Grandchildren

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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!!

My youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock has always been a woman with a sweet, loving spirit. Many times, the youngest child is the most spoiled, but while Allyn received the least amount of discipline, it was not because she was spoiled. Our mom, Collene Spencer told us once that the reason Allyn got less spankings was because her spirit was just so grieved by a simple tongue lashing, even a couple of disciplinary words…that mom didn’t have the heart to spank her much. If Mom told her something as simple as “that was naughty,” Allyn was heartbroken. She felt so awful…about so small a transgression. Oh, to have that kind of a gentle spirit…that kind of a heart for God and doing what is right.

That spirit has never left Allyn. She is such a giver. She wants to do anything she can to help the people around her…whether she knows them, whether they are family, or not. She gives of her time, as well as her abilities. There is a softness in Allyn’s spirit that I just love. That little girl, who had such a soft heart, who always wanted to do what was right, the one that my sisters and I always said was always good, hasn’t changed one bit. She still does whatever she can to make life easier for those around her. She is a helper, as I’m sure those she works with will attest. She doesn’t quit until the job is done. Allyn has worked in medical administration for years now, and while her company name has changed, she has been at the same place for a long time. Today, she works for Wyoming Medical Center. She is well liked there, and well respected by her co-workers and subordinates alike. Her position is in supervision in the billing department, and she enjoys it very much. She likes the people she works with, and they all work well together.

As much as Allyn loves her job, her first love, after God that is, will always be her family. She is wife to Chris, mom to Jessi Sawdon, Ryan Hadlock, Lindsay Moore, and Kellie Hadlock. She is a beloved mother-in-law to Jason Sawdon, Chelsea Hadlock, and Shannon Moore. She is also grandma to Ethan Hadlock, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore, as well as Jonathan Sawdon and Hallie Moore who both live in Heaven. Allyn’s family is the most important thing on this earth to her. She loves each and every one with all her heart…and they love her. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Josh Petersen is such a hard working young man. He has two jobs, totaling up to at least 12 hours a day. I don’t know how he does it, and still maintains his good disposition. He has always been an easy going guy though…not a lot of things get him upset. If you do cross that line, however…look out. Still, even if he yells at you, he never holds a grudge, so you are forgiven almost immediately…and as Grandma, I never get yelled at, haha!! To be honest he doesn’t yell at his parents either.

A couple of years ago, Josh became an uncle to a sweet little girl, and will be uncle to a sweet little boy in November. It was one of the greatest moments in his life. He loves being uncle, even though he doesn’t get to see his niece too often, because he works so many hours. Josh has always loved kids, and animals. He has a number of fur babies, and recently lost his oldest dog, Molly, who was also his constant companion whenever he wasn’t working. Molly was a Dachshund, and Molly was his girl. He loved her very much. She was originally purchased by his parents for the family, but from the beginning, Molly was Josh’s dog. Animals are like that. They pick out the “human” they want to belong to, and there is little you can do to change their mind. Molly picked Josh, and the rest is history.

Josh was one of many essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. He works at Sanford’s Grub and Pub at night, and All Out Fire during the day. Both were considered essential jobs. It helped in the job situation, but while many of us were hanging out at home, watching television, he was still hard at it. Josh is such a trustworthy guy. He originally started working at Sanford’s when he was 15 years old. They didn’t normally hire kids at that age, but they “took a chance” on him, and they have never been sorry. He has worked there longer than anyone else, including the managers, and he is the current kitchen manager. At just 22, that is a pretty good accomplishment.

Josh may not have lots of free time, but he has good friends that he enjoys hanging out with…people he has known for years. Josh is a loyal friend too, and he is the kind of guy who will give you the shirt off his back, if you needed it. It doesn’t matter what the hour, if he can help, he will help. That’s just the way Josh is. Today is Josh’s 22nd birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My son-in-law, Kevin Petersen is a car fanatic. He loves classic cars, and knows just how to make them shine. From the engine to the paint job, Kevin has the skills. His dad, Dean Petersen gave Kevin his 1966 Mercury Cyclone, and Kevin is slowly restoring it. Unfortunately with his rheumatoid arthritis, he can only work about an hour a day a few days a week. Still, he is getting there. Kevin rents a shop where he stores his car and his son, my grandson, Chris’ Camaro. When Kevin gets his car done, it will be stunning. Kevin has always had nice cars, usually classics. This was something Kevin shared with his boys, Chris and Josh. Its a guy thing. I don’t know many guys who don’t love cars.

As his boys have grown up…Chris is 24 and Josh will be 22 on the 9th of this month…they don’t have as much time to spend with their parents. They still try to help and visit their dad and mom whenever they can, but they work a lot of hours, and Chris has a family too. Of course, that is a blessing in itself. Being a grandpa has been the most wonderful thing too. Kevin has always been all about his family. His granddaughter and soon, new grandson, have him literally bursting with joy. Babies have a way of doing that. Now, as in many families, the grandparents go to visit the grandkids, at least more than the kids get to their house. The work around Chris’ schedule, but they don’t mind. They also like to FaceTime with their granddaughter, who immediately commandeers her parents’ phones to take her grandparents to her room to watch her play. Mostly she’s pretty good about keeping the conversation going, and not just getting absorbed in her play, but even if she does that, they don’t really mind. They love watching her play. She has become a great big part of their world.

Kevin has always had a soft heart, but he is fiercely loyal to his family and will defend them to the end. He is always there to help whenever he can, and he is a great husband and dad. Kevin is an artist. His work is beautiful, and I love that I have been the recipient of some of his work. He has done beautiful stained glass work, paintings, and drawings. Not everyone has that ability, and so it’s awesome that my son-in-law is one that did. His disability has limited the amount of art he can do, but what he does is wonderful. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When Dave Balcerzak married my niece, Chantel, he brought to the marriage two children, Keifer and Katy. Chantel also brought to the marriage two children, Jake and Siara. When they got married in 2002, the children were between the ages of 14 and 7 years. They instantly became a blended family, and they all got along very well. Dave really loves kids, and he was an excellent dad to Chantel’s kids, as well as to his own. It isn’t easy to raise kids, especially during the teenaged years, and it’s even harder to raise someone else’s kids, but Dave took it all in stride, and Chantel’s kids love him very much. They consider him really more their dad, than their own dad is.

One of the blessings of having children, is the entrance of the next generation…grandchildren. In a blended family, the grandchildren are also blended. The first grandchild to come along, was a bonus baby names Alice Green. She joined Chantel’s son Jake Harman’s family when he married Alice’s mom, Melanie. Alice took to Dave almost instantly. She adored him. Alice was soon joined by sister, Izabella Harman and brother, Jaxx Harman. Dave was relishing in grandfatherhood. Then, Dave’s son, Keifer and his wife, Katie welcomed their daughter, Reece Balcerzak. Reece gave the family a bit of a scare, by arriving quite early, but she was a fighter, and all went well. Chantel’s daughter, Siara and her husband, Nick Olsen gave birth to Alec Olsen, who after 3 months, went to live in Heaven, breaking the hearts of all of his family, who miss him very much. Finally, Dave’s daughter, Katy Balcerzak and her fiancé, Dylan Herr, gave birth to their son, Max. Dave and Chantel’s blended family is going through more blending, as the new grandchildren have arrived. Life is so sweet, when grandchildren are involved. I know that the future will bring more grandchildren, and great happiness to this wonderful blended family that Dave and Chantel have so lovingly created.

Dave has been a wonderful addition to our family. He has a heart of gold, and the capacity to love everyone, a trait that has endeared him to all of us. It’s not every parent who has the ability to love their step-children as much as their own children, but for Dave they are all his children, and he will give the best of himself for all of them, and the blessing he has been to them, is now being returned to him, many times over. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Twenty seven years…it can seem like a lifetime, or as is the case with my daughter, Corrie Petersen, and her husband, Kevin, it can fly by so quickly that it seems impossible that it has been that many years already. Corrie and Kevin began dating when she was just 15 and he was 19. They fell in love almost instantly, and they have never looked back. They married two weeks after Corrie turned 18.

So many things have changed over the course of 27 years. Two sons were born into their union, Christopher and Joshua. They were blessed with much love in their home, which they purchased almost immediately after their marriage, with the down payment coming from a car accident that occurred on their honeymoon. Kevin and his dad, Dean knew how to do bodywork on cars and to paint them, so much of the payment for their damages was left to them following the accident that was the fault of the other driver…who was an honest kid, who accepted the blame and was just thankful that no one was hurt.

Over the years, Corrie and Kevin have had a number of pets, from their first…a Dalmatian puppy, to their currents…a Scottie, two Dachshunds, and a cat. Their love of pets is quite evident, and they have been equally blessed in return. The also shared their love of pets with their sons, who both have pets in their homes, now that they are grown.

With the adulthood of their children, came more changes. the empty nest that many people dread, was not their favorite time, but they have adjusted to it, and the addition of Chris’ fiancée, his little daughter, and with a son to follow in November, life is getting better and better every day. Both of their sons were able to keep their jobs during the Covid-19 Pandemic, and in fact were considered “essential workers,” which helped to alleviate any financial concerns for Corrie and Kevin, concerning their children. Life has been good to them, and the love in their family is filled to overflowing. Twenty seven years have flown by, which is exactly what happens when you are having fun. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 27th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you both!!

My grandson, Caalab Royce is a hard worker, who is also very loyal. He stayed at a job he had at Red Robin in Bellingham, Washington, much longer than he really wanted to, but every time he considered quitting, they gave him a raise. So, he stayed and he did a good job for them. Nevertheless, eventually that was not going to be enough, so when he was offered a job as an apprentice in the HVAC industry, he told Red Robin goodbye. I know they were very sad to see him go, as he had been their best worker, but they could see the value in what he was going to do, and they wished him well.

Caalab loves his new job, and who can blame him, really. Yes, the work is hard, but they spend a lot of time on the islands around the Pacific Northwest, and since ferry rides to work are a rather slow-go, the crew usually flies to the job once the trucks are there. Many jobs take several days, so the first day, the trucks and equipment are taken to the site, and after that, the crew flies in each day, over the beautiful island views. So…how’s your commute? I know Caalab’s commute is a lot of fun, and I wish I could ride along just once. Caalab has sent me videos of his commute, and it is just beautiful. He spends a lot of time at Friday Harbor, which is one of my favorite places among the islands there. Of course, I go as a tourist, and have time to spend doing what I like, including whale watching, but he goes to work, so it is different, but he has sent pictures of the amazing views too, so it doesn’t seem like he has it too tough.

Caalab has always had a way with animals, including wild animals. Once at my house, a squirrel climbed up his pant leg and continued toward his shoulder…until Caalab’s face appeared, and the squirrel realized what he was doing. He ran away very quickly then. Recently, when the crew arrived at the job site, the men saw a bird with a string wrapped around it’s wing. The bird was in real trouble. The guys caught the bird and removed the string. Afterward, the bird wasn’t in a real hurry to leave, and it sat on Caalab’s hand for about 5 minutes, until Caalab tossed it into the air and it flew away. It was as if the bird wanted to stay for just a few minutes to say, “Thank you, for saving my life.” It was a really special moment for Caalab, who said it was “straight out of a movie.”

Of course, Caalab isn’t all about his job either. These days, he is “all about Chloe!!” Chloe Foster is the love of his life, and such a sweet girl that everyone can see why he loves her. Everybody has that one person who is just perfect for them, and Chloe is Caalab’s “just perfect” one. He will be the first to tell you that she “completes him” and anyone who knows them can clearly see that it’s true. It seems to me that Caalab flies to work, and floats home. It’s a great commute, wouldn’t you agree? Today is Caalab’s birthday. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Caalab Royce met a girl a while back and they have been almost inseparable ever since. Her name is Chloe Foster, and she is as sweet as she can be. These kids are perfect for each other. Both are dedicated to their families and to each other’s family too…and the cool thing is that their families like each other too. It’s always special when you can join two families…because the kids got together. When Caalab met Chloe, his whole life changed. I really didn’t hear about anything else but Chloe, and when we met her, we could see what he saw in her. Her personality was totally infectious, and I enjoyed meeting her very much.

As Chloe’s birthday approached I began to wonder about this girl who holds my grandson’s heart. I knew that she is studying criminal justice in college, and that she is a Christian, which makes me very happy. She has a sweet spirit, which I have seen in the things she posts. Caalab tells me that she has been spending part of the “shelter-at-home” time in which we have all found ourselves, studying the Bible. She is a girl who prays and allows God to lead her in the way she should go. These kinds of things make my heart glad.

Chloe is also a very talented artist. She recently sat down and is just a few hours she had painted a watercolor picture of Bob Marley. Caalab really likes Bob Marley, so he was very impressed with her work. I don’t know too much about Bob Marley, but I know enough to recognize him in her painting. She did a good job. Recently, I friended Chloe’s mom on Facebook, and when looking at her pictures, I saw some of the funnier ways that Chloe uses her artwork…namely, greeting cards. I won’t display them here, but let’s just say she thanked her parents for their part in giving her life…her mom for Chloe’s first home, and her dad for putting her and her brothers, Tyson and Tanner, in the race in the first place. The cards were tastefully done, and very sweet in a funny sort of way, but they told me more about this girl who has loved cows for much of her life. I thought it funny, when my granddaughter, Shai Royce, Caalab’s sister, told me to buy Chloe something with a cow on it for Christmas…now, I can see that Shai knows Chloe pretty well. Shai loves Chloe as much (well almost as much) as Caalab does. As a grandmother, I can say it is heartwarming to know that someone cares so much for my grandson…that she not only holds his heart, but she protects it too. Today is Chloe’s birthday. Happy birthday Chloe!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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