Monthly Archives: February 2013

399974_2289421214007_1081992229_nAs my oldest grandson, Chris turns 17 years of age, I find myself wondering just where the years have gone. I was there when he was born, and I’m certain it was just last week. Now he has grown so tall and handsome. He has been driving by himself for a year now, and that has changed things for his whole family, as he picks up his brother, Josh from school and drives him to games and to school. Chris, having a driver’s license has changed a lot of things…but how could he already be 17 years old.

Recently, Chris has taken an interest in cooking, and is not only cooking at his job, but he likes to cook at home too. He likes to bake as well, and has brought cookies to those of us blessed enough to receive some of them. He has a natural talent for cooking, and I would have to say that he comes by it naturally. His dad, my son-in-law, Kevin is an excellent chef as well. It is a blessing for my daughter, Corrie, because she not only gets help in the kitchen sometimes, but she also gets some excellent food too.

Chris is planning to take some college classes in his senior year of high school, to get ahead of the game for college, where he plans to get a business degree. How in the world could that baby, who was born just a week ago, be talking about college already?? How could he be talking at all?? He should still be a baby, not almost a grown man. Nevertheless, here we are…at his 17th birthday, the baby is gone, and in his place stands a young man of whom I am very proud. And while I hate the fact that he is growing up so fast, I love the man he is becoming. He is a good man, who doesn’t get into trouble. He is a hard worker, who is determined to make something of himself. He is a good student, who works hard for his grades. He is a mechanic in training, under the watchful eye of his dad. And most of all, he is a good Christian man, who loves God, and that, is the most important thing of all.

Today my first grandchild turns 17 years old. I can hardly believe that day is here already, and I couldn’t possibly be more proud of him. Happy birthday Chris!! we are all so proud of all your accomplishments. Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!

Mom SchulenbergToday is my mother-in-law’s 82nd birthday. If you ask her how old she is, she will likely tell you that she is 65. Alzheimer’s Disease has taken away her memory of the more recent years, but she is still here with us, and that is a blessing. She was recently in the hospital, and the doctors did not expect her to survive that stay. Nevertheless, she fooled them, because they don’t know what a fighter she is. They said that she would not be able to swallow again, and that drinking water would be impossible. Now, she is eating and drinking and getting stronger every day.

When a person gets into their 80’s, you learn to cherish each birthday, holiday, anniversary, and basically every day, because you don’t know how long you will have them with you. And when they are sick, you pray that they will, make it to the next holiday, or until someone in the family can come from another state to see them. Each moment that they are sick finds you praying for just a little more time with them. You begin to understand just how precious life is…how precious each moment is.

This birthday finds us thankful that my mother-in-law will reach another year of age. The age of 82, is one that we would not have expected her to reach, just a few short weeks ago. Now, she will get to celebrate one more birthday with the great grandson, her first great grandchild, Chris, who was born on her birthday…a very special birthday present. She gets to spend one more birthday with my father-in-law, the love of her life, who himself is recuperating from pneumonia. She will get to spend one more birthday with her family, who all love her very much.

At the age of 82, we all know that this could be my mother-in-law’s last birthday. She has lived a good, long life, and she is getting tired. Nevertheless, we will rejoice in the victory that she has achieved. We will celebrate her strength to fight her way back from the brink. We will laugh and sing and smile with her in celebration of one more birthday, and just a little more time. Happy birthday Mom!! We love you!!

Oh Those HatsWhen Prince William married Kate Middleton, the world became enthralled with the hats that were being worn by the elite female guests. It was as if the hat was the only part of the outfit that mattered. I watched when Prince Charles married my distant cousin, Diana Spencer, but I don’t recall so much fuss over the hats the women wore. Maybe there was a big fuss, but it just wasn’t what stuck in my mind. This time, however, the hats were the most important part of the pre-ceremony coverage. I was never one to wear hats much, in fact pretty much never by choice, so I couldn’t see the draw they seemed to have on the people in England. I suppose if I lived in England, I might think differently, and I also suppose that some of my English relatives would think I was a bit on the rogue side, for not conforming to the style.

I would also suppose that my grandmother, on my dad’s side, might be inclined to agree with them, if she were still alive, because she came from the era that had American women dressing somewhat similar to the English women…right down to the hats. When I look and those hats, all I can think, is how in the world do they keep their heads from flopping over from the weight of the hat. Now, I know that some of the hats were very light weight, even though they were big, but there were still those hats that weighed quite a lot. And the styles…well, wow!! Some of those women carried half a garden’s worth of flowers on their heads. They adorned them with peacock feathers, fake birds, ribbons, and many other such items. You could tell a woman’s social status by the hats they wore. And both the men and the women looked at the hats the women wore, although the men probably looked at the hats less that the other women at the event.

It’s not that I don’t like the look of a fancy hat on a woman, and in fact, I think many are just beautiful. I just wouldn’t want to have to wear one of them, myself. However, on my grandmother, those hats had a way of looking stunning. I have always thought my grandmother was beautiful, and so petite. She had an elegance about her that made you stop and take a second look.You just knew that she and her sisters were women of class and style. They knew what was the latest style, and they knew how to look elegant in those styles. They wore stylish dresses, carried parasols, and oh, those hats.

Angelic VoicesAs our 38th wedding anniversary approaches, I am reminded of the flurry of activity that was going on about this time in the planning stages of the ceremony. My wedding gown, which was made by my grandmother was finished, and it was beautiful. The rice bags were ready, and the flowers had been ordered. My cake, made by my Aunt Evelyn was ready, except for the final touches as it was placed on the reception table. Everything was coming together perfectly. We had only a few more days to wait until our wedding day arrived. My mind was filled with excitement, and my heart was filled with happiness.

My three younger sisters, Caryl, Alena, and Allyn, were going to sing at our wedding, and they had been practicing, and a little praying, that their part would turn out perfectly. The song I had chosen was called, “O Perfect Love” and I couldn’t imagine a better song for the love Bob and I had, and still have. Their voices blending in harmony as they practiced their song, were beautiful. I was amazed at how well, these my little sisters, only 15, 13, and 11 years old, could sing. Sometimes, the age of the voice doesn’t really matter, it is the pure, crystal clear beauty of the voice that matters.
Our Wedding_edited
That is what my sisters had…pure, angelic voices. I was so pleased that they were going to be singing at our wedding, and the song they were going to sing was so beautiful. I can still hear every word…every note, as the girls sang that song for me and my husband. It was like they were singing a prayer over our marriage. It was not just a popular song of the times, it was a hymn. It was, and is the most beautiful wedding song I have ever heard, and it was sung for Bob and me by the three angelic voices of my little sisters. Thank you Caryl, Alena, and Allyn, for your beautiful contribution to our wedding day. I love you all.

 
O Perfect Love

O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
that theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
whom thou forevermore dost join in one.

O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance,
of tender charity and steadfast faith,
of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
with childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.

Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
and to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
that dawns upon eternal love and life.

Chick MagnetFrom the time he was just a little boy, my nephew, Barry loved all things wheel related…from wagons to trucks, and especially tractors. Of course, when he was little he wasn’t allowed to do much serious driving, so he had to settle for a wagon or an old tractor that didn’t run. He was a serious macho man. He even wanted to forgo the entire school experience to stay home and work on trucks with his grandpa.

As he grew, and found out that refusal to attend school was not an option, he discovered that school had a few redeeming aspects after all…the girls. Like all little boys, this discovery made going to school bearable. He also found a new use for his wheels…and his first chick magnet was born. That was about 1987, and not much has changed as far as Barry’s love for most types of wheeled vehicles. These days, however, his chick magnet is reserved for the one chick that has the key to his heart…his wife Kelli.

Of course, Kelli probably wouldn’t go very far with him in the 1987 version of the chick magnet, so Barry has had to upgrade to a newer version…the pickup truck. Every girl would agree that while his wagon was very cute, it just doesn’t work well for going out on the town. And, lets face it, having your boyfriend pull you around in a wagon, would be a little bit embarrassing for a person in their twenties. That sort of thing tends to make you New Riding Lawn Mowerlook a little juvenile. Girls don’t really like that.

Barry has not outgrown his love for wheels of any type though. His riding lawn mower has replaced the broken down tractor, and the four wheeler ha replaced the little wagon. It is long gone too, except for the memories in pictures. Still, Barry hasn’t changed all that much really. I wouldn’t be surprised if that little boy doesn’t still live somewhere inside the man he has become. I’ll bet that when he looks a a little wagon in pictures or at the store, he remembers the good old days when the wagon was all the wheels he needed.

At the mall BestiesMy grand niece, Christina has to spend this, her 17th birthday, staying off of her feet after having surgery on her knee a few days ago. While I’m sure that the pain of her injured knee was far worse than the knee that is healing nicely, my guess is that fact does little to make her feel better about having to spend her birthday sitting in a chair waiting for this whole ordeal to be over.

The good news for Christina, is that her good friend and cousin, my granddaughter, Shai is spending part of the day with her. We have had several cousins in our family who were such good friends that they didn’t even seem like cousins, just friends. Christina and Shai were born 5 days apart, with another cousin Chris in there to, at 4 days after Christina. We were a busy bunch at that time. With Chris being a boy, he didn’t get into the girl thing with Christina and Shai.

Christina and Shai have many of the same interests. They love shopping, and used to hang out at the mall as much a possible. They both like all the girlie things, from make up, to hair dye, to jewelry, to clothes. But probably the thing that stands out the most about these girls is that they are just plain goofy when they get together. They are always posting the funniest pictures together, just to see if they can get a laugh out of their Goofy Shai and ChristinaPretty girlsfriends. The goofier the face they make, the more they like the picture.

Today is Christina’s 17th birthday, and it has been a difficult one with the knee surgery. Christina, I hope you have a good day in spite of the pain you are in. We love you very much. Happy birthday Christina. If you can’t have a great day, at least have a goofy one between the pain med doses.

Little RonWhen you are one of two brothers, in a family of six children, your life is spent with a whole lot of female influence, and with most sisters, that means being bossed around a lot. Now if you happen to be the youngest boy and the youngest child, you usually get a double dose from each sister. Such was the case for my brother-in-law, Ron. My in-laws essentially had to families, even though all the children have the same parents. Marlyce was the oldest, with Debbie following 3 years later. Bob is 17 months younger than Debbie. Then it would be 7 years before Jennifer came along. Brenda would follow 2 years later, and Ron was born 5 years after Brenda. So the older kids were like one family and the younger kids were like another, even though Ron is 5 years younger than Brenda. That put the two brothers 14 years apart.

Now, you would expect that so many years between them would have made it impossible to have a very close relationship, but you would be wrong. I think that by the time Ron came along, Bob had pretty much given up on the idea of having a brother, so when Ron was born, I think Bob decided that the brothers needed to stick together, since it was them against all the women in the family. Bob moved out of the house when he was 19, and Ron was almost 6. It was about this time that I met Bob.

Our dating days were different than some, I suppose, because often times we took Ron along. He was a happy little 6 year old boy, and who wouldn’t be, when his big brother and his brother’s girlfriend allowed him to go along to places like Dairy Queen. He was a Ron nowgood little boy, and the three of us always had a great time. Little kids can be so funny, and we enjoyed his joyful presence. I had never had a brother, so to me,  Ron has always been that brother I never had. And like most siblings, I could almost say that I have known him since birth…although not quite.

I know there may be other brothers who got to do the things Ron did because their big brother liked having them around, but I don’t know of any. Most big brothers just want their kid brother to leave them alone. For Bob and Ron, their relationship then, and now is a blessing to both of them, and therefore very cool. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday little…ok, big now…brother!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Marlyce Schulenberg & Debbie Schulenberg - 1953My sister-in-law, Debbie is the second of my in-law’s six children, but in many ways she is the oldest. Her older sister, Marlyce was born developmentally disabled. Even though Debbie was three years younger, she quickly became the oldest child. Marlyce would always be a child, in an adult body, and that would leave Debbie to be the second child, but really the oldest child. I would imagine that while she didn’t feel like the oldest in some ways, she was strangely the oldest in others. Marlyce would never be able to babysit their siblings, because she was not mature enough, so the babysitting would have to be Debbie. Any other responsible duties would also have to go to Debbie, because Marlyce could Debbie keeping Bob in linenot do those things. Marlyce did learn to make amazing cookies, but this, too was done under supervision.

Through the years, that had to have been a strange thing for Debbie…knowing that her sister was older, but she didn’t really seem older. I would think that it might have even been confusing for a child, but Marlyce was her big sister, and by the time Debbie was 17 months old, she also had a little brother, my husband, Bob. That brought even bigger responsibilities for the middle sister, of the older three children of her parents. And, the middle sister she would remain for 7 years after the birth of her brother. Then she would become the second child, but again the oldest child, when her 3 youngest siblings were born, and her mom and dad needed her Marlyce, Debbie, & Bob  - 1957help even more. The older children have always helped with the younger children, and while Marlyce always loved babies, she could not fully take care of them, like her little sister, Debbie could.

Nevertheless, as much as Debbie was the older child when it came to most things, she was not the oldest child, and for her, probably never considered herself to be the older child. The things Marlyce couldn’t do were really of no consequence, because Marlyce was very much loved, and she was simply the oldest child. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

CCI06282012_00015a_editedGrandma Byer at the GulfWhen a couple has been married for many years, as my mom and dad were, before his passing, the years beyond their earthly time together reminds me of the recent version of the Titanic, where Rose had to go on after Jack’s death, to live the life he had encouraged her to live. The loss of a spouse can be such a devastating event, that sometimes people just close themselves off from life, and waste away. Of course, not every spouse who is left behind is physically able to go out and have the many adventures that Rose had, but many of those have children who step in and take them to places they could not go on their own.

Rose could have gone back to the man she was engaged to, who was abusive, and mean in every way, but she chose to take the opportunity that had presented itself, and make a new life for herself…a very brave thing to a single woman to do in that era, considering she also had to escape her mother’s selfish ways, by also not telling her that she had survived.

My mom’s mother, and my mom both lost their spouses after more than 50 years of marriage, and while neither of them would travel alone after that, both have taken many trips over the years since becoming widows. Before my grandmother passed away, 8 years after my grandfather, she took several trips, including one to Ireland with her sisters and brother, and one to Louisiana to visit her son. Looking at the pictures from those places reminded me of the adventures Rose had after Jack passed away. And I’m quite certain that my grandfather would have been most pleased with her travels, and excited that she got to make the journeys.

My mom has also had the opportunity to do some traveling since my dad’s passing. They always loved the Black Hills, and my sister, Cheryl takes her every year over the 4th of July week, when Bob and I, and several other family members go, and she gets to continue to enjoy the magesty of the Black Hills. This past week, Cheryl, Mom and I traveled through Montana, Idaho, and Eastern Washington to attend my uncle’s funeral, and Mom got to go from the lakes to the mountain tops. She didn’t hike, of course, and at times it was hard work to get her where we all wanted to go, but we persevered and it went very well.

It is so important that the surviving spouse takes that journey beyond loss, IMG_3366_editedDad and Mombecause their spouse would want them not only to survive, but flourish. They would want them to remember the past, but live in the here and now. In many ways, they are taking their spouse along with them…especially if the trip is to a place they both had wanted to go, but didn’t get to. Things change in this life, but life is for the living, and time marches on, so we must keep the love for those lost, in our hearts, and live the rest of our lives in the ways that bring us joy.

Plowing up the farmerSometimes I think my family had a lot of comedians in its past. As I look through the pictures from every part of my family, I continue to come up with pictures that are obviously staged intending to get a reaction. So many of the pictures I have seen from the past have families sitting in a studio without one smile among them, so it is surprising to see random pictures that show the subjects posed in odd ways or acting out  moments of the old west. At first I thought these were post cards…until I recognized my grandfathers and other family members in the pictures. They were just posing for pictures that they could send back home to get a laugh out of the family back there, or just to show their friends. Either way, it tells me that my family has some great imaginations or a funny bone.

When I first looked at this picture, I didn’t notice anything unusual, but upon closer examination, I saw the man I believe to be my great uncle low to the ground in front of the plow. At first I thought I was seeing things. I looked again thinking it might be a child, but it was definitely a man. Then I wondered how he was so low to the ground. He looked like he was in a hole up to his waist, but that was not the case. No, he was actually sitting in the furrow, so that it looked like he had just been plowed up. And the funny thing was that he was able to keep a perfectly straight face. Now I would have been laughing for sure if I was trying to pull that off. I guess that there are people who just have a knack for keeping a straight face in a joke situation.

Now that isn’t always the case, however. When my grandfather was involved Fake Robberyin a mock hold up, they simply couldn’t keep a straight face, including the intended victim. Those situations can be as funny as the ones where the comedian can keep a straight face, because when they get to laughing, it is contagious. You just laugh in spite of yourself. And that’s ok too. I have found many interesting characters in my family’s past, and they are each interesting in different ways. I think I would have enjoyed very much getting to know all of them. The comedians would have been especially fun, because there would never be a dull moment, and when you think about it, we can all use a good laugh from time to time.