Kids

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Some holidays celebrate one thing and one thing only, but others, such as May Day, can have several meanings. When my sisters and I were children, May Day was a special day. Our mom, Collene Spencer would go to the story and buy candy. We made baskets out of construction paper and put candy in them. Then we would sneak around the neighborhood, hang the baskets on the front door of a neighbor and knock on the door. Then, we would run and hide. Sometimes they would catch us, and sometimes they would just yell out “thank you,” but they were always pleased that we though of them and did something nice for them.

Many people look at May Day as celebrating the beginning of the summer season, or at least the warmer part of Spring. It is a day when it seems like suddenly the flowers have all begun to bloom, the grass gets green, and the trees got their leaves. That is a great way to think about it, because for me Spring and Summer are the best times of the year. I love being able to get out and hike and just enjoy the warm weather. Some of the celebrations included a Maypole dance where ribbons were wrapped around a pole to create a work of art. The ribbons are multi-colored, so its like braiding them together. Its a great game for the kids…and a great welcome to Summer!!

In the United States, May first has another meaning…it is also Law Day. These days it is questionable as to how people feel about that, but to me it is an important day. Our nation needs law and order, and I believe that most people would agree. Law Day is a day meant to reflect on the role of law in the foundation of the country and to recognize its importance for society. These days there are people who are against the police, except when they need one, and then suddenly the police are very important. I have and have had law enforcement officers in my family, and I can say that they are some of the most caring people I know. So to them I say Happy Law Day!! To everyone else, Happy May Day!!

By guest writer: Susan Griffith

I thought it would be nice to write a blog post about my Aunt Caryn for her birthday. In case you’re new here, my Aunt Caryn writes a blog post every single day about someone in her family, or about something that sparks her interest. I wonder if she has ever missed a day since she started. If she has, I’m sure there was an extremely good reason why. There must be thousands and thousands of posts. It’s truly amazing and really shows her passion for writing, her passion for her faith, her family, and her interest in current events. The determination that she has when she sets her mind to something is obvious.

If you’re reading this, and interested in history at all and what Aunt Caryn is up to, I urge you to look on Ansestry.com at the amount of work she has put into her family trees. It’s unbelievable and amazing to me. I can’t even begin to imagine how big Aunt Caryn’s family must be on both sides of her family. Both her and my Uncle Bob come from a family with many siblings, so I can see how her family could be so big after everyone getting married and having families of their own. It’s so special to look on your Facebook page on your birthday and see that someone has taken the time to write a little story about you. Most of the time, it’s surprising to read what she comes up with and you sometimes wonder how she knows what she knows. I know she has her ways of finding things out. I’m so thankful to have someone in my family who cares so much about family that she will take the time to make someone feel good every day.

My Aunt Caryn is married to my Uncle Bob, who’s my mom, Debbie Cook’s brother. Every time I think back to the family gatherings with my mom’s side of the family Aunt Caryn has always been there. She shows up to every important event if she is able to. She was there for all the important milestones of my life…graduation, wedding, baby showers. It’s clear that she loves her family very much, and from what I’ve seen she will do whatever it takes to be involved with her family. If someone is in need and Aunt Caryn can see that she can help with the situation, I guarantee that she will show up and she will do whatever she can to help in the situation. At my wedding reception, I forgot to ask someone to serve cake. Aunt Caryn just stepped in and started doing it without even being asked. I still remember that even after almost 15 years of marriage. I was so thankful to have her that day. It seems like this day in age, people like that are harder and harder to come by. The kind of people who are willing to drop everything that’s going on in their life to help someone else out. You could say Aunt Caryn is altruistic in the best way. I feel truly fortunate to have Aunt Caryn in my life.
A perfect example of Aunt Caryn’s selflessness happened just earlier this year. In January when my Aunt Rachel passed away, Aunt Caryn’s sister-in-law, we really saw how Aunt Caryn could truly step up to the plate. She helped my Uncle Ron considerably to get through one of the hardest times in his life. All of us are so thankful for what she did to help during that time. We know it was hard for her because she was just as upset as everyone else. In our family it seems that if we lose someone, we really come together to comfort each other and help each other out. I am so thankful for that.

One of my earliest memories of my Aunt Caryn was when they lived in the country in a trailer house. It seems like it was just me and Aunt Caryn at the house, everyone else was gone. I had to have been around 4 or 5 years old. Aunt Caryn was doing something in the living room, or the kitchen and she said I could go to my Cousin Amy’s bedroom to play. Amy is a few years older than me, so she had things that big girls had, and stuff that I thought was really cool. It seems like there was a little desk in Amy’s bedroom, and on the desk was a little heart shaped container that may have had jewelry in it. Next to that was some fingernail polish. I can’t even imagine what the heck I was thinking, but I sat there and painted the top of the little heart shaped container with the nail polish. It seems like shortly after I started doing that, Aunt Caryn came in and saw what I was doing. Oh man, was I in trouble. I’m sure I started crying as soon as she saw me. I can remember turning and looking at her and the look on her face wasn’t good. It was a look of shock. I think she just told me to go sit in the living room, and maybe told me I couldn’t be in Amy’s room by myself anymore. I think she was pretty lenient on me. Hopefully, that’s all I did with that fingernail polish. Sorry Amy!

Today is Aunt Caryn’s 65th birthday, which to many of us is a special day because we get to have the chance to spoil her like she spoils everyone around her on their special day. Aunt Caryn, I hope you have a most beautiful birthday. I hope that you get spoiled by all your family and friends, and that you can feel the love by all of us who love you so much. I hope you are able to enjoy your day and do something that makes you feel good. On behalf of all of your family, friends, and followers…We love you Caryn Schulenberg! Happy Birthday!

My dad, Allen Spencer, always had a moustache, but never really cared for a beard. I suppose that in his like of work, as a welder, he might have considered the beard a fire hazard. I know that he always had a few burn marks from the sparks that fly during welding. I know a lot of welders, including my nephew, Garrett Stevens, who have a beard and don’t seem to have any problems, so maybe that isn’t it. I suppose it was just personal preference. Dad did look nice in a beard the two times he had one. It was a contest of sorts, so many men grew out their beard. Dad’s beard looked very nice, and well trimmed…not straggly at all. I think that goes back to Dad’s nature. It is funny that during one of those times Dad had a beard, my Uncle Bill Spencer, Dad’s brother happened to have a booth at a gun show in Rapid City, SD. He decided to take the family to Rapid City to see if we could fool Uncle Bill, who was not expecting us to be there. Dad pulled it off. Uncle Bill was totally fooled, and it was a great joke. It was also a great trip.

My dad was a very disciplined person. He had a specific idea about proper behavior, and he lived up to that expectation. He always dressed up for church, even if he wasn’t wearing a suit and tie, he would wear a nice Western shirt with one of his bolo ties. He always felt like church was a place where respect should be shown to God, and I must agree, although I don’t dress up in the same way my dad did. Nevertheless, respect must be shown in church. I think that is a common belief in church. No matter how people dress, church is a special place, where we can draw closer to God, and honor Him. I will always feel that way about church.

Dad lived in a house full of girls, and because of that, or maybe because it was just his way, my dad was always a man of good manners. I always thought of my dad as a man who could easily have come from an different era…maybe the Victorian era, or other era where the men were very gentlemanly. I suppose that meant that my sisters and I were rather sheltered from the rougher side of society. There was no cussing in our home, no crass behavior…and yet, there was always love. Mom (Collene Spencer) and Dad kissed in front of us, and Dad might lovingly swat Mom on the backside in what was probably the most risqué thing we saw. These were things we never saw as dirty, but rather we saw love. We even joked about them kissing…singing, “Mommy and Daddy are kissing!!” It was our own made-up song, and we loved it. Dad was always the leader of our house. The spiritual head of the house that love built. He showed us the way, and we have all benefitted from the love of our parents. Today would have been my dad’s 97th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. I know you and mom are celebrating with many other family members. We love and miss you very much.

My grand-nephew, Zack Spethman is the tallest person in his family. At 6’4″, he is four inches taller than his dad, Steve Spethman and 1’2″ taller than his mom, Jenny Spethman. While Zack may be tall and muscular, he is also a gentleman, kind, loving…a gentle giant. That’s what his mom calls him, and anyone who knows Zack, knows that it is very true of him. Zack is a hugger. He loves his family and he would give the shirt off his back for any of us. Zack is quick to help anyone who needs help, and he works hard when he is helping someone. Because he is a big, tall guy, he is very strong and can work very hard. It is a big blessing for anyone he is helping.

Zack, like most students, has been dealing with the Covid-19 shutdowns. Having 6 months off from in-school classes has not been easy. Zack is the kind of guy who needs to be around friends. He is quite social, and sitting in front of a computer has not been easy. To make matters worse, Zack likes sports, but with the Covid shutdowns, came a time of little, or no sports. The summer camps were cancelled, and and then when things finally started back up, many of the students, Zack included, were not in shape for play. I’m sure things will come back, but Zack has lost a year of sports as a consequence of the shutdowns. I’m sure you can tell that I, like many people was not a fan of the shutdowns, but that is a topic for another story. On a positive note, Zack loves to sing, and he has begun to fill his time with choir, which is an awesome move on his part.

There are other sports that Zack can and does enjoy, like hiking, swimming, and Zack’s favorite, shooting. Zack is an excellent marksman, and very much enjoys practicing his art. In fact, his whole family loves to go shooting, and his parents are the main reason Zack is such a great marksman. Zack has been shooting since he was a little boy. He knows the proper way to shoot, to clean his gun, and has the proper respect for the gun and for human life. Zack loves to hunt, and was abt to bring home his antelope this year. He and his brothers enjoy being able to help the family finances by bring home a great supply of meat. I think kids get a sense of accomplishment out of being able to do things to help the family finances, whether its buying some of their clothes or supplying some of the food.

Zack is so patient with the younger cousins and his siblings. He never turns down a chance to do something nice for them, like teaching cousin, Adelaide Sawdon how to shoot pool, or making great heart pictures with his sister Aleesia. He also loves the family pets, and all animals, really. He is just so sweet to all of God’s creatures, human or animal, and that makes us all love him very much. Today is Zack’s 16th birthday. Did I mention that he will be driving soon, at least as soon as he can go to the DMV…just a warning. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, Bowen Parmely loves tractors. That isn’t an unusual thing. Many little boys love toy farm equipment, cars, trains, and other forms of toy transportation items, but Bowen is different, because he loves real tractors. Bowen has lived on a farm all his life, and he loves every aspect of farm life, especially Gloria…his parents’ tractor. Bowen likes to ride in the tractor and help work on the tractor. As far as he is concerned, Gloria is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Of course, I’m sure that pat of the draw is doing mechanic work with his dad and grandpa, but also, tractors are cool in just what they can do. I’ve driven a tractor, so I can relate to it.

Bowen is such a sweet boy. I’m told that he is also very kind…and helpful. He likes to help cook, which isn’t always something little boys want to do. They are usually too busy playing to want to cook, but there are some that do and some that grow up to be amazing cooks. I guess for Bowen, time will tell. Whether he grows up to be a chef or not really makes no difference, everyone needs to know how to cook, because you just never know if you will someday live alone.

Bowen loves farm life. Riding horses, and playing with the farm animals, especially the babies is one of his greatest joys. These days, they have some goat kids, and some kittens, which are so cute. The kittens are just getting their eyes open, and they are so tine and cuddly. Bowen and his sisters, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve love to show the farm animals to everyone who comes to their house. Bowen’s parents, Ashley and Eric Parmely, have grown their farm from just a few animals when they started, to the need to find a bigger place, which is the reason they moved to their current location. Having a bigger place give all the animals, their babies, and the Parmely children lots of room to roam around. That suits the children just fine, because they really don’t like to be fenced in. Bowen and his sisters love being farm kids, and his mommy wanted me to make sure I mentioned that “Bowen loves tractors!! So, did I mention he loves tractors? Today is Bowen’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Brian Cratty is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner and soulmate. Their relationship has blossomed and grown over the years, and Brian has become an important part of our family. He is there in the good times and in the bad, always lending a helping hand, wherever it is needed. That really falls right in line with several aspects of Brian’s character. Brian is a nature lover and spends a lot of time at the cabin he and Jennifer purchased on Casper Mountain. He loves to mountain bike and cross country ski off trail. For this reason, the cabin is where Brian likes to spend much of his time…year round. He like to wander around on the mountain, and in the summer, Brian and Jennifer can often be found cleaning up the forest. When I first heard that, I was surprised, but when you think about it, the wind blows all kinds of trash around, and the forest doesn’t somehow miss out on all that junk. If you want to be able to enjoy nature in the future, you have to help keep the place clean…right?

Brian is also a very good cook. It is a pastime he very much enjoys, and Jennifer doesn’t mind that either. Brian is retired, and Jennifer isn’t yet, so it’s nice that he can cook meals to be ready when she gets home. Brian is also a big movie buff. I’m not sure what his favorite movies are, but for many people, a nice dinner and a movie night make up the perfect date night. And, after a busy day at work or taking care of other things at the house and cabin, you are ready to relax and enjoy a quiet evening. Brian also likes to puzzle in the winter and always has one going at their house. Puzzles are not my thing, but Brian finds puzzles to be very relaxing.

Brian not only loves nature and the outdoors, but he loves bringing nature indoors too. Brian has a room that has been dubbed the “Plant Room,” and it is literally full of Brian’s plants. He has a true green thumb, and maybe I should have him stop by an touch my plants for me. I think they might perk up with the help of someone with a green thumb. He is one with nature.

As our family has been embracing family time once a month, with a family dinner, I have had a chance to see another side of Brian. Brian is a strategist, and he enjoys playing games. He and their oldest grandchild, 8 year old Reagan Parmely, have been playing games after dinner. Some of these games, like chess, are quite complicated, and Brian (who reminds me of my Uncle Bill Spencer, when we played Cribbage) patiently teaches Reagan the game, but doesn’t give her the game. I don’t care what anyone says, when my Uncle Bill taught me to play Cribbage and didn’t give me the game, I was thankful, because when I did finally beat him…I did it honestly. The victory was real. There is just something to be said for teaching someone the game, versus giving them the game. I really respect that. Today is Brian’s birthday, Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely is a Labor and Delivery nurse, and has been for about 40 years. I have no idea how many babies she has assisted in delivering, nor how many she has delivered herself, but I can imagine. Taking a wild guess, I would say between 20,000 and 50,000. That’s about the population of a small city. Now I could be off, but I don’t think so. I can’t say how many she has actually delivered, because they came before the doctor could get there, but I imagine there were some of those too. Jennifer has never wanted to be anything but a Labor and Delivery nurse. I have never seen anyone so focused. She knew what she wanted to do in high school and she has never waivered.

Of course, Jennifer, like everyone else, is more than her career. She is mom and grandma, or in her case, Oma. Jennifer had three sons, Barry Schulenberg, JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely, and now, she has four grandchildren, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve Parmely. She cherishes her family, which includes, daughters-in-law, Kelli Schulenberg and Ashley Parmely. Jennifer love getting together with all of her family, but she also loves taking each of her grandchildren for a day that is all their own. They often go shopping, and of course, that includes a toy of their choosing. They love going with her, and it is a treasured special time for her too.

Another thing that Jennifer has never waivered in, is her health. Years ago, after having three children, Jennifer, like many mothers, had some extra weight to lose. She made the decision to get that weight off and get healthy, and she never waivered. Diet was a major part of her transformation, of course, but just as important was the strict exercise “routine” Jennifer had. I emphasize “routine” because, she never thought of it that way, exactly. Jennifer began to be an energetic, fast-paced, “everything” exercise enthusiast…she hiked, did yoga, skied, every exercise machine she could at the gum, you name it, Jennifer probably tried it. Like most of us, there were forms of exercise she likes better than others, but she has never gone back to a sedentary lifestyle, and she has never stopped eating healthy…that has kept her healthy for many years now. Today is Jennifer’s 60th birthday, and well…she certainly doesn’t look 60. Years of healthy living have certainly paid off. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I can’t think of anything that is harder for a mom than watching your child go through some of the worst events of their lives. Many people who go through that kind of thing, would sit down and stew in their depression, but not my niece, Chantel Balcerzak. The past year has been harder on her and her daughter, Siara Olsen than it was for a lot of us. On January 25, 2020, Siara’s three month old son, Alec passed away after a short illness. On top of that her marriage fell apart, and she got divorced. It was the worst time of her life, and she needed the love and support of her family. Chantel stepped in and Siara moved home for a time of comforting and support from her parents. Both of these girls are strong women, and they were not going to sink further into depression. Instead, they supported each other, encouraged each other, and made a plan to have a year of self improvement. Chantel’s husband and Siara’s dad, Dave Balcerzak was right there too. Giving the girls the extra support they all needed. They were all hurting, but they had to move forward.

The girls took a look at themselves, and saw that as many people had done, during the Covid-19 shutdown, they and added a few pounds and lost some muscle, and they decided it was time to get back on the right track. So they began working out over Siara’s lunches, and even set a goal for them selves. They had seen a commercial in which some chipmunks who were out of shape decided to go for “All Buff ~ No Fluff” and they made that their goal. Siara has spent a number of years in high school and college as a cheerleader, and of course, she is 23 years younger than her mom, but she tells me that sometimes Chantel beats her when they are doing pushups, so that is really cool too. Chantel doesn’t do girly pushups anymore either. They do the hard kind where you are on your hands and toes. I believe the girls will reach their final goal of looking amazing. They have already come a long way.

Siara tells me that her mom was always there for here throughout this hard, hard year. She was there to comfort her and take her mind off of her troubles, and give her advise when she needed it. When Siara moved out again and got a place of her own, Chantel was there to help her decorate it and make it her own. Chantel is an artist, so of course, Siara’s place is incredibly beautiful, and that is a gift in itself. When the chips are down, Chantel is really the person you want to have in your corner. I’m very proud of her and Siara too. Today is Chantel’s 50th birthday. It’s a milestone, and she looks incredible for it. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Liz Masterson is a Journalism teacher at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyoming, and she is loved by all of her students. Being a teacher is a big responsibility. There is no such thing as a 9 to 5 teaching job. At night, there are papers to grade, lesson plans to prepare, and if you are Liz, there is also photographing every event that takes place at the school. There are times that she misses out on family events because of the workload she carries. Of course, like all teachers, Liz went through the Covid Online School Year, and like most teachers, felt like the students learned almost nothing during the online experience. Liz has been and strives to be an excellent teacher, and anyone who knows her, knows she is a great success. Liz may have faced some unusual methods of doing her job this past year, but she is still a devoted teacher. Her students become her friends for life, and continue to share the events of their lives with her. It’s because they know a teacher who cares when they see one. There is nothing fake about Liz. She genuinely cares about her students, past, present, and yes, even future.

While teaching is her passion, as well as her career, Liz is also an excellent daughter. Her mom, my sister Cheryl Masterson, raised Liz and her four siblings alone, and they are very loyal to her. Liz often does little things to make her mom’s life easier. After the recent two feet of snow we received, bringing to a standstill, much of Casper, Liz went over to her mom’s house, and dug her out of the snowdrift her house and yard were buried in. It was a massive undertaking, but Liz persevered and got the job done. Her mom still couldn’t get out, until the streets were cleared, and thankfully was able to work from home for a few days. Then, when the roads were open again Cheryl, like everyone else in town was able to get back to normal life again. Of course, Liz had to dig her own house out before she could come and dig her mom out, so she got a double dose of show removal.

Liz is the mother to five fur babies, three dogs, named Buffy, Luka, and Scout, and two cats, named Kitty and Izzy. They Love her to pieces…and the feeling is mutual. I often see Liz out walking her dogs…often in a stroller-cart because they get too tired or rowdy when she walks them. They just get excited and want to run in circles around her. To the casual witness, it’s quite comical, but to Liz, it’s pretty frustrating. Sometimes she just walks them one at a time…just for the sanity. She loves her babies, but it does make for a crazy live. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! we love you!!

My niece, Amanda Reed is a non-stop girl. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, she and her family go, go, go!! Of course, they work and do all the other normal things, but on the weekends, they are so active that it would make most people exhausted, and I am a really active person, so for me to say that, is really saying something. I don’t like Winter, however, so most of my Winter activity is indoors. Amanda…well, she doesn’t mind the snow. She is out there hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, four-wheeling…you name it. Nothing slows this family down. The like to live life to the fullest. Its a great way to be.

Amanda works at a bank in Rawlins, Wyoming, as a BSA Agent. For any who don’t know, that is an agent who keeps records and files reports that are highly useful in criminal, tax, and regulatory matters. The documents she files under the BSA requirements are heavily used by law enforcement agencies, both domestic and international to identify, detect, and deter money laundering, whether it is in furtherance of a criminal enterprise, terrorism, tax evasion, or other unlawful activity. That is to say that she protects the bank, and the rest of us from thieves who would destroy our economy by the introduction of fake money with no value.

The two most important people in Amanda’s life, are her partner, Sean Mortenson and her daughter Jadyn Mortensen. Amanda is a horse girl’s mom, and is there to encourage Jadyn every step of the way. f course, it doesn’t take much encouragement, because Jadyn loves her horse, and riding is something she would rather do over just about anything in the world. Still, there are good days and bad days in any sport, and Amanda is one of Jadyn’s biggest cheerleaders. She also is a sports daughter, encouraging her mom, Deb Lucero in her hiking. They recently went on a winter snowshoe hike in the mountains, and had a great time. They have a lot more gumption than I do. The cold/snow part of that would be a big problem to me, but not for these girls or for Debbie Morgan-Fall, who went along.

When she is not working at her very serious job, Amanda, her family, and friends like to kick back, and be hilariously funny. In fact, they are among the funniest people I know of. These people have no problem with acting goofy, dressing funny, or funny comments. They love to laugh and make each other laugh, and that’s what it’s all about. This group of friends love to get together and have a great time. They go to the lake, the mountain, or just hang out at someone’s house. They love time together, and refuse social distancing…like most of us. Togetherness, yep that’s it. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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