When I asked his dad what was new with my grand-nephew, Zack Spethman, the first thing he said was, “He’s tall.” And that is the truth. Zack has literally shot up in height in the past couple of years. It shocks me every time I see him. I pretty much have to stand on my tip toes just to give him a hug. While Zack is the second son of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve, I have a feeling that he might be the tallest person in his family. It’s hard to say, because the boys still have some growing to do, but at this point, Zack is most definitely in the lead.
Zack is such a loving, sweet natured young man, and he is never afraid to show people that he loves them. Many teenagers…especially boys are worried about the hit their “image” might take, if they are seen hugging their mom, dad, or aunts and uncles in public, but Zack doesn’t care about all that. Zack’s sweet nature doesn’t make him a wimp, just the opposite in fact. Zack is great in sports, and a great protector of those he cares about. Zack knows how to shoot a gun, and after passing hunter safety a year or so ago, he is also a great hunter. Zack and his brothers, Xander and Isaac, love to do the same things their dad is doing. From guns to snowmobiles to swimming to hiking, they are all in!!
Of course, these boys aren’t too proud to play with their little sister, Aleesia, and help he with anything she needs. They treat her like a princess, and she loves each and every one of them. Zack is also a perfect gentleman at school, and his teachers all think the world of him. He is never on to get into trouble, and rather is the first one to offer assistance whenever it is needed. He makes his parents, and the rest of the family, very proud of him, and I know that he will continue to turn into a wonderful young man. Today is Zack’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
A while back, while looking at historical pictures, I came across one that bore an amazing resemblance to my grandson, Chris Petersen. I realize that a lot of people say that some people remind them of other people, but even my family agreed that this young man looked like Chris at that age. I have no idea who this boy is, or if he is related to Chris, because the picture doesn’t tell his name…just his occupation, which was quite interesting. The boy is, what is known as, a Powder Monkey. I had no idea what that was, and after doing some research on it, I’m thankful that powder monkey is not an occupation we have today, and thankful that my grandson never had the opportunity to be one. To me, it seems like a very dangerous occupation.
Powder boys were used during the 17th century on warships. A powder boy or “powder monkey” manned naval artillery guns as a member of a warship’s crew, primarily during the age of sailboats. His chief role was to carry gunpowder from the powder magazine in the ship’s hold to the artillery guns. Sometimes he carried bulk powder and other times he carried cartridges, to minimize the risk of fires and explosions. The function was usually fulfilled by boy seamen of 12 to 14 years of age. Powder monkeys were selected for the job for their speed and height. They needed to be short so they could not be seen, and could move more easily in the limited space between decks, while remaining hidden behind the ship’s gunwale, thereby keeping them from being shot by enemy ships’ sharp shooters. Some women and older men also worked as powder monkeys. I realize that this might have seemed like a good idea, but as a mom and grandma, I would be terribly worried if that were my boy on one of those ships.
While the Royal Navy first began using the term “powder monkey” in the 17th century, it was later used, and continues to be used in some countries, to signify a skilled technician or engineer who engages in blasting work, such as in the mining or demolition industries. In such industries, a “powder monkey” is also sometimes referred to as a “blaster.” It seems that just about any occupation that carries the name “powder monkey” is a dangerous one. As to the boys who did this work on warships, well…their bravery is amazing. They must have see death around them. They knew the risks. Still, they saw a need, and knew that their contribution would help their country. They were patriots, and as with any soldier, they have my respect. They should never be forgotten, because they were soldiers too…in every way.
My grand nephew, Jake Harman has gone through some life changing events over the past few years. He got married to a wonderful girl named Melanie, and gained a sweet daughter, named Alice Green, who was Melanie’s daughter from a previous relationship. Then, they had another sweet daughter, named Izabella Siara. What more could a man ask for…right? Well, in Jake’s case, it would be the son who will be joining the family soon. I don’t think they thought they would get a boy, but they are very excited that they are. For Jake, it’s like a dream. He has wanted to have a family for quite some time now, and suddenly, he finds himself living right in the middle of the very dream he had in mind. It is such a cool thing, to watch your dreams come true.
Jake’s daughters think he pretty much hung the moon, and their eyes light up when he is home. I love the pictures of him with the girls, because you can just see the joy and happiness in their faces. And, I can picture how things will be in the future. Jake and his son outside playing catch, or some other sport, and the girls will be the cheerleaders. There is a contentment that will dwell over their house…until the teenage years hit anyway. I have to wonder if Jake will be the kind of dad, who is sure that no guy is good enough for his girls, and remember that these are beautiful girls, so there will be no shortage of guys wanting to take them out for the evening. But, I suppose that is a story for another day. For now, Jake gets to enjoy the childhood years and just how perfect his life is at this moment.
It hard for me to believe that Jake is not only grown up, but a family man, but it isn’t hard at all to see why he picked Melanie to be his bride, however. She is so sweet, and they just compliment each other perfectly. She really is his soul mate, and the love of his life. I love to watch them together, because they are so cute. Jake, like most men, will probably never grow up, but Melanie loves him just the way he is, so that’s ok. Their dream life is moving full steam ahead, and I am so happy for them. Life is good, and we can’t wait to meet their little boy!! Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When I was a kid, dressing up for Halloween was for kids. Things have changed since then and these days you see lots of adults going to parties, teenagers roaming the streets trick or treating, scaring kids or just acting weird…and of course, there are still the little kids doing their usual thing…collecting candy. It’s the night when everything is turned upside down. Kids are taken to do things they normally aren’t allowed to do…knock on the doors in their neighborhoods and ask for candy. Of course, most are also, schooled in all the safety tips designed to keep then safe as they go, because lets face it, they are excited, and there is always the possibility of one of them running across the street without really looking first…hence the need for watchful parents.
It’s much different today, than things were in my day, because while my dad always took us out trick or treating, we didn’t have to be worried about the candy we received. We made a haul. In fact, we took a pillowcase to collect our candy in, knowing full well that we would almost fill it up, and sometimes we even had to go home, empty it out and go out again. These days, kids only go to the homes of people they know…for the most part. Candy must be x-rayed to assure its safety. Many children are taken to places like the mall or to parties. All this to insure their safety in this unsafe world we live in now.
Most of the teenagers either don’t participate, work, or stay at home to hand out candy, but lots of them go out with their friends. One hopes that the majority of those teenagers are not out getting into trouble, but often that is not the case. At least for the troublemaking group. There are still good teenagers, who respect authority, their parents, and their elders. I am thankful that I live in a state where most teenagers are still taught good values, and I wish that was so in all the states in our nation.
This year, my youngest grandson, Josh Petersen is participating in something new for Halloween. Although it is not a Halloween event, it requires him to don a costume, but please don’t call it an outfit or costume, because it has a specific name…bunkers. Josh’s event is not a party or haunted house or really anything that has anything to do with Halloween, but is does require going into a situation that is very much out of the ordinary for him, and strange for us, his family, to think about. Josh is doing fire science training at the drill tower today. The training will include a practice fire, in which real fire will be used…hence the unusual situation involving a building, that most of us would consider a nightmare if it happened in a building we were in. While these are not a real fire situations, it is these training sessions that prepare our firefighters for the real life scenarios they will face on the job. Yes, this is an unusual way for a seventeen year old to spend a Saturday, especially on Halloween, but it is one that Josh will find exciting, inspiring, and a great learning experience for the career he has chosen to take on. We are all very proud of him.
Whatever Halloween finds you and your family doing, I hope you have a great evening, be safe, watchful, respectful, and have fun. Happy Halloween!!
There comes a time in the life of your kids, when they just have to spread their wings and fly for a while. Where they go often varies, but the reason is usually the same. They want to be more independent. Some kids, like my dad, Allen Spencer and his brother, Bill Spencer, were intent on making a living. They had decided to follow the harvest and make some good money for the family. They planned to, and did return home in time to help their mom, Anna Spencer with the haying. The main reason the boys set out at eighteen and sixteen was to make extra money, but I have to think they were also feeling like they wanted and needed a little road trip too. They were of an age to be able to go safely, and their mom was agreeable, so off they went. I can’t say that they sewed any wild oats, but it was an opportunity to go the places they wanted to go, and do the things they wanted to do. And it was an opportunity for them to really spread their wings and prove to themselves that they were grown up.
That whole “I’m grown up” idea hasn’t changed much, and it hasn’t gone away. This year I had two of my grandchildren graduate from high school. They have both started to venture out of the safe haven of home now. Chris Petersen went to watch his brother, Josh Petersen’s track meet toward the end of last year, and Shai Royce and her brother, Caalab Royce drove to Denver to visit their grandparents, and have a little fun too. They all had a good time on their road trips, and I’m sure that they felt a little more grown up. The funny thing about teenagers is that after they take a couple of those road trips, or even one, they realize that it’s not such a big deal after all.
After, Chris moved to Sheridan to go to college, that drive home quickly became kind of long and boring. Yes, he comes home, because he misses family, and we miss him, but he’s not so impressed with driving down and back alone…especially going back. I suppose that could be because he knows it will be a while before he sees his family again. When you are going somewhere to have fun and then you’ll be back the next week to stay. It just feels different than when you know it may be months before you see your family again. That feels lonely.
For me…well I’m still trying to get used to the fact that they all have a driver’s license and their own cars…and now they expect me to be ok with letting those little babies go on a trip alone!! Are they crazy? Or, maybe I just sound too much like their mom’s. There will be many more road trips to come in the future, so I might just as well get used to it. I just don’t think that’s possible. The other day, when my granddaughter, Shai called her mom, Amy, who works with me, and asked what there was to do in Deadwood, I started thinking…she doesn’t need to go to Deadwood at her age. Let her go to Thermopolis, if she wants to go somewhere. Shai was only asking the question for a guest at the hotel she works at. Wow…I really need to stress less!!
When I think of my niece, Chantel’s husband, Dave Balcerzak, I am always reminded of how suited they are to each other. Chantel has told me that she liked Dave when they were kids, and had planned to marry him then, but you never know how things will turn out from the childhood years to the adult years. I’m sure that everyone, and even Chantel thought that was simply a childhood idea, as she grew up. Children, or even teenagers, rarely marry someone they knew as a child. Our ideas of the perfect mate change so much. Nevertheless, Chantel never forgot Dave, and after her divorce, she ran into Dave again, and the romance was rekindled. The rest, as they say, is history.
Dave has been such a great addition to our family. He is a loving dad to his children and to Chantel’s. He has a great sense of humor and keeps laughter in their home. Dave is a whiz with computer repairs, which is great to have in the family. With his talent, a computer can last a lot longer than it normally would have. He can even rebuild them completely…which he often does free of charge for people in need. That makes him a hero, in my book, and to those he has helped. These days, it can be a real handicap to have no computer in the family. They have become a necessary item.
I find it strange to think that Dave and Chantel liked each other as kids, and then…years later, they found each other again and got together. That is the stuff that romance books are made of, but you never expect it to happen in real life. I suppose it does sometimes, but it still feels unlikely to me. Most people can barely remember the kids they went to grade school with, but these two not only remembered each other, but still had feelings for each other. I wonder where their lives would have taken them, had they not reconnected. I suppose they would have survived, but would they have been as happy as they are now? I very much doubt it. They make a good team, and they are both just exactly what the other needed. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When my sisters and I were teenagers, the mini skirt and hot pants were all the rage…much to my mother’s dismay. She always felt like they were a little bit too risqué. Of course, we completely disagreed with her, and in fact, thought she was just being very old fashioned, and really a bit ridiculous. Everyone was wearing these new styles, and we didn’t want to be thought of as the nerds of the school…not to mention the fact that they were cute styles, and we wanted to look as cute as the other girls did. It was about this time in my life, that I began to see the value of skirts, over dresses. You simply couldn’t roll a dress up to turn it into a mini dress, but you could do that with a skirt. So to appease Mom, the skirt was knee length at home, but soon became a serious mini skirt…and before I went into school too. The old saying, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that” definitely applied when it came to knee length or longer skirts…until the maxi skirt came out that is. The problem is that once a child leaves the house, parents just don’t have total control anymore, and most teenagers will go a long way toward avoiding conflict, if it’s possible. I wasn’t the only girl rolling my skirt either. Every girl whose mother said no, was doing it. Of course, shorts were a little easier to get away with, but Mom still thought they should be a little longer. Her problem was that longer shorts were harder to find…thankfully!!!
We weren’t the first generation to wear the mini skirt, short shorts, and other risqué clothing choices, but to hear my mother talk, we were. In fact, Mom went through a period of time in her own life when she wanted to wear the things the other girls were wearing. Her friends were wearing two piece bathing suits, which were considered very risqué at the time…little did they know that the string bikini was on it’s way and it would make their two piece bathing suit, that covered most of the midriff, look very conservative indeed. Nevertheless, my mom was in a little bit different position than we were, because it is hard to hide the way a bathing suit looks, and it isn’t an item you wear to school, so changing its looks was much harder. Still, she told me that the other girls were wearing a two piece, and she sure wanted to, but was not allowed. The two piece bathing suit was just too risqué…according to my grandmother. Poor Mom…there seemed no way out of her dilemma, and there’s no way to roll a one piece bathing suit to make it a two piece suit.
Bathing suits for women used to be almost like swimming in a dress, and even when they were allowed to be a little shorter, there was always someone who wanted to push the envelope a little…bringing on the need for a different kind of beach patrol. Their job was to measure the distance from the suit to the knee. It is was their job to enforce the dress code for women…even at the beach. Boy, talk about restriction!! You pretty much had no chance of pulling off such a big feat of deception, so there she was in her old fashioned one piece bathing suit while her friends wore the, so much more fashionable, two piece bathing suit.
When the maxi skirt came out, I’m sure many a parent breathed a deep sigh of relief, as had their parents before them, and secretly hope that horrible mini skirt craze would never come back again, and if it did, I’m sure they hoped that it would wait until they had their daughters grown up and married off. Then it would be their children’s problem. Of course, there really is nothing new under the sun, and they had somehow forgotten just how risqué their own parents thought their styles were…or maybe they hadn’t, and they just hoped their children would never know just how risqué they were, because somehow that was different, or maybe it was just that these were their kids, and they suddenly knew just how their parents had felt all those years ago, and they weren’t sure they liked it either.
When you see a cute picture like this one of my aunts, Bonnie, Dixie, and Sandy, you immediately think, “Oh, those girls must be best friends and sisters, not just sisters. Or their parents must have really trained them very well, for them to stand there so obediently.” Well, you would be right most of the time, but as we all know, siblings fight sometimes and kids act out occasionally.
Younger siblings can be a joy and a pain…within minutes of each other. They can make you laugh and then make you mad, usually because they are so needy. Then, when the older siblings become teenagers, every request, every question, and especially the presence of the younger sibling within a mile of the older one, is a huge annoyance, and some things are the worst thing in the world!!
We have all been there…at least any of us with younger siblings, or even cousins, so you can’t exactly fault your own kids when they try to do the same things you did. You can hope they won’t, but you really need to be realistic. It’s just the way things go in families. There will come a day when they will be friends for life…when they will look back at these days and think about how silly they were to worry about having their younger sibling around them. Like it was going to steal all their coolness away. We realize that they just wanted to be like us, because they thought we were so cool. How could they not see the serious lack of confidence we had? How we felt so very not cool, and we were trying to show the world that we really were cool. Thankfully those days are very short in the total of our life. And thankfully during those days, that feel like forever, there are a few golden moments when they forget that they don’t want that younger sibling around.
It is in those precious moments that they find that it’s kind of fun to have someone who looks up to you. It isn’t something that happens very much, after all. They see that they are someone of value to this, their younger sibling. They find that they like helping out. After all, it’s just a helping hand to get up on the bed of a pickup, because the littlest girl can stand behind her taller sisters and it will make a great picture. And it is kind of funny when you are both a little clumsy at getting her up there, because while she is your little sister, she isn’t so much smaller that you can easily lift her, so you let her push up on you and she slips a little, and the whole thing is so comical that all you can do is giggle. Pretty soon, it isn’t just her who is saying, “A little help, please!!” It’s both of you, because you can’t stop laughing long enough to get her up there.
All too often, in this day and age, we don’t think about the modern conveniences that we have. Things like electricity, indoor plumbing, gas (both for cars and houses), cars, television, and telephone are the normal everyday items we count on, but think very little about.
When you consider that not so very many years ago, people had to either get out of bed, practically get dressed, and go outside…even in the bitter cold of winter, to go to the outhouse, you know the outdoor toilet which was a little building out back of the house, or have a pot in the bedroom to use, and then emptied in the morning. Neither choice was perfect, but I suppose the pot in the house would have been better than going outside in the bitter cold of winter. These days we abhor the thought of stopping at a rest stop on a trip and finding out that all it has is an outhouse, because we expect that every place has modern indoor plumbing, whether it is a fact or not.
In times past, people went to bed and got up with the sun, because it was too expensive to light candles or lanterns. The work had to be done by daylight anyway, so they might just as well be up at dawn. of course, most teenagers these days consider anything before noon to be pure torture, and might even whine a little if they have to be up before that hour. Still, there wasn’t really any shift work back then, and families were together in the evening, unless the father was working in another state or town.
Letters were used to communicate, and unfortunately that often meant that if your loved ones didn’t live in the same place you did, you might hear of their passing months after the fact. It took a long time for letters to arrive, especially if they were coming from back east. Today, we can inform people of events that happen in our lives, almost the second they happen. In fact, it’s almost like they are there with you, and if it is an event you know about ahead of time, you can Skype with them, and they can watch it happen. Sometimes, even with all of our modern conveniences, we still think life is really hard, but if we think back to days gone by, we will know that we really have no idea what a hard life is.
Every grandchild is special, but you will always remember when your first one arrived. It is a day you most parents have waited for since their kids reached marrying age. I don’t mean that you wanted grandkids since your kids became teenagers, but as they grew, your mind…maybe deep down, maybe consciously, wondered what their children would be like. We were no different. As my girls grew up, I wondered what my grandchildren would be like. No matter how hard I tried, my thoughts of who they might be, came up very short of the great kids they are, or the fact that after having two daughters, I would end up with only one granddaughter, and 3 grandsons.
Every one of my grandchildren is very special and very unique. Christopher, from the beginning, had the best smiley faces. His eyes were so expressive. You couldn’t help but laugh with him. He loved doing goofy things, like dumping all the clean clothes out of the basket they were in, so he could get into the basket himself. Then, he waited to see what you were going to think of it. His great big eyes were always so expressive, and in them you could totally see the delight that he was feeling. And he seemed to be able to play to your sense of humor, because he never seemed to fail to do things that were just funny.
People call people like that a ham or a clown, and maybe he was, but all I can say is that it was just Christopher’s way. Also, I don’t know if he even realized what he was doing, at least at first. After a while, I’m sure he did, and he seemed to hone his skills as he went along. I remember the first time I saw him talking and shaking his head side to side, when he was about 3, and that is something many adults can’t do, but again, on Christopher it just came naturally. And I have laughed at that one over and over, because I can still see it in my memory. He was so funny as a little kid, and still is today. It was his unique talent.