Mike and Cindy Schaffer: The Best We Remember

Tow and Rynie in 1988
One Family's Journal
Mike and Cindy Schaffer of Springfield, Missouri have a treasured written record of many of the things their children said and did while growing up. They started writing one month after their older son, Ryan—nicknamed Rynie—was born in 1981 and continued when their son Aaron—nicknamed Tow—was born in 1986.

Mike and Cindy are retired from the state of Missouri. She was a secretary and he was an employment counselor.

“When I went to work I wrote the children’s activities and sayings on my desk calendar just about every day,” Mike says. “At the end of the day I tore off the calendar page and brought it home where I kept the pages wrapped in a rubber band in a drawer. If something happened over the weekend I would try to remember it and write it on the calendar when I got back to work.”

The first entry, December 17, 1981: “Baby sitter said Ryan gagged himself trying to chew on his fingers. Wanted to be held all evening. Ate his cereal well. May be getting his appetite back after his first shot.”

December 29, 1981: “Got three bright toys for Christmas. Beads, key ring, train. He notices them now. Using his hands some now to grab and move them, but they usually end up in his mouth. Rolls over on his side. Looks intently at the bumper cars and the figures. Makes a lot more noise. Cackles, moans, grunts, whines and cries more than he once did.”

Some Sayings
Both boys had their special blankets when they were little. Mike recalls one morning when Tow was five years old and he got him up for the day that he tied his blanket into a little bit of a knot. That night when Tow went to bed with his blanket he said, “It’s not useful that way.”

Also when Tow was five, Mike wrote Tow was disappointed that Rynie got new soccer shoes and he didn’t. “My shoes are junk,” Tow said.

Seeing a stalled car at the side of a street Rynie said, “They wore out their gas.”

Watching the movie “Dancing with Wolves” with Cindy when a nude scene came up, Rynie said, “Mom do you like this movie?”

Tow: “Will you keep an ear on me while I swim?”

When Cindy told Rynie that tofu comes from bean curd he said, “Where is that?”

Tow’s description of a fried egg: “Put it in a pan and don’t bother it. And it makes a yellow lump.”

Rynie, when he wanted his dad to take him fishing: “Dad, you’ve lived a long time so you should know how to fish by now.”

A Good Time to Stop
The last entries in the journal were in 1995 when Rynie was fourteen years old and Tow was nine.

“It was a time when their interests were turning to friends and school activities, so it was good time for us to stop,” Mike says. Today, Rynie is married and he and his wife enjoy reading the journal. They have a son who is eleven years old. “He is very much like his father,” Mike says.

Tow goes to school part time at Ozarks Technical Community College.

“I love the journal,” Cindy says. “I would never have remembered all of those things if Mike hadn’t done that.”

“It’s priceless,” Mike says.

When Cindy and Mike retired, Cindy transcribed the calendar notes to a computer and added pictures of the boys. She included some scanned items in the boys’ handwriting including a letter Tow wrote from Bible camp and a short story by Rynie. The final eight-and-a-half-by-eleven memoir totals seventy-seven pages. They took the pages to a quick-print shop for binding in a plastic spiral with a clear plastic cover and had several copies printed. They titled the memoir, “The Best We Remember.”

Photo courtesy Cyndy and Mike Schaffer.

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