Our grandniece, Katy Herr married Dylan Herr on November 24, 2021. Dylan is co-owner of a group of Red Wing Shoe Stores in Wyoming and Colorado. Dylan and Katy are active in their community and are always giving back. They support the Boys and Girls Club, and Casper Area Chamber of Commerce. Katy and Dylan and really amazing people, and they really make the community proud. Not everyone is able to be there for their community like that, and Katy is the perfect partner for Dylan in his work. Katy is very social, and always smiling. She makes everyone feel welcomed and appreciated.

Katy is a wonderful mommy to their son Max. Their baby boy is her dream come true. Katy had long wanted a child, and when she got pregnant, she was beyond excited. Max just loves his mommy, and they love doing things together. They often go shopping and of course, to his daddy’s store. Katy and Max love Dylan so much and going to his store is always a treat. The three of them also travel to Colorado to see Dylan’s family and visit the other stores they own.

Katy loves to bake and is quite good at it. She even sells some of her baked goods. Katy is very resourceful, and she can make wonderful, tasty treats, that anyone would love to receive. I especially love her cake pops. Her baked goods show her creative ability. Katy is a stay-at-home mom. She loves raising her son, and not sending him to daycare. It is something she is quite grateful for. She also wants to be able to help out some, and her cake pops are a perfect side-hustle kind of business to add a little bit of extra income, while having a great time making great things.

Katy and Dylan love doing things with the families. From fun outdoor activities, to golf, to monster truck shows, their interests vary. Max loves doing anything his parents want to do, and that makes it all even more special. I think Max inherited to best of both his parents’ personalities, and that makes his a sweet and very smiley kid. And he inherited their looks too, and that makes him a little cutie!! Katy and Dylan couldn’t possibly be happier with their little family, and I am very happy for them. Today is Katy’s birthday. Happy birthday Katy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When our cousin, Larry Hein was a kid, my husband, Bob; our kids, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce; and I went to visit family in Forsyth, Montana every summer. Larry was older than our girls by 6 and 7 years, respectively. That could have made him not want to hang out with the girls, but Larry also had a little sister, Kim Arani, and that made him able to understand the kinds of games and such that little girls wanted to play. Grandma Hein had a playhouse on the ranch she and Grandpa Hein owned, and for the girls, it was the coolest place to play. Larry didn’t mind playing house with the girls, even though it was probably not that interesting for him. He was just that kind of a kid. Easy going and a good brother and older cousin. I was thankful, because the girls wanted to get to know their cousins, and the girls and Kim wanted to play girls games.

Larry was a big help to Grandma Hein too, as I recall. Work on a ranch is really never done, and while kids don’t usually do the work of a ranch hand, they can help with things like gardening, mucking stalls, feeding the chickens and other animals, and definitely playing with the dogs that always seem to be part of a ranch. Larry was a good-natured kid, and he loved his grandparents. He was easy to get along with, and respectful to his elders. He was always a joy to be around.

As an adult, Larry started a mechanics shop and towing service. In the small town of Forsyth, Montana, he was pretty much the only show in town on those kinds of services, meaning that he was often busier than he could handle. His shop always had vehicles waiting their turn, and the towing part of the business kept him running a lot. After Larry’s dad, Ed Hein died, Larry did his best to keep his business running while helping his mom, Pearl and his sister, Kim deal with their grief. He was a good man, but Larry lost his life to a heart attack just three months and two weeks later. The two losses were devastating to the whole family. Today would have been Larry’s 54th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Larry. We love and miss you very much.

Friday, May 16, 1986, found the Cokeville, Wyoming law enforcement officers all out of town. It wasn’t normal for every officer to be out of town, but Cokeville was a small town of just 535 people, and normally a quiet place, where nothing ever happened. It was a peaceful place where everyone knew each other. It was a great place to raise a family. Everyone went to church together, worked together, and played together…on a normal day, but this day was not going to be a normal day. This was a miraculous day.

That day, around 1:00pm, David Young, a disgruntled and mentally unstable former Cokeville marshal; his wife, Doris; and his youngest daughter, Princess, known as Penny; entered the town’s only elementary school with an arsenal of weapons and a gasoline bomb in a grocery cart. David Young had initially planned to involve longtime friends Gerald Deppe and Doyle Mendenhall. They had invested money with him in a get-rich-quick scheme that he had called “The Biggie.” This, however, was too much for the men, who eventually refused to participate in the event. Both men were handcuffed in a van outside the school.

No one saw this coming. Why would they? Nothing like that had ever happened in Cokeville before. There was still an air of innocence in the town…until that day. The trio entered the school, and Doug Young began threatening the people. It was at this point that Penny also refused to participate and after her dad said she was “no daughter of his” she left to tell the police. Unfortunately, other than the office personnel at the police station, there was no one who could really help, but help was on the way, nevertheless.

As the events unfolded, the Youngs took the school hostage. They had a bomb, and it was leaking gas. The children were getting sick, and teachers felt led to open the windows. Children later said that they saw people dressed in white told them to go near the windows. One teacher felt led to make a box with tape on the floor so that the bomber was in there by himself. No one was allowed in but Doug, the bomber and his wife, Doris. When the bomber went to the restroom, he put the string that would set off the bomb on his wife’s wrist. She forgot not to move her arm up, and she accidently set off the bomb. She was killed. A bomb expert who examined the bomb said that there had been gunpowder under the bomb, and had it not become wet with gasoline, it would have been as if the air was on fire. He also said that several of the wires were cut, and there was no explanation as to how that had happened, but it meant that the bomb didn’t have its full force. The students said they saw beings of light all around the bomb when it went off. Doug came out of the restroom and saw that he had failed. He went back in and fatally shot himself, after shooting one teacher in the back, somehow missing his spine by about an inch. Other than that teacher, no one was injured. The bomb did go off, but most of its power was miraculously thwarted. Afterwards, everyone who was there, told the same stories of people dressed in white, and beings of light. No one wavered about what they saw. No one changed their minds. You can believe what you want, but as for me…I believe God sent His angels and gave them charge over the teachers and children at Cokeville Elementary School that day. And the angels bore them up and kept them safe. Glory be to God!!

When nations go to war, it is not just the soldiers fighting, who pay the price. War is expensive, and everyone has to help with the war effort. The American people are famous for pitching in when “push comes to shove” and World War II would be no different. On May 15, 1942, the American war effort needed the American citizens to “tighten their belts” so that the funds could be used to help our soldiers. So, gasoline rationing began in 17 Eastern states. It was the first attempt to help the American war effort during World War II. President Franklin D Roosevelt then ensured that by the end of the year, mandatory gasoline rationing was in effect in all 48 states. Things got tougher, and the people felt the pinch, but they were willing to do what was necessary to win the war.

After World War I, many Americans were less than enthusiastic about entering another world war, at least until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The day after the attack, Congress almost unanimously approved Roosevelt’s request for a declaration of war against Japan and three days later Japan’s allies Germany and Italy declared war against the United States. Like it or not, war was on. With the onset of war, Americans almost immediately felt the impact of the war. The economy quickly shifted from a focus on consumer goods into full-time war production. Everyone was pitching in, and everyone was willing. With so many men in now in the fighting, the women went to work in the factories to replace the now enlisted men, automobile factories began producing tanks and planes for Allied forces and households were required to limit their consumption of such products as rubber, gasoline, sugar, alcohol, and cigarettes. Anything that might be needed for the war effort, was sacrificed by the American people, who felt like it was them just doing their part…for the most part.

A number of commodities were rationed. Rubber was the first to go, after the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies cut off the US supply. The shortage of rubber, of course affected the availability of products such as tires and anything else that used rubber. Gasoline was a given, because it would be needed to move the troops. Also, it was thought that less gasoline, would bring less travel and therefore less wear and tear on rubber tires. At first, the government urged voluntary gasoline rationing, but by the spring of 1942 it was obvious that people wouldn’t assume that their use was extravagant and not a frivolous use. Hense, first 17 states put mandatory gasoline rationing into effect, and by December, controls were extended across the entire country.

The Government issued ration stamps for gasoline were issued by local boards and pasted to the windshield of a family or individual’s automobile. The type of stamp determined the gasoline allotment for that automobile. Black stamps signified non-essential travel and so allowed no more than three gallons per week. Red stamps were for workers who needed more gas, including policemen and mail carriers. With the restrictions, gasoline became a hot commodity on the black market, while legal measures of conserving gas, like carpooling, became the norm. Another Government mandated method to reduce gas consumption, the government passed a mandatory wartime speed limit of 35 mph, known as the “Victory Speed.” Things got tight in many areas, but the American people ultimately persevered, and the war effort supplied the needed commodities.

Since both my mother, Collene Spencer and mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg are in Heaven now, Mother’s Day has taken on a new meaning. I think of my “moms” often, and I miss them both very much. They were a huge part of my life, and since I was part of the team that took care of them at the end of their lives, I think I actually grew closer to them in those latter years. I think everyone on the care teams did. Those latter years were hard on the “moms” because they couldn’t get around as easily as they had before. Struggling with mobility makes life harder. Nevertheless, they were both happy ladies. They enjoyed the extra time spent with family, and that really made the work of caregiving worth the time spent. While it was work, I would love to have the time back. Funny how you don’t really know what you have until it’s gone.

Of course, these days, I’m the mom and my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce are the moms, and we also have granddaughters, Karen Petersen and Athena Salazar (soon to be Petersen) who are the moms too. Mother’s Day can evolve and grow to include new moms all the time. There is always room for more “mom love” in our lives. Some of the memories I have of my moms are beginning to repeat themselves with only slight differences. I remember the bell ringing at lunch and running out the doors of the school to head home for lunch. Mom would have soup and sandwiches waiting for us. My favorites were Chicken Noodle soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches or Cream of Mushroom soup with toast. Yummy!! At that time, I was sometimes jealous of the kids that got to eat their lunch at school, but when I went to junior high and had to eat my lunch at school every day, I sometimes missed those days when I could run home for lunch.

I was a stay-at-home mom for the grade school years of my girls’ lives, but they rode the bus to school, and so they ate lunch at school. Karen babysits and so she is a stay-at-home mom, there for lunch before her daughter goes to school, although when Cambree is in school fulltime, it will be too far for her to come home for lunch. Athena works parttime and will often be able to be home with her son, Justin. My girls worked, so their kids ate lunch at school. Nevertheless, while mom life is and was different for each of them, the love that their children have for them and the love they have for their children is exactly the same. Every person who is blessed with a good mom knows just what a wonderful blessing that is. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!! Have a wonderful day!!

For a number of years now, my niece, Andrea Beach has been living in Rawlins, Wyoming. This was mainly because her mom and stepdad, Caryl and Mike Reed lived there. Andrea is a single mom to her son, Chris Spicer, and she wanted a good place to raise him. Wyoming was her home, and she wanted to be back there. It really was a good atmosphere for Chris, but now, her mom and stepdad retired, and moved to Casper last year, where they have a ranch.

Chris and Andrea remained in Rawlins for the last year, because he was a senior in high school, and she didn’t want to uproot him during his senior year. Now, Chris is graduating, so May is the last month Andrea and Chris will live in Rawlins. They will be moved to Casper and to the Reed ranch by the end of May. Caryl and Mike have an apartment over their shop, so Andrea and Chris will live there while they look for jobs and a place in town. They are both so excited. The rest of our family (most of us anyway), live in Casper and the surrounding area, so it has long been Andrea and Chris’ desire to be here too, and near the family.

Andrea has been doing a lot if painting in recent years, and she is really good at it. she is hoping to be able to sell her paintings at some of the craft fairs in Casper, when they get settled. She has a varied style, and she likes to paint both landscapes and abstracts. That varied style makes her more versatile in her paintings, and she has some really cool artwork which she would like to try to sell them at some of the craft fairs in Casper in the future.

For now, her main focus is looking for a job and a place of their own, even though there is no rush to get their own place. The main reason to move into town is convenience. The ranch is sure to be a long way from their jobs. Casper offers her many more opportunities than Rawlins did, based simply on the size difference between the two locations. Andrea and Chris are both very excited about the future, and all the changes that are coming in their lives…and we are happy to have them closer to the rest of the family. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My uncle, Larry Byer, out of all the nine children of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, most resembled my mom, Collene Spencer. In fact, as children, they looked so much alike that some people actually thought they were twins. When my grandmother took my Uncle Larry, who was just 20 months older than my mom, to register for Kindergarten, they asked her if she was planning to register his twin sister too. Grandma was rather surprised and told them that he didn’t have a twin. She really hadn’t thought about the fact that they had similar features, such as the same color and texture of hair, and similar facial features, with the exception of the normal differences between boys and girls. No, they didn’t look alike then or later in adulthood, but the similarities were enough to know for sure that they were siblings, and I guess that for the person registering Uncle Larry, that was enough to think they were twins.

Uncle Larry and my mom, as well as they younger brother, Wayne, who by the way, looked quite different than his older siblings, were always very close. Uncle Wayne had dark hair and Uncle Larry and my mom were blondes; and their facial features were different too. Nevertheless, they were all best friends. I suppose that age had a lot to do with it. The older siblings didn’t really want to hang out with the little siblings so much. It’s a common problem in families. So for my mom, that meant that her sisters, both older and younger, didn’t so much hang out with her when she was a child. So, she hung out with her brothers. Time changes things though, and as she got older, she hung out a lot with her older sisters. Nevertheless, she was always close with her brothers growing up.

Of course, it helped that Uncle Larry, and Uncle Wayne too, had a great sense of humor. They always kept my mom laughing and that made hanging out with her brothers, more a choice rather than a necessity. They were good to her too. The Byer brothers were kind, gentle souls, much like their dad. Mom always felt privileged to be allowed to hang out with them, and she would defend them to the end…even if it meant telling off her mom…a thing she only did once, however. It happened when Grandma was giving Uncle Larry a spanking for something he did, and my mom thought that her mom was being too harsh. So, she told her so. Grandma continued spanking Uncle Larry and ignoring my mom, but when she was done with Uncle Larry, and both kids started for the door, Grandma grabbed my mom, and gave Mom her share of the spanking…something she wouldn’t have received if she hadn’t stuck her nose in where it didn’t belong. I have often wondered if Mom regretted sticking up for Uncle Larry, or if she always felt justified. I think Uncle Larry might have appreciated the intent, even if it wasn’t a very smart idea. Today would have been Uncle Larry’s 99th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Larry. We love and miss you very much.

Six years ago, my daughter, Corrie Petersen found herself in a dead-end job, and she knew it was time for a change. The positions she had tried to move up to, the positions she trained others for…were refused her because they wanted a college degree…even though she knew the job inside out, upside down, and backwards. So, she decided to get a college degree, but not to take the positions they had. She wanted more, and after being on a family caregiving team, for years, she chose nursing. It was the perfect decision. She left her “dead-end job” and took what is today an unconventional journey toward nursing, becoming first a CNA and working while she studied for her nursing degree. We, her family are beyond proud of her determination.

Today, is a day to celebrate, and I must admit, I am going to brag on my girl a little bit. Corrie has fought long and hard for this degree. It has not been easy. I am stunned by just how much a nurse must know to actually be a nurse. I have almost felt like she needed to know as much as a doctor, even though she wasn’t going for that degree. I suppose thought that a nurse must be the eyes and ears of the doctor when it comes to the patients in her care. Corrie put her faith in God, and prayed over every test, every assignment, and her clinicals, and it has all paid off. Corrie has studied, tested, and proven herself worthy of the degree that she is receiving today. She is the proud recipient of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) from Nightingale College, and we are so very proud of her.

In November of 2022, Corrie was contacted by the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. With her outstanding grades, she qualified to join, so she applied and was accepted into the honor society. It was a great honor for her, and we are so proud of her, but that was not the end of the honors that Corrie received. As of her graduation, I am so proud to announce that Corrie has graduated with Summa Cum Laude honors. For those who don’t know, that is the highest honors possible. Her cumulative GPA was 3.96!! I was totally floored and so proud that I cried tears of joy for her. Corrie has worked so hard for all she has achieved. She pushes herself toward her goals every day, and she just never quits. Now she is a Summa Cum Laude graduate with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, and she will be an great asset to Banner Health, she currently works as a CNA…but not for much longer. Congratulations on the move to Nursing, Corrie. We are beyond proud of all you have accomplished.

Thinking about my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s life as a single mom of five kids, I decided to ask the kids to give me one unique memory of their life with their mom. Her oldest, Chantel Balcerzak told me that finding one memory was not easy, because her mind keeps jumping to everything else, because her mom is really just, well her mom. Nevertheless, one thing that keeps coming to her mind, is chatting in her mom’s car. It may seem a strange place for a mother-daughter talk, but Chantel usually walks her mom to her car after church, then, while they talk, her mom drives Chantel around to her car. Of course, that isn’t the end of it. They always end up talking for a bit…or sometimes hours in front of the church. They chant mostly just about their week, life, faith, and family, but as Chantel says, what else is there, right? They usually lose track of the time and sometimes don’t realize it until Chantel’s husband, Dave calls to see, as Chantel says, “where the heck I am!!” Chantel says that her mom is one of my best friends!!

Cheryl’s second child, Toni says “It would be pretty hard to offer one unique memory exclusive to just my mom and me. Especially since it was never just her and me.” That makes sense in large families. There are always siblings, and Cheryl usually spent time with all of her children together. Toni is amazed that her mom ever pulled off raising five kids on her own, much less doing it so well! Toni comments that “She was practically a pro at it by the time Jenny came along and she wasn’t even out of her 20’s yet!! WOW!! She sacrificed most of her young life to raise us right. And stayed the course; standing on Gods promise (Proverbs 22:6) that if she raised us up in the way we should go, we would not depart from it when we were grown. She never wavered when it came to our spiritual growth. She never allowed us to miss church. She never missed a chance to give us the scripture we needed to hear when problems arose. She made sure we all knew the Lord and she made sure we knew that he was the ONLY way!!” Toni says, “She wasn’t always able to give us the things we wanted, but she was able to give us three of the greatest gifts she could…Love, Hope, and above all, Faith in God. Those three gifts have delivered me through every good, bad, happy, sad, glad, and mad time in my life and are still the foundation that I securely stand on continually delivering me through each and every second of my life now and in the future. I am so grateful to have her as a mother!! I praise God for the miracle of her being!!”

Cheryl’s son, Rob told me that being the only boy in the house with five women in it was probably more unique for me, than for my mom. To make matters even more complicated, Cheryl came from a family of our parents and four sisters. Boys were all but unheard of in our family, when Rob came along. That being said, Cheryl always found a way, as Rob says, “to make things seem as if I wasn’t missing much by not having a dad around. She always managed to sense when I needed a man’s advice. Now, most of the time she would have grandpa (Al Spencer) take me somewhere to talk or just to hang out with him, but I think mostly she just knew something was up. She would ask me to watch a movie with her or take me to get a couple of Jalapeno and cheese hot dogs. We would sit and talk about something or sometimes nothing in particular at all. She still does this kind of stuff to this day. She was and still is both mom and dad and doing great at it.”

Her daughter, Liz told me that one of the things she loves most about her mom is that she knows how to comfort her kids. It’s not that her kids have sad lives, but we all know that into each life, a little rain must fall. Liz says, “She happily cooks for all of us whenever we ask, and she knows all of our favorite things to eat. She is always there to pray with us or for us about anything, and she always makes time to talk with us. She also lets us know when we need to be spending more time with her!! It is not hard for anyone who knows my mom to see that her children are everything to her. And hopefully she knows she is everything to us.” I believe she knows just how much her children love her. They are very loyal, quick to help her out, and always show her their love for her. They are a great blessing to her.

Cheryl probably sees her youngest daughter, Jenny the most, but that is only because they work together. All of her children try their best to make time for her and see her often. Jenny tells me that, “My favorite thing about my mom is her loving, touch, her caring eyes, and her welcoming smile. My favorite memory of her was one year when we were in South Dakota. It rained the whole week and me, my mom, and Liz sat up in a ceramic shop, that was at our campground and painted ceramics. We also read books and just enjoyed the rain and deep conversation. Lots of life lessons were learned that week. She’s a great mom and a great friend!!” Jenny also reminded me that Cheryl as been at her job now for 20 years this year. That is a milestone for sure, and I’m not sure that their company could get along without Cheryl. I guess that whenever she retires, they will have to find out how to get along without her but for now, she is a fixture there. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Our aunt, Charlys Schulenberg is all about family. She and Uncle Butch have three grown children, Tadd, Andi Kay, and Heath; as well as spouses and seven grandchildren. Their marriage has been very blessed, and Charlys is always happy when she gets to see her kids and grandkids. Unfortunately, their children don’t live in Forsyth, Montana where Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch live, but thankfully they don’t live too far away…one in Helena, Montana and two in Sheridan, Wyoming. That kind of closeness means that they and easily plan for family gatherings, and I’m sure that makes everyone very happy.

Aunt Charlys is such a sweet person, and a great blessing to be around…if you like being spoiled, and let’s be real, who doesn’t like being spoiled. The times Bob and I went to visit, I found out just what a great cook Aunt Charlys is. She and Uncle Butch have a lovely home in a senior community, that overlooks the Yellowstone River. That view is spectacular, and it inspires lots of pictures of stunning sunsets over the river. Not to mention many evenings sitting in the back yard watching the river go by as the sun sets. There is nothing more peaceful than that. They also have beautiful flower gardens, and a nice lawn that they really don’t have to mow, although I think Butch might mow sometimes. Their place is just such a lovely setting, and they feel so at peace there. Of course, they also have their vegetable garden, and from what I’ve seen, it looks pretty good…at least the past ones did. Each year is new and different, and I pray that they have a great crop this year.

While I have never met Aunt Charlys’ sister, Carol Hansell, who lives in Mississippi, but I love the relationship they have. Charlys, Butch, and Carol are always teasing each other, which reminds me of my own sisters and me. I love when siblings can joke around and make each other laugh, because let’s face it, you can never laugh too much. And siblings…well, they are priceless. It used to be that if you and your siblings were going to be very close, you needed to live near each other, but now with so many options on the internet, like Facebook, you can stay close, even over the miles. It makes me happy for Aunt Charlyn and her sister.

Even though we don’t get to see Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch as much as we would like to, because we too live a way away from them. I always feel a closeness to them when we are there, or even when we are just having a Facebook conversation. They are both such friendly and welcoming people, and they make everyone feel really happy. Today is Aunt Charlys’ birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Charlys!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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