Friday, December 28, 2018

2018 Week 51: Christmas Chaos

Christmas is over, now it's time to reflect and recover.
Let's look back over the week.The Wednesday after the last blog post, I surprised Mother for a short visit. I was there for her quarterly care plan conference. Her annual cognitive and mood evaluation was better than the last one. She knew all the answers. Short term memory is to be expected at her age, but given some clues and reminders she is able to recall. And her mood and attitude are amazing. The social worker says, "If I live to be 97, I want to be like Mrs. Hoyt."

We looked at her new cards and photos, arranged them on the bulletin board, and visited Aunt Margaret.

A few of us enjoyed painting tiles again in our weekly art club, and chatting, of course.
My favorite is the one on the right.

Jimmy's gift needed to be delivered to free up space in Mike's car so we went over to their house and got to enjoy Leah's decorations.

Later that night, a note and photo told us that Jimmy and his gift had already bonded.

Almost every spare moment until Christmas was spent preparing and wrapping gifts, writing notes, mailing letters, cleaning and tidying the house.

Our first Christmas celebration event was Stephan and Karen's annual brunch--lots of good food and conversation, catching up with friends we hadn't seen in a long time. 

It was a beautifully sunny day.  Most of us went out for a walk to and through the woods. On the way past the little pond I noticed a couple frozen frogs. Are they simply hibernating? Will they come back to life?

Kayla couldn't forget the fun family tradition of her growing up years--Christmas Eve meal of artichokes and shrimp. She invited us over for an evening of snack type food and fun. We attempted the artichoke meal a couple days later at our family gathering.

How do you like Rebecca's horse? She had to settle for a stuffed one instead of the real thing.

Lego constructions were a team effort. Sorting the colors helped.

The next day Michael, Diane and I traveled North to have Christmas dinner with Mother in the main dining room.  

And finally on the 26th in the afternoon everyone came to our house. That's when things became happily chaotic.
We talked about who's birthday we were celebrating and what would we give Him. 
Jude (6) said, "Myself. He already has my gift."
We were reminded of the message of the song about the little drummer boy who honors God with his gift and talent of playing music. 
The number of Christmas stockings grows with each new girlfriend. However, this year I added a golden one on the stairs to represent Jesus and to remind us of how we may honor Him. 

Among the many gifts were a Kathryn Hoyt original painting for each of her Koch grandchildren.

Here are some of my favorite pictures. Thank you, Leah.

All the young uns 20 and under

Only a few years ago Elijah used to measure up to me every time he came over. He just couldn't wait to be taller than me, no great feat really. Look at him now at age 13, almost 14.

And now, the final family event is a three-day vacation in a big house near Madison, IN. More about that next week in the last Meemaw Moments post.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

2018 Week 50: Christmas Programs

The week began with a worshipful Advent cantata at church.

In the afternoon we went to Kayla's end-of-semester dance recital of her multiple classes.

Rebecca was in three of them. She seems to prefer tap.

Early Hip Hop Jazz (left top); Early Ballet (left bottom); Early Tap (right)
Monday evening was Delta's Middle School and high School band concert at Emmens. Unfortunately from our position on the right side of the auditorium, we couldn't see our handsome 8th-grade trumpet-player, grandson Elijah.

Wednesday was our tap group's last performance for the year, at the Upland Senior Activities Center.

The Dancing Divas
We had fun painting tiles again in our Thursday Art Club. This time we copied some snowmen figures from a placemat I took from my visit with Mother last week.

Favorite Christmas decorations have been showing up all week. Small Nativities replaced the turtle collection on the kitchen windowsill--Leah's clay set, complete with tiny gifts for each of the Magi (left); a teeny tiny one from Mexico (middle); and the cutest figures from Northern Argentina.

Michael helped set up all three Christmas trees stored away in the attic. 

One of my favorite Christmas-tree related photos shows how Stephan and Karen get theirs.

It was the last week of the semester for our resident student--the dreaded finals week. We rarely saw her. In fact she pulled a couple all-nighters and finally surfaced Friday. One of her engineering friends came over as well to get some shut-eye before the long trip home. 

Elaine and Moriah--in one of her rare resting-postures
It took all day Saturday for Moriah to finally rise, sort, pack, clean and eventually make her way home all the way to Muncie. We were grateful for the extra time to hang-out--a whole semester's worth of visiting!

The programs continued. Sunday, the 16th, children sang and acted out the Christmas story in churches around. And yesterday, was the second Monday we made our way to the huge Ball State University auditorium for yet another musical presentation--Royerton Elementary (Zion and Jude, 3rd grade and Kindergarten). The noticeable difference was that the content was entirely secular with no mention of the true Christmas story--Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ born to live among us. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

2018 Week 49: Christmas Cheer Everywhere

The Christmas star went up this week and other lighted specials such as the deer in the woods nearby, the wreath on the house, and two Christmas trees. Thank you, Michael!

Upland's annual Olde Tyme Christmas festivities happen the first Sunday in December with  carol singing and a tree-lighting ceremony. The same day, Kiddie Kampus puts on a special program in the morning at the church that hosts Rebecca's preschool. We were all there to watch and hear these cuties sing Christmas songs.

The weather, appropriately cold, helped to adorn our surroundings for the season.

Indoors, Christmas decor is slowly taking shape, reflecting the message of God's gift.

At our ladies-group brunch Wednesday we reflected on:

  • Mary's gift - TRUST. "I am the Lord's servant. Let everything you've said happen to me."  
  • Joseph's gift - OBEDIENCE. "And Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took her as his wife."
Thursday we were able to meet again to do art. This time we painted tiles with ceramic paint, a bit more serious and lasting. Leah finished both of hers before any of us even had one. We hope to complete ours next week. 

I attempted the Argentine shield or coat of arms, intending to pair it with one of the US on my second tile. However, looking at the image, I'm not sure I'll be able to replicate it on a tile!

I visited Mother Friday to coincide with her art studio time. I asked for a project to work on next to her. I also picked up all the orders for family and friends--prints and card sets from her 2018 art collection. As always we had a good visit together. She showed me letters, photos, cards that had come in. We rearranged her bulletin board. At meal we laughed and chatted with the other ladies at the table. 

I also approached Dr. Homer Kent at another table and engaged him in a very interesting conversation. I asked him about his memories of Uncle Herman.
"Oh, he hired me!" Then went on to tell me much more.
His father moved the family, from Washington DC where he was a pastor, to Winona Lake where Homer would attend Grace Seminary. There were no mega churches back then, so when the church grew from 88-500 during his father's pastorate, that was significant.
Homer was not happy about the move. He had enjoyed growing up surrounded by historic sites.
He had an undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University and had done exceptionally well in English Composition. So when Dr. Herman Hoyt, Grace president, looked over the transcripts of incoming freshmen he picked him out as a potential teacher in their new collegiate division. At that time men were returning from the war and wanted to go to Seminary but lacked sufficient college training.
At the end I said, "So you ended up staying forever. How many years?"
"Fifty years, ten of those I was president."
He succeeded Uncle Herman as president of Grace College and Seminary from 1976-1986.

Saturday, our little tap group of mature women, the Dancin' Divas, had our first performance for the residents of the University Nursing Center. We failed to get a group photo there, but I had taken this one at our practice session wearing our new uniform, these shiny silver vests that flow and help cover up our bumps and bulges ;-) .

Other family members' art forms this week:
--skateboards, a Christmas collaboration

These limited Christmas Collaboration decks are now available. Pressed in Cincinnati by hand in #fickleskateboards studio & hand shaped right here in Muncie by #lifeskateboards in-house graphics by @benjamin_blakely $70 plus shipping, get them while you can! #midwestbluecollar #madeinmuncie #skateboard
--ice sculptures, Stephan's many pieces and demos for various festivals. 

Watch him in action here.

How are you celebrating this wonderful season?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

2018 Week 48: Appointments and Celebrations

Almost every day for a week I've had medically related appointments. It either says I'm falling apart or I'm just very efficient and schedule these to get them over with--annual physical, blood draws, dentist, cataract surgery post-op, and a root canal retreatment. None were photo-worthy!
However, most days there was also occasion to celebrate and prepare for the Advent season.

Michael is very  wise and careful with how he spends his time. Sunday afternoon he finished filling in the cracks in the driveway while the weather was mild.

He also takes advantage of breaks in the weather to get some bike riding in.

And it's the last week for deer hunting so father and son have been out nearly every morning early regardless of the weather. Stephan brought in a large doe on his last day.

Michael tackled a huge job--resurfacing our new-after-the-housefire sectional. The faux leather had begun to disintegrate and peel. We bought the fabric and had someone lined up to reupholster it all, however through a series of very unfortunate life circumstances, the person was unable to do the job.
As is his custom, Michael researched all the options and decided to try a paint-refinish method. He worked long and hard. The two different colors he ordered never achieved the perfect match. Now it looks gray. What do you think?

About my week:
Monday morning was tap class. We're preparing four routines for two upcoming performances.
A special little visitor entertained us with her tap routine.

Later that day, instead of the usual exercise class, we had a special dinner to thank the two Taylor University students who led the program.

Wednesday, yet another celebration lunch with a couple of friends.

Only a few Christmas decorations have made their way to their rightful spot. However, Thursday I began to drag the boxes out of the attic, sorting and assessing mice-damage.

A couple Facebook pics tell me some family members are way ahead of me.

Saturday, Diane joined us for a favorite event to open the Christmas season--Sing Noel at Taylor University. We had choice seats close to the aisle where students performed a joyful ethnic dance, and our friends and neighbors danced to lovely waltz music.

Since we were in the same building where Moriah spends most of her waking hours, we surprised her after the event. She showed us several of her projects for Circuits class, her most demanding and time-consuming. They are counting down the days till the end, truly hoping there is life after Circuits!

Every attempt at conversation these days begins with, "Are you ready for Christmas?" By now you've guessed my answer. What about you?