sibling

No parent is really ready for their child to start dating. You expect that there will be a long line of possible spouses that come through the doors of your home. You somehow never expect the first person they date, to become a fixture in your life, and most of the time you would be right, but when our daughter, Corrie Petersen met her now husband, Kevin Petersen, it was love at first sight. She never had any doubt that this was a forever kind of love, but Kevin became so much more to our family. Looking back, I still find myself just amazed at how Kevin seemed to instantly “fit” into our family. In fact, he fit so well, that he became like a son to Bob and me too, and since it has been almost 25 years now, I guess my 15 year old daughter knew love when she found it.

Kevin told me once that my younger daughter, Amy Royce was the little sister he never had. Kevin showed me just how much he loved both of my girls, when he would come to pick them up for school almost everyday until Corrie got her license…she was after all, 15 years old when they started dating, so she couldn’t drive. He never made Amy ride the bus. She was included too, because she was his little sister. I still see that with Kevin, in the way he teases Amy, or comments on her Facebook page, or just when they are talking. Kevin has been her brother longer that she ever lived without him in her life. That really makes him more her brother, than her brother-in-law. I couldn’t have asked for a better “brother” for Amy either. They are very close, and that is a blessing for both of them. They each became the sibling the other was missing, not because they didn’t have a sibling of their own, because they did, but Kevin didn’t have a sister, and Amy didn’t have a brother.

Kevin has had some health struggles over the past few years, and that has made it difficult for him to do the projects that he loves, whether it be cars or around the house. Still, he doesn’t give up. He may have to rest more often than he used to, but he just takes it one step at a time, and soon the project is done. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Kevin and Corrie have two sons, Chris and Josh, who can come to help their dad with some of the things he needs help with. It not only gets the project done, but allows Kevin, and Corrie too, to see their very busy boys, who now have a place of their own. Kevin is such a family man, it really blesses him when the boys are willing to come and help him, even if he wishes he didn’t need help. Sometimes though, we all have to accept a little help from those around us, whether we like it or not. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

img_4981img_5007Kids grow up so quickly, and it often seems like the ones who have an older sibling grow up faster. Such is the case with my grand niece, Hattie Joy Parmely. Hattie is turning two years old today, but with the help of her sister, Reagan Parmely, she just seems older than two. When I think of a two year old, I think of a child who is trying to learn to pedal a tricycle, but instead, Hattie rides a Strider. Now for those of you who don’t know, that is a bicycle with no pedals. Instead of pedaling, the rider uses their feet to basically run the bicycle down the road. I realize that this method is not like riding a bicycle exactly, but it does take a degree of coordination, and Hattie has mastered it very well.

Lots of kids like to climb, but I’m not sure I have seen too many that can climb a stack of hay bails. Granted, once again, Hattie had the help of her big sister, Reagan, and in the end just a little push from her mommy, Ashley Parmely. Reagan didn’t initially realize that Hattie needed help, but Hattie let her know…in no uncertain terms, saying, “Reagie, help me!! Help me Reagie!!” And of course, Reagan did help her. Very soon Hattie was up on that bale of hay, right beside her big sister, because, while she is only two, that does not mean she can’t do the things her big sister does…just watch her, if you don’t believe it.

Hattie and her family live in the country, and they have lots of animals to take care of. Hattie and Reagan aren’t one bit scared of the animals, and in fact I think they think of them more as their babies. So while most little girls are playing with dolls, these girls are playing with goats, chickens, and horses. They help to care for img_4977img_4976them, and get to ride the horses, and eventually they will learn the ropes even more, although, cleaning up after them might not be the thrill of their days. Still, as the saying goes, “It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.” And as kids get older, they learn all the ropes of having animals.

Hattie looks so much like her daddy, Eric Parmely, and we all thought her sister Reagan did too, but as Reagan has grown, she has started to look more like her mommy. I suppose that time will tell, as to whether or not Hattie will start to take on more of her mommy’s features. We will just have to wait and see what the future brings. Today is Hattie’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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.

Baby-ToniaInto most little lives, a sibling must enter. Sometimes the baby is born into a family with other children, and so they just seem like a normal part of life, but sometimes as can be the case with the oldest child, that new little sibling is a bit of a culture shock. Still, most of the time the older child is very excited about this new little playmate, but sooner or later it occurs to the older child that this new little baby sure gets a lot of attention, or cries a lot, or is…basically very needy. That is the point when they become just a little bit disenchanted with this new little person, and they start to wonder why their parents decided to get this kid anyway. And sometimes they are very jealous of this new sibling, and really want the baby to be sent back. Oh they may still love them sometimes, but they sure can be annoying, and they sure take up a lot of Mommy’s and Daddy’s time. Time that used to be exclusively the older child’s time, and now must be shared.

Baby-SisterFor my niece Chantel Masterson Balcerzak, who really did love her sister, Toni Masterson Chase, and who I don’t really think ever felt a lot of resentment, I suppose it was really just a matter of letting everyone know that she was still there. Chantel was always a bit of a Diva, and so she liked her fair share of attention. She liked being the big sister, and helping her mom with the kids who came along after her, but just remember that she was still there, and she was after all…cute too. Of course, it wasn’t like anyone was going to forget that, because after all…Chantel was the first grandchild and the first niece, and we were all excited to have her here. Nevertheless, I suppose that when Toni came along, there was a bit of attention being paid to the new baby. So, our Chantel decided that it was time to remind us that she was the baby too.

That said, one day, Chantel saw Toni’s empty baby carrier, and decided that she would just show us that she In-Da-Babystill fit the part of baby pretty well. So, she proceeded to plop down in the baby carrier, get her self situated in a very comfortable position, and flash that cute little smile of hers, as if to say, “I’n da baby too!!” Chantel was never a very big girl…in fact, fully grown, she is only 4’10”, so she really could fit in that baby carrier at two years old. I guess she proved her point. She could still play the part of a baby. Still, as the Diva part of Chantel continued to grow, she really didn’t want to take Toni’s place for very long, and as we all know, being the baby really can be kind of boring, especially when they are at the age of doing a lot of sleeping. That part didn’t interest Chantel very much at all. She was always a busy little girl, who had a lot of living to do. Sleeping was overrated. In the end, she opted for being the big sister over being the baby.

Clifford E ByerBecause he passed away in 1953 at the young age of just 43 years. I never had the opportunity to know my Great Uncle Cliff. My mom tells me that he was well liked. She said he liked to make people laugh, and always had a good joke to tell. That made him someone people liked to be around. He loved stopping by his brother’s house after work. He would leave a few snacks in his lunch pail for all the little kids to raid. Of course, that made him a big hit with my mom and her siblings.

Uncle Cliff was quite a character. He loved to pick on his mom some. When he was younger, and still living at home. He had a job, and his job required that he work a half day on Saturday. Sometimes he would not come right home after work, because he knew his mother would think he was out drinking. Grandma was mad, and indeed thought he was drinking. She decided to write a big “D” on calendar…for drunk. I guess she was hoping to shame him into not doing such things. He did it to tease her, because he wasn’t drinking at all, and the big “D” on the calendar only served as a source of humor for him.

Uncle Cliff married Marie Settell on July 28, 1940, and on their wedding night, the family gave them a real Shivaree. Now for those of you who don’t know, a Shivaree is a mock serenade with kettles, pans, horns, and other noisemakers given for a newly married couple. As sometimes happens in these event, things can get out of hand, resulting in the bride being stolen from the groom for a time, and Uncle Cliff was very worried that they would steal his bride. I suppose that once he realized they weren’t going to do that, he might have thought it was a sweet thing to do, but by that time the Shivaree was over, so he couldn’t relax and enjoy it.

When the United States joined World War II, Uncle Cliff was drafted into the Navy on August 18, 1945, at the age of 36 years. He had only been married five years at that time, and they had already had some sadness in the loss of their first child, Clifford Jr in 1941. I can only imagine how hard it would be to send your husband into war, when you had only been married for five years. But then, many woman have had to do this over the years. They and their marriage would survive the war, and they would have three surviving children, Joy, Gordon, and Judy and a number of grandchildren, but unfortunately, Uncle Cliff would never get to meet them.

Johnny and Marie SkaggsComing home from the war would not bring the best of news. I’m not sure just how long after coming home, but Uncle Cliff had some health issues, and he unfortunately put off taking care of them, In the end, it would be cancer that would take his life at the far too young age of 43. Uncle Cliff has always seemed to be a bit of a mystery to me…like an great uncle who I knew should have known, but somehow didn’t. He was a missing part of the family. He was my Grandpa Byer’s youngest sibling, and since I knew my grandpa, who was the third from the oldest of the nine children, why wouldn’t I know his youngest brother. Oh, I know that isn’t such an oddity, because a lot of people die at a young age, but it seemed strange to me at the time.

Five years after Uncle Cliff’s passing, Marie would again find love, even though I’m sure she thought it would never happen. She married Walter Oddsey (Johnny) Skaggs. Marie and Johnny were both well liked by the Byer family, and while they moved to California, they kept in touch with them through the years.

I Want To Go To School TooThere is nothing worse, for the youngest sibling, than to be left at home while the rest of the kids get to go to school. They just don’t understand why they can’t go along. I’m sure that after a while they forget some and go find something to occupy themselves until the rest of the kids come home, but that just doesn’t really alleviate that lonely feeling. They love their siblings and they miss them, and that is all there is to it. So every morning they hurry to get ready, hoping that maybe today will be the day when they finally get to go along…even putting on their own backpack to show their mom that they are ready…but to no avail.

My grand niece, Aleesia Spethman is the youngest of my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve’s kids. She has three older brothers, and she thinks they are the greatest. They feel the same way about her too. When the boys go outside to play, Aleesia thinks she should get to go outside The Big Brothers too. When they go to school, she wants to go too. It doesn’t really matter what the boys are doing, because if they are doing it, Aleesia wants to do it too. Her brothers are the coolest…after all.

Still, like it or not, Fall happens, and the boys have to go back to school, because that is what kids do in the Fall. And that leaves Miss Aleesia standing at the front door, in her Jammys and her boots, with her Little Mermaid backpack, feeling a little bit like she is on the outside looking in. She wants to go where her brothers are, but she is not allowed to do so. It’s simply against the rules. And that leaves a sad look on our smiley girl’s little face.

It’s such a sad little scene…a little girl looking longingly out the door, wishing she could go with her brothers, and do all the cool things they get to do. There she is wondering why she is the baby of the family. It just isn’t fair. Her mommy looks on with her own heart breaking just a little bit for this tiny girl of hers who is already Smiley Girllearning that life isn’t always fair. It is a moment that will stay in her memory files, like it will for anyone who sees this picture. There is no way to explain to Aleesia that it has to be this way…for now. No way to explain that before she knows it, she will be in school too, and then she will wish she could stay home with mommy and have girl time. So, Jenny does the only thing she can do. She goes to her girl, and invites her to play some little game, or asks her if she wants to go to the mall, or maybe watch her favorite movie. Before she can shed too many tears, her mommy has her mind focused on other things, and the sad moment is over. She will miss her brothers several more times before they get home, but then…when school is done for the day…she puts on her smiley face again. Her brothers are home…and all is right in her world.

557968_10201347635948433_7064706_nWhen kids grow up and go away to college, It can be a big change for the family. We all think about how the parents will feel when their child goes off to college, but rarely do we think about how the siblings will feel. My grandson, Chris is going to be going to college in Sheridan, Wyoming this fall, and while that is not so terribly far away from Casper, it is beginning to feel quite far away to his younger brother, Josh. The boys have always been close, and when Chris got his drivers license, they really got even closer. They did things together, and Chris picked Josh up from school and work, as well as dropping him off in the mornings. Now, suddenly all that is about to change, and Josh doesn’t really like the idea.

If I had thought about this situation, I would have to say that it would be my daughter, Corrie who I would expect to fall apart, and I’m quite sure that when the time comes, she will fall apart and be totally in tears, but I must say that I just didn’t think about how this would affect Josh. I don’t know why, exactly, because when my sisters have lived somewhere else, we all cried as they left. It is a natural reaction. Nevertheless, it just breaks my heart that Josh is feeling so bad about this, and it is even harder that it is so hard on him this early in the summer…because he has the whole summer to sit and think about the coming of fall.

BrosIt is my hope that fall will find both boys so busy with their studies and other activities, that the time will simply fly by and before they hardly realize that school has begun, it will be time for summer again, but of course, I doubt that it will go that fast. Visits home, and all the technology we have these days will help of course, but it still isn’t quite the same as having your brother there to hang out with. I suppose too, that having his mom and grandma pick him up from school those first few days until Josh can get his license will be the most horrible part of the whole ordeal too. There is just no way that we could possibly be as cool as his big brother.

scan0042aJoann Knox Schulenberg aged 140001_editedSometimes, I have to wonder  how it must feel to be an only child. It’s not that I have ever wanted to be an only child, but rather that I was simply curious about how life was for those who were only children. I have a niece, Toni, who has one son, James, who seems perfectly happy as an only child, and I know several other people, now adults, who are their parents’only children, and are also quite happy with their life. I suppose that you only know your life the way it is, and so what might seem strange to someone else, seems perfectly normal to you. Having grown up with four sisters, I can’t imagine life as an only child, nor can I imagine life with brothers. I think the family dynamic would have been so much different that it would have been nothing like what I grew up with. I guess, each life is what it is supposed to be.

But, what of the only child, who after a number of years, suddenly isn’t an only child anymore? How odd would that be? That is exactly what happened for my Aunt Laura Spencer Fredrick and for my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg. Aunt Laura was 10 years old, when she suddenly became a sister to my Uncle Bill, and then my dad 28 months later, and my Aunt Ruth 19 months after that. Aunt Laura adapted very well to all these new siblings, especially Uncle Bill. They became very close, because my grandmother worked at the hotel the family ran, so Aunt Laura was instrumental in raising young Uncle Bill. I don’t know how much her help was needed with my dad, and Aunt Ruth, but my guess is that it was quite a bit, and I’m also quite sure she did a very good job of assisting her mother. Those older children are usually almost an extra parent.

For my mother-in-law, things were a little bit different in that she was an only child until her sister, Linda was born when she was 3 months short of 16 years old, and her sister Margee followed 25 months later. I’m sure that to a degree, she helped her mother out, but since she was in high school, and the family lived in the country, there was a period of time when she often stayed with friends in Colstrip, Montana so she would be able to get to school. By the time Margee arrived, my mother-in-law was dating her future husband, my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg. They would marry just under 6 months later, and their first child, a daughter they named Marlyce was born just 13 months later, so my mother-in-law was busy with her own family and could no longer be a help to her mother. Most of her life was spent as an only child, even though she no longer was one.

I have to think that life for these two women must have seemed, to a degree anyway, like it was turned upside down. What they had always thought their life was going to be like was now totally different than I t had been before. I wish I could ask them if that had seemed Wedding dayscan0052strange to them, or if it just seemed like a normal next phase in their lives. I suppose that helping out with those younger siblings did train them in how to be a mother, which is good for anyone who plans to have kids. Nevertheless, I have to think that it must have seemed odd to go from an only child to a big sister in a few short months. Life takes it’s own twists and turns, and we just have to go with the changes, because that’s what life is all about

Jacob Vincent Harman_editedFrom the moment his sister, Siara was born, my grand nephew, Jake became her protector. It didn’t matter if someone was bullying her or simply teasing her, Jake took it upon himself to make it right. That’s the kind of guy he is. When Siara was little, she hated to eat anything that was broken. Her dad thought this was hillarious, and so when her mom, my niece, Chantel, gave the kids a Little Debbie snack cake, her dad would flick the cake, breaking the frosting before giving it to her. Siara would fall to her knees and wail mournfully, “It’s broken!!” Even though Jake was only 5 or 6 years old, he would quickly say, “It’s ok CC, lets trade!” Immediately the situation was all better. After, his parents’ divorce, Jake became the man of the house…a role he had practiced for all his little life. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his sister.

Growing up in a home without a dad, Jake had to deal with the influence of a single mom and a Siara and Jakesister. We all know that the driver of the car gets to pick the radio station. so in the mornings, Jake had to listen to the music his mom liked. Chantel liked to make sure the day started out with everyone in a good mood, so singing on the way to school…to Chantel’s favorite songs…was the way the drive went. To this day, Jake knows every word of Shania Twain’s “I Feel Like A Woman” and Jake..in typical Jake style says, “Hey, I was raised by a single mom, and I have a sister. Don’t judge!” I say it takes a man who is comfortable in his own skin to be able to say I sang that with my mom and sister, and I have no regrets.

When Chantel’s current husband came into their lives, Jake just wasn’t sure he wanted to trust another man in the house again. He tried so hard not to like Dave, even telling Chantel that Dave looked like a serial killer…a statement as far from what Dave is like as the Earth is from the Sun…but Dave was very different than Jake’s real dad, and he soon won Jake’s respect, and more importantly his heart. Three weeks later, Jake asked if he could call Dave…Dad. Jake’s days of having to carry the load of being the man of the house alone, were over.

Still, there was the Siara issue, and as Chantel says, “The door swings both ways.” OneChantel and Dave_edited day, before Dave was a true member of their family, Jake in normal kid style, pushed his sister down on their trampoline. Apparently, it’s ok for Jake to pick on his sister. Since Dave was in the back yard, Siara did the logical thing and told on Jake. Dave went to the trampoline and jerked Jake to the edge so that he could tell him never to push his sister again, but before Dave to say a word, Chantel tells me that he saw a little blond vapor trail and heard the slamming of the screen door as Siara ran into the house to tell Chantel, “Mom!!! Dave is hurting Jake!!” It just goes to show you that while siblings might pick on each other, no one else gets to pick on their sibling. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a wonderful day!!

The Great Northern Railway was created in September of 1889. The line was the dream of one man…James Jerome Hill. He was called the Empire Builder, because of his ability to create prosperous business seemingly from nothing. It came to be as a result of the combining of several predecessor railroads in Minnesota and eventually stretched from Lake Superior at Duluth to Minneapolis/St Paul west through North Dakota and Northern Idaho to Washington State at Everett and Seattle. The Great Northern Railway was in operation until 1970 when it merged with the Northern Pacific Railway, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad and the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway to form the Burlington Northern Railroad. The Burlington Northern Railroad operated until 1996, when it merged with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to form the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway.

I’m sure you are wondering why I would be telling you this. It’s because this particular railroad played a part in my family’s past. My grandfather (my dad’s dad) worked on the Great Northern Railway. My dad and his siblings had passes to ride the Great Northern Railway for free, as a dependant of an employee. I think it is much of the reason that my whole family loves trains and riding on trains.

Grandpa was a wanderer. He loved to see new places and experience new things. The railroad gave him the ability to do just that…and also kept him away from his family a lot, unfortunately. My grandpa was born 133 years ago today..that seems an impossible number. My grandfather was 77 years older than me. He passed away in 1951, 5 years before I was born. My dad drove back to Wisconsin, making the 1000 mile trip in 17 hours, which was pretty quick back in the 50’s. He did make it to his dad’s side before he passed away on October 19, 1951.

Because he passed away before I was born, I don’t know much about my grandfather. I have to think though, that there was a bit of a little boy in him that he never outgrew. His smile indicated that he had a great sense of humor, with just a hint of mischievousness.  I think that his boyish grin could very well have been the very thing that caught my grandmother’s eye. I think he was always full of boyish charm and mischief, and a need to see what was around the next turn in the road…or in this case, the next curve of the tracks.

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