family man

My nephew, Riley Birky has changed so much over the years that he has been a part of our family. Riley is the middle child and eldest son of my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg, who sadly passed away in 2021. Riley has grown and changed in the years that I have known him, but I can say that Riley is a soft-hearted man, who is a gentle and loving partner, dad, and brother. His family is so blessed to have him in their lives. Riley and his fiancée, Sierah Martin make their home in Byron, Wyoming. It is a small town, but that’s the way they like it. Riley grew up in Powell, Wyoming, so small town seem to really suit him best, and a small town is the place he wants to raise his family. It provides them with everything they love to do, like fishing and hiking.

The greatest blessing in Riley’s life has been his sweet partner, Sierah Martin, and the birth of his son, Ryder Birky, who was born on July 26, 2022. That was an epic day in Riley’s life. He has a heart of gold, and it is big enough to allow for not only his fiancée and their son, but also his bonus son, Jace Swan, to whom Riley is a wonderful dad. Riley has also stepped up where his little brother, Tucker Schulenberg is concerned. Riley has extended his dad skills into being there for Tucker when he needs him most. Losing their mother, at such a young age was so hard on the boys and their sister Cassie, and Riley raising his brother is an amazing show of love for him, and for their mom. Riley has a heart of gold, and it is as big as Texas. He has been through a lot is his relatively young life, and he is using his life experience to be a great blessing to his family.

Riley loves being a family man. The house they live in, in Byron is filled with love, laughter, and lots of voices. Having three children in the house, even if one is almost grown, makes for a lot of noise. Nevertheless, Riley and Sierah are awesome parents of boys. They understand them, and most of the time, they don’t even mind the noise that comes with three boys. Riley loves being in the outdoors, and all outdoor sports, especially fishing, and he loves teaching the boys about whatever he is doing. He has a lot of patience with their questions, and their childlike clumsiness. No child is a born expert, after all. It takes nurturing and patience on the part of their teacher and mentor, and Riley is a great mentor. He wants to teach the boys about whatever he is doing and make their lives rich in knowledge and love. He is a great dad, and a wonderful blessing to the boys and to Sierah!! Today is Riley’s birthday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Jake Harman has gone through some life changing events over the past few years. He got married to a wonderful girl named Melanie, and gained a sweet daughter, named Alice Green, who was Melanie’s daughter from a previous relationship. Then, they had another sweet daughter, named Izabella Siara. What more could a man ask for…right? Well, in Jake’s case, it would be the son who will be joining the family soon. I don’t think they thought they would get a boy, but they are very excited that they are. For Jake, it’s like a dream. He has wanted to have a family for quite some time now, and suddenly, he finds himself living right in the middle of the very dream he had in mind. It is such a cool thing, to watch your dreams come true.

Jake’s daughters think he pretty much hung the moon, and their eyes light up when he is home. I love the pictures of him with the girls, because you can just see the joy and happiness in their faces. And, I can picture how things will be in the future. Jake and his son outside playing catch, or some other sport, and the girls will be the cheerleaders. There is a contentment that will dwell over their house…until the teenage years hit anyway. I have to wonder if Jake will be the kind of dad, who is sure that no guy is good enough for his girls, and remember that these are beautiful girls, so there will be no shortage of guys wanting to take them out for the evening. But, I suppose that is a story for another day. For now, Jake gets to enjoy the childhood years and just how perfect his life is at this moment.

It hard for me to believe that Jake is not only grown up, but a family man, but it isn’t hard at all to see why he picked Melanie to be his bride, however. She is so sweet, and they just compliment each other perfectly. She really is his soul mate, and the love of his life. I love to watch them together, because they are so cute. Jake, like most men, will probably never grow up, but Melanie loves him just the way he is, so that’s ok. Their dream life is moving full steam ahead, and I am so happy for them. Life is good, and we can’t wait to meet their little boy!! Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Dad SchulenbergTime flies by so fast sometimes, and suddenly we find ourselves a year out from an event that shook our world…the death of a loved one. It was one year ago today that my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg passed away. He was a quiet, gentle man who loved his family more than anything else in the world. He hated the years when his job took him away from the family, because watching his children grow up was so important to him. From the time they were dating, he talked about when they would start having children. He knew that he wanted a little girl, just like his soon to be sister-in-law, Margee, who was just six months old when they got married. Of course, he wanted sons too, but he was smitten with those girls, and while his boys were his helpers, and he was very proud of both of them; his little girls were always his little princesses. That seems to be the way life is for daddies of daughters, and he was no exception to that rule.

I never met someone who was more excited to be a grandfather. When I was pregnant with Corrie, his first grandchild, he seemed to have been transferred back all those years to when his children were little. He often asked me how I was doing. He wanted to be sure I was comfortable…because I was carrying his first little grandbaby. He made it such an honor, both times I was pregnant. His children and grandchildren were so important in his life. In fact they Mom & Dad Schulenberg_editedwere the most important things in his life…with one exception…the love of his life, my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg.

From the time they started dating, he knew that there was no other girl for him. I have had the opportunity to read some of the letters they wrote back and forth while they were dating, and he was working in another town. He wanted nothing more than to marry her and take care of her for the rest of his life…and that was exactly what he did. All those years that they were together, he made sure she had what she needed. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, he gave up much of what he would like to have done, so he could take care of her. She was his world, and to him, giving up a few little things to make sure she was going to be alright, was only natural. As the years flew by, he devoted more and more time to taking care of her, and did more than he should have in those later years…I couldn’t get him to stop overdoing it. To him, it was so important that she was always going to be ok.

The hardest thing I think he ever had to do was when we had to put her in the nursing home. It had become obvious that we couldn’t keep her safe at home, and there was no other option. He really took that hard. He was so lonely. We did our best to take him to see her, but that was hard on him too. Then he went through a series of hospital stays in a short period of time, and they left him very weak. The hospital suggested that he go into a nursing home, and he was very much against it…at first. Then I talked to the nursing home my mother-in-law was in, and they said they could take him too and they could share a room. It was a perfect plan. He could see her, stay with her, and make sure she was alright, all while he was taken care of too. It seemed the perfect plan, and in a way, I guess it was…except for the fact that he just 84couldn’t bounce back from those bouts in the hospital, and would return 3 more times before it was over. The thing that was good for him was the fact that, not only could he be near the love of his life, but before he left us, he was able to see that she would be alright. He could see that the staff took good care of her. That last year was a really hard one for my father-in-law. He was getting tired of fighting COPD. It was a fight for every breath, and he knew he was losing that fight. Still, he could not go, without knowing that those he loved…especially the love of his life, were going to be ok. Dad left us a year ago today, and while we know that he isn’t suffering anymore, we still miss him very much. We love you Dad.

Bob and his dad have always had a close relationship. As the first son, and the only boy for 14 years, Bob and his dad had quite a bit of time for father/son bonding. They did a lot of things together. My father-in-law was a mechanic by trade before he retired, and he handed down many valuable skills to Bob. But while there was always work to be done around the place they lived, my father-in-law still made time for having a little fun with his kids.

For a number of years, my father in law worked at jobs that caused him to be out of town a lot, so the times he was in town were precious to him. He wanted to connect with his kids…all of them. He is first and foremost a family man, and they are his number one priority. That is a quality he instilled in my husband, his son, Bob.

Those were times when meals were eaten around the table at night, and everyone talked about the events of the day. The kids were home for dinner most nights, and life really was a little bit like the old television shows, except with his job, my father-in-law had to miss many of those nights. It was something that tore him up inside, especially when his kids were little and didn’t know who he was when he came home. He couldn’t do that, so he quite the jobs that put him out of town, and worked nearer to home. He and his family never regretted that decision.

Bob and his dad still have a very close relationship…one to be cherished. At 82 years old, his dad is not as strong as he once was, but he is still very much a sweet, loving man. The relationship I see between them today warms my heart. My father-in-law has always had a wonderful sense of humor. Through our 36 years of marriage, I have been able to enjoy the many moments filled with laughter in my in-laws home…and they are moments I will treasure forever.

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