Baby GirlThis time of year, everything is so exciting for the little ones in our lives…and even for the not so little ones. The littlest ones especially find the lights, gifts, candy, and the excitement of it all to be almost more than they can believe. Their eyes light up as brightly as the Christmas tree, and keeping their little hands away from the tree and gifts can prove to be really difficult. On Thursday nights, I spend the evening with my mom, Collene Spencer and my sister, Cheryl Masterson. With school activities and Christmas shopping to do, my niece Jenny Spethman often drops her daughter, Aleesia off at my mom’s so she can spend a little time with her grandma and great grandma. That means I get to see quite a bit of her too, and she is so much fun to be around at this age. She is such a goofy little girl anyway, and I don’t know if it’s the candy or the season, but she becomes even more goofy.

I have had a chance to hear Aleesia say a lot of things, and believe me they are all just as cute as they can be. She always calls the movie Despicable Me, Spicable Me and the Minis. She calls my mom, her great grandma, GeeGee. She loves to say Paaaaleese with her grandma. These are common mispronunciations among little kids to be sure, but such fun to hear the kids say. And as we all know, kids grow up so fast that before you know it they can say all their words without mispronunciation, and those cute little sayings days are gone.

This last week, while my niece, Jenny was shopping, Aleesia and her brother Zack were at Mom’s house and we were watching kid movies. It’s funny how easily you can get used to those kid shows, when there is a little one around trying to say all the words they aren’t sure how to pronounce. That night though, Aleesia was having a lot of trouble concentrating on the movie. She kept touching the tree and pointing to the tree. Then she got up on the couch and looked out the window and saw the lights on the other houses and said, “Moo Lights!!” I laughed in spite of myself. I knew that she was trying to say “more lights”, but in my head I pictured cow-shaped lights. It was such a funny thought, that I could not keep a straight face.

Of course, what would Christmas be without candy. Christmas especially seems to be filled with baking of cakes, pies, cookies, and candy. By the time the holiday is over, the kids have had so much candy that is takes a couple of weeks to bring them back to earth. My sister, Cheryl had a really difficult time limiting the amount Decorating the treeof candy Aleesia had. Aleesia kept coming back for more, saying, “Chocoleet!” She placed a strong emphasis on the “leet” part, and her high little voice just made it sound so cute. Of course, it was chocolate, but any candy would have been just fine.

I know that these days are very short, at least for Aleesia mispronouncing word, so I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to be around to hear her funny little sayings. They will most likely be said only this year, and then next year, she will either not mispronounce words, or the mispronunciations will be entirely different words. Either way, I think I will always smile when I look at Christmas lights, because the thought of cow-shaped lights called Moo Lights will always be in my memory files.

Football PracticeFirst GameI think if you were to ask him, my nephew, Riley Birky would tell you that there are two things he likes to do most…football and dirt biking….and not necessarily in that order. You don’t have to look very far to find that out. Most of his Facebook posts are pictures of motorcycles, and posts from his friends about how great his team did at the most recent game. So far this year, Riley’s team at CY Middle School is having a very good year. Every post after the game tells of what an amazing team they are. I suppose that if all the guys on his team like football as much as he does, then they get a lot of practice time in. When you love the game, practice is fun…it’s like play, and nobody minds it at all.

Riley’s love for motorcycles probably comes from the same place as most guys who love them. I think it could start as early as their toy cars. Most of them also have toy motorcycles. It seems like they always go together. Add to that the fact that my brother-in-law, Ron loves to ride four wheelers and motorcycles. Riley and his little brother, Tucker are growing up around that, so it’s no wonder that they both love them, And it gives Ron someone to hang out with when he rides too. I’m not so much a big fan of motorcycles myself, but each person has their own ideas, and for Riley, motorcycles are great.

With all the macho stuff Riley likes to do, I think it is a good thing that he had a little brother to play with him too. Riley and Tucker are best buddies. Tucker thinks Riley is the best thing since sliced bread…or at least since candy bars. And if Tucker is having a bad day, Riley is always there to make things better. Add to that the fact that they both enjoy the same things…like their dog, riding on the motorcycle with their dad, and baking cookies with their mom…if they don’t eat all the cookie dough that is. I can’t say that I blame them when it comes to eating cookie dough though, I mean seriously, who wants to wait for them to bake anyway.
Riding with DadMaking Cookies
Riley has changed over the years since he, his mom, brother, and sister joined our family. He has gone from being a little kid to a very grown up young man. Nevertheless, he has never lost the love and companionship he feels for his little brother. Tucker thinks so highly of him, and it would be a real shame if Riley ever decided that Tucker was a pain in the neck. I think that would break Tucker’s heart for sure. Today is Riley’s birthday. It’s very cool that this one fell on a Saturday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Gregory Hushman_editedWhen I was a teenager, my cousin Greg was well known in this town. We didn’t go to the same high school, but every time his name came up, and I would say that he was my cousin, I always got the same reaction…”Greg is your cousin???”  It was always said with respect, and I always felt proud to be Greg’s cousin. Greg was someone that you just knew you could count on. The girls all liked him, because he was cute, but treated them right…which wasn’t a combination you often saw in the lookers. We, like all teenagers in Casper, spent as many evenings as we could dragging the strip. For those who don’t know, that was driving up and down CY Avenue, looking for and hanging out with our friends. It was the thing we all did. Some of the kids that hung out there, got into trouble, but for the most part, it was just good kids, just hanging out. Not that the cops or the store managers thought so, whenever we stopped to visit. Still, the usual solution, even then, was to tell us to move on.

While Greg was well respected as a teenager, and in his adult life, there were a few things that went on as a kid that some might consider questionable. As I have written family stories, Greg has told on himself a little. You see, Greg was a bit of a cookie monster. He knew all the best places to go too. His quest for cookies took him to several key places around town. He might start out at our great grandma’s house. This was probably where Greg perfected his sweet talking skills. Greg has a smile that charms the ladies…or at that age, grandma and the aunts. I can see it now. He probably stopped over with a little bouquet of flowers and that big smile, and said something like, “I love you grandma!” Well, being a grandma myself now, I can say that those grandkids can get almost anything they want with a smile and and “I love you grandma” so I figure he had Grandma and the aunts eating out of his hand…or rather filling his hands and tummy with cookies. Once he got done at Grandmas, his travels might take him to Aunt Gladys’ house. He might say he was going to play in the park, but he knew exactly where the cookie jar was, and just how to sweet talk Aunt Gladys into giving him some of her cookies. Sometimes I wonder how many times Greg’s dinner was spoiled by his travels, but then, if he was like most boys, those cookies didn’t even make a dent in his appetite.
Greg and Katie
Like all kids, Greg grew up, had a daughter, and became a grandfather. Now he would get to see the other side of that coin of life. His girl, and his grandkids would be able to smile and melt his heart. There would be nothing that he wouldn’t do for them. That was just how it was going to be…for the rest of his life. When you think about it, Greg as a grandpa just isn’t that different than the Greg I knew as a teenager…that guy I was so proud to call my cousin, because he was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. What a great guy he was and is. Today is Greg’s birthday. Happy birthday Greg!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

So often we determine the value of a person by their beauty, wisdom, athletic prowess, intelligence, college degree, or bank account, but so often these things have nothing to do with the real value of a person. It who the person is inside that we should be looking at. That is the person of value.

My sister-in-law was mentally disabled, but while she wasn’t an athlete, a lawyer, doctor, or nurse, she was one of the most valuable people I have ever known. She didn’t leave some great mark on history, or set any world records, but she left her special mark on my heart, and on the hearts of the rest of her family. Marlyce was a child in many ways, and yet not in ways of playing with toys. She loved to bake and knit. And as a Special Olympian, she learned to bowl and totally loved it. Another thing that she totally loved, was being an aunt. Marlyce loved babies.

I could always tell when Marlyce had been baking chocolate chip cookies before we arrived, because even before the smell hit me, I could tell by the smile on her face. She knew chocolate chip cookins are my favorite, and she loved pleasing me by having them there for me. As I said, she had a way of getting into your heart and staying there. In fact, once she got to know you, you were like family. She didn’t have enemies, or strangers…just friends she hadn’t met yet.

Marlyce left us in 1989. She was only 39 years old at the time. Though she has been gone now for 23 year, I can still see her smiling face and her her infectious laugh. She comes to my mind whenever I smell or eat chocolate chip cookies. I still miss her very much and every day. Happy birthday sweet Marlyce. We love you very much.

Every year during Fire Safety Week, the local fire department holds an event to create better awareness to the hazards of fire, and how to stay safe. A lot of the day is geared toward the kids, because they are new to fire safety. Fire trucks are brought in and the kids…and adults…can get a ride in the big ladder bucket, which is very cool. You also have the opportunity to take a closer look at the trucks, and learn about all they can do. Of course, every kid wants to see the lights and hear the sirens. There are rooms set up to show you how to escape in the event of a fire in the home, and talking about fire extinguishers and such. It is all designed to teach people how to survive a fire.

When my grandchildren were little, and probably also because Bob worked on the fire trucks, we always took them to those things. It made for a fun day, and it’s never too early to teach kids about fire safety. Of course, their parents went to, when they could, and we made an event of it. The kids had a great time checking out all the event had to offer, and of course, there was always food and drinks…a definite plus as far as they were concerned, especially if the food was something good, like cookies.

When they were little, they really didn’t care much about the whole fire safety thing, but the rooms to teach escape were kind of cool!! They showed the places where fires could start and had the necessary equipment for escaping in them. There were instructions for the kids that could read, and people to help , or the parents could help the little ones. The whole place looked to the kids like a big playhouse. So they took their time playing in there, and that is when a discovery was made…

I know that you thought you knew exactly how the old Christmas story goes, but all these years I think you may have been wrong. We have all heard it…the story about Santa Clause coming down the chimney on Christmas Eve, bringing toys to all the good little girls and boys…but you have it all wrong. I know that for a fact, because there in that little fire safety room, we discovered that it wasn’t Santa Clause than comes down the chimney at all, but rather it is Christopher Santa Clause that comes down the chimney with all the toys. No seriously…it is…just look!! See…you just thought you knew…

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