Grandchildren

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My little grand-niece, Mackenzie Rose Moore is a happy little girl who has much of her mommy’s personality. Mackenzie is the first child of my niece, Lindsay Moore and her husband, Shannon, and they couldn’t be happier if they tried. Mackenzie lives with her parents in Greenville, North Carolina, and so we don’t get to see her very much, but her mommy makes sure we get lots of pictures of her.

Mackenzie is usually smiling, and sometimes goofy. She seems to like entertaining her parents with her antics, and loves to pose for pictures. Mackenzie isn’t walking yet…at least not without the security of the furniture in the house. Don’t think that has stopped her from getting into everything, because it hasn’t. She just isn’t too sure about moving away from the furniture yet. She crawls everywhere, and stands up without assistance when she is holding on to a toy or something, and she is fascinated with the refrigerator. Apparently she knows that there is good stuff in there.

Being the daughter of a football coach, makes football a given, and Mackenzie embraces that fanship like a veteran. She enjoys going to her daddy’s football games at East Carolina University, where he is the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. She is learning to be his best cheerleader!! And she’s a Pirates fan all the way. And she likes to watch football on television with her daddy too. Of course, anything she is doing with her daddy is fun, according to Mackenzie. The family spent a fun summer going to the pool, camping, and just being together. Her first word was Dada, which I’m sure pleased Shannon, but her favorite word these days is Momma. Nevertheless, rest assured, this baby girl loves her daddy too.

This first birthday has to be a record for unusual birthdays, or at least unusual ways to celebrate a first birthday. Mackenzie had to get out of bed very early yesterday morning, so she and her mommy could get on a plane to fly to Wyoming, because of Hurricane Florence. Greenville, North Carolina is inland from the coast, but this hurricane is set to be a bad one and is expected to stall over the area. If the power is out for several days, it could become miserably hot at their house. So, Mackenzie and her mommy, said goodbye to her daddy, who was getting on a plane for Florida for a game with his team, and off they all went. Mackenzie spent a few weeks with her Grandma and Grandpa Moore this summer, and now gets to see the Hadlock family. Today is Mackenzie’s 1st birthday. It’s a birthday to remember. Mackenzie won’t, but her parents sure will. Happy birthday Mackenzie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Today, September 9, 2018, my grandson, Josh Petersen, the last teenager in our family, turned 20. It is very strange to think about the fact that we have no teenagers. The teenage years have been a big part of our family for so many years…9 to be exact. I know that many families have teenagers for a lot longer, but then all four of my grandchildren arrived within 2½ years…from first to last. So, now we begin a new era. One where our grandchildren are adults, and have or soon will begin families of their own. It’s a strange thing when your family goes from one era to the next, but then, you get used to it, and you go on…like we will now. Life is a process that you just cant slow down, no matter how much you would like to.

In reality, Josh has seemed older than his years for a while now. He has been taking college classes since he was a kid in high school, and already has his associates degree in Fire Science. He has a year of full time college behind him now,and has started the Paramedic program this year. I am so proud of how far he has gone. He came from a beginning that was 5 weeks before he should have arrived, to spending 2½ weeks in Denver’s Presbyterian Saint Luke’s neo-natal intensive care unit; to growing like a weed; to helping with caregiving from his great grandparents for 13 years; and now, to studying for his own career in fire science and paramedics. I have always felt Josh would be perfect in this type of career, because he has a caregiver’s heart and is meticulous in the things that needed done. If you told him howto do something, he did it…just exactly as you said…no improvising. We always knew we could trust him, and trust is a big thing in the world of caregiving. People are entrusting you with their lives.

Josh is a kind and loving young man, with a strong sense of integrity. He is not one to lie to you. Oh, I’m not saying that he has never told a lie…we have all done that, but he doesn’t make a habit of it. When he tells me something, I believe him. Josh tries to do his best in everything he does, and I really respect that. As he transitions from a boy to a man, I feel a great sense of pride in the man he is becoming, and I know that he will go far in his chosen career, and in life. The things he is doing are so perfect for his personality, and that makes me very happy. And, it makes me happy that he is having so much fun doing it. As the old saying goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That is what Josh has done, and I am very proud of him, and very proud of the firefighter he will one day be. Today is Josh’s 20th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Aurora Hadlock is growing up so fast. She is a girl of many talents. Of course, having a big brother, Ethan, who loves his sister and hangs out with with her, helps Aurora to diversify in her choices of activities. Ethan has taught her to play Minecraft,and they play together. Also,having a big brother who likes football has made Aurora like the game too. So it seemed only logical for her to decide to sign up for Flag Football. I know that she will have a great time with that. She is athletic,and while she has a girly side, there is a little of a tomboy in her too.

Aurora still loves to read and has since the day she learned how. Reading has always been a big part of her life. Her parents and grandparents read to her, as did her big brother. Books have long been a highlight of Aurora’s life. She also likes art…a trait that she gets from her mother, who is very crafty. They love to make beautiful things for their home, and as in her mother’s case, selling them. I don’t think it will be very long before Aurora’s mom can include some of her artwork for sale too.

Something I was not aware of is that Aurora is actually a chip off the old block…or as in her case, two blocks…her dad, Ryan Hadlock and her grandpa, Chris Hadlock. Both of the men play the guitar, and now I have learned that Aurora plays too. She is learning from them, and loves to have jam sessions as a threesome. Really, that is pretty impressive for a 7 year old girl. Of course, when you look back in her genealogical line, she comes from a long line of guitar players, that include her great grandpa, Allen Lewis Spencer, and 2nd great grandpa, Allen Luther Spencer. With all that talent (and maybe more for all I know) in her lineage, it’s no wonder that Aurora is a guitar player at the tender age of 7 years. I think it is sad that her other grandpa’s didn’t get a chance to jam with her too, but maybe they can in Heaven when we all get there.

Aurora is such a sweet little girl who is always smiling. She is getting ready to start 2nd grade this year, and I know she will do very well, because she is a good student who loves to learn new things. She has enjoyed her summer, and has done some great things, including a family vacation to Disneyland, where she met lots of Disney characters, and especially loved the rides…if I know her. But then, the princesses and mermaids were probably highlights too. Aurora has had a great year, and I know the coming year will be even better. Today is Aurora’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Aleesia Spethman is the youngest child of her parents, Jenny and Steve Spethman, and the youngest grandchild of my sister, Cheryl Masterson. Aleesia is a bubbly six year old girl who is getting ready to start first grade on September 4th. She is quite excited about the coming school year, but she is ok with it not starting for a couple of weeks. Aleesia has lots left to do with her summer, and then she will get back into the swing of things for school. She is a very active little girl and she loves to spend time with her parents, brothers, and her grandma.

After spending the day at home or doing things with her mom and brothers, Aleesia often spends time with her grandma in the evening. They love to hang out and watch movies or talk. It really isn’t about what they do, but rather that they do it together. They are just very close. On Thursday nights, my sister; her daughter, Liz; Aleesia; and I go out to dinner. It is our chance to do something fun…a girls’ night out sort of thing. Aleesia always feels special that she gets to hang out with the grown-ups. We always have a great time. Aleesia keeps us laughing, and we always have a great time.

As much as Aleesia loves to hang out with her grandma, she loves her family, and before long, she is ready to go home. Aleesia hates it when her grandma goes out of town, and she misses her very much, but she would really miss her family if she went along with grandma, so she doesn’t do that yet. Maybe someday. She is the kind of girl who really wants everyone she loves to be in the same place. In fact, if she had her way, she would probably have her grandma move in with her family, then she would never have to be separated from any of them. Aleesia is a little girl who has a deep love for her family. She might fight with her brothers, but they are her brothers, and she loves them. Of course, they love her too, and they treat her like she is a little princess. She really is, you know. She is the little princess that they had waited for a very long time. Today is Aleesia’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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!!

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