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Kevin 5Of all the birthdays my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen has had, I have a feeling that this one will be the most bittersweet. This will be the first birthday in eighteen years that has passed without seeing his son, Chris, in person. I’m sure he knew that was going to happen at some point, but when you have children, you don’t think of them moving out until it happens, and then you wish it wouldn’t. Of course Kevin and my daughter, Corrie want their son to succeed in college, but it is on the special days that you find that you feel just a little bit…no, a whole lot lonely. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Kevin and Chris have worked side by side for some time now. That is going to make work very lonely for Kevin. Kevin and Chris also loved to work on their cars together, and on the boat that they bought this summer. Doing all those things together tends to make two people very close, and that is how it was with Kevin and Chris. It is going to take some getting used to for them to feel ok with this new arrangement, and that will take Kevin 2time. I wish there was an easier fix for them, but there is simply no easy solution. You just have to wait it out.

Kevin is such a family man. I have watched him and Corrie raising their boys to be good men, and I am so proud of the training they have given the boys. Part of raising a child is to help them become independent, and that is the point that Chris is at now. Because of his good upbringing, I know that he will do well. Of course, they still have Josh at home, and it seems that there are seasons for all things. I know that during this time, Kevin and Josh will become even closer than they were before, as they all struggle to adjust to the new living arrangements their family has taken on. That’s what life is all about…adjusting to the constant changes that happen. Nothing ever stays the same, and while we don’t like some of them, changes are important too. And in reality, we could not see what great people we have raised if they never grow up and go out in the world to make their own way, Kevin 3and live their own life. Nevertheless, as a mom, I know exactly how Kevin’s heart is feeling…broken and lonely.

Everything will work out for everyone in the Petersen family, and in the days to come, their joy will return…even if they are changed because of the changes in their family’s life. Chris will finish school for the year and come back home and they will have the summer months and he will come home on weekends too, and they will rejoice. For Kevin, I just hope that he will find a little bit of joy today, on his birthday, and that is ends up being a good day. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a good day!! We love you!!

FireworksWhen we think of Independence Day, most of us think of fireworks, picnics, and a day off from work. What I wonder about though, is if most of us know why we shoot off fireworks on this day. The answer may surprise you, because many people did not know this. Even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams had a vision of a huge celebration taking place in the city square. He wrote a letter to Abigail Adams on July3, 1776. It said that our Declaration of Independence should be commemorated with “Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.” The first Independence Day holiday was celebrated on July 4, 1777. On that day, at that time in history, the city was beautifully illuminated. That day felt to him like a day that should be filled with patriotism from a grateful nation to its freedom fighters. And, I believe that is what many people think today, but I also think many people forget about the sacrifice that was made so long ago.

According to some historians, the first fireworks were invented in India, but the first fireworks came to the West by way of China. Most if the early fireworks were simply repurposed military munitions, used to entertain rather than to frighten or kill the enemy, which is fitting in a way, because it was those same military munitions that brought about our freedom from England. From those ancient beginnings, came rockets, by stuffing a container with gunpowder and leaving a hole in one end for propulsion. These were called “ground-rats” or “fire rats” and they were highly unpredictable. That made them somewhat less effective, but as anyone who has ever watch a modern day display go a little haywire, they were also pretty entertaining.

So, why do most people love the fireworks today? Is it because of the great technology that American Flagsallows it to be synchronized with the music, thereby adding to the festive feel? Is it the continuing patriotism in this country? Or is it simply the splendor of the display…the bright colors and the flashing light show? Well, I suppose it is really a combination if all three of those things. We are a people who love our traditions, and I believe that we are still a very patriotic nation. And, I think we love the tradition that was started by John Adams in 1777. It make us feel patriotic and allows us to honor all our military men and women who have fought through the years to keep our nation free. And really, being a free nation is still what it’s all about. That is the thing we must not forget. Happy Independence Day America!!!

Allen & William Spencer in wagonWhen I look at the pictures of my dad and his brother, my Uncle Bill, I can see how much they loved each other. They may have tried to look tough, but there was a lot of brotherly love between them. They were best friends, playmates, but most of all brothers. The way Uncle Bill took care of his little brother, and the way my dad looked up to his big brother…you could see it in their eyes. They were the two middle children with their older sister Laura, being ten years older than Uncle Bill, and their sister, Ruth being 2 years younger than my dad. Because they were together and just the two of them, except for their sister, Laura’s care, and because Ruth was too little to play for a couple of years, the boys were very close….like a lot of brothers are.

Through their young years, the boys worked together on the farm, and in several other work ideas they came up with. They shared a love for guns, dynamite, and cars…you know, the usual guy stuff. I know that when their little sister, Ruth came on the scene they were good Dad & Uncle Bill with fishfriends with her too, and she was most likely a tomboy because of them…a matter of self defense, if you know what I mean. Because Aunt Laura was so much older than the rest of the children, I think they must have looked to her as more of a babysitter than a playmate…although she was great when it came to being pulled around on a sled or in the wagon.

As they grew up, they took several trips together to go work the harvest in North Dakota, among other things. I’m sure they had a great time just hanging out together, and finding work and places to stay was fun and challenging. They had an especially challenging time on one trip, when the only place to stay was at the local jail. I’m sure that was a bit odd for both of them. They had to be treated the same as any other prisoner. They took all their belongings, and searched them, and had to know all about their background, but they let them stay on the bunks covered with strips of steel and cardboard…not particularly comfortable, but the place was warm and dry, so they were grateful.
Uncle Bill's visit
On their last visit together, my dad was not in good health. We weren’t sure the brothers would ever get to be together again, but my cousin Bill Spencer and his family made the trip so that we could make it happen. It was such a sweet reunion for them. They talked a lot, played cards, and in general, just spent time together. We were all so grateful to Bill for bring his dad, my Uncle Bill out so they could have one last visit. My dad passed away in 2007, and thankfully Uncle Bill has dementia, so that is something he doesn’t have to know. The miles between them make it possible to keep him in the dark a bit, because I know it would be very sad for him to know that, and sad for us to tell him.

James- Tall, Dark, and HandsomeMy grand nephew, James Renville is the typical tall, dark, and handsome type of guy, who makes the girls absolutely swoon and wish he would take notice of them. I’m told that somehow, James doesn’t know that he is cute, and since he is a little bit shy, he basically leaves all those girls sadly wishing that he would just ask them out. I’m sure he does notice them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he does anything about it.

It’s funny, in my memory files, I can still see James as a little Elvis look alike who was always very much into swords and ninja stuff. It James and friends in Virginia Beachis so hard to believe that he is almost grown up. Next year he will be graduating from high school and his kid years will be behind him forever. I don’t know what he plans to do after high school, but he has another year to figure that out, so I’m sure he will get all of that together by the time he graduates.

James has always been a quiet kid, which tells me that he has a lot of thoughts in his head that he is concentrating on. That reminds me a bit of myself. Your mind is always running. It’s almost entertaining all by itself. It’s like it sits there and explores all the possibilities there might be in life. Who knows maybe James will Toni and Jamestake after his Great Aunt Caryn and start writing. Time will tell. For now, James is spending his summer working at The Gap and hanging out with friends and family.

My mom had always wanted to have a grandchild who was born on her dad’s birthday, but none of her kids managed to accomplish that. Alena came the closest with her son, Garrett, but still missed it by one day. My niece, Toni finally got the job done when she gave Mom a great grandson, who was born on Grandpa Byer’s birthday. That was quite exciting for Mom. Today is James’ 17th birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have an awesome day!! We love you!!

Virginia ByerMy aunt, Virginia Byer Beadle was always a beautiful girl, with lovely hair…and this was according to anyone who knew her. From the time she was a young girl and on into her golden years, that fact has not changed. It was quite likely the first thing people noticed about her. Her hair, at least until it turned gray, was a jet black color, and always in curls. I don’t know if her curls are natural or not, but I don’t remember ever seeing her without them.

One time, her sister, my Aunt Evelyn, and Aunt Virginia were supposed to clean up the house, but Aunt Evelyn had been babysitting the night before…all night, and the baby was fussy. As is typical with siblings when they are young, Aunt Virginia wanted to know why her sister was sleeping rather than helping. When she was told that Aunt Evelyn had babysat all night, Aunt Virginia said, “So then if I have a job, you are saying that I won’t have to do housework either?” Now I have to assume that it was Grandma that she was talking to, but the answer was, “No, you wouldn’t.” I don’t know what they expected to happen, but needless to say, Aunt Virginia went out and got herself a job, and she had one from that day on.

When the time came for Aunt Virginia to learn to drive…well, the family got a real education on just how you didn’t want to drive. It seems that every time Aunt Virginia backed out of a parking spot, she would neglect to look behind her and in the end hit probably half a dozen Virginia Muriel Byercars. My mom didn’t say how much damage or how the cars got fixed, or even if the police were called, but she did say that every time Aunt Virginia got behind the wheel the rest of the block cringed. Personally, I wouldn’t park behind her, but that’s just me. Eventually she figured it out, and I haven’t heard that she is such a bad driver now.

After Aunt Virginia got married and moved to her apartment, my mom took to going over and spending the night of and on. In fact, she stayed there quite a lot. It would be those nights spent at her sister’s apartment that would precipitate the marriage of my parents, because my dad was a friend of Aunt Virginia and Uncle Jim’s. For her part in our parents meeting, my sisters and I will always be grateful. Today is Aunt Virginia’s 84th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Virginia!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

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.

JoshAt some point in the life of every family, there is only one driver left who is unable to drive themselves to the places they need to go. In our family, my grandson, Josh Petersen is our last non-driver. At this point, especially if your 15 year old is working, transportation starts to become a real problem. Everyone else in the family is working too. Schedules are pretty much completely opposite for this child from all the others in the family, or at least part of the time.

Enter Grandma. Fortunately for my daughter, Corrie I don’t have to be to work until nine in the morning and I can leave for a few minutes to go get him, and Josh never has to be to work before nine in the morning. Otherwise, things could get really bad. Josh’s work is a little too far from the house for him to walk, so his schedule impacts everyone. It isn’t that we are upset because we have to take him places, but just that we suddenly see a serious need for him to be able to drive himself.

It is an odd position we suddenly find ourselves in. Who ever wishes their child was older? Nevertheless, at this point, we do. This boy needs to be able to drive himself places, and it’s only a few months we are wishing away. Still, I find myself thinking, if Josh is 16 years old, then the summer is over, and this last winter was so awful that I don’t want that either. It truly is a tough position we find ourselves in. When I think about it, Josh should still be that little boy he was such a short time ago, and I can’t believe he is almost ready to start driving by himself. But, the other side of that coin is that he has a job, and it’s summer now, so he can work during the day, so that messes with the ride situation a lot more. What do you do?
Josh
The summer will turn to fall so fast, that we will wish we had this time back, and that is the sad thing. Josh will be driving himself everywhere he needs to go, and we will think where have all the years gone. It is a natural progression of time and life, and I am always sad when those childhood years have passed. So, for this summer at least, we will take him where we need to and be thankful for the little bit of time we have left before he will be so much more independent and we find ourselves wondering where he is at any given moment. Because we will no longer have that full knowledge like we had when he was a little boy.

Benjamin F DeGood & Mary Martha Nickell DeGood family Taken at Humansville, Missouri 1891aI have often wondered why people didn’t smile in pictures taken many years ago. It didn’t really make sense to me, because it seems that most people were happy with their lives. So why not show that they were happy in the pictures that were taken to remember them. Weren’t these pictures were intended to show their descendants who they were and tell a little bit about their lives? I always thought that it was a bit sad that there were so few smiles. And I have wondered why people didn’t tell their kids to smile, but upon further thought, and a look at the picture of my in-laws with all the grandchildren they had at that time, I think maybe I now have a little bit better understanding of it. Maybe it wasn’t totally intended at all, or maybe it was. I suppose we will never know.

I was there when these newer pictures were taken, of course, so I know for sure what was going on. We had taken pictures of several families, and multiple other group shots. We had been through the fidgety kids, the bouts of tears, the laughing at the ones in tears, and we were past nap time for some of these kids. We did our very best to get them to smile for the camera, and most of the time they did pretty good. Nevertheless, by the time we got to this picture, we were pretty much over the picture taking, and no one was doing any smiling. Sometimes there is just simply nothing you can do about a bad picture, except to chalk it up to experience, and move on. You can hope that the next time pictures are taken, everyone will be in a better mood, but quite likely you will find that there will be at least one or two who will feel the same way next time as they did this time.Tired of Posing

Looking back in those old pictures, I thought maybe it wasn’t a matter of collectively deciding not to smile. Maybe they had work to be done on the farm, and they didn’t really want to be there taking pictures. Or maybe they just hated being all dressed up in their Sunday best on a week day, or maybe the kids were fussy and needed a nap, and maybe they were just tired. I mean, after all, everything was a lot harder then. They didn’t have the modern conveniences we have today. Maybe they were just too tired to smile!

Josh track 2014 2As my grandchildren get closer to graduation from high school, I am beginning to realize just how much I am going to miss all their activities. As little ones, there were the school plays, awards ceremonies, and track day, and they might also play basketball or soccer. Then in summer they might play baseball or some other sport. By the time they were in middle school, the plays were gone, but there was still the occasional concert, basketball, track, and summer baseball. I began to realize that we were at the end of that era after Josh graduated to middle school. Things were very different now. By this time, all three of the other grandchildren had decided that they didn’t want to be in sports in school anymore, although, Chris and Caalab like to play softball on their team from work in the summer, and that is fun to watch too. Still, mostly they were busy with their jobs, studies, and plans for their futures.

I realize that if I want to see much of the school activities anymore, I will need to attend as many of Josh’s track meets as I can. I always liked to go to them, but this years has been more difficult. There were more of them that were during the day and during the work week. Nevertheless, I have been able to make a couple of them. I think it is sad that the closer I get to having no more of these activities, the fewer I am able to get to. I know that I will miss these when they are over.

Today was one of the times I was able to get to Josh’s meet. I really love to watch Josh run. He does best at the long races, and I think that those kids who do the 800 meter and 1600 meter races are to be commended. I like the 400 meter too with Josh. He just seems to be Josh track 2014able to bring it on as the race progresses. That is so not like his grandmother. Running is not my thing. I can walk for two hours or more, but running…less that 5 minutes. Josh is my hero in the running arena. This year has been a bit of a transition for Josh, and that has been a little hard. Before, he raced against his own age group, but in high school they all race together. Some of those seniors are quite a bit stronger than Josh. Nevertheless, Josh stood his ground against kids who are bigger, older, and stronger than he is. I know that as he grows, he will be the one who is bigger, older, and stronger, and then he will be in charge. I can’t wait for that day, but in the meantime, I enjoy watching the journey he is on.

Little FamilyWhen my nephew, Eric was a baby, Amy, my daughter babysat for his parents quite a lot. Because Eric’s mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer is a nurse, she worked shiftwork, so often Amy would stay the night, and then on Sunday mornings, Eric, and his older brother, JD would come to church with us. Eric was such a cuddly baby, and since I didn’t get to hold him as often as Amy, I would usually let Amy keep JD entertained, so he would play quietly under her watchful eye, and I would hold Eric. As I said, Eric was a cuddly baby, and he would simply snuggle up in my arms and go right to sleep. It had been a long time since my girls were little, so holding a baby for an hour while he slept was something I hadn’t had the privilege of doing for a while, and it was really a Funny facestreat every week. It became, another reason to look forward to Sunday mornings.

When Amy became old enough to have a job, her babysitting days ended. Jennifer started working more day shifts, and my sister-in-law, Brenda stayed with the boys whenever Jennifer worked nights, just as she had when Amy was too young to stay at the house alone. I saw less and less of Eric and JD. It’s a natural change, and one that I found a bit sad. Babies just don’t stay babies long enough…a fact that Eric is learning for himself now. Eric is a grown man now, married, daddy to his little girl, Reagan, and he is going to be a daddy again in September. I’m sure he, like every other parent in history, just can’t believe how quickly his little girl is growing up. By the time his second child arrives, Reagan - 11 months oldReagan will be almost two years old. I’m sure that is unbelievable to Eric and his wife, Ashley.

For the last year or so, they have been remodeling the home that they bought as a fixer upper, and it is looking beautiful. Before long, they will be decorating the new nursery for baby number two. It’s a good thing that they are already in remodel mode, because this is just another step in a their plan, and they will take it in stride just like they did with Reagan, and in September, they will be a family of four. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!