Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Full Heart after a Full Week

What a busy, great week. Last weekend was spent on report cards but we did have Beth's sister, niece and family over for supper on Saturday and it's always nice visiting with them (especially good this time as we celebrated the 3rd birthday of our great-niece/godchild Jenna). Monday I was off so finished up the reports and then took Beth to Toronto for her biannual post-thyroid cancer checkup. All was fine there, though we waited for almost an hour to see the doctor (who had an obvious Kiwi accent - at least obvious to me after having seen 'Flight of the Conchords'). That night we made it back just in time for a Colombia meeting, which went very well, even though Beth and I think we probably can't afford to go this year.
David and Rachel also got their new house on Monday so we went over there on Tuesday and helped them paint the bedroom (a cool limey green).
Wednesday was music practice as I'm playing guitar on Sunday (have officially joined the schedule) and it went way better than I thought it might. There's no drummer this week so ended up carrying the rhythm a bit more, but that's what I'm kind of used to so it felt good actually.
Thursday after school I attended a retirement party for a friend from my last school. It was so wonderful to visit with former colleagues - so many lovely, understanding people, it left me wanting to spend more time with so many of them. Got some good encouragement about the advantages of retirement and especially for me retiring before Beth and being her support system at home. Of course, we're still at least 3 years away from that decision so who knows what will actually happen (but it's nice to dream).
Friday was wash day (yeah, I'm practicing for the retired househusband role) and small group which is always fun, especially with some of the games we play with some very competitive people.
And today is David and Rachel's moving day, so yes it's been a full week.
Read through 'Where the Red Fern Grows' this week but was a bit disappointed in it. I was surprised by it's simple writing style and that may have been purposeful on the part of the author but I really am not sure about that. Also I found it difficult to identify with the boy hunting raccoons with his 2 dogs and that is the main thrust of the plot. A simple faith (with a number of miracles scattered throughout) was evident but I didn't appreciate him misquoting the Bible to say 'God helps those who help themselves.'
Musically I listened to Kerry Livgren's old "Seeds of Change", David Wilcox's "Open Hand", The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" (this last in preparation for a concert in February). Then I read on Andy Osenga's blog that he thinks U2's 'Achtung Baby' is the best album ever so I listened through that and I must agree that it's a pretty fantastic release. I've always loved 'The Fly' but I never even realized that 'One' is on this (because I had kind of stopped listening to U2 when Achtung Baby was originally released and have never really given it a chance to be properly appreciated). I was originally going to label this post "The Greatest Band in the World" but I'll save that point for a slow week.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ups and Downs

Baby it's cold outside! Excited this week to get tickets (1 free with Air Miles) to fly to Florida at March break. Will stay with Mom and Dad, making it a cheap holiday (also had to pay the large electricians' bill for our renovations/old wiring removal this week). Have found that it's always nice to have something in the future to look forward to.
Joel took a pretty big spill this week while snowboarding at Blue Mountain and injured his hip. In a lot of pain and ended up getting Xrayed and crutches for going up and down the stairs. But he seemed to  heal pretty quickly and was back to work by the end of the week.
Sunday was a great day, with an excellent sermon on kindness and then a chance afterward to put it into action as our Thursday small group served lunch to some of the children and their families. Beth and I also took some leftovers to a community organization.
Report cards are due in a week so will spend a lot of time this weekend writing them - bit of stress with the new format.
Finished the Oliver Sacks book "The Mind's Eye". He writes about some fascinating ideas related to our brains and perceptions. He covers topics like losing the ability to speak or read, or have depth perception, or even be able to recognize faces. Sacks always humanizes anomalies by focussing on actual people who have had to deal with these disabilities.
Listened to Mark Heard's last album again this week (he died in '92, I was at the concert where he had a heart attack on stage). It has lost absolutely nothing over the years. Want to sit down with the lyrics to appreciate it even more. Also listened to the great posthumous collection "Hammers and Nails" and Sufjan Steven's "The Age of Adz".

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Live the Life that Unfolds Before You

This week I got pretty absorbed in a fantasy series for younger readers called The Wilderking Trilogy. It's a delightful story about an average young shepherd boy who has a prophecy bestowed upon him that he would one day be the king. Lots of parallels to the David story in the Bible but it has many of its own twists and turns and is full of strange people called Feechies who provide much of the wonderful humour in the books. Some good lessons taught throughout, especially liked the one I used as the title for this post.
Feels good to have been able to maintain a more disciplined lifestyle, walking more, getting to the fitness club, losing a few pounds even. Today Beth and I went out for breakfast, but we walked, and then went grocery shopping and walked back home laden down with 2 big bags of food plus 10 lbs. of potatoes - it was a good workout (plus add in 2 rounds of shovelling this morning).
Music listening this week: Caedmon's Call "Raising Up the Dead" - really love the last song, 'Free'; Derek Webb "The Stockholm Syndrome" - this guy's always pushing boundaries (in a good way); Burlap to Cashmere "Anybody Out There?" - AMAZING musicianship; Carolyn Arends "Love Was Here First" - her stuff seems a bit sparse and simple after listening to the rich instrumentation of some of the other artists, but still some of her lyric writing is excellent and moving.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Showing Up

It's been a good first week. It seems I'm wired to appreciate being more disciplined/organized so I just feel better when my life has more of that. Got to the fitness club 3 times this week, walking more (which allowed me to do more ipod listening, which I've really missed lately), took Josie (our yellow lab) for a short walk every day, spent time on spiritual disciplines. Lots more little things too. Decided I'd be in charge of weekly washing of clothes.
A few times this week while at school I was reminded again of the saying about how 80% of success is just showing up (apparently attributed to Woody Allen). As a teacher I've always felt it was important to take care of the little things, like something as simple as meeting the students at the door. And for students, I've become more and more concerned by those who are absent from school a lot. It even struck me at study group on Friday when we looked at the concept of 'church' and how Heb. 10:25 says to not give up meeting together (ie. 'show up').
Finally finished "The Source" by James Michener. It's a great book but at 1088 pages it was a pretty big task getting though all that history - set in Israel, beginning in 1964 and then going back thousands of years. I think it will be a while before I attempt a tome like that again.
Listened to great audio interviews with Steve Hindalong (from The Choir) and Dan Hasseltine. Those guys are pretty articulate. Led me to listening more to the Jays of Clay "The Shelter" release - I like it.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Annual Family Letter

Happy New Year!

2010 was a year of some pretty big changes with the Kreutzkamps. And in the midst of these changes we’ve been most thankful for God’s firm foundation of love and care.

After 19 years at the same school Terry decided that a transfer was necessary, so he put together a new resume and went through the interview process. It all worked out wonderfully as he is now teaching across the street at the school our children attended (many years ago now!). Beth can’t believe that he is now actually closer to work than her.

This spring we also decided that we needed to move on from the church we’ve been attending for over 22 years. Of course, this was something we’d been wrestling with for quite a while and was not an easy decision. We’ve settled in nicely at a nearby Brethren in Christ church and have gotten to know some good people there by being involved with a couple of small groups.

The final big change came in the fall when we decided to finally repair the living room ceiling (it had a large crack in it - for about 14 years!). This involved clearing the room, taking down the old ceiling, and hiring workers to install a new one. But the adventure didn’t end there as we decided to redecorate, pulling up the rug and taking off wallpaper. Through that process we discovered that there was active old knob and tube wiring in the front section of our house. So we ended up ripping out the walls in the living room. Then we had insulators, drywallers and electricians in and out of the house for over a month (it was a good thing Terry worked just across the road so he could run home and check in on the workers) . Many coats of paint later it looks wonderful, but it took until Christmas Eve day before if was completed (just in time to pick up a tree - half-price, maybe we’ll wait that long next year too!).

Holidays this year included:
February: Beth and Terry spent Family Day weekend cross-country skiing in Midland
March Break: our first cruise (Western Caribbean) with David, Rachel and 4 friends - we loved it!
July: a week at our favourite cottage near Huntsville (actually looked at some for sale)
August: a quick drive to Nashville for a music/writing conference
       a repeat of our 10 day missions trip to Colombia
December: an overnight with the whole family in Collingwood (all kids snowboarded)

Beth continued to enjoy her role as charge nurse, especially the Monday to Friday straight days schedule (she actually gets long weekends too!) but she will soon be sharing this position with another nurse.

David and Rachel are excited about moving into their first home at the end of January. Rachel is working at a local printing company and David still enjoys his job at the Waterloo Wellington  International Airport.

Josh was laid off from his computer job in April but found work a couple of months later with a company in Oakville. He appreciates his coworkers and is thankful for the income, but is finding the drive each day pretty tedious.

Alison is working hard to finish up her Sociology degree this year, along with putting in a lot of hours at the pool (head lifeguarding now). She did some travelling this year -  a missions trip to Haiti in May and a brief trip out west this summer to visit a friend. She plans to take next year off  of school (delaying teacher’s college) to work and travel.

Joel continues to work full time hours at a high-end Indonesian restaurant in Waterloo, building up his chef apprenticeship hours. He’ll take Level 2 Culinary courses at George Brown college in Toronto in the fall of 2011. 

Wishing you and yours all the best for the new year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Why I'm Blogging (Again)

Donald Miller (I visit his website on a daily basis, and you should too) had a great post today about not watching the parade in 2011. That is: PARTICIPATE! (somehow). So trying to blog again seems like a good way to not just be a passive user/consumer of internet information. Of course, it's a new year and we always have great resolve at the beginning of these committments, but I do hope I can keep this up. Whether anyone cares to read it or not, it's still a good exercise for me to gather together some thoughts.
So, I will also be getting back to the fitness club tonight (after a 6 month break) and I am trashing the stupid Solitaire program on the computer. I want 2011 to be a great year of personal and spiritual growth. Feel free to keep me accountable (I just hope my children aren't reading this).

Movie of the Decade?

I've been trying to figure out why I was so blown away by this movie. Of course the acting is phenomenal and the story is fantastic. I think it means a lot that it is based on reality. The only movie I can remember affecting me like this one was Shindler's List, which of course dealt with much more important events. It seems like a long time since I've been able to say: "That was a GREAT movie!" I've seen lots of good ones but not many that qualify as great.

It was so neat to see Queen Elizabeth portrayed as a young girl, and it seems to me that they found someone with a striking resemblance if my memory of actual pictures from the past are accurate. And having visited some of those locations in London added a special touch as well. But in the end it was the relationship between these two men that had the greatest impact on me - one minute I was laughing uproariously and the next I was choked up with tears. There are some amazing lines in this film.

I would be interested in hearing a younger person's opinion of The King's Speech. I understand how it attracts the older crowd and to be honest I sure don't mind attending movies with seniors - no goofing around/chatter, and some heartfelt applause at the end (of course I joined in).

Best of 2010

A website I visit every day ( posted a note about favourite books, music and movies of 2010. I found it to be a good exercise reflecting back. I found that I read about 50 books, listened to about 40 albums, but only saw about 20 movies (nothing wrong with that of course).

Crispin - The End of Time by Avi (this is a great young adult book series)
American by Choice by Craig Ferguson (audio version - great storytelling, small wonder it's up for a Grammy)
A Lfetime of Wisdom by Joni Eareckson Tada (audio version - this lady is the Corrie ten Boom of our age [if that means anything to anybody])
The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer (inspired me to change schools after 20 years)
Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (gives an important perspective on Muslims)

Music: I saw 4 out of these 5 (missed Arcade Fire) performing live which always adds to the enjoyment/appreciation.
Sufjan Stevens - Age of Adz (and All Delighted People)
The Choir - Deplumed
Lost Dogs - Old Angel
Andrew Peterson - Counting Stars
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

Movies: Not enough great films seen this year (looking forward to King's Speech though - it was sold out when I tried to go this week).
Toy Story 3
The Social Network