Monthly Archives: January 2016

Bob in shockDebbie keeping Bob in lineFrom the first time I saw my husband, Bob Schulenberg, I liked him. There were many things I liked about him, but one of them was his great smile. Bob was always a happy guy. He laughs a lot, especially at comedy shows. It’s not that comedy is the only thing he likes to watch, but when he seems a good comedy, he laughs through the whole show…even if he is the only person in the room. His laugh is great, but it isn’t just about his laugh. Bob has a great smile…and it’s been with him all his life.

As a little boy, Bob had many facial expressions…little most kids do, but there were some that I especially like. His “shocked baby” looks is hilarious. His “my big sister is bossy” look is pretty good too, but his “bashful smile” is among my favorites. That little smile tells me what a sweet boy he was. It is a part of him that has never left him. Bob is sweet almost to a fault. Sometimes I see that little boy in him…that sweet little boy who goes out of his way to do sweet things for me. I don’t think that a lot of people get to see that side of him, but I get to see it, because sometimes the little boy in Bob comes out in the things he does.

Bob, the man, is so similar to Bob, the little boy. He is sweet and eager to make people smile. He really spoils me rotten…but don’t tell him I said that. I do have to consider what I tell him I want or want to do, because he will go out of his way to make it happen if there is a way. It makes me feel like a princess. I Caryn and Bob share a laughBob in Forsyth - November 1956think Bob, the little boy had a favorite person in his life too, and I think that person was his Grandma Hein. He loved going up to see her, and to help out around her place. To him it was one of the highlights of his summer. And his grandma remained one of his favorite people throughout his whole life. I could go on and on about all the things that makes Bob such a great guy, but I’m sure you already think I’m biased. This isn’t Bob’s birthday or anything, I just like to write about what a great guy I have sometimes. I love you honey.

imageMy nephew, Chris Iverson is a dedicated dad. When his son, with his wife Cassie, was born with Downs Syndrome he stepped right up to the plate. Lucas was his boy, and that was the greatest thing ever. Chris and Cassie have also taken up the cause to bring awareness to the world about just how amazing these children are. Lucas is such a happy boy, and while he can have his moods like any other kid, he smiles a lot. I think that is partly due to the amazing parents he has. Of course, becoming a big brother this past summer was great for Lucas and his parents too. Chris and Cassie’s little girl, Zoey arrived right on schedule and she thinks her big brother is pretty great. She thinks her parents are great too.
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Chris loves the outdoors, and wants to teach his kids to love it too. He and Cassie like to go camping in the Big Horn Mountains. Chris loves to fish and just enjoy the great outdoors. I’m sure that as time goes on, he will be teaching his kids the ropes, thereby setting the stage for the next generation of nature lovers. I can’t blame Chris for loving the great outdoors, because I feel the same way. My big thing is hiking, and I don’t really know if Chris shares that with me or not, but to each his own. I’m not into camping. I guess that after spending the day hiking in the woods, I want the comforts of a motel. Nevertheless, I have a lot of respect for people who get out and rough it.
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One of the things I like the most about Chris is that he is a patriot. These days, we need every patriot we can get. With the government trying to take our rights away from us every day, America needs people who will stand up for those rights, whether it is fighting or being very vocal about what is going on. Either one takes real guts, and Chris has guts. We really need more people like that in our country these days. I like that Chris stands up for our country. He is a good man, dedicated dad, good husband, and a patriot…what more could a family ask of a man. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Baseball Hall of FameBabe RuthSince I was a kid, I have liked the game of baseball. Our parents, Allen and Collene Spencer, figured that with five girls, they had enough for a makeshift game of baseball whenever we went camping, and we all usually liked to play. That was really my first experience with baseball and with sports of any kind, I guess. I was not destined to become some great player, nor did I have any big aspirations in that area, because my interests went a different direction as I grew up. Nevertheless, I still enjoy watching a good game of baseball, and my favorite team is the Colorado Rockies. I suppose my dad…a Yankees fan to the core…probably wondered what I saw in the Colorado Rockies. Still, that was and is my team, and the team of my husband, Bob Schulenberg too. To many baseball fans, I suppose I would not be considered a die hard fan, because I don’t watch every game the Rockies play, but I watch enough to know who I like.

The really die hard fans have their heroes I’m sure, and that makes sense. Every sport has the spectacular players that people follow no matter what team they move to. They are just that good. I suppose that is what Christy MatthewsonHonus Wagneroriginally made baseball fans or the heads of the MLB decide that baseball needed a place to recognize their great players. The idea of a Baseball Hall of Fame began gathering steam in 1935, when members of the Clark Foundation in Cooperstown sought to revive business and tourism after the Depression. The idea took hold, and as most people know, every year new and amazing players are inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. While the Clark Foundation told a “white lie” to get things started, by saying that U.S. Civil War hero Abner Doubleday invented baseball in Cooperstown. The story was a phony, and they had a hard time living down the lie. The baseball officials were eager turn the idea into a reality. They backed it…so we have the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Of all those people who have entered into the Baseball Hall of Fame, it’s my guess that none were more exciting than the first ones. In fact, on January 29, 1936, the Baseball Hall of Fame elected its first members in Cooperstown, New York. The first inductees were Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson. In preparation for the dedication of the Hall of Fame in 1939 which many people thought was the centennial of baseball, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America chose the five greatest superstars of the game as the first class to be inducted. Ty Cobb was the most productive hitter in history. Babe Ruth was both Ty CobbWalter Johnsonan ace pitcher and the greatest home-run hitter to play the game. Honus Wagner was a versatile star shortstop and batting champion. Christy Matthewson had more wins than any pitcher in National League history. And, Walter Johnson was considered one of the most powerful pitchers ever to have taken the mound. Today, there are 225 players, 17 managers, 8 umpires, and 28 executives and pioneers who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it hosts 350,000 visitors per year. It’s all about baseball.

Challenger CrewInspiration comes from many different places, but most often from an event that so strongly affects our emotions or our lives, that we feel the need to act. That is what happened to a number of students who all had something in common…Christa McAuliffe. On this day, January 28, 1986…30 years ago, after months of training and a huge national following, Christa McAuliffe entered the Space Shuttle Challenger, and went down in history as not only the first teacher chosen to go into space, but the first civilian to die on such a mission. She never made it into space, because just 73 seconds after the launch, the Challenger exploded.

The world looked on in horror, because this launch had been so widely televised and so greatly anticipated. ChristaMcAuliffeAfter the explosion, the news was broadcast over and over. We saw the horrified faces of the families of the crew, the tears of family, friends, and students of the first teacher in space, and we saw the explosion…over and over again. The heart of a nation was broken, not just because of Christa McAuliffe, but also for the families of payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist. It had been many years since the NASA space program had lost a crew, and it was the first one in flight.

I’m sure that an accident in space did not inspire people to go into the space program, because the safety of the program immediately came into question. Nevertheless, from this tragedy…from out of the ashes of the Space Shuttle Challenger, inspiration did come. It came in the form of teachers. The students of Christa Challenger ExplosionMcAuliffe…not all, but a number of them, were inspired to become teachers themselves. Each of those former students of Christa McAuliffe…kids who maybe didn’t like social studies, but because Christa McAuliffe made it interesting somehow, they did well in her class, and were inspired by her. After her passing, these inspired students decided that they wanted to pick up where she left off. They wanted to carry on with her dream. They follow her motto, “I touch the future. I teach.” One of those teachers commented that she heard people say that and wondered if they had any idea where that motto came from. Her former students knew…it was Christa McAuliffe, and her legacy lives on, 30 years after her death.

imageimageSome people just don’t brag about some of the cool things that happen to them, so you have to get your information from their mom or some other little birdie in the family. My niece, Lacey Stevens is one of those people. Lacey is a cosmetologist at Super Cuts, and is usually the top sales person each month. Recently, Matrix held a contest. For those who don’t know, Matrix is a line of hair care products that are exclusive to salons. The contest rules stated that every time a sales person made a $50.00 sale, their name was entered into a drawing. The more $50.00 sales, the more chances to win the prize. As I said, Lacey is a record holding sales person. During the contest period, Lacey qualified five times. The prize was an all expenses paid trip to Orlando, Florida for Matrix Destination 2016, and Lacey was one of only nine winners nationwide. Her hard work paid off in spades…or maybe diamonds, in this case. Lacey was in the winner’s circle.

The trip was this week, and what a time Lacey had. She met a number of celebrity hair stylists including Tabitha Coffey, from Shear Genius and George Papanicholas, who was Britney Spears stylist on tour and had done the Kardashian sisters hair, as well. Of course, it wasn’t all celebrity stylists…even if that is impossible to top. Lacey learned many new things this week. For a hair stylist, one of these events is a chance to get the scoop on all the latest news in hair and hair care.

Of course, the trip wasn’t all about work either. Matrix Destination 2016 put the winners up in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. All told the cost per winner was at least $2000.00. Lacey’s room had a television set built into the mirror in the bathroom. Now there might be some people who have stayed in hotels like this before, but for most of us it’s a rarity…if at all. The view from Lacey’s room was spectacular, and of course she got to do some sightseeing too. I didn’t know that Lacey was into wax museums, but then maybe she knew this one might be better than most. While touring the museum, Lacey came across a statue of Channing Tatum. I suppose that every girl who finds herself standing next to a movie star feels the same excitement…be it wax statue or real person. Lacey is no different, and she just couldn’t resist a picture of herself with Channing…saying she was just hanging out with her boyfriend. My sister Alena Stevens, who is Lacey’s mom, had to wonder what Lacey’s real life boyfriend, Michael Tanner thought of the swooning picture Lacey had taken. I suspect that Michael wasn’t all imageimagethat worried, I mean after all, Channing couldn’t leave the building or he would melt, that would be…awkward!!

Lacey is an amazing cosmetologist, and a great sales person too. She has worked hard to get where she is today, and she has earned this awesome trip, and much more. She got back home yesterday, just in time for her birthday. Talk about a great birthday present. I can’t imagine anything more cool…especially when it ends with her coming home to spend her birthday with her family, whom she loves very much. Today is Lacey’s birthday. Happy birthday Lacey!! We are so proud of all you have accomplished, and very happy that you won such an amazing trip. Have a great day!! We love you!!

Walt & Joann weddingFor my husband, Bob’s Aunt Margee Knox Kountz, there would never be a time in her young memory when she didn’t have a brother-in-law. Her older sister, Joann Knox Schulenberg got married when Margee was just 4½ months old. Of course, this is not a normal occurrence in families with only three children, but my mother-in-law, Joann was almost 16 years old when the first of her younger sisters, Linda Knox Cole was born, and almost 18 years old when the second of her two younger sisters, Margee was born. Due to the number of years between the births of the girls, almost like having two families, my mother-in-law was preparing to get married when her mother was pregnant with the her youngest child. So in all reality, Margee was barely born before becoming a sister-in-law. My father-in-law thought Margee was so cute. He told my mother-in-law, in some letters written while he was working in another town, that he wanted them to have a Margeelittle girl just like Margee. She was very special to him, and of course to her sister, my mother-in-law, Joann too. I know Margee was not the only person to ever become a sister-in-law, as such a young age, and of course, there are some who are born into that position, but usually they come from bigger families. I just think it would be a little strange to grow up a sister-in-law from such a young age.

Over the years, much has been required of Margee. She was a single mom for as long as I have known her, raising her two children Dan and Sandi and eventually helping out with her grandchildren, while parents worked, or as in the case of her son, Dan’s children, stepping in to help raise them after his beloved wife, Darlene passed away in 1998, when her children were Zech and Staci were about 4 and 2 years old. That was a terrible time for those children and their dad, and Margee, along with Darlene’s parents, stepped up to help them get through it, because as we all know, you don’t get over it, you just get on with it. No, life has not been Mom and Margeeeasy for any of them, but with Margee’s help, these kids have done ok.

Margee stepped up when she was needed most, but then, that is what she does. Whenever a situation arises that leaves someone she loves in need of help, Margee is willing to help in whatever way she can. Whether it is with the little ones, or when her sister needed someone to be with her, because she could not stay alone anymore because of Alzheimer’s disease, or after the passing of a loved one, Margee always steps up. Margee is always someone you can count on. She always comes through for you in a pinch. That is the mark of a wonderful person. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Dakar sets out fro HaifaImagine a people so dedicated to bringing their people home to be given a proper burial, that they would search for 31 years for a submarine that went missing with its 69 crew members, all considered lost sons of a nation. I know that many people wait years and never give up hope for the return of the remains of soldiers lost in battle, but this was a little bit different. The meant extensive searches and great expense…nevertheless, it was considered worth the cost. Imagine such a nation. Who would you think of? The United States maybe, or England? No, it is Israel.

The submarine, INS Dakar was originally known as HMS Totem. It was built at the height of World War II by H.M. Dockyard in Great Britain. It was commissioned as the HMS Totem by the British navy in 1943. After the war ended, the submarine was modified, adding 12 feet to its length and removing some of its gun decks. The submarine was then sold to Israel along with two others in 1965. On November 10, 1967, the Israeli Navy officially launched Dakar. The submarine was tested in Scotland, and scheduled to go to Haifa, Israel for an official ceremony in early February, 1968. The crew had been ordered to check in daily, and they followed the orders implicitly. On January 24, 1968, Dakar passed the island of Crete and radioed its position for the last time. One additional signal came from Dakar just after midnight on January 25, 1968 and then…nothing. That was 48 years ago today.
Dakar last sighting
Israel launched 25 search missions over the 31 years following the loss of Dakar, but to no avail. The only sign of the submarine was one of her locator buoys that washed ashore off the coast of Khan Yunis a year after Dakar’s disappearance. Using that clue and the technology available at the time, those search missions resulted in the search of most of the Mediterranean Sea. The odd thing was that the searches never included the actual route that Dakar would have taken to Haifa. When the buoy was discovered, it was estimated that Dakar was 50 to 70 miles off course…hence the searches in the wrong places. Then, on 9 May 1999 two charted sea vessels arrived to finally search area along the original route. The designated search frames box area was approximately 60 nautical miles long, nearly 8 nautical miles wide and contained 16 search lanes. With a speed of 2 knots per hour it takes between 30 to 40 hours to monitor the sea bed of each search lane. Searching was conducted using the AMS-60, a wide-swath sonar and the REMORA 6000, a remotely operated vehicle equipped with both video and still cameras. On May 24th, in the evening, sonar detected a large body on the sea floor, along with several smaller bodies nearby. They launched the ROV at 7:00 on May 28th, after 3 days of weather delays, and finally found the Dakar four hours later.

There has been much speculation as to what caused the sinking and inevitable implosion of Dakar. Some say it Dakar after sinkingwas a small leak that made control become impossible, but one Egyptian admiral has a different story to tell. Mohammed Abed el-Majid Azeb told various Egyptian sources that his crew identified the Israeli submarine during a training exercise. He decided to attack the vessel, which was in Egyptian territorial waters and and declared war on it. According to the report, Egyptian military commentators have suggested that the submarine was damaged by an Egyptian depth-charge and had to submerge, which could have been the leak they experienced. It’s hard to say after all these years, and we may never know, but I find it very interesting that the Israeli government would not give up until it could bring those lost sons home for a proper burial.

Chantel and IzabellaAs my niece, Chantel Balcerzak became a grandmother a month ago, when her son Jake Harman and his fiancé, Melanie Price welcomed their daughter, Izabella Siara Harman into the world, I started thinking that like most mothers, the rite of passage to grandmother had suddenly occurred for Chantel, bringing with it a big change. As mothers, we sometimes find it very hard to believe that our child could actually be a parent. They were just babies a few days ago, right? How is it possible that they have babies of their own already? I think that for most parents, the first thought is do these kids really know what they are doing? Of course, in most cases, they do…its just our perception that clouds our thoughts. As with most parents, new or seasoned, the baby is very vocal about whether or not they are happy. If the parents just check the normal things babies are upset about, they can figure it out pretty quickly.

So, the rite of passage is often with the grandparents, and usually the grandmother, who has the misperception Cheryl and Aleesiathat this baby, now parent, can manage to take care of and raise this new little person…grandma’s little sweetheart. That is the problem, of course. This is grandma’s little sweetheart, and Chantel raised Jake…whether her mom, Cheryl Masterson, thought Chantel could do it or not, just like my sister, Cheryl raised Chantel, whether our mom, Collene Spencer thought she could do it or not. The babies are now grown up and they can raise children of their own. They have gone through that rite of passage into parenthood, just like the parents have transitioned into grandparents.

Before long, that period of disbelief in the new parents’ ability to do this fades away, because they are doing it and doing it well. Now the new grandparents have the time and ability to relax and enjoy this new little baby…which is what being a grandparent is all about, right. You get to have the baby at the best of times, and give the baby back to the parents at the worst of times. Of course, like most grandparents, you find yourself wanting to help out to make life a little bit GiGi and Aleesiaeasier for the tired parents. But then what would grandparenting be if not to give the parents a much needed break sometimes.

As Chantel, her husband Dave, Jake and his fiancé, Melanie embark on this new journey, I know that they will have the greatest of times. Little Izabella is a sweet baby, and I know she will grow into a beautiful little girl. She will learn lots of new things from her big sister Alice, and this family will be a great blessing to their grandparents and great grandparents. I only wish my mom, Jake’s great grandma, Collene Spencer, and my dad, Jake’s great grandpa, Allen Spencer, could have been here to meet our little Izabella.

Henriette Albertine SchumacherThings were quite different in the 1800s, as most of you know, but sometimes I wonder if we really understand how different they were. In about 1876 or so, my great grandmother, Henriette Schumacher, a girl of about 16 years, was sent by her widowed mother, with her sister to America. Her sister’s husband wanted to immigrate there, and since they had two little daughters, and Great Grandma’s mother was worried about her daughter going so far without help, she decided that since Henriette was not married she should go too. For their mother, there seemed to be safety in numbers, so it had to be better to send two girls instead of just one. I really can’t imagine the heartache she must have felt at that time. When my own daughter, Amy Royce moved to Washington state, I thought my heart would break…and yet I knew I would see her again, and that communication for us would be fairly easy. For my 2nd great grandmother, things were different. She didn’t know if she would see her daughters again, and I have no way to confirm that she did.

Still, many people were leaving the old country, in search of a dream life somewhere else. In that way, not much has changed at all. People still move from place to place, and sometimes country to country in search of some exciting new dream life. Some find what they are looking for, and others find out that what they were searching for was right there in front of them all along, so they return to their home. For my great grandmother, there didn’t seem to be much of a dream life waiting for her. She had a boyfriend back home, but things weren’t serous I suppose, because he didn’t follow her, and they never married. I think that for Great Grandma, Germany was comfortable. It was her home, and all she really knew. She didn’t have the wanderlust that her brother-in-law had. She couldn’t see that a life in America would be any better than the one she had in Germany, close to her family and friends. Nevertheless, go she must, so she said goodbye to all she knew, and headed off with her sister’s family to America.

In the end, she would find that her destiny was in America. It was there that she met my great grandfather, Carl Schumacher, who had immigrated a few years earlier. Their chance meeting when he stepped in for a baptismal sponsor who was unable to attend the baptism of Henriette’s sister’s daughter, brought Carl he Young Carl Schumacherwoman he would fall so completely in love with, that they would marry just a year later. I’m sure at that point, Henriette thought back to her prior boyfriend, and decided that their romance was a silly schoolgirl crush. Whoever he was, he could never have measured up to the man Carl was. Henriette wasn’t the same either. She was a world traveler now. She had lived in a wild new country. She had left home, grown up quickly, and had a degree of independence that her old beau would not have understood. Her world was different…things were different…she was different. He would never have been her choice now. Sometimes that is just how it goes. Our lives take turns that we didn’t plan on, and suddenly things are different. Then we have to live our life in the new reality that we live in. I’m sure that is how her mother felt too.

Hanging Out With MomFor the first three years of my life, I was my parents’ youngest child, and my sister, Cheryl Spencer Masterson, their oldest, of course. That meant that while our dad, Allen Spencer worked, Cheryl and I got to hang out with Mom. And since we lived just across the yard from my Uncle Bill Spencer and Aunt Doris Spencer, we got to hang out with Aunt Doris and our cousin Pam Spencer Wendling as well. Oh, the times we had!! Of course, our dads were there too, and then we got to go other places and do things that the moms wouldn’t take us to do alone. Those were either too far or too crowded. I think for my dad, taking us out to Lake Superior was the most special thing to do. He loved taking pictures of his girls enjoying the sunshine, the outdoors, and the time spent with mom and dad…even though it looks like it was just the girls hanging out with Mom. In reality, the time girls spend with their moms show them what women should be like…a very good reason for moms to be careful about the way they come across to their girls. Little girls watch their mom clean and cook. They watch the way they dress, and how they act, and how they treat their husband. Boys do the same thing with their dads, but today is about hanging out with my mom.
Smelting at Lake Superior
I can’t say that I always followed Mom’s examples on things, we were two different people, after all, and we led different lives as adult women. Still, my mom’s values, or her teaching thereof, took root, and are still with me to this day. While I didn’t always understand why she liked things the way she did sometimes, I do understand why now. I was a different person then, younger and less aware of how I would feel about things in the future. And now that my mom is in Heaven, I can’t tell you just how often I would love to call her up to get her advise on things. I think that it is so unfortunate that kids don’t realize just how important their parents are to them, until its too late. Of course, I knew that my parents were very important to me, but even though I can say that honestly, I can also honestly say that I still didn’t know just how important they were until that were gone, because once your parents are gone, the missing them is endless. You look back on the times you had with them, now with the full awareness that you can’t have those times again on this Earth, and you find out just how precious those times were. Your mind starts thinking just how much you wish you could go back, while carrying the knowledge you now have, and spend those precious moments focused on your parents more, and scan0037anot just acknowledging that they are your parents, while thinking that they will always be there. Truly, if we could do that, more of us would probably hang out with them a little more often, and not squander that precious time.

Today, marks 11 months since my mom went to Heaven. I miss her every day, and never a day goes by that I don’t think of her and Dad, now happily together again forever. I know they know how much we all love them, but they are so happy in Heaven, that I truly cannot wish them back to a world filled with the ugliness of today. Nevertheless, I look forward to the day when we will all be together again, so we can hang out for eternity. We love and miss you Mom and Dad. We will see you soon.