Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017 Week 8: Craziness, Good and Bad

As quiet as last week was, this one was crazy, mostly in a good way.

Sunday I was privileged to get away mid morning to attend Malachi's baptism. 
Mike was sick, resting, trying to make it through robot build season.

Son Samuel and family attend The Gathering in Muncie, a very alive community of faith. The testimonies of the four being baptized projected on the large screens can be viewed here.

The baptisms were truly a congregational celebration and love fest. Each family participated in their loved one's ceremony.

I rushed back to our church for the luncheon and sharing time with our friends who serve in Indonesia. We knew Leilani years ago when she was a student at Taylor U. and were so privileged to host them Saturday through Wednesday.

Sunday evening Leah and family joined us at Ivanhoes. She remembered Leilani from youth group long ago.

Kevin and Leilani were very busy those days visiting and catching up with friends,
Mike and Team 1720 were intensely focused on getting the robot ready for Bag and Tag deadline Tuesday at midnight. They put in 16-18 hour days. Here are a couple screen shots I captured those last two days of craziness.

I decided to stick with my original plan to visit Mother in Winona Lake Tuesday. That was February 21st the fourth anniversary of Daddy's passing. Among the treasures I discovered this time as I looked through more of Dad's files, was this very brittle newspaper clippling--their wedding announcement.

I stayed up past midnight watching online all the houpla surrounding Robot Bag and Tag, and then several videos descibing the last minute craziness.
So I was quite awake amd aware that Mother was having trouble sleeping. She was up trying to find relief for stomach pain and nausea. Finally after the third or fourth time she asked me to take her to the ER.
The rest of the night was spent there undergoing tests. By early morning they admitted her, inserted a NG tube in hopes of resolving the bowel obstruction without surgery.
Ivan stopped by in the morning, Wednesday, and I drove home.

Meanwhile other family members faced illness. Kristie and Kayla ended up at the pediatrician's with their little ones. Rebecca was diagnosed with RSV and Jude the flu resulting in benign acute childhood myositis causing severe leg pain and trouble walking--scary stuff. Meanwhile my brother in Pennsylvania was hospitalized.

I spent a couple hours Thursday afternoon with the young'uns so Kristie could run some errands--always a joy and privilege to spend time with the grandkids.

Friday, Mike and I had tickets to a Josh Garrells concert at Taylor University! We've known him from before he became a sought-after awarded-singer, a good friend of our kids. Sam listens to his albums constantly. I could tell from watching the crowd response that they too have memorized Josh's songs.

We talked to him briefly backstage. He told us he'd been sick with respiratory issues for two months and didn't know if he'd be able to go on tour. He had only started singing again one day before leaving. He must have a lot of people praying for him as he travels and shares his powerful message in song. We thought his voice sounded better than ever.

Saturday I went back up to Warsaw to spend the day with Mother. There'd been progress in her condition. Here she is minus the NG tube, contentedly waiting for her second meal of the day. Even the liquid diet was a treat after all those days.

Today, Sunday, SIL Kim wrote: Mom is being released now and she's more than ready 🙂 !

Bowel obstruction resulting from scar tissue adhesions is a common problem after bowel surgery. Mother had colon cancer in 2001. Almost exactly a year ago she was hospitalized and they had to intervene surgically. We are so grateful that was not necessary this time.

And now we hear that Sam, who is away on a work trip in New Jersey, is sick with the flu. So we pray for help and healing and his safe return.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

2017 Week 7: Very quiet on the homefront

It was a very different week. Mike announced at the outset that the robotics team, at least those on the mechanical side, would be working every day. That was no surprise, this happens every year  as the deadline approaches.
However, abuelo did enjoy playing with funny little Rebecca at our impromptu game night Sunday evening.

Silly Selfies

Matt farkled again!
Monday I made it through the four hours of teaching, but then the head cold that was coming on hit with full force. Several days the only way to get some sleep was sitting in the recliner, 

During those quiet days, when I was not resting, I immersed myself in a thick file folder found in my father's desk, labeled CULVER--Dad's correspondence with Uncle Bob, Dr. Robert Duncan Culver. (Here I wrote about my last visit with him.)

Grandma Hoyt and Uncle Bob, 1938
I came across a photo of Uncle Bob in his younger days with his mother-in-law, my grandmother, the one I have been learning so much about recently.

With no other distractions, unable to go anywhere, I read and took notes. so impacted and inspired by these two great men. My father highly respected the scholarly wisdom of his brother-in-law, and they shared  about life, family and travels. I discovered some precious nuggets of family history and gained a better understanding of the Culver family members. 
It occurred to me that we are placed in families to love and learn from one another, like the great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12:1 that inspire us to run with endurance the race that is set before us.

I was fascinated by a small brown envelope and its contents. I knew Mother had always used her artistic ability to enhance Dad's handouts. In this case, back when they were both in Seminary, she helped out her brother-in-law, who was just beginning his teaching career.

I had to use google to figure out the Hebrew alphabet and lay out the letters as best I could--these patterns so well used and now, seventy years later, obsolete.

By week's end, I ventured out briefly. I like to get together with fellow writers and learn from them. But when they got me laughing I began to cough and sputter and choke. Ughh . . . lingering congestion.

Book signing at the local library

Friday, UStream was back on and I occasionally caught glimpses of the goings on in the mechanical room at MadJax. Can you see Mike making sparks fly?

And, here is a Saturday screen shot, just a few minutes ago.

The group in the back left corner is huddled around the robot, which still remains nameless.
It's 11:00 PM. I wonder when Mike will be home?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

2017 Week 6: Steamworks Rules

Lasting Beauty
The enjoyment of the anniversary bouquet lingers, fewer blooms but colors still vibrant.

We were back at MadJax for Super Bowl Sunday. But, of course, it could not be only about football. Not even such a national passtime could stop the engineering minds. They kept testing their latest adjustments to the robot on the under-construction STEAMWORKS game field.

That was the end of Week 4 of build season. Read about it here: Satellites and Build Week Four.
As of today, they have only 10 days left to solve remaining problems and bring together the final components of this yet-unnamed machine. Lets hope tired brains and bodies hold out!

Mother's 95 year-old body and mind are still active, though we notice a very gradual decline. She fell again a couple weeks ago and now is more careful to rely on the walker. Slowing down and change are hard for her!
I am grateful for brothers and sisters-in-law who live nearby, who look in on her and help with practical needs, money matters, and decisions. I try to make the hour-and-half trip every two weeks, Tuesday overnight. It is fun to share with Mother my latest discoveries from the past and hear her added comments and memories. This time I only got through four thick file folders. I think Dad had a hard time throwing letters and old documents away. Such rich history there. Future generations will not have those records to look back on.

Wednesday night we had the first real snow fall of the season, 2" to 4" that lasted more than a day.

My planned morning visit with Patryce Thursday was nearly called off due to icy roads, but then only postponed. The main roads were fine and a lovely tea awaited me in the afternoon.

Friday, our second attempt at Game Night, lacked the guest of honor. Leah and all her family were sick. But we had lots of fun with Sam's family playing Farkle and then Hand and Foot.

"Did you Farkle, Malachi?"
So Leah's birthday gifts are still waiting, and her flowers starting to wilt.

Saturday was a very long day for Mike and the team. If you do watch the game animation video above, and understand the four tasks of this year's robot--hang gears, climb rope, pick up and shoot balls--you might even have some suggestions for a name! 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

2017 Week 5: #47

This was the week of our 47th wedding anniversary. Routines continued as usual at this time of year, Mike waking at 4:30 AM or so to work on the problems weighing heavily on his mind and going in to the team shop almost daily. He oversees so many aspects of building the robot and the game field, as well as trying to keep the team running smoothly. 
It was week four of build season and their goal was to have a functioning robot by Saturday.

Even so, there were some sweet surprises: cards, flowers, many greetings on Facebook, and more.

Leah's painted rocks, a hearts puzzle,

Monday is my teaching day. Mike took this picture last week. I was comparing several textbooks.(Confession--only four of the photos this week are mine.) 

"Rita's new 4 monitor display"  Mike
After lesson planning all morning and then teaching four hours in the afternoon, I am always happy to go to Stephan's Monday Night Dinner. Alone this time, but worth the drive for the food, fun and laughter with friends. And the drive is not so bad with a good book to listen to and a beautiful sunset.

Tuesday, January 31st, the actual day of our anniversary, and also a team work day, would have been uneventful, but for a strong impression that had been brewing in my heart and mind all month--to take the party to MadJax, as a family! (I had checked beforehand with those in the know to make sure it wouldn't seriously disrupt the intense work schedule if we came during their half hour break time,) Stephan created a very meaningful centerpiece for our surprise celebration.

"My parents, Mike and Rita have been married 47 years today. This sculpture was created to celebrate both the longevity of their marriage and the fact that my dad is the lead Mentor for the Phyxt Gears Robotics club. I consider my parents' long commitment to each other to be one of the greatest gifts they've bestowed upon me." Stephan

Michael was surprised, maybe even in shock! And deeply honored to have his family see the work he does and loves so much.

It was the best gift ever to have the family together. Only a few were missing or came later.

Rebecca made herself right at home and especially liked following Moriah around or "working" with her. Safety glasses are required (even for toy bears).

Rebecca: "Is this Mecanum wheel oriented correctly?" Moriah: "You sure are cute." (Mike)

I don't have much else to say about the rest of the week, except for the usual--Michael roboticking and me putzin'.

I was thrilled to see that Sam has been able to work on what he loves--skateboards! Notice new colors and graphics. The top right design is based on Genesis 3:15--God speaking to the serpent, announcing His plan of salvation for mankind. 

Saturday was Leah's birthday. We will celebrate as a family next week. However, I did post a greeting on Facebook along with an old photo that reminded so much of Rebecca.

I attended a directed painting event at Let There Be Art, a studio out in the country. I got lost on the way there and was an hour late. Poor Leah never found it! We will have to try again another time.

And now, on to Superbowl fun. I think I'll root for Atlanta. We have friends there.