slimmer versions of ourselves, and a toothless one of little now-Americanized Leah (actually this may be her kindergarten photo)
Monday, June 29, 2009
slimmer versions of ourselves, and a toothless one of little now-Americanized Leah (actually this may be her kindergarten photo)
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Anticipation and Arrival--that pretty much sums up our experience.
For four days I worked steadily on all fronts: sprucing up the outdoors, planting flowers; sorting through piles and boxes, throwing, recycling, rearranging STUFF; preparing the rooms; planning. When I went to write this post, I could not believe there were NO photos on my camera for the beginning of the week. Maybe I felt like I had done something because in the midst of it all, I was working on old photographs for a memory post. This paragraph will have to suffice to document those days. Never fear, the other days' photographic contribution more than make up for the lost days, at least quantitatively.
My first break, it felt that way, came Thursday morning when I met a former colleague for breakfast at Cracker Barrell. That seems to be a very convenient way to connect with friends from near and far as we live close to one of the restaurants and it is next to a major state highway. My all-time favorite menu choice is Uncle Herschel's breakfast with the grilled catfish!
That evening we were off to the Fort Wayne airport to pick up our Basque teen, Amaia.
Saturday was equally full. In the afternoon we all went to Malachi's last baseball game where he made his first hit of the season and Amaia met Sam's family. We took dinner to their house after and there Elijah showed her his room and arranged a photo op.
Finally, we were ready to call it a day.
However, I cannot close this post without mentioning our own local ice cream shop of international fame. We took Amaia there the first day, how could we not! A few years back I was asked to write an article for the paper. Here it is, our own Ivanhoe's! If you are in our area, it is a MUST! Let us know, we might take you or meet you there!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
After ministering seven years in Eastern Europe and two children, we returned to the US to the general area of Mike's family in Wisconsin (Fond du Lac-Oshkosh). We were missionaries with no home base, not sure where to settle.
Mike's stepfather had a mobile home he was willing to let us use as long as we needed to and then he would take half of the selling price. Gratefully, we looked for the best location and chose a mobile home park in Omro on the Fox river. It was a pleasant place. Stephan still remembers playing by the water and finding dead fish, which brought him more pleasure than it did me!
In a very short time we had found a church family and felt very welcome in the community. The McMullins welcomed us into their circle in such a way that we began calling ourselves the McKochs.
We became involved in Friendship Bible Coffees for couples and for women. I was also on the board of Christian Women's Club, and Mike as always was soon busy on a design project for a missions venture. My favorite verse back then is still true today, Ephesians 2:10--God has these good works prepared for us to walk in them!
Stephan went to first grade, but never understood why the teacher had a problem with him not talking! Now he does not stop!
Leah, too young for kindergarten, enjoyed the library Story Hour once a week. She had been adopted in Germany, so as soon as she turned five, Daddy took her on an exciting day trip to Chicago to become a naturalized American. She remembers sitting in the big courtroom and that a man shook her hand.
Leah's memories, in her own words:
"I remember the river behind the trailers in the court we lived in. I caught my first fish there. I was very excited. Of course, it was dead already but Dad did a good job at making me feel like i accomplished something!
I remember there was a really bad storm and i was not feeling well , it was Sunday nite time for church but Dad stayed home with me and we sat and watched the storm the whole time.
There was a stump out in the yard and Mom you and I had a picnic out there on the stump. We had celery with peanut butter sandwiches and grapes on styrofoam containers that veggies come on. You brought out the peanut butter cause i never ate the celery just licked out the inside! LOL, a spider ruined our picnic, you did your best to get rid of it but i was too scared so Dad went out later and lit it on fire, not burned it down just made me feel better about the spiders LOL.
Stephan and I shared a room, a pullout bed under another. We fought a lot. It was always so hot in the summer. There was a bully who lived in the trailer court. I always took a lot of abuse from him, a deal I made so he would leave Stephan alone. He cut my ankle with a knife once. There was a girl with long blond hair who was my friend , her house was sad I think she got hit by her mom.
I started school there. A blond curly haired boy with bright blue eyes always sat by me and followed me around. One day on the playground he reached over and kissed me. I reached back over and smacked him...I got in trouble...no one let me talk..got in trouble at home ...no one let me talk.
I remember you guys playing cards in the tiny kitchen area. I think I loved to watch you guys play. Sometimes Dad would let me sit between you two, that was my favorite spot in the world. Going To Marlene's was one of my favorite memories. They had a dog named PB (peanut butter). I used to love the smell in their entryway before you went up the stairs to the main house, 'cause it smelled like dirt and dog food!
Corey had a ceiling in his room with purple carpet. Marlene had a stuffed dog like me, she gave me my favorite stuffed animal and when I left it there when we had to move to the ship, she sent it and it was waiting for me.
I learned to swim at the local pool...i remember i jumped off the high jump with the male lifegaurd. Well, a few memories came back to me, LOL!"
Sunday, June 21, 2009
The first three days of the week I was still working in Cincinnatti, OH--AP Spanish Readings.
Tuesday evening I left the city as soon as we were dismissed and was very glad to be home three hours later.
The next days I tackled the most urgent items on my list: complete final paperwork for the job; plant flowers; clear out stuff I brought back from the classroom. I'm still working on most of these but there is incremental progress.
So good to say one last goodbye to the administration building and our weekly staff meetings.
After that I invited myself to lunch at the daughter's and admired her decorated porch.
Friday was Sam & Kristie's 11th anniversary. Malachi is at summer camp and Elijah spent the night here to give them a break. We had a whole lot of fun: he helped me plant some of the downstairs flower beds; we watched snails and worms; we went for a walk and picked mulberries; collected trash; and more...
And finally we went to Taylor Lake, where Elijah kept saying, "Watch me, Grandma, one more time!" 30 times.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Three weeks ago, we were on our way to Wisconsin to celebrate the life of Randy. A little over a year ago we did the same for Marlene. It is still hard to believe they are both gone, absent from this earth. They had been so full of life. Their home always a beehive of activity, ever involved in giving to others, especially missionaries.
When I got back from Cincinatti, I found this photo. The family sent it along with a couple of documents dated June 10, 1982.
The photo was probably the last one taken together, some 10 years ago. They were passing through our area. The visit was brief, the fellowship sweet. We always shared deeply. Never even a thought of the parting to come. How sobering to look ahead and think of all the goodbyes that await us, maybe our own.
The documents we had signed and left with the McMullins on one of our short furloughs from the ship ministry, were our wills. I had totally forgotten about this step of preparadness for such an event. Our children are grown up so they no longer need to go to Nocha and Dallas if we die.
All the reminiscing got me thinking about starting the Memory Monday posts with the Omro chapter of our journey. Check out the first entry next week.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Somewhat Random Fun Times
The above photo may be out of sequence or may even belong to another week, but I like it. While Malachi's game was in progress, Elijah got some practice time in with Mommy Kristie.
A week ago today, was Kayla's BIG day, the long awaited yearly dance recital. She had umpteen parts in the looooong program, had to change some eight times, and danced so beautifully. We couldn't take pictures during the show, but Leah took us back to the dressing room for the last transformation from gorgeous Cinderella to wacky crazy zombie, so these are the only photos I have.
Monday Night Dinner at Stephan 'n Karen's, I love to see their cottage-style flower garden, something new every time.
I tried the swimming pool one night, that was energizing, a bit cool at first.
Saturday after work I rushed back to my room because a good friend from Monday Night crowd is in the area with her family and was picking me up for dinner at their house. The elevators were so crowded that I decided to try the stairs, all 15 flights!
Needless to say the steak dinner with the McGuire family was utterly delightful! They were celebrating a family birthday and a 40th anniversary and just enjoying one another. I was so very privileged to be in their midst.
The birthday person, Gina's brother, is an editor and author. I so enjoyed reading his first children's book and admiring his art. Check it out yourself, Rainy Day Games by Andy McGuire.
And what were my little ones doing while I was gone yesterday? I received this phone message on my cell phone. Looks like they're having fun!
I suspect the rest of you Project 365ers have been having lots of fun as well. I think I'll go over to Sara's and find out!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
AP Readings start tomorrow and I am already installed on the 15th floor of the Millenium Hotel across from the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, OH. My roommate, from NJ, had not shown up yet at 7:30 when I came down to the lobby (only place we have complimentary internet access).
Each year, an ever increasing number of high school students take Advanced Placement courses in a wide variety of subjects. ETS (Educational Testing Service) hires qualified readers to grade the 2.5 + million tests.
Spanish is one of the more popular areas. The last time I participated we (1100 graders) read over 150,000 exams. We work seven 8/hour days, always with the same group at an assigned table, following very strict guidelines and clear rubrics. It's fun to meet and share with interesting colleagues from around the globe.
Two years ago we were in San Antonio, TX , housed on a beautiful campus, Trinity University. It was getting late and no roommate had shown up yet. I had just been through the entire list of participants and noticed the names of some colleagues from NACFLA. Just then a knock on the door and the very one I was thinking about appeared after a loooong day of travel and many troubles. Later we discovered our suite mate was another 'nacflite' friend. We had a wonderful few days sharing our lives together and enjoying the sights of that unique city.
More about AP:
Have any of you seen the film Stand and Deliver? I chose to show it to my middle schoolers on the last day, unfortunately they were way too scattered to focus on the story, even though they had requested a movie.
It's the true story of an LA high school teacher, originally from Colombia, SA. He was determined to help his minority students succeed in life. It was his idea to teach them AP Calculus! He was strict, but very caring and dedicated, and they loved him. Their AP results were so outstanding that ETS concluded they had cheated. Formerly only a 2% had ever passed. To have an entire group get perfect scores was unprecedented. Their irate teacher fought for their right to prove themselves. They retook the test and, of course, passed with flying colors. His goal was accomplished when several were accepted into prestigious universities.
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Another birthday, celebrated twice--at Monday night dinner and again Tuesday, the very day with a different crowd.
The younger generation served up a fabulous meal of milanesas, puré de papas, ensalada, verduras y postre. ¡Muchísimas gracias!
Later that week we traveled to Wisconsin for a memorial service. We spent the night in Chicago with cousin Rosie enjoying her hospitality and sharing many family stories and insights.
When we returned to the US after years of missionary service in Europe, we settled in Omro, WI, closer to M's family. The second Sunday we visited a small A of G. Visiting missionaries from Argentina drew us in that day, the warmth of the people kept us attending there, especially the family that took us into their home and heart, the McMullins.
When we felt called to go back into missions, they encouraged us and helped make it possible in many practical ways. One outstanding example was when our youngest was born, just before we left to join the OM ship MV Doulos, they took their building fund and covered the cost of the Caesarian operation.
Both McMullins, our dear friends, are in heaven now, only a year apart. Another chapter closed, yet their example and legacy lives on.
Welcome little Alex! The family had not been back since he was born two months ago.
Well, it was a busy last week, finishing up at each school and with each student, then packing all the stuff in the one classroom at the middle school that was like my home base.
As I took this world map down, it occurred to me that you might be interested in seeing where we've lived. In case you can't read the key in the lower left corner: smiley faces represent a year or more; stars, weeks or a month.