Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Week Update

The weather today was quite a change from the last two days here in Michigan.  Sunday and Monday the temps were in the 50s and 60s, and today in the 30s and quite windy.  Yesterday just seemed strange--60 degrees, rainy with thunderstorms...in Nov?  Well, today felt a little more "normal" for this time of year.

Russ is looking forward to a Thanksgiving break.  I am afraid he will be up most of the night finishing a 15-20 page paper that is due tomorrow.  He spent the last two Saturdays at the Calvin library, so we are looking forward to spending time with him!  He has a week of regular class the week after Thanksgiving and then a week of finals.  (I think I have that right.)  I think I will be doing a fair amount of driving on this trip so Russ can study and catch up on sleep!

We continue to plug away in homeschooling, now starting our unit on Europe.  Lydia is not technically on the same unit curriculum as the older three, although we all enjoy the read-alouds and activities of each other's units.  Lydia's curriculum spends quite a bit of time exploring the Jewish culture--looking at their calendar, religious holidays, customs, foods, etc.  On Saturday night we had our own Jewish "Sabbath" at supper time.  We decided to have it on Saturday night instead of Friday night so we could use it to prepare for our Lord's Day.  I think it is fascinating that everything that is said and done has special meaning:  why two candles are lit, why the woman lights the candles, why there are two loaves of  challah, and why the goblet of wine (or grape juice) is overflowing or filled to the brim just to name a few.  Of course, the blessings also have significant meaning.   We had trouble finding challah, so we just had small french bread loaves.  Today at the food pantry they had boxes and boxes of bread from a fairly expensive bakery and wouldn't you know they had a loaf of challah.   Nicolas grabbed it because he just had to show the other kids that they really do make this bread!   Anyway, the activities can be quite a bit of work, but so much fun and so worth the extra time when you know they have learned something because you hear them talking about it later.

Tonight we had an "extra" seminary wives meeting at the HNRC church.  Mrs. Vander Zwaag  showed us how to make 5 minute artisan bread in the church kitchen, and then we were able to ask the pastor's wives questions regarding hospitality.  I found it to be extremely informative, practical and helpful--I even took notes!   Sometimes I think I have so much to learn about being a pastor's wife and I know the Lord is giving these women and these four years to me as part of my "training" as well. 

Tomorrow we take off for Thanksgiving, going as far as Dekalb, IL to Renee and Andy's.  Then we head to Dayton, IA until Sat AM.  After that we will be in Sioux Center until Monday AM when we will head back to Grand Rapids.  Please pray for safe travel and good traveling weather.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our South America/Brazil Unit

The last three weeks we have been studying South America with an emphasis on Brazil.   Along with that we have been studying the rain forest for science.  The kids secretly put together a large rain forest mural, labeling the layers of the forest (emergent, canopy, understory, floor) and gave a presentation to Russ when he got home from school today.  They also graphed the difference in monthly rainfall in Michigan and the rain forest in the Amazon area in Brazil.  The best part of the project was listening to them work on the project from the other room.  It was so cute to hear the excitement in their voices as they planned what they would draw, how they would color it, and all their other ideas.  This, truly, is when homeschooling is fun.  Then I can forget that I had a 7 foot mural on the floor of my dining room all week (put away discreetly when dad came home at night) with rain forest books, colored pencils, and crayons all over the place.   I can shut my eyes to the other "clutter" caused by homeschooling:  the pumpkin seeds growing on the kitchen window sill, the world map hanging on the living room wall, geography game pieces strewn over the family room floor, and math flash cards scattered in various places throughout the house.

Just to show the size of their mural.  Caleb, Nicolas, and Anna each took a 1/3.
Caleb's third

Anna's third

Nicolas' third
Kids insisted I post some closeups of their favorite animals.  This is one of Nicolas'.

Nicolas' gorilla family.  All animals drawn are rain forest animals, not necessarily Amazon rain forest animals (or so I was told!)
Anna's sloth

Anna's gorilla
Caleb's tapir, capybara, backside of an okapi.  Note Seth's peacock in the bottom corner and his tiger near the okapi's backside.

Caleb's spider monkey tree

A better shot of Caleb's tapirs, capybara and ibis in the water hole
We always try to end a unit making and eating a recipe from the country we have studied.  Tonight we had Abacate Batido or Whipped Avocado Dessert.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Caleb's violin studio

The weekend I was back in Iowa, Caleb had a "studio" on Saturday with Betsy Van Zytfeld's string students.  This is basically a recital, but just for students--no parents allowed!  He enjoyed the Saturday and meeting her other students.  Thought I would just share a picture of that afternoon.

This is a picture of a picture, so it is not real clear, but you can still find Caleb in the back.  Betsy's son is the cello player in the back.  His name is Calvin and he and Caleb seemed to connect pretty well.  Betsy said Calvin told her he wished they lived closer to each other. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Week in review

I know it has been awhile since I have posted anything.  This week has been a "recovery" week for me.  For those reading that are not family members, I should explain that I flew home last weekend to say good-bye to my sister and family who left for Haiti on Tuesday.  Cory and Lynn, Kester, Elizabeth and Alexandra will be working with Mission Haiti with a focus on improving existing ministries and working towards offering higher education, especially in the area of Bible and ministry training.  They will plan to take their first furlough this summer.  This will be quite an adjustment for them and my family would appreciate prayers on their behalf.  I am sure they would love it if you would follow their adventures on their blog:

Although it was wonderful to be back in Iowa (all my siblings were home!) it was hard to leave Russ and the kids behind.   When Russ picked me up from the airport, he got out of the van to put my luggage in the back.  We were both at the back of the van and all of a sudden we see this little boy scrambling to get out of his car seat to open the door.  He couldn't move fast enough to get to the sidewalk.  He just ran to me, jumped in my arms, and gave me a hug that only Sethie can give.  It is good to be missed!

Due to flight issues on the way out, I ended up getting into Sioux Falls quite late on Friday night, and I needed to get up quite early Monday morning to make my 6:40AM flight.   That combined with several late night chatting sessions wiped me out.   I played catch up most of the week, both with sleep and homeschooling!  I felt like a zombie on Monday night at BSF and was quite disoriented at the seminary wives meeting on Tuesday night.  I think I finally felt like myself on Thursday.  Thankfully, the weather was beautiful this week--in the 60s every day.  We spent quite a bit of time outside--at the park or the Nature Center.  Today was cooler, however, and rained in the afternoon.

Russ is entering a busy time, so we don't expect to see him much the next several days.  He is working pretty hard to stay on top of Hebrew, so when a paper is due it is really tough to fit it all in.  He seems to enjoy where he is at and what he is studying (he had better!) so that helps. 

We had our Honda in to be serviced by a fella that goes to the Free Reformed church.  He was recommended by several people as he is quite reasonable/fair in his pricing and does good work.  He told Russ that the axles on the Honda were shot and that it appears to be "drinking" oil.  He recommended not taking the van out of town and keeping an eye out for another vehicle.  So, Russ and I are trying to decide whether now is a good time to just get a newer reliable vehicle to replace the Pontiac Montana (150,000 miles) and use the Montana as a second vehicle.  We have been looking but haven't found anything yet.

Today we just received confirmation that we are able to qualify for a heavily discounted membership at the YMCA.  That is an answer to prayer as this will give the kids and I an "out" this winter.   The city provides so many opportunities for fun things, but unfortunately we are finding that they may not fit into our budget.  So we will try to choose our activities wisely and take advantage of discounts when available.

So that is the news of the week.  We continue to "settle in" here in Michigan.  Sethie said this week that he has two houses.  "This house is Sethie's house and there is a Sethie house in Orange City.  But I still like the Sethie house in Orange City better."   I think this is the sentiment for all the kids, but we continue to adjust.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Full Weekend

We had a great weekend here in Grand Rapids.  Lots to keep us busy so we did not get too homesick (weekends are the hardest!).  Friday night we made the hour trip to Lansing to share a meal and fellowship with Kevin and Trisha DeYoung and family.  So fun to see how their family has grown as they just had Ian when they left OC.  We did recommit on the arranged marriage between Lydia and Ian.  Lydia did ask the other night what would happen if she married someone she thought was a Christian and he turned out not to be and was unkind.   Sometimes arranged marriages don't seem all that bad...

Saturday we worked hard in the morning to get some things done around the house and catch up on our instrument practicing.  Then we were invited by Dr. VanDoodewaard and his wife Rebecca to their place for soup and sandwiches before heading to the John Ball zoo.  They have two sweet kids, Anna who just turned 5 and Matthew who was just 2.  We had wonderful fellowship and lots of fun at the zoo.  It definitely wasn't the Henry Doorly Zoo, but I think it satisfied the annual fall zoo trip tradition.

Rebecca taught the kids how to blow into acorn caps to make a whistle

Caleb working on his whistle

Lydia makes a new friend

Taking a picture with John Ball.  Lydia kind of blends in but she's there!

The pelicans were harassing the ducks which was amusing to watch.

Aren't wood ducks beautiful?  My picture does not do this one justice.

Komodo dragon.  Take a look at that tongue!

Lydia's checking out a bear skin--head and claws.  What a brave Brie-Brie!

Bored grizzly bear.