Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Busy weekend, Birthdays, and Back to School

Wow, so much has been happening I haven't had a chance to sit down and update the blog! 

Last weekend Russ and I tag-teamed the PRTS Conference on the Holy Spirit.  Russ went Thursday night, and Caleb babysat so we could both go Friday morning.  Friday afternoon Russ went to get our "new" Montana and I watched the Ude's kids so Marieke could go with Nicodemus to the conference.   I made up Becca's meatball sub recipe and invited the Ude's to stay for supper when they came for their kids late afternoon.  We enjoyed wonderful fellowship discussing the conference messages, difference in worship services in Nigeria vs FRC in GR, our children, etc.   The Ude's left to go to the evening conference messages which I was also able to attend.  Russ went to Caleb's soccer game with the rest of the kids.  Neither of us was able to attend the conference on Saturday morning.  I had BSF Leader training as I agreed to be a children's leader this coming year and Russ stayed home with the kiddos. 

Since I had so much going on with  getting Caleb ready to start school, BSF training, preparing for homeschool, keeping up with the housework, and trying to shepherd  the hearts of five children I was getting a little overwhelmed.  The conference and the leader's meeting were both like water on a parched desert!  Why do I think I have to muster some light or some goodness within me that God can use?  Why do I feel I have to do all of this "leading" on my own?   Why am I not willing to just empty myself and be a channel for the Spirit--the same Spirit of Jesus Christ?  I was wonderfully comforted and encouraged this weekend for which I am so grateful as we usher in a busy school year. 

That leads us to birthdays.  I celebrated #41 on Sunday.  We had a quiet day, attending the FRC both services, and hearing great messages from Dr. Murray.  Dave and Mary Beth had invited us for Sunday dinner so I didn't even have to make a Sunday meal.  I did bring pear pies for dessert, though.  (I have to do something with all those pears!).  I was glad to have a nice chat with Lynn, my birthday partner, as she and her family were leaving Iowa for Haiti the next day.  Mom and Dad emailed last night that they did arrive in Haiti safely yesterday.

On Monday, my baby turned 5.  Seth was so excited to finally be five.  Now he could homeschool with the other kids, learn to ride bike without training wheels, and a few other things that he had preferred not to do until "I turn five."  Waiting for Caleb to be done with school and his soccer game to open his gifts was almost too much for this five year old.   But he did wait and we enjoyed eating a pirate cake afterwards that we put together that morning. 

Lydia took the two bike pictures with my camera.  I thought she did a pretty good job.  I was probably canning pears or something :)

Still in jammies!  One of the advantages of homeschool.

And the final topic:  we all went back to school this week.  The kids all started Monday and Russ went back on Tuesday.  Caleb seems to enjoy NorthPointe as he comes home after school and soccer practice quite chipper and chatty.    We found that hot lunch is all a la carte and quite expensive so he has been either taking a lunch or supplementing his lunch with fruit, yogurt, etc. from home.   He says he feels like a pack horse as he goes to school with his gym bag for soccer, his violin (orchestra meets every day), backpack and a lunch bag.  Caleb worried a little bit about finding someone to share a locker with so he was relieved when one of the freshman boys on his soccer team asked to be his locker mate.

As I mentioned, we started homeschooling on Monday as well.   So far, so good.  We are on the second year of My Father's World five year rotation and are studying Creation to the Greeks this year.   I will try to continue to give a weekly update on what we are studying, favorite books, activities, etc.   Seth will be the biggest challenge and I pray for the energy and creativity to teach that boy a simple kindergarten curriculum.  Up to this point all the kids have known how to read and the older three had a good handle on math facts.  Teaching one to read seems a little daunting, but we will take it one letter at a time...

Russ started class yesterday.  He says he enjoys his Greek professor's sarcastic sense of humor--no surprise.    He is currently scheduled to take 18 credits, but with his math tutoring at NorthPointe four periods/students on Monday and one student every day he is wondering if he may need to eliminate a class.  He enjoys working with the student he meets with on a daily basis and is looking forward to getting to know the others as well.

Actually, he just returned from the seminary and, after visiting with his academic advisor has decided to only take 15 credits this semester.  He will take 3 credits in January, 16 next spring and then 3 in May.  Overall this will keep him on track for total credits and hopefully also sane and without a heart attack.

At this time we have no plans for the long weekend.  Caleb does not have class Friday or Monday, nor soccer practice on Thursday.   We will get the house ready for our visitors who arrive next Tuesday (Mom and Dad)!   

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New Van! Well, Kinda...

We decided to go ahead and look for a different vehicle rather than putting money into one that had 172,000 miles.   Finding an 8 passenger mini-van was just not that easy, but we finally found one in our price range that had only 92,000 miles. 

Yep, looks just like our old one--same make, model, and year. The only thing missing is the roof rack and since this is a "must" for us we obtained names of individuals that could install one for us. 

This vehicle does have something that I'm sure yours doesn't even have, though:

Pretty cool, huh?  You don't have that, do ya?  It is almost (but not quite) like finding out your vehicle plays 8-track tapes.  

We feel at peace with this decision and pray this vehicle will take us back and forth to Iowa safely and be a good solid vehicle for us the next three years.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Final Summer Family Trip to Lake Michigan

Yesterday we tried the beach at Holland State Park.  It was a red flag day which meant it was too dangerous to swim, but not too dangerous to jump the huge waves close to shore!   We enjoyed walking a short distance on the pier (not too far out because the waves were so big at the end of the pier they were washing over the it) and watching the huge waves crash into the rocks.  As Caleb said, "I could sit here all day and watch this!"

The peaceful waters of the channel between two piers.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

West Michigan White Caps Baseball

Tuesday night we utilized the kid's free tickets from the library reading program and watched the West Michigan Whitecaps in action.  The Whitecaps won, the game was exciting, and we even were able to watch a lightening show before the sky opened up around the 8th inning.  Other than for church and seminary activities I think this was the first time we went to an activity in the Grand Rapids area and saw several people we name even!  

The sky is darkening!

And the rain pours down...

Wednesday night we attended Caleb's back to school night as a family.  Caleb was able to walk through the school, find his classrooms and meet all the teachers.  The entire staff was incredibly warm and I feel pretty good about sending my oldest to high school on Monday.  Russ will be tutoring on Mondays at the HS for Algebra I and II students.  On Monday at Caleb's freshman class party put on by room moms I actually met a dad whose son will be tutored for Alegbra I.  First adult I saw, first one with whom I shared introductions, and when I start to describe our history (move from Iowa, husband in seminary, homeschool other kids, etc) he says, "I think I know of your husband.   Will he be tutoring at NP?  In Algebra I?  My son will be tutored by him."  Even here in Grand Rapids I can't escape being known as Russ Herman's wife!  How is it that everyone always seems to know him first?!?  Of course, I do not mind in the least, but I did think it was quite funny that the first person I meet/greet in a sea of unfamiliar faces had heard of Russ.

Russ has finished up the research work that he was doing for Dr. Murray this summer.  He did give Russ additional work that he can do in his "free" time (reading and reviewing books, I think).  Now he is just working through his summer Hebrew assignments, downloading syllabi, and ordering/obtaining his books for the fall. 

The bad news of the week thus far is that our Montana is struggling.   It has been shaking when we start it up and the "service engine" light goes on.  We took it in for a service on Wednesday and wanted him to take a look at that for us.  He called late afternoon and said the head gasket is going, the shocks in the back are shot, and has a concern about the transmission from some of the other "symptoms" Russ had mentioned.   We were both pretty bummed to hear the news.  With all we have going on at the start of the school year, making a decision first of all on what to do (fix or buy), spending the money to fix or buy something different,  and then possibly spending the time to look for another vehicle all seem overwhelming right now.   I don't think it was a mistake that Seth's bedtime devotional that night from Sammy and His Shepherd was about being "cast down" and the Great Shepherd restoring our souls...I think I will just go to bed and at least restore the body and then pray that he will restore my soul to trust him to take care of us as he has done so well in the past. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week Update

I think after being home for a week, we are back into a little bit of a least for another week or so until school starts.   Caleb survived his first week of soccer practice and his first tournament.  Not much to survive tournament-wise as they only played half a game before it was called for lightening.  Ultimately, the entire tournament was called for thunderstorms.  They did a lot of sitting on the bus waiting, but maybe that was good as it forced the boys to get to know each other better.

Anna struggled with a sore throat all week last week.  After complaining for 4 days and tears at mealtime when she needed to swallow I decided to get it checked out.  She had no other symptoms (fever, runny nose, cough, etc) so I didn't think it was serious.  Her strep test was negative, but her tonsils were extremely enlarged and inflamed (she actually had trouble swallowing because of the lack of room in her throat).  She is feeling better now, but I am concerned about how she will do through the winter months as we had been warned when she had tubes and adenoids removed that she would need tonsils out sometime also.   Guess I am borrowing trouble again:)

Russ also made a trip to the doctor today (although he notes he is a "model of health").  He has had digestive issues for about a month.  We have tried to figure out if it is a food allergy/sensitivity but couldn't seem to make sense of anything.   Today the Dr. thought he may have some sort of diverticulitis.  He had blood work done and was put on Prilosec for a month.  He is to have a follow up in one month.   We pray this will do the trick as he doesn't need health issues on top of an extremely busy fall semester. 

Yesterday we worshiped at the Free Reformed Church with Scott Dibbet preaching both services.  We were able to say good-by to both him and his family as they officially left Grand Rapids this morning on their move to Lacombe, Alberta where he will pastor a FRC.    With his warm, pastoral heart I know he will be a blessing to that congregation.

This week is a busy week as music lessons start up again, PRTS has their annual conference, I have leader's training for BSF and a homeschool meeting with new PRTS families, Caleb has two soccer games and a couple "back to school" events, we have a Whitecaps game to attend,  and the entire family is invited to a lake cottage on Saturday afternoon and evening as a kick-off for the Young People's group at the FRC (Caleb's group).  Hope I can keep everything straight.  In between all the activities we also need to find time to harvest and can pears as our trees are brimming and the pears are ripening nicely!

I finally talked Nicolas into not eating so many fresh tomatoes so I could make salsa!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Vacation--Stop Four, Raccoon River Bible Camp

We packed up from Sioux Center Thursday morning and drove to Glidden, IA to Russ' parents.  They have had a tough summer with Russ' dad having rotator cuff surgery followed by a serious bout of pneumonia.  Although they have had individuals come out and help on the farm--mow lawn, clear brush, etc--when we arrived Russ' dad requested we assist with cutting out several dead branches from the trees.  After a few chores around the farm we drove to the RRBC where the rest of the Herman clan planned to meet to celebrate Wayne and Carol's 25th wedding anniversary.  Once again we had beautiful weather and were incredibly blessed to have the entire family in one place.  Carol's oldest son and his wife from the Des Moines area were also able to join us.   The Saturday we celebrated Wayne and Carol's anniversary was also our 17th anniversary! 
Trimming trees
Teaching Aunt Renee how to play Monopoly Deal

The cabin that Russ, Seth and I stayed in.  The other kids stayed in the dorm area with their cousins.  Renee and Andy volunteered to stay in the dorm to supervise.

Seth and Karsten walking toward the dorm.

Having the pool open a few hours each afternoon was a nice treat!

Uncle Andy, what goes around...

...comes around!

A rousing (and loud) game of water basketball.
Enjoying the shade while the rest were in the pool.

Josiah, Leah, and Mara--the three oldest grandchildren.

The kids were thrilled the camp had two cats.   This brought back memories of the scrawny, deaf cat (Bones, later renamed Libby) Russ saved from RRBC the summer we were married.

The nine hole mini golf was a hit with the little kids...

...and big kids, too!

The moon on the way to home sweet home.

Vacation--Third Stop, Part One: Corn Day 2011

From Park Rapids, MN we went to Sioux Center to stay at Mom and Dad's for a few days.  Russ had agreed to preach in two different churches that Sunday, one in Sioux Center and one in Orange City.  Monday morning Dad picked up 35 dozen ears of  corn to clean and freeze.  Cory dubbed this day "Corn Day 2011".   Lots of little hands made light work (and a lot of double checking of hairy ears of corn)!

Vacation--Third Stop, Part Two: Ice Cream Capital of the World

Once again we enjoyed spending time with friends and family while in Northwest Iowa.  Monday afternoon and evening Sarah Walter came over and watched "Soul Surfer" with us and helped us eat Grandpa's good popcorn.  Caden also stayed over Monday night with the boys.  On Tuesday Lydia spent time with Kate Walhof and Anna went to Sophie Swart's house.  Seth and I drove over to the Scheaffer farm to see Amy and the kids.  That evening after roasting hot dogs on the bonfire for supper, Grandpa and Grandma took us to Le Mars for awesome Well's ice cream.