grandchild

As another of my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s birthday has arrived, I find myself unable to believe that he has been in Heaven for over six years now. Today, he would have been 90 years old. Somehow, I can’t imagine that he could have been that old…mostly, I suppose, because he never really acted like an old man. He always seemed young and full of life. He was busy and always working on some project. I know he slowed down some in the last year or so of his life, but it still didn’t strike me that he was growing older. Maybe because I saw him just about every day in those last few years. You somehow don’t see what is right in front of you when you are there every day. He always seemed the same vibrant workaholic that I had know all the years that he was my father-in-law.

He was a happy man, who had a great sense of humor and loved life. He cherished every grandchild and great grandchild as they came along, and I know he would have loved his great great granddaughter too. I wish they could have met. They would have gotten along splendidly. He was always a family man, and there was nothing that was more important to him than his kids and grandkids. He loved to make things for them, and was thrilled as they played with each new toy. His craftwork was in many ways, ahead of its time. He loved to tinker in the garage, and his craft barn, where he created his unique designs, and got them read to give to someone, or to sell at one of the craft fairs.

His crafts were great, but he was a great builder too. He built the family home in the country, in the late 70s, and dressed up the house they had in town, after they moved. He refurbished lawn chairs with a fresh new classic design, that made them more a showpiece than a lawn chair. And he also built puzzles for people to try their luck at. Some of them were quite difficult to solve. I think it was all a part of the kid in him and maybe that’s why he never seemed to age. I think you have to grow up to age…don’t you? I will never forget the years that I was blessed to have Walt Schulenberg as my father-in-law. He made life fun, and he always made a person feel loved. I always knew where I stood with him…and it was a great place to be. A place of honor and respect, and yes, a place of fun and laughter too. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad!! We love and miss you very much.

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!!

Few things change a man as much as becoming a daddy. Yes, becoming a fiancé and husband are life changing events too, but when your beloved presents you with your first child…well you never forget how amazing that feels. For my oldest grandchild, Chris Petersen, this past year was that year…the most important year in his life. Chris went from being a a young man to being someone’s daddy, and it doesn’t get better than that amazing day, when that precious little girl finally arrived.

Chris and his fiancée are doing everything they know to do to protect and nurture their little girl. One of those decisions was to protect her from over exposure to the internet, and so my readers will have to use their imaginations concerning my little great granddaughter. I can say that she and her mommy have enriched Chris’ life beyond anything he could have imagined, and I can see the love he has for them in his eyes every time he looks at them. For his parents, and his grandparents, it is such a beautiful change to see. Chris has grown so much. The “wild child” of his youth is long gone, and he is a settled family man, who wants nothing more than to go home after work to be with his girls. They are his life and his joy. He loves them more that he does himself, and he feels so blessed that they are in his life, and every parent can fully understand that. There is nothing like being a parent. It’s a feeling that has no equal.

When a child is little, you simply do not know what they will become, but it is a good bet that at some point, most will become parents. Chris has reached that place, and these days the greatest part of his life is his fiancée, his baby girl, and the simple word…Dada!! Who could have thought that such a simple little word could create such joy in a person. Of course, every parent knows the joy of your baby’s first words, usually mama and dada. They are forever precious. Today is Chris’ 23rd birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day with your girls!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Aleesia Spethman is the youngest child of her parents, Jenny and Steve Spethman, and the youngest grandchild of my sister, Cheryl Masterson. Aleesia is a bubbly six year old girl who is getting ready to start first grade on September 4th. She is quite excited about the coming school year, but she is ok with it not starting for a couple of weeks. Aleesia has lots left to do with her summer, and then she will get back into the swing of things for school. She is a very active little girl and she loves to spend time with her parents, brothers, and her grandma.

After spending the day at home or doing things with her mom and brothers, Aleesia often spends time with her grandma in the evening. They love to hang out and watch movies or talk. It really isn’t about what they do, but rather that they do it together. They are just very close. On Thursday nights, my sister; her daughter, Liz; Aleesia; and I go out to dinner. It is our chance to do something fun…a girls’ night out sort of thing. Aleesia always feels special that she gets to hang out with the grown-ups. We always have a great time. Aleesia keeps us laughing, and we always have a great time.

As much as Aleesia loves to hang out with her grandma, she loves her family, and before long, she is ready to go home. Aleesia hates it when her grandma goes out of town, and she misses her very much, but she would really miss her family if she went along with grandma, so she doesn’t do that yet. Maybe someday. She is the kind of girl who really wants everyone she loves to be in the same place. In fact, if she had her way, she would probably have her grandma move in with her family, then she would never have to be separated from any of them. Aleesia is a little girl who has a deep love for her family. She might fight with her brothers, but they are her brothers, and she loves them. Of course, they love her too, and they treat her like she is a little princess. She really is, you know. She is the little princess that they had waited for a very long time. Today is Aleesia’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Aleesia Spethman has had a very busy summer. She is part of an active family, which includes her three older brothers, who keep Aleesia very busy when she is at home. Of course, being the only girl in a house with three brothers, can have its up side, and its down side. It’s pretty hard to get brothers to play girly games, so sometimes, Aleesia has to be a bit of a tom boy, a role she has taken seriously…or maybe it just comes naturally because of her brothers. She can keep up with the boys on many of the things they do, but they still treat her like a princess sometimes too.

Aleesia is the girl her parents always wanted…not that they didn’t want those boys too. Jenny, Aleesia’s mom is very much a girly girl, and she wanted her own mini me to share her fashion sense, and all the other girly girl things with. They have a great time being girly together, shopping together, and playing the girly games that Aleesia wants to play, and her brothers are much too macho for. The boys are very considerate of their sister, but you simply have to draw the line somewhere. They do take her along on their adventures too, so what more can a baby sister ask for?

Aleesia loves her grandma. Every evening, after a hard day of playing with her friends and brothers, Aleesia is picked up by her grandma, my sister, Cheryl Masterson. She goes to her grandma’s house for a few hours. They love to spend time together, because Aleesia is seriously Grandma’s Girl. Don’t get me wrong, because she very much loves her parents and brothers, but she also loves her grandma very much. In fact, if Aleesia had her way, her grandma would just move in with her family, because then everything would be absolutely perfect in her world. My sister and her youngest grandchild have a somewhat unique relationship. Of course, Cheryl loves all her grandchildren, but some grandchildren are the type who just wiggle their way into your heart and take up a residency there. Some grandchildren are after your heart, and they make a sincere effort to be with you. It isn’t that the two of you do anything that is so out of the ordinary, but rather that you have opened your heart to their efforts to come in. I don’t know if that exactly explains how that is, but any grandparent who has been blessed with such a grandchild, knows exactly what I mean. And truly, anyone who has been blessed to have Aleesia love them a lot, is blessed indeed. I know, because I have been blessed to be one of those, and I love it. Today is Aleesia’s 5th birthday. For Aleesia, the next big adventure in her world will be Kindergarten…super fun!! Happy 5th birthday Aleesia!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Corrie and Grandma Knox 10002I can’t let my daughter, Corrie Schulenberg Petersen’s birthday go by without thinking of the other family birthday that is on this day…Corrie’s great grandmother, Nettie Knox. The day Corrie was born my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg, brought her mother in to see the baby. The first thing grandma said was that Corrie had been born on her birthday. She was so excited that her very first great grandchild had been given as a birthday gift to her. And a gift it was, to both of them. A gift that had the ability to transcend time and great distance.

Grandma Knox and CorrieSharing a birthday with her great grandmother built an unbreakable bond between Corrie and Grandma Knox. They shared each and every birthday from Corrie’s birth in 1975 to Grandma’s passing on July 29, 1990, just one month after Corrie’s 15th birthday. Not a birthday goes by now, that Corrie doesn’t think of her great grandmother, and the bond that they will always share. Even though her great grandmother is in Heaven now, the bond is as real as it ever was. Grandma Knox lives always in Corrie’s heart as her great grandmother and her birthday buddy, and that is a special thing that just doesn’t happen everyday. It is a special thing only for a select few who happen to be blessed enough to be born a birthday gift to their great grandmother.

Chris PetersenChristopher in clothes basketIt seems impossible that I have been a grandmother for twenty years now, but with this birthday, my first grandchild, Christopher Petersen turns twenty. We were so excited about his impending birth…and then he was here. Like his mother, he had arrived on his great grandmother’s birthday. There was excitement all around. As Christopher grew, we were treated to his smiling face, his cute little animal sounds, and his antics. He loved throwing all the clothes out of the clothes basket, and climbing in instead. Every time he did something new, he was so pleased with himself. Chris loved being the funny man. Still, as much as Chris liked the funny side of life, I can also tell you that Chris is a young man of deep feelings too. He is sensitive to the needs of other people, and he hates hurting anyone’s feelings.

Chris is very close to his parents, Corrie and Kevin Petersen, and his brother, Josh. Leaving home for college, while a great experience, has been hard of Chris too. He reminds me a lot of myself in that way, because I like living in the same place as my family. I know that doesn’t work out for everyone, but for me, and for Chris…we really wish it would. I can see Chris coming home after college, and opening his own restaurant. It has been a dream of his for some time now. College, for Chris, has been a means to an end. It remains to be seen, what kind of cuisine Chris will choose, but I think he has some ideas in mind, and he is a great chef!!

For Chris, there is no greater hobby than working on cars…especially hot cars. I think he gets that from his dad and both grandpas. Chris has a Camaro that he loves to work on, and whenever he is home from school, he, his brother, Josh, and their dad can be found out in the garage or in the front driveway working on their respective cars or trucks. It’s a great way for them to bond…and to have great cars too.

Kevin 2Grandma Schulenberg and ChristopherWith all that the guys do together, they still don’t forget about the one female in the family, my daughter, Corrie. I would love to say that they treat her like a princess, and really they do, but she has to be the most picked on princess ever, because they all love to tease her. That is something the boys learned from their dad, Kevin. They can tell you a story with a straight face, and make you believe it…or at least wonder. That is one of their best talents, and Chris is one of the best kidders. Today is Chris’ 20th birthday. I can’t believe it. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Baby-ToniaInto most little lives, a sibling must enter. Sometimes the baby is born into a family with other children, and so they just seem like a normal part of life, but sometimes as can be the case with the oldest child, that new little sibling is a bit of a culture shock. Still, most of the time the older child is very excited about this new little playmate, but sooner or later it occurs to the older child that this new little baby sure gets a lot of attention, or cries a lot, or is…basically very needy. That is the point when they become just a little bit disenchanted with this new little person, and they start to wonder why their parents decided to get this kid anyway. And sometimes they are very jealous of this new sibling, and really want the baby to be sent back. Oh they may still love them sometimes, but they sure can be annoying, and they sure take up a lot of Mommy’s and Daddy’s time. Time that used to be exclusively the older child’s time, and now must be shared.

Baby-SisterFor my niece Chantel Masterson Balcerzak, who really did love her sister, Toni Masterson Chase, and who I don’t really think ever felt a lot of resentment, I suppose it was really just a matter of letting everyone know that she was still there. Chantel was always a bit of a Diva, and so she liked her fair share of attention. She liked being the big sister, and helping her mom with the kids who came along after her, but just remember that she was still there, and she was after all…cute too. Of course, it wasn’t like anyone was going to forget that, because after all…Chantel was the first grandchild and the first niece, and we were all excited to have her here. Nevertheless, I suppose that when Toni came along, there was a bit of attention being paid to the new baby. So, our Chantel decided that it was time to remind us that she was the baby too.

That said, one day, Chantel saw Toni’s empty baby carrier, and decided that she would just show us that she In-Da-Babystill fit the part of baby pretty well. So, she proceeded to plop down in the baby carrier, get her self situated in a very comfortable position, and flash that cute little smile of hers, as if to say, “I’n da baby too!!” Chantel was never a very big girl…in fact, fully grown, she is only 4’10”, so she really could fit in that baby carrier at two years old. I guess she proved her point. She could still play the part of a baby. Still, as the Diva part of Chantel continued to grow, she really didn’t want to take Toni’s place for very long, and as we all know, being the baby really can be kind of boring, especially when they are at the age of doing a lot of sleeping. That part didn’t interest Chantel very much at all. She was always a busy little girl, who had a lot of living to do. Sleeping was overrated. In the end, she opted for being the big sister over being the baby.

Josh -DLWhen your youngest child reaches driving age, you most likely find yourself breathing a sigh of relief, because they can get themselves to their own functions, to school, and home again. You are also feeling a little bit apprehensive, because they are driving now. Nevertheless, you have trained them well, and you know they will be alright. When your youngest grandchild reaches driving age, you might breathe a sign of relief too, but you also suddenly feel like the years are racing by…whether you like it or not. That is exactly how I am feeling today, as my youngest grandchild, Josh Petersen turns sixteen.

I remember the day that he was born…five weeks early…the same day that he was flown to Denver, because his lungs were not quite fully developed. He would spend two weeks there, and then come home to begin the race to catch up…and it didn’t take him very long at all. I don’t think I have ever seen such a hungry kid…nor one who loved sweets as much as Josh did. His cute little “treat Grandma” was always the first thing out of his mouth when he arrived at my house. Like I could forget that he was hungry. With the way he ate, I think I expected him to be a chubby little kid, but that was not the case. Josh is tall and slender, a runner with great lung capacity, and 100% healthy. I couldn’t have asked for more for him.

Somehow in my mind, I have always seen Josh as a lot younger than the other grandkids. He isn’t, and he doesn’t act any different. It’s just my mind’s defense system, I think, making me feel like there are so many more years left that he will be the baby of the bunch, but the reality is that he is not a baby anymore. He is a young man, who is ready to set out by himself…at least in the area of transportation, because as of today, he is legal to drive by himself. No more will he need to have us come to take him places or pick him up on a regular basis. Those things will now be relegated to times when his pickup breaks down or something. Oh, he may need to have someone run home to get something he’s forgotten and bring it to him, but I suspect that those Josh in trucktimes will get fewer and further in between as time goes on.

As Josh turns sixteen, many things in the Petersen family will change again. It is how life goes, and nothing we do can change it. Kids grow up and become adults, and before you know it they are married with families of their own, and you find out that you have become the grandparent. There is no way to stop time, and for me that means that my youngest grandchild is growing up. Look out folks, Josh Petersen in a legal driver and on the road. I’d tell you to clear the sidewalks, but I think he will do alright. Today is Josh’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Remember that I have confidence on you, so stay off the sidewalks…with your truck anyway. Have a great day!! We love you!!

MachelleMachelle is the third granddaughter of my in-laws, and our niece, of course. She and my girls were all born pretty close together, with Corrie, our oldest, born 1 year and 5 months before Machelle, and our youngest, Amy born 6 months before Machelle. The girls were always close, even though as little ones they obviously fought as often as they played…normal for most kids. Nevertheless, they always had great fun playing together, and spent a week at each other’s house during the summer, after Machelle’s family moved to Thermopolis, Wyoming when she was little. We would send the girls for a week, and then a while later, we would have Machelle for a week. Those were great times for the girls, but by the time the week was over, Debbie and I were ready to have things back to normal.

Machelle was born on her Grandpa Knox’s birthday…the second grandchild to do that, with Corrie arriving on Grandma Knox’s birthday. I will never forget that year, since Bob and I had traveled to visit his Aunt Linda and Uncle Bobby Cole the day after Thanksgiving that year. We found out that Machelle had arrived while we were in Kennebec, South Dakota. Then, on our way back, we ended up driving in a blizzard and were forced to stop near Lusk, Wyoming for about an hour before the roads cleared enough to go on. Not the most pleasant trip home, but I do remember Machelle’s birth very clearly because of it.

Because Machelle’s birthday is the 28th of November, every few years, she gets an extra Happy birthday Machellespecial birthday dinner…like today, because it falls on Thanksgiving. Unlike having your birthday on Christmas, having it on Thanksgiving isn’t so bad, because everyone can be thankful for Machelle and for another year of having this sweet person in our lives. She has been a great help to the family in the years when we were taking care of her Grandma and Grandpa Schulenberg. She never hesitated to do whatever was asked of her, and for my father-in-law, that was an endearing quality. It showed her love for them, and it meant a lot to him. For all that Machelle did, I am very thankful today. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a wonderful day, and a very happy Thanksgiving too. We are very thankful for you. We love you!!

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