My grandniece, Katy Balcerzak has spent the last year, and a little bit more, becoming or being mommy to a sweet little boy named Max Robert Herr. That is no easy transition, although it is one of the most wonderful transitions ever, as any mother can tell you. For any “exercise enthusiast,” it means the sacrifice of that their body was, to working toward bring it back to what it was, but in reality, it doesn’t matter, because the reward is the most wonderful reward one could ever receive. A child, sweet and perfect. Boy or girl…it does not matter, because a mother’s love knows no gender. It is the transition into a slower way of life…maybe not always being on time everywhere you go, because babies can’t tell time, and so their cooperation is definitely random. Somehow that doesn’t matter either, because there is nothing more important than that sweet, smiling face. A mother might have good intentions of being on time, but then her son smiles and giggles and she takes a few more minutes playing and coaxing one more precious smile out of her precious boy. Before she knows it, time has slipped away, and she is trying…unsuccessfully, to play catch-up. Oh well, it somehow just doesn’t matter.

Katy has wanted to be a mommy for as long as she was grown up, and the past year was like a dream-come-true. Her life went from mediocre to exceptional so quickly, that it stunned many of us…myself included. She moved to Colorado from Wyoming, and the next thing I knew, she was happily engaged and pregnant with her first child. Her face absolutely glowed. Her beautiful smile was always there…no sad pictures, no lonely pictures, no pictures with empty arms. Katy was transformed in an instant.

This year also, Katy and Dylan made the move to purchase their first home…another milestone in their lives, and one more thing to cross off her “bucket list” of goals and dreams. Now, they are settling in, Katy’s life is in perfect balance. She has the man of her dreams, and a sweet baby boy to complete her happiness. And now, the house to wrap things up nicely and tie them in a pretty bow. I can’t think of any better way to have spent the last year. Today is Katy’s birthday. Happy birthday Katy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Motherhood is not a new venture for my grand niece, Melanie Harman, because she has been a mom since her daughter, Alice Green was born almost five years ago. Nevertheless, being the mother of three children is quite different than being a mother of one child. Following her marriage to my grandnephew, Jake Harman, Melanie and Jake, further expanded their family with the addition of a daughter, Izabella on December 21, 2015, and a son, Jaxx on May 30, 2017. With Belle, family outings were not a big issue. It was cold, and no one minded staying home. But with Jaxx, summer was just beginning, and the family wanted to do some things…and, one thing in particular…camping. That’s not the easiest thing to do with a baby either.

For the most part, healthy babies can go wherever their parents go, and Jaxx was a healthy baby. Still, every young mother wants to feel like their plans for the baby are ok and safe. Melanie is no different, so she asked friends with children how long they waited to go camping. Satisfied with the information she received, Melanie and Jake moved forward with their camping weekend plans. I’m sure it was with mixed emotions, that they made plans to take their children, including their one month old son camping for the Independence Day holiday weekend. They weren’t going far, just up on Casper Mountain, which is right outside town. It wasn’t that they worried about the safety of their son, but rather all the work of camping with a baby. Still, they weren’t the first ones to do that, as lots of people have camped with a baby. As expected, the camping trip went very well, and Jaxx not only survived the trip, but Melanie and Jake did too. Sometimes, I think it is the parents who may not be ready for such an outing!! There is a lot of work involved to take a baby camping, and the tent is not always conducive to some of the required elements of bringing a baby along

Melanie is a great mom, and her kids are well behaved and sweet. She is living her life dream…to be a wife and mother. There may come a day when she decides to opt for a career, but for right now, here babies need her more than the family needs the extra money, and if a woman plans things out right, the money will usually stretch to provide for the family and yet allow her to be at home raising her kids, rather than having them in daycare, where someone else is essentially raising them. I’m not saying that daycare is a bad thing, but if a mom can stay home while the kids a small, it is really a good thing, and that is what Melanie wants to do, and Jake wants her to be able to do. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Ashley, Eric, and the girlsMy niece, Ashley Eighmy Parmely, who is married to my nephew, Eric Parmely loves being a mom. I think she wanted kids more than anything else…except maybe being married to Eric. Ashley has always been a sweet girl, who fit well into our family, but Ashley had a greater calling…motherhood. Of course, it is a calling many women have, and yet each is unique in who they are as a mom. Ashley is very hands on as a mom. She wants to be there to show her daughters the amazing things her world has to offer. Eric and Ashley bought a house out in the country so they could raise their children around her parents miniature horses, as well as the other farm animals she could acquire access to.The Corn Maze

Ashley loves animals. She is working right now to help her female goat have babies. I’m not sure what the problem is, but she has been giving her little female goat daily hormone shots to make her more fertile. Ashley finds motherhood for anyone to be a wonderful, special time. If she can help her little goat female to become a mom, then she is quite happy, and apparently her young goat agrees, because she seems to love Ashley very much, or maybe she understands that Ashley is trying to help her.

Ashley has always had a heart of gold. I think she really likes helping her animals to be the best they can be. I suppose that she feels the same way abut her kids. She loves spending time with her The Goatkids, teaching them how to recognize the animals and to enjoy the great outdoors. Recently Eric and Ashley took their girls to a corn maze in the area. The whole family had a great time. Since hiking and being outdoors is a big part of what they love, walking through a corn maze fit right into their idea of fun. I’m sure that for their girls, wandering around in the corn fields was a lot of fun. And of course, dressing the corn fields up with pumpkins was the topper for sure. For Ashley, anything that centers around her family is exactly where she wants to be. Her husband, kids, and animals are the exact niche she feels the most comfortable in. When she is around them, she is in her happy place. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Pam & Aunt DorisWhen my mom, Collene Byer Spencer was married and moved to Superior, Wisconsin to live, she was a young woman, who for the first time in her life lived far away from her large family. I think that must have been so hard for her. She was used to living in a house with her parents, sisters, and brothers, and now it was just her and my dad, Allen Spencer. Of course, that was all she needed in most ways, but a girl needs friends too. For Mom, finding Aunt Doris Spencer there, meant a friendship, as well as a sister-in-law. The two liked each other immediately, and became instant friends. They did everything they could together.

While both of them were slender women, they always felt the need to diet. If they gained a pound, it was a big problem…I guess some things never change. Like all dieters, hunger pangs are always the worst part of dieting, so to aid in the dieting, Aunt Doris decided that each of them could have a single Puffed Wheat cereal piece to hold them over on one occasion. I’m sure this sounds crazy, but it does fit into the mentality of a dieter…and all of you who have ever dieted would be dishonest if you didn’t agree. When we look at things now, we know that like all dieters, this idea would pass as an impossible way to diet, but they tried it anyway. Whenever I hear the story of their diet antics, I have to giggle, because I can picture either one of them doing the funny things they did. They almost seemed like girlhood friends from junior high school, except they didn’t know each other then. They were just a lot alike.

They shared so much in those years, motherhood, sisterhood, and friendship. For my mom, it was like going to a scary new place and finding a bit of sunshine in the middle of the clouds of loneliness. It wasn’t like Mom was drowning in loneliness, but she really needed someone to share all of her girl talk with…someone to spend some of her spare time with, and since they lived just across the backyard fence from each other, someone to Aunt Doris & Momtalk to while the children played or napped. Aunt Doris was a friend sent by God to help my mom through the transition, and to be there for her through the years.

After we moved to Casper, Wyoming, the two kept in touch. Even after Aunt Doris, and her husband, my Uncle Bill divorced, Mom and Aunt Doris remained friends. They wrote letters and called each other sometimes, but didn’t get to see each other for years. Then last year, my sister, Cheryl and I took Mom for a visit. It was a wonderful reunion for both of them, and we were so glad we took Mom, since it was the last time before she passed. She got to see her forever friend one more time. Today is Aunt Doris’ 91st birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My girls had their own quirks when it came to eating…right from the start. They both nursed just fine, but when it came to other forms of eating, things changed. Corrie did quite well on the bottle. Then at 3 weeks old, the doctor, as was the normal back then, started her on rice cereal. And not a moment too soon. Corrie was such a hungry girl. The problem was…she was too hungry. She would be crying, and I would get the cereal ready, but as I put a spoonful of cereal in her mouth, she gagged and coughed. Then she cried, and I spooned, and she coughed and gagged, and the whole process went on and on, until she finally got enough down to feel like she got something. Then she could relax and finish eating. I, on the other hand was emotionally drained and physically exhausted, and felt like a very bad mommy.

One day I was at the store, and I came across an item that saved my sanity. It was an Infant Feeder. Basically, it was a bottle system that had a large hole in the nipple and it moved the cereal toward the nipple to keep the air out. The way it worked mattered very little to me. It was the fact that it did work, that I cared about. Corrie got to eat without choking, gagging, or crying, and I got a peaceful relaxed dinnertime. It was a life saver.

When Amy came along 11 months after Corrie, I felt much more prepared for the whole feeding part of motherhood…for about 5 minutes. I quickly learned the fact that every baby is different. Amy wanted nothing to do with the bottle, and I don’t mean that she disliked it. She started gagging before the nipple ever got to her mouth. The doctor suggested a Playtex Nurser…it made no difference…nor did any other bottle. We thought maybe it was the rubber smell, but it made no difference. She never took a bottle, pacifier, or the Infant Feeder that saved my life with Corrie. It was a brand new day.

If Amy needed water or formula, we had to use a spoon until she was old enough to use a sippy cup, which she started on very early, by the way. It was really hard to get a babysitter for her. My sister-in-law, Jennifer had the unpleasant experience of having to deal with that the first time we left her to babysit. It was a tough job. We all learned from the experience, and we all survived.

Like every mother, I learned as much from my children and they learned from me. One of the biggest lessons was that every child is different. They have different likes and dislikes, needs, and abilities. What works with one child might not work with another. You have to look at each child as an individual, or you will never succeed. And probably the most important thing is to keep your sense of humor, because looking back, I’m sure everyone can see the humor in these two situations, especially knowing that we all survived those years.

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