babies

grandpa spencer053grandpa spencer004 (2)Like most grandparents, my parents loved being grandparents. It’s not something that is hard for any grandparent to understand. Each new baby brings ever increasing joy to your heart. That is how my parents felt about their grandchildren. The babies were like a never ending source of joy, and they looked forward to each new addition with great anticipation. I know it is the same with most grandparents, but the way my parents felt about those babies showed on their faces in every picture I have ever seen of them with the babies. Each new life was a precious extension of themselves…through their daughters. It truly was a way for their line to continue on forever. It was like looking into the future for them.

Sometimes, as I look at the pictures of them with the babies, I wonder exactly what it was they were thinking. Did they see the future in the eyes of those babies? Did they marvel at the reality of that new little life, knowing that it came about through them and their children? Or did they simply wonder what this child…this new life, would become in the future? I’m certain that had a big part in it. I remember my own grandchildren as babies. I couldn’t wait for their personalities to present themselves. I wanted to know who they would become, and I have not been disappointed in any of them. I’m sure that is how my mom and dad felt too. We have a family of wonderful grandchildren, great grandchildren, and now a great great grandchild.

When we have more babies, however, Mom and Dad won’t be here to see them, and that makes me a little bit sad, because I know they would have loved to see all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. Of course, cheryl007Dad and Lizthey will get to know them in Heaven, but oh, how they would have loved to know them here. Grandchildren are a blessing straight from God, and I know that my parents loved each and every one of them, and they couldn’t wait for the next arrival. As the new babies arrive, I know that I will find myself thinking about Mom and Dad, and feeling just a little bit sad, because…well, Mom and Dad would have so enjoyed each and every one of them. I just wish they could have been here for all of the new family members we will have in the future, both spouses and babies, because the family will go on.

JenniferGagarin_CapsuleMany things changed on the day, Jennifer Schulenberg Parmely, my sister-in-law, was born. No, it wasn’t something that she or her parents did, but rather in the world. On this day, April 12, in 1961, the year Jennifer was born, the world saw it’s very first manned space flight. That was the day that the Race to Space ended with Russia putting the first man in space. That man was Yuri Gagarin. The United States had hoped to win that race, but we were not ready to put our first manned space flight into space for another month. I’m sure that all this meant nothing to Jennifer, or her parents, Walt and Joann Schulenberg, but it is, nevertheless, a historical fact, and it happend on the day she was born.

Jennifer grew up, and became the mother of three boys, Barry, JD, and Eric. There was hope that she would have a daughter, but that was not to be. It seemed to be some kind of tradition in the Schulenberg family…at least with the grandchildren and great grandchildren. Whatever the first baby was, the others in that family were the same. The only one to break that tradition to date is my daughter Amy Royce, who managed to have a girl and then, shocker…a boy. All the others in the family have one or the other. That didn’t leave Jennifer much hope of having a granddaughter either, but Eric and his wife, Ashley broke with the boy tradition in Jennifer’s family and had two girls, Reagan and Hattie. They still kept with the tradition of what the first one is the others are too, however. Of course, there is always a possibility that they will try again for the boy, and maybe…just maybe, they will succeed like Amy did. Until that time, Jennifer is enjoying the little girls she never got to have, and that is very nice for her, because they are little sweeties, for sure.

Jennifer is a nurse at Wyoming Medical Center, and has worked there since she was just seventeen. She 10003172_10203972406689415_8176777419648422187_nNurse Jenniferstarted as a Candy Striper, and after college, was hired in the Obstetrics department as a nurse. She has always loved newborn babies, and this way she gets to see lots of them, but the good news is that she can hold them and then give them back to their mothers, because as most mothers know, there is a time to have your babies, and a time to be the one to just spoil those babies and let their parents handle the fallout. It’s called being the grandma, and believe me, it’s awesome, as any grandmother will tell you. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! 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!!

11428037_718872361573482_8491856488591969902_na10404391_708408122619906_1085418213807494381_naSome babies are able to capture your heart with their funny little ways. They are always smiley and always up to something. They seem to have the ability to do things that make people laugh, and it all seems to be instinct to them. No amount of planning on the part of their parents, is needed. My cousins, Chris and Annie Beadle have just such a baby. His name is Kasen, and he reminds me a lot of my oldest grandson, Chris, who was just such a baby too. Kasen has great big, expressive eyes, and an almost shy look about him, although he certainly isn’t shy around the camera, and in fact, he will steal your heart in an instant. That’s just the kind of baby Kasen is.

He is a busy little boy, who always has things to do, and you truly don’t know what he will be up to next…until you see his mom’s pictures that is. As I said, Kasen seems to have a shy demeanor, but I don’t think he is 11403226_732647406862644_8923556709457253721_nreally very shy. He plays well with his sister and friends, and really loves just being a big boy…now that he can walk. He loves his big sister, Nevada, and she loves helping out with Kasen. I think Nevada has wanted a little brother or sister for a long time, so she is really enjoying Kasen. Of course, he hasn’t had the chance to get into her things yet, so we will see how she feels about him in the future. I’m sure there will be those horrible years when she wishes they could send him back, but in the end, I think little Kasen will win his sister’s heart, just like he has every other heart he has ever set out to win with his quick smile and his big eyes.

These days, Kasen is content to play with his own toys, and I’m sure that his sister’s big 4th grader things aren’t too interesting. But then, she might have a very different take on that than what I see. I’m also sure that his daddy, Chris can’t wait to be able to get his son out there ad teach him how to play baseball or football, or at the very least watch their favorite Denver Broncos together, because that’s 10423726_733047923489259_2502943782726642415_nNavada Beadlewhat fathers and sons do, after all.

Kasen is a sweetheart, as I said, and I have to admit I am quite a fan of this little cutie. I love how he entertains those around him and I love that his mommy, Annie posts so many pictures to keep me updated. If I ever need something to make me smile, I just go to Annie’s Facebook page and have a look at the pictures she has posted of little Kasen, and then I smile and go on about my day. Today is Kasen’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Kasen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

KevinCorrie & KevinAs parents move into the college years for their kids, so much changes, and with those changes come so many emotions. That is where my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen finds himself today. His oldest child, Chris is in his second year of Culinary School at Sheridan College in Sheridan, Wyoming, and now, his youngest son, Josh has started college classes through the Boces program, while he is still a student at Kelly Walsh High School. While Kevin and my daughter, his wife, Corrie are both very proud of their boys, this year has also brought the changes in life very much to the forefront of their thoughts…and it really hasn’t been easy.

Kevin and Chris have worked together at Johnny J’s Diner, where Chris was a cook and Kevin a manager for several years now, but this year, Chris’ schedule will not really allow that. More likely, it is we, his family who will have to visit Chris, rather than the other way around. It is not even certain if Chris can get home for birthdays this year…his own included. This is a change that has been and will continue to be hard on Kevin, because his family means everything to him. Kevin is a great dad, and someone that the boys look up to. He works hard, and he has instilled those same values in the boys.

Then to make matters worse, Josh’s schedule is quite busy as well. When he isn’t going to school or working, he will be in evening classes at Casper College, where he is studying Fire Science, and eventually studying to become a both firefighter and EMT. While Josh still lives at home, I think Kevin and Corrie are starting to experience a little bit of empty nest syndrome. I think that most people experience that to a degree about this time in their children’s lives. Kids go to school and work, and what little bit of downtime they have is spent hanging out with their friends. Sometimes, parents get left in the dust. It is at those moments that parents wish that their young adults were still their babies. They wish the years hadn’t gone by so fast, but you can’t turn back time. We are all where we are at this moment in time.

No matter how little time Kevin and Corrie get with their boys, they are still so very proud of them, and all that they are doing. While this time in their lives is difficult, they know that in the future there will come a time when all the sadness of missing each other will be replaced with the joy of their successes. For now, however, as parents, they will be relegated to the background as their children get to shine. Still, I hope Kevin and Corrie Kevin 3Josh, Kevin, and Chris with the truckknow just how much their boys love them, depend on them, and look up to them. They have such a high respect for them, and they really want to make them proud. If the boys are busy, it is because they are working hard to do the things that they have dreamed about, and if their parents have taught them one thing, it is to follow your heart and you will achieve your dreams. These college years are fleeting, and will soon pass, and that will be an entirely new kind of change. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! We know it will be hard, but have a great day anyway!! We love you!!

IMG_3718Children are a curious bunch. There is so much in this world that is totally new to them. Things we take for granted as being average, or even boring, they find interesting, and children aren’t alone in this either. Animals can be just as curious about the things that people don’t even think about. Things like taking pictures of seagulls can have them looking at you like you are from outer space. I suppose they have seen enough humans to know what they look like. Then to see one with a camera up to their face, makes them think that this is some new creature. As I scrambled to take this shot of a seagull as it flew over me head, I had no idea that I had snapped a shot of him looking right at me, as if to ask, “What are you doing?”

Dogs are especially curious about things, and since they aren’t afraid to come near humans, they come and Dog and Camerastick their curious little noses right in the camera lens…and they are very likely to lick the camera lens…whether you like it or not. In a way they are like babies. The best way to figure out what something is, is to put it in your mouth…right?? Well, that’s just like a dog. If it’s cool enough for their human to have up to their face, it must taste good. Or maybe it’s a new kind of toy that their human bought for them. Maybe if they lick it and let their human know they want to play, their human with throw it for them. As funny as that sounds, the photographer probably isn’t so thrilled with that dog slobber all over their lens, but their dog is having a great time.

When it comes to kids though, they have a little bit more ability to get their hands on things. A wise parent knows that there is a time to kid proof your house. It doesn’t matter what it is, if their parents think it’s cool, so do the kids. And they don’t understand the concept of something being broken. They just want to see what it is.

My grand nephew, Jake Harman was very much that Curiositycurious little boy, when his mom or grandma was trying to take his picture. I can’t say that the picture turned out the way they had planned, but you must admit that it turned out pretty cute anyway. If I didn’t know what he looked like as a little boy, I suppose this picture could have been a picture of any baby, but it isn’t, it’s Jake. Jake was always a curious little boy, and I suppose that like most kids, that got him into a certain degree of mischief, but he was, in all reality just a normal boy, curiosity and all. And while the picture didn’t turn out as planned, it takes me back to when my first grand nephew was born. It was a new experience, and we were all curious about who he would become. Hmmm…curiosity isn’t just a quirk of children and animals. Even adults have that tendency.

Corrie and Kevin Petersen Wedding Day July 17, 1993It’s strange to think that your children have been married twenty two years, and together twenty five years, but that is exactly where I find myself today. I can’t believe that so many years have passed since those two kids got married. They were babies really!! How could they possibly know who they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with? That seemed to like such a strange thought to me, and yet Bob and I married at about that age too, and we have been married forty years. You can know for yourself, but it just feels different for your kids. And to top it off, they just seem younger than you were…somehow. Much like when I look at kids in high school these days. They just seem so much younger than I was then.

Nevertheless, these two young people made the decision to stay together for life, and they have stuck to it…through thick and thin. There is no marriage on this earth, and I don’t care whose it is, that manages to go along with no storm clouds in it. That is simply not how life in this world works, but troubles or not, it is the fighters…the ones who are determined to make it work, who will endure to the end. I have often said that the Corrie & Kevin Weddingmain reason Bob and I stayed together all these years, is stubbornness…pure stubbornness. We were just to stubborn to quit. That’s how Corrie and Kevin were too. When tough times came, the tough got going. Their marriage has not been stress free…but it has stayed together through anything, and today, before me I see two wonderful people who have stood the test of time, and have come out victorious!! People talk about stubbornness as if it is a bad thing, and maybe sometimes it is, but from what I have seen, that stubbornness, when used in the right way for the right things…such as a marriage, is one of the best assets a couple can have. And so it has been for Corrie and Kevin all these wonderful years of their marriage.

The wedding day flew by so fast. We remember some things, such as the fact that just as Pastor Dan said, “Dearly beloved…” a clap of thunder was heard, and the rain poured down. The kids, who had thought about an outdoor wedding, looked at each other, and were glad they were inside on their special day. It was rather comical, because when they suggested an outdoor wedding, I told them that you can’t be sure of the weather. They were a little miffed at me…until that moment. Nevertheless, if it had been outside, we would have made it work too. Their ride across town to the reception was quite unique too, in that they were transported in a fire truck. Bob was the mechanic for the fire department, and the firemen did it as a special favor. Very cool, and 1917770_1259144074264_5141635_nsomething we would never forget. Still, even with these special memories of that special day, it is the years since then that have been the most amazing. The births of their sons, Christopher and Joshua, the blessings they have been to me and to our whole family over the years…especially in our parents times of need. I always knew that I could count on them to be there for me, whenever I needed them, and Bob knew it too, as did any of the family who ever needed them. Corrie and Kevin have always been people you could count on. Things like that can never be repaid. Before me today, I see two wonderful people, and I wish them both many more years of wedded bliss and the very best that God can give, for the rest of their lives. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you!!

Too bright 1Since I was a kid, my eyes have been very sensitive to bright sunlight. I learned to wear sunglasses at a rather young age and as an adult, I continue to wear them. Looking back, I recall a time when my Mom had a really bad headache, and I gave her my sunglasses. Her headache went away. That was proof positive to me that some people are more light sensitive than others, because I know a lot of people who never bother with sunglasses, while others must have them.

Kids are no different, of course, they just have a way of showing it that is a little bit more funny, like the time our family took a trip through Beartooth Pass. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny day, and we stopped at the top. As you all know, picture taking in sunglasses is not the way to see the face of the subject. Nevertheless, picture taking without the needed sunglasses, is not always easy…nor does it always have the desired outcome. Still, it can be quite funny. I have looked at this picture many times, but never really paid close attention to Amy’s face in it. She, on the other hand, caught it the minute I showed it to her. There she was, face all scrunched up in a serious squint, while Too bright 2Corrie and I managed to keep our eyes open. Her comment to the whole thing was, “It was just too bright, I guess.” And so it was. Looking at the beautiful view with the sun at our backs worked very well, but facing into the bright sunlight for the picture…not so much.

Bob had the same problem when he was a little kid, and his mom was taking a picture of him and his two older sisters, Marlyce and Debbie. While the girls had no easy time of keeping their eyes open, Bob found it to be an impossible task. Nevertheless, he did manage a smile, even with his scrunched up eyes. Really, I think those scrunched up smiles are just a cute as they can be, and it shows that the child is really trying to smile, but some things, like opening your eyes in the bright sunlight, are just impossible. And most of us can totally relate, because it always seems to me that the minute they get the pose right, someone isn’t looking at the camera, or smiling, or their hair is in their face. By the time everyone is ready, your eyes are watering, and your are having trouble seeing anything, because of the bright sunlight that has been shining in your eyes for far too long.

Babies are by far the funniest though, because you can’t convince them to keep looking at Too bright 3you, and they don’t mind letting you know just what they think of you making them look into the bright sunlight. Nevertheless, they will look over at you again, every time you call their name, and then look away immediately. That was Bob’s little sister, Jennifer’s problem in this picture. She tried several times to look at the camera, as is evidenced by the fact that there are several pictures taken at the same time, but she was doomed to fail, or simply close her eyes, because it was just too bright outside that day. It’s funny, when you think about it, that we always try to take pictures where the subject is facing into the sun, but mostly all we get are scrunched up faces. Maybe we should opt for a spot that is just a little less bright. Hmmmmmm!!

Grandma's BabiesAs my two oldest grandchildren approach their 18th birthdays, just a little over a month from now, it occurs to me just how quickly time flies. It seems like only yesterday that we were awaiting their arrival. We never suspected that they would be born just a day apart…Chris on his great grandmother’s birthday and Shai on Leap Day. When Corrie went into labor on the 27th, we all knew the closeness to her grandmother’s birthday. How cool it would be for Chris to arrive on that day, because Corrie had been born the first great grandchild on her great grandmother’s birthday, Bob’s mother, and now, the upcoming birthday was her own birthday, and Chris was her own first great grandchild…a rare occurrence indeed. When midnight passed, we knew we had made it, and we were all very excited about that.

Then, the next day, Amy called me and said that Corrie had “inspired” her, and she was now in labor. I couldn’t believe it. It would be so cool to have a Leap Day Baby, but she would have to hurry, and it almost seemed impossible…but then with our anniversary being on March 1, I thought that day would be cool too. Shai, however, had planned an unusual day for herself, one that would be all her own, and one that would only come every four years…Leap Day.

So it was that we were given two grandchildren, one boy and one girl, in two days. Seriously, does it get any better than that? I don’t think so. The two kids became instant best friends, because of the amount of time they spent together at my house and at Amy’s house, because Amy babysat Chris. I was living on cloud nine at that point, and I felt like the most blessed grandmother in the universe. I had told the girls that I wanted to be a grandmother by the time I was 40, and so they decided to oblige…hitting my goal twice just two months before my 40th birthday. The funny thing was that when Corrie said, “We made it Mom”, I had to ask “made what?” She laughed and said, “You are a grandmother before you are 40!” I had been so excited about the arrival of my first grandchild, that I had completely forgotten my goal.

Now, here we are almost eighteen years later, and looking at both of them getting ready to Christopher, Grandpa, and Shaigraduate from high school, and planning their college days and the rest of their lives, and all I can think is, “Where had all the years gone?” How could those precious little babies suddenly be adults? It seems impossible, and it makes me more than a little bit sad, but then I think, “Hmmmm, maybe I could be a great grandmother by the time I’m 60…not a bad goal at all. Time will tell, I guess. Maybe I’ll need to start putting a bug in those two little babies…now adult’s ears. And maybe, I shouldn’t have let that secret idea be known, because I’m not sure my girls feel ready to be grandmothers just yet. Still, that’s a couple of years down the road, so they will have a little time to get used to the idea. Seriously…it could happen.

Brenda by the Christmas treeAs I was helping my sister-in-law, Brenda and my daughter, Corrie with some projects around Brenda’s house today, we started talking about Christmas Eve, which is always held at Brenda’s house. The talk was really about planning for the upcoming holiday, but my thoughts drifted back to Christmas Eve celebrations, as well as other holiday celebrations, of years gone by. This is a year of firsts for our family. Since my father-in-law’s passing on May 5th, we are facing the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and every other holiday without his presence. My mother-in-law is still with us, but with Alzheimer’s Disease, she cannot live alone, so she is in a nursing home. She is quite happy there, but since she hasn’t walked since March, bringing her over to celebrate with us is just not feasible. She doesn’t know what day it is anyway, so she doesn’t miss the holidays. The sad thing about our situation is that with her in the nursing home, and my father-in-law in Barbeque at Brenda'sHeaven, we are almost going through that year of firsts with both of them at the same time.

As I took the trash out when we were finished with our project, I looked at Brenda’s patio, which had often been the place for family barbeques in the summertime, the sad and lonely feeling that had been there throughout our conversation, persisted. Anyone who has lost a parent understands quite well just how hard that year of firsts is. The traditions that had been a part of life for so long that they were taken for granted, must now be completely re-worked to reflect the changed family unit, and no matter what you do, there is always and will always be a hole in them…that empty place that belongs to that loved one who is now gone. Yes, you move on and make new traditions, be they never really feel quite right, somehow. You keep thinking that maybe next year it will feel normal, or at least not feel like something is missing, Mom & Dad Schulenberg_editedbut it just doesn’t. The subsequent years of holidays are joyous, just like before, but with a little hint of loneliness, that never goes away.

As a look at the old pictures of holidays from years gone by, I can’t help but shed a tear, because those days are gone forever. I think one of the hardest things about the circle of life is the changing face of tradition. I love tradition…families gathering to celebrate holidays in the way that their families did, and the way their children’s families probably will. Unfortunately, change is inevitable, and traditions will change…as loved ones pass, children marry, and babies arrive, but some changes feel good, while others feel forced…and laden with a hint of loneliness.