Grandchildren

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My grandson, Caalab Royce is such an upbeat kind of guy. He has a great sense of humor, and loves to make people laugh. I remember when his was just a little boy. He could tell a joke, and never forget the punchline. There are many adults who can’t recall the punchline of a joke, but the joke always made sense to Caalab, so the punchline just naturally followed, and anyone within hearing distance couldn’t help but laugh. I truly think he could have been a comedian, but then, I guess he is. He just doesn’t get paid for it, and lets face it, that is a field you can’t really count on anyway. The comedians on this day, will be gone tomorrow, because their particular sense of humor is no longer thought to be as funny as it was yesterday. Better to be a jokester, because you can tell the jokes of the day with ease, and you always get the laughs.

As a little boy, one of the funniest things Caalab said was, “I’m older than you.” He was just a little guy, but he knew the “importance” of being a grown up. The funny thing is that like most men, I don’t think Caalab has ever really grown up. I don’t mean to say that he acts childish, but men who have never lost the idea of the funny side of life is a big part of what I mean when I say that they have never grown up. Caalab, wasn’t really wanting to be grown up, but it was more like trying to make people laugh. It worked with me, but not so much with his big sister, who as a Leap Day Baby was technically younger than her younger brother. “I’m older than you” was his way of picking on his sister, and she was not amused, hahaha!!

Caalab loves music, and plays the guitar with his dad, Travis Royce often. In fact it is a family band kind of thing, and I love hearing them play and look forward to hearing it again when we visit later this summer. Caalab is quite talented, something he got from his dad, Travis, who also plays the guitar. I don’t think his dad ever took lessons, but Caalab loved the guitar so much that he took it is high school. He was very good then too. These days, Caalab and his dad, along with his sister Shai, who is learning the Mandolin, play for family and friends…all of whom feel very privileged to be in the audience. The family often has family sing-a-longs on family night, which is wonderful to attend.

Caalab grew into a great young man, and I am very proud of him. He and the rest of my daughter, Amy Royce’s family live in the Bellingham area of Washington state, and I miss them all very much. Caalab has a wonderful girlfriend named Chloe Foster, who is so perfect for him. She has endeared herself not only to Caalab, but to the rest of our family too. They are just perfect together, and that makes me very happy. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these two precious kids. I love watching how my grandchildren have grown and how they are becoming their best selves. Caalab will always be the best comedian among my grandchildren. It’s just in his nature. Today is Caalab’s 24th birthday. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My little great grand-nephew, Max Herr is turning one year old today, and he has has a very busy year. Of course, he has done many of the normal baby things like rolling over, sitting up, and clapping his hands. He also says DaDa, has teeth, loves his bath, snuggling with his mommy, Katy Balcerzak, and hanging with his daddy, Dylan Herr. Max has a great smile that lights up his whole face, and his laugh is infectious. He delights in everything new to him…which is everything, so he is always very excited about things he sees and does.

Max has had a number of wonderful adventures in his first year of life. His family took a trip to Red Wing, Minnesota; Casper, Wyoming; sunny Florida; the Ice Castles in Dillon, Colorado; the Botanic Gardens in Denver; and they they moved from Brighton, Colorado to Casper, Wyoming. Max had a great time celebrating all the holidays for the very first time. All in all, Max is finding out just how great this celebration called life is.

For Katy and Dylan, things have changed dramatically. They now have a new boss, because when it comes to Max…well, he is the boss, and he is getting very vocal about letting them know that fact. That’s what happened when Max found his words. Dada and Mama brought his parents running, even if it was just to see what he was saying now, or what he would say next. Then as Max found out that just saying those words brought the chosen parent to him, he started saying it more and more. Of course, sometimes, the parent he wanted wasn’t in close proximity, or as in his daddy’s case, was at work, so the parent didn’t show up immediately, so Max has to say it over and over. Sadly, even the boss doesn’t get everything he wants, all the time. The good thing is that for the most part, Max is a pleasant “boss” to work for. Every time his parents respond to his calls, he presents them not with a grouchy face “barking” orders, but a smiley face, that melts their hearts. No wonder he gets to be the boss. I think that if your boss has a face like this little guy, you would be putty in his hands too. Today is Max’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Max!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

We all have them. Days when we really miss a loved one who has passed away or even a love one who lives far away. These are days when thoughts of our mom, dad, spouse, sibling, child, grandparent, or even great grandparent, so fill our minds that it brings us to tears. We push through the sadness and try not to let the tears spill over, but it is so hard, because our heart has a mind of its own sometimes, and those tears just won’t listen to our pleas to stop. Reaching out to others does little to help us, and even posting on social media doesn’t help, because it is our own sadness, our own sorrow, and we have to live it alone. Truly, our only help comes from God, who sees our every tear, and has sent the Comforter to us for just such a time as this.

The thing is that we know where our love one is, and that they are happy, but that doesn’t make it easier for us to move out of our own sadness, because the true sadness of losing someone is not sadness for them, but rather for us. And for those who know someone who is going through this sadness, there is a feeling of helplessness. We love the grieving family member or friend, but we don’t have the words or the ability to make it better for them. All we can do is to pray over them and let them know we love them, and hope it is enough to ease their pain. Of course, for many of us, their pain is shared by us because we love both them and their loved one.

No matter how painful those “miss you” days are, we must understand that they are also important, because we would never want to forget our loved ones. Their memory, while painful considering the loss, is so important considering our love for them. Unfortunately, once a loved one is in Heaven you can’t have one kind on memory without the other kind.

Missing the loved on who lives far away is different, but when you suddenly realize that it has been a year since you saw that parent, grandparent, sibling, or child, your heart goes through that same pain and sadness. The heart somehow doesn’t fully understand the difference between a loved one being in Heaven and a loved on being across the country. Yes, the heart understands that the one who lives far away will be seen again on Earth, but it still feels that pain of missing that loved one terribly…especially when you had lived so close before, even in the same house. The heart just doesn’t totally understand the feeling, it just knows that it is painful, and it brings those dreaded tears. It’s all a part of “miss you” days.

Sometimes, you can know someone, but there are parts of them that can still surprise you. My younger daughter, Amy Royce is just like that. When she lived here is Casper, Wyoming, she wasn’t really much of a gardener, but now, in Ferndale, Washington, she suddenly has a green thumb. She grows the most beautiful flowers. Her yard would be the envy of any gardener here in Wyoming, because we just don’t have the right climate for the kinds of flowers she can grow. Suddenly, Amy has Calla Lilies, Bleeding Hearts, Day Lilies, Peonies, and so many other flowers. Her yard is beautiful. She says she couldn’t get things to grow in Casper, and I get that. She and her husband, Travis recently set up a fountain and pond in their yard. I don’t know if they will add fish to the pond, but it is beautiful anyway. I really never pictured Amy as a gardener, so that has surprised me…in a good way.

Amy, the insurance agent/account manager doesn’t surprise me one bit. She was an excellent agent when we both worked at The Stengel Agency, and we really hated to lose her. Our loss turned out to be Rice Insurance’s gain, and Amy just received an award for five years of service, where she is their largest account holder, and she has the privilege of working with her daughter, Shai Royce. I know how wonderful that can be, as I have been able to work with my daughter and my granddaughter. That is uncommon unless you are working in a family business, which we weren’t…it just felt like a family business.

I can’t say that I am totally surprised at just how much Amy loves the Ferndale/Bellingham area of Washington state. The weather there is milder, and Amy really doesn’t like the cold and wind in Wyoming. The rain forests of Washington have appealed to her since the first time she visited there after her high school graduation. For Amy, that trip sealed the deal, even if she didn’t move there until her children were grown, which was mostly for me, I know. I wanted to be close to my grandchildren, Shai and Caalab, and I will always be grateful that Amy and Travis gave that privilege before they all moved. In reality, I can’t think of a prettier place to go visit, and, we probably would go as often as we do if they didn’t live there.

For Amy, living near the water, be it a lake, the Puget Sound, Birch Bay, or the Pacific Ocean (when they take a weekend trip to the coast), is like a slice of Heaven. She loves the water, the lighthouses, the whales, the dolphins, starfish (especially the purple ones), and even the seagulls. She loves to go on whale watching tours, and of course, the casinos…not that Amy and Travis are huge gamblers, but they do seem to have some pretty good winnings on occasion. The beach is one of Amy’s Happy Places and you just can’t deny your child a happy place. I can’t think of a nicer happy place to have. Today is Amy’s birthday. Happy birthday my sweet daughter!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

Whether they intend to or not, kids sometimes resemble the things we all know from commercials. Such is the case with my great grand-nephew, Jaxx Harman. Jaxx is the youngest child and only boy of my grand-nephew, Jake Harman and his wife Melanie, and Jaxx is all boy. He may have been growing up around two sisters, but that has not influenced him one bit. Jaxx loves to wrestle and fight, but never hurts his sisters, Alice and Izabella…at least not intentionally. His mom says he is like the sour patch kids…first they are sour, and then they are sweet. I don’t know about the sour side, because whenever I see Jaxx, I see his sweet side. I suppose as his great grand-aunt, he figures that he can’t really pick on me too much. He might be surprised if he tried, because I’m a great tickler!!

Jaxx absolutely loves Scooby Doo and he can recite and sing along with quite a bit of it. It’s amazing how much of something fun a child can quickly memorize, and how hard schoolwork seems to be. Maybe we need to add the cartoons to the schoolwork. I’ll bet lots of kids would memorize their lessons very quickly. And speaking of schoolwork, Jaxx just finished his first year of preschool, and he did very well. He even received an achievement award from his teacher. Jaxx loves going to school, probably because it makes him feel grow up, like his big sisters. It’s hard to be the youngest child. They always have to watch their older siblings get to go to school and to parties and to friends houses, and they don’t get to go. They always feel somewhat like the baby, at least in their childhood years. That situation is helped when they finally get to go to school too. For Jaxx that was this past school year, and he was very happy to be going.

Jaxx is such a happy, smiling boy. He loves playing with his big sisters, and they try to indulge his boy side as much as they can. That said, the girls must be pretty good wrestlers too, because I’ve seen videos of their playtime, and the can hold their own. Of course, Jaxx loves his sisters very much, and he would never hurt them either. He’s too much a gentleman…or maybe he’s the sweet side of the sour patch kids…for that. Today is Jaxx’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Jaxx!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Caalab Royce’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster is an all around sweet girl, making it easy to see why he loves her. Chloe is a family girl and a loving Aunty to Levi, Callie, and Aiden, all of whom love her to pieces!! For Chloe, becoming and aunt was one of the “epic” moments in her life. I totally get that, because babies are just amazing, and each is a blessing beyond measure. Chloe is a blessing to her family too. She loves her mom, Jeri; dad, Craig; brothers, Tyson and Tanner; sister in law, Alicia, and of course, those babies. Chloe’s relationship with my grandson, Caalab has brought a great blessing to Caalab’s family too, my son-in-law, Travis Royce; daughter, Amy Royce; and granddaughter, Shai Royce have gained new friends, and really extended family members in the Fosters. It’s a win/win for both of these families!! I love the combining of two families, and Chloe is a great connector for this one.

Chloe has been keeping a low profile…mostly by force, as the state of Washington is still under Covid restrictions, but staying home did give her more study time. Chloe is working toward a degree in Forensic Psychology. Yesterday, she started a new course for the summer semester. She tells me that school and working is a lot to take on, but my sweet grandson is very supportive, and she says it makes it a little bit easier to handle. Plus, I know that my grandson can cook, so I expect that he is sharing or taking over that job from Chloe to give her time to study. Chloe works as a supervisor at Starbucks, and really enjoys the job and the people she works with. Her job comes with the usual perks, of free coffee, so what else could she ask for. Hahahahaha!! Not a reason to take a job, but it doesn’t hurt.

Chloe is so thoughtful. She is always doing little things to brighten the day of those around her. Her parents have often been the recipients of her humorous and sweet sides. Now, Caalab’s family is too. She is a blessing to all who know her. Chloe has artistic abilities too. I don’t know how I could be associated with so many talented, artistic people, and not have an artistic bone in my body, but that has been what I’ve seen. Chloe enjoys painting, and when she met Caalab, who loves Bob Marley, Chloe set out painting a Bob Marley picture for him. She did an amazing job, and Caalab was so pleased!! She also did a painting of her little niece, Callie that is amazing too. Such wonderful talent!! I love it!! Chloe truly is a blessing. Today is Chloe’s birthday. Happy birthday Chloe!! Have an awesome day!! We love you!!

My sister, Cheryl Masterson is one of the most honorable people I know. She lives her life on purpose…following the will of God, and being a blessing to everyone she comes in contact with. Cheryl doesn’t just live a respectable life out in public, but lives that same respectable kind of life in private. She is a prayer warrior and is willing to pray without ceasing when needed. If you find yourself in a bad situation, Cheryl is definitely one of the people you want to have praying for you.

Cheryl is a family-first kind of person. Her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, as well as sisters and their families are her priority, second only to God. Her favorite things to do revolve around her kids and grandkids. She loves having family dinners, where all of her family come to eat and spend time together. Traditionally, Cheryl has a day or two a week when she cooks a big meal and her family all join her for dinner. Cheryl lives in our family home. During the last years of our parents lives, she was the live-in caregiver to them, while the rest of us put in time during the day. After our dad, Al Spencer’s passing, our mom, Collene Spencer made out her will, giving the house to her daughters, with a lifetime estate to Cheryl. The rest of us had homes, and it is a fitting reward for all the time Cheryl gave to their care. Now that our parents are both in Heaven, Cheryl no longer has patients to care for, freeing her up to entertain her family. She spends a lot of time with her youngest grandchild, Aleesia Spethman. They are very close and they enjoy their time together very much.

Cheryl is also artistically inclined, and has made many things for our homes. I still use one of basket decorations she made for me when my husband and I bought our home in 1995. I love it, and it brightens my breakfast nook. I don’t tend to be as artistically inclined, so when we bought our house, Cheryl was a huge help in it’s decoration. We had been living in a smaller mobile home, so there were a lot of walls to decorate in the new house. It was a little overwhelming for me, but she made it seem easy. My other sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, as well as my parents helped too, and in the end, I loved the look. I have been very blessed to have the sisters I do, and Cheryl, being the eldest has always been the leader, and in many ways, now the spiritual leader of the Sister Prayer Warriors. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Kaytlyn Griffith has reached a milestone in her life today. She is officially a teenager, turning 13 today. I find it very hard to believe that she could possibly be 13 already. It seems like just yesterday that Kaytlyn made her entrance into the world. Now, unbelievably, she is in her second year of Middle School already. School, now there’s a concept. We all thought we knew what school was like, but Covid-19 has completely blown our idea of school out of the water. Middle School is usually a time of learning more than just the educational studies. The students get to start having school dances, sports (which they also have in elementary school too), school politics, clubs, and other such activities. Unfortunately, with Covid, they haven’t had any dances and have to go straight to class when getting to school, instead of socializing for a while. It’s a whole new world, and the school kids are some of the worst hit by it.

The 2020 school year was the strangest one we have had since the 1918 Spanish Flue Pandemic. Things were normal, until Spring Break, and then it all stopped. School was over for the rest of the year. The Covid restrictions kept everyone at home, unless their jobs were deemed essential. Students had to adjust to online learning over Zoom or Google Classroom. Even screen time with their teachers was limited…often to 30 minutes a day. Parents became homeschool teachers, when they were not prepared for such an occupation. Kids became depressed and disinterested. The school year was a disaster, by anyone’s standards. Kaytlyn loves school, and this new educational reality was not a reality she wanted to be a part of. In fact, I don’t know of a single student that did want to be a part of it, or the current situation that is just a continuation of the new educational reality…school with a mask.

One good thing that came out of being home for the last part of the 2020 school year was that Kaytlyn’s family got a new animal friend…Olive. Olive is a mixed breed of Pit Bull, German Shepard, and Lab, and she is Kaytlyn’s best friend…well, animal friend, anyway. It was nice having Kaytlyn home with Olive, when she first came to live with them, to help with training her to go outside and not to chew stuff up. Kaytlyn and Olive’s birthdays are also very close. My Olive was born on March 4th, so Olive is 1 and Kaytlyn is 13. Susan finds herself feeling rather sad, because her children are officially no longer little kids. I know what she means. You are never ready for adult kids…or grandkids, but they don’t care. Kids just keep growing up.

Kaytlyn is really enjoying being back in school this year and working very hard on her grades. I’m not sure if we will ever really know how badly this online learning experiment hurt our kids…especially since “No Child Left Behind” doesn’t allow kids to be held back. They just get further and further behind. Thankfully, Kaytlyn is the exception to that rule too. This year with her hard work, Kaytlyn is carrying a 3.5 GPA, putting her on the Honor Roll!! Her parents are so proud of her, and so am I. Today is Kaytlyn’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Kaytlyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Three out of four years, my granddaughter, Shai Royce doesn’t get a real birthday. That’s because her real birthday only happens once every four years. Of course, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get a birthday celebration, because she does. Shai’s birthday is as special as she is, and that needs to be celebrated. The funny thing about it is that people don’t know exactly when to do that. Because my grandson, Shai’s cousin Chris Petersen was born the day before she was, we have always celebrated her nano-birthday on March 1, even if it is the wedding anniversary of her grandparents, my husband Bob and me. Chris and Shai are part of a cluster of birthdays and one anniversary, because Chris was born on my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday. Not every Leap Day Baby calls the off years a nano-birthday. In reality, I made that up. You see, the birthday has to exist…right? It is the nano-second between 11:59pm on February 28th and 12:00am on March 1st…hence the nano-birthday. Technically, the Leap Day Baby can celebrate their nano-birthday on February 28, March 1st, or both, and when she turned 4 (16) she was able to get her driver’s license a day early, because that is just how the DMV did it. We have a lot of fun with the Leap Day Birthday/Nano-Birthday that we have, as I think most people who have or know someone who has that birthday do.

Shai is a very social person, and is always the life of the party. She gets that from her dad, Travis Royce. They can both walk into a room and instantly have friends to talk to…even if they didn’t know anyone before. They have simply never met a stranger. Her brother, Caalab is that way too. Her mom is more like her grandma…knowing that it can sometimes get too “peopley” out there. I think Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster is more my Amy and me, but I could be wrong. It takes all kinds to make life happy, and Shai’s family all live in harmony and get along very well.

Shai is a personal lines account manager at Rice Insurance, LLC, where her mom, Amy also works. They are both well respected in the insurance industry, and I guess I can take a little credit for that, since I gave both of them their start in insurance. Nevertheless, you can hire someone to work in insurance, but you cannot make it their niche. That is something they must decide for themselves, or as is the case with my daughter and granddaughter, have insurance in your blood. It is an industry that has served them both well, and that makes me very happy. Today is Shai’s 25th birthday, or in real years, it’s her 6¼ birthday. She could just be the youngest insurance agent in history, unless there is another Leap Day Baby who is an insurance agent. Happy nano-birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Christopher Petersen became my grandson 25 years ago today. He was the baby that changed my title from mom to grandmother. It amazes me that it has been a quarter of a century already. So much has changed, and yet it seems like it was just yesterday. From the wide-eyed little boy to the dad he is now…he has blessed us along the way, and I know that the future will be wonderful too. Chris and his fiancée, Karen have two beautiful children, Cambree and Caysen. Their life is so blessed, and that makes me so happy for them.

When I think of the little boy Chris was and how excited he was to get a brother of his own. I think Chris liked babies even then, or maybe it was because his brother, Josh was his brother. Chris wanted to help and couldn’t wait until Josh could play. That kind of kid love has remained. He still loves the playtime he has with his babies. Chris is patient and fun-loving, and that makes the kids love hanging with Daddy. Chris and Karen have that in common. They both love kids, and kid play, and they totally celebrate their family time. It makes for such a fun home, filled with lots of giggles and smiles. Cambree loves being with her daddy when he isn’t working, and Caysen is already his daddy’s snuggler whenever he gets the chance. Together, Chris and Karen are great parents, and I am so proud of them.

Chris works hard at his job at Craves, where he is a manager. His job is his means to a better life for his family, but the reality is that his family is what it’s all about. Nothing is more important than his family, and that is the way it should be. Kids grow up so fast, which is more and more evident to me when I realize that Chris is 25 years old. His kids will be the same way for him…growing up rapidly, and right before our eyes. It seems impossible that that Chris would have two kids already, but he does, and of course, with Cambree’s arrival, I passed another milestone…great grandma. I could say that it will be a long time before I become a great great grandma, but then I won’t because I know how quickly those years can fly by. I’m glad that Chris and Karen are treasuring each and every day with their babies, because they really do grow us so quickly. Today is Chris’ 25th birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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