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In about 1985, I began coaching youth bowling at Eagle Bowl, in Casper Wyoming. As I set up the teams for the year, I decided to team my two daughters, Corrie Schulenberg (Petersen) and Amy Schulenberg (Royce) with two little sisters named Jaime Morton (Moler) and Jackie Morton. As it turned out, that team would be more than friends for life…because unbeknownst to me at the time, those little girls were 3rd cousins, a fact I found out by accident, when I mentioned the Morton family to my mom, Collene Spencer, who knew that the Morton girls’ grandmother, Margaret was my mother’s cousin. The knowledge of the family connection made the little girls’ team even more special. The girls would bowl together all through their youth bowling years. Those years went by so fast, and I was terrible at taking pictures of anyone but my own kids, so the memories I have of those precious years live only in my mind’s memory files now. Fast forward to adulthood for the four little girls. Through the years, our families remained close and my husband, Bob and I bowl with the Morton family on a league to this day. Our girls bowled the league too for a time, but the friendship…the cousinship…that was forever, and will be forever.

Yesterday, at 12:30pm, I guess I’ll always remember the time, I received some news that deeply saddened all of us. One of the girls, Jackie Morton, just 37 years old, had passed away. She had knee surgery, and the doctors suspect that a blood clot was the cause of her passing. Everyone who knew Jackie will remember her bubbly personality, and her smiling face. She was always fun to be around, and that is why she had such a great group of friends, all of whom will miss her greatly. She truly cared about her friends and what was going on in their lives. Jackie was also a hard worker, and often worked overtime, missing bowling because she was needed elsewhere. She did what she needed to do, because she was loyal and dedicated to her job.

Jackie and her sister, Jaime have been very close all their lives. They were far closer that just sisters. They loved spending time together, going to concerts, vacations together, and of course, the precious family time that the whole family cherished. One of the defining moments in Jackie’s life was the moment she became an aunt. Jackie loved being an aunt, and her nephew, Kaleb, and nieces, Kielei and Haley brought such joy to her life. She attended their activities, and considered them her treasure. Truly, her whole family was Jackie’s treasure. Not a day went by that she wasn’t talking to them, spending time with them, or thinking of them. She never took them for granted. And they never took her for granted either. The family was very close, including aunts and uncles and grandparents. Bowling nights always included Aunt Renae and Uncle Mitch Berlinger, and various other family members, especially grandparents often came to watch and cheer them on. Those were good times that will always be treasured in the family’s memories.

Sadly, and far too soon Jackie has left us now, and entered into Heaven. Our hearts are broken at her passing. The world lost a little bit of the sunshine it had, with Jackie’s passing. Our minds still can’t wrap themselves around the fact that our beautiful, vibrant, loving, sweet Jackie is gone. Her family and friends will forever feel the empty space she has left behind. Jackie, we love you and we will miss you so very much.

My grand nephew, Easton Moore is a busy guy. He is always on the go. Right now, he and his family are into Nerf Guns. They love to have Nerf battles, and the family very likely used sneak attacks to gain a little leverage. Basically, you just never knew when the attack was going to come, until the Nerf bullet hit you. Easton really likes the Nerf gun, and he is very interested in how they work, so he likes to take them apart and modify them so they will shoot further. It’s not surprising that he like to find out how his Nerf gun works, because it is something his Dad, Steve Moore loves to do too. Building, dismantling, and learning all about the guns they use, real and Nerf, is a hobby the Moore family has been into for quite a while now, and since Easton has grown up in that atmosphere, he is completely comfortable with the inner workings of a gun. So, for a new challenge, his mom bought a bag of rubber bands, and over the last few weeks there has been a new war going on in the Moore house. Easton is getting good at shooting them, but his arm was all red from learning how to shoot them. Still, he never gave up.

Easton really likes building things too. Legos has been a starting point for him, and something he continues to like to do. The schools these days have embrace the Lego craze, and added robotics, giving the kids new activities to stir up the creative side of their brains. They learn how to make their robot be the best functioning one in the competition. Who would have thought that a toy we have all played with could morph into a way to teach the kids about architecture and mechanics? Nevertheless, Legos have done this, and it is really a cool thing for a kid like Easton, who really loves to find out just how these things work.

Easton loves sports. He played football again this year and is thinking about tennis in the spring. He is an active kid, who doesn’t much like sitting still, so sports was the next logical idea for him, but he has a few other activities up his sleeve too. He has helped his grandparents with their rentals and had made a little cash. He worked with PESCO which is the concessions stand for games and after school and made money doing that. Easton has decided that he doesn’t have that much time to save money for the car he will need in a couple of years when he turns 16, now if his mom could just slow down time a little bit, she would feel better, because, she doesn’t want him growing up. Today is Easton’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Being the youngest of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer’s three middle children, might possibly afford my Uncle Wayne Byer a small amount of innocence in the antics the three of them pulled, but if you know Uncle Wayne, you would be hard pressed to buy into that idea, because the three of them, Uncle Larry Byer, the oldest; my mother, Collene Spencer, the middle child; and Uncle Wayne were pretty much equally to blame. I really think they drove my grandmother half crazy. What one didn’t pull, another did. They would defend each other to the end…or until Grandma got a hold of them, then all bets were off.

They all three had a great sense of humor, but sometimes I think that Uncle Wayne had the best one…or maybe it was that he just had a way of connecting with the kids in the family. That could easily be it, but he was definitely a big part of the three “partners in crime” that was my mom and her two brothers. I know that all kids can be a trial for parents, but I have a feeling that these three might have really tried my grandmother’s patience, and as if that wasn’t enough, there were six other children in the house too. There was lots of talent, from singing, to dancing, but partners in crime took the cake in the antics department.

Of course, by the time I met my Uncle Wayne, he was a grown man, who’s oldest son was just two years younger than I was. All the older kids knew about it, but as the younger ones came along, we were always treated to Uncle Wayne’s signature prank…for lack of a better word. He would pop out his dentures, and encourage us to try…which we, of course did, without success. Uncle Wayne’s laugh was infectious. He just had a way of getting all of the kids laughing too. Everyone of the kids loved the uncles. They were really kids at heart…all their lives, and Uncle Wayne, being the only one left has carried on the tradition quite well. He’s a real kick. Today is my Uncle Wayne’s 80th birthday!! Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every family has its traditions, but I don’t know of many families that have a twice a year gathering of aunts, uncles, and multiple levels of cousins. In fact, I don’t know if I know of any families that do that…but my mom’s family does. The Byer family has been having these gatherings ever since we got too big to all gather at Grandma and Grandpa Byer’s house for the holidays. Grandma and Grandpa have been in Heaven now for 37 years and 29 years respectively, but their tradition still holds. It was their desire that their kids stay close, and in making that one request, they have successfully kept all of their grandchildren and great grandchildren close too.

Some years, we have quite a crowd, and other years, not so much, but those who come out always have a nice time. Maybe it was the heat, or maybe this was an off year, but we did have a smaller crowd. Nevertheless, it was good to visit with aunts Virginia Beadle, Bonnie McDaniels, Dixie Richards, and Sandy Pattan, as well as Uncle Wayne Byer. All are doing well, and that makes me glad, because I’m not ready to lose any more of the aunts or uncles. most of the usual group was there for the picnic. We have those who like the heat and those who can’t take it, so the picnic tends to have a smaller turnout. Most of the families were represented, with just a few exceptions, but it happens.

Even though it was hot, we had a great time. A breeze kicked up and it took the edge off of the heat of the day. Everyone got a chance to catch up on the lives of the other family members. Our busy lives sometimes make it hard to stay in touch on a day to day basis, even though Facebook has helped with that some. I love having a chance to see all of the younger members of our family too. They are all so full of life. Talking with them is so interesting, and I know that for the aunts and uncles, it makes them feel a part of the younger set’s life. At least that is how it makes me feel.

I suppose lots of people would think the Byer family traditions are a bit unusual, but I like them. I like being close to the family, both on Facebook and in person. Each and every family member has something amazing to share. Each one is special in their own way, and together, we make a very special family. I am very blessed to be a part of such an amazing family. I love you all very much, and it was great to see you today.

There really is no better day in a family, than when a new baby arrives. Yesterday was just such a day for my nephew, Eric Parmely, his wife Ashley, and their daughters, Reagan and Hattie. Yesterday was the day that someone new arrived. His name is Bowen Lewis Parmely, and he made his appearance three weeks early, because his doctors felt that it would be best for him. He was a big baby boy, weighing in at 8 pounds 7.5 ounces, and he was 21¼ inches long…and everything with mommy and baby Bowen is perfect…including his appetite. Bowen is the first son for his parents, and the first grandson for his grandparents, and everyone is just as happy as they can be. He is also the first, and maybe only brother for his two big sisters, who cant wait until he can play.

As for Bowen…well, his first day was a very busy one. He was born at 8:56pm on April 24th…just when a guy should be sleeping, and they were shining bright lights in his face. Nevertheless, Bowen took it all in stride. He was handed off, first to his parents, and then to the grandparents. I’m sure he wondered how a guy could go about getting a bath around that place, but he waited patiently, and pretty soon they got him cleaned up and dressed so that he could meet his sisters…the most important people in his immediate life…after his parents that is. After all, it will be his sisters who play with him, teach him the ropes…on how to get around Mom and Dad, babysit him, and in probably, boss him around a lot. But, in all reality, while his sisters said that they wanted another sister, all that changed when they saw their brother. All thought a of a sister went out the door. Who could blame them? Little Bowen is a perfectly handsome little man, and the girls developed instant Brother Love!!

Bowen’s grandparents, like his parents, aunts, uncles, and the rest of the family, are all floating on air, now that he has arrived. Sometimes, I wonder how nine months can seem so long. When we first found out that baby Bowen was coming, and especially when we found out that he was a boy, we were all very excited. Now that he is here, the excitement is just growing. As for little Bowen, I think he figures that the future can wait for a while, because all these visitors have completely worn him out. Congratulations to Eric and Ashley Parmely. Your son is so cute. Love you guys.

15220200_1308244119240361_993329614033964008_n113537721_1172142732850501_1713751929367062279_nMy little great grand niece, Izabella Harman turned one year old today. Izabella, or Bella, or even Tink (as in Tinkerbell) is a little girl that is full of life and laughter. She works very hard to keep up with her big sister, Alice Green. They love having a sister, and they are best friends. Nevertheless, little Izabella looks like her daddy, Jake Harman, especially her eyes, but she has so many traits from her mommy too, especially, her personality. Bella’s mom, Melanie Harman is a sweet, happy girl with a positive personality, and Izabella’s ways are just like her mom…even though she is just one year old. The first year of a baby’s life is filled with many changes. They grow from infancy, to toddler, to a child during that time. Oh, I know they are still toddlers at one, but they are a child too. They talk now, walk now, and they have a mind of their own.

For Izabella, happiness is her sister, good food, and her loving parents and grandparents. It may not be a big world, but it is big enough for Bella. Her sister entertains her and keeps her smiling. Bella often wears her food, but then, would it taste as good as it does if she didn’t get it all over herself? Visiting her grandparents is among the most special times Bella has, and of course, she has two wonderful parents who love her to the moon and back. In fact, for little Bella, it’s all about the love, because that is what her world is made of. Everyone who sees her, knows that she is loved.

Before long, Bella will not be the baby though. She is soon to have a new little sibling, and then our little baby 15391111_1333956813335758_7986735044754462894_n14925397_1278568922207881_5447630939065108790_ngirl will be the big sister. It’s hard for me to believe that she will take on such a big new role, but like everything else, she will be great at it. She will smile and entertain the baby, just like their big sister Alice did for her, because that’s what siblings do for each other. I am so excited to see the girl the years will turn Bella into, because if she keeps her perfect little smile, and her precious little personality, she will be amazing. Today is Bella’s first birthday. Happy 1st birthday Bella!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

img_9568img_9553With each passing year, I find myself looking forward more and more to the Byer Family Christmas Party. Sadly, I think that part of the reason is that as time passes, we seem to lose more and more of my aunts and uncles. This year found us with only four aunts and only one uncle at the party. There are other uncles who are still alive, but that aren’t really able to come out for these events any more. It makes each time we get together that much more precious. I always feel sorry for those who didn’t make it to the party, because we always have such a nice time, and we are a family of excellent cooks, so the food is fabulous. And it is a way to keep those who have gone to Heaven just a little closer to the family. Nevertheless, the sadness over missing those who have left us persists, and grows with each new passing.

I think one reason that our grandparents wanted their children to continue the annual Christmas party and annual picnic was so that we would all get to know each other better. As the new generations come along. It would be so easy to lose touch with each other. That would be so sad, because little kids are usually instant img_9583img_9577img_9555friends, and that makes it extra special to watch. The kids had a sparkle in their eyes, and smiles on their faces. They were so excited to have new friends to play with and lots of room to run around, with no one to get upset at them. For kids, Christmas is always a special time of year, and it’s really hard to hold back the excitement. I love watching them bounce around the room. I could say that they ran around the room, but that wouldn’t be right exactly, because they really did bounce with excitement, and after all, it’s all about the kids right.

My grandparents were wise people. They had a vision for their kids and grandkids…for all of the generations that would follow them. They knew how easy it is to get busy in life, and to lose touch with family. It happens img_9552img_9551in so many families, and they didn’t want that for their family. Very wise people indeed. They wanted their kids not only to know their nieces and nephews, but also their grand nieces and nephews, and great grand nieces and nephews, for as long as they lived. What a precious gift that request turned out to be. It was not a burden to be carried or work to be done…it was a gift, and one I am thankful for every single year. It’s a time for family and reconnecting. While we miss all those who are gone now, I know that they would be proud of us for continuing this tradition. We love you all.

13265986_257222344634488_4589898347726366777_n13406763_265886647101391_3366028807812107235_nMy grand niece, Reagan Parmely is a busy little girl. I think that her most important job, at least in her opinion, is being the big sister. Reagan takes it upon herself to help her little sister, Hattie to do things like climbing the hay bales. She also takes her for walks in the mud, and for rides in her truck…yes, Reagan has a truck…that runs. Together, they help around the farm, taking care of the animals, and cuddling the babies. As sisters go, Reagan and Hattie are best friends. Reagan teaches Hattie things…like pushing her big sister on the tricycle, and how the tell the difference between weeds and flowers. They have great times together.

Reagan is a helper. She loves the farm animals, and is a great help when it comes to their care. The size of these animals doesn’t bother her one bit. Most kids would be at least a little apprehensive around a cow or horse that is more that twice their size, but not Reagan, or her sister, Hattie. They know how to act around the animals, and the animals are very gentle with them. Reagan likes to make sure that all the farm animals are where they are supposed to be, In fact, all animals have a proper place, and they should stay there. In Casper, where we live, 13876265_292781794411876_617624038936402311_nimg_5512there are two statues of horses eating the grass at the Quality Inn, and every time Reagan’s family drives by there, Reagan proceeds to tell those horses that they need to get back home to their corral. Now, don’t misunderstand me, she knows they are statues. She just likes saying that to be funny, and we all think it’s funny too.

Reagan likes mobility…of any kind. She rides horse, motorcycles, her truck, bicycle, and of course, the standard walking and running. And she’s pretty good at all of them. I think she was born riding something…or shortly thereafter. She takes everyone in her truck, or at least the ones that fit. I’m not totally sure how the dogs feel about it, but they ride along, so I guess she must be a pretty good driver. Reagan has grown up around a dad that loves motorcycles, a mom who loves horses, and an uncle who loves trucks, so none of this is particularly surprising to me. She has already had her first motorcycle accident, and while she had a shiner, she is a tough 13873017_287974464892609_4907685120331456178_n12049279_134764306880293_1923635950844667072_ngirl, who doesn’t give up. She gets right back on and goes again. She loves hiking with her Oma, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely, and riding her bicycle with her Aunt Brenda Schulenberg, who goes by BR. Together they all work on staying healthy and active. Reagan also loves to work with her grandparents, Albert and Kari Eighmy. They have safe tools for her to use, and she helps them build things around their farm. She loves having all of these people who let her help with things, because she likes to be busy. Today is Reagan’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

img_5129img_5133When you think of a town within a town or city, you often think of New York City, where you might find Queens, Harlem, or Yonkers. Or you might think of New Orleans, where you might find the French Quarter or the 9th Ward, but people really never think of a town within a town, when the town is a small town, like Forsyth, Montana, population of about 1,777. Nevertheless, Forsyth, Montana was a town that had within it a town…so to speak. When my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s grandpa, Andrew Schulenberg was a young married man, he built a couple of houses there. The houses were next door to each other. Andy’s parents lived in one house, and he and his wife, lived in the other. Across the street was another house owned by Schulenberg family relative, Bob’s Great Aunt Hennie. Being such a small town, there were other Schulenberg families very nearby, and since Andy’s parents, Max and Julia Schulenberg had ten children, it made for a lot of Schulenberg relation living in a neighborhood in Forsyth, Montana. Well, before long, the people of the town found themselves calling that neighborhood, Schulenbergville. I’m not sure just exactly when img_5109the neighborhood got its name, but since Andy was the sheriff of Rosebud County from 1955 to 1972, my guess is that it was either during that time, or it was his job as sheriff that solidified the name to that area of town.

I had the chance to see the two houses that Andy Schulenberg built, and to find out that the second one was the house that Bob’s Uncle Butch Schulenberg was born in. I love to see the homes where loved ones were born, partly I suppose, because so few people are born at home these days. In those days, however, being born at home was a very common practice, and it makes me think about the history that the house has witnessed. The house got to see little Butch Schulenberg growing up…or at least starting his life, since I don’t know when the family might have moved out of the house. Nevertheless, the area remained Schulenbergville for a number of years, and I don’t think the locals have forgotten it to this day.

Nor have they forgotten the sheriff who really made the Schulenberg name a household word in the little town of Forsyth. Andy was a different kind of sheriff from those you normally meet, and that is a story I will tell sometime, but it’s too long for this story. Suffice it to say that he was dearly loved, and there is more than one img_5132img_5135adult who owes the fact that they weren’t in prison…or worse as kids, to Sheriff Andy Schulenberg, and they will be happy to tell you so. The two houses Andy built still stand, as do the houses of the neighboring Schulenberg clan members, although some are no longer occupied. I find that a bit sad, but it is a testament to good construction work. Now they stand as a treasured memory for those who knew Schulenbergville well.

1901177_1471143999768586_1314387885_nThere comes a time in every child’s life, when they hit that magical age…the age when they can drive by themselves. For my nephew, Weston Moore, that day has arrived. Of course, each child has to pass the driving test, and most of them do. They are so anxious to be independent, that they study as hard as they can, because they want that license. Having your own license means that you don’t have to be driven around by your parents anymore. It means that you can get a job and have your own money. It means that when you take a girl on a date, you can drive. Of course, it also means that your parents will ask you to drive your younger brother around, or go to the store, or 11892064_973495936035064_875279534068125191_nrun some other errands. It is just part of the territory. Weston has reached that age. I’m sure that he can’t wait to go and get his license. It is an exciting day for him. For the rest of us…well, that remains to be seen.

Weston is my niece Machelle Cook Moore, and her husband, Steve’s son, and like most kids his age, Weston likes to hang out with his friends, play video games, and of course, he likes girls. He likes going to dances, and is enjoying high school. Still, like most kids, he can’t wait for summer…but then I think we all feel that way. Summer for Weston brings camping in the Big Horns with his family and cousins. Weston also helps out his grandparents with their lawn and such. Now that he has turned 16, I wonder if he will still be able to do 11253_1533940126822306_7776747781160954750_nthat. If he gets a job, he may not have time to mow the lawn as often. I suppose that job will be passed down to his little brother, Easton. Time will tell.

Weston is a great young man, and I am amazed that he is 16 years old already. The years have flown by so quickly. Before long, he will be graduating from high school and going on to college, or a career, and then marriage and children of his own. I know we will be shocked at how quickly the time flew by then too. Nevertheless, that day is down the road a little bit yet. Today is Weston’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Weston!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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