sweet

I only knew my sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg, for 15 years before she passed away from cancer in 1989, and yet, I felt like I knew her a lifetime. Some people just have the ability to have that kind of an impact on others. Marlyce just radiated love for her family. Marlyce was developmentally disabled, but higher functioning. She could do many of the things the rest of us could do, but her mind was on the younger side. That made her eager to please people, and interested in fun projects. She loved to be creative and especially loved it when things she made pleased those around her. She loved baking, and chocolate chip cookies were her favorites, and mine too.

I can’t believe that Marlyce has been gone for 31 years now, more that double the amount of time that I knew her. With some people, the length of time you know them, doesn’t matter, because the impact that short time had on your life far outweighed the length of time you spent with them. That really is the way it was with Marlyce. Her sweet nature endeared her to the people who knew her, and still does to this day. Some people are never forgotten, and I think Marlyce was one of those people. Her influence reached far beyond her years of life, and for those who knew her, continues to this day.

Marlyce wasn’t perfect, of course, and she could get angry when things didn’t go her way. Like any child, she had a temper, when she was crossed, and her siblings sometimes enjoyed seeing that temper present itself, so teasing was not unheard of in the Schulenberg household. That was on thing I didn’t participate in, however. Maybe that’s why she always tried to please me, by making the signature chocolate chip cookies. I can’t say for sure. What I do know, is that Marlyce was always very sweet to me, and I can’t recall a singly time we had a fight, or even a simple disagreement. I’m glad, because I would never want to be the source of any pain or discomfort in her…not that her siblings were mean to her, but we all know that siblings are used to each other, and fights are par for the course. Today would have been Marlyce’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven sweet Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.

My grandnephew, Ethan Hadlock is such a loving boy. The older he gets, the more his sweet personality is showing. Not every boy willingly hug his aunts, and especially great aunts, who can seem…ancient to them, but Ethan doesn’t care what people think. That is a rare quality, and one that Ethan shares with a couple of his cousins, Caalab Royce and Zack Spethman. All of these boys are confident enough in who they are, that they feel no pressure to put on a “cool act” for their friends. A “cool act” involves doing whatever your friends think is cool…even if it isn’t how you feel about things. Ethan doesn’t care about that. He is his own man, and that makes me very proud of him. Ethan is a great big brother to his sister, Aurora, and really loves being and older cousin to Adelaide Sawdon and Makenzie Moore. Ethan’s quick wit, keeps the girls laughing, and the adults too. He gets much of his wit from his dad, Ryan Hadlock, but don’t be fooled, because, his mom, Chelsea Hadlock can be pretty funny too.

Ethan is in 4th grade this year, and he is very smart. He really enjoys Math, which many children find to be a difficult subject to master. This year, Ethan is able to participate in a Lego Robotics Club after school. He loves building the different robots, and making them work. There are a number of events that he can participate in too, and he really enjoys them. This year for Christmas, he received several set of Lego robotics, and he had the put together in short order, so his Aunt Jessi Sawdon was able to get pictures right away. I know Ethan will have lots of fun with those Lego Robotics, because you can tweak them to do different things, and to have more power. In my opinion, Lego Robotics is a great way for kids to learn how electronics work.

Ethan had long been a Star Wars fan, and that doesn’t appear to be changing. He and his friends love to dress up as the different characters, and play Star Wars games. Like most Star Wars fans, I don’t suppose that Ethan will ever stop being a fan. Once a Star Wars fan, always a Star Wars fan…right!! I find it hard to believe that Ethan is 10 years old. It just doesn’t seem possible. He is getting so tall, and he is really coming into his own as a person. I look forward to watching him grow into the young man he will be. Today is Ethan’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Jaxx Harman is a sweet, good natured little boy who is very patient with his older sisters, who love to “mother” him. Having two older sisters can be a difficult thing for a little boy, but not Jaxx. He loves his sisters, and really wants to go play with them. He can’t walk yet, so he is limited as to what he can do, but he crawls, and I can tell you from my own experience, that many babies can crawl much faster than their older siblings. Of course, they can run, so that gets them ahead of the ones who crawl, but Jaxx’s sisters, Alice and Izabella, love their little brother too, and they try to keep him in the loop with their activities. It won’t be long before Jaxx is right up there walking and running with his sisters. He is already able to stand against furniture, provided that someone gets him up to the furniture, so it won’t be long before he figures all of it out for himself, and then…look out…here comes Jaxx!!

Jaxx has definitely found his voice, and his funny bone. He laughs often, as well as plenty of squeals and hollers. And he has an adorably cute cheesy smile that is totally contagious. He definitely keeps his family entertained with all his antics. He is very lovable, and loves life. Jaxx is all boy, however, and I’m sure that it won’t be long before his sisters’ toys become to girly for him. Nevertheless, he will probably play their games with them anyway, because he is an easygoing sort of guy. When it comes to food, Jaxx is ready to eat…anything that is put in front of him. He isn’t a picky eater at all, but he especially loves his strawberry milk. That takes me back to my young life, and I think, most kids. Flavored milk is where it’s at. I loved chocolate and strawberry milk, but then, I loved milk…period. As for Jaxx, strawberry milk is his go to flavor, and he will drink as much of it as his mommy will let him. And I think that with his sweet smile,his mommy and daddy, Melanie and Jake Harman are hard pressed to keep from giving in to this sweet little boy. Today is Jaxx’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday sweet Jaxx!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My Aunt Delores Johnson was always a sweet, kind, loving, and sincerely genuine person. She loved her family, and she made sure they knew it. From her young years she was a joy to her parents and to her siblings, always finding ways to make them laugh. This endeared her to them for the rest of her life.

Aunt Dee, as she was always known to most people, liked sweet rolls. When she was sick, and didn’t feel like eating, of course, the sweet rolls were not something she could handle, so when she finally asked for sweet rolls, it was a great relief, because it meant that she was getting better. I’m sure that sweet rolls were offered to her when she was sick, in the hope that she would want them, thus indicating that she was on the mend.

Aunt Dee loved kids and never spoke a harsh word to any of us…at least not to her nieces and nephews. I can’t speak to how she might have been if one of her four children, Ellen, Elmer, Darla, or Delwin were in trouble, but then what parent hasn’t yelled at their child at one point or another. Nevertheless, her children always knew how much she loved them, as did all of her nieces and nephews.

Aunt Dee and my mother, Collene Spencer, who was her younger sister, were good friends, on top of being sisters. They just liked spending time together, and I can’t help but think that they are having a great time in Heaven, along with their husbands, Elmer Johnson, and my dad Allen Spencer; their parents, George and Hattie Byer; siblings, Evelyn Hushman and Larry Byer, as well as brothers-in-law, Jack McDaniels and Bill Beadle. I’m sure there’s a lot of laughter going on, because that’s the kind of thing that always happens when Aunt Dee is around. There is joy in Heaven because they are all together again. Personally, I can’t wait to get there myself, to see them all again.

Aunt Dee always had something nice to say. Like everyone in this life, Aunt Dee had her share of storms, but she weathered them all, and was still always kind to the underdog. She was a very good-hearted woman, and we all loved her very much. In 1996, Aunt Dee was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. This time there would be no request for sweet rolls to set at ease the minds of all who loved her. Aunt Dee passed away on October 6, 1996, and I still can’t believe she is gone. I miss her sweet smile and her joyful ways. Today would have been her 87th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much.

My niece, Machelle Moore is a sweet, sometimes quiet girl who spends her life surrounded by boys. She is married to the oldest boy, Steve Moore, and together, they have sons Weston and Easton. For someone who only had sisters, and I can relate, because I was the same way, being a part of a family of men is…a culture shock. Moms of boys who came from a house full of girls should maybe belong to a big club of other girls just like them. Boys are…different from girls in every possible way, and they don’t care if what they are doing is polite or not. It’s a guy thing, and their mom will just have to deal with it, because those boys will never change. In reality, I think it is the moms/grandmas who went from an all girl family to an all boy family, who do all the changing. Once the initial shock wears off, you realize that while this little man can be…embarrassing at times, he can also be a great joy, and after a while, it just doesn’t phase you anymore. They do something you find embarrassing, and you just roll your eyes, because that is just how boys are, and nothing you do is going to change them one bit.

It’s a good thing that Machelle loves the outdoors, because with three boys in the house, there will be things like camping, and in the case of her husband, Steve, rock hunting. That is always fun in my opinion, but then I grew up hearing all about going rock hunting, and have collected plenty of them in my day. Not all girls like that sort of thing though. Of course, when your man turns them into beautiful things, like Machelle’s husband does, it’s hard not to get enthusiastic about the rocks you find. They take the boys camping too, and I’m sure that when they were little, they brought home the usual menagerie of frogs, toads, snakes, and bugs that every mom of boys finds herself oohing and aahing over while trying not to eeewww too much, because lets face it, those little boys would know an eeewww over an aah in a minute, but then most of them know that you don’t much like snakes, bugs. or frogs.

Being the only girl in a house full of boys is interesting…to say the least, as with a house full of girls, it is also very rewarding too. Your kids are always a blessing, and while they can be gross and embarrassing at times, they make up for it completely every time they give you a big kiss or a hug. That sort of thing just melts your heart, and those boys know just how to make their mom feel loved and special. That’s because moms are big softies when it comes to their kids, and Machelle is no different. We love our kids…boys or girls, and they know just hoe to wiggle their way into our hearts. Today is Machelle’s birthday. I’m sure her house full of boys will make it very special. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

1977014_785573824840729_4512717937708797914_n13537721_1172142732850501_1713751929367062279_nSeldom does it seem like a person is truly the light of someone else’s life, but that is how my grand niece, Melanie Harman seemed to be for my grand nephew, Jake Harman, the first time I met her. I have to think Jake, while not old by any stretch of the imagination, thought that he would never meet that special someone who would truly complete him. It’s hard to imagine how a person can feel when they honestly think they will be alone in this life. We knew that Jake felt that way…not because he said it, but because it showed in how he was. That always made me sad, because I knew that Jake had something special to give to that person who could see something special in him, and it was hard to see that there didn’t seem to be someone out there who could see that.

Then Melanie came alone, and suddenly, Jake was complete. Melanie is such a sweet, loving girl, and when he is with her, Jake just blossoms. I suppose that sounds odd, in light of the fact that he is a man, but men can blossom too. They suddenly become the person that God had in mind for them to be. Melanie was truly a gift to Jake, from God, to bless his life in every way. Melanie brought with her, a daughter, Alice, who simply adores Jake, and now together, they have another daughter, Izabella, who is Jake’s mini-me. Life is suddenly good for both Jake and Melanie, and it will only get better and better every day, week, month, and year they spend together. 12278715_1030129097051866_7408744507240113633_n13325557_1150755371655904_8772301167133340237_nTheir love for each other is simply beautiful.

Melanie is loved by everyone in the family, and everyone who knows her. It’s easy to see that her special kind of personality has been such a sweet blessing for Jake, and that endears her to all of us. Jake has never been happier, and Melanie is the reason. She is an excellent mom to the girls, and they are so blessed to have her for their mom. Melanie couldn’t fit in this family any better, if she tried. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Allen Spencer & Collene SpencerYesterday morning on my way to work, I saw a man driving a white Buick Park Avenue. I know that seems like a completely normal event, but for me, it triggered a memory. The man driving the car wore a baseball cap. I couldn’t see his face, but it wouldn’t have mattered, because the image was already in my head, of my dad, Allen Spencer driving around in my parents Buick Park Avenue. It was their idea of a luxury car. They wanted one they could be comfortable in, when they went on vacations. The Buick Park Avenue fit the bill perfectly. Mom and Dad loved that car. When they pulled the trailer all the time, of course, they used the Suburban, but when it was just the two of them and maybe a few more, they really enjoyed the comfort of the Buick.

When I saw that Buick yesterday, I felt a twinge of sadness, but still I had to smile, because in my mind, I saw my dad…healthy, happy, and just enjoying the drive. You see, my parents loved to just go for a drive. It didn’t have to be going to anywhere, because it wasn’t always about the destination. It was about the journey. 1997 Buick Park AvenueSometimes in the evenings, when we were kids, we would all load up into the car and Dad would take us for a ride. We always ended up someplace where we could see the whole city. We had dubbed it the jewelry box, and as little girls, we could imagine that all the lights were diamond necklaces, and other jewels glistening in the sunlight…even if it did have to be dark to see it. It was never about where we went though, because it was just the whole family together going for that drive. Driving was a pleasure my parents never got tired of. Even when they no longer drove, they wanted to take a drive. My sister, Cheryl Masterson often took them on those drives…a memory she will always cherish.

As I drove on to work, I felt a mix of happiness and sadness, because of the man in the white Buick Park Avenue. Happy, because it was such a sweet memory of my dad, and sad, because I miss him and my mom so Allen Spencer, Chantel Masterson, Collene Spencer, Alena Spencer, Caryl Spencermuch. I feel so blessed to have such sweet memories of them. They did so many things in their lives, and they were so truly happy together. That is a greater blessing than many others, in a time when so many marriages don’t last. A family that has two parents, who love each other, and who manage to create such sweet memories out of something so simple as going for an evening drive, is a blessed family indeed, because later on, you will find that it isn’t the big moments like a trip to the Grand Canyon or New York City that will really stand out in your memory. It is the little moments…the everyday moments, that seem so insignificant, but have such a sweetness to them, that you will always remember. And you just never know when something will trigger a reminder of those sweet little everyday moments.

IMG_1873I can’t think of my niece Jessi Hadlock Sawdon without thinking about the how sweet she is. There is, however, a mix of personality traits that are simply Jessi in every way. While being sweet and thoughtful is truly her nature, Jessi can also be very funny and a good natured teaser too. I suppose that was a matter of survival in her family. They all love to tease each other, and no one is exempt. I suppose that there are families who would find it odd to tease your siblings…or at least not very nice, but then they just don’t understand Jessi and her family. I think if they weren’t teasing each other, we would wonder what they were mad about.

It has been a long time since Jessi’s sisters have called her Jessi, because she has been nicknamed Jeffrey…don’t ask me why, because I couldn’t tell you, and it’s not the only nickname either. Maybe the girls will enlighten us on this, and the other nicknames in the family. For instance, my niece, Lindsay is called Lancil, and in answer to Kellie calling her Jeffrey, Jessi called 1441388_10151860429264001_1752903621_nKellie, Baby Pie. And these are just a couple of the names that have been used. I know, you all thought that name calling wasn’t nice, but these girls happen to disagree. Maybe the names they use don’t seem like they are cutesy pie names, but they are used in the most loving way there is, and those girls all know that. When people see their form of teasing on Facebook, you just have to wonder if they think these girls must be really mad at each other, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Theirs is a close loving family, and the girls, along with their brother Ryan and his wife Chelsea, Jessi’s husband Jason, and Lindsay’s husband, Shannon, are the best of friends. It doesn’t matter how far apart they are, they are always best friends, and their teasing just keeps everything light hearted and fun.

Jessi is a very capable legal secretary, and has been working in law offices since her high school days. She is an amazing organizer, and that makes her one of the most called upon people to help with things like deep cleaning for grandparents, and setting up the Christmas tree along with her cousin, Liz Masterson, which they IMG_1869did this year, even though their grandparents, my parents, Al and Collene Spencer will be spending this Christmas in Heaven. Helping out this year was for her Aunt Cheryl Masterson, who has always been close to Jessi, and in fact, was instrumental in helping Jessi get her start in law. Jessi’s organizational skills also came in handy when she worked with the Young Professionals, as well as in her heading up of the youth group at our church.

These days, Jessi is occupied with going to college, and enjoying married life with Jason and their dog, Daisy. They love to travel, and especially enjoy going to Miami, Florida to visit Lindsay and Shannon, as well as going to Michigan to visit Jason’s family. Yes, life is good for Jessi and Jason, and it will only bet better, because they are perfect for each other…and it doesn’t get any better than that. Today is Jessi’s birthday. Happy birthday Jessi!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Virginia Beadle, Janette Byer, Forrest Beadle, Larry Wayne Byer, Ellen Johnson, Elmer Johnson, Deloris JohnsonWhen my Uncle Larry Byer, married the love of his life, Jeanette Morton, she became the first daughter-in-law my grandparents had. They had nine children and of those, just two sons, Larry and Wayne. Larry was the oldest boy, Wayne the youngest boy, with three girls before Larry, and three girls after Wayne, and my mom, Collene Byer Spencer in the middle.

My grandparents were used to girls, with all of their mixed emotions, but prior to Aunt Jeanette, the additions had always been men…husbands for the daughters. I’m not sure, but I have to think that it must have been a little bit of a culture shock to add another girl to this mix. When your family has an over abundance of girls, adding boys seems to calm the whole world down some, because suddenly the emotions of those girls settle down too. I Uncle Larry and Aunt Jeanettesuppose they probably thought that adding a daughter-in-law could possible bring a new surge of emotions, but they couldn’t have been more wrong. Aunt Jeanette has always seemed like a very calm, mellow person to me…with a wonderful laugh that brings a smile to everyone’s face. Of course, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have an Aunt Jeanette, because she married my Uncle Larry back on February 11, 1956, and I wasn’t born until the following April.

Aunt Jeanette has always been such a kind and thoughtful person. I’m sure that is what attracted her to Uncle Larry too. Aunt Jeanette had been a friend of the family for a while before she and Uncle Larry started dating, and so in many ways, she just fit right in with the rest of the family. Nevertheless, Aunt Jeanette brought a Grandma Byer and Aunt Jeanettesweetness to the family all her own. She is one of the few people these days who always sends out Christmas cards, because she wants those she loves to know that she is thinking about them. That is just the kind of person she is and always has been.

Aunt Jeanette has long been the only sister-in-law in the family, but in reality, she is more like a sister than a sister-in-law to the rest of the siblings. She has endeared herself to them in many ways. Her kindness and generosity are well known to anyone who ever had a need. She is quick to offer words of comfort, and just to let you know that no matter what you need, she will be there for you. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s 79th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

JamesSome kids take to having their parents leave them with a grandparent or aunt while they go out of town better than other kids do, and I suppose that as an only child, my grand nephew, James Renville felt that he shouldn’t be left out of anything, and for the most part he wasn’t. One advantage to being an only child is that you have the full attention of your parents most of the time. When James was five years old, his parents, my niece Toni Chase, and her husband at the time, Jim Renville, decided to go to Las Vegas for the weekend. They left James with my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is his grandmother, and headed out for a nice weekend.

Now, I can tell you that James had a wonderful time, because when his parents came back, he was in the back yard playing cops and robbers with his cousins, Garrett Stevens and Jake Harman. When Jim said his name, he turned and pretended to shoot his dad. Then, he ran and hid under the picnic Teenaged James_editedtable. When his dad picked him up, he said, “Take me to Steve’s…he’s my daddy now!” Steve Spethman, being his uncle had apparently now become the guy he wanted to replace his dad when he was mad at him. Of course, he would never shoot his dad, and he didn’t want a new daddy, but he had been feeling a little bit abandonded, and so was a little mad at his parents. After about an hour, he forgave them, and that horrendous, but in reality kind of fun, first weekend away from his parents was over. James stayed with his grandmother other times, and had no issues with it, so apparently he wasn’t traumatized too much.

He wasn’t traumatized on that issue anyway. One day, when James was in preschool, his mother, my niece, Toni Chase was getting him ready to go to school, and he was throwing a fit because she was dressing him in a pair of adorable green bib overalls, and a Bob the Builder t-shirt. Toni thought they were adorable. James was fighting her every step of the way. Finally in frustration she asked him why he didn’t want to wear them. His 10401458_10152102088472237_3870755221038856524_nanswer was, “Cuz, I’m too cool!!” Aparently Bob the Builder simply wasn’t cool at all, so that would traumatize him.

For some reason, while most parents threaten their children with the other parent when they are acting out, Toni and Jim used to threaten James with his Aunt Chantel Balcerzak, who is Toni’s sister. Now personally, I can’t see that as a threat, because, Chantel is a real softy, but that is what they did. When I talked to Chantel about all this, she told me that she simply doesn’t know how James turned out to be so sweet, but he did. And anyone who knows him would have to agree. James is a real sweetie. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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