Monthly Archives: August 2017

My grand niece, Jala Satterwhite is really into horses, and she is blessed enough to live on a small ranch seven miles outside of Powell, Wyoming, where she has access to them every day. Jala loves all kinds of sports, and she is in great shape, but horses are her true love. They have five horses on the property. Two belong to Jala and her family, and the other three belong to her step-dad’s parents, but Jala and her little sister, Kaytlyn get to have access to them all. Of course, horses aren’t the only animals they have. There are also four cats and three dogs to play with and take care of. My niece, Susan Griffith, Jala’s mom tells me that they are slowly buying more things for the horses, and she comments that what used to be an economical mode of travel, sure is expensive these days. They would love to be able to go riding more often and for longer distances.

This summer, Jala did get to go on a week long back pack trip with a group of young ladies. It was called Dano Camp. It was a completely amazing experience. I had no idea what that was, so I looked into it. Per their website, “Dano Youth Camp was established in memory of the life and character of Danny “Dano” Ostrom. The camps are unique in that they provide the equipment…tents, backpacks, camping gear, food, etc…and the basic gear needed for the trip. The only requirement of the campers is to fill out the appropriate paperwork, make a commitment to the time frame, bring along a few personal items, and be prepared for summer fun!” It sounds like an amazing experience for the kids, and it sure was for Jala.

This seems to be the summer of camps for Jala. She also attended the Youth Life Camp in Oregon, and just got back last Friday. Jala describes it as the best week of her life. The camp is a Christian camp, and Jala is growing closer to God everyday. That makes her parents, and me, very happy. I’m sure the camp in Oregon, where she was surrounded by other young people who are believers too, was an amazing experience. It’s wonderful to be able to share your faith with others. For Jala, it has also been a camping summer, because the day she got back from Oregon, the family loaded up and headed for the Big Horn Mountains to go camping for the weekend. It’s a good thing that Jala is an outdoor sort of girl, because she sure didn’t spend much time indoors this summer.

Jala is going to be a Freshman in high school this year, and will be participating in swimming competitions. Jala did some diving competitions last year too. Practice for that started yesterday, even though school has not started yet. As most people know, gearing up for the school year is almost as busy as the first day. Nevertheless, it’s going to be a great and exciting year for Jala…especially since she is now old enough to get her learner’s permit and start learning to drive. Today is Jala’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Everyone knows that President Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, as the Civil War was drawing to a close, but what you may not know is that this was not the first attempt on Abraham Lincoln’s life. The first attempt came one August night in 1864, just under a year before the successful attempt by John Wilkes Booth. It is unknown who the would-be assassin was in that earlier attempt, just that they very nearly succeeded.

President Lincoln and his family often stayed at the Soldiers’ Home during the summer months due to the unbearable heat at the White House. President Lincoln often made the 4 mile trip from the White House to the Soldiers’ Home alone, and often late at night, an unheard of situation these days, with the secret service officers always shadowing the presidents, vice-presidents, and their families. As Lincoln was riding along that night, a shot rang out. Private John W Nichols, who was stationed at the Soldiers’ Home, rushed to the aid of the president, whom he found well, but missing his hat. President Lincoln told the private that the horse jerked upon hearing the gunshot, and his hat went flying. The private went to retrieve the hat for the president, and went he examined it, he found that it now had a bullet hole in it. It was an extremely close call, but President Lincoln requested that the matter be kept quiet, and Private Nichols didn’t tell the story until 1867. His tall hat had saved his life by causing the would be assassin to aim too high to hit his head.

For America, this missed shot changed history. Had Lincoln been killed on that August night…even just that much earlier would have had devastating consequences for America. Hannibal Hamlin would have become a lame duck president. Hamlin was already off the Union ticket for vice president, having been replaced by Andrew Johnson. Hamlin would have faced strong opposition, because at the time, the Radical Democracy Party…an offshoot of the Republicans…and their nominee, John Fremont, had not yet dropped from the race. The Radical Democracy Party were even more strongly opposed to slavery than Lincoln, which is what led to their formation. Had the assassin aimed a bit lower in 1864, the election in November would likely have pitted Hamlin against Fremont and McClellan, the Democratic nominee, with Johnson perhaps running on the Union ticket.

Presidential elections always rest on who can win in an election, and in this case the winner would have turned 1864 America into a mess. Had the earlier would-be assassin’s shot been just a little lower, Lincoln, would have been succeeded by Hannibal Hamlin which may have given the upcoming election to Lincoln’s overly cautious former commander, General George McClellan. How either Hamlin, had he actually won re-election, or McClellan would have carried on the last year of the war, much less dealt with southern reconstruction, is a source for debate. Lincoln’s death, if combined with a lame-duck Hamlin and a conciliatory McClellan, might have encouraged the South to hold on just a while longer and resulted in an armistice rather than a victory, dramatically changing the history of America. I don’t think that anyone but Lincoln could have freed the slaves at that time.

My grand nephew, Matthew Masterson is the only boy in a family of 4 children. I suppose that could make Matthew a terror…teasing his sisters, tormenting them with his antics, or just being in the room when the girls don’t want him there. Sometimes, those descriptions are actually true, but not for the most part. That’s because Matthew has more protective instincts that he does torment instincts. I think that a boy, who is the only boy in a family is often very protective of his sister or sisters. Most boys realize at an early age, that their job is to protect the women in their lives. That instinct is preparing them for their future roll as a husband and father. While Matthew is still a number of years away from being a family man, he is quite protective of his sisters, and that makes me very proud of him.

Now that Matthew is growing up, he has been allowed to have a Facebook page, because lets face it, social media is a way of life now. Each age group has different reasons for using Facebook, but the main reason for everyone, is to connect with friends and family. Of course, with kids, it has to be monitored by their parents, to prevent exploitation, and Matthew’s parents are very careful to do that. Matthew is learning the Facebook ropes…finding things that inspire him. His mom, Dustie Masterson has also posted things that she hopes will help her son to grow into the kind of man she wants him to be some day. Dustie and my nephew, Rob Masterson, love encouraging their kids to be the best they can be, and to know that if they put their mind to it, they can do anything they dream of doing. I like the inspiring things they share with their kids on Facebook, as well as in their daily home lives. Matthew is growing into a kind, loving young man, who thinks of others before himself.

Matthew loves hanging out with friends, his cousins, Zack, and Isaac Spethman, and sometimes their older brother, Xander Spethman, or their little sister, Aleesia Spethman. He also loves hanging out with his sisters, Raelynn and Anna Masterson, although his favorite people to hang out with are the Spethman boys, because their interests are much the same. Matthew is a curious boy, and he also loves to talk to the adults in the family. He wants to know about things that are going on in the world, and he has an opinion about things too. He has listened to the news, to his parents talk about things, and to his teachers too. By listening, he has an idea about how he thinks things should be. And he also has questions about those same current events. I think that as he listens and asks questions, he will grow into a wise young man. Today is Matthew’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Alice Green has had an exciting couple of years. She finished her last year of pre-school, and now its on to Kindergarten. She has grown so much in the past few years…from the toddler that she was when I first met her young girl ready to get started on the next step in her education. Alice is a little shy, but once she gets to know people, she has a personality that bubbles with excitement. Alice really likes people, and of course, mostly kids. For three of her five years, she was an only child, and that meant that friends were a little bit more scarce, but all that has changed.

On December 21, 2015, Alice got an early Christmas present…a little sister of her very own named Izabella Harman. Alice was so excited. She had a sister, and before long, she would have a friend to play with who was always there in the same house with her. Alice was a good helper to her mom, my niece, Melanie Harman and my nephew, Jake Harman. She wanted to help with the baby, and make her laugh, and just be with her, in general, because that’s what big sisters do, and Alice planned to be the best big sister ever…a goal that I think she has definitely accomplished. But Alice’s excitement wasn’t over yet. On May 30, 2017, Alice got a little brother named Jaxx Harman. Jaxx would have not just one big sister, but two. I’m not sure how much he will like that when he is older, but while they are all little, this is going to be the best experience ever.

Alice is still the greatest big sister ever, because she loves her little sister and brother, and she loves to make them laugh. She and Belle play and giggle for hours, and very soon, Jaxx will join in the fun, because he won’t be a baby forever. Pretty soon, the Harman house will be filled with the laughter of three children in boisterous play. There is nothing greater than a house filled with the laughter of joyful children. For Alice, life is good. She is growing up, and she has Kindergarten to look forward to soon, and each day when she comes home, she will be greeted by her sister and brother, ready to play with the greatest big sister ever. Today is Alice’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Alice!! We love you!!

My nephew, Dave Balcerzak is a likeable guy, who is highly skilled in computer technology, but never acts like a know it all. Dave just isn’t wired that way. He isn’t the snobby type, who like to tell everyone how great they are…whether they can back it up or not. The way he sees it, and I would agree, is that if you know your job, you don’t have to tell everyone how well you know your job, because people will be able to see that for themselves. Arrogance never was a skill…it was rather an insecurity. Dave is a IT technician for the State of Wyoming, and they know how blessed they are to have him, because…Dave is great at what he does. He won’t blow his own horn, so I’ll do it for him!!

Dave has been a part of our family since he married my niece, Chantel on June 22, 2002. They had known each other since they were both kids, but both went their separate ways as adults…until God brought them back together, and they have been happily married for 15 years. Dave has been a wonderful dad to his kids, Keifer and Katy, as well as to Chantel’s kids, Jake and Siara. And he has become a wonderful grandpa to Jake’s children, Alice, Izabella, and Jaxx. Now, in February of 2018, Dave will become a grandpa again, as his son Keifer, and Keifer’s wife, Katie have their first child. It is an exciting time for Dave, who loves little kids, and is just basking in the role of grandpa. Dave’s personality is such that the kids love to be around him, and that makes life even better, because he loves being around those grandbabies too.

Dave is a sports guy. He likes all kinds of sports, and loves to hang with his kids and watch sports. Dave plays darts, and while I have never watched him play, I hear that he is very good, and very competitive. That’s ok, because the only way to get good at a sport is to be competitive, either with others, or against yourself. Dave has his own “man cave” and Chantel is ok with letting his have his sport sessions down there, and she might even join in…once in a while. Watching sports with the kids has been a way to keep them close, and for Dave, who is a family guy, that is very important.

Today, Dave joins the ranks of the 50+ club, as he turns 50. It is hard for me to believe that Dave could be 50. He doesn’t act like it, and in reality, it just doesn’t seem possible that I could have nephews in their 50s…even though it should, because Dave isn’t the first one. Still, I don’t know where the time has gone. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As a little boy, my nephew, JD Parmely could usually be found hanging out with the men in the family, looking for ways to help with whatever they happened to be working on at the time. He was a busy little boy, and he wanted to be a part of the guys group. I guess he knew, even at such a young age, that he wanted to be a mechanic too. JD came from a long line of mechanics, so it was in his blood, it would seem…and that suited JD just fine. When he grew up, JD decided that he would go to tech school to learn everything he needed to know to be a professional mechanic, and so he spent time in Arizona at school…before returning to Casper, Wyoming as quickly as possible, to get out of what he considered to be the horrible Arizona heat.

While the majority of JD’s assistance as a child, was handing the men a tool…if he could figure out which one they needed, he has long outgrown the days when he doesn’t know about tools. Now that he is educated in the field of mechanics, he works mostly on his own projects…of which there are many, since JD is an avid car owner, who owns more cars at one time than most of us do in a lifetime…and drives them all!! JD is of the belief that one can never have too many vehicles. His “Day Job” is in the same field…mechanics. JD loves his work so much that he just brings it home with him…or, in reality, just changes locations, and works on his own vehicles in the evenings. He can’t think of a better way to relax, than to work on a car, and I think the rest of the men in the family are exactly the same way.

For many years, JD was the student, gleaning knowledge about mechanics from his dad, grandpa, older brother, and uncles, but at some point, the student became the teacher. In this family, we have mechanics who specialize in various pars of mechanics, as well as the same types as the others. What that does, is to provide a sounding board for the others, when they have an issue with something they are working on. It also provides for assistance when a job requires more than one mechanic. For me…lately anyway, it has seemed kind of odd, or maybe different, but not unexpected, that my husband, Bob, would be calling on his nephew, JD for information on a problem. I know it was bound to happen at some point, and has probably been going on for quite a while, but when I think about Bob asking JD for his help and ideas, I just have to smile, because the student has become the teacher. JD has come a long way, and yes he is another in a long line of mechanics, but somehow it just didn’t occur to me that he would be the go to guy for the other mechanics sometimes. Nevertheless, that’s what he is, and that’s what they are to him too. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For the past year, I have worked with Amanda Ingram, who is the 15 year old daughter of my co-worker, Carrie Beauchamp. Amanda’s job is to file, make policy changes, take payments, and of course, answer the phone. It is a typical job for a customer service representative. No matter where Amanda is in the office, when the phone rings, she usually says, “I’ve got it.” Of course, that is her way of letting us know that we don’t have to stop what we are doing to answer the phone, but for me, her statement brings back years of teenaged memories…memories that the kids of today will most likely never have.

When I was a kid, we had just one phone in the house. It was the family phone, and my parents had five girls in the house. Over the years, mostly as each of us became teenagers, and had more friends, and especially boyfriends, we wanted to be the first one to the phone. It was especially important to get to the phone before our little sisters embarrassed us by talking to our friend or boyfriend and saying something that we might consider stupid or otherwise embarrassing…or simply embarrass us just by answering.

In our house, as in the homes of most of our friends, the younger kids just wanted to get to answer the phone once in a while too, but we assumed that it couldn’t be for them anyway, so they should just stay away from what we considered our own personal phone. I even recall being annoyed when the caller had the audacity to want to speak to one of my parents. What did they need to be talking about anyway. The older generation couldn’t possibly have anything important to talk about…could they? At least that was what we thought, with our typically self centered teenaged minds. It wasn’t that we were selfish, because I don’t think we were, but all teenagers are self centered to a degree. They think of themselves and their needs, as well as their insecurities, which were the main reasons that we didn’t want our younger siblings, or even our parents to answer the phone. You just never knew what they might say.

These days, with the invention of cell phones, we all have our own phone to answer, and most of the time, we don’t want to answer the phone for someone else, because that is…just annoying. Still, with the dawning of Facebook, and the fact that our friends can also reach us there, has come a new, and sometimes even better way for siblings to embarrass us in front of our friends…hacking our page. So, in that way, the kids of today can say, “I’ve got it.” And I guess they do.

Since my grand niece, Katie Balcerzak was a little girl, she wanted to be a mommy, just like most little girls do. After her marriage to my nephew, Keifer, she and Keifer were doggie parents to their puppies, but now they have decided that the time has come to have a child of a different kind. So, in February, their new little bundle of joy will make his or her appearance. In the meantime, it’s always a good thing that parents-to-be have time to prepare for their little one, and all of the changes that come along with being parents, because life is about to get really interesting for them…and for their puppy girls…who will most likely ease right into being “sisters” without batting an eye, because dogs love kids…at least all the dogs I have ever known. And especially if they get to know the baby from birth. Dogs just seem to know that they have a new playmate coming soon.

I think for Katie, being a mom will not be something so new, because she has been an aunt for a number of years, and therefore, she knows how to take care of babies. Anytime a girl has an older sibling, who has kids, she finds herself babysitting at a young age. And when a girl babysits, she learns how to take care of children. For Katie, who has long wanted kids, working at the Montessori School has been another way to prepare for her new role as mommy. I think that in reality, Katie’s whole adult life has been an ongoing preparation for having children of her own, and I am so excited for her as she and Keifer embark on the new world of parenthood, and all the incredible joys that go along with it. Babies, while a lot of work, are a most rewarding part of life.

Katie is a fun loving girl with a beautiful smile, and I think Keifer loved her from the moment he first laid eyes on her. She has a goofy side that appeals to the kids she spends time around, and she is patient with them too, so that endears her to them very quickly. Kids love an adult who doesn’t mind playing kid games and acting silly sometimes, and Katie is willing to do that. I suppose that would make her a kid at heart, and that’s ok. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When we think of train robberies, most of us think of the Old West, and bandits on horseback, riding up along side the train, and jumping on. Then, with guns pointed at everyone, they robbed the train, and left the same way they came in. In fact, I think most of us thought that the days of robbing a train were over, and maybe that played to the advantage of the outlaws, because on August 8, 1963, a group of 15 thieves and 2 key informants pulled off one of the most famous heists of all time.

The leader and mastermind behind the heist was Bruce Reynolds, who was a known burglar and armed robber. He was an avid “fan” of the Wild West railroad heists in America, so he decided to see if he could pull something like that off in England. Reynolds and 14 other men wearing ski masks and helmets held up the Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow, Scotland, and London, England. The gang used Land Rover vehicles which had been stolen in central London and marked with identical license plates in order to confuse the police. Unlike the Wild West gangs, this gang used a false red signal to get the train to stop, then hit the driver with an iron bar, seriously injuring him, in order to gain control of the train. The thieves loaded 120 mailbags filled with the equivalent of $7 million in used bank notes into their Land Rovers and sped off to their hideout, which was the Leatherslade Farm in Buckinghamshire, England, to divide their loot. The robbers had cut all the telephone lines in the vicinity, but one of the rail-men left on the train at Sears Crossing caught a passing goods train to Cheddington, where he raised the alarm at around 04:20.

As often happens, the media reports on these things, and before you know it, they are viewed as folk heroes by the public for the audacious nature of their crime and their flight from justice. The first reports of the robbery were broadcast on the VHF police radio within a few minutes and this is where the gang heard the line “A robbery has been committed and you’ll never believe it – they’ve stolen the train!” I’m sure that added to the charm felt by the public, because seriously, who but an eccentric, would steal a train. As always seems to happen, 12 of the 15 robbers were eventually captured. They received a collective 300 years in prison. One of them, a small-time hood named Ronnie Biggs, escaped from prison after just 15 months and underwent plastic surgery to change his appearance. He fled the country and eluded capture for years, finally giving himself up in 2001 when he returned from Brazil voluntarily to serve the 28 years remaining in his sentence…a rather odd thing to do, considering the fact that he had successfully escaped. The two Land Rovers used in the robbery were discovered at the thieves’ hideout. A car enthusiast still owns one of them today, and considers it a collector’s item.

Motherhood is not a new venture for my grand niece, Melanie Harman, because she has been a mom since her daughter, Alice Green was born almost five years ago. Nevertheless, being the mother of three children is quite different than being a mother of one child. Following her marriage to my grandnephew, Jake Harman, Melanie and Jake, further expanded their family with the addition of a daughter, Izabella on December 21, 2015, and a son, Jaxx on May 30, 2017. With Belle, family outings were not a big issue. It was cold, and no one minded staying home. But with Jaxx, summer was just beginning, and the family wanted to do some things…and, one thing in particular…camping. That’s not the easiest thing to do with a baby either.

For the most part, healthy babies can go wherever their parents go, and Jaxx was a healthy baby. Still, every young mother wants to feel like their plans for the baby are ok and safe. Melanie is no different, so she asked friends with children how long they waited to go camping. Satisfied with the information she received, Melanie and Jake moved forward with their camping weekend plans. I’m sure it was with mixed emotions, that they made plans to take their children, including their one month old son camping for the Independence Day holiday weekend. They weren’t going far, just up on Casper Mountain, which is right outside town. It wasn’t that they worried about the safety of their son, but rather all the work of camping with a baby. Still, they weren’t the first ones to do that, as lots of people have camped with a baby. As expected, the camping trip went very well, and Jaxx not only survived the trip, but Melanie and Jake did too. Sometimes, I think it is the parents who may not be ready for such an outing!! There is a lot of work involved to take a baby camping, and the tent is not always conducive to some of the required elements of bringing a baby along

Melanie is a great mom, and her kids are well behaved and sweet. She is living her life dream…to be a wife and mother. There may come a day when she decides to opt for a career, but for right now, here babies need her more than the family needs the extra money, and if a woman plans things out right, the money will usually stretch to provide for the family and yet allow her to be at home raising her kids, rather than having them in daycare, where someone else is essentially raising them. I’m not saying that daycare is a bad thing, but if a mom can stay home while the kids a small, it is really a good thing, and that is what Melanie wants to do, and Jake wants her to be able to do. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!