babies

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For a heart surgeon, there comes a point with a heart, when the diseased part is bad enough that it can’t be fixed. No matter how hard he tries, it is going to take a miracle to save the owner of that heart. That was the place that Dr Christiaan Neethling Barnard was facing in November 1967. His patient, 54-year-old Louis Washkansky was…well, dying, with little hope of survival. Heart transplants weren’t done every day like they are these days, and Barnard had told Mr and Mrs Washkansky that the operation had an 80% chance of success, an assessment which has been criticized as misleading, but by the same token, Mr Washkansky had no chance of survival without the transplant. Then, the opportunity presented itself, in the form of accident victim, Denise Darvall.

The time had come, and on December 3, 1967, Darvall’s heart was transplanted by Dr Bernard into Washkansky. As with any new procedure, there were the inevitable risks, and while Washkansky regained full consciousness and was able to talk easily with his wife, he developed pneumonia eighteen days later and because of his compromised immune system, due largely to the anti-rejection drugs, he died eighteen days later of pneumonia, largely brought on by the anti-rejection drugs that suppressed his immune system. Dr Bernard could have given up, but he did not. His second heart transplant patient, Philip Blaiberg received his new heart in 1968, and while his life after that was not long, he did live another year and a half. Of course, these days, the heart transplant patient has a much better prognosis because of how much medical procedures have improved.

Born in Beaufort West, Cape Province, South Africa, on November 8, 1922, Bernard studied medicine and practiced for several years in his native South Africa. As a young doctor, he experimented on dogs, which I suppose might make some people angry. Nevertheless, Barnard developed a remedy for the infant defect of intestinal atresia. Intestinal atresia refers to a part of the fetal bowel that is not developed, and the intestinal tract becomes partially or completely blocked (bowel obstruction). His technique saved the lives of ten babies in Cape Town and was adopted by surgeons in Britain and the United States.

In 1955, Bernard decided to travel to the United States to further his studies. He was initially assigned further gastrointestinal work by Owen Harding Wangensteen at the University of Minnesota. Then, Bernard was introduced to the heart-lung machine, and was allowed to transfer to the service run by open heart surgery pioneer Walt Lillehei. After his study abroad, he returned to South Africa in 1958. Barnard was appointed head of the Department of Experimental Surgery at the Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. After a long and successful career, Bernard retired as head of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Cape Town in 1983 after rheumatoid arthritis in his hands ended his surgical career. Still, he could not leave surgery completely alone. He became interested in anti-aging research, and in 1986 his reputation suffered when he promoted Glycel, an expensive “anti-aging” skin cream, whose approval was withdrawn by the United States Food and Drug Administration soon thereafter. During his remaining years, he established the Christiaan Barnard Foundation, which was dedicated to helping underprivileged children throughout the world. He died on September 2, 2001 at the age of 78 in Paphos, Cyprus after an asthma attack.

My sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely is a Labor and Delivery nurse, and has been for about 40 years. I have no idea how many babies she has assisted in delivering, nor how many she has delivered herself, but I can imagine. Taking a wild guess, I would say between 20,000 and 50,000. That’s about the population of a small city. Now I could be off, but I don’t think so. I can’t say how many she has actually delivered, because they came before the doctor could get there, but I imagine there were some of those too. Jennifer has never wanted to be anything but a Labor and Delivery nurse. I have never seen anyone so focused. She knew what she wanted to do in high school and she has never waivered.

Of course, Jennifer, like everyone else, is more than her career. She is mom and grandma, or in her case, Oma. Jennifer had three sons, Barry Schulenberg, JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely, and now, she has four grandchildren, Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve Parmely. She cherishes her family, which includes, daughters-in-law, Kelli Schulenberg and Ashley Parmely. Jennifer love getting together with all of her family, but she also loves taking each of her grandchildren for a day that is all their own. They often go shopping, and of course, that includes a toy of their choosing. They love going with her, and it is a treasured special time for her too.

Another thing that Jennifer has never waivered in, is her health. Years ago, after having three children, Jennifer, like many mothers, had some extra weight to lose. She made the decision to get that weight off and get healthy, and she never waivered. Diet was a major part of her transformation, of course, but just as important was the strict exercise “routine” Jennifer had. I emphasize “routine” because, she never thought of it that way, exactly. Jennifer began to be an energetic, fast-paced, “everything” exercise enthusiast…she hiked, did yoga, skied, every exercise machine she could at the gum, you name it, Jennifer probably tried it. Like most of us, there were forms of exercise she likes better than others, but she has never gone back to a sedentary lifestyle, and she has never stopped eating healthy…that has kept her healthy for many years now. Today is Jennifer’s 60th birthday, and well…she certainly doesn’t look 60. Years of healthy living have certainly paid off. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg is truly the love of my life. God blessed me with my husband while I was still in high school. I know I’m not the only person ever to meet their future spouse in high school, High School Sweethearts can be a common term among married couples, and in fact, I personally know a number of just such couples. Our meeting was that type exactly, however. While I was still in high school, Bob wasn’t, and we attended different high schools anyway, so it wouldn’t have been that type of romance exactly…even though the schools were in the same town of Casper, Wyoming, we might never have met even if he was still in high school. No, it was God’s plan…all the way, and that makes it all the more wonderful.

As each year passes, I am more and more amazed at the number of years we have been married. At 18, you can barely consider age 50, much less fathom 46 years of marriage to this 20 year old man to whom you have just said, “I do.” We knew nothing of the world. We were barely past childhood ourselves. In fact, I can’t believe how young we looked back then…like babies. Nevertheless, God blessed me with the perfect man for me. We are largely opposites, but they say that opposites attract. I think that’s true for the most part. There are interests, beliefs, and traits that we have in common, and they are necessary, because to love someone you must also have things in common with them. I feel very blessed to have things in Common with Bob and things where we are different too. We complete each other, and that really is awesome.

Now that we have started a new chapter in our lives, namely, retirement, we have even more option to spread our wings and enjoy our new lives. Retirement is a very different time in a marriage. Many people wonder if they will be able to stand each other, because suddenly they are spending so much time together. I don’t know about other couples, but Bob and I get along very well, even though we are spending a lot more time together. Of course, the truth is we like each other. I mean, we love each other, but we also like each other. We are best friends. If a couple in a marriage aren’t friends, I think they are already in trouble. A great marriage starts out as a good friendship. I am so privileged to be married to my best friend all these years. Happy 46th anniversary to the best husband in the whole world!! I love you Bob!!

Christopher Petersen became my grandson 25 years ago today. He was the baby that changed my title from mom to grandmother. It amazes me that it has been a quarter of a century already. So much has changed, and yet it seems like it was just yesterday. From the wide-eyed little boy to the dad he is now…he has blessed us along the way, and I know that the future will be wonderful too. Chris and his fiancée, Karen have two beautiful children, Cambree and Caysen. Their life is so blessed, and that makes me so happy for them.

When I think of the little boy Chris was and how excited he was to get a brother of his own. I think Chris liked babies even then, or maybe it was because his brother, Josh was his brother. Chris wanted to help and couldn’t wait until Josh could play. That kind of kid love has remained. He still loves the playtime he has with his babies. Chris is patient and fun-loving, and that makes the kids love hanging with Daddy. Chris and Karen have that in common. They both love kids, and kid play, and they totally celebrate their family time. It makes for such a fun home, filled with lots of giggles and smiles. Cambree loves being with her daddy when he isn’t working, and Caysen is already his daddy’s snuggler whenever he gets the chance. Together, Chris and Karen are great parents, and I am so proud of them.

Chris works hard at his job at Craves, where he is a manager. His job is his means to a better life for his family, but the reality is that his family is what it’s all about. Nothing is more important than his family, and that is the way it should be. Kids grow up so fast, which is more and more evident to me when I realize that Chris is 25 years old. His kids will be the same way for him…growing up rapidly, and right before our eyes. It seems impossible that that Chris would have two kids already, but he does, and of course, with Cambree’s arrival, I passed another milestone…great grandma. I could say that it will be a long time before I become a great great grandma, but then I won’t because I know how quickly those years can fly by. I’m glad that Chris and Karen are treasuring each and every day with their babies, because they really do grow us so quickly. Today is Chris’ 25th birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

With each passing year, I find myself more and more amazed that my mom, Collene Spencer could be in Heaven for six years now. For those of us who miss her very much, that thought feels sad, but for my mom, who loved the Lord so much and was excited to see Heaven, these have been wonderful years, that seemed like seconds, I’m sure. Each day for her is now spent in rejoicing, because that was always what my mom wanted. She never desired anything more than to worship God and bask in His presence. Like one of the songs we used at her funeral, and those of many others now, tells us, “We can only imagine what it will be like!!”

Mom enjoyed many things in her lifetime. She liked to travel, go camping, celebrate the holidays, and spend time with family, but more than anything, my mom loved to spend time in the Word. We bought he a Kindle when they first came out, and loaded it with Christian books and the Bible. It made it so much easier for her to read, because it was so light and easy to hold. She had dozens of books at her disposal, and she loved that. She spent her days reading and communing with God while her family was all at work. Anyone who knew her will tell you that my mom was “All about bringing others to the Lord.” She loved people, and didn’t want anyone to be lost, but she really wanted people to know how much God loves them. She never stopped telling others about God’s love for them, and that is to her credit. I can’t begin to count the number of people she led to the Lord in her lifetime.

Of the things on this Earth, the most important to mom was her family. She treasured each and every new baby that was added to her lineage, and I know she can’t wait to meet the ones who have arrived after her homegoing. She also treasured the new spouses and partners. There was a special place in her heart for each of these new additions. When someone loves one of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and beyond, that makes them awesome in Mom’s eyes…and that makes them as much hers as if she had given birth to them. There was always room in Mom’s heart for more loved ones. She loved watching her family grow with each new addition. She considered each one perfect. It s such a wonderful way to look at people, and one we should all incorporate into our own lives. When I think of the life lessons my mom gave us, these things are among the greatest. As I look forward to my own homegoing someday, I can only imagine just how wonderful it will be, and as I continue my life on Earth, it is my desire to live my life in such a way as to make my mom and my dad proud of the child they raised, and the woman I have become. I miss my mom very much, and I am forever grateful for the life she and my dad gave me. Happy 6th anniversary of your homegoing, Mom. We love and miss you very much and can’t wait to see you again.

My grand niece, Hattie Parmely is the second child of my nephew Eric Parmely and his wife, Ashley. Hattie has two sisters and a brother, and the family lives on a farm west of Casper, Wyoming. Hattie is a gentle little girl who loves the animals on the farm…especially the babies. She and her siblings have learned so much about life in the short time they have lived. They have watched the miracle of birth and snuggled the little babies…from goats, to pigs, to chicks. They have helped muck stalls and watched the milking process…both goats and cows.

Hattie and her siblings, like all the other school children in the United States and much of the world, had a shortened year in school last year, because of Covid-19, and that has changed their lives in many ways. Like many parents, Hattie’s mom and dad have decided to re-evaluate their children’s education, and have come to the conclusion that with the inadequate and often corrupt way the schools are teaching the children, as well as the virus that is still out there, the best way for them to properly educate their children is to do it at home. So, Hattie and her sister, Reagan and brother, Bowen will be studying under their mom, as will her sister, Maeve when she is older. The will have lots of “field trips” out to the barns too, of course, which doesn’t upset them at all. They love life on the farm, and they learn so much there too.

Hattie is a girly girl, unless she is helping out in the barns, and I can imagine her doing that in a dress too. She likes frilly things, glitzy things, and colorful things, but she loves her cowboy boots too. In fact, she might be seen wearing a frilly dress with her cowboy boots. Still, these days, that is the style, so she is right there on that. I think Hattie likes being one of the middle children. She gets to have an older sister, and two younger siblings. It’s the best of both worlds…a sister to show her the ropes, and little ones to help teach.

Hattie loves to ride her bike, and living in the country, they get to go on lots of bicycle rides without there being too many cars. She and her siblings ride as much as possible, and they are all very good at it. They love the outdoors, and being very active, and the country life is perfect for them to be able to do all their outdoor activities. Today is Hattie’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

New babies are always so much fun for a family to receive. They bring so much joy to the family. Recently, our family was blessed with a new addition when my grand niece, Katy Balcerzak and her partner, Dylan Herr had an adorable baby boy named Max Robert Herr. Max was born on June 14, 2020, at 5:41pm after a 17 hour labor that ended in a rather dangerous and terrifying delivery proceeded by 3½ hours of pushing. During the delivery, Katy spiked a high temperature, and little Max’s heart rate slowed, but the Lord took care of them, and they came through with flying colors. We are very thankful for the happy ending of that labor that brought them their sweet Max, who weighed in at 8 pounds 14 0.ounces, and was 21¼ inches long.

While Max made a dramatic entrance into the world, his life since then has been much more relaxed. He is a sweet, easy going baby, who is very mellow and loves to be held…preferably all the time. Right now, he loves to sleep…so much so, that his parents have to wake him up to eat most of the time. Max loves his daddy very much, but at this point, he is a mama’s boy who calms right down when Katy picks him up. He loves his mommy’s voice, and their bond is one that comes from spending nine months connecting to each other. Such a sweet bond, between mother and son.

Max is been receiving visitors from time to time. Dylan’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law have come by to meet him and get a few cuddles. And Katy’s mom is visiting right now, and Katy says she is the “Baby Whisperer.” Grandma’s do have a knack when it comes to their grandbabies. Most of Katy’s family live in Casper Wyoming, so many of us have not had a chance to meet little Max yet, but we are all looking forward to meeting him very soon. They are planning a visit to Casper over the 4th of July. In the meantime, we are very much enjoying all the pictures that Katy and Dylan are sharing with us. Max, for his part, is taking everything in stride. He had decided that he is a happy, social baby, dazzling his visitors with cuddles and smiles, and everyone loves it. Welcome to the world Max Robert Herr!! We love you already!!

I have four sisters, and three brothers-in-law. My husband Bob had four sisters and one brother. He still has three sisters, his brother, a sister-in-law, and two brothers-in-law. We are missing his sister, Marlyce, who died of cancer on August 13, 1989 at just 39 years old. Marlyce was the first sibling death any of us had experienced, and it left a large hole in our lives. It just seemed impossible, like a horrible nightmare. How could our sweet Marlyce be gone? I suppose that disbelief at her passing, showed the innocence we all had about life, even though we weren’t seriously young. There are just people you don’t expect to lose…at least not until much later in life, and siblings definitely fall into that category. When Marlyce passed away, she took with her a portion of the joy the family had always had. She was always so sweet, and filled with a desire to help others, and make people happy.

One of the greatest events in Marlyce’s life was the day she became an aunt. She always loved babies, and each new niece or nephew was a treasure. Of all the nieces and nephews, there was only one she did not get to meet, Eric Parmely. And of course, she never got to meet all the grand nieces and grand nephews, or her great grand niece…sadly, because she would have loved every one of them. Marlyce’s developmental disabilities didn’t keep her from being able to hold the babies, and play with the little ones. She loved them as if they were her own babies. I suppose that if her circumstances had been different, maybe she could have been a mom, but that was not to be.

Marlyce went to Wood’s School as a child. Wood’s was a school for the developmentally disabled back then. These days the school district tries to incorporate these students into the public school system. I like that, whenever it is possible, but Marlyce had a great education anyway, and then they helped her to find a job. Marlyce worked several places, and always liked going to work. She never wanted to miss work…not for illness, holidays, or vacations…except maybe Christmas. Marlyce loved being needed. Baking cookies, holding babies, working, and knitting were things that made her feel useful. What she never knew was that she was so much more than those things to us. We would have loved her even if she couldn’t make things, work, or even hold the babies. Marlyce holds a special place in our hearts, and she always will. Today would have been Marlyce’s 69th birthday. I can’t believe that she has been gone almost 30 years now, but I miss her like it was yesterday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Marlyce. We love and miss you.

Years ago, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely made the decision to get healthy and stay that way. She was never really at a place where she was very overweight or unhealthy, but she was done letting that sneak into her life, and it never did sneak up on her again. Jennifer was always a pretty healthy eater, and even more so these days. She is very vigilant in how she eats and how she cooks.

Of course, eating well is not going to be enough to keep a person healthy, because without exercise, the body deteriorates. I think most of us know that, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is faithful to exercise to keep their body in shape. Jennifer is the exception to that rule over the long run, because she is always doing some form of exercise. She walks, jogs, rides a bicycle, skis, yoga, and many other forms of exercise. After having three boys, her waist is still probably the same 25 inches, or less, that it was before she had children. That is all due to Jennifer’s dedication to healthy living, and it has served her well all these years. She has been able to do whatever she wanted to do.

Jennifer is a labor and delivery nurse, at Wyoming Medical Center, and I can’t tell you how many babies she has helped to deliver, but I can tell you that it could be in the thousands. So many mothers who were comforted through their baby’s birth. So many babies she held in her arms in their first moments of life. Oh the miracles she has been blessed to see. It is beyond amazing, and I know that Jennifer feels very blessed to have been a part of it for so many years.

These days, Jennifer has even better reasons to stay in good shape. She has three little grandchildren that love riding their bicycles to the park with their Oma. Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen Parmely love hanging out and having fun, and Jennifer feels very blessed to have these little ones in her life…and very blessed that she is in shape to really enjoy them and the rest of her life. Today in Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Keep on keeping on!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Air travel has changed a lot over the years, especially where babies are concerned. These days babies are placed in car seats just like they are when traveling in cars, but in years past, that was not the case. Of course, the invention of the car seat has saved countless lives in car and air travel. Nevertheless, years ago people didn’t have car seats. In those days babies were often held on their parents laps, but even that wasn’t as odd as the way babies traveled in the mid-1950s.

It was thought that babies needed to be able to sleep on the trip, and so the planes had a “cradle” that attached to the baggage area, and the bed folded down. Called skycots, the beds allowed the baby to lay down and maybe sleep through the flight. If you have ever traveled with a baby, you know that if they get fussy because of things like ear pressure from being so high, it is going to be miserable for everyone. Air stewards were actually tasked with attending to the children during the flight. The babies were pretty much in the skycot for the duration of the trip. It was almost like putting your baby in the luggage bin…not something most of us would even consider these days. Parents were required to hold their baby during take-off and landing, of course, because the babies were not buckled into the skycots. I don’t suppose they would have liked it if they were, but there really wasn’t a way to do that anyway, so they were just placed in the sky cot like a cradle or crib. To me it also seems an odd way to do things, because what of the baby who could sit up or climb over the side? The whole thing would make the average parent worry, but in those days it was just the way it was…just like having your kids in the car unbuckled…which was completely normal when I was a kid.

While pictures seemed to show the happy babies relaxing in their sky cot, the reality is that planes in the 50s were noisy, and turbulent. My guess is that the pictures taken before takeoff, were not exactly how the flights went. In addition, many babies are not too keen on the idea of some stranger taking care of them on the plane, especially since they can’t always see their parents. Parents gave their babies a bottle of milk in an effort to appease them and lull them to sleep. I wonder just how well that worked.

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