Friday, July 24, 2009

Still waters run deep

This morning, when we started assembling at the table for our morning Bible time, Zak noticed Sammy (6) staring wistfully at the ceiling. The day was dawning, and the room was quiet, except for Zak tuning his guitar. Zak noticed Sammy's blank expression.

As Zak tuned, he wondered: was Sammy thinking about his new goldfish? Was Sammy glad he got to wear his overalls today? Or was he just sleepy and dazed?

Suddenly, the quiet was broken, and Zak's wondering ended, by Samuel's unusual question:

"Zak, what is an isolated thunderstorm?"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The grandparents return!

To pass the time while we waited for them to arrive at any minute, Sammy and Susanna made this sign, using drinking straws. Grandma prefers to drink her daily can of decaf diet Coke with a straw....

This week, we enjoyed several full, fun days with Grandpa Richard and Grandma Jemelie. We always appreciate their cross-country treks to visit and hug everyone.

This year was their first time meeting Joshie in person, who got his first major facial injury hours before their arrival. He pulled himself up using a stepstool, which fell backwards onto his little lumpy (head). His cut is healing nicely now, and when sympathetic folks sympathize with his owie, we say, "You shoulda seen the stepstool!"

Here he is with Grandma. He prefers we only photograph his good side.

Grandpa hits the backyard trail with Sammy (6) and Gideon (4). Gideon prefaces most of his statements with, "I need to tell you something..."

We were blessed with wonderful, cool weather during most of the week and no rain. Though our property backs up to a huge wetland area, mosquitos have been pretty light lately, probably due to the dry weather. After her bumpy experience feeding our mosquitos last summer, Grandma was packing extra protection, however, with this cool device clipped on her back. It blows a constant stream of repellent into the air around the wearer, and she says is really worked well.

Still showing up stacks of index cards for the children to use for drawing, Grandpa's fancy new high tech gift for the children this year was: rope. It was a big hit, and made for hours of entanglement, tripping, tree-climbing, follow-the-leader, and greatly increased the time it took to get everyone seated at the table.

Grandma's grand finale was walking the girls through a repeat performance of her world famous cabbage rolls and banana cream pudding pie, saying, "They did everything themselves."

Cabbage rolls (beef, brown rice, tomato soup, onion soup mix, chopped onion) with tomatoes and cucumbers and rolls on the side....mmmm good!

A new activity for this year's visit was a few rounds of Klein on Klein volleyball. Apparently stuffing all those cabbage rolls has given Grandma quite a good return hit on the court! She taught us a thing or two. Coupled with Dave's high-speed, earth-bound serves, the Kleins won... and lost ... repeatedly. It was very fun!

Grandma and Grandpa are off now to spread more love and cheer to our little cousins to the south.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Event Horizon!

Here is Dave, following Noah, to The Event Horizon....

Event Horizon: For the case of a horizon perceived by a uniformly accelerating observer in empty space, the horizon seems to remain a fixed distance from the observer no matter how its surroundings move. Varying the observer's acceleration may cause the horizon to appear to move over time, or may prevent an event horizon from existing, depending on the acceleration function chosen. The observer never touches the horizon, and never passes a location where it appeared to be. -- Wikipedia

It seems that at the start of each year, as the calendar begins to fill out, we start looking for the "event horizon", when we'll be done...with travel, projects, whatever. Of course, that won't happen this side of heaven, for we must work while it is yet day. New things always come up. But the term "event horizon" is what we often playfully refer to when in the midst of the busiest of times...and we used that term quiet a bit this spring!

We have had a very busy past several months...and continue to be so...but a break in the clouds became apparent. For months, Mommy and the kids, during full days of multiple deadlines and projects, have been discussing "when this is all done," having a surprise for Daddy. For even though there were plenty of things for us all to do, nobody's list was longer than Daddy's. We had already planned to take as much of the load off of him as possible, but there was much that only he could do...

Then, a couple of weeks ago, some things clicked:

1. In addition to all the many things we had done, we witnessed the arrival at a major milestone in the completion of Dave's upcoming programming book.
2. On our preferred surprise day, our next door neighbor agreed to let our guests park in his backyard, adjacent to our campfire area. Hee, hee, Dave would never guess!
3. We finally had all parts of our yard spruced up at the same time (since we were having guests the day before the surprise!)

We really wanted a God-glorifying celebration, with the opportunity for all to share the things that the Lord has been doing in their lives. We had really been missing spending time with many of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. So, the surprise was kind of set in motion by Dave's book milestone, but it was not merely a party for Dave, but a time of Christian fellowship. And the Lord greatly blessed us...and those who came to share it with us!

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon as people arrived and parked in our neighbor's backyard.

From there, they walked to our campfire area, which had been cleared, decorated, and tabled. Once the first two guests arrived, the fellowshipping began, though the surprise hadn't taken place. We assured everyone that Dave had no idea what was going on.

Dave, Zak and Ben were upstairs working on computer projects. Though Dave's book was done, he had lots of edits and review suggestions to go through. Meanwhile, we were stringing up holiday lights and moving yard furniture and party supplies. At times, we were frantically racing around for tools or supplies, running from the woods to the house and back. Whew!

Nothing was out of the ordinary when I summoned Zak, and later Ben, to help me with something. Once everyone was assembled in the woods, Noah came upstairs to escort Dave to a surprise he wanted to show him.

Noah led Daddy past a few cutely handcrafted "This way to the Event Horizon" signs (by Susanna). Perhaps he noticed there were cars in our neighbor's backyard, but that was hardly unusual. Then, Dave entered our little trail in the woods to the campfire area. Nothing unusual there.... until he spotted Steve, our tall brother from south of Madison. Since we see Steve and family so rarely, this did not compute, and Dave's brain started heating up.

When the whole group yelled "Surprise," this further complicated things. Surprise for what? It wasn't his birthday, and since the book was not completely done, it didn't register that this could have anything to do with it.

Due to technical difficulties, nobody actually captured Dave's surprised look at the moment.
Our brother James described his look as "priceless".
This picture was snapped after he was able to comprehend what was happening.

To help clarify things for Dave, we enlisted the help of troubadour Mark:

Mark attained inKLEINations fame last summer for his on-the-fly (pardon the pun) composition of "Mosquito Blues". This time, he helped polish a ditty that I wrote to help commemorate Dave's completion of all the chapters of his book. Mark added the title "Tech Writer's Blues". I don't have Mark's final lyrics, which were much bluer than these, but here is the core...

You see him over at Culver's plunkin on that Mac keyboard

You see him over at Culver's a plunkin on that Mac keyboard

He'll be the one with the decaf soda

Typing stuff that makes normal people bored

Now he's over at McDonalds, hoping that his laptop batteries hold

I saw him over at McDonalds, hoping that his laptop batteries hold

There's no power outlets at McDonalds

But he'll be there till the fries get cold

He's got that kid that does his proofin, adding commas like he's a wealthy man

He's got that kid that does his proofin, adding commas like he's a wealthy man

That kid's drinkin leftover decaf soda

from his daddy's decaf Sam's soda can

He's got a table of contents, and its over two pages long

I say he's got a table of contents, and I say its over two pages long

If that thing gets much longer

I won't have time to finish this song

Now he's got that thing in beta, and he'll take a break for tech review

He's got that thing in beta, and he's breaking for a tech review

Bet they won't add any commas

But parentheses -- he might still need a few

He couldn't persevere unless the Lord gave him his power

He'll tell you he couldn't persevere unless the Lord gave him his power

because that man was at Culver's

writing just about 2 paragraphs an hour!

After that interlude, we began the process of seating everyone around our campfire pit, which was not ignited, so everyone could have a chance to share what the Lord had been doing in their life and family. That took a while, because most of the folks had never met each other and were busy talking and laughing, etc. But, we did manage to get the ball rolling. Since Dave had no advance warning, he was to take the last turn. I think I caught him massaging his facial muscles, as he told me he was hurting from smiling so much.

This was such a special time and everyone seemed to have a different angle, so there was not much repetition. God is so good!

After Dave wrapped things up, he gave thanks for the food, among other things. Another reminder to our children, its only because of the LORD that we can have such special times with our family in Christ!

So, we had it pot luck, and it worked out so cool, because we just brought what we were making anyway for our lunch, nothing that Dave would notice. Folks brought lots of yummy stuff!

Here are Jay and Mark.

Here are the hard-working Klein fellowship committee girls enjoying the company of Abigail, their friend. The weather under the trees was so pleasant. The Lord gave us a perfect day for an outside event, sandwiched between two rainy days!

And what would we have done if it rained? Simple: we just knew it wouldn't!

Getting acquainted with distant family...

Dave was so blessed to overhear and/or participate in so many great discussions with the brothers.

Baby Zipporah was a happy camper, and found many welcoming arms.

The kids enjoyed exploring our bit of woods and decided to build a fort, Lincoln log style.

These same energetic young-uns would soon be enlisted to haul ice cream out to the backyard!

We discovered the fun of family volleyball at the home of our dear friends, the Criggers. As Giddy (foreground, age 4) put it, "I liked playing volleyball, and I never even hit the ball once!"

Our visitors enjoyed checking out our new batch of Muscovy ducklings, of which only 4 of 9 remain.

Linda Crigger didn't miss a beat in taking up the scoop and dishing up brownies and ice cream for the crowd. Thanks so much, Linda!!! Susanna made 8 pans of brownies, and we learned that 8 pans of brownies, to Daddy, smelled just like 1 pan of brownies. He was so clueless!!!

We located the dessert table out by the volleyball game, realizing it was not going to be easy to get them to take a break.

As the shadows grew longer, folks started to depart for home. We began the process of saying goodbye...

Our Abi and friend, Hope.

Hope and Sarah. Though ALL the children helped tremendously, Sarah's organizational skills and willingness to lift heavy objects was a blessing.

Susanna, our certified brownie baker, takes the cake!

Zak and Lee Crigger, both are the oldest in their respective families.

Certain friends, who wish to remain anonymous, found it hard to say goodnight.

What a wonderful time! Thanks to our dear friends who came out, and mostly thanks to the Lord Jesus for everything! We love you!!!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Missouri in June

Here are some photos of our big trip to St Louis and the St Louis homeschool conference.

We arrived in St Louis during a heatwave; it was even hot back home in Wisconsin! Of course, we knew it would be hot anyway. We had reservations at a RV campground near the conference venue.

We also rented a little cabin nearby our RV spot. The amentities we looked forward to in the cabin were air conditioning and a private bathroom.

The amenity which Joshie looked forward to was the kitchen sink.

We arrived late at night, and the next morning was conference set-up day. Since Dave didn't need to help with that, first we dropped off Dave at his office in downtown St Louis, a short walk to the arch.

Then we drove to the conference center and set up our table, which didn't take long.

This year, we had re-done our two big display boards, and Ben made a custom plywood case to store them in, so they wouldn't get banged up. We used clear contact paper on the displays, which seemed like a good thing to do. The one above has lift-up flaps, and we were pleased to see they are getting bent up with use!

The table set up went really quick, so we found a nearby Sam's Club and did some grocery shopping and beverage drinking. We were unaccustomed to the heat, though when we lived in deep south Texas, it was not that big of a deal. From Sam's Club, we went to Walmart. From Walmart, we went to Goodwill. And then, to pick up Dave in downtown St Louis again.

After a hot night (for the boys and Daddy in the bus) we got ready for the conference and out the door (or should I say in the door -- of the bus?) and on the way. Lately, we had been having mysterious bus konking out experiences. That mornning, the bus did konk out once, but it started right up and we made it in plenty of time.

Visiting with Missourinians at our table was very nice, and we were pleased that people took lots of our free literature. Several had been to our website in advance, and were familiar with some of the articles. Over the two days of the conference, at least four families told us they planned to begin copying the Bible. It was neat to see one family look at the Bible copy display, as the dad read the text outloud and added his comments. There were LOTS of fathers at this conference, praise the Lord!

We had nice "neighbors" at nearby locations. We also enjoyed chatting with some of the vendors elsewhere.

A couple of the homeschool group leaders which we had emailed prior to the conference greeted us, and offered realtor recommendations. With nothing to lose, we asked one new acquantance if they happened to know a diesel mechanic. Yep! Believe it or not, we had a homeschooling mobile diesel mechanic come and look at the bus while we were at the conference. He recommended a new fuel filter, and got the parts for us.

There were lots of sessions at the conference, and we had full attendance privilidges. Of course wanted to see the Answers In Genesis representative, Dr. Tommy Mitchell, whom we hadn't heard before. As we went to the room for his session, we found that the previous speaker was over time, and Dr. Mitchell was waiting along with us outside, feeling rushed to set up his projector in time for his talk which followed. Zak offered to help him with his setup, and he happily accepted. That was fun for Zak.

Dr Mitchell has a southern accent and is a very enjoyable speaker. He also drives a Mac! When Dave later realized he had left his Mac charger at his office and that Dr. Mitchell had a Mac, he asked Dr Mitchell if he could borrow his charger. He graciously agreed, which was a blessing. Dave had some catch-up writing to do.

In between sessions and visiting people at our table, what to do? Why not homeschool? Or is that homeschoolconferenceschool? Gideon learned to read the word "God". He is already familiar with G, as it's his inital. He just looked for all the instances of "God" on the first page of Genesis -- fun!

We managed to bring about everyone's Bible copy stuff, which was packed in a rolling suitcase. So, the kids did a little of that near a table where Dave was working.

Don't tell Mr. Bauchman! Yes, Dave brought his computer to Voddie Bauchman's excellent talk, but was pretty captivated by this neat brother, and didn't get much done. Our family really enjoyed hearing his messages. He said a lot of familiar (to us) things which we haven't heard anywhere else! We especially liked his message "Children of Caesar", where he brought out the important point that christians should not be copying the world's methods of teaching their children - "school" at home. When he mentioned that his kids, when asked what grade they are in, just shrug their shoulders, many Kleins smiled and definately could relate!

At the end of day one of the conference, we arrived at the bus, took roll, and then realized Mommy's purse, with the key to the air conditioned cabin, was left behind in the last keynote! It looked like they were locking up for the night, but Solomon dashed back and was able to get to the room and locate the purse, safe and sound, praise the Lord! We weren't really sweating about my wallet, but we were hoping that the key to the air conditioned cabin could be located! Phew!

As we drove back to the campground that night, the bus started stopping. It happened repeatedly, and sometimes it would not immediately start up. The fuel filter was not the problem. Since we did not want to miss the last day of the conference, we felt we'd just have to try to get there instead of tracking down a diesel shop.

And we did make it to the conference the next day, though we stopped several times and were late as a result. But, we were very thankful to arrive at the air conditioned conference center and promptly forgot about the problem for the day.

We had a full day of visiting at the table, attending a few of the many sessions, and shopping, not to mention doing the cool escalators several dozen times. But by mid-afternoon, it was time to close the vendor hall.

The big kids offered to help Dr. Mitchell and his sweet wife with packing up the Answers in Genesis booth. It was huge! We have actually been able to help AiG at several conferences, and have learned that just offering to help is a great way to get to visit with the speakers. Dr. Mitchell told us the interesting tidbit that just about all AiG speakers use Macs except Dr. Lisle. For what it's worth...

That evening, after a very much enjoyed meal at an air conditioned Jack in The Box (with memories of happy times in Texas), we headed back to the campground through a construction area, unexpectedly coming to a dead end, and unexpectedly being stopped by a police officer. Well, more accurately, we stopped first, preparing for a doozie of a Y turn, and the officer was curious and stopped behind us.

After giving the officer the old line about how we were just leaving a homeschool conference, Dave accidentally handed him our expired RV registration. The officer was not impressed and started questioning us, but then we located our CURRENT RV registration (why do I save the old ones?) and he became much friendlier and sent us on our way. Phew!

The next morning, we had planned to drop Dave off at his office, but he decided he could not let us drop him off at work until the bus was fixed. So we found a nearby diesel shop, and they kindly told us to come in as soon as we could and they'd get right to us! Wow, that doesn't happen often!

We have learned that most diesel shops don't have waiting rooms large enough for us all. But we kind of felt that it would not take long, as they truly took us in right away.

They actually let us just sit by the bus and watch, as they hooked up the computer analyzer stuff and out came the result:

cam shaft position sensor

They were fully surprised when we let out some sighs and demonstrated we were pretty familiar with this $20 piece of equipment. The boys had just replaced this part last summer...after having the same konk out symptoms...and changing the fuel filter. Duh! (whoops!) Apparently, the part they used was defective, because it was supposed to be another 100K before it randomly started konking out the motor.

Well, that was a done-in-record-time repair, and we were on our way out, dropping off Dave and looking for an air conditioned place to look for possible houses in St Louis!

The house shopping was slowed down by our learning that St Louis County, in which St Louis is located, is subject to occupancy laws. Most of the municipalities require no more than two children per bedroom. Since we were interested in houses closest to Dave's office, it threw us for a loop....all 15 of us. It seems pretty strange, but apparently, that's how it is in St Louis county.

So, we had to broaden our search. We did find one house in particular which looked really good and was just over the county line. We went by twice, took photos, and then learned it was in escrow. So it was not the house God picked out for us.

We decided to leave for Wisconsin in the early evening. Dave's boss picked him up from the RV campground for the weekly company breakfast, so we stayed and cleaned up our cabin and prepared for departure.

After everyone got showered, we packed our clean laundry, cleaned out the bus, cleaned under the bus (oil), and got situated in our seats. We also checked out one of the houses we were looking at one last time. Finally, in the early evening, we rolled into St Louis to pick up Dave ... not knowing it was the night of a Cardinals game! Wow!

It remained pretty warm in the bus until we got Dave, snaked our way out of the Cardinal zone, and started rolling down the interstate. As the sun sank lower in the sky, and it cooled off, we sat back and relaxed on the 7 hour drive. Having the motor not spontaneously shut off was still a novelty and we sure enjoyed it.

Joshie is always a happy traveler!

We rolled into our driveway at 2 AM.... 20 or 30 degrees cooler. Thank you LORD!

We have already gotten some nice communication from several homeschoolers in Missouri who stopped by our table. The conference was another big blessing!