summer

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My grand-niece, Katie Balcerzak is the mother of a sweet little three year old girl, who keeps her and her husband, Keifer Balcerzak on their toes. This summer has been a busy one, with little Reece playing t-ball for the first time. As most parents of a new athlete, especially a young one, can attest, learning the sport can have its challenges. Reece seems to have no trouble hitting the ball, but doesn’t seem to understand that she is supposed to run to the base after hitting the ball…no matter how much her mommy tries to tell her by yelling from the sidelines. I guess nobody told Reece that she had to run when she signed up. I don’t blame Reece. I don’t want to run either. I know that Katie and Keifer will get Reece lined up on the way the game is played, but in the meantime, they are having a good time watching her.

Katie is a great mom, and along with Keifer, they have raised a very smiley girl. I don’t think Reece’s goofy side just comes naturally. I think there is a lot of giggling, laughing, and goofing off that goes on in that household. That makes sense really. Since Reece’s premature birth and long hospital stay, bringing her home was a time of celebration, and celebrate they have. Everything is a good reason to laugh, and Reece has embraced that part of her parents. I think that if parents can give their children the gift of laughter, they have given them the best gift ever, and she has blessed them because life is great. They have their baby girl making life funny.

Katie and Keifer have been a couple…like forever. They were kids really, when they met. The have been married for just over six years. They are perfect for each other, and their love is strong. While dealing with the premature birth of their daughter, they were both a rock to each other. Any kind of problem with your child’s health is a tough thing to go through. Some end well, and others don’t. The couple needed to stay strong for each other, even when they feel like falling apart. Katie and Keifer did that for each other, and when Reece was able to come home, victory was theirs. I don’t know if that victory is why they named her Reece Victoria or not, and I suspect it was because of her grandma, who is also Victoria. Nevertheless, victory was theirs, and they are very blessed to have their precious, victorious, goofy little girl. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Aurora Hadlock is such a sweet, happy girl. She has a zest for life, and most often sees the good in everything. Her positive outlook on life always keeps her upbeat. This year with it’s long Covid Summer has given people lots of extra time to spend together, and when the quarantine lifted, the family began doing a lot of camping and four wheeling. The family has traveled to the Black Hills twice this year, and Aurora’s favorite site is Mount Rushmore…a favorite of mine too. The Black Hills is a family favorite place.

Aurora wants to be a police officer when she grows up. She comes by this decision naturally, because her grandpa, Chris Hadlock is a retired Casper Police officer, and her uncle, Jason Sawdon is a Wyoming Highway Patrolman. Being a police officer is a noble calling, and her desire to help people is inspiring. She wants to keep the public safe, and I really respect that. She may only be 9 years old, but this career decision has been with her for a long time. She had the opportunity recently to sit on the motorcycle of a Casper Police officer, and she was so excited about it.

Aurora is very excited about going back to school. Like many children, who were thrust into unexpected online learning, Aurora did not like it at all. The coming year has left her a little bit apprehensive, however, because her big brother, Ethan will not be in her school. He has moved on to middle school. Another missing face is will be that of her great aunt, Alena Steven, who retired at the end of last term. Nevertheless, Aurora is tough, and she will tackle it head on. I’m sure that by the end of the first week, she will be totally fine with the coming year.

Aurora is an artist, and wants to start her own business, selling her paintings and drawings. This is also a goal she comes by naturally, as her mom, Chelsea, who has a business of her own selling jewelry of her own design at the Comic Con Conventions. Starting your own business is not an easy thing to do, so having the experience of her mom and her successful business will be a great help. Aurora’s dad, Ryan has been helping her with a special project…but that is not finished yet, so I’m not going to give it away. That will be a story for next year, and one I am looking forward to sharing. Today is Aurora’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely met her partner, Brian Cratty, I remember thinking about how quiet he was. I suppose it isn’t surprising to have someone be a little quiet when meeting a large family like ours is. It takes a brave person to walk into a big family for the first time. I know, because I’ve been there. So when Jennifer brought Brian to meet the family I felt a little bit sorry for him. It’s sort of like standing before a crowd of hundreds of people to give your first public speech, and you’re 13 years old. Once you get to know Brian, you can see the gentle, kind man that Jennifer fell in love with.

Brian and Jennifer are soulmates. They have the same interests, and are going in the same direction. They love spending time on the mountain, and the time of year doesn’t matter a bit. For them, Summer is no different than Winter, when it comes to how much they like it that is. I personally don’t care for Winter…in any location. I love the mountains, but in the Summer, when I can hike. Brian and Jennifer, and most of their family, love to ski, so the mountain in the Winter is great for them too. Brian likes to ski, and hike, but one of his favorite activities in mountain biking. He gets on his bicycle and hits the trails around their cabin on the mountain. She might not see him for an hour at a time, because he is out there in his own world.

Brian has been such a blessing to Jennifer’s family, and to the rest of our family. The little kids love him, and he is very good to them. He fits in well with all of us, and while he is a quiet man, he can carry on a great conversation with the best of ’em. We all love having him around, and he is a great partner to Jennifer, and grandpa to the babies. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg has a list of things she likes that might make many people feel very tired, but Kelli is someone who is on the go a lot. In her own words, Kelli likes “Music, traveling, fitness, animals, and the outdoors. Fresh air, trees, blue skies, summer, and hiking.” Anyone who knows her, know that truer words were never spoken. Kelli likes to stay active, and doesn’t like to waste a moment of her free time. If there’s a concert nearby, Kelli and her husband, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg might jump in the pickup and head for wherever it is being held. They both really enjoy going to concerts.

If there isn’t a concert, Kelli and Barry might be found on Casper Mountain, cross country skiing in the winter, or hiking in the summer. Anyone who knows Kelli very well, knows that she prefers Summer over Winter…every time. And there are a lot of us who totally agree with her whole heartedly on that one. For Kelli, as for many of us, Winter brings with it, a little bit of…depression, for lack of a better word. It’s not that she is depressed, but that the weather is depressing. Because Kelli likes to hike, she feels sad when the winter months hit. For a hiker, cross country skiing really can’t compare to hiking. At least, that’s the way I feel about it.

Kelli loves animals, and her dog, Scout is her current “baby.” Scout can be a trial for Kelli, always wanting to be lazy, when she wants to be active. Nevertheless, he makes up for it with his goofy ways. There is a lot to be said for a dog making his masters laugh. Scout refuses to “adult,” as Kelli would say, so his goofiness is always inspiring laughter in his masters. Scout came to live with Kelli and Barry as a puppy, after their long time dog, Dakota passed away. Scout has lots of potential, but lets face it…right now Scout is no Dakota. I know that Kelli and Barry still miss Dakota very much.

Kelli and Barry have a place out east of Casper, Wyoming. It’s home, but Kelli would love to have a couple of donkeys on it. They are one of her favorite animals. Still, she loves most animals. She has a real heart for them. She loves their antics, their cuddles, and yes, even their naughtiness. I hope that someday Kelli gets her donkeys. I think that would be very cool. Today is Kelli’s birthday Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Chelsea Hadlock, wife of my nephew, Ryan Hadlock, has spent a number of years being a great stay-at-home mom, raising their kids, Ethan and Aurora. She is a great mom and both of their kids are just as sweet as they can be and very well mannered. Chelsea and Ryan have done a wonderful job with the kids. Chelsea and the kids are hanging out this summer, gardening, going to the summer movies and making a couple of trips to Loveland to see their grandma, Debbie Moss. Chelsea and Ryan get together with the Hadlock family for barbecues and dinners at each other’s houses. It’s a great part of summer. Chelsea makes an excellent potato salad and a super yummy dip which the family always ask her to make. I know from experience Chelsea is an excellent cook, and we have all been treated to her cooking and believe me, it is excellent.

Now, Chelsea has decided to get her real estate license, so she is studying very hard for her test. She will make an excellent realtor. My sister, Allyn Hadlock thinks real estate may just end up being Chelsea’s niche! I can see that. Chelsea is a very social person, and she knows houses and decorating too. Chelsea and Ryan are going to buy my sister and brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock’s house when they move to their new home. Ryan and Chelsea are hoping she will be able to be the realtor when they sell their own house. This is going to be a really good thing for their family. Real estate is a great career move.

Chelsea is such an asset to our family. In the 11 years since Chelsea joined our family, she has shown a willingness to help out wherever she’s needed and she is a much loved member of the family. Chelsea has a beautiful smile, and always makes those around her feel good. She has always want to be a mom, and have a family, and so her own family has been a dream come true. For my sister and brother-in-law, they couldn’t have asked for a better person to be their only daughter-in-law. We all love Chelsea, and we couldn’t be happier to have her in our family. Today is Chelsea’s birthday. Happy birthday Chelsea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Many people think of Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer. They plan barbecues and trips with family because they have a three day weekend. Memorial Day, however, is really a day to remember the soldiers who gave their lives fighting for our freedoms in battle. While the work of every service member, whether in battle or in peacetime, is vital, and deserves recognition, Memorial Day is not the proper day to honor every veteran…Veterans Day is the day to honor veterans who came home from war, or who served in peacetime. Many people may consider that a technicality, but when you remember that the military is an institution of protocol and discipline. Things are always done in the proper order and for the proper reasons. That is what makes the military the disciplined, capable, and highly skilled organization that it is. Of course, to those of us who have never served, there is a feeling of wanting to honor all of our service members, and we don’t see the harm in adding those who weren’t killed in action, to the same memorial as those who didn’t make it home, but we would be wrong.

I have been listening to a book about the 8th Air Force in World War II. As the narrator tells the story of a bomber or fighter plane that will not be returning to base, and a crew who had a one way ticket to the war, I find myself thinking about how my dad, Allen Spencer must have felt each time the B-17 bomber, on which he was a top turret gunner, took off on another bomb run. The feeling in his gut as the plane took off, the prayers he was praying for himself and every other crew member on his and every other plane, the sickening feeling as the planes went down or exploded, and the long moments waiting and watching to see how many parachutes emerged from the stricken planes. I know that my dad and every other soldier who returned from the war, lost buddies over there. I don’t think you could ever forget those lost ones, and I don’t think you could see your way clear to honoring the living with the lost.

I know a number of soldiers, both retired and discharged, as well as some who are currently serving in the armed forces. These people know the meaning of each of the military holidays, and in fact, it was one of them who first told me the difference between the military holidays. Once you know the difference, you really don’t feel right about celebrating the wrong way, because each holiday has its proper purpose. This memorial Day, I honor all of our fallen soldiers of any war, and I pray for the loved ones they left behind when it was known that they got just a one way ticket to war. Your loved one was a great warrior, and you have every reason to be very proud. Honoring our fallen soldiers on this Memorial Day. Rest In Peace.

My niece, Amanda Reed is one of the busiest people I know. She never seems to stop, and sometimes I wonder where she gets all the energy to do all the activities she and her family do. Besides working all day at the Rawlins National Bank, her evenings and weekends are spent with a great group of friends. They go every weekend…from skiing in winter, to boating in summer, 4 wheelers, motorcycles, and snowmobiles…they are on the go all the time. Life is definitely not passing them by. They embrace life every day.

Amanda and her partner, Sean Mortensen are the parents of a beautiful daughter, Jaydn Mortensen, who at 14 is a wonderful equestrian, and has won lots of awards for her abilities. Her parents and grandparents encourage her every step of the way, and attend all of her competitions. In addition to that, Jaydn goes on all the family outings. They never exclude her. I suppose that as she gets older and has a job, that may change, but I don’t think it will be much of a change. Amanda and her family are very dedicated to each other, and they enjoy spending time together, so that will always be a part of their lives. For Amanda and Sean, Jaydn is their whole heart. They couldn’t love her more, if they tried.

Amanda and Sean are very happy together, and they are always headed in the same direction. That is one of the keys to a life-long relationship. They enjoy being together, and the like the same things. That brings harmony to a home. Amanda and Sean love to laugh and they do things that make other people laugh too. That makes them fun to be around, and if you ask their friends, you will see that they all agree. Amanda and Sean are very social people and they love to entertain. The spend time at the family cabin in all seasons, because there is lots of room for all their activities. I’ve never met a more active bunch. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Jenny Spethman has such a sweet spirit. She loves the Lord, and loves to study God’s word. Her time spent in the word has given her a wisdom that not many people have. Her favorite time to fellowship with God is early in the morning, before her family is out of bed yet. Because of that, she sees some amazing mornings. Jenny loves the sunrise, and being awake while the moon is still bright in the sky. I think quiet time spent looking at God’s amazing skies, makes Jenny feel closer to God.

Jenny’s life is full and busy. From sports for her three sons, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, to dance classes and shopping with her daughter, Aleesia, Jenny and her husband, Steve are always on the go. I think that the amount of activity this family participates in, would be enough to exhaust most people, but they just keep going. Jenny and Steve want their children to be active, and to be able to enjoy the sports they like. They want them to broaden their horizons and to be able to become the people they want to in the future.

Jenny and Steve love to engage their family in lots of outdoor activities. From motorcycle riding in the summer to snowmobiling in the winter, they have shown their kids that the weather doesn’t have to hamper the fun. They love to go camping and swimming at the lake, and on the mountain too. They often take their kids out to practice shooting, and learning gun safety. The boys love to go hunting with their dad, and once each one has passed the hunter safety course, they are allowed to hunt too. Jenny and Aleesia love to have their girl time outings, and shopping is often the go to plan of the day. With all that activity, you might say that there is never a dull moment. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When my husband, Bob and I went to Alaska a few years ago, I was hoping against hope that we would be able to see the Aurora Borealis. The likelihood was slim, of course, because they are most often visible in the winter and we were there in the summer. The Aurora Borealis is caused by solar flares, which occur when pent up magnetic energy on the sun’s surface is unleashed in blasts of radiation and charged particles. The resulting explosions are equivalent to the force of millions of hydrogen bombs, and the solar winds they create have the ability to wreak havoc on Earth’s atmosphere. That was precisely what happened in late August and early September of 1859, when the planet was bombarded by the largest solar storm on record. The so-called “Carrington Event” was named for the British astronomer, Richard Carrington, and it made the skies glow with shimmering, multi-colored auroras as far south as Hawaii. In Colorado, it was so bright that one witness reported people “could easily read common print” at night. And that was in August and September!! Why couldn’t I have been around to see that one?

Most of us have seen pictures of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The scene is unforgettable offering an entrancing, dramatic, magical display of dancing lights that are varying in color and fascinate all who see it. It’s hard to believe that an explosion on the sun that sends out radioactive magnetic particles into the atmosphere is responsible for this dazzling natural phenomenon. Of course it is quite complicated. If all those particles were able to just hit the Earth, the event would be disastrous. “The aurora is caused by the interaction of high-energy particles (usually electrons) with neutral atoms in earth’s upper atmosphere. This process is similar to the discharge in a neon lamp, or the fluorescence of a television screen. The strongest auroras are quite bright, comparable to moonlight. At the center of the sun, the temperature is 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). As the temperature on its surface rises and falls, the sun boils and bubbles. Particles escape from the star from the sunspot regions on the surface, hurtling particles of plasma, known as solar wind, into space. It takes these winds around 40 hours to reach Earth. When they do, they can cause the dramatic displays known as the aurora borealis.” However it all happens, is pretty much irrelevant to most of us, we just like the beauty of the Aurora Borealis, and we will continue to be mesmerized by them.

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg is a lot like me when it comes to Winter’s cold…we don’t like it. It interferes with a lot of the things we want to do, like hiking, long beautiful nights, green trees and grass, and most of all…warmth. Winter is hard for a Summer girl. It’s almost like an invasion of privacy…blasting into your life, seemingly overnight, and while we usually have some warning…it really needs to be about ten years longer!!

Kelli is the type of person who really doesn’t like to have situations, circumstances, or seasons to interfere with her plans. I think we can all relate to that. Hiking is difficult to do in the winter, so my plans get waylaid in the winter, but Kelli and her husband, Barry go snowshoeing, so I guess her plans aren’t quite as waylaid as mine. Nevertheless, things like icy roads are a huge nuisance. They make it hard to travel and everything takes longer. I think she and I would both just stay home in front of a fireplace with a nice cup of hot cocoa…if we could.

Kelli loves music and concerts…Country music, of course…although she might like some of the other genres too. She and Barry often travel to go to different concerts, which is nice, because it lets them see the sights along the way too. Their concert tours have taken them to lots of great places, and with the concerts, they had something fun to do during the trip.

Kelli and Barry have hiked in a number of places, including Casper Mountain, of course. Kelli’s mom, Mary Wages runs a campground in Colorado, so they go see her and get some hiking in there too, but wherever Kelli and Barry travel, they try to find a trail to hike on. Hiking is such a great pastime, because you get to see places that you just can’t see from a car. You are out in nature and the fresh air, and sometimes you even get to see some amazing wildlife…when they aren’t hiding from you that is. Today is Kelli’s birthday Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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