Monthly Archives: April 2015

Military BallWhen men get home from the service, or come home on leave, they are usually is really good shape…and as most of us know, boys will be boys, and men will be men…meaning when issued a challenge, each wants to prove that they are better, stronger, or more capable of something than the other. Such was the case with my dad, Allen Spencer and my uncle, George Hushman. The two of them were at my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s house, and somehow the challenge was made to see who could do the most pushups.  Dad and Uncle George were good friends, and this was to be a friendly challenge between two future brothers-in-law. Nevertheless, it was going to be a challenge.

The two men laid down on the floor. It had been decided that two men in military condition would not find it much of a challenge to do a bunch of pushups. No, there had to be a way to make this a real challenge. In the end they seated the two kids who were the closest in size, Aunt Dixie and Aunt Sandy, on their backs in order to do the pushups. That was not the only challenge they faced, either. These pushups had to be done in a specific and rather hard way. As the men pushed down, the girls weight was a challenge, and as they came up, the fact that they had to very quickly clap their hands together mid-pushup, and without losing the girl on their back made it even harder.

As Aunt Sandy told me the story, I could tell that the whole thing had left quite an impression on her. Being the youngest child, she thought of the brothers-in-law as brothers all her life, and these two taking such a challenge, must have made her think that they were very strong…and maybe they were. I also think that the girls had to have been fairly small, but then I couldn’t even attempt push ups in the way they did them that Sandy Byer, Bonnie Byer, Dixie Byer, Susie Hushmanday. I suppose it is possible that they found additional strength in trying to impress their girls, my mom and Aunt Evelyn. Either way, I think it was a challenge.

Aunt Sandy didn’t say who won the challenge, and maybe she doesn’t even recall after all these years. I don’t think that the winner was as impressive as the challenge itself. I suppose that they could have called it a draw in the end too. Either, way, Aunt Sandy will never forget the day that she and her sister Dixie became part of a military push up challenge. Of course, it might have been something that was talked about for months or even years after. It was after all and challenge, and deserving of attention, and Aunt Sandy was a little girl who was impressed with her future brothers-in-law.

The gang when they first arrived at Church CampAlena at Church CampSometimes, there is such a clear family resemblance that even years after the children are grown, people who knew one of them can tell that another one is a sister. That happened to me when a church camp friend of my sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, saw me in the mall and asked me if I was their sister. I did not know this man, but he knew them and knew that I bore a definite resemblance to them. I don’t know exactly how often that happens, but my guess is that it maybe happens more than we are aware of. I think many times, people don’t say anything about it. Maybe they are not sure the person is who they think they are, or maybe they aren’t sure the person will remember them. That is sad really, because you never know when you might just make someone’s day, because you remembered them.

My family has been blessed with some beautiful people. From aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, nieces and nephews, as well as grandchildren, they are handsome, and beautiful inside and out. I think that is part of what makes them someone people remember. This was pointed out to my Aunt Sandy Pattan a while back, when she was at Kmart. They were having a Blue Light Special, and she was waiting in line while her things were marked down. Two ladies on the other side of the Blue Light were talking, and obviously looking at my Aunt Sandy. She started to become a little nervous, wondering what was wrong with the way she looked. We always think the worst, don’t we? Once the ladies had finished getting their things marked, they came over to Aunt Sandy, and one of them asked, “Are you one of the Byer girls?” Aunt Sandy said that she was, and the woman said to her friend, “See!! I told you so!!” Aunt Sandy was as surprised as I had been with my encounter, but I think she was right when she said that it isn’t just a person’s looks that makes them memorable, but rather who they are inside. Like my own parents, my grandparents had taught their children to be kind, generous, and thoughtful, and these traits are always remembered, and they make you remember their face too, even if it has changed some over the years.

Sometimes, you can see a person who may or may not be related to someone you liked, but looks like them Sandra Nannette ByerThe Byer Familyanyway. Whether you ever find out if that person is a relative or not, you still have that nice memory of that person you knew. Of course, family resemblances are always there, but are not always remembered, unless the person stood out in some way. The memory goes a long way if the person was nice to you at some point. Really, who would want to remember someone who was mean, although I suppose that happens too, but I would much rather remember those people who were kind and thoughtful…wouldn’t you?

What a Special Person my Sister-in-law Caryn is!

Guest Writer BRCaryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…40 years ago this year!!! Little did I know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg Family. I don’t really remember too much of my life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family with her not a part of it.

In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren my great nieces and nephews, Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of them are true gifts to Caryn. She really enjoys being a Mother and Grandma….and maybe someday soon (I hope not too soon) a Great Grandma! In August, Caryn’s oldest Grandson Chris moved to Sheridan to go to Culinary School and boy that was a tough adjustment for all of his family. Luckily Sheridan is not too far away but it is still hard. Caryn’s youngest daughter Amy, husband Travis and son Caalab will be moving to Washington State very soon and this too is going to be very hard for Caryn and the rest of us. We know that it will be a great adventure for them….but it is so hard when someone we love moves so far away….but maybe someday they will be back to stay!

A few years back when Caryn’s dad, Al Spencer suddenly became very sick she became an instant caregiver to him. She had help from her mom, Collene and her sisters Cheryl, Caryl, Alena, and Allyn along with all of their children and grandchildren. It took all of them. They all then became caregivers for Caryn’s mom, Collene Spencer when she was ill during the years. On February 22, 2015 Caryn’s mom went to Heaven. While I know Caryn and her sisters are missing her, they know that Collene is truly in a better place now.

Caryn was the lead caregiver to my parents, Walt and Joann Schulenberg. She had help from myself and my siblings, Bob, Jennifer, Debbie, and Ron along with my nieces and nephews, Corrie, Amy, Machelle, Susan, Barry, JD, Eric, Riley, and Tucker, all of the great nieces and nephews and my Aunt Margee Kountz and her granddaughter Staci. Everyone helped when they could, in any way they could even if it was just to stop by or call for a visit…but we could not have kept either one of my parents at home as long as we did without Caryn. She was their primary caregiver and didn’t bat an eye about doing it. She is still helping with my Mom by checking on her out at Shepherd of the Valley Care Center, going to all of her doctor appointments with her and keeping all of us up to date as to how she is doing.

In October 2013 when I got sick…who did I call first? Of course, I called Caryn. She convinced me that I need to get checked out to see what was wrong. Little did I know then that Caryn saved my life. I truly believe that if she had not talked me into going to the hospital that I would have died very soon. She has been with me all the way…from going to the hospital, to my rehab at Elkhorn Rehabilitation Hospital and then once I was home she would do whatever I needed help with. She slept in a recliner chair the night that I had my sleep study done because I couldn’t get my legs up into the bed on my own. She stayed with me my first two nights home from Elkhorn because she didn’t think I should stay alone…I was grateful to have her there with me because I had nurses, aids and therapists with me 24/7 for almost a month. Caryn and my sister Jennifer…and my entire family, friends and coworkers have all been very supportive during my 18 month recovery and weight loss journey. I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Caryn will be traveling with me to Fort Collins next week to see a doctor about my skin removal surgery…and when I have it done in Fort Collins or even here in Casper she will be there with me through all of it and I know she will be very helpful to me during my recovery too.

Caryn - 12-02-2011_editedI don’t even want to think of what the past several years would have been like for either Caryn’s family or my family if it hadn’t been for Caryn and her dedication of her time and her heart to care for all four aging parents and myself. We couldn’t have and wouldn’t have wanted to go through any of this without Caryn.

Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best Sisters-in-law (I consider her my Sister) that I could ever ask for and I know that my Parents felt the same way…she was and is one great Daughter-in-law.

Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!

George and Hattie ByerWe all have memories of home…the home of our childhood. Most of those memories are as sweet as they can be. Memories of laughing and playing with our siblings, or special dinners with the family…always bring back the warm coziness of those carefree childhood days, when your dad and mom were there, taking care of you, and you knew you were safe, because their love surrounded you and every part of your world. As a kid, I experienced a closeness with my family. Dinners were eaten together, and we talked about our day. It was our way to reconnect with each other after a busy day at school or work. But, while we had a close family life that was far different from many families of today, it was nothing like the evenings that my mother and her siblings spent at their home, and in many ways, I feel like it was I, or rather our generation, who missed out. We may have had things like movies and television, but the closeness they had, and the stimulation of their imaginations…well, our world just couldn’t really compare to theirs at all.

The hours after school at my grandmother’s home involved getting dinner ready for the family, eating dinner, washing the dishes, with everyone singing while they worked. Finally, the work is done, and the evening turns cooler. Grandma and Grandpa, George and Hattie Byer would sit together on the couch covered with a blanket. All the children would get a blanket of their own, and sit around the floor and their parents feet. Everyone was cozy and warm. Then, Grandma Byer would read to the family. It was like the movies of today, except that the screen was in your mind. It was a nightly tradition, and since there was only a certain amount of time to read, a book could take weeks to read. The family never seemed to mind that, however, because the result of stopping for the night was a curiosity about where the book was headed and what would happen the next day. Every night was much the same, with the children listening intently to their mother’s voice telling them the story of cowboys and Indians, or sailing ships from far off places.

As my Aunt Sandy Pattan, who is my grandparents’ youngest child, told me about this nightly tradition from her childhood, I could hear in her voice that the thought of it was taking her back to a time when all was warm The Byer Familyand cozy in her life. I could picture just how much fun it must have been to sit there at Grandma Byer’s feet listening to her voice reading the story, and creating a picture in your mind that was almost like being right there, in the story. It was such a pleasant story, that I began to wish that it had been a tradition in my own life, or that I had thought to start such a tradition in my own family. The mind is such an amazing part of a person, and to think that it could create a movie like story from the reading of a book, is really amazing. I think that the cozy scene I pictured in my head from just hearing Aunt Sandy tell of it, probably paled next to the reality of just how amazing a tradition it really was to listen to her mother read while sitting at her Momma’s feet.

Dad at the hospital to visit Mom

My dad passed away on December 12, 2007, but since my mom was still alive, we never really went through his things…until after her passing on February 22, 2015. Mom had given out some of Dad’s things to different family members, but the bulk of his things would wait until her passing to be given to those who would receive them.

In his later years, my dad got cold often. That can happen as we age, or with surgeries to the chest or abdomen, which dad had to repair damage from Pancreatitis. More and more often, Dad could be seen wearing a sweater, and it really became a signature item for him. One sweater in particular that he wore almost daily, was a multi-shade blue striped sweater. He wore it so often, that it is one of the ways I picture him in my mind. I had asked Mom for that sweater shortly after Dad passed away, and was told I could have it, but did not receive it until now.

This was the sweater that Dad had on when he and Mom danced their last New Years Eve dance on January 1, 2007, just under a year before his passing. It was also the sweater he wore on his visits to the hospital when Mom was receiving Chemotherapy treatments for the Lymphoma Brain Tumor that she would beat in 2007. The blue sweater became synonymous of Dad…in my mind anyway.

There are many things that remind me of my dad. Anything World War II, of course, because I have written so much about his time in the war, and because we have toured the B-17s several times together, making the B-17 an integral part of my memories of my dad. Then, there are the funny memories of Dad, that always come to my mind…things like the whisker rub, our many debates, pretending to box with him, the Oregon Trail The Final New Years Dance - Jan 1, 2007markers, the many vacations, and of course, the swatting games he played with the grandkids, will always bring back great memories of my dad. All of those things bring images of my dad and what an amazing man he was, but they are not things I can hold in my hands, and picture him if I use them. The blue sweater is.

Memories are the most precious things we have once a parent has passed, and I treasure every memory I have of my dad, as I do my mom, and there are things that will always remind me of them. And one of those things will always be that blue sweater. Today would have been my dad’s 91st birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Dad. Have a wonderful celebration. We love and miss you both very much.

Zack's 10th Birthday PartyEvery child is unique, and even brothers have differences in their personalities that are very obvious to all who know them. My grand nephew, Zack Spethman is the middle of my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve Spethman’s sons. If you ask Jenny about Zack, she will tell you that Zack is her huggy boy. He is the one, who as a baby liked to cuddle and was quick to give kisses and hugs. Some kids are busy playing and don’t really want to be held. They have things to do and see. Other children are more sensitive and show their feelings to others easily. It seems like for boys feelings are a complicated area…especially as they get older. Some of them don’t want to be seen hugging their parents, because it seems to them to be very little boyish, but there are some boys who just don’t care what people think. They simply love those who they love, and Jumping Zackthey don’t care if others see it. They become the boys after their mother’s, grandmother’s and even aunt’s hearts. They don’t realize how sweet their nature is. They just are who they are. That’s the kind of boy Zack is.

Zack is a very thoughtful young man, always making sure that his little sister, Aleesia has what she needs, and yet, he can roughhouse with his brothers Xander and Isaac with no problems. He loves sports, and hardly ever just sits around. From bicycles, to skateboards, to snowmobiles, and just running around with his brothers, Zack is a full of energy kind of kid. He and his brothers and sister are always on the go.

The BoysZack’s very life has been a miracle from the day of his birth, when complications during labor could very easily have ended his life, but his parents were praying people, and everything fell into place to rush his birth before his mother even knew there was a problem. The doctor told Jenny later that of the three prolapsed cord births he had done, Zack was the only one who survived, demonstrating the power of prayer, and God’s grace and protection for those who pray and have faith in God. That moment was the only one, however, when Zack has had any problems in his life, and he has since made up for any of that, by living a life full of happiness, health, and energy. Zack is a wonderful by who is turning ten years old today. Happy 10th birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Pam & Aunt DorisWhen my mom, Collene Byer Spencer was married and moved to Superior, Wisconsin to live, she was a young woman, who for the first time in her life lived far away from her large family. I think that must have been so hard for her. She was used to living in a house with her parents, sisters, and brothers, and now it was just her and my dad, Allen Spencer. Of course, that was all she needed in most ways, but a girl needs friends too. For Mom, finding Aunt Doris Spencer there, meant a friendship, as well as a sister-in-law. The two liked each other immediately, and became instant friends. They did everything they could together.

While both of them were slender women, they always felt the need to diet. If they gained a pound, it was a big problem…I guess some things never change. Like all dieters, hunger pangs are always the worst part of dieting, so to aid in the dieting, Aunt Doris decided that each of them could have a single Puffed Wheat cereal piece to hold them over on one occasion. I’m sure this sounds crazy, but it does fit into the mentality of a dieter…and all of you who have ever dieted would be dishonest if you didn’t agree. When we look at things now, we know that like all dieters, this idea would pass as an impossible way to diet, but they tried it anyway. Whenever I hear the story of their diet antics, I have to giggle, because I can picture either one of them doing the funny things they did. They almost seemed like girlhood friends from junior high school, except they didn’t know each other then. They were just a lot alike.

They shared so much in those years, motherhood, sisterhood, and friendship. For my mom, it was like going to a scary new place and finding a bit of sunshine in the middle of the clouds of loneliness. It wasn’t like Mom was drowning in loneliness, but she really needed someone to share all of her girl talk with…someone to spend some of her spare time with, and since they lived just across the backyard fence from each other, someone to Aunt Doris & Momtalk to while the children played or napped. Aunt Doris was a friend sent by God to help my mom through the transition, and to be there for her through the years.

After we moved to Casper, Wyoming, the two kept in touch. Even after Aunt Doris, and her husband, my Uncle Bill divorced, Mom and Aunt Doris remained friends. They wrote letters and called each other sometimes, but didn’t get to see each other for years. Then last year, my sister, Cheryl and I took Mom for a visit. It was a wonderful reunion for both of them, and we were so glad we took Mom, since it was the last time before she passed. She got to see her forever friend one more time. Today is Aunt Doris’ 91st birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Shai and Me 1996It seems like just yesterday that our little Leap Day girl, Shai Royce was born, but it was really nineteen years and two months ago. Of course, you expect your kids and grandkids to grow up, but when they do, it still seems like the whole thing sneaked up on you…like you somehow didn’t really think it was going to happen. Then comes the time when they move out for the first time, and into an apartment of their own. Somehow it feels like Shai is about four years old, and living on her own…oh, wait, she sort of is. Being a Leap Day Baby is a unique situation, in that she only really gets a birthday every four years…making her oficially 4¾ years old. No wonder it seems like she is too young to be living on her own. Not only should she be a little girl, but officially she is a little girl. I’m not crazy., even though it might sound crazy. And to top it off, you know that no matter how grown up she, and my other grandchildren get, they will always be grandbabies to me, and I will always picture them in part, just like when they were little babies.
Shai's Kitchen
I think Shai’s apartment is going to be beautiful. She is a girl with very good taste, and a wonderful sense of style. She has some very nice things, and a good head on her shoulders, so, she will start to get things set up as time goes on. I don’t think a first timer to apartment living has everything they need to get started, but she seems to be doing better that most of them. She is organized and I know she will have everything in ship shape in no time.

I think the thing that I find the most interesting about Shai’s new apartment, is that in all reality it is the second time her first apartment is been in this particular apartment complex. I know that sounds odd, but when Shai was born, her parents lived in the same apartment complex, and so when she came home, it was to almost the same place. Of course, technically that apartment belonged to her parents, and this one belongs to Shai, but it is in a way, kind of like coming 993369_10201198433396466_1310255224_nahome for her. I don’t know how often something like that happens, but for her, that is exactly what happened.

I know that Shai has mixed feelings about making such a big move, especially since the rest of her family is moving to the Seattle, Washington area, but she will have her grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, and other extended family members living here too, so she will get used to it. And of course, she has lots of friends as well, and I’m sure that she will be entertaining people before very long, so before she knows it this will feel like home to her. Congratulations Shai, on your first home. I know that you will be very happy there. Just don’t forget to visit your grandma and grandpa.

059aShai visiting Grandma at workMost people have heard of or have been involved in the practice of taking their child to work with them for a day. It shows the children what their parents do everyday, and gives them a chance to learn about responsibility, work ethic, and career choices. This day was originally started in the summer of 1992 in New York by the Ms Foundation for Women and its president, Marie C Wilson, with the support of foundation founder, Gloria Steinem. The first celebration took place on April 22, 1993 and has since been celebrated on the fourth Thursday of April every year for 37 million children, parents, and schools in over 3.5 million workplaces across the country. The annual event now also includes participants in over 200 countries.

In years gone by, life was different, in that children often worked along side their parents on the farm, or as was the case with my Aunt Laura when she was little, children were with their parents until they went to school, and even after school had ended for the day. There weren’t a lot of day care options, and so it was Shai at worknormal have your little ones around. Even in this day and age, there are places of business who have embraced the combination of work and child care in the same space. The accountant who handles the bookkeeping for our office, had a playpen in the office when her secretary had a child, so that she could do her work and not feel like she was sacrificing her baby bonding time. My own office has had children in it periodically. From my boss, Jim Stengel’s kids when they were little, to my grandchildren when they weren’t feeling well, so their mom’s could go to work, and later my grandchildren and our CSR, Carrie Beauchamp’s daughter after school. And since my daughter, Amy Royce and her daughter Shai Royce have worked here at times, we have had not only Amy’s kids here after school, but on the job too.

I like the idea of children learning about what goes on in a business, and learning that while in their parents place of business, there are times they will have access to their parents, and times when they need to entertain themselves quietly, because their parent is busy. I think that with the right people…innovative people, open to new ideas, children can be brought into the workplace to make the transition from new parent to employee a softer, more comfortable one. And as to having mothers who cannot take time off for sick little My grandkids when they were littleAmanda Ingram ones or days off from school, it’s nice to be a grandparent who can step in and help out, and who has a boss who understands.

There are many reasons to celebrate Take Your Child To Work Day, and in my opinion, many more reasons to have a flexible work place in which having a child in the mix sometimes, is not a bad thing, but rather embraced as a special perk offered to good employees who sometimes need a little bit of consideration, so they can be free to do a good job as an employee, as well as a parent.

Mom aAllen L SpencerWhen a loved one passes away, you don’t get to see them on this Earth any more, but they seem to take up a new kind of space all their own, because they are always on your mind. You may not even realize that you are thinking of them exactly, but they are there in the back of your mind, just beneath the surface, until something happens that brings their memory to the forefront again. It isn’t always a sad thing when it happens, but sometimes it is. I think that as time goes by, we are able to look more to happy memories than lonely tears. I don’t think it is a bad thing to have your loved ones living in your memory, occupying a special place in your heart, or even always being on your mind, it’s just that sometimes it is a little hard when you are hit with a ton of bricks moment…when their memory is thrown out there so unexpectedly that it does bring tears, and you are helpless to stop them. Really, it’s the only way, once a loved one has passed away.

In many ways, we like having them living there, in the back of our minds, because it give us a warm sense of Heaven…a closer connection to it, maybe. Someone very dear to us lives there now, and like my search for new connections in my family history, just knowing they are there, waiting in Heaven for us to join them someday, makes me feel like I am a part of Heaven already. I guess that is really because a part of my heart lives there now, and really always has. It encourages me to keep going forward because for me and my family, there is an expected end…a destination. While my journey must remain here for now, and God is taking the time to show me the beautiful things He has made here, I know that someday, my own journey will take me to a place I haven’t and couldn’t ever travel to before, where I will see my loved ones in person again, but for now I must wait for that glorious day to arrive.

Each item I see that belonged to those I love returns them to the forefront of my mind again. Our memory is Dad SchulenbergSweet Marlyceoften triggered by something we see, hear, or even smell, because in our memory files, our senses are tied to those we love. I’m thankful for those ties really, even though sometimes the memories hurt a little, because it is those memories that keep my loved ones alive, in the back of my mind, waiting for their moment to grace my thoughts once again. I love each and every one of those loved ones, although I cannot picture all of them here. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, a sister-in-law, and three nieces are waiting in Heaven. I love then, and they are always on my mind.