children

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As another year has come and gone, I find myself again saddened that our cousin, Larry Hein is no longer with us. How could it be that he has been in Heaven now for almost a year and a half? Larry was a wonderful son, brother, and dad. He was also a successful businessman in Forsyth, Montana, and many people in town were helped by his mechanical ability and his towing business. Life wasn’t always easy for Larry. He lost his wife to an auto accident and was left to raise his children alone. He did a good job with that, and by the time he went to Heaven, his youngest child, Destiny was almost grown, and his son, Dalton was a grown man. I know they were so sad that he was no longer with them, but they were also grateful that they had him for most of their childhood years.

I remember Larry as a young boy, because I married his cousin, Bob when Larry was just six years old. He was a good boy, and when my own children, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce came along, Larry would go out to the playhouse on Grandma and Grandpa Hein’s house, and even though he was a boy, he was willing to playhouse with the girls, because they needed a “daddy” for the “family” game they were playing. While I’m sure Larry was quite bored, he was a good sport, and took it all in stride, even to caring for the baby dolls they were using for the kids.

Larry loved being out at Grandma Hein’s house, as we all did. There was always something to do and everyone had a great time. Grandma and Grandpa made life a big game…even if the kids were actually helping with the chores. And, they learned responsibility and good values, because they really did help around the ranch. They also got to ride the horses and help with the other animals that were being raised. Larry was a good help, as were the other kids, and they were all a blessing to Grandma and Grandpa Hein. Tody would have been Larry’s 53rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Larry. I know you are all celebrating there. We love and miss you very much.

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!!

Wars leave unfortunate consequences, one of the biggest being orphaned children. World War II is no exception to that rule. After the surrender of Germany, the nation was basically split into four sections…the American Zone, the Soviet Zone, the British Zone, and the French Zone. It was all part of the denazification process. The term denazification refers to the removal of the physical symbols of the Nazi regime. In 1957 the West German government re-issued World War II Iron Cross medals, among other decorations, without the swastika in the center. That was just one of the ways that the Nazi regime was removed from Germany.

Another way was the Denazified School System and the denazification of the rest of the German government…which was then reassembled without the Nazi symbolism. With the school system effectively out of commission, the children of Berlin had very little or even no structure in their lives at all. These were children whose lives had been shredded by the war, many of whom had been orphaned by the conflict or had lost at least one parent. That lead to an overall lack of adult supervisors. Children, and especially teens and preteens, roamed the streets in packs. The situation was especially difficult for the children who had lost both parents. There weren’t any real orphanages either, and so these children formed their own “families” on the streets…like street gangs. These children were known as German “wolf children” also known as “Wolfskinder,” but the reality was that they were simply the forgotten orphans of World War II.

The schools eventually reopened, but they were often in half-ruined facilities, that were underfunded and understaffed, with some schools reporting student-to-faculty ratios of 89 to 1. That kind of a classroom ratio is far too big to be able to effectively teach the students. And the re-opened schools didn’t really address the issue of these orphaned “wolf children” who were often in hiding whenever authorities were around. These children were most likely afraid of authority, because it was the authorities who got their parents killed in the first place. Many of these children were forced to flee what was then East Prussia to Lithuania at the end of World War II. They felt like the German government had failed them. These children survived hunger, cold, and the loss of their identity, and the German government had long overlooked them, so why would they trust the government now.

No one really knows just how many “wolf children” there were. That number can only be estimated. Some say there were up to 25,000 of them roaming the woods and swamps of East Prussia and Lithuania after 1945. Russians were actually forbidden from taking in these “fascist children.” These children were actually told to go to Lithuania and given the promise that there would be food there. When they arrived, they couldn’t speak the language and they had no papers, so they had no identity…no one could even know their names. Those who were taken in often had every shred of memorabilia from their past stripped from them and tossed in the trash. That was the last part of who they really were. It was the price they would pay for food, safety, and security; and it was a failure of the German government, and the four nations who were in charge of reorganizing Germany. I suppose some would disagree with me on that note, but the reality is plain to see. If these children came across kind locals, the “Vokietukai” or little Germans, in Lithuanian, as they were known, were helped with buckets of soup in front of the doors, giving the children a little nourishment. If the residents were not so kind, they would set their dogs on the children.

While the “Vokietukai” had many struggles in Lithuania, life was still better than the fate that awaited the children who were too weak to make it to the Baltic states. There were thousands of these children, and they were sent to Soviet homes run by the military administration. That was the fate of approximately 4,700 German children in 1947, according to historian Ruth Leiserowitz, who has researched the fates of wolf children. Later that year, many of them were sent to the Soviet occupation zone. That zone later became the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Those poor children traveled in freight trains without any straw to sleep on…similar the Holocaust deportation years. These children were young…between 2 and 16 years of age. They arrived in East Germany after four days and four nights…really more dead than alive. There, they were put in orphanages or adopted by avid Communists. They never really escaped Communism…and that is the saddest part of all.

My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was just about 4 months older than my oldest daughter, Corrie, so she was like a sister-in-law and a daughter too. The things she liked were similar to things my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce liked. It makes sense that it would be that way, because my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg was just 7 years old when my husband, Bob and I got married. They were in the generation of our kids. I guess that is part of what makes it so hard to believe that Rachel has been living in Heaven for a little over a year now. She was just too young to have a fatal stroke. It just shouldn’t happen that way.

Rachel was good friends with my nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith, and it was through them that she was introduced to their Uncle Ron. It was a match made in Heaven, and they were married over 11 years when she passed away. They were so happy, and I know their marriage would have continued well into their golden years if she hadn’t left us too soon. Besides Ron, Rachel also left behind daughter, Cassie Franklin and her children Lucas and Zoey; son, Riley Birky his fiancée, Sierah Martin, her son, Jace and their little baby that is coming in this August; and Tucker Schulenberg, her youngest, who was adopted by Ron in 2019, so she knew he would be ok. Rachel was a wonderful mother and grandmother, who loved her children and grandchildren so much, and the perfect wife for Ron…his soulmate.

Rachel was a vibrant person, who loved the Lord. She had worked in the office of her church in Powell, Wyoming before she married my brother-in-law, and moved to Casper. She loved telling people about Jesus and seeing people get saved. She wanted to make sure that everyone she could win for the Lord, she did win for the Lord. Rachel was quick to pray for anyone who needed prayer, even if they didn’t ask her for prayer, she prayer for them. There are many people out there who have received answered prayer because of Rachel…I have no doubt. Rachel was a wonderful person, Christian, and friend to many people, and she has been greatly missed by all of us over the past year. Today would have been Rachel’s 47th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Rachel. We love and miss you very much.

My grandson, Christopher Petersen has so much going for him these days. He has a fiancée, Karen with whom he is deeply in love, and two children, Cambree and Caysen, who are among his greatest blessings. A man can’t ask for anything better than that. When I think back of Christopher’s life, I am so amazed at just how quickly the years have flown by. Christopher was my first grandchild, followed the next day by his cousin Shai Royce. It was a whirlwind time in the life of our family. Chris and Shai were best friends, and still are close to this day, even though Shai lives 1200 miles away now. I can still picture them playing side by side at my daughter, Amy Royce’s house, where Chris went to daycare. It was a perfect part of my life, and one I feel very privileged to have been a part of. Having Amy care for the kids, allowed me to go over for lunch to spend time with my precious grandchildren. Still, I will never forget the first day my daughter, Corrie Petersen had to drop off her precious son at my house so I could take him to her sister’s house. The tears flowed liberally. I’m thankful Karen has not had to do that. It is truly awful.

Now, Chris is the dad, and he is living out those perfect years. His children adore him. They run to him when he gets home, so excited to be with him. There is no greater feeling than the love your kids feel for you, and I’m so glad Chris has that. Isn’t it just amazing…how life changes? Chris likes to take his family to Rapid City sometimes with friends of theirs, and the kids absolutely love the water park there. He enjoys giving his family all the good things he can. He is a good dad and partner.

Chris still loves his cars, and tinkering on them, especially his prize-winning Camaro. He doesn’t race it, or anything, it is his show car, and his pride and joy. I can see…down the road…into the future, to a time when his kids will be helping him tinker of his cars. I know his grandpas and his dad taught Chris how to tinker on cars, because that was where he wanted to be…with them…and mostly his daddy, Kevin Petersen. The boys, Chris and his little brother, Josh loved being with their daddy, especially when he was doing his mud truck races. I get excited thinking about the day when Chris’ kids, and especially Caysen are the ones out there perched on a box, “helping” Daddy work on his hot rod. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

A strange thought, indeed, but Posthumous Marriage is not illegal in France…at least not since the Malpasset Dam disaster of December 2, 1959. While most of us would consider Posthumous Marriage to be a rather morbid idea, there are a couple of reasons that are considered legitimate reasons for the request for such a marriage to be granted. One such reason is, of course, a matter of deep emotional feelings for the lost fiancé. Another reason is to legitimize any children the couple already had, prior to the marriage…which I guess I can see, to a degree. There are rules that must be followed in order to have such a marriage approved…no matter what the reasons. The living partner must ask the deceased partner’s family for permission, and the invitations to the wedding must have already been sent out (showing intent from both members of the couple). The family can choose to allow, or not to allow the marriage, and if they do not agree, it is over. If family approval is given, the living partner must go before a judge to get legal permission to “marry” the deceased partner…who is usually represented at the service with a photograph. And…there are things that do not come with the marriage, such as any of the deceased partner’s property or money. In all reality, it is simply a symbolic event declaring their love for their partner. Nothing more!!

So how did such a strange idea get started in the first place. On December 2, 1959, the Malpasset Dam, an arch dam on the Reyran River, which is located approximately 4 miles north of Fréjus on the French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), Southern France, in the Var department collapsed, killing 423 people in the resulting flood. Signs of an imminent collapse began in November 1959, when a “trickle of clear water observed high on the right [side]” and then cracks noticed later in the month in the concrete apron at the dam toe. The dam was breached at 9:13pm on December 2, 1959. The break was partially due to rainfall and thus the rising level of water. By noon that day, the reservoir had reached its maximum level, and the guardian André Ferro asked for permission to release the excess water, but was denied the ability to do so until 6:00pm of that day. By then, the amount of water was so high that it took three hours to release only a few centimeters of water. The entire wall then collapsed leaving only a few blocks on the right bank. Pieces of the dam are still scattered throughout the area to this day. The damage amounted to an equivalent total of 68 million US dollars.

Apparently, there were so many women who lost their fiancés, that the event also ushered in the practice of posthumous marriage in France. It’s hard for me to imagine that out of 423 people, there were enough fiancés to warrant the need for a new law. I could assume that at least some of those couples were…dating yes, but not planning their weddings. Remember, that the invitations had to have been sent out, so there were a lot of couples in varying stages of wedding planning. Still, posthumous marriage is a very strange idea.

My niece, Machelle Moore has been looking at a different kind of future these days. As a mom, I know that the years of her children’s childhood have flown past with unbelievable speed. Her eldest son, Weston moved to Butte, Montana from their home in Powell, Wyoming this past year, and while that isn’t a cross country move, it does leave Machelle’s home with three people instead of four. Now, her youngest son, Easton is going to be graduating from high school, and the inevitable time when he will also leave home is just around the corner. Easton hasn’t specifically made plans to move out or away, but Weston hadn’t either…until he did. Most parents will face the empty nest moment at some point in their life, and it is not an easy one.

Machelle and her husband, Steve have been happily married since August 14, 1999, but when their boys are both out of the house, that inevitable feeling of a “too quiet house” will creep in. They will have to learn to find new hobbies, new activities, and new ways to spend their evenings. The good news is that Machelle and Steve have a great marriage. They love to do lots of things together, like camping, hiking and exploring, and their favorite…rock hunting. I know that like every “empty nester” among us has found, life does go on and it’s even good, whether our children live at home or not. And eventually, the grandchildren start to come, and the home is filled with new life. You never know whan that will start, however, so Machelle and Steve will have lots of good times in the meantime.

For now, Machell and Steve are busy with all the senior year activities that Easton has going on, like prom and Easton’s dating and working life. There are lots of exciting things happening during a kid’s senior year, like senior pictures, and soon graduation planning and rehearsals. The only problem with all that activity is that it only serves to make the year go by faster…rather defeating the whole idea of “putting the brakes” on the year. Well, as we all know, it just doesn’t work that way. Nevertheless, Machelle and Steve will survive the empty nest, whenever it arrives, just like the rest of the parents in the world have done. For now, I pray the time slows down just a bit before that fateful day arrives. Today is Machelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Since both my dad, Al Spencer and my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg are in Heaven now (since 2007 and 2013), I often feel rather lonely on Father’s Day. Of course, I have my husband, Bob Schulenberg, who is the father of my children, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, and he is a great blessing to me. I also have my sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, who are the fathers of my grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen. And now my grandson, Chris also has two sweet children, Cambree and Caysen. I have been so greatly blessed in my lifetime with all of these wonderful people as well as the girlfriends of my grandsons, Karen, Chloe Foster, and Athena Ramirez. My family is growing and I couldn’t be happier.

I have several fathers in my life. Not all of them are dads to my children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren. I have wonderful brothers-in-law, LJ Cook, Mike Reed, Mike Stevens, Chris Hadlock, Brian Cratty, and Ron Schulenberg, all of whom are very dear to me. I have nephews, who are also wonderful dads and also very dear to me…Dave Balcerzak, Dave Chase, Rob Masterson, Steve Spethman, Steve Moore, Josh Griffith, Sean Mortensen, Garrett Stevens, Jason Sawdon, Ryan Hadlock, Shannon Moore, Tim Thompson (who is a dad, and a boyfriend of my niece, Kellie Hadlock), Chris Killinger (who is a dad, and boyfriend of my niece, Lacey Stevens), Eric Parmely, Chris Iverson, Jake Harman, Kiefer Balcerzak, Dylan Herr. I am so proud of each and every one of these men. They are raising wonderful children, and that is a big deal. I am also proud of all of my uncles and cousins who are wonderful dads too.

Father’s Day is a day to honor our own dads and the many other dads in our circle of influence who are doing a wonderful job of training up their children in the way they should go. I am so proud of the way all of these men are raising their kids. All of them are sweet and wonderful kids, and of course, their mothers have played a huge part in that, but today is the day to honor the dads in our lives. I wish I could name and show them all, but there simply isn’t enough room. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads in my life and circle of influence.

My nephew, Eric Parmely has changed so much over the years. I find myself amazed at the life he lives today. Eric is husband to Ashley, and daddy to Reagan, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. That’s his human family anyway. Eric and Ashley own a little ranch west of Casper, where they raise children, dogs, cats, goats, horses, turkeys, cows, ducks, pigs, and maybe others that I have not mentioned. There are always new babies on the ranch, and those animal babies are just as much a part of the family too. I can’t imagine all those babies in the family, but Eric and Ashley love each and every one of them. Of course, they and the children also understand that some animals are for food, and that is just how it has to be. The constants in the family of animal members, of course are the horses, cats, and dogs. They will never be food, as we all know. They are, and always will be pets.

Eric is a hard working man. He has a regular job, and then comes home and works hard on the ranch. He and Ashley bought a tractor that he is been fixing up. Once it is in good shape, it will be a big help to him on the ranch. There is much work to do on a ranch and a rancher needs the right tools. This tractor will put them closer to having all the tools they need. They live on a dirt road, so they need to be able to clear roads and so much more. Tractors and ranches just go together.

Eric has discovered audio books. To me that is vital. With our busy lives, finding time to read a book is almost impossible, but we can listen to our books while we work. Eric likes a variety of books, and just finished Harry Potter. I’m not into the Harry Potter stuff, but I love to listen to World War II books. To each his own, I guess. I find that audiobooks have broadened my horizons, and I have other types of books I have listened to since I started with Audible. Eric will most likely be the same.

Eric, being the dad of young kids, has had to keep up with all their activities. I saw a video recently of Eric trying to skateboard. He did pretty good, but I’m sure that the kids, especially Reagan can out-do him. It’s simply an age thing, so it would make sense for her to be better at it than her dad, but I could be wrong. I have been known to be wrong about such things, after all. Eric has recently discovered iced vanilla lattes and has switched to decaf coffee. Now, that part is odd to me, because he probably need more caffeine kick, not less to keep up with his busy lifestyle. More power to him if he can do it caffeine-free. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Ashley Parmely is a very busy girl these days. She has long been a farmer…raising horses, cows, chickens, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and farmers. There may be others too that I am unaware of. Taking care of all those animals and her four little farmers too, keeps her running all day. Personally, I don’t know where she gets the energy for all of it, and as if that weren’t enough, this year, with the ongoing pandemic, she has taken on a new role…that of teacher to her three little students…all while also keeping her youngest girl, Maeve busy while she teaches the older children, Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen. If she doesn’t know why she might be tired, I say…”Let me enlighten you!!”

Being the teacher is a very new concept to Ashley. I don’t think it was a role she had ever imagined herself in. Nevertheless, with the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the hornet’s nest it stirred up in the education system, she and my nephew, Eric Parmely have decided that it is the best way to educate their children. Now as the teacher, you are held to a high educational standard, and it was here that Ashley came across her first stumbling block. No, it wasn’t academically, she’s fine with that. No…it was in penmanship. Not the part about being able to read her writing, but rather, her struggle with “chalkboard writing.” Seriously…how can you aske your students to write in nice straight lines, when you are unable to do so. Hahahahaha!! Ashley is working hard on this problem, and now, a little way into the quarter, I believe she has it under control.

For Ashley, homeschooling the kids is in many ways a dream come true. She has her children at home with her, and they can have relaxed classes on the farm. Homeschooling isn’t a new concept. It has been going on for many years, it’s just that now, with the pandemic, more people have opted for homeschooling. Ashley and Eric are concerned over some of the new radical education plans for things. Some of the things their kids are learning, really seem extreme to Ashley and to many other Christian and Conservative parents. Kids need time to be kids, and with Ashley, I know that the kids will have just that. Ashley has a wonderful sense of humor and isn’t afraid to look silly sometimes. I believe it will make her the kids favorite teacher. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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