Caalab Royce, Shai Royce, Joshua Petersen, Christopher PetersenimageYears ago, when my grandchildren were little, they went to the Boys and Girls Club as their after school daycare. At first, they went to a little west side branch of the Boys and Girls Club, until the larger club, that is now the only one in Casper, was built. The club was filled with things to keep the kids occupied and out of trouble after school. The main goal of the Boys and Girls Club is to prevent kids from being latchkey kids, who are home alone after school for several hours. It is well known that kids get in trouble when they have too much unsupervised time. At the time when my grandchildren were there, one of the projects was a very poignant correlation between the children and the future. The project featured handprints, including those of my four grandchildren. It was called the “The Hands That Hold The Future” and the kids were told it was going on display outside the Nicolaysen Art Museum.image

That was years ago, and long forgotten, because somehow it was never displayed at the Nic. The kids, especially my grandson, Chris Petersen, were disappointed, because they thought it would be cool to see their work there. Still, time blurs the disappointments we have sometimes, and the display faded into oblivion…until three of my grandkids, Chris, Shai Royce, and Josh Petersen were going to the movies. They stopped at the Loaf and Jug near Sunrise Shopping Center, and Chris was stunned to see the display there. Apparently it was placed there years ago. It was quite weathered.

While my oldest grandson, Chris was pretty young when they helped make the display, the memory came back to him. He told Shai and Josh about it, and Shai remembered it too. They even recalled which hands were theirs. Chris had wanted to be on top, and Josh was under his and to the left. Shai wanted to be next to her brother, Caalab Royce, and she remembered cutting off her fingers because of the crease at the joint of finger and hand. She also remembers being quite upset when told that she had done it wrong, and how the teacher imageimageput it together and on the display anyway. In a way, that uniqueness makes it stand out even more.

The sign has weathered a lot over the years of being there by the Loaf and Jug convenience store since about the early 2000s. The paint is peeling and some people might think it should be removed. I can honestly say that the hands of the children I know, that are on it, have grown into wonderful people. If most kids of that era turn out as well as my grandchildren, I can say that our future is in good hands.

Four Generations of HandsA while back, my daughter, Amy saw a picture of four hands forming a square. They were four generations of a family and that struck her as very special. So the next time we were all together, we took the pictures that were like those she had seen. We were very pleased with how the pictures looked. It was a very different way to do generational pictures.

I started thinking about what those hands represent. They represent the past, present, and future of our family. Yes, you could say that my mother’s hand is the past, but then so is mine, Amy’s and even Shai’s. Parts of our lives are in the past and part of our lives are in the present, and yes, parts of our lives are in the future. Within those hands is the hope of the future and the wisdom of the past. Our mistakes are now living in the past, and the future is what we will make of it. The choice is really ours.

Those hand have done so many different things. They have cuddled new life and changed diapers, shaping the future with their loving touch. They have been the disciplinarian of young lives, teaching responsibility and respect for others. They have played and worked…held books and babies. Everything we do, in some way includes our hands. They have shaped what we are. Some hands are calloused…the hands of a manual laborer. Some are soft, possibly the hands of an office worker. Some are dry from too much soap and water, possibly the hands of a nurse or caregiver. Some hands are permanently stained with oil or paint, while some are soft and manicured. It all depends on what things are going on in their lives.

So much can be seen in our hands, whether it is physically seen, or simply seen because you know the person. Our hands are so expressive of who we are, and when you look at four generations of hands, you can see all the differences that you know exist between the hand’s owners. It was such a good idea to take the picture, because it will always be a reminder of the past, present and future of who we were, are and will be.

My mom’s younger brother, Uncle Wayne has always been such a funny man. He loves to make the kids laugh. For as long as I can remember, Uncle Wayne had dentures, and he loved popping them in and out of his mouth when the kids were around. He could pop them part way out of his mouth and make them act like they were going to bite you…all with no hands. The first time we saw it, we screamed with delight, and then we begged him to do it again. When we were little enough not to understand what dentures were, we would try to pop our own teeth out too, a comical site for sure, as we pushed our lower jaw out , or pushed on our teeth with our tongue. Uncle Wayne’s eyes just danced  and beamed with delight as he watched us try, then he would show us how “easy” it was, if we just knew how. Every time we saw him we asked again and again, to pop out his teeth. If Uncle Wayne got tired of that, he never showed it. He would simply grin and pop out those teeth, and then sit back with a smile on his face and wait…for a second or two…until the kids started begging him to do it again.

Uncle Wayne’s funny side developed early in his life. He was the younger of my mom’s two brothers, and one of two boys in a family of nine children. You could look at that situation in a couple of ways. You could call him and his brother…out numbered, and you would be right. Or, you could say that the boys had lots of potential victims…for all of the antics boys are bound by their very nature to engage in. Since my mom was born right in between those two boys, and they were often her playmates, and she was either a prime victim or a partner in crime…depending on how she or they felt at the time. To be sure, my mom and her two brothers got into plenty of mischief together. What one didn’t come up with one of the others would, and when you put those three heads together…oh boy, look out!!

Today is my Uncle Wayne’s 75th birthday…which is a landmark by any standards. His life has been one filled with laughter, much of which was his own making…the best kind of life. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!!  Have a wonderful day!!  We love you very much!!

My girls were babies about the time the wind up baby swing was invented. Boy was that thing ever a life saver. Babies who were fussy and wouldn’t sleep would almost instantly fall asleep in there. Of course, I didn’t let the girls sleep there over night…that would not be a good plan, but it did offer me a little break once in a while.

My girls loved their swing. Soon the time of being a newborn passed, and they were babies who could be a little bit more alert and aware of their surroundings. They still loved their swing. I remember getting ready to put them in, and they would giggle and kick their little legs in anticipation of the ride. It was like having their own carnival ride. I think most babies get to a place where they really enjoy their swing. It becomes more than just a tool to get a cranky baby to sleep. Just like kids who are older…babies like to swing.

For a time, we hung toys from the crossbar for the girls to play with, but they never really could make that work very well, so we gave them a stuffed animal to play with. Funny thing is, the toys were really not necessary. Kids are really very resourceful, and they can make toys out of most situations. In the absence of real toys, they will look for things that will work as a good substitute.

And as we all know, it doesn’t take kids very long to find something to play with. It is right in front of them as they are laying on their back on the floor. They play with their hands and their feet. Their hands were the first thing they played with in their swing. Chewing and sucking on them, but since neither of my girls ever really took to the whole thumb sucking thing,  their hands got old pretty fast when it came to being used as a toy.

Then came a very important day in the lives of my daughters. There they were…tired of their hands, and looking for something new…something that would get rid of their boredom and still allow them to stay in the swing they so loved. They looked around for something new. What could they use as a new toy? Then, just when they thought they might have to do something drastic…like cry, they looked over the edge of the swing, and wonder of wonders, there it was! Inspiration hit them…”Hey, I see my feet!!”

We all do it…throw kisses to people we care about. Most of us don’t even give it a second thought. But when it comes to babies we spend hours trying to teach them to throw kisses and laugh about the funny attempts at it. And there are many funny attempts. There is the back handed kiss, were they see the back of your hand so they think they need to use the back of theirs, so instead of kissing their palm or finger tips, the kiss the back of their hand. Then there is the kiss the palm, but forget to throw, where the hand just stays on the lips. I have even seen where the child sticks their finger in their mouth and then pulls it out. Somehow that one just doesn’t seem like a kiss, but what do I know. I guess they have seen their parents throwing a one finger kiss, but couldn’t quite get it right, so the finger went in the mouth instead up to the lip.

One of my favorites is the one my little granddaughter always did…the two handed kiss. She loved throwing kisses, and she would always use both hands. I guess she could throw bigger kisses if she used both hands. And maybe she just loved her grandma…that’s the best reason I can think of. I loved those thrown kisses, and now that she is so grown up, I miss that little girl, so bubbly and full of kisses and hugs. But, she has grown into a beautiful young lady, and I am very proud of her.

All too soon, the days of little baby thrown kisses are over and kids don’t want to throw kisses to parents and grandparents so much. Then you try your hardest to get those toddlers to throw you a kiss. The best way I have found is to tell them you want a hug. This might get the hug, but if it’s a boy, much of the time, they will throw a kiss instead…because hugging a girl…even a grandma, is…well, eeewwww!!

As adults, we no longer feel the embarrassment over thrown kisses, as we did as adolescent children. Then the thrown kisses start to happen more often. The kisses are different though…as we all know. They use the hands less, and are mostly meant to tell our loved ones how much we care. They can also be an expression of deep love for a spouse or significant other. They can even be used to attract someone we want to meet. Whatever we use them for…we never really stop liking those thrown kisses.

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