When I was a kid in grade school, our class in 3rd or 4th grade decided to have a tasting party. The idea was to bring a home-cooked recipe from the family home to share with the class. When my mom suggested that I bring her cornbread, I knew that was what I wanted to bring. When my teacher found out that I was bringing cornbread, she was a little bit apprehensive. She just didn’t think the other students would like it, and she thought I would be disappointed. Nevertheless, cornbread was what I was bringing, whether she liked it or not.
All the students were excited for the day of the tasting party to arrive. We were all planning what we would bring and trying to figure out what the others were bringing. Some people told, but most of us kept it a secret. Finally the big day arrived and all the food was brought in and placed on a table. At the appointed time, the party began. Our teacher said that we had to try a little bit of everything and then could go back for seconds of the things we liked. I have to wonder if she was worried that no one would try some of the things, if she set no requirement. Kids are picky eaters.
The party went well. She cut my cornbread into small pieces…I’m sure she was thinking it would be rejected if the pieces were bigger. She needn’t have bothered. After their first helping, every student asked for more cornbread until there was none left. She was stunned, and asked me what my mother’s secret was. Well, it was simple. If you have ever eaten cornbread, you know that it is often dry and tasteless. My mom was always one to add a little sweet to things…even before all the manufacturers started doing it to things that normally wouldn’t have sugar in them. So Mom’s secret was a little sugar. Her cornbread wasn’t super sweet, like cake, but it had a hint of sweetness, and that brought out the corn flavor too. Then, when you add butter to it…oh my gosh!! It had a melt in your mouth flavor that was unsurpassed. I think my teacher learned a lesson that day too. Never assume that something won’t taste good, until you have tried it. You may be very surprised.
I have never forgotten that special day, when my food for the tasting party became the hit of the day. Everyone kept telling me how good that cornbread was. I have to agree with them. Nobody makes cornbread like my mom. To this day, when cornbread is served, I always have some, but I am always disappointed at the taste. It never…ever stands up to the standard my mom set for it so many years ago. I suppose that is why I never have seconds either. My teacher knew that cornbread wasn’t her favorite thing…probably for the same reason most people don’t eat a lot of it, but then she had more than one helping of mine too, that day. It’s really hard to resist that melt in your mouth flavor, and it has spoiled me concerning cornbread that doesn’t have it. I’m just not very interested.
I first met Anthony at a family Christmas party. My cousins were taking in foster children, and this tiny little baby with loads of dark hair was one of those children. The difference between this baby and any other foster children they had, is that they fell in love with this one…in fact, we all did. Soon Anthony was a part of their family and ours. He had joined a rather large family, with over 250 people all living here in Casper…and that was back then, we are much larger today. Thankfully for Anthony, he didn’t have the chance to feel overwhelmed by that, because coming in as a newborn, it was all just natural to him. It was all he ever knew.
As things go in big families, there were times when we didn’t see much of the cousins and their children, and the bigger a family gets, the harder it is to get together. Such was the case with Anthony and me. Then one day when I was attending grandparents’ day at my grandson, Caalab’s class, and Caalab was showing me his desk, I passed by a desk with the name tag, Anthony McDaniels on it. I quickly looked around and sure enough, there was Anthony, in my grandson’s class. I told Caalab that Anthony was his cousin, and he said with a smile, “He is?” I told him to tell Anthony that they were cousins, and when he did, Anthony said, “No, we aren’t” When Caalab told me that, I said, “Tell Anthony to ask his mother about it?” Well, the very next day, Anthony came to school all smiles and told Caalab that they were, indeed, cousins. They were both excited about that then. I don’t think they had classes together after that year, but they always knew that they were cousins.
Anthony has grown into a terrific young man, who is an asset to our family. He is full of fun and always smiling. Anthony is a man who does his own thing, like wearing a suit to school sometimes, and asking others to join him. At a time when most kids are dressing down, he dresses up, and that is very cool. People have to be comfortable enough in their own skin to do what they like, even if they do it alone. Way to go Anthony!! Today is Anthony’s birthday!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
As our trip to Washington winds down, we find ourselves in Great Falls, Montana where our newest college girl is attending the University of Great Falls. Siara is a cheerleader for the Argonauts. This is her first year of college, and the first time away from home. When she left Casper, she seemed like such a little girl still, but when she was home at Christmas, I was surprised at how much like an adult she now seemed. I guess that is normal, when kids get out on their own for the first time, but more so I think when they get married or go away to college. They have to rely on themselves for everything for the first time in their lives, and that changes a person.
Like most college kids, whose hours are long during the week, and late on the weekends, Siara’s favorite thing to do is sleep. She is up by 5:30 three mornings a week for cheer practice, and also has several exercise classes she must attend to stay limber, and keep in shape for all the moves that cheerleaders do these days. As most of us know, cheerleading is now half gymnastics and half cheering. After a very early practice, Siara and some of her teammates hit the cafeteria for a good breakfast. Siara tells us that breakfasts at the school are amazing. That’s important after a workout, because I would imagine they are starving.
Siara’s class schedule is, in my opinion, pretty perfect, because while she has a heavy schedule, all the classes are scheduled from Monday through Thursday, so every weekend is a 3 day weekend. I would love that, and so does she…more days to sleep in until noon or 1:00. Now that is typical. So many people…adults, anyway, use those weekends to do work around the home or yard…imagine that, not sleeping through the weekend. But I suppose that if I had a 3 day weekend every week, I might want to take one of the days to sleep until noon, if I could manage it, since sleeping in for me is 8:00.
College changes people to a large degree, but some things never really change. Siara is still that cute little niece I know and love. She is sweet and funny, and loves to laugh. Her smiling face brings sunshine into an otherwise cloudy day. I know she will continue to grow up and change, but it’s nice to know that some things will always stay the same…whether she is a college girl or a wife and mother. She will always be our Siara.
Little boys are all pretty much the same. They are curious. They want to know about everything that is going on around them. I can’t say that I blame them. There are a lot of interesting things to see, do, and learn about, in this world. Now I’m not saying that girls aren’t curious, and this story could just as easily have been written about little girls, but today’s story is about boys…and one in particular.
When my mom was a little girl, school pictures were done differently than they are today, and even differently than when I was a little girl. I don’t know if they took any individual pictures, but so far, I haven’t come across any. The pictures were taken by class. While I have seen some with the whole class together, I have also seen some with just the girls and just the boys. That is something that wasn’t done when I was a little girl, and indeed later on, the class picture was just a grouping of the individual pictures, placed together on a 5 x 7 picture.
The funny thing about the curiosity of little boys is that there always seems to be one who is a bit of a lady’s man, and just loves hanging out with the girls. That same little boy probably wants to be right in the middle of everything. That little boy will somehow insert himself into situations where he just doesn’t belong, such as this little boy, who managed to be at the edge of, and leaning into the picture of the girls…just close enough to get into the picture. The cameras of yesteryear were unable to view the picture, and therefore, you really didn’t know what you had until the film was developed. The photographer probably never saw this little boy leaning into the picture until the film was developed, and they were stuck with it, because it cost more to retake.
Now, it is possible that the photographer, the teacher, and maybe even the parents were upset with this turn of events, but I, personally, find it very cute. I picture this little boy as the one who loved little girls a lot, and didn’t really care if anyone knew it. He was curious about them, and wanted to know all about them. He might have even had a girlfriend in that group…or maybe several. That is how a lady’s man is. Try as he might, he doesn’t just stick with one girl…at least until he finds that one girl who changes everything, and removes his lady’s man status. Until that day comes, he goes from girlfriend to girlfriend, and might even have more than one at a time. Whatever the case may be, I think that there is always one little boy like that in every class, and sometimes there are several. That is just the way little boys are.
Kindergarten…it’s such a precious time. Your little one is starting school and so much is changing, so fast. They are going to school and discovering who they are and who they might like to be. They get a chance to try different things and to see if they might have the coordination…or learn coordination. Most kindergarten kids, aren’t especially coordinated, but sometimes they are.
At this age, a lot of their track meet is held in the gym, where they do skill tests that have little to do with track, but everything to do with balance and coordination. Still, it can be funny, to watch these little first time jumpers. rope climbers, runners, etc. Their little legs will barely take them over the lowest rung on the high jump. They are doing their best to figure out how to get over the bar without falling on their face. And speaking of faces, their level of concentration shows so clearly on their faces.
At 5 years old, my granddaughter Shai, who will tell you to this day that PE isn’t her favorite class, was already pretty convinced that track would not be her sport…if there was ever to be a sport that would be her favorite. She never did like running, or even jump rope as I recall. She is too much of a girly girl to want to do PE. Still, she did her best, and even if it never won her a first place ribbon, it won her first place in this picture…as far as her mom, my daughter, Amy is concerned. Amy told me that this picture is one of her very favorite pictures of Shai. “She just looked so cute!”, Amy would tell me. And she was so right. Shai was a cute little girl…a little out of her element, but it was the trying that captured your interest.
It is the level of concentration that is most telling in how successful my granddaughter will be in her life. Shai can do anyhing she sets her mind to. She is a bit stubborn like her grandma, and yet I believe that it will be that tubbornness that will carry her to success in whatever she chooses to do in her life. Like my granddaughter, I too was very stubborn, and in fact still am. I hate to lose, and I will keep trying until I win. That is what I expect my granddaughter will be like too. Still, the choice will be hers. She will have to choose to put that stubbornness to good use…to be so stubborn that she will stay with a thing until she masters it. I believe she will do just that.
During the years that my nephew, Allen was growing up, he and his family lived far enough away from us that we didn’t get to see them often, so my memories of those years are limited. He was named after his grandfather, my dad. Dad only had daughters and Caryl wanted to give him a namesake, so Allen became that namesake in that his first and middle name are the same as my dad’s first and last names. One thing I remember about those early years is that he had a funny way of saying Bob. He pronounced it with a long “o” sound, and it was just so cute. It always made me laugh, and for a long time I called my husband Bob with a long “o” sound. Allen seems to have a way of being funny without even trying. That really is a good trait. If we can find the humor in things, we are a blessing to those around us, and to our own spirit.
After Allen graduated from high school, he moved to Casper and started college here, but he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life at that point, so he made the decision to follow in his dad’s footsteps and join the Navy, planning to go in to become a pilot. He was doing well in that field, when a foot injury sidelined him for long enough that he had to change course again.
It is in his new field, that I believe Allen has found his true calling. Allen was accepted in the program to become a Hospitalman, or HN. He studied very hard and finished first in his class. In fact, he graduated with the highest scores to come through the corps school in 5 years. With that ranking and his grades, Allen was offered a very distinguished position. He is stationed at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, which is a coveted post in itself, but his duties go further than that. Allen is proud to assist in the care of the President of the United States and his family whenever they come in for check ups, shots, or any other kind of medical care. It is a position that is only offered to the cream of the crop, so we are very proud indeed. This does not exempt him from doing the normal ship duty that is a part of the Navy, and so there are several other people who share that position and take turns doing ship duty, but the job is his when he is on shore duty.
Allen will also have the opportunity to continue his education, and should he choose to, could even become a doctor. The doors are wide open for him. I don’t know if he plans to make a career of the Navy or not. I don’t think that is a decision he has made yet, but we are all very proud of his accomplishments so far, and I know that he will do very well in whatever he decides to do with his future. Love you Allen.