born

It is so hard to believe that another year has passed since my grand niece, Laila Spethman was born, back in 2010. I suppose the years would have been less shocking if we had been able to watch Laila grow up, but that was not to be, because just 18 days later, Laila went to Heaven, and our hearts were broken. This year, Laila would have turned 8, and she would have known her brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, as well as her little sister Aleesia. It’s hard and yet pretty easy to imagine what Laila might have been like today. My guess is that she and her little sister would have been two of a kind. While it would have been Laila teaching Aleesia how to be the goofy little girl they both would have been, I have to think that Aleesia would have taught Laila a thing or two as well. The two little girls, younger sisters of three brothers, would have grown up much like Aleesia has…well able to handle life as a girl with older brothers…part Tomboy and part Princess.

It always makes me sad that Laila never got the chance to become that little girl who was a perfect mix…just like her little sister. Instead, Laila will always be the little princess and sleeping beauty, waiting in Heaven for the day when we all meet her there and get to know her. Until then, she is missed very much, and loved so much. I would say that she was loved more than she could know, but I think she knows now. And while she loves us all too, right now she is busy getting to know her grandparents and great grandparents who are in Heaven with her. And there is no sadness there, because Laila knows that we will all be together again in Heaven, and that this time apart is like a drop in a bucket. While we view the years as long and many, she sees them as only seconds ago. Today would have been Laila’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Lila. We love and miss you very much.

Virginia Beadle, Janette Byer, Forrest Beadle, Larry Wayne Byer, Ellen Johnson, Elmer Johnson, Deloris JohnsonWhen my Uncle Larry Byer, married the love of his life, Jeanette Morton, she became the first daughter-in-law my grandparents had. They had nine children and of those, just two sons, Larry and Wayne. Larry was the oldest boy, Wayne the youngest boy, with three girls before Larry, and three girls after Wayne, and my mom, Collene Byer Spencer in the middle.

My grandparents were used to girls, with all of their mixed emotions, but prior to Aunt Jeanette, the additions had always been men…husbands for the daughters. I’m not sure, but I have to think that it must have been a little bit of a culture shock to add another girl to this mix. When your family has an over abundance of girls, adding boys seems to calm the whole world down some, because suddenly the emotions of those girls settle down too. I Uncle Larry and Aunt Jeanettesuppose they probably thought that adding a daughter-in-law could possible bring a new surge of emotions, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. Aunt Jeanette has always seemed like a very calm, mellow person to me…with a wonderful laugh that brings a smile to everyone’s face. Of course, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have an Aunt Jeanette, because she married my Uncle Larry back on February 11, 1956, and I wasn’t born until the following April.

Aunt Jeanette has always been such a kind and thoughtful person. I’m sure that is what attracted her to Uncle Larry too. Aunt Jeanette had been a friend of the family for a while before she and Uncle Larry started dating, and so in many ways, she just fit right in with the rest of the family. Nevertheless, Aunt Jeanette brought a Grandma Byer and Aunt Jeanettesweetness to the family all her own. She is one of the few people these days who always sends out Christmas cards, because she wants those she loves to know that she is thinking about them. That is just the kind of person she is and always has been.

Aunt Jeanette has long been the only sister-in-law in the family, but in reality, she is more like a sister than a sister-in-law to the rest of the siblings. She has endeared herself to them in many ways. Her kindness and generosity are well known to anyone who ever had a need. She is quick to offer words of comfort, and just to let you know that no matter what you need, she will be there for you. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Bertha & Elsa School DaysIMG_3567There is a popular song by Miranda Lambert called “The House That Built Me.” It is a rather bittersweet song about visiting the house where she grew up, in and effort to find herself again. I suppose that it is very common to lose sight of self as the years go by, and life gets busier and busier. Sometimes we just find ourselves needing to regroup, to a degree. Of course, in the song, she really just wanted to get back in touch with her beginnings. I can understand that, since my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my mom Collene Spencer, and I took a trip back to Superior, Wisconsin, to reconnect with family members, the town, and the house where the first years of my life were spent. Of course, unlike Miranda Lambert, we didn’t ask to go into the house, although it might have been fun to do so, and unlike Miranda, I didn’t grow up in the house, but rather the first couple of years of my life. Nevertheless, standing there in front of the house, I found myself thinking about the home movies I had seen of our time there. They were good memories, and it felt good to be there to see that house that represented my beginning.

My great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren and her sister, Elsa Schumacher Lawrence had the opportunity as teenagers to travel from their home in Fargo, North Dakota, to Minnesota. While there, they were not only able to see the house where they were born, but the actual room they were born in. Things are much different these days. Most people are born in a hospital, rather than at home, so we don’t necessarily think of the room we were born in, because there is almost no way to know exactly which one it was years later. Bertha and Elsa had such an amazing opportunity…one I suppose many of us might envy, if we thought about it very long. The time they lived in, combined with the kindness of the new owners, allowed them to take a small glimpse into their past. It was an event that affected Bertha so much, that she wrote about is years later. She too, had been a young girl when the family moved away, but unlike me, she was able to step back into the world, and feel what it was like in those early years.

No, I suppose you can’t really go home again, unless like my younger sisters, your parents stayed is the house where you grew up. In that case, while you have grown up, married, or moved out on your own, you still have grandpa spencer014IMG_3519those close ties to the home of your youth, and with it, the memories and values you grew up with. Yes, my older sister, Cheryl and I do have those memories too, we have still found ourselves wondering what our lives would have been like, and who we would have been if our parents had stayed in Wisconsin. I know things would have been different for sure, but in reality, all the changes that have gone on in our lives have turned out to be the best life for us anyway. So maybe, going back to a lost childhood home really makes little difference in the grand scheme of things afterall.

Shai and Me 1996It seems like just yesterday that our little Leap Day girl, Shai Royce was born, but it was really nineteen years and two months ago. Of course, you expect your kids and grandkids to grow up, but when they do, it still seems like the whole thing sneaked up on you…like you somehow didn’t really think it was going to happen. Then comes the time when they move out for the first time, and into an apartment of their own. Somehow it feels like Shai is about four years old, and living on her own…oh, wait, she sort of is. Being a Leap Day Baby is a unique situation, in that she only really gets a birthday every four years…making her oficially 4¾ years old. No wonder it seems like she is too young to be living on her own. Not only should she be a little girl, but officially she is a little girl. I’m not crazy., even though it might sound crazy. And to top it off, you know that no matter how grown up she, and my other grandchildren get, they will always be grandbabies to me, and I will always picture them in part, just like when they were little babies.
Shai's Kitchen
I think Shai’s apartment is going to be beautiful. She is a girl with very good taste, and a wonderful sense of style. She has some very nice things, and a good head on her shoulders, so, she will start to get things set up as time goes on. I don’t think a first timer to apartment living has everything they need to get started, but she seems to be doing better that most of them. She is organized and I know she will have everything in ship shape in no time.

I think the thing that I find the most interesting about Shai’s new apartment, is that in all reality it is the second time her first apartment is been in this particular apartment complex. I know that sounds odd, but when Shai was born, her parents lived in the same apartment complex, and so when she came home, it was to almost the same place. Of course, technically that apartment belonged to her parents, and this one belongs to Shai, but it is in a way, kind of like coming 993369_10201198433396466_1310255224_nahome for her. I don’t know how often something like that happens, but for her, that is exactly what happened.

I know that Shai has mixed feelings about making such a big move, especially since the rest of her family is moving to the Seattle, Washington area, but she will have her grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, and other extended family members living here too, so she will get used to it. And of course, she has lots of friends as well, and I’m sure that she will be entertaining people before very long, so before she knows it this will feel like home to her. Congratulations Shai, on your first home. I know that you will be very happy there. Just don’t forget to visit your grandma and grandpa.

My parents on their wedding dayCCI06282012_00015_editedbFrom the moment he first met her, my dad always called my mom, Doll. It was a term of endearment reserved for Dad alone to use. To us, of course, she was mom, or mommy when we were little, but to everyone who really knew her, she was the keeper of the sunshine. Mom was a person who was always happy. Even when times were tough, she managed to lift our spirits by always telling us to, “keep on the sunny side” whenever we left her house. It was the way we went to school, and later to work. Those were the words we heard after we had lunch or dinner at her house. She wanted our world to always have a bit of sunshine in it…even on a cloudy day.

Mom was a dedicated servant of God…spreading His word to all who would listen…and some who didn’t want to. She wanted everyone, but especially those she loved, her parents, siblings, husband, children, and grandchildren, as well as all her extended family to be in Heaven when they left this world. She loved the Lord so much and looked forward to the day when she would be able to look upon His face, and thank Him for saving her. She loved going to church and singing praises to God, and hearing His word. She bought many teaching tapes and books, because she wanted to know all she could about this wonderful Saviour who loved her…no matter what!!

Mom loved a celebration. Being born on New Year’s Day, her birthday was always a celebration…Dad always made certain of that. He love a celebration too. Mom loved the Fourth of July fireworks, and the parade. Anyone who knows her…or ever sat next to her…will remember her whooping when a float or one of the fireworks particularly pleased her…and many of them did…many of them!! Looking back now on her whooping, it somehow doesn’t seem so embarrassing as it did in my younger days. I suppose all kids think the things their parents do are embarrassing sometimes. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Mom. She was filled with joy, and sometimes…no, most of the time…it just bubbled out. She couldn’t have stopped it even if she had wanted to. And that’s ok, because even if you were embarrassed about it, it always made you smile in spite of your dignified self.

Late Sunday night, February 22, 2015, my dear mother left this world to go and meet the Saviour she had so long dreamed of meeting. I know He greeted her with the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”, because she was definitely that. I also know that she was met with some other cherished words. I expect, like my niece Jenny said, that my dad was standing there at the gates, and he immediately said, “Hello Doll.” It has been just over seven long years since he left us, and Mom has missed him so much. The next sweet words she likely heard were, “Hi Grandma!!” spoken by her two little great granddaughters, Alyssa and Laila, “We’ve been waiting to get to know you!!” And of course, there were greeting from her parents, in-laws, siblings, and other family members who have gone ahead of her. Yes, Heaven gained a new little bit of sunshine last Sunday evening, and the Earth just doesn’t seem quite as bright as it was before, because our Keeper of the Sunshine has gone to her Heavenly home.

Mom went home on her terms. She went healthy. She had a great week, having lunch with her kids, and going to dinner on Thursday night with my sister, Cheryl Masterson and me, at her favorite place…Red Lobster. She went to church on Sunday morning and very much enjoyed being surrounded by her beloved family and church Mom'sFamilyMom afamily, all of whom she considered to be a great blessing. She set up a visit with her sisters, brother, and other family members to go spend the afternoon with her sister, Evelyn, who was in the hospital. She and Cheryl had a nice quiet evening, and then Mom was going to bed, but she decided to go to Heaven instead. Mom, we miss you so much already. Our lives will never be the same again…until we are together forever in Heaven. We love you so very much. We will see you again very soon.

Dad's military daysMy children and grandchildren have always known that my dad fought in World War II, but I find that maybe they don’t fully know what his part was, or how I feel about it. That is not surprising when you think about the fact that my children, grandchildren, and indeed, even my sisters and I, were not even born when all that took place seventy years ago today. I am pleased that my grandchildren know that their great grandpa fought in World War II, because that tells me that we who are older and at least know about that time in history, have done our jobs, in teaching this youngest generation of our family about the history their family was involved in…pretty well anyway. I was also very proud of my grandson, Chris, because he was interested enough to ask the questions he did about his great grandpa’s service years.

This morning, my grandson Chris sent me a text, tip toeing a bit, because he didn’t know how I Dad looking at B-17G Bomber would feel talking about this part of me Dad’s life, and asked me if my dad was involved in the D-Day maneuvers. I immediately told him that I was very proud of the part my Dad had played in World War II, and that his squadron had provided air cover as the troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. I sent him the links to other stories I had written about my Dad’s World War II service years, and he was amazed at all his great grandpa had done. I know how he feels. The first time I was told about all the things my dad had done, I was amazed too…and very proud.

There are a number of men, and maybe even women, in our family who served their country in World War II, and were involved in D-Day maneuvers, and each one is a hero in my eyes. This was such an important day in our history, as was the war it was a part of, and I would hate to think that our grandchildren and great grandchildren would never know of the sacrifice those brave men Chris Petersenmade. I would hate to think that the heroes of this and other wars would be forgotten by a nation too busy with their own lives and interests to take the time to look back in history and see for themselves exactly what took place. I know many people find history to be dull, dry, and boring in school, but as we age, and experience a few wars, weather events, earthquakes, and other changes in our nation, we realize that maybe we really need to take a look back and see just how we came to be the great nation we are…and remember the sacrifices made by so many to get us where we are today. I want to thank all the men and women who took part in D-Day, World War II, and all the other wars our nation has been a part of. We are great because of God and you!!

Grandma Hein as we knew herAs I was looking through some old pictures, I came across one of a house. It was old, with it’s windows and doors boarded up. At first I thought that it was sad that so many houses around our country are left to fall apart, right in a town where people are using the homes all around it. I couldn’t figure out why this house had some significance, when so many others don’t. Then I looked at the back of the picture and I was surprised at what I found. First of all, so many of the pictures I have looked at, were not written on at all, leaving so much of the family history to the imagination…frustrating to say the least, and I know too that I have been guilty of that myself. We think that we will know the people in the picture, and we will, but what of the people in years to come…our children and grandchildren or even, great grandchildren…what will they know of the people or places in the picture.

So, what of the house in the picture I found…well, it was the house that Bob’s grandmother, Vina Nona Leary Schulenberg Hein was born in, 105 years ago today. It’s strange to think that you are looking at a house that was the specific location of a specific event over a century earlier, but that is exactly the case. Most births took place in the home back then, and this one was no different, in fact, it was probably completely routine…to them. To most of us today, that seems incredible, even though home births are making a comeback.

Grandma Hein’s birthday was always easy for me to remember, because it came on Groundhog’s Day. I’m sure that was always something her whole family thought was a cool thing too. Having a birthday on a special day or holiday can be fun, with the possible exception of Christmas. I have heard that a Christmas birthday, or even close to it, can be a real bummer with the whole gift thing and all, but any other special day is a cool thing. Grandma’s birthday being on Groundhogs Day, marked the day of either the promise of an early spring or 6 more weeks of a dreary winter. I don’t know, that one might depend on the House where Vina Nona Leary Schulenberg Hein was born - croppedoutcome, as to whether it was a cool birthday or not. Nevertheless, being able to look at the very house that was aflutter with activity on this Groundhog’s Day 105 years ago is a cool thing to me. I have to wonder what the walls of this old house could tell us of that day. Quite a bit I expect. It’s a bit sad to think that no little children run and play in it’s rooms, no wonderful smells fill it’s rooms, no family enjoys the warmth of it’s rooms, but rather it has become a sad empty structure left to fall apart. Still, it was an important place in it’s day…Grandma’s day of birth 105 years ago today. Happy birthday Grandma!! We love and miss you very much.

Fashionable in ShortsI have always thought that my Aunt Virginia was glamorous. It wasn’t that she lead a rich type of life or was a model or anything, I just thought she could have been. She was always beautiful, and dressed in pretty clothes. Even in a simple pair of shorts, she managed to look glamorous. I guess that as a little girl, you could say I always kind of wanted to be just like my Aunt Virginia. Of course, little girls always have people they look up to, but we have to make our own lives.

Aunt Virginia is my mom’s older sister. She is the second born of my grandparents’ nine children. I’m sure that was a very big responsibility. In any family, the older kids help with the younger kids. That said, you can imagine the experience Aunt Virginia had when it came to babies, and little kids. She helped with seven younger siblings. I was also the second born, but I only helped with three younger sisters. Nevertheless, I had plenty of experience, and when it came time for me to have my own kids…well, lets just say I knew how to handle babies, as well as little kids. I’d been around it all my life.

As I said, Aunt Virginia was my mom’s older sister, and I’m sure she watched out for her whenever she could. As kids get older, their siblings become friends. That was also the case for my mom and my Aunt Virginia. In fact, they were such good friends, that it was Aunt Virginia who introduced my mom to my dad. Now, you might be thinking that was a Aunt Virginiavery nice thing for her to do, and I would have to agree with you on that one. I mean, when you think about it, without my Aunt Virginia, where would my sisters and I be. I suppose you could say that my mother still would have had children, whether she married my dad or not, but those kids would not have been me or my sisters. I guess you could say that we very much owe our lives to Aunt Virginia.

Today is Aunt Virginia’s birthday. I can’t think of a better time to tell her thank you for introducing my parents, so we could be her nieces. I can’t think of a nicer way to become someone’s niece. Happy birthday Aunt Virginia!! I hope you have a wonderful day!! We love you very much!!

At the mall BestiesMy grand niece, Christina has to spend this, her 17th birthday, staying off of her feet after having surgery on her knee a few days ago. While I’m sure that the pain of her injured knee was far worse than the knee that is healing nicely, my guess is that fact does little to make her feel better about having to spend her birthday sitting in a chair waiting for this whole ordeal to be over.

The good news for Christina, is that her good friend and cousin, my granddaughter, Shai is spending part of the day with her. We have had several cousins in our family who were such good friends that they didn’t even seem like cousins, just friends. Christina and Shai were born 5 days apart, with another cousin Chris in there to, at 4 days after Christina. We were a busy bunch at that time. With Chris being a boy, he didn’t get into the girl thing with Christina and Shai.

Christina and Shai have many of the same interests. They love shopping, and used to hang out at the mall as much a possible. They both like all the girlie things, from make up, to hair dye, to jewelry, to clothes. But probably the thing that stands out the most about these girls is that they are just plain goofy when they get together. They are always posting the funniest pictures together, just to see if they can get a laugh out of their Goofy Shai and ChristinaPretty girlsfriends. The goofier the face they make, the more they like the picture.

Today is Christina’s 17th birthday, and it has been a difficult one with the knee surgery. Christina, I hope you have a good day in spite of the pain you are in. We love you very much. Happy birthday Christina. If you can’t have a great day, at least have a goofy one between the pain med doses.

I never knew my Great Grandpa Byer, because he passed away in 1930, long before I was born. Most of what I know of him comes from my genealogy research, pictures I have found, and the stories I have heard from my mom. The first time I remember hearing about him was when I gave birth to my oldest daughter, Corrie. My mother mention that I might want to name her Cornelia, so that it would be after her great great grandpa. I was not willing to go so far as to change the name I had chosen, but the name did attach itself to Corrie anyway, in the form of a nickname…that I loved, by the way.

My research told me that my great grandfather was born in Russia, which very much surprised me, as I thought that part of the family came from Germany. My mother filled in the blanks there, by telling me that in the 1780’s, my 6th great grandfather, who was concerned because of wars in Europe, and wanting to keep his family, and especially his son safe from the increasing German interest in jumping into the war. So, he moved his family to Russia, where my part of the family would live until, my great grandfather’s family immigrated to the United States. He eventually settled in South Dakota, where he married my great grandmother.

Picture documentation, at the point, places my great grandparents on a homestead in Nebraska. During his time in South Dakota and Nebraska, he befriended many of the Indians in the area. He was well respected by them and was invited to their Pow Wow’s. It is at this point in the family history that I came across another picture that made me wonder about its inclusion in the other family pictures. It still seems odd to me, but my mom assures me with her story, that it indeed fits in the family history. The picture is of a group of men in a pool hall. When I asked mom about the picture, she told me that she didn’t know the men in the picture, but the pool hall had belonged to her grandfather. I am still trying to figure out how he went from homesteading to a pool hall owner, but that is what he did. I’m sure that like most career changes, the decision was based on the income possibilities, because the main thing is to be able to support your family. The pool hall is not surprising to me because of what it was, but because of the fact that he had been a homesteader and farmer by trade for so long. Things change, as the needs change, and that is as simple as that. He saw a way to make a living, or even supplement the family income, and he did it. It is an interesting twist to my history.

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