Monthly Archives: June 2016

Corrie and Grandma Knox 10002I can’t let my daughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen’s birthday go by without thinking of the other family birthday that is on this day…Corrie’s great grandmother, Nettie Knox. The day Corrie was born my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg, brought her mother in to see the baby. The first thing grandma said was that Corrie had been born on her birthday. She was so excited that her very first great grandchild had been given as a birthday gift to her. And a gift it was, to both of them. A gift that had the ability to transcend time and great distance.

Grandma Knox and CorrieSharing a birthday with her great grandmother built an unbreakable bond between Corrie and Grandma Knox. They shared each and every birthday from Corrie’s birth in 1975 to Grandma’s passing on July 29, 1990, just one month after Corrie’s 15th birthday. Not a birthday goes by now, that Corrie doesn’t think of her great grandmother, and the bond that they will always share. Even though her great grandmother is in Heaven now, the bond is as real as it ever was. Grandma Knox lives always in Corrie’s heart as her great grandmother and her birthday buddy, and that is a special thing that just doesn’t happen everyday. It is a special thing only for a select few who happen to be blessed enough to be born a birthday gift to their great grandmother.

Corrie - nowIMG_2962It’s hard for me to believe that Bob and I became parents for the first time 41 years ago today. At 7:10am, our precious little girl, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen arrived in this world. When they handed her to me I was in awe. Here she was…our perfect little baby, and she was ours…forever. How could that have been have been 41 years ago, when it feels like only yesterday?

Over the course of the last 41 years, much has changed. Corrie is the mother of a college graduate and a high school senior. She has been at her current place of employment for over 20 years, and they would be in quite a pickle without her capable handling of her duties. Corrie also runs a business from home as a virtual assistant and ghost writer. For those of you who have never heard of such things, like I was, a virtual assistant does all of the things that an office assistant does, but from their home. Corrie has had clients all over the United States. A ghost writer, is an author who writes for someone else. The credit goes to the person who hired her to write the book or article. Corrie is a great ghost writer, but I think she should also consider writing her own book…because she could do it.

When I think of Corrie, the mom…the picture that comes to my mind is of Corrie in a cape with a big “S” on her shirt, because Corrie really has always been Super Mom! When her boys, Chris and Josh were little, she was very active in their school. She headed up the parent organization…what used to be the PTA, and now I believe it is POPI, but I could be wrong on that. She also made sure the boys got to play all the sports their little hearts desired. She kept up with their studies, so she could help when needed, or just to make sure they got everything done in time.

The years have changed many things now, and before long, Corrie and her husband, Kevin will be empty nesters. They already do many things without the boys, since they are working a lot of the time. Chris is 217997_1933024280848_2458511_nIMG_8303getting ready to get his own place, but they will have Josh at home a while…when he’s not working, anyway. Josh has decided to live at home while going to college, so that will delay the sting of his leaving. Empty nest or not, the future is looking bright for Corrie and her family, and while she will always be mom, she might have to retire her cape, because they don’t seem to need Super Mom much now, but Mom…well, they will always need her. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

11049518_10153434865744375_6157679234810072872_n1915199_10153821586879375_5784042149572805962_nResearching one’s family history can be rewarding in that you find out so much about your past, but it can also be rewarding in the present. Of course, I’m talking about connecting with family members that you never knew existed before. I am happy to say that my own family research has connected me with many cousins and other relatives in the years I have be searching. It would be impossible to list them all here, or at one time anyway, so I have to talk about different ones when I find something wonderful about them.

Today, because it’s her birthday, I began thinking about my second cousin once removed, Elizabeth Schumacher Nordquist. A few years ago when I stumbled upon the Schumacher side of my family, and we became friends, I began looking through all the relatives of my Schumacher cousins. It has opened up a whole new world for me. I wish I could spend time with all of them a lot, but distance prevents that, unfortunately. Nevertheless, Elizabeth is much like me in so many ways, and I feel a connection to her because of it. One of the things we are alike in, that has been such a blessing to me is the love of photography. Elizabeth is an excellent photographer, and when I look at her photos, I really feel like I am looking at the scene through her eyes. Not everyone has the ability to capture such amazing moments.

Her favorite subjects are her two beautiful daughters, Addi and Meadow, which is another way that we are alike, because I too have two daughters. She takes such amazing pictures of her girls, and when I look at them, and the fact that she has captured so much of who these girls are, I feel like I have known them all their lives, and yet, I have never met them. That is the mark of a great photographer…to bring out the essence of their subject. Of course, Elizabeth is also a pretty good storyteller. She has shared enough about her girls to where I can see their personalities in their faces when she photographs them. I suppose that is why their very essence comes out in the photographs, but all I can say is that for family who lives far away, she has given the gift of the ability to know her and her family even though we have never met in person.
12376479_10153797368429375_6312439742115764809_nAddi & Meadow
Elizabeth homeschools her girls, and that has been a blessing to the girls and to her sisters, Grace Oltman and Angel Pallas too, because Elizabeth has been able to babysit for them, and through that, I have been able to see pictures of Angel’s daughter, Hazel and Grace’s son, Hosea. Through Elizabeth’s eyes, and her photographic ability I have gained a connection to all of them. What an amazing gift Elizabeth has, and how very blessed I am to know her. Today is Elizabeth’s birthday. Happy birthday Elizabeth!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

12744046_1007366095996590_7429582353481087613_nApparently, I am a little bit behind the times, because these days people set up their own YouTube channel to record everything from the songs they sing, to the games they like to play, to their daily life. My grand nephew, Topher Spicer has a YouTube channel, and he is very serious about the things he puts on there. He doesn’t like to have his recordings messed up because someone walked into his room in the middle of things, so the biggest thing on his current wish list is a sign that says Recording In Process.

Topher’s favorite game is Mine Craft, and that really must be the game of choice for most kids, because it seems to be the game all my grand nieces and grand nephews play. I’m not into games, so I suppose I just don’t get the draw. Of course, that isn’t the only game he plays, because like most kids, Topher loves all things iPad. Now, I can’t blame him there, Topher's teambecause I am very tech serious, so all things iPad, iPhone, or computer are very cool. Keep it up Topher, you can go a long way in business with a technological mind.

Topher’s mom, my niece Andrea Beach, tells me that Topher is really showing all the signs of “teendom” and she kind of wishes he wouldn’t…especially in the area of his moods. I can relate to that, as can every parent. Nevertheless, like most mom’s she realizes that Topher will alwys be her little baby, and like most mom’s she will just have to hold onto that thought as he spreads his wings in new areas of life, because time waits for no man, and Topher, like all kids is growing up very quickly.

Topher loves to hang out at the Sinclair Recreation Center with family friends, Nikki Vigil and her son Marcus. Andrea & TopherThey go to the rec center three days a week. It’s always cool to go play and have some fun, and the rec center is a great hangout for kids. Topher really loves to play soccer too. He was on a team for the first time this year, and he has discovered that he is a very good defender. His team was the Sinclair Dinos. I’m sure he will continue to play, and of course, get better and better. He will be key player for his team, I’m sure. Topher likes all things boy, including comics, which is pretty typical, but he is also able to interact with people and animals alike. In fact, I have noticed that when he is at my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s house, her cat Lewie love sitting by Topher…and since he doesn’t like kids much…that’s amazing. Today is Topher’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Topher!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Helen_KellerAs a young girl, I read a book about Helen Keller. I became very interested in her life. She was truly inspirational to me. It wasn’t really about the fact that she was deaf, blind, and mute, but rather about how she overcame all of those obstacles to become a really great woman in history. Of course, the truth is that without another girl who was losing her own sight, Helen Keller might well have gone on with her life in the almost barbaric way she was being allowed to grow up. Helen’s family had no idea how to raise her. In fact, they had no idea what to do with her at all. She was completely out of control. She threw tantrums when she didn’t get her way. She ate off of everyone’s plates…completely destroying the meal that was on there until she found what she wanted, and then moving on to the next plate. I’m sure that there was never a peaceful meal in that house, much less a peaceful day. Every time Helen didn’t like how things were going, the screaming began, and the family cringed.

Helen KellerIt all started when she was a little baby. She had a very bad fever. They weren’t sure Helen would survive. Nevertheless, she did, but the damage was done. Before long they realized that she couldn’t hear, or see, and the few words she had learned soon left her, because she was locked inside herself. She was living in quiet darkness. The only things she knew were the smells of her family, food cooking, and her way around the house. Her parents felt sorry for her, so they gave her what she wanted. Soon all it took to make them give in, was a tantrum, but Helen was getting older, and she was out of control. In fact, when her younger sister was born, she dumped her out of a cradle that she wanted to use for her doll. Her parents decided that something had to be done, or she would have to be placed in a home for the mentally insane.

Helen Keller graduationIn a last ditch effort, they hired Annie Sullivan, who was a teacher and losing her sight too. She could teach, and she was stubborn. Both were things Helen needed desperately. It was no easy task, but really by trial and error, Annie developed a way to get things across to the girl. She used finger spelling into Helens hand. But she couldn’t talk to her, so she had to keep doing the same things until it finally clicked. On that amazing day, Helen’s real education could begin. It had been a long struggle, including fighting Helen’s family, but Annie won, and that meant Helen won. She went on to be a successful author and later a speaker. Helen learned the sounds by feeling Annie’s throat. She was truly an amazing woman. Today is the 136th anniversary of Helen Keller’s birth. She passed away on June 1, 1968.

Caalab Royce, Shai Royce, Joshua Petersen, Christopher PetersenimageYears ago, when my grandchildren were little, they went to the Boys and Girls Club as their after school daycare. At first, they went to a little west side branch of the Boys and Girls Club, until the larger club, that is now the only one in Casper, was built. The club was filled with things to keep the kids occupied and out of trouble after school. The main goal of the Boys and Girls Club is to prevent kids from being latchkey kids, who are home alone after school for several hours. It is well known that kids get in trouble when they have too much unsupervised time. At the time when my grandchildren were there, one of the projects was a very poignant correlation between the children and the future. The project featured handprints, including those of my four grandchildren. It was called the “The Hands That Hold The Future” and the kids were told it was going on display outside the Nicolaysen Art Museum.image

That was years ago, and long forgotten, because somehow it was never displayed at the Nic. The kids, especially my grandson, Chris Petersen, were disappointed, because they thought it would be cool to see their work there. Still, time blurs the disappointments we have sometimes, and the display faded into oblivion…until three of my grandkids, Chris, Shai Royce, and Josh Petersen were going to the movies. They stopped at the Loaf and Jug near Sunrise Shopping Center, and Chris was stunned to see the display there. Apparently it was placed there years ago. It was quite weathered.

While my oldest grandson, Chris was pretty young when they helped make the display, the memory came back to him. He told Shai and Josh about it, and Shai remembered it too. They even recalled which hands were theirs. Chris had wanted to be on top, and Josh was under his and to the left. Shai wanted to be next to her brother, Caalab Royce, and she remembered cutting off her fingers because of the crease at the joint of finger and hand. She also remembers being quite upset when told that she had done it wrong, and how the teacher imageimageput it together and on the display anyway. In a way, that uniqueness makes it stand out even more.

The sign has weathered a lot over the years of being there by the Loaf and Jug convenience store since about the early 2000s. The paint is peeling and some people might think it should be removed. I can honestly say that the hands of the children I know, that are on it, have grown into wonderful people. If most kids of that era turn out as well as my grandchildren, I can say that our future is in good hands.

CaalabIt’s so amazing to me that my little smiley grandson, Caalab Royce is all grown up. It seems like just yesterday that he was a little two year old boy who played with my hair every chance he got. He was full of life and energy. There was never a dull moment when Caalab was around. That is still the way he is today. Whether he is hiking, working out, or goofing off, Caalab is loving life. For some time now, Caalab has loved hiking and going for walks, and with his mostly evening shift at Red Robin, he has lots of time to walk the many trails that wind their way around Bellingham, Washington, where Caalab works. One of these days I will walk them with him, and I’m looking forward to it. We go for a visit in a few months.
Caalab playing his guitar
Caalab loves to joke around…always has. As a little kid, he could tell me jokes so well, that I thought he was reading them to me…until I remembered that he couldn’t read yet. That kid just knew the jokes. I suppose his dad, Travis, who is also a great joker, told him the joke, and little Caalab remembered it word for word. No forgotten punch lines for that kid…he knew those jokes cold. Caalab could easily become a comedian, but his real love is music. He began playing the guitar in middle school, and he has never lost interest. In fact, he wants to build his own guitar. He loves them so much, that his first tattoo was of his first guitar.

Caalab has always been a likeable guy…especially to the girls. Of course, he doesn’t think so. That’s because he Being Watcheddoesn’t always see the girls watching him. Nevertheless, they do. In fact, his sister, Shai Royce, has been told that some girl likes her boyfriend…after which she laughs and says, “She can have him…he’s my brother.” That usually brings a good laugh, because everyone thought that Shai and her brother, Caalab were boyfriend and girlfriend. Wow!! Were they ever off base. And the most amazing thing about the girls that like Caalab is that their are of varying ages. From older to younger. And most of the time, Caalab has no idea, because he’s not conceited. I can’t really blame them though. He is a cutie. I suppose I’m biased, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Today is Caalab’s 19th birthday. I wish I could be there. I miss you bunches. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Night CrossingballooninwestgermanyYears ago, I watched a movie called Night Crossing, which came out in 1982. The movie was based on a true story about two families trapped in East Germany in 1979. The only way they could be free was to escape to the west. Over the years during which Germany was divided, and basically locked down. At first the people felt panic. Many of them had family on the other side, and no way to get to them. It was horrible. Escape attempts while not constant, were met with severe repercussions. I’m sure many people thought that they would always be prisoners in East Germany. Since today marks, the 68th anniversary of the ill fated Soviet blockade of their section of Germany following World War II, I was reminded of the movie I had seen.

I was so surprised about the elaborate lengths the family had to go to, in order to buy the materials needed to make a hot air balloon, with out arousing suspicions. To buy enough of the silk for the balloon, they had to go to several different locations, and tell the clerks that they were building tents for a scout group to use to go camping. I couldn’t imagine having to lie to a store clerk in order to purchase material, but then I have never lived anywhere, but in a free society, where the individual person had the right to do pretty much what they pleased. That was something that some of the people of that time, in East Germany, had never known.

While the situation was traumatic, I found myself…somehow fascinated with the process, the planning, the forethought, and the tenacity of these families. I found myself rooting for them every step of the way. Rooting for them wasn’t the thing that surprised me, however. It really was how interested I was in all the strategizing, and yes, the danger of it all. I don’t suppose the event felt anything like that to them, however. For them, this was life and death, because if they were caught, they would be killed. They would have one chance to escape, The Wetzel familyStrelzyk familyand one chance only. And they still had to make the crossing, and the landing, without getting caught up in the barbed wire fencing, or landing on a fence somewhere. The whole event, while an exciting story for me, was probably an event that they could not wait to put behind them…and I don’t blame them there.

Laura_Ingalls_WilderBefore I began writing, I wondered how people…writers, became writers. How did they manage to come up with the material they wrote about? In the years that I have been writing, I have realized that the writers vary as much as the stories they write. Some write from experience, which is partly where I fit in, but I also like to write about events that catch my interest, and about people in my family that I have found something out about. That is very similar to my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren. In her writings, she believed that anyone could become famous, simply by writing about the people and times they lived in. She didn’t specify that they needed any formal training, and I don’t believe she thought they did. She believed that inside every person is a story. She is right, of course.

Laura Ingalls Wilder simply wrote the story of her life, and it became such a popular book that before long it Elizabeth Noyes 2 was a television show…all based on the writings of a little girl, who never knew if anyone would care about her stories, or maybe it didn’t matter, because maybe they were her stories, and it didn’t matter to her if anyone was interested or not. Somehow, I can’t believe that to be true. Maybe that is because I know how a writers mind works. Is a writer really a writer, if there are no readers. Writers thrive on readers who become interested in their writings.

My husband’s cousin, Elizabeth “Betty” Noyes is a wonderful writer, and the author of 3 books…the last of which will be out soon. She writes a series called “Imperfect.” Her stories are romantic suspense stories and they are filled with action. Sometimes I think that fiction is a much harder thing to write about, because you don’t have reality to draw on. Of course, when you think about it, most of us do not live the exciting kinds of lives that fictional characters do. Our lives are usually much more mundane, and that is the very reason that Bertha Schumacher Hallgrenexcellent books like those written by Elizabeth Noyes are so great to read. They have the ability to take us out of the everyday, into a world filled with action and excitement.

That’s really what it’s all about, you know. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, books take us outside ourselves. My Great Aunt Bertha quoted Charles Lamb, from an 1890 comment which stated, “I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.” See, that is really what it is all about. We like to read because it takes us into the mind of the writer. Their way of thinking, their imagination, and their viewpoint, are all different from ours, and the really cool thing is that we can go visit anytime we open the pages of a book. Its out ticket into the world inside a writers mind.

Dad's 1936 PlymouthDaddy's Little HelperFor most girls, their car is simply a way to get around, but for guys its very different. They have to fix their car up, soup it up, change things on it so that it looks hot. Of course, a big part of the draw for making their cars look hot was to have a chick magnet. Still that doesn’t explain why grown men…married men…happily married men, work on their cars to make them look hot. It really is simply a guy thing, and it doesn’t matter how old the guy is. Most men just don’t want to be out driving a beater. They have set standards for themselves, and it would be…well, totally humiliating if they were seen out driving a dorky car…for Pete’s sake. It isn’t just the young guys or the current generation that has to have the latest thing in cars either. It seems to be all guys, or at least the majority of them.

My dad had a number of cool cars. I suppose that the cars he had then would not be looked at as cool these days, but in his day they were pretty nice. I think it was harder to fix a car up back then too, because you couldn’t just go out and buy a pinstripe kit to make it look like a fancy, hot car. If they wanted that, they had to save up the money to get someone to paint those stripes on by hand. It doesn’t matter what they did to the cars back then, because if you put that car in todays world, the kids would probably not think it was very cool. Nevertheless, in my dad’s day, they were very sharp looking.
Chris' CamaroKevin 1
My husband, Bob loves some of those old cars. He still loves the hot cars, and the fancy paint job, but those old cars, with a fancy paint job…well those are cool. My son-in-law, Kevin Petersen and his boys, Chris and Josh totally get the whole hot car thing too, and they don’t mind the older cars…especially a Mustang or a Camaro. I don’t know how much they would like the old cars, but they do like their cars hot, They spend hours and hours working on their cars to make them better, hotter, and nicer. It’s just a guy thing.