When someone is being bullied or even just ignored, they can get depressed, or they can do whatever it takes to better their situation. Sometimes that means switching schools, because the one you were at won’t help the situation, and sometimes it means standing up for yourself, but sometimes it means both. That is the situation my grandniece, Aleesia Spethman found herself in for the past two years at her school, and it turns out it was the boys doing the bullying. One even threw a metal water bottle in her face, chipping her tooth. The school refused to do anything about it. So, her parents, Jenny and Steve Spethman switched her from one school to another mid-year, and it has been the best thing for Aleesia. She is away from the problem kids, and she has become tougher, so she doesn’t let that happen to her again. Things like this really make me mad, because Aleesia is a sweet young lady, and she shouldn’t have to put up with such nonsense. The school should have protected her. It is completely unacceptable that they stood by and did nothing!!
With Aleesia’s move to a different school, came a whole new group of friends. This part of the transition was really important, because it added to her confidence. Aleesia decided to cut her hair and get a new look too, and it really does make her look grown up. She said the “new do” makes her feel older too, and more herself. This year will bring yet another school change, because Aleesia will be starting middle school. Aleesia has always been pretty mature for her age and really doesn’t like drama, which is another sign of maturity. Only the immature kids have to stir up drama as an attention getter. It’s ridiculous. Aleesia is learning to play the electric guitar, and she really enjoys it. She comes from a long line of guitar players, so it isn’t surprising to me. She will be a great guitarist.
For Aleesia, the first day of summer means hitting the pool with her mom and a friend or two. Aleesia loves to swim and is quite “at home” in the pool. They go to the Rec Center pool a lot, probably because of the slide and such. While she is quite social, Aleesia is also a “home body” and doesn’t like to be away from home a lot. She doesn’t spend the night at other people’s houses, with the exception of her grandmother, Cheryl Masterson. She does, however, like to have friends stay the night with her, and so she regularly has “slumber parties” with multiple friends staying at her house. The next year really is looking up, and she is very excited about it. Yep, life’s changing, and it’s for the better. Today is Aleesia’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandnephew, Jake Harman is quite likely one of the happiest people I know. He spreads happiness to everyone around him. Jake works for the City of Casper, as a bus driver for the Link public transportation system, and all his riders absolutely love him, and he loves them too. He’s got nicknames for a lot of them as well, because that is what Jake does. He loves people and often “adopts” them as a part of his “family.” No, he doesn’t take them home with him, but Jake really has never met a stranger. He is a people person and makes friends very easily. His upbeat personality puts a smile on everyone’s face. I know this to be a fact, because whenever I am around him, I can’t help but smile. He always makes me feel like I am his favorite person. I think that is how he makes everyone feel, even though, I like to think I’m his favorite great aunt. Doesn’t every aunt want that?
Jake is one of those guys who will always be young at heart…or as his wife, Melanie says a “big child” at heart. In reality, he probably is a big kid. Like many men, I don’t think he will ever really grow up, and maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Growing up…or growing old, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and I think those guys who stay a big kid have the most fun in life. Jake is dad to Alice (his bonus daughter), Izabella, and Jaxx. They have benefitted greatly from Jake’s “young at heart” ways, because he still gets down on the floor and plays with the kids all the time. They love to tackle him…when they can get the better of him. It’s just as fun when he wins too, because the whole goal is to have a big wrestling match with their daddy…and Jake never minds the noise.
Melanie tells he that he is “an amazing dad and husband. Don’t know what we would ever do without him in our lives! God put him and me together and I am so grateful for it every day! We have our scuffles, but we are perfect for each other.” Every marriage has its “scuffles.” It’s the rest of the marriage that really matters. She tells me that “his smile is for sure my weakness, lol!” I think anyone who knows Jake can say pretty much the same thing. Jake’s smile is his greatest asset, without a doubt. It shows how joyful he is. His smile always leaves you smiling too. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandniece, Aurora Hadlock is growing us so fast. It seems impossible that she could be going into middle school this year, but she is very excited about that. Aurora is a social girl, and she is really looking forward to the changing of classes, and the very real possibility of making lots of new friends. Middle school is such an exciting step for kids. They begin to take responsibility for getting themselves from class to class, and moving from teacher to teacher, and having different friends in each class. The newfound variety is new and lots of fun. It makes the student feel very grown up…and after all, they are getting very grown up.
While middle school is so much more grown up, there are still things that make school fun for the students. Aurora is signing up for Lego Robotics again this year. I am always amazed with the things the kids make with the Legos. We had Legos when I was a kid, but the things we made were pretty elementary. These days the Legos move like robots. They open up and show you how they are made. They just aren’t your grandma’s Legos. These Legos have been transformed by these kids to the next level…and Aurora is very good at Lego Robotics!!
Aurora is also joining the book club. She loves to read, and this girl loves books. I can understand that too, because reading takes you to places you could never go otherwise. If you have a good imagination, and I believe she does, books can change the way you think and the way you see things. They open up the world to you, if you take the time to read the pages. I think Aurora is much like her mom there too, in fact she is her mini-me.
This summer, Aurora and her family got to go to Florida with her Grandma and Grandpa Hadlock (my sister, Allyn and her husband Chris), and the whole family. They rented a beautiful house down there, and everyone had a wonderful time. They got to swim and play on the beach, and they even got to take a little harbor cruise. Everyone had such a wonderful time, and it was such a memorable trip and such a blessing. It was a wonderful way to round out the summer, and I’m so glad that they got to go. Now Aurora is all ready to head back to school. She has had a great summer and now she is ready to head back to school. I know that she is going to have a wonderful first year of middle school, and I am very excited for her. Today is Aurora’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandniece, Raelynn Masterson is very smart, but she, like so many other people, is also timid and shy. Once she gets to know people, she does great, but it takes a little while to get comfortable with people. In the past, she wasn’t aways confident in her abilities, or in herself, but she is working on that. For one thing, Raelynn was never really good at cooking, but these days she is not only spending time in the kitchen with her mom, Dustie Masterson, learning to cook, but she is learning about nutrition, and how to better take care of her own body and health, which of course includes exercise and fresh air too.
Raelynn has also been stepping outside of her comfort zone to make so new friends and hang out with them. The social aspect of things hasn’t always been easy for her, and like many people, when Covid hit, being on lockdown made the social interactions hard, and many people just started leading online lives. Stepping back out, or stepping out for the first time, is not easy, and I’m very proud of Raelynn for pushing herself to be more of a joiner.
Raelynn likes to write stories and develop characters for her stories. The friends she has made have similar interests, and they like to bounce ideas off of each other concerning their stories and characters. Sometimes it’s a big help to brainstorm together about what you want to do with a story or character. Also, every character needs a backstory. They need to have come from somewhere, and that isn’t always easy to develop or to make interesting. Raelynn is also into art and uses her drawings to illustrate her stories. Raelynn says that using her drawings in her stories “makes it easier for me to visualize that character and what they would do so I draw them at least once and then maybe later in a scene I wrote them in.” She doesn’t necessarily think she is very good, but I think that she is doing very well, and as with any skill, practice makes perfect. She knows that too. She is ok with the progress she has made. She obviously hasn’t seen anything I can draw, or she would really understand that she is leaps and bounds ahead of my skill level.
Raelynn may have held herself back in her earlier years, with shyness and a lack of confidence, but she is breaking out of that shell now, and like with any caterpillar, we are seeing the beautiful butterfly emerging. Raelynn has always been a beautiful girl, whether she knew it or now, but as she becomes more and more social, more people are able to see what we all saw…just how beautiful she is, inside and out. Today is Raelynn’s 19th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
A year seems like a long time, but in reality, it goes by so fast. One year ago today, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg left us to go to Heaven. She had a stroke, and recovery was not to be. Rachel left behind a husband, Ron Schulenberg; daughter, Cassie Franklin; sons, Riley Birky and Tucker Schulenberg; her dad, Cliff Franklin; and brother, BJ Franklin, grandchildren, Lucas and Zoey; as well as lots of family and friends. Life wasn’t always easy for Rachel, but she was in a great place. She and my brother-in-law were so in love, and they had been happily married almost 11 years. Ron had adopted her son Tucker, and we are all thankful for that, because no one knew the future, but Tucker needed to be with Ron.
Now, a year after Rachel left us, a number of things have changed. Her daughter, Cassie was in a bad situation, and Rachel was worried about it. Cassie was able to walk away from that situation, and I know that Rachel would be so glad. Rachel’s son Riley struggled through the years, but Rachel always stuck by him. Today he is engaged to a great girl, Sierah Martin, and together they are raising her little boy, and expecting a new baby in August 2022. Rachel would have been glad. Tucker is getting ready to go to high school next year. High school…how could that be!! Tucker should still be that 2-year-old boy who firat came into our lives when Rachel and Ron got married. Ron and Tucker are doing ok. They are working hard to take care of each other, and about that, Rachel would be glad. Tucker went to a grief camp that included horses last summer, and not only did he find a love of horses, but he found out that a school friend also lost his mother about two years ago.
Ron probably hides his feelings more than most and tries to use physical labor to help him through it, but we are having monthly family dinners, and trying to pull him into socializing more. It’s hard, and we don’t pressure him, but rather we let him, as well as the kids, know that we are there for them in whatever way they need…and I think Rachel would be glad. Rachel was a loving caring person, and that is impossible to replace. The hole left in our hearts when she left is impossible to fill, at least without God. Rachel knew Jesus as her personal Savior, and so we know that she is living a wonderful life in Heaven. While that doesn’t make us miss her any less, it does remind us that she is happy, and she is looking forward to the day we all join her there. Happy first year in Heaven, Rachel. We love and miss you very much.
My husband, Bob and I love the Black Hills. We go over every year for the Independence Day celebration, which also happens to be right around Bob’s birthday. It is a kind of double celebration for us. Bob and I love to hike, and we have a number of favorite trails in the Black Hills. Some trails we take every year, some only in years that we are in tip top condition, and we try to find a new trail once in a while. There is so much of the Black Hills that most people never see. The back country of the Black Hills, deep in the forest, is just stunning. These Independence Day trips are such a sweet retreat for Bob and me. We especially love the ride on the 1880 Train, as the grand finale. That ride is so relaxing, and it really never gets old.
Bob is such a hard worker. Even in Retirement, he spends a lot of time working on cars for people. There are people who totally depend of his knowledge and ability to keep their vehicles running, and I don’t know what he would do with himself if he didn’t work on the vehicles of all his friends and family members. Since his retirement, he has kept busy and has thoroughly enjoyed the work he does…plus the fact that he is his own boss. All the years he spent working for the City of Casper were great, but there is nothing quite like being your own boss. You work at your own pace and take only the jobs you want to take, and since Bob is such a social person, there is the added benefit of meeting people and making friends.
Bob is such a kind and thoughtful person, who always has something nice to say about everyone. Its a wonderful trait to be able to find the good in people, and that is just what Bob does. I don’t think he has ever met someone he didn’t like. That is something I love about Bob…his easy manner with people. It makes people comfortable with him. From adults to little kids. Everybody likes Bob. His nieces and nephews are all very fond of him, and love to spend time with him. They love to tease him and make him laugh, and he feels the same about them. Little kids are the best ones to watch. They can usually tell if a person is someone they would like, and Bob always falls into the “we like you” category. I have to agree with them. I like him too. He’s a pretty great guy. I liked him from the moment I met him…and I still do. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
A few days ago, my friends, Rikki and Tony Ramsey (who is stationed in Germany) and their three sons, Jameson, Jackson, and Jordan posted some pictures of a trip they took to Salzburg, Austria. On the way there, they went to a place in the mountains, and posted pictures of them in front of a large cross. It was the cross that caught my eye, but the story of the place that held my interest. In English the place is called the Eagle’s Nest, but in German it is the Kehlsteinhaus and it is a building and cross erected by the Third Reich atop the summit of the Kehlstein, a rocky outcrop that rises above Obersalzberg near the town of Berchtesgaden. This was not a church or a fancy mountain-top resort or restaurant…at least not then. It was used exclusively by members of the Nazi Party for government and social meetings, and was visited on 14 documented instances by Adolf Hitler, who disliked the location due to his fear of heights, the risk of bad weather, and the thin mountain air. Today, the building is owned by a charitable trust and is open seasonally to the public as a restaurant, beer garden, and tourist site. I’m sure Hitler would be furious about that.
The Kehlsteinhaus is located on a ridge atop the Kehlstein, a 6,017 feet subpeak of the Hoher Göll that rises above the town of Berchtesgaden. It construction was commissioned by Martin Bormann in the summer of 1937, and paid for by the Nazi Party. It took 13 months to complete, and whether is was the speed of its construction, or simply poor safety standards, twelve workers died during its construction. The road to Kehlsteinhaus is 13 feet wide and climbs 2,600 feet over 4 miles. To get to Kehlsteinhaus, the road goes through five tunnels and one hairpin turn. The road cost RM 30 million to build (about €150 million inflation-adjusted for 2007), which equals about 180,450,000 US dollars. Hitler’s birthday in April 1939 was considered a deadline for the project’s completion, so work continued throughout the winter of 1938, even at night with the worksite lit by searchlights. That explains the twelve deaths, I suppose.
Once you arrive, there is a large car park. From there, a 407 feet entry tunnel leads to an ornate elevator that ascends the final 407 feet to the building. Even the tunnel was elaborate. It was lined with marble and was originally heated, with warm air from an adjoining service tunnel. Most people walked into the elevator, but visiting high-officials were commonly driven through the tunnel to the elevator. Since the tunnel was to narrow to turn around, the driver then had to reverse the car for the entire length of the tunnel. The elevator was elaborate too, of course. The inside was surfaced with polished brass, Venetian mirrors, and green leather. The building’s main reception room is dominated by a fireplace of red Italian marble presented by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, which was damaged by Allied soldiers chipping off pieces to take home as souvenirs. Hitler had the best of everything in the building. Unusual for 1937, the building had a completely electric appliance kitchen, but it was never used to cook meals…instead meals were prepared in town and taken to the kitchen on the mountain top to be reheated. Another extravagancy was the heated floors, with heating required for at least two days before visitors arrived. A MAN submarine diesel engine and an electrical generator were installed in an underground chamber close to the main entrance, to provide back-up power. Much of the furniture was designed by Paul László.
Hitler first visited on September 16, 1938, and returned to inaugurate it on April 20, 1939, his 50th birthday…though supposedly, it was not intended as a birthday gift. There are two ways to approach and enter the building…the road and the Kehlsteinhaus elevator. Hitler did not trust the elevator, continually expressed his reservations of its safety, and disliked using it. His biggest fear was that the elevator’s winch mechanism on the roof would attract a lightning strike. Bormann took great pains to never mention the two serious lightning strikes that occurred during construction. For a man who was supposedly such a “brave leader,” Hitler sure was afraid of a lot of things. The Kehlsteinhaus lies several miles directly above the Berghof, Hitler’s summer home. In a rare diplomatic engagement, Hitler received departing French ambassador André François-Poncet on October 18, 1938, there. It was he who actually came up with the name “Eagle’s Nest” for the building while later describing the visit. Since then, the name has remained. A wedding reception for Eva Braun’s sister Gretl was held there following her marriage to Hermann Fegelein on June 3, 1944. While Hitler more often than not left the entertaining duties to others, he believed the house presented an excellent opportunity to entertain important and impressionable guests. Often referred to as the “D-Haus,” short for “Diplomatic Reception House,” the Kehlsteinhaus is often combined with the teahouse on Mooslahnerkopf Hill near the Berghof, which Hitler walked to daily after lunch. Later, after the war, the teahouse was demolished by the Bavarian government, due to its connection to Hitler.
The Allies tried to bomb the Kehlsteinhaus in the April 25, 1945 Bombing of Obersalzberg, but the little house did not make an easy target for the force of 359 Avro Lancasters and 16 de Havilland Mosquitoes, which were sent to bomb Kehlsteinhaus, but instead, severely damaged the Berghof area. Undamaged in the April 25 bombing raid, the Kehlsteinhaus was subsequently used by the Allies as a military command post until 1960, when it was handed back to the State of Bavaria. The road to the Kehlsteinhaus has been closed to private vehicles since 1952 because it is too dangerous, but the house can be reached on foot (in two hours) from Obersalzberg, or by bus from the Documentation Center there. The Documentation Centre currently directs visitors to the coach station where tickets are purchased. The buses have special modifications to take on a slight angle, as the steep road leading to the peak is too steep for regular vehicles. The Kehlsteinhaus itself does not mention much about its past, except in the photos displayed and described along the wall of the sun terrace that documents its pre-construction condition until now. The lower rooms of the structure are not part of the restaurant but can be visited with a guide. They offer views of the building’s past through plate-glass windows, including graffiti left by Allied troops that is still visible in the surrounding woodwork. The red Italian marble fireplace remains damaged by Allied souvenir hunters, though this was later halted by signage posted that the building was US government property, and damage to it was cause for disciplinary action. Hitler’s small study is now a storeroom for the cafeteria. Thanks to the Ramsey family for taking us along.
By the time Spring arrives, people are naturally over the cold and sometimes depressing Winter months. When April 1st arrives, hopefully bringing with it, sunshine and warmer temperatures, pranks seem to just pop into our heads. We need a laugh, and the good-natured pranking of our friends is a great way to get that laugh. People have pranked their friends and family in many ways. The ways are really as diverse as the prankster. My sisters and I, when we were little, did all the kid pranks, like “there’s a spider in your hair” or exchanging the salt for the sugar. Other people go all out, like telling someone their car was stolen or placing a rubber snake in their bed. I suppose some pranks can be a little over the top, and can even backfire on the prankster, but most are done good naturedly, and are taken as such. Of course, the best part for the prankster is yelling, “April Fool” to their victim.
As traditions go, some stand out more than others. In the United Kingdom, it is tradition that all pranks stopped at noon. This continues to be the custom, with the pranking ceasing at noon, after which time it is no longer acceptable to play pranks. So, a person who didn’t watch the time, an playing a prank after midday is considered the “April fool” themselves. In Ireland, it is more of a “fools errand.” The prankster entrusts the victim with an “important letter” to be given to a named person. That person would read the letter, then ask the victim to take it to someone else, and so on. The letter, when opened contained the words “send the fool further” and then the victim knew he had been had. I can’t say that would be a traditional joke, because the word would get around pretty quickly, and then it wouldn’t work.
April Fools’ Day isn’t just for individuals either. On April Fools’ Day, elaborate pranks have appeared on radio and TV stations, newspapers, and websites, and have been performed by large corporations. One of the more famous pranks was in 1957, the BBC broadcast a film in their Panorama current affairs series purporting to show Swiss farmers picking freshly-grown spaghetti, in what they called the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest. The BBC was soon flooded with requests to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing them to declare the film a hoax on the news the next day. A good prankster could come up with similar pranks for the media to use, and now with the Internet and readily available global news services, April Fools’ pranks can catch and embarrass more people than ever before. It’s the one day that “fake news” can be fake and it’s ok. Happy April Fools’ Day to all the pranksters out there. Have fun, and watch the time so you don’t wind up being the “fool” indeed.
My nephew, Chris Iverson is an avid outdoorsman. He loves camping, fishing, and guns. That is pretty typical of people who live in Wyoming. If Chris and my niece, Cassie could live totally off the grid, I think they would, and if the someday move off the grid, I won’t be one bit surprised. Sometimes, living in town just gets to bee too much for them, and they will load up their camper trailer, and head for the mountains. It is wonderful for their kids, Lucas and Zoey too. They love being in the mountains, especially with family and friends.
When Chris and Cassie had Lucas, there were some challenges. Lucas was born with Down Syndrome, and many parents would have considered other possible avenues of dealing with a known birth defect, but for Chris and Cassie, that was not an option. Lucas with their precious baby, and he was who he was. They loved him and cherished him, and he has grown into a wonderful little boy. Chris and Cassie, are great parents, and they have trained both of their children to be wonderful, caring children who love and respect their siblings
Chris loves his family with all his heart, and always tries to do whatever he can to life better for them. He has the ability to fix his cars, so that saves him money, that can be better used in support of his family. Life isn’t always easy for the Iverson family. Medical bills have plagued them from time to time, but they have continued to persevere, and I know they will do so in the future. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Jason Sawdon, who is married to my niece, Jessi. They are perfect for each other. They are both very social, outgoing people, who are also all about family. Jason and Jessi have a wonderful little girl named Adelaide Ione…named after two grandmothers. Jason was born in in Michigan, where his family still lives. For some reason, he found himself in Wyoming, where he met his future wife…my niece, Jessi. It was a match made in Heaven, and we all find ourselves so impressed with the obvious love and caring he has for Jessi. He encourages her and lifts her up, always making her feel special. It is something we have all witnessed, and something we all love that about him.
Jason is a handyman…in his spare time. He can fix almost anything! My niece, Kellie Hadlock tells me that he fixes most of the stuff in her house, along with her brother, Ryan Hadlock and her dad, Chris Hadlock. Kellie says, “He is always willing to help family and his friends. ALWAYS!” What better tribute to someone’s character than that. People who are there for one another are the best kind of people…and Jason is the best kind of people, for sure. Kellie is quite close to Jason and Jessi, and to their daughter, Adelaide. To her Jason is her big brother and he has been from the start! She says that they also feed her all the time, hahahahaha!! I don’t think that’s the only reason she loves them, however.
Maybe it’s the cop in Jason, or maybe it’s just they way he is, but he has been protective of all of us from the beginning! Kellie says that of her family, but we have all felt that about Jason. I remember a time when my son-in-law, Kevin Petersen’s dad, Dean had a accident in which his travel trailer was blown all over the ditch, and when my daughter, Kevin and my daughter, Corrie arrived at the scene, they didn’t know what to expect. It looked so bad, but Jason, a Wyoming Highway Patrolman, when he saw them, immediately went to them and reassured them that Dean was ok. There is nothing like having a first responder put their arm around you and let you know you are not alone, and everything will be ok…nothing like it at all. Your emotions are so raw and messed up in times like that, and you need someone to comfort you. Jason is great at his job and takes pride in doing everything right and with integrity, and that is the kind of patrolman we need in this world. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a great day!! We love you!!