Archive for August, 2014


We have been back in the school routine for a couple of weeks, and it really is going very well.  In fact, if it can just keep going like it is now, we’ll have a fantastic year!

John has officially made it to his senior year.  He is very excited about graduating and beginning college next year.  Everyone asks what his plans are, and he’s still in the process of getting that narrowed down.  He has his options narrowed down to 2-3 schools and is interested in studying physics, math, music or a combination of those subjects.  He has a pretty good line-up of senior classes and is really enjoying A Beka Academy speech class.  I almost wish we hadn’t have waited until his senior year for this class because it is so full of good, practical information for life, but I don’t really know when else we could have fit it into his schedule either.  It is only a semester, so to fill the other semester he is going to take a family consumer science course–which we will all enjoy because there are lots of food labs!  🙂

Brock is a sophomore and is really enjoying his Spanish class.  I am thankful for that–John didn’t enjoy it so much.  He is looking forward to being a junior next year when he will be old enough to participate in some of the college music classes like John has done.

Cosette is in 8th grade this year, and Luke is in 7th grade.  They just keep plugging away at the A Beka Academy curriculum–not much new to report there.  They are both enjoying their music lessons and are looking forward to participating in the college musical (hopefully) again.

Kara is in 5th grade, and she is very happy to have a “new” desk.  She had used one of our little desks for so long–she really needed something different last year, but we didn’t do anything about it.  This year, she is using the desk that I had when I was growing up, and she really enjoys having a bigger work area!  She is still working on the trumpet every day and enjoys playing the piano.

So, life keeps us busy!  And, there are several outside-of-school things going on for us this year as well.  John, Brock, and I (and maybe Cosette?) are going to write another library readers’ theater script, but this year we are going to start completely from scratch.  I know:  that’s kind of scarey!  I am also helping to rewrite and lead a melodrama play that will be part of this year’s barbershop concert in the early spring.  The barbershop director wants people not in the chorus to do the acting, so that cuts out John, Brock, Luke, and Dan.  I am planning parts for Cosette and Kara, so they will enjoy that.

A big new project for me this year will be helping with our local Christian School’s Christmas program.  This will be an exciting adventure, to say the least, but I am sure that it will be a good, rewarding experience.  As my own kids grow up and leave home, I’ve always considered helping with music at this school, so this will be a small way to get started with that.  Right now I am looking through scripts trying to find just the “right” one.  Once the program is selected, I’ll need to get back with the school to arrange practices.

My new saying is this:  Life sure is lively!  I am thankful for every opportunity, though.  It is a blessing to be busy in meaningful, purposeful pursuits!

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Downstairs with words Collage

I spent the last few weeks of my summer break switching rooms around in the basement, cleaning, painting, etc.  I had planned for several months to switch what was the music room with what was the room that John and Brock used for school.  I knew it would be no small task to accomplish, but we simply needed a larger room in which to practice our string ensemble.  Once we actually got started, it all went pretty smoothly, and I am so pleased with the results!  The music room is much more comfortable now, and is more easily used with my piano students who no longer have to wander through our main school room just to get to their lessons!  Now, they can just head down the stairs and go to the first room–much nicer for everyone!

The boys’ school room is working much better than I ever imagined as well.  It’s actually closer to the rest of our school activity, so I can keep better touch on what everyone is doing–very nice! 

I wasn’t going to paint the main room originally because, as you can imagine, it is quite a job because of its size.  In order to move our music room, though, we needed to install a door, and we also used that opportunity to widen a very narrow door in that main room.  That little bit of construction left walls that needed to be painted, so I just “bit the bullet”  and went for it.  Again, I am so glad that I did!  It cleaned everything up and made everything seem so fresh.  What a nice way to get started on a new year of school!

I cut it pretty close as far as getting everything finished and ready for our first day of school, but it all worked!  We have been back at work now for a couple of weeks, and things really could not be going any better.  It’s going to be a busy, busy school year–more about that in my next post.

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2014 County Fair Pictures

Fair Collage

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museum Collage with text

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Jain Collage with text

I was delighted when Luke and Kara decided to team up to play this wonderful couple, Ralph and Ada Jain, because not only were they amazing, inspirational people, they were also my grandparents!  🙂  I am blessed to have had them as almost a second set of parents–their impact on my life cannot be measured.  I still think about them and the things they taught me very, very often.

Ralph and Ada both had interesting stories.  Their lives were not easy, but they proved that hard work, diligence, and honesty can go a long way in this old world.

Ralph was born in 1908.  He spent his childhood working so he could go to school.  It was definitely a struggle at times, but he kept going until he graduated from Colby High School in 1926. For a few years after his graduation, Ralph worked as a printer for a local newspaper and also learned to operate the movie projectors at the Lyric Theater.  He even helped to install and operate the first “talking pictures” at that theater, and often spoke of how amazing and exciting it was to have synchronized sound with the pictures.

In 1929, Ralph began following a path that would lead to his life-long career.  It was at that time that he entered the Kirksville College of Osteopathy and Surgery at Kirksville, Missouri.  The next few years were very busy ones trying to keep up with classes and work to pay for the classes.  During his senior year, he worked as an instructor of anatomy and physiology for a nursing school, and it was in that class that he met Ada Foster who would become his life’s partner.  They often told with grins on their faces that, yes, the teacher of the class dated a student in the class.  That was pretty taboo in those days, but they knew that this match was planned by God.  They were married on June 6, 1933.

Ralph and Ada moved to Colby, Kansas, in 1934 to establish Doc’s career in medicine.  His office was located above a local bank, and patients had to climb several steep stairs to see him.  I personally have heard several of his patients say that this was certainly not a problem–the care that they received when they reached the top of those stairs was certainly worth the effort.  Doc was able to diagnose patients without much of the fancy equipment and tests that are available today.  He did this by first talking with and listening to the patient, and then by examining them with his hands and special training.  He was able to do the labs that were done at that time, and he did that–all himself.  He was the doctor as well as the receptionist, billing clerk, lab technician, scheduler, etc. all wrapped up into one!  He shared his office with a dentist, and occasionally he even served as a dental assistant! He retired in 1975 after 42 1/2 years in the same office.

Ada was born in 1913.  Her early years were not easy.  Her mother suffered permanent disability resulting from contracting polio, so Ada and her sisters had to do a lot of housework even as small children.  Ada often talked about having to stand on orange crates in the kitchen to be able to reach the sink to wash dishes. She learned hard work at a young age, and those lessons and values stayed with her throughout her life.

Ada graduated from a school of nursing and served alongside of her husband, Ralph, as his nurse-assistant in his obstetrical practice.  They shared many stories of the days of delivering babies in people’s homes, traveling from one county to another.  She also worked for a time as a nurse for the local hospital before deciding to “hang up her little white cap” in 1964,

After retiring from nursing, Ada began to learn a new hobby:  machine quilting.  I don’t know that when she picked up this hobby that even she realized how it would practically re-define her life!  She started out making quilts for friends and family, but her hobby soon blossomed into a full home-based quilting business.  I well remember Grandma’s customers admiring her great skill when they picked up their finished projects. She kept track of all of the quilts that she made, and although I don’t know exactly how many she actually completed, I do know that as of 1978, she had completed 2,400.  And there were many more years of quilting after that!

Ada was a committed mother and grandmother.  She definitely valued her family over everything.  We have great memories of Grandma’s house–especially of her wonderful cooking.  Cinnamon rolls, peppernuts (i.e. “Grandma’s Little Cookies”), banana cake, and popcorn balls for Christmas all hold special places in the hearts of her grandchildren.

After his retirement in 1976, Doc also enjoyed his family first, and then his many hobbies.  He loved photography and all things electronic.  He was often seen in the front row of community events taking pictures and making audio recordings.  He also enjoyed amateur “ham” radio, and passed his love for that on to many family members and friends.  His call letters were WOLOW–I can never forget that.

Doc and Ada were a faithful couple.  They considered it a life-highlight when their family joined them in celebrating their 50th anniversary in 1983. They were truly best friends, and people today still talk about seeing them walking around town holding hands even into their old age.  Their marriage lasted until Ada’s death in 1996, giving them 63 precious years together.  Their faithful love through good times and bad have given all of their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren a rich heritage and example.

I miss my grandparents every day.  They were such tremendous people, and definitely had a special place for their “Lois Ann.”  I am looking forward to the day when we will all be reunited.  In the mean time, it is my goal to be like them–in faith and steadfastness.

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5-1 dress rehearsal b

Note: Photo graciously provided by the Prairie Museum of Art and History of Colby, Kansas

Cosette chose an interesting character to portray for this year’s Night at the Museum camp.  She wanted to do someone different, someone with funny stories to tell.  So, she decided to research Joe Shalz, nicknamed “Flying Dutchman.”

Joe Shalz was a pilot in Western Kansas during the years of the 1920’s through the 1930’s.  He wasn’t just your run-of-the-mill regular pilot though!  He was a trick pilot who performed in air shows, worked as a crop duster, ran his own flying school, and was even known to deliver needed repairs to farmers out in the field.  One of his greatest achievements was passing the rigorous tests to receive a license to transport mail and passengers anywhere in the USA.  His name is associated with the greatest of the great in flying history:  Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and even Orville Wright.

Cosette chose him not only because he was a great pilot, but because he had such exciting and humorous adventures.  She told about a time when he nearly lost his license due to a crazy stunt he performed.  He took an old plane up into the air, flipped it over, put it into a dive, and proceeded to set the plane on fire!  Even though this looked like an uncontrolled crash, he actually had planned it all along and bailed out of the plane before it crashed into a fiery heap before an astonished crowd.  He was warned not to do this again, but he got too much pleasure out of this shocking stunt and actually performed it again several years later–and he never lost his license!

She also described Shalz’s creative solution to a recurring problem that he faced:  sand burrs.  Those crazy stickers flattened airplane tires, causing Joe many headaches!  How did he deal with this?  He filled the tires with molasses!  This worked pretty well in hot weather, but when the weather turned cold, the molasses would harden and give him pretty rough landings!

Joe Shalz tragically died in 1931 at the young age of 37.  He, along with two teenage passengers, died in a plane crash at a Western Kansas fair grounds.  It is believed that Shalz had been coasting the plane and was overcome by a strong gust of wind.  Evidence shows that he struggled to regain control of the aircraft until the very point of impact.  His funeral was attended by more than 2,000 people who gathered to pay their respects to this great man.  Pilot friends flew over the cemetery and dropped flower petals in honor of their friend and co-worker.

In 1975, the Colby City Council unanimously voted to officially rename the Colby Airport to Shalz Field in honor of Joe Shalz.  It is a fitting and lasting tribute to the “Flying Dutchman” of Northwest Kansas.

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2-6 Old Film Collection

Note:  the pictures for this entry were provided by the Prairie Museum of Art and History of Colby, Kansas, and are used with their gracious permission.

A highlight of the end of our summer break was the 2014 Night at the Museum Camp that was hosted by the Prairie Museum of Art and History.  This was the museum’s third annual event like this during which volunteers from the community select an artifact from the museum, research a person associated with that artifact, and then portray that person telling about his/her life for a public performance at the end of the week. Last year was the Prairie Family’s first year to be involved, with John, Brock, and Cosette all assuming historical roles.

John and Brock both had summer jobs that kept them pretty busy this year, so Cosette went back for her second year joined by Luke and Kara.  The camp week was packed with research, games, and rehearsals.  It’s amazing how much can be accomplished in five days!  Cosette wasn’t even sure who her character would be on Monday, but by the end of the week, she was all decked out in a pilot’s costume ready to tell her person’s story.  Luke and Kara decided to team up, which proved to be both a good thing and a challenging thing.  Luke missed the first two days of the camp because he was on a canoe trip, so Kara jumped in to do quite a bit of research on her own.  She was sure relieved when her partner was able to join her!  They were both a little nervous that they wouldn’t be able to pull it all together in such a short period of time, but they did great!

The week gave us lots of opportunities here at home to talk about acting, history, costumes, etc.  Probably the best discussions we had centered on how each person that is portrayed at this event had an interesting life and accomplished something meaningful.  I challenged all of the kids to live such a life.  It is easy in today’s world to be so distracted by all of the “stuff” that we diddle away our time selfishly entertaining ourselves. Instead, we all need to find what God has called us to do, and do it wholeheartedly for His glory.  That, and only that, will give our lives true meaning.

My next entries will tell a little bit about the characters that my kids chose to portray this year.  In the meantime, here is a slideshow of some of the behind-the-scenes activities that took place at the Night at the Museum Camp 2014:


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More Summer Activities Collage

The last few weeks of our summer break were absolutely crazy with activity!  John and Brock were busy working, and the kids were busy with crafts, friends, a camp (more info to come), the fair, etc.

So, what was I doing??  PAINTING!  Even before school had ended in May, I had decided that our downstairs needed a new paint job.  Originally, I had only planned on painting what was the music room and what was the boys’ school room since I was switching the location of those two rooms.  As part of this process, however, we had some doors installed and one door widened which led to the need to paint the entire basement–including the large main room that we use for our main school room.  Sigh….  I had hoped to get an earlier start on it than I did, but running kids here and there really kept me from any meaningful progress until mid-July.  It was a ton of work, but I am very pleased with the results, and it has made a wonderful, clean space to work in for school and music.  Once I catch up on my summer posts, I will take some pictures of how it all turned out–it really makes me happy!  🙂  (The only problem is now I realize how much our upstairs needs painted too…. I guess I know what I’ll be doing next summer!)

Kara enjoyed another year of swimming lessons in July.  Wow, is she getting to be quite the swimmer!  She successfully passed Level 4, and had a wonderful time doing so.  She really improved her endurance this year and fine-tuned her diving.  Luke wanted to take a video of Kara going off of the high dive, so here it is:

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