Archive for August, 2016

Randominion

Scott and I really enjoy playing a game called Dominion. Katie gave it to us a few years ago, and it reminds me of Ms. Pac Man, in that every time we finish playing it, I think, “Ooh, I so wish I could do it again. I’m sure I could do a lot better now.”

You play it with ten stacks of action cards. Each stack has ten identical cards that you “buy,” and each card lets you do certain specific things to build your personal deck of money, actions, and land. The goal is to end the game with the most land, and you can guess which player that usually is at our house. But what makes it really interesting – and what makes us keep coming back to play it again and again and again – is that although you play with only ten stacks of action cards, the game comes with about 25 stacks of them, and you can play with any ten stacks you choose. This, of course, makes the game completely different each time you play it.

Then, to add even more diversity, one can buy an expansion pack that provides an additional 25 stacks of action cards, and one year for Christmas (I think), Katie gave us two expansion packs! And then, obviously completely hooked, a few months ago we bought ourselves another one. This means that we now have something on the order of 100 stacks of action cards to choose from each time we play.

Enter the Randominion iPhone app. I can select however many specific expansions I want to include, click “Randomize,” and it spits out a list of ten actions cards for us to pull from our nifty blue Dominion carrying case, the resting place of the many clear plastic “baseball card” pocket sheets that hold all our Dominion cards in beavishly alphabetical order.

We played twice today. I lost the first time, and it’s a good thing that I enjoy the game even when I lose.  = )  I was raring to go for the second game, but I lost a lot of my swagger when Scott informed me that we’d be playing with not one, not two, but three cards that had plus two actions, one that had plus one action, AND the dreaded “King’s Court,” which lets you play an action card from your hand three times. Sigh. Scott tied his all-time record of playing nineteen action cards in one turn, while I cleaned the kitchen, folded laundry, and ironed two shirts. However, he only won by about 16 points, so I was encouraged. . . to play again soon.

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What’s heavy and purple and costs $225.85?

48 striped beach towels!

We decided that we should provide some beach towels at our vacation rental homes, so that the guests can use those for the pool or hot tub, instead of our plush bath towels. We wanted to have about 10 for each house, so after much online searching, we located these at Walmart.com and ordered 48 (24 two-packs). They arrived today and the UPS man agreed that that was one pretty weighty box! I spent the afternoon washing, drying, folding, stacking and packing purple beach towels, and I will say that they make the prettiest lint you’ve ever seen.

Guess who I just saw?!?

ANDREW!!!

This is a rare occurrence.

Monday he came home for a while after school before going to volleyball at 6:00 PM.

Tuesday he went straight from school to the Rendezvous for cleaning. He then met us at the Branson High School open house, which he only attended because we required him to.

Wednesday he went straight from school to continue cleaning the Rendezvous to youth group at 7:00 PM.

Thursday he went straight from school to finish cleaning the Rendezvous to volleyball at 6:30 PM.

Friday he went straight from school to cleaning the church to a Branson High football game.

Saturday he worked White Water 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM, then came home long enough to clean his bathroom (which hadn’t been cleaned since – ahem – mid-July!) and eat supper before going to a youth group movie night at 8:00 PM.

And today he worked white Water 9:40 AM to 6:30 PM and went straight to a Bible study led by a couple with whom he plays volleyball. He asked me to make mac for him, which I did, and he came home at 9:30 PM.

The guy who walked in the door did look vaguely familiar, albeit darker (compliments of life guarding all summer). I was pretty sure I had seen him somewhere before.

Device grace

I have a new to me phone. It’s an iPhone 5 that Andrew bought used from a friend at TCA earlier in the year. He used it for several months until he bought himself a new and evidently much improved iPhone 6 something or the other. Jessica used this phone while she was in the States, and now I’m glad to have it. It’s really great to be able to download apps and put things on it without checking to see how many megabytes I have available!

One of the things I wanted to do was to back up my new phone so that if something happened to it, I wouldn’t lose all my contacts. Scott said he could back it up to my computer, but first, I wanted to put music on it. I had music on my old phone, but for some reason, when all my stuff from transferred from the old to the new, only one song made the leap! That was not a pleasant realization! Scott said we should get the music I wanted from my computer onto the phone before backing up the phone, so this afternoon we began that process.

I may have mentioned that I am not ultra tech savvy. Scott is pretty good that way, but even he had a rough time trying to figure out how iTunes works for this and why nothing about it is the least bit intuitive. He finally figured something out, and called me back to my desk. Supposedly, from whatever point he had things, I would be able to move the project forward.

I pulled out my handy-dandy “Technical Info” file folder, the one where I have the easy-enough-for-your-grandma-to-follow documentation Katie had created for me with the following detailed processes, among others:

Step 1: Transfer music from CD to computer

Step 2: Transfer music from computer to phone

I was merrily tripping along when I came to a problem. I was to click a certain icon, but that icon was nowhere to be found. It seems that (according to Scott) I now have a different version of iTunes, so my beloved instructions are no longer perfect. However, God’s grace was abundant, and between Katie’s blurb, Scott’s comments, and my own clicking around, I had success with an album that had been on my old phone, was stated as being on my computer, but which consistently disappeared every time iTunes tried to take it from my computer to my phone. I first had to look up my amazon order history to prove that I really had bough that CD last year. (I had.) Then I had to find the physical CD. (I did). I next had to import it to my computer (done), do some gyrations to prove to iTunes that it really was there (proven), and put the blessed thing on my phone. Yee hah! I felt so competent! And I know it was God’s grace.

The more important instance of device grace was Scott’s computer. He had bought a new one a week or so ago and had been using it to prepare many lessons for a Bible school series he’ll be teaching next week. Hours of work went into this prep. Yesterday, the new computer died. As in, wouldn’t power up. As in, when it did finally power up, the log-in screen was only visible for ten seconds. the thing was DEAD. Scott was extremely frustrated and discouraged. He began the process of re-doing all that work.

But we had asked our church friends to pray about this, and lo and behold, this afternoon, while I was working at my desk on my phone/computer/music project, Scott was in Jo’s room and I heard a very loud clacking noise that continued for quite a while. It sounded like when a pinball machine re-sets, and all those numbers go flapping over. That sound usually lasts about three seconds, but this was even louder and kept going for about a minute!

Soon after, Scott came into the office with an evil laugh and a gleam in his eye, saying, “Oh, the grace of God!!!” I don’t know what he had done, but somehow he had gotten his files off that dead clacker and had them on a flash drive in his hand. AND THERE WAS GREAT REJOICING!!!!!

God’s grace clearly extends to electronic devices.

So many, many wonderful things

I haven’t blogged in way too long, and there are, as usual many blog posts in my head that have never gotten written, and probably never will be. This is sad.

However, the reason no blogging has occurred recently is that we have had many other wonderful things going on, the most momentous of which was Matthias and Jessica’s MARRIAGE on August 6!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here are some bullet points of my own unforgettables, so that if I or someone else ever reads this in the years to come, these events from mid-July to late August, 2016 will be remembered.

~ Jessica arrived on July 14, and there was much rejoicing! Scott, Josiah, Andrew, and I were at the airport to meet her, and hugging, smiles, and tears were involved.

~ Our house was appraised. This in order to facilitate our receipt of a home equity line of credit, and although Scott was somewhat disappointed at the appraisal amount, I was pretty impressed that it was 60% higher than what we had paid for it 20 years ago.

~ We registered Andrew for school. He’s attending Branson High School for 11th grade. The building is massive, and his class has 370 other juniors – as opposed to six other sophomores at TCA last year.

~ Many meetings, appointments, hang-outs, and wedding planning discussions occurred. The days leading up to Jessica’s wedding were full;  on our family wall calendar, one day in late July had 10 scheduled events.

~ Jessica preached at Lone Star Church (her wedding ceremony venue) on July 24. The small building was packed, and the congregation gave her an amazingly enormous offering!

~ Matthias arrived from Hong Kong! He greeted me with a hug and called me “Mom.” I was smitten. What a wonderful husband God has given Jessica. . . and we now get the blessing of a third son – with someone else having done all the parenting work for us.  = )

~ We camped at Buffalo Point for two nights. For old time’s sake, you know. Katie and Josiah were not with us (sadness), but a good time was had by all. Matthias likes kielbasa.

~ We discovered that mermaids cannot sit down in wedding dresses; thankfully a functional workaround for our local mermaid was developed.

~ Jessica made a truly insane amount of Chex Mix and an equally crazy number of Buffalo Chips. For thems as cares, the full reception menu was Meat (ham, summer sausage, smoked salmon) and  Cheese (cheddar, co-jack, Swiss) on Crackers (Club Multi-Grain, Flip Sides), Veggie Trays with Dips, Fruit Salad (cantaloupe and peaches from McKenna’s, green grapes, strawberries), Chex Mix, Cheesecake (only for the bride and groom), Cookies of Many Types for everyone else, lemonade, sweet tea (which Pastor Barb forgot to make!), and water.

~ People arrived from absolutely all over to celebrate and to help in many ways. Here are some of them.

Matt and Nikki from Pennsylvania

Grandma R, Kristy, Milt, Becky, Ian, Rachelle, Amanda, and Isabel from North Carolina

Josiah from Missouri

Lee from Hong Kong

Susie and Jon from Florida

Bettina from Switzerland

Jorge and Kristi from Kansas

Hannah from California

Kenny, Jennifer, Letitia, Natalie, and Shannon from Australia

Kevin, Elsa, and John from Texas

Grandma and Grandpa V from Arkansas

Katie from Virginia

~ Ah, Katie. Katie was the detail person. With the click of a mouse, she could tell you what time Lee would arrive, who was picking him up, and where he would sleep; the estimated cost of summer sausage to feed 100; who would do Jessica’s hair and makeup at 5:30 AM; call times for each round of pre-wedding pictures; and at any point in time, what still had to be done and by whom to make Matthias and Jessica’s entire wedding experience as wonderful as possible. Her spreadsheets were truly works of art, and we (I!) simply couldn’t have done this wedding without her calm expertise. And I won’t go into any detail about a certain bridesmaid dress. . .  = )

– The 3:00 PM rehearsal in a church with no AC was quite. . . well, warm, but we did it, and the cookout rehearsal dinner was fun. Matthias is exceedingly fond of cornhole, but even fonder of Jessica.

– The morning of the wedding was cloudy (perfect for pictures!) and significantly cooler than the 90+ degree temperatures we’d been having. The forecast rain did not occur; only a few light sprinkles as pictures were being completed.

– The 10 AM wedding ceremony was glorious in every way. Jessica was exquisitely lovely, and Matthias’ was incredibly handsome (kudos to Andrew on M’s hair), the worship was powerful, Pastor Barb said just the right things, their vows were perfect (I think nearly everyone cried happy tears along with the bride and groom!), and the married couple exited with joy to SCC’s “The Great Adventure.” It could not have been better.

– The reception was relaxed and delicious. Thank you, LaShell, Cheryl, and our exceptionally fine crew of church helpers.

– The Roberts and Varner contingents had a family cookout after the young marrieds departed, but I think all who were in attendance would agree that four hours is simply an insufficient amount of time to re-connect meaningfully with 19 other members of one’s extended family.

– Young bears visited the honeymoon cabin. . . twice! I’m sure Jess and Matthias will remember that for a while.  = )

I also want to note here some of the many amazing ways God provided for Matthias, Jessica, and our family in connection with this wedding. Scott’s job had ended in April, and since he is focusing on missions work, we have had no regular income since then. Jessica and Matthias paid many of the wedding expense themselves, other friends and family contributed time, money, expertise and willingness, and Scott and I covered the rest of it. That said with great appreciation, please REJOICE with us in the following:

– There was no charge for our use of Lone Star Church for the wedding ceremony. And the pastor invited Jessica to minister there, and the church gave her a HUGE offering.

– There was no charge for using our home church for the reception.

– The photographer donated her services as a wedding gift.

– Nikki and Bettina, with Matt, Lee, and others, did all the decorating, set-up, tear-down, and clean-up;at no cost to us.

– LaShell coordinated the food service for the reception and let us use lots of her “stuff” for serving and decorating, all at no charge.

– My pastor wanted to help me personally. She came to our house two days before the wedding, did a week’s worth of ironing for me, and cleaned two truly scuzzy bathrooms! She is always an enormous blessing.

– Jessica was absolutely gorgeous in her wedding dress. She had ordered it online in Hong Kong, and it cost. . . are you ready? . . .  $30. Yes, you read that correctly, thirty U.S. dollars!!!

Of course, it helped that Jessica’s priorities for her wedding were that it be fun, delicious, and stress-free. She didn’t want or care about elaborate clothing, decorations, flowers, music, or other wedding-y things, and that helped keep the cost manageable, but I was absolutely thrilled when she texted me while they were honeymooning to say that her wedding had been “perfect, just the way I wanted it.”

That made me smile and, as any good mother of the bride, cry, but my tears were tears of joy!


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