My grandnephew, Zack Spethman is a great kid, but he is quickly growing up and is hardly a kid anymore. Today he became a teenager, and is just about to finish his first year of middle school. That put him back at the same school and his brother and good friend, Xander. The share many activities, likes and dislikes, and their similar personalities. Football is the sport above all sports for them. They love to watch and play. It is a family tradition. The three Spethman brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac rising up through the ranks of school football. It keeps their parents busy with all the games.
Of course, football isn’t everything in their lives. Zack loves to climb mountains, play pool, and shoot guns…everything from air guns, to paintball guns, to real guns. He is a good shot and goes to practice with his family often, but he also knows about gun safety, and has passed the hunter safety course, so he can go hunting. Still, while hunting is a great adventure, the boys love combat competitions. They love to strategize the ways to dominate and “take out” the other team. Zack and Xander tend to pool their strategic resources to obtain the victory.
Zack’s dad, Steve Spethman decided to remodel the family kitchen earlier this year, and the boys got to learn about construction by helping their dad do the work. They were very attentive and meticulous about the work, and they learned a lot about the construction business. Their dad is a great carpenter, and a great teacher, so they learned from the best. They often work with their dad, and he is teaching them the value of hard work. Their parents have also taught the kids to be responsible for each other and for their little sister, and this is a job Zack takes seriously. He can often be seen encouraging his siblings and assisting his little sister, Aleesia. They are all very close.
Zack is such a sweet, kind young man, and we are all proud of him. He is loyal and loving to his family, and helpful to all in need. He is always there to give a hug or a word of encouragement. He is a good student, and is responsible. When he says he will be somewhere, he is. That was never more clear that when he was given an award for the best attendance in football last year. With his winning attitude and awesome personality, I know Zach will go far. He is a blessing to those who know him. Today is Zack’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grand nephew, Xander Spethman is just completing his last year of elementary school, and when his mom, Jenny Spethman told me that, I just couldn’t believe it. Where could all the years have gone. Xander doesn’t seem like a little boy to me anymore, I suddenly realized, but it still doesn’t seem possible that he is ready for middle school. I know that when my grandchildren started going to middle school, it felt strange to think that they would not all be in the same school as their siblings anymore. That is what my first thought was concerning Xander too. Would it feel odd that he wouldn’t see his brothers, Zack and Isaac during the day anymore. And would it feel strange for them that their big brother would be in a different school now. Maybe kids don’t think that way. Maybe it’s just me. and the way my mind works. It just seems so strange when the big brother, who has made himself his brothers’ keeper, will now no longer be there to keep a close eye on his little brothers.
Xander has always been a boy who takes responsibility seriously. Whether it is watching out for his brothers and sister, taking out the trash for his grandma without being asked, stocking shelves for the little neighborhood grocery story, or helping his dad, Steve Spethman work for days to help clear fallen branches in his neighborhood after a severe snow storm last year. He sees what needs to be done and he simply figures he might as well be the one to do it…an amazing decision for a boy.
Xander is a leader and not a follower. He has a God given take charge attitude. He leads other in the right direction and encourages them to do what is right. Xander stands up for God, and stays focused in the Word. His bed can often be found with his Bible on it, open to the last page of study. He talks about God to his siblings, parents, and anyone else who will listen. He truly loves the Lord, and that has made him a good listener too. He listens for Gods leading, and he listens to people too. He hears the things that make them happy and hears the things that are bothering them. Then he helps out where he can. Being a good listener is a rare trait these days. So many people can only focus on the tings they want to say, and they don’t notice that they are making it impossible for others to speak at all. But Xander is a true listener, and he makes sure that he understands what he hears too, so their are no misunderstandings.
Then, in his spare time, Xander loves sports, and anything that his dad is doing. He took hunter safety last year in preparation and anticipation of going hunting with his dad this year…and he can hardly wait. Having a hunting partner has been his dad’s dream too, and this year, both their dreams will come true. Xander is becoming a fine young man, and will always make his parents and family proud. He is also a great friend, and all of his friends enjoy spending time with him. What a great kid Xander is, and now he is moving up to the next level of greatness. Today, Xander is 12 years old. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Each of us looks back on our life at one point or another, to reflect on all that has transpired, and the roads traveled to get to the point at which we have arrived. One of the things that often becomes the subject of such reflection, is just how we knew that our parents loved us. Sometimes people mistakenly talk about all the things their parents have given them. Of course, these people are usually teenagers, who have gone beyond the innocent understanding that love isn’t about things, but have not yet reached the point of adulthood, when they will understand that it is often the life lessons taught rather than the gifts received that they value the most.
In reading my Great Aunt Bertha Hallgren’s journal, I noted that one of the ways she felt the love her father had for her was that he made sure that they were in school, except when they were ill. Even though they lived further away than any of the other children at the school, their attendance was the best by far. The children were wrapped tightly in warm blankets for the journey on those cold North Dakota winter days, but they were in school nevertheless. Great Grandpa Carl Schumacher knew the importance of an education, and was determined that his children would have one. Whenever I hear of a student who wishes their parents wouldn’t make them go to school, I am reminded first that they are very young and naïve, and second that they will someday feel differently about that whole situation.
I know of many parents who have given their children a car and other such expensive gifts, and people seem to feel like they must love them very much. I suppose that could be true, but at the same time, the child has been cheated out of an important life lesson…earning the things you want. When my girls were preparing to drive, I told them that they would need a car, a driver’s license, gasoline, insurance, and a job to pay for all that. I suppose that there were people who saw that as mean on my part, but it is one of the life lessons that my girls look back on fondly. They never felt cheated, they felt empowered. That was the gift they were given, and to this day, they are both strong, capable women, who have raised their children in much the same way. I’m not saying anything against parents who did give their kids a car and such, but rather that this was the standard we chose to give our children. I’m also sure that parents who gave their children a car have taught them other life lessons that their children look back on when they reflect on the love their parents have for them. That is the privilege each parent has…to raise their children in the way that they see fit.
I look back on my own parents, and the standards they set for us, with a sense of pride, because they were great parents. We were never given a car…probably, that is why I did things as I did, but we were give much love, and guidance. We had chores to do, and we helped with cooking. We can all cook and keep house to this day too. We didn’t get to eat out all the time, so when we did, it was a special treat, but I never felt like that I was cheated in any way. My parents showed their love in so many other ways. They raised us to be respectful, and as a result, respected. They showed us love, no matter what, and as a result, we know how to show love…no matter what. They showed us that just as God forgives us for our sins, we need to be forgiving of others and especially not to let the sun go down on your anger. They showed us unconditional love. We knew that nothing we did was going to lose us the love of our parents. Oddly, that made us try harder to do good…or maybe that was their plan all along. Looking back on those times makes me realize that the best way to show you love your child is to live it. Teach them values mixed with compassion, and they will try their hardest to live up to the standards you set for them. That is a real show of love.
We don’t often think of little boys as being responsible, caring people, but when I look back on the life of my grand nephew, Xander, I see a very different boy than what most people see in boys. Xander is the oldest of the five children of my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve. Being the oldest has it’s responsibilities, and lots of olders don’t really like that, but lately, I have noticed that Xander is taking on the responsibilities without being told to do so. He is a little more watchful over his younger siblings, especially his little sister. He is a little more into being the teacher of the younger ones, showing them how to do things…being the leader that I think he was meant to be. Xander has that big brother kind of personality that is a combination of helper, teacher, and playmate. I love the young man that he is so quickly becoming.
Xander has a sensitive side too, and a heart that has had to endure a some sad things. When his sister Laila passed away, it was Xander who felt that loss so deeply. His younger brothers felt the loss too, but Xander understood it so much more than they did, and it hit him very hard. Then when his younger sister, Aleesia came along, he developed a bond with her that helped to fill the hole that was left when Laila passed. Aleesia has really stolen her biggest brother’s heart. She moved in there, and he has found himself so content with the big brother relationship they have. When it comes to Aleesia, Xander is a big teddy bear for sure.
Xander is so grown up now in so many ways, but inside there is still a lot of little boy in him. He is so much like his dad…more so than any of the other kids. Xander probably looks more like his dad than any of the other kids, and while they all have great personalities, Xander is definitely his daddy’s boy. I see so much of Steve in Xander, and they have such a great relationship. Steve is very hands on with his kids, and they thrive on that. Of course, they also get the nurturing balance of Jenny’s mothering, but these boys are all boy, and very much into all of the manly, sporty, muscle man things that their dad likes. Still, having a little sister has inspired their sensitive side, and no one more than Xander who enjoys being the oldest brother of this group. Xander has lived through so many changes in his family in he first eleven years, and as the family grows up, he will live through so many more, but he isone of those great kids who will be able to take it all in stride. Today is Xander’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
In years gone by, most farmer’s children worked on the farms of their parents. Many still do, but the way they worked has change quite a bit. Back in the old west and beyond, the fields were plowed on foot using team of horses or oxen to assist in pulling the plow through the hard ground. It has hard work, and usually resulted in the blistering of hands that were not used to it. In those days, the women didn’t usually work the farms, unless there simply was no other choice, and women with calloused hands were looked down upon and thought to be…well, not really a true lady…at least, not by Eastern standards. They just didn’t understand what it took to build the West. Many times, people moved out West with the promise of a homestead, and 5 years to prove the land. Money was scarce, and you did what you had to do…including setting your children to the task of helping out on the farm.
It is my opinion that the way things were done in the old West better trained the children for adulthood. I have watched so many kids go through life without having to shoulder any responsibility, and then continue on in life in the same way. Some becoming “professional students” so that they won’t have to get a job, while their parents pay their way. It’s a sad, sad situation, and one the parents find themselves having trouble getting out of.
The kids in the old West understood that their help was needed or the family was not going to make it. School became a luxury and one that often ended after the eighth grade, if not before. Their time was needed elsewhere. Things have changed dramatically since then. Farm equipment has made the work on the farm much easier, and the children aren’t needed to the degree that they used to be. That is a good thing in that more kids finish school.They also have time to just be kids these days. I’m still not sure which is better…or maybe there is no better…just different.
Those firsts in the world of aunts and uncles are among the coolest of times in a person’s life…often the closest thing to having your own kids. Quite often the first time you become an aunt or uncle, you are still pretty young, unless you are the oldest child. For my two younger sisters-in-law and my brother-in-law, they were 14, 12, and 7 years old. Becoming aunts and uncle was a very exciting time for them. My sisters and I became aunts 4 years earlier when my sister Cheryl had her daughter, Chantel. For Bob’s family, with the exception of Debbie, Corrie was the child who made them aunts and uncle, and they were quite excited about it. I could relate, for sure!
Jennifer would become our first babysitter, and would also have the most difficult time of it when she found out that Amy could be very hard to feed, since Amy and bottles…well, let’s just say they would never be friends. Brenda got to babysit when they were about 3 and 4, so she didn’t have to deal with Amy’s bottle boycott, and probably had a lot more fun with it, because she could play with them more. Ron…on the other hand, never really babysat the girls much; he was simply their playmate, which might have been the best deal of all. One thing I know for sure, Ron was always happy when he got to hold the babies by himself. I guess it made him feel grown up. Growing up around your aunts and uncles to a large degree was such a blessing for the girls. There was always someone to do things with, and later on, the tables turned, and they became the babysitters, so it paid off to a degree that their aunts and uncle took care of them.
Becoming aunts and uncle, changed the lives of my sisters-in-law and brother-in-law forever, as it does for all of us. Helping out with the raising of those precious little ones that you have been blessed with, is an amazing opportunity, and a big responsibility. Those kids look up to you, and it is important to give them a good role model. I am glad that the aunts and uncles my girls had…on both sides of the family were great role models, and I love each and every one of them very much.
Some people seem to have a heart for people. They seem to know what is needed and they just do it. My nephew, Garrett is one of those people. After church services, when my mom, his grandma needs help getting up and out to the car, Garrett just shows up at her side. He never has to be asked, he has just taken that responsibility as his own. It does make it easier on everyone else, and we sure miss him whenever he isn’t there.
He is no stranger to responsibility. At a young age, he decided to help at the church by becoming an usher. Unusual for a high school student. And while he isn’t the only young person to do that, it made me proud of his dedication. It is a big responsibility to take on, because you need to be there, and pay attention to what is going on…to be where you are needed.
And whenever there is a big project going on, Garrett is there to help out. Maybe he likes making things, I don’t know, but he digs right in and helps out. Once a year, we do some big project for my mom for Mother’s Day, and he is always one of the people who always show up to help. I don’t know if he knows how much that means to us or not, but I’m telling him right here that it means a lot!! These projects are usually big, and the more people you have to help, the better. The adults can always be counted on, but the kids…well it’s a smaller group, and Garrett is always one of them.
Garrett loves kids. He always has. It is very rare that Garrett isn’t holding or playing with the little ones that are around at family gatherings. And they love him. That is another rarity, but it is pretty common, it you have a heart for people…especially little people, a Garrett does. So many teenage boys don’t really want the little kids hanging around, but he always makes them feel like they are wanted there, even requested. Do you know what that means to a little kid…EVERYTHING!! That is what Garrett gives the little ones.
Not everyone has a heart for people. It is a rare gift indeed. Those who do, stand out as kind, generous, loving, compassionate people. It is a quality we should all strive to have. That ability to set self aside, and look for the needs of others. If there were more people like that out there…what a wonderful world this really would be. That is how Garrett is, and I am very proud of those qualities he possesses that make him the wonderful man that he has become.