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After an extra-long wait, my newest great grandson, Jusin King Todd Petersen has finally arrived. Justin went past his due date, but babies do have their own schedules. His parents, Athena Salazar and Josh Petersen have been so excited about welcoming their little boy, and everything seemed to be pointing to an early birth, but someone forgot to tell Justin that. Nevertheless, after an extra-long wait, Justin arrived on October 14, 2022, at 8:20am, weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 19¾ inches long. He has dark hair, ten fingers and ten toes, and he is just perfect in every way. He is Athena and Josh’s first child, and they couldn’t be happier.

Justin is a sweet little baby, who calms immediately to his parents’ voices, and snuggles right up to them, as if to say, “Now, I know where I am.” That could be what he is thinking too, because being born puts a guy in a very different place than when he was living in his mommy’s tummy. It can seem a little too big and wide open out there. Nevertheless, Justin seems to be handling the transition very well. He’s just hanging out and chillin’ in the hospital room. So far, he just hanging out with his parents, grandparents, and the doctors and nurses, but soon he will be home, and there will be lots of new people to meet. If Justin thinks being out in the world was a shock, wait until he starts meeting new people. It’s a big world out there, baby boy!!

I am so excited for the next phase of Athena and Josh’s lives. They both love kids, and that means that Justin will not only have siblings one day, but he will have a wonderful life, filled with cousins and close family ties. Athena and Josh are very family oriented. They love lots of family time, and Justin will have lots of grandparent time too. Athena comes from a larger family while Josh comes from a smaller family, so there are two different views of family life. Nevertheless, they seem to be combining the two views very well, and Justin will have the advantages of both worlds. Having nieces and nephews makes Athena and Josh pretty much experts at the whole kid thing, and so they are pretty comfortable with a new baby. Nevertheless, they are first-time parents, and there will be initiations…some of which they have already experienced, like how very different changing a diaper is with a boy than with a girl. Soon though, they will be experts at Justin and his ways. I can’t wait to watch them as their little family grows. Welcome to the world, Justin King Todd Petersen!! We love you very much!!

My youngest grandson, Josh Petersen is not a kid anymore. In fact, he and his fiancée, Athena Salazar are about to become parents…likely before the end of this month, or at the very latest, early next month. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that my “youngest” grandchild is so grown up and is about to become a daddy, but here we are. The years fly by so very fast. I remember when his mom dropped him and his brother, Chris Petersen at my house in the mornings. It was my job to take the kids to school each morning, since I went to work an hour later than my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce. Josh always came in the door with the same words…”Treat Grandma!!” There was no “Hi Grandma” or “I’m here, Grandma.” Just “Treat Grandma!!” That boy was always hungry. In fact, as much as he ate, I have no idea how he stayed so skinny, but he was certainly a skinny little kid.

All through his pre-driving school years, I took Josh and his brother to school, and then picked them up after so they could go to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club. While it was really noisy, the kids always had a great time at the club. As they got a little bit older, I’m sure the pool tables and other “big kid” games were the big draw. Now finding those kids after the workday was over was a totally different story. There were so many kids there, that you really had to search hard to find your kids. It seems so long ago when those kids, Chris, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh were all in school. In so many ways, I really miss those days, but then if we were still in those days, I wouldn’t have the two great grandchildren I have, and little Justin, who is on the way.

His school days are over now, and Josh has become a man. He has met the girl of his dreams, Athena Salazar. Strangely, these two first met in middle school, and then reconnected when they were working together at Sanford’s. They knew right away that this was it…the real thing!! They have been inseparable ever since, and now their little family is growing, as they add baby, Justin. We are all so excited to meet him. Today is Josh’s 24th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Katie Balcerzak has been a part of our family, since she married my grandnephew, Keifer Balcerzak in 2015. Together they have two beautiful children, Reece and Aysa Balcerzak. They have been so blessed with two happy, smiling children, who bring more joy to their lives than they could ever have imagined. Reece was born in 2017 and Asa was born in 2021. Now their family is complete. They love doing all the fun activities, like sports and such. Reece is trying different things like t-ball, and while that may not be the sort for her, Katie and Keifer encourage her to give it a shot. They are good parents…always encouraging their kids and each other.

I liked Katie from the first time I met her. We have a few things in common, mostly that we both have sisters, and no brothers. It can make us feel unsure about having boys. While I didn’t have boys, I had three grandsons and only one granddaughter. Katie had a daughter first, and then her son. Either way, for a girl with all sisters, even if she had nephews, having those boys is a bit of a culture shock. Nevertheless, you adapt, and Katie has adapted beautifully. In fact, the love she has for both of her children shows all over her face. It’s just beautiful.

Katie has always been very close to her sisters. The bond they have reminds me of my bond with my sisters. There is something about a family of sisters. Girls think alike. They like the same things, and they like to share their hopes and dreams. The bond between sisters is like a best friend, but much closer. That is the bond Katie has with her sisters, Kellee Schuerman, Martha Simkin, and Bernnie Steadham, have had since they were little girls. Whenever they are together, you can see their love for each other by the smiles on their faces. There is a closeness, comradery, and sisterhood, that is forever. Katie has had the privilege of being a part of a wonderful family, and parents, Vicki Jammerman and Thad Davidson, who taught her and her sisters to be loving, nurturing, and kind people. Their parents taught them good values and it shows in their lives.

When Katie met Keifer, it was love almost immediately. They were young, but they knew that they would become a couple, and grow a family…and that is exactly what they did. They two sweet people were meant to be together. Theirs is a match made in Heaven, and it grows more and more beautiful with each passing day. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Lizzie Borden was a unique character for her era, in that the thing that most people remember about her was her arrest and trial for the axe murders of her father and stepmother in 1892. While many people believe she was guilty of the murders, she was actually acquitted in 1893. For whatever reason, the case against her was such that it could not be proven “without a shadow of a doubt,” which is the requirement for a conviction.

Lizzie Borden was born on July 19, 1860, in Fall River, Massachusetts. Lizzie Borden and her sister, Emma, were born to Andrew and Sarah Borden. Sarah Borden died a short time after Lizzie’s birth. The girls lived with their father, Andrew Borden who married a woman named Abby Durfee Gray, three years after Sarah’s passing. The relationship between the girls and their stepmother was not a close one, in fact, they greeted her as “Mrs. Borden” and worried that Abby Borden’s family sought to gain access to their father’s money. Emma was protective of her younger sister and, together, the two sisters helped to manage the rental properties owned by Andrew Borden. The family attended the Congregationalist Church, an institution in which Lizzie was particularly involved. The family lived well. Andrew Borden was successful enough in the fields of manufacturing and real estate development to support his wife and two daughters, Emma and Lizzie quite comfortably. He also employed servants to keep their home in order. Both Emma and Lizzie lived with their father and stepmother into adulthood.

On August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were found murdered in their home. Of course, as is common, the family is questioned in these cases, and in the end, Lizzie was arrested and tried for the axe murders. It seems strange to me that after living with the couple for almost thirty years, Lizzie would suddenly decide that she didn’t need them anymore…especially since her dad was so financially successful, and his death could bring an end to that financial security. Nevertheless, it’s hard to say what can push someone over the edge. I guess the jury must have agreed with my own train of thought because Lizzie was found not guilty. Even with the trial and the trauma of all that happened, Lizzie continued to live in Fall River until her death, on June 1, 1927. The murders of her father and stepmother were never solved.

On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered and mutilated in their Fall River home. It was Lizzie Borden who alerted the maid, Bridget, to her father’s dead body. He had been attacked and killed while sleeping on the sofa. A search of the home led to the discovery of the body of Abby Borden in an upstairs bedroom. Like her husband, Abby Borden was the victim of a brutal hatchet attack. The police were called to the scene of the murders, and they suspected Lizzie immediately. Nevertheless, she was not taken into custody at that time. Her sister, Emma, was out of town at the time and was never a suspect. Apparently, Lizzie burned a dress during the week between the murders and her arrest. She said the dress was stained with paint, so it needed to be burned. The prosecutors believed that the dress was stained with blood, and that Lizzie had burned it to cover up her crime, which is why she was indicted on December 2, 1892. Her widely publicized trial began the following June in New Bedford. Borden did not take the stand in her own defense and her inquest testimony was not admitted into evidence. The testimony provided by others proved inconclusive. On June 20, 1893, Lizzie Borden was acquitted of the murders, and no one else was ever charged with the crimes.

Following the deaths of their dad and stepmom, Lizzie and Emma Borden inherited a significant portion of their father’s estate. They purchased a new home together and lived together for the following decade. Although she was acquitted, Lizzie was considered guilty by many of her neighbors and her reputation was further tarnished when she was accused of shoplifting in 1897. Then in 1905, Emma Borden abruptly moved out of the house that she shared with her sister. While no one ever knew what happened between the sisters, they never spoke again. Speculation was that Emma may have been uncomfortable with Lizzie’s close friendship with another woman, Nance O’Neil, but she never really said that was the case. Emma’s silence on the matter fueled speculation that she learned new details about the murders of her father and stepmother. The household staff were tight-lipped on the matter and didn’t even offer additional information on the rift following Lizzie’s death. Lizzie Borden died of pneumonia in Fall River, Massachusetts, on June 1, 1927. Strangely, the day Lizzie died, Emma had an accident and broke her hip. She died due to chronic nephritis, 9 days later, on June 10, 1927. The Borden sisters, along with the rest of the family, are buried side by side at the family plot in Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River.

My sister, Caryl Reed is my junior by three years, but since we are both grown up, the years really don’t make much difference. It’s the same with all my sisters really. We are all like-minded…the products of the good upbringing of our parents, Al and Collene Spencer. While our parents are in Heaven now, I think they would be very proud of their “prayer warrior” daughters. Our parents raised us to be believing Christians, and in these turbulent times, I can’t imagine living without God’s leading in my life. I know my sisters feel the same way.

Caryl currently lives in Rawlins, for a few more months. Then she and her husband Mike Reed will begin their new life on “the ranch” outside Casper. They have been working very hard to get their beautiful ranch up and running. They had a home built there, as well as a “barn” with a huge garage area to store their farming equipment in and a recreation/trophy room to house the trophies from Mike’s hunting trips. There is also an apartment above the “barn” which can be rented out or used as a guest house if needed. They have had their first two crops of hay already, and these were both sold to their neighbor, who was so excited to buy locally and very close to home. All in all, “the ranch” has been a very successful “side gig” for them.

Of course, the “side gig” part of the ranch isn’t the main reason they bought the ranch. Caryl and Mike love the atmosphere of the ranch. It is far enough outside of town to be quiet and peaceful. The views from their windows, especially from the dining room are simply stunning. Being there is the single most relaxing part of their lives today…as well as the most work, because on a working ranch, sitting for hours admiring the view of the mountains isn’t really an option for very long. Caryl and Mike are always improving the place. They basically built everything from scratch. There was a small house…that their friend and ranch hand lives in; and birthing buildings…that had to be torn down. Other than that, the ranch was raw land. Now is it beautiful, and a wonderful home for them.

Caryl has always been a country girl at heart. I lived in the country for about 20 years, but I can’t say that I was a country girl. As my sister, Alena Stevens once said, “You are a city girl. You just sleep in the country.” Hahahahaha!! So true, Alena. So true. Caryl, however, really always wanted to live on a ranch, with horses, and possibly a number of other animals, especially dogs. Caryl has always embraced everything country, and very soon, she will be living there full time. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! 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.

Corrie pregnant with ChrisWhen my daughter, Corrie Petersen married the love of her life, Kevin Petersen in 1993, at the young age of 18 years, they had been dating for three years already. Kevin was a part of our family, and he was enough older than Corrie to be able to “take care of” her in the way I expected of him. Corrie and Kevin did some things early in their marriage. The bought their first home within about three months of getting married…no wasting their money on rent. I was very proud of them when the got that house, and it was such a cute little house, just down the street three blocks from my parents. I liked that they were close and drove by my parents house on their way home. If my parents needed help, Corrie and Kevin were close by.

Soon, their lives were changing, as their boys arrived. During her pregnancy with Christopher, Corrie worked as a waitress at the restaurant Kevin’s dad, Dean Petersen and his mom Becky Skelton owned. Kevin worked there too, making it a family business. Corrie’s belly got so big with Christopher that she could actually carry a tray on it. That is not uncommon, as anyone who has had a baby can tell you, but it was rather comical to see Corrie with a tray on her belly, and the customers are all probably hoping the baby doesn’t kick.

Over the years I have watched as they have gone through things as a couple, and how they are always there for each other. Life happens, and a couple who is there for each other can weather the storms of life when they come. They have faced a miscarriage, health issues, disability, and career changes and yet they stand strong together. Now that Corrie is in nursing school, I have been so pleased with how Kevin has taken care of her. He cooks the meals and takes care of the house, and all with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia, as well as the complications that go with them. Corrie takes care of him too, in all things medical. They each have talents hey can use to care for the other. It is a very sweet thing to watch.

The old poem by Robert Browning that reads like this “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!” is something that reminds me of Corrie and Kevin. They just keep plugging along, supporting each other through any difficulty, and cheering each other on through every accomplishment. That is what marriage is all about…being there for each other. Today is Corrie and Kevin’s 28th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary Corrie and Kevin!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s a strange thing to have something you have expected to last for a certain period of time, come to an abrupt end. You find yourself hanging in limbo, and it can become depressing, or I suppose it could become exhilarating, if it was something you didn’t really like anyway. Such has been the case with the 2020 school year, and the Covid-19 Pandemic that changed everything. Yes, the students are still in class, at least virtual class, but it really isn’t the same. I understand about homeschooling, but for parents who did not expect to make that commitment, it can be a daunting task. There is more to it than just the classwork too. Kids need structure, and having summer begin at Spring Break threw everyone into a tailspin. At first it just seemed like a really long Spring Break, then when the virtual classes started, they really started to miss the time spent with their friends and their teachers…even the tough ones. It seems that being in class with a teacher who makes you work for your grade, is preferable to being at home with your parents acting as your teacher, and you are in detention, even if you did nothing wrong.

At first, when it was just the extended Spring Break, and people were staying at home, no one really noticed that he kids were out of school. Then, as the weather got warmer, people got out on the trails and on the playgrounds, still “social distancing,” but getting a little bit of fresh air and removing themselves from the “cabin fever” that was quickly threatening their sanity. Suddenly, we became very aware that these kids should be in school. While the weather was warmer, it wasn’t summer yet. The school year of 2020 had only officially run for seven of the nine months it was supposed to. In fact, truth be told, school should still be in session…even now. And yet, while summer vacation is not here yet, the schools are closed. The 2020 school year hasn’t officially ended, and it isn’t officially in progress either. Parents are worried about the education their kids got this last quarter. Virtual classes were shorter that normal, and so the kids spent far less time in virtual class too. Nothing about the last quarter of school was normal. The kids didn’t always get to class, but did the homework, thinking it was enough, and for some of them, maybe it was, but what of the rest of them…the ones who needed that class time. Were they left hanging…time will tell, I guess.

The next school year is still up in the air too. There are schools who have said that they will open, and others who will continue the virtual program. That has parents up in arms too, because they are preparing to go back to work, and they will need someone to be home with their children while they work. A virtual teacher doesn’t really replace the safety of being in the classroom with a teacher in charge. All the “experts” have said that life is going to take on a “new normal,” and they may be right, but I think that if school doesn’t start back up next school year, there will be a lot of parents who might need to start taking Prozac or something similar. Most parents find themselves impatiently awaiting the end of summer so the kids can go back to school, but this year was like the summer that never ended. The kids are just as bored, and there was no place to send them. The pools aren’t going to open, the rec centers either, and there is only so much a kid can do at the school playground. The walking paths are frequented by kids on bicycles and longboards, and even kids walking their dogs, but the reality is, these kids need to go back to school. They are designed to be social beings, not socially distanced.

My sister, Cheryl Masterson has always been a part of my life, because she is two years older than I am. She was there when I came home from the hospital, eager to have a little sister, and ready to teach me the things she had learned in her, then short life. I don’t know what I would have done if she had not always been there, and I am forever grateful that I didn’t have to find out. Cheryl and I have always had the bond that can only the two oldest siblings can have, the elder because she was no longer the only child, all alone, and the younger because she never had to be alone. Of course, we both love our younger sisters the same as we do each other, but we have also known each other longer than we have known the younger ones. I think that we have almost felt like a slightly different generation than our younger sisters, probably from the fact than there were just two of us until I was three and Cheryl was five, instead of the two years between Cheryl and me.

Through the years, Cheryl and I remained close even through the tougher teen years, probably more my “bad” than hers. Of the two of us, I have no choice but to admit that I am a “stubborn mule” sometimes…something I believe as both served me well, and made things difficult too. Cheryl, on the other hand is a person who is of a pure heart, who actively strives to do what is good and right in the sight of God. I don’t say she isn’t somewhat stubborn too, but maybe not quite as stubborn as a mule. What I find most endearing though is her heart. She is able to look past the current situation, to the solution. I think she got that from our dad. He was always the kind of person who knew how to take charge of a situation and be the guide to take the rest of us forward. Many is the time that I just wanted to scream at someone, and Cheryl told me that screaming would not produce the best outcome. She was right, of course. Losing our temper is the fastest way to turn people against you. A soft word, and forgiveness reaches many more hearts. Don’t get me wrong, Cheryl is not a pushover, just wiser than many other people in certain matters.

During the years when we were taking of our parents, Cheryl carried such a heavy portion of the load. Being divorced with grown children, Cheryl lived with Mom and Dad, and the rest of us, sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I will be forever grateful to her for that. Cheryl, cooked and cleaned the house, helped them get to bed, gave them their meds, and kept them company…and so much more. She was an integral part of the team of people we had helping with their care. I was a show of the deep family love we had, taught to us by our parents, and carried out through our parents’ care and beyond. We are all very close and always will be. The bonds that are built during such a venture are strong and really unbreakable.

Cheryl loves her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren so much. They are her heart and soul. She is very devoted to them. She prays over them, helps them, babysits for them, hangs out with them. They are her best friends. Her youngest granddaughter, Aleesia especially likes to hang out with her grandma, and in fact, would love it if Cheryl lived with them, so she could see her all the time. Of course that’s not possible, so Aleesia often spends weekends and part of the evenings with Cheryl. They have a very special bond that not many grandchildren are blessed with. Many live too far away, or are not as close as Cheryl’s family, so they don’t have such a tight connection. Not that they are not loved, but just that they aren’t together as often. Cheryl’s connection is a beautiful thing to see, and I’m so happy that she has that connection. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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.

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