Monday, March 30, 2009

Fifteen Years and Counting

I met his friends before I met him. Tiffany invited me and my 3-year-old son over for a BBQ with the gang. She knew I didn't get out much and she wanted me to meet some new people. Jeff (The Macster) was grilling the food and was trying to get a count of people to purchase the steaks. Tiffany told him, "Gina will have a steak but Heath will probably just want a hotdog." Jeff was assuming that "Heath" was my boyfriend and was thinking that this guy must be a weirdo! I think he was pretty surprised when I showed up with my little man.

That same summer, Tiff talked me into going out with the girls one evening. While waiting for her to get around, I browsed through her boyfriend's yearbooks. Nonchalantly, I pointed to a guy in one of the pictures and said, "He's cute." I could just see the wheels in her mind start turning, "Oh my God! He's coming to school here this year! You've got to meet him! Oh my God! You'll love each other!" Whooaaaa! Slow it down... The idea of a blind date was pretty scary to this single mom.

But, a blind date is exactly what Tiff and Macster arranged. My first date with Todd (the tall, dark, and handsome guy from the yearbook) was dinner at the bar in Moscow, a shed party with the locals, and hot-tubbing at my parents home. The next day Mac took us up in his plane for a private tour of Southwestern Kansas.

When school started back up a couple of weeks later, Todd was quick to call and set up another date. With our common friends and instant compatibility, everyone knew that we were a good match. Even Heath seemed to fit very easily into the gang (otherwise known as the Scrue). He became known as "The Boy", a nickname that Todd still uses for him today.

One day in the Spring of 1993, Todd got a pen and piece of paper to write out a contract. I didn't know what he was up to and he wouldn't let me read it until he was finished. It turned out to be a signed statement that I, Gina, would not tell anyone that we were going ring shopping that day! That Fourth of July weekend when we were visiting Hugoton he asked my father if he could marry me. Then he officially asked me at my parent's home.

The night before our wedding, the boys went to Liberal for a Bachelor Party. Todd was staying at Jeremy's (his best man) home. Jer had a big beautiful German Shepard named Shadow that we all loved. Macster and Jack got themselves in a little trouble that night with Liberal's Finest when they "considered" relieving themselves in the public fountain on Main Street. Thank goodness the judge believed the "considered" part! (I'll never forget that they came home from college to fight the charge and, when they won, celebrated with ice cream from the DQ!) The boys had a great time and a late night. When they got back to Jer's house, though, my wedding ring was missing! Immediately an extensive search took place resulting in the discovery of a chewed up ring case. Shadow had apparently mistaken it for a new chew toy. I can just picture the boys crowded around as Todd opened it up to find that my ring was somehow still inside and in perfect condition. That ring box is in my top drawer to this day. The next afternoon Todd married a couple of people...both me and Heath.

Taking on a child was a huge responsibility and I'm sure it was very scary. I remember watching "Tool Time" one evening and Al was babysitting the Taylor children. The next day he told Tim that it was challenging because he hadn't experienced the bonding that took place in those first few months and years of life. Todd just blurted out something like, "That's it! I missed that part! I feel just like Al!" I know it wasn't always easy. By June we were expecting our first baby together.

Tana was three when we found that we were going to become parents once more. The sonogram was scheduled but Todd was going to have to miss it because he needed to get to Satanta for Macster's Bachelor Party! I told him to go ahead. In those early sonograms you can't see much anyway. But we were surprised when Baby A and Baby B both had their first pictures taken. There was NO WAY I was telling Todd this over the phone! That afternoon I drove down to Satanta, sat my husband down at Mac's folks' house, and gave him the news. He was ecstatic! Everyone was.

With the twins came a very, very busy schedule. Actually, just the fact that we had four children kept us busy. The next several years were filled with kids' activities, the monotany of daily routines, and a constant quest for more sleep. But Todd was always up for this challenge, working hard all day and coming home to help me in the evenings.

In the last few years, Heath has left for college and then the Navy. Tana has turned into a young lady. Andy and Annie have hit "double digits." (This quote from Annie on their last birthday, "Now we're all in double digits, Mom!") The schedule is still busy but the kids' needs are no longer as demanding. I notice Todd enjoying teaching his kids to cook, taking Tana to learn to drive, and showing our children in general how a good father raises his kids.

This month, on March 12, we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. Heath called the other day and Todd came in with the phone saying, "It's the Boy!" He's enjoying so much seeing the man that Heath has become, the man that he helped raise.

Thanks Tiff. Thanks Mac. Your little blind date gave me a beautiful family...a beautiful life. I'll always be grateful for this Todd.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Day of Terror

It was summer. I've always enjoyed my summers with the kids so much. This summer had been particularly fun because Tana was getting ready to start Kindergarten, could ride her own bike (with training wheels), and was a heck of a swimmer. The twins were at an adorable age--18 months. The Greeley County Swimming Pool had a zero-entry smaller pool for little ones. We had a double stroller that I was trying to wear out with long walks every single evening. Our little summer routine was perfect.

Tana was usually the first one up after Dad went to work. She was never very demanding--usually just content to turn on some cartoons until mom got up. With the twins still in cribs, mom usually had to get up fairly early. Thank goodness for long summer afternoon naps!

Heath was not home on this day. In July, starting when Heath was fairly young, he would go out to Hugoton to "help" Grandpa with wheat harvest. I know that Heath cherishes these memories of farming with Grandpa. This tradition continued throughout Heath's high school years.

With the baby monitor next to my bed, I slept pretty light and woke either because Tana came to tell me "good morning" or one of the twins had made some noise indicating they were awake. I came upstairs and peeked in on the twins. Sure enough, Annie was standing there holding on to the side of her crib, ready to be swooped up and loved. She was so sweet with curly brown hair and that dimple. I took her to the changing table and, while I was changing her into a fresh diaper, I glanced at Andy. Apparently he had just woke because he was still lying down but his eyes were open.

I picked up Andy and took him over to the table. Now I was juggling them both. When I finished changing him, I had one snuggled into each arm and walked into the family room. Tana starting asking me something, I was trying to round stuff up for breakfast, Annie was holding on, and I realized that Andy was slipping out of my arm. Silly boy, he was old enough to hold himself up while I multi-tasked! As I adjusted to get him in a more comfortable position, I really looked at him. The morning had been so busy that I had been distracted and never really gave Andy a good look. His eyes were glazed over, he was NOT holding on to me, and he was drooling.

I felt like I had been punched in the gut. After running back into the living room, I sat both him and Annie down. Andy fell over. Tana has always been very attentive and knew right away that something was going on. I don't know what words were coming out of my mouth. I'm sure I was trying to will Andy to snap out of it.

Immediately I ran to the phone and dialed 911. Then hung up. This was not happening. Nothing was wrong. I was over-reacting. With the phone in my hand and Tana watching, I sat Andy up again and begged him to be okay. I will never forget Tana saying, "He's okay, mommy. Nothing's wrong. He's okay." She was willing it to be true also. I called 911.

When the dispatcher answered, I told her that Andy was unresponsive. That's all I remember saying. It is a small town and everyone knows everyone. At that time we lived 2 blocks from the hospital and about 4 blocks from the courthouse. The Sheriff was at our home within seconds.

With all of us still in our pajamas, I had made it out to the garage. I was asking myself, "Why didn't you just drive him to the hospital?" The Sheriff took Andy from my arms and asked me if he was still breathing. Still breathing?! Well, of course he was still breathing! Honestly I'd never thought about him NOT breathing. My brain was not functioning properly. Andy's lips were turning blue. I'll bet a minute had not gone by when the ambulance got to the house. Immediately they took my son and sped to the hospital. I ran in the house, pulled on sweats, slipped on some flip flops, grabbed the girls, and sped after them.

Things are a little fuzzy from here on out. If you've ever been through anything this frightening, you probably know that time no longer holds any significance. It just does not move at normal speed. Your brain must pick and choose what it will process because the bulk of it is in a panic. I know that every wonderful doctor in our attached clinic was there, though. I remember seeing someone give Andy shots and he didn't even flinch. His little body just laid there on that hospital gurney. His oxygen level was down in the 70s.

I told someone that I needed to call Todd. We didn't have cell phones back then. It's amazing how quickly the area filled with concerned people. News travels so fast in a small town. I called Todd at work and one of his employees got him. When he picked up I said, "Something is wrong with Andy. We're at the hospital." He never answered me. He was gone. Later when we talked about it, he said he knew from my voice that something terrible had happened. He had just ran out to his pickup and sped into town as fast as he could drive. It was only 12 miles. He was probably there with 7 or 8 minutes...but during that few minutes I understand that I asked people around me, "Where is Todd? Why isn't he here yet"" several times. I remember someone saying, "Gina, you just called him." I couldn't believe that. Time was so messed up.

A mother of two of my students was there. She worked at the courthouse and had immediately come over when she heard something was wrong. Her daughter, Crystal, had just babysat the kids the day before. She hugged me and said, "It's going to be okay." I lost it. I remember yelling at her, "NO! It's NOT okay! Did you see him? He's NOT okay!" I've often reflected on that and realize that it was finally at this point that I let myself accept that this was really happening...that something was terribly wrong with my Andy.

Crystal also got there quickly and I remember quizzing her about anything the kids might've gotten into the day before. We just had no idea what was happening--or why. Had he gotten into something poisonous? Andy was always putting things in his mouth. Had he had a seizure? What was going on? How were we supposed to counteract it if we didn't know what it was? I know that she was also terrified.

God had us in Tribune for a reason. I firmly believe that Andy was in the best possible hands on this day with Dr. Bob Moser, Dr. Wendel Ellis, and Kathy Bangerter. Truly, they saved my son's life. Not just these doctors, but the quick response of the Sheriff Steve Schmidt, the EMTs, and the hospital staff. God had sent angels to watch over my child.

Reinforcements from Garden City were called. When the doctors felt Andy was stable enough, I rode in the ambulance with him for the 90 miles to this larger town. By the time we got there, Andy was more responsive and his oxygen level was back up to a safe level. I don't think the doctors there ever believed what we had been through. They could find no evidence that anything was wrong with Andy.

With so many unanswered questions, believe me when I say that I didn't sleep soundly. Within weeks, we took Andy to a Neurologist in Denver. It was decided that he must've had a seizure. However, the tests indicated that Andy had never had a seizure. Still we had no answers.

It took months and months for us to sleep soundly again. Often in the middle of night, I would enter the twins room and feel there little heartbeats and warm breath on my fingers. If they were ever too still, I would wake them.

To this day, we don't know what happened to Andy that morning. What we have been told is that if I had slept a little longer that morning, Andy would've been a SIDS baby. His body was just, for some unknown reason, shutting down. God had other plans.

Today Andy is 10. He's the smartest ten-year-old I've ever met, actually. He has this incredible understanding of things and a hilariously witty sense of humor. I can't imagine life without him.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Visiting the Arch

When Heath joined the Navy we were able to take the whole family to St. Louis to witness the "swearing in" ceremony at a St. Louis Cardinals game since Heath was part of the "Cardinal Company." We knew that this experience would be something that his little brother and sisters would never forget. Watching the respect that was shown to these boys and their families was pretty moving.

Since we were making this long drive, we decided to make a mini-vacation out of it. While in St. Louis we took the kids to Union Station, the Arch, and yes, the Budweiser Brewery--we had to take Annie to see those Clydesdales.
The Arch is a beautiful and interesting monument. A museum at the base has extensive information on Lewis and Clark. But like most visitors, we were most excited about riding to the top. We purchased our tickets and got in line.

There are 4 or 5 little cars that are hooked together so that they all can be pulled up to the top. These cars are extremely tiny. In fact, people with claustrophobia are warned prior to entering. The cars will hold up to five and there were five of us--Todd, Tana, Andy, Annie, and me. So, we piled into our little car where we here knee to knee, shoulder to shoulder, and hunched over to keep our heads from hitting the rounded ceiling. After our door was shut, I told the kids that nobody better fart. Then I jokingly told them that if someone did, when we got out we should all place the blame on Dad with our disapproving looks. We shared a good laugh...and then started up.

Once we got to the top and climbed out, we all enjoyed the view of St. Louis. It really is an amazing view. The room up there is fairly small--long and narrow. There are rows of windows along both sides with a short carpeted wall that slants outward. This allows you to lean forward and look out the windows, giving you a strange airborne sensation. The kids looked out every which way and we pointed out different landmarks to them.

After a while, I decided to go ask the attendant on the departing side of this small room when the next "train" would be going down. As I walked between and among the 15 to 20 other people milling around up there to get to the attendant, I found myself engulfed in a horrible stench. Someone in that small, poorly-vented space had passed gas.
Being a proper lady, I pretended not to notice and proceeded to ask my question. The attendant let me know that it would be just a few minutes. As I turned around, there was Annie. Annie was 8 at the time and, apparently, not as concerned about being a proper young lady. I'm sure she also had the little joke I'd made on the way up at the forefront of her mind as the the smell hit her and I was directly in front of her. So she loudly convicted me, asking "Mom! Why did you fart?!" I didn't let myself look around as that would imply guilt. Instead I smiled and very calmy said in a patronizing voice, "Annie, I didn't." However, she immediately, and loudly, replied, "Yes you did!" I looked around. I wasn't going to argue with Annie over this topic and needed to see what the damage was. The first person I looked at was the attendant, a young man. He was looking right at me and dryly said, "That's quite pungent." I can't even imagine what look I had on my face at this point.

I grabbed Annie and we went to the rest of our family. As we got in place to get in our little car to go back down, I relayed the story through my laughter. On the way down, we were in hysterics. Between the laughs and the tears, Annie did receive a scolding for saying such a thing in public. I'm sure it was hard to take me seriously, though. We all decided that the smart-mouthed attendant was probably the actual culprit!

About a year after this event, however, Tana admitted to the crime. Little stinker!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Daughter, My Princess

What a great day. After sleeping in (until 12:45!) I got around and took Tana out to goof off.

This week the twins are visiting my parents so Tana will get some very rare "alone" time with Dad and Mom. We started taking advantage of it as soon as we got back from dropping Andy and Annie off. Our special week together began with a late dinner at Napoli's then the movie, Just My Luck, that features her favourite (yes, I intentionally spelled that the British way!) band, McFly.
When Tana was born, Heath was almost 7. He was thrilled to have a baby sister. Up until this point, he had been an only child. Although it was an adjustment for him, there were enough years between the two that sibling rivalry was never an issue. I have some very precious pictures of Heath holding Tana. He looks so proud.

Tana was a gorgeous baby--absolutely gorgeous. She was born with the platinum blond hair that she still has today. We were so surprised when this very straight hair became curly a few years ago. Her eyes were a very definite and striking color of blue. Now, however, they are an incredible green shade with multi-colored flecks. But her most interesting feature was certainly her button nose. Where in the world did this come from? I remember laughing that you could see right up her nose because it was so turned cute.

My Principal at the time, Jenny, came by to see Tana and told me that her daughter (one of my students) had told her mother that, "That baby is an angel, Mom. Really, she looks like an angel!" I doubt that Amanda remembers telling her mother that, but I will never forget her mother telling it to me. My volleyball team even threw the baby shower for her. What a special group of girls. I loved it when they "oohed" and "aahed" over her. Now when they see her picture on FaceBook, they can't believe how grown up she is!

Tana was certainly our little princess. I'm sure Heath would even agree. We all doted on her. At the age of 8 months, she was wanting to walk. She would stand up and hold onto things and take steps. By 9 months, she was walking without holding anything. It was amazing--yet so strange to see such a little baby walking around.

We moved to Tribune when Tana was a year old. She quickly learned to maneuver the steps in our bi-level home. Tandy, our boxer, was her pal. Tana could hug, climb, and maul that dog. We realized, though, that we made a mistake in naming our dog and our daughter such similar names. After calling Todd's grandma to tell her about an upcoming weekend visit, we got a call from Todd's mom. Grandma had called her to ask why in the world we would be planning to leave our baby home alone in the backyard for the weekend! Oh my...

The summer that Tana was three, I managed the Greeley County Swimming Pool. We spent many, many hours at the pool. Heath already loved to swim and Tana really learned to love it that summer. By the end of July, she could swim well and was allowed to go off the boards. Mom spent that summer growing...with the twins due in January.

On Halloween I got put on bedrest. Tana loved having me home even if I wasn't supposed to do much. She got to sleep in and play in her own house all day. Those were some special weeks with my daughter. It didn't last long, however. The twins came 5 weeks early on December 4. Tana had no idea how much her life would change.

Honestly, I had no idea how much the twins arrival would affect my little princess. All of a sudden Dad and Mom were busy, busy, busy with two new babies. We were exhausted. Heath was old enough to be involved in multiple activities so we were constantly dragging the kids everywhere. I remember noticing her personality changing but feeling incapable to do anything to stop it. It was a tough adjustment for my Sugar Pie...a very tough adjustment.

Tana has always loved the twins...she just missed the attention that she had gotten used to as the baby.

I remember Heath's friends in high school being annoyed with her when she was between 9 and 11 years old. They didn't want her bothering them. I used to laugh and say, "One day you'll come visit Heath when you are all home from college and Tana will walk in the room and you'll be sorry you weren't nicer to her!" They would all insist that this would never happen. Hmmmm...when Heath is home next month and his friends come to town, it will be interesting to see their reactions.

She has always been smart. Her fifth grade teacher told me once that Tana was the kid that all of the others wanted to be friends with because she was so nice to everyone and didn't participate in the "mean girl" stuff that starts happening at about that age. Thankfully, Tana has never been sucked into this destructive behavior that many girls succumb to...however, I'm sure she has been a victim of it.

Our move to Salina was hard on her. In a paper she wrote this year, she described the move as very difficult especially during the already awkward years of early junior high. Actually, this move was hard on all of us and I was wrapped up so tightly in my own concerns that I didn't realize how much she struggled during this time.

However, we found the right neighborhood, church, friends, and school. Tana blossomed and Tana became a young lady...a witty, smart, gorgeous, loveable, Christian, healthy, happy, fun-loving young lady.

Over the last several months, my daughter and I have felt more at home in our new city with our new lives. We are getting to experience again the very strong connection that we had when she was so tiny. It's funny that music helped bridge this gap. As I read over my blog posts, I guess it shouldn't surprise me. Music, obviously, is strongly connected to my emotions and relationships. As I started to listen more to her music (McFly) she started to listen more to mine (Elvis, Bruce, and a multitude of Hair Bands). My opinion started mattering to her. We began to work out together. Secrets were shared. Private jokes were started. Plus, we could sing along to each other's music.

So today, the second day of her special week alone with Dad and Mom, we enjoyed a late lunch together and then some shopping. I'm not talking about grocery shopping or toilet paper shopping, just fun browsing for nothing in particular. I got a ring stuck on my finger at Kohl's and we both had to bend over from giggling so hard. When I finally worked it off and put it back on the display case, it was smothered in lotion. We stopped at Sonic for large cherry limeades. We hit the mall to pick up her new contacts. Lastly we stopped by Merle Norman to select some of our favorite over-priced makeup and fight over the "free" gifts.

But, it wasn't so much what we did but how we did it. We laughed a lot today. But I was also able to give her some serious advice on the challenges of being a teenage girl. She listened to me share some things that I went through when I was younger...things that I hadn't shared before. I love the way she says, "Oh Dear!" rather than choosing other less tasteful expletives.

Am I my daughter's friend? No, I'm her mother. I will always love her, listen to her, cry with her, and laugh with her...but I will also hold her accountable and have high expectations of her. She is really something. She's growing up so fast. Spending time with her now makes me feel like the princess.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Legend: The Babysitting Fiasco

Like most preteen girls, I did my fair share of babysitting. I didn't particularly like it. Often I found myself scared to death because my mind would get carried away with thoughts of ghosts or potential burglars, not to mention Michael or Jason (think Halloween and Friday the 13th)! So, I would tuck the kids in and turn the TV to something funny...then hope that the parents got home before the station shut down for the night. Some of you might not realize that we haven't always had 24/7 TV!

Back then my parents took part in a square dancing club. The four of us girls were fortunate enough to be included in this excitement. My dress was yellow gingham. I remember that Gary Wallace's parents also made him participate. We were just thrilled that our parents found it so cute when we would square dance with them. I also remember that the Harper kids were often there, however, Tom and Darlene didn't make them dance! On this particular night, the Nichols didn't have a babysitter to watch their two boys during the square dance, so my parents asked me to do it. I must've been in about the 6th grade.

I had a good time with their little boys that night. I remember reading to them and getting them tucked into their beds. With the Nichols out with my parents, I knew I was in for a late night. So, I curled up on the couch and found something funny to watch...I think it was Improv. And then I fell asleep.

Back then I was a pretty hard sleeper. During this little nap, I dreamt that I was playing with my best friend, Charla. This caused me to be confused when something woke me. With the thoughts of Charla still in my mind, I had in my head that I was spending the night with her and was dismayed that I had fallen asleep while still in my school clothes. So, I took them off and started looking for my suitcase to change into my pajamas. There I was, stumbling around in my skivvies and searching the front room for my stuff, when headlights in the drive jarred me back to reality.

It is at this point that the following thoughts went through my mind: 1) This isn't Charla's house! 2) I'm babysitting two young boys! 3) I'm naked! 4) The parents are home!

Now I had to make a decision. I knew I didn't have time to get my clothes on before they came in the house. Where do I go to get dressed without being seen?! With the obvious choice being the bathroom, I ran straight to the kitchen. My mind was just not yet running on all cylinders.

When the parents came in the door, Judy entered the kitchen and yelled, "Eldon, don't come in here!" That poor woman helped me get dressed while I rambled on through my sobbing about my dream and thinking I was at Charla's and trying to find my pajamas.

I don't remember how I got home that night...whether my folks picked me up or Judy drove me home. I was pretty traumatized! But I know that they never, EVER, asked me to babysit again.

My entire family still enjoys bringing up my "Adventure in Babysitting" during family gatherings. I have to wonder if the Nichols also enjoy telling the story of coming home to find the naked babysitter.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Legend: Short Stories--Cones and Cowbells

Some of the "Legends" from my childhood can be told in just a couple of sentences. So, I've grouped several of these together. Again, these are stories that are legendary from my childhood and repeated often at family gatherings.
We often used to go to Amarillo to enjoy a family weekend. Dad and Mom always got a nice hotel with an indoor pool and other family amenities. My mother was raised to dress well and on this weekend was wearing a new suede jacket. She has always been a beautiful and classy woman. While walking across the pool area to get to the on-site restaurant, Mom noticed a body floating face-down in the hot tub. Without even thinking, she jumped in to pull the limp body out. However, the kid was nearly scared to death when this crazy woman interrupted his relaxing swim by yanking him out of the water.
Actually, I'm not sure who was more scared...but I do know who was most entertained. The pool area was FULL of people, not to mention the restaurant that opened into this area so that diner's could watch their children frolick in the water. It all happened so fast that I just remember hearing a SPLASH and looking over to see my mother fully-clothed in the hot tub. She was so angry that we were laughing...


Before my parents bought a van, they had a pickup with a topper. Although we can't imagine having our children ride back there in this day and age, that's how we went on vacation back then. Seatbelts were not required. We would just fill up the bed of the pickup with blankets, pillows, books, and stuffed animals then put on the topper and we were ready to hit the road. But the topper was also handy for trips around town when you had more people than you had seats.

On this occasion, my Uncle Dean was in town from Washington state. For some reason (I don't know if they were forced into it by my Mom and Aunt or if they had the idea on their own) they decided to take the kids to the Jet Drive-In for ice cream cones. So, they hopped in the front of the pickup and us kids (all SEVEN of us) piled into the bed of the truck. After picking up the cones, we started back toward the house.

An interesting fact about Hugoton is that it was built with a drainage system that includes canals. We loved the canals as kids because they made a great place to skateboard and ride our bikes. Not to mention that when it rained, we had a blast playing in the fast-moving water. Dad's shed was right beside the entrance to the canal (where water would drain from the roads into this system) and it was just a short couple of blocks from the house. On this particular day, that entrance to the canal called my father's name. In a split second, he realized how fun it would be to drive through the canal, up and down the slopes, with his brother and all of us kids in tow. Wow...just like a roller coaster.....with ice cream cones! You can just imagine this mess.

I can't resist throwing in a quote from The Wedding Singer here: "They were cones!" LOL!


We had a little Honda XR75. Actually, Dad still has this little motorcycle and we still enjoy riding it! But we all had little bumps in the road to error-free riding...including the time (probably the same weekend with the ice cream cones above) that Mom and Aunt Janice were sitting on lawn chairs in the yard watching the older kids ride. As they chatted, Casy headed toward them...and kept slowing down...and coming...still not slowing... And finally, "She's not stopping!" and the two women bailed out of their chairs right before being plowed over because Casy forgot where the brake was!

We used to go to Clark County Lake often with the Suttons. Bill loved to fish. That is the thing I remember most about him along with his trademark sideburns and mustache. On this particular trip, I decided to climb the hill by the campsite. I think I was in the first grade and I remember how hard that hike was and how high it seemed. I got to the top and was thrilled at the view but when I looked down, I froze. This was the first time I realized that I was scared of heights. After trying to coax me down for quite a while, Dad or Bill came up and carried me down. That hill was known in our little circle from then on as "Gina's Mountain" as name by Bill Sutton.


When Lisa was little, mom and dad couldn't keep track of her. She was a climber (on the roof, top of the swingset, in trees) and an adventurer. When we would go somewhere, we would often lose Lisa. So...they bought a cowbell and put it around her neck on a purple leather strap. I wonder what in the world strangers thought when they saw this stray child running around with a cowbell clanging around her neck! I didn't think it was weird at all. All you had to do was listen for the DONG DONG DONG and you could find her. My folks had some innovative parenting techniques!