Thursday, December 20, 2012

End of the Semester Post and Driver's Ed

Russ finished up the 1st semester of his third year last Saturday.  Yes, that should have been Friday, but with all the papers, assignments, reading, and exams that he had to complete, believe me, getting it all done by Saturday was still quite a feat.  I think he would agree that this was a very difficult semester, and the next semester also looks to be quite busy.  He opted out of practice preaching next semester so that will give him an additional two hours of work time two days a week.  This will also be helpful when track season starts.  He will not be taking  any classes during the January term, but will hopefully get a head start on reading and do some work for Dr. Murray.  He also has some preaching lined up in January so he will still be pretty busy.  I think he also agreed to help Northpointe during their J-term week right after Christmas break.  During that week kids can take a week of fun classes.  Caleb is signed up for a photography class and a class entitled "Math in Numb3rs (TV show)" and a solo/ensemble class to help prep for solo/ensemble which is one of the first weekends in February.  Anyway, they ask Juniors to take an ACT prep class and Russ agreed to do the math portion of that. 

The big news here is that Caleb finally got his driving permit!  Wading through the graded driving program in Michigan has been quite an experience, not to mention extremely expensive.  There is no state funding for driver's ed programs so everyone takes it through a private driving school.  Caleb went through Main Street Driving and really appreciated his instructor.  I went on a parent drive this afternoon with Caleb and his instructor and was impressed with his interaction with Caleb (nothing like "Bear":)  Here is just a taste of the complicated system that is set up in Michigan (We were wishing for the simplicity of Iowa):

     *Begin driver's ed classes when you are at least 14 and 9 months.

     *Segment 1 involves at least 3 weeks of class meeting 4 days a week for 2 hours each time + 6 additional hours of driving.

     *Complete above class requirements including a written test and you are able to get your permit.

     *Now you are able to begin logging driving hours.  You need 30 hours of driving time and it must 
       be at least 90 days after segment 1 before you can take segment 2 of the driver's training class.

*Complete segment 2 of driver's ed class

     *Before you can get your license, 6 months need to have passed from when you received your permit and a total of 50 driving hours logged (20 additional from the 30 needed to take segment 2)--at least 10 of those need to be nighttime hours. You also need to take a driving test from another third party evaluator.
     *Once you turn 16 you can get your restricted drivers license.  Not until you turn 17 are you able to get your full license. 
Confused yet?  So were we, but I think we finally have a handle on how it works.  Caleb is ready to start logging all those hours!

We are planning to leave for Iowa tomorrow morning if the weather permits.  I am not sure Caleb will be doing any driving on this trip, but we can have him drive/log some hours once we are in Iowa.  Pray for safe travel!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mary Winslow and MWI Update

Michelle Bilkes, wife of professor Dr. Jerry Bilkes, gave the last talk for us this semester.  Our theme this semester focused more on the seminary wife and her personal development--her devotional life, her character (modesty in dress, actions, etc), and contentment.  We try to have one talk of the semester focus on a historical figure that best illustrates the topic of the semester.  Michelle chose Mary Winslow, mother of pastor Octavius Winslow, as the historical figure this semester because of the wonderful devotional quality of her letters.   What a blessed evening we had, first learning about her life and background and then breaking up into groups to read her letters.   

Last Friday night we closed the semester with a social gathering at the home of Dr. Michael and Sandra Barrett, the new academic dean.  Interestingly, Dr Barrett was in Iowa deer hunting with a friend from Greenville, SC.   We all brought goodies to share and Mrs. Barrett provided beverages and her beautiful home.   I enjoyed visiting with some women that although I knew who they were had really never had a conversation with.  The one I appreciated the most was with Roberta whose husband Breno will be done at the end of this semester.  They will be returning to Brazil in just a few short days. (Russ helped them pack their container.  They were amazed that after they were done they had filled only 2/3 of it.  Not that amazing if you have ever watched Russ pack).  I am glad/thankful I had the opportunity to discuss their ministry in Brazil and how the Lord has led them on their seminary journey. 

Next semester our topics will all relate to the topic of "The Pastor's Wife and Family."  If you are looking for good books to read, the Puritan Seminary website has posted a list of books as recommended reading for seminary wives.  This is a list of books that would be appropriate for any Christian woman, not just soon-to-be pastor's wives.  Click here for the list. 

I will close this post with just a sampling from one of Mary Winslow's writings:

The Christian Journey

Life is a journey, often a short one, and always uncertain.  But there is another journey.  The believer is traveling through a waste howling wilderness, to another and a glorious region, where ineffable delight and happiness await us.  The road is narrow, the entrance strait, so strait that thousands miss it and perish in the wilderness; but true believers, under the teaching and convoy of the Holy Ghost, find it and walk in it.  The King, in His infinite love and compassion, has made a hedge about them, separating and defending them from the many beasts of prey that lurk around them; and although they hear their howlings and behold their threatenings, they are safe from their power.  But their strongest foe is within themselves--a heart deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.  From this there is no escape but by constant watchfulness and earnest cries to their best Friend and Guide for protection.  And were it not for this faithful Guide, how often, discouraged by reason of the way, would they turn back!  But He watches over them by night and by day, strengthens them when weak, upholds them when falling, encourages them when cast down, defends them when attacked, provides for them when in need, leads them by living streams, and causes them to lie down in pleasant pastures and on sunny banks.  And as they advance they obtain brighter views of the good land they are nearing, and they long to see the King in His beauty, and the land that is yet very far off, and to meet those that have already arrived on the happy shore."

If you are interested in more wonderful devotional nuggets, but do not have a book with her writings, I recommend a website "The Octavius Winslow Archive".  You can access it by clicking here.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Homeschool Weeks 11-14

At thirteen weeks we came to the end of our study of the Roman Empire.  We have so enjoyed our study of the Roman way of life,  the different emperors, and just learning what the world was like at the time of Jesus and the early Church.   These last few weeks he have learned more about the Roman Colosseum, gladiators, and chariot races.  This went along well with our study of the early church martyrs and the emperor Nero.    When we read/studied about Constantine we also learned about the Council of Nicaea that was held to combat the spread of Arianism.  We have been reading about the early church and early church fathers in both Trial and Triumph and Peril and Peace.   This past week (week 14) we studied the Byzantine Empire, Emperor Justinian, and the Hagia Sophia.  We learned more about mosaics and the art during this time period and looked at lots of neat pictures and even a video on the Hagia Sophia today in Istanbul, Turkey.  It is amazing what has survived for hundreds of years!  Nicolas and I also watched a couple of old classics--The Robe and Spartacus.  He had already both watched and read Ben-Hur so we didn't watch that movie this time. 

We finished our Roman Empire unit with a Roman feast last week Friday night.  We had lots of fresh vegetables and dried fruits (figs, raisins, plums).  I even cooked an artichoke for the first time, made a yummy dipping sauce, and then learned how to eat it!    I had thought we would cook some chickens and pretend they were peacocks by making peacock feathers to decorate.  But then I made the chicken on Wednesday night instead when Greg and Sydney joined us for supper.  Since Romans didn't have potatoes, that worked out better anyway because who wants chicken without mashed potatoes and awesome chicken gravy!  Nicolas' idea was to make little meatballs for dormice instead.  The Romans often kept dormice in jars to feed them and fatten them up, then ate them as a delicacy.  Yum?  The meatballs were good though...

We ate in the triclinium the area in the home where most Romans dined

The girls had finished their Roman lapbooks and set them out for Dad and Caleb to look at.

The girls completed their Homer Price book unit and we celebrated by making our own homemade raised doughnuts.   We will start a new book unit in January. 

These turned out so well we made another batch this week!

The girls are continuing with their study of the human body in science.  We learned about teeth, nutrition, the digestive system and the respiratory system.   The girls designed a nutrition poster about the six major nutrients, their function, and what foods they are found in. 

We finished our memory work on Romans 12: 1-6a and are now working on 1 Cor 13.   We are still reading Twice Freed as our read aloud and are several chapters behind.  We will be able to catch up as no read aloud is scheduled the next two weeks.  We continue to listen to the music of Mozart in the fine arts portion of our curriculum.

Seth continues his study of American history by learning about each of the states.   Usually he learns about four states a week and so far we have covered Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, and North Carolina.  We try to read a picture book that takes place in the state we are learning about and occasionally have a special project that pertains to the state.  For example, we made a Liberty Bell and read about Mr. Hershey with Pennsylvania, we made peach cobbler with Georgia, and studied the Statue of Liberty with New York.  Since Seth learns the state bird (and flower) with each state he did a mini-unit on birds, including making edible bird nests and a bird feeder.   

(Shredded wheat for grass, chow mein for twigs, and melted chocolate/peanut butter for mud) I set the bird nests outside on top of the grill to harden because I didn't have room in the fridge.  I thought I pushed the grill away from the edge of the porch far enough so the squirrels couldn't get them, but I was mistaken.  I knew I made six and took only five back in the house.  We have one fat squirrel running around our yard...

Seth spent another week on Jesus as Living Water and then another couple weeks learning about Jesus as the Way.    Seth's new read aloud is Farmer Boy.  I read this to the older boys many years ago, but Seth seems to enjoy it more than they did (maybe they were too young?)

We will work hard for two more weeks and then we all look forward to a break!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Lost His First Tooth!

Seth's tooth had only been loose for a few days before it fell out.  I wasn't that surprised he had a loose tooth because he had been complaining for awhile that his bottom front tooth hurt when he bit into apples, etc.   I will post the story of how he lost the tooth, not because I think it is "oh, such a cute story".   On the contrary, it is a story that does nothing for my parental pride.  But this is just how it is at the Herman house and someday maybe we will laugh about it so I will post it for all posterity.

How Seth Lost His First Tooth

On Wednesday afternoon I was in a hurry to get the kids in the van so Nicolas would arrive at Homeschool Orchestra on time.  I sent them out the door while I finished gathering my purse, keys, coffee thermos, etc.  While I was locking the door I heard wailing coming from the garage at the same time Lydia appeared at the bottom of the steps.  "It is not going well in the van," she commented.  "Seth lost his tooth in the van.  I think Anna knocked it out and now he can't find it." So I headed into the garage thinking, "Seriously, my ten year old just knocked out the tooth of my six year old?" and I felt myself getting quite irritated/angry.   Of course, it was impossible to see anything in the van, so I told the kids to get in the van so I could back it out of the garage so we could see better.   Through all this, I questioned Anna.  "Why did you hit him?"  "Where in the van did this happen so we know where to look?"  Anna kept crying saying, "I didn't hit him! I didn't hit him!"  Lydia eventually found the tooth, we put it a safe place, found our places in the van, and took off down the road.  Everyone had calmed down by this time and we heard Anna quietly say from the back, "I think I know how Seth lost his tooth.  I think it came out when he bit my leg."  

Me:  "Seth, you bit her?"  
Seth:  "Yeah, and I think that is when I lost my tooth.  I think it was the jeans...Dad did tell me it will probably come out when I bit into something."  
Me:  "Right, but I don't think he intended for it to be your sister!"  

The End. 

Thanksgiving 2012

I thought I would post a few pictures of our trip to Dayton Oaks Bible Camp near Fort Dodge, IA over Thanksgiving.  I don't think I have pictures of everybody, but it has to be close!   Memories of this family time include losing electricity in the main building an hour or so before we were to eat our Thanksgiving meal late Friday afternoon.   The turkey was done, but everything else needed to finish cooking in the microwave in the retreat house.  It took 4-5 hours to have the problem fixed, including 1/2 hour with no electricity anywhere.  Attempting to entertain all those kids without light was quite interesting.    The bonus of the trip was seeing Mom and Dad and Michael who drove down for the day on Saturday as well as Bryan and Becca and family who also spent the majority of the day on Saturday with us.   I am looking forward to Christmas break when I can see the rest of the Bleeker clan.

Alethea (Nathan's youngest)

Karissa (Renee), Becca (Nathan), and Kristina (Renee)

Lydia, Abigail (Philip), Anna, Katherine (Renee)

The game table (Nathan on the left, Russ, Josiah (Philip's oldest), Philip, Keith and Nicolas)

Jonathan and Benjamin (Nathan) playing while Nathaniel (Philip) keeps score

Johanna (Nathan), Katherine (Renee) and Lydia.  Johanna is only a few days older than Lydia.

Nicolas and Josiah (Philip) and Kristina (Renee) and Sara (Keith)

Russ and I taking turns holding baby Austin.  Nathan and Tisha are currently guardians for this little guy.

Making and enjoying breakfast.  Russ, Matthias (Philip), Skylar (Mara's fiancee), Sara (Keith) and Keith.  And of course that is my hungry Seth enjoying pancakes:)

Making lots of paper bead bracelets

Seth with Sadie.  Keith and Beth are permanent guardians of Sadie and hope to officially adopt her when she is older. 

Matthias and Kaylan (Philip).  Kaylan has now been officially adopted by Philip and Pam.  Bradley and Claire--Carol's son Vey's children.
Kind of blurry, but this is Mara and Keanu, both of Keith and Beth.

Leah (Keith), Karl (Renee) and my goofy Anna

Friday, November 16, 2012

Boys and Girls Club and Other Stuff

I volunteered to assist with Boys and Girls Club (B&G Club) again this school year at the church.  The first year we were here, we were kind of hit and miss--Nicolas enjoyed it more than Anna, and Lydia and Seth were too young to attend.  Last year I volunteered with the girls and enjoyed getting to know some of the kids in the church better (I am terrible at remembering names!) as well as the other moms that helped out.   The night is supposed to involve a Bible lesson and then some sort of craft, but last year I noticed that the Bible lesson was really not that organized.    This year Jen took over the Girls Club and since she fondly recalls the days when the lessons and crafts were much more organized and not so scattered she took it upon herself to put a little more work into having a theme for each night and a craft to go along with it--contentment, stewardship, etc.  The lessons for the girls have been great--even including homework like memorizing Scripture and looking up or finding Scripture passages on their own that relate to a specific topic that they are studying.  The crafts, also, have been really pretty neat.  They made aprons out of t-shirts one night, and this week they made paper bead bracelets that are really cool.   

Another difference in the Club this year is that a couple in the church volunteered to lead kids in grades K-1.   In the past you were able to first attend B&G Club in 2nd grade.  Seth is elated that he has another outing to socialize.  He reminds me so much of Caleb that way. 
Seth made a chalkboard on club night.  It offered a fun, new twist to his spelling test!

Once a month the FRC has a fellowship meal followed by a speaker on some sort of topic on the same night as B&G Club.  The congregation is broken down into districts and each district is responsible for a portion of the meal--dessert, main, side--and the consistory members that oversee a certain district take turns acting as hosts and hostesses for the night.  People come to eat around 5:45, then following a quick clean up everyone scatters--the boys and girls to B&G Club, and the adults up to the sanctuary to listen to the speaker.  Last month someone spoke about the upcoming election and answered questions about the different people running for office, etc.   This month which was this past Wednesday night Russ spoke on "Lessons from Paul on True Thanksgiving."  I wasn't able to hear it since I was helping out with the Girls Club, but our older boys said he did a great job.  I enjoyed watching the older kids (Nicolas and Caleb's age) who either helped with B&G Club or went to the talk enjoying a time of fellowship afterwards.   I sometimes think that youth group should meet on Wednesday nights instead of Sunday afternoons because after youth group they go right into the church service with little time to fellowship. 

I had forgotten to mention on the last post that last Friday night we were able to tour the church that Russ was working on when it started on fire.  That all happened the summer after our first year here.   Bruce Kuiper invited all PRTS students and families to a short family worship seminar led by him and Mike Pitsenberger.  Russ and I went to Hospers Reformed occasionally back when we were in college where he was pastor.  His wife Gina who is a few years older than us was also at NWC when we were there.  Bruce and Mike had gone through seminary together and remained close friends.  Mike is now at the Dyer, IN campus of Faith Church (RCA).  Anyway, after a short seminar they provided pizza and snacks and then a tour of the church and apartments that are connected to the church.  Bruce and his family have moved to live in two of the four-plex apartments.  They have been renovated beautifully.  I commend them for living in their place of ministry with their daughters as it is in quite a rough part of town.  Russ was able to show us the work he did in the short time he was there, where he was when the fire broke out and where the fire started.    All this is part of an organization called Grace Legacy Builders and you can read more about them on their website.  Here are a few pictures that I borrowed from their website showing the inside of the sanctuary, fellowship area in the basement, and the outside of the church.

Last night I went to a home school mom's coffee.  We were each to bring some of our favorite books that we have read to give others a fresh reading list.  I came home with about 5 or 6 book ideas that I look forward to reading when I have some "free" time.  It is always refreshing to discuss homeschooling cares and concerns with other moms and to realize that many of our home school "bumps" are pretty normal.  Russ took the kids swimming at the YMCA while I was gone.  This was their last visit as we have decided not to renew our membership.  We realized even the 1/2 price membership could no longer be part of our budget.  Although the kids are pretty disappointed they understand the situation.  I just felt so bad for Lydia.  The last time we were at the pool she worked so hard and passed her swim test which gives her tons more freedom in the pool area.  She was trying so hard to be brave and not to cry, but she is bummed she won't be able to take advantage of her new freedom.

Since I have been feeling a little overwhelmed the last few weeks, I have decided to give the kids the week of Thanksgiving off from school.  Caleb is home on Wednesday anyway so I thought we could do some fun things.  The museum has a new exhibit on shipwrecks, Nicolas has always wanted to visit the woodworking store, and if the weather is nice we can hang out at the Blandford Nature Center.  Since I don't always get my Saturdays to recover when I work and I have the prep work every week for the BSF children's program, I just need a little break.   Hopefully, this will give me more energy to plan and pack for our Thanksgiving trip to Dayton Oaks in a week!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Under the Weather

This weekend at the Hermans can be marked with coughing, crud, and lots of Kleenex.  Caleb started us out early this week, Russ and Nicolas quickly followed and now Lydia and I are taking our turn.  

Caleb did not have school on Tuesday due to P/T conferences so he was able to get some much needed rest.  Thankfully, this weekend is a quiet weekend:  no work for me, no preaching, no youth group.  Quite different from a week ago!  Last weekend Renee and Andy and family were here from late Thursday night until Sunday morning.  I worked a long day on Saturday, and Russ preached at Sheldon Meadows on Sunday afternoon and led youth group right after that.   We are thankful to have a more restful weekend.

This past week I enjoyed a wonderful talk at the MWI meeting by Shona Murray on pastoral life, specifically dealing with expectations and the idea of living in a fish bowl.  The previous talk by Elina VanderZwaag on contentment was also quite good.  If interested you can read a summary of the talks on their blog right here.   

We enjoyed having Sydney and Greg VR for a meal Wednesday night.  They were not able to stay long due to school commitments so I hope they come again soon.  Sydney insisted she would be here again soon, but I think that was because she fell in love with our puppy!

Caleb's violin teacher ended up having two studio sessions on Saturday, so Caleb was able to go to the early one and still make it to St. Cecilia for the Sonata/Sonatina piano festival.   Russ usually takes Caleb to these events because I just get too nervous, and I think I put him on edge.  Both said that it went better this year than last year.  Last year was a first for Caleb's piano teacher as well, so I think there may have been a learning curve for both teacher and student.  I heard him practice the song many, many times at home (he needs to have it memorized) and he really did sound quite good.  They are not really given a grade, just judged with comments, etc.    Although he is glad to have that behind him, Russ said Caleb mentioned he would like to do it again next year.  

Today we are enjoying 60 degree weather.  Wish I felt better to go outside and enjoy it.  As it is, I would prefer to stay in my bed and nap!   

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Election Day

Even though we are disappointed with the results of the election, we did enjoy a fun election day.    Since Caleb is currently taking Government at NPC, he has had several (and I mean several) political discussions with his "government teacher" Dad.   Of course, the other kids pick up on all of that and begin to show an interest and want to know who you are going to vote for and why.  Even little Seth got into the spirit (well, maybe a little too much) when he wrote "No don't pic him" with a black permanent marker on our neighbor's Obama/Biden sign.  Thankfully, magic eraser did the trick and our neighbor never knew a thing.  

Anyway, I decided capitalize on their enthusiasm and make it a learning day...

Decorating election day cookies doesn't seem that educational unless you explain why the elephant and donkey cookie cutters are part of the day...which then leads to what Republican and Democrat mean.  Then throw in a little bit of explanation on the electoral college and suddenly you realize that decorating cookies can turn into a great teaching moment!

Here are some pictures of our day:

I found this fun ballot on this website.  We made our own voting booth for them to vote in.

Seth was so proud to have voted so I gave him my "I Voted" sticker
I also found this  map on the internet. They started it on Tuesday night and finished it Wednesday morning. 

Even though the election results were depressing, I hope we still instilled in our kids the importance of voting and what a privilege it is to live in a country where elections are peaceful and free from overt corruption.  Above all, I hope we reminded them (and ourselves) that:

This is my Father's world,
O let me ne'er forget
That though the wrong seem oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
The battle is not done;
Jesus who dies shall be satisfied, 
And earth and heav'n be one.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Homeschool Weeks 7-10

Since our new puppy doesn't understand the time change and I am now awake with an extremely playful dog at 4:30a.m., I thought I would take this time to give a home school update.

The older kids started week seven with the Pax Romana.  This time of peace began when Augustus Caesar was emperor of the Roman Empire.  We spent a couple of weeks on the early years of Jesus' life and putting what we know of the Bible stories (wise men, Herod, escape to Egypt, return from Egypt and Jesus in the temple) into historical context.  It was interesting to learn that from a historical perspective, Jesus' birth and life took place at the "perfect" time.  We touched briefly on the migration of the Germanic tribes, but will come back to this later as it becomes important in the fall of the Roman Empire.  We didn't spend much time on the life of Christ other than His temptation, death and resurrection.  (Pretty important parts!)   Later in the year when we go back and study the growth of other civilizations (China, India, Australia, Russia, etc) we will also go back and study the life of Christ in more detail.  Currently as we finish week ten, Tiberius is the Roman emperor and we continue to parallel history with what we know in Scripture so are working through Acts and the early church.
Resurrection cookies from when we studied the death and resurrection of Christ

Romans 12:1-6a is our new Scripture memory work.  We are learning a verse a week and have two verses down very well; the third is still a little shaky.

The girls continue to study the body systems in science.  We finished up the senses with units on the ear, the skin, and the eye.  Just this past week we studied the skeletal system and made our own skeleton model and learned about joints.  (I am totally in my element!)  We also began reading the book Galen and the Gateway of Medicine,  which is a good mix of science and history. 

The girls finished their Sarah Noble reading unit and chose to build their own log cabins from pretzels as a final project.  Since this book was also assigned as a read aloud in Seth's curriculum at the same time, he enjoyed making a little house, too.  The girls are now two weeks into a shortish unit on Homer Price.

We continue to work through two Latin roots a week, try to keep up with art lessons, and study our musical personality.  We finished Haydn and started learning about the life and music of Mozart this past week. 

Our last read aloud, The Bronze Bow, we finished a few weeks ago and have been reading Detectives in Togas.  This one was not scheduled but came highly recommended as a book to read when studying the Roman Empire.   It is a fun book and we are glad we decided to read it as a read aloud.  We are trying to finish it quickly so we can get started on our next scheduled read aloud, Twice Freed by Patricia St. John.

Seth continues to learn the different names of Jesus.  We did make bread for the "Bread of Life" using Aunt Alyda's great bread recipe.  Then we spent two weeks on "Jesus is the Rock" and have just started "Jesus is the Giver of Living Water".   The science curriculum always relates to the name of Jesus we are studying.   We learned how yeast worked with the "Bread of Life", what the earth is made of with "Jesus is the Rock," and now we are doing lots of experiments with water to learn more of its properties ("Living Water").

Our homemade bread

Napkin holder Seth made for the table

When Zoe started chewing on the letters at the base of the rock, Seth panicked and yelled, "Zoe is eating Jesus!  Zoe is eating Jesus!"  Since no one else saw what was going on we were so confused.  We had a good laugh when we figured out what Zoe was chewing on. 

In week seven Seth learned of the pioneers in Michigan and those that settled around the Great Lakes.    Week eight we started learning about colonial America and studied the life of Ben Franklin.    This week coincided with the week that Caleb had a few days off from school for midterm so we took a visit to the museum, hoping that the printing press shop was open in the Streets of Grand Rapids.   It was! The printing press was more fun to visit now that we studied someone who was a printer and had put together our own "Farmer's Almanac".  The next weeks we studied George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration of Independence, the French/Indian War and the Revolutionary War.   We just finished Sarah Witcher's Story as our read aloud.

I checked out the DVD set, Liberty Kids, for the kids to watch while Seth studied the time of the Revolution.  I think the 40 or so episodes originally aired on PBS Kids.  After two weeks (the time we can have/renew a DVD) the kids still had a couple discs to watch so I plan to put it on hold and check it out again.  At times I wondered if it really had any educational value.  Those thoughts were put to rest last night when I was reading a book about Paul Revere to Seth.  I just read past the name, "Dr. Joseph Warren" and Seth stopped to ask me what that doctor's name was again?  (I had not heard the name before.  John Locke, Nathan Hale, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson--yes. Dr. Joseph Warren--no).  Anyway, I repeated the name and he said, "Oh, yeah, that is sad.  He died in the Battle of Bunker Hill (we did not study this battle!).  He was in Liberty Kids."  I was impressed enough to look it up and yes, indeed, there is a famous painting by John Trumbull that immortalized Dr. Joseph Warren, The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775.  
Canoe from the Michigan settlers unit.  We glued actual birch bark from a neighbor's tree!

The museum had a new exhibit that highlighted the history of beer making in Michigan.  You just never know where you will learn more about Benjamin Franklin.

Only about 1/3 of the beer can collection on display at this exhibit
Our corn from the pilgrim unit is growing!  Unfortunately, we can't remember if the side that is growing more corn or the side that is growing faster had the raw fish pieces...

The signing of the Declaration of Independence

Just a quick update on Caleb to finish up the blog post.  As mentioned previously soccer season is now over and we are enjoying having him home more.    He had two orchestra concerts last week, the fall school concert and the Classical Orchestra concert with the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony.   Both sounded great.  This week he does not have school on Tuesday due to P/T conferences.  After we attend those we'll know better how school is going for him!   I've enjoyed listening to him discuss government/the election with Russ this fall and was reminded that in our "old life" Russ could have been his Government teacher.    This past week was pretty sad at Northpointe as one of Caleb's classmate's mom died (suicide).  He doesn't know the girl very well, but the dad was the basketball coach and guidance counselor at the school last year.  The positive is that we have had some good serious talks here at home about this situation.  Anyway, Caleb is gearing up this week for his Sonata/Sonatina piano festival on Saturday.  He also has a violin studio (student recital on Saturday) but they kind of overlap so we'll have to see how we are going to work that out.  

Oh, here are a few more pictures of our growing puppy: