Kids

Few days make me dread writing my daily story, but then few days in my life have marked the beginning of such drastic change in my life either. It was December 12, 2007, twelve years ago, and my dad, Allen Spencer had been sick, or recovering for a little over two years, after being hit by Pancreatitis on October 1, 2005. My sisters and I had been caring for Dad, and our mom, Collene Spencer, who was diagnosed with Large Diffuse B-Cell Lymphoma in her brain in July of 2006. Mom’s tumor was gone quickly, and there were no other serious concerns with her, but Dad’s care required much more. Everything seemed to be going well, but Dad’s liver was giving out due to the intravenous feeding, something we couldn’t really see…or at least something we didn’t know to expect as a possibility.

My dad had always been the “rock” of our family. None of us ever considered that he was not as strong as he once had been. We knew that no matter what was going on around us, Dad always knew what to do about any problem. It was a very comforting feeling in a family where he was the only original male. Of course, his daughters were married now, and a few grandsons had also been added to the mix, but for our childhood years, my sisters, Cheryl, Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I were the kids they had, and so Dad was the only male. He was used to being the man with the answers, and we always looked to him when we needed those answers. It was difficult to see him in a state of weakness, but we would fight for his survival with all we had…never expecting to lose the fight.

With Dad’s passing on that awful December day, our world was forever changed. We were now going to need to take care of our mom, who needed us more than ever. While her health was ok, she didn’t drive anymore, and wasn’t as mobile as she had been before. We had promised Dad, we would take care of her, and as with Dad, we wouldn’t have it any other way for Mom. It wasn’t just the change is our care structure that changed either. Everything changed with Dad’s passing.

We had seriously never expected to live on this earth without our parents, and now that entire perspective had changed. We knew that very likely the day would come when both parents and our parents-in-law would be gone. We knew that we were going to be the leaders of our families. It was up to us to keep our families close, as Mom and Dad would have wanted us to do. There would now be great grandchildren who have never met their Great Grandpa Spencer, and later Great Grandma Spencer. It was up to us to tell the kids about their great grandparents, so they wouldn’t be forgotten. t was up to us to tell them that their Great Grandpa Spencer was a World War II Veteran, who fought bravely for his country…to make sure that his legacy lived on. It is a big responsibility, and sometimes seems impossible, but we must, because our Dad showed us the way we should live, and we must now live it. There is no other choice. Twelve years ago today, my dad began his life in Heaven, and we miss him every day. We can’t wait until we will be reunited again. We love you Dad.

My nephew, Barry Schulenberg is a mechanic for the State of Wyoming. He comes from a long line of mechanics, in fact. Barry spent a lot of his young years hanging out with his grandpa, my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, who had spent most of life as a mechanic. Barry wanted nothing more than to be just like his grandpa. A large portion of Barry’s life has done just that. He is a mechanic, he lives in the country, and he’s married to his best friend, Kelli. He likes to travel, and enjoys Country music. Barry is a lot like his grandpa.

Barry is a hard working man. He works on his property in the country. In the summer months, Barry works to keep the brush around their place cut, so that there is less chance of fires getting to their house. It was a strategy that protected their home a few years ago, when a fire raged around them, but missed their house. The winter months find Barry, along with his uncles Bob and Ron Schulenberg, cutting wood to heat their homes. Barry and Kelli have a large incinerator-type of stove that heats their whole house. Barry can fill it up and it will heat the house for several hours.

Of course, life isn’t all about working. Barry and Kellie have lots of activities they like to do. They do a lot of traveling, and often attend concerts on their travels. And speaking of concerts, they have been to see a lot of country music stars. Their travels have taken them to a number of different states. They also love to hike. In fact, that is probably the thing they like to do more than anything else. Unfortunately, in Wyoming, hiking is not a year-round activity, so they also go snow shoeing, skiing, and 4 wheeling…which can be done year round, of course. In addition to all of that, they regularly work out at one of the local gyms. All this is a great way to stay healthy. All in all, Barry and Kelli are two very active people, and that keeps them healthy. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Jessi Sawdon has a great sense of humor, and by that I don’t mean that she can tell a good joke once in a while, although, she can, but with Jessi it’s different than that. Jessi just likes to be silly. Even from her youngest days, she liked to tease her mom, my sister, Allyn Hadlock, by telling her that she (Jessi) was the mom. It went back and forth for a while, and then, Allyn would tell her, “Don’t you ever say I’m the mom.” Jessie, would instantly say…while pointing her finger up…not down…at her mom, “Don’t you ebber!!” How do you not laugh at this little 2 year old girl…bossing her mom around.

While things like that were a god beginning to Jessi’s silliness, they were by no means the end. As a kid, she used to take pictures of her cousins that were at her grandmother, my mom, Collene Spencer’s house, and turn them around, or move them to the lowest spot, elevating her picture to the higher spot on the display, saying, “I’m Grandma’s favorite!!” She wasn’t being mean, but rather was teasing. A big smile on her face every time. We all laughed at her antics. When Jessi and her family would be visiting my mom and dad, Al Spencer, someone would tell her to ask Grandma something, and she would look right at her grandma and say, “Who’s Grandma?” My mom would laugh and laugh, as would everyone else. Jessi was always so quick witted and so random that you just never knew what to expect from her.

Jessi was known for having “name calling” sessions with her siblings. I’m sure that sounds terrible, but this was a competition…and they all participated, trying mot to laugh the whole time. They might call each other dummy. Her sister, Kellie Hadlock often calls Jessi…Jeffica McHaddlo, Jeffrey, Jeff, or just Re. Jessi in turn calls Kellie…Pie, and on National Pie Day, always wishes her youngest sister, “Happy Pie Day!!” Jessi and her sister, Lindsay Moore, both celebrate their “unbirthdays,” and idea they got from Alice in Wonderland. I guess you might as well have more than one birthday in a year…or maybe several, since every day that isn’t your birthday, is by definition, your unbirthday!! You never knew what Jessi might do. She has even been known to dance like a rag doll while riding in the car.

While Jessi, being the oldest, often had the upper hand in the teasing sessions, once in a while they got her back. Her family took her to a local Mexican restaurant called Guadalajara for her birthday. When the family had the waiters sing “Happy Birthday” to Jessi, they crowned her with a sombrero and sang. Kellie tells me that is the only time she has ever seen her big sister embarrassed. I guess that once in a while, even the funniest among us can be “had!!” Hahahahahaha!! Today is Jessi’s real birthday. Happy birthday Jessi!! Pretend I crowned you with a sombrero!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, Nick Olsen, who joined our family, when he married my grand-niece, Siara Harman, is truly right where he should be. I think he was destined to be a husband and father, and now, with the recent birth of his sweet Alec Todd Olsen…Nick and Siara are parents. Nick is a wonderful daddy to little Alec, and can often be seen holding him, and the picture is beautiful. Alec loves his daddy so much, even at this early stage in his life. Both Alec and Siara feel very blessed to have Nick in their lives, and he feels blessed to have them in his.

Nick is a quiet man. That’s ok, because his face shows his feelings very well. When Nick looks at Siara, you can see how much he loves his beautiful bride. And when Nick looks at Alec, you can see the great love he has for him and the joy he feels from being a daddy. Not every man has such an expressive face, but Nick certainly does. Or maybe, a lot of men mask their faces, so you can’t see how they feel. I think that it’s very sweet that Nick expresses his feelings like that. I think Siara likes it too.

Nick and Siara make such a cute couple. He is very tall, and she is very short. I think they both knew from the day they met, that they would be together for the rest of their lives. Nick is the type of man who will always be there for his family. He will protect them, provide for them, and love them for all time. It is written all over his face. Siara and Alec are very blessed to have him.

Nick is a Seattle Seahawks fan, while Siara is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Since they are both very into football, I suppose that could get to be a battle of the rivals, although I don’t think these two teams are arch rivals. It makes me wonder if little Alec will follow his daddy’s team or his mommy’s team. I suppose he will root for both for a while, because it is my guess that he will love to watch the games as much as his parents do. For Nick, I’m sure this will become another father/son bonding moment, and that is very cool. Nick’s future is bright indeed. Today is Nick’s birthday. Happy birthday Nick!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s that time of year again, and Thanksgiving Day has arrived. The day will begin with much cooking, table setting, and other preparation. All too often we get so caught up in the preparation for the main meal of the day, and prepare for the gathering together of family and friends, that we forget the real purpose of the day…giving thanks for all we have been given.

Over the past year, some health issues have presented themselves, not only in our family, with my husband, Bob; but with my son-in-law, Kevin’s mother, Becky Skelton too. Both of them had heart issues, and now both of them are well again. You can’t emphasize too much, the importance of good health. Never is that importance made more clear, than when things happen that threaten that good health. The concerns we have all felt, each of us watching as another of our loved ones has worried over their mom or dad, husband or wife, brother or sister, were almost overwhelming. Now, that all the tests, the surgery, the procedure, and the recovery are behind us, we feel only thankfulness.

Our daughter, Corrie has been working hard in nursing school, and doing very well. She has been so blessed with great grades, and a wonderful nursing school experience. I have watched her blossom throughout this process, and it warms my heart to see such an amazing transformation in her. She and Kevin have also been blessed with a granddaughter, who is their son, Chris and fiancée, Karen’s daughter. Their son Josh is very busy with two jobs, while waiting for the next college class that he needs to become an EMT. Eventually he will be going into firefighting.

Bob and I have been thankful to have been able to travel to visit our daughter Amy Royce and her family, and spend two weeks with them, including Independence Day, which was a new thing for us, since we have spent Independence Day in the Black Hills for many years. Spending quality time with Amy; Travis; Shai and her boyfriend, Jordan; and Caalab, and his girlfriend, Chloe, was a special time. Any amount of time spent with family is something to be thankful for. As our children, grandchildren, and now great granddaughter grow and become more busy, time is something that is often in short supply, and definitely a blessing.

Everyone has different reasons to be thankful all year long, but at this time of year, we tend to reflect on the many blessings we have been given all year…some are extra special, and others bring deep emotion, because we know what we might have lost. This Thanksgiving Day, I realize just how much I have to be thankful for, and for all of it, I thank God, the Father of Lights, from whom all good gifts come. I hope everyone has as much to be thankful for as I have this year. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

I was talking with my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg yesterday, and she mentioned that our niece, Machelle Moore had only had 6 times in her life that Thanksgiving had fallen on her birthday. Having a late November birthday, one might expect to have a Thanksgiving birthday more often, but because her birthday was very late in the month, that is just not the case.

Thinking back on Machelle’s life, I recall that she was born three days after Thanksgiving in 1976. Bob and I had taken our girls to visit his aunt and uncle in Kennebec, South Dakota, and the weather had turned bad. I don’t recall if we had to spend an extra day or not, but I do remember that Machelle’s mom, Debbie Cook went into labor and after about 36 hours of labor, had to have a Caesarean Section for Machelle to be delivered. It was a bit scary, but in the end, we went home to meet our new little niece. She was born 6 months after my Amy and 18 months after my Corrie, so the girls were always good friends.

Machelle has changed so much over the years. Not only has she grown tall like her dad, LJ Cook, but she has grown sweeter every year. Machelle has a kind heart. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love her very much. She is a wife to her best friend, Steve Moore. They love each other so much, and are very well suited to each other. They both love to go rock hunting, and often come back with great pieces of obsidian that Steve turns into Native American tools that are beautiful…and the real shock is that Steve isn’t Native American. It’s a cool passion that Machelle and her husband share.

Machelle is also mom to two boys, Weston and Easton, who are almost grown men now. Weston has graduated from high school, and Easton is in high school. As the boys have grown, Machelle feels a little bit sad, because she knows that soon they will be out on their own and she will be an empty nester, like so many others who have gone before her into that new identity. For some it is difficult and for others it is easy…or at least not as hard as for others. I think Machelle will do fine, because she has a wonderful marriage. She and Steve share so many interests, including camping, rock hunting, and the company of good friends and family. Yes, I know that Machelle and Steve will have a long wonderful life together, and before she knows it, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. I’m sure she is not in a huge hurry to get there, but it is a nice dream of the future. Today is Machelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg has a list of things she likes that might make many people feel very tired, but Kelli is someone who is on the go a lot. In her own words, Kelli likes “Music, traveling, fitness, animals, and the outdoors. Fresh air, trees, blue skies, summer, and hiking.” Anyone who knows her, know that truer words were never spoken. Kelli likes to stay active, and doesn’t like to waste a moment of her free time. If there’s a concert nearby, Kelli and her husband, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg might jump in the pickup and head for wherever it is being held. They both really enjoy going to concerts.

If there isn’t a concert, Kelli and Barry might be found on Casper Mountain, cross country skiing in the winter, or hiking in the summer. Anyone who knows Kelli very well, knows that she prefers Summer over Winter…every time. And there are a lot of us who totally agree with her whole heartedly on that one. For Kelli, as for many of us, Winter brings with it, a little bit of…depression, for lack of a better word. It’s not that she is depressed, but that the weather is depressing. Because Kelli likes to hike, she feels sad when the winter months hit. For a hiker, cross country skiing really can’t compare to hiking. At least, that’s the way I feel about it.

Kelli loves animals, and her dog, Scout is her current “baby.” Scout can be a trial for Kelli, always wanting to be lazy, when she wants to be active. Nevertheless, he makes up for it with his goofy ways. There is a lot to be said for a dog making his masters laugh. Scout refuses to “adult,” as Kelli would say, so his goofiness is always inspiring laughter in his masters. Scout came to live with Kelli and Barry as a puppy, after their long time dog, Dakota passed away. Scout has lots of potential, but lets face it…right now Scout is no Dakota. I know that Kelli and Barry still miss Dakota very much.

Kelli and Barry have a place out east of Casper, Wyoming. It’s home, but Kelli would love to have a couple of donkeys on it. They are one of her favorite animals. Still, she loves most animals. She has a real heart for them. She loves their antics, their cuddles, and yes, even their naughtiness. I hope that someday Kelli gets her donkeys. I think that would be very cool. Today is Kelli’s birthday Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My great grand-niece, Laila Spethman was a sweet little girl, who was a light in her parents’ lives. She was loved by her whole family. Her time on Earth was short…very short…just 18 days, but her impact on all those who loved her will continue. We all look forward to the day when we will see her again, along with all our other loved ones who have gone before us. In many way, we can rejoice for Laila, because she has been someplace and seen things that we cannot, Heaven and most importantly, God. How amazing for Laila, to know the Father and the Saviour. It is a time in our lives that we all look forward to. The time when we are truly home.

Still, for Laila, we feel sadness too. Not for her really, but for us. I wonder who she would have been had she stayed here. Would she have been bubbly and ever-changing, like her little sister, Aleesia, who has progressed from being a girly girl, to sometimes wanting to be a bit of a tomboy. I’m sure that has come from having three older brothers, and like all younger children, wanting to be just like the older siblings. I’m sure that Laila would have felt the same way about her brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac. For little girls, especially, their older brothers are their role models. Girls often base many of their ideas on what men should be like on their dads and brothers, and Laila would have had some great role models to base her ideas on, because she was loved.

We were all hoping Laila would get to come home with her parents, but that was not to be. Nevertheless, her memory will always be with us. Her sweet little face, so dainty and beautiful. Her beautiful eyes, looking at her family with love. She was so cuddly and loved being held by her family. Of course, there were a number of us who didn’t get to see her in this life, but we will always know her when we meet her again in Heaven. And then, we will get to know who she was and is. This life is so short, and while it seems like a long time, it is only a drop in the bucket of time, and then we will get to know Miss Laila Elizabeth Spethman. Happy birthday in Heaven Laila. We already love you even though we don’t know you well…yet.

Every year…like clockwork, parents dress their children up in costumes, and the annual tradition of children roaming the neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and asking for treats…with the threat of tricks, if the “blackmail” is not paid…begins. It’s Halloween, of course. These days, not as many children really understand how the whole thing is supposed to work. They just see it as a day to gather up as much candy as possible. I read somewhere that children consume, on average, 7,000 calories worth of candy…or the equivalent of almost 11 Burger King Whoppers, without cheese, and not the new meatless version, of course. It’s a good thing that most kids are very active, or that many calories could be bad. And that isn’t even considering the sugar high that the parents will have to deal with. Try putting that child to bed after all that, and you’ll find that it’s going to be a long night. The best you can hope for is that the day falls on a Friday, so they don’t have to get up for school the next day…not the case this year, unfortunately.

So, with all the negative aside, the costumes people come up with are usually very cute. I prefer the costumes that don’t focus on the gruesome and horrific, but there are always a few of those. This year, with all my grandchildren grown up, we will only have our little great granddaughter heading out to see what she can come home with. At just 17 months, she will most likely only be going a few places, and since she is so little, she isn’t as totally addicted to candy as she will most likely become in future years. Nevertheless, I’ve never seen her turn down a treat either.

I remember Halloweens past, when my grandchildren were little. They couldn’t wait to get out there, and they really preferred if their parents didn’t stand around and talk. After all, they had rounds to make, and it wasn’t getting any earlier. My grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen, always had the cutest costumes. I suppose I might be a bit biased, but I don’t care. I’m sure every parent and every grandparent feels the same way about their own little ones. It’s our prerogative!! Our little ones never had any tricks up their sleeves, that I knew of, but I do recall the year when I, as a little kid, was handed a little bar of soap, by my mother, Collene Spencer. It was my “trick” and I was only asked by one person, what trick I had up my sleeve. When I showed him the soap, he let out a great big guffaw!! He had no idea that I would even know what he meant. He said that it made his whole day!! Happy Halloween everyone!! Be safe out there!!

Becoming parents…it’s one of the greatest events in a person’s life. October 28, 2019, was that day for my grand-niece, Siara Olsen and her husband, Nick, as they welcomed their son, Alec Todd Olsen into the world. Alec, who arrived at 9:17am, weighed in at 8 pounds 1 ounce, and he was 20 inches long. He is a handsome little boy, who, after making his presence known quite vocally at first, settled down to nap, because he had had a completely exhausting day. After all, being born is a lot of work!!

Alec was born on the exact day that he was due, without being induced. I wondered just how often that happens, so I looked into it. Only 4.3% of babies arrive uninduced on their due date. Wow!! That make this little boy pretty unusual. For mom’s who go beyond their due date, that post-due date wait can be grueling. Friends and family start to ask when you are “going to have” that baby, like you have a say. If a baby comes too early, its worrisome, but the closer you get to the due date, the more excited and impatient the parents, and everyone else too, get. Nevertheless, the due date hasn’t passed yet, so they wait patiently. Not so when the due date passes without the birth. That’s when the real waiting begins…the waiting that feels like an eternity. I think Alec, being the sweetie he is, wanted to save his parents from that post-due date wait. Good job Alec!!

It is so hard to believe that these two “kids” are not kids anymore, but rather they have a child. It is something they have both looked forward to for a long time, and something that we have all been very excited about too. These two “kids” made such a beautiful baby boy, and he is a true miracle from God. Siara, at 4 foot 9 inches, always wanted to be taller. I remember telling her that she would need to get some heels for that. I think that her son will not have such a problem. At 8 pounds 1 ounce, and 20 inches long, I think he as a pretty good start, and since Nick is 6 foot 4 inches tall, I think Alec has a good chance to be tall. Welcome to the world, Alec Todd Olsen. We are so happy you are here.

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