Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summer Evenings

This spring we've enjoyed lovely bike rides and leisurely family walks in the evenings.....but I'm quickly learning SUMMER EVENINGS aren't  pleasant as the heat rises. The rising heat seems to activate the wasps and mosquitoes, as well.
Our new trend seems is staying inside in the air conditioning.....I'm dreaming of a soak in the hot tub...but even *I* am not dedicated enough to jump in when it's 108*. 

Monday, June 29, 2015


Both girls needed to see an Oral Surgeon - we did that today.

We learned a few things at this new office.   I learned to calmly and patiently talk to the receptionist about the viewing choice in the waiting room. "I've not seen a soap opera in a long time. I guess you don't realize how inappropriate they are until you're watching them with your 9 yo sitting beside you."

They apologized and turned it to the home shopping network...which beat the stuff on Days of Our Lives - criminey.

Stacia was  alarmed we were not at 12 Bridges. Oops. I thought she realized Dr. Zanzi referred her to another.  Today was just a consult.

They called us back and the tech took Arielle's blood pressure - great. She took Stacia's - 129/89. She told Stacia it was obvious she was nervous. Stacia agreed and said something to the effect that anyone would be nervous about THIS.

Arielle is used to "clean shaven Air Force dentists." Her face was priceless when the surgeon walked in with a full beard and a turban.  He was quite friendly and asked her why she was moving to Oregon...which led to talks about what she wants to do with her life....which led to questions about her faith and the faith of many in Japan and more. It was quite fun to sit back and watch. I did tell Arielle in the future she could say, "I want to teach English as a second language in Japan," if she  wanted to avoid the faith discussion. But, why? He brought up the questions and she fielded them well.  He asked about her t-shirt. She was wearing our family shirt. We got to quote a bit of Scripture too....though she was flustered and flubbed that one earning her a fair dose of teasing from the doc.

The earliest they can get Arielle in for her wisdom teeth is 14 July. They'll put her on standby for earlier. This means she can't move to OR until after 21 July. It also means we are unlikely to go to OR/WA on 15 July. It seems we are not meant to take a trip in July...... ::snort::

Watching the girls deal with a new situation as priceless. Watching Arielle share her plans was priceless.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


are made for worshiping , catching up with old friends, making new friends, enjoying lunch as a chapel family, skyping with a friend from Misawa, doing nails, reading, naps

Working on a puzzle
Playing Dixit

Ice cream (or hummus and carrots)


An episode or two of the Andy Griffith Show.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


Michael called Friday morning to say he'd like to have a family for dinner. Making new friends is always  GREAT MOTIVATION to get our Friday chores done. I had promised the kids I'd take them to "Inside Out." We headed out for a 1300 showing, picked up some dinner items and headed home. I missed the message that we weren't having company after all - but it was nice to have the house clean and an easy dinner all ready to go.  
It gave us time to pursue the DECLUTTERING!  I decided the easiest way to decide if things would go in the donate, priceless family heirloom, or essential trailer pile was to take photos....lots of photos. The things I think may be donations are now in a private facebook album.  The elder Gherkins get first shot in claiming items....several of them are starting new homes. Score for them!  I'm going to do my best, after an item is in the album, to either find it a home or donate it. Rather than share photos of Panini makers, waffle irons, slow cookers and couches....let's move on to SATURDAY.
Michael and I headed to Lowes to look for supplies to do a few trailer remodels. I want a backsplash and was hoping to find "smart tiles." No luck. I did find quite a few on Amazon. I also wanted some sort of laundry line and a bike rack.  Michael was looking for hardware to convert an entertainment center to more storage for the "queen" room and for generators and portable BBQs.  RV's don't do well in long-term storage. They need to be used. We didn't know this when we stored ours for the four years we were in Japan. The heat caused the glue to release on the contact paper which covered the wood (in other words we THOUGHT it WAS wood). This paper has been peeling off the wood.....we purchased a heat gun to remove all of it and paint the wood work. Michael suggested I look for colors..... I did. I'd also like to paint the slide out a nice burgundy color. 
It turns out Michael meant to pick a color of WHITE to paint the spots the WHITE paper used to cover....I think a bit of color accent would be fantastic. 
These photos clearly illustrate one difference between us....I love color...he likes lots of shades of white. ::snort:: He cannot fathom why I'd paint over the wallboard in the slide out.... I don't want to live in something which clearly looks like every other 2008 RQS. LOL  His eyes glazed over when I mentioned painting a couple of cupboard doors with chalkboard paint...and he rolled those eyes when I told him I was thinking of painting the front door of the trailer - yes the external front door.
I think we'll call the outing a date. LOL 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Plot Twist - Again

Realizing drama is simply going to find us regardless of our efforts, Michael has lifted the talking ban and told me to "come clean."  Thank you for your prayers as retirement nears and we continue to search for answers. He really was the picture of health until 2012.

We believe God writes the story of each person's life. We've felt fairly certain for a few decades that we knew and were cooperating with His story - His plan for our lives (Ps 139:16).  We would  minister, as a family, to the military. We would then spend 10 - 15 years as missionaries (depending on when retirement came - most recently we've thought 15 years as missionaries).  We would spend 1 - 2 years living in an RV, visiting all our kids (we'd be 70 by then) and finally settle down.  In the past few years several of our children, as well as Michael and I, have felt God specifically call us back to Japan. We've studied a difficult language and culture. We've prayed. We planned a vision trip for mid-July 2015. We hoped to move to Japan in 2016. We'd live in the trailer (The Caboose) until all the pieces fell into place for a move to Japan. 

PLOT TWIST! It happens. The story isn't over. It's taking some unexpected turns. We trust the Writer of our story.

Six weeks ago a neurologist informed Michael he had "all" the symptoms of Parkinson's Disorder (PD) and gave him a preliminary diagnosis of PD. It looked to be stage 2 or 3.   He said it was pathological and not Essential Tremors - as the AF docs had said.

Our military doctor, whom we love, looked over the tests coming back and the doctor's notes and called to let us know with a diagnosis of Parkinson's Michael would need to go through a medical evaluation board and would not be retiring in August.  This was a low point as we had to cancel our July trip to Japan and thought we'd be active duty another 12 - 18 months. We have to be out of our house in August - you can see how our thinking had to change. We began to search for motor homes and quit pushing on retirement ceremony/VA claim.  

For six weeks we rested in the fact that this diagnosis explained every symptom Michael was having from tremors, balance impairment, stiffness - that elusive, unexplained pain in his side.  Of the ten symptoms of PD - Michael has 8 or 9. During this time they did a bone density scan. Osteoporosis is often seen paired with PD. That came back showing Osteopenia (between normal and Osteoporosis). Everything points to Parkinson's. We, obviously, were not happy with this plot twist. We were confused as we were convinced God was leading us to Japan and that seemed unlikely with PD...and Parkinson's is a not a fun condition to deal with. We determined to fight back with courageous joy - we have quite a few funny stories from this time which will stay in our family memory. We all waited for the final confirmation of the disease from the DAT scan.

We met with the neurologist yesterday.  He said and I QUOTE, "The DAT scan is normal. Let me look at you walk. I see no indication of Parkinson's." He seemed ready for us to leave.

We asked about all the symptoms which led him to the preliminary diagnosis. He said they could be associated with arthritis or lifestyle.

He said  Michael has Essential Tremors (ET).  Which we'd been told years ago - BUT he now shakes when he sleeps (and it's supposed to get better at rest).  It's head to toe. He prescribed a drug which may help the tremors if they are atypical Essential Tremors.

The neurologist loved me when I asked, "OK - you are explaining away most the symptoms and the tremors may be atypical ET - but what about the balance issues? The trouble walking?"

Um....His answer?

"I don't know. I told you I have no idea."

He did order an  "urgent MRI" on Michael's brain. He ran a complete thyroid screen - Michael had a bout with hyperthyroidism years ago, and this doesn't feel the same - but that would be an EASY answer. He's also checking liver and kidney functions and a B12 deficiency.  We will see him in two weeks.

And the plot twists AGAIN  -  we are RETIRING AGAIN IN 7 WEEKS.

We are woefully behind the timeline we need to be on for both the  retirement ceremony and the VA claim. In fact, we STILL have outstanding referrals so they may not let us begin the VA claim yet and he's not been allowed to have his final doctor's appointment with the military. We would love to say all is well - but  all is ODD right now.  Michael doesn't feel good. Something is simply not right. We would LOVE answers while we are still active duty - the VA will cover future care differently based on if it was diagnosed while he was active duty. Yet, we are planning as if we are retiring. If something turns up and retirement is postponed, we are going to have a big party on the 14th of August anyway. LOL

We are no longer looking for a motor home as we don't plan to drive around America until we reach our upper 60's or 70's. I was determined to make that dream a reality for Michael and that meant doing it now if he had Parkinson's and we couldn't go overseas.  We DO plan to move into our trailer, we will do some trips and live in it until we are sure nothing in our health would keep us from living overseas. We are going to study Japanese and wait for God to say, "NOW."

Through all this - Stacia kept saying, "Dad can't have Parkinson's, because GOD told us we were going to Japan."

As Michael told Vince, our denomination's Global Mission's Director, "God has a plan. We know it's a good plan. We have no idea what the plan will look like."

"For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 NASB.

 We determined years ago to be a family which would love courageously, follow God courageously, serve courageously... As we face this ongoing challenge and the many questions - we've decided to handle it with courageous joy (defiant joy even ::smirk::).

There is much I could say of the past weeks about symptoms, lessons learned, high points and low points - but perhaps this is enough.

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 NLT

Update 19 August 2015 - Neurologist #2 and #3 feel that Michael does not have essential tremors. They have currently given him a diagnosis of Parkinsonism. He is weaning off the meds the neurologist #1 put him on. The next step is to try Lepodova - a Parkinson's med. If he responds favorably to the meds he will be given a positive Parkinson Disease diagnosis. You can read more details here.  They told us, "Live your lives. We'll get through this together." They knew we were going to be traveling in an RV - so we still are. LOL  We are living this dream NOW - why wait until our 70's?

Let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name....

Thursday, June 25, 2015


The FIRST SHAVE is a momentous right of passage for our male Gherkins - not so much for the females. ::wink:: Alex/Zander has needed to shave for quite some months. The passage was slow - for several reasons: he sort of liked growing a beard, busy schedules, traveling, his sensory issues (SHAVING y'all  - he won't even get a haircut in a salon since we left Barbara in Misawa - Arielle buzzes him) - and possibly we didn't want to admit our last and final male Gherkin was old enough to SHAVE.






The whole family participates....Arielle was a bit alarmed that "my baby brother has a razor!"
Nolan's expression is a familiar one these days
Ah, what a handsome young man he's becoming.

Rachel's Slow Cooked Tri Tip Sandwiches

Pictures  to follow but I'm determined to save this before I have to ask for the recipe again. I've not actually eaten this (being a nutritarian and all);  but it smells good, is simple and I've served it at a couple of chapel things - people always ask for the recipe - and I always ask Rachel  - AGAIN.

one tri-tip
1 can beef broth (14.5 oz)
1 jar sliced peppercinis
1 packet dry Italian dressing

Cook in crockpot til "shreddable"

 Serve on toasted French rolls with cheese.

This seems to be very forgiving....adapt it how you like.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Power Outages

Who would guess? Power outages all day. There were no storms. I suspect PGE was simply working on the lines.  We thought it was done as they'd said lights would be on by 5:15 p.m.

Then they went out again - I don't know WHY we didn't think to prepare for an outage at night.  Stacia immediately wanted to know if "this is going to be like the time the power went out after the earthquake?" No.

This was fun message to find when I turned on the battery candle! 
The little tri-pod LED flashlight from Cynthia at the Volunteer appreciate saved the day!
The kids enjoyed making shadows on the wall.

We went to bed and the power was back on when we woke up. That's it - the big excitement for the day. LOL

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pittsburgh Baby

While the kids had adventures in Oregon and Mexico - we had a great time at convention - Authentic 15!

Pittsburgh is a LOVELY city. We enjoyed our day of sightseeing and the conversations with our taxi drivers.

The evening sessions were all great. The Relational Workshop Session I attended by Ken Sande was fantastic.

It's no surprise to any that know me, that the topics resonated! Authentic purpose, authentic relationships and authentic ministry. Love God - Love others - it all flows from relationship. GREAT messages.

I have NEVER been in a business meeting which accomplished so much in such an organized manner.

Women's Luncheon, Mission's Luncheon, Men's  Luncheon - all great.

Reconnecting with old friends and making new friends - priceless.

I didn't take many photos. I actually didn't take a single one once the convention began.  The day before Authentic 15 officially opened, we went downtown to see what we could find. We didn't see nearly enough - we have added Pittsburgh to our "RV bucket list."  We had JUST spent a couple of weeks studying the Industrial Revolution. Stacia and Zander were disappointed we didn't go to a Carnegie library or museum. It will be fun to go back with them.

Mount Washington - originally a community where factory and mill workers lived
The Monongahela Incline (Mon)  was built in 1870 to transport workers from the mountain to the factories down below....thankful Betsy mentioned this trip to us...

Views from the top....lovely. It was especially fun to imagine Dick proposing to Betsy from up here.

Heinz Field - home the Steelers

Streets reminded us of Tokyo -  a bit wider.
 We had lunch at Shiloh Grill...some yummy pierorgies.
I loved the architecture.

Parsonage directly to the left of the Mount Washington Baptist Church.

We spent quite a bit of time walking....exploring a couple of things we saw from the heights.
Because I'm too lazy to type the info out
We walked across this suspension bridge - and I remembered the big earthquake

PA & Lake Eerie Rail Road
The building looked like a church, as we got closer we discovered it is being used as the Allegheny Courthouse. It was designed by the man who designed Trinity church in Boston...so we were close.


That's it for sightseeing. We'll go back.

Gherkins Scattered Here and There

I last wrote eleven days ago  - since then we've been all over the place.

Krista led a team of eight to Mexico.  They ran a VBS at Imuris Kid's Kingdom, the orphanage where Arielle and she spent time last summer.  They also went a rehab facility, did some odd jobs and a bit of sightseeing.

F- Krista, Arielle, Katie
B- Shawn, Eric, Wyatt, David, Kent

An hour or so after the team left our home, we piled into Michael's commuter. The team took our van to Mexico. We drove up to Oregon and deposited the three youngest Gherkins with BreZaak. In addition to seeing them, highlights of this flying trip were seeing Nate, Nadia, Will and Sherri and my folks.  We drove back to Oregon on Sunday. We flew out of Sacramento on Monday morning.
Kids realized they have it good in the 15 pass van LOL
 Michael and I enjoyed the trip home, the quiet home (not sure we've been alone in our home for decades), and our trip to Pittsburgh (photos in a separate post).
Michael in front of Mt Shasta
There is no simple, chronological way to organize THIS post....so... glimpses from the Mexico trip.
Krista - our 2nd Gherkin

Arielle (6th Gherkin) and Miley

Alejandro in the middle

One thing the team did was shop and cook an "American meal" for the kids. This was a big hit last summer - the girls made pizza from scratch. This time they did BIG hamburgers, all the trimmings, fries and watermelon. It was well received.
Alejandro and David


 VBS was the  highlight
Kent spinning stories

Meanwhile in Oregon, VBS played a part of the 3 Gherkin's week as well. They enjoyed helping BreAnne prepare for "her" VBS.

Goliath to scale

Cousin Time

Izaak with the kids
Photo booth with Bre
 They had a great time at the River too....

Car wash
::snort:: This cracks me up.
In Texas, Jamin prepared to move to College Station for the next phase of his education. Josiah called with the news that he had accepted a job in the Seattle area. I need to write a couple more "Mommy posts". LOL

We flew back to CA.......the team from Mexico showed up late Saturday night...after a stop to Chick Fil A.....

They left Sunday a.m., Michael preached, we headed back to Oregon to pick up the kids. We had a 10 hour turnaround. I was pretty proud of the kids being outside by the van at 0645 ready to head home.

Our trip home was uneventful, except for the tire that nearly blew. I'm so thankful Michael took the time to stop and have the tire checked. It was bulging and separating. So very glad it didn't blow when the kids were driving or on either for that matter.

It was a wild week and a half....lots of great memories made.  Back at home we gave Michael a Father's Day gift - a set of DVD on natural disasters......and picked up Yuuki.
It's nice to be home.