Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014 Week 8

Only one fourth of the photos this week are mine. Thank you, whoever you are, for the use of yours to enhance the retelling of this week.

Sunday afternoon we went to see Saving Mr. Banks, the story of the making of Mary Poppins--a great movie and good to have time together as Mike would be gone most of the week.

Monday, exactly as forecast, the snow and ice mix started mid afternoon. Schools dismissed early. Michael spent most of the day with Team 1720 PhyXTGears to repair or improve their robot after discovering issues that needed help at the Scrimmagethe Saturday game practice opportunity with other teams in Kokomo.
(Watch the video for an idea of this year's Aerial Assist game.)

Road conditions worsened and it took him twice as long to drive home. He had to turn around a couple times and find another way around drifts or stuck vehicles.

Delays on Tuesday turned into school cancellations due to ice or drifting. By afternoon the big melt began.

It was the last day to wrap up and pack the robot. Hmmm . . . come to think of it I don't know its name.

The very next day, Wednesday, Mike left on the Lightrider golf trip with a group of 20 guys.

They changed the dates this year so he could join them after robot build season. Turns out that if they hadn't, the annual Myrtle Beach trip would have been cancelled due to serious snow down South.

Leah's Valentine tree made the front page of the local paper on Thursday.

Zion wanted to spend time with grandma and was here overnight. He insisted, so I figured out on my own how to use an X Box and we played a Kinnect game! I amazed myself, ha!
I never got a picture of the cute little guy, hard to believe. Or not! He kept me busy the whole time!
We went to the store and in his loud voice he explained to all that Grandma needed cat food and the cat's name was Brutus. He has become quite a talker!

Friday we remembered Daddy's passing a year ago. I posted on Facebook a photo of him so young, alive and fun loving, imagining what he looks like now.

I invited Stephan and Karen for dinner, then realized how out of practice I have become since Mike took over most of the cooking last year. No worries, Chef-son said it was good.

Stephan left today, Saturday, for Ice Alaska, World Art Championship 2014! This year he is teaming up with Aaron Costic, the captain, in the Single Block three-day event. Monday - Wednesday you can go to the website and watch them at work.

Here are last weekend's sculptures. A couple of apprenticing friends helped with the Fire & Ice sculpture in Culver, IN.

So, we have much to look forward to this last week in February.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

2014 Week 7: Snowy St. Valentine's Week

Snow off and on all week, temperatures from -8 to close to 40 degrees and beautiful sunshine in the mix.

We like to watch the mourning doves out of the kitchen window. How many do you see?

Remember the snow maze mentioned in last week's post? The boys'effort made the local newspaper!

 Thursday after I'd met the weekly writing commitment for our church community, my SIL Diane called. She wanted to get out! So we went out for coffee and hot chocolate.

It was a big day for our family as we were finally allowed to tell the world our big news: Matt and Kayla are expecting a baby in August! That will make us great grandparents! ¡Bisabuelos!  

That news about "little Kernel" on the way had the most Likes and Comments on Facebook.
The second in popularity was this candid wedding photo I posted. We look so very young! I love seeing Daddy so alive and happy here, and lovely cousin Rosie.

I stopped by Leah's to drop off my valentines. The first annual Valentine Tree was displayed outdoors on Friday.

Friday noon my Writers' Bloc friends critiqued the piece I wrote "12 Barrels: A Love Story." So fitting for Valentine's Day! I am so grateful for their expert advice, and so glad I did not publish it here, yet!

Mike and I went to the Taylor Valentine dinner and music program--a delightful date. The theme was "Lost in the 50's." Michael was feeling very nostalgic as he recognized most of the music and even remembered the lyrics.  He wondered how that was possible when it's hard to recall what happened yesterday.

This morning, Saturday, he left very early for the practice scrimmage. Several teams take their robots to one playing field and practice this year's game--Aerial Assist.

The six-week intense build-season will be over Tuesday! Mike is grateful that this year they were ahead of schedule compared to other years. It seems they will not have to pull any all-nighters. And they have been able to practice-drive the robot for a week already.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2014 Week 6: Snow Days and Birthdays

The snow, ice, cold temperatures, or all of the above, have given me a good reason to stay indoors. I left the house only twice.
Try as we may we haven't been able to celebrate birthdays in the usual all-family way. As a result I accomplished more in the way of cleaning and writing.

On the other hand, Mike trudged into Muncie as usual during robot build-season. This is one of the photos Team 1720 posted this week. Looks like Mentor Mike was not wearing the team shirt.

Monday we had hoped to celebrate two birthdays at Stephan's regular weekly meal, but Leah couldn't be there.
Elijah got his wish, however, montecristos and ice cream cake.
I sat at the small red table with the little ones. After they'd had enough to eat they began to bang their plates with their forks.

Tuesday was Leah's birthday. She liked the soft fuzzy woolen hat and gloves I made her.

Wednesday was a snow day. This squirrel jumped down and slammed into our bedroom window.

Perhaps it wanted me to look out at the beautiful view.

The smudges in the lower left are from the cat. It also knows where we sleep and how to wake us up.

We did have another Sam-scare that day. His incision was still leaking and they became concerned due to the color of the fluid. To be safe they were told to go back to the hospital in Indy. Thank God it was only a false alarm. I was prepared to babysit if needed, but big brother Malachi was home as school was cancelled for the day.

Thursday I began to write the story of our courtship, "Twelve Barrels: A Love Story." It has required a lot more digging to accurately record some long forgotten yet important details. I am so grateful that the album with our love letters was preserved even through the house fire!

I know I promised a post about the 12 barrels, but I am still working on that piece, and having second thoughts about publishing it on the blog.

Friday afternoon I headed to Sam and Kristie's to stay with the boys so that Mom and Dad could take off for a well-deserved getaway.

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we were eating supper.

Saturday was the changing of the guard. The other grandma arrived in the afternoon and I drove home.

Daughter Leah was raving about the snow maze 'her boys' (Skye and his friends) had created in the field behind their house. I gathered the photos she'd been posting on Facebook for this collage. Only an aerial view could do justice to the energetic project of these teenagers.

After Mike got home from a long day with the robotics team, we went over to witness the 'opening night.'
Close to a dozen kids had played a few rounds of capture the flag. Leah had a fire going. By 10:00 PM the fun was winding down. We were thrilled to catch a glimpse of what had been--young people enjoying wholesome outdoor activity even in the cold!

Not all present were willing to be in the picture. I hear, however, that they want to do this again.
Leah, the proud mama in the pink, is already working hard on yet another very creative activity. The Christmas tree, kept alive as long as possible, is being transformed into a Valentine Tree. She is inviting people to stop by and fill out decorated hearts with messages to friends and loved ones which are then attached securely to the tree which will go outdoors on the 14th. On that day there will be sharpies and hearts available for those who stop by. And, who knows, you may find a valentine addressed to you!
I picked up a few hearts to fill out.

It snowed again last night. Michael plowed the driveway this morning as usual before we went to church. The side piles are growing.

We are determined to enjoy and make the most of this real winter while it lasts.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

2014 Week 5: Enjoying winter and one another

Our annual church celebration dinner usually falls on or close enough to our anniversary that I make a point to have someone take our picture. I also make sure I am wearing something different for each year. So here is our Sunday photo. Because it did not show off my new Christmas gift sweater, I took a couple of selfies. Our culture is into the selfie photo trend, which I hear is supposedly helping people appreciate their unique beauty. Still learning.

Monday was this cool dude's 9th birthday. Is that why the schools were closed?

 Oh, maybe not 'cause Tuesday was another snow day.

These deer spent a lot of time laying down or lazily traipsing across our yard.

Classes resumed on Wednesday, so Mike was back at the Red Barn with a group of kids and one helper, teaching, guiding, managing the comings and goings, and having a little fun of his own. 
What do you think, is the sculpture a male or female?

Sadly there had been a break-in over the weekend. Notice the cardboard in the window.

We were asked weeks earlier to share our stories with a ladies' group on Thursday, January 30th.
Oops! If someone had not called us that morning we would have forgotten. So, with only an hour or so to prepare, I decided to focus on our love story as our 44th wedding anniversary was coming up the next day.
I dug out the letter Mike wrote with a pre-declaration test to make sure I was the one.
Elijah poured 12 barrels of water on the sacrifice and the wood before he asked the Lord to set it on fire. [I Kings 18:30-38] Rita, I'm going to do the same thing by giving you 12 points to consider and accept if this is how He is leading you. If the fire still burns in you after these 12 I look forward to working with you this summer so that we can really get to know one another and more from there...
It was great fun to reminisce and share together about that and many other stories.
Oh, you want to know about the 12 barrels? Come back another day this week.

The ladies took another anniversary pic. Which do you like best?

Friday I got up very early and drove the half hour to Sam and Kristie's. I rang and knocked and waited. Sam came to the door and said, Why so early?  It was supposed to be eleven not seven!
Memory fails. . . hearing loss. . . What else will go with age?
Actually I realized that Sam has a soft quality to his voice, similar to mine. We agreed next time it would be best to text.
It was fun to visit with each member as they got up and prepared for the day ahead.
But, what to do for four hours? I texted Mike about meeting me somewhere for an anniversary breakfast. It was a good plan as he was going to spend the day in Muncie anyway to get projects ready for the Saturday all-day robotics session.

I had fun with the little ones. . .

. . . and got to see Sam before and after his doctor visit.

Monday when the sutures were removed, the incision had not yet closed completely so he had to wear the bandage all week.This time all was well and he was released to go back to work, tho' gradually as his strength and stamina return.I realized after publishing last week's post, that I had said nothing about Sam's progress on my blog.
You can now read Kristie's Praise--a 12-point summary of how God helped and intervened on their behalf  throughout this ordeal.

Saturday Diane and I tried out a new eatery in Marion. I am in a writer's group with the girl that works there, who grew up in Brazil and whose family owns and runs the business.
I tried the harebrained ham with apple crepe and Diane the moonstruck cheesecake with strawberries.

This morning, Sunday February 2nd, we woke up to a winter wonderland.

We are enjoying the real winter we are having. We get the feeling that we are in the minority. However, son Stephan agrees with us. He's having fun this weekend in Canada competing at a famous ice carving competition--the Ottawa Winterlude.

Reef Secrets: in progress and finished
Stephan says: "This was a fun project. The competition started with 18 300 pound blocks and was held over 30 non consecutive hours.

Kristie's Praise

I want to share what Kristie wrote very soon after Sam came home from the second hospitalization.

Over 13 years ago, I cried out to the Lord in my anguish and told Him I would sing His praises forever, if only He would deliver me from the bondage of addiction. He did and has been faithful to me always! I want to be faithful to praise Him always! After witnessing all that He has done recently for Sam and our family, I had to take a moment to praise the Lord for His goodness and count our blessings! (Psalm 145)
  1. Before it all ‘began’, God assured me that He had the victory in this battle, that I had the decision to walk out that victory in faith and hope. It was a deeper experience of walking by faith versus by sight.
  2. Nicole Brown, the PA taking care of Sam at Ball hospital on 12/23/13, decided to do a ct scan because of his “migraines”, despite our lack of concern. This is how Sam’s cyst was discovered. Her actions helped save his life. The outcome could have been much different had she not performed this scan.
  3. Sam was transferred to the best neuro-hospital in the surrounding states, with one of, if not the best neurosurgeon in the nation!
  4. Surgery was performed FIRST thing Christmas Eve, despite being warned the night before that it might not happen until the 26th. Sam’s immediate suffering due to the hydrocephalus was shortened!
  5. It was clear a short time after surgery that Sam was himself! The brain surgery had NO effect on his personality and his functioning! He is fully restored (in process)!
  6. Every fear or doubt was silenced, a few times immediately as it tried to raise its ugly head--
    a. Immediately after Sam came through surgery, I was sitting in the waiting room with Sam’s parents. As it was clear to me that he was going to be okay, I had a moment to start thinking about finances and worry set in. He is the sole provider, I have no idea how to do his job, which consists of many different projects, one of which is weekly collecting and selling waste veggie oil (wvo). This job has to be maintained, as opposed to his woodworking which can be put on hold. Mike, Sam’s dad, said, “Call Kyle.” (Our neighbor with whose family we are good friends.) As I was calling their home number, his wife, Tiffany, called in on her cell phone, as they were away from home. She said she was just calling to let me know not to worry about Sam’s wvo, Kyle was going to take care of it. Kyle told her to call now and let me know. She was going to call later, but Kyle insisted to call NOW! This would provide a portion of monthly income!
    b. After Sam was readmitted for the infection, there was talk off and on for days of opening up the incision, cleaning everything and draining any fluid, and even removing the bone flap, sterilizing it for days, and later reinserting it!! One afternoon the infectious disease specialist stopped in to inform us that they were likely performing this procedure the next morning following the neurosurgeon’s final exam. We both felt instantly defeated and deflated and would have to wait until morning to find out. After I was able to muster the energy to pray with Sam, talking to God about our lack of reserves, Sam’s physical weakness only being hindered by such a procedure, our ultimate trust and faith in whatever God brings, but our need for His help, the neurosurgeon walked in just moments later and quickly assessed Sam’s condition. He said NO to this surgery! And said, in regards to the infection and the leaking incision, “That’s why God invented antibiotics.”!
  7. With uncertainty regarding the cause of the leaking fluid from the incision, there were several threats of needing to shunt Sam’s brain ventricle. They just weren’t sure if cerebral brain fluid was leaking from his incision or if it was normal healing fluid. There were a few times that Sam was cut off of fluids and food in order to prepare for this procedure. Thank God this was not needed, because it had a host of complications associated with this procedure. There is a high risk of infection and it would be a lifelong impairment.
  8. Antibiotics were prescribed for meningitis and a staph infection. However, it is questionable if there ever was meningitis or if God healed it. There was evidence initially of infection in the cerebral spinal fluid, but the culture taken from that fluid never grew any bacteria and Sam’s sickness was very responsive to antibiotics. Initially there was talk of 6 weeks of at home antibiotics or possibly more. Finally it was decided that he had only a 14-day total regimen with 4 of those days at home, we were amazed!
  9. After hearing of stories and researching the negative effects the powerful antibiotics have on the body, we asked for prayer for protection of Sam’s body. He has had NO negative effects, only positive!!
  10. Sam was given the gift of recovery free from the normal financial pressures he bears. Our friends and family gave us a total of $10,085, through a fundraiser organized by Maria Kristenson, as well as those who mailed gifts directly to us, along with a car! We have paid off some debt as well as 2 months of household and business bills!
  11. Family stepped up immediately and lovingly cared for our boys throughout this time. Never did our children have to feel too out of sorts; instead they had lots of grandma(s) and aunt(s) time! This allowed me to spend time with Sam daily! Jude even survived two nights in a row without momma! (This sadly caused me to realize he doesn't need me as much as I thought)
  12. The outpouring of prayers, service, practical gifts, and financial blessings has allowed us to flourish in the loving arms of the Body of Christ through this whole ordeal. Family and friends brought meals, organized by Tiffany Denton, and also groceries! We are not walking with our heads hung in defeat, beaten and bruised. NO! We are marching in marvelous victory, stronger than ever and better for having gone through this battle. What a beautiful idea He had – The Community of Believers! Thanks for all your support!

Kristie R. Koch

I would add one more praise, to make it a baker's dozen:

We are so grateful for Kristie's protection as she drove back and forth to Indianapolis, sometimes even in travel advisory conditions, and for the good health and strength that whole time, even when sickness was going around in the family.