After I finished writing my preschool/kindergarten post for Mommy's Piggy Tales, I kept remembering more and more memories that I had left out of the post. So, this may be less than perfect, but I decided to go ahead and write part two!
One special thing for me took place when I was four. My cousin Janet, who was quite a bit older than me was getting married and she asked me to be her flower girl. ME!! I was sooooo flattered and excited. I got to wear a fancy dress and carry a flower basket and be with the pretty bride! I was actually kind of shy in these early years (if you knew me now you'd never believe it), so the thought of everyone watching me and talking to me didn't really appeal, but I shelved those thoughts and focused on the pretty wedding. I remember Janet sent my mom a swatch of fabric from the bridesmaids dresses, and when my mom pulled it out of the envelope, we were just ecstatic. It was PURPLE! So my mom bought a very traditional 80's cotton print with tiny rosebuds on it in lavender for my dress and she and my Grammy made it. The sleeves were VERY puffed and when I tried on just the top part, I even felt pretty in it then. My brother Nathan came in when Mom and Grammy were pinning me and said that I looked like Bo Peep -- which I totally took as a compliment. Bo Peep is pretty, right? She's got that dress and bow and everything! The absolute BEST part about my dress was that the skirt was so full, it was a complete circle. My mom took me to Olan Mills to have my picture taken in the dress, and I posed sitting on the floor with a large circle of skirt around me. Mom braided my hair and then crossed the braids over my head and tucked in flowery combs -- which is the way I styled my little sister Abby's hair for my wedding in 2001! That cross-braid style was also a fave for me in college, where I liked people think I had hair like Princess Leia.
Another really special event for me also took place when I was four. I got my ears pierced! Looking back, I was pretty young, but I remember wanting to get them pierced for quite a while, and having to wait. One day we saw a little girl in a restaurant who was about my age, and I pointed her out to my mother. We had a serious conversation about the possibility of me getting mine pierced before Janet's wedding. And that is what we did. My mom made it a big occasion for me. We went to the jewelry store at the mall, and she chose gold ball earrings for me. I remember that it REALLY hurt, but mom suggested that if we went to get ice cream I wouldn't be able to think about my ears hurting! She was so clever. By telling me the ice cream was to get my mind off it, she did just the trick, because I knew my ice cream was medicine for my pain! I picked raspberry ice cream and I remember so vividly the tart taste of the ice cream and the stinging in my ears. Not long after that, my mom took Anna to get hers pierced too, and she chose the same earrings and same flavor of ice cream that I had. Mom really was amazing about making things even for us. It never dawned on me that I waited until I was four to get my ears pierced, and Anna was only two! Mom did well to prevent us from being primadonnas -- we might have played princess, but we knew reality! There was more than one girlie girl on the planet.
The Christmas before I turned two, we all got the chicken pox. Looking back, I wonder how on earth my Mom dealt with it, being pregnant with Anna and having two tiny ones so sick! And my cousins got them, too (Robbie and Rachel), so we went ahead and got together at Christmas anyway. There is a great picture of us all spotty lined up by the tree, but I do not know where that is. Here is another picture of Nathan and I that year with my cousin Geoff. He was a couple years older and must have already had them or something, because we could not visit my Benzing family that year at Christmas because there were SO MANY cousins, and too many had not yet gotten them. It must have been a sad Christmas, but since I don't remember it, I counted myself fortunate to have gotten the chicken pox so young. Now that I'm a parent, I cannot imagine how sad it would be for Susie to get chicken pox at Christmas and having to keep her away from her cousins!
Back then my Grandma and Grandpa on my dad's side lived in a house "out in Morrow", as it was referred to, which was on the property of a Girl Scout camp! They did not live there long, and I have infinitely more memories of the house they lived in for years and years after that, but I remember how log cabin-y the house was, and the player piano we'd watch and listen to in wonder. Grandpa often had Girl Scout cookies on hand -- which was a big bonus to us! I have jillions of cousins on that side of the family, and we had so much fun running around outside there. I distinctly remember sliding down the metal cellar doors over and over like it was a slide. Who needs a playground? Kids will improvise! I'm posting this family picture at that house from 1983, which would have been the year I turned 5. This is just a small fraction of the big Benzing family!
Here's a closer picture of me, perhaps from the same day, wearing a Strawberry Shortcake dress Mom made matching for Anna and me. This dress is just like the popular pillowcase dresses that are all the rage today! Man, Mom sure was ahead of her time! We loved those Strawberry Shortcake dresses!!
One thing you'll notice I have no memories of in my preschool and kindergarten days is school! My mom had been a teacher and was a pioneer back in the early '80's homeschooling her children. She was pretty free with us in the earliest years -- no sitting with seatwork, no boring, repetitive, pointless activities. Just lots of good books and reading and DOING and learning! I'll say more about my schooling experience in the next post -- it was wonderfully unique and enjoyable, just like the rest of my golden early years.