My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg has always been a hard-working career woman…or at least all of her adult life. Brenda started working at American National Bank right out of high school and has been in banking ever since. These days and for many years now, she is in human resources at Hilltop National Bank, and I’m pretty sure the place would fall apart without her. In fact, during Covid and even before that, when Brenda was in the hospital, they went way out of their way to get work to her so she could do what only she could do. During Covid, before it was decided that with a note, essential workers could go to work, the bank got a computer for her to have at home so that her vital work could continue.
One might think that Human Resources would only entail hiring and firings, but there is much more to it, at Hilltop National Bank anyway. One might also think that banking is an 8 to 5 job, but not in Human Resources at Hilltop National Bank. Part of what Brenda does…a big part of what she does, is payroll and tax prep for the bank and many other businesses too. Payroll and taxes wait for no man, and so Brenda often ends up working for 8:00am to 10:00pm. Yes, Brenda works too hard, but nobody else wants to do that job. They have hired many people with the plan of helping Brenda, but none have lasted very long. It seems that people don’t like those long hours. Go figure!!
Another part of Brenda’s job, and the one that is causing her to work lots of hours right now, is when the bank has a software conversion. You might think that only happens once in ten years or so, and you might be right, but it sure seems like it happens more often than that. I can personally recall several software conversions Brenda has been a part of, and I don’t work with her. Most of us think of a software update, and it’s usually a simple download, that is over in a few minutes or an hour, and then everything is updated and finished, but that is not how these updates work. A bank has many complicated systems, and with security issues these days, they have to keep things safe and up to date for their customers. Hacking is a big issue, and customers demand that the bank protect their money, and rightfully so. That means that the bank has to be up to date on all aspects of security, as well as allowing the customer to have safe access to their money. Brenda is always a part of that process, and the bank depends on that. I still have no idea what they are going to do when she decides to retire. I guess time will tell. They will have to figure it out someday. Today is Brenda’s 60th birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Dave Balcerzak has had a busy, but somewhat trying year. It seems like it’s been one project after another and trying to stay ahead of it can be stressful. Last summer his car became the project, and then came his truck, and some more needed repairs. While Dave didn’t do the work alone and didn’t do any of the work on the truck, there is always cost involved, not to mention the stress that vehicle maintenance can bring.
In addition to the vehicle work, Dave and his wife, my niece, Chantel Balcerzak, have been doing some projects around the house. They did some beautiful work in their kitchen and family room, and then did some beautiful work in their back yard, which was finished just in time for their daughter and son-in-law, Siara and Chris Kirk’s wedding on July 23rd. While the whole thing turned out amazing, but they felt rushed to get it done in time for the ceremony. While, these kinds of projects can be stressful, and at times irritating and even a cause for arguments, they are done now and done exactly to their dream specifications. Chantel says they feel very blessed by the finished results and in awe because neither of them seem to know how they actually managed to get it done. I haven’t seen the back yard “in person.” I’ve seen pictures, and I think their “dream specifications” are amazing. Chris and Siara’s wedding was beautiful and an enjoyable occasion for everyone who was there.
Dave is the kind of husband and dad, who loves his blended family deeply, and he has chosen to be a great dad to all of them…Keifer (Katie) Balcerzak, Katy (Dylan) Herr, Jake (Melanie) Harman, and Siara (Chris) Kirk…as well as grandchildren, Alice Green, Izabella Harman, Jaxx Harman, Reece Balcerzak, Aysa Balcerzak, Max Herr, and Alec Olsen (now in Heaven, and greatly missed). Dave is so dedicated to his family, and for Chantel’s kids, he is definitely the dad that “he didn’t have to be” but chose to be. Dave is a cheerful kind of man and loves to laugh. He tends to make everything fun when he is around. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. In fact, he’s a big teddy bear…just ask those grandbabies.
Dave works on computers by trade, and he is my go-to guy whenever my computer is having an issue. It’s nice to have someone in the family that has that skill. It saves us a lot of money, and I’d much rather pay family to work on my stuff than to pay anyone else. Of course, the guy has to be good at what he does, which Dave is. It’s always nice to have a family network of people who can help people. Being a blessing to one another is a great way to be that blessing, and Dave is just that. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grand nephew, Ethan Hadlock is all of 12 years old, but he is already growing like a weed. Every time I see him, it seems he has grown several inches. Like most boys, Ethan is very excited about his growth spurts, most of which made him taller than some of the women in the family. At 12 years old, Ethan has passed his cousin Liz Masterson, and the next growth spurt will find him passing me…he is only half an inch shorter than I am now. I am fighting a losing battle, if I think I will be taller that Ethan for very long, but it’s ok. In reality, I knew he would get taller than me, because he is a boy who will be a man, and he comes from a tall family. Ethan’s grandpa, Chris Hadlock is 6’4″ and his dad, Ryan Hadlock is 6’3″. Ethan is projected to pass both his dad and his grandpa. It is expected that Ethan will be 6’5″, so he will very likely be the tallest person in our family. Time will tell, I guess.
Ethan, like many young people is very computer-minded. Ethan has discovered coding, and he really likes it. I can relate to that. I like computers and to a small degree coding, but Ethan really likes it. He is thinking about starting a programming/gaming business with his best friends Sam and Carter…at 12 years old. The truly amazing thing is that he would not be alone in starting a business at just twelve years old. There have been others who have done the same thing and ended up being very successful. Ethan played some sports in the past, but he has decided that sports are not very important to play anymore. Ethan would rather build robots and small computers instead. Like most students who love computer programming, Ethan understands the need and value of a good education, and he very much loves school. He is an excellent student, and works very hard at his studies.
Ethan is a sweet young man with a tender heart. Many kids, especially boys, don’t show emotions much, especially to their aunts, great aunts, and elders in general, but Ethan is an exception to that “rule.” Every time I see him, he is quick to come to tell me hello, and give me a hug. He always makes sure that I feel loved and respected. What a wonderful young man he is. I love his tender heart. He is loyal to his family, especially his grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, and his little sister, Aurora. He is growing into an exceptional young man, and he makes us all proud. Today is Ethan’s 12th birthday. Happy birthday Ethan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My grand-nephew, Keifer Balcerzak has been in our family since his dad, Dave married my niece, Chantel in 2002. In that time I have watched him grow from young teenaged boy of 14 years, to a great husband and father. In 2015, Keifer married his long-time girlfriend, Katie, and then just before Christmas of 2017, Keifer and Katie welcomed their daughter, Reece, who arrived far earlier than she was supposed to and gave everyone a scare…especially her parents. With Reece’s arrival, everything changed for Keifer and Katie. Yes, babies change things, but having a baby that must also fight for her life is something that most of us don’t go through, and if you weren’t grown up before that time, you definitely grew up then. Watching your child struggle to grow and catch up to where she should have been when she was born is very hard. Keifer and Katie learned to lean on and depend on each other. They showed what they were made of. There strength was amazing to watch. Today, their family is intact. Reece is a growing and soon-to-be two year old girl.
Keifer has always been Dave’s mini-me, although he is no longer shorter than his dad. Nevertheless, in personality, looks, and pretty much every other way, Keifer and his dad are two of a kind. They are both very strong family men. They love their families with their whole being. When these two commit to something, they stay committed. They are very loyal to family and friends, and they have a giving heart. They are also good friends, a perk that comes later in life when the parenting skills were strong and in place. It is the reward for good parenting. I know that Keifer and Katie will have the same reward when their daughter and their future children grow up. Of course, the greatest parenting skill is love, and they have that, for sure.
Keifer inherited his dad’s talent with tech stuff too. They both have the ability to fix and program just about anything technical. Computers are their forte, and they know them inside and out. They can build them or fix them. They both have kind hearts that lead them to help others whenever they are able. The qualities that Keifer and his dad have endear them to those around them. Today is Keifer’s birthday. Happy birthday Keifer!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My nephew, Dave Balcerzak is a gifted computer programmer, and has helped many people with their computer issues, including me. I think the most awesome thing he has done is to rebuild old computers so that he can give them people who have a need for a computer, but cannot afford one. It is a noble thing to do, and very typical of Dave. He is a kind-hearted man, who wants to be able to help people in anyway that he can, and thankfully he has talents that allow him to be able to help a lot of people.
My niece, Chantel Balcerzak first met her now husband, Dave when they were kids in elementary school. She liked him immediately, and really never forgot him completely. Nevertheless, they both went their separate ways, and each married other people. After a number of years, families for both, and failed marriages, they met again, and it was like they were never apart. They were both free to marry now, so they did, and they created a blended family. Dave brought his two children, Keifer and Katy to the marriage, and Chantel brought her two living children, Jake and Siara to the marriage. Chantel also brought the memory of her angel baby, Alyssa, who Dave had never met, but because she belonged to Chantel, he loved her as much as any of the children…because that is the kind of man Dave is. Dave and Chantel have been blessed with three grandchildren, Izabella and Jaxx Harman, and Reece Balcerzak. They also have a bonus granddaughter, Alice Green, with whom Dave shares a birthday. And they have a grandson on the way. When I say that Dave has been blessed, I say that because I believe that Dave’s kindness and loving ways, have given him the reward of so many blessings.
Dave has been given one more blessing, and it is one that is of the type that is near to my heart…his heart. Dave developed so heart issues, that at one point caused him to have a stroke, which was caught by a CNA, while he was in the hospital. Her quick action left Dave with no lasting damage from the stroke. His heart, however, still needed some work. As the wedding of their daughter, Siara was coming and Dave was to walk her down the aisle, he worried that he would not be able to do so, but God had another plan. An interesting procedure fixed his heart, and the man who had been only able to take a few steps without being out of breath, was able to walk Siara down the aisle. He is still healthy and very blessed indeed. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! 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!!
April Fools Day…a day of shenanigans. As children, we made up simple tricks, that didn’t fool our parents, and might not have even fooled our siblings. I remember telling my sisters that there was a spider in their hair, or some such silliness. That worked for a short time, but then you have to get creative. Things like switching the salt and sugar became common jokes to us. Eventually, we learned to taste a little bit, before we used it liberally on our food…yuck!!
As we get older, we have to get far more creative with our shenanigans, because lets face it, adults aren’t going to go for the spider in your hair gag. They know what day it is too. April Fools Day pranks have to be carefully planned out, and they have to be such that they do no harm, because that would not be what it is all about. Of course, there could always be the unplanned, unforeseen problem with reversing the prank, that could backfire, but hopefully the people you prank are good sports about things, who know that it could have happened to them too.
It would seem that some of the best pranks these days are tech pranks. There are a variety of ways to “mess with” someone’s computer, making them think that it has gone crazy. A simple placement of tape over the mouse sensor will make the computer appear frozen. You can change the language on the computer too, but as I found out from personal experience, this can be difficult to reverse, if you change it to a language you can’t read…yikes!! I think my personal favorite is to flip the screen, so that everything is upside down. And that one is simple to reverse, so no harm…no foul. Of course, there are many low tech ways to “mess with” a computer too, like covering it and everything else in the office in newspaper, or filling the room with balloons, so that the only way in is to pop them. I think office pranks are a natural way to expand your prank playing game into new vistas. Plus, they are really fun when the people you prank are just stunned. Happy April Fools Day everyone!! The day to prank or be pranked. Let the fun begin.
These days, lots of people have considered living off the grid. It’s almost the latest thing. Most of them really just want to do away with the bills that go along with being on the grid…water, electric, gas etc, but some of them are really wanting to lead a disconnected life. They want to shut off the phone, television, and computer, and just enjoy nature. To me, that sounds like fun for about a day…but then I am more a child of the age of technology than even my kids and grandkids are sometimes, and that’s saying something, because they are technological people, in one way or another. I have to wonder how the off the grid people would feel about it, if they had been Shoichi Yokoi.
At this point, I’m sure that you are wondering who Shoichi Yokoi is and what was going on with him that made him such an off the grid type, so I’ll tell you. Shoichi Yokoi was a Japanese sergeant, from World War II. Shoichi was stationed on Guam, which had become a United States territory in 1898. In 1941, during World War II, the Japanese attacked Guam and captured it. The 200 square mile island, located in the western Pacific Ocean remained in Japanese Hands for three years. Then, the United States attacked and retook the island. As the Japanese forces retreated and surrendered, Yokoi made the decision not to surrender, and he went into hiding in the Jungle. He dug a tunnel, that would be his home while he was in hiding. Yokoi, who had been a tailor’s apprentice before being drafted in 1941, made clothing from the fibers of wild hibiscus plants and survived on a diet of coconuts, breadfruit, papayas, snails, eels and rats. “We Japanese soldiers were told to prefer death to the disgrace of getting captured alive.” While living in the jungle, Yokoi carved survival tools and for the next three decades waited for the return of the Japanese and his next orders…three decades!!!
Somehow, this man was so far off the grid that he had no idea what was going on in the world for almost three decades, and he assumed that World War II was still going on. He spoke to no one. He hid from anyone who might have come near him. Then, he slipped up…a good thing, as it would turn out to be. After 28 years of hiding in the jungles of Guam, local farmers discovered Shoichi Yokoi hiding in the jungle. I’m sure he was totally shocked to find out that he was the only one in the world still fighting World War II!! After he was discovered on January 24, 1972, he was finally discharged and sent home to Japan, where he was hailed as a national hero. I guess Shoichi must have grown to love Guam, because when he married, he and his new bride returned to Guam for their honeymoon. Shoichi went on to live a long life, and passed away on September 22, 1997 at the age of 82. The people of Guam and the governments of the United States and Japan must have though that his story was so amazing that his handcrafted survival tools and threadbare uniform are now on display in the Guam Museum in Agana. Shoichi might have been an enemy of the United States, but I can’t help but think that he must have been a very faithful soldier, to have held out that long.
My nephew, Dave Balcerzak, who is married to my niece, Chantel has been staying pretty busy these days. Recently the family moved from the home Dave and Chantel had lived in since their marriage, into a new and very nice home. Since that move, they have been very busy getting settled. That said, I’m sure that Chantel has had Dave working pretty hard to get everything set up. Now I don’t know how much of the decorating Dave has helped with, but then, Chantel wouldn’t really need much help with that, because she is a master of design. But, Dave is a big strong guy, so all the heavy lifting is likely done by him, with the help of some of the other men in their family.
The majority of the basement of their home has been designated as Dave’s Man Cave. I know that a Man Cave is the latest thing, and that lots of guys have them, but…well maybe I live in isolation, because I don’t know anyone who really has one…until now. I’m sure that is going to make Dave the guy to be envied. The closest thing most of our husbands have to a Man Cave, is the garage. For that reason, Dave can feel very special, but then I think we all knew he was special before that.
When Dave and Chantel got married, they each had two children, and as many people know, raising a step child is a bit tricky. Nevertheless, Dave stepped into that role and loved Chantel’s children, Jake and Siara Harman as much as he did his own children, Kiefer and Katy. Dave was such a good dad, that he earned the name Dad, which was bestowed on him by Chantel’s children. Jake and Siara both say the name with as much love as kids would their own dad. You just don’t get that love and respect from step children, unless you are a very special person. Dave has proven himself to be that kind of man, and that has proven to be the greatest blessing Chantel and her children could have ever been given.
Dave’s talents don’t stop there though. With his computer degree, we gained a go to person for all of our computer issues. His heart of gold, has prompted him to help family, but even more to help those who can’t afford a computer, by giving them one he had refurbished…at his own cost. Dave has just always had the heart of a giver. He wants everyone to be as blessed as he has been, and if he can facilitate that, then its a great day for him. That is a man who loves helping people.
As I think about his Man Cave, and really how excited he is about it, I feel very excited for him, because sometimes things just couldn’t happen to a nicer guy, or in a better way than they do. This house just sort of fell into their laps at the perfect time, and now, they are thoroughly enjoying it and all it has to offer. I’m so happy for them. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
She got it from her grandma, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg…that ability to go shopping for hours on end, looking for a bargain here and there. My daughter, Corrie Petersen is what many people would call a shopaholic, but what Corrie has on her grandmother speaks volumes. My mother-in-law looked through all the different sales flyers from the newspaper, as does my daughter, but Corrie has taken couponing to the highest level there is. When Corrie goes to the grocery store, she is able to buy $100.00 worth of groceries, and come out of there with the store owing her money. Who does that? Not many people. Not me for sure.
Now granted, my mother-in-law didn’t have a computer, and she wouldn’t know how to run one if she had. The internet has made a huge difference in all that Corrie has been able to accomplish. Nevertheless, to get to the level of couponing that Corrie has reached, took a lot of hard work and diligence, and that is where Corrie shines. Corrie is very skilled on the computer, and knows where to look for great couponing sites, and she takes the time to search out the coupons that go with the sales that create the overage of discounts that create a situation in which the store owes her money for shopping. It’s an amazing feat, and one that makes me very proud of her.
Corrie has always been a stubborn woman…that part she gets from her mom, and once she puts her mind to something, she will not be moved off of her plan. She has the perseverance to stick to it, and that is why she succeeds. We, her family, might tease her and laugh about the long shopping trips she makes, but in all reality, we all wish we had the system in place that she does, because she has accomplished so much…gone so far beyond what we have done with the one or two coupons we manage to clip from the newspaper.
There is however, a part of Corrie that comes from her great grandmother, Nettie Knox…and that would be her birthday. Corrie not only made my husband’s grandparents Bob and Nettie great grandparents on this day 40 years ago, but she gave her great grandmother the best birthday present a grandmother could ever receive. Over the years, they always celebrated their birthdays together, and the bond between them grew quite strong. I think one of the hardest days of Corrie’s life was when her dear great grandma passed away. There are still times she has trouble talking about her without shedding a tear or two. It was such a beautiful bond, and such a beautiful tradition, and one I was very sorry to see end. Happy 40th birthday to my beautigul daughter, Corrie, and happy birthday in Heaven to her sweet great grandmother, Nettie!! Two beautiful ladies. Corrie, have a great day!! We love you very much!!