Friday, July 31, 2015

VBS 2015

Last year's VBS was great (as have been all the VBS' we've participated in during our military career) but THIS year's was amazing.  Two local churches donated their VBS decorations to us - saving lots of money and time....we've donated them to another church. Cynthia, our VBS director, was joined by Kat as Co-Director and Paulette - not sure what her title was but she was great help as well.
The library never looked so good!

It was odd for us to be participants and not helpers. We thought we'd be in Japan and Stacia was sad to miss her last VBS. She's entering 5th grade so this really would be her last as a participant.  Usually, I would have stayed on base all week and helped....but this year I drove home and worked and then picked her up. This presented a problem as we have one car now that we've sent Arielle to Oregon. With Michael working and VBS I would have made 3 - 4 trips a day. Dear friends are such a blessing. Cynthia's husband is on extended special duty, and she has an extra car. We now have two cars again until retirement ceremony.

Stacia and Cynthia - hey no one looks terrible and they're both in it
 Chaplain T oversaw this year's VBS team

We're going to miss VBS. It was a good season to focus on "Conquering Challenges with God's Mighty Power."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Game Night - Gherkin Style

An evening game of Monopoly - Arielle manages to join in via Skype. Life is good.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Arielle Flies the Nest

I don't have any "new" profound thoughts to share. It doesn't get easier. It's a GREAT thing. She's following God's plan for her life. We're proud of her. We miss her. A child leaving home is the very definition of "bittersweet."
Michael signs the Altima over
Monopoly at BreZaaks
Stacia won her first monopoly game
Michael shares words with Arielle
Praying for Arielle
Then it was time for goodbyes....

No, we've not recovered....but she'll be back for retirement on the 9th!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Mud, BBQs and Farewells

Krista always has the best adventures in a local area.  We need to learn some of her tricks. Saturday she, Wyatt and Katie were set to participate in the "Dirty Dash" in Albany.  We thought $40 to run in the mud was a bit much - but we went to watch. I think we need to have a family team next year. It looked like a lot of fun. 

Krista and Katie (Krista and Arielle's roommate)

Mud surfing
Actually - doing push ups

At the Finish Line
 Stacia and Alex tried their hands (and legs) at the climbing wall.

We got home in time to converge at Will and Sherri's for a bbq. I didn't take a single photo. I enjoyed the fellowship.  Lots of good transitions going on in our family this summer.

This was the last night with Arielle in our "home" as a "child." Neither of us wanted the night to end.....Sweet moments. As odd as it sounds, I kept remembering her little pre-school voice on the day she got her wisdom teeth removed, "I love you, Mommy."  I love this baby girl.  Alas, it's time to say goodbye to childhood and celebrate her launch into adulthood. I'm so proud of the way she is going about all this - a post for another day.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Family Fun

We packed Friday full. Krista and BreAnne had the day off.

Our PLAN was to get Arielle's driver's license, get the car registered and open a credit union account. It was a good plan. Unfortunately, we forgot an important detail. She needs proof of her ADDRESS to do any of those things.  Their move-in date is contingent on the owners moving out, which is contingent on bank appraisers and so.....we didn't have a renter's agreement. Not to fear - we can order something on Amazon, have it shipped to Arielle and they will count it as proof of residency.  BUT we didn't get any of the business done on Friday. This means we had an extra day to "weelax."

Krista picked up food at a deli, we picked up Mom and Dad and we went to Armitage park. It was a great plan. It wasn't crowded, the river was relaxing....Bre met us....all in all an enjoyable day.
Bre and Me

Dad and Mom

Bocce Ball
 While they played, Mom  and I enjoyed a walk along the river. We found this bridge. 1887 - fun to think that Gram's would have been a girl and passed this way - when this bridge was here.

Izaak got off work. We met him for dinner. Then the kids, Michael and I went to a park to watch Krista talk about nutrition to a gathered group. She's the one in front leading exercises.  After the talk we watched Princess Bride in the park. It was GREAT, FREE fun!  

We didn't get home until 11:00 p.m.  It was short night before it was time to begin Saturday's adventures.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Traveling Day

Trips usually begin with high spirits  - I'd love to say this one was no different - but it was a bit different. Knowing we'd be coming home without Arielle put a slight damper on the trip.
Michael drove the van (packed nearly full as seen below) and Arielle followed in his commuter - which we gave her. 
 We took the back two seats out of the van - and the first one  - and an idea was born. The kids liked the extra leg room. We'll have much more storage room in the back without the seats. Maybe it's the answer to, "HOW do we take 5 bikes with us on the road?".  Nolan suggested we make a table to fit where the front seat usually fits in. What a great idea. He and Michael can brainstorm it, build it.....and when it's installed they'll be able to do some school work, watch school DVDS and such from the table.

Stacia and Nolan rode with Arielle.  Stacia shared her seat with bikes and such poking through from the trunk. LOL
We got to Oregon in good time and set up the trailer at Will and Sherri's. We always love visiting with them and staying at their home ensures that happens.  After we set up, we went to visit with Mom and Dad. Krista met up with us and we eventually met BreZaak at the food court in the mall.  Ah - it's so fun to have Gherkins gathering.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Family Night

Arielle asked if we could do s'mores tonight. We had a casual dinner and enjoyed sitting around the charcoal talking  (NO OPEN FIRE - FULL BUCKET OF WATER NEARBY AND DOUSED THE COALS WHEN DONE). The weather cooperated by cooling down.....
Stacia serenaded us while we waited....

Arielle chose this evening to share deep thoughts with us......the top of Michael's head looks like the batman logo.....

Michael was appreciative of this observation. 

Now, I need to go pack for tomorrow. With this job looming, I realize a great perk to full time RVing....I won't have to PACK before we TRAVEL.

She's Really Moving Out

I made a deliberate choice to wear waterproof mascara. Today is the last day of summer PWOC - which means it really is my last PWOC Bible study (though I do have one more mentor group meeting)..... It was a sweet time this a.m. and I didn't even cry as we prayed, or when I was asked about Arielle.

Back at home Michael and the kids had moved stacks of boxes to the garage in staging areas. I feel much better about the house without towers of boxes everywhere.

Nolan and Arielle got another year of school books sorted through.

We delivered Yuuki to the kennel. Arielle wanted two shelves from our room and in the process of moving them, I found this picture.  It was taken at a Mother Daughter Tea at Elmendorf....and I was instantly back to those days with all three girls at home....the time has gone in a blink of an eye...and that littlest sister is moving out.

I was immediately filled with a sense of gratitude God blessed us with "one more girl" and she promises me that she will "NEVER leave you and Dad."  The tears started....but I need to press on....
This girl is ready to press on
 Arielle warmed my heart and made me laugh. I had stashed my wedding veil (which the girls have used for dress up for the past two years) into the donation box.  I found it in one of her boxes - she said she wanted it. O.K.  This is the back of the van - with seats out......
And THIS is all the stuff that still needs to go in. 

The older two are about to begin Japanese lessons. We still need to pack for our trip to OR and we need to run to a store to buy a couple of things - which we may do in Eugene. We shall see. It's going to be a long night.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Magic of Tidying Up

This is my house y'all! I'm having about 50 people house guests in a bit - o.k. maybe 15 - but STILL...I should be cleaning not desperately looking for the Magic of Tidying Up to manifest in  my home. I've started the book by Marie Kondo and I AM enjoying it. I especially like "hearing the Japanese culture" in the book - because I AM supposed to be in Machida this week. ::snort:: I figure now is a good time for me to "do it all at once."  This is taking way longer than I expected (where DOES all this stuff come from in 2 years) - so I'm glad I am right here - though my leaking eyes haven't quite gotten the message.

And THIS is the CLEAN area - library and upstairs hall are WAY worse

The boys went through all the "toys" and decided they really don't need them any longer. I do believe Eyeore and a rubber dinosaur will go into storage....

I continued to pull things out and off the walls that the older Gherkins have tagged as things they would like. I've got a staging area in the garage for the Gherkins, homeschool, and donations. We continued to fill a couple more "donate boxes" which we don't think the Gherkins will want, but still have some good use in them.

The kids love to play dress up and produce plays - we have quite a few costumes. I can't see them fitting in the trailer....and I'm sure they won't fit the kids when we get things out of storage. I'm not sure what we're going to do with them - so I laundered them and we'll decide later.

I had visions of Arielle and I being able to get through the school shelves after lunch.  Our school cycles through four segments of history  - over and over. The kids hit each segment as a grammar, dialectic and rhetoric student. We no longer need the lower grammar material.  Our plan was to go through the books, pull out the ones that are lower grammar. Go through the year plans and pick out the books we want to use, mark each one with the year, week and level. We would also decide which extra books we need to keep (from our Sonlight days), put each year of books in it's own tub and get rid of the rest. I decided to take photos of the grammar books and put them in the homeschool album I'm creating to offer to locals.
One shelf per year
These are the books Stacia and Zander need for Tapestry next year. This does not include science, language arts, math etc. The white binders are teacher's manuals - each year plan gives lesson plans for K - 12th grade so I can easily keep us all on the same page at our own level. We only sorted one year this afternoon. ::sigh:: I need to finish the school stuff while Arielle is here. She's a huge help.

This thing is HEAVY. I can't budge it. Yes, I know they now sell digital teacher's manuals. The problem is that my set is copyrighted in 2003 and so the books are from THEN....the digital ones have newer books and I don't want to have to buy all new books. Yes, that's right - I've used the same core for 12 years - you can do that with classic, living literature. It's paid for itself.

Ms. Kondo, in her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, instructs one to pick up each item and decide if it brings joy.  If it does, you keep it. If it doesn't you thank it for bringing joy to your life at one time and release it to go bring joy to another.  Sounds the end you are surrounded by things you LOVE and the things you don't love are not cluttering your home. Sounds fairly easy and worked well as I went through the China hutch, the junk drawers, the desk, the kitchen....then  we hit the bookshelves.

"Nero, thank you for bringing me hours of reading pleasure and joy. I no longer need you (I am fixin to go buy the whole set on kindle if I get desperate ::snort::). I release you to go bring joy to other readers." Into the box he went....along with Tamar Myers, Dr. Seuss, I Can Read Books and host of Children's books.

And again, "I release you to the recycling bin - you are far too battered to bring joy to another."
I tried. Hard. These simply would not be released. Too many happy childhood memories to release.
What's THIS? Ah - it appears that things can jump right out of boxes!!!! The two books from above  are not in a box and are in a waiting area while the discussion goes on. We HAVE Lord of the Rings in two electronic formats - but Nolan loves the maps in this one which has pages falling out. The dinosaur book is signed by Duanne Gish for BreAnne and Krista - and held together with PACKING TAPE!

Arielle rescued "Amelia Bedelia," Complete "Winnie the Pooh" works,  and all the "Land of Barely There" books.  By this time the whole family was gathered around the shelves in the library. I knew this would be tough. We went from 13 floor to ceiling shelves in TX to 7 when we moved to Japan.  Now we need to go further - but I've promised we can keep the ones that mean something to the kids - that they may want at a later date....

I explained the Magic of Decluttering via the Kondo method.....but they didn't get quite as excited as I had hoped.

I was reminded that books are friends and you can't just go around stuffing them in boxes. I explained that if you RELEASE them you might be able to do just that - I've not gotten that far in the book; but it makes sense that relationships could clutter one's life.. ::snort::

Look what I caught him doing - checking the selection in the give away box. 

Long days - lots of mess - small progress. It's good to retire when you get to be our age - I'm quite sure we had more stamina 20 years ago.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Olaf the Blanket

Arielle wanted to make an Olaf blanket for her new room.  We found a Youtube video and followed the directions....sewed it up like a big pillowcase.  
We started this project on Friday.  I packed "Arielle's" pink blanket today while she was at church. This caused a bit of alarm. I decided to finish this today while she napped so she'd have one to replace the pink one tonight.  Sort of reminded me of driving all over town to find the one certain brand of binkie. ::snort::
I am INSIDE the big pillow, trying to get the batting in place....there has to be an easier way.
The men jumped in to help.

It was like magic - she woke up and the blanket was done. 

Near the beginning of this project, I thought I should let each child pick their own material for a blanket for the trailer....somewhere in the middle of the project, I decided there was NO WAY I was doing this again. Now that it's over - it's possible. IF I can find another  Youtube that shows an easier way to handle the batting....and AFTER I figure out how to make the t-shirt quilt.