nephew

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My nephew, Dave Balcerzak has had a busy, but somewhat trying year. It seems like it’s been one project after another and trying to stay ahead of it can be stressful. Last summer his car became the project, and then came his truck, and some more needed repairs. While Dave didn’t do the work alone and didn’t do any of the work on the truck, there is always cost involved, not to mention the stress that vehicle maintenance can bring.

In addition to the vehicle work, Dave and his wife, my niece, Chantel Balcerzak, have been doing some projects around the house. They did some beautiful work in their kitchen and family room, and then did some beautiful work in their back yard, which was finished just in time for their daughter and son-in-law, Siara and Chris Kirk’s wedding on July 23rd. While the whole thing turned out amazing, but they felt rushed to get it done in time for the ceremony. While, these kinds of projects can be stressful, and at times irritating and even a cause for arguments, they are done now and done exactly to their dream specifications. Chantel says they feel very blessed by the finished results and in awe because neither of them seem to know how they actually managed to get it done. I haven’t seen the back yard “in person.” I’ve seen pictures, and I think their “dream specifications” are amazing. Chris and Siara’s wedding was beautiful and an enjoyable occasion for everyone who was there.

Dave is the kind of husband and dad, who loves his blended family deeply, and he has chosen to be a great dad to all of them…Keifer (Katie) Balcerzak, Katy (Dylan) Herr, Jake (Melanie) Harman, and Siara (Chris) Kirk…as well as grandchildren, Alice Green, Izabella Harman, Jaxx Harman, Reece Balcerzak, Aysa Balcerzak, Max Herr, and Alec Olsen (now in Heaven, and greatly missed). Dave is so dedicated to his family, and for Chantel’s kids, he is definitely the dad that “he didn’t have to be” but chose to be. Dave is a cheerful kind of man and loves to laugh. He tends to make everything fun when he is around. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. In fact, he’s a big teddy bear…just ask those grandbabies.

Dave works on computers by trade, and he is my go-to guy whenever my computer is having an issue. It’s nice to have someone in the family that has that skill. It saves us a lot of money, and I’d much rather pay family to work on my stuff than to pay anyone else. Of course, the guy has to be good at what he does, which Dave is. It’s always nice to have a family network of people who can help people. Being a blessing to one another is a great way to be that blessing, and Dave is just that. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Rob Masterson is my first nephew, and he was a bit of a culture shock for me. Up until Rob came along, we were a family of girls. My parents had five daughters, and other than Rob’s dad, Rob Masterson, we still had girls, because we had my nieces, Chantel Balcerzak and Toni Chase…and then came Rob. As we all know…especially all women…men are inherently different. While men can usually mature their way out of it to a degree, little boys…oh boy!! If I had grown up around brothers, I might have been more prepared for my nephew, but I had basically no experience in boys. Even the babysitting jobs I had were girls. Girls were my whole life-experience up to that time. To further complicate things, I had two daughters. Girls were the way of life in the Spencer family. My younger sisters each did have one boy among their multiple girls, so we were further educated in the ways of little boys, and I think it was a good thing that Rob prepared me for boy life, because my girls together had three boys and one girl, and the trend of mostly boys is continuing in the great grandkids too. So, thanks for giving me the education in the ways of little boys, Rob. I think I needed it.

These days, Rob is a great husband and dad. He has three daughters, Christina Masterson, Raelynn Masterson, and Audrianna Masterson, and one son, Matthew Masterson. He and his wife, Dustie Masterson are both supervisors, he at Sam’s Club’s tire and automotive department, and Dustie at Walgreen’s. Life is good, and they are very happy. They have been married now almost 20 years, and each year gets better and better. They love their jobs, their lives, and each other. They are soulmates, and I can’t imagine one without the other.

Being a supervisor is a job with a lot of responsibility. With that, often comes many hours on the job. That makes for not seeing Rob and Dustie very much. In fact, if we want to see them, the best place to do that is at their place of work. Of course, that isn’t the best place for any kind of a real conversation, so mostly we end up waving and saying, “Hello.” It’s ok, because we are family, and we all know we love each other, even if we are usually too busy for a long visit. The main thing really is that they are able to usually make time to go see my sister, Cheryl Masterson, Rob’s mom, because after all, they are her kids, and she needs to be able to see them as often as possible. They are a close family, and they make it work. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Allen Beach has had a very busy year. Following his wife, Gaby’s graduation from nursing school, they decided to buy a house closer to Wyoming Medical Center, where they both now work. They quickly found the perfect house and moved in last March. They quickly set about getting settled and making the house their own. They’ve removed some trees in the back yard that we’re old and growing into power lines. They hope to build a garage in the back yard sometime in the near future, but for now they will most likely settle for a taller privacy fence.

Now that both of them have graduated from college, they have time for all the fun stuff. And speaking of fun stuff…Allen bought an old truck he’s been working on. It seems like most men have a dream of fixing up an old car or truck, and Allen is no different. That’s one way to have fun, but Disney World is another, so Allen and Gaby are planning a trip there in April. I’m sure that after a cold winter, a trip to sunny Florida would be really nice. Maybe they could pack me in their suitcase…if I promise to stay out of the way. No, probably not. Allen and Gaby also have two wonderful dogs, named Oly and Jasper. The dogs are truly their babies. They love playing with the dogs and the dogs love them.

They love to travel, but that has been curtailed these days. That is partly why this trip to Florida is such a big deal. After a wile of being locked down, it’s time to live a little. Allen and Gaby have traveled to many places all over the world, so being locked down is especially tough. Traveling to places like Bali or Japan, are more their style, but they are just places, and the real thing is being together. Allen and Gaby are best friends and have been since they first met, while they were both serving this great nation in the Navy. They both became corpsmen and knew that medicine would be their chosen field. While Gaby chose nursing, Allen chose hospital administration. Both of them are very good at their jobs, and Wyoming Medical Center is very blessed by their service. Today is Allen’s birthday. Happy birthday Allen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Dave Chase has been such a blessing to our family since he married my niece, Toni. Dave always goes above and beyond just being Toni’s husband. Dave treats Toni like a queen. She feels his love in everything he said says, and that is a beautiful kind of love to have. Dave is devoted to his family. He and Toni’s son, James are good friends, and Dave never tries to take the place of James’ dad, but he is always there for him too. As a family, they have taken many trips, and seen many places. Dave likes to travel, and so do Toni and James, so it works out well for all. Of course, 2020 was…very different, for all of us.

With Covid-19, everyone spent most of the year doing a new activity…social distancing. It is a phrase we have all learned to hate. We were stuck at home, not travel, no restaurants, no movies, even no camping…in the woods, away from people, for Pete’s sake. Some of that is behinds us now, or at least for now, but during the year, it was pretty awful. For the average person the problems were truly annoying, but for lots of people the problems were much worse. One of the biggest problems was depression. But other serious problems include loneliness, fear, and helplessness.

All that is the norm for the Covid-19 Lockdowns, but not if you’re Dave Chase. I would have expected Dave to be going stir-crazy…especially since Dave, Toni, and James did not catch Covid-19. Dave is very sports oriented. He always has been, but he did not let the lack of sports, gyms, and any other form of activities get him down. Dave just shifted gears and embraced the lockdowns by learning how to do indoor golf, online fantasy football, baseball, golf, and college basketball. Lots of guys go in for that, but I don’t think it would be for me. Once people could go outside much, Dave was out there fishing, and having good success at it too. As things finally started opening up, at least in Wyoming, Dave has been able to go back to playing live basketball, recently. You might think that after not playing for a long time, Dave might be a bit rusty, but not so. He is still the champ, even among his 30-year younger teammates. Dave has also enjoyed being able to have friends come over, like his buddy, Ron Birks. So, even with the Covid-19 Lockdown, Dave has stayed pretty sane. Not bad!! Not bad at all!! Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Rob Masterson has had what his wife, Dustie recalls as a “not very interesting” year, but as I talked to her, I determined that maybe that analogy wasn’t quite accurate after all. Rob, who is a supervisor in the auto shop and tire sales area of Sam’s Club, has done something that no other employee of that area of Sam’s Club has done so far. Rob became the first Sam’s Club employee, at this location, to complete all of his out of state tire trainings. At his trainings, Rob learned everything anyone could possibility ever want or need to know about tires, and probably more than most of us ever cared to know. Nevertheless, Rob found it quite interesting. He told Dustie that he drove cars with new tires on the front and then another one with them on the back to feel the difference. He got to drive all kinds of tracks on many different vehicles and wheels.

Dustie is sure, and I would agree, that Rob’s favorite training trip was to Las Vegas. The Vegas trip was the final training trip, so Dustie told me that the training was a little more relaxed. I would say so!! According to Dustie, “He got to drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, and an Alfa Romeo on the last Vegas speedway. He got some video of it. He was driving like a madman!” Not many of us, who are not racing drivers, get the chance to feel what it is like to race on an actual speedway…much less to drive a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or an Alfa Romeo in the manner of a driver in a real race. Rob got that opportunity, and he relished it. I’m sure many men would have.

Work, for Rob, might not have seemed interesting to Dustie either, but for most of us, this year has been quite interesting, indeed. How many years have most workplaces adopted the practice of wearing medical masks. Not many who are not medical workplaces, I would wager. Nevertheless, while at work, and especially while helping customers, masks have become mandatory in many businesses. The jury is still out as to how effective the wearing of masks is, in disease prevention, but for now, this is the situation in which we find ourselves.

Because they have worked so much this year, Rob and Dustie and decided that they owe it to themselves and their children, Raelynn, Matt, and Anna to take some trips this summer. They decided that even though travel is necessarily somewhat limited right now, Wyoming has enough historic and beautiful places to allow them to spend all summer traveling and learning the history right here in their home state. They are planning trips to Devil’s Tower, and Thermopolis for sure, and are looking are several other places too. I’m sure they will have a wonderful summer, for sure. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Steve Moore is such an outdoorsy guy. Every summer he and his wife, my niece, Machelle spend as much time in the Big Horn Mountains as they can. In times past, their boys, Weston and Easton, always went too, but now that they are older, that won’t happen as much. Easton still goes, but Weston works, so he often can’t come along. It is just a part of life. Easton will go less and less as time goes on too.

Part of camping involves gathering firewood, both for the camp, and for home. Steve and Machelle often camp with her parents, Debbie and LJ Cook. The guys always do a lot of wood cutting. Steve and a friend of his, did some trading this year, and Steve came away with a chain saw. He has been having a great time using that saw. I can understand that, because my husband, Bob Schulenberg always loved using his chain saw too. Boys and their toys, you know. Age doesn’t matter. Little boys have their toys, and when they grow up, big boys have their toys too. They are just different kinds of toys.

Normally, the wood haul is used at camp, with the leftovers taken over to Machelle’s parents’ house for their fireplace. Now though, at least since Machelle’s sister and brother-in-law, Susan and Josh Griffith, got them a firepit for Christmas last year, some of the wood goes to Steve and Machelle’s house too. Steve loves having camp wood handy! This past summer, they were able to get more wood, and it didn’t even seem like work with the chain saw. LJ figured they got him about 5½ cords this year…in addition to what they got for themselves. He should have plenty for this winter. It had only taken a few hours of one day, and then they had the rest of the weekend to hike around the mountains. They were even able to find new places to hike!

When Steve and Machelle hike, they like to look for great rocks, which reminds me of my own grandfather LJ said there used to be an old dump around there. It wasn’t a good hunt, some pretty rocks, but not much more. So, they headed back to camp with plans to go back someday soon.

Steve and Machelle may not have their boys on as many camping trips in the future, but they will do ok with that, because they are such soulmates. They have been since they met, and it is so obvious to anyone who knows them. These two are very much in love. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

One year ago today, a sweet little curly haired girl named Elliott Stevens was born to my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his wife, Kayla. Elliott is my sister, Alena Stevens and her husband, Mike’s first grandchild, as well a the first grandchild for Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley, so it was an exciting day. Time marches on, and as with all children, so much has changed in just one year. Elliott now has lots of curls as her hair has grown. Her little smile is sporting teeth these days, and she has learned to walk. That, of course, means that she is “exploring” her world, i.e. getting into things. Her personality is showing now, in so many ways…one of the biggest being her giggle. When she gets into things, and gets “caught” at it, she just laughs and laughs. Her parents ask her what she is doing, and her response is always the same…that infectious little giggle!! She already knows that her giggle can get her out of a sticky situation.

Elliott is a happy little girl, who loves her dog, Charlie. And the feeling in mutual, because her dog is very patient with her little baby ways. Kids aren’t always gentle with their furry friends, but Elliott’s dig doesn’t seem to mind, because Elliott is his baby too. In fact, sometimes he feels like he is in charge of the baby. It seems to be a dog thing. They love to cuddle the family babies…especially at nap time.

Elliott loves the water, and she’s not picky. The bathtub, the wading pool, or the beach. All of them are fun for Elliott. She got to go to California with her parents a few months ago, and if fact, she turned 8 months while she was there. Less than a year old, and she’s already been sunning herself on the beach. Of course, she doesn’t care if it’s a beach in California, she just liked the water and the sand. I think a lot of people would agree with her on that.

Elliott has been such a blessing to her family. She has three wonderful aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, so she is very blessed too. Life is great for Elliott and her family, and we are all very excited to see what the next year will bring for our giggly girl. Today is Elliott’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Dustie Masterson has been a part of our family, since she married my nephew, Rob Masterson in 2003. Dustie is the perfect wife and best friend for Rob, and they are very happy together. They truly are best friends, who are going in the same direction in all their hopes and dreams. They have three children together, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna Masterson; and Dustie has what she calls her bonus baby, Christina Masterson, from Rob’s first marriage. I hadn’t heard the term “bonus baby” before, and I really like it. Blended families aren’t always easy, but when people view their step-children as a bonus, it becomes blessed. That kind of attitude is what endears Dustie to all of us. It’s not just how she views Rob’s daughter, Christina, but also, it’s also how she views our whole family. She has family in Ohio, but she also views her family here as her bonus family so to speak. she has embraced our family as if we were her own.

When our parents were sick and in need of help,Dustie always did her share. She was willing to do what was needed. She often bought groceries for my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is her mother-in-law, and who lived with our parents. Getting groceries was not the easiest thing for Cheryl while she was also cooking and taking care of our parents in the evenings. We took turns with their care, and since Cheryl lived with them, it was logical that she have the night shift. Dustie saved Cheryl the extra job of going shopping, and she never complained about it. She had a helping heart, and we needed her. It was another of the things that endeared Dustie to all of us.

Dustie works hard at her job as the Grocery and Consumables Lead at Sam’s Club in Casper. She is well liked by all her c-workers, because Dustie gets along well with everybody around her. Dustie is just a friendly kind of person who is always willing to lend a helping hand. Dustie is always smiling and is a happy person, and that makes everybody love being around her. She is a great mom, and her kids all feel very blessed to have her. She helps them get their homework done, and makes sure they are ready for the coming day. They always feel confident in their parents, their home life, and their lives in general. Those things…peace of mind and security, are the mark of good parents. Dustie is a blessing to all who know her. She talks about having a bonus child, and a bonus family, but I think that she is the real bonus to all of us. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Jason Sawdon, who is married to my niece, Jessi, is a highway patrolman by trade, but a family man in reality. He’s a good patrolman, who keeps his cool in every situation, and treats people with respect, even if he has to give them a ticket or arrest them. People appreciate that. He is the crash investigator for the patrol and he is very precise and smart about skid marks and distances and figuring out exactly what happened. Accident investigation is an important job. It is vital to know who was at fault and what other factors might have played a part in the crash.

When Jason met Jessi, I think he knew right away that she was the one for him. They make such a cute couple, and there is no doubt about how they feel about each other, because they wear their love on their faces. It is totally obvious to all of us that they are very happy together. Jessi and Jason are two people who always seem to be happy and laughing. Of course, they bring much of their happiness with them, using nothing but their sense of humor. Jason is always playing jokes on people. He is a great dad to their daughter, Adelaide, and husband to Jessi. Jason just seems to get Jessi. Whatever she wants Jason works to get for her. That means a lot to her mom and dad…knowing their daughter is well cared for. Today, Jessi told Jason that she wanted a greenhouse, so they wouldn’t lose all of their tomatoes when it gets cold next week. So, they went to Menard’s, and got everything needed to build it. Jason had it done in just about two hours!! When Jason and Jessi were redoing their master bath, Jessi told him what she would like, and he made sure there was a way to include everything she asked for in a small space!! Not always an easy task, but he got it done. Jason is the answer to prayer for Jessi, and her family, and a huge blessing for Adelaide. Jason is the kind of guy who is great at building people up, and that is a blessing for all the people in his life.

Jason is always a helper. He has a mechanical engineering degree and so understands how things work. Jason is always willing to share his knowledge with anyone who asks for his help. His degree makes Jason is a great asset for anyone on whatever project they are doing at the time…from electrical, to mechanical, to water, to building, Jason just seems to know how it works. That makes Jason a big help to the family. Jason is always offering his time. He is a helper to anyone in need, and he is so kind. This morning, Jessi and Jason came upon a lady downtown who had fallen and hurt her knee. Jason ran right up and help to pick her up, and literally carried her, to a nearby bench. Then, he carried her to her vehicle when the lady’s husband brought it around. Lots of people would loo the other way, but never Jason. He is always there for people. Today is Jason’s birthday. Happy birthday Jason!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Dave Balcerzak married my niece, Chantel in June of 2002, but they had known each other since childhood. We all loved Dave from the beginning. He is a big teddy bear, who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. He fit into the family instantly, and we have all been so pleased to have him in the family. Dave is a man of considerable technical talent, and has been there for those of us who have been in need of repairs on computers, but that is the least of the reasons that we love Dave. When he married my niece, Chantel, Dave became Dad to her kids, Jake Harman and Siara Harman Olsen. He was the only dad they really ever had, even though they had a dad. Dave was there for the long haul. He didn’t leave when the going got rough. He was there when there were tears and broken hearts, and through the difficult teenage years, and it was Dave who was their dad at their weddings, who walked Siara down the isle. Dave is the man they call Dad, because he is the man who has been their dad, and dad to his own two kids, Keifer Balcerzak and Katy Balcerzak Collett. Dave is a dad at heart. He was the dad that he should be for his kids, and the dad he didn’t have to be for Chantel’s kids. And now he is grandpa to the four grandchildren they have given them.

A few months ago, Dave had some health problems that put him in the hospital with heart problems. While there, he had a stroke. That was really the beginning of a miracle for Dave. Miraculously, a CNA quickly caught that something wasn’t right. All Dave said was that his big toe hurt, but she saw so much more. Dave was quickly treated for a stroke, and then for an irregular heartbeat, that was the cause of the stroke. They tried shocking his heart, but the rhythm wouldn’t hold. Finally, they did a Catheter Ablation procedure. Basically it is a procedure that destroys the area of the heart muscle that is causing the arrhythmias. It sounds like a drastic measure to fix arrhythmia in the heart, but it worked. Within a couple of weeks, Dave was back to normal, and able to walk Siara down the isle at her wedding. It was a miraculous moment, and one he wasn’t sure was going to happen. He would not have had the stamina to do that had his heart not been repaired. Once again, Dave was able to be the dad, he didn’t have to be, but chose to be. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! We give thanks to God that you are still here with us. Have a great day!! We love you!!

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