Monthly Archives: August 2018
My grand-nephew, Matthew Masterson is growing up so fast. According to his mom, Dustie Masterson, Matthew is a real man boy these days. He is very protective of his mom and his sisters. When his dad, my nephew, Rob Masterson had to go to South Carolina for training for work, it ended u being at the same time that Matthew was supposed to be staying in Fort Laramie, Wyoming with a friend of his. As Matthew thought about his mom and sisters at home without a man in the house, he just couldn’t stand it. And his mom secretly felt the same way. Matt called his mom and asked her to drive to Fort Laramie and pick him up. The visit with his friend would have to be another time. So right after she dropped Rob at the airport, she made the drive back up to pick him up. Matt stuck to his mom and sisters like glue, even going outside with his mom when she went out to smoke. When his dad is not home, Matt considers himself the family protector. He is learning to shoot and to be safe with guns, so he can keep his family safe.
Matt is turning 13, and going into 7th grade this year. It’s hard to believe he is getting so grown up. Matt is totally into online gaming with his friends from school. He really likes Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Siege 6 and Fortnight. Now, if only he can remember not to “team kill” and get banned for another week. I guess it’s easy to get carried away sometimes. Nevertheless, I’m sure that it won’t take him too long to become a master at both games. Gaming if great, but Matt likes to cook too, and when given the choice between cooking with his mom and gaming…well cooking is the only thing that Matt will immediately flip off the Xbox for.
Matt’s family recently moved into a new home, and now he has his own room, which he really loves. One surprising thing came about with having his own room. Suddenly Matt is meticulous about keeping his room clean. Now that, for most boys is a amazing thing, of course, it all gets back to normal for boys when you hear that along with having his room clean, he also works very hard to keep it girl free!! I guess it’s one thing to be protective of his sisters, but totally another to share his space with them. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Dave Balcerzak married my niece, Chantel in June of 2002, but they had known each other since childhood. We all loved Dave from the beginning. He is a big teddy bear, who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He fit into the family instantly, and we have all been so pleased to have him in the family. Dave is a man of considerable technical talent, and has been there for those of us who have been in need of repairs on computers, but that is the least of the reasons that we love Dave. When he married my niece, Chantel, Dave became Dad to her kids, Jake Harman and Siara Harman Olsen. He was the only dad they really ever had, even though they had a dad. Dave was there for the long haul. He didn’t leave when the going got rough. He was there when there were tears and broken hearts, and through the difficult teenage years, and it was Dave who was their dad at their weddings, who walked Siara down the isle. Dave is the man they call Dad, because he is the man who has been their dad, and dad to his own two kids, Keifer Balcerzak and Katy Balcerzak Collett. Dave is a dad at heart. He was the dad that he should be for his kids, and the dad he didn’t have to be for Chantel’s kids. And now he is grandpa to the four grandchildren they have given them.
A few months ago, Dave had some health problems that put him in the hospital with heart problems. While there, he had a stroke. That was really the beginning of a miracle for Dave. Miraculously, a CNA quickly caught that something wasn’t right. All Dave said was that his big toe hurt, but she saw so much more. Dave was quickly treated for a stroke, and then for an irregular heartbeat, that was the cause of the stroke. They tried shocking his heart, but the rhythm wouldn’t hold. Finally, they did a Catheter Ablation procedure. Basically it is a procedure that destroys the area of the heart muscle that is causing the arrhythmias. It sounds like a drastic measure to fix arrhythmia in the heart, but it worked. Within a couple of weeks, Dave was back to normal, and able to walk Siara down the isle at her wedding. It was a miraculous moment, and one he wasn’t sure was going to happen. He would not have had the stamina to do that had his heart not been repaired. Once again, Dave was able to be the dad, he didn’t have to be, but chose to be. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! We give thanks to God that you are still here with us. Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, JD Parmely is a car fanatic. I have never known anyone who owns more cars than he does, and the number keeps getting bigger. I suppose, that as the saying goes, “to each his own” really applies here. Cars are JD’s thing, and he can often be found out in his garage tinkering on one of them…sometimes until 2:00 in the morning. It is what makes him happy, and it has from the time he was old enough to think about cars. JD knew from a young age that he wanted to be a mechanic, and so he went to college in Arizona for his training, and now, not only does he work on his own cars but he is a mechanic by trade too. They say that when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That certainly is true for JD.
It would be my guess that the only job JD loves more than being a mechanic, is being an uncle. Since the first time he became an uncle, he was in love with that whole part of his life. JD’s brother, Eric Parmely and sister-in-law, Ashley now have three children, so JD is uncle to Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen. He takes his role very seriously, spending time with them whenever he can, and I’m sure that he is considered a great blessing to them. JD has a heart of gold, and those kids all know how much their uncle loves them, and like most uncles, they have him wrapped around their little fingers already. JD has a soft heart in that area, and I’m pretty sure that those kids know it too.
JD is the kind of guy you can always count on. He has been a ready help to his brothers and uncles whenever they asked him. He has also been good to his dad, even taking him into his home after he had a stroke, and helping him with the demands of his new health status. Having been a caregiver myself for 13 years, I can say that taking care of someone is no easy job, and those who do it deserve our respect. All in all, JD live a very busy life, sometimes it can wear a person out just thinking about it, but it’s what makes him happy, so that’s all that matters. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For a number of years I have wondered why my sisters all had a sweetheart chin and jawline, while mine was pretty square. It wasn’t something my sisters particularly noticed, and maybe my parents didn’t either, but I did. It just seemed so…square. I always thought it made my face look fat…especially if I was seated in the front in pictures. In reality, I suppose it isn’t so different from my sisters, and most people would never notice it unless I pointed it out, but we are usually our own worst critic, so I definitely notice that jawline.
I was talking to my sister, Cheryl Masterson about it the other day, and we began to wonder just where it came from. I decided to take a look at the pictures I have of ancestors on my Ancestry tree. It took a few minutes, but I came across a grandmother, Mary Ann Jeffries, who married James Fishburn. Grandma Fishburn seems to have the same jaw line that I do. I don’t think I really look like her in most ways, but that jawline is pretty distinct. My sister had to agree too. We know very little about Grandma Fishburn, because she passed away back in 1913, long before I was born.
Mary Ann and her first husband, Andrew Lake were apparently divorced, because he died after her, but she went on to marry my 2nd great grandfather, James Fishburn in 1863. She and her first husband had a son, Christopher Daniel Lake in 1859, and with her second husband, she had Hanna in 1867, Almira in 1869, and Edna in 1871 (my great grandmother). James, my 2nd great grandfather, died in 1897. In about 1900, Mary Ann married John Parker, who died in 1914, about a year after she did. I don’t really know anything more but the woman with whom I share a jawline, but it seems to me that he was not a quitter. She didn’t let life’s disappointments destroy her life, but rather picked herself up by the bootstraps and moved forward. Maybe it was because she had children to care for or live for, or maybe she just understood that life isn’t always a bed of roses, and we must each play the hand we are dealt. With perseverance, and faith in God, we go forward, and live on. As for me, I finally know where that jawline came from.
For most of the time I have been writing about my grand-niece, Katie Balcerzak, my stories have been centered around her love of children and her work at the Montessori school, her happy marriage to my grand-nephew, Keifer, and her desire for a family, but this year is simply different, because this year is all about the baby. The baby, who goes by the name of Reece Victoria Balcerzak, has completely taken over her parents’ hearts. Their whole life centers around her, and for good reason, because Reese is a sweet, smiley little girl with smiling eyes to match her beautiful smile. She is a happy baby, and that makes her mommy so happy. For Katie, life is complete… at least until they decide to have another baby, at which time, they will wonder how they ever could have been a family of three, because they will have two babies to love then.
These days, Katie spends her free time…the time when she isn’t taking care of home and baby…taking pictures of her little gem, and who can blame her, because Reece is a total cutie. Really, all Katie has ever wanted was to be a mom, and she is such a great mom, so that in itself is success. Of course, as we all know, being the mom of a baby does have its challenges too. Babies get crabby when they are hungry, wet, teething, and tired…among other things. Sometimes, they are just in a crabby mood, and why should they be different.we all get crabby sometimes. Nevertheless, even if Reece is crabby, her mommy loves her bunches, and usually knows how to fix it. Katie prides herself in the care she gives Reece, and wants to be the best mommy she can be…I mean, which of us moms don’t want that.
Some of the things that Katie has learned in her journey from new mommy to seasoned professional,have been kind of funny, or should I say her sense of humor was clearly showing, because she points out the long list of today’s parenting Dos and Don’ts List, and how according to these “professionals” just how amazing it is that yesterday’s generation ever survived their parents. When you read the list, you find yourself laughing, because no parent could possibly live up to that. At first glance, you might think she was serious, but then you read the rest of it, and find out that she was really being funny. The only aren’t who would really try to follow that list would be one that will soon find themselves trying to avoid the nut house!! Thankfully, Katie has seen through the craziness, and focuses more on the simple ways to be a good parent and raise a happy, healthy, child. Today is Katie’s birthday, and the first one she has spent as a mother. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The term “coward” doesn’t normally bring with it thoughts of bravery in the face of danger, but perhaps it should…sometimes anyway. Charles Joseph Coward was born in Britain on January 30, 1905. I can’t say what his young life was like, and perhaps it was his parents who taught him to prove his name wrong, but I’m quite sure they were proud of just how well he proved that he was anything, but a coward. Coward joined the British Army in 1937 and served with the 8th Reserve Regimental Royal Artillery. By the time WWII started in 1939, he was a Quartermaster Battery Sergeant Major. They already saw something in him that disproved his name.
In World War II, Coward was fighting against the Nazis when the Germans assaulted the port of Calais on May 21, 1940, marking the start of the Siege of Calais. The German army drove the Allies back, and the British Expeditionary Force fled from France through the port of Dunkirk. Fortunately, most made it out in time…to fight the Germans another day. Unfortunately for Coward, he was not one of them, and he became a POW. He did have an advantage, however, in that he spoke German. He used his language skills to make seven escape attempts by passing himself off as a German soldier. One of the escape attempts worked. He was free, but he was injured, and was sent to a German Army field hospital. Coward kept up his German soldier act. After the German doctors had treated his wounds, he was awarded an Iron Cross for his bravery and suffering. Unfortunately, they realized their mistake pretty quickly. Coward was sent back to the POW camp where he earned a reputation for sabotage while on work details. Finally, he was sent to Poland…Auschwitz, to be precise…not to the death camp part of Auschwitz, but rather to the work camp part of it. Coward arrived at Auschwitz III (Monowitz), which was the working camp, in December 1943. The camp was located approximately five miles from Auschwitz II (Birkenau), which was the death camp. There he became a modern day “Hogan’s Hero,” although there was nothing funny about his situation, like there was in the television show. Coward spied on his captors and risked his life to save those he could. All that under the name of Coward.
IG Farben was a German chemical and pharmaceutical industry conglomerate. Its name was taken from Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie. IG Farben had acquired the patent to Zyklon B. It was originally used as an insecticide and by US immigration officials to delouse Mexican laborers. The Nazis had a different use for it…the extermination of Jews and other undesirables. Coward and between 1,200 and 1,400 other British POWs were kept at sub-camp E715. Their job was to run the liquid fuel plant which produced synthetic rubber. Coward, due to his German language skills worked as a Red Cross liaison officer, because Germany was still keeping up the pretense of honoring the Geneva Convention articles. He was allowed some measure of free movement within the camp, and even permitted to go to the nearby towns. In town, Coward saw trainloads of Jews arriving at the the extermination camp. Auschwitz III housed 10,000 Jews who were “allowed” to work. They were worked to the point of exhaustion and sickness. Given the brutality and deliberate starvation they did not last long. Coward simply couldn’t stand by and do nothing. The British POWs had access to Red Cross items, so Coward and the other prisoners set aside food and medicine to be smuggled to the Jewish section of their camp, to help as many as possible. Coward was allowed to send letters out, so he began writing to his friend…Mr. William Orange, a fictitious person. It was actually the code for the British War Office. In those letters, he explained what was happening in the camps, as well as the treatment and mass slaughter of Jews. One day, a letter was smuggled to him, asking for help. It came from Karel Sperber, a British ship’s doctor, but there was a problem…Sperber was being held in the Jewish section of Monowitz. So Coward exchanged clothes with an inmate and smuggled himself into the Jewish sector to try to find the doctor. Sadly, he failed, but he did see how Jews in the work camp were being treated. After the war, he was among those who testified at the IG Farben Trial in Nuremberg. He helped to have some of the company’s directors imprisoned, although only for a few years.
He wanted to help the Jews, but to pull it off, he needed two things…chocolate and corpses. It was a daring plan, but it worked. Coward gave the chocolate to the guards in exchange for the bodies of non-Jewish dead prisoners. Then, once their clothes and papers had been removed they were cremated. Jewish escapees put on the clothes and assumed the new, non-Jewish identities. With help from members of the Polish resistance, they were then smuggled out of the camp. As the number of those missing tallied with the number of those who were reported dead, neither Coward nor the bribed guards fell under any suspicion. It is estimated around 400 Jews were saved using Coward’s method. In January 1945 Soviet forces advanced deeper into Poland. As they made their way toward Auschwitz, Coward and the other POWs were forced to march to Bavaria in Germany. The prisoners were liberated by Allied forces en route, finally putting an end to the brutal nightmare. In 1963 Yad Vashem recognized Coward as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. He became known as the “Count of Auschwitz.” and a film was made of his exploits called “The Password is Courage.” I think he was a pretty brave man…for a Coward.
My grand-niece, Melanie Harman, who is married to my grand-nephew, Jake Harman have been busy moving into their new house. They are very excited to finally have a house. They really needed a place that was big enough for their family of five. Their kids, Alice, Izabella, and Jaxx get to have their own rooms now, and that makes it even better…and those kids are beyond excited about it. Anyone who comes over to the house gets the grand tour, starting with the kids bedrooms…specially if the kids are giving the tour. Melanie’s husband, Jake did a lot of his growing up years in that house, and he has wanted to raise his family there for a long time. For Jake, moving into this house, is like coming home again.
Melanie has been very busy settling into their new home and taking care of the children. She is a great mom, and the children are well taken care of, well behaved, and totally happy. Melanie has been so blessed with such a sweet family. Their little Alice is growing up so fast, and she is totally loving being her mom’s little helper. Izabella is Jake and Melanie’s sassy girl. She is a bit shy until she gets to know you better, but she is definitely full of spunk. Jaxx, being the youngest and only boy has learned quickly to be very laid back. His sisters were probably rough at first, but they learned to be more gentle. Nevertheless, Jaxx did well, and Melanie can’t imagine her life without her kids, and her husband Jake, who works hard to support his family and loves them completely. They are truly Melanie’s blessings.
Melanie and Jake are good together. They are, in many ways opposites, but then most of us know that opposites attract, and that is likely what brought the two of them together in the first place. They have created a wonderful home, filled with laughter, for their children, and I believe that they were a match made in Heaven, and they will live happily ever after. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When I asked my sister, Caryl Reed to get me some “dirt” on her husband, Mike for his birthday story, she laughed and said it would have to be ranch dirt. Of course, I knew exactly what she meant, because there really isn’t much “dirt” to get on Mike, who is very busy being a supervisor at the Sinclair Oil Refinery in Sinclair, Wyoming, during the week; and working on their retirement ranch outside Casper, Wyoming on the weekends. Working on the ranch isn’t Mike’s only pastime, however. He like to golf, and he and Caryl took a recent trip to salt Lake City to golf on a really nice course there. It was a much needed vacation, because they haven’t taken many vacations lately that didn’t involve work on their ranch…not that either of them were sorry about that really.
Mike enjoys his golfing, and hunting too, and has taken several trips to go hunting, including Africa, Canada, and Alaska. He had a great time on all those trips, and the meat from those he got to bring home was used for a number of things, including jerky for the family. The meat from the Africa trip was not allowed to be shipped home, but rather was given to the surrounding villages, where it fed a good many people. Mike was allowed to have some of it and said it was really good too. While golf, hunting, fishing, and other sports are a big part of Mike’s life, Caryl thinks that the ranch may have just topped them in the priority line. He wants to have everything ready for their retirement, when they will move to the ranch, in less than five years. Being an entrepreneur, Mike has decided to plant hay on the ranch to use as an income source. It isn’t an unusual idea for Mike, who was the one that suggested that they buy apartments buildings for extra income. Caryl has been very pleased with his wise financial decisions for their family, and trusts his instincts completely.
Now that they are having their house built on the land, Mike can hardly stand to be away from the construction site. He put cameras up so he could watch the building of their house from their current home in Rawlins. Their vacations are all about working on the ranch. They’ve started to get to know many of their neighbors, and have many new friends. They all look out for each other, and of course we’re all there for each other. Mike is very well liked out there, as is Caryl. Their retirement plans are shaping up quite nicely. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
In March or 1941, the United States was largely considered neutral, so we could provide the countries, who were fighting Adolf Hitler, with war material. It was during this period of time, that the United Kingdom, an old enemy of the United States, since the United States fought against them for our independence, needed our help. Of course, we were allies by that time, and so the thought of a loan to the UK was not out o the question. The UK had been fighting against Adolf Hitler’s Germany army for a while by then, and funds were dwindling. The US loaned $4.33 billion to Britain in 1945, while Canada loaned US$1.19 billion in 1946, at a rate of 2% annual interest. It was a good deal, but in the end, the amount paid back was nearly double the amounts loaned in 1945 and 1946.
The United States was pulled into World War II shortly after, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. That marked to end of the program to provide military materials, because the United States was no longer considered neutral. At this point, the United States was very much needed in a very different way, and could not be neutral and be an effective help, but they also had a score to settle, and it could not be handled on the sidelines. The United States had hoped to sit this one out, but that was not to be. The Axis of Evil was winning against the Allied Nations, and they needed help, but it was the boldness of the attack on Pearl Harbor that finally awoke the sleeping giant that was the United States. The United States victory over Japan in the Battle of Midway was the turning point of the war in the Pacific. Then Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union defeated Germany at Stalingrad, marking the turning point of the war in Eastern Europe. As we all know, in the end the Allies were victorious in World War II.
There are still World War I debts owed to and by Britain. Since a moratorium on all debts from that conflict was agreed at the height of the Great Depression, no repayments have been made to or received from other nations since 1934. Despite the favorable rates there were six years in which Britain deferred payment because of economic or political crises. Britain settled its World War II debts to the United States and Canada when it paid the final two installments in 2006. The payments of $83.25 million to the US and US$22.7 million to Canada are the last of 50 installments since 1950. Upon the final payments, the UK will have paid back a total of $7.5 billion to the US and US$2 billion to Canada. “This week we finally honor in full our commitments to the United States and Canada for the support they gave us 60 years ago,” said Treasury Minister Ed Balls at the time of those final payments. “It was vital support which helped Britain defeat Nazi Germany and secure peace and prosperity in the post-war period. We honor our commitments to them now as they honored their commitments to us all those years ago,” he added.
Yesterday, August 3, 2018, at precisely 7:45am, Miss Elliott Michelle Stevens made her grand entrance into the world. Elliott, who will likely be nicknamed El or Elli, is the daughter and first child of my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his lovely wife, Kayla Smiley Stevens. Elliott is the first grandchild on both sides of their families, and so will be “spoiled” by grandmothers, Alena Stevens and Lynnette Smiley, as well as grandfathers, Mike Stevens and Wes Smiley. She also has three aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, who all became aunts the moment Elliot arrived. Elliot has changed a lot of lives, and all she did was to be born. It was a big job, but Elliott was up to the task.
Elliott is a pretty little girl, who likes to suck her thumb a little. Time will tell if that becomes a habit. She is a good baby, who doesn’t seem to cry much. She will find her voice, I’m sure, but for now, she is just relaxing and enjoying her new world and all the loving grandparents and great grandmother she has found there. Little does she know that there are many other family members who are waiting excitedly to meet her too. She has been born into a much larger family than she could possibly imagine, but those meetings will come in time. For now, she is just enjoying a few family members, and especially her parents, who are still marveling at the little blessing they have been given. And while Kayla and Garrett have become something their siblings are not…parents, their siblings have also become something they are not…aunts.
Time will tell who little Elliott will look like, and we all see similarities between her and her family members, but she will change quite a lot over the next few months and more similarities will begin to show. We will see an expression here, a facial shape there, and hair color will also begin to tell the tale. As she finds her voice, we might discover that she laughs like one person, or her voice sounds like another…it might even be an aunt or grandmother…or even a great aunt or uncle. Babies are amazing that way. They are created by God from the traits He ordains in their family DNA to be the perfect little person, unique and yet similar. I can’t wait to see who little Elliott Michelle will resemble as she grows. No matter who it is, she will be beautiful, just as she is right now, because she comes from two beautiful parents. Welcome to the world, Elliott Michelle, and to our family. We love you so much already!!