Grandchildren

14237692_10209588912215189_7559655245821570841_n14222288_10209588768491596_3658693795732211363_nMy youngest grandchild, Josh Petersen has a plan for his life. He decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to be a firefighter and EMT, and he began taking college classes through the Boces program, that allows high school students to take college classes while still in high school. Josh had been interested in becoming a fire fighter, but that interest became his dream after his grandpa, Bob Schulenberg arranged a visit to the Casper Fire Station 3. The fire fighters not only showed him around, but explained how things worked. Then they suggested that he take Fire Science at Casper College while he was still in high school. I don’t think he had any idea that he could take that kind of a class while still in high school, but he was excited…and hooked. Now, it’s all he thinks about. He loved the Fire Science class, and has continued to take college classes with his full focus on becoming a firefighter and EMT.

As part of the Fire Science program, Josh was required to volunteer as several events. Josh changed so much when he started these events and the Fire Science program. He was completely in his element. It was like watching him become a fire fighter…right before our very eyes. Josh thrived on the volunteer work too, so much so, in fact that this year, even though in isn’t in the class that requires him to volunteer, Josh went to that instructor, and told him he wanted to volunteer. His instructor was shocked. I guess no one had ever asked to do it again, but you just don’t turn a volunteer away, so Josh is volunteering again this year. He will 14102478_10209588759171363_377691191620136209_n14183763_10209588758291341_1963445259551406170_nbe helping at three events, a 5K run, the Platte River cleanup, and the Fire Station 3 open house. He is so excited to be back helping the fire fighters do the things they do…even if these things aren’t fire related this time.

Josh loves everything fire fighter related…so much so, that he decided that he wanted some of his senior pictures taken at the fire station. So, his grandpa called to make that arrangement too. Josh had such a good time having those pictures taken. It was like he could see into the future. He saw himself as a fire fighter…like it had already happened. Soon Josh…before you know it. Today is Josh’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

12391288_10206780890179747_4998965293300153432_n11923207_1034484853252684_2593545910487408495_naAs I visited with my Aunt Dixie Richards at the Byer family picnic, last Sunday, she talked about how her grandchildren were getting older now, and they need her less and less. She was sad about that, because this was an era that had defined her life for the past 22 years…and truly even beyond that. She was mom first, and then grandma. It was who she was. Being mom and grandma defined her completely. Aunt Dixie was always about her family, and now she was feeling like they didn’t need her anymore. Of course, she and I both knew that wasn’t technically true. She is very important to all of the members of her family, it’s just that her idea of her usefulness was in question. It wasn’t that she didn’t think she was needed at all, she just wasn’t sure what her new role would be with these less needy grandchildren.

I can understand how she felt, because I have felt that way myself at different times in my life, as has Aunt Dixie. We were both caregivers…until were weren’t. We were hands-on moms…until the kids grew up, and did their own things. And now we are both hands-on grandmothers with grandchildren who no longer need our help. So, who will we be now? Will we someday soon become hands-on great grandmothers? Probably not, because the hands-on grandparents will be our children. Our role will be simply to hold and cuddle the great grandbabies sometimes, when we get the chance. It’s a strange place to be.

13626508_1226951904005977_8803677508541146878_n11745538_1018708074830362_6157017772407383499_naOf course, both Aunt Dixie and I will find our way in this new reality we live in. Our lives will be different, but that doesn’t mean the kids won’t need us, because they will. Aunt Dixie still has a younger grandchild…her only granddaughter, Mayme, but she is in school too, so she won’t have nearly as much time with her when school starts. It’s kind of a lonely feeling for Aunt Dixie, but like all of us, she will move forward, and figure out how to redefine herself, and before long it will all be ok again. Today is Aunt Dixie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageFor most of her life, my granddaughter, Shai Royce made it very clear that she was not into exercise, and most definitely not into outdoor exercise. As she grew up, she would consider going to the gym…but only if there was no other way to stay in shape. Then, she got into Zumba, and going to the gym started to be fun, instead of a lot of work. Still, outdoor sports were just not it for her…even though I tried to get her to join her grandpa and me on the walking path we often walk on.

One day, when the water at Pathfinder Reservoir was so high that it was overflowing the dam, we invited her to go out with us to see it. There was a bit of a walk to get imagethere, but that wasn’t what affected my granddaughter. It was what was at the end of that walk that grabbed her attention. The falls were stunning, no doubt about that. Shai and several friends made repeated trips back out to Pathfinder Reservoir and the falls.

Then, we told her we were going to hike the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain. Shai decided that she wanted to go along, but I was skeptical. I remembered her telling me that she didn’t like this sort of thing. I told her I wasn’t sure she was up for it…even thought she had walked the Platte River Trail with us a week before. I’m not sure if Shai was offended or determined, but she informed me that she could do it. So, we made the hike. Shai did amazing…better than I did actually. She liked it so much that she and I went again, two days later. She wanted to go again, but time didn’t imageimageallow it. Before I knew it, Shai was moving to Washington to join the rest of her family, but she left here a different girl…an outdoorsy girl, in fact.

Shai has been in Washington just a little more than a month now. She and her brother, Caalab met a girl named Heidi, and Heidi likes to hike. She took them on what Shai deemed the hardest hike she had ever been on, last week. The hike took them to Winchester Mountain. She texted me pictures, and I must say that I need to hike it too. What a magnificent place it is. Shai has come a long way over this past year, and finally my girly girl, who hated the outdoors, has become an outdoorsy girl!! Who would have thought that would happen?

13912610_1763473947256422_3195765707990779356_n[1]12669708_1069807123084063_9080868313336931548_n[1]These days, most people find themselves leading busy lives, but I doubt if many have had the kind of year, or actually year and a half that my nephew Dave Balcerzak, and my niece Chantel…his wife have had. Dave and Chantel are empty nesters now, because all their kids have moved out, but to make matters worse…they are between nests!! That’s not a bad thing, because they are in the process of buying a house. The bad part is packing, patching walls from nail holes, and cleaning their current place so they are ready to move into the new place in early September. Nevertheless, they are so very excited about buying this house. It is a dream come true for them, so all their hard work now will eventually be totally worth it. Dave is practically like a kid in a candy store. He keeps calling Chantel on the phone, just to tell her…”I bought you a house!!” That is pretty typical of Dave anyway, because Chantel is his princess, and he loves showing her just how much he loves her.

As if moving wasn’t enough to keep these two busy, they will have three weddings that hey have planned, paid for, and helped with in 16 months. The final one takes place in October, and then they will have one daughter left to eventually plan a wedding for. Their little family is growing by leaps and bounds, and they couldn’t be happier. They are grandparents for the first time now. Alice, who shares Dave’s birthday, thinks he hung the moon, and now her little sister, Izabella has him wrapped around her baby finger too. Dave is reveling in the pleasure of being grandpa, and the girls are very blessed too. And the fact that they are girls…well, that pretty much sunk Dave’s resistance ship right away. He would love them if they were boys too, but he is a sucker for those little girls. Sorry Dave…but it’s the truth.

Yes, it’s been a busy year for Dave and Chantel, and life just gets better and better every day, and add to that, 10649458_10153167063682237_5884941205658342552_n[1]1800330_1378895432380944_1295469140_n[2]any work they decide to do to the new house, and you have a recipe for a busy year to come. Let’s face facts here too…you always change something. Nevertheless, that work becomes very rewarding when it’s on your own house. I know that they are going to have a great time building a new life in their new home, with lots of precious moments there with the kids and grandkids. The possibilities are endless. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

grandpa spencer053grandpa spencer004 (2)Like most grandparents, my parents loved being grandparents. It’s not something that is hard for any grandparent to understand. Each new baby brings ever increasing joy to your heart. That is how my parents felt about their grandchildren. The babies were like a never ending source of joy, and they looked forward to each new addition with great anticipation. I know it is the same with most grandparents, but the way my parents felt about those babies showed on their faces in every picture I have ever seen of them with the babies. Each new life was a precious extension of themselves…through their daughters. It truly was a way for their line to continue on forever. It was like looking into the future for them.

Sometimes, as I look at the pictures of them with the babies, I wonder exactly what it was they were thinking. Did they see the future in the eyes of those babies? Did they marvel at the reality of that new little life, knowing that it came about through them and their children? Or did they simply wonder what this child…this new life, would become in the future? I’m certain that had a big part in it. I remember my own grandchildren as babies. I couldn’t wait for their personalities to present themselves. I wanted to know who they would become, and I have not been disappointed in any of them. I’m sure that is how my mom and dad felt too. We have a family of wonderful grandchildren, great grandchildren, and now a great great grandchild.

When we have more babies, however, Mom and Dad won’t be here to see them, and that makes me a little bit sad, because I know they would have loved to see all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. Of course, cheryl007Dad and Lizthey will get to know them in Heaven, but oh, how they would have loved to know them here. Grandchildren are a blessing straight from God, and I know that my parents loved each and every one of them, and they couldn’t wait for the next arrival. As the new babies arrive, I know that I will find myself thinking about Mom and Dad, and feeling just a little bit sad, because…well, Mom and Dad would have so enjoyed each and every one of them. I just wish they could have been here for all of the new family members we will have in the future, both spouses and babies, because the family will go on.

imageYou can think you are prepared for life’s changes, but until the exact moment they happen, you don’t really know. When my daughter, Amy Royce, her husband Travis, and son, Caalab moved to Washington state a year ago, I thought I would never get used to it, over it, or on with it, but time marches on, and I had no choice but to march along with it. Amy and Travis’ daughter, Shai stayed here in Casper, and I think it helped that I felt the need to try to lift her spirit and help her make the transition from being a kid living at home to an adult living in her own place. It was such a hard change for both of us. Memories of Amy, Travis, and Caalab were everywhere, but for me, especially Amy, since we worked together. I think that the hardest part with Amy’s move was the empty chairs at the office, church, and Saturday morning breakfast. It will be no different this time, since Shai worked with me too. Now I have that empty chair at the office, church, and Saturday morning breakfast…again.

I have always been close with all my children and grandchildren, so as each one spreads their wings and flies imageaway, I find myself tearing up, as I look at their empty places and think about the length of time before I will see them again. For Shai, I know it is for the best. She has missed her family terribly, and while her grandparents might play a close second, we just aren’t her parents and brother. That isn’t a bad thing, because I know how much she loves us. It’s just impossible to replace your own family. Shai and Caalab have not always been good friends, but as the grew, they became very close, and I think this last year has been extremely hard on both of them. And she is very close to her parents, as well. My logical side is really very happy for her to be rejoining them, it’s just my emotional side that can’t seem to wrap itself around the logic, and every time I see a place where Shai used to be, I feel lonely all over again.

When I came home at lunch I thought about the last few days. Caalab flew in on July 8th, and with both of their things here at my house, we had quite a disaster area going. Now all their things are gone, and the house imageseems very empty and very quiet. Of course, Bob isn’t here either, since he went with the kids to help with the move. Still, I think it will feel a little empty even when he gets home. It’s not because Shai lived with us, because she didn’t, but she moved out of her apartment on June 30th, and so for eleven days, her things were here. Now, after a whirlwind visit for Caalab, and the date of their departure coming up far too fast, I find myself facing that empty chair…again. I know I’ll be ok, because I’ve been through this before, but that empty chair will be a stumbling block for a while yet, no matter how I feel about it, or how much I try to avoid looking at it. Shai…I know that your life will be wonderful, just don’t forget where your grandpa and grandma live, and remember that we love you more than words can ever say.

Corrie and Grandma Knox 10002I can’t let my daughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen’s birthday go by without thinking of the other family birthday that is on this day…Corrie’s great grandmother, Nettie Knox. The day Corrie was born my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg, brought her mother in to see the baby. The first thing grandma said was that Corrie had been born on her birthday. She was so excited that her very first great grandchild had been given as a birthday gift to her. And a gift it was, to both of them. A gift that had the ability to transcend time and great distance.

Grandma Knox and CorrieSharing a birthday with her great grandmother built an unbreakable bond between Corrie and Grandma Knox. They shared each and every birthday from Corrie’s birth in 1975 to Grandma’s passing on July 29, 1990, just one month after Corrie’s 15th birthday. Not a birthday goes by now, that Corrie doesn’t think of her great grandmother, and the bond that they will always share. Even though her great grandmother is in Heaven now, the bond is as real as it ever was. Grandma Knox lives always in Corrie’s heart as her great grandmother and her birthday buddy, and that is a special thing that just doesn’t happen everyday. It is a special thing only for a select few who happen to be blessed enough to be born a birthday gift to their great grandmother.

Corrie - nowIMG_2962It’s hard for me to believe that Bob and I became parents for the first time 41 years ago today. At 7:10am, our precious little girl, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen arrived in this world. When they handed her to me I was in awe. Here she was…our perfect little baby, and she was ours…forever. How could that have been have been 41 years ago, when it feels like only yesterday?

Over the course of the last 41 years, much has changed. Corrie is the mother of a college graduate and a high school senior. She has been at her current place of employment for over 20 years, and they would be in quite a pickle without her capable handling of her duties. Corrie also runs a business from home as a virtual assistant and ghost writer. For those of you who have never heard of such things, like I was, a virtual assistant does all of the things that an office assistant does, but from their home. Corrie has had clients all over the United States. A ghost writer, is an author who writes for someone else. The credit goes to the person who hired her to write the book or article. Corrie is a great ghost writer, but I think she should also consider writing her own book…because she could do it.

When I think of Corrie, the mom…the picture that comes to my mind is of Corrie in a cape with a big “S” on her shirt, because Corrie really has always been Super Mom! When her boys, Chris and Josh were little, she was very active in their school. She headed up the parent organization…what used to be the PTA, and now I believe it is POPI, but I could be wrong on that. She also made sure the boys got to play all the sports their little hearts desired. She kept up with their studies, so she could help when needed, or just to make sure they got everything done in time.

The years have changed many things now, and before long, Corrie and her husband, Kevin will be empty nesters. They already do many things without the boys, since they are working a lot of the time. Chris is 217997_1933024280848_2458511_nIMG_8303getting ready to get his own place, but they will have Josh at home a while…when he’s not working, anyway. Josh has decided to live at home while going to college, so that will delay the sting of his leaving. Empty nest or not, the future is looking bright for Corrie and her family, and while she will always be mom, she might have to retire her cape, because they don’t seem to need Super Mom much now, but Mom…well, they will always need her. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Caalab Royce, Shai Royce, Joshua Petersen, Christopher PetersenimageYears ago, when my grandchildren were little, they went to the Boys and Girls Club as their after school daycare. At first, they went to a little west side branch of the Boys and Girls Club, until the larger club, that is now the only one in Casper, was built. The club was filled with things to keep the kids occupied and out of trouble after school. The main goal of the Boys and Girls Club is to prevent kids from being latchkey kids, who are home alone after school for several hours. It is well known that kids get in trouble when they have too much unsupervised time. At the time when my grandchildren were there, one of the projects was a very poignant correlation between the children and the future. The project featured handprints, including those of my four grandchildren. It was called the “The Hands That Hold The Future” and the kids were told it was going on display outside the Nicolaysen Art Museum.image

That was years ago, and long forgotten, because somehow it was never displayed at the Nic. The kids, especially my grandson, Chris Petersen, were disappointed, because they thought it would be cool to see their work there. Still, time blurs the disappointments we have sometimes, and the display faded into oblivion…until three of my grandkids, Chris, Shai Royce, and Josh Petersen were going to the movies. They stopped at the Loaf and Jug near Sunrise Shopping Center, and Chris was stunned to see the display there. Apparently it was placed there years ago. It was quite weathered.

While my oldest grandson, Chris was pretty young when they helped make the display, the memory came back to him. He told Shai and Josh about it, and Shai remembered it too. They even recalled which hands were theirs. Chris had wanted to be on top, and Josh was under his and to the left. Shai wanted to be next to her brother, Caalab Royce, and she remembered cutting off her fingers because of the crease at the joint of finger and hand. She also remembers being quite upset when told that she had done it wrong, and how the teacher imageimageput it together and on the display anyway. In a way, that uniqueness makes it stand out even more.

The sign has weathered a lot over the years of being there by the Loaf and Jug convenience store since about the early 2000s. The paint is peeling and some people might think it should be removed. I can honestly say that the hands of the children I know, that are on it, have grown into wonderful people. If most kids of that era turn out as well as my grandchildren, I can say that our future is in good hands.

CaalabIt’s so amazing to me that my little smiley grandson, Caalab Royce is all grown up. It seems like just yesterday that he was a little two year old boy who played with my hair every chance he got. He was full of life and energy. There was never a dull moment when Caalab was around. That is still the way he is today. Whether he is hiking, working out, or goofing off, Caalab is loving life. For some time now, Caalab has loved hiking and going for walks, and with his mostly evening shift at Red Robin, he has lots of time to walk the many trails that wind their way around Bellingham, Washington, where Caalab works. One of these days I will walk them with him, and I’m looking forward to it. We go for a visit in a few months.
Caalab playing his guitar
Caalab loves to joke around…always has. As a little kid, he could tell me jokes so well, that I thought he was reading them to me…until I remembered that he couldn’t read yet. That kid just knew the jokes. I suppose his dad, Travis, who is also a great joker, told him the joke, and little Caalab remembered it word for word. No forgotten punch lines for that kid…he knew those jokes cold. Caalab could easily become a comedian, but his real love is music. He began playing the guitar in middle school, and he has never lost interest. In fact, he wants to build his own guitar. He loves them so much, that his first tattoo was of his first guitar.

Caalab has always been a likeable guy…especially to the girls. Of course, he doesn’t think so. That’s because he Being Watcheddoesn’t always see the girls watching him. Nevertheless, they do. In fact, his sister, Shai Royce, has been told that some girl likes her boyfriend…after which she laughs and says, “She can have him…he’s my brother.” That usually brings a good laugh, because everyone thought that Shai and her brother, Caalab were boyfriend and girlfriend. Wow!! Were they ever off base. And the most amazing thing about the girls that like Caalab is that their are of varying ages. From older to younger. And most of the time, Caalab has no idea, because he’s not conceited. I can’t really blame them though. He is a cutie. I suppose I’m biased, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Today is Caalab’s 19th birthday. I wish I could be there. I miss you bunches. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!