Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mostromisms Part II

Besides just having names for things, my family also has phrases that were commonly used. Heath posted one of these on his return home to San Diego after his recent visit. I'll start with that one.
Home Again, Home Again Jiggity Jig: Any time we went somewhere, when we returned my parents would say this. I'm not sure if this was a Mostrom thing or something that came from my mother, a Phifer. Without even thinking about it, when we return home from a trip I say this to my own children. It actually comes from a little nursery rhyme that I never heard until I was grown.
Skin the Rabbit: When we were very young and Mother would help us undress, she would have us raise our hands in the air. As she pulled our shirt or dress over our head, she would say, "Skin the Rabbit!" Again...I'm not sure if this originally came from my Mom or Dad. Of course, by the time I had my own children it had been many years since my Mother had helped me undress. But the words out of my mouth were always--Skin the Rabbit! One day the kids and I got to talking about this phrase and I realized just how GROSS this saying actually is... especially since I've witnessed a rabbit being skinned. It's not a pleasant sight!

Do you realize that my fist is bigger than your whole face? My Dad used to hold up his fist near our face and say this when we were being belligerent as children and young ladies. Never do I remember my father raising a hand to any of us, so this was always said in jest. If we had really done something that called for correction, we all agree that Dad just had to give us "the look" that said he was disappointed. Then we crumbled...

Pitiful: My Mother's favorite singer is definitely Elvis. All of us girls spent hours and hours listening to the King sing from the "Music Room" (that eventually became my bedroom). Whether Mom was cleaning house, exercising, or enjoying a visit from a friend, Elvis kept her company. Dad, of course, was a little jealous. Elvis was not called "The King" by my Dad, he was called, "Pitiful." For example, one might've heard my father say, "Do you want to listen to Pitiful?" or "Is your Mother listening to Pitiful again?"

Gary and the Girls: We had a full size van that was used for family outings and vacations. Wow...we had lots of great times in that van. In fact, from the top of the World Trade Center in New York City we looked down at it and joked that it was probably getting broken into--then when we got down, it HAD been broken into! The leather tire cover was custom-made for my parents and read, "Gary and the Girls." I remember Dad complaining as we were driving down the road that young men would be straining to look in. It took us a while to realize that their idea of Gary and the Girls was not a father, mother, and young daughters!

Boz: My Dad's friends have always referred to him as "Boz." My sisters and I have asked before where this nickname orginated and, of course, we've heard some pretty far-fetched stories from his friends and brothers. Maybe he's just had this nickname for so long that nobody even remembers anymore where it started. When we got older, we used to ask Dad why the van didn't say something like "Boz and the Babes!"

Slop the Hogs: My parents often work together in the kitchen and they also did so when we were young. Usually when a meal was ready, my Dad would round us up for dinner by hollering, "It's time to slop the hogs!" or "Let's slop the hogs!" Again, this was something we heard so often we never even thought about it being so RUDE until we were older.

Oh some point I will need to work on some of our own Tylerisms. One just never knows what might come out of Todd's mouth!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


It's funny how when you are growing up, there are things that your family does that you don't realize are unique to just your family. Here are some of them for the Mostroms.

Silverbars: We had a swingset in the backyard that was homemade. Someone hand-welded thick pipe together and added the attachments for swings and even a glider. It was then painted silver. So, we called them the "silverbars". On the playground at school I wonder if my friends ever thought it strange that I would say, "Let's go play on the silverbars!" To me, it was another word for swingset. I spent hours on this thing growing up. In fact, there are lots of pictures of me as a little toe-headed toddler riding a swinging horse and grinning from ear to ear. They just don't make them like that anymore.

Pig: I don't know how this got started, but the absolute filthiest thing that we could call each other growing up was "pig." Mom said later that since we thought it was a dirty word, in her book it was a dirty word. When we used it, she knew we were cussing each other, and we got in BIG trouble. Isn't it interesting how words can provoke such emotion?

Gudgurl: This one started when I was very young, in fact, probably before I was even born while Mom was potty training Casy and Susan. When we would succeed in pooping in the toilet, Mom would exclaim, "Good girl!" or "That's a good girl!" We didn't realize that our mother was praising us for saving her from cleaning up a mess. Instead, we thought she was telling us the name of this nasty stuff--and that she was excited about it! For years I thought "gudgurl" was a nice name for poop. As in "I need to gudgurl." My mom thought it was cute, and that this sounded much better than the alternative.

Bud Buddies: Dad and Mom always had lots of friends who were always lots of fun. One of these couples was Ron and Gloria White. Each couple had three daughters and soon each had a fourth. It was an interesting coincidence and one that led to lots of shared time together as families. Their girls (in order by age) are Barbara, Brenda, Kelly, and Kristi. Kelly and Casy were the same age and so were Kristi and Lisa. Brenda and Susan were pretty close in age and had similar personalities. When we met them, however, I was very young so I was always paired up with Barbara who probably had to keep an eye on me. The were our "Bud Buddies". I'm not sure where the term came from but it is what we always called each other. Ron's girls were still growing up when he died suddenly from a massive heart attack and Gloria never remarried after losing the love of her life.

Gary's Polka: My Grandpa Mostrom (Grandpapa) played the accordian by ear. This is a complicated instrument with many strange keys and a very large, awkward size. Once he heard a song, he could play it. As a child I didn't realize what a unique and special gift this was. When he and Grandmama were young, they played dance after dance with her on the trapset. One of the songs they played was "Gary's Polka". Gary is my father and this song was written and played solely for him. To us, this was just another fun polka that my Grandparents would play. Although we have old recordings of them playing it, I often wish I could hear it live once more.

Stirrin' Stick: Dad was a farmer. All of us spent time helping him with different tasks in the fields. One of the more time-consuming ones was "changing water". Before pivot irrigation, we would load aluminum pipe on a trailer and it would take three of us (a driver and two pipe-movers) to lay the pipe to water the fields. These pipes had gates on them that could be opened and closed as needed to sufficiently water each row. What a chore this was! Often the gates needed replacing, the pipes stubbornly wouldn't fit together easily, and little animals (from rabbits to snakes) would be inside. Once laid, the water was started and would make it's way from one end of the field to the other. Later, Dad would "check water" which meant that he drove along the other side and listed the rows that needed more water and the rows that were fully watered. We would then go back out with a "stirrin' stick" to close and open gates as needed.

Opening these little gates by hand would be silly. Besides the fact that they were often very tight and hard to move, you never knew what little critter may be down there! The tool that I most often used to complete this task was simply a golf putter. Dad had several thrown in the back of the pickup. But THE "stirrin' stick" was an old tractor tire iron--perfectly rounded to conform nicely to the shape of the pipe. This was a precious tool to my father. To this day it hangs in his shed, a reminder of all of the time he spent walking through his turnrows and tending his land.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Wedding Reception

What a great weekend. It was amazing having my whole family—parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews—in Salina to help us celebrate! Wow…it is so hard to get everyone together. Plus, it was Caitie’s prom so everyone got to see her all dolled up.

The whole Greenway clan was able to come with the exception of Jeffrey’s family. It certainly felt like a reunion! It meant so much to Heath to have all of us together to celebrate such an important event in his life.

My favorite moments…

*As Heath and Stefannie were enjoying the first dance of the evening (I Love the Way You Love Me by John Michael Montgomery), the little ones started circling them on the dance floor. I thought it was so sweet to see them looking up with big grins at the happy couple—and then they whipped out Silly String and blasted them! I didn’t even see it coming! They were covered with the stuff. Immediately afterwards, Stefannie yelled, “Gina, this had to be YOUR idea!” Well, it wasn’t. Stef soon made it a priority to solve this little mystery. All fingers eventually pointed Tiff and Seresa. I should’ve known! When Stef asked them, they simply said, “Welcome to the Scrue!”

*Brooke’s middle child is an amazing dancer! Hmmmm…must be from her dad’s side. ;)

*One of Heath’s best friends was diagnosed with cancer right after high school. He graduated one year before my son. I remember Heath making the trip to take him for treatments in Denver at least once during his senior year. We were so scared. Josh came from Nebraska to celebrate with Heath, bringing a sweet girlfriend. He looked GREAT! Several times during the evening, he danced with this old lady. Two and a half years have passed without cancer now. It’s been a rough road. It amazes me that he has traveled it with such strength and grace. With such a tender heart, it should be no surprise that he and Heath have a close bond.

*It’s 10:30 Sunday night and Stef’s best friend from Michigan, Candace, is still in bed! I asked them if they made sure she was breathing…lightweight.

*When the evening was winding down, Brooke rounded up her family, said her “goodbyes”, and headed for the door...and then Paradise by the Dashboard Light (Meatloaf) came on and THAT plan went out the window! She made a beeline for the dance floor! I thoroughly enjoyed singing and dancing with my old friend. It’s been too long. In that 5 minutes, the last 25 years disappeared. There we were…in her basement, strobe light flashing, and giggling like little girls. Priceless.

*Aubrey (my niece) caught the bouquet while Josh caught the garter.

*Keegan, another one of Heath’s high school friends, also made the trip. I hadn’t seen this young man since graduation. At some point late in the evening, Keegan just walked right up to me and handed me his keys as if to say, “Here they are, Mom. Get me home safely.” I laughed and pocketed them. Good choice.

*Lisa and Kris know EVERY WORD to Ice, Ice Baby! Hey….DORK!

*Chad is a pretty quiet guy. As the boys were growing up, we got to know this laid back, red-necked, big-hearted kid. In fact, when I took Heath to his first concert (Aerosmith!), Chad came with us. He was in rare form last night! I didn’t know Chad HAD those dance moves! I had the pleasure of dancing with him to several different songs. He would just find me every now and then and say, “Come on Little Momma Tyler!” We found this so funny because the boys used to call me “Big Momma Tyler” when they were in high school…but Chad knows that I’ve been working hard on my health and fitness. As we sat at the table today watching video from last night, we had to back up several times to repeatedly watch him doing the “worm”. His comment was, “Now that’s a big worm.” I think he was hurting today…

*Mike and Jess were our DJs. They were perfect! It was great to have our own music to dance to—everything from the Cha, Cha Slide to Jerry Lee Lewis to 80s hair bands to Jump Around! Very cool….thanks guys!

*My family is big on toasts. Any time we are all together celebrating an occasion, we toast the event as well as the participants. Heath and Stefannie made the first toasts last night, expressing appreciation for the event and his family. I was up next. Of course, I love my new daughter-in-law very much. It was my pleasure to publicly welcome her to our family and remind her that this family (the entire Mostrom clan) is a great one. Next, Todd took the microphone. All of you that know my husband also know that he is a private and quiet person (in mixed company). He had been thinking about his toast all day and knew exactly what he wanted to say. He said, “When you get married you need to have the role model of a great marriage to guide you.” And then his emotions took over. It was very moving to watch him continue, voice cracking, with something like “I knew that we had that in Gina’s parents. So, Heath and Stef, learn from Grandpa and Grandma Mostrom. You’ve got some great role models in them.” He told me that there was more that he had wanted to say, but the words just left him in that moment. Those are the BEST toasts, though…right from the heart.

*I’m pretty sure that a spot of grass in our yard will struggle to survive thanks to Heath’s college buddy, Ben.

*Early in the evening when we were trying to get the dance going, I asked Mike to play Home Sweet Home (Motley Crue) so I could dance with Heath. This is my very favorite song and one that I know Heath also really likes. After all, Todd and I also took him to see the Crue when he was 17—the age I was when I saw them for the first time. During this dance, Heath confessed that he had played this song multiple times the week before in anticipation of coming “Home”. It was very sweet when Todd pulled Stef out on the floor to join us for this dance.

*Man, I wish Tom had been here. Hmmm…I think this friend of Heath was the one who started the whole “Momma Tyler” thing. He, however, is in the Coast Guard and was unable to get away. Come see us when you’re in Kansas, Tommy Boy.

*When Heath and Stef cut their cake, they gently started reaching toward each other to share a bite. Then Stef made a sudden move and before we knew it they both had cake up their noses! The pictures of this are hysterical! Picture 1—smiling lovingly at each other, cake almost to the other’s lips. Picture 2—eyes closed, cake shoved blindly, and grimacing. Oh goodness. They both had to go the bathroom and clean up and blow the cake out their noses before they could continue with their shared drink of champagne. Todd kidded them with, “Most couples don’t need to take an intermission!”

*Although we had planned to have the kids watching movies in the other room, they preferred to dance along with us. Mom said today, “I don’t think anyone there had any more fun than Emma!” I think she’s right. Kris and Lisa have their hands full with that 4-year-old firecracker.

*Todd’s smoked pork (42 pounds of it!) was delicious. I am so lucky to be married to a man that loves to cook…and is so good at it. Emeril…eat your heart out!

We ended the evening by making sure that everyone made it safely to their destination. Most of the 20-somethings crashed at our house. Having Heath and his friends hanging out in our house certainly brought about some feelings of déjà vu. As they slowly got around and left today, I was struck by their expressions of thanks and promises to stay in touch with us. These kids that were like part of our family have now grown into wonderful young adults. With Heath being so far away, I’m sure they were conscious of the fact that it may be a long time before they will get to see him again.

Memorable evening...special friends...great family.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Loss of a Mother

Mac called this morning. His mom, Jan, lost her battle with cancer during the night.

Nothing can prepare you for this. It doesn’t matter how old you are. As I think about my best friends, I realize that many of them have already had to face the pain of losing their mothers. I just can’t handle the thought of it.

Susan and I shared a room when we were very young. I remember one night, lying in our twin beds, we got to talking about “what if” dad and mom were to die. As that conversation evolved, it led us to the realization that one day our dad and mom WOULD die. Our little minds just could not bear it. The tears started flowing and as this reality continued to sink in, we became hysterical. I can vividly recall running into the kitchen (where my parents were probably enjoying those few precious quiet moments when the kids are all tucked in) wailing. It took our parents quite a bit to get us calmed down, reassured, and tucked back into bed. But sleep didn’t come easy that night. My mom still remembers that night, also.

Billy was one of my very best friends when I was young. In fact, back then (probably even before school-age) he told his father that he was going to marry Gina Mostrom. We spent hours playing with Terry and Jimmy in our neighborhood. Losing his mother, Sharon, to cancer was so tragic...especially since I really didn't understand what was going on at the time. I just remember watching my friend (along with his older sisters and father) struggle with a broken heart. I'm sure that througout the years he, Marcy, and Kathy have yearned for just one more hug and kiss from their mother.

Not too many years later, a good girlfriend of mine lost her mother, Becky, to breast cancer. As we grew up, I often thought that it was unfair that Brooke had to face life without the guidance and support of her mother. As the oldest of three, Brooke had some big shoes to fill...and she did so with grace and style. Her trust and faith in God was so inspiring to me. She still inspires me. Her mother would be so proud of her accomplishments...and her beautiful girls.

Although I didn’t get to know Tiffany until high school, she had lost her mother at a very tough time in ANY girl’s life—junior high. I had not been there to go through that pain with her, but I could still feel that pain even as she grew into an amazing woman. When five crazy college women decided to take a Spring Break excursion to Vegas, it was in her mom’s old car. She still had it. We made some great memories in it. Maybe she was with us.

My younger sister Lisa married Matt just prior to being discharged from the U.S. Navy. She fell in love with his whole family in Wisconsin, including his mother. Pat was definitely a second mother to Lisa. This spunky little lady always had a smile on her face and a great story to tell. She lived--really lived--right up to the point when breast cancer stole her away, breaking many hearts in the process.

My very best friend was able to care for and comfort her mother, Shirley, through a sad battle with Raynaud’s Disease. It was torturous…for both of them. I was able to visit them in the hospital not long before her mom's death and was horrified at the cruelness of this affliction. Julie was so brave for her mother. She told me much later that the hug I gave her at her mother’s funeral was the only time she ever remembers me hugging her. Since I consider myself a “hugger”, this completely surprised me. I guess sometimes we feel so close to those that we love that we don’t feel the need to physically express our love. That is one mistake that I no longer make.

I met Jan on the same day I met Jeff (Mac) and Todd. After all, we picked the boys up at their homes in Satanta in Tiff’s Trans Am that day. She was a teacher and I always enjoyed my visits with this bright and vibrant woman. When both she and Larry retired, they were able to do some traveling together before and after her battle with breast cancer. Man, we thought she had it beat…until just this past fall. At a KSU football game Larry and Jeff told us that some tests had come back that indicated that the cancer had returned—though it was now in her bones. How quickly these last precious months flew by.

I know that statistically men die younger. In my personal experience, however, this has not been the case. Too many mothers of those that I love have left before we were ready. But I suppose one is never ready to lose his or her mother.

Go give your mom a hug today or at least give her a call. Keep her in your daily prayers. And be grateful for the time you have with her…it is never enough.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

They Say We All Have a Twin Out There

Teaching high school for many years gave me several interesting experiences. When I was teaching high school in Tribune, one day some of the ornery boys in my class were snickering and whispering and looking at me curiously. Where in the world did this come from? I thought that I must've just been the butt of a dirty joke or something. I didn't know. Anyway, I continued to notice it with other boys in the hall. Something was definitely up.

Right before lunch, I had one of these boys in a class and I asked him to stay for a second. With everyone out of the room, I asked him what was going on. Looking quite uncomfortable, he told me that while a group of boys were messing around together over the weekend, a bunch of them were surfing some inappropriate websites on the computer and came upon my picture. I assured him that the picture could not be me. But, he insisted…and told me that I might want to take a look. (At this point, I am thinking this is funny! These boys must have vivid imaginations.) So, I asked him for the website. Of all things, it was! (This was even funnier to me since I was teaching teens!)

So, I sent him off to lunch and I looked it up--in the name of research. There I was, on my knees, elbows on the floor, derriere in the air, grinning at the camera, without a stitch of clothes on! On the home page of this porn site!

Now...let me back up for a second. Of course, it was NOT me. But she looked so much like me that it was scary. At the time, my hair was long and highlighted and even this looked identical in the picture. I saved the image on a disk then went down to talk to the principal. Thinking it would be best to head-off any future accusations, I told him about my morning and he about fell over when I showed him the picture and told him that it was NOT me. Thank goodness that the model was posed such that the important parts were not visible. He was a good sport and chuckled. The picture made the rounds to the other teachers and we all had a good laugh.

The next day, I copied and pasted the image on a computer-generated Valentine's Day card for Todd. When he opened it up, he exclaimed, "When did you get this picture taken?!?!" I said, "That's not even me!" He studied it pretty closely. Thinking it would be funny, I even showed it to my parents. My mother said, "Gina Michelle!!" Oh know you’re in trouble when mom uses your middle name!

I still have that image saved in my old files. After writing this story I had to pull it up and take a look, thinking it surely didn’t look that much like me. Oh but it does. Who knew I could've had a career in modeling?

By the way, shame on you if you clicked the link to that site! I, however, had to see if it was still in existence. It is. However, my lookalike no longer graces its cover.