Kids

My nephew, Josh Griffith is a hard working man, who loves his family, and would do anything for them. He is constantly doing things to improve their home,and he is always able to fix the things that break. Their house is all electric, but they are planning to change it to a gas furnace this year. For now, the family needs 4 trailer loads of wood a year to heat the home without using the electric heat. Josh spend a lot of his free time chopping and splitting the wood so that the family can stay warm all winter. My niece and his wife, Susan helps too, but chopping wood is a tough job for most women, and so Josh does most of it by himself. Josh also spends a good deal of his time keeping the family from being snowed in. He plows snow almost constantly…and does it all without complaint…because he is the provider, and it’s for his family.

Josh has spent a lot of time teaching his girls to ride horses. Susan didn’t grow up around horses, and so she wasn’t too sure about riding horses.Josh worked with her, and before long, Susan has a good time with it. Their daughters, Jala and Kaytlyn have grown up around horses, and so they will be naturals at it. Josh and Jala go riding quite a bit and have even hunted together. Susan says that Josh is definitely the more hands on parent. I suppose that is because Susan has always had such a soft heart. She parents in a different way. Nevertheless, Josh taught Jala to drive more than Susan did because she said, “I was so scared.” It can be scary to teach a child to drive. It seems that usually one of the other parent has the right temperament for it, and the other doesn’t. Clearly, Josh will be the driving instructor for their girls.

Josh does work very hard, but work is not the only thing we do for our families. There is the all important quality time as a family too. This year, Josh and Susan took the girls to the Billings Fair, in Billings Montana. Living in a small town like Powell, the girls don’t usually have a chance to ride on some of the cool rides that they have in bigger cities. This year, the big deal was the Black Out. It is a totally crazy ride, that I would personally never ride. Susan said that all the rides at the Billings fair were so nice, and just seemed safer. Susan doesn’t have to worry about the girls being on the rides, because Josh always rides rides with the girls. Susan stands by holding everyone’s things…sounds like the place I would want to be too. Thankfully for Susan, Josh takes care of that for her…and she is so grateful for that and everything else Josh does for them. Today Is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Adelaide Sawdon is her mother in just about every way. She looks a lot like her mother, my niece, Jessi Sawdon, and she definitely has a lot of Jessi’s personality. She is learning to be a little bit sassy, which is quite cute, since she usually has a very good sense of humor and is a well behaved little girl, who is quite loving. Nevertheless, like her mommy, Adelaide is quick to learn things, and it doesn’t take her very long to learn things like no-no, I’m the mommy and you are the kid, and other such boss phrases. Then she proceeds to use them on her parents. Of course, it doesn’t get her any further that the laughing of her parents, but I guess that is one way not to be in trouble. I think her parents would be hard pressed to be angry at Miss Adelaide very much, because she is just their favorite person on Earth, and I can’t blame them for that, because Adelaide can wrap you around her little finger pretty quickly,and she doesn’t even have to try hard to do it.

Of course, in Adelaide’s world, other than her parents, there is simply nobody that can compare to her Aunty Kellie Hadlock. I can understand that, because Kellie is very sweet, and lots of fun, but it still surprises Kellie to think that this sweet little niece has chosen her to be the favorite, but Adelaide is, nevertheless, a girl after Kellie’s heart. While Kellie is singing at church, Adelaide can hardly wait for her to come off the stage, so she can climb up on her lap and just enjoy her company. They love to send time together…laughing and giggling, and Adelaide would have Kellie live with her and her parents if she could. They are just that close.

Adelaide take her personality traits from both her mom, Jessi Sawdon, and her dad, Jason Sawdon, and that makes her a very special girl. Adelaide’s mommy and daddy are two fun loving people, who are very social, and they are passing that on to Adelaide too, although she isn’t always too quick to warm up to people she doesn’t know well. No matter, that will come in time, as she gets to know our large family better. In the meantime, we just keep talking to her so she will get more familiar with us. we look forward to watching Adelaide grow and become the wonderful little girl that we all know she will be. Today is Adelaide’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Adelaide!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Steve Spethman has always been the kind of man who takes the matter of protecting his family very seriously…so seriously, in fact that sometimes he has found himself in some…interesting situations. One time after having a birthday party for one of their children, the family had gone to bed. All was quiet in the house and everyone was sleeping peacefully, when suddenly, Steve felt a presence in their bedroom. Steve bolted out of the bed and came up punching. Now, I know what you are thinking…that he punched one of the children. Well, you couldn’t be further from the reality of what happened. As I said, Steve came up punching, but what he hit was…a helium filled Mylar balloon. That episode has been a laughing matter to Steve’s family since the night it happened. Some good deeds, you just never get to live down.

As I said, Steve’s family is very important to him, and protecting them is his top priority. A few years ago, while the family was sleeping, which is the main time that families need protecting, you know. As the family was sleeping, a very large explosion was heard outside their home. Steve jumped out of bed, and ran to the door. Everything in their neighborhood seemed fine, but there was an eerie glow in the sky. It almost seemed like a doomsday event. In reality, it was a transformer that blew in the middle of a power substation. Of course, the situation was quickly handled by the power company and the fire department, along with the police department to keep people at a safe distance. Nevertheless, had the situation been serious, Steve would have been there to protect his family and his neighbors. It’s simply the way Steve is. Always thinking of others before self.

Steve is an excellent marksman, and takes his family out to practice on a regular basis. He not only wants to be prepared to protect his family, but he is training his family to protect each other and themselves too. Steve is a great protector of his family, but he is also a realist, and he knows that he can’t always be right there beside them to protect them, so he prepares them, which is the next best thing. Steve and his wife, Jenny have three boys, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, and all of them can shoot. They are well prepared to handle whatever comes along, as is Jenny, and soon their daughter Aleesia will be too. Steve is a good man with a funny side to him that makes him a great guy. He is always making people laugh. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My aunt, Dixie Richards is the 8th child of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, and the middle of the younger three daughters. She is also a very giving person. She is always there whenever her help is needed. For many years she has taken care of her grandchildren, as well as the children of her siblings and their children. It has been a long run of children who can say that they got to spend quality time with Aunt Dixie. What a blessing that was for them, and how nice I was for their parents, who didn’t have to worry about who was watching their kids. They knew that their kids were entertained, loved, and cared for in the best possible way.

Aunt Dixie has lived in the country for as long as I can remember, but I suppose there might have been a time when she didn’t. She has always enjoyed the country life, complete with the farm animals that went with it. One of her farm animals came from my mom, Collene Spencer, who was given a baby chick that one of her grandkids had won at the fair. I could never figure out why they gave away live animals at the fair, because most people didn’t have their parents permission to bring these animals home, and often, the animals weren’t allowed in town. Nevertheless, my mom had big plans for her baby chic. She was going to raise it and have eggs. Little did she know that she had a rooster. Even when the chick started crowing, Mom denied the obvious, still hoping for eggs,but finally she had to face reality, and the chick, named Queenie, who should have been King, moved to aunt Dixie’s place. Mom never knew what happened to Queenie after that, but I think that deep down inside, she knew that Queenie had probably become chicken noodle soup or some other such thing, because he was older than most butchered chickens, and probably not suitable for a fryer. Nevertheless, Aunt Dixie would never have told her sister what happened to Queenie, because she was far too kind.

These days, Aunt Dixie is retired from babysitting, and her favorite thing to do is to spend time with her family. She and Uncle Jim love being close to their grandchildren, all of whom they are very proud. I’m sure they are looking forward to the day when they will have done great grandchildren too, because as every parent knows, grandchildren are the reward that comes from having children. I know that they will be wonderful at that too, just as they were with kids and grandkids they have now. Today is Aunt Dixie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!!we love you!!

My grand-nephew, Keifer Balcerzak has had a very busy year. The biggest change for him turned out to be a pretty small change…his baby daughter, Reece. Now of course, that was a big change, that came two months early in a very small package. In fact, Reece weighed in at just 3 pounds 11 ounces, and she was 17¾ inches long. That is a very small package indeed, but Reece has had a very big impact on her parents and her family. Her parents, Keifer and his wife Katie are now first time parents, and although there have been some moments when they couldn’t help but worry…whether their worries were unfounded or not…they are working their way through it. Having a baby that is two months premature is no easy task, and for those of us who have not been in that situation, it might be difficult to understand. The parents worry about letting the baby sleep, and they worry about not letting the baby sleep. They worry about germs and they worry about being viewed as overprotective. I think most new parents have multiple concerns to deal with when they have their first baby, but having a two month premature baby is really a very different thing. I think they have handled things quite well, and now that Reece is eight months old, they are feeling a little bit more relaxed about things. Reece is a happy, healthy, smiley baby, and I’m sure that helps calm their nerves too.

Recently, Keifer and Katie decided that they needed a bigger house for their growing family, so they started looking and then sold their old house and bought a new one. Now they are busy settling in to their beautiful new home, and we are all very excited for them. So I guess in this instance, the change was much bigger than the first change, but not in how big an impact it was on their lives. After all, none of the events of this past year will ever be as big as having their precious little Reece was. There is simply no topping that.

Buying and selling a house can be a busy and emotionally challenging time, but add to that working every day, and playing softball, and you have a pretty busy summer on your hands. That is where Keifer found himself this year, and things probably wont slow down for a while now. Settling into a house is no easy task, and just getting the closings done can be taxing, but Keifer and Katie are working through the tough stuff, and just enjoying life with their precious little girl. Today is Keifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Keifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Four years ago, my mom, Collene Spencer; my sister, Cheryl Masterson; and I took a trip back to Superior, Wisconsin, which is where Cheryl and I were born. While we were there, we were invited to Julie Carlson Soukup’s home for dinner. My mom knew the parents of these cousins who had welcomed us into their home. Cheryl and I did too, but it had been a number of years since we had seen them, and certainly, most of the cousins themselves were totally new to us. We watched as the Carlson kids brought their mother, Carol Carlson to the dinner. She had been dealing with Lewy Body Dementia, which is much like Alzheimer’s disease, but with the added issue of motor problems. These kids were so careful with her, and so determined that she be able to come for this visit. It brought tears to my eyes to see such love. Having been a caregiver for a long time, I knew how much work caregiving is, but they didn’t care what it took. She was their mom.

I didn’t know Carol well, but over the years, I watched as the Carlson family centered life around her. They took her so many places, and everywhere they went was an event, documented with lots of pictures. They were, of course, building their memories, knowing that the future was uncertain. They didn’t want to think about the day when Carol would no longer be with them. Right before we came for that visit, they had just had to move Carol into an nursing home, because she could no longer live on her own. Once again they showed her the greatest love they could have for her. They told her about her life, the life that had begun to slip away from her memory files. They needed to preserve it for her somehow.

When Carol passed away, on August 2nd, 2018, I began to recall the many beautiful things the Carlson family had done for her, but I realized that I didn’t really know much about her life. I wanted her children to share some of their favorite memories with me, because I knew that I wanted to write a tribute to their beautiful mother. They decided that they would send me a copy of the letter written by her oldest daughter, Laurie Carlson Stepp at the time they moved Carol into the nursing home. The children put together a scrap book filled with letters from her children and grandchildren, poems she had written, stories about her, such as her sayings…things they had heard her say all their lives, and pictures for her to see. It was their gift to their mother…her memories. They were giving them back to her.

I could never begin to write her memories with the beauty that her children and grandchildren did. Their memories of her were their gift of love to her, and that is beyond special. Nevertheless, I want to try to highlight some of the wonderful things Carol Schumacher Carlson did in her lifetime. The reality is that Carol almost didn’t exist. Laurie tells that story in her letter to her mom, “Your parents, Fred and Anna Schumacher already had one lovely daughter, Beatrice. When she was born, there were serious difficulties and the doctor told Fred that he would have to choose between his wife and the baby. He chose his wife……she chose the baby! They were both saved, but the doctor cautioned against having any more children. So that is why you Carol were a miracle baby.” The faith of her parents brought about Carol’s life, as well as nine siblings after her. The letter told of the help Carol gave her mom with her younger siblings, Leslie, Carl, Margaret, Gilbert, Delwin, Noreen, Bernice, Bob, and Dale.

Carol was a hard worker all her life. She worked at Hills Brothers Dairy, then for a lawyer in Billings Park babysitting their children, as a waitress at the Princess Sweet Shop, at Phoenix Hosiery, at Twin Ports Dairy…where she did office work, and at Kempenski Glass Company. All these were jobs, but her real life’s work was to be the mother of her children. Carol married Donald John Carlson on August 21, 1954, and they would be blessed with Donny, Laurie, Steve, Dave, Jim and twins – Julie and Jeanne. Carol also had bonus children, Bonnie and Randy, from Don’s first marriage. Carol was a housewife, and very good at her job. They grew a big garden, canned and froze enough food to keep the family in vegetables most of the year. Their dad would come home and there was always a flurry of activity and fun. Carol cooked, cleaned, sewed, and took care of her family, and still had time to help out others too. The children always came home from school to some kind of homemade snack, but more importantly…they came home to their mom, Carol, who welcomed them with open arms. Carol baked 5 loaves of bread every day and packed countless lunches. She sewed clothes for her family and often surprised them with something new that they needed after staying up all night working with her sewing machine until it was finished. She made clothes, quilts, tents, and just about anything that could be made with cloth for her family and for her grandchildren too. She made Indian costumes with real tepees, which have been used by most of her grandsons. She made a pair of sandals for Jon and Josh when they were starting to walk, Prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses, suits, pants, skirts, shirts, blouses…the family was always wearing something Carol had made. They have always felt so blessed to have Carol in their lives.

When I set out to write this tribute to Carol Schumacher Carlson, I wanted it to be about the amazing things she did for those she loved. Little did I know that it would be about the amazing children she raised, but in reality, it had to be about her amazing children, because that was what Carol was all about. Her whole life was spent giving of herself to those she loved and cared about. It was Carol, who along with her husband, Don raised these kids to be the loving, responsible adults that they have become. That, in itself, is a tribute to Carol. Her hard work for her family, was her gift to them, and they were her reward…her legacy.

My grand-niece, Aleesia Spethman is the youngest child of her parents, Jenny and Steve Spethman, and the youngest grandchild of my sister, Cheryl Masterson. Aleesia is a bubbly six year old girl who is getting ready to start first grade on September 4th. She is quite excited about the coming school year, but she is ok with it not starting for a couple of weeks. Aleesia has lots left to do with her summer, and then she will get back into the swing of things for school. She is a very active little girl and she loves to spend time with her parents, brothers, and her grandma.

After spending the day at home or doing things with her mom and brothers, Aleesia often spends time with her grandma in the evening. They love to hang out and watch movies or talk. It really isn’t about what they do, but rather that they do it together. They are just very close. On Thursday nights, my sister; her daughter, Liz; Aleesia; and I go out to dinner. It is our chance to do something fun…a girls’ night out sort of thing. Aleesia always feels special that she gets to hang out with the grown-ups. We always have a great time. Aleesia keeps us laughing, and we always have a great time.

As much as Aleesia loves to hang out with her grandma, she loves her family, and before long, she is ready to go home. Aleesia hates it when her grandma goes out of town, and she misses her very much, but she would really miss her family if she went along with grandma, so she doesn’t do that yet. Maybe someday. She is the kind of girl who really wants everyone she loves to be in the same place. In fact, if she had her way, she would probably have her grandma move in with her family, then she would never have to be separated from any of them. Aleesia is a little girl who has a deep love for her family. She might fight with her brothers, but they are her brothers, and she loves them. Of course, they love her too, and they treat her like she is a little princess. She really is, you know. She is the little princess that they had waited for a very long time. Today is Aleesia’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The other day, while reading an article about notable Native Americans, I came across a name that was familiar to me, but really didn’t seem like a Native American name. The name was Renville, the same name as my grand-nephew, James Renville. Immediately, I wondered if there might be a connection between Chief Gabriel Renville and my grand-nephew. The search didn’t take very long, before I had my answer. Gabriel Renville is my grand-nephew, James’ 1st cousin 7 times removed. I find that to be extremely amazing to think that James is related to an Indian chief. With that information, I wanted to fine out more abut this man.

Chief Gabriel Renville was a mixed-blood Santee Sioux—his father was half French and his mother half-Scottish. He was born in April of 1825 at Big Stone Lake, South Dakota. Renville was the treaty chief of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Santee tribes and signed the 1867 treaty, which established the boundaries of the Lake Traverse Reservation. One source called him a Champion of Excellence.

He was careful to protect his people as much as he could, and was also instrumental in saving the lives of many white captives. During the 1862 Uprising, Renville opposed Little Crow and was influential in keeping many of the Santee out of the war. He lost a large amount of property, including horses appropriated by the hostile savages, or destroyed in consequence of his position to their murderous course. Renville served as chief of scouts for General Sibley during the campaign against the Sioux in 1863.

Even though Chief Renville was an ally of the whites, it didn’t help him when he settled on the reservation. The government agent there, Moses N. Adams, considered him hostile. Renville was the leader of the “scout party” which was in conflict with the “good church” Indians. I’m sure that was common in those days. Renville preserved many of the traditional Santee customs of polygamy and dancing, and he ignored Christianity, but he was not opposed to economic progress and he and his followers became successful farmers on the reservation. However, the Sisseton agent favored the “church” Indians.

Renville and other leaders of the traditional Indians accused Adams of discriminating against them in the disposition of supplies and equipment. He said Adams favored the idle church-goers instead of encouraging them to work….a situation not unlike the current welfare system. Agent Adams considered Renville a detriment and removed the chief form the reservation executive board which Adams had organized to carry out his policies. It was a move that was considered extreme. In 1874 Renville was finally successful in securing a government investigation of the Adam’s activities. The outcome of the investigation was an official censure of Adams. Chief Renville continued to practice the old Santee customs, yet he encouraged the Indians to farm. This progressive influence was greatly missed after his death in August 1892.

When a child is born, you have no idea what the future will bring for them. You want the best for them, and you pray that all their dreams will come true, but you always wonder if their dream will be to do something that they are not suited for. As their parent, all you can do is let nature take it’s course. Then suddenly, they are almost all grown up, and there, standing in front of you is everything you ever dreamed they would become and more. That is exactly where my niece, Susan Griffith finds herself today as she looks at where her daughter, Jala Satterwhite is now.

Jala starts 10th grade next week, which is a huge shock to her mom. Jala has been an amazing athlete in school. As a freshman, she was in swimming, indoor track, and outdoor track. She actually lettered in track last year as a Freshman, which is pretty rare…and very impressive!! Her parents are hoping that one of her athletic skills will get her into the college of her dreams. Jala doesn’t know yet what college that will be or what she will study, but she has many skills that she could take and make into a great career. Her future is definitely bright!!

Of course, college is a little way off, but it will be here before she knows it. For now, Jala is looking forward to getting her driver’s license next week, and hopefully a job shortly after that, so she will be able to pay for the fuel. That last part might have been what her parents want, because as you know, gasoline is expensive, and we all know that once they can drive, kids like to be on the go as much as possible. Of course, that’s helpful for their parents too, because the kids can run errands and transport younger siblings too.

Jala is growing up to be such a great person…the pride and joy of her parents. She still enjoys riding her horse, Lilly, of course, and hunting with her step-dad, Josh Griffith. Hanging out with her friends is obviously a big thing for her as well. She is very social, and has great friends. Today is Jala’s birthday. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, Matthew Masterson is growing up so fast. According to his mom, Dustie Masterson, Matthew is a real man boy these days. He is very protective of his mom and his sisters. When his dad, my nephew, Rob Masterson had to go to South Carolina for training for work, it ended u being at the same time that Matthew was supposed to be staying in Fort Laramie, Wyoming with a friend of his. As Matthew thought about his mom and sisters at home without a man in the house, he just couldn’t stand it. And his mom secretly felt the same way. Matt called his mom and asked her to drive to Fort Laramie and pick him up. The visit with his friend would have to be another time. So right after she dropped Rob at the airport, she made the drive back up to pick him up. Matt stuck to his mom and sisters like glue, even going outside with his mom when she went out to smoke. When his dad is not home, Matt considers himself the family protector. He is learning to shoot and to be safe with guns, so he can keep his family safe.

Matt is turning 13, and going into 7th grade this year. It’s hard to believe he is getting so grown up. Matt is totally into online gaming with his friends from school. He really likes Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Siege 6 and Fortnight. Now, if only he can remember not to “team kill” and get banned for another week. I guess it’s easy to get carried away sometimes. Nevertheless, I’m sure that it won’t take him too long to become a master at both games. Gaming if great, but Matt likes to cook too, and when given the choice between cooking with his mom and gaming…well cooking is the only thing that Matt will immediately flip off the Xbox for.

Matt’s family recently moved into a new home, and now he has his own room, which he really loves. One surprising thing came about with having his own room. Suddenly Matt is meticulous about keeping his room clean. Now that, for most boys is a amazing thing, of course, it all gets back to normal for boys when you hear that along with having his room clean, he also works very hard to keep it girl free!! I guess it’s one thing to be protective of his sisters, but totally another to share his space with them. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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