Kids

When a person travels for business, they find that they really understand the importance of home. My niece, Susan Griffith is one of the many people who travel as part of their job. Susan works for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming, as a Client Development Executive, basically she is a health insurance agent. She travels to Cheyenne about twice a year around the time people have to update their insurance…open enrollment. She has to go for training. She has to travel around the Bighorn Basin for getting different companies signed up for Blue Cross. Because Susan has to travel for work, she knows how it feels to have to spend that time away from family. Everyone I have talked to about traveling for work has told me that they had little tricks to make a hotel room feel more like home. I don’t know if Susan has a way that helps her or not, but I do know that her home and her family are the most important things in her life. Nevertheless, travel time aside, Susan loves her job!!

Susan and her husband, Josh Griffith love to go camping in the mountains. They, like other members of her family, would live in the mountains, if it weren’t for jobs or school for their girls, Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Griffith. They go camping every chance they get. They love to hike, and this year, they hiked Heart Mountain, which is relatively near their home in Powell, Wyoming. Heart Mountain gained world fame in World War II, when it was used as a concentration camp to hold Japanese-American citizen, after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many people weren’t sure where Japanese-American loyalties lay, so the didn’t take a chance, and moved the people to camps. It was a sad, but understandable time. Susan’s family also hiked to Copper Lake in the Beartooth Mountains, but they don’t think they will try that one again, because in Susan’s own words, “It was crazy hard!!” This past year, they did something a little different too. San Diego can’t exactly be considered camping in the mountains. Nevertheless, they had a great time. They went to Sea World, and all the other great attractions of the area, including the ocean.

With all her traveling nearby, and far away, Susan somehow still finds time to grow a garden. This year, she had a good crop of onions and asparagus…just to name a couple. When she isn’t traveling or camping/hiking, Susan likes to be home. She enjoys nesting, and being with her family. In all, Susan lives a well rounded life, and finds herself very happy in it. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

There are certain people who fit in your family from the moment they join it. My niece, Dustie Masterson, who married my nephew Rob Masterson on January 18, 2003 is one of those people. Rob and Dustie met when he was in the Army, and was in Louisiana. It didn’t take them very long to realize that they were in love and that they were perfect for each other. When they returned to Casper, Wyoming where Rob’s family all live, the family liked Dustie immediately. She was sweet, helpful, kind, and most of all, she was very much in love with and loyal to Rob. That goes a long way toward endearing a person to their spouse’s family.

Dustie and Rob’s favorite place to be was always together. It didn’t really matter where. That is such an interesting thought now, years later, when the two of them work together in different areas of the local Sam’s Club. Not everyone has the ability or the opportunity to work at the same place as their spouse, but Dustie and Rob even got hired at the same time. Now, they get to work together sometimes, and on opposite shifts at other times, but either way, they work at the same place, and are part of the same team. They are both supervisors in their areas now, and the people they work with count on them to keep things running smoothly.

Dustie and Rob have three children together, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna, as well as Rob’s daughter from his first marriage, Christina. Their lives are so full of joy and happiness. They love their family, and their extended family. They are always willing to help others. Dustie stepped in during the years that we took care of our parents, and even though they were her grandparents by marriage, she loved them like they were her own. She ran errands for us, helped out with meals and care, and visited, which we all know is vital when it comes to helping people feel good about life. Dustie is such a pleasant person too. She is light-hearted and fun, and she doesn’t mind being a little bit silly sometimes. So, seriously, what’s better than that…let’s face it, nothing. That’s what I really like about Dustie. Her little bit sweet, little bit silly personality. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Tucker Schulenberg has been through a number of big changes over the past year, not the least of which is a name change. This past summer found Tucker’s dream coming true, when his dad, Ron Schulenberg officially adopted him. It is something Tucker had wanted almost since the day his mom, Rachel Schulenberg married his new dad. They are best buddies. Tucker has looked up to Ron for years now, and carrying his name is the ultimate honor for both of them. We are all very happy for them all, because we have all wanted this as well. Now, Ron and Tucker work together and play together. Ron is a great role model for Tucker, and he is very, very proud of his son.

Tucker is in his first year of middle school now, and with that change has come some other changes…some his mother is almost dreading. The biggest “dread” for Rachel is girls!! Nevertheless, try as she might to avoid it, Tucker is a bit of a chick magnet. So far this year, Tucker has had four girlfriends. I guess that his love of girls is definitely in the early stages…nothing serious for Rachel to worry about. Tucker is a complex kind of guy, and that might be what attracts him to the girls. He is well liked at school, for several reasons. Tucker likes to share the wealth, so to speak. He shares gum…by the 6 pound bags…with the kids at school. It’s not just the gum that makes the kids all like him, however. Tucker hates bullying, and will not tolerate it, against himself or others. He stops it in its tracks. While Tucker isn’t one to pick a fight, he will fight it it’s necessary to stop bullying. That is something that makes us all very proud.

Tucker likes LEGOs, YouTube, comics, the outdoors, shooting targets, and his dog. His varied interests, and his friendly nature, make him fit in everywhere. While his new interests make all the kids at school like him, Tucker still loves his daddy the best. They will always be best friends. Tucker is growing up fast, and I find myself amazed at how big he has grown. Where have all the years gone. It seems like just yesterday that Tucker was the almost 3 year old son of my brother-in-law’s new wife, but that was 9 years ago. Today is Tucker’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Reagan Parmely is the eldest child of my nephew, Eric Parmely and his wife, Ashley. She is a sweet little mommy’s helper, who loves being the big sister to her siblings, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. Reagan is very much her momma’s girl. She loves horses, goats, chickens, rabbits, dogs, and cats. And every other animal you might think of. She even likes snakes…which is where I have to draw the line. Of course, Reagan is smart about snakes. She makes sure they are ok to pick up, before she touches them.

A great big 1st grader this year, I find myself thinking that Reagan is growing up way too fast. She is starting to get her own sense of style. This year, she decided that she wanted a shorter hair style, and the resulting pixie cut is darling. Reagan wanted an easy going, out of the way style and she is very happy with the result. Of course, her mom wanted to cry a bit, but it will grow back…if Reagan ever wants it long again. Either way, she is a cutie and that’s all that matters.

Reagan, Hattie, and their mom love to go riding together, and I guess their daddy must be the babysitter for the younger kids, or maybe Grandma and Grandpa. Those rides on the horses give the three of them a little girl-time. That’s always nice for the older children to have some time with their parents, one-on-one so to speak. Reagan is growing into such a great girl. She is smart and helpful. She love to teach her younger siblings things and in general hang out with her best little friends. That learn about the farm animals, and about bringing baby animals into the world. And then how to care for them when they are hear. And all that is when she is not is school, which she loves too. I think Reagan is going to go far in her life. She has so much potential. Today is Reagan’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Ashley Parmely married my nephew, Eric Parmely on July 23, 2011. Since then, their happy family has grown to include four children, daughters, Reagan and Hattie were followed by son, Bowen, and most recently, daughter Maeve. These days, having four children is considered a large family, and many people would consider Ashley to be a supermom based solely of the number of children she has. I agree that with larger families, mom’s are supermoms, but coming from a family of five children, I don’t necessarily consider Eric and Ashley’s family to be overly large, and it is not the size of the family that makes me think of Ashley as a supermom.

There are, however, several other things that I think do qualify for supermom status. In years gone by, when people lived on homesteads, mothers juggled things that most of us don’t these days. These days, many mothers work outside the home, and their children spend their days in a daycare facility. Ashley, on the other hand, is stay at home mom, and while that isn’t unheard of either, it is a bit more unusual these days.

That still isn’t what makes me consider Ashley to be a modern day supermom, however. Eric and Ashley have lived in the country almost since they got married. Recently they bought a bigger place, because they wanted to be able to rise more animals. Eric works in the oilfield, and that leaves Ashley and the children they work of taking care of the animals. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t do it alone, because when Eric is home, he works very hard too, but Ashley loves her animals and love spending time with them. And this is where her supermom status comes in. It doesn’t matter if her youngest is too little to leave in the house, or to walk alongside “mommy” either, because Ashley has a backpack. The work must go on, and Ashley loves to do it anyway.

The day might find Ashley, baby on her back, moving hay, feeding animals, or mucking stalls. She has done this with all four babies, so she is a expert at working with the extra weight attached. She gives “baby weight” a whole new meaning. One might think that Ashley would be worn out and tired, and I suppose that at the end of the day, she is, but it never causes her to look tired or grouchy. Instead, all these babies…human and animal…put a smile on the supermom’s face, everyday. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Ryan Hadlock is very much a family man. He and his wife, Chelsea have a son, Ethan, and a daughter, Aurora. Ethan is in midget football right now, and Ryan never misses a game. Ryan also attends all the kid’s school performances and activities. Recently, he took Aurora on a Daddy/Daughter Date. He has also attended the Donuts with Dad event, and all their other activities too. Ryan is a great husband to his wife, Chelsea, and they are very happy together. They just celebrated their 11th anniversary in April, and they are still going strong.

Ryan is a helpful guy. Not only with his own family, but with his parents, sisters, and other family members as well. As his parents, Allyn and Chris Hadlock have been working on the new home they are building, Ryan has been there to help them whenever he could. Ryan helped his parents insulate the upstairs in the new house, and he helps his dad in the garage a lot. He helps his brother-in-law, Jason Sawdon anytime he needs it. When his youngest sister, Kellie Hadlock bought her first house, Ryan was quick to help her move, paint, and fix things in her house. He winterized the sprinklers at his house, his parents’, and Kellie’s house too.

He loves his nieces. Being an uncle was something he was really looking forward to and he hasn’t disappointed in that department. Nieces, Adelaide Sawdon and Mackenzie Moore love him so much. He is so fun, and dotes on the little girls. He loves to tease and laugh, but he also has a calm demeanor that adds great value to his whole family. My sister, Allyn tells me just how much fun it has been to see him as a dad and an uncle. They are two roles that he has really excelled in.

He has a calm demeanor that adds great value to their family, but never mistake his “calm demeanor” for a lack of a sense of humor, because you will definitely be caught off guard. Ryan is a great son and brother too. He has helped his sister Kellie a lot in her new house. Ryan and brother-in-law, Jason Sawdon helped her move. Ryan loaned Kellie his lawn mower, gave her a weed eater, and made sure her bed was put together. I’d say Kellie has been very blessed in the brother/brother-in-law department. The whole family has been very blessed with Ryan. Today is Ryan’s birthday. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Riley Birky is a man who has a big heart. He truly cares about the people around him, and while he is not always able to do anything to fix the problems his friends might have, that certainly doesn’t keep him from having a deep desire to help if he can. Sometimes, I think that carrying around the…almost burden of having such a big heart can be hard on the guy who has said big heart. When they are unable to change the outcome they tend to carry the weight of it, as if it were their failure. It isn’t, of course, but it is how they tend to feel. Nevertheless, Riley has a good group of buddies, and they have good times together.

Riley has grown into a good man, who lives on his own now, and works to support himself. He is a responsible worker, who is well liked. He is working for a fencing company, as an installer. Riley has never been afraid of hard work, and has done a variety of heavy duty jobs in his lifetime. As an adult, he has proven himself to be capable and reliable. I think he will do well in whatever job he does or career he chooses.

Riley loves his mom, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg very much. She has been supportive of him all his life, and he has nothing but respect for her. Oh, they have their disagreements, but when it comes right down to it, his mom is his hero, as well as his biggest cheerleader. He knows that he can always count on her to be there for him…even if that means encouraging him do the right things. In reality, that is what most kids want to do anyway.

Riley has a dog that he loves very much. Nala is an American Bully Pitbull Terrier. Nala came to Riley as a puppy, but she is growing like a weed. She has a beautiful, soft brown coat that is very shiny. She loves Riley very much, and the feeling is mutual. Riley has always had a heart for dogs, and Nala is Riley’s baby girl. Their companionship makes both of them very happy. Today is Riley’s birthday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Steve Moore is such an outdoorsy guy. Every summer he and his wife, my niece, Machelle spend as much time in the Big Horn Mountains as they can. In times past, their boys, Weston and Easton, always went too, but now that they are older, that won’t happen as much. Easton still goes, but Weston works, so he often can’t come along. It is just a part of life. Easton will go less and less as time goes on too.

Part of camping involves gathering firewood, both for the camp, and for home. Steve and Machelle often camp with her parents, Debbie and LJ Cook. The guys always do a lot of wood cutting. Steve and a friend of his, did some trading this year, and Steve came away with a chain saw. He has been having a great time using that saw. I can understand that, because my husband, Bob Schulenberg always loved using his chain saw too. Boys and their toys, you know. Age doesn’t matter. Little boys have their toys, and when they grow up, big boys have their toys too. They are just different kinds of toys.

Normally, the wood haul is used at camp, with the leftovers taken over to Machelle’s parents’ house for their fireplace. Now though, at least since Machelle’s sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Josh Griffith, got them a firepit for Christmas last year, some of the wood goes to Steve and Machelle’s house too. Steve loves having camp wood handy! This past summer, they were able to get more wood, and it didn’t even seem like work with the chain saw. LJ figured they got him about 5½ cords this year…in addition to what they got for themselves. He should have plenty for this winter. It had only taken a few hours of one day, and then they had the rest of the weekend to hike around the mountains. They were even able to find new places to hike!

When Steve and Machelle hike, they like to look for great rocks, which reminds me of my own grandfather LJ said there used to be an old dump around there. It wasn’t a good hunt, some pretty rocks, but not much more. So, they headed back to camp with plans to go back someday soon.

Steve and Machelle may not have their boys on as many camping trips in the future, but they will do ok with that, because they are such soulmates. They have been since they met, and it is so obvious to anyone who knows them. These two are very much in love. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my daughter, Amy Royce and her family moved to Washington state a few years ago, I began to take an interest in the Pacific Northwest. I think mostly it was so that I could tell her about things to go see. I don’t know how interested a non-tourist is about those things, but I have certainly found that I am.

Like anyplace where there is shipping, there is likely to be shipwrecks. The Great Lakes, with their horrible weather conditions in the winter months, are littered with them. The waters of the Pacific Northwest have somehow always seemed rather benign to me, but as I learned about an area called The Graveyard of the Pacific, it occurred to me that maybe they are anything but benign. The Graveyard of the Pacific is a somewhat loosely defined stretch of the Pacific Northwest coast stretching from around Tillamook Bay on the Oregon Coast, running northward past the treacherous Columbia Bar and Juan de Fuca Strait, and up the rocky western coast of Vancouver Island to Cape Scott. Unpredictable weather conditions, fog and coastal characteristics such as shifting sandbars, tidal rips and rocky reefs and shorelines which are common to the area, have claimed more than 2,000 shipwrecks in this area. That makes the area, in my mind anyway, practically cluttered with debris.

In a way, it makes perfect sense, given the fact that many of our nation’s storms enter the continental United States from that area…excluding the tropical hurricanes, of course. With the unpredictable and frequently heavy weather and a rocky coastline, especially along Vancouver Island and its northwestern tip at Cape Scott, have endangered and wrecked thousands of marine vessels since European exploration of the area began in the 18th century. The area has claimed more than 2000 vessels and 700 lives near the Columbia Bar alone, and one book about shipwrecks lists 484 wrecks at the south and west sides of Vancouver Island. Combinations of fog, wind, storm, current and waves have crashed hundreds of ships in the region by the middle of the twentieth century, including famous wrecks in regional history.

The area is home to some famous and dangerous landmarks…Columbia Bar, a giant sandbar at the mouth of the Columbia River; Cape Flattery Reefs and rocks lining the west coast of Vancouver Island; and the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. The shipwreck charts of the area are studded with wreck sites. There have been a number of salvage attempts, but they are often unsuccessful or of limited success, and physical wreckage is usually minimal anyway due to the age of many wrecks. The weather is very unpredictable and the sea conditions harsh. This brings extensive damage to the vessels at the time they were wrecked.

The term, The Graveyard of the Pacific is believed to have originated from the earliest days of the maritime fur trade, not only as increasing numbers of traders’ ships began to be wrecked, but also because of the ongoing state of incipient warfare in the area between Russia, Spain, Great Britain, and native tribal peoples, making it one of the most dangerous and deadly regions to trade in the Pacific for political as well as climatic reasons. Although major wrecks have declined since the 1920s, several lives are still lost annually. The Graveyard of the Pacific remains a dangerous area, but with modern science, storms aren’t as unpredictable, so watching weather reports can prevent many dangerous situations.

I think most people have played with a Slinky at one point or another in their lives. The Slinky is a pre-compressed helical spring toy invented by Richard James in the early 1940s. It is able to perform a number of tricks, including travelling down a flight of steps end-over-end as it stretches and re-forms itself with the aid of gravity and its own momentum, or appear to levitate for a period of time after it has been dropped. Kids have been known to spend hours playing with the simple spring, which rather defies the imagination in itself. Most kids tire easily of toys, so the long lasting play with a slinky was surprising. Still, as with all such toys, the Slinky eventually lost its draw, and few people play with it now.

The strangest thing about the Slinky is that it wasn’t invented to be a toy at all. In 1943, a naval mechanical engineer named Richard James, who was stationed at the William Cramp and Sons shipyards in Philadelphia, was developing springs that could support and stabilize sensitive instruments aboard ships in rough seas. As he worked, James accidentally knocked one of the springs from a shelf, and watched as the spring “stepped” in a series of arcs to a stack of books, to a tabletop, and to the floor, where it re-coiled itself and stood upright. I’m sure the sight was funny, mostly because it was so unexpected. As his wife Betty later recalled, “He came home and said, ‘I think if I got the right property of steel and the right tension; I could make it walk.'” As with any inventor, I’m sure that his inventor’s mind was already clicking. James began to experiment with different types of steel wire over the next year, and finally found a spring that would walk. I’m sure he was like “a kid in a candy store” with each fine-tuning of the toy. Betty was skeptical at first, but changed her mind after the toy was fine-tuned and neighborhood children expressed an excited interest in it. She dubbed the toy Slinky, by which she meant “sleek and graceful,” after finding the word in a dictionary, Betty decided that this word exactly described the sound of a metal spring expanding and collapsing.

The couple formed James Spring and Wire Company, which was later renamed James Industries, using just a $500 loan. They had 400 Slinky units made by a local machine shop, hand-wrapped each in yellow paper, and priced them at $1 a piece. Each was 2½ inches tall, and included 98 coils of high-grade blue-black Swedish steel. At first, the James couple had difficulty selling Slinky to toy stores but, then in November 1945, they were granted permission to set up an inclined plane in the toy section of Gimbels department store in Philadelphia to demonstrate the toy. Finally, the Slinky was a hit, and the first 400 units were sold within ninety minutes. In 1946, Slinky was introduced at the American Toy Fair. The Slinky was without doubt a huge success, yet in it’s humble beginnings, it was an accident.

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