Friday, May 30, 2014

Big Families are the Best

There's a lot to love about being part of a big family. I am the fifth of my parents' eight children. Sandwiched between two brothers, I've always been a tomboy. I'm sure that life was an adventure for my parents when we were growing up. With 19 years between the oldest and youngest, there was always something going on.

The oldest and youngest in our family are girls, as are the three of us in between. Because of the age gap, there aren't many old family photos with all of us girls together. This photo was from my wedding in 1975.

This photo of me with my three brothers was also taken at my wedding reception. I look thrilled to be surrounded by the guys of the family!

We have more photos of the three middle sisters taken over the years than of all five sisters. My sisters Kathy and Debbie live near my parents so we get together more often. My oldest sister Sue lives in Hawaii and my younger sister Nancy is in Arizona so we don't see each other very often. This photo was taken in 2011 and is the newest sisters photo in my collection.

My youngest brother Pat also lives near my parents, but my older brother Bob and my younger brother Mike are both in Colorado. The newest brothers photo was taken in May 2014 when all of us siblings were home at the same time.

In a big family, you always have friends to do stuff with. My three brothers were my closest companions when I was growing up. We rode bikes, climbed trees and got into trouble together.

My three older sisters are close together in age. Sue and Kathy are only a year and a few days apart and Debbie was born a couple of months before Kathy's third birthday.

My sister Nancy was born in Alabama. I was in fifth grade at the time and my oldest sister was in her first year of college. Nancy was like a little doll to the rest of us. My sister Debbie gained lots of mothering experience with Nancy that prepared her to be a mom to her five children.

Older siblings teach you new things and take you along for new adventures. Older siblings have got your back if someone tries to bother you, but older siblings also delight in picking on their younger siblings.

Younger siblings are fun to play with and pick on. It's never quiet in a big family, but that's okay. The more, the merrier is what they say and I agree.

Big families grow even bigger when the kids grow up. This family photo was taken in 1997 with all eight of us kids and most of our kids. Debbie had five children, Bob had four, I had three and our youngest three siblings hadn't yet started families.

By the time of our most recent family gathering in 2004, our family population had exploded. Our parents were the grandparents of 24 grandchildren and had one great-grandson at that time. Our jobs and family commitments and the distance we live from each other make it difficult to find a time that works for all come home at the same time.

We often take pictures of my parents with their grandchildren whenever there's a gathering. Here my parents are posing with their two youngest children's kids. Pat's kids are Zach, Tom, Maddie, Katie and Marcus. Nancy's kids are Jordan and Nathan.

Even though my parents' grandkids don't all live close to each other, they love spending time together when they visit. My sister Debbie's youngest daughter Becca is close in age to our youngest siblings' kids. In this photo, Becca poses with Pat's kids and Mike's three kids: Sydney, Nick and Tyler.

As adults, we enjoy spending time together. Seven of the eight of us came home in December 2007 to celebrate a belated Christmas with our parents.

My parents' grandchildren and great-grandchildren who were in town posed for this photo. It's hard to get everyone to look at the camera and even harder to keep the boys from making faces.

Big families really shine during special occasions and events. We were all on hand for our sister Nancy's wedding in 1994. Like many big families, the older siblings in our family helped raise our younger siblings.

Our parents did a great job raising the eight of us. Mom always said that she raised us to be individuals, not peas in a pod. Mom and Dad set wonderful examples for us, teaching us to love one another and to help others. Big families are the best!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

10 Things the Grownup Me Misses

Growing up isn't always all it's cracked up to be. Kids don't know how easy they have it in life. By the time you become a grownup, it's too late to enjoy the freedom, joy and pleasure of being a kid. As a kid, you can hang upside down and act goofy and nobody notices.

If someone had told the little kid me to enjoy the simple pleasures of being a kid, I probably would have laughed at them. We were kids of the '60s who made our own fun with simple objects like this box.

A generation later, my three kids made their own fun with a box. Looking at this photo brings back memories of an era gone by, when kids could be carefree with no worries.

Here are 10 things the grownup me misses about the carefree days of my childhood. Although some of these may still be options, others are off-limits until my back heals completely.

The 10-year-old me loved riding my bike with no hands. The grownup me isn't quite as brave, or foolish if you prefer. This photo was taken before my back injury, but hopefully I'll be back on a bike again soon.

The 10-year-old me loved swinging as high as I could, then jumping out of the swing. The grownup me found this swing hanging from a tree at Percival's Island several years ago. I was thrilled to enjoy swinging, but didn't jump out.

The kid me didn't realize how luck I was to be living with my siblings. My older sister Debbie was my roommate for most of my life. My older brother Butch taught me all of the tomboy tricks I know. I was blessed with seven siblings and I really miss being under the same roof together.

One of the neat things about being a little kid is eating from plates and bowls with cute designs. Eating from my Rudolph plate made every meal fun.

Catching lightning bugs was one of the many things we did late at night. Summer days were endless, but summer nights were even better. We played outside in our yard or neighborhood until late at night.

I wish I had a photo of some of the forts we built in the woods, but I don't. Building forts in the woods was one of the ways kids of the '60s spent their time.

There's a good reason for the fence surrounding the Angel Oak Tree on St. John's Island near Charleston, S.C. Climbing trees was one of my favorite things to do as a kid. This might be the best ever climbing tree.

As kids, we spent endless summer days riding bikes, at the pool or playing outside. We had a tetherball pole, swing sets and basketball goal in the back yard and life was good.

One of the things I didn't know to appreciate as a kid was having no worries about anything, especially money. As a child, I held seven 100-dollar bills when my parents payed off their mortgage. As an adult, having direct deposit means I've rarely held my own 100-dollar bills.

When I saw this necklace, I took a photo of it because it reminded me of the carefree days of childhood. Doing What I Want When I Want If I Want is the motto of toddlers everywhere and I was no different. My Mom told me that she rounded me up from dancing on the dining room table in the middle of the night when I was a toddler.

Although I love the life I live now and love being a wife, mom and grandma, I miss the carefree days of my childhood. Kids have it made, but they just don't realize it until they are grownups.

Until the next time, 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.