Saturday, November 29, 2008

Remembering the holidays

The holidays were always a big deal when you girls were little. We made gingerbread houses, cookies by the hundreds that were given to friends, teachers, and sent to family. The stories of Monkey Joe, and trips to look at lights and surpising Santa, and explaining it all will wait for another week. This week, I want to tell you about when you older girls were about the ages above.

During this time, Dad's job was tenuous at best. Every other Friday, there were engineers laid off. Dad did his best to stay on projects that needed his particular skill set. He is and has always been an excellent engineer. Things were pretty somber at his job. So, we tried to lift his spirits when he came home. We baked, cooked, decorated and tried to be as happy as we could.

This one particular Friday, Dad came home without a smile. We made chicken soup, and biscuits for dinner and about 100 holiday cookies that afternoon. Annie, being the observant one, noticed that Dad was not smiling, so she grabbed a cookie and followed him to the closet where he was hanging up his coat. She offered him the cookie and he smiled and took it. They sat down on the couch and shared it, while talking about what we had done all day.

The pall around work did not go away that day. We worried many, many weeks that he would lose his job. But Annie showed him that she felt his sadness and wanted him to feel better. Nina and Lauren joined in as they could - they were still pretty little. But they followed Annie's example and let Dad know that they loved him.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Maran's Visit Part 2

The thing that I forgot to mention in the previous post was about the mailman. You guy often would sled in the front yard when you were young. The mailman would get sooo upset because it caused the walkway and the surrounding lawn to be slick as ice and he had to walk up it. After a while he stopped complaining and just walked through the grass/snow. I felt bad for him but not bad enough to tell you not to sled on the front walk. It was just too good for sledding!

Bob and Mary Helen's visit to Marshall

In the early 1990s, Bob and Mary Helen Maran took the trip to visit us in the middle of winter. Their kids, Sarajane, Ninamarie, and Julieanne had never seen snow. While they were with us, Uncle Charlie died and Dad and Mary Helen went to Chicago to attend the funeral. You kids were not in school. So, Bob and I were alone with 9 kids! Good thing that we had a big house!

On the day that we took the pictures in the snow, you were showing the Maran girls how to sled. You also had an outdoors tea party. I don't know why.

Dad and Bob built a barrier at the street, so that if you went too fast you would not end up in the street. There used to be a tree in that location, but the city had taken it down the previous spring. You all stomped up and down the walkway, then swept it smooth. Then it was ready for sledding. Jackie Ullman came over, too. The Maran girls did not tolerate the cold well even with layers of sweaters, socks, snowsuits and boots. They played for a little while, but it was too cold. However, you kids had a blast!

Bob discovered Louie's. He took walks down there at least once a day. You kids were thrilled to death because there was always Louie's in the house. He even would take any child who was ready to go with him. He took the sled sometimes and tried to coerce his girls to go with him. They liked the Louie's but the walk in the cold, not so much. Most of the time, he went alone. But there were times that one or all of you were willing to take the walk with him and show him the sights of Marshall.

I don't remember much more about the Maran girls during that visit, except that when Julieanne got angry, she slammed doors. I was glad that they were solid oak! Also, they did not know what to make of Snowy. Mary Helen does not like cats. Snowy was pretty shy as I recall, except when Mary Helen tried to sit in her chair. She was having none of that!

All in all, it was a good visit.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Summer time on Ottawa

We lived in the house on Ottawa St. for less than a year. It looked like Dad's job was secure, and the market was getting stronger, so we decided to buy a new house. It had to have 5 bedrooms, some land, and be in a good neighborhood. During this time, we did the "pig smelling expeditions"as we looked at a house that had 25 acres, a barn, and was near a pig farm. We settled on this house because we especially liked the neighborhood.

It was a quiet street. There were a few young families and some older folks who had raised their children in the neighborhood. We were at the back of a circular road, so the only people who came back there were neighbors, mostly. One time, I was outside doing something and Johnny was riding his hot wheels. He was using the driveway and then moved on to the street. At one point, I looked for him and found that he was riding his bike down the street with a car following him. This patient driver, a neighbor, just laughed and waited for me to grab him. I don't think that Johnny even noticed the car behind him.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Thundering Herd

When the big kids were little, we had a little house on Westminister in Jackson, MI. When Mom called the kids and the Dad for dinner, the pitter-patter of little feet was heard heading toward the kitchen. As the kids grew and we moved to a house large enough to hold us all, the pitter-patter gave way to stomping and crashing. It was not nearly as cute.

I don't remember the exact day, but we lived in Marshall, when the term "The Thundering Herd" was coined. I called out that dinner was ready and almost immediately, the sound from the fartherest reaches of the house could be heard, like a low rumble. Then the feet hit the wooden stairs in the front of the house and the sound became a loud roar. Always accompanying this sound was the voices of the ones in the back of the pack. I don't remember the words, but it seemed as though the hungriest of the bunch ended up at the back of the pack. Don't know why or how. Making the turn from the stairs into the dining room brought more tumult as there was a bit of a bottleneck at the doorway. Inevitably, someone would fall, hit the door frame, or otherwise be squeezed to the back.

I remember considering lessons on how to come when the group was called, but I just could not bring myself to do it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Johnny-boy at about 10 was a trip! This picture is from Easter of 1995. He wore this suit to church and the teenaged girls just loved him. They told him how handsome he was. How mature he looked in his suit. One girls told how much of a "fashion plate" he was. He just ate it up! The sisters, of course, rolled their eyes. He was just the Johnny-boy!
Beth and Johnny were about the same age and the same size. When Johnny went too far with his boyness, and teasing her, she would simply slug him. I scolded her one time and she told me that hitting him was the only way to make him stop. Not the best solution to the problem. But, he seemed impervious to the "shadow" punishment, and/or the "hugging" punishment.