Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Week 52: A Different Christmas

Life is a constant ebb and flow of good and bad, life and death. This week we experienced a heavy mix of both.

Sunday we were anxiously awaiting news of the safe arrival of niece Tina's first baby.
For lack of a photo for that day I am borrowing one of my favorites of the many posted on Facebook throughout the week--my mother holding her great grandson Simon. (Photo credits Daddy Kyle!

Woke up Monday to a sad looking Christmas tree, the top half had gone dark--a premonition of things to come? It was a scary day indeed.

Sam's weekend-long headache and vomiting escalated severely. He begged to go to the ER. They spent four hours at the doctor's, but meds and fluids administered brought no relief. From there Kristie took Sam to the ER. Finally by evening they had a diagnosis (after a CT scan and MRI)--colloid cyst on the brain obstructing the flow of cranial fluid. By then we had joined them in the ER, ready to do whatever we could.

The ambulance left around 10 p.m. transporting Sam to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis--reportedly the best brain trauma center in the nation. Mike drove Kristie there after she stopped at home to put the little ones to bed and collect a few things. I spent the night with the boys. It had been a long day for wonderful babysitter big brother Malachi. And it was very hard on Mom-Kristie to be away from baby Jude first time overnight. 
When she phoned early the next morning, Jude had just realized that I was not Mommy and was crying, but after some breakfast was fine.

That was Christmas Eve. We were anxiously waiting to hear when Sam's surgery would be. Could it wait till after Christmas? Would a surgeon be available and willing?

There was a 'changing of the guard'. Grandma Debby arrived to take over with the grandkids. When she walked in, little Zion said, "We don't need you. We got one already." ;)

Mike had arrived home from Indy around 4 a.m. Mid morning he picked up his sister Diane who spends holidays with us, and we met at Stephan and Karen's for the traditional Christmas Eve brunch for family and friends, the Monday Night regulars and more. It was so good to share in the nourishing meal and uplifting prayers before heading down to Indianapolis, and I got to meet a new little member of the group--Arya not even a month old!

The first great news was that Dr. Shapiro, one of the top, if not the top neurosurgeon in the nation, was scheduled to operate that morning. 

We arrived toward the end of the five + hour procedure and waited to go in and be with Sam. 

Tender moments after surgery

Kristie went home late Tuesday to keep the home-machine running smoothly and take the two older boys to see their dad the next day--Christmas Day.

Notice the smaller bandage, a slight smile, and Sam eating an Italian ice. He was confused at times but his customary humor was intact and came through in whispers or hand signals. 

We enjoyed a brunch at Leah's, left Diane there and went back to the hospital.

Later we drove the big boys home from the hospital so Kristie could stay late with Sam.
Found the little ones playing contentedly, another good day with Grandma Debby.

Then we went back to Leah's for a delicious dinner and to pick up Diane. 
Leah so enjoyed decorating her new home. Every nook and cranny was delightfully adorned.  

Thursday, Boxing Day in some countries, we traveled North and had a good visit with my mother, brother Alan and family.

The news about Sam was that the drains had been removed and in the evening he was moved out of ICU!

Friday morning we were shocked to hear that he would be released to go home already that day!
At first it was rather overwhelming, especially for Kristie thinking of the care required.
However, everything went smoothly and Sam's steady improvement has been very encouraging.

Mike made a trip to Muncie to cut wood for Sam to heat his shop, whenever he's able to go back to work.

We had already scheduled a dinner with friends from our small group and were glad to be able to fit it in.

Leah was hurting so much for her brother and had not been able to visit him yet, so Saturday we went together to visit and help out for a few hours. I scrubbed floors while Leah wrapped their family gifts for them--the prettiest presents ever.

Sam looked good with his new hair cut and was very glad to lay there and quietly be involved in family life.

When we left almost all was in readiness for their family Christmas celebration today, Sunday.

The plan for the entire Koch clan is to celebrate 2013 Christmas in 2014, on New Year's Day! 
We have a lot to celebrate! However, we've already received the best Christmas gift ever! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Week 51: Rain, rain go away . . .

Today, on the official beginning of winter, the rain is washing away the old snow. Perhaps we'll have fresh snow and a white Christmas.

Sunday, Mike was asked to share with the first grade Sunday School class a pottery demo and lesson he's done before. I watched the interaction for awhile. The thirteen children were enthralled. When asked how they are similar to clay pots, the answers varied .

--Because we can hold Jesus inside.
--Because we are all different.

Hopefully they went away understanding that each of us is created differently for a unique purpose and that we are the clay, He--the LORD--is the potter.

Our friend Gina makes a clay ornament each year. Monday night, at the dinner she gave out this one so fitting for our snowy year.

Jared, our young friend at Anderson University, braved the snow and icy conditions to come over Tuesday afternoon and pick up his luggage which in storage here.We enjoyed visiting for awhile and even played a couple rounds of Hand and Foot. Then he had to leave (or was it because I was winning?)

Thursday he drove home, 10 hours to Little Rock, AR, but by then the weather was warming up.

Wednesday evening the Elderberrys, the older crowd at our church, gathered to wrap gifts for needy families in the community. As I was leaving I enjoyed the sight of the moon over the manger scene.

Another night scene I enjoy, the lighted deer in my neighbor friend's yard. Can you tell how many deer and see Rudolph's red nose? She also gave us a deer ornament.

An ornament that survived the house fire is very meaningful to me because it was painted by a young friend, a former student. She now lives nearby and we talk or get together regularly.

That brings me to Saturday's photos.
What a fun day! I took the two older grandsons on a Christmas shopping trip. They each had a certain amount of money and could decide where and what to spend it on. We had a great time together and they are very happy with what their purchases, including a gift for their girlfriends.

Back at Malachi's I caught a glimpse of the two younger boys all spiffed up and ready for mom-Kristie's family Christmas party.

They also showed me the newspaper article that came out today featuring Sam's business. Another proud moment. Open the link to watch the video and read the article.

Skateboard maker's business is on a roll

Michael has been very persistently moving forward with his artistic project, however no photos this time.

And now, I close wishing you all a very blessed Christmas week, rejoicing with family and friends all because of the greatest gift of all--God come in the flesh to live among us.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 Week 50: Let it Snow . . .

Winter is officially one week away, but the weather does not know that.
We've had winter-coat n' hat weather all week, even hovering in the single digits at times.
Sunday started out rainy, windy and COLD. It was the day of the Town of Upland holiday traditions.
I enjoyed the Tour of Homes, going to other people's this time! Again a nice variety of settings and decor.
One lady had an extensive Gone with the Wind collection including Scarlett O'Hara dolls and all her many dresses. 
I was reminded of the fact that it was my mother-in-law's favorite movie. 

I also took notice of a wood-carved rocking chair and several clay sculptures. (I wonder why?)

The two napping figures were inspired by the habits of the artist's aging parents. (I can relate to them!)

Speaking of sculptures. . . a very sad accident occurred Monday when I was dusting Mike's most treasured and fragile piece. (I knew dusting could be hazardous!)

He had to glue the harp in four places. (I am grateful Mike is still speaking to me!)

The Christmas tree made it out of the attic Tuesday, thanks to Michael, but I have been so unmotivated this year that the trimmings sat around for days. Finally on Thursday afternoon I began cleaning and decorating in earnest. Why? Because I had invited the neighborhood ladies to come for coffee on Friday! I do better with deadlines. Also Friday is when I get away from desk work and do other things, such as crafts, cleaning or other household chores while listening to a good book.

A few favorite little corners
Three of the Nativities come from Argentina. Can you guess which ones?

Wednesdays we often go to a weekly meal at the Lions club. This week was the Christmas special.  I caught a glimpse of Santa preparing to make his entrance. (Ha! You thought he came down the chimney.)

Well, in truth, the stories that have come down through the centuries about St. Nicholas tell of his generosity. One in particular stands out, when he did climb up and drop a bag of gold through an upper window to help a poor man save his daughters from slavery. He tried to do it secretly, but obviously word got out.
It is fun to be sneakily generous in this season of giving.

The Thursday, December 12th, public network Weekly Special featured son Stephan at the Indiana Ice Studio talking about his art and profession. It is very well done. (You can see him on the 0:53-0:56 and 3:13-7:07 segments.)

This weekend he is in Ithaca, New York. Ice carving competition season has begun! Here you see the 'Ice King' himself sitting on the throne he and his buddies carved for the occasion. (Photo downloaded from Facebook)

"We carved this 10 block throne at Ithaca Ice Wars in NY this week....with Brian Fitzgerald."
And here it is, a quiet snowy Saturday, wonderful for staying indoors, listening to Christmas music, writing holiday greetings, wrapping gifts, and composing this weekly post.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2013 Week 49: Events and Friends

Someone pointed out once that my photo-blog is more about people than things.
As I look over the events and accomplishments of the week, what stands out are the encounters with friends in a variety of ways--F2F, FB, e-mail, Christmas greetings and letters . . .

At our local ice cream shop, Ivanhoes', one is likely to meet friends. Sunday, when we took visitors there (always a good excuse to eat there) we met a young lady who grew up here and meant a lot to our family, now living far away, married and expecting her first.

 Monday we took a couple of young friends to Stephan's meal.

Tuesday I addressed a bunch of Christmas cards and year-end letters to family and friends.
I came across a trifold card I made for Mike's parents 30 years ago, the first Christmas we were back in the US. After they both passed away many such items were returned.

These must have been our kids' first school pictures: Stephan in 7th grade; Leah in 5th; and Sam in Kindergarten. On the back I wrote, "Leah now has a perm and shorter hair and Sammy lost his first tooth on Thanksgiving." [Way to ruin her beautiful hair, Mom. And, look at those huge glasses, poor girl.]

Mike's weeks and months of plugging away at the lost wax bronze casting experiment, culminated Wednesday with the actual pouring process, more complicated than I could ever explain.

The next few days he was cleaning up, sand blasting and polishing the piece.


He finally finished Friday night after we got back from Jared's concert. (Well, really it was Anderson University's Candles and Carols.)

BTW, last year's production will be televised on Christmas Day on the public broadcasting networks--APB and ETWN.

Today, Saturday, we joined many other vendors in a nearby town to display and hopefully sell some of Michael's art. The sales were not great but we met old and new friends and that was worth the while.

The town is all decked out for the season and we're looking forward to tomorrow's Olde Tyme Christmas with all the traditional activities of the day--tour of homes, tree lighting ceremony, and more.

So, we are another week closer to Christmas. Hope you are enjoying all the preparations of the season and that your heart is filled with joy as you meditate on the Christmas story.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 Week 48: Family Fun

Thanksgiving week is always one of  family gatherings. This week we had great times of family togetherness including a birthday party.

These are my two favorites of the many photos of Zion's birthday celebration last Sunday.

Monday I finished Karen's t-shirt memory quilt which I began in August for her birthday. She thought I'd save it for Christmas, but I couldn't wait so I gave it to her at the meal that night.

Among the things being moved around, put away or rearranged for the holidays, is this ancient airline bag that the Hoyt family used to lug the oven bird nest around. I am waiting to I hear the story that goes with it.

One quiet evening I caught my husband in his studio with another woman!

Thursday. Thanksgiving Day, we feasted at Stephan and Karen's along with SIL Diane, daughter Leah and her household, Jimmy and Skye.
Gryffon and Gracie enjoying the Thanksgiving guests
Unlike Monday nights, the dogs of the house were allowed to roam freely.
Later they were treated to an afternoon walk.

Thanksgiving after-dinner activities

Friday all the Koch family, except Kristie and baby Jude, enjoyed a couple hours of bowling at Northside Lanes.

Fun for all
Saturday I took Diane home and then prepared for more overnight visitors--Sam and three of his boys plus Jared (Sara's son).

The extra bedroom
Sam and Malachi rose early today, Sunday, for their very first hunting experience!
I didn't realize the photo was fuzzy until later. However, it is the only one of that first memorable event.

Jared could not get a later flight so spent Saturday night here and was allowed back into his dorm at AU this afternoon. Can you guess what we played?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

2013 Week 47: Storms, Spanish guests, squirrels, skateboards . . .

Severe storms swept through the Midwest. We squeezed in a fun dinner with the Six for Kicks group at La Charreada before the serious winds and downpour.

The evening gathering at church was almost called off, but the dark clouds cleared and the sun came out just in time. However, when we returned home a dead tree had fallen across our lane.

I cleaned house all day preparing for the arrival of our overnight guests from Spain.
From the guest bedroom I watched our frequent visiting black squirrel.

Our friends, the Villalbas, who work at L'Arcada, a camp near Girona, arrived in the evening.
They were fascinated by the abundance of ardillas (squirrels) running around our woods.
Sixteen year-old, Miquel, was rather bored until he discovered the the Wii.

They had the Ivanhoes' experience with the obligatory photo with Garfield on Tuesday and another family pic by the spiral staircase before their departure Wednesday morning.

Stephan came out several mornings to go hunting and got to meet our friends, reminisce about his trips to Spain years ago and practice some Spanish.

One afternoon he shot a 6-point buck, more meat for the freezer and Monday night dinners!

Michael became quite sick to his stomach Tuesday night, couldn't remember feeling that miserable before.

We had already made plans for a date-day to Beef and Boards, to see Les Mis. I drove, he rested, and we did really enjoy the amazing performance.

On the way back we drove past son Sam's custom woodworking shop and noticed his truck there so stopped to see what he was up to. His long-time love of skateboarding is taking on new life as he designs and builds skateboards. Hopefully this business will become profitable as well.

On Fridays I join a small writers group that meets at Taylor University in the Science building. I go by a display case where the oven bird nest from Argentina  now lives to benefit generations of students rather than deteriorate on our deck. The nido de hornero  has been in our family for some 50 years.

Two grandsons came to spend the night. We had fun together including a special birthday breakfast for Zion on Saturday--chocolate-peppermint pancakes plus ice cream!

We are having way too much fun. How about you?
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