My youngest grandson, Josh Petersen is a hardworking and very busy guy. Josh works two jobs. He services fire extinguishers at All Out Fire, and at Sanford’s Grub and Pub, where he is a jack of all trades. I guess that five years in the restaurant industry teaches you every job. Josh doesn’t have much time off. His jobs keep him very busy, and we, his family don’t get to see much of him. It’s part of what he does to be able to live as an adult. Sometimes you have to, work more than one job to make ends meet…especially in this economy.

Josh has a couple of pets, whom he loves very much. His little Dachshund dog, named Molly is his best pal. I’ll never forget when he first got Molly, and he loved her so much that he carried her everywhere. I don’t think that dog walk three feet in those days, and she still doesn’t walk much when Josh is around. I think Molly has completely convinced Josh that it is his responsibility to carry her everywhere. He also has Lilly, the cat, who has a couple of kittens.

Josh has such a soft heart, me I think Molly takes advantage of that fact, but I guess it doesn’t hurt anything. It is Josh’s soft heart, in my opinion, that makes him excel in the EMT/Firefighter field. Josh is studying to do both, and is very good at both. He has the heart of a helper. He doesn’t like to see anyone with a need left unmet. It doesn’t matter if the need is medical or some other need, Josh tries to help. It isn’t that he always has the excess to meet a need, but he will sacrifice his own needs for the needs of others in a heartbeat.

Today, as Josh turns 21, I find myself almost in shock that this, my youngest grandchild could already be 21 years old. He is no longer a child, he is a man. He works more than full time, and lives on his own, with two roommates, and a menagerie of assorted pets. Josh is responsible. He gets to work on time, takes care of his animals and his home and he studies and gets good grades. He makes me proud. A grandmother couldn’t ask for anything more. Today is Josh’s 21st birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Little JessiAs often happens with little girls who are the first born, my niece, Jessi Sawdon was…well, a little bit bossy. She thought, from the very beginning, that she was as much in charge as her parents were. She was independent, she was three…and she was going on twenty. In the very early years of Jessi’s life, her mother discovered that she was going to be a bit of a challenge. When told to do things, Jessi would often argue with her parents. Since her dad worked, and her mom did not, it was usually her mom, my sister, Allyn Hadlock who found herself on the losing side of an argument with a stubborn three year old. When their child is argumentative, most parents try to use creative ways to get around the problem…because, lets face it, no one really likes to spank their child, and my sister is pretty soft hearted anyway. After trying everything from reasoning with Jessi, to arguing back with Jessi, Allyn finally decided to try a little bit different approach. The results were comical.

The next time the arguing started over a task Jessi was asked to perform, such as picking up her toys, Allyn finally said, “I’m the mom…you’re the baby.” Well she quickly found out just how clever and quick her little girl was, when Jessi began to argue with that…saying, “I’n da mom!!” Allyn quickly answered, “No, I’m the mom.” That argument only fueled the fire more, and Jessi said, a little more forcefully this time, “No, I’n da mom!!” Jessi in Grandpa's BootsObviously this strategy was getting them nowhere. I mean, what do you say to that. You can argue back and forth all day, but the toys are still going to be on the floor…and Jessi always had a mind of her own, so she would continue to argue if necessary. And to add to the problem, Allyn was having a very hard time keeping a straight face. Jessi was so serious about all this. I really think she thought this was something that could be negotiated…like being the mom was an elected office, and she was going to beat the incumbent on this election.

Through the years some things have changed, but not everything. Jessi is a grown adult, and married to the love of her life. She knows that being the mom is not an elected office, and she understands that her mom will always be her mom. Nevertheless, Jessi still has a tendency to be a bit bossy, and that information came to me directly from her mom. Her family understands Jessi’s ways, and most of the time her bossiness isn’t a problem, but once in a while they have to straighten her out a little bit, and when that happens, Jessi is taken back to her three year old self, when she hears, “You’re not the mom” from her mom or siblings. It is something they do laugh about these days, because it is a cute way of saying, “Jessi, we are all adults here, and you are not the boss of us.” The age old comment of “You’re not the mom” is not usually followed with a three year old comment of “I’n da mom!!” But, once in a while when everyone is in the right mood, you might hear that comment from someone. Either way, they all end up laughing about the whole thing, and really, that is what the comments are all Laughing It Upintended to bring about anyway, so everyone is happy.

As I said, Jessi is married now, and while they do not have children yet, I think it is her husband, Jason’s best interest that he be informed now, so there is no doubt about it in the future. Whether he likes it or not, in Jessi’s house, Jason does not get to be the mom. Jessi has been waiting for the day…all her life…when she will get to be the one arguing with her little three year old daughter over who gets to be the mom. Jason will simply have to settle for being the dad, because between them…this is not negotiable!! Today is Jessi’s birthday. Jessi, try not to argue too much…ok. Happy birthday Jessi!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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.

Marlyce Schulenberg & Debbie Schulenberg - 1953My sister-in-law, Debbie is the second of my in-law’s six children, but in many ways she is the oldest. Her older sister, Marlyce was born developmentally disabled. Even though Debbie was three years younger, she quickly became the oldest child. Marlyce would always be a child, in an adult body, and that would leave Debbie to be the second child, but really the oldest child. I would imagine that while she didn’t feel like the oldest in some ways, she was strangely the oldest in others. Marlyce would never be able to babysit their siblings, because she was not mature enough, so the babysitting would have to be Debbie. Any other responsible duties would also have to go to Debbie, because Marlyce could Debbie keeping Bob in linenot do those things. Marlyce did learn to make amazing cookies, but this, too was done under supervision.

Through the years, that had to have been a strange thing for Debbie…knowing that her sister was older, but she didn’t really seem older. I would think that it might have even been confusing for a child, but Marlyce was her big sister, and by the time Debbie was 17 months old, she also had a little brother, my husband, Bob. That brought even bigger responsibilities for the middle sister, of the older three children of her parents. And, the middle sister she would remain for 7 years after the birth of her brother. Then she would become the second child, but again the oldest child, when her 3 youngest siblings were born, and her mom and dad needed her Marlyce, Debbie, & Bob  - 1957help even more. The older children have always helped with the younger children, and while Marlyce always loved babies, she could not fully take care of them, like her little sister, Debbie could.

Nevertheless, as much as Debbie was the older child when it came to most things, she was not the oldest child, and for her, probably never considered herself to be the older child. The things Marlyce couldn’t do were really of no consequence, because Marlyce was very much loved, and she was simply the oldest child. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s funny, how at each new stage in your life you seem to change. Sometimes is major ways, like going from being a little kid to being a grade school kid…or even more going from junior high to high school. Other changes can seem more subtle, but in many ways, they are even bigger changes than those prior ones that seemed so big. Like the changes I noticed in my grand niece, Siara, from high school graduation, to coming home from her first semester at college, and her first time living away from home. To most people, I’m sure she seemed like the same Siara that she always was, but I saw something else. She was more grown up, more sophisticated, more…college, and yet, she hadn’t changed that much at all. Can that happen?

Siara has gone from a high school girl without a care, to an adult in college, who knows the heartache that life can sometimes throw your way…right in the middle of some of the best times of your life. How can those two things coinside? One minute you love your life and everything you are doing, and the next, you are in tears because you miss your family so bad it hurts. That is how life is, when you move away from home and to another city. Especially when it is the first time.

For Siara, this particular day is especially hard, because it will also be the first birthday she has spent without her family. Being so far away from those who have always made your birthday a big deal is one of the hardest things to do. Oh, I know that her friends at college will pick up the slack and make her day the best it can possible be, but there will still be a few very important people missing. I know this day will be especially hard too, for her mom, my niece, Chantel, because she and Siara have always been so close. This will be a hard day for them, but I hope they will also find a way to make this one of her best birthdays ever as well. It will be different, but different doesn’t have to be bad. Here’s hoping this birthday is super special, Siara. Happy birthday!! We all love you and miss you very much, but we are also very proud of you and all your acomplishments.

Sooner or later, everyone has a moment that can only be classified as…well, shock!! Being mildly surprised…which tends to be the new picture to take and post on Facebook just doesn’t describe it. No, I’m talking about that moment when someone jumps out at you in a hallway and your eyes get as big a silver dollars. And nobody does shock quite like a baby. They just can’t seem to get their mind wrapped around things like loud noises, and the resulting look on their face is simply classic!!

My granddaughter, Shai was one of those babies who was startled by just about anything. Maybe she was a concentrator like her grandma, or maybe she just had great hearing. I don’t know. I just know that noises or an unexpected touch could cause her eyes to get huge, and even make her cry sometimes. She was simply so jumpy. Of course, we didn’t try to make her cry but, those big eyes were something to see.

I wish I could have been around for some of the shocked looks I have seen in the pictures of Bob, because I have never seen eyes so big…in anyone, baby or adult. I don’t know what shocked Bob, but I’m surprised he didn’t jump right out of his mom’s arms in this picture. His was the greatest face of shock picture I have ever seen. I would love to have seen what happened to shock Bob, because I have never seen eyes so big, in baby or adult. They looked like they were going to pop right out of his head!! Every time I see that picture I have to laugh, because Bob’s shock was so apparent. If it wasn’t mean, you would do the same things over and over just to see those wide eyed shocked looks on the baby’s face.

Some of the best shocked baby moments come when you are taking a picture and the flash goes off. As adults, we know to be prepared for that flash, but there is no way to warn a baby about that impending flash, and no matter how many times you take their picture, the result is the same…at least until they are a little older. You might catch that smiling face, or you just might end up with the face of shock!

When Amy was 3 months old, we found out that she would probably never reach 5 feet. I know that at 3 months that hardly seems like something anyone could predict, but she had not grown at all since she was 6 weeks old, and my doctor being a seasoned pediatrician, and after examining her, concluded that, “If she reached 5 feet, he would be surprised. Well, he was right, and today my little girl is a 4 foot 11 inch adult. But don’t think she is a wimp, because you would be wrong.

Amy had her little blond moments as a child, like the time she brought the outfit she wanted to wear out to the kitchen and put it on. Then she started looking around for something…all over the kitchen. Finally I said, “What are you looking for?” She answered, “My shirt!!” I answered, “You have it on!!” She looked down in total surprise to find the shirt on, just like I had said. She did have her blond moments.

And then there was the time that we were walking into Kmart. Amy was about 3 or so. She was just ahead of me as we walked through the parking lot, and she always had a tendency to look behind her or around herself and she walked forward. So, suddenly I hollered to her to look where she was going, but it was too late…Amy walked right into the bumper of a parked car. She wasn’t hurt, but I found myself having a hard time not laughing about it.

All kidding aside though, our little blond is a very capable, and really not blond-like most of the time, adult, who is a great help to me. I might tease her a little, but I don’t know what I would ever do without her. Amy and her sister are two people I can count on…no matter what I have to ask them to do. The life of a caregiver, which both of my daughters are, is a tough one, and those who have not been there, don’t understand. Many people would not take on the challenges of caregiving, but when the needs arose, my girls were there for me, and their grandparents, on both sides. They know what it takes, and they don’t give up. Ever!! That is…priceless!! I know that those commercials are done in a joking way, but really, all joking aside…my girls are priceless!!

When they say that big things can come in small packages, it was Amy that they had in mind. And I am so blessed. How could I have been so blessed? It is a question for which there is no answer. Today is our precious little blond’s birthday, and I can’t say enough about what a wonderful honor it is to be her mom. Happy birthday dear Amy!! We love you very much!!

With graduation behind us for another year, the thoughts of many graduates turn to the traditional graduation trip. It is supposed to be the first step into real freedom the young adult takes.  The trips can be as varied as the graduate taking them, and of course, the cost they can afford. My thoughts go back to my own graduation trip. I felt very blessed to be one of the few that got to take such a trip. When I graduated, the graduation trip was not the common thing to do, and in fact, I don’t know of any of my friends that took one. Nevertheless, my parents wanted to give me something special, while not just sending me off alone into the unknown. So, they arranged for me to fly out to my older sister, Cheryl’s house in Plattsburgh, New York, for the Christmas and New Years holidays.

I had never flown, much less flown alone, so this was a big deal for me! My flight was to take me to Chicago, Illinois, where I would change planes and fly on into New York City. My sister and her husband, at the time, would pick me up in New York City. I was very excited about this trip…and I felt very grown up, but at the same time a lot like a Kindergarten child on the first day of school. It was a really tough place to be. The flight was not really the thing that I was concerned about, but rather the change of flights. I believe I had 45 minutes or so between the flights, and I was worried that I would not get there in time.

When my flight arrived in Chicago, and after my initial surprise at the fact that the runway crossed over the highway, which I found very cool by the way, I began my journey over to the connecting flight’s gate…running!!! I’m quite sure I looked very much like the scared Kindergarten child I felt like, but that was something I didn’t really care about at the time. The thought of missing my flight and trying to figure out what to do about that all by myself, in Chicago, was not a prospect I relished,…so I ran. When I arrived at my gate, I found myself 30 minutes early…with nothing to do.

I thought about all the airport that I had run through and not bothered to look at…with a little bit of regret. Still, with only the 30 minutes left, I decided that I probably should stay right where I was. The rest of the trip went very smoothly and I had a wonderful time with my sister and her family. I think I really did some growing up at that time, and I can honestly say that I don’t run to the connecting flights anymore, although there have been a couple that we cut a little close. My graduation trip was a trip I will always remember, and forever be grateful to my parents for sending me on.

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