Sunday, January 15, 2017

2017 Week 2: Firsts

Last weekend, in addition to the exciting FIRST Kickoff, I was thrilled to hear later that our son Sam and many friends were able to give the skateboarding bowl new life. (These are NOT my photos. Thank you Facebook, Seth and Sam for sharing.)
I am intrigued by the Spanish writing, still trying to figure out what the person meant.

Hard at work resurfacing the bowl

Before and After

 The LIFE Bowl montage proves that they were able to have great fun after the hard work! (Again, I don't know who to credit for the video.)

Sam has been passionate about skateboarding ever since I can remember. He posted this old photo yesterday.

Cleaning out the shop found this photo @mycoman took of me doing a heel flip in 94 
 All of the above takes on extra special meaning as we've been reminded almost every day this week of what was happening three years ago and how he came through a very serious health crises. We thank God for restoring Sam to our family.

A second article about the PhyXTGears robotics team came out in Sunday's Muncie Star Press.
One of the photos featured the lead mentor doing what he loves.

The first week of the 2017 FIRST build season had its serious relational challenges--how to agree on strategies to prioritize and how to achieve them. I believe the worst is over and now the minds are working non-stop on coming up with the best design. They have three team work days--Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Now for some photos of my own!

Tuesday was a good day to travel to Winona Lake. After my last visit a couple weeks ago, Mother fell and has been fighting an infection in her leg. Kim or Ivan had been checking on her daily and changing the dressing on her wound. So I got to visit with them and have some of their wonderful sopa toscana.

Mother wanted me to help her work on a new door decoration to replace the Christmas wreath.
This is what we put together.

The next day I had to leave after breakfast and be back in time to practice with the Tapping Divas and then perform our two numbers for the weekly lunch crowd at the senior center.
Mike took a few pictures. Not our best performance, but we had fun.

New York, New York 
This is my favorite photo of the week: grandson Skye and I worked on a sudoku puzzle while enjoying a Payne's custard dessert, after our post-Christmas shopping trip.

I was excited to see my article in the town newspaper!

I wrote it last Saturday, after the Kickoff, to make our town aware of the program and introduce the five team members from Upland.

This Saturday, while Mike was gone all day having fun with kids and robot parts, I had the gift of time, so I focused on cleaning house, not my favorite, but I got'r done!

P.S.: About Mother--shortly ofter my visit this week, she ended up in the hospital for observation of the infected leg wound and to regulate potassium and Coumadin levels. She is supposed to be released tomorrow, Monday.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2017 Week 1: A New Year, A New Game

 Enjoying a new candle in yet another unique Klaytivity piece.

 Looking out on a new day and new year, asking questions such as:
--What should I keep on doing?
--What should I change?
These Scriptures come to mind:
--I Thessalonians 4:1c ". . . just as you are doing, that you do so more and more."
   and 5:11 "encourage one another and build one another up just as you are doing."
--Hebrews 12 1 ". . . lay aside every weight. . ."
Just when I was ready to give up this blog or give it another direction, a friend wrote, "Keep blogging, Rita!" So, because I have not come up with any better ideas, and this has become a habit, here I am for another year.

Michael saw the orthopedic specialist Monday and was encouraged to walk normally, let the pain or discomfort be his guide, use the crutches a little longer to keep from doing anything harmful. He no longer uses them.

Even on crutches Michael never failed to feed the birds.

 However, unintended intruders cleverly find a way to deplete the bird seed.
Should we be feeding the squirrels as well? Would that even deter them?

Wednesday three of the students from the robotic's team wanted to come over and play games. Mike put them to work helping with tasks he was not up to yet, like: taking down the Christmas tree and returning it to the attic and carrying in wood and stacking it in the garage.

Temperatures dropped significantly. Snow arrived one night and with it the snowbirds. 

Thursday, the walking-ladies-who-walk-nomore braved the frigid weather to have a birthdays and Christmas-New Year celebration breakfast. We hope to resume our exercise program in the spring. 

Last Saturday, we welcomed the New Year at the PhyXTGears' new home in the MadJax Maker Force building. 

There was still a lot to do this last week before the BIG DAY--Saturday, January 7th, the beginning of robot design and build season! It begins at the Kickoff event where via simulcast the new game is revealed. The 2017 game is STEAMWORKS.

Let the brainstorming and strategizing begin!

The 2017 Team 1720
Michael has gone into his "cave" and is almost non-stop designing, researching, creating parts and perfecting them.  I expect him to emerge in six weeks. Meanwhile I will try to keep him fed, and happy ;-)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Weeks 51 & 52: Christmas & the Count Down

Another Christmas is over and we prepare to welcome a new year.
The decorations will come down as slowly as they went up.

I worked most of the week preparing the house and gifts for our family gathering on the 24th.

Mike commandeered the kitchen Monday morning to make treats for ALL! (Did you not get yours yet?)

Tuesday, I travelled to Winona Lake for a visit with Mother. We attended a Christmas Tea in the afternoon--many scrumptious goodies and an hour of piano music. Some of us ladies at our table had so much fun trying to recall the lyrics, humming or moving to the Christmas tunes.
Later that evening Ivan and Kim came over for a visit. We talked and talked so much that again I forgto to get a picture.

Wednesday, we went to breakfast in the Grace Village dining room, a first for Mother. And then I left for home.

 Meanwhile, that was the day Michael decided: If we do not get the occupancy permit from the city by the 28th we will have to move back to Morrison Mock. Most of the equipment was already installed at MadJax, the new home of the PhyXTGears, but they could not begin work without this official permission. Build-season is fast approaching, January 7th!

The next day, Thursday, they had the document in hand! What a relief! Now, Michael felt like he could focus on Christmas surprises.

I kept putzin' away. Greetings cards, letters, e-mails (and now Facebook photos and messages!) coming and going--always a treasured feature of the holiday season.

SIL Diane joined us for a few days.

Friday, Kayla's Tapping Divas performed for the residents of the Upland University Nursing Center!
There was quite a crowd. We were all a bit nervous, don't know why, but Mike said we were "more professional than the last time" (whatever that means).

Saturday, Christmas Eve, was our big day.
First the annual brunch at Stephan and Karen's--wonderful food and fellowship with people we don't always get to see.
Then around 4:00 o'clock our Koch family Christmas began. The difference this year was that our kids brought the food--a very abundant and delicious meal!

One of the highlights of the evening was the grandkids portrayal of the angels visit to the shepherds, hilarious and meaningful at the same time! I give you one glimpse in place of the video with the crazy singing and acting!

Lambie Rebecca was told to hold on to her shepherd. She never let go. Skye was our masculine/warrior/type angel. Lexi, Malachi's girfriend, joined in the fun as well.

"Angels we have heard on high . . ." "Hark! . . ."
The young ones bring so much joy (and chaos) to the occasion. So many fun memories . . .but our little princess rules, or at least keeps us running to keep up with her. She carried around the Christmas bears, even had them sitting at the chess table, but later decided to call check mate herself. She also loves to hang abuela's medals (past 5 K's) around her neck, and is thrilled with every little surprise in her Christmas stocking.

Sunday afternoon, after dropping Diane off at her apartment in Marion, Mike and I headed on up North to Shipshewana for a little getaway. We had the hotel to ourselves.

That first evening we were so tired, all we could do was sit and watch Christmas movies, not even knit, read, or anything else! Elf was followed by a very old version of A Christmas Carol. I was struck by the drunk-like giddiness of the transformed old Scrooge. It occurred to me that "Giddy Giving" would make a good title for a short piece describing the many special moments of our family Christmas where I observed such childlike delight not only in receiving but especially in giving. 
Yes, gift-giving was excessive  abundant again this year. Some of us work at the list all year and don't realize until the end how much we've accumulated.  I was reminded of God's extravagant love.

We enjoyed the Amish country mini vacation--the hotel pool, Das Dutchman Essenhaus buffet, window shopping; and a tour of the Menno Hof, museum of the Amish and Mennonite history, Tuesday morning. It was very interesting, but we had to cut it short to get back for robotics' work day--the final move, three trailer loads from the computer/programming room.

Michael's Christmas surprise for me included another mini getaway--dinner theatre and overnight Wednesday in Ohio that would get us back in time for the next work day. He tried so hard and was rushing around to get everything done in time, then the accident! He was bringing the trash bin back as always using his segway up and down our long lane. When he got to the garage and was about to maneuver between the cars, the segway, which had sat idle for a minute or two, stubbornly and fiercely refused to steer, and he crashed and fell hard on his right hip. 
I don't know how he dragged himself into the house, badly shaken. The pain got worse to where he could not walk. So, a change of plans, cancellations, and a trip to the ER. (We'd already seen A Christmas Carol anyway.)

We had a nice little visit from Sam while we waited. He was on his way to a job in Ohio.

The X-rays were negative for broken bones. However, the doctor ordered a CT, which did reveal a deeper inoperable fracture, So, Michael is forced to slow down and is learning to get around on crutches.

Thursday he felt much better, well enough to join Team 1720's work force, sitting down. John P. is his driver now, role reversal!

They drove in again Friday for an interview with the Star Press. You can read the article and/or see the video Meet the Makers of the New Year's Eve Ball. And if you do read it, you will learn that the Civic Theatre is borrowing the ball for their fund raiser tonight.

PhyXTGears and friends will be welcoming in the New Year with a party in their new home!

Happy New Year!

The End.

Monday, December 19, 2016

2016 Week 50: Winter sets in

This week I've enjoyed a different Klaytivity centerpiece. Cheery candle light is perfect for wintry weather.
Sunday we had our first significant snowfall and Mike was out plowing. We didn't get nearly as much as other areas of Indiana. 

Monday the roads were fine and I had no problem going to the last class of the semester. I asked the students for a photo to remember our group, in different poses--una foto normal, una foto seria, y una foto loca. They said the most difficult pose was the serious one. Ironically it is my favorite.

Michael's regular Tuesday/Thursday routine involves 6 to 8 hours of robotics-team-related work, however, he often goes in other days as well. The move out of Morrison Mock into the MadJax makers' space is almost finished and they've made great progress setting up the new shop. Other positives: good working relationships with decision-makers of both MadJax and within the team; new students and mentors; timely funds.

The Tapping Divas, our new name, had two practice classes this week. We are performing the 23rd for the nursing home in town.

Kayla told us about how Rebecca loves to go to the post office. She's learned what the green slips are for and hands them to the clerk in exchange for the packages, their Amazon purchases. She colored the page they give out and now it is on display at the Post Office.

Thursday was Malachi's surgery to repair a wrist bone broken three months ago.

Pre-op and post-op

That evening, our friends, the Bowyers, arrived to move their son to Arizona. Jared successfully completed a semester of student teaching and has a job lined up in Phoenix.

Friday after packing up his college-life belongings into the two cars, we met them at a restaurant in Daleville. Our son Stephan lives nearby so he joined us, and after lunch we toured his studio. It was interesting to see the array of tools he uses, and to watch him program and cut a design in the ice with the CNC router. But, oh, it was so cold in there. Brrrrrr....

I especially enjoyed seeing his office at the back of the building with 16 years worth of awards and photos on the wall, and a long desk area (just as cluttered as mine!)

There was nothing better to do all afternoon and evening than hang out and play games with our dear friends.

Their plan was to leave fairly early Saturday morning and hopefully get back to Arizona with enough time to move Jared into his new apartment so he could visit the elementary school where he'll be teaching music before classes are out for the year.

However, when they stepped outside and nearly went flying on the ice, they thought it best to play a few more games. The news of  500+ accidents overnight in Indianapolis, was a strong deterrent.

By 1:00 p.m. it appeared safe enough to venture forth. Mike prepared the way with the ATV and put some sand down behind the cars. Just getting out our driveway and lane was a challenge. But off they went. Roads were okay at first until they came to a dead stop due to accidents ahead. They did make it safely to St. Louis that night!

I couldn't resist "borrowing" this FB photo of Meemaw's grandboys. They happened to be celebrating Christmas with the other side of the family at the Red Barn.

Today, Sunday, Michael shared with the first grade Sunday School class. Whenever they have a lesson about God as the potter, the teacher invites him to come and talk about pottery.

Christmas next Sunday, only one week! I still have decorating, shopping, cleaning and preparing to do! And all the while rejoicing in the unspeakable GIFT we celebrate--God with us!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

2016 Week 49: Hangin' in there!

 Look who is intently looking in on the manger scene?

It's been my goal during Advent to do the same by paying closer attention to the carols of the season.
I've enjoyed picking a favorite for each day and meditating on certain verses that have gone unnoticed before.
My initial goal was to play the piano and sing each one, however, I have not been able to locate my hymnbook nor the several Christmas carol booklets. Hmmmm . . . where did I hide them? That tells you  how little progress I've made decorating for the holidays.
Instead I've listened/watched YouTube videos of the favorites so far and become more familiar with various singers and groups.

This week I came across a Facebook memory of a different artistic interpretation of Silent Night--Kayla and friends dancing. Beautiful!

Last Sunday we had our first snow. Again today. My cousin wrote a poem a decade ago, so appropriate for today.

By James A. Gehman
(Christmas 2005)
Contemplate the falling snow
dancing on the frigid airs
Look how gently, hurried not,
resting on the pines below.
‘niquely wrought in crystal cold
testimony clear of selfless care,
loving-kindness, mercy pure,
Springing from the Maker’s hand.
Stay a pace, oh flake divine,
rest upon receiving palm!
Art so fair commands a pause
‘spite the Advent’s grueling race-
Warm this miser heart of mine;
let the Master’s mercies melt
calloused greed, consumer ‘need’-
All that parts my love from thee.

Nothing separates him from his Maker now. He passed away suddenly a few years later.

Son Stephan has been very busy since before Thanksgiving. These ice snowflakes against a fall backdrop on that weekend were part of the tree lighting festival in Noblesville.

Today, December 11th, is Indiana's birthday! He was in Indianapolis and yesterday in Bluffton carving celebratory pieces for the Bison-tenial! [Was that your punny idea, Stephan?]

I only wish I had photos to show for my other very hard working son. 

You probably guessed that I don't have too many photos of my own for the week.
I was fighting a sore throat and head cold, but still able to keep up with most appointments and commitments. I did take Friday off and intentionally stayed in pajamas the entire day.

Tuesday my neighbor friends treated me to a hilarious show at the Honeywell Center--The Church Basement Ladies--and a lovey meal nearby in a historic building from the '20s, a restored hotel-turned-restaurant--Twenty.

Wednesday, was our Food 4 Thought ladies Bible study Christmas brunch. The table hostesses decorate so beautifully, I had a hard time deciding where to sit!

The food table also offered many tempting choices.

Each year our leader interviews one of the ladies. This year it was me.

No, this is not what I was wearing for the occasion. The photo was taken by 4 year-old grandson Jude on Thursday. After an appointment in Muncie, I stopped by their house to drop some things off.

In the afternoon I took Skye to his last dentist appointment!  

I realize I have not said anything about Michael. He also had a few appointments and the ongoing involvement with the robotics team. They are steadily getting the new shop set up and ready to go.
It has been truly amazing to witness the many roadblocks they have overcome and the progress so far.
And the team is growing. Almost every time he comes home he says, "There was a new student there tonight."

The question now is, will he get a break before build season begins January 7th?