Monday, January 26, 2015

2015 Week 4: A somber week

The death of a young person shook our community this week and brought to the forefront a serious and pervasive drug problem in our little town. We pray for our youth and seek ways to help them out of their hopelessness.

The funeral on Friday was packed, standing room only. I was offered the last seat.

There were many other commitments, even accomplishments throughout the week, but not many photos.

Mike and the robotics Team 1720 The PhyXTGears, meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Saturday and spend some 16 hours per week working together. They've been streaming live so I get occasional glimpses of them scurrying about. Here, a few screenshots I captured.

Only one afternoon, Wednesdays, he goes to the Red Barn and supervises kids creating with clay. He makes good use of the time playing with clay as well. This day he was performing brain surgery.

Thursday I walked over from one barn to the other, after my exercise for the elderly, to watch Kayla teaching ballet moves to Matt's twin nieces.

That night I tuned in to an e-concert by former colleague Win Corduan. It was fun to interact with him and others online.

Saturday Kristie planned a family birthday party for Elijah. Rebecca stole the show, again!

This photo is a bit blurry but I love the expressions.

Kayla's photos are my favorite!

And here is my favorite ten year-old!

He may have been disappointed that not many were able to attend. But more birthday events were yet to come.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

2015 Week 3: Football & Ice

Tis NFL season! And with a couple of the teams we follow still in the playoffs, we have plenty of Sunday afternoon entertainment.
Last Sunday, Mike spent two-and-a-half hours involved in a rescue episode on our lane, so he missed out on most of the Green Bay Packers game but walked in just in time to catch the final winning minute. Even so, football had to compete with robot designing.

After last Sundays's adventure, I was not too eager to drive anywhere and quite content to spend three days admiring the scenery from indoors.

However, we braved the icy conditions to go to Monday meal, in Mike's car and him driving, and enjoyed an evening with some of the grandchildren. Sam's family rarely make it to the dinner, but   Kristie was gone to class so dad and boys joined us for some good food and fun.
Kristie started back to school, one evening a week, working toward a long-time dream of becoming a midwife.

Stephan was eager to show us further discoveries--more people he recognized on the Doulos cartoon.

 I came across a great photo on Facebook of the artist at work, our friend George Booth, the multitasking grandfather.

Rebecca Rose was five months old on Wednesday and this is what Kayla posted.

Future ballerina
 We decided to have game night every Friday for whoever can come. Kayla is first to arrive. She was still laughing about her first attempt to cut Rebecca's hair.

We taught Kayla and Skye what used to be a favorite family game--Nertz. Once again Leah held her position as champion even after all these years. It is a fast game and none of us can equal her speed!
(No photos, too much action and no breaks!)

However, Hand & Foot is NOT her game. The only reason she's smiling in this photo is that she gets to hold Rebecca the entire time.

Jimmy, though tired from the long work day, is still the reigning Hand & Foot champ.

Leah reminded us of how she escaped being in marching band. She and Stephan used to rush to grab piles of cards and sort them. In one of those sudden moves she sat back down on her foot, the force of the chair leg broke a toe.

 Stephan was in Bay Harbor making ice art. Competition season is in full swing.

Winged dragon
Day 1                                                              Finished Sculpture

Football, ice, and back to football. . . Will the Colts win tonight?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015 Week 2: Frigid!

Serious winter weather moved in this week--subzero temps and some snow. Many school closings or two-hour delays.
Otherwise, life goes on as usual although we tend to not go out unnecessarily. I did make it to a few usual appointments, driving carefully.
Nothing has stopped the robotics team from moving forward. They meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings and all day Saturday. They brainstormed, came back with possible designs, discussed, decided on one, and got to work. Five weeks to go!

Last week, before the snow, we had this visitor to our woods.

Red Tail Hawk (?)
Throughout the week we have enjoyed watching various birds.

Huddled doves on the coldest day
Enjoying the sun
Staying indoors (and not teaching this semester!) has given me more time to work on long standing projects. Last year's blook arrived this week to add to the collection. These now replace the photo albums I used to put together annually years ago. Next project is to take those pre-blog somewhat-ruined-by-the-house-fire photo albums and remake them.

Most Fridays, unless something comes up, I get together with a neighbor lady. We went to a fun coffee house in the neighboring town. Someone was selling infinity scarves for a fund raiser and we both bought one--a stylish reminder of our fun times together.

We started something new this week--a game night! We had such fun at our Christmas gatherings that we decided to make it a more regular event. Part of the inspiration comes from the success of Stephan and Karen's Monday meals to build community.

This time Grandpa Mike taught us a new game he's been researching--Resistance.

Malachi's girlfriend joined us for this fun evening.
I love Malachi's expressions. Hmmm. . .he should think about going into theater.

I love seeing the cousins together.

Los primos
And of course, we ALL love seeing Rebecca, though no one is more possessive than Nanna Leah.

Rebecca weighs 14 lbs. now, and according to the doctor is the most observant baby she has seen in a long time.

A Friday game night makes it very convenient for the young grandsons to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's. Mom and Dad can put the little ones down to sleep and Grandma can enjoy them Saturday morning. Those little guys are a lot of fun, so curious and observant, growing, learning. We are so privileged to have them close by.
Daddy Sam came around lunch time to take them home. Look at those little faces. Notice the UGG boots and head gear. Do you think they 're ready for the extreme temps?

It is Sunday afternoon. I am in my loft writing-area looking out at the bleak winter landscape. I sit here worried and wondering why Mike hasn't made it back yet from helping the woman who got stuck in the driveway. From where I am I cannot see past a certain point, even with the many windows.
Suddenly a Facebook notification comes up and this image appears. A young family friend who is with the wrecking service has posted a photo of what I cannot see. I message back and forth and learn that Mike is okay, from all appearances. I still worry because of his constant cough and the sinus headache he has today.

Later: Mike is back and is okay. Two vehicles got stuck. Always visitors who do not know how to negotiate our driveway.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2015 Week 1: Endings and Beginnings

Before the year was over, Michael finished his bronze--10 lbs., 26". He has already entered a call for local art by Marion General Hospital for one of their new buildings.


We planned a five-generation-photo-session visit to Mother's on Tuesday, the 30th, to coincide with the annual holiday harp performance and reception.

Great grandpa to Rebecca: "Wanna learn to play the harp?"

Rebecca: "Gotta think about it sleep on it."
Do you have a favorite?

After the concert we went to see one of the resident's train and village set-up.  Zion and Jude would love this. Maybe next year.
Interestingly, Quentin remembers Dad's visit to his church and the prayer of dedication he offered for their son, decades ago. Unfortunately, on this day he was unwell so his wife ran the train.

The last day of 2014 was the second annual shopping trip with these good-looking grandsons. Is it becoming a tradition? We did follow the same routine as last year ending up at MacD's.

The New Year's Eve Ball drop in Muncie was discontinued after six years, so we had a quiet evening at home and a lazy New Year's day as well.

Saturday, however, was the FRC Kickoff, the beginning of robotics build season. This year's game: Recycle Rush.

23-member team, parents, and mentors watching the simulcast

I stayed home, worked at packing up Christmas decor, and went out to lunch with a dear friend.

Oh, I checked and found out that my Spanish class was cancelled due to low registration numbers. I think I feel relieved and glad to have more time for other things. Still pondering what exactly.

What is your new year looking like?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Week 52: Christmas Traditions

How to summarize a very full week of extended Christmas celebrations?
Perhaps by listing the traditions we hold dear.

We decorate our homes. Ornaments bring back meaningful memories that lead to special reflections. I found one sent to us years ago from Pakistan just as we were hearing about the horrendous murder of school children.
Monday at Stephan's meal, our young friend from China came bearing gifts, among them new ornaments to add to our collection.

We send and receive greetings. 
I wrote the year-end letter earlier than usual, by Thanksgiving, and then enjoyed receiving and reciprocating the many letters and cards throughout the entire season. Facebook has greatly increased the flow of holiday greetings from all over the world.

We have special food traditions.
Some bake cookies. I do not. So I had to borrow these great photos to show off the grandsons helping mom, and wearing the aprons Kayla and I made for them some years back.

I did, however, for the first time, give my neighbors a little something I baked myself.

Christmas Eve Stephan and Karen invite everyone for a festive brunch--biscuits and gravy, crepes, quiche, and usually Monte Cristo sandwiches and scotch eggs. The food is great and the fellowship even better.
That same evening we have an artichoke and shrimp meal at our place for those who can make it.

We introduced the game of Hand and Foot and played one round. Jimmy liked it so we hope to have many more fun competitive moments.

Look who babysat while we played.

Christmas Day brunch here has traditionally been Sausage Souffle (from a recipe Sam copied and brought home in second grade), and Baked Oatmeal.
Not everybody can be here anymore. Stephan usually has more than one ice sculpture to deliver, and Sam's family have their own celebration with their four growing boys. Matt had to work, but Kayla and Rebecca made our day!

And Nanna Leah's as well!

Looks like the pretty Christmas dress was too warm.

Sunday we had our ALL family gathering. The house really warmed up. Look at Rebecca now.

Of course, she must still accessorize!

We read the story of Jesus birth.
This year we asked the older boys to read while the little ones acted out the story with little Nativity figures.

We give gifts to one another.
Some plan and prepare all year, others shop at the last minute, but we always end up with an abundance of thoughtful, practical gifts, and many of them homemade.
One of the biggest conversation pieces was the Doulos cartoon we had printed and framed for each of our kids whose early years were spent living on that ship.

Finally, because we have a new baby in the family this year we decided to get a grandchildren-Nativity photo.

Two years ago, we had a real couple (Matt and Kayla) and not their baby.
This year, Kayla's own baby, but Matt had to work, so Skye played the role of Joseph.
The experiment always has its hilarious moments.

I am writing this as 2014 comes to a close. Here's wishing you all a rich and full life in 2015.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

2014 Week 51: Christmas Countdown

As Christmas approaches there is a crescendo of activities and programs.
Slowly, a little bit each day, our home decor grows: the cross that lights up the house and can be seen from the road; the Christmas tree; several nativities; and some gifts have appeared under the tree.

Christmas programs and performances abound. In fact, Kristie needed help Tuesday as two of the boys' school programs were scheduled at the very same time. She took Elijah (4th grade) to his and I went with Zion to his preschool.

Elijah had a speaking part, as the Clock, and also sang and played the recorder.
(Great job, Kristie, with the costume!)

Zion did very well: waiting patiently for his class performance, and singing a couple songs, and quoting John 3:16.

The ladies Bible study group I attend had a Christmas brunch on Wednesday. Four women offered to host: decorate a table and provide a little gift. We picked our favor before entering the room and then found the corresponding table. I chose a pair of pearl earrings. Now do you know where I sat?
I am grateful for these friends.

Leah was on a roll decorating her house and wanted me to stop by, so in the afternoon, following tap class I had the double delight of seeing daughter's beautiful decor and holding Rebecca, who entertains Nanna while Kayla is teaching dance.

Leah's decor brings back many memories. She has lovingly preserved, even refurbished old ornaments from childhood and from our world travels and then adds her own special touch. Notice the Peruvian llamas all decked out for Christmas!

Bouncy girl                                      Ready to go home

Thursday and Friday for me were mostly taken up with finishing up the semester: grading the last chapter test; a speaking final; and calculating and submitting grades as required by Ivy Tech.

It would have been fun to go to Stephan's annual demo at the Indiana Museum of Art Friday evening.
I think I'll put it on my calendar for next year! [Thanks, Stephan, for the photo on Facebook!]
How many penguins do you see sliding down the ice?

Michael has been steadily working on his bronze, a very elegant dancer, but hasn't come up with a title. Any suggestions?

He has a short break from robotics before the intense build-season begins in January.
There was some excitement during their last team meeting--one of the boys, that he takes from Upland, fainted and hit his head hard and they had to take him to the ER. Never did find out why, but it sure made for quite an interruption.

Sam was contracted to remodel Burger King restaurants, and has a crew working for him. The last two or three weeks he's had two jobs back to back with only one day home. Last night the three younger boys came over so that Sam and Kristie could have some time alone. I must have been busy enjoying them so much that I did not even take time out for one photo. Sweet memories remain, however, like cozy moments sitting together reading Christmas books. While they ate breakfast this morning, I read another book. When I started the next one, Zion said, "That's a couchy book." He preferred to cozy up for that one. 

So, one and all: ¡Feliz Navidad y próspero Año Nuevo!