The Googegs - Strangers in the World

The Googegs - Strangers in the World

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Traveling the World

Every week I wait for an email or skype call from Taiwan. Early Friday morning I was excited to hear from the Philippines and on Sunday night we heard from Yap Island.

Yes, Riane is becoming quite the world traveller. She is spending this year in Taiwan as I wrote about in this post. For her winter break from teaching she has an opportunity to visit family on Yap Island.

Jerome is originally from Yap Island and six years ago we had the grand privilege of taking two weeks to visit.  It was the visit of a lifetime and we loved every minute of it. Due to the cost of travelling half way around the world, we weren't sure when or if we would ever go again. We are so thankful that Riane will indeed get to do this again.

Just to give you a flavor of where she is going I will include some pictures of our trip six years ago -- when we only had four children:

The first site -- the view out of the airplane window. Of course, if you are on the other side of the plane it looks really scary, like you are descending into the ocean.  The island is small -- 48 square miles.
I took this picture off the Internet, just to say Riane will be spending quite a bit of time at Manta Ray Bay Hotel. It is owned by her Uncle and Aunt (Jerome's Sister). Beautiful, Beautiful place. If you want to see great pictures of Yap click here to visit their website.
I know Riane is staying at an Uncle and Auntie's house that we stayed at -- and this is the view off the back deck. I had my morning coffee there every single morning.

Although Yap welcomes tourists and there are many things to do -- tourists are not allowed in the villages or on the private beaches. So walking on the beach will look at lot like this:

There is really stone money there just like you read about in the encyclopedia or could possibly see behind glass at the Smithsonian.
Traveling with family can involve a lot of people.
I am so sad that this picture does not do justice to what we really saw there -- the water is so blue it looks like a swimming pool -- it IS the ocean.
The most important and exciting thing that Riane is having the opportunity to do is to renew and strengthen relationships that have stretched due to time and distance.  These are all the cousins on the day we left 6 years ago.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


This little boy turned 16 this week.

Hard to believe. I heard a speaker once he said he made a drastic mistake when his kids were young .... he blinked. I can understand.

Braydon last year has been an amazing year of exciting events.

1.  He learned to go soul-winning.

2.  He starting a mowing-odd jobs business with Ricky.

3.  He baled hay -- best job he ever had is how he describes it.

4.  He is learning to drive.

5.  He shot his first deer.

6.  Processed his own deer with Ricky and Dad.

7. Travelled to Columbus to work on a Republican campaign election weekend (definite Highlight).

8. Ran his first 5k -- placed 33 out of 683.

It was a great year and a great birthday. Braydon loves lemon and for a couple years running we have tried various desserts which always turned out runny and not quite right.  This year was the trick.

Lemon Ice Box Pie -- click for the recipe -- it was awesome!
How do you light birthday candles when you are out of matches?

Not recommended, but it works.

There were lots of fun cards and drawings.

And he received the Deuce watch.  Silicone, for showering, sweating and even snowboarding and surfing. It was the one thing he really wanted and he loves it.

Here it is in action.

We pray that Braydon will continue to

... grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. ... (2 Peter 3:18)

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Musical Journey

There have been numerous studies on the effects of classical music on the brain. We have probably all heard of the "Mozart Effect" -- how listening to Mozart is supposed to make our children better at math. I am not a scientist, and I haven't performed any formal study on the effects of music on the brain, but I can tell you what I see in my own home.

If I play loud, silly or pounding music, in short order I will have loud, silly, pounding children. This pretty much applies to all my children. However, I have many children whose lives began in chaos and trauma. More chaos from any area of their lives is just not necessary.

Music in our car is usually hymns or some form of Christian music. We do not indiscriminately listen to the radio. I don't simply desire calm brains, I desire my children to have a heart for the Lord and so we attempt to honor the Lord in all areas of our life.

Many years ago, I started incorporating classical music in our home. It began as a homeschooling venture. We didn't formally study it, I just figured that exposure would be part of the overall arts program. At the time we were able to attend a few programs at colleges for opera and plays and once even an organ concert. We now live further away and there's the multiplication factor --the cost of events times 2 children versus the cost of events times 7 or 8 children.

I started with a CD called "Mozart for Morning Coffee." I chose it for no other reason than Mozart seemed like a good classical choice and I love morning coffee. Braydon was a baby then and started crawling by listening to the first track. Every time the Violin Sonata in G, K. 301 Allegro came on he would get close to the speaker, raise on all fours and rock.

We went on to listen to "Peter and the Wolf" and other CD's I would pick up occasionally. At one time we had a set with a little booklet explaining the time periods and brief histories. We made this more of a study and read and listened. I have to tell you this scheduled time seemed far less productive to me. The kids were inattentive and thought the pieces were too long. I think the only reason they thought they were long is I wanted them to sit and listen since it was now "school" and we were "learning".

However, I learned and stopped making them listen. I started playing classical music in their rooms at bedtimes. I figured that it might help calm the kids who had experienced trauma. I don't honestly know what "scientific" effect this might have on their brain, but it has had a great effect on our family. Bedtimes, now have sweet music flowing from rooms. My youngest, Isaiah, has been the most interested in music. He LOVES Vivaldi. He can't wait for his music. When Grandma asked what she should get him for Christmas, I suggested classical music for his room. We went to a local music store and found used CD's for $4.00. I told the clerk that I was looking for music for my son. He asked his age. When I said he was 5 he tried to direct me to a children's area. I simply said, "No, you don't know my son." He received Shostakovitch and Tchaikovsky instead.

Wokelle shares the room with Isaiah and he is not interested in the music at all. He would rather listen to story CD's like "Adventures in Odyssey." Those are fine, but not at bedtime. He stays awake much longer waiting to hear the end of the story, or the next story. However, since Christmas there has been a funny development. Instead of his usual, "Mom, they're boring."  He said, "Not Shostakovitch, how about Tchaikovsky."

God worked out the final piece of my classical journey just this winter. A friend gave us a new player. He told us that they were given it as a gift and had never found a use for it. It was still in the box. This was some player. It has a record, CD and cassette tape available. The goal is that you can dub from one to another. I suppose with the idea that your old tapes and albums could be put on CD.  It was much more decorative than what we had and fit nicely in our living room. On that trip to the music store with my mom, I discovered that they sell used albums for $1.00. $1.00 -- you cannot go wrong. The first trip I picked up one classical record;  A Boston Pops. I wanted my kids to see a real record and how it plays. They had no idea. It was so fun that on a second trip I bought four more classical records.

I didn't think much of it, until I realized that it was the last piece of my puzzle. Heaven and Adela share a room right off the main living room. Heaven came to us from quite a traumatic background and has always suffered nightmares and difficulty sleeping. I really desired to play classical music for her and see if it helped calm her down. At first it was great and she had a CD she seemed to like. Not long, however, before the player and CD in her room became a power issue and I had to remove it. I have always been a bit sad about it, but I have never felt like she was ready to have it re-introduced. However, God orchestrated the final answer with the record player. I put on a record in the evening, in the living room, and it is heard perfectly in the girls' room. No power struggle here, the record is in the living room, under my control.

I can't quote statistics or studies about effects of classical music on the brains of traumatized children. I can tell you that listening to grating, children's silly songs is a thing of the past for us, as we begin to informally change the diet of music in our home. Just last night, while cleaning up the kitchen, one of my teenagers told me how much he likes Vivaldi's "Spring" and was surprised by an Aaron Copeland piece. Heaven came out in the morning and said she slept so well ... together we decided waltzes might be fun to turn on tonight. It is enough evidence for me.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace ...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Holiday Run

It felt like this holiday season was one long run from Thanksgiving to New Year's. We had a lot of fun and held on to some traditions, but the run was definitely on.

We had family visits.
Delivered a couple of cheesecakes.
Received great new ornaments on Christmas Eve.

Enough snow for both work and play.

Celebrated Jerome's birthday.
Received gifts we loved (He literally took this off only for bed.)
Some gifts were kind of goofy.

This is also the year we ran out of time for the trip to see Santa and get a picture taken ... so we took our own.
We have arrived at 2013. I am ready for routine, I am ready to see what new adventures the Lord will take us on this year.