Grandchildren

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Since both of my dads, Al Spencer (my dad) and Walt Schulenberg (my father-in-law) are in Heaven now, I don’t have a dad on Earth to celebrate with, but my husband, Bob Schulenberg is still with us…eight months after suffering a heart attack, and receiving miracle care and a miracle healing, and for that, my family and I rejoice and praise God, every day. This year could have been very different, and yet God stepped in and made a way for us. That is my biggest reason to celebrate this Father’s Day. Every day beyond October 14, 2018, is a gift. A precious gift from God. So to my husband, I wish a very special Father’s Day. I am so thankful that you are still with us.

The example my dad and my father-in-law set for their children is one of kindness and love. It is an example that we all try to follow, because they were both great family leaders. They were hard working, and took care of their families so that they never wanted for anything. Having a great dad is not automatic…unfortunately. As the saying goes, “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone very special to be a dad.” It takes someone very special to be there through thick and thin…when their children are being good and when they are being bad. Children need to know that no matter what mistakes they make, their parents will always love and support them as they work through life’s ups and downs. Growing up is hard, and we don’t always make that journey smoothly. It is a road often filled with big rock and pot holes. We stumble along, and if there is no one there to pick us up and put us back on out feet, things don’t always go very well. I am so thankful for my two dads, who were good dads to me and my siblings, and well as Bob and his siblings. I firmly believe that it was because of them that Bob and I became the parents we are.

I also feel very blessed that my daughters, Corrie and Amy have been blessed with the wonderful husbands they have. Kevin and Travis are the kid of dads I would have wanted for my girls and their children, if I could have picked. Thankfully, God chose these men for my girls, and I an very proud of the families they have raised. Their homes are filled with love and much laughter, as well and encouragement and forgiveness. Their children know that their parents are there for them, no matter what. Now the next generation are coming into the age to have kids, beginning with Corrie and Kevin’s son, Chris, who is taking the lessons he learned from his parents, and applying them to his own daughter. Chris is a great dad, and I know that he will raise great kids. Happy Father’s Day to my guys, and all the dads out there!!

My nephew, Garrett Stevens has had a great year. It has been a year of great change for him and his wife, Kayla, who welcomed their first child on August 3, 2018. Their daughter, Elliott has been the answer to prayer for both of them. For as long as I can remember, Garrett has loved kids, and Kayla has too. Now that he has a child of his own, Garrett is on cloud nine. He is a great dad, and a great husband.

This summer has been a busy one for Garrett and Kayla. Kayla was a bridesmaid in a wedding earlier that took the family to Huntington Beach, California. They had a great time enjoying the sun and sand. They went sight seeing, and just had a great vacation. This past weekend, Kayla had to go out of town for the weekend, and so Garrett found himself being Mister Mom. I think he would have had no problem taking care of Elliott alone, but he wanted to give his mom a chance to join in, and since it was Elliott’s first time away from her mommy, Garrett might have been just a little bit nervous. Having his mom there would help, in the event that Elliott was fussy. He needn’t have worried. It all went very well, and Garrett and his mom had a good visit too. It was a sweet gift he could give to his mom, my sister, Alena Stevens.

Garrett has been working hard, and making great strides in his career too. Garrett took after his grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer, when he decided to become a welder. Garrett went to college for his chosen field, and he is very good at it. Garrett works at EMIT Technologies, Inc in Sheridan. Kayla told me that Garrett made her very proud yesterday, when he won an award for his work. She told me that Garrett’s boss, Will said that he has never seen a new hire come in and hit the ground running as hard as Garrett has and he was impressed with how Garrett is making changes to products to make them better!! Compliments from bosses just don’t get better than that. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you and we’re very proud of you!!

Nurses are the cornerstone of medicine in many cases. Yes, we must have doctors, but nurses are the support system that allows doctors to do their jobs. One such example was a woman named Mary Ann Bickerdyke. She was born on July 19, 1817 in Knox County, Ohio, to Hiram and Annie (Rodgers) Ball. She was married in 1847 to Robert Bickerdyke. The couple and their family moved to Galesburg, Illinois. After her infant daughter died suddenly, she vowed to learn more about medicine, studying herbal medicine at Oberlin College. Mary Ann was widowed in 1859. She was alone and the mother of two sons, who were in their adolescent years.

Widowed just two years before the Civil War began, she supported herself and her sons by practicing as a “botanic physician” in Galesburg. When a young Union volunteer physician wrote home about the filthy, chaotic military hospitals at Cairo, Illinois, the citizens of Galesburg collected $500 worth of supplies and selected Bickerdyke to deliver them. She left her sons with a neighbor, and after seeing the horrible conditions for herself, Bickerdyke decided that she was needed there, so she stayed as an unofficial nurse. Her never ending energy, and her dedication made her just the heroine the Union soldiers needed in those awful war years. She organized the hospitals and cleaned up the filth that served only to breed germs, and in doing so, she gained the respect and appreciation of Ulysses S. Grant.

While there, she worked alongside another famed Civil War Nurse, Mary J. Stafford. When Grant’s army moved down the Mississippi River, Bickerdyke went too, becoming the Chief of Nursing and setting up hospitals where they were needed. Bickerdyke’s goal during the Civil War was to more efficiently care for wounded Union soldiers. She insisted on cleanliness, was dedicated to improving the level of care, and unafraid of stepping on male toes. That, in itself, was almost unheard of in that era. She was adamant about scrubbing every surface in sight, reported drunken physicians, and on one occasion ordered a staff member, who had illegally appropriated garments meant for the wounded, to strip. Though she antagonized male physicians, staff, and soldiers alike, in the name of better patient care, she won most of her battles…a good thing for the wounded soldiers.

Union General William T. Sherman was especially fond of the volunteer nurse who followed the western armies. It is said that she was the only woman he would allow in his camp. When his staff complained about the outspoken, insubordinate female nurse who constantly disregarded the army’s red tape and military procedures, Sherman threw up his hands and exclaimed, “Well, I can do nothing for you, she outranks me.” Running roughshod over anyone who stood in the way of her self-appointed duties, when a surgeon questioned her authority to take some action, she replied, “On the authority of Lord God Almighty, have you anything that outranks that?” I guess Sherman was right when he said that she outranked him.

To the wounded soldiers, Bickerdyke was an angel. They affectionately called her “Mother” Bickerdyke, and she called them her “boys.” The soldiers would cheer here when she appeared. She was more loved than the celebrities of our day are for some fans. During the war, she worked closely with Eliza Emily Chappell Porter of the Northwest Sanitary Commission, worked on the first hospital boat, helped build 300 hospitals and aided the wounded on 19 battlefields including the Battle of Shiloh, the Battle of Vicksburg, and Sherman’s March to the Sea. When the war was over, she rode at the head of the XV Corps in the Grand Review in Washington at General William T. Sherman’s request. Afterwards, she worked for the Salvation Army in San Francisco, and became an attorney, helping Union veterans with legal issues. Later, she ran a hotel in Salina, Kansas for a time before retiring to Bunker Hill, Kansas. She received a special pension of $25 a month from Congress in 1886. She died peacefully after a minor stroke November 8, 1901. Her remains were transported back to Galesburg, Illinois and she was interred next to her husband at the Linwood Cemetery. In memory of Bickerdyke’s selflessness, a statue of her was erected in Galesburg, Illinois. Two ships…a hospital boat, a liberty ship, and a cemetery in Kansas were named after her.

My niece, Kayla Stevens is first and foremost a wife to my nephew, Garrett, and a mom to their daughter, 10 month old Elliott Michelle. Being a mom is a dream come true for Kayla, and she is having the time of her life. She and Elliott are very close, and now that the weather is nicer, they have been going on walks every evening after Kayla gets off work. It’s their mother daughter time. Kayla is a great mom, and Elliott is a happy, healthy baby girl, who is full of smiles.

Kayla has been busy this summer being a bridesmaid for her friend Hannah’s wedding in Huntington Beach, California. The whole family went and had a great time. It was Elliott’s first vacation, and they made some great memories there. Kayla will be a bridesmaid in two more weddings this summer, so the summer is shaping up to be quite busy. Weddings are always fun, and for Kayla to be able to help celebrate with her friends is awesome.

A couple of weeks ago, Kayla started a new job at the VA Hospital in Sheridan, Wyoming on their suicide prevention task force. She has worked hard both studying to become a social worker and in her prior job, but I think that this is going to be the culmination of the vision she had for her career. So far she likes her new job. I think is takes a special kind of person to deal with the stresses and problems of other people, but Kayla has a heart for that, and I know that she is a blessing both to her coworkers and her patients.

Kayla’s family all live in Sheridan, and she still has all four of her grandparents, so her little family has been spending lots of time with all of them. They have started a tradition of getting together for lunch after church on Sundays with a lot of the family joining in. They also go to Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley’s house in the country for dinner on the weekends. Elliott loves to look at the cows and horses. Also, now that the weather is nice, they have been able to come to Casper to visit Garrett’s family, my sister, Alena and her husband Mike, as well as his sisters Michelle and Lacey. Alena and Mike have also had more opportunities to go to Sheridan to visit. Its a busy life in so many ways, but Kayla and Garrett feel very blessed with their little family, and their extended families. Today is Kayla’s birthday. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Alena Stevens has had a dream for a number of years now…to be a grandma. That dream finally came true almost a year ago when her little granddaughter, Elliott Michelle Stevens was born on August 3, 2018, which is also our grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer’s birthday. I know she would have been so happy to have her great great granddaughter born on her birthday. Grandbabies are always wonderful, and it’s especially cool when they become a birthday present too. And it’s cool for everyone, from the parents to the grandparents.

Alena has worked for the Natrona County School District as the Refocus Room teacher for a number of years now. She says that she really has a heart for helping these students get themselves back on track. She understands the emotions they sometimes deal with, and that is not always easy to do. Working in the school district also gives her the summers off, as well as any school holidays and national holidays. That is going to be especially nice for her now, because her son, Garrett, daughter-in-law, Kayla, and little Elliott live in Sheridan and Alena lives in Casper, making it difficult to visit during the school year. Thankfully Sheridan isn’t that far away, so visits are possible on the weekends too.

Alena is a teacher in the Refocus Room at Verda James School, but she is also a great hairstylist and a great interior decorator too. Her home is beautifully decorated, with a style that some of us can only dream of producing in our own homes. She uses everything from wallpaper to stencils to dual colors in a room, to create a warmth and beauty that is just stunning. It is a talent that I wish I had, but I believe it is a gift that not everyone is given. She has an eye for it for sure, and that is what it takes to envision the way a room will look once you put your ideas in place. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My great grand nephew, Jaxx Harman is a sweet little two year old boy, with smiling eyes, and a great personality. He is easy going, probably the result of being the youngest of the three children of his parents, Melanie and Jake Harman, and little brother to two sisters, Alice and Izabella. When a little boy has a mom and two sisters all “mothering” him, he pretty much has to grow up to be very patient. Nevertheless, according to his mom, he can also be whiny and that probably gets him a little bit of leeway when it comes to being ordered around by his sisters.

Alice, being a bit older never had a problem saying Jaxx, but Izabella, being just 17 months older than her brother, has never called him anything, but Bletta!! While I’m sure that name will someday go away, at least as far as Belle is concerned, it will always be one that his parents and grandparents will cherish, and who knows, it may always be his nickname…after all, it is cute. Some nicknames are just destined to stick. Jaxx must like it because he doesn’t say anything about it, even though he is speaking very clearly these days. Of course, just about anything his sisters do is ok with Jaxx, and these days he is capable of following them around, and he likes that new-found ability, and the freedom it brings with it.

While Jaxx loves his sisters very much, a guy really does need to have buddies who share the same interests, and lets face it, girls play differently than boys. That’s where Jaxx’s cousin once removed, Matthew Masterson comes in. Matt and Jaxx have a really great bond, and it doesn’t bother Matt to hang out with a cousin who is so much younger than his own 13 years. Maybe that’s because Matt is also the only boy in a family with three sisters, two of whom still live in the family home. That gives these boys something in common, and whenever Jaxx find out that Matt is coming over, or he is going to Matt’s house, he gets very excited. Finally, somebody who is on his side. Not to mention that Matt likes to hang out with him, which many times doesn’t happen with older boys and their younger cousins. Matt has a kind heart, and I’m sure that is in a big way the thing that attracts Jaxx to him. Today is Jaxx’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Jaxx!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Today marks a proud day in my life, as my granddaughter, Shai Royce takes the first steps in her journey to follow in my footsteps, by becoming a Commercial Lines Processor for Rice Insurance in Bellingham, Washington. The really cool thing is that to a large degree, she is also following in her mother, Amy’s footsteps too. My daughter, Amy is a Personal Lines Account Manager for Rice Insurance, and they will be working across the street from each other, which is awesome!!

Shai’s insurance career actually started when she was just 14 years old, and living in Casper, Wyoming. Her mom and I were both working for Jim Stengel at The Stengel Agency, and we needed a customer service representative to pick some of the slack in our busy office. Enter Shai, who worked for us off and on for a couple of years, taking only a short break when she needed a job with more hours after school. Shai did a great job for us in our office. She learned quickly and she was very helpful. We were sorry to see her go when she moved to Bellingham, Washington to be near her parents and brother. While in Bellingham, Shai worked at several jobs, with the longest one being Red Robin, and the last one being Mako Fly Reels. Shai liked her jobs, and especially the people she worked with, but the jobs just weren’t fulfilling for a girl with Shai’s abilities, and her prior training, so when an opening came up in her mom’s company, Shai applied for and won the job.

Today is the first day of Shai’s new career. I am very excited for her as she begins this great new journey in her life. Since I have been both a personal lines agent, and a commercial lines agent, I can say while there was much to learn in commercial lines, it feels great to be able to help a business owner with the coverages they need to protect their business, so they can focus on making a success of their business. I know that because Shai is starting this career at a younger age than I did, she will have the years ahead of her to become a great commercial processor, and maybe further than that if she is interested in becoming an agent or an account manager like her mom. I think it’s awesome that Shai is going to be working in the same great company as her mom, and following in her mom’s footsteps and in mine. Have a great first day on the job, Shai!! We are all very proud of you!!

It is a rite of passage…turn 16, get your drivers license. For my grand nephew, Xander Spethman, today is that rite of passage day. Soon he will be able to take himself out on dates and not have to find a ride. He will be able to drive himself to school, and of course, run errands for his parents. I’m not sure how long that will be fun, but most kids like it for a while, because it means they get to drive. Nevertheless, I think that Xander’s younger siblings will reap the benefits of Xander having a driver’s license.

When it comes to school, Xander is all about football…with a little studying on the side. He is a great player, and already has colleges looking at him for recruitment, and offering every type of scholarship imaginable, to meet his every academic desire. Not bad for a kid who is just a freshman in high school. Xander has always been good in sports, and especially in football. He just understands the sport and what he needs to do to be successful in the sport. Last year, Xander went to football camp at Black Hill State University, and really learned a lot. He plans to attend the same camp this year, but he as also been invited to a camp at the Colorado School of Mines for their football camp. They are interested in looking at Xander for recruitment into their football program. It’s an exciting offer for a kid of his young age.

Of course it isn’t the only sport he is good at. Xander, like every member of his family knows how to shoot a gun and how to be safe with one. His dad, Steve takes Xander and brothers Zack and Isaac hunting very year, and this year they also plan to do some fishing. Xander and his family have always been close, and while Xander’s interests are changing, I know that he will always enjoy the “man sports” with his dad and brothers. And of course, Xander is an amazing gentleman to his mom, Jenny and his little sister, Aleesia, and to all women. They always know that the men of the family are there to protect them. Xander is quickly becoming a man, and he is going to do amazing things in his future life. Today is Xander’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Weston Moore is graduating from high school today and I find it hard to believe that it has already been that many years since he was born. Weston is the oldest son of my niece Machelle Moore and her husband, Steve. He has a younger brother named Easton. Weston was destined to be tall from the moment he was born. He comes from tall stock…with his grandfather, Lynn Cook, who is 6 foot 6 inches, his dad who is well over six feet and his mom who is close to six feet, he is destined to be tall. Last night when we were visiting, he said that someone had measured him and he was 6 feet 5 inches.

Weston recently got a job at Verizon in Powell, and he plans to work for a year before pursuing his higher education. Sometimes, that is a nice thing for a student. Thirteen years of public school is s long time, and sometimes a break is needed before moving on in life. It’s also nice to have the opportunity to brag to younger siblings and cousins when they head back to school and you don’t have to. Nevertheless, pretty soon you begin to think that maybe it is time to get on with it and go back to school. I’m sure that time will come for Weston before the year is over.

Weston’s is considering his options for college, and is looking at Sheridan College, because they have one of the best culinary arts programs. Being a chef is something he has wanted for some time now. Since my grandson, Chris Petersen went through the program, I can say that it is an excellent program, and Chris learned so much in his time there.

Wherever life takes Weston next and in the future, I know that he will do well. He knows how to work hard and doesn’t mind the hard work. When he puts his mind to it, I know he will excel in any endeavor. Today begins the journey into the rest of your life, Weston. Today you cross the threshold between being a kid and being a man. You are a kind and loving man who will go far in this world. I am so excited to see what the next chapter of your life will bring for you. Congratulations on your graduation from high school!! We are all so proud of you!!

For my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens, this has been an incredible year. Probably the greatest year since the year his first child, Michelle was born. This was the year Mike became a grandfather to his granddaughter, Elliott Michelle Stevens. Elliott was born on August 3, 2018. Her parents are Mike and my sister, Alena Stevens’ son, Garrett and his wife Kayla Stevens. Becoming grandparents was something Mike and Alena have been waiting to be for a long time to be grandparents, and little Elliott has fulfilled a very special dream of theirs. Mike and Alena are very family oriented, and adding a granddaughter takes their family life into a whole new dimension…a very special dimension.

Mike is a sports fanatic, and loves to share his knowledge with his kids and maybe down the road, his granddaughter. Mike knows a lot about sports, any sports. Not everybody who likes sports, really understand the logistics of the sport, but Mike understands it. Summertime brings different kinds of sports. Mike loves softball, and sometimes is on a team. This year Mike and Alena bought a new 4-wheeler, and they are looking forward to spending lots of time on the mountain riding around on the 4-wheeler. In fact, they had planned a weekend on the mountain for Mike’s birthday, but the weather refused to cooperate…something many of us are disgusted with. Hopefully this spring/summer won’t prove to be ultra-rainy, so they will have lots of time to use their new toy.

Another of the sports that Mike likes is the yearly family camping trip to Boysen Reservoir, where they hold the Stevens’ Family Horseshoe Tournament. The whole Stevens family looks forward to the trip each year, and they really feel cheated out of summer if they don’t get to go. They have a traveling trophy for each event, and it is a fight to the finish to see who will take that trophy home this year. Everyone hates to lose, because to win means that you get bragging rights for a whole year. Now that can be bad for the losers. That said, we wish everyone good luck this year. Today is Mike’s birthday. Congratulations on becoming a grandpa this year, Mike. I know you are loving it. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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