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My nephew, Ryan Hadlock reminds me more and more of his dad, Chris Hadlock, everyday. He looks like him, talks like him, and acts like him. They also enjoy many of the same things, like sports, especially football and the Broncos. In fact, they are heading to Denver this weekend for a game. Ryan also loves camping, music, and most of all family. Ryan and his wife, Chelsea, who have been married nine years now, are raising two sweet children, Ethan and Aurora.

Recently, Ryan and his family went with Chelsea’s family to Disney World in Florida, where they had a wonderful time. The kids got to meet all the Disney characters, and ride all the great rides. Really, they are at the perfect age for a Disney World adventure…young enough to love the kid stuff and old enough to remember the trip. A wonderful time was had by all, because after all, there is a bit of a kid in all of us, especially Ryan, who will never really grow up, but then I guess that’s what makes him such a fun guy.

Ryan is a hard worker, and often picks up extra shifts at his job at Fleur de Lis, which used to be Anadarko, until they sold it to FDL, as its called. FDL is an oilfield company, and since things are picking up some, they are pretty busy. Ryan is also becoming quite a Do It Yourself guy. Recently, he fixed the central air in their home by himself, and most of us would have no idea what to do with that. Nevertheless, Ryan figured it out and saved his family from the summer heat and saved money too.

It has been a busy year for Ryan and his family, but as far as I’m concerned, the coolest thing that is going on with them is that Ryan is forming a family band. The plan is for Ryan to play the guitar. Ryan learned from his dad, and both are very good. Ethan will be playing the drums. Aurora hasn’t decided what instrument she wants to play in her dad’s band, but I’m sure she will pick something very cool. And the plan is to have Chelsea sing. I think this could be a wonderful musical family. Maybe they could be the Hadlock Family Band. I would definitely attend a performance, if they had one that was open to the public. Today is Ryan’s birthday. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Sean Mortensen is a mechanic for Anadarko, by trade. Since I have been married to a mechanic for 42 years, I can tell you that they work very hard. Being a mechanic, of any kind, is a hard job, and from what I’ve seen, the mechanic is usually the only person taking care of the vehicle or equipment. The operator, on the other hand, is usually pretty hard on the vehicle or equipment…after all, it isn’t theirs, so what difference does it make…right. That’s what the mechanic deals with every day. By the time they get home, they often feel exhausted.

That’s where Sean differs from a lot of other mechanics…at least on the weekends. You see, Sean’s motto is work hard…play hard. When the weekend rolls around, it’s time to cut loose, and party at the lake with friends. Sean, and my niece, Amanda have lots of great friends, all of whom enjoy the lake and summer fun. And when you think about it, why do we work anyway? It isn’t because we all love working, it’s because we want to be able go out and do the things we like to do in life…like play at the lake. Of course, the lake is only Sean and Amanda’s summer playground. In the winter, they are out on the snowmobiles, getting as deep as they can in a snowdrift. The colder weather doesn’t slow down their fun on bit. Many people tend to hibernate in the winter, longing for the summer months, but not Sean and Amanda. They just change playgrounds, and the fun continues.

I suppose it sounds like all Sean and Amanda do is party, and that might be something they really enjoy, but they are also very responsible people. They work, own their own home, and they have raised a beautiful 13 year old daughter. Adulting is a fact of life they take very seriously too. People depend on them and the fact that they will do their jobs. If no one worked, how would anything ever be accomplished. There are people who don’t want to be a part of a working community, but would rather that the government take care of them, and I am proud to say that Sean and Amanda are not a part of the “hand out” community. The things they have, they have earned. There is a certain amount a pride that can be taken away from that. They work hard, and they play hard, because they have earned it. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Whether you like the bi-annual time change that most states use or not, it is a fact of life for most of the citizens of the United States. Most of us have no problem with the “Fall back” part of the change, because with it comes an extra hour of sleep, and in the winter months, who can’t use that. The “Spring forward” part of the time change…well, that is a different thing. Losing that hour of sleep is just not so easy to swallow. Enter Napping Day.

In days gone by, an afternoon nap was not just a common thing, it was part of the job description. In fact, the siesta is still a time-honored tradition in Spain. It happens right after lunch and can be traced back to the first years of people having jobs. In fact, if you’re in the Mediterranean, it’s pretty much standard everywhere you go. In Italy they call it the riposo, pisolini, and even old Charlamagne, who was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814, has been recorded as having taken 2-3 hour naps in the middle of the afternoon. I want to know where that tradition has gone in our time. I can’t tell you how many times I would have loved to grab a little twenty minute nap in the afternoon.

Fast forward to our time. Daylight savings time rolls around, and you are forced to get up an hour earlier. Most of us couldn’t fall asleep any earlier, and after all, the time change happens at about 2:00am, so why would we go to bed an hour early. The next morning is Sunday, and hopefully you were able to get acclimated to the new time, but more likely than not, you didn’t. So on Monday you are back at it…hard at work, and suddenly you hit a wall. You’ve been a trooper all day. You bravely made it through the morning’s activities…and it wasn’t too bad. Then lunch hits, and that food just makes you sleepy. What do you do? You take a nap! Napping Day encourages you to remember these benefits of youth and take a little time out of the day for you! The idea is to take that little nap, because it really is napping day. I have to wonder just how many bosses would be ok with such an idea. Not too many, I would guess.

As Barbara Jordan, a Texas representative, would say, “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” I hadn’t heard of her before, but I like her style. Happy Napping Day everyone!!

15134744_10207879557762767_1428686351086226160_nMy niece, Jenny Spethman is a woman of many talents. She is first and foremost a woman of God, who loves the Lord with all her heart. Life has not always been a bed of roses for Jenny, but through it all, she and her husband, Steve made God their center, and He has given then the strength to weather the storms that life brings…and some of these were hurricanes or tornadoes. Most weren’t literally that type, but they did fly through the edge of a hurricane on their way to their honeymoon, so they learned to trust God very early on in their marriage. The loss of their daughter, Laila at 22 days old, is something that would have ripped many a marriage apart, but not Jenny and Steve. They pressed into the Lord, and learned to seek His comfort in all the sad days that followed her passing. God has carried them through…every storm.
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Jenny loves being a wife and mother. Her family is her everything. She attends the boys, Xander, Zack, and Isaac’s sporting events, and her daughter, Aleesia’s girly events, like dancing, cheerleading. With the boys in school all day, Jenny and Aleesia have had more time to spend doing girly time. The sad thing is that now, Aleesia is almost ready for full time school too, so Jenny is in the process of deciding who she will be then. I have been in that situation too, so I understand how that feels. When you are no longer a full time caregiver, as in my case, or a full time mommy, as in Jenny’s case, you start to think, “Ok, then who am I?” It’s a question every mom has to answers at some point.
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The reality is that everyone has these moments when they need to basically re-invent themselves. Jenny is trying to decide now, if she will go back to school or go to work. I totally understand the vast array of feelings she has about this. She will miss being the stay-at-home mom, with all the kids around her, but there is a type of excitement that comes with a new adventure, be it work or study. All new adventures are often bittersweet…exciting on the one side, but sad too, because you are leaving the time of your children’s babyhood behind. Bittersweet as it may be, I know that Jenny will weather this storm just fine too. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The Littlest HelperA True HelperMy nephew, Barry Schulenberg, and his wife, Kelli have been doing some remodeling on their bathroom and their home outside of Casper, Wyoming. Barry has a knack for carpentry, and that reminds me of the little boy that was Barry, helping his grandpa, my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg build the family home north of Casper. It seems like so many years ago, and yet in my memory files, I can see it so clearly. In those days, Barry wanted to do anything his grandpa was doing…so much so, in fact, that Barry had decided that he didn’t need to go to school. He was just going to go to work with his grandpa. I can’t say exactly how much Barry learned about carpentry from his grandpa in those days, but I think he took something away from that experience, even as a little two year old boy. I think he found that he liked to build things, but more than that, it built a bond between grandfather and grandson that would last a lifetime.

Over the years, Barry helped his grandfather do anything he was doing. From splitting wood to working on cars, the two of them were almost inseparable, except for the inevitable job/school times that each had to go to. Barry lived for the time when his grandpa would be home from work and they could go work outside. I’m not sure if my father-in-law felt worn out or not, but if he did, he rarely showed it to Barry. They were best buddies and that was all that mattered. The three granddaughters that my father-in-law had then, were his little princesses, and were treated as such, but Barry was his working buddy, and that was just the way it was. I think the girls were ok with that too, because carpentry and cars really weren’t their idea of fun anyway.

I don’t know if Barry realized how special his relationship with his grandpa was, but I really hope he did or does now, because it was special. Not every little boy gets to spend the time with their grandfather that Barry did. That was a blessing beyond blessings for both of them, and it was special to watch too. My father-in-law has Barry & Kelli SchulenbergWalt Schulenberg and Linda Knox 1949_edited (2)been gone now for over three and a half years now. I have to wonder if Barry misses his grandpa as he is working on the current project he has set himself to now. It’s not that Barry can’t do the work himself and with Kelli’s help, but I have to wonder if he doesn’t hear the echo of his grandpa’s voice guiding him through the steps to remodeling the bathroom. His grandpa really knew what he was doing, and to top it off, Barry looks like his grandpa too. No wonder they got along so well. They were two of a kind. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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.

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