Tuesday, June 20, 2017

2017 Week 24: Zion's Turn

 Instead of flowers, here's a volunteer leafy veggie growing happily in one of the untended areas on the south side.

Zion (7) had his first experience away from home and siblings for several days. He attended the Art Camp at Taylor University, two hours in the afternoon, Monday through Friday. So, we had many adventures together, including going to Stephan's Monday meal where he enjoyed making an ingenious Lego vehicle. The photo does not do it justice.

Other guests at the dinner were neighbor Jazmine and Karen's parents, Dolores and Red Mounts!

After second day of art camp, Zion could not wait for the promised Ivanhoes' treat! He studied the menu a long time and chose a Crazy the Clown sundae.

Zion was a bit homesick so Daddy picked him up on the way from one of his jobs for a night at home.
He was ready to come back the next day for the last half of Art Camp, this time he brought his bike.

Looks like Rebecca had her own art camp at Nanna's! Kayla was back to work this week.

One other highlight of the week was the wedding of a young woman from our community who travelled with the Circle Tour 13 team to the Basque Country.

Happy and dry on a rainy day in the Basque Country

Ellie and Wynn Coggin
In time for Father's Day, I doscovered some interesting tidbits about my father from his 1944 Huntington College yearbook. I hadn't known that his major was English, and was surprised by the nickname--Sammy! He was so young and hardworking--a first time dad, finishing college in the summers while attending Seminary, had a job on the railroad, and pastored a small church!

Sunday  noon, the younger boys came back for a few hours while big brother Malachi was at work so Mom and Dad could take Elijah to Miracle Camp and then get away to celebrate their anniversary.

We also had special visitors, dear friends from many moons ago, the Babcocks. Our adventures together in several diffent countries go back a few decades.

After they left, the boys and I played LIFE, Zion the banker instructing us on the rules of the game, his latest favorite!

Needless to say, many other pursuits filled up our week to the max. Michael's interests and responsabilities only seem to increase. We are thankful for the health, strength and wisdom to keep up with it all, and especially grateful for the opportunities to do what we enjoy!

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Week 23: Another great week

Petunia and catalpa blossoms

Three last graduation open houses this week, each fun in a different way.
Asher's, Sunday evening, the last one of the PhyXTGears student graduates, was held where his family celebrates every special event--the grandparents' spread in the country. Grandpa built the house, planted a variety of trees and plants, did the beautiful landscaping himself, AND has a quaint and fascinating shop crowded with his treasures accumulated over the decades. 

The front of the shop 

My hardworking builder and maintainer has been tackling outdoor jobs such as painting areas that needed it, mowing, checking the bees, and more. All of that in addition to the ongoing goals and projects of the robotics team. Even so he makes time for cycling almost daily.

And he manages to fit in a tandem date weekly. Can you guess where we ended up this week?

Elijah was with us most of the week to enjoy the FITS (Fun in the Sun) program. Wednesday he had his cast taken off and missed "mud day" which he did not mind too much. He still has to wear a brace for a few weeks, but could ride his bike to and from the church.

Elijah and I played many games together, and I only won one! His "strategery", as I call it, is unbeatable!

The high point of the week was Malachi's celebration. As a family they came up with great ideas for the open house and all worked heartily and willingly to pull it off. Beautiful, indeed!
As usually happens when there's a major event, some projects get done that otherwise languish undetected. Now I'm inspired to clean my oven inside and out and organize all the books in the various bookshelves.

We are grateful that Kristie is progressing as well as she has since her major surgery six weeks ago.

She had not been able to keep up with the hive and was ready to give up on bee-keeping. However, Bee-man Mike came to the rescue.  Before the party, he donned his protective gear, endured the heat, checked on Kristie's bees, harvested a goodly amount of honey, and got stung only once.

Jude admiring grandpa

Enjoying the video display and visiting with friends
It's a special blessing to have a chef-uncle to cater the party who also throws in an ice sculpture!

Nacho bar and ice sculpture by Stephan Koch and cake by Patrick McDonald

We had a wonderful afternoon visiting with many friends. In the midst of our conversation we rememberd that June 10th was the six year anniversary of our housefire.
I came across this memorable photo captured by our daughter. Amidst the ashes, a reminder of Jesus' love and God's promise to be with us always. 

Two more Leah-pics from this week that I just couldn't pass up, after all every post needs a Rebecca sighting.

In 1976. when Nanna-Leah was about that age and we were living in Vienna, Austria, in a little house with a big yard and many beautiful flowers, a team came through on their way to Turkey for the summer and camped there. Among them was a young man who drew this picture of our two children.

In amazing mysterious ways, our paths crossed again this weekend. Richard Sharp and his wife Rachel were involved in Serve Together Kokomo, a county-wide service project involving 47 churches and thousands of volunteers.

We only heard about it Sunday morning from Bob Craton, an Upland friend whose ties with Operation Mobilization also go back to those adventures in Europe. We made plans to go together and picked him up after the last open house, Lexi's.

Lexi, Malachi's girlfriend of several years

We wondered how we'd find our friends amid stadium crowds. Interestingly, they sat only a few rows away in the same section, and later on our way to Culver's to visit with them, we discovered they had parked directly behind us! What are the odds???

We were so inspired hearing the stories of their One Wish encounters. They ask two questions to begin a conversation. I leave you with the first one:  "If you could have one wish from God for you today, what would that be?" They offer a simple one-sentence prayer for anyone who responds.
What came to mind when you read that question?

Monday, June 5, 2017

2017 Week 22: Moving on . . .

Starting with Memorial Day, set aside to remember and honor those who passed on in the service of our country, the week was full of memories from the past and the realities of moving on.

Tuesday, I drove up to Grace Village again to help clear out what was left in Mother's former apartment. My first stop was at the local Cracker Barrell to drop off last week's travel entertainment, Rory Feek's This Life I Live: One Man's Extraordinary, Ordinary Life and the Woman Who Changed It Forever and pick up another audio book for the trip. 

I focus on memoir or biography in an effort to learn more about how to write in that genre.
The task of processing material about my family is ongoing with new discoveries almost daily.

My mother and I look forward to our letter-reading times with each visit. I read aloud, she comments. I take notes and ask questions. On this occasion we got as far as May 18, 1946, my second birthday. We came across so many little stories of things I did or said, cute and interesting to imagine myself at that age but also to  envision my parents with a first child and in a foreign land. 

I discovered five of these  pergaminos, parchment or scroll-looking documents, full of signatures, so many names of people from that remote past. When Mother and Dad left Argentina in 1988, each of the congregations where they had served, gave them one. This one is from that fist town we were reading about, La Carlota.

I came back in the evening with another car load of stuff to deal with. Ever since, I continue to sort and give away. I am thrilled when items find the right person or purpose.
Mother didn't have room for these Peruvian paintings, so I emailed and offered them to the cousins who lived in PerĂº and one responded right away.

I donated a large box of miscellany to the Helping Hand store.
Among the excess was a huge stash of yarn, all types and colors. I invited a young knitting enthusiast, to pick out what she liked. And I learned that yarn is a popular item at Helping Hand. But I still keep finding things not yet allocated.

Mother's new shower curtain came in on Wednesday and she is so very happy with it, "I never thought I'd have something so pretty." she told Ivan.

A little visitor Thursday busied herself watering my plants while her Mama packed up some of the items she wanted from Grandma Hoyt's stash.

My friend Darlene and I don't see one another very often. We try, at least once a year to celebrate birthdays.

This time we went to the practice concert of The King's Brass. The young trombonist we hosted a week ago, a 2016 Taylor grad who grew up in Kenya, was also the recipient of a scholarship in memory of Darlene's husband, Dr. Fred Shulze, a long-time professor in the music department at Taylor University. Check out the tour schedule by clicking on the link and find a concert near you!

Can you believe it, Michael's engineering interests and involvements never cease, only increase! Now he's into a program connected with Near Space Launch. PhyXTGears was asked to work on one ThinSat to send up some 200 Km into space and work in cooperation with Taylor University. Two robotics students are now working full time there on the TU component.

Friday the team had a planning meeting at TU and came over after for lunch. Zip lining entertainment followed.

Readying Moriah for the launch                                                       Thar she goes!

Saturday was Malachi's BIG graduation day, our third grandchild to finish high school. Kayla graduated six years ago. A lot happens in six years. As she put it: "Now I'm married, own a home, and have the best little girl." 

As the nearly 200 graduates made their way across the stage, I sat there calculating how old I'd be when the next grands or greats reached that milestone.

Four open houses over the weekend and more to come!

Monday, May 29, 2017

2017 Week 21: New Beginnings

More birthday roses

As the guests arrive before each Monday dinner, we've been going back in the woods to check out the progress on the cabin Stephan has been building for Karen as a writer's getaway. It is finished!

Tuesday I headed up to Mother's and stayed through Thursday. Over the weekend the guys, four of them, had moved the piano and other large items into Mother's new apartment in the Grace Village Assisted Living building. Then Tuesday, we moved Mother in, but it took a couple more days to get her settled with all the things she needs and enjoys.
We sorted through the accumulation of years and took numerous loads over on a flatbed. Mother appreciated being involved in the decision-making process. After hauling a few loads over, Kim decided to simply take pictures with her smart phone for Mother to see and say Yay or Nay. Many things she did not remember and several brought back memories and stories from the past. One special one stands out. Among the packets of cards and correspondence from the past, was a sweet note from Dad:
This gift is to express my love and appreciation, but it comes with strings attached. It can be used only to buy necessary equipment to get started in artistic painting.  Sorry I have kept you so busy that only after 51 years you'll be able to bring to light all that artistry which has been pent up within for so long.
And hidden in the envelope was a $20 bill so we wondered whether she'd ever bought the paints and Mother couldn't remember anything until the next day when a wooden box surfaced containing oils and brushes.

Then she remembered and commented regretfully that she had done very little with it and now it was probably too late. Those tubes are dried up, but Mother's artistic talent may still come alive and flourish! There is an art studiio at Grace Village and she is now signed up to join other residents for lessons on Mondays! It's never too late. Another Grandma Moses perhaps?

Interestingly, my experience is very similar. I also have an art box with dried up paints, a long-ago gift from my sweet husband. Maybe it's time . . .

We couldn't have asked for a more perfectly timed smooth transition. They provided a roll away bed for me and I was able to spend those first couple days there to help Mother find her way around the place, and learn the new routines.

I came home with a car load of extra things Mother no longer needs or wants. I displayed them around the house so that when the family came over Friday for Mike's birthday game night they could pick out anything they wanted or could use.

The little white book case had my name on it long ago. I think I can find a place for it. 
One of the treasures we discovered, scrunched up in a shoe box was Mother's wedding dress. I hung it up to show off her handiwork Now I'd like to find the best way to have it cleaned and restored.

The occasion for celebration was Michael's 73rd birthday. Of course we snacked and sang the Krazy Koch song.

Before that, however, and just in time before the rain came, most of the grandkids tried out the zip line. Here's Kayla ready to take off. For a video of her zipping down (screams included) you'll have to ask Matt! However Kayla recorded another descent which you can view here.

The indoor fun was a crazy chaotic round robin game of ping pong.

Game rules                                     Let the game begin                               Crazy-fun chaos ensues

Zion and Jude stayed overnight and kept us well entertained. In the absence of photos (how could that have happened???) I'll include bits of conversations with Jude. 
At breakfast--
Grandpa: "Eat your cereal."
Jude: "It's not cereal, it's oatmeal."
Grandma: "Okie dokie."
Jude: "Don't say Okie dokie. Say, Yes."
Grandma surprised: "Why?"
Jude: "I don't like it. It's wierd." 

We dropped them off at home on the way to yet another robotics graduate's open house. We've enjoyed these opportunities to celebrate and meet old friends.

At the end of the day, and after a nap, we went out for yet another perfect tandem date.

Can anyone guess where we ate?

We look forward to several more weekends celebrating accomplishments and new beginnings.

Monday, May 22, 2017

2017 Week 20: Tis the season . . .

. . . for birthdays, graduations and open houses.

Birthday roses--3 for 73!
Nice surprise. Thank you, Michael! Next year four roses?

We worked together Monday morning--Michael cut and chopped up the large maple, and I stacked branches and loaded fire-wood into the trailer.

We unloaded and stacked the logs. I commented on how enjoyable it was to work together. My mother set a good example. She worked along side Dad in so many different projects.

Speaking of Mother . . .
She had invited me to a Ladies Tea in honor of Mother's Day, so I drove up to Winona lake Wednesday.

My siblings and I had planned to begin the move to the Assisted Living apartment at that time. That was not possible as the place was not quite ready and some papers were missing. Instead, Mother and I had fun going through drawers and cupboards, discovering forgotten items, sorting, stacking, packing, giving away treasures accumulated over the years.

We took breaks often to read letters Mother wrote to her parents. We got through the year 1945, twenty letters and post cards that covered the story of their graduation from Seminary till we left on a ship for Argentina.

I was a toddler at the time, my exploits and interruptions mentioned often. Now I know when my passion to write began.

Kim and I had also planned another happy interruption to the moving process, to celebrate my birthday Thursday with as many of the local siblings as could make it.

I had thought it would only be a strawberry shortcake, but Kim and Sharon put together a wonderfully tasty meal--the best Alfredo sauce ever, my favorite Argentine-style-seasoned salad, and strawberry dessert! :-) I ate too much. :-(

The Hoyt birthday-gang.

All weekend we celebrated graduating robotics students.
Saturday was the homeschool graduation. We knew several of the graduates but were heavily involved in celebrating Moriah, one of this year's PhyXTGears stars. (Click on her name to open the link, watch the video and see the surprise guest.)

The cake; Mike and 1720 alums; Moriah's open house; las amigas (yet another alum); Moriah's walkway

Sunday afternoon we enjoyed two more open houses, many fun conversations, and then went to Delta High School for Malachi's award ceremony. (Click on his name to watch the video.)


It was so good to see the whole family!  We haven't seen Kristie since before her surgery. The recovery has not been easy. She'd had a busy day and was glad to get home and put her feet up, the best way to keep her heart rate down.

We, on the other hand, needed to get ours up!