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*. 
 
Monopoly

Monday, June 29, 2015

Priceless

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

Sundays.....

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)

and

An episode or two of the Andy Griffith Show.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

GIVE ME COLOR

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 you were 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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

THE FIRST SHAVE

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.


YES



It


WAS


PAST


TIME



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
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.