middle school

My grandniece, Kaytlyn Griffith has shocked me with how much she has changed this year. I saw a picture of her with her family, and she is almost as tall as her older sister, Jala Satterwhite. What??? When did that happen? When I think of Kaytlyn, an 8-year-old girl comes to mind, but that was six years ago, so I need to catch up. The funny thing about kids is that for some reason, when they move from elementary school to middle school, suddenly this older kid emerges where a child once was, it seems.

Much has changed for Kaytlyn and her family with year, because her older sister moved out after graduation, leaving Kaytlyn the only child at home. That has been a strange change for the whole family. While Jala has her own place now, she and Kaytlyn have actually gotten a little closer now. Their mom, Susan Griffith told me that they even hug now, and that was totally tabu before, and they never hugged before. Even going camping is very different these days. It has usually been Kaytlyn’s mom and dad, Josh and Susan, and her sister, Jala, but this past year was just Kaytlyn and her parents. Jala was working, and in general, doing her own thing. One thing about being the only child at home, is that you get your choice of bedrooms, and so often the oldest child has had the “best” bedroom, but now, Kaytlyn has decided that Jala’s room was fair game, so she moved in there, and is feeling very privileged to have the best.

Kaytlyn is more than just a good student. She is an Honor Roll student. She loves school and has worked very hard at the goal of carrying a 4.0 GPA. She is extremely close to that goal now. She loves math and getting 100% on a math test is pretty common for this smart girl!! Kaytlyn was also a Covid middle schooler, in that she started middle school (6th grade) in the fall of 2019. Of course, we all know what happened next. The first few months were ok, but by Spring Break, Covid-19 had changed everything about school as we all knew it. The whole middle school experience was different than any of us ever could have imagined for that class. Kaytlyn went to one dance in 6th grade before all this started, and then her class didn’t have another dance until a few weeks ago. So, since 2019, she has only gone to two dances. It is sad, because Kaytlyn and her class have missed out on so much.

One consolation…for Kaytlyn anyway, is that because her family lives far enough out in the country, she can qualify for a “Hardship License.” For those who don’t know, that is for certain people who live far enough in the country that it puts a hard ship on their parents, so the state will let them start driving a year before the other kids. While middle school was sort of a “bust,” Kaytlyn will be starting high school in the Fall…and she will be driving. We can only hope that she has a better experience with high school than she did with middle school. Kaytlyn has worked so hard, and she deserves a great year. Today is Kaytlyn’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Kaytlyn!! Have a great day!! we love you!!

My grand niece, Kaytlyn Griffith has reached a milestone in her life today. She is officially a teenager, turning 13 today. I find it very hard to believe that she could possibly be 13 already. It seems like just yesterday that Kaytlyn made her entrance into the world. Now, unbelievably, she is in her second year of Middle School already. School, now there’s a concept. We all thought we knew what school was like, but Covid-19 has completely blown our idea of school out of the water. Middle School is usually a time of learning more than just the educational studies. The students get to start having school dances, sports (which they also have in elementary school too), school politics, clubs, and other such activities. Unfortunately, with Covid, they haven’t had any dances and have to go straight to class when getting to school, instead of socializing for a while. It’s a whole new world, and the school kids are some of the worst hit by it.

The 2020 school year was the strangest one we have had since the 1918 Spanish Flue Pandemic. Things were normal, until Spring Break, and then it all stopped. School was over for the rest of the year. The Covid restrictions kept everyone at home, unless their jobs were deemed essential. Students had to adjust to online learning over Zoom or Google Classroom. Even screen time with their teachers was limited…often to 30 minutes a day. Parents became homeschool teachers, when they were not prepared for such an occupation. Kids became depressed and disinterested. The school year was a disaster, by anyone’s standards. Kaytlyn loves school, and this new educational reality was not a reality she wanted to be a part of. In fact, I don’t know of a single student that did want to be a part of it, or the current situation that is just a continuation of the new educational reality…school with a mask.

One good thing that came out of being home for the last part of the 2020 school year was that Kaytlyn’s family got a new animal friend…Olive. Olive is a mixed breed of Pit Bull, German Shepard, and Lab, and she is Kaytlyn’s best friend…well, animal friend, anyway. It was nice having Kaytlyn home with Olive, when she first came to live with them, to help with training her to go outside and not to chew stuff up. Kaytlyn and Olive’s birthdays are also very close. My Olive was born on March 4th, so Olive is 1 and Kaytlyn is 13. Susan finds herself feeling rather sad, because her children are officially no longer little kids. I know what she means. You are never ready for adult kids…or grandkids, but they don’t care. Kids just keep growing up.

Kaytlyn is really enjoying being back in school this year and working very hard on her grades. I’m not sure if we will ever really know how badly this online learning experiment hurt our kids…especially since “No Child Left Behind” doesn’t allow kids to be held back. They just get further and further behind. Thankfully, Kaytlyn is the exception to that rule too. This year with her hard work, Kaytlyn is carrying a 3.5 GPA, putting her on the Honor Roll!! Her parents are so proud of her, and so am I. Today is Kaytlyn’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Kaytlyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The other day, I saw on her Facebook, where my grand nephew, Ethan Hadlock’s mom, Chelsea Hadlock had registered him for middle school for the fall semester. Chelsea mentioned that she suddenly felt old, and I found myself shocked that Ethan could be so grown up…already!! My sister and Ethan’s grandmother, Allyn Hadlock told me, “It seems like just yesterday that he was 2 and I was chasing him around our house. He loved the chasing game and I would catch him and give him little love pat spankins.” None of us can believe that he is almost in middle school now. The time has flown by so fast. While Ethan is growing up fast, he is not outgrowing everything he likes to do. He still loves games, but now it’s board games, “I Spy” games, video games, and sports. Typical of kids his age.

Ethan loves to get together with the whole family. He is a very social kid, and the family had a great time at Christmas and New Year’s. They hung out and enjoying each other’s company. They played bingo, letting Ethan and his sister, Aurora Hadlock take turns being the bingo callers. They loved rolling the cage around and getting the numbers out. Ethan is very kind and empathetic, and he truly cares about people. He wants to make sure that family and friends around him are comfortable and feel loved. He really is the sweetest boy, and it is something our whole family knows. Ethan’s dad, Ryan Hadlock is a playful teaser from way back, and Ethan has proven to be a quick study in that art. He has already started giving all of the family a hard time whenever he gets a chance.

Ethan and his cousin, Adelaide Sawdon have formed a special bond and can often be found “securing the perimeter” anytime they are together. Apparently, they both have an interest in spy games. They take their toys guns (whether an actual toy gun or a stick they have fashioned into one) and walk around the area we are in to ensure no spies, enemies, or unwanted guests can get in. He takes care to be patient and kind when explaining the rules of the game to his younger cousins, so they have a chance to play with their older and “adored” Ethan. He is so fun loving and the best nephew in our family…never mind that he is the only nephew!! His sweetness would still make his the best one.

With each birthday, the birthday boy or girl gets to choose where the family goes for dinner, and Ethan didn’t hesitate to choose Buffalo Wild Wings for his dinner tonight, so the family will all gather there to eat wings and celebrate their little boy, who isn’t so little anymore. Ethan is now almost 5 feet tall. It looks like Ethan will take after his dad and grandpa, Chris Hadlock, both of whom are very tall. Ethan has so much going for him. He is such a good kid…both kind and tender hearted. He is the kind of kid you like to have around. Today is Ethan’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, Matt Masterson has grown from being a multi-faceted little boy, who loved to pick on his sisters, Raelynn and Anna, but would also fiercely defend them, if anyone else picked on them. He loves his family and is very loyal to them. When his parents are working and the children are home alone, he is their protector, whether protection is needed or not. It just a part of the man in him. Raelynn is the older child, still at home. She is 16, while their half-sister, Christina is 23, and living on her own in Colorado, and younger sister, Anna is 12. In reality, they probably don’t need his protection, but they are grateful for Matt’s protective ways. He is also very protective of his mom, and takes on the “man of the house” role whenever his dad has to be out of town, or at work.

Matt is going into 8th grade this year, meaning he is in the last year of middle school. High school awaits him in just one year, but already I can see the high school student coming out in him already. It always seems to me that the last year of school levels, like elementary, middle, and high school, have the student oddly out of place among the younger students, but they would be out of place in the upper level too, I suppose. It’s all just a part of the transition from child to young adult, but I think Matt will make the transition with his usual ease.

Matt is an easy going sort of a guy, and there isn’t too much that bothers him. He like online gaming, like most kids his age. He likes hanging out with his cousins, and is good friends with his cousin Zack Spethman. Matt and Zack have been friends for their entire lives. The only thing that has changed is their size. Like most kids, they are not looking forward to summer’s end, even if school isn’t a bad thing. The boys like walking places like Cold Stone for get an ice cream treat. I can’t say as I blame them. That’s what summer’s all about, hot days and cold treats. Nevertheless, all too soon, summer will give way to Matt’s last year of middle school. I know it’s going to be a great year. Today is Matt’s birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For my grandnephew, Xander Spethman, there is a specific tradition that goes along with his birthday every year. He gathers his friends together for a party. Now, I know that you are thinking, “What’s different about that?” Well, the difference is that they build a fire in his parents fire pit, and the boys burn their schoolwork from the year. Having a birthday so close to the end of the school year, it works out really well to have a school work burning party. This year will be slightly different, in that he will be burning the last year of his middle school career. As a boy, I don’t suppose that fact stirs up the emotions, like it does for his mom, but maybe it brings a bit of sadness that a certain time in his life has come to a close. Nevertheless, this has been a year of lasts. He has played his last middle school football game, and his last middle school basketball game. There will be a last time in the old school, and the last time (for awhile anyway) that he will be in school with his brother, Zack.

Of course, Xander is still very close with his family. He and his dad, Steve are best friends, and he is always so sweet to his mom, Jenny. He and his brothers, Zack and Isaac are also good friends, and his little sister, Aleesia is his little princess. His parents and siblings come to any and all his activities possible. It is a family tradition. Always be supportive of each other. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he and his brothers don’t fight, or that his sister never gets on his nerves, but Xander takes being the oldest very seriously. He works hard to be a leader and a good role model. And he does a good job of it too. His younger siblings look up to their brother and view him with a sense of pride. He shows them the right way to do things. Kids look up to their older siblings, and it is very important to make sure they are getting the right message from their older sibling, or they can end up in a lot of trouble down the road.

While this year is a year of lasts for Xander, it is also a year of firsts. This will be Xander’s first year of high school, Its a major change in a student’s life. Before long graduation will be right around the corner. This year has found Xander with a girlfriend, and to my knowledge, that is his first. He has signed up for ROTC, and I know he will do well with that, specially in the area of shooting accuracy, since Xander has been trained to be a great shot by his parents. Probably the biggest new thing in Xander’s life, however, will e the fact that since he is now 15 years old, he will be getting his driver’s permit, so he can learn to drive. of course, his parents are excited to him to learn to drive, but they will also need to realize that they will most likely be relegated to the passenger side of the car…at least when Xander is in the car, because as we all know, 15 year olds need to drive!! There are a lot of changes coming his way, and we are so excited to see where life takes him next. Today is Xander’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Zack Spethman is a great kid, but he is quickly growing up and is hardly a kid anymore. Today he became a teenager, and is just about to finish his first year of middle school. That put him back at the same school and his brother and good friend, Xander. The share many activities, likes and dislikes, and their similar personalities. Football is the sport above all sports for them. They love to watch and play. It is a family tradition. The three Spethman brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac rising up through the ranks of school football. It keeps their parents busy with all the games.

Of course, football isn’t everything in their lives. Zack loves to climb mountains, play pool, and shoot guns…everything from air guns, to paintball guns, to real guns. He is a good shot and goes to practice with his family often, but he also knows about gun safety, and has passed the hunter safety course, so he can go hunting. Still, while hunting is a great adventure, the boys love combat competitions. They love to strategize the ways to dominate and “take out” the other team. Zack and Xander tend to pool their strategic resources to obtain the victory.

Zack’s dad, Steve Spethman decided to remodel the family kitchen earlier this year, and the boys got to learn about construction by helping their dad do the work. They were very attentive and meticulous about the work, and they learned a lot about the construction business. Their dad is a great carpenter, and a great teacher, so they learned from the best. They often work with their dad, and he is teaching them the value of hard work. Their parents have also taught the kids to be responsible for each other and for their little sister, and this is a job Zack takes seriously. He can often be seen encouraging his siblings and assisting his little sister, Aleesia. They are all very close.

Zack is such a sweet, kind young man, and we are all proud of him. He is loyal and loving to his family, and helpful to all in need. He is always there to give a hug or a word of encouragement. He is a good student, and is responsible. When he says he will be somewhere, he is. That was never more clear that when he was given an award for the best attendance in football last year. With his winning attitude and awesome personality, I know Zach will go far. He is a blessing to those who know him. Today is Zack’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimage My grand niece, Jala is turning 14 years old today, and very soon will begin her final year of middle school. This summer has been a new experience for Jala and her little sister, Kaytlyn. In previous years, their mom, my niece Susan has worked outside the home, so the girls had to be up and heading to daycare by 7:00am. Now that their mom works from home, the girls have been able to sleep in, and then have lazy days around home…something most kids would love to do, but few get to. Of course, with school starting on August 24th, they are getting up early again to get back into the swing of things.

For Jala, the year of sports begins August 22nd with Volleyball practice, so the year is starting out with a busy schedule already. Jala is very athletic, and loves a variety of sports. Last year she participated in Volleyball, Swimming and Diving, Basketball, and Track. I think every parent loves watching their kids in sports, but some things hold a special place in your heart. That’s how it is for Susan with Jala’s diving. Susan loves watching Jala dive. Joann Knox on her colt MollyDiving is such a graceful sport, so I think a lot of people can relate to Susan’s love of Jala’s diving. It is Susan’s hope that Jala will continue to love sports, so she will continue on with them in high school next year.

This summer found Jala, her sister Kaytlyn, and cousins, Weston and Easton traveling to Bear Lake, Idaho in their Great Aunt Pam and Great Uncle Ralph’s new motor home. The kids were very excited about the trip, and about the Cook Family Reunion they were attending. The kids got to stay in the motor home that first night, then they were joined the next day by their grandparents, Debbie and Lynn Cook, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. They rented a little cabin for the rest of the weekend. It had been twelve years since Jala had gone to a reunion, and at two, she didn’t remember the last one at all. Jala got to know lots of cousins and other family members this trip. It almost like having a whole new set of forever friends.

This weekend, Jala got to go with her other grandparents to the Tensleep Music Festival as a birthday present. It was to be a weekend full of concerts, what more could a teenager ask for. Susan is pretty sure that Jala is having a fantastic time, because she has not heard from her once. I guess there is too much going on to have time to call home. That’s the way to know that she was having fun, but it can leave a mom feeling a bit lonely.

Living in the country, on a place with horses, allows Jala the chance to ride once in a while. She loves it. She
imageimageand her Papa Griffith like to ride together, but it hasn’t been often enough to suit Jala. Once the horse gets used to her more, they will allow her to ride alone too, and that will give her lots more time on the horse. Being a horse woman could be in Jala’s blood, since her great grandma, Joann Schulenberg, absolutely loved horses, and spent many hours riding them as a girl. Today is Jala’s birthday. Happy birthday Jala!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageKids grow up so fast. It seems like yesterday that our family welcomed my grand nephew, Easton Moore. In reality, that was twelve years ago today. Easton is in his first year of middle school this year, and he is having a great time. Kids do so much changing in that first year of middle school. It always seems like they literally go from being a little kid to a young adult…overnight. Easton is still too young to participate in sports, because the kids have to be in 7th grade for that, and he is in 6th grade, but that hasn’t stopped Easton from practicing his moves. Easton spends a lot of his spare time playing football, swimming, track, and basketball. He wants to make sure that he knows a lot about every sport…keeping his options open, don’t you know. As with most middle school kids, Easton really loves having his locker. It’s such a grown up thing for kids to have a locker that they can have their own things in, and it’s all safe, because it locks. Add to that, the newness of going from class to class, rather than staying in one room all day, and you have a whole new experience.

Like his dad, Easton is very much an outdoors kind of guy. Whenever the family goes camping, his dad, Steve Moore, brings his guns and works with Ethan and his older brother, Weston, teaching them how to shoot, as well as gun safety. Easton has become an excellent shot. Last week, Easton’s parents took him to Cody, Wyoming from their home in Powell. They had had found a good deal on a 22 long rifle, and the told Easton that it was to be his birthday present. As you can imagine, and see from this picture, it was as if they had handed him the moon. I seriously doubt if he could sit still the whole drive over to Cody. Getting your first gun is so cool. All you can think of is the next time you can go out shooting. He will have and even better time now, when they go camping and shooting, because he will be shooting his own gun. Of course, that makes you a better shot too, because you learn how the gun is going to react.

Easton is still into Legos too. That has amazed me over the years. Not that Easton is still into them, but rather what Legos have become. Whoever thought up Lego Robotics, had a really good idea. Many a child had learned from that. Like most kids his age, Easton also likes video games. His favorites are Legos and Mindcraft on Xbox. The family got a new Xbox Live for Christmas, so he can really expand his building abilities.

Easton is a good helper around the house too. Many kids whine and cry about having to clean, but he and the rest of his family have taken a pitch in and get it done attitude, so the cleaning gets done really quickly, leaving imageimagemore time to play. He is also a snuggler, and believe me, every mom or grandma who has one of those, is very blessed. Lots of kids, especially boys get over that pretty quickly, and when they are done, it’s a lonely sad feeling for their mom or grandma. Easton’s mom, my niece, Machelle Cook Moore, takes all the snuggles she can get, while she can get them. She knows that all too soon, he will be too “old” for snuggles. For now though, he’s still her snuggly boy. Today is Easton’s birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! Enjoy that new rifle, sharp shooter. Have a great day!! We love you!!

Jaydn 9 years oldWhen you’re a kid…especially one who loves to ride horses, it seems to be inevitable that you will get bucked off and have a broken bone or two in your lifetime, but to break both arms at the same time, right before the beginning of summer break is…well, it really stinks. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened to my grand niece, Jaydn Mortensen. Jaydn loves horseback riding. She has been riding for quite a while now, and recently she has started barrel racing and showing her horses. She is developing into quite an equestrian. It is a skill that comes from a complete and total love of all things…horse. And that definitely describes Jaydn to a tee.

The summer has been a bit of a disappointment for Jaydn, because she fell off of her horse, and in the process, broke both arms. Now, I have never broken a bone, so I can’t say that I understand just how Jaydn feels, but I will tell you this…breaking both arms would pretty much render a person virtually helpless…especially if the cast has to go above and below the elbow. When that happens, the person can’t even do the basic personal care tasks. For an eleven year old girl that would be horrendous. The things you would have to depend on your parents to do, would make you feel like a total baby. I’m not sure how far up her arms Jaydn’s casts went, but in all reality, it is a tough thing to have both arms in a cast…very limiting for sure, and not a fun way to spend half of your summer.

Jaydn loves going to the lake with her parents, four wheeling, and playing in the water, fishing, or anything else he dad is doing. She loves helping him work on cars, four wheelers, or anything he happens to be working on. I’m sure that many of these things were limited too, with two broken arms. It really can be the pits to just have to sit and watch the summer go by. Oh I suppose she could go for walks, and that is something that would interest me, but I’m not sure Jaydn would be very impressed. She would probably think it was boring.
Sean, Jayden, & Amanda
Nevertheless, broken arms can’t last forever, and most casts come off after six weeks, leaving her some of the summer to do what she loves. Still, I expect that having casts on made the summer seem short. While she is looking forward to middle school, I’m not sure she will be ready for it to get here so quickly after getting her casts off. The main thing is that they will be off when school starts, because, lets face it, starting middle school with both arms in a cast would be horrible. So, Jaydn…here’s to a better year, and next time you decide to fall off of your horse, try to land on your feet…because two broken legs is a little easier to deal with…most of the time. Today is Jaydn’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Jaydn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

10577090_10201759940595371_7718936407580100831_nWhen I think of my grand niece, Kaytlyn Griffith, I imagine a little girl of about three years of age. Of course, that is ridiculous, because she was born in 2008, not 2012. Kaytlyn has a beautiful smile, and a curious nature. Kaytlyn is the youngest daughter of my niece, Susan and her husband, Josh, and she went behind my back and grew to be a beautiful seven year old first grader. School might be a bit more lonely this year, because her big sister, Jala is in middle school this year, but I think she will adapt just fine. Of course, I don’t get to see her very much, since she lives in Powell, but her Aunt Machelle has kept me updated a little bit.

Kaytlyn is a goofy girl who loves to make funny faces and say goofy things. She is also very interested in they way people laugh. She finds that quite funny. I can agree with that, since I love to listen to the different ways that people laugh. Sometimes…especially for kids, the different ways people laugh can seem especially funny. And they can laugh about it…unlike adults sometimes…who are worried about offending people.

A while back, Kaytlyn was quite sick, and it was a horrible experience. She spent a few days in the hospital, and if she is like me, she doesn’t ever want to go back. This year, as flu season approached, Kaytlyn became somewhat concerned about catching the flu. I told her Aunt Machelle, that I can totally understand that, given what she went through before.

In reality, Kaytlyn is an all around sweetheart and very good girl. She has a seriously funny sense of humor, and will do just about any goofy thing to make people laugh. I recently saw a video of her, and I don’t know if anyone else was watching her at the time, but I know that I 10269652_10201254514080024_7721606138892767489_nlaughed and laughed. I suppose that most seven year olds are pretty silly…most of the time, and I’m here to tell you that Kaytlyn is no exception to that rule. A goofier girl there never was.

As Kaytlyn continues with her academic career, I know that she will be a good student, because she is as smart as a whip. From what I can see, she loves school, and all the activities that go with it. Last year was especially fun for her, when she got to be a tight rope walker in the Kindergarten Circus. I can tell that she really loved that. But then, Kaytlyn loves doing things that make her look pretty too. Today is Kaytlyn’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Kaytlyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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