My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was a sweet, thoughtful girl who loved everyone she met. When Rachel left us to go to heaven on January 19th, 2021, we knew that nothing was ever going to be the same again. Rachel left a huge hole in our lives. Rachel wasn’t perfect…none of us are, but she never quit trying to make the lives of those around her happy. As I thought about her birthday this year, I decided to talk to her classmate, Jennifer Durante, who agreed to tell me about the Rachel she knew in school.
Jennifer first met Rachel in gym class, and they became good friends from that time forward. She was impressed the fact that Rachel was always “put together” at school. While most teenagers are lucky to get out of bed and get to school in sweatpants and a t-shirt, Rachel made sure that her hair and makeup were always perfect. She always dressed in skirts and heels, and always looked like a model. She was a classy lady, and anyone who knew her would agree to that statement. Rachel took pride in who she was, and that always showed. One day in gym class, a classmate made a rude remark about Rachel having stretchmarks on her legs, and Rachel, who didn’t like or allow bullying, immediately put that girl in her place. She told her that her stretchmarks came from her pregnancy, and that she was proud to be a mom. I can hear the silence now. That snotty little girl who thought she knew something, and knew nothing was immediately shot down. Rachel stood up or the little guy, and she was not about to be made a victim herself. That rude classmate knew nothing about Rachel’s life, and she had no right to bully her.
Rachel worked hard and got good grades in school. She was also very proud of being a mom, who wouldn’t let the circumstances of life hold her back from being the best she could be. She was determined to make a good life for her and her daughter, Cassie. In her Junior and Senior years of high school, she went to school during the day and worked at Wendy’s in the evenings and weekends to support herself and Cassie. Like most teenagers, Rachel didn’t always see eye to eye with her father, Cliff Franklin and her step-mom, Jan, but she never doubted their love for her, and she was always thankful for their support of her in being both a teenager and a mom.
Like most teenagers, Rachel liked to live life fast and play her music loud!! She loved to dance and because of her bubbly personality, she brought a ray of sunshine everywhere she went. Rachel was a great comedian and knew how to make people laugh, or even how defuse a bad situation. Those are such great qualities to have. Rachel was a mom first, and she didn’t really get to go out much, but on the rare occasion, when she was able to go out and be a wild teenager, Jennifer tells me that she was the life of any party. It was as if she walked into a room, threw her arms up in the air and proclaimed “I have arrived, let’s get this party started!!” Rachel lives in Heaven now, but I can just hear her as she walked into Heaven saying that very thing. Today would have been Rachel’s 46th birthday. Happy first birthday in Heaven Rachel, we sure love and miss you here.
My Aunt Dixie Richards, the 8th child of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer. Grandma and Grandpa kind of had three families…or so it seemed to all of us anyway. The first three were girls, Evelyn, Virginia, and Deloris. The second three were two boys, Larry and Wayne, with my mom, Collene in the middle. The last three were three girls, Bonnie, Dixie, and Sandy. By the time Aunt Dixie was five years old, she was an aunt. Her sister, Evelyn had married and given birth to a daughter named Sheila “Susie” (Hushman) Young. I’m sure it seemed strange to be a child of five, and have a sister who was married and a mother…but then, I was the second oldest child, so that situation couldn’t have happened with me. My youngest sister, Allyn (Spencer) Hadlock was an aunt when she was eight years old, so I’m sure she could relate to how Aunt Dixie felt at that time…both as a young aunt, or later as a teenaged aunt.
Being an aunt when you are just a kid yourself, means that you are a fun aunt. When the nieces and nephews are over, you get to take them outside or to your room to play. Of course, as the aunt gets older, those little ones might not be so much fun to have around. Teenagers aren’t always fond of little tag-a-longs. Of course, they forget that for their older siblings, these teenaged aunts were the tag-a-longs once. I’m sure that the older kids didn’t always want to have the responsibility of taking care of the little ones.
I think that Aunt Dixie must have liked taking care of the little ones though, because in later life she even ran a daycare, and took care of many of the children in the family…as well as her own grandchildren, Jacob Liegman, Charles Williams, Gideon Williams, Noah Williams, and Mayme Williams. Taking care of her own grandchildren was a highlight of her life. She still sees them every day, and they love spending time with her and their grandpa, Jim Richards. The blessings of having children are the continuing line…the grandchildren. Today is Aunt Dixie’s 77th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Today, September 9, 2018, my grandson, Josh Petersen, the last teenager in our family, turned 20. It is very strange to think about the fact that we have no teenagers. The teenage years have been a big part of our family for so many years…9 to be exact. I know that many families have teenagers for a lot longer, but then all four of my grandchildren arrived within 2½ years…from first to last. So, now we begin a new era. One where our grandchildren are adults, and have or soon will begin families of their own. It’s a strange thing when your family goes from one era to the next, but then, you get used to it, and you go on…like we will now. Life is a process that you just cant slow down, no matter how much you would like to.
In reality, Josh has seemed older than his years for a while now. He has been taking college classes since he was a kid in high school, and already has his associates degree in Fire Science. He has a year of full time college behind him now,and has started the Paramedic program this year. I am so proud of how far he has gone. He came from a beginning that was 5 weeks before he should have arrived, to spending 2½ weeks in Denver’s Presbyterian Saint Luke’s neo-natal intensive care unit; to growing like a weed; to helping with caregiving from his great grandparents for 13 years; and now, to studying for his own career in fire science and paramedics. I have always felt Josh would be perfect in this type of career, because he has a caregiver’s heart and is meticulous in the things that needed done. If you told him howto do something, he did it…just exactly as you said…no improvising. We always knew we could trust him, and trust is a big thing in the world of caregiving. People are entrusting you with their lives.
Josh is a kind and loving young man, with a strong sense of integrity. He is not one to lie to you. Oh, I’m not saying that he has never told a lie…we have all done that, but he doesn’t make a habit of it. When he tells me something, I believe him. Josh tries to do his best in everything he does, and I really respect that. As he transitions from a boy to a man, I feel a great sense of pride in the man he is becoming, and I know that he will go far in his chosen career, and in life. The things he is doing are so perfect for his personality, and that makes me very happy. And, it makes me happy that he is having so much fun doing it. As the old saying goes, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That is what Josh has done, and I am very proud of him, and very proud of the firefighter he will one day be. Today is Josh’s 20th birthday. Happy birthday Josh!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For the past year, I have worked with Amanda Ingram, who is the 15 year old daughter of my co-worker, Carrie Beauchamp. Amanda’s job is to file, make policy changes, take payments, and of course, answer the phone. It is a typical job for a customer service representative. No matter where Amanda is in the office, when the phone rings, she usually says, “I’ve got it.” Of course, that is her way of letting us know that we don’t have to stop what we are doing to answer the phone, but for me, her statement brings back years of teenaged memories…memories that the kids of today will most likely never have.
When I was a kid, we had just one phone in the house. It was the family phone, and my parents had five girls in the house. Over the years, mostly as each of us became teenagers, and had more friends, and especially boyfriends, we wanted to be the first one to the phone. It was especially important to get to the phone before our little sisters embarrassed us by talking to our friend or boyfriend and saying something that we might consider stupid or otherwise embarrassing…or simply embarrass us just by answering.
In our house, as in the homes of most of our friends, the younger kids just wanted to get to answer the phone once in a while too, but we assumed that it couldn’t be for them anyway, so they should just stay away from what we considered our own personal phone. I even recall being annoyed when the caller had the audacity to want to speak to one of my parents. What did they need to be talking about anyway. The older generation couldn’t possibly have anything important to talk about…could they? At least that was what we thought, with our typically self centered teenaged minds. It wasn’t that we were selfish, because I don’t think we were, but all teenagers are self centered to a degree. They think of themselves and their needs, as well as their insecurities, which were the main reasons that we didn’t want our younger siblings, or even our parents to answer the phone. You just never knew what they might say.
These days, with the invention of cell phones, we all have our own phone to answer, and most of the time, we don’t want to answer the phone for someone else, because that is…just annoying. Still, with the dawning of Facebook, and the fact that our friends can also reach us there, has come a new, and sometimes even better way for siblings to embarrass us in front of our friends…hacking our page. So, in that way, the kids of today can say, “I’ve got it.” And I guess they do.
As their youngest child becomes a teenager, parents suddenly have these bittersweet moments. They are proud of the young person their baby has grown into, but they know they will forever miss the baby they once were. That is the very feeling expressed by my niece, Machelle Moore, as she prepares to celebrate her youngest son, Easton Moore’s birthday today. Easton was a cute little boy, and his big brother, Weston Moore was so excited to have a brother. I remember Easton as a smiley little guy with things to do, places to go, and people to see…even if he never left to house. He was busy. No sitting still for him.
Easton, like most elementary school kids these days, got into Lego Robotics, and really enjoyed that, as did his family. His mom, Machelle Moore tells me that phase is winding down now, and it makes her feel sad, because her little boy is growing up. Yesterday, Easton told her, “Today is my birthday eve.” I’m sure her heart jumped a little bit, because her youngest boy was almost a teenager. The time had flown by so fast, and all she could think of is, “Where is the brake pedal?” I knew just how she feels. Our time with our little ones is just a drop in the bucket of life, and all too soon it is behind us. Nevertheless, Easton made her feel better when he said, “Don’t worry Mom, I am still gonna be your sweet boy when I am 13.” That little jump in her heart must have turned into a lump in her throat, because it was tough holding back the tears.
Of course, thirteen isn’t twenty five, and Easton still has a few “kid years” left to enjoy. These days he is heavily into Nerf guns, and even has a Nerf crossbow. His dad, Steve Moore loves guns, and while Easton’s guns are Nerf guns, it is still a passion they can share. They have even re-worked the Nerf guns, so they will get more distance. Guns are a passion that Easton is not likely to outgrow…although the gun type will progress into real guns at some point. Still, I can see them “shooting” each other with Nerf guns far into the future, because lets face it, men never really grow up. While Easton’s early years focused a lot on his mom as little ones often do, he latter years will likely follow along the lines of activities with his dad. Not that he won’t always cherish his mom, because he will, but boys just tend to do more things with their dads as they get older. However, Machelle likes doing the things Steve likes, so I’m sure she will be along for those activities too.
Easton is growing up, and that’s for sure, but as I’ve said, there are still a few years of boyhood left, and he still likes doing the goofy things that most boys do. Things that might gross girls out, are the coolest things to a boy. Most kids like bubble gum and blowing bubbles is the biggest part of the fun, but it takes the little kid in a person to want to film the process, and take special notice of the part where the bubble meets the face. Yes, the little boy is Easton is alive and well, and as long as he enjoys doing the goofy things, that little boy always will be. Today is Easton’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Easton!! Have a great day, and don’t grow up too fast!! We love you!!
As a teenager, riding the strip in the evenings of the early 1970s, a favorite place to stop was A & W. The food there was great, but the Root Beer Floats were fantastic. In fact, A & W was famous for their Root Beer Floats. My husband, Bob and I used to go there often, and it was a favorite of his little brother Ron’s too. It never occurred to me in those days, just where Root Beer came from, or who invented it. I didn’t really care. I just knew I liked it, and even though I no longer drink pop, I do like an occasional Root Beer Float.
But…where did Root Beer come from? Well, on this day, May 16, 1866, Charles Elmer Hires first came out with an early version of commercially prepared root beer. Hires was a Quaker pharmacist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania…his version of Root Beer became famous. I’m sure you’ve heard of Hires Root Beer. It was named after Charles Hires, but it was not the Root Beer that I grew up loving. Maybe that is because, as far as I know, A & W Root Beer was the first make a Root Beer Float. Of course, I could be wrong too.
In the days of Hires’ childhood, children were allowed to work, and at age twelve he had a job as a drugstore boy. Then at age sixteen he moved to Philadelphia and worked in a Pharmacy. He saved his money and when he had earned about $400, he started his own drugstore. Things were different then, and that was possible for a young man to do, o he did it. Nevertheless, he had that entrepreneurial spirit, and maybe that is why he was able to come up with something new.
There are those who say that he learned about root beer on his honeymoon in New Jersey, where the woman who ran the hotel served a herb tea known as “root tea” made from assorted roots. It is said that Hires thought that “root beer” would be more appealing to the working class. He originally packaged the mixture in boxes and sold it to housewives and proprietors of soda fountains. They needed to mix in water, sugar, and yeast. I suppose that after a while that got to be too much work, and eventually it came processed and in bottles. The funny this is that Root Beer was slow to catch on until Reverend Dr Russell Conwell told Hires to present the drink as “the temperance drink” and the greatest health-giving beverage in the world.” Hires was active in the temperance movement, and some say that he wanted root beer to be an alternative to alcohol. I can’t say that he was successful in that respect, because I don’t know anyone who would drink Root Beer instead of beer, unless they already didn’t drink.
Have you ever noticed that during the teen years, none of those kids want to smile…in fact, their pictures look like they are mad at the world. The only real exceptions to that rule is selfies and pictures with friends, that their parents don’t always have access to. Looking back on some of the pictures of me as a teenager, I think, “What was wrong with me? I really must have had a very bad attitude!!” I know several other people who would admit to having a bad attitude as a teenager, and I would have to say that I was one of them, although maybe I wasn’t as bad as some people. Nevertheless, I know that there were a lot of people who had a much better attitude than I did, and looking back now, I wish I had been more like those people. A bad attitude really is a big waste of time, energy, and most of all, happiness.
Really, I don’t think my attitude was so horrible. I knew kids in high school who you just steered clear of, because their attitude was the worst, and you certainly didn’t want to say or do something to make them mad at you. You never knew what might happen, and I was not interested in getting beaten up. Sometimes in junior high and high school, things can be like a gang war, when you have the kids with a bad attitude, and someone who isn’t like that, looks at the kids with a bad attitude just slightly wrong, it turns into a big fight.
Thankfully most kids keep their bad attitude more to themselves or to family issues at home, but sometimes it does spill over to the school environment. Today, we would call those kids bullies…and rightly so. When a person cannot control their temper and they lash out at others, they have to be stopped. But these are not the majority of people, they are the minority.
For most of us, the bad attitude that we have periodically or just during a phase of our lives, it kept more to a small arena of people, who suffer in silence…or maybe not so silently…until the person with the bad attitude gets tired of wearing a frown all the time, and starts to live again. Thankfully, the teen years are only ten years out of life, then they are over, and life is better again.
When my girls were little, curls were all the rage in hair styles. It’s funny how hair styles change, and we change with them. When you are a teenager, it is vital to wear your hair the right way. Later on in life, we wear what we like, because each of us knows the style we feel most comfortable with. And the trends don’t matter so much.
As a kid, I hated curlers. They were so uncomfortable to sleep in. The minute electric curling irons came out, I swore off curlers for good. I’ve never gone back. Funny thing is that for my girls, I somehow decided that curlers were ok. I guess it’s a right of passage, I had to go through them, so they would be fine in them too. I did try to use the softest versions I could find, because the goal, after all, was curls, not torture. At some point, I tried the curlers my mom had used on us as kids…socks. I guess every parent does what they can to make their child as comfortable as possible, while still achieving the desired effect…curls. The biggest problem now was getting the curls to last. Corrie’s hair did pretty good, but with Amy’s straighter hair, not so well.
Their curly haired years didn’t last very long, so I guess they didn’t like curlers either…even of the sock variety, which were much more comfortable than they other types. I still liked curls in their hair, so we tried perms and curling irons, but in the end, or should I say, as adults, they have both opted for the straighter styles, and it’s probably for the best. I think I like straighter hair better after all. My own hair has just enough natural curl to have tweaky looking spots, and frizz when it is humid, so I now use a straightener on it.
The days of sock curlers were funny and short lived. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the girls in those…or at least not one I can get a hold of right now. It’s probably best anyway. My girls have been really good sports when it comes to the pictures I post of them, but they really might draw the line at having sock curlers, tied in knots all over their head. Nevertheless, they did wear them, and that is a picture that will live in my memory for a long, long time. It was just so cute!!
I’m sure many people can recall a friend or two who had those silver teeth in grade school. Of course, they were really a spacer to keep the teeth from getting crooked when they were knocked out long before they should have been, and the permanent teeth were still years away. They were also used when the permanent teeth were somehow knocked out, and rather than have a big gap, the dentist replaced the missing tooth with the silver version. This was before they came up with implants for teeth, and of course, these days no one has silver teeth any more. Dentists have learned so much now, and they can even put the original teeth back in and they do just fine. Nevertheless, when my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens was a young boy, he was riding his bicycle, when the front wheel of his bike came off. Losing the front wheel of your bicycle does make it impossible to do much except have a wreck. When he fell, he knocked out his two front teeth. The dentist replaced them with those old silver teeth, and he was called “Chipper” for years. In the nearly thirty years since my sister, Alena and Mike have been married, I never knew that he ever had silver teeth. At some point, the dentist must have fixed them for him, so I never knew he was called “Chipper”…until a little birdie told me about it.
Mike has had a couple of little…situations where he ended up on the ground in an unexpected way. As a teenager, he was in his room sleeping, when the house next door to them was blown sky high in a gas explosion. A sleeping Mike found himself thrown literally against the wall. Now, if that isn’t a rude awakening, I don’t know what is. I mean, with the bicycle, at least he knew he was about to take a face plant into the pavement, but when you are sound asleep, and suddenly you are flying across the room…well, all you could possibly think is…”What in the world is going on??” I don’t believe Mike was hurt badly in that explosion, but I would have to imagine that he ached for a few days…along with that very thankful feeling you would have that you are still alive. I remember that explosion. It was only a few blocks from my parents house. There was literally nothing left of that house, but I’m very thankful that my brother-in-law, Mike and his family were not hurt.
When you think about all the times a person that you love could have been seriously hurt, or even killed, you find yourself very thankful that God’s angels were standing guard over their lives…whether they knew it or not. Mike has been a wonderful asset to our family, and I simply can’t imagine our family without him. He is always willing to help when he is needed, and he has some very innovative ideas. His sense of humor is one that has made all of us smile or better yet, have a great chuckle over for years. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Our family is very blessed to have you in it. Have a great day!! We love you!!
Turning 13 means so many things to a kid. Their first milestone was hitting those double digits, at least in their minds, but an even bigger milestone is the one that changes them from a kid to a teenager. They begin to see the years ahead as coming quickly as they race toward adulthood and independence. Before long they will be learning to drive, and then getting their license, dating, graduating from high school, and before you know it they are married and starting their own family. The good news is that all that is still a little ways down the road, and for now he still likes to hang out with his dad…especially on road trips in the semi truck.
Connor, who is my cousin, Larry Cameron’s son, had the chance to travel with his dad a short time ago. They had an amazing time traveling together to new places. Larry posted several pictures of their trip, and I found myself feeling so happy for Connor to have such a special time with his dad, and happy for Larry that he could enjoy being with his son, before Connor is all grown up. These are such fleeting moments, and so quickly gone. You want to treasure every ride, trip, and even ice cream cone that you get to share, because they are as amazing as your precious child.
Connor is the youngest of Larry’s three children, and little brother to Nehemiah and Moira. At times, I think he is the one that keeps everyone centered. He seems to have a stabilizing effect on them. When everyone is feeling upset or mixed up, here comes Connor to say just the right thing to soothe the situation. Being the peacemaker is never a bad thing, and is, in fact, a wonderful trait to have. I see that in Connor and I know that it is a trait that will take him far…and he will have many friends along the way, because people seem to gravitate to that type of person. Connor is such a fun loving kid. He likes to see the humor in every situation. He loves a good joke, and smiles often. I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to get to know him. Today, Connor is 13 years old. Happy birthday Connor!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!