Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Orchestra Concert

Last night the boys finished out their home school orchestra year with a concert at Duncan Lake Middle School.  They played three pieces:  Jane and Josey, Carefree Caper, and Gauntlet.  I must say that they sounded pretty good!  The best part of the whole night was that Grandma B. flew in from Iowa to attend the concert with us.  She will stay until next week Monday...happy sigh.  We had bad weather last night with thunderstorms, tornado warnings, and lots of rain, but nothing too serious that it interfered with the concert.

I did take a few pictures, and apologize for the quality of the ones at the concert.  I had a little wiggle buns on my lap at that time. 

Monday, April 25, 2011


We shortened up and condensed our Russia unit so we could take some days off and enjoy Bryan and Becca's visit over Easter.  We did manage to learn about the St. Basil Cathedral (Nicolas and Anna practiced drawing the cathedral); onion domes; Ural mountains; various rivers and cities; the steppe, taiga and tundra; how boys and girls are named; Russian nesting dolls or matryoshka dolls; Czars Peter the Great, Ivan the Terrible, Catherine and Anna; Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker (we read the story and watched/listened to several of the ballet pieces on YouTube), Peter and the Wolf (read and listened to the story and learned about the various instruments), Faberge eggs (decorated a few of our own); discussed the Russian revolution and the mystery of Anastasia (we watched the animated movie Anastasia, too).

This is the best we could do with wooden nesting dolls.  We found these last year at the thrift store and now dug them out of a box that they were still in from our move!  The baseball behind the dolls also opens up and nine little guys the size of the smallest nesting doll fit inside--just enough for a baseball team.

Our Faberge eggs--we decorated these with the Bleeker kids

We ended up not having an ethnic meal--maybe we can try to do that another time.  The kids were a little disappointed so will have to try to fit that in later this week or next. 

Some books we enjoyed:  Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker Ballet both by Vladimir Vagin; Luba and the Wren, The Trees of the Dancing Goats, and Rechenka's Eggs all by Patricia Polacco; The Tale of the Firebird by Gennady Spirin; Peter the Great by Diane Stanley; and The Fool of the World and The Flying Ship.

Since the Arctic Circle includes the upper parts of Russia, we spent our time in science learning about the plants, animals, and overall ecosytems of the Arctic.  Both Nicolas and Anna spent time researching several animals:  polar bears, arctic fox, Siberian husky, arctic hare, caribou, and a few more I can't think of right now.  Today we started our trek "down under" as we study Australia in geography and the coral reef and islands in science.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bryan and Becca's Visit

Bryan and Becca drove through the night Wednesday night and were at our house Thursday morning between 8:00 and 9:00.  We fixed pancakes/bacon for breakfast and then just enjoyed visiting and having family here!  Russ had class all day but he met us at Riverside Park later in the afternoon.  Although there was still a cool breeze, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful
afternoon.  After thoroughly enjoying the ribeyes Bryan and Becca brought from home and the fresh strawberry pie I made earlier in the day, I took Becca on a trip to experience Meijer (she thought it was more like Super Target than Walmart)  

On Friday morning we went to the seminary for a tour and to shop at the bookstore.   After a quick lunch of soup and Casey's cinnamon and sugar bread (thanks again B and B!) Bryan and Becca left with their two oldest to go through the Bodies Revealed special exhibit at the GR Public Museum.  Russ and I met them an hour later with the rest of the kids to go through the other part of the museum.  Since the day was cold and drippy the kids spent late afternoon/evening inside playing hide and seek and other board games.  

Learning about Grand Rapids--"Furniture City"

A taste of NW Iowa?

Learning about the vests men wore at the turn of the century.

General store

Saturday morning we had a slow start with the kids watching Ratatouille in their jammies after breakfast.  The clouds started to break apart around noon and since Caden wanted to see Lake Michigan pretty badly, we took off for Grand Haven around 2:00.  Although the sun was shining, the wind off the lake was cold, but it didn't seem to bother the older kids at all.  We walked the pier and were excited to see some fishemen catch fish:  walleye (a huge one!), rainbow trout, lake trout, and brown trout.  We arrived back home late afternoon with lots of sand between the toes.  We ordered Jets pizza for supper and then celebrated the birthdays of Nicolas, Caden, Amirah, Willow, and Romee.  The kids again played games and then the older boys stayed up to finish the movie Pilgrim's Progress that they had started the night before. 

Playing football in the sand--this is why Cade had sand in his ears!

At the end of the pier.

Soaking in the warm rays away from the wind

A few trout the fishermen caught

This morning, Easter Sunday, we worshipped at Harvest OPC.  Pastor Dale's sermon text was from 1 Peter 3:18-22.    We were just back in the house when Bryan came in asking Becca if she had a spare set of keys.  Evidently he (Becca? one of the kids?) hit the lock button and locked the keys in the car.  We called our AAA and found that our membership expired in January--we had forgotten to renew or had not received a renewal notice probably because of the move.    Thankfully, they renewed our membership over the phone and within 30 minutes someone was here to open the doors.  After we changed out of our new Easter duds, Becca hid lots of eggs in the yard for the kids to find while we waited for dinner to be ready.  She put little pieces of paper with words related to the resurrection in some of the eggs along with the candy.  After they were all done, they sat in the middle of the driveway and opened the eggs and took turns reading the words and explaining what they had to do with the resurrection. 

We had such a great time.  One can not adequately blog about the laughs we shared, the parenting "wisdom" exhanged, or the church/spiritual discussions that were had.  The visit went all too quickly and as I write this, my house is entirely too quiet.   This weekend Russ and I mentioned a couple of times to each other that although Greenville also has a great seminary, we are once again glad we chose a seminary closer to home.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Blessings

Easter is not about aggs, bunny it is about Jesus when he died.  I love the story when he died.  He died for us because he died for are sins.  Nobudy wud do such theg (thing) but Jesus love us and he died for us.  Jesus died for me and Jesus arose and Jesus rised.

Lydia age 7 1/2
First Grade

Friday, April 22, 2011

Frogs and snails...

Some boys are just more frogs-in-the-pocket, dirty fingernails, clothes always soiled, dig in the dirt, earthworm type of boys.  Nicolas fits in this category.  Since the weather continues to be cool and wet in Grand Rapids, Michigan what can Nicolas do when he goes outside?  Look for slugs!  I don't know how many he and the girls and Seth actually found, or how many they put in an old nightcrawler container, but it appears to be several.  Nicolas is faithfully wetting their habitat and feeding them lettuce.  They must be thriving because he found slug eggs underneath the rock he gave them.  Ugh!

We are so looking forward to spring and a little more sunshine!  We are excited to see buds on the trees and the occasional daffodil, tulip, or crocus, but without sun it still seems pretty unspringlike.  The girls and I decided to bring spring into the house by making a crocheted flower tree for our dining room table.   This is the finished product:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Morning Blues

We had a quiet restful weekend.  The weather was not great--Russ and I took a walk in the rain on Saturday afternoon.  We listened to Rev. Maurice Roberts from Scotland on Sunday at the Free Reformed Church.  He was there last weekend as well.  He is very easy to listen to and had good "passion week" sermons.  Sunday night we again went to Harvest OPC.  Pastor Dale did not preach, but a PhD student from Calvin, Mika Edmunson, preached a great gospel sermon emphasizing the doctrines of grace.   I think he wanted a few more "Amens" and "Hallelujahs" from the congregation, but since he had been worshiping at Harvest for about 6 months he probably knew what to expect!  Russ and I also tried to listen to a few messages from the Together for the Gospel conference in Chicago, but really only finished Alistair Begg's message on Christ in the book of Ruth.  I would like to pick away at a few more of those this week.

We were totally bummed to wake up this Monday morning to snow on the ground.  Not just a dusting, but at least 2 inches!

Were the kids just out here a few days ago playing playdough with the neighbor kids?

The kids have named the little squirrel that begs for sunflower seeds "Me" or "Me-Me" because he always puts one paw to his chest as if he is asking "Me?"  He regularly comes to the screen door to beg (we have lots of squirrels, but only one that comes up to the porch).  Smokey (the cat) likes to sit at the screen door with her tail twitching, her fur ruffled, all ready to pounce.  Me-Me remains unfazed.  Today, however, I felt a little violated when I entered the kitchen as Me-Me found a new place to beg-- on the flower planter right outside my kitchen window.  Of course, the kids fed the beggar and I am sure he will be back daily.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just Like My Daddy

I am not a morning person, never have been and I wonder if I ever will be?  Thankfully, I have a husband who loves the early morning hours because a few of my children do too.  One of Seth's favorite things to do when he gets up in the morning is to go to Dad's office and do "schoolwork" with him.  They have it all fixed up to work together in the morning.  Seth sits on a high step stool/chair and pulls out the desk extension.  Then he has lots of pens/pencils/markers and paper and just writes and draws while Russ is doing his work (usually translating Hebrew).  Most recently Seth has also made his own "office" behind the couch with Russ' Hebrew Bible as one of his necessary items. (Occasionally, he will call it his Spanish Bible).   Russ taught him the first verse and how to read it from back to front.   I heard him ask Russ tonight, "Dad, can you teach me more Hebrew?"  The other night Seth was in his "office" busy writing with the Hebrew Bible open.  He showed me a few chicken scratches, but evidently I wasn't impressed enough so he went to show Russ.  Russ looked at it casually, and then did a double take.  "This is Hebrew--did you write this, buddy?"  Seth was beaming from ear to ear.  Do you think four is too young to teach someone Hebrew--even someone who doesn't know the English alphabet or how to write his own name?  This little boy loves his mommy, but at the end of the day he wants to be just like his daddy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Riverside Park

Saturday was such a beautiful day that Russ bought some bait and we went to the Riverside Park to try our hand at fishing.  We didn't even have a bite, but we enjoyed each other, a fun snack, and just being outside.  The park was quite busy with bikers, walkers, golfers (of the frisbee sort) and a few fishermen.

We continue to enjoy beautiful weather this week.  The neighbor kids are over every afternoon and evening.  More about that later...