driving

My grand-nephew, Zack Spethman is the tallest person in his family. At 6’4″, he is four inches taller than his dad, Steve Spethman and 1’2″ taller than his mom, Jenny Spethman. While Zack may be tall and muscular, he is also a gentleman, kind, loving…a gentle giant. That’s what his mom calls him, and anyone who knows Zack, knows that it is very true of him. Zack is a hugger. He loves his family and he would give the shirt off his back for any of us. Zack is quick to help anyone who needs help, and he works hard when he is helping someone. Because he is a big, tall guy, he is very strong and can work very hard. It is a big blessing for anyone he is helping.

Zack, like most students, has been dealing with the Covid-19 shutdowns. Having 6 months off from in-school classes has not been easy. Zack is the kind of guy who needs to be around friends. He is quite social, and sitting in front of a computer has not been easy. To make matters worse, Zack likes sports, but with the Covid shutdowns, came a time of little, or no sports. The summer camps were cancelled, and and then when things finally started back up, many of the students, Zack included, were not in shape for play. I’m sure things will come back, but Zack has lost a year of sports as a consequence of the shutdowns. I’m sure you can tell that I, like many people was not a fan of the shutdowns, but that is a topic for another story. On a positive note, Zack loves to sing, and he has begun to fill his time with choir, which is an awesome move on his part.

There are other sports that Zack can and does enjoy, like hiking, swimming, and Zack’s favorite, shooting. Zack is an excellent marksman, and very much enjoys practicing his art. In fact, his whole family loves to go shooting, and his parents are the main reason Zack is such a great marksman. Zack has been shooting since he was a little boy. He knows the proper way to shoot, to clean his gun, and has the proper respect for the gun and for human life. Zack loves to hunt, and was abt to bring home his antelope this year. He and his brothers enjoy being able to help the family finances by bring home a great supply of meat. I think kids get a sense of accomplishment out of being able to do things to help the family finances, whether its buying some of their clothes or supplying some of the food.

Zack is so patient with the younger cousins and his siblings. He never turns down a chance to do something nice for them, like teaching cousin, Adelaide Sawdon how to shoot pool, or making great heart pictures with his sister Aleesia. He also loves the family pets, and all animals, really. He is just so sweet to all of God’s creatures, human or animal, and that makes us all love him very much. Today is Zack’s 16th birthday. Did I mention that he will be driving soon, at least as soon as he can go to the DMV…just a warning. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Dustie Masterson is always an upbeat happy person. She married my nephew, Rob Masterson in 2003, and they have been soulmates since that time. They have worked very hard to build a good life for themselves and their children, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna, as well as Rob’s grown daughter, Christina, when she is in town. Dustie works as a shift leader at Walgreen’s…a job she likes very much. She is a great person to be shift leader, because she is a motivator without having to be grouchy. People just naturally like Dustie, and they want to do their best for her. That really helps in the work world. Dustie is always helpful to those in need, and that also endears her to many people. She would bend over backward to help someone who needed help.

Not everybody can join a family and fit right in. Often, people have to get used to a person, and their quirks, but apparently Dustie had the same quirks the rest of the family did, because there was very little adjustment needed. Of course, it helps that Dustie loves to make people laugh, and she isn’t shy about making a face or doing something that accomplishes that goal. Dustie always puts a smile on the faces of the people around her. And speaking of smiles, Dustie has a great one. When she smiles, her whole face smiles. That is a very special trait, and one that describes Dustie very well. Dustie is also very good to my sister, Cheryl, and that have endeared her to our family is a big way. Dustie has loved Cheryl as a mom, and that is awesome.

Dustie is a great mom. She hasn’t forgotten her own teenaged years, and with three children in that age group, a parent needs patience and wisdom. The teenaged years are emotional roller coasters, even for the calmest of kids. Now, with two of her kids in various stages of learning to drive, she really has her hands full. Of course, Rob will help with that too, but anyone who has had kids of driving age knows, every time they want to get into the car, they want to be behind the wheel. Of course, most kids learn how to drive very quickly, but there is always the snow factor, which adds a good deal of stress to the parents of these new drivers. I know that both Dustie and Rob will do well with that, because like most parents, they will make their way through the different abilities and personalities. And after these two, they only have one more new driver to go. There is hope!! Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As another child turns 16, so another child is behind the wheel. My grand-nephew, Easton Moore has reached that milestone year of his life. Easton is the younger of my niece, Machelle Moore and her husband, Steve. It’s hard for me to believe that Easton is 16 years old already. It seems like just yesterday that he was born. That is the way most parents feel about the time their child turns 16. Easton will be getting his license soon. They have to have 50/hours of day and 10/hours of night driving to do before they can get their license. He is almost there. Something new has helped Easton, that his brother, Weston didn’t have the use a driving app. They didn’t have that when Weston was learning. This years lack of snow has hampered Easton’s snow driving experience, but the past two weeks has made up for the winter’s lack of snow, so Easton is catching up fast. Machelle tells me that Easton is really improving with practice. Strangely, Powell, Wyoming, where Easton lives has just now started plowing the streets. Shocking for Wyoming.

Easton signed up for a welding course at the college that he is super excited about. The Boces program, which stands for the Board of Cooperative Educational Services. Has made many college classes available to high school students. It’s a great way to give these kids a chance to get ahead in their college education, and to make sure that the course of study is the career move they want to make. Easton is still is not sure what he wants to do after high school, but taking that class might open some doors for him.

Easton is actively looking for a job, so he can save for a car. He has a stack of applications to fill out and hand back in. Easton is motivated to help whenever anyone needs help. He just jumps up and just does it!! That says a lot about his character. Today is Easton’s 16th birthday. Pretty soon we will all need to get off the sidewalks, as a new driver hits the road. Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s been said that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I don’t think my grand-niece, Jadyn Mortensen plans to be a rodeo rider or an equestrian for a living, but she definitely is good at it as a hobby, or as her sport of choice. Jadyn has loved horses since she was just a little girl, and as she grew, her talent with them really began to shine. She really loves horses, and they respond to her by doing their very best. I don’t know what her future plans are, but she could be a great veterinarian or veterinary assistant.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and for that matter her life. Right now, Jadyn’s life centers around a few things…family, school, and horses, with a new one on the horizon, I’m sure…learning to drive. These things fall in no particular order that I’m aware of…with the exception of her number one priority…family. Jadyn is friends with both of her parents…Amanda and Sean. The family does lots of things together, as well as with friends, and Jadyn is never left out. And she still gets plenty of time to practice riding for her competitions. Anyone who thinks that champion riding just comes naturally, doesn’t know anything about it. It takes hard work and diligence. You must be dedicated to becoming a champion in order to accomplish your goals. That describes Jadyn perfectly…dedicated!!

It is so hard for me to believe that little tiny Jadyn is now 15 years old. I remember when she was born. And now her childhood years are behind her, because she is a young woman, who has a keen sense of self, and just exactly what she wants out of life. Jadyn recently competed again, and did extremely well. As her mom says, she’s living proof that hard work pays off. Jadyn has several championships to her credit, and I’m sure that many more will follow, because Jadyn does work hard and her horses work hard for her. There is a mutual love that they have for each other, and when they are competing, it is like watching a symphony…everything is in sync. Jadyn is growing into a beautiful young lady, with a heart of gold, and everyone in the family is very proud of her accomplishments. Today this girl turns 15 years old. Happy birthday Jadyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When I think of my grand niece, Raelynn Masterson, the picture that comes to mind is that of a tiny little girl of maybe 6 or 7, but Raelynn is no longer that little girl, because today is her sweet 16th birthday. I’m sure that the idea of their daughter turning 16 is even harder for her parents, Rob and Dustie Masterson, and yet, like it or not, that iconic day has arrived.

I think we all know what the 16th birthday means…driving. I’m not sure if they will get her license today, but I’m sure that it won’t be very long. Driving is the most important part of turning 16, after all. It’s the day we no longer have to depend on someone else get us where we need to go. Another plus is that once she has her license, Raelynn can help her parents with transporting her younger siblings, Matt and Anna. It will be fun for all of them.

Raelynn is a good student, who likes school, and does well in her studies. She is a quiet girl, who tends to focus on what she is doing. She has a soft heart, especially when it comes to animals, and her grandma’s cat has often been the recipient of her kind caresses. That cat loves Raelynn. She is also much loved by her siblings. Don’t get me wrong. Like all siblings, they have their fights, but when it comes down to need, those kids are there for each other. When Raelynn had to have back surgery to correct Scoliosis, her siblings were very good to her. They wanted to help her to get well quickly and their help did not go unnoticed by their sister. She will always be grateful to them.

It’s so hard to believe that Raelynn is now old enough to drive. Before long, I suppose she will have a job and will be out doing her own things and making her own money. Raelynn is a pretty responsible girl. I think she will be a good driver, and a good employee, but I still can’t resist warning the general public…”Stay off the sidewalks…new driver on the roads!” Today is Raelynn’s sweet 16th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As long has there have been road trips with children, there have been bored children, asking, “When do we get there?” They don’t understand that one of the best parts of a road trip is the time spent on the road. The destination is the end of the adventure, not necessarily the adventure itself. Invariably, after the ten time that those precious little ones ask that dreaded question, tempers begin to flare. These days, cars come with built in DVD players to occupy the kids on the road trip, but back when I was a kid, those things didn’t exist.

Somewhere along the way, someone…probably a frustrated parent…came up with the idea of allowing the kids to participate in the trip by giving them a steering wheel of their own, so they could help their parents drive. I do know that in January of 1955, a man named Jack Fletcher of West Covina, California installed a plastic windshield and three miniature steering wheels in the back seat of his car to entertain his children, Janie, Johnny and Ricky, who were 3 years, 21 months, and 21 months respectively. Apparently, it was a good idea, at least for those children, because, the idea has hung around ever since. In fact, for Christmas, we got our great granddaughter a version that can sit on the floor in front of her, or even on her highchair tray. Now she can “help” her daddy drive too. As children get older, I’m sure that the novelty of a steering wheel wore off, but if you got a year or so of peace in the car, it’s worth the effort.

Of course, when I was a kid, there were mo car seats, and it wasn’t illegal to drive with your child on your lap. Many a child, me and my sisters included, learned to steer the car while seated on our daddy’s lap. It was great fun, and a memory we will always have. I suppose that today’s drivers, police officers, and child safety advocates would cringe at the thought of a child on the lap of the driver, and maybe it wasn’t the safest way to do things, but I don’t recall hearing about dozens of children dying in that manner either, so maybe the parents of yesteryear weren’t so careless after all. All I know, is that we had a great time on those road trips.

I think most of us have, at one time or another, watched a car race, be it locally, NASCAR, or maybe even street racing…the illegal kind. We might have even raced some ourselves, because when a kid gets behind the wheel of a car, they tend to want to show off a little bit. I suppose it’s the thrill of the race, and feeling the speed of the car beneath you…whether it’s safe or not. Still, most of us don’t tend to get our cars going as fast as the real racecar drivers do. I don’t know about you, but I think that for most of us, going at some of the NASCAR speeds, in real life, is pretty insane. Those drivers are specially trained, and even then, some have been killed or severely injured in bad crashes during those races. As for me, I think I’ll leave the racing to the professionals.

Not all professionals are what you would expect, however. Yesterday, October 11, 2008 marked a very interesting day in the world of speed. On that day, a speed record was set. A man named Luc Costermans, from Belgium set a world speed record driving 192 miles per hour in a borrowed Lamborghini. What? You are sure the record is much higher than that. Well, you would be right, if we are talking about a sighted driver…but, we are not. Luc Costermans is completely blind!! I’m sure that you were as shocked as I was, but let me tell you that he is not the only blind speed racer. Luc Costermans’ record breaking run was performed on a long, straight stretch of airstrip near Marseilles, France. He was accompanied by a carload of sophisticated navigational equipment, as well as a human co-pilot, who gave directions from the Lamborghini’s passenger seat. How fast would you have to be able to give directions to correct a course error for a blind man traveling at 192 miles per hour? Seriously, I don’t know if the co-pilot was very brave, or simply insane!!

To add to the amazing nature of blind speed racing, Costermans is not the first one, and will not likely be the last. The record Costermans broke belonged to Mike Newman, who was a British driver, and who set his record exactly three years to the day before Costermans. Newman had coaxed his 507 horsepower BMW M5 to a top speed of 178.5 mph. For his part, Newman had smashed a 2 year old record 144.7 mph…that he had set himself in a borrowed Jaguar, just three days after he learned to drive. Unlike Costermans, Newman did not race with a co-pilot or a navigator. Instead, he got his father-in-law to zoom around the track behind him, shouting directions over the radio…what??? My mind was racing by this time. Again came the thought of how fast would his father-in-law have to be talking, and then, the thought that his father-in-law was also driving that fast. Was he a racecar driver too? I can’t imagine my father-in-law would have ever driven that fast. He would have asked me if I was insane.

Both of these blind record-setters are serious competitors who race all sorts of vehicles. In 2001, Newman became the fastest blind motorcycle driver in the world, with a record speed of 89 mph, set just four days after learning to ride. Five years later, Costermans flew a small airplane all around France. He was joined by an instructor and a navigator. Another record-setter, an Englishman named Steve Cunningham, had set the land-speed record himself in 1999, traveling 147 mph, while driving a Chrysler Viper, at the same time that he held the sea-speed record for a blind sailor. In 2004, guided by sophisticated talking navigational software, Cunningham became the first blind pilot to circumnavigate the United Kingdom by air. These men have taken record setting to new levels. I can’t imagine trying these stunts, but then I guess I’m not them.

A baby’s first year is always so exciting for the parents, especially if the baby is their first child. My grand niece, Adelaide Ione Sawdon is turning one today. She is a sweet little baby girl, who was named after two of her great grandmothers…one being my mom, Collene Ione Spencer. Addi is filled with happiness and a few little antics that make everyone around her smile. She keeps her parents, Jessi and Jason Sawdon quite busy…and I don’t think she is even walking one her own yet. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that she can’t get into things.

Adelaide has learned to throw kisses, and it is the cutest thing. She throws them backward…kissing the back of her hand before she throws it to you. She loves working her way into her bath seat, even if it is comical sometimes. She also loves making funny faces with her Aunt Kellie Hadlock; playing the guitar with her grandpa, Chris Hadlock; going to the office with her grandma, Allyn Hadlock; hanging out with her cousins, Ethan and Aurora Hadlock; or going shopping with her great aunts Robin Nelson and Jen Christman. She has even spent some time learning to drive with her daddy…but don’t tell anyone, because after all, she is a bit young, and he is a highway patrolman, so he shouldn’t let her drive just yet.

I only wish I had anywhere near the energy that Addi has, because I think she could out do any ten people. Addi loves her dog, Daisy, and Daisy loves her too. In fact, when Addi came home from the hospital, Daisy loved her immediately. Now they play together and they are the best of friends. Yes, Addi has had a very interesting and exciting year, and so has the rest of her family. She is so much fun to watch, and her parents make sure that we get to see lots of pictures of her activities. Today is Adelaide’s first birthday. Happy birthday Adelaide!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

WestonMy grand nephew, Weston Moore is a typical kid now turning 15 years old. Of course, we all know what reaching that milestone does to a kid. They get their learners permit, and within one short year, they are out there driving themselves to the places they need to go. It is a time of discovery for them, and maybe a little bit of sadness for their parents. There is something just a little bit disconcerting about the first time your child starts to drive the car…even if you are with them…or maybe because you are with them. That first time your child gets behind the wheel, and he has no idea what he is doing, can be…well, scary!! Nevertheless, eventually they all learn, and you get to relax again.

Weston working the concession standWeston is very active in the Boy Scouts, and is currently selling Restaurant Boy Scout Cards to earn his way to Boy Scout Camp in Minnesota. Boy Scout camp is like a rite of passage in scouting and a brand new adventure for Weston. It gives them a chance to go somewhere without their parents, and really learn to fend for themselves. Weston has gone camping quite a bit, so I know that he will do really well in that area. Of course, camping is only part of the experience. The boys will learn lots of new skills and get to spend time together enjoying the campfire. All in all, just being with the guys, having a great time. I think Weston will have an amazing time at camp.

I have always thought that Weston was a lot like his grandfather, my brother-in-law, Lynn Cook, and the older he gets, the more he reminds me of Lynn. They are two of  kind in so many ways. Their sense of humor for one. When I look at Weston’s Facebook page, I see things posted that Lynn would get a kick out of too. They are also good friends, doing things together and just spending time together.

Weston and his friendsLike most teenagers, Weston likes hanging out with his friends. He likes going to sporting events, and for one semester he worked the consession stand at the games. He had a great time doing that, and my guess is that he will do it again at some point down the road.  With the beginning of track, Weston will be really busy with practice and meets. According to his friends, the first practice went very well, and you could tell that everyone is excited to get this track season on the road. Of course, traveling to the meets is always a big thing for the kids on the team, as well as the thrill of victory. I hope this season is the best ever for them. Today is Weston’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Josh -DLWhen your youngest child reaches driving age, you most likely find yourself breathing a sigh of relief, because they can get themselves to their own functions, to school, and home again. You are also feeling a little bit apprehensive, because they are driving now. Nevertheless, you have trained them well, and you know they will be alright. When your youngest grandchild reaches driving age, you might breathe a sign of relief too, but you also suddenly feel like the years are racing by…whether you like it or not. That is exactly how I am feeling today, as my youngest grandchild, Josh Petersen turns sixteen.

I remember the day that he was born…five weeks early…the same day that he was flown to Denver, because his lungs were not quite fully developed. He would spend two weeks there, and then come home to begin the race to catch up…and it didn’t take him very long at all. I don’t think I have ever seen such a hungry kid…nor one who loved sweets as much as Josh did. His cute little “treat Grandma” was always the first thing out of his mouth when he arrived at my house. Like I could forget that he was hungry. With the way he ate, I think I expected him to be a chubby little kid, but that was not the case. Josh is tall and slender, a runner with great lung capacity, and 100% healthy. I couldn’t have asked for more for him.

Somehow in my mind, I have always seen Josh as a lot younger than the other grandkids. He isn’t, and he doesn’t act any different. It’s just my mind’s defense system, I think, making me feel like there are so many more years left that he will be the baby of the bunch, but the reality is that he is not a baby anymore. He is a young man, who is ready to set out by himself…at least in the area of transportation, because as of today, he is legal to drive by himself. No more will he need to have us come to take him places or pick him up on a regular basis. Those things will now be relegated to times when his pickup breaks down or something. Oh, he may need to have someone run home to get something he’s forgotten and bring it to him, but I suspect that those Josh in trucktimes will get fewer and further in between as time goes on.

As Josh turns sixteen, many things in the Petersen family will change again. It is how life goes, and nothing we do can change it. Kids grow up and become adults, and before you know it they are married with families of their own, and you find out that you have become the grandparent. There is no way to stop time, and for me that means that my youngest grandchild is growing up. Look out folks, Josh Petersen in a legal driver and on the road. I’d tell you to clear the sidewalks, but I think he will do alright. Today is Josh’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Remember that I have confidence on you, so stay off the sidewalks…with your truck anyway. Have a great day!! We love you!!

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