Grandchildren

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My brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has always loved the outdoors. In fact, for years, he my sister, Allyn and their family have gone camping during his birthday week. They usually go to Red Lodge, Montana, but this year he and Allyn did something a little different. This year, they went to Canada to spend the week in a houseboat, along with my sister, Caryl Reed and her husband, Mike; and my sister, Alena Stevens and her husband Mike. I know they are going to have a great time, and I can’t wait to see pictures of their trip. It’s such a unique kind of a trip, and I know they are all going to have a really great week. It will be a trip to remember, that’s for sure.

This year seems to be shaping up to be one of change for Chris. He retired from the Casper Police Department on June 30th, after 27 years in law enforcement. During those yeas, he served the people of Casper and Natrona County capably and honorably. It has been a strange things for all of us to know that Chris is no longer a police officer. I also think that his retirement is a great loss to the Casper Police Department. Chris worked in so many areas of the department. He was a patrol officer for a number of years, then a supervisor and training officer. Later he hired new officers, and finally he was the supervisor of the detectives. His ability to do any job and do it well, is what made him such an asset to the department. Nevertheless, careers must come to an end sometime, and this was Chris’ time. I know that his new job will be a good career move too, and I am happy for him. Police work is stressful, and it’s time for him to de-stress.

Chris is rocking the career of grandpa too these days. He has three grandchildren so far, and they love to hang out with their grandpa. One of the things they really like to do is to listen to Chris play the guitar. He has been playing for most of his life, and I know his own kids loved to sit and listen to him play too. Now the next generation of kids are learning to love music from him as well. His youngest grandchild, Adelaide loves to help her grandpa play the guitar, and I’m sure the others did too. It is just so wonderful to be a grandparent. You aren’t the disciplinarian, and there is no pressure to be that. You just get to be to person they want to be with as much as they can. They want to spend the night, and do the things you are doing, even if it’s work! If their grandparents are doing something, it must be the coolest thing in the world. There is just something about being a grandparent. It’s such an honor to watch the next generation of the sweet family you started, expanding to include these new little babies. That’s how Chris and Allyn are feeling now, and how they will feel far into the future. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As a little kid, my grandson, Caalab Royce, like most kids was a typically goofy kid. He always had a great sense of humor, and loved making people laugh. He didn’t even have to try to make jokes, it just came naturally…and it still does. Caalab loved long hair, and even as a little baby, he carefully played with my hair every chance he got. As a little bit bigger boy, he caught the attention of everyone at church when he would climb up on the chair whenever we stood to sing, and started to play with my hair. It really was the cutest thing, and very endearing. Caalab was the kid who always loved to come to his grandparents house to spend the night. He stayed with us longer than any of the other grandchildren. It did make it hard to have him and his sister, Shai move away when their parents, my daughter Amy and her husband Travis moved to Washington.

Now that Caalab is a grown man, turning twenty today, he is proving to be a wonderful man. As his mom said, he is getting really good at adulting. Amy tells me that Caalab has done very well at doing all of the things that adults should do…paying his bills and never borrowing money, going to work on time and doing his job, and being a responsible adult. Caalab and Shai, his sister, got an apartment together about six months ago, and they have been exceptional roommates and friends. I remember how much they fought when they were little kids, and even as teenagers, and I wondered how well they would do as roommates, but I can proudly say they have been stellar roommates. Shai has even told me that Caalab has become a very clean adult. Most kids, and especially boys, are messy, and some never get out of it, but Caalab grew out of it, and Shai is very thankful.

Caalab, Shai, and their parents, Amy and Travis have started bowling on a league together. It is really the first time Caalab has bowled very much, and they had a great time. Caalab ended the year with a 127 average, and that is really good for a new bowler. Bowling is a traditional sport in our family, so it’s fun to watch the next generation coming into their own in the sport I grew up loving. I know that they will have a great time. In everything Caalab has done in his life, I can say that I am extremely pleased with all of his accomplishments. He is a wonderful young man, and I am very proud of him. Today is Caalab’s birthday. Happy 20th birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Seven days might seem like enough time when your kids come home for a visit, but when it comes time for them to leave, you find that it is definitely not enough time. Of course, deep down, you knew it wouldn’t be, you just hoped that you could cram everything you wanted to say and do into the short amount of time you had. Then, almost before the visit started, it’s time to say goodbye again. That’s how my Casper family feels every time our Washington family comes for a visit, and I’m sure that’s how they feel whenever we go to visit there too. Included in the visit is always a certain amount stress and pressure, both for them and for us, because they are trying to make time for their family…and their friends, and we are trying to spend as much time as possible with them. No one wants to share them exactly…selfish, I know, but when they are your babies, you tend to get a little bit selfish.

This trip home for my daughter, Amy Royce and her kids, Shai and Caalab, was to attend the graduation of my youngest grandson, Josh Petersen. The trip was wonderful, as we attended his graduation party, awards ceremony, and of course, the graduation. We went out to eat, and just sat around and talked, and we even had an early birthday party for Amy. We laughed, talked, and when I was given Friday off, we even did pedicures. The kids hooked up with all their friends, and for the most part, decided that sleep was an unnecessary vice best left to old people…and apparently mornings fell into that same category. Still, they all did their best to divide their time with family and friends as fairly as possible. Nevertheless, to my “mother’s heart” it was not enough time. I found myself wishing that I could turn back time to the first day of their arrival…over and over again.

Try as I might, before we knew it, the last day arrived. Amy had planned a friends night to get all her friends together at once, and it went very well. I made the bold move to “horn in” on the action, even though it was supposed to be for her friends, and they graciously accepted my intrusion. My only regret was that I should have “horned in” my other daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin, who I thought were spending the day with their son, Josh, who went back to Bellingham with Amy, Shai, and Caalab this morning to spend his Senior Trip with them. I suppose I should have realized that Josh would be attending the graduation parties of his friends, but I wasn’t thinking very clearly, because the kids were leaving and I was dreading the tearful goodbyes I knew were inevitable. Hindsight is 20/20. As I contemplate the visit that we had, mixed with the sad goodbyes, a thought came to me…”Goodbyes are always hard, but I’m very thankful that we can look forward to the next hello.”

When a child is born, you think about what they will become. Your thoughts drift to the future…that seems so distant, and you think to yourself, “The future is still so far away.” Then, much sooner than you ever thought possible, the future arrives, and your little baby is suddenly 18 years old, and graduating from high school. Then you think, “Where have the years gone?” It doesn’t matter if that child is your child or your grandchild either. The future arrives so fast. I’ve said it many times before. When you look at that precious baby, you must be aware that next week, they will be graduating from high school, and going off to make their own way in the world. In time and space, it may not be a week, but it will most certainly feel like it was.

That is where my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin find themselves today as their son, Joshua
Petersen graduates from Kelly Walsh High School. Josh has changed so much over the years. His beginning was a little rocky, as he jumped the gun and arrived five weeks early. After spending two weeks in Denver, at Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital, Josh was finally ready to come home and join the rest of his family. His rocky start over now, Josh quickly ate everything is sight, trying to make up for lost time, I think. Yes, Josh has changed in many ways, but in many other ways, he has not changed at all. He has always been a wonderful young man with a caring heart, and in that way, he will never change. He is so considerate of the feelings of others.

As the years have passed, we saw in Josh a gentleness and sincere caring for those in need of health care. When he was just six years old, he started helping take care of his grandparents, and he continued doing that until three had passed away, and the last one was in a nursing home. Josh was meticulous with their care. If you showed him how to do something, he did it exactly that way. For that reason, I was not surprised when Josh announced, “I want to be a firefighter.” I don’t think there was a shocked face in the place. Now, I know that a lot of kids say they want to be a firefighter, but Josh meant it. He even began taking Boces classes toward his degree in high school. Josh is so driven, so goal oriented, and that makes me so proud of him. I have no doubt that he will be arriving at his life’s destination very quickly. The years have flown by far too fast. It seems like Josh should still be little boy, and yet here he is at the threshold of adulthood. Josh, we are so proud of your hard work and perseverance. I know that you will go far in life and in your chosen field. We are so very proud of your abilities, drive, and mostly your kind heart. Congratulations on your graduation!!

Leap Day Babies, by definition are numerically challenged…not age challenged or mathematically challenged, although both of those things come into play…simply numerically challenged. Things just never quite add up for them. They start off behind the rest of the kids born that year, because when that first birthday rolls around, the other kids turn one, but a Leap Day Baby only turns ¼. It’s because the 29th of February only happens every four years. I call those other three years nano-birthdays, because the birthday arrives somewhere between 11:59:59pm and 12:00am. It is a nano-second in time, and that is when that missing birthday occurs. Even their younger siblings pass Leap Day Babies up. The Leap Day Baby is pretty good at fractions, however, because after their first year of life, they are ¼. After their second year of life, they are ½. And after their third year of life, they are ¾. It isn’t until their fourth year of life that the Leap Day Baby turns 1. This is a fact of life that my granddaughter, Shai Royce has had to live with since her birth 21 years ago. She wasn’t always sure she liked it, because the boys, her brother, Caalab Royce, and cousins, Chris and Josh Petersen loved to tease her by saying, “I’m older than you” and it was true in every way except the number of years each had spent on the earth.

Nevertheless, Leap has it’s privileges. While the boys had to wait until they turned 16 to get their driver’s license, Shai got to get hers at the age of 4. She got to graduate from high school at the age of 4½. One of the biggest privileges Shai has as a Leap Day Baby is the fact that she can celebrate her nano-birthdays on either the 28th of February or the 1st of March…or both. Her grandpa and I have our anniversary on March 1st, so we liked sharing our anniversary with her on those nano-years, but often it seems that Shai likes to celebrate it on the 28th of February. That has been a distinct advantage for Shai and every other Leap Day Baby…the ability to honestly have an early birthday. This birthday has been a particularly cool one for Shai…especially in the early birthday department, because how many kids say that they actually got to legally drink the day before their 21st birthday? Only the Leap Day Baby. And since the government doesn’t even know what to do about the matter exactly, they even made it legal for her to cheat the system and start legally drinking the day before her birthday.

I guess that while Leap Day Babies only get a birthday once every four years, Leap really does have it’s privileges. For now, Shai might like being older sooner, but some day she will seriously appreciate the fact that she only ages every four years. Today is Shai’s Nano-21st-Birthday. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes the age your kids or grandkids are turning on their birthday has a tendency to shock you. That is where I am on this, my oldest grandchild, Chris Petersen’s 21st birthday. It just seems completely impossible that he could be 21 years old today. Chris has come so far. He finished college last year, and he is busy setting himself up in his chosen career. He has a degree in Culinary Arts, and his work is beautiful. I know that Chris will go far in this field, but I suspect that it will happen down the road a bit, when he is able to open his own restaurant. For now, he is busy getting some experience in all aspects of the restaurant business so that he will know what things that make a restaurant successful and what things make one fail.

A few months ago, Chris moved out of his parents home, and into an apartment of his own. He is enjoying his new found independence. Of course, it wasn’t like he wasn’t independent before, but when you live under your parents roof, there are still certain rules you have to abide by. By the same token, when you live on your own, you don’t have anyone else’s rules to follow, but you are the one responsible for your own bills and such too, so I guess it’s a trade off. Still, I don’t know of a single kid who has moved out on their own, who didn’t think it was worth the trade off in the end. Chris is no different than any other kid, moving out for the first time. He is adjusting to new things, and he really misses his family, especially hanging out with his little brother, Josh Petersen. I suppose that is why Josh has stayed the night several times. Brothers just need to hang out.

All that change is one thing, but the biggest change for Chris and every other kid turning 21 is the legal drinking age. Gone are the days of trying to con his parents into letting him have a sip, trying to find someone to buy beer for you, or going to a party and hoping you don’t get caught. Now I don’t know if Chris ever did any of those things or not, and as the grandma, I can feign innocence, and assume he would never do such a thing. It is my right. Nevertheless, today, Chris is of legal age to have a drink if he wants to. That is sure going to take some getting used to. He is still too young in my mind, so to see him drinking a beer with the guys will be one of those shocking moments for sure!! Nevertheless, that day has come. Today is my grandson, Chris Petersen’s 21st birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day, and make sure you always have a designated driver!! We love you!!

For as long as I have known my husband, Bob Schulenberg, he has attracted the little girls. It surprises me every time I see it happen, although it probably shouldn’t by now. Bob got used to little girls when he became a daddy, first to our daughter, Corrie Petersen, and then our daughter, Amy Royce. They thought their daddy hung the moon, and I had to agree with them…he has always been a special kind of guy. Still, I can’t quite understand why it is always the little girls who tend to flock to Bob. It’s not little kids in general…it’s little girls. Of course, the little boys like him too…especially his grandsons, but the little boys are usually not the ones who come running up to Bob, or shyly wave at him, even when they don’t know him…that is the little girls. Of course, Bob would never pickup a little girl who was not the child of a friend, but that does not stop them from saying “Hi” and waving at him. Our own girls loved hanging out with their dad, and if he was working on a vehicle, they might be lifted up to stand on the bumper or they might be riding their bicycle nearby. Our grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen, also loved to be picked up by their Papa, and to this day, he is their go-to mechanic when something is wrong with their vehicles, or anything else he can help with.

One little girl in particular, Brooke Cardinal, who passed away at seven and who we miss very much, was very taken with Bob. Her grandpa, our friend Edd Cardinal ran the bowling alley in Casper, and both our family and his spent a lot of time down there. Brooke couldn’t wait for Bob to come in on bowling nights. She was waiting at the door for her hug. I even teased her mom, Dani Cardinal that Bob had a girlfriend. She was ready to kill him for cheating on me, until she found out that his “girlfriend” was her own little Brooke, who was about four years old then. Bob was forgiven for having a girlfriend, but the “girlfriends” didn’t stop there. Whenever we go to a restaurant and there is a little girl around, they always notice and wave to Bob. When we are out walking on the trail, at Sunrise Shopping Center, or the mall, little girls wave. And on New Year’s Eve, the next generation of girlfriends obviously arrived, when my grandniece, Aleesia Spethman took a shine to Bob, and hung around him much of the night.

Bob is a great guy, with a gentle heart, and that is one of the things that attracted me to him in the first place, but never in a million years would I have expected that every little girl within a mile radius of him would seek him out for the sole purpose of saying “Hi” and waving at him. It’s almost like he is a little girl magnet. Some day, maybe I’ll figure out just what it is about Bob that catches their eye, but until that day, and even beyond, I’m sure, I will have to share him with every little girl who comes into view, because he sure attracts them.

My youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock has always been the sweetest one of us all, and I don’t say that to sound like the rest of us are horrible hags, because that isn’t the case at all. It’s just that if you ask any one of my other three sisters or me, what one thing we all agreed on concerning Allyn, it was that “Allyn was always good.” As a little girl, our mom couldn’t spank or even yell at Allyn, because she would become so broken hearted…when Mom simply told her no-no. Allyn just has a very tender heart, to this day. Being tender hearted can have it’s really good side too. Allyn has a kind way about her, and it is not something that goes unnoticed in any setting. Everyone notices her kindness and sweet ways.

Over the years, Allyn has done her very best to always make those around her feel loved and blessed. She had special nicknames for her kids, and songs using their name that she either made up or replaced a name in a song with theirs. One thing her kids could always count on is that their mom was going to put a smile on their face every day. We all felt that way, so I know what I am talking about.

Other than being married to her husband, Chris Hadlock and having her children, Jessi Sawdon, Ryan Hadlock, Lindsay Moore, and Kellie Hadlock, I think that the greatest blessings in recent years have come in the form of her children’s spouses, Jason Sawdon, Chelsea Hadlock, and Shannon Moore, and now the beautiful little grandbabies she has, Ethan Hadlock, Aurora Hadlock, and Adelaide Sawdon. These days the little name songs have the names of those precious babies in them, and Allyn makes sure that each of those babies knows that they are just the sweetest one, and while it might seem odd that each one could be the sweetest one, in the world of a grandma, that is totally possible. Grandmas love each baby the most, no matter how many there are. That’s because we love each one the same…100%. Allyn is as blessed as a woman can be, and she is still thought of as the sweetest one. In fact, that very thing came up last night when I was at our sister Cheryl’s house and we were talking. We all agreed that Allyn was always good. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Caalab with GrandmaShai & CaalabWhen my grandson, Caalab Royce was a little boy, he was obsessed with being “older” than me…or anyone else for that matter. He would often come up to me or other people and say, “I’m older than you.” It was always such a funny thing to have this little tiny, under five year old boy telling me that he was older than me…his grandma. It always made me smile, and maybe that was his plan anyway. He is, after all, a comedian…always had been. Not everyone was happy with his little joke, especially his older sister, Shai Royce. She was living behind the age eight ball anyway, because she was a Leap Day Baby. So the reality is that by the time he was one, he technically was older than she was. It was a source of contention, until I finally told her that she might only be two at eight, but she would get to drive when she was four and her brother and cousins would have to wait until they were sixteen, so it all evened out in the end.

Caalab has long since ceased to be that little boy trying so hard to be older, and I haven’t heard that funny little comment in a long time, but the story lives on in my memory files. Now that he is going on twenty years old this summer, I guess being older is not so important anymore. And, at almost twenty one…or 5¼…Shai is no longer bothered by such comments. I think that I just assumed that those days of hearing the comment, “I’m older than you” were over. How wrong I was.

Flash forward now those eighteen plus years, to my niece Kellie Hadlock, who is also a serious comedian…if that is possible, and you have Kelli calling me, my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, and most of the rest of the girls in the family, Little Baby Caryn…or whatever their name might be. That is because Kellie is 6’0″, compared to my 5’2″. Kellie likes to hugs us and lift us off our feet at the same time, to make a point that we are vertically challenged. Today in church, where Kellie, her mom, my sister, Allyn Hadlock, and I are all kellie-hadlock-3Caalab & Shai abackup singers, Kellie greeted me with her usual, “Hi, little baby Caryn.” I called her little baby Kellie, to which she giggled, “I don’t think so.” I told her that since I am older than her, she will always be little baby Kellie to me. Then, straight out of the past, came the sentence I thought I was done hearing, when Kellie said, “I’m older than you!” The shock must have registered on my face, because my sister said, “That would be ok!” I had to agree, because since I’m sixty and Kellie is almost twenty seven. I could handle being twenty six…or, maybe not, but it was a funny blast from the past.

Chantel and IzabellaimageDad and MomOn the last day of the year, many people are busily planning the festivities for the evening. Others are contemplating the coming year and how they might make it better than the last. These are things that I am doing too, but I am also looking back on the year that is quickly coming to a close. Every year has it’s good things and it’s bad things. This year is no different. As the year began, I was recovering from a broken shoulder, while my niece, Chantel Balcerzak was getting used to her new role as grandma to little Izabella Siara Harman. February brought a promotion for my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock to Lieutenant with the Casper Police Department, and then the sad 1st anniversary of our mother’s passing. I couldn’t believe she had been gone a year already. March brought the 41st anniversary of my marriage to Bob Schulenberg, and the love continues to grow. It also brought the purchase of a home in northwestern Washington for our daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis.

April brought my 60th birthday, although I felt no upset by that. I have always felt that the key is to enjoy the age you are at, and I will continue to do so. May 5th brought the sad reminder that my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg has been in Heaven for 3 years now. May also brought the graduation of my grandson, Chris Corrie, Amy and meimg_8305Dad SchulenbergPetersen from the Culinary School at Sheridan College. It’s hard for me to believe that his college years are so quickly over. My daughter, Amy made the trip to Wyoming to attend the graduation, and it was so good to see her again…even if it was for such a short time. June brings the birthdays of my daughters, and these days it’s a little bit bittersweet, because Amy is so far away. My oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin went camping for her birthday, so we joined them on Casper Mountain for a birthday evening. We all had a lovely time. I just wish Amy’s family could have been there too.

July brought with it one of the biggest changes of my life, when my husband, Bob Schulenberg retired from the City of Casper. It was a day of rejoicing, because he had been ready to retire for some time now. July also brought with it, another loss…of sorts, when my granddaughter, Shai Royce moved to Washington to be near her family. It was hard on me, but I knew it was best for her, because she had been so lonely for her parents and her brother, Caalab. While we continue to miss her and the rest of her family, we are happy, because they are happy. July also brought wedding bells for my nephew, Garrett Stevens as he married his best friend, img_9127IMG_4538img_5927Kayla Smiley. August brought a beautiful new addition to our family when my niece Jessi Sawdon and her husband, Jason welcomed daughter Adelaide Ione to our family. Addi was named after Jessi’s great grandmother and Jessi’s grandmother, my mom, Collene Ione Spencer. In September, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, had skin removal surgery after losing 350 pounds. She had a bleeding issue, but she is doing well now, and we are very proud of her. September also brought with it the sadness of loss, as we said goodbye to Bob’s aunt, Linda Cole. Hers was a shock, because her passing was so unexpected.

October found my grandson, Josh Petersen actively pursuing his dream of becoming a firefighter as he took Boces classes to get a head start on the Fire Science degree he needs. It also found us celebrating with my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock, as he became the Peace Officer of the year. November brought an unusual Thanksgiving as Bob and I traveled to Ferndale, Washington to spend the holiday with Amy’s family, in a week that went by way too fast. Then, as we were on our way home, we found out about the passing of my cousin, Shirley Cameron’s husband, Shorty’s passing…another shocking passing that was very unexpected. December img_5862michelleblue-jean-brendabrought the sad reminder that my dad, Allen Spencer had been in Heaven now for 9 long years. That seems impossible to me. December also brought college graduation for my niece, Michelle Stevens, who will now start her teaching career. This was most certainly a year of ups and downs, but with the coming new year, comes the hope for a great future.

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