siblings

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My grand-niece, Reagan Parmely is in the third grade, but she has a very different kind of school day from the kind when I was a kid in the third grade. Reagan and her sister, Hattie are homeschooled, so their day is structured quite differently from a public school. They spend pretty much the same amount of time in class and studies as the public school, but the recess and lunch breaks are very different. I don’t know of any public school where the students can go out for recess and jump on the trampoline, ride a horse, or play with the kittens and baby goats. Nevertheless, that is the kind of things that Reagan and Hattie can do. They also might spend part of their classroom breaks doing a few chores, like feeding the animals or mucking out the stalls and beds of the animals.

When Reagan’s mom, Ashley Parmely decided to homeschool her children, I thought it might be fun to have a play on words with the kids. I asked them, “How do you like your teacher this year?” After giving my an odd look, Reagan and Hattie (who is in 1st grade) have both said, “My mom is my teacher.” That opened up a conversation. I told them I knew that, so how did they like her. Well, they were still confused, because, of course, they “love” her. They said that she was good, and I said that I figured they liked her. They began to catch on, and then laughed a bit. As I said, their schooling is different from pubic school, and it is, in more ways than one. What public school allows the children to hug their teacher, much less tell their teacher they “love” her these days. It is just not done anymore, because everyone is afraid of a lawsuit. I find that really sad.

Life on a farm, being homeschooled has been really good for Reagan and her siblings, Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. They love the freedom they have to relax in the schooling situation, and even to sleep in, because if they had to catch a bus for school, they would have to get up much earlier. The kids are also getting an education that is much more expanded than other children. Growing up around animals, watching them give birth, learning to milk a cow or a goat, and even learning about death, because that happens on the farm too. Some animals are raised for food, and that is just a part of life. Reagan is growing up so fast. In so many ways, she is wise beyond her years. She is a good big sister, a good farm girl, and we are all very proud of her. Today is Reagan’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My great grand-niece, Alice Green is such a sweet girl. I love her personality, because she is so loving and caring. For the early part of her life, Alice was an only child. Then her mom, Melanie Harman met her step-dad, Jake Harman and her life changed forever. Before long Alice had a little sister named Izabella, and soon after, a little brother named Jaxx. Siblings was one thing Alice had wanted for a long time. The good news was she only had to wait until she was a little past three to get her first sibling. The lonely days without a sibling were almost over. As soon as Belle could play, Alice was set. She is such a fun-loving girl, and the giggling in the Harman household runs wild…especially with the added kid stuff from Jake, who is a kid at heart.

These days, Alice is growing up quite quickly. At nine years old, Alice is already acting like a teenager. Some kids mature quickly in that way. She is definitely growing up! Alice has her own views and opinions about things these days. In the past, she cared more about her toys and getting dirty as much as she possibly could. Maybe a little bit of a tomboy in her there. These days, her sister and brother are very much her top priority. She loves them very much and enjoys being with them and entertaining them. I suppose there could come a day when Alice will wish her siblings would leave her alone, but that is pretty normal. I think that as the years go by these three will grow closer and closer. They fight, even now, but that is totally common among siblings too. Nevertheless, Alice feels totally blessed to have her sister and brother in her life.

Alice and her step-dad, Jake also have a special relationship. Jake was never one to exclude Alice in any way. When he married Melanie, he accepted Alice as his own daughter. They love to tease each other, and as is common in the Harman household, “random rudeness” is just part of the daily activities. Alice has embraced “random rudeness” and can dish it out as effectively as the next guy. She also loves to just randomly tackle Jake and this give him hugs. He has proven to be a real dad to her, and she loves him very much, and he considers Alice his own child. You don’t have to be related by blood, to be related by love. Today is Alice’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Alice!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

By guest writer: Susan Griffith

I thought it would be nice to write a blog post about my Aunt Caryn for her birthday. In case you’re new here, my Aunt Caryn writes a blog post every single day about someone in her family, or about something that sparks her interest. I wonder if she has ever missed a day since she started. If she has, I’m sure there was an extremely good reason why. There must be thousands and thousands of posts. It’s truly amazing and really shows her passion for writing, her passion for her faith, her family, and her interest in current events. The determination that she has when she sets her mind to something is obvious.

If you’re reading this, and interested in history at all and what Aunt Caryn is up to, I urge you to look on Ansestry.com at the amount of work she has put into her family trees. It’s unbelievable and amazing to me. I can’t even begin to imagine how big Aunt Caryn’s family must be on both sides of her family. Both her and my Uncle Bob come from a family with many siblings, so I can see how her family could be so big after everyone getting married and having families of their own. It’s so special to look on your Facebook page on your birthday and see that someone has taken the time to write a little story about you. Most of the time, it’s surprising to read what she comes up with and you sometimes wonder how she knows what she knows. I know she has her ways of finding things out. I’m so thankful to have someone in my family who cares so much about family that she will take the time to make someone feel good every day.

My Aunt Caryn is married to my Uncle Bob, who’s my mom, Debbie Cook’s brother. Every time I think back to the family gatherings with my mom’s side of the family Aunt Caryn has always been there. She shows up to every important event if she is able to. She was there for all the important milestones of my life…graduation, wedding, baby showers. It’s clear that she loves her family very much, and from what I’ve seen she will do whatever it takes to be involved with her family. If someone is in need and Aunt Caryn can see that she can help with the situation, I guarantee that she will show up and she will do whatever she can to help in the situation. At my wedding reception, I forgot to ask someone to serve cake. Aunt Caryn just stepped in and started doing it without even being asked. I still remember that even after almost 15 years of marriage. I was so thankful to have her that day. It seems like this day in age, people like that are harder and harder to come by. The kind of people who are willing to drop everything that’s going on in their life to help someone else out. You could say Aunt Caryn is altruistic in the best way. I feel truly fortunate to have Aunt Caryn in my life.
A perfect example of Aunt Caryn’s selflessness happened just earlier this year. In January when my Aunt Rachel passed away, Aunt Caryn’s sister-in-law, we really saw how Aunt Caryn could truly step up to the plate. She helped my Uncle Ron considerably to get through one of the hardest times in his life. All of us are so thankful for what she did to help during that time. We know it was hard for her because she was just as upset as everyone else. In our family it seems that if we lose someone, we really come together to comfort each other and help each other out. I am so thankful for that.

One of my earliest memories of my Aunt Caryn was when they lived in the country in a trailer house. It seems like it was just me and Aunt Caryn at the house, everyone else was gone. I had to have been around 4 or 5 years old. Aunt Caryn was doing something in the living room, or the kitchen and she said I could go to my Cousin Amy’s bedroom to play. Amy is a few years older than me, so she had things that big girls had, and stuff that I thought was really cool. It seems like there was a little desk in Amy’s bedroom, and on the desk was a little heart shaped container that may have had jewelry in it. Next to that was some fingernail polish. I can’t even imagine what the heck I was thinking, but I sat there and painted the top of the little heart shaped container with the nail polish. It seems like shortly after I started doing that, Aunt Caryn came in and saw what I was doing. Oh man, was I in trouble. I’m sure I started crying as soon as she saw me. I can remember turning and looking at her and the look on her face wasn’t good. It was a look of shock. I think she just told me to go sit in the living room, and maybe told me I couldn’t be in Amy’s room by myself anymore. I think she was pretty lenient on me. Hopefully, that’s all I did with that fingernail polish. Sorry Amy!

Today is Aunt Caryn’s 65th birthday, which to many of us is a special day because we get to have the chance to spoil her like she spoils everyone around her on their special day. Aunt Caryn, I hope you have a most beautiful birthday. I hope that you get spoiled by all your family and friends, and that you can feel the love by all of us who love you so much. I hope you are able to enjoy your day and do something that makes you feel good. On behalf of all of your family, friends, and followers…We love you Caryn Schulenberg! Happy Birthday!

My aunt, Sandy Pattan is the youngest child of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer. Being the youngest, gave her a unique perspective concerning her family. The rest of the siblings grew up around each other, so their lives didn’t really seem like anything special. They were kids, doing kid things, but Aunt Sandy was born just two years before her eldest sibling, Evelyn Hushman was married. Her first niece, Susie Young was born just after Aunt Sandy turned three, making her an aunt for the first of many times. As she grew up, her siblings were getting married, working at jobs, and going to school.

Aunt Sandy had a tendency to catch just about every bug that went through, so she also spent more time with her mom during those days when she was sick. That gave her access to the many family stories that her mom told, when they were still fresh on Grandma’s mind. The stores Grandma told were also from a unique perspective these days…one of being there during times we would classify as history. Days of Cowboys and Indians were basically just another day for Grandma, and she made the stories come alive to her youngest child. Of course, being sick was not a blessing, but those stories were…both to Aunt Sandy, and now to any of her family who want to hear them.

I love talking to Aunt Sandy on the phone, because She always has so many interesting things to say. She remembers all those stories, and is happy to share them, and I love hearing them. Her parents were born in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The American Indian Wars raged in this country from 1609 to 1924…probably one of the longest wars ever. Many of us think of growing up in times of wars in other nations, in which our young men might have to fight, as being scary. We think of times like the current unrest as scary. So, imagine having 315 years of wars on our own soil. Of course, none of us would live through all of that period, but many people lived with it for their entire lifetimes. It was always there. It was part of everyday normal life. That was the world my grandparents grew up in. Those of us born after 1924 would really not know what that was like…living with the fear of war that could erupt right in front of us at any moment. Aunt Sandy, like me, loves history very much. It’s like a time machine, giving us a really interesting glimpse into the past. That is probably why we can talk about it for hours.

I’m sure that as a little girl, she loved hearing about things her older siblings were doing. I’m sure it all seemed very glamorous to her. She did get to do some cool things as the youngest, like take a train to Superior, Wisconsin with her mom to visit my mom and her sister, Collene Spencer. Since Bob and I traveled by train a while back, I can relate to that trip. Things were quite likely much different on her trip, because the more modern trains, while not like flying, are more comfortable than their predecessors. To ride miles and miles sitting up straight would be awful. Aunt Sandy has lived an interesting life, and I enjoy talking to her about it. Today is Aunt Sandy’s 75th birthday. I feel very blessed to have her still with us. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In a day and age when more and more young people are so intent on “fitting in” that they lose sight of who they really are, my grand niece, Raelynn Masterson is, refreshingly, not a follower. Raelynn remains true to herself, and she is just fine with who she is. Her mom tells me that she is a lot like both her parents, and while that may be true, I don’t think it is genetics, as much as it is good upbringing. Raelynn figures that if you like her…great, but if not…it’s your problem, not hers. I think that is the best way to be.

Raelynn is a has such a sweet attitude. She is a good big sister, and is always kind to her siblings. She is helpful when they need it, and that is especially nice when their parents are at work, and her siblings need some advise and encouragement. Their parents know that they are in good hands when Raelynn is there with them. There is, of course, a difference between a sweet attitude, and a pushover, and Raelynn is no push over. Once her mind is made up, it is and she won’t be moved. If you try to cross her, and you make the mistake of making this girl mad…well, as her mom says, “I’ll pray for you.” Personally, I have not seen that side of Raelynn, but then we are not really on opposite sides of things, and maybe I think I’m glad we aren’t too.

As with most people, the things going on in our world have caused Raelynn to look more closely into politics. Her parents have encouraged their children to look into a matter, and make an informed decision about where you stand. That’s a good way to be. We have too many blind followers, as it is. Raelynn, and her siblings, Matt and Anna, as well as Christina (who is grown and living on her own), are not required to agree with their parents views on things. Their parents, Rob and Dustie, think it is important for them to make up their own minds, even when they don’t match their parents views. Raelynn’s opinions on politics don’t always match those of her parents, but she is required to look deeper into things before forming her opinions…using legitimate sites (or, as close as you can get these days). There have been a few heated debates between Raelynn and her brother, Matt, which have required a parental mediator at times. My guess is that there have been some between her and her parents too, but that really is the only way to learn about politics and I’m sure that as time goes by, her opinions will grow and change, whether they ever match those of her parents or not.

The family recently got a dog, and as often happens with pets, Azura has decided that Raelynn is “her human.” They are so close, and almost inseparable when Raelynn is home. It was completely unexpected, but if Rob or Dustie are looking for one, all they need to do is find the other. Raelynn and Azura are practically joined at the hip. The hardest part about this “exceptionally close” relationship, is that whenever Raelynn is gone, Azura is totally miserable until she gets home!! That could be really bad when school starts again. Azura just loves Raelynn so much. I can see why, because we all do too. Today is Raelynn’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For a deep thinker, like my grand niece, Anna Masterson, being an introvert is usually par for the course. Introversion can be overcome, but it is not easy, and really takes a concentrated effort. Anna has been working on being more outgoing over the past year. That has not been very easy with Covid-19. She has been faithfully going with her mom, Dustie Masterson, every week to the laundromat. That can be a major accomplishment for an introvert. I know I am much the same. Dustie really appreciates Anna’s help because they get through the work quickly. For Anna the surprise was that she has made a friend there, which was a surprise for Dustie to see, because Anna does not talk to people she doesn’t know. Even more surprising was that it was a boy, an act of bravery on her part. Not surprising that the boy wanted to talk to her, because Anna is a cute girl. Still, she stayed very close to her mom while she talked to him for a while. Nevertheless, pretty soon she was talking to him across the laundromat! Amazingly, it was her mom who had a hard time letting Anna go across the room. It was just such an unusual feeling to have her normally clingy daughter moving so bravely out into the world. Dustie wants Anna to come out of her shell, but watching the process was not easy for a mom who has felt the need to help her shy daughter in the past.

The end of the school year was rough for Anna. Covid-19 really put a damper on those, like Anna, who really love school. She got up on her own every day on time and went to her online classes. She didn’t have to be told, she chose. Still, it’s not the same as going to school, and even for an introvert like Anna, being around people she knew was important, and she missed going. It was very responsible of her to get up on her own, because her parents, Rob and Dustie both work, they are glad she was so good about getting up with an alarm. Anna and her best friend, Julie, both play the violin in orchestra, and that has had to go by the wayside too. I know they both miss it very much. For them, and all the kids I pray Covid-19 ends soon.

Like many people, Anna and her sister, Raelynn are both into Comic-Con, and this year, both girls plan to go, as it will be held outside to allow for good social distancing. The girls are so excited about going. In the meantime, Anna and her siblings, Raelynn and Matt, have been spending a lot of time together, which could have been a problem, but they get along pretty well, so they have tried to keep things light and fun.

Anna surprised her mom in another way this year. Before this year, Anna was not really interested in cooking, but she has decided that she likes to cook and be creative in the kitchen. This has been a wonderful mother/daughter time for both of them, and Dustie has really enjoyed teaching her daughter all about cooking. It has brought them even closer. Today is Anna’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Anna!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Xander Spethman like most kids this year, had a challenging school year. He had never planned to be homeschooled. He was used to having his friends around him and all the activities at school. He was used to some level of independence that going to high school offered. Then, suddenly he was at home with his siblings. His parents were often at work, so that also left Xander in charge sometimes. In many kids Xander’s age, that many hours with the younger siblings might have made life miserable for all concerned, but Xander is a kind-hearted young man. He loves his siblings, and they look up to him. Xander tried to be a lead-by-example kind of person. That makes for a much more harmonious household, whether the parents are there or not.

Xander and his brother, Zack have become best friends. They share a love of long boarding, and now they go as often as they can. He is also sweet to his other siblings, Isaac, and little Aleesia, who thinks her brothers “hung the moon,” a fact that is obvious by the way she looks at them. Xander is a very loyal person. He is also protective of his family. He is an amazing big brother, who always takes time to help with whatever his little brothers and sister need. Xander has demonstrated many leader qualities, that have been beneficial to his siblings and his friends alike. Xander’s mom, Jenny attributes those attributes to being the oldest child, but I disagree. Being the oldest doesn’t guarantee leadership. Those leadership qualities come from several sources, not the least of which is good parental upbringing. It also comes from something inside a person that says, “This is the right thing to do, and that is not.” It is about being settled in the right things to do, and it’s having a determination to do what is right, even if it is the harder road. Xander has that determination, and his family has become the beneficiary of those good leadership qualities. They are very proud of him.

Xander is a very good example not only to his family, but also to his friends. The leadership qualities Xander displays to his friends, cause many of them to seek him out when they need advise. Unlike many situations where kids are advising kids, which can be catastrophic in their misguided advise, Xander is a very good counselor to his friends. He has a strong sense of right and wrong, and doesn’t like it when he sees anyone being mistreated…a very important quality in a time when “bullying” has become the norm in schools. He always helps anyone who asks and tries to look out for everyone. That is the kind of friend, and brother, everyone is proud to know. Today is Xander’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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!!

My grand niece, Maeve Parmely is the youngest of the 4 children of my nephew, Eric Parmely and His wife, Ashley. She has two older sisters, Reagan and Hattie, and an older brother, Bowen. These kids are being raised on a farm, with lots of animals to take care of and play with. In fact, Maeve was hanging around all those farm animals the day before she was born. Maeve isn’t even the youngest of those who live on the farm, because it seems like new babies come around all the time. Like her siblings, I assume she has seen new life come into the world, and if she hasn’t yet, it won’t be long before she does. Before long too, she will be riding a bicycle around the property with her siblings, but I guess that one year old is still a little bit young for that…for now.

One thing Maeve isn’t to young (or too old) for is cuteness. This little girl is cuteness overload. She knows just what to do to make everyone around her smile. Maeve loves hugs and seeing her family smile. I have no doubt that she will be involved in all the antics of her older siblings in no time. The youngest usually gets involved in the best stuff, because her older siblings already know the ropes. These kids have great imaginations, and you just never know what they might come up with. Still, Maeve’s sweet little face will most likely keep her out of a great deal of trouble with her mom and dad. Seriously, who could resist that cute little face.

Maeve is to be the last of Eric and Ashley’s kids, although I think Ashley would willingly have an even dozen. She loves her babies, and now will have to settle for fur babies, I guess. Maeve has had a lot of life experiences in this first year of her life. She’s helped with the animals, of course, ridden on her mommy’s back while her mom stacked hay. She’s been skiing on the mountain. hiking on the trails, and helping her mom around the house. She’s her daddy’s little girl, and she keeps him wrapped around her finger, and she keeps her siblings busy getting her whatever she wants. How could life possibly get any better. Today is Maeve’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Maeve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Zack Spethman, like all kids these days has been staying home, sheltering in place, and attending homeschool. Zack is a very social person, often making the rounds of people in the room and hugging many of them. It is just Zack’s way. He is a very loving and kind person. Now…in these trying times of social distancing, he isn’t supposed to hug people anymore…seriously!! That is something that makes me sad, because hugging is one of the things that defines who Zack is. I know that somewhere, down the road, things will get back to normal in the world, but even then, we are being discouraged from touching each other. That is especially sad, because when babies are little, we know that the lack of touch can actually cause them to stop growing. People need contact, and I don’t want to see that end. For those of us who are huggers, this is a really hard thing to do.

Zack is a very upbeat kind of guy. He has such a calm way of walking through this world…a kind of peace about things. Nothing ever seems to get him riled up. I suppose his parents might tell me different, because they are around him much more than I am, but the Zack I see is very much at peace with life…and what a great way to be. For me, and most others who know Zack, it is a phenomenal way to be, because he gives us a feeling that everything is going to be ok too.

Zack is the second child of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve. He and his 3 rowdy siblings, keep their parents hopping with all their activities. His peaceful personality, does have it’s “warrior” side too, for lack of a better word. The warrior in him mostly comes out on the football field, the basketball court, and any other sport he likes and is playing. I also suspect that his “warrior” side would come out if someone was hurting his family, or even his friends. He is the kind of guy who doesn’t tolerate bullying of anyone.

Zack’s family has been having some very special times, just being together, even if that means they can’t spend time with extended family members, and that is hard on everyone. Social distancing doesn’t mean they can’t go to the mountains, the lake, or parks…at least not here in Wyoming, so they have been getting out in the fresh air too, and that has kept the cabin fever at bay. For Zack and his siblings, like so many other kids, this school year has been one for the record books, but they will survive and even thrive, as this pandemic passes, and life reopens. Today is Zack’s 15th birthday. Up next…learning to drive. How can that be? Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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