Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is a slightly belated post...

At the BSF Leader's Meeting fellowship the Saturday before Thanksgiving we were asked to share one blessing that we are especially thankful for this year.  (One?  Only one?)   I gave this some thought as I listened to my fellow leaders share, and decided that I was so very thankful for the blessing of God's provision for our family.  Yes, I am thankful for how he has provided for us financially through the generosity of churches, family, and other brothers and sisters in Christ, but I am also thankful for his provision in other areas as well.  I am thankful he provided a school for Caleb, music teachers for the kids, the seminary food pantry to offset the grocery bill, a fun home school group, supportive families, and doctors and dentists for the kids.  I am especially thankful for His provision of a Savior who rules and guards as king, atoned and intercedes as priest, and teaches and reveals as a prophet.

When Cora first wrote me that she and Marlon were planning to visit for the holiday I tried to hard to keep it a secret from the kids.    I succeeded with all but one (I had an obvious slip-up with Caleb) and it was fun to see their faces when the cousins walked through the door.  We celebrated Thanksgiving at Jim and Lisa Bleeker's house with Linda, Steve, Aunt Alyda, and Mark and Laura's family.  The weather was so beautiful that day, and actually all weekend.  The kids loved playing with Cody the Bleeker's dog.  After we left the Bleeker's we headed to Grand Haven to see Lake Michigan.  The waves were like ocean waves as it was incredibly cold and windy right by the lake.  The kids still had fun looking for shells and running around on the beach.  I didn't even get my camera out, but I know Cora took a few pictures. 

On Friday Cora and I went to Blok's Orchard and bought a few apples for her to take home and for me to make some more sauce or pies.   We met the rest of the crew at the seminary for a quick tour and then headed down to the river.  We parked by the fish ladder, but unfortunately, no fish were jumping.  We enjoyed a nice river walk to the Ford Museum and back.  Jet's Pizza cooked for us that night.  Cora and Marlon left late Saturday morning and the house was entirely too quiet.  Glad it is only a few weeks until Christmas break.

These two were in charge of the pancakes Saturday morning.

Seth Story

A quick Seth story to affirm my gratefulness for intercession for my children. I have told this story to some of you so this will be a repeat.  One night last week Seth was overtired going to bed.  When this occurs he has absolutely no filters on what he says.  He is downright ornery and disrespectful.  He was laying in bed angry with me for calling him on his behavior when I invited him to say his prayers, specifically praying about what just occurred.

"No, thank-you," he replied curtly. 

"I think it would be a good idea, buddy." 

He glared at me for a few seconds before replying in a clipped tone, "Fine."  And this is how his prayer started.  "Lord God in heaven.  My mom is being a knucklehead right now..." 

Not exactly what I had in mind for praying about the situation.  Tedd Tripp never described it like that in Shepherding a Child's Heart either.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Home School Weeks 12 and 13

 The last two weeks of home school have been slightly abbreviated.  The first week we took some time to go to a theater production of Ben and Me and to tour the Ben Franklin exhibit at the Ford Museum.  That week we also went ice skating with the FRC home-school group.   Last week, of course, was Thanksgiving and we only had three days of school. 

The older kids (and Seth by osmosis) have been studying the call of Moses and the Ten Plagues.  We made a booklet with each page describing the plague with pictures and then giving the name of the Egyptian god that God was showing his power over.   The girls had fun making construction paper frogs and putting them all over the house--in the beds, in the fridge, in the showers, on Dad's razor, etc.  They also took red food coloring and colored all the toilet bowl water, Smokey's water dish, etc.  Pretty cute to see them planning their "plagues".

We continued on the third day of creation for our science unit, learning more about molecules.  We learned about chemicals and acids and bases.  We made our own acid/base indicator from red cabbage and were able to test various substances (water, lemon juice, buttermilk, vinegar, baking soda, etc.)

In art we looked at how the Egyptians changed from etching pictures on the walls of tombs, to painting them on the walls of the caves in the Valley of the Kings.  The walls were too rocky to etch pictures so they painted instead.  So, one afternoon we painted our own rocks.  We also just had some "free" drawing time. 

We began a unit on Bach for our fine arts/music appreciation since we finished our Vivaldi unit.  So far, we have just talked about and listened to part of his life story, but will soon move into listening to some of his more famous works.

Seth completed his units on "w" for "water" and "i" for "insect".  In the water unit we had lots of fun (i.e. experiments!) looking at the water cycle.  Seth also learned the difference between a solid, liquid, and gas and made the cutest little chart where he drew pictures of examples from each category.   Seth also learned about "living water" and memorized the words, "Jesus gives my spirit living water to drink."  For insects we got our ants and set up our ant farm.  So far, they are thriving and the kids are enjoying watching them work hard and make their tunnels.  We learned that many insects work hard and the Bible uses them as examples for us to be diligent in our work as well.  Seth memorized the words, "I am a wise child, so I work hard."

Seth's "water" books:  A Drop of Water by Walter Wick; Squirts and Spurts:  Science Fun with Water by Vicki Cobb; Water Everywhere by Jill Atkins; and All the Water in the World by George Lyon. 

Seth's "insect" books:  Ask a Bug (DK); Bugs are Insects by Anne Rockwell; Insect Detective by Steve Voake; Don't Squash That Bug!  The Curious Kid's Guide to Insects by Natalie Rompella; Insects by Sandra Markle; On Beyond Bugs by Tish Rabe; Have You Seen Bugs? by Joanne Oppenheim.

Last week Saturday we had a nice afternoon and were able to go pick up the walnuts we had been unable to get to earlier.  Sharon overpaid my kids, but I couldn't talk her into anything less.  The kids enjoyed working hard and getting paid (they even had fun!) and I enjoyed watching them try to figure out how much to tithe and what to do with the rest.  Seth took most of the pictures that afternoon--all except the ones he is in. 

Russ is getting close to the end of his semester and will have quite a bit of crunch time getting all his papers in.  He did purchase a new "toy" that will save him quite bit of time.  This C-pen allows him to scan the words from a book or article right into a Word document.    He preached both services at a small OPC church in Kalamazoo last week Sunday, and this week he preached at another small church in Dorr, MI (about 25 minutes away).   The first opportunity came through the seminary, and the second came from the church itself.  A member of the first church he preached in had a brother in the second church and when that church was in a bind for Sunday night he recommended Russ.  The rest of us worshiped at the FRC to keep continuity in Sunday school and for Caleb's youth group.  Tonight, however, I decided to take the family to Harvest OPC and realized after we sat down and looked at the bulletin that Pastor Dale and Kevin DeYoung did a pulpit swap.  The best part (other than hearing Kevin preach) was that Trisha and family joined him.  We were able to visit briefly with Trisha and see their newest addition--Mary--for the first time. 

We had a great Thanksgiving as Cora and Marlon and family came up for a visit.  More about that in the next post.  I also had a wonderful surprise phone call on Saturday night from my sister Lynn in Haiti.  How awesome it was to hear her voice and listen to her laugh! 

We look forward to a busy few weeks and then getting ready to head to Iowa for the next holiday.  Weather permitting we plan to leave on Dec 17 and make the drive straight through.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Jesus' Death and Resurrection by Seth Herman

Once again, dictated word for word from Seth David Herman:

The disciples were eating lunch with Jesus and Jesus took the bread and He said, "This is my body which is broken for you.  Take it and eat."  Jesus took the wine and He said, "This is brought to you by the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit."  Jesus said, "Whoever gets the bread dipped in this ketchup will be the one who is gonna kill me."   Then they went to the Garden of Eden.  Jesus went to pray and said to his disciples, "While I go out and pray, you will stay awake."  And then they saw spears and torches shining in the distance.   And then Judas took Jesus and he kissed him and then they brought him to King Herod with his arms tied up.  And King Herod said, "What is wrong with this man?  What did he do wrong?"  He said to Jesus, "Did you do anything wrong?"  The next day Jesus was standing on the edge with another guy by him tied up and a lot of people were watching.  And King Herod said, "What should we do with this man."  The people shouted, "Crucify him!  Crucify him!"  So, they went up a hill with Jesus carrying the cross.  There he got hammered on the cross.  God said, "It is finished."   

Jesus was buried in a tomb.  Two soldiers guarded the tomb.  Mary and some other girls came to the tomb.  They were going to put spices on Jesus.  To their surprise they saw an angel sitting on the rock. He said, "Jesus has arisen.  Go tell the disciples."  They ran as fast as they could to tell the disciples.  When they got there they told the disciples.  The disciples didn't believe them because they didn't remember Jesus' words.  Then they saw a man walking with white cloth on him.  Then Jesus said, "I am Jesus." 

This is how Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home School Woes

Every home with children generates clutter, but homes where kids are homeschooled just have to create more than average.  Obviously, the kids are home all day so they will make more of a mess, but there is also the creative fall-out from school work.  And I know I have mentioned this before, but one of the hardest parts of homeschooling for me is the clutter it creates.  On any given day science experiments are resting on the counter or window ledge; paints, markers, and colored pencils are scattered over the counter, table, or floor; and scraps of paper from the latest creative session litter the floor.   Being willing to make my home a haven of creativity and learning is completely fine with theory.  But sometimes I just weary of the disorder and untidiness it creates.  So, yesterday I decided to go from room to room and photograph all those messy areas that irritate me.  And then I prayed that instead of seeing them as untidy annoyances, I would view them as blessings of learning and creativity!

Science experiment #1:  growing crystals from a thrift store purchased crystal growing set.

Science experiment #2:  Growing beans in Plaster of Paris to demonstrate physical weathering

Science experiment #3:  How long does it take for a grape to become a raisin?

Science experiment #4:  Growing crystals from alum powder  

Science experiment #5:  Crushed green leaves with acetone and coffee filters to show all the pigments stored in leaves.

Creativity #1:  1-2-3 Draw session

Creativity #2:  Results of Creativity #1 scattered on the sofa (Seth)
Creativity #3:  Painting rocks

Next week we set up an ant farm.  Sigh...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Weeks 10 and 11

Weeks 10 and 11 of home school brought us through the rest of the story of Joseph and up to Moses fleeing to Midian.  At the same time we looked at Ancient Egypt dress, crafts, food and drink, inventions, and class rank.  We studied the invasion of Egypt by the Hyksos and the reign of Queen Hatsheput.  We also took a quick look at what was going on in the Mesopotamia area during this time (the Old Babylonian Kingdom) especially Hammurabi and his laws.

Once again we tried to have fun with various activities related to our study.  The girls completed a mini book on the various classes/types of people in Ancient Egypt and one on Egyptian food and drink.  One noon we enjoyed an Egyptian lunch with cucumber slices, yogurt, almonds, figs, dates, raisins and dried cranberries.  The day we studied Egyptian dress the girls dressed up in Egyptian costume (all on their own!), and also cut out and decorated Egyptian paper dolls.  When we looked at some of the Egyptian inventions we made our own very primitive water clock. 

Aren't these Egyptian ladies just a hoot!

The Hyksos chariot that Nicolas colored and put together.

Anna made a hat like Queen Hatsheput.

In Genesis for Kids (science) we started Day 3--Land, Plants and Sea.  We didn't get to do many of the experiments because it was just so cold, rainy, and yucky outside.  We did manage to squeak in an outdoor scavenger hunt one afternoon last week.

We completed our Vivaldi unit by listening to "Winter" and painting a watercolor of a winter scene.  The music is supposed to depict ice skating and sitting in front of a fire.  For other art classes we completed one lesson on how to draw an eye and another on how to draw a tree branch.  For our most recent lesson we drew our own obelisks and decorated them to honor someone or to remember something God had done in the past (just like Queen Hatsheput).

Lydia's kitty in front of the fire.

Nicolas warming his ice skates by the fire.

Anna also has a kitty in front of her fire.

Seth finally completed his painting.  The pterodactyls are in the sky and the "hidden runners" are in the trees below.  Not sure what they are, but evidently they move fast and are in the Land Before Time movies (?)

Seth had a week of "D" for dinosaurs and another of  "O" for Octopus.  He was so excited about his dinosaur week.   He likes me to tell him what to wear each day, but last week Monday morning he came downstairs ready for school proudly dressed in his dinosaur shirt.  He knew exactly what he was going to wear that day without any help from mom!    He drew dinosaurs one day and made a stuffed dinosaur out of paper bags another day.  This was one time when I wished I had a sewing machine because it would have been fun to make a fabric stuffed dinosaur.  The words for this week were "Big and small, God made them all."

This is the same day the girls dressed as Egyptians and they did a little "facial art" on Seth as well.

This week was Octopus week.  We traced our fingers (minus the thumb) twice to make an octopus and later made a little ocean scene with it and other pictures we cut from magazines.  We also looked at a map of the world and marveled at how much of the earth is covered with water.   Seth then colored the oceans on his own map that I printed out for him.  We also talked about what it means to praise God as the words for this week were "Even the octopus praises the Lord."  Seth really enjoyed learning about the octopus, but was sad to know that a mommy octopus dies right after her babies hatch.

Seth has come along great with his letters and sounds.  I think he has trouble recognizing only two letters--I and U.   We played letter bingo this week once just with letter sounds, once with the letter names, and another where I would just say a word and he would have to recognize the first letter sound.  The only one he had trouble with was the letter names.   I am so thankful he has a good grasp on letter sounds because it has made blending sounds and words really easy for him. 

It is amazing how many things Seth picks up from what the other kids are learning.   One night this week Seth did something a little mischievous and I jokingly asked him how would he be punished in Hammurabi's laws?  (He watched us do a fun on-line activity regarding Hammurabi's Code).  Caleb interrupted saying, "I know who that is.  I studied him this year in World History, too.  Is he known for his laws or something?"  In a very condescending tone, Seth informed him that, "It's Hammurabi's Code, Caleb, not law.  Code."   I thought Caleb was going to choke.  A few nights later I was struggling to pronounce Queen Hatsheput's name, but I knew Seth caught on to the pronunciation right away earlier in the day when I read a book about her aloud to the kids.  As I struggled to pronounce her name that night, I found myself saying, "I can't remember now how to say her name, ask Seth."   Caleb gives me a quick look.  "Seth?"  Sure enough, the little guy knew exactly how to pronounce it.  The kids get such a kick out of what he learns from their lessons that they often quiz him at night.  And I think he's not paying attention!

Here is a list of some of the books we enjoyed the last few weeks:

For "D" week we mainly used Dinosaurs of Eden by Ken Ham and Dinosaurs by Design by Duane T. Gish. Other dinosaur books we liked but just modified the "millions of years" were Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff;  Beyond the Dinosaurs:  Monsters of the Air and Sea by Charlotte Lewis Brown; Did Dinosaurs Eat Pizza? by Lenny Hort; Dinosaurs Galore by Giles Andreae; Pteranodon: The Life Story of a Pterosaur by Ruth Ashby; My Visit to the Dinosaurs by Aliki (book on tape); Four & Twenty Dinosaurs by Bernard Most; Inside-Outside Dinosaurs by Roxie Munro; and the Wee Sing Dinosaurs CD.

For "O" week we read A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle; Gentle Giant Octopus by Karen Wallace; and Octopuses by Sandra Markle.

With the older kids we read Hatshepsut:  The Princess Who Became King by Ellen Galford and Hatshepsut:  His Majesty, Herself  by Catherine M. Andronik.  Nicolas and I also had fun flipping through the book Unwrapping the Pharaohs to look at the various proposed dates of the reigning Pharaohs to see who was reigning during the time of Moses and the Exodus.

Caleb finished up his first quarter of school last week and we were able to meet most of his teachers at conferences on Friday.  He seems to be doing well--they say he gets along with everyone and is engaged in the classroom.  No red flags anywhere.  I didn't think so, but it is nice to have it confirmed, since it is a new school with new teachers, new classmates, etc.   Last week NorthPointe had a special spiritual emphasis week where a group from Colorado, Axis, came out and gave six one hour chapel sessions using a multimedia approach to talk about teens and culture.  The brochure Caleb brought home looked pretty good and Caleb really enjoyed it.   He continues to be busy with music.  Last week Tuesday he had his first orchestra concert.  The high school orchestra sounds really good; I think they have quite a bit of talent.  As first chair second violin he had a small solo in one song.  He played it great--with all the confidence in the world.  I think it was only his mom that was sweating it out in the audience.  After that concert he moved to the first violin section at the request of the director.  He is now last chair first violin, but he feels it is a move up as the music is more difficult.  This afternoon he is at a piano sonata/sonatina festival first and then later he has a violin studio (a recital just for students).   Now that soccer is over he has also started the Rosetta Stone Spanish home program.  He was unable to take Spanish I at NorthPointe this year and would like to test out of it this summer and jump into Spanish II next year.    I admire his motivation!

As I mentioned, the weather has been less than stellar the last few weeks.  We have had moments of sunshine, but lots of cool rainy days.  The kids were hired by one of my BSF co-leaders to pick up walnuts in her yard, but we haven't gotten around to it due to the yucky weather.  In fact, we had our first snow fall on Thursday!  That all said, the weather today is beautiful and Russ is out getting some yard work done as I type this up.

Russ continues to enjoy his classes at PRTS.  Hebrew and Greek, the two classes he was most worried about, are both going well.  I think he did have one humbling Greek quiz, but otherwise has been fine.  The next few weeks, or actually until Christmas break, he will be very busy with papers and projects.

What have I been doing?  Other than keeping up with home school, household duties, everyone's schedule, meal planning, and BSF stuff, not too much.  I am still meeting with the PRTS professor's wives and one other seminary wife to organize the Ministry Wives Institute.  We met again this week to finalize next semester and to try to pencil out a three year plan.  I think the long-term plan is to possibly have an accredited certificate program for seminary wives.   I am also helping out with the girls at Boys and Girls club every other Wednesday night at the FRC.  They asked me to lead the Girls Club since they didn't have a leader this year, but with my BSF responsibilities, I thought I'd better not over commit.   They were happy to take me on as an extra "helper", though.

Girls Club project

Boys Club project--sword making!

One of my favorite parts of the day is when Russ and I go for our daily walk.  We usually go right before or after supper.  When the weather has been bad we either skip a day or head to the YMCA for a quick run.  We have also been known to leave Caleb in charge and duck out for Applebees half price appetizers after 9:00.   That is about as good as a date night gets around here!

Nicolas has been back whittling the last few days.  He found a book on whittling at Amazon that he wants pretty bad.  He has been able to "Look Inside" the book on the Amazon site and get a few ideas.   He started with making knives and then moved to "decorating" the handles.  He carved a bear head on the end of the knife pictured below.  For the first attempt at carving an animal, I don't think he did too bad.  It is hard to see on the picture because of the different colors of the wood grain.

Philip and Pam (Russ' brother) came up last night for a weekend visit.  They left earlier this morning to head to Detroit to the Henry Ford Museum.  They will be back later tonight for supper and will worship with us tomorrow.  After they spend a relaxing Lord's Day with us, I think they plan to head back to Chicago sometime late tomorrow afternoon.   The cousins are having fun playing, but I know a few late nights and early mornings (no one sleeps well with a whole weekend sleepover:) will make for a slow start Monday morning!