Sunday, December 27, 2015

2015 Christmas Week

I've really enjoyed these mini nativities on the kitchen window sill and thinking about the story they represent. It has to be the most repeated story.

Teeny tiniest from Mexico                          Nativity from Argentina                                        Leah's clay creation 
The greatest story ever told is repeated in many forms of music throughout the entire season anywhere and everywhere.

Sunday morning the smallest children sang a couple carols. Such sweet faces and genuine expressions!          

Monday was basically dedicated to calculating final semester grades for the last class, Tuesday to more shopping, and Wednesday to wrapping and labeling gifts. 

Thursday, Stephan and Karen hosted their traditional annual Christmas Eve brunch.

Great food and fellowship. Always a fun time with old and new friends.

Christmas morning dawned mild and sunny. Deer grazed in the pasture.

We had all morning to prepare for the family gathering.
Among the first to arrive was my favorite great granddaughter. We quickly discovered that our Christmas outfits matched!

As usual Rebecca was the favored little princess.

Michael served us our choice of turkey and/or ham.

The Christmas story this year held everyone's attention. It was told by very small children and acted by adults--Movie on Cwismas.

The pile of gifts loomed monumental, even the stockings on the loft railing were stuffed full. Every year I think and talk about cutting back, but it never happens. Perhaps it is a small but fitting reflection of the divine generosity we celebrate at Christmas.

However, we were reminded by the absence of one of our family members that far more important than presents is presence.

The little ones enjoying some new toys.
The lovely Kayla modeling a new hat
Everyone lingered as late as possible, enjoying, eating, laughing, playing games. Sam and Kristie's boys spent the night. This scene reminded me of similar ones many Christmases past (minus the pottery display).

We continued the family fun the next morning. At one point I sat at the piano to play and sing Christmas carols. I used a Little Golden Book from my childhood and had to laugh when I saw the names and how to read them. At the time I only had two brothers. Two more were born years later.

What surprised me most, and made me very happy, was the sustained interest of the little guys. We actually got through ALL the carols. Of course, toward the end, little hands were playing along.

So now Mike and I are taking off for a couple days alone!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

2015 Week 51: Merry Christmas!

Christmas greetings coming and going. . .

Our Christmas card
Semester winding down. On my last drive to Muncie, on a sunny afternoon, I was surprised by this beautiful rainbow.

A surprise visitor, friend and fellow-potter, Marty Price, on his way from picking up his latest wood-fired pieces.

Tuesday, December 15, the long-awaited Royerton Elementary all-school Christmas program! Over the years it has grown in quality and popularity requiring the use of Ball State University's Emmens Auditorium!
We have two grandsons who are students there this year: Elijah in his last year (5th grade), and Zion in Kindergarten.
The entire school joined in the performance of A Party in a Pear Tree musical. Elijah was the partridge stuck in the pear tree, the lead role. Kristie crafted a very colorful costume and he was hilariously funny.

A grand performance. . .leaves the bird tired and thirsty!
Here a couple samples:

I spent a morning diligently working on end-of-semester grades (NOT my favorite part of teaching!). As I looked out the window I was entertained by the squirrels chasing each other from tree to tree, up and down and around.

Michael had several robotics-team related meetings this week. The team is outgrowing their current facilities and are increasingly interested in a possible move to a bigger building in downtown Muncie.

I invited my walking-friends for a birthday brunch Saturday, so I had to have my house reasonably clean and ready. Midweek I stressed about it wondering what I'd gotten myself into, but soon got over it, and all came together amazingly well.

Mike had escaped to the robotics shop, one of his favorite hangouts, and came back later that afternoon with three grandsons to give Sam and Kristie a little time to catch up and get some Christmas shopping done. Sam had been gone with his restaurant outfitting job for a record sixteen days.
Grandpa and Elijah watched action shows together while the little ones and I had fun together. We played games, read books, walked in the woods, on and on. No one interest lasts very long at that delightful age.

"Let's find the hugest ginormous tree."
So, friends, have a very joy-filled celebration remembering the greatest invasion of human history. And to think that such a spectacular event, though not widely known or understood at the time, has become the greatest story ever told!

Monday, December 14, 2015

2015 Week 50: It's beginning to look . . .

 It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas. . .
Some decorations have found their special place.
Others lay around waiting, hoping to be displayed.

Creative moments to lighten the last week of teaching, resulted in fun new ornaments from last year's photos.

Monday Night Meal at Steph and Karen's has the same effect, especially when this fun family is there.

My year-end letter, written the week of Thanksgiving, started out 2015--Year of the Robot. Half a page listed all the activities and involvements related to the robotics team Mike mentors. And, it's not over! Since then there have been new developments and activities--the possibility of moving the shop and growing the team, seeking more sponsors, inviting guest speakers, and promoting the program. 

Mike sharing at Inspire Academy
I had many fun photography opportunities. A friend asked me to take some photos to include in her annual letter. Well, "Dawling" Dorothy is full of fun even though not able to do or go as much as she'd like.

For six months she has been without most of her teeth, waiting on new ones. For one reason or another her dentures have been delayed, lost, postponed, refitted. . . you name it!
So she wanted to show the many faces she can make!

 The last day of class I tried to get photos of my students being normal, silly, and serious. Turns out latter is hard to do.

"Serios, por favor."
Sunday was a very full day!
Kayla taught 15 dance classes this semester at Cornerstone for the Arts in Muncie, mostly the young and very young. Twelve of her groups participated in the Christmas show. I found perfect seating to capture each performance on camera.

 For more cuteness you can see all my photos on Facebook at Kayla Kern's Dance Students.

Later that evening I was invited to Navidad Latina where I met many students from Latin American countries and took many more photos.

 Michael wanted me to take a picture of one of his meals. This is one of his favorite methods of cooking--roast everything in the oven on this one tray. ¡Muy delicioso!

Mike found time for sculpting creativity. At last he found an image that inspired him and was compelled to get back into his studio. Surprisingly this is the result of only three or four hours.

Only ten days to complete the preparations for the biggest celebration of the year! Let's enjoy every minute.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

2015 Week 49: Beauty in many forms

Last Sunday Stephan posted a photo of the finished competition piece he designed for the Great Lakes International Ice Carving Competition in Buffalo, New York--a pelican breaking the surface of the water to catch a fish.

Liquid Lunch
 Thursday he was carving locally for the Light Up DWNTWN Muncie event.

And Friday he was carving all day downtown Indianapolis in the Geoargia Street festivities surrounding the Big 10 Championship game.

Another family member in the news this week was granddaughter Kayla. She teaches 15 different classes of dance at Cornerstone for the Arts in Muncie.

Cornerstone Center for the Arts to host first Holiday Show & Sale

Now my photos for the week.
I watched another form of beauty when these blooms appeared from the $1 bulb I purchased at a holiday craft sale. (Can't remember the name.)

From outside looking in. From inside.

My chicken tortilla soup lunch at Common Grounds Friday was so pretty I had to take a picture. It was also quite tasty. I've had an added appreciation for the ability to enjoy food, after being sick for four days. Seems I caught what Mike had over Thanksgiving. Gratefully, in spite of little food and digestive misery, I was able to keep up with basic responsibilities including teaching

I came home from my Friday meetings with the writers group and later with my neighbor-friend, and found Mike majorly multi-tasking.

Notice his complex to-do list, and the two screens he operates simultaneously--a movie on the left, and on the right-hand screen, a photo to add to his folder of inspirational images for future bronzes. He has so many interests and so much on his mind, that he often wakes up very early and gets to work.

Friday and Saturday, after a full week of each just keeping up with our responsibilities, Mike and I enjoyed several outings together. We hoped to see the lights in Muncie, instead we ended up at the Civic Theatre and saw our friend's son act in Miracle on 34th Street.
Saturday we went to a John Peterson's Pottery Christmas Open House. His studio is so close to Sam and Kristie's house that we swung by for a brief visit. We got to hug the grands, chat with the little ones, admire and be inspired by the Christmas decor. . .

. . . and we spotted a partridge (must've fallen out of a pear tree). [Stay tuned for future appearances.]

We also went to our favorite Taylor program, Sing Noel.

I have barely begun decorating the house for Christmas.

Today, Sunday, was Upland's Olde Tyme Christmas festivities. I joined a couple friends on the Tour of Homes, and hopefully came away more inspired to decorate and enjoy it!

Here are just a very few things that caught my attention in the places we visited.

One home was noted for its collection of items from around the world.

From Iraq, Oman, and Russia
In another home, among the many, many decorative touches, I noticed these stylized pieces and thought they would interest the sculptors in the family.

Hopefully next week I can share some of our own Christmas displays. However, I do want to keep it simple and not stress over it and focus on the message of Christmas--God with us, Christ came to dwell among us.

Monday, November 30, 2015

2015 Week 48: Giving thanks

This week in the USA we emphasize giving thanks. 
Great numbers travel distances to gather with their families and feel most grateful for relationships.
My brother Lynn came from Las Vegas to spend a couple weeks with Mother. We invited all our Midwest family to join us on Thanksgiving Day. 

Mother surrounded by three of her five children--Lynn, Alan, Rita

The matriarch herself

I had to teach Monday. After that I was able to worry about focus on the fact that we were expecting 28 for Thanksgiving dinner. I'd wake up in the morning trying to work out seating arrangements in my mind. Working steadily, slowly, area by area, everything came together. I was so happy when I figured out how to arrange the many plants in the solarium and make room for three guests. Next I set up the table in my craft room with its three inserts.

I was very intentional about staying out of the kitchen in order to focus on hostessing--welcoming and interacting with everyone. Mike wanted to cook and others offered to bring food. The big day arrived. Ha! So much for my resolve. Mike was sick and unable to participate!

However, Stephan and Karen had come very early so he could have one more opportunity to hunt. So they helped me prepare as well.

Karen even went out for a run in the nice weather.

Here she comes!
Earlier in the week both Mike and Stephan brought in some venison for the winter. Can you tell how many?

In the end, only 26 showed up and found a favorite spot. Kayla's little family in the solarium made such a pretty picture in the sunshine surrounded by greenery. I went outside to look in and get a photo. Not until I looked at the photos online did I see the photo-bomber!

Neice Tina came all the way from Elkhart to spend the day with us. We anticipated the encounter between Rebecca and Simon, almost two. Sure enough, she went to give him a hug and kiss. He would have no such thing, and was happy to escape up the stairs and play with the train set.

Another little one, Tina's two-and-half-week-old Betsy, made the rounds, getting acquainted with her extended family.

Hmmmm. . . are Sam & Kristie being inspired to try for a girl?
There is a saying in Spanish: "Muchas manos en un plato hacen mucho garabato." Literally, "Many hands in one plate make a mess." No mess here! The many hands worked together to clean up after the meal. By the time everyone left, there was not much left for me to do.

Diane and I played a game she enjoyed a lot.

The next day Sam and Kristie dropped off Elijah to spend a couple days with us while they went away for a deserved getaway.
We watched movies and played games and enjoyed our tall ten-year-old grandson.
He learned some chess strategies, but was unbeatable at Hand and Foot!

Tomorrow it's back to work, grateful for these few lazy days.