Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Have You Seen This Child?...Adventures of Gregory!

Adventures of Gregory
Have you seen this child?

Gregory Emerson Hatfield...March 18, 1988
I am going to break with tradition for a bit on this, the last of my children's birthday posts. Instead of writing about Greg's birth, I want to share a little bit of his baby and toddlerhood. My memories of Gregory Emerson Hatfield's first two years are extremely vivid...and there is a good reason.  My cute final child was quite the handful...a little Houdini who could defeat any lock or attempt to keep him contained safely at home.  Some years back I wrote an essay about Greg's adventures.  I am a bit nervous about sharing this story...as his mother, I do not come across well.  In today's environment I would be considered a neglectful parent...subject to Facebook shaming.  I am hoping now that he is 27, the Statute of Limitations on Stupidity will have taken effect. 

Greg's first love.
The Adventures of Gregory
Gregory's love for "bye-byes"...cars and other vehicles...began when he was less than a year old.  We were Christmas shopping at Shopko and just happened to pass a display of Tonka road graders.  They were huge and yellow and on sale for $14.99.  Greg's eyes grew as big as Frisbees when we paused in front of the display.  He stretched out his hands, reaching for the toys.  "Mum, Mum, Mum! Oh, Mum!" he kept repeating as he attempted to grab the closest road grader...almost falling out of the cart.  I moved the cart away toward the more colorful baby toys.  He immediately let out a screech that punctured eardrums in two counties.  I quickly returned him to the road graders.  "Mum, Mum...Oh, Mum!"  It was obvious he knew what he wanted, though I have no idea how he knew he wanted them.'

He has never looked back since that day.  There is not a truck, bus, backhoe, or army tank that escapes his notice.  His favorites are monster trucks.  He likes the ones that growl and have wicked teeth...literally "monster" trucks.  He loves lining up his Hot Wheels cars to be smashed by a toy truck with huge wheels...his own version of a Monster Truck Rally.

Tower Crane
Greg had one upstairs in his room...along with most of the rocks and gravel in the yard.

He also loves dinosaurs...but not with the same intensity.  After all, I-15 is not crawling with Stegosaurs or Brontosaurs.  The ideal toy would be a vehicle shaped like a dinosaur. Transformers came up with some of those...along with a pretty hefty price tag.  His best buddy, Trevor, gets all the current toys, but we have to be more frugal and wait for birthdays and Christmas.  So he's learned how to mix cars and dinosaurs in his play.  He simply has Godzilla stomp on his cars. 

His gee-gee (baby blanket) was wearing out so I made him a new one with streets, parks and gas stations on it.  It's the perfect size for lying quietly on the floor while playing Monster Truck Rally...and Godzilla feels more at home stomping vehicles in an urban setting.


If T-Rex and George Washington got into a fight...who would win?

Where most little kids have a teddy bear or other stuffed animal...Greg has a beloved T-Rex the size of a small dog that he carries around and sometimes sleeps with.  He asked for a G.I. Joe George Washington.  I wondered about this strange request until he told me that he wanted Washington to fight T-Rex.  Little boys are always asking the timeless question..."if (insert name) and (insert name) had a fight, who would win?" 

Imaginative Play...Cowboys Versus Aliens.

My Worst Day
When he was about 2 years of age, there came a point where it was almost impossible to keep him in the house.  We tried everything to keep him contained...multiple locks on doors, way out of his reach, were no match for his ingenuity.  There was a whole world outside our house and he wanted to explore every inch of it.  He had a little trike that he could pedal almost as fast as we could chase after him, so he could really cover some ground in a few minutes.

At the end of our street was the back fence to some property that belonged to a farmer with a hoarding problem.  His "Ranch" was a ramshackle accumulation of ancient outbuildings and wrecked automobiles...hundreds of them.  Greg could easily view the farmer's "collection" from our house and it isn't hard to imagine all the little gears inside Greg's brain working overtime.  But let's get on the with the story...

Greg about 5 years of age.

One day I was reading a magazine while Greg played quietly...a little too quietly I would realize later.  I must have become too engrossed in the article I was reading because, before I knew it, more than a half hour had passed since I had last checked on him.  He wasn't anywhere in the house, so I ran up and down the street checking all the homes on the block.  No one had seen him.  I was getting worried...he had not left our street before.

I didn't have a car available...it was suffering from Terminal Transmissionitis...so all of my searching had to be done on foot.  Around the corner, where a vacant lot began, I found his little trike half hidden in the weeds.  In my panic and distress, my imagination shifted into overdrive.  I pictured a smiling stranger plucking him off his trike an carrying him away in his white van.  I pictured posters and milk cartons that read "Have you seen this child?"

Legos...a lifelong love.
He still has most of his Lego sets.

Leaving the toy behind, I started running.  Through the neighborhood and out to the main road I ran, my heart a painful lump in my chest.  Down the canal road I ran, fearing to see him floating face down by the grassy bank.  There was no sign of him.

Finally, exhausted, I started back towards home.  At the vacant lot, two little boys were in the process of dragging the tricycle home with them.  They insisted it was theirs...they found it fair and square.  I took it away from them and asked them if they had seen Greg.  They hadn't.

The sun was going down...the days are much too short the week before Thanksgiving.  Lengthening shadows only increased my anxiety.  I pictured him cold and frightened, crying for his mother.  I couldn't call his dad...he was out of town...and I dreaded calling the police.  My fear of making phone calls can be a potentially dangerous handicap.  But I had no choice...it was getting dark.  I could just hear my neighbors asking "What kind of a mother loses her little boy."  Would I get in trouble for losing him?

Birthday trip to Disneyland.

The police arrived quickly.  Asking for a picture of Greg, they talked to me patiently and in a non-judgmental manner.  They consoled me that they would probably have him located in a very short amount of time.  Some neighbors came out to help, and the search was quickly organized.

About that time, Scotty, our faithful sheltie, came trotting home from the direction of the farmer's junkyard.  I felt a thrill of hope...I hadn't seen Scotty since Greg disappeared.  "Please look over there," I told the searchers. "I think Scotty was with him.  The police and neighbors fanned out through the wrecked cars and within minutes I heard the call, "We have him!"

I sobbed uncontrollably when the teenager who found him put him in my arms.  All the terror and panic I had tried to suppress came to the surface at once.  It was the worst day of my life...and the best...all at the same time.  Greg couldn't resist the giant collection of  "bye-byes" rusting in the farmer's field.  He must have thought it was "Truck Rally Heaven."

Greg and Dusty...our second dog.

I didn't want to let him out of my sight ever again.  But that was not to be.  This may have been the first time...and it definitely was the worst time...but it sure as shootin' wasn't the last time!  Don't even get me started on the time he got away from me at the Gap and was found in the Sears parking lot on the far side of the mall.  My youngest child made sure I would never win Mother of the Year.

Happy Birthday, Greg!

Gregory Emerson Hatfield
March 18, 1988

Every mother has a special place in her heart for her last child...the baby of the family.  The other siblings may groan and tease that Mom loves you the most.  It isn't just that you were loved and fussed over...it was that you were the last child I would ever have.  You were the end of all the firsts...first smile, first steps, first words.   You were my last chance to hold a baby of my own, to walk the floor with in the still of night...the final little hand to set free at the kindergarten door.  You have never ceased to amaze and baffle me.  Your dad and I are so proud of the wonderful man you have grown to be.  We can't wait to see what you will do with the rest of your life.

Greg and his lovely bride, Shandi.
May 7, 2009

With Love,
Mom & Dad

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Vintage Vacations...Spirit of Steamboat!

The Spirit of Steamboat
 
I am a Western Girl...I was born in the West immersed in the stories of cowboys and pioneers.  We tend to travel in western states, seeking out old mining towns and places where hard-bitten folks struggled to carve out a life in a harsh desert environment. As we gaze upon the ruins of their dreams, we can almost hear their voices in the dry winds that drift sand through the streets of their towns, stacking tumbleweeds against rusted barbed-wire fences. 
 
Yes, there are towering mountains in the West, mountains draped in the green of pine trees and lacy veils of tumbling waterfalls.  Mountain vistas are cooling to the parched eyes of a desert dweller.  My Mormon ancestors looked to the mountains as they crossed through Wyoming on the pioneer trails.  I am grateful to live at the feet of some of the most beautiful mountains in the West...but my heart is drawn to desert places and ghost towns.  
 
Wyoming Map
 
With only an hour's notice last Monday, we packed our bags for a quick trip to Gillette, Wyoming.  George's company does industrial painting and sandblasting...one of our specialties is water treatment plants.  In order to bid on the one in Gillette, George needed to attend a pre-construction meeting on Tuesday.  Gillette is 9 1/2 hours from Highland, located in the upper right hand corner of the state.
 
Bucking Horse on Wyoming License Plate
 
Anyone who travels in the western states knows that there are long empty stretches of highway.  Families may play "License Plate Bingo" on their road trips.  As a child I would watch for the bucking bronco on the Wyoming plates.  Nowadays, we listen to audio books when we travel...it makes the time pass a lot quicker.  We love the "Longmire" books written by Craig Johnson.  Walt Longmire, the crusty sheriff of fictional Absaroka County is an intriguing character.  The author weaves a lot of Wyoming history and lore into his tales.  In his short book "Spirit of Steamboat" I finally learned the story of the famous bucking horse...the longest-running license plate motif in the world...Steamboat.


"Steamboat"  A VB-25J
A transport version of the Mitchell B-25 bombers from WWII.
 
On a stormy Christmas Eve, Longmire and his friend Lucian Connally must find a way to fly a desperately sick child to Denver.  Finding a plane and pilot is proving to be next to impossible, but they finally end up on an old WWII plane called "Steamboat."  During the trip Walt recalls to himself the story of the famous bucking horse.  Known as the "Lord of the Plains" or the "King of the Hurricane Deck," Steamboat was a horse that could not be ridden. 
 
Steamboat was born in 1894 on the Foss Ranch in Wyoming.  He got his name from the whistling sound he made when he breathed, the result of slamming his head against the ground so hard that he broke the cartilage in his nose.  Solid black, with three white stockings, Steamboat enjoyed the attention he received in parades and Wild West shows.  He was docile when handled, but could not abide a rider.  Steamboat's whistle was the last thing many a cowboy heard just before hitting the ground.
 
"Old Steamboat"
 
In the mid 1930s, Secretary of State Lester C. Hunt commissioned  Denver artist Allen True to depict the horse and rider as the design for the 1936 Wyoming license plate.  He was the paid the "princely sum" of  seventy-five dollars.  There is controversy over who the rider is.  Many a Wyoming resident would like to believe it is their own grandpa, but it is widely believed that the rider is a composite of every cowboy who ever rode a bucking bronco.  And maybe...just maybe...the horse isn't even Steamboat.
 
Steamboat's Biography
 
Author Candy Moulton says, "...Steamboat is really the symbol of Wyoming in every sense of the spirit..."  Steamboat's story did not have a happy ending.  The legendary horse was injured on a barbed-wire fence during a lightning storm in Salt Lake City.  He fell victim to blood poisoning and had to be put down...some say with Tom Horn's gun.  According to legend, Steamboat was buried in Frontier Park in Cheyenne.  But some old-timers will tell you he was carted off to the city dump where he was destroyed.  I, for one, hope that isn't true.
 
 
I-80...the Lincoln Highway
 
The next time you travel west on the Old Lincoln Highway and see a license plate with the bucking bronco and his rider hanging on for dear life...I hope you will think of Steamboat and tip your (metaphorical) hat to the horse that embodied the Western Spirit.
 
 
 
 
A few images from Wyoming...enjoy!







 
 

 





Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sweet Valentines Swap!

Special Delivery...Valentines Swap!
 
I just love holiday swaps...it's so much fun to create something special for a new blogging friend.  Let's face it...if I didn't do swaps I would probably flunk out of Holiday Crafting University.  Swaps stimulate our creativity...without them I would be standing around in my craft room with a stupid expression on my face, unable to focus.  I need an assignment...and a deadline!  I joined a Valentine swap hosted by Viv of Viv Out on a Whim.   She matched up swap partners and I was so fortunate to get Cindy of  Prairie's Edge Farm.  She makes the most beautiful Shabby/Elegant things.  The soft colors are like the sweetest of treats...the icing on a wedding cake or a rose patterned plate of petit fours.
 
 
I don't think I've ever seen a more beautifully decorated tin.
 
 
These are the colors my romantic side craves.

Tiny embellished box was filled with lovely trimmings.

Anyone who knows me, knows I adore small boxes.
 
A tag this beautiful deserves heirloom status.

 
A bookmark worthy of resting between the pages of a Jane Austen novel.
 
A few of the lovely embellishments she included. 
The tin was filled with fun items for crafting.

More vintage Valentines.

Two wonderful cards. 
 I am still learning the art of card making.
 
1939 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Valentines.
 
The set of cards I used for my Valentine Party Tin.
I just printed the whole set at once and cut them out.
Enlarge or decrease as needed for your project.
 
I posted many of things that I sent Cindy a couple of weeks ago.  She received the whole Snow White treatment.  So I will let her post about her package if she so desires.  Thank you so much, Cindy for the beautiful treasures you made for me.  And thank you, Viv, for hosting this fun swap!
 

 
Is your Sweetheart a "long little doggy?"
I found a few Doxie Valentines in my file...enjoy!
 








 



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Big Box in the Basement...Tiny Treasures!

Tiny Treasures...
 
Most of us have one...a large unmarked cardboard box that moves with us from house to house.  It must contain something of importance or we would never have kept it.  Yet we never seem to get around to opening it to find out what's inside.  It may be stacked in the garage on a high shelf...or buried behind something heavy in a basement closet.  It nags at us, but still there is no feeling of urgency...other more pressing tasks await our attention.
 
A few of my New Year's goals included organizing the photo albums, updating family histories and dejunking the house.  Usually I have to watch a Hoarders marathon to get motivated, but this time I genuinely want to lighten the burden of "stuff" that has taken over my home.  And I have been itching to go through the contents of that big box in my craft room closet.
 
I spent a full week on the photo albums...buying new binders and organizing our family life into time periods.  Slowly, but surely, the stacks of random photos found context and a place in the binders.  In a way my life has "flashed before my eyes."  Our children have come and grown and moved away in the space of one week.  It was an exhilarating and nostalgic journey!
 
What do photo albums have to do with the Big Box in the Basement?  When I finally opened the box I found it was full of baby clothes and small nursery keepsakes.  So that's where I put them!  As I laid out each little item a "photo" would flash into my mind of the child who wore it.  My feeling of excitement grew...I would photograph the little clothes and match them with photos of my little children wearing them!  I would show them what I found in the Big Box in the Basement.  My only regret is that I have no baby clothes photos of our youngest, Greg, to share in this post.
 
 Amber Lee...
Her newborn dress.
 
Amber had very few things that were pink when she was little.  Her dad didn't like pink for some reason.

A gift from Grandma Devey
 
My favorite dress...her cutest outfit.
 
In 1977 we moved to El Paso, Texas.  It's very hot there in the summer, but Amber was so cute and cool in her little blue outfit that people would stop me in the shops to admire her.  In the photo she is sitting in the sand at White Sands, NM.  She used to cry whenever she saw that photo..."Where's the baby's mama?" she would sob.  "Baby's all alone."
 
Christmas at Grandma Devey's...just before leaving for Germany
 


Missy Marie...
Missy...sweet in blue gingham.
Missy and Amber wore red, blue and yellow...no pinks.

Missy wearing Amber's overalls.  Kitty Luna photo bomb.
 
When Amber was born we had so little money that many of her baby clothes were hand-me-downs from her cousin, Christopher.  I embellished the little boy overalls with some iron-ons that came in a box of cereal.
 
 
 
Geoffrey Georg...
Geoff in his little German Sweater.
Purchased in a Flohmarkt (flea market) in Bremen.
 
 
 
Sascha Anna...
I never doubted that Sascha would be a girl.
Had fun making girly dresses for the first time.

Vintage Thrift Store Dress.
Her baby colors were "Sascha Green" and "Sascha Pink."
 
I made this baby version of a "Gunne Sax" dress.
Loved the ruffled bloomers.
 
Baby Sascha loved Care Bears and the Snuggle bear on TV.

Jumper crocheted by our Swedish neighbor, Kristina.

Kristina also made this cute little vest.
 
 
 
So, this was what I found in the Big Box in the Basement.  There were many other items...but no others with matching photos.  I hope my children will enjoy this story...and their children as well.  It's amazing these little clothes survived all these years...a couple of these dresses are almost 40 years old.  Sorry, Greg...you were way too hard on your clothes!