Monthly Archives: May 2013

BrendaMy sister-in-law, Brenda has been a part of my life for more than 2/3rds of her life. That makes her as much my sister as my sister-in-law. Since I married one of the older children in the family, the young girl of 10 that I met while dating Bob, was just a little kid, still playing with dolls and such. It was strange to me that my sister-in-law was going to be so young…only 11, when she would become my sister-in-law. I have watched her grow up from a little girl, to a teenager, to an adult. She has always been a happy, quick to smile girl, and she has an infectious laugh. She was always fun to be around.

Her high school years were to bring a couple of odd incidents, when her car kept getting into accidents without her. After the second hit while parked situation, we began to wonder if BR, as she had been dubbed by my two daughters, who were just trying to learn to spell her name, should have a car, since all of hers seemed to wear a target on them somewhere. Even the car she now owns as an adult, has had its run ins with someone’s car door in a parking lot. While her various cars’ run ins with other cars, while they were innocently parked, have become far fewer, it seems that BR needs to purchase a force field from James Bond’s car designers to truly protect her cars.

These days find BR working in Human Resources at Hilltop National Bank in Casper, where she has been working for many years. She is much loved and respected by her co-workers, as well as all her friends. While her job required that she work long hours sometimes, she still found time to be a part of the team of family members who cared for her parents until her dad’s passing just a little more than 2 weeks ago. I don’t know what we would have done without all her help then, or her continuing visits and assistance for her mom. She Brendawas the second in command on my team of caregivers, and I can’t thank her enough for all her help.

Over the years, she and I have worked together on a number of family matters, and that has brought us even closer than we were before. Her banking knowledge and contacts have made so many of the things we have had to do, so much easier. She is my ally in so many ways, and often find myself wondering how I ever managed to be so blessed to have her in my life…and not ever wanting to find out what it would be like if she weren’t in it. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!

Dad and MomFor the past seven and a half years, my life has been largely defined by a series of responsibilities known as caregiving. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, even for a short time, it is easy to understand what that entails, and what it means in the lives of those involved. Caregiving is not a job that usually becomes less demanding as time goes by, although that is not an impossibility. While caregiving is not an easy job, I can tell you from my personal experience that it is a very rewarding job. It is one that places you in a battle for life…or at least a battle to prolong life. While it is rarely a battle you can win in the end, you do win in that those final years are made more comfortable for the patient, and filled with the knowledge that you love that person so much that you are willing to make this sacrifice for them.

Now, after the passing of my dad, the recovery of my mom, the necessity of placing my mother-in-law in a nursing home, because Alzheimer’s Disease no longer allows her to stay at home, and the passing of my father-in-law, I find myself no longer in the position of being a full time caregiver. Yes, I still have minimal responsibilities with my mom and mother-in-law, like doctors appointments and visits with them, which are very important to their emotional well being, but the main responsibilities belong to others or are no longer necessary. So, I find myself wondering what do I do now that I am not a caregiver? What is life supposed to be like now? This has been who I was for so long. It was even all I talked about sometimes, as many of my family members can attest to.

A part of me is still very tired.  At times during the day, I feel like I could sleep for a month, and yet, I have trouble getting to sleep at night. A part of me is ready to get back out on the trails…walking and breathing in the fresh air, and yet a part of me feels like I just want to sit and do nothing. Maybe it’s an emptiness because of no longer being needed as much as before. It seems like concentrating is very difficult…unless it’s about why we lost the battle for life, or what we might have done differently.

I know that I will get used to having more time again. And as with my dad’s passing, I will come to know that you don’t get over it…you just get on with it. I will get used to not being a caregiver, but I know too, that I will never be the same person I was before. I can’t be. I have seen too much…learned too Mom & Dad Schulenberg_editedmuch…felt too much…know too much, to ever be the same person I was before. I have experienced the adrenalin rush needed to hold myself together during life threatening illnesses reaching emergency levels, and making the decisions necessary to treat loved ones who can’t speak for themselves. I have held their very lives in my hands, and been responsible for trying to bring them back. And, I have lost that battle…twice. I will recover from caregiving and I will get on with it, but I will never be the same. I don’t think it is a bad thing, and I would not change any of it, except the loss of my dads, but while I would do it all again, I know that I have been forever changed by this experience.

Father Daughter SocialMy nephew, Rob has always been what I would consider a tough guy…a macho man. From the time he was little, and the only boy in the family, he always felt like he had to show how tough he was. All that was years ago now, and Rob is a father to four children, three of them girls. Rob has had to find his softer side for his girls, while keeping the tough side for his son. The tough side was pretty easy to picture, but the softer side…not so much.

Last night at the Parkway Plaza there was a Father/Daughter Social to benefit Wyoming Cares. It is a charity event to help Wyoming infants, children, youth, adults and senior citizens for medical and non-medical needs. Rob had never taken any of his daughters to the event, and unfortunately, it was not possible for his oldest daughter, but he did not want to miss out on the opportunity with his middle daughter, Raelynn, who truly is his little princess daughter. There isn’t a tomboy bone in that little girl’s body. So, plans were made and tickets purchased. They bought a dress for Raelynn and Rob bought her a purple rose corsage…because purple is her favorite color.

Finally, the night arrived. Raelynn was so excited that she got ready for her date with her daddy two hours before the social. It was going to be an enchanting evening. Father and daughter, dressed in their very best, headed for the social. The evening promised to be the most amazing one in Raelynn’s young life. She was on a date with her daddy, and he is the most wonderful man in her life. At the social, they made a princess crown for Raelynn and painted matching hearts on their hands. The Parkway Plaza had been turned into a dream land. They tossed bean bags into boots for prizes and went on a cake walk. They participated in the silent auction for special little girl toys, and…they danced!! In fact, they danced every dance, even some, like the Casper Stride Dance that they had to learn on the fly. Raelynn’s mom, my niece, Dustie told Raelynn that her daddy hadn’t taken her to a dance yet, so Raelynn knew that she was very special, and this, her first Father/Daughter Social was too.

The nephew is see before me these days, is still that tough guy when he has to be, but when it comes to his little girls, he turns into their prince charming. A dad is usually his baby girl’s first idea of what a boyfriend should be like…the guy who will always protect them…who will always love them, no matter what they have done wrong…and isn’t that the way it is supposed to be. Today is Rob’s birthday. You are a good man…Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Teenaged Caryl

Yesterday, we went to a barbecue at my sister, Caryl and her husband, Mike’s place out west of Casper. It is a place they are actually working on, and plan to live on when the retire. For now, they live in Rawlins, where he is a supervisor at the Sinclair Refinery and she is a Respiratory Therapist at the Memorial Hospital of Carbon County. The land they purchased will give them the opportunity to do something Caryl has wanted to do for as long as I can remember…have horses.

When Caryl was younger, she decided that she wanted to learn to ride horses, and she began taking riding lessons…oddly in the same general area of the land she and Mike have now Cowgirl Carylpurchased. Caryl loved those riding lessons, and became quite good at riding. Then, as with all of us, life takes us down a different road than the one we expected to take, and the plans we had made in our youth are traded for the plans we will now make as adults. After moving to San Diego, California, and then to Bremmerton, Washington, and finally Twin Falls, Idaho, she found herself back in Casper, and then moving to Rawlins. There weren’t many opportunities to ride horses where she was living.

Now, coming full circle, her life’s journey will once again place her in Casper, and living in a place where she can finally realize a dream that she has had for so many years. It didn’t occur to me that Caryl might actually be a country girl. I had lived in the Happy Country Girlcountry for 16 years, before realizing that the country was not where I wanted to be, and Caryl had lived all her life in town, and now plans to be a country girl. It is so strange how life changes sometimes.

I’m so excited for Caryl to be able to realize her dream. She seems so much in her element. It’s funny how I never really saw the cowgirl in her before. It’s just right for her. I’m sure she feels like their retirement can’t come soon enough. Today is Caryl’s birthday, so I guess she is one year closer to that big day. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Mike StevensMy sister, Alena and her husband, Mike have been planning some renovations and upgrades on their bathroom. They have been planning this project for a while now, but they weren’t ready to begin just yet. The plan was to renovate the bathroom during the summer when they have a little more time. Unfortunately, the best laid plans sometimes go awry, and that is exactly what happened in this case. The bathroom had a different idea.  In November, the pipes sprung a leak. To repair the pipe leak when they were going to have to remove the repaired area again so soon seemed like such a waste of time and money.

At his point many people would have resigned themselves to what seemed the inevitable, but not my brother-in-law, Mike. He has always been a problem solver, and is used to having to make repairs to different things on the spur of the moment. Sometimes, that means rigging things to make the repair, using unconventional methods and unconventional parts.

Mike set out to make a temporary repair to the broken pipe. He cut the bottom and top out of a couple of beer cans. Then he cut the side of the can and wrapped it around the pipe. Then Mike put a layer of silicone to make sure there would be no leaks. Then he used tie straps to hold the cans in place. The idea worked, and the repairs held…and they held until now, when they are ready to do the remodeling!! The seemingly Beer Can Repair Jobinevitable costly repairs were avoided. 

Now, if you ask his kids, the repairs were…original to say the least. In fact, one of his daughters, Lacey said, “Can you say Redneck?” We both laughed about that one, and I guess she or one of her siblings, Michelle or Garrett must have also mentioned the word Redneck, because Alena quickly came to Mikes rescue when she said, “You might call it Redneck, but I call it Genius!” While the repairs to look unconventional, I would have to agree with Alena, it is pretty genius. Another job well done and it didn’t cost a dime. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Stephanie and MichaelFor many years, I had lost contact with my cousin, Greg’s daughter, Stephanie. She was always such a sweet little girl, so it saddened me that most of the family didn’t get to know her as an adult. Then Facebook came along. I have been so blessed to re-connect with so many family members, near and far away.  A while back Stephanie, who lives in South Carolina, talked her dad into getting a Facebook page so they could keep in touch better. It was that request that connected me with Greg, and subsequently with Stephanie and her husband, Michael. It is a reunion that I feel blessed to have been granted.

I have very much enjoyed getting to know Stephanie and Michael, who are both fun loving and easy going people. As with any new relationship, there was a…tense moment, when I thought we might be having a tiff, only to find out that like me, they enjoy a good debate, and simply don’t take offense at differences of opinion. Now those are my kind of people.

Stephanie and Michael have two wonderful children, Kathleen (Katie) and Michael III (Will), who are as cute as they can be, and the apple of their grandpa’s eye. His only wish would be that he could see them more often, but since he lives in Idaho and they are in South Carolina, that isn’t easy. Enter Facebook again…and so many people think Facebook is a waste of time. I just don’t agree, and I doubt Greg does either.Michael's Graduation

A while back, Michael went back to school to earn his degree. His family stood behind him in his journey, and as he said, “I love you and thank you for being there no matter what. Kathleen and Will thank yall for constantly reminding me that every thing isn’t always so serious and sometimes I just need to take a step back, make a silly face, and have a good laugh.” Good advise if you ask me, and it seems to have worked. Michael graduated from Trident Technical College on May 3, 2013.

It looks like this little family is on their way to amazingly good times ahead. And it’s not like the past was anything bad either. Today is Stephanie and Michael’s 10th Wedding Anniversary. Happy Anniversary to two wonderful people!! Have a great day, and may you have many more anniversaries in your future!!

Always the BossEvery little boy goes through those moments when he just doesn’t understand what it is that makes girls so special, or at the very least what makes them so different. I’m not talking about the physical differences exactly, but more why they must be treated differently. That is the position my father-in-law found himself in as a little boy when he disagreed with his big sister. When a boy is little, and gets into a disagreement with a girl, he does not consider her to be different than any other kid with whom he disagrees. And in that instance, hitting her doesn’t seem like it is any different than hitting any boy he knows. Of course, his mother quickly explained that boys don’t hit girls!

When that little boy, who was my father-in-law, tried to rebel against what he saw as the unfair rule of his older sister, his little boy solution was to…what else, hit her. Of course, his mom told him that hitting girls was not allowed. In what has to be one of the funniest disciplinary moments Grandma would remember, her little boy stated the obvious, “Why, is she made of glass?” I know that if he were my son, I would find it almost impossible not to laugh at that moment. I mean, what do you say to a little boy who has a big sister, who is obviously not fragile…in fact, she is always bossing him around. Then, he finally gets the courage to fight back, and you’re telling him not to hit girls! He is not going to be fooled into thinking that she is weaker than he is, so that option is out.
It is an age old problem, and one mothers have long struggled with. It is their responsibility to teach their little boys the proper way to treat girls, and yet, those girls don’t always make it easy…especially big sisters. I can picture my father-in-law, with his impish ways, being everything from a trial to a smile to his mother. Grandma always was a softy, and he always held a special place in her heart, just like he will for all of his friends and family, whom he left behind when he left us just 11 days ago. As to Grandma’s ability to train her little boy to be nice to the girls, well…you succeeded Grandma, because Dad was an incorrigible flirt who knew just how to make a girl feel like a beautiful lady…and, he did finally learn that boys don’t hit girls.

Natasha Elizabeth Forseen James & Dani ForseenAlmost 3 years ago, two very special people got married. Dani and James were both college students at the Frontier School of the Bible in the little town of La Grange, Wyoming. They were two kids, totally in love and setting off on their new life together. Theirs would be a story book romance. They rented a little place, and studied hard, while working to pay their bills. It is a story most young couples can relate to in one aspect or another. Marriage is like that in the beginning…all about living on love and buying on time…as the song goes. This year marks James and Dani’s graduation from college, and the beginning of a new phase in their relationship…parenthood.

It was a bit of a close call, but not in the way you think. Little Natasha Elizabeth waited only eleven days past her parents’ graduation to make her appearance. With babies, you just never know. She could have just as easily arrived before or during the graduation, but it looks like baby Natasha is planning to be an obedient little girl, who doesn’t mess up her parents plans…at least not yet. Natasha Elizabeth Forseen is a beautiful dark haired little girl, who was born at 9:59pm on May 13, 2013. She weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces. She is 20 inches long. She was welcomed by her loving parents, Dani and James, her grandparents, Tim and Liz Byer and Darrel and Julie Forseen, and aunts, Nicki, Belinda, Carrie, and Amy, and several other relatives. Her arrival was a joyous occasion for everyone.

Knowing Natasha’s parents, there are going to be two things in her life that Darrel & Julie ForseenLiz & Tim Byershe can count on…not including her family, that is. Natasha will always have faith in a loving God who blessed her with such a wonderful family, and she will always know quite a bit about trains. In fact, if things go as planned, Natasha’s daddy, James will be working for the railroad in the very near future. It has been his second love, after his wife, Dani…but I have a feeling that as of Monday night at about 9:59pm…it slipped to a distant third, behind a beautiful baby girl. 

Billy SpencerMy cousin, Bill and his brother, Jim were always such fun to be around when we were kids. My sisters and I had no brothers, so there were times when those boys were a little surprising to us. Boys are just very different than girls. Those two loved to try to scare us with ghost stories when we would sleep out in the bus they went camping in. It didn’t take too long for us girls to think maybe we should have slept in the house, but it was all in good fun, and we did survive those nights, after all, so I guess it wasn’t all bad. Most of the time those two boys were just a couple of funny guys. What one didn’t think of, the other one did. We had such fun times with them, when we were kids.

Unfortunately, as time goes by, cousins sometimes end up seeing less and less of each other, mostly due in this case to distance, but also because of busy lives. We kept in touch by mail, and pictures, but didn’t get to see each other like we used to as kids. It is always a sad thing to loose touch with those you love. Nevertheless, as sometimes happens, time can come full circle and that is what happened in this case. Sadly the reason for the reconnection was the age and failing health of our dad’s, but Bill and his family brought his dad, my Uncle Bill out to see my dad, Uncle Bill’s brother. It was a blessed visit in every way. The two brothers had one last chance to be together and relive old memories. It was Cody, Bill, Kristin, Maureen, Dad, Uncle Bill, & Moman act of kindness that will never be forgotten.

Bill is a family man, who loves his wife and daughter, and is totally involved in his daughter’s activities. He and his wife, Maureen keep us up to date on things that are going on back in Wisconsin, especially with Kristin, who has turned into a lovely girl…a tribute to her parents.

I wish the miles didn’t separate our families so much. It would be nice to be able to see them more often. Today is Bill’s birthday. Happy birthday Bill!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

So HappyWhen my niece, Andrea was a little girl, her family lived in Washington State, and that made seeing her grandparents, my mom and dad, a special event, and one that really didn’t happen often. So, when she got to see them, it was something that made her so happy. Most of the other grandchildren got to see them so much more often, but one thing that was good about their visits with Andrea, was that she got them all to herself. That can be a good thing when you think about it. I mean, who wouldn’t want their grandparents all to themselves for a couple of weeks.

The other fun thing Andrea got to do when her grandparents came, was to take some little side trips Room to Runin the area, because when they came to visit, that was a favorite thing to do. My parents always loved to travel, and so the trip to Washington gave the ability to see places they couldn’t see every day, like the ocean and rain forest. Those little side trips gave Andrea a new view of the area she lived in. Of course, most of us know that Washington is a beautiful state that is lush and green, and if you traveled there with my Dad, you would find that you got to see the best of the best the area had to offer.

At the time that my parents were traveling to Washington to see my sister, Caryl and her family, they has a poodle named Flash, and Andrea loved that dog when she was little. Her favorite activity when her grandparents came for a visit, was to be in Walking the Dogcharge of Flash. Andrea took it upon herself to walk the dog. Theirs was a fun friendship, and one that Flash really enjoyed. When he was at home, he didn’t get that kind of attention. There is a big difference between the way an adult plays with a dog, and the way a happy kid plays. For Flash, visiting Andrea was some of the happiest moments of his life.

Today is Andrea’s birthday, and while she is grown up now and Mom to Topher, I can still see in my memory files, the little girl she was back then, running as fast as she could to keep up with Flash. Happy birthday Andrea!! We love you!! Have a great day!!

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