2009 Miles Christmas 2009
Warm and Merry Christmas Greetings to All
This year proved less fruitful academically than I expected but more productive than expected with regard to the grandchildren. My brain has finally recovered and plans are progressing to return to Scotland as early as possible in 2010. But the big surprise was that instead of the four grandchildren expected this year, we have had six—with another one due in April. Since all the brothers were having babies, Tessa and Reuben produced twins. Does anyone think the family is competitive?
In April I went to a theology conference in Wheaton, enjoyed running into a couple of colleagues from Aberdeen as well as hearing both Gordon Fee and his daughter speak.
The highlight of the weekend, however, was meeting Andrew Michael Miles on his birth day April 16th. Karl and Cori have been enjoying watching him grow and acquire skills quickly. At seven months he is taking steps by himself, playing soccer and has 6 teeth. Cori insists that her physical therapy occupation is not a factor and Karl at home playing with the boy all day isn’t either. Or so we are told. Meanwhile, Karl has found a promoter and is expecting to go on a Midwest tour in spring with a live band. Other exciting news includes grandbaby number fifteen who is due in April 2010 as Karl and Cori hatch their “Irish twin.” Their doctor said this baby had miscarried and recommended a d&c. They decided to wait for nature to take its course and discovered the next week that the dr. was wrong. This ‘Lazarus’ baby is alive and well and they’ve changed doctors.
The same day Andrew was born, Tessa found out that she was expecting twins! Three weeks later, Gwendolyn Marie and Isadora Grace were born on May 7th and 8th. Yes, 10 min. before and 10 min. after midnight! No, they are not identical but it is easier to tell them apart when Gwen wears green and Isa wears pink. So summer was busy what with adjusting to the demands and space requirements of two babies. Laundry, homeschooling and feeding the troops fills the days. Tessa didn’t get as much canning done as usual but the twins are cuter than a wall full of jars any day.
On Monday the 11th, Teri and Rachel’s baby Immanuel David arrived. (He does look like his namesake, doesn’t he!) Three weeks later they left for classes at U of North Dakota in Grand Forks with Wycliffe’s SIL program. But it worked out well and they became interested in Wycliffe’s program translating the Bible for deaf communities. They have two more summers in ND to finish their masters’ in linguistics. At home, Rachel is still teaching and administrating in a St. Louis charter school while Teri has taken on the role of Mr. Mom. Everyone seems to be thriving. We enjoyed visiting them in ND and took them over to visit our Nordeen-Johnston roots in Bemidji and Hines, MN, a short jaunt away from their classes.
Five weeks after Immanuel’s arrival, Randy and Shari produced Elias David on June 22. That made five grandbabies in ten weeks. Micah and Serena are quite thrilled with this happy and cheerful brother. Randy is still content his quantum physics/chemistry research and gardening. Shari has survived sending Micah off to kindergarten and being involved in numerous mom’s activities at their church.
We took our usual July trip to the Midwest in order to visit family including Andrew and Immanuel. And, very conveniently we are able to stop by Indy to visit James and Tina and the kids on every trip. James decided to leave his IT job and join the team at Charles Schwab this fall. Will also started Kindergarten and loves math. Alex loves his preschool and recreates Nascar races with his toys. Not to be outdone by the siblings, James’s third baby Marcus Allen–our fourteenth grandbaby– arrived Dec 18th.
Dave was finally let go from his job of 20+ years at IR/Volvo on September 30th so the next day we packed up the car and left on a month long tour of the Southwest. Dave had never seen the Grand Canyon or the Rockies from ground level so this was our opportunity. Our goals were to see the Grand Canyon, visit my sister in Santa Barbara, visit Dave’s sister in Salt Lake City and return to St. Louis at the end of October for Immanuel’s dedication. Everything else was serendipitous! On leaving St. Louis, we discovered that we were inadvertently following The Historic Route 66! So, we enjoyed a Route 66 museum in Missouri, a Uranium mining museum in New Mexico. We took a bus tour of Santa Fe and visited the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. We drove through the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest. We spent a night with good friends in AZ and wished we had a week to spend there. On our way to the Grand Canyon we drove past a sign for the Meteor Crater and stopped to see that. It really was the great Meteor Crater we’ve heard about all these years! What fun!
Driving up the East side of the Canyon we meandered through the Navajo Reservation and then along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the main lodge area. By mid-afternoon I started feeling the effects of the altitude so we headed on down to Williams, AZ for the night. I guess that’s what happens when one spends 2 years at sea level in Scotland. Apparently high latitudes and high altitudes have nothing in common. Who knew! In Williams we ate at the only diner in town — with a lot of people we’d seen on the Canyon wall — after which we drove out of town to enjoy the zillions of stars only visible in the desert sky.
Our trip through the desert and mountains to Santa Barbara had a couple interesting stops. After looking for a place to eat lunch in English, we finally stopped at a gas station/diner. On noting the updated and hygienic lavatories we decided it could be a viable option for victuals. Lo and behold, it was a Route 66 diner with retro tiled walls and banquettes, posters of Elvis and Marilyn and huge platters of good hot food. The other interesting event was a tractor pulling up to the pumps for gas. Oh, and the other diner who was wearing an Elvis toupee. Lovely.
We had a relaxing visit at my sister’s in SB, took a whale watch tour on a sailboat and saw sea lions and birds – no whales — and enjoyed the quiet ocean air for a couple hours. Betty and I knit and watched Numb3rs. We went to early church discovering on arrival that everyone else came in their pajamas because of the youth sleep-over. We had way over-dressed! Then we met Jeff at the East Beach for brunch with the seagulls. Monday we drove up to Solvang, the Danish heritage tourist trap, to visit the knitting stores. Betty and I had a good time and the hubbies were both most tolerant.
Tues we left for Salt Lake City and just made it to the Hoover Dam 5 minutes before the last tour. Dave dashed off to catch that while I moseyed on down to the outdoor café and shop. He took pictures of the generators. The next day we toured Zion National Park, an amazing place well worth many days of adventure although we had only one. We made it to Dave’s sister’s in Salt Lake City that evening and enjoyed their hospitality. We really enjoyed driving through all the open spaces with mountains and plateaus and deserts surrounding us. Amazing how much empty space there is – amazing how much desert there is in this country. Who knew the East was such an unusually verdant rainy land! We toured the Mormon Square, surprised that symbolism is so entirely foreign to their life and theology. Niece Kristen was kind enough to fly down to her folks for the weekend so we could see Ellianna, another spring ’09 baby. Park City and Antelope Island occupied us the next day. I walked around the block in Park City, bought some yarn, and discovered I was not enjoying the altitude there now either! Fortunately, Antelope Island was on the Salt Lake so I could recover there.
The next day we took 70 across Utah to the Rockies and I realized that I would not be enjoying the mountains what with my inability to adjust to altitudes. So Dave dropped me off at “our weekend cabin in Denver” i.e., Karl’s friends Troy and Jenny. Evie (age 4) determined that I was her special company as we sat on the couch and had private conversations and knit. Dave drove up as far as he wanted as fast as he wanted and saw the Rockies in the snow! We visited the Red Rock Amphitheatre and Dave drove down to Pike’s Peak – another opportunity to drive recklessly with no cringing spouse. Monday we visited James Dobson’s recording studio thanks to our son’s friend who works at Focus on the Family and gave us a private tour of his area. We then headed back to St. Louis, stopping in Salina, KS to visit more family roots. We toured the farm vehicle museum and the history museum. It was nice to have the time to visit random things we found interesting. We discovered that we enjoy seeing the amazing natural wonders and family and agricultural history a lot more than urban culture. These are good things to know in order to plan our next adventures. Still on David’s list of things to see is Yellowstone Park.
In December, my folks came up from Florida to visit and meet the twins. They are the first twins we know of in any branch of the family tree (other than one set of identical second cousins on my dad’s side). We had a Grover Christmas celebration with Tessa’s and Randy’s families – nine of their fourteen great-grandchildren. And it was the coldest week of the year just because the Floridians came.
Dave has had a few interviews for new jobs but is beginning to wonder if he even wants to start over at a new job. Reuben and the grandkids are keeping him plenty busy as it is! Reuben is farming our land, developing an organic vegetable market called Willow Haven Farm. www.willowhavenfarmpa.com. Right now Dave and Reuben are building a market shed behind the house so he can prep and deliver his veggies more efficiently. Everyone is enjoying Daddy and Grandpa being home most of the time. Dave is still involved in Bible Study Fellowship and Choir although his deacon term has ended. He is looking into serving in ministry if anyone would have need of his Oracle and SQL database experience.
I am planning to head back to Scotland by February. Lord willing and my visa comes through. I’ll be there for at least six months and up to two years depending on my supervisor’s wishes. I have no intentions to be doing this after I turn sixty! There are too many grandchildren to visit and I’ve enjoyed my time at home too much!
Meanwhile, we wish you all the peace and joy that passes all understanding.
Dave & Lo
(We’re on Facebook, too, now, in order to keep up with the kids!)