blessed

Have you ever wondered what things you might change if you could just turn back time? I can think of a number of things I would change, and I can think of many things that I would never change too. Things like my husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are definitely in the “I wouldn’t change these things at all” category. My religious beliefs and career choices fall in that category as well. I have lived a blessed life. Of that fact there is not doubt. I had wonderful parents and in-laws, as well as sisters, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, nieces, and nephews too. My aunts, uncles, and cousins are precious to me. Yes, I have been greatly blessed. In these things, I would never choose to turn back time.

Of course, we have all made mistakes in life. I think the ones that tend to haunt us the most are the things we didn’t say, when we could have. Or we might regret the things we did say, when we might have kept quiet, or said something different. Also, we might regret the time we might have spent with those we care about, but we allowed our busy lives to dictate our time, or the lack thereof. When it pertains to those we love, like parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles, we all have wished that we had spent more time. Of course, as kids, and even as adults, there always seemed to be more time for these things later…until there wasn’t. When they are gone, we finally see just how unimportant that important thing we needed to do, really was. Of course, communication goes both ways, but some people really warrant an extra effort. Unfortunately, they don’t always let us know that they needed more of our time. They don’t want to intrude, I suppose.

If I could turn back time, I would go see my parents and in-laws more than I did. I would call and talk to siblings, siblings-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins more. I have found that for those who are online, Facebook, texting, and Messenger have helped to fill the gaps. For me, it is far easier to text or write things down, because believe it or not, I am a bashful person. I can carry on a conversation, however, and I really should do that, so I don’t regret still another “shoulda, woulda, coulda” later in my life. I guess what I am getting at is that we all need to consider the things that are important to us, and make sure that we pay those important things enough attention. That way, maybe, “If I could turn back time” could be just another song lyrics, and not a personal regret.

My grand-nephew, Nick Olsen, who joined our family, when he married my grand-niece, Siara Harman, is truly right where he should be. I think he was destined to be a husband and father, and now, with the recent birth of his sweet Alec Todd Olsen…Nick and Siara are parents. Nick is a wonderful daddy to little Alec, and can often be seen holding him, and the picture is beautiful. Alec loves his daddy so much, even at this early stage in his life. Both Alec and Siara feel very blessed to have Nick in their lives, and he feels blessed to have them in his.

Nick is a quiet man. That’s ok, because his face shows his feelings very well. When Nick looks at Siara, you can see how much he loves his beautiful bride. And when Nick looks at Alec, you can see the great love he has for him and the joy he feels from being a daddy. Not every man has such an expressive face, but Nick certainly does. Or maybe, a lot of men mask their faces, so you can’t see how they feel. I think that it’s very sweet that Nick expresses his feelings like that. I think Siara likes it too.

Nick and Siara make such a cute couple. He is very tall, and she is very short. I think they both knew from the day they met, that they would be together for the rest of their lives. Nick is the type of man who will always be there for his family. He will protect them, provide for them, and love them for all time. It is written all over his face. Siara and Alec are very blessed to have him.

Nick is a Seattle Seahawks fan, while Siara is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Since they are both very into football, I suppose that could get to be a battle of the rivals, although I don’t think these two teams are arch rivals. It makes me wonder if little Alec will follow his daddy’s team or his mommy’s team. I suppose he will root for both for a while, because it is my guess that he will love to watch the games as much as his parents do. For Nick, I’m sure this will become another father/son bonding moment, and that is very cool. Nick’s future is bright indeed. Today is Nick’s birthday. Happy birthday Nick!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Not everyone can say that they were blessed to have two amazing women be their moms, but I can. My mom and my mother-in-law were both so instrumental in my life, and because of them, I am the woman I am today. My mother, Collene Spencer raised five daughters, Cheryl Masterson, me, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, in that order. Sometimes I must say, I’m amazed we didn’t driver her crazy. It wasn’t fighting as much as it was the noisy laughter that went along with playing…loudly. And the little girl giggles. Many people have wished and even told their children to quiet down, because the laughter was getting too loud, and our parents did too, but as often as not, the laughter was encouraged…and even instigated by our parents. They loved having a house filled with joy and laughter, and well…ours certainly was. I recall the many forts we built, the messes we made playing house…all over the living room, the tree house in the back yard, that wasn’t as much tree house and it was just tree, but we liked to climb up there anyway. The things five girls can come up with are sometimes wild, but Mom was a patient person.

After I was married, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg also became Mom. She was a different kind of person than my mom was, but her qualities were no less endearing. Living in the country, and having a garden, made canning a common project, and I had never really done any of that, although my mom knew how. I remember the big canning sessions and the in-laws’ house. We worked and talked and especially, we laughed. Everyone had a great time, and we came home with provisions for the family. My mother-in-law, try as she might, never could quite win me over to the idea of knitting, crocheting, and sewing as an everyday way of life, not to mention the marathon Wednesday grocery shopping event, and maybe that was a disappointment to her, but if it was, she never said so and never made me feel like she was disappointed in me. She always made me feel like I was not just her daughter-in-law, but really her daughter. I was always amazed at the wonderful things she made, and thankful that my family always benefitted from her beautiful crafts.

I have always felt blessed to have the moms I did, and now, with them both in Heaven, I find myself missing them very much. It seems impossible that they could have been gone from us for so long now, Every day I miss them and wish that I could visit Heaven for an afternoon to see them and my two dads, as well as all the other loved ones who have gone on ahead. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven to my two moms, I love and miss you both very much. And happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there.

The longer we are married, the more blessed I feel with my soulmate. And…I’m not the only one that is blessed by my husband. Bob is a mechanic…through and through. For years before he had his own garage, we went to his parents house so he could work on cars there. When we bought our current house, it didn’t have a garage either, but it had enough room in back to build one, so we did. It was strange for him to simply have to go out in the back yard to get to the garage where he was working on someone’s car, but it made him very happy. In fact, I can’t think of a “gift” Bob has enjoyed more, or gotten more use out of than his garage. Most people would not even consider the garage to be a gift, but for Bob, it really was. No longer would he have to stand out in the wind and cold to work on a car, or make a trip to his parents’ house to work on a car. He had a place of his own to do that.

Bob has been working on the cars of his friends and family for as ling as I’ve known him. People often ask him, or me, if he ever gets tired of it. The answer is always quick, “No, he likes it. It makes him happy.” Most people want to come home after a long day at work and just relax, but not Bob. There’s lots of time to relax after it get dark. I suppose that Bob is of the “make hay while the sun shines” generation. After a long day at work, Bob would often put in another couple of hours out in the garage. Finally, he found that he had too much to do to waste time going to work anymore. That was a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t changed his mind about that one bit. He likes working for himself much better!!

After his retirement, I think lots of people thought Bob was just going to park in front of the television set and fade away. They were wrong. Bob’s work continued..it just changed locations…and bosses. No he simply walks out the back door to go to “work,” if that’s what you choose to call it. As to his boss, I’ve tried to tell him that I’m his boss now, but he doesn’t believe me. In fact, he seems to think that he is his boss, and I supposed he is right, but I don’t think I’ll ever admit to that. It doesn’t matter anyway, since he is doing what makes him happy…no matter who is bossing him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! I’ll love you forever and ever.

My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg, like her mother before her was blessed to be able to share her birthday with her first great grandchild, Chris Petersen. It was something the two of them really liked, and over the years, many joint birthday parties were held in their honor. It was a tradition that started when Chris’ mom, Corrie Petersen, my oldest daughter, shared her birthday with Joann’s mom, Nettie Knox. The pictures we have of those moments are something Chris and Corrie will treasure forever, just as their were treasures for their great grandmothers.

Unfortunately, that tradition will not be carried on through the next generation, because while my grandson Chris and his fiancé, Karen Cruickshank are making my husband Bob a great grandfather, they will miss his birthday by at least a month. Nevertheless, Chris will be the great grandchild who will make my mother-in-law a great great grandmother, but she did not live to see that day, something that makes us all very sad. She lloved being a grandma, and loved those sweet babies, so I know she would have loved this next level of her ife, and totally loved the little girl who is on the way in early June.

When his great grandma was in the hospital for the last time, we all went up to see her, and Chris wondered if it would be ok to take pictures with her, the baby’s ultra sound, and him, so that there would be a picture for his little girl. He had been hoping for pictures of her with the baby, and also for five-generation pictures with her, his grandpa, his mom, the baby, and him. After Chris asked me about the pictures, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg suggested the same thing, so we all decided it should be done. That visit was hard, because his grandma was in and out, and Chris wasn’t sure he would be able to understand what we were trying to tell her. When the visit was over, we all left her room, except Chris. He wanted a few minutes to officially tell his great grandma that she was going to be a great great grandma…even if she wasn’t awake to hear it. Then, a little miracle happened. As Chris was talking to her, she opened her eyes and looked right at him. Chris didn’t wait another second, but told her, “Grandma, I just wanted to let you know that you are going to be a great great grandma. My fiancé, Karen and I are having a baby girl in June.” His great grandma looked right at him, and she smiled with delight! Chris knew that she knew, and it brought tears to his eyes. It was the ultimate gift for both of them, and I am so glad that she got to know this great news before her passing just a few days later. Today would have been her 87th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much.

11049518_10153434865744375_6157679234810072872_n1915199_10153821586879375_5784042149572805962_nResearching one’s family history can be rewarding in that you find out so much about your past, but it can also be rewarding in the present. Of course, I’m talking about connecting with family members that you never knew existed before. I am happy to say that my own family research has connected me with many cousins and other relatives in the years I have be searching. It would be impossible to list them all here, or at one time anyway, so I have to talk about different ones when I find something wonderful about them.

Today, because it’s her birthday, I began thinking about my second cousin once removed, Elizabeth Schumacher Nordquist. A few years ago when I stumbled upon the Schumacher side of my family, and we became friends, I began looking through all the relatives of my Schumacher cousins. It has opened up a whole new world for me. I wish I could spend time with all of them a lot, but distance prevents that, unfortunately. Nevertheless, Elizabeth is much like me in so many ways, and I feel a connection to her because of it. One of the things we are alike in, that has been such a blessing to me is the love of photography. Elizabeth is an excellent photographer, and when I look at her photos, I really feel like I am looking at the scene through her eyes. Not everyone has the ability to capture such amazing moments.

Her favorite subjects are her two beautiful daughters, Addi and Meadow, which is another way that we are alike, because I too have two daughters. She takes such amazing pictures of her girls, and when I look at them, and the fact that she has captured so much of who these girls are, I feel like I have known them all their lives, and yet, I have never met them. That is the mark of a great photographer…to bring out the essence of their subject. Of course, Elizabeth is also a pretty good storyteller. She has shared enough about her girls to where I can see their personalities in their faces when she photographs them. I suppose that is why their very essence comes out in the photographs, but all I can say is that for family who lives far away, she has given the gift of the ability to know her and her family even though we have never met in person.
12376479_10153797368429375_6312439742115764809_nAddi & Meadow
Elizabeth homeschools her girls, and that has been a blessing to the girls and to her sisters, Grace Oltman and Angel Pallas too, because Elizabeth has been able to babysit for them, and through that, I have been able to see pictures of Angel’s daughter, Hazel and Grace’s son, Hosea. Through Elizabeth’s eyes, and her photographic ability I have gained a connection to all of them. What an amazing gift Elizabeth has, and how very blessed I am to know her. Today is Elizabeth’s birthday. Happy birthday Elizabeth!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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

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

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

Our FamilyThe other day, as my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I were out for a walk, I noticed that the crickets were chirping all around us. Now, I’m not a cricket fan, because they are, after all…a bug, but hearing them was not an unusual event in the summertime. On that particular evening, I guess I just noticed them more than usual. It was a beautiful summer evening, that was cooler that the really hot days we had been having, and with the crickets, it took me back to the summers of my youth. It didn’t matter if we were in the back yard or on a camping trip, the crickets chirping was just a classic summer sound. Then, when you add the birds and sometimes even frogs…well, it’s like going back in time to my childhood.

Summers in my youth were always carefree days with relatively few chores. We used to lay out in the back yard sunning ourselves, walk to the pool to swim in the afternoon, and then play games with our friends until it got dark, and sometimes even later. The sound of kids yelling, laughing, and talking seemed to be everywhere…like we were trying to live a year’s worth of life in three short months, because then school started again, and there was homework to be done at night. It left a lot less free time. Then, before we knew it, IMG_6794we were grown up, and our lives took on work and family obligations I wouldn’t trade my life now for those days, because lets face it. I love my life, but those memories are sweet, nevertheless.

I lived such a wonderful childhood. My family has always been very close. Our parents gave my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and me so many great memories over the years, whether in travel or just at home. I can’t fully explain just how blessed we were. We had all the same obligations as kids, that most kids have. We weren’t spoiled children of privilege, we were just blessed…and I’ll take blessed over privilege any day. We took evening drives sometimes just to look at the lights of the city from lookout point or Event Center Hill…although the Event Center wasn’t there then. My sisters and I called the city lights, spread across the valley where Casper is nestled, the Jewelry Box. I have seen them so many times that I can picture them exactly in my head to this day. Those were such glorious, carefree days, of crickets and evening drives, and sometimes I miss them. We didn’t realize then how blessed we were. We just thought all kids Dad and Momhad that kind of life. We later found out just how wrong we were. If I mention some of the things we did as kids, people seem surprised…like it was unheard of. Maybe it was, but my parents just showed us the things they liked to do, like going for evening drives.

Those days are long gone now. They live only in my memory files, to be brought out when something like the chirping of a cricket, the smell of a campfire, or a drive down the mountain cause them to come to the forefront once again. The memories are a little bittersweet these days, because both of my parents are in Heaven, but they still remind me of what a blessed childhood I was given, and they make me thankful for the wonderful parents God gave to me and my sisters.

Allen L SpencerDad SchulenbergAll dads are special in their own ways, whether they are dad to boys, girls, or a mix of both, once they become dads they truly become a totally different person. A man who has never been a dad, can love children or not, but when the children are his own, they are just different…special, and well…perfect. Their own children are always amazing, and its simply because their are their own. It doesn’t really matter if they wanted boys or girls, or some of each, because when that little one arrives, their Daddy’s Heart kicks into high gear and they find themselves thinking that there never was a greater kid than the one they were given. And each new child is viewed the same.

I’ve seen the Daddy’s Heart in so many people, beginning with my own dad, Allen Spencer, then with my Bobhusband, Bob and his dad, Walt Schulenberg. Whatever their kids needed was priority. I don’t mean to say that we were all spoiled rotten, because we had rules and discipline, but when it came to making our lives wonderful, they were right there, making sure that we were so very blessed. It was not about lots of things, but rather the love they showed to us every day. Whenever things were wrong in our lives, there were our dads, with a hug and the words, “It will be alright.” And, of course, they were right. Everything was always alright, because our dads made sure of it, or maybe it was just their wisdom, in that they knew that the tragedies we faced today were most often not as bad as we thought they were, and tomorrow was another day…that would usually be much better, because things usually look very different the next day.

Then, I watched my sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce step into that role with their children, I could see that another generation of children in my family were in the very best of hands. Their dads, just like my dad, my father-in-law, and my husband before them had the Daddy’s Heart. They would do their very best to Kevin PetersenTravis Abraham Royceteach the kids the right way to go, and to fix the boo boos of life as they came along. Kevin and Travis are dads, and like all good dads, their kids are their top priority. And since their kids are pretty much grown now, I know that they will someday be the grandpas of their family. It is a place of honor and wisdom, and a place of being a little bit different kind of dad than they were before, but still a great blessing nevertheless. Happy Father’s Day to the dads in my life, and all dads everywhere. And a special Happy Father’s Day to my dad and my father-in-law in Heaven. We love and miss you very much, every day.

I'm so blessedAs each generation in a family looks at the addition of a new generation, I have to wonder what is going through their minds, and if it’s the same as mine…amazement at where the family is now. I remember seeing my daughters and my grandchildren for the first time, and I know that I was thinking just how amazing it was that they were here, and they were mine. You have a tendency to marvel at how beautiful they are and that they descended from you. Every grandparent is excited about those little grandbabies, but you don’t always get a picture of the exact look that expressed just how blessed a grandparent is feeling.

Nevertheless, that rare shot was what we accidently got, when my husband, Bob’s great grandfather first met his great great granddaughters, Corrie and Amy. The loving look on his face as he held Amy simply said it all. He was feeling so blessed to be able to see this next generation of his lineage. Many people never see their great great grandchildren…they don’t always live long enough, so he was very blessed. He was blessed in his life…living to be 93 years old. It was only a couple of months later that a fall would break his hip and the shock would end his life. That made his chance to meet his great great granddaughters that much more special, whether he knew it or not at the time.

I think every grandparent feels that deep sense of great blessing when they see those babies for the first time, but so often it doesn’t show in a picture of such a loving look. This picture has become very precious to me for that very reason. I only had the opportunity to meet Bob’s great grandfather the one time, before his passing. We had planned a trip to Yakima, Washington to visit with them again, in September of that year, but he passed away in August. We made the trip to see Bob’s great grandmother, but I always felt sad that his great grandfather was not there for the visit. Mostly, I was sorry that he was gone so soon after meeting him. The picture of him was one of the few I have now. Having met him, I can say that he was a gentle hearted man who loved his family. I really think that he felt such a deep sense of accomplishment that his family had grown so much, and that he got to see it before he left this world. I was glad that we were able to give him his great great GG Gpa, Amy, GG Gma Corriegranddaughters before he passed away. I think it meant so much to him.

As my life moves forward into the next phases, I am beginning to look forward to the day when I will have great grandchildren too. It could be down the road a ways, but with two grandchildren out of high school now, it could be right around the corner. I don’t mean to say that I am pushing the grandkids, but I look forward to that special day whenever it happens to arrive. Babies and grandbabies are a great blessing, and I know that whenever my great grandchildren start arriving, I will feel just like Bob’s great grandfather did, so amazed at where the family is now.

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