My mom and her sister, my Aunt Evelyn Hushman were very close. They double dated when my parents were dating, and Aunt Evelyn and her husband, my Uncle George enjoyed going along. The all had a lot in common, and enjoyed similar things. Later, after my mom was married to my dad, they bowled together too. For years, during my childhood, I remember them going bowling together. It wasn’t all about our parents bowling either, our families were together a lot. I have fond memories many times that we got to go out to Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George’s house. We played in the basement, and down at the Mills Elementary School. We even played hide and seek all over the house, and most of us remember hiding in that big front window area of their house. In fact, we all remember just sitting in that area. It was a peaceful, and just a special almost secret place.

Aunt Evelyn was the first child of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer. Of course, that meant she helped raise the rest of her siblings. I’m sure that wasn’t exactly her favorite thing. I remember my sister, Cheryl Masterson babysitting us and being “the boss” of us when our parents were not at home. We didn’t really like that, and I’m sure she didn’t either. Still, being the oldest meant that Aunt Evelyn could get a job, date, and get married first, essentially letting her off the hook for the responsibility of the younger siblings in the later years of their growing up. Then, other siblings stepped up as the helpers, I suppose. We all pay our dues I suppose, with the exception of the youngest child, but then again, they get to help with the nieces and nephews of the older kids, so it all evens out in the end.

One of the coolest things for someone, as they become grandparents, is the possibility of having a namesake come when one of your children or grandchildren has a child. It is a wonderful show of their love for you. That is such a great honor and one that Aunt Evelyn received on September 10, 2020, when little Evelyn Mae Johnson was born to Alicia and Dillon Johnson. Alicia is Aunt Evelyn’s great granddaughter through her grandson, Michael Young. It was such a sweet gift to Aunt Evelyn, and I know that while she wasn’t here to see it, she would be very honored indeed. Today would have been Aunt Evelyn’s 92nd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much.

Aunt Bonnie, Aunt Dixie, and Aunt SandyMy Aunt Dixie Richards was always a shy little girl…something many of us can relate to. The expressions on her face as a child depicted that a little bit. I have always thought that she had a little bit of a shy smile. But the one thing I did notice about that smile is just how beautiful it was. And that she smiled often. I have looked at the pictures of her, and she was always smiling…and her smile always seemed to show some secret delight or tidbit of humor that only she knew about. I always loved that about her, and in looking at her childhood pictures, I can see that it was always the case.

Aunt Dixie has a very loving heart, and her greatest joy is her family. She is married to the love of her life, Jim Richards and together they had three children, Jeannie, Jim, and Raelynn…who gave her six grandchildren. She loves being a grandmother, and wants her family close by and in her life. I can totally relate to that too. There is nothing more precious than family, and the more time you have to spend with them, the better. Aunt Dixie has been the transport person, babysitter, after school day care, and a multitude of other helper positions for her daughters, and she has enjoyed each and every minute of that time. It is simply the job of a grandmother…to be the assistant to the parents.

Uncle Jim and Aunt Dixie Aunt Dixie has always been such a creative person. Whenever she and her family have run the annual Christmas for the Byer family, the decorations have been so unique and pretty. Aunt Dixie has lived in the country for as long as I can remember, and she has raised chickens and such. When my mom ended up with a rooster chick from the fair, she planned to raise it, thinking it was a hen. When we found out that it was a rooster, we had to find it a new home. Aunt Dixie stepped up and took the rooster. We knew he would end up on the dinner table, but at least mom didn’t have to think about it…and that was nice. Today is Aunt Dixie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Always the BossLittle boys have always had the same problem…bossy big sisters, aunts, cousins, babysitters…girls. It isn’t that girls like to be bossy so much. It’s that it is part of their nature. Men are programmed to go out and support the family. They don’t get as emotionally involved with the children. I don’t mean to say they don’t love them very much, because they do, but the day to day discipline, training, nurturing…bossing, they have more of a tendency to leave to the women, and that’s ok, because women are geared to that nurturing training, discipline…bossing part of a child’s life. Women have a tendency to be bossy by nature…which for little boys can create a problem.

Little boys expect their mom to tell them what to do, but those pesky sisters are a different story. Who do they think they are anyway? They aren’t the boss, so why is it that they are always making a guy do stuff that he doesn’t want to do? I mean, boys have Debbie keeping Bob in linebetter things to do than stand still posing for a silly picture. Boys have better things to do than stay clean for school, or some other equally as unimportant event. Boys have things to do, and it just never fails that just when they are all set to go have fun, here comes their older sister again…making them pose for a picture, or sit still when they have things to do. Why can’t they just mind their own business.

In their defense, it isn’t really a girl’s fault either. Their mom and dad always put them in charge. When they go outside to play, they are told, “Keep an eye on your brother.” When the family goes someplace, they are told, “Hold your little brother’s hand.” And then when they are old enough, they become the built-in babysitter. They are always held responsible for what their little brother does…like they can make them mind. Eventually, they learn to do just that. They become the boss that they will eventually need to be for their own children. They become just like their mom.

It’s all part of the growing up process, for both the little boy, and his big sister, cousin, Hold Still Nowaunt, or babysitter. It doesn’t mean that it’s anything personal. It’s just that if she can make her little brother or charge do what needs to get done, she can go back to doing what she wants to do. Being in charge of her little brother really isn’t all that fun, it’s a job…like any other job. The sooner she can get that job done, the better. So she does what she has to do. She becomes bossy. And after a while, she finds that being the boss isn’t so bad. You can assign tasks for the younger kids, and get out of some of that work. This could work! “Get over here little brother. Now, stand still, and smile…like you mean it!” Yep, being the boss is ok. Maybe it feels natural. Hmmm, maybe she is bossy by nature.

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!!

When my girls were little, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law lived in Thermopolis. Their daughters, Machelle and Susan, and our daughters, Corrie and Amy, were friends, as well as cousins. It became a summer tradition to let the girls spend a couple of weeks together. Often we would make it a family day when we took our girls to Thermopolis for their cousin time trip. My mother and father-in-law often went along, so they could see their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters. We would make it a family day, with a picnic in the park at Thermopolis, before we would head back home.

It was always odd to get back home to a house void of children, and know that they would be gone at least a week. Sure, we didn’t need a babysitter if we wanted to go out, but I still missed my girls. I suppose that was normal for a mom. Meanwhile my girls were having a great time.

I’m quite sure there were fights, because…well, that’s what kids do, but when you put 4 girls together, there is a lot of imagination and fun going on too. And of course, when you are in Thermopolis, there is also swimming going on, and what kid doesn’t like that idea. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had passes to swim as often as their family wanted, so it was a good deal for them and the kids. That was one of the highlights of the time spent there for my girls. Swimming in the warm water of Thermopolis ia a treat for anyone.

The rest of the cousin time was spent with dolls and tea parties, and all the other fun things girls can think of to do, but it wasn’t so much what they were doing that mattered. It was that they were spending time together, staying connected with each other. It was something that was hard as they grew older, but I think that the time spent together when they were little, built a foundation that they have kept strong to this day. They have turned into wonderful women, all of whom I am very proud, and I’m very thankful that we gave them that cousin time when they were little.

When I think back on my childhood days, flying a kite ranked right up there with cool things to do, although I wasn’t much good at it. When my grandchildren were little and our friend, Dani was babysitting for my girls, she used to take the kids, and her kids to all kinds of events. She was amazing with the kids. She would take 5 to 6 kids to these events, and everyone would have a great time and stay together. On this particular day, Dani took the kids to an event that included flying a kite. My grandson, Christopher, had a wonderful time, but I’m not too sure how much kite flying really went on.

Sometimes all a guy really needs is a little bit of help, right. So Dani stepped in to see if she could help him get his kite in the air. I don’t know if that helped or not, but the kids always had so much fun with Dani, that it didn’t matter. He was a kid floating on air, because he was outside, having the time of his life flying a kite. Running as fast as his little legs would carry him. Feeling the wind in his face…the freedom to run…to fly…at least to fly the kite. Christopher was like most boys. A good day was being outside playing and enjoying the sunshine, the warmth, and yes, even the wind, because when you’re a kid a windy day didn’t mean being grouchy because you hate the wind, it meant that today was a good day to go fly a kite.

I suppose that if Chris had been as tall then as he is now, he wouldn’t have had any trouble getting his kite in the air. It seems like the kite is bigger than he is, but he is giving it the old college try. He has always been that way. He hates to give up.  Of course, judging from the pictures, there wasn’t a lot of wind here that day…how did that happen anyway…and that didn’t help to get his kite in the air. The good news is that on a day like this, it doesn’t matter much. For a kid, going anywhere to play is a really good day, because what is flying a kite about anyway…playing, right! It’s about being a kid on a lazy summer day with nothing to do but go fly a kite.

When my girls were little, Bob and I wanted to start bowling. We started looking for a babysitter. I volunteered at the girls’ grade school doing throat cultures, and had seen a girl there who I knew to be the daughter of a man Bob worked with, and they just happened to live out in the country, just about a mile from our house, so it seemed ideal.

Molly was a little young, just in 6th grade, but she had 2 little sisters, Kelly and Jenny, so she was somewhat experienced, and her family lived close by, so if anything went wrong, help would come quickly. The decision was made. We asked her, and she agreed. She would babysit every Monday night, and assorted other days, when we needed her.

My first instincts about Molly were correct. She had some experience…lots of experience. She must have been a great help to her mom and dad, with her little sisters, because she knew what little girls would want to do. She played outside with them when the weather was nice, and inside when it wasn’t. At Christmastime, she would bring paper, glue, and glitter; and the kids would make us pictures to hang up for the holidays. And the best news, she never left us a mess. She even washed the dishes. The house was spotless when we came home. I was stunned, to say the very least! Where do you find a babysitter like that? Almost nowhere!! We were so completely blessed by Molly!!

But, more important than the blessing Molly was to Bob and me, was the blessing she was to our girls. They dearly loved Molly, and couldn’t wait to have her come to babysit the next time. There were never tears when we left, there were smiling waves goodbye. We left our house, knowing that it and more importantly, our children were in great hands.

As the years went by, and our girls no longer needed a babysitter, Molly would go on to college and marriage. She moved to Iowa, and has children of her own. While I haven’t seen her in many years now, I am in touch with her family and hopefully her soon as well, on Facebook. While she has a life of her own now, I hope she knows that we will always have a soft spot in our hearts for the best babysitter we ever had!

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