Grandchildren

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Twenty seven years…it can seem like a lifetime, or as is the case with my daughter, Corrie Petersen, and her husband, Kevin, it can fly by so quickly that it seems impossible that it has been that many years already. Corrie and Kevin began dating when she was just 15 and he was 19. They fell in love almost instantly, and they have never looked back. They married two weeks after Corrie turned 18.

So many things have changed over the course of 27 years. Two sons were born into their union, Christopher and Joshua. They were blessed with much love in their home, which they purchased almost immediately after their marriage, with the down payment coming from a car accident that occurred on their honeymoon. Kevin and his dad, Dean knew how to do bodywork on cars and to paint them, so much of the payment for their damages was left to them following the accident that was the fault of the other driver…who was an honest kid, who accepted the blame and was just thankful that no one was hurt.

Over the years, Corrie and Kevin have had a number of pets, from their first…a Dalmatian puppy, to their currents…a Scottie, two Dachshunds, and a cat. Their love of pets is quite evident, and they have been equally blessed in return. The also shared their love of pets with their sons, who both have pets in their homes, now that they are grown.

With the adulthood of their children, came more changes. the empty nest that many people dread, was not their favorite time, but they have adjusted to it, and the addition of Chris’ fiancée, his little daughter, and with a son to follow in November, life is getting better and better every day. Both of their sons were able to keep their jobs during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and in fact were considered “essential workers,” which helped to alleviate any financial concerns for Corrie and Kevin, concerning their children. Life has been good to them, and the love in their family is filled to overflowing. Twenty seven years have flown by, which is exactly what happens when you are having fun. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 27th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you both!!

My grandson, Caalab Royce is a hard worker, who is also very loyal. He stayed at a job he had at Red Robin in Bellingham, Washington, much longer than he really wanted to, but every time he considered quitting, they gave him a raise. So, he stayed and he did a good job for them. Nevertheless, eventually that was not going to be enough, so when he was offered a job as an apprentice in the HVAC industry, he told Red Robin goodbye. I know they were very sad to see him go, as he had been their best worker, but they could see the value in what he was going to do, and they wished him well.

Caalab loves his new job, and who can blame him, really. Yes, the work is hard, but they spend a lot of time on the islands around the Pacific Northwest, and since ferry rides to work are a rather slow-go, the crew usually flies to the job once the trucks are there. Many jobs take several days, so the first day, the trucks and equipment are taken to the site, and after that, the crew flies in each day, over the beautiful island views. So…how’s your commute? I know Caalab’s commute is a lot of fun, and I wish I could ride along just once. Caalab has sent me videos of his commute, and it is just beautiful. He spends a lot of time at Friday Harbor, which is one of my favorite places among the islands there. Of course, I go as a tourist, and have time to spend doing what I like, including whale watching, but he goes to work, so it is different, but he has sent pictures of the amazing views too, so it doesn’t seem like he has it too tough.

Caalab has always had a way with animals, including wild animals. Once at my house, a squirrel climbed up his pant leg and continued toward his shoulder…until Caalab’s face appeared, and the squirrel realized what he was doing. He ran away very quickly then. Recently, when the crew arrived at the job site, the men saw a bird with a string wrapped around it’s wing. The bird was in real trouble. The guys caught the bird and removed the string. Afterward, the bird wasn’t in a real hurry to leave, and it sat on Caalab’s hand for about 5 minutes, until Caalab tossed it into the air and it flew away. It was as if the bird wanted to stay for just a few minutes to say, “Thank you, for saving my life.” It was a really special moment for Caalab, who said it was “straight out of a movie.”

Of course, Caalab isn’t all about his job either. These days, he is “all about Chloe!!” Chloe Foster is the love of his life, and such a sweet girl that everyone can see why he loves her. Everybody has that one person who is just perfect for them, and Chloe is Caalab’s “just perfect” one. He will be the first to tell you that she “completes him” and anyone who knows them can clearly see that it’s true. It seems to me that Caalab flies to work, and floats home. It’s a great commute, wouldn’t you agree? Today is Caalab’s birthday. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Caalab Royce met a girl a while back and they have been almost inseparable ever since. Her name is Chloe Foster, and she is as sweet as she can be. These kids are perfect for each other. Both are dedicated to their families and to each other’s family too…and the cool thing is that their families like each other too. It’s always special when you can join two families…because the kids got together. When Caalab met Chloe, his whole life changed. I really didn’t hear about anything else but Chloe, and when we met her, we could see what he saw in her. Her personality was totally infectious, and I enjoyed meeting her very much.

As Chloe’s birthday approached I began to wonder about this girl who holds my grandson’s heart. I knew that she is studying criminal justice in college, and that she is a Christian, which makes me very happy. She has a sweet spirit, which I have seen in the things she posts. Caalab tells me that she has been spending part of the “shelter-at-home” time in which we have all found ourselves, studying the Bible. She is a girl who prays and allows God to lead her in the way she should go. These kinds of things make my heart glad.

Chloe is also a very talented artist. She recently sat down and is just a few hours she had painted a watercolor picture of Bob Marley. Caalab really likes Bob Marley, so he was very impressed with her work. I don’t know too much about Bob Marley, but I know enough to recognize him in her painting. She did a good job. Recently, I friended Chloe’s mom on Facebook, and when looking at her pictures, I saw some of the funnier ways that Chloe uses her artwork…namely, greeting cards. I won’t display them here, but let’s just say she thanked her parents for their part in giving her life…her mom for Chloe’s first home, and her dad for putting her and her brothers, Tyson and Tanner, in the race in the first place. The cards were tastefully done, and very sweet in a funny sort of way, but they told me more about this girl who has loved cows for much of her life. I thought it funny, when my granddaughter, Shai Royce, Caalab’s sister, told me to buy Chloe something with a cow on it for Christmas…now, I can see that Shai knows Chloe pretty well. Shai loves Chloe as much (well almost as much) as Caalab does. As a grandmother, I can say it is heartwarming to know that someone cares so much for my grandson…that she not only holds his heart, but she protects it too. Today is Chloe’s birthday. Happy birthday Chloe!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I have known my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely since she was just 13 years old. Jennifer was just coming into her own, and she had a confidence and sophistication about her that were beyond her years. Jennifer wasn’t shy, and that made her easy to talk to, and made people want to be around her. She was a sweet girl, and I loved her immediately. I had little sisters, but now, with Jennifer and her 11 year old sister, Brenda Schulenberg, I had two more. I also got a little brother, Ron Schulenberg, and two older sisters, Debbie Cook and Marlyce Schulenberg.

Watching Jennifer grow up, I knew she had so much potential. She got a job at the hospital as a Candy Striper, as they were called then. I’m not sure what they are called now. By the time she was 17 she knew that she wanted to be a nurse, and more specifically, a Labor and Delivery Nurse. Her dream has never changed, and she worked very hard to get the degree she needed to reach her goal. She went to work at Wyoming Medical Center, and has been helping deliver babies since that time. After a number of years at Wyoming Medical Center, she is getting ready to retire in the next few years. Then she will be free to enjoy her activities and her four grandchildren, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve, her kids, and her partner Brian Cratty.

Jennifer has been an inspiration to us for all these years, and having her there to help with baby delivery, has been the greatest blessing of all. She especially inspired my daughter, Corrie who has decided to follow in her Aunt Jennifer’s footsteps by becoming a nurse too. Jennifer has inspired many of us. Her healthy eating habits, and her exercising have been something the whole family we have all watched for over 25 years. We also wished we were as dedicated to health as she was. Her hiking, jogging, and skiing have given all of us ideas about what we might like to do, and who we want to be when we grow up…hahahaha!! Even those of us who are older than Jennifer. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When it comes to birthdays, my granddaughter, Shai Royce is still losing ground. While most people who were born in 1996 are turning 24 years old this year, Shai is still spinning her training wheels at 6 years old. Of course, it all started 24 years ago, and when it came time for Shai’s first birthday, it was mysteriously missing. February 28th arrived, and her cousin, Chris turned 1 year old, but then the date went to March 1st, and Shai’s birthday was not there. The same thing happened when Chris turned 2 years old and 3 years old, and Shai’s birthday was missing both times. Then, when Chris turned 4 years old, Shai’s birthday suddenly reappeared, but the damage had been done. Chris was 4 years old, and Shai was only 1 year old. Shai has been continuing to lose ground in this manner ever since that time. This year, Chris is 24 years old, and Shai is only 6 years old…and yet, they were born one day apart. Shai has been getting ripped off ever since.

People born on February 29th go through this situation every year. Their birthdays are not guaranteed. They get them, but only every 4th year. Most of them really like it, however, because let’s face it…it is unique!! Everyone wants their birthday to be special, but for the Leap Day Baby, birthdays are the most unique of all. On the off years, they can pick their day…the 28th or the 1st, or they can just celebrate both days. Then, on their on year, many of them have an extra big blow out bash!! It’s a win-win situation. Their payback for those missed birthday years.

Shai has several things that make her unique including her birthday. Her name is unique…at least in the United States. Shai is a Hebrew name that means gift…and that she is, but this year she has one other unique credit to add to her repertoire. Shai is quite possibly the youngest licensed insurance agent ever!! I mean, how many 6 year old insurance agents do you know? I would guess none!! Shai is a wonderfully unique kind of girl, and I’m very proud of all she has accomplished. Today is Shai’s 6th official birthday!! Happy (unofficial) 24th birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Chris Petersen, has had a busy couple of years. He became a dad, when his daughter was born on May 30, 2018. It was the happiest day of their lives. Before long it became apparent that the condo he had owned was going to be too small very soon. So this year they bought a new house, and they are very happy with their decision. They have been busily decorating the house to make it cozy and homey. A condo can be a home, but many people feel more at home in a house. Chris has been painting his daughter’s bedroom, a pink sparkle, because it is fit for a princess. Her throw rug is a furry pink explosion, and it’s soft and cozy. Her bedroom is every bit a little castle.

Being a dad has been such a wonderful event for Chris. Like most dads, he quickly found himself wrapped around his daughter’s baby finger. I like to tease new Dad’s about living wrapped around their child’s finger. It’s because they fall so completely in love with their child, that nothing else in life matters. That child is their whole world. It’s fun to watch as these macho-men turn into these totally complacent docile men who would play tea party and fairy princess just because their little girl wants them to.

Of course, these men try not to admit it, but one look at their little princess, and they are hooked. They will never be the same again. That little girl “owns” them, and you know what…that is ok!! For Chris, two girls have won his heart, his daughter, and her mommy. Life just doesn’t get any sweeter than that. He lives his girls, and they love him, and that is the greatest thing on Earth. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Allyn Hadlock and her husband, Chris recently inherited the land his parents had owned, and the home where Chris grew up. The house was old, and had to be torn down, but they built a beautiful new home in its place. The move was a dream come true for Chris, to live in his childhood home again after his parents passed, but while my sister loved her in-laws very much, I was still surprised to see the joyous transformation that occurred in her when they began the work. Allyn has always been all about family, and she loved her in-laws very much, but this was different. It was like she became a kid again, just like Chris had done at the prospect of living in his childhood home again. They really love it out there in the country, by the river. It’s peaceful and they have plenty of space for the kids to run around and have fun.

The home is done now, and they are living there. The child-like elation has very much continued. At Christmas, they hosted the family Christmas party, and we all had a great time, but it was more than that. Recently, they had a gathering of their family at the house, and the reality hit me. They had started their second childhood. With the recent snows, and the perfect sledding hill right in their back yard. Having the kids out to go sledding is a pretty normal activity, but the grandparents don’t always get out there to go sledding with the kids. Still, its not like my sister and her husband are…old. She is seven years younger than I am, and my husband, Bob and I love to hike…some pretty difficult trails. That said, while physically, I could go sledding, I’ve never particularly been a snow and cold kind of person, so sledding is not an activity that is on my radar, but it apparently is something that is on their radar, and they truly love doing it. That’s obvious.

Nevertheless, for my sister and her husband, who have a number of smaller grandchildren, it was the perfect kind of day. Looking at all the pictures my nieces, Jessi Sawdon and Kellie Hadlock took, and the stories they told, I could clearly see that the day was very special to all of them. My sister is all about her family. She is a wonderful mom and grandma, as well as a wonderful wife to Chris. They have a great place now, out in the country with a great hill to sled on and the river nearby for summer fun. It is a dream come true for both of them, and I am very happy they have this place, I also know that Chris’ parents would be thrilled to see their home continue to be home to their family. They would love that the children are back running around the place having the time of their lives. And I think they would be smiling. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband’s grandmother, Vina Hein was a remarkable woman. I was quite impressed with her work ethic. That might seem a funny thing to say about a woman who no longer worked outside the home, but she was, nevertheless, dedicated to he work…her home. For most of her life, she lived as a pioneer woman, because while her home had many things, and was a normal stick built home, it did not have an indoor bathroom, even though the bathroom was somewhat completed. Water was the main concern, as well water was used, and there is always the concern of a well running dry, I suppose.

Grandma was born on Groundhog Day, February 2, 1909. Of course, we all know that the ground hog has a 50-50 chance of guessing right concerning winter, and I personally think that the latest Punxsutawney Phil, maybe doesn’t have its act together. Todays prediction was for an early spring, but…time will tell. According to statistics, the groundhog saw its shadow in 1909, so that should have been six more weeks of winter. I have no idea what the winter ended up like in Montana, but knowing what Montana winters are usually like, In would be surprised if the winter ended early.

Grandma Hein saw many changes over the years of her life. From the early days of automobiles and airplanes to the more modern days of both before her passing. She saw telephones, and even the early days of cell phones. She was able to travel to the places where her children moved, and meet grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even 2nd great grandchildren. She lived a long and happy life, and yet we still never felt like she was with us long enough. Today, Grandma would have been 111 years old, but that would have been an unlikely birthday to have happened. Nevertheless, happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma Hein. We love and miss you very much.

Without a doubt, the greatest thing to happen to a person in life is becoming a parent. That is the life change that happened to my grand-niece, Siara Olsen and her husband, Nick on October 28, 2019. Now, Siara is celebrating her first birthday since becoming “Mommy” to little Alec Todd Olsen. It is so hard to believe that Siara could be a mom already, and yet, she has stepped into the role as naturally as if she had been a mom for years. Watching her hold her baby puts a smile on my face, and the faces of all her family too. She just looks so content…and, so does Alec. There is nothing like having a baby to snuggle with, to bring home just how precious life is.

Siara is a bubbly, sweet girl who is very capable in her job at Platte Valley Bank, here is Casper, Wyoming, where she works as a personal banker. I don’t think there is one customer at the bank who doesn’t know Siara by the smile on her face and her sweet personality. Of course, going back to work after giving birth to Alec wasn’t easy, as any mother who worked, knows well. I felt so bad for her, because I know how short maternity leave is, when it comes right down to it. Eight weeks or whatever amount each mother has, seems like a long time…if you are waiting for your baby’s birth!! Once your baby has arrived, eight weeks is nothing. It’s over almost in an instant, and leaving your child in daycare, even if you know the people well, is heart wrenching. Eventually thought, you get used to it, and while you miss your baby terribly, you begin to look forward to the end of your work day, when you will be reunited with that sweet bundle of joy. Then, when you pick him up from daycare, your whole world is smiling again. And then, Siara and Nick have the whole evening to enjoy their precious little son, who keeps them smiling with his sweet little face, filled with smiles. The evenings are just perfect for this young family.

Now that little Alec is here, life for Siara and Nick is always looking up. I think that most parents can relate to the tremendous joy they feel with each new day. With each smile, each landmark, each passing year, and each new sibling that comes along after Alec, life will continue to get better and better for them. I am so happy for Siara, as she celebrates her first birthday as a mommy, and for Nick too, as he celebrates his family. The future is bright for both of them, and I look forward to watching little Alec grow up and be such a great blessing to his parents and his family. Today is Siara’s birthday. Happy birthday “Mommy” Siara. Have a great day!! We love you!!

Few days make me dread writing my daily story, but then few days in my life have marked the beginning of such drastic change in my life either. It was December 12, 2007, twelve years ago, and my dad, Allen Spencer had been sick, or recovering for a little over two years, after being hit by Pancreatitis on October 1, 2005. My sisters and I had been caring for Dad, and our mom, Collene Spencer, who was diagnosed with Large Diffuse B-Cell Lymphoma in her brain in July of 2006. Mom’s tumor was gone quickly, and there were no other serious concerns with her, but Dad’s care required much more. Everything seemed to be going well, but Dad’s liver was giving out due to the intravenous feeding, something we couldn’t really see…or at least something we didn’t know to expect as a possibility.

My dad had always been the “rock” of our family. None of us ever considered that he was not as strong as he once had been. We knew that no matter what was going on around us, Dad always knew what to do about any problem. It was a very comforting feeling in a family where he was the only original male. Of course, his daughters were married now, and a few grandsons had also been added to the mix, but for our childhood years, my sisters, Cheryl, Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I were the kids they had, and so Dad was the only male. He was used to being the man with the answers, and we always looked to him when we needed those answers. It was difficult to see him in a state of weakness, but we would fight for his survival with all we had…never expecting to lose the fight.

With Dad’s passing on that awful December day, our world was forever changed. We were now going to need to take care of our mom, who needed us more than ever. While her health was ok, she didn’t drive anymore, and wasn’t as mobile as she had been before. We had promised Dad, we would take care of her, and as with Dad, we wouldn’t have it any other way for Mom. It wasn’t just the change is our care structure that changed either. Everything changed with Dad’s passing.

We had seriously never expected to live on this earth without our parents, and now that entire perspective had changed. We knew that very likely the day would come when both parents and our parents-in-law would be gone. We knew that we were going to be the leaders of our families. It was up to us to keep our families close, as Mom and Dad would have wanted us to do. There would now be great grandchildren who have never met their Great Grandpa Spencer, and later Great Grandma Spencer. It was up to us to tell the kids about their great grandparents, so they wouldn’t be forgotten. t was up to us to tell them that their Great Grandpa Spencer was a World War II Veteran, who fought bravely for his country…to make sure that his legacy lived on. It is a big responsibility, and sometimes seems impossible, but we must, because our Dad showed us the way we should live, and we must now live it. There is no other choice. Twelve years ago today, my dad began his life in Heaven, and we miss him every day. We can’t wait until we will be reunited again. We love you Dad.

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