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While visiting my Aunt Sandy Pattan during her stay at Elkhorn Valley Rehabilitation Hospital where she is recuperating from a recent surgery, we were talking about our favorite subject…the Byer-Pattan Family History. The subject turned to the many things her parents, my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer had seen come into being during their lifetimes. Grandpa was born on June 15, 1893, and Grandma was born on February 26, 1909. A sixteen-year age difference wasn’t that uncommon in those days, and many people to this day have a large age difference between husband and wife. Of course, the world when Grandma was born was already quite different than the world when Grandpa was born. The automobile was first invented…officially in 1889, but people really didn’t start owning them until about 1929, so by the time my grandparents were married in 1927, a few people might have owned their own car, but many still didn’t. For those, it was still the horse and buggy days.

Planes were another thing that the most likely saw come into existence. While they existed at the time my grandmother was born, they did not during my grandfather’s early years. Nevertheless, like automobiles, planes were not something that was commonly in use for the average citizen. They were too expensive and so were only for the very rich or for military use. Most people who needed to travel long distances used the trains in those days, and some very likely still used the horse and buggy travel mode. Of course, truth be told, there are still those who use a horse and buggy today. The Amish and even a few others, but the others are mostly for show, like parades, races, and such. Personally, my husband, Bob and I dearly love the trains. We ride one pretty much every year. I think trains are in my blood. My dad grew up riding them, because his dad worked as a carpenter for the Great Northers Railroad. Because of that, his kids got a free pass to ride…within reason, of course.

Televisions might have been “invented” in the late 1800s, but they were not common in homes until much later. In fact, in 1947 there were only a few thousand televisions in homes in the United States. I suppose that getting programming together could have had something to do with it, but many people thought it was an unnecessary evil, and maybe they had a point. Prior to that time, families would gather around the radio to hear the latest news…especially when it came to the important news of the wars.

Telephones were just as rare. Invented in 1869 by Alexander Graham Bell, although, it was truly a race between him and other competitors. Nevertheless, he was granted the patent. By 1920, about 35% of homes had phones. These days we couldn’t imagine running our lives without a phone, and who needs a home, we carry them in our purses, pockets, backpacks, and even on our wrist. If you don’t have access to your phone, it is entirely your fault…either you forgot it or you let the battery die. Either way…your fault. Aunt Sandy and I agreed that there have also been a lot of changes in our eras, but maybe not quite as drastic as the ones our parents and grandparents saw. I’m quite sure there will be many more changes as time goes on. Space travel, for the common man being one. Wow!! Now, that’s something to think about!!

My great grandniece, Reece Balcerzak came into this world as an early Christmas present for her parents, Katie and Keifer Balcerzak, and even though her arrival was a scary one, the gift they were given was so precious to them. They spent that Christmas in the neonatal unit of Presbyterian Saint Luke’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado, where Reece received amazing care and grew to be the size of a full-term baby, so she could go home on January 29, 2017, and life settled down…well, as much as it can with a newborn. Since that time, Reece has shown the world just what a spunky girl she is. She is full of energy and laughter, and her smile just lights up your heart when you see it. Being born prematurely was not going to slow this little girl down one bit. She couldn’t wait to get born and she can’t wait to experience all that life has to offer.

These days, Reece is big sister to her brother, Aysa and she loves him dearly. Aysa is almost Reece’s mini-me…at least where his smile is concerned. Reece has been a big sister for over two years now, and none of us can believe that time has flown by so fast. Reece is such a loving girl, and she truly showers her brother and everyone she cares about with much love. She is a joy to be around and fills their home with happiness. Reece also loves her cousin, Max Herr, and her other cousins, which are numerous. She loves spending time with aunts, uncles, cousins, and especially grandparents.

She is very active, very social, and she is having a great time is Kindergarten this year. This year found Reece learning to ride a horse. She had such a good time, and who knows, maybe we have an equestrienne in our family. She has also taken dance lessons, played t-ball, and she is an all-around girly girl. Reece is a girl with many talents and just as many likes and dislikes. Mostly she likes many things and many people. And everyone loves Reece. Reece is totally able to entertain anyone with her antics, especially the other kids. Today is Reece’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Reece!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Susan Griffith is a multi-faceted woman. First and foremost, she is a wife and mother. That is and has been her life since her oldest daughter, Jala Satterwhite was born in 2002. Susan was a single mom until she met and married Josh Griffith. They were married on June 6, 2006, and Josh became Susan’s biggest fan. They also became the parents of a daughter named Kaylyn Griffith. He was always encouraging her to excel. One of the first ways was when they decided to get into horses. Josh had been around them for a long time, maybe his whole life, but Susan was a little intimidated by them. Josh was patient with her and worked with her, and before long, she was much more comfortable with them. Recently, Josh had the idea to take Susan on their first “pack” trip. A “pack” trip is when the horses pack your gear into the camp site. The trip was just an overnight trip in the Beartooth Mountains, but it was just the two of them, so it was very romantic. The girls, Jala and Kaytlyn didn’t go with them, although both girls are very proficient with the horses. Susan said, “It was just him and me, so it kind of felt like it was a date.” It was for Josh’s birthday, but then who needs an excuse for a date night.

Josh also encourages Susan when it comes to her career. Recently, Susan made a bold step with Josh’s help. She decided to open her own business. It was an idea that Susan had in mind for a long time, but together, they made it a reality, and it is called The Way West Enterprises, LLC. and it’s going very well. Susan is ready to take on new clients, and she is very excited about the future, both for herself and her company. Susan has even become a mentor for her daughter, Jala, who started her own business too…called SafeHaven Home and Pet Care.

Susan and Josh have a beautiful place outside of Powell, that is their retreat. It is the place where they feel most complete. I never thought of Susan as a country girl, but I think she is flourishing in all of her roles in life. Susan is a capable woman, and when she sets her mind to something, she is an amazing success. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Josh Griffith, who became my nephew when he married my niece, Susan Cook Griffith. That was 17 years ago, but recently, Josh had the idea to take Susan on their first “pack” trip. That is where the horses pack your gear into the camp site. The trip was just an overnight trip in the Beartooth Mountains, but it was just the two of them…no kids. Susan said, “It was just him and me, so it kind of felt like it was a date.” It was early in the season so the waters were running pretty high so they tried to find a spot to go to that didn’t involve crossing the creek because they were thinking that it would be pretty high. Probably a good plan. The area that they camped in was also rather deep in grizzly bear country…one of the reasons I wouldn’t like tent camping, but that’s just me. Anyway, they found a spot to set up camp that was about four or five miles from where they had parked the truck. When we finally decided where we were going to pitch the tent, they noticed that about 10 to 15 feet away was a pile of fresh bear scat. That made Susan…just a little nervous, considering the fact that “we were in their territory.” I think I would be nervous too. Nevertheless, they stayed.

Now that the trip is over, Susan says. “It was a pretty cool experience. Once we got the camp all set up, we were sitting around the fire and getting ready to cook dinner, our dogs were kind of like ‘what is going on here’ – like what are you guys doing? They could tell that there were predators out there, and they were keeping watch pretty close on our surroundings. It was kind of a spooky feeling. I kept making lots of noise, so no bears or wolves ever came up on us thankfully.” I agree. I’m thankful their trip went well, and they’re home safe.

Susan says that the trip made her really “appreciate the modern conveniences that we have – like running water, toilets, microwaves, stoves, fridges- just like the basic necessities are so nice. Haha! I didn’t realize how much I liked those things until you go a couple days without them and you’re like, OK I can’t wait to get home where there’s running water. We can just turn the faucet on and have an unlimited supply of water. Thank God for running water. Haha!” I’m sure that Josh hardly gave any of those things any thought, because…well, he’s a guy, and they don’t think about those things when they are camping. For Susan that trip was probably the most unusual “date” she has ever had, and if it weren’t for the fact that she trusts her husband implicitly, she might have backed out.

They have gone out almost every weekend this summer camping, riding horses, or doing something, so it’s been a pretty fun summer for them. Josh is always willing to go do things with the family, so there’s never a dull moment. Susan tells me that “Josh is such a great dad and husband. I’m the luckiest lady alive! I’m sure if it.” What a sweet tribute!! Today is Josh’s birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As each birthday comes and goes, I am amazed that our grandpa, Walt Hein could have been in Heaven as long as he has. Grandpa was born on May 29, 1906, which means that this is the 117th anniversary of his birth. I so enjoyed spending time with this man on our many trips to Forsyth, Montana over the years. He was so funny and was a ruthless card player. He wasn’t mean…just determined to win. That was similar to my own card playing style, so we invariably played as partners. That left the other two players, one of whom was my husband, Bob and the other who was most often grandma, Vina Hein, to play as partners, and most often lose. Grandma and Bob didn’t really care. They knew that for Grandpa, the win was a big deal, and for them, since it didn’t really matter so much, they decided that it was all in fun anyway.

Our trips weren’t just about cards, however. There were many things to do on the ranch, and sometimes the men would go out and take care of the animals, or sometimes, Grandpa would bring our girls out to the corral and lead them around of one of the horses. They had a blast riding the horses. We lived in the country, but in a much more urban kind of country area…or at least because it was subdivided, the places were smaller, and we didn’t think that our five acres could handle horses and the two cows that we raised. We felt like the beef was more important than riding horses. We also didn’t have chickens, so being around Grandma and Grandpa’s chickens was a fun experience for the. I’m not sure what the chickens thought about it, when my girls began chasing them the first time, but I know they didn’t hate that, because they would often stop and look back to see if the girls were still coming, and when they saw that they were, the chickens were off again. I think they got a kick out of it. Grandpa also had a bathtub in the yard…long before that was a thing. When the summer days got hot, Grandpa would fill that tub with water, and the girls got to go “swimming” in that tub. They had a great time, and all of these things really endeared Grandpa to them. It was that Grandpa’s heart. They were always ready to go to Forsyth to visit the family.

When I think about the fact that, if he were still alive, Grandpa would have been 117 years old, I am rather stunned. It’s so strange to think that I could have known someone who is now 117 years old. I shouldn’t be surprised, because that statement applies to all of my grandparents, and one would have been even older…one 144 years old. I suppose that as we grow older, having known people from our childhood, it will become more common to know people who are almost 200 years old. Nevertheless, it will probably never cease to amaze me. Today is the 117th anniversary of Grandpa Walt Hein’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa. We love and miss you very much.

My grandnephew, Bowen Parmely is a very energetic little boy. He has two older sisters, Reagan and Hattie; and a younger sister, Maeve. I can’t say that Bowen always gets along with his sisters, but he would protect them with his life. That doesn’t mean he won’t pick on them, however. He thinks he is the only one who is allowed…typical of brothers. Bowen is an energetic boy with a smile that lights up his face. He always seems to have a secret joke that he keeps inside himself. Something that he finds very funny. That way, he always has something to laugh about.

Bowen pretty much loves anything his daddy, my nephew, Eric Parmely is doing, but Bowen especially loves tractors, and of course, his favorite tractor is Gloria, the family tractor. Living on a farm makes that a good thing. I’m sure that as he gets older, Bowen will be his dad’s right-hand man on the farm. Bowen already loves to help his dad with whatever he is doing, and he truly loves the animals. He is learning to ride horses from his mom, Ashley Parmely, and he is quite good at it. He would gladly spend all day on the back of a horse. In fact, he would even eat his meals or snacks there if his mom would let him. Sometimes he gets to have a popsicle on his horse, but I doubt if his mom would agree to dinner.

Bowen is a very helpful boy. He loves to help his mom with the cooking. Not every boy likes to cook, although lots of men cook. Boys usually don’t have the patience for cooking. There is usually too much prep work, and boys get bored, but Bowen enjoys it. I think Bowen just enjoys spending time with his parents. He likes doing the same things they do and learning from them. That is something they should really enjoy while they can, because those kid years go by so fast. Before you know it, they are all grown up and out on their own. Of course, that is still a little way off, but time really flies, so you should never waste it. Today is Bowen’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Hattie Parmely is just growing up so fast. She and her sister Reagan are homeschooled on their farm by their mom, Ashley Parmely, while their younger brother attends pre-school in town for one more year, and their younger sister, Maeve is in her first year of pre-school in town. Once the two younger kids are done with pre-school, they will be homeschooled too. Hattie and Reagan got to go to Denver with their grandpa, Albert Eighmy recently, to visit their grandma, Kari Eighmy, who was taking some training for work in Denver for a couple of weeks. The girls had a great time.

It’s hard to believe that Hattie is eight years old already. She really seems more mature than that though. I think that is common with farm kids, because part of their everyday life involves the responsibilities of the farm animals, and their care. A lot of kids have chores to do, but the chores of farm kids are very different than the chores of city kids. Hattie and her siblings have witnessed many animal births, and of course some deaths too. They know firsthand what life’s all about. They have mucked stalls, bottle fed the babies, and carried feed to the animals. Of course, there is the fun stuff too. Hattie and her asiblings regularly get to ride their horses, play with the baby goats and kittens, jump on their trampoline, ride round on the tractor with their dad, Eric Parmely. Like most kids these days, Hattie’s driving skills began early when she got her own little car, which is too small for her now, of course. She also likes to float the river with her family, and she is getting really good at maneuvering a kayak.

Hattie and her older sister, Reagan both have their own dog. They are responsible for their own dog’s care. Hattie named her dog Lucy, while Reagan named hers Bristol. The younger children will get a dog of their own when they turn seven. That is the age their parents decided that they were old enough to handle the care of their own dog. Maeve doesn’t care too much that she can’t have a dog yet, especially since they also have several family dogs, but Bowen can’t wait, and isn’t sure he thinks it’s fair that he has to.

Hattie is growing into such a little lady. She has her own style, and it’s perfect for her. She kind of a girly girl, but she can rough and tumble with the best of them. She is a good big sister to Bowen and Maeve, but they do occasionally get on her nerves, as does her sister, Reagan. It’s just the way of having siblings, and anyone who has siblings knows that is true. That’s just how it is. Today is Hattie’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Bowen Parmely is the only boy among the four children of his parents, Ashley and Eric Parmely. Bowen was the third child, and when he was born, Ashley and Eric found out, in no uncertain terms, just how different little boys are from little girls. Bowen is full of energy and, well…zing!! He lights up a room with his smile and laughter, and he is a delight to his parents, but he isn’t above picking on his sisters, Reagan, Hattie, and little Maeve. Just give him a reason…or don’t!! He really doesn’t need a reason, he is a boy, after all.

Bowen likes everything his daddy and his grandpa like. Working on tractors, however, that is top notch for Bowen. Eric has a big tractor, and Bowen would like nothing more than to be on that tractor all day long. His Aunt Brenda Schulenberg even found him a quilt that has tractors all over it last year. Talk about a happy boy. He loved it. Bowen is a farm boy, with all the trimmings. His family raises horses, cows, goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs, cats, and dogs… and speaking of dogs, Bowen’s parents have let each of the kids get their own dog…when they turn 7 years old. That means that Bowen’s older sisters, Reagan and Hattie each have their own dog, that is also their responsibility, and Bowen can’t wait until he is old enough to have his own dog too. Unfortunately for Bowen, that day won’t come for two more years. Until then, he will have to settle for the family dogs.

Bowen really loves all the animals, but he loves the babies the best. On a farm, with a lot of animals, there are always babies coming, and that is ok with Bowen. It is something he shares with his mom. Ashley would have tons of babies too…human and animal. The mothering instinct is very strong in Ashley, and she loves to teach their kids about the animals, life, and how to grow both. The Parmely house is always filled with love, laughter, kids, and animals. When we go out there for family dinners, once a month, it is sure to be fun filled. The kids have a playroom/classroom off of the kitchen (Ashley homeschools the kids, but they did preschool in town which is where Bowen currently goes), so we can observe all the fun, as well as the occasional “turkey at the window” visits. All the kids are very entertaining, but watching Bowen, so full of energy, bouncing around the room on his bouncy horse is always super fun. Today is Bowen’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Tucker Schulenberg has had a rough year, due to the loss of his mother, Rachel Schulenberg on January 19, 2021. Still, Tucker is a good boy, who always made his parents proud. He has a good heart and a loving way about him. When the family gets together for our monthly dinners, Tucker is always willing to hang out and play with his girl cousins, and his boy cousin too. They are all much younger than he is, but that doesn’t make any difference. He never shuns them.

Tucker has his own ideas on most things, and he doesn’t mind telling what they are, but he is also ok with other people having other ideas, something that is somewhat rare in these days of everyone getting offended so easily. Tucker is a Conservative, and he doesn’t mind telling you so. He has a mind of his own, and he makes sure he is informed about the things going on around him. Now, I call that one wise kid.

Tucker came to our family at two years old, when his mom married my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg. Tucker had a. pretty much, absent dad, and he knew that Ron, who was his step-dad then, was going to be a better dad to him. It was Tucker who approached the adoption idea with Ron. Ron was so pleased, because he wanted nothing more than to truly be Tucker’s daddy. That couldn’t happen until Tucker’s real dad decided to allow his parental rights to be terminated. It took a while, but finally the day came, when he said ok. They all went straight to the court house, and signed the paperwork to get everything started. Soon after, on June 27, 2019, it was official, and Tucker was so happy, as were his parents. As it turned out, that adoption was so much more important than any one could have known. Tucker would really need his daddy just 19 months later. Tucker and his dad are doing better these days, but they went through some really hard times. There have been a few things that helped Tucker, mainly the grief camp he went to this past summer. The day camp involved horses, and Tucker, like most of the other campers, really thrived under the program. Tucker even thinks he might want to have a horse of his own. While they are pricey, I think his mom would love that idea. Time will tell if it can be done, but I think someday, he might just make that dream come true. No matter what, things will get better. Today is Tucker’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Reagan Parmely is in the third grade, but she has a very different kind of school day from the kind when I was a kid in the third grade. Reagan and her sister, Hattie are homeschooled, so their day is structured quite differently from a public school. They spend pretty much the same amount of time in class and studies as the public school, but the recess and lunch breaks are very different. I don’t know of any public school where the students can go out for recess and jump on the trampoline, ride a horse, or play with the kittens and baby goats. Nevertheless, that is the kind of things that Reagan and Hattie can do. They also might spend part of their classroom breaks doing a few chores, like feeding the animals or mucking out the stalls and beds of the animals.

When Reagan’s mom, Ashley Parmely decided to homeschool her children, I thought it might be fun to have a play on words with the kids. I asked them, “How do you like your teacher this year?” After giving my an odd look, Reagan and Hattie (who is in 1st grade) have both said, “My mom is my teacher.” That opened up a conversation. I told them I knew that, so how did they like her. Well, they were still confused, because, of course, they “love” her. They said that she was good, and I said that I figured they liked her. They began to catch on, and then laughed a bit. As I said, their schooling is different from pubic school, and it is, in more ways than one. What public school allows the children to hug their teacher, much less tell their teacher they “love” her these days. It is just not done anymore, because everyone is afraid of a lawsuit. I find that really sad.

Life on a farm, being homeschooled has been really good for Reagan and her siblings, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. They love the freedom they have to relax in the schooling situation, and even to sleep in, because if they had to catch a bus for school, they would have to get up much earlier. The kids are also getting an education that is much more expanded than other children. Growing up around animals, watching them give birth, learning to milk a cow or a goat, and even learning about death, because that happens on the farm too. Some animals are raised for food, and that is just a part of life. Reagan is growing up so fast. In so many ways, she is wise beyond her years. She is a good big sister, a good farm girl, and we are all very proud of her. Today is Reagan’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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