Thursday, January 6, 2022

Christmas/New Year

This last week of 2021 led up to our family Christmas/New Years celebration.

I greatly admired the Nativity display at the house where our home group met Sunday, so I borrowed it for the post opener.

The weather was mild all week. I walked a couple times, once to the bridge nearby and was surprised to see how high the river was. 

One of those times I crossed paths with this handsome biker.

Rebecca and I had a delightful day together on Wednesday. She pretty near mastered one of her piano pieces. I played the accompaniment. We had fun.

Thursday, the 30th, the robotics team had a party - a movie and games. I came toward the end and joined in a game of Nerts. Great fun.

All week long the work on Stephan and Karen's new house continued steadily in eager readiness for our family get together Saturday. Here is Karen's summary:  Finishing up kitchen and bathrooms

Despite their state of exhaustion, they welcomed us into their lovely space, still in transition.
I came early with the food I'd worked on for a day and a half, and hung the stockings on the stairs.

The family units arrived one by one. Then the fun began! 
As usual, there was more than enough food. 
This was the second or third time that we I drew names and assigned one to each member. The secret gift-givers presented theirs in turn to the youngest first and in order to the oldest  (guess who).  We all watched and enjoyed each surprise and reaction  Sadly six members were missing.

Then it was game time! We introduced some to a new one, AZUL, and had two games going on at the same time, with Splendor on the other end of the table. After which we all joined in a round of Hand and Foot. Just wish we could do this more often.

Hand and Foot (the table is not really V shaped :-)

This is my Christmas loot. There is a small  . . . . . in the little box on the right, something I collect. Can you fill in the blank?

And now, blessings in the New Year to all my faithful readers and friends!


P.S.: Very seriously considering ending this weekly blog. Don't know if I can, as it's become such a habit.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Anticipating Christmas

 All the preparations for the Big Event we celebrate create eager anticipation, even longing. Christmas greetings coming in and going out - some in the form of cards, and increasingly more via the internet. 

An annual bike ride Michael enjoys is the Luminary, to see the Christmas lights in areas of Indianapolis. He decorated his bicycle for the occasion. There were only seven riders from Muncie who joined hundreds of others. Unfortunately, the people who used to serve hot chocolate and cookies were not there. 

As usual I spent time at my writing desk. This was the view one morning, the moon was still up. The trees are bare now, the weather is very mild for this time of year, and anyone wishing for a white Christmas will be disappointed.

Memories of past Christmases surfaced every day. Here a few favorites from last year. I had forgotten the one representing Mary, Joseph and the baby, which was intended for use as our next Christmas card. Sadly I totally forgot.
Below it you can see how much the babe has grown.

Anticipation took on different aspects. At Stephan and Karen's new house, work accelerated hoping to be ready to host the annual Christmas Eve Brunch and Koch family gift exchange. Read about it here.
If you got all the way through you learned that there was a change of plans. The family event was postponed for a week. The brothers were most definitely sleep deprived working through the night, and their dad spent many hours there as well. The brunch, however, was still on, with one difference - it would be a carry-in instead of the Chef's usual fare.
That's where my hours in the kitchen came in preparing: baked oatmeal, torta pascualina (Argentine spinach pie), Grandma Hoyt's fruit salad, Sharon's sweet potatoes in orange cups. 
So, we had a memorable last brunch in the old house, crowded but cozy and happy. 

I especially enjoyed having the families of our two greats there.

There was also a 16-day-old baby in the crowd. The protective mama allowed Karen the privilege of a few moments. That's when I came up with a question and my camera! She protested, "You can't expect me to answer and take a picture at the same time!" (Sorry, Karen.)

Then there was a tour of the new house to observe the progress and a few family photos outside.

Christmas Day is very different as empty-nesters.  It was a rather quiet time with only Diane here. I confess to feeling depressed. 

I treasured each glimpse into the home celebrations - the old and the new traditions.

Grandma Linda makes pj's for each of the grands every year and that is one gift they open Christmas Eve.

2020                 2021

Kayla's house looks Christmas-card worthy in preparation for the joyful family time. Thank you, Matt, for this snapshot.

On Instagram I followed the household celebrations at Sam and Kristie's and also Malachi and Lexi's.
These beautiful internet gifts ministered to my soul! 

And here's another favorite memory, one of the last Christmases with Mother.

Festivities are not over. The Koch family celebration is now scheduled for New Year's Day! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021


Christmas lights at the Koch's

The first half of the week we were involved in the usual weekly responsibilities while also anticipating excitement ahead.

The robotics team meets twice a week now and Michael diligently teaches them basic things they will need to know to build a robot. It's a young team, mostly seventh or eighth graders and fewer high school students. Build-season is fast approaching!

I was busy revising and posting the last chapter of the La Carlota series. It's about the church Dad helped build in our first town in Argentina. It has a surprise ending. 

The excitement began Wednesday evening when Kendra and Zach arrived on their way from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. He had flown out from Massachusetts to help her make the long trek across the US. They planned it well, stopping to see people and places along the way. 
Michael prepared a wonderful welcome meal. We taught them our new game - AZUL - while we waited for Moriah to join us for dinner and an overnight stay. Kendra won with an off-the-charts score. Beginners' luck or is she just that smart?

Brilliant or not, she was still working on meeting deadlines to wrap up her last semester of college. At breakfast the next morning, she finally submitted the last assignment.

Then the former housemates disappeared and enjoyed a hair-styling session like old times.

Then it was time for a goodbye selfie. Till we meet again, graduation in May or their wedding next June, or both?

Friday, we enjoyed another grand reunion with friends from near and far at John and Abby Pugsley's wedding. He grew up in our community and became an outstanding long time member of the robotics team.

In typical John style, he had prepared 16 pages of notes - a very detailed plan for everything leading up to the event. 
Several unique and thoughtful aspects we enjoyed: appetizers, games, and fellowship during the wedding party's photo session; the photos of the couple, their age matched the table number; guests were served first, starting with the children. We had a great time conversing with friends at table 12.

Saturday morning early, my brother Alan came from Warsaw and I rode with him to Corbin, KY for our dear cousin's memorial. Sadly Michael was not able to go.

Ed worked for Union College twenty-eight years. The last eight as president. He was well loved by the entire community. So many wonderful memories were told or written about him. This one speaks for many, "He was always a kind and gentle person. He was always looking for the good in all things and everyone. He will be missed and will live on in the memories of all who ever met him!"

He leaves a lovely daughter who also lost her mother four years ago. Thankfully she has always been surrounded by a loving extended family.

Chloe Rose de Rosset

Since his retirement, Ed and Chloe have lived very near older sister Karin and her husband Jack who helped in every way, especially during his year-long illness.

Photo credit Jack Traylor, right.

Mother's older sister Joyce and her husband Ed de Rosset were missionaries in Peru. Their four children--Karin, Ed, Rosie, and Fred--served in institutions of higher education.

Alan and I spent the night in Fred and Carol's lovely home in Berea, KY, before heading home Sunday morning. 
Carol & Rachel, Karin and Jack, Fred and family

This has become the de Rosset family gathering point. Rosie and Chloe will join them for Christmas.

Family stories and getting better acquainted was the best part of the weekend. I am so grateful for the heritage we share. 

I was reminded of the extent of our family connections a couple weeks ago, when at the local clinic across the street from Taylor University. A student walked in that I recognized as a second-cousin-once-removed and talked to him about our ancestry.

With David Muselman

This is the tiniest Nativity I have ever seen. It was in the guest room, along with a small turtle like the ones on my kitchen window sill.

I rejoice with every reminder of Emmanuel, God with us! 
Michael and I watched Christmas with The Chosen: The Messengers twice, in the theater and online. Still showing in select locations. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Tis the Season . . .

Tis the Advent season . . . 
Finally all the Christmas decorations made their way out of the attic and slowly found their place. The mini Nativities  replaced the turtle collection on the kitchen window sill. This one is a favorite--one of Leah's many tiny clay sculptures.

The second Sunday of Advent is one when we look forward to the Christmas cantata - a beautiful and powerful presentation of the Gospel story from Creation to Redemption. 

Monday night dinner welcomed good friends we hadn't seen in a while, including a baby in the making! I probably looked like that 51 years ago before Stephan's arrival. I could better relate to Mary.

Tis the season for special gatherings, like the ladies' Bible Study Christmas brunch on Wednesday. I had not been with these friends all semester as I focused on writing. So it was a delight to be with them again. Each table had a special decoration. This one was made many years ago by the husband of our table hostess. She explained that the color of the cross etched into the star was from old nails in vinegar. Symbolic?

The young couple living temporarily with Leah, were waiting longingly for their baby to be born. Finally it happened Thursday night. Her very long labor and subsequent Caesarian reminded me again of Stephan's similar birth story.We were delighted to see this first family picture. The miracle of life and a safe delivery is a wondrous thing. 
Jesus spoke of the experience: "When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world." (John 16:21 ESV)

Our littlest family member certainly brings joy to all. He came for a bit on Saturday with his parents.

I am trying to cut down on Christmas decor, so put up only a small tree this year. I couldn't decide which picture I liked best, with or without flash. Kayla came over one day and relieved me of quite a few ornaments to use on her bigger tree.

I chose a watercolor of a fir tree for our Christmas card this year. The evergreen reminded me of God's everlasting love.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021


We had a few beautifully sunny days and somewhat warmer days, very inviting to go out for walks. 

Michael also took advantage of clear days to continue felling trees, cutting up huge logs, splitting wood, adding to the winter supply.

Most other days he was at Stephan's hanging light fixtures.

Son Sam worked there also installing kitchen cabinets.

Karen continues to blog about the house-progress.

I spent a few days on my various blogs. This weekly one is the least time-consuming. The two versions of my life stories, English and Spanish required more time to edit, review the translation and schedule to publish chapter 19 - Life in the Big House - for the December 1st deadline. 

Wednesday was the last Basics program for the year. Rebecca and I got to hang out together. When I dropped her off at home after, I realized I hadn't taken a picture in her holiday outfit, so she posed for me in front of their lovely Christmas tree. (Oops, her head is falling off ;-)

The robotics team is gearing up for the new season to begin in early January so they transitioned to two meetings per week. I stopped by on my way home from Muncie and enjoyed seeing how much fun the students were having putting the robot back together.

As I walked out, I looked through old photos and found this one of Sam from the time Elijah had been on the team. 
I had just spent time with Sam. He joined me at a meeting in Muncie. I was greatly relieved to hear from him the doctor's assessment of the recent MRIs. Comparing the recent ones with the previous ones taken in 2016, he did not see a significant enough change in the cyst to warrant any action. This is a great relief.

Friday evening we welcomed Bethany who is on home assignment from her work in Tanzania with Mavuno Village, a family-style orphanage.

We found out she loves to play games too. So we had a fun time playing Splendor first. Then she introduced us to a new game she had with her--AZUL.

Saturday she began her long drive to Philadelphia after more good conversation at breakfast and a quick selfie. We are truly grateful for the friends who find their way to our home, the blessing of living in the Crossroads of America.

Saturday evening we attended a Christmas performance at The Commons Theatre in Alexandria. Our friend Tamara was one of the directors (and I borrowed this photo from her FB page).

As if Michael had not done enough, at the end of a busy Sunday, he decided to make bread!

"What kind shall I make? What shall I listen to in the process?"

We slowly transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I envy those who are able to decorate the day after Thanksgiving. Somehow it has never worked for me. What about you?