Friday, October 29, 2010

The Last Dandelion?

Seth picked this dandelion for me on Wednesday--the day it was warm and sunny.  I am sure it will be the last dandelion for the season.  But I started to think, how many more times will someone come in the house with their chubby fingers around a bunch of the yellow flowers saying, "Mommy, I picked some pretty flowers for you!"  My baby is growing up and I know I will miss the innocence of the child who thinks dandelions are pretty flowers.  I like having a little one that still counts to eleventeen.  I love having a little one who brings me play food to eat.  Who has an imaginary friend, Sally, and who thinks I am the "absolutely best mommy ever."  (After our day yesterday I know that is not true, but it is still nice to hear!)  So, I am resolved to be okay with crayons, markers, rescue heroes, cars, playmobil, legos, dress-up, Barbies, polly pockets, books etc. scattered over the floor.  I am okay with hand prints, spilled milk, tracked in dirt and sand.  Because all too soon I know they will all be grown up... 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Caleb Finally Gets His Fireplace

I remember when Caleb was Seth's age and he so badly wanted a fireplace in our house like Grandpa and Grandma B.'s   Well, Caleb, not sure it is still that important to you, but you finally have a home with a fireplace.   Unfortunately, we had to move to a different house in a different town to give you this! A fireplace is not much fun, however, without any wood to burn, so yesterday Russ bought a cord of wood.  The boys went with him to pick it up and we all helped at home to unload and stack it by the shed.   Other than being a little windy, the weather was great--sunny and warm.  (Quite different from today--cold and wet.  Perfect fireplace weather, though!)  The kids were all so eager to help haul and stack that it really was fun.  Lydia only lasted until she saw her first spider on a log, but we take what we can get.  After working most of the afternoon on this project we treated the kids to a trip to the Hudsonville Pizza Ranch.  I know that probably sounds pathetic, but we haven't had Pizza Ranch pizza since we moved, and it tasted wonderful! 

All stacked up and ready to use

Not sure if this is truck belongs to the seminary or the Free Reformed Church, but students are able to borrow this truck for hauling things. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Blanford Nature Center

We have been studying countries in North America and are currently doing a unit on Canada.   We have been reading the book Owls in Family since it takes place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  The book is about a boy and his friend who have two great-horned owl pets named Wol and Weeps.   We were told by the Kleyns on Sunday that the Blanford Nature Center had owls, so thought we could go check it out this week as part of our study of owls/food chains etc. 

The nature center reminded us a little of Oak Grove, only without the river flowing through it.  The kids were quick to inform me that the trails were a lot easier here as they are pretty flat (nothing wrong with that!)  What a beautiful place to walk this time of year!  They have a visitor center with various kid friendly animal information centers, a book nook, and several stuffed animals.  Outside, besides the trails, historic buildings (kind of like Heritage Village in Sioux Center), and ponds, they have several large cages for live birds.  I think they had turkey vultures, a red-tailed hawk, other kinds of hawks, and a cage with two great-horned owls.  The kids thought it was great and named them Weeps and Wol.   Actually, one cage did not have a bird, but a bobcat.  Seth thought Smokey should visit the bobcat.  We did not have time to explore all the trails and are anxious to go back with dad to do the rest!

Sleeping bobcat

Kids called the one on the left Wol and the right Weeps

Wol, keeping an eye on us

Out on the trails

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blessings in Grand Rapids

1.  All the space in this house as compared to our house in OC.

2.  All the outdoor activities we can do without having to drive very far.   Fishing is only 20 minutes away.  The Blanford Nature Center is only 15 minutes away, Lake Michigan is 45 minutes away, Meijer Gardens about 10 minutes away. 

3.  All the cultural activities right in Grand Rapids such as Art Prize and the symphony orchestras.  Nice to be in a college town again as the colleges have many things to offer as well.

4.  All the eateries (I think we've only been to Apple Bees for mom's birthday and Chinese, but is nice to see how close they are when we pass by!), and shopping within 10-15 minutes. 

5.  Neighbors across the street who were willing to watch our pets when we went to Grandma Herman's funeral for the weekend.

6.  Seminary friends, like Juliet, who put a pot of soup on our stove to simmer the Sunday we returned home from Grandma's funeral.

7.  Being able spend all day every day with my kids.  (Honestly, this is a blessing!)  I love teaching them and shepherding their hearts with devotions, read aloud books, and school work.

8.  Food pantry at the seminary where we are able to pick up at least half of our grocery needs for the week/month.

9.  All the new people we are able to meet, share meals, and interact with.  The various cultures and backgrounds are especially enriching.

10.  Free Reformed church with the warm members, welcoming home school group, solid Christian education program,  and wonderful biblical preaching.

11.  All the opportunities for spiritual growth.  This weekend a Reformed Church in Byron Center hosted a conference Fri night and Sat morning with speakers such as Kevin DeYoung and Dr. David Murray.  The boys and I (Laura) were able to go Sat morning and were blessed.

12.  The Home school building with all its resources, specifially the home school orchestra.

13.  Taking the four oldest to BSF with me on Monday nights and studying Isaiah together.  An added bonus is that it is only a block away so we can walk.  (Hey--we can walk to a destination!)

14.  Other seminary wives that I have the opportunity to meet with at least once a month, and hopefully twice.  Another meeting to scrapbook, learn another craft, bake, etc is being considered.

15.  Living closer to Russ' siblings Renee and Philip

16.  Being able to connect with past friends like Dave and Karen Sterk and Kevin and Trisha DeYoung.  Dave and Karen were at their son Randy's cross-country meet here in Grand Rapids this morning.  They stopped by just to say hi.  We'll keep in touch and make plans to travel up to McBain to see them sometime.  We also saw Kevin at the conference this weekend, and just responded to an email from Trisha to join them for a meal in Lansing next week Friday. 

17.  The Bleeker family cousins that live in the Grand Rapids area.  They have been so helpful with the household plumbing issues, getting rid of brush in the yard, and just as another resource to find things in GR.

18.  Watching God work in our lives in a way we probably would not have seen if we had stayed in Orange City has been the biggest blessing of all.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Movie Night

Seth woke up the other morning and came to me, eyes still little, holding his blankie, "I had a really good dream, mommy."  He told me he dreamed about our house in OC.  "I went up to the door, and kissed the door, and then I knocked on the door.  Grandma and Auntie Becca opened the door.  It was such a good dream!"   I looked over at Caleb on the couch and saw that he was fighting tears.  The kids are doing great here at GR, but I know their hearts are still in OC.  Because of that I am trying to do and make up several fun family activities so they will have good memories here, too. 

Last night was "Family Movie Night".  The kids made up a concession stand for candy, popcorn, and drinks.  The boys came up with the prices, trying to make it a little more challenging for the girls to practice using/counting out change.  (They are starting to get into this home school thing!)  I thought we have these movie nights routinely and work our way through some family classics.  Tonight we started with....Over the Hedge.  Oh well, I guess we can work our way up and refine our tastes.  I don't know, maybe there is something theological in the movie because when Seth went to bed last night he asked me if God remote controls us.  That gave us a good discussion on man's free-will, God's sovereignty, foreknowledge and foreordaining.   Actually, I think I just told him no, God is in control of all things, but he does not remote control us.  We'll save the deep stuff for when he is five.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What We Miss...

1.  The relative quiet of Orange City.  We hear sirens every day, often several times a day.  The novelty has long since worn off.  We no longer hear the rooster in the neighborhood--not sure what happened to him.  (The chicken soup was good!  Just kidding.)

2.  Familiar faces at Fareway, the library, and basically any store downtown.  I think the librarians of the Yankee Clipper branch of GRPL are beginning to recognize us, though.

3.  OCCS.  This would have been our 9th year of having children at OCCS and we miss the teachers and staff and most of all our friends.

4.  Our neighbors, the Walters, especially Sarah.  Sure, we have neighbor kids over here all the time, but nothing can take the place of that bond of friendship that was formed before Sarah and Caleb were even in preschool.

5.  Watching the fields being harvested on our trips to and from Sioux Center.

6.  Being able to go to the grocery store or library or park without having to go through 17 stoplights (or at least it seems that way)

7.  Stopping at my mom's for a cup of coffee after a Walmart run.

8.  Trading babysitting with Cora and seeing the cousins enjoy playing with each other.  Or just stopping in for a coffee drink and a crumpet.

9.  Watching baby Nora grow up.

10.  Our play area at our Orange City house.  The kids go in our backyard here in Michigan and are at a  loss.  I did not realize how much of their playtime outside centered around that play area.  Okay, maybe I did, but just suppressed it.   This may be one of Russ' first projects come spring.

11.  Sunday dinners with Grandpa and Grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins. 

12.  Pumpkinland

13.  Being able to walk to a destination.  We can go for walks, but never to a specific place.  If we want to go to the post office, park, library, grocery store, they are either too far away, or you have to cross an extremely busy road.

14.  Dawn Steggerda and Gary Vander Hart, our piano and string teachers.  We miss their personalities and style of teaching.  We also miss Dixie and the OCCS orchestras.

15.  Digging potatoes, harvesting apples, and making apple cider at Grandpa and Grandma's house this time of year. 

16.  Driving to BSF with cousin Caden on Monday nights

17.  My book group.  It was more than just an "accountability to read" group.  I appreciated the discussions on church, parenting, mission work, schools, etc.

18.  OC hospital and clinic.  Finding a doctor here is a little daunting as there are a kazillion clinics and you just don't know what doctors are taking new patients.  Thankfully, Spectrum Health has a 1-800 number you can call for assistance in finding a doctor.   Oh, I guess we need a dentist and eye doctor, too...

19.  He doesn't talk about it too much and it helps that he is really busy, but I know Russ misses his coworkers and student interaction at MOC-FV.

20.  Did I mention Sunday dinners with Grandpa, Grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins?
Yes, we are a little homesick.  We try not to dwell on the things that we miss because they make us sad, and instead try to focus on the blessings we have in Grand Rapids.  We will list those on another post.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Extracurriculars

We do pretty good with reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Not always so good with the other stuff like art, music, PE etc.

PE is actually not that hard right now--go to the park and play soccer or tag, go for a run while the kids ride bikes, go for a walk, play sand volleyball, etc.  The only problem is that the weather will not always be conducive to outside activities.  So, we are considering membership to the YMCA.  This is a little spendy, though so haven't made a decision.  I know several people who really enjoy cross-country skiing as there are several trails throughout the area.   Once you invest in equipment it would be an inexpensive activity.

Music is iffy... the older three have piano and/or string and orchestra which helps.  Probably should incorporate more singing in our day, so am thinking about how to do that...

We try to have art every week or every other week.  My Father's World recommends Drawing with Children for Lydia's age, but all the kids have enjoyed it.  The older kids lesson plans also incorporate an art activity based on the country we are studying.  I have to admit I haven't been great about getting art supplies to follow through with some of that.  I am so concerned with the other subjects I kind of forget to look ahead at art and then, of course, we don't have the appropriate supplies on hand and it just gets forgotten.

Last week in Drawing with Children we all drew birds working with the five basic elements of shape.  I thought all the birds looked great so took pictures.  The only rule with drawing these pictures was that they could not use pencil--they had to use a fine tipped pen/marker so they couldn't erase!

Caleb's bird colored with Seth's help

Nicolas' bird

Lydia's bird

Anna's cardinal

Not as clear, but this is an eagle Nicolas drew later because he loves to draw birds in action. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What does Seth Do?

Many people have asked me, "What does Seth do while you homeschool the other kids?"  Well, allow me to show you in pictures what Seth does in the mornings.  You will notice on several pictures he is still in jammies.   Sometimes they don't come off until noon!
He worked on this quite a while one morning.  I think we may be able to skip the math unit on patterns someday!?!

We found this Rescue Hero command center at the Goodwill for $5.00.   Made one boy very happy.

Rescue Heroes were one of those toys that almost didn't make the move. Deciding what toys should go and which we could get rid of in the move was really hard (watching ToyStory 3 this summer did not help).  Nicolas loved to play with them when he was younger, and I have fond memories of playing with him, making up rescue scenarios. Prior to the move, however, Seth really hadn't played with them much.   This has been one of his favorites the last few weeks.

So good to see Billy Blazes and Jake Justice back in action.

Sorting cars is always a favorite.  Once again, we have a boy who enjoys patterns.

He likes trying to learn his number names.  

Sometimes he dresses up just to amuse the class.

Webkinz is always a favorite.  Good to teach him computer skills, right?

Occasionally, more academic pursuits take place such as practicing writing letters.

Art class in the form of playdough.

I'm sure all the great painters started like this...

Thursday, October 14, 2010


From Nicolas' language lessons book, a poem to memorize:

A haze on the far horizon,
The infinite, tender sky,
The rich, ripe tint of the cornfields,
And the wild geese sailing high--
And all over the upland and lowland
The charm of the goldenrod--
Some of us call it autumn,
And others call it God
--William Herbert Carruth

Monday, October 11, 2010


We enjoyed our weekend with Russ' sister Renee and her family.  Andy helped fix a few electrical issues in the upstairs for which we are most appreciative (the closet pull chain light in Nicolas and Seth's room was somehow attached to the hallway light switch).   We made cupcakes this morning to celebrate Kristina turning 13 today.  Renee wanted some good Michigan apples so Russ took her to the orchard this morning.

But about the rabbit...Sunday, after church, Renee and I started to take a walk after morning church to the 7/11 to pick up a paper.  We got as far as the neighbor's driveway when Jasmine (Renee's dog) alerted us to a rabbit on the pavement.  I could tell by the way it was lying that is was injured.  As I moved closer it tried to hop away, but could only drag its back end.  The neighbor's driveway/garage is under the house so there is a pretty big drop off from the lawn on the side of the house to the driveway in front.  So we are not sure if the rabbit injured itself by falling off the drop-off onto the cement, or if it was actually hit by a car.  At any rate, we didn't feel like we could leave it on the driveway for Jasmine to attack or for a car to run over so we scooped it up into a box.  Then we were what?    Of course, the kids fed it carrots and lettuce and gave it a bowl of water (which it ate and drank and made a big mess in the box).    We figured we would just take care of it on Monday.

So, Monday morning I get on the phone and call the humane society.  I knew they wouldn't want the rabbit, but thought they could direct me to someone who might.  They gave me the number for the DNR who gave me the number to four wildlife rehab centers.  One was a vet who was no longer licensed for wildlife, one only took reptiles and birds, and two I left messages with.  Since I really wanted to take care of this I went online to find rehab centers in Kent County and found the name of another vet.  That clinic directed me to another one and that one was reluctant to do anything because, frankly, I think they thought it was silly.  Therefore, I was feeling a little stupid as well.  But then I would see its alert little eyes and pointy ears and I couldn't just get rid of it by the side of the road either.  Finally, I made contact with one I had called previously and she asked me to drop it off.  I packed the box and rabbit in the van and took off for the Lowell Wildlife Center about 25 minutes away.  The windows stayed open the entire way because box and rabbit were not smelling so good right now.   I never met the lady who actually runs the place, but a 67 year old gentleman volunteer helped me.  He looked at the rabbit and thought she would probably euthanize it.  I needed to fill out an intake form, but the office was locked.  While waiting for him to get the keys this huge white duck came over and started pecking, nipping my toes (I had flip-flops on).  I was trying to avoid the duck without hurting it because I didn't think that would look good at a wildlife rehab center.  While I'm trying not to kick the duck he returns.  "Oh, that's just Aflac.  He's always nipping at something."  Nice.  Up to this point, the gentleman has been reassuring me that I did the right thing, not to feel bad, and this is the best place for the rabbit.   I am feeling a little less silly about driving 25 minutes to get rid of a paralyzed wild rabbit.  But I felt a lot better when I looked at the in-take sheet right before mine--a field mouse.  Seriously?  An injured field mouse?   Hey, I have two of those you can have (see previous posts).  I would like to bring those and see how good these guys really are; I'm not sure they can rehab them at this point, though.

Anyway, I donated my $5 to the cause and had a nice visit with this gentleman.  "Are you interested in volunteering at the rehab center?  We need volunteers and all we require is a rabies shot."  "We've had 20-some fawns this year, 20-some rabbits, 30-some squirrels, and I don't remember how many raccoons that we've rehabbed."  "We need money and are going after grants.  You don't happen to know how to write a grant, do you?"  Nope.  "Do you have boys?  I teach woodcarving and love to teach boys as young as eight how to carve wood."  He gave me his card and told me just to give him a call and he would get us all set up to volunteer.   When I told the kids about it later, Nicolas thought is sounded like a dream job.

That is the rabbit story.  Not sure on the moral of the story.  Maybe you can just make your own...

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Thought the date was kind of neat today, so had to use it as my post title.   We are so enjoying the beautiful, beautiful autumn in Michigan.   The trees have so many different colors of red, orange, and gold--and there are so many trees!  I do miss seeing the fields of corn/beans ready for harvest, though.  We can see that if we travel out of town, but we do not do that very often.  Not as often as we used to anyway, making that trip from Orange City to Sioux Center!

Lake Wabasis where we spent Sat night with Renee and Andy

We also enjoyed the gift/beauty of art today by visiting ArtPrize in downtown Grand Rapids.  This is put on by the DeVos family.  Artists from all over the world submit their art to be put on display at various venues downtown.   People from all over the area then come and view the art and vote for their favorite.  Ultimately, one piece is chosen for the grand prize ($250,000) with the top ten all receiving some lesser monetary prize.  Today was the last day for the display and the prize winners were announced just this last Thursday. 

Skyline of Grand Rapids made with long tubes filled with colored balls

3-D penny made from 84,000 pennies

Grand prize pencil drawing--look how big this drawing is!

Just some closer shots to give an idea of the amount of detail on this drawing.  Did I mention we waited in line for 2 hours to see this drawing?  Obviously we didn't know how long the wait would be and by the time we realized this we felt we had put in enough time to stick it out.  We were able to see other art as we waited in line and seeing the winner was worth it!

Interestingly enough, Dr. Murray in his sermon today at the Free Reformed church made reference to both the beauty we are seeing in creation this time of year and ArtPrize.  His sermon was entitled "What the Atheist Knows" from Romans 1.    This was an excellent sermon and I could go on and on, but one part of the sermon really stood out.    He stated that if you walk around looking at the art at ArtPrize you can often tell something about the artist by the art they have created.  Often that is the goal of the artist--to be able to express something about themselves in a visible way.  Graciously, God has also done this through his creation.  He went to ask what would happen if you were to destroy/deface one of the ArtPrize works.  He affirmed that people would be angry; you would be run out of town.  Yet, isn't that what we do to God when we do not affirm/acknowledge and ignore what He is clearly showing us in creation.  But in His mercy he continues to set before us in nature His existence--and even more than that, his power and Godhead.  As verse 20 reads, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"

The crew downtown on the bridge over the Grand River

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The week in review

This was such a beautiful week in Grand Rapids.  The mornings started pretty cool, but the days were in the 70s and sunny.  The trees are beautiful and we are enjoying walking around the neighborhood to see all of them.  Lydia and the other kids all had a unit on trees so we spent time making bark tracings, collecting leaves, picking up seeds from trees, and trying to identify the names of trees.  We also made pressed flower bookmarks.  I'm not sure contact paper is my favorite thing to work with, though!

We started this week a little behind in homeschooling as we were travelling last week Friday.   Most of our mornings were spent catching up on school.  We did not have piano or violin lessons on Monday, as we had cancelled those when as we were unsure of our weekend travel plans so that gave us a little more free time on Monday.   Nicolas helped me bake poppy seed cake for Russ to take to the seminary and we also made "Chipper Bars" to take to the neighbors to thank them for taking care of our pets while we were gone.

Tuesday is our food pantry day, then rush home to put it all away, grab a quick lunch and then take Nicolas to his cello lesson.  After that the kids and I went to a park.  We tossed the volleyball around on the sand volleyball court, I pitched balls to the boys on the baseball diamond, and we just explored the playground equipment.  After we got home Caleb said he just didn't feel well.  He looked terrible and just laid on the floor.  He was nauseated, had a headache, and every time he got up he felt dizzy.  About an hour later he threw up and felt much better.  He was completely fine by the time he went to bed that night. 

I had my first meeting Tuesday night with Mary Beeke and the seminary wives.  This includes the wives of the seminary professors.   We will be going through the book One With a Shepherd by Mary Somerville.  The group started the book last year so us "newbies" will be joining in the middle.  We start with devotions and end with food (of course).  The best part is meeting and getting to know everyone, especially those from other countries and cultures.  I spent quite a bit of time visiting with the two ladies from Malawi.   They are so quiet, unassuming and humble, yet spiritual giants.  The time they spend in the U.S. while their husbands study at PRTS is also a time of study for them.   They have immersed themselves in Bible studies to learn all they can to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ back home.  Mary Beeke said this is significant because in Malawi the pastors wives are basically in charge of the spiritual issues of all women and children.

Wednesday morning we had home school orchestra.  While the boys rehearsed we went to Target and then just did some schoolwork at the home school library with the girls.   I needed to sign up for 14+ hours of volunteer work so signed up to work the fundraiser table during the time the boys rehearse.  The table is large and they invited the girls and Seth to bring work/books along and sit by me.  We'll see how that goes...
Wednesday night Dave Bleeker helped Russ put a new floor in the bathroom upstairs.   They prepped it for the linoleum which they did on Thursday night along with putting in a new toilet.  Now the floor is no longer "gushy" by the toilet--we actually have a solid floor!  Wednesday night I ran over to Michelle Bilkes' (Dr. Bilkes is a professor at the seminary and Russ' advisor) home to pick up some girl clothes.  She mentioned Tuesday night that she was having a garage sale this weekend and wanted me to pick through the clothes for my girls first.  Her oldest, Lauren, is 10, then she has two boys and the youngest is Audrey who is 4.  They are expecting number five sometime soon.   Anna needed some new clothes so this was a huge blessing. 

Friday I woke up with the same thing Caleb had on Tuesday.  I ached all over and my stomach hurt so bad.  After the initial nausea passed, I was actually hungry.  Every time I ate, however, my stomach would cramp and hurt so bad!  iAnna hurt her eye outside on Wednesday and by today it was all red, goopy and swollen.   So right after lunch I took her to urgent care where we received some antibiotic eye salve.  I think it looks a little better today.  She says it feels much better so I think it must have hurt her quite a bit.   After that the kids and I picked Russ up from the seminary and went to Bloks orchard to get some apples.  We picked up a bushel of Mutsu for making applesauce and then asked for just a few Honeycrisp to eat fresh.  The gal who was working pulled me aside and said she had some "seconds" of Honeycrisp that she needed to get rid of and would I like those.  So she sold me 2 pecks of still very nice Honeycrisp apples for $10.00 (normally $12 a peck!)   On the way home we stopped at the Robinette Haus which is also an orchard, but much more commercialized with gift shops, bakery, winery, corn maze, hay rides, etc.  We bought some treats for the kids to eat and then just explored.   The kids mentioned that they sure did miss Pumpkinland!

This morning I made a bunch of applesauce and Russ is mowing the lawn and doing some more plumbing projects (leaky faucets).  We are all preparing for Russ' sister's famliy to arrive later today to spend some time with us this weekend.

Mouse count: 2 (shudder)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Random Thoughts from the Weekend

Random thoughts about our trip to Rochester, MN for Grandma Herman's funeral.
1.  This was a good weekend to be away since we needed several days for our upstairs bathroom to dry out following a large toilet leak and a broken water pipe.  Russ is considering plumbing as a third career change.
2.  I think we should look into having our own ferry across Lake Michigan.  No matter how you break up the trip, the loop around the Lake and through Chicago is tiresome.
3.  If you own a Pontiac Montana between the years 1998-2002, you need to put your I-pass on the right corner of your windshield instead of by the rear view mirror otherwise you will have to stop at every toll and repeat your I-pass number in order to get through the gate.
4.  We do not recommend purchasing the Swiss Cargo car top carrier.  About 30 minutes outside of Rochester the lock mechanism on our brand new carrier broke causing us to stop on the interstate and figure out how in the world we were going to tie down the top of the carrier.  Thankfully, Caleb carries a little of everything in his backpack including a "cat's cradle" string that worked until we were able to bungee the top down.
5.  We were glad to have made the trip as almost all of the extended Herman's were there.  So good to see family and catch up on life.
6.  Losing a mother is difficult no matter what age you are.  Even though Grandma H. was 99 years old,  the committal service was obviously difficult for her five children.
7.  Russ' mother is also buried at the Hilltop church cemetery.   This is a difficult place for her five children as they still mourn the mother they lost too soon 28 years ago.
8.  Funerals should be a good time to mend broken family relationships.  Such a family rift exists in Russ' extended family.  We pray they will be convicted of the brevity of life and the importance of family.
9.  We are grateful for family that live in between NW Iowa home and Grand Rapids home.  Thank-you Jim and Carla for opening your home to us!
10.  The weekend confirmed that we do indeed have mice in our kitchen.  They chewed through a bag of bread and nibbled a nice gouge in the bread.  Glad they ate well while we were gone.