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scan0052 (2)It’s strange that you can look at pictures of people in your family’s history, and somewhere in the back of your mind, you know the names connect, but somehow you don’t connect the people to their parents. While looking through some of the old family pictures from my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg’s family, I found pictures of her as a little girl, with two other children, a boy and a girl, who I found out were Richard and Mary Ann Batey. The Batey kids were my mother-in-law’s cousins, and I knew that, but somehow I didn’t connect them with their mother, Bernice Noyes Batey, who I met as an older woman. Then again, I have never met the Batey siblings at all, so maybe that is why they didn’t really connect in my mind. Bernice Batey was my mother-in-law’s mother, Nettie Noyes Knox’s sister, and I did meet her a couple of times. She was a very nice lady, and very sweet, but when you don’t meet the kids at the same time, it can be hard to make the connection. Somehow, the kids end up slipping into that obscure area of almost unknown relatives…until you think about those relationships for a few minutes.

That is exactly what happened with my mother-in-law’s cousins. For a time, I didn’t know those kids were even related at all, until my sisters-in-law told me they were. Then, I just didn’t connect their last name to anyone in particular. Finally, I was looking at a picture of Bob’s grandma, Nettie Knox, with her sister, Bernice Noyes Beaty…who I had always known as Bernice Beaty, it connected. Wow!! These kids were Berniece’s kids. Ok, sometimes I can be a little slow to connect these relationships, but now it became clear just exactly where they fit in.

Family connections are complicated, and even the best genealogy expert could have problems making the connections. Although, maybe if you weren’t scan0126involved as a family member, you would be able to see the relationships clearly. Maybe, you wouldn’t have any pre-conceived idea of where people fit into a family line, if you weren’t somehow emotionally involved with the family.

I definitely feel a little bit closer to the Noyes side of the family now that I have figured out the connections. I remember meeting Bernice, and thinking that she was such a sweet lady, but then she was Bob’s grandmother’s sister, so being sweet would be right in line with the way the whole family was. I do wish I had known the kids who were such good friends, as well as cousins of my mother-in-law. I’m sure I would have liked them very much too.

Dad, Alena, Allyn, & CarylDadWhen my daughter, Corrie Petersen told me that her husband, Kevin and son, Josh weren’t feeling very well yesterday, I instinctively told her to tell them that they weren’t sick…it was just the meanness coming out. It’s a funny little saying my dad came up with to lighten the mood when we weren’t feeling well.  It’s funny that even when we weren’t feeling well, that comment never failed to make us giggle…along with rolling our eyes, and the whole, normal for kids comment…”Da-a-a-a-d!!” Then, Dad would always grin and try to look innocent, while saying something like, “Wha-a-a-t?” It was just the kind of comment my dad would make. Always act like you are totally innocent in the whole thing, right.

He was always coming up with these strange comments. I remember coming in from playing, crying because I had hurt myself in some minor way. If I stubbed my right big toe, Dad would offer to stomp on my left big toe, because it would make me forget about the pain in my right big toe. It was silliness that added a light tone to the drama that always seems to go along with a house full of girls. Dad was very outnumbered in our house, because with five daughters, he was the only male in the family. I suppose that it’s possible that his silliness was, in reality, a self defense mechanism. Imagine being the only man in a house full of women, five of whom could go from playing happily to squabbling in a matter of minutes.

Sometimes it was the things that people would never expect that we, and later the grandchildren and great grandchildren really liked…oddly. Things like the Whisker Rub, which is just what it sounds like. Dad would grab us and rub his end of the day whiskers across our face. I’m sure there are people out there who would cringe at that, and believe me when I say that Dad had a full face of whickers, but once he was done, we would invariably say, “Do it again, Daddy!!” It was a great game, and he never rubbed hard enough to make it hurt. It was just another way to lighten things up around our house, even if everyone was in a great mood already.

Dad always found creative ways of making us laugh, and maybe that was the reason that we hated it when he worked out of town for a time. His laugh was contagious, and he never really grew up, so playing often included Dad in some way. The grandchildren and great grandchildren can attest to that, because of the game where he sat right by the door of the kitchen, and the kids ran from kitchen to living room and back trying to get by him before he could swat them. They almost never succeeded, but they had a great time playing the Dad and ToniDad and Ryan sleepinggame, and Dad just laughed and laughed.

I love those great old memories. And I think it’s awesome that some totally unrelated event, like someone not feeling well, can trigger those precious memories from my childhood days. My only regret now is that we didn’t have the ability, forethought, and accessibility of the camera phone, to take pictures of those silly moments to add to the precious memories that we can only see in now our memory files. Those really were the good old days, and I miss them a lot.

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!!

IMG_6109For most children, their first friends are their siblings or cousins. Their families get together, so the kids get to see each other often. The days flow from one to another, and for a time, everyone expects that nothing will change. I suppose that is why change always hits us so hard. We have convinced ourselves that it will never happen. Then comes the day when one of those first friends moves away. For some people it doesn’t happen until a sibling moves out of the house for the first time, but for others, as was the case for my sister, Cheryl Spencer Masterson and our cousin, Pam Spencer Wendling, it can come at a very young age, and it can feel quite devastating, for everyone involved.

So often, the two friends only hear one side of how the two of them are feeling. I know that my sister missed Pam a lot. I don’t recall my own feelings concerning the matter, but then I was only two and a half, so that isn’t surprising. In reality, it was Cheryl and Pam who played together every day, and who were so close. They IMG_6115did everything together. It didn’t matter if the day was warm or cold. They were outside playing in the snow or taking care of their baby dolls in the warm sun. It was so cute.

Recently, on our visit to Wisconsin, Pam was telling us about a baby album she had with lots of those early childhood pictures in it. They included Pam and Cheryl, and me too, but there were several of the two little friends going about their daily play. It was so obvious that these two cousins loved each other very much. Our two families lived just across the yard from each other, and since the alley ran along the side of the house, the two yards shared a common fence. In those days, you could let your kids go outside to play with a lot less supervision and worry, so Cheryl and Pam were outside playing together all the time. It was the perfect setup…until all that changed.

In November of 1958, our family moved from Superior, Wisconsin back to my mom’s hometown of Casper, Wyoming. As I said, I was really too little to understand how much Cheryl missed Pam, and until this trip, we IMG_6119hadn’t heard just how much Pam missed Cheryl. Apparently, Pam must have asked her mom why she couldn’t go play with Cheryl, and was told that the family had moved to Wyoming. I’m not really sure where the discussion about trees came into the whole thing, but somehow Pam associated the move with trees. That is odd, because I would have to say that there are a lot more trees in Wisconsin than in Wyoming, but Pam didn’t understand that. She just knew that the move made her sad, and there had to be a reason…in her mind anyway. When that subject came up, Pam cried and said, “Cheryl’s Wyoming has trees!!” Maybe she thought that was why we moved, or maybe she just thought that everything must be better in Wyoming, but whatever the reason, she knew in her heart that Cheryl’s Wyoming had trees.

Baby Shower HelperFrom the time he was just a little boy, my nephew, JD Parmely loved little kids. He got so excited whenever he knew he was getting a new cousin. He wanted to be involved in everything, from the baby shower, to holding the baby, to playing with the kids as they grew. Sometimes, it’s a big help to have JD take over the entertainment of all the little kids…at least until they start making too much noise or rough housing too much. I suppose that is because JD is, in reality, a big kid himself. In a lot of ways, I think he has decided that growing up is overrated, and sometimes I have to agree with him. Plus, he has lots of uncles who have never really grown up either, so he is in good company in that department. I promise you, that his Uncle Bob has never really grown up either…not one bit, in fact.

One of the coolest things to happen in JD’s recent life is the family addition of his niece, Reagan Parmely, who is his brother, Eric and his wife, Ashley’s daughter. He and Reagan get along famously, because both of them like to play. JD has the energy to chase Reagan wherever she decides to go, and for her, that is lots of fun. And now that Reagan is getting a new sister or brother in September, JD will soon have a new little one to play with. At this point, JD really has no desire to get married and have kids of his own, but he is having a great time with his cousins and niece. I guess it pays to be a kid at heart, because all the kids want to hang out with you…and that is exactly what has happened to JD. My grandchildren felt the same way when they were little. JD was the fun guy at all the family gatherings.

Last year, JD bought his first house. It had belonged to his grandparents, and in my opinion, Helping Reagan with her cupcakethe house had felt so lonely. I was so glad that he bought the house, because a home should be lived in, not sitting empty. When JD moved in, there was activity there again. I can’t say if the house feels any less lonely, because those walls can’t talk to me, but I am pretty sure the garage has never felt better. JD loves to work on his multiple vehicles, and therefore, spends hours in the garage…even into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes. JD would have to be called a Vehicle Fanatic, because his must own twelve or fourteen of them. It’s just what he does. And that’s ok. If he enjoys it, he should do it. It’s what makes JD…well, JD!! Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day. Don’t work too hard on your cars, and try to get some sleep!! We love you!!

Uncle Wayne ByerWhen my Uncle Wayne Byer was a little boy, it was unheard of for boys to wear shorts…or at least that was the opinion of Uncle Wayne, his brother, my Uncle Larry, and the boys they hung out with. They weren’t against going shirtless in the summer as a way of beating the heat though. Uncle Larry didn’t go shirtless as often as Uncle Wayne did though, because being a blond, he sunburned much easier than Uncle Wayne did. Uncle Wayne, on the other hand, tanned so deeply in the summertime that people often asked him if he was an Indian.

Summers were spent playing outside for most of the day, much of that time in the middle of the street. One woman in particular got very annoyed at the kids as they always seemed to be in the street when she wanted to drive down it. She proceeded to yell at them to “get out of the street and stay out of it.” Like most kids, that didn’t influence them much. They nonchalantly stepped slowly out of the way and let her pass, and then promptly went right back to playing in the street. I have to think they played out in the street at the exact time she had to leave for work, just so they could irritate her…typical of kids, and the mischievous brothers and their friends really enjoyed irritating her.

Uncle Wayne also loved playing Annie-Annie Over, which was a game where one team threw a ball over the house, calling out Annie-Annie Over. That was the only warning the other team got. If they caught the ball, they could sneak around the house and try to tag someone on the opposing team with the ball, before that team could run around to the other side of the house, thereby claiming that side as theirs now. If they tagged someone, that person was now on their team. If the ball didn’t go over, the throwing team called out Pigtail. That way, they got another chance to throw. When one whole team ends up on the opposing team’s side, the game is over, and the winning team is the one with team members. The summer days were filled with this and many other games, and made for great memories.

Uncle Wayne and the rest of the boys he hung out with always seemed to be in some mischief and before long the police were called. No they weren’t in serious trouble, but in those days, the police would bring them in and call their parents. For most kids, this straightened them out pretty quickly, because calling their parents usually meant a good whoopin’ and that Wayne Doyle Byersolved the problem, but these boys ended up at the police station more than once. Back then, there was a truck that drove around delivering pop to people who wanted to buy it. It was similar to the ice cream truck of today, or maybe the Swann’s truck. One time, when the driver was delivering pop to a house, and the boys decided to relieve him of a couple of six packs each. The delivery driver gave chase, and since the boys were a little bit hampered by 2 six packs of pop each, they couldn’t get away. The next stop was the police station, and a call to my grandpa. They might have been scared, but their dad was a pretty softhearted man, so maybe not. Today is Uncle Wayne’s birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Kids & CowsKids have always had a fascination with animals. Any animal will do, but pets don’t seem to fall into the same category as other animals. I suppose that the reason for that is that after a little bit of time with a pet, they become normal everyday parts of the family. It doesn’t mean the child doesn’t love the pet, because they do, but the pet is an animal they see everyday, often in the house, so it’s nothing special. Farm animals, on the other hand are something different. Here is an animal that isn’t a domesticated pet, and yet it isn’t afraid of people either. They understand that they need people to bring them their food and water, and they also understand that people aren’t usually scary. Yes, the animal could hurt a child, especially if it stepped on the child, but for the most part the animal is as curious about the child as the child is about the animal.

As small children, my dad and his siblings lived on a farm, so being around farm animals was a part of life. Still, that did not stop the curiosity about those animals from forming in their minds. When they went out to play, a part of their time outside always seemed to be spent visiting the other residents of their home. They would trek out to the haystacks where the cows would be feeding, and watch those strong, yet gentle animals eat, while the cows watched these tiny versions of the people who cared for them watching them. Funny how we all teach our kids not to stare, but when put in a situation like this, all that rudeness doesn’t seem to matter. Both sides are staring anyway, and since it isn’t a person…it just doesn’t matter. I suppose in many ways the whole situation was a lot like the petting zoos that most city children have been to as their only real interaction with farm animals.

When my girls were little, we too had a little place out in the country, and we raised a cow now and them. The girls were quite curious and really wanted to help with our cow. I had to be careful what they helped with, because when it came to grain…our cows always became pigs, and a tiny little girl could get trampled in the cows effort to get to what the cows considered candy. Most of the time the cows were a gentle as they could be, but the grain had to be given in a certain way, and very quickly, because they couldn’t wait to get to it. One cow we had named Rosie, due to her red color, was so excited that she was trying to follow me and still scratch her belly too. The end result was one good, but unintended kick to the back of my knee. It left a knot that stayed with me for the better part of 6 months. It was a good thing for Rosie that I liked her, and it wasn’t butchering time, or she would have been on our table in a matter of days.

Hay was always a very different matter. Little kids could be around cows eating hay, and there Allen, Ruth, & Bill (2)was not a dangerous rush to the food. I suppose that was the vegetables of the whole deal, and we all know how kids, which is what cows are a lot like when it comes to food, are with vegetables. The girls loved to help put the hay in the feeding troths for the cows, and then sit and watch them eat. I suppose it was an interesting sight. If you have never watched a cow eat, you might not know it, but they really are strange when they eat. I suppose that is why Aunt Ruth, Uncle Bill, and my dad were just standing there, out by the haystack when they could have been playing in the snow, just watching the cows eat.

SistersFew relationships are like that of two little sisters. They love each other from the moment the youngest arrives…well most of the time. That first year of the younger sister’s life, will determine if she is a pain in the neck, or cool enough to take what her big sister can dish out. It will also determine just how much she is willing to put up with, before she takes matters into her own hands. It is a learning process for both sisters. Most generally, sisters will end up being friends for life, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few bumps in the road. My own sisters and I are good friends, but that doesn’t mean that the years we spent sharing our childhood home were smooth as silk, because they weren’t. We are five different people with five different personalities, and that is bound to cause clashes every now and then.

The same is the case for my sisters-in-law, Jennifer and Brenda. Jennifer had been the baby of the family for two years when Brenda came along. With three older siblings bossing her around with all their no no’s, Jennifer was very excited to have a younger sister, who wouldn’t be the boss of her. Maybe they could even be best friends. And, things were going along well…most of the time. Jennifer loved her little sister very much. It was almost like having a real life doll when she was a baby, and then later, she had a friend who liked to play the same games she did. It was much better than having a little brother, in her mind, because boys just want to play dumb cars, and not dolls. Jennifer hugged Brenda often, and life was good.

Nevertheless, Brenda was her own person too, and she didn’t always want to do things Jennifer’s way. They have two very different personalities, and what one finds funny the other might not. And, as with most little girls, they can both get annoyed when their friend Frenemiesstarts feeling too much like a frenemy. No one likes being laughed at, even if that isn’t really what was happening. Sometimes it might have been just a matter of something striking Brenda funny, and Jennifer didn’t agree. That was all it took. Jennifer was…less than amused with this little sister…who she loved very much. That didn’t excuse Brenda’s laughter about something that Jennifer didn’t think was funny. With that one little giggle came a totally new situation. They were now definitely frenemies, and Jennifer was sure that things would never be the same again. Thankfully, the whole situation was a fleeting moment in their childhood years, and they would go on to be friends again…until the next little clash, that is.

Jacob's tentJacob, the son of my cousin, Denise DeVogel, who I recently met on Facebook, got busy the other day and in his play, he reminded many of the rest of us in the family about the fun things many of us did as kids. Jacob pushed the couch and chair in his mom’s living room together, covered them with a blanket, and…presto, he had a private little tent to camp out in. He has spent the last couple of days having a great time in that little tent. And his mom, Denise has had such a good time watching him have such a good time.

Looking at the picture she posted on Facebook, took me back to my own childhood, and the many tents my sisters and I made. We had such good times playing in the little shelter that the tent provided. Not that we needed shelter, but more a secret little place to hold our meetings, play games, have snacks, and pretend to go to sleep…not that any sleeping happened, unless we planned to camp out for the night like it seems was Jacob’s plan to do. The things that went on in those tents, were such a big deal when we were kids, and I suppose that everyone’s games were a little different, but we all thought that our little club meetings were a total mystery to our parents, not ever realizing that our parents were little kids once too, and they probably played many of the same games you did.

And it wasn’t just me who took a trip down memory lane while looking at the pictures of Jacob Home Sweet Homein his tent, because Denise’s friend, Karen commented, “How fun!! I remember doing that!!” Her words were exactly the ones that would have come out of my mouth, had she not beat me to it. It’s pictures like these that remind you of all the good things that define childhood. It’s the freedom to be creative, inventive, and yet silly, all rolled into one little person, that makes the whole scene so fun to watch. It makes me want to be a kid again…well, maybe not, but I could be a kid again for a day or maybe a week, so I could build a tent in the living room, and hold the little club meetings, or read a book, or camp out, and then I could step back into reality again, and take with me the little vacation memories I had in the tent in the living room. Thanks for the memories Jacob!!

Horsing AroundNo matter how hard a worker someone is, there are simply times when you have to cut loose and horse around a bit. It breaks up the monotony of life. Does it look goofy to have a couple of grown men acting so silly…yes, but that still doesn’t mean that they won’t do it. The old saying, “all work and no play makes John a very dull boy” really does apply. Without a little humor in life, not only would we be dull, but life would be dull and boring. I like to think that most people choose to be happy, and maybe that is why they do goofy things. I know that isn’t the case for everybody, but most people seem to want to be happy and find things to smile about.

The men, from my mom’s side of the family, seemed to have a special knack for doing goofy things, like shaving someone’s face while they are laying on the ground looking like they are injured, or staging a fake robbery for the new camera. I have thought about them often, because they seemed be people with a great sense of humor. When you think about it, that is probably what made them such a great family. It never mattered if they had all kinds of money or things, because they always had love and laughter. Maybe that is what is wrong with so many families these days. They take everything so seriously, that they forget to laugh or play. I’d rather be from a family that teases each other unmercifully, than from one that never teases, but that’s just me.

Horsing around has changed over the years. Very few men would be riding each other like a horse these days, but that doesn’t say that they are above piggy back rides, or even wrestling. Of course, much of the horsing around these days is done on dirt bikes, bicycles, skateboards, motorcycles, or even snowmobiles. A little mud or a little snow, and you’re all set for a great time.

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