Monthly Archives: September 2011

I don’t pretend to know a lot of the details of my dad’s young life. I do know that the times weren’t always easy, and since my grandfather, who worked for the railroad, wasn’t around much, the kids helped out around the place. My grandmother was a very strong woman, and she was very capable of running the farm. That may have been how many of the women were back then, but as strong women go, she was right up there at the top, or so I’m told. She trained her children to be hard workers, and responsible people, and they all were. My Uncle Bill and my dad told me about blowing tree stumps out of the fields with dynamite so the land could be worked. I’m sure they didn’t mind that job too much, since dynamite was something the also played around with…like blowing gate posts deeper into the ground, only to have to fix it before their mom got back from town. My guess is that she was about the only thing they were afraid of.

My Aunt Laura was ten years older than my Uncle Bill, who was the second child, so she helped with caring for the little ones so her mom could do the other things she needed to do. I’m quite sure that running a farm would have been very difficult without the help of my Aunt Laura, not to mention lonely in those early years, when the younger children weren’t much company. There were fun times too, of course, such as fishing, which the boys thoroughly enjoyed, but there was always work to be done, and the fun times were squeezed into the middle.

Everyone helped out…the girls as well as the boys. From running a horse drawn plow to a tractor, stacking hay and caring for the animals, it was a team effort. The kids had great respect for their mother and would do anything for her. It was a time that was much different from our own. There weren’t as many conveniences, so the land had to be worked in the old ways…using horses. I don’t think my Aunt Ruth minded that too much because many of the pictures I saw her in included horses. They did have a tractor, although I don’t think it was in the early years, but when they did, it was obvious that my Uncle Bill enjoyed using it very much. The boys always liked machinery…throughout their entire lives.

Life on a farm in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s was difficult at its best, and downright ugly at it worst, and it took strong men and women to make things work, but that really is what our country is all about…strong people doing their best to do what is right and good. It is our heritage, and it’s not a bad one. Strong people are what built this country and I believe there are still a lot of us around to continue to make this country great.

When a baby starts crying…everybody reacts. Sometimes it’s a relaxed, normal reaction, such as the baby’s mom or dad…who are used to the crying. Even the grandparents can be pretty relaxed with it, because they know the baby and what this type of crying means.

The reactions of a friend who is holding the baby are a little more nervous. They often range from “What did I do?” to “I don’t think your baby likes me!” looks. Everyone wants to be the one who picks up a baby and the baby just snuggles up and smiles, or the one who picks up a crying baby, and the baby miraculously quits crying…just because they saw your face. Of course, the reality is that unless you are the baby’s mommy or daddy, or maybe grandma or grandpa, you probably aren’t going to get the reaction you hoped for from a crying baby. They want their mommy or daddy, especially at bedtime or mealtime.

Some of the funniest reactions to a crying baby, in my opinion, come from other children. They often think they are going to be in trouble for somehow hurting the baby, because after all “Why in the world would this baby cry unless it was hurt”, right? Claims of “I didn’t do anything!” or “What did I do?” are fairly immediate when they are handed a baby and the baby simply turnes into a screaming bundle of noise in their arms. They just don’t understand that the baby is feeling very unsafe right now, because this person who is holding them isn’t much bigger that they are…and “Where is my mommy!!”

And for the child sitting next to the poor little one who is holding the screaming baby, the looks are a mixture of “Whew, I’m glad that isn’t me!” and “Will somebody do something about this kid!” They are really just glad the baby didn’t cry while they were holding it, and…”Maybe I’ll wait for a better time for my turn…thanks!” Kids just don’t want to be singled out as the one that made the baby cry!

Now a sister or brother who is used to this “screaming kid who has joined our family” has an even different reaction. Day after day, they hear the baby crying, and they often can’t figure out what this kid’s problem is, and why they can’t “be more like me”…because “I never cry for no reason!” and “Why did we get this kid anyway!” When they found out they were getting a little brother or sister, they were so excited, and when the baby arrived, then confusion set in. “Ok people, this crying is just not what I signed on for when you told me I was getting a brother or sister!” “I kinda wanted a bigger kid…you know, like a new best friend…soooooo, could we just trade this one in one a better model…I think this one is just a bit defective!!” “Hey Mommy, can you please turn the volume down on this kid…or better yet, maybe we should put him in his crib…and shut the door please!!”

Kids are so full of life. They haven’t lived long enough to become jaded or weary, so they still feel excitement over the simple things, like a camping or fishing trip. Josh and his whole family love to go camping in the mountains, and fishing at the lake. The boys get really excited about fishing. They compete for the most catches…and just about everything else. The funny thing is that their competitions are usually friendly, not angry…thankfully.

But competition aside, what impresses me the most with kids is that they don’t look at life the way we do. They have so many hopes and dreams for the future. Nothing seems impossible to them. Optimism…that is what it is…that and wonder. They are still in wonder of what the world is all about, and most of it is exciting to them. Especially the littlest ones. It is all so new.

Even the teenagers though, feel excitement about what life is about to show them around the very next corner. And when they are doing their favorite things, all kids have a tendency to just simply get high on life. So when it comes to camping or fishing, swimming or sports, they have a way of getting so excited that they jump for joy.

Why can’t we adults keep that childlike wonder? As adults, we seem to allow ourselves to get…tired maybe, but mostly we just lose that sense of wonder…that wide eyed wonder that looks at the world and says…”Wow, look at that.” It’s that feeling that there is something new and exciting left in the world.

Josh is one of those kids who still has that sense of wonder. He still sees things as exciting and fun. Like leaping off of a rock into the air…just because it looked like it might be fun. When was the last time any of us took a moment to look around us to see if their might be something that would fill us with wonder, and get us high on life?

When kids are little, the things they see as important are the things the adults around them are doing. It may be something that we don’t even realize would stand out to them, but if it is something they don’t have or get to do, them it feels to them like it must be a grown up thing, and therefore important. In fact, some of the things we adults dislike the most, seem the most important to the kids, like glasses.

I remember when I was a kid, glasses seemed like the coolest thing out there, but once I had to wear them, I sure felt differently. They weren’t nearly as much fun as it seemed to me that other people had wearing them. I suppose it must have been that I would see people laughing and notice the glasses, and so it just seemed to go hand in hand.

Of course, sometimes, as I believe was the case in this picture of my brother-in-law, Ron, someone puts the glasses on just to see how funny it looks. I don’t know whose glasses these were, but I’m pretty sure they belonged to a woman. Not that it really matters, because even if they had been men’s glasses, they still would have been huge on Ron’s little 2 or 3 year old face. No, it is my guess that the adults around Ron decided to see how funny he would look in the big glasses, and once they saw it, they took a picture so they could re-live that funny moment.

Yes, kids might think that certain things are very cool because they are an adult thing, but quite often it is the adults who get the biggest kick out of the outlandish results. And, as long as their are kids, there will be outlandish antics and looks as they strive to mimic the adults in their world, because kids are very interested in being all grown up…after all, to them, it is a grown up thing.

As I was sitting in church, waiting for the service to start, my oldest grandson arrived and sat next to me. I was struck by just how tall and muscular he has grown. At 15 Chris plays football, and lifts weights to make himself a more formidable opponent when he is playing his favorite of the positions he plays…defensive end. Chris loves to take down the opposing team’s quarterback. But while I am very proud of his football abilities, that is really not what my story is about. My story is about feeling very small…not Chris…me.

It seems like only yesterday that Christopher was born. We called him Christopher then, but no longer. He is getting so close to manhood, that Christopher really doesn’t fit anymore. He has been Chris for some time now, and I have gotten used to that, even though I still slip sometimes and call him Christopher. It’s like that was his little boy name, and it is too small for him now. It’s possible that later on, that name might be the one he prefers again…only time will tell, but I really doubt it. No, I think those little boy days are gone forever, only to return when he has a son with a name that can be shortened as he grows up. It’s not like I feel that I missed something in his life, because I have had the great privilege of being there for all the major events so far. It’s just that lump in the throat feeling you get when you realize that time will not stand still, and children grow up and become adults and start their own lives. It’s that feeling that things will never be the same again. And for a moment in time, you would love to slow things down, but then you realize that with that passage of time, comes the promise of the future generations that will come out of these children, now almost adults, and you realize that it will all be ok. The future is bright, and there will be new generations to get to know and watch grow into adulthood too.

It isn’t his name that made me feel different today, however, it was his size. When did he get to be so tall and muscular? I have spent lots of time around him. When he was younger I saw him almost every day, and now I see him at least twice a week, so why is it so shocking to see how big he is? I don’t really have the answers to these questions, I just know that it seems like he grew over night, and that while I have always known that I am not tall…suddenly next to my grandson, I am feeling very small.

Most families have a variety if heights when it comes to their members. Our family, on Bob’s side, is no different. Our tallest person is Lynn at 6’6″ and our shortest adult is Amy at 4’11”. Some things never change. Amy has been the littlest in our family practically from day one, as I’m pretty sure she was not paying attention when the growth instructions were being given out. And so begins my story.

Bob’s dad’s garage was the workshop of choice for many years when our girls were little, because we didn’t have a garage. It was the same for my sister-in-law, Debbie and her husband, Lynn. Also, Bob and I were living on my in-laws land, while we were getting our own newly purchased land ready to move our mobile home onto. Bob was always working on a car…either his own, or someone else’s…as I said, some things never change. Debbie and Lynn were out at my in-laws place too, and so that meant that we had 3 little girls running around as well.

Amy loved to hang out with her daddy, and it didn’t matter to her what he was doing, so this particular day found her hanging out in the garage, where Bob was changing the oil in our car. Amy was just wandering around the garage, when her Uncle Lynn came in and started talking to her. For a time, I thought the problem might have been that Amy was afraid of her uncle, because he was so tall, and she was so very little, but as I have thought about this event over the years, I know she wasn’t, because Amy has never been afraid of much, and if she was…wow, could she scream!! You would have known she was afraid or at the very least, unhappy with the situation. So, when her Uncle Lynn started talking to her, it was a very long ways for this little 2’5″ girl to look up to Lynn’s 6’6″ height. In doing so, she began backing up, and backed right into the now full oil pan that her daddy had used to drain the oil out of our car. I can still see the look of shock on everyone’s faces, including little Amy, who was wearing one of my favorite little dresses, a white dress with red hearts on it…which was now, of course, very black…at least the back of it anyway, as was it’s owner, practically from head to toe. She could totally fit in that oil pan, which was about 2′ across.

I picked her up…carefully, and pulled her dress off of her so we could clean her up, surprised that she wasn’t screaming. I assumed that the dress was a total loss, but unbelievably, it came completely clean, and lived to be worn for quite some time afterward, since Amy, with her slowness of growth, always wore her clothes out before outgrowing them.

Bob’s grandmother, like most grandmothers, loved babies. If there were babies in the house, it was a sure bet that Grandma would be there holding them. From her children, to her great great grandchildren, Grandma loved having the kids of all ages come for visits to her house. She would go all out, making good things to eat and reading books to the little ones. It was like a little bit of heaven for her to spend time with her precious little babies.

And the children loved coming to visit her too. She would go with them to explore the ranch. Out to the garden or the chicken coop to find eggs, she gave them a glimpse of how different life is on a farm or ranch, from that of a city or town. She let then help in the kitchen and read to them before their nap. Grandma had a bed out on the enclosed front porch where the kids could nap in the coolness of the porch on a hot summer day. It was always a favorite place to nap, in that they could still listen to the activity going on in the kitchen until they fell asleep.

Through the years, many a child, grandchild, great grandchild and great great grandchild has sat on Grandma’s lap and enjoyed the luxury of feeling like they were Grandma’s special little one for a while. It was a special treat, because there were so many grandkids that sometimes it was a fight for the right to sit with Grandma. I guess its a good thing that Grandma always had room enough for two little babies to sit with her. All the grandkids loved Grandma, and she loved them, and that made going to visit Grandma a wonderfully special trip, and one that will always be cherished by all her children and grandchildren.

Grandma has been in Heaven now for over 13 years, and many new grandchildren have come along, who have not had the great privilege of knowing this wonderful lady. That makes me very sad for those new little ones, because their Grandma was an amazing lady, and I always felt that my girls were better people for having known her. As for all these new little ones, their grandma will be waiting to greet them when we all get to Heaven, and I’m sure there will still be room on her lap to hold her little babies…even if they are all grown up.

When my sister Cheryl’s grandchildren, Jake and Siara were little, they loved to spend the night at her house on Saturday nights. So much so, in fact, that they spent just about every Saturday night with their grandma. They always had a wonderful time at Cheryl’s house, hanging out with their aunts and uncle and the variety of other kids that so many nights hung around my sister’s house…because it was the fun place to be. Saturday nights meant hanging out with grandma, watching movies and eating popcorn, and staying up late…probably a little too late into the evening, but what better thing to do than stay up later that normal because you could get away with it at Grandma’s..right?

The next morning always found my sister trying to wake Siara up for church…repeatedly. Siara was simply not a morning person. Siara loved to sleep in, like most kids do on the weekend. When Cheryl would go in to tell her to get up, she would just lay there for a while, and then begin the usual, “in a minute” or “I’m too tired” excuses. Cheryl would try just about everything she could think of…now this is where you might think Siara was going to be in a lot of trouble, as her grandmother lost her temper, but you would be wrong. Cheryl did try everything…including shaking Siara and finally threatening her with the secret weapon!!

What was the secret weapon you might ask? Well, the secret weapon was Siara’s brother Jake, and as with most big brothers, Jake was itching to go in and attack his sister. It was after all, fast becoming a tradition for every Sunday morning. Once given permission to attack, Siara really didn’t stand a chance. Jake would go into the room she was sleeping in, and stand on the bed with one foot on each side of his sister. Then he would reach down and pick her up with one hand on each side of her waist. He would then lift her up off the bed…bodily, after which she would immediately go completely limp and hang there like a rag doll…not that it did her much good. After a few mid-air shakings, Siara would finally admit defeat and drag herself out of bed. Which just goes to show that try as she might, Siara was no match for her grandma and Grandma’s secret weapon.

When children are little they normally follow their age, or close to it as to the range of heights, but in some cases where you have some very tall parents and some very short parents, that isn’t always the case. In our family, we have some tall people, such as Lynn, my brother-in-law, who is 6’6″ and then you have Debbie, my sister-in-law, and me, who are both 5’2″. So, this makes for a wide variety of heights in our kids.

Corrie, my daughter and the first born grandchild, is my tallest child at a whopping 5’1″, even shorter than I am, but not unusual considering that much of my family is short and some are shorter than I am. Then comes my second daughter Amy, the second born grandchild and the one who gets to have the distinction of being the runt of the litter as the family goes, comes in at 4’11”, or midget as her husband Travis likes to call her. Machelle, my niece and Debbie and Lynn’s oldest daughter and the third born grandchild, and her sister Susan, who is the youngest of this group, come in at 5’10” and 5’10 1/2″ respectively. And Barry, fell right in line with Machelle and Susan at 5’10”, just a little shorter than Susan, but with the right shoes, who would ever know. There are two other grandchildren, JD and Eric, who were born a while after the first photo was taken, and weren’t in the second for some reason. So I guess that we are really just a wide spread in there, and not anything like stairsteps…since my girls are just little, and the rest of the kids are just tall.

There is an age distinction that will always come into play where kids and grandkids are concerned, but it becomes very hard to tell as kids get older, because you just never know how things will play out in the height arena as they grow up. It is always interesting to watch them try to stand up tall…even on tip toe to remain the tallest for as long as possible, but in some cases, that doesn’t hold out for very long. Amy was fairly quickly relegated to the basement in the height arena, and initially Machelle raced out front, even though they are only 6 months apart in age. Corrie got pushed down to second to the bottom in the height race early on too, and there they have both remained from that time forward. So other than the years when JD and Eric were little, Corrie and Amy have always been the runts. The real fight for height has been with the rest of the kids. You guys should really just learn to get along…Hahahaha!!!

When Christopher and Shai were just babies, they spent much of their time together. My daughters, Corrie and Amy, had given birth one day apart, and Amy took care of the Christopher while Corrie worked. Christopher and Shai, grew to be almost like twins when they were young. Sometimes they seemed to be in their own little world. They shared meals and nap time. They shared playtime and their little secrets. We even had people ask us if they were twins. And like most kids, understanding much of what they said when they first began talking was difficult, to say the least. But they seemed to always understand each other…like a secret language or something.

They were best friends for a long time, maybe because there was no one else in their little world. They played their own funny little games in their own little playhouse of choice that day…usually they would choose the dog’s kennel, which always seemed odd to me, but it was where they wanted to be. They would sit in there and play for hours, talking in their own little language. Totally entertaining themselves. They also enjoyed going out for lunch…usually in a kitchen cupboard, or exploring…usually under a table, or chair, or climbing to new heights…on top of Amy’s hope chest, or really getting out of a rut…by going out in the back yard, when the weather was warm. Yes, they shared many good times, and we get to have many special memories from those times.

I don’t pretend to know what they were talking about when they were playing. They just chattered on like two little birds, paying no attention to those around them, and saying some of the funniest things. I suppose they were just doing what we all do, socializing. It was like a private club. They held meetings Monday through Friday, and only members were allowed. I find it so fascinating how two little babies could have so many things to say to each other, but in today’s society, if you are going to get ahead of the pack you need to start early developing your skills. You need to know how to walk and talk. And one very important skill…social networking!!

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