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10898279_10202428441787483_2454481185682822420_nMy niece, Susan Cook Griffith, spent a number of years working in the area of graphics. Then, she decided that it was time for a change. Susan accepted a position at Powell Valley Healthcare, where she works in Medicare Insurance billing for the nursing home. She also does bookkeeping for Body and Paint by Tait, which is where her husband, Josh works. I think that job has been a great blessing for Susan too, because she told me a while back that sometimes Josh has to work late into the evening, so she doesn’t get to see him as much then, and it makes it hard.

Susan and Josh are very much in love, and theirs is really a storybook tale of romance, so time spent apart is hard. I think those of us with a blessed, loving marriage can certainly relate to that. Theirs was a blended family, as Susan had a daughter, Jala when they met. Their marriage has been blessed with a second daughter, Kaytlyn, and now their family is complete. A couple of years ago, they moved to a piece of land by Josh’s parents, where they get to enjoy his parents’ horses. There are magnificent views and sunsets there, and Susan often posts pictures of them on Facebook. Being a sunset person myself, I can appreciate her great pictures of them.11188394_10203273941164439_8588112623352002944_n

Susan is very close to her sister, Machelle Cook Moore, and the two of them can often be found teasing each other on Facebook. It is a traditional sister thing, I think. Having come from a family of girls, and having two daughters myself, I can totally relate to the close relationships of sisters. Sisters are a unique group of people. There is a camaraderie there, that lasts a lifetime, and they usually share so many likes and dislikes that they are often more like best friends than sisters. That is how Susan and her sister, Machelle are. They often talk about what a great sister, their sister has. A comment that sounds so typical of my sisters and me, as well as my girls.

Susan loves being a wife and mother, and considers those jobs her main calling in life. She loves doing things for her daughters, such as the birthday party she threw for Jala this summer. Having a sleepover birthday party involves a lot of planning, and all the girls had a great time, so I know that Susan did a great job of 10420765_10203273939364394_8046789384830422528_nplanning it. Kids get bored easily, and you have to be on top of your game in order to have a successful party.

Susan and Josh love to take the girls camping, hiking, and fishing and do so as often as they can. They love being outdoors, which is probably one of the main reasons for the move to the country. Of course, for most campers, by this time of year, the camping is pretty much over for the season. I don’t camp anymore, but I hike, so summer ending is never a good thing. For Susan, it means no more camping though…until next year anyway, unless Josh likes to hunt. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

DustieMy niece, Dustie Masterson is the daughter-in-law of my sister, Cheryl Masterson. Dustie’s loyalty to her mother-in-law is quite unusual. I don’t say that there aren’t daughters-in-law who are loyal and loving toward their mothers-in-law, because there are, and I am one of them, but many don’t feel any real obligation to their in-laws. Dustie is different, however. With Dustie, I see a genuine loyalty, friendship, and even love for her mother-in-law. She has truly become a part of their family, a fact that we are all happy about.

Dustie works at Albertson’s here is Casper, in the produce department. She is a Fresh Cut Specialist and Supervisor. She is also over all the salads that are created in the store. She sees all the latest in different sauces and salsas, and often buys them for Cheryl to try. I’ve had the opportunity to try some of them too, and I find that Dustie’s likes and dislikes in the food arena are very similar to my own. It is a yummy connection when I get together with Cheryl and her family on Thursday nights. For Cheryl, it is a welcome help in the kitchen, and the fact that Dustie is a good cook doesn’t hurt either.

1533909_1407746082798271_1468292285_n[1]Dustie’s life is usually very busy. With a husband and three children at home, and a full time job, she spends a lot of her time running whether it be at home, work, or errands. Evenings are spent helping the kids, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna with their homework, and getting them lined out for school the next day. As most parents know, having kids in school is like being in school yourself, because you have to learn right along with them in order to help them with their homework, and yet, you have to be a teacher too, n that you can’t do the work, but rather you must make them do it with the proper amount of prompting. And of course, you have to be the educational encourager, to keep them motivated.

It’s a busy life that Dustie leads, but one that makes her very happy. Dustie has been a part of our family for over 12 years now, and I, for one, don’t know what we would do without her. She was a blessing during the years we were taking care of our parents, and she always will be. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Young Aunt SandyBeing the youngest of my grandparents’ nine children, my Aunt Sandy Byer Pattan, has become my go to person for family history information. She probably got to hear all the stories more than the other kids, because when parents are busy raising a large family, there are always other priorities. Of course, story time was a big priority in their family too, because it was something they could all do together. I’m sure the other kids heard all the stories about their family too, but Aunt Sandy seems to be the one who was especially interested in the family history. There always seems to be one or two who can easily be named the family historian. For the Byer family, the family historian would most definitely be Aunt Sandy.

In some ways, Aunt Sandy almost got to be that “mouse in the corner” listening to what went on in history. She may not have been there experiencing it, but the family she knew and loved, were there, so it felt real. Aunt Sandy's graduation pictureSome of the family history stories were in Aunt Sandy’s time…not that she lived in ancient times, but that she lived during times in our history that were economically tough. She witnessed times when people often showed up at their doorstep…hungry, and they had heard through the grapevine that generous people lived in that house. Aunt Sandy recalls that no one was turned away, because her mother always made a way to feed more hungry mouths. I can’t imagine living through some of those times, and not have it affect my interest in family history.

Aunt Sandy always has a bit of a unique take on the family and it’s members. She often sees a side of them, good or bad, that I would have never known about. Every family has its rebels, and every family has its conformists. That is just a part of life, and for me, each is interesting. The runaway husband story she told me about my second great grandfather, David Pattan left me wondering if he was a cheating husband or just a little bit insane. Unfortunately, those are questions without answers. She has told me about grouchier family members, Some of these, I suppose, were just naturally grouchy, but others, I think might have been overwhelmed. Each will be remembered for the choices they made, I guess.
Aunt Sandy now
As to my Aunt Sandy, I will always remember her for the insight she has given me into the great big family that I am honored to be a part of. I think that every family really needs someone like Aunt Sandy in it. She spent many years listening to, and remembering the details of the stories of the family. Her amazing mind allowed her to remember the stories without writing much of it down. If someone is interested, she is willing to share. That, in and of itself, is a big part of the blessing she is. I think everyone of the family members should take a few minutes to sit down with her and find out about all the amazing information she has. Today is Aunt Sandy’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

11745789_10153459504417236_7008778497328572344_n11905802_10153572231312236_4270356590731574729_nMy nephew, Tucker Birky is a child of mixed personal traits. He is hilariously funny, a rough and tumble boy, and yet, with a musical side. Most of the personality types that make up Tucker, are normal for a boy his age. He is funny, as I said, and that has a tendency to get him in a little bit of trouble. It is the class clown in Tucker, typical of so many boys his age that tends to disrupt the class a little bit, and teachers don’t seem to have a very good sense of humor when it comes to that stuff. Imagine that. Recess finds Tucker wanting to play a little bit rough. Tucker is full of energy, and that has to be used up at recess or it will explode somewhere else. So, the playground teacher has to reign him in some on that, but in all reality, Tucker tries to be a good boy, and that makes it hard for the teachers to get too awfully mad at him.

Tucker is an above average student. Math and reading are among his favorite subjects. While it is not uncommon for boys to like math, reading is often a subject that they couldn’t care less about, so for reading to be one of Tucker’s favorite subjects, is great. It is my belief that if a kid can read and comprehend, most can write their own ticket when it comes to their education. Recently, Tucker decided to learn to play the piano. Now, I can’t do it, so I am in awe of anyone who can read notes. I can sing, but to know what key works best for me or to know by the notes what direction a song is going next, so I think that is an accomplishment for Tucker to be very proud of.

Home life for Tucker always includes his older brother, Riley, who Tucker loves very much. Like a lot of little brothers, Tucker wants to do anything his older brother is doing. Riley is the guy Tucker wants to be just like someday. For Riley, that means being a good role model, because someone is watching every move you make, and following you around as much as he is allowed. Riley takes that seriously though. Evenings will often find him reading to his little brother, playing ball with him…any kind of ball will do, and the all important wrestling to help get rid of some of that pent up energy…an activity that always seems to find a good natured Tucker on the bottom, when all is said and done. Don’t get me wrong though, because when it comes to the many brotherly battles the two have had, Tucker has not lost all of them. He will need to understand that shooting your big brother with a BB gun is not the best plan, and is probably one that will get you in trouble with not only your parents, but with the older brother you want to be around. I’m sure that after that one, Riley told Tucker to go away, and so Tucker had lots of alone time to think about a better target to use.

Tucker is a kid who likes to help out around the house. I’m sure that is well received by his mom, who is my sister-in-11954659_10153572230727236_3301086174183910901_n11024706_10153520462822236_6374151647046367089_nlaw, Rachel Schulenberg. Any time you can get a kid to pitch in around the house, you are just that much ahead of the game. Tucker also has a kitten named Jack Jack, who is his very own pet. Tucker is doing a great job of taking care of him, and Jack Jack loves him very much. In fact, the two of them are inseparable. Probably the biggest vise Tucker has is his addiction to candy…a problem that many of us can relate too. The old sweet tooth. The good news is that with birthdays come sweets, and today is Tucker’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

swimming in a horse troughMy grand niece, Reagan Parmely arrived the day after her mother, Ashley Parmely’s birthday, three years ago. She was the first grandchild of her grandmother, Jennifer Parmely. The addition of Reagan, and then a year ago, of her little sister, Hattie, have brought new life and lots at activity to the family. She is a busy girl, and she is teaching her little sister the ropes. Together, they keep their parents running. When the rest of your family is adults, the addition of two busy little girls can be a culture shock…even if the parents are active.

Having two daughters of my own, I can relate to the kinds of activity the Parmely family has going on these days. Reagan has had a busy summer, of swimming and playing outdoors. She and her little sister, Hattie have been spending time on the tricycle, with lots of sisterly teamwork used to make the tricycle go. The girls seem to be very good at teamwork, and Hattie is proving to be a power player in their sisterly operations…and between the two of them, there is always something going on. In fact, their mom tells me that about the only thing the girls aren’t into is, you guessed it…sleeping.
The Corn Maze
Reagan recently started pre-school, which will undoubtedly bring about a big change in her. There is no way to go from being a toddler at home with the family, to being a student, without the whole process changing you forever. A toddler quickly transitions into a child. They have seen a whole new world out there that goes beyond their own little corner of it. Suddenly, they discover that there are many children in the world. New playmates await them. Reagan has so much fun ahead of her, and I’m very excited for her. There is so much to learn. Her school career is just starting, and she will learn so much as she goes along. Reagan is such a smart little girl and I know that she will do well as a student. She loves learning new things. I think most kids do.

Back at home, Reagan is the big sister and mommy’s helper once again. Though she loves school, and the many new things she is learning there, she misses her family too. Reagan and her sister, Hattie are best imagefriends. That’s how it is with sisters. Sure, you may fight, but in the end there is no one that means more to a kid, other than their parents, of course. Reagan has so many things to show her little sister. Some of the greatest life lessons are taught by siblings, whether they know it or not. Reagan will play an active role in the person her sister, Hattie becomes. And Hattie will play an active role in the person her sister, Reagan becomes. The girls will be forever friends, because that is the awesomeness of having a sister. That is something I can attest to, coming from a family of sisters. They will grow in to a team as the years go by…Team Parmely!! I think we will see a lot of good things come from this team in the future. Today is Reagan’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Ashley, Eric, and the girlsMy niece, Ashley Eighmy Parmely, who is married to my nephew, Eric Parmely loves being a mom. I think she wanted kids more than anything else…except maybe being married to Eric. Ashley has always been a sweet girl, who fit well into our family, but Ashley had a greater calling…motherhood. Of course, it is a calling many women have, and yet each is unique in who they are as a mom. Ashley is very hands on as a mom. She wants to be there to show her daughters the amazing things her world has to offer. Eric and Ashley bought a house out in the country so they could raise their children around her parents miniature horses, as well as the other farm animals she could acquire access to.The Corn Maze

Ashley loves animals. She is working right now to help her female goat have babies. I’m not sure what the problem is, but she has been giving her little female goat daily hormone shots to make her more fertile. Ashley finds motherhood for anyone to be a wonderful, special time. If she can help her little goat female to become a mom, then she is quite happy, and apparently her young goat agrees, because she seems to love Ashley very much, or maybe she understands that Ashley is trying to help her.

Ashley has always had a heart of gold. I think she really likes helping her animals to be the best they can be. I suppose that she feels the same way abut her kids. She loves spending time with her The Goatkids, teaching them how to recognize the animals and to enjoy the great outdoors. Recently Eric and Ashley took their girls to a corn maze in the area. The whole family had a great time. Since hiking and being outdoors is a big part of what they love, walking through a corn maze fit right into their idea of fun. I’m sure that for their girls, wandering around in the corn fields was a lot of fun. And of course, dressing the corn fields up with pumpkins was the topper for sure. For Ashley, anything that centers around her family is exactly where she wants to be. Her husband, kids, and animals are the exact niche she feels the most comfortable in. When she is around them, she is in her happy place. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

scan0032scan0025There comes a point after your parent passes away, when you find yourself wanting to pick up the phone and call them, just to ask them a question. It can be anything from family history, to life advise, to simply wanting to share the good times with them. Suddenly, you speak their name as if they are still here, and then, just as suddenly, you realize that they aren’t. That is the place I have found myself several times. Driving by Mom’s house, I thought of her. When exciting things have happened, I’ve thought of calling her. When I had a family question, that she could answer easily, I missed her terribly. And then there were the times I mentioned talking to her in a conversation, only to stop suddenly, shocked about what I had just said. I knew she was gone, but my mind just hadn’t accepted it, I guess.

It seems like after a loss, you find yourself always looking back on the past…missing the person that is gone. It isn’t about wondering if my mom is ok, because I know exactly where she is and I know she is happy in Heaven. It’s just that with both of my parents, there is so much more that I wanted to talk to them about. There were questions I wish I had asked. Now it’s too late.

My favorite part about looking through my parents things, has been the pictures we have found. Those pictures tell a story that we had never known to ask about. It has made a way for us to see the past and some of what it was like even though we couldn’t ask about it. I guess that is some consolation. The undeveloped film we found has been such a surprise treasure. Seeing our parents when they were young and us as kids has been amazing. Yes, we lived those moments, but now we can re-live those moments. We can see a little bit about our parents personalities from the pictures. We get to see the things they liked to do, and the places they liked to go. I have really enjoyed seeing that young side of them. My sister, Cheryl Masterson and I wondered what it would’ve been like had we stayed in Superior, Wisconsin. For me, the pictures have given us a glimpse of what life was like there. These were things that we would have asked our parents, but never had the chance.
scan0010First Camera
When your parents have passed away, you find so many things that you wish you had talked to them about. There are so many stories about the past, that you can never ask about now. The problem is that you didn’t know that you should ask when you were younger. We are not alone and finding this out after their passing, because I think a lot of kids find it out this way. Today marks the eighth month since my mom, Collene Spencer went to Heaven, and every day brings to mind a question I would ask her…if only I could.

Denny FredrickMy cousin, Dennis Fredrick and I have been emailing back and fourth for a few weeks now, and it has brought our relationship back to what if used to be, years ago. Time and distance make it difficult for people to stay in touch…even relatives. That is what happened with Denny and me, and now that we have begun to move our relationship back where it should be, I think we are both much happier about it. It’s amazing just how much you miss of someone’s life. The years go by so fast, and before you know it you can feel like you hardly know them anymore, and that is a sad thing to see happen between cousins. The good news is that it’s not too late to change all that, and that is exactly what Denny and I have set out to do.

Denny recently retired, and that has given him more time to devote to the family history. It’s perfect timing, because I have some pictures that I wanted his opinion on, and he has found some great documents that most of the family had never seen before. Denny’s mom, my Aunt Laura Fredrick has been working on the family history for years, and being the oldest of my grandparents’ children, she had the opportunity to have a copy of her parents’ marriage certificate. With her passing, her years of hard work on the family history were passed on to her son Denny. Now, with Denny’s extra time, and my knowledge of Ancestry.com, it is my hope that we can make some the information available online, as well as to other family members who are online, but maybe not on Ancestry.com.
Just Me
Of course, the family history is not the only thing that Denny and I have been talking about. There are so many memories to talk about. Our families were so close when they lived in Casper. we loved it when they came over. There was always something fun going on. The conversation was interesting, and there was a closeness between the families. After their move to Oregon, we didn’t get to see them as much. That is the part that both Denny and I feel a loss over. Nevertheless, it’s never too late to catch up on the past, so that’s what Denny and I intend to do…making up for lost time. That is our ultimate goal. It might be a long road, but it will be worth it in the end. Today is Denny’s birthday. Happy birthday Denny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

First Camerascan0027_editedI remember getting my first camera. I was probably 6 years old at the time. Once I got it, I was almost never without it. I can’t say that I took the greatest pictures in those days, but what I can say is that I was often behind the camera rather than in the pictures. That had its good and bad points to it. The good thing was that I took pictures of the things that held an interest to me. The bad part was that often, I wasn’t in the pictures. I had never really given much thought to that until we began looking for pictures to use in the slide show for my dad’s funeral. It was hard to find some of me with my dad. I felt quite sorry about that. in the end, we found enough pictures, but I started thinking about the years ahead. I knew that I needed to do something different.

Being a photographer is a wonderful thing, and I will always love to be a photographer, but I have learned that the photographer sometimes has to relinquish the camera and be in the picture. If you never do that, it’s hard for anyone to know that you belong to the group being photographed. While that isn’t always a problem, there are times in life when it is a problem…such as the time I mentioned before. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it is great fun to be the photographer. When I see the pictures taken by other photographers, I get great ideas for shots I want to take myself. Of course, there are just pictures that happen, and no planning could make them any better than the shot you got almost by accident. Personally, I love taking wildlife pictures, with birds in flight being at the top of my list. Those are among the most difficult to take. The birds are moving so fast that by the time you get the camera ready and focused, the birds are long gone. It is a type of shot that takes lots of practice, but one that is very rewarding once you succeed.Annual Picnic 3John Seagull

It’s strange to think that the hardest lesson for a photographer to learn can be to make sure you get in a few of the pictures yourself. You would think that would just be second nature to someone who knows the value of pictures. I’ve never felt like I am very photogenic, and maybe that is why I don’t feel such a need to be in the pictures, but after many years as an amateur photographer I realize what a folly that is. Good, bad, or ugly, I needed to be in a few of those shots.

Uncle Jim RichardsMy Uncle Jim Richards is a family man with deep values and loyalties. He is not one to turn away anyone in need. His home has been a shelter for a number of different people over the years. That said, I can tell you that his home has also been very blessed because of his generosity too. I don’t think that we can be givers in this world without God returning good things to us too. Uncle Jim and his wife, my Aunt Dixie have been blessed with three children, Jeannie Liegman, Jim Richards, and Raylynn Williams, as well as five grandsons and one granddaughter. They are a close family, who gets together every day. I suppose that there are people who think that is odd, but I think it is wonderful. Children and grandchildren are among God’s greatest IMG_6712blessings, and to have them close is priceless…and any grandparent who doesn’t get to watch their grandchildren grow up would tell you the same thing. Those years go by so fast. You have to enjoy while you can.

Uncle Jim is a gentle man with soft spoken way. I’m sure he could get angry if the situation warranted it, but I’ve never seen him angry. That says a lot about his level of patience…to be around all the kids in our whole family, all being rowdy at the same time, and to still have patience with them…amazing. It is especially amazing when the children are not his. That is just the kind of uncle he is though.

Uncle Jim and Aunt DixieUncle Jim has always been a soft spoken man, with a great smile. His joy in life shows all over his face. Uncle Jim and his family have always lived in the country, raising chickens and such. it seemed a life he was suited to. Over the years, they have taken care of many of the children in the family while their parents worked. I have spoken to several of them, and they all have fond memories of their time at Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim’s place. Every one of them had a wonderful time out there. That speaks volumes about the loving atmosphere they built into their home. When the children in your care have fond memories of the time they spent there…even when they are adults, you are doing something right. Today is Uncle Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!