Love

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My grandniece, Siara Olsen met Chris Kirk in early September of 2021, when she boldly went up to him in the local Loaf and Jug convenience store in Casper, and told him that she liked his freckles. She started calling him her “Loaf and Jug Boyfriend” that very day. How could he resist that?? The year prior had been the hardest year Siara had ever faced, and when she met Chris, her joy returned. She once again became the happy girl we had always known and missed very much. I won’t go into the sadness of the prior year, because this story has a happy ending, and I will focus on that. Chris has the ability to put a smile on my grandniece’s face, and in my book that makes him a great guy. Chris fits well into Siara’s family, and she fits well into his. Theirs is going to be a wonderful and exciting future.

Siara and Chris have so much in common. They are both very athletic, and love doing te same activities. The first pictures I saw of them together, believe it or not, they were doing a couple’s workout, and it was obvious that they were “head over heels” in love with each other. You never saw a picture of them where they weren’t smiling…unless they were making a face for the camera. They love to joke around, and their happiness just flows out of both of them.

Siara has long been a fitness buff, and Chris either is too, or he has become one since meeting her. They like to go hiking with Siara’s brother, Jake Harman, his wife, Melanie, and their kids, Alice, Izabella, and Jax. A favorite spot is the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain. I like to say that families should work toward staying fit together, because it makes for a long and happy life. Hiking and hanging out with her brother’s family also gave everyone a chance to get to know Chris, and they all liked him too. Siara is close to her brother and his family, so that was important.

Chris surprised Siara when she had her back to him and he dropped to one knee, just as she turned around. His proposal was sweet and beautiful, and Siara was swept off her feet. I couldn’t say it better than she did, in her own words, “Turning around to you down on one knee asking me if I trust you with my life and my heart it was so easily a yes, but you asking me if I would marry you was the easiest yes of all! Our souls are so deeply connected through God already, but this makes it mean so much more. I love you more than anything, Chris Kirk!” It makes everyone in Siara’s family so happy to see these two tie the knot today. I wish you both all the love and happiness in the world. Congratulations Siara and Chris!! We love you both!!

When my parents got married, it was not uncommon for there to be a number of years difference in ages. My mom’s parents were sixteen years different in age, and my parents were twelve years different in age. The first time Mom met Dad, she was a starry-eyed girl looking at a very handsome man for the first time, but somehow, she knew that he would be the one, and so he was. Of course, it would be a number of years later that they would actually marry, because she had some growing up to do. Nevertheless, she was just 17 years old when they did get married.

They took a honeymoon that took them to their new home in Superior, Wisconsin, and just ten months later they were new parents to Cheryl. Life was good. Mom was making new friends in her new home, mostly Dad’s family, which was fine, because she was a bit shy. In fact, her family has always been her friends, along with a couple of close girlfriends. She liked it that way. Better to have a close circle of friends and family, than a world of acquaintances. The years that followed brought four more daughters, Caryn (me), Caryl, Alena, and Allyn…in fairly close succession. The years also brought a move back to Mom’s hometown of Casper, Wyoming, because she really missed her family…Mom had six sisters (Evelyn Hushman, Virginia Beadle, Delores Johnson, Bonnie McDaniels, Dixie Richards, and Sandy Pattan), and two brothers (Larry Byer and Wayne Byer). Being used to a big family with lots of activities and comradery, Mom had really missed her childhood home, but she also, always missed the family and friends she left behind in Superior, Wisconsin too. Dad missed his family too, but he knew that his bride needed to be close to her family, so he brought her home.

My parents’ story is a true love story, filled with respect for each other, and working toward a common goal. Their favorite place to be, was together. While they loved to travel, it really didn’t matter where they were, as long as they were together. Their life was their family, kids and grandkids. They rejoiced over each and every one of us. When the grandchildren, great grandchildren, and even great great grandchildren began to arrive they were reminded that these were the rewards of long life, and they knew that they were very blessed. They always taught their family to love the Lord, and to have faith in Him, no matter what the circumstances looked like. They taught us that God could always make a way, even when there seemed to be no way. They gave us strength to go on, even when things seemed to be falling apart…not that our lives fell apart much. We really did lead blessed lives, and I think it was the teachings of our parents that made that possible. I am so grateful for the parents that God blessed me with. While there is no marriage in Heaven, I know that they are celebrating the children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren that were born into their earthly marriage and having a blessed day.

When a couple has been married a long time, things start changing in their life…things like kids getting married, and kids having kids, become the new normal. That is where my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin find themselves. The empty nest syndrome has long since come and gone, and now they find themselves in the next phase of their lives. This is the fun phase. Their children are raised, and now they can spoil the grandchildren, and enjoy their adult kids. Their family is growing, with the addition of very soon to be wives for their sons, and of course, those babies. There are no greater words for parents of adult children than grandma and grandpa.

Corrie and Kevin met when she was just 15 years old. Kevin was her first and only love. For him to also be her forever love is amazing, but that is exactly how it went for them. Now, 29 years later, they are still together and still going strong. I can’t say that I am surprised by that, because almost from the very first date, these “kids” seemed married…not the “oh my gosh, I can’t stand to be away from you” kind of love, but more the mature “you’re the one for me, and I can wait to make this right” kind of love. I don’t mean to say that they didn’t love each other very much, but they were very mature. Their love was grown up, and…forever. You just knew that this marriage was going to make it.

After two years, they got engaged, and the wedding was planned for the following year. My girl was going to graduate from high school, turn 18 a month later, and be married two weeks after that. Talk about a whirlwind…for me anyway. A whirlwind of emotions. I thought I was doing ok, but when the kids left for their honeymoon, it suddenly hit me, that my baby girl was married, and she didn’t live at home anymore. She was her own woman, and she had a husband, and very soon a family to take care of. She was a grown adult, but I also knew that the best years of her life were ahead of her, and before long the grandbabies would be coming along. Now the great grandbabies have come along, so I am able to see the next phase for them and for me. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 29th wedding anniversary. Where have the years gone. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I love to hike the Black Hills, and with Independence Day and Bob’s birthday on July 10th, it is always a perfect time for us to go and spend a week in one of the places we love the most. We aren’t always able to hike our favorite trail, up to Harney Peak (now called Black Elk Peak), because sometimes, one or the other of us isn’t in shape for it. We always miss that hike when we are unable to go there and look forward to getting “back in the saddle” again, so to speak. It’s not that we ride the trails on horseback, but it might be one way to get up there in a pinch. I think I might have to consider that option, if it is too many years before we can get back up there.

After being together for more than 48 years, married for just over 47 years, we are comfortable in our life. We are one of the forever marriages, and that means that we must like doing many of the same things. It stands to reason, and we find ourselves thinking and acting alike. The same activities are fun for both of us, and yes…we can finish each other’s sentences. It is almost impossible not to. That’s what long term married couples do. They just know each other, and how their mate would react to things. That is the case with my husband and me. We are soulmates, and that is perfectly ok with us.

Bob spends much of his free time working on vehicles, for us and his friends. Thats a good thing, because he would probably go just a little crazy without his favorite pastime to keep him busy. Bob loves working on cars, and he is very good at it. He has a knack for finding out what is wrong with a vehicle and then fixing it. What would drive someone else crazy, keeps his mind sharp and on track. Mechanics is like a puzzle for him. Every piece has its proper place and finding that proper place is his passion…and the people whose vehicles he works on, reap the benefits. And they consider themselves blessed. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! You are the love of my life, and I am so blessed to be your wife. Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has been a part of our family for just over 40 years now, since he married my sister, Allyn Hadlock on June 12, 1982, but he was really part of the family for a little longer than that…since they started dating. It’s hard to remember a time when he wasn’t part of the family. They were just kids when they married, Chris was 21 and Allyn was 19, so basically babies…and yet, here they are, all these years later.

For Chris and Allyn, family is really what it’s all about. This year, Chris and Allyn got to have a really special family vacation to celebrate their 40th anniversary and Chris’ 62nd birthday. They rented a really nice house in Florida, with 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, so that the whole family could stay together, relax, and play. They were all able make the trip, except their daughter, Kellie’s boyfriend, Tim Thompson and his daughter Jolene, and they were very much missed on the trip. They had hoped everyone would be able to come, but Tim couldn’t get the time off, because someone else had already requested it. Their four children, Jessi Sawdon, Ryan Hadlock, Lindsay Moore, and Kellie Hadlock, as well as their spouses, Jason Sawdon, Chelsea Hadlock, and Shannon Moore and the grandchildren, Ethan Hadlock, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore were all there. A fabulous time was had by all. They swam in the pool, played on the beach, swam in the ocean, and of course, ate the amazing food from the area restaurants. It was the trip of a lifetime for them, and I’m so happy they got to take it. Trips like these don’t always work out, so you have to jump on it when you get the chance.

Chris and Allyn have been working very hard over the past few years. They have had their dream home, right on the river built, and they love hosting parties, and gathering together with their family year-round. The yard has river access, so they can go rafting right from their back yard, and it has a great hill for sledding in the wintertime. Barbecues and picnics are so nice in the cool back yard too. Seriously, life is good, and they are just loving it. Chris couldn’t be happier with the life they have built together. Chris retired from the Casper Police Department a few years ago, and now he is working in a much less stressful job, selling police communication systems, which keeps him in the know about the police departments, without having to deal with the day-to-day stress of policing in a time when law enforcement isn’t such an easy career to be in. We are all really happy to have him out of that line of work, because of all the upheaval therein these days. It’s just so much more relaxing for him and he is very happy with his new career. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Father’s Day…for me means remembering the two men who were the best dads ever…my dad, Allen Spencer and my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg. I wish every day that Father’s Day wasn’t about their memories, but that it was rather a day to spend with them. In fact, some stories bring tears, and this is going to be one of them, I guess. It doesn’t really matter how many years your dad has been in Heaven, because there will always be those “ton-of-bricks” moments when the tears just come, no matter what you try to do to stop them.

I was just so blessed to have two wonderful dads in my life. My dad made sure that we, his five daughters and our mom, had opportunities to see the country, go camping, read maps and plan trips, and so many other things. He taught us responsibility, love for one another, and most importantly, love for God. My father-in-law was much the same kind of man, even though the family didn’t do a lot of traveling. They were still a very close family and helped each other in any way they needed. It was and still is almost a network of people with unique talents who share the load when it comes to needs. These two men, now in Heaven were key influences in my life, and I will always be grateful for them.

I also have several other men who are some of the dads in my life. While these men are not my dads, they are part of my family. My husband, Bob Schulenberg…the father of my children, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce. My sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, who have been wonderful husbands and dads to my daughters and grandchildren…who have worked hard to give them happy lives. Then, there are my two grandsons, Chris Petersen who has a daughter and son, and my grandson, Josh Petersen who has a son coming in October…both are actively raising (or soon will be) their children. I am so proud of these men…dads who are with the mothers of their children and are actively raising their families together. They are great role models and loving fathers, and in them we have all been blessed. I also want to recognize all my brothers-in-law and nephews, because they are amazing dads and great blessings too. Today is Father’s Day, and while it must be a memory day for me, it is a special day for all of us. Happy Father’s Day to these and all dads today. Have a great day!!

My niece, Kellie Hadlock’s boyfriend, Tim Thompson is an amazing dad, and a wonderful boyfriend to Kellie. She tells me that he is definitely her “far more than I could ask, imagine, or think” blessing! They make such a great couple and family that it is so sweet to watch. It’s almost as if they have always been a family. Jolene loves Kellie as if she were her own mom, and Kellie loves Jolene the same as if she was her own child. Whenever you blend a family, even if one half of the couple doesn’t have kids yet, it is a big step, and they are all navigating the journey together in love. Tim has been so good to Kellie, and in my book that makes him a great guy. I have really never seen Kellie so happy…and that’s saying a lot, because Kellie is one of the happiest people I have ever met.

Tim is an avid outdoorsman. He is really into shooting his bow right now and practicing for hunting season! Tim loves to go hunting, and he has even managed to get Kellie into hunting (something I never expected). He also loves hiking, camping, or even just hanging out in Casper or Shoshoni with his girls, Jo and Kellie. He is a hardworking man, and every time he has days off, he is doing something for the girls. He lives and works in Gillette, Jolene lives in Riverton, and Kellie in Casper, so that means a lot of driving to see his girls. Nevertheless, he does it happily, because they are the most important part of his life. One day soon, I hope they can all live in the same place, because it is hard to carry-on long-distance relationships, be it boyfriend/girlfriend or daddy/daughter. Kellie tells me that Tim makes her a better person, but I’d bet that Tim would say that Kellie makes him a better person. That is what makes them a great couple. Tim is aways doing things for the girls, and just being there for them every day. In Kellie’s words, “He shows up for us every day and I couldn’t have asked for a better man!” The very best part of a great relationship is being there for each other..

I really believe that Tim and Kellie are a match made in Heaven. Their Christian beliefs, and those of their families, are the same, and that puts them both on the same spiritual path. God knew the right person for each of them, and when that happens, it is a great match. I find that our family is very blessed with many matches made in Heaven, and I’m so happy that Tim and Kellie are another one of those. I know that life is going to bring them many wonderful blessings and wonderful adventures. Today is Tim’s birthday. Happy birthday Tim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Our aunt, Charlys Schulenberg is such a sweet, beautiful person, inside and out. She is friendly and loving, and always wants to make sure everyone who comes to visit is sufficiently spoiled. Aunt Charlys is a great cook and makes things you won’t get anywhere else. If you leave her house hungry, it’s your own fault. Aunt Charlys and her husband, Bob’s uncle, Butch Schulenberg live in Forsyth, Montana, so we don’t get to see them often, but it is always a special treat when we do. They are both very interesting people with many stories to tell about their childhoods and the events that took place in those years. History doesn’t just happen in the Old West or centuries ago, history can be events that just happened a few days ago, or as was the case with Uncle Butch, and Aunt Charlys, the years when they were kids, and well as stories about their kids’ lives, which is always interesting.

Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch have a very nice place in Forsyth, Montana on the edge of town, overlooking the Yellowstone River. I can’t think of a more peaceful place than that. It is quiet and the views from their home are spectacular. It is a beautiful place, and very peaceful. We loved it and wished our visit could have been longer. Our visit was such a great blessing to us. Aunt Charlys is truly one of the nicest people I know.

Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch are all about family. They love their three kids, Tadd, Andi Kay, and Heath very much. They also have seven grandkids, and some of them are in sports, which means trips to watch them play…and nobody has to ask them twice. They are ready to go. They love watching the games and cheering for their grandkids, as well as all the local teams in Forsyth. Aunt Charlys and Uncle Butch are very community minded, and they are an asset to their community. Everyone loves them, and they love the people of their community too. I just wish they lived a little closer so we could visit more often. Today is Aunt Charlys’ birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Charlys!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Each year I find myself more and more surprised at just how many years I have been without my moms. My mom, Collene Spencer left us February 22, 2015 and my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg left us January 4, 2018. So many Motherless Mother’s Days have come and gone, and there will be so many more to follow, but I know that my mom and my mother-in-law are in my future, not my past. They are waiting in Heaven for the coming arrival of all of their beloved children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and many more greats to come.

Of course, it really isn’t a Motherless Mother’s Day because I am a mother, as are my sisters and sisters-in-law, my daughters, nieces, and my soon to be granddaughters-in-law. With all of these wonderful moms in my life, I am never without someone to wish a happy Mother’s Day. And while I don’t have my moms with me this year, I know they are happy and well. Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate moms, not to be sad, so I will be happy for all the mothers I know, and happy for my own honor to be a mom. These are among the very best days we will ever know. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers I know!! I love you all very much!!

To my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, you both make me so proud every day. You are both wonderful, caring people who would do anything in your power to help other people, and that is an honorable thing to do. People know that they can count on you, and I do too. Whatever is needed, you are there to lend a helping hand. It is a noble thing to do, and it is to your credit. You have both raised wonderful children, who have grown into wonderful, responsible adults.

Now we have a new generation of moms coming along, with my future granddaughters-in-law, Karen Cruickshank and Athena Ramirez, who have or soon will have the next generation of babies in our family. I am so proud of both of you for the mothers that you are. Your kind and loving ways warms my heart. You are both beautiful moms, and we love you very much.

My grandniece, Manuela Ortiz (Renville) is a sweet girl, who is full of life and joy. She married my grandnephew, James Renville last summer, and they have been enjoying their new life together. They both love to travel, and they go as much as they can. I think their favorite places will most likely always include beaches. Manuela, or Manu, as she is lovingly called by all who know her well, immigrated to the United States from Medellín, Antioquia, Columbia, and so she is used to the warm equatorial climate, making the warm beaches feel a lot like home. Still, she has adapted well to the cold northern climate too. Manuela and James love to go skiing and play in the snow, something Manuela probably never saw, until he moved here. They are open to all kinds of climates and will find a way to have fun anywhere.

Manuela has a bubbly personality and makes life fun for anyone who knows her. She has been such a wonderful blessing to my niece Toni Chase and her husband, Dave. For most of his life, James has been their only child, and now they have been given a daughter (daughter-in-law, but they don’t think of her as just a daughter-in-law) to complete their family…until grandbabies can come along…someday, hehehe. I think that whenever James and Manuela decide to have children, they will make beautiful babies, and I can’t wait to see them. Manuela has been so good for James, because he has a more reserved personality, but she brings out the other side of him, the side he only shows to those he knows well. When they are ready to have children, they will be a beautiful mix of both of them.

Manuela loves to dance, and coming from Columbia, she knows all the cool dances of that area. Dances like the Salsa, and many others that I would not know the names of, come as naturally to Manuela as walking, because she comes from a culture where these things are a part of everyday life. In fact, it is really fun to watch her dance, because she is so good at it. James can dance, but like most of us in this family, it is not something we do every day, so Manuela has been teaching him these dances, and he is getting very good as well. I’m sure that comes as part natural ability and part having a great teacher. James is such a good man, and I know that whether he is a natural at dancing or not, Manuela’s family loves him just because he is who he is…as good a husband to Manuela and she is a wife to him. Speaking of teaching, this happens to be one of Manuela’s many talents! She is also teaching James Spanish and loves to make tic-toc videos to share his progress. They are pretty funny to watch. She also teaches English on-line to private students. She is a great teacher! She is a podcaster in her free time on YouTube at Con Manu en la sala and a Tik-Tok @manuejames. As they go through their lives, I know that they will continue to be a blessing to each other and to their families. Today is Manuela’s birthday. Happy birthday Manuela!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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