Kids

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My grandnephew, Lucas Iverson, like the rest of the American school children, has had a very unusual school year…one that ended long before it was scheduled to. For most kids, while the missed ending of the school year was not good, for Lucas, it was really more detrimental than the normal student. Down Syndrome means that Lucas needs structure, and for him, that is school. Nevertheless, I think his parents, Cassie and Chris Iverson, did an excellent job of teaching their two children. Because of Lucas’ condition, Cassie and Chris have had to be very “hands on” in his education. Lucas is thriving in his mixed schooling situation, and that is largely to the credit of his parents, who have been teaching their son from his birth, Lucas had some challenges that made early training essential.

I love looking at pictures of the Iverson family. Zoey has been her brother’s champion for the time she was old enough to know her brother was there. She always makes sure that he is included in the activities. It’s not like her parents would leave him out of things, but she has decided that it is her responsibility, so she does her thing. She encourages him to always try harder. She was instrumental in his learning to walk, but more importantly, Zoey has been instrumental in letting people know that her brother can do more than he or anyone else ever thought. Zoey sees an open book where Lucas is concerned. She has no doubt that he can do anything he wants to do. She makes sure he knows that she has confidence in him. She loves him very much.

With schools closed, Lucas and Zoey have been having a sort-of camp/school in their neighborhood. Their mom calls it “Sidewalk School.” It is when the teacher or other volunteer comes to the home of the children, and holds class, outside. These sessions are such a good idea, because so many kids need a measure of student/teacher one-on-one time, and this is a way to do it safely, and effectively. Normally, one-on-one time is a part of the normal class time, but since the school’s are closed, one-on-one time has been thrown out along with the regular class time. I’m just glad that Lucas has so many people in his life, who have picked up the pieces to help him stay on point. Today is Lucas’ birthday. Happy birthday Lucas!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Chelsea Hadlock came into our lives when she met and then married my nephew, Ryan. None of us knew then how much she would change our lives…especially the lives of my sister, Allyn Hadlock; her husband, Chris; and their girls, Jessi, Lindsay, and Kellie. They received something they didn’t know they were missing. It wasn’t really a thing, but rather a person…Chelsea. They received a daughter-in-law/sister-in-law, who is so caring! Chelsea cares about each of them and each baby. She loves this family she has joined, and she goes out of her way to show each of them just how much she loves and cares about them. Chelsea is an excellent mother to her children Ethan and Aurora, a wonderful aunt to Adelaide and Makenzie, and an awesome sister to Jessi, Lindsay, and Kelli, as well as a wonderful daughter-in-law to Allyn and Chris. We are all blessed to have her in our lives!

Chelsea is super creative. She loves to go to garage sales to see what treasures she can find. You and I might see junk at garage sales, but Chelsea sees furniture and other items that are just waiting to have someone bring out their true beauty. Chelsea is just the person to do so too. She might find a piece of furniture for $5.00, and when she is done, it looks like something out of a magazine. She’s also really thoughtful. If she’s out shopping and she sees something that reminds her of you or of a story or inside joke, she’ll pick it up.

Chelsea has been taking her designs to the various Comic Con events too. She sells them there, and does very well on her trips. She makes all her costumes for the event too. She designs the dresses, cuts the fabric, and sews the entire costume. I know lots of people make clothes, but not many design them too. Chelsea is a very capable designer, who can make her designs into a reality. Now that’s talent.

Chelsea and Ryan bought the house Ryan grew up in from his parents, Allyn and Chris, who had built a house on Chris’ parents land after their passing. They house was filled with all the memories of the Hadlock children’s childhood years. While they love those old memories, they also need to make new memories for their family. Chelsea has been busy adding her personal touches to make the house their own home. The kids all say that the house doesn’t seem like the same house at all. She is adding her own decorations and furniture layout designs. Ryan’s sisters say, We only knew that house as ours growing up, so it’s fun to see them put their touch on things. We love to see how excited she gets and the ideas she has for their home.” Today is Chelsea’s birthday. Happy birthday Chelsea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen is one of the hardest working people I know. She works full time as a CNA at Wyoming Medical Center, while going to nursing school. The hours are long, in both of her ventures. She works nights on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on the surgical floor of the hospital. The life of a CNA is always a busy one. Anyone who has been in the hospital can tell you that they run to call lights, help patients with all their personal needs, help patients with their mobility exercises, help in taking vitals, and so much more. It all adds up to twelve hours on your feet, with a small window of time to sit while charting and such. When she isn’t working or catching a few winks of sleep, Corrie’s time is spent studying, at least during the school year. She studies or goes to class or clinicals many hours a week. It’s really like having two full-time jobs.

Of course, Corrie is all about her family too. She is a wife to Kevin, mom to sons, Chris (and his fiancée) and Josh, and grandma to her little granddaughter. She is also a fur mommy to dogs, Dottie, Izzy, Bella, and to their cat, Zoe. Now the dogs love Corrie but she doesn’t have much time to play, so they really hang with Kevin more. Zoe, on the other hand, wants Corrie’s attention whenever she sits down. Zoe doesn’t understand studying, and whenever Corrie isn’t spending enough time to suit Zoe, she just decides to sit in the middle of Corrie’s book or computer, as if to say, “It’s my turn!! Pay attention to me!!” Corrie tells me that Zoe is her study partner, but I don’t think they were getting much studying done.

Corrie’s life is so busy, and sometimes I don’t know how she manages. She truly gets up in the morning, and runs all day and into the late night, then falls into bed and tries to unwind and sleep. It’s hard to unwind for Corrie, sometimes, because her mind is busy planning out the next day. Still, once in a while, Corrie finds a little bit of time to rest. She told me that she always takes her breaks at work, because she knows she needs that little bit of downtime to properly care for her patients, and I totally agree. A healthcare worker has to take care of themselves too, because if they get sick or exhausted, they are no help to their patients either. Corrie’s work life is all about the people she takes care of. When she went into this field, we talked about the fact that a CNA is often the person the patient sees the most, and so is the one who can effectively change the course of their patients day. A smile, a kind word, and a gentle touch can take a day filed with pain and upset, and change it to a day that is filled with sunshine. That is the ultimate goal for Corrie…bringing the sunshine. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie…you passed your sister again!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Topher Spicer just finished his first year of high school…strange as it might have been. Never before has there been such an unusual ending to a school year, and all because of the Covid-19 virus. We experienced the never-ending spring break, home schooling in families that didn’t intend to home school, and online classes for all grades. Some kids did well, while others struggled with this new reality education. Topher did well. He likes school and learning, and finished his first year of high school with all A’s and B’s. It was something to be proud of.

Topher also had an interesting year, in that he got a job…his first job. Most kids tend to go into retail or fast food for their first job, but Topher managed to land a really interesting job. It has me very impressed. He is working as a tour guide for The Wyoming Frontier Prison. The prison opened in 1901 and could accommodate 104 prisoners. At that time there was no running water, electricity, and very inadequate heating. The 104 cells were in what is now Cell Block A. An addition completed in 1904 added 32 cells. A second addition, adding Cell Block B in 1950, helped alleviate overcrowding. Cell Block C was added in 1966, with 30 cells for the most serious cases. The prison closed in 1987 and became a historic site in 1988…setting the stage for Topher’s first job. Topher, being the innovative guy he is, loves his job, and enjoys making people laugh at the witty things he has come up with for some of the historical information. Many people find history boring, but Topher helps them understand how things were in a very different era, and makes it interesting while he’s at it…now that’s something to be proud of.

Topher is comfortable in his own company. He is an only child, and always finds ways to occupy his mind. He and his mom, my niece, Andrea Spicer, are good friends, and even into his teenage years, they get along very well. Topher is her right-hand man, helping her with things she needs and doing it without complaint…ok, not too much anyway. Topher plans to spend high school building up his art and theatre credits, and then he is considering going to the University of Wyoming, or possibly to South Dakota. I know that whatever Topher decides to do, he will excel at it and continue to make his family proud. Today is Topher’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Topher!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

New babies are always so much fun for a family to receive. They bring so much joy to the family. Recently, our family was blessed with a new addition when my grand niece, Katy Balcerzak and her partner, Dylan Herr had an adorable baby boy named Max Robert Herr. Max was born on June 14, 2020, at 5:41pm after a 17 hour labor that ended in a rather dangerous and terrifying delivery proceeded by 3½ hours of pushing. During the delivery, Katy spiked a high temperature, and little Max’s heart rate slowed, but the Lord took care of them, and they came through with flying colors. We are very thankful for the happy ending of that labor that brought them their sweet Max, who weighed in at 8 pounds 14 0.ounces, and was 21¼ inches long.

While Max made a dramatic entrance into the world, his life since then has been much more relaxed. He is a sweet, easy going baby, who is very mellow and loves to be held…preferably all the time. Right now, he loves to sleep…so much so, that his parents have to wake him up to eat most of the time. Max loves his daddy very much, but at this point, he is a mama’s boy who calms right down when Katy picks him up. He loves his mommy’s voice, and their bond is one that comes from spending nine months connecting to each other. Such a sweet bond, between mother and son.

Max is been receiving visitors from time to time. Dylan’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law have come by to meet him and get a few cuddles. And Katy’s mom is visiting right now, and Katy says she is the “Baby Whisperer.” Grandma’s do have a knack when it comes to their grandbabies. Most of Katy’s family live in Casper Wyoming, so many of us have not had a chance to meet little Max yet, but we are all looking forward to meeting him very soon. They are planning a visit to Casper over the 4th of July. In the meantime, we are very much enjoying all the pictures that Katy and Dylan are sharing with us. Max, for his part, is taking everything in stride. He had decided that he is a happy, social baby, dazzling his visitors with cuddles and smiles, and everyone loves it. Welcome to the world Max Robert Herr!! We love you already!!

Father’s Day is a holiday that is harder for me since my dad and my father-in-law have gone to Heaven. Nevertheless, I feel very honored to have had the dads that I did. Both of my dads, Allen Spencer and Walt Schulenberg, were both men of honor, of whom we were all able to be so proud. They loved their families unconditionally, and we were so blessed to know them. I know they are both in Heaven now, and very happy. While we miss them, they are both doing so well, and are living in their reward. I can just picture them now…smiling, happy, well, and strong. I couldn’t ask for anything more for them.

As to Father’s Day…well, it has taken on a new meaning these days. Now, after thinking about the dad’s who aren’t with us, my thoughts center on the dads that are in my life today…my husband, Bob Schulenberg; sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce; and my grandson, Chris Petersen. All of the dads who are still with us are wonderful men, who love their families deeply. Their children are their greatest blessings. They are all great dads. The one thing I have noticed about these men is the different parenting styles. They are different, but all great dads, and in the end, they all have one thing in common. They love their families. No family could ask for anything more, because they already have the very best.

Life is hectic, whether these guys are retired or working. They are busy and yet they still find time to be there for the people they love. They are always doing things that make the lives of their families better. Each of these men are talented in different ways, and it is those talents that have blessed their families so much. Each was unique, and yet very special in their own ways, but each has endeared himself to me because of their special talents. I love the way they have enriched the lives of me, my kids, grandkids, and great granddaughter. I couldn’t ask for better men for any of us. Happy Father’s Day to the dads in my life, and to all the dads out there.

My grand nephew, James Renville got the “travel bug” early on in his life. The first trip he took was when he was just when he was just 3 weeks old. His parents, my niece Toni Chase and her then husband, Jim Renville to their newborn son to meet his grandpa in North Dakota. Many babies don’t do well on long trips, but James was calm throughout the seven hour drive. He was such a good baby for them. The only times he fussed was when he was hungry, and then it wasn’t much fussing. Really, from that point on, James was at his most calm when he was traveling. His mom says that he “knew what vacation meant from the start.”

Toni read somewhere, and many of us have always thought the same thing, that when you are an “only child,” like James is, that “you are likely to mature early and manifest adult behaviors an attitudes.” I’m sure it is because they around adults so much. That was never made more clear to her than when they went on the first trip that James was old enough to really know what was going on. They took James to the water park in South Dakota. He really had a blast, but he refused to go on any of the “kiddie slides” or “baby slides,” as he called them. While that was great for James, it meant that since James really was a “kiddie” or “baby” himself, he also couldn’t go on the big slides without an adult. So, his mom and dad had to go up and down the steep hills, carrying James most of the way, in the 90° heat to get to the slides. The plan had been to let the kids…James and his cousins…play for a while, and then head home in the afternoon. Well, when everyone else was ready to go…the cousins had already fallen asleep, James definitely was not. He wasn’t one bit tired, or as his mom puts it, “Not even a yawn!” They ended up staying until the park closed.

Last August, James took a trip with some friends of his. It was a chance to say goodbye to summer, and to one friend who was leaving to start his career in the Air Force. For James, it was also a way to “say goodbye” to being a kid. College was over, and everything was going to be different now. The friends went to Denver to cut loose a little bit. They went to Eliches, went clubbing, and checked out some of the breweries. Toni began to think of what was coming next. She wanted things to be good for James, and he did love to travel. He had taken tips to the Netherlands and Spain, and she wanted to do something fun for him.

Toni and her husband, Dave Chase began to plan their own travels and some trips for James too. Things started off really well. Toni and Dave took him to a concert at Red Rocks in Denver. It was to be the first of several fun trips the family would take, including a trip to San Diego with Toni and Dave. The San Diego trip was amazing too. They spent 5 days there. They planned activities for every day. They went to an air show that Toni is sure James only went to “for her.” Then afterward, James said it wasn’t what he had expected. He said he had a great time. Then they went to a festival in La Jolla, several beaches on the ocean, the Cabrillo National Monument and the surrounding area, and the brewery district in the San Diego area…then relaxed at the resort.

After these trips, the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, and the whole world went into turmoil. For James that meant no trip to Las Vegas with his dad, Jim and the rest of their pool team for his first pool tournament, and trip that was to be the “Shangri La” of them all, James’ long awaited trip to the western coast of South America. He had planned to take that one last year, but couldn’t get the time off from his job. Now, it is all on hold, until the trips can be rearranged, and who knows how long that will be. Still, James really was born with the “traveling bug” and he has been building his skills for years. He is very driven and never wants to miss a thing. His past trips have included the Rocky Mountain Region (Wyoming, Montana, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Colorado), the deserts of Nevada, the lakes of Arizona, the beaches of Florida, the ocean surrounding California, the eastern shores of Virginia and Washington DC, the costal plains of Alabama, the French Quarter of New Orleans nd Louisiana, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and far beyond the northern hemisphere to see parts of the Netherlands and Spain. While some of his trips were cancelled or postponed this year, there is always next year. For James…well, next up is Peru, and it will be amazing!! Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Garrett Stevens was a boy who loved kids and family. His cousins were so special to him. Whenever he could, you would find him surrounded by the younger cousins…all begging to swing them around, or chase them, or play hide and seek with them…anything was ok, as long as Garrett was playing. Time passes so quickly, and Garrett’s childhood years are long gone, but not his love of children. Garrett met a wonderful woman a few years ago, named Kayla Smiley, and they were married July 23, 2016. Then, on August 3, 2018, their marriage was blessed with a beautiful little girl named Elliott. I know that for Garrett, not much has changed, at least not where kids are concerned. These days he just has a different child to swing around in circles, to chase around the yard, and to play hide and seek with. Elliott loves her daddy, and hanging out with him. Elliott loves her daddy, and her mommy too, of course. These days, Elliott is Garrett and Kayla’s whole world.

Of course, like many men, Garrett likes to hunt and fish. During the past winter, Garrett and his dad, Mike when ice fishing for the first time. They had a great time, and they were pretty successful too. They liked it so much that they decided to build their own ice fishing hut for next year. Personally, I prefer warm weather, so I doubt I would get excited about ice fishing or and ice fishing hut, but to each his own. Garrett is good at both, and loves doing it. Over the years, he and Mike have had good success in their hunting and fishing endeavors.

Garrett is a welder by trade, and since shortly after moving to Sheridan, he has worked EMIT Technologies. He is very talented, and can fabricate just about anything you are looking for. Garrett takes after his Grandpa Al Spencer in his welding ability. Welding is a talent that is partly learned, and partly inherited, I think. You have to have an inner talent for it, at least if you are going to be good at it. Like the many other talents Garrett has, he is a very talented welder. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Many of us define success by the degree or the career we have. I don’t dispute the value of the college degree, but is that really what defines us, or is it what we do with our lives that defines us. I know a lot of people who have a degree, but do not work in the industry they degreed in. That doesn’t mean they failed, just that they found success in something other than their area of study. Some people do work in their degreed area, and are quite successful at it. Still, that doesn’t define them either. My niece, Kayla Stevens is one of those who work in her degreed area, and yet the person I see is so much more than a social worker. She works at the VA hospital in Sheridan, Wyoming, but she is really all about her family.

Since having their little girl, Elliott, Kayla and my nephew Garrett have been basking in the sunshine of having a family. Elliott is such a character, and she keeps the not only on their toes, but she keeps them laughing too. They hardly need any entertainment, because their girl, who is almost 2 years old, is very entertaining. Kayla is a great mom and really loves being the mom. She may be a social worker by degree, but she is a family girl all the way. Her husband and daughter are the most important people in her life.

Recently, when Garrett’s parents, Mike and Alena Stevens were visiting, the whole family got the chance to go hiking along the Tongue River near Sheridan. The family had such a good time. Sheridan is a pretty area, and there are lots of places to go for a nice weekend getaway. Kayla’s family lives near Sheridan, out in the country. Kayla and Garrett go out to their place after church on Sundays for lunch, and are often there for dinner on the weekends too. They love their families, and want to give Elliott the benefit of knowing both sides of her family. They realize just how important it is for her to know both sets of grandparents, as well as aunts and uncles. Family is so important to Kayla and Garrett, and they feel very blessed with such close families. Today is Kayla’ birthday. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Alena Stevens has always had a great sense of style…especially when it came to interior decorating. Her ability to somehow see something in a room that almost speaks to her. She can just picture what the room should look like before she even starts decorating the room. I was always impressed that she could do that, because I practically have to copy something out of a magazine or webpage to get the room to look good. Alena just sees it all in her head. It must be her creative side.

I was always impressed with the beautiful rooms Alena could create. Her house always feels warm and homey. What I didn’t expect, was when a house spoke to Alena. No, I’m not being creepy, but Alena saw the house she and her husband, Mike now own, after it had already been sold. At that time she told Mike that if it ever went on the market again, she wanted it. After a few years, the house did go on the market again, and they jumped at the chance to buy it. The house was everything Alena had dreamed it would be. She set about decorating it, and the house seemed to glow under her loving care.

Over the years, Alena had changed the décor of the home, and each time it is just as lovely as the time before. When we went through our parents things, after their passing, she incorporated the things she got into lovely areas of tribute to them. Then she made a wonderful man-cave for Mike. Don’t get me wrong on who does the work here, because Mike does most of the heavy lifting and the mechanical stuff, but the design is all Alena. Her design talents are well known in the family, and a number of us have her ideas in our own homes, including me. It is something we can all feel very blessed about, because talented interior decorators are not easy to come by.

These days, a part of Alena’s heart lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Her son Garrett, his wife, Kayla, and daughter, Elliott live there. Alena and Mike go up as often as they can. Elliott is their first, and for now, only grandchild, so visits are precious. Elliott is an almost 2-year-old toddler, who is full of personality, and makes everyone laugh. She holds her grandparents’ hearts for sure. They keep in touch by FaceTime when they can’t be there, but it just isn’t the same. With Alena’s retirement this year from the school district, she will be able to go to Sheridan more and I know that she will do just that. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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