Kids

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My niece, Chantel Balcerzak is a very talented artist, and wedding planner. In the last three years she has planned the weddings of her two step-children, as well as her two children’s weddings. I don’t know about you, but for weddings in three years wold probably put me in the nut house, but Chantel seems to take most things in stride. Wedding planning really is her passion, and the weddings of her for kids are her greatest wedding accomplishments…and her greatest responsibilities. She has taken them very seriously, wanting every detail to be perfect.

Chantel decided after planning a couple of these weddings, that she had a knack for it and so, she started a business called Next To The Dress. The business is doing well, but planning a wedding for a customer and planning a wedding for your child are two different things. When it is your child’s wedding, you also have all the stressed out emotions of your children, as well as your own emotions too. In addition to that, when it is her child’s wedding, Chantel has parts of the planning that normally aren’t a part of the wedding planner’s duties. Being the wedding planner and the mom is a unique role for any wedding planner, and yet being the mom is often how wedding planners come to be wedding planners. They plan a wedding for their child, and then start a business.

Chantel is such a great artist, and she brings all of her artistic abilities to create the wedding of her client’s dreams. She can create just about any design her client can dream up. That kind of talent isn’t easy to find, and it takes a lot of effort on Chantel’s part. She spend hours searching the internet for design examples to show her clients, so that their wedding will become the dream they have always fantasized about. That is really what makes Chantel such a great wedding planner. It is more than just an attention to detail, it is a dedication to the dreams of her clients, and isn’t that what it is all about?

While Chantel is very busy right now, she is very excited for this wedding. It is the last for her children, and that can be a little emotional. Chantel is a sentimental person,so crying at weddings is simply a given. I don’t think any mom can go to the wedding of her child and not be emotional. After all, that bride or groom is the baby she carried for nine months, and then raised to adulthood. They will always be her babies, and as we all know, most mom’s are weepy people when it comes the sentimental things their kids do, like weddings graduations, and parenthood. And Chantel considers herself to be a queen of emotion, so don’t expect anything else. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In my niece, Elizabeth “Liz” Masterson’s 14 year teaching career she has molded the minds of about 1680 students. I’m sure that there were some students she couldn’t change much, but many others have been forever changed for the better because of Liz’s teaching abilities. Of course, there are always those special students…who really pull out the best Liz has to give. Those students have stayed friends with Liz since they were students. She has been invited to their weddings, baby showers, and they have remained friends on Facebook, because Liz is the kind of teacher they never want to forget.

Many of her students call Liz, Mast or Miss Mast. It isn’t a derogatory name, but rather a show of respect. It is, of course, the first part of her last name, but the respect is in the way the students say the name. Liz likes the name so much that she even named her photography sideline business, Miss Mast Photography. I think it is a term that shows her how much they like her as a teacher, and that shows in the lifelong friendships she has made with her students.

Liz is an amazing teacher, and she is interested in so many things. Her students see how passionate she is about teaching, an how knowledgeable she is on the subjects she teaches. I have had the opportunity to listen to Liz as she talked about the yearly Holocaust section she does, and as she spoke, I found myself shocked at how much she knew. I always thought of myself as pretty knowledgeable about the Holocaust, but I am finding out that she could easily teach me quite a bit. I think that is what you get when you combine an inquisitive mind with a teacher. Liz is a great teacher, and her students will tell you that she definitely makes learning fun. I wish I could have had Liz be my teacher, but that would have been impossible, unless she decides to leave the high school arena, and teach college, and I took a class.

Liz is also mom to her four little Fur Babies…dogs, Luka, Scout and Buffy, and her cat, Piper…AKA Kitty. Liz is as good a mommy as she is a teacher. If her babies are spoiled, it is with love. They have to be at the house alone during the day, while Liz is working, so at night she really hates to leave them alone. If she has to be at an event, she usually takes the dogs to her mom, my sister Cheryl Masterson’s house, so she can babysit them. And they totally love that she does that. I think it makes them feel very special. Kitty stays home, because she likes the peace and quiet for a while. Yes, I guess they are just a little bit spoiled, but she likes to think she is molding their minds too. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Amanda Reed has had a busy 2018, which is nothing unusual for her. Amanda has a great group of friends who love to get together and have a great time. It doesn’t matter if they are hanging out at somebody’s house or spending the weekend on the mountain or at the lake. They always have a great time. One thing that is always in the weekend plans…getting together with their friends. When you are social people that is just a way of life, and it’s a good thing that their daughter, Jaydn is a social person too. The cool thing about their friends is that all the kids are welcome.

The new year started out a few days early, when the whole gang went the mountains for a snow-filled play week designed to bring in the new year right. The snow was deep and fluffy…perfect for snowmobiling. On tap was everything from snowshoeing, to snowmobiling, to a few drinks, and probably, a few snowball fights too. Much fun was had by all, from parents, to kids, to dogs. They even built a fire and cooked their hot dogs on the open flame. Now that is a true dedication to the outdoors and the camping spirit.

With Amanda’s birthday being today, her girlfriends decided that they all needed a girls weekend in Deadwood. It was planned for weeks, and everyone was very excited. While they were there, they gambled, and visited the Prairie Berry Winery. And as they say, “What girls’ trip doesn’t come with some snow-cross!” I would have to say, probably one I was on, because it is too cold, and I’m a wimp, but not these girls. Cold and snow is almost their middle name…in the winter anyway. Having good friends to hang out with is what life is all about for Amanda and her family.

I think that most of Amanda’s dreams have come true. A couple of years ago, she got a VW Bug, and since she has always wanted one, she was absolutely thrilled with it. For her, it is the perfect car. Then with her job in the banking industry, she is pretty happy with her life. She has the two people in it that she loves the most, and of course, her parents too. Yep, life is good for her and her bunch. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s hard for me, and even harder for his mom, my niece Machelle Moore to believe that her son, my grand nephew, Weston Moore is eighteen today. Weston is a busy guy these days. He likes to participate in several sports, including football and track and is pretty good in both. Weston is a tall, broad shouldered young man, and that makes him tough to go through on the football field. In track, he is participating in shot put and discus, where his strong shoulders are an asset.

Weston got a job bagging groceries at Blair’s in Powell, so now he has gas money for school and all the activities he is involved in…and any social events, of course. Weston gets himself up most days to go to “0” hour and leaves the house at 6:30am. I guess that if you are dedicated to what you are doing, you do what you have to do to make it happen. Weston has proven that he has what it takes to make his dreams come true. Weston has plans to work lots of hours this summer so he can save p money for a new vehicle.

You see, while this has been a pretty good year for Weston, his car has not fared so well. Being parked in the high school parking lot, has taken a toll on his car. It has been hit a few times…after he hit a parked truck that is. His parents, Steve and Machelle went over to the accident scene, and Weston’s glasses were half way out the window. They got knocked off when he looked out the window while he hit the truck. It was not one of Weston’s better days. Steve had to tie up his front bumper with zip ties so that it didn’t fall all the way off. While the bumper looks better than it did, it now remains a constant reminder of the accident. I guess that if that is the worst that ever comes of Weston’s early driving experience, then he is doing pretty good. Most kids have an accident in the first few years of driving, so we can all just be thankful that the damage wasn’t worse and no one was hurt. All in all, I’m sure that Weston must be a pretty good driver, because he’s only had one accident in two years of driving. As an insurance agent, I can tell you that I have seen much worse from drivers, and some of them have far more experience than Weston has. Today is Weston’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

On Saint Patrick’s Day, my cousin Michael McDaniels and his wife, Deena took his mom, my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels to a celebration in downtown Casper, Wyoming, as part of her birthday celebration. That reminded me about the many times that my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I would run into Aunt Bonnie and her husband, my Uncle Jack at the fair with their grandchildren. They took them every year and the kids had a great time. We would run into them, because we still went to the fair at that time. I always thought it was great that they took their grandkids every year, because lots of kids don’t get to go. Either their parents couldn’t afford it, or just figured the kids could wait until they were old enough to go on their own. Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Jack’s grandkids didn’t have to worry about that, because they got to go every year.

Aunt Bonnie also loved attending the various events of her grandchildren, and I’m sure she was that way with her kids too. I usually saw her at the track meets at Grant School, where both of our grandchildren went to elementary school. Of course, Uncle Jack had to work in those days, so he didn’t get the pleasure of coming to the track meets. Aunt Bonnie was always so excited about the events, and spent the day cheering her grandson, Anthony McDaniels on to, hopefully, victory. For Aunt Bonnie, her family was everything. She wanted nothing more than to spend time surrounded by them. They were the product of the great love she had for Uncle Jack, and in them, her life was complete.

Aunt Bonnie has blessed many people in her lifetime. Her cakes have graced many a wedding, but it was her smile and her cheerful way that were the real blessing. Every time Bob and I ran into her, oddly most often while grocery shopping at Walmart, she and Uncle Jack were always pleased to run into us, and we always had a nice conversation…even if it was a short conversation. We just always enjoyed running into them. Things are different for Aunt Bonnie now that Uncle Jack has gone to Heaven, but it pleases me to see her kids taking her out to do the fun stuff. It’s almost like going full circle. What she and Uncle Jack did for their kids, they are now doing for her. And what a special treat it must be for her. She got to go to something she wouldn’t have done on her own. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my nephew, Eric Parmely was little, I would never have guessed that he would decide to become a farmer. Eric was born a city boy, and lived in town throughout his childhood. He rode motorcycles, worked on cars with his dad, and did all the typical things at city boys did. Then, when Eric met Ashley, everything changed. Ashley was a country girl, and loved all the farm animals…especially horses, and especially miniature horses. The reality was that Eric was so smitten with Ashley, that wherever Ashley was going, Eric wanted to go…whether he liked country life or not. The strange thing was, that this city boy suddenly found out that he liked country life…he really liked it.

Over the next seven years I watched as Eric became more and more a country boy…well, a country man. He loved having room to spread out and play with his kids, and have as many farm animals as he and Ashley could possible want. They raise goats, cows, guinea pigs, ducks, chickens, horses, dogs, cats…and kids!! Their two daughters, Reagan and Hattie and a great help around the farm, and no job grosses them out. I know their son, Bowen will soon grow up to be a great help too, but for now he gets to go along for the ride. Bowen likes that just as much as the girls like the work, for now.

Eric has worked for Halliburton for some time now, and is often out of town with his job. That is always tough on the family. Kids need both parents to be around, but at least the kids know that their daddy will be home soon. Eric is a hard worker, and when the bottom dropped out of the oil industry, Eric was able to keep his job. That is important, because he has a family to support. We are all very glad that his job was saved, but sorry that his work is so far away. We are also hoping that very soon, Eric’s job will bring him back home to work. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kellie Hadlock was practically born laughing, or to be more correct, giggling…and she hasn’t stopped since. Kellie was always happy, and simply couldn’t ever imagine going through life any other way. She loves a good joke, and sees humor in just about every situation. She can’t imagine going through her life without daily laughter, and we can’t imagine it either, because Kellie wouldn’t be Kellie without her giggles. They make her who she is.

Kellie became a successful insurance agent a few years ago, and was then given the opportunity to work in the insurance department of a title agency, which she has found to be very much to her liking. She has become a great asset to American Title Agency, where she now works, and her whole family is very happy for her. While insurance at a title agency is Kellie’s career, it is no her life. Her life belongs to God and praising Him in song.

Kellie is one of the lead singers at our church, Word Christian Fellowship. Kellie has a beautiful voice, and when it is paired with her love of the Lord, the songs take on an air of the angelic. That’s Kellie’s voice…just beautiful!! Of course, Kellie’s beautiful voice comes from her beautiful spirit. I have continued to be so proud of how she has grown in her music ministry. She wanted to go into music ministry on a full time basis, but God has not moved her in that direction at this time. I think it is likely because she would probably have to travel to do that full-time, and while that would be fun for a time, Kellie is very much a family person, and I don’t know how she would do with that in the long term.

Kellie loves being an aunt to her nephew, Ethan Hadlock and nieces, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore, and it would be very hard to be far away from them all the time. She already has to be far away form Mackenzie, who lives in North Carolina, and that is really hard for the whole family. So it would be really hard to live far away form all of them. Kellie is also very close with her mom and dad, Allyn and Chris Hadlock, and loves spending time with them, especially at their place on Casper Mountain. In fact, I thing that is where she uses up many of her awesome giggles. The family loves to get together and laugh, sing, and just enjoy each others company. It’s a great life. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In about 1985, I began coaching youth bowling at Eagle Bowl, in Casper Wyoming. As I set up the teams for the year, I decided to team my two daughters, Corrie Schulenberg (Petersen) and Amy Schulenberg (Royce) with two little sisters named Jaime Morton (Moler) and Jackie Morton. As it turned out, that team would be more than friends for life…because unbeknownst to me at the time, those little girls were 3rd cousins, a fact I found out by accident, when I mentioned the Morton family to my mom, Collene Spencer, who knew that the Morton girls’ grandmother, Margaret was my mother’s cousin. The knowledge of the family connection made the little girls’ team even more special. The girls would bowl together all through their youth bowling years. Those years went by so fast, and I was terrible at taking pictures of anyone but my own kids, so the memories I have of those precious years live only in my mind’s memory files now. Fast forward to adulthood for the four little girls. Through the years, our families remained close and my husband, Bob and I bowl with the Morton family on a league to this day. Our girls bowled the league too for a time, but the friendship…the cousinship…that was forever, and will be forever.

Yesterday, at 12:30pm, I guess I’ll always remember the time, I received some news that deeply saddened all of us. One of the girls, Jackie Morton, just 37 years old, had passed away. She had knee surgery, and the doctors suspect that a blood clot was the cause of her passing. Everyone who knew Jackie will remember her bubbly personality, and her smiling face. She was always fun to be around, and that is why she had such a great group of friends, all of whom will miss her greatly. She truly cared about her friends and what was going on in their lives. Jackie was also a hard worker, and often worked overtime, missing bowling because she was needed elsewhere. She did what she needed to do, because she was loyal and dedicated to her job.

Jackie and her sister, Jaime have been very close all their lives. They were far closer that just sisters. They loved spending time together, going to concerts, vacations together, and of course, the precious family time that the whole family cherished. One of the defining moments in Jackie’s life was the moment she became an aunt. Jackie loved being an aunt, and her nephew, Kaleb, and nieces, Kielei and Haley brought such joy to her life. She attended their activities, and considered them her treasure. Truly, her whole family was Jackie’s treasure. Not a day went by that she wasn’t talking to them, spending time with them, or thinking of them. She never took them for granted. And they never took her for granted either. The family was very close, including aunts and uncles and grandparents. Bowling nights always included Aunt Renae and Uncle Mitch Berlinger, and various other family members, especially grandparents often came to watch and cheer them on. Those were good times that will always be treasured in the family’s memories.

Sadly, and far too soon Jackie has left us now, and entered into Heaven. Our hearts are broken at her passing. The world lost a little bit of the sunshine it had, with Jackie’s passing. Our minds still can’t wrap themselves around the fact that our beautiful, vibrant, loving, sweet Jackie is gone. Her family and friends will forever feel the empty space she has left behind. Jackie, we love you and we will miss you so very much.

Anyone who lived through the 1960s knows about the Hippie Counterculture, or as we called it the Hippie Generation. It seems that every generation must be named. I wonder what the people who named Generation X would have called the Hippie Generation. In many ways they were much the same, with the exception of their clothes, anyway.

There was something that was unique, in my mind, to the Hippie Generation, and that was the Volkswagen Bus. I’m sure it was a coincidence that the VW Bus came out about the time that the whole “free love” ear was happening, but I would think that it was every parents nightmare, because it supplied a rolling motel room for kids on dates, and remember that the parents were pretty much against the whole “free love” thing. In fact, I’m quite sure it totally terrified them, because not only were their girls dating this guy was a rolling motel room, but this guy was…well, very different from the kind of man they had always hope their daughter would marry. My son-in-law, Kevin Petersen grew up around vans. His parents were at the right age to really be a part of the Hippie Generation, although I don’t know if they were really involved or not. They did love vans, however, and fixed theirs up to show.

The VW Bus, for it’s part, was the brainchild of Dutch businessman Ben Pon, an importer of the Volkswagen Beetles to the Netherlands. Pon saw a market for a small bus and in 1947 sketched out his concept. The bus went into production on March 8, 1950…technically before the Hippie Generation, so I suppose the Hippies adopted the VW Bus, and not the other way around. Known officially as the Volkswagen Type 2 (the Beetle was the Type 1) or the Transporter, the bus was a favorite mode of transportation for hippies in the United States during the 1960s and became an icon of the American counterculture movement. The bus eventually collected a number of nicknames, including the “Combi” (for combined-use vehicle) and the “Splittie” (for its split windshield); in Germany it was known as the “Bulli.” In the United States it was referred to by some as a hippie van or bus because it was used to transport groups of young people and their camping gear and other supplies to concerts and anti-war rallies. Some owners painted colorful murals on their buses and replaced the VW logo on the front with a peace symbol.

The Volkswagen Bus was only the second vehicle built by Volkswagen, a company whose history dates back to the 1930s Germany. In 1933, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany and announced he wanted to build new roads and affordable cars for the German people. At that time, Austrian-born engineer Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951) was already working on creating a small car for the masses. Hitler and Porsche later met and the engineer was charged with designing the inexpensive, mass-produced Volkswagen, or “people’s car.” In 1938, work began on the Volkswagen factory, located in what is now Wolfsburg, Germany. Full-scale vehicle production didn’t begin until after World War II, however. In the 1950s, the Volkswagen arrived in the United States, where the initial reception was negative, due in part to the car’s historic Nazi connection as well as its small size and unusual rounded shape (which later led to it being dubbed the “Beetle”). In 1959, the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach launched a groundbreaking campaign that promoted the car’s diminutive size as a distinct advantage to consumers, and over the next several years Volkswagen became the top-selling auto import in the United States. In 1972, the VW Beetle passed the Ford Model T as the world’s best-selling car, with over 15 million vehicles produced.

My grand niece, Kaytlyn Griffith is a big fan of the snow. In fact, you might call her a Snow Baby, except that at 10 years old, she isn’t really a baby anymore. When you hit those double digits, you can’t be called a baby. Nevertheless, Kaytlyn lives the snow. When it’s snowy out, Kaytlyn is outside in it. Last weekend, when Powell got a lot of snow, her dad, Josh Griffith we outside and shoveled all the snow he could find into a big pile, and Kaytlyn spent all day playing with their dog, Trump on the pile and sledding down it. As far as Kaytlyn is concerned, her dad is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now I think, that given Kaytlyn’s Snow Baby tendencies, that her dad needs to bring in a bunch of dirt this summer and build her a snow sledding hill for next year, because her mom, Susan Griffith was telling me a couple of days ago that it would be great if they had a sledding hill nearby, and since they have ended ugh land for it, they might as well have a sledding hill. Of course, Kaytlyn isn’t so snow crazy that she really wants to be out in it when it’s -20°, but there is a point when the temperature starts to rise and it’s finally above 0°, and everyone starts to feel happy again. That’s when Kaytlyn has to get outside in the snow. That’s a true Snow Baby.

Kaytlyn and her dog, Trump are best friends. Trump is an 80 pound teddy bear. He absolutely loves Kaytlyn. They play outside together and hang out together inside too. Next to Kaytlyn, Trump looks huge. Nevertheless, he would do anything for Kaytlyn. Trump is a special dog. Trump is deaf, but that doesn’t make Trump a dumb dog. They family has taught Trump sign language so they can communicate, and it has worked. I find that amazing.

Kaytlyn won three awards in one day at her school. That is a pretty big deal, and quite uncommon. She is a great friend to other kids at school. Her parents have really pushed the anti-bullying techniques, because they want her to help make a difference in the life of other people. I think that maybe the time spent with Trump has helped in that area too. Kaytlyn has learned that just because someone is different, whether it is deafness, shyness, or some other disability, doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them, and that they still have value, and should be treated with respect. Kaytlyn knows these things because of the wonderful upbringing she has received from her parents. Today is Kaytlyn’ s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Kaytlyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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