Nineteen years ago today, our family grew from 4 to 5 with the addition of our son-in-law, Kevin. It’s always a strange feeling to give your daughter away in marriage. No matter how much you love the man who will be her husband, she is still your little girl. You don’t know for sure that this man will be good to your daughter or make her happy. And, as with any marriage, there are no guarantees that it will last. Those are the risks that are involved in any marriage, but when it is your little girl, it just feels different. For the first time in your daughter’s life, she belongs to another person.

Corrie married Kevin just 17 days after her 18th birthday, which made the feeling that we were giving our baby away, even stronger. How could she possibly know if she was in love? What could she possibly know about love, anyway? And what did we really know about this man who was taking our little girl away from us? These were the thoughts that fought their way into my brain as we prepared to give Corrie to Kevin in marriage. The truth was that Corrie and Kevin had dated for 3 years, since her 15th birthday, and they did know each other. They knew their love was real. It was her parents who couldn’t get past the fact that she was grown up now.

As I said, that was nineteen years ago, and the questions have been answered. They are happy. They are in love. They did know what love was and is. Through the years they have proven that over and over. Yes, they were young when they married, but sometimes that doesn’t matter. Sometimes, couples who marry young beat the odds, and they make it. That is what Corrie and Kevin did…they beat the odds.

As for our family…yes, their marriage changed our lives forever. It added a wonderful, loving, caring son-in-law, and 2 amazing grandsons. We grew in numbers, but also is strength. We are better for having added Kevin, Christopher and Joshua. We work together, in good times and bad. We help each other through the tough times and rejoice during the good times. Our family has never been the same, nor can I imagine it without Kevin and the boys in it. Yes, our lives changed dramatically nineteen years ago today…and I wouldn’t go back for anything. Happy 19th wedding anniversary Corrie and Kevin. We love you both (and the boys too, of course) very, very much!!

Ours was a family of girls…5 of them to be exact. I have no brothers, just 4 sisters. Our family stayed that way until I was 18 years old, when my sister, Cheryl had her son, Robert Allen…or Robbie as he would be dubbed, since his dad was Rob. Robbie has yet to completely outgrow that name, and he is 38 years old…as of today.

Robbie was…to put it mildly…a shock to our systems. Cheryl’s first 2 children were girls too, and we were just used to how girls did things. Robbie remained the only boy born in our family for the next 12 years, and he was definitely a trial to his Aunt Caryn, who had 2 girls and no boys. In fact, I spent much of the next approximately 18 years thinking he was insane. By that time, we had 3 more boys in the family, and they were old enough to let me know that Robbie was just acting like any other boy.

Boys are quite different from girls as I’m sure many of you know. They enjoy the whole shock factor thing, and love to see if they can get a rise out of those around them, especially the women. The teasing and annoying things boys do to see if it will bug you, were especially annoying to me, as the mother of 2 girly girls.

Robbie remained insane…in at least some capacity until I ended up with 3 grandsons, and only 1 granddaughter. Boy, were those boys a culture shock to me. Up until they came along and grew a little, I secretly thought it was just other peoples’ boys who were insane, but my own grandsons made it really clear that all boys are pretty much the same.

These days, there is little that boys can do that shocks or surprises me. I fully understand that the way they act is just common to the male species. As the years have gone by, I have come to see Robbie, and my other nephews, in a different light…and I really like them, not just love them because they are nephews. Once you have been around boys for a while, you have a different perspective. So, happy birthday Robbie!!I’m sure you will be happy to know that I no longer think you are insane!! We love you very much!!

There are events in your life that you can look back on and know that they changed your life forever. Things like marriage, motherhood, grandmotherhood, as well as the sad moments like death, come upon you and the world is suddenly just…different…forever. Few things are more exciting in the life of a mom than the day her children have children. I have been blessed to have 4 grandchildren…3 grandsons and 1 granddaughter. They are all the most wonderful gifts my girls and their husbands have ever given me. Each grandchild is special in their own way. Each one is unique, with their own personalities, skills, and ideas. The day each of them arrived changed my life forever, and for the better.

When my first two grandchildren, Christopher, my older daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin’s son, and Shai, my younger daughter Amy, and her husband Travis’ daughter, arrived a day apart, my status changed forever in a matter of two days. It was a whirlwind. I literally spent the better part of those two days at the hospital, witnessing my first and second births ever. I have been going through old pictures and I came across the pictures of my daughters right after giving birth to their first child. Their beautiful, glowing faces filled with awe and wonder as they held the most wonderful gift of God sleeping peacefully in their arms, is priceless. They both tell me that they looked awful, but that is not what I see. I see two beautiful girls who, I am happy to say, God blessed me with.

My younger two grandsons came in fairly quick succession, with Caalab, Amy and Travis’ son, born 17 months after his older sister, and Josh, Corrie and Kevin’s son, born 2 1/2 years after his older brother. So, within 2 1/2 years all my grandchildren would have arrived. It was a whirlwind…and a bit of a culture shock for their grandma, who having had 2 daughters and no sons, was…shall we say, somewhat unprepared for the difference in how girls act and how boys do. Nevertheless, those boys got me broken in pretty quickly, and now I am an old hand at boys as well as girls.

As the 16th anniversary of the day I became a grandmother arrives, I find myself still in awe of the blessings that God has given me. It seems like only yesterday that we were anxiously awaiting their arrival. How could that have been 16 years ago? Where has the time gone? Before I know it, and I know that my girls probably don’t want to hear this, my girls will become grandmothers and I a great grandmother. And just “days” after that, a great great grandmother, because time goes by so very fast that the years seem like days. If was after all, only yesterday the Bob and I were welcoming our beautiful daughters into this world, and also just yesterday that we welcomed each of our grandchildren, so it stands to reason that the next generation, and the next will feel exactly the same way. Yes, time goes by so quickly, but I wouldn’t change one second of it where my kids and grandkids are concerned. I am so very blessed, and I thank God for such wonderful gifts.

I met the love of my life at the tender age of 17. I worked at Kmart, as did his sister. We were kids, and that is a fact that stands out more and more in my mind every time I look at these old pictures, but age doesn’t always matter. Ours was a love that would last. We knew it…or at least hoped it would. I suppose you can’t really say you knew it, even though at the time you honestly did know it.

The early years flew by in a whirlwind of activity as our family began and grew. We were busy, and I suppose that many marriages struggle at this stage, but we hardly noticed the passing years. We couldn’t imagine being anywhere else or with anyone else. In fact, the thought never crossed our minds. We were just going forward with our lives, being happy, enjoying our kids, and…well, living.

Before long, our girls were in school and our lives were changing again. Back to school night, parent/teacher conferences, field trips, and class parties became the new normal for us. Again we hardly noticed the passing years. We were just to busy with our lives and being happy to notice that time was passing. During the time when a lot of marriages were strained and breaking up, ours remained strong. I don’t try to say that we had any secret formula to keep a marriage strong, because we didn’t. We were older now, but still young, and still we didn’t really know how to make a marriage work. We just moved forward with our lives.

Before we knew it, our girls were graduating from high school, and both were soon married and starting their own lives. Our lives were changing again. Soon we were the grandparents of three grandsons and one granddaughter, the whirlwind of our lives continued to spin. We were so busy enjoying the babies, and enjoying our adult daughters and their husbands, that we didn’t notice the passing years. Before we knew it our grandchildren were in school.

Now, our grandchildren are teenagers, and as I take a moment to look back on the years, I realize that those two kids who met all those years ago had something special, although they didn’t know it then. Somehow their marriage was going to be one that would beat the odds. A marriage of two kids, that lasted a lifetime…unusual to be sure, but not impossible, and sometimes not even unique, as some of my friends can attest…but still, somewhat rare. It is the result of being blessed to find…on the first try…the love of my life.

As kids, we all thought snow was the coolest thing. We couldn’t wait for it to start so we could go out and play in it…provided it wasn’t a school day. If it was a school day, we all hoped that it would come down so hard that school would be cancelled. Funny how if you were in school and it snowed, you thought it was great fun to have indoor recess, but if school was out, you couldn’t wait to get outside to play. And it didn’t matter if it was early in the day or late at night, snow simply called for playing outside. It called out to you…”Come and build a snowman with me!!”

And once you got the snowman built…if you were blessed with a block full of kids, you were all set for a snowball fight. Of course, the first thing you needed to do is build a fort. You needed a place to hide from the incoming snowballs, because we all know what happens to that poor person who gets caught with out some form of cover. That person is really in a lot of trouble, because very soon, the snowballs are going to start flying, and they will not show mercy. It is nothing personal. It’s just the way the game is played. Survival of the fittest is the name of the game. Of course, it’s even more fun if that poor victim of the attack is your mom or aunt.

There were always so many ways to have fun in the snow when you were a kid. One of the most fun, of course, was throwing someone else in the snowbank…preferably a girl right. And when you get your three grandsons going against your only granddaughter…well, she is going in the snow. Even if she doesn’t want to mess up her hair and makeup, because she is going to the mall. Shai was a good sport when her cousins Chris and Josh, and her brother Caalab threw her in the snow, and rubbed snow in her face.

For kids, snow days are the best part of winter. Hoping for a day off from school to hang out with your friends and cut loose a little. And in my opinion, it’s just as well that we like snow when we are kids, because many of us really don’t later on. Maybe it’s the driving in it, or maybe we just get more thin skinned as we get older. My idea of a good thing to do on a snow day…sitting in front of a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate, and reading a good book on my Kindle. Oh yeah!! That’s what I’m talking about.

My great grandmother lived next door to my grandparents for all the years I knew her. She was my mother’s dad’s mother, and all of us kids loved her very much. Whenever we were at my grandparent’s house, we would always go over to Little Great Grandma’s house. She would always have cookies for us to eat, and she would sit with us at the table and talk a little. We didn’t go over often, because there was always something going on at my grandparents house…always lots of kids there to play with.

Whenever we got to go over, I loved seeing Little Great Grandma. I don’t know who started calling her that, but I don’t remember ever calling her anything else. When I think about my own grandchildren and all the nicknames they have come up with for me though, my guess is that one of the great grandsons got taller than her, and decided that she was now Little Great Grandma. My grandsons, who are all taller than I am now, are always calling me Little Grandma, so it stands to reason that, since my great grandmother wasn’t a tall woman, she would eventually be given that name.

I used to think it was unique to this generation or my family, since my sister’s grandchildren have those nicknames for her too, but when I got to thinking about my great grandmother, and the nickname we always called her, I think it is something that crosses the generational lines. I suppose my great grandmother would have cringed at some of my nicknames, but as times change, so do the nicknames.

I also think it is a form of endearment. Kids call ’em as they see ’em. My grandchildren used to call me the fingernail grandma (I believe Christopher thought of that one) when they were little and trying to figure out a way to distinguish which grandma they were talking about. I do love to paint my nails and they are always long, so I guess it stands to reason. As the years have gone by, I have been Gma, G (came from Josh, it was easier), Gram, Gramama (definitely from my granddaughter, Shai), G-pickle (Caalab, my joker, came up with that one), as well as several others that didn’t have a very long life, and so don’t come quickly to mind.

Endearing nicknames are only given to those we love, and since I know my grandchildren love me very much, I can look at the silly nicknames I have acquired over the years, and know that funny as they are…they are my own, given to me by grandchildren who love me with all their heart, and they show me that every day. I love each and every nickname, almost as much as I love each and every grandchild.

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