Few things change a man as much as becoming a daddy. Yes, becoming a fiancé and husband are life changing events too, but when your beloved presents you with your first child…well you never forget how amazing that feels. For my oldest grandchild, Chris Petersen, this past year was that year…the most important year in his life. Chris went from being a a young man to being someone’s daddy, and it doesn’t get better than that amazing day, when that precious little girl finally arrived.

Chris and his fiancée are doing everything they know to do to protect and nurture their little girl. One of those decisions was to protect her from over exposure to the internet, and so my readers will have to use their imaginations concerning my little great granddaughter. I can say that she and her mommy have enriched Chris’ life beyond anything he could have imagined, and I can see the love he has for them in his eyes every time he looks at them. For his parents, and his grandparents, it is such a beautiful change to see. Chris has grown so much. The “wild child” of his youth is long gone, and he is a settled family man, who wants nothing more than to go home after work to be with his girls. They are his life and his joy. He loves them more that he does himself, and he feels so blessed that they are in his life, and every parent can fully understand that. There is nothing like being a parent. It’s a feeling that has no equal.

When a child is little, you simply do not know what they will become, but it is a good bet that at some point, most will become parents. Chris has reached that place, and these days the greatest part of his life is his fiancée, his baby girl, and the simple word…Dada!! Who could have thought that such a simple little word could create such joy in a person. Of course, every parent knows the joy of your baby’s first words, usually mama and dada. They are forever precious. Today is Chris’ 23rd birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day with your girls!! We love you!!

imageWhen illness strikes, and overcoming it seems impossible, many people just give up and give in. Their lives go from being mostly self sufficient, to disabled. They look at the problem, and see it as being far too big to conquer…so why even bother. Eventually they are on oxygen and in a wheelchair. It is a bleak future, and one no one really wants to live. Nevertheless, it is how most people handle a situation where their daily habits have lead them down a path of self destruction. I know that the situation I have described sounds like I am speaking ill of someone who is disabled, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

That is the situation my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg found herself in one year ago today. Years of stress, too many working hours, helping in the care of her aging parents, and finally the passing of her dad, my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg, had lead to unhealthy eating and weight gain, complicated by depression, sleep apnea, congestive heart failure and cellulitis. It was a recipe for a downward depression spiral, but for my sister-in-law it was the beginning of a journey that would find her one half of herself just one short year later.

When this journey began, Brenda was worried that she would never make it. Her goals felt like the impossible dream. She felt like she had so far to go, and she knew that she was exhausted before she even took that first step. But somewhere…deep inside, she discovered a strength she never knew that she had. A determination to beat this thing against all the odds. Brenda didn’t know how she was going to get this done, or how long it would take, but she knew that she did not want to spend the rest of her life on the sidelines.

Brenda’s journey began with a hospital stay at Wyoming Medical Center, and was followed by a stay at Elkhorn Rehab Hospital. She checked into the hospital on October 18, 2013, and checked out of Elkhorn Rehab Hospital on November 11, 2013. The girl who went into the hospital seemed defeated and scared, but the girl who came out of the hospital was determined and excited about the future. There were still things to worry about, because lets face it, Congestive Heart Failure sounds scary, but throughout this last year, she has had so much good news. She has found that her condition is completely reversible, if she loses weight and exercises. For her, the good news is that she was already planning to do just that, and she is very determined. She watches shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Extreme Weight Loss” and listened to “Half Size Me” to keep herself inspired, and she has had steady success. She still feels like she has a long way to go, but she knows that she will make it…because she has decided that failure is not an option. She is taking her life back, not giving up or giving in.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the beginning of Brenda’s journey, and what a year it has been! Brenda has seen her heath improve by leaps and bounds, and she has been told that her health issues can be imagecompletely reversed. She has stuck with her diet and exercise programs, adding classes and hiking to her list of likes, and now she is feeling so much better, that she is doing things with friends, like a painting class, the movies, and dinner out. I have never seen her so happy. And as to her goal for this first year. Yes, she has achieved that too. Brenda is truly half the girl she used to be…she weighs half of what she did when this journey started. I am so proud of her. Today we will take a Victory Hike on the Garden Creek Trail, to celebrate a year of multiple successes. It isn’t the end of a journey, but rather the start of the next leg of that journey. I firmly believe that Brenda’s life can take her wherever she wants to go. Your future is yours to decide. You can do whatever you want to do. Here’s to the future, Brenda, and here’s to you!!

Prince George 3It’s been a fast year in the royal family. Little Prince George has wowed everyone he met. He is a sweet little boy who’s parents’ hands on style has proven to be pretty perfect for bringing up a happy and well mannered little prince. Every time I see his little smile I have to smile too. He is just so cute. We all knew that his handsome parents would produce a handsome little boy, and we were not disappointed. Prince George did not come home to the palace after his birth, but rather went to visit he mother’s family for a time…a very unusual event, and one that the royals really didn’t like. I suppose that like all grandparents, they worried, but this family worried about Prince George’s safety. He was, after all, a very famous boy…even before he was born, and that makes for possible threats to his safety. Nevertheless, while security was high outside, the family had their privacy inside.

Prince George is already a world traveler, having traveled to New Zealand and Australia with Prince George 2his parents at just 9 months of age…one of the youngest princes to travel abroad. Something that not everyone can say they did in their first year, but then Prince George is a special boy. He is the future king of England, behind his grandfather and his dad. He has many things to learn, and there is no time like the present to begin. He will be expected to act in a certain way, and smile even when he doesn’t feel like it. He will be expected to be at least tolerant of
the press, and if he is like his parents, he will do so with winning style. He will host many events himself, such as the opportunity he had recently, to have a play dates with some children at the residence of the Queen…who was away at the time. Not everyone could get away with that, but then Prince George holds a special place in the heart of the Queen. I don’t say he could get away with just anything with her, but maybe more than most kids could.

While he is still a baby, Prince George will soon have royal obligations like all the other royal SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 20:  Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge holds Prince George of Cambridge as Prince William, Duke of Cambridge looks on whilst meeting a Bilby called George at Taronga Zoo on April 20, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on a three-week tour of Australia and New Zealand, the first official trip overseas with their son, Prince George of Cambridge.  (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)family members. When you are a royal, people expect you to make appearances at different has a lot learn, but he has a while for that yet. Right now, all Prince George needs to do is show us the cute little faces he makes, and we’ll be satisfied. It’s always a bit sad to realize that before we know it Prince George…like all babies with grow up and those baby days will be long gone, but for now, we can enjoy his smiley face for a little while longer. In the years to come, Prince George will be an integral part of the royal family and their face to the world, but for now, he is very much a little boy, and I hope he gets some time to be just a little boy. Happy 1st birthday Prince George…my 18th cousin twice removed!!

Dad SchulenbergTime flies by so fast sometimes, and suddenly we find ourselves a year out from an event that shook our world…the death of a loved one. It was one year ago today that my father-in-law, Walter Schulenberg passed away. He was a quiet, gentle man who loved his family more than anything else in the world. He hated the years when his job took him away from the family, because watching his children grow up was so important to him. From the time they were dating, he talked about when they would start having children. He knew that he wanted a little girl, just like his soon to be sister-in-law, Margee, who was just six months old when they got married. Of course, he wanted sons too, but he was smitten with those girls, and while his boys were his helpers, and he was very proud of both of them; his little girls were always his little princesses. That seems to be the way life is for daddies of daughters, and he was no exception to that rule.

I never met someone who was more excited to be a grandfather. When I was pregnant with Corrie, his first grandchild, he seemed to have been transferred back all those years to when his children were little. He often asked me how I was doing. He wanted to be sure I was comfortable…because I was carrying his first little grandbaby. He made it such an honor, both times I was pregnant. His children and grandchildren were so important in his life. In fact they Mom & Dad Schulenberg_editedwere the most important things in his life…with one exception…the love of his life, my mother-in-law, Joann Knox Schulenberg.

From the time they started dating, he knew that there was no other girl for him. I have had the opportunity to read some of the letters they wrote back and forth while they were dating, and he was working in another town. He wanted nothing more than to marry her and take care of her for the rest of his life…and that was exactly what he did. All those years that they were together, he made sure she had what she needed. When she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, he gave up much of what he would like to have done, so he could take care of her. She was his world, and to him, giving up a few little things to make sure she was going to be alright, was only natural. As the years flew by, he devoted more and more time to taking care of her, and did more than he should have in those later years…I couldn’t get him to stop overdoing it. To him, it was so important that she was always going to be ok.

The hardest thing I think he ever had to do was when we had to put her in the nursing home. It had become obvious that we couldn’t keep her safe at home, and there was no other option. He really took that hard. He was so lonely. We did our best to take him to see her, but that was hard on him too. Then he went through a series of hospital stays in a short period of time, and they left him very weak. The hospital suggested that he go into a nursing home, and he was very much against it…at first. Then I talked to the nursing home my mother-in-law was in, and they said they could take him too and they could share a room. It was a perfect plan. He could see her, stay with her, and make sure she was alright, all while he was taken care of too. It seemed the perfect plan, and in a way, I guess it was…except for the fact that he just 84couldn’t bounce back from those bouts in the hospital, and would return 3 more times before it was over. The thing that was good for him was the fact that, not only could he be near the love of his life, but before he left us, he was able to see that she would be alright. He could see that the staff took good care of her. That last year was a really hard one for my father-in-law. He was getting tired of fighting COPD. It was a fight for every breath, and he knew he was losing that fight. Still, he could not go, without knowing that those he loved…especially the love of his life, were going to be ok. Dad left us a year ago today, and while we know that he isn’t suffering anymore, we still miss him very much. We love you Dad.

Grandma Hein and Bobscan0033_editedMost people think of Ground Hog’s Day on February 2nd, but in our family, it is more than that. Today is Bob’s grandmother’s birthday. She would have been 104 years old, if she were still alive. She always liked the idea of being born on Ground Hog’s Day, and I think most people born on a holiday do feel like that is a special thing. For Grandma, finding out if Spring was coming early this year, and turning another year older were part of the same thought…almost like getting one more present. Everyone feels like their own birthday is the most special day of the year. I know I have always loved my day. I like the name of the month, the day of the month, and even the year I was born, but to the world, there is nothing special about my birthday, because I was not born on a holiday. To the world it is just another day, but when you are born on a holiday, it’s almost like everyone acknowledges it…or at the very least remembers it, like all of us have done with Grandma’s birthday.

This year, Grandma would have received the happy news that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, so Spring will come early. That would have been happy news to Grandma, who as I recall, didn’t care for Winter any more than I do. Grandma was always such a happy person, and I can just see a little spring in her step, and maybe a little brighter smile, at the though of the coming Spring. She always had a garden, and loved to be out there in the sunshine picking vegetables for canning. Of course, that was in the Summer, but Spring is for planting, and anticipating the coming harvest, which is what Grandma was most likely thinking about.

I wish we would have been able to see Grandma more through the Five generationsscan0017years, but she lived in Montana, and we live in Wyoming. Not too far for our yearly visit, but too far for visits that came much more often, and a visit on her birthday was difficult to plan because of the weather concerns. Still, she knew we loved her and wanted to come, because we did so almost every year from the time Bob and I married to her passing. I miss those visits to Grandma’s house, and the peaceful days that those visits meant. It was a special time in our lives, and a time I will never forget. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma!! We love and miss you very much.

Having grown up in town, I didn’t spend much time around horses. I had a friend that lived out in the country, and rode a little when I went to her house, but I didn’t meet her until junior high, so I didn’t ride often, even though I found myself enjoying it when I did. My girls got to ride when we went to visit Bob’s grandmother in Montana, but that was just once a year, so they were no more experienced than I was. We were what would have to be like tourist horseback riders. I have been looking at some really old family pictures, and I have come to the determination that our kind of riding would have been unacceptable in the days of the Old West.

When Bob was growing up, they spent more time around horses than we did, and so had the opportunity to ride more than I did. Still, of he rode when he was very little, he always had someone older on the horse with him. Most of the time you would see Bob with his sisters, Marlyce and Debbie. It was a way to make sure he didn’t fall off, because he would have probably tried to make the horse gallop or buck, if I know him.

Apparently however, just a few short generations back, children were expected to be born with horse riding expertise, because I found this picture of Lester, my first cousin once removed on my Grandpa Byer’s side, and he was pretty little when he first was placed on a horse. Lester was born in 1920, and while I’m sure that he didn’t do much riding in this picture, it did strike me as amusing that here he was being a grown up big boy and sitting on his horse all by himself. I’ll bet that by the time he was 5 years old or so, he was a pretty accomplished horseman too, since he had such an early start. Even if he wasn’t an expert, my guess is that he certainly was not a tourist horseman…like me.

I think all kids love to color Easter eggs. Maybe it is the chance to get creative in a way that most parents won’t normally allow. I mean…how many parents want to turn their kids loose with colored water very often. That could be an accident waiting to happen. Nevertheless, every year, we get everything ready, and set our kids up to potentially make a huge mess, and hope that it doesn’t happen.

I always liked to color Easter eggs as a kid. Back then, of course, they didn’t have all the cool stuff they have now. We had mostly just the colored water and a clear crayon…and later the little stickers or egg tattoos. Then they started coming up with really cool things like speckled eggs, glitter eggs, neon eggs, and tie dyed eggs. There was something new every year, and of course, every parent made sure their kids had all the new stuff.

Since, my girls are grown now, I have been out of the egg coloring era for quite some time, so who knows what they have now. And it doesn’t really matter anyway, because the whole idea is to watch the excited faces as the little ones get to start coloring their eggs, and then sharing in their creations. And when kids are little, they don’t really care whether or not they have all the very latest stuff anyway.

Of course, all this led up to the next morning when they got to find their Easter baskets, put on their new Easter outfits, and go to church to remember the real reason we celebrate Easter, being thankful for the sacrifice made by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, because, lets face it, we are lost without him. His death put a sinful world back in right standing with God!! We are so very blessed, and there is reason to celebrate…He is risen!!! Happy Easter to all!!

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