I was born on the tip of Lake Superior, in a little town called…you guessed it, Superior in Wisconsin. While my family moved to Casper, Wyoming when I was three years old, we have been back to Superior many times, and I still consider Superior, Wisconsin my hometown. It’s like the lake and that whole area is a part of my DNA. I love our visits back there, and so many of my cousins still live there, so there will always be ties to the area. I’ve read books about the many ships that have been victim to the storms and the rocky shores in some areas, and I love to look at pictures that some awesome people post on Facebook. I know about the name that was given by the Native Americans…Gitche Gumee, which means “Big Sea” or “Huge Water” just about always refers to Lake Superior. I know about the November Gales that hit Lake Superior every November, that can easily take down an unsuspecting ship that ventured out too late in the year.

Some say Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes. Some say it is actually an inland sea. It is the world’s largest freshwater lake. In fact, Lake Superior is in a class by itself…and that makes it a national treasure. Its character is very unique. It looks and feels like an ocean. If you have ever seen it, your first thought is that you can’t see to the other side…like an ocean. The Lake accommodates the big ships…big ore ships, big grain haulers, the really huge ships. When you watch them come into the port, you find yourself amazed that you could be standing there beside them. Their very entrance into the port is a daily tourist attraction…and the locals love it too. Some people say that “A day on Lake Superior leaves you exhilarated, connected, restored. The Lake’s energy courses through your bones right to your soul. What a gift.” Yes, Lake Superior is most definitely a gift to be sure.

Some scientists say that Lake Superior is truly an inland sea…even if it is fresh water and not salt water. The maritime agencies take weather, navigation and buoyage very seriously, and they monitor them carefully. People are not encouraged to venture out on Lake Superior until they have met the bottom-line amount of knowledge necessary to initiate a healthy relationship with the lake. That bottom-line amount of knowledge includes paying attention to equipment, your level of training, and definitely the surrounding environment. These are all important things that are recommended before a person ventures out onto any ocean or sea, which sort of classifies Lake Superior as an inland sea too. I suppose each person will have their own opinion on this, but since I have spent some time there, I tend to think that while it will always be Lake Superior to me, it will also be what I must agree, an inland sea.

New babies are always so much fun for a family to receive. They bring so much joy to the family. Recently, our family was blessed with a new addition when my grand niece, Katy Balcerzak and her partner, Dylan Herr had an adorable baby boy named Max Robert Herr. Max was born on June 14, 2020, at 5:41pm after a 17 hour labor that ended in a rather dangerous and terrifying delivery proceeded by 3½ hours of pushing. During the delivery, Katy spiked a high temperature, and little Max’s heart rate slowed, but the Lord took care of them, and they came through with flying colors. We are very thankful for the happy ending of that labor that brought them their sweet Max, who weighed in at 8 pounds 14 0.ounces, and was 21¼ inches long.

While Max made a dramatic entrance into the world, his life since then has been much more relaxed. He is a sweet, easy going baby, who is very mellow and loves to be held…preferably all the time. Right now, he loves to sleep…so much so, that his parents have to wake him up to eat most of the time. Max loves his daddy very much, but at this point, he is a mama’s boy who calms right down when Katy picks him up. He loves his mommy’s voice, and their bond is one that comes from spending nine months connecting to each other. Such a sweet bond, between mother and son.

Max is been receiving visitors from time to time. Dylan’s parents, brother, and sister-in-law have come by to meet him and get a few cuddles. And Katy’s mom is visiting right now, and Katy says she is the “Baby Whisperer.” Grandma’s do have a knack when it comes to their grandbabies. Most of Katy’s family live in Casper Wyoming, so many of us have not had a chance to meet little Max yet, but we are all looking forward to meeting him very soon. They are planning a visit to Casper over the 4th of July. In the meantime, we are very much enjoying all the pictures that Katy and Dylan are sharing with us. Max, for his part, is taking everything in stride. He had decided that he is a happy, social baby, dazzling his visitors with cuddles and smiles, and everyone loves it. Welcome to the world Max Robert Herr!! We love you already!!

Today would have been my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s 89th birthday, but she went home to Heaven just over two years ago. She was born second of her parents’ 4 children. Her older brother Everett Knox passed away shortly after birth, due to a complicated birth, and the lack of medical assistance. The baby should have been taken by Caesarian section, but he was born at home and the doctor did not think the C-section was necessary…sadly. When grandma, Nettie Knox found out that she was pregnant again, she made up her mind not to take any chances with this Rainbow Baby. Grandma decided that she would go stay in the hospital for the last month of her pregnancy, until her baby arrived. She paid $5.00 a day for the privilege, and she would stay there for 40 days by the time her baby, my future mother-in-law was born.

I’m sure lots of people though her solution was extreme, but she did what she felt was prudent for the times. She never wanted to deliver another baby, so far from emergency medical services. As it turned out, her three daughters were born without incident. Nevertheless, her daughters were all born in a hospital. She wasn’t taking any chances.

My mother-in-law may not have had a rough beginning, but she would, nevertheless, remain an only child almost 15 years, before her sister, Linda joined the family. Margee would follow just over two years later. Many things have changed in the years since my mother-in-law was born. Home births have become less common, but they are making a comeback these days. Babies dying in childbirth are more rare now, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. I think that if all that happened to Grandma Knox today, she would still react to it in the same way as she did then. Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 89th birthday. I’m thankful that she lived all those years ago, because if she hadn’t, my life would have been much different. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. We love and miss you very much.

Becoming parents for the first time is such an amazing thing. You are in awe of the beautiful gift God has given you, and you can’t wait to see them grow and become the person they are destined to be. Today was that special day for my grandson, Chris Petersen, and his beautiful fiance, Karen, when their daughter made her grand entrance into the world yesterday, May 30, 2018 at 4:35pm. She weighed in at 7 pounds 2 ounces. She was 19¼ inches long. She has soft wisps of brown hair, just like her parents did, and she is absolutely beautiful.

Their baby’s arrival has brought with it many changes in my family. Of course, Chris and Karen became parents, but also, my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin became grandparents. Their other son, Josh became an uncle. My daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis became great aunt and great uncle, and their children, Shai and Caalab now have a 1st cousin once removed. My husband, Bob and I are now great grandparents. And of course, there were the same changes for Karen’s family for her parents are now grandparents. And this baby has multiple great grandparents, and even one great great grandmother. Her siblings are now aunts and uncles. It’s an exciting day for sure.

My great granddaughter is a sweet little baby girl, who loves to cuddle with those holding her. She was wide awake, even after having a full day of work just being born. Everyone knows labor and delivery is a tough job on the mom, but the baby has a lot of work to do too, and it can be quite exhausting for those little babies. Nevertheless, she was excited to see what was going on around her, so she had her eyes wide open. What I found really special is how she just snuggled up to her daddy. She knew his voice from hearing him talk before she was born, and she cuddled up to him as if to say, “That’s my Daddy!” I find it so amazing that these babies can know their parents voices from inside the womb and so quickly relate to it after their birth. Such a sweet bond to both mommy and daddy. When her mommy had her, she was totally content. She would have snuggled up and stayed right there for the rest of the day. This pretty girl is a sweet combination of both of her parents, and we are just so in love with her. She has a big family who all love her very much and we can’t wait for all the wonderful times to come. Congratulations to Karen and Chris, your beautiful little family is growing, and we are so excited for the future!! We are so happy for you!!

Somerset HousebyAnyone who has ever tried to trace their family history knows just how difficult it can be to find the records sometimes. Early families kept their records mostly in the family Bible, or some other type of record keeping book, and if the records weren’t kept where they were safe, or where the next generation knew to look for them, they were often lost. It seems that some nations were more ahead of the pack when it came to registering the people…where it was for a good purpose or not. Later it was only churches that kept records of these things.

The Bible tells us in Luke 2:1-5, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.” In many way, I suppose it was from this point on that the Romans and Jews began to keep such clear records, although, according to the Bible and the lineage of Jesus told there, the Jews had kept very clear records before that. It was clear record keeping of this type that made it possible for families to know their heritage.

As I have searched for my own ancestors, I have found that in more modern times, such as the 1000 to 1700s, the record keeping was not so good. I don’t know if people were just more lax about it, or if there seemed to be no good place to store these things. I could also be that in cases where good records were kept, fire, flood, or some other natural disaster destroyed them later on. I find that to be such a sad state of affairs, because it can put up a wall between the genealogical researcher and the valuable information they are searching for.
Civil Registration Records
I guess I’m not the only person to ever feel that way, because on this day, July 1, 1837, England and Wales established the Civil Registration system to record births, marriages, and deaths. It is that same system that is used in to provide valuable records used by genealogical researchers to this day. Of course, in the early days, the records were stored in volume after volume in some dusty corner of a courthouse or something. It was very hard to research family through that avenue, but with the invention of the internet, and the transfer of those records to it, the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths has opened up many new doors in genealogical research.

Bertha Schumacher HallgrenWhenever I read through my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal, I find something new. I may have read it before, but somehow, a new thought jumps out at me this time. Yesterday, as I was looking through it, I saw what a visionary she was. Many people kept clear family records, dating back for centuries, but the one thing that many of those records were void of was the stories that made up the lives of the people who were listed there. Aunt Bertha mentions that so much of how life was for our grandparents or great grandparents is being lost, because people only kept the birth, death, and marriage records, and never really told the future generation what their ancestors felt like. She was so right.

I often look for something more in the different sources that I use to build my family history, and even when there is a story, often it is simply and statement saying that the person died on a given day, and was buried in a certain place. While that can be good information, it doesn’t really tell anything about the person. I want to hear about their life. I want to know about some exciting things that they accomplished. Often, people don’t even post their obituary in it’s entirety. That is another sad thing, because it makes it hard to know for sure is this particular person is the ancestor you are looking for. The obituary would tell about their parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren. That information alone can fill in a history that has been missing a lot of really interesting and important information.

Birth and death certificates are another area that seems to be sorely missed in the actual media area of a persons information of Ancestry. Wehn you want to know about an epidemic that has hit, you have a real struggle on your hands. Much research is needed to find out what cause the deaths of people in the not so distant past, and it can be really frustrating. Marriage certificates are hard to find too sometimes. It really makes me sad that all of this documentation is missing from history, and all the stories about life are missing Bertha Schumacher Hallgrentoo. It really is up to us to make sure they get in there, just like my Aunt Bertha points out. Just knowing the dates does little to show who they really were.

I’ve been guilty of this myself. You get in a hurry, and forget to put in the personal information. I suppose it does help that I have written stories about these things, but I have not necessarily connected them with Ancestry, so that other people would be able to read some of it. I can see that I’m going to have to start doing a better job of putting in the stories that go with some of the people I am researching. People’s lives have so many interesting stories in them…so many twists and turns in their journeys, and I want to be like my Aunt Bertha, and pass that information along for posterity.

Bob's momMy mother-in-law has had Alzheimer’s for ten years now. As most of you know, Alzheimer’s Disease steals the memories of it’s victim…especially the most recent ones. I have not always been one to feel like every part of recent memory loss is the most horrible thing that could happen. The main reason I feel this way, is that people who don’t remember that a loved one has died, never have to mourn their loss…unless people remind them. My mother-in-law talks about her husband, my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg, now in Heaven for almost a year, in the same way as she does her daughter, my sister-in-law, Marlyce, and her parents, Robert and Nettie Knox, who have all been gone now since the 1980’s. To her, they are all still here, and she will see them later in the day. I can’t think of a better way to feel.

For her, it isn’t the middle of life memories that are missing, but rather, the recent memories, and the very distant past that elude her to a degree. For me, those are the ones that make me a bit sad. She doesn’t remember new family members, from marriages, or births of new great grandchildren. You can tell her who they are, and within five minutes, you have to tell her again. It isn’t an annoying thing, but rather a bit sad. As to her distant memories, she never really was one to relive her past a lot, so it is not unthinkable that she might not really remember those, but as a writer of moments past, that feels like a real loss to me.

Recently, while watching a television show, I got an idea. One of the characters had Alzheimer’s Disease, and couldn’t remember all the people he had helped in his career, until the other characters put together a DVD of all the people that the Alzheimer’s victim couldn’t remember. I started thinking about what a great idea that was. Maybe there was a way to give some of the forgotten memories back to my mother-in-law. The only problem I could see was that she would never be able to run a DVD player, and the staff was too busy to plug a DVD in for her all the time. It’s just too easy to forget, and then she never gets to see it.

Then it hit me. There is a way to get a great collection of pictures together, that she will be able to see every day, and no one will have to plug it in or turn it on for her. I started looking online for what I needed, and I found the perfect item. It was a 19 inch digital picture frame that has a built in timer to turn it on and off. I was so excited. We, the family bought the frame, and I have been loading pictures onto it. It now has about 2,000 pictures from different parts of her life, for her to look at when she is in her room at the nursing home. And there is still room for more. And no one has to run it. It has a timer, so it will run from 7:00 in the morning to 9:00 in the evening. Whenever she is in her room, it will be running, until bedtime.
Bob and I took the frame out to her on Saturday, and set it up. She really liked it. I was so excited about that. As I told her about some of the pictures, she looked on with great interest. Then came the moment when she knew the person in the picture, and finally the moment when she told me the name of one of her childhood horses…Star!! I was soooo excited!! I know that as she watches the frame, she will remember things about her past, at least for a little while. The digital picture frame has become the talk of the nursing home. All the nurses and aids rave about what a good idea it was. I’m just so happy that we are giving her memories back to her.

Chris PetersenChris in bootsYears before you arrived, I already knew that I wanted to be a grandma. It had been so long since this family had a baby in it, and sometimes a mother’s arms long to hold their grandchildren long before they have any. We were so excited when we knew that you were on your way. The waiting seemed endless, but finally the day came when we knew the time of your arrival was here. I loved you from the moment I first saw you, at the very moment of your birth. You were our first grandchild, and you were a boy…something new to Grandpa and me, and a bit of a culture shock as it turned out, but an exciting change for us, nevertheless.

I look back now, on the years that have past and reminisce about how wonderful it was to have you in our lives. You were our smiley boy. You came up with the funniest, most precious faces. You smiled and laughed with your whole face…and you smiled and laughed often. You loved climbing into clothes baskets, after you threw out all the clothes, of course. Your mom might find you hiding under a table, in the closet, or behind the door. Any place would work, just as long as you could pop out and play peek-a-boo. We never knew where you would be the next time, so you kept us on our toes. I loved watching your little face light up, whenever we found your hiding places. You got so excited!! Your goal was always to follow in your daddy’s footsteps…as well as his boots, as often as your got the chance. It didn’t matter to you, where he was going, because that was where you wanted to go too. You two are so much alike. And, I loved the way you made all the animal sounds perfectly. You knew them by heart, and you were so proud of your new found ability.

The years have gone by so fast, and I can’t believe that we have already arrived at your 18th birthday. Soon you will be heading off to Sheridan to go to Culinary School, and before we know it you will we the proud owner of your own restaurant. You have shown such great skill and imagination is your culinary arts, and I can’t say that I am surprised, because you have always be an imaginative guy. We are so proud of all your hard work and we know you will be a great success in the restaurant business. My only regret is that the years have gone by so fast, and your childhood is over now. While you have been excitedly counting down the days, I have found myself trying to put the brakes on the passage of time, but that cannot be done.

To each of us comes one childhood, and when it is over, it is simply over. There is no going back, even though many of us wish we could sometimes. Gone now is the little smiley boy, and in his place stands a man, ready to take on the world. While my heart aches just a little bit, because you are going to be going away to college, I know that I can’t stand in your way. Papa and ChristopherChristopher and meI also know that you will take with you all the memories and the good teachings you have received in your childhood. You make us so proud as you start this new journey, and all I ask is that you don’t forget your way home, because we, your family will be looking forward to each and every time you are back with us. Today is your 18th birthday. Happy birthday Christopher!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!

Bob, Ron & 67 MustangWhile brothers have long been known to be best buddies, and most get along pretty well as kids, it seems like that isn’t always the case when a number of years separate the two. Bob was fourteen years old when his only brother came on the scene. Sisters had dominated his life from his birth in 1954 to the birth of his brother, Ron in 1968…four sisters, to be exact. I’m sure a brother was a welcome change, still fourteen years is a great distance to overcome when it comes to being best buddies. Ron wouldn’t even be someone Bob could play with much before Bob was sixteen, and then driving and going out with friends and girlfriends would be more the things on Bob’s mind.

In most cases, all the things a teenager wants to do, when they get to the point of driving, put a quick end to the time they want to spend with their little brothers and sisters. That was not the case with Bob…at least not where his little brother was concerned. They had always been close, and still are today. Bob has always had a way with kids, and his little brother was no different, and once he is friends with someone, it takes a lot to change that. And Bob doesn’t care about their age. His little brother has always been special to him. It has always been a special relationship.

I will never forget some of the dates Bob and I went on…with his six year old brother. It was not what I would have ever expected, but found to be very sweet. Sometimes, it isn’t the normal things about a person that make the person, but rather the unusual things they do that can endear them to you…sometimes forever, as is the case with Bob and me. He just had a special quality, a kindness to others. I could tell that he could no more have hurt his brother’s feelings than he could grow wings and fly, a trait I’m sure my brother-in-law also appreciated as well.

Of course, as with any boy or man, the car they drive is a big deal, and for these brothers, cars were something they had in common, and still do. It was a bonding thing for both of them. Maybe that is why they were such good friends, and still are today.

ShaiToday is one of three un-birthdays that Shai,  my granddaughter will have before she gets to have her next real birthday. Shai is a Leap Day baby, and officially she is 4 1/4 years old today…or actually on that nanosecond between February 28th and March 1st…that is as close as we can get to her birthday, three out of 4 years. Most people, myself included, think the Leap Day is a cool birthday. It makes her 1 in 1500. That is the odds of being born on Leap Day. Not as rare as lots of other things, but rare enough.

Shai was a little grown up well before the years would make her a young woman, so it is fitting that today she is seventeen, but not really. That has always been the case with Shai, older than her actual years. She took care of my parents when they were sick and she was only 10 years old, or 2 1/2. She babysat for my niece Jenny at 12 years old, or 3. And like most kids, she drove at 16, except that she was really 4.

Like her cousin Chris born the day before Shai, I was there for Shai’s birth, and that was only a week ago, so how could she already be seventeen years old, even if seventeen is really 4 1/4, I take no consolation in the fact that we can call her younger than the years that have passed since her birth, because they have simply gone by too fast. My only consolation is the fact that Shai, like her cousin is a good girl who stays away from trouble and loves the Lord.

Shai doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life yet, and that’s ok. The possibilities are endless, and I know that whatever she does will be perfect for her. She could easily go into nursing, because she has had 7 years of experience in that area, but I’m not sure that is the choice she would make. She is a very social person, and it would not surprise me to see her go into a field like public relations. She worked in my office for over a year, at late 14 through 15 years of age, which is very unusual for a kid of that age. She did so many things early, and it made me even more aware of how fast the years were rushing by.

Today, Shai is unofficially seventeen years of age, and while it seems to me like a week ago, I have long been aware that she was growing up very quickly and right before our eyes. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a great day, and maybe slow down a bit, ok. We love you very much!!

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