable year…a year of blessings, that followed a time of sadness over the loss of their first daughter, Laila, almost two years earlier. While Laila will never be forgotten, the first year of Aleesia’s life has been one of healing…at least to a small degree. Aleesia is everything they could have hoped for in a daughter. She is cute and sweet and full of smiles. She is the pride and joy of her parents and her three brothers.

From the moment she arrived, Aleesia wrapped the hearts of her family around her baby finger. That first little touch was like saying, “Watch out, because I’m going to steal your hearts!” Aleesia is such a sweet baby. She is so easy to please, that there has been no need to spoil her. She is easily entertained by the antics of her brothers, and they love  to make her laugh. She really has her very own entertainment committee. And for their part, the boys just love to find new ways to make their baby sister laugh.

Aleesia is so quick to smile. All it takes is to say her name, and she looks at you and smiles. She is comfortable around her whole family and extended family. She is always ready to pose for the camera, mostly because we are always taking pictures of her, so that now she instinctivly knows what she is supposed to do…and she has mastered the precious smile, as well as the perfect funny face, with all her practice. Life is just exciting for this baby girl. She loves every moment of it, and that makes us all feel very blessed.

Aleesia’s brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, also feel the blessing that this past year has brought. Having a little sister is something they have wanted for a long time. She is so different than they are, but they don’t care. There is very little that the boys won’t do for Aleesia. As this first year comes to a close, however, things are changing. Aleesia has discovered that her brothers have pretty cool toys. Sometimes, she thinks that they are On brother's skate boardAleesia and her brotherscooler than her own toys. They let her get away with it, but I suppose there will come a day when they decide that she should leave their toys alone. For now, however, they are just enjoying the year of blessings. With the end of Aleesia’s first year and the beginning of the second, I wonder how this will change in Aleesia’s terrible two’s. Time will tell. Today is Aleesia’s first birthday. Happy birthday baby girl!! We love you very much!! Have a blessed day!!

Eating SunglassesHave you ever noticed that when babies are given a toy to play with…it goes directly to their mouth. I know, everyone will tell you that they are learning about textures and such, and that is probably right, but nevertheless, odd. We all did this, of course, but when I think back on that as an adult, I know I would be very grossed out. Oh, I know that we still do stick stuff in our mouths now and then, but it still seems like a really bad habit. Of course, my grand niece, Aleesia was not really planning to eat her sunglasses, and may have even seen other people do that with them, so she thought it was the thing to do, but there have been people who have chewed on their sunglasses to the point of ruining them.

When babies a really little, they use their mouth as part of playing with their toys, and by the time they are done, the toy is a slobbery mess, and needs a bath of its own…yuck. Even when my girls were little, I remember picking up a toy they had been playing with before they fell asleep, only to find it all wet and gross. I’m not squeamish or anything, but Maybe, it's a crackerI’m not fond of having other people’s saliva all over my hand either…not even my kids. It just felt icky!!

Well, thankfully babies grow up a little, and they quit sticking so much stuff in their mouths. Pretty soon they even get to a point where mostly, it is food that goes into their mouths. Of course, the food isn’t always less messy, but it seems different somehow to see a baby with a food mess on their face than it does a slobbery toy. There isn’t anything more fun than to see a baby on their first birthday, covered with cake, and happy as a clam. After all, these are the messy years, and parents just have to deal with it.

From almost the day he was born, my nephew, Barry was Grandpa’s boy. He wanted to do everything with his grandpa. Barry was highly motivated for a little kid. Oh, he liked his toys and especially trucks too, but he wanted to do man’s work most of all. He was practically a little grown up from birth. Not very many people are like that. Most little kids want to play all day. They don’t want to be bothered with work. Barry wasn’t sure he wanted to be bothered with play. It was always funny to hear Barry say that he wasn’t going to school, because he had to stay home and work with Grandpa. To Barry, there was nobody better than his grandpa.

Barry is all grown up now, and yes…he did go to school, although I’m not sure he was always happy about it. His love for and connection to his grandpa has never changed. There has and always will be a closeness there. Barry is one of the people that I know I can count on to help out with care for my in-laws, for that very reason. If I ask him to help me with them, he is quick to respond to that need. Help just doesn’t get better than that.

Not a whole lot has changed a far as Barry’s interests are concerned. He still likes trucks, motorcycles, and pretty much any type of mechanical work. He has added hiking with his wife, Kelli to that mix, a pass time I can totally relate to and one I don’t think his grandpa ever did. Of course, there are several of us who have taken up that pass time, and fully enjoy every minute that we are able to get out there and enjoy nature.

Barry has grown from a cute little grandpa’s boy to a man that I respect very much. Many times I don’t know what I would do without him. I know Bob feels the same way, as they have to get together once a week for breakfast and good conversation. They can each be counted on to help the other when needed too. Happy birthday Barry!! Have an awesome day!!

When Barry was a little kid, he liked to ride motorcycles. Like a lot of boys, the ability to drive…even if it is only on dirt…makes them feel like men. So, if given the chance, they will ride the motorcycle or four wheeler. And if their dad is into bikes, the boys are even more likely to want to ride one. These days there are tracks with cool jumps for the kids and lots of ways to make it a family outing, but back then, Barry rode around the dirt roads north of Casper, where his grandparents lived.

Barry thought anything that had to do with motorcycles was cool back then. In fact, he would sit on the parked bike, just to be on the bike. But, riding was the most fun, of course. Barry was always a kid who liked tractors, motorcycles, four wheelers, and even riding lawn mowers. Anything that was mechanical, so it made sense that he would want to ride non-stop.

What was really kind of cute though was that when he got his helmet, he didn’t want to take it off. I think that kid would have slept in it if he could have. Every time you saw him, he had that helmet on. He wore it in the house, and out to play, and of course, riding. It’s a natural thing for a kid to do. It always seemed to Barry that he was having to wait on others to ride, and that was a bummer. He always felt like he had to fight for his turn to ride.

These days Barry is all grown up and has his own toys. He doesn’t have to ask permission now. He can get out there on his riding lawn mower and ride to his hearts content.  Boys never really outgrow their toys, the toys just get bigger and more expensive, right? Well Barry, now you can have any toy you want…as long as you want to pay for it, so enjoy. I don’t think anyone will fight you over this one. Happy unbirthday Barry!!

My girls were babies about the time the wind up baby swing was invented. Boy was that thing ever a life saver. Babies who were fussy and wouldn’t sleep would almost instantly fall asleep in there. Of course, I didn’t let the girls sleep there over night…that would not be a good plan, but it did offer me a little break once in a while.

My girls loved their swing. Soon the time of being a newborn passed, and they were babies who could be a little bit more alert and aware of their surroundings. They still loved their swing. I remember getting ready to put them in, and they would giggle and kick their little legs in anticipation of the ride. It was like having their own carnival ride. I think most babies get to a place where they really enjoy their swing. It becomes more than just a tool to get a cranky baby to sleep. Just like kids who are older…babies like to swing.

For a time, we hung toys from the crossbar for the girls to play with, but they never really could make that work very well, so we gave them a stuffed animal to play with. Funny thing is, the toys were really not necessary. Kids are really very resourceful, and they can make toys out of most situations. In the absence of real toys, they will look for things that will work as a good substitute.

And as we all know, it doesn’t take kids very long to find something to play with. It is right in front of them as they are laying on their back on the floor. They play with their hands and their feet. Their hands were the first thing they played with in their swing. Chewing and sucking on them, but since neither of my girls ever really took to the whole thumb sucking thing,  their hands got old pretty fast when it came to being used as a toy.

Then came a very important day in the lives of my daughters. There they were…tired of their hands, and looking for something new…something that would get rid of their boredom and still allow them to stay in the swing they so loved. They looked around for something new. What could they use as a new toy? Then, just when they thought they might have to do something drastic…like cry, they looked over the edge of the swing, and wonder of wonders, there it was! Inspiration hit them…”Hey, I see my feet!!”

When Weston was a little boy, his mom, my niece, Machelle worked at Taco Bell. Weston really liked the fact that his mom worked there, because that meant he got to go there often. And going to Taco Bell was cool in several ways, but mostly because he got toys. Now that may not seem like such a big deal to most of us, but to a 4 year old boy, toys are the best part. There is just something about getting toys that is so exciting to a little kid. Even a cheap toy is like getting a birthday or Christmas present.

One day, Machelle had gone down to the Pamida store and Weston stayed home with his daddy, Machelle’s husband Steve. Weston was playing in the yard, and Steve had stepped into the house for a minute. Weston had been thinking about those great toys at the Taco Bell, and he knew that if his mom were there, she would take him down there to get one, but she wasn’t there. So, Weston decided to take matters into his own hands.

Weston had wheels, so why wait? He opened the gate and headed off on his tricycle to Taco Bell. He had been there many times, and he knew the way. It is amazing how well those little kids know directions to places they especially like to go…like a favorite restaurant. They are always watching when they are in the car…just to see if they might, just might be going to that favorite place.

So began Weston’s adventure. He peddled his way down the street…quickly, because he really wanted that toy. On the way there, Weston only stopped once, because he was, after all, a boy on a mission. Still, a little white kitten had the ability to bring his trip to a halt, just for a minute, because that kitty was just so cute, and he really needed to be petted for a minute. After that, Weston was back on his way to Taco Bell.

Weston’s dad, meanwhile had come back to the yard, and found his precious little boy missing. In a serious panic, Steve went looking for his little boy. He first checked the one place he assumed Weston would go…his grandma’s house. So he headed over there, only to find that Weston had not been there. Not sure what to do next, he headed back home to see if Weston had returned. When he got there, he found the police at his house…not the best greeting…until he saw Weston.

With a great sigh of relief, he gathered up his son, and waited to hear what had happened. As it turned out, a police car came upon Weston, happily riding his tricycle on the 4 lane highway that runs through the small town. When Weston’s adventure came it’s untimely end, he was only 4 blocks from his destination, and was not at all lost…just disappointed. Today is Weston’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Weston! We love you!

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