grandkids

There is just something about your grandpa when you are little. His big strong arms that can easily hold you and your cousin, so nobody is left out. Grandma’s arms are great…a wonderful place to go when you have an owie or just need a hug…you know, that cuddly, comfort place, but Grandpa’s arms are strong and protective. He can pick you up and make you feel big and tall. My grandkids loved it when Papa picked them up together when they were little. They thought it was kind of funny that he could do that.

Papa was real good at teasing, tickling, and chasing. He was also perfect for horsey rides on his foot or his back, and piggy back rides too. An he could lift those kids up on his shoulders so they could see, or lift them up to touch the ceiling. All things that their dads could do too, but somehow it was a little different when it was Papa. It’s funny how everything is different when it’s with your grandparents. Even when the kids are little, they know that grandparents are special.

When the kids started spending the night, Papa was, and still is, the best alarm clock out there. If those kids didn’t want to wake up when it is time to go to breakfast…he would make that happen. He might tickle their feet, threaten to leave them home without breakfast…and that is a threat, because they love going out to breakfast. Usually it only takes a couple of tries and the final…”Ok, we will go without you!!” to get them moving.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and as the boys get older, they are more able to handle their Papa. While they may not be able to completely take him yet, the day is coming. Of course, they love him, so I’m sure they will take it easy on the old man…maybe, but either way, when they can finally take him, I’m quite sure they will rub it in really well. I guess you could say he is blessed to have a granddaughter too, because those girls have a very different way of handling their Papa…she will simply sweet talk him, just like her mom and aunt do. Girls are different in that way. They don’t have to vie for superiority with their dads or grandpas, they just have to smile.

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…

Every year since they were born, we have taken Christmas pictures of my grandchildren together. Everyone loves to get those new pictures to compare with a year ago. Kids change so fast. Some years have been a trial, some years feel almost impossible. My grandchildren are all very different people, and they have very different personalities.

That was not totally the problem in the really early years. When you are dealing with infants, they are either asleep or crying. So you work with them and work with them until it is finally right, and after this photo session, you head home to put the baby down for a nap, and take one yourself, because…you have earned it.

As they get older, it’s the fighting that stalls the whole process. This one doesn’t want to sit next to that one, or this one wants to be in the back, not the front, or someone is touching someone else. Oh my gosh, the tragedy of it all. Heaven forbid, having to be somewhere in the picture that you didn’t want to, and if you let them choose, they all want the same place. And all you can think of is next year they will be one year older and it will work better.

Then next year comes around, and you have a whole new set of issues. Makeup is horrible, or is it the hair, they hate what they are wearing, or the inevitable as they become teenagers…they are too tired. So you try letting them pick a few of the poses to break the ice a bit. Sometimes even that doesn’t work well, but sometimes it does, and you end up with a very funny pose, or set of poses.

Ultimately, no matter what the age, with a little persuasion, such as the promise of candy afterward or…maybe bodily harm if they don’t behave, you get a few good poses, and the pictures turn out quite well. And of course, when the pictures are given out, and only the best ones are given out, by the way, everyone just loves them. They all think, “How did you pull that off? Getting them all to smile at the same time.” And of course, you just smile and let them think what they want. You know it was a lot of work, but…it was so worth it. Once again, it is time to start thinking about those pictures…no wonder I have a headache!!

When children are little they normally follow their age, or close to it as to the range of heights, but in some cases where you have some very tall parents and some very short parents, that isn’t always the case. In our family, we have some tall people, such as Lynn, my brother-in-law, who is 6’6″ and then you have Debbie, my sister-in-law, and me, who are both 5’2″. So, this makes for a wide variety of heights in our kids.

Corrie, my daughter and the first born grandchild, is my tallest child at a whopping 5’1″, even shorter than I am, but not unusual considering that much of my family is short and some are shorter than I am. Then comes my second daughter Amy, the second born grandchild and the one who gets to have the distinction of being the runt of the litter as the family goes, comes in at 4’11”, or midget as her husband Travis likes to call her. Machelle, my niece and Debbie and Lynn’s oldest daughter and the third born grandchild, and her sister Susan, who is the youngest of this group, come in at 5’10” and 5’10 1/2″ respectively. And Barry, fell right in line with Machelle and Susan at 5’10”, just a little shorter than Susan, but with the right shoes, who would ever know. There are two other grandchildren, JD and Eric, who were born a while after the first photo was taken, and weren’t in the second for some reason. So I guess that we are really just a wide spread in there, and not anything like stairsteps…since my girls are just little, and the rest of the kids are just tall.

There is an age distinction that will always come into play where kids and grandkids are concerned, but it becomes very hard to tell as kids get older, because you just never know how things will play out in the height arena as they grow up. It is always interesting to watch them try to stand up tall…even on tip toe to remain the tallest for as long as possible, but in some cases, that doesn’t hold out for very long. Amy was fairly quickly relegated to the basement in the height arena, and initially Machelle raced out front, even though they are only 6 months apart in age. Corrie got pushed down to second to the bottom in the height race early on too, and there they have both remained from that time forward. So other than the years when JD and Eric were little, Corrie and Amy have always been the runts. The real fight for height has been with the rest of the kids. You guys should really just learn to get along…Hahahaha!!!

For my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary, my sisters and I decided to send them on an Alaskan cruise. They had always wanted to go to Alaska, and we decided to make that happen for them in 2003, a decision we were glad we made, especially in light of my dad’s passing in 2007. We presented the gift to them at their 50th Anniversary Party, and they were…well stunned doesn’t totally describe it, but it will do. They were not sure they wanted to go on a cruise without at least some of us kids for company, but we convinced them that they would have a wonderful time, and so finally they agreed to go.

They made all their plans for the tours they would take while on the cruise, and we researched all the places they would want to go on their free time. They felt ready and very excited. It was the kind of adventure they had never really considered for themselves, but as the reality of it sank in, I’m sure they wondered why they hadn’t thought of it themselves. Life on a cruise ship, for anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to go, is amazing!! There is so much to do and see, tons of food to eat, and people to meet, and it’s already paid for, so you have very little financial things to think about.

That said, you would also have to know my mother to truly grasp the full meaning of the rest of my story. Mom can’t take a trip without bringing back some gift for her kids, and a trip like this one would mean souveniers for kids, grandkids, and great grandkids. It’s a good thing my dad always just let her have her way about this stuff…or maybe it came from years of fighting a losing battle, and finally giving up. On one of their stops, Ketchikan, I believe, they took the afternoon to go shopping for those souveniers. They had a great time strolling through the town, looking for novel items to bring back to their kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.

It was getting late, and they really needed to head back to the boat, because as any experienced cruiser knows, the ship waits for no man…no matter what. The challenge my dad had was making my mom understand that the ship would not wait. She kept saying, “In a minute…just a minute…I’m almost done.” By the time Dad finally got Mom headed back to the ship, they had their hands full of bags, and their ship was the last one at the dock. And the worst part…they only had a few minutes to get there. It looked like it was going to be a lost cause as they walked as fast as they could to get to their ship…but a man operating a bike taxi cab came along and saved the day…bringing them to their ship with mere moments to spare, and avoiding an Alaskan Fiasco.

In a world that gets busier by the moment, it is hard to keep up with your close friends, much less your aunts, uncles, and cousins, who you don’t hang out with on a regular basis. So, every year my mom’s family has a family picnic in the summer. That and the annual family Christmas party provide a chance to reconnect with an ever growing family. Since her family is quite large and most of us still live in the Casper, Wyoming area, the turn out is usually pretty large. There were a lot of people who were not there this year, but it could easily pass for a small company picnic without stretching the imagination too far.

My mom and her siblings are getting older now, and some of them have trouble getting around. They don’t get together as often as they would like, because it is harder for them. So, the annual family picnic is a nice way for them to spend some time together, and for their kids, grandkids, and great grandkids to enjoy the time as well. They sit around and talk about the old days…about those who have gone home before us and about their memories of them. And get to know the new babies who have joined our family.

This year, thanks to Facebook, where I have connected with a number of my cousins grown and teenaged kids, I knew more of the kids better than ever before. They are a great bunch of kids, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them. It is a rare thing, I think, to know the children and grandchildren of your cousins pretty well, especially in a family that numbers over 300, but I can say that I do. And I feel very blessed to know them.

I have been to many of these family picnics. And many are spent asking who this or that new person is, but this time I knew…I knew them, and their kids. I suppose that many people would think this an odd statement, because we all live in the same town, but when you really think about it, do you know your cousins kids and grandkids well? If you are like most families, probably not.

Little kids are so much fun, and your grandkids would have to rank right up there at the top. They have such an innocence and wonder over life. Everything is new and exciting to them. It is so fun to watch.

When Christopher and Shai were little, they were going through all the new experiences together, since they were only 1 day apart in age, Christopher being born on February 28th, and Shai being born on February 29th. We had such a great time with them. Every new thing, every excitement, every experience, we had times two. What a cool blessing to have both my daughters become mothers one day apart. Even though one was a boy and one a girl, they went through all the same experiences at the same time. Slightly different in the things of boys and girls, but many were identical too. It was wonderful.

It was great playing the little games with them that I had played with their mothers. People who aren’t grandparents don’t know how cool it is to get to watch two generations of their children go through all the newness and excitement of those toddler years. That wonder of learning and playing. And with your grandchildren, you just feel differently about it. You don’t feel like you should be somewhere else, doing something else. You aren’t the parent. You are free to simply enjoy. No responsibilities to make sure they grow up right, not that you don’t want that too, but the responsibility belongs to your children now. You have earned the right to simply play with the kids. It is a very liberating feeling.

This particular picture looks like two kids just playing in a hallway, but if you look very closely at what Shai, my granddaughter, is looking at, you will see the real reason for the looks on their faces. There in the corner of the picture is their grandmother…me. We were playing “I’m gonna get you” and they were doing everything they could to get away, only to put themselves in a position of nowhere else to go. The next few seconds included delighted screams and giggles. I had caught them, and it was quite a moment.

Sometimes the things kids find interesting can be so funny. When my oldest grandkids were little, like most kids, they liked places like boxes, baskets, and other such hiding places. I don’t quite understand what the draw is for kids, but they always seem to think it is a secret place, or maybe a fort, or their own special place. Whatever it is, those little places are as special to them as…maybe a car is to young driver. They thought of it aa their own play area.

Christopher’s family has always had dogs. They were and are members of the family. Since Christopher grew up with them and Shai spent a lot of time with Christopher, it just stands to reason that the dog’s kennel held some interest for those two kids. The dog was a special friend, and the kennel belonged to her. It was the coolest place they could think of.

In fact, that is putting it mildly. It was a favorite hangout for them. Every time they were together, Corrie would find them in the kennel, playing. They would bring their toys in and play in there for hours. Meanwhile, the dog really wanted nothing to do with the kennel when the family was at home. It was a bed for her and nothing more. She knew she had to be in there when they were gone or in bed, but the minute she was allowed out, she was out. And here are these two little kids who can’t wait for the dog to vacate so they can take over. I guess it is all about “the grass being greener” on the other side.

I seems that the very coolest thing for the kids was trading places with the dog. I guess that isn’t so odd, since, all the dog wanted to do was trade places with the kids. It seems that the grass really can be greener on the other side, because it is all about the eye of the beholder. Or maybe it is like the big box that the appliance came in. Once the item that was normally in the box, or the kennel, came out, the kids could go in. And so they would…and they would have the most wonderful adventures while they were there.

Children come in so many different sizes, and grow at different rates. Age doesn’t always make a determine size. Such is the case with my daughters and their cousins, on both sides. We have grandchildren who are older than my girls who are much taller, because my girls are…well, short, as is their mother. My niece Kellie, who is tall, calls us the wee ones. And then she giggles, because that is what Kellie does…giggle…a lot!! You see, in this picture, my girls, Corrie and Amy, who are the oldest and second oldest grandchildren, are the second and forth kids in the picture, and Machelle who is first in the picture is in reality the third grandchild, Barry, who is third in the picture is the forth grandchild, and Susan who is the fifth in the picture is the only one in the right place.

Pictures are the documentation of the past. A view back to a time that can only be visited in our memory. Once children are grown, that time in their lives is over, and it goes so very fast. Old pictures become treasures, as we ooooo and awwww over them. Stair Step pictures bring memories of the differences in size that can be so pronounced as kids grow. They are a great way to document the changes in children as they occur. Children vie for the position of tallest, or sometimes…shortest, because not everyone wants to be the tallest. I never did, nor did my girls, which is good I guess, considering the way things turned out.

And no one is safe from the Stair Step picture, no matter how old you are. People just like to look back from the early beginnings of childhood to adulthood. It has a tendency to put our lives in some kind of perspective. We are able to see if our expectations for the child, fit the adult they turned out to be.

Shai & Caalab in the Whee ChairIn my living room is an unusual chair. It is an office chair, but it does not sit at a desk. Someday, I suppose it will be taken away, but for now it serves to remind me of some happy memories. The chair was one that was given to me by my boss (don’t tell him I used that word, because he hates that word…so it will be our secret, ok). It was intended to go downstairs to my office, but it just never got there.

You see, my 4 little grandchildren found out that the chair turns around, and…well, it was my fault really…if they were fussy, we would put them in the Whee Chair, and turn it around like a merry-go-round. Within minutes the fussy grandbaby was squealing happily, “Whee, whee!!!!” Hence the Whee Chair. It was a great way to entertain them. There were many times we would have more than one of them in the chair, and even the occasional fight over who got to be in it. We finally had to make them take turns.

As time went on, the kids learned to maneuver the chair themselves. Rarely did a day go by, since I have had the great blessing of being able to see my grandchildren almost every day, that one or up to three little kids weren’t squeezed into that chair, begging to be spun around. And rarely was once or twice enough, so it was a relief when they were big enough to do it themselves too. Had it not been for that, we might have been worn out a lot.

Yes, it’s funny the things that kids can find amusing, given the chance to use their imaginations. So, the Whee Chair still sits in my living room, although it no longer provides rides for children. I suppose one day I will reassign it to another location in the house, but I think that day will make me a little sad, because it will be the closing of the childhood days chapter of my grandchildrens’ lives. Not that those days aren’t all but over now, since my youngest grandchild will be 13 in September, but rather it will mark the point when I accept that those days have come to a close.

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