Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flying By The Seat Of My Pants

I guess you could say I am child-like in many ways. I like children's music and children's movies as much as they do. Playing card games and board games are the joys of my life.

I am an impulsive person. Whatever catches my eye is where my interest will go. My mother said I was flighty.

I often told my children that I know it was a trial to have me as a mother because I tend to go off on a tangent at times. they assure me that they thought all mothers were like that.

Checkers and chess are fun games. My grandfather was a good checkers player. He and my mother showed us how to play. He explained that it was very important to keep the back line of checkers in place until you absolutely had to move them. I tried but it is difficult to keep them back when all my other checkers were being taken.

I really like chess. The planning and the different pieces moving different ways make it a game of logic. The problem with chess is that I will examine the board before making my next move. I will imagine a move and try to anticipate what my opponent's response will be and what eventual results will come from it. I look and study. I plan and observe.

Then out of the corner of my eye I see a move and grab the piece and move it. Usually it was a move I had already rejected. I made a stupid move and would end up losing the piece and eventually the game.

But there are times when I appreciate being impulsive. When my children were little and their father was on the road during the week we would often pack up and head for the park. There were trees to shelter us, a creek for wading, and plenty of room to run and play. We would cook on the grills placed strategically near picnic tables. Even though we lived at the edge of town and had a spacious yard the days at the park were fun for all of us.

I'm also well-known for driving along and suddenly spotting something I want to see. I stop and see it. I may have to take a detour and spend some extra time but it is usually worth it. I have found some interesting places to visit and fascinating things to see by doing this.

I encourage everyone to be impulsive once in a while. I do it too often but you might be amazed at the joys you will experience by doing something out of the ordinary once in a while.

As the song by Leroay Pullins says

I'm a Nut, I'm a Nut,
My life don't ever get in a rut
Well Hell, my shoulders are sore and loose
That I ain't got the sense God gave a goose
Now Lord I ain't crazy but, I'm a nut

And I like it!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Grandparents Day

My oldest grandson was in kindergarten. Many schools in the city had a special day to promote closeness and understanding between children and their grandparents.

I had never heard of something like that but was thrilled to go. I have thoroughly enjoyed being Grandma.

When we arrived we were assembled in the cafeteria. It was early morning so the children served their grandparents juice, tea (or coffee), and sweet rolls.

I did not know most of the other grandparents but my grandson's other grandmother and step-grandfather were there too so I had someone to visit with.

It was at that time that they gave each grandparent a binder. Inside were pre-printed pages (that were professionally done and lovely) with instructions of what to write on each page. As I leafed through the pages I became excited.

The first page had a box for my name and a box for my husband's name. The second page was for the names of my son and daughter-in-law. Easy enough, right?

Then there were pages that asked the names of my children and their families, my grandson's family, great-grandparents. Just fill in the blanks. Still easy.

Now it became a little harder. Where did I grow up? What did the clothes of that time look like? What kind of music did I listen to? What historical events happened in my lifetime? How did I meet my husband? How was my grandson like my son, his father? How was my grandson like his aunt and uncles? How was he like his grandparents? Where did I go to school? Did I go to college? Tell what qualities I admire in my grandson. And so on and so on.

There were many other thought provoking things to write about. I had filled in the easier things before the little program the children performed for us.

Then we were escorted by our grandchildren to their classrooms. We were given a tour of the room. We saw artwork posted on the wall. We watched the children do school work and even participated. We were given an art project to complete with our grandchild. It was great fun.

When the day was over the grandparents took their grandchildren home from school. I had a wonderful time. My grandson was happy to be home and play outside. Also I could not wait to get home and finish my homework in the notebook.

I had so much fun filling out the pages and telling my grandson what things were like as I was growing up. Describing him and how he compares to my children was interesting and required some intensive thought.

The most fascinating thing was when I described historical things from my years before he was born. I found that I seemed to remember the sadder things. Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend going on a killing spree and killing 11 people. We did not live too far from where they began. Starkweather was the last execution in Nebraska before the death penalty was declared illegal.

I remember vividly still the death of President Kennedy and his funeral. I actually saw Jack Ruby shoot and kill Lee Harvey Oswald on television. Kennedy's funeral was the only thing on television for a week. I can still see it and hear the drum cadence in my mind.

At the time I wrote in the binder I seen three Popes die and three new popes chosen. The Viet Nam War claimed the life of my brother and thousands of other young men. My parents and the whole family were devastated. My grandson's father was named for my brother.

There were unmanned and manned rockets sent to space.  Men actually walked on the moon. One space flight did not make it because the capsule caught fire on the launch pad and the astronauts inside were killed.

There were other things but those are the ones I remember writing about. I apologized to my grandson for only remembering sad things.

I told my grandson of the things we did for fun. Like drive-in movies and cruising the loop on Saturday nights. I told about the dances that were popular at the time. I talked about my favorite singers and actors.

I told of McCarthism. I described how we would "duck and cover" in air raid drills. We ahd those in case an atomic bomb came our way.

When I finished filling the pages I took the book and gave it to my grandson. That was the purpose of the binder. He would have my first-person account of the things in the binder. It was fulfilling to do on my part. My daughter-in-law has kept the book so that it will be there for the whole family.

I have been to several more grandparents day festivities but none of them had the binder. It was an excellent idea. I have seen similar books in mail order magazines but I have not ordered any... yet.

That book and urging from a couple of other people are what inspired me to write this blog. Thank you John and Ratty. It is an easy way to record memories as they pop into my mind.

What memories would you like to leave your family? Write them down and make your own binder. Or record them on a blog. You do not even have to publish it. Just save it as a draft if you want it to be private. Or dictate them in your own voice. It really is easy once you begin.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Final Sibling

My mother was pregnant again. I was furious. Not for the Freudian reasons many might think. I was jealous for my sister. She was supposed to be the baby.

At the same time a new baby was always an exciting event. Once I realized that my sister was looking forward to having a baby in the family I relaxed and began to be excited myself.

My oldest sister and I were hoping for a girl. Not since I was the only child in the family had the girls outnumbered the boys. We wanted some of the inequality on our side for a change.

I was a few days shy of my sixteenth birthday when Mom went to the hospital. She never had an easy delivery. For many of us she was put to sleep It was standard practice in many places.

My father was the first to see a baby each time because Mom was asleep or otherwise busy. Mom thought that was unfair. Because she was finally able to have a natural childbirth she gave strict orders to the doctor that she was to be the first to see the baby. "I don't care if I go into a coma for 20 years, no one is to see that baby before me!"

She saw her final son immediately after he was born. Then Daddy got to see him before he came home to tell us the good news. It was the day after she went to the hospital and we were so anxious.

Now everyone in the whole neighborhood knew of my plans to have another sister. I was vocal about it. When Daddy told us we had a new brother everyone in the neighborhood knew the baby was a boy when I yelled, "OH NOOOOO!" at the top of my lungs. They teased me about it for a long time.

One baby picture could have been used for all of us. We looked that much alike when we were born. But not this brother. Actually he looked like my second brother did at that time. Had to be different.

I was old enough to visit the hospital so I got to see him before the other kids did too. He was a pretty baby. And he already had a personality. Not all babies do. Of course that was still when you could only view the babies through the window of the nursery.

The baby came home. My sister was 11 years old. Remember that I believe this is the age where the nurturing begins to manifest itself in girls. So she took him much the same way that I took my youngest sister.

I do not think he liked me much. Mom said it was because I so obviously favored my sister. But he was such a cutie and I took care of him a lot when my parents had things to do.

The first time he laughed out loud I was babysitting. My boyfriend was there and we were sort of wrestling the way teenagers do. I think my baby brother thought I was being beat up and he was happy.

My parents also decided to have another baby right away. They felt that my sister was kind of left out by age differences. She was 5 years older than the baby and 5 years younger than her next older brother. Unfortunately it was not to be. It was the last baby my mother lost. She came close to dying and decided it was time to stop.

Daddy came in and woke me up in the middle of the night because he was taking Mom to the hospital. He wanted me to sleep in their bed and listen for my brother in case he needed something.

I took him to be with me (a common practice). As I was trying to sleep the baby stopped breathing. And did not start again. I lay there and listened and held my breath. He was so still. Just as I was reaching out to touch him he took a deep deep breath and began to breathe normally again. i was afraid to sleep the rest of the night. Mom told me later that he did that all the time. All I know is that it terrified me.

As I said before he had a personality. It was sometimes a little devilish but always cute. All of us adored him. Especially the boys.

The boys would take him with them when they were teenagers and he was 4 or 5. He could roll his stomach. Whenever one of the boys told him to roll his stomach he would lift his shirt and rool away. At the store it would get free candy bars for all of them. The boys nicknamed him Fritz. I do not know why.

I had married by then and was living in another state. I wrote home often to my family and my husband's family. They wrote back. One day i received a letter from my 4 year old brother.

He wanted to send me a letter but of course did not know how to write. He dictated it to Mom who wrote, word for word, what he wanted to say.

Part of it went something like "I'm busy helping Mommy clean the whole house. Not the kitchen. Not the bedrooms. Not the bathroom. Not the living room. Just the couch."

When I found out I was going to have a baby of my own he was so excited. He wrote that when I had my baby he would bring his baby over to my house so they could play together while he went to work. He was terribly disappointed when my son was born and he was not automatically grown with a family of his own. He was not 5 years old yet.

When my family moved to the same place I lived my brother was happy. He loved being an uncle. And he was devoted to his nephew when it did not inconvenience him too much. The boys became quite close.

Now boys that are close tend to have their squabbles and these two were no different from the rest. They would fight and tattle just like all boys. There were times when my brother wanted nothing to do with that little kid following around. And times my son would be aggravated by his uncle telling him what to do.

One day when they were about 3 and 8 they had an argument of some kind. My son came into the room I was in and sat on my lap. Suddenly here came my brother screaming bloody murder. His arm was bleeding.

My brother said my son had cut him. I said he had been sitting on my lap. It seems my son had found the very top of a glass soda pop bottle and put it on his finger like a ring. While the boys were scuffling the jagged edge of glass cut my brother's arm. He still has a scar.

My son told me only a few years ago that he did it on purpose. Rotten kid!

My brother loves sports just like most of the family. He liked to play baseball with the older boys. He became a really fast pitcher.

The only problem was that he threw so hard. A lot of the boys did not want to catch while he pitched. When he joined a little league team the catcher for his team wore a work glove with foam padding inside his catcher's mitt. He said it still hurt (and his hand would be all red) but it helped a lot.

My brother was also very accurate with his pitches... until a batter stepped into place. My brother was so afraid of hitting the batter and hurting him. His pitching then would be so erratic. He just could not pitch well with a batter in the box.

My brother was a picky eater. I do not mean that he did not like certain vegetables. He would eat lettuce sandwiches for lunch. One leaf of lettuce between two slices of bread. No condiments of any kind. He liked chicken noodle soup I think. I cannot think of anything else. He liked hot dogs- to wrap tightly in aluminum foil and placed in the barbecue until the whole thing exploded. He did not eat them.

But he loved candy. He ate a lot of candy. As a matter of fact that was pretty much his diet.

My brother and my son would sit on the front steps waiting for my father and brother to get home from work. My brother would reach into his pockets and divide his change between them. My brother would take off to the store for a candy fix. Usually my son just sat on the steps and dropped the coins into a crack in the steps.

Then my brother began to pass out when he would get up in the morning. He would get out of bed and pass out at about the same time he got to his bedroom door.

The doctor did tests and discovered that my brother suffers from hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Candy is not good for him.

At least the doctor was a realist. He understood that a child is going to eat sweets. He explained to my parents and my brother that he would have to learn how to manage his sugar. If he had a piece of candy he would need to eat something with protein at close to the same time. A piece of cheese or bologna or a peanut butter sandwich. He learned to eat a few foods that were healthier for him. Today he has a normal appetite.

When he was a teenager he and his friends loved to go Trick-or-Treating on Halloween. They had been together since they were beginning school. ( Lucky him. He is still in close touch with most of them.) When KISS became so popular four of them decided to be KISS. Mom helped if they asked but they pretty much made their costumes including fastening blocks of wood to their shoes to make those high boots worn by KISS. It has become a family tradition now that some of the kids dress that way for Halloween.

My brother was in high school when he went to my parents and told them that his girlfriend was pregnant. Her father called and was understandably upset. He wanted them married right away. Mom told him that a baby was not a reason to marry. In time her father agreed. His health insurance would cover her and the baby because she was a minor.

My brother went to work after school to have money for diapers and formula and such. After his daughter was born he would go to their house every night after work. He would play with her, read to her, and tuck her in every night.

Two years later he and my niece's mother decided to marry. But before that was accomplished they had another little girl.

The girls grew up beautifully. When they were teenagers my sister-in-law discovered she was pregnant. Even though she is strongly Catholic she did not want to care for another baby. My brother convinced her to have the baby.

He arranged with his boss to work hours that would allow him to care for the baby. The girls babysat when they got home from school while he worked. And he finally had a little boy.

His son is ready to graduate from high school and be off to college. My brother has helped coach little league, football, and wrestling. Of course he was as involved with his girls as he could be too. He is a good father.

He and his wife divorced and he has custody of his son. The girls are both married and have children of their own who adore their grandfather.

Because our father died of a heart attack and so did the oldest of our brothers my brother is pretty good about watching his health. The doctor discovered some blockage a few years ago and he had a procedure to fix that. All good.

Last summer he, his son, and one of the girls' husband were doing some yard work to pick up a few extra dollars. It was extremely hot and he told the boys he was going to sit in the car to cool off in the air conditioning.

My niece's husband was alert enough to check on him quickly. They drove my brother to the hospital. He was having a heart attack.

Another surgery cleared the blockage on that side. He is doing very well now. My niece and her husband finally convinced him and my nephew to move in with them and their children. They are doing quite well now.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

How Embarrassing!

We have all had those embarrassing little moments in life.  You know the one. It's like the time my daughter-in-law came in my front door. She opened her mouth to say, "Hi." Instead out came a world champion belch. We still tease her about it.

Well I have had a few of those moments too. I guess it is time for me to disclose them. I am not going to count my thumb-sucking. It was hard to give it up but I think I decided to work at it when I began to go hide so I could suck my thumb. I slept on my hand so it could not make it to my mouth. I was completely cured long before I was old enough to go to school.

The first embarrassment I remember was not my fault. I was to be baptized. In the church we attended babies were on the Baby Roll until they became old enough to ask for baptism. I was 5 years old when I decided it was time.

There was a pool under the stage where the minister stood to deliver his sermon. For baptismal days they would open it up. The minister would wait for us in the pool as we descended the stairs. Then he would cover our noses and mouths with a clean white cloth as he dunked us backward into the water to submerge us. Then it was over and we could take communion.

When it was over we were all wet. Mom did not think about that part of it too much until someone asked where my dry clothes were. Luckily we only lived a block away so she rushed back to get me a change of clothes. When she came back all breathless she handed me my dry clothes. That was when she discovered she had forgotten to bring underwear.

Mom told me to slip off my panties so I would have a pair after the baptism. She told me to be sure to hold my arms to my side so I could hold my dress down and keep things covered. So I was baptized with no panties!

It was late in the day when Mom realized that she needed something from the store for supper. The store closed at 5:00 so I had to be quick. I was in either kindergarten or first grade. I went racing into the store, speeding to the back so I could get to the aisle that held whatever it was I was to buy.

Now keep in mind that I have never been an agile person. I cannot do cart-wheels or hand springs or the splits like so many children can do. Also keep in mind that this was an old-fashioned grocery store in a small town. The floors were made of wood that was kept clean with Murphy's Oil Soap or something like it.

As I raced to the back of the store I was running as fast as I could. I got to the end of the aisle to make my turn and my feet slid on that oiled wooden floor. My legs went out to the side; unfortunately each leg took a different side. I did the splits with my legs straight out to the sides of my body. I landed right on my tailbone. I landed hard on my tailbone.

This was one of those times where when I finally caught my breath I wanted to cry but it hurt so bad I couldn't. That was embarrassing enough. But I had severely bruised my tailbone. I had to carry a pillow to school to sit on... like that did any good.

I was about 11 years old when The Blob came out. The theme song was very popular on the radio. You know the one..

Beware of the blob, it creeps And leaps and glides and slides Across the floor Right through the door And all around the wall A splotch, a blotch Be careful of the blob by Burt Bacharach.

My sister who is four years younger than I am and I wanted to go to the theater to see it. Mom and Daddy said no. It was too scary and we would not like it. That was their reasoning.

I argued that I was working at the bowling alley and had my own money. I should be able to spend it on the movie. Finally they relented but we were not to bother them when we had nightmares. So off we went in a very grown-up way to see The Blob.

About halfway through the movie my sister decided she had enough. We needed to leave. Boy was I relieved. I could blame her for leaving early and being afraid instead of me. Actually I would not have been able to stay much longer.

We were afraid to walk home in the dark. Our little town did not have street lights except for the ones on Main Street. We instead went to the bowling alley where I worked. One of my uncles was working that night. After he teased us for a while he agreed to walk us home and keep our secret of leaving the movie early. We ended up telling on ourselves anyway.

It was time to harvest the cherries from our cherry tree. Naturally I had to climb the tree to do my picking. I loved being in a tree.

So there I was out on a limb and picking cherries to my heart's content. Then there was a loud crack. I looked up  and then laughed. Maybe I was  little too heavy for the cherry branch. My laughter did not last long. The branch cracked again and accompanied me solidly to the ground.

On a nice summer day I was outside with Mom and my sister. We looked up as a car was pulling into the driveway. It was my boyfriend's car. I was not expecting him so I was happy and jumped up to go meet him. As I got to the car I realized the driver was someone I did not know. Not only that it was not my boyfriend's car. (It sure did look like it)

In order to cover my mistake I just kept on walking. I went across the street and stood in the neighbor's yard. The car was driven by a friend of Daddy's. Of course Daddy told him I thought he was my boyfriend and everybody had a good laugh. Everybody but me.

We had moved into the house we built. It still needed finishing touches but we could do that while we enjoyed our new home.

My third brother is still known for being not very quick to react to an odd situation. This will come into play here.

One day I was in the bathroom doing what one does in there. Suddenly the door that did not as yet have a lock on it was opened wide. My brother stood there with his hand on the door knob and a group of about five of his friends behind him.

After what seemed to be hours he veeeerrrrry slowly said, "Oh... Emma's in there." And they all just stood there like deer caught in the headlights, looking. I started screaming for him to shut the door. He looked blankly at me and said, "Oh." and finally closed the door.

I took my children out to dinner. My daughter ordered a hamburger with extra pickles. She loves pickles. When the food came there were no extra pickles.

I thought it would be a good learning experience for her so I told her to get the attention of the waitress next time she went by and remind her that she had asked for extra pickles. She could not get the attention of the waitress.

I told her I would show her how to do it. The next time the waitress walked by I leaned out a bit and said, "Excuse me... excuse me...... excuse me..." and she just kept on going. My youngest son looked at me and said, "I'll bet you feel pretty dumb right now."

A dear friend was being married. It was a beautiful wedding. The reception was held at the home of the groom. His family had a lovely and large yard. It was a beautiful day. Everyone was enjoying themselves.

I was wearing a lovely dress with a nice flower print. It matched the early summer afternoon perfectly.

The food was served buffet style and it was wonderful. One of the foods I chose was meatballs in marinara sauce. They were delicious. Meatballs are difficult to eat with plastic tableware. I went to delicately cut one so it could be placed delicately into my mouth.

You guessed it. That meatball jumped from my plate onto the front of my dress. It landed near the top of my chest. But wait... there's more. It bounced to just above my waist. Hold on... there's still more. Then it landed in my lap. There I sat with three, count them, three huge tomato colored spots on my new dress.

Our house had old, very old, wood floors. It was Christmas morning. The kids opened all their presents and we were all just enjoying each other and our new gifts. Some of the gifts needed to be put together.

One of the kids took their gift to their dad for him to "fix" it. He needed tools and an assistant. Someone brought the tools and I slid across the floor to help. I felt a sharp pain as I slid. Splinter.

We put the toy together and then I had to ask my husband if he would pull the splinter from my backside. How embarrassing. But it was worse than that.

My husband had no problem finding the splinter. A small bit of the end was still outside the skin. But he could not grasp it. He said I might have to go to the emergency room to have it removed. How embarrassing.

He finally took a pair of needle-nose pliers to try to get a grip on the splinter. With the pliers grasping the splinter he placed his foot against one of my hips for leverage as I laid on my stomach on the bed, my husband pulled and tugged and wiggled that splinter until it finally came out. It was a little over an inch long and had gone straight in instead of sliding nicely under the skin. But he got it out. How Embarrassing!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My First Grandson

I walked in the door. My son and his girlfriend lived upstairs. Their apartment opened onto the stairs so I could look up and see a wrought iron railing and the back of their couch. On the couch looking over and down the stairs was this adorable little face. It lit up when it spotted me and got a look on it like, "GOD'S HERE!"

My first grandson has always made me feel more special than I am. He is a grown man now but when I call him on the phone, a bit of the little boy creeps into his voice when he softly says, "Hi, Grandma."

I read one time that a child's opinion of himself is formed during the first two years of life. If he is praised and made to feel special he will always feel that way. If he is belittled and made to feel unimportant he will always feel that way. The degrees may change with experience but the basic feeling is there.

In our family the children are the most important things we have. Each child is made to know that he or she is the smartest, prettiest, most loved being that ever lived. If someone says, "Hey, Pretty Girl," all the little girls will look up and answer.

One of my favorite things to do was to ask the child I was with, "Who loves you?" Usually the answer would be, "You do!"

I was driving with my grandson in the car one day. I asked him who loved him. He said his dad loved him. Who else? His Mom. Who else? His sister. Who else? His Grandpa. Who else? His aunt. Suddenly he looked up with a look of wonder on his face and said, "Everybody loves me!"

Again out driving we were listening to the radio. My daughter was with us too.  The song Hit The Road Jack by Ray Charles began to play. My grandson said, "Di you hear what he said, Grandma? He said hit the road Jack." He was laughing so hard. He thought that was the funniest song he had ever heard.

A group of people had gathered at my house for the pay-per-view wrestling event on TV. My grandson was about a year old. You know how rambunctious children are at that age. He was running around being a little boy and enjoying all the attention he was getting. He lost his footing somehow and fell. He hit his head on the corner of a table and blood came gushing out.

His parents left to take him to the emergency room for stitches. The nurses would allow only one parent in the room with him. As she always did when one of her kids was injured, my daughter-in-law promptly passed out. My son had to take her place.

Because of her inclination to faint when her children needed medical care (it is a family joke now) another member of the family always went to doctor with her. She would wait impatiently in the waiting room until we returned with her offspring.

My grandson had a mole growing on the back of his head. It needed to be removed. We all knew that my daughter-in-law could not manage this one. I volunteered.

My grandson and I made a day of it. His appointment was in the middle of the afternoon. He and I went to lunch before the doctor's office. He knew what was to happen.

The doctor talked to both of us. He explained that giving a local anesthesia to the back of the head would probably hurt more than the procedure itself. His plan was to simply cut the mole off and send it to the lab to make sure there was no cancer.

My grandson sat with his back to the doctor. I told him to hold my hand and squeeze as hard as he needed to whenever he felt like it. For some reason that seems to lessen pain. The doctor began to work.

My poor grandson was so brave. He was only about 8 years old. He sat there and squeezed my hand harder and harder as it hurt him more and more. I asked the doctor to stop and that brave little boy told him to just go ahead and get it over with. So brave.

When he was about 10 years old my grandson began to walk on the sides of his feet. I do not mean that he wore his shoes a little more on the outside edge, He was walking on the actual sides of his feet. His mother kept asking him if it hurt to walk that way and he said it didn't.

Finally my daughter asked him if it hurt if he didn't walk that way. He said yes. The doctor prescribed inserts to be worn inside his shoes to correct whatever the problem was. After several years his legs and feet were fine and he no longer needs the inserts.

You have probably seen a television program where a little boy gets his head caught in the rungs of the banister on the stairs. Well my two year old grandson did not do that. He got his head stuck in the spines of the back of a kitchen chair.

His mother and baby sister were the only ones home. His mother tried everything she could think of to help him get out. She thought about cutting the chair apart but she was afraid she would cut him too.

Finally his father got home from work. After he laughed for a minute he had my daughter-in-law calm my grandson and keep him still. Then he cut the chair away from my grandson's head.

When he was about four years old my grandson began to play baseball on a team. His mother and father were the coaches. (They were very good at it, as a matter of fact) They had practices where they learned how to play and how to run the bases, things like that. They actually played against other teams.

As little as they were they never struck out. The only way a batter was out was if the ball was caught in the air after it was hit or if the batter was thrown out running the bases. Some of the children were not proficient batters and could take some time before they finally hit the ball.

During one game my grandson had hit the ball and was standing on second base waiting for the next batter to hit the ball so he could advance. It took a while and my grandson was getting impatient. Finally he had enough. He started to walk off the field.

My son convinced him to go back to second base. He went, muttering all the way. After some more time the batter hit the ball and my grandson moved to third base. The next batter took a while too. So my grandson sat down on third base and took his batting helmet off and put it on the ground in front of him. He was bored and tired of trying to hide it.

My grandchildren are all intelligent little creatures. Sometimes it is a problem. My grandson would be finished with his work sooner than the other children in his class. He got bored.

Everyone knows that if a child has nothing to do, they will make something to do. And usually that is what will get them into trouble.

When his parents began getting notes from school saying that he was a discipline problem they did not know what to do. They were paying a lot of money to send their children to a private school and the school would not want to keep a problem child.

I knew what to do and when they asked me I told them. Let the teacher know that when he was idle she needed to give him something to do. Get him interested in a book he would enjoy. Let him bounce the basketball. Have him organize a section of the room. Anything to keep his mind active so that it would not think of other things that got him in trouble. That seemed to do the trick.

My grandson also played soccer, football, and he was a wrestler. His father had been wrestling with him since he was home from the hospital as a baby so he was good at that. And football is his special love. He tried out for the team in high school. His coach was ecstatic because my grandson is a big boy.

One day after school but before football practice my grandson was playing basketball in the gym with some of the other boys. He fell and his knee was a little sore but he could deal with it.

When they started football practice it started to hurt worse. They called the school nurse and she said it was fine, just a little bruised. So he kept trying. It was no use. His knee began to swell and he could no longer stand.

His ACL was torn and he needed surgery. When the doctors were inside the knee they discovered further damage. The ACL was not going to be repaired. The MCL needed to be repaired too. The ACL was replaced with one from a cadaver.

It was a painful surgery and an extremely painful recovery. My grandson is a tough kid and not much hurts him but he was in pain. Then there was the long period of physical therapy and crutches. He walked with an ever so slight limp.

He missed the first two years of high school football because of his injury. His final year of high school he again went out for the team. He had missed so much that he was not first string but he was happy to just be there.

They were doing some sort of drill during practice. Two other boys fish-hooked him and he went down. His other knee snapped. Another ACL surgery. With this one they did what they thought was a successful surgery. In the recovery room they did some testing before he was awake. Something was wrong. They needed to go back in.

They discovered damage to the MCL and to a couple of tendons. That did the job. After another painful recovery and a lot of therapy he is fine. He has a little bit of arthritis in his knees that he will have to keep an eye on but otherwise, it is all good.

My grandson was going to be a teacher. He wanted that from the time he was quite young. But going to college and trying to work and maintain friendships became too much for him. He is working fo a major car manufacturer now. He still wants to finsih his education but his work schedule will not allow it right now.

He is married too. His wife is a wonderful person who wants to be a doctor. Specifically she wants to be a forensic pathologist and perform autopsies. They are due to have a daughter very soon.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Getting Married

My parents raised me to be an independent thinker. I am also not afraid of hard work although I would rather sit back with a good book and a cup of tea. I never developed a taste for coffee so tea it is.

When my husband and I decided to marry I did not tell my family. There were several reasons. One was that independence. I was used to doing things my own way... within the limits of house rules of course. Also my family had very little money and could not afford a wedding.

The main reason was that my parents did not approve of my boyfriend. Now that I am a mother I understand that no one would have been good enough for me but at the time my rebellious nature took hold. I have to tell you now that my parents came to love him very much and he loved them as much.

I met my husband on a Saturday night. That was the night all the kids "hung out" downtown. He was driving around with a couple of his friends and I was with my sister and a couple of my friends. It was shortly after Christmas. We made a date for New Years Eve. The guys would pick us up at my house.

In the meantime my sister and I were out past curfew and my parents grounded us. When the guys came to pick us up we had to go down and tell them that we could not go with them. They wanted us to just get in the car and go. My girlfriend said she was not grounded and she was going. My sister and I decided to go too. So we jumped in the car and took off. I saw my father running after the car and yelling.

We rode around for a while. That was what kids did then unless the drive-in theater was open. We had a good time. Except for wondering what was going to happen when we got home that is.

My parents were furious. My father actually spanked us. With a belt! He did not hurt us. It was one of those times that he needed to do something and a spanking seemed to be in order. We were re-grounded with a much longer sentence.

Eventually my soon-to-be boyfriend got brave enough to come around again. My parents gave us permission to go out but it was not happily.

So we dated and eventually decided to get married. I was out of high school and working at the hospital. He worked for a farmer that lived less than a mile from the farm my family had moved to.

But we still wanted to pay for the wedding ourselves so we made arrangements to stack bales of hay for a neighbor of his parents. That was when I learned to drive a truck.

To gather the bales of hay for stacking we had an old farm truck with a flatbed trailer behind it. Attached to the truck was a machine that, if correctly positioned while the truck was moving, would act as an elevator and deposit the bales on the flatbed. The person on the flatbed had to retrieve them and place them in order on the trailer.

Bales of hay are deceptive. One might weigh 50 pounds while the next might be 75 pounds. You never knew what you were going to get until you tried to lift it. So my husband decided that I should drive the truck and he would arrange the bales on the truck.

When the trailer was full we would drive to the spot to stack the bales. Then the bales were lifted from the flatbed to the stack and put in place so they would be secure.

I was doing quite well at centering the bales so the elevator would pick them up. I was driving right along until there was a knock on the door of the truck. I had turned too fast on a little hill and dumped my boyfriend and several bales off the truck. I was a bit more careful after that and we had no more accidents.

My boyfriend's father came to see how we were doing. I was up on the stack of bales arranging them and my boyfriend went over to talk to his father. His father was furious. He told his son to get up there and not let me do all that hard work.

His father and I both worked at the hospital. Soon after that he was going around telling anybody who would listen that I was going to be his daughter-in-law. I guess he liked my gumption.

So we had the money for everything. The problem was that in our state he was too young to marry without parental consent. He went to his mother to get her to sign the paper. I went with him.

She refused at first. Finally she relented and signed. She told us not to "tell Dad" that she had signed. She had no idea that he approved.

So we went to get the license.We had the blood test results and the permission slip. Unfortunately we had not known that the state laws were slightly stricter than we thought.

At the desk the woman told us that even with parental consent he could not marry unless I was pregnant. Was that the case? He quickly nodded and said, "Yes." I turned many shades of red. Of course I was not pregnant. And she required proof from a doctor. No license that day.

We finally found that across the border the state would marry us if he was as old as I was. He made a slight change on the consent form and we got our license there.

We were married by a retired clergyman there. He and his wife were so nice. The ceremony was conducted in their home.

We were going to live in a farm house owned by the farmer my husband worked for. It was common for farmers to buy other farms and rent out the houses on them. Sometimes they became part of the wage package. We spent our first night there.

The plan was to get up first thing in the morning and go tell my parents. Instead we woke up to my father standing over our bed. He told me to get dressed and he took me home.

My brother was there too. He was letting the air out of my husband's car tires.I have no idea how he finally managed to reach someone to help him air them.

I spent my first full married day at my parent's house crying my eyes out. My mother insisted the marriage would be annulled. My husband would drive by or stop in the middle of the road and try to get me to go with him.

The problem was that I had been their daughter a lot longer than I had been his wife. I could not go.

That night Daddy began to soften. He could see how miserable I was. That night he told me he would see if he could get Mom to bend a little too.

The next morning when I got up my mother-in-law was there with my husband. She sensibly explained that we were married. Maybe they should let us be married.  I went home with my husband.

When I tell my children this story they are amazed. It is very hard to explain how we were raised to obey our parents. Even though I was grown (and now married) I was still their daughter.

It took very little time for everyone to make up. Soon we were a big happy family again.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Youngest Sister

I was almost 11 years old when my youngest sister was born. I think that is when the "mothering" instinct really kicks in for little girls. She was my baby from the very beginning.

My youngest brother at that time was going to start school that fall. He was terribly worried about who was going to take care of Mom while he was in school. He was so relieved when he found out there would be a new baby to take care of her.

It had been a hot summer. Mom was miserable but she had 5 children to care for so she trudged on. On top of that we lived in the same town as my grandmother who was very demanding.

Grandma would call every morning to see if my mother was ready yet to take her to the post office. When Mom would take her downtown Grandma would find all sorts of things she needed to take care of so Mom would be stranded for hours. Then when Mom came home exhausted she had a house to clean and meals to fix.

When Daddy would get home from work Grandma would call and complain about how my mother had kept her hostage while they only went to get the mail. Daddy knew better but it was a sticky situation.

My aunt had come to make her duty visit at Grandma's for the year. She would be there two weeks. While she was there my aunt and uncle and their grown children came to visit. They lived on a farm a ways from town.

It was the Fourth of July. There was a big family gathering at Grandma's house. Mom spent most of the morning cooking. The other women wandered in and out of the kitchen but offered little assistance. My sister and I were helping too but we were children and probably more in the way than anything else.
After everyone ate a huge meal, the adults retired to the living room to visit. My aunts and cousins were going to help with the dishes but Grandma proclaimed in a loud voice that my mother could take care of cleaning up so the "family" could visit.

I tried to help her but my mother was furious. She was completely worn down and worn out. After we finished the dishes she went and called her doctor. She said she was so tired and she could not take any more. He told her to go to the hospital and he admitted her. He said he would make sure she got some rest.

It was so close to time for my sister to be born that the doctor told Mom that if she felt well enough the next day he would try to induce labor. That way she would not have to pay for two hospital stays. My sister was born at 2:00 in the afternoon the day after July 4th.

Daddy brought home a picture of him holding my new sister in the parking lot of the hospital. She was so pretty. I did not wonder why they let him take her to the parking lot. After a few minutes he let us know that it was actually a picture of me when I was a baby.She looked just like me.

From the moment she came home my sister was mine. We have a tradition in the family. When a new baby comes home it is given to the youngest child to hold. That child gives it to the next one in line and so forth. When the oldest child (me) gets her turn she gets to carry the baby in and put it to bed. I hated to put her down.

My sister was a problem baby. She had colic for more than a year. When we went outside for any reason we had to keep her head covered so she would not get any wind in her face because that made the colic worse. We rocked her and tried to burp her all the time. Poor Mom. She would be up most of the night with the baby to try to keep her quiet. Daddy had to sleep so he could go to work.

That was when I started fixing breakfast for the family. Mom needed to sleep sometime. I would take care of the baby so she could get some sleep.

Then my sister's skin developed a rash. Mom tried all the usual tricks but it only seemed to get worse. The doctor recommended using Ivory soap for her bath. (99 and 44/100 % pure) Mom told him that was what she had been using. He said to try just baking soda in the water.

My sister still had the rash. The doctor said to just use plain water for the bath. She still broke out. Finally the doctor said she might be allergic to the water. Try Baby oil or Baby Magic cream instead of bathing her in water. It seemed to work as long as we alternated the two every few days.

I must mention that as she grew older her water allergy seems to be better. But she has three types of soap that she can use on her face. She will use one kind for about a week and then switch to one of the others. Otherwise she will build a reaction and not be able to use it again.

My sister was a sickly child. It seemed like it took very little for her to become very ill. She was about three years old and had pneumonia. I became her personal nurse. One day she was all tucked into my parents' bed and I was going to read her a story to put her to sleep.

She was difficult to read to. She had memorized all her stories. If you skipped a word or tried to change the story a bit she would immediately make you start over. She was not spoiled or anything, was she?

So this day I was reading to this poor sick little girl when I looked up just as her head flopped to one side and her eyes closed. I knew she was dead! Actually she was so sick and so tired at the moment that she sort of passed out into sleep instead of falling asleep.

My sister began to call me Mommy. I thought that was really cool and I did not correct her. Mom did not seem to mind so it became a habit. Until the day I took her to the grocery store with me and she called me Mommy in front of one of the boys who worked there. I had a little crush on him and was totally mortified. After that I had her call me Emma.

I took her everywhere with me. Even on dates. I had a boyfriend that she really liked and he was fine with her tagging along. We took her to a carnival. The barker for one of the games acted like he thought she was our child. We felt very grown up.

When the circus came to town we took her to the circus. We sat right next to where the elephants entered the ring. She hated the smell.

I discovered a secret that day, by the way. About halfway through the circus acts they have workers come through the audience selling candy bars. If you buy one and there is a number inside the wrapper, you get a prize in the ring that corresponds to the number.

I was a rather fetching lass if I do say so myself. The young man was flirting with me and gave me a special bar from his shirt pocket. It was a winner! If you want a winning number get them to give you the one in their shirt pocket.

My sister said she didn't feel good. It was no wonder. We had fed her every kind of candy there. She did not look well either so we took her home. Mom watched her for a while and decided that my sister was seriously ill. Off to the doctor.

My sister needed to have her appendix out. She was so brave for such a scaredy cat. They would not allow anyone to stay with her but she said she would be fine. She was.

My sister was afraid of so many things. The noise of a mixer, a blender, or any other noisy appliance. When Mom vacuumed the floor I had to take my sister to another room and keep her occupied or she would scream hysterically. When Daddy or one of my brothers would mow the lawn I held her on the porch because she was afraid of the lawn mower. And she always needed to be near someone.

There were only a few men she was not afraid of. She of course loved Daddy. She loved Grandpa and one of my uncles. That was it.

One day while I was in school Mom realized that she had not seen my sister in a while. That was unusual because she was usually under Mom's feet all the time. After an intensive search Mom found my sister in my parents' room. She was holding a bunch of hair.

She had cut her hair. She put the scissors up next to her head and cut it all off. Both sides of her head were nothing but whiskers. The back of her hair was gradually longer because it came to a point in the middle. Mom had no choice but to try to even it out somehow.

A huge lump formed on my sister's neck. It looked like a gigantic boil but it was different. It was about as big around as a quarter and the shape of a little mountain. When it did not go away Daddy took her to the doctor.

Daddy was driving a school bus at the time so she got to go with him. The high school kids on the bus fussed over her and she loved it.

The doctor lanced the lump and put a bandage over it. He told Daddy that he would need to see her every day for a couple of weeks to watch the progress. It was not a big problem. She just rode the bus with him every day.

At the end of the two weeks the lump was just a memory with a little scar for a reminder. The doctor pronounced it as healed. That was also when the doctor told my father that the reason he had been having them come in every day was because he had suspected leukemia and wanted to make sure of a diagnosis either way before upsetting our family. It was not leukemia.

As I said my sister was born the day after Independence Day. The local drive-in theater lit fireworks after dark on the Fourth of July. We lived at the very top of a hill and we could watch them off in the distance. My sister thought it was so nice of them to have fireworks for her the night before her birthday.

My sister liked being spoiled. She insisted on being called a baby for as long as she could get by with it. When she was about 8 years old she knew her time as a baby was over. She then allowed us to call her a LITTLE girl.

As you can tell I am very close to this sister. I have so many stories that I need to have another post to tell them. I will end this one only by saying that she is grown and healthy.

Friday, April 4, 2014


I have so many scars. I hope I'm not normal that way. I mean, I hope not everyone is as unfortunate as to have all the scars I have.

I will admit that I am not graceful; in fact I am quite clumsy. But I must say that not all of my scars are due to my clumsiness.

I was just a toddler. My mother was making popcorn. That was before we had microwave popcorn or JiffyPop that comes in the little aluminum pan that expands as the corn pops. We heated lard in a pan, put in the popcorn, and covered the pan. Then we moved the pan back and forth over the fire to make sure all the kernels popped. It was a lot of work but the popcorn was good.

As I said I was just a baby. Mom turned from the stove while the lard was getting hot. I wondered what was in the pan so I reached up as high as I could. I managed to grab the handle of the pan. The hot lard poured out of the pan and all down the front of me.

My first memory in life is standing on the toilet with my mother putting some sort of salve on my legs. She kept saying, "Your legs, your legs." She was certain my legs were going to be scarred by the terrible burns.

She had called the doctor when I burned myself. He gave her some sort of salve and told her to apply it liberally to the burned areas. She was so worried about my legs.

My legs are not scarred as luck would have it. But the hand that grabbed the handle of the pan was also severely burned. The back of my left hand is one big scar. I am fortunate that even though it is a big ugly scar, it is not noticeable until someone looks closely.

My hand has always looked like an old woman's hand. The skin is thin and mottled. If you look closely you can see where the skin was burned. It could have been so much worse.

The big garden had been mowed. It was the end of summer and time to let the ground rest. School had not started yet so I was not wearing shoes as I ran with my brothers and sisters through what had been the garden.

It was not unusual to step on things. My feet were calloused so I normally did not feel anything. But this time was different. I must have stepped on either a sunflower stalk or a corn stalk. My foot was bleeding.

I ran to my mother. She took a look and knew it was a bad cut. A dishpan full of water as warm as I could stand it and epsom salts was the treatment. When the water would start to cool she would add more hot water from the tea kettle.

I don't know how long I sat soaking. It felt like hours and it might have been. I just don't know. I fell asleep. I do know my foot was sore for a while. And I have a nice scar across the bottom of my right foot to remind me of the cut.

My brother had cut his leg and needed stitches. The day the stitches were to be removed we were playing hide-and-seek. "It" would stay in the house and count to 100. The rest of us would burst out of the house and find a good place to hide.

We lived on the corner. Our house sat up from the street. By that I mean that from the sidewalk there was a steep slope up to the rest of the yard. It must have been about four feet high. My favorite place to hide was to find a place on that slope and lie flat. Somehow no one figured out that I would be there.

That day I ran out and threw myself to the ground to hide. Someone had driven by and threw their beer bottle out of the car, probably the night before. The bottle broke and the bottom of it had two big sharp points coming up from it. I had not seen it and my right wrist came down on the sharp edges.

I was rushed to the doctor. Mom said she could see bone and tendons. I saw nothing because I could not look at it. I needed stitches. So I have stitch marks on my wrist.

I often played with an older girl who lived at the end of our street. We had one game where we did some fancy dance moves on the steps at the front of the house.

I went down to play one day but no one was home. We did not have steps at our house. I amused myself by seeing how many steps I could jump from. I did not see the broken fruit jar until it was too late. My right hand landed on a piece of it. I have a small crescent shaped scar on the heel of my hand from that day.

One of my best friends lived by the creek. There were three of us that were almost inseparable. We were not supposed to play by the creek but we often snuck down there and went skinny dipping.

One of those times we decided to make a slide by throwing water onto the bank to make it muddy and slippery. It was a great idea.

The girl who lived there went down first. I was close behind her with the other girl close behind me. The one who went first screamed that something scratched her. I was right behind her and I felt something cut my leg. The last of us cut her leg really bad.

I have a scar on my right leg to show for that one. I was recently talking to girl number three. She has a much bigger scar.

We were living in a small town, as usual. Daddy was a plumber/electrician there. For some reason he tied some of the plumbing pipes between two trees we had in front of the house. I guess it was to keep them from rusting.

I was in the 8th grade then so you would not think that I would still be playing hide-and-seek but I like that game. Hide-and-seek in the dark was best because you could hide in obvious places and not be seen in the dark. It was the same old rules. "It" in the house and the rest running out to hide.

I ran out of the house into the dark and caught the end of one of those pipes right next to my right eye. It bounced off and came back to hit me two more times before I got enough sense to duck.

When I went in the house my eye was full of blood. Mom was sure I had lost my eye. There was the main wound right next to my eye (it is about as far away from my eye as the width of my little fingernail) and two more right beneath it.

Once we got the bleeding to stop, Mom realized I still could see. The bottom two hits healed. But I have a small scar next to my eye.

Also in the 8th grade we were all playing tricks on each other and throwing spitballs. Then we discovered shooting rubber bands. Then we discovered that we could shoot sandburrs with rubber bands. So much more fun...

We were all hit so many times. They hurt too. One time I was hit on my left cheek and had to pull the sandburr out. That hurt too. And it caused a keloid. It looks like a beauty mark but it is really a scar.

The other scars I have are from surgeries. I had to have my appendix out one week after I was married. Right after my daughter was born I had a tubal ligation. A couple of years after that I had to have my gall bladder removed. Then I had colon cancer and it required surgery. My abdomen looks like train tracks.

Sometimes I look back and wonder how I survived to adulthood. And beyond. But the scars each give me a memory and I guess that makes them special.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Gonna Buy A Paper Doll That I Can Call My Own

I have mentioned before that I did not play with dolls. I always had a real baby to play with and dolls just could not do the same things.

But I loved paper dolls. They were found in McCall's Magazine. Betsy McCall was her name. Each month she would come out in a different pose with different clothes. I dutifully cut them out every month.

Betsy was usually dressed in a bathing suit or some sort of brief clothing. Never underwear... that would have been indecent. The reason for small clothes was so that the other outfits would fit properly and the original outfit would not show at the edges.

I loved Betsy McCall because her clothes fit so well. In order to change her clothes all you had to do was set the clothing (usually one piece even if it was two pieces like jeans and a shirt) on top of Betsy and fold the strategically placed flaps over her to hold the clothes in place.

She usually had the brief outfit, a daytime outfit, and a glamorous evening gown. She was in a different pose each month so the clothing did not interchange. But that only meant you would have a lot of Betsy's to make a group.

Then there were the paper dolls that came with the Tonette home permanents. They were there to keep little girls who were getting the perms from fidgeting while mothers tried to get the curls in their hair.

I cannot remember if they started that way but the paper dolls and clothes were perforated at the edges so you could carefully punch them out and play with them. There was not as large a variety as Betsy McCall but they were fun too. And they added to the collection.

You could buy paper dolls too. They were not terribly expensive but my family did not have a lot of money so they were usually an unnecessary expense. I did have a few of those.

The best thing to do was make your own. I cannot draw so I could not make them from scratch. Some girls did. But I had the next best thing... catalogs. Sears and Roebuck, JC Penney, Woolworth were but a few. I lived in very rural areas so mail order was the way we got a lot of merchandise.

The catalogs had an abundance of models, both male and female. And they were grown and children. We would cut the ones we like out and look for other outfits in the catalog that would match the pose of our models. They were not always a perfect match of course but close enough would do for our purposes. They had to have enough room in the catalog to be able to add the flaps to make the clothes stay on. It was a great way to add to our collections of paper dolls.

On rainy or snowy days when we were on the farm we would go up into the attic and play paper dolls. It passed so many hours and gave Grandma a break.

One day we made a discovery. My mother and her sisters used to play with paper dolls too. As a matter of fact she was the one who showed us how to make paper dolls from the catalog. Anyway we found some old cigar boxes full of paper dolls.

It seems that when my mother and my aunts had cut paper dolls from the newspapers when they were young girls. Newspapers had new paper dolls every week. And they had their catalog paper dolls. There were so many of them. It was like finding treasure.

My youngest aunt is about 5 years older than me. She had as much fun as me, my sister, and my cousins. We had such a good time with those old-fashioned clothes. We were always very careful to put them back into their cigar boxes and leave them in the attic until nest time.

I wonder what ever happened to all those paper dolls. I know my sister and I lost ours in a house fire. But the paper dolls in Grandma's attic probably were discarded when they sold the farm. What a shame. I would like to see paper dolls make a comeback.