One of our very dearest friend’s father died. It was not completely unexpected as he was not in the best of health , but still not expected…..he was “Papa John”, a big man who commanded respect and never went anywhere without his “Peacemaker” … I’ve heard so many funny , amazing stories about this man I was looking forward to meeting him someday! Knowing I’ll never get the chance makes me sad, but James’ stories will hopefully continue and the lessons he taught his children and so many others will be his legacy along with many other things that he gave the world…RIP Mr. Byers….
I, thankfully, haven’t lost a parent. So I can’t relate completely with the emotions involved. But I’ve been around enough and lost enough or been sick etc….enough to know that people can say “let me know what I can do to help” and none of us ever take that seriously or ask for that help… you know it, I know it …. it’s true…we all mean it when we say it ( at least I do) but at the same time we know that rarely if ever will someone take you up on it..especially if there is a man involved… you can’t just offer “whatever you need, call me” … you have to be specific…or it will never happen…… so if you’re sincere think about what you really can do, or what you would need or want done for you (or your wife or kids) during your challenging time….things like – let me take your garbage to the dump for you, let me make you a meal, let me clean your horse stalls… or if you’re close enough, you just do it and don’t even ask, you tell!!…. hey friend – I made you this lasagna – you can freeze it or whatever, just heat it up at 350 for 45 mins and enjoy…here’s a plate of brownies (even “special” brownies if called for, if they are in Washington or Colorado) …..well we knew that our friends wouldn’t ask for help… I don’t blame them a bit I don’t ever EVER either… I get it… so we did, what we should all do more of, told them how it was gonna go down…….
By we, in this case, I mean Christy the angel; my angel; big hearted sweetheart; thoughtful; giving; beautiful bride…. after hearing about what had happened, and that James was driving out to Montana to be with their family and that NeNe was staying home with the little kids…..their youngest kids are Tyler 7 and Kaelyn (KD) 4…to them we are “Auntie Christy and Uncle Mike” … well Christy TOLD NeNe (knowing that I would be just fine with her making that call with my full support because it’s who we are) that we were taking the kids for the weekend and that she was going to Montana to be with James period!!…… It took some convincing but Christy finally broke through and got the “permission” to help. It says a lot and means even more to be entrusted with someone’s children and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly even if only for a weekend… we were honored that James and NeNe trusted us enough to let us do this for them (and for us!!)
This story may sound like bragging to some of you if you’re new to my blog, but if you know me then hopefully you know the reason I’m telling this is twofold 1. to share the message that you can make a difference & make the world a better place by using my own experiences as an example and 2. because I want to tell you a story…and you need the whole story not just the good bits…. you need the full picture to appreciate the meaning (and there’s much more meaning here then just being decent to each other) …. so if it seems like bragging to you, well… all I can say is that you’re reading the wrong blog… though I kinda am bragging (and always will) about my wife and my kids and there’s nothing you can do to stop me so there neener neener….
ok back to the story… it started off pretty darn sad, our hearts went out to our dear friends, and we wanted to do more then just the “whatever you need, call us” thing….so we did what we would want done if we were in their shoes… someone to tell us what they are doing and do it….. and not just take over a plate of cookies….. we were taking their precious angels who haven’t ever spent a whole weekend away from their own home without mommy and or daddy with them……not something to be taken lightly… I’m sure Shawnene was a nervous wreck but we were so happy to get the opportunity to have little ones in the house and also help our friends in a truly meaningful way… but as per my norm I must take us back in time…..to the days of my youth…. I had cool a$$ uncles… My Uncle Jimmy (RIP) was super cool, he took me to races he took me crawfishin’ and fishin’ fishin’, he taught me guitar ( house of the rising sun!!) and he blew me away when he showed me his 12 string!! He was one first class hippy …he eventually grew up some and cut his hair but he was still a cool uncle who influenced who I am today and I loved him…. we lost touch, he lost touch with everyone, for many years but the year he died he and I caught up one day on the phone and it was one of the best phone calls I’ve ever had to this day… I can still remember his cool southern Mississippi drawl with a hint of mischief in it a voice that could sing, swear, tell a story teach a lesson…. a voice I would recognize anywhere, even when in his 50’s and not having heard from him for probably 20 years…
Then there was Uncle Lyle… he was the closest to “our” age when I was growing up… he was a young adult when I was probably 10…my Dad’s youngest brother he was a hoot and a half…when we visited gramma and grandpa at the Lake of the Ozarks he was the highlight of our days… playing with us kids, swimming with us and scaring us and gettin’ himself in trouble with gramma for letting us play with bb guns… or firecrackers ( grandpa didn’t allow firecrackers!!) ….another fine example for me to know how a “cool” uncle is supposed to be… and one more positive influence in making me who I am today… Uncle Lyle is still around and still hilarious 🙂 …Uncle Marty…oh Uncle Marty… hahahaha Uncle Marty is Dad’s sister’s (Auntie Em’ – [honest] and from Kansas!!) husband…he was the “naughty” cool uncle… he taught us dirty jokes and maybe a few clean ones… he took us in fast cars and is still one of the funniest people alive…. but also he taught me about hard work, no matter what the task, he’s a jack of all trades and was always working on something… and I loved nap time at Uncle Marty’s house… never once did I nap…. but that’s a different story….
I had a serious uncle too, Uncle Kenny(RIP Kenny) , he was a great guy and had a very dry sense of humor I get a lot of that now but didn’t appreciate it as much as a kid ..he died of cancer when I was young and I think his was the first funeral I ever attended…either his or “Big Mamma’s” ( Yes I had a Great Gramma who’s name was Big Mamma, she wasn’t physically big…but personality was for sure!!) Uncle’s Kenny and Jimmy – I Miss you and Love you and Thank you for influencing my life and being great uncles!! Uncle’s Marty and Lyle – I love you guys and I thank you for being such cool uncles, no one could ask for better!
I’m an Uncle a few times over but sadly I’ve not lived up to the coolness or the fun, love and mischievousness that I wish I could have… I hope I do better someday as a grandpa then I did as an Uncle…. my Nephews all live in Indiana and I live in Seattle… I’ve seen them a few times and talked to them on holidays and stuff but they don’t know me really and I don’t know them really… and it is something I do regret not being a part of their lives…..they are all nearly grown now…..lives and stuff got in the way and I let it happen..shame on me…and for that Justin, Mathew and Colt I’m sorry.. I do love you and wish we were closer, know that I’m here for you, as family, always…
So back to the story… I had cool uncles and I never took/got the opportunity to be a cool uncle myself… I was Uncle Mikey to a few kids but never in the way that I really wanted to be…. here was opportunity pounding on my door… I felt terrible for the reason but joy that we could enjoy them for the weekend…
Christy picked them up on Friday and NeNe went to the airport and flew out on a puddle jumper to Montana (after giving Christy a series of detailed instructions, toys, food and clothes for a month) … we did have kids of our own ya know… ( a reminder I had to give Auntie Christy all weekend LOL) …. I get home first and do what I can to childproof ..which means feeding the animals and looking for the books I used to read to Easton when he was little… and checking the pantry for kid food…… Christy calls and says “I NEED HELP!!! I’M AT THE CORNER< BE READY!!!!”
ZOINKS!!!! I guess it’s time to get this party started eh? what she meant was she needed help carrying stuff in LOL…food, luggage, kids, dinner etc….. pack mule I can do really well!! She leads the kids inside and I grab the first load of luggage…. one more trip and it’s in… the kids are already brightening our home with laughter and giggles, squeals of joy in receiving hugs and kisses from Dukie… we share in the fun and everyone gets hugs and Dukie gets chased around and around … it’s about 6:30PM and time for dinner… so we get them set up at the dining room table and have dinner. You can tell they are excited and completely comfortable already which is GREAT, I was worried they would be scared or worried…. but nope at ease , eating well and ready to PLAY!!!!
Now some of you may know I have a bad back… I’ve got 2 ruptured disks that need artificial disk replacement surgery to repair… I live with it..I deal with it, I don’t complain about it…it’s knocked me down (a few times a year) but that’s a story for another time (darn cat’s and golf carts!!) ….but I’m not letting it stop me from being a Horsey!!!! So far this is a very “equestrian” weekend!! First I was a pack mule and now it’s time for Uncle Mikey Horsey back rides around the living room!!! I can assure you that I’m not a Thoroughbred anymore… but not an old nag yet either… glue factory material – I am NOT!! I’m more like a a fine draft horse now..a well fed Belgian or Clydesdale… I can carry both kids at the same time….as long as Tyler is in front and KD Bug is on back holding onto him LOL…. we tried it the other way and it didn’t quite work… once we knew the proper load balancing, we ride around and spin and run … they both are giggling and having a ball. Uncle Mikey’s back has had it and I end up in a faceplant… the kids try “giddy up” by bouncing up and down (remind me to talk to the AHA regarding child to Adult feet only CPR from the back) on my back and it forces all the air out and I grunt and they laugh hysterically….so like any good uncle I let them jump on me for a bit then fight my way back to my hands and knees to go a few more rounds and finally “buck” them onto the couch…. Uncle Mike’s back needs a break..er it’s already broke guess I should say it needs a rest… so we switch to barbies and race cars…Auntie Christy got a work call and had to work…..the kids play with Duke, a lot of “keep away” ( Duke is the keep away master) and a little bit of tug of war….and the cats are no where to be seen they’re not convinced these two new additions to our house are ok yet…ohhhh guess what time it is??? that’s right it’s:
I scream, you scream we all scream for ICE CREAM time!!!!
Well after Ice cream you have to go for a horsey back ride to burn off that sugary energy rush …everyone knows that… ( I didn’t know that….. but I learned it very quickly)……ok once more around the living room and then it’s brush and flush, read and pray and beddy-by time 🙂 …. so kiddies are pj’d up, brushed and flushed, the humidifier with vicks is running in the room ( poor KD Bug has a cold) they get tucked in and with one on either side, Dukie and I laying between and Auntie Christy laying across we start to read stories… we read several about a Minnow named Max (complete with googlie eyes), then some stories like where the wild things are…. classic stories… we topped off the nights reading with a sing along song book – “This Land is .your Land“… by Woody Guthrie. By the end we were all singing 🙂
ok it’s time for your prayers, hugs for Uncle Mikey… Auntie Christy leads them in prayers and off to dreamland. It’s Advil and bed for Uncle Mike and Auntie Christy LOL….
I go downstairs for a few while Christy gets ready for bed and when I come upstairs surprise there’s a KD bug in my spot …hmmmm….. and she’s snoring LOL..Auntie Christy shrugs and gives a sweet grin and says I couldn’t say no….so I smile and totally understand, I scooch KD over a little so I can have an edge at least (kids are even bigger bed hogs then dogs!) and try to go to sleep… hahahahaha not gonna happen she’s SNORING like a freight train… I’ve never hear a little girly girl snore like a trucker hahaha……so I pick her up and carry her back to her bed…. we made it whew… I sneak out and BLAMALAMADINGDONG I stubbed my toe on a little table…. ARRRGHHH!!!! I didn’t scream but the noise of the table meeting my toe woke her up…LOL….no no sweetie stay in bed it’s ok…. I’ll get Auntie Christy to come in and give you hugs…. ohhhhh Aunnnnntie Chrrrriiiissssty…. I need your asssssiiiiisssstance 🙂 ….. so Christy goes in an lays with her until she’s sound asleep and we finally get to bed ..at least I think we did, I’m fairly certain I was sound asleep before my head touched the pillow….I woke up a few times like normal to take Dukie out and checked in on the little ones, they are so sweet when they are sleeping, little angels… they are sweet when they are awake too but there are certain things that really make my heart smile , babies laughing, any baby animal, my family’s smiles and toddlers sleeping peacefully…..
Auntie Christy got up first, and got the kiddos set up with cereal and juice, and made coffee ahhh coffee thank you sweet nectar of the equator….breakfast is over which means it’s Saturday Morning cartoon time…oh my how times have changed… WOW…. ok that’s enough strange anime TV ..what ever happened to conjunction junction, School House Rock and Fat Albert?? Flinstones? Scooby Doo?? no?? ok well ..let’s play while Auntie Christy goes and takes a bath and gets ready for the day…. we have a fun day planned!!!! I play with the kids, Barbies, Hot-wheels, tickle monster and wrestling for the 5 hours it takes Auntie Christy to get ready… Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little……my turn for a quick shower and get ready… Christy gets the kiddos ready to go, we’re going to the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Christy ( a Native Washingtonian) has never been and it’s just in Tacoma… I do have an ulterior motive though… I want to check out their facility for educational animals in their Wild Wonders Outdoor Theater program (it was very nice) ….so 3 birds…one trip! We load up and head out ….kids buckled in the car seats and watching “Ratatouille” on the DVD player in Christy’s car….wow times have changed huh? What happened to I spy with my little eye …or riddley riddley ree I see something you don’t see and the color is…… or even sing alongs on car rides? oh well it’s only about an hour drive (everywhere from here is about an hour LOL) we’re about halfway there and Tyler says I have to go potty….how bad? we’re almost there… pretty bad…. and you can tell by his voice that means um…NOW…. we’re on I-5 and silly us we didn’t think to bring extra clothes.. UH OH pee’mergency!!! hang in there bud we’re taking the next exit …. we do and he makes it whew…..KD Bug is snoozing in her car seat so we decide to continue on down the road… we get back on the freeway and whatta ya know she wakes up and starts crying and says she feels weird..she’s got the full on lip quiver and a single tear.. ..heartbreaking….what’s wrong sweetie? do you have to go pottie? NO, I just feel weird….what feels weird? a few more tears and then …. my legs and feet feel weird… ok honey hang on we’re pulling over.. we take the next exit and stop at a gas station Christy get’s her unbuckled and well it turns out her legs were “asleep” guess the seat-belt was a little snug……the girls go in to the gas station to make a good try and I’m standing guard on the car and what should appear before me? A wild Raven… Quork!!!….less then 5 feet in front of me…. I’m watching it and it takes off and comes back with a french fry …. it digs a little hole with it’s beak and caches the fry, covers it up….gives me a look like shhhhh don’t tell anyone I just hid that there…I know I can trust you… quork…. and flies up into a fir tree ……the girls come back and all is well Auntie Christy saved the day!!! We load up again and hit the road for the last leg to the Zoo….we get there, park and no sooner do we get out of the car do we see a wild peacock and a crow having an argument in the parking lot over some Cheetos….. great start to adventure! We park in “D” Duck row and I tell Tyler to remember that…. so we can find the car again later….ok Uncle Mike I’ll remember… we head on into the zoo and immediately see a stand selling animal hats with mittens/arms attached… so of course we have to get them those…. Tyler is a wolf ahhhhooooooooooa and KD Bug is a Penguin ( squeek? I dunno what sound does a penguin make?? ) and Auntie Christy gets a Tiger rrrrraaaawwwwr it’s gggrrrrrrreat!!! I was a party pooper and declined a hat with hands… someone had to stay human to lead the animals on the adventure!! The day started out decent weather wise.. 50’s and partly sunny ….we spent a few hours at the zoo and aquarium and some pictures here to show you the fun:
needless to say we had a great time!! And we only saw about half of the zoo!! The Boys and Girls split up to get back to the car because I ask Tyler OK you remember where we parked right? Yep it’s this way…OK…. then we’re going that way..we’ll see you girls at the car 🙂 ….OK Tyler where did we park? there’s Alligator, and Bumblebee, Cow and ..DUCK we parked in DUCK…. yes we did…so where’s the car?? Oh it’s waaaaay down there!! We better hurry if we want to beat the girls!! No Cars so it’s safe to “race” let’s GOOOOOOOOOOOO…..We made it home without any stops even woo hoo! We played and had dinner, showers/baths for the kiddos, got them all pj’d up and decided we were going to stay up late and do “movie night” I made a TON of “homemade” popcorn on the stove we turned all the lights out, The “men” (Tyler and I) were in the recliners and the “ladies” and Dukie were snuggled on the couch .. is everybody ready??? YYYYYEEEEAHHHH!!!!!! OK lights, camera , ACTION!! Up rolled Ice Age 4 or 5 I dunno….. the newest one…. Continental Drift… it was a fun movie and a good time to relax to for a few… the movie finishes and “did you like it” YEAH!!! good !! Ok time to read and go night night… they were excited to go to bed and read and we’d done a good job of wiping them out too 😉 so brush and flush and into bed we go….there was a spat over who sleeps on which side but it was resolved quickly when I told them what books we were reading tonight! 5 little monkeys jumpin’ on the bed… (one fell of and bonked his head), a story about a monster at the end of the book ( Grover from Sesame Street) and a book called Manatee Winter …we had to do 5 little Monkeys a few times 🙂 then once again time for prayers and snuggling with Auntie Christy… hugs and kisses and I think they were asleep within 10 minutes……. Sunday arrives and I’m up first , coffee made and up come the kiddos…. Whatcha want for breakfast? we have bacon and eggs…no thank you… hmm ( darn… bacon sounded awesome)…. we have these cereals … no I’d like warm cereal please says KD bug….. ruh roh… OK Hon let Uncle Mike see if we have any warm cereal…( Please Pantry Gods have something!!!) Hmm I have some grits but kids typically don’t care for Grits… ooh there’s a thing of rolled oats!! SWEET!! OK I can do this… water and salt and some rolled oats… I get it all made and then add in some dried fruits and a little brown sugar and milk, give it a stir and voila! Uncle Mike’s super special, world famous, oatmeal…..whattaya think about that?? It’s the best I’ve ever had they say!! Ever? EVER!!! HA sweet!!! these kids rock!!
The plan for today is guys doing guy stuff and girls doing girly stuff!! The girls get all dolled up and go to the salon to get mani-pedis and the boys, well Uncle Mike tries to watch a Nascar race ….. instead we ended up playing with an RC quad, hot wheels and Dukie 🙂 The girls get home and it’s time for another outing!!!!! This time we’re going on foot! Christy takes both kids and Duke ( brave woman) for a quick walk around the block, then they come back and we’re off to the elementary school down the street where we can let Duke run off leash and chase balls and play on the play ground .. the kids each have a walking stick ( old Lilly stems LOL) and off we go! Like before here’s some photos to tell the story much better than I can 🙂
Tuckered out Dukie….
As you can see Dukie got wiped out, as did the kiddos and us too..
On the walk to and from, KD wanted to pick up rocks and sticks, pieces of wood, leaves and lots of other stuff and keep it for her “collection”… I explained that the WHOLE world can be her collection so we pointed at natural things or looked at flowers and sticks and rocks and she would say “Is that in my collection? ” Yep it is now 🙂 she has a very large collection now for sure and knows that she can leave things in nature and have the “collection” in her mind 🙂 ( and in the whole wide world!) Tyler met a couple other boys at the playground and they did monkey bars and climbing and sliding …Christy and KD played with Duke and the ball and I kept an eye on everything….. and I did the giant teeter-totter with them and took turns with Duke and the kids and the ball… Dukie even made a friend.. a little Shitzu looking dog named Rocky….they played the sniffing game and ran around a bit…. it was starting to get dark and there were some ominous clouds forming so we headed home knowing that our time together was coming to an end… bittersweet I think for all of us… the kids missed their mommy and daddy but they had a good time with us, and we had a great time with them… but it wasn’t over yet! we had asked them what they wanted for dinner..anything they wanted… and they chose my favorite 🙂 Mac and Cheese and Hot Dogs!! they also wanted green beans please ..I prefer Lima beans with my Mac n Cheese but green is fine 🙂 so I ran to the store and got all the supplies…we have a yummy dinner including “grace” ….we play some more and get more horsey back rides and jumping on Uncle Mikes poor back LOL…..the wrassilin tickle monster shows up and gets the kids giggling and laughing like crazy …. we play barbies and my pretty pony and hot wheels some more and it’s early to bed because Auntie Mikey and Uncle Christy ( yes we were that tired hahaha re read that last line…did you catch it?) have to get up early and go to work , Auntie Christy is taking you guys home tomorrow because Tyler has School and your Mom and Dad are coming home yippeee!!! So let’s go read one more time….. you know the drill already…brush-n- flush pj up and hop in bed! let’s get our readin’ on! ( in case you can’t tell Uncle Mike loves reading) A few rounds of Monkey jumpin’ on beds and some special stores from the big book of children’s tales… Prayers with Auntie Christy , hugs and kisses all around and sweet dreams little ones….. we packed up most of their things and loaded up Christy’s car to be ready for the morning so Christy could grab kiddo’s and go…. We retired for the night…. I was up and off to work before the sun… Christy got up took care of the kids and got them all loaded up and delivered to Grandpa who was waiting for them to take over until Mommy and Daddy got home later that day…… they made it safely, we made it safely and we were both so tired we had to take Tuesday off from pure exhaustion hahahaha….. we were both parents and single parents really for a lot of our kids youth/toddler days so we knew what we were in for but, I didn’t think that it would be that exhausting on us! Guess you have to acclimate to any situation but no matter what we’d do it all again in a second for those kids, and for their parents, our dear friends. The opportunity to be Auntie Christy and Uncle Mike was so special to us on many different levels, it was a perfect weekend.
Kaelyn and Tyler – We love you and thank you for being angels while you were here with us, we hope it was a fun time that you remember for a long time!
Jim and Nene – Thank you for entrusting your beautiful children with us, we hope it gave you comfort during your time of loss and that you were able to relax and enjoy the rest of your family in Montana knowing your children were safe and loved. We love you both and will always be there for you and them!!! You are wonderful parents who really are doing a fantastic job in raising wonderful children!