Sunday, June 26, 2016

2016 Week 25: This is the life!

P.S. to Week 24:
When I signed off a week ago I was about to go to a wedding.
I arrived 10 or 15 minutes early just as the bride was trying to sneak in unnoticed.

"Just get me to the church on time. . ."
The lovely Mary Katherine was one of Mike's most advanced pottery students some years ago when she was in high school. He would have loved to witness this beautiful event, but instead was in Ohio at a robotics competition, being celebrated with the Mentor of the Year Award!

You can read the essay his students wrote that won him this notable recognition: CORI Invitational Robotics Competition

Week 25:
Sunday Michael welcomed two little guys who were going to spend a couple days with us while dad and mom went on an anniversary getaway.
When I came back from Sunday School I found this beautiful bouquet on the table. My photo does not do it justice.

 Zion and grandpa were playing backgammon. Jude wanted me to read his favorite books immediately! We kept busy both days. I managed a few photos to help remember some of the activities, but there were many more memory-making moments (even if I forget what they were ;-).

Looking up at the seat where grandpa waits for the deer during hunting season

Monday morning: drawing, climbing, watching grandma water the plants, before breakfast
(Note: Jude wanted to have one pencil ready behind his ear.)
Grandpa made his special GF pancakes and the boys stayed in their pajamas all morning until noon, when we went to the new Chick-fil-A Express in Taylor's new student center.

Mid afternoon I took the boys to play with Rebecca in her big new yard.
Kayla is enjoying the surprise of beautiful flowers she did not have to plant.

Kayla and I took the young'uns to the Gas City park where they fed the animals and tried out every challenge on the playground.

Michael makes good use of the good weather and whatever time is available to do house maintenance. . .

Caught caulking
. . .checking the bees. . .

. . .mowing and much more. However, all that is secondary to robotics.

I try to use the gift of time wisely, becoming more and more intentional about writing our life stories.
My writer friends that I meet with every Friday are a great help, as is my neighbor-friend, Petey.

Mike discovered a patch of ripe wild black raspberries in our woods, so we had a berry-picking date this afternoon!

I need to wrap this up because the Argentina/Chile game is on--the finals of the Copa América Centenario!!! Go Messi!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

2016 Week 24: Quiet or Lazy?

Somehow the week felt unproductive. Maybe not. You decide.

Cherished flowers of the week
A big surprise Sunday morning when we arrived at church: Josu, a friend from the Basque Country had come to attend the wedding of his American brother. We got to meet his girlfriend, Laura!

We were invited to join the Basque friends, former host families, at a lunch where Josu caught us up on his life and their plans.

We had one last robotics-graduate open-house in the afternoon, and enjoyed a delightful tandem ride in the evening.

Looks like I had DMD (decision-making-disorder)! Which would you choose?

Monday night Stephan filled us in on his intense week at Advanced Timber Framing workshop--hard work and difficult math.

It was a quiet week for me, with no appointments, only the usual daily exercise opportunities and writing goals.

Michael, on the other hand, seems to maintain a very full schedule, moving forward on several fronts, and always finding time for a bike ride.

Friday was the opening of the Farmers' Market, always a fun event.

And look who I met there wearing her new sun hat and holding a new toy!

Kayla posted this photo of Rebecca with her favorite purchase from the yard sale--a little wagon to pull all her stuffed animals.

 Today, Saturday, Mike and the team are in Ohio. I am watching the competition intently online, and trying to be productive at the same time, as in writing this blog.

The invitation and the "Squaring-off" photo Mike posted on Facebook
Just now, despite my screams (and prayers), PhyXTGears lost the semi-final tiebreaker and will not go on to finals.

Some other multitasking I do: knit while we watch TV in the evening; listen to audio books or podcasts as I do mindless tasks like weeding, cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc.; and coloring during Win's music show.

And, now I must get ready to go to a wedding, and spend the rest of the evening, late night, waiting for Michael to get back from Ohio.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

2016 Week 23: Summer Joys

So, I've succumbed to the adult coloring trend! Yes, I whiled away an hour while listening to former colleague Win Corduan's gig on (Thursdays 9-10 pm).

Last weekend we attended several graduation open houses. One home was in a park-like setting. A friend and I walked the grounds admiring the beauty of the landscape. We were curious about this lovely plant. What is it?

 Monday morning this sleeping beauty was dropped off  while mom went to her first summer dance classes.

After her long nap, Rebecca made up for lost time and made sure I got plenty of exercise.

We had a nice group at Monday dinner, great food, and lots of fun sharing stories.
On the way home, this time of year, we enjoy gorgeous sunsets.

 Messi Elijah spent three days with us to attend the Fun in the Sun program at our church.
One evening he played ping pong with Grandpa and Tuesday, when Mike was at robotics, he and I played Hand and Foot and ate thin mints!

Michael lives a very full life. He is still working on the design for the new space the PhyXTGears team hopes to move to late summer. There are always the regular chores: mowing; feeding the birds; checking on the bees; trying to catch the coons that visit and vandalize almost every night. (Notice the $1 contraption to coon-proof the bird feeders.)

Even so, he is never too busy to enjoy a bicycle ride. The longest so far was almost 40 miles.

This was an intense week for Matt and Kayla both working and settling into their new home.

We went over Friday evening to celebrate Matt's birthday and by then they had made unbelievable progress.

We remembered that exactly five years ago was the day of our house-fire which totally preempted Matt's birthday celebration.

Today, Saturday, was the Upland Strawberry Festival. I volunteered for a couple hours in the strawberry shortcake line, responsible for serving the unsweetened/natural/no sugar/healthy berries. Try as I may, using every possible sales pitch, most customers preferred the sweetened ones.

Look who showed up for a strawberry dessert! But, alas, they too, chose the sweetened variety. (sigh)

We had a beautiful sunny day for this popular community event, enjoyed meeting and talking to many friends and acquaintances, and listened to great music.

Monday, June 6, 2016

2016 Week 22: Memorable events!

Sunday was the 100th running of the Indy 500, a sold-out event, with a memorable finish, televised live! Mike and Stephan followed it with interest. Karen and I off and on.

That evening Matt and Kayla moved in here temporarily. They had worked so hard to vacate and clean the rental they had been in for several months. After Rebecca was asleep for the night, Kayla went back to finish cleaning.

Memorial Day, Matt was up and off to work at 3:30 a.m.! As a millwright he often has to work holidays to repair machinery when not in use.
I picked up Diane and we stopped by the cemetary. She had forgotten about her grave marker already set up next to her mother's. I was surprised to realize that Mother Doese has been gone 12 years already and in August she would have been 100!

 Later, most others came over for a cookout and family fun.

This week I enjoyed many sweet abuela moments. Yes, we're trying to have Rebecca call me grandma in Spanish. There have been times when we thought she said abuela.

Yoga with Mama

We watched the birds, and the antics of other creatures attempting to eat the bird seed. At night we could hear the ruckus of coons and sometimes see them attacking the feeders. Then we'd send Lily, Kayla's dog, out to chase them. However, when she saw a deer for the first time, she just stared.

A couple of evenings, after a more normal work schedule for Matt, we enjoyed playing Hand & Foot.
I had my worst luck ever when I got caught with FOUR red 3's (-500 each) amid the stack that already counted against me.

When they first came, Matt and Kayla, did not know how long they'd have to wait to be able to close on the house. What had seemed like a setback, even a probable roadblock, worked toward their advantage in the end. Friday was closing day!

Then the work began! They painted the walls in two days and moved in today, Sunday! Tomorrow they both go back to work.

Michael has been intensely focused on designing the new home for the robotics team--8,000 square feet in the GearBox. The sooner they determine the layout, the sooner the space will be built and ready for them to move in.
But, of course, that was not his only occupation. He finished making a house for bees to move into as they multiply.

We have also attended many open houses for graduates from our church community or the robotics team.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

2016 Week 21: New beginnings

It has been a week of settling into new summer-break routines--resuming regular exercise opportunities and working on daily writing goals.

Monday, on my way up to the studio where we have our tap class, I noticed one beautiful big amapola (poppy). By Friday, there were several.

The same day, Michael invited me on a tandem ride! Couldn't turn that one down! The last time was a year ago. We didn't go very far, but his leg pain returned so no more tandeming that entire season.

This time we had a perfect pain-free ride and began to entertain the possibility of another tandem vacation this summer. We've done that at least five times, the last time was in August of 2013 to Northern Michigan and Mackinac Island.

On the first leg of a tandem-only circuit trip in 2008
I don't think we will ever attempt the tandem-only camping like eight years ago.

Tuesday, a thirty-minute drive to town for my every-six-weeks hair appointment, even though my lovely hair dresser lives across the road from us!

Wednesday, last year's walking friends got together for our first walk of the season. We admired the finished building at Taylor, stopped by one of the ladie's home on the way, and ended up at the coffee shop.

 Can you guess which pastry was most tempting?

At the senior's lunch there was a Remembrance Table. Do you know what each item symbolizes?

 Thursday, May 26th, Michael caught up with me in age! We're not big on celebrating our birthdays so, of course, he wouldn't miss a regular robotics work evening. I surprised him with his favorite dessert, a blitz torte, and his adoring student-fans brought cupcakes and ice cream. There were only a few present. The others don't know what they missed!

For days he's been making a special "bee house" so they have a place to go when they begin to multiply and swarm. He put together some 34 frames ready for the honey bees to build their combs.

He is much like the bees, always busy and productive!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016 Week 20: A Quieter Week

The weather is lovely right now. I enjoyed a nap out on the deck this afternoon.

Mike is out riding his bike as I write, and has been able to get out regularly this week for 20 miles each time.

It was a quieter week for me, maybe not so much for Michael who is a an example of diligence and is involved in a variety of endeavors that keep him going all the time. Sorry not many photos to prove it.

It was my birthday week. Cards and very meaningul greetings arrived daily.

The highlight for me was a birthday breakfast, Wednesday, with four friends. I invited those who knew me the best and asked for their wisdom for the future. 
With each passing year I am more aware of the urgency to wisely live out the remainder. The admonition from Hebrews 12:1 stood out to me: "let us lay aside every weight..." and "run with endurance the race that lies before us". We talked about our cultural abundance that can become a burden, the many distractions of life; the importance of determining what our priorities should be and pursuing them. Not only concrete stuff, like clutter, deter us from purposeful pursuits, but also emotions and attitudes, such as worry, fear, anger, etc. 
I treasure the time we spent together, the memories we shared, and the lessons I take with me into the new year. Thank you, dear friends!

The next day, we had a delightful little visit with Kayla and Rebecca who stocked up on boxes from our attic to help pack up their household in readiness for their move, hopefully into their own home soon.

Muncie's Moonlight Movies kicked off Saturday and Team 1720 was invited to entertain the crowds before the showing of Big Hero 6. Their ads stated: "check out what the PhyXTgear Robotics Team has been up to this year."
Sir Minus (the alternate robot) was busy pulling wagon-loads of kids around with the help sometimes of Mike on the segway, when he became overheated. Sir Plus stayed home. With four competitions left this year, he can't risk being damaged or overworked. 
Team members were busy in a variety of ways promoting the team, entertaining. Moriah was interviewed live by radio station Star 106.9. And the event announcer repeatedly referred to the fact that this team is ranked 37th among thousands!

Movie Night @ Canan Commons

Tis the season for graduations, open houses, bridal showers, and then weddings.
What are your seasonal activities?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

2016 Week 19: Annual Celebrations

I discovered  this lovely columbine in a hidden place, and almost missed the humble and fragrant lilies of the valley.

Flowers of the week

So many yearly events come together in May--Mother's Day, proms, graduations, bridal showers, end-of-year party, medical and dental checkups, birthdays.

The week began with Mother's Day greetings--phone calls, lovely cards, sweet and moving words-- that help to erase the memories of past failures.

Leah's gift of three more little turtles add to the "Koch turtle family." Can you match them with the grandsons they represent? Below, a five-year-old photo to help you. Wish you could see the fine details on each one.

Malachi and Lexi's prom photo this week may give you another clue.

Tuesday I turned in semester grades and Wednesday evening attended the pinning ceremony for the ASAP students. There I met some of the family members and befriended a six-year-old little brother who invited me to sit with him and because we both have May birthdays, he asked me to come to his party next year!

Friday we had a delightful though brief visit from our friends from way back, reminiscing about our early days together in Vienna, Austria, and even before that in Germany where they were married. Many more long-forgotten memories have surfaced as we read their recently published memoir Stones of Remembrance: Mapping God's Faithfulness through 46 Years--the most recent book in Mike's car for me to read aloud whenever we go somewhere together.

Dave and Brenda examining Stephan's sculptured tree that tells the story of our life.

The week's big deadline to work toward was "Mike's Party"--the robotics team end-of-year celebration. Yard and house required a lot of attention having been neglected for a time.

Kayla came for a little visit and seeing that I could use some help, offered to rake out the flower bed which lay protected by leaves for the winter.
Rebecca played contentedly with her toys and clapped for Mamma every time she revved up the leaf blower.

Then I planted the annuals in window boxes and elsewhere in the flower patch.

Saturday morning Kayla texted that she was on her way to help again! It was a rainy cold day so we tackled the inside of the house. She saved the day! Everything was in order by the time the crowd began to arrive. By late evening there must have been some fifty people coming in and out. The young folk playing with nerf guns, swinging around the tree, playing card games or chess. The adults chatting, catching up on one another's lives. Then there was the FOOD, as always super abundant.

My favorite part of the evening was the sharing at the end--a look back over the opportunities and blessings of the year and the open doors for the future!

Believe me, I took many more photos, just don't want to bore you with them.

I knew we'd have plenty of leftovers so why not invite the family over on Sunday with the excuse to celebrate May birthdays. I've heard that it saves time and effort to have piggy-back parties.
Again, I have way too many photos. Here are just a few.

What's everyone looking at?

The young'uns bring us much joy.

Can you guess what our main entertainment was?