Monthly Archives: August 2015

11694089_10204683045098070_3668387031740809078_n11223795_10204683045538081_1404549543291501804_nPeople may think that having children is a way of staying young, or reliving our childhood, but in reality, having children ages the parents. They go from being free from responsibility to being surrounded by responsibilities. Diapers, feedings, and lots of tears give way to school days, after school sports, and homework…which gives way to the terrible teens, dating, and driving. By the time they have graduated and moved out, you tend to feel either old, or overwhelmed at the thought of an empty nest, wondering where all the years have gone. Ok, those years weren’t that bad, but if all that happened in a short time, you would feel completely shell shocked. Being a parent is a big life change. Of course, all too soon, those years are over, and our children are grown up. Suddenly, when we are once again free from responsibility, we just don’t feel the same about it anymore.

Then, just as suddenly our kids bless us with grandchildren, and in the absence of the parental responsibility, we find out that it isn’t our kids that keep us young, but our grandkids. We find ourselves going outside and playing with the kids again, and not just pushing them in the swings. Sometimes we have to wonder what we were thinking. When we try to do cartwheels, or skateboard, or jumping on the trampoline, and realize that maybe we were being young, or maybe we were being foolish. When my grandkids were first getting cell phones, they brought me into the 21st century where a cell phone was not just for talking on, because if I wanted to staying touch with them, I had to text. It was the thing. Thankfully that wasn’t dangerous. Then came Facebook, which I originally got of to keep up with my teenaged grandchildren’s busy lives…I know, I know, my Facebook use has exploded from there…what can I say. The things we do for our grandkids…right. But then, I would do anything for them, and I think they know that. Basically, what I’m saying is that my grandchildren have kept me young. How amazing is that.

That is what my cousins, Terry and Shannon Limmer have found out too. With grandchildren from wagon to bicycle age, they have re-experienced all of those life events that kids go through. One day, Terry got the idea to see if he could still ride a bike. Supposedly, it’s something you never forget how to do, right. The biggest problem I 11221903_10204685941610481_9165805021070964704_n11800126_10204685940530454_5069537387030457008_ncan see here is that Terry is pretty tall, and his granddaughter, Trinity’s bicycle is pretty little, since Trinity and her twin brother, Triston Patsie are just 9 years old. Nevertheless, Terry proved that he’s not old. He’s still got it, and that includes a bicycle that is far too little for his tall frame. Shannon also proves to the kids that she can still play, and she can either pull or be pulled in their wagon. Their play with the kids is that of adults going through a second childhood. It’s what we do for our grandchildren, because our grandchildren help us to be young again.

imageMy grand nephew, Matthew Masterson has always tried to be a tough guy, but the biggest problem with that whole idea is that he has a soft heart. Matthew doesn’t like to see anyone get hurt or be sad, because all of his tough guy stuff is for fun. Matthew likes to hang out with his cousins, Xander, Zack, and Isaac Spethman, playing all of the tough guy games that boys play, like war games, super hero games and of course, every sport imaginable. He is after all…a boy. As cousins, Matthew and the Spethman boys get to spend quite a bit of time together, and they are always off playing some war game or something.

My niece, Liz Masterson, who is Matthew’s aunt, told me that Matthew talks like a small adult, using big words and sentences that sound like they were spoken by an adult. It happens sometimes. Little kids who seem to have grown up too soon.

Matthew has something in common with my daughter, Amy Royce, too. Last week Matthew and his sisters got to go to breakfast with their Aunt Liz. Liz took them to IHOP. The girls all ordered a traditional breakfast, but not so Matthew. He on the other hand decided to have a cheeseburger. Liz tried to reason with him, but Matthew would have none of it. So, he ordered a cheeseburger and then proceeded to pour Cholula Sauce all over it. What ten year old wants Cholula Sauce on their food. Most ten year olds hate hot sauce. Not Matthew. When, Matthew’s cousin, Amy went to breakfast on a vacation we were on one time, she decided that she imagewanted Spaghetti for breakfast. We all thought she was half crazy, but she ate every bite…as did Matthew. The only thing was that Amy wouldn’t have ordered a cheeseburger if you paid her. In that one, Matthew was on his own.

Matthew is going into 4th grade this year, and I’m sure he will have a great year, but that is not something he wants to think about right not. I’m sure he is like that little girl on television talking about the back to school sign, who says, “Back off sign people…I’m keeping my summer.” I have to agree with you, Matthew, I’m not ready for fall either. Today is Matthew’s tenth birthday!! Happy birthday Matthew!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimage My nephew, Dave Balcerzak, who is married to my niece, Chantel has been staying pretty busy these days. Recently the family moved from the home Dave and Chantel had lived in since their marriage, into a new and very nice home. Since that move, they have been very busy getting settled. That said, I’m sure that Chantel has had Dave working pretty hard to get everything set up. Now I don’t know how much of the decorating Dave has helped with, but then, Chantel wouldn’t really need much help with that, because she is a master of design. But, Dave is a big strong guy, so all the heavy lifting is likely done by him, with the help of some of the other men in their family.

The majority of the basement of their home has been designated as Dave’s Man Cave. I know that a Man Cave is the latest thing, and that lots of guys have them, but…well maybe I live in isolation, because I don’t know anyone who really has one…until now. I’m sure that is going to make Dave the guy to be envied. The closest thing most of our husbands have to a Man Cave, is the garage. For that reason, Dave can feel very special, but then I think we all knew he was special before that.

When Dave and Chantel got married, they each had two children, and as many people know, raising a step child is a bit tricky. Nevertheless, Dave stepped into that role and loved Chantel’s children, Jake and Siara Harman as much as he did his own children, Kiefer and Katy. Dave was such a good dad, that he earned the name Dad, which was bestowed on him by Chantel’s children. Jake and Siara both say the name with as much love as kids would their own dad. You just don’t get that love and respect from step children, unless you are a very special person. Dave has proven himself to be that kind of man, and that has proven to be the greatest blessing Chantel and her children could have ever been given.

Dave’s talents don’t stop there though. With his computer degree, we gained a go to person for all of our computer issues. His heart of gold, has prompted him to help family, but even more to help those who can’t afford a computer, by giving them one he had refurbished…at his own cost. Dave has just always had the heart of a giver. He wants everyone to be as blessed as he has been, and if he can facilitate that, then its a great day imageimagefor him. That is a man who loves helping people.

As I think about his Man Cave, and really how excited he is about it, I feel very excited for him, because sometimes things just couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, or in a better way than they do. This house just sort of fell into their laps at the perfect time, and now, they are thoroughly enjoying it and all it has to offer. I’m so happy for them. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

JD1306 S McKinley StreetMy nephew, JD Parmely loves cars…I mean really loves cars!! In fact, I have only known one other person in my entire life who owned more cars than JD. At any given time, he may have anywhere from fifteen to twenty five cars. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t see how a person could possibly use that many cars. I suppose JD could drive each one about 20 days and then move on to the next vehicle. Of course, insuring all those vehicles can be pricey too…I should know. I’m his insurance agent. JD doesn’t leave all the vehicles on the policy at the same time, because that would be really expensive, and in reality, he doesn’t change vehicles all the time either. With that in mind, I’m sure that you can guess that JD has a lot of vehicles that he doesn’t drive at all. He also has some for winter and others for summer. All that makes sense, but it still leaves vehicles that he doesn’t drive at all. Some are classics, and so they aren’t driven much at all, and others, he fixes up and sells, but for the most part, they all belong to him, and they could be driven anytime he wants to.

When his grandparents’ home had to be put up for sale after his grandfather, Walt Schulenberg passed away, JD found himself in the position to purchase the house. It gave him the garage he needed, and the extra space for at least some of his cars. We were all pleased that JD wanted to buy his grandparents’ home, because that meant that it would stay in the family. Selling your parents’ house after they pass is always hard, but this time it was pretty easy…and JD loves the house. I’m sure it keeps great memories alive for him. The house looks a little bit different these days, because JD loves Ford blue, and of course, all the cars are there, but I think his grandpa, Walt Schulenberg would love the fact that JD lives there.

imageimageJD is a mechanic, mostly on Hondas, but he can work on just about anything, and you might see him out in the garage at any time…day or night. Working on vehicles is his first priority…well, maybe second to work…where he also works on vehicles, hahahaha!! So, I guess that working on vehicles is his first priority in all areas of his life. He’s good at what he does, and liked by all who know him. And even if he does have lots of cars, it’s just a quirk, and we love him anyway. Besides, he stays out of trouble that way. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

IMG_6737imageEvery year my mother’s family has two gatherings designed to keep the Byer family close, which was my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s desire for their family. They were married on Christmas eve, so a Christmas party was the ideal event for on of those gatherings. It was decided that the other would be a picnic in the summer. Over the years, attendance as dwindled a bit, which I find very sad, because this is an easy way to stay connected, but this year was a bit of an exception to the rule, because unusual as it is, we had a family member come from out of town, and everyone wanted to see him. Greg Hushman decided to make the trip down from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho to visit family members and attend the picnic. We were all excited to see him, and people who had never come to the picnic before, came and really enjoyed themselves.

Elmer Johnson is a regular attendee, like me, but with Greg’s appearance, we had two of the Three Musketeers imageimageof Mischief in attendance. Unfortunately, Forrest Beadle, who was the third musketeer, passed away in July of 2005. He was very much missed yesterday. As we visited with Greg and Elmer, they recapped some of the various ways they managed to get into trouble…especially with Grandma Byer, who had a broom that could somehow reach around corners, and down stairs to wallop the, by then running to get away, mischievous musketeer. They could never figure out how she did that. Surely they were quick enough to outrun Grandma. After all, she was only 4’10” tall, and being a grandma, she must have been too old to run…right??? Nevertheless, she never failed to make them painfully aware that short and old or not, she was the boss…and they simply better never forget it!!

My sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock all commented that they had never been spanked by Grandma Byer…after which I had to admit that I had. I was probably the more mouthy one of imageimagemy siblings…no not probably…I was. I argued with my Dad…we called it debating, but my sisters thought I was about to die, for sure, because they never dared argue with Dad. Well, anyway, somehow, my Grandma Byer didn’t understand the difference between arguing and debating, and she just called it mouthy, so I got a spanking. Not to self…don’t argue or debate with Grandma Byer!! She will win!!

Of course, most of the still living original siblings were there, but this year, we lost two…my mother, Collene Spencer, and Aunt Evelyn Hushman. It felt a little bit empty without them, and in a strange way, I noticed that the remaing original siblings worked very hard to connect with all of the nieces and nephews, almost like they were concerned about those relationships. Uncle Wayne Byer was seen teasing several people, and Aunt Virginia Beadle, Aunt Bonnie McDaniels, Aunt Dixie Richards, and Aunt Sandy Pattan made a great effort to make the rounds to talk to as many of us as they could. As did the cousins, like imageimageClyde and Susie Young, Terry and Shannon Limmer, Dennis and Wendy French, Kevin and Jamie Patsie, Jeannie Liegman, Jimmy Richards, Keith Beyer and his brother, Cliff Byer’s family, Cindy Ellis and family, JeanAnn Stanko, Rachelle French, Corrie Petersen and her son Chris, Jim and Alina Young, Dwan Orr and family Steve and Jenny Spethman and kids, and lots of the children. I felt like this was one of the closest picnics we have ever had. I suppose that the more family members we lose, the more we realize just how quickly we can lose each other. The time to stay close is right now!!

IMG_3718Children are a curious bunch. There is so much in this world that is totally new to them. Things we take for granted as being average, or even boring, they find interesting, and children aren’t alone in this either. Animals can be just as curious about the things that people don’t even think about. Things like taking pictures of seagulls can have them looking at you like you are from outer space. I suppose they have seen enough humans to know what they look like. Then to see one with a camera up to their face, makes them think that this is some new creature. As I scrambled to take this shot of a seagull as it flew over me head, I had no idea that I had snapped a shot of him looking right at me, as if to ask, “What are you doing?”

Dogs are especially curious about things, and since they aren’t afraid to come near humans, they come and Dog and Camerastick their curious little noses right in the camera lens…and they are very likely to lick the camera lens…whether you like it or not. In a way they are like babies. The best way to figure out what something is, is to put it in your mouth…right?? Well, that’s just like a dog. If it’s cool enough for their human to have up to their face, it must taste good. Or maybe it’s a new kind of toy that their human bought for them. Maybe if they lick it and let their human know they want to play, their human with throw it for them. As funny as that sounds, the photographer probably isn’t so thrilled with that dog slobber all over their lens, but their dog is having a great time.

When it comes to kids though, they have a little bit more ability to get their hands on things. A wise parent knows that there is a time to kid proof your house. It doesn’t matter what it is, if their parents think it’s cool, so do the kids. And they don’t understand the concept of something being broken. They just want to see what it is.

My grand nephew, Jake Harman was very much that Curiositycurious little boy, when his mom or grandma was trying to take his picture. I can’t say that the picture turned out the way they had planned, but you must admit that it turned out pretty cute anyway. If I didn’t know what he looked like as a little boy, I suppose this picture could have been a picture of any baby, but it isn’t, it’s Jake. Jake was always a curious little boy, and I suppose that like most kids, that got him into a certain degree of mischief, but he was, in all reality just a normal boy, curiosity and all. And while the picture didn’t turn out as planned, it takes me back to when my first grand nephew was born. It was a new experience, and we were all curious about who he would become. Hmmm…curiosity isn’t just a quirk of children and animals. Even adults have that tendency.

Sleepy CaalabChristopher - eating is a lot of workKids seem to be able to go to sleep in just about any position. I suppose adults can do that too, but it seems to be the kids who do it most often. And the thing that is most amazing is that the kids don’t seem to wake up with a neck ache or a backache or any thing else. If we sleep in those awkward positions, as adults, it seems like before long we are awakened by the crick in our neck or back that is screaming at us to, “for Pete’s sake…lay down!!” Not so babies. Whatever they are doing, when they get tired, like my grandson Caalab Royce or my niece, Toni Chase sleeping in their swing, my grandson Christopher Petersen or my daughter, Corrie Petersen sleeping in their highchairs in the middle of a meal, they simply close their eyes and it’s lights out!! It doesn’t matter if their meal is over or just beginning, if they are worn out from all the work of eating, they just give up and go to sleep. And we all know that a baby swing is the world’s best babysitter.

As parents or grandparents, we now have a decision to make. Should we take them out of the high chair, wash their face and hands, and put them to bed…risking the possibility that they will wake up and not want to go Koolaide FaceEating is hard workback to sleep? Now every parent knows that if you do that and they do wake up, your quiet time is over. That precious time only occurs when the little ones go down for a nap or to bed for the night. Disturbing that plan is not a great idea. And really, their little face can be washed later. It’s not like the food will stain anything…unless your child is my daughter, Amy Royce, who could give herself a Kool-Aid mustache that was really hard to remove…but then, that came after the nap, while she was glaring at me in her post-nap grouchy face…the one that made me decide that giving that happy little pre-nap girl her daily nap, was not worth the grouchy girl post-nap headache I got. Parents also have to weigh the pros and cons of the possibly grouchy baby who got a crick in their neck from sleeping in such weird positions in their swing, with the possibility of a grouchy baby who wouldn’t go to sleep after you repositioned them.

In the end, most parents opted to let the child sleep in whatever weird position they landed in…even if it was standing up. How does a child fall asleep standing up anyway?? I suppose it was a matter of having something to lean on that would support their weight, but why wouldn’t their little legs buckle in their sleep. I suppose my Dad and Ryan sleepingcheryl385nephew, Ryan Hadlock came by that ability honestly, since my Uncle Bill Spencer, tells me that his little brother, my dad and Ryan’s grandpa, Allen Spencer fell asleep standing on a wood pile one time. In reality, when the need for sleep arises, we go to sleep, be it watching television, eating, sitting in a baby swing, in school, or oops…sometimes even at work. Our bodies have a mind of their own, when it comes to needing their rest, and if we don’t answer the call and go to bed, our bodies will just take matters into their own hands…and we will just have to deal with the consequences.

scan0110New TVsLet’s face it…we all love getting presents. Maybe it’s the excitement of finally seeing what it is, or maybe we kind of knew what we were getting anyway, but now we actually have it. Whatever the excitement is for you, you have to admit that you love getting presents. I think it all starts about the time that you are old enough to realize what those things in that toy box are used for, and then suddenly to connect that with the fact that once you tear off the paper on that box you are given, you will find a toy to add to your collection. For a kid that is among the greatest things that could possibly happen to you. I mean, toys are the best…right?

Then, came the day when you were give the inevitable gift of…clothes, for your birthday or Christmas!!! Your first thought was, “How lame is this!!” You might have even got a little bit annoyed, sad, or just downright mad. Of course, I seriously doubt if your parents were very happy with you…especially if you opened the gift in front a bunch of friends or family members, and then got mad. Parents tend to think your rudeness is not so special. Still, for many kids, getting clothes is the ultimate bummer. They know they need them, and really they like the clothes they get, but clothes just don’t qualify as a present!! It should be the number one rule of gift buying and giving. Don’t parents know this? I mean, they were kids once too…right? And if the kids are little enough, suddenly, the reality completely sinks in…their parents were never kids!!! Otherwise, they would know that you never buy clothes for a gift for a kid…never!!

Now, I know that as adults many of us have even requested clothes as a gift, but even then, you have to admit that the thrill of getting a gift can be lacking…just a little bit, when the gift is clothes. It doesn’t mean that you Wow!! Clothesscan0129don’t like the clothes. And I’m sure my girls and dad really did like them. In fact, I know that they all really liked the clothes they got!! Could it have been just a bad picture that revealed a face that was lacking in joy…you know, that, “wait!! I wasn’t ready” moment. At the very least, in the case of my dad, who would never have made mom think he didn’t like her gift, and as I said, he did. I know he did, because he wore that suit a lot. We all remember him in that one. So at least for him, I suspect it was a poorly timed picture. Nevertheless, the look on his face still strongly resembles that “clothes…really!!” look.

Mike in the BahamasMy brother-in-law, Mike Reed has proven himself to be such a great addition to our family over the years. When we first met Mike, I wasn’t sure he stood much a very good chance against all of our teasing, but he is a really good sport, and he is also, a great teaser in his own right. When we first met him, he might have been a little overwhelmed by our large group of full on teasers, but that only lasted for about ten minutes….then he was right there with us.

Mike and my sister, Caryl are such good friends. They have the same goals and dreams. Right now they are working on their retirement plans. I always knew that imageCaryl loved horses, and wanted to have some of her own, but I didn’t know that Mike shared that dream with her. Nevertheless, they do share this dream, and since their purchase of a ranch outside of Casper, they have been working to fix it up. Mike is very handy as a carpenter, and I think Caryl must be too, or else she is a good assistant, which would be more like what I would be. Their retirement is down the road a little way yet, but by the time they are ready, their home on the ranch will be built. There is already a house there, but they are renting it out for now. Time will tell what they decide to do with that house later on. Mike has many talents. He could easily be a handyman. In fact, it seems like every time they come down, we have some project for him to do at our parents’ house, where our sister, Cheryl lives.

imageOf course, I think that the thing that Mike is most looking forward to in retirement, is the same as most of us are…relaxing. Mike likes to fish, hunt, and to travel. He has taken a couple of trips to Alaska to go Carabou hunting. He uses the meat from the hunting to make the most amazing jerky ever. And like most of us who have done it, taking a cruise is a wonderful way to spend a vacation. I think that once you have done it, it’s real easy to get hooked on it…as Mike and Caryl will certainly tell you. They have traveled, to many places, including Japan, the Bahamas, and most recently a cruise from Baltimore to the Caribbean. I think they are in pre-retirement mode…but then aren’t we all. Well Mike, with each birthday, you are a little bit closer…good news!! Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Leaving New YorkWhen my sister, Cheryl Masterson got married, and shortly after her then husband’s basic training, moved to Plattsburgh, New York, it marked a huge change in our family’s life. In fact, our family’s home life would never be the same again. Of course, we knew that having our sister get married and move out of the house was perfectly normal, but we were a close family, and somehow, we just weren’t prepared for that day. Of course, it was especially hard on my parents, and I can certainly understand that, since I have a daughter who lives far away now too, but in many ways, I think Cheryl’s move was harder on me than on my little sisters. Cheryl was the oldest, but she had always been a role model for me too. She had style and class, and I was at the very awkward age of fifteen. It seemed to me that she would be gone forever, and in the end, I was married before she came home, and I had my first daughter too. In many ways, we were both very different people by the time she returned. She was the mother of three children, and I had a daughter and one on the way. We were no longer the children we had been just a few short years before.

Of course, we saw Cheryl and her family during the time they lived in New York, in fact the family made two At Niagra Fallstrips and I went up and spent Christmas and New Years the year after I graduated from high school. And the trips were wonderful…a great blessing to be sure. I suppose Mom and Dad might have taken us to the East Coast for a vacation sooner or later, because they did love to travel, but I might not have been still living at home when they did it, so I guess, for me, that this situation opened up doors that might not have been opened otherwise. Nevertheless, I think if we had been given the choice to have the trips to New York or Cheryl and her family living here, we would have taken the latter for sure. Be that as it may, our trips to New York allowed us to see the ocean, eat Maine Lobster, and see Niagara Falls. We saw Washington DC, Gettysburg, the bridges in Vermont, and many other sites up and down the East Coast. I suppose that looking back, we would have to admit that having Cheryl living in upstate New York, was in all reality, the opportunity of a lifetime…were it not for upstate New York being so very far away…that is.

Those trips were a lot of fun, but they did not come even remotely close to having our family all together. And with each trip came the inevitable goodbyes and the parting tears. It felt like our hearts would just break…Chantel, Mom, Cheryl, and Dad ( we were getting ready to leave New York after a visit) 1972especially Mom and Dad, and poor Dad had to be the strong one all the way home with five weepy women in the car with him. He had to be the one to finally say, “We have to go. This is just too hard on everyone.” He had to do it because our sadness would have kept us there in tears for hours, if someone didn’t break us away. He had to be the strong one…because we sure couldn’t. Once Cheryl’s husband’s time in the service was over, they moved back to Casper, where she and her kids have lived ever since. Once the time was suddenly over, we could look back on it and it seemed to go by quite fast, but in the midst of it, that time felt like our world was falling apart. In reality, it was simply that we were no longer children, and life had taken the next logical step for us. I’m just glad that we are mostly closer to home now, with just a few exceptions.