My grandnephew, Keifer Balcerzak is a true sports fanatic. He will play just about any sport out there. In the summertime, it’s time for softball or baseball. I didn’t always realize that there was a difference, but it is the hardness of the ball…obviously, but there are rule differences too. Anyway, that aside, I’m pretty sure Keifer has played both. Now that he is a grown man, he has been on teams with his dad, Dave Balcerzak, and now his brother-in-law, Dylan Herr. They have a great time, and they often win in the tournaments they play in. They also play in charity and fundraiser games as well, because these guys are known for their desire to “give back” to help those in need. The proceeds always go to a family or person in need. This year was to help the family of a young 28-year-old dad, tragically killed in a car accident, leaving behind a wife and two young children. These charity events are vital.
Keifer is a great dad to daughter, Reece and son, Aysa. Reece made her entrance very early and had to spend time in Denver. It was a hard time for Keifer and his wife, Katie, so he knows what it means to have the support of those around you with caring hearts. Reece is already into sports, like her daddy, and I’m quite sure Aysa will be too, when he is old enough. Katie is very supportive of all the sporting activities, and so they are a happy sports family. Recently, Keifer and Katie took the kids to the fair and they had the best time. There is nothing more exciting for a kid than the carnival rides, even if it is the kiddie rides, or even the swings at the park.
Keifer, like his dad, is a computer programmer working for the State of Wyoming, but they don’t work in the same division, so they don’t get to work together. A lot of the work they do, in cyber security, which we all know is a seriously important job these days. Working for the state is a great job to have, with great benefits for a family man. Just having a family without having insurance can be a big financial burden, so it’s important to have those benefits. Keiffer is good at his job, and the state is very happy with him. I foresee a long and prosperous career there…plus, he likes his work and that makes a big difference. Keifer is a very blessed man. He has it all. A beautiful wife, and great kids, a career he loves, and buddies to play sports with. It doesn’t get any better than that. Today is Keifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Keifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grand nephew, Lucas Iverson is a sweet boy who is eager to learn new things. Lucas has Down Syndrome, but that has not slowed him down. Lucas is attending summer school, which will help his to stay on track with his studies. He is going to be in second grade next year and is doing very well in school. Because of Lucas learning disabilities, the school is working with innovative new ways of teaching him, and he is doing very well. They are using a picture communication book to teach him. Lucas uses Velcro stickers to ask for what he wants or to answer questions. The idea is that if Lucas needs to go to the restroom, there is a picture of a toilet. If he is thirsty, there is a picture of a glass of water. There are pictures of food, a bed, a car, a park…you get the picture. The best part is that it’s working for Lucas, and he is excelling at it.
One of the things that is helpful to Lucas is to have a schedule that is followed religiously. Everyday schedule changes are difficult for him to deal with, so keeping him on a strict schedule helps him to stay on task. His learning works best in an environment of stability and organization, and since he is doing so well in school, his parents, Cassie and Chris Iverson don’t want anything to get in the way of that. Lucas has been an inspiration to them…and to many of the rest of us in the family too.
Of course, no kid wants to do nothing but study all summer, and Lucas is no exception. So, the family has been doing lots of fishing this summer. And they are planning to go to the fair to celebrate Lucas’ birthday. They have been doing lots of gardening too, and Lucas loves to play outside in his new backyard with his little sister, Zoey, and helping his mom with new photography ideas, like the lens ball. But one of the biggest things that is going on with Lucas is that he is growing like a weed. He weighs 40 pounds and he is 40 inches tall. While that isn’t average for an 8 year old boy, it is pretty good for Lucas, who has struggled with his digestive system, and has been through multiple surgeries. Lucas is a strong, brave boy, who pushes through every time, and always with a smile on his face. The very best news is that he is doing so well in his health right now, that he doesn’t have to go back to the doctors for 6 months. Now that is something to celebrate. Today is Lucas 8th birthday. Happy birthday Lucas!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Josh Griffith is a hard working man, who loves his family, and would do anything for them. He is constantly doing things to improve their home,and he is always able to fix the things that break. Their house is all electric, but they are planning to change it to a gas furnace this year. For now, the family needs 4 trailer loads of wood a year to heat the home without using the electric heat. Josh spend a lot of his free time chopping and splitting the wood so that the family can stay warm all winter. My niece and his wife, Susan helps too, but chopping wood is a tough job for most women, and so Josh does most of it by himself. Josh also spends a good deal of his time keeping the family from being snowed in. He plows snow almost constantly…and does it all without complaint…because he is the provider, and it’s for his family.
Josh has spent a lot of time teaching his girls to ride horses. Susan didn’t grow up around horses, and so she wasn’t too sure about riding horses.Josh worked with her, and before long, Susan has a good time with it. Their daughters, Jala and Kaytlyn have grown up around horses, and so they will be naturals at it. Josh and Jala go riding quite a bit and have even hunted together. Susan says that Josh is definitely the more hands on parent. I suppose that is because Susan has always had such a soft heart. She parents in a different way. Nevertheless, Josh taught Jala to drive more than Susan did because she said, “I was so scared.” It can be scary to teach a child to drive. It seems that usually one of the other parent has the right temperament for it, and the other doesn’t. Clearly, Josh will be the driving instructor for their girls.
Josh does work very hard, but work is not the only thing we do for our families. There is the all important quality time as a family too. This year, Josh and Susan took the girls to the Billings Fair, in Billings Montana. Living in a small town like Powell, the girls don’t usually have a chance to ride on some of the cool rides that they have in bigger cities. This year, the big deal was the Black Out. It is a totally crazy ride, that I would personally never ride. Susan said that all the rides at the Billings fair were so nice, and just seemed safer. Susan doesn’t have to worry about the girls being on the rides, because Josh always rides rides with the girls. Susan stands by holding everyone’s things…sounds like the place I would want to be too. Thankfully for Susan, Josh takes care of that for her…and she is so grateful for that and everything else Josh does for them. Today Is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My aunt, Dixie Richards is the 8th child of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer, and the middle of the younger three daughters. She is also a very giving person. She is always there whenever her help is needed. For many years she has taken care of her grandchildren, as well as the children of her siblings and their children. It has been a long run of children who can say that they got to spend quality time with Aunt Dixie. What a blessing that was for them, and how nice I was for their parents, who didn’t have to worry about who was watching their kids. They knew that their kids were entertained, loved, and cared for in the best possible way.
Aunt Dixie has lived in the country for as long as I can remember, but I suppose there might have been a time when she didn’t. She has always enjoyed the country life, complete with the farm animals that went with it. One of her farm animals came from my mom, Collene Spencer, who was given a baby chick that one of her grandkids had won at the fair. I could never figure out why they gave away live animals at the fair, because most people didn’t have their parents permission to bring these animals home, and often, the animals weren’t allowed in town. Nevertheless, my mom had big plans for her baby chic. She was going to raise it and have eggs. Little did she know that she had a rooster. Even when the chick started crowing, Mom denied the obvious, still hoping for eggs,but finally she had to face reality, and the chick, named Queenie, who should have been King, moved to aunt Dixie’s place. Mom never knew what happened to Queenie after that, but I think that deep down inside, she knew that Queenie had probably become chicken noodle soup or some other such thing, because he was older than most butchered chickens, and probably not suitable for a fryer. Nevertheless, Aunt Dixie would never have told her sister what happened to Queenie, because she was far too kind.
These days, Aunt Dixie is retired from babysitting, and her favorite thing to do is to spend time with her family. She and Uncle Jim love being close to their grandchildren, all of whom they are very proud. I’m sure they are looking forward to the day when they will have done great grandchildren too, because as every parent knows, grandchildren are the reward that comes from having children. I know that they will be wonderful at that too, just as they were with kids and grandkids they have now. Today is Aunt Dixie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!!we love you!!
On Saint Patrick’s Day, my cousin Michael McDaniels and his wife, Deena took his mom, my Aunt Bonnie McDaniels to a celebration in downtown Casper, Wyoming, as part of her birthday celebration. That reminded me about the many times that my husband, Bob Schulenberg and I would run into Aunt Bonnie and her husband, my Uncle Jack at the fair with their grandchildren. They took them every year and the kids had a great time. We would run into them, because we still went to the fair at that time. I always thought it was great that they took their grandkids every year, because lots of kids don’t get to go. Either their parents couldn’t afford it, or just figured the kids could wait until they were old enough to go on their own. Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Jack’s grandkids didn’t have to worry about that, because they got to go every year.
Aunt Bonnie also loved attending the various events of her grandchildren, and I’m sure she was that way with her kids too. I usually saw her at the track meets at Grant School, where both of our grandchildren went to elementary school. Of course, Uncle Jack had to work in those days, so he didn’t get the pleasure of coming to the track meets. Aunt Bonnie was always so excited about the events, and spent the day cheering her grandson, Anthony McDaniels on to, hopefully, victory. For Aunt Bonnie, her family was everything. She wanted nothing more than to spend time surrounded by them. They were the product of the great love she had for Uncle Jack, and in them, her life was complete.
Aunt Bonnie has blessed many people in her lifetime. Her cakes have graced many a wedding, but it was her smile and her cheerful way that were the real blessing. Every time Bob and I ran into her, oddly most often while grocery shopping at Walmart, she and Uncle Jack were always pleased to run into us, and we always had a nice conversation…even if it was a short conversation. We just always enjoyed running into them. Things are different for Aunt Bonnie now that Uncle Jack has gone to Heaven, but it pleases me to see her kids taking her out to do the fun stuff. It’s almost like going full circle. What she and Uncle Jack did for their kids, they are now doing for her. And what a special treat it must be for her. She got to go to something she wouldn’t have done on her own. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When a little girl turns ten, so many things are about to change. Somehow, just hitting those double digit years brings a new maturity that practically happens over night. My grand niece, Jaydn Mortensen, has always been an outdoors girl. She may be just ten years old, but she is not afraid of much. For a while now, she has liked to ride horses and snow ski. She has been a rough and tumble girl who doesn’t mind getting dirty once in a while, but as she heads into her preteen years, I have to wonder how much all that is going to change soon. It seems to be about ten years old, that girls start looking at the world a little differently. They start to think about the kind of girl they want to be…outdoorsy, a girly girl, a sports nut…you name it, the possibilities are endless.
At this point though, Jaydn is still very much in love with horses. In fact her grandma, my sister, Caryl Reed says she is a horse fanatic. She has become so good at her riding skills that she is going to be in an exhibit this coming week at the fair in Rawlins. That’s a pretty impressive thing for a young girl to get to do, and her family is very proud of her and her abilities. She is, of course, the apple of her grandpa, my brother-in-law, Mike Reed’s eye. Those girls just wrap their dads and grandpas around their little fingers right away. She is her daddy, Sean Mortensen’s best helper when it comes to fixing things around their place. And her mom, my niece, Amanda, couldn’t be more proud of her girl.
Jaydn also still loves going to the lake, and at the moment is very much into riding around on their 4 wheeler. I find myself quite impressed with the ability of these kids on 4 wheelers. Having never really ridden them much myself, I am amazed at how a kid who can’t even drive yet, can buzz around on those things like they have been driving for years. Like computers, I guess it’s what the kids grow up with. They don’t have the fears that an adult, stepping into that for the first time, might have. To them, it is almost second nature, and that is certainly how it is for Jaydn. As is her love of her dogs. Jaydn seems to love all animals, so maybe she will choose to be a veterinarian…you just never know.
I find myself looking back on the ten years since Jaydn’s birth, wondering where the time has gone. It seems like just yesterday that the little bundle that was Jaydn made her debut into our family. Then she proceeded to wiggle her way into our hearts with her precious little smile and her excited about life personality. When she found out that we were her family, she got so excited, like she had found some new gift to be opened. We don’t get to see her very much here in Casper, because she lives in Rawlins with her parents, but she holds a special place in our hearts, and I can’t wait to see where her life will take her, as she heads into these double digit years. Today is Jaydn’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Jaydn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My Uncle Jack went home to be with the Lord yesterday evening. He was a quiet man, with a heart of gold, who made a big impact on those who knew him. There was always such a tenderness about him. He didn’t have it in him to be unkind.
Through the years, I think many of the kids in the family can attest to what a fun guy he was. He loved the kids, especially his grandchildren and his great grandchildren. It seemed like every year when the fair would roll around, we would run into them at the fair with their grandchildren. It was fun time they spent with their grandkids. The kids also spent much time at their grandparent’s house through the years. Even their friends spent time at their house. It was the place to be.
Uncle Jack like to putter around his shop and the land he and Aunt Bonnie owned East of Casper, often taking walks up and down the lane to stay fit, and to spend time in the fresh air, just enjoying the beauty of nature. Uncle Jack was never a man who felt very comfortable all dressed up. That just wasn’t his style, and that’s ok with me. He was perfect just the way he was. He didn’t have to dress up to be special, that came from the inside…from his heart.
Uncle Jack married Aunt Bonnie on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1959, and never a day went by that he didn’t consider himself the luckiest man in the world to have the love of his life by his side. They were forever happy. He supported her in whatever she chose to do. When Aunt Bonnie took up cake decorating, later making the cakes for my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary, my 25th wedding anniversary, as well as both my girls’ wedding cakes, Uncle Jack became her main assistant. He was an expert at transporting and setting up those cakes, without one loss that I know of. He did it all in love. Love for the brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, grand nieces, and grand nephews, and countless other people, especially relatives who benefited from his labors.
I hate watching as the generation my Uncle Jack was a part of slipping away from us. With the passing of each one, we lose a little bit more. I makes me so sad. I love you Uncle Jack. I will miss you so much.