Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Blessings

Seth's nativity scene.  May I draw your attention to the three kings
on the right, a five-legged donkey, the angel in the sky, and Mary,
Joseph & Jesus in the stable.  He was very proud of this drawing
although he was a little concerned Jesus' head looked like an acorn.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


On Tuesday we were at the Meekhof's to sled; the only problem was there wasn't really any snow.  The ground was quite hard and frozen, however, and the hill fairly steep so some of the sleds actually worked.  The downside--the children's coats, snowpants and mittens looked as if they were worn sledding on frozen earth as opposed to snow.  The kids also had fun with the Wii, Nintendo, Legos, nerf guns and all sorts of things that boys (and girls) like to play with.

Even without snow for sledding, we enjoyed our afternoon at their home.  They have a beautiful older home in Lamont, MI.  Connie has her own little salon area in her home and cut the girls' hair which was a huge blessing!   While she cut hair we were able to exchange homeschool notes, stories of how we met our husbands, and just generally got to know each others families better.

We returned home and ate a quick supper and then I had to leave for the seminary wives  Bible study and cookie exchange.  The kids were so tired from the night before that Russ said all were in bed by 8:00 (including the two older boys!)   In the wives meeting we discussed the area of money and finances.  One of the wives began with a devotional on God's name, Jehovah Jirah--God will Provide.  She brought out that just as God provided a ram to take the place of Isaac, he has also provided a Lamb for our salvation.  And if we trust in a God who is willing to provide His own Son as the Lamb, shouldn't we also trust him to provide in the other areas of life? One of the discussion questions was to share a time when God had provided for you or your family.  I had so many examples I didn't know which one to share.  I decided to share God's most recent provision from last week when I had my mammogram.   Most insurances pay 100% of a screening mammogram, but a diagnostic mammogram goes toward your deductible.  We found this out last April when I had my first mammogram.   I had an area on the left that they wanted to keep an eye on so needed a 6 month repeat which is what I had last week.  I knew this one would also be diagnostic so we would again have to cover this larger expense.  We also knew I really needed to have it checked out and would worry about finances later.  Not only did the mammogram results come back normal, but I was told that a grant was in place for people like me who have high deductibles.  They informed me that they would bill my insurance and when it came back that it went to my deductible the grant would kick in and I wouldn't owe a dime.  Once again, God demonstrated that he loves to do "exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Homeschool Update

Tonight the boys participated in the orchestra part of the West Michigan Homeschool Fine Arts Christmas concert.  The group actually has four orchestra groups--beginner, intermediate, advanced, and then the symphony orchestra.  Both boys are in advanced.  This concert featured band and chorale also so it was quite long.  I forgot my camera so didn't get any pictures of the boys in their cute tux shirts, bow ties and cummerbunds.  Of course we were in a hurry before the concert and didn't get one then either.  It was well after 9:00 when the concert finished, but we decided to treat the kids anyway and stopped at AppleBees for their 1/2 price appetizers after 9:00.  I guess that is one nice thing about homeschooling--you can decide everyone can sleep in a little more in the morning and just start school later!

In school we are working our way through Europe concentrating on three countries:  Norway, France, and Germany.  We finished Norway last week and are starting France this week.  We are enjoying several read alouds and other books as we work through Europe.  I think most were posted on the "What We are Reading" sidebar.  We read Snow Treasure which takes place in Norway during WWII, Annika's Secret Wish which takes place in Sweden (we also made our own Swedish pudding with a almond hidden in it), and now we are reading Rainbow Garden which takes place in England.  The boys have additional reading assignments including God's Smuggler and Hans Brinker.  Anna also read A Gift for Mama which takes place in Poland.  The older three also enjoy playing the Geography game together especially now that they have countries in North America, South America and Europe to identify.  I think they enjoy the challenge.  All can identify countries faster than I can!  They continue to plug away in math, English, science, and spelling as well.  A couple things I would like to add next semester are keyboarding and a more consistent current events time on Friday.   Lydia also continues through her Bible reader, learning the Jewish traditions and the books of the Bible.  She just started a math unit on telling time and we are looking at snow and ice in science--how applicable!  I am looking forward to a few weeks break over Christmas.  I have so enjoyed this semester teaching my kids and am grateful for the grace God has given me to teach them.  But I still need a break...

Tomorrow we are meeting with another homeschool family that we met through BSF.  Connie has five active boys ages 11-2.  She invited us to sled on a hill right by their house.  I just hope it is a little warmer than it was today or it will be a short sledding excursion.  Connie insisted we come for lunch so we will get as much school work done as we can in the morning and finish later in the afternoon.  I also have a seminary wives book study tomorrow night with a cookie exchange.   We are kind of starting the week running, but after tomorrow it should be calm so we can pack for our trip back to Iowa for Christmas!

I'll try to remember my camera tomorrow and post some sledding pictures...

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Seth just says the cutest (and sometimes profound!) things.  I am probably the only one that thinks that he is a hoot, but humor me and take time to read this post. 

His prayers are my favorite.  I love to listen to him pray because I never know what he is going to say.  I am left wondering what is going on in that cute little head.  I only recently started writing some of these down because I didn't want to forget them.

"Thank you for being a truer God than us."

"Help us to hate sin and our enemies and love our Christ."  We've talked to him about Matthew 5:44-45 since that prayer and hopefully cleared up the 'hate our enemies' part.

"Keep our teeth healthy"  I never thought about praying for my kids' dental health--thanks, Seth.

"Love our neighbors and God the Jesus, and hate our enemies"  Okay, maybe we need a review.

"Help our neighbors to be nice to us; that they won't chase us"  They haven't chased us yet, so this prayer must be working.

"Thank you for taking care of Mr. Pete in heaven"

"Help us to love God most...and money."  Okay, another verse that we need to talk to him about.  Maybe if we make progress on Matthew 5:44,45 we can go further in the Sermon on the Mount and work on Matthew 6:24 as well.

"Keep us healthy so we don't die when we are kids"  Amen, Sethie, Amen.

Other sayings/conversations that have amused me:

It always makes me smile to hear him ask if he can "log-off" or if someone can help him "log-in" to webkinz.  I didn't even know what that meant when I was 24 let alone 4!

S:  "I can't get up, my tonsils won't let me because they are tired."
M: "Your tonsils?"
S:  "Uh-huh, my tonsils...  Mom what are tonsils?"

Seth stood up on his chair after supper Friday night with his arms stretched out "Hey, everybody!  Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?  MOVIE NIGHT!!

"Mom, you're a genius!"  (for buying Life cereal)

Laying in bed with Seth singing Silent Night at his request:
   M:  "Round yon virgin mother and child"
   S:  "No, you can't say rounyon.  That's not right."
   M:  "Well, what is it then?"
    S:  "I don't know, but try it again, mom"
It didn't go any better the 2nd or 3rd time and he got really frustrated with me (I even tried to sing Away in a Manger instead).  Then the next day we were listening to carols on the radio and Silent Night came on.  I didn't even realize that Seth was listening when he came up to me and said "They said 'rounyon' too mom, so I guess you can sing that."  Whew.  What does 'yon' mean anyway?

Laying in bed with Seth at night after watching Ramona and Beezus:
  S:   "I can't stop thinking about their cat died"
  M:  "I'm sorry sweetie, I know that was sad."
  S:   "No, not that.  I just want to know what they did with the cat food."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas at Meijer Garden

 Last night Meta Moerdyk invited us to Meijer Gardens for their well-known Christmas display.  Everything was so beautiful and well-done.   Throughout the buildings they have several Christmas trees decorated for different countries.  Since we have been learning about different countries this year, the kids enjoyed seeing trees decorated according to cultures and traditions we studied.  We also enjoyed learning new things about countries and their traditions.   Here were the favorites:   Anna--Ukraine (she liked the spider webby look), Seth--Ireland (he liked finding the 12 days of Christmas ornaments), Caleb and I liked them all, Nicolas--Germany (he liked looking for the hidden pickle ornament),   Lydia--not sure, Russ unfortunately stayed home and studied so he doesn't have a favorite.

Seth also loved the electric train and trolleys that ran throughout several displays of older Grand Rapids buildings made with all natural materials (leaves, barks, seeds, etc).

The favorite of all may have been the 24 foot bronze horse outside.  Evidently this is one of only two such horses in the world; the other is in Milan, Italy.  Apparently Leonardo de Vinci had sketches of several horses in his sketch book and actually sculpted a similar horse out of clay.  He intended to have it made out of bronze,  but a war happened and not only did it not get "bronzed" it was completely destroyed.  Several years ago an art lover who heard this story raised money to have a bronze "Leonardo" horse made in Italy. Fred Meijer heard about this and was able to use the same mold to make this horse that stands in Meijer Gardens.   This picture was taken in the daytime but we saw it at night with the lights shining on it which was also quite neat.  I need to get a picture with one of the kids standing by it so you can get an idea of how big this horse is!


The horses and carriages that were giving rides throughout the grounds also added to the ambiance of the night!

I would love to go back and take pictures of some of the more intricate and interesting ornaments on the trees.  Just showing a picture of the trees doesn't do the experience justice.  I think Russ may want to go next week since he is done with school...?!?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter is Here!

Wednesday we had our first real snowfall in Michigan.  Seth ran around the house early Wednesday morning waking everyone up, "It's Christmas!  Christmas is here!"   I think we ended up with 5-6 inches.  Much of it melted on the ground/driveway as the temps were fairly warm.  The kids did enjoy playing outside especially since it was not that cold.   The snow was beautiful coming down--big slow flakes.  Not so beautiful to drive in, however.  Thankfully, we had no problems getting to and from the homeschool building for orchestra.  The meteorologists in this area predict 80-90 inches of snow this winter, most falling in Jan-March.  Isn't that something to look forward to?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Let Thanksgiving Overflow...

We enjoyed our short trip home for Thanksgiving and spending time with both sides of the family.  We have many blessings to be thankful for, not the least of which is family. As we spent time catching up on each others lives and reminiscing on the past it was humbling to see how God has worked and is continuing to work in each of our families.  We missed Cory and Lynn and family but are thankful they are doing well in Haiti. 
We didn't start back to school until today which was a very good thing.  (I am learning to relax a little about the homeschooling...)  We used Tuesday as an unpacking, catch up on wash, Mookie haircut, library, food pantry, grocery shopping day.  Wednesday the boys (actually just Caleb as Nicolas was home with the stomach flu) had orchestra.  School on orchestra day is always a little tricky so we just decided to start today.  I was all gung-ho but the kids had a little trouble attending and getting into the groove.  I mentioned this to Russ when he came home from school today and he said that I sounded like a teacher.  He noticed when he taught that students always had trouble coming back from a break and getting back into a routine.  I have empathy for all those teachers out there, and my classroom is quite small!
Here are a few pictures of the Herman clan:
Dad and Carol
The grandkids with Grandpa and Grandma.  The two on either end of the back row, Claire and Bradley, are Carol's grandchildren.  Her son Vey and his wife Pam who live Indiana have joined us at Dayton Oaks for the last several years.
The grandchildren

Mara with her boyfriend Skyler.  Mara is the oldest grandchild and a freshman at Dakota Wesleyan this year.
Doesn't this look like trouble?  These are Nathan's two boys on the left and Renee's youngest on the right.
Lydia with Kaylan, Philip and Pam's little foster child.
Straws and connectors--the kids have tons of fun with these