grandchildren

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My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens has been a part of our family since he married my sister, Alena (Spencer) Stevens on July 21, 1984. Their marriage has been blessed with many years, three children, Michelle (Matt) Miller, Garrett (Kayla) Stevens, and Lacey (Chris Killinger) Stevens. They also have two granddaughters, Elliott and Maya Stevens, and two bonus grandchildren, Brooklyn and Jaxon Killinger. These days, Mike and Alena have a little more time to enjoy their beautiful family, because on July 1, 2022, Mike retired. Alena had retired a couple of years ago, and now they are free to go and do as they please. I know that finally having the freedom to go without thinking about having to work is an awesome feeling. It’s the reward for all those years of hard work.

Mike worked in the Salt Creek Oil Field for 39 years, starting with Amoco in 1983. The company changed hands and names several times, and at the time Mike retired, it was Contango Energy. Mike worked his way up in the oil field business, and by the time he retired, he was the Compression Foreman. As I recall his job as Compression Foreman required that he be available pretty much 24/7. He was a vital part of the project, and they depended on him. He also Mike was well liked and much respected.

That is all behind Mike now. He and Alena have new plans now. They love to go camping and fishing, and Mike also hunts. Mike also has a green thumb, and he loves growing things. Since his last day on the job, Mike has been able to meet that newest little granddaughter, Maya, who was born June 24th, just days before her grandpa retired. Such a blessing…almost like a retirement present. Now that they are both retired, so many fun things are ahead of them. Mostly though, they can relax, and not rush to work all the time. They are free to do the things they want do, when they want to.

Today we are going to celebrate the wonderful man, husband, dad, grandpa, brother, and son that Mike is. He has been a blessing to those around him all his life. He was a hard worker and is a thoughtful man. He has helped with projects for our parents, and that endeared him to them too. I’m so glad that he and my sister got together. Mike is a great addition to our family. Have a wonderful retirement, Mike!! We love you!!

When a couple has been married a long time, things start changing in their life…things like kids getting married, and kids having kids, become the new normal. That is where my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband, Kevin find themselves. The empty nest syndrome has long since come and gone, and now they find themselves in the next phase of their lives. This is the fun phase. Their children are raised, and now they can spoil the grandchildren, and enjoy their adult kids. Their family is growing, with the addition of very soon to be wives for their sons, and of course, those babies. There are no greater words for parents of adult children than grandma and grandpa.

Corrie and Kevin met when she was just 15 years old. Kevin was her first and only love. For him to also be her forever love is amazing, but that is exactly how it went for them. Now, 29 years later, they are still together and still going strong. I can’t say that I am surprised by that, because almost from the very first date, these “kids” seemed married…not the “oh my gosh, I can’t stand to be away from you” kind of love, but more the mature “you’re the one for me, and I can wait to make this right” kind of love. I don’t mean to say that they didn’t love each other very much, but they were very mature. Their love was grown up, and…forever. You just knew that this marriage was going to make it.

After two years, they got engaged, and the wedding was planned for the following year. My girl was going to graduate from high school, turn 18 a month later, and be married two weeks after that. Talk about a whirlwind…for me anyway. A whirlwind of emotions. I thought I was doing ok, but when the kids left for their honeymoon, it suddenly hit me, that my baby girl was married, and she didn’t live at home anymore. She was her own woman, and she had a husband, and very soon a family to take care of. She was a grown adult, but I also knew that the best years of her life were ahead of her, and before long the grandbabies would be coming along. Now the great grandbabies have come along, so I am able to see the next phase for them and for me. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 29th wedding anniversary. Where have the years gone. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has been a part of our family for just over 40 years now, since he married my sister, Allyn Hadlock on June 12, 1982, but he was really part of the family for a little longer than that…since they started dating. It’s hard to remember a time when he wasn’t part of the family. They were just kids when they married, Chris was 21 and Allyn was 19, so basically babies…and yet, here they are, all these years later.

For Chris and Allyn, family is really what it’s all about. This year, Chris and Allyn got to have a really special family vacation to celebrate their 40th anniversary and Chris’ 62nd birthday. They rented a really nice house in Florida, with 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, so that the whole family could stay together, relax, and play. They were all able make the trip, except their daughter, Kellie’s boyfriend, Tim Thompson and his daughter Jolene, and they were very much missed on the trip. They had hoped everyone would be able to come, but Tim couldn’t get the time off, because someone else had already requested it. Their four children, Jessi Sawdon, Ryan Hadlock, Lindsay Moore, and Kellie Hadlock, as well as their spouses, Jason Sawdon, Chelsea Hadlock, and Shannon Moore and the grandchildren, Ethan Hadlock, Aurora Hadlock, Adelaide Sawdon, and Mackenzie Moore were all there. A fabulous time was had by all. They swam in the pool, played on the beach, swam in the ocean, and of course, ate the amazing food from the area restaurants. It was the trip of a lifetime for them, and I’m so happy they got to take it. Trips like these don’t always work out, so you have to jump on it when you get the chance.

Chris and Allyn have been working very hard over the past few years. They have had their dream home, right on the river built, and they love hosting parties, and gathering together with their family year-round. The yard has river access, so they can go rafting right from their back yard, and it has a great hill for sledding in the wintertime. Barbecues and picnics are so nice in the cool back yard too. Seriously, life is good, and they are just loving it. Chris couldn’t be happier with the life they have built together. Chris retired from the Casper Police Department a few years ago, and now he is working in a much less stressful job, selling police communication systems, which keeps him in the know about the police departments, without having to deal with the day-to-day stress of policing in a time when law enforcement isn’t such an easy career to be in. We are all really happy to have him out of that line of work, because of all the upheaval therein these days. It’s just so much more relaxing for him and he is very happy with his new career. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Alena Stevens has been retired now for two years, and while you might this is a time in her life when things slow down and she finds herself with lots of time on her hands, you would be wrong. Alena has a granddaughter in Sheridan, Wyoming named Elliott Stevens, and a little sister coming in June. That makes for lots of trips to Sheridan to see those sweet little granddaughters. Of course, Alena doesn’t mind making those trips one little bit, because as we all know, grandbabies are the greatest blessings ever. Alena has also found herself with two bonus grandchildren, and she couldn’t be happier about that. Brooklyn and Jaxon Killinger are the children of her youngest child, Lacey’s boyfriend, Chris Killinger. Alena has wanted to be a grandmother for a long time, and when that got going, it has really snowballed. Right now, she is just enjoying that “snowball” effect. And waiting for the next “storm” of babies.

While Alena doesn’t mind driving to Sheridan alone, the fact that her husband, Mike is retiring July 1st after 39 years in the oilfield business, means that now they can both make the trips to see the granddaughters. They also plan to do lots of camping, traveling, and golfing too. If I know my sister, there will also be some redecorating, remodeling, or re-envisioning changes to their home too, so I’m sure they will be busy with that. Alena should have been an interior decorator, so there are always ideas rolling around in her head. Don’t get me wrong, Alena was an amazing special education aid, but she is also a gifted decorator, and her home shows that off nicely. Alena has an eye for color, and a natural flair for the glamorous.

Alena has also been working on getting slim and healthy this past year…and she looks amazing. She loves sharing the recipes she uses, and plenty of low carb healthy alternatives to everyday recipes too. She has been quite focused on soups lately, and the ideas she has are amazing. A lot of times, the spouse of the “dieter” has no desire to eat any of the food that the “dieter” is eating, but Alena has been able to tempt Mike to eat lots of the recipes she is using, so it’s a healthy lifestyle for both of them these days. As anyone who knows Alena can see, she looks absolutely amazing these days, and we are all very proud of her transformation. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day and keep up the good work!! We love you!!

by guest writer – Brenda Schulenberg

Caryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…over 47 years ago, when she married my brother, Bob!!! Little did any of us know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg family. Most of us don’t really remember too much of life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family without her as a part of it.

In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of Caryn’s grandchildren have a big place in her heart. She really enjoys being a mother and grandma…and in 2018, Caryn became a great grandma. She now has two great grandchildren and another due in October of this year. She loves the time she gets to spend with them.

On October 14, 2018, Caryn’s faith in God was brought to life. On that day her husband Bob, my brother, suffered a heart attack. We were all very scared and thanks to Caryn’s faith in God, some very fast responders and some miracles too, Bob made a full recovery. Not that they needed it, but Bob and Caryn now realize how special they are to each other.

Through the years, and as both sets of parents aged, Caryn was the primary care giver for all four parents…hers and Bob’s. It was tough on all of us to lose them, but they are in a far better place now. Also in October 2013, when I got sick Caryn saved my life by convincing me that I had to go to the hospital.

Caryn has always enjoyed bowling. She and Bob also like to go on walks and hikes when the weather permits. Bob and Caryn enjoy traveling for their annual hiking/anniversary trip to Thermopolis and to the Black Hills. They also traveled for bowling tournaments too.

Caryn spends time focusing on her health and my brother Bob’s. Caryn always has been very aware of how important good health is for all of us, but now that she is not having to care for all of our parents and work, she has been focused on herself for once…and she has been very successful in this area! Caryn had foot surgery this past year and as you can imagine she did not let that hold her back on the things she likes to do.

In May 2019 Caryn started a new journey…retirement! She loves it. I’m sure Caryn like everyone else that is retired finds herself very busy with traveling, hiking, her great grandchildren, and of course blogging!!!! Caryn has also been able to do some traveling with her sisters to visit family.

Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best sisters-in-law (I consider her my sister) that I could ever ask for. Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!

My sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely is a busy person in just about every way. Jennifer is a labor and delivery nurse who is close to retirement. I sometimes find myself amazed that she can possible have been helping to deliver babies for about 40 years now. She has assisted in the delivery of more babies than I’m sure even she knows or could count. It’s a lot of years of deliveries, some of which were her own grandnieces and grandnephews. I know that my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce were both very thankful to have their aunt in the room with them when they gave birth, and so was I. It’s hard to watch your kids go through so much pain, and it is comforting to know that their aunt, who was a delivery room nurse, and who cared about my kids, was there with them during one of the hardest times in their lives, even if they were also the happiest moments of their lives. Jennfer has been that blessing to so many people, friends, family, and strangers, and all of them are so thankful.

Jennifer is also an athlete. She hikes, skis, rides bicycles, and also does many indoor forms of exercise there is. Jennifer and her partner, Brian Cratty have a cabin on Casper Mountain, so they can be closer to the mountain and activities they love. For them, Casper Mountain is their “happy place.” Jennifer and Brian have hiked many places, including to heights as high as 14,473 feet when they climbed Mount Elbert in Colorado, called a 14er. She has also hiked in Vermont, Maine, and New Zealand…yes, New Zealand. That is a dedicated hiker, and I thought I was. Not nearly as much as Jennifer. I think when Jennifer retires, she will wonder how she had time to work with all of her athletic passions.

While being a nurse, an athlete, as well as mom of three boys, Barry Schulenberg (married to Kellie), JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely (married to Ashley), keeps Jennifer quite busy, her latest blessings are her grandchildren. Jennifer has three granddaughters, Reagan, Hattie, and Maeve Parmely, and grandson Bowen Parmely…these are the children on her son Eric and his wife Ashley. Jennifer loves to do special things for the kids, like their own special cake for their birthday, taking them on a special shopping trip for their birthdays, and taking turns spending the night with their grandparents. She works hard to make things special for each of them. Jennifer goes by Oma to the kids, which is German for Grandma…a fitting name for a woman of German descent (along with a lot of English). For Jennifer, life is good. Today is Jennifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Jennifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was just about 4 months older than my oldest daughter, Corrie, so she was like a sister-in-law and a daughter too. The things she liked were similar to things my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce liked. It makes sense that it would be that way, because my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg was just 7 years old when my husband, Bob and I got married. They were in the generation of our kids. I guess that is part of what makes it so hard to believe that Rachel has been living in Heaven for a little over a year now. She was just too young to have a fatal stroke. It just shouldn’t happen that way.

Rachel was good friends with my nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith, and it was through them that she was introduced to their Uncle Ron. It was a match made in Heaven, and they were married over 11 years when she passed away. They were so happy, and I know their marriage would have continued well into their golden years if she hadn’t left us too soon. Besides Ron, Rachel also left behind daughter, Cassie Franklin and her children Lucas and Zoey; son, Riley Birky his fiancée, Sierah Martin, her son, Jace and their little baby that is coming in this August; and Tucker Schulenberg, her youngest, who was adopted by Ron in 2019, so she knew he would be ok. Rachel was a wonderful mother and grandmother, who loved her children and grandchildren so much, and the perfect wife for Ron…his soulmate.

Rachel was a vibrant person, who loved the Lord. She had worked in the office of her church in Powell, Wyoming before she married my brother-in-law, and moved to Casper. She loved telling people about Jesus and seeing people get saved. She wanted to make sure that everyone she could win for the Lord, she did win for the Lord. Rachel was quick to pray for anyone who needed prayer, even if they didn’t ask her for prayer, she prayer for them. There are many people out there who have received answered prayer because of Rachel…I have no doubt. Rachel was a wonderful person, Christian, and friend to many people, and she has been greatly missed by all of us over the past year. Today would have been Rachel’s 47th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Rachel. We love and miss you very much.

It was 47 years ago that my husband, Bob and I said, “I do.” It’s hard to believe that so many years have come and gone. We were just kids back then. I was only 10 months out of high school. Time goes by so fast, and I don’t know how they could have gone by so fast. Every year, I tend to wonder the same thing, and every year I come to the same conclusion…the grace of God. I believe that God sent Bob to me to be my soulmate. He was Heaven sent to me, as a gift of God. We always feel “right” together. We don’t have to “work” at getting along. We just…get along. It is easy for us. I don’t mean to say that marriage isn’t work, because it really is, but for us a loving marriage is so much easier than we would have ever thought.

Bob and I have so much in common. We love doing the same kinds of things…some of which we have developed over the years, because they were not things that we had ever thought we would enjoy years ago. Still, today they are things we have found that we enjoy very much. It’s not just hiking, but it’s where we like to go to hike. We enjoy going to Thermopolis, the Black Hills, Washington state, the Grand Canyon, areas around our city of Casper. These places give us happiness and joy. We like the same television shows. We tend to be very comfortable at home together…granted, we might be taking a nap in our chairs, but that’s ok too. The point is that we are comfortable and happy together…and we are very blessed.

Eash year I find myself feeling more and more blessed with this man God has given to me. God knew exactly the kind of man I would need to make my life happy, and He couldn’t have picked a better man for me. God knew that we would be compatible and comfortable together. We could not have known that for the long run. We were just kids of 18 and 20 years when we got married. What did we know? He knew that we were both stubborn enough to stick it out together and follow His plan for us and our lives. He blessed us with two daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce; two sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce; four grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen; as well as fiancées Karen Cruickshank and Athena Ramirez; and great grandchildren Cambree and Caysen Petersen and baby Petersen coming in October. Blessings don’t get any better than those. They have all made us so very happy. Today is our 47th wedding anniversary. I love you Bob…and yes, “I still do.”

My grandson, Christopher Petersen has so much going for him these days. He has a fiancée, Karen with whom he is deeply in love, and two children, Cambree and Caysen, who are among his greatest blessings. A man can’t ask for anything better than that. When I think back of Christopher’s life, I am so amazed at just how quickly the years have flown by. Christopher was my first grandchild, followed the next day by his cousin Shai Royce. It was a whirlwind time in the life of our family. Chris and Shai were best friends, and still are close to this day, even though Shai lives 1200 miles away now. I can still picture them playing side by side at my daughter, Amy Royce’s house, where Chris went to daycare. It was a perfect part of my life, and one I feel very privileged to have been a part of. Having Amy care for the kids, allowed me to go over for lunch to spend time with my precious grandchildren. Still, I will never forget the first day my daughter, Corrie Petersen had to drop off her precious son at my house so I could take him to her sister’s house. The tears flowed liberally. I’m thankful Karen has not had to do that. It is truly awful.

Now, Chris is the dad, and he is living out those perfect years. His children adore him. They run to him when he gets home, so excited to be with him. There is no greater feeling than the love your kids feel for you, and I’m so glad Chris has that. Isn’t it just amazing…how life changes? Chris likes to take his family to Rapid City sometimes with friends of theirs, and the kids absolutely love the water park there. He enjoys giving his family all the good things he can. He is a good dad and partner.

Chris still loves his cars, and tinkering on them, especially his prize-winning Camaro. He doesn’t race it, or anything, it is his show car, and his pride and joy. I can see…down the road…into the future, to a time when his kids will be helping him tinker of his cars. I know his grandpas and his dad taught Chris how to tinker on cars, because that was where he wanted to be…with them…and mostly his daddy, Kevin Petersen. The boys, Chris and his little brother, Josh loved being with their daddy, especially when he was doing his mud truck races. I get excited thinking about the day when Chris’ kids, and especially Caysen are the ones out there perched on a box, “helping” Daddy work on his hot rod. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock has always been a gentle soul. From the time she was just a little girl, she had a heart that always remained soft. The rest of my sisters and I always said that Allyn was “always good.” She didn’t get into mischief, like the rest of us might have. I could never figure out how she did that, probably because I had a mischievous side, and did get into a few scrapes I life…oh nothing serious, but enough to not be the sister who was “always good.”

Over the past couple of years, many people have been seeking the Lord concerning all that is going on around us. My sisters and I are no different, and we, having been raised to know the Lord, find ourselves pressing into Him in these times. My niece, Jessi Sawdon was telling me about my sister’s mothering ways with her children, and I can tell you firsthand…our parents are very proud of her. Jessi says, “One of the things I love most about my mom is her ability to always seek the Lord first. She’s instilled that in us kids and I can see all of us following this same path. And that’s exciting. Like the rest of our family, she had a strong faith, but dang, when times are tough, she is the first one there to help us make the right confessions and remind us of what the Lord has promised us. She makes everything look effortless, even though I know it’s not. She used to tell us to let Gods light shine through us. It will make everyone wonder what we’ve got, and they’ll want it too. She does that every day. I don’t think there is a better gift than her (even though it’s her birthday), and I feel so blessed that she has been such a strong spiritual leader in all our lives and has never wavered.” Allyn’s second daughter, Lindsay Moore agrees with Jessi, as do her son, Ryan Hadlock and youngest daughter, Kellie Hadlock, that Allyn has grown in her walkwith the Lord, and well as in her work and home life. There is no greater tribute than that, if you ask me.

Of course, one of Allyn’s most precious roles, these days, is that of Grammy. Grandchildren are one of the greatest gifts your kids can ever give you, and Allyn has embraced the title of Grammy with joy and happiness. She has four grandchildren on Earth, and two waiting for her when she gets to Heaven. All are loved and are an amazing blessing to Allyn, and to my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock. They so enjoy the time they get to spend with those precious kids…which as any grandparent knows, is never long enough. You always want more time, especially when the grandchildren live in a different city. Thankfully, for Allyn and Chris, they two that live in different cities, are still in Wyoming, so visits are more frequent than if they lived in a different state. This way, they visit often, and Allyn loves that. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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