These days, most people find themselves leading busy lives, but I doubt if many have had the kind of year, or actually year and a half that my nephew Dave Balcerzak, and my niece Chantel…his wife have had. Dave and Chantel are empty nesters now, because all their kids have moved out, but to make matters worse…they are between nests!! That’s not a bad thing, because they are in the process of buying a house. The bad part is packing, patching walls from nail holes, and cleaning their current place so they are ready to move into the new place in early September. Nevertheless, they are so very excited about buying this house. It is a dream come true for them, so all their hard work now will eventually be totally worth it. Dave is practically like a kid in a candy store. He keeps calling Chantel on the phone, just to tell her…”I bought you a house!!” That is pretty typical of Dave anyway, because Chantel is his princess, and he loves showing her just how much he loves her.
As if moving wasn’t enough to keep these two busy, they will have three weddings that hey have planned, paid for, and helped with in 16 months. The final one takes place in October, and then they will have one daughter left to eventually plan a wedding for. Their little family is growing by leaps and bounds, and they couldn’t be happier. They are grandparents for the first time now. Alice, who shares Dave’s birthday, thinks he hung the moon, and now her little sister, Izabella has him wrapped around her baby finger too. Dave is reveling in the pleasure of being grandpa, and the girls are very blessed too. And the fact that they are girls…well, that pretty much sunk Dave’s resistance ship right away. He would love them if they were boys too, but he is a sucker for those little girls. Sorry Dave…but it’s the truth.
Yes, it’s been a busy year for Dave and Chantel, and life just gets better and better every day, and add to that, any work they decide to do to the new house, and you have a recipe for a busy year to come. Let’s face facts here too…you always change something. Nevertheless, that work becomes very rewarding when it’s on your own house. I know that they are going to have a great time building a new life in their new home, with lots of precious moments there with the kids and grandkids. The possibilities are endless. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Amanda Reed, my brother-in-law, Mike Reed’s daughter is living her version of the dream. She and her family bought a house a little over a year ago, and they have spent the last year fixing it up to be exactly what they want. It’s been a wonderful experience for them, but this year, Amanda got a bug bite. No, she wasn’t bitten by some strange kind of insect, but rather by the need to buy a Volkswagen Beetle. I can understand that bite. I thought I wanted a Volkswagen Beetle once. My best friend had one, and we had some great times in that car. In the end, I got what my dad deemed a family car, and I was too excited about having my own car to be upset about it for long. Nevertheless, I do remember the fun times we had in a Volkswagen Beetle. With Amanda…once the bug bit her, she had to have a Bug. This year, her dream of owning a Volkswagen Beetle came true, when they bought her cute little Bug.
Of course, you can’t always be on land. Amanda and her family love being on the water, and this year, they will be getting lots of that when they go on their first cruise. My sister, Caryl and brother-in-law, Mike are taking their whole family on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas and Key West. I love to go on cruises, and I remember my first cruise. It was amazing. I know that for Amanda and her family, this is an exciting time. There really is nothing better than getting the whole family together for a vacation, where you can just enjoy each other’s company and relax. I hope they have a wonderful cruise, and that it is a trip they will never forget.
Amanda and her family love all kinds of sports. They spend a lot of time at the lake in the summer, but in the winter, they have another way to get in deep. Deep in the snow, that is. The have snowmobiles, and snow motorcycles, and sometimes those items get buried in the deep snow. The only thing left to do is dig them out. Thankfully they have good friends that go along on these excursions, and everybody gets in there to get the unit out of the deep snow. Now personally, I think they might be just a little bit crazy, but then they didn’t ask me, and I suppose that since I’ve never tried it, I should hold my opinion until I can make a more informed judgment…like that will ever happen. As long as they like it, I say to each his own. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
A while back, I wrote a story about a house in Massachusetts that was built by our ancestor, James Noyes, who is my husband, Bob’s 7th great grandfather. Almost immediately, a cousin of ours, Paul Noyes told me that he had been there many times, and yet another cousin, David Noyes had been invited inside and had pictures. Of course, this was exactly what I was hoping for, because I wanted to talk about the interior of the home, but could not find any pictures online. So, I want to thank David for these beautiful pictures, and Paul for forwarding them to me, so that I can tell a little about the inside of this grand old house. My husband, Bob was sure that the interior had probably been renovated several times since the 1646 date that the house was built, but other than what has been documented, there is no indication of a massive remodel.
James Noyes, moved to and was co-founder of Newberry, Massachusetts in 1635, bringing with him, his wife Sarah Brown Noyes. Little was documented about where in Newbury they lived before the Noyes home was built in 1646, but the family grew by five children…Joseph, James, Sarah (who died at an unknown young age), Moses, and John. I would assume that their growing family was the reason for the large home to be built. Even with that, the home was not what we would consider large these days. The current home has five bedrooms, but it is my guess that the original probably had only three, a master bedroom for the parents, a bedroom for the boys, and a bedroom for the girls. The house was only one room deep in those years, and while it might have been somewhat small, I can only imagine what stories those walls would tell, if they could talk. My guess is that there would be stories of laughter, sadness, and crying as new babies joined the family. The family grew, with the additions of Thomas, Rebecca, William, and a second daughter named Sarah, after her mother and the first Sarah, who had passed away.
James and Sarah lived in the house for the remainder of their days, during which time the house saw children come into the family, and children marry and move away, returning now and again to share their children with their parents. Then on October 22, 1656, just seven months after his second daughter named Sarah, was born, James passed away. The house saw the sadness of a family in mourning for its patriarch. Sarah became the head of the family then, and so it remained until her passing on September 13, 1691. James and Sarah were blessed with at least 47 grandchildren…not all of whom lived very long unfortunately. Not much is said about what the children did with the home after their mother’s passing, but while it has been home to a number of families over the many years since it was built, it remains an important historical home and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. There were some changes, which added size to the home making it a five bedroom home at this present time. The last time the home was sold was in 2010, and it is my assumption that it was the current owners who allowed our cousin David Noyes to have a tour and take the pictures I now have of this beautiful home.
Yesterday was my daughter, Amy Royce’s last day at her job at Insurance Services Group in Edmonds, Washington. They gave her a nice sendoff, and were sorry to see her go. This wasn’t the original plan when Amy, her husband, Travis, and their son, Caalab moved to the Seattle area, but as things sometimes do, their plans were changed when they bought a house in the little town of Ferndale, Washington, which is ten miles north of Bellingham, an hour and a half north of their apartment in Lynwood, Washington. For that reason, it is no longer feasible for Amy to work in Edmonds. The drive home last night took Amy two hours, because of traffic…and that was on the interstate. A drive like that on a daily basis would be grueling…to say the least.
I have a feeling that this new chapter in their lives is going to be very different from any other chapter in their lives. Having come from a city of 55,000 plus people, and then from Lynnwood, which has a population of 36,000 plus people…which is deceiving in that the cities in that area all run together, making the true population much higher in reality, this change is surprising for sure. You see, Ferndale, Washington is a small town of 11,415 people. It just grew by two, and when Caalab moves up, three, but that still makes it a small town. To top it off, their home is about 5.6 miles north of town. What that means is that my little country girl, turned city girl, is not a country girl again. That is totally shocking to me, because she couldn’t wait to move to town when we lived in the country. Things do change as you get older, I guess. What you didn’t like before doesn’t seem so bad now. Still, it’s strange to think of Amy using propane and having a well.
Now the real work begins. Amy and Travis will be unpacking and setting up their new home, while Caalab will stay at the apartment in Lynnwood until his last day at his job. He will join them toward the end of the month. I’m very excited to see how the house looks when they are done, but that may take a little bit of time, since they will start their new jobs on Wednesday. Both of them will be working in Bellingham, so they can take one car to work. I’m not sure of the name of the shop where Travis will be working, but Amy will be joining Rice Insurance. That is a great opportunity for her, because Rice Insurance writes for all 50 states. She has a lot to learn, but it will be exciting for sure. Caalab will be going to school soon, but that’s another story. I am very happy for them. This is going to be a great new chapter in their lives.
Families have long loved to visit places like museums and zoos. It give them a chance to have an outing with the kids whereby they are out of the house, and yet learning something too. My grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer was no exception to that rule. For the first ten years of her eldest child, my Aunt Laura Spencer Fredrick’s life, Grandma didn’t have any other children. I’ve never known just why that was. The family history doesn’t tell of miscarriages or lost babies, but until my Uncle Bill Spencer came along, ten years after his sister, Laura, and then was quickly followed by brother, Allen Spencer (my dad), and then Aunt Ruth Spencer Wolfe, that was simply the case. Grandma and Aunt Laura were very close, and did lots of things together. The pictures of that time frame show visits with family, time spent picking flowers, and a trip to the zoo, which brings me to my story.
As I said, Grandma was very close with her daughter, and took lots of pictures of her and with her. Because of that closeness, she didn’t pay as much attention to the things or animals around Aunt Laura, but rather paid attention to Aunt Laura in the photo. It really was a matter of what subject she felt was the most important in the picture…obviously for Grandma that was Aunt Laura. She wanted to be able to tell of all the events of Aunt Laura’s young life, and Grandma did a great job of that.
As Uncle Bill began going through all the pictures and writing up the family history, he came across many pictures that rather frustrated him. That’s where his opinion on the pictures Grandma had taken came out. It wasn’t that Uncle Bill didn’t like the pictures of his sister, because he did…they were very close as children. The problem for him occurred with the picture of his sister, Laure standing by a cannon. Needless to say, I have to agree with Uncle Bill to a large degree. While the pictures of Aunt Laura with the zoo animals are great, I didn’t know what the cannon was at all, until Uncle Bill clarified that for me. Instead of taking the picture with a side view of the cannon, Grandma has taken it with a back view. It was pretty much impossible to know what it was without being told or maybe having a background that clarified it for you. Uncle Bill was rather annoyed, and commented on the picture with, “Come on Mom!”
That picture wasn’t the only one that Uncle Bill was upset with either. Another picture that was very good, but was not taken by Grandma, irritated him nevertheless. It was a picture marked only as, “Mother’s niece.” I’m sure that, like most people, Grandma figured that she would always know who it was, but what she wasn’t thinking about was that the rest of the people, who would someday look at the picture, would never know who it was. Again, it was a matter of what Grandma saw as important and what Uncle Bill saw as important. Sadly, Grandma is gone now, so we cannot ask who this niece might have been. She didn’t mean to do these things to upset her son, of course, it was just that what she saw and what he saw as important, were two very different things. And in this case, quite upsetting to my uncle.
Over the years, the New Years Eve party that we always hold at my parents, Al and Collene Spencer’s house, has changed in many ways. New family members join our clan, and others depart, whether by their passing or moving away. Still, the party goes on. It is tradition, because, you see, my mom was born on New Years Day. That has always made New Years Eve and the party we hold be something that is anticipated with excitement…or at least it always was.
This year will be very different, and all future New Years Eve parties will also be very different, because our guest of honor…our mom will no longer be there. It’s hard to believe that it has been over ten months since her passing, but it has. Still, just knowing that our parents loved the New Years Eve party so much, and having all their children and grandchildren around them at this special time, was their way of celebrating it, makes it special. They never wanted to go out to a bar, because they wanted their kids to be able to be involved, so in their early years, the annual New Years Eve party at the Spencer home was born.
As teenagers, they knew we would be safe, because we didn’t have to drive anywhere. The party was at our house. And we never wanted to go anywhere else anyway. Our assorted boyfriends were allowed to come to the party over the years, and later husbands and kids, but the party location never changed. It hasn’t changed now either, but our guest of honor will be celebrating her birthday and the party that goes with it, in Heaven this year, because that is where she lives now.
I think we are all a little apprehensive this year, because we really don’t knew how we feel about this particular party. I know that the echoes of our parents and indeed their very essence will linger over the party, because they will be in our thoughts throughout the night. It is just very strange to think about having this party without them. over the years, it was always them that planned and executed the whole evening. It didn’t matter how cold it was outside, because it was always warm and cheery in their house. I’m sure there will be a tear or two that will escape from our eyes, but for the most part, we will try to keep things light. This is a party and not a punishment, after all…and Mom wouldn’t want us to be moping around. So here’s to our parents. Mom and Dad, we love you always and forever, and we miss you very much. As you would have wanted it to be…the party will go on without you…but it will not be nearly as much fun as when you were here.
When I first met Bob’s Aunt Esther, we had not been married very long, and unfortunately for Bob, he had made the mistake of assuming that I knew how to cut hair. Well, in reality, I did, but there is a vast difference between cutting my sisters’ long, one length hair, and his short and in need of a tapered look hair. Needless to say, I cut his hair at one length most of the way around and a bit shorter above the ears and shorter still on his forehead, but still no tapering. It was kind of a disaster…and it was right before our wedding…Ugh!! Bob was a god sport about it…after the initial shock and argument over what in the world I had been thinking. I told him I didn’t know how, but he thought his mother would cut it too short, so he was left with me. His mistake, not mine…right!!
That summer, we went up to Forsyth, Montana to visit Bob’s grandparents, Vina and Walt Hein, who are his Aunt Esther’s parents. Bob’s hair, unfortunately for him, is rather slow growing, and the summer still found his hair not looking too great. Since Esther was a cosmetologist, Bob decided to play it safe and have her cut his hair…still rubbing it in a bit that I had butchered it the last time he let me near it. The situation was quickly getting ready to turn into an argument, when Esther offered to teach me how to cut his hair. It was the best thing she could have done, because over the years, it has saved us untold amounts of money on haircuts for Bob…not to mention years of embarrassment about how awful it really looked.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know how bad his hair looked after I cut it, but rather it was the fact that there was nothing I could do about it, and every time he looked in the mirror to comb his hair, there it was…a constant reminder. It got easier as it got longer, but he wasn’t going to let me touch it. Esther taking the time to not only cut it well, but to show me how to cut it right, was a definite saving grace for me, because now I can cut it and do it right.
Of course, cutting hair isn’t the only thing Esther is talented at. She is a great seamstress, and makes amazing quilts as well. Her paintings have graced several homes that I know of, including mine. Esther is a woman of many talents, and I’m glad she has shared some of them with me. Today is Esther’s birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
On October 11, 2015, a wildfire devastated a large area north of Casper, including the area where my nephew, Barry Schulenberg and his wife, Kelli live. While their house was not one that was damaged, they did not escape unscathed. They lost a shed with some lawn equipment in it, fifteen or more trees, a flatbed trailer, and about eight cords of wood, which was enough to heat their home for the coming winter, just to name a few of the things. While insurance will reimburse them for some of the loss, it will not cover all of it, nor will it even begin to reimburse them for the many hours spent cutting all that wood the first time. And the hardest thing to get back…peace of mind.
People would call them lucky, that so much of their property was spared, but I don’t really think anyone who lost anything in that fire, that took 10,000 acres, 12 homes, a number of animals, and several other structures, considers themselves lucky…except that they made it out alive. I still don’t consider that luck. I believe it was the prayers of the people of Casper and others around the nation that kept the loss to the relative minimum that it ended up being, compared to other large fires.
In the aftermath, many people have donated money and other needed items to those who suffered loss that dreadful day, and many will continue to do so. There is no way for me to talk about them all, but they know how much the people who they have helped appreciated it. Help after a loss never goes unnoticed. It is a show of love, kindness, and compassion that can never be repaid. People helping people…the giving spirit. It is what people do for those in need.
As for Barry and Kelli Schulenberg, a special family and friends benefit took place yesterday, when a dozen people converged on my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Ron and Rachel Schulenberg’s place, where thankfully, Barry and Kelli still had some wood, waiting to be cut. Those dozen people spent most of the day cutting, loading, and unloading the ten cords of wood, that now sits where the first eight cords had been at Barry and Kelli’s place. I know that they already feel much better about the coming winter, because without all that wood, it would have been a much more expensive winter in the heating department.
The things that Barry, Kelli, and the other fire victims lost in the fire will at least partially be replaced, but the thing you can’t put a value on is the helping hands of the people who stepped up to help you rebuild your life. The fire victims lost a lot of things, but things can be replaced. Nevertheless, cleanup, replanting, re-cutting of wood, and so many other things that had to be done after a fire, take time and effort. I have to give a lot of credit to anyone who helped to put the lives of the fire victims back together. The kindness of those helping hands was a blessing that will never be forgotten.
My mother’s is a large family. There were nine children, and with each new marriage and birth, it grows larger still. At this point, I’m sure the family is well over 300, and all from my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, but with them, it all started with my Aunt Evelyn. She was their first baby. She was the one who informed my grandmother, when she was asked to go get her daddy, that “You must say Uncle Daddy!” She was the first of the social butterflies in their family, having a circle of friends who did lots of activities, and I’m sure that the younger kids wished they could do that too, but by the time they were of age, things like that weren’t done so much anymore. Fads like that come and go, and unfortunately for the little ones who would have loved to be a part of it, but they just don’t get to. Yes, Aunt Evelyn was the first of her siblings, and that gave her some seniority in the whole getting things by ages thing, but to me, she was just my aunt.
Because of the fact that my mom and Aunt Evelyn had children about the same age, they got together quite a bit. Aunt Evelyn, her husband, my Uncle George Hushman, and my parents went to the military ball together, the fireman’s ball together, and they bowled together. They double dated when my mom and dad were dating, and they spent time at each other’s houses. Because they did, my Aunt Evelyn’s kids, my cousins Susie, George, Shelley, Shannon, and Greg, were some of the best friends my sisters and I had as little kids, and we remain friends to this day, even if we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to.
As kids, we loved going to Aunt Evelyn’s house. She lived right next to the Mills Volunteer Fire Department, and I can’t count the number of times that we were there when the fire alarm went off. I will never forget how loud it was, nor how loud the fire trucks were when they went screaming out those big doors. Not every kid had the opportunity to live right next to that, or even to visit someone who does. It was quite interesting.
Many was the time when we went to Aunt Evelyn’s house and played hide and seek, or went down to the school to play on all the playground equipment there. There was never a dull moment when we went to Aunt Evelyn’s house. Of course, I’m sure that her kids always thought it more fun to come to our house, but that would just have to be their memory.
We lost Aunt Evelyn on May 4, 2015, and I still find it hard to believe that she is gone. Today, she would have been 87 years old. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much, and can’t wait to see you again.
When my niece, Susan Cook Griffith met her husband Josh Griffith, she knew he was special. Susan was a single mom to her daughter, Jala and the two of them were living in a little two bedroom house. After dating a while Susan knew Josh was the one. It was February 13th, and Susan was ready to take their relationship to the next level. Josh was over at her house, and her parents dropped by with a card and a box of chocolates for them. She had just put her daughter, Jala to bed. Susan had made up her mind that if Josh didn’t propose on Valentine’s Day she was going to. I’m not sure how she felt about popping the question, but sometimes a girl just has to take matters into her own hands.
Back then, camera phones were a new thing, and Josh had one, so Susan was always asking him to let her look at his pictures. She didn’t even have a digital camera yet, so looking at pictures taken only moments before was a real novelty. Josh teasingly told her that if she got him a chocolate, she could look at the phone, but she said that if he showed her the phone, she would get him a chocolate. Susan won out. I think he planned it that way, or at least planned for the possibility. He handed her the phone. The first picture Susan saw was an open box of chocolates, but the box of chocolates held a secret. One chocolate was missing, and in it’s place, was a ring. Susan jumped up and ran to the kitchen where the box of chocolates was and opened it up. She stared at the ring, then turned around to find Josh right behind her on one knee. He asked her to marry him and, of course, she said yes. It was such a simple way to propose, but it was as romantic as it could possibly be. Susan knew that she was getting quite a romantic man to be her husband, and that life was going to be beautiful. Later, she found out that Josh had gone to her parents house and asked her dad for his daughter’s hand in marriage. It was there that the plan was devised…the chocolates, the ring, the picture, and the plan. He had thought about having her daughter, Jala bring her the ring, but then, he decided against that. While that way would have been very sweet…I think his way was more romantic.
They knew they would need a bigger house, so they bought one in October of that year, and were married in June. Josh wanted to make sure that Jala knew that he wasn’t just marrying her mom, but that he was choosing her to be his daughter too. They had a special part of the wedding ceremony for 3 year old Jala so that it showed everyone of his intentions toward both his new wife and his new daughter. Josh makes sure that they include Jala in everything, and in 2008, Josh and Susan gave, then 6 year Jala, a little sister named Kaytlyn. For Josh, both are his daughters. It’s just the way he is. Josh is a hard working man, usually working from 6am to 11pm, but usually making it in for dinner every night. When he worked on the oil rigs, the men called him Superman, and his crews broke many records during the time he worked there. For his family though, he brings on the hilarious. He chooses to make them laugh every day, and to keep life in their home happy, so he is always right there with a crazy comeback…and life is filled with laughter. Susan tells me that she could go on for hours about her wonderful man…do you think she likes him a little bit? I do. Today is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you too!!