Looking back on my life really, but focusing on Christmases, so much has changed. I remember Christmases with my parents and my sisters…simple times with just our family. After we opened gifts in the morning, the house would begin to be filled with the wonderful smells of the coming dinner. While things were cooking, we were playing with our various toys and such. While the day was relaxed and fun for my sisters and me, I’m sure it wasn’t quite as relaxed for my parents, who would spend most of the day with meal preparations. Nevertheless, they lovingly prepared for that dinner, and before very long, dinner was ready…and what a dinner it was. My parents could really cook. I can still taste all those wonderful foods.
Later, with the marriages of my sisters and me, the dinners became a little more complicated, meaning we would need to incorporate the in-laws’ side of the family. Still, it worked out, with a little bit of time management. We somehow managed to go both places and eat two meals…were we ever full sometimes!! With so many good foods, it’s hard to take a small sampling of them, and walk away from the rest. The day usually ended with us feeling like beached whales as we crashed on the couch or the floor. Nevertheless, the kids enjoyed the day, and really, wasn’t that what it was all about, after all. As the next generation grew to marriage age, we had to try to combine again…this time adding the new set of in-laws to the mix. That usually meant dinner at the grandparents’ homes with multiple generations all crowded into the house. Still, togetherness was the key to it all. Now, it was the great grandchildren we focused on, because they were the new little ones, and the excitement centered around them.
The next change that happened was when our parents went home to Heaven. That was probably the biggest change of all…and the hardest to accept. Now we have a big family Christmas party a week or so before Christmas or on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day we go our separate ways to celebrate with our own families. We are the great grandparents or grandparents now, and it’s our children who have to work around the in-laws in their own way. Some trade years, others go both places, and others celebrate on two different days to make it easier on everyone. Who could have known all those years ago, when this all got started, that Christmas could be so complicated.
With all the complicated holiday situations, it is important to remember the real reason for the season…the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While God is all for giving gifts, He always hopes that we will remember the greatest gift ever given…Jesus!! Were it not for Jesus, we would be doomed. So, while the gifts are nice, and the food is great, let’s not forget why we celebrate this day…the birth of our Savior. Happy birthday Jesus!! Thank you coming to Earth and saving the world!!
Veteran’s Day is a day about sacrifice and honor, duty and dedication, war and peace, but the day cannot pass for me without thoughts of my dad, and how much I miss him. I know I am not alone in these thoughts, because my sisters also miss him, as well as the rest of our family. My dad Staff Sergeant Allen L Spencer, fought in World War II, serving as flight engineer and top turret gunner on a B-17G Bomber. Dad came home after his successful service, which is why my sisters and I are alive, and why he was a veteran. A veteran is someone who served in the military and came home after.
Soldiers really are a rare bread, created by God to go out and protect those who cannot protect themselves, even when those they protect don’t know or even care that it is a soldier who has watched over them, their borders, and their homes. The sacrifice a veteran gave was not about dying, although they will do that if it is what is required of them. The sacrifice of a veteran is being away from their family and friends. Some veterans miss out on their babies being born, their wedding anniversaries, weddings of family members, and so much more. They don’t know most of, if any of the people they are protecting, but they go anyway, because they are needed. Lives depend on their loyalty.
These men and women deserve our respect and that is what today is all about. It is a day to remind our veterans that we are grateful for their service, and happy that they were able to return to us and to their family members. War is a horrible thing, and no one really wants to be so far away from home fighting in a war they didn’t start, and one they wish hadn’t ever taken place. Unfortunately, evil exists in our world, and because it does, soldiers are a vital part of our security. God knew that soldiers would have to be people of honor and dedication, with a strong sense of duty and love for their fellow man. They would have to be people of courage and bravery…able to bite back the fear that dwells all around them. God knew the kind of people they would have to be…heroes. And that is what every veteran is, was, and always will be…a hero. Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day to honor those who have given so much to keep us free. Thank you all for your great service. God bless you…every one of you.
My grandnephew, Matt Masterson is very quickly becoming a man. Recently, Matt has been looking for a job. Matt likes to be a help to his family, and since he is the only one of the kids that drive, he is really good about taking his sisters, Raelynn and Taylor wherever they need to go. He offers to take them to get food, drinks, or anything else they want to do. He really enjoys having them in the car with him, unless he has a lot on his mind.
Unfortunately, with driving comes the possibility of accidents, and while Matt has not had an accident that was his fault, he has been in two accidents, and on the last one, Raelynn was with him. Matt is so supportive of his sisters. After calling his parents and the cops, Matt came back to make sure Raelynn had her water and helped her through the panic attack she was having. No one was hurt in the accident, but Raelynn was still scared. Matt just took control. He had her sit down, and talked her through it, making sure that she stayed focused of the positive side of things. Matt is such a great brother to his sisters. They depend on him for many things, and Raelynn says that she can tell that he is going to be an “awesome dad one day too, when he decides he wants kids.”
For now, that is down the road a little bit, since Matt is only 17 years old. For now, Matt has been looking for a job! He really wants to be able to help out. Not many 17-year-old kids are interested in being a contributor to the family finances, so that is cool. Even things like buying his own clothes and other supplies can be helpful. Clothes are expensive. Matt is looking forward in life, planning his future. He may not know exactly where he is going right now, but he focused on making good decisions and staying on the right track. Even though it’s summer, Matt’s been sleeping in less and making an effort to be nice to people and get out and do things more! That’s a big job in this Post-Covid-Lockdown world. Today is Matt’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandniece, Katie Balcerzak has been a part of our family, since she married my grandnephew, Keifer Balcerzak in 2015. Together they have two beautiful children, Reece and Aysa Balcerzak. They have been so blessed with two happy, smiling children, who bring more joy to their lives than they could ever have imagined. Reece was born in 2017 and Asa was born in 2021. Now their family is complete. They love doing all the fun activities, like sports and such. Reece is trying different things like t-ball, and while that may not be the sort for her, Katie and Keifer encourage her to give it a shot. They are good parents…always encouraging their kids and each other.
I liked Katie from the first time I met her. We have a few things in common, mostly that we both have sisters, and no brothers. It can make us feel unsure about having boys. While I didn’t have boys, I had three grandsons and only one granddaughter. Katie had a daughter first, and then her son. Either way, for a girl with all sisters, even if she had nephews, having those boys is a bit of a culture shock. Nevertheless, you adapt, and Katie has adapted beautifully. In fact, the love she has for both of her children shows all over her face. It’s just beautiful.
Katie has always been very close to her sisters. The bond they have reminds me of my bond with my sisters. There is something about a family of sisters. Girls think alike. They like the same things, and they like to share their hopes and dreams. The bond between sisters is like a best friend, but much closer. That is the bond Katie has with her sisters, Kellee Schuerman, Martha Simkin, and Bernnie Steadham, have had since they were little girls. Whenever they are together, you can see their love for each other by the smiles on their faces. There is a closeness, comradery, and sisterhood, that is forever. Katie has had the privilege of being a part of a wonderful family, and parents, Vicki Jammerman and Thad Davidson, who taught her and her sisters to be loving, nurturing, and kind people. Their parents taught them good values and it shows in their lives.
When Katie met Keifer, it was love almost immediately. They were young, but they knew that they would become a couple, and grow a family…and that is exactly what they did. They two sweet people were meant to be together. Theirs is a match made in Heaven, and it grows more and more beautiful with each passing day. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My sister, Caryl Reed is my junior by three years, but since we are both grown up, the years really don’t make much difference. It’s the same with all my sisters really. We are all like-minded…the products of the good upbringing of our parents, Al and Collene Spencer. While our parents are in Heaven now, I think they would be very proud of their “prayer warrior” daughters. Our parents raised us to be believing Christians, and in these turbulent times, I can’t imagine living without God’s leading in my life. I know my sisters feel the same way.
Caryl currently lives in Rawlins, for a few more months. Then she and her husband Mike Reed will begin their new life on “the ranch” outside Casper. They have been working very hard to get their beautiful ranch up and running. They had a home built there, as well as a “barn” with a huge garage area to store their farming equipment in and a recreation/trophy room to house the trophies from Mike’s hunting trips. There is also an apartment above the “barn” which can be rented out or used as a guest house if needed. They have had their first two crops of hay already, and these were both sold to their neighbor, who was so excited to buy locally and very close to home. All in all, “the ranch” has been a very successful “side gig” for them.
Of course, the “side gig” part of the ranch isn’t the main reason they bought the ranch. Caryl and Mike love the atmosphere of the ranch. It is far enough outside of town to be quiet and peaceful. The views from their windows, especially from the dining room are simply stunning. Being there is the single most relaxing part of their lives today…as well as the most work, because on a working ranch, sitting for hours admiring the view of the mountains isn’t really an option for very long. Caryl and Mike are always improving the place. They basically built everything from scratch. There was a small house…that their friend and ranch hand lives in; and birthing buildings…that had to be torn down. Other than that, the ranch was raw land. Now is it beautiful, and a wonderful home for them.
Caryl has always been a country girl at heart. I lived in the country for about 20 years, but I can’t say that I was a country girl. As my sister, Alena Stevens once said, “You are a city girl. You just sleep in the country.” Hahahahaha!! So true, Alena. So true. Caryl, however, really always wanted to live on a ranch, with horses, and possibly a number of other animals, especially dogs. Caryl has always embraced everything country, and very soon, she will be living there full time. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As children, most of us have been on the receiving end of a form of “torture” that really isn’t exactly torture for most of us, but rather just good clean fun…provided that the torturer knows when to stop. My sisters and I were among the experts of our era…at least four of us were. The fifth sister, the middle one, Caryl Reed, was an “accomplished” victim…not because she chose to be the victim, but rather that she was the one we most loved to tickle. She was just such a great victim!! We would tickle her until she could hardly breathe, and then we would show some “mercy” and let her “live to be victimized another day.”
I always thought my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I were very clever at coming up with something totally new…the Tickle Torture, but it turns out that Tickle Torture is an ancient form of actual torture. Who knew? Certainly not my sisters or me. Our form of torture, barely resembles the ancient form, or the form that still exists to this day among military circles. As it turns out, the tickle torture began in 260 BC, as far as anyone can tell, when the Han Dynasty appears to have implemented the technique as a reliable punishment that didn’t leave marks. It was used by both the Ancient Romans and the Chinese. I have heard of some of the brutal forms of torture that the Romans used, and I suppose at first this seemed like one of the most humane forms of torture in their entourage. It seems that they would apply salt on the soles of feet and then have a goat lick it off. If you have ever had an animal lick your hand, you know that they usually have a rough tongue. At first, the torture must have been crazy in an extremely ticklish sort of way, and very likely the victim laughed until they could hardly breathe. As the torture continued, the rough tongue of the goat began to actually cause extreme pain…sometimes even lacerating the skin of the feet. The Chinese used this torture on the nobility because there was little evidence left behind and recovery was quick.
People have mixed feelings on tickling. Some like it, but some don’t. I have always been of the mind that if someone really hates it, it should not be done. Of course, the victims in those days had no choice, and I doubt if anyone really liked that kind of tickle torture. I guess that if a person really hates the tickle torture, they might be able to understand how some groups in history have come up with ways to turn it into an actual form of torture. In the actual torture, people might pass out, vomit, and some even died…at least it went that far in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. I suppose that for anyone who lived through any of that or knew someone who did, the tickle torture would not be funny at all. Still, tickle torture was not as bad as some of the other forms of torture used in ancient times, nor was it often as deadly as those other forms.
Actual Tickle torture is still in use today too, and not just in various households across the world. Special operations forces may actually use it in interrogations, as a method of non-lethal torture to be employed by governments to gain information from a suspect. I don’t know how they would actually get any information for a victim, unless their form of torture took a painful turn, but then I’m not an interrogator, so maybe they know something I don’t. What I do know is that my sisters and I had many happy sessions of applying the tickle torture to our sister, Caryl.
My niece, Dustie Masterson, like most mothers of mostly girls, and one boy, says that her “Bubba,” as she calls her son, Matthew befuddles her quite often with his “boy” ways. While I had two daughters, I had three grandsons and one granddaughter, all of who I was very involved with, so I can totally relate to Dustie’s dilemma with Matt. Dustie’s befuddlement comes from not being raised with a man in the house, so I’m sure that my nephew, her husband, Rob adds to that befuddlement too. He certainly did for me when he was a kid. As to Matt, he loves to “torture” his sisters, Raelynn and Anna, with whom he is the middle child. Boy torture can be enough to make the sisters want to “sell” their brother, as my granddaughter spent years wanting to do with her brother. Matt does torture his sisters, but if anyone outside of their family even thinks about even slightly upsetting the girls…look out!! Matt will take them out…seriously!! When he isn’t “torturing” his sisters, Matt is very into online gaming, and seriously competes with his buddies. He likes it so much, that he asked his Uncle Dave Balcerzak…our family computer guru, to build him a gaming computer. Dave did a great job, and Dustie tells me “That thing is awesome.”
Dustie and Rob really count on Matthew for a lot. The family recently got a kitten named Pita. Pita is very small and got under Rob’s foot while he was getting ready for work. He stepped on her very badly. Rob had to go to work, but Pita needed to get to their vet in Glenrock, it was an emergency. Dustie ran downstairs and woke Matthew up, saying, “We gotta go now.” He didn’t argue, but got right up and they left to make the 20 minute drive. When they arrived, Dustie realized two things. She had forgotten shoes, and Matt, remembering his shoes, forgot his shirt. She borrowed his shoes, and they went in. Matt had held the kitten the entire way, keeping both the kitten and his mom calm, praying and telling his mom that Pita would be ok. By God’s grace Pita lived through the ordeal.
Matt loves to cook. Dustie is going to have to go to Rock Springs to help with another store for a few days, and Matt is going to do all the cooking. He already has the entire menu planned out. Since schools closed because of Covid-19 Matt walks to Dustie’s work just about everyday. The girls at work love seeing him (and so does his mom). Matt loves to experiment with wild hair colors, and the girls at Dustie’s work love to see what color it is now. Dustie says that Matt is very particular about his appearance. He likes the name brands and when we go clothing shopping, while he gets the same amount as the girls for shopping, he always chooses to spend it on a few items. As Matt grow up, he has also become very protective toward his mom. If he thinks something is heavy, he carries it. If she is headed out after dark, he goes with her. He has grown up to be quite like his dad…protective over those he cares about. Dustie is having to fight the urge to always shield him and allow him learn to shield those around him. He is becoming quite a young man. Today is Matt’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As kids, my sisters and I probably took our parents for granted, but when we look at how hard they worked to make life great for us, it almost brings tears to my eyes. My parents, Al and Collene Spencer worked very hard to give us a good life. They made sure that we got to take vacations…always wanting to make sure we saw this great nation we live in. And it wasn’t just the vacations. It was the kind of home they made for us. No matter what, we always knew that we were all equally loved. We knew that love had nothing to do with whether or not we made mistakes, or even if we got into trouble. In those days, children were spanked to teach proper manners. I know that many people these days disagree with that type discipline, but it was the era we lived in. In those days, children knew that if the neighbor told you to quit tearing something up, you had better quit. There was a measure of respect for our elders and those in authority. I miss that in our world today. Although, I live in a neighborhood, where most of the kids are respectful. We are blessed to live where we do.
Mom and Dad met through her sister, Virginia Beadle, and my mom told me that it was love at first sight. She said that she tole herself that he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. Mom was still a school girl, but as soon as she could, she and Dad were married. Dad was older than mom by twelve years, a common thing in those days. He had fought in World War II, and was ready to settle down and have a family. They married and moved to Superior, Wisconsin as part of their honeymoon. My older sister, Cheryl Masterson arrived ten months after their marriage, and their family was started. I followed almost two years later, and we moved to Casper, Wyoming a couple of years later. Caryl Reed followed three years after me, Alena Stevens two years after Caryl, and Allyn Hadlock two years after Alena. Our family was complete. Dad was always outnumbered, but his girls were his little princesses. He was always patient, understanding of the needs of girls…understanding girls was a necessity for Dad.
Mom and Dad were together for 54 years of marriage before Dad’s passing on December 12, 2007. Mom followed Dad on February 22, 2015, and now they are together again in Heaven. I’m sure they are enjoying Heaven and being together again. We miss them, but I can’t wish them back here. They would be horrified at what our world has become. Instead, we will go to join them someday, because Heaven is wonderful and we will all be happy together again, when we join them there. Today would have been Mom and Dad’s 67th Wedding Anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you very much.
My grand nephew, Bowen Parmely is the only son of my nephew, Eric Parmely and his wife Ashley. Being the only boy, with three sisters can be a bit daunting sometimes I’m sure, but Bowen is very loved by his sisters. Having only sisters myself, I know how overwhelming girls can be. We all have our own ideas about how things should go, and an easy going little boy could get pushed around by so many girls.
Life on the farm is wonderful for Bowen. He loves the animals they raise, and really can’t think of anywhere he would rather be. I think his favorite place on the farm is seated on the back of a horse, preferably eating his popsicle. Of course, he is just as happy holding he kitty or playing with the dogs the family has. For most little boys, living on a farm with lots of animals, and plenty of hiding places in the hay required to feed the animals would be the life. Of course, having two of his sisters be older than he is, makes the many fun games they play together possible. There is a lot to be said for the imagination of big sisters. Sometimes I wonder, however, how often Bowen find himself playing games that seem a bit girly to him, and thinking, “Boy, oh boy, I would love to have a friend to play with that is a boy, who would play the kind of games I want to.” Maybe not, but it seems logical to me. Boys are wired differently, and we girls just don’t think the same way most of the time. The good news is that Bowens parents are not prissy people, and neither are the girls, so things are “all good” for the most part.
The family loves to get out and go hiking, skiing, and riding their bicycles…all things that most boys love to do, and Bowen is no exception. He is totally in his element outside. It doesn’t matter if its playing in the dirt or mud, running with the dogs, riding the horses, or riding his bicycle, Bowen is an active boy with lots of energy. He is, after all, his daddy’s boy, and wants nothing more than to be just like his dad. What boy doesn’t, really? Still, he loves his mommy, and is a great joy for her…as he is for everyone who knows him. Bowen having a little sister has made him sensitive to the needs of the little ones too. At Christmas, when our whole family got together, I watched as he pushed my great granddaughter around in a stroller, the two of them having a fabulous time. He didn’t even expect her to push him, probably because she is younger, but rather, he was just happy to make her smile, and she in turn loved playing with her cousin. I could see that Bowen has a heart for these girls, older or younger. I think that will make him a very wonderful gentleman when he grows up, and really, makes him quite the little gentleman right now. Today is Bowen’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For many people, starting the new year off right means making New Year’s resolutions, and planning to make big changes in whatever areas they don’t like about themselves and their lives. That is a noble idea, even though most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by February, but that is not how my family started the new year…nor did we finish the last one like most families either. That was because of my mom, Collene Spencer. It wasn’t that Mom did anything to make the new year extra special…she was a typical mom who loved her family, and worked hard to give us a happy life, but then so did most parents. It was the fact that Mom’s birthday was January 1st, that started the year off special…and ended the prior year in a special way too.
My dad, Al Spencer loved our mom so much. She was his princess, his “Doll,” and he was always happiest when they were together. Dad worked hard to make our lives, and especially the life of his “Doll,” the best life anyone could ever have. And he succeeded very well. We were a very happy family, and New Year’s, both eve and day, were very special. Our year ended with a New Year’s Eve party…one that we kids got to attend too. It was a gathering of friends and family at our house, when we were little. Many parents go out and get a sitter for their kids on New Year’s Eve, but we lived where the party was, and we were welcome, as were our cousins, and later our friends. Dad never wanted his kids to be out in the world on New Year’s Eve, because of the obvious dangers of drinking and driving. We always got to party, and we were always safe at home. The party was about the end of the year and the beginning of the new year, but mostly it was about our mom. This was her celebration, and our dad always made it an awesome one for his “Doll.”
New Year’s Day always included a big birthday dinner for Mom, and of course, birthday cake and her presents. Our year always started of with a big celebration. While many people used the day as a way to get over their hangover, and mostly sleep the day away, our day was filled with joy, laughter, and fun. That was because of the great love our dad had for Mom, for us, and for making our lives fun. The memories my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I, as well as our families, have from all those New Year’s celebrations over the years will always warm our hearts. Mom and Dad are in Heaven now, but we do our best to continue the tradition in their honor. Today would have been Mom’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much. We will see you and Dad again soon.