Monday, April 18, 2016

Birthdays

We've had two birthdays in 2016 so far; Anna turned 14 in January and Nicolas 17 in March.  I am not going to extol all their awesome virtues and why I love them so much here on the blog, but I am (with their permission) going to share a funny anecdote about each of them.  These may just be funny to us as many family stories are, but if this post makes it into a blog book I know my children will enjoy seeing them in print someday.


Anna's birthday fell on Sunday and she requested Aunt Becca's Shepherd Pie with applesauce for dinner and Michigan Grandma's Pistachio and Hawaiian desserts.  Seth insisted that he put candles on one of the desserts (pistachio, to be exact) and we sing "Happy Birthday" before blowing out the candles.  Micah and Austin, the Air Force guys from Mountain Home, were at our home for dinner and Micah had also invited his friend Marty for the first time.  Knowing that blowing out candles on a cake or dessert can be rather insanitary especially when you have guests that are not family, I specifically joked aloud to Anna, "Don't spit on the dessert when you blow out the candles!" So, there we are standing around singing "Happy Birthday" and watching Anna blow out the candles which if you know Anna is a pretty uncomfortable situation for her anyway.  Imagine her horror when as she blows out the candles out comes her chewing gum, PLOP, right on the middle of the dessert!  The guys handled it with kindness and tons of laughter.  "So, that's the piece you wanted, Anna?"  Thankfully, Anna also lived up to her name and conducted herself with much grace while she just laughed along with us.  


Interestingly, Nicolas' story also involves the guys from Mountain Home.  When we visited them over our spring break last month we stopped at Micah's new apartment after taking them out to eat to see his "digs".  His roommate was not home when we arrived, but arrived later and evidently did not receive a full introduction, just "this is Pastor Russ and his family".   Micah told us later that after we had left, his roommate had wanted to know who the Hispanic guy was with us!  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Break 2016

Although we didn't travel or make any big plans for the week of spring break we still found plenty to do.  Enough at least to wonder where the week went and "could we have another week, please?"  

Late Tuesday afternoon we met our Air Force "boys" at the Mountain Home Air Force Base. (2-3 guys drive an hour from the base to attend our church.  They eat dinner and spend the afternoon at our house and head back after the evening service). It was extremely cold and windy that afternoon/evening, but we still walked around to see the planes on display.  We then drove around the base to see where the guys spend most of their waking hours.  We left the base after an hour or so and headed into the town of Mountain Home to take the guys out for a burger at Frankies. 

I love this picture because it shows how small "camo" is getting.  He can't quite give it up, though.  I need to find out if Columbia still makes the jacket and order him another size!




On Thursday morning we hiked Table Rock with several families from our church.   


Two evenings that week, Russ and I went out for dinner with friends from church.   With families and full schedules it is always nice to sit and connect on a deeper level than conversation in the church fellowship hall allows.    

Church activities also occupied quite a bit of our time that week.    It was a busier week for Russ as he needed to prepare three sermons rather than just two (Good Friday and Easter Sunday).  Nicolas and Anna and I took more time to practice (cello/piano and piano duet) as we were in charge of music for the prelude and offertory Easter Sunday evening.  The youth group had a work day at church on the Saturday before Easter.  A huge brush pile was hauled away, new mulch was put down in the playground, furniture was moved around in the church offices (and old stuff hauled away), and new marker boards were put up in all the Sunday school rooms.  When the work was completed ultimate frisbee and pizza followed and the kids were all on their way home by 6:00.  I also attended two church baby showers so used my free time that week to crochet around burp rags.  I think I need a trip to Roelofs Fabrics in Sioux Center to stock back up.

We did love the fact that Easter fell over spring break this year.   Tradition in the Herman home is to put away the normal devotional for family and dinner devotions and pull out the Resurrection Eggs and Passion Hymns devotionals.  I was also edified by reading Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, a compilation of writings/sermons of various Reformed pastors put together by Nancy Guthrie.  



Seth must not have had enough to do because he spent quite a bit of time putting together pranks.


It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it is actually a little disturbing when you initially flip up the toilet lid.

I forgot to mention on an earlier post that Cloverdale URC hosted the Dordt choir on their spring break tour through the Northwest. We were one of their last stops on the way home.  They arrived late on a Friday afternoon (March 11) and we fed them supper at the church.   After the concert the kids were split up into homes of church members.  We hosted two men and two women. They had to be back at the church to load onto the bus by 6:45am, so it was an early breakfast that Saturday morning!  The concert was beautiful and we enjoyed visiting with the students.

I also failed to mention that Nicolas participated in State BPA the same weekend the Dordt choir was here and his team did not move on to Nationals.  They were quite disappointed as they put so many hours of work/practice into their project, but decided they would try again next year!

Monday, March 21, 2016

While Waiting for Spring...

Russ and I had the opportunity and privilege of attending the Idaho State Prayer Breakfast with featured speaker Dr. Ravi Zacharias.  Russ received an invitation as a pastor in the Boise community, but we were also invited by a couple in our congregation.  He serves as a state representative and his daughter (who also attends our church) serves as a state senator.   



We had a fun night out with a family from church watching the Idaho Steelheads play hockey.



Seth had fun playing basketball and soccer with a buddy from church.  His mom had an unexpected meeting at work and he spent a couple hours with us one afternoon.  I think he should make it a weekly routine as the boys had lots of fun.




Caleb traveled to Guatemala for a service project with a group from Grand Rapids.  I look forward to hearing more about his trip and seeing his pictures when he is back home from college early May!


Russ and I also attended the Boise Philharmonic and Mastor Chorale which featured Mozart's Requiem.   Two of the Air Force fellows from Mountain Home treated us to dinner and the orchestra.  Having studied Revelation this year in BSF the music and words seemed to have a little more weight.  Here is a sample translated into English:

The trumpet will send its wondrous sound 
throughout earth's sepulchres
and gather all before the throne.

Death and nature will be astounded,
when all creation rises again,
to answer the judgement.

A book will be brought forth, 
in which all will be written,
by which the world will be judged.

When the judge takes his place,
what is hidden will be revealed, 
nothing will remain unavenged.

What shall a wretch like me say?
Who shall intercede for me,
when the just ones need mercy?

King of tremendous majesty,
who freely saves those worthy ones,
save me, source of mercy.

It was just a wonderful evening with great company.  


And...it looks like spring is on its way as the apricot tree is in full bloom!


Artsy Asia

The last few weeks we have been studying India and China, finishing up just before spring break.  We had a lovely chicken mango curry meal when we finished up India and cheated on our Chinese meal a little bit by ordering from Panda Express last weekend.  The kids' homeschool track coach founded a non-profit organization to assist young adults phasing out of the foster system, and Panda Express was giving 20% of Saturday's profits to the organization so thought it was a win-win arrangement.

A few weeks ago I realized we had not done that much with painting/drawing, etc this year so ramped it up a little bit for this unit.  What I found is that if I initiate, buy the correct materials, find pictures to draw from, and offer a bunch of excitement they will "do" art!  

We did rangoli art last time we did India five years ago, but we enjoyed coloring rice, finding pictures to print out and creating our own masterpieces again this year.  





I gave each of the kids a small canvas and new acrylic paints and told them they had to paint something that reminded them of India.  

India's national bird--peacock, Taj Mahal, and the snow leopard:




We studied the grassland and mountain biomes during this time.  I went to Wal-mart to purchase some grass seed and found these cute little critters instead.  They were much cheaper and it was a whole lot more fun to cut the grass and give them new "hairdos".



We learned that a mountain actually contains many biomes depending on the height due to temperature and level of oxygen:  grasslands, deciduous forest, coniferous forest, alpine meadow, and snow line.


We also studied ecology and conservation and did a little acid rain experiment with two identical plants.  The kids were so distressed that the plant was dying that we had to cut the experiment short.  


China wasn't quite as artsy as India, but the kids (mostly Anna) did put together a model of the Great Wall.  




They carried their renewed interest in drawing outside one nice day and beautifully decorated our sidewalk/patio area in the back.


After spring break we will finish up in Asia with Japan and Russia and then head to Australia to finish out the year!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Some Favorite Books

I don't usually write about the books I've been reading either on my own or with the kids because I don't think that what I have to say about a book is really that important.  Also, books are personal.  What someone loves about a book, another person may not.  What speaks to someone or touches their heart may not make the same impact on another person.  But sometimes you read a book that you just want to share regardless if the individuals on the other end are even interested.  

The book Give Them Truth by Starr Meade was one of those books for me.  As a family we have pretty much read every book written by this author and have come to love the truths that they contain whether they are teaching catechism or sharing truths from stories in the Bible.  Our all time favorite is still Grandpa's Box.  

This book, however, is not for kids but for parents and teachers who instruct and train children.   The book is set up to explain why teaching our children the truths of God and his Word are important, what truths our children need to know, and then how to help our children know these truths.   Even though I appreciated all aspects of this book, the parts that have stayed with me are the two chapters on  God and His attributes and the practical illustrations and activities used throughout the book to explain to children "difficult" doctrinal truths.  


Here are a few favorite quotes:

"Christianity based on experience or emotion or good behavior will crumble in the face of life's trials."

"Learning theology is like studying for exams--when we're tested we want to be ready"

"Suffering is often the path (God) chooses for his children, wanting their holiness more than their happiness"

"The 'downside' to the sovereignty of God, from the perspective of sinful human beings, is that if God rules, we don't."

"(People of our day) want to imagine something a little more powerful than they are, as eager to serve them as they are to serve themselves, and call that God"

Starr Meade has provided us with many resources to instruct our children.  I already mentioned Grandpa's Box, but she has also written Mighty Acts of God and Wondrous Works of God which are Bible story books.  Training Hearts, Teaching Minds and Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds are devotionals to help instruct children in the truths contained in the catechisms.  She has also written smaller devotionals entitled God's Mighty Acts in Creation and God's Mighty Acts in Salvation.  

I can also recommend two other resources we have recently enjoyed or are enjoying.  We are currently reading The Ology at our evening family worship time.  I like the book because you can expand the teaching by reading all the Bible passages or keep it shorter by just reading the key verses depending on how much time you have.




Since Russ is preaching a sermon series on the book of Mark, we bought a case of Mark's Marvellous Book to give to the families in our church that have children eight and under.  Prior to a short retelling of a Bible story from the Gospel the author has a quirky short story that explains the main key word in the Bible story such as "pleased," "amazing," or "growing."  We don't have anyone under eight, but we all still enjoyed the book!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Dordt Indoor Track

Caleb is running indoor track for Dordt, usually the 600m or 800m and often as one of legs on one of the 4x400 teams.   His faithful fans sent me a few pictures to post.   We really wish we could watch him run.  We love the boy and we love track meets!





Post-race analysis with Uncle Marlon and cousins Rachel and Andrew.