My grandniece, Katie Balcerzak has been a part of our family, since she married my grandnephew, Keifer Balcerzak in 2015. Together they have two beautiful children, Reece and Aysa Balcerzak. They have been so blessed with two happy, smiling children, who bring more joy to their lives than they could ever have imagined. Reece was born in 2017 and Asa was born in 2021. Now their family is complete. They love doing all the fun activities, like sports and such. Reece is trying different things like t-ball, and while that may not be the sort for her, Katie and Keifer encourage her to give it a shot. They are good parents…always encouraging their kids and each other.
I liked Katie from the first time I met her. We have a few things in common, mostly that we both have sisters, and no brothers. It can make us feel unsure about having boys. While I didn’t have boys, I had three grandsons and only one granddaughter. Katie had a daughter first, and then her son. Either way, for a girl with all sisters, even if she had nephews, having those boys is a bit of a culture shock. Nevertheless, you adapt, and Katie has adapted beautifully. In fact, the love she has for both of her children shows all over her face. It’s just beautiful.
Katie has always been very close to her sisters. The bond they have reminds me of my bond with my sisters. There is something about a family of sisters. Girls think alike. They like the same things, and they like to share their hopes and dreams. The bond between sisters is like a best friend, but much closer. That is the bond Katie has with her sisters, Kellee Schuerman, Martha Simkin, and Bernnie Steadham, have had since they were little girls. Whenever they are together, you can see their love for each other by the smiles on their faces. There is a closeness, comradery, and sisterhood, that is forever. Katie has had the privilege of being a part of a wonderful family, and parents, Vicki Jammerman and Thad Davidson, who taught her and her sisters to be loving, nurturing, and kind people. Their parents taught them good values and it shows in their lives.
When Katie met Keifer, it was love almost immediately. They were young, but they knew that they would become a couple, and grow a family…and that is exactly what they did. They two sweet people were meant to be together. Theirs is a match made in Heaven, and it grows more and more beautiful with each passing day. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandniece, Melanie Harman is a sweet girl, who has been so good for my grandnephew, Jake Harman. I would be very hard-pressed to come up with the wonderful things that Jake has to say about his wife. Kake says, “Mel is the most beautiful woman alive, and I mean that physically, mentally, and spiritually. She loves God and whenever anything is wrong her first reaction is pray about it. She wants to give it to God, knowing He is the only one who can fix it.”
Melanie is a hard worker. Currently, she is working for Door Dash, and she has become one of the best loved dashers. When she walks into a place to pick up an order, she will sometimes be on the phone with Jake, and he hears the conversation. He says that everyone yells, “Hi Mel!!” Then, Jake can hear them fighting over who’s best friend she is!! That’s definitely Melanie, and it makes Jake so proud that his wife is so loved. She is always so happy and kind, that people can’t help but love her and want to be her friend. When Melanie isn’t door dashing, she works with her mom to clean their church Mondays and Thursdays. After cleaning, she will go door dash. It makes for a long day, but even after that long day she comes home to her 4 babies…counting Jake, that is, who are all demanding her time. Still, she keeps that beautiful smile on her face and gives each of them the time they need to feel loved.
Jake tells me that he just has no clue how she does it, but she somehow seems to give all of them all of her time. He said that he goes to sleep every night, thanking God for such a beautiful woman and sometimes, he wakes up in a bit of a panic, thinking Melanie was just a dream. Then, Jake says, “I roll over to see her peacefully sleeping and the beauty of my life starts all over because her smile lights up a room and her voice is the closest to what I picture an angel would sound like. She always knows how to handle us whether it is tough mom, fun mom, rude mom, or whatever we need, that’s what she is. She is the best part of each of our lives and definitely proof that God is real. I know He is because without Him she would not be possible.” How can I possibly say it better? Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My little grandniece, Elliott Stevens has been very busy lately. On June 24, 2022, Elliott had a life-changing event occur in her life, when she became big sister to Maya Stevens. Elliott was always a happy girl, and really, very comfortable in her life. I don’t think she even minded being an only child, but then she really didn’t know anything else, so I suppose it doesn’t really count. Now, however, Elliott has a little sister, and that have made her life even better than before. Elliott loves helping her parents, Kayla and Garrett Stevens with Maya, and she and Maya are fast becoming best friends, as well as sisters. You can see the love that shows on their faces every time they are together. Elliott has other activities too, so holding her baby sister isn’t something she can do all the time, although she would if she could. Elliott is getting to be very capable at holding her sister, and loves to make her smile, and help with her care in any way she can. Maya, looking lovingly at
her big sister and knows that before long she will get to play with her too. It’s baby sister love for big sister.
Elliott can’t take care of her sister all the time, because she has a number of fun activities, she is involved in. She takes swimming lessons, as well as, gymnastics, and she goes to daycare, where she has lots of friends that she enjoys spending time with. Elliott is also her daddy’s best little helper. Maya will become a good helper too, but she too little right now. Elliott and her daddy build things together and paint things too, like the playhouse her and her daddy built for her. Elliott works very hard, and I know her daddy appreciates all her help. She also loves going to the park with her parents, and now her baby sister too. She loves the swings and slides the best, I think. Now that her grandpa, Mike Stevens is retired, he and Elliott’s grandma, Alena Stevens can go to Sheridan for visits more often. Elliott’s other grandparents, Lynette and Wes Smiley live in Sheridan, so she gets to see them lots too.
Elliott is a girly girl. She loves makeup, princess clothes, and of course…heels. She even has her own play makeup, and she loves putting it on, even if she isn’t perfect at it just yet…but then what girl starts out putting on her makeup perfectly. We all have to experiment until we find our perfect look. Elliot also loves to spend time with her cousins, Brooklyn and Jaxxon Killinger. They like to go swimming, to the park…or just hang out. It’s a good life, and Elliott is enjoying every minute of it. Today is Eliott’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I have watched my grandniece, Jadyn Mortensen, grow up since the day she was born. She has surprised me over the years…not because she couldn’t do anything she wanted to, but because she almost instantly became interested in horses. Maybe that wasn’t a surprise to her parents and grandparents, but since she lives in Rawlins, Wyoming and I live in Casper, Wyoming, I didn’t see her growing interest in her day-to-day life. I realized she loved horses when she was in town and out at her grandparents’ ranch. Seeing her with the horses there was a beautiful thing. She was just a girl of nine or ten years, but she was like a horse whisper…even then.
Jadyn is talented in many ways. Besides horses, she loves snowmobiles, motorcycles, 4 wheelers, boats, and I’m sure, a number of other sports. Still, for most of her high school career, Jadyn loved barrel racing. She was amazing. She won many awards, and her riding was so exciting to watch. Jadyn is fearless on a horse, and her horse is fearless when she is riding. They work and move as one unit. Not only is she an amazing barrel racer, but she is also very talented at trick riding…I guess that’s what you would call it. Standing on the back of her horse doesn’t scare her one bit, and that is amazing.
I suppose I could be biased when it comes to the riding ability of my grandniece, but that I’m not the only one who is impressed with her, so I guess that the corroboration makes all the difference. As she was preparing to graduate from high school, Jadyn received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Wyoming to be a part of their barrel racing team. They saw how amazing she is too. I know that Jadyn’s college career is going to be a wonderful experience for her, but I think her parents, Amanda Reed and Sean Mortensen are going to find this coming year to be bittersweet. While they are excited for their girl to spread her wings and fly, they hate the fact that she is flying away from home. It’s not too far away, but too far to see her every day, like they are used to doing. Nevertheless, she is going to have a great year. Jadyn is planning to study mechanical engineering, so she will have lots of studying to do, on top of her rodeo events…and of course, hopefully a few fun events too. Jadyn is a level-headed girl, so I know that her studies will be her top priority. Today is Jadyn’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Jadyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandniece, Zoey Iverson is a mature seven-year-old girl. It’s not a matter of seven going on thirty or anything, but rather a girl who has known all her life that those people she loves need her help, and she is ready, willing, and able to give that needed help. Zoey is one of the best “mommy’s helpers” around. When Zoey came into her mommy, Cassie Franklin’s life, Cassie was mommy to Lucas, a Down Syndrome baby, and while Lucas was doing well, he had so many things to learn, and that can be exhausting for a parent. Zoey instinctively saw that her mommy and brother needed a helper, and she knew that she was just the girl for the job. So, Zoey became her mommy’s assistant teacher and helper, and it is a role she continues to this day. To Lucas, she is assistant physical therapist, teacher, playmate, best friend, and the best form of encouragement. And with that Lucas thrived. Where he couldn’t walk before, he does now, and so many other skills have improved as well. Where some little girls are instinctively the “little mommy,” Zoey is so much more. It’s just a big part of her personality.
While Zoey is a great help to her mommy, she has other interests too. These days she is into tap dancing and had a performance recently at the fair in Powell. She and her classmates did awesome. I wasn’t able to be there, but thankfully her mommy is a photographer, and she takes great videos, so I got to watch. Zoey is a petite little girl, and so dance suits her perfectly. She is a natural dancer. Zoey always loved dancing around the house, and it makes her brother smile.
Zoey has been the little sister all her life, but the big news is that pretty soon she will also be the big sister. Zoey’s mommy, Cassie and her partner, Wesley Burr are having a baby soon, and in fact, they get to find out what they are having in about six weeks. I’m sure Zoey and Lucas are very excited to find out if they are getting a brother or a sister…as are the rest of us. I know that while her life is already busy these days, Zoey will be a great help with her newest sibling. She has aways had that natural instinct, and to have a new baby to hold and help care for will be just awesome. I am so excited for the whole family, and this new precious little life that is on the way. Things are sure getting exciting for Miss Zoey. Today is Zoey’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandniece, Raelynn Masterson is very smart, but she, like so many other people, is also timid and shy. Once she gets to know people, she does great, but it takes a little while to get comfortable with people. In the past, she wasn’t aways confident in her abilities, or in herself, but she is working on that. For one thing, Raelynn was never really good at cooking, but these days she is not only spending time in the kitchen with her mom, Dustie Masterson, learning to cook, but she is learning about nutrition, and how to better take care of her own body and health, which of course includes exercise and fresh air too.
Raelynn has also been stepping outside of her comfort zone to make so new friends and hang out with them. The social aspect of things hasn’t always been easy for her, and like many people, when Covid hit, being on lockdown made the social interactions hard, and many people just started leading online lives. Stepping back out, or stepping out for the first time, is not easy, and I’m very proud of Raelynn for pushing herself to be more of a joiner.
Raelynn likes to write stories and develop characters for her stories. The friends she has made have similar interests, and they like to bounce ideas off of each other concerning their stories and characters. Sometimes it’s a big help to brainstorm together about what you want to do with a story or character. Also, every character needs a backstory. They need to have come from somewhere, and that isn’t always easy to develop or to make interesting. Raelynn is also into art and uses her drawings to illustrate her stories. Raelynn says that using her drawings in her stories “makes it easier for me to visualize that character and what they would do so I draw them at least once and then maybe later in a scene I wrote them in.” She doesn’t necessarily think she is very good, but I think that she is doing very well, and as with any skill, practice makes perfect. She knows that too. She is ok with the progress she has made. She obviously hasn’t seen anything I can draw, or she would really understand that she is leaps and bounds ahead of my skill level.
Raelynn may have held herself back in her earlier years, with shyness and a lack of confidence, but she is breaking out of that shell now, and like with any caterpillar, we are seeing the beautiful butterfly emerging. Raelynn has always been a beautiful girl, whether she knew it or now, but as she becomes more and more social, more people are able to see what we all saw…just how beautiful she is, inside and out. Today is Raelynn’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
On July 26, 2022, my nephew, Riley Birky and his partner, Sierah Martin welcomed their new little son, Ryder Scott Birky into the world. Already the parents of Sierah’s son Jace, they now have a new addition to their little family. Jace is so excited to have a baby brother, and he can’t wait for Ryder to be old enough to play with him. Jace has been an only child for a while now, so having a full-time friend is a really big deal, and Jace is determined to be the best big brother ever.
Little Ryder was born at 9:48pm and weighed 7 pounds exactly. He is 18 inches long. His daddy, Riley was there to assist in his natural delivery, and his mommy, Sierah was a champion throughout the whole process. Sierah and Riley are already experienced parents, and good ones too. Having a second child is the next logical step in their lives, and they have been excitedly awaiting the glorious day, when their precious new addition would make his appearance. Ryder is a sweet natured little boy, just like his mommy. Sierah doesn’t let things get to her much. She has a calming effect on her whole family, and I think that is probably what drew Riley to her in the very beginning…along with the fact that she is a beautiful girl.
Riley’s mom, Rachel Schulenberg passed away January 19, 2021, and I am sad that she did not live to see her new grandson, but I know that she is in Heaven, and I know that she is rejoicing over this new family that her son, Riley has gained. I know that she has always loved her son very much, and that she is filled with joy over the direction his life is going. I can actually hear her excited voice saying, “Look at my son!! He’s a daddy now!! And look at my brand-new grandson, his mommy, and big brother!! Isn’t he just beautiful!!” I know that Rachel is already in love with little Ryder. She is one very proud mom and grandma. Congratulations to Sierah, Riley, and Jace, on your wonderful new son, Ryder!! We love him already!!
My grandniece, Siara Olsen met Chris Kirk in early September of 2021, when she boldly went up to him in the local Loaf and Jug convenience store in Casper, and told him that she liked his freckles. She started calling him her “Loaf and Jug Boyfriend” that very day. How could he resist that?? The year prior had been the hardest year Siara had ever faced, and when she met Chris, her joy returned. She once again became the happy girl we had always known and missed very much. I won’t go into the sadness of the prior year, because this story has a happy ending, and I will focus on that. Chris has the ability to put a smile on my grandniece’s face, and in my book that makes him a great guy. Chris fits well into Siara’s family, and she fits well into his. Theirs is going to be a wonderful and exciting future.
Siara and Chris have so much in common. They are both very athletic, and love doing te same activities. The first pictures I saw of them together, believe it or not, they were doing a couple’s workout, and it was obvious that they were “head over heels” in love with each other. You never saw a picture of them where they weren’t smiling…unless they were making a face for the camera. They love to joke around, and their happiness just flows out of both of them.
Siara has long been a fitness buff, and Chris either is too, or he has become one since meeting her. They like to go hiking with Siara’s brother, Jake Harman, his wife, Melanie, and their kids, Alice, Izabella, and Jax. A favorite spot is the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain. I like to say that families should work toward staying fit together, because it makes for a long and happy life. Hiking and hanging out with her brother’s family also gave everyone a chance to get to know Chris, and they all liked him too. Siara is close to her brother and his family, so that was important.
Chris surprised Siara when she had her back to him and he dropped to one knee, just as she turned around. His proposal was sweet and beautiful, and Siara was swept off her feet. I couldn’t say it better than she did, in her own words, “Turning around to you down on one knee asking me if I trust you with my life and my heart it was so easily a yes, but you asking me if I would marry you was the easiest yes of all! Our souls are so deeply connected through God already, but this makes it mean so much more. I love you more than anything, Chris Kirk!” It makes everyone in Siara’s family so happy to see these two tie the knot today. I wish you both all the love and happiness in the world. Congratulations Siara and Chris!! We love you both!!
When a couple has been married a long time, things start changing in their life…things like kids getting married, and kids having kids, become the new normal. That is where my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin find themselves. The empty nest syndrome has long since come and gone, and now they find themselves in the next phase of their lives. This is the fun phase. Their children are raised, and now they can spoil the grandchildren, and enjoy their adult kids. Their family is growing, with the addition of very soon to be wives for their sons, and of course, those babies. There are no greater words for parents of adult children than grandma and grandpa.
Corrie and Kevin met when she was just 15 years old. Kevin was her first and only love. For him to also be her forever love is amazing, but that is exactly how it went for them. Now, 29 years later, they are still together and still going strong. I can’t say that I am surprised by that, because almost from the very first date, these “kids” seemed married…not the “oh my gosh, I can’t stand to be away from you” kind of love, but more the mature “you’re the one for me, and I can wait to make this right” kind of love. I don’t mean to say that they didn’t love each other very much, but they were very mature. Their love was grown up, and…forever. You just knew that this marriage was going to make it.
After two years, they got engaged, and the wedding was planned for the following year. My girl was going to graduate from high school, turn 18 a month later, and be married two weeks after that. Talk about a whirlwind…for me anyway. A whirlwind of emotions. I thought I was doing ok, but when the kids left for their honeymoon, it suddenly hit me, that my baby girl was married, and she didn’t live at home anymore. She was her own woman, and she had a husband, and very soon a family to take care of. She was a grown adult, but I also knew that the best years of her life were ahead of her, and before long the grandbabies would be coming along. Now the great grandbabies have come along, so I am able to see the next phase for them and for me. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 29th wedding anniversary. Where have the years gone. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you!!
On June 24, 2022, my nephew Garrett Stevens and his wife, Kayla were blessed with their second beautiful daughter, Maya June Stevens. Maya joins big sister, Elliott Stevens, who is so excited about having a little sister…and now they are four…just like that. Maya arrived by Cesarian Section at 8:00am at the Sheridan Community Hospital. She weighs 7 pounds 11 ounces, and she is 20 inches long. While her big sister has blonde hair, like her daddy did; it looks like Maya might have brown hair like her mommy…and it’s a little thicker on top, which is common with darker hair. Elliott’s hair started to show its curls around the time she was 5 or 6 months old, so we will see if Maya gets those same beautiful curls.
While Kayla and Maya needed to stay in the hospital for a day or so, and Garrett stayed with them, Elliott is back at home, for a while anyway, with her grandparents. That means that Garrett and Kayla have some alone time with Maya. I think that might be a good thing, because Elliott is sure that Maya is her baby!! She wants to hold her all the time when she is with her. I think that Garrett and Kayla may have a fight on their hands for a while…not a real fight, of course, but at least until the newness wears off, Elliott may want to hold “her baby” all the time.
Maya is such a sweet little baby. She doesn’t fuss very much, and she is fine with being passed from person to person, including her big sister. She rather enjoys all the attention, which is very nice for all concerned. She loves her big sister, and especially likes it when Elliott sings to her. Elliott has been singing her the ABCs song and Baa Baa Blac Sheep. I know that Elliott is going to be a great “Mommy’s Helper” because she is already so comforting to Maya, and Maya has been born with a best friend right there. These girls are going to be so close, and I can’t wait to watch their friendship grow. Maya will be one very blessed with such a great big sister, as well as her wonderful parents. We are so happy you have arrived sweet Maya June. You are an absolutely beautiful baby girl, and we are all very blessed that you have joined our family. We love you so much already.