sister-in-law

Years ago, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely made the decision to get healthy and stay that way. She was never really at a place where she was very overweight or unhealthy, but she was done letting that sneak into her life, and it never did sneak up on her again. Jennifer was always a pretty healthy eater, and even more so these days. She is very vigilant in how she eats and how she cooks.

Of course, eating well is not going to be enough to keep a person healthy, because without exercise, the body deteriorates. I think most of us know that, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is faithful to exercise to keep their body in shape. Jennifer is the exception to that rule over the long run, because she is always doing some form of exercise. She walks, jogs, rides a bicycle, skis, yoga, and many other forms of exercise. After having three boys, her waist is still probably the same 25 inches, or less, that it was before she had children. That is all due to Jennifer’s dedication to healthy living, and it has served her well all these years. She has been able to do whatever she wanted to do.

Jennifer is a labor and delivery nurse, at Wyoming Medical Center, and I can’t tell you how many babies she has helped to deliver, but I can tell you that it could be in the thousands. So many mothers who were comforted through their baby’s birth. So many babies she held in her arms in their first moments of life. Oh the miracles she has been blessed to see. It is beyond amazing, and I know that Jennifer feels very blessed to have been a part of it for so many years.

These days, Jennifer has even better reasons to stay in good shape. She has three little grandchildren that love riding their bicycles to the park with their Oma. Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen Parmely love hanging out and having fun, and Jennifer feels very blessed to have these little ones in her life…and very blessed that she is in shape to really enjoy them and the rest of her life. Today in Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Keep on keeping on!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Long before she became my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was friends with her future nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith. They didn’t know, when their friendship began, that one day, they would be related. As they all grew up, and began to marry, it was Machelle who instigated the union between Rachel and my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg, that made Rachel my sister-in-law and “aunt” to Machelle and Susan, as well as all Ron’s other nieces and nephews.

Of course, Machelle could only be the instigator, Rachel and to be the one to win Ron’s heart, if she want to continue the relationship. Well, that was a slam-dunk. According to Machelle, Rachel is a “mother hen.” She is always trying to make sure that her friends and family have what they need. It really breaks her heart when she is unable to help people. It is at those times that she knows that she must put them in God’s hands, which as we know, is not an easy task. Her kind heart and loving ways drew Ron to her, and if that wasn’t enough, Rachel is a great cook. When Machelle was going to introduce Rachel to Ron, Rachel asked her what she should cook. For Machelle, it was another slam-dunk, Rachel’s lasagna!! She wanted to impress Ron, and feed him something besides the “frozen burrito” type meals he had been eating. Machelle calls Rachel’s lasagna, “the best in the west,” and Ron agreed. Rachel made a great first impression. Rachel loves to cook and is never bothered by extra people at dinnertime. She always has ways to make sure there is enough.

Probably the most interesting thing about the relationship between Machelle, Susan, and Rachel is the fact that, while none of them knew of it, until later, all three couples got engaged the same day…not the same year, of course, but the same day…February 13th. That has been a lot of fun for them. They call it Engagement Day, and they make a big deal out of it, texting each other to wish each other “Happy Engagement Day!!” The tradition makes it that much more special for all of them. And I think it is very cool too. It is something you just don’t see every day. Today is Rachel’s birthday. Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Debbie Cook, has become a quilting fanatic. I’ve never made a quilt myself, but I guess it is really quite addictive. Like her daughter, Susan Griffith, I can’t understand the draw, because sewing is simply not my thing, and Susan says she can’t even sew a straight line., so we are on the same page there. Debbie has always been crafty though. She makes dish clothes and cross stitch items to sell at the craft fair that most towns hold, especially around Christmastime. She loves going to craft fairs, looking forward to it all year, which she comes by naturally, given the fact that her mom, Joann Schulenberg and her sister, Brenda Schulenberg had booths at the craft fairs for years. Even her dad, Walt Schulenberg got involved after he retired.

Debbie is grandma to four grandchildren, Weston Moore, Jala Satterwhite, Easton Moore, and Kaytlyn Griffith. Over the years, she has picked all of them up after school, but these days it just her and Kaytlyn once a week. It nice for both of them, because it gives them a chance to hang out. They like to play board games. I don’t know who wins the most, but I expect that it gets competitive, because Kaytlyn is getting to that age, where she knows how all this works.

Debbie’s daughter, Machelle Moore told me of the time that her mom got her out of quite a jam. Machelle’s son, Easton had a hat, and he cut a hole in the middle of the front, so he could pull it over his face. Easton didn’t know the hat was made by Machelle’s mother-in-law, Easton’s other grandma, and they were quite upset that he had “ruined” the hat his grandma had so lovingly made. Debbie came to the rescue. She fixed it and that was quite the job!! Repair work is often much harder than making the original item. She did great though!!

Machelle got a new dishwasher about a year ago and wanted to make a sign to put on the front of it to tell if the dishes were clean or dirty. Easton figured out that the front of it was magnetic. On the next family camping trip, Machelle told her mom that she needed a magnet cross-stitched sign that says clean on top, and when flipped, it says dirty. It sure comes in handy!! Both of the girls feel very blessed to have their mom so close by. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, JD Parmely is a car fanatic. I have never known anyone who owns more cars than he does, and the number keeps getting bigger. I suppose, that as the saying goes, “to each his own” really applies here. Cars are JD’s thing, and he can often be found out in his garage tinkering on one of them…sometimes until 2:00 in the morning. It is what makes him happy, and it has from the time he was old enough to think about cars. JD knew from a young age that he wanted to be a mechanic, and so he went to college in Arizona for his training, and now, not only does he work on his own cars but he is a mechanic by trade too. They say that when you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That certainly is true for JD.

It would be my guess that the only job JD loves more than being a mechanic, is being an uncle. Since the first time he became an uncle, he was in love with that whole part of his life. JD’s brother, Eric Parmely and sister-in-law, Ashley now have three children, so JD is uncle to Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen. He takes his role very seriously, spending time with them whenever he can, and I’m sure that he is considered a great blessing to them. JD has a heart of gold, and those kids all know how much their uncle loves them, and like most uncles, they have him wrapped around their little fingers already. JD has a soft heart in that area, and I’m pretty sure that those kids know it too.

JD is the kind of guy you can always count on. He has been a ready help to his brothers and uncles whenever they asked him. He has also been good to his dad, even taking him into his home after he had a stroke, and helping him with the demands of his new health status. Having been a caregiver myself for 13 years, I can say that taking care of someone is no easy job, and those who do it deserve our respect. All in all, JD live a very busy life, sometimes it can wear a person out just thinking about it, but it’s what makes him happy, so that’s all that matters. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg was a blessing that came as a free gift with my marriage to her brother, Bob. Of course, I consider all of my in-laws to be a blessing, but I think that they will all agree that Marlyce was a special kind of blessing. I don’t mean to say that Marlyce was perfect, or that the whole family always got along with her, although I don’t recall a fight I personally had with Marlyce. Even though the siblings fought with their sister periodically, I can tell you, without doubt that they considered her a sweet blessing too.

Marlyce had a kind heart. In fact,there wasn’t an unkind bone in hr body. She loved doing things for people, in fact, she would do just about anything that was in her power to do. Marlyce was developmentally disabled, but she was an expert at a number of things. She could cook and bake, and was famous for her chocolate chip cookies. She also loved to knit and made great stocking caps for people. She even sold them at craft fairs. Marlyce loved making things and she loved giving things to people.

The one thing Marlyce really loved though…babies. She was the oldest of her siblings, and so, she got to help out with all her siblings, even if she couldn’t do many things well, her parents didn’t refuse to let her help. She liked being the big helper, and when she became an aunt, she was just wonderful with the kids. All of the kids loved Aunt Marlyce. She was very special to them. She didn’t have a chance to become a great aunt, because she passed away far too young…at just 39 years. When I think about that, it makes me sad, because not only did Marlyce miss out on being a great aunt, but her grand nieces and grand nephews missed out on the special aunt she was. And now that she is a great grand aunt to my little great granddaughter. It makes me sad to know that another generation is going to miss out on sweet Aunt Marlyce. Today would have been Marlyce’s 68th birthday, but instead, she is 39 years old again. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.

My sister-in-law, Debbie Cook leads a pretty busy life. During the school year, she is the “bus driver” for her two youngest grandchildren, Easton Moore and Kaytlyn Griffith after school. The older kids, Weston Moore and Jala Satterwhite have activities that go on after school, so Debbie has just the little ones. Debbie likes to do special things for the grandkids, such as the brownies she made as a treat for Valentine’s Day. Of course, when its nice outside, there is a lot more that can be done, like going to the park, where they can run and play, which is probably to their parents liking too, because then they are more settled at night…or is does that only work on the little ones?

Winter is a dreaded time for lots of people, an most especially for anyone who like to got camping. Debbie and her husband, Lynn love to go camping, and I think that they would move to the mountains if it weren’t for the fact that the kids and grandkids live in town. So the next best thing is family camping trip to the Big Horn Mountains. Their daughter Machelle, told me that going camping with the family every weekend is so peaceful and quiet and that they al really enjoy it. Machelle says it is like having a sleepover every weekend. Now when you think about it, which of us wouldn’t love to go home sometimes to relive the days of our youth…especially the ones when you and your siblings had a sleepover on the living room floor. That’s kind of how it feels to the family when they are all camping together in the beauty of the mountains.

Her family is the most important thing to Debbie. She loves being around the grandchildren, and especially having them all want to go camping together. It’s like taking weekly vacations together all your life. Most people quit taking together vacations when they get married, so it’s something special. I suppose that with the next generation coming of age, things are likely to change. When the grandkids are driving and working, they can’t always go along on the fun stuff, and they are old enough to stay alone, so things slowly change. Hopefully it doesn’t change too fast. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy birthday Debbie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I first met my sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg when I was 18 years old, and she was 23 years old. She passed away when she was 39 years old. It has been 28 years since Marlyce passed away in 1989, so she has been gone 13 years longer than she was in my life. While that fact feels like a fact in some ways, it doesn’t in others. Marlyce had such a huge impact on my life. It wasn’t anything specific that she did, but rather it was everything about my sweet sister-in-law. Marlyce was developmentally disabled, and in some ways she remained a child all her life, but in other ways, she was an adult. She had a job, and she loved to bake and knit, and really she didn’t play. She understood that kids games were for kids, and she was an adult. She would play games intended for grownups though. One of her favorites was solitaire. She always had a deck of cards handy.

Still, it was not those things that made Marlyce so special to me. It was her personality. She was such a loving person. I suppose that I had an advantage over her siblings in that I was not her sibling. Coming into the family as an outsider, gave me the ability to be a friend to Marlyce before I became her sister-in-law. There never were the sibling rivalries or the sibling fights, because while Marlyce knew I was her sister-in-law, I don’t think she ever really thought of me that way, exactly. I was maybe more her permanent friend. Permanent in that I was a fixture within the family unit, and friend, in that I was not her blood sister. Of course, all of her siblings loved Marlyce too, but having grown up with her, they did all fight…like all siblings do.

One thing I recall about Marlyce that was kind of funny, is how protective she could be over her siblings. If she was mad at them…well, you knew it. She had no problem telling any one of them just what she thought, but if one of her siblings was getting into trouble…well, that was a different thing. I can’t tell you how many times I heard Marlyce telling her parents that they should be nice to her brother or sister. She was quite vocal about it. And even after the disciplinary action was over, she was still pretty mad at the offending parent. It was pretty comical, but I didn’t dare laugh about it, because Marlyce didn’t like being laughed at…and I would never hurt her feelings that way. Marlyce was so sweet. I couldn’t pick on her. When I think of all the years that Marlyce has been gone, I am saddened, because we are missing out on all the sweetness that was Marlyce. Everything about Marlyce was sweet, and I miss her very much. Today would have been Marlyce’s 67th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love you very much.

For most of her life, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg struggled with her weight. Even as a child, Brenda was heavy. She will tell you that her weight prevented her from doing many of the things that most children took for granted, such as riding a bicycle. She might have been able to do it to a degree, but not for very long or very far. As she grew into adulthood, her weight became such a problem that she couldn’t even think of riding a bicycle. Then one day, her health failed due to her weight. She knew that she had to make a change. That day was October 18, 2013…just 5½ months after her dad, Walt Schulenberg passed away. Brenda became a health nut. She learned to eat right, and she walked…slowly and with a walker at first, and later on her own. She walked further and further…often reaching 10 miles a day. The weight came off, and she felt much better. Still, one thing eluded her…riding a bicycle. Finally, the day arrived when Brenda found out that she could ride a bicycle…as long as the peddles were off, and she could reach the ground. It’s called strider riding. It is a bicycle, but the rider basically runs the bicycle down the trail, instead of riding it…and Brenda could do that.

After riding strider style for a time, Brenda was finally able to ride a bicycle in the normal way. She put the peddles back on her purple bicycle and off she went. Brenda became just like the postal service…”Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Ok, Brenda didn’t have appointed rounds…exactly, but she had set herself a goal of riding her bicycle every month of the year. Now, that is not an easy task, especially in the state of Wyoming, where winters can be brutal. Nevertheless, just like the postal worker, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor gloom of the very early morning will keep Brenda from riding her bicycle. She is determined to ride it, and make up for all the years that she couldn’t even ride a bicycle in the summertime, much less in the winter.

She’s a brave woman, especially when she goes out in the middle of a snow story, and pretty much turns into a snow woman. She reminds me of the Campbell’s Soup commercial where the little boy is so covered with snow that only a hot bowl of soup will melt away all the snow. Maybe she’s not that bad, but she’s close. Brenda, we are proud of your determination, but I do have to wonder if the people driving by the snow woman on wheels have to rubs their eyes to make sure they are seeing what their eyes are telling them they are seeing. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sweet MarlyceMarlyce holding BarryAfter 27 years, one might think that I would be used to the fact that my sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg is no longer with us, but somehow, I’m not. Oh, I suppose that most of the time my mind has accepted that fact, but…well, Marlyce was such a unique person. She was special in every way. She had a heart of gold, and she loved everyone. That didn’t mean that she didn’t have a temper at all, but then, I think that when she got mad…at least at her siblings, it was because they teased her…or picked a fight with her. I suppose it was a kid thing or a sibling thing, but whatever it was, it drove Marlyce crazy sometimes. And every time Marlyce got mad at her siblings, they were moved to try it again. I suppose that’s just how kids are.

Marlyce’s life was cut short at the tender age of just 39 years, when cancer took her life away from her. Gone were that precious moments we all had with my sweet sister-in-law. It was so hard to believe. She was only 39 years old, younger than my own children are now, and yet she was gone. No more of her smiling face telling me that she had made my favorite chocolate chip cookies, or showing me the latest things she had knitted. Her giggle was now silent. That was 27 years ago, and yet, I can still hear her voice…filled with excitement about those cookies, and I can still hear her annoyed voice telling her littlest brother, Ron to stop picking on her.

It’s strange that the voices of the past still exist in our minds to the degree that it almost seems like we are still Beautiful MarlyceAmy with Marlycehearing them out loud. Harder for me to believe than the fact that Marlyce has been gone for 27 years, is the fact that she would have been 66 years old today. She was the oldest child, and with her passing there was a hole left in our lives. Because Marlyce was a special needs child, my in-laws were always concerned about what would happen to her if they passed away. Of course, we would have take care of her, but they needn’t have worried, because she preceded both of them. Today would have been Marlyce’s 66th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.

On the SlideSince losing over 330 pounds, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg has basically entered her second childhood. It all started when she decided that she needed to go and play on the playground…or at least slide on the slide. Now, she has set herself a goal of visiting every park in Casper at some point this year…including walking around the parks. She found an outdoor exercise bike, and after many attempts over the course of the last two years, finally was able to make it work. When her niece posted pictures of her children sledding, Brenda told them that they should come to Casper next winter so she could go sledding with them. These things are not the activities of most life-long sedentary and overweight people, but then that isn’t who Brenda is…anymore. She is a vibrant, active 50+ year old, who got a second chance, and she has no intention of wasting it. Brenda soon became a woman on a mission…a get healthy mission.

Checking it outIt has been a long journey for Brenda, but not nearly as long as it would have been for most people in her shoes. Most people who find out that they have several health issues, all caused by obesity and all reversible, would have said that the challenge was more than they could face. The mere though of healthy eating and an active lifestyle makes most people in that situation feel tired and hungry. And most of those people give up before they ever get started…but not Brenda. In all reality, Brenda was no exception to that general rule, but she dug down deep within herself, and decided once and for all, that she was not going to let this beat her, and she was not going to die at 50 years old. In many ways, that was about the last time Brenda acted like someone with all the health concerns she had. and now she simply doesn’t act her age at all. It’s like she has age regressed…and that’s ok. If you missed out on an active childhood, and you had the chance to go back in time and change that…wouldn’t you do it too. Brenda simply had to do it.
New Bike
In recent months, Brenda has been obsessed with the idea of riding a bicycle again. She wasn’t sure that would be a possibility given the condition of her knees right now. Nevertheless, she has high hopes, and so she decided to find a way to ride a bike in the meantime. She bought a bicycle…purple, of course. She took the pedals off of it, and for now, she sits on the seat and walks the bike along the trails. She calls it a strider, and I don’t know for sure if that is the name of the bike, or what you call one that has no pedals, but either way, she can now ride a bike…another thing she didn’t really do much as a kid. And another step back into her second childhood. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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