Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Auf Wiedersehen to Jonas

After being with us since mid-September, Jonas left last week for greater adventures elsewhere. An experienced world-traveler, Jonas brings sunshine, enthusiasm and joy to wherever he goes. In the 4 months he was here, Jonas made dozens of friends and shared his creativity with dozens more. A tangible example of Jonas' creativity is his campfire lamp. Inspired by experiencing Samantha's and Jake's storytelling paper campfire in Menlo Park ...

 Jonas designed and created his own.

Badgered by Helen for years for not acknowledging her email to him, he built her a beautiful wooden box that softly and quietly pulses a gentle golden light whenever he receives an email ... no matter where he is in the world. I call it the Pulse Notifier.
Mega thanks to 712 Innovations (the maker space in downtown Topeka) for empowering Jonas' creativity. An even bigger thanks to Jonas for sharing his zest for life with us. 

We don't say "goodbye" to Jonas. We say "see you later." He was with us in 2010-2011 as he attended his senior year at Topeka High School. We joined him in 2012 as we traveled Germany and France together. He returned to Topeka in 2014 and again now. In between, he finished his industrial engineering degree and traveled to 40 countries on 3 continents. We can't wait to see what happens next.
See you later, Jonas.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Ruth Gardner Mass - December 27, 2017

On December 27, 2017, the good people of the Glory to God Prayer Community organized and served a German memorial luncheon for Ruth Gardner at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.
Several of us spoke about Oma at the luncheon.
After lunch, we attended the Mass for Oma in the beautiful and historic German Church.
It was exactly what Oma wanted.

We are forever grateful to the kind and loving people who made this happen.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas - 2017

Christmas caroling. A horse-drawn wagon ride through Potwin. Snow. Christmas Eve. Christmas Day. Family. Here are some of the photos that somewhat describes our fun times together.
Christmas Eve luncheon with Carolyn.
Christmas Eve afternoon preparing for Santa ...
 
Christmas Eve ...
Christmas morning ...

Family ...
Family group photo ...
Gardner genes apparently oppose silly photos.
Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Ruth Gardner dies - December 5, 2017

After years of struggling with dementia, and a decade of praying to meet her Lord, Ruth Gardner died peacefully in the early morning of December 5th. With us in the room, and her hand gently held by her loving daughter, she passed calmly and quietly without distress.
She was 88 years old.

In the longest obituary ever submitted to The Topeka Capital Journal, Helen provides a sweet eulogy to her mother. (Click to read.) 

When going through old family photos, we discoverd this one of Ruth from 80 years ago. It deserves posting.
Thank you for the decades of love and kindness.
We love you.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

AFS International Desserts - 2017

This year marks the 20th year that we've hosted the AFS International Desserts Holiday Party. This year we had students, and desserts, from Germany, India, Portugal, Japan, Switzerland, Belgium, China, Spain and Italy.
They told us of a Holiday celebrated in their homeland ...

and brought a traditional dessert enjoyed by their family.
Until next year, let the world continue to shrink.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

Our small Thanksgiving gathering was enhanced this year by a young 19-year-old soldier from Fort Riley. Yep, my super patriotic father arranged to have a soldier - with no family nearby - join us for Thanksgiving.  PFC Thierry is from Florida via Haiti. It was great fun to have him join us. As usual, we started our meal with a toast "To our Troops."
We also visited the cemetery where we initiated the new flagpole at Crow Island.
We also got to hug Helen's mother who offered smiles and "thank yous" to those within earshot.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Saturday afternoon with Dad

Every Saturday afternoon is Dad time.  Although I speak with him daily and have lunch with him on Tuesdays, Saturday afternoon is our quiet time together. We always take a sunflower to Mother. 
While Dad visits her every day, this is our time together with her. From there, we do errands and talk. Chocolate milkshakes are also commonly on the agenda. I am lucky to be able to be with my Dad. I will enjoy it while I can.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Halloween - 2017

Today was Halloween.

It was cold.

It snowed.

But it did not stop Halloween.
Neighbors say we had over 1,500 little visitors. We also had a few big visitors .... all the way from distant continents. Life is interesting. 

Happy Halloween.

Samantha's 37th birthday

Amazing. Samantha is 37 years old. Did I say amazing?  Amazing.

We traveled to California to hug her ... and Jake and the kids, of course. More later. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Jonas and Theresa

Jonas is back. This time he brought Theresa. 

Our history with Helen's cousin Jonas goes back to August 2010 when he came from Hamburg to attend Topeka High School as an exchange student. We next saw him in Germany and France in 2012. After adventures in southeast Asia, Jonas returned to Topeka in the summer of 2014. Now he is back again. This time he brought Theresa ... his fun, beautiful and super-sweet girlfriend. Both are graduates with industrial engineering degrees. Congratulations to them both.

We took them out for margaritas
and banana splits.
Helen taught Theresa the fine art of a PBJ on Wonder Bread. She was not impressed. 
After a short visit, Theresa returned to Germany to start her job as an industrial engineer in Hamburg. She is doing really exciting stuff with wind energy in the Baltic Sea. Jonas will stay for a while. I am certain that he will do really exciting stuff as well.