Grandchildren

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Yesterday, August 3, 2018, at precisely 7:45am, Miss Elliott Michelle Stevens made her grand entrance into the world. Elliott, who will likely be nicknamed El or Elli, is the daughter and first child of my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his lovely wife, Kayla Smiley Stevens. Elliott is the first grandchild on both sides of their families, and so will be “spoiled” by grandmothers, Alena Stevens and Lynnette Smiley, as well as grandfathers, Mike Stevens and Wes Smiley. She also has three aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, who all became aunts the moment Elliot arrived. Elliot has changed a lot of lives, and all she did was to be born. It was a big job, but Elliott was up to the task.

Elliott is a pretty little girl, who likes to suck her thumb a little. Time will tell if that becomes a habit. She is a good baby, who doesn’t seem to cry much. She will find her voice, I’m sure, but for now, she is just relaxing and enjoying her new world and all the loving grandparents and great grandmother she has found there. Little does she know that there are many other family members who are waiting excitedly to meet her too. She has been born into a much larger family than she could possibly imagine, but those meetings will come in time. For now, she is just enjoying a few family members, and especially her parents, who are still marveling at the little blessing they have been given. And while Kayla and Garrett have become something their siblings are not…parents, their siblings have also become something they are not…aunts.

Time will tell who little Elliott will look like, and we all see similarities between her and her family members, but she will change quite a lot over the next few months and more similarities will begin to show. We will see an expression here, a facial shape there, and hair color will also begin to tell the tale. As she finds her voice, we might discover that she laughs like one person, or her voice sounds like another…it might even be an aunt or grandmother…or even a great aunt or uncle. Babies are amazing that way. They are created by God from the traits He ordains in their family DNA to be the perfect little person, unique and yet similar. I can’t wait to see who little Elliott Michelle will resemble as she grows. No matter who it is, she will be beautiful, just as she is right now, because she comes from two beautiful parents. Welcome to the world, Elliott Michelle, and to our family. We love you so much already!!

My brother-in-law, Lynn Cook, who goes by LJ, has always been a guy who loves to joke with those around him. Making people laugh is one of his favorite things to do, but he is also a family man, who really hasn’t ever wanted to be anything else. He drove truck for many years, and spent a number of years as a deputy sheriff in Casper, before moving his family to Thermopolis, Wyoming and then Powell, Wyoming, where they put down roots. At the time of his retirement, LJ was working in on of the area mines in Powell. As I said though, in all reality, LJ was a family man, and that was what he loved.

LJ and his wife, Debbie had three daughters, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith, who both live in Powell too; and Nancy Cook who died a few minutes after her birth in Casper. That was the worst day of their married life. The loss of a child can tear a marriage apart, but their marriage was strong, and it endured. They have been blessed with four grandchildren, Weston Moore, Jala Satterwhite, Easton Moore, and Kaytlyn Griffith. They have been the continuing blessing of a long marriage. These days, LJ spends as much time with the grandkids as he can. They help him at the house, so he teaches them how to do things like mow the lawn, and to be safe. They love spending time with their grandparents. LJ also loves his dogs. They are practically inseparable. Of course, that is how most pet owners are. Our pets become a part of the family. They are just like a child or grandchild, and we love them. LJs dog is very faithful to him.

LJ loves the outdoors, and is happiest when they are camping in the Big Horn mountains. Like his kids, he and Debbie would live in the mountains if they could. LJ has always liked hunting and fishing too. But sitting around the campfire with his family is the priority in his life these days. Being retired gives him more time to spend with those he loves. Today is LJ’s birthday. Happy birthday LJ!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

These days, long term marriages are rare, but they can be done. It takes work, an understanding of what your spouse is going through on a daily basis, common goals, and most of all prayer. I know people would dispute that last one, but as I am a Christian, I believe that is what it takes, whether it is the couple praying, or their family praying for them. Some things should be handled with prayer, because getting along with a person day in and day out, is not always easy, as any married couple will tell you.

Nevertheless, my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband Kevin are one of those couples who have beaten the odds, and today, they celebrate their 25th or Silver Anniversary. I remember their wedding like it was yesterday, because in a mother’s heart, that is exactly how it feels. They were to kids, and that’s a fact. Corrie was just two weeks past her 18th birthday, and Kevin was not quite 22. The first thought that comes to anyone’s mind is that there was no way this marriage had a chance, but these two kids loved each other so much. They had dated since Corrie was just 15 years old, and they had been engaged for a year and two weeks, since they got engaged on her 17th birthday. They were perfect for each other from the start, and never have I seen two people who were closer soulmates at such a young age. You just can’t mess with these matches made in Heaven, and that is what they were…a match made in Heaven.

Now, suddenly, here we are, 25 years later, and these two kids…who will always be kids to me…are still going strong. They are parents, and now have a new granddaughter, and they are as happy as they can be. They are supportive of each other as each one works toward their own goals for their lives. They are supportive of each other as they struggle with things that are difficult, knowing that everyone has struggles. No life is perfect, but when you have a good support system, you can do anything you set your mind to…be it health, career, finances, or any other challenge people can face. You see, it isn’t the marriage that has no challenges that lasts, because in reality, there is no such thing. It is rather the marriage that meets its challenges head on, faces them with courage and compassion, and comes out the other side better for having made the journey that lasts. That is the kind of marriage Corrie and Kevin have, and that is why it has lasted. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 25th wedding anniversary. Happy Silver Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Congratulations to you both…you made it!! Have a great day!! We love you both!!

My sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg was a blessing that came as a free gift with my marriage to her brother, Bob. Of course, I consider all of my in-laws to be a blessing, but I think that they will all agree that Marlyce was a special kind of blessing. I don’t mean to say that Marlyce was perfect, or that the whole family always got along with her, although I don’t recall a fight I personally had with Marlyce. Even though the siblings fought with their sister periodically, I can tell you, without doubt that they considered her a sweet blessing too.

Marlyce had a kind heart. In fact,there wasn’t an unkind bone in hr body. She loved doing things for people, in fact, she would do just about anything that was in her power to do. Marlyce was developmentally disabled, but she was an expert at a number of things. She could cook and bake, and was famous for her chocolate chip cookies. She also loved to knit and made great stocking caps for people. She even sold them at craft fairs. Marlyce loved making things and she loved giving things to people.

The one thing Marlyce really loved though…babies. She was the oldest of her siblings, and so, she got to help out with all her siblings, even if she couldn’t do many things well, her parents didn’t refuse to let her help. She liked being the big helper, and when she became an aunt, she was just wonderful with the kids. All of the kids loved Aunt Marlyce. She was very special to them. She didn’t have a chance to become a great aunt, because she passed away far too young…at just 39 years. When I think about that, it makes me sad, because not only did Marlyce miss out on being a great aunt, but her grand nieces and grand nephews missed out on the special aunt she was. And now that she is a great grand aunt to my little great granddaughter. It makes me sad to know that another generation is going to miss out on sweet Aunt Marlyce. Today would have been Marlyce’s 68th birthday, but instead, she is 39 years old again. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.

If you want to know about a person, talk to those who know that person best…their family. Of course, I know my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock, but nobody knows him as well as his wife and kids. I wanted to know what kind of dad Chris is, because that delves into a whole different dimension of the person he is. I asked his kids to tell me the one thing they loved most about their dad. The first thing I found out, was that these kids couldn’t give me just one thing. In fact, they had a hard time keeping it at just two or three things.

Jessi Sawdon is Chris and my sister, Allyn’s first child. Told me of how helpful her dad is. No matter what he has going, or how full his day is, he always finds time, somewhere in the day to come and help with whatever his kids needed. Their needs are always his priority. She also told me that when it comes to his grandbabies…Chris has the softest heart, and that those grandbabies think their grandpa hung the moon. On one hand, it’s hard for me to fathom Chris as softhearted, because of all the years he spent as a cop, and yet I think that most people who know Chris have seen that softhearted side at one time or another. Nevertheless, when it comes to grandbabies, every grandparent develops a soft heart where their grandbabies are concerned.

Ryan Hadlock, Chris and Allyn’s son, and second child, remembers going fishing with his dad. He remembers the lessons his dad gave him so that he could become a good fisherman, and he remembers…like it was just yesterday…that while his dad was teaching him to fly fish, that his dad caught 75 fish in one day!! Those father/son times were and always will be very special to Ryan. I know they were very special to his dad too. Ryan also told me that he loves to see the joy his dad gets…just from being with all of his kids and grandkids. There is nothing quite like knowing that your parents love you, your siblings, and your kids more than anything in the world.

Lindsay Moore, Chris and Allyn’s third child immediately said, “Oh man! One thing!?!?!? How is that possible?” That was the sentiment I got from all the kids. Lindsay told me about how tenderhearted her dad is. Lindsay’s favorite part of her dad is a side of him that not everyone gets to see. It is a side of Chris that is reserved for Allyn, their kids and the grandkids. It has been an enlightening thing to have all of these kids tell me, not about the strength everyone else saw in Chris for so many years on the police force, but about the very different man that came home from work each night to simply love on his family. Lindsay also told me about the way that Chris brought fun and laughter to their lives with his incredible witty and sense of humor.

Kellie Hadlock is Chris and Allyn’s youngest child. She was the first one to mention work ethic, saying that Chris is the hardest worker she knows and that he does everything with integrity…always doing the right thing! Kellie’s sweetest thought of her dad is that he is the best guitar player she know. One of her favorite things to do in the world, is to sing with her dad. Kellie loves singing, and when the two of them get together, it is truly beautiful. We all love hearing it, and can’t wait for the next time. Kellie says, “He is literally the best dad in the world!! Sorry there was no way I could have said just one thing!” Today is Chris’ birthday!! Thanks to all of his kids for their special tribute to their dad. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The last year has been a whirlwind of change for my daughter, Corrie Petersen. Eight months ago, she left a job that should have had room for advancement, but simply didn’t for her position…it was a dead-end job for Corrie. Never one to give up, Corrie took future in her own hands, with much prayer and guidance from God, she went back to school to obtain the future career that she knew was the calling of her heart…nursing. She began her big job move by going through the CNA training at Shepherd of the Valley nursing home, and once she was a CNA, she began her search for a job change. Upon being hired at Elkhorn Rehabilitation Hospital, she left her dead-end job. Coming from 13 years of taking part in the caregiving process for both sets of her grandparents, Corrie went into the decision to become a nurse, with her eyes wide open. I think that lots of people try going into nursing, only to find that it isn’t for them. Nurses, CNAs, and aides do a lot of personal care tasks that are less than pleasant sometimes. If you don’t have a heart for nursing, it will be a very difficult…but Corrie has a heart for it, and has become a dedicated CNA, who is well on her way to being a nurse. The fall will bring nursing school for Corrie, and she can hardly wait. I am so excited for her.

When we think of job promotions, we don’t generally expect them to happen within the first three months, but that is exactly what happened with Corrie. Since she is a very experienced CNA, even thought she has only been working as a CNA for eight months, Corrie’s supervisors quickly saw the value she brought to their facility, and she has been promoted to lead CNA for her shift, as well as Trainer fit new hires. Both are big honors for a girl who has been on the job less than a year. She is also “laddering up,” which puts her at a higher level of training, making her much more valuable to Elkhorn Rehab Hospital. It is my understanding that they have never had a CNA ladder up, which Corrie was very surprised to find out. So I guess you could say she is making history at work.

Probably the biggest news of the year…and her lifetime, was the addition of their new baby granddaughter on May 30th of this year. Next to motherhood, grandmotherhood is about the greatest experience that comes from getting older. Not that Corrie is old at all, especially when you consider that we, her parents are now great grandparents. This baby is such a sweet, good natured little girl. Corrie and her husband, Kevin enjoy every single minute they get to spend with her. I know they would like to spend lots more time, but her family is a big one, so we all have to share. Corrie is feeling so very blessed these days. Having a grandchild is the greatest thing ever, and for Corrie and Kevin, a granddaughter is amazing, because they never got to have a daughter, and they wanted a girl too. And, to top it off, they get to share a birthday of sorts, because hr granddaughter is one month old today. And in addition, having a job you really love..well, as the saying goes, “find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Now, I don’t think that Corrie would say that her job isn’t work, but it is work she loves, and that makes all the difference. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Few things change a person quite as much as a baby. It has been nearly a month since my great granddaughter made her entrance into the world. I have watched as my grandson, Chris Petersen and his fiancée, Karen changed right before my eyes. They went from being carefree kids, to new parents…just like that. It’s hard to believe that they are parents now. They have crossed a bridge, of sorts, and their lives will never be the same. Time has flown so quickly…as time always does. Before we know it their baby girl will be one year old, then Kindergarten, high school graduation, marriage, and babies of her own, but lets try not to get ahead of ourselves. Time will take care of that on it’s own.

Their baby is a sweet-natured little girl, who really doesn’t cry much unless she is hungry, and even then, she will wait patiently for her dinner, if she has visitors. She wasn’t a real fan of her first bath, but her second bath was much more enjoyable. Who knows, maybe she will be a swimmer. She also seems to really like to think things through. I like to say that she is a concentrator, just like her great grandma…me. I think this baby girl is going to be very smart, and able to analyze the situation before she makes decisions. I suppose it’s a bit early to tell, but I’m going to take some great grandma privilege here and say what I think she will be. Karen and Chris are adapting well to parenthood, and working through the short nights. They are both so in love with their precious girl, that nothing else matters.

Adding a new baby to our family has been the biggest change in more than 22 years…when my great granddaughter’s daddy arrived. Babies change so many things, and our family was quickly beginning to change. Within two and a half years, we had three more babies in our family. Our world would never be the same, and for that we were very happy. It wasn’t that our family wasn’t great, but now it was even better, because it had been almost 21 years since our family had changed in such a big way…when we had our own daughter…her grandma, Corrie Petersen. Babies are such a great blessing, and as each first child arrives, a big change happens…because there are suddenly parents, where once two kids stood.

My grandson, Caalab Royce is an adventurous kind of guy. He is willing to try just about any new thing…provided it’s legal and not too dangerous, of course. Caalab likes most types of games, but these days, he is into Midnight Laser Tag. He has done paintball as well, but compared to paintball, laser tag doesn’t hurt because it uses no physical projectiles. If I were going to play that game, I think I would like laser tag much better. Laser Tag is one of those games that don’t require a special facility, but rather just the right equipment. Caalab and his friends play the game outside…usually at midnight, because that’s when they get off work. He has always been a night owl, so it’s the perfect time of day for him…just don’t try to wake him up very early the next morning.

Caalab has always been good at games, and at most sports. He has played softball off and on through the years, but this year, he is actually his team’s coach…and a player. Caalab has an unusual “style”in baseball, for lack of a better word. Caalab is right handed, but he bats left handed. He wasn’t really a good hitter, until his mom, my daughter, Amy Royce realized that he was awkward when he batted right handed. The improvement was instantaneous when he switched. I’m sure that he will be a great coach, although at the age these players are, I doubt he fill find anyone who would benefit from a batting hand change. That happens more when you are a kid. Nevertheless, I now that Caalab will have some great tips for his team members.

Caalab took up bowling with his family a couple of years ago, and has done quite well. Like softball, Caalab’s bowling is unusual, bit just like his dad, Travis Royce’s bowling. They don’t use the finger holes, but rather palm the ball. The result is a pretty serious curve. The thing about this type of curve is that most people can’t control it very well, but Caalab and Travis have both figured it out. This was Caalab’s second year of bowling, and he is doing very well. Early in the season…October 10th, to be exact, Caalab got his first 200 game. It was a 203. And he didn’t stop there, he got several more throughout the season. He is turning into quite the bowler. Maybe he takes after his grandparents, my husband, Bob and me. I know that he will have many more to come, because he is just pretty good at sports.

Today is Caalab’s 21st birthday. I can’t believe that he could already be 21 years old. I know that his parents are planning to take him out to the local casino to do a little gambling, and of course, for that traditional first legal drink. It is going to be a great time for sure, and I hope he really enjoys himself, and of course, “Win BIG, Caalab!! I hope you hit the jackpot. I’m glad you aren’t driving home, however!!” Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Alena Stevens is in the middle of preparing for one of life’s biggest changes…grand-motherhood. The biggest life change is motherhood for sure, but grand-motherhood ranks right up there with motherhood as being one of the most special times of our lives. Alena’s son, Garrett Stevens, and his beautiful wife, Kayla are expecting their first child in August, and Alena is beyond excited…as is her husband, Mike. I know Alena is going to be an amazing grandmother. Alena’s work with children at Verda James Elementary School has kept her on top of the whole kid thing, and up to date on the latest cool stuff kids like. That’s an advantage that many grandmothers don’t have, and so they had to re-acclimate themselves to, but not Alena. The students she works with at the school love her very much and she loves them too. As her little granddaughter grows, Alena will be one of the cool grandmas, which is always a big plus.

Alena also loves to decorate, and sometimes I think she missed her calling, because the decorating she does on her home is lovely. She has a real eye for it. Most of us hang a few pictures up, and hope we made them look a little different than a picture album, but not Alena. Her flair for decorating makes her home a show piece. Maybe I should make her come and decorate mine. Alena like to change her house up periodically, to give it new life, and that could be part of the reason that it is always a showpiece. Whatever the case may be, she has a lovely home that people enjoy coming over to.

Alena is a summer girl, which makes her June birthday the perfect time of year.While no officially born in the summer, it marks the beginning of what most of us deem to be summer. Alena love the heat and being out in it,especially at the lake. She looks forward to her husband’s family’s yearly trip to Boysen Reservoir, where they enjoy the water, the sand and sun, and spending time with the whole family.She especially loves their annual horseshoe tournament…complete with a traveling trophies for the year’s winners to gloat over. While the competition is fierce, the family isn’t they all get along very well, and the only time they are fierce is during the competition. Making it more fun, they choose teams or partners, so no one is always partnered with their spouse. Team work can take on a whole new meaning with this method. When you dont get to pick, but are placed with a team. Their annual trip is coming up soon, so I know she will be preparing for all the fun days to come, especially with the summer culminating with the best part of all…that new little baby girl. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Becoming parents for the first time is such an amazing thing. You are in awe of the beautiful gift God has given you, and you can’t wait to see them grow and become the person they are destined to be. Today was that special day for my grandson, Chris Petersen, and his beautiful fiance, Karen, when their daughter made her grand entrance into the world yesterday, May 30, 2018 at 4:35pm. She weighed in at 7 pounds 2 ounces. She was 19¼ inches long. She has soft wisps of brown hair, just like her parents did, and she is absolutely beautiful.

Their baby’s arrival has brought with it many changes in my family. Of course, Chris and Karen became parents, but also, my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin became grandparents. Their other son, Josh became an uncle. My daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis became great aunt and great uncle, and their children, Shai and Caalab now have a 1st cousin once removed. My husband, Bob and I are now great grandparents. And of course, there were the same changes for Karen’s family for her parents are now grandparents. And this baby has multiple great grandparents, and even one great great grandmother. Her siblings are now aunts and uncles. It’s an exciting day for sure.

My great granddaughter is a sweet little baby girl, who loves to cuddle with those holding her. She was wide awake, even after having a full day of work just being born. Everyone knows labor and delivery is a tough job on the mom, but the baby has a lot of work to do too, and it can be quite exhausting for those little babies. Nevertheless, she was excited to see what was going on around her, so she had her eyes wide open. What I found really special is how she just snuggled up to her daddy. She knew his voice from hearing him talk before she was born, and she cuddled up to him as if to say, “That’s my Daddy!” I find it so amazing that these babies can know their parents voices from inside the womb and so quickly relate to it after their birth. Such a sweet bond to both mommy and daddy. When her mommy had her, she was totally content. She would have snuggled up and stayed right there for the rest of the day. This pretty girl is a sweet combination of both of her parents, and we are just so in love with her. She has a big family who all love her very much and we can’t wait for all the wonderful times to come. Congratulations to Karen and Chris, your beautiful little family is growing, and we are so excited for the future!! We are so happy for you!!

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