Thursday, September 29, 2011

Colors and Creatures of Creation (Summer)

Summer is definitely over and fall is officially here.  As we look forward to Michigan's colorful fall,  we want to share a few colors and creatures the kids noticed while enjoying God's creation this past summer.  

Turtle sunning himself on a rock in the river.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quick Update

As some of you already know, we had a more eventful weekend than we wanted.  It started out so nice!  After Caleb and Russ were done with school Friday afternoon, we drove downtown and parked in the YMCA parking lot to walk around downtown and look at many of the Art Prize entries.  The younger four and I had already seen a few of the art entries as we had a field trip to the GR Public Museum with the FRC home school group on Thursday afternoon.  Anyway, the weather was beautiful.  They had predicted rain, but the sun was shining and it was not that cold.  We walked around until about 6:00.  After making chicken quesadillas for supper we all cuddled together in the family room for family movie night--The Princess Bride.   Saturday morning I went to my BSF leaders meeting and shortly after I arrived home we all packed up to take Nicolas to his first soccer game (he lost, but had fun).  Once again it was a beautiful morning.  The soccer fields had a park nearby where Russ, Caleb and I took turns watching the younger three and Nicolas' game.  About five minutes before the ending of the game, Lydia fell off the uneven bars and landed on her arm wrong.   Russ brought her to the bleachers just as I was getting off to walk to meet them because the game was over.  She was crying and in obvious pain.  I took one look and knew it was broken so kind of shooed everyone over to our van so as not to draw attention to her.  After getting the other four settled with lunch and a video if needed, Russ and I took her to the ER at the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.  The gal at the front desk took a quick peek and went to get a splint to support it.  We did not have to wait in the waiting room, thankfully, and were taken right back to a room.   Vitals were taken by a tech, but fairly quickly a nurse came in to assess numbness, tingling, get a history, etc.  She came back shortly with some oxycodone which really took the edge off for Lydia.  Then the Dr. came, took one look, said, "She broke her arm.  We'll just get a few x-rays to see how badly and how we need to set it."  So off to x-ray we went.  Keep in mind this did not go as quickly as I write this.  We were able to watch almost the entire movie Tangled in between visits from doctors and nurses!  I was able to see her x-ray (I asked) and the break looks similar to this picture only it is not completely through on the ulnar side ("hanging by a thread" was the Dr.'s exact words). 

They molded a plaster splint for her immobilizing her wrist and elbow.  This was the most painful for Lydia.  As the resident pushed to mold the cast she closed her eyes and a painful grimace was written all over her face.  He asked, "Does this hurt?"  Lydia did not answer verbally, instead the tears started to squeeze out of her closed eyes.  And my heart hurt.  After he asked her a second time with no verbal response, I couldn't stand it and finally said, "I don't think she is going to answer you, you're going to have to read her facial expression.  Duh!!"  Okay, I didn't say the "duh!" part, but certainly wanted to.    I need to call the orthopedic doctor's office tomorrow to make an appointment in 7-10 days for a follow up x-ray.  At that time, hopefully, she will be fitted with a cast that will not immobilize the elbow.  She is doing fine as long as she has Lortab, her "happy" medicine.

What bothers Lydia the most is that she will not be able to play piano for awhile.  She just started lessons in August and really just loves it.  Caleb said that when I left to take Anna on a much needed shopping trip late yesterday afternoon she kept going to the piano and trying to play.  Doesn't that make for a sad picture?

So, the weekend did not go as planned, but a few things were brought to my attention once again.  Brie-Brie is quite brave when she needs to be.  My kids really do love each other.  (Anna:  "My stomach hurt the entire time you were gone.") Caleb is a great baby (sibling?) sitter.   When I pray with my kids when they are fearful or anxious it probably helps me just as much as it helps them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Else Are We Doing?

It seems that I have only been blogging about home school activities.  True, this does take up quite a bit of our day and my time.  But, we do have other things going on.

Caleb continues to have at least two soccer games a week.  Usually one is home and one is away.  Up until this week they had only won one game.  This week they won both games they played!  In a few weeks I will get my chance to bring in the team meal before the game and work concessions for the varsity soccer game.  Thankfully, the weather has been great and we have enjoyed sitting at the games.  Caleb also took some of his first "high school" tests last week.  We can go on a site called RenWeb and see his assignments and grades.  He seems to be doing pretty well.  He also had chair placement tests for orchestra on Monday.  They were supposed to be on Friday, but were postponed until Monday because the seniors had been on a retreat.  Caleb was relieved because he had violin lessons on Saturday and could ask Mrs. Van Zytfeld for help on some of the more difficult pieces.   I took my violin out to help him when he thought the placement test was on Friday and, therefore, before his lessons.  I attempted to play two measures with him and then just set down my violin and offered to play the notes on the piano instead.   I realized his violin playing has surpassed mine!  He was thrilled to find out today that he was placed as the first chair second violin.  He does realize, however, that with this honor comes the responsibility to know his music well:).

Nicolas started city soccer last week.  This entails one night of practice a week (Thursday) and one game (Saturday).  His season runs until the end of October.  He was so excited to play organized sports again.  He also seems to enjoy the home school orchestra again this year.  So far the music has not been that challenging, but his cello teacher challenges him a little so that is good.  The girls and Seth usually pack up their school work in backpacks and we work at a table in the Home School Building gym.  Other than the drums practicing in the same area we enjoy the change of setting.  

We have all been attending BSF again on Monday nights for the study of Acts.  The big difference this year is that I agreed to be a children's leader.  They placed me in Level 4 which is the 7th, 8th and 9th graders.  Yep, I have both Caleb and Nicolas in my class.   So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed the leader's meetings on Saturday mornings and getting to know my co-leaders in the children's program.  The time for preparation has been the most challenging and I pray that this will get easier as I become more comfortable in my role.  In case you are wondering, preparation includes my lesson, the kids' lesson, homiletics, and a Bible lesson (lecture).  So far, I have only had to lead the discussion group and Biblical Truth time.  Next week I get to try my hand at leading the homiletics part.  I appreciate that they are breaking me in slowly!

Russ seems to be enjoying classes.  This fall he has OT Introduction, Greek I, Hebrew III, NT Introduction, Minister and Ministry, Prolegomena, and Practice Preaching.  He delivered his practice preaching sermon on Wednesday.  This is always a challenge due to the setting--in front of peers and faculty with critique at the end.  Russ said it went quite well with many positive comments and useful critiques.   I still try to bake for the seminary students one day a week.  It is not as much fun as last year since Russ is not able to eat many baked goods anymore.  Through the process of elimination and a little detective work, we were able to narrow his stomach issues down to an intolerance to eggs.  For the last several years he has been unable to eat cooked eggs (fried, scrambled, boiled, etc) without stomach discomfort.  The inability to eat anything that remotely contains egg is new since this summer. 

Our pears are finally done.  I thank the Lord for such a bountiful harvest of beautiful pears!  We were able to share a few boxes with fellow seminary students and I also canned several quarts and pints for my family in Iowa.  Mom and Dad were able to take them home with them when they visited.  They brought out a box of beautiful tomatoes from their garden that I made into sauce while they were here.   Since I had completely run out of all sauce, salsa, and soup, I really wanted to can a few more things.  Our tomatoes are not ripening very well because of the cold weather so Russ and I made a trip to the Fulton Farmer's Market on Saturday.   Wow!  What a great farmer's market!  I wish I had had more time to browse.  Anyway, we picked up a bushel of tomatoes and I have been able to can more sauce, salsa and tomato soup.   One of the seminary wives came over this morning and we made a huge batch of salsa together.  The cupboards are no longer bare!  Now we turn towards apples and applesauce?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fish Ladder

When we went to the river to celebrate Tashlich, we also visited the fish ladder again.  This was our third visit.  I knew right away that the salmon were running for two reasons.  One, the parking lot was full.   Two, the fishermen were out in full force.    This is the first time we really saw fish "jump".   Mom and Dad, you were here a week too early!  Not sure these pictures can do it justice, so if you are intrigued you will just have to come visit us this time of year.  [Cade, don't you have a few days off from school soon for the Heartland Teacher's Institute?  We could also take you to Art Prize in downtown Grand Rapids (Sept 21-Oct 9)...and pick some good Michigan many days do you have?]

Taken from the side of the ladder--this guy almost jumped out of my camera range!

Also, taken more from the side

Front view

Front view--Can you spot the fish jumping on the right?

This is taken from the top of the ladder looking down.  This fish just made a huge jump from the white foamy water below!
Just to give some perspective regarding how the fish ladder fits into the dam and river scene.  I am actually up in the right corner of the fish ladder area in the blue shirt looking at the other side.  I am holding Seth, Nicolas is next to me in a blue shirt and Anna is next to him in the white shirt.   Fish were actually trying to jump the big dam--haven't seen any make it yet!

Another view from the top of the ladder although a slightly different angle.  This fish is just going for the jump!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rosh Hashanah

We celebrated our second Biblical feast day last weekend,  Rosh Hashanah.  Also known as the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the spiritual year for the Jews.  This feast day marks the first day of the seventh month on the Jewish calendar.  The seventh month is a holy month because the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is celebrated 10 days after the Feast of Trumpets.  A ram's horn, or shofar, is blown every morning for the ten days (except the Sabbath).   We made our own shofar to blow every morning with the words, "Awake, Sleeper. and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."  About five minutes (or less) after the completion of the shofar project I had to ask myself, "At what point did this seem like a good idea?!"

We again had a special family dinner that included among other things apples with honey (symbolic of the hope that the year will be a sweet one), cooked carrots (symbolizing that God will increase our blessings as we walk with Him), and round challah as opposed to the braided challah (symbolic of the desire for a round and full year).  We concluded our meal by reading Gen 22 and discussing God's provision of a ram in place of Isaac and ultimately God's provision of a Savior through Jesus Christ. 

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are to be a time of preparation, to prepare for the sacred coming time.  This is a time for personal contemplation, prayer and repentance.  Actually, the time of preparation for the Jews begins a month earlier (or 30 days prior to Rosh Hashanah) for a total of 40 days of preparation.  We plan to observe just the ten days.  We read the book Sound the Shofar by Leslie Kimmelman to help us understand the feast day.

It is traditional as part of Rosh Hashanah to have a special observance called Tashlich which means "you shall cast into the seas".  We had everyone collect stones and put them in their pockets.   On the drive down to the river the kids read several verses that referenced the forgiveness of sins--they are blotted out, cast into the sea, and remembered no more.  After finding a fairly secluded spot we threw our stones in the water one by one as we silently named our sins.   We even turned our pockets inside out and gave them a good shake to make sure all our sins were confessed because sometimes sin can be pretty sticky!

This coming weekend we will celebrate Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement.  I haven't read up on all that entails yet, so stay tuned!

Seth finished up his first week of "letter learning" with the letter "S" for "Sun".  All activities were based on sun, shadows, sundial etc.  His memory verse was "Jesus is the Light of the World."  Seth learning a memory verse goes about as well as memorizing letter names.   He kept wanting to say "Jesus is the Son of God" which actually makes perfect sense since the picture for the week was of the sun!

Love this picture!  Seth is working on his sundial.

The rest of us looked at the Tower of Babel, the Dispersion and migration of Noah's descendents, Sumerians, ziggurats, cuneiform writing, Mesopotamia, the Fertile Crescent and Gilgamesh.   We referenced the Epic of Gilgamesh last week when we studied the Flood as the book gives an account of the Great Flood.  We brought it back this week as King Gilgamesh was a Sumerian king in the city of Uruk.  For activities we made cuneiform cookies, a model of a ziggurat, and the girls completed a booklet on the Sumerians.  We also finished up our Science unit on light with a few fun experiments.  As we start our study of Egypt we will take a break from our regular science book, Genesis for Kids, and insert science activities based on the pyramid.  More about that later...

I used a boxed sugar dough mix before I remembered it was "fun-fetti."  Thus the pink flecks...

Seth made animal tracks with his plastic animals instead:)

Our ziggurat

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Week Update for Sept 5-11

I just realized it has been over a week since I posted any updates, so I guess I will start with last Monday, Labor Day.    Since Russ had quite a bit of work to catch up on, I went ahead with homeschool on the holiday.  We enjoyed having Caleb join us for morning devotions and art activities just like old times.   Of course, I didn't want to be accused of being no fun at all so that afternoon I suggested we take a trip to the fish ladder on the Grand River.  The dam on the river prevents fish from moving upstream so a fish ladder was built for the fish to jump their way to the top and over the dam.  It was such a gorgeous day!  We started at the fish ladder, then walked on the sidewalk along the river to the Ford Museum.  On the lawn by the museum several tents were set up by various businesses and unions, live music was playing and food vendors were selling their goodies.  We evidently walked into a Labor Fest.  We wandered around for awhile enjoying the museum fountain and then walked back to the fish ladder where we had parked.  Probably the most memorable for the kids was the evidence that homeless people were living under the I-196 bridge by the river.   We first noticed the grocery carts parked in the bushes and then saw the blankets, clothes and other items that indicated people had "set up house" under the bridge. 

Walking along the Grand River

Labor Day 2011

Tuesday morning I had a hard time saying good-bye to CJ--we so enjoyed having him home for the long weekend.  It helped that Grandpa and Grandma B were coming later in the day though!   They arrived late afternoon and were pretty tired as they had left quite early and made the trip in one day.   I left them in good hands later that night and went to our first Ministry Wives Institute meeting in which Dr. Beeke addressed the wives on being a pastor's helpmeet.

On Wednesday Nicolas had his first meeting of the school year with the homeschool orchestra.  Grandpa and Grandma watched the younger three for me that morning.  That afternoon after Caleb was done with school (and we completed our homeschool day) but before he had to return for soccer practice we took Grandpa and Grandma to the fish ladder.  The fish are just starting to "run" more and will increase as the month goes.  We'll have to take another trip soon.  On this trip we were able to actually see one of the "below the bridge" dwellers, pushing his grocery cart full of stuff. 

Thursday morning Grandpa and Grandma went to visit Aunt Alyda while we homeschooled.  That afternoon we made a trip to Sam's Club.  I do not have a membership so shopping there is always a treat.  Later we went to Caleb's soccer game at Covenant Christian HS.  From there we picked up a Jet's pizza and went on to Holland State Park.  I thought the whole night was turning into a fiasco as it was drizzling outside the Jet's Pizza when we realized we had called our order in to the wrong place.  Our pizza was waiting at the Jet's Pizza 20 minutes away in Holland, not in Zeeland like we wanted.   But the rain stopped, we ate our pizza a little later then planned, but it still tasted good as we watched the waves on the beach of Lake Michigan!

We had fun watching this little mink(?) dodge on and off the pier and in the rocks.

We were still able to catch a beautiful sunset!

Friday, Mom and Dad did some shopping in the morning while we homeschooled.  Somewhere in these days we also canned pears and tomato sauce, but that all runs together for me...Friday afternoon Russ and Nicolas left for a Tigers/Twins game in Detroit.  This was the outing they were to have last summer for THE TALK, but with the move never got done.  After a one hour game delay due to rain they were able to watch the Twins lose--bummer.  They stayed for the fireworks and I think arrived home around 2:30 in the morning!  The rest of us went to the Bleeker gathering at Gary and Jerry's house Friday night.  They just built a beautiful home east on Leonard.  Jerry called ahead to make sure the kids brought their suits and they enjoyed swimming for an hour or so.  I think this was the first birthday gathering since Uncle Clarence passed away in August.

Saturday Dad left early to go to his Mission Committee meeting.  Mom and I went the the BSF leader's meeting.   I don't remember exactly what we did all day, but I know mom and I made a trip to Meijer and we made detergent and pigs in the blanket and canned pears and crab apples.   

We went to church at the FRC on Sunday morning.  Dr. Murray preached and the kids started the new year of Sunday school.  Mom and Dad left a little bit after Sunday lunch and we missed them almost before they left the driveway.  We love having them here!   I know it is a long drive, but hope they can make the trip more often (hint, hint).

For our homeschool week we continued working through Genesis studying primarily Noah and the flood.  One morning we went outside and actually measured 475 feet on the sidewalk just to get an idea of how large the ark really was.  The kids decided that the trees were not actually destroyed in the flood, but they were all used to build the ark before the flood.  We also looked at several creation myths, discussing similarities and differences to the true creation story.  Specifically, we read The Star-Bearer:  A Creation Myth from Ancient Egypt and Lord of the Animals:  A Miwok Indian Creation Myth.   Seth finished up his 10 day introduction unit which included a study of  Creation and a review of the alphabet.   Now we start studying one letter a week for the next 26 weeks.   He continues to have trouble learning the names of the letters.   With alphabet flash cards he can probably name 6-7 accurately.  He can, however, give me the sounds that all the letters make.    Hmmm...wonder if watching The Letter Factory umpteen times has something to do with that. 

We are off to another busy week.  Music lessons, soccer games, BSF, homeschool, orchestra...sometimes I wish it were still summer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

First Week of Homeschool

We have one week of home school under our belt!  This week we studied the days of creation.  While drawing our creation pictures we listened to a little of Haydn's Creation.  Unfortunately, since I didn't realize that the book that explains the CDs circulates separately at the library we were not sure what we were always listening to!  I am still planning to get the book so we can be educated listeners:).

Some other areas we focused on were dinosaurs, light, and the Sabbath Day.  We are reading from the book Dinosaurs of Eden which is very similar to what we learned at the Creation Museum regarding the creation of and demise of the dinosaurs.  In science we focused on light, specifically on how it affects our eyes.  We looked at a couple of books on optical illusions which was fun.  The other main focus was preparing for and celebrating the Sabbath.  We will be celebrating several of the Jewish biblical feasts this year utilizing the book Celebrating Biblical Feasts by Martha Zimmerman.  We modified the celebration of the Sabbath to begin at sundown on Saturday instead of Friday and used Sunday as our Sabbath.   The kids enjoyed the preparation throughout the week--making a challah covering and a centerpiece for the table.   We also appreciated all the remembering of God's workings in the past as well as the fulfillment of the ceremony through Christ.  To prepare for the celebration we also read the books Annie's Shabbat by Sarah Lamstein and Shabbat by Miriam Nerlove.  We are also reading aloud All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown by Sydney Taylor which is a story of a Jewish family.  The kids are loving this book, so I'll have to go to the library and check out the other All-Of-A-Kind Family books.  This week we will continue on with Adam and Eve, the fall, and the flood.

Nicolas drew the challah cover by hand and the girls traced over it with fabric paint.
The seven candles we made for our centerpiece--one for each member of the family

Seth had fun helping put together the "candlestick" salad

The challah.  Would you believe they actually had this at the food pantry on Tuesday!!

Final Summer Family Trip to Lake Michigan Part 2?

I posted previously that we had taken the last trip with the whole family to Lake Michigan for the summer.  Since that time, I was told that we just "had" to see the sunset over the Lake.  So, we just "had" to plan another trip!  We tentatively planned it for Thursday night since Caleb's soccer game was cancelled (the other team couldn't play), but Sydney VR texted that her dad was in town to move her into Calvin and wanted to take our family out to eat.  Couldn't pass that up!  So we enjoyed my cousin Joel and Sydney's company and generosity at Carrabba's instead. 

On Friday Caleb did not have school or soccer practice (long holiday weekend), but the kids did have piano lessons until 4:30.  We picked them up from piano and then also grabbed a yummy Jet's pizza on the way to Lake Michigan.   We went to Holland State Park again this time and ate our pizza by the beach.  It was very hot/humid on Friday (I think it was in the 90s in Grand Rapids; a little cooler by the Lake) so the kids changed into their swimsuits and enjoyed swimming, jumping waves, and building sand creations.    We loved watching the sun go down over the lake and were amazed how much it cooled off when the sun was gone!  After quickly changing back into our clothes for the ride home, we ate ice cream cones overlooking the lake  enjoying the peacefulness of dusk.  Lydia leaned her head against my shoulder, gave a big sigh and said, "Can we do this again sometime?  I mean, this time of day?"

The only negative was that it was extremely busy.  I think it was a combination of the last "hot" day of summer and the holiday weekend.  The busyness did make getting a picture without other people or boats very difficult, but I will post a few of the kids' favorite pictures that I took that night. 

Seth enjoyed sitting on the pier and watching all the different boats come out of the harbor.  This one was his favorite.