party

Whether you are a die-hard football fan, or you just like to bet once in a while, many people find themselves in some kind of bet over the Super Bowl. Most bets are innocent enough, with everyone laying their money down to see if they can pick the winner, point spread, or just the right square on a grid. Lots of people even bet on the games leading up to the Super Bowl, to keep the fun going all season long. Normally the whole idea is to see who can come up with the most money won, but every once in a while, a bet takes place that has nothing to do with money, and in this case, that has made all the difference.

Mike and Ashley are two college students who have jumped on the tickle torture bandwagon. They read some of my tickle torture stories and the comments that followed, and Ashley decided that she wanted to “get” Mike when he could not defend himself. She solicited some assistance from her girlfriends, and one day, when Mike was taking a nap on her couch, he awoke to find that he was tied down, and his socks were being removed. He tried to fight the girls off, but they had him tied down tight. Thus began a series of bets to see who had to allow themselves to be tickle tortured. The ultimate winner was to win the torture session of a lifetime when the loser was tied down for the duration of the game.

The bet started out simple enough…between just the two of them, but it seems that Mike has made some “tickle enemies” over the years. That’s what happens when you have been the torturer to beat all torturers. Mike’s friends, cousins, parents, and even aunts and uncles wanted in on the fun. In the end, it was decided that there was to be one loser, and many winners. The tickle ideas began to run wild. Things like using a ball point pen to record the score changes on the bottoms of the loser’s feet, with a mandatory “scrubbing” of the feet to remove the old score changes…feathers between the toes, hair brushes, and a multitude of other tickle tools to round out the fun.

Unfortunately for Mike, he made so real poor team picks when it came to each week’s winning team picks. He lost to everyone, including nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, his parents, and all the girls. His goose was cooked…so to speak. When the Super Bowl rolled around, lots of plans had been made for our loser. Leading up to the torture session were plenty of pictures of stocking feet that would “not” be tickled in the days events. Everyone was in on this…and nobody was missing this Super Bowl Party.

On that fateful day, Mike had to allow himself to be restrained. The group had decided to wrap him up like a burrito so that he couldn’t move. The torture devises were put on display for Mike to get a good look at. He had thought to try keeping his socks on to protect his feet as much as possible, but you can’t keep your socks on when you are tied up like a burrito. You have no say. Of course, Mike was to be allowed breaks, but then his dad came up with the idea of making him win a bet in order to get his break. Things were not looking good for the guy who hadn’t won a week’s bets all season, and to top it off, Mike comes from a fun-loving tickle family. He was doomed. Everyone had their own ideas of the torture they would mete out…and since Mike was in his cocoon in the middle of the room, it was open season. There was even a finale that he had no idea was coming.

If you watched the Super Bowl, you have a good idea just how many score changes there were, and remember that the score changed for the touchdown, and for the conversion point. Mike said there were something like 12 score changes…and he would know. Mike had tortured all these people, and now it was payback time. Mike said that the worst part was the scrubbing off of the old score for the changes. That tickled worse than anything else. Mike told me that his feet were still feeling the tickle days later. He had never laughed so hard in his life. In fact he’s still recovering. He will never live this down. And as to the finale, well…it seems that at one time, Mike decided to prank his cousin by smashing a pie in her face. She has been waiting to just the right time to get even for that one, and so there was a cream pie just for the occasion. I wish I could have seen that one. Unfortunately, everyone was having so much fun, that the pictures were few, and far between. Nevertheless, the Super Bowl Tickle Torture was a grand success.

Not everyone can start their new age on the same day as the new year, but my mom, Collene Spencer always could, because she was a New Years Baby. Growing up, it was always normal for our family to have a New Year’s Eve Party. Our dad, Al Spencer was a romantic…at least when it came to Mom. He loved doing things for her, and never really needed any help…not even from his girls, but he did let us help.

While being a New Year’s Baby was Mom’s first claim to fame, it was not the thing most people would remember her for. I think that when asked, most people who knew my mom would have to comment on her never-ending love of God. Not only did she love God, but she wanted to share him with anyone who would listen. Mom wanted every person she knew to be in Heaven when they died. She couldn’t bear the thought that the people she knew and loved would spend eternity in Hell. Of course, not everyone understood Mom’s drive, especially her own girls. We all wanted her not to be so “pushy” when it came to spreading the Gospel. Talking to many people after her passing, we can now see that Mom made an impact. She really did. We were the ones who had no idea what we were doing, at least not when it came to spreading the Gospel to people who were genuinely searching for a way to fill the hole in their lives. Mom has an eye for that, where most people don’t.

Mom was always a great mother, who really wanted nothing more than to be a stay at home mom, but when needs arose, she would never leave her precious “Al” to carry that extra load alone. Dad sometimes worked long hours to make ends meet, and when we were young girls, daycare would have cost a lot of money. Then when we were old enough, Mom went to work at Kmart. Mom could run circles around anyone at the store. We would walk over to take breaks with Mom, and we couldn’t keep up with her either. Mom was an amazing woman who always live her life being true to herself, her family, and most of all to her God. Today would have been Mom’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. Have an amazing day with all the family who are there, and with Jesus!! We love and miss you every day!!

When disaster strikes, and homes are in ruin, people try to come together to help return a sense of normalcy to the people affected by the disaster. Disasters happen quickly, and the devastation is often heavy. It is a difficult thing to help people heal. While one disaster or event is often the same as another in terms of damage, something we somehow don’t connect to that same kind of devastation, is war. I’m not sure why, but when I think of war,I picture a battle held in the middle of a vast desert, with no civilization in sight. of course, when I really think about it, I now that is not reality, but rather my mind trying to fit war into a box of civility. In reality, there is nothing civil about war. Gun shots, bombs, and land mines aren’t picky about who they hit. Soldier or civilian…all are fair game in a war. And towns…well, there is often little to nothing left after a bomb hits.

During World War II, London was often the targets of the German Luftwaffe, and the bombs they dropped, devastated many parts of London. From September 7, 1940, London was systematically bombed by the Luftwaffe for 56 out of the following 57 days and nights, in what was called “The Blitz.” Most notable was a large daylight attack against London on September 15th. Of course, these weren’t the only bombings, and the people of London didn’t know when or if it was safe to be out of the bomb shelters. Life in London had taken on eerie gloom,as people continued to seek refuge in the bomb shelters, because that was the only safe place to be. The biggest problem was that the bomb shelters were also gloomy, boring, and generally depressing. The children probably suffered the most, because kids don’t really understand all this hatred and killing. Their world had been turned upside down…and they didn’t know why.

By the end of 1940, 24,000 civilians had been killed in the Blitz and hundreds of thousands made homeless. In November, German bombers had obliterated Coventry city center and there had been particularly fierce raids on Manchester and Liverpool in the days leading up to Christmas. The public were now mourning the loss of their loved ones on the home front and in combat, as well as praying for the 41,000 British soldiers captured on the continent, but it was the children, in my mind, who suffered the most. Their childlike innocence was completely destroyed, along with their homes. Their parents, and other adults made the decision to change their little world, even if it was only for a short time. They didn’t have much, but they put together whatever they could to lift the spirits of these scared children. Christmas parties were held for the children and the shelter walls were decorated with paper chains and decorations, while amateur singing nights, discussion groups, and sewing circles were held regularly.

In order to avoid the bombs, many families spent some of the holidays in air-raid shelters and other places of refuge. They decked out their temporary homes with makeshift decorations…and very short Christmas trees because of the height of the shelters. Even if gas or electricity was available, Christmas dinner would have still been an amazing feat, because turkey was so expensive. Most people made do with other cuts of meat, which were still expensive. A family of four’s weekly meat ration probably wouldn’t even cover the cost of a small chicken. One alternative was home-raised chickens or rabbits, much to the shock of young children who often regarded them as pets. Home-grown vegetables and chutneys would have also made the table. Rations were scrimped and saved including ham, bacon, butter, suet, and margarine. The tea and sugar rations were increased in the week before Christmas. Very little fruit was imported and nuts were very costly. Consequently, cooks had to improvise Christmas cakes and puddings devoid of dried fruit and marzipan, using instead sponge or other unlikely ingredients. Alcohol was available but, horribly expensive. And there would be no after-dinner French cheeses or brandy due to the German occupation. It was a poor Christmas party in comparison to those in the past, but it served to remind all the people that Christmas is more about the blessings in life, than it is about the things we are given.

For my grandnephew, Xander Spethman, there is a specific tradition that goes along with his birthday every year. He gathers his friends together for a party. Now, I know that you are thinking, “What’s different about that?” Well, the difference is that they build a fire in his parents fire pit, and the boys burn their schoolwork from the year. Having a birthday so close to the end of the school year, it works out really well to have a school work burning party. This year will be slightly different, in that he will be burning the last year of his middle school career. As a boy, I don’t suppose that fact stirs up the emotions, like it does for his mom, but maybe it brings a bit of sadness that a certain time in his life has come to a close. Nevertheless, this has been a year of lasts. He has played his last middle school football game, and his last middle school basketball game. There will be a last time in the old school, and the last time (for awhile anyway) that he will be in school with his brother, Zack.

Of course, Xander is still very close with his family. He and his dad, Steve are best friends, and he is always so sweet to his mom, Jenny. He and his brothers, Zack and Isaac are also good friends, and his little sister, Aleesia is his little princess. His parents and siblings come to any and all his activities possible. It is a family tradition. Always be supportive of each other. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he and his brothers don’t fight, or that his sister never gets on his nerves, but Xander takes being the oldest very seriously. He works hard to be a leader and a good role model. And he does a good job of it too. His younger siblings look up to their brother and view him with a sense of pride. He shows them the right way to do things. Kids look up to their older siblings, and it is very important to make sure they are getting the right message from their older sibling, or they can end up in a lot of trouble down the road.

While this year is a year of lasts for Xander, it is also a year of firsts. This will be Xander’s first year of high school, Its a major change in a student’s life. Before long graduation will be right around the corner. This year has found Xander with a girlfriend, and to my knowledge, that is his first. He has signed up for ROTC, and I know he will do well with that, specially in the area of shooting accuracy, since Xander has been trained to be a great shot by his parents. Probably the biggest new thing in Xander’s life, however, will e the fact that since he is now 15 years old, he will be getting his driver’s permit, so he can learn to drive. of course, his parents are excited to him to learn to drive, but they will also need to realize that they will most likely be relegated to the passenger side of the car…at least when Xander is in the car, because as we all know, 15 year olds need to drive!! There are a lot of changes coming his way, and we are so excited to see where life takes him next. Today is Xander’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Sean Mortensen is a mechanic for Anadarko, by trade. Since I have been married to a mechanic for 42 years, I can tell you that they work very hard. Being a mechanic, of any kind, is a hard job, and from what I’ve seen, the mechanic is usually the only person taking care of the vehicle or equipment. The operator, on the other hand, is usually pretty hard on the vehicle or equipment…after all, it isn’t theirs, so what difference does it make…right. That’s what the mechanic deals with every day. By the time they get home, they often feel exhausted.

That’s where Sean differs from a lot of other mechanics…at least on the weekends. You see, Sean’s motto is work hard…play hard. When the weekend rolls around, it’s time to cut loose, and party at the lake with friends. Sean, and my niece, Amanda have lots of great friends, all of whom enjoy the lake and summer fun. And when you think about it, why do we work anyway? It isn’t because we all love working, it’s because we want to be able go out and do the things we like to do in life…like play at the lake. Of course, the lake is only Sean and Amanda’s summer playground. In the winter, they are out on the snowmobiles, getting as deep as they can in a snowdrift. The colder weather doesn’t slow down their fun on bit. Many people tend to hibernate in the winter, longing for the summer months, but not Sean and Amanda. They just change playgrounds, and the fun continues.

I suppose it sounds like all Sean and Amanda do is party, and that might be something they really enjoy, but they are also very responsible people. They work, own their own home, and they have raised a beautiful 13 year old daughter. Adulting is a fact of life they take very seriously too. People depend on them and the fact that they will do their jobs. If no one worked, how would anything ever be accomplished. There are people who don’t want to be a part of a working community, but would rather that the government take care of them, and I am proud to say that Sean and Amanda are not a part of the “hand out” community. The things they have, they have earned. There is a certain amount a pride that can be taken away from that. They work hard, and they play hard, because they have earned it. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Mom aYoung Mom and DadNew Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day have always held a special place of significance in my family, because my mother, Collene Spencer was born on New Year’s Day. We always held a New Year’s Eve party, and I guess as kids, we thought that everyone did that, but it wasn’t so. I know lots of people have a party on New Year’s Eve, but not really as many as I had always thought. Most people just go out to a bar, and celebrate with a large group of people, but that would never have been the same thing in our family. Now that Mom is in Heaven, we still have the party, and as many of us as can, come to it. We do it in honor of Mom, because even though she is in Heaven…it’s still her special day. The traditional beating the pans…which my mom came up with, because we didn’t have noisemakers years ago, just doesn’t feel the same, however. That was always a favorite part for Mom. Once we rang the new year in right, we all go around to each other and wish each other a Happy New Year…and for Mom, a happy birthday. Then we all sang happy birthday to her. Of course, this wasn’t her birthday party…that would come on New Year’s Day. It was a two day celebration in Mom’s honor. Some things just cannot stay the same after the passing of a loved one, and I suppose this is one of them. We can tall Mom happy birthday, but not in person.

Sometimes, I think God places people in our lives for a specific moment and a specific reason. As my husband, Bob and I were leaving Denny’s this morning, after having breakfast, I glanced at a couple sitting in a booth we passed on our way out. At first glance, the woman looked a lot like my mother when she was young…enough so, in fact, that I had to do a double take. Yes, there were similarities, but she didn’t really look enough like Mom to mistake her for my mom after a good look, but I walked out of the restaurant smiling anyway, because it seemed such a sweet gift from God. It was like seeing my mom on her birthday! Of course, I know it wasn’t her, nor did the woman look totally like her, but rather it just seemed like a reminder that she is with God, and that she is very happy. Mom had been on my mind much more than usual for the past several days…probably because of her birthday. Nevertheless, that woman, in that place, for that moment, made me smile, because just for a second, at a quick glance, she reminded me of my mom.

As with my dad, I somehow never expected to live one day on this earth without my mom here on Earth. We were always such a close family, and I never expected that to change, and in reality, I suppose it hasn’t. The Final New Years Dance - Jan 1, 200711 Mom and her girlsRather, we just have to wait to see our parents again. That is the sad part about getting on with life after your parents have gone to Heaven. You have to take the reigns, and lead your family in the way they should go, just like your parents did, but often you still feel like that little daughter would love to ask your parents’ advise about life again. There is a little joke on Facebook about wishing you were a kid again. Basically, I want my mommy and daddy. I’m tired of adulting.” Today would have been my mom’s 81st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much.

img_6049Last night my sisters and I, along with our families, got together for our 2nd annual Spencer Family Christmas Party. Our family made a commitment long ago, to stay close as a family. Family is so important, and all too often, people lose touch, because they don’t realize the importance of family, or they think there will always be time later. It is never a good idea to put off family until later. I’m thankful that my mom’s parents, George and Hattie Byer asked their kids to stay close, inspiring the annual picnic and Christmas parties to keep us all close, because it was those events, that gave us the inspiration to do the same. Then, our sister, Allyn Hadlock, and her husband Chris decided to host the annual party at their house. What a wonderful blessing that has been for all of us. This year was a smaller crowd, as there were several family members who will be spending Christmas in various locations across the United States, but I know they were there in img_6043spirit. Of course we missed each one of them, but we understand. I hope that maybe one day, we will be able to have a party with all of us together again.

The one thing that I have noticed about each of the two parties we have had since our parents left us, is that when we are having the party, it’s like Mom and Dad are there with us. Part of the reason is because of the fact that the conversation always turns to them, and to Christmastimes of the past. The memories of special gifts given and received, moments of surprise, and comical moments too, flood the room…along with the laughter as we reminisce about the Christmases of our lifetimes. Still, it always leaves us with an almost bittersweet feeling. Sweetness, because we have been blessed with such great parents, and that we are making the proud, but bitter, because they aren’t here with us. Nevertheless, we know that we will all be together again.img_6026

We really have been blessed with wonderful sisters, and all of the other family members. The family has grown exponentially. Like my mom’s family, we are related to about half of the town. That part in itself is an amazing and wonderful thing. We all feel very blessed by all of the nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the wonderful additions that have joined us by marriage. This time of year, we start to think more and more about family, and while I miss my parents more that I could ever say, I am thankful for my sisters, everyday, because sisters really are forever friends.

14915726_10207674439914949_2327968944635573688_n1493159_10202953481025562_5006047457295047592_nHalloween started out as All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints’ Eve. Originally, it was to be a time dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. These days, very few churches still practice it in that way, if at all. Yet, many of the Celtic traditions from Ireland that were there before Christianity came to the area, are still observed. Activities include trick-or-treating, attending Halloween costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into Jack O’Lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. Since I’m totally not a fan of horror movies, and thankfully, my husband, Bob agrees with me on that, we avoid the horror movies at all costs, and are pretty happy when Halloween is over, because then there aren’t so many horror movies on television. Nurse Corrie

Over the years, the costumes worn by kids and adults alike have changed. Very few people want the traditional costumes anymore. Now it’s things like superheroes, cartoon characters, firefighters, or even period costumes, like Vikings or pirates. These days, anything goes. If it interests you, you can make it a costume. I’ve even seen people dress their little ones up as a Lego block, or a car, complete with the body of the car attached to the child’s waist. The creativity is amazing, and I wish I had thought of some of those things when my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were little, because it would have been so cute. I wasn’t very inventive, so the girls were kind of the normal things, but my girls got more creative than I did with their kids…or maybe the costumes just got better.

With the adults getting in on the action, you will see more parties and even people dressing up at work. Some scan0012halloween-at-rice-insuranceoffices even have contests to see who has the best costume. It’s all in the fun of the day, and lots of people spend quite a bit of time getting ready for the activities. My niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve always have a party. It is something our whole family looks forward to. Unfortunately, this year, Bob and I will have to miss out on the fun, because we have to bowl. We are disappointed, of course, but there is always next year. Happy Halloween everyone!!

anchor-barWe’ve all eaten them…unless you are allergic to chicken that is. Hot wings. They grace just about every Super Bowl party food table, or any other football gathering for that matter, but where did the idea come from? Well, they have been around longer than I thought they had. I think that many people used the chicken wings for soup stock, and some restaurants even threw it away. Now my husband likes the wings, but much of the time, I find them a waste of time, unless they are in the form of hot wings. I think a lot of people would agree with my point of view.

Accounts of the invention of hot wings, or Buffalo Wings as they are often called, vary, but apparently the one that has been most accepted is that they were invented by Teressa Bellissimo, who along with her husband Frank, owned the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. When the Bellissmo’s son, Dominic made a surprise visit from college with several friends, Teressa needed a fast and easy snack to present to all of her guests. It was then that she came up with the idea of deep frying chicken wings and tossing them in cayenne hot sauce. Apparently, the wings were a big hit. However, when a long article was written about the Anchor Bar, no mention was made of the Buffalo Wings.

buffalo-wings Another man, John Young also claims to have made the first Buffalo Wings covered in a special Mambo Sauce in his Buffalo restaurant in the 1960s. Young’s wings were breaded, unlike the hot wings of today. Young registered his restaurant as John Young’s Wings ‘n Things, at the county courthouse in Buffalo before leaving the area in 1970. The Bellissimo family claims that the Young Buffalo Wings used the same sauce as the Bellissimo Buffalo Wings. I suppose it really doesn’t matter who invented them, or what sauce is used, especially since there are multiple flavors now. The main thing is that pretty much everyone has had and loves Buffalo Wings. In fact, they have become a party mainstay since the 1960s.

Tiny Mom 2With our mom, Collene Byer Spencer spending her birthday in Heaven this year, my sisters, our families, and I have had much time to reflect on the years of our lives, our loving parents, and sadly the loss of our parents. These past nine years have held more twinges of sadness and loss that we ever expected or wanted to feel. We know where our parents are, of course, and that makes the pain of their loss easier to bear, but there is still an emptiness that fills our hearts and lives, because they are not with us here on Earth anymore. Last night’s New Years Eve party went pretty much as we expected it to go. We were able to push back our feelings pretty well, until midnight, when our traditional Happy New Year hugs took place, and our Happy Birthday Mom song didn’t, because it couldn’t. We could barely talk with the lump in our throats, much less sing Happy Birthday, when she wasn’t there. Nevertheless, she was in our hearts and our thoughts, as was our dad, Allen Spencer. They will live there always, until we see them again.

Since Mom’s passing, we have been going through their things, and especially pictures. We have been overjoyed by some of the old pictures that had never been developed. I especially found the ones of Mom’s birthday in 1964, when our youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock was almost one year old, to be an amazing find. 11 Mom and her girlsThere we were, all Mom’s daughters, gathered around her, as she held her birthday cake. Dad always treated her like a queen, and us as his little princesses. For Mom, that meant things like a two day party for her birthday, simply because it fell on New Years Day. At our house, New Years Day was as big a celebration as New Years Eve was…because Dad’s queen was born that day, and it was just icing on the cake that it was also a national holiday.

Those birthdays, when we were children, were most likely the most precious ones for our parents, because we didn’t work yet, had no boyfriends, and no place else we had to be. They were family days, to be cherished and remembered always. Now that they both live in Heaven, those cherished pictures, and the memories they provide, are even more precious than they were when we were little. It’s a funny thing, time. What you took for granted as children, now stands out as some of the best days of your life. I know that for my sisters and me, nothing could have been sweeter than just one more New Years Eve party with our parents, and of course, that statement would continue to dominate our thoughts for the rest of our lives, because we would love to have just one more moment with our parents, and one more, and one more. It is never enough, nor could it ever be. That is what makes us so thankful for the eternity to come, when we will all be together again, forever and ever, in Heaven, where sadness does not exist and every face wears a smile.
10 Mom birthday
The echoes of New Years Eve parties past, birthday parties past, and…just lives now past, will always linger in our thoughts and hearts. We can’t go back to those times, except in our own memory files, and I suppose that is what makes all these pictures so precious. They are the memories of the wonderful life our parents gave us, and of the things we are grateful for as this new year, the first with no parents on Earth begins. The legacy of all they gave us will always be with us, as will their memories. Today would have been Mom’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom!! I know this day, like all others in Heaven will be filled with wonder, joy, and love beyond our wildest imaginations. We love and miss you very much!!

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