My husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz raised her children as a single mom for most of their lives. She was there for them in every way. From early childhood, through the school years, and beyond. She has been a hands-on mom, grandma, and great grandma. As we all know, life isn’t always a bed of roses. It has it’s ups and downs, and especially for kids, we need to help them get through all of it. Margee was very supportive of her family, and took them through most of life’s sad times, and well as celebrating the good times.
I think that one of the greatest joys of Margee’s life was the time she got to spend with her grandchildren. Part of that time was spent helping to raise her son, Dan’s two children, Zech and Staci Kountz, who lost their mother at an early age to cancer. They needed her…all three of them, and she was there for them. To be there for someone like that, even your own child, takes strength…incredible strength. Margee has carried her kids through good times and bad times. It’s what a great mom does, and Margee is a great mom.
Margee is the youngest of her parents, Bob and Nettie Knox, kids, and the last one left now. She was a great sister to Joanne Schulenberg and Linda Cole. While she couldn’t always go see them, she did her best to stay in touch. She saw Joann mere, because she was in a nursing home here in Casper, but Linda lived far away, so it was hard. Nevertheless, Margee loved her sisters dearly, and they loved her. I remember so many years in the past and some of the great gatherings we all had. Margee had learned cake decorating, and often made the birthday cakes for our celebrations. They were beautiful. I miss those gatherings. We had such a great time when we all got together. The family is spread around some, and of course, we get busier by the day, but in my memory files, I still see this family, all together and having a great time. Today is Margee’s 72nd birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The name Bonnie comes from the Scottish word “bonnie” meaning pretty or attractive, which was itself derived from Middle French bonne “good” as a way to describe a fair, good, and beautiful girl. I think that is what my grandparents had in mind when they named my aunt Bonnie Beth Byer, who is now Bonnie McDaniels. I think her husband, Jack McDaniels agreed with that description, because from the first time he laid eyes on Aunt Bonnie, his heart decided to do a dance. Now, no one told me that, but I could see it every time he looked at her. He was so in love with her, and he always knew that she was his bonnie Bonnie…or as the meaning goes, his beautiful Bonnie.
Aunt Bonnie is indeed a beautiful woman, inside and out…and she used to make bonnie cakes before she retired from that. The weddings that her cakes graced are among the most beautiful ever seen. No professional could have bested her in my opinion. There is a beauty that comes from making something with love. Her cakes had the physical beauty, but the love beauty was truly the icing on the cake. There is just something about someone with a great talent, who thinks more about other people that she does herself. That’s just how Aunt Bonnie is, so thoughtful, kind, and caring.
Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Jack have always had a lovely place out in the country. It is normally so quiet and peaceful, but there have been a few exciting moments, one of which was the time the bridge burned, when someone set of fireworks on the old wooden bridge that was the only easy way out of their place. The alternate access road was miles out of the way for Aunt Bonnie. For a time, the county had talked about not rebuilding the bridge, but finally they decided to do so. I’m thankful, because if another fire went through the area, it would be difficult for her to escape…and that had me worried. I love my aunt and I want her to be safe. I’m sure that was not the first trial Aunt Bonnie had while living in the country, and probably won’t be the last either. Nevertheless, she takes it all in stride, because she is a strong woman, as well as a bonnie beautiful one. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
I love looking at the pictures my family posts…especially the kids. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s true, but sometimes it’s the caption that really grabs me. Such was the case the other day when I looked at this picture posted by my cousin, Grace Oltman. The picture shows the smiling faces of her son, Hosea and her sister, Angel Pallas’ daughter, Hazel. These kids never cease to amaze me, because they are just being kids, after all. Grace captioned the picture with, “They will do anything for some candy.” That immediately took me back to the years when my grandchildren were little ones, and we tried so hard, sometimes in vain to get a good picture of the four of them.
As the grandma, it was my idea to do the four of them, and sometimes I think my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, thought I was crazy. In fact, sometimes I thought I was crazy. We tried everything to get them to all four smile at the same time…and I mean we tried everything, including candy, if they cooperated. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. Now, looking at the pictures Grace took…which turned out amazing, by the way, I see what my problem was. She gave them the candy while they had the picture taken. What kid wouldn’t smile with a piece of chocolate in their hand? Oh, if I had only known. Of course, these little kids, Hazel, Hosea, Tenley, and Canaan, as well as cousins, Addilayde and Meadow, are definitely not strangers to the camera. Their parents take lots of pictures of them, and these kids know how to smile for the camera. I think that is why I enjoy looking at all their pictures so much. There is just nothing sweeter than looking at a smiling child…even if it is a candy smile, and even if the candy, cake, or whatever else they may enjoy having, is all over their face.
Every once in a while, however, even mom’s who take great pictures because the kids are so cooperative, will hit a bit of a snag. Such was the case when Grace took the picture of little Hosea and his little brother Canaan. Hosea was wearing his usual great smile, but Canaan needed a little help. Uh…Grace, I think you forgot the chocolate on this one, but then I guess Canaan was a teeny bit to small for that. Nevertheless, those sad face pictures can be just as cute as the ones that are all smiles. In the end, I had to promise to let my grandkids, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen, do one goofy picture in order to get good smiles out of them. I guess that the moral of the story is…whatever works.
People’s lives change at least a little bit every day, but not every birthday brings the kind of changes that this one brought for my nephew, Jason Sawdon. Of course the changes didn’t happen on his birthday either, but it’s a big change nevertheless. You see, the last birthday Jason had, he was not a daddy. This year is totally different, and he hasn’t been a daddy for very long either. That amazing, exciting day happened on August 25, 2016…less than a month ago. He and my niece, Jessi are still trying to wrap their minds around parenthood. Not being parents, as in how to do so, but being parents, as in she’s really here. It’s really true. And they are having just the best time being daddy and mommy.
Jason has been a Wyoming Highway Patrolman for some time now, and he is very good at his job…even becoming Trooper of the Year for 2015. Jason is a great trooper, but for him, nothing compares to how good he feels about being a husband and daddy. Like most daddies…especially daddies of daughters, I have a feeling that Jason is already living his life wrapped around his daughter, Adelaide’s baby finger. The funny thing about these daddies…they don’t really care if that’s where they live. They love that little girl so much.
I have always loved that person Jason is. He has a great smile, and he loves his girls…Jessi, Adelaide, and their boxer dog, Daisy. Jason is currently surrounded by women, and I don’t think he minds that one bit. In fact, I think Jason is loving have his girls around him. He is the kind of guy who knows how to make his girls feel special. I particularly recall a cake sale, when he wouldn’t let Jessi’s cake be sold for less than $100.00. That would just never do. Of course, Jessi is a great cook, but Jason wanted everyone to know the value of his wife’s cake. If he could have done priceless, I think he would have. That’s what he thinks of all his girls. It’s all a part of who Jason is. He is very thankful for all the blessings he has received, and he thinks his whole life is pretty priceless.
When your children grow up and start dating, you begin to hope that they will be able to pick the right spouse, so theirs will be a “til death do we part” kind of marriage. It’s really hard to let your kids make their own choices, because you wonder if they will know what true love is, but then does anyone know at first. I don’t know how my girls both managed to get that perfect mate…just like I had…on the very first try, but they did, and I couldn’t be happier for them. Each new year of their marriage is sweeter than the year before.
My daughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen, married her husband Kevin Petersen 23 years ago today, and their marriage has been richly blessed. She was only two weeks out of high school, but they knew that it was right. I remember being so busy with both wedding and graduation. I barely had time to think about the fact that my little girl was getting married and leaving the nest. In fact, I recall being a bit surprised that I wasn’t torn up about it, and then just chalking it up to the fact that Corrie’s little sister, Amy was still here at home, so it wasn’t really an empty nest.
The wedding went off without a single problem. It was beautiful, and the kids were both so happy. The reception went off perfectly as well. The kids were relaxed and enjoying the time to visit with their friends and family. The cake was beautiful, the wedding gown stunning, and the rings were exchanged, but of course what made the wedding so amazing was the love shared by two young people who were now ready to set out on their own and begin a new life. Even then it didn’t occur to me that I would feel any of the common empty nest feelings. Then came the time for them to leave to begin their honeymoon. Everyone went outside to see them off, and they drove away waving and smiling. The day was over, except for the clean up.
There were still a number of guests there when I went back in, including my sister, Cheryl Masterson. As I came in the door, I turned to her and said, “Well…they’re gone.” Immediately, the floodgates burst. The tears that flowed were completely unexpected, but could not be stopped. My baby girl was a married woman, and she was heading out to start her adult life with her husband. They had each other now, and she no longer needed her mommy to guide her through life. I realize now that I was wrong, and that those were the thoughts of a newly, if not just partially, empty nester. There would be many times she…they would need me again. They were married, not gone forever. Their lives have taken many turns, and there have been many times that they have needed me, and I have needed them. They couldn’t possibly be more of a blessing to me. Happy Anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you both very much!! Have a totally amazing and wonderful day!!
When it comes to teaching babies how to do things, it seems like we all want a part in it. We may not even realize that we do, but we do. As mothers, we try many things to get our babies to eat solid foods…especially those dreaded vegetables. You might see a mother pretending that the spoon is an airplane or a train, hoping that her child will decide that food on a train or plane tastes better, or won’t notice that the dreaded vegetable has been eaten. Maybe those things work and maybe they don’t but either way, they can look very funny, and to think that as teenagers we were always thought of as pretty cool…so what happened? The thing I find really funny is that the mother always opens her mouth to apparently show the child what he needs to do. Like a kid who hates his vegetables is going to open his mouth just because his mommy did, right. I think not. Of course the funniest face in the food game is that of a child who absolutely hates the food he is getting. They look like you have just given them poison and…seriously, how could you be such a bad parent, but have you ever noticed that even a baby who hates food, happens to find her toes, she has no problem putting those in her mouth.
Something women tend to do for no real reason is the open mouth to put on mascara maneuver. I really don’t know what purpose this serves, but yes, I do it too. And, I don’t know of a single woman who wears mascara that doesn’t do that. Maybe it’s an instinct, but I simply can’t understand why. It’s rarely something I think of when I am putting on my mascara, but when it is mentioned…usually by a man…I have to wonder why I do it. They say that it doesn’t make it easier to get your mascara on, but they can’t convince my mouth of that fact. It just instinctively wants to help, just like the mom who opens her mouth to get baby to eat. I don’t know, maybe there really is an eye mouth connection.
Then, of course, there is the child having his first birthday. It’s only one candle, but for some reason, not even the baby’s breath can manage to blow it out. If you want those candles to stay lit, they simply won’t, but if baby is trying to blow them out, they are like a never ending flame. Have you ever looked around at the other people who are watching? I’ll bet that about half of them have their mouth puckered up trying to help the baby blow out the candles. They aren’t blowing out any air, they are just puckered up…almost like they are throwing a kiss, and the baby just sits there looking at the pretty candle. I’m not even sure they really want to blow it out. Whatever the reason, you will find no such difficulty when told to eat that cake. That kid…even the one who hates everything, will dive right in, and have a totally different look on their face. But then, the look on your face might be different if you were eating cake too.
With Valentine’s Day coming up tomorrow, everyone is buying candy and other goodies for their favorite valentine. In that spirit and in conjunction with the Super Bowl, our church always has a Chili Luncheon and Cake Auction. We bring in cakes, and then bid on them, paying insanely high prices to buy the things needed for the Sunday School classes. It is a great way to have a good time and see what great cooks we have in the church…and believe me, we have great cooks!!
My niece Jessi bid on and won a pink layer cake that she shared with the family at the luncheon, and it was amazing. It was what I would call the sleeper of the day, because had anyone known how amazing that cake was, Jessi would never have won the bid. Some of the well known cakes go for as much as $300.00, and this one would have been right up there. That said, I’m glad for us that no one knew, because we got to have it. It had like 4 layers, including a fruit topping and cream layers, along with the cake layers. It was absolutely Heavenly!!
Because the cake was pink, and in honor of the coming Valentine’s Day holiday, the perfect final touch was three red heart suckers. This worked out very well, because we had three little ones in our family that were there at that point, so they each got one of them. Now, anyone who has ever eaten a red sucker, or any other color for that matter, knows that all that pretty color is going to show up on their tongue, and that was exactly what happened.
Yes, all of them had the red tongue, but Aurora being a girl and a little older than her cousin Aleesia, is very into sticking out her tongue for the camera, just like the bigger girls do. I never could understand the whole sticking your tongue out thing. It reminds me of throat cultures, but the way Aurora does it is more like sticking your tongue out at someone you are mad at, except with a smile on her face. Because she likes doing that, she was happy to have me take her picture, so that everyone could see her Valentine Tongue.
Few things are harder on a mother, than disciplining their child. Especially when their little darling is so heartbroken about it. And then, if he pulls a 1-800-Grandma on them, it can get worse, because for those of you who haven’t guessed, 1-800-Grandma is when a grandchild tells grandma on mommy, and then mommy has to reiterate that the punishment will stand, even in the face of Grandma’s sad and sympathetic look.
Such was the case the other day at a family gathering, when my niece, Chelsea told her son, Ethan, that he couldn’t have a piece of cake, because he had acted up. Of course, Ethan went to sit with his grandma, my sister, Allyn and told her that he couldn’t have any cake. When she asked him why, he said, crying the whole time, “Mommy won’t let me!!” Like me, Allyn has a really soft heart when it comes to those grandbabies, even though we might have done very differently with our own kids. It’s just that…these are our grandbabies, and we can’t stand denying them anything!!
Of course, this new twist to the situation is about to get…ugly for Mommy. Allyn turned to Chelsea and said, “Why can’t he have cake?” That left Chelsea to defend her decision…or Ethan would know that he could get away with it by going to Grandma. So, Chelsea said, “You know you would do the same thing, if you were me!!” Oops!! Allyn, like me, had stepped into the middle of something we really wished we hadn’t. Just why is it that we don’t turn right round and chew out that grandbaby for putting us in the middle? It’s what we would have done if it were our mom, and our children! So what makes this different? Mostly, it’s that we did not dish out the punishment, and after all…its our grandbaby…so how is it that Grandma can’t fix this little heartbreak for him!!! That is a grandma’s job…can’t his mother understand that!!
Nevertheless, Chelsea stood her ground, and Ethan got no cake. He will know the next time, that when his mommy says to do something, she means it. It is a lesson that every good mother has to make sure her child learns. If they don’t, they will always be out of control, and no one will want to be around them. Really, she is doing Ethan and his little sister, Aurora a great service by teaching them the rules when they are little, because if they are little terrors, people don’t want to be around them, and don’t want their kids around them either. Ethan and Aurora are good children, and, as we all know, Grandma’s heart will be ok.
It doesn’t make it any easier to discipline your children, because in reality, it breaks Mommy’s heart too. That is her baby, and even though whatever he did was wrong, not allowing him to have cake is pure torture…for Mommy!!! It is the act of a good mother though, and must be done. Today is Chelsea’s birthday!! She is a good mom. I think Ethan will be a good little boy and will get some cake today. Happy birthday Chelsea!! Have a great day, and don’t make Ethan call 1-800-Grandma!! We love you!!
As our 38th wedding anniversary approaches, I am reminded of the flurry of activity that was going on about this time in the planning stages of the ceremony. My wedding gown, which was made by my grandmother was finished, and it was beautiful. The rice bags were ready, and the flowers had been ordered. My cake, made by my Aunt Evelyn was ready, except for the final touches as it was placed on the reception table. Everything was coming together perfectly. We had only a few more days to wait until our wedding day arrived. My mind was filled with excitement, and my heart was filled with happiness.
My three younger sisters, Caryl, Alena, and Allyn, were going to sing at our wedding, and they had been practicing, and a little praying, that their part would turn out perfectly. The song I had chosen was called, “O Perfect Love” and I couldn’t imagine a better song for the love Bob and I had, and still have. Their voices blending in harmony as they practiced their song, were beautiful. I was amazed at how well, these my little sisters, only 15, 13, and 11 years old, could sing. Sometimes, the age of the voice doesn’t really matter, it is the pure, crystal clear beauty of the voice that matters.
That is what my sisters had…pure, angelic voices. I was so pleased that they were going to be singing at our wedding, and the song they were going to sing was so beautiful. I can still hear every word…every note, as the girls sang that song for me and my husband. It was like they were singing a prayer over our marriage. It was not just a popular song of the times, it was a hymn. It was, and is the most beautiful wedding song I have ever heard, and it was sung for Bob and me by the three angelic voices of my little sisters. Thank you Caryl, Alena, and Allyn, for your beautiful contribution to our wedding day. I love you all.
O Perfect Love
O perfect Love, all human thought transcending,
lowly we kneel in prayer before thy throne,
that theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
whom thou forevermore dost join in one.
O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance,
of tender charity and steadfast faith,
of patient hope and quiet, brave endurance,
with childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
Grant them the joy which brightens earthly sorrow;
grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
and to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
that dawns upon eternal love and life.
My Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George were married 65 years ago today. These days that is an amazing accomplishment. My Uncle George has been a part of our family longer than anyone except the original siblings. My Aunt Sandy, the youngest of Aunt Evelyn’s sisters and brothers was only 2 years old when they got married. As Aunt Sandy has told me before, her brothers-in-law and sister-in-law are more like her own brothers and sister. She can’t remember a time in her life without them.
When my mom and dad were dating, they often went out with Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George. One night after going to a movie, my dad was driving Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George home before taking my mom home, and as they were crossing the railroad tracks in Mills, a track with no lighting and no signal or gate, on a moonless night, a train without his headlight on approached. They would have all been killed if it were not for Uncle George yelling, “Train!!” and my dad quickly turning the car in the direction the train was heading. When I think of what could have been if my uncle hadn’t seen what he saw and reacted, and my dad hadn’t listened and reacted…well, I wouldn’t even be here today. What an amazing man my uncle is.
My Aunt Evelyn is the oldest of my grandparents 9 children. She used to decorate cakes in her younger years. She made my mother’s wedding cake, as well as mine and many more. She did beautiful work, and would inspire her sister, my Aunt Bonnie to follow in her footsteps. Aunt Evelyn also bowled for a number of years, and I had the great pleasure of bowling with her for a good number of those years. But, most importantly, she was Mom to her kids. She was a stay at home mom, as many moms were back then. Together, Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George raised 5 children, and now have many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Their lives have been a great blessing to their children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and all who know them. Happy 65th Anniversary Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George!! We all love you very much!!