birthday

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Working in a fast-food restaurant is often how someone gets started in a career in the culinary arts. Of course, that is how lots of kids get started in the work world too. My niece, Andrea Beach is an excellent cook and baker, and she really wanted to be a chef and even wanted to go to Culinary School, but like many people with that dream, she later became discontented with that line of work. Once you have been around restaurant life, you know that you will be working long hours, late at night, for people who are seldom satisfied, and somehow always think it is the fault of the chef. You might think I am talking about a chef that isn’t very good at his or her job, but I’m not. That is how it is for every chef or cook I know. People go out for a meal, and they somehow seem to think that if they don’t complain about the meal, they aren’t sophisticated enough…and I’m very serious about that.

This was the world Andrea found herself, and she suddenly knew that it was time for a change. So, this single mom took a leap of faith and switched careers. Now she works at Ace Hardware. This was a career move sent to Andrea by God…literally. She loves her job, and her stress levels have dropped dramatically. The hours are better, which has made it possible for her to spend more time with her son, Topher who is a junior in high school. That last year of high school is so important to a student, and Topher is such a good kid. He and his mom ae best friends. She loves that the hours are better, as is the lower stress atmosphere.

Now that Andrea’s stepdad, Mike Reed is getting ready to retire, Andrea and Topher are looking at this being their last year in Rawlins. Now that her mom, Caryl Reed and Mike, are moving to Casper, Andrea is ready to start a new life in Casper as well. Andrea is listening to see what God has in store for her next. Planning a move to a new city without a job or anything can be stressful, but Caryl and Mike have an apartment above their barn on the ranch they are moving to, so Andrea and Topher will have a place to live right away. Of course, a lot will depend on what Topher’s plans are for the next year too. College could take him a totally different direction, so time will tell. Nevertheless, Andrea knows that she wants to be in Casper, at least for the near future. After that…well, who knows. She is listening to hear Gods plans for her and Topher’s future. She loves the Lord and trusts in Him completely. In the very near future, Andrea is looking forward to the vacation trip to Montana and Yellowstone with her mom, Caryl and Topher. That should be a great time for all three of them. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My uncle, Larry Byer was a really good musician, but that was not something I recall from years of hearing him play. It is something I’ve been told over the years. I never occurred to me that so many people in my family were talented musicians, but apparently there were a number of them. Uncle Larry played the guitar, the mandolin, and the piano. My grandfather, his dad, George Byer played the mandolin and the violin. My dad, Al Spencer and my Uncle George both played guitars. They had a regular band, and their jam sessions were like a big party at the Byer house. I knew that my dad, Al Spencer and his siblings were talented musicians, because I was told that over the years, but Uncle Larry is on my mom, Collene Spencer’s side of the family, and somehow, I just didn’t know. It’s possibly because by the time I was born, Uncle Larry was married, and starting a family of his own with his wife, Jeanette Morton. In fact, their son, Larry is just nine months younger than I am. These days, most of these band members are playing in Heaven, and I would sure love to hear that music.

Uncle Larry was always a guy with a great sense of humor. He loved a good joke, and maybe that was what my Aunt Jeanette first saw in her husband of 55 years, before he went home to be with the Lord. Uncle Larry loved a good joke and wasn’t above pulling pranks either. I suppose he came by it honestly. I think just about everyone in my family…from both sides are tricksters and pranksters, and it had to come from somewhere, so I think there are a number of the aunts and uncles who had a hand in it. My mom was born between the two brothers in the family, and so she got a double portion of the pranks boys tend to play. Personally, I think she totally loved being the girl between the boys, because they included her in all the mischief.

Like all of my veteran loved ones, I am very proud that my Uncle Larry served in the Korean War. He didn’t talk much about his time in the service, but like most of the men of the war eras, he was proud to serve his country. Uncle Larry was an honorable man and an honorable soldier. After that he came home and started a family with his best friend and wife, Jeanette Morton. They married on February 11, 1956, and their first child, Larry was born on February 9, 1957. Tina followed on November 12, 1958. Uncle Larry worked for many years at Texaco Refinery, and when they closed down there, he transferred to Louisiana, until his retirement. Today would have been Uncle Larry’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Larry. We love and miss you very much.

My sister, Cheryl Masterson is the oldest of the five girls that my parents had. For me, the second child, maybe more than the others, Cheryl was a mentor of sorts. As the sister who was just two years younger, following the footsteps of my big sister was just what I wanted to do. She was always the cool one. She could dance, and I was really awkward in that department, no matter how hard I tried to learn the latest dance steps from her, I just didn’t have the moves. She never ridiculed me, which she might have been justified in doing, but rather just showed me again.

Today, my sister is once again becoming a mentor, as we move through these chaotic times in the history of our nation. The worse things get, the more Cheryl encourages all of my sisters and me to press into God. While things seem to be heading in the wrong direction, we all know that God has a plan for us all. We are seeing such a great turnaround in our nation. The faith of many is being tested, and it is up to us to find out where we are in our faith life’s. Cheryl is very rooted and grounded in her faith. She is in the word pretty much every free moment she has.

Cheryl is also very family oriented. Her whole family comes to her house to have dinner on Tuesdays, and they have a wonderful time. Cheryl has five children, 15 grandchildren (two who live in Heaven now), and six great grandchildren. Of course, they can’t always make it to her house, but they try to get there. Her youngest granddaughter, Aleesia Spethman, is the granddaughter who is after her heart. They are two if a kind, and they love to spend quality time together. In fact, Cheryl and Aleesia are so close that they try to spend time together almost every day. These are sweet times for my sister, who knows that the years go by too quickly and there will come a day when Aleesia is more interested in friends than spending time with her grandma. Nevertheless, Cheryl has been a wonderful mentor to Aleesia too, and that will go with Aleesia all of her life. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Our aunt, Charlys Schulenberg is such a sweet, beautiful person, inside and out. She is friendly and loving, and always wants to make sure everyone who comes to visit is sufficiently spoiled. Aunt Charlys is a great cook and makes things you won’t get anywhere else. If you leave her house hungry, it’s your own fault. Aunt Charlys and her husband, Bob’s uncle, Butch Schulenberg live in Forsyth, Montana, so we don’t get to see them often, but it is always a special treat when we do. They are both very interesting people with many stories to tell about their childhoods and the events that took place in those years. History doesn’t just happen in the Old West or centuries ago, history can be events that just happened a few days ago, or as was the case with Uncle Butch, and Aunt Charlys, the years when they were kids, and well as stories about their kids’ lives, which is always interesting.

Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch have a very nice place in Forsyth, Montana on the edge of town, overlooking the Yellowstone River. I can’t think of a more peaceful place than that. It is quiet and the views from their home are spectacular. It is a beautiful place, and very peaceful. We loved it and wished our visit could have been longer. Our visit was such a great blessing to us. Aunt Charlys is truly one of the nicest people I know.

Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch are all about family. They love their three kids, Tadd, Andi Kay, and Heath very much. They also have seven grandkids, and some of them are in sports, which means trips to watch them play…and nobody has to ask them twice. They are ready to go. They love watching the games and cheering for their grandkids, as well as all the local teams in Forsyth. Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch are very community minded, and they are an asset to their community. Everyone loves them, and they love the people of their community too. I just wish they lived a little closer so we could visit more often. Today is Aunt Charlys’ birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Charlys!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Maeve Parmely is turning three years old today. She is a child of the Covid era, and for much of her early live was only around her family and grandparents. The situation has made her a little shy around people, even extended family. Now we are having monthly family dinners so that Maeve and her siblings, Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen can all get to know us better. The older children warmed up to us quickly, but Maeve was the baby, and to her, we were “Stranger Danger.” While we wanted Maeve to warm up to us, we also knew that it was probably better for her to have time to learn who we are to her before she just allows us to get close. I never felt like she should be rushed, even though, I wanted to get to know her.

These days, I am finding that Maeve and I actually have some things in common. At our dinner a couple of months ago, Maeve was talking to her mom, and she glanced am me, and noticed my fingernails, which are always polished, and usually have a decorative sticker on them. She stopped talking immediately, and I asked her if she liked them. She said yes, and suddenly, we had our own thing to talk about. We actually polished her nails that night, but we didn’t have any decorative stickers. This week, at our dinner, I’m going to surprise her with some stickers for her nails. I’m so excited about this new treat that I can do for her. While Maeve is rather a girly girl, she can keep up with her sisters and brother in the “rough and tumble” area too. And this girly girl even likes camo. She is able to do pretty much anything she wants to do…including telling the cows what to do.

While Maeve is a bubbly girl when she, she is very quiet around strangers. Her sisters and brother have seen that bubbly side of her, as well as her temper, if they get on the wrong side of her. It is hard to accept that I am considered a stranger, and I am working to see if I can change her view of me. While Maeve may always be a very private person, I think she probably has a lot to say when you get to know her. Maeve will be going to preschool next year, and I think being around other children will really bring her out of her shell. Today is Maeve’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Maeve. Have a great day!! We love you!!

My son-in-law, Travis Royce is always willing taking on something new in the yard. Whatever my daughter, Amy Royce can dream up, Travis is willing to make a reality for her. He even goes so far as to indulge her “need” to buy flowers. Travis is more of a lawn guy. He loves mowing their lawn and loves dressing up the yard part of their home into a beautiful sanctuary, and together, they have definitely succeeded. When we are at their house, the back yard if everyone’s favorite place to be. It’s quiet, peaceful, and relaxing. I love their back yard. The kids, Shai Royce and Caalab Royce, have even helped to make the back yard wonderful They got them some heat units so that when the nights are a little chilly, they can still enjoy the patio.

Travis and Amy have found their own little getaway. They love to go to a little town in Washington called Ilwaco. It is a quaint little town on the Washington coast. They love to stroll through the cute little town and along the trail to Cape Disappointment State Park. The lighthouse there is of particular interest to them. Travis always looks like he is so at peace when he is standing there looking out to the ocean. It’s not really so odd, because he was born in San Diego, California and went to school in Puyallup, Washington. The West Coast is really in his blood, and anyone who knows him can easily see that.

Travis is an innovative man, who is quick thinking and can be very funny. In fact, he loves to be funny. I have always loved that about him, because his humor fills my daughter’s home and life with laughter…and let’s face it…what could be better than a life with laughter in it? I have never been around someone, quite like Travis before…but, when I think about it, he really is one of a kind, with the possible exception on his son, Caalab, who is so much like his dad that it’s uncanny.

Travis has been a part of our family now for almost 27 years, and he has been such a blessing to us. There is no greater blessing for a mother, than to know that her daughter’s husband is her soulmate and best friend. I have been very blessed to know that Travi is exactly that for Amy, and always will be. Today is Travis’ birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

by guest writer – Brenda Schulenberg

Caryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…over 47 years ago, when she married my brother, Bob!!! Little did any of us know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg family. Most of us don’t really remember too much of life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family without her as a part of it.

In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of Caryn’s grandchildren have a big place in her heart. She really enjoys being a mother and grandma…and in 2018, Caryn became a great grandma. She now has two great grandchildren and another due in October of this year. She loves the time she gets to spend with them.

On October 14, 2018, Caryn’s faith in God was brought to life. On that day her husband Bob, my brother, suffered a heart attack. We were all very scared and thanks to Caryn’s faith in God, some very fast responders and some miracles too, Bob made a full recovery. Not that they needed it, but Bob and Caryn now realize how special they are to each other.

Through the years, and as both sets of parents aged, Caryn was the primary care giver for all four parents…hers and Bob’s. It was tough on all of us to lose them, but they are in a far better place now. Also in October 2013, when I got sick Caryn saved my life by convincing me that I had to go to the hospital.

Caryn has always enjoyed bowling. She and Bob also like to go on walks and hikes when the weather permits. Bob and Caryn enjoy traveling for their annual hiking/anniversary trip to Thermopolis and to the Black Hills. They also traveled for bowling tournaments too.

Caryn spends time focusing on her health and my brother Bob’s. Caryn always has been very aware of how important good health is for all of us, but now that she is not having to care for all of our parents and work, she has been focused on herself for once…and she has been very successful in this area! Caryn had foot surgery this past year and as you can imagine she did not let that hold her back on the things she likes to do.

In May 2019 Caryn started a new journey…retirement! She loves it. I’m sure Caryn like everyone else that is retired finds herself very busy with traveling, hiking, her great grandchildren, and of course blogging!!!! Caryn has also been able to do some traveling with her sisters to visit family.

Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best sisters-in-law (I consider her my sister) that I could ever ask for. Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!

Some men are Boy Dads, which in no way means that they wouldn’t be good with girls. Some men are Girl Dads, which in no way means that they wouldn’t be good with boys. the truth is that any good dad can be a good dad to boys or to girls, but there is one thing that I think my sisters and I would all agree on with our dad, Allen Spencer. While he would have been a great dad to boys, his girls needed him to be our dad. Maybe a girl dad or a boy dad is just blessed with the gift of one or the other, because they have a particular way with one or the other.

Our home was filled with so much love and dad understood the needs of girls…like giving up the bathroom quickly so we could get all dolled up. He understood that when camping, the fire needed to be kept going…”to keep the bears away.” There were so many other things that Dad instinctively knew about girls and our girly ways, and he always made us feel loved, special, and safe. We were his princesses, and Dad loved all his princesses and much as he loved his queen, our mom Collene Spencer. Yes, our dad was definitely a Girl Dad, but it was we, his girls, who were blessed because he was our Girl Dad.

Dad did all the normal “dad things” that all dads do, like working hard every day to support his family, taking us on more vacations that almost any of our classmates got to go on, and I’m not bragging, just stating a fact. Dad loved to travel, and he loved this country; and he wanted his girls to be able to see as much of it as possible, because there is no greater nation on earth, except God’s chosen nation…Israel, and I think he would have loved to take us there too. For our dad, the greatest gift he could give his girls is the gift of faith in Jesus as our Savior. Faith was something he was given as a child, and I remember reading his letters home from World War II, written to his mom, Anna Spencer, in which he and his mother encouraged each other with God’s promises, given to us all in the Bible. Dad was very protective of his mom too. She was another of the women in his life who were blessed to know the love and protective nature that was always our dad, her son.

Dad went home to Heaven on December 12, 2007, and we miss him every day. There was so much more to Dad than the things he gave us or the special way we were treated, there was the love that dad gave his girls. Dad may have been blessed to be a Girl Dad, but it was really his girls who were blessed, because he was our dad. Today would have been Dad’s 98th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. Have a great party with Mom and the rest of the family. We can’t wait to see you all again. We love and miss you very much.

My grandnephew, Zack Spethman is the second child of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve Spethman. Zack is his older brother, Xander’s big little brother…standing several inched taller than Xander. Nevertheless, the height thing has never really been a big deal to them. They are best friends, and Zack hangs out with Xander and all Xander’s friends. Zack is so easy to get along with that for Xander he seems more like a friend, and for Xander’s friends, Zack is one of the guys.

As much as Zack likes to hang out with the guys, Zack really is a homebody. and is very comfortable in his own company. I can totally relate to that, because I am much the same. I think it comes from being a deep thinker. We tend to spend a lot of time in our own head…thinking things over, dreaming our own dreams, and planning the future. A person like that really likes, and needs, quiet time by himself. Many people don’t understand a “homebody/comfortable in his own company” kind of person, especially when, like Zack, they are also very much able to be very social…and I’ll admit that it is an unusual combination. Most people who are homebodies, are also introverts, and they really don’t want to be in social situations, but Zack is totally comfortable in either situation. He is really not an introvert at all, but rather a guy with a lot on his mind.

Zack got into a welding class this year and has really come into his own. His dad told me that it gives him a reason to go to school. He has got into welding and is really loving it. That reminds me of my dad, his great grandpa, Allen Spencer, who was also a welder. It seems to be in their blood. Zack’s cousin, Garrett Stevens also took after his grandpa and is a welder. It’s a good career move, if that’s what Zack chooses to do.

Zack and his friends, like most kids these days, like to play video games, and air soft gun hunting games. Paintball is like hand-to-hand combat, I suppose, but without the death factor. They used to use paintball guns, but I’m told it hurts some, so now they use air soft guns. Zack and his siblings, Xander, Isaac, and Aleesia have all been trained on guns and shooting. They know safety and have a healthy respect for life and the dangers of being careless with a gun. They hunt and the boys have all passed hunter safety courses (Aleesia is too young)., so even though they don’t shoot at people with a gun, the air soft gun is a fun way to do something a little different, and they love it. Today is Zack’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my mom, Collene Spencer got married, she and my dad, Allen Spencer, for their honeymoon, moved to Superior, Wisconsin. While mom grew up in a big family, and knew how to cook, moving to a new area was a way to experience new foods. Mom was a little lonely when she first moved to Wisconsin, but when she arrived, she found her new best friend, her sister-in-law, Doris Spencer. They actually lived across the yard from each other. There wasn’t an alley between them, just a fence. It was a very cozy place for the two families, and as the kids came along, it made it easy to play without worrying about the little ones getting out into the street.

During the frequent luncheons Aunt Doris and my mom had, Mom saw that Aunt Doris was an amazing cook, and she loved many of the recipes Aunt Doris made, and so she asked for these recipes. Our whole family grew to love those dishes too which Aunt Doris continued to make for us whenever we visited in the years after we moved to Wyoming. We usually went out for dinner when we were there, but there were three recipes she made and all of us loved, and still love today. Those recipes were Stuffed Tomatoes (Aunt Doris’ special version, which I still can’t resist) and the Carrot/Chicken Salad on Lettuce with Picnic Sticks (crunchy potato sticks), the third was Chicken Noodle Casserole. It was similar to Tuna Noodle Casserole, and while I love Tuna Noodle Casserole, my sister Cheryl Masterson thinks the Chicken Noodle Casserole was way better!! Those were Aunt Doris’s recipes. She made them up or greatly improved on an old recipe she knew of.

Trips to visit Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill, were always special. They had a big house, and we had a great time. Aunt Doris and Uncle Bill always gave our parents their room. My sisters and I were never sure where they slept, but I almost think it might have been cots in the basement. Cheryl and our cousin, Pam were best friends, so Cheryl slept in Pam’s room. The rest of us slept in various places, mostly in the bus our Uncle Bill had converted into a motorhome. They could have had us stay in a motel, but they wanted us close, so we had more time to visit. The upper level of their home had been turned into a rental, and there were various renters in there, but if it was empty, we stayed there.

We often got to Superior, late at night…sometimes waking them up. It didn’t matter, because when we arrived, they would all get up and Aunt Doris would make us all a little snack before everyone settled into bed. Of course, we were probably up for quite a while before we were finally able to settle down. We laughed and talked continuously with Aunt Doris because she made everything fun!! She and Mom together just had so much fun. They were forever best friends. Aunt Doris had a beautiful home, and yet she was very tolerant of our noise and nonsense. We don’t ever remember her ever yelling at us or getting upset with us…Ever!! She loved us and she was always genuinely glad to see us. We all loved Aunt Doris so much that even after she and Uncle Bill divorced, we never felt like she was no longer our aunt. In fact, when our dad became ill in Canada, my sisters Caryl, Alena, Allyn, and I went up to be with him, our mom, and sister, Cheryl. Allyn needed a copy of her birth certificate to enter Canada (Pre-passport requirement). We needed to get on the road, so we had it sent to Aunt Doris. We got to her house at around 4:00am, and without even knocking on the door, she knew we were there. She got up and made us breakfast…a big breakfast!! Aunt Doris was and is always the same with us. She is our aunt, and we love each other. For her and for us, that has always remained the same. And it always will!! Today is Aunt Doris’ 98th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

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