dog

My niece, Kelli Schulenberg has a list of things she likes that might make many people feel very tired, but Kelli is someone who is on the go a lot. In her own words, Kelli likes “Music, traveling, fitness, animals, and the outdoors. Fresh air, trees, blue skies, summer, and hiking.” Anyone who knows her, know that truer words were never spoken. Kelli likes to stay active, and doesn’t like to waste a moment of her free time. If there’s a concert nearby, Kelli and her husband, my nephew, Barry Schulenberg might jump in the pickup and head for wherever it is being held. They both really enjoy going to concerts.

If there isn’t a concert, Kelli and Barry might be found on Casper Mountain, cross country skiing in the winter, or hiking in the summer. Anyone who knows Kelli very well, knows that she prefers Summer over Winter…every time. And there are a lot of us who totally agree with her whole heartedly on that one. For Kelli, as for many of us, Winter brings with it, a little bit of…depression, for lack of a better word. It’s not that she is depressed, but that the weather is depressing. Because Kelli likes to hike, she feels sad when the winter months hit. For a hiker, cross country skiing really can’t compare to hiking. At least, that’s the way I feel about it.

Kelli loves animals, and her dog, Scout is her current “baby.” Scout can be a trial for Kelli, always wanting to be lazy, when she wants to be active. Nevertheless, he makes up for it with his goofy ways. There is a lot to be said for a dog making his masters laugh. Scout refuses to “adult,” as Kelli would say, so his goofiness is always inspiring laughter in his masters. Scout came to live with Kelli and Barry as a puppy, after their long time dog, Dakota passed away. Scout has lots of potential, but lets face it…right now Scout is no Dakota. I know that Kelli and Barry still miss Dakota very much.

Kelli and Barry have a place out east of Casper, Wyoming. It’s home, but Kelli would love to have a couple of donkeys on it. They are one of her favorite animals. Still, she loves most animals. She has a real heart for them. She loves their antics, their cuddles, and yes, even their naughtiness. I hope that someday Kelli gets her donkeys. I think that would be very cool. Today is Kelli’s birthday Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Riley Birky is a man who has a big heart. He truly cares about the people around him, and while he is not always able to do anything to fix the problems his friends might have, that certainly doesn’t keep him from having a deep desire to help if he can. Sometimes, I think that carrying around the…almost burden of having such a big heart can be hard on the guy who has said big heart. When they are unable to change the outcome they tend to carry the weight of it, as if it were their failure. It isn’t, of course, but it is how they tend to feel. Nevertheless, Riley has a good group of buddies, and they have good times together.

Riley has grown into a good man, who lives on his own now, and works to support himself. He is a responsible worker, who is well liked. He is working for a fencing company, as an installer. Riley has never been afraid of hard work, and has done a variety of heavy duty jobs in his lifetime. As an adult, he has proven himself to be capable and reliable. I think he will do well in whatever job he does or career he chooses.

Riley loves his mom, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg very much. She has been supportive of him all his life, and he has nothing but respect for her. Oh, they have their disagreements, but when it comes right down to it, his mom is his hero, as well as his biggest cheerleader. He knows that he can always count on her to be there for him…even if that means encouraging him do the right things. In reality, that is what most kids want to do anyway.

Riley has a dog that he loves very much. Nala is an American Bully Pitbull Terrier. Nala came to Riley as a puppy, but she is growing like a weed. She has a beautiful, soft brown coat that is very shiny. She loves Riley very much, and the feeling is mutual. Riley has always had a heart for dogs, and Nala is Riley’s baby girl. Their companionship makes both of them very happy. Today is Riley’s birthday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

One year ago today, a sweet little curly haired girl named Elliott Stevens was born to my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his wife, Kayla. Elliott is my sister, Alena Stevens and her husband, Mike’s first grandchild, as well a the first grandchild for Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley, so it was an exciting day. Time marches on, and as with all children, so much has changed in just one year. Elliott now has lots of curls as her hair has grown. Her little smile is sporting teeth these days, and she has learned to walk. That, of course, means that she is “exploring” her world, i.e. getting into things. Her personality is showing now, in so many ways…one of the biggest being her giggle. When she gets into things, and gets “caught” at it, she just laughs and laughs. Her parents ask her what she is doing, and her response is always the same…that infectious little giggle!! She already knows that her giggle can get her out of a sticky situation.

Elliott is a happy little girl, who loves her dog, Charlie. And the feeling in mutual, because her dog is very patient with her little baby ways. Kids aren’t always gentle with their furry friends, but Elliott’s dig doesn’t seem to mind, because Elliott is his baby too. In fact, sometimes he feels like he is in charge of the baby. It seems to be a dog thing. They love to cuddle the family babies…especially at nap time.

Elliott loves the water, and she’s not picky. The bathtub, the wading pool, or the beach. All of them are fun for Elliott. She got to go to California with her parents a few months ago, and if fact, she turned 8 months while she was there. Less than a year old, and she’s already been sunning herself on the beach. Of course, she doesn’t care if it’s a beach in California, she just liked the water and the sand. I think a lot of people would agree with her on that.

Elliott has been such a blessing to her family. She has three wonderful aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, so she is very blessed too. Life is great for Elliott and her family, and we are all very excited to see what the next year will bring for our giggly girl. Today is Elliott’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Barry Schulenberg has always been a hard worker. From the time he was a little boy, he worked hard to help his grandpa, Walt Schulenberg with anything he was working on. It didn’t matter what his grandpa was doing, Barry wanted to do it too. In fact, Barry once told his mom, Jennifer Parmely that he was going to quit school so he could help his grandpa. He was going to work on and drive trucks. The reality is that Barry did grow up to drive and work on trucks. His own vehicles are pickups, and he works on the trucks for the State of Wyoming. He hasn’t changed a bit since he was a little boy.

Barry has always been the kind of guy that you can count on.He helps his brothers and his uncles with projects they are working on. They have a great network of assistants, and that makes for a very good team of people. This year Barry has been helping his Uncle Ron Schulenberg in cutting and splitting the mountain of wood it takes to heat their home for the winter. Barry has also been working on insulating his garage. As a mechanic, Barry spends a lot of time in his garage, and staying warm while working is vital.

While Barry is hard working man, he is not all about work. He and his wife Kelli love to travel and they have gone on many trips. They like to attend concerts, and to go hiking. They also like snow shoeing and skiing. A favorite place to go camping is in the Big Horn Mountains, but they also enjoy a number of spots in Colorado. This pas summer, they took a vacation to Yellowstone National Park and several areas of Montana, took in a concert and had a great time relaxing.

A year ago, after losing their beloved Black Labrador, Dakota, Barry and Kelli decided to take the plunge and get another dog. They went to see what was available, and came up with a male Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog mix that they named Scout. When a dog is a puppy, you don’t always know how they will turn out, but Scout and Barry are best buddies. Scout loves Kelli too, but he likes hanging out with Barry a lot. They “work” together on whatever Barry is doing, because Scout is a little bit like his owner. He just wants to hangout and ride in trucks. He would probably work on them too…if he knew how. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Since becoming disabled, my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen has struggled to redefine himself. He can’t be on his feet for very long, and he can’t sit very long either. During the years since he was disabled, my daughter, Corrie Petersen, Kevin’s wife, has been pretty much single-handedly been taking care of him. Soon,it became apparent that Corrie needed a new carer. One that would be more fulfilling and one that would pay better. After much prayer, it was decided that Corrie would go back to school to become a nurse. They knew this was going to be a difficult road, that would become much harder when nursing school began. After 2 years of taking her prerequisites, Corrie started nursing school two weeks ago.

Since August 20th, Kevin has reversed the roles. Now, while here are times Kevin need’s Corrie to be his caregiver, these days he is taking care of her. While Kevin must take frequent rest periods, he is cleaning the house, washing the laundry, and cooking the meals while Corrie is in school, at work, or studying. Each week of this stage of Corrie’s studies requires more work for her, and it isn’t going to get any easier until she graduates. Kevin wants to do his part. In many ways nursing school might have actually been harder for Corrie is Kevin was working, although I suppose he would be stronger too, if he wasn’t disabled. Needless to say, this process hasn’t been easy for Kevin either, and I am very proud of how he has stepped up to make this journey easier on Corrie.

When Kevin has some free time, he has been working on the Cyclone car his dad, Dean Petersen gave him a while back. He has also decided to try his hand at painting and drawing with different kinds of paint. Kevin has been dealing with tremors in his hands these days, so I’m sure painting and drawing is quite a challenge. During the times when Kevin has to lay down for a while, he has a companion who is very excited about those naps…their dog, Dottie. Dottie is a Scottish Terrier, and she totally loves Kevin. When Kevin needs to lay down, he tells Dottie they are going to take a nap. Dottie gets very excited. She is like a kid, except that she likes naps. She runs to the bedroom door and waits for Kevin to come. Then, Dottie settles herself on Corrie’s pillow. It has become Dottie’s place when Corrie isn’t there. She loves napping with Kevin. When Dottie is outside, and Kevin has his shoes on, she won’t come in the house, because she thinks it’s time to go somewhere, and she doesn’t want to be left at home. She loves Kevin so much and she wants to be with him all the time. She is content to do what Kevin can do, and rest when he needs to, so it’s good for both of them. She is a great companion. Today is Kevin’s birthday. Happy birthday Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

This year has been a little difficult for my nephew, Barry Schulenberg and his wife, Kelli. Their long-time companion, Dakota, a Black Labrador Retriever dog passed away a few months ago, and they were feeling very sad. Anytime you lose a pet, there is period of time that must pass before you feel ready to have another pet. It’s different for everyone. Dakota went everywhere with Barry and Kelli. He was their hiking and camping companion….always happy to be right there beside them. Dakota was always waiting at the door to greet them when they got home from work. Dakota was like their child, and he had been with them all of their married life. It’s hard to imagine life without your pet, because the reality is that your pet is a part of the family…a big part of your family.

After that kind of loss, there is always a grieving period, before you can possibly move on and find another dog to adopt into the family. Barry and Kelli took their time. healing at their own pace. They did the normal things they like to do…camping, hiking, target practice, and just spending quiet nights at home. Soon though, it became clear to them, that something was missing. It was time to fill the void left behind with Dakota’s passing. That is a big step for any pet owner. It’s hard to open your heart to another pet, after losing one that was such a big part of your life for so many years. So, after some soul searching, Barry and Kelli decided to take to plunge, and adopt again.

They went to see what was available, and came up with a male Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog mix. For a while, their new “baby” didn’t have a name. They wanted to see what name might fit him. Before long, the puppy became a Scout. He always seemed to be at the alert, as if scouting his next move. Barry and Scout became inseparable. Scout loves to hang out with Barry, hoping to receive the scratching and petting that all dogs crave. Scout even loves riding around on the 4-wheeler with Barry. They say that a dog is man’s best friend, and Scout is definitely Barry’s best friend…with the exception of Kelli, of course. I know that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship for Barry, Kelli, and Scout, and I think Dakota would be happy too. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Tucker Birky is a funny guy. Being funny comes naturally to Tucker, so much so, that often he doesn’t even realize that he’s being funny. Making people laugh is just a skill that Tucker seems to have been born with. He loves his mom, Rachel Schulenberg, and his step-dad, Ron, and considers him to be is dad. Tucker loves to make his mom laugh every day. He always wants to leave her with a smile on her face, and in her heart. Tucker reminds me a little bit of my daughter, Amy, who used to stick a Chiquita banana sticker on her nose to make us laugh. Tucker has taken that one step further, making funny faces, and even putting a chip clip on his eyebrow. Now I don’t know if that hurt or not, but Tucker smiled right through it.

Tucker also has a kind side. Every morning, he tells his mom what a great mom she is. It is such a precious thing to get up in the morning and have your child tell you that they couldn’t ask for a better mom. Tucker knows that his mom misses his older brother, Riley, who is in Guernsey, Wyoming right now, and he misses him too, so it’s important to help lift his mom’s spirit, and Tucker senses that instinctively. Of course, that isn’t the only reason he tells her that she is a great mom. The main reason is simply because she is. Tucker also knows that his mom misses his older sister, Cassie; her husband, Chris; and their children, Lucas and Zoey, who live in Powell, Wyoming. That said, Tucker is the only kid who is with her right now, and his kind heart is just what Rachel needs to make her smile.

Tucker is a busy guy. He is a straight “A” student. He takes piano lessons, and is getting quite good at playing and has recently memorized his next piano piece. Nevertheless, school isn’t all Tucker likes to do. He loves to ride his bicycle and motorcycles on their property in the country. He loves his animals, and snuggling up with his dog to watch television. Tucker misses his brother, and an uncle who doesn’t live here. Tucker also loves to hang out in his dad’s shop, and help him work on things. He and Tucker are very close, and they work well together. Ron is teaching Tucker the ropes of mechanic work, which is an important thing for every young man to know. In the years since Ron and Rachel have been married, I have watched Tucker grow into an amazing young man. Today is Tucker’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Welcome to double digits!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Whether we like it or not, all little boys, and girls too, grow up way too fast. My nephew, Riley Birky is no exception. As a little boy, Riley loved to give hugs…especially to his mama. My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg tells me that he is still the best hugger she knows. You know the kind…they squeeze you tightly and their love for you just flows out of them and into your heart. Funny thing about those good huggers is that they never seem to get tired of hugging those they love…not even during the awkward teenaged years, when many kids are embarrassed by their parents, because they just aren’t cool. It isn’t that their parents aren’t cool…at home. It’s just that when they are with their friends…well, parents can say stuff that is just not cool…like I love you, or something. Of course, you want them to love you, just please don’t say it in front of the guys. Nevertheless, Riley was a boy who loved his mama, and he didn’t mind letting her know it.

Younger siblings can be a different kind of problem They always want to hang around, and they can be so nerdy. A cool guy can’t have his kid brother hanging around…or can he. Riley loves playing with his little brother, Tucker. He doesn’t seem to mind if Tucker is acting goofy, because…well, that’s just Tucker, and that’s ok. Riley feels very blessed to have a little brother, and they spend time together as much as possible. As a little boy, there were four things Riley loved, his mama, his little brother, his big sister, Cassie, and his bear, Fluffy. Family, you never outgrow, but toys are a different thing. Still, some toys are extra special, and you tend to keep them for life. Fluffy was just such a toy. He was like a best friend, who never left your side. While Riley doesn’t still play with Fluffy, he does still have Fluffy and probably always will. Who knows, maybe someday Fluffy can be handed down to Riley’s own child.

Riley loves playing football, and really everything about football, which is very common for boys. Sports becomes their way of life pretty early on in life. With the schools offering the opportunity and all their friends playing, it is just the natural thing for kids to do. Riley doesn’t really care about the other sports much, and other than football, would rather ride his bicycle. Like most boys, I’m sure he can do a number of tricks on his bicycle…and if not, I’ll bet that at the very least, he can pop wheelies, because I think every boy tries that one. And last, but certainly not least…there is Lilly. Lilly is the family dog, and she absolutely loves Riley, and he absolutely loves her too. Whenever Riley is at home, Lilly is by his side. Riley has such a loving, gentle way with Lilly. Dogs can just tell when they are loved, and when they are loved, they love back, with their whole being. Lilly would do anything to protect Riley, and Riley would do the same. This dog truly is this man’s best friend. Today is Riley’s 17th birthday. The little boy is gone, and in his place stands a young man with a very bright future ahead of him. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

A baby’s first year is always so exciting for the parents, especially if the baby is their first child. My grand niece, Adelaide Ione Sawdon is turning one today. She is a sweet little baby girl, who was named after two of her great grandmothers…one being my mom, Collene Ione Spencer. Addi is filled with happiness and a few little antics that make everyone around her smile. She keeps her parents, Jessi and Jason Sawdon quite busy…and I don’t think she is even walking one her own yet. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that she can’t get into things.

Adelaide has learned to throw kisses, and it is the cutest thing. She throws them backward…kissing the back of her hand before she throws it to you. She loves working her way into her bath seat, even if it is comical sometimes. She also loves making funny faces with her Aunt Kellie Hadlock; playing the guitar with her grandpa, Chris Hadlock; going to the office with her grandma, Allyn Hadlock; hanging out with her cousins, Ethan and Aurora Hadlock; or going shopping with her great aunts Robin Nelson and Jen Christman. She has even spent some time learning to drive with her daddy…but don’t tell anyone, because after all, she is a bit young, and he is a highway patrolman, so he shouldn’t let her drive just yet.

I only wish I had anywhere near the energy that Addi has, because I think she could out do any ten people. Addi loves her dog, Daisy, and Daisy loves her too. In fact, when Addi came home from the hospital, Daisy loved her immediately. Now they play together and they are the best of friends. Yes, Addi has had a very interesting and exciting year, and so has the rest of her family. She is so much fun to watch, and her parents make sure that we get to see lots of pictures of her activities. Today is Adelaide’s first birthday. Happy birthday Adelaide!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

img_5632img_5633My niece, Kelli Schulenberg, who is married to my nephew Barry Schulenberg, reminds me in some ways of my dad’s family. She has a bit of a call to the open road sometimes…ok, most of the time. Kelli and Barry often travel to go to concerts, because they love country music. My husband, Bob and I used to travel to national bowling tournaments and then take a week to make a vacation out of it, so I can relate to that kind of traveling. It’s a great way to see the country, and I think that is what Kelli and Barry had in mind. In fact, it’s possible that if it weren’t for Kelli, Barry might not have traveled as much as he has, but I could be wrong about that. Maybe it’s Barry’s idea, or maybe both. Either way traveling to various concerts has allowed them to see a number of great places. Kelli has an eye for photography too, and her pictures of their travels allow her friends and family to follow along on their journeys.

Kelli and Barry are avid hikers, and they love the outdoors in general. If it’s summer they hike, and in winter they snowshoe and cross country ski. They are often joined by their moms and other family members. In fact, hiking is something many of us in the family love to do, so sometimes, we are quite a crowd, but there is nothing wrong with that. Nevertheless, Kelli doesn’t mind the occasional solo hike either. And now that cell phones take such great selfies, we all get to go along on those solo hikes too. Hmmmm…is it still a solo hike if we all go along? Of course, my guess is that they may not be solo hikes anyway, since I expect that Kelli and Barry’s dog, Dakota gets to go along on some, if not all of those solo hikes.

Probably the one thing that Kelli has always wanted, but doesn’t have yet, would be her beloved donkeys. Kelli img_5635img_5634loves them, and really wants to raise them. I can see that, because the donkeys are a highlight of our trips to the Black Hills. Maybe that dream will come true for Kelli. I hope so. I think donkeys are so sweet, and it would be fun to have some in the family. The rest of us might just have to make an occasional trip all the way out to Kelli and Barry’s just to pet the donkeys. Or maybe she would hope we wouldn’t. That could be a lot of people, after all. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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