Las Vegas

My grand nephew, James Renville got the “travel bug” early on in his life. The first trip he took was when he was just when he was just 3 weeks old. His parents, my niece Toni Chase and her then husband, Jim Renville to their newborn son to meet his grandpa in North Dakota. Many babies don’t do well on long trips, but James was calm throughout the seven hour drive. He was such a good baby for them. The only times he fussed was when he was hungry, and then it wasn’t much fussing. Really, from that point on, James was at his most calm when he was traveling. His mom says that he “knew what vacation meant from the start.”

Toni read somewhere, and many of us have always thought the same thing, that when you are an “only child,” like James is, that “you are likely to mature early and manifest adult behaviors an attitudes.” I’m sure it is because they around adults so much. That was never made more clear to her than when they went on the first trip that James was old enough to really know what was going on. They took James to the water park in South Dakota. He really had a blast, but he refused to go on any of the “kiddie slides” or “baby slides,” as he called them. While that was great for James, it meant that since James really was a “kiddie” or “baby” himself, he also couldn’t go on the big slides without an adult. So, his mom and dad had to go up and down the steep hills, carrying James most of the way, in the 90° heat to get to the slides. The plan had been to let the kids…James and his cousins…play for a while, and then head home in the afternoon. Well, when everyone else was ready to go…the cousins had already fallen asleep, James definitely was not. He wasn’t one bit tired, or as his mom puts it, “Not even a yawn!” They ended up staying until the park closed.

Last August, James took a trip with some friends of his. It was a chance to say goodbye to summer, and to one friend who was leaving to start his career in the Air Force. For James, it was also a way to “say goodbye” to being a kid. College was over, and everything was going to be different now. The friends went to Denver to cut loose a little bit. They went to Eliches, went clubbing, and checked out some of the breweries. Toni began to think of what was coming next. She wanted things to be good for James, and he did love to travel. He had taken tips to the Netherlands and Spain, and she wanted to do something fun for him.

Toni and her husband, Dave Chase began to plan their own travels and some trips for James too. Things started off really well. Toni and Dave took him to a concert at Red Rocks in Denver. It was to be the first of several fun trips the family would take, including a trip to San Diego with Toni and Dave. The San Diego trip was amazing too. They spent 5 days there. They planned activities for every day. They went to an air show that Toni is sure James only went to “for her.” Then afterward, James said it wasn’t what he had expected. He said he had a great time. Then they went to a festival in La Jolla, several beaches on the ocean, the Cabrillo National Monument and the surrounding area, and the brewery district in the San Diego area…then relaxed at the resort.

After these trips, the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, and the whole world went into turmoil. For James that meant no trip to Las Vegas with his dad, Jim and the rest of their pool team for his first pool tournament, and trip that was to be the “Shangri La” of them all, James’ long awaited trip to the western coast of South America. He had planned to take that one last year, but couldn’t get the time off from his job. Now, it is all on hold, until the trips can be rearranged, and who knows how long that will be. Still, James really was born with the “traveling bug” and he has been building his skills for years. He is very driven and never wants to miss a thing. His past trips have included the Rocky Mountain Region (Wyoming, Montana, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Colorado), the deserts of Nevada, the lakes of Arizona, the beaches of Florida, the ocean surrounding California, the eastern shores of Virginia and Washington DC, the costal plains of Alabama, the French Quarter of New Orleans nd Louisiana, the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and far beyond the northern hemisphere to see parts of the Netherlands and Spain. While some of his trips were cancelled or postponed this year, there is always next year. For James…well, next up is Peru, and it will be amazing!! Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens loves all things sports. He really needs a dedicated sports television. I would like to say that the man cave he now has is that dedicated sports television, but my sister, Alena tells me that he “takes control of whatever television he is at.” Mike’s favorite teams are the Colorado Rockies and the Denver Broncos…smart man. Those are my favorite teams too. Mike also loves to watch NASCAR, golf, basketball, bowling, well…the list could go on forever. If it’s sports, he will watch it…or play it.

Mike loves to golf, and has golfed in Buffalo, Wyoming; Cheyenne, Wyoming; North Platte, Nebraska, and he has played in some of the nicest courses around the country when he has been on business trips. Mike’s business trips have afforded him a few other opportunities as well. He got to sit in a suite while watching the Dallas Stars play hockey, and was served catered “snacks”…which were amazing, from what I hear…and of course, the whole thing was free of charge, because they like to treat these guys well on the business trips. He has also gone to Avalanche hockey games.

While watching the games is great, Mike is a sportsman in his own right. He has bowled for years, and gone to many bowling tournaments over the years. They have also traveled for other sporting events, going to Las Vegas and Bristol, Tennessee for NASCAR, and of course, Denver for baseball and football. He played softball, in the position of short stop for many teams, but mostly for the Salt Creek Mudders. He played basketball on a City League for years. Mike’s love of all things sports has spilled over to his family, or maybe they just learned to love sports because there was nothing else on television. I doubt that was the case, because he isn’t a meanie, after all, they just got caught up in his enthusiasm, and learned about the sports too. Every year, the Stevens family has a horseshoe tournament during their annual family reunion at Boysen Reservoir. Mike is so good at horseshoes, that he is usually the champion of the tournament. He is so good that he used to get into tournaments in Midwest, Wyoming where he earned money for his ability.

Probably the biggest news for Mike this year, however, has been his new pickup. Mike has never has a new vehicle, and he has wanted a new pickup for years. This past year, that dream became a reality, when he got to buy a 2016 Ford F250 pickup. He is so excited about it, and his family couldn’t be happier for him. Getting a brand new vehicle is a very big deal. His daughter, Michelle tells me that the picture of his pickup has be his phone’s screen saver since his got the pickup. It wasn’t a birthday present, but it was exciting anyway, and his family thinks it was a vehicle that was well deserved. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I DoAt the Grand CanyonSince her marriage on February 14, 2014, my niece Lindsay Moore has been a business entrepreneur at Moore Healthy Living LLC, which is her own business. She is also a part of the South Dakota State University Extension program, where she is a Grants Consultant. All this allows Lindsay to work from home and who wouldn’t want that if they could. Lindsay’s husband, Shannon Moore is the Special Teams Football Coach at Miami International University, and a part of his job includes a lot of travel. The could be hard if it weren’t for the fact that Lindsay works from home. A laptop can travel, and it is all she needs to do her work. That allows Lindsay to travel with Shannon wherever he goes. I think that is important in any marriage, but especially in a young marriage. Of course, since Lindsay and Shannon live in Miami, Florida, their lifestyle of much travel also allows them to come home to Wyoming and South Dakota periodically to see family, and I know that means a lot to their parents.

The nice thing about being free to travel, and having the ability to do so, is that you tend to be gone for extended periods of time…at least in the off season for football. This year’s summer tour included a trip to With Shannon's parentsSouth Dakota to visit Shannon’s parents, then the whole crew continued their visit with a trip to the Black Hills, where they connected with Lindsay’s parents over the Independence Day holiday. Then, Shannon’s parents headed home, and Lindsay, Shannon and her family headed to Cooke City, Montana and other areas of the state for a week. After that, Lindsay and Shannon headed to Las Vegas for the wedding of friends, before finally heading back home by way of Arizona. In all it was quite a trip. I’m sure they were happy to be home in the end, but the trip was nice too.

Lindsay and Shannon are so perfect together. They both have such great personalities, and such outgoing spirits. They have had the opportunity to live in a variety of places, and while Lindsay credits Shannon for making it easy to make their moves and settle in, I know that because Lindsay never met someone she didn’t like, making new friends wherever she goes is a breeze for her. They both love camping, which is perfect for spending time with Lindsay’s parents, and probably Shannon’s too. Lindsay loves almost any form of exercise, being an exercise science major in college, so hiking or jogging on the many trails that crisscross our country is something that I’m sure will be on the agenda for many trips they will take.

With Allyn and ChrisLindsay and ShannonWhile it would be nice to have them live closer to home, I’m sure that is not to be…at least not anytime soon. So, if we can’t have them closer to home, it is really nice that they do get lots of travel time so we get to see them, because as Lindsay always says, “I miss your face!” Yes, Lindsay and Shannon, we miss your faces too. We are thankful for Facebook so we can see your faces there from time to time. And as always, we can’t wait to see you the next time you come home. Today is Lindsay’s birthday. Happy birthday Lindsay!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

JamesSome kids take to having their parents leave them with a grandparent or aunt while they go out of town better than other kids do, and I suppose that as an only child, my grand nephew, James Renville felt that he shouldn’t be left out of anything, and for the most part he wasn’t. One advantage to being an only child is that you have the full attention of your parents most of the time. When James was five years old, his parents, my niece Toni Chase, and her husband at the time, Jim Renville, decided to go to Las Vegas for the weekend. They left James with my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is his grandmother, and headed out for a nice weekend.

Now, I can tell you that James had a wonderful time, because when his parents came back, he was in the back yard playing cops and robbers with his cousins, Garrett Stevens and Jake Harman. When Jim said his name, he turned and pretended to shoot his dad. Then, he ran and hid under the picnic Teenaged James_editedtable. When his dad picked him up, he said, “Take me to Steve’s…he’s my daddy now!” Steve Spethman, being his uncle had apparently now become the guy he wanted to replace his dad when he was mad at him. Of course, he would never shoot his dad, and he didn’t want a new daddy, but he had been feeling a little bit abandonded, and so was a little mad at his parents. After about an hour, he forgave them, and that horrendous, but in reality kind of fun, first weekend away from his parents was over. James stayed with his grandmother other times, and had no issues with it, so apparently he wasn’t traumatized too much.

He wasn’t traumatized on that issue anyway. One day, when James was in preschool, his mother, my niece, Toni Chase was getting him ready to go to school, and he was throwing a fit because she was dressing him in a pair of adorable green bib overalls, and a Bob the Builder t-shirt. Toni thought they were adorable. James was fighting her every step of the way. Finally in frustration she asked him why he didn’t want to wear them. His 10401458_10152102088472237_3870755221038856524_nanswer was, “Cuz, I’m too cool!!” Aparently Bob the Builder simply wasn’t cool at all, so that would traumatize him.

For some reason, while most parents threaten their children with the other parent when they are acting out, Toni and Jim used to threaten James with his Aunt Chantel Balcerzak, who is Toni’s sister. Now personally, I can’t see that as a threat, because, Chantel is a real softy, but that is what they did. When I talked to Chantel about all this, she told me that she simply doesn’t know how James turned out to be so sweet, but he did. And anyone who knows him would have to agree. James is a real sweetie. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

SurroundedBestiesI think it’s a good thing that my niece, Machelle Moore likes to do a lot of outdoor, tomboy kinds of things, because with a husband and two sons, she is pretty much surrounded by those things. Her family loves to go camping and recently purchased her parent’s old travel trailer. They love spending time up in the Big Horn Mountains. The boys get to have lots of time to get out of town and do something different, and for Machelle, that is what it’s all about…spending time with her family and watching her boys grow up. Of course, being married to, Steve, the love of her life is one of the things that is closest to Machelle’s heart, and something that has made her life wonderful for the past fifteen years. Doing things with her three boys is what she most likes to do.

Machelle also likes to get away once in a while and go to Las Vegas with her sister, Susan Griffith or her aunt, Rachel Schulenberg. The fast paced party lifestyle is fun to go participate in once in a while, and since her husband, Steve doesn’t like to rally travel much, he stays home with the boys so she can go and have a good time. She also likes to come to Casper sometimes to visit family members here, and while the boys come with her about half the time, they don’t always. Since she and Rachel were good friends before Rachel married her Uncle Ron, and moved to Casper, it is one way to spend time with her friend.

Machelle always liked to come to Casper to visit though. When she came down with her mom, Debbie Cook, to visit her grandparents. As a little girl, she always seemed especially excited to come and spend time with them. As they grew older, she would come and cut their hair for them. She was their personal hair stylist, and that is Sistersscan0001not an easy thing to have these days, but nevertheless, they had their own personal hair stylist…their granddaughter, Machelle. I suppose that the fact that she loved them with all her heart, did have something to do with that privilege. Machelle would do just about anything for her grandparents. And that has endeared her to many of us in the family. Machelle is simply a good hearted person, and the kind of friend you want to have. Today is Machelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes in life, an opportunity presents itself, and if you work hard…harder that you ever thought possible, something totally awesome can come your way. That is exactly what happened to the Casper, Wyoming, Kelly Walsh High School Cheerleaders this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Kelly Walsh Cheerleaders, of which my niece Siara is a member, have been in other competitions, but this one is special…it is The American Grand. It’s the big one…Nationals!!!

The Kelly Walsh Cheerleaders had already won the State Championships this year, so we all knew that they were special, but Nationals is where you separate the best from the rest!! Nerves are raw, the tension is high, your stomach is doing as many flips as the cheer squad, and yet…you know that you have to do your part…you have to pull your weight…you have to stick every landing, and make every move perfect, because only the best will do in this competition. And you are competing against the best squads in the United States.

Our family has been very proud of Siara’s participation in cheerleading. She has a great personality and sense of style, along with a smile that could light up a cloudy day. She has worked hard, and earned her place in this squad each year. Cheerleading is a part of her now. Siara is a senior this year, and knowing that her high school cheerleading days are almost over, has made her sad at times. Still, there is no better way to end your high school cheerleading career that to go out as both a State Champion and a National Champion!! It doesn’t get better than that!

National Champions…it is a title that has rolled around in the minds of these girls ever since they won the state competition and found out that they were heading to Las Vegas right before Christmas. Could they pull it off? Would their hard work be enough to win this competition? Only time would tell. So, they worked hard and prepared…practicing their routines over and over. Then, less than a week before they were to leave for Vegas, one of the members had to have surgery, and everything changed…from the routines, to the hearts of the girls, who were heartsick for their teammate. Again, the girls stepped up and worked hard to re-vamp their routines.

These girls not only proved that they had the ability to work hard…they proved that they are champions!! Against all odds and adversity, they stuck it out, put big smiles on their faces, and wowwed the judges, to take first place in the Varsity Non-Stunt Division. They are and forever will be National Champions!! I am very proud of my niece, Siara and the Kelly Walsh Cheerleaders!! Congratulations to you all!!

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