Kids

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My grandnephew, James Renville is a quiet sort of guy, but let him decide that he needs to tease his dad or his step-dad, and he’s anything but quiet. He not only loves to tease them, but he loves to video the whole process. I’m sure he has two reasons for the video…re-living the moment, and re-torturing the victims. James isn’t being mean, he is just enjoying the moment…and you have to admit that once you have teased someone you love, you have to laugh about the moment for the rest of the day. James is also a great friend to his cousins, many of whom are much younger. He plays with them and teases them as well, and they all love it, and have a great time. That’s the funny thing about little kids…they love to be teased by their older cousins and such, because they know that it’s all in good fun, and they always love the attention.

James enjoys lots of fun activities with his parents. He loves to travel and they have gone to many awesome places. It has been educational, enlightening, and very fun for James. I’m sure that is why he loves to travel…especially in Europe. James as taken a couple of European trips already, and had a great time on both trips. James reminds me quite a bit of my dad, his great grandpa, Allen Spencer, in that way. My dad loved to travel and loved showing his family this great country. My dad, like James also did some travel abroad, but his travel was during World War II, so I’m sure that many things were different then.

James is in college now, attending Casper College here in Casper. He isn’t sure what field he wants to go into yet, and that’s ok. He is going to get all of the required subjects out of the way, and then he can fully focus on the career of his choosing. James is also a huge fan of and awesome participant in the sport of inline rollerblading. When he puts on his rollerblades, he is in his element. He loves all things rollerblades. James spends quite a bit of time watching YouTube videos of rollerblade tricks and crashes to learn new tricks…and maybe to avoid crashes. He enjoys perfecting his moves, and learning new ones from the videos he watches. His mom, Toni Chase, says he is amazing at rollerblading. Some day I will have to see him for myself. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Since my nephew, Garrett Stevens’ wife, Kayla was hired to work as a social worker in a therapy clinic in Sheridan, Wyoming, they have been busily planning their move. Garrett is still working here in Casper, and will start looking for work in Sheridan when they get moved up there. Kayla has been house hunting, and has found a great house for them to buy, so everything is falling into place for their move. I know that they are going to be very successful living in Sheridan, and since Kayla’s family lives there, they already have some leads for Garrett in his job search. Garrett is a great welder, and will be an asset to any company. I’m sure that he will find a great job quickly. I know that with this move comes the excitement of a new adventure…a new chapter in their lives.

The first years of their relationship, and this first year of their marriage have been spent with Kayla as a student. As anyone who has a masters degree knows, that means lots of studying. Of course, Garrett was supportive of Kayla in her studies, but now that the education time is behind them, I think they will have lots more time to do the fun things they like to do, and for starting a family in the future. That makes the next chapter of their lives very exciting. Things like becoming homeowners, and working in the careers that they have both studied for and enjoy, will make this new chapter very exciting for them.

Garrett loves doing outdoorsy things like camping, hunting, and fishing. He loves sports…all kinds of sports. But he is also very much a family sort of guy. He has been a great older cousin to all of his cousins. They love to hang out with Garrett, because he isn’t too “old” to play with them. So often, people who don’t have children, would rather that other people’s kids would just stay away, but not Garrett. He would love to have a dozen kids around him at any given moment, and it’s ok if they are crawling all over him too. He just takes it all in stride, or maybe like most kids, rough housing is the order of the day. And he loves babies as much as the older kids. Crying is not a problem. He will sooth them and before you know it, they are calm or sleeping. Garrett will make a great dad some day, but that is a completely different new chapter. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For most graduated college students, the next step is to look for a job in your field, and my niece, Kayla Stevens is no different. Since her graduation Kayla has sent résumés to several places in Casper, and in Sheridan, where she is from. It didn’t take very long for a therapy clinic in Sheridan to grab her up. When you have the grades she did, you become the pick of the litter of graduates. Things are happening pretty fast now. Kayla starts her new job in just ten days, and so she is working on finding a house for them to live in. I am not sure when her husband, Garrett, my nephew will be joining Kayla in Sheridan, but since she starts her job on June 19th, she will be in Sheridan before we have hardly had a chance to blink. I know how hard this will be for my sister, Alena Stevens, and her husband Mike, but of course, Kayla’s family has been missing her since she came to Casper for college. Kayla and Garrett decided that she would apply in both cities, and go where God led them, so I know that this move and this job will be a great blessing for both of them.

Kayla has such a caring heart, and the patients whose lives she will impact are among the most blessed people around. She loves working with children, so I hope that she will be able to have some kids in that group too, because they would be very blessed to have her helping them with whatever they need. I don’t know what Kayla’s job will entail, but I know that with her abilities, she will be very successful at it, and I look forward to hearing more about it as time goes by. Of course, with social work, as with any medical profession, privacy is the word of the day, so mostly we will hear about the general day to day work, and not about specific patients.

Sheridan is a beautiful town, and since Kayla and Garrett love to camp, they will really enjoy the easy access to the Big Horn Mountains, and all the other outdoor activities Sheridan has to offer. The future will be a very exciting one for them as they settle in to their new jobs, and I’m sure someday soon, start a family. I know that my sister, Alena and her family will also have a lot of visits to Sheridan in their future. Kayla and Garrett will come to visit too, but we will all miss them very much anyway. Today is Kayla’s birthday. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Alena Stevens, is the refocus room coordinator and an educational support staff member at Verda James Elementary School here in Casper, Wyoming. The resource room is really where children are sent when they have a learning disability or in some way need a little bit of extra one-on-one time with an instructor. The student getting this type of support will receive some time in the resource room, which is referred to as a “removal from the regular education environment” portion of the day and some time in the regular classroom with modifications and/or accommodations which may include specialized instruction with their non-impaired peers. It isn’t a punishment, but rather a way to enhance their education, by allowing them to relax, outside of the view of their peers who do not struggle, and get the assistance they need to succeed. Besides helping children who have a special need, Alena is the playground supervisor, so she get to spend time with all the children in the school…and they all totally love her and want to stay friends with her all of their lives.

It seems odd to me that I would have any specific knowledge of the on goings of the elementary schools, because my children are grown and so are my grandchildren, so how would I really know what is going on in the elementary schools? Well, in most cases, I wouldn’t, but because I have become friends over the years with some of the students who came in contact with my sister, and because our grand nephew, Ethan Hadlock and our grand niece Aurora Hadlock, go to the school too, I have seen what a wonderful, positive impact Alena has had on their lives. These kids remain friends with her, years after they leave elementary school, and the ones I know have become such wonderful people, and many of them say that Alena had a big part in that, because as we all know, when kids struggle in school, self esteem suffers, but with the help of wonderful people like Alena, there are a bunch of kids coming out of that struggle on the winning side of life, against all odds.

Not everyone has the ability to look back on their life and see the positive impact they had on the lives of others. Many people even wonder if anyone will remember them very long after they are gone, but when an elementary student remembers a teacher when they are married and have children of their own, you know that teacher was a very special person. That is what I hear about my sister, Alena Stevens, and it makes me proud. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my daughter, Amy Royce and her family moved out to the Pacific Northwest, it was initially to get away from the cold Wyoming winters, but it has been an amazing adventure for them in many ways. Amy always loved the rainforests and the beaches too, so the Pacific Northwest was the perfect location for her. In the two years since they moved to Washington, they have been hiking the amazing trails in the area, and of course, enjoying the sunsets by the water. Amy also had the opportunity to go to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which is an awesome spring display of tulips…acres and acres of tulips. It is a beautiful sight. I got to see it years ago, when my sister lived in that area, but I look forward to seeing it again with Amy.

In the two years that Amy has lived in Washington, I have seen her creative side simply blossom. She has done a few sessions at one of the places where you paint and have wine, and she liked it so much that her husband, Travis bought her a set of paints and an easel. Amy’s creative side just bubbled out of her. Every new painting is better than the last. I wish I had such talent. She and her sister Corrie Petersen, both seem to have inherited that talent…but they did not get it from me, hahaha!! Amy also loves to take pictures of the area she lives in, and posts them to her Facebook. They are beautiful, and since I love photography, I’ll take a little credit and say that she inherited that ability from me…whether it’s true or not. The pictures she takes while hiking are amazing, and the subject matter doesn’t hurt anything either. Still, the eye of the photographer is the main part of great photography.

While we wish that she lived closer to us, we always look forward to the trips we take out to see her and her family. Since we love to hike too, we went on a few of the trails while we were there the last time, but the next time we go, it will be in the summer, and we are going to have her take us to some of the places she went last month, because those places were stunning. It’s funny, because Amy was never so much the hiker. She usually went to the gym for her exercise, and suddenly she likes to get out in nature too. Something I find totally awesome. Today is Amy’s birthday. Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Very early yesterday morning, a little boy named Jaxx David Harman was keeping his parents up all night. That may not seem like a strange thing to the parents of little ones, but little Jaxx had a very good reason for keeping his parents up…it was going to be his birthday, and he was excited. It wasn’t his birthday yet, and no one knew for sure if his birthday would be May 29th or May 30th. It depended on just how much of a hurry Jaxx was in. As it turned out, Jaxx wasn’t in a big hurry, and by the time he made his entrance, it was 4:15am on May 30th. Let’s hope he doesn’t make a habit of being up so late.

Jaxx is the youngest child of my grand nephew, Jake Harman and his wife, Melanie. They have two daughters, Alice and Izabella, both of whom are very excited to have a little brother. Alice, being the oldest understands all this better than Izabella, but Izabella is quite interested anyway. Oh, I know that as little Jaxx grows up, he will most likely torment his big sisters, as most little brothers…or brothers in general…do, but they will love him anyway, because he is their brother, and nobody gets to be mad at him but them!!

I’m sure little Jaxx didn’t mean to keep his parents up all night, but I seriously doubt if it will be the last time. I hope that starting out this way is not indicative of how Jaxx will be in the future, because as we all know, parents need their sleep too, especially parents of little ones. But then again, I would much rather have a baby keeping me awake than a child out on a date, and running late for curfew. I’m sure Jake and Melanie don’t even want me to think about those days yet, but as we all know, time flies quickly by, and those days will be here before they know it. Until then, Jake and Melanie, enjoy that sweet little boy. He is so precious and we are all very happy for you. Congratulations!!

Seven days might seem like enough time when your kids come home for a visit, but when it comes time for them to leave, you find that it is definitely not enough time. Of course, deep down, you knew it wouldn’t be, you just hoped that you could cram everything you wanted to say and do into the short amount of time you had. Then, almost before the visit started, it’s time to say goodbye again. That’s how my Casper family feels every time our Washington family comes for a visit, and I’m sure that’s how they feel whenever we go to visit there too. Included in the visit is always a certain amount stress and pressure, both for them and for us, because they are trying to make time for their family…and their friends, and we are trying to spend as much time as possible with them. No one wants to share them exactly…selfish, I know, but when they are your babies, you tend to get a little bit selfish.

This trip home for my daughter, Amy Royce and her kids, Shai and Caalab, was to attend the graduation of my youngest grandson, Josh Petersen. The trip was wonderful, as we attended his graduation party, awards ceremony, and of course, the graduation. We went out to eat, and just sat around and talked, and we even had an early birthday party for Amy. We laughed, talked, and when I was given Friday off, we even did pedicures. The kids hooked up with all their friends, and for the most part, decided that sleep was an unnecessary vice best left to old people…and apparently mornings fell into that same category. Still, they all did their best to divide their time with family and friends as fairly as possible. Nevertheless, to my “mother’s heart” it was not enough time. I found myself wishing that I could turn back time to the first day of their arrival…over and over again.

Try as I might, before we knew it, the last day arrived. Amy had planned a friends night to get all her friends together at once, and it went very well. I made the bold move to “horn in” on the action, even though it was supposed to be for her friends, and they graciously accepted my intrusion. My only regret was that I should have “horned in” my other daughter, Corrie and her husband, Kevin, who I thought were spending the day with their son, Josh, who went back to Bellingham with Amy, Shai, and Caalab this morning to spend his Senior Trip with them. I suppose I should have realized that Josh would be attending the graduation parties of his friends, but I wasn’t thinking very clearly, because the kids were leaving and I was dreading the tearful goodbyes I knew were inevitable. Hindsight is 20/20. As I contemplate the visit that we had, mixed with the sad goodbyes, a thought came to me…”Goodbyes are always hard, but I’m very thankful that we can look forward to the next hello.”

My niece, Cassie Iverson is a mother of 2, a wife, and a photographer. She specializes in Wyoming wilderness photography, and her landscapes are amazing. She has such a great eye for color and interest. Her photos draw you into the scene until you feel like you are standing right there next to her, and isn’t that the mark of a great photographer. Cassie has begun selling her photography at Essence Wyoming Photography on Facebook. Cassie and her husband, Chris love to take their kids, Lucas and Zoey camping on the weekends, and it also gives Cassie lots of inspiration for her photography. Sometimes they just go for photography drives into the country to give Cassie a chance to take more pictures, and to get everyone out of the house and into nature.

While photography is Cassie’s forté, her life is her family. She loves her babies with all her heart, and her husband too, of course. She enjoys cooking for her family, and she is an amazing cook. She is a mom of two busy little kids, and they keep her hopping. Her oldest child, Lucas graduated from preschool a few days ago. It was an amazing accomplishment for Lucas. His journey has not been an easy one, with Down’s Syndrome, but Cassie and Chris have done an amazing job of helping him to reach his full potential. Both of their kids are very sweet.

Cassie and Chris love to go camping, and they love fishing. In reality, they love animals…especially taking pictures of wild animals. They have horses, dogs, and a rare Highlander cat. Now, I didn’t really know why this was a rare cat, so I looked it up. A Highlander cat is a hybrid cat. The Highlander cat is a curl-eared variant of the Desert Lynx breed, crossed with the Jungle Curl to achieve the curled ears. As Desert Lynxes, they are bobtailed or short-tailed, have spotted or marbled markings, and resemble the bobcat, however, they have no actual wild lynx or bobcat ancestry, making them completely domesticated. This cat does get to be about 14 pounds, however. Now that is quite a cat. All in all, Cassie leads a busy life, but it totally fulfills all of her dreams. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Xander Spethman is growing up so fast. It seems like yesterday that he was a little boy, and now I see a tall young man of 14 years. He has grown so tall and strong that I find myself having to do a double take to make sure it is Xander that I’m looking at…in fact, I recently saw him on the trail my husband and I walk on, and almost didn’t recognize him at all…and talking to him doesn’t help either, because his voice is suddenly pretty deep. I’m sure his years of doing sports have contributed to his new physique, and the fact that his dad, Steve Spethman is a man with big shoulders had a lot to do with it too, I’m sure. It could be Xander’s size that makes his a great protector of those who are being bullied, but I don’t really think it is. I think that being a protector is just part of Xander’s nature. He is kind and compassionate, and he doesn’t like to see anyone getting their feelings hurt, or being hurt physically…other than maybe the payers on the opposing team in football, and even then, he would not really want to hurt them…just take them down.

Xander is a great marksman in his own right, having been trained by his dad and mom to shoot guns at a young age. He has a good respect for human life, and gun safety. He knows what can happen if a person gets careless, and is determined not to be a person who is careless. He is very proud this year, in that he earned the money for and bought his own hunting rifle. Not bad for a 13 year old kid. He likes the feeling of accomplishment her gets from doing things on his own, but that doesn’t mean that his parents don’t mean the world to him…rather, just that they have trained him well to be independent…an part of good parenting. nevertheless, his mom, Jenny Spethman will always consider him her baby boy…as any mother would do.

As with many teenagers, Xander is spending this year wearing braces. I’m not sure how he feels about that, but I don’t know many teenagers that like it much. Still, when the time for braces is over, most of them are very happy with their new smile. Xander is a pretty easy going guy, and doesn’t let too many things bother him very much, so I suspect that he is ok with it, and given his size, who would dare to pick on him about it anyway. Today is Xander’s 14th birthday. Xander, we are all very proud of the young man you have become. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my nephew, Rob Masterson was a boy growing up in a house full of girls, he took it upon himself to pick on his mom, Cheryl Masterson, and his sisters, Chantel Balcerzak, Toni Chase, Elisabeth Masterson, and Jenny Spethman. For Rob, this was his chosen career. In fact, I would have to say that he has a Masters Degree in the field of Sister Teasing Torture…and he keeps up on his practice to this day, whether it is sisters, mom, daughters, Christina, Raelynn, and Anna, his nieces, and yes even his son, Matthew and his nephews. Even his aunts are not exempt. It’s all in good fun, of course, and the girls have to admit that they would wonder if he was mad at them, if he didn’t tease them, so we all just know that it is a fact of life.

While teasing has been a life-long career tor Rob, there is something else that he does, that is probably more on the unusual side. Rob’s wife, Dustie tells me that Rob has the unusual habit of being a person who would rather give than receive. Now we have all heard the saying, “It’s better to give than receive,” but few people can be said to live by that motto. Rob really does. Dustie tells me of a situation that unfolded after she began running the Fresh Cut Department at Albertson’s on the west side of Casper. Most of us know that with use a knife gets dull, but Dustie was really unprepared for just how often her knife would become dull. Most of us don’t use our knives in quite the way Dustie does. Needless to say, her knife seemed to be forever dull. Rob had been given an old stone knife sharpener by his dad, and suddenly, there seemed to be a real need for it. For the first six months that Dustie ran the Fresh Cut Department, Rob would spend half an hour to and hour, every other day, painstakingly sharpening Dustie’s knife. Then around Christmas time he decided to take the Christmas money he had received from his mom, Cheryl Masterson, to buy a diamond sharpening stone…as Dustie said, “For me! It was his Christmas present and instead of picking a gift for himself he bought a nice stone to sharpen my knives with. He is just that way. One of the most selfless and giving people I know. He even sharpens the knives of my co-workers, because he knows they can help me more effectively if they have a good sharp knife. I have never met someone who truly enjoys giving more than receiving. If you ask him to do something, and it’s within his power, he will go out of his way to do it.” Now, I could have tried to re-phrase that tribute to Rob from his loving wife, but I could never have said it as sweetly as she did.

Rob may tease his mom and sisters, but I know and have witnessed the fact that he will also bend over backward to help them with whatever the need help with, and I’m sure any one of them will tell you that his selfless acts of kindness, far outweigh any sister teasing torture them might have to endure. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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