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Allen and AndreaAndrea & TopherI remember my niece, Andrea Beach as a little girl, trying so hard to be the good big sister to her little brother, Allen. She always had a way of being motherly to Allen. Sometimes, the oldest child has a tendency to feel like they need to be the protector of the younger children. That seems to be the case in situations where both parents work, I think. It’s like having the older child babysit. It puts them in charge, and so whenever their parents are gone, they feel like they have to be in charge of the younger children. When I think about it, maybe that is just instinctual, because Andrea was protective of her brother before she was ever old enough to babysit him.

Now, Allen might have a little bit different story to tell, and we can see what he has to say about it, because I think it’s entirely possible that he viewed her protectiveness as bossiness, and he wouldn’t be the first little brother to do so either. Most of the younger siblings have a tendency to say something like, “You’re not the boss of me!!” In that matter, Allen was no different than any of those other younger child. Like most kids, he didn’t like to have anyone bossing him around, least of all, his big sister. Nevertheless, most of the time, the two of them got along pretty well. That could have been due to the fact that they lived far away from the rest of the family, so for some time, their main friend was their sibling…unlike the family that all lived here and ws raised around cousins. Of course, these days, Andrea is the boss…to her son Topher anyway. But then again, they are really best friends too.

Living so far away was really a sourse of sadness for Andrea, who often wished that she lived closer so that she could have known the cousins better, but since her dad, Warren Beach was in the Navy, that was not to be. They did come Andrea pretending to be GrandpaGoing to workto have extended visits with us here, when Warren was out to sea, and then Andrea delighted in getting to know everyone, and spending time with her grandparents. She especially loved pretending to be her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer. He had a hard hat that he wore to work, and she decided that if Grandpa wore it…well, it must be cool, so she wore it too. I think it was her way of feeling closer to her grandpa. She sometimes had to improvize to make her own memories for later. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Addi and Meadow NordquistMy cousin, Elizabeth Nordquist reminded me that today is “Take Your Son or Daughter To Work Day” when she mentioned that her husband, Aron is taking their girls, Addi and Meadow to work with him at the 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota National Guard. The girls think their daddy hung the moon, so I know they are getting ready to have the time of their lives. Aron’s job isn’t exactly your everyday, run of the mill job, afterall. It’s also a day away from their mom/teacher, that they get to spend with their daddy, doing all the cool things he does at work. The 148th Fighter Wing was established Sept. 17, 1948 and has approximately 1,000 members today…up from a starting point of just 50 men. The unit seen several aircraft changes over the last 68 Amy and Carynyears. They originally started with the propeller driven P-51D Mustang, and now they fly the supersonic F-16 Fighting Falcon. I don’t suppose any of that means much to Addi or Meadow, because all they really care about is getting to spend time with their dad at his work. And that’s really what this day is all about. Aron gets a chance to really shine in the eyes of his daughters. They get to see that their daddy has an important job to do, and that in reality, lives depend on what their daddy does.

The whole point of “Take Your Son Or Daughter To Work Day” is to let our kids see what jobs their parents do all day. A child really has no concept of what a job is all about unless they get to see some of it first hand. The older they get, of course, the easier it is to explain our jobs to them, but when they are young, they think of it as being a lot like their play time. For Addi and Meadow, it might still seem a little bit like play time, because as you can see, they got to have goodies, but maybe it was break time…who knows.

Last year, I too participated in “Take Your Son Or Shai and meDaughter To Work Day” when I took my daughter Amy to work with me. Ok, ok, I admit, Amy worked with me, but she did go to work with me. Then, Amy moved to the Seattle area, and now to Ferndale, Washington, so she could not come with me. Nevertheless, I decided not to miss out, so I took my granddaughter, Shai Royce to work with me…and my boss, Jim Stengel even agreed to pay her for the day. No, it wasn’t that he was doing anything that he wouldn’t do for her on any other day, because she works with me now, so he always pays her, but I did get to participate in “Take Your Son Or Daughter To Work Day” anyway…and it was a great day.

imageA few months ago, our granddaughter, Shai Royce introduced us to her boyfriend, Zach Magner. It was a little unexpected. We had invited her to breakfast, and she asked if Zach could join us. Of course, we said yes, but I have to admit that my shy side was a little bit uncomfortable. It shouldn’t have been though, because Zach was very easy to get to know, and very easy to like. Of course, for us, the biggest factor when it comes to boyfriends, is how they treat my granddaughter. Granddaughters are always their grandparents’ princesses, and since we only have one granddaughter, she is our only princess. We want her to be treated like the princess she is. Zach made a good impression on us in that regard, so that was impressive.

Zach works in the oil fields as a wireline specialist, and that means long hours sometimes. Nevertheless, he is good at his job and in today’s economy, just having a full time job is a plus. Of course, I can’t say that I’m imagesurprised, because I don’t think my granddaughter would go for someone who doesn’t work as hard or harder than she does. I like that Zach has the same kinds of values that Shai has. Shai is a hard worker too, and so she expects that her man will be the same. I have no doubt that Zach is exactly that.

Zach has been so easy for Bob and me to get to know, and we liked him instantly, and we have now made him a part of our breakfast circle. My daughter, Amy Royce and her husband Travis, Shai’s parents, and her brother, Caalab Royce all liked Zach as well. Shai and Zach had the opportunity to go to spend Thanksgiving with her family, and everyone had a great time. Shai, Zach, and Caalab spent some time in Seattle just touring the area, since Zach had never been there. They even got to ride the Ferris Wheel that we had only looked at when we were there. They had a great imagetime. I can just imagine the view from the top.

Zach is the kind of guy who is always willing to help others. He never refuses if he is available, and sometimes he even does things without being asked, like the time he went to pick up my grand niece, Christina Masterson, so she could come for a visit with Shai, because they are best frineds. He just did it because he knows that they miss each other sometimes, since Christina lives in Colorado and Shai in Wyoming. I think Zach’s thoughtfulness is the thing I like most about him. Being kind and thoughtful says a whole lot about the character of a person. Today is Zach’s birthday. Happy birthday Zach!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Jim StengelNot everyone can say that they truly have the best job on Earth. I know that lots of people think they do, but I can name so many ways that they, if they thought about it from my perspective, would have to admit that they just don’t. For most people, going to work means getting there on time, doing your job, and going home at quitting time. Loving your job sometimes falls into this mix, and sometimes it just doesn’t, for the sad truth is that millions of people really hate their job. They know that they could find a better one, but they just don’t know where to start, or they don’t have the training, or the job market is just so poor that they don’t dare try to look somewhere else right now.

For the last 19 years I can honestly say that I have been extremely blessed to have the job I do, with the boss I have. It’s easy for me to use the term boss, because in reality Jim Stengel is nothing like a boss…in fact, he is the epitome of the un-boss. He doesn’t even like the word boss…choosing rather to call his employees, associates, and glaring at the person who forgets and calls him boss. It’s his way of reminding us that he doesn’t like the “B” word. Jim tells us about his dad’s way of looking at it. Jim Stengel Sr was the owner of Dakota Granite, and it was his belief that if you hire the best people for the job, and let them do their job without micro managing them, they will do their very best for you, and be happy in the process. I think he was on to something there.

One of the best reasons that I have to say that Jim is the greatest person to work for, is that he knows how to keep the priorities straight. Over my ten years as a caregiver, I have had to put that theory to the test. Lots of bosses tell you that family comes first, but if you need time off to go take care of someone in the family, they aren’t so happy to accommodate that time off. Apparently, it’s ok make family your top priority, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your job. Not so with Jim. During the times when my caregiving duties required me to miss quite a bit of work, he didn’t complain, and that made me want to work even harder for him when I was there. Both my family and Bob’s family are fully aware of the huge debt of gratitude we all owe Jim, and for that reason they have virtually adopted him as a son in the family. Not only that, but they keep him in their prayers. We can never repay that debt, and if you ask Jim, he would tell you that we don’t owe him a thing…Jim & Juliebut that’s just him being kind, because we really do. Had he not given me the time off I needed, even at a moments notice, to take care of a parent or sister-in-law who needed my help, I don’t know what we would have done.

Jim will try to blow this off as being what any boss would do, but we all know that isn’t so. Most bosses expect you to put in your full hours, and find someone else to take care of things when you are working. That is no easy task, as any caregiver will tell you. Jim is a one of a kind…the un-boss, and we who have the privilege of working for him understand just how very blessed we are by him. Today is Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you and are proud to call you…friend!!

cheryl160cheryl158It’s every school aged child’s dream…enough snow to have the school district call a Snow Day. The only bad thing is that they are always few and far between. Nevertheless, I can remember a few of those snow days from my childhood. They made for good rivals for the storm we had overnight, in the amount of snow received. I remember one storm in particular from those days, when we were told that the snow was very heavy, and people needed to shovel it off of their roof to protect the roof from collapse. Well, like most kids on a snow day, we didn’t need a second invitation to go outside and play. It’s funny how that works. The plan was to go out an shovel off the roof, but while that did happen, there was a lot of playing in the snow too. Now mind you that the school district had decided that it was too cold, too snowy, and definitely the snow was too deep to have the kids walk the relatively short distance…five blocks in our case..to school, but we could spend half the day outside playing in the snow. I could see the problem if it had been blizzard conditions, but it wasn’t. Nevertheless, on a snow day,cheryl154 cheryl155playing outside all day was far better than trudging off to school.

Deep snow is always extra fun, because it makes building a fort much easier, and believe me, that snow and this snow today…are deep. the snow is heavy and easily formed into walls or snowballs. Before long the fight was on. I’m sure that our parents loved hearing the screams of laughter as their daughters played happily out in the back yard. You see, sometimes, snow days are for adults too. Today for instance, my car could not begin to drive down the alley from my garage, and we will have to go our and dig snow later to get it out so it can be parked in from of the house…if I am to make it to work tomorrow. When my husband, Bob left for work this morning, his truck was dragging on the deep snow, and my car sits much lower than his truck. The snow day of yesteryear that comes to mind was the one where my dad got to stay home too. In fact, he city was even asking people to offer to transport people on snowmobiles in the event of an emergency.

cheryl162cheryl156That didn’t affect us in any way though, because we didn’t have snowmobiles, nor did we have need of one. We were busy outside trying to move the snow from one spot to another, so that we could move from point “a” to point “b” with a little bit of ease. And the only reason we were doing that was because we wanted to see just how deep the snow really was. We weren’t going anywhere…we had nowhere to go…because it was a snow day, and everyone knows that everything of any importance to a kid is closed on a snow day…especially the school.

IMG_7590a11222111_10206362161311787_6823450642533786703_naBob and I, along with our granddaughter, Shai Royce have looked forward to our trip to Seattle, Washington to see her parents and brother for the three and a half months since they moved there. It has been a long and sad time for us here, and them there. Now that the trip is over, the sadness has come flooding back in again. The trip was lovely and we all had such a nice time. It was so good to be able to see where they live and tour the area. We talked and laughed, and just enjoyed each other’s company again. It felt a little bit like old times, except that we were in the wrong place for old times. So, it is like new times, instead of old times.

All week we tried not to think about just how fast the week was going. Nevertheless, it was going by fast. You can’t slow time down. It goes at the pace that it does, and it doesn’t care how you feel about it. There are only so many hours in a day and only so many days in a week. And you have to sleep some of them too, unfortunately. That makes a short amount of time go even faster. And a week is such a short time anyway.

This trip was centered around Amy and her husband, Travis Royce renewing their vows for their twentieth anniversary too, so there was a group of people, and not just us. We had to share them, and what I really wanted to do was to have them all to ourselves. Nevertheless, share we must, so share we did. And I 11224462_10206348613293095_5952134185748889203_nunderstood it too, because we weren’t the only ones who had missed them. Still, we had a very nice time. It was just too short.

Bob and I have often taken just one week of vacation at a time, and thereby had two weeks of vacation at separate times, but with our daughter and family living so far away, I can certainly understand why my parents always wanted to take at least two weeks to go visit when they had daughters who lived far away. Maybe if we had taken two weeks, it wouldn’t have felt like it went by so fast, but then again, probably not. In reality, it doesn’t matter how much time you have, because it will just never be long enough.

During the week we were with Amy, and her family, it was easy to distance ourselves from the time that was coming so quickly, when we would have to leave them…at least most of the time anyway. We did all the things that tourists would do, as if this was just another carefree trip with no impending separation, but inside I knew that in just a matter of days, we would all be feeling the rush of sadness once again.

When the last day arrived, we went to breakfast, still able to pretend that it was a day like any other day, but all too quickly that time passed too, and the easy conversation of the meal at the restaurant turned into the quiet reflection of the sadness we all dreaded. In the end, the words simply stuck in our throats behind the tears we were trying so hard to hold back. Of course, we failed miserably, and the tears ran silently down our IMG_7087IMG_7536cheeks. We hugged each other, once and then again and again, but finally we had to leave. The ride to the airport was very quiet. We simply couldn’t speak. I thought about how Amy must be feeling, and the story Shai had shared with me about her first day at work. She set the pictures of her family on the shelf in her cubicle, and with a rush of emotion thought about the fact that she could not hug her daughter. I knew she would be feeling the same way again. We had hugged each other over and over and spent as much time together as we possibly could, but in the end, it is just never enough.

Chris PetersenThere is a time each year, when the kids are getting ready to head back to school. It is a different date for different places, and in most cases, the parents are pretty happy to have their kids back in the school routine. Some of the kids are happy about it too. I suppose it feels different when the kids are going to school in the town where they live, because they aren’t headed so far away that you won’t see them in the evening.

However, when they are off to college in another town, even if it is in the same state, there is a sense of lonliness that comes over parents, and grandparents who are used to seeing them often. That is how I am feeling today, because tomorrow, my oldest grandchild, Chris Petersen heads back to Sheridan to go to college for his second and final year. Yes, Sheridan isn’t that far from Casper, but this year, because he has a job and a Friday night class, he will only be home a few times, whereas last year, he came home most weekends, because he had a job here.

Just knowing that he will be staying in Sheridan most of the school year feels like he has moved as far away as my daughter Amy Royce, her husband Travis, and son, Caalab, who live in the Seattle area now. I have never been one to like change, and while I know that it is a part of life, I still find myself wishing that things would just stay the way they were. I know that for Chris’ parents, my daughter, Corrie Petersen, her husband, Kevin, and son Josh, tomorrow will be a very lonely day, as they drop Chris off at his dorm room, and head back home without him. They are such a close family, and this is just hard.

Nevertheless, as the new school year begins, they will have to face the facts that Chris is away again. It would be lovely we could all just teleport around the country. That way it wouldn’t matter where anyone lived, because we could see each other as often as we wanted. Since that is not to be, I guess we will all have to get used to the idea that for another school year, at least, Chris will be living in Sheridan and we will be here. I know that for his family…and for him it is going to feel like a long year. Sheridan College

Chris, I know this year will be a great one for you. It will be hard, but it is the culmination of all your hopes and dreams. You make us all so proud as you persue your dream of being the owner of a restaurant of your own someday. You are an amazing chef, and I know that you will be very successful in your future endeavours. So Chris, while we will miss you very much, I know that it is time for you to get back to work now. I know it will be an amazing year for you. Enjoy all of it, because before you know it, your college days will be over, and you will be in the working world like the rest of us. We love you very much.

cheryl104Most of us have either sent or received a group text. Usually the reason is to get information to several people at once. The problem with a group text is that they usually start a series of group texts that, at some point will annoy at least one of the participants to the point that they ask that the group text move to another group that excludes them. Often this is because that participant is at work, or otherwise engaged, and the constant back and forth of a group text is interfering with whatever they are doing. While I understand the problems that group texts can cause, I have to say that such is not always the case.

In recent months, my sisters and I have carried on a series of group texts, that we all agree have been very fun. The texts might start as a way of passing information to the whole group, but before long, someone says something funny…usually teasing or picking on one of the other sisters, and the game is on. It’s all in good natured fun, and nobody gets upset, because we all know it’s just good natured fun, but then, that is the kind of relationship my sisters and I have. It is a blessing to be sure.

The texting often turns to teasing, as I said, and it is logical progression in our conversation, because after all, we have known each other all of our lives, and we have a lot of ammunition on each other. Good and bad ammunition. Nevertheless, our text play is never about seriously bad ammunition. We would rather tease about the goofy things we did as kids…with a little bit of “how did you manage to stay out of trouble, when I couldn’t” mixed in. Allyn Hadlock was the baby, and somehow never got into trouble…but then we all agree that she imagenever did anything to get into trouble either…hence the Polly Purebred comment. Alena Stevens was the curiously mischievous one, and always seemed to be mixing up some concoction designed to make a mess. The rest of us, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, and I fell somewhere in the middle, but I was probably more mischievous than the others…or at the very least, more sassy!!

I know that many people get upset with group texts, and I understand that, but my sisters and I always look forward to them. We have laughed and reminisced through all these, and it has been not only healing, but I think if it is possible, we are even closer to each other than we were before, and for sisters who have always been close, that’s really saying something. I know that many people would still say that group texts are annoying, and to them I would just have to say that maybe they are texting the wrong crowd. Group texting with my sisters is a new adventure every single time we do it.

My parents on their wedding dayDad and MomSixty two years ago today two very special people said “I do.” Those people were my parents, and this year will be the first anniversary that we will spend without either of them, and the first that they will spend together since 2007. That is such a strange thing for me…to think that the two people who brought me and my sisters into this world, are no longer in it with us. It is a change that I never wanted to have happen, and yet I am happy for them, because they are back together again. You see, my parents were more than husband and wife, they were friends…from the first time they met. It was a match made in Heaven, and while I know that life in Heaven doesn’t involve husbands and wives, it does involve friends. That is what we will all be, so they are very much enjoying their time together. While this feels sad to me, it is for them…joyous.

My mother was taken by my dad the first time she laid eyes on him. She thought he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. And Dad was pretty taken with Mom too. I never heard him call her by her name, but rather always by the name Doll. He always wanted her to know that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen too. They never wanted anything more than just to be together. They did as much together as they could, and I think that the years they each worked were for them the hardest, because they had to be apart for hours on end. Not many people can work with their spouse, but my parents could, and did for a number of years. They enjoyed every moment together.

For them, life took on its own pace, and it was often slower than many people today live their lives…including me. They lived on Byer Time, mostly because the song, “Waitin’ On A Woman” hadn’t been written yet. Nevertheless, my dad was used to waitin’ on a woman, and he never got upset about it. He loved her and he was always patient with her slower pace. I, on the other hand, was seldom as patient…unless Dad told me to be quiet. Mom was the Queen of the Castle, and Dad her Prince Charming. She was always so loved by him. He was always so caring. He was really one of the last of the true gentlemen. There seems to be very little protecting of women from things like foul language, splatter from passing cars…you know, all the things men did in the olden days…before women’s lib came upon us. No, I’m not a fan.

When my parents married, it was for life, and to spend as much time with each other as possible. And theirs was a beautiful marriage, filled with so many blessings. They traveled, worked and played together, and they Mom & Dad Alaskan Cruise (formal)Dad and Momtaught their girls about the kind of marriages we would want to have. While our husbands were different that our dad in some ways, they were like him in many others, because we knew the kind of man we would want our husband to be like…a Prince Charming, like our dad. And we wanted to be the Queen of the Castle…just like our mom. Today marks the day that would have been the 62nd Anniversary for these two wonderful people. Happy Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad!! Hope your day is beyond amazing!! We love and miss you both so very much, but we will see you again very soon.

Sweet MarlyceMy sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg was developmentally disabled. In many ways that made her always seem younger than her years. In reality, she probably never aged past her teen years, mentally. Still, Marlyce could do some things that adults do, such as cooking and working. In those ways she was much like any grown up person her age.

Marlyce lived with her parents, my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg, all her life, but she was a part of a school in Casper at that time, that trained developmentally disabled people to be productive members of society, and then worked to place them in jobs. Marlyce loved her job, and enjoyed going to work every day. It made her feel good about herself, and it made her feel like she was a grownup, like everyone else around her. Marlyce just wanted to belong in the adult world. Something most of us can understand.Beautiful Marlyce

Before Marlyce was forty, she contracted Cancer, and at the young age of just thirty nine years, she lost her life in that battle. It was a devastating loss to all of us, her family, and to all who knew her. Nevertheless, time marches on, and while we will always miss her sweet smiling face, the hats she knitted, and the wonderful chocolate chip cookies she made, we will miss her more than any of those things. Marlyce was the sweetest sister-in-law in the world. She was kind and caring. She loved being an aunt when all the nieces and nephews started coming along.

Her life was sadly, very short in the grand scheme of time, but in that timeframe, Marlyce lived a full life. She was not held back by the limitations that most of us do not consider limitations, like husband and children, but in reality, they are things that must be taken into consideration when deciding whether to read a book, take a trip with parents, or even take a nap. She could, for the most part anyway Amy with Marlycemake her own choices. And that was what allowed her to live a full life in just a few short years. Nevertheless, we all wish she was still here.

Today, Marlyce would have turned sixty five. I wonder what she would have been like now. Things would have been a bit more difficult in that her dad is in Heaven, and her mom in a nursing home. I’m not sure where she would have been living. Perhaps with one of her siblings or maybe in a group home. She would be ready to retire, but I’m not sure she would have wanted to do so. It’s all speculation, of course, because we will never know. Today Marlyce would have been sixty five, but in reality, she is forever thirty nine. Happy birthday in Heaven, Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.

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