Kids

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My nephew, Joel (JD) Parmely, is a college educated mechanic, who really knows his stuff. He comes from a long line of mechanics, of which my husband, Bob Schulenberg is one, both of JD’s brothers, Barry Schulenberg and Eric Parmely are two more, and Bob’s brother, Ron Schulenberg rounds out the group. These guys have a family network of consultants who can help with any project they are working on and believe me they are all always working on something. It’s nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and maybe get a little help for a tough job. JD has become a go-to consultant for Bob, and also an extra set of hands when a job demands that, and of course, if JD needs a hand, Bob is always willing to return the favor.

JD loves kids, especially his nieces, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve Parmely and his nephew, Bowen Parmely. He may not get to see them all the time, but when he does, the kids know that it’s fun time. In reality, JD is as much a kid as his nieces and nephews. He loves to play and tease them, and they love it too. Whatever they are into at the moment, JD is up for. He always has enough energy to roughhouse with them and he will, of course, help with any mechanical things that Bowen might be wanting to try. He will swing the kids around, or push them in the swings, or just go for a walk with them. JD loved being an uncle, and the kids love that he does.

JD is a car fanatic. He has around twelve or more, all licensed, insured, and driven often. He has a beautiful blue classic pickup, lots of cars and trucks, and even a flatbed trailer that has come in handy for Bob and me on occasion…like the other day, when our car broke down two hours away from home, and JD willingly took a road-trip to pick up our car and bring it to town. JD has a truck with a wench attached to it, so he can tow and lift things onto his trailer. That’s just another way that the family network has come in handy. JD is such a helpful person, and he has come to our rescue several times, and to Bob’s rescue on a job more times than I can possibly count. He even helped Bob when he was just a little guy of just two years. Now that one was just cute. JD always did love to be a helper. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Katie Balcerzak has been a part of our family, since she married my grandnephew, Keifer Balcerzak in 2015. Together they have two beautiful children, Reece and Aysa Balcerzak. They have been so blessed with two happy, smiling children, who bring more joy to their lives than they could ever have imagined. Reece was born in 2017 and Asa was born in 2021. Now their family is complete. They love doing all the fun activities, like sports and such. Reece is trying different things like t-ball, and while that may not be the sort for her, Katie and Keifer encourage her to give it a shot. They are good parents…always encouraging their kids and each other.

I liked Katie from the first time I met her. We have a few things in common, mostly that we both have sisters, and no brothers. It can make us feel unsure about having boys. While I didn’t have boys, I had three grandsons and only one granddaughter. Katie had a daughter first, and then her son. Either way, for a girl with all sisters, even if she had nephews, having those boys is a bit of a culture shock. Nevertheless, you adapt, and Katie has adapted beautifully. In fact, the love she has for both of her children shows all over her face. It’s just beautiful.

Katie has always been very close to her sisters. The bond they have reminds me of my bond with my sisters. There is something about a family of sisters. Girls think alike. They like the same things, and they like to share their hopes and dreams. The bond between sisters is like a best friend, but much closer. That is the bond Katie has with her sisters, Kellee Schuerman, Martha Simkin, and Bernnie Steadham, have had since they were little girls. Whenever they are together, you can see their love for each other by the smiles on their faces. There is a closeness, comradery, and sisterhood, that is forever. Katie has had the privilege of being a part of a wonderful family, and parents, Vicki Jammerman and Thad Davidson, who taught her and her sisters to be loving, nurturing, and kind people. Their parents taught them good values and it shows in their lives.

When Katie met Keifer, it was love almost immediately. They were young, but they knew that they would become a couple, and grow a family…and that is exactly what they did. They two sweet people were meant to be together. Theirs is a match made in Heaven, and it grows more and more beautiful with each passing day. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Melanie Harman is a sweet girl, who has been so good for my grandnephew, Jake Harman. I would be very hard-pressed to come up with the wonderful things that Jake has to say about his wife. Kake says, “Mel is the most beautiful woman alive, and I mean that physically, mentally, and spiritually. She loves God and whenever anything is wrong her first reaction is pray about it. She wants to give it to God, knowing He is the only one who can fix it.”

Melanie is a hard worker. Currently, she is working for Door Dash, and she has become one of the best loved dashers. When she walks into a place to pick up an order, she will sometimes be on the phone with Jake, and he hears the conversation. He says that everyone yells, “Hi Mel!!” Then, Jake can hear them fighting over who’s best friend she is!! That’s definitely Melanie, and it makes Jake so proud that his wife is so loved. She is always so happy and kind, that people can’t help but love her and want to be her friend. When Melanie isn’t door dashing, she works with her mom to clean their church Mondays and Thursdays. After cleaning, she will go door dash. It makes for a long day, but even after that long day she comes home to her 4 babies…counting Jake, that is, who are all demanding her time. Still, she keeps that beautiful smile on her face and gives each of them the time they need to feel loved.

Jake tells me that he just has no clue how she does it, but she somehow seems to give all of them all of her time. He said that he goes to sleep every night, thanking God for such a beautiful woman and sometimes, he wakes up in a bit of a panic, thinking Melanie was just a dream. Then, Jake says, “I roll over to see her peacefully sleeping and the beauty of my life starts all over because her smile lights up a room and her voice is the closest to what I picture an angel would sound like. She always knows how to handle us whether it is tough mom, fun mom, rude mom, or whatever we need, that’s what she is. She is the best part of each of our lives and definitely proof that God is real. I know He is because without Him she would not be possible.” How can I possibly say it better? Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My little grandniece, Elliott Stevens has been very busy lately. On June 24, 2022, Elliott had a life-changing event occur in her life, when she became big sister to Maya Stevens. Elliott was always a happy girl, and really, very comfortable in her life. I don’t think she even minded being an only child, but then she really didn’t know anything else, so I suppose it doesn’t really count. Now, however, Elliott has a little sister, and that have made her life even better than before. Elliott loves helping her parents, Kayla and Garrett Stevens with Maya, and she and Maya are fast becoming best friends, as well as sisters. You can see the love that shows on their faces every time they are together. Elliott has other activities too, so holding her baby sister isn’t something she can do all the time, although she would if she could. Elliott is getting to be very capable at holding her sister, and loves to make her smile, and help with her care in any way she can. Maya, looking lovingly at
her big sister and knows that before long she will get to play with her too. It’s baby sister love for big sister.

Elliott can’t take care of her sister all the time, because she has a number of fun activities, she is involved in. She takes swimming lessons, as well as, gymnastics, and she goes to daycare, where she has lots of friends that she enjoys spending time with. Elliott is also her daddy’s best little helper. Maya will become a good helper too, but she too little right now. Elliott and her daddy build things together and paint things too, like the playhouse her and her daddy built for her. Elliott works very hard, and I know her daddy appreciates all her help. She also loves going to the park with her parents, and now her baby sister too. She loves the swings and slides the best, I think. Now that her grandpa, Mike Stevens is retired, he and Elliott’s grandma, Alena Stevens can go to Sheridan for visits more often. Elliott’s other grandparents, Lynette and Wes Smiley live in Sheridan, so she gets to see them lots too.

Elliott is a girly girl. She loves makeup, princess clothes, and of course…heels. She even has her own play makeup, and she loves putting it on, even if she isn’t perfect at it just yet…but then what girl starts out putting on her makeup perfectly. We all have to experiment until we find our perfect look. Elliot also loves to spend time with her cousins, Brooklyn and Jaxxon Killinger. They like to go swimming, to the park…or just hang out. It’s a good life, and Elliott is enjoying every minute of it. Today is Eliott’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For the first ten years of her life, my Aunt Laura Fredrick, was an only child. I have never been able to find out why that was exactly. There is no indication of a miscarriage or anything, but when she was ten years old, she received a brother…my Uncle Bill Spencer. Then, two years later, she received another brother…my dad, Allen Spencer. Then, a year and a half later, she received a sister…my Aunt Ruth Wolfe. All the siblings have the same parents. Things happen that way sometimes, I guess. Aunt Laura had the distinct honor of sharing her birthday with her mother, Anna Schumacher Spencer, and they were very close companions. They did everything together.

When Aunt Laura was born in International Falls, Minnesota in 1912, her parents Allen and Anna Spencer, were living in a lumber camp, way back in the woods. During the day, it was Grandma and Aunt Laura. They were all the company they had. There might have been some other wives and families, but from what I’ve seen in pictures, they weren’t very close by. So, Aunt Laura spent most of her time with her parents. Her dad played the violin, and he wanted her to learn to play too. She did, of course, but she never really shared his love for the instrument. Her younger siblings would later be the ones to love playing an instrument, including the guitar and the violin.

Aunt Laura loved pretty things. Her home was absolutely beautiful. I remember going over there as a child and thinking that she must be the richest woman ever. Her house was filled with pretty and shiny things. I don’t recall, how big her house was, but it felt like a mansion to me…or maybe it was just because it seemed so elegant to me. My sisters and I didn’t really know Ant Laura all that well when we were children, but I got to know her a little better when my girls were just little. By then, Aunt Laura had moved away and was moving back to Casper. Her heat was not going to be turned on for two days, and it was bitterly cold outside. I don’t recall the reason we were all at some kind of dinner together, but Aunt Laura was planning to stay in her house all weekend in the cold. I told her that she certainly was not. I had a hide-a-bed, and my husband was working nights, so she stayed with the girls and me. Truly, we had a wonderful two days, and my girls had a blast. They loved company, and Aunt Laura, who had only boys in her family, seemed to really enjoy the antics of girls. Today is the 110th anniversary of my Aunt Laura’s birth. She lived to be 90 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Laura. We love and miss you very much.

My dad’s mom, Anna Spencer was such a strong woman. My grandfather, Allen Spencer worked on the Great Northern Railway, and so Grandma was in charge of the kids, including her two rambunctious boys, my Uncle Bill and my dad, Allen. Now that doesn’t say that her two girls weren’t a handful too, but my Aunt Laura and my Aunt Ruth, likely caused her a little bit less trouble than her mischievous boys…especially when it came to their use of dynamite. Being farm boys, they used dynamite to remove tree stumps, for their wake-up call on Independence Day, as well as the occasional gatepost (which then had to be raised two inches before their mom came home from town). Nevertheless, Grandma was loved and respected by her children.

Grandma and the kids ran the farm, and that meant putting the hay up into stacks by hand, taking care of the animals and the garden. When they were working, Grandma was all business, but that didn’t mean the kids followed suit. My Aunt Ruth loved horses and dogs too, and goofing off for my Uncle Bill, so he could take a picture of her. Somehow, it once caught my grandma in the picture looking at her mischievous children, goofing off instead of working. Somehow, she was not very amused, but while Grandma didn’t think it was funny, the picture is one that always makes me laugh. I don’t know if my Aunt Ruth got in trouble for “shirking” her responsibilities or not, but I’ll bet she at least heard about it. Grandma was not really a pushover, after all. In those days, when it was time to work, the kids had better toe the line.

During the time when my grandma was raising kids, the country was going through the Great Depression years, and time were tough anyway, so the people also had to be tough. The men were often working somewhere also, and the women had to take on the role of both parents, and even businesswomen. My grandmother ran a hotel for a time, and my Aunt Laura, who was just ten years old when my Uncle Bill was born, was responsible for his day-to-day care. My Uncle Bill actually remembered that time fondly. He and his big sister were very close at that time. I’m sure it was not the ideal situation for my grandmother, who must have felt like she was missing out on the baby years, but she persevered, and the family did well. Grandma was a tough lady, because she had to be, and the family needed her to be. I’m very proud of the strong woman she was. Today, Grandma is in Heaven, but this is the 135th anniversary of that great lady’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.

My nephew, Sean Mortenson is what you would most likely call an extreme sports fanatic. Sean loves pretty much any kind of sports, but he really shines when it comes to the extreme snow sports. Sean has absolutely no fear, and he will plunge his snow machine into the snow and come out with a smile on his face…almost a gleeful smile, for lack of a better word. Don’t get me wrong when I mention extreme sports, because Sean isn’t stupid about his stunts, just good!! Nevertheless, the things he does are extreme, and he has the videos to prove it.

About a year ago, Sean opened his own business called Triangle Heating and Air LLC. Of course, it is an HVAC company, and it is doing quite well. In fact, they have been so busy that Sean had to hire help. He asked his father-in-law, Mike Reed, who had just retired. I’m sure you can imagine how that went. Hahaha!! Nevertheless, the business is thriving, and that is always a good thing, especially in these times, and especially when the business is just getting started. We are very happy for him in this new venture.

Sean is about to embark on another new venture…or maybe experience. He and my niece, Amanda Reed are about to become empty nesters, as their daughter, Jadyn Mortensen heads off to college in the fall. She won’t be so very far away, since she is going to the University of Wyoming, but for this close family, it is a bittersweet time. They are happy for their daughter and excited for her future schooling, but it will most likely mean that things in their home will never be that same again, and that is the bitter part. Sean and Amanda have spent the last 19 years building a beautiful life for them and their daughter, and they are very happy as a couple and as parents, so this change in their lives is a bit of a painful transition. Of course, it won’t be forever, but after several years of college, Jadyn will likely be ready to go out and start her own life, so in that way, it will likely never be the same. Still, it is time now for Sean and Amanda to begin a new chapter in their lives, and I know that this new chapter will be an exciting time, and it will be a rewarding time too. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Zoey Iverson is a mature seven-year-old girl. It’s not a matter of seven going on thirty or anything, but rather a girl who has known all her life that those people she loves need her help, and she is ready, willing, and able to give that needed help. Zoey is one of the best “mommy’s helpers” around. When Zoey came into her mommy, Cassie Franklin’s life, Cassie was mommy to Lucas, a Down Syndrome baby, and while Lucas was doing well, he had so many things to learn, and that can be exhausting for a parent. Zoey instinctively saw that her mommy and brother needed a helper, and she knew that she was just the girl for the job. So, Zoey became her mommy’s assistant teacher and helper, and it is a role she continues to this day. To Lucas, she is assistant physical therapist, teacher, playmate, best friend, and the best form of encouragement. And with that Lucas thrived. Where he couldn’t walk before, he does now, and so many other skills have improved as well. Where some little girls are instinctively the “little mommy,” Zoey is so much more. It’s just a big part of her personality.

While Zoey is a great help to her mommy, she has other interests too. These days she is into tap dancing and had a performance recently at the fair in Powell. She and her classmates did awesome. I wasn’t able to be there, but thankfully her mommy is a photographer, and she takes great videos, so I got to watch. Zoey is a petite little girl, and so dance suits her perfectly. She is a natural dancer. Zoey always loved dancing around the house, and it makes her brother smile.

Zoey has been the little sister all her life, but the big news is that pretty soon she will also be the big sister. Zoey’s mommy, Cassie and her partner, Wesley Burr are having a baby soon, and in fact, they get to find out what they are having in about six weeks. I’m sure Zoey and Lucas are very excited to find out if they are getting a brother or a sister…as are the rest of us. I know that while her life is already busy these days, Zoey will be a great help with her newest sibling. She has aways had that natural instinct, and to have a new baby to hold and help care for will be just awesome. I am so excited for the whole family, and this new precious little life that is on the way. Things are sure getting exciting for Miss Zoey. Today is Zoey’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Raelynn Masterson is very smart, but she, like so many other people, is also timid and shy. Once she gets to know people, she does great, but it takes a little while to get comfortable with people. In the past, she wasn’t aways confident in her abilities, or in herself, but she is working on that. For one thing, Raelynn was never really good at cooking, but these days she is not only spending time in the kitchen with her mom, Dustie Masterson, learning to cook, but she is learning about nutrition, and how to better take care of her own body and health, which of course includes exercise and fresh air too.

Raelynn has also been stepping outside of her comfort zone to make so new friends and hang out with them. The social aspect of things hasn’t always been easy for her, and like many people, when Covid hit, being on lockdown made the social interactions hard, and many people just started leading online lives. Stepping back out, or stepping out for the first time, is not easy, and I’m very proud of Raelynn for pushing herself to be more of a joiner.

Raelynn likes to write stories and develop characters for her stories. The friends she has made have similar interests, and they like to bounce ideas off of each other concerning their stories and characters. Sometimes it’s a big help to brainstorm together about what you want to do with a story or character. Also, every character needs a backstory. They need to have come from somewhere, and that isn’t always easy to develop or to make interesting. Raelynn is also into art and uses her drawings to illustrate her stories. Raelynn says that using her drawings in her stories “makes it easier for me to visualize that character and what they would do so I draw them at least once and then maybe later in a scene I wrote them in.” She doesn’t necessarily think she is very good, but I think that she is doing very well, and as with any skill, practice makes perfect. She knows that too. She is ok with the progress she has made. She obviously hasn’t seen anything I can draw, or she would really understand that she is leaps and bounds ahead of my skill level.

Raelynn may have held herself back in her earlier years, with shyness and a lack of confidence, but she is breaking out of that shell now, and like with any caterpillar, we are seeing the beautiful butterfly emerging. Raelynn has always been a beautiful girl, whether she knew it or now, but as she becomes more and more social, more people are able to see what we all saw…just how beautiful she is, inside and out. Today is Raelynn’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

On July 26, 2022, my nephew, Riley Birky and his partner, Sierah Martin welcomed their new little son, Ryder Scott Birky into the world. Already the parents of Sierah’s son Jace, they now have a new addition to their little family. Jace is so excited to have a baby brother, and he can’t wait for Ryder to be old enough to play with him. Jace has been an only child for a while now, so having a full-time friend is a really big deal, and Jace is determined to be the best big brother ever.

Little Ryder was born at 9:48pm and weighed 7 pounds exactly. He is 18 inches long. His daddy, Riley was there to assist in his natural delivery, and his mommy, Sierah was a champion throughout the whole process. Sierah and Riley are already experienced parents, and good ones too. Having a second child is the next logical step in their lives, and they have been excitedly awaiting the glorious day, when their precious new addition would make his appearance. Ryder is a sweet natured little boy, just like his mommy. Sierah doesn’t let things get to her much. She has a calming effect on her whole family, and I think that is probably what drew Riley to her in the very beginning…along with the fact that she is a beautiful girl.

Riley’s mom, Rachel Schulenberg passed away January 19, 2021, and I am sad that she did not live to see her new grandson, but I know that she is in Heaven, and I know that she is rejoicing over this new family that her son, Riley has gained. I know that she has always loved her son very much, and that she is filled with joy over the direction his life is going. I can actually hear her excited voice saying, “Look at my son!! He’s a daddy now!! And look at my brand-new grandson, his mommy, and big brother!! Isn’t he just beautiful!!” I know that Rachel is already in love with little Ryder. She is one very proud mom and grandma. Congratulations to Sierah, Riley, and Jace, on your wonderful new son, Ryder!! We love him already!!

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