Monday, November 30, 2015

2015 Week 48: Giving thanks

This week in the USA we emphasize giving thanks. 
Great numbers travel distances to gather with their families and feel most grateful for relationships.
My brother Lynn came from Las Vegas to spend a couple weeks with Mother. We invited all our Midwest family to join us on Thanksgiving Day. 

Mother surrounded by three of her five children--Lynn, Alan, Rita
The matriarch herself

I had to teach Monday. After that I was able to worry about focus on the fact that we were expecting 28 for Thanksgiving dinner. I'd wake up in the morning trying to work out seating arrangements in my mind. Working steadily, slowly, area by area, everything came together. I was so happy when I figured out how to arrange the many plants in the solarium and make room for three guests. Next I set up the table in my craft room with its three inserts.

I was very intentional about staying out of the kitchen in order to focus on hostessing--welcoming and interacting with everyone. Mike wanted to cook and others offered to bring food. The big day arrived. Ha! So much for my resolve. Mike was sick and unable to participate!

However, Stephan and Karen had come very early so he could have one more opportunity to hunt. So they helped me prepare as well.

Karen even went out for a run in the nice weather.

Here she comes!
Earlier in the week both Mike and Stephan brought in some venison for the winter. Can you tell how many?

In the end, only 26 showed up and found a favorite spot. Kayla's little family in the solarium made such a pretty picture in the sunshine surrounded by greenery. I went outside to look in and get a photo. Not until I looked at the photos online did I see the photo-bomber!

Neice Tina came all the way from Elkhart to spend the day with us. We anticipated the encounter between Rebecca and Simon, almost two. Sure enough, she went to give him a hug and kiss. He would have no such thing, and was happy to escape up the stairs and play with the train set.

Another little one, Tina's two-and-half-week-old Betsy, made the rounds, getting acquainted with her extended family.

Hmmmm. . . are Sam & Kristie being inspired to try for a girl?
There is a saying in Spanish: "Muchas manos en un plato hacen mucho garabato." Literally, "Many hands in one plate make a mess." No mess here! The many hands worked together to clean up after the meal. By the time everyone left, there was not much left for me to do.

Diane and I played a game she enjoyed a lot.

The next day Sam and Kristie dropped off Elijah to spend a couple days with us while they got away for a deserved getaway.
We watched movies and played games and enjoyed our tall ten-year-old grandson.
He learned some chess strategies, but was unbeatable at Hand and Foot!

Tomorrow it's back to work, grateful for these few lazy days.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

2015 Week 47: Event-full

What a surprise to look back over the week and count four events sandwiched between two birthday celebrations!
Last Saturday we celebrated Zion's 6th birthday, actually coming up tomorrow, Monday the 23rd. Mike just sent me this photo he took on that occasion so I add it to last week's collection. No, not Zion. Everyone competes now with Rebecca for the attention.

The first event of the week was a concert all in Spanish! I truly enjoyed that surprise. They sang choruses familiar in my childhood, sonnets by Garcilaso de la Vega, and Misa criolla by Ariel Ramírez from Argentina. The refrain that stood out was "Señor, ten piedad. . ." (Lord, have mercy)
So appropriate considering the news of the week--terrorist attacks and deaths of people in our community or others we know.

It was chapter exam week. No photos of the piles of tests on the dining table still being graded. If only we could do away with grading!

Wednesday after class was event #2, only a couple blocks away from the building where I teach--the Excellence in Innovation Awards Celebration. We were invited to honor an outstanding member of the robotics team.

The evening was extra special because the speakers were Wil Davis and Ron Fauquher from Ontario Systems where Mike worked for 23 years. They told the fascinating story of how it all began and the lessons learned along the way.

 In addition, one of my current students was part of the committee that worked on the event, and I got to meet her mother as well.

One of the walking friends was available both times this week. We don't know how long we will be able to continue this routine.

My Friday routine, the only day I don't teach, includes a lunch hour meeting with my writer friends.
One member of the Writers' Bloc had the opportunity to edit a book translated from Swedish. He showed us the coffee table edition he received. I was fascinated by the beautiful paintings and the creativity of combining childhood memories with fantasy, by super-imposing robotic figures in each painting.

And after our writerly chat, one of the friends, in the biology department, took us into her lab to show us her "babies."

Later that afternoon we had a delightful visit from friends we had not seen in a while, the Barnells.

They stopped by on their way to a Jackie Evancho concert at the Honeywell Center in Wabash.
That sounded like a great date idea to us. We were able to get balcony tickets--event #3!

Saturday, was a day I looked forward to so much, event #4--Malachi's performance in The Crucible. Both he and his girlfriend, Lexi, had leading roles.

"Goody" Proctor (Elizabeth) and the Rev. Hale
 And it was Malachi's 17th birthday! Kristie planned a celebration at the house after the play, first for family, and later for his many friends.

It began to snow around noon Saturday.

My favorite Facebook pic of the day!

Rebecca's first time in the snow!
Sunday morning we woke to this beautiful winterscape.

We truly enjoy the changing seasons.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

2015 Week 46: Busyness and birthday party

Beautiful weather prevails, although we had a couple very windy days and some rain.
I came home one day and the neighbor's car was parked in the middle of the lane. I couldn't see the problem from where I was parked waiting at the top of the lane. She came up to tell me there was a fallen tree. Her son arrived from school shortly after, three cars waiting to get through, and trying to solve the problem. Fortunately Mike was home and came to our rescue with a chainsaw.  Great opportunity for a photo! Several days went by without any photos other than this one.

Our little walking group agreed not to go out one morning because it was too cold and another  day because it was too windy. Excuses?

Thursday we had a delightful little visitor. While her mom helped with some cleaning tasks, Rebecca kept me company. I was at my desk and she sat at the child desk, although not for very long, her attention span is still quite short.

Monday through Thursday my schedule is very tight. Fridays feel a bit more relaxed and include meeting with writer friends and coffee with a neighbor at Common Grounds in a neighboring town, always at our favorite table. This time I chose hot chocolate.

Michael has been intensely busy. I think he's making up for the many months that he was so limited due to pain. We are so grateful that he continues to be pain free. He gets out on his bike almost daily. Surely exercise is helping as well.

Saturday, I had fun shopping at local sales and craft fairs--great shopping, and helped community friends.
I was fascinated by the fall decor of the first stop--every nook and crannie was taken up with seasonal decorations. The hostess' son had painted a grapevine over the front door, complete with little ants crawling on the stem.

Mid afternoon, Mike was home after a workday with other volunteers, cleaning up the brush around the lake at the Lion's Park, in preparation for the trailway coming through our town.

Zion's birthday is so close to Thanksgiving that it was a better idea to have his party early. We joined that fun at the YMCA where the children were playing games, the littlest ones were running around, and some ventured to try the climbing wall.

Jude ran up to me and in his special deep raspy voice he said, "Grandma Rita (as he caressed my chin), rock climbing, you can do it." I was not convinced.

Kristie and others were successful.

While the children played, the adults were able to visit.

Kriste, her mother and sister

What about the birthday boy? He seemed to be having a great time--lots of games, and then party food and gifts.

I couldn't find an appropriate card, so I printed up one of his funny photos. He laughed remembering the occasion, and loved it.

Little Rebecca had us in stitches with her aggressive kissing! She doesn't have other little ones to play with. This was probably the first time that she was around children her size. She was so excited, just wanted to hug and kiss them, on the mouth! What's she been watching?!

Another week has begun. Hope it is a good one for each and every one of you, my readers!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

2015 Week 45

Michael said goodbye to his hunting buddies on Sunday and headed back home. Two long days of driving 

Nephew Jeff and his son Cody; brother Terry not pictured

Meanwhile back here, we celebrated Sam's 37th birthday with family fun, laughter and food.

Monday our tap class started up again after four months, and with a new member. More fun!
We are learning a new dance and reviewing steps and routines we'd nearly forgotten.

We've had very mild temperatures this week. But I think Tuesday may have been Rebecca's last stroll with us. Indian summer will soon be over.

The cutest little owl ever

Michael arrived late Monday, and Tuesday jumped right back into his many activities. I caught him here just back from a bike ride, checking his email before taking a shower.

A lot of catching-up awaited him, including installing the new microwave. Mike had tried ordering parts and doing the repairs himself, but in the end had to order a new one.

We were without a microwave oven for about a month and got used to old-fashioned ways. I was reminded of when we returned to the US in 1983. Microwaves were somewhat of a luxury back then, but rapidly becoming essential kitchen equipment. We did without for some time, then one day Mike surprised us with a small $100 microwave. We've been spoiled ever since.

Today was the annual Craft Fest at the Red Barn. Several years we participated as venders to sell Mike's unique thrown pottery. Not this year. While Mike was at a robotics-sponsored event, I went to see what I could find.
Here's Jenni showing off her friend's cute aprons made from shirts purchased at Goodwill.

It's been a stressfull week, a mix of work, joys, and some painful situations.
I was reminded of my dear friend Viola's favorite promise from Psalm 32:8 I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

2015 Week 44: October Fun

The leaves are falling fast. Autumn rains and wind bring cooler temps.

Sunday was still beautiful and warm. I enjoyed hanging out with these two teens, driver Malachi and his friend, and watching Elijah play soccer.  (Don't know what made my photos so blurry.)

Mondays after class I look forward to Stephan's meal and the time with friends. This week one of Stephan's college roommates was passing through and delighted us with the tale of how he met his wife.

Mike sent this amazing sunrise photo Tuesday. He is enjoying the beauty of nature, the challenge of hunting and spending time with brother and nephew.

 Only one early morning walk this week, Thursday, but well worth the effort of getting up and out.

Every spare moment Monday through Thursday was consumed with tests, homework, and calculating grades--definitely my least favorite aspect of teaching. However, interaction with students in the classroom makes me come alive and reminds me why I endure the other.

Friday and Saturday, DIL Karen and former student Trisha joined me at a writers' conference. We all came away with clearer direction and greater confidence to move forward with the projects we are working on.

Shortly after arriving back home, these very special visitors stopped by--the cutest little mouse and a beautiful black cat.

My one seasonal moment: wearing a 5k tee from five years ago; wearing a cute pumpkin-pin made by my walking-friend; and drinking coffee from a Garfield Halloween-mug from my neighbor friend.

Now it's time to turn back the clock and sleep an hour longer.