college

The last year has been a whirlwind of change for my daughter, Corrie Petersen. Eight months ago, she left a job that should have had room for advancement, but simply didn’t for her position…it was a dead-end job for Corrie. Never one to give up, Corrie took future in her own hands, with much prayer and guidance from God, she went back to school to obtain the future career that she knew was the calling of her heart…nursing. She began her big job move by going through the CNA training at Shepherd of the Valley nursing home, and once she was a CNA, she began her search for a job change. Upon being hired at Elkhorn Rehabilitation Hospital, she left her dead-end job. Coming from 13 years of taking part in the caregiving process for both sets of her grandparents, Corrie went into the decision to become a nurse, with her eyes wide open. I think that lots of people try going into nursing, only to find that it isn’t for them. Nurses, CNAs, and aides do a lot of personal care tasks that are less than pleasant sometimes. If you don’t have a heart for nursing, it will be a very difficult…but Corrie has a heart for it, and has become a dedicated CNA, who is well on her way to being a nurse. The fall will bring nursing school for Corrie, and she can hardly wait. I am so excited for her.

When we think of job promotions, we don’t generally expect them to happen within the first three months, but that is exactly what happened with Corrie. Since she is a very experienced CNA, even thought she has only been working as a CNA for eight months, Corrie’s supervisors quickly saw the value she brought to their facility, and she has been promoted to lead CNA for her shift, as well as Trainer fit new hires. Both are big honors for a girl who has been on the job less than a year. She is also “laddering up,” which puts her at a higher level of training, making her much more valuable to Elkhorn Rehab Hospital. It is my understanding that they have never had a CNA ladder up, which Corrie was very surprised to find out. So I guess you could say she is making history at work.

Probably the biggest news of the year…and her lifetime, was the addition of their new baby granddaughter on May 30th of this year. Next to motherhood, grandmotherhood is about the greatest experience that comes from getting older. Not that Corrie is old at all, especially when you consider that we, her parents are now great grandparents. This baby is such a sweet, good natured little girl. Corrie and her husband, Kevin enjoy every single minute they get to spend with her. I know they would like to spend lots more time, but her family is a big one, so we all have to share. Corrie is feeling so very blessed these days. Having a grandchild is the greatest thing ever, and for Corrie and Kevin, a granddaughter is amazing, because they never got to have a daughter, and they wanted a girl too. And, to top it off, they get to share a birthday of sorts, because hr granddaughter is one month old today. And in addition, having a job you really love..well, as the saying goes, “find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Now, I don’t think that Corrie would say that her job isn’t work, but it is work she loves, and that makes all the difference. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, James Renville is one of the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful young men that people could ever know. This is information that comes to me from the people who know him the best, and not just one of them, but rather all of them. James is a family man who dearly loves his family. For James, family comes first, and he always puts them first, even if he has to change his own plans. He is soft spoken, and thinks before he speaks, making sure that his words do not hurt others. James always thinks the best of people, even if others don’t necessarily see good in them. James looks in their heart.

As a little boy, James was very into the Ninja Turtles, and he went through a Mortal Kombat phase. For several Christmases, all he wanted for Christmas was the costumes for Mortal Kombat and Ninja Turtles. Thankfully, my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is James’ grandmother, had the talent to make those costumes, and James was delighted in them and played with them constantly…over any other toys he had, in fact. James, Aunt Jenny Spethman was the only person to babysit him, other that his grandma, of course. James would always talk life with Jenny’s boys, and always on their level. He is always playing along with Jenny’s daughter, Aleesia such as pretending that her little vile of water is actually flower potion that he is going to pour on her brothers.

James has a great sense of humor, and loves to pull pranks on his dad, Jim Renville, and his step-dad, Dave Chase. With Dave, James might wake him from a dead sleep while he records the reaction or kicking the soccer ball into the water on the beach so that they have to go get it or saying something stupid while Dave is doing talk to text and then reaching over and hitting send before Dave has time to erase it. Hahaha!! Those guys really have to be on their toes when James is around. While James’ mom, my niece, Toni Chase doesn’t get to see the pranks he pulls on his dad, I’m quite certain that they are just as good. James is quite well known for his pranks, his sense of humor, and the fact that it’s all done in good clean fun, and never in a malicious way. You don’t expect the “victims” of a prank to enjoy the experience, but James’ “victims” actually do. The truth is that he likes to make others laugh (especially himself) at the expense of those he is pranking. He claims that he’s nothing like his dad but he really, he is a lot like his dad. Kids can rarely see that, at least until hey get older. He likes to make the ones he loves smile or do things to make them happy…Dave included. And of course, no pranking story would be complete without mentioning the fact that he is always trying to steal hugs from his Aunt Liz Masterson, because she pretends she doesn’t want them.

James is a self-disciplined man. He eats right and watches his spending. He loves to travel, especially in Europe, and he is saving his money from his job in the parks department for the City of Casper. His plan is to take another European vacation hopefully next year after college is out for the summer, or after he finishes college. It is my guess that James will make a number of trips there in the future. James has big plans for his future, and I know that he will be very successful. Today is James’ 21st birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

A fireman…it seems to be the every little boy’s dream, and my grandson was no exception, but what has made him the exception is the fact that he has gone through all the training to actually become a fire fighter, and he never faltered. Josh began his journey while he was still in high school. He was in his element…immediately. Josh had some wonderful mentors along the way, all of whom made this dream interesting and who confirmed his destination. They helped Josh to know that his dream was the right dream for him.

Through the Boces program, Josh started his studies while he was still in high school, and then has continued his studies as a full time college student, achieving his Associates Degree in Fire Science in one year of full time college instead of two. His is looking forward to continued study to become a Paramedic, and he will also be looking into getting hired by one of the local fire departments. He is so excited about that prospect that he can hardly wait. I suppose it is the same with any course of study. You have learned the things you need to know for your career, and now you are just itching to get at it. That is exactly where Josh is right now…standing on the threshold of his future.

I have always known that Josh would make a great fire fighter/paramedic, because of the aptitude he displayed as a young boy helping to take care of his great grandparents. He was very meticulous, gentle, and caring. When Josh was helping, they always felt at ease, knowing that he would follow directions exactly and would always be careful with them. Josh has always had a heart for caregiving, and firefighter/paramedic falls right in line with caregiving, so as a career choice, it makes perfect sense. Today is the culmination of Josh’s dream and hard work, as he graduates with an Associates Degree in Fire Science. Congratulations Josh!! We are so proud of you and all your hard work!!

I realize that everyone who has a goal in mind for their life, must be focused on that goal, in order to achieve it, but I find that very few people say that they want to do a certain thing when they are in high school, and then follow through to achieve that goal. My grandson, Josh Petersen is such a focused young man. He wants to be a firefighter and EMT, and he just keeps taking the steps that he knows are necessary to get there. He completed some of the Fire Science classes in high school, using the Boces program, and now that he is in college, he just keeps moving forward toward his goal. I am very proud of his accomplishments thus far, and I look forward to all the great things he is going to do in the future. During the Boces classes, one of the instructors took Josh under his wing, and continues to mentor him as he moves forward. I don’t think his instructor had ever had a high school student the Fire Science class. The mentoring has really helped Josh, because he has been advised on which classes to take in order to better proceed through his requirements.

One of the most recent classes that Josh is taking is one that I am very excited about. He is in the current EMT course that is offered through the Bar Nunn, Wyoming fire department. I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fact that when this class is over, my grandson will be ready for state licensing tests to become an EMT…and he will only be 19 years old. That makes me very proud. Josh is enjoying the classes, but really looks forward to the clinical part of the training, when he actually works with patients. That makes sense. Every EMT, nurse, CNA, or other health care professional wants to move beyond the learning stages and get to doing the work. When I asked Josh about his class, he told me that it was interesting, but he was looking forward to the clinical training. He is always keeping his eyes on the prize, and that makes me very proud.

Of course, Josh is still very focused on his training to be a firefighter too. He loves everything firefighter. He loves t-shirts and tattoos that have anything to do with firefighting or EMT work. Everything he does these days is to further himself toward the ultimate goal. That takes determination and drive. He loves volunteer work too, especially if it is sponsored by the fire department. I’m sure that every time he sees anything about a fire, he wishes he could be there to help with the efforts to put the fire out. I know that with Josh’s focus and determination, he will become an amazing firefighter and EMT. We are so proud of him. Today is Josh’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When a parent has their first child, they always expect…perfection. Of course, no child can ever fully live up to that expectation, but I can say that I have been very blessed with the children I have. I know…every parent says that, but I seriously can’t think of anything I would change. I won’t go into all the things my youngest daughter, Amy Royce has done here, because that is a different story, and this story is about my oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen, but suffice it to say, they are both awesome.

As a little girl, Corrie was one of the most organized kids I ever saw. She could organize just about anything. As an adult, that talent has served her well. She is an organizer at work, when she was the president of the Pineview POPI (the parent teacher group), and many other events that she has organized. She learned whatever it took to achieve the organization she needed to achieve. When her sons, Chris and Josh were getting ready for college, Corrie organized the biggest scholarship search I have ever seen. Other parents may have done the same thing, but she seemed to pull scholarships out of thin air. That’s my Corrie…very thorough!!

It’s funny how some people like their world to be ordered, and others just take it as it comes. That is one thing that I have to say Corrie and I differ at. I’m not saying one way is better than the other, because sometimes, I wish I could have order in my life. It just never seems to go that way. I’m ordered in some things, but with my job, you take things as they come in. Corrie, on the other hand has specific things that have to be done at specific times, so I guess her job has made things right in her universe. All is right in my universe, if all my technology works properly, so I can handle the chaos.

I think that one of the most special things about her birthday for Corrie, was that she has always shared her special day with her great grandmother, Nettie Knox. They both loved that fact, and they reveled in it. Their birthday parties were always the greatest day ever…because it was their very special connection. From the very first moment of Corrie’s life, she was a gift to her great grandmother. Not everyone can be a gift to someone, but she was. Grandma came in to my room, and proudly told me that Corrie had been born on her birthday. She was beaming…absolutely beaming!! It was a special connection for them for the rest of Grandma’s life, and always will be to Corrie too. Corrie thinks about Grandma every day. I just wish Grandma could have met Corrie’s family too. Today is Corrie’s birthday, and her grandma’s too. Happy birthday Corrie, and to Grandma in Heaven too!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

These days, every military veteran has available to them, a compensation package to thank them for their service. Returning servicemen have access to unemployment compensation, low-interest home and business loans, and…most importantly, funding for education, but this was not always the case. In fact, there was a time when returning veterans had to fight for bonuses they were supposed to receive, which brought about the 1932 Bonus March, in which 20,000 unemployed veterans and their families flocked in protest to Washington. I think most of us would agree that our veterans should not have to fight for the things promised to them for their service, after they have already spent time fighting for their country.

President Franklin D Roosevelt was responsible for the sweeping New Deal reforms, many of which were really not good for this nation or its people, but there was one part of that legislation that has been a good thing for returning veterans…the G.I. Bill. On this day June 22, 1944, President Franklin D Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill. It was an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services, known as G.I.s, for their efforts in World War II. The G.I. Bill…officially the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944…was proposed in an effort to avoid a relapse into the Great Depression after the war ended. The American Legion, a veteran’s organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen the compensations they now have. By giving veterans money for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and equipment, the G.I. Bill effectively transformed higher education in America. Before the war, college had been an option for only 10-15 percent of young Americans, and university campuses had become known as a haven for the most privileged classes. This was not what America was supposed to be about. By 1947, the contrast was striking. Veterans made up half of the nation’s college enrollment. Three years later, nearly 500,000 Americans graduated from college, compared with 160,000 in 1939. Sure, they had to serve their country, but for many young people, this was not only what they felt was their duty, but it also became a scholarship program.

As educational institutions opened their doors to this diverse new group of students, overcrowded classrooms and residences prompted widespread improvement and expansion of university facilities and teaching staffs. The bill was not only good for the veterans, but also for the economy, as more teaching jobs were created. An array of new vocational courses were developed across the country, including advanced training in education, agriculture, commerce, mining and fishing…skills that had previously been taught only informally. Some of these classes are responsible for some of the jobs that everyday Americans, even those without college educations have held. Jobs such as mining, and farming, and even fishing became commonplace.

The G.I. Bill became one of the major forces for economic expansion in America that lasted 30 years after World War II. Only 20% of the money set aside for unemployment compensation under the bill was given out. Most veterans found jobs or pursued higher education. Low interest loans enabled millions of American families to move out of cities and buy or build homes outside the city, changing the face of the suburbs. Over 50 years, the impact of the G.I. Bill was enormous, with 20 million veterans and dependents using the education benefits and 14 million home loans guaranteed, for a total federal investment of $67 billion. Among the millions of Americans who have taken advantage of the bill are former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, former Vice President Al Gore and entertainers Johnny Cash, Ed McMahon, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood, and closer to home, my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg, as well as my nephew, Allen Beach and soon, his wife, Gabby.

allen-gabbyMy niece, Gabby Beach, who married my nephew Allen on September 24, 2014, is just wrapping up her service in the Navy. In fact, that is where they met…stationed in Yokosuka, Japan. Theirs was an unusual courtship in that it all happened abroad. The proposal was unusual too, in that it took place in Bali. The whole trip was rather exotic, including riding an elephant. Definitely not your run of the mill proposal.

After their time in Japan was over, Gabby and Allen were stationed n Washington DC, where she worked in a dental office, but she also worked with service dogs as a volunteer. Now that is far more interesting than dental work, and if you had a chance elephant-rideto talk to Gabby about that work, as I did, you would know that just the mention of her beloved dogs, makes her beautiful eyes just light up. It didn’t take much imagination to know that those dogs were like children to Gabby, and she totally loves them. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that she continued to volunteer in the training of service dogs after her time in the service is over, or even if she chose that or something similar as a career for life. To hear her tell about the dogs and what they do, which is to go into hospitals and simply visit the patients. That sounds like such a small thing, but since I have seen such dogs in action in the nursing home where my mother-in-law lives, I can tall you that those dogs are invaluable to the residents there. They have such a wonderful way with them, and they bring joy to each patient they “visit,” because that is what they do, make rounds or visit the patients. It is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen, and to think that Gabby has helped train them, is really cool. It has to be an amazing feeling.
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Upon leaving the Navy, Gabby will begin college. I’m not sure what she plans to study, or if they will continue in Washington DC or transfer somewhere else. I know that Texas has been mentioned, but time will tell where they decide to land. For now, a road trip in June to Oregon to watch her younger brother graduate from high school is the first order of business. I also know that the summer months will find Gabby and Allen doing the pastime the love the most…fitness of lots of kinds, but for Gabby, the top activity on her list is rock climbing. No wonder she looks so good. She’s always out there, in search of amazing. Today is Gabby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gabby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

14237692_10209588912215189_7559655245821570841_n14222288_10209588768491596_3658693795732211363_nMy youngest grandchild, Josh Petersen has a plan for his life. He decided a couple of years ago that he wanted to be a firefighter and EMT, and he began taking college classes through the Boces program, that allows high school students to take college classes while still in high school. Josh had been interested in becoming a fire fighter, but that interest became his dream after his grandpa, Bob Schulenberg arranged a visit to the Casper Fire Station 3. The fire fighters not only showed him around, but explained how things worked. Then they suggested that he take Fire Science at Casper College while he was still in high school. I don’t think he had any idea that he could take that kind of a class while still in high school, but he was excited…and hooked. Now, it’s all he thinks about. He loved the Fire Science class, and has continued to take college classes with his full focus on becoming a firefighter and EMT.

As part of the Fire Science program, Josh was required to volunteer as several events. Josh changed so much when he started these events and the Fire Science program. He was completely in his element. It was like watching him become a fire fighter…right before our very eyes. Josh thrived on the volunteer work too, so much so, in fact that this year, even though in isn’t in the class that requires him to volunteer, Josh went to that instructor, and told him he wanted to volunteer. His instructor was shocked. I guess no one had ever asked to do it again, but you just don’t turn a volunteer away, so Josh is volunteering again this year. He will 14102478_10209588759171363_377691191620136209_n14183763_10209588758291341_1963445259551406170_nbe helping at three events, a 5K run, the Platte River cleanup, and the Fire Station 3 open house. He is so excited to be back helping the fire fighters do the things they do…even if these things aren’t fire related this time.

Josh loves everything fire fighter related…so much so, that he decided that he wanted some of his senior pictures taken at the fire station. So, his grandpa called to make that arrangement too. Josh had such a good time having those pictures taken. It was like he could see into the future. He saw himself as a fire fighter…like it had already happened. Soon Josh…before you know it. Today is Josh’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Young Mom and DadSometimes, when I look at the younger versions of my parents’ pictures, I find that I can see the promise of the future in their eyes. Their young faces reflect the plans they have in mind for where they are going, and how their lives will play out. Some of those plans will come to fruition, and others will not…or maybe those that didn’t, were later deemed not important. Plans and dreams change as time goes on. I suppose that no one really knows how they want every part of their life to go, but as a young married couple, most people have definite ideas of what direction they expect their lives to go.

I wish I had thought to ask my parents about the plans and dreams that were dropped from sight, if they had any regrets, and if they feel like their life is better or worse due to the changed plans and dreams. I don’t really think my parents would have felt that their lives were worse for not having fulfilled some of the dreams they had as young people, but it’s hard to say for sure. I know that there are some times that I look back on a few things I had planned, and wonder if I would have been happier if I had done those things. Of course, after that moment, I look at the life I have and I think, “No, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Even the sad things, are the way they should be.Dad and Mom

Young couples tend to have lofty goals and big dreams, and then life gets in the way. There isn’t always time to do some of the things you thought you would. I suppose that is often because the dreams of your children come first, and you always think that you will do those other things later on…when the kids are grown up. Of course, then the grandchildren come on the scene. Before you know it, the plans and dreams you had are so far from your mind that you barely think about them anymore. I suppose you could think of them with regret then, but I don’t think most of us do, because there is always the promise of the future. As long as we are alive, we have the option to dream new dreams, or fulfill the old ones. Life is filled with possibilities, even if some of them seem to be out of reach for now. With the promise of the future comes the reality that the possibilities are endless, if we don’t give up, or change our minds.

Kevin, Josh, and Chris paintball fightingKevin 3For some time now, my daughter Corrie Petersen, her husband, Kevin and their boys, Chris and Josh have loved camping. They camped on Casper Mountain, where the boys used to play paintball, and at Alcova Lake, where they liked to fish. The boys all love fishing, and while Corrie would rather take pictures, they find the lake to be a very relaxing place. This year, however, has been a little bit different for them. While they are still camping at the lake, fishing, taking pictures, and just enjoying the three day Memorial Day weekend, they are one short, because Chris moved to Sheridan, and couldn’t get off work to go along. That is what happens when kids graduate from college, and start their adult life and their career. Their priorities are different now. They have their own plans and dreams. imageWhile they truly miss going camping with the family, that simply isn’t to be right now.

Corrie and Kevin are very proud of the accomplishments Chris has made, and of his job. Chris is a chef at the Open Range restaurant in the historic Sheridan Inn, in Sheridan, Wyoming. Chris loves his job, and he has made lots of friends in Sheridan. As graduation neared, he decided that for now at least, he wanted to stay in Sheridan, so the family is trying to reinvent their camping trips around the reality of being one short. They understand that Chris is not that far away really, because Sheridan is only about two hours from Casper, but when they are camping and he isn’t there, it might as well be a thousand miles away. Being one short is still being one short.

For Corrie and Kevin, this is the beginning of change. Before long, Josh will be through with college and on to his career too. The boys will marry and have families of their own, and the camping trips will again be reinvented to being two short. I hope they will still go out and do the things they love to do, and that on occasion one or both of the boys will join them and later, bring their families too, because the memories they will have of the whole family camping and fishing IMG_8300Jumping Joshtogether will be priceless later on in their lives. I know, because I remember them from my childhood. For me the chances to go camping…or anywhere else with my parents are in the past. I would love to be able to go back in time for a little bit, to roast marshmallows over the campfire and sing campfire songs with the whole family. The memories are sweet, but they make me lonely for my parents too. I hope Chris and Josh will try to get together with their parents once in a while at the campground. They will never be sorry they did, because the memories will be with them forever.

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