imageimageA baby’s first year is one filled with change. They go from being an infant to an independent little toddler…just that fast. Their parents tend to wish there was a way to slow them down just a little bit, because those infant days are gone in an instant. Still, watching the changes and the emerging personality is awesome too, and soon you find yourself simply going with the flow and enjoying the new little person your child has become.

One thing that few people expect from their younger children, however, is for them to become an inspiration to their older children. Nevertheless, in the case of my grand niece, Zoey Iverson, she has become just that. Zoey’s brother, Lucas was born with Down’s Syndrome, and so is slower at things than she is, but Lucas loves his little sister, and literally follows her everywhere. That has inspired Lucas to work very hard at maneuvering. And for Zoey, that’s not a bad thing either, because she absolutely loves her brother too. Zoey brings out the very best in her brother, because Lucas wants to do everything Zoey does.

Zoey and her brother are best friends. They love spending time together and with their grandparents and uncles…especially Uncle Tucker. They love to go camping together with their parents and other family members. Zoey spends a lot of time in her swing or playpen when camping, but that doesn’t matter. She is outside, and that’s a fun place to be. I’m sure she will take after her parents in camping, fishing, and all things sporty.

One of the main things I see in Zoey though is the love she has for her brother. I have a feeling she is going to be his biggest cheerleader, best friend, and his teammate. It’s amazing to watch a younger child who sees the imageimageneed to take on the role of the older child, but without stepping in their older sibling’s toes and making them feel like they are incapable. I think Zoey will be that kind of child. Filled with love for her brother and never feeling like he is a burden, because he is just her brother and she loves him with all her heart. What a blessing for Lucas to have such a sister. He has a sister who encourages him, inspires him, and loves him always. It doesn’t get any better than that. I know that Zoey will be a very compassionate girl. Today is Zoey’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Young Aunt SandySo often we think that toddlers don’t have the ability to remember things that happened when they were so very small, but the mind is an incredible thing. If our toddler’s mind has deemed something as important enough to remember, we will remember it for the rest of our lives. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting with my mom, Aunt Sandy, and my sister, Cheryl at my mom’s house, while we scanned some pictures, and talked about family history. We talked of many different family stories, but one that stood out in my mind was Aunt Sandy’s account of the entrance of my grandparents’ first grandchild, my cousin, Susie. For any grandparent, the moment when you actually become a grandparent for the first time is amazing…a moment you will never forget. But, what of the small children? Most of us assume that there really won’t be small children to consider when it is the first grandchild, but sometimes, the aunts and uncles are barely toddlers themselves. Such was the case with Aunt Sandy when Susie was born.

When she became an aunt, my Aunt Sandy was just three years old…too young to really remember much about it, right? Wrong! This would be an event that Aunt Sandy’s three year old mind knew was a life changing event. She was never going to be the same after that November day…she wasn’t just a little girl now…she was an aunt. I can’t say for sure that Aunt Sandy knew what being and aunt really meant, or that she understood that there was a new baby in the family now…at least, not at first. Then came the moment when the baby was to be brought over to meet her family.

The house was filled with all the family members. That wasn’t such an unusual thing for my grandparents’ home, so it probably didn’t seem like anything new to Aunt Sandy. Then my Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George brought the baby into the house. Everyone gathered around the new little family. There were the usual ooo’s and ahh’s, as everyone vied for a position where they could get a good look at the baby. But, standing in the back of the crowd, momentarily forgotten in all the excitement, stood my Aunt Sandy, her eyes as big as silver dollars, as she took in this incredible scene. Her little three year old toddler mind was trying to figure out what all this meant, because it didn’t take an adult to know that everything in her world had changed…she knew it, she just didn’t really know how much it had changed.

Feeling maybe just a little bit nervous about all this activity, Aunt Sandy went up to her mom, and put her little hand out and touched her mom. Grandma turned around, perhaps realizing for the first time that the prior youngest person in the family had been momentarily forgotten in all the excitement. As she looked down at her youngest daughter, her youngest child, she knew just what was needed. She said to Aunt Sandy, “Do you want to see the baby?” Aunt Sandy nodded, Grandma picked her up, and she was able to get her first look at the baby that Aunt Sandy nowhad changed her life forever…the baby that had made her an aunt. She now knew that something amazing had happened in her family, and this was a moment she would remember for the rest of her life.

As we talked about the way that such an early memory could stay with a person, I could see on Aunt Sandy’s face, that the picture of that day was very clearly imprinted in her mind. It was almost as if she was that three year old toddler again, standing in back of the crowd of family members wondering what was going on. That earliest memory had so completely imprinted itself on her mind that she could still see it as if she was back there again.

Grandpa Byer and 6 of the kidsWhen I think of my grandparent’s house in North Casper, it always brings a smile to my thoughts. It wasn’t a big house, in many ways, but it did have a big back bedroom where all the kids had slept at one time. With nine children, they needed a fair amount of space for everyone. Nevertheless, the rest of the house really wasn’t that big. When I think of the song, “Little Houses” by Doug Stone, I think of my grandparent’s house. When their kids were young, and all or most of them were still living at home, there was little chance that they could pass each other in the hall without brushing against each other. They had to learn to get along and to work together as a team. There was simply no other way.

Oh, I know there were the typical fights. I came from a family of 5 sisters, so I can attest to that, but there is always a closeness too. It’s about knowing that your siblings will always love you…even if you are annoying sometimes. Let’s face it; you can’t grow up without going through that annoying adolescent stage, so we have all been there. Still, there is something about being crowded into a house that is maybe just a little small for the size of the family that brings a camaraderie that you can’t get when you live in a house that is so big that you almost don’t notice that you have siblings at all.

In big families, the older kids are grown and often married while there are still more children coming into the family, so there really never is a time without the pitter patter of little feet and the giggling of babies. There is just never a dull moment. And for the older kids, there is nothing more exciting that getting a new baby to hold. Sometimes you wonder if that baby will ever learn to walk…because I mean they are always being held, right? Nevertheless, those same siblings who want to hold those babies will also happily teach them the ropes of growing from babyhood to the world of the toddler.Growing Family

Once the siblings have all been born into the family, the nieces and nephews begin to arrive, and there are more babies to hold, teach and babysit. Love is simply everywhere in a little house. I remember going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and as one of those nieces, I remember feeling the love that filled every wall of that old house. Grandma and Grandpa always made us feel like we were their own kids, and the house always felt warm and cozy. Yep…love really does grow best in little houses.

Pretty little girlBaby girls are always so pretty. It doesn’t matter what they look like, baby girls are just pretty…each with their own look and pretty in their own way. Some people may not agree with me on that, and in fact, I know of people who will tell you that babies aren’t even cute, but there is something about a baby girl that has a cuteness all her own. As they grow into toddlers, they start finding their girly side, and feeling really pretty in their little dresses, or playing dress up in their mom’s things.

Then come the adolescent years, and it seems like everything is off. No matter how much the girl tries, she just doesn’t like the Awkward Yearsway she looks, and she really wishes that people would not take her picture ever again, because everything is all messed up. Unfortunately, for many of us, those years go on far too long, and she becomes convinced that she will be living in the awkward years…forever!! Of course, those years aren’t nearly as long as she thinks they are, but rather it is that, while she is living in those years, it just feels like forever.

Finally those years are over, and most of us realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that those who really matter can see a beauty in us that we can’t even see ourselves. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion that every girl deserves at Beautiful Marlyceleast one picture that, when viewed by others, brings the same reaction…”Oh, you look beautiful!!” That one picture that is simply, undeniably beautiful. Of course, beauty really comes from the inside of a person, and maybe that is why the picture I ran across of my sister-in-law, Marlyce, looked so beautiful to me. The essence of this picture was so clearly about the beautiful girl my sister-in-law was. Her sweetness, kindness, and gentleness glowed from her face. When I saw that picture, I was unable to look away for a few minutes, because I had never seen such a great picture of Marlyce before. She was beautiful, inside and out. This was her perfect picture…the one every girl deserves to have at least once.

My grand nephew Ethan is 4 years old today, and at this age, he is really coming into his own. He has lost the toddler aspect of his personality, and it has been replaced with a little boy with ideas of his own. He knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. And he doesn’t mind telling you what he thinks about it. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Ethan is a very well behaved little boy…he just knows what he wants to do. His mom, Chelsea told me the other day that he wanted to come to my office, which just happens to be just down the street from where he lives. He tried very hard to insist on it, but it wasn’t a good day for Chelsea to bring him. That just melted my heart. Ethan is such a sweet boy, but it never occurred to me that he might enjoy stopping by my office for a visit. It was just such a sweet little moment, and I told Chelsea that she would have to bring him by real soon.

Ethan has a shy side too, though. Sometimes at church, when he feels like maybe there are just too many people around, he will hardly talk to me or anyone else but his parents, grandma or his aunts. Of course, that doesn’t include the other kids, because Ethan is all about playing with the kids…any kids. He loves his little neighborhood friends, his cousins, and his friends at school, and he loves his teacher, who he often calls Mrs DeHaigler, instead of Mrs Haigler…a mistake that I find very cute, as I’m sure his teacher will too.

Ethan loves to laugh, and loves to hang out with the guys. If his dad or grandpa are doing something, it just must be cool, and Ethan wants to be a part of it. He is all boy, and loves doing the guy things that boys love to do. And Ethan loves to make his little sister laugh. He loves being a big brother, and loves having a live in playmate, and of course, Aurora thinks Ethan is the greatest big brother ever. On that one, she could be right…or biased, but you’ll never convince her of that. Happy birthday Ethan!! We love you!! Have a super cool day!!

When you are little, your best friends are usually your brothers and sisters. And back when Bob and his sisters were little, there was no such thing as a play date. Kids played with their siblings until they started school, and a lot of times after school, especially when you lived out in the country. A lot of times there were no kids that lived very close, so once again, your siblings were your friends, and that wasn’t always so bad.

There was always some way to get into mischief when there were three of you. There are also lots of ways to have fun. Who needs to have company over when you have siblings. In this case, three’s company, and fun would be had by all. It might be in the form of trying to put 2 kids into a tricycle built for 1 toddler…the type that had almost a baby walker type seat on it. I have to wonder if Debbie had trouble getting out of that tight spot after she got in…or maybe she had help getting in and out. I don’t know for sure. I just know that it was the same tricycle Marlyce had used as a toddler, so it wasn’t built for 2.

Whether it was playing at home or riding horses at Grandma’s house, this little trio lived life with gusto. They got into trouble on occasion, but not all the time. Their imaginations ran wild at times, and when they did…well, the trouble could be bad…for their parents, who had to fix whatever the kids messed up, and from what I’ve been told, this little trio messed things up pretty good a couple of times. Still, when you look at those cute little faces, how could their parents be mad?

Kids play so hard. From the moment they get up until they fall asleep they are going. It’s almost like they are trying to cram a lifetime of play into each day. They don’t understand that there is always tomorrow. I love watching toddlers as they get to that point where they want to keep playing, but they just don’t have any more play in them. They start to get sleepy and they try to go faster and faster, until they simply fall asleep.

Sometimes that can be a parents dream…especially if the child is one who is hard to get to sleep, but it also seems like by the time the child falls asleep, it is late enough in the day that after their little nap…they will be up half the night. What is the parent supposed to do? Wake the child back up and deal with the grouchiness, or let them sleep and plan on a late night. It is a tough decision to make.

My grandson, Christopher was one of those play ’til you drop kids, but not the hard to get to sleep type, and he loved his sleep time, so we got to enjoy those all worn out moments. He was so funny. He would play so hard that he could fall asleep sitting up if, you weren’t watching. In fact, that seemed to happen rather often. Not everyone can sleep sitting up, you know. He just didn’t care. He would fall asleep in the middle of dinner or playtime. The need would hit him and he was out like a light.

He always made the funniest faces, and some of the funniest ones came when he was just waking up. That point of still being half asleep and half awake, made him look as if he had been given just a little bit too much to drink. Of course, that wasn’t the case, but he sure looked the part.

Yes, kids just don’t know when to quit. They don’t shop ’til they drop…the play ’til they drop. Sometimes, I think we are the ones missing out on things. We spend our lives slaving away at our jobs, and all too often forget to allow for a little play time or down time. Then the years fly by and we wonder where they have gone, and how we missed them. Maybe we should take a page out of their book and play until we are so worn out that we could sleep sitting up. Think of how contented we would feel!

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