nephews

Whether you are a die-hard football fan, or you just like to bet once in a while, many people find themselves in some kind of bet over the Super Bowl. Most bets are innocent enough, with everyone laying their money down to see if they can pick the winner, point spread, or just the right square on a grid. Lots of people even bet on the games leading up to the Super Bowl, to keep the fun going all season long. Normally the whole idea is to see who can come up with the most money won, but every once in a while, a bet takes place that has nothing to do with money, and in this case, that has made all the difference.

Mike and Ashley are two college students who have jumped on the tickle torture bandwagon. They read some of my tickle torture stories and the comments that followed, and Ashley decided that she wanted to “get” Mike when he could not defend himself. She solicited some assistance from her girlfriends, and one day, when Mike was taking a nap on her couch, he awoke to find that he was tied down, and his socks were being removed. He tried to fight the girls off, but they had him tied down tight. Thus began a series of bets to see who had to allow themselves to be tickle tortured. The ultimate winner was to win the torture session of a lifetime when the loser was tied down for the duration of the game.

The bet started out simple enough…between just the two of them, but it seems that Mike has made some “tickle enemies” over the years. That’s what happens when you have been the torturer to beat all torturers. Mike’s friends, cousins, parents, and even aunts and uncles wanted in on the fun. In the end, it was decided that there was to be one loser, and many winners. The tickle ideas began to run wild. Things like using a ball point pen to record the score changes on the bottoms of the loser’s feet, with a mandatory “scrubbing” of the feet to remove the old score changes…feathers between the toes, hair brushes, and a multitude of other tickle tools to round out the fun.

Unfortunately for Mike, he made so real poor team picks when it came to each week’s winning team picks. He lost to everyone, including nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, his parents, and all the girls. His goose was cooked…so to speak. When the Super Bowl rolled around, lots of plans had been made for our loser. Leading up to the torture session were plenty of pictures of stocking feet that would “not” be tickled in the days events. Everyone was in on this…and nobody was missing this Super Bowl Party.

On that fateful day, Mike had to allow himself to be restrained. The group had decided to wrap him up like a burrito so that he couldn’t move. The torture devises were put on display for Mike to get a good look at. He had thought to try keeping his socks on to protect his feet as much as possible, but you can’t keep your socks on when you are tied up like a burrito. You have no say. Of course, Mike was to be allowed breaks, but then his dad came up with the idea of making him win a bet in order to get his break. Things were not looking good for the guy who hadn’t won a week’s bets all season, and to top it off, Mike comes from a fun-loving tickle family. He was doomed. Everyone had their own ideas of the torture they would mete out…and since Mike was in his cocoon in the middle of the room, it was open season. There was even a finale that he had no idea was coming.

If you watched the Super Bowl, you have a good idea just how many score changes there were, and remember that the score changed for the touchdown, and for the conversion point. Mike said there were something like 12 score changes…and he would know. Mike had tortured all these people, and now it was payback time. Mike said that the worst part was the scrubbing off of the old score for the changes. That tickled worse than anything else. Mike told me that his feet were still feeling the tickle days later. He had never laughed so hard in his life. In fact he’s still recovering. He will never live this down. And as to the finale, well…it seems that at one time, Mike decided to prank his cousin by smashing a pie in her face. She has been waiting to just the right time to get even for that one, and so there was a cream pie just for the occasion. I wish I could have seen that one. Unfortunately, everyone was having so much fun, that the pictures were few, and far between. Nevertheless, the Super Bowl Tickle Torture was a grand success.

My nephew, Dave Chase is a good natured, and often funny guy. He likes a good joke and in general comedic situations. That is not what one would expect from him when you first meet him, however, because he seems a bit reserved…until you get to know him. Dave is the kind of man you like immediately, because he has a pleasing personality. He’s easy to talk to and intelligent, making conversations with him quite interesting. Dave has been a chief reservoir engineer, working for the Bureau of Land Management for a number of years, and in fact, knew my Aunt Sandy Pattan before he knew his future wife, my niece, Toni. Aunt Sandy was a little surprised when Dave told her who he was dating, and Dave was equally surprised when Aunt Sandy told him that Toni was her grandniece. They were both surprised.

Dave is all about family. From the moment he met Toni, he has worked hard at bonding with her son, James Renville, and these days they are good friends. James has a dad, but he also has a great step-dad, and they have a great time. When he married my niece, Dave inherited a large extended family. Toni has 4 siblings, and there are a number of nieces, nephews, grand nieces and a grand nephew. If you ask the kids about their Uncle Dave Chase, they will all tell you the same thing…”He loves his nieces and nephews.” Now to have one child say that is one thing, but when the consensus is in total agreement, you know that it is very true. Dave is generous and kind, and he is a lot of fun to be around. The kids all love him, and Dave feels the same way.

Dave is very athletic. He loves to play basketball, and I’m told that Dave runs circles around the younger crowd. Dave keeps himself in great shape, and you know that the work you are doing is working, when a kid says that you can run circles around the kids. Recently, Dave, like many government workers, spent a month on furlough because of the government shutdown, but Dave didn’t just sit around sulking, he took the opportunity to go skiing in Jackson. Dave loves to ski, and he had a great time. Nevertheless, he was glad to get back to work, because Dave isn’t the kind of guy to just sit around. He likes to stay busy. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My uncle, Bill Beadle spent much of his working life in the pipe yards. Later, he owned his own rathole drilling business with his sons, Forrest and Steve by his side. While Uncle Bill was a great machinist and general all around mechanic, he really loved fishing and bird hunting in the Worland area with his son, Steve. I’m sure that was also why Uncle Bill was content, in his later years to be living with Steve, his wife, Wanda, and their family. I can imagine they spent a lot pf time talking about their fishing trips, and walking the fields hunting for Pheasant and Chukars. Uncle Bill liked hunting them, because it was so exciting to walk the fields waiting for that unexpected bird to fly up out of nowhere. The hunter had just seconds to respond, and would be successful, only if he was a great hunter.

Uncle Bill always felt an obligation to try to keep the nephews on the right track, and if they had problems, or it looked like they were heading in the wrong direction, he was sit down with them and after talking to them a while, he could have them turned around and back in line. It was this aspect of Uncle Bill’s personality that endeared him to my cousin, Elmer. Uncle Bill, like many men enjoyed his pipe, for quite a few years, and his chew. That prompted Forrest and Elmer to think that chew was very cool. They got into a big block of chew when they were kids, and didn’t know not to swallow it. So when they were chewing it, they swallowed it, causing them both to turn about three shades of green. While the memory of it makes Elmer cringe, he had no desire to chew tobacco.

Uncle Bill was a great guy. He always had a way of making the kids laugh. There was always a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and plenty of mischief behind his smile. He loved to tease the kids, and all the kids loved it. Then he would laugh with his infectious laugh, and we all had a thoroughly great time. Uncle Bill was really not serious very much, at least not around most kids. That just wasn’t in his nature, at least not unless the kid was headed for trouble. Then the mood changed right away. He wasn’t mean, just matter of fact, and when all was said and done, the kid knew the right way to go. Uncle Bill was an interesting character, and we loved him. Today would have been Uncle Bill’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Bill. We love and miss you very much.

I’ve never really thought of my Aunt Dixie Richards as being exactly shy, but maybe that’s because I’ve known her all my life. She never seemed shy to me, or to any of the other kids in the family. Nevertheless, when I watched her in an old home movie my parents shot when they got one of those “new fangled” movie cameras, she seemed very shy. Of course, none of the family really wanted to have a home movie taken of them…probably because it was such a new thing, but in watching Aunt Dixie, I saw a bit of shyness on her face. I think that maybe I’m like Aunt Dixie in some ways, because I’m a bit of a shy girl too…until I get to know people.

As one of the younger children in a family of nine children, Aunt Dixie saw her older siblings get married and head off to start families. I’m sure that also gave her the opportunity to babysit her nieces and nephews. In many ways, I think that babysitting the little ones probably prepared her for having children of her own, as well as, babysitting a number of children of nieces and nephews later on. I didn’t know that she babysat so many children. I found that out last year, and I just think that is really awesome. For parents, having a babysitter that you can trust is vital.

Aunt Dixie also has grandchildren now too. She has four grandsons, and one granddaughter. She wasn’t sure she was going to ever get a granddaughter, but the last one was finally a girl. The boys, being a little older, are often off doing their own things, so this summer, Aunt Dixie has spent a lot of time with her granddaughter, Mayme Williams. They have had a lot of fun, and now that school is ready to begin, Aunt Dixie told me that she is feeling pretty sad that her time with Mayme is ending, but at six years old, she has to go to first grade. At least Aunt Dixie will have time with the kids after school, and that always makes her feel better. Today is Aunt Dixie’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Since my grand niece, Katie Balcerzak was a little girl, she wanted to be a mommy, just like most little girls do. After her marriage to my nephew, Keifer, she and Keifer were doggie parents to their puppies, but now they have decided that the time has come to have a child of a different kind. So, in February, their new little bundle of joy will make his or her appearance. In the meantime, it’s always a good thing that parents-to-be have time to prepare for their little one, and all of the changes that come along with being parents, because life is about to get really interesting for them…and for their puppy girls…who will most likely ease right into being “sisters” without batting an eye, because dogs love kids…at least all the dogs I have ever known. And especially if they get to know the baby from birth. Dogs just seem to know that they have a new playmate coming soon.

I think for Katie, being a mom will not be something so new, because she has been an aunt for a number of years, and therefore, she knows how to take care of babies. Anytime a girl has an older sibling, who has kids, she finds herself babysitting at a young age. And when a girl babysits, she learns how to take care of children. For Katie, who has long wanted kids, working at the Montessori School has been another way to prepare for her new role as mommy. I think that in reality, Katie’s whole adult life has been an ongoing preparation for having children of her own, and I am so excited for her as she and Keifer embark on the new world of parenthood, and all the incredible joys that go along with it. Babies, while a lot of work, are a most rewarding part of life.

Katie is a fun loving girl with a beautiful smile, and I think Keifer loved her from the moment he first laid eyes on her. She has a goofy side that appeals to the kids she spends time around, and she is patient with them too, so that endears her to them very quickly. Kids love an adult who doesn’t mind playing kid games and acting silly sometimes, and Katie is willing to do that. I suppose that would make her a kid at heart, and that’s ok. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Once In A While 1Once In A While 2When we think of soldiers, most of us picture the fighting machines that these men have been trained to be, and we would not be wrong in most respects, but what we sometimes fail to realize is the fact that a soldier is a person with a deep love of human life. They don’t go to war because they want to be trained killers, but rather they go to war because they want to preserve life, and a way of life. They see that there are people in this world who are being abused, beaten, and starved into submission…or worse yet killed for refusing to submit. There are evil people in this world, who somehow feel that they have the right to control other human lives. They want servants, or they want to sell people, or just own people. Soldiers go to war, because they see these evil actions for the wrong that they are, and they can’t stand by and let it just happen.

So yes, in that respect, our picture of the trained killer is exactly right, but what we so often miss is the human side of the soldier. We miss the man or woman who has left their own children, nieces, or nephews behind to go and fight for children in some other country, so that they might be able to live out their lives in the same safety that the children, nieces, and nephews of the soldier are able to live in back home. The problem is that we don’t often realize what things they do for those children in other nations. We don’t often see the moments of playing with the children. We don’t see the children who come up to the soldiers, because they feel safe around them…even with the possibility of gunfire at any moment. They still feel safer near the soldiers than they do on their own.

And for our soldiers, who are so lonely for their own children, nieces and nephews, it is a nice break from the reality of war, with all its ugliness, even if it is just once in a while, and even if it is just for a few moments. Maybe they can take a few moments and pretend that this child they are playing with is their own child at home. Maybe they can pretend that they are pushing their own child in a swing, on a merry-go-round, or just giving them a simple hug. Perhaps those few moments that they get once in a while, can take them away from Once In A While 3Once In A While 4the worry for their own safety, or the fact that in a little while they will be faced with an enemy, who they will have to kill, or they will be killed. War is a hard place to be, and a life event that no soldier can ever forget, so it is nice, for just a few moments, to be able to spend a little time with a child, to get away from the war and the ugliness that lies within it. Sometimes we, the people back home need to just consider the sacrifice our soldiers make, and be glad that they have a moment of relief, even if it is just once in a while.

Henriette Albertine SchumacherLetter from Henriette to MinaMy Uncle Bill Spencer always loved the handwritten letters that were written by his family. It didn’t matter to him if it was nieces or nephews, his siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins. He saw in every word, great value…as if it were pure gold. The more I look at old letters, and search for information about my family online, the more I realize that Uncle Bill was really on to something. Seeing the handwriting of our ancestors…be it on a letter, draft card, or photograph always gets me excited. To think that my ancestor actually signed that card, or wrote that letter is very cool. I especially love finding things that were written in some other language. When my grandmother Anna Schumacher Spencer and her brother Albert Schumacher were in school, the teacher made fun of their language. When they came home and told their mother, my great grandmother, Henriette Hensel Schumacher, she decided that German would no longer be spoken in their home. I don’t know if she ever changed her mind on that issue, but if German was spoken, it was not often. So to find a letter written in German by my Great Grandmother Henriette Schumacher to her daughter, my Aunt Min Schumacher Spare is especially exciting. I Translation of letter from Henriette to MinaLetter from Henriette to Mina 2wish that I understood then, what I understand now about the handwriting of my ancestors. I am so excited about to find these great letters from people I have come to feel like I know well.

When I look at the handwriting of my great grandmother, I see a woman who, even in the face of much pain and adversity, prided herself on her handwriting. Of course, life happens, and we can’t always have the same control of our handwriting that we once might have, but at the time of this letter in May of 1911, her handwriting was pretty and delicate. My great grandmother suffered much with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and yet, I believe that she loved beautiful things, and that she was a delicate and beautiful woman. I know that she was so proud of her family. She would like to help them all she could, but with a large family, and tough times, it was not much. Nevertheless, it was her hope that all of her children would succeed in anything they chose to do…after all, America was the land of opportunity.

Mina Schumacher always wanted to be a teacher, but in the end, she became a bookkeeper. I think she was probably ok with that, but maybe always felt a bit of regret. Nevertheless, her hanwriting to me shows strong Mina Schumacherimg661woman who loved the pretty and delicate things in life. She often signed things using beautiful script or calligraphy. It was her own sense of style. Many people never give any thought to the impression their signature will make on another person, but she did, and I loved it since the first time I saw it in my dad’s photo album. It was just as beautiful and graceful as she was. She knew that the handwriting of our ancestors is important.

Toni and DaveWhenever a man marries a woman with a child, he has a decision to make. He can receive that child as his own, or he can choose to alienate that child. Whichever way he goes, he will find that it isn’t an easy job, if that child has a dad of his own already. There is a fine line between being a step-dad, and trying to replace the biological dad, and crossing the line is unacceptable. Nevertheless, if the step-dad wants to have some kind of relationship with his step-son, he has to establish the boundaries…for both their sakes. Often, the child had hoped his parents might get back together, or that his mom would never remarry…while knowing deep down that neither of these ideas were possible, or reasonable.

When my niece, Toni met her future second husband, Dave Chase, she found herself so truly happy, but she also wanted to make sure that her son, James was going to be ok with all this. In reality, she needn’t have worried about it, because while James wasn’t always receptive to Dave as a father figure, Dave would eventually win Florida triphim over. That’s the kind of guy Dave is. James couldn’t help but like him, even if he tried not to at first. It’s hard on a kid to have to accept that his parents will not get back together, but once James accepted that, he has found that his life with Toni and Dave has been a really great one. He still has the same contact with his dad, but he has been able to have some great experiences with his mom and step-dad.

Dave loves to travel, and especially to hike, and so the family has had the opportunity to visit places like Virginia Beach, Malibu, California, and Florida…all places James had never been before. They have hiked lots of places too, like the Mirror Lake Trail in the Snowy Range, near Laramie, Wyoming. And because Dave has never tried to replace his dad, James has accepted him a the great step-dad he is. All too often, if a step-dad finds that the relationship with his step-child isn’t a easy one, he simply quits trying, and that is really sad, because in all reality, none of these types of relationships are easy ones, but they are worthwhile if they work at them. I think that Dave’s easy going, fun loving personality was a big part of the reason that James warmed up to him so well. I’m sure they don’t always agree on just everything, but whenever I see them together, they are obviously getting along very well. James has his own dad, but he is also blessed with a great step-dad, who didn’t have to be so good to him, but James, Toni and Dave hikingwho chose to be so good to him. And that is a blessing indeed, because he didn’t have to be a great step-dad.

Dave is such a great fit in our entire family too. He is helpful to my sister, Cheryl Masterson, and my mom, Collene Spencer. He dearly loves his little nieces and nephews, and they love him too. Those little girls especially have their uncle wrapped around their little fingers. And that’s an ok place to be when you think about it. What could be better that to have all these little kids hanging around you and thinking you are the greatest. It just doesn’t get better than that. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Beautiful MarlyceKids have a tendency to pick on the child who is most bothered by it…especially siblings. In Bob’s family, the child most bothered by it was, none other than Marlyce. She was the oldest child, but with her developmental disabilities, she would never really be the oldest child mentally. Nevertheless, she was able to do most things for herself, and she excelled at knitting and cookie baking. While Marlyce was great at these things, she did not respond well to the normal teasing that kids do with their siblings. That didn’t stop her three sisters and two brothers from teasing her anyway. In fact, for as long as I knew Marlyce, they picked on her rather unmercifully. They weren’t mean about it, but she was sensitive, so she took it wrong. In reality, much of the teasing was funny, and I think especially for the younger siblings, it was all done in pure fun.
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When she wasn’t being teased, Marlyce was very loving to her siblings, and if someone else was picking on them… look out, because Marlyce was their biggest protector. In reality, Marlyce had a very soft heart. Not only did she not like to be teased, but in her opinion, it was simply not right to pick on her siblings either. She might get really mad at them, but she loved each of them dearly.

Another part of Marlyce’s life that held high importance to her was her nieces and nephews. In her opinion they could do almost no wrong…except for that pesky teasing that they embarked on every now and then too. Funny thing though, the nieces and nephews got away with a little bit more when it came to teasing than the rest of the siblings.

Amy with MarlyceAs for me, well normally, I am really into teasing too, but somehow, with Marlyce, I didn’t have the heart for it much. Don’t get me wrong, I could see the humor in the teasing that was done, but I somehow ended up being her protector, I guess. Marlyce was one of the most special people in my life, and I loved her very much. There never was a kinder, sweeter, more loving person on earth. She has been gone from us now for almost 25 years, but in my memory files, I can picture her so vividly telling me that she made her wonderful chocolate chip cookies. I miss her very much, and I look forward to seeing her again. Today would have been Marlyce’s 64th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love you.

Hattie-Goodman-Family-Tree01A while back I discovered, or should I say, connected the Susan Spencer in Bob’s family tree to my family tree, thereby confirming the cousinship that I suspected between Bob and me. Recently, as I was looking again at the beautiful family tree that Hattie Goodman, who was an ancestor of Bob’s mother’s family, put together and I had seen so many years ago, I started thinking about some of the other implications of that connection…specifically regarding my family, and more specifically my sisters, nieces, and nephews.

So often, we go through life separating, or keeping our families straight by catagorizing them as our family and our in-laws. Then we look at the families of our siblings, and catagorize them Our Familyas friends or our sibling’s family. And most of the time that works well, but in my situation, and that of my family…on both sides, it ended up being a little different.

I have to wonder if my sisters have considered the fact, that if Bob is my 10th cousin twice removed, he is also their 10th cousin twice removed. Now, that is interesting enough, but go one step further. If Bob is our 10th cousin twice removed, then his sisters and brother are also our 10th cousins twice removed…and to top it off, our kids are 10th cousins 3 times removed to Bob and his siblings. Ok, if you find that to be a little odd, then consider imagethis. My girls are 10th cousins 3 times removed…to their dad!!! Now, that is totally mind blowing, but truth nevertheless!!

People could let such relationships get to be more of a big deal than they really are, if they aren’t careful, as was the case, when it came out that Prince William and Princess Kate are actually cousins. If you think about it, since we all came from Adam and Eve, I suppose that we are all cousins or some other relationship, so we might just as well get over the stigma that we have attached to that. In reality, we are all just one big happy faimly.

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