Kids

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My niece, Chantel Balcerzak has been having a wonderful year. Her daughter, Siara Kirk and Siara’s husband, Chris bought that house next door to Chantel and her husband, Dave earlier this year. They quickly renovated the house, because they were having a baby boy named Nathaniel Andrew Kirk on January 15, 2024. It has been so nice for Chantel and Dave to have them living right next door, because Chantel and Siara are very close. Now that baby Nathaniel is a couple of months old, Siara is getting ready to go back to work, he will be spending his days with his grandma and his daddy. While it will be really hard on Siara, she knows that her sweet boy will be is good hands and having fun. I have always thought it would be cool to have my grandchildren live within walking distance of me. Of course, that doesn’t always work out, but the most important thing is to be close to them in hearts, if not in distance. One is as important as the other. I’m so excited for Chantel to have this precious time with her newest grandson.

Besides being a grandmother, Chantel is an amazing artist. We have several in our family. I, however, am not one of them. Nevertheless, I very much appreciate the work of those artists around me. Chantel has a kind heart, that sees the beauty around her. Her home reflects the beauty that is in her spirit…and a beautiful spirit it is. Chantel has a gentleness that not everyone possesses. It is just a part of who she is. Some people just seem to belong in a gentler time…and Chantel is one of those. Even her home reflects that. I always think that her home has a Victorian flair to it. Personally, I love the Victorian era designs. I’m not sure exactly what Chantel’s design style of choice is, but I think that whatever you might call it, I would call is very pretty. She has even helped Siara with the decoration of her new home. Siara shares many of her mom’s artistic abilities. They have decorated a few places together, and both are very capable.

Chantel has truly embraced the role of grandmother. She as several other grandchildren too, and she enjoys spending time with all of them. Chantel is young at heart. I think she always will be. That has made her a great mom and grandmother. Chantel is my first niece. She was always a sweet little diva, and fashionista. Maybe it was her artistic abilities showing themselves at a very young age. I’m sure it was. Chantel hasn’t really changed all that much over the years, after all. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Liz Masterson is without a doubt, one of the busiest people on Earth. Liz is a Journalism and English teacher at Kelly Walsh High School in Casper, Wyoming. By definition, that puts Liz in charge of the annual, the student news site (Kelly Kall), as well as taking pictures for all of the various events that go on. From, sports to cheerleaders, and from clubs to events, Liz is there. As a photographer, she also takes many of the senior pictures for the students. Her work is excellent, and word of mouth referrals have grown her popularity exponentially. Not only does she take the pictures, but she heads up the staff that put the annual and paper together. Of course, this means long nights of going through photographs to make any edits necessary. It is a process that takes weeks and months, and all this is in addition to her normal duties as a teacher.

As most people know, teachers don’t get off work at 3:00pm or whatever time school gets out. They have to grade papers, grade tests, create tests, hold parent/teacher conferences, back to school nights. Often, a teacher’s day doesn’t end until 10:00pm or beyond…and that is just for the class work. Any club work or staff work is extra. There is usually little time for anything of a personal life. Nevertheless, Liz is part of a book club and has set herself to the task of reading a book about each of our presidents. Liz is a Journalism and English teacher, but she is also a history buff. She has read books on the Holocaust, World War II (which her grandpa Allen Spencer, my dad, fought in), and the other wars too. She has also studied the presidents, as I said. In her “free” time, Liz spends a much time as her can with her fur babies, her dogs, Buffy, Scout, Holiday, and Gracie, as well as her cat, whose name is Piper, but she is always called Kitty.

As if that wasn’t enough, Liz is studying for her Master’s Degree. Normally this is a two-year program, but she has chosen to do it in one year…making it very intense. Part of the program required her to write a blog. She is then graded on the number of comments, and the comments themselves. The blog is called That’ll Teach You, and the articles are very good. I encourage you to read them, and please be sure to comment. It will help Liz a lot.

As if that wasn’t enough, Liz is studying for her master’s degree. This is a year-long process and very intense. She is required to write a blog and she is graded on the responses both the number of comments and the comments made. The blog is called That’ll Teach You and the articles are very good. I encourage you to have a look. Be sure to comment too. It will really help her a lot. Liz is a great teacher and writer. I am so excited for her to get her master’s degree. Today Is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Amanda Reed and her long-time partner, Sean Mortensen love the outdoors and love to travel. Recently, they took a Winter getaway to south Florida to escape the cold of Wyoming and to visit Sean’s parents in Fort Meyers. They had an incredible time. and I’m sure they hated to come back to the cold, even though we have had a pretty easy Winter here in Wyoming. Nevertheless, Amanda and Sean have really enjoyed their early Spring getaway. They have been touring and even took a 98-mile boat ride. Now that’s a tour!! They saw dolphins, turtle, eagles, bar fish, and snails…just to name a few. Of course, they also got to hang out with family and friends, eat lots of great food, and then, come home with a tan that made everyone else jealous.

Amanda and Sean love everything “outdoors” and spend as much time as they can outside. They are not Summer people or Winter people…they are outdoor people. Right now, they are in the process of closing up their cabin in the mountains, and preparing to head to Seminole Reservoir, to start their summertime fun. They really do love the lake, and they will be out boating as soon as it’s warm enough. They love boating, jet skis, swimming, fishing, and of course, soaking up the sun. I hope they will have an amazing Summer. And the best news is that their daughter, Jayden Mortensen will be home from Laramie, where she goes to school. Amanda and Sean are great parents, and they raised a beautiful girl.

Amanda and Sean love to go to Las Vegas too. They really enjoy the night life and they love being with friends. Amanda and Sean are very social people. Oh, that I could be such, but I definitely am not. I’m rather introverted…a word that doesn’t at all describe Amanda and Sean. They have a great group of friends, and they love to get together to go to the lake or to the mountains. Amanda and Sean love hosting weekends at their cabin or the lake. The more people the merrier. They are true socialites. Today is Amanda’s birthday. Happy birthday Amanda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kellie Hadlock is one of those rare people who never seems to have a bad day. If she does, she certainly never shows it. She is always smiling and laughing. I remember my mom telling us that we shouldn’t frown because our face would get stuck like that. Well, Kellie’s face has certainly become stuck in a constant smile, and that is not a bad thing at all. Kellie shares her birthday with one of my favorite ancestors, my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher. I never met Aunt Bertha, but her journal has been a plethora of information on the Schumacher side of my family history for years now. Kellie isn’t a writer, nor is she specifically anything like Aunt Bertha, but they do share their special day…no charge for that tidbit…that was put in for free.

Kellie’s sister, Jessi Sawdon tells me that Kellie is the fun aunt. Jessi lays claim to being the cool aunt, but every kid loves it more when Aunt Kellie is around. It’s easy to love Kellie, because she loves to laugh and loves life. Kellie loves singing and is one of the worship leaders at church. She and her dad, Chris Hadlock practice many songs at te house, while he accompanies her on the guitar. Her mom, Allyn loves those practice sessions. It’s like having her own concert. Jessi’s daughter, Adelaide absolutely loves to sing like Aunt Kellie. As kids, Kellie’s older siblings, Jessi, Ryan Hadlock, and Lindsay Moore never missed an opportunity to tell Kellie to shut up, because she was always singing. Jessi has received a little payback these days, because now Adelaide is doing the same thing. The good news for Adelaide is that they don’t tell her to shut up. Jessi figures her mom felt the same way, you just can’t tell your sweet little girl not to sing…even if her siblings can. Kellie just does all the “Kellie things” and that makes her fun.

Kellie has become a knitting/crocheting extraordinaire. Jessi isn’t in to that stuff, so she isn’t sure she could tell the difference. Kellie learned a long time ago from her Meemaw (Ramona Hadlock), and seemed to like it, but she didn’t love it then, like she does now. These days, everyone enjoys watching Kellie as she quickly goes from start to finish of a project, and how great they look. Kellie has been doing a lot of crocheting. She has been considering starting a small business called Kingdom Crochet. Kellie makes hats, headbands, blankets, etc. And they are beautiful. This would be a “side gig” as she still works at American Title, where she has been six years.

Kellie has been dating her boyfriend, Tim Thompson for a while now, and they are doing well. Kellie especially loves Tim’s sweet daughter, Jolene Thompson. Kellie took a trip to Cheyenne for Jessi’s birthday, and they all went out. They had a great time, and Jessi especially enjoys those visits, because they get her all to themselves. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Manuela Ortiz, has had a very exciting year. She and my grandnephew, James Renville are buying a house. The house belongs to his mom, Toni Chase currently, and it is the house where James spent much of his childhood, so it is really a cool thing for his to be buying this particular house. There are some renovations, repairs, and updates that they want to do, so they are working on those, and they aren’t in a big hurry to move in. They want it to be perfect for their move. It is a nice house, and we are all excited for them. James and Manuela met in 2019 and married in July of 2021. They have been living in an apartment, and now they are ready to have their own home.

Manuela has been working for the Wyoming Housing Network as a housing counselor. They have been so happy with her that she was recently given a promotion to the title of House Education Manager. We are so proud of her. Manuela immigrated to the United States from Colombia and had originally wanted to work in the United States to learn English. Her plan was to use English, as a way to be a more valuable asset to her employer back in Colombia, but God had other plans for her. Her Spanish and her mastery of English landed her the job she now has because she is able to be not only be a help in the housing market, but to cross a language barrier for people who really need that assistance. Of course, God also had the plan of a match made in Heaven for her and James…a match we are all very happy about.

This last summer, Manuela took James to Colombia to meet the new extended part of his family. It was his first visit to Colombia, and his first time to meet any of her family, except for on Skype. As it turns out, James and Manuela’s mother, Consuelo share the same birthday. That made a June trip to Colombia perfect, because they held a birthday party for both of them while they were there. The trip was so much fun for Manuela and James. James loves to travel, and Manuela had a great time showing him all the sights in her homeland. I’m sure there will be many return trips in their future, and before we know it, James will be as fluent in Spanish as Manuela is in English. I’m so glad they got to make the trip. Today is Manuela’s birthday. Happy birthday Manuela!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When Bob Schulenberg and I met a little more than 50 years ago, we had no idea where our lives were headed. I first met Bob in December of 1973. I was still in high school and he was just out of high school. We had attended rival high schools, which explains why we hadn’t met sooner. Our relationship started off a little rocky, when he thought I didn’t like him. Nevertheless, with the help of his sister, Debbie Cook, we got him convinced, and the rest is history.

While Bob was a little shy to begin with, we quickly became best friends. I simply can’t imagine us any other way. We love the same things, and we are very comfortable together. We love to hike, and I was asked at one time, how we could find things to talk about on those long walks. The truth is that after all these years together, we don’t have to talk the whole time. We often know exactly what our BFF is thinking before words are even spoken. We point out the same things, and we notice the same things…on the trail and off. Things go the same way at home. Of course, we do a lot of talking, but the quiet is ok too. We are comfortable talking when there is something to say, and enjoying the quiet when there isn’t.

We also have hobbies of our own, so when Bob is working on a car in the garage, I might be found writing a story for my blog in the house. It’s all good. We support each other in whatever endeavors we take on. We both know that we have things we like that are different than our other half. We aren’t clones, after all. So, while we are both retired, we also like our own time with things. I think we have a very healthy relationship. We both love to take trips to places Washington state to visit our daughter, Amy Royce’s family; Thermopolis (our anniversary spot); and the Black Hills. Nevertheless, we are also very happy just being together…right there at home. When we got married, we knew that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together, and it is a decision we have never regretted. Today is our 49th anniversary. Happy anniversary Bob!! I love you very much, and I am so happy to be sharing my life with you!!

When you only get a birthday every four years, you realize just how special a birthday is. Most people get a birthday every year. It’s just expected, but when your birthday falls on Leap Day, things are different. Nevertheless, most people who have a Leap Day birthday really like it. I suppose that technically they have as many years behind them as the rest of us, but the reality is that their birthday is absolutely missing three years out of four.

As a little girl, my granddaughter, Shai Royce wasn’t sure she liked her day, or actually it was her brother Caalab Royce, and cousins, Chris and Josh Petersen telling her that they were older than her, when the only one who truly was older was Chris and that by only one day, which in her mind didn’t really make him “that much older!!” Now, I think she thought totally embraces the day, and on the off years, she celebrates for two days…the February 28th and March 1st. This year, she actually got to do a little celebrating all month long!! Shai’s friend Tia gave her a small gift for each day. Each gift was well thought out and it was obvious that Tia put a lot of thought into each gift, making them very personalized. It made Shai feel so special. Another thing that makes Shai feel special, is the dogs she takes care of for some of her friends. She loves the dogs she watches…and boy, do they love her. They have definitely stolen her heart.

So, for her birthday, Shai; her mom, Amy Royce; and brother, Caalab Royce and going to a Seattle Kraken hockey game tonight. I have been to games, but never a hockey game. I know they will have a great time, and I hope the Kraken win. I did a little research on them, and they are the newest team in the National Hockey League. It will be a great time, I’m sure. Shai is a very social person, but I never really thought of her as a big sports fan. Still, since her family moved to northern Washington, they have gone to a number of games…mostly local teams, but things can change quickly. Once you’ve gone to a game, most people want to go to another game.

Shai loves to go the casinos near her home. Somehow, she and her family do very well in the casinos. They come home winners quite often, and not just twenty bucks either. A few days ago, she was invited to her parents’ poker night for the first time, and to everyone’s shock, she won. Her mom doesn’t play poker, because in her own words, she has too many tells, but Shai certainly doesn’t. Like her dad, Travis Royce, she can totally keep a straight face. Some people have it and some people don’t. Today is Shai’s 7th @ 28th birthday. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Chris Petersen was the child that made me a grandmother. As a matter of fact, he also made his mother, Corrie Petersen a mom, and his great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg a great grandmother…on her birthday. His dad, Kevin Petersen, grandpa Bob Schulenberg, and great grandpa, Walt Schulenberg also had some firsts when Chris was born. First time dad, grandpa, and great grandpa. We are all so happy to begin this new stage of our lives. Chris and our other grandchildren have been such a blessing to us.

Of course, Chris is an adult now. Why do kids have to grow up? Chris works as the store manager of Auto Zone in Casper, Wyoming. He really loves his job, which makes sense, since his favorite hobby is mechanics. Well, that and video games, but doesn’t everyone play video games. He is a great manager, and they are very happy to have him. I think he has brought with him, a number of new clients for Auto Zone, especially his dad and grandpa, who do a lot of business there.

The biggest part of Chris growing up, however, is that he is married to his beautiful wife, Karen Petersen. They have three beautiful children, Cambree, Caysen, and Cyler, and they are very happy and blessed. We are all very blessed, and of course, we know that if Chris had not grown up, we couldn’t have ever had these precious babies. His family is the most important part of Chris’ lives. They have totally transformed his life in every way. So, I guess we will just be happy that he did grow up, and now his family…and those babies. Chris is so settled now, and I can see that he is so very happy. Chris and Karen are a perfect match for each other. It’s definitely a match made in Heaven. They like the same things, and they are headed in the same direction. You can tell when a man is happy, when all he wants to do is get home to his family. As with most married men, that old lifestyle is suddenly not very important. That makes perfect sense to me.

I am so happy for Chris in his new life. I love seeing him and Karen so happy. They both have a great sense of humor, and their kids are happy and well rounded. It is such a blessing to see your kids and grandkids so happy in their lives. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Christina Masterson is my nephew, Rob Masterson’s daughter from his first marriage. She lives in Colorado, but the whole time she lived in Wyoming, she and my granddaughter, Shai Royce were best friends. The girls were born five days apart, with my grandson, Chris Petersen in the middle four days after Christina. They were basically the triplet cousins, because they were born so close together. Of course, Chris had different interests, so the girls were friends…or more so than Christina was with Chris. Now the girls live too far apart to see each other much, but they try to stay in touch by texting, facetiming, and calling, and occasional trips to see each other.

For a number of years, Christina worked in a dental office, but then Covid hit, a lot of things changed. People were almost not allowed to go to the dentist, and in fact many dental workers had to go get other jobs. Christina worked from home for a while, and she might still…I forgot to ask. Recently, however, she got into medical billing and insurance, as well as dental billing and insurance. Both of those are excellent fields to get into. There is a high demand for them, and often people can work from home in those fields too. Christina also told me that she has taken up diamond art…a hobby that her aunt, Caryl Reed also does, and I’ll bet neither of them were aware that the other one did diamond art. If you have never seen diamond art, I’m telling you that it is stunning. You should check it out. Christina has also taken up cooking as a hobby. Prior to this, she cooked like many people do, with out of necessity, and nothing fancy. Now, that is changing. Christina also told me that she and my granddaughter, Shai have been BFFs for 16 years now. Somehow, I thought it was much longer than that, but they have had their quarrels too.

All that is interesting, but the big news is…that Christina got engaged this year. Her fiancé is Colin Hockenbrocht. They met through, Christina’s stepfather, Brian Beck, who works with Colin. Colin is a military operations analyst. I never expected Christina to become a military wife, but you just never know. They are super excited and looking forward to the future, and we are very happy for them. Today is Christina’s birthday. Happy birthday Christina!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg is a full 14 years younger than his older brother, Bob…my husband. Oh, there were other siblings, but they were sisters, and for a little boy, that just isn’t the same as a big brother. Big sisters can be bossy, and for a little guy, four older sisters, can be overwhelming. So, having a big brother to balance all that out, is essential!! Even if they aren’t close in age. Bob was always good about taking Rob places with him, so he got to do lots of guys things from a young age. They still spend time working on this today.

When Bob and I started dating, Ron was six years old, and when we got married, he was seven. During our dating years, Ron was a regular fixture in our lives. We took him places with us and of course, when Bob and his dad, Walt Schulenberg were working on some vehicle, Rob was there, trying to help. I don’t know how much help he really was, but since he is a great mechanic these days, I doubt if he made any serious mistakes in the early days.

Because I seemed so much taller than Ron in those early years, he kept telling me he was going to get taller one day. Well, that was a given, because I am only 5 feet 2 inches. Still, at seven that somehow doesn’t register as being short. So, every time I saw him, he wanted to see how tall he was getting. When the day finally arrived, and he found himself as tall as me, it finally occurred to him that I wasn’t as tall as he thought. The look on his face was a mixture of victory and shock. Victory, because he made it, and shock, because “it” was not where he thought he would be, when he finally made it!! It was all I could do not to laugh, but I think it would have hurt his feelings too much. Nevertheless, he knew the truth, and he never brought the subject up again. Of course, he has long since passed my short stature. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday Ron!! have a great day!! We love you!!

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