Kids

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My niece, Kelli Schulenberg is totally an outdoorsy girl. She loves to go camping, hiking, and just hanging out by a campfire with her husband, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg and their dog Scout. They have camped out many places, but they always seem to head back to the Big Horn Mountains. It’s close to home and that might be the reason they choose the Big Horns or Casper Mountain for their camping and hiking. Their dog loves to go along with them and tries to run the show. Kelli and Barry also like to ride their bicycles on the mountain, as well as on some of the local trails inside the city limits of Casper, and in the local dog park, which is nice for Scout.

While Kelli isn’t a big fan of Winter, she surprises me a little in that she rather likes cross country skiing and snow shoeing. Most of us “Winter Haters” would refuse to go out in snowy weather, at least any more than we absolutely had to. Yes, I’m a “Winter Hater” too, in case you couldn’t tell. Nevertheless, Kelli like to go cross country skiing, and I have to say, “Cudos to you, Kelli!!” Kelli really loves the mountains, and that is very likely the reason that she adds a few wintertime outings to her fitness calendar. She also loves to stay in shape, and the different sports things she does help her do that quite well. A dog, who is always up for an outing helps too. Dog owners tend to get out more in the winter than non-owners.

Of course, a year in the life of Kelli Schulenberg would never be complete without several trips around the nation to take in all the country music concerts she can squeeze in. That part of life for Kelli actually takes in what are quite likely her favorite activities…music and travel. So, every chance they get, Kelli and Barry (and often her mom, Mary Wages too) will hit the road or fly the friendly skies, in search of another travel and music adventure. I’m not sure how many states Kelli has been in, but I would wager that it is probably quite a few. When you have a “hobby” like Kelli’s, it can take you to many very cool places…and it can be a lot of fun too. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My aunt, Evelyn Hushman was the eldest of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s nine children. Big families have a different dynamic than small families. My own daughter, Corrie Petersen was too close in age to her younger sister, Amy Royce to be of help in raising her sister. That was just not how our family worked, but my grandparents’ family, and even my own parents’ family, were big enough for the children to have a hand in raising the younger children. Some people consider that a privilege, and others consider it a burden. There is no right or wrong way to feel about it. It just is the way it is. I don’t know how any of my siblings felt about things or even how my aunts and uncles felt about it, but I think that my parents and grandparents always felt thankful for the help the older children gave, because families of any size can be exhausting.

For many years, my Aunt Evelyn, her husband, my Uncle George Hushman, and my parents, Al and Collene Spencer, bowled on a bowling league. Then as their children grew up, we all bowled too. That is a legacy we likely owe to our parents. I’m not sure any of the others still bowl today, but I do, as does my husband, Bob Schulenberg. We have bowled now for 44 years. When I think about that, it is a legacy. I’m not a professional bowler or anything…far from it, but I can hold my own on among the amateurs, and for me, that all went back to the league my parents and Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George bowled on.

In reality, my parents and my aunt and uncle did many things together. They were really best friends. They double dated many times, including the date that almost cost them their lives. They were coming home from a date and my dad was driving. They were taking Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George home, when they were struck by a train. They would have all died at the unlit, uncontrolled, crossing being hit by a train with no lights on, if my Uncle George hadn’t caught sight of a reflection, and yelled to my dad, “Train!!” Dad reacted by turning with the train, thereby saving the lives of all four of them. They weren’t even injured. So, I guess we their children, owe our lives to them, in more ways than one. Today would have been Aunt Evelyn’s 94th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much.

My great grandnephew, Aysa Balcerzak is turning one today. I can hardly believe he is a year old already. This sweet smiley little boy is always happy, although his parents might disagree with me, but I only see his best faces, so I’ll go with what I see. Aysa loves spending time with his big sister, Reece, who is just as smiley as her brother, and loves that she has a little brother. Reece loves “showing her brother the ropes” about things, and Aysa is really having a good time exploring the world around him. He really is learning the ropes, like what all these leaves on the ground are all about and that food is fun to eat…and to play with. Of course, he is also exploring the multiple toys he now has, and as we all know, that collection will quickly grow. It is just the way it goes with kids.

Aysa is learning the art of coaching his big sister’s sporting events…with a little help from his daddy, Keifer Balcerzak. He loves to be right there on the field, so he can see all the action firsthand.
I suppose there will come a time when Aysa will be more into sports that Reece will, so it makes sense that he should watch closely. I know that because his daddy and grandpa, Dave Balcerzak both love sports, and quite likely his other grandparents do too, so Aysa comes from a long line of sports people. I know he will grow right into it.

While he loves watching sports, Aysa is also a cuddly boy. He loves snuggling up with his family, and they should really enjoy that while the can, because as we all know, most little boys grow out of the cuddly phase pretty quickly. I mean, a school aged boy can’t be seen hugging on his mom and such. Still, some boys don’t care, and maybe Aysa will be one of those. It’s always fun to have a boy who just loves giving hugs, because so many don’t. Whether Aysa continues to be a cuddly child or not, remains to be seen, but nevertheless, Aysa is a sweet little boy, who has captured the hearts of all who know him. His smiley face, and cheerful personality, make him a child who is so much fun to be around. Aysa is just perfect in every way. Today is Aysa’s first birthday. Happy 1st birthday Aysa!! Have a wonderful day, sweet boy!! We love you!!

My nephew, Matt Miller, is having a great year. Last year, on August 14th, Matt became a member of our family, when he married my niece, Michelle. With everything going on, and their prior wedding date having been postponed due to Covid, they decided to wait to take a honeymoon until this year. They wanted to let all the restrictions end before they took the most important trip of their married lives. So, for their first anniversary, they took their honeymoon trip to Saint Thomas, in the Virgin Islands. They have been honeymooning since they got married, so the trip was just the next step. They had a wonderful time on their trip. They snorkeled a lot and got to do something called SNUBA which is kind of like scuba diving, but you don’t have to train for it. They stayed at an all-inclusive resort, and they just loved it. They didn’t have to go anywhere or do anything they didn’t want to, they just relaxed, had fun, and had adventures.

They are both doing amazing at their jobs. Matt is a Production Supervisor at Peabody Energy at the North Antelope Rochelle Mine, and Michelle is an Art Educator at the Nicolaysen Art Museum. Their careers are really taking off, and they are so excited to be doing the work they love. With their careers going well, they decided to start looking for a house, although with the market as bad as it is, it may not be the perfect time to do so. They aren’t in a huge hurry, so they are just checking to see what’s out there. They have a specific type of property in mind. They are hoping to find something with a couple acres of land because Matt has a lot of toys, so he needs a shop desperately. Men have to have their tinkering place.

Matt loves kids, and he is the best uncle to all of his nieces and nephew. He has three nieces, Hannah Miller, Elliott and Maya Stevens, as well as bonus niece and nephew, Brooklyn and Jaxon Killinger. The kids absolutely love their uncle, and he spoils them rotten…or so I’m told. I think he is just practicing for the children he and Michelle plan to have one of these days. They are very excited to have kids soon, and we all can’t wait either!! Babies are the most wonderful gift ever. For now, Matt is the best dog dad! They love and spoil their dogs, Obi and Leia…maybe, they say, a little more than some people would call normal, but I think they are like most pet parents. Those dogs are their babies and will be even when the kids arrive. They are part of the family too.

Matt did get a new “baby” this year…his new truck, and he is quite obsessed with it. this year that he is obsessed with it. Boys and their toys!! From trucks, to snowmobiles, to 4 wheelers, to motorcycles. It doesn’t matter what their toy of choice is. Boys will always be obsessed with their toys. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When Chris Kirk married my grandniece, Siara, he became my grandnephew. One of the things that Chris and Siara have in common is a love of exercise. They both work very hard at their fitness goals, and they love to work out together. I am amazed at how strong they both are. In fact, when they began dating, some of the first pictures we saw of the two of them working out together. I was amazed at the abilities of both of them. Chris works hard at the gym too, and he is always trying for personal bests and trying to be in power lifting contests.

Chris is a hardworking man, who has moved up faster than anyone else who was hired at WL Plastics when he was. It is Chris’ goal to become a line operator, and he is moving quickly toward that goal. His work ethic is great, and as we all know, lots of people these days want a paycheck, but don’t really want to work. That idea couldn’t be further from Chris’ mind. When he takes on a job, Chris gives it his all. He is loyal to the people he works for, and they appreciate that. I’m sure that is why he is moving up so quickly. He will make a great line operator very soon.

When Siara lost her son, Alec Olsen, she was devastated, and after her first marriage broke up, she wasn’t sure she would ever get to be a mom again. Then Chris came along, and while they are not pregnant yet, Chris has wanted a family since he was 12 years old, so their goal to have a family is a common one for them. In an unusual twist, Chris and Alec share a birthday. That is something that Siara finds very sweet. Her two loves, her husband and her son share a common bond even though they have never met…yet anyway. They will in Heaven, and I think they will love each other very much. Since today is both of Siara’s boys’ birthdays, they have decided to spend the weekend in Denver as a little celebration of the lives of both of them. I can’t wait for Chris and Siara to start a family. Chris is such a loving man, and he has been such a great blessing to Siara. I know he will be a great dad, when that day comes…just as he has been a great husband to Siara. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Susan Griffith has been having an interesting year. She has one daughter, Jala Satterwhite, who has moved out and is living on her own now. Jala also took her first cross country flight alone. Susan was a bit of a basket case over that one…which she may or may not have wanted Jala to know, so don’t read that part, Jala. Susan has been teaching her other daughter, Kaytlyn Griffith to drive, so she could get her hardship license, which she recently received. Susan and her husband, Josh Griffith purchased a placed in the country, and with Jala no longer in the home, Kaytlyn qualifies for the hardship license. It’s a little easier to take these new steps in the lives of your kids, when they are closer to home, so at least for now, Susan is ok with Kaytlyn’s new-found freedom.

Susan has always been such an optimistic person, and she always tells Jala that every year, life just gets better and better. That is a wonderful attitude to have. It pretty much guarantees happiness. Susan says that she is the happiest she has ever been with her life, and that the 40s have been the best ever. While that is very true, the 40s can also bring about change…like empty nest syndrome. While Susan isn’t there yet, she only has one of her children still at home. She does miss her older daughter though, and nothing proves that more than the “renaming” of the dog. Susan used to call Jala, “Jala Elizabeth” and now the dog is “Olive Elizabeth” as opposed to just Olive. I think she misses her girl some. Nevertheless, Jala isn’t too far away. She just moved to town. Still, you don’t see as much of your kids when they move out, so it’s a little hard.

Life is all about change. It’s just something each of us has to deal with. Much of that change is wonderful, some is sad, and some of it is just new. Susan has a great perspective concerning change. With that, she will do well in life. Susan will always have her beautiful place in the country, camping with her husband, and her great outlook on life, and those things will take her wherever she wants to go. She and Josh like to travel, and they have taken the family to some great places, and I’m sure there will be more in the future, and later, some trips for just the two of them…like maybe a second honeymoon. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Rob Masterson, says of his wife, Dustie, “This is our 22nd year together. We will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in January, but we have been together 22 years. She remains the love of my life. She is a remarkable woman at home and at work. Her boss has put her on the fast track as far as her advancement in the company. She loves her children…even when she wants to strangle them. Then again, I suspect that’s true of all mothers. I am prouder now than I was the day I married her, to be allowed to be her husband.” Such a beautiful tribute. It made me cry. Words of love from a husband to a wife. Some things simply cannot be improved upon by summarizing them.

Dustie has a way of taking things in stride, even when that isn’t the easiest thing to do. The family had a cat, named Scratch. The cat was so loved, but one day Scratch went missing. It was such a sad day for the whole family, but Scratch was Dustie’s cat, so it was especially sad for her, but Dustie persevered. Sadly, Scratch didn’t come back, and after waiting for a few months, Dustie decided that the time had come to get a new cat. So, they got a sweet little kitten and named him Moxie. Like Scratch, Moxie is very much a momma’s boy. Moxie loves to cuddle and be loved on, and Dustie coddles him. I think she must have a magnetic personality…especially for kitties.

Dustie has been working at Walgreen’s for a couple of years now, and she was recently promoted to ESM (Emerging Store Manager). That is second in command, and person in charge when the manager is off duty. She has worked very hard to be the best she can be. In order to receive this promotion, Dustie had to know every part of the store operations, including the Pharmacy, so she has taken a pharmacy tech training course. Dustie works very hard, and she has been learning many things pertaining to her job and possible promotions. She has a lot of responsibility now, but she loves it. As, her daughter, Raelynn said, “She’s been taking her life and making it great.” Dustie is also learning German and doing quite well. My only question is, why didn’t she learn it when I was learning it (in high school)? I needed someone to practice with. Her mother-in-law, my sister, Cheryl says she was too young. I say that is no excuse!!! Of course, the reality is that Dustie wasn’t born yet when I was in high school. Still no excuse, Dustie!!

Daughter, Taylor says, “Mom has always listened to our needs and wants. She has always been there for Rae, Matt, and me, especially right now and she is always checking in with Dad on how he’s feeling. Mom just amazing.” Raelynn says, “I really look up to mom. She doesn’t let things hold her down for very long.” No, she doesn’t. Dustie has always been a happy person, and that’s why we have all loved her since she and Rob started dating 22 years ago. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My aunt, Sandy Patton is the youngest of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s children. Life for a youngest child is normally very different than that of the oldest child…especially in a large family. My grandparents had nine children. From almost the time Aunt Sandy was three years old, basically from the time her first memory, there were babies in the household. The older children had similar experiences, but it’s a bit different when the babies are younger siblings…or maybe it isn’t. The nieces and nephews were there a lot, but they did go home too. Nevertheless, as a young girl, she always had playmates…at least when she could play.

Aunt Sandy was a sickly child, and often missed school, so in reality, her best friend was her mom. They spent a lot of time together while her mom care for her ailing daughter. When a child is sick, they need bedrest, but when they aren’t sleeping…that can make for long boring days. So, to ease the boredom, Grandma Byer told her daughter stories of the past…Grandma’s past and Aunt Sandy’s heritage. Some of the stories were about Grandma’s childhood years, and others were about her ancestors. Aunt Sandy learned about the Cowboys and Indians, the lives of farmers and homesteaders, early automobiles, and about Aunt Sandy’s older siblings’ antics. When she wasn’t sick, Aunt Sandy had to take on the job of catching up on her studies. I don’t imagine that was fun, and I would think that there were many times when Aunt Sandy, thought about quitting school, but she didn’t…and maybe Grandma wouldn’t have let her do that. Whether Aunt Sandy liked school or not really made no difference, because if there was one subject she did like history. She loved hearing about the past, probably because her mom made it so real to her…almost like she was right there.

Aunt Sandy still loves hearing about family today, and really enjoys hearing about all the new additions, and the exciting things everyone is doing. She is the keeper of traditions, which stands to reason, since she is the youngest. It seems like tradition always falls to the youngest child eventually…at least until they pass the baton to the next generation. Sometimes it’s hard to pass that baton, because you never know if there will be a child of the next generation who is willing to pick that baton up and run with it. It was the hope of her parents, my grandparents that we always find a way to keep the family as close as possible. Aunt Sandy tried her best, and hopefully now, we will continue to try our best. Today is Aunt Sandy’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It has been a rough couple of years for my nephew, Tucker Schulenberg. On January 19, 2021, he lost his mother, Rachel Schulenberg to a stroke. It was an extremely difficult grieving process for a boy who was barely 13 years old at the time. Suddenly, he felt very alone, even though his dad, my brother-in-law Ron Schulenberg was there. The problem was that they were both grieving, and that makes it doubly hard. Then, when Covid hit, and school wasn’t in session, Tucker really became more of a recluse. It was a tough time.

Things are getting better now, after a long hard road. Tucker is in a new school, with smaller classrooms and it seems to be going a little better at now. This school has shown good success with other students, and now Tuckers grade are better too. I don’t know what Tucker would like to do as an adult, and I’m not sure he does either, but I’m sure that he will find his way. Ultimately, most kids do, and Tucker is a good kid.

Tucker really enjoys the monthly family dinners that our family does. He likes kids and it gives him a chance to play with his cousins, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. When we go to their house, there is a lot to do. They have lots of farm animals, plenty of dogs, and a trampoline, which is always an attraction. Being around the cousins is a good thing for him. Since he is the only child at home, the only other social time he gets is at school, and as we all know, you shouldn’t really be socializing in class.

Tucker also has a brand-new nephew, which is very cool. Since his brother, Riley Birky and his partner Sierah Martin, live in Powell, Tucker doesn’t get to see a whole lot of them, but I imagine that this summer will give him the opportunity to go for a visit, and since Powell isn’t terribly far away, Tucker gets to visit every once in a while. Tucker is also going to be an uncle again, when his sister, Cassie Franklin and her partner Wesley Burr, have their new baby, coming in January 2023. Tucker is a good uncle, so I’m happy for him. So, for Tucker, there is a lot of new things going on. It is my hope that the new year will bring much healing of Tucker’s broken heart, and much joy as he sees these new babies in his life. Today is Tucker’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Born the day after her mom’s birthday, Reagan Parmely is the oldest child of my nephew and niece, Eric and Ashley Parmely. She was their first blessing, and she is a great blessing to their family, and to our whole family, but Reagan wants to be a blessing to more than just her family. Reagan is taking part in 4-H now and recently sold a sheep. She made a nice profit, and she could have kept all the money for herself, but that just isn’t her style. Reagan is a giver, like her parents. So, after her sale, her first 4-H check has been deposited, and she has decided to make donations to three charities. She picked Central Wyoming Aviary-Rescue and Sanctuary, Wyoming Food for Thought Project, and The Orr’s Hope Foundation.  So many people and birds will be helped because of her generosity.  It was a very proud moment for her parents, and especially her mom, who might have embarrassed Reagan just a little bit when she cried as Reagan gave the check to Wyoming Food for Thought. Nevertheless, when Reagan gave them the donation and they said it would feed a child for almost half a year!! That is no small thing…especially for the child Reagan fed with her gift.

While this story of Reagan’s generosity is on the spectacular side, it isn’t unusual for Reagan. Mature for her years, Reagan is a loving big sister, to her younger siblings, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve, and a big help to her parents. Over the years, I have watched her grow, and while I’m sure there are some of the normal kid disputes, Reagan has always been a nurturing force in the lives of her siblings. She has shown them the rope of life and played the childhood games with them. They all look up to their big sis.

Because our family has a monthly family dinner, I have had numerous opportunities to have conversations with Reagan. She is an interesting girl who is full of ideas, inspiration, and dreams of adventure. She is very comfortable on her horse, as are her siblings, but then they all had a great teacher in their mom. Reagan is a good student, and according to her teacher/mom, she is very smart. Infact, Ashley sometimes feels like it’s difficult to keep up with Reagan. Nevertheless, challenge or not, having a smart student is always fun for the teacher. They are quick learners and therefore easy to teach…making school fun for all. Today is Reagan’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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