Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Advent Week Three

I am so grateful for Sundays when Mike does not go to the Matthews shop to work, and we get to spend time together. The Christkindlmarkt in Carmel was our destination that afternoon and we had a delightful time despite the cold. 

Pyramide and the crowds, a German village and train, ornament of the Magi, 2019 Christkindlmarkt mug
Oh, the memories that surfaced from nearly 50 years ago when we were first married and lived in Germany. Then I picked up a magazine in the Kulturecke (culture corner) and read all the way home, articles about Nurnberg and Vienna, Austria, cities where we lived in those early years.

Monday evening at Stephan's we continued the Jesse tree ornament project. Can you label each one?

We had a significant snowfall at the beginning of the week. I was grateful that it did not keep me from traveling to Winona Lake Tuesday. I visited Mother and attended her care plan conference. She is doing her best to hang in there and enjoy what she can at her age and with her limitations.  However, there've been moments of confusion lately. We're grateful for the caring people who look after her, and for a new roommate, someone she knew from church. 

Milder days followed. I spend a lot of time at the computer. This was the view one day, the snow gone and a colorful visitor at work, also pecking away.

Most writing has to do with the Christmas season--the wonderful connections and communication that takes place this time of year. And, of course, preparations for the holidays take up most of my time. However, our little group of writers still got together on Friday, shared finger foods and another delightful chapter by one of our members.

Immediately after, I rushed to the nearby elementary school for Rebecca's performance in the Christmas program. Parking was crazy and the gym was overcrowded with all the doting family members, grandparents, and great grandparents (that's me!). 
I followed Rebecca's Kindergarten class to her classroom and met her teacher, whose parents serve on the current O.M. ship and have stayed in our home!

Rebecca and Mrs. Shively
Did you know that Saturday was National Short Girl Appreciation Day? I didn't till after the fact, but it was a very appropriate day to act as one of Santa's elves that day to and help deliver Christmas gifts and food to struggling families. Our church has been involved in this program for many years, but this was my first time to participate in the very well organized process--choose a name, buy appropriate gifts; join a fun evening of gift-wrapping with friends, and cookies; a morning of delivering to homes, our CARriages filled to to the max.

We are not hosting the whole family at our house this Christmas; perhaps that has allowed me to be involved in other experiences. Add to that the fact that Michael is gone most of the time. 
Sunday afternoon, we stopped by the shop and he showed me what he's been working on as the deadline for build-season draws near. Hopefully everything will be in order and working by January 4 so they can take off running.
Michael installed additional heaters and built a whole dust collection system with intakes for each machine.
Heater; dust collection system

After all the rest of the stuff was brought in from storage, everything needed to be sorted and allocated. So, the place was a mess again, after the initial very presentable look for the open house events.

Machine shop 
I was impressed with the organization achieved so far.

Assorted materials, belts pulleys, and wheels
And I asked a lot of questions about the machines accumulated over the years--an impressive amount of tools.
Mill; wood band saw
sand blaster, powder coat spray booth and oven
To think that only three years ago, the shop moved into a newly built facility in Madjax. We trust there will be no more rushed seasons like this. We are really appreciating the closeness of the new headquarters, only 10 minutes for us. Unfortunately for several other mentors, it's their turn to make the longer drives.

Wishing you all a joy-filled Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Advent Week Two

More symbols of Christmas came out this week and found their place on window sills.

The week began with more seasonal events: the beautiful choir rendition at church; fall dance recital at Cornerstone for the Arts where Kayla teaches many classes; and the Taylor University Chorale and Symphony Orchestra concert. Whew, that was a lot in one day! Michael didn't go to the dance recital, but I just couldn't miss it.

To watch Kayla herself dancing a contemporary number with her students, go HERE.

The after-Monday-Night-Dinner Jesse-Tree project has been so much fun. I wonder what creative activity we could do after Advent. . .
Jesse Tree as of December 9. Mike and Rita's contributions.
The story of another family-member's creative passion and skills aired this week on Journey Indiana. Watch  Handcrafted in Indiana to learn more about our son Sam!

Wednesday, at the last minute, we attended Delta High School's fall concert. We had a front row seat, but couldn't see Elijah. This is the one glimpse of our handsome grandson walking off the stage carrying his trumpet.

Jude was sick with the flu, couldn't go to school. Sam and Kristie both had to work, so I spent the day with him. The chimney cleaner was due to come. I was rather fascinated with the process and his stories. He found a long-dead duck and explained that when travelling they tend to rest on chimneys because of the warmth, but they are clumsy and if they fall in often cannot get out.

Chimney sweep at work and the dead duck he retrieved
Strangely, I have no pictures of Jude, but we had fun playing games, piano duets and watching some shows. He seemed to be on the mend.

Moriah's last final was due Friday at 10, then she spent the day with us sharing work, meals, and fun. She cut wood with Michael in the morning, helped me decorate in the afternoon, and packed her things. We even watched a movie together before she left that night.

La despedida (The farewell) 

Michael continues to work every day at the shop in Matthews. Robot build-season begins in a mere three weeks and there is still a lot to do. Saturday was a work day and those present managed to finally move everything in from the storage building next door. Now they must sort, arrange and find a place for each item.

I had errands to run, but also was able to watch Rebecca's last day of a four-week basketball camp. Her group of the youngest did not play games, only practiced skills such as dribbling the ball and jumping (by far her favorite).

Advent anticipation accelerates as the days go by, so does the busyness. May we not lose sight of the wonder of the Incarnation--God with us!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tis the Season

Advent season has begun. A time of waiting. A time of preparation.
In our home this year, seasonal symbols and decor begin to appear one by one.

At Stephan's Monday evening meal we had fun drawing and coloring a week's worth of ornaments for a Jesse tree.

I finished a program this week and also started something new. For nearly a year I have been involved in InVitATION (INspire VITality And Tranformation In Our Neighborhoods), a program created and led by Taylor University health science professors and students
The need to incorporate movement into our daily schedule is stressed repeatedly. Writing tends toward a very sedentary lifestyle. I am hoping that what I finally started this week, will become a lasting practice, a habit. I walk (or get dropped off part-way) to the Taylor University library carrying my laptop and relevant materials in a nifty new backpack, and spend a couple hours writing. This has been very productive and enjoyable.
The weather this week allowed for the long and pleasant walks. I see interesting things on the way, for example these students enjoying the sunshine. Can you see what the guy is doing?

Once in the library, I am drawn to the various pieces of art. This first one is a fascinating sculpture. Can you see what materials were used? It interested me also because it was created in honor of a community friend when she retired after many years as librarian. 

I found a corner that became my own nook each time, and finally my writing got "unstuck" and I had something to present to my critique group on Friday.

Michael, of course, is still very focused on the robotics shop in Matthews. A second open house on Tuesday, was very well attended and we hope will result in more students for the 2020 team.

Shawn VanNess (team president) giving one family a tour
Mike Koch (lead mentor) talking about the New Year's Eve ball designed and created by team years ago

The rest of the week Michael worked steadily on the still-long to-do list, ticking off one task after another. For example, he installed four ceiling fans that will help distribute the warm air trapped up high in this large warehouse-type building. Thankfully, the heating system is working now in time for winter.

Kayla's days as our tap instructor are coming to an end. Wednesday we had the first of three final performances of the season.

The Dancing Divas at the Senior Activities Center
Taylor University's Silent Night basketball tradition has become very well-known nation-wide. Friday was the day! Each dorm wing chooses a costume theme. Off-campus students like Moriah are adopted by a dorm and participate in all their events and activities. Her wing chose to represent the cleaning crew.
Can you find Moriah?
Saturday afternoon was Zion's postponed celebration for his 10th birthday. He was sick on the earlier date. The delay worked in his favor weather-wise. He wanted to share the amazing "jungle gym" (I don't know if Sam's multi-faceted play structure has a name). I tried one or two of its many features. Kristie climbed the rope. The younguns, of course, had more fun trying out the numerous challenges.
In lieu of birthday cake, Zion requested an ice cream bar. And Sam made cotton candy for everyone.

The grand finale of our week was the now famous performance of the Messiah at the First Mennonite Church in Berne, the home of my maternal ancestors.
First Mennonite Church on the corner (right)

You can see/hear Handel's Hallelujah chorus in the video, but we were there in person!

Find us (if you can) on the end of the second row, right side of the balcony 

And that's only the beginning of this wonderful season of Advent!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


Another 2019-month comes to an end and we are grateful for health and strength to do all that comes each day.
November's sticker art--Venice 
Moriah has surprisingly had more free time lately and suggested we put together a puzzle now as she will be gone during January for an experience abroad. Both previous J-terms we've worked together on a 1000-piece Charles Wysocki Americana.
The problem is that I find puzzles quite addicting. As Thanksgiving drew near, I was in need of an intervention so I could get preparations under way. So the project rested on Moriah's bed a couple days while she was gone for Thanksgiving break. I have to confess to a relapse--the first evening I brought it back upstairs.

We finally finished the puzzle Sunday night after Moriah and her pet hamster came "home."


Tuesday evening was the first open house for the "new" East Central Indiana Robotics team. This walk-through video the night before shows the amazing transformation of the dingy old building.
When I went over in the afternoon to set out refreshments in the reception area, Iwas astounded at the progress even in the last 24 hours. 

Top right: welcoming bling in the front window and some of the numerous trophies
Top left: Caleb and Isaiah giving a tour, explaining the robot to our staunch supporter.
Lower left: Julia, team treasurer explaining the program and application process to potential student.
Lower right: Michael and Gary (woodworking mentor) talking with a very interested new mentor.
The Fall 2019 magazine from my alma mater, the GRACE Story, arrived this week. What a surprise to find this photo in the inner cover. I recognized eight members of the '43-'44 academic year. It is even possible that I was present as well, in utero! Can you pick out my three blood relatives?

Friday we drove up to Winona Lake and surprised Mother as she worked away in the ARTcare studio.

I had ordered sets of cards of Mother's paintings  (8 for $10). They were waiting for me, neatly wrapped packets in red ribbon. 

Top: Seasonal Theme
Bottom: Florals
We then had dinner together with my youngest brother and his new wife, Alan and Raquel.

Wedding pic borrowed from Facebook
Happy selfie with my new sister-in-law
We (Mike, his sister Diane, and I) also stopped at their house on the way home and got to meet Raquel's parents, and then had a tour of Alan's shop. We were impressed with nephew Nicolas' contribution. His design and decorating skills are evident. 

Global Auto reception area wall
Saturday evening was our own Koch family Thanksgiving. We are glad ALL could be present, so grateful for each member and for the love we share.

The younguns: Rebecca, Jude, Zion

Michael exhausted, worked all day; Matt; Karen and Stephan; Jimmy and Sam 
Top left: Malachi and Rebecca playing Mancala
Top right: Destiny and Skye (Kalani in utero)
Lower left: Proud Mama/Nana Leah
Lower right: siblings--Kayla and Skye

So much to be thankful for, including the hardships of the past year, God's presence and goodness always! 
In everything give thanks!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Week 47

This is the time of year when busyness intensifies and we have to be increasingly intentional to pause and enjoy the moments. This blog helps me do just that. I have to stop and reflect on each day and the highlights of the week.

Stephan driving off with a five-month supply of venison!
Yes, it is hunting season. Stephan has been here three times and had a very successful, well-aimed shot one day.
It is also birthday week for two grandsons: Malachi 21 on the 21st, and Zion 10 on the 23rd.

Favorite pics from years ago
Michael's second cataract surgery (right eye) was Tuesday plus two post-op visits.
And I had a third massage treatment. My friend therapist is  working long and hard on difusing the trigger points and releasing my left shoulder to gain greater mobility.

Wednesday my night to volunteer at Basics Jr..  Rebecca was feeling better, so I picked her up and while we waited there was time for a fancy braid.

Our little tapping troupe, the Dancing Divas (ha!) is wrapping up the year with a couple performances, sort of as a grand finale to our time with Kayla as our teacher. She has decided she has too much going on with the many dance classes she teaches at Cornerstone for the Arts in Muncie as well as keeping up with Rebecca's activities.
One of those was a four-week art program at Taylor. The Art Education and Art Therapy students prepared lesson plans and practiced on elementary age students from the community. I attended the 
Friday evening program to exhibit what the children had learned and accomplished.

Rebecca's art and photo opportunities 
Rebecca chose the abuela-Becca photo-background location, ha! I was running late and did not dress up for the occasion.

Speaking of "dressing up," Moriah sent photos of last weekend's Broom Ball, an annual "pick-a-date" tradition. This year four closest friends went together to play hockey on the ice with decorated brooms.

However, the main focus of the week was the "new" headquarters for the renamed East Central Indiana Robotics. Michael worked at the Matthews shop every available moment, and only rested the afternoon after surgery. The big push is to have the place in decent order for the first open house Tuesday the 26th.
Here you have glimpses of the rebuilding and the chaos and a video walk-through on the 19th.

Next time a progress report.