nephew

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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!!

Yesterday, August 3, 2018, at precisely 7:45am, Miss Elliott Michelle Stevens made her grand entrance into the world. Elliott, who will likely be nicknamed El or Elli, is the daughter and first child of my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his lovely wife, Kayla Smiley Stevens. Elliott is the first grandchild on both sides of their families, and so will be “spoiled” by grandmothers, Alena Stevens and Lynnette Smiley, as well as grandfathers, Mike Stevens and Wes Smiley. She also has three aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, who all became aunts the moment Elliot arrived. Elliot has changed a lot of lives, and all she did was to be born. It was a big job, but Elliott was up to the task.

Elliott is a pretty little girl, who likes to suck her thumb a little. Time will tell if that becomes a habit. She is a good baby, who doesn’t seem to cry much. She will find her voice, I’m sure, but for now, she is just relaxing and enjoying her new world and all the loving grandparents and great grandmother she has found there. Little does she know that there are many other family members who are waiting excitedly to meet her too. She has been born into a much larger family than she could possibly imagine, but those meetings will come in time. For now, she is just enjoying a few family members, and especially her parents, who are still marveling at the little blessing they have been given. And while Kayla and Garrett have become something their siblings are not…parents, their siblings have also become something they are not…aunts.

Time will tell who little Elliott will look like, and we all see similarities between her and her family members, but she will change quite a lot over the next few months and more similarities will begin to show. We will see an expression here, a facial shape there, and hair color will also begin to tell the tale. As she finds her voice, we might discover that she laughs like one person, or her voice sounds like another…it might even be an aunt or grandmother…or even a great aunt or uncle. Babies are amazing that way. They are created by God from the traits He ordains in their family DNA to be the perfect little person, unique and yet similar. I can’t wait to see who little Elliott Michelle will resemble as she grows. No matter who it is, she will be beautiful, just as she is right now, because she comes from two beautiful parents. Welcome to the world, Elliott Michelle, and to our family. We love you so much already!!

During the week, my nephew, Sean Mortensen is a hard working family man. His loves, and top priorities are his girlfriend, Amanda Reed, and their daughter, Jaydn Mortensen, who arrived 14 years ago, the day before his birthday. She was his early birthday present that year. Sean works hard to make their life great. A few years back,they bought a house, and together, he and Amanda are making it into their dream home. Sean and Amanda encourage their daughter to be active and enjoy a variety of sports, but her favorite is horses for sure,and her parents are happy about that.

When the working day is done, and especially when the weekend rolls around in the summer, Sean takes his family and heads for the lake. They meet up with a group of friends, and the fun begins. Most weekends will find everyone at Seminole Reservoir boating, and their favorite time is when they find themselves alone at the lake…just their group and all that water. All the kids can swim and hang out to their hearts content, and the parents are right there with them. There is never a dull moment…even in the evening. Cabin to me might fight a little Kung Fu fighting, in good fun, of course. It’s also a time to relax and visit with everyone, or laugh about the funny things that happened that day…because there is always something funny that happened.

Sean is a fun loving guy who loves making people laugh. He doesn’t care what it takes, and he isn’t above funny faces and goofy jokes. While Sean sees life as a happy place, he is also a solid kind of guy, who wants the very best for his girls. He loves Amanda and Jaydn very much, and no one is more important to him in this world. They are his whole life, and they are a wonderful family. they are a team. They work together, have great goals in life, and they have fun together…so let the fun begin!! Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My daughter, Amy Royce has been having a few adventures lately…and some life changes. Recently, her husband Travis had to go to Toronto on a business trip, and he was going to be gone over the Memorial Day weekend, so Amy’s friend, Amber Rose invited her and several other friends to go with her to Orcas Island, where Amber used to live. The plan was to relax and eat fish tacos on Lopez Island, and steak and fresh prawns on Friday night. She was really looking forward to the adventure, but she said that it was strange to think that Travis was on the other side of the United States, in another country.

The girls had a great time on Orcas Island. They took the ferry to Orcas Island…a ride which lasted an hour and ten minutes, and always goes by far too fast. The views from the ferry boats are amazing and so relaxing. Once the girls got to the island, the adventure was on. They built campfires on the beach and watched the sunset, and enjoyed the wonderful views. The next day they went up to Mount Constitution to look at the amazing views from there. Of course, Amy posted some great pictures to make us all jealous…and it worked!! Still, while I was jealous, I was also happy for her, because I knew that she was having a wonderful time, and it would have been a bummer for her to have to spend the Memorial Day weekend by herself.

Amy received an early birthday present this year, when she became a great aunt for the first time. Her nephew, Chris Petersen and his fiancé, Karen had their baby girl on May 30. While is was very exciting, Amy had hoped that the baby would hold out until her birthday. Nevertheless, Amy is excited to meet her new grandniece.

The adventures began for Amy about the time she and her family moved to Washington state, and they have continued in one form or another since that time. she and her husband, Travis have gone on several whale watching cruises, and taken a number of Ferry boat rides. They go to the beach regularly to watch the sunsets, and of course, Amy has lots more of her very favorite form of weather…rain. Her kids have moved there too, and now the family bowls on a league, taking first place on the league this year, and second place in the countywide tournament for the first place winners of each league. Her life has changed in many ways, and she is totally content in her new home. I am happy for her. He has flowers and plants that grow there that don’t in Wyoming, and she has her favorite bird…the hummingbird at her home on a regular basis. She loves the gray squirrels that hang out in her yard, and she loves the mountain views they have there. Life is full of adventures for Amy now, and that is very cool. Today is Amy’s birthday. For one month she and her sister get to be the same age again!! Sorry Corrie, but happy birthday Amy!! Have a totally awesome day!! We love you!!

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