Kids

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My grand-niece, Aleesia Spethman is a bubbly little girl, who loves life. She is going to be in 2nd grade this coming school year. She is the youngest child of her parents, Jenny and Steve Spethman, and the youngest grandchild of her grandma, Cheryl Masterson. She is a girl who is full of personality and energy. She is always on the move, doing something…from playing with her big brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, to showing them who the boss is in this family. The boys humor her for the most part, but she gets a lot less “princess treatment” from the youngest of the boys, Isaac, who thinks maybe he is the boss. Aleesia would disagree.

Aleesia and her mom love to do girly things together. Shopping is a big favorite, because they are both fashionistas. Jenny has great fashion sense, and she has passed that to Aleesia, along with how to be in style, and still be yourself. Being the youngest does afford Aleesia some special treatment. She was the last one home all day with her mom, and being the only girl, eliminates the whole “hand-me-down” thing too.

Last week, Aleesia, Jenny, and Aleesia’s Aunt Liz took girl trip to Denver for Aleesia’s birthday. They got to go to the Denver Zoo and Aquarium. They had a great time watching all the animals. Aleesia loves to go to the Science Zone in Casper. The zoo and aquarium are along the same lines too, so it’s right up her alley. She really isn’t afraid of any animals…even bugs, which make me cringe, so she had a great time checking it all out. She takes after her mom in that respect. Jenny has had just about every kind of animal, including an Iguana…which really creeped me out, because it would appear next to you, when you least expected it…usually scaring the daylights out of you.

Most evenings find Aleesia visiting her grandma, and Cheryl is quite happy about that, because this is her last granddaughter, so she wants to make the most of the time she had left before Aleesia decides that she has other things to do. It is inevitable with all kids. Grandparents have them for a time, and then they are pushed out of the way for friends, sports, and after school activities. Aleesia does enjoy her girl nights, and I have had the opportunity to be a part of her girl gang, which has been great. On Thursday nights, Cheryl, Liz, Aleesia, and I go out to dinner, and then to Cheryl’s for a movie. Aleesia and Liz don’t always go for the movie. Liz has papers to grade, or photos to edit, and Aleesia either has homework, or she just missed her family, and wants to go home. She is a bit of a homebody too. Today is Aleesia’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Until recently, it had never occurred to me just how much my grand-niece, Jala Satterwhite is like her great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg. She doesn’t really resemble her, since Jala takes more after her mother, Susan Griffith, but there is a notable similarity nevertheless. Jala loves horses, and in many ways, would live on a horse if she could. That thought brought me back to a time when my mother-in-law’s own mother, Nettie Knox made that very statement about her own daughter, Joann. Whether we realize it or not, our parents really do know us well.

Jala didn’t have much opportunity to ride horses until her mom married her step-dad, Josh Griffith, whose family had horses. Jala was introduced to the horses, and her love of horses was sealed. Later, her parents moved out into the country, and got horses of their own, giving Jala the ability to ride much more. Because her mom had never really been around horses, and only learned to ride with a great degree of apprehension, this natural riding ability that her daughter had, left Susan somewhat in awe, but also very proud. Of course, Susan’s own abilities have greatly improved, but that does not change how she feels about her older daughter’s riding prowess. Still, I don’t think Susan realized just how much Jala was like her great grandmother. I don’t think any of us did, really. I just looked at a picture of Jala on a horse yesterday, and it was like looking at my mother-in-law on her own horse. It was crystal clear to me then.

I think that for young horse-lovers, the horse provides them with an ability to go and do things without asking a parent to take them…at least within certain limits. When my mother-in-law was a kid, they could ride to school, as well as to other towns and ranches of friends nearby, those aren’t really options for Jala, except for nearby ranches. Still, there are lots of trails available these day, and Jala loves riding on them. I’m sure her great grandmother would love them too, and maybe she is there, watching proudly as her great granddaughter, Jala continues the great tradition of horseback riding just for the love of horses. Today is Jala’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, Matt Masterson has grown from being a multi-faceted little boy, who loved to pick on his sisters, Raelynn and Anna, but would also fiercely defend them, if anyone else picked on them. He loves his family and is very loyal to them. When his parents are working and the children are home alone, he is their protector, whether protection is needed or not. It just a part of the man in him. Raelynn is the older child, still at home. She is 16, while their half-sister, Christina is 23, and living on her own in Colorado, and younger sister, Anna is 12. In reality, they probably don’t need his protection, but they are grateful for Matt’s protective ways. He is also very protective of his mom, and takes on the “man of the house” role whenever his dad has to be out of town, or at work.

Matt is going into 8th grade this year, meaning he is in the last year of middle school. High school awaits him in just one year, but already I can see the high school student coming out in him already. It always seems to me that the last year of school levels, like elementary, middle, and high school, have the student oddly out of place among the younger students, but they would be out of place in the upper level too, I suppose. It’s all just a part of the transition from child to young adult, but I think Matt will make the transition with his usual ease.

Matt is an easy going sort of a guy, and there isn’t too much that bothers him. He like online gaming, like most kids his age. He likes hanging out with his cousins, and is good friends with his cousin Zack Spethman. Matt and Zack have been friends for their entire lives. The only thing that has changed is their size. Like most kids, they are not looking forward to summer’s end, even if school isn’t a bad thing. The boys like walking places like Cold Stone for get an ice cream treat. I can’t say as I blame them. That’s what summer’s all about, hot days and cold treats. Nevertheless, all too soon, summer will give way to Matt’s last year of middle school. I know it’s going to be a great year. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My great grand-niece, Alice Green is the bonus baby of my grand-nephew, Jake Harman. She is her mother, Melanie Harman’s daughter from a prior relationship, but for Jake, Alice completes his family. She was his first child, coming into his life before the younger two kids, Izabella and Jaxx. They became best friends right away. Alice was never one to be angry about Jake’s entrance into her family. I think she viewed him as the best bonus dad she could have ever asked for. I love to see their smiling faces as the play together, and with the other kids. They seem to have a similar sense of humor.

Alice is an amazing big sister, and her little sister and brother really look up to her. When she was in school, I think the house felt a little bit lonely, especially for Izabella, who thinks her sister is awesome. Jaxx wasn’t really as aware, but he will be this year, because both Alice and Izabella will be in school this year. Alice is going into 2nd grade, and Izabella will be in pre-school. Jaxx is an easy going guy, especially with two older sisters, but I know he will really miss them this year. It’s hard for me to believe that Alice is going into 2nd grade this year. Though I have not know her all her life, she was a shy little girl when I first met her, so seeing the confident 2nd grader she has become is amazing to me. She has really become friends with the whole family now.

Alice has a great smile, and uses it often. She has a great sense of humor, and loves to entertain her siblings, which is a huge help to her parents. She loves school, and is a good student. It seems like it was just yesterday that she was graduating from Kindergarten, but in reality, that has been over a year ago already. How can that possibly be? Our Alice is growing up so very fast, and I can’t imagine our family without her in it. She is a sweet little girl, who has brightened out lives at every turn. Today is Alice’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Alice!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Dave Balcerzak is a gifted computer programmer, and has helped many people with their computer issues, including me. I think the most awesome thing he has done is to rebuild old computers so that he can give them people who have a need for a computer, but cannot afford one. It is a noble thing to do, and very typical of Dave. He is a kind-hearted man, who wants to be able to help people in anyway that he can, and thankfully he has talents that allow him to be able to help a lot of people.

My niece, Chantel Balcerzak first met her now husband, Dave when they were kids in elementary school. She liked him immediately, and really never forgot him completely. Nevertheless, they both went their separate ways, and each married other people. After a number of years, families for both, and failed marriages, they met again, and it was like they were never apart. They were both free to marry now, so they did, and they created a blended family. Dave brought his two children, Keifer and Katy to the marriage, and Chantel brought her two living children, Jake and Siara to the marriage. Chantel also brought the memory of her angel baby, Alyssa, who Dave had never met, but because she belonged to Chantel, he loved her as much as any of the children…because that is the kind of man Dave is. Dave and Chantel have been blessed with three grandchildren, Izabella and Jaxx Harman, and Reece Balcerzak. They also have a bonus granddaughter, Alice Green, with whom Dave shares a birthday. And they have a grandson on the way. When I say that Dave has been blessed, I say that because I believe that Dave’s kindness and loving ways, have given him the reward of so many blessings.

Dave has been given one more blessing, and it is one that is of the type that is near to my heart…his heart. Dave developed so heart issues, that at one point caused him to have a stroke, which was caught by a CNA, while he was in the hospital. Her quick action left Dave with no lasting damage from the stroke. His heart, however, still needed some work. As the wedding of their daughter, Siara was coming and Dave was to walk her down the aisle, he worried that he would not be able to do so, but God had another plan. An interesting procedure fixed his heart, and the man who had been only able to take a few steps without being out of breath, was able to walk Siara down the aisle. He is still healthy and very blessed indeed. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, JD Parmely is a hard working man, who lives a quiet life in the house he purchased from his grandmother, Joann Schulenberg after his grandfather, Walt Schulenberg passed away. She was living in a nursing home by then, and the purchase allowed her to life out her days in peaceful happiness. I can’t imagine a better person to live in the house where we had all spent so many happy times. I think it felt like coming home for JD, because he had never known a time when his grandparents didn’t live there.

Those were happy days for little JD…for the most part. JD really didn’t life food when he was little. I remember that he made a face at almost everything. A pickier eater, there never was. I remember times when his mother, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely resorted to M and Ms to get some calories into him. Thankfully, those days faded into the days when JD had a hollow leg, and needed a heavy duty platter of food to fill him up…after having seconds, of course.

I remember JD playing “horsey” on his grandpa leg, and loving every minute of it. He also loved being with his grandma, and being rocked to sleep on her lap. The good times JD had at the house that is now his home will always live in his memory. He helped his grandpa with his projects, and his uncles and his grandpa with work they were doing on cars. It was in this garage that JD learned the ropes on mechanics, as well as from his own dad, Keith Parmely in their garage at home. With all these mechanics in his background, I think it was pretty much a given that JD would grow up to become a mechanic, even going to college for mechanics in Arizona, before coming back home, where it wasn’t for “blazing hot.” JD loves his cars, and has about twelve of them at any given time, so having a double garage on his house makes it even more perfect for him. A double garage and the memories from his childhood…it doesn’t get better than that. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! have a great day!! We love you!!

Katie Balcerzak became my grand-niece, when she married my grand-nephew, Keifer Balcerzak. Katie might say of herself that she is a tom-boy type, but I think there is a girlie side to her too…especially since she and Keifer added little Reece, affectionally known as Reece’s Pieces, to their family, on December 14, 2017. Katie loves to dress their daughter in frilly little outfits, which compliment her bubbly personality and delightful smile just perfectly. Katie and Reece have so much fun hanging out together. Katie is always teaching Reece new skills, and loves sharing the great laughs that come with baby antics and learning stumbles.

While Katie might not be a total girlie girl type, there are things whereby she definitely is. Things like having her nails done is a cool way to show off her feminine side, is one that I can relate to, since I love nail polish and nail art very much myself. I’m sure that eventually Reece will want her nails done too, because, well…like mother, like daughter, right!! I think that Reece and her mom are a lot alike. That’s why they have so much fun together. Of course, it would be hard not to smile when Reece smiles, because she is a happy baby who smiled with her whole face.

Katie loves being a mom, and has dreamed of nothing else for years. She is a good mom, who takes good care of her daughter and she’s a good wife to Keifer. They are very happy together, and they work very well together to reach their common goals. For Katie and Keifer, their family is everything. They work hard to give their family a strong bond with each other. Katie love being a mom more that any other job she has ever had, and definitely the most fulfilling career she could ever have. Raising a little life, molding it into a wonderful little person, and watching the smiles and the look of love their daughter wears on her face. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

To hear my grand-nephew, Jake Harman talk, his wife Melanie has become “meaner” since their marriage, but of course, I know what a jokester my nephew is, so I know he’s kidding. Melanie is a very sweet girl, who is very loving and kind to Jake and everyone else around her. In fact, I think it is probably Melanie’s kind and patient ways that have made Jake into the man he is today. You see, if either of them has changed, it is Jake…and it is pretty much all because of Melanie. Jake is so happy these days. He feels so blessed with the life he now has. These days Jake has a daughter, Izabella and a son Jaxx, plus a bonus baby Alice, all of whom he loves very much. And it’s all because of Melanie, and the great love she has for Jake and their three children.

Melanie is all about her family. She is a great mom, who is feeling just a little bit sad, as school approaches. It’s not that she hasn’t been through the child in school stage, but now she will have two in school. Alice is going into 2nd grade, and Izabella is going into pre-school. While she will still have Jaxx at home, it just feels like so much is changing…so very fast. It is somewhere around this point that a mother starts getting a little bit sentimental. She’s missing her babies before they are even grown. In her heart, she knows it’s coming…and coming fast.

Melanie’s heart is with her family, but it is also with the Lord. She sings with the worship team at their church, and also helps with the youth ministry, which Jake heads up. Melanie is in charge of the games for the youth. Much is changing at home, but that isn’t the only pace. While Melanie will be missing her girls during the day, she is going to be busy, because she is also going to school…for worship study. She’s already a part of the worship team, and directs the youth singing, and helps Jake with the youth, but her dream is to be the worship leader for the whole church. It’s a lofty goal, but one I think Melanie can accomplish. The biggest part of reaching that goal is having a love for the Lord and for the work He has for you. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

A little over eight years ago, I wrote a story about my sister, Caryl Reed and how my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I used to attack her and give her the “tickle torture” on a fairly regular basis. Little did I know then, the impact that story would have on my readers. In the eight years the story has been up, it has received 1016 comments, which is far more than any other story I have written. I have had countless numbers of people tell me their own stories about being tortured or being the torturer. Several have suggested that I need to write another story on tickle torturing tales, and with that, Tickle Tales was conceived in my head. I thought I might highlight some of the funniness that has been born of the Tickle Torture craze.

One friend, Suzy approached me with some ideas to get her siblings, and after enlisting the help of her particularly devious brother-in-law, the tickle “chair” was born. The tickle chair really isn’t a chair at all, but is a portable set of “stocks” to lock the victim’s feet in place while the torturers tickle away. Now I’ve never had this done to me, but I can tell you that anytime you can’t kick or get away from your tickle attacker…the situation becomes a true form of “friendly” torture. While some people might think this harsh, their family loved it, and even made bets on things, like football games to decide who the next victim was. As far as I know this is now a new tradition in their family.

A couple I’m friends with, Mike and Ashley asked me for some ideas to get started on their own betting scheme. After a number of times at being Mike’s victim, Ashley and her girlfriends finally exacted her revenge. Mike had made a habit of taking a nap on the couch…an “unfortunate” mistake for him, and so the girls managed to place ropes under the couch and tied his hands and feet to the legs of the couch. Helpless to fight them off, the girls gave him the tickle torture of a lifetime. Mike is a good sport, and even being given a pedicure by his captors didn’t upset him. It did, however, make him decide that revenge was the only logical response to this. He got his revenge using feathers on Ashley’s feet, while her toes were tied together. Their current bet involves the loser on this years’ football games, and a Super Bowl Revenge that will be carried out over the course of the Super Bowl game…the whole game…when they score, or commercial breaks, half time show, and of course, the game ending finale!! Yikes!! I pity the loser in this competition!!

Tickle Torture is a great way to keep life interesting, and as long as everybody is a good sport about it, can bring a lot of laughs. The thing I find funny is that even while being tickled, very few people get upset, because tickling isn’t, after all, painful. And it does make you laugh!! I don’t think that Tickle Torture will ever be a thing of the past. It’s just too much fun!! Have you tickled someone today?

After spending most of his life driving trucks of some kind, and being out of town a lot, my brother-in-law, Lynn Cook, who goes by LJ, got a job in on of the mines in the Powell area. He didn’t want to be so far away from his family anymore. I think a lot of people realize that as our kids grow up, we start to realize just how quickly time passes. Before we know it our kids are adults and they are married with kids of their own. I think it is often at this point that we wish we could go back in time. It’s not that we would trade the grandchildren, for anything, but it seems to be at that point that it occurs you that you really feel the loss of the childhood years of your babies.

LJ has taken a hands on approach with his kids and grandchildren now, more than he could in the past. We all do it. Then we realize that if our kids hadn’t grown up, we wouldn’t have these precious grandchildren either…or our children’s spouses either. So, we accept that the kids are grown, and rejoice in the gift of grandchildren. That time happened for LJ a number of years ago, and now, the oldest of his four grandchildren has graduated for high school, with more to follow very soon.

Suddenly, just like it was with his kids, LJ realizes that soon the grandkids will be married and having children…his great grandchildren. Suddenly it seems, time is slipping away again. There will be times when the grandkids are away at college, and then you never really know if they will move back to your town, or relocate somewhere else, making it harder to see them as often, and suddenly you realize that you may never get to be as close to your great grandkids as you were with your kids. Still, you will always love those precious little ones, because they are a part of you…and they always will be. Today is LJ’s birthday. Happy birthday LJ!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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