How High Did She Go?

Now that I think about it 30 years later, it was funny, but it wasn’t at the time. My first son had a hard time accepting the fact that he had to share his home with his little sister. When they were both very young my daughter came running into house screaming and crying. I asked her what was wrong, but she couldn’t speak. I interrogated her brother. He said that he took a board and put it across a log and told his sister to stand on one end. He then climbed on top of the dog house and jumped onto the other end of the board and she went flying. I was furious. I yelled at him and asked why he would do such a thing. He said, “But, you wouldn’t believe how high she went!”

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Pinon Nuts

I lived in Utah, a long time ago, in the way outback, working on a construction site. There were a lot of native Navajo Native Americans working as welders. As you were talking to them, they would constantly be cracking and crunching on pinion nuts. Kind of like pistachios, but you had to crack them open with your teeth. Being the curious soul that I am, I asked were they got these nuts. I was told that their wives harvested them. I visited a neighbor/Navajo, while he was there, and asked his wife for directions. She told me how to get there and it sounded real simple. I’m simple, it should work.

I didn’t have a four-wheel drive and set out on roads for which there are no maps. I drove through massive canyons, just following the tire tracks. I must have missed a turn. At one point the road followed an old chopped up river bed and ran into a series of small ledges that got bigger the farther I got. One particular ledge made me aware that I would not get back up the same way I came. I met up with a small river I would have to cross. The tire tracks I’d been following could be seen on the muddy hill on the other side. I would have to get a running start, cross the river, shoot up the hill and make a sharp left turn.

A herd of cows were blocking the way. They weren’t disturbed by the sound of my horn. I got out and chased them away to make a hole, but by the time I started again, they had closed the gap. After a couple times of getting out and moving the cows only to have them play the same dirty trick again, I just drove like a maniac straight at them, and they parted like the Red Sea at the last minute. Scared? You bet. Lost? Of course. Several hours later I found the main highway, got out and kissed it, and headed home.

As I was driving back, I remembered that they sold pinion nuts at the general store. Not wanting to come home and lose face, I stopped and paid about five dollars for a handful of pinions. When I got home I showed them to my wife to show her that if there are pinion nuts that need finding, I’m your man. I also told her what I’d gone through to find them. She figured out where I got the pinions after a trip to the general store and after I broke under questioning.

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It Will Be Alright

There are times when we need to be told that everything is going to be alright. Life is hard and there are times when you will feel like giving up. Don’t. It will be alright. It may not be the same, it may not be what you expected, it may hurt, but you will be alright.

I’ve seen trouble in my life. There were times when I thought I couldn’t go on. But I know that I’m not alone. Every single person in the world is carrying a heavy load.

It would be nice if someone just held you close and said, “It will be alright” and fixed all your problems, but that’s not going to happen. Most friends and family will usually give you their opinion and tell you what you should do. That’s not what you need to hear. This is. You’ve been through troubles before. You’ve made it this far. Don’t forget that. Hold yourself close.

From me to you, I promise that it will be alright.

Curt Struna

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Adventures in Midwifery

Whenever I tell anyone that I delivered each of my three children, I get an odd look. When my wife, Barbara, became pregnant with our first child, she was determined to have the child delivered in a birthing-room, which was a novelty at the time. For those unfamiliar with this term, a birthing-room is different than the usual room where one gives birth at a hospital. Instead of the cold, clinical room where this event usually takes place, a birthing-room, which is also in a hospital, has a regular bed, an easy chair or couch, a television, and perhaps a refrigerator. The idea is to make the person giving birth as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately for us, the nearest hospital that had a birthing room was in the next state, two and one-half hours away. During the drive to the first visit with the obstetrician, I was informed that this doctor was famous for allowing expectant fathers to be present during the birth. I figured that being present during the birth was the least I could do. During the meeting that we had with the doctor, he asked if I wanted to deliver the child, with him present. This was a new concept that he was trying to foster. His rationale was that the mother carried the baby, gave birth to it, fed it, and the inevitable result was that mother and child would naturally bond. By having the father deliver the child, the father is expected to feel that he has been part of the process, and consequently, bond with the infant and child better than if he had not. The doctor asked me if I was interested. I said I would do it because the due date was so distant that I thought that they would forget that I had said I would. They didn’t. I told my mother what I was going to do and she told me that when she was giving birth, my father hid in the woods. When I told my father, he said I was crazy.

Because of the distance from the hospital to our home, I was given books on emergency child birth. I studied them. We took Lamaze classes. Lamaze is intended to involve the father in the pregnancy and make the birthing process easier for the mother. I’ll tell you now that it didn’t work for Barbara. Pain-killers would have worked, but she had planned on a drug-free birth.

One day after work Barbara told me that she was having contractions and that it was time to drive to the hospital. Actually, she had been having contractions all day and had waited for me to get home. We made the drive to the hospital, settled into the room, and as she was having the very painful contractions, I tried my Lamaze skills out. Either Lamaze doesn’t work or I was doing something wrong. I blame it on the former. I did my best to comfort her, but it didn’t help. I confess that I spent the rest of the night watching old World War I movies on the television in the room. She had contractions all night. There was much screaming and every now and then a nurse would come in, or my wife would send me to get the nurse, who would come in, take a look and say that it wasn’t time yet. If there had been woods nearby, I would have made a run for it. In the hours just before dawn, it was finally time. The doctor showed up and told me to put on a gown, scrub my hands and follow his instructions, which I did.

After the head emerged, he said that the umbilical cord was wrapped around the infant’s neck, and he guided me through unwrapping it, and we finally had the successful birth of a boy. I have failed to mention that my wife is as tough as nails. After a couple of hours she announced that it was time to go home and we did. On the way, we stopped beside a stream; she sat on a rock and held the new baby while I took a picture. The baby’s name was Mark.

For the second child we went to the same hospital and used the same doctor. When it was time, my brave wife told me that it was time to go and we drove to the hospital. We were told that the old birthing room was taken and we were steered to a newer birthing room. When it was time to give birth, the doctor and two nurses showed up. One of the nurses pushed a few buttons and panels slid back in the ceiling and flood-lights emerged. Hidden panels slid back in the walls and trays came out. What had been a bedroom turned into an operating room. For everyone but Barbara, it was a fairly easy birth. I had brought a tape player and played the song “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder right after the birth and the nurses started crying. It’s the song that he wrote after the birth of his daughter. After a little while they wanted to take the infant out of the room to take foot-prints and blood samples. Barbara insisted that I not let the baby out of my sight, so I followed a nurse around the hospital and made sure that the same baby that had left the room was the same baby that came back. After a two hour nap, Barbara insisted on going home, so we did. We stopped at the same stream as previously, Barbara sat on the same rock and held the baby while I took their picture. This baby’s name was Elizabeth.

For our third child, Barbara decided to use a midwife and have the baby at home. The closest one lived over an hour away. During a snowstorm in the middle of winter, in the middle of the night, Barbara announced that it was time. She called the midwife who arrived two hours later with a nurse in tow. In the meantime, I was told to take the other two children to their grandmother’s house. My wife had told the midwife that I would be performing the delivery. This did not sit well with the midwife. She tried to get me out of the way by making me ill. She said that if you fried the afterbirth with onions, it tasted great. I turned green and got nauseous, but I didn’t leave the room. I delivered that baby too. His name was Erich.

Here’s what I learned. My wife is a very, very tough person. If men had to suffer through pregnancy and give birth, no children would be born. Finally, if you have a chance to be present during the birth of a child, do it.

Curt Struna

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To Summer at Eighteen

November 1994

Dear Summer,

Eighteen years ago I stood looking at you—fresh-born—through the big glass window in the hospital nursery, watching the nurses try to count your tiny toes. Minutes old, you were bright-red-screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs unbounded life, squirming and kicking in every direction—quite a challenge to those toe-counting nurses. How I wanted to reach through the window, to be closer to you as you celebrated your newfound freedom. From behind the glass, I breathed a promise: I would never stand in the way of your freedom. « Continue reading »

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Loving Summer

I think summer is the by far the best time of the year! Not just because the weather is warm and the days long. I love it because my daughter is home all day long. Now, for some people that may not be exactly a good thing but I really believe it is a matter of perspective. In the grand scheme of things, we have these children for such a short time. I want to enjoy and appreciate every moment. Sometimes that means playing a video game I don’t necessarily want to play. Sometimes it means watching a show I don’t necessarily want to watch. But if watching that show or playing that game gives me a moment where my daughter snuggles up close to me… I’ll take it every time. You see, I know and accept that there will come a day (all too soon) when she will be too old for snuggling and video games with dad. She will be talking on the phone and focused on her social life and that is how it should be I guess. I just don’t want to look back with any regrets… longing for a time when she wanted to be with me but I was too busy. Summer allows me this time more than ever and that is why it is my favorite time of the year!

One safety note that is just as applicable in summer as during the rest of the year.  Our children will face more and greater risks/threats out there than ever before.  It can leave us feeling overwhelmed and helpless.  Luckily technology has provided a way to mitigate much of the risk to our children by helping us directly identify the exact individuals that should not be associated with them to begin with.  Online background check sites (the good and reliable ones at least) can help you learn tons of information such as criminal records or even a quick nationwide sex offender registry check.  There is a wealth of information you can access in a single report and it can be done online, anonymously and it is completely legal.  Prices for the background check itself costs a minimum of $14.95 but can also be a bit higher depending how deep of a search you wish to perform.  I use http://www.CompleteReviews.net to help me find the best possible background checks on the market today. They conduct in-depth testing on all the major background check providers and then recommend the best options.  They will also answer any questions you might have related to background checks.

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Don’t Try To Outsmart Your Dad!

A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss his use of the car.

His father said he’d make a deal with his son: ‘You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible a little, and get your hair cut. Then we’ll talk about the car.’

The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he’d settle for the offer, and they agreed on it.

After about six weeks his father said, ‘Son, you’ve brought your grades up and I’ve observed that you have

been studying your Bible, but I’m disappointed you haven’t had your hair cut.

The boy said, ‘You know, Dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had longhair, Moses had long hair…and there’s even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair.’

To this his father replied, ‘Did you also notice they walked everywhere they went?’

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Savor the Teachable Moments

I recently had an inspiring parenting moment with my 3 year old daughter. It was late and I was tired after a long day. I made a conscious decision to get down on the floor with her and play, even though I really wanted to be distracted by the 10 other things on my to-do list. While Lucy and I were playing with one of her favorite toys, she became frustrated about something and walked out of the room. « Continue reading »

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While Like A Giant, Proud And Happy

Tonight I am up late… remembering.  I love the power of memory as it intertwines with emotion to form a temporary reality.  In quiet solitude, this gift of memory allows me to sit for awhile with my mother who passed away many years ago.  It gives me glimpses into moments I will forever cherish and allows me to relive past experiences that define the meanings of my life.  Tonight an open window in my mind has taken me back to a very special place where I learned a new meaning to the word “love”… « Continue reading »

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Fireworks and Memories

She is sitting on my lap as we gaze into the night sky.  This may be the last year she will be willing to do that.  She’s growing up so fast and pretty soon snuggling with Daddy will be embarrassing rather than comforting.  She lays her head against my chest and I smile.  Above us, cascading explosions of light and color brighten the darkness.  I glance down at her wonder filled face.  She doesn’t notice me looking at her so I take a moment to drink in her innocent beauty.  She is my little girl, my grown up baby.  With every flash in the sky, pictures fill my mind of different times when I have looked at this precious face… « Continue reading »

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