While I knew that the Louvre was not always a museum, since it was built in the 1500s, and no museums existed then, I never would have guessed that at one time it was a palace. I’m not sure why, it just didn’t occur to me. The construction of the Louvre palace was begun by King Francis I in 1546 on the site of a 12th-century fortress built by King Philip II. King Francis was a great art collector, and the Louvre was to serve as his royal residence. What better place to eventually become a museum than the castle of an art collector.

The work, which was supervised by the architect Pierre Lescot, continued after Francis’ death and into the reigns of kings Henry II and Charles IX. It seems that every successive king wanted to change things or add things to make it their own. Almost every subsequent French monarch extended the Louvre and its grounds, but major additions were made by Louis XIII and Louis XIV in the 17th century. Not only did these kings make major additions, but they also greatly expanded the crown’s art holdings, and Louis XIV acquired the art collection of Charles I of England after his execution in the English Civil War. Then, in 1682, Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles. That was the end of the Louvre’s time as the main royal residence, but it would not be closed up and locked away forever.

In the spirit of the Enlightenment, many in France began calling for the public display of the royal collections, believing that it would be a shame not do display them, and that they belonged to the commonwealth of France. The French writer and philosopher, Denis Diderot, was among the first to propose a national art museum for the public. In 1750 King Louis XV temporarily displayed a selection of paintings at the Luxembourg Palace, but it was not until the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 that any real progress was made in establishing a permanent museum. The French Revolutionary Government turned the Louvre into a public museum in Paris on August 10, 1793, calling it the Musée Central des Arts in the Grande Galerie of the Louvre. After more than two centuries as a royal palace, seen only by royalty and guests. With artwork and artifacts representative of 11,000 years of human civilization and culture, the art collection housed in the Louvre is one of the richest in the world.

The French army seized art and archaeological items from territory and nations conquered in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, and the collection at the Louvre grew rapidly. Much of this plundered art was returned after Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, however the Louvre’s current Egyptian antiquities collections and other departments owe much to Napoleon’s conquests as well. Two new wings were added in the 19th century. The Louvre complex was completed in 1857, during the reign of Napoleon III.

The Grand Louvre, as the museum is officially known, underwent major remodeling in the 1980s and 1990s. Modern museum amenities were added and thousands of square meters of new exhibition space were opened. The Chinese American architect I M Pei built a steel-and-glass pyramid in the center of the Napoleon courtyard. Traditionalists were outraged. In 1993, the 200th anniversary of the museum, a rebuilt wing formerly occupied by the French ministry of finance opened to the public, and for the first time the entire Louvre was used for museum purposes.

It is so hard for me to believe that my grand-niece, Aurora Hadlock is 8 years old today. It seems like just yesterday that she arrived…such a sweet, pretty little baby girl. She was given the name of her mother, Chelsea Hadlock’s dreams…Aurora. The name Aurora means “Dawn” or “Sunrise,” and either one fits Aurora, because she has a sunshiny personality. She loves hanging out with friends, cousins, and her brother, Ethan. As siblings go, these two are very close. Ethan is protective of his sister, but doesn’t mind teasing her a bit either. Aurora can take it though, because they have grown up in a family of teasers, a long line of them really, dating back at least four generations.

Aurora is a smart little girl, who does well in school. She especially loves to read and make art. She also comes from a long line of musicians, dating back at least four generations, and she really loves to play the guitar with her dad and grandpa. I wish she could have played with her great grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer, because he would have just loved having a little great granddaughter who could play the guitar. His own daughters weren’t really so inclined, with the exception of Aurora’s grandma, Allyn Hadlock, who played the violin, as did our dad.

Very soon, Aurora and her family are going to be moving into a bigger house. My sister and her husband, Chris, Aurora’s grandparents are building a new home in the country, and Aurora’s parents are going to buy their current home. It is bigger, and will provide them with all the home they need for the rest of their lives. Aurora is very excited about the move, as is her brother, and it can’t come soon enough. The kids know that their grandparents house isn’t done yet, and they know that they will have to move when their old house is sold. So they have asked where their grandparents are going to live when they move into the house. Allyn laughed and said, “With you!!” The kids hadn’t thought of that, but they liked the idea. They love to spend the night over there, so now their grandparents can spend the night with them for a change. It’s an exciting time for Aurora. Today is Aurora’s birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Topher Spicer is a typical teenager who like to hang out with his friends. They like to go long boarding and walking around. Topher loves long boarding, and he is very good at it. He is always practicing his moves, and that leads to greatly improved skill levels, but that doesn’t mean that the only thing you need is practice, because that isn’t true. Lots of people practice things and some still have no talent. It takes a certain amount of talent. Topher has talent.

Topher’s talent doesn’t stop at the long board though. Topher is an artist. He does his drawing on the computer, but the drawing is all him. I’ve tried to draw on a computer, and believe me that is also not where my talent lies. People who are artists have the pictures in their head, long before they appear on the paper or the screen. Art takes a number of forms too. Photography is an art, but not everyone can take a photo that anyone would call art. Topher has a pretty good eye when it comes to photography, and one of his favorite subjects is his dog, Buttercup. Buttercup is a silky terrier, and like all pet parents, Topher loves his Fur Baby. They hang out together, and Buttercup is totally content doing whatever Topher wants to. It doesn’t get better than that, does it.

Topher is going into high school this year. The thing I notice the most about Topher is that he is getting so tall. His mom tells me that he is polite and smart, and always makes her so proud. He is a good student, and is looking forward to the cool things that high school will bring. High school is a turning point for kids. They get to spread their wings and start to decide where they want their lives to go. It’s going to be an exciting year. Today is Topher’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Topher!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For my grand niece, Kaytlyn Griffith, summer is just an ideal time to take classes to learn about her favorite pastime…art. Last summer was filled with such classes, and as it turns out, Kaytlyn is a talented artist. At this point, most of Kaytlyn’s art is in the form of drawings, and while I’m not an expert, I can tell you that they are very good. She entered a contest at Christmas time, and she was declared the Grand Champion out of all the schools in Powell!! That is a high honor for any student.

Kaytlyn’s parents, Susan and Josh Griffith are so proud of their daughter’s abilities, and her continuing interest in the arts. They are considering having her work on a few projects that she can enter in the county fair this summer. Looking at Kaytlyn’s work, I think she has a great change of winning some ribbons at the fair, and I can’t wait to see how it all plays out. I am so excited for Kaytlyn to be entering her first fair.

Kaytlyn Has been working very hard this year in school. She’s trying to improve her math skills. There are lots of kids for whom math does not come easy, and I think that often, artistically minded kids don’t naturally gravitate toward mathematical skills. They have to work hard to hone their mathematical skills. That makes their success even sweeter. They have have had to step outside their comfort zone to embrace something that is a little bit foreign to them, but when they work hard, breakthrough can come. Last week, Kaytlyn received an Effort Award at school, because she had been working so hard on trying to improve on her math skills. Her parents are so proud of her, as is the rest of her family, and we are all thankful that her teacher can see how hard she is trying. Good job Kaytlyn!! Today is Kaytlyn’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Kaytlyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Louis Mantin, was a French aesthete, which is a person who has a special appreciation of art and beauty. He was also, “obsessed with death and the passage of time.” He wrote in his will that he wanted to turn his home into a museum after his death. He wanted to share his love of art, and his vast collection with others. However, his Will was very explicit in the details of how this would be carried out, and some might even say it was eccentric. In his will, he made a very specific and seemingly odd request, the museum would open 100 years after his passing.

Mantin died in 1905, and though he made it very clear in his will what he wanted the house to be in 100 years, he didn’t make any provisions for the upkeep of the house in the meantime. Because nothing was specifically laid out, the house eventually fell into disrepair, because it was locked up and ignored. Eventually, worms and mold settled in among his statues and in the elaborate wallpaper. After a distant relative discovered Mantin’s will and initiated an extensive renovation project, the house was finally re-opened as a museum in 2010. It was five years late, but the will was finally carried out. I suppose that it took a little time to get the house back into a condition that would allow the house to become a museum.

Townspeople and tourists can now marvel at this once hidden world, that went completely untouched for a century, admiring Mantin’s eclectic collections, as well as his flushing toilet and heated floors, true luxuries for any home back in 1905. Mantin inherited a large fortune from his father, and since he was a bachelor, with no children, he used the money to start collecting the things that he loved. He was almost obsessive about it. Egyptian relics, medieval locks and keys, monkey skulls, and stuffed blowfish. Mantin had strange taste, and since he inherited the money later in life, he knew that his time with his newly acquired collection would be short. He decided that the logical solution was to turn his home into a museum. He thought people might like to know how an artistic gentleman had lived at the turn of the century. The museum might be filled with odd relics, but when you consider how rare they are, their value in the world of art would probably make them priceless.

My niece, Michelle Stevens sees things that most of us would miss. Of course, when I say that, I am talking about seeing art in things most of us couldn’t even imagine. Not all of these things were her ideas, but she could make them work, because she is very talented. Her artwork is truly prize winning. Michelle has studied every form of art in her pursuit of her art education degree, and I think she could do any of them and will no doubt create some in the future.

Michelle has taken up crocheting. I did that once, but I don’t think I was nearly as talented as Michelle. She made a beautiful blanket for her little niece, Elliott Michelle Stevens. It is beautiful in gray, pink, and white. Little did Michelle know at the time she was making the blanket, but her sister-in-law, Kayla was decorating Elliott’s room in pink and gray. The blanket fit in perfectly. Of course, becoming an aunt to Elliott has been the biggest change in Michelle’s life for this year. She doesn’t get to see as much of little Elliott as she would like, because she and her parents live in Sheridan, and Michelle lives in Casper, but she is still Aunty Michelle, and that is very cool. Michelle has also taken up sewing with a sewing machine her mom, Alena Stevens gave her. She wants to make quilts and things. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few little baby outfits make their way to Elliott for her Aunty Michelle either. Michelle sees many different things as art, and she is very good at all of them. She makes wreaths, pottery, and is planning to take up mosaic glass art. Even Michelle’s fur babies, dogs Obie and Leia got gifts. She made them stockings, because she loves those puppies like babies and I hear they are spoiled rotten. Michelle is an artist in every sense of the word. Oh…to have such talent!! Unfortunately it is not in my sphere.

On top of all her artwork, Michelle is a great cook. When we had our family Christmas party last weekend, Michelle made crab stuffed mushrooms. They were amazing. Michelle loves to cook, and like everything else in her world, she considers it a form of art too. The more creative she can get with it the more she likes it. Oh…to have such talent!! Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Aurora Hadlock is growing up so fast. She is a girl of many talents. Of course, having a big brother, Ethan, who loves his sister and hangs out with with her, helps Aurora to diversify in her choices of activities. Ethan has taught her to play Minecraft,and they play together. Also,having a big brother who likes football has made Aurora like the game too. So it seemed only logical for her to decide to sign up for Flag Football. I know that she will have a great time with that. She is athletic,and while she has a girly side, there is a little of a tomboy in her too.

Aurora still loves to read and has since the day she learned how. Reading has always been a big part of her life. Her parents and grandparents read to her, as did her big brother. Books have long been a highlight of Aurora’s life. She also likes art…a trait that she gets from her mother, who is very crafty. They love to make beautiful things for their home, and as in her mother’s case, selling them. I don’t think it will be very long before Aurora’s mom can include some of her artwork for sale too.

Something I was not aware of is that Aurora is actually a chip off the old block…or as in her case, two blocks…her dad, Ryan Hadlock and her grandpa, Chris Hadlock. Both of the men play the guitar, and now I have learned that Aurora plays too. She is learning from them, and loves to have jam sessions as a threesome. Really, that is pretty impressive for a 7 year old girl. Of course, when you look back in her genealogical line, she comes from a long line of guitar players, that include her great grandpa, Allen Lewis Spencer, and 2nd great grandpa, Allen Luther Spencer. With all that talent (and maybe more for all I know) in her lineage, it’s no wonder that Aurora is a guitar player at the tender age of 7 years. I think it is sad that her other grandpa’s didn’t get a chance to jam with her too, but maybe they can in Heaven when we all get there.

Aurora is such a sweet little girl who is always smiling. She is getting ready to start 2nd grade this year, and I know she will do very well, because she is a good student who loves to learn new things. She has enjoyed her summer, and has done some great things, including a family vacation to Disneyland, where she met lots of Disney characters, and especially loved the rides…if I know her. But then, the princesses and mermaids were probably highlights too. Aurora has had a great year, and I know the coming year will be even better. Today is Aurora’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Michelle Stevens has always had an artsy flair, so when it came time to decide on a career, there was no real decision to make. She knew that art had to be a part of her life forever. She also knew that she wanted to share her love of art with others, so what better way to do that than to teach art. I know that some people might think of an arts and crafts instructor right about now, but that is nothing like the requirements an art teacher has to have. They have to know how to do every kind of art…painting, sculpting, sketching, and so many others. To be an art teacher, one must be an artist in every sense of the word…and they must also be a teacher.

Looking forward, I can envision Michelle’s life filled with beautiful artwork…moat of which she has made herself. Of course, I don’t know that, it’s just the way I see it. Michelle has always had a artsy flair about her, and now that she has trained for both art and teaching, it is time to take the next turn in the road. School is over and now she is ready to become a teacher of art. The next plan so far is to move back to Casper, and of course, we are very happy about that. We all hope that she will be able to find a teaching position here at home, but of course, that remains to be seen. I think teaching here would be awesome.

This past weekend marked the final step in Michelle’s education, when she walked across that stage to receive her diploma. The excitement was clearly showing on her face. Her parents and boyfriend were in the audience, almost unable to contain their pride. Years of work were behind her now. She had made the cut. We are all so proud of her and so excited to see where life takes her now. Casper couldn’t possible be blessed with a better art teacher than Michelle. She loves her chosen profession, and the really nice thing is that she can mix her favorite pastime with her career. The future is so bright for her…and so colorful. Congratulations on your college graduation, Michelle!! We are so proud of you and we love you!! The future is yours!!

Like Father, Like SonPicking on SissyMy nephew, Ryan Hadlock has always been full of mischief and tom foolery, following in the footsteps of his dad, but beyond that, Ryan has become a great husband and dad. He has been in love with his wife, Chelsea since the moment he first saw her, I think. Once they started dating, it was all over for Ryan, and that was not a bad thing. He has never given any thought to changing that fact…not for one second. I seriously can’t imaging him with anyone else. Theirs is a match made in heaven. Their personalities fit together perfectly, as do their interests. As a dad, Ryan has proven himself to be such a natural with the kids. He and Chelsea are great parents, and the kids are sweet and well behaved. I guess that sometimes with nephews and nieces, you find yourself somehow not realizing that they have become adults while you weren’t looking. Then they have kids and suddenly, you get it.

Nevertheless, there are ways in which Ryan has not, and probably will never grow up. That is the same way in which his dad will never grow up. Ryan, like his dad, my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock, loves to pick on the girls…and in a family with plenty of them, the guys have a lot of us to choose from. But then…why choose. I think they just figure that having a lot of girls in the family means having multiple targets for their antics. Now, with Ryan’s son, Ethan watching his every move, he is teaching the next generation all about the art of picking on the girls. Oh, trust me when I say that it is all in good fun and is taken as such, but nevertheless, they love picking on the girls. They pull your hair and then pretend that it wasn’t them. They tickle and tease, startle you and chase you to gat the chance to tickle you. They will never grow up, nor will they get tired of picking on us. And then to top it off, they teach the next generation the art of picking on the girls.

Nevertheless, when I think of Ryan, I can think of a nicer, more giving man. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He has grown into a very special man, one that I have a lot of respect for. He works Hadlocks 2014Ryan and Chelsea (2)hard, and takes good care of his family. Yes, he is teaching the next generation the fine art of picking on the girls, but then we wouldn’t have any fun if he didn’t. Ours is a family who loves to have fun and teasing is a big part of that too. But, beyond all that there is a strong family bond that will always be there. Ryan and Chelsea are teaching their children, Ethan and Rory, all about that strong bond, helping and caring, having good values, and how to have fun as family too. Today is Ryan’s birthday. I am so proud of the man you have become. Happy birthday Ryan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Pretty Young Lady RaelynnMy grand niece, Raelynn is becoming a young lady, right before our eyes. As she heads into 5th grade, so much in her world is changing. This past year she ran for class secretary, and during the course of the campaign, she earned the nickname Rapper Rae. I’m sure you can guess how that came about. She is really spreading her wings and flying into new experiences. I can’t say I ever thought of Raelynn as a politician, but since she seems to be, I guess she is a girl after my heart. Now I just have to make sure she gets on the right side of the political arena…but I guess there is a little bit of time for that.
Lego Girl
This past school year, Raelynn was finally old enough to get into Legorobotics, which is a club in which the kids build a vehicle with Legos that can perform several maneuvers. They work on these through the course of the year and then there is a competition that the teams are entered in to represent their school. It is a really cool thing for the kids to do, and very much enjoyed by all who participate. Raelynn and her team had a great time. She told her mom, my niece Dustie Masterson, that she had no idea you could build so many things with Legos. Raelynn has always loved art, but now she has discovered science and loves doing experiments. She has always loved school, because learning is awesome.
Christmas Cheer
Raelynn loves riding around with her favorite cousin, Jake Harman, and yelling out to random people things like “Will you be my friend?” or “Where are all the pretty butterflies?”, because those are the random things Jake likes to do. Raelynn is coming into her own in the humor department too, and says lots of funny things if her own. She loves to hum with her dad, my nephew, Rob Masterson, or dance and sing down the isles of stores with her mom. But, for Raelynn, her favorite place to be is church. She loves Jesus and worship. She has a beautiful soul, and to know Raelynn is to love Raelynn. Today is Raelynn’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have an awesome day!! We love you!!

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