happy

My great grand-niece, Alice Green is the sweet little bonus baby that my grand-nephew Jake Harman got when he married her mother, Melanie. Alice is a wonderful little girl, and I loved her immediately. She is always happy and wants to make sure that those around her are happy too, and all it takes is one smile from her, and you are happy too.

Alice was 2 years old when her mom met her step-dad. She loved having a dad in the house again, and they were best friends, but there was something that was missing…siblings. Alice didn’t have siblings, and she really wanted them. She knew that other kids had them, and it was hard for her to understand why she didn’t, but for Alice, it wasn’t going to be that way for long. By the time Alice was 3 years old, her little sister, Izabella came along, and then when she was 5 years old, her little brother, Jaxx was added to the family. She suddenly felt like she was the most blessed little girl in the world. She loved being the big sister.

Alice is 7 years old now, and growing up fast, but she still loves her siblings very much. She may get tired of their little kid ways when she is a teenager, but for now they are her best friends. More so than ever this year, because school was cut short, and friends were set aside for the Covid-19 Pandemic. She got to spend the whole day with them, like it was summer for 5½ months instead of 3 months. It was the longest summer, and the best summer. I don’t know if all the parents thought it was a great thing, but for the kids it was the best thing to happen since sliced bread. With school starting soon, I’m sure the kids will miss it now that it’s over. Today is Alice’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Alice!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I have four sisters, and three brothers-in-law. My husband Bob had four sisters and one brother. He still has three sisters, his brother, a sister-in-law, and two brothers-in-law. We are missing his sister, Marlyce, who died of cancer on August 13, 1989 at just 39 years old. Marlyce was the first sibling death any of us had experienced, and it left a large hole in our lives. It just seemed impossible, like a horrible nightmare. How could our sweet Marlyce be gone? I suppose that disbelief at her passing, showed the innocence we all had about life, even though we weren’t seriously young. There are just people you don’t expect to lose…at least not until much later in life, and siblings definitely fall into that category. When Marlyce passed away, she took with her a portion of the joy the family had always had. She was always so sweet, and filled with a desire to help others, and make people happy.

One of the greatest events in Marlyce’s life was the day she became an aunt. She always loved babies, and each new niece or nephew was a treasure. Of all the nieces and nephews, there was only one she did not get to meet, Eric Parmely. And of course, she never got to meet all the grand nieces and grand nephews, or her great grand niece…sadly, because she would have loved every one of them. Marlyce’s developmental disabilities didn’t keep her from being able to hold the babies, and play with the little ones. She loved them as if they were her own babies. I suppose that if her circumstances had been different, maybe she could have been a mom, but that was not to be.

Marlyce went to Wood’s School as a child. Wood’s was a school for the developmentally disabled back then. These days the school district tries to incorporate these students into the public school system. I like that, whenever it is possible, but Marlyce had a great education anyway, and then they helped her to find a job. Marlyce worked several places, and always liked going to work. She never wanted to miss work…not for illness, holidays, or vacations…except maybe Christmas. Marlyce loved being needed. Baking cookies, holding babies, working, and knitting were things that made her feel useful. What she never knew was that she was so much more than those things to us. We would have loved her even if she couldn’t make things, work, or even hold the babies. Marlyce holds a special place in our hearts, and she always will. Today would have been Marlyce’s 69th birthday. I can’t believe that she has been gone almost 30 years now, but I miss her like it was yesterday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Marlyce. We love and miss you.

For most of the time I have been writing about my grand-niece, Katie Balcerzak, my stories have been centered around her love of children and her work at the Montessori school, her happy marriage to my grand-nephew, Keifer, and her desire for a family, but this year is simply different, because this year is all about the baby. The baby, who goes by the name of Reece Victoria Balcerzak, has completely taken over her parents’ hearts. Their whole life centers around her, and for good reason, because Reese is a sweet, smiley little girl with smiling eyes to match her beautiful smile. She is a happy baby, and that makes her mommy so happy. For Katie, life is complete… at least until they decide to have another baby, at which time, they will wonder how they ever could have been a family of three, because they will have two babies to love then.

These days, Katie spends her free time…the time when she isn’t taking care of home and baby…taking pictures of her little gem, and who can blame her, because Reece is a total cutie. Really, all Katie has ever wanted was to be a mom, and she is such a great mom, so that in itself is success. Of course, as we all know, being the mom of a baby does have its challenges too. Babies get crabby when they are hungry, wet, teething, and tired…among other things. Sometimes, they are just in a crabby mood, and why should they be different.we all get crabby sometimes. Nevertheless, even if Reece is crabby, her mommy loves her bunches, and usually knows how to fix it. Katie prides herself in the care she gives Reece, and wants to be the best mommy she can be…I mean, which of us moms don’t want that.

Some of the things that Katie has learned in her journey from new mommy to seasoned professional,have been kind of funny, or should I say her sense of humor was clearly showing, because she points out the long list of today’s parenting Dos and Don’ts List, and how according to these “professionals” just how amazing it is that yesterday’s generation ever survived their parents. When you read the list, you find yourself laughing, because no parent could possibly live up to that. At first glance, you might think she was serious, but then you read the rest of it, and find out that she was really being funny. The only aren’t who would really try to follow that list would be one that will soon find themselves trying to avoid the nut house!! Thankfully, Katie has seen through the craziness, and focuses more on the simple ways to be a good parent and raise a happy, healthy, child. Today is Katie’s birthday, and the first one she has spent as a mother. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The longer we are married, the more blessed I feel with my soulmate. And…I’m not the only one that is blessed by my husband. Bob is a mechanic…through and through. For years before he had his own garage, we went to his parents house so he could work on cars there. When we bought our current house, it didn’t have a garage either, but it had enough room in back to build one, so we did. It was strange for him to simply have to go out in the back yard to get to the garage where he was working on someone’s car, but it made him very happy. In fact, I can’t think of a “gift” Bob has enjoyed more, or gotten more use out of than his garage. Most people would not even consider the garage to be a gift, but for Bob, it really was. No longer would he have to stand out in the wind and cold to work on a car, or make a trip to his parents’ house to work on a car. He had a place of his own to do that.

Bob has been working on the cars of his friends and family for as ling as I’ve known him. People often ask him, or me, if he ever gets tired of it. The answer is always quick, “No, he likes it. It makes him happy.” Most people want to come home after a long day at work and just relax, but not Bob. There’s lots of time to relax after it get dark. I suppose that Bob is of the “make hay while the sun shines” generation. After a long day at work, Bob would often put in another couple of hours out in the garage. Finally, he found that he had too much to do to waste time going to work anymore. That was a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t changed his mind about that one bit. He likes working for himself much better!!

After his retirement, I think lots of people thought Bob was just going to park in front of the television set and fade away. They were wrong. Bob’s work continued..it just changed locations…and bosses. No he simply walks out the back door to go to “work,” if that’s what you choose to call it. As to his boss, I’ve tried to tell him that I’m his boss now, but he doesn’t believe me. In fact, he seems to think that he is his boss, and I supposed he is right, but I don’t think I’ll ever admit to that. It doesn’t matter anyway, since he is doing what makes him happy…no matter who is bossing him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! I’ll love you forever and ever.

My niece, Kellie Hadlock was practically born laughing, or to be more correct, giggling…and she hasn’t stopped since. Kellie was always happy, and simply couldn’t ever imagine going through life any other way. She loves a good joke, and sees humor in just about every situation. She can’t imagine going through her life without daily laughter, and we can’t imagine it either, because Kellie wouldn’t be Kellie without her giggles. They make her who she is.

Kellie became a successful insurance agent a few years ago, and was then given the opportunity to work in the insurance department of a title agency, which she has found to be very much to her liking. She has become a great asset to American Title Agency, where she now works, and her whole family is very happy for her. While insurance at a title agency is Kellie’s career, it is no her life. Her life belongs to God and praising Him in song.

Kellie is one of the lead singers at our church, Word Christian Fellowship. Kellie has a beautiful voice, and when it is paired with her love of the Lord, the songs take on an air of the angelic. That’s Kellie’s voice…just beautiful!! Of course, Kellie’s beautiful voice comes from her beautiful spirit. I have continued to be so proud of how she has grown in her music ministry. She wanted to go into music ministry on a full time basis, but God has not moved her in that direction at this time. I think it is likely because she would probably have to travel to do that full-time, and while that would be fun for a time, Kellie is very much a family person, and I don’t know how she would do with that in the long term.

Kellie loves being an aunt to her nephew, Ethan Hadlock and nieces, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore, and it would be very hard to be far away from them all the time. She already has to be far away form Mackenzie, who lives in North Carolina, and that is really hard for the whole family. So it would be really hard to live far away form all of them. Kellie is also very close with her mom and dad, Allyn and Chris Hadlock, and loves spending time with them, especially at their place on Casper Mountain. In fact, I thing that is where she uses up many of her awesome giggles. The family loves to get together and laugh, sing, and just enjoy each others company. It’s a great life. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For years we have been told that you can find out a lot about a person by their non-verbal communication…body language. Basically it is their physical behavior in any situation, as opposed to what they say about it. Things like facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch, and the use of space are key ways to tell if someone is lying, angry, or excited. Body language exists in both animals and humans, and anyone who has come up on a mother bear or a moose, can tell you. Believe me, I hope that none of my readers have found themselves in that situation.

I have always been told things like…when you are being interviewed, don’t cross your arms, because it makes you seem closed off, as well as, that it is a nervous habit to play with your hair, but I happen to know that things aren’t always so cut and dried. Anyone who knows me knows that if my arms are crossed over my body…I’m cold. And if I am playing with my hair, it isn’t because I’m nervous, but rather it is just something I like the feel of. Basically, I think that while body language is an effective tool. it isn’t the only way, and sometimes not even the best way to read a person. Body language isn’t a spoken language, and so must be interpreted broadly, instead of having an absolute meaning corresponding with a certain movement, which explains why my movements can be misleading.

Body language is even more difficult, in that, interpretations can vary from country to country, or culture to culture. Some experts aren’t even sure that body language is universal. Body language is a subset of nonverbal communication, and really complements verbal communication in social interaction. Just think of how often you find people who can’t tell a story without using their hands…and their hands aren’t even saying anything specific. They are simply a gesture designed to clarify the story. Some researchers would say that nonverbal communication accounts for the majority of information transmitted during interpersonal interactions. It helps to establish the relationship between two people and regulates interaction, but beware, because it can be ambiguous, as seen in my own crossed arms not indicating being closed off, but rather cold. Facial expression is extremely important when expressing emotions through the body. If the body is saying one thing, and the face is saying another, maybe the person has something to hide, or the story they are telling is a lie. Combinations of eyes, eyebrow, lips, nose, and cheek movements help form different moods of an individual.

Some studies show that to really interpret emotions, both facial expression and bodily language must be taken into account. Behavioral experiments have also shown that “recognition of facial expression is influenced by perceived bodily expression. This means that the brain processes the other’s facial and bodily expressions simultaneously.” Participants in these studies were accurately able to judge emotions based on facial expression. This is because the face and the body are normally seen together in their natural proportions and the emotional signals from the face and body are well integrated. Things like a lack of crinkles around the eyes would suggest a fake smile. At one point, researchers believed that making a genuine smile was nearly impossible to do on command. I hadn’t thought about that, but it makes sense. When you’re smiling joyfully, they crinkle. When you’re faking it, they don’t. If someone’s trying to look happy but isn’t, you won’t see wrinkles.

I find it quite interesting to study the different interpretations that have been place in body language, and I think that many of them are probably pretty close to accurate, but it’s always a good idea to keep an open mind when it comes to body language. When we are too quick to make a judgment, we can find ourselves realizing that we were completely in the wrong in our interpretation of non-verbal communication.

My dad’s younger sister, Ruth Spencer married a man named Lester Alonzo Wolfe…who went by Jim, and I truly can’t imagine him as Lester. He was Uncle Jim, and he was truly a kid at heart. He could be serious when he had to be, but that was not his real nature. Uncle Jim and my dad, Allen Spencer were good friends, more than brothers-in-law usually are. They were more like brothers, and what one didn’t think of, the other one did!! When the two of them got together, all bets were off. They came up with the craziest things, from antics to dinners. You never knew what they would do next.

Uncle Jim genuinely loved my sisters and me, and as we grew up and got married and had children, he loved our kids, too. He was so much like our Dad in that way. He always loved having kids around, and in response to all of us kids teasing him and cajoling him, he always obliged us by teasing and cajoling back. I suppose that had to do with the kid he was inside. Laughter was not something you saw in him once in a while, it was the norm with Uncle Jim. It didn’t matter where we were, or what we were doing…in the house, outside, on camping trips, or country drives, which we made often when they were in town…he was just so much fun! He and our Aunt Ruth both were, but he and Dad were such big kids themselves, that when they got together, they could relate to our need to have that fun interaction with our Dad and our uncle. They reveled in it, and it made them both very happy. They played well off of each other. Their fun attitudes and ways were contagious! And we all loved it!

Uncle Jim’s nature was good, clean, and fun-loving, and he had a kind heart. He would give us anything we asked for, if he could. If he bought a treat, it was for everyone. If there was a game to be played, everyone could play, and if there was an underdog, he was their champion! No one ever felt left out because of the inability to keep up with the better players, and none of us felt like we wished he wouldn’t do that. I think it taught us to be understanding of everyone…not just the best players. Uncle Jim thought nice thoughts, and then put them into nice actions. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body.

Uncle Jim’s stories were the best and the most interesting. He could sure tell them, whether they were the truth or some of the great whoppers he told, that we, of course believed. Sometimes I think the whoppers were the best…things like walking ten miles in the snow, barefoot, and uphill both ways. Those were the kind of stories they told us, and we were gullible enough to believe. He could tell a story better than anyone we knew. We loved having Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth come to visit, and they loved surprising us. They often just popped in…from several states away, making popping in a planned event. When they came to visit, it was truly the happiest time for my sisters and me! They brought happiness and fun with them. Whatever our family may have been doing, we gladly stopped doing, for the entire time they were here. We just had fun with Uncle Jim, Aunt Ruth, and whichever of their children came with them.

My sister, Cheryl, who helped me with some of these great memories, the rest of my sisters and I, don’t have one bad memory of Uncle Jim. He was simply a good-hearted man who, though he was married to our Dad’s sister, could not have loved us any more if we had been his own blood, and he always let us know that fact. You don’t often find that in an uncle, and we love and treasure him still today, and always will!! Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Jim.

As my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s birthday approached this year, I have found myself thinking a lot about the man who was like a second dad to me for 38 years. As with my parents, I still find it hard to believe that he is gone, and yet it has been more than four years already. There are many things I really miss about my father-in-law. One of the main ones would be his smile. Whenever we were at his house, he was always so genuinely happy to see us, and his smile made that so clear. He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. He was an experienced teaser, and since I come from a family of teasers, we always got along well. In his last years, I had the privilege of taking care of him, and I can honestly say that it was a privilege, and a blessing to be able to spend that time with him. We talked about family history a lot, and he helped me to fill in a lot of the holes in that side of the family. And we just talked about life and the past. Those were sweet times.

My father-in-law was always there to pitch in and lend a helping hand. He worked hard until the job was done. I always called him a workaholic, and I wasn’t kidding, nor was I wrong. He instilled that same work ethic in his children, all of whom are hard workers too. His philosophy was that you should work hard until the job was done, and done right. He believed that if a job was worth doing, it was worth doing right. He took that work ethic with him to the various job he did over the years, and each one was very sorry to see him move on.

He worked hard, but the really important thing in his life was his family. They were his top priority. He loved every baby, grandbaby, and great grandbaby with all his heart. He made toys for them, played games with them, and let them “help” with the jobs he was working on at home, teaching them the ropes as they went along. Every one of the kids and grandkids had a chance to help Grandpa with his work, and they all loved to be able to do so. He never made them feel like they were in the way. Of course, they most enjoyed playing with him, but what child wouldn’t? He was a dear dad and grandfather to every one of the children and grandchildren, a well as to his sons and daughters-in-law. I feel very privileged to have known him. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 88th birthday. I wish he were here so we could all celebrate it with him. Happy birthday in Heaven Dad. We love and miss you very much.

12042965_10206350174732130_43899556622801737_na13690579_10208540203336126_3086425729592877936_nNo wedding brings with it the guarantee of a lifelong marriage. That is up to the couple who are in the marriage, and it takes two people to make a successful marriage. The years fly by, things in the couple’s life change, and sometimes people decide to move to a new place. It may not be the way other people expected their life to go, but as long as the couple agrees on the new journey, it will work out to bring a beautiful life. I have had to be one of those parents who saw the life of her daughter and her family in a very different way than it turned out to be, and sometimes that is hard for me, because I miss them very much, but they are so happy living in northwestern Washington state, that I can’t help but feel happy for them.

My daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis were married almost 20 years when they decided to pack up and move. They had spent the first 20 years of their marriage here in Casper, Wyoming, and I will be forever grateful to them for doing that, because it gave us the chance to really know their children, Shai and Caalab, and to spend time with all of them. I think that, while it is always hard to have your grandchildren living far away, it is easier when they were close while they were growing up, so they know their grandparents and how much we love them.

Amy has always loved the rain and the beach, and since she visited the Pacific Northwest as a Senior Trip, she has been in love with that area. The funny thing is that since she and Travis moved there, we have had more rain than we used to. These days, Amy and I have sort of a standing joke going. When it rains here, I sent her a text telling her it’s an Amy Day, to which she answers…”Send some my way.” Trying to be cooperative, I tell her that I will, but since it will have to get to her by way of Florida and Japan, it could take a while. Funny thing about that…Amy loves rain so much that she didn’t even care how long it took, just that it was on it’s way.
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Amy and Travis are so happy living in their new home and their new state, that I can’t help but be happy for them too. Of course, I wish I had the ability to beam myself over there more often, but I don’t so Facebook, telephone, Snapchat, and texting are the modes of communication for now. I’m just happy that they love living in their beautiful area. Today is Amy and Travis 21st Wedding Anniversary. The years surely do fly by. Happy Anniversary Amy and Travis!! We love you!!

imageimageMy son-in-law, Travis Royce loves to mow the lawn. He always has. When he first told us that, we were surprised. I had never met anyone who truthfully enjoyed mowing the lawn. He used to mow our lawn when they lived in an apartment, just so he could have a lawn to mow. I think one of the things he never really liked about Wyoming was the shorter lawn growing season, because unlike mowing the lawn…he hates shoveling snow. I can’t really say that I blame him there, but I can’t see myself ever enjoying the job of lawn mowing. When Amy and Travis bought a house here in Casper, Travis finally got to mow his own lawn, but it was a small yard, and it didn’t take very long, so he didn’t really get to mow as much as he wanted.

After their move to Ferndale, Washington, Travis finally got the yard of his dreams…and it came with a riding lawn mower. Travis was in Seventh Heaven. As the kids put it, they bought a riding lawnmower, and while they overpaid for the lawnmower, they did ok in that the house and yard came as a part of the deal. Now Travis can finally be mow happy. I have only seen their new yard in pictures, but I do know that it is really a big yard. There are some beautiful trees there, and yet the yard is open and spaceous…and that is just the pictures I’ve seen, without the perspective of seeing it in person. I am looking forward to going for a visit, so I can see this amazing riding lawnmower that is apparently made of gold, because it cost a lot of money, and came with a free house and yard. What more could you ask for?

Of course, as happy as his riding lawnmower has made Travis, he simply can’t mow the lawn all the time, or it would quickly be mowed down to dirt, so he and Amy had to figure out something else to do too. They came up Cyber Dartsimagewith the idea, along with their friends, Burt and Amy, to play darts via Skype. If course, they can’t both shoot for the same dart board, but with Skype, they can each see how the other side is doing. As is common in these couples matches, it was guys against girls. I would love to say that the girls won, but unfortunately, that would be a lie…they lost. Nevertheless, it was an innovative way to play long distance darts, and girls…I think you need to practice up and call for a rematch, and show those guys how it’s really done!! Today is Travis’ birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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