It makes me sad to think that my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg has been in Heaven now for over 5 years….not sad for him, but for me. He was such a sweet man, and having him for a father-in-law was always a blessing. When I first met my father-in-law, I liked his sense of humor, his willingness to help others, and his love of family. Early on, I probably would have said that my husband was very different that his dad, but as time went on, I realized that he really wasn’t. I discovered that the traits that I love about my husband came to him from his parents, and especially his dad. I think that is more common than we know, and the older each of us gets, the more we notice the traits of our parents. It is very much their legacy, living in their children.
I began taking care of my in-laws in 2007, and my father-in-law was somewhat surprised that I would devote so much time to them, but in reality, they were like second parents to me, and they had given me so much…not just in things, but in the gift of their wonderful son to be my life partner. They showed him how to be the amazing man I married, so how could I possibly not show them how great I knew they were. Life is a cycle. We raise our children with the hope that they will find someone to share their life with, and who will share their family too. My father-in-law was a great dad to his kids, in-laws, and grandkids. I feel very blessed to have known him.
Dad was a great teacher. He taught both of his boys to work on cars, build things, and to be responsible hard working men. His boys, and his girls too, have all become responsible, successful people, who all helped to take care of their parents as the end approached. It was their way of giving back to the wonderful people who raised them. It is sad to know that they have passed on now, and we do miss them very much, but we also know that they are not hurting or suffering in any way now, and that makes the pain of loss easier to bear. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 89th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. Thank you for the gift of your son, Bob, who is the love of my life. You raised him well. We love and miss you very much, and look forward to seeing you again in Heaven.
As kids get older, they start wanting their own money…and I’m talking about more that what an allowance gets them. It seems like the job opportunities follow along certain lines. Boys tend to get jobs mowing laws, or other handyman jobs, but girls tend to get jobs babysitting. I know that this is not always the case…that sometimes girls mow lawns and boys babysit, but the common first jobs are just the opposite of that. For my girls, babysitting was almost expected. I came from a family of sisters with lots of kids in the mix later on, and Bob did too. There always seemed to be aunts or uncles who needed someone to watch their kids while they worked or went out for the evening for a date night.
I think that babysitting trains a girl to be a mom. I can’t say that lawn mowing trains a boy to be a dad, but it is a job that boys seem to be expected to do. No matter what job a kid did, it was a way of learning responsibility. It taught them about how to manage and save their money…how to set a goal to save up for things they wanted. It showed them that things aren’t always handed to you for free…some things must be earned. Kids who work at a younger age understand this fact early on.
Some kids aren’t taught that lesson, and I think that’s sad. Sooner or later, we all have to earn our own way, and what better time to start than when they are young. Kids are so easily swayed one way or another when they are young, and if you ask me, it is far better to sway them on the side of being responsible members of society. As for my babysitters, I am so proud of how responsible each of them have grown up to be. My girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce are great moms, and my granddaughter, Shai Royce will be someday. My grandsons have all grown up to be hard working responsible young men too. I simply couldn’t be more proud of any of them if I tried. I can’t say that the people they turned out to be is a direct result of their first jobs, but that certainly didn’t hurt, because they knew that work has value.
Every four years, our calendar has an extra day…February 29th. Now, to most people, that is a novelty, but to my granddaughter, Shai Royce…that day is very special. If you only got a real birthday every four years, I’m sure you would think that day is quite special too. Shai has not always embraced every aspect of a Leap Day birthday, such as having the three grandsons in the family inform you that they are older than you, even though two of them were born after you. These days, Shai embraces Leap Day, because of it’s pure novelty, and someday she will really love it. Just think, when she’s 64 years old, she will, in reality, be 16. Who can say that? Only a Leap Day Baby, and that’s because…well, Leap Happens, and when it does, people don’t age in quite the same way.
This year looked like it was going to be a bit lonlier for Shai, but her brother, Caalab surprised her with a visit all the way from Seattle, Washington. Shai was completely shocked, and so was I. That sneaky little brother of hers managed to swear everyone who knew to secrecy, so Shai, her grandpa, and I were completely in the dark. When her family moved to the Seattle area, Shai decided to stay in Casper, and now she has taken a page out of her mom’s book. She is in the insurance industry and working with her very blessed grandma…me, at The Stengel Agency. Like her mom, she started out as a CSR, and is learning the insurance ropes. Who knows, she might even become an agent like her mom and grandma someday. I am very proud of all that she has learned here. She handles changes, payments, filing, and phones with ease. I think she comes from good insurance stock. She is doing so well for someone so young…I mean how many 5 year olds do you know who work in insurance?
This is the first year that Shai has lived on her own too, and I am very proud of how she has handled that. She is quite stubborn about accepting help with anything, and insists on paying for herself. Most of the time I let her too, but sometimes, like her birthday lunch, I have to put my grandma’s foot down. Of course, she is much like all my kids and grandkids. They are just responsible people, and I am proud of each and every one of them. Shai may only be five years old, but Shai the adult, shows me often that she has earned her twenty years, and her adulthood. I can’t believe that now two of my grandchildren are in their twenties. It seems totally impossible!! Where have the years gone? Today is Shai’s 20th birthday. Happy 5th Leap Day birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Sometimes, just when you think you know someone, some little thing changes in their life, and suddenly you find out things about them that you had no idea about. Such was the case with my niece, Lacey Stevens. Lacey is not the kind of person to brag about her talents, and in my defense, maybe that is why I never knew.
Recently, Lacey decided to move out of her parents’ house, and into a little house of her own. Lacey is a cosmetologist by trade, and she had been saving her money for furniture, rent, and the other things she would need to live on her own. While her parents are really proud of how responsible she has been in planning her move, they do, nevertheless, miss her at home. She has been so busy that they have hardly seen her, and that can be hard for first time empty nesters.
It’s not, however, Lacey’s responsible ways that took me by surprise. As I was planning my story, I thought I might show some pictures if Lacey’s new place. I asked her for pictures to showcase her place in my story, and that’s when it happened. It was a simple enough thing on Lacey’s part. She just sent the pictures to me and told me that her favorite room is her dressing room…which I can fully understand, by the way. What girl wouldn’t love it?
The pictures were great, but one thing caught my eye. It was the stunning four painting display on one wall, of a tree against a red, sunset like background. When I told her that it was beautiful, she said a simple, “Thanks, I painted those in high school.” Well, I about fell over. They are, as I said, stunning. Lacey is just so talented. Lacey’s sister, Michelle is going to art school, and I think Lacey should have gone too. I told Lacey that she needs to start selling her work. I think she would be quite successful at it. She is such a natural artist.
I think everyone has a natural talent for something. Lacey, like her mom, my sister, Alena Stevens is a very good cosmetologist, but like her sister, Michelle, she also inherited a natural talent for art. My mom, Collene Spencer is a pretty good artist too, and these girls must have inherited their talent from her or from someone on the Stevens side, but I can tell you that they did not get it from me, because I find stick figures to be a real challenge. Wherever her talent came from, Lacey is an artist in her own right. She just doesn’t pat herself on the back, but I think maybe she should. Of course, she won’t do it, because that’s just not Lacey’s way. Today is Lacey’s birthday. Lacey, your new place is absolutely beautiful. Happy birthday Lacey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Each year, every living person gets to have that one day that is their own special day, their birthday…right? Well, not exactly. While that is true for most people, for those people who were born on Leap Day, three out of four birthdays pass in just the twinkling of an eye…in a mere nano-second…that fraction of a second between February 28th and March 1st. February 29th doesn’t exist except every four years, and yet I know that my granddaughter’s birthday must exist each year, because I was there eighteen years ago when she made her grand entrance into this world. Now we have arrived these eighteen years later, at the first nano-birthday where she is unofficially an adult. The fact that she will graduate from high school this year means she must be an adult, and yet officially, she is only 4 1/2 years old, so how can it be that she is now an adult. Nevertheless, she is, and as her grandmother, I couldn’t be more stunned if I tried.
Looking back on the years that have gone by, at her transformation from infant, to toddler, to adolescent, to teenager, and now to adult, all I can say is how can this be? Before me now, stands a beautiful young woman, who is ready in every way to start making her own decisions about where her life will take her, but to me, she will always be that little teeny girl who stole our hearts away when she became our first and only granddaughter. From the first time she wanted me to paint her fingernails, to the times she has told me that my nails were “a meth, and I had better fixth them”, I knew she was a true Girly Girl. Her dimpled smile lit up a room, and her giggle was contagious, and all three of the grandsons knew from the start, that Shai was the boss. They weren’t sure why that was, but then what man does understand why those girls have a princess attitude, that always seems to end up with them getting their way.
As the years have passed, I have watched her grow into a graceful, charming girl, who really isn’t one bit ditsy, even if her sense of humor makes her seem so sometimes. She is a capable, responsible worker, who is loved by everyone she works with. She still isn’t sure what she wants to do as a career, but she is going to go to college anyway, and get her basics done, while she decides what really interests her. Her years have seen her in a variety of work, and that tells me that she could do anything she would choose. She has done child care, nursing, elder care, food service, and customer service work in my office…and she did very well at all of them, so when she decides what she wants to do, she will excel at it for sure.
Shai, you have made your grandma and papa so very proud over the years, and truly the only disappointment we have is that you have grown up so fast. I have often said that people need to spend as much time with their children and grandchildren as they can, because in the twinkling of an eye, those childhood days are gone. The reality is that while I still believe time spent is the single most important thing you can do for your child or grandchild, I also know that even then, it is not enough. That twinkling of the eye happens quickly no matter what. Today is my lovely granddaughter, Shai’s 18th birthday or is it 4 1/2? No matter, happy birthday Shai!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you so very much!!
As little boys, my grandsons played baseball. It was hot and took up a lot of time in the summer, so after a while, they didn’t want to play anymore, which didn’t hurt my feelings, nor those of my daughters and sons-in-law, because as I said, it was hot!! Nevertheless, the boys had a good time with it while they played…except for when Christopher took one to the nose and broke it…real good!! Each of them played well, and each of them played best in a different position. Caalab was a very good catcher, but he struggled with batting. He struggled…until his mom, my daughter, Amy figured out the reason he was struggling. Caalab is right handed, and in most things, that works, but when it comes to batting, well…Caalab is a lefty. Amy watched as he struggled and thought he looked awkward. So she told his coach to have him try batting left handed. The rest…shall we say, is history. Caalab improved quite a bit then, and if baseball hadn’t been such a hot sport, he might have continued playing.
Fast forward now, to the present day. Caalab is working at Johnny J’s Diner, in Casper, and they have a softball team. They asked Caalab if he wanted to be on the team, and he decided to go for it. The good news for us, his parents and grandparents…the games are played at night…much cooler. Caalab has grown tall and slender now, and because he works out, he is very strong. When he hits the ball it really takes off. I’m very pleased with his new found skills. Caalab is no longer the catcher, because his talents are really needed elsewhere.
I know that sometimes a player is put in the outfield because they can’t catch the ball very well…at least that’s how it often is in co-ed softball. Caalab has been playing the left field at lot lately, so we wondered why that was. Then I heard one of the players on the opposite team say, “Whatever you do, don’t hit it to left field!” A short time later, I figured out what their concern was. One of the players hit the ball to left field…and not straight to Caalab either. Caalab took off running and next thing we knew, he caught the ball and the player was out. The next guy in the lineup must have thought it was a fluke, because he hit it to left field too, and once again, Caalab was off like a rocket, and the player’s fate was sealed. The ball was caught and the inning was over.
Amy and I…well, we were stunned, and I said, “Now we know why that team didn’t want them to hit it to left field!!” It was fear…or at least a good understanding that if you took the chance and hit it to left field with Caalab playing that position, you were going to be sorry. He has grown into a strong young man who will be a asset to this or any other team…and not just a softball team. He’s a good worker, and a very responsible young man…a rarity sometimes in this day and age. I’m very proud of that quality in Caalab.