artist

My grand-niece, Aurora Hadlock is such a sweet, happy girl. She has a zest for life, and most often sees the good in everything. Her positive outlook on life always keeps her upbeat. This year with it’s long Covid Summer has given people lots of extra time to spend together, and when the quarantine lifted, the family began doing a lot of camping and four wheeling. The family has traveled to the Black Hills twice this year, and Aurora’s favorite site is Mount Rushmore…a favorite of mine too. The Black Hills is a family favorite place.

Aurora wants to be a police officer when she grows up. She comes by this decision naturally, because her grandpa, Chris Hadlock is a retired Casper Police officer, and her uncle, Jason Sawdon is a Wyoming Highway Patrolman. Being a police officer is a noble calling, and her desire to help people is inspiring. She wants to keep the public safe, and I really respect that. She may only be 9 years old, but this career decision has been with her for a long time. She had the opportunity recently to sit on the motorcycle of a Casper Police officer, and she was so excited about it.

Aurora is very excited about going back to school. Like many children, who were thrust into unexpected online learning, Aurora did not like it at all. The coming year has left her a little bit apprehensive, however, because her big brother, Ethan will not be in her school. He has moved on to middle school. Another missing face is will be that of her great aunt, Alena Steven, who retired at the end of last term. Nevertheless, Aurora is tough, and she will tackle it head on. I’m sure that by the end of the first week, she will be totally fine with the coming year.

Aurora is an artist, and wants to start her own business, selling her paintings and drawings. This is also a goal she comes by naturally, as her mom, Chelsea, who has a business of her own selling jewelry of her own design at the Comic Con Conventions. Starting your own business is not an easy thing to do, so having the experience of her mom and her successful business will be a great help. Aurora’s dad, Ryan has been helping her with a special project…but that is not finished yet, so I’m not going to give it away. That will be a story for next year, and one I am looking forward to sharing. Today is Aurora’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As I was thinking about my niece, Chantel Balcerzak, my thoughts turned to just how sweet and caring she is. I knew what my feeling were concerning my niece, but I thought maybe it would be nice to hear things from a different perspective. I asked my grandniece, and Chantel’s daughter for some of her memories. I was not disappointed.

Siara Olsen, who is Chantel’s youngest child, told me that, as with many kids, one of the best parts about school for her, were the field trips the classes get to go on. All the students in the class got to bring a lunch from home to have for the trip. Chantel always made sure that their lunches on those days were special. She would get Lunchables, chips, and their favorite candy. These might have been things they wouldn’t have had otherwise, but Chantel wanted to make it special. I think Siara, and her brother Jake Harman would tell you that it was more than what was in the lunch, that made it special, it was the love she put into it too.

Chantel was a single mom for part of her children’s lives, and she didn’t want them to feel like they had missed out of time with their mom and the memories that would create, so on what became special nights, Chantel would declare that they were going to have a “Carpet Picnic.” The kids got to pick out their favorite junk foods like, Pigs in a Blanket, Totino’s pizza, and Wheat Thins with Cream Cheese. Chantel laid out a blanket on the floor, set out the food, and they ate dinner, while watching a special movie they had picked out. The memories of those picnics will stay with the kid all their lives, because, of the love she put into the evening.

Because Chantel was a single mom, the kids spend time each year with their dad in Louisiana. That was a hard time for Chantel, because she dearly loved her kids, and hated to be away from them. One year, she had a great idea. Just so you know, Chantel is an artist, and her work is great. So that year, when the kids came home from Louisiana, both of their bedrooms had been completely transformed. Chantel had decorated Siara’s room in a princess theme, and Jake’s room was dragons and knives. Siara tells me that they were amazing. I can imagine, because I have things in my home that Chantel has painted, so I know her talents. Still, when it came to her kids, well it was more than the paint, curtains, and decorations…it was the love their mom put into this sweet gift for their homecoming.

Like many in our family, the Black Hills is a special destination. We all love to go there, and many of us go every year. Chantel’s family is one of those for whom the annual 4th of July trip to South Dakota is a must. The family goes camping, and sight seeing, because as anyone who loves the Black Hills knows, you never see it all over there. Chantel cooked all the best foods on the campfire and everyone ate their fill. Then, Chantel and her husband Dave, paid the way for all of them to head over to the water park! Like everything that Chantel does, these trips were not just about going somewhere, they were about being with her beloved family, because it really is about how much she loves them.

Siara told me that she could go on and on about her mom, because she is her very best friend, and I know that is true. They are very much two of a kind. Chantel is a wonderful person, and she has dedicated her life to her family. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob’s aunt, Esther Hein is the oldest child of her parents, Walt and Vina Hein. She was also the middle child of her mother, who had two children from another marriage. Because of the age difference the children, the older children, Marion and Walt were both married while Esther was just a little girl, so she grew up being the oldest child for the most part. Besides her two half-siblings, Esther had two brothers, Edward and Bernard Hein.

The family lived outside of Forsyth, Montana on a ranch, and with the winters in Montana being what they often are, getting her to school wasn’t always easy, so during the winter months, Esther often lived with her brother Walt and his wife Joann, so she could attend school regularly. Those were special days for Esther, who became very close friends with Walt and Joann, as well as little sister. Of course, as with any child, Esther could be trying, to which Joann would exclaim, “Don’t Esther!” A situation that remained with Joann, even when Alzheimer’s Disease stole many of her memories. The three of them would remain close for the rest of their lives. Though they lived far away from each other for their entire adult lives, they talked on the phone often, and visited as often as they could.

Esther is an artist, and many of her pieces of artwork adorned the homes of her family. She is also a good seamstress, and made curtains for Walt and Joann’s bathroom, which they loved very much. She especially liked to paint on unusual objects, like sawblades. She would create beautiful landscapes on both straight sawblades, as well as round sawblades. The effect was amazing. The way that something so mechanical could also take on a rustic look was amazing. Her artistic ability was something that made her brother, Walt very proud. He spoke of it often, and was always quick to point out her paintings to people who visited the house. He proudly told them that the artist was his little sister. Today is Esther’s birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Chantel Balcerzak is a very talented artist, and wedding planner. In the last three years she has planned the weddings of her two step-children, as well as her two children’s weddings. I don’t know about you, but for weddings in three years wold probably put me in the nut house, but Chantel seems to take most things in stride. Wedding planning really is her passion, and the weddings of her for kids are her greatest wedding accomplishments…and her greatest responsibilities. She has taken them very seriously, wanting every detail to be perfect.

Chantel decided after planning a couple of these weddings, that she had a knack for it and so, she started a business called Next To The Dress. The business is doing well, but planning a wedding for a customer and planning a wedding for your child are two different things. When it is your child’s wedding, you also have all the stressed out emotions of your children, as well as your own emotions too. In addition to that, when it is her child’s wedding, Chantel has parts of the planning that normally aren’t a part of the wedding planner’s duties. Being the wedding planner and the mom is a unique role for any wedding planner, and yet being the mom is often how wedding planners come to be wedding planners. They plan a wedding for their child, and then start a business.

Chantel is such a great artist, and she brings all of her artistic abilities to create the wedding of her client’s dreams. She can create just about any design her client can dream up. That kind of talent isn’t easy to find, and it takes a lot of effort on Chantel’s part. She spend hours searching the internet for design examples to show her clients, so that their wedding will become the dream they have always fantasized about. That is really what makes Chantel such a great wedding planner. It is more than just an attention to detail, it is a dedication to the dreams of her clients, and isn’t that what it is all about?

While Chantel is very busy right now, she is very excited for this wedding. It is the last for her children, and that can be a little emotional. Chantel is a sentimental person,so crying at weddings is simply a given. I don’t think any mom can go to the wedding of her child and not be emotional. After all, that bride or groom is the baby she carried for nine months, and then raised to adulthood. They will always be her babies, and as we all know, most mom’s are weepy people when it comes the sentimental things their kids do, like weddings graduations, and parenthood. And Chantel considers herself to be a queen of emotion, so don’t expect anything else. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Some talents can be learned, but some tend to be things that you are just born with. I was watching a program the other day, and this couple was looking at a place to buy, and the husband mentioned that they could have a garden, and his wife said…”You can have a garden!!” He said, “Oh, because of your brown thumb.” I immediately thought of myself. A gardener I am not…and that is a fact. My husband’s aunt, Esther Hein, however, really likes to plant flowers and nurture them along. It is something that she has a talent for. I wish I did, but I was not born with that talent.

Aunt Esther also is a gifted artist and quilter. I have one of her paintings, and I really love it. Her quilting is well known, as is some of her sewing. She has made curtains and other such things for my father-in-law’s house, and I always liked knowing that those things came from Esther, with love. She made on particularly beautiful quilt for my father-in-law, that he loved so very much. It was always on their bed, and he was always extra careful to make sure that it was never harmed. Quilting is a beautiful art form, for those who are skilled enough to master it. Esther is, and again, I am not.

She also makes out a family calendar every year, with birthdays, death dates, and anniversary dates on it. It is an act of love that she has done for many years for her family members. I remember looking at the calendar she sent to my father-in-law every year. The calendar had birthday and death date of people long passed, and was a great ancestry tool, as well as a way to keep up with important dates, and remember those long passed. Esther is active in her church, and loves the Lord, and she loves to play with her dogs, go camping, and snow shoeing, as well as traveling. We don’t get to see Esther as much as we would like, and we hope that maybe one of these days, her travels with bring her to Wyoming again. Of course, I suppose we should make our travels include Oregon too. Today is Esther’s birthday. Happy birthday Esther!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageWherever there is snow, you can bet there will be a snowman. Maybe not in every yard, but in many of them. I’m not sure who first has the idea to make a snowman, but once it got started, it caught on quickly. Now it is simply a winter tradition, and if the littlest ones are too little, their parents will build it fir them or assist in building it if need be.

The building of the first snowman is unknown, but Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman documented snowmen back to medieval times. He researched paintings in European museums, art galleries, and libraries. The earliest documentation he found was a marginal illustration from a work titled Book of Hours from 1380, found in Koninklijke Bibliotheek, in The Hague. Who knew that snowmen went back that far.
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When it comes to the tallest snowman, we would have to clarify the 122 feet 1 inch snowman, was actually a snow woman. She was built in 2008 in Bethel, Maine, and was named in honor of Olympia Snowe, a United States Senator representing the state of Maine. In 2015, a man from the Wisconsin was noted for making a large snowman 22 feet tall and with a base 12 feet wide. Still, the average snowman stands between three and six feet tall, because that is the height that the average builder takes the time to do. There are several ways to build a snowman, and in fact the styles can be very creative, or total disasters, depending on the abilities of the builder. Some people are even snowman artists. Their snowmen look like actual sculptures.
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As kids, my sisters and I have built more snowmen than we can count. Some turned out great and others, not so much. I don’t recall seeing a lot of pictures of our snowmen, but we came across one of my sister, Cheryl Masterson building one that I’m sure our dad must have helped with. I suppose that milestones like building your first snowman didn’t exactly fall into place the same category as those first steps or high school graduation, but it is still a first. Unfortunately, like most of the lesser firsts, there isn’t usually as much documentation as the subsequent children come along. Or it could be that little firsts like snowmen just don’t seem all that important when you have multiple children. They are just another winter tradition.

MichelleMy niece, Michelle is probably one of the most different people in our family, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. There is a gentleness about Michelle, and I think that comes from her artistic side. Michelle is in college in South Dakota, and that means we don’t get to see her very much. That makes me sad, because I think that the gentle quality that Michelle gives to our family is something that we need…doesn’t every family? There are many different personalities that make up a family, and each one is important to the family unit.

Through the years, I have watched Michelle grow as a person and as an artist. Her art is beautiful and anyone who has the privilege of seeing it or owning any of it knows Michelle-Stevens-drawingjust how talented she is. One of my favorites is a sketch of a bench. It has a simplicity to it, and yet you feel like you could sit right down on it…and you would like to. The bench is just that realistic. It looks like the perfect place to sit, relax, and read a book.

Michelle isn’t all about art though. She loves to travel, and like many of us, a cruise ship is one of her favorite forms of travel. I suppose those trips inspire her artistic mind to create new things. I personally love photography, and a cruise is a great way to take awesome pictures, which Michelle is very good at too. I’m sure that her photographic ability comes from her artistic eye. She has taken pictures of many places, and she has done some Photoshop enhancements to make them look simply amazing. I have watched her pictures and her art advance over the years, and they are amazing. I think Michelle didn’t choose to be an artist, but was rather born with the natural abilities she Michelle Kristine Stevens 6.5 years oldhas. Many people would love to have her talent.

Little girl Michelle was such a smiley girl. When she smiled, he whole face lit up with a smile. Some people are blessed with smiling eyes, and Michelle is definitely one of those people. It was one of the first things I noticed about her. I have always loved the way smiling eyes look, and they are something that makes people smile too. People are just drawn to people with a great smile, and smiling eyes. Maybe that is part of the reason why Michelle has always been loved by everyone who knows her. Michelle is such a special person, and I am very proud that she is my niece. Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Lacey Stevens Lacey's dressing roomSometimes, just when you think you know someone, some little thing changes in their life, and suddenly you find out things about them that you had no idea about. Such was the case with my niece, Lacey Stevens. Lacey is not the kind of person to brag about her talents, and in my defense, maybe that is why I never knew.

Recently, Lacey decided to move out of her parents’ house, and into a little house of her own. Lacey is a cosmetologist by trade, and she had been saving her money for furniture, rent, and the other things she would need to live on her own. While her parents are really proud of how responsible she has been in planning her move, they do, nevertheless, miss her at home. She has been so busy that they have hardly seen her, and that can be hard for first time empty nesters.

It’s not, however, Lacey’s responsible ways that took me by surprise. As I was planning my story, I thought I might show some pictures if Lacey’s new place. I asked her for pictures to showcase her place in my story, and Lacey's painting 2Lacey's living room that’s when it happened. It was a simple enough thing on Lacey’s part. She just sent the pictures to me and told me that her favorite room is her dressing room…which I can fully understand, by the way. What girl wouldn’t love it?

The pictures were great, but one thing caught my eye. It was the stunning four painting display on one wall, of a tree against a red, sunset like background. When I told her that it was beautiful, she said a simple, “Thanks, I painted those in high school.” Well, I about fell over. They are, as I said, stunning. Lacey is just so talented. Lacey’s sister, Michelle is going to art school, and I think Lacey should have gone too. I told Lacey that she needs to start selling her work. I think she would be quite successful at it. She is such a natural artist.

I think everyone has a natural talent for something. Lacey, like her mom, my sister, Alena Stevens is a very good cosmetologist, but like her sister, Michelle, she also inherited a natural talent for art. My mom, Collene Spencer is a pretty good artist too, and these girls must have inherited their talent from her or from someone Lacey's painting 3Lacey's painting 1on the Stevens side, but I can tell you that they did not get it from me, because I find stick figures to be a real challenge. Wherever her talent came from, Lacey is an artist in her own right. She just doesn’t pat herself on the back, but I think maybe she should. Of course, she won’t do it, because that’s just not Lacey’s way. Today is Lacey’s birthday. Lacey, your new place is absolutely beautiful. Happy birthday Lacey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Chantel todayOur family has several artists in it. Each has a different style. My niece, Chantel Harmon Balcerzak is a wonderful writer, but she is also a very talented artist. Chantel’s art is often done on some of the most unusual canvases. A while back, she painted my mailbox. It now has beautiful vines and flowers on it, and I have received a number of compliments on it. When was the last time someone commented on how pretty your mailbox was? A while, I’ll bet…if ever. The mailbox is not usually something people take note of at all. But, this kind of thing has always been Chantel’s forte. She loves decorating her home, and she has a great talent for it too. And on this  occasion, I got to benefit from her talents, and I truly do have the kind of mailbox that gets noticed.

Chantel has never been much of a computer buff, but recently her family talked her into getting a Facebook, and suddenly she seems to like being on there…even though she said she probably wouldn’t do much on there. We gotcha there, Chantel!! She has recently quit her job in the hospitality industry, and has decided that it is time to work on her writing and on selling some of her art, so having a presence on Facebook and other social media sites has become much more necessary. That said, Chantel did get an online store called Treasure Within, where she can display her beautiful work. I especially like her art on old wood. She has a unique way of giving that old wood a new chance to be beautiful.

Chantel has always been a cute and teeny girl, and as she has grown into womanhood and motherhood, that hasn’t changed. She is still a cute and teeny girl of 4’10” and yet living Find Serenity In Faithinside her is such an incredibly big amount of talent. I am very proud that she is taking on this new journey. I truly believe that she will find success in this venture, just as she has in every other area of her life. It is a big step to quit the job you have held for so long, but sometimes, you have to take that first big, scary step, simply because to do anything else is to turn your back on your dreams. Chantel has always had the dream of being an author, and an artist, and I know she can do it, because she is also a very determined woman, who knows how to make dreams come true. She is a Treasure Within our family. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Raelynn and Audrianna It’s funny sometimes how a child can take on the personality of their aunt, or even great aunt. Such is the case with my grand niece, Raelynn, who is so like my sister, Allyn in that both of them figured out a way to avoid most spankings…without even trying!! When my niece, Dustie told me that a stern look can make Raelynn cry, I thought back to when Allyn was a little girl. When I asked why Allyn hardly ever got spankings, Mom said that it was because just a stern look made her cry. I guess Allyn and Raelynn have both decided to do their best to be good so no one looks at the in a stern way. Hmmm, maybe that wouldn’t have been such a bad idea…wish I had thought of that. One thing, Raelynn…I don’t think you will be able to avoid today’s spankings, because as we all know, birthday spankings are sort of a tradition. Sorry about that…Not!!

Raelynn takes after her cousin, Michelle too, in that she loves art. There are a few artists in ourChristmas 2012 family…I am not one of them, unless you call photography art. I am getting pretty good at that…since the camera does all the work. An artist, however…a true artist, I’m not. We will see where things go for Raelynn. She has been encouraged to explore her artistic side and even has an art desk to produce her art on, and true to form for artists, can often be found sitting at her art desk, humming a tune with paint on her face.

Raelynn is also very much a girly girl, and loves to dress up. I so seldom see her in anything but a dress, that it occurs to me that I don’t even remember the last time. That characteristic, she just might get from me. I love dresses, and almost always wear them to work and church, but Raelynn wears them all the time. I guess she is quite a bit more girly girl than I am. Even when she is wearing pants, most often in the winter, she manages to have the look of a girly girl…even when her brother and sisters are goofing off…Raelynn manages to look all girl and no goof.

Some of Raelynn’s favorite people are her uncles. They and her cousin’s husbands are the Uncle Dave and Raelynnpeople she likes to go and dance with or just sit and talk to. She is very social and likes to butterfly around to everyone to talk and socialize, and of course, dancing is a big part of that. At her cousin’s wedding, Raelynn grabbed her Uncle Dave several times and they twirled around the dance floor. Of course, her all time favorite dance was the one her daddy, my nephew Rob took her to earlier this year. There is just nothing more special to a girly girl that a father/daughter dance. In reality, many of Raelynn’s characteristics come from a lot of us. I guess she is just one of the family. Today is Raelynn’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! We love you!!  Have a great day!!

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