My nephew, Steve Spethman is very industrious. Over the years, he has built his own working guns, knives in his own forge, and most recently, yard art which is really amazing. When he built his own rifle, I was amazed at his ability, because it looked great, but the thing that has most fascinated me is making his own knives in his own forge. Since the television program called “Forged In Fire” came on air, I think more and more people have become interested in the process of knife making. On the show, they not only make knives, but they highlight that many types of knives there are, many of which I had no idea at all. Not only is Steve making knives, but he is teaching his three boys, Xander, Zack, and Isaac how to forge knives too, and I suppose that if his daughter, Aleesia ever shows an interest in it, he will show her how to forge too.

Steve is very talented in knife making, as well as the other things he does, and he even sells his work. After getting into knife making, Steve decided that he needed his own forge, where he and his boys could make their knives. So he created one on his property. Now, my niece and his wife, Jenny will never have to buy a knife again. Steve is getting so good at his craft that it wouldn’t surprise me to see him become a contestant on the show. His talent is irrefutable, and for anyone with such talent, competition is the logical next step. Steve’s ability, along with his lack of conceit concerning his talents, make his such a wonderful guy for people to talk to about forging knives.

Steve can talk to anyone, and is also a very helpful person in this and other areas of life. Anyone who finds themselves in a jam or needing some assistance, can call on Steve to get them out of the situation. Steve has been known to pull a vehicle out of the snow and help build a deck, as well as the remodeling work he has done on his own home, which is excellent work, by the way. Steve is all about family, his own, and his extended family too. These people are important to him, and they are very blessed to be so. Steve has a heart of gold, and big shoulders to handle any job. There is very little he can’t do, and really nothing he won’t help with, when someone has a need. His friends and family can fully attest to his kind and willing heart. I have known Steve since he was twelve years old, and I can honestly say that I am very proud of the man he has become. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

So much has changed over the past thirteen years. My grand niece, Jaydn Mortensen has gone from being a shy little girl to a confident young lady, who really excels at anything she puts her mind to. Jaydn lives in Rawlins, so we don’t get to see her as much as we would like, and that was probably why she was a little more shy at first, but once she knew that we are her family too…well, that settled it. Jaydn was always a bubbly little girl who was always on the go, and the fact that her parents, Sean and Amanda lead very active lives, made that the norm for Jaydn too.

They love spending the summer weekends at Seminole Reservoir, and that has made Jaydn…for lack of a better word…a bit of a fish. She has grown up on that lake, and she loves to swim, ski, and go boating. The lake is practically her home away from home. When Sean and Amanda go to the lake on the weekends, there is always a big group of friends who go too, so there are always other kids for Jaydn to play with, although she is getting to old of “play” exactly. Nevertheless, she not to big to have a great time hanging with her friends and family at the lake.

All that aside, Jaydn’s first love is horses. She loves to ride, and loves to compete. She competes in rodeo, and other riding events too. She has become quite an accomplished horsewoman, and we are all very proud of her accomplishments. She is so completely at home with her horses and in the arena. Nevertheless, she is growing into such a beautiful and graceful young lady, and I am always amazed at the changes in her, but then I guess I shouldn’t be. She comes from great parents, who have given her the freedom and the means to fulfill her dreams, and have cheered her along all the way. Today is Jaydn’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Jaydn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageOur 1st cousin once removed, Nathan Avey, who is Bob’s cousin Sandi Kountz’ middle child finished college this past year, and landed a job in Lewiston, Montana working for Spika Welding and Manufacturing Inc doing drafting and design work. He is somewhat lonely living so far away from his family, especially since the passing of his brother, Brian on June 21, 2014, just four days after Nathan…who we have always known as Kyler..moved to Lewiston. Nevertheless, he is adjusting.

Kyler was a swimmer in school, and loved the hard work and practice. It made him strong and kept him in shape. And he loved the competition. Sometimes people find release in the competition, and I think that is how it was with Kyler. Swimming kept him focused, as well as keeping him in shape. I believe it will be that focus that Brian, Destreyia, & Kylerwill give him the strength and wisdom to help his family through the coming months and years. He has already begun, by keeping close tabs on his mom. As a kid we don’t understand how important that is, but now that so much has happened Kyler is stepping up and taking on the responsibilities of the man of the family.

As the middle brother, Kyler was often in on the teasing that he and Brian used to do to Destreyia, but now that Brian is gone, Kyler feels not only terrible loss, but the very real need to step up and be a good big brother to Destreyia and also the man of the family for his mom, Sandi. It is a big responsibility for anyone to take on, and Kyler is just 20 years old, and still dealing with his own feelings of grief.

I know that right now, things seem impossibly hard for Kyler and for his family, but with time it will get a little easier…or rather, will become normal…if losing your imagebrother can ever be normal. I guess it is just a matter of moving forward, because that is all you can do.

The future is bright for Kyler, even if things seem grim right now. It won’t be easy, but this family will rebuild itself, and I think Kyler will be a big part of that. He is stronger than he knows. Today is kyler’s 20th birthday. Happy birthday Kyler!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The WinnerChris' CamaroWhen a person is a hot car enthusiast with their own hot car, the ultimate thrill is winning a competition. For many car owners, the wait for that first win is a long one, but for my grandson, Chris Petersen, that first win came with his first entry. That is such a rare occurrence, that it really is almost unheard of. So often these car shows are won partly on name recognition, and Chris' First Place Trophya first time competitor doesn’t have that recognition. It didn’t matter in this case. They simply loved Chris’ car!! I can understand that, because his car is awesome. Chris and his dad, my son-in-law, Kevin put a lot of work into this car…even Chris’ little brother, Josh helped a little bit. The resulting car is, as you can see…beautiful.

When I heard that Chris was going to enter the 2014 Casper Chrome Virtual Car Show, it never occurred to me that he would actually win it. Of course, I knew that his car was winner worthy, but there were 74 other cars entered in the competition. There were a lot of nice cars and yet, when it came right down to it, the winner was my eighteen year old grandson, Chris. My daughter, Corrie and her family were all just floating. It was such an amazing day for them all. The winner was to be announced at a party on Saturday, April 26th, and the winning car was to be put on display at the party, so I’m quite sure that all 75 entrants were on hand. There were a lot of cars with well known owners, and yet the winner was my grandson, Chris. He
will receive some really cool prizes for his win. Of course, he got the trophy, which is huge by the way. He will also receive a custom Grand Champion jacket, a photo session, so he can have some great shots of his awesome car, and a $250.00 gas card, which is an awesome prize by itself. I am so excited to see the jacket and the photos.
Before & After
I’m sure there will be other car show wins in the future for Chris, but there is just nothing that can ever compare to the way a person feels with their first win. You know that you have worked hard on this. You really had no idea what it would take to make this car a winner…and maybe you never even considered that it could be a winner. You just knew that as the changes on the car took place, and it started to become the car of your dreams, you started thinking that maybe…just maybe, it could be a winner…and suddenly, it was. There you are, Chris, in the Winner’s Circle!! A dream come true!! Congratulations Chris!! You worked hard on this, and we are all so very proud of you!!

You Stepped On My ToeFor all of their childhood years, my daughter Amy just wanted to be different than her big sister, Corrie. Corrie played the violin, so Amy wanted to play the clarinet. If Corrie wanted to watch Bugs Bunny, Amy wanted to watch Mickey Mouse. It wasn’t like they fought about things, because mostly they didn’t. The girls got along very well, and were always good friends. Amy just didn’t want to be mini-me to her big sister. I suppose that because they were born so close together…just eleven months apart…they seemed to be the same age by the time they could both walk. Corrie had the distinction of being the big sister, and everyone knew it, because Amy forgot to grow. At just 4’10 (which is hard for me to say, because we always thought it was 4’11, until her husband, Travis proved us wrong), there was little doubt in anyone’s mind that she was the youngest. Of course, they would have thought that if she had been the oldest too, so I guess, for Corrie’s sake it was a good thing that the shorter child was also the younger child.

For Amy, who never really felt like she was the younger child…but rather felt like they should be equal, there always seemed to be something to prove. It wasn’t exactly like a competition, but rather an opposition. She didn’t want to compete to be the best at the same things Corrie was doing, she just wanted to be her own person. That is why, no matter what the situation was, Amy wanted to do the opposite of Corrie. If Amy couldn’t be the oldest, she would have to be the opposite. There were the natural things that worked out in Amy’s favor too…being shorter, being blond while her sister was brunette, even needing glasses for distance vision, while Corrie needed them for near vision. Yes, these two daughters of mine were as opposite and opposite could possibly be.

You would naturally think that there would be nothing but fighting in our household, with all this I want to be different than her opposition going on, and sometimes you would be right. My big sisThe argument was mostly with their mother though. I saw nothing wrong with both girls playing the violin, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth, and Amy quickly informed me of the error of my ways. I would have even dressed them alike, but that was also a no no! So, I learned to see these two little people, as two very different individuals…not a bad thing I suppose. And, while Amy did everything in her power to show her individuality, she loved her big sister. And, every so often, I would catch a little look…usually so subtle that it went unnoticed until years later in a picture, that told me that while Amy didn’t want to be mini-me to Corrie, she thought her big sister was pretty great, nevertheless.

The Great HuntAs young men, my dad and his brother, my Uncle Bill loved to do all the normal guy thins that most young men want to do, and hunting was right up there near the top, along with fishing, and pretty much anything that had to do with guns or dynamite, such as blowing a tree stump out of the ground, or sinking the front gate, and then fixing it before their mom found out. They were rough and rugged boys who, like most young men of those times, were growing up too fast. Times were hard, and families needed all the help they could get from all their children. Hunting was something families could do to supply food for their tables, and rabbits were always in abundance…then and now. Of course, for my dad and uncle, the guns were a cool as the hunting. They both loved guns and knew how to use them from the time they were little. Uncle Bill was hunting this particular day with a Mossberg, and my dad was using a 1906 Winchester.

Like most boys, they had high hopes for their hunts. They were going to bag that big buck, or the most rabbits, or even bring in the most fish. I’m sure they competed against each other, Dad, Uncle Bill, & fishbut I think that quite often, they pooled their resources and tried to beat the record they set the last time they went. Of course, nothing went to waste either, because that was not how things were done. The kills they made provided food for their family during those hard times of the great depression.

Though times were tough, I don’t really think my dad or his brother noticed it much, nor did their sisters really. Sure, they knew times were tough, and that everyone had to help out, but it was simply a way of life, and nothing they thought was so special. I guess that is pretty common with most people who aspire to do great things, whether it be heroic acts, service to country, or stepping up for family. Heroes come in all kinds of forms, and I’m sure that my dad’s family thought of their kids as heroes for all the help they gave them through the years.

When the first two of my four grandchildren, Christopher and Shai were little, the spent a lot of time together, since Amy babysat Christopher. While they were best friends, that didn’t stop the competition to be bigger. They kids were born just one day apart, with Christopher being the oldest, so many things were done at the same time or pretty close. These little competitions didn’t cause too many fights for the most part, but once in a while they did. Mostly this was if they both wanted to do the same things, which happened more when they were little. I remember once when the fought over who should sit in Shai’s car seat that had been brought into the house. It looked like Christopher got in first, and Shai didn’t like it, but then we will probably never know, since we didn’t know there was a problem until the screaming started.

They also competed over walking, running, and climbing, each wanting to be the best at it. The good news there, is that they didn’t usually need the exact same space. Side by side worked well when doing that. Mostly they were working to see who could complete the task first, and that first place position went back and forth. Still, the competitions didn’t damage their friendship, which is still very much in tact today. I guess it’s a good thing that those kids don’t carry a grudge over childhood tiffs.

The years have flown by so fast, and the kids are so close to being grown up that I can hardly believe it. The days of competing for top spot are long gone. Their interests are so different from each other that there is no longer a need. I am so proud of the teenagers they have become. They are hard working, and they pay their own normal teenaged bills, like gas, insurance, and car stuff. I can’t believe how fast they have grown up, but I really like the people they have become. I can count on them to help with whatever I might need, and they are great about transporting their siblings around. But the best thing about these kids is that they don’t mind hugging their grandma, even in public, and that means the most to me!! Many teenagers just don’t want to even be seen hugging their grandparents, but these guys are very cool and they show their love for me everyday. I am so blessed!!

When I was a kid, one of the fun things to do was the stare down. Two people stare at each other until one blinks. The one who stares the longest without blinking is the winner. There was never any real purpose for this little game except to outlast your opponent, and that seemed to be the thing to do. And the funny thing was that it wasn’t just little kids that did it. Teenagers did it too. Maybe it was a silly kids game, and maybe it was a way to test ourselves…to see how long we might be able to endure. I don’t know for sure, but it was the contest of choice when we were goofing around…especially when we had cousins in town.

Of course, some of us were better at it than others. I would love to say that I was one of the best, but I think I probably fell somewhere in the middle. As I recall, Alena and Allyn were pretty good at it, and my cousin Terry was good too. Whenever he was in town, you could bet that there would be a few competitions that included the stare down that would end up in the mix of events.

It’s funny how quite often it is that you and your cousins are the most competitive. Sometimes it goes to the point of not getting along at all, but that was never the case with our family. The stare down and other competitions were always done in good clean fun, and were very much enjoyed by all of us. We left the fighting to other things…things that were more important, like who was a tattletale, or who hit who. Thankfully none of that happened so very much.

We always enjoyed the times when our cousins would come to visit, which became less and less as we all got older, and started working or got married. Those were some of the greatest times, and I miss them very much. Sometimes I wish things didn’t have to change so much…because in the stare down of life, time is always the winner.

Sometimes in life, an opportunity presents itself, and if you work hard…harder that you ever thought possible, something totally awesome can come your way. That is exactly what happened to the Casper, Wyoming, Kelly Walsh High School Cheerleaders this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Kelly Walsh Cheerleaders, of which my niece Siara Harman is a member, have been in other competitions, but this one is special…it is The American Grand. It’s the big one…Nationals!!!

The Kelly Walsh Cheerleaders had already won the State Championships this year, so we all knew that they were special, but Nationals is where you separate the best from the rest!! Nerves are raw, the tension is high, your stomach is doing as many flips as the cheer squad, and yet…you know that you have to do your part…you have to pull your weight…you have to stick every landing, and make every move perfect, because only the best will do in this competition. And you are competing against the best squads in the United States.

Our family has been very proud of Siara’s participation in cheerleading. She has a great personality and sense of style, along with a smile that could light up a cloudy day. She has worked hard, and earned her place in this squad each year. Cheerleading is a part of her now. Siara is a senior this year, and knowing that her high school cheerleading days are almost over, has made her sad at times. Still, there is no better way to end your high school cheerleading career that to go out as both a State Champion and a National Champion!! It doesn’t get better than that!

National Champions…it is a title that has rolled around in the minds of these girls ever since they won the state competition and found out that they were heading to Las Vegas right before Christmas. Could they pull it off? Would their hard work be enough to win this competition? Only time would tell. So, they worked hard and prepared…practicing their routines over and over. Then, less than a week before they were to leave for Vegas, one of the members had to have surgery, and everything changed…from the routines, to the hearts of the girls, who were heartsick for their teammate. Again, the girls stepped up and worked hard to re-vamp their routines.

These girls not only proved that they had the ability to work hard…they proved that they are champions!! Against all odds and adversity, they stuck it out, put big smiles on their faces, and wowwed the judges, to take first place in the Varsity Non-Stunt Division. They are and forever will be National Champions!! I am very proud of my niece, Siara and the Kelly Walsh Cheerleaders!! Congratulations to you all!!

When my grandchildren, Christopher, Shai, and Caalab were little, my daughter Amy stayed home with her kids and babysat Christopher for her sister. It was such a blessing, because Corrie and I would come over at lunchtime and have lunch with them. Corrie was able to spend precious time with Christopher, and I was able to spend precious time with my kids and grandkids…at least the ones we had then. Joshua would join our family later on.

Amy’s house was a lively place those days. The kids kept her running and there was never a dull moment. I’m sure she was exhausted many times, but I hope she knows what a blessing she was to Corrie, Kevin, and me. The knowledge that the children were happy and well cared for, as well as loved, brings a peace of mind that cannot be matched. And most daycares do not allow parents to stop by for lunch, as it disrupts their day, and the children can get cranky when the parent leaves, but, while he hated to see his mommy go, Christopher was fine, because he was with his Aunty Amy, and his cousins.

Don’t get me wrong, there were the normal fights and competitions during the day, but because of the close surroundings, a close friendship grew. Since Christopher was 1 day older than Shai, they had spent all their lives together, and would do so until they started grade school. First, in Amy’s care until she needed to work full time. Then in their next sitter, Dani’s care, and finally the pre-school/daycare they would go to before grade school began. Theirs would be a friendship to last a lifetime. And when Caalab came along, they would work very hard to be big helpers to Amy, even though they were only 17 months older than he was.

The kids got personalized care from Amy, because she had just the two, then three. She would not babysit Joshua, because she went to work before he arrived. I feel a little sad for him, because he did not have that special time with his Aunty Amy like Christopher did. She taught the kids things, played games, trained them in walking, pottying, and talking, although she might regret that part sometimes. Amy played a big part in those kids early lives, and I was always glad.

The days the kids spent together with Amy were filled with giggles and laughs, and a few tears, but she would kiss the boo boos and stop the fights, and get things back into fun mode very quickly. Whenever I was there, I could tell that the kids were so happy and blessed. I wish I could tell you about everything they did during those days, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see that part of the day like Amy did. I just know that the babies grew into happy children, and we knew that they spent every day in the company of friends.

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