Monday, February 29, 2016

Mount Shasta Bread - INPUT?????

It is an adjustment to go from baking 8 loaves of bread a week to 2 loaves every other day....but I'm doing it. I think the Vitamix can be heard around the campground as it grinds wheat berries into flour....and the Baby Bosch is proving it's worth over and over.  Everyone is happy to have fresh baked bread. I'm happy to know that I can provide bread while we're in Idaho, an hour from groceries. 

I've been using the same recipe, but all of a sudden my bread has started doing this!!!!! It looks like the top of a mountain! Bread bakers - what do you think? I'd opened a new thing of yeast....other than that - same everything. 

It tastes really yummy - but why do some loaves look so odd? 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mecca of McManus - Summer Home

Our travel plans are coming together.  

March: Stay at Beale for a multitude of VA appointments. 

End of March - 1st bit of April: Visit Eureka to see John and Mary and then Crescent City to see Mom G. 

April: Oregon for Bella's arrival. 

May 6th & 7th: We're presenting "The Gift of Parenting" at Calvary Open Bible. 

May 8th  - ?: Jet to TX for ASU graduation and JaRissa's wedding. We hope to stay long enough to see friends, visit Del Rio and San Antonio and meander back - possibly via Grand Canyon. 

June 10th - end of August: IDAHO! 

End of August - 1st week of September - CA for doctor's appointments again

Fall - TBD

We discovered finding campsites in the summer is a challenge. Prices go up and availability goes down. A few weeks ago we began submitting applications to State Park Systems and military Fam Camps. We heard back from all three this week.  We asked questions, they checked references. They discovered we walk on water (good job guys!).   The state of Montana offered us a position at Lost Creek State Park outside of Anaconda. It turns out the park has pit toilets, no showers,  electricity is provided by a generator we could run intermittently and the wifi is at the top of  a waterfall. This sounds fun for a month - but Michael has a CPAP - and we can't figure out how to make that situation work. They would have paid us a stipend AND a free site - that's a clue  it's a place which is hard to keep hosts. 

Jim Creek Naval recreation area appealed to us.....but they want 32+ hours during the day and being on duty every evening....we think this is a bit more of a job than Michael's health will tolerate and is quite a bit of work for a site which we could rent for around $500. 

Idaho is on our short list of possible retirement states. We had hoped to get "close" to friends in ID and to find a spot which would be a  quick drive to Seattle. Who can resist these sorts of campsites? 
Photo via Google Images
We were offered a hosting job Priest Lake State Campground. We'll work 20-24 hours a week, be on call at night, have two solid days off a week and they'll give us a full hook up site, one wifi line,  and free laundry - bartering at it's best.  I will be able to help fulfill the hours as needed. It looks like a beautiful campground - we can hope. The only drawback we can determine at this point is the nearest grocery store is an hour away.

Priest Lake - the Crown Jewel of Idaho - Photo via Google Images
Where is Priest Lake? Not close to Boise or Seattle. ::snort:: It's 30 miles south of  Canada, 62 miles NW of Sandpoint (home of Patrick McManus), 91 miles NW of Coeur d'Alene , 92 miles N of Spokane, WA,  236 miles W of Flathead Lake, MT, 386 miles NE of Lynnwood, WA, 517 miles N of Boise and 554 miles NE of Eugene, OR - home of Bella Angel!

Photo via Google Images
But just LOOK at  all Priest Lake State Park has to offer! Deer, moose, eagles, black bear (not so excited about this) hiking trails, boating, fishing, white sand beach......We are moving to the Mecca of McManus for the stress to find a site, lots of new area to explore, AND we can see how Michael does with part time work.

Yes, there IS wifi at the Visitor Center and "most campgrounds." There is a Verizon booster at the Visitor Center and we are hopeful our MiFi will continue to work. If not, they say there is good Verizon on the beach. Shoot....I'll endure for the sake of you, our friends and family who want to stay connected. ::wink::

The Best of Then and Now

This is what it looks like when old traditions meet new routines.

Through the years we developed a tradition of Sunday night ice cream. Not a ton of ice cream - just a mug full, with  a bit of milk - the ultimate hand-made shakes.

Currently, we enjoy campfires.

Why not?

Sunday night ice cream in front of the campfire.

The "best" of then and now.

Friday, February 26, 2016

#WYFF @ U.C. Davis Neurology Dept.

We have had a full week, visited wonderful friends and done some fun things....and here we are again with #WYFF falling on a "blech" type of day.

Woot! Sacramento - UC Davis - Neurology - fun times.

Seriously, we love our team and they love us. We're their fun patients. Other nurses say we have far too much fun at our end of the hallway.
Dr. Duffy and Michael's feet - note Michael holds
his left hand to keep it steady
But - there is something unsettling about the neurology department. On these days, we are smacked in the face with the reality that Michael has an incurable, degenerative, neurological disease - and it simply isn't going away.  For those playing the Boo Yay game with me - this is a Boo! ::snort::

Each neurologist asked us, "When are you going to Japan?"

"Um....still figuring THAT out. It won't be until after the VA determinations are done."

They have full confidence in our ability to figure out the health care picture and go to Japan. They encourage us not to let this disease define who we are or what we can do...but then it does, doesn't it? Just a bit. Mission boards and churches will certainly be interested in this when hiring.

In any event - here we are. Michael is a great sport and diligently preformed all the requested actions....he tapped fingers, followed her pen, tapped his leg, stomped hs feet, counted backwards, moved arms as requested, walked down a hall, heel-toed it (the worst for him), tried to maintain balance while she tugged and prodded, rested and relaxed....and she took notes and assigned numbers.

Checking balance
Many  of you have asked, "How is Michael doing?"  We don't want to blow off those who are praying for Michael - so "fine" isn't quite right - we've taken to saying, "There are good days and bad days." Which is true.   Dr. Duffy pressed. What are the good days like? What are the bad days like?  How many days are you unable to do what you want? How are your emotions?

Here's the thing - he IS doing better on Azilect. The internal, head to toe, jittery, shakes don't happen as often. The balance is still an issue. Chronic fatigue is a big issue. The external tremors are still present most days - some times worse than other times.  His movements are slow, his limbs stiff. Some days it's hard to recall words - but shoot he's still more articulate than the rest of us.  His voice is changing.- hasn't done that in 40 years. Little things like using a computer mouse and keyboard, playing the piano, working puzzles are difficult - but doable.  Some days he feels like a pin ball - bouncing off the walls in the Caboose. Today was an average day. Dr. Duffy said we could do better managing his symptoms. It's not all about doesn't want to lose dopamine or function. It doesn't come back.

Michael will begin a patch of a dopamine agonist in the upcoming week. Pills were discussed, but this will give a steady 24 hour dose and she thinks that will be better. Again, we find ourselves befuddled to willingly take meds which seem to have side-effects which mirror the symptoms they seek to alleviate or worse. They are aware Michael "doesn't do meds," but pressed the reasons it is time to add another med.

We had thought they would note the improvements on  Azilect - there are some fairly good days on it - and would tell us to continue taking it to see more improvement. In other words, we thought we rocked and things were going to improve more if we stayed the course. Evidently, we don't.  Or, we thought we'd ditch it and change to another med. Nope. We are keeping the Azilect and adding to it. 

We were told possible side effects of Azilect were hypertensive crisis - stroke and death-like symptoms.  The pharmacist spent 40 minutes explaining this and tried to get a different drug. Dr. Duffy says this is the lightest of the drugs she has for Parkinson's.  In any event, Michael has been careful, I've adjusted our diet and he's not experienced the possible side-effects.

The new possible side-effects include sleep-attacks, hallucinations and impulsive/compulsive actions. I'm to call if I observe anything like this, and he'll quit taking them. It's a bit freaky to consider a PILL can make a person a crazy gambler....we're praying to avoid all these side effects too.  I'm also believing the gospel is more powerful than the nutty drug. She warned us not to be alarmed if the Pharmacist asks for another consult.

This is a good time to slowly begin this drug. We will be here for another 4 - 5 weeks with VA appointments. We'll be able to see if sleep attacks are a problem before we start traveling around again. ::snort::  Dr. Duffy recommends Express Scripts and says she can handle most of Michael's care remotely - she is a big supporter of us getting on the road. LOL

Neurology days are a bit of a challenge. We find ourselves faced with what we've lost and with what is predicted for the future. I fight tears. I crack corny jokes and others laugh loudly - this is a good thing about the neurology department. LOL

These things we know! God is good. He controls our future. He knows what ministry He has left for us. We are pastors. It's simply who we are and what we do. That won't stop because titles and locations change.

Parkinson's isn't going away.
Michael has to take another med.
Sacramento traffic is horrid.

We have a great team of docs.
There are still new meds to try.
We get to spend much more time with Michael.
He laughs at my corny jokes.
I think he's cute as a perpetual slight drunk.
Slow rides home led to Papa Murphy's for dinner!
The stars are amazing out here.
God is still controlling our future.

#WYFF is sponsored by Fulltime Families. View more of our Friday exploits by clicking the #WYFF tab above. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Evenings in the Trailer

Evenings in the trailer are much more relaxed than evenings in our stick and brick home. We don't have evening commitments - this is  new for us and I highly endorse this plan. We also have very little to prep for the next day.   After the bustle of the day - school, projects, exploring, visiting with friends - it is nice to know  dinner and the evenings will be family - and friends from time to time.
Our patio and Featherstone - in the front; Fam Camp at Sunset
 We have watched all of Monk. We began to stream a series until we decided we didn't like the things they started surprising us with in season 3. We read books - The Cay is our last. We play games. We've taken sunset walks and nighttime walks to the lake. We've streamed movies.

View from our Patio
My favorite of all is sitting beside the fire! Everything seems bigger, brighter and better with a fire. I am still so happy with our choice of a fire pit for Christmas. I'm also happy, after decades, we are in a place where none of our kids are going to try to pick a stick out of the fire - though we do still watch for flaming marshmallows  - always beware of flaming marshmallows.

Wood is a problem - $7 a bundle at the commissary. There are branches laying on the ground all around the Fam Camp, but this is a military installation in CA - best not to break the rules. Michael had  a thought today. He worked at Fred Myers back in the day. He stopped by the BX to see if they had any damaged pallets. The good ones are reused. He saw one badly broken and asked the manager, showed the manager what he was talking about, and was given the pallet. He had to cut it up - but in Portland we heated one winter entirely with broken pallets and mattress frames. He knew how to do this - it was  a bit more time-consuming without the chain saw. 

We are getting 3 fires out of this
Tonight we enjoyed a fire without s'mores - we did have ice cream this afternoon! What do you do around a fire without s'mores? 

Electronic games, reading and talking with Jared

Looking at the fire - talking with each other
 One thing we noted early about the caboose is the "reading light" is placed so it is NOT going to be on our books if we read in bed - unless we get up and sit in the middle of the bed. We've talked of various options for reading lights. When we turn  the light on to read it shines directly into our eyes. Michael came home with this nifty light. It works in bed and it's great for reading Patrick McManus beside the fire.....

We love our slower-paced evenings in the trailer. Thanks to the master of the fire for making a fire possible tonight. 

Ice Cream and Missions

Jerry got promoted! Desiree conquered cancer.  These are good reasons to celebrate - which are doing in a sunnier and beachier location.

Desiree's parents and brother are spending the week with the kids. Being well-seasoned in this grandparent thing, they have planned outings for most days. Today it was ice cream at BROCKS with the Gherkins. Michael and I made the plans and forgot to tell the kids.

Ice Cream with O's? Are we coming too? ::snort::  THAT was a motivator and school was done by lunch today.  (Note I'm starting to really value the camera on my phone!)

I reveled in hugs from Sydney, Caleb and Nathan...... Caleb looked up at Michael and said, "You look old now." ::snort::  It's the hair and beard coming in gray.

Sydney, Stacia and Anna (Anastasia)
 Jay and Alex are both 14, homeschooled and in the 8th grade. Alex says it's "freaky"  he is so much bigger than his friends. Jay notes to others, "All my friends are taller than me." I pointed out to Alex it is NOT freaky - together they make one great average! They always have a good time together. 
Alex & Jay

These boys love Nolan (left) and Des' brother on the right - Xavier, Caleb, Nathan
Mike, Pat and Quentin (Des' parents)
Last time Michael  held Quentin was at his
dedication one one of our last Sundays at Beale
The kids had a great time. We enjoyed our visit with Mike and Pat. It turns out Mike is the Assistant International Director for One Mission Society.   Pat and I have had opportunities to talk before when she was out for Desiree's operation and chemo.  We had never spent time with Mike.  She asked how Parkinson's was effecting our plans to be missionaries in Japan. We shared. It was good to talk about the season we are in - Mike was encouraging.  We shared our ministry has always been relational and we have a heart for making followers (discipleship), and training leaders. We shared what we had been looking at in Japan....and what the problems may be with the new factors in our life.  We simply don't have answers yet. They shared the model of One Mission/Every Community for Christ. Itinerant Missionaries - something we'd not heard of or considered before.  We'll continue to follow the VA trail until we know what sort of compensation we can expect, continue to discuss with the neurologist what type of care we need to find, continue to research care in Japan and what Tricare could/could not do for us overseas.....but we are encouraged if we cannot go live in Japan, there are other avenues we can explore.

Stacia was happy to go home with Anna and Sydney to do nails.

Wedding Plans

We've not  quit smiling since hearing Larissa said yes.....but today the excitement soared from cloud 9 to over the moon.......any mail - real mail - is cause for great excitement around here.....
A letter - she thinks its from Maggie
 It's from Larissa!  Stacia wasn't expecting a letter from LARISSA! She had sort of mourned the fact she's no long flower girl material......and she was happy to hear the big girls were invited to be Bridesmaids...but I could tell she was the tiny bit sad not to be young enough or old enough to be in weddings right when "people start getting married." Yeah - PEOPLE - let's put a moratorium on weddings until she can grow up enough to be in your weddings. ::snort:: 
Larissa wrote me!

Maybe one should open the envelope - but she savored it. 

Such total joy

She wasn't exactly sure what a Junior Bridesmaid is - but I assured her she would get to buy a new dress and be in the wedding. The smiles haven't stopped.  The big question now is, "Should I cut my hair or wait until after the wedding."

We weren't 100% sure of Jared's plans for groomsmen, but texted him to check when we heard the big girls got invites and knew Stacia's was on the way. I was 99.9% sure these guys would get invited to participate in the Big Day - but wanted to know for sure to help steer the "non-emotional male feelings,"  if they weren't.  Jared told me he planned on inviting these two to be groomsmen, but isn't as "on top of it" as Larissa. I suggested he wait to ask them until Stacia received her invite in the mail.   We were outside when he called.....and I put him on speaker phone and called the boys over.....they were a bit reluctant.
"Yeeessss? Jared?"
 I would be honored if you would both be groomsmen!
They ARE as excited as Stacia - this is introvert excitement
Yep - they've gone from being excited spectators to being honored participants. We are thrilled Larissa is joining the family and are humbled by the way she's embraced our crazy, sometimes silly, often chaotic, tad bit overwhelming freakishly large  family.

80 days and counting!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Only 50 days - Bella Update

Somebody is arriving "soon" - 49 days actually but my timer switches over in the afternoon! 

Cobie, a friend from Alaska, made this darling outfit for our "Bella Angel." I can't wait!!!!!

33 weeks! Only 7 more to D Day....give or take a couple of weeks.

Boo Yay - Again

Hmmm.....lots of opportunities to practice our Boo Yay game strategy! ::snort::

Boo - Six months and we're STILL at Beale Fam Camp.

Yay -  The weather is fabulous and we can play and school outside!

Boo - We are out of food.

Yay - Stacia and Mom time and who can hate shopping with cute bags like these to use! 
Retreat bag

Boo - The boys are taking SOOO LONG with school!

Yay - let's go play with Emma and Hope

Emma brightens any day!

Boo - we're not in Florida or TX. Michael has all sorts of "issues." 

Yay - The VA called and Michael has six appointments scheduled before the end of March. We should be able to travel after the initial VA appointments. We  will jet to visit John and Mary in Eureka and then on to OR to see Bella girl. 

Yay - we had the chance to visit with dear friends. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Boo Yay Game

Monday - Monday.....

Michael drove to Sacramento for a dental appointment at the VA clinic.  It was odd  they booked another appointment for six months out. We were TOLD this was a one-time benefit....though medical and dental may be available at the VA after his disability is rated.

The rest of us DID SCHOOL - big time school.....

Stacia finished first, and she and I rode our bikes to the library to pick up a few selections we need for school in the upcoming weeks.

"Courageous Joy" was "Choosing Joy" for 9 1/2 years before the blog name changed. Choosing joy is a familiar theme around here. Deliberately looking for and choosing to focus on the joy in a situation has changed my life.  I loved how Victoria trained herself and her children to choose joy - the Boo Yay game. I explained the game to the home team here - I think it may be a better training tool than Mom always supplying the "yay" to their "boo."  Or my endless lists at the end of the day - "Give me three things you are thankful for....." This changes the habit in real time!'s been a terrible day's over!

Boo....there are no parking spots
Yay.....we can sing another chorus of "It's the song that never ends....."

Today I heard a Boo.....we're still here at Beale - when can we travel?

Yay....the weather is BEAUTIFUL. We are close enough to ride our bikes to the library and BX. We are done with school - let's go.

What about you? Care to give the Boo Yay game a try? It becomes automatic....and is fun for all ages!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Retreat Weekend!

The blog has been silent....because I did this Friday - Sunday.....up in the Sierra Nevadas. Note all retreat photos were shamelessly taken from the PWOC album Rachel created. 

Brittany drove me up and Rachel is an adopted daughter
 Katie did a fabulous job putting together this weekend for us to pull away and refresh. Everything was wonderful. Check out the hoodies. I love mine.
Katie and Me

Katie had planned some truly fun games and even a DIY pendant craft! All great fun. 
Strip Friending? 

Stephanie led worship

F: Jen, Stephanie, Me, Katie
B:Rachel, June, Mindee, Victoria, Tiffany, Lisa, Brittany (Hope had to leave)
 "I have never - ever......"
Stephanie and Me
Victoria - a ministry mentor
Victoria spoke to us about the ministry of Presence, transformation, and how to SHOW Up and was profound. I'll share bits and pieces in the days to come - but at this point I'm processing and letting the seed take root. 

Victoria had flown from her brother's funeral on Tuesday to us....please pray for her as you read this. 

These girls - I took for the picture for them - but I want to save a copy too. All dear women. All but Sarah were ministry partners last year on the board. They are the real deal. It was a grace gift from God to know them in our last ministry assignment with the Air Force. 
Jen, Sarah, Katie, Stephanie, Rachel 

I just don't know WHY they do these things..... ::wink::
I debated attending this retreat. God strongly impressed on  me in December it was time to let the past slide into the "Remember Lot's Wife" and look forward rather than backwards. I've not been attending weekly meetings - I've chosen instead to invest my time in the future - looking ahead - starting online Bible study groups.....and of course, I've spent lovely time with the gals who have asked to do so....precious time.  I knew attending this weekend would be wonderful and difficult at the same time. It's always wonderful to spend time with amazing gals as these. It is difficult to return to a place you've "left"  - it reawakened longings for a time which is past.

And so - when Brittany and Sarah dropped me off  at the trailer - everyone else was still at church. I gathered Yuuki and  went for a 5 mile walk. This gave me time to process  I am exactly where God has placed me for this season,  I joy in this season and a few of the thoughts from the retreat.  I played the Boo Yay game.....
Lower Blackwelder Lake

Sutter Butte - America's shortest Mountain range - for real

Upper Blackwelder Lake