big sister

My husband’s aunt, Marion Kanta was his dad, Walt Schulenberg’s older sister. It was just the two kids for the first 13 years of her life, and the first 11 years of his life. For much of his early life, Aunt Marion, like many older sisters, was the bossy one. She tried to make sure her little brother did all the things he was supposed to do…or at least, all the things she told him to do. As little brothers would tell you, that bossy big sister thing didn’t really go over very well. Nevertheless, while they did fight sometimes, he did love her. Don’t let that make you think that he never hit his big sister. It’s a sibling thing after all, but boys had to be taught to treat girls like ladies, and so hitting his big sister didn’t go over well with their mother, Vina. So, as time went on, Walt learned to be a nice boy, and not hit his sister.

Of course, as they grew up, all that childish squabbling was behind them, and they became good friends, even though they lived in two different states. Aunt Marion, her husband and 8 children lived in Helena, Montana; and Walt, his wife and 6 children lived in Casper, Wyoming. The families got together as often as they could, but it really was pretty much a couple of times a year. That is often the case when families live so far apart. Nevertheless, it doesn’t diminish the love between siblings.

I remember that whenever we would go to Forsyth, Montana to visit Grandma Hein, Aunt Marion would often come over from Helena for a visit. We enjoyed those visits so much. She was always such a sweet person. There wasn’t even a hint of that bossiness that she was famous for in her youth. I’m not sure her kids would agree, but then it is a mom’s job to be bossy, right. Aunt Marion left us far too soon, when a developed a blood disease in 1999. She was only 72 years old and she was still a very healthy woman in every other way. Today would have been Aunt Marion’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Marion. We love and miss you very much.

My great grand-niece, Alice Green is the bonus baby of my grand-nephew, Jake Harman. She is her mother, Melanie Harman’s daughter from a prior relationship, but for Jake, Alice completes his family. She was his first child, coming into his life before the younger two kids, Izabella and Jaxx. They became best friends right away. Alice was never one to be angry about Jake’s entrance into her family. I think she viewed him as the best bonus dad she could have ever asked for. I love to see their smiling faces as the play together, and with the other kids. They seem to have a similar sense of humor.

Alice is an amazing big sister, and her little sister and brother really look up to her. When she was in school, I think the house felt a little bit lonely, especially for Izabella, who thinks her sister is awesome. Jaxx wasn’t really as aware, but he will be this year, because both Alice and Izabella will be in school this year. Alice is going into 2nd grade, and Izabella will be in pre-school. Jaxx is an easy going guy, especially with two older sisters, but I know he will really miss them this year. It’s hard for me to believe that Alice is going into 2nd grade this year. Though I have not know her all her life, she was a shy little girl when I first met her, so seeing the confident 2nd grader she has become is amazing to me. She has really become friends with the whole family now.

Alice has a great smile, and uses it often. She has a great sense of humor, and loves to entertain her siblings, which is a huge help to her parents. She loves school, and is a good student. It seems like it was just yesterday that she was graduating from Kindergarten, but in reality, that has been over a year ago already. How can that possibly be? Our Alice is growing up so very fast, and I can’t imagine our family without her in it. She is a sweet little girl, who has brightened out lives at every turn. Today is Alice’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Alice!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Chantel and IzabellaAs my niece, Chantel Balcerzak became a grandmother a month ago, when her son Jake Harman and his fiancé, Melanie Price welcomed their daughter, Izabella Siara Harman into the world, I started thinking that like most mothers, the rite of passage to grandmother had suddenly occurred for Chantel, bringing with it a big change. As mothers, we sometimes find it very hard to believe that our child could actually be a parent. They were just babies a few days ago, right? How is it possible that they have babies of their own already? I think that for most parents, the first thought is do these kids really know what they are doing? Of course, in most cases, they do…its just our perception that clouds our thoughts. As with most parents, new or seasoned, the baby is very vocal about whether or not they are happy. If the parents just check the normal things babies are upset about, they can figure it out pretty quickly.

So, the rite of passage is often with the grandparents, and usually the grandmother, who has the misperception Cheryl and Aleesiathat this baby, now parent, can manage to take care of and raise this new little person…grandma’s little sweetheart. That is the problem, of course. This is grandma’s little sweetheart, and Chantel raised Jake…whether her mom, Cheryl Masterson, thought Chantel could do it or not, just like my sister, Cheryl raised Chantel, whether our mom, Collene Spencer thought she could do it or not. The babies are now grown up and they can raise children of their own. They have gone through that rite of passage into parenthood, just like the parents have transitioned into grandparents.

Before long, that period of disbelief in the new parents’ ability to do this fades away, because they are doing it and doing it well. Now the new grandparents have the time and ability to relax and enjoy this new little baby…which is what being a grandparent is all about, right. You get to have the baby at the best of times, and give the baby back to the parents at the worst of times. Of course, like most grandparents, you find yourself wanting to help out to make life a little bit GiGi and Aleesiaeasier for the tired parents. But then what would grandparenting be if not to give the parents a much needed break sometimes.

As Chantel, her husband Dave, Jake and his fiancé, Melanie embark on this new journey, I know that they will have the greatest of times. Little Izabella is a sweet baby, and I know she will grow into a beautiful little girl. She will learn lots of new things from her big sister Alice, and this family will be a great blessing to their grandparents and great grandparents. I only wish my mom, Jake’s great grandma, Collene Spencer, and my dad, Jake’s great grandpa, Allen Spencer, could have been here to meet our little Izabella.

You Stepped On My ToeFor all of their childhood years, my daughter Amy just wanted to be different than her big sister, Corrie. Corrie played the violin, so Amy wanted to play the clarinet. If Corrie wanted to watch Bugs Bunny, Amy wanted to watch Mickey Mouse. It wasn’t like they fought about things, because mostly they didn’t. The girls got along very well, and were always good friends. Amy just didn’t want to be mini-me to her big sister. I suppose that because they were born so close together…just eleven months apart…they seemed to be the same age by the time they could both walk. Corrie had the distinction of being the big sister, and everyone knew it, because Amy forgot to grow. At just 4’10 (which is hard for me to say, because we always thought it was 4’11, until her husband, Travis proved us wrong), there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that she was the youngest. Of course, they would have thought that if she had been the oldest too, so I guess, for Corrie’s sake it was a good thing that the shorter child was also the younger child.

For Amy, who never really felt like she was the younger child…but rather felt like they should be equal, there always seemed to be something to prove. It wasn’t exactly like a competition, but rather an opposition. She didn’t want to compete to be the best at the same things Corrie was doing, she just wanted to be her own person. That is why, no matter what the situation was, Amy wanted to do the opposite of Corrie. If Amy couldn’t be the oldest, she would have to be the opposite. There were the natural things that worked out in Amy’s favor too…being shorter, being blond while her sister was brunette, even needing glasses for distance vision, while Corrie needed them for near vision. Yes, these two daughters of mine were as opposite and opposite could possibly be.

You would naturally think that there would be nothing but fighting in our household, with all this I want to be different than her opposition going on, and sometimes you would be right. My big sisThe argument was mostly with their mother though. I saw nothing wrong with both girls playing the violin, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth, and Amy quickly informed me of the error of my ways. I would have even dressed them alike, but that was also a no no! So, I learned to see these two little people, as two very different individuals…not a bad thing I suppose. And, while Amy did everything in her power to show her individuality, she loved her big sister. And, every so often, I would catch a little look…usually so subtle that it went unnoticed until years later in a picture, that told me that while Amy didn’t want to be mini-me to Corrie, she thought her big sister was pretty great, nevertheless.

Cheryl and CarynTo every little girl who has a big sister, she is most likely the first person she looked up to. Big sisters are wise, because they have done so much in this world. They can show you all the cool things that they have had the opportunity to see in their lives. They show you the ropes, and they are there for you through thick and thin…even if you fight occasionally in those early years. When it comes down to it they would fight any foe, bully, or even and friend…if they came between them and their little sister. That was and is the kind of friend I have in my big sister, Cheryl. She always seemed so much more sophisticated than I was. And still does to this day. I don’t know how she does it, but she just has that something about her. With all she has done with her life, I find myself feeling very proud that she is my sister.

I suppose there are many younger sisters who feel the same way about their big sisters. I mean, big sisters always seem to have the answers, all the cool friends…not that you get to hang out with them, all of the cool clothes…while you wear hand me downs, and they get to do so much more than you get to do. Still, sometimes, they give you a little bit of their time, and you get to bask in the warmth of being with that person who is so much cooler than you are. You get to go do things together…like exploring in the back yard, or playing with the cool toys they have. Your life is perfect, simply because that cool big sister gave you a few minutes of their time.

It is at this point in time that you really get a full understanding of how much your big sister loves you. It doesn’t matter that most of the time they really want you to just stay Love my sisterSistersout of the way. It doesn’t matter that most of the time they want you to leave their toys alone. Those thoughts fade into a distant memory. You get to hang out with the wisest, coolest person you know. They get to teach you from all the wisdom of their years…even if there are only 2 years between you, and you are only 6 months old at the time. I guess that wisdom isn’t nearly as important as the love your big sister has for little old you.

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