My grand niece, Katie Balcerzak is a sweet girl, who absolutely loves just being a mom. She came by that title in a little bit scary fashion, when her daughter, Reece was born over two months early. It was a very scary time for Katie and my grand nephew, Kiefer. It was a time of emergency, and yet it was a time of miracles. They didn’t know what the future would hold for them, but their little girl was a fighter, and she survived. It was during this time that I also realized just how strong Katie and Keifer were. They were living through an incredibly difficult period in their lives, but they stood strong for their little girl. The weeks went by, Christmas passed, then New Years…Valentine’s Day was fast approaching, and then Reece was well enough to go home. Katie and Keifer breathed a sigh of relief…slightly. The worry over premature babies does not leave the parents quickly, but now after the passage of time, they feel safe.
Katie had never wanted anything more than she wanted to be a mom. Almost losing that chance made having their baby girl that much more amazing, and now, each day is a miracle and a gift. Katie knew that this was her calling. She is a mom, and she rejoices at the life she now has, with the love of her life, and the precious child of that love. I could say that for a time Katie had other dreams for her life, but she did not. Before becoming a mom, she was a pre-school teacher. Her love of children has always been there. Any career she might have wanted tended to focus on children. She just has the heart of a mom, and children are her priority. I love seeing pictures of Katie and Reece together. You can feel the love and the bond they share.
Katie, is more than just a mom, though. She is a best friend. She is thoughtful, and very caring. Many is the time when she has posted something or said something that, whether she knew it or not, I or someone else really needed to hear right then. An encouraging word, spoken or posted at just the right moment, can be so powerful. It has the power to heal, and bring joy to a heart that is hurting. Having the ability to deliver those words at just the right time is a great gift. It is one that Katie has, and it is to her credit. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The other day, I saw on her Facebook, where my grand nephew, Ethan Hadlock’s mom, Chelsea Hadlock had registered him for middle school for the fall semester. Chelsea mentioned that she suddenly felt old, and I found myself shocked that Ethan could be so grown up…already!! My sister and Ethan’s grandmother, Allyn Hadlock told me, “It seems like just yesterday that he was 2 and I was chasing him around our house. He loved the chasing game and I would catch him and give him little love pat spankins.” None of us can believe that he is almost in middle school now. The time has flown by so fast. While Ethan is growing up fast, he is not outgrowing everything he likes to do. He still loves games, but now it’s board games, “I Spy” games, video games, and sports. Typical of kids his age.
Ethan loves to get together with the whole family. He is a very social kid, and the family had a great time at Christmas and New Year’s. They hung out and enjoying each other’s company. They played bingo, letting Ethan and his sister, Aurora Hadlock take turns being the bingo callers. They loved rolling the cage around and getting the numbers out. Ethan is very kind and empathetic, and he truly cares about people. He wants to make sure that family and friends around him are comfortable and feel loved. He really is the sweetest boy, and it is something our whole family knows. Ethan’s dad, Ryan Hadlock is a playful teaser from way back, and Ethan has proven to be a quick study in that art. He has already started giving all of the family a hard time whenever he gets a chance.
Ethan and his cousin, Adelaide Sawdon have formed a special bond and can often be found “securing the perimeter” anytime they are together. Apparently, they both have an interest in spy games. They take their toys guns (whether an actual toy gun or a stick they have fashioned into one) and walk around the area we are in to ensure no spies, enemies, or unwanted guests can get in. He takes care to be patient and kind when explaining the rules of the game to his younger cousins, so they have a chance to play with their older and “adored” Ethan. He is so fun loving and the best nephew in our family…never mind that he is the only nephew!! His sweetness would still make his the best one.
With each birthday, the birthday boy or girl gets to choose where the family goes for dinner, and Ethan didn’t hesitate to choose Buffalo Wild Wings for his dinner tonight, so the family will all gather there to eat wings and celebrate their little boy, who isn’t so little anymore. Ethan is now almost 5 feet tall. It looks like Ethan will take after his dad and grandpa, Chris Hadlock, both of whom are very tall. Ethan has so much going for him. He is such a good kid…both kind and tender hearted. He is the kind of kid you like to have around. Today is Ethan’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grandnephew, James Renville is one of the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful young men that people could ever know. This is information that comes to me from the people who know him the best, and not just one of them, but rather all of them. James is a family man who dearly loves his family. For James, family comes first, and he always puts them first, even if he has to change his own plans. He is soft spoken, and thinks before he speaks, making sure that his words do not hurt others. James always thinks the best of people, even if others don’t necessarily see good in them. James looks in their heart.
As a little boy, James was very into the Ninja Turtles, and he went through a Mortal Kombat phase. For several Christmases, all he wanted for Christmas was the costumes for Mortal Kombat and Ninja Turtles. Thankfully, my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is James’ grandmother, had the talent to make those costumes, and James was delighted in them and played with them constantly…over any other toys he had, in fact. James, Aunt Jenny Spethman was the only person to babysit him, other that his grandma, of course. James would always talk life with Jenny’s boys, and always on their level. He is always playing along with Jenny’s daughter, Aleesia such as pretending that her little vile of water is actually flower potion that he is going to pour on her brothers.
James has a great sense of humor, and loves to pull pranks on his dad, Jim Renville, and his step-dad, Dave Chase. With Dave, James might wake him from a dead sleep while he records the reaction or kicking the soccer ball into the water on the beach so that they have to go get it or saying something stupid while Dave is doing talk to text and then reaching over and hitting send before Dave has time to erase it. Hahaha!! Those guys really have to be on their toes when James is around. While James’ mom, my niece, Toni Chase doesn’t get to see the pranks he pulls on his dad, I’m quite certain that they are just as good. James is quite well known for his pranks, his sense of humor, and the fact that it’s all done in good clean fun, and never in a malicious way. You don’t expect the “victims” of a prank to enjoy the experience, but James’ “victims” actually do. The truth is that he likes to make others laugh (especially himself) at the expense of those he is pranking. He claims that he’s nothing like his dad but he really, he is a lot like his dad. Kids can rarely see that, at least until hey get older. He likes to make the ones he loves smile or do things to make them happy…Dave included. And of course, no pranking story would be complete without mentioning the fact that he is always trying to steal hugs from his Aunt Liz Masterson, because she pretends she doesn’t want them.
James is a self-disciplined man. He eats right and watches his spending. He loves to travel, especially in Europe, and he is saving his money from his job in the parks department for the City of Casper. His plan is to take another European vacation hopefully next year after college is out for the summer, or after he finishes college. It is my guess that James will make a number of trips there in the future. James has big plans for his future, and I know that he will be very successful. Today is James’ 21st birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grand nephew, Ethan Hadlock, who is the son of my nephew Ryan Hadlock and his wife, Chelsea, is such a sweet boy. I had the chance to talk to my sister, Alena Stevens, who works at Verda James Elementary School, where Ethan and his sister Aurora go to school, and I asked her about Ethan from a school perspective…not because I expected him to be very different than he is at home, but because she would see him from a different perspective than his parents or grandparents. What she told me, was a very nice, pleasant surprise, in a way, and yet, not totally unexpected, because as she told me about it, I could totally see Ethan in her words.
Alena told me that Ethan is a good boy, and a good student, a fact that was corroborated by his mother’s words that he is rated as exceptional in his class in reading and math. For a parent, hearing that your children are well behaved and well liked in school, is quite rewarding, because it speaks to their parenting skills. Ryan and Chelsea are good parents, and they have raised beautiful, loving children. Alena told me that he made friends quickly and easily, when he came to Verda James, and as anyone who has changed schools before will tell you, making new friends can be hard. Not for Ethan though. He is just such a pleasant, kind, and well behaved boy, that kids are naturally drawn to him. Ethan is always cheerful, and as I said, kind, and one thing that sometimes doesn’t happen…good to his little sister. He always makes sure that she is where she needs to be, and that she has everything she needs. You often see a little girl who motherly, but boys don’t always take the time to help their younger siblings. Ethan is an exception to that rule. As much as he is all boy, he is still good to Aurora, and that makes his stand out to those adults, and children too, around him. Ethan is starting to get into Lego Robotics, and really loves it. He still loves Star Wars, and enjoys playing Minecraft too.
Probably the most surprising thing that my sister told me was the little story about the Book Fair. She told me that Ethan doesn’t like to burden anyone. He wanted a book from the Book Fair, but didn’t want to bother his mom by asking for the money. He kept bringing what he had from home not knowing it wasn’t enough. Nevertheless, he tried to get a little more money and even brought in a gift card he had received. The librarian felt so bad that he didn’t have enough, so she just took what he had and gave him the book. Knowing his parents, as we do, we know that his mom would have gladly given him the money, but he just didn’t want to burden her. What a kind, loving boy!! Today is Ethan’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! You are never a burden!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
It is so hard for me to believe that as of today, it has been three years since Walter Schulenberg, my father-in-law, left us to go to Heaven. For 38 years he had been such an integral part of my life. From the first time I met him, he made me feel welcome. It was as if I had been a part of this family all my life. My father-in-law had such a gentle, kind way about him. I really don’t think that there was a single person that ever considered him anything but a friend. He just wasn’t the kind of man to create enemies…just more and more friends. His laugh alone was a friend making machine.
My father-in-law worked assorted jobs over the years, but his last job before retiring was with Casper College, where he was officially in maintanence, but in reality he was a jack of all trades. I have to think that one of the jobs he did at the College, if you could call it a job, was to drive the bus for the T-Birds. He went on a number of trips with them, and saw some great places. He got to see the ocean again. It was not the first time by any means, but he did love the ocean, and really enjoyed walking in the sand with his bare feet, something you seldom saw anywhere else. He almost always had shoes on.
He was the kind of man who would go out of his way to help others, and did his best not to ask for anythng in return. Nevertheless, in his last few years, he and my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg needed help. He had Emphesyma and she had Alzheimer’s disease. The family stepped in to help, and I had the ability to be the main caregiver. I say ability, but in reality, it was a blessing to me. We became so close over those last years, and it is a time that, even though it was the ending days of his life, I still cherish. I wish those hadn’t been the last years of his life, but I am thankful for the close relationship my being over at their house so much created. He said I was a blessing to him, but I think it was the other way around. Dad, I can’t believe you have been gone for three years already. We love and miss you very much.
My Uncle Jim Richards is a family man with deep values and loyalties. He is not one to turn away anyone in need. His home has been a shelter for a number of different people over the years. That said, I can tell you that his home has also been very blessed because of his generosity too. I don’t think that we can be givers in this world without God returning good things to us too. Uncle Jim and his wife, my Aunt Dixie have been blessed with three children, Jeannie Liegman, Jim Richards, and Raylynn Williams, as well as five grandsons and one granddaughter. They are a close family, who gets together every day. I suppose that there are people who think that is odd, but I think it is wonderful. Children and grandchildren are among God’s greatest blessings, and to have them close is priceless…and any grandparent who doesn’t get to watch their grandchildren grow up would tell you the same thing. Those years go by so fast. You have to enjoy while you can.
Uncle Jim is a gentle man with soft spoken way. I’m sure he could get angry if the situation warranted it, but I’ve never seen him angry. That says a lot about his level of patience…to be around all the kids in our whole family, all being rowdy at the same time, and to still have patience with them…amazing. It is especially amazing when the children are not his. That is just the kind of uncle he is though.
Uncle Jim has always been a soft spoken man, with a great smile. His joy in life shows all over his face. Uncle Jim and his family have always lived in the country, raising chickens and such. it seemed a life he was suited to. Over the years, they have taken care of many of the children in the family while their parents worked. I have spoken to several of them, and they all have fond memories of their time at Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim’s place. Every one of them had a wonderful time out there. That speaks volumes about the loving atmosphere they built into their home. When the children in your care have fond memories of the time they spent there…even when they are adults, you are doing something right. Today is Uncle Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Eighteen years…not so many really, but in the life of a child, it’s…well, a lifetime…or at least a childhood. And then, that part of their life is over. They have graduated from high school, and begin their journey into the life of their choosing. That is a big step, and often one that their parents and grandparents aren’t really ready to have them take…but they are ready, and they will take that next step. I think that for this grandma, the hardest part of this particular now eighteen year old, is that my grandson, Caalab Royce has moved the furthest away, with no plans to move back here again. Usually when kids go away to college, they come home a lot during the year, but his parents moved to Washington and his school is there, so he won’t be coming here like his cousin, Chris Petersen does.
Thinking back on the years of Caalab’s life, my mind brings so many different moments to mind. Caalab was always my really huggy child, and anyone who knows him knows of his love of long hair. He couldn’t keep his fingers out of my long hair from the time he was just six months old. While I have had many children pull on or play with my hair, no other child was as gentle with it as Caalab was. Even at six months, he never pulled on it. If his play got to the point where it accidently pulled a little, I just told him to be gentle, and he was.
Caalab spent the night with us more than the other kids too. He just liked spending time with his Gma and Papa. Many kids grow out of that pretty early on, but he never did, and now that he lives so far away, those times that he spent the night become treasured memories for me. It didn’t matter what we did while he was there…even just watching television, because what mattered was that we got to spend together. He just liked being with us. Somehow, that never ceased to amaze me. It was a blessing beyond measure.
Caalab has changed in many ways over the years, and yet really, so very little. He is a loving, caring person with a tender heart. He hates to think that he might have hurt someone’s feelings, and will go out of his way to apologize or make amends if he thinks he might have hurt your feelings. It is a very endearing quality to have. It is also a quality that causes him to be one of the kindest people I have ever met. He is fun to be around, and loves people. That makes him a very social person, who can be friends with anyone. Nevertheless, Caalab is a family sort of guy. He loves his parents and grandparents, and his sister, Shai considers him her best friend. And I can totally relate to that. He may be my grandson, but Caalab is my friend too, and since I am a family oriented person too, he is one of my very best friends. Today is Caalab’s 18th birthday, and the first one I really haven’t spent with him, and while that makes me sad, I hope this is the best birthday for him ever. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have an awesome day!! We love you!!
As a little girl, I always loved my Aunt Delores Johnson. She had such a positive outlook on life, almost like she had some secret joyful memories in her mind. What a wonderful way to be. Aunt Dee and my mom were always good friends, as well as sisters. Her children, Ellen, Elmer, Darla, and Delwin were of similar age to my sisters and me, so it was always fun when we got together.
As my parents’ second child, I was at an age where I was feeling a little bit left out of things when my older sister, Cheryl got to spend the night with her friends. That said, I decided to see if I could spend the night with a friend too, and somehow the one I chose was my cousin, Elmer. Needless to say, I was at an age when the fact that he was a boy and I was a girl had no effect on my thinking. Mom and her sister decided that it would be ok for me to stay, but unbeknownst to me, the plan included the fact that I would be sleeping with Elmer’s younger sister, Darla. Now, Darla was the age of my younger sister, Caryl, so that made her three years younger than me, and not a prime choice for the sleeping arrangement, as far as I was concerned. Nevertheless, I was overruled, and the plan went on as they had decided. In the end, I had fun, but as I recall, Darla had a tendency to kick, so I don’t think I slept very well, but I did get to spend the night with a friend, so I guess I was happy about that. Still, I never forgot having to sleep with Darla, or the lesson I had learned…that when picking a friend to spend the night with, it is probably best, in my case anyway, to make it a girlfriend.
Aunt Dee was always fun to be around, even if I wasn’t spending the night, which I believe only happened once for obvious reasons. She smiled a lot, and had a very kind and loving spirit, and a great laugh. She was the kind of person who got along with everyone, but if you went up against her family, you better watch out, because she would protect them to the end, and isn’t that the kind of person you would want to have in your corner? While I must say that my spending the night experience was a bit of a disappointment, Aunt Dee did it in the kindest way possible, and I guess you might say she was protecting my honor, or my reputation, even though at my young age it probably wasn’t necessary. Nevertheless, Aunt Dee and my mom were always ones to do the right thing. Today would have been my Aunt Dee’s 83rd birthday, and I miss her very much. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We love you.