Kids

My niece, Ashley Parmely, who joined our family when she married my husband’s nephew, Eric Parmely in 2011, is a girl of many talents, and amazing patience. When Eric first brought her to meet us, we liked her instantly, and then as we watched their pictures on Facebook, we could see that Ashley was raised in the country with horses. I thought that was cool, but that was really the tip of The Ashley Iceberg. Ashley loves all things country living. She loves all the animals, from chickens to ducks, from goats to horses, and of course, you have to throw in cats and dogs, but lots of people love animals. Ashley takes that one step further, in that she works hard to help her animals have babies, because that is a great way to grow your farm…and after all, babies are great, and according to Ashley, it doesn’t matter if they are human or animal. Yes, all babies are great, and Ashley loves each and every one of them.

And speaking of babies, Eric and Ashley have three of their own…daughters, Reagan and Hattie, and son, Bowen. If Ashley’s life wasn’t full before, putting three children in the mix has filled her home with love and laughter. Ashley is such a great mom. She is patient and loving with the kids, and they are well behaved little sweethearts, who have great imaginations, and who aren’t afraid of hard work…even if it’s cleaning up after the animals. These kids will be capable country kids who share their parents’ love of animals and don’t mind the work that goes along with it. When children are raised around animals, they naturally develop a love for them…they are like family. Ashley is passing on the things she grew up with, and the family, including her husband, Eric, are thriving on it. Some people just seem to love country living, and for Ashley, it is just the tip of the iceberg. Nevertheless, with all the love in her home, I’m surprised the iceberg isn’t melting, but there’s still more to it.

Sometimes, I have to wonder if Ashley’s life is largely chaos, and I’m sure that sometimes it really is, but Ashley is such a patient person, and somehow, I think she thrives on the chaos around her. It’s almost like having so many babies is like having a house full of love…even if only three of the babies are human. As I said, for Ashley, babies are babies. And Ashley, like an iceberg, is not just what you see on the outside, but is rather a deep person with many talents, that she is sharing with her family, and what a blessing that is. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes, changes occur when we least expect them. That is was happened with my daughter, Corrie Petersen, who found herself in a job that really held no future for her, even after she gave them almost 24 years of her life. Everyone wants to know that they are going to have a chance be promoted and move up in the company, but that was not to be the case, so after listening to the wisdom of God, Corrie made a bold move and went back to school. Corrie has been a caregiver, along with the rest of our family since 2005 when her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer got sick. Over the following ten years she was very active in the caregiving process, first with my dad, then my mom, and then her Schulenberg grandparents, and now she cares for her husband, Kevin. I don’t know how we could have managed with out Corrie and others in the family who, just like her, stepped up to pitch in, when we found out that caregiving takes a village.

When it came to Corrie that if she wanted to move up in a job, she needed a change, she naturally chose nursing, and began a journey that would bring about many changes and take her to levels of confidence she didn’t know she possessed. She went back to school, after 23 years, and conquered not only the classes, but her own uneasiness about taking them. I am happy to report that she is having great success in her studies. Corrie also took the CNA class at Shepherd of the Valley Care Center, knowing that when she started nursing school, she would no longer be able to keep the job she had, because the nursing program is held during the day. She passed the CNA program with flying colors and applied for a job at Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital. She was hired right away, and today begins her new career as a CNA, or according to them, Patient Care Technician…temporarily anyway, because Corrie’s journey doesn’t end there. She has other plans in mind.

She will have other new beginnings as she continues her journey toward her degree as a Registered Nurse, so this is temporary, but it is nevertheless, very exciting. This is what she has dreamed about since this journey started. She knows the work will be hard, but it is also very rewarding as she also knows, since she has basically been doing this work for twelve years already. I am so excited for my daughter, as she starts this new adventure, and so proud of her for taking the necessary steps to achieve her goals. The future is going to be a bright one for her, and I can’t wait to watch the changes as she decides her future plans in her nursing career. Congratulations Corrie. Have a wonderful first night at work. We are so proud of you!!

I think that most people know about the simple, but imaginary way of making a boo-boo all better. It’s all about the power of a healing kiss. It starts when our little ones fall down, and they really aren’t hurt, but they still need some reassurance that everything is going to be alright. The simplest way to let them know that is to kiss it better. Before long, they are coming to you so you can kiss their elbow, their knee, or their head…and you know they really just like your healing kisses…even if there is no current boo-boo.

Pretty soon you find your little angel coming to you to re-kiss the same boo-boo over and over again. It doesn’t hurt anymore, the scrape, scab, and bruise are long gone, but the memory of how awesome it is to have mommy or daddy kiss it better is enough to make them feel very secure. It isn’t that these children are afraid of anything, but rather that they like knowing that their parents will always be there when they need them. Those little healing kisses are a great way to show your little one that you love them, and you will do everything in your power to protect them, and in the absence of being able to prevent a boo-boo, you will always kiss it and make it better.

There can be one little problem with kissing a boo-boo better, however…especially one that is days or weeks old. That is when you plant your healing kiss on the wrong spot. The other night I was visiting my sister, Cheryl Masterson, when her granddaughter, Aleesia Spethman came up to me and showed me a boo-boo on her foot. I looked at her foot quickly, but couldn’t see anything. So, I kissed my finger and touched it to the bottom of the foot she had placed on my lap. That was the wrong move!! Aleesia informed me that I had kissed the wrong spot. The real boo-boo was actually on the side of her big toe. So, I quickly obliged her and kissed my finger, and touched it to the side of her big toe. Aleesia smiled at me, and went merrily on her way. Thankfully when adults goof up by kissing the wrong spot, kids are quick to forgive, provided we correct the offending error.

My nephew, Ryan Hadlock reminds me more and more of his dad, Chris Hadlock, everyday. He looks like him, talks like him, and acts like him. They also enjoy many of the same things, like sports, especially football and the Broncos. In fact, they are heading to Denver this weekend for a game. Ryan also loves camping, music, and most of all family. Ryan and his wife, Chelsea, who have been married nine years now, are raising two sweet children, Ethan and Aurora.

Recently, Ryan and his family went with Chelsea’s family to Disney World in Florida, where they had a wonderful time. The kids got to meet all the Disney characters, and ride all the great rides. Really, they are at the perfect age for a Disney World adventure…young enough to love the kid stuff and old enough to remember the trip. A wonderful time was had by all, because after all, there is a bit of a kid in all of us, especially Ryan, who will never really grow up, but then I guess that’s what makes him such a fun guy.

Ryan is a hard worker, and often picks up extra shifts at his job at Fleur de Lis, which used to be Anadarko, until they sold it to FDL, as its called. FDL is an oilfield company, and since things are picking up some, they are pretty busy. Ryan is also becoming quite a Do It Yourself guy. Recently, he fixed the central air in their home by himself, and most of us would have no idea what to do with that. Nevertheless, Ryan figured it out and saved his family from the summer heat and saved money too.

It has been a busy year for Ryan and his family, but as far as I’m concerned, the coolest thing that is going on with them is that Ryan is forming a family band. The plan is for Ryan to play the guitar. Ryan learned from his dad, and both are very good. Ethan will be playing the drums. Aurora hasn’t decided what instrument she wants to play in her dad’s band, but I’m sure she will pick something very cool. And the plan is to have Chelsea sing. I think this could be a wonderful musical family. Maybe they could be the Hadlock Family Band. I would definitely attend a performance, if they had one that was open to the public. Today is Ryan’s birthday. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Whether we like it or not, all little boys, and girls too, grow up way too fast. My nephew, Riley Birky is no exception. As a little boy, Riley loved to give hugs…especially to his mama. My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg tells me that he is still the best hugger she knows. You know the kind…they squeeze you tightly and their love for you just flows out of them and into your heart. Funny thing about those good huggers is that they never seem to get tired of hugging those they love…not even during the awkward teenaged years, when many kids are embarrassed by their parents, because they just aren’t cool. It isn’t that their parents aren’t cool…at home. It’s just that when they are with their friends…well, parents can say stuff that is just not cool…like I love you, or something. Of course, you want them to love you, just please don’t say it in front of the guys. Nevertheless, Riley was a boy who loved his mama, and he didn’t mind letting her know it.

Younger siblings can be a different kind of problem They always want to hang around, and they can be so nerdy. A cool guy can’t have his kid brother hanging around…or can he. Riley loves playing with his little brother, Tucker. He doesn’t seem to mind if Tucker is acting goofy, because…well, that’s just Tucker, and that’s ok. Riley feels very blessed to have a little brother, and they spend time together as much as possible. As a little boy, there were four things Riley loved, his mama, his little brother, his big sister, Cassie, and his bear, Fluffy. Family, you never outgrow, but toys are a different thing. Still, some toys are extra special, and you tend to keep them for life. Fluffy was just such a toy. He was like a best friend, who never left your side. While Riley doesn’t still play with Fluffy, he does still have Fluffy and probably always will. Who knows, maybe someday Fluffy can be handed down to Riley’s own child.

Riley loves playing football, and really everything about football, which is very common for boys. Sports becomes their way of life pretty early on in life. With the schools offering the opportunity and all their friends playing, it is just the natural thing for kids to do. Riley doesn’t really care about the other sports much, and other than football, would rather ride his bicycle. Like most boys, I’m sure he can do a number of tricks on his bicycle…and if not, I’ll bet that at the very least, he can pop wheelies, because I think every boy tries that one. And last, but certainly not least…there is Lilly. Lilly is the family dog, and she absolutely loves Riley, and he absolutely loves her too. Whenever Riley is at home, Lilly is by his side. Riley has such a loving, gentle way with Lilly. Dogs can just tell when they are loved, and when they are loved, they love back, with their whole being. Lilly would do anything to protect Riley, and Riley would do the same. This dog truly is this man’s best friend. Today is Riley’s 17th birthday. The little boy is gone, and in his place stands a young man with a very bright future ahead of him. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For a number of years the home of my niece, Machelle Moore, and her husband, Steve had no sidewalks or patios. While it looked nice because of the grass, it was really problematic in the winter…when they had to shovel the grass to have any kind of a walkway from the street to the door. For the last four years, they have been talking about adding cement to the south side of their property. Last winter finally pushed that idea from an option to a necessity. I’ve shoveled grass, and I can totally understand why they decided that cement was no longer optional. Having no sidewalks means that all that dirt is dragged right into the house. Steve and Machelle were determined not to spend another winter that way.

In April, Machelle asked Steve to come and look at what she had in mind. Steve was a little concerned, until she showed him her plan. This was not going to be a short term project. In fact, it would take almost the entire summer. Steve and Machelle normally like to do a lot of hiking in the hills looking for Indian arrowheads and other artifacts or camping with their family, so there were going to be some sacrifices, although they did indulge in their favorite pastimes too, but this would be a working summer. The yard had 16 sprinklers that had to be dug up, and capped off or moved to a different spot. That was the longest part of the project, and it all had to be done by hand. To me that part of the project would be the most daunting. I would have no idea how to go about that, and I don’t think Steve and Machelle had ever done anything like that either, so it was a big challenge for both of them. Nevertheless, I think they did a great job.

One thing that Steve and Machelle found out about this project was that there was a lot of digging. They hand dug out the front part of the new sidewalk to their fence themselves, and then Machelle’s dad, Lynn Cook and brother-in-law, Josh Griffith helped with the back. In the end, they decided to contract the cement work out, and they were not sorry that they did, because it turned out great…right down to their sons’ handprints in the cement. They were so glad that they worked together on the project, because they saved $5000 by making part of it a do it yourself project. Machelle is so proud of Steve’s ability to do anything he sets his mind to. They had never done sprinklers before…or a jack hammer to get rid of the old stuff, or a cement cutter. Still, it was fun working on their own project and it all turned out so great, that they have to pinch themselves to believe that it is their yard, but the greatest thing, especially with winter approaching…they can shovel the snow like normal people now!! Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My dad’s younger sister, Ruth Spencer married a man named Lester Alonzo Wolfe…who went by Jim, and I truly can’t imagine him as Lester. He was Uncle Jim, and he was truly a kid at heart. He could be serious when he had to be, but that was not his real nature. Uncle Jim and my dad, Allen Spencer were good friends, more than brothers-in-law usually are. They were more like brothers, and what one didn’t think of, the other one did!! When the two of them got together, all bets were off. They came up with the craziest things, from antics to dinners. You never knew what they would do next.

Uncle Jim genuinely loved my sisters and me, and as we grew up and got married and had children, he loved our kids, too. He was so much like our Dad in that way. He always loved having kids around, and in response to all of us kids teasing him and cajoling him, he always obliged us by teasing and cajoling back. I suppose that had to do with the kid he was inside. Laughter was not something you saw in him once in a while, it was the norm with Uncle Jim. It didn’t matter where we were, or what we were doing…in the house, outside, on camping trips, or country drives, which we made often when they were in town…he was just so much fun! He and our Aunt Ruth both were, but he and Dad were such big kids themselves, that when they got together, they could relate to our need to have that fun interaction with our Dad and our uncle. They reveled in it, and it made them both very happy. They played well off of each other. Their fun attitudes and ways were contagious! And we all loved it!

Uncle Jim’s nature was good, clean, and fun-loving, and he had a kind heart. He would give us anything we asked for, if he could. If he bought a treat, it was for everyone. If there was a game to be played, everyone could play, and if there was an underdog, he was their champion! No one ever felt left out because of the inability to keep up with the better players, and none of us felt like we wished he wouldn’t do that. I think it taught us to be understanding of everyone…not just the best players. Uncle Jim thought nice thoughts, and then put them into nice actions. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

Uncle Jim’s stories were the best and the most interesting. He could sure tell them, whether they were the truth or some of the great whoppers he told, that we, of course believed. Sometimes I think the whoppers were the best…things like walking ten miles in the snow, barefoot, and uphill both ways. Those were the kind of stories they told us, and we were gullible enough to believe. He could tell a story better than anyone we knew. We loved having Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth come to visit, and they loved surprising us. They often just popped in…from several states away, making popping in a planned event. When they came to visit, it was truly the happiest time for my sisters and me! They brought happiness and fun with them. Whatever our family may have been doing, we gladly stopped doing, for the entire time they were here. We just had fun with Uncle Jim, Aunt Ruth, and whichever of their children came with them.

My sister, Cheryl, who helped me with some of these great memories, the rest of my sisters and I, don’t have one bad memory of Uncle Jim. He was simply a good-hearted man who, though he was married to our Dad’s sister, could not have loved us any more if we had been his own blood, and he always let us know that fact. You don’t often find that in an uncle, and we love and treasure him still today, and always will!! Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Jim.

My nephew, Jason Sawdon is a Wyoming Highway Patrolman by trade, and a very good one. He was even voted “Trooper of the Year” in 2015. Jason is very proud of his role as a Wyoming Highway Patrolman, but that is not what he considers to be his most important job. His most important job is being a husband to my niece, Jessi, and Daddy to their daughter, Adelaide. For Jason, having a family is the ultimate life success story. Your job is just your job, and while you are good at it, and like what you are doing, it is still your job, and it will never be as important as your family.

This first year of being Adelaide’s daddy has been a busy one, because as you know, babies really do keep their parents busy. Having a child changes a person’s whole identity. Jason has gone from being Jason Sawdon, Wyoming Highway Patrolman, to being Adelaide’s Daddy. That will become more clear as time goes on, because all of her little friends will say, “You’re Adelaide’s daddy, right?” And that doesn’t really change…ever. Even when the kids are grown, people will ask you if you are their parent, so it is a new identity for the parent. And it’s one that they don’t mind, because that is their baby, and it’s really cool to have people acknowledge that. The older they get, the more surprising it is, but I still get asked if I am Corrie or Amy’s mom, so it’s a fun, and it’s definitely a lifelong name change for the parents.

Jason has been taking his family to do lots of fun things. They have spent time on the mountain, hiking and camping, and they have gone to visit the grandparents that live in Michigan. Adelaide is a part of a big family, on both her parents sides, so it’s important that she get to know everyone. Adelaide had a great time visiting with everyone, and getting to know her cousins. Of course, the first year being a daddy carries a lot of responsibility. There is much to teach your child, and lately, the focus has been on teaching Adelaide to walk. That is an important part of a child’s life, and a fun part of parenting. Jason and Jessi are great teachers, and of course, Adelaide is a model student, so she is now an accomplished walker. I know that the future will be a wonderful experience for Adelaide’s Daddy, and I look forward to watching them experience life. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

So much has happened this past year for my grandniece, Hattie Parmely. For one thing, she is no longer the baby of the family…now she is a big sister to her little brother, Bowen Parmely. Hattie has really enjoyed her little brother, because he is the baby, and Hattie loves babies…all kinds of babies. I think her love of babies has come from the fact that her family lives on a farm, and they raise chickens, cows, goats, and horses. There are always babies in that mix.

Of course, Hattie loves being the little sister too, because she has learned so many things from her big sister, Reagan. You see, Reagan has a car…it’s a toy of course, but it goes on it’s own power. In reality, I think the car belongs to both girls, but Reagan drives it the most. Reagan takes Hattie for rides around the farm, and helps her get up in the haystacks, shows her how to do the farm work, and how to be careful with the babies. Hattie knows that Reagan has had soooo much more experience with these things, since she is almost five. and Hattie is just turning three today. Soon, it will be both Reagan and Hattie that will be teaching Bowen all of the things he needs to know…whether he wants them to teach him or not, because he is the little brother, and that’s what big sisters do.

Hattie and Reagan are big helpers around the farm, and at their grandparents houses. One set of grandparents lives next door, and owns part of the animals that the girls take care of, and the other set has a cabin on the mountain, and they often need help cutting wood for the fire. These big strong girls get right out there and help get the job done. Hattie and Reagan have great imaginations, and they are always up to something. They might play house in the hay, or practice their milking skills…on each other, pretend, of course. They love life on the farm, and they are tough enough to clean up after the animals, collect eggs, feed the animals, and whatever else their parents might need them to do. It’s all part of farming, and they are really into it. They are always busy doing something, in fact, I’m told that the only time Hattie will sit still is if you put a baby in her arms. I can’t say that I think that is a bad thing. Being active is good and holding babies is great, so…you go Hattie!! Today is Hattie’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

A few days ago…September 13, 2017, to be exact, Greenville, North Carolina got a new citizen. Her name is Mackenzie Rose Moore, and she is absolutely beautiful. Mackenzie decided to arrive a little over two weeks before her due date, and once she made that decision, she took immediate action. Her mommy, my niece, Lindsay Moore was only in labor thirteen hours and twenty minutes…very fast for the first baby, but Mackenzie was in a hurry to meet her parents. Mackenzie’s daddy, Shannon Moore is the special teams coach at Eastern Carolina University, and so Mackenzie knew that she had to start getting to the games to show her support for her daddy, after all, she was going to be Daddy’s Girl. My guess is that she will be one of his biggest cheerleaders. In fact, she has been working on her cheer moves, and her daddy has already had her visit the sidelines to meet the team…and they all love their newest little cheerleader. Mackenzie’s daddy couldn’t possibly be any more proud of her. She is his little princess…and that’s as it should be.

I love that my niece, Lindsay gets to work from home, because that means that little Mackenzie Rose will get to spend lots of time with her mommy, doing all the girly things like shopping, manicures, and hair styling. She and her mommy will be the best of friends, and will work together to make a wonderful home for her daddy. Mackenzie will learn all about good nutrition and exercise from her mommy, and they will have lots of fun playing, going for jogs…with Mackenzie in a stroller, of course…at least at first. When I look at Lindsay with Mackenzie, I can just feel the love between them, and it is so special. I am so happy for Lindsay and Shannon. Their family has now taken on a new dimension. Their love has gone to the next level. It has expanded into a whole new person, and that is very special.

Mackenzie has also been getting to know her grandma, my sister Allyn Hadlock this week. The minute Allyn knew that Lindsay was in labor, she had planned to get on a plane headed for North Carolina, but Mackenzie just couldn’t wait that long. Allyn was so excited to be a grandma again, and she had hoped to be there before the baby’s birth, but she would have had to go in Star Trek style…Beam me up Scotty…if she was going to make it in time for this speedy little girl. Nevertheless, before her first day was over, Mackenzie got to meet her grandma. It was a late day, for sure, but Mackenzie Rose had to stay awake to meet her grandma. Some things are really important, and meeting grandparents is pretty close to the top of the list…right behind meeting one’s parents. We are all so excited for Lindsay and Shannon on their new little baby girl, and we can’t wait to meet her when they visit Casper. We love you little Mackenzie Rose Moore!!