Monthly Archives: July 2013

img426I never really had the chance to know my dad’s mom, because she died when I was just a little over 2 months old, but looking through an old autograph book that belonged to her, I found…between the lines written there…a few lessons passed down to me from her. They were lessons taught by the girl she was, to the granddaughter she only briefly knew. It’s funny the things you can learn from words that the teacher didn’t even write. I think that might be because the things that people say or write to you show to a degree the type of person you are. People naturally don’t want to hurt the feelings of their friends, so they try to agree with their friend’s beliefs, or they are careful around them. That was the kind of person my grandmother was. People respected her and wanted to live up to her standards. I like that. Oh, I know that those people might have just said that because it was her, and not meant a word, and I know that many of the autographs were the poetry of that day, and this, in some cases, but it seemed important that she like them and respect them.

One of the things I know about my grandmother from hearing about her all my life is that she was a hard working woman. My grandfather worked for the railroad, and he was away much of the time. That left the running of the farm and the everyday life of the kids to her. She never even flinched. She saw what needed to be done, and she did it. She showed her children the way they should do things, and they all turned into respectable and responsible people. Of course, I realize that the way kids turn out is not totally up to their Anna Louise Spencerparents, because the influences of the world are there too, but much of what they learn and live, at least when they are young, is from their parents.

As her birthday approaches on August 3rd, it occurs to me that she would have been 126 years old…impossible I know, but it tells me that the lessons of my grandmother really never become out dated. If we stand by our values, and let others know that we stand by our values, they will respect us and our values. If we compromise our values, others will know that we are fake. My grandmother was not fake. She was the kind of person that people wanted to be like. That is a great honor. And her friends felt honored to know her.

scan0103Those firsts in the world of aunts and uncles are among the coolest of times in a person’s life…often the closest thing to having your own kids. Quite often the first time you become an aunt or uncle, you are still pretty young, unless you are the oldest child. For my two younger sisters-in-law and my brother-in-law, they were 14, 12, and 7 years old. Becoming aunts and uncle was a very exciting time for them. My sisters and I became aunts 4 years earlier when my sister Cheryl had her daughter, Chantel. For Bob’s family, with the exception of Debbie, Corrie was the child who made them aunts and uncle, and they were quite excited about Brenda & Corrieit. I could relate, for sure!

Jennifer would become our first babysitter, and would also have the most difficult time of it when she found out that Amy could be very hard to feed, since Amy and bottles…well, let’s just say they would never be friends. Brenda got to babysit when they were about 3 and 4, so she didn’t have to deal with Amy’s bottle boycott, and probably had a lot more fun with it, because she could play with them more. Ron…on the other hand, never really babysat the girls much; he was simply their playmate, which might have been the best deal of all. One thing I know for sure, Ron was always happy when he got to hold the babies by himself. I guess it made him feel grown up. Growing up around your aunts and uncles to a large degree was such a blessing for the girls. There was scan0097always someone to do things with, and later on, the tables turned, and they became the babysitters, so it paid off to a degree that their aunts and uncle took care of them.

Becoming aunts and uncle, changed the lives of my sisters-in-law and brother-in-law forever, as it does for all of us. Helping out with the raising of those precious little ones that you have been blessed with, is an amazing opportunity, and a big responsibility. Those kids look up to you, and it is important to give them a good role model. I am glad that the aunts and uncles my girls had…on both sides of the family were great role models, and I love each and every one of them very much.

Raelynn and Audrianna It’s funny sometimes how a child can take on the personality of their aunt, or even great aunt. Such is the case with my grand niece, Raelynn, who is so like my sister, Allyn in that both of them figured out a way to avoid most spankings…without even trying!! When my niece, Dustie told me that a stern look can make Raelynn cry, I thought back to when Allyn was a little girl. When I asked why Allyn hardly ever got spankings, Mom said that it was because just a stern look made her cry. I guess Allyn and Raelynn have both decided to do their best to be good so no one looks at the in a stern way. Hmmm, maybe that wouldn’t have been such a bad idea…wish I had thought of that. One thing, Raelynn…I don’t think you will be able to avoid today’s spankings, because as we all know, birthday spankings are sort of a tradition. Sorry about that…Not!!

Raelynn takes after her cousin, Michelle too, in that she loves art. There are a few artists in ourChristmas 2012 family…I am not one of them, unless you call photography art. I am getting pretty good at that…since the camera does all the work. An artist, however…a true artist, I’m not. We will see where things go for Raelynn. She has been encouraged to explore her artistic side and even has an art desk to produce her art on, and true to form for artists, can often be found sitting at her art desk, humming a tune with paint on her face.

Raelynn is also very much a girly girl, and loves to dress up. I so seldom see her in anything but a dress, that it occurs to me that I don’t even remember the last time. That characteristic, she just might get from me. I love dresses, and almost always wear them to work and church, but Raelynn wears them all the time. I guess she is quite a bit more girly girl than I am. Even when she is wearing pants, most often in the winter, she manages to have the look of a girly girl…even when her brother and sisters are goofing off…Raelynn manages to look all girl and no goof.

Some of Raelynn’s favorite people are her uncles. They and her cousin’s husbands are the Uncle Dave and Raelynnpeople she likes to go and dance with or just sit and talk to. She is very social and likes to butterfly around to everyone to talk and socialize, and of course, dancing is a big part of that. At her cousin’s wedding, Raelynn grabbed her Uncle Dave several times and they twirled around the dance floor. Of course, her all time favorite dance was the one her daddy, my nephew Rob took her to earlier this year. There is just nothing more special to a girly girl that a father/daughter dance. In reality, many of Raelynn’s characteristics come from a lot of us. I guess she is just one of the family. Today is Raelynn’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! We love you!!  Have a great day!!

Office Picnic 2013Going for a snackYesterday was our office picnic, which was held at my boss…he hates that word…and his wife, Julie’s cabin on the mountain. We always have such a wonderful time up there. It’s so quiet and peaceful…and yet filled with a flurry of activity. Of course, most of that flurry of activity is not of the human kind. The wildlife around their cabin is constantly busy…especially the hummingbirds. In the past I have tried to capture these amazing birds with my iPhone’s camera, and while it took good pictures of them, I could never really capture them in the way that I wanted to…until yesterday.

While we were waiting for the food to be ready, we watched the hummingbirds snacking on their food…a sugar water mix…yum!! Not quite what I would have wanted to dinner, but I guess to each his own. Hummingbirds are such fun to watch…especially when there are so many of them. On the mountain, people who have feeders and who slow down long enough, will be treated to dozens of hummingbirds diving toward them, to get the feeders. The birds, of all kinds, are always in a flurry of activity. They never slow down. We watched Hummingbirds, Mountain Chickadees, Woodpeckers, and even a Cassin’s Finch…maybe not rare, but one I hadn’t seen before. My camera was snapping constantly. I especially loved the shots of the hummingbirds fighting over the feeders, like there wasn’t enough feeders to go around.

The squirrels were a little more shy than some of the other animals, as were the deer, but I managed to get pictures of both, even if they were a little leery of me, and my motives for being in their space. The deer watched apprehensively, mostly, but the squirrels were very vocal about their disapproval of my presence…not that their chatter changed the situation, because my time in nature is far more limited that theirs, so they will just have to put up with me for a little while.

Of course, taking pictures of the wildlife was not the whole picnic, and we enjoyed Friendly NeighborsFood Fightsuch a wonderful time with friends and family, along with great food. Our time at Jim and Julie’s cabin is always a great fun, and it reminds us just how blessed we are to have them in our lives. I cannot think of better people to know and work for. God really does put people in our lives to make them rich and greatly blessed, and I thank him every day for those he has put into my life. Amazing family and friends…it doesn’t get better than that.

93Kevin & Corrie - first promCan a house feel lonely? Well, maybe not the house itself exactly, but it really can take on that feel after the loss of a loved one, and the moving of the other to a nursing home. We have been preparing my in-laws’ house for the sale to my nephew, JD, and the more things that get removed from the house; the more lonely it feels there. When I think back to all the wonderful times we have had in the 24 years that my in-laws lived there, it feels like the house took on their personalities to a large degree. That is the way it goes, when you own a home. You pour your own style into it, and it becomes almost an extension of you.

All the good times and the sad times that went on during the years they lived in the house, keep coming to the top of my memory files. I reme
mber the sadness we felt when Marlyce passed away, and the excitement as each new baby came into the family. Gone are the times when the kids would come by before a dance or to trick or treat on Halloween. Gone is the noise that was always in the house…the television that was 99always on and turned up loud so my father-in-law could hear it, the laughter and chatter from all the visitors they always seemed to have, and even the rumbling of the oxygen concentrator that was a mainstay in the home for many years. Gone are the birthday parties, holidays, and family get togethers. All are gone from the home now, and it is quiet…too quiet really. That is an amazing thought, since they lived on one of the busiest streets in Casper.

It’s funny, how much my mother-in-law hated the noise of the street, and yet loved the flurry of activity that always accompanied that traffic noise. Everyone stopped what they were doing when an emergency vehicle went by, and grumbled at the loud motorcycles and vehicles when they roared by. Toward the end of their time there, it was all that traffic that gave them something to look at and wonder about. Their chairs were set up so they could look out the big front window and see the hubbub of activity going on, because whether they ever admitted it or not, they liked all of it…except maybe the noise in the summer when the doors and windows were open.

I’m glad my nephew is going to buy the home, so it stays in the family, and I’m glad for the home that it will once again have someone living in it…someone who will remember the scan0266scan0057good times that we all had there for so many years. Oh I know that JD will change the house, add things,  and make it his own…that is inevitable, but to us and him, it will simply always be remembered as his grandma and grandpa’s house…at least somewhere in his memory files…and that makes it all feel better somehow. A house needs to be lived in. That is its whole purpose for existence, and when it isn’t lived in, it is simply a house…so lonely.

Caryn and Bob share a laughFor as long as I have known my husband, Bob, he has been a person who loves to laugh, and so loves a good joke and loves to tease. Of course, I have been the recipent of much of his teasing, and so can attest to his teasing personally, and that was ok, since I was raised in a teasing household too. I’m not talking about mean teasing that leaves lasting scars, but rather, practical jokes and other funny stuff. People who have never been around playful teasing are really missing out if you ask me.

In our more that 38 years together, Bob and I have shared many a laugh. It has made our life rich in so many ways. I believe that a house filled with laughter is the best kind home to live in, and teasing is a big part of that. Life can get so serious at times, and if there is laughter in the home, it lightens the mood and makes the tough times so much easier to bare.
Bridge on the Trail
Bob can be so funny sometimes, and yet, it hasn’t just been the laughter that has made our lives rich. We have so many things in common, and we love being in each other’s company. There is nothing quite as amazing as spending the rest of your life with your best friend, sharing all the great times that life has to offer. Hiking is our main activity of choice. It is our way of getting away from it all and spending quality time together. Our hikes always include laughter and joking, along with sharing our hope, dreams, and plans for the future. They also include, picture taking, because many of the beautiful places we hike are begging to have their picture taken.

Pictures are a big part of the memories we have from our times together. They I love looking back on all the great shots I’ve taken of the many special places our hikes have At Harney Peaktaken us. From places right around home to hikes in the Black Hills, and along the Grand Canyon, we have seen so many wonderful sites on foot. I have been amazed at how far our feet have taken us.

This life with my friend has turned out to be the most wonderful journey that we could ever have taken. Our dreams of seeing wonderful places…places most people never see. Places that don’t cost thousands of dollars, and yet they are worth billions of dollars to me…because they are ours. Our footsteps on the many trails we have hiked have made this life with my best friend the best it could have been.

HollyhocksYou’ve seen them…hollyhocks. They are a flower that some might even consider to be a weed, and they sure grow like one. They seem to grow well in yards or alleys…with little water or with plenty of water. The fact that their flowers are abundant the length of their stalk, and that the buds are as abundant as the flowers, is I suppose what attracted us to them. Of course, we were taught never to pick the flowers in someone’s garden, so the fact that these flowers were often in alleys made them more readily available. Whatever it was, my sisters and friends and I used to pick these flowers and then because of their very short stem, found that they didn’t make very good bouquets.

It seemed such a waste to pick these pretty flowers, just to throw them away, so we tried to find something to do with them…finally inventing the Hollyhock Doll. It wasn’t one of the summertime things we did for very many years, nor was it one of the coolest summertime things we did as children, but while I was walking along the trail near my house, and saw some Hollyhocks behind a house along the trail, the memory of our summertime school holidays and the making of Hollyhock dolls came to mind again.

Of course, it wasn’t just a memory of making Hollyhock dolls, but the chance to look back in time a little bit to a time that was so much more simple, that really drew me to the pretty flowers. As we grow up, and responsibilities force their way into our lives, the simple days of childhood get pushed to the background of our memories. Gone are the days of laying around in the backyard, sun tanning, and the afternoons spent at the local swimming pool. Now we get up every morning and go to work, take care of the responsibilities life has handed us, whether they be our children or caring for elderly parents. Our time is no longer our own to do with as we please. That freedom we had as kids is such a fleeting time in our lives, and yet none of us could wait to be grown up. Now we just wish we could go back and be kids again…for a little bit anyway, because no one really wants to relive Hollyhock Dolltheir childhood, but rather just go back for an occasional visit.

Thinking back, the next day as I once again noticed Hollyhocks at the edge of the parking lot at work, I couldn’t resist the urge to pick the necessary parts of the flowers for the purpose of making just one more Hollyhock doll. I picked a flower and a bud, and brought them home. It took seconds to put them together, but the memory of the summertime fun we had, has lingered for days. It never was the Hollyhock Dolls that defined summer for me as a kid, but they were a reminder of the summertime fun we had as kids. I guess that’s why the flowers have always held a place of honor in my memory files.

Mom & Dad Schulenberg_editedWhen you lose one parent, you feel a like half of your world is messed up. You still have the other parent, but it still doesn’t feel right…doesn’t feel the same as it used to be. I have felt that kind of loss twice in my life, because when you marry into a family, you gain a second set of parents. Having in-laws can be good or bad depending on the relationship you build with your in-laws. For me it was a good relationship, so when  my father-in-law passed away, it was my second dad that passed away. I have noticed something quite different with my father-in-law’s passing, from my dad’s passing.

While both mothers are still alive, and in my family, that is a more stablizing fact, in Bob’s family, it is not so much the case. Since his mother has Alzheimer’s Disease and is in a nursing home, it feels almost like she is gone from us too, in a sense. It isn’t that we don’t go see her often, because we do, but because she doesn’t have any input in family matters. It almost feels like the family is adrift at sea…in separate boats!! Everyone is busy doing their own things, and living their own lives, but that creates a feeling of disconnect in my mind. While some family members call each other and talk about things, others don’t. Some I haven’t heard from since the end of May, when we had Brenda’s birthday party. It is a bit of a lonely feeling.

Other family members, I talk to often, of course, and it is my hope that the family will regroup and become as strong as it was before. I’m sure everyone is just trying to deal with everything in their own way, but for me, it just seems like some of the family has grown farther apart from the rest of us, and I think that is sad. I’m one of those people who likes close family ties, and not talking to the family much is, well…as I said before, like being adrift at sea…in separate boats.

William and Kate announce pregnancyComing from the house of Spencer, I have long known that Princess Diana was my distant cousin. Because of that, I have felt a bond of sorts with her sons, William and Harry, and with William’s wife, Catherine, or Kate as she will always be known, no matter what the Queen has decried. Yesterday, the royal couple, William and Kate have added a new member to our family…a baby boy. Of course, we don’t know his name yet, but I have my own ideas of what some good choices would be, and yes they, are in keeping with the British tradition of four names from the royal line, along with the possibility of some from Kate’s family. Like the rest of the world, I also, look forward with great anticipation to the announcement of the name of Prince…of Cambridge, as well as getting to see him for the first time.

I hear from friends and on television that many people think that there is too much hoopla over the Royals and that the people of the United States shouldn’t care about a baby in England, but I can’t help but be excited…because he is family, whether I ever get to meet him or not. I also suspect that there are many people in the United States who descend from the original four Spencer brothers who immigrated to the United States so long ago. Many people may not even know they are related. Sad for them, I say, because a baby…any baby is a wonderful thing. We get excited when a celebrity has a new baby, but somehow we are not supposed to with the Royals. Oh well, the choice is theirs. I choose to be very excited.

It is my hope that William and Kate will follow Diana’s parenting skills, because she did an amazing job with William and Harry, who are not stuffy like some other royals have been in the past. This baby boy is destined to be the King of England one day, and he should be Prince...of Cambridgeloved by his people like his parents and uncle certainly are. The days and years that follow this royal birth will surely have William and Kate “seeing what the future brings” as William put it. I sincerely hope and fully believe that their future is very bright, and that this sweet little boy will bring them an extreme amount of joy, as will his future siblings.

I want to offer my congratulations to William and Kate and the rest of the royal family on this wonderful occasion. I can’t wait to hear your precious little boy’s name, and yes, I look forward to seeing his pictures in the future, because he is a special little boy, and I am honored to be his distant cousin.

By the earForms of discipline have changed over the years…from spankings to time out, and we all have our own ideas about what works and what doesn’t. I was looking at some pictures of my father-in-law’s 75th birthday party, when I came across one of his sister and brothers. Esther was the oldest of the three younger children, my father-in-law’s half siblings, and while I’m not sure that she ever felt like she was the boss, she apparently decided that she was going to take her brothers by the ear and straighten them out…probably for picking on her, if I know them.

That picture reminded me of the times, probably more of them than I wanted to think about, whne I was hauled home in such a fashion. During the time that I was growing up, bringing a child home by the ear for the purpose of a spanking, or for washing their mouth out with soap for some serious verbal infraction of the behavioral code we were to live by, was quite common. Of course, the soap was safe to use in the mouth then too. With the chemicals it has now, I wouldn’t chance that today…and I really hated it a lot back then too.

The biggest problem with being dragged home by the ear is the humiliation of it all. First, you are being dragged down the street by your ear. And, if that isn’t bad enough, everyone knows that when you get home, you are going to get a spanking. Talk about humiliating!! You would think a kid would do whatever it took so they would never have to go through that humiliation again. Not necessarily so. We knew better than to cuss as kids…I mean that was like having a death wish, but there were other things, like calling your sister names, and such…not cool and definitely not allowed. That would get you the soap thing!!

I know that everyone feels differently about the forms of discipline that were used in bygone days, but I feel like the way I was disciplined, made me the person I am today. I have no misconceptions about how difficult I was as a child. I was a stubborn child, and it would be my guess that I got more than my fair share of the discipline of the day.