Monthly Archives: May 2016
Being a big, muscular kid can have its advantages. You can be pretty sure no one is going to pick on you. That is the case with my grand nephew, Xander Spethman. Xander takes after his dad, Steve Spethman in many ways. He is very much built like his dad, and in so many ways, he has the same values, personality, and strong sense of right and wrong that his dad has…of course, he also gets that from his mom, my niece, Jenny Spethman. While they were the ones that trained Xander up in the way he should go, in reality, Xander already had within himself that protective instinct.
Xander is particularly protective of his little sister, Aleesia, as are her other brothers, Zack and Isaac. They know about loss, having lost their other sister, Laila, and Xander, being the oldest, felt the sting of that loss deeply. Then God blessed this family with a second daughter, Aleesia, and the brothers have basically made her the princess. She rules the roost, and the brothers are just fine with that. One day a short time ago, they all decided to play football in the yard. Aleesia wanted to play too, so it was Xander and Aleesia against Zack and Isaac. Aleesia was basically made the quarterback, and Xander blocked his brothers so they couldn’t get to her. I’m sure you all know that Zack and Isaac were fully aware of the plan too, because they could have tackled Aleesia a couple of times. They just wouldn’t, because she is the princess, and that just isn’t done. Nevertheless, even in play, Xander is the protector of his little sister, and I’m sure that you all know that if anyone really tried to pick on his little sister, Xander would turn into a roaring lion, and they would wish they had never dared to bother Aleesia.
Xander is a champion of protection for those around him who do not have his strength and size. He doesn’t like to see anyone picked on, and he has stood up for someone being bullied more than once. Often, it is the bigger kids who tend to be the bullies, but not in Xander’s case. He is the protector of those who need protection. He would never have it in his heart to bully anyone, because inside that big kid lives a tender, loving, and very kind heart. It really is such a blessing to see how Xander has matured as the years have passed. He never was a bully, but he has become more and more the guy that everyone knows they can count on for anything. Today is Xander’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I went to a funeral a couple of days ago, and as I took my seat, a woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me, “Are you Collene?” I was taken totally by surprise…for two reasons really. The first was that if this woman knew my mom, Collene Byer Spencer, wouldn’t she know that I was not old enough to be her, and secondly, I was surprised because I have never thought that I looked like my mom, but rather my dad, or more exactly, my dad’s sister, Ruth Spencer Wolfe. My first reaction was to get clarification. I turned to her in surprise and said, “Excuse me?” Again, she asked me if I was Collene. I said, “No, I am her daughter.” I was still trying to clarify, and so I asked if she meant Collene Spencer. She said yes, that was indeed who she meant. It was one of those “ton of bricks” moments, and I certainly felt like I had been hit with each brick in that ton. I did not recognize the woman, and since Mom has been in Heaven for over a year now, I knew that this woman couldn’t have seen Mom in a very long time either…and yet Mom was not forgotten.
We spoke for a few minutes, during which time she told me that she was Joyce Heid, the daughter of a long time friend of the family. We talked about our parents…all of them in Heaven now. She knew that my dad had passed away, but not about my mom’s passing, which she was surprised to hear about. We talked about how the families were doing, and about the closeness of our parents, and then the funeral was about to start so we couldn’t visit any longer. My mind kept drifting back to our conversation, and wondering what she saw in my face that reminded her of my mom. It isn’t the first time that someone has connected me to my family due to the strong family resemblance, but apparently it is something that I will never get used to. It’s just so strange to me, because what they see in me is not something I can see. I have been told that I look like my aunt, my dad, my daughter, my granddaughter, my sister, just recently another sister…and now, my mom. Looking like my daughter, Amy Royce and my granddaughter, Shai Royce weren’t as surprising as some of the others, but I think my mom was the most surprising. I simply don’t see it.
The incident has been on my mind since it first happened…as has my mom. I keep looking back in my memory files to pull up pictures and moments in life when I might have looked my mom, but try as I might, I just don’t see it. Life takes many twists and turns, and yet somehow it seems that it always tends to come back to where it began. Our parents may be in Heaven now, but their echo still remains in the hearts of their loved ones, in pictures, in their house, in moments and holidays, and even in the memories of their friends. While every “ton of bricks” moment is hard at the time, it leaves behind a sweet memory of the loved one that our hears miss so much. Mom, whether I look like you are not, and I must in some way, it was such a sweet moment to have someone from your past keeping you in their memory files too. You are always remembered. I love you and miss you more than words can ever say.
The high school years are hard on everyone, but sometimes I think that the girls have the rougher time. With girls, every break-up…every friendship ended…every sad moment, feels like the end of the world. As girls get older, they try not to go to their parents with every little thing, but somehow it seems like the things they should go to their parents about, are the things they don’t. Such was the case with my grand niece, Christina Masterson. One day, after school…with the break-up with the first real boyfriend she had, fresh on her mind, Christina came in and sat down on the couch. Her dad, my nephew, Rob Masterson took one look at his oldest daughter, and asked, “What’s wrong?” Christina tried not to go into detail, but told her dad that she and her boyfriend had broken up. Rob sat down beside her and said, “You will always deserve better, no matter who you are with.” Basically, he told Christina two things that day. The first, that in his eyes, no man would ever be good enough for her, which Christina has always felt she needed to hear at that moment. The second, that he would always be there for her.
I think that is Rob’s motto in many ways and with all of the people he loves. I’ll always be there for you. It is a motto that he has applied to a number of people in Rob’s life. His younger three children are not at the “high school break-up stage” yet, but with the little issues they have dealt with so far, that is the same message Rob has conveyed to them. “You can always come to me…with anything. I’ll always be there for you.”
My sister, Cheryl Masterson, and Rob’s sisters, Chantel, Toni, Elizabeth, and Jenny, as well as their grown children, all know that if they need Rob’s help with something, he will do his best to help in any way he can. He has been the one to mow Cheryl’s lawn for a number of years now, and his siblings look to him when they are going to buy a car, or need something done on a car, because often he can help them out with it. I think that since my sister has been divorced for many years, Rob has stepped up to be the man of the family. He may not be able to do everything they need done, in every situation, but they know that he will always be there for them. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I wrote a story back in May of 2011, about my sister Caryl Spencer Reed, who is so ticklish that we used to torture her unmercifully over the years of her young life. That story has by far received the most comments of any story I have written. Apparently it doesn’t matter if you are the one tickling, the one being tickled, or the one wishing you could be the one tickling, everyone has an opinion on tickling. Of course, my sisters and I didn’t really have to think about that, because we had the perfect victim right there in our house, and she had nowhere to go. She was trapped.
The years have flown by now, and my sisters and I have matured to the point where we don’t torture her anymore, although, we might…if the opportunity presented itself. Nevertheless, it hasn’t in many years. Caryl went on to become a respiratory therapist, and it really never occurred to me before, but I wonder if the reason is that during those torture sessions, she felt like she needed oxygen. I guess knowing that you are being tickled to the point that you can’t breathe, might make you consider oxygen…the very moment that you are finally released…if you live long enough to be released, that is. After all, we did call it the Tickle Trture, and we meant that torture part, for sure.
Many people have been helped by the skills Caryl has, and I know that the hospital she works at in Rawlins, Wyoming is grateful that they have her. In fact, in the last few months, she has been their only respiratory therapist, and that is bad, because she can’t work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but she is on call…all the time. That has been a struggle, because Caryl and her husband, Mike have been working on a ranch they bought here in Casper to retire on and raise horses. She has had to be available by phone to walk people through proceedures that she has trained them on, but that are not a part of their formal training. Nevertheless, it is working…for now, and I know they are working to replace some of the other respiratory therapists, so in the future, things will get easier. For now, Caryl is their Go To Girl, and they are well aware of what a perfect gem they have been blessed with. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Being one of a set of twins, my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens always had a little bit of help in the trouble department. Now, I don’t say that Mike or his twin brother, Pat were delinquents or anything, but they were pretty good at pulling pranks…especially as teenagers. I’m told there was a time when they decided to take a fire extinguisher from the hosital. I’m not sure how they managed to get out of the hospital with a fire extinguisher, but somehow they did…I mean who just lets a couple of teenaged boys walk out of the hospital with a fire extinguisher? Seriously!! You know they are up to no good, and…they were planning nothing but trouble for sure. So, after sneaking out of the hospital with the fire extinguisher, the two boys jumped in their car, and drove around town, squirting people with the fire extinguisher!! I don’t know about you, but I can say that it would be quite a shock to be walking down the street, minding my own business, and suddenly out of nowhere, I am hit with the spray of a fire extinguisher. It’s like having a pie thrown in your face. Total shock!! And then to have two teenaged boys drive off laughing…well I’m sure the police were running all over town trying to find them…to no avail.
Mike, and his brother, Pat, for that matter, are a couple of characters, and I’m quite sure that their mother had her hands full trying to keep them in line. Mike is the kind of guy who likes to have fun and he loves to play jokes on people. Nevertheless, I suppose there is always the possibility of having a joke backfire. One day, he came into the house with a nail in his foot, and it was gushing blood. He told my sister, Alena that she had to pull it out. She was totally freaking out about this whole thing, but she did pull it out. Then, she decided that this whole thing wasn’t funny at all. You see, it was April Fools Day, and the “nail” was only attached to his sock. The sock was full of Ketchup, and that was the crowning touch on this great prank. Now, I can’t say if Mike walked away with a black eye on that one, but I’m sure that she told him how she felt about the whole thing…in the midst of her laughter, that is. Yes, Alena thought it was not a nice prank to pull on her, but it was, nevertheless…a really good prank.
I think life in the Stevens household is probably a bit unpredictible, because in addition to Mike and Alena, there were three children, Michelle, Garrett, and Lacey, who were all groomed by their dad to be pretty good in the trouble department too, thanks to their dad…not that Alena didn’t help with that too. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When I first met Katy Balcerzak, my niece, Chantel’s step daughter, she was just a little girl. I remember thinking what a great dad her dad, Dave is. Katy and her older brother Kiefer were such good little kids. When a blended family first meets the rest of the family, sometimes things don’t go as well and everyone had hoped, but that was not the case with Dave and his kids. They were very sweet and we loved them immediately. That has been a number of years, of course, and the kids are grown up now. Keifer is married, and Katy is engaged. I have a really hard time believing that they are so grown up. As with all kids, the years have flown by so quickly.
These days, Katy is a nanny, but that is only temporary, because Katy has been accepted into the two year nursing program at Casper College. Things are changing quite rapidly for Katy now. With her wedding coming up this summer, and her studies lined out, everything is looking toward a great future. I think Katy will make an awesome nurse. She has a winning smile, and the ability to add a positive note to any situation…and isn’t that exactly what is needed when you are in a doctor’s office, or a hospital. Whenever you go to see a doctor, you are worried that they are going to tell you something is really wrong. A nurse with a positive attitude and a comforting way about her, can go a long ways toward making you feel at ease. Of course, not all the news is good news, and when a nurse is needed to give care in the hospital, everyone wants one whose smile can make you feel better. I don’t know what type of nursing Katy plans to go into, and maybe she doesn’t either, yet. I have found that many nurses start out in one area of nursing, but later change to another. Time will tell what area of nursing will become Katy’s chosen field, but I’m sure that she will be great at any area of nursing she chooses.
It’s just so strange to think Dave’s little girl is all grown up, and is going to be a nurse. The years have changed her in so many ways, and yet, in other ways, she is still her daddy’s little girl. Before we all know it, she and her future husband, Jake Collett will be starting a family of their own, but…that’s another story. Today is Katy’s birthday. Happy birthday Katy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As a teenager, riding the strip in the evenings of the early 1970s, a favorite place to stop was A & W. The food there was great, but the Root Beer Floats were fantastic. In fact, A & W was famous for their Root Beer Floats. My husband, Bob and I used to go there often, and it was a favorite of his little brother Ron’s too. It never occurred to me in those days, just where Root Beer came from, or who invented it. I didn’t really care. I just knew I liked it, and even though I no longer drink pop, I do like an occasional Root Beer Float.
But…where did Root Beer come from? Well, on this day, May 16, 1866, Charles Elmer Hires first came out with an early version of commercially prepared root beer. Hires was a Quaker pharmacist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania…his version of Root Beer became famous. I’m sure you’ve heard of Hires Root Beer. It was named after Charles Hires, but it was not the Root Beer that I grew up loving. Maybe that is because, as far as I know, A & W Root Beer was the first make a Root Beer Float. Of course, I could be wrong too.
In the days of Hires’ childhood, children were allowed to work, and at age twelve he had a job as a drugstore boy. Then at age sixteen he moved to Philadelphia and worked in a Pharmacy. He saved his money and when he had earned about $400, he started his own drugstore. Things were different then, and that was possible for a young man to do, o he did it. Nevertheless, he had that entrepreneurial spirit, and maybe that is why he was able to come up with something new.
There are those who say that he learned about root beer on his honeymoon in New Jersey, where the woman who ran the hotel served a herb tea known as “root tea” made from assorted roots. It is said that Hires thought that “root beer” would be more appealing to the working class. He originally packaged the mixture in boxes and sold it to housewives and proprietors of soda fountains. They needed to mix in water, sugar, and yeast. I suppose that after a while that got to be too much work, and eventually it came processed and in bottles. The funny this is that Root Beer was slow to catch on until Reverend Dr Russell Conwell told Hires to present the drink as “the temperance drink” and the greatest health-giving beverage in the world.” Hires was active in the temperance movement, and some say that he wanted root beer to be an alternative to alcohol. I can’t say that he was successful in that respect, because I don’t know anyone who would drink Root Beer instead of beer, unless they already didn’t drink.
Having your child at work is not a new idea really. Many people have made arrangements with their boss, so that they could bring their little ones to work with them…at least until they are old enough to go to school full time. Sometimes, I think that every mom should be able to bring their baby to work while they are little. Daycare is expensive, and often makes it almost impossible for the mom to work outside the home, because they end up paying more for daycare than they earn…totally not worth it. I didn’t work when my girls were little, but when my daughters had children, they did work. While I didn’t have my grandchildren at my office all day, there were times when they did come to my office…times when they were not feeling well, were the main times. They couldn’t stay home alone, and yet their parents had to work. I was blessed in that I had a boss who allowed me to bring them to the office and let them sleep there. It made all the difference for my daughters.
Years ago, however, having the kids around was much more common. My grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer, ran a hotel when my Aunt Laura and Uncle Bill were little. Of course, the family lived at the hotel, so the kids were always at work with their mom. Grandpa worked somewhere else, so Grandma was in charge of the hotel. I’m not sure where the bakery came in, but I do know that the patrons of the bakery would not have been surprised to see the little ones in the bakery when they came in to make a purchase. I think that it was common to the times, and maybe something that we all could take a lesson from. Life was about the family. Nothing was more important than that. The parents were involved with the kids, and the family ate their meals together, and spent time together. The parents were role models for the kids, and the television was not the place that they got all of their information. No, it wasn’t perfect, but maybe it was just a little bit more family oriented.
A little boy I once knew, who is no longer little, is graduating from college today. How can it be? The years have literally flown by. He was the child who first made me a grandmother. My little Christopher Todd Petersen, who arrived on his great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday, changed my world…adding such a wonderful new dimension to it. My heart was filled with joy.
Chris had such a cute smile, and he made the cutest faces. He soon wowed us with his ability to make all the animal sounds on demand, and made us laugh as he emptied out any box or basket of its contents so he could climb in a sit a while. He was all boy…and the culture shock I had never experienced before, because I had daughters…well, believe me when I say, “Boys are very different from girls!!” I don’t mean just physically, but in every aspect of their being, from the physical…to their personalities. Nevertheless, having three grandsons and one granddaughter has been one of the most rewarding parts of my life, a blessing beyond words.
Fast forward now, a little over twenty years, and suddenly that little boy is graduating from college. His dream is to own his own restaurant, and who knows, maybe even a chain of them. He is graduating as one of the top of his class from the Culinary School at Sheridan College. Even that seems like it flew by. Literally, it seems like yesterday that he headed off to college, calling home often to tell everyone just how homesick he was, and now he emerges…a man, with a degree. He is a chef…not a cook…a chef, with all the respect that goes along with that title. He has made good friends in Sheridan, and for now, has decided to stay there to live and work in a fine dining restaurant called Open Range which is located in the historic Sheridan Inn. Chris loves working there and tells us his coworkers are great.
He is living his dream. He has been very blessed to be able to work in such a restaurant before his degree work is even complete, and today Open Range becomes very blessed to have a chef working for them who has earned his degree, and brings with him the prestige that his degree carries with it. With his skill level and attention to detail, Chris will be bringing with him a level of recognition that Open Range can be proud of. It is a win-win situation for both of them. Chris has really taken to the style of creativity that is vital to fine dining, and he will be showing that great skill level to the people who live in and visit Sheridan in the future. Congratulations Chris!! Your hard work has paid off. We, your family and friends are so very proud of all your accomplishments. We wish you God’s very best in all your future endeavors!! We love you very much!!
I remember my niece, Andrea Beach as a little girl, trying so hard to be the good big sister to her little brother, Allen. She always had a way of being motherly to Allen. Sometimes, the oldest child has a tendency to feel like they need to be the protector of the younger children. That seems to be the case in situations where both parents work, I think. It’s like having the older child babysit. It puts them in charge, and so whenever their parents are gone, they feel like they have to be in charge of the younger children. When I think about it, maybe that is just instinctual, because Andrea was protective of her brother before she was ever old enough to babysit him.
Now, Allen might have a little bit different story to tell, and we can see what he has to say about it, because I think it’s entirely possible that he viewed her protectiveness as bossiness, and he wouldn’t be the first little brother to do so either. Most of the younger siblings have a tendency to say something like, “You’re not the boss of me!!” In that matter, Allen was no different than any of those other younger child. Like most kids, he didn’t like to have anyone bossing him around, least of all, his big sister. Nevertheless, most of the time, the two of them got along pretty well. That could have been due to the fact that they lived far away from the rest of the family, so for some time, their main friend was their sibling…unlike the family that all lived here and ws raised around cousins. Of course, these days, Andrea is the boss…to her son Topher anyway. But then again, they are really best friends too.
Living so far away was really a sourse of sadness for Andrea, who often wished that she lived closer so that she could have known the cousins better, but since her dad, Warren Beach was in the Navy, that was not to be. They did come to have extended visits with us here, when Warren was out to sea, and then Andrea delighted in getting to know everyone, and spending time with her grandparents. She especially loved pretending to be her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer. He had a hard hat that he wore to work, and she decided that if Grandpa wore it…well, it must be cool, so she wore it too. I think it was her way of feeling closer to her grandpa. She sometimes had to improvize to make her own memories for later. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!