grandchildren

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by guest writer – Brenda Schulenberg

Caryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…over 47 years ago, when she married my brother, Bob!!! Little did any of us know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg family. Most of us don’t really remember too much of life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family without her as a part of it.

In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of Caryn’s grandchildren have a big place in her heart. She really enjoys being a mother and grandma…and in 2018, Caryn became a great grandma. She now has two great grandchildren and another due in October of this year. She loves the time she gets to spend with them.

On October 14, 2018, Caryn’s faith in God was brought to life. On that day her husband Bob, my brother, suffered a heart attack. We were all very scared and thanks to Caryn’s faith in God, some very fast responders and some miracles too, Bob made a full recovery. Not that they needed it, but Bob and Caryn now realize how special they are to each other.

Through the years, and as both sets of parents aged, Caryn was the primary care giver for all four parents…hers and Bob’s. It was tough on all of us to lose them, but they are in a far better place now. Also in October 2013, when I got sick Caryn saved my life by convincing me that I had to go to the hospital.

Caryn has always enjoyed bowling. She and Bob also like to go on walks and hikes when the weather permits. Bob and Caryn enjoy traveling for their annual hiking/anniversary trip to Thermopolis and to the Black Hills. They also traveled for bowling tournaments too.

Caryn spends time focusing on her health and my brother Bob’s. Caryn always has been very aware of how important good health is for all of us, but now that she is not having to care for all of our parents and work, she has been focused on herself for once…and she has been very successful in this area! Caryn had foot surgery this past year and as you can imagine she did not let that hold her back on the things she likes to do.

In May 2019 Caryn started a new journey…retirement! She loves it. I’m sure Caryn like everyone else that is retired finds herself very busy with traveling, hiking, her great grandchildren, and of course blogging!!!! Caryn has also been able to do some traveling with her sisters to visit family.

Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best sisters-in-law (I consider her my sister) that I could ever ask for. Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!

My sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely is a busy person in just about every way. Jennifer is a labor and delivery nurse who is close to retirement. I sometimes find myself amazed that she can possible have been helping to deliver babies for about 40 years now. She has assisted in the delivery of more babies than I’m sure even she knows or could count. It’s a lot of years of deliveries, some of which were her own grandnieces and grandnephews. I know that my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were both very thankful to have their aunt in the room with them when they gave birth, and so was I. It’s hard to watch your kids go through so much pain, and it is comforting to know that their aunt, who was a delivery room nurse, and who cared about my kids, was there with them during one of the hardest times in their lives, even if they were also the happiest moments of their lives. Jennfer has been that blessing to so many people, friends, family, and strangers, and all of them are so thankful.

Jennifer is also an athlete. She hikes, skis, rides bicycles, and also does many indoor forms of exercise there is. Jennifer and her partner, Brian Cratty have a cabin on Casper Mountain, so they can be closer to the mountain and activities they love. For them, Casper Mountain is their “happy place.” Jennifer and Brian have hiked many places, including to heights as high as 14,473 feet when they climbed Mount Elbert in Colorado, called a 14er. She has also hiked in Vermont, Maine, and New Zealand…yes, New Zealand. That is a dedicated hiker, and I thought I was. Not nearly as much as Jennifer. I think when Jennifer retires, she will wonder how she had time to work with all of her athletic passions.

While being a nurse, an athlete, as well as mom of three boys, Barry Schulenberg (married to Kellie), JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely (married to Ashley), keeps Jennifer quite busy, her latest blessings are her grandchildren. Jennifer has three granddaughters, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve Parmely, and grandson Bowen Parmely…these are the children on her son Eric and his wife Ashley. Jennifer loves to do special things for the kids, like their own special cake for their birthday, taking them on a special shopping trip for their birthdays, and taking turns spending the night with their grandparents. She works hard to make things special for each of them. Jennifer goes by Oma to the kids, which is German for Grandma…a fitting name for a woman of German descent (along with a lot of English). For Jennifer, life is good. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was just about 4 months older than my oldest daughter, Corrie, so she was like a sister-in-law and a daughter too. The things she liked were similar to things my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce liked. It makes sense that it would be that way, because my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg was just 7 years old when my husband, Bob and I got married. They were in the generation of our kids. I guess that is part of what makes it so hard to believe that Rachel has been living in Heaven for a little over a year now. She was just too young to have a fatal stroke. It just shouldn’t happen that way.

Rachel was good friends with my nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith, and it was through them that she was introduced to their Uncle Ron. It was a match made in Heaven, and they were married over 11 years when she passed away. They were so happy, and I know their marriage would have continued well into their golden years if she hadn’t left us too soon. Besides Ron, Rachel also left behind daughter, Cassie Franklin and her children Lucas and Zoey; son, Riley Birky his fiancée, Sierah Martin, her son, Jace and their little baby that is coming in this August; and Tucker Schulenberg, her youngest, who was adopted by Ron in 2019, so she knew he would be ok. Rachel was a wonderful mother and grandmother, who loved her children and grandchildren so much, and the perfect wife for Ron…his soulmate.

Rachel was a vibrant person, who loved the Lord. She had worked in the office of her church in Powell, Wyoming before she married my brother-in-law, and moved to Casper. She loved telling people about Jesus and seeing people get saved. She wanted to make sure that everyone she could win for the Lord, she did win for the Lord. Rachel was quick to pray for anyone who needed prayer, even if they didn’t ask her for prayer, she prayer for them. There are many people out there who have received answered prayer because of Rachel…I have no doubt. Rachel was a wonderful person, Christian, and friend to many people, and she has been greatly missed by all of us over the past year. Today would have been Rachel’s 47th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Rachel. We love and miss you very much.

It was 47 years ago that my husband, Bob and I said, “I do.” It’s hard to believe that so many years have come and gone. We were just kids back then. I was only 10 months out of high school. Time goes by so fast, and I don’t know how they could have gone by so fast. Every year, I tend to wonder the same thing, and every year I come to the same conclusion…the grace of God. I believe that God sent Bob to me to be my soulmate. He was Heaven sent to me, as a gift of God. We always feel “right” together. We don’t have to “work” at getting along. We just…get along. It is easy for us. I don’t mean to say that marriage isn’t work, because it really is, but for us a loving marriage is so much easier than we would have ever thought.

Bob and I have so much in common. We love doing the same kinds of things…some of which we have developed over the years, because they were not things that we had ever thought we would enjoy years ago. Still, today they are things we have found that we enjoy very much. It’s not just hiking, but it’s where we like to go to hike. We enjoy going to Thermopolis, the Black Hills, Washington state, the Grand Canyon, areas around our city of Casper. These places give us happiness and joy. We like the same television shows. We tend to be very comfortable at home together…granted, we might be taking a nap in our chairs, but that’s ok too. The point is that we are comfortable and happy together…and we are very blessed.

Eash year I find myself feeling more and more blessed with this man God has given to me. God knew exactly the kind of man I would need to make my life happy, and He couldn’t have picked a better man for me. God knew that we would be compatible and comfortable together. We could not have known that for the long run. We were just kids of 18 and 20 years when we got married. What did we know? He knew that we were both stubborn enough to stick it out together and follow His plan for us and our lives. He blessed us with two daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce; two sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce; four grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen; as well as fiancées Karen Cruickshank and Athena Ramirez; and great grandchildren Cambree and Caysen Petersen and baby Petersen coming in October. Blessings don’t get any better than those. They have all made us so very happy. Today is our 47th wedding anniversary. I love you Bob…and yes, “I still do.”

My grandson, Christopher Petersen has so much going for him these days. He has a fiancée, Karen with whom he is deeply in love, and two children, Cambree and Caysen, who are among his greatest blessings. A man can’t ask for anything better than that. When I think back of Christopher’s life, I am so amazed at just how quickly the years have flown by. Christopher was my first grandchild, followed the next day by his cousin Shai Royce. It was a whirlwind time in the life of our family. Chris and Shai were best friends, and still are close to this day, even though Shai lives 1200 miles away now. I can still picture them playing side by side at my daughter, Amy Royce’s house, where Chris went to daycare. It was a perfect part of my life, and one I feel very privileged to have been a part of. Having Amy care for the kids, allowed me to go over for lunch to spend time with my precious grandchildren. Still, I will never forget the first day my daughter, Corrie Petersen had to drop off her precious son at my house so I could take him to her sister’s house. The tears flowed liberally. I’m thankful Karen has not had to do that. It is truly awful.

Now, Chris is the dad, and he is living out those perfect years. His children adore him. They run to him when he gets home, so excited to be with him. There is no greater feeling than the love your kids feel for you, and I’m so glad Chris has that. Isn’t it just amazing…how life changes? Chris likes to take his family to Rapid City sometimes with friends of theirs, and the kids absolutely love the water park there. He enjoys giving his family all the good things he can. He is a good dad and partner.

Chris still loves his cars, and tinkering on them, especially his prize-winning Camaro. He doesn’t race it, or anything, it is his show car, and his pride and joy. I can see…down the road…into the future, to a time when his kids will be helping him tinker of his cars. I know his grandpas and his dad taught Chris how to tinker on cars, because that was where he wanted to be…with them…and mostly his daddy, Kevin Petersen. The boys, Chris and his little brother, Josh loved being with their daddy, especially when he was doing his mud truck races. I get excited thinking about the day when Chris’ kids, and especially Caysen are the ones out there perched on a box, “helping” Daddy work on his hot rod. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock has always been a gentle soul. From the time she was just a little girl, she had a heart that always remained soft. The rest of my sisters and I always said that Allyn was “always good.” She didn’t get into mischief, like the rest of us might have. I could never figure out how she did that, probably because I had a mischievous side, and did get into a few scrapes I life…oh nothing serious, but enough to not be the sister who was “always good.”

Over the past couple of years, many people have been seeking the Lord concerning all that is going on around us. My sisters and I are no different, and we, having been raised to know the Lord, find ourselves pressing into Him in these times. My niece, Jessi Sawdon was telling me about my sister’s mothering ways with her children, and I can tell you firsthand…our parents are very proud of her. Jessi says, “One of the things I love most about my mom is her ability to always seek the Lord first. She’s instilled that in us kids and I can see all of us following this same path. And that’s exciting. Like the rest of our family, she had a strong faith, but dang, when times are tough, she is the first one there to help us make the right confessions and remind us of what the Lord has promised us. She makes everything look effortless, even though I know it’s not. She used to tell us to let Gods light shine through us. It will make everyone wonder what we’ve got, and they’ll want it too. She does that every day. I don’t think there is a better gift than her (even though it’s her birthday), and I feel so blessed that she has been such a strong spiritual leader in all our lives and has never wavered.” Allyn’s second daughter, Lindsay Moore agrees with Jessi, as do her son, Ryan Hadlock and youngest daughter, Kellie Hadlock, that Allyn has grown in her walkwith the Lord, and well as in her work and home life. There is no greater tribute than that, if you ask me.

Of course, one of Allyn’s most precious roles, these days, is that of Grammy. Grandchildren are one of the greatest gifts your kids can ever give you, and Allyn has embraced the title of Grammy with joy and happiness. She has four grandchildren on Earth, and two waiting for her when she gets to Heaven. All are loved and are an amazing blessing to Allyn, and to my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock. They so enjoy the time they get to spend with those precious kids…which as any grandparent knows, is never long enough. You always want more time, especially when the grandchildren live in a different city. Thankfully, for Allyn and Chris, they two that live in different cities, are still in Wyoming, so visits are more frequent than if they lived in a different state. This way, they visit often, and Allyn loves that. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband’s aunt, Margaret “Margee” Kountz is the youngest and only surviving aunts on his mom’s side of the family. Margee has two kids, Dan and Sandy, and five grandchildren (one…Brian Kountz lives in Heaven now), as well as five great grandchildren. Margee has always been a very hands-on grandmother, helping her kids with the care and transport of her grandchildren many times over the years. These days, with so many parents working, grandparents have taken on the role of “keeper of the village” that it takes to raise a child.

Of course, Margee worked all those years too, but she still managed her time in such a way that she could be there when she was needed to help out with her grandchildren. As a hands-on grandma myself, I can relate to just what a treasure those precious grandchildren are. I just wish, like I’m sure Margee does, that those years hadn’t gone by so fast. These days, all of her grandchildren are grown up, and several have children of their own.

Margee is retired now and doing well. She has begun to explore new things, like Facebook…something she probably never would have done had it not been for her granddaughter, Staci, who kept showing her things that she thought would interest her, and finally got her hooked. I was surprised. I didn’t think she would ever get on the computer, much less, Facebook. She doesn’t always talk much on there, but I know she likes to look around. It is interesting, I must admit.

These days, Margee likes being at home and enjoying her free time. She also loves having the great grandchildren come over for visits. They say that we should have the grandchildren first, and maybe they are right, but the great grandchildren are pretty special too. Today is Margee’s 73rd birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

A year seems like a long time, but in reality, it goes by so fast. One year ago today, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg left us to go to Heaven. She had a stroke, and recovery was not to be. Rachel left behind a husband, Ron Schulenberg; daughter, Cassie Franklin; sons, Riley Birky and Tucker Schulenberg; her dad, Cliff Franklin; and brother, BJ Franklin, grandchildren, Lucas and Zoey; as well as lots of family and friends. Life wasn’t always easy for Rachel, but she was in a great place. She and my brother-in-law were so in love, and they had been happily married almost 11 years. Ron had adopted her son Tucker, and we are all thankful for that, because no one knew the future, but Tucker needed to be with Ron.

Now, a year after Rachel left us, a number of things have changed. Her daughter, Cassie was in a bad situation, and Rachel was worried about it. Cassie was able to walk away from that situation, and I know that Rachel would be so glad. Rachel’s son Riley struggled through the years, but Rachel always stuck by him. Today he is engaged to a great girl, Sierah Martin, and together they are raising her little boy, and expecting a new baby in August 2022. Rachel would have been glad. Tucker is getting ready to go to high school next year. High school…how could that be!! Tucker should still be that 2-year-old boy who firat came into our lives when Rachel and Ron got married. Ron and Tucker are doing ok. They are working hard to take care of each other, and about that, Rachel would be glad. Tucker went to a grief camp that included horses last summer, and not only did he find a love of horses, but he found out that a school friend also lost his mother about two years ago.

Ron probably hides his feelings more than most and tries to use physical labor to help him through it, but we are having monthly family dinners, and trying to pull him into socializing more. It’s hard, and we don’t pressure him, but rather we let him, as well as the kids, know that we are there for them in whatever way they need…and I think Rachel would be glad. Rachel was a loving caring person, and that is impossible to replace. The hole left in our hearts when she left is impossible to fill, at least without God. Rachel knew Jesus as her personal Savior, and so we know that she is living a wonderful life in Heaven. While that doesn’t make us miss her any less, it does remind us that she is happy, and she is looking forward to the day we all join her there. Happy first year in Heaven, Rachel. We love and miss you very much.

My son-in-law, Kevin Petersen is a car fanatic. He loves classic cars, and knows just how to make them shine. From the engine to the paint job, Kevin has the skills. His dad, Dean Petersen gave Kevin his 1966 Mercury Cyclone, and Kevin is slowly restoring it. Unfortunately with his rheumatoid arthritis, he can only work about an hour a day a few days a week. Still, he is getting there. Kevin rents a shop where he stores his car and his son, my grandson, Chris’ Camaro. When Kevin gets his car done, it will be stunning. Kevin has always had nice cars, usually classics. This was something Kevin shared with his boys, Chris and Josh. Its a guy thing. I don’t know many guys who don’t love cars.

As his boys have grown up…Chris is 24 and Josh will be 22 on the 9th of this month…they don’t have as much time to spend with their parents. They still try to help and visit their dad and mom whenever they can, but they work a lot of hours, and Chris has a family too. Of course, that is a blessing in itself. Being a grandpa has been the most wonderful thing too. Kevin has always been all about his family. His granddaughter and soon, new grandson, have him literally bursting with joy. Babies have a way of doing that. Now, as in many families, the grandparents go to visit the grandkids, at least more than the kids get to their house. The work around Chris’ schedule, but they don’t mind. They also like to FaceTime with their granddaughter, who immediately commandeers her parents’ phones to take her grandparents to her room to watch her play. Mostly she’s pretty good about keeping the conversation going, and not just getting absorbed in her play, but even if she does that, they don’t really mind. They love watching her play. She has become a great big part of their world.

Kevin has always had a soft heart, but he is fiercely loyal to his family and will defend them to the end. He is always there to help whenever he can, and he is a great husband and dad. Kevin is an artist. His work is beautiful, and I love that I have been the recipient of some of his work. He has done beautiful stained glass work, paintings, and drawings. Not everyone has that ability, and so it’s awesome that my son-in-law is one that did. His disability has limited the amount of art he can do, but what he does is wonderful. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When Dave Balcerzak married my niece, Chantel, he brought to the marriage two children, Keifer and Katy. Chantel also brought to the marriage two children, Jake and Siara. When they got married in 2002, the children were between the ages of 14 and 7 years. They instantly became a blended family, and they all got along very well. Dave really loves kids, and he was an excellent dad to Chantel’s kids, as well as to his own. It isn’t easy to raise kids, especially during the teenaged years, and it’s even harder to raise someone else’s kids, but Dave took it all in stride, and Chantel’s kids love him very much. They consider him really more their dad, than their own dad is.

One of the blessings of having children, is the entrance of the next generation…grandchildren. In a blended family, the grandchildren are also blended. The first grandchild to come along, was a bonus baby names Alice Green. She joined Chantel’s son Jake Harman’s family when he married Alice’s mom, Melanie. Alice took to Dave almost instantly. She adored him. Alice was soon joined by sister, Izabella Harman and brother, Jaxx Harman. Dave was relishing in grandfatherhood. Then, Dave’s son, Keifer and his wife, Katie welcomed their daughter, Reece Balcerzak. Reece gave the family a bit of a scare, by arriving quite early, but she was a fighter, and all went well. Chantel’s daughter, Siara and her husband, Nick Olsen gave birth to Alec Olsen, who after 3 months, went to live in Heaven, breaking the hearts of all of his family, who miss him very much. Finally, Dave’s daughter, Katy Balcerzak and her fiancé, Dylan Herr, gave birth to their son, Max. Dave and Chantel’s blended family is going through more blending, as the new grandchildren have arrived. Life is so sweet, when grandchildren are involved. I know that the future will bring more grandchildren, and great happiness to this wonderful blended family that Dave and Chantel have so lovingly created.

Dave has been a wonderful addition to our family. He has a heart of gold, and the capacity to love everyone, a trait that has endeared him to all of us. It’s not every parent who has the ability to love their step-children as much as their own children, but for Dave they are all his children, and he will give the best of himself for all of them, and the blessing he has been to them, is now being returned to him, many times over. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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