cousins

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My grand nephew, Matthew Masterson is the only boy in a family of 4 children. I suppose that could make Matthew a terror…teasing his sisters, tormenting them with his antics, or just being in the room when the girls don’t want him there. Sometimes, those descriptions are actually true, but not for the most part. That’s because Matthew has more protective instincts that he does torment instincts. I think that a boy, who is the only boy in a family is often very protective of his sister or sisters. Most boys realize at an early age, that their job is to protect the women in their lives. That instinct is preparing them for their future roll as a husband and father. While Matthew is still a number of years away from being a family man, he is quite protective of his sisters, and that makes me very proud of him.

Now that Matthew is growing up, he has been allowed to have a Facebook page, because lets face it, social media is a way of life now. Each age group has different reasons for using Facebook, but the main reason for everyone, is to connect with friends and family. Of course, with kids, it has to be monitored by their parents, to prevent exploitation, and Matthew’s parents are very careful to do that. Matthew is learning the Facebook ropes…finding things that inspire him. His mom, Dustie Masterson has also posted things that she hopes will help her son to grow into the kind of man she wants him to be some day. Dustie and my nephew, Rob Masterson, love encouraging their kids to be the best they can be, and to know that if they put their mind to it, they can do anything they dream of doing. I like the inspiring things they share with their kids on Facebook, as well as in their daily home lives. Matthew is growing into a kind, loving young man, who thinks of others before himself.

Matthew loves hanging out with friends, his cousins, Zack, and Isaac Spethman, and sometimes their older brother, Xander Spethman, or their little sister, Aleesia Spethman. He also loves hanging out with his sisters, Raelynn and Anna Masterson, although his favorite people to hang out with are the Spethman boys, because their interests are much the same. Matthew is a curious boy, and he also loves to talk to the adults in the family. He wants to know about things that are going on in the world, and he has an opinion about things too. He has listened to the news, to his parents talk about things, and to his teachers too. By listening, he has an idea about how he thinks things should be. And he also has questions about those same current events. I think that as he listens and asks questions, he will grow into a wise young man. Today is Matthew’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every family has its traditions, but I don’t know of many families that have a twice a year gathering of aunts, uncles, and multiple levels of cousins. In fact, I don’t know if I know of any families that do that…but my mom’s family does. The Byer family has been having these gatherings ever since we got too big to all gather at Grandma and Grandpa Byer’s house for the holidays. Grandma and Grandpa have been in Heaven now for 37 years and 29 years respectively, but their tradition still holds. It was their desire that their kids stay close, and in making that one request, they have successfully kept all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren close too.

Some years, we have quite a crowd, and other years, not so much, but those who come out always have a nice time. Maybe it was the heat, or maybe this was an off year, but we did have a smaller crowd. Nevertheless, it was good to visit with aunts Virginia Beadle, Bonnie McDaniels, Dixie Richards, and Sandy Pattan, as well as Uncle Wayne Byer. All are doing well, and that makes me glad, because I’m not ready to lose any more of the aunts or uncles. most of the usual group was there for the picnic. We have those who like the heat and those who can’t take it, so the picnic tends to have a smaller turnout. Most of the families were represented, with just a few exceptions, but it happens.

Even though it was hot, we had a great time. A breeze kicked up and it took the edge off of the heat of the day. Everyone got a chance to catch up on the lives of the other family members. Our busy lives sometimes make it hard to stay in touch on a day to day basis, even though Facebook has helped with that some. I love having a chance to see all of the younger members of our family too. They are all so full of life. Talking with them is so interesting, and I know that for the aunts and uncles, it makes them feel a part of the younger set’s life. At least that is how it makes me feel.

I suppose lots of people would think the Byer family traditions are a bit unusual, but I like them. I like being close to the family, both on Facebook and in person. Each and every family member has something amazing to share. Each one is special in their own way, and together, we make a very special family. I am very blessed to be a part of such an amazing family. I love you all very much, and it was great to see you today.

It has been a very long time since my sisters and I took a trip together…just the girls, and I wish it could be all of my sisters on this trip, but sometimes that is not meant to be. Nevertheless, my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, and I are heading out today to visit our cousin Shirley Cameron in Newport, Washington, with a stop in Coeur d’Alene to visit our cousins George and Greg Hushman too. Unfortunately, we are going for a sad reason…the memorial service for Shirley’s husband Shorty, but it will be blessed family time for sure. How often do sisters get to take a trip, during which they can see and do the things they want to…things that the husbands might roll their eyes at, like shopping, girl talk, and even chick flicks. Of course, I’m not saying we will do all those thing, or even any of those things, but most likely we will do some of those things, as well as girl talk…lots of girl talk, and sister time…lots of catching up on sister time. That is something we have really been missing. As you grow up and have families and jobs, it’s easy not to spend sister time together, and I want to keep that relationship with my sisters forever.

We will be stopping for an unfortunately short visit with our cousins George and Greg Hushman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We don’t get to see them very much, so even a few hours is very special to us. In our childhood years, our families spent lots of time together. Those were great years, and they went by way to fast. Looking back now, I don’t think we really appreciated the amazing opportunity that we had to see our cousins so often. Those years go by so fast, and when they are gone, they are just gone. I don’t want to miss the opportunities we are given to see these precious cousins. We are all looking forward to this wonderful visit, even if it is short.

On top of the sister time, will be cousin time. It has been four years since Cheryl and I have seen our Cousin Shirley, and even longer since Caryl has seen her. After a good number of years not seeing our cousin Shirley, my mom, Collene Spencer, Cheryl, and I made the trip to Washington in 2013…again under sad circumstances…the passing of Shirley’s dad, Jim Wolfe. While that trip was for a sad reason, it became one of the greatest blessings for all of us. Out of that trip, and events that preceded it, came a beautiful relationship with our dear cousin Shirley and I think it has been as much a blessing to her as it has to us. Families can drift apart, but I can tell you that it is always best if they don’t. Still, if they do, the reunion can be amazing. Such was the case with the reunion between our cousin Shirley, my sisters, and me. Since that reunion, we have all felt a more-than-just-cousins type of relationship…almost like having another sister in the bunch.

Life has changed drastically for Shirley over this past year, and in so many ways, it has been very hard for her. With our families living so far away from each other, the only support we can give her is over Facebook, which we have done, but that will never measure up to the support that a visit can give. We are all looking forward to this trip, and I know that it will be so very blessed. Like most trips, it will be over far too soon, but the blessings we will receive from this visit will be with us for the rest of our lives. I know that for Shirley, and for my sisters and me, this will be much like the first reunion, one of blessed connections that will stay with us until the next time we see each other, which we all hope won’t be too many years.

My grandnephew, James Renville is a quiet sort of guy, but let him decide that he needs to tease his dad or his step-dad, and he’s anything but quiet. He not only loves to tease them, but he loves to video the whole process. I’m sure he has two reasons for the video…re-living the moment, and re-torturing the victims. James isn’t being mean, he is just enjoying the moment…and you have to admit that once you have teased someone you love, you have to laugh about the moment for the rest of the day. James is also a great friend to his cousins, many of whom are much younger. He plays with them and teases them as well, and they all love it, and have a great time. That’s the funny thing about little kids…they love to be teased by their older cousins and such, because they know that it’s all in good fun, and they always love the attention.

James enjoys lots of fun activities with his parents. He loves to travel and they have gone to many awesome places. It has been educational, enlightening, and very fun for James. I’m sure that is why he loves to travel…especially in Europe. James as taken a couple of European trips already, and had a great time on both trips. James reminds me quite a bit of my dad, his great grandpa, Allen Spencer, in that way. My dad loved to travel and loved showing his family this great country. My dad, like James also did some travel abroad, but his travel was during World War II, so I’m sure that many things were different then.

James is in college now, attending Casper College here in Casper. He isn’t sure what field he wants to go into yet, and that’s ok. He is going to get all of the required subjects out of the way, and then he can fully focus on the career of his choosing. James is also a huge fan of and awesome participant in the sport of inline rollerblading. When he puts on his rollerblades, he is in his element. He loves all things rollerblades. James spends quite a bit of time watching YouTube videos of rollerblade tricks and crashes to learn new tricks…and maybe to avoid crashes. He enjoys perfecting his moves, and learning new ones from the videos he watches. His mom, Toni Chase, says he is amazing at rollerblading. Some day I will have to see him for myself. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My second cousin twice removed, Hazel Grace Pallas, daughter of Angel and Brian Pallas, is quite a character. I have only met Hazel and her family via Facebook, but her mom and her aunt, Elizabeth Nordquist, have posted a lot of pictures of the kids, and along with the stories they provide, I feel like I’ve known their kids forever. As I said, Hazel is a character, but she is also a Girly Girl, and could even be classed as a Diva, but that isn’t surprising, because she spends a lot of time with her cousins, Addilayde and Meadow Nordquist, daughters of Elizabeth and Aron Nordquist, and they can definitely be Divas.

While these girls can be girly and artsy, they also love to play, and they have a great time together; as well as with Hazel’s little sister, Tenley; and their cousins, Hosea and Canaan Oltman, sons of Grace and Tzaddik Oltman. It’s so much fun to look at the great pictures of these close families of cousins. The moms take pictures often, especially Elizabeth, who is a photographer in her own right, so I have watched these kids grow up almost all of their lives.

Addi and Meadow, being the oldest ones, inspire all the fun around there. They play with all the kids, and really enjoy having their cousins come over. The other day, the three older girls, Addi, Meadow, and little Hazel were out in the back yard, playing in the snow. For Hazel, who is 2½ years old, I think this is still a very new experience. Nevertheless, it is one she very much enjoyed. The girls got out anything the could slide on, and they had a wonderful time slipping and sliding on the snow. When Hazel told her mom about all she did that afternoon, she simple summed it up as, “Swimming in the snow, Mom!” When I read that comment, I just laughed and laughed. It was perfect. To have that childhood enjoyment of the snow…untainted by the experiences of driving in the snow, and all the stress that comes with it…seemed like a dream world to me. As I was driving to work this morning, with little Hazel on my mind, I noticed that as I drove down the alley from my backyard garage, over the freshly fallen snow, it felt like I was almost floating along. Hazel’s words came to my mind. “Swimming in the snow, Mom!” I think I know how Hazel felt.

MargeeLinda Knox, Margee Knox, Marlyce Schulenberg, Debbie Schulenberg - 1954With the recent passing of my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s great aunt, Helen Knox, came a reconnection between our side of the Knox family, and Helen and her husband Frank Knox’s side. We immediately sent condolences out to Helen’s family when we heard of her passing, and just like that, we are reconnected. Through an email with Frank and Helen’s son, Greg Knox, I have connected with his daughter, Katherine “Kate” Knox West, who is their family historian. We are both anxious to explore our connections. But the big story for me was Greg’s recollection of a summer vacation from his youth. When talking about the memories of the person who has passes, you seldom expect a memory from a childhood, involving a cousin to be one that is remembered…after all those years, but that is a favorite memory for Greg.

Greg, who is the middle of five sons of Frank and Helen Knox, was telling me about his childhood in the mid-1960s. One of his fondest memories was of the that of my husband, Bob’s Aunt Margee Kountz and his Aunt Linda Cole taking turns going out to Pullman, Washington to “supervise” Greg and his four brothers, Robert, David, Wesley, and Richard. Now, I’m not sure exactly what that meant to them, or how many fights ensued over the summer, but it must have been lots of fun, because it is something Greg remembers. And he remembers his cousins, Linda and Margee dearly. I think I can understand that, because both of them have always been very sweet. It was interesting to me to think about those two girls going to stay with their aunt and uncle for the summer months. It would have been like a great adventure…spending the summer far from home, but still safe with your aunt and uncle. Getting to know your cousins better as they grew up. And getting to visit a pretty area of the country. Things were different then. People didn’t just hire babysitters. They usually Frank and Hellen Knox Familyhad family take care of the children during the summer months. So, that’s what they did then. And it was a sweet blessing for the boys, and for Linda and Margee. And a sweet memory for me to be able to share on Margee’s birthday.

Margee is and always has been a wonderful person, eager to help out whenever she can. I don’t know what I would have done without her when I had to take my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg to the doctor. We couldn’t leave my mother-in-law home alone, due to her Alzheimer’s Disease, and Margee came to stay with her. It was such a help to me and to my father-in-law. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Spencer FamilyWhen we think of Blended Families, we think of two people who have both been divorced, who have children, that marry each other, and become a blended family. That is one type of blended family for sure, just like the old movie, “Yours, Mine, and Ours.” But in reality, every family is a blended family. I suppose people, who have never been divorced, would argue that point with me, but it is true nevertheless. If you think about it there is no other way to have families, except blending.

In my family, starting with my four sisters and me, we all started out as Spencer girls, but we did not carry that name into adulthood. We now have the names Masterson, Schulenberg, Reed, Stevens, and Hadlock. We also have Beach, Harman, Balcerzak, Davidson, Cossabone, Chase, Renville, Reynolds, Thompson, Spethman, Petersen, Royce, Spicer, Franco-Arizola, Smiley, Sawdon, Carroll, and Moore, and that is just on my side of my family, and just so far. On Bob’s side, the Schulenberg kids have added, Cook, Spencer, Parmely, Franklin, Petersen, Royce, Moore, Griffith, Wages, Eighmy, Birky, and Iverson. If that isn’t family blending…well, I don’t know what is. I just don’t think that type of blending is what people had in mind when they talk about blended families, but this type of family blending takes place far more often that the other type. It happens with every marriage.

scan0081Bob and I have laughed about the fact that after years of being married, we now find out that we are distant cousins, but when you think about it, with all of the blending going on in this world, what is the likelihood that we would never marry a distant cousin. Pretty slim I’d say. In fact, I think that if I looked back in the ancestry of any random couple, I would find a cousinship somewhere back there. Of course, I wouldn’t even have to look very far, because the whole thing started with Adam and Eve, so since we are all related back there, is just stands to reason that the connections on the way back to Adam and Eve would also have connections. So, the next time you think about a blended family, you might think of your own family blending.

Allen and AndreaAndrea & TopherI remember my niece, Andrea Beach as a little girl, trying so hard to be the good big sister to her little brother, Allen. She always had a way of being motherly to Allen. Sometimes, the oldest child has a tendency to feel like they need to be the protector of the younger children. That seems to be the case in situations where both parents work, I think. It’s like having the older child babysit. It puts them in charge, and so whenever their parents are gone, they feel like they have to be in charge of the younger children. When I think about it, maybe that is just instinctual, because Andrea was protective of her brother before she was ever old enough to babysit him.

Now, Allen might have a little bit different story to tell, and we can see what he has to say about it, because I think it’s entirely possible that he viewed her protectiveness as bossiness, and he wouldn’t be the first little brother to do so either. Most of the younger siblings have a tendency to say something like, “You’re not the boss of me!!” In that matter, Allen was no different than any of those other younger child. Like most kids, he didn’t like to have anyone bossing him around, least of all, his big sister. Nevertheless, most of the time, the two of them got along pretty well. That could have been due to the fact that they lived far away from the rest of the family, so for some time, their main friend was their sibling…unlike the family that all lived here and ws raised around cousins. Of course, these days, Andrea is the boss…to her son Topher anyway. But then again, they are really best friends too.

Living so far away was really a sourse of sadness for Andrea, who often wished that she lived closer so that she could have known the cousins better, but since her dad, Warren Beach was in the Navy, that was not to be. They did come Andrea pretending to be GrandpaGoing to workto have extended visits with us here, when Warren was out to sea, and then Andrea delighted in getting to know everyone, and spending time with her grandparents. She especially loved pretending to be her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer. He had a hard hat that he wore to work, and she decided that if Grandpa wore it…well, it must be cool, so she wore it too. I think it was her way of feeling closer to her grandpa. She sometimes had to improvize to make her own memories for later. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Grandma ByerWhen I think of my grandmother, Harriet “Hattie” Byer, the person that comes to mind is Grandma as she was in my adult years. f course, by that time, she was a great grandmother many times over, and so had aged into the kind of grandma you always see on television…gray hair and somewhat wrinkled. In reality, it is television’s view of what a grandmother should look like that is warped in many cases…odd since they try very hard to make everyone else forever ageless. It’s not that I don’t remember the Grandma of my youth, it’s just that I really don’t think of her that way. That wasn’t what she was like as she aged, and I was at an age to place a specific memory of her in my memory files. Nevertheless, when it came to being the boss, the kidder, or the disciplinarian, all I can say is, don’t let her looks or her small stature fool you, because Grandma was in charge, and that’s all there is to it. Just ask anyone of her kids, grandkids, or Grandpa, Grandma, Caryn, Allen, and Cheryl_editedgreat grandkids, who might have had the misfortune of cross her. Most of us were done crossing Grandma, but there were some who were brave enough to try again…if you call that bravery. There might be a different word for it, in reality.

When I was little, my family lived in Superior, Wisconsin. That made it hard for her to see my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me when we were little. Grandma and Grandpa did make trips up to see us, and really loved it. Mom and Dad showed them around the area, and they spent time with us too. I don’t remember those visits, but my guess is that my sister, Cheryl does, because she was a couple of years older than I was. I love looking at the pictures of those visits with my grandparents. They are precious to me now, because of course, my parents, Grandpa, and Grandma are in Heaven now. Looking back at those moments by the lake, at the house, and on trips we took, are such wonderful memories.
Grandma, Grandpa, & Mom by a plane
We moved back to Casper before I turned three, and then we had chances to see them more often. I remember those many visits to their house so well. I can’t say I was one of those kids who learned from her mistakes, but I don’t remember very many times that I was on the wrong side of Grandma. You might call me chicken…and you would be right…either that, or smart. When Grandma spanked, it hurt. Thankfully I outgrew those days, and in the end, I remember my sweet grandma as a little old lady with gray hair. Nevertheless, she was mine, and my sisters and cousins…and we loved her. Today would have been Grandma Byer’s 107th birthday, if she were still with us. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma. We love and miss you very much.

Paul & Betty NoyesButch SchulenbergDuring this journey to find my ancestors and my living family, there have been several times that I have felt that I had made a rare find. Of course, how could it be rare if there were several times, you might be thinking. I thought the same thing, and yet, some of the people I have come across have become so special to me that they could only be classified as a rare find. People like my father-in-law’s half brother, Butch Schulenberg, and our cousins Paul and Betty Noyes, come to mind immediately. But then, I also think of Tracey Inglimo, Denny Fredrick, Tim and Shawn Fredrick, Shirley Cameron, Pam and Mike Wendling, Bill and Maureen Spencer, and the many Schumacher cousins in TraceyJoe WeberWisconsin and Minnesota. I think of Nick and Laura Weber, and Joe Weber. As I think of these people, new rare finds and renewed rare finds, I begin to realize that as I have discovered these special people, some I have never met in person, and some that I have known all my life, but lost track of, I begin to realize that maybe rare finds in the family line aren’t really as rare as I thought they were after all.

I have been thinking about what it is that makes a person a rare find, and the thing that immediately comes to mind is that these people truly care about me…about what I think and who I am. I find that these people are kindred spirits…something I had not really given much thought to until I got into the “Anne of Green Gables” ShirleyDenny Fredrickmovies, but after watching those movies, I realize just how important kindred spirits really are. Kindred spirits share the same values, goals, and desires, even if they are is slightly different ways. I think it is the values though that mean the most. Maybe that is a big part of what makes these people a rare find. So much has changed in our world these days, and while we all have maybe a slightly different view of what things are wrong and how to fix them, I still find that these people are value driven people…patriots, who love this country and what it stands for.

The longer I think about it, the more I realize that while finding people who compliment who I am is not such a rare find, it is still a Tim_editedShawn Fredrickrare find that there are so many people who have become so very special to me. It warms my heart to think of these people, and it warms my heart with every conversation I have with them. It is my hope to someday meet those precious people who I have never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I know we will really hit it off, because we are family and kindred spirits. It’s a great combination. While my “rare finds” have not really been so rare after all, I am so blessed by each and every one of then, and that makes them absolutely priceless. I am very blessed to know them all.

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