Thursday, June 17, 2010

Early Memories and Birthday Traditions -- Chapter 2 in My Life Story

I'm a bit stumped on how to write chapter two in my life story, since chapter one was such an intense story.  At Mommy's Piggy Tales we are writing 15 parts to our story, and this chapter is supposed to be preschool or kindergarten years.  There is no one outstanding event in those years for me, or a cohesive theme of smaller events, so I decided to post some of my earliest memories and some of the birthdays I enjoyed.  

In my last chapter, I referred to my brave and loving mother, and many of you praised her in your comments.  Thank you so much for doing that.  I neglected to share that she passed away last year right before I had my first child, which is why my childhood stories I heard from her are all the more precious.  I won't take time here, but if you would like to read a few other posts I wrote about Sue Benzing, please click on the "My Mom" label I have at the end of this post.  I couldn't continue writing without putting my memories in their current context (does that make sense?).

You may not believe me, but one of my earliest memories is being in a crib, which is pretty darn early, because I got my first little sister Anna before I turned two, and I moved into a big girl bed so she could have the crib.  I remember when Anna was born we went to visit my mom in the hospital.  The memories are very vague, but I recall being in the elevator going to see her.  My mom told me that when my brother Nathan and I were waiting for our baby to be born, my parents would say "it will be Anna or Nicholas", so when we left with Anna, we cried, wondering where Nicholas was.  We thought we'd get both of them, I guess!  

The next big event in my life was breaking my collarbone.  I was sharing a room with my brother so Anna could have the nursery, and sleeping in a big girl twin bed.  I remember that room so clearly!  It had 1-2-3 curtains (which I'm certain my mom sewed) and gingham wallpaper and a hard wood floor (which is good for toys!).  I fell out of my bed in the middle of the night (I was not quite two), and cried, of course, but calmed down and went back to sleep.  The next day, my mother was dressing me, and I would cry when she moved my arm!  Turns out my collarbone was broken!  I guess that's what happens when babies fall out of their beds onto hard wood floors, haha!

When I was two, I got a riding toy in the shape of a shoe.  Our driveway was at an incline (street at the top, garage at the bottom), so we would take our trikes, big wheels, or shoe, as it were, to the top of the driveway and would fly down the hill.  The shoe did not have pedals, but it didn't need them!  I could just pick up my feet and WHEEEEEEE!  We must have spent hours a day running up and riding down.  Same concept as sledding.

I sucked my thumb until I was four, and people often asked me what flavor it was.  I thought it was SUCH a dumb question, but I came up with a response so they would leave me alone, and I would answer "chocolate".  Similarly, I now tell people Susie's thumb tastes like strawberry when they say "does it taste good?"  Side note -- my teeth stayed straight. . . so I have a hard time worrying about Susie sucking her thumb.

My mom made us a special birthday cake every year.  I do not remember very many birthday presents, but I do remember what kind of cake we had.  She made a yummy whipped cream frosting for a round 2 layer cake that looked thick and a mile tall to a small child.  Sometimes the cake had a number candle, sometimes it had gumdrops decorating the top (or around the sides), I think it once had a plastic train for my brother's birthday, but the cake itself was the same shape and kind.  And birthday parties meant my mom's whole family came over, and pretty much hyper play time was the order of the day.  This first picture is of my 2nd birthday.  Someone had given me gum, and I was quite enjoying the gum, but not sure how to blow out my candles with gum in my mouth!  In a (soundless) home video, you see a hand reach out for me to put the gum in.  HAHA!  Classic!

Here is another birthday picture, this time, my third.  You can see my sister Anna in the background being held up by her big brother!  So funny!  The other kids are my cousins Robbie and Rachel.  I love how we (the big kids -- hee hee) are so dressed up, while poor baby Anna is already in her jammas!  For whatever reason, I remember quite a few birthday celebrations taking place after church at our house.  This cake was especially decorated with gumdroppy fruit slice candies!  

One time on my birthday, I got to go to "Johnny's Toys" which was a local toy store in Cincinnati and pick out something from the birthday room.  I think I may have been 4 or 5, but I can't remember.  I do however, remember the TOWER of toys in that room, all wrapped in the same red and white striped wrapping paper.  What to choose?  You could only get one!  The shelves seemed to groan with red and white packages, and I blindly chose . . . a clown doll.  It was okay, but maybe not a girl's dream come true present!  

Gretchen age 5
However, there was one year when my dream DID come true!  What on earth could I have wanted more in 1984 than a . . . CABBAGE PATCH DOLL?  Oh me, oh my, we wanted wanted wanted those cute things.  My mom caught the fever with us because she thought they were adorable, too.  And hard to come by for a while there.  That's why, when we came upon a whole slew of them in a store right before Anna's birthday, Mom told us each to pick one out.  Anna would get hers for her birthday, and we'd have to wait until our birthdays came.  Anna picked a red-haired braided girl named Maude Marcella, and I found Catalina Jackie who was wearing a ruffly blue dress with a pink rosette.  Nathan chose a boy Cabbage Patch (Geoffrey something).  When May 15th came, and Anna had her birthday, there was ADORABLE red-headed Maude at her party, and I was soooooo jealous!  I had to wait until July 26th to get my turn!  The next day, Nathan hatched a plan (he was much like his A-team hero, Hannibal).  He and I would rake the yard (it was freshly mowed) without being asked and then request our dolls early (his was super early, his birthday wasn't until January).  I don't know if the sight of 2 little kids trying to earn her favor caused my mom to cave, or if she was planning all along to let us have them early, but she agreed to let us open our precious dolls that day.  I can still remember exactly how it felt to hold a new doll for the first time after she was finally freed from her package (remember those early oddly shaped Cabbage Patch boxes?  The top was smaller than the bottom, so you had to open the doll from the bottom.).  Those Cabbage Patches were our hands-down FAVORITE toys for many years.  I am so sad that I do not have a picture of me with Catalina to share with you here. 

Those were my preschool years!  Not a great deal of happenings, but that is how life goes, quite often.  I remember a good number of golden days and fun at home with my parents and my siblings.


Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Love this!!! Great Pictures and I do remember the Cabbage Patch insanity...but I had boys at that time. Precious memories and love how you wrote them.

Anonymous said...

well...I was rather ticked that it was MY birthday and we all got presents...still not over it. ;)


Gretchen said...

Anna, how old were we? I was thinking you were 4 when you got Maude, does that sound right?

Hafeli Ever After said...

You have a lot of fun memories! Good writing too, Gret!

Emily Benzing said...

Um, Nathan devising a plan rake the yard is hilariously adorable! :)

Loved this! Can't wait for the next chapter. :)

Gretchen said...

Thanks, Kari! I've thought of so many other things to include since I wrote this post late last night -- sooooo exhausted! -- so I might do a part 2 to chapter 2 tomorrow. I didn't want to make one post too long!

Anonymous said...

actually it was my 3rd birthday that I got Maude...But I didn't pick her out! Mom ordered it weeks before my birthday, and it came in a plain shipping box, and we weren't even sure if it would be a girl! It was, and I loved her.. a couple days after my birthday we were walking through Montgomery Ward and there was a tower of Cabbage Patch Kids...Mom let you two pick out one for your birthdays because they were so hard to come by, I think she didn't think she'd get another chance. But, I was such a brat because my doll had already been played with and wasn't in the box....yours were new. AND yours had a lacy dress. sigh...Maudey still smells good though! :)


gianna said...

They still make the cabbage patch kids boxes the same! It's crazy! And I remember the candy fruit slices! Oh, yum! yum! I don't think I ever had mine on my cake, though!

Debi said...

Your pictures are so sweet. They speak volumes.
I enjoyed your narrative of life in the preschool years.
Looking forward to next week.

Donette said...

I love all your memories! I had a Cabbage Patch redheaded doll that was the world to me. I remember getting her for no specific reason - just because my mom found one on the shelf and she knew how much I wanted one.

Anonymous said...

We always tried to make birthdays special especially Mom. I love those pictures of you in your party dresses and perfect hair. Her birthday would have been this Sunday (20) What fun she would be having with Susie and Cede. By the way we wnet to see Willy Wonka at Parkland last night and Cede got to hug Willy after the play.

Ginny Marie said...

Reading your post brings back so many memories of my own! I broke my collarbone twice, and remember both times very well! My sister sucked her thumb, and she got the same question a million times! I was too old to want a Cabbage Patch Doll, but my sister got one for her birthday before they were popular. That next Christmas was when it was really hard to find them!

I had so much fun reading through your memories!

Brittany said...

I still have my Cabbage Patch doll. I had a bald boy because that's what I really wanted. I was WAY too old to get a doll, but I really wanted him. I got him for my birthday from my Grannny.