Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Parenting in Today's Busy World

Life has changed a lot for parents over the past 50 years.

Many of the changes have made life easier for today's parents.

However, life is a lot busier than it was 50 years ago and nowhere is that more evident than in the land of parenting.

When I was a child, there were a few sports and other organized activities for kids.

Families nearly always ate dinner together each night and many grandparents lived nearby.

My family was a little different than the average family of the '50s and '60s.

Dad was in the Army and we moved a lot. We lived in the same town with my Mom's parents and grandmother briefly, but they were far away most of the time.

Like any big family, I'm sure it was challenging for my Mom to get dinner on the table. We ate together every night and talked about our day at the table.

No matter how rushed life may have seemed to Mom, parenting had changed a lot by the time I became a parent.

More activities were available for kids by the '80s and '90s when I was raising my kids.

From sports and dance to church and community groups, the evenings were filled with activities.

There were also more activities available for families to enjoy together.

As the kids grew older, they were involved in a variety of activities where they made new friends and learned new skills.

Summer offered a break in the action each year, since team sports were done for the year and none of the kids were involved in competitive swimming.

Since we lived far away from my parents and siblings, summer also meant taking a road trip.

Often, summer vacations had to be squeezed in between the various organized activities.

Baseball, soccer, dance and band scheduled were pulled together to figure out when vacation could be taken.

Like most parents, I tried to avoid schedule conflicts that kept the kids from participating in their activities.

When we visited my family, we often spent a lot of time attending my nieces' and nephews' baseball and softball games, sports played in the summer in the Midwest.

My dad once asked why kids played team sports at such young ages.

Part of the reason is to learn skills at a younger age, but another part is for the competitive edge as they get older.

My son and two stepkids were involved in many more activities than my two daughters. Countless hours were spent by me and my husband on fields and in bleachers across the area.

My son ran cross country, played baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, football, was in band and competed in ROTC.

My stepson played baseball, basketball, a little soccer and was in band.

My stepdaughter was involved in theater productions, played soccer and basketball, sang in chorus and was in color guard.

As I watch my younger siblings parenting, the number of activities is sometimes staggering.

Like their older cousins, my young nieces and nephews are involved in sports, music, scouts and more.

My younger brothers and sisters coach hockey and soccer, run kids to dance and sports and are scout leaders.

Summer visits nearly always feature kids' organized activities and our extended family is always there for support.

Regardless of all of the activities, there's always time to spend together as a family.

Dinner may be served really late in the day or lunch may be eaten on the run, but family time remains a big part of our family's life.

Although some aspects of parenting have changed over the years, the love of parent for child remains constant.

Until the next memory is made, I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.

Monday, November 11, 2013

In Honor of Dad on Veterans Day

Each year on Veterans Day, this is the mental picture I see of my Dad.

Dad sent each of us a copy of this signed photograph of him in uniform when I was in grade school.

I carried this photo with me throughout my school years. A framed copy has been on my bookshelf for many years.

Dad has been retired from the Army for a long time after serving his country honorably during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Dad served both stateside and in war zones around the world.

Dad enlisted in the Army as a young man. Like many young men of his era, Dad wanted to enlist immediately when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

His Dad, a World War I veteran, wouldn't let him drop out of school to join when we entered World War II.

Instead, he continued in college for a while before he enlisted in the Army. Another favorite photo I have of Dad is one when he was just entering military life.

Little did Dad know when this photo was taken that he would spend nearly 30 years of his life serving his country in the Army.

According to my Mom, Dad told her he would serve a year or two.

When she asked him much later whatever happened to serving a year or two, his response was that the Army was the only life he knew.

The Army was all we knew too. Our family lived on military bases in Kentucky, Kansas, California and Alabama.

We lived in France twice, once before I was born and once after. Each trip to France, a new son was born to my parents.

My brothers Bob and Pat were both born in France, about seven years apart. The rest of us were all born on military bases across the country.

We lived in Wisconsin during one of Dad's deployments to be closer to Mom's parents and relatives. I don't remember much from that time, but I'm sure it made Dad's absence much easier for Mom.

People sometimes ask what it was like growing up as an Army brat. If you weren't there, it's hard to describe.

We moved every few years, like most military families. We didn't know any different and all of our friends were in the same boat.

We made new friends wherever we went and sadly bid them farewell as our dads went off to a new adventure.

Military brats are taught from an early age to have a sense of pride in America that you don't see much anymore.

We were also proud of our Dad, but didn't really understand a lot about his work. We knew that he was gone a lot. Sometimes he was just at work, but other times he was around the world.

Once in a while, we got to talk to Dad on the phone. I remember that we had to say, "Over" each time we were done saying something to him.

We wrote letters to share our lives with Dad when he was deployed and he wrote back about his life. He kept his letters fairly brief and the tone light.

I still have every letter and postcard Dad sent me while he was gone. I also still have the sense of pride in America that Dad's service instilled in me.

Thanks for your service, Dad! You'll never know how much your life in the Army affected all of us in ways seen and unseen.

I'm a proud Army brat who will always be proud of my Dad and the country he served.

Veterans Day is about honoring all who served our country, in times of war and peace.

From the oldest veterans to those currently serving in countries far from home, I salute you.

Your service to America secures the blessings of liberty for all of us. May your love of country live in the hearts and souls of all Americans today and every day.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Life Rocked When I was Little

As I logged onto Twitter tonight, listed among the trending phrases was #WhenIWasLittle.

As I read through what others had written, it became clear that many of the Twitterers are much younger than me.

It was also clear that their childhoods filled with Sesame Street, Power Rangers and Nichelodeon may have been wonderful, but they didn't rock.

When I was little, life rocked. I had my black-nosed doggy and I felt that I was invincible.

Black-nosed doggy accompanied me on all of my adventures and so did my little brother Mike.

We had a black and white TV where my favorite dog Lassie appeared. and other media sources say that Timmy came onto the Lassie show in 1957, the year I was born.

Many people don't know that Lassie was actually a series of male dogs.

I found many photos of Lassie on a Google search, but none was exactly right.

The photo that I most remember of Lassie was at the end of each show when Lassie waved good-bye with her paw.

I would stand at the TV, shaking paws with Lassie and crying like crazy because 'my' dog was going away.

I found a couple of photos of Lassie with her paw up to shake, but they were in color, something our TV didn't have back in the day.

We didn't have pets in our family. Dad was in the Army, we moved a lot and I don't think Mom had the desire to care for pets. Lassie was my first dog, followed by Rin-Tin-Tin.

Like Lassie, I was afraid of nothing - well, not counting the dark.

Before there was such a thing as ziplines, we were the cool kids AKA Junior Paratroopers as we zipped down this line.

We rode our bikes with no hands, build forts in the woods, climbed way up high in trees, all without adult supervision.

Cool kids grow up to be cool 'tweens and teens and I was no exception - or so I thought. My little sister thought that I was the most awesome of all.

It may seem amazing to today's youth and teens that our lives were so filled with adventure.

We didn't have computers, video games or many of the other toys that kids enjoy now.

The great outdoors was our playground. We could be found hanging out in the backyard, playing football in the street or playing freeze tag or Ghosts in the Graveyard after dark in our neighborhood.

It didn't take much to make us happy and we didn't expect someone else to be responsible for making us happy.

We made our own fun and had a blast living life to the fullest. Life rocked when I was little. Come to think of it, life still rocks. Although I'm not a kid anymore, I'm still a kid at heart and always will be.

When I see a giant boulder or a perfect climbing tree, I feel the need to climb it and see how high up I can be. Being king of the world wasn't just for the long ago me.

Adventure is still the name of the game for the me of today.

Life still rocks and I love living it to the fullest and making memories wherever I go and whatever I do.

Until the next memory is made, I'll take what I can get when I can get it and do the best I can to face each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips and a song in my heart.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.