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My granddaughter-in-law, Athena Petersen has had a very busy year. Since her last birthday, she and my grandson, Josh Petersen had their first child, Justin Petersen, who was born on October 14, 2022. Then, they got married on June 24, 2023, and to finish the year in style, just nine days ago, they had their second child, Axel Petersen…for a set of Irish Twins. Irish Twins are siblings who were born within a twelve-month period. All this made for a very busy year, with all this taking place between two birthdays. Most of us would be hard pressed to get a third of this done in one year.

Having Irish Twins is such a cool thing. I know, because I am also a mom of Irish Twins. As Athena and Josh with find out, the boys will have a period of time where they will be the same age. Sometimes they think that it’s cool, and sometimes not so much. It really depends on how old the kids are. As they get older, it will become cool. They will also find out that they will have three years of diapers instead of four, although they will likely use the same number of diapers to do it. Having Irish Twins can be a lot of work…at first. Often the older child can’t walk when the younger one is born. My daughter didn’t walk until she was thirteen months old, so I had two month of carrying both kids. As for Athena and Josh, Justin is beginning to walk now, so that will be a little bit easier for them. Even with Justin walking, the first year with Irish Twins is a blessed, wild ride.

Athena is a sweet girl and a wonderful mom, handling her older son with ease, as I know she will the two boys. She is a natural boy mom, having been auntie to a number of nephews, as some nieces too. Children love her, and she is a kid at heart, who can totally relate to children, making her a natural mom. She and Josh are so happy together, and we couldn’t have asked for a better wife for him. They are perfect for each other, and they have known each other for a long time. I think they will always be best friends, and that is the most important part of being husband and wife. If your husband is your best friend, your marriage will always be filled with comradery. That is my hope for Athena and Josh. It is God’s best for a marriage. Today is Athena’s birthday. Happy birthday Athena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Life is changing drastically for my grandniece, Jolene Thompson. Recently, her family moved from Riverton, Wyoming to Shoshoni, Wyoming, and they now live on a farm. Jolene, who is very much an outdoor girl now gets to take care of animals, and that suits her just fine. With the move came a new school, and Jolene is really thriving there. Living in Shoshoni also puts her in the same town as her grandparents, and that closeness is going to be awesome. Jolene is such a social girl, so she has already made lots of friends already. Not everyone can just pick up and start over in a whole new place and immediately have a ton of friends, but Jolene can. Jolene has an amazing smile, and it draws people to her. She is truly a friend magnet. Not only does Jolene have lots of friends, but she is such a leader. When she makes friends, she is the leader of the pack too. She isn’t a girl who gets into trouble, so having her be the leader of the pack is definitely a great thing, and her friends’ parents love it.

Jolene, who goes by Jo as much or more than Jolene, loves to fish. Her dad, Tim Thompson also loves to fish, hunt, go camping, and every other kind of outdoor activity, so it stands to reason that his daughter would also love these things. The family threw a great big birthday bash for Jo, and of course, the theme of the party was…you guessed it, fishing. Jo is her daddy’s mini-me, and if her daddy likes something, so does she. And to top it off, she is very good at all the outdoor sport things her daddy likes. She loves to catch bugs, hunt, fish, and really any of the outdoor things. And of course, Jo can totally keep up with all the boys, but don’t let that fool you, because she is very much a girly girl…just not a wimpy girl. In fact, don’t call her a fisherman, because she is a fisher…GIRL!!

While Jo can and does “keep up with” the boys, she wants to dress and look like a girl! In fact, my niece, Kellie Hadlock (who is Tim’s girlfriend) says, “I dare you to try putting her in some Carhart overalls for fishing, lol!!” Outside of all that she is the toughest, sweetest, funniest, and smartest little girl!! Tim and Kellie are so incredibly proud of her!! Jo is very down to earth, but also very bubbly and fun, and our whole family feels blessed to know her. Today is Jo’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Jo!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Jason Sawdon is a true caretaker. While many people have become caretakers by necessity, or because of their career choices, few are the kind of person that instinctively places the needs and comfort of others before their own needs. Jason is one of those few…true caretakers. Jason really loves making sure everyone around him is comfortable and that they have what they need. Jessi, my niece, Jason’s wife tells me that “It doesn’t matter if we have guests or if we’re camping, or if we are guests at someone’s house. He always makes sure everyone is situated first before taking care of himself.” That is the kind of thing that endears Jason to everyone who knows him.

Jason is the epitome of selflessness. Jason has such a caring nature, and on top of this, he is an incredibly patient teacher. A couple of years ago, Jason was promoted to Sergeant of Equipment and Technology with the Wyoming Highway Patrol. Part of Jason’s job is to train people on the systems they use. There are a lot of people to train, and what they do is very important. When Jason is not working, he is always willing to lend a hand while teaching at the same time. Jason never acts frustrated if people ask questions…or how many times they ask. Jason never loses his patience with his students, and he is totally understanding when a student needs extra help. Jessi tells me, “I promise you’ve never met a more patient, understanding man.”

Jason love his family, and Jessi’s family. He is really good to all of them. He and Jessi have been spending a lot of time with Jessi’s sister, Lindsay Moore, her husband Shannon Moore, and daughter Mackenzie. They live about an hour away from each other, and that makes it convenient for both. And the little girls are very close, so they get cousin time, and we all know that’s important. Shannon is a coach for the Wyoming Cowboys, so they go to a lot of the games, and everyone has a great time.

Jason is an incredible highway patrolman, but he is also a fun-loving guy, a great husband, and a wonderful dad to their daughter, Adelaide. Always making jokes and up for an adventure. Jessi and Adelaide love spending time with him. His job keeps him very busy, but he never lets anything come before his family. Of course, that means putting himself last again, because even when he is exhausted…family comes first. Jessi says, “Jason is just a generous all-around good guy that everyone loves and gravitates toward. We’re so blessed that he is ours and we get to celebrate him!” Today is Jason birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Recently, I took a trip to Ferndale, Washington to visit my daughter, Amy Royce, her husband, Travis, and kids Shai and Caalab. While I was there, Amy, Shai, and I took a side trip to Lopez Island. Amy had been looking for things to do while I was there, when she came across Spencer Spit. A spit is a narrow coastal land formation that is tied to the coast at one end. Spits frequently form where the coast abruptly changes direction and often occur across the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream.

Spencer Spit was of particular interest to me, because it was owned by a Spencer family, up until 1967 anyway. It was then that Raymond Spencer who decided to sell the land to the state of Washington to be a park. The area had been owned off and on by the Troxell and Spencer families since the 1880s, but the details are a bit sketchy. The two families apparently traded the land back an forth for a while. In 1886, the Spencer family took possession of the land, and it was there that their son Raymond was born a year later. In 1888, Franklin Troxell came to the land and received a land grant under the Homestead Act. He built the house that stood until 1979. He also built a stone and timber shed in the early 1950s. Those structures still stand today. There was also a guest house built out on the spit where friends and family stayed. It was later torn down. A picnic shelter stands in its place now.

From 1918 to about 1922, Ramond Spencer captained a kelp harvester ship in the waters around Lopez Island, called Harvester King. They harvested kelp for the Kelp Plant. Then in 1922, the ship was reconfigured to ferry cars. It was the first ferry to serve the San Juan Islands, but after one season, it was decided that the ship was not really suited to the job of ferry boat. The ride was just too rough, so it was beached in Olympia until she was ultimately scrapped. Apparently while kelp is used to make fertilizer today, it was not as successful back then. I guess that Harvester King was simply ahead of her time. Maybe if she had been built a few decades later, she would still be operating today.

While their 25th anniversary was three years ago, my daughter, Amy Royce and her husband Travis Royce are heading out today on their 28th anniversary to celebrate their 25th anniversary, which just so happened to land in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. They had wanted to take a cruise to Alaska for their 25th anniversary, but the cruise ships weren’t sailing then. Now they are, and the ridiculous restrictions are gone, so off they go to have the trip of a lifetime, and I am so excited for them. Since Amy’s dad and I took an Alaskan cruise and absolutely loved every minute of it, I can’t wait for them to experience the same amazing trip we did.

Amy and Travis are so perfect for each other. They are both funny and they like many of the same things. They don’t get stressed or bent out of shape about things, but rather they pretty much go with the flow of life. I think that’s a big part of why their marriage works so well. In a number of ways, they remind me of how my parents and grandparents were with each other. From pet names to the way they think, they just fit in with that same easy compatibility that my parents and grandparents had. It’s funny how some couples can immediately seem like they have been married for decades, and it just gets better and better as the years go by. Amy and Travis are like that. I love the pet names especially, although I won’t tell them here, because that is their names for each other, and not for anyone else to use.

Amy and Travis lived in Wyoming while they raised their children, but then moved to Washington state in 2004. They do love it there, and it is beautiful. Of course, we miss them, because we don’t get to see them very much, but going for visits is always a great treat. They have a beautiful place up in the Ferndale area and they love fixing up the yard with flowers and turning it into an oasis. They are so happy with their home, and they love to entertain family and friends there. They have a garage/recreation room that has been turned into the T&Avern, which is their own private club. They have a pool table in there and you might even get to listen to Tavis and Caalab play guitars, while Shai sings. Caalab and Shai are their two grown kids. For Amy and Travis, it’s an ideal life. Today is their 28th Anniversary. Happy anniversary on the Royal Princess!! Have a wonderful time!! We love you!!

There are certain situations when I think citizenship is a must have element, and some that I think “natural-born” citizenship is absolutely essential. On September 15, 1935, German Jews were stripped of their citizenship, reducing them to mere “subjects” of the state. This heinous crime was carried out by the “president and chancellor of Germany,” Adolf Hitler. I use the quotation marks, because Hitler should never have been allowed to be in that office. Adolf Hitler became a citizen of Germany on February 25, 1932. Hitler, who was born in Austria, had immigrated to Germany in 1913, and renounced his Austrian citizenship in 1925. Hitler was a stateless nomad from 1925 to 1931, when he decided on the political ambition of becoming president and chancellor. That was when he decided to become a citizen, in fact that was the only reason he became a citizen. Hitler had a plan to take over and completely transform Germany, and his “transformation” was to be the worst thing for Germany. I think that is why a president needs to be a “natural-born” citizen. A president needs to have a connection to his country…a connection he is born into. Then and only then does he have the ability to care about the country…not that all presidents do, but they have that ability, because they belong. I’m sure some would disagree with me, but it will not change my mind.

His citizenship actually came about when a fellow member of the Nazi Party appointed Hitler to a low-level government job that came with automatic citizenship. Once he was a citizen, Hitler’s new status allowed him to achieve his political goals. As a citizen, he could run for office. Hitler made sure that he was well liked, and by the middle of 1934, he was in complete control of Germany as Führer und Reichskanzler (leader and chancellor). He didn’t wait long to begin, and soon redefined citizenship to serve his beliefs. He was a hate-filled man, and he used race and pan-German heritage to give citizenship to, and take it from, large groups of people. Citizenship now depended on how Hitler felt about the people. Many would say that he was a white supremacist, but the reality was that there were many races of people he didn’t like, and many of them were white, so it wasn’t about color. As World War II began, Hitler’s views on German supremacy were fueling a military campaign that destroyed borders and entire populations all across Europe. People who were born in Germany and had been citizens all their lives were being systematically stripped of their citizenship, their rights, and their lives, just because they were Jews, blacks, gypsies, and some other races. Hitler’s goal was to rid the world of anyone who was not “pure-blooded” German stock. Never mind the fact that he was not!!

Practically from the minute he took office, Hitler began issuing what we would call “Executive Orders” that barely disrupted the lives of those “pure-blooded” German stock, other than to basically elevate them to the level of “masters” over anyone who did not qualify as “pure-blooded” German stock. His dream of a “pure-blooded” society soon became a nightmare for many. Many of the German “pure-blooded” German citizen didn’t agree with what he was doing, and some didn’t really understand what he was doing, exactly, but some of them saw it as an opportunity to take from the “unqualified” citizens, anything they wanted. They became brutal in their treatment of the “unqualified” citizens, especially the Jews.

Hitler began his persecution of the Jews within the first year of office. German Jews were excluded from many high-profile vocations, such as public office, journalism, radio, theater, film, and teaching, and even farming. The professions of law and medicine were also withdrawn slowly as opportunities. “Jews Not Welcome” signs were posted on shop and hotel windows, beer gardens, and other public areas. Known as the Nuremberg Laws, these discriminatory acts became a deep-seated part of the German culture, which in turn, making them even more far-reaching. Jews were forbidden to marry “Aryans” or engage in extramarital relations with them. Jews could not employ female Aryan servants if they were less than 35 years of age. Hunger soon became a part of Jewish life, because it became difficult even to buy food, as groceries, bakeries, and dairies would not admit Jewish customers. Even pharmacies refused to sell them medicines or drugs. Their lives soon began to simply spiral towards despair and eventual death.

At first, the outside world didn’t understand what they were seeing. Unemployment had dropped exponentially under Hitler’s early commandeering of the economy. Things actually looked better to the world. A very few, some foreign visitors, even some political opponents within Germany itself, saw these racist laws and practices for what they were, but most were beguiled into thinking it was merely a phase. They assumed that the “birth pains” of Hitler’s developing plans would eventually smooth out and the bad parts would fade away, as he began to focus more on the economy and less on race, but they were wrong, because Hitler was a very determined, and very focused dictator…and he was insane, as the world and the German people would soon find out. It is my opinion that even a seemingly good citizen, who is not “natural-born” is not a good candidate for president, because their ideas and plans for a nation they have no real stake in, will be very unlikely to produce good for the nation in the end.

My grandniece, Alli Simpson, who isn’t my official grandniece yet, but I expect that she will be one day soon, is my grandnephew, Xander Spethman’s girlfriend. They have been together for almost three years now, and are so perfectly suited for each other, that it is hard to believe that they aren’t married yet. Some couples are that way. Their relationship makes them seem married even though they aren’t yet. Alli also fits into the Spethman family like she is already a daughter-in-law, and they love her very much. Alli and Xander might have moved to their own place now, but they are still very close to the Spethman family, and many nights find them at the Spethman house enjoying time with his siblings and parents.

This past year has been a busy one for Alli an Xander. They moved into their own place, and she started a candle making business called The Funky Candle Company, and in August, she announced that her candles could be purchased at the Copper Leaf in Glenrock, Wyoming, as well as online at her website (coming soon), and at her Facebook page The Funky Candle Co. I am so happy for her and her business. She had wanted to be a nurse, but with Covid-19 and the vaccinations, she decided against that career. This new venture has been very fruitful and gratifying for her.

Alli and Xander love pets, and they have three. They rescued two dogs, Rocky and Thor, and they have two cats too, Jasper and Salem. Jasper loves Allie so much, as do the “boys” Rocky and Thor, as well as Salem. Alli has a heart of gold, and when it comes to animals, she is a total softie. Animals can tell when someone is an animal lover, and they can tell when someone isn’t, and they will stay away. Animals are drawn to Alli and Xander, because they love pets so much. With their four pets, their little family is complete…for now anyway.

Alli also loves plants, and she can grow anything. She reminds me of my daughter, Amy Royce in that way. With those two, is best to either keep them out of a plant nursery or get out of their way when they walk in the door, because they can get pretty excited. Being a green thumb is an amazing skill, and one I wish I had, but alas, I do not. That said, I am in awe of those who are green thumbs, like Alli. Today is Alli’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday Alli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My little grandniece, Mackenzie Moore is growing up so fast that I can’t believe it. This year she has started Kindergarten, and she is having such a great time. Mackenzie loves learning, and she loves being around other kids. Like her mom, Lindsay Moore, Mackenzie is a very social girl. She makes friends easily, and with her smiling face, she is always well liked. Mackenzie has decided that she enjoys all the “specials” like art, PE, music, and library. Over the summer, she and her mom and dad, Shannon Moore, did a lot of bicycling, and Mackenzie learned to ride without her training wheels. That was an important skill, because now she and her mom ride their bicycles to take her to school every morning. It is such a special time for both of them.

Mackenzie’s sparkly personality and style make her a friend to many people. Mackenzie has made friends with all the neighbors, and she goes to visit them regularly. They love her so much and look forward to her visits. I remember her mom doing the same sort of thing at church, basically floating around the room to greet everyone. She didn’t do it like most of us do…the old “Hello” and move on. No, she actually talked to them and they to her. That is the kind of “visits” Mackenzie does too. That’s why all the neighbors love her. She truly cares about her neighbors. Their ages don’t matter to her, because she only sees the people, and Mackenzie likes people. And because she is so sweet, they enjoy having her come over too.

Mackenzie’s 5th year was a fun one, and quite busy. She and her parents did quite a bit of traveling. They went to Texas for the Wyoming Bowl Game. Her daddy is one of the coaches, so Mackenzie goes to lots of games, and she understands football more than most girls her age. They will be headed back to Texas for another game this weekend. They also went to California and visited Disneyland and did lots of camping over the summer. Then, Mackenzie and her cousins, Ethan and Aurora Hadlock, and Adelaide Sawdon all went to Vacation Bible School at her church. During that week, Mackenzie received Jesus as her savior! It was the greatest moment of the whole summer!! Mackenzie loves her cousins so much. She also has a cousin named Khloe on the Moore side of her family, and those two girls love to spend time together.

Now, Mackenzie is ready to begin her 6th year. It is a blank slate, where she will be free to create all the beautiful things her heart desires. Mackenzie has many talents, and whether she chooses ballet or sports, I know she will always do whatever she does, with the biggest smile on her face. It’s all part of her sparkly personality. Today is Mackenzie’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Mackenzie!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Josh Petersen is not the little boy that lives in my memory files, but these days, he is actually a married dad of two boys, Justin and Axel (coming soon). He and his wife, Athena Petersen are so happy with life, and they are so blessed. Little did they know when they met back in middle school, that their meeting was not just by chance. They were destined to be together, and now they are, all these years later. They are both so happy with the life they have built together. Their home is filled with love and laughter…and the pitter-patter of little feet.

Josh works as a fire extinguisher tech, for All Out Fire, and is probably their most essential workers. He has been with them a long time, and both his boss and the customers depend on his loyalty and capabilities. He is a conscientious worker, who can always be counted on to be there when he is supposed to. His ideas have even brought the company into the modern era, so they can be competitive in this current work climate. Much has changed over the last few years, both in our lives and in the working world. A company has to be ready to compete, and Josh has helped All Out Fire stay competitive.

Josh has always been a soft-spoken man, with a big heart. He helped with caregiving of his great grandparents, and that qualified him for taking care of others, including his son. He is completely comfortable caring for Justin when Athena is working, or any other activity she might be engaged in. Justin loves his “Da Da” so much, and of course that was his first word…sorry Athena. I know you were hoping for “Ma Ma” but Justin decided. You know how babies are. Making up their own minds and all. Justin can be crying, but when his “Da Da” shows up, he is as happy as a clam. He starts jumping up and down and can’t wait for Josh to pick him up. I love the relationship he has with his boy.

The next chapter in Josh’s life is coming up soon. Little Axel is due on September 24th, but as we all know, that is subject to change, because babies have their own schedules. Josh and Athena are already seasoned parents, but having two babies, is going to be a new step. Their babies with be “Irish Twins” because they will be born within a year of each other. Josh’s papa and I did the same thing with our daughters, Corrie Petersen (Josh’s mom) and Amy Royce (Josh’s aunt). It was a fun experience, and I know that Josh and Athena will have a lot of fun with it too. I am very excited to see what this next chapter of his life will bring. Today is Josh’s 25th birthday. Time has sure gone by fast. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I think we all have one…a second career, or a career that could have been, had we chosen to take a different road in life. Some people actually step back from the career they have, sometimes, to pursue the one that should have been, and others simply know that they could have, if they had chosen to. I was one of those people. I spent much of my working years as an insurance agent, and a good one, I believe, but after spending thirteen years as a caregiver, I also know that I could have been a nurse, had I chosen that road. My daughter, Corrie Petersen chose to make that journey transition, and now she is a nurse, after spending those same thirteen years helping my take care of her grandparents, along with her sister, Amy Royce, children Chris and Josh, niece, Shai Royce, nephew Caalab Royce, and many other family caregivers in our Caregiving Villages, but none of the rest of us made that second career choice.

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 during the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Apart from two years between 1922 and 1924, he was a Member of Parliament from 1900 to 1964 and represented a total of five constituencies. He was also a well-known war strategist, and a part of the reason that World War II ended the way that it did. One would think that he knew exactly what his one and only career was, and that he fulfilled his destiny, but he also had another career living inside of him, and some say that he missed his calling. Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill was a very talented artist. He actually painted 500 paintings, 50 of which were displayed professionally. In fact, it was Picasso, himself, who said that Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill missed his true calling, and very much could have chosen art as his career. My daughter, Amy Royce could have too, I think, as could my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen, and a number of others in my family. I have almost zero talent when it comes to art, but I am very impressed with those in my family who do.

I suppose that a second career that is never a road taken, would end up being called a “hobby” sometimes, although, I would not consider caregiving a “hobby” in any way, but art could fall into that category…as could writing, which I guess could have been a third career for me. Strangely, I don’t really consider myself to be an author, because I have never published a book. Is internet blogging of stories, publishing? Maybe. And maybe we all have many talents that could easily have turned into careers, had we decided to go down that road, or another road. Maybe, “That Second Career” isn’t really even the right title, nevertheless, it is the title.

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