girls

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My nephew, Tucker Schulenberg has been through a number of big changes over the past year, not the least of which is a name change. This past summer found Tucker’s dream coming true, when his dad, Ron Schulenberg officially adopted him. It is something Tucker had wanted almost since the day his mom, Rachel Schulenberg married his new dad. They are best buddies. Tucker has looked up to Ron for years now, and carrying his name is the ultimate honor for both of them. We are all very happy for them all, because we have all wanted this as well. Now, Ron and Tucker work together and play together. Ron is a great role model for Tucker, and he is very, very proud of his son.

Tucker is in his first year of middle school now, and with that change has come some other changes…some his mother is almost dreading. The biggest “dread” for Rachel is girls!! Nevertheless, try as she might to avoid it, Tucker is a bit of a chick magnet. So far this year, Tucker has had four girlfriends. I guess that his love of girls is definitely in the early stages…nothing serious for Rachel to worry about. Tucker is a complex kind of guy, and that might be what attracts him to the girls. He is well liked at school, for several reasons. Tucker likes to share the wealth, so to speak. He shares gum…by the 6 pound bags…with the kids at school. It’s not just the gum that makes the kids all like him, however. Tucker hates bullying, and will not tolerate it, against himself or others. He stops it in its tracks. While Tucker isn’t one to pick a fight, he will fight it it’s necessary to stop bullying. That is something that makes us all very proud.

Tucker likes LEGOs, YouTube, comics, the outdoors, shooting targets, and his dog. His varied interests, and his friendly nature, make him fit in everywhere. While his new interests make all the kids at school like him, Tucker still loves his daddy the best. They will always be best friends. Tucker is growing up fast, and I find myself amazed at how big he has grown. Where have all the years gone. It seems like just yesterday that Tucker was the almost 3 year old son of my brother-in-law’s new wife, but that was 9 years ago. Today is Tucker’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

One of the most common practices of the school year is the routine fire drill. These days, children are well aware of what is going on, and often look forward to being able to vacate the classroom…even if only for a few minutes. The routine fire drill is designed to insure that the students leave the premises without panic, whether there is an actual fire or not. These drills were not always routine, the ensuing panic could be deadly.

In 1851, in Greenwich Avenue school, located at 36 to 40 Greenwich Avenue. When the fire alarm sounded, the children panicked. They had not been trained to calmly exit the building, and in the ensuing panic, 40 children were killed. There was no fire, and the fire alarm had been set off by accident, but the children had no idea what to do, and so went running in fear. The deaths were horrible trample deaths. More children were injured.

The tragedy of 1851 was almost repeated in 1882, when a fire drill went off at Grammar School Number 41, at the same sight of the 1851 panic. The situation may have occurred on a different date, but the result was the same…panic. When the fire alarm sounded, someone cried, Fire!!” After that, chaos took over, and the same disaster could have happened, had not the teachers, janitor, firemen, and police stayed calm. Somehow they managed to calm the children down. The adults behaved with such rare intelligence and energy that the panic was stayed and nearly all the children reached the avenue unharmed. Grammar School Number 41 was an all-girl school. At the time of the panic 610 students were in the 11 classrooms of the primary school on the first floor, under Miss Susanna Whitney, and 669 were in the 19 classrooms of the grammar school on the second and third floors, under Miss Lizzie Cavannah. There was a female teacher in each of the classrooms.

Somehow, all of the 1200+ students got out alive. When the school reopened, an order was received from City Superintendent John Jasper to perfect the scholars in the fire drill. “Each scholar has a numbered peg on which to hang her clothes, and the fire drill consisted in sounding an alarm, when the scholars are required to get their clothes and collect their books and return to their seats. Meanwhile preparations were made for the teachers to be on the landings of the seven staircases, four of which are fire-proof, which lead to the four exits on Greenwich-avenue. At a signal the children were to rise and go out calmly. Going down the stairs one only was permitted to be on each side of the staircase, where there is a handrail, and the exit to the avenue was required to be in an orderly manner.”

Previously, the fire drill alarm was sounded on the tinkling class bells from bell handles in the assembly room of the primary and grammar departments. This was deemed unsafe, as it necessitated the pulling of as many handles as there were classrooms. It had to change. To make a simultaneous alarm, three large fire-gongs were installed, so that the whole school could be notified by pulling at three handles. It does not appear that the students knew of the new arrangement. Some of them had heard of the gongs, but they had not heard them strike, and they did not receive instructions about them, which would have helped immensely. It was agreed between Miss Whitney and Miss Cavannah that a fire drill should be held on a particular day. They believed that the 140 new and untrained students in the primary school and 90 new girls in the grammar school would follow the example of the trained students. At 2:40pm, Miss Cavannah had the alarm struck on the second and third floors. Six strokes were sounded on each gong. The deep, loud noise, resembling the clang of a fire engine gong, startled even the trained students, and as they whispered to each other “fire drill” in going for their clothes the untrained students misunderstood them, and believed that the school was on fire, and that the noise of the gongs was the bells of the engines summoned to the school. There was a panic immediately, and 50 fearful girls ran screaming and bareheaded from the grammar school to the street before the teachers could spring to the doorways, bar exit, and command order. The screaming and confusion overheard alarmed the students and teachers in the primary school, but the doors were guarded before more than 25 or 30 children escaped. For several minutes the teachers had hard work to keep back the imprisoned children. The trained students were as alarmed as the new ones, and some of them wept and begged piteously as they, despite the assurances of their teachers, who all behaved bravely except for one instance, that of a new instructress, who for a time did not understand the situation. Some of the children even ran home and told their parents and neighbors that the school was on fire and the children were burning. It almost created a panic of the whole town. It quickly became clear that prior to the first drill, the students needed instruction on procedure.

My nephew, Josh Griffith is a hard working man, who loves his family, and would do anything for them. He is constantly doing things to improve their home,and he is always able to fix the things that break. Their house is all electric, but they are planning to change it to a gas furnace this year. For now, the family needs 4 trailer loads of wood a year to heat the home without using the electric heat. Josh spend a lot of his free time chopping and splitting the wood so that the family can stay warm all winter. My niece and his wife, Susan helps too, but chopping wood is a tough job for most women, and so Josh does most of it by himself. Josh also spends a good deal of his time keeping the family from being snowed in. He plows snow almost constantly…and does it all without complaint…because he is the provider, and it’s for his family.

Josh has spent a lot of time teaching his girls to ride horses. Susan didn’t grow up around horses, and so she wasn’t too sure about riding horses.Josh worked with her, and before long, Susan has a good time with it. Their daughters, Jala and Kaytlyn have grown up around horses, and so they will be naturals at it. Josh and Jala go riding quite a bit and have even hunted together. Susan says that Josh is definitely the more hands on parent. I suppose that is because Susan has always had such a soft heart. She parents in a different way. Nevertheless, Josh taught Jala to drive more than Susan did because she said, “I was so scared.” It can be scary to teach a child to drive. It seems that usually one of the other parent has the right temperament for it, and the other doesn’t. Clearly, Josh will be the driving instructor for their girls.

Josh does work very hard, but work is not the only thing we do for our families. There is the all important quality time as a family too. This year, Josh and Susan took the girls to the Billings Fair, in Billings Montana. Living in a small town like Powell, the girls don’t usually have a chance to ride on some of the cool rides that they have in bigger cities. This year, the big deal was the Black Out. It is a totally crazy ride, that I would personally never ride. Susan said that all the rides at the Billings fair were so nice, and just seemed safer. Susan doesn’t have to worry about the girls being on the rides, because Josh always rides rides with the girls. Susan stands by holding everyone’s things…sounds like the place I would want to be too. Thankfully for Susan, Josh takes care of that for her…and she is so grateful for that and everything else Josh does for them. Today Is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, Matthew Masterson is growing up so fast. According to his mom, Dustie Masterson, Matthew is a real man boy these days. He is very protective of his mom and his sisters. When his dad, my nephew, Rob Masterson had to go to South Carolina for training for work, it ended u being at the same time that Matthew was supposed to be staying in Fort Laramie, Wyoming with a friend of his. As Matthew thought about his mom and sisters at home without a man in the house, he just couldn’t stand it. And his mom secretly felt the same way. Matt called his mom and asked her to drive to Fort Laramie and pick him up. The visit with his friend would have to be another time. So right after she dropped Rob at the airport, she made the drive back up to pick him up. Matt stuck to his mom and sisters like glue, even going outside with his mom when she went out to smoke. When his dad is not home, Matt considers himself the family protector. He is learning to shoot and to be safe with guns, so he can keep his family safe.

Matt is turning 13, and going into 7th grade this year. It’s hard to believe he is getting so grown up. Matt is totally into online gaming with his friends from school. He really likes Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Siege 6 and Fortnight. Now, if only he can remember not to “team kill” and get banned for another week. I guess it’s easy to get carried away sometimes. Nevertheless, I’m sure that it won’t take him too long to become a master at both games. Gaming if great, but Matt likes to cook too, and when given the choice between cooking with his mom and gaming…well cooking is the only thing that Matt will immediately flip off the Xbox for.

Matt’s family recently moved into a new home, and now he has his own room, which he really loves. One surprising thing came about with having his own room. Suddenly Matt is meticulous about keeping his room clean. Now that, for most boys is a amazing thing, of course, it all gets back to normal for boys when you hear that along with having his room clean, he also works very hard to keep it girl free!! I guess it’s one thing to be protective of his sisters, but totally another to share his space with them. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Christina Masterson and my granddaughter, Shai Royce were like two peas in a pod as kids. Unfortunately, now that they live far apart, they don’t get to spend much time together. Nevertheless, they pretty much crammed a lifetime of mischief into those young years…like most kids. The things they used to do, while not really bad, were a part of the same shock factor actions of the kids today. I remember Shai being in my car, and suddenly yelling out the window at someone on the street, “Hi!!” After they looked at her, and me like we were crazy, she told me that she and Christina do that all the time. In my day, we didn’t want to look like the nut case in town, but apparently in their day, it was the cool thing to do. I guess I should be thankful that they were not the boys with their jeans around their knees. When I was a kid, it was the kids who didn’t want to be seen with the parents because they “might” do something embarrassing. So, now I guess it’s the in thing to be embarrassing, but I can promise you that, if I did that from their car, they would be quick to tell me in a shocked voice, “Grandma/Aunt Caryn, what are you doing?? Shhhhhh!!!” Apparently, I’ll never be back in the cool generation…sigh!!

Christina and Shai were born just 5 days apart, and they were among 6 of my parent’s grandchildren born over a three year period…all the rest of those grandkids were boys. I guess the girls would have to stick together. They would try to hide out away from the boys, but you know how little boys are. They did their very best to torment the girls. That of course resulted in much screaming from the girls. They could make it sound like mass murder, when it was simply that the boys were in the same room…or the same universe for that matter. And telling them to ignore them, you received a look like, “what does that even mean?” They just thought it was their right to ask for the removal of the offending boy, preferably to a different family. Of course, the main tormenter cousin was my grandson, Caalab Royce…Shai’s brother. That made matters far worse. Not only was he wanting to play, but Shai was around him all the time, so the screaming was more like howling!!! Caalab was always a true teaser, and the girls were his favorite target. I can’t tell you how many times Shai told me she wanted to have he adopted…by any other family in the world!! Thankfully, the three of them are the best of friends these days…who would have thought.

A number of years ago, Christina moved to Colorado to live with her mom, and finished growing up there. I have to admit that while the drama of those prior years drove me and their moms crazy, I missed it too. Christina graduated from high school, and went on to study dental hygiene. When she was done with school she got a place of her own, and in true Drama Queen Fashion, she has decorated her apartment with all the girlie, drama queen things. I don’t know about the rest of the apartment, but Christina has a pink living room, and I have to admit, drama queen or not, I think its really cute!! Today is Christina’s birthday. Happy birthday Christina!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As my Aunt Evelyn Hushman’s birthday approaches, I wanted to look back to the years when she was growing up. She was the oldest of nine children, and so in many ways she became like a second mom to the younger kids…but, not exactly, in that my grandmother, Hattie Byer was a stay at home wife and mom all the years of her marriage. That was pretty much how it was in those days. I don’t know if shyness or being outgoing is something that a person is born with or not, but as the oldest child, with eight siblings, I seriously doubt if my Aunt Evelyn had the opportunity to be shy. And whatever the case on heredity might be, she certainly was not shy, but grew up to be a very outgoing person who had a wonderful circle of friends.

I think most of her family knows a lot about Aunt Evelyn as an adult, but I wanted to find out some things about her as a teenager, so I went looking on Ancestry and I was not disappointed. Ancestry has recently started putting the yearbooks from the schools on the site, and I found just what I was looking for there. As a senior, Aunt Evelyn was a part of the Junior Follies, which is a play put on by the senior class. The Follies at Natrona County High School began in 1925, and in the years that have followed, numerous student, alum, and community productions have graced the stage. The money made from the Follies was used to fund the prom. I never knew that my Aunt Evelyn was an actress…and, even if it was only for a short time, I think it’s very cool, but not as cool as what I found next.

The second thing I found out about Aunt Evelyn…one that really doesn’t surprise me that much, because it is so very much in character for her, was that as a senior, she was a Big Sister. Now, I’m sure that you thought about her eight younger siblings, and thought, “Of course, she was! We knew that!” Her siblings are not the people I am talking about, however. In the late 1940s at Natrona County High School, there was a group of senior girls, all of whom were required to have a high three point grade average, and who possessed dependability and leadership skills. Being a part of a program like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, is something we have all heard about these days. It is a mentoring program. However, Big Sisters at Natrona County High School was a bit different than that. At the beginning of the school year, each of the Big Sisters were assigned three or four little sisters, who were sophomores. Basically the duties of a Big Sister were to give advise and help out in any way she can to make the transition from Junior High to High school a successful one for the little sisters. This aid might come in the form of helping with Latin translation…or it could be help to find a date for the Co-Ed Ball, which was later named Football Ball. Many people who went by the Girls’ League room might have noticed Big and Little Sisters leaving notes on the bulletin board in the room…especially in the fall of the year. Of course, those notes were to ask or offer help with this or that, but many people wondered if the room was the Pony Express station, the post office, or the general exchange. They couldn’t have been more wrong, it was just a group of girls who were blessed enough to have a helper, or to be one. And, it makes me proud to know that my Aunt Evelyn was one of those amazing Big Sisters. Today would have been Aunt Evelyn’s 89th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much.

When you are a part of an outdoorsy family, things like hiking, horseback riding, camping, and hunting are second nature. The funny thing is that growing up, my niece, Susan Griffith really didn’t seem that type to me. In fact, Susan grew up being a city girl, not a country girl. All that changed when she and her husband, Josh moved to the country, outside of Powell, Wyoming. Since then, Susan has thrived on every aspect of the country life. Together they ride horses, go camping as much as they possibly can, go fishing, and hiking. Susan has told me that if they could, she and Josh would live in the mountains, but of course, that wouldn’t really work well for their girls, because kids need to be in school, with their friends, and their activities. So, I guess that living in the mountains will have to come after their girls are grown up and living on their own.

Susan and Josh are great parents. They are raising their girls to be strong, capable young ladies. Of course, they encourage the girly things, but they have also shown them the other side of things. They go hunting, and have taught their older daughter, Jala to hunt too. Kaytlyn’s turn will come when she gets a bit older. Going hunting has helped to fill their freezer with meat, and saves money on the food budget. So far this year, both Josh and Jala have shot their elk, but Susan has yet to get hers. With that in mind, this weekend is going to be a birthday hunting weekend, and I hope Susan has a successful hunt.

Susan has felt like she is living a dream life ever since she and Josh met. She and Josh are so happy with the life they have built together. Josh has helped Susan expand her horizons so much. Some of the things she was skeptical about, like 4 wheelers, are no longer an issue for her. She is confident and capable, and she loves horseback riding, which they started to help her get over her fear of 4 wheeling. I guess it was just something about being out there with no car around you for protection, which makes sense to me, since I’m not a motorcycle/4 wheeler fan myself. Susan has, in many ways, become a completely different person since she met Josh. She is feeling blessed, and loving every minute of it. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan! Have a great day and a great hunt!! We love you!!

For my nephew, Eric Parmely, married life has mostly been about being outnumbered by girls…at least since he and his wife, Ashley started having children. Don’t get me wrong here…Eric wanted girls. He came from a family with three boys, and he was the youngest. He had always wanted to have a daughter, and really never expected to have one. Let’s face it, in a family of all boys, having a girl is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, Eric and Ashley beat the odds and had not only one daughter, Reagan, but were blessed with a second daughter, Hattie.

Eric and Ashley had purchased a house in the country, next door to her parents. They wanted the country life, and with her parents horses, they knew that they would be able to give their children the kind of life they wanted for them. Living in the country and having animals, is something they are all interested in. The girls don’t care that farming and caring for animals is a “dirty” job, because they love their animals. They get right out there and help their Daddy and Mommy with whatever they are doing on the farm.

Eric’s life is full and happy, but now…if it is possible, his life is going to get even more full. They are now expecting a little boy to join their family in the near future. While Eric and now his little boy will still be outnumbered by the girls in the family, they can at least say that they have each other when outnumbering becomes an issue. Although, when in coms to getting into the bathroom when teenaged girls are in there…all bets are off. It’s going to be fun to watch the transition from all girls to a boy in the family, and I know that they many stages that are to come will be lots of fun for both Eric and Ashley. And after all, it’s all about building a life. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

1524622_671825779529276_1711248615_naSquatting down to look upLots of kids love to spend the night with their grandparents, and my grand niece, Siara Harman was no different. Lots of girls are drama queens too, and again, my grand niece, Siara was no different. What was different was that Siara was a drama queen and grandma’s girl at the tender age of just two years. Siara and her grandma, my sister, Cheryl Masterson loved to spend time together, but with Cheryl working, they were more limited to the weekends. Problem solved…almost every Friday, Cheryl would have Siara spend the weekend with her. Siara loved it. She would come in the house, and immediately get comfortable, by stripping right down to her undies, something lots of kids find the most comfortable. Who needs clothes anyway…right.

Siara and her grandma would do lots of things, like watch movies, play games, and read books. Of course, there were the aunts and uncle there too, because they were just barely in double digit ages themselves. That made it lots of fun too, because Siara had lots of kids to play with. Nevertheless, it was her grandma that Siara really came to see. They were best friends, and even though Siara is 23 years old now, they are just as close today, although Siara doesn’t spend the night any more. Siara loved sleeping with grandma those days, and even liked hanging out in Grandma’s bed during the day. It was their way of having a lazy girls weekend. I wish I could spend the day in bed sometimes. Of course, Cheryl couldn’t spend the day there, during the day, it was mostly just Siara…chillin’…for a few minutes anyway, until she went to see what her friend, i.e. grandma was up to, because that was more interesting, after all.

When Sunday morning rolled around, it was time to go to church, and Siara liked that as much as any other part of the weekend. The problem occurred after church…when it was time to go home. Her mom, Chantel would come to pick her up, and the drama queen came out. When she was told that it was time to go home, Siara would slump down in her chair, with her head flopping down in an exaggerated show of utter devastation, and yell, “It’s only been a minute!!!” My niece, Chantel Balcerzak, Siara’s mom, said, “No baby, you have been here all weekend.” Again, Siara would yell, “No!!! It’s only been a minute!!! Now for a grandmother, that kind of display immediately tears at your heart. Cheryl would say, “Can’t you come back later and get her?” Chantel mostly said that Siara had spent enough time, but sometimes she would give in, or Cheryl would agree to bring 20131_237936679000_2548401_n15672720_10208173123661731_7457098709153368598_nSiara home later. The thing is, it wasn’t a tantrum, that made Siara argue about the time to go home, but rather that she loved her grandma so much, and she hated to leave, because it seemed an eternity until the next time she got to come over. Of course, she loved her family too, but her grandma time was special, and after all, it had only been a minute since she got there. It couldn’t be time to go home already. Time flies when you are having fun, and I think most of us can relate to Siara’s thinking on the matter. Today is Siara’s birthday. Happy birthday Siara!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Christmas PastBrenda by the Christmas treeAs I was contemplating the Christmas Day activities to come, my mind wandered back to Christmases of my past. As a child, I remember waking up very early, with struck orders not to go out into the living room until our parents were awake. It seemed like a lifetime before they woke up. It wasn’t, of course, but in my youthful mind, it felt that way nevertheless. Christmas was a day to stay home. After the presents were opened, the cooking began. Of course, the turkey had been cooking for a while by then…another sign that Mom and Dad weren’t really still sleeping when we were trying to wake them up. My sisters and I had the rest of the morning to play with our new toys, and help out in the kitchen. It didn’t matter if it was snowing outside or not, because we had no place to go…the day was ours. I miss those carefree, slowed down, stay-at-home Christmases sometimes.

When I got married, there were suddenly two families to spend Christmas…and every other holiday, with. Things got hectic very fast. We found ourselves running from one house to the other in celebration of the day. Yes, there was plenty of stress, but there really was celebration too, because Christmas is a day of celebration, both in the spiritual and secular versions. Families worked together to make for an easy transition from one house to the other, even though each one wished they could have had a little bit more time with us. Finally, at the end of a very long day, wonderful as it was, we dragged ourselves back home, and figured that there was always tomorrow to stay home and let the kids play with all of their new things.

When our girls got married a whole new facet was added to the Christmas/holiday mix. Not only was there still NativityAmy & Corrie Christmas dollhousemy family and Bob’s, but now we had Kevin’s and Travis’ families. The holidays became almost chaotic. Still, it was about family, and that was what mattered. Our families, their families, one big happy family. What I learned from this time spent reminiscing is that whatever Christmas or the other holidays are to your family, that is the thing that matters, because after the real reason for the Christmas season…the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ…family is the next thing in the line of the most important things in life. Merry Christmas to all of my dear family, and everyone everywhere.

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