Trosper Family 2016

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Halloween Story--From a speech given at Toastmasters 10/31/17


It was an perfect Halloween night in the little community where I grew up in Denver 1958.  The air was crisp, there was a ring around the moon which foretold of the rain soon to come.   Not tonight though.  We just had a good rain the night before giving us a perfect amount of spookiness for our holiday spirits. 

 I just turned 11 and my mom stayed up all night finishing our costumes.  The kimono she made me was blue with a big red sash.  My hair was piled on my head with chopsticks finishing my geisha girl look.  Dad was on a business trip and mom was very pregnant so I was taking my 3 little sisters and little brother trick-or-treating.  

This was when I was 11 at the age of the story.
It was a very different world in 1958 so there was no concern.  I was a very “responsible” big sister too.  My biggest problems were keeping my brother Billy’s dinosaur tail on and keeping my sister Lynette from wanting to sing “trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat!” at every door.  I kept trying to push her to the back of the group before she could embarrass us even more.  It was fun to trick-or-treat in our little neighborhood on Forest Street because we knew everyone, and we knew what treats we would find at each house.  We started at the Samek’s across the street.  “Trick or treat!”  A popcorn ball!  Wow!  We just couldn’t wait to get home and sink our teeth into that treat.  First we had to make our way around the block.  Delicious chocolate chip cookies from Mrs. Selman, a candy apple from the Levitts two doors down.  Mr. Wallace made us do a trick before we could get our delicious hershey’s kisses.  At the Bell’s we had to borrow their bathroom to clean the chocolate off Billy’s face and hands.  “Billy, you have to wait till we get home to eat the candy.” I said in my best big sister tone.  Lynette, I told you it isn’t polite to tell someone to smell your feet, and you are supposed to say please and thank you. 

I loved Autumn in my little community.  The air was crisp, and so were the colored leaves that fell from the trees on our street.  Forest Street was a lovely tree lined street with beautiful Ash trees.  They were planted by the Ash family that lived in the big house on the little hill around the corner and down a few blocks.  Ichabod Ash worked at the Piggly Wiggly at the Village Center a few blocks down.  Whenever we came into the Piggly Wiggly he would say “There are those Bliss kids with their happy smiles”, then he would give us a penny candy from the jar by his register.  We loved Ichabod and loved going to his house on Halloween.  His house was a little further to walk to and it had been there for a long, long time.  It didn’t fit anymore with all the little suburban houses that cropped up around it in the past few years.  Billy was getting tired and Lynette was jumping around like the clown she always was, but Susie, Karen and I were determined to head around the corner and up the steep incline to Ichabods house.  After all he had the whole Piggly Wiggly to choose the best treats from.  Usually it was a huge candy bar. 

As we crossed the street we noticed a small gathering of neighbors at the bottom of the hill at Ichabod’s house.  They seemed to be keeping kids from climbing the steep walk to Ichabod’s door.  Why?  Lynette wanted to ask, I stopped her. I didn’t know why, maybe I just didn’t want to know.  Intuition maybe.  She was determined though, and certainly she wasn’t scared of anything….so she scrunched down low and creeped into the center of the group of adults.  Big sister Leslie had her hands out to keep her other siblings from moving forward into the danger.  I stretched my neck and perked my ears to see what I could hear.  Part of me, a very small part, wanted to follow my sister to see exactly what was going on.  The other bigger part wanted to run with my brothers and sisters as fast as I could the opposite direction. 

Though my mind was quickly trying to decide my body was frozen.  I sensed fear.  Our little Virginia Village in Denver was a place right out of the “Pleasantville” era of the 1950’s.  We didn’t really know what fear was.  Except for the “duck and cover” drills we had to do in school in case a bomb came.  That fear was based clear over in Russia and it didn’t really enter into our understanding really. 

But what I was feeling that Halloween night was fear, and I didn’t even understand what it was I was afraid of.  The stark quiet stares of the neighbors as they stood in that human fence.  The glint of fear behind their eyes. What was it?  As we stood frozen we heard a siren in the distance through the spook in the night.  It grew louder, and louder.  Soon Mrs. Brown my 2nd grade teacher came over from the group.  She encouraged us quietly, trying to sound calm but definitely not calm, to go home.  Still frozen in fear I raised my hand to point at my sister, Lynette, who had almost scaled the small hill behind bushes and was almost ready to drop into the center of the group of people.

I don’t know what broke the deafening silence first the policeman’s whistle as it pierced the air to move through the larger group of people, or my sister’s scream!  Everyone moved at once, Mrs. Brown dropped to the ground and grabbed us all in her arms.  We could see though, we saw the horror……human bones, lots of them in the roots of the tree, the Ash tree as it slid down the hill. 

Halloween in Virginia Village would never be the same…………..
 
Here is another version I was thinking of prior to the one above. 
 
I am a baby boomer!  This means I was born in the crazy romantic time after WWII.  Men were rushing home from war, marrying women quickly and having kids right away.  I was born in a car and my parents couldn’t find a hospital to take me to because even the halls were packed with women and babies. 
The Bliss home where I was raised was in Denver was just under 1300 square feet.  They paid $10,500 for it in 1955.  My bedroom was off the front porch with blue cornflower wall paper.  I had story book dolls around my room costumed in traditional clothes from 22 different countries.  I shared my room with at least one sibling because eventually there were 7 kids and 2 parents living in 3 bedrooms using 1 bathroom.  My dad was an executive with Ford Motor Company so we weren’t poor, that’s just the way people lived in the 50’s. 
Have you seen the memories posted on facebook sometimes that show that we survived even though we didn’t have seat belts, no car seats, drank with our mouths on hose nozzles.  We stayed out until the lights came on playing kick the can, hide and go seek, king of the mountain. And Rover red Rover send Johnny right over.  Roller skating with skates that had to be adjusted to fit on my shoes with a skate key that hung around my neck always, even when I was playing jacks with a ball that we cut from the inside of a golf ball. 
It was an awesome life really.  Girls couldn’t wear pants to school.  In Denver it was cold too.  So even in junior high we would wear pants under our dresses to walk to school in the snow (at least 5 miles uphill both directions with the wind beating against our backs), then we would have to remove them and hang them up when we got to school. 
Until Halloween 1958.  My mom made my kimono with a big red sash, put my hair on top of my head, and drew my eyes to accent my squint so I could be a “China girl”.  I took my little siblings out to trick or treat….little did I know what that night would hold……even though the ring around the moon added a haze and spookiness to the night.  We walked through the streets through the fallen colorful leaves.  All the neighbors knew us as we went to each home ringing the door bells and saying “trick or treat”.  Of course I was embarrassed as a big sister would be when my little sister would say “Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat.”  I would quickly push her to the back of our little group.  Sometimes we would get a popcorn ball, or a little package of cookies, candy apples or a cupcake.  No one was ever concerned about razor blades being in any food.  Maybe we should have been though……
The development we lived in was called Virginia Village, and on the corner was a Piggly Wiggly supermarket.  Each house had a tree planted in front.  They were the most beautiful trees.  You see we had our own special Johnny Appleseed planting trees.  His name was Ichabod Ash and he seemed to have a very green thumb and we all thought he was pretty amazing because the trees were the tallest, fullest, prettiest Ash trees you ever did see.  No neighborhood in Denver had prettier streets than we did in Virginia Village.  We were proud, until that Halloween night in 1958 when it was discovered…….shudder……..that under each of those perfect trees Ichabod Ash buried a body. 
Maybe life wasn’t as perfect on Forest Street in 1958 as we thought.  But those trees sure were pretty!!
 


This is pretty much how I saw my mom.  Such a cute gal, and very efficient

This is similar to the table and chairs we met around for dinner every night. 
Ours was kind of a greyish white with a bright blue scallop around the edges and the chairs were blue.

The bottom yellow cupboards were just like ours down to the v-shaped handles.  They were metal and very modern.

I wish I had a picture at my fingertips of our living room, but this one has the feeling.  Especially the lamps.

We played jacks, kick the can, king of the mountain, red light green light,
Rover red rover,  roller skated.  What an awesome childhood.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

PARENTING 101--Part 3--TEACH THEM

The element that I placed second in importance is to "Teach Them"!  Isn't that what we fear as parents the most?  Fear that we won't be capable of teaching our children all they need to know to grow up and become great adults?




First in importance is to love them, and then  to teach them!  Honestly we could keep it simple and say if we LOVE them and TEACH them, that is all we really need to do because the others could fall under those two categories.  My other elements could easily fall under those two.

Play with them
Respect them
Discipline them
Sacrifice for them
Love them Unconditionally

For the purpose of confusing things I will talk about teaching them with this blog and continue the others on later blogs.  

We hear the quote "It takes a village to raise a child", I agree it certainly does.  I couldn't be more grateful to my wonderful family (my kids grandparents, aunts, uncles), neighbors like Aunt Milly and Uncle Grant, all the Larkspur Lane Mafia who watched, coraled, and loved my kids.  Teachers in school and church, scout leaders, sports coaches all made our job so much easier.  BUT....that does not give us as parents the opportunity to NOT PARENT.  I think this is vitally important to re-learn.  Having been very involved in PTA's, as school district employee, and community liason in my parenting years I am sorry to say I have seen parents leave too much to "the village" that they should be taking on themselves.  With households having to have dual incomes these days it happens even more.  Please remember your children are the most important legacy you leave in this world.  Work to bring home the bacon, but don't let the bacon become more important than those little ones you are in charge of and love.  

I tried very hard to live up to this priority.  Though I did become an insurance agent with an insurance license I chose to not have a career in the industry, I just had a job.  In other words I didn't have my own agency I worked for other agents.  In many cases I did the work, but didn't collect the higher paycheck.  That was okay with me because my job was insurance, my career was my children and family.  My work gave my kids the extra things like sports, scouts, vacations, nicer clothes but it was easy to quit or work less if there was an issue that needed to be dealt with.  

So I guess the first hint in teaching our kids is to BE AVAILABLE.  Another thing that I learned was important was to LISTEN to them.  I learned from very important things about parenting from my kids.  I will give you a couple of examples,viz., One of my sons was about 2 1/2 or 3 and he kept coming into my room and saying "Mommy will you play with me?"  I would reply "Just a minute hon, Mommy's doesn't have time right now, but I will."  After the third time he came in and said "Mommy if you don't have time I will give you some of mine, cause I have lots!"  He threw his arms up and then down to his side to express his frustration.  What did I learn?  To look at things from his point of view, maybe to explain patience and the necessity of doing other duties, and to keep my priorities in order.  Don't you love being in a car with your kids?  So many things happen in a car.  Another time two of my sons were squabbling in the back of the car.  The oldest one about 3, hit the younger one.  I turned around and smacked him making that ironical statement, "Don't you hit your brother, ever!"  Pouting for a few minutes he was brave enough to say, "Mommy, if I'm not supposed to hit, why did you hit me?"  Now some mothers or fathers might have considered him to be a little smart aleck, but it struck me so hard that I listened to him.  It didn't make sense to hit when I was teaching not to hit, or bite when I was teaching not to bite, or yell when I was teaching not to yell.  Not to say that I always was able to avoid those things, but I tried, because it made sense.  I will talk more about that in the DISCIPLINE THEM part.  


What do we teach them?  This is part of intentional parenting instead of reactive parenting.  We need to actively participate with the other parent to decide what it is you want to teach.  It can come from our own experiences, how we were raised, what do we want them to learn?  Bud and I had conversations before we were married about what was important to us.  Bud joined my church so we could raise our kids with faith and with a religion we felt focused on family values.  We spoke many times as we were waiting that first 9 months.  Then it is an ongoing conversation.  One thing I think is vital is that parents be united in front of the children.  There may be differences about what to teach or how, but those decisions need to be ironed out before presenting to the kids.  Some of those things I think we chose to be the most important things we taught were:

FAITH
HOPE
HAPPINESS
ETHICS
MORALS
(ours not someone else's)
MANNERS
PATRIOTISM
SUCCESS
GOOD WORK ETHIC
BE THOUGHTFUL OF OTHERS
LIVE THE GOLDEN RULE
HONESTY
TO DREAM
 MARCH TO YOUR OWN DRUM
YOUR NAME MEANS SOMETHING
LOVING YOUR BROTHER
HONORING YOUR PARENTS 
YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO THIS FAMILY

There were several things I have learned since that I wish we had taught them, or done a better job at teaching.  They say however you can't give a gift you don't have.  So things that we didn't teach them were things we didn't know well enough to teach them.  Again, that's why you always have to keep learning so you can keep teaching.  One biggie was financial knowledge.  We did get life insurance as one of our first steps in marriage, we did always pay our bills on time, we did know how to squeeze a dollar and we taught our kids those things, but we didn't save for college, we didn't plan for retirement, and we did have a bit of a scarcity thought process.  My kids are successful and learned so many things on their own and will pass what they know on to their kids.  There are always regrets about what you didn't teach.  That's when I remind myself  "I did the best I could with the knowledge that I had at the time".  When you get frustrated with your parenting, you need to give yourself a break and tell yourself  "I am doing the best I can with the knowledge that I have right now", then maybe determine to find a way to improve.  It's always one step at a time!

I  hope these little blogs can help you in some way if you are in the middle of parenting.  Please share some of your ideas as well.  Afterall, I'm not an expert.  I didn't get that little manual with my children either.   We just all have to help each other.  







Saturday, September 23, 2017

PARENTHOOD 101--PART 2--LOVE THEM!

Yesterday I posted on Parenting 101--Trosper Style.  Again I want to remind you that no one can be the parent you can be to YOUR child.  Sometimes, we think we have to listen to other people, and that is okay.  It is okay to listen to other opinions and consider them, but don't follow someone else's advise "willy nilly" because they say it worked for them.  Your parenting style, your children, and your circumstances are different from anyone else's.  Your children are your stewardship and no one else can do the best job raising them.

This, however, is my soapbox so I get to share what worked, and didn't work in the Trosper house. No parent is perfect all the time, so these suggestions go with the disclaimer that it may not work for you just because it worked for Bud and I, and it didn't always work for us either. We found if we focused on these things then at least we are parenting with a purpose, not just flying by the seat of our pants.  Intentional  (Proactive) parenting always seems to work better than Emotional (Reactive) parenting.  When we respond to situations in a reactive way we can say or do something we regret, or that can damage our children.  So it's better to be prepared.  To remind you our Seven Elements for parenting are to :


LOVE THEM
TEACH THEM
PLAY WITH THEM
RESPECT THEM
DISCIPLINE THEM
SACRIFICE FOR THEM
LOVE THEM UNCONDITIONALLY

Today we will start with the First and most important element, LOVE THEM.  I thank God for his amazing design that allows us 9 months to prepare for each child.  While the baby is forming in the mommy's belly in such a well planned organized process, we as mother's get to change too.  We have the chance to prepare our bodies, spirits, and minds for the upcoming birth, and for many years of motherhood to follow.  Father's watch and play there part in the process preparing themselves as well.  We are bonding with this "wee one" during this period carrying them with us wherever we go.  We have to connect don't we?  If the baby is a "surprise" then the 9 months can give us time to go from that surprise, to acceptance, and adoration.  Even birth mother's choosing to give their babies up for adoption bond with the child and desire to make the best choices for a whole life.  Adoptive parents usually have sooooo much time to plan and prepare for the little one as they pray a baby into their lives.  Oh we certainly go through a lot of fear as we are preparing as well.  "Will I be a good mother?"  "Will he be a good father?"  "What if we break him?"  "How will we teach him?"  "What will we name her?"  "Will she be teased about her name?"  We have fear about the actual birth process too, but we will realize for the first time that "what is bought with coin of pain is dearly kept." 

I remember that I was expecting my first baby that I kept a little journal about all those feelings.  Somehow, we as mothers, don't need that journal because we seem to remember every detail about what we thought and felt.  We were trying to decide on names and I have to admit we focused on girls names because we were convinced we would probably have a girl.  In my family we had 5 girls and 2 boys and the girls outnumbered the boys in my extended families as well.  In Bud's family the girls were way more plentiful than the boys so we had just sort of accepted we would have a girl.  When the Dr. told me after a C-section that we had a boy I actually said, "Are you sure?"  He assured me that he definitely could verify that Marque was a boy.  I couldn't quite figure out why Bud wanted to name his baby after him when he always hated his name, Raymond Marquist Trosper.  He also didn't want to call him Raymond, he wanted to call him Mark after his father.    So we considered Mark Raymond, but there is a little egotism in naming your son a Jr.  so that's what we did.  
Jimmy was always going to be James after his grandfather's middle name.  His middle name was going to be Gavin after the family name of my patriarchal grandmother, McGavin.  Somehow in gratitude to my doctor we ended up changing it to James David.  Two very plain names for not plain Jimmy.  
We had a funny story about Scott's naming too.  My mother liked the name Scott and when she mentioned it we loved it too.  He was going to be Scott Timothy.  I had a dream in the hospital the night before having him c-section.  When I had the baby (in my dream) it was a boy.  See we were getting very used to the ideas of boys by this time.  Anyway in my dream they announced he was a boy and the "drug dealer" that was controlling my happy feelings said.  "What are you going to name him?"  I replied "Scott Timothy"  He said, "Scott Timothy Trosper, too many T's".  So the next morning before he was born Bud and I changed it to Scott Andrew.  

With all these plannings and imaginings, we are so primed and ready to LOVE the baby as it is born.  No one ever can imagine just how much they love that baby though.  When looking into the newborn's eyes, feeling their skin, counting their toes, smelling their smell, we are hooked.  Our hearts seem to stretch way out of our chests to encompass this little spirit straight from heaven.  The love grows beyond the baby, the family, the room, it seems to stretch out to all human kind because LOVE for a child is a gift that can't be explained.  I have heard it said that it isn't that dramatic for the daddy's, but I don't believe it.  All the daddies in my family have been swept into love and tears immediately by their newborn.  

So this one is easy, right?  

Luckily we have people to turn to for help.  New grandparents are usually very willing to lend a hand, neighbors, community members, church friends, but mainly God.  God is in partnership with you in raising these children.  He understands.  He has children of His own.  He has been frustrated with us at times, He has seen us not reach our potential, He keeps telling us over and over again.   Yep, he understands.  He mostly understands and tells us that LOVE is most important because He loves us.  

Even when that first child is laid on your chest, or your arms you can't imagine how much more your love will grow.  There will be times you may wonder if you "like" your child, but you will never not LOVE him.  

This might be a good time to tell you, or remind you.  These are not steps, they are elements of raising children that you will pass through again and again.  They will not go in order either.  It would be nice if we could get one down, and then the next.  

This is by far the easiest element though.  You did all the thinking and planning 9 months ago.  Now just go and LOVE THEM.