My sister, Caryl Reed’s life has changed quite a bit over the last year, as she went from being a full-time respiratory therapist, to being a retired woman, who helps manage the rental business she and her husband, Mike have. Retirement looks good on Caryl. She is relaxed and enjoying the freedom her retirement has brought her. She has more time to spend with her grandchildren, Jaydn and Topher, and to plan the work that is coming up on their retirement ranch outside of Casper. The work on the ranch will be much easier when they don’t have to work things around her schedule, which included weekends, while Mike’s job doesn’t. Mike will be retiring in about five years and then they can move to Casper permanently…which is something we will all be happy about.
As a young girl and into her adulthood, Caryl has loved horses, even taking riding lessons as a way to get her “Horse Fix” on. Having the ranch has given them the ability to have horses around them all the time. They board horses for people who do not have a place to keep their horses. They are always working on ways to improve the places for the horses to run, sleep, and be ridden. Their ranch is going to be great when they get the house built. Right now they have a garage, with an apartment on top, and a trophy room below for Mike’s hunting trophies. Caryl and Mike are designing their new home with all the characteristics they like best.
All this is a far cry from the little girl Caryl was. Her ticklish, giggling ways always made her the prime target for the “Tickle Torture” attacks that we, her sister very much loved to inflict upon her. I suppose there are people who might think we were mean to torture Caryl in such a way, but if you were ever a part of something like that, you would know that to attack someone as ticklish as Caryl is…well, it’s totally irresistible. In fact, having her back in Casper might be a really good thing for her torturers. Time will tell, I guess. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you…really, we do!!
My niece, Machelle Moore is a sweet, sometimes quiet girl who spends her life surrounded by boys. She is married to the oldest boy, Steve Moore, and together, they have sons Weston and Easton. For someone who only had sisters, and I can relate, because I was the same way, being a part of a family of men is…a culture shock. Moms of boys who came from a house full of girls should maybe belong to a big club of other girls just like them. Boys are…different from girls in every possible way, and they don’t care if what they are doing is polite or not. It’s a guy thing, and their mom will just have to deal with it, because those boys will never change. In reality, I think it is the moms/grandmas who went from an all girl family to an all boy family, who do all the changing. Once the initial shock wears off, you realize that while this little man can be…embarrassing at times, he can also be a great joy, and after a while, it just doesn’t phase you anymore. They do something you find embarrassing, and you just roll your eyes, because that is just how boys are, and nothing you do is going to change them one bit.
It’s a good thing that Machelle loves the outdoors, because with three boys in the house, there will be things like camping, and in the case of her husband, Steve, rock hunting. That is always fun in my opinion, but then I grew up hearing all about going rock hunting, and have collected plenty of them in my day. Not all girls like that sort of thing though. Of course, when your man turns them into beautiful things, like Machelle’s husband does, it’s hard not to get enthusiastic about the rocks you find. They take the boys camping too, and I’m sure that when they were little, they brought home the usual menagerie of frogs, toads, snakes, and bugs that every mom of boys finds herself oohing and aahing over while trying not to eeewww too much, because lets face it, those little boys would know an eeewww over an aah in a minute, but then most of them know that you don’t much like snakes, bugs. or frogs.
Being the only girl in a house full of boys is interesting…to say the least, as with a house full of girls, it is also very rewarding too. Your kids are always a blessing, and while they can be gross and embarrassing at times, they make up for it completely every time they give you a big kiss or a hug. That sort of thing just melts your heart, and those boys know just how to make their mom feel loved and special. That’s because moms are big softies when it comes to their kids, and Machelle is no different. We love our kids…boys or girls, and they know just hoe to wiggle their way into our hearts. Today is Machelle’s birthday. I’m sure her house full of boys will make it very special. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Sean Mortensen is a mechanic for Anadarko, by trade. Since I have been married to a mechanic for 42 years, I can tell you that they work very hard. Being a mechanic, of any kind, is a hard job, and from what I’ve seen, the mechanic is usually the only person taking care of the vehicle or equipment. The operator, on the other hand, is usually pretty hard on the vehicle or equipment…after all, it isn’t theirs, so what difference does it make…right. That’s what the mechanic deals with every day. By the time they get home, they often feel exhausted.
That’s where Sean differs from a lot of other mechanics…at least on the weekends. You see, Sean’s motto is work hard…play hard. When the weekend rolls around, it’s time to cut loose, and party at the lake with friends. Sean, and my niece, Amanda have lots of great friends, all of whom enjoy the lake and summer fun. And when you think about it, why do we work anyway? It isn’t because we all love working, it’s because we want to be able go out and do the things we like to do in life…like play at the lake. Of course, the lake is only Sean and Amanda’s summer playground. In the winter, they are out on the snowmobiles, getting as deep as they can in a snowdrift. The colder weather doesn’t slow down their fun on bit. Many people tend to hibernate in the winter, longing for the summer months, but not Sean and Amanda. They just change playgrounds, and the fun continues.
I suppose it sounds like all Sean and Amanda do is party, and that might be something they really enjoy, but they are also very responsible people. They work, own their own home, and they have raised a beautiful 13 year old daughter. Adulting is a fact of life they take very seriously too. People depend on them and the fact that they will do their jobs. If no one worked, how would anything ever be accomplished. There are people who don’t want to be a part of a working community, but would rather that the government take care of them, and I am proud to say that Sean and Amanda are not a part of the “hand out” community. The things they have, they have earned. There is a certain amount a pride that can be taken away from that. They work hard, and they play hard, because they have earned it. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For most graduated college students, the next step is to look for a job in your field, and my niece, Kayla Stevens is no different. Since her graduation Kayla has sent résumés to several places in Casper, and in Sheridan, where she is from. It didn’t take very long for a therapy clinic in Sheridan to grab her up. When you have the grades she did, you become the pick of the litter of graduates. Things are happening pretty fast now. Kayla starts her new job in just ten days, and so she is working on finding a house for them to live in. I am not sure when her husband, Garrett, my nephew will be joining Kayla in Sheridan, but since she starts her job on June 19th, she will be in Sheridan before we have hardly had a chance to blink. I know how hard this will be for my sister, Alena Stevens, and her husband Mike, but of course, Kayla’s family has been missing her since she came to Casper for college. Kayla and Garrett decided that she would apply in both cities, and go where God led them, so I know that this move and this job will be a great blessing for both of them.
Kayla has such a caring heart, and the patients whose lives she will impact are among the most blessed people around. She loves working with children, so I hope that she will be able to have some kids in that group too, because they would be very blessed to have her helping them with whatever they need. I don’t know what Kayla’s job will entail, but I know that with her abilities, she will be very successful at it, and I look forward to hearing more about it as time goes by. Of course, with social work, as with any medical profession, privacy is the word of the day, so mostly we will hear about the general day to day work, and not about specific patients.
Sheridan is a beautiful town, and since Kayla and Garrett love to camp, they will really enjoy the easy access to the Big Horn Mountains, and all the other outdoor activities Sheridan has to offer. The future will be a very exciting one for them as they settle in to their new jobs, and I’m sure someday soon, start a family. I know that my sister, Alena and her family will also have a lot of visits to Sheridan in their future. Kayla and Garrett will come to visit too, but we will all miss them very much anyway. Today is Kayla’s birthday. Happy birthday Kayla!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For my nephew, Eric Parmely, married life has mostly been about being outnumbered by girls…at least since he and his wife, Ashley started having children. Don’t get me wrong here…Eric wanted girls. He came from a family with three boys, and he was the youngest. He had always wanted to have a daughter, and really never expected to have one. Let’s face it, in a family of all boys, having a girl is highly unlikely. Nevertheless, Eric and Ashley beat the odds and had not only one daughter, Reagan, but were blessed with a second daughter, Hattie.
Eric and Ashley had purchased a house in the country, next door to her parents. They wanted the country life, and with her parents horses, they knew that they would be able to give their children the kind of life they wanted for them. Living in the country and having animals, is something they are all interested in. The girls don’t care that farming and caring for animals is a “dirty” job, because they love their animals. They get right out there and help their Daddy and Mommy with whatever they are doing on the farm.
Eric’s life is full and happy, but now…if it is possible, his life is going to get even more full. They are now expecting a little boy to join their family in the near future. While Eric and now his little boy will still be outnumbered by the girls in the family, they can at least say that they have each other when outnumbering becomes an issue. Although, when in coms to getting into the bathroom when teenaged girls are in there…all bets are off. It’s going to be fun to watch the transition from all girls to a boy in the family, and I know that they many stages that are to come will be lots of fun for both Eric and Ashley. And after all, it’s all about building a life. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Recently, I heard a saying that has really made me think. “We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.” The thing about that thought that struck me the most, was when I considered moments otherwise gone…forever. I have always loved photography. From the time I was a little girl and received my first camera, I was hooked. There were years I wasn’t so good about taking pictures, and mistakes I made, such as not including people in my photos enough, not writing down the names of people and the locations, and the biggest one in my mind, not being in the pictures enough. So many people these day take selfies, and then there are the selfies that are ridiculed because “the person takes too many selfies.” I suppose that can be an issue, but when you think about it, they will always have that moment, and if that selfie made them look and feel especially pretty or handsome, so much the better. It is a moment, frozen in time…a memory that will always be with them.
When I look back at the funerals of my parents and my father-in-law, and the slide shows we did for them, I found myself amazed that I was having trouble locating pictures of me with them…particularly with my dad. It was a strange thing for me to realize that, until I thought about how much time I spent behind the camera and not in front of it. Since that time, I have made sure to take those pictures of my mom and me, my father-in-law, and me, and my mother-in-law and me, because I want to have those return tickets to those precious moments of the past. It’s not just about the slide show either, although that is a permanent memory of their lives, but it’s about the time spent with them. In his last two years, my dad and I spent many hours together, while I was one of his caregivers. I got to enjoy his wonderful sense of humor, as we teased each other every day. In my memory files, I can see him pretending to be asleep when I came in. Then, I would softly flick his hand, and he would accuse me of hitting him, saying, “Oh!! You struck me!” Then we would both laugh about it, because we knew that in a million years, that would never have happened. We pretended to argue, as I dressed his wounds, and helped him get dressed. Then I would step out while he finished the process, and he would come out into the living room. Whenever I am in their house, I can see those moments as vividly as if they were still there. Still, there are many moments that aren’t quite as clear, and a picture would tell the story so well. And now that it is too late to take them, I really wish I had some of those moments in pictures.
There are countless people who tell me how much they hate having their picture taken. I find that really sad, because it isn’t about them. They are denying others the right to have a return ticket to those precious moments. So few people think about it that way…until the day when they really wish they had a picture of them with someone special. That’s when it finally hits them. Pictures aren’t just something silly to post of Facebook. They are memories. They are return tickets to a moment otherwise gone. I think I’ve improved on those return tickets quite a bit, and for that, I am happy.
My sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I were group texting yesterday, as we often do. It gives us the chance to be together, without needing to be in the same room. We love those conversations, because we can laugh with, and at, each other, in good fun, of course. It also gives us a chance to share ideas on everything from our faith to politics, and be thankful that we all agree on both. We keep each other informed if we are traveling, just like we did our parents, when they were here on Earth. Those texts are part of what keeps us close. We all work and Caryl lives in Rawlins, while the rest of us are in Casper, so our lives are busy, and we can’t always get together on a regular basis. Texting, especially has become a great way for us to connect, and we all love it, because we love each other very much and always will.
Our family has always been a close one, and our parents, Allen and Collene Spencer instilled values in us about faith, right and wrong, and family. They are values that we will never allow to fade from our lives. Mom has been in Heaven now for almost two years, and Dad for almost nine years, and yet we can still hear their voices in our heads guiding us in love. They taught us to laugh, and not to be upset when we were the one being laughed at, because it’s better to laugh with those who are laughing at you, than to get upset about it. And in the end, you usually have to agree that it was pretty funny anyway. We were taught that laughing at yourself is a good thing, and while we may not always have practiced that, we have learned that it is a true statement. Sometimes the worst thing we can do is to take ourselves too seriously. Laughing at ourselves helps us to remember to put humor in our lives too.
Around the holidays, however, our conversations often turn to our parents, and how much we miss them. Such was the case with our conversation yesterday. My sister, Alena saw an old friend of our parents, and wanted to tell Mom that she had seen him…then reality set in. I mentioned a story I had written about a piece of family history I had found, and how I couldn’t wait to tell Mom…then reality set in. My sister, Cheryl had received a catalog, and saw a glittery top that Mom would have loved, and thought it would make a great Christmas present for Mom…then reality set in. My sister, Allyn has taken Mom Christmas shopping for a number of years, and the thought came to her that she should ask when Mom wanted to go…then reality set in. The conversation continued with each of us mentioning times that we instinctively thought of calling Mom and Dad, asking them something, taking them somewhere, or just how much they would love something, only to have reality set in again. All we have now are the sweetest memories of the greatest parents on Earth. We can see them in all the places they were…the house, church, our homes, the drives they loved to take, the front porch where they loved to sit and enjoy the day, camping in the Black Hills, and picnics on Casper Mountain…all the places they loved. All the places where their echo still exists and their memory still lingers. Reality always sets in, and we know they are gone, but they will always live on in our hearts and minds, and they are in our future now, not our past.
When 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 the 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 adult 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.
It’s inevitable…the end of summer, turns into the first day of school. All the kids are torn between being bored from too much free time, and the dread of getting back into the grind of studying and homework. This year finds my family with just one public school student left. Our grandson, Josh Petersen is a senior in high school this year, so this is our last year with the public school system…until the great grandbabies start coming anyway. I am finding that hard to believe.
Of course, once the kids get going, most of them enjoy school. Believe it or not, humans tend to want to be productive and for kids that does mean school. By the end of the year, they are ready for summer break, but by summer’s end, they are ready to get back into the swing of things again. They miss the organized sports, friends they don’t see except at school, getting out of the house or daycare, and in reality, most of them actually enjoy learning. I don’t think any of us really want to go through life with no mental stimulation, and that is exactly what school does for the kids, whether they particularly like it or not.
Then, of course, most kids usually get a few new articles of clothing to start out the new school year. For some, it is a matter of necessity, because of course, they have grown so much since last year, and for others, it is a necessity, because after all, you have to have at least one new outfit to start the year…right? And those new clothes and school supplies tend to take the sting of summer’s end out of the picture, a little bit anyway. I always thought it was fun to have new school supplies, even if the newness wore off pretty quickly.
And so, as the kids come home after school, they are filled with stories of their day to pass on to their parents, and even a little bit of excitement just to be back…until they start to think about the homework they have to get done before school tomorrow. And then, there is the lack of outdoor playtime, because they have to get ready for the next day. That might be a bit of a let down, but that is what getting back into the swing of things is all about.
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!!