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My brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg has been my brother-in-law for so long that he is really more my brother that brother-in-law. Ron was just 6 years old when Bob and I started dating. We used to take him places with us when most people he knew made him feel like he was in the way. He was too little to do much in the way of chores, and he couldn’t really help his dad work on a car. Everybody just kept telling him to, “Go play.” That is a big bummer for a little guy who just wants to be a part of what he sees as “the fun.”

While Ron gets to “play” with the big kids these days, his idea of “fun” hasn’t changed one bit. He still wants to play with the big toys. These days, as a mechanic, Ron can work on anything from a car to heavy equipment. He probably knows more about the equipment he works on that his dad ever did. His dad was an excellent mechanic too, but so much has changed over the years, and mechanics is no different. Computers have changed everything about how we work on things, In fact, some things won’t even tell us what is wrong without a computer. As these technological changes come into play, mechanics have to change with them. The problem for the older mechanics is that they are used to the old ways, or they have retired, and don’t have access to new technology. Then their own car needs work, and the don’t have the technology. Enter the younger guys.

Suddenly, it’s Ron who knows how to work on the new stuff. I suppose he could have told his dad and big brother to “go play,” but that wouldn’t be his style. Maybe because he knew how it felt, or more likely because he understands that there is a time to play with the big boys, and a time to wait your turn. For Ron I’m sure he knew that the time would come when he would be the one with the much needed knowledge. The other men would need to come to him for help. Yes, he could rub it in, but he didn’t. He is the go-to guy, and he is ready to help when he is asked. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday Ron!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Jaydn Mortensen is a sweet girl with a great sense of humor. She loves her parents, Amanda Reed and Sean Mortensen, and they dearly love her. You don’t often see such a good relationship between parents and child, but somehow they have mastered it with Jaydn. They go camping together, boating together, skiing together, and snowmobiling together. And they play together and joke together. Jaydn has grown up doing these things and being the apple of her parents’ eye.

Early on in her life, Jaydn fell in love with horses, and they with her. She learned to ride and to compete. She has won competitions, and she is a great equestrian. With each passing year, she gets better and better. Riding has become something that is ingrained in Jaydn. She will probably always love it, because it is in her blood now…in her DNA. It will most likely always be a part of who she is. It wouldn’t surprise me to she Jaydn live on a ranch in her adult life, because I don’t think she would want to be very far from her precious horses.

While horses are in Jaydn’s blood, they aren’t everything that Jaydn is. Jaydn is well able to ride motorcycles, four wheelers and snowmobiles. It would seem that Jaydn is a multi-talented girl. She not only can ride a multitude of vehicles, but she is good at it. Jaydn’s parents are very active people. They are very social people, and they take her everywhere with them and their friends, allowing her to participate with adults who like to do the same things she does. She has learned from a variety of teachers. I don’t know if they specifically taught her, but she watched them…learned from them. And she had a great time learning. She became a social person and learned that from her parents and their friends, and so Jaydn, who seemed to me a quiet girl, might be somewhat quiet, but she is in no way shy, but just the kind of person you want to be around. Today is Jaydn’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Jaydn!! 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!!

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

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

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

Many people think of Kindergarten as almost a play date. They think of a classroom filled with toys, books, and craft supplies, as well as a playground for recess. Many people think of it as a daycare for working parents, and of course, a place for early childhood development. All these are good things, but this was not the original plan for the creator of Kindergarten, German born Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. He wanted it to be a place that was both ‘a garden for children’, where children meet with environment and also ‘a garden of children’, where they play together and express themselves in a smaller garden world by means of play with their age group. He believed that “children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers.”

I’m sure this sounds odd to most of us, but when you look at his background, I think you will understand why he felt the way he did. Fröbel had an unhappy childhood with a severe step-mother. He was abandoned and treated in a strict fashion as a child. He got to know what happiness was, when he was living with his uncle’s family while studying at high school. He had a huge desire for education, strong Christian faith and love of nature. He studied mineralogy in Jena, Germany and architecture at the Berlin’s Humboldt University. Inborn skills of an educator helped Fröbel to realize the failure of teaching system because of its incompleteness and the failure to include the outside world in the educational process. The first kindergarten was established by Fröbel in Bad Blankenburg in 1837. He renamed his Play and Activity Institute to a ‘kindergarten’ two years later in 1840. That Bad Blankenburg Infant school used play, games, songs, stories, and crafts to encourage children’s imagination and broaden their physical and motor skills. “Kommt, lasst uns unsern Kindern leben” Come, let us live with our children’ turned into the catchphrase of the early childhood education.

Friedrich Fröbel also used studying and nurturing plants in a garden for stimulating children’s interest in the natural world. In reality, we can trace the similarities to the Montessori school system and the Pestalozzian consideration of importance to grow up in harmony with nature. Fröbel paid much attention to preparing for further school education by training the children through the complimentary self expression, creativeness, collective involvement, and motor activity. He considered training of all the vivid faculties: artistic, imaginative, linguistic, arithmetical, musical, aesthetic, scientific, physical, social, moral, cultural, and spiritual, complete growth and harmonious development to be even more important than any kind of knowledge. Fröbel’s kindergarten system flourished globally. Most kindergartens were organized for children of all social classes, ethnic groups and religious believes, Jewish as well as Christian. Fröbel’s vision of kindergarten seems to be so familiar and proper, however it was a fresh and revolutionary look on early childhood education in his time.

scan0038An only child, or a child who doesn’t have a sibling yet, simply cannot understand just how much fun a sibling can be. It isn’t their fault, and it isn’t that they don’t want to play with other kids, it’s just that they don’t have a lot of other kids around on a regular basis. Those kids simply learn to be around adults, or they learn to entertain themselves. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this in any way, just that when there is a sibling in the family, things change.

For two years, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was an only child, but then I came along, and those days were over. I know that she was very excited about having a little sister, even though she did have a cousin, Pam Wendling, who lived just on the other side of the back fence, but I was her first sibling. We used to have lots of fun together, like most siblings do. It’s just something new, and even later on, you always have a friend. Sisters as you know are forever friends.scan0037a

Once, Cheryl had a little sister, life as she knew it changed. As kids, we did a lot of things together. I recall movies, in which Cheryl tried to keep up with me in a crawling race, and apparently, I was too fast for her, because she ended up standing up to try to beat me across the room. That isn’t so odd, when you consider that most of us quit crawling when we learn to walk. That would tend to make us a little bit slower when it came to crawling in a race. Anyway, in crawling races, I won and she lost. I’m sure that when it came to walking races, she had it over me, because after all, I had to crawl, since I hadn’t learned to walk yet.

The biggest problem that Cheryl had, as far as our time together was concerned, was when I was napping and she was awake. Once a child has a sibling, they don’t like waiting for their sibling to wake up when they want to play. That naptime thing can seem endless. They begin to wonder if that kid is ever going to wake up. There is fun to be scan0033had, games to play, and well, just stuff to do, and all that kid wants to do is sleep.

That was where Cheryl found herself on one particular occassion. I was sleeping and apparently she had taken her nap and was now waiting for me to wake up. I guess I was taking too long, because, she started to ask Mom why they couldn’t just wake me up. Well, I don’t know if I was grouchy if they woke me up early, or what, but I guess Mom wasn’t too keen on the idea. Cheryl, on the other hand looks very annoyed that I was sleeping, and Mom would do nothing about it. Sorry Cheryl, if I had only known, I would have woke up just for you, but I simply had no idea, because, I was asleep.

imageI have always loved cats. I like dogs too, but for the most part, I like cats better. I love to watch them play, and love it when they want to cuddle and purr. Maybe it’s because we had some cats when I was very young, but then we had the one dog I can say I truly loved too, King. For the most part, dogs annoy me a little bit, I guess. They are always sniffing and licking you. Cats, on the other hand, might lick you once in a while, if you have something tasty on your hand, but for the most part, they want you to be their slave. You are to pet them, or they will stick their head under your hand so that you are reminded of your job. They are unashamed concerning their plan too. If you have the nerve to leave them alone for longer than they think you should, then you will be subjected to the cold shoulder. How long depends on how quickly you begin to make amends, but know this, they plan to hold out a while.

Most cats feel like their owner is not really their owner, in fact, cats are sure they are the owner. I know that’s Mom & Lewiehow both of my mom’s cats felt about her. Every time we took Mom out of town, they would practically ignore her upon her return. Nevertheless, whenever Mom needed them to be there…they were, whether her little knights in shining armor could do anything to help her or not. They were able to stay right there beside her, with a look of concern, until help arrived. Even though the cats couldn’t do anything for her, her loyal cats stayed by her side, because whether she was the owner or the cat was the owner, her cats loved her very much. I know that dogs have been known to do the same things, but I just found it so sweet that her cats tried so hard to be her super hero.

Maybe that is the reason why I love cats so much. Their cuddly, purring ways, and their need to be with their human, even if it is just to make their human pet them, That may be a bit selfish on the cat’s part, but it is loving too. Cats have, not only the ability crave love, but they are also capable of giving love. The cats my girls had when they were little put up with so much. Our daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, were little and scan0031rough, but the cats never scratched them intentionally, because they loved them. All they wanted was to be near the girls.

That’s how one of our cats was with me, when I was a little girl. I know that I was probably not a perfect human for our cats, but it didn’t matter. The cat wanted to be with me. It didn’t matter what I was doing, the cat adapted. And I’m quite certain that I felt the exact same as the cat did. I’m not sure how often my cat slept in my crib, but my guess is that it was more than once. It was such a sweet gesture. I expect that it happened often, because, my parents thought it was sweet enough to capture on film. And…I am glad they did.

Once In A While 1Once In A While 2When we think of soldiers, most of us picture the fighting machines that these men have been trained to be, and we would not be wrong in most respects, but what we sometimes fail to realize is the fact that a soldier is a person with a deep love of human life. They don’t go to war because they want to be trained killers, but rather they go to war because they want to preserve life, and a way of life. They see that there are people in this world who are being abused, beaten, and starved into submission…or worse yet killed for refusing to submit. There are evil people in this world, who somehow feel that they have the right to control other human lives. They want servants, or they want to sell people, or just own people. Soldiers go to war, because they see these evil actions for the wrong that they are, and they can’t stand by and let it just happen.

So yes, in that respect, our picture of the trained killer is exactly right, but what we so often miss is the human side of the soldier. We miss the man or woman who has left their own children, nieces, or nephews behind to go and fight for children in some other country, so that they might be able to live out their lives in the same safety that the children, nieces, and nephews of the soldier are able to live in back home. The problem is that we don’t often realize what things they do for those children in other nations. We don’t often see the moments of playing with the children. We don’t see the children who come up to the soldiers, because they feel safe around them…even with the possibility of gunfire at any moment. They still feel safer near the soldiers than they do on their own.

And for our soldiers, who are so lonely for their own children, nieces and nephews, it is a nice break from the reality of war, with all its ugliness, even if it is just once in a while, and even if it is just for a few moments. Maybe they can take a few moments and pretend that this child they are playing with is their own child at home. Maybe they can pretend that they are pushing their own child in a swing, on a merry-go-round, or just giving them a simple hug. Perhaps those few moments that they get once in a while, can take them away from Once In A While 3Once In A While 4the worry for their own safety, or the fact that in a little while they will be faced with an enemy, who they will have to kill, or they will be killed. War is a hard place to be, and a life event that no soldier can ever forget, so it is nice, for just a few moments, to be able to spend a little time with a child, to get away from the war and the ugliness that lies within it. Sometimes we, the people back home need to just consider the sacrifice our soldiers make, and be glad that they have a moment of relief, even if it is just once in a while.

My parents on their wedding dayDad and MomSixty two years ago today two very special people said “I do.” Those people were my parents, and this year will be the first anniversary that we will spend without either of them, and the first that they will spend together since 2007. That is such a strange thing for me…to think that the two people who brought me and my sisters into this world, are no longer in it with us. It is a change that I never wanted to have happen, and yet I am happy for them, because they are back together again. You see, my parents were more than husband and wife, they were friends…from the first time they met. It was a match made in Heaven, and while I know that life in Heaven doesn’t involve husbands and wives, it does involve friends. That is what we will all be, so they are very much enjoying their time together. While this feels sad to me, it is for them…joyous.

My mother was taken by my dad the first time she laid eyes on him. She thought he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. And Dad was pretty taken with Mom too. I never heard him call her by her name, but rather always by the name Doll. He always wanted her to know that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen too. They never wanted anything more than just to be together. They did as much together as they could, and I think that the years they each worked were for them the hardest, because they had to be apart for hours on end. Not many people can work with their spouse, but my parents could, and did for a number of years. They enjoyed every moment together.

For them, life took on its own pace, and it was often slower than many people today live their lives…including me. They lived on Byer Time, mostly because the song, “Waitin’ On A Woman” hadn’t been written yet. Nevertheless, my dad was used to waitin’ on a woman, and he never got upset about it. He loved her and he was always patient with her slower pace. I, on the other hand, was seldom as patient…unless Dad told me to be quiet. Mom was the Queen of the Castle, and Dad her Prince Charming. She was always so loved by him. He was always so caring. He was really one of the last of the true gentlemen. There seems to be very little protecting of women from things like foul language, splatter from passing cars…you know, all the things men did in the olden days…before women’s lib came upon us. No, I’m not a fan.

When my parents married, it was for life, and to spend as much time with each other as possible. And theirs was a beautiful marriage, filled with so many blessings. They traveled, worked and played together, and they Mom & Dad Alaskan Cruise (formal)Dad and Momtaught their girls about the kind of marriages we would want to have. While our husbands were different that our dad in some ways, they were like him in many others, because we knew the kind of man we would want our husband to be like…a Prince Charming, like our dad. And we wanted to be the Queen of the Castle…just like our mom. Today marks the day that would have been the 62nd Anniversary for these two wonderful people. Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad!! Hope your day is beyond amazing!! We love and miss you both so very much, but we will see you again very soon.

Caalab Rolles RoyceLittle CaalabEighteen years…not so many really, but in the life of a child, it’s…well, a lifetime…or at least a childhood. And then, that part of their life is over. They have graduated from high school, and begin their journey into the life of their choosing. That is a big step, and often one that their parents and grandparents aren’t really ready to have them take…but they are ready, and they will take that next step. I think that for this grandma, the hardest part of this particular now eighteen year old, is that my grandson, Caalab Royce has moved the furthest away, with no plans to move back here again. Usually when kids go away to college, they come home a lot during the year, but his parents moved to Washington and his school is there, so he won’t be coming here like his cousin, Chris Petersen does.

Thinking back on the years of Caalab’s life, my mind brings so many different moments to mind. Caalab was always my really huggy child, and anyone who knows him knows of his love of long hair. He couldn’t keep his fingers out of my long hair from the time he was just six months old. While I have had many children pull on or play with my hair, no other child was as gentle with it as Caalab was. Even at six months, he never pulled on it. If his play got to the point where it accidently pulled a little, I just told him to be gentle, and he was.

Caalab spent the night with us more than the other kids too. He just liked spending time with his Gma and Papa. Many kids grow out of that pretty early on, but he never did, and now that he lives so far away, those times that he spent the night become treasured memories for me. It didn’t matter what we did while he was there…even just watching television, because what mattered was that we got to spend together. He just liked being with us. Somehow, that never ceased to amaze me. It was a blessing beyond measure.

Caalab has changed in many ways over the years, and yet really, so very little. He is a loving, caring person with a tender heart. He hates to think that he might have hurt someone’s feelings, and will go out of his way to apologize or make amends if he thinks he might have hurt your feelings. It is a very endearing quality to have. It is also a quality that causes him to be one of the kindest people I have ever met. He is fun to be around, and CaalabCaalab with Grandmaloves people. That makes him a very social person, who can be friends with anyone. Nevertheless, Caalab is a family sort of guy. He loves his parents and grandparents, and his sister, Shai considers him her best friend. And I can totally relate to that. He may be my grandson, but Caalab is my friend too, and since I am a family oriented person too, he is one of my very best friends. Today is Caalab’s 18th birthday, and the first one I really haven’t spent with him, and while that makes me sad, I hope this is the best birthday for him ever. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have an awesome day!! We love you!!

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