mom

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Being the oldest child isn’t always the easiest job. My Aunt Evelyn Hushman, my mom’s sister, was born on November 9, 1928…shortly before Black Monday and the beginning of the Great Depression. These were not easy times, and everyone had to pitch in. That isn’t always easy for anyone, but for the oldest child, it means helping to raise all the children born after you are, and when the family has 9 children, that’s eight children that you get to help raise. Granted, Aunt Evelyn was a little young to help much with her sisters, Virginia and Deloris, but she helped a lot more when it came to Larry, Collene (my mom), Wayne, Bonnie, Dixie, and Sandy…who was just three years older than her first niece, Sheila “Susie” Young. At that point, the cycle came back around, and some of the younger children got to help raise their nieces and nephews.

Aunt Evelyn loved getting together with friends, and even her siblings. She and Uncle George often double dated with my parents, and they later bowled together for years. Aunt Evelyn was a very social person, and loved gatherings. I remember the whole Hushman family coming to celebrate my mom’s birthday, which was on New Year’s Day, hence the New Year’s Eve party. We always had such a great time when the Hushman family joined in the parties, and I really miss those days very much. Because it was Mom’s birthday party, all the kids were welcome, and sometimes I wonder if our parents were half crazy having at least ten kids in the house at one time, and mind you, it was too cold to play outside, because it was after all, the middle of winter. Still, a great time was had by all.

My parents, Aunt Evelyn, and Uncle George also bowled together every Thursday night. They had a great time. I don’t remember what kind of averages they all had but I think they were pretty good bowlers. They loved spending time together, and bowling was a great way to do that. They were good friends all of their lives, and I know my mom couldn’t stand the idea of living without her big sister. Mom loved her so very much. I’m thankful they are together again in Heaven. Today would have been Aunt Evelyn’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Evelyn. We love and miss you very much.

My nephew, Riley Birky has had a rough year, as has his whole family. The 2020 year began with the loss of his mom, Rachel Schulenberg, to a stroke. Rachel’s loss has changed Riley in many ways. Like most teenagers, Riley has gone through his share of wild times, but now he wants to make his mom proud of him. Now, he is on the other side of that old life, and moving forward into a better life. That said, Riley has been spending the last year really getting his life together, and really making a fresh start. Every day finds Riley trying to become a better person. He wants to be a and upstanding citizen, who is working for society. Every kid makes mistakes, and Riley is trying to make up for his.

Riley is really moving into adulthood in a big way. He has been with his girlfriend, Sierah Martin for over a year now, and he is working hard to make a good home for her and her son, Jace. Riley is working hard to being a good father figure for Jace. Riley working full-time to help support them, and often takes on odd jobs to give them a better life. He has also been being a good uncle to his nephew, Lucas and niece, Zoey, babysitting all the kids at his sister, Cassie Franklin’s house. Riley really enjoys time with his family. They play video games like Spyro the dragon. And, they share precious family times together. He has also been enjoying his dog, Nala, who came from his sister, Cassie’s dogs, Buddy and Maya. As we all know, a dog is man’s best friend.

Riley is pretty handy, so in his spare time he’s been helping his friend renovate their camper. Most renovation jobs take more than one person, and a camper is no different. I’m sure his friend really appreciates the help Riley has been giving. A great friend aids a friend in need, and that is what Riley is…a great friend.

Riley definitely misses his mom, but I know without a doubt that she would be so very proud of him. I can’t take away the pain of missing her, Riley, but I promise you…she is very proud of the man you have become. Today is Riley’s 21st birthday. Happy birthday Riley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

There have been much speculation over the years as to why we marry the person we do. Does our taste in a mate come from…say our parents, friends, or some random part of our own brain. Or, is their simply no rhyme or reason as to how we choose that person we will spend the rest of our life with. When I look at couples, there are some who seem perfectly suited to each other, and then there are those who seem to be total misfits, and yet they are totally happy with each other. Of course, one never knows how long they have been married, whether they will stay married, or if they are on their second or third marriage (indicating a poor choice in the first or second marriage). Oddly, when they do divorce in the first marriage, it amazes me sometimes, just how similar their second choice in mate is to their first…sometimes anyway.

It has been said that a girl chooses a man who is similar to her dad, and I can see that in my own choice. Bob reminds me a lot of my dad, but while they all look different, my brothers-in-law also remind me a lot of my dad. I think that a girl might choose a man who is a lot like her dad, if her dad is a wonderful dad, like my dad was. My sisters would agree. It is further thought that a man chooses a woman who is much like his mom. That makes sense, because he would want someone who can take care of him, his home, and his kids the way his mom took care of the home and family when he was a kid. Of course, there are those who don’t know their parents for one reason or another. They might base their choice on a step-parent or other mentor, I suppose.

Of course, no one really makes that choice consciously. It it always a choice of the heart, but oten the heart knows what it knows from the parental upbringing. I don’t believe that our life partner choice is a random thing, because while I dated a number of nice men, they were all quite different from my dad, and from my husband…and the fact is that I could not imagine myself marrying any of them. They were never going to be the type of man I could spend the rest of my life with. Nice as they were, they would never have been the one for me. I tend to think that somehow God leads the one, the real one into your life, and if you have your eyes open, you will find that perfect one for you.

My grand-nephew, Matt Masterson is the only son of his parents, Rob and Dustie Masterson, and rather sees himself as the second “man of the house” and the protector of all who are in it. Matt especially like to be helpful to his mom, so he’s been going places with her and has been trying to do things to take care of himself so she doesn’t have to worry about him. Most kids of just 16 years don’t think much about putting the minds of their parents at ease, much less doing things to help their parents around the house and on errands, but I suppose Matt isn’t your typical 16-year-old kid. His parents work very hard, and he wants to show them just how much he appreciates all they do for the family.

Matt has decided to go to Roosevelt High School in Casper, along with his sister, Raelynn Masterson, a move that will make things easier on his parents, because they won’t have to take kids to two high schools. Not that they will have to drive for very long, because I think that Matt will decide to get his driver’s license very soon, rather than wait a while like his older sisters, Christina and Raelynn, did. Guys want to get behind the wheel pretty quickly it seems, while girls don’t always see the urgency…at least some of the girls don’t. I couldn’t wait to get my license. That thing means freedom, and that’s important!!

One of the best parts about the summer for Matt is that his best friend is moving back to Casper, after years of living in Laramie, Wyoming. Laramie isn’t so far away, but it is too far to hang out on any kind of a regular basis, so the return to his best friend is something Matt is really excited about. Matt is such a protective brother and his sister, Raelynn tells me that he is really growing into a wonderful person. He might pick on Raelynn and their younger sister, Anna, but nobody else better do so, because he is their protector. Matt doesn’t like when the girls don’t tell him about things that upset them. He will do everything he can to fix whatever is going wrong. Last year when Raelynn went to camp, there were those who were not nice, so Matt tried to convince her not to go this year. In the end, he respected her decision, knowing that she would be ok on her own. It’s hard for him not to be the protector, and he didn’t want Raelynn to deal with stuff when he couldn’t be there to help. He’s got a big heart even if he doesn’t show it. Still, I think I would hate to be the person who picked on Matt Masterson’s sisters. Love is a strong emotion, and he loves his sisters. Today is Matt’s 16th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My Aunt Jeanette Byer, is such a sweet person. She is easy to get along with and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love her. For a number of years we didn’t get to see her much, while she and my Uncle Larry were living in Louisiana, because he took a transfer with Texaco when things here in Wyoming were slower. I can imagine that it was a fun time for them, however, because it was near the Gulf of Mexico, and warm year round. There is the hurricane factor too, of course, and that might not have been so great. Nevertheless, my grandma, Hattie Byer and several other of my aunts and uncles went down for visits, as did my parents. I remember my mom, Collene Spencer telling me that it was so humid there that you couldn’t get dry, no matter how many times you dried off, and it was a little hard to breath through the humidity. Aunt Jeanette assured my mom that you got used to that after a while. Strangely, when my husband, Bob and I went to Louisiana years after Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry moved back to Wyoming, I don’t recall the humidity issues that my mother had experienced. Maybe I just liked summer and humidity more than my mom had, I really can’t say for sure.

I was glad when Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry moved back to Wyoming, because then we got to see them more…oddly it was most often in the hardware store. I guess we were both doing projects at that time, hahahahaha!! Nevertheless, we always stopped and visited before we each went back to our shopping again. They were always great to talk to, and they laughed often. Both of them had these wonderful, infectious laughs, and I often wondered if that was part of what attracted them to each other in the first place.

Aunt Jeanette knew Uncle Larry when they were kids in school. As sometimes was the case, and still is today, people knew each other for years, and even became high school sweethearts before they married. When you think about it, that isn’t a bad thing. Becoming friends before you start dating, means that you at least know if you can stand to be around the person for more than ten minutes at a time. Well, Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry knew that they most definitely could “stand” to be around each other for more than ten minutes, and in reality, for much longer. The could “stand” to be around each other for life, and it would be a life filled with laughter too. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 85th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg’s uncle, Butch Hein is a rancher in Forsyth, Montana. Over the years, Bob and I have made many trips up to Forsyth to visit the family up there. While Butch is Bob’s uncle, he is only 9 years older than Bob is. That said, they had similar interests over the years. Butch didn’t really seem like an uncle to Bob, exactly. When he was a boy, Bob spent several weeks in the summers up at Grandma and Grandpa Hein’s house…Butch’s parents. Bob went to see them, but also to help out on their ranch. That was before Butch went into ranching himself, so the boys worked together in whatever need doing. Working together made for a closer relationship I’m sure, so when Bob was out of high school, and living on his own, he and his friend, Paul went up to visit the family in Montana. While that was a great idea, it was also a recipe for disaster…at least to Grandma Hein.

Butch, Bob, and Paul went out to the bar that night, because it was legal for Bob and Paul to drink in Montana, so the three of them went to the bar…mainly because there isn’t a whole lot of other things to do in Forsyth, Montana, due to its small size. The three of them had an…interesting evening. While sitting in the bar, and with Bob and Paul being somewhat inexperienced in the art of drinking, Butch had them try several drinks that he liked. Well, maybe some people can mix different kinds of alcohol and have no problem, but Bob and Paul were not those people. By the time they left the bar, both Bob and Paul were pretty tipsy…and that, is an understatement. Then they had to go back to Grandma’s, where they were staying, and it was at that point that they became her problem. I haven’t heard that the boys got sick or anything, but I would not be surprised. Nevertheless, in the morning, Grandma had two very hungover young men on her hands, and a son who, in her opinion was to blame. Butch was in the dog house with Grandma for quite some time, but Grandma finally forgave Butch for leading Bob astray. I’m sure he was very relieved. Nobody wants their mom mad at them.

Butch went on to become a great dad and later grandpa. He and his son, Scott run a large and successful ranch in the Forsyth area, and they are always busy. They are often on horses for hours a day. Butch had to have back surgery a while back, and I don’t know if that was caused by ranch work, but I would not be surprised. I don’t think he has ever been thrown off of a horse, but I don’t hear just everything that goes on. I suppose riding a horse and falling off of a horse go hand in hand sometimes. Anyway, he is doing much better since the surgery, and I pray it stays that way. Today is Butch’s 76th birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Andrea Beach is a single mom to her son, Topher Spicer. The two of them are very close, as often happens in these types of circumstances. She is very proud of Topher. Andrea works as a chef at the Turnbuckle Tavern in Rawlins, Wyoming. She has been there for a long time, and they depend on her heavily. Andrea has wanted to be a chef for some time, and in a way, this is a dream come true. Rawlins is a small town, and jobs there are scarce, so the fact that she get to do something she likes is really great.

Andrea is starting to look forward to summer, like so many others of us. She enjoys going to the Black Hills in South Dakota, a place that is very special to our entire family. It’s not too far from where we all live, and there is lots to do. I don’t think Andrea hikes, like my husband and I do, but that’s the beauty of the Black Hills…something for everybody. There’s lots of shopping and tourist attractions, as well as beautiful drives and scenery.

Andrea also likes to paint. There seem to be a number of artists in our family, but I definitely am not one of them. Andrea seems to have inherited that artistic gene, as have several other members of my family. As for the rest of us…those who are not artistic, we will just have to enjoy the work of the ones who are artistic.

Of course, the most important thing in Andrea’s life will always be her son. Topher has had a number of interests through the years…soccer, drama, and broadcasting. Every child has to try new things before they settle on what they want to do. It takes good parents to allow their child to explore new ideas and phases, being supportive all the way. That is how Andrea is. Topher is able to explore new interests, and Andrea is right there with him. Some day, he will settle on what he wants to do, and she will be right there to support him all the way. That is a good mom. I think she learned from her mom. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a good day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was a sweet, thoughtful girl who loved everyone she met. When Rachel left us to go to heaven on January 19th, 2021, we knew that nothing was ever going to be the same again. Rachel left a huge hole in our lives. Rachel wasn’t perfect…none of us are, but she never quit trying to make the lives of those around her happy. As I thought about her birthday this year, I decided to talk to her classmate, Jennifer Durante, who agreed to tell me about the Rachel she knew in school.

Jennifer first met Rachel in gym class, and they became good friends from that time forward. She was impressed the fact that Rachel was always “put together” at school. While most teenagers are lucky to get out of bed and get to school in sweatpants and a t-shirt, Rachel made sure that her hair and makeup were always perfect. She always dressed in skirts and heels, and always looked like a model. She was a classy lady, and anyone who knew her would agree to that statement. Rachel took pride in who she was, and that always showed. One day in gym class, a classmate made a rude remark about Rachel having stretchmarks on her legs, and Rachel, who didn’t like or allow bullying, immediately put that girl in her place. She told her that her stretchmarks came from her pregnancy, and that she was proud to be a mom. I can hear the silence now. That snotty little girl who thought she knew something, and knew nothing was immediately shot down. Rachel stood up or the little guy, and she was not about to be made a victim herself. That rude classmate knew nothing about Rachel’s life, and she had no right to bully her.

Rachel worked hard and got good grades in school. She was also very proud of being a mom, who wouldn’t let the circumstances of life hold her back from being the best she could be. She was determined to make a good life for her and her daughter, Cassie. In her Junior and Senior years of high school, she went to school during the day and worked at Wendy’s in the evenings and weekends to support herself and Cassie. Like most teenagers, Rachel didn’t always see eye to eye with her father, Cliff Franklin and her step-mom, Jan, but she never doubted their love for her, and she was always thankful for their support of her in being both a teenager and a mom.

Like most teenagers, Rachel liked to live life fast and play her music loud!! She loved to dance and because of her bubbly personality, she brought a ray of sunshine everywhere she went. Rachel was a great comedian and knew how to make people laugh, or even how defuse a bad situation. Those are such great qualities to have. Rachel was a mom first, and she didn’t really get to go out much, but on the rare occasion, when she was able to go out and be a wild teenager, Jennifer tells me that she was the life of any party. It was as if she walked into a room, threw her arms up in the air and proclaimed “I have arrived, let’s get this party started!!” Rachel lives in Heaven now, but I can just hear her as she walked into Heaven saying that very thing. Today would have been Rachel’s 46th birthday. Happy first birthday in Heaven Rachel, we sure love and miss you here.

Every kid, at some time in their childhood has dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. For many it has to do with what their mom or dad does for a living…at least at first. Later, it might be their grandparents, a television personality, a favorite teacher, or a hero in town. They may not have any idea of what the job they think they want might entail, but because someone they admire does that job, it must be the best job in the world. As adults, we would probably groan at the idea of the job those little ones look upon as fabulous, but to them it is the greatest thing ever.

I remember my niece, Lindsay Moore, who wanted to be a firefighter, as did my grandson, Josh Petersen (who is still interested in firefighting), The funny thing about Lindsay was that her dad, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock was a cop at the time. It’s funny, because Lindsay’s niece, Aurora Hadlock wants to be a police officer. It’s still in the family, she just chose the occupations of her grandpa, and uncle Jason Sawdon. Time will tell if Aurora fulfills her dream. After all, she is only 9 years old.

What’s is really interesting is when a child has such high hopes that the idea is way above their heads. Nevertheless, they keep their head up, looking at their goal…keeping it always before their eyes, until one day, they find themselves living that dream. Others never do follow the dream of their childhood, mostly because a new dream comes along that makes the old dream seem dull and boring. Sometimes it is from a life experience, such as my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely, who became a Labor and Delivery Nurse, after her first son was born. Or Lindsay, who tried firefighting, and decided that she wanted to go into Kinesiology, which is the study of the mechanics of body movements.

Some kids, like my husband Bob Schulenberg, his brother, Ron Schulenberg, nephews Barry Schulenberg, JD Parmely, and Eric Parmely, all went on to be mechanics like their dad and grandpa, Walt Schulenberg. Some futures, such as those of these men, seem to be in the blood, and that is ok too.

My grandfather, George Byer was always a rock hunter. In hard times, when trips were not possible, he shared his love of rocks with his family. You didn’t have to go far to look for rocks…you didn’t even have to leave home. Still, when you raise a family of rock lovers, the back yard gets picked over pretty quickly. Nevertheless, there was always someplace that he could take his family for a picnic and rock hunting excursion, and every one of the kids became rock lovers too, as did many of his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and the list has continued long after his passing.

If you aren’t a rock lover, you could so easily miss the beauty that is found in many of the stones around us. On the outside, they may look like they are just a plain black, brown, or white stone, but when it is cut or broken open, you find a stunningly colorful stone inside, even a gem in some cases. Of course, these days, we have to be careful where we do our rock hunting, because there are rock hunters who have staked and registered their claim on certain areas. But as long as you steer clear of those areas, rock hunting is a free way to get out and find nature’s best treasures.

Grandpa Byer loved his rocks so much that he later bought a rock polisher, and made beautiful jewelry and key chains from the rocks he found. I think many of his grandchildren have been blessed to receive such a gift as a memento of the treasure that was our grandpa. These pieces are precious to us. Somehow, they are filled with all the stories our parents have told us about the joys of rock hunting with their family. I think most of them loved rock hunting all their lives. I’ll never forget my mom telling me about their rock hunting trips, sometimes to Independence Rock, sometimes by the river, and sometimes the kids went by themselves. Wherever they went, they always came back with the treasured rocks.

The rock stories remained even after my grandparents were in Heaven. Of course they did. My aunts and uncles were so blessed to carry those memories in their hearts for their entire lives, and we were blessed that they could pass them along to their own children and grandchildren. I don’t think I ever grew tired of hearing about their trips to find rocks. My mom used to tell me all about how much fun the had. These are the kind of memories that stay with you long after the people in them are gone.

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