baby

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My grand nephew, Keifer Balcerzak is a computer programmer for the State of Wyoming. He loves his job, and is a great bread-winner for his family, but it isn’t his job that has made him the man he is today. I have not seen many men who have become a parent, and then had to immediately be the “rock” for his little family. Keifer and his wife, Katie, became the parents to Reece, a 2 months premature little girl, born in December 2017. That was a scary time for Keifer and Katie, and they had to be strong for their baby girl…and for each other. I can’t say for certain that Katie felt like falling apart, but I think most women probably would have felt like falling apart, and would need their strong husbands to hold them up in the face of such a serious situation. Keifer did that for Katie, as she recovered from giving birth, and dealt with the day to day concerns for Reece’s well-being. Her home-coming was a wonderful day for both of them, and in victory, they went home from Denver, Colorado to Casper, Wyoming to start their life. Their lives had changed much more than the normal amount that goes with having a baby. Staying positive was of the utmost importance.

With Reece’s blossoming health, following her rocky start, Keifer and Katie have been able to get back to their normal lives…at least as much as a global pandemic would allow. Keifer was able to play a little softball this summer, and really enjoyed that…at least until someone hit him with the ball, leaving him pretty bruised. Still, being the tough-guy player he is, Keifer toughed it out, and while we know that bruises hurt, Keifer had determined to get himself into better shape, and he was not going to let this or anything else sideline him. Keifer has been in this quest to get into better shape since March of 2019, and has had great success. He wants to be his best self. He feels better, and as any of us who have worked to get in shape know, he looks better…in fact, he looks great. I know his girls are very happy to have a more energetic husband and daddy in their lives too. We are all very proud of Keifer’s success.

The future is bright for Keifer and his family. With their health struggles behind them, and lots of activity and fresh air in front of them, the Balcerzak family is happier than ever, and we are all happy for them. Having your health is a huge part of living a happy life. And now, they are all embarking on a healthy future. Today is Keifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Keifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Alec Todd Olsen came into our lives just under three months ago. Hardly enough time to really get to know him, but in the short little bit of time that he was with us, he snuggled his way deep into our hearts. His darling face, and his sweet smile captivated all of us. Alec was the first child of my grand-niece, Siara Olsen and her husband, Nick. He was long awaited and very loved. He was, as his mommy called him, a sweet little ray of sunshine, and everyone who met him would agree.

There was no doubt…Alec was a happy baby. He loved to smile at people, especially his parents, and to see people smile back at him. He was really starting to notice things going on around him, but his favorite thing to do was to snuggle with his parents…and usually fall fast asleep. Nevertheless, the ray of sunshine still radiated from little Alec.

Alec left us to go to Heaven on January 25th, when his little body could no longer fight RSV. It was a heartbreaking day for all of Alec’s family. When I visited his parents yesterday, was reminded of other parents who had lost children. The only way to put the look…is a parent’s heart and empty arms. It should never happen to any parent. Our kids are supposed to outlive us. There is no greater pain that anyone can go through, and my heart aches for these precious parents.

Of course, we know that Alec is in Heaven now, safe and healthy…and most of all happy. He would want his parents to know that they needn’t worry…if he could talk to them. And they know that too, but it is so hard to be the ones left behind to pick up the pieces. The pain will never leave. Anyone who has experienced loss knows that, and the reality is that you don’t get over this. Those of us, who love Siara and Nick, can only be there to support them, hold them while they cry, and just let them show us what they need, which they might not even know yet. You never get over this, you can only get on with it…life. Alec can’t come back, and we can’t go to him…yet, but he will be waiting when we can. Rest now sweet little Alec Todd Olsen, and know that we love and miss you very much, and we cant wait to see you again in Heaven. Siara and Nick, we will be here for you…whatever and whenever you need.

Without a doubt, the greatest thing to happen to a person in life is becoming a parent. That is the life change that happened to my grand-niece, Siara Olsen and her husband, Nick on October 28, 2019. Now, Siara is celebrating her first birthday since becoming “Mommy” to little Alec Todd Olsen. It is so hard to believe that Siara could be a mom already, and yet, she has stepped into the role as naturally as if she had been a mom for years. Watching her hold her baby puts a smile on my face, and the faces of all her family too. She just looks so content…and, so does Alec. There is nothing like having a baby to snuggle with, to bring home just how precious life is.

Siara is a bubbly, sweet girl who is very capable in her job at Platte Valley Bank, here is Casper, Wyoming, where she works as a personal banker. I don’t think there is one customer at the bank who doesn’t know Siara by the smile on her face and her sweet personality. Of course, going back to work after giving birth to Alec wasn’t easy, as any mother who worked, knows well. I felt so bad for her, because I know how short maternity leave is, when it comes right down to it. Eight weeks or whatever amount each mother has, seems like a long time…if you are waiting for your baby’s birth!! Once your baby has arrived, eight weeks is nothing. It’s over almost in an instant, and leaving your child in daycare, even if you know the people well, is heart wrenching. Eventually thought, you get used to it, and while you miss your baby terribly, you begin to look forward to the end of your work day, when you will be reunited with that sweet bundle of joy. Then, when you pick him up from daycare, your whole world is smiling again. And then, Siara and Nick have the whole evening to enjoy their precious little son, who keeps them smiling with his sweet little face, filled with smiles. The evenings are just perfect for this young family.

Now that little Alec is here, life for Siara and Nick is always looking up. I think that most parents can relate to the tremendous joy they feel with each new day. With each smile, each landmark, each passing year, and each new sibling that comes along after Alec, life will continue to get better and better for them. I am so happy for Siara, as she celebrates her first birthday as a mommy, and for Nick too, as he celebrates his family. The future is bright for both of them, and I look forward to watching little Alec grow up and be such a great blessing to his parents and his family. Today is Siara’s birthday. Happy birthday “Mommy” Siara. Have a great day!! We love you!!

Christmas…a time with family, presents under the Christmas tree, eating far too much great food…is that all there is too it? No, of course not!! In fact, those things have very little to do with Christmas. That’s because Jesus is the reason for the season. The family time, food, and gifts are fine, but we should never forget the gift God gave us on that wonderful day so long ago. The people of Earth had made such a mess of things here. No, I’m not talking about climate change. I’m talking about sin. God could have walked away, and started the whole thing over, but His heart was with his children. He wanted us all to be with Him in Heaven, when our time here on Earth is over. He knew that we needed at Saviour, and so His son agreed to leave Heaven and come to Earth…as a helpless baby.

Adam had sinned and ruined things here, and it would take a man without sin…for his whole life, to change the whole outcome of Adam’s mistake. Jesus had to be born as a human baby, because that was the only way to operate in the Earth realm. Then, He had to live a sinless life. It didn’t matter what human parts of him were trying to tell him to do, he couldn’t get angry, be disrespectful, lie, or any other sin. If you and I were to be saved by Jesus’ death on the cross, He had to be sinless. It was the only way for his death to make a difference. It would be a horribly cruel death, and Jesus knew it, but He did what He had to do…and it all started when He came to Earth as a baby to become our Saviour. Nothing beats that.

Yes, the family gatherings are great, and the gifts are nice, but the greatest gift that was ever given was the gift of a perfect life that became the sacrifice to restore righteousness to those who could not live a perfect life. It was an amazing gift, and one we cannot ever thanks Him for enough. Happy birthday dear Jesus. Thanks you for your sacrifice, and Merry Christmas everyone. Have a great holiday, thank you for all you did for us.

My little grand-niece, Mackenzie Moore is a loyal football fan…of her daddy’s teams. It doesn’t matter what team it is, as long as her daddy, Shannon Moore is one of the coaches. Currently, Mackenzie is a huge fan of the Wyoming Cowboys. As her daddy says, she loves the Pokes. Mackenzie always has her game face on at the games, and she cheers on her daddy’s team faithfully. In fact, at two years old, Mackenzie is quite likely the littlest Pokes fan. This little girl is such a loyal fan that she even makes sure she is bringing her baby up to be a fan. I guess she is getting set for the next generation of fans.

Mackenzie has an amazing personality. She always keeps her parents, Lindsay and Shannon, laughing and quite entertained. Nobody ever has to tell this little girl to smile, because its just a part of her nature. Mackenzie loves people and loves making them smile, and it comes so naturally to her. She makes the greatest faces ever. One look and you can’t help but love this little girl…or laugh along with this little cutie. She love playing with her cousins the most, and considers “cousin-time” to be the very best time of all…well, except for mommy and daddy time.

The summer was a great one for Mackenzie, who got to travel some, spend time with her grandparents, and of course hang out with her mommy by the pool. Mackenzie loves her time as a lady of leisure too. That’s a good thing, because before we know it, she will be going to school. Time goes so fast. I really can’t believe that Mackenzie is two years old already. It seems like it was just yesterday that she was born. With all the wonderful life moments this little girl packs into every day, I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring. Of course, I wish that we, the rest of her family, got to see her a little more, but now that her family lives in Wyoming again, we get to see her more than we did before, when they lived back east. That makes us happy. We are all happy about the move back to Wyoming. Today is Mackenzie’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Mackenzie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

One year ago today, a sweet little curly haired girl named Elliott Stevens was born to my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his wife, Kayla. Elliott is my sister, Alena Stevens and her husband, Mike’s first grandchild, as well a the first grandchild for Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley, so it was an exciting day. Time marches on, and as with all children, so much has changed in just one year. Elliott now has lots of curls as her hair has grown. Her little smile is sporting teeth these days, and she has learned to walk. That, of course, means that she is “exploring” her world, i.e. getting into things. Her personality is showing now, in so many ways…one of the biggest being her giggle. When she gets into things, and gets “caught” at it, she just laughs and laughs. Her parents ask her what she is doing, and her response is always the same…that infectious little giggle!! She already knows that her giggle can get her out of a sticky situation.

Elliott is a happy little girl, who loves her dog, Charlie. And the feeling in mutual, because her dog is very patient with her little baby ways. Kids aren’t always gentle with their furry friends, but Elliott’s dig doesn’t seem to mind, because Elliott is his baby too. In fact, sometimes he feels like he is in charge of the baby. It seems to be a dog thing. They love to cuddle the family babies…especially at nap time.

Elliott loves the water, and she’s not picky. The bathtub, the wading pool, or the beach. All of them are fun for Elliott. She got to go to California with her parents a few months ago, and if fact, she turned 8 months while she was there. Less than a year old, and she’s already been sunning herself on the beach. Of course, she doesn’t care if it’s a beach in California, she just liked the water and the sand. I think a lot of people would agree with her on that.

Elliott has been such a blessing to her family. She has three wonderful aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, so she is very blessed too. Life is great for Elliott and her family, and we are all very excited to see what the next year will bring for our giggly girl. Today is Elliott’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Those of us who live in Casper, Wyoming know about Garden Creek and Garden Creek Falls. It is a beautiful area, filled with trees and picnic tables. Hiking trails take off from the area, some of which follow the creek. Rotary Park is often full of picnickers and hikers. Everyone is out to have a great time. The Garden Creek area was a much different place in 1891, however. What we know as a day picnic area was a resort area and was lined with camps. A hotel was located at the head of Garden Creek and was a loved summer resort, frequented by local picnic parties. It was frequented by families from near and far.

On, July 31, 1891, a cloudburst occurred over Casper Mountain, right about the area of the head of Garden Creek. The creek is about seven miles long from mouth to source, and it was lined with camps. The heavy rains triggered a flash flood. The swollen creek rushed down the mountainside. The first thing the flood waters reached was the resort at the head of Garden Creek. The buildings were crushed and swept away, and the original site of the hotel was buried beneath wreckage twenty or more feet deep. The rushing floodwaters followed the creek on down the mountain, sweeping away anything in its path. Water marks indicate a volume of water 40 feet high and 495 feet wide must have passed through a narrow area about 2 miles form the mountain proper.

As the water rushed down the side of the mountain, it crashed down upon many campers up and down the creek. Many were either sleeping or just about ready to go to bed for the night. Campers, the Newby family, were sleeping when they suddenly found themselves surrounded by water. Newby heard his wife scream for help, grabbed for her, but missed, and in the next second he found himself being carried off by the rushing water. He never saw his wife or baby son alive again. Newby caught the limbs of a floating tree, He was carried about 200 yards, before he was thrown onto a bank. The body of Mrs Newby was found the next morning beneath a pile of rubble, but the Newby’s baby boy was never found. Near the Newby camp was the camp of Samuel Harrison of Alliance, Nebraska. Harrison’s two children were caught in the flood, and carried away. The bodies of the children were recovered the next morning. The tents and wagons of all the campers up and down the creek were destroyed, and at least fifty persons escaped with nothing but their pajamas. The citizens of Casper quickly stepped forward to bring food, clothing, and comfort to the survivors.

The quick response of the citizens of Casper doesn’t surprise me, because this is a city that often steps up in the face of tragedy. The flooded creek doesn’t surprise me either, because I have seen first hand just how quickly a rain storm on Casper mountain can result in a flood…even in the city proper. All that water has to go somewhere, and Sage Creek near my house is often the recipient of a large portion of that water. Thankfully it quickly drains into the Platte River, and the area returns to normal. Our mostly dry climate helps too, I suppose. The thirsty ground absorbs the water quickly. Still, it shocks me…not that Garden Creek flooded, but more, the vast difference in that area between 1891 and 2019.

For most of the time I have been writing about my grand-niece, Katie Balcerzak, my stories have been centered around her love of children and her work at the Montessori school, her happy marriage to my grand-nephew, Keifer, and her desire for a family, but this year is simply different, because this year is all about the baby. The baby, who goes by the name of Reece Victoria Balcerzak, has completely taken over her parents’ hearts. Their whole life centers around her, and for good reason, because Reese is a sweet, smiley little girl with smiling eyes to match her beautiful smile. She is a happy baby, and that makes her mommy so happy. For Katie, life is complete… at least until they decide to have another baby, at which time, they will wonder how they ever could have been a family of three, because they will have two babies to love then.

These days, Katie spends her free time…the time when she isn’t taking care of home and baby…taking pictures of her little gem, and who can blame her, because Reece is a total cutie. Really, all Katie has ever wanted was to be a mom, and she is such a great mom, so that in itself is success. Of course, as we all know, being the mom of a baby does have its challenges too. Babies get crabby when they are hungry, wet, teething, and tired…among other things. Sometimes, they are just in a crabby mood, and why should they be different.we all get crabby sometimes. Nevertheless, even if Reece is crabby, her mommy loves her bunches, and usually knows how to fix it. Katie prides herself in the care she gives Reece, and wants to be the best mommy she can be…I mean, which of us moms don’t want that.

Some of the things that Katie has learned in her journey from new mommy to seasoned professional,have been kind of funny, or should I say her sense of humor was clearly showing, because she points out the long list of today’s parenting Dos and Don’ts List, and how according to these “professionals” just how amazing it is that yesterday’s generation ever survived their parents. When you read the list, you find yourself laughing, because no parent could possibly live up to that. At first glance, you might think she was serious, but then you read the rest of it, and find out that she was really being funny. The only aren’t who would really try to follow that list would be one that will soon find themselves trying to avoid the nut house!! Thankfully, Katie has seen through the craziness, and focuses more on the simple ways to be a good parent and raise a happy, healthy, child. Today is Katie’s birthday, and the first one she has spent as a mother. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Alena Stevens is in the middle of preparing for one of life’s biggest changes…grand-motherhood. The biggest life change is motherhood for sure, but grand-motherhood ranks right up there with motherhood as being one of the most special times of our lives. Alena’s son, Garrett Stevens, and his beautiful wife, Kayla are expecting their first child in August, and Alena is beyond excited…as is her husband, Mike. I know Alena is going to be an amazing grandmother. Alena’s work with children at Verda James Elementary School has kept her on top of the whole kid thing, and up to date on the latest cool stuff kids like. That’s an advantage that many grandmothers don’t have, and so they had to re-acclimate themselves to, but not Alena. The students she works with at the school love her very much and she loves them too. As her little granddaughter grows, Alena will be one of the cool grandmas, which is always a big plus.

Alena also loves to decorate, and sometimes I think she missed her calling, because the decorating she does on her home is lovely. She has a real eye for it. Most of us hang a few pictures up, and hope we made them look a little different than a picture album, but not Alena. Her flair for decorating makes her home a show piece. Maybe I should make her come and decorate mine. Alena like to change her house up periodically, to give it new life, and that could be part of the reason that it is always a showpiece. Whatever the case may be, she has a lovely home that people enjoy coming over to.

Alena is a summer girl, which makes her June birthday the perfect time of year.While no officially born in the summer, it marks the beginning of what most of us deem to be summer. Alena love the heat and being out in it,especially at the lake. She looks forward to her husband’s family’s yearly trip to Boysen Reservoir, where they enjoy the water, the sand and sun, and spending time with the whole family.She especially loves their annual horseshoe tournament…complete with a traveling trophies for the year’s winners to gloat over. While the competition is fierce, the family isn’t they all get along very well, and the only time they are fierce is during the competition. Making it more fun, they choose teams or partners, so no one is always partnered with their spouse. Team work can take on a whole new meaning with this method. When you dont get to pick, but are placed with a team. Their annual trip is coming up soon, so I know she will be preparing for all the fun days to come, especially with the summer culminating with the best part of all…that new little baby girl. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Much as changed for my oldest grandchild, Chris Petersen over the last year. He has grown up so much. Chris and his fiancé, Karen Cruickshank got engaged and they are expecting a baby girl the 1st of June. These are exciting times for the whole family. With this baby girl, my husband, Bob and I will become great grandparents for the first time; our daughter Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin will become grandparents for the first time; and of course, Chris and Karen will be first-time parents. It is such a big change for all of us, and one that we can hardly wait for. Changes like that are among the greatest blessings in life. We have looked a the ultrasound photos, repeatedly, trying to envision exactly what she will look like. The ultrasound can only tell you so much about what he baby looks like…even the 3D ultrasound. Of course, new technology brings with it an even better picture, but the 4D ultrasound is more expensive. One day it will be the way it is always done, but that day in not today, so we will have to wait a little bit longer to really find out what our little baby girl will look like.

With his growing family, Chris decided that the time had come to buy their home, so he found a cute little condo to buy, and he and Karen have been busily decorating it, and preparing the second bedroom for their new little addition. Buying a house is, as we all know, a really big step. Nevertheless, often the house payment is less than rent would have been. That is exactly what happened with Chris and Karen, so that has helped when it comes to the extra money to get things ready for their little girl. Buying a home is a big step, but it is also an exciting step, and Chris is no exception. Owning his own home as made him feel more like an adult, with a sense of pride in ownership.

A few months ago, Chris landed his dream job. It’s funny, as a chef Chris expected that his dream job would have been in a restaurant, but that was not the case for Chris. Chris found his calling in the health care industry…not as a CNA, nurse, or aid, but rather as a chef. Chris works at Mountain Plaza Assisted Living, and he really loves it. Being a chef in a assisted living facility allows him to not only cook, which was his chosen career, but it allows him to have a positive effect on the lives of a really great group of people. After serving the meals, Chris gets to go out and visit with the residents, and that has been a great opportunity for him an a great perk for the residents. I am very proud of all of Chris’ accomplishments, and I’m very proud of the impact he has on the lives of those around him. for Chris, it has been a really big year. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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