Monthly Archives: February 2016
Every four years, our calendar has an extra day…February 29th. Now, to most people, that is a novelty, but to my granddaughter, Shai Royce…that day is very special. If you only got a real birthday every four years, I’m sure you would think that day is quite special too. Shai has not always embraced every aspect of a Leap Day birthday, such as having the three grandsons in the family inform you that they are older than you, even though two of them were born after you. These days, Shai embraces Leap Day, because of it’s pure novelty, and someday she will really love it. Just think, when she’s 64 years old, she will, in reality, be 16. Who can say that? Only a Leap Day Baby, and that’s because…well, Leap Happens, and when it does, people don’t age in quite the same way.
This year looked like it was going to be a bit lonlier for Shai, but her brother, Caalab surprised her with a visit all the way from Seattle, Washington. Shai was completely shocked, and so was I. That sneaky little brother of hers managed to swear everyone who knew to secrecy, so Shai, her grandpa, and I were completely in the dark. When her family moved to the Seattle area, Shai decided to stay in Casper, and now she has taken a page out of her mom’s book. She is in the insurance industry and working with her very blessed grandma…me, at The Stengel Agency. Like her mom, she started out as a CSR, and is learning the insurance ropes. Who knows, she might even become an agent like her mom and grandma someday. I am very proud of all that she has learned here. She handles changes, payments, filing, and phones with ease. I think she comes from good insurance stock. She is doing so well for someone so young…I mean how many 5 year olds do you know who work in insurance?
This is the first year that Shai has lived on her own too, and I am very proud of how she has handled that. She is quite stubborn about accepting help with anything, and insists on paying for herself. Most of the time I let her too, but sometimes, like her birthday lunch, I have to put my grandma’s foot down. Of course, she is much like all my kids and grandkids. They are just responsible people, and I am proud of each and every one of them. Shai may only be five years old, but Shai the adult, shows me often that she has earned her twenty years, and her adulthood. I can’t believe that now two of my grandchildren are in their twenties. It seems totally impossible!! Where have the years gone? Today is Shai’s 20th birthday. Happy 5th Leap Day birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every year…these days anyway, we have to let my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg know when her birthday is. Even then, she won’t remember it. That’s what Alzheimer’s Disease has done to her. I suppose many people would think that is terrible, but really for her, it ok. Yes, there are things that Alzheimer’s has taken from her, but there are things it has given her too. She often tells us that she is 65 years old, when in reality, she is 85 years old today. Just think of how nice it would be to be ageless. She can pick whatever age she chooses, and that’s how old she is that day. Wouldn’t we all love to be able to do that sometimes?
Mom has lived a full life. While she had some health issues that we all expected would take her first, she has nevertheless, outlived my parents and my father-in-law. Many people would think that she has no real quality of life, but if you knew her, you would know that she always was a people watcher. That makes the activity around at the nursing home ideal for her. She doesn’t like to go outside when it’s cold, so now she doesn’t have to. She spends her days watching television, and often with her imaginary crocheting…which isn’t so different than when she was at home, except that she really did crochet then. Still, she thinks she is, and that makes her happy.
Speaking of happiness, there is one other thing that Alzheimer’s stole from her…grief. She has lost her parents, a daughter, and her husband, but to her, they are in the other room, at Walmart, or at the neighbor’s house visiting. She never experiences sorrow. To me, that’s not a bad thing.
I know that none of us want to have Alzheimer’s Disease, or have a loved one who does, but in reality, at least in this case, there could be a good side to it. When you can live a life free of burdens, responsibilities, and sorrow, life could be considered good. As long as her needs are met, I’m ok with it. It is my wish for her to be happy for the rest of her days. And if she’s happy…I’m happy. Today is my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday. Happy birthday Mom!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It seems impossible that I have been a grandmother for twenty years now, but with this birthday, my first grandchild, Christopher Petersen turns twenty. We were so excited about his impending birth…and then he was here. Like his mother, he had arrived on his great grandmother’s birthday. There was excitement all around. As Christopher grew, we were treated to his smiling face, his cute little animal sounds, and his antics. He loved throwing all the clothes out of the clothes basket, and climbing in instead. Every time he did something new, he was so pleased with himself. Chris loved being the funny man. Still, as much as Chris liked the funny side of life, I can also tell you that Chris is a young man of deep feelings too. He is sensitive to the needs of other people, and he hates hurting anyone’s feelings.
Chris is very close to his parents, Corrie and Kevin Petersen, and his brother, Josh. Leaving home for college, while a great experience, has been hard of Chris too. He reminds me a lot of myself in that way, because I like living in the same place as my family. I know that doesn’t work out for everyone, but for me, and for Chris…we really wish it would. I can see Chris coming home after college, and opening his own restaurant. It has been a dream of his for some time now. College, for Chris, has been a means to an end. It remains to be seen, what kind of cuisine Chris will choose, but I think he has some ideas in mind, and he is a great chef!!
For Chris, there is no greater hobby than working on cars…especially hot cars. I think he gets that from his dad and both grandpas. Chris has a Camaro that he loves to work on, and whenever he is home from school, he, his brother, Josh, and their dad can be found out in the garage or in the front driveway working on their respective cars or trucks. It’s a great way for them to bond…and to have great cars too.
With all that the guys do together, they still don’t forget about the one female in the family, my daughter, Corrie. I would love to say that they treat her like a princess, and really they do, but she has to be the most picked on princess ever, because they all love to tease her. That is something the boys learned from their dad, Kevin. They can tell you a story with a straight face, and make you believe it…or at least wonder. That is one of their best talents, and Chris is one of the best kidders. Today is Chris’ 20th birthday. I can’t believe it. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I have always been one to read the obituaries in the paper. Sometimes, I find that the deceased is someone I know, or that their family is someone that I know. I suppose many people might think it odd that I read the obituaries, but in searching my family tree, I find that they can be a wealth of information into the life of that person. I have been able to clarify children’s names, parents names, and siblings names, just by looking at the obituaries of my ancestors. I have also found out for sure, who their parents and even grandparents were by reading their obituaries. Things like place of birth, and early childhood years and locations are listed there, as well as, careers, hobbies, club memberships, and homestead information, along with place of birth and death, and even burial. It is clearly a wealth of information that, to the genealogist, is pure gold, because so often, information was not well kept. Names were left off, dates, and even who the person was related to. It makes it very difficult to search.
In the case of my 2nd great aunt, Theresa “Tessie” Elizabeth Spencer Davis, I found a wealth of information in her obituary, when I came across it in my Uncle Bill Spencer’s family history information. She was born, the seventh child of my 3rd great grandparents, Allen and Lydia Spencer, on October 8, 1864, in Brooklyn, Iowa. Her parents had a family of nine children in total. She married William Jonathan Davis on September 29, 1883, in Webster City, Iowa, and in 1888, She and her family became pioneers, when they moved out west to Nebraska. They first moved to Crookston, later to For Robinson, and in 1892, the homesteaded in Pine Creek, where they lived until their retirement, at which time they moved into Rushville, having given the homestead to their children. William preceded Tessie in death in 1925…so many losses to endure.
Life was never easy for Tessie. she lost siblings, as well as, seven of her eleven children before her own death…many of them young. She was the last of her siblings to pass away, and she outlived her husband by almost twenty years. The obituaries of the past listed even more information. Tessie was Methodist, and she belonged to the American Legion Auxiliary. She also belonged to a group called Royal Neighbors…she was a charter member. And she was a Gold Star Mother, but I’m not sure what that was for sure. The thing that stuck out for me the most, however, was that Tessie was a pioneer. The writer of the obituary said that, “In her passing, another pioneer has gone to the great beyond having courageously and triumphantly overcome the hardships, privations, and trials of the early settler that has made it possible for this generation to live the more modern life such as was not known to the pioneer. She was generous and hospitable, never thinking of herself, but often going out of her way to help a friend.” With everything that I learned about my 2nd great aunt, those words were by far the most amazing. They told of who she really was…deep inside. And Tessie Spencer Davis was simply an amazing woman.
When I think of my grandmother, Harriet “Hattie” Byer, the person that comes to mind is Grandma as she was in my adult years. f course, by that time, she was a great grandmother many times over, and so had aged into the kind of grandma you always see on television…gray hair and somewhat wrinkled. In reality, it is television’s view of what a grandmother should look like that is warped in many cases…odd since they try very hard to make everyone else forever ageless. It’s not that I don’t remember the Grandma of my youth, it’s just that I really don’t think of her that way. That wasn’t what she was like as she aged, and I was at an age to place a specific memory of her in my memory files. Nevertheless, when it came to being the boss, the kidder, or the disciplinarian, all I can say is, don’t let her looks or her small stature fool you, because Grandma was in charge, and that’s all there is to it. Just ask anyone of her kids, grandkids, or great grandkids, who might have had the misfortune of cross her. Most of us were done crossing Grandma, but there were some who were brave enough to try again…if you call that bravery. There might be a different word for it, in reality.
When I was little, my family lived in Superior, Wisconsin. That made it hard for her to see my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me when we were little. Grandma and Grandpa did make trips up to see us, and really loved it. Mom and Dad showed them around the area, and they spent time with us too. I don’t remember those visits, but my guess is that my sister, Cheryl does, because she was a couple of years older than I was. I love looking at the pictures of those visits with my grandparents. They are precious to me now, because of course, my parents, Grandpa, and Grandma are in Heaven now. Looking back at those moments by the lake, at the house, and on trips we took, are such wonderful memories.
We moved back to Casper before I turned three, and then we had chances to see them more often. I remember those many visits to their house so well. I can’t say I was one of those kids who learned from her mistakes, but I don’t remember very many times that I was on the wrong side of Grandma. You might call me chicken…and you would be right…either that, or smart. When Grandma spanked, it hurt. Thankfully I outgrew those days, and in the end, I remember my sweet grandma as a little old lady with gray hair. Nevertheless, she was mine, and my sisters and cousins…and we loved her. Today would have been Grandma Byer’s 107th birthday, if she were still with us. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.
We’ve all done it…jumping on the bed, I mean. I think that it’s instinct to a degree. Kids just naturally go from those timid little baby steps, to running, and on to jumping. In fact I think that so many people have a trampolines, because it could go a long way toward saving the mattress on the bed. It’s pretty hard for kids to resist jumping on the bed, because once they get going, and they get to giggling…it even gets hard for parents to get upset about it.
Of course, as we all know, whether it is a trampoline or the bed, jumping can become dangerous. Countless numbers of kids, myself included, have ended up falling off of that bed. Thankfully, I wasn’t hurt…at least not beyond a few bumps and bruises, but there have been kids who go hurt much worse that that. You can tell a kid that it’s dangerous to be jumping on the bed, but that doesn’t mean that the temptation isn’t more that they can resist. It goes back to the same old thing…it won’t happen to me. I won’t fall off…wrong!! You will, and it still probably won’t stop you.
I don’t think that most parents take pictures of their children misbehaving, so most people don’t have many pictures of them jumping on the bed. Pictures on the trampoline are totally another thing, however. Those are fun activities, rather than misbehaving. For that reason, there are often pictures on a trampoline. And don’t get the idea that kids are the only ones jumping on the trampoline or the bed for that matter, because they aren’t. Even parents and other adults have been guilty of it. My own mother did it once to make a point, but it backfired a bit, when the bed broke. When the bed was broken, she said…in stunned disbelief, “Well, now it’s broken!!” The grandchildren that she had been chewing out, somehow didn’t see the situation as believable, but rather hilarious…not that they necessarily laughed at the time. Nevertheless, it was very funny. Grandma jumping on and breaking the bed. Now that’s simply priceless!!
My grand niece, Christina Masterson, is leaving her teenaged years behind her today, and moving into her twenties. Like most of us who have been there and done that, she looks back on her childhood with mixed emotions. Most of us can’t believe the crazy, immature, or just plain stupid things we did as kids. Then we just have to chock it all up to being a child, and move forward with our lives. Christina wasn’t always sure what she wanted to be when she grew up, which is also not uncommon for kids, but now she has settled on becoming a dental hygienist, and while that is down the road a little way for her, she is doing the things necessary to launch her dream career.
I don’t know if Christina has decided where she will go to college, but there’s still time to decide that. The biggest hurdle to cross when working on your education, is money. So Christina is currently working as a hostess at Macaroni Grill in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She has been there a while now, so they are getting ready to move her up to server, which is of course, more responsibility and more money. That makes this move very appealing. As we all know, a good server can make pretty good money in tips every day, and it doesn’t take too much effort to check on your tables often to make sure they have everything they need. People reward that attention well.
I find it hard to believe that Christina is twenty now. She was born the first of three babies in our family that year…followed by my grandson Christopher Petersen on February 28th and my granddaughter, and best friend of Christina, Shai Royce of February 29th. It was a whirlwind of babies. Back then it seemed like they would always be little, and yet here we are with the first of three turning twenty, and the others soon to follow. Christina is turning into a first class adult, with her whole life ahead of her. That is a great reason to smile, and now with her new career plans in the works, she can help others have a great smile too. Today is Christina’s 20th birthday. Happy birthday Christina!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My husband, Bob and his brother, Ron Schulenberg have been good friends since Ron was born. The fourteen years between them made no real difference at all. Maybe Bob was just excited to have a brother…finally, after having four sisters. Bob took Ron places with him and they really had a lot of fun. That continued after Bob and I began dating, and it was a realy good deal, since it meant that Ron got to go cool places like A & W, for Rootbeer Floats. Of ccourse, going places wasn’t the only reason they were friends, but when Ron was little, it was a big part of it.
These days, Ron and Bob have a different reason to be good friends, besides the fact that they are brothers. They have teamwork. Both of them are mechanics, and when they are working on a vehicle, sometimes assistance is needed. It is just a part of the mechanics game. They each have tools, but often share them, because it makes no sense to buy a tool when your brother has one already. They have always shared a love of vehicles and mechanics, as have most of the men in the Schulenberg family. In fact, the teamwork the Schulenberg men have includes all of them. If one needs help with something, be it mechanics, or cutting wood, the others are right there to help. They know that they can count on each other.
Ron served in the Army for three years, and then was called back to participate in Desert Storm. His formal training in diesel mechanics came from his GI Bill benefits. It was a great way for him to go to college, but I’m sure he would rather not have had to fight in a war. Nevertheless, it was necessary, so he did it. We all missed him very much. No one wants a loved one to have to go to war. You worry about them every day. And that’s what we did. We worried and prayed the whole time he was gone, and rejoiced when he came back home and the war was over. We were also very proud of his service. Being a Veteran is something to be proud of, and being a part of a team is something else to be proud of. I don’t know what Bob would do without him sometimes. I am very thankful for the many times Ron has helped Bob with a project, and I know that Ron is thankful for Bob’s help too. They do make a wonderful team. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday Ron!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My sister-in-law, Debbie Schulenberg Cook, is a woman of many talents. Over the years she has made clothing for her girls, Machelle Cook Moore and Susan Cook Griffith, including Machelle’s wedding dress. She made lots of other clothes for them through the years too. One thing that I never really had the patience for, was sewing, but Debbie was quite good at it. She sewed most of her own clothes too. I always thought it would be nice to be able to do that, but it just wasn’t going to be something I would master, and my shoulders just couldn’t stand the aching I got when I sewed, so it was what it was.
Debbie took up cross stitch, and made many pretty things to give away and sell at the craft fairs that she, my sister-in-law, Brenda, and my parents-in-law used to participate in. Now cross stitch was something I could sink my teeth into, but I didn’t ever get involved in the craft fairs, because by then, Bob and I were bowling seven days a week…fanatical, absolutely. Nevertheless, they all did pretty well with the craft fairs, and very much anticipated each one with joy. I know that the people who bought the items they sold were very pleased with them, but I think the gifts she made especially for one family member or another were the very best, because of all the love that went into them. Something that is made with love is always a keepsake.
After her dad’s passing, almost three years ago, and after we had to place her mother in a nursing home due to Alzheimer’s Disease, we decided to take the clothes that didn’t go to the nursing home, and any material he mom had left, and make quilts for everyone. Debbie single handedly took on the task of making quilts for the grandchildren. It was a huge undertaking, because there are eight grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. Debbie did a wonderful job on those quilts, and they are something the grandchildren and great grandchildren will treasure forever, because the are from their grandparents clothing, and made with love for them by Debbie. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As the first year without our mother, comes to a close, I find myself with mixed feelings. I miss my mother so much, but I know where she is, and that makes is a little easier. That doesn’t, however, make the sting of missing her go away. It’s hard to live on this Earth without your parents. Oh, I know it is something most people go through at one time or another in their lives, but no one really knows exactly how that feels until they have been through it. I know I didn’t. There are times when the sadness fills my soul so much that I cannot hold back the tears.
At other times, I think back on the things our parents taught us. There are so many life lessons…their teachings that made us the people we are today. My mother was the sunny one. She hated having her family sad or even grouchy. If someone was grouchy, she would often start singing, Keep On The Sunny Side. That song always held a special place for all of us. My mom really was the keeper of the sunshine in our house. She loved to laugh and sing, and many was the morning that we woke up to the nursery song, Good Morning. Mom sang often. I think that went back to her childhood years. When her mother and siblings were working around the house, they always held sing-alongs. The way we grow up has a lot to do with the way we run our own homes…and Mom grew up around songs and team work. We grew up doing chores, and we never felt like there was something wrong with that. I can’t say that we always wanted to do our chores, but we knew there was a good reason to share the chores. Probably the main one being to stay out of trouble.
My mom knew a lot of songs. They filled her heart. Some of her favorites were hymns, because God was always first and foremost in her life. Like many of us in the family, the songs we sang in church on Sunday morning tended to stick in our heads throughout the week. I find myself singing them all through the week. Mom had some particular favorites too. She liked In The Garden, Jesus Loves Me, How Great Thou Art, and What A Friend We Have In Jesus. She sang these songs often, and when she did, she always felt like she was closer to God. Of course, Mom was always walking with God. If she wasn’t reading her Bible, she was reading books by her favorite Evangelists or listening to teaching tapes and videos. Mom knew that Heaven was her home, and when she got ready, and she was satisfied with the things she had done in her life, she made the decision to go home. I know there are those who won’t understand that, but my mom was not sick in any way…she just decided to go home to be with her Lord. That was one year ago today, and while we miss her terribly, we know that she is home, and that’s where she really wants to be. We love you Mom. And we can’t wait to see you and Dad again.