I can’t let my daughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen’s birthday go by without thinking of the other family birthday that is on this day…Corrie’s great grandmother, Nettie Knox. The day Corrie was born my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg, brought her mother in to see the baby. The first thing grandma said was that Corrie had been born on her birthday. She was so excited that her very first great grandchild had been given as a birthday gift to her. And a gift it was, to both of them. A gift that had the ability to transcend time and great distance.
Sharing a birthday with her great grandmother built an unbreakable bond between Corrie and Grandma Knox. They shared each and every birthday from Corrie’s birth in 1975 to Grandma’s passing on July 29, 1990, just one month after Corrie’s 15th birthday. Not a birthday goes by now, that Corrie doesn’t think of her great grandmother, and the bond that they will always share. Even though her great grandmother is in Heaven now, the bond is as real as it ever was. Grandma Knox lives always in Corrie’s heart as her great grandmother and her birthday buddy, and that is a special thing that just doesn’t happen everyday. It is a special thing only for a select few who happen to be blessed enough to be born a birthday gift to their great grandmother.
It seems impossible that I have been a grandmother for twenty years now, but with this birthday, my first grandchild, Christopher Petersen turns twenty. We were so excited about his impending birth…and then he was here. Like his mother, he had arrived on his great grandmother’s birthday. There was excitement all around. As Christopher grew, we were treated to his smiling face, his cute little animal sounds, and his antics. He loved throwing all the clothes out of the clothes basket, and climbing in instead. Every time he did something new, he was so pleased with himself. Chris loved being the funny man. Still, as much as Chris liked the funny side of life, I can also tell you that Chris is a young man of deep feelings too. He is sensitive to the needs of other people, and he hates hurting anyone’s feelings.
Chris is very close to his parents, Corrie and Kevin Petersen, and his brother, Josh. Leaving home for college, while a great experience, has been hard of Chris too. He reminds me a lot of myself in that way, because I like living in the same place as my family. I know that doesn’t work out for everyone, but for me, and for Chris…we really wish it would. I can see Chris coming home after college, and opening his own restaurant. It has been a dream of his for some time now. College, for Chris, has been a means to an end. It remains to be seen, what kind of cuisine Chris will choose, but I think he has some ideas in mind, and he is a great chef!!
For Chris, there is no greater hobby than working on cars…especially hot cars. I think he gets that from his dad and both grandpas. Chris has a Camaro that he loves to work on, and whenever he is home from school, he, his brother, Josh, and their dad can be found out in the garage or in the front driveway working on their respective cars or trucks. It’s a great way for them to bond…and to have great cars too.
With all that the guys do together, they still don’t forget about the one female in the family, my daughter, Corrie. I would love to say that they treat her like a princess, and really they do, but she has to be the most picked on princess ever, because they all love to tease her. That is something the boys learned from their dad, Kevin. They can tell you a story with a straight face, and make you believe it…or at least wonder. That is one of their best talents, and Chris is one of the best kidders. Today is Chris’ 20th birthday. I can’t believe it. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Into most little lives, a sibling must enter. Sometimes the baby is born into a family with other children, and so they just seem like a normal part of life, but sometimes as can be the case with the oldest child, that new little sibling is a bit of a culture shock. Still, most of the time the older child is very excited about this new little playmate, but sooner or later it occurs to the older child that this new little baby sure gets a lot of attention, or cries a lot, or is…basically very needy. That is the point when they become just a little bit disenchanted with this new little person, and they start to wonder why their parents decided to get this kid anyway. And sometimes they are very jealous of this new sibling, and really want the baby to be sent back. Oh they may still love them sometimes, but they sure can be annoying, and they sure take up a lot of Mommy’s and Daddy’s time. Time that used to be exclusively the older child’s time, and now must be shared.
For my niece Chantel Masterson Balcerzak, who really did love her sister, Toni Masterson Chase, and who I don’t really think ever felt a lot of resentment, I suppose it was really just a matter of letting everyone know that she was still there. Chantel was always a bit of a Diva, and so she liked her fair share of attention. She liked being the big sister, and helping her mom with the kids who came along after her, but just remember that she was still there, and she was after all…cute too. Of course, it wasn’t like anyone was going to forget that, because after all…Chantel was the first grandchild and the first niece, and we were all excited to have her here. Nevertheless, I suppose that when Toni came along, there was a bit of attention being paid to the new baby. So, our Chantel decided that it was time to remind us that she was the baby too.
That said, one day, Chantel saw Toni’s empty baby carrier, and decided that she would just show us that she still fit the part of baby pretty well. So, she proceeded to plop down in the baby carrier, get her self situated in a very comfortable position, and flash that cute little smile of hers, as if to say, “I’n da baby too!!” Chantel was never a very big girl…in fact, fully grown, she is only 4’10”, so she really could fit in that baby carrier at two years old. I guess she proved her point. She could still play the part of a baby. Still, as the Diva part of Chantel continued to grow, she really didn’t want to take Toni’s place for very long, and as we all know, being the baby really can be kind of boring, especially when they are at the age of doing a lot of sleeping. That part didn’t interest Chantel very much at all. She was always a busy little girl, who had a lot of living to do. Sleeping was overrated. In the end, she opted for being the big sister over being the baby.
When 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 times 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!!
Machelle is the third granddaughter of my in-laws, and our niece, of course. She and my girls were all born pretty close together, with Corrie, our oldest, born 1 year and 5 months before Machelle, and our youngest, Amy born 6 months before Machelle. The girls were always close, even though as little ones they obviously fought as often as they played…normal for most kids. Nevertheless, they always had great fun playing together, and spent a week at each other’s house during the summer, after Machelle’s family moved to Thermopolis, Wyoming when she was little. We would send the girls for a week, and then a while later, we would have Machelle for a week. Those were great times for the girls, but by the time the week was over, Debbie and I were ready to have things back to normal.
Machelle was born on her Grandpa Knox’s birthday…the second grandchild to do that, with Corrie arriving on Grandma Knox’s birthday. I will never forget that year, since Bob and I had traveled to visit his Aunt Linda and Uncle Bobby Cole the day after Thanksgiving that year. We found out that Machelle had arrived while we were in Kennebec, South Dakota. Then, on our way back, we ended up driving in a blizzard and were forced to stop near Lusk, Wyoming for about an hour before the roads cleared enough to go on. Not the most pleasant trip home, but I do remember Machelle’s birth very clearly because of it.
Because Machelle’s birthday is the 28th of November, every few years, she gets an extra special birthday dinner…like today, because it falls on Thanksgiving. Unlike having your birthday on Christmas, having it on Thanksgiving isn’t so bad, because everyone can be thankful for Machelle and for another year of having this sweet person in our lives. She has been a great help to the family in the years when we were taking care of her Grandma and Grandpa Schulenberg. She never hesitated to do whatever was asked of her, and for my father-in-law, that was an endearing quality. It showed her love for them, and it meant a lot to him. For all that Machelle did, I am very thankful today. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a wonderful day, and a very happy Thanksgiving too. We are very thankful for you. We love you!!
That first grandchild is such a unique event in the life of a grandparent. For years their family has had grown children in it, but no babies. Then comes that day that will take the family into a new era. The kids become aunts, uncles, and parents; and the parents become grandparents. The funny thing is that no one seems to mind this drastic change that one would think feels like aging. The reason is quite simple…a precious new life has arrived, and that is what really matters. It is a new and exciting time, and there is a new little life to love. That is how my grandparents and their family, my Uncle Bill, my dad, Allen, and my Aunt Ruth felt, when my cousin Gene made his debut. Any of us who have been aunts, uncles, parents, or grandparents can fully understand what a special day this was.
The day was November 5, 1939, when Eugene Herman Fredrick was born. He was a gentle child, with a quiet disposition. He would grow to be a man who loved to learn about the inner working of machinery, and also a love of woodworking. He built furniture that his son, Tim would later call a legacy. Tim would inherit that love of woodworking from his dad, and I suspect that Tim’s som Daniel might too.
Gene was instrumental, along with his sons, Tim and Shawn, in helping his Uncle Bill get as far as he did on the family history. Gene was much more computer savvy than his Uncle Bill, so he was able to scan things for him and even save pictures that might otherwise have been lost forever. Uncle Bill mentions Gene fondly in several places in the family history, and was clearly devastated at his death, saying that his “grief and heartache at Gene’s loss would be very difficult to out live”. I don’t think he was alone in his intense feelings of loss, as Gene was a sweet, gentle man, who loved everyone, and was kind to all.
Gene’s greatest love on this earth was for his family. He was totally gone on his wife, Paula, and his boys, Tim and Shawn, and grandson, Daniel. His boys were his friends in so many things, sharing in his love for making things, especially wood furniture, and so many other things that would turn his sons into the wonderful men we all know today. There are many of us out there that will always miss him. Today Gene would have been 74 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven, Gene!! You are loved and missed very much by all who knew you.
For some time now, my niece, Jenny has thought that her son, Isaac looks like his great grandpa, my Dad. Whenever she, or anyone else says that, I look at him, and I can kind of see it, but I wasn’t sure. For me, it can take a while to see those similarities…mostly I suppose because the similarity is often from a specific age of the proposed look alike, but once you see what the other person saw the looked so similar, there is just no doubt.
It is often easier to see the similarities when you are talking about a father/son or even grandparent/grandchild, but a great grandparent/great grandchild and beyond is often a little more difficult to see…at lease for a number of years, in most cases. One of the things I see about Isaac is that he is quick to smile, like my Dad was. I think they might share more that physical looks. They might have a very similar sense of humor. I do know that Isaac gets the same little look on his face when he is about to pull something on someone that I have seen on my dad’s face…it’s one of those funny little looks that tells you immediately that you are about to get picked on…if you are quick enough to notice it.
There are other similarities between Isaac and my dad too, of course. They had the same nose, smile, chin, and especially eyes, of a deep amazing blue color, and of course, the twinkle. I look forward to watching Issac grow up, to see how much he looks like my dad at ages older than what they were in these pictures. I think that as he gets older, we will see so many ways that he is like Dad. Often, when someone is so similar to another person, those similarities carry into other areas of their lives. I think Issac could do no better than to be like his great grandpa. He would be an amazing man, if he was like my dad.
Susie is the first grandchild born to my mom’s parents, and her birth would announce a major change in the family. Born just 3 years after her youngest aunt, gave her access to instant playmates. There was no need for play dates with all the aunts and uncles she had to play with. She also had an abundance of babysitters, although as she got older, she might not have appreciated so many bosses in her life. Still, the playmates she gained from having the younger 3 aunts made life interesting. I’m quite sure their role in her life changed as time went on too. From being allowed to hold the baby, when she was really little to using the baby to play house, to having tea parties with their little friend. No matter what the game, the four of them played through the years.
Susie would not be the only grandchild for very long though. With the addition of her little brother, George, my grandparent’s second grandchild, just a little over a year after her own birth, Susie became a big sister, and before long would be the big sister to 4 siblings in all. Now her world was filled with lots of playmates and lots of fun. Being the big sister can have its advantages, in that you get to tell all the little ones what games you are going to play, because they don’t know all the cool games. Of course, that phase doesn’t last too awfully long before they want to start presenting ideas of their own. That can be a bummer if you are used to having the say in the matter, but Susie has always seemed to me like a person who gets along well with others. Of course, I can’t really speak to how she was as a little kid, because…well, I wasn’t born until she was 8 years old, and even then, she would be a teenager before I would know much about her temperament. I can say, however, that I have always felt like Susie was very easy to get along with, and I have enjoyed any time I spent with her, so I expect that she was the same as a kid.
One of the sweetest things that Susie has done, as far as I’m concerned is that she and her sister, Shelley hold occasional luncheons for my mom, aunts, and uncles. It is such a wonderful thing to do for them. They can all get together at Susie’s house, and they don’t have to cook or clean up after, but rather they can just enjoy the time they have to reminisce about the past, and talk about what their families are doing these days. It means so much to all of them, especially since every year seems to find them smaller and smaller in number. Susie’s mom, my Aunt Evelyn, who is the oldest of my grandparent’s 9 children, just turned 84, so time together is important. We just never know how many more years our aunts and uncles will have together.
Today is Susie’s birthday. I want to wish this sweet and special cousin of mine a very happy birthday. Susie, you are a wonderful person, and I hope you have a wonderful day. Thanks you for all you have done for my mom, and the aunts and uncles. Happy birthday, we all love you!!
There is something special about being born on your great grandfather’s birthday. It becomes a bond between the two of you…something you will always share. That is the bond that my niece Machelle shared with her great grandfather…my mother-in-law’s dad. I was a unique birthday type that would be the second of it’s kind in our family. This kind of birthday makes the people involved very close. For the grandparent, it is like a special birthday gift…one that can’t be bought with money…a miracle that just happened to arrive on your special day. Very cool!!
For the grandchild, it gives a sense of connection to someone in a very special and unique way. One that your friends don’t usually get to have. And since Machelle was the second grandchild in our family to manage to arrive on a great grandparent’s birthday, it placed a connection between her and her cousin, my daughter, Corrie, who had also been born on a great grandparent’s birthday, and in fact, the same set of great grandparents, only her great grandmother. Now I don’t know the statistics on just how rare that is, but I do know it is unusually common in our family, having occurred 3 times over the years…but that is another story.
Machelle and her great grandfather celebrated birthdays together, and shared a closeness that can only come from such a special bond. Unfortunately, those special birthday moments were only to last until Machelle was 9 years old, at which time her great grandpa passed away from cancer. Still, I’m quite certain the bond between them remains in her heart.
Those things…that sense of connection to your great grandfather in a very special way…never really pass away. They are with you on every birthday. You don’t celebrate your special day without taking a moment to reflect on your great grandfather, and what he meant to you. You celebrate the day for both of you, because it occurs to you that without him you would not exist, and also that you were a very special birthday gift to him. One he would always look at as being very cool!! His birthday present. And as for the rest of us…well, we think Machelle is a beautiful, wonderful woman, who is a blessing to know. Happy birthday Machelle!! We love you.
Halloween is here, and all the kids will be out tonight dressed up as whatever their imaginations can come up with. I personally like the cute costumes better than the scary or evil ones. I always have. I was never into horror movies, and I don’t like scary things, so it just stands to reason that I like the cute costumes.
My grandchildren have outgrown…for the most part…the trick or treating part of Halloween, but during their time they have been everything from a pea pod as a baby to a pirate, because it’s not wimpy. Probably my favorite for Chris was the Lion King, for Shai was the Lady Bug, for Josh was Spiderman, and for Caalab was the Pirate. They have been so many things that is really is hard to decide and of course, the years all run together and unless you are looking at the pictures, you may not recall.
One of the cutest costumes I saw that was not my own grandchild, was last year when we had the cutest little pink Lego Block come to our house. She was about 3, and just precious. I had to ask her parents for permission to get her picture. I won’t show it here, because that is not my right, but take my word for it, she was a cutie and her mom had done an excellent job on her costume.
I like talking to the cute little ones and asking who they are…not who they really are, but who they are pretending to be, because sometimes you can’t tell, and sometimes they have an entirely different idea of who they are from what their costume says they are. Halloween can be a fun time for kids to play a little make believe. I hope everyone has a great time this year. As for me…we are going bowling.