Leap Day

When it comes to birthdays, my granddaughter, Shai Royce is still losing ground. While most people who were born in 1996 are turning 24 years old this year, Shai is still spinning her training wheels at 6 years old. Of course, it all started 24 years ago, and when it came time for Shai’s first birthday, it was mysteriously missing. February 28th arrived, and her cousin, Chris turned 1 year old, but then the date went to March 1st, and Shai’s birthday was not there. The same thing happened when Chris turned 2 years old and 3 years old, and Shai’s birthday was missing both times. Then, when Chris turned 4 years old, Shai’s birthday suddenly reappeared, but the damage had been done. Chris was 4 years old, and Shai was only 1 year old. Shai has been continuing to lose ground in this manner ever since that time. This year, Chris is 24 years old, and Shai is only 6 years old…and yet, they were born one day apart. Shai has been getting ripped off ever since.

People born on February 29th go through this situation every year. Their birthdays are not guaranteed. They get them, but only every 4th year. Most of them really like it, however, because let’s face it…it is unique!! Everyone wants their birthday to be special, but for the Leap Day Baby, birthdays are the most unique of all. On the off years, they can pick their day…the 28th or the 1st, or they can just celebrate both days. Then, on their on year, many of them have an extra big blow out bash!! It’s a win-win situation. Their payback for those missed birthday years.

Shai has several things that make her unique including her birthday. Her name is unique…at least in the United States. Shai is a Hebrew name that means gift…and that she is, but this year she has one other unique credit to add to her repertoire. Shai is quite possibly the youngest licensed insurance agent ever!! I mean, how many 6 year old insurance agents do you know? I would guess none!! Shai is a wonderfully unique kind of girl, and I’m very proud of all she has accomplished. Today is Shai’s 6th official birthday!! Happy (unofficial) 24th birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Leap Day babies only get an official birthday every four yeas. According to tradition, on the off years, a Leap Day baby gets to celebrate their birthday on February 28th, March 1st, or both. I suppose they look at it this way…their actual birthday gets lost in time 3 years out of 4, so they have to make due with the other days. And maybe they even have a right to celebrate for two days. It seems strange to celebrate a lost day, but that is what they do. My granddaughter, Shai Royce is a Leap Day baby, and she has had her years of celebrating her day on the 28th, the 1st, and both, but for the most part, she chooses the 1st for her three off year birthdays. I have always celebrated her off year birthdays on March 1st, because the 28th was her great grandmother, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday, as well as her cousin, Chris Petersen’s birthday. Chris was born one day before Shai, so that day just made no sense to me. Nevertheless, tradition allows her to celebrate on both days, and so , in order to make sure that she and anyone who knows her don’t think I forgot her birthday, I at least send her a text that says, “Happy first day of your birthday.” It actually should have said, “Happy first day of your missing birthday!!

Having a birthday that goes missing three years out of four could tend to give a person a bit of a complex, but I think that most Leap Day babies look at it as have a really special day every four years, and a really special situation the other three years. It is unusual to have your birthday disappear, after all. In the United States, as of 2016 (the last Leap Year), there are currently only 187,000 people who were born on Leap Day, plus approximately four million others from around the world. Babies have a one in 1,461 chance of being born on Leap Day. That makes my girl very special, in the world’s view. Of course, I always knew she was very special.

Shai has always been a hard worker with a heart of gold. She is good at so many things. She is great with children, and she could easily have been a nurse, or something in the health care line. She has a bubbly personality, and a smile that lights up her whole face. Her beautiful expressive eyes welcome you into her wolrd. She brings the sunshine into the room with her, when she walks in. I never would have expected that Shai would be my only granddaughter, but that has turned out to be the way it was. We used to love to do our nails together, and when she got into hiking, we hiked together. She was a great companion…until she moved to Washington state. That and the day her family moved were very sad days for me. I miss my beautiful granddaughter very much, but I know that she is living life her way, and that is the best thing I could ask for her…other than an awesome missing birthday day. To day is the second day of Shai’s missing birthday. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Birthday GirlBirthday Surprise 6Every four years, our calendar has an extra day…February 29th. Now, to most people, that is a novelty, but to my granddaughter, Shai Royce…that day is very special. If you only got a real birthday every four years, I’m sure you would think that day is quite special too. Shai has not always embraced every aspect of a Leap Day birthday, such as having the three grandsons in the family inform you that they are older than you, even though two of them were born after you. These days, Shai embraces Leap Day, because of it’s pure novelty, and someday she will really love it. Just think, when she’s 64 years old, she will, in reality, be 16. Who can say that? Only a Leap Day Baby, and that’s because…well, Leap Happens, and when it does, people don’t age in quite the same way.

This year looked like it was going to be a bit lonlier for Shai, but her brother, Caalab surprised her with a visit all the way from Seattle, Washington. Shai was completely shocked, and so was I. That sneaky little brother of hers managed to swear everyone who knew to secrecy, so Shai, her grandpa, and I were completely in the dark. When her family moved to the Seattle area, Shai decided to stay in Casper, and now she has taken a page out of her mom’s book. She is in the insurance industry and working with her very blessed grandma…me, at The Stengel Agency. Like her mom, she started out as a CSR, and is learning the insurance ropes. Who knows, she might even become an agent like her mom and grandma someday. I am very proud of all that she has learned here. She handles changes, payments, filing, and phones with ease. I think she comes from good insurance stock. She is doing so well for someone so young…I mean how many 5 year olds do you know who work in insurance?

This is the first year that Shai has lived on her own too, and I am very proud of how she has handled that. She is quite stubborn about accepting help with anything, and insists on paying for herself. Most of the time I let Birthday SurpriseBirthday Surprise 2her too, but sometimes, like her birthday lunch, I have to put my grandma’s foot down. Of course, she is much like all my kids and grandkids. They are just responsible people, and I am proud of each and every one of them. Shai may only be five years old, but Shai the adult, shows me often that she has earned her twenty years, and her adulthood. I can’t believe that now two of my grandchildren are in their twenties. It seems totally impossible!! Where have the years gone? Today is Shai’s 20th birthday. Happy 5th Leap Day birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Glamorous ShaiMy dear granddaughter, Shai, it seems like just yesterday that we were so excited about having a Leap Day Baby. Little did we know then, that our little Leap Day Girl would also be our only granddaughter. Time has flown by so quickly, and I can’t believe that at 4½ years of age, you are going to be graduating from high school. Like most kids, it seems like just yesterday that you were born, but while time has indeed flown by, you have managed to age much slower than most kids…not a bad thing for a girl, because as we all know, women want to fight age with everything they have.

All kidding aside, we are so proud of all you have accomplished. You have reached a milestone today…one that will change you forever. High school graduation is the real completion of your childhood. You are no longer a little girl, but rather a woman he has earned the right to make her own decisions and plans, and set her own goals. I can’t believe that this day is really here. You really should be just a little teeny girl…a real 4 year old, and yet here you are…a grown woman. You talked with me about your plans, and when I listen to you, I hear a wise woman. You may not know exactly where you want your life to go, but you know where you don’t want it to go, and sometimes that is as wise as knowing the destination. Your journey will take you step by step toward the woman you want to be, and as long as you let God lead you, you will have great success.

Though your plans are keeping you close to home right now, I still feel a loneliness in my heart, because in my memory files, I can still see the little girl you were, and I miss her. You had a way of ruling the roost when it came to your brother and your cousins, Chris and Josh…when you were little anyway. They have become much more your allies now…and your friends, not just your brother and cousins. I remember the times…not so long ago, when we painted your tiny little fingernails, and you felt so grown up, then you told me that mine were “a meth and I better fixth them” if they were chipped. You were a born shopper. As a little girl, you could not see the problem with that. You told your mom to “just sharge it!!” That was a statement that always brought us a laugh. You were the type of little girl who simply never saw the problem with things. In your mind there was always a clear solution…except when other people didn’t agree with your solution. Then, oh my gosh…we met the Drama Queen.
Shai Graduation Picture
Now, suddenly…right before our eyes, the Drama Queen is drifting away. We almost never see her anymore, and in her place stands a beautiful woman, who is ready to take on the world with style and grace. You have such new found confidence, and with your take charge personality, I know that you will be successful at whatever you do. I want all your dreams to come true, but for the selfish part of me, I hope that your dreams won’t take you far away, because I would miss my girl terribly. We are so proud of the woman you have become. Words can’t fully express just how proud. We love you so much. Congratulations on your high school graduation my dear granddaughter, Shai!! Way to go!!

View More: http://poeticimagesphotography.pass.us/royce-senior-shootLittle KidderEach year, every living person gets to have that one day that is their own special day, their birthday…right? Well, not exactly. While that is true for most people, for those people who were born on Leap Day, three out of four birthdays pass in just the twinkling of an eye…in a mere nano-second…that fraction of a second between February 28th and March 1st. February 29th doesn’t exist except every four years, and yet I know that my granddaughter’s birthday must exist each year, because I was there eighteen years ago when she made her grand entrance into this world. Now we have arrived these eighteen years later, at the first nano-birthday where she is unofficially an adult. The fact that she will graduate from high school this year means she must be an adult, and yet officially, she is only 4 1/2 years old, so how can it be that she is now an adult. Nevertheless, she is, and as her grandmother, I couldn’t be more stunned if I tried.

Looking back on the years that have gone by, at her transformation from infant, to toddler, to adolescent, to teenager, and now to adult, all I can say is how can this be? Before me now, stands a beautiful young woman, who is ready in every way to start making her own decisions about where her life will take her, but to me, she will always be that little teeny girl who stole our hearts away when she became our first and only granddaughter. From the first time she wanted me to paint her fingernails, to the times she has told me that my nails were “a meth, and I had better fixth them”, I knew she was a true Girly Girl. Her dimpled smile lit up a room, and her giggle was contagious, and all three of the grandsons knew from the start, that Shai was the boss. They weren’t sure why that was, but then what man does understand why those girls have a princess attitude, that always seems to end up with them getting their way.

As the years have passed, I have watched her grow into a graceful, charming girl, who really isn’t one bit ditsy, even if her sense of humor makes her seem so sometimes. She is a capable, responsible worker, who is loved by everyone she works with. She still isn’t sure what she wants to do as a career, but she is going to go to college anyway, and get her basics done, while she decides what really interests her. Her years have seen her in a variety of work, and that tells me that she could do anything she would choose. She has done child care, nursing, elder care, food service, and customer service work in my office…and she did very well at all of them, so when she decides what she wants to do, she will excel at it for sure.

Shai, you have made your grandma and papa so very proud over the years, and truly the only disappointment we have is that you have grown up so fast. I have often said that people need to spend as much time with their children and grandchildren as they can, because in the twinkling of an eyeBob and Shai 1996Shai and Gma, those childhood days are gone. The reality is that while I still believe time spent is the single most important thing you can do for your child or grandchild, I also know that even then, it is not enough. That twinkling of the eye happens quickly no matter what. Today is my lovely granddaughter, Shai’s 18th birthday or is it 4 1/2? No matter, happy birthday Shai!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you so very much!!

Grandma's BabiesAs my two oldest grandchildren approach their 18th birthdays, just a little over a month from now, it occurs to me just how quickly time flies. It seems like only yesterday that we were awaiting their arrival. We never suspected that they would be born just a day apart…Chris on his great grandmother’s birthday and Shai on Leap Day. When Corrie went into labor on the 27th, we all knew the closeness to her grandmother’s birthday. How cool it would be for Chris to arrive on that day, because Corrie had been born the first great grandchild on her great grandmother’s birthday, Bob’s mother, and now, the upcoming birthday was her own birthday, and Chris was her own first great grandchild…a rare occurrence indeed. When midnight passed, we knew we had made it, and we were all very excited about that.

Then, the next day, Amy called me and said that Corrie had “inspired” her, and she was now in labor. I couldn’t believe it. It would be so cool to have a Leap Day Baby, but she would have to hurry, and it almost seemed impossible…but then with our anniversary being on March 1, I thought that day would be cool too. Shai, however, had planned an unusual day for herself, one that would be all her own, and one that would only come every four years…Leap Day.

So it was that we were given two grandchildren, one boy and one girl, in two days. Seriously, does it get any better than that? I don’t think so. The two kids became instant best friends, because of the amount of time they spent together at my house and at Amy’s house, because Amy babysat Chris. I was living on cloud nine at that point, and I felt like the most blessed grandmother in the universe. I had told the girls that I wanted to be a grandmother by the time I was 40, and so they decided to oblige…hitting my goal twice just two months before my 40th birthday. The funny thing was that when Corrie said, “We made it Mom”, I had to ask “made what?” She laughed and said, “You are a grandmother before you are 40!” I had been so excited about the arrival of my first grandchild, that I had completely forgotten my goal.

Now, here we are almost eighteen years later, and looking at both of them getting ready to Christopher, Grandpa, and Shaigraduate from high school, and planning their college days and the rest of their lives, and all I can think is, “Where had all the years gone?” How could those precious little babies suddenly be adults? It seems impossible, and it makes me more than a little bit sad, but then I think, “Hmmmm, maybe I could be a great grandmother by the time I’m 60…not a bad goal at all. Time will tell, I guess. Maybe I’ll need to start putting a bug in those two little babies…now adult’s ears. And maybe, I shouldn’t have let that secret idea be known, because I’m not sure my girls feel ready to be grandmothers just yet. Still, that’s a couple of years down the road, so they will have a little time to get used to the idea. Seriously…it could happen.

ShaiToday is one of three un-birthdays that Shai,  my granddaughter will have before she gets to have her next real birthday. Shai is a Leap Day baby, and officially she is 4 1/4 years old today…or actually on that nanosecond between February 28th and March 1st…that is as close as we can get to her birthday, three out of 4 years. Most people, myself included, think the Leap Day is a cool birthday. It makes her 1 in 1500. That is the odds of being born on Leap Day. Not as rare as lots of other things, but rare enough.

Shai was a little grown up well before the years would make her a young woman, so it is fitting that today she is seventeen, but not really. That has always been the case with Shai, older than her actual years. She took care of my parents when they were sick and she was only 10 years old, or 2 1/2. She babysat for my niece Jenny at 12 years old, or 3. And like most kids, she drove at 16, except that she was really 4.

Like her cousin Chris born the day before Shai, I was there for Shai’s birth, and that was only a week ago, so how could she already be seventeen years old, even if seventeen is really 4 1/4, I take no consolation in the fact that we can call her younger than the years that have passed since her birth, because they have simply gone by too fast. My only consolation is the fact that Shai, like her cousin is a good girl who stays away from trouble and loves the Lord.

Shai doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life yet, and that’s ok. The possibilities are endless, and I know that whatever she does will be perfect for her. She could easily go into nursing, because she has had 7 years of experience in that area, but I’m not sure that is the choice she would make. She is a very social person, and it would not surprise me to see her go into a field like public relations. She worked in my office for over a year, at late 14 through 15 years of age, which is very unusual for a kid of that age. She did so many things early, and it made me even more aware of how fast the years were rushing by.

Today, Shai is unofficially seventeen years of age, and while it seems to me like a week ago, I have long been aware that she was growing up very quickly and right before our eyes. Happy birthday Shai!! Have a great day, and maybe slow down a bit, ok. We love you very much!!

One day after the birth of my first grandchild, my life was again blessed with my second, a little girl named Shai. She was born on Leap Day, so she really doesn’t have a birthday this year…exactly. I tell her that in the nano-second between 11:59pm and 12:00am, between February 28th and March 1st, her birthday happens. My boss and hers, Jim, says she will need to “party fast” so she doesn’t miss it. Yes, Shai is a Leap Day baby. She gets a birthday only once every four years. Her brother and cousins used to tease her that they were already older than she was. And she hated that until I told her that it was true that they are “older” than she is, but she will get to drive when she is 4 and they will have to wait until they are 16. Another really cool fact concerning being a Leap Day baby that I’m sure she hasn’t considered yet, but every woman who thinks about it will appreciate…she won’t really be 15 until she is 60, and seriously…what 60 year old woman wouldn’t want to be 15.

When Amy told me that she was going to name her daughter Shai after a little girl she to take care of at the day care she was working at, I was…well less than excited about it. I worried that the name Shai, pronounced shy, would get her teased. So I suggested some “variations” on the name. They were quickly rejected, and Shai it would be. Now that I know her, the name just fits her so very well, even though she isn’t one bit shy, and when you add the fact that the name Shai means “gift” in Hebrew, well I’m sold, because that is what she has been. Being the only granddaughter we have, she most certainly is a gift to us.

Shai is very much the grown up young lady and a girly girl. She loves to shop, get manicures/pedicures, and she is a boy magnet. Her love of shopping came early, when at around the age of 4, she wanted to go to Target. When her mom said that she didn’t have enough money to go shopping that day, Shai simply said, “Well, charge it!!!” All kidding aside, I feel very blessed that she is also a very responsible girl and does an awesome job at work.

Her responsible ways came very early on, when at the age of 10, when my parents were both quite ill, and unable to care for themselves, she stepped up. Thankfully it was during the summer, because, my sister suggested that Shai come during the day and be with them. Like a little trooper, she stepped up and cared for them for more than a month, giving them their meds, getting them food and drinks, and every other job a nurse would do. We were very proud, and most grateful to her, and always will be. Happy Birthday Shai!! We love you very much!!

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