Kids

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My grand-niece, Katy Balcerzak’s fiancé, Dylan Herr is co-owner, with his dad, Robert Herr, of Red Wing Shoes. They have stores in Casper, Wyoming; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Brighton, Colorado. Recently Dylan, Katy, and their precious son, Max moved from Brighton to Casper to run the new store here. The only bad thing about that is that, at least for now, Dylan is working 7 days a week, and periodically traveling to Cheyenne and Brighton to check on things there. The Herr family has owned a Red Wing Shoe Stores franchise for three generations. They continue to expand and grow in sales.

Dylan and Katy recently bought their first house here in Casper, and he has become quite the handyman. He put together a swing set for Max, which as we all know, is not the easiest of projects. He has also completely transformed the yard at the house, which needed a lot of work to take it from dead weeds to green grass. Being a homeowner is, as most of us know or find out quickly, a rather large and never ending job. Houses, while wonderful to have, are always in need of some kind of work. Dylan seems to have a knack for that kind of thing, so I’m sure those little projects are really rather fun. It’s always exciting to put your own stamp on your new home, and to show your unique style. Dylan and Katy have been doing just that since they moved back to Casper. 

Dylan is a very patient and kind person. That is truly what made Katy love him so, and why Max thinks he is the greatest daddy on Earth. Having moved to Casper, Dylan misses his parents, Robert and Dee Dee Herr, and his brother Tyler Herr and his wife, Amber, and they miss him, Katy, and Max very much. They are all a close family, including the grandparents, and that makes a move hard. It’s always hard to live far from your kids…especially when the grandchildren begin to show up. Dylan’s parent and brother are all very close to Dylan’s little family, and it makes it hard, but thankfully it isn’t too far away. they can get up for weekends and such once in a while, and that helps a lot. Dylan and Katy are starting this new adventure in her home town, and we are very happy for them. Today is Dylan’s birthday. Happy birthday Dylan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-nephew, James Renville met the love of his life, Manuela Ortiz a couple of years ago, and from that point forward, they knew that it was love. Theirs was not the easiest of courtships, because Manuela worked in New Jersey, and James lives in Casper, Wyoming. That was not a deterrent for James, however, because when it comes to the perfect one…love will find a way. The good news is that James loves to travel, so traveling to see this girl who has captured his heart was no hardship at all. The only hardship was leaving her to come back home.

James and Manuela longed for the day when they would no longer have to be separated by the miles between their jobs. When love is real, you never want to be so far apart. Your hearts are as one, and you know that it is time to begin to build your own life together. That is exactly how James and Manuela felt. While their relationship began with distance making things difficult, it did not stop love from growing, and now they can put those miles behind them, and go forward as one. Their families are so excited for them to become man and wife.

A short time ago, in October, James popped the question, and Manuela said yes. With that one little word, James’ life suddenly felt complete. Manuela was the girl of his dreams, and the one his mother had been praying for to complete her son. In fact, Manuela is so sweet, that our whole family loves her dearly, and we can’t wait to make her a part of our family. Well, today is that day. James and Manuela have chosen Bear Trap Meadow as the site for their wedding, and they really couldn’t have picked a prettier site. The excitement is building, and we can’t wait to watch this beautiful wedding take place. Love is truly in the air, and love has found a way for these two precious people. Congratulations as you go forward in marriage, James and Manuela. We love you both very much, and wish for you two, the greatest blessings that God has to give.

As another of my parents, Al and Collene Spencer’s anniversaries comes around again, I find myself wondering how it could be that they have been in Heaven for so long now. Dad left us in 2007 and Mom left in 2015. They were so in love, for so many years, and now they are back together again, and I know they are so happy. Mom and Dad got married when she was just 17, and they were parents just 10 months later. That was common in that era. Most couple got married, and the babies started coming in rapid succession. For Mom and Dad, that meant a new daughter every two years, with the exception of my sister, Caryl Reed, who followed my breech birth at three years later. I suppose Mom should have had a C-section with me, but it seems the doctors thought it wouldn’t be a problem, if they just dislocated my hips for the birth. A strange thought these days, but I did survive, so I won’t complain.

Mom and Dad, were not to have a son, and I think that as the years went by, they considered their daughters to be a blessing…or at least we hope they did. When it came time to take care of them in their later years, they were very glad they had daughters, because we became caregivers without even questioning the idea. We all agreed that our parents were worth every sacrifice that might need to be made. They were such good parents to us, and we all feel honored to have be given such wonderful, loving parents to raise us and show us the right way to go in life. We never had to try to find God in our life, because we were raised in church, by our responsible parents, and I think each of us can honestly say that there is no time in our life when we didn’t know God. We didn’t have a day when we found Jesus. He lived in our house from the day they married, and we always knew him.

Mom and Dad had a wonderful, loving relationship, and they were demonstrative about their love. They kissed in front of us…daily. Dad gave Mom a love pat on the derrière when he got home from work, and we all knew it was in love. Dad always called her “Doll” and for years, I thought that was her name. He always sent flowers on their anniversary and her birthday, and chocolates on Christmas, and of course, with her January 1st birthday, there was always a big party for New Years Eve. Mom always treated Christmas and his birthday with the same special kinds of things, although, not the same ones as he gave her…of course. They loved spending time together, and eventually worked together. They relished their time together in retirement too…wanting nothing more than time together. Sometimes people fight when they are together too much, but not my parents. They just enjoyed their life together.

They loved going camping and made sure that my sisters and I always got a summer vacation trip. Dad loved to travel all his life, and so teaching his girls (Mom too) a love of travel was a big thing for Dad. He may have been outnumbered by girls, but I think Dad considered it a blessing, except when he needed in the bathroom, and it was occupied. How he survived that little house with just one bathroom and 6 women trying to get ready, I’ll never know. Nevertheless, with the many trials of having girls, Mom and Dad wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was a wonderful life. Happy 68th Wedding Anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you both very much.

Corrie pregnant with ChrisWhen my daughter, Corrie Petersen married the love of her life, Kevin Petersen in 1993, at the young age of 18 years, they had been dating for three years already. Kevin was a part of our family, and he was enough older than Corrie to be able to “take care of” her in the way I expected of him. Corrie and Kevin did some things early in their marriage. The bought their first home within about three months of getting married…no wasting their money on rent. I was very proud of them when the got that house, and it was such a cute little house, just down the street three blocks from my parents. I liked that they were close and drove by my parents house on their way home. If my parents needed help, Corrie and Kevin were close by.

Soon, their lives were changing, as their boys arrived. During her pregnancy with Christopher, Corrie worked as a waitress at the restaurant Kevin’s dad, Dean Petersen and his mom Becky Skelton owned. Kevin worked there too, making it a family business. Corrie’s belly got so big with Christopher that she could actually carry a tray on it. That is not uncommon, as anyone who has had a baby can tell you, but it was rather comical to see Corrie with a tray on her belly, and the customers are all probably hoping the baby doesn’t kick.

Over the years I have watched as they have gone through things as a couple, and how they are always there for each other. Life happens, and a couple who is there for each other can weather the storms of life when they come. They have faced a miscarriage, health issues, disability, and career changes and yet they stand strong together. Now that Corrie is in nursing school, I have been so pleased with how Kevin has taken care of her. He cooks the meals and takes care of the house, and all with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, as well as the complications that go with them. Corrie takes care of him too, in all things medical. They each have talents hey can use to care for the other. It is a very sweet thing to watch.

The old poem by Robert Browning that reads like this “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” is something that reminds me of Corrie and Kevin. They just keep plugging along, supporting each other through any difficulty, and cheering each other on through every accomplishment. That is what marriage is all about…being there for each other. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 28th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

You never know when you might meet that perfect companion…the one who could easily become your forever love. Sometimes, that is the case, as with my niece, Lacey Stevens, when she met that guy who is just perfect for her…Chris Killinger. Their meeting was a complete accident…no, not like a car accident, but an accident nevertheless. Chris needed to get his hair done, and his regular girl was unavailable, so she suggested he go to Lacey. Well, you might say the rest is history. Lacey would never “steal” another hairdresser’s client, but Chris tells Lacey that he was instantly attracted to this beautiful new hairdresser that he had stumbled upon, and he felt a connection right away. He certainly wasn’t going back now. In fact, he was totally going forward from there. He asked Lacey out, and they have been an Item since that perfectly accidental day. Lacey gained a new client that day, and I’m sure her friend didn’t really mind that things worked out the way the did. Sometimes you get to be a matchmaker, and when you do, it’s very cool. Chris has been Lacey’s client ever since! When Lacey decided to spread her wings and go into business for herself, Chris has been very supportive. He has helped with advertising, and the other things it takes to get a business off the ground, and that has been a big help for Lacey.

Somehow, it’s not surprising that Chris and Lace met. Lacey’s mom, my sister, Alena Stevens went to school with Chris’ Uncle George, so she was surprised when Lacey told her the name of her new guy. Lacey’s sister, Michelle Stevens and her fiancé Matt Miller went to school with Chris, so they knew him too. It seems like he was on Lacey’s radar, even if she (and he) didn’t know it.

Chris is a great dad to his kids, Brooklyn and Jaxon, and they have been a great addition to the family too. Lacey has one niece, Elliott Stevens, and she just loves her new cousins. Chris has done such a good job raising these sweet children. They are all a perfect fit in the family. We can’t help but love them already. Chris is kind and gentle, which is perfect for Lacey who is such a gentle person herself. That same kind gentleness applies to how he is with his kids too.

Chris loves spending time with his family, and with Lacey’s family. He didn’t grow up camping as a kid, so he really enjoys family camping adventures with Lacey’s family. He’s learning all about what camping entails. It’s new to him, but he is excited to continue to grow and learn and give his kids that experience too. It’s going to be a great experience for all. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As his birthday arrives, my niece, Lindsay Moore gets very excited to celebrate her husband, Shannon Moore. Some years are easy and some years are hard, but Shannon is always there for Lindsay and their daughter, Mackenzie. This past year has been one of the tough ones, because Shannon and Lindsay went through something no parents should ever have to go through…the loss of their second daughter, Hallie Joy, who was born and died on December 19, 2020. Shannon and Lindsay were so very saddened by their little daughter’s passing, but they knew that they had to go forward, because they have another daughter…Mackenzie, and she needed them to be the best parents they can be.

Lindsay tells me that Shannon is just that…a dad like no other! He and Mackenzie have such a sweet bond. He loves taking care of her, and he loves giving her and Lindsay the best of everything. For a vacation, Shannon took his family to Disney world last week. They had a wonderful time, and Mackenzie, like most kids at Disney World, or any fair, was completely star struck. It was so much fun to watch her eyes filled with wonder at all the sights and all the rides. Watching Mackenzie experience new things really gives Shannon so much joy. The family got together in Laramie with Lindsay and Shannon for the Independence celebration too, and Shannon and my brother-in-law, his father-in-law, Chris Hadlock had a great time organizing and setting off the fireworks. That really is another event that Mackenzie and her cousin Adelaide Sawdon don’t recall last year’s, so it’s like the first time, but then isn’t every year of fireworks like the first year.

Shannon is quite the handyman, and he has been helping various friends with some home improvement projects this summer. Home Improvement projects are always on everyone’s list of things to do, and it’s very nice to have someone to help out when you are doing them. When Shannon isn’t helping his friends, he and Lindsay like to go camping. They bought a new camper this year, and have been enjoying taking Mackenzie camping before Shannon has to go back to work at the University of Wyoming, where he is the assistant coach for the Wyoming Cowboys Football team. He is also their tight ends coach and helps with special teams too. Last year, with Covid-19, was a strange coaching year, because it is hard to coach virtually, but Shannon made it work and they did get part of a season. He is looking forward to getting back to work and do some real coaching. Today is Shannon birthday. Happy birthday Shannon!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

While riding the 1880 Train on the last day of our annual trip to the Black Hills, Bob and I were sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the ride. It is a favorite part of our trip each year. One of the things that I like to do on these train rides, is to listen to what the people around us think of the journey. When you ride the train every year. You know the area, and while it is still very interesting to me, I do know the area. Others don’t, so it’s interesting to see what they think of this area I love so much. I almost feel like a local listening to the tourists who are viewing this place for the first time.

This trip’s most profound conversation was a little different, and it really made me think. The train has a recorded narrative, and a little boy, about 5 or 6 years old was listening to it. So often, children don’t really listen to such things, but this little boy was rather intently listening to the message. So as he listened, the narrator said that the train was in use during World War I and World War II, and the boy said, “What’s a war?” That really made me wonder…how nice it would be, not to know what war is. Yes, there have been wars in his lifetime, and indeed, we are in one even now, but this little boy is too young to really fathom the meaning of the word…war. He still possessed an innocence when it comes to war, killing, and death. That innocence is about to end, I suppose, because once his aunt or mother answered his question, he will forever know what a war is. He cannot go back to that innocence again. It is gone.

I came away from that experience a little sad. Children have such an innocent joy, and for this boy, that is changing. True…he won’t fully lose that innocence in one explanation, and it will depend on how much the adults with him can soften the truth for him, but no matter what we do or say, war and death go together, and death by war is not pretty. This boy has an imagination, and if he continues to question the adults in his life, he will begin to get a clear picture of war, and what it really is. Then, as he grows, that picture will become more and more vivid. He will know what death by war means. War is a part of life, and eventually we all know what war means, but for me, the question felt sad, because I was witnessing the beginning of the end of his innocence. It’s a moment I wont easily forget either.

These days, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has much in life to love. He and my sister, Allyn now own the property east of Casper by the Platte River that had belonged to his parents Chris has always loved that place, and when his mother passed away, and the property was offered to them to buy, they jumped at the chance. Chris loves taking care of the place, and can often be found mowing, snow removing, or some other form of improvement on the place. The love he has for the place is very obvious in all the wonderful care he gives it. He is often out in the garage fixing things too. Chris loves his job too. He is a retired Casper Police Officer. His new job for Motorola is going well and he is relaxed and happy in it. Police work can be challenging, and although he loved it, it takes its toll.

They went fishing out at Pathfinder Reservoir on Father’s day. It was a perfect day. They took the 4 wheeler out and just rode far back off the beaten path and he fished all afternoon. It was super nice and relaxing.

Recently, they went fishing in the Big Horn Mountains, something they haven’t done for a couple of years. From there they headed to Laramie, where their daughter, Lindsay Moore and her family live to spend Independence Day with them; daughter Jessi Sawdon and family; son, Ryan Hadlock and family; and daughter, Kellie. Chris was like a kid in a candy store about the fireworks. The guys went and bought a bunch of them and Chris couldn’t wait to set them off! Sparklers, those black snakes that you light and they grow out of a small pellet, smoke bombs, fountains. He kept things going all evening!

Chris loves being a grandpa. He recently got to watch as his grandson, Ethan Hadlock caught his very first fish that is such a big moment in the life of a kid. His granddaughters, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore, as well as Kellie’s boyfriend’s daughter, Jolene, have him wrap ones around their little fingers, and he doesn’t mind it a bit He really enjoys his sons-in-law, Jason Sawdon, Shannon Moore, and Kellie’s boyfriend, Tim Williams, as well as daughter-in-law, Chelsea Hadlock. Everyone in his family is a perfect fit in the family.

Chris plays the guitar, and is always composing beautiful new songs on his on it. Chris us quite talented in the area of music, and his family loves listening to him play. He loves his guitar so much, he sleeps with it!! Hahahaha!! Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As my grand-niece Audrianna “Anna” Masterson’s birthday approached, I talked to her sister, Raelynn, who tells me that Anna is “quirky.” That is a fact that anyone who knows Anna knows quite well. Anna has a very unique personality and Raelynn loves to see how she reacts to certain things. Anna is very strong willed and stubborn, and as kids will, they disagree about some of the strangest things. Nevertheless, sometimes they get into “joking” screaming matches about book or movie characters we may see differently. They live to banter back and forth, and it usually ends up in a giggling match.

As she has grown, Anna has changed a lot, and these days, style matters…but it has to be her own style. So, Anna has been experimenting with different styles. Recently, she wanted a “Wilbur Soot” style outfit. For those, like me, who don’t know who “Wilbur Soot” is, he is a YouTuber they both watch, so when she asked Raelynn at the events center yesterday, if she had achieved the look and Raelynn said, “yes,” Anna was ecstatic.

Anna often asks Raelynn, and her brother, Matt about what would look good with what and what kinda clothes to wear to what events. Raelynn often lends her clothes so she can achieve just the right look. Matt will always be brutally honest, which some may think is a bad thing, but you never want to go out looking bad, simply because your siblings didn’t want to hurt your feelings about how you really look. People have to be able to trust their siblings about these things.

It is so hard to believe that fashion matters to Anna, because it wasn’t that long ago that Anna didn’t care about things like that. She used to put on sweat pants and a t-shirt, and she was good to go. It didn’t matter if she was going to school or somewhere else, she was comfortable in sweats and a t-shirt, and that was it. She rarely even combed her hair in those days. Not so now. Now the whole look matters. Anna is growing up. Today is Anna’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Anna!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My great-nephew, Lucas Iverson is such a sweet boy, and it’s hard for me to believe that he is ten years old today. Lucas was born with Down Syndrome, and so has had a number of struggles in his life, but he faces everything with a smile. He has a great family, all of whom are dedicated to working hard with Lucas to make sure that he becomes the best Lucas he can be. His parents, Cassie and Chris Iverson are great advocates for both of their children. They are unapologetic when it comes to fighting for his needs and rights, and the needs and rights of his little sister, Zoey. For her part, Zoey is Lucas’ biggest cheerleader. She cheers him on and works hard to help him achieve any goal he is trying to achieve. She entertains him and never leaves him out of the activities.

Lucas and his family love summertime, because it means they can go camping. Their favorite place to go is the Big Horn Mountains, which is near their home in Powell, Wyoming. They often go camping with with cousins, Machelle and Steve Moore, as well as cousins, Susan and Josh Griffith, and sometimes step-dad, Ron Schulenberg and brother Tucker Schulenberg. A good time is always had by all. They all love camping and they love spending time together. It doesn’t get better than that.

Lucas has had some difficulties to overcome, and he has worked very hard to do so. His legs were weak, and that made walking harder to do, but with the help of his sister, Zoey, who would never leave her brother behind, Lucas has made great strides. There have been a number of health issues, some of which required surgery, but Lucas is a real trooper, and he just goes with the flow, working hard to reach his goals. No matter what he has to face, this kid just keeps on going. Today is Lucas’ 10th birthday. Happy birthday Lucas!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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