dancing

Chris and CassieMy niece, Cassie Iverson has been into taking pictures for a while now, and lately, her husband, Chris has really been getting into photography too. Both of them have always loved nature, camping, fishing, and just enjoying time spent outdoors. I can relate to that, because my husband, Bob and I feel the same way…at least about being outdoors…not so much camping and fishing. Anyone who has spent much time relaxing in nature, will naturally be drawn to the photography of nature, because the beauty of it is something you always want to hang on to. Photography allows us to hang on to those memories. In fact, I saw a saying once that really describes the way a photographer feels, “We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.” Our memories can be so quickly lost, if we have done nothing to preserve them.
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I think that is something Chris and Cassie both understand. They are both very hands on parents. Having a developmentally disabled child and a child who is not disabled, is quite a handful, but they manage very well. Chris has taken to dancing around the living room with the kids. That is a cool thing, because they develop a love of music and get some exercise. I’m thankful that he is so helpful, because having kids is a lot of work, and if the dad isn’t really involved, it takes a toll on the mom. Kids need both parents to be involved in their lives, because they learn different things from each parent. They also like to have special lunches with the kids. Including the kids in activities is a great way to make the kids a part of everything. It’s all part of living life.

Chris fishingAs to Chris’ own hobbies, he is a sportsman, so fishing gear and guns are simply a part of the plan. Chris likes to make sure his guns are in perfect working condition, so he makes sure they are properly cleaned. Anyone who is a gun enthusiast knows that having a dirty gun, can be bad in so many ways. It may misfire or worse, if it is not properly cleaned. I think that for most people in Wyoming, if you don’t own or appreciate guns, you are very strange. And the people in our family are definitely gun enthusiasts. Chris also likes to work on his Blazer, although it has been giving him so trouble lately. As I told Cassie, mechanics is a never ending story. There is always something that needs to be worked on. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Steve, Jenny, and Princess LailaPrincess LailaWhen a parent loses a child, of any age, each birthday becomes a time to ponder on what might have been, if the child had lived. For so many parents, there are no answers. Their child is gone, and they have no way to gauge where they would be now or what they would be doing. There is just the emptiness of loss that is left, and wondering what might have been.

No new child can replace another child that has passed, but for my niece Jenny Spethman and her husband Steve, the fact that they had a rainbow baby, who was a girl named Aleesia Juliette, in some ways has helped a little bit. They have been able to envision what their little Laila Elizabeth would have been like at these ages. Of course, as I said, that does not replace Laila, and she is missed every single day, but God gave them Aleesia to cheer their broken hearts, at least a little bit.

Since today would have been Laila Elizabeth’s fifth birthday, they know that like Aleesia, Laila would have been going to pre-school, and learning all the exciting things that there are to see and do in this wonderful world that God created. She would have been a girly girl, like her sister, and they can envision the two of them giggling and laughing as they play their many little girl games. It’s easy to picture them both dancing around the room together, and yet chasing after their big brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, because no little girl can be the little sister of three older brothers and not be a tiny bit tomboy. Laila would have been the princess of the house, just as her little sister, Aleesia is, and of course, she would be the boss of the boys like Aleesia is too, because those boys just think their sister hung the moon.

None of these things make this day, Laila’s 5th birthday an easier day to take, nor with they help with the day she went to Heaven, November 22, but in some ways, they do give a glimpse into what might have been. And if Jenny and Steve are able to use their imagination a little bit, I’m sure they can picture their little Princess Laila and their little Princess Aleesia playing together. They know too, that they will see Laila again when we all join her in Heaven, and I know that they know that her great grandparents, are all getting to know her right now, but the heart doesn’t understand those things any more than the little kids do. Their hearts just want her back, because thinking about what might have been isn’t the same as havimg her here at all, in fact, it is the hardest thing a parent will ever have to do.Jenny's mini meMischievious Princess Aleesia

Today is Princess Laila Elzabeth Spethman’s 5th birthday. She knows we love her, miss her, and can’t wait to see her again, and we know that she is happily playing in Heaven and having a wonderful day. You live in our hearts until we see you again. Happy birthday in Heaven Princess Laila!! Have a wonderful birthday!! We love and miss you very much!! Hugs and kisses baby girl.

imageimageMy grand niece, Hattie Joy Parmely, is celebrating a milestone today. She has arrived at her very first birthday. Her mom, Ashley Parmely tells me that Hattie Joy has lived up to her name quite well, because she is a joy for her whole family to be around. Hattie is a very busy little girl, and sometimes it’s hard for her mom to get pictures of her, because she is moving so fast. I suppose that is why she takes videos to share. And in many ways, I like to see the videos, because it shows me the true Hattie Joy personality that is quickly developing in this baby girl. Hattie is turning into a little toddler now, because she has learned to walk, and she even has three teeth now, so she is starting to love snacking too.

Hattie tries to be very helpful. Her dad, my nephew, Eric Parmely is always working on their house, because imageimagethey bought it as a fixer upper, and they are quickly turning it into their dream home. Hattie is very much on board with the projects that her mom and dad are doing, and while she may not be the greatest help to them right now, she still helps…like it or not. Of course, helping her dad build is not the only big job that little Hattie does. She makes a great motor for her big sister, Reagan’s tricycle. I suppose it’s a good thing that Reagan isn’t very heavy, but for a little one year old girl, Hattie is fully capable of giving her big sister just the push she needs…provided they don’t run into any obstacles and big sister decides to back up, because Hattie isn’t too sure of how to back up yet. Hattie also helps her mom with the earth moving projects they are doing…one rock or handful of dirt at a time. She has a little trouble with that job though. Once she gets to rocks and dirt in her mom’s hand, she knocks them back out. Some jobs just take a little bit of training.

A girl can’t spend all her time working though, and Hattie loves to dance. She is a little bit too young to go clubbing right now, so she settles for struttin’ her stuff whenever her mom puts on some music. Hattie likes dancing so much, that she has even incorporated it into one of her other favorite activities…eating. She puts some food in imageimageher mouth, and then proceeds to dance it down to her tummy…all the while, sitting in her highchair. Now, not everyone can pull that one off, but Hattie does it with style…and with a smile on her little face. It would seem that our Miss Hattie Joy is a born entertainer. With everything she’s got going for her, who knows maybe she will be on Broadway someday, but I guess we will have to let her get a few years under her belt, before we will really know for sure. Today is Hattie’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Miss Hattie Joy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Shirley and Uncle JimLong before our nation would find itself fighting to keep the right to bear arms, and long before people felt a serious need to teach their kids about guns at an early age, my Uncle Jim Wolfe was teaching his then two year old daughter, my cousin Shirley how to handle a gun. Much of her memory of that early time came from pictures of the process, but sadly those pictures were lost in a fire, and so live only in Shirley’s memory now. She remembers the picture showing a two year old Shirley standing in front of her dad, who squatted down to better match her size, and he was helping her hold the gun. I’m sure he began teaching her to shoot it then or very shortly thereafter, because from her earliest memory clear through adulthood, she remembers guns being a part of her life. By the time Shirley was old enough to hunt, she was an excellent shot, and the two of them very much enjoyed hunting together.

Hunting was not the only sport they enjoyed together though. Uncle Jim loved to fish, and taught Shirley to fish, build a campfire, and keep it going. Cooking those fish was a skill learned from her mother, however. Aunt Ruth had a way of cooking fish that was a family favorite, and if you wanted the whole family to like the fish, that was how you cooked them.

Shirley tells me that her dad taught her how to ride a horse, which surprised me a little, because her mom was an excellent horsewoman, who had even raced some. The she said that her mom helped with that, and it all made sense. If Shirley is anything like me, and most kids for that matter, she tended to learn easier from one parent than from the other. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them the same, but your learning style just seems to fit better with one than it does the other. As for Shirley, she got the best training that both could give and ended up being a pretty good horsewoman herself.

Uncle Jim and Shirley were in many ways, inseparable. She would do whatever he was doing, just to spend more time with her dad. That is the way many girls are…daddy’s girls, and since I was much the same myself, I can totally understand. They worked on cars together, much like my daughter, Amy Royce, but the big difference there is that Shirley really got into it and loved doing it, while Amy just loved to watch her daddy.

Uncle Jim told Shirley that he knew the girl he would marry, long before he met her, because he kept dreaming of her. He just couldn’t see her face. When he came home from the war, he went to Twin Falls, Idaho, because Uncle Jim, Larry, and Shirleyhe knew some people there. It so happened that the people he knew were Aunt Ruth’s cousins, who introduced them. He recognized Aunt Ruth before she even turned around. She was the woman in his dreams. It was love at first sight, and the rest is history. They were married for 46½ years before she passed away. Their love was meant to be.

Uncle Jim taught Shirley to dance by letting her stand on his feet, something I remember doing with my dad, although not to learn to dance. For Shirley though, the love of dancing continued all her life. She even danced on his feet while he was dancing with her mom…now that is a sight I would like to have seen. Shirley’s memories of her dad could go on and on, because they are far too numerous to name here, but suffice it to say that he was in every way, her hero. He made her life and the lives of the family, mine included, loads of fun. As his life wound down, I know it was hard for Shirley to see him in the weakened, forgetful state he was in, but she can always take comfort in the fact that his was a life well lived, and he is now in Heaven dancing with the girl of his dreams again…but waiting for that little one who likes to dance on his feet.

Pretty Young Lady RaelynnMy grand niece, Raelynn is becoming a young lady, right before our eyes. As she heads into 5th grade, so much in her world is changing. This past year she ran for class secretary, and during the course of the campaign, she earned the nickname Rapper Rae. I’m sure you can guess how that came about. She is really spreading her wings and flying into new experiences. I can’t say I ever thought of Raelynn as a politician, but since she seems to be, I guess she is a girl after my heart. Now I just have to make sure she gets on the right side of the political arena…but I guess there is a little bit of time for that.
Lego Girl
This past school year, Raelynn was finally old enough to get into Legorobotics, which is a club in which the kids build a vehicle with Legos that can perform several maneuvers. They work on these through the course of the year and then there is a competition that the teams are entered in to represent their school. It is a really cool thing for the kids to do, and very much enjoyed by all who participate. Raelynn and her team had a great time. She told her mom, my niece Dustie Masterson, that she had no idea you could build so many things with Legos. Raelynn has always loved art, but now she has discovered science and loves doing experiments. She has always loved school, because learning is awesome.
Christmas Cheer
Raelynn loves riding around with her favorite cousin, Jake Harman, and yelling out to random people things like “Will you be my friend?” or “Where are all the pretty butterflies?”, because those are the random things Jake likes to do. Raelynn is coming into her own in the humor department too, and says lots of funny things if her own. She loves to hum with her dad, my nephew, Rob Masterson, or dance and sing down the isles of stores with her mom. But, for Raelynn, her favorite place to be is church. She loves Jesus and worship. She has a beautiful soul, and to know Raelynn is to love Raelynn. Today is Raelynn’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have an awesome day!! We love you!!

Allen Spencer in a water fight with a friend, Ordie at Pattison ParkI found a picture among my Uncle Bill’s family history books, of my dad, Allen Spencer in a water fight with a friend named Ordie at Pattison Park, in Wisconsin, which is just 15 miles east of Holyoke, Minnesota, where the family was living at the time. I could just hear my dad’s laugh as he pummeled his friend with water. Dad had such a great laugh, and he took great pleasure in getting the best of people…in a friendly way, of course. I remember, as a kid, my dad and I used to have sparring matches. Somehow I had it in my head that I could beat him, if I really tried. Our sparring matches weren’t real, of course, but rather a matter of blocking the other persons attempts to pat their opponents face. Dad always won, and he always laughed all the way through our match. I was like a kid with an adult holding onto my head, while I tried to swing and couldn’t hit anything. Dad never held my head, but he almost always blocked my attempts to pat his face. It wasn’t really the sparring matches that drew me back into them, but rather my dad’s laugh. It amused him so Spencer Familymuch, he laughed in pure delight.

Some memories are so vivid that it’s almost as if you can hear the person. Dad’s voice, the way he teased his girls, his laugh, dancing with him on New Year’s Eve, the swatting game he always played with the grandkids from his chair in the kitchen as they tried in vain to run past him before he could swat them, and the whisker rubs he used to give us…laughing all the while. So many great memories of the wonderful dad that God blessed me with. He could even turn a moment when we were really angry or had been fighting with one of our sisters, into a laughing matter, because it was really hard to keep from laughing when he was laughing. I remember really trying a few times though. We would come to him tattling on whichever sister had so wrongly offended us, and he would imitate our whining…while we tried to keep a straight face. Before you knew it, we were both laughing, and the sister incident was forgotten. That was my dad…always the peacemaker.Dad, Alena, Allyn, & Caryl

When a loved one has gone to Heaven, you just never know what things will bring a memory of them that engulfs you. Sometimes, the sadness is overwhelming, and sometimes the memory brings a smile to your face. Either way, it is always unexpected and you are completely unprepared for it. My dad passed away 6 years ago today, and the memories continue to bring both tears and smiles. My mind shows me video clips of those moments in time, and the happiness we all shared with our dad. I see his smile. I remember his teasing. I hear his words of wisdom. And yes, I hear Dad’s laugh. These memories keep him in my heart until we see each other again in Heaven. I love you Dad!!

July 4, 1973Most people think of the 4th of July as a hot, mid-summer holiday to celebrate our independence, and they would normally be right…but not always. In Wyoming, and I’m sure there are a few other places as well, there are times when the 4th of July can be cold. We don’t get that too much, but we do on occasion. The year my oldest daughter, Corrie was born, I recall that it snowed on the 4th, and I found myself thinking, “How can this be happening?” Another year that saw snow on the 4th of July was 1973, which was almost 2 years before I married Bob, so I didn’t know his family then.

Apparently, they decided to take a trip up into the Shirley Mountains that day, and were surprised to find snow…quite a bit, in fact. It was obvious to me that they were unprepared for what they found in the Shirleys that morning, because the kids had on shorts and even, bathing suits. It would seem that it had been pretty hot, so when they came across that snow, everyone wanted the chance to really cool off. Everyone started dancing around on the snow… some of them, barefoot!! They were out there on the snow…dancing!! It made me think of the Ice Capades…or in this case, the Summer Ice Capades!!

They had such a good time, and I’ll bet they didn’t even notice, if their feet got cold. Or maybe they didn’t. The day doesn’t exactly look like it was cold, but it must have been, Summer Ice Capadessince there was still snow on the 4th of July. I know that it felt cold on July 4, 1975, when it snowed 4 days after Corrie was born, but maybe this snow simply hadn’t melted yet. That would indicate a colder summer, but not necessarily as cold as it was two years later.

Whatever the case, a surprise snow bank brought a cool down moment to a summer day. Sometimes, it’s the little things, things you would never expect, that end up being fun. And sometimes, when you can let go of the everyday things and see the unusual, and allow yourself to be goofy…you just might find yourself having a really great time. Happy Independence Day everyone!!!

 

You know one…that person who can keep a straight face while telling you a complete lie. No, I’m not talking about a malicious lie, but that joking thing, where they tell you some wild tale and by the time they are done, and their face hasn’t exploded into laughter, you find yourself actually believing them. Then you say something like…”Really!!” And the look on their face tells you that you were just caught…again.  In our family, that person is my son-in-law, Kevin. I can’t tell you how many times I have been caught in his trap, and then he proceeds to laugh and laugh. You can just see the delight dancing in his eyes.

Most people are more like me, I suppose. Sometimes they can keep a straight face, and sometimes it is impossible. My husband, Bob is pretty much the opposite of Kevin. If what he is saying isn’t true, he laughs every time. He would love to be able to keep a straight face, and make the joke work, but it just doesn’t happen. I suppose it is a matter of being able to control certain emotions, and if that is the case, then Bob must not be able to control his funny bone, because if it is remotely funny…even if the punch line hasn’t been given yet…Bob has to laugh about it.

I know that Bob wishes he could be more like Kevin in that way, because he would love to be able to put one over on people, and in a lot of ways I would love to be more like Kevin too, because I can only hold back sometimes…or for a little while. Then I can’t help but laugh. That’s how my girls are too. It isn’t a matter of self control exactly, but rather laugh control, and facial muscle control. Either you have that control or you don’t I guess. Kevin is one of those people who can hold it back until just the right moment, and then, when he’s got you…that’s when, he really gets a good laugh, and you simply have no choice but to laugh too, because, it’s never malicious…it hilarious!!

My grandson, Caalab loves dogs..all dogs. His goal is to have one of every kind. A lofty goal, considering the sheer number of breeds out there, but he also plans to own a place big enough to handle it, at least he is planning ahead. So far he has two dogs. Rhythm is a Beegle, and Blues is a Husky/Shepherd mix. Yes, they really are Rhythm and Blues. Caalab’s dad, Travis works for the radio station, and does a blues show, so it stands to reason.

Rhythm is an older dog, And he doesn’t like to do much…in fact never has…except when Travis decides that Rhythm needs to do some dancing. Then he holds his hand above Rhythm’s head and sings “Rhythm is a dancer!!” Rhythm dances around and around. Other than his dancing, he has always been pretty lazy…probably the main reason he is much heavier than Blues. Rhythm would eat constantly if you would let him, but he will do it is a way that takes the least amount of work. That became very obvious the other day when my daughter, Amy fed Rhythm and he started eating and after a few minutes, he got tired. So he laid down on the floor in front of his bowl and proceeded to continue eating while laying down. Never had my daughter seen such a lazy dog.

Blues is the younger of the two dogs, and he is interesting in that he has one blue eye and one brown eye. He is rambunctious like most puppies and younger dogs are, and he keeps things hopping around their house. Blue thinks water is a toy. Watering the lawn or any other use of water is open season for Blues to chase the water and try to eat it. One time when Amy had the hose and was playing with Blues, she was dancing the water around, and Blues was jumping up and down trying to catch the drops as they came down. At one point, he slipped on the wet ground and landed on his side. He let out one little yelp and that was it. He was back on his feet and back at it…chasing the drops. With two silly dogs, there is never a dull moment. It’s free entertainment.

It was raining tonight as we headed over to my in-laws house, and my thoughts wandered back to when I was a little girl. Few things were more exciting on a summer day when I was little than going outside in the rain. All you needed was an umbrella, because after all, that was what they were for, right. We would run outside the minute it started to rain, hoping for it to rain really hard so the water would run rapidly down the gutter. And once it did, we would be out there splashing along in the water, with boots on and an umbrella over our heads. I’m sure it made a funny picture.

Why is it that we all seem to have an obsession with the rain. My daughter, Amy can’t wait for the rain to come. If at all possible, she immediately goes out driving in the rain. She is totally at peace when driving in the rain. I think many of us have some of our fondest memories built around the rain. It’s got this hold on us somehow. Even when the lightning flashes and the thunder rolls, the rain is captivating. It has a peaceful feel that is beyond compare.

Tonight while driving in the rain, my mind wandered back to those days, so long ago, when all was right in my world. Nothing would ever change…I was just sure of it. And whenever it rains, I get that feeling all over again. It’s like when it rains everything is clean and new again. The world seems to renew itself.

Like that little girl playing in the rain that I once was, I still love the rain. Everything smells fresh and clean. And I feel free and at peace. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

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