babies

It’s hard to believe that four years have passed since my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg passed away. Of course, if you asked my mother-in-law, his wife, Joann, he is still here. Alzheimer’s Disease has taken away the memory of his loss, for her anyway. Sometime I think her loss of that memory clouds my own feelings about to too. She often calls my husband, Bob…her son, Walt, and of course, he pretends that he is. Or she asks about him, and we tell her that he went to Walmart. In many ways, her loss of the memory of his passing has kept him closer to all of us. Pretending that he is still here makes is seem real somehow, because the mind makes it seem so.

Dad was the glue in the family. Mom might have been too, had Alzheimer’s Disease not taken that spot from her. Dad’s passing brought a different family unit with it. We don’t get together quite as often now. It makes me sad, because I know how much he loved his family, and how important it was to him that we stay close. We have stayed close, just not in quite the same way as it was when he was still with us. Family was everything to him, but of course, he understood how busy people can get. The main thing he would have wanted us to do, is to be there for the love of his life, and in that respect, I know that he knew before he ever left, that we would take good care of her, and so we have.

My father-in-law, was a sweet loving man who loved to joke with the family. He loved it when everyone was together and having a great laugh. It made him feel good to know that no matter what, our day had been like, we could come together and enjoy each other’s company. He was a great dad, grandfather, and great grandfather. He loved those babies. I suppose that is why they had six kids of their own. Dad loved to see the kids playing at his house, and he was never too busy to get in there and play too. The years since his passing have flown by, and that makes me especially sad, because I miss him very much. I wish we could go back in time and have our loved ones back, but that just can’t be. I know you are happy in Heaven Dad, and that we will see you again, but I sure miss you in the here and now.

When I first met my future sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely, at the young age of 13 years, she was a vibrant girl, full of life, and she was what I thought of as a picky eater. Now, this didn’t upset me, but I just noticed that she would rather eat…well, what we would all today know is healthy, but still it seemed odd. What kid would rather eat chicken and salad than a cheeseburger? Actually, I can name a couple, because Jennifer wore off on my daughter, Amy Royce…so much so that I have wondered if she should have been Jennifer’s daughter, and not mine. Nevertheless, kids get traits from their aunts and uncles too, and that was the one Jennifer passed down to Amy. To my daughter Corrie Petersen, Jennifer passed down her laugh, and believe me when I say that they are identical!! I often wonder when Jennifer got there, when in fact it is Corrie.

Whether she knew it or not, Jennifer was well on her way to a life of health care, as well as a life of healthy living. She was a teeny little girl with a teeny little waist…that she still has, by the way, and yes she was a picky eater, but not is a bad way, as it turns out. It isn’t often that a young teenager has a pretty good grasp of ways to stay healthy, and I can’t say for sure that Jennifer had it all together, but at least in the diet arena, she did. As the years went on and Jennifer grew up, she had her babies, and like most women, gained a little bit of weight, but once she decided that it was time to get her life back together, she never looked back. Jennifer skies…both cross country and down hill. She snow shoes, hikes, and jogs. Her life is a flurry of activity, and it is what has kept her slender over the years.

Jennifer is also a full time nurse, in the Obstetrics department at Wyoming Medical Center, where she has worked since she was a candy striper beginning at 17 years old. So, in reality, she has been in the health care industry almost as long as I have known her, and most of our family has been blessed to have her in attendance at the births of the children and grandchildren. I would hate to have had my grandchildren come into this world with any other nurse, because we were so spoiled by the great care and advise we got from Jennifer. Nurses just don’t get better than she is. I’m sure her daughter-in-law, Ashley Parmely would agree too, since Jennifer has been there with her for the births of her daughters, and will be for the upcoming birth of her son, who will be Jennifer’s first grandson, too. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! What a blessing you are. Have a great day!! We love you!!

In the movies about the old west, you often see a gun fight. If someone got shot, the procedure to get the bullet out, was…well, painful. When we think of an operation, we think of a person being under anesthesia, and completely asleep during the entire procedure. In reality, prior to March 30, 1842, people who had to have an operation, had better have a strong constitution, because the best a doctor could do for them was to have them bite down on a stick. Now, this didn’t reduce the pain, but I suppose it lessened the noise level of the scream that the doctor knew was coming. I’m sure that surgery was seriously the last resort, and even often delayed longer than it should have been, simply because of the pain involved.

Enter, Dr Crawford Williamson Long, an American surgeon and pharmacist. Long was a bright child, graduating from the local academy at 14 years old, and continuing on to the University of Georgia in Athens. In 1835, he received his Masters Degree. Then, he began studying at Transylvania College in the fall of 1836 in Lexington, Kentucky. Long studied under Benjamin Dudley, a revered surgeon. He observed and participated in many surgeries and noted the effects of operating without anesthesia. Long transferred to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia after spending only a year at Transylvania College, and was introduced to some of the most cutting edge medical technology of the time. He received his MD degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1839.

After an 18 month internship in New York, Dr Long returned to Georgia. He took over a rural medical practice in Jefferson, Georgia in 1841. After observing the same physiological effects with Diethyl Ether that Humphry Davy had described for nitrous oxide in 1800, he used Ether for the first time on March 30, 1842 to remove a tumor from the neck of a patient, James M. Venable. He administered Sulfuric Ether on a towel and simply had the patient inhale. He performed many other surgeries using this technique over the next few years. Then, he introduced the technique to his obstetrics practice as well. Long subsequently removed a second tumor from Venable and used Ether as an anesthetic in amputations and childbirth. While Long’s use of Ether continued for quite a while, he didn’t immediately publish his findings. The results of these trials were eventually published in 1849 in The Southern Medical and Surgical Journal. It was a major advancement in surgical procedures.

General anesthesia suppresses central nervous system activity and results in unconsciousness and total lack of sensation. Sedation suppresses the central nervous system to a lesser degree, inhibiting both anxiety and creation of long-term memories without resulting in unconsciousness. Of course, Ether is no longer used, because of the dangerous side effects, but many other types of anesthesia have been developed since Ether was used. I can’t imagine just how awful it would be to have surgery without anesthesia, and I for one am glad that it was developed. My shoulder surgery would have been horrible, if it had to be done without my arm being completely numb with a newer form of medicine that kept it numb, and me comfortable all that day.

Chantel and IzabellaimageDad and MomOn the last day of the year, many people are busily planning the festivities for the evening. Others are contemplating the coming year and how they might make it better than the last. These are things that I am doing too, but I am also looking back on the year that is quickly coming to a close. Every year has it’s good things and it’s bad things. This year is no different. As the year began, I was recovering from a broken shoulder, while my niece, Chantel Balcerzak was getting used to her new role as grandma to little Izabella Siara Harman. February brought a promotion for my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock to Lieutenant with the Casper Police Department, and then the sad 1st anniversary of our mother’s passing. I couldn’t believe she had been gone a year already. March brought the 41st anniversary of my marriage to Bob Schulenberg, and the love continues to grow. It also brought the purchase of a home in northwestern Washington for our daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis.

April brought my 60th birthday, although I felt no upset by that. I have always felt that the key is to enjoy the age you are at, and I will continue to do so. May 5th brought the sad reminder that my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg has been in Heaven for 3 years now. May also brought the graduation of my grandson, Chris Corrie, Amy and meimg_8305Dad SchulenbergPetersen from the Culinary School at Sheridan College. It’s hard for me to believe that his college years are so quickly over. My daughter, Amy made the trip to Wyoming to attend the graduation, and it was so good to see her again…even if it was for such a short time. June brings the birthdays of my daughters, and these days it’s a little bit bittersweet, because Amy is so far away. My oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin went camping for her birthday, so we joined them on Casper Mountain for a birthday evening. We all had a lovely time. I just wish Amy’s family could have been there too.

July brought with it one of the biggest changes of my life, when my husband, Bob Schulenberg retired from the City of Casper. It was a day of rejoicing, because he had been ready to retire for some time now. July also brought with it, another loss…of sorts, when my granddaughter, Shai Royce moved to Washington to be near her family. It was hard on me, but I knew it was best for her, because she had been so lonely for her parents and her brother, Caalab. While we continue to miss her and the rest of her family, we are happy, because they are happy. July also brought wedding bells for my nephew, Garrett Stevens as he married his best friend, img_9127IMG_4538img_5927Kayla Smiley. August brought a beautiful new addition to our family when my niece Jessi Sawdon and her husband, Jason welcomed daughter Adelaide Ione to our family. Addi was named after Jessi’s great grandmother and Jessi’s grandmother, my mom, Collene Ione Spencer. In September, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, had skin removal surgery after losing 350 pounds. She had a bleeding issue, but she is doing well now, and we are very proud of her. September also brought with it the sadness of loss, as we said goodbye to Bob’s aunt, Linda Cole. Hers was a shock, because her passing was so unexpected.

October found my grandson, Josh Petersen actively pursuing his dream of becoming a firefighter as he took Boces classes to get a head start on the Fire Science degree he needs. It also found us celebrating with my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock, as he became the Peace Officer of the year. November brought an unusual Thanksgiving as Bob and I traveled to Ferndale, Washington to spend the holiday with Amy’s family, in a week that went by way too fast. Then, as we were on our way home, we found out about the passing of my cousin, Shirley Cameron’s husband, Shorty’s passing…another shocking passing that was very unexpected. December img_5862michelleblue-jean-brendabrought the sad reminder that my dad, Allen Spencer had been in Heaven now for 9 long years. That seems impossible to me. December also brought college graduation for my niece, Michelle Stevens, who will now start her teaching career. This was most certainly a year of ups and downs, but with the coming new year, comes the hope for a great future.

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.