When my grand nephew, Jake Harman married his wife Melanie, everything changed for him. He his the jackpot that day, because Melanie is the perfect life partner for him. I have never seen him happier than at that time…if you don’t count every day since, because with Melanie as his wife, life just keeps getting better every day. Jake and Melanie are probably pretty close to polar opposites, and that is exactly what Jake needed. Melanie can always calm him when he gets stressed out. She’s been able to do that from the start of their relationship. Jake has always been more high-strung, but since Melanie came into his life, he seems…well, at peace. Melanie has that effect on people.
Melanie is the mother to three beautiful children, Alice, Izabella, and Jaxx, and they feel very blessed to have her for their mom. Melanie makes life fun. The children are encouraged to laugh and play, and even be noisy. Many parents just want their kids to be quiet, and I’m sure there are times when Meanie and Jake feel the same, but just as often, they love to see the children laughing and playing rambunctiously. Still, they are sweet, well-behaved children…a credit to their parents. She also enjoys making their home special for her whole family. Her creative ideas are just beautiful.
Melanie and Jake are active in their church, where Jake is a youth pastor. This year, after things had settled down from the Covid-19 pandemic, and because a Vacation Bible School, or church camp were out of the question, they were able to take a small group on a short camping trip to the lake for a few days. They had a great time, and the youth appreciated getting to do something new, when so much distancing is the norm.
Melanie has made a wonderful home for her family, and she is loved by all who know her. Jakes whole family loves her sweet ways, and they way she has improved Jake’s life and filled it will love. I know that the rest of their lives will also be blessed years of growth, harmony, and love. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Life in the home of my youth had many facets, as I’m sure most homes do. There was work to be done, and rules to be followed, but there was also lots of joy and goofiness. My mother, Collene Byer Spencer, was the type of person who might do just about anything. We sometimes simply didn’t know what to expect. I’m sure part of it was from her own upbringing, because she would try to get us to sing songs with her, such as “Keep on the Sunny Side” which was designed to start our day in a happy way, or to ease the tension in a stressful one. If we just couldn’t be made to laugh, “Keep on the Sunny Side” was her first line of defense, usually followed by something goofy she said or did that would make us laugh in spite of ourselves and our sour mood. I suppose she had to come up with something, because life with five teenaged girls and the drama that went with it could be a challenge. Mom just wanted her girls to be happy and to know the joy that simply being alive brings. I can’t say that her plans always worked, because some of us could be a stubborn lot…ok, mostly me, but my sisters too. Still, I think of the five of us, I was probably the most bull headed. You can ask my sisters, and I think they will agree with me…possibly to remove any stigma of stubbornness from themselves, but in realty, I do think I was probably the most stubborn of us all.
I remember Mom sometimes making goofy faces, or acting in some outlandish way just to make the moment less stressful. Sometimes I think I should have taken note of that plan more in my life. I find that I have a tendency to be rather serious…possibly because I am a thinker, and usually deep in thought about one thing or another. Maybe cutting loose and doing something outlandishly funny would be good for me. It always seemed to make Mom a happy person. It’s not that I’m not happy either, just that I don’t usually show it in a big way…and sometimes I wish I could cut loose that way. Sometimes, I think my life is too serious in nature, too often.
I think my parents tried to do things that would make us laugh. Things like a bottoms up picture on a bridge to get a giggle out of everyone. Yes, that’s how they labeled it. Often times it worked, and continues to work now, whenever we look at the picture. It’s like a way of continuing their goofing off into the time of our lives when they are no longer with us. Who knew that those funny memories would serve to bring so much joy and happiness in our later years. I think we sometimes let our lives get far to serious. We all need to take a page out of my parents book, and cut loose sometimes. The longer my parents are gone, the more I truly understand just how very wise they were. It is my hope that I can grow to be as wise as they were. I love you Mom and Dad.
The other day, as my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I were out for a walk, I noticed that the crickets were chirping all around us. Now, I’m not a cricket fan, because they are, after all…a bug, but hearing them was not an unusual event in the summertime. On that particular evening, I guess I just noticed them more than usual. It was a beautiful summer evening, that was cooler that the really hot days we had been having, and with the crickets, it took me back to the summers of my youth. It didn’t matter if we were in the back yard or on a camping trip, the crickets chirping was just a classic summer sound. Then, when you add the birds and sometimes even frogs…well, it’s like going back in time to my childhood.
Summers in my youth were always carefree days with relatively few chores. We used to lay out in the back yard sunning ourselves, walk to the pool to swim in the afternoon, and then play games with our friends until it got dark, and sometimes even later. The sound of kids yelling, laughing, and talking seemed to be everywhere…like we were trying to live a year’s worth of life in three short months, because then school started again, and there was homework to be done at night. It left a lot less free time. Then, before we knew it, we were grown up, and our lives took on work and family obligations I wouldn’t trade my life now for those days, because lets face it. I love my life, but those memories are sweet, nevertheless.
I lived such a wonderful childhood. My family has always been very close. Our parents gave my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and me so many great memories over the years, whether in travel or just at home. I can’t fully explain just how blessed we were. We had all the same obligations as kids, that most kids have. We weren’t spoiled children of privilege, we were just blessed…and I’ll take blessed over privilege any day. We took evening drives sometimes just to look at the lights of the city from lookout point or Event Center Hill…although the Event Center wasn’t there then. My sisters and I called the city lights, spread across the valley where Casper is nestled, the Jewelry Box. I have seen them so many times that I can picture them exactly in my head to this day. Those were such glorious, carefree days, of crickets and evening drives, and sometimes I miss them. We didn’t realize then how blessed we were. We just thought all kids had that kind of life. We later found out just how wrong we were. If I mention some of the things we did as kids, people seem surprised…like it was unheard of. Maybe it was, but my parents just showed us the things they liked to do, like going for evening drives.
Those days are long gone now. They live only in my memory files, to be brought out when something like the chirping of a cricket, the smell of a campfire, or a drive down the mountain cause them to come to the forefront once again. The memories are a little bittersweet these days, because both of my parents are in Heaven, but they still remind me of what a blessed childhood I was given, and they make me thankful for the wonderful parents God gave to me and my sisters.
After last year’s unusually hard Winter, with weather patterns that were dubbed Polar Vortex, I was not too keen on the idea of a repeat performance this year. Thankfully, I have been treated to the Indian Summer that I remember from my youth. Of course, we didn’t get an Indian Summer every year, but when we did, the neighborhood kids all celebrated. September always brought with it cooler weather, school, and the dreaded homework that came with it. It always seemed like having that hit all at the same time was really a very cruel joke on the kids. But occasionally, we got a year that made a lot of us feel a lot better about the coming Winter.
This has been such a year. With temperatures in the high 60s and into the 70s, more people have been spending evenings and weekends outdoors, enjoying the unusual warmth. Oh, I don’t say that jackets are unnecessary, but you wear them mostly in the morning and you find yourself taking them off a lot too. Kids are out on their skateboards, scooters, and bicycles enjoying the last few evenings during which they can play outdoors for a good part of the evening…at least until they have to go get their homework done.
For me, Indian Summer means a reprieve…if only for a short time…for the drudgery of Winter, while also giving a break from the worst of the Summer heat. I used to be a serious Summer person, but these days, I like the temperatures to be in the 70s and 80s, not the 90s and 100s. I know that my sister, Cheryl Masterson will still call 70s and 80s serious Summer heat, but I can’t agree with her there. Early Fall and late Spring are my ideal times of the year…provided that the fall is not too cool and the spring is not too rainy.
Indian Summer is said to be a time of unseasonably warm weather and little wind…but I doubt if they had seen Indian Summer in Casper, Wyoming, because we definitely have wind. I can deal with that too, as long as it’s not too cold. With this years lovely Indian Summer weather, and the opportunities to get out and hike some, I am feeling a lot less of the affects Winter brings on me, but then we are still on Daylight Savings Time until the end of this week. I’m sure that after that the normal affects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) will begin to rear their ugly heads. For that, I simply have to spend as much time as I can in the sun, and keep telling myself that December 22 is coming, and with it, comes the beginning of the move toward the longest day of the year…one of my favorite days. I know that like every season, Indian Summer will pass, and Winter will pounce on us, as it always does, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy every moment and every bit of warmth of the Indian Summer that we have been treated to.