Monthly Archives: October 2013

IndiansEvery year on October 31st, kids all over the country take to the streets, knocking on doors to collect a bounty of candy…whether they need it or not. My kids and grandkids are all beyond the trick or treat stage now, but that doesn’t stop some of them from dressing up for work and parties they have been invited to. My nieces and nephews have a great time each year, and the costumes are as varied as the imaginations of the people wearing them. My niece Jenny and her husband Steve always have a party on Halloween, so that all the family can gather and enjoy each other’s company. Jenny and Steve have come up with a variety of costumes over the years…from Indians to cowboy and dance hall girl. And then there’s my niece, Kellie, who uses the workplace to create a costume…I guess writing insurance for Progressive has it’s perks…I should have thought of that, since my daughter Amy and I write for Progressive too. My Kellie-Flogranddaughter, Shai has told me that she is planning to dress up for work tonight too, at Outback Steakhouse. I think she should go as a Bloomin’ Onion, but I don’t expect her to take my advice.

When I was a kid, Halloween was pretty much a kids game, and while Dad always took us trick or treating, the night belonged to us. My parents never dressed up, nor did any other adults I knew. We didn’t bother with a little Jack-O-Lantern basket for our candy, because that didn’t hold enough…just take a pillow case. It was sure to be full by the time you got home. Dad was always a good sport, taking us out as long as we could stand it, which was quite a while if the night wasn’t too cold. We didn’t go Office Halloween Themeto places like the mall…we didn’t have one anyway…or other businesses, because there was very little worry about tainted candy. It was just a very different time. These days people must be much more careful, and maybe that is why there are more parties, and less trick or treating.

Halloween will always be a kids game, I suppose, but these days it’s not just for kids, and the people I am around that dress up are not kids…or maybe they are. They say some people never grow up, and it could be that the ones that dress up just have a little bit of a kid still living on the inside of them. Here’s to childhood, and never growing old!! Happy Halloween everyone!!

Matilda SpencerA couple’s wedding day is quite possibly the most wonderful day of their lives. It is that moment when all their hopes and dreams begin to come to life. The wedding day is quickly behind them and they begin their journey out into the future to build the life of their dreams…but not always. Theirs was a love, young and hopeful. Her family, my great great grandparents, Allen and Lydia Spencer, loved the young man their daughter, Matilda had fallen in love with. They nicknamed him W Biller, although his name was William Beller…it was their way of showing him that they liked him, and they were happy to welcome him into their family. Although their daughter, Matilda was young by today’s standards, at just over 17 years of age, she was of an acceptable age for marriage in 1879, and so she married the man of her dreams, but theirs was not to be the fairytale ending of happily ever after, because in just three short days, Matilda’s life would be over.

The death records would show Brain Fever as the cause of death, and these days few of us would even know what that is. It is a term, not commonly used today, that described one of three illnesses that most of us do understand today…Meningitis, the William and Matilda Bellerinflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord; Encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain, commonly caused by a viral infection; or Cerebritis, inflammation of the cerebrum. I can’t say which of these diseases caused my great grand aunt’s death, but I can imagine the devastation her husband of only three days felt as his precious bride was taken from his life, leaving him to wonder what had happened, and how he could possibly go on. A young man of just 19 years of age should not have to experience marriage and widowhood within three days of each other…truly, no one should.

As I read the account of the short marriage of my great grand aunt and uncle, I felt the pain he must have felt. Without the knowledge we have today, my guess is that he had no idea that something was terribly wrong. He and his young bride traveled from her home in Webster City, Iowa to their home in Boone, Iowa, just 32 miles away, but when the time came, I’m sure that distance felt like thousands of miles. Getting her parents to her before she passed probably didn’t happen, and he must have felt like he failed her in every way possible…failed them. I’m sure he felt like he should have been able to take better care of their daughter than that, and yet he didn’t know what he could have done, because he had no real idea what had happened. His life had gone from married bliss to lost dreams practically overnight.

It would take him three years to finally move forward with his life, when he would marry Second marriage of William BellerNellie Vanderbilt. Their lives would take a different path, and they would have six children. I’m sure he loved her very much, but I have to think that as he was having his second set of wedding pictures taken…in the exact same pose as his first set of wedding pictures, that his mind wandered back, just for a moment…to the bride of his youth, that seemed so far away now. His face looked a little distant…sad even. At 23 years of age, my guess is that he felt old…much older than his age would have you believe, but widowhood at such a young age would do that to a person. I’m happy for him that he had a good life in the end, and yet still sad that he had to live with the lost dreams of his youth hiding there in the back of his mind.

Caryn and Bob share a laughIn church on Sunday, we were talking about patience…a subject that we all need to think about, but often don’t. It brought to mind something that happened to me years ago…on my way to my bridal shower. For those of you who are a part of the Byer family, you will understand how this could happen. And for those who aren’t, the Byer family has a different way of looking at time than the rest of the world. They operate on Byer Time, and that is 30 to 60 minutes later than the time that the clock shows. Unfortunately for some of us in this family, being fashionably late is not something we ever thought was the right way to do things. I happened to be one of those people, due to being half Spencer maybe, while my mother…a Byer by birth, even if she was half Pattan, definitely operated on Byer Time. I will say that time and circumstances can mellow a person, and I don’t stress about the time nearly as much as I used to, especially concerning Byer family functions.

Mom and I were on our way to my bridal shower, and as usual, we were running late, because Mom took so long to get ready. I was ready early, and growling around like a caged lion. Finally we were on our way, with every stop light and every slow moving car in front of me raising my anger level even more. I was driving, and yelling at everything as we went, and I came up on a car a little way before we got to the turn by the Wagon Wheel Roller Rink, that was moving particularly slow…at least in my mind. Mom tried in vain to calm me down, but I was having none of it. I screamed at the woman, and at some point (looking back I’m not sure just where or how) I passed her, screaming and yelling at her all the way

It was at this point that I realized that the woman in the slow moving car, was none other than my Great Aunt Gladys. Now she never said a word about my behavior, but then she Gladys Pattan Byer Cooperdidn’t have to. Not only was I horrified that I had acted in such a way toward one of my favorite great aunts, but then I got to face her at the shower. As I said, she never said a word about it, but I had to carry on a conversation with her, hoping that she was still speaking to me, and hoping that my face didn’t show the true level of the humiliation I felt.

I have had several turning points in my life, concerning patience…or the lack thereof, and each one of them has left it’s impressions on my mind. I have to hope that I have learned a few things about that in my lifetime, and I often feel like I have a good handle on it now…until the next episode, that is.

421275_3060689391771_1347879291_nFor seven years, Susan was the youngest grandchild of my in-laws. I suppose we thought of her as the baby all that time, but she really wasn’t. She was to be the youngest girl for the rest of her life, however. For some reason, that youngest girl status is unique, and she can be in a unique position too. When the older girls were coming into the teenaged years, and were very style conscious, Susan still didn’t really care much about all that. It’s not that she didn’t become very style conscious later on, because she did, but when the other girls were there already, Susan was still wearing what the other girls deemed a mismatched outfit, because Susan at 28the socks totally did not match the rest of the outfit. The girls have all laughed about this picture for several reasons. We have wondered what was so funny, because they were all laughing and not just the typical canned smile for the picture.

Susan tells us that the outfit she had on was her favorite at the time. I don’t know if that included the socks or not, but my guess is not. Kids change over the years, and now Susan is dealing with little girls who insist that they totally match. I have to wonder if that is a difficult situation for Susan, since matching wasn’t always her strong suit. I realize that her matching skills Fisher woman Kaytlynhave vastly improved over the years, but it still has to be a bit trying when your girls won’t wear this or that outfit, because they don’t like the color of the top you picked out.

Seriously though, Susan is a great mom, and she and her girls do very well together, and have great times. I have watched her with them, and it is a loving, caring relationship. The girls love doing things with their mom, especially the girly things…or fishing as long as they don’t catch anything. Susan makes their lives special in all the necessary ways. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Dustie and Audrianna My niece, Dustie has been a homemaker and she has worked outside the home in the 11 years that she has been married to my nephew, Rob. She is a great mom, and has done a wonderful job caring for her children, Raelynn, Matthew, Audrianna, and her step-daughter, Christina. Over the years, she has also been very helpful to my mom and my sister…doing some of the shopping and other errands they needed help with. That has been something that has endeared Dustie to our family for a long time.

Dustie has also worked at times during her marriage to my nephew. She has worked at several places, including McDonald’s Portabella Mushroom Saladand Outback Steakhouse, but she seems to have found her calling at Albertson’s. Dustie was recently hired to head up the Salad Bar at Albertson’s. I know there is more to it than that, but I don’t know all the details of her job yet. I do think she has a gift when it comes to salads though, and I think her co-workers would agree. They like to come to her when they are on their lunch break because she can create the coolest salads, and from what I hear, her guacamole is fabulous. We all have a niche in life, and I have to wonder if Dustie hasn’t found hers. Some people are just natural cooks, and their work is very creative and appealing. That is the way Dustie’s salads are. She puts a lot of work into them and takes pride in how much people love them. A good chef is like that. They  instinctively  know  what  people will like to eat, and how to make it all look amazing.
Salad Head
There is, however, another side to Dustie…a humorous side…maybe even a strange side. While most of what Dustie does is perfectly normal, it would seem that after work is over, she changes…becomes a totally different person…someone we simply don’t know. Maybe it is the influence of her co-workers, the hours she works, dealing with having a job and a household to take care of…I don’t know, but something has changed her, and it is very strange. After Dustie and her co-workers get off work, they become…Lettuce Heads. I think this whole salad thing might just be…affecting her!! What do you think? Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy  birthday  Dustie!!   Have  a  great  day!!   We   love  you!!

Aunt Sandy's graduation pictureAs the youngest of my Grandma and Grandpa Byer’s family, my Aunt Sandy got to hear all the stories of her family’s lives, starting at a very young age. Her siblings were already out there doing things with their lives, and it all sounded so interesting to her. I suppose that is why she has been the one that was most interested in the family stories, and my go to person when I need information on this person or that person for a story I’m working on. I really need that kind of a person, because there are many stories I hadn’t heard before. I have enjoyed our talks so much, and look forward to the next one. It’s funny, that sometimes when I ask my mom about something to do with one of her siblings, she will say, “I was married by that time, but Sandy will know.” And mom is right.

Of course, eventually Aunt Sandy began to have stories of her own unique experiences, such as the traveling peddler of sorts, who was allowed to take a picture of Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Aunt Sandy and Grandma by bus for trip home from Superior, WI in the fall of 1957 or 1958Sandy Byer, Bonnie Byer, Dixie Byer, Susie HushmanSandy, or the trip she and grandma took to Wisconsin to visit my family, when we lived there. And as a little girl, she became an aunt at an early age when my cousin Susie was born. They would be almost like sisters in those younger years, and at  least, great playmates. Every life has a story to tell, and Aunt Sandy paid attention to all the stories, keeping them safe in her memory files…just waiting for someone to take an interest in all of those little treasures waiting there. Some people have a knack for remembering the really interesting stories of a family’s past, and Aunt Sandy is one of those people. She has an amazing memory for the details of situations that happened a long Sandra Nannette, Byer, George F Byer, Hattie Byertime ago, and she can relate them in such a way as to keep her audience spellbound throughout her story. That is a great skill to have.

These days, Aunt Sandy has retired from the job she held for many years, and she is taking life a little easier. She and my mom have been spending a little more time together, and that has been such a nice thing for my mom. She hasn’t gotten out as much is the last few years, so those get togethers with Aunt Sandy have become very special. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

199325_10150121801297236_5242878_nOur nephew, Tucker has always been such a happy kid. He loves life and all that it has to offer. Tucker find humor in things that the rest of us might not see as humorous…a good trait to have when you think about it. Tucker gets very excited with he sees someone that he likes to be around, often running up to them like a streak to give them a hug!!

Tucker started Kindergarten this year, and he is quickly showing his parents what a smart little boy he is. He was coloring with my brother-in-law, Ron, his step-dad, and they started talking about the colors he was using. Tucker wanted to know how Ron knew the specific color of the crayon, like yellow orange. Ron showed him where the color 185930_10150121803742236_6668521_nis shown on the crayon, and Tucker immediately began checking out each crayon, and reading of the name. Reading seems to be one of the areas Tucker likes best, which is a good thing, because we all know that if you are a good reader, you can pretty much excel in any subject you are interested, and many that you aren’t.

I don’t know if Tucker has a girlfriend at the moment, but in the past, he has been totally smitten with his early life best friend, Kaytlyn, who has now become his cousin by marriage. I don’t know how that would work out, but since he is only 6 years old, I think we are safe…for 196457_10150121813422236_1356812_nnow. Of course, his all time best friend is his big brother, Riley. They do lots of things together, and Tucker knows that Riley is there for him, no matter what. A guy really needs a friend like that sometimes, and Tucker is very glad that his brother, Riley is that friend.

Tucker also loves the dogs, and they have some really great times together. I can’t tell you what joke the dog told Tucker, but it must have been a really good one, because Tucker had a really good laugh over that one. Today is Tucker’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great time at Six Flags!! We love you!!

imageimageOne year ago today, we received a new little addition to the Schulenberg family. Little miss Reagan could have arrived on her mommy’s birthday, and in fact maybe she tried, but she wasn’t quite fast enough, and so they each have their own birthday…one day apart. I also, have to think that was probably the last time Reagan was too slow about anything. Babies have a way of growing up way, way too fast, and as they grow, they also get their teeth too fast, crawl too fast, and walk too fast. Before you know it, they are in school, driving, dating and married and having kids of their own. Whew!! It’s enough to make you get winded.

Reagan looks so much like her daddy, that it is like they are twins, but she got her silly personality from her daddy and her mommy. Reagan makes the funniest faces, and has from the time she was just teeny, but lately she has been making some new faces. Things like trying to wink, the “who me, I didn’t make this mess” look, and the “here mommy, you eat it, if it’s so good” look, are just a few of the looks I have noticed. I think that as time goes on, we will be treated to many more of the silly looks that our miss Reagan can make.

Reagan, like many other kids, likes to take the things that are stored in a box out of the box, so she can get in the box. She reminds me of my kids and my grandson, Chris. All of them loved playing in boxes…after the contents have been removed…I mean, who needs the toys or books Reagan - 11 months oldimagethat were in the box anyway. Reagan is getting to that age where getting into things is what she is all about. And her funny faces still play a part in all that…like, “I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about!! I wasn’t getting into anything!!” She has a side to her that is very easy to see. I can tell that this little girl will be just as sweet as she can be…with a big helping of mischief on the side. Today is Reagan’s first birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have  an extra special day!! We love you!!

Ashley Coral EighmyOne year ago today…on her birthday, my niece, Ashley found herself in labor with her first child. While her daughter, Reagan would not arrive until the next day, it would still be a day that would herald a change in her life. That birthday…her 22nd…would be the last day before she became a mother. The last day before her precious little girl would come in and change everything. It is hard to imagine what it is going to be like to be someone’s mother…until it happens to you. We all think we have an idea, but we don’t…not until that little teeny life comes and wraps it’s tiny little fingers around your heart, and you find yourself totally smitten. You can’t imagine the love you feel until you feel it for yourself.

For some time, even before she and my nephew, Eric got engaged, Ashley wanted nothing more than to be his wife, and later, the mother of his children. They became pregnant just 6 months after their marriage, and the excitement of their growing family filled all of us with joy. It had been a number of years since we had a new baby in the family, and it would be Jennifer’s first grandchild. It was an exciting time. I had hoped that Ashley would have the baby on her birthday, and I thought maybe I had picked it. Reagan wasn’t quite ready…but she was just a dream away. So, Ashley’s birthday remained her own, and the birth of her daughter would have to wait for the Just A Dream Awaynext day. For one more day, Ashley would be a young wife, but not yet a mother.

Much has changed over this past year. Reagan is almost one…but that is tomorrow’s story. Ashley has been a wonderful mom, and has had a wonderful first year of motherhood. She and Eric and her parents have been remodeling the house that they bought to start their little family in. They are working hard to finish it, while enjoying their time with Reagan and with the horses her parents keep on their land next door. The year has been a busy one, and also one filled with dreams and their becoming reality. Ashley calls it building the dream, and so it is, but this day belongs to her. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Final WishesWhen a person knows that their life is coming to a close, they start to think about the things they will miss in this world. Often that includes their family members who don’t live close, or even their hometown. When my Grandpa Spencer found out that he was dying of Cancer in 1951, he started thinking of the loved ones he would be leaving behind. His son, my Uncle Bill was his caregiver, and he started thinking about the same thing. It was decided that they would make the trip to Eu Clair, Wisconsin, where my grandpa was born, and his sister, Bertha still lived. It was a trip that meant a lot to all concerned.

My Uncle Bill, who has always felt a great need to connect the different links of a family history, fully understood just how important this visit was for his dad and for his Aunt Bertha. It doesn’t matter if you are to be the one left behind, or the one going on ahead, that last visit…that final wish to connect with those you love, makes all the difference. There is simply no way to ever thank the person, who made that wish Getting a drinkcome true, enough. There are simply no words. Being able to go home again…to see your loved ones one more time…that is just beyond words of gratitude.

On the trip to Eu Clair, my grandpa got to see his sister, and also the old school house, where they got a drink of water…or planned to anyway. Grandpa got so concerned about making sure the picture turned out ok, that he completely forgot to operate the pump so his sister could get that drink of water. I’m sure they all got a good laugh out of that one when they realized why Grandpa was just standing there. I guess the water could wait…there were more important things going on. Grandpa was having his final wishes fulfilled.