granddaughter

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My sister, Alena Stevens retired from the school district last year, in what was probably the weirdest retirement ever. She had planned to retire at the end of the school year, but then everything got very crazy. Spring break turned into the unofficial end of the in-class school day, and after a while, all that was left was to sort out the students’ belongings so they could stop by the school, and the staff would bring the belongings out to them. Alena’s job pretty much ended in March rather than June.

That wasn’t the only work oddity in Alena’s working career either. Alena worked at Kmart in her teen years, as did I…it must be a family trend. Anyway, she was walking to work from our house, which was less than a block away, and for some reason our youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock was in her own car, sitting in front of the house. This was back in the days of the CB radio. We didn’t have cell phones in those days, so if you didn’t mind having everyone within range hearing your conversation, you could pick up the mike and “call” a friend. The unique thing about the CB radio is that it also has a PA built in too…maybe not all of them, but Allyn’s did. So, as Alena was about to turn the corner to head to Kmart, Allyn picked up the Mike and said, “Alschmenerdoodle” over the PA. She made sure to say it in a long drawn out manner…and very loud. Alena stopped in her tracks and turned around laughing!! You have to understand that our family has a rather long history of making up funny nicknames for each other. I don’t know if Allyn had used that nickname before, but after that it became a standing joke and funny nickname!! Of course, while Alena found that super funny, it just couldn’t stand without “retaliation.” From that point and for a long time, Alena called Allyn “Alschminerdoodle!” Hahahahaha!! I don’t know, maybe retirement is the best move for Alena!! Work gets very odd for her…although, she did meet her husband Mike Stevens while working at Shellabarger Chevrolet, so there is that.

These days, Alena’s favorite title is grandma. She loves spending time with her granddaughter, Elliott Stevens. Elliott is a perfect fit in our family, not just because she is blood relation, but because she is humor related. She is so funny, and I just know that Elliott will get right in there and come up with a new generation of nicknames. Alena loves spending time with Elliott, and they love being silly together.

This year, Alena and her husband, Mike purchased a new camper trailer, and with summer finally upon us, they are looking forward to doing some camping at Pathfinder Reservoir. It will be a fun time with family, and especially Alena, because she knows that she doesn’t have to go back to work when the summer is over. That takes some getting used to after retirement, but it sure is nice to remember that every time it comes to mind. Today is Alena’s 60th birthday. I hope I’m not in trouble for telling her age. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens and my sister, Alena Stevens, have done a lot of camping over the years. They have had had a number of camper trailers, but this year, they decided to get the one they really wanted, after all, Mike’s retirement is coming up soon…not that I know when, but he is closer to retirement than he ever was, and according to his son, Garrett Stevens, it can’t come soon enough. Mike and Alena have lots of summer plans in the works. They are planning camping trips on the mountain, very likely both the Big Horns and Casper Mountain, as well as at the Pathfinder Reservoir where the Stevens Clan take yearly vacations with the whole Stevens family. That said, they bought a 2021 Keystone Laredo 5th Wheel trailer. It is beautiful and it will definitely take their camping comfort to the next level.

Mike is a major green thumb. He loves growing things, and that means making sure they have a wonderful lawn. Their yard, both front and back and great entertaining spots, but that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Mike can grow. Their daughter, Michelle Stevens tells me that her dad has “quite the green thumb.” Their summer garden usually contains tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. By the end of the growing season Mike and Alena have much work to do, because the harvest is always good. They busily can the vegetables, as well as the spaghetti sauce, that is Mike’s specialty; and Alena’s is her salsa.

Interestingly, Mike’s son Garrett came across a couple of “blast from the past” pictures of his dad that I find very interesting Mike used to work at Shellabarger Chevrolet, where Mike worked as a mechanic. In fact, that is where Mike met my sister, Alena…and the rest, as they say, is history. They have been married for 37 years this July 21st. You just never know where you will meet your soulmate. The other picture Garrett found is one with Mike and his buddies, Lloyd LaFave, Ron Millay, and Eddie Bright. What shocked me so much with this picture was just how much Mike and Garrett look alike. I knew Garrett looked a lot like his dad, but somehow, until you see a picture that clearly could be one person, but is actually the other, you just don’t make the connection in your mind. They could be twins…which wouldn’t be so odd, since Mike is a twin with his brother, Pat. Nevertheless, Mike and Pat are fraternal twins, and Garrett is actually more a twin to his dad than Pat is.

Mike and Garrett are planning some fishing for the summer, as golfing, of course. They both love golf, and this year they plan to golf at least once at the Powder Horn Golf Club in Sheridan, where Garrett and his family live. Mike and Alena plan to spend quite a bit of time in Sheridan, since that is where their first grandchild, granddaughter, Elliott lives. She is the apple of their eyes, and the just can’t get enough of her. Elliott, for her part, is a total character, and keeps her parents, Garrett and Kayla Stevens and grandparents, Mike and Alena Stevens and Wes and Lynette Smiley in stitches. Life just doesn’t get any better!! Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Twenty seven years…it can seem like a lifetime, or as is the case with my daughter, Corrie Petersen, and her husband, Kevin, it can fly by so quickly that it seems impossible that it has been that many years already. Corrie and Kevin began dating when she was just 15 and he was 19. They fell in love almost instantly, and they have never looked back. They married two weeks after Corrie turned 18.

So many things have changed over the course of 27 years. Two sons were born into their union, Christopher and Joshua. They were blessed with much love in their home, which they purchased almost immediately after their marriage, with the down payment coming from a car accident that occurred on their honeymoon. Kevin and his dad, Dean knew how to do bodywork on cars and to paint them, so much of the payment for their damages was left to them following the accident that was the fault of the other driver…who was an honest kid, who accepted the blame and was just thankful that no one was hurt.

Over the years, Corrie and Kevin have had a number of pets, from their first…a Dalmatian puppy, to their currents…a Scottie, two Dachshunds, and a cat. Their love of pets is quite evident, and they have been equally blessed in return. The also shared their love of pets with their sons, who both have pets in their homes, now that they are grown.

With the adulthood of their children, came more changes. the empty nest that many people dread, was not their favorite time, but they have adjusted to it, and the addition of Chris’ fiancée, his little daughter, and with a son to follow in November, life is getting better and better every day. Both of their sons were able to keep their jobs during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and in fact were considered “essential workers,” which helped to alleviate any financial concerns for Corrie and Kevin, concerning their children. Life has been good to them, and the love in their family is filled to overflowing. Twenty seven years have flown by, which is exactly what happens when you are having fun. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 27th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you both!!

My sister, Alena Stevens has always had a great sense of style…especially when it came to interior decorating. Her ability to somehow see something in a room that almost speaks to her. She can just picture what the room should look like before she even starts decorating the room. I was always impressed that she could do that, because I practically have to copy something out of a magazine or webpage to get the room to look good. Alena just sees it all in her head. It must be her creative side.

I was always impressed with the beautiful rooms Alena could create. Her house always feels warm and homey. What I didn’t expect, was when a house spoke to Alena. No, I’m not being creepy, but Alena saw the house she and her husband, Mike now own, after it had already been sold. At that time she told Mike that if it ever went on the market again, she wanted it. After a few years, the house did go on the market again, and they jumped at the chance to buy it. The house was everything Alena had dreamed it would be. She set about decorating it, and the house seemed to glow under her loving care.

Over the years, Alena had changed the décor of the home, and each time it is just as lovely as the time before. When we went through our parents things, after their passing, she incorporated the things she got into lovely areas of tribute to them. Then she made a wonderful man-cave for Mike. Don’t get me wrong on who does the work here, because Mike does most of the heavy lifting and the mechanical stuff, but the design is all Alena. Her design talents are well known in the family, and a number of us have her ideas in our own homes, including me. It is something we can all feel very blessed about, because talented interior decorators are not easy to come by.

These days, a part of Alena’s heart lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Her son Garrett, his wife, Kayla, and daughter, Elliott live there. Alena and Mike go up as often as they can. Elliott is their first, and for now, only grandchild, so visits are precious. Elliott is an almost 2-year-old toddler, who is full of personality, and makes everyone laugh. She holds her grandparents’ hearts for sure. They keep in touch by FaceTime when they can’t be there, but it just isn’t the same. With Alena’s retirement this year from the school district, she will be able to go to Sheridan more and I know that she will do just that. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens, who has always liked fishing, had the opportunity this past winter to try something new, when he and his son, Garrett went ice fishing for the first time. The trip took them out on the Tongue River Reservoir, just outside Sheridan, where Garrett lives with his wife, Kayla and their daughter, Elliott. The spot they went to is just a couple of miles into Montana, next to the coal mines up there. Kayla’s grandfather has an ice shanty there. The morning was not very productive, other than lots of visiting, but they did see one Northern Pike, which Mike quickly speared. The fish, it turns out weighed 14 pounds…nice!! Since the fish didn’t seem to be hanging around that area, they decided to go down the ice to where Kayla’s uncle had a shanty. After just 10 minutes, they speared two smaller, approximately 9 pound Northern Pike, about 10 minutes apart. Then, 15 minutes later, a big 15 pound Northern Pike came in and swallowed the lure, they had to spear him to get him out of the water. Garrett tells me that Mike was “hooked after that first one and then having the other 3 come in so fast just solidified it.” They are talking about going again next year, and Garrett plans to build his own shanty. It is a wonderful new way for father and son to connect.

While Mike likes to fish, that is not the draw that Sheridan has on him these days. Garrett and Kayla and their daughter are the main reasons Mike and Alena want to go to Sheridan. Elliott is their first grandchild, and they are so in love with her. Having the kids live a couple of hours away has been hard on them, but with FaceTime, they are able to keep in touch, and they go to Sheridan as much as they can, to spend time with them. My sister tells me that whenever they FaceTime with the kids, Elliott asks for her Papa, but Alena is still sure that she loves her Namma the most, hahahaha!! I suppose Mike will argue that one.

Another new thing for Mike and Alena this year, was hiking is the Sheridan area. They hiked along the Tongue River, and Alena said it was an absolutely gorgeous day. I can totally relate, because my husband, Bob and I love to hike too. I haven’t spent much time near the Tongue River, but I suspect that Mike and Alena will find themselves hiking that area a lot more. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Alena Stevens has had a dream for a number of years now…to be a grandma. That dream finally came true almost a year ago when her little granddaughter, Elliott Michelle Stevens was born on August 3, 2018, which is also our grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer’s birthday. I know she would have been so happy to have her great great granddaughter born on her birthday. Grandbabies are always wonderful, and it’s especially cool when they become a birthday present too. And it’s cool for everyone, from the parents to the grandparents.

Alena has worked for the Natrona County School District as the Refocus Room teacher for a number of years now. She says that she really has a heart for helping these students get themselves back on track. She understands the emotions they sometimes deal with, and that is not always easy to do. Working in the school district also gives her the summers off, as well as any school holidays and national holidays. That is going to be especially nice for her now, because her son, Garrett, daughter-in-law, Kayla, and little Elliott live in Sheridan and Alena lives in Casper, making it difficult to visit during the school year. Thankfully Sheridan isn’t that far away, so visits are possible on the weekends too.

Alena is a teacher in the Refocus Room at Verda James School, but she is also a great hairstylist and a great interior decorator too. Her home is beautifully decorated, with a style that some of us can only dream of producing in our own homes. She uses everything from wallpaper to stencils to dual colors in a room, to create a warmth and beauty that is just stunning. It is a talent that I wish I had, but I believe it is a gift that not everyone is given. She has an eye for it for sure, and that is what it takes to envision the way a room will look once you put your ideas in place. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Today marks a proud day in my life, as my granddaughter, Shai Royce takes the first steps in her journey to follow in my footsteps, by becoming a Commercial Lines Processor for Rice Insurance in Bellingham, Washington. The really cool thing is that to a large degree, she is also following in her mother, Amy’s footsteps too. My daughter, Amy is a Personal Lines Account Manager for Rice Insurance, and they will be working across the street from each other, which is awesome!!

Shai’s insurance career actually started when she was just 14 years old, and living in Casper, Wyoming. Her mom and I were both working for Jim Stengel at The Stengel Agency, and we needed a customer service representative to pick some of the slack in our busy office. Enter Shai, who worked for us off and on for a couple of years, taking only a short break when she needed a job with more hours after school. Shai did a great job for us in our office. She learned quickly and she was very helpful. We were sorry to see her go when she moved to Bellingham, Washington to be near her parents and brother. While in Bellingham, Shai worked at several jobs, with the longest one being Red Robin, and the last one being Mako Fly Reels. Shai liked her jobs, and especially the people she worked with, but the jobs just weren’t fulfilling for a girl with Shai’s abilities, and her prior training, so when an opening came up in her mom’s company, Shai applied for and won the job.

Today is the first day of Shai’s new career. I am very excited for her as she begins this great new journey in her life. Since I have been both a personal lines agent, and a commercial lines agent, I can say while there was much to learn in commercial lines, it feels great to be able to help a business owner with the coverages they need to protect their business, so they can focus on making a success of their business. I know that because Shai is starting this career at a younger age than I did, she will have the years ahead of her to become a great commercial processor, and maybe further than that if she is interested in becoming an agent or an account manager like her mom. I think it’s awesome that Shai is going to be working in the same great company as her mom, and following in her mom’s footsteps and in mine. Have a great first day on the job, Shai!! We are all very proud of you!!

For my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens, this has been an incredible year. Probably the greatest year since the year his first child, Michelle was born. This was the year Mike became a grandfather to his granddaughter, Elliott Michelle Stevens. Elliott was born on August 3, 2018. Her parents are Mike and my sister, Alena Stevens’ son, Garrett and his wife Kayla Stevens. Becoming grandparents was something Mike and Alena have been waiting to be for a long time to be grandparents, and little Elliott has fulfilled a very special dream of theirs. Mike and Alena are very family oriented, and adding a granddaughter takes their family life into a whole new dimension…a very special dimension.

Mike is a sports fanatic, and loves to share his knowledge with his kids and maybe down the road, his granddaughter. Mike knows a lot about sports, any sports. Not everybody who likes sports, really understand the logistics of the sport, but Mike understands it. Summertime brings different kinds of sports. Mike loves softball, and sometimes is on a team. This year Mike and Alena bought a new 4-wheeler, and they are looking forward to spending lots of time on the mountain riding around on the 4-wheeler. In fact, they had planned a weekend on the mountain for Mike’s birthday, but the weather refused to cooperate…something many of us are disgusted with. Hopefully this spring/summer won’t prove to be ultra-rainy, so they will have lots of time to use their new toy.

Another of the sports that Mike likes is the yearly family camping trip to Boysen Reservoir, where they hold the Stevens’ Family Horseshoe Tournament. The whole Stevens family looks forward to the trip each year, and they really feel cheated out of summer if they don’t get to go. They have a traveling trophy for each event, and it is a fight to the finish to see who will take that trophy home this year. Everyone hates to lose, because to win means that you get bragging rights for a whole year. Now that can be bad for the losers. That said, we wish everyone good luck this year. Today is Mike’s birthday. Congratulations on becoming a grandpa this year, Mike. I know you are loving it. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I am of the opinion that every birthday for every person should be special. For most of us, that is easy to do, but for the person, like my granddaughter, Shai Royce, who was a Leap Day baby, three out of four birthdays are virtually missing. Oh, they do exist…sort of, but they pass so quickly that unless you are up at the precise moment, or in reality, nono-second between 11:59pm and 12:00am, you missed it. I have been up at that time, and somehow, that nano-second slipped by without my actual notice of it, so I know that it is easy for Shai’s birthday to pass by without any real, concrete knowledge of it’s passing. So I call those three years where February 29th doesn’t happen…Nano-Birthdays. If all you look at is the year Shai was born, you will know that she is 23 years old this year, but she has only had 5 actual birthdays, and since she will have her 6th actual birthday next year, she is officially 5¾ years old and will turn 6 next year. During these past 23 years, Shai has celebrated her birthdays, however, because she has now had 18 Nano-Birthdays. It’s quite confusing when you have to do the math to figure out you granddaughter’s real age.

Shai is a sweet, loving girl, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She doesn’t like it when someone she loves is treated unfairly, she will defend them if necessary. Her family is of paramount importance to her, and when they are healthy and happy, so is she. Shai is a hard worker, and holds down two jobs. She works for Mako Reels, making…you guessed it, fishing reels. This has probably been the biggest shock to her grandma, because I would never have guessed that my granddaughter might make fishing reels for a living. She also works for Red Robin, for extra money. Shai is a very social person, so she is a true asset to Red Robin. Shai is one of the most loving people I know, and she is always doing nice things for people. She is very real about her feelings. When she likes someone, she lets them know it, and she likes most people, provided that they are good, honest, and kind people too. I think that makes her an asset to anyone who knows her.

Recently, Shai and her family took up bowling, and they are having a great time as a team. Last year they took first in the county where they live. That’s quite an honor, considering that Shai and her brother, Caalab hadn’t been bowling that long. They had a great time, and since they like spending time together as a family, it was the perfect team. And speaking of time together as a family, this year for her birthday, the whole family flew to Vegas for Shai’s birthday, and because Shai gave the trip to her family as a Christmas gift. She wanted a wonderful little vacation with her family on her birthday…and they had a great time, even going zip lining for thrills. Sounds like a great trip. Today is Shai’s 5¾, 18th, 23 birthday of some type. Happy 18th Nano-Birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

These days, long term marriages are rare, but they can be done. It takes work, an understanding of what your spouse is going through on a daily basis, common goals, and most of all prayer. I know people would dispute that last one, but as I am a Christian, I believe that is what it takes, whether it is the couple praying, or their family praying for them. Some things should be handled with prayer, because getting along with a person day in and day out, is not always easy, as any married couple will tell you.

Nevertheless, my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband Kevin are one of those couples who have beaten the odds, and today, they celebrate their 25th or Silver Anniversary. I remember their wedding like it was yesterday, because in a mother’s heart, that is exactly how it feels. They were to kids, and that’s a fact. Corrie was just two weeks past her 18th birthday, and Kevin was not quite 22. The first thought that comes to anyone’s mind is that there was no way this marriage had a chance, but these two kids loved each other so much. They had dated since Corrie was just 15 years old, and they had been engaged for a year and two weeks, since they got engaged on her 17th birthday. They were perfect for each other from the start, and never have I seen two people who were closer soulmates at such a young age. You just can’t mess with these matches made in Heaven, and that is what they were…a match made in Heaven.

Now, suddenly, here we are, 25 years later, and these two kids…who will always be kids to me…are still going strong. They are parents, and now have a new granddaughter, and they are as happy as they can be. They are supportive of each other as each one works toward their own goals for their lives. They are supportive of each other as they struggle with things that are difficult, knowing that everyone has struggles. No life is perfect, but when you have a good support system, you can do anything you set your mind to…be it health, career, finances, or any other challenge people can face. You see, it isn’t the marriage that has no challenges that lasts, because in reality, there is no such thing. It is rather the marriage that meets its challenges head on, faces them with courage and compassion, and comes out the other side better for having made the journey that lasts. That is the kind of marriage Corrie and Kevin have, and that is why it has lasted. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 25th wedding anniversary. Happy Silver Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Congratulations to you both…you made it!! Have a great day!! We love you both!!

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