Monday, May 29, 2017

2017 Week 21: New Beginnings

More birthday roses

As the guests arrive before each Monday dinner, we've been going back in the woods to check out the progress on the cabin Stephan has been building for Karen as a writer's getaway. It is finished!

Tuesday I headed up to Mother's and stayed through Thursday. Over the weekend the guys, four of them, had moved the piano and other large items into Mother's new apartment in the Grace Village Assisted Living building. Then Tuesday, we moved Mother in, but it took a couple more days to get her settled with all the things she needs and enjoys.
We sorted through the accumulation of years and took numerous loads over on a flatbed. Mother appreciated being involved in the decision-making process. After hauling a few loads over, Kim decided to simply take pictures with her smart phone for Mother to see and say Yay or Nay. Many things she did not remember and several brought back memories and stories from the past. One special one stands out. Among the packets of cards and correspondence from the past, was a sweet note from Dad:
This gift is to express my love and appreciation, but it comes with strings attached. It can be used only to buy necessary equipment to get started in artistic painting.  Sorry I have kept you so busy that only after 51 years you'll be able to bring to light all that artistry which has been pent up within for so long.
And hidden in the envelope was a $20 bill so we wondered whether she'd ever bought the paints and Mother couldn't remember anything until the next day when a wooden box surfaced containing oils and brushes.

Then she remembered and commented regretfully that she had done very little with it and now it was probably too late. Those tubes are dried up, but Mother's artistic talent may still come alive and flourish! There is an art studiio at Grace Village and she is now signed up to join other residents for lessons on Mondays! It's never too late. Another Grandma Moses perhaps?

Interestingly, my experience is very similar. I also have an art box with dried up paints, a long-ago gift from my sweet husband. Maybe it's time . . .

We couldn't have asked for a more perfectly timed smooth transition. They provided a roll away bed for me and I was able to spend those first couple days there to help Mother find her way around the place, and learn the new routines.

I came home with a car load of extra things Mother no longer needs or wants. I displayed them around the house so that when the family came over Friday for Mike's birthday game night they could pick out anything they wanted or could use.

The little white book case had my name on it long ago. I think I can find a place for it. 
One of the treasures we discovered, scrunched up in a shoe box was Mother's wedding dress. I hung it up to show off her handiwork Now I'd like to find the best way to have it cleaned and restored.

The occasion for celebration was Michael's 73rd birthday. Of course we snacked and sang the Krazy Koch song.

Before that, however, and just in time before the rain came, most of the grandkids tried out the zip line. Here's Kayla ready to take off. For a video of her zipping down (screams included) you'll have to ask Matt! However Kayla recorded another descent which you can view here.

The indoor fun was a crazy chaotic round robin game of ping pong.

Game rules                                     Let the game begin                               Crazy-fun chaos ensues

Zion and Jude stayed overnight and kept us well entertained. In the absence of photos (how could that have happened???) I'll include bits of conversations with Jude. 
At breakfast--
Grandpa: "Eat your cereal."
Jude: "It's not cereal, it's oatmeal."
Grandma: "Okie dokie."
Jude: "Don't say Okie dokie. Say, Yes."
Grandma surprised: "Why?"
Jude: "I don't like it. It's weird." 

We dropped them off at home on the way to yet another robotics graduate's open house. We've enjoyed these opportunities to celebrate and meet old friends.

At the end of the day, and after a nap, we went out for yet another perfect tandem date.

Can anyone guess where we ate?

We look forward to several more weekends celebrating accomplishments and new beginnings.

Monday, May 22, 2017

2017 Week 20: Tis the season . . .

. . . for birthdays, graduations and open houses.

Birthday roses--3 for 73!
Nice surprise. Thank you, Michael! Next year four roses?

We worked together Monday morning--Michael cut and chopped up the large maple, and I stacked branches and loaded fire-wood into the trailer.

We unloaded and stacked the logs. I commented on how enjoyable it was to work together. My mother set a good example. She worked along side Dad in so many different projects.

Speaking of Mother . . .
She had invited me to a Ladies Tea in honor of Mother's Day, so I drove up to Winona lake Wednesday.

My siblings and I had planned to begin the move to the Assisted Living apartment at that time. That was not possible as the place was not quite ready and some papers were missing. Instead, Mother and I had fun going through drawers and cupboards, discovering forgotten items, sorting, stacking, packing, giving away treasures accumulated over the years.

We took breaks often to read letters Mother wrote to her parents. We got through the year 1945, twenty letters and post cards that covered the story of their graduation from Seminary till we left on a ship for Argentina.

I was a toddler at the time, my exploits and interruptions mentioned often. Now I know when my passion to write began.

Kim and I had also planned another happy interruption to the moving process, to celebrate my birthday Thursday with as many of the local siblings as could make it.

I had thought it would only be a strawberry shortcake, but Kim and Sharon put together a wonderfully tasty meal--the best Alfredo sauce ever, my favorite Argentine-style-seasoned salad, and strawberry dessert! :-) I ate too much. :-(

The Hoyt birthday-gang.

All weekend we celebrated graduating robotics students.
Saturday was the homeschool graduation. We knew several of the graduates but were heavily involved in celebrating Moriah, one of this year's PhyXTGears stars. (Click on her name to open the link, watch the video and see the surprise guest.)

The cake; Mike and 1720 alums; Moriah's open house; las amigas (yet another alum); Moriah's walkway

Sunday afternoon we enjoyed two more open houses, many fun conversations, and then went to Delta High School for Malachi's award ceremony. (Click on his name to watch the video.)


It was so good to see the whole family!  We haven't seen Kristie since before her surgery. The recovery has not been easy. She'd had a busy day and was glad to get home and put her feet up, the best way to keep her heart rate down.

We, on the other hand, needed to get ours up!

Monday, May 15, 2017

2017 Week 19: Mother's Day and more

A photo of my favorite flowers before they fade away. I mentioned an area where I wanted to plant lillies of the valley. So Michael ordered a bunch and planted them! Next year hopefully we will have many more of these fragrant beauties.

After Monday meal at Stephan's I walked up and down the lane taking pictures.

 And on the way home  we stopped to catch this view of the sunset and a couple of geese enjoying the flooded field.

This was the last week of the semester so after final tests and speaking evaluations on Monday, I spent a day or two calculating and submitting final grades.

Michael took advantage of the good weather this week to accomplish several outdoor tasks. He cut the tall grass around the bee hives so he could monitor their activity unhindered. He replaced the old broken down steps leading down to the lower level.

And can you guess what he's installing below?

Tuesday and Thursday evening robotics meetings started up again although not many students have ventured back yet after the intense competition season.
The team press release was published in this week's local paper, a two page large spread!

Wednesday, Rebecca came to our tap clsas to "help" her Mommy teach, so a selfie with abuela was in order.

Thursday I drove up to Grace Village to visit Mother and  be there Friday for a special lunch with a retired missionary, Alice Peacock. She spoke of the current state of the work, the many new churches. So interesting to hear of the growth of the Grace Brethren mission now totally under national leadership after 100 years, while at the same time reading Aunt Margaret's fascinating letters from the early years.

My visit coincided with  an opportunity that opened up for Mother to move into the Assisted Living area. We took her up to see the apartment she will be moving into this coming week.

Pondering the move
I was glad to be home again Friday afternoon. Mike was out riding, his longest one yet, and pain-free! I suggested we start tandem-dates again. So today, Sunday was our first of the season (and my last as a 72 year-old.) We rode some 12 miles.

Kayla invited us over for a Mother's Day cookout.

Our hosts
 Rebecca insisted on going outside and took me for a  walk/run through the neighborhood.

We passed these lovely poppies and picked some other flowers on our way.

Other family updates:
--Elijah broke his wrist last Sunday and is wearing a short cast for about four weeks.
--Kristie still has some very bad days and nights. After the type of surgery she had it takes a long time for the rearranged organs and the digestive system to function normally.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

2017 Week 18: Surprises

This week we were intentional about recovery. For Michael it meant staying away from MadJax and robotics, and for me resting more to get over a cold.

Today I discovered these beauties growing by a side of the house where no one will see them.

We have a spy-bird, or rather a cowbird that spies on us persistently. He sits for hours on the deck chair by our window looking in (or perhaps watching tv with us).

Jude was with us overnight Tuesday and most of Wednesday, the day I came down with a cold.
Among many other fun things, we played Connect Four.
Surprised to win
Michael attended to chores on the homefront when and where possible. Heavy rain and cold weather most of the week hindered some.
However his first honey harvest of the season was surprisingly abundant.

A bigger surprise was when he went out and discovered that some of his bees had swarmed. He was just in time to rescue and relocate them.

Thursday evening was the opening of the graduate exhibition of the Herron School of Art. We went with Stephan and Karen to see our friend Stefan Eicher's MFA thesis work.

"He laughed" (60 x 55")                         "the Opposite of Fear" (60 x 84")                             "The You in I" (60 x 72")

He welcomed us warmly and invited us to break bread together, while cutting into carefully carved grenade-shaped butter.
Three large oil and acrylic canvases covered the wall behind him and lining the floor below a row of bullet-casings become pencils. The deep and layered significance of the exhibit, in his words:
"Violence, whether physical or psychological, is sustained by the act of 'naming'--placing people into categories of 'the other' based on a singular difference in identity. Art, by its very nature, works best when it breaks a viewer's categories of visual certainty and ability to 'name.' My work seeks to break the 'violence of naming,' by breaking the 'naming of violence,' and in the process explores the multi-valency of identity and the human connections between people." 
I especially liked the painting on the right which is based on a historical photograph--in the midst of war, surrounded by grenades laying about, fellow humans share tea.

On the way home we were delightfully surprised by the food at a new restaurant in Hamilton Town Center--Fresh to Order, F2O. 

Before the rain and cold set in, earlier this week, I took a walk to see what surprises awaited in our outdoors.

Here are  photos from two weeks before.

And the pond area two weeks apart.

After the successful swarm-rescue, Mike put out a notice on FB to let him know of any swarm-sightings. Today after church he responded to a swarm-alert Karen texted. So he has successfully populated yet another box he made last year for just such an occasion.

Did your week hold any surprises?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

2017 Week 17: Worlds and sooooo much more!

I like to open each week with flowers. This time I couldn't resist borrowing Leah's photos of our little flower princess.

"Hair by Nature and Nana"
I am really enjoying the fields of yellow, almost hate to see them mowed away. No worries, the abundant rain has made mowing difficult. The bees also appreciate the delay.

New spring growth
Monday before the meal, we surveyed the two new buildings in progress. Stephan's Christmas gift to Karen was a writing cabin in the woods. He is still working on it and also setting up his work area for milling and assembling materials for their future timber frame house.

Tuesday early morning was Kristie's long-awaited surgery. She had suffered from a rare and painful condition for years. What the surgeon found proved the timeliness of the procedure. They were able to cut away all that was encasing the celiac artery and restricting the flow of blood (MALS). We are so grateful for a successful outcome.

The healing and pain control will take time, but so far the progress is on schedule. 
Many have stepped up to help with food and child care, and especially love and prayer. 

The other huge event of the week was the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) World Championship. Mike and the team traveled to St. Louis on Wednesday. (I left the next day with three others.)

The night I was alone, severe storms raged here, The power was out for a couple hours and trees blew down in our woods.

Our car load arrived in time for a couple qualifying matches and the opening ceremonies, one of the few times Michael could join me in the stands. 

Opening ceremnoy

These were very intense days for mentor/coach Mike and the drive team. When they were not on the field competing, they were back in the pit trying to fix the most recent malfunction or on the practice field testing the latest improvement.

Some of us were able to get away between matches to visit the famous Arch. I learned that it is the tallest monument in America! Do you know how high it is and what it conmemorates?

I watched the documentary and studied the wall depicting the construction of this amazing memorial.

Another fascinating attraction we visited Friday evening was the City Museum, an undescribably crazy place.

The multilevel eclectic playground/fun house was crowded with young people, robotics teams from all over. . . . and a few older folks like us.

But you probably want to know how our team fared at that level of competition. I will say that our wonderful robot did not perform as it had on its home field and suffered many setbacks. We did not make it to alliance selection like the last time two years ago, but we were the third pick of the team that has won several championships. Read more in this press release Muncie Robotics Team Competes in World Championships. You may also want to be reminded of our trip to Worlds two years ago, go here.

Meanwhile back in Indiana other important events were taking place.

Malachi and Lexi's senior prom
We traveled back Sunday and were just in time for Kayla's many dance students' recital. She danced with the adult tap class, led the younger classes either from on stage or from the front row, and acted with the Annie's themed musical theatre group's performance. Very impressive program!

Needless to say, we've been exhausted ever since, trying to catch up on sleep and chores, and now I am fighting a cold.