Sunday, April 22, 2012

Homeschool Weeks 29-31

As I was going back to see what we had all covered in school the last two weeks, I realized I had forgotten about the lone week before spring break.   Thus the three week update rather than the two.

Our Bible lessons covered Hezekiah, Josiah, Jeremiah, the fall of Judah, Daniel and the King's food, Nebuchadnezzar, the fiery furnace, the handwriting on the wall, Daniel in the lion's den, and Cyrus King of Persia.  In our ancient history lessons we looked at the corresponding decline of Assyria, the rise of the Babylonian Empire, and then the fall of Babylon and the rise of the Persian Empire.  When  reading about the Babylonian Empire we studied the Hanging Gardens (one of the seven ancient wonders of the world) and the Ishtar Gate.  Once again the kids (and I!) enjoyed seeing how the rise and fall of various empires fit into the Biblical account of the history of Israel, including God's use of Cyrus for his own purposes (Isaiah 45).    As always, we completed map work as we studied each of the empires to orient ourselves as to where all these events were taking place.

We are working on memorizing Isaiah 40:21-31.  So far, we have Isaiah 40:21-28 down pretty well.   The most recent verses are always a little shaky.  We always use our memory work as handwriting practice so that helps reinforce the verse along with recitation.

Last week we started a new read-aloud--Aesop's Fables for Children.   Aesop was a Greek slave who died in 565 BC.   This seems to tie in well with our study of ancient Greece. The book has over one hundred fables (none of them very lengthy) and so we are working through several of them a day.  The kids will each choose a favorite and illustrate the fable on a poster along with the moral or teaching of the fable.

We also started a new science book called Archimedes and the Door of Science.   Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer who got so involved in what he was doing he had to have his servants remind him to eat and bathe!  I don't have any specific lessons or experiments to go along with our readings at this time, so we just have been reading slowly and discussing what Archimedes studied, invented, learned, etc. 

Very little time has been spent on art and our Handel study in music.  Track practice and meets have taken up the time we usually spend on those so we do have some catch up to do.  Those stinkin' sports--always interfering with the fine arts.  Good thing we have kept up with violin, cello, and piano!

Seth, as mentioned on a previous post, has completed his curriculum from My Father's World.  The week before spring break we went a little further with phonics (bossy "e", bossy "r", two vowels go walking, blends, etc) and introduced basic addition math facts.    The last two weeks, and hopefully, for the rest of the school year, we are taking a book (one that he can read) and with helps, worksheets and/or lapbooks, from are using it as launching pad to study various topics in language arts, science, math, Bible etc.   I am trying to choose books that cover topics we have not really covered yet this year.  The first book Seth did was A Fish Out of Water and one of the things we studied was nutrition and the basic food groups.  Eating right is not only important for fish like Otto, but also for us.  The boy in the story called 911, so we talked about the role of community helpers and discussed how to call 911 including having Seth learn our address and phone number.  For math we learned a little more about using tally marks and how many are in a dozen.   I think this format must be fairly similar to the Five in a Row curriculum.  This past week I forgot to put a book on hold at the library so we just did a kindergarten dinosaur unit that I found on the internet which ended up being too easy for him so we used quite a bit of our "school time" working on reading.   I am better prepared for the next three weeks, though!

Here are a few other updates of the past few weeks:

Track:  We had a meet last Saturday in Hudsonville and another last night in Newaygo.   A good work ethic, consistent attendance at practice, and listening and following through with instruction are all issues we continue to battle with the athletes.    Athletes who are working hard, attending practices, and listening to instruction continue to improve and have new personal records so that is encouraging. 

Caleb update:  Doesn't have too much going on other than school and track.  He has been running the 4 x 800, 800m, and 1600m in various meets.  His 800m time continues to improve which gives him confidence in his coach's workouts.    Check out what he ran at the meet last night:

Yep, the 300m hurdles.  As you can see, the form needs a little work:)
He is planning to audition for the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony in May so is working on a solo piece as well as all the scales.  He has State Orchestra Festival coming up this week with the NorthPointe HS Orchestra.

Nicolas update:  Nicolas continues with soccer practice on Tuesday nights and games on Saturdays.  Last Saturday he earned a Division I rating for his cello solo at the Middle School Solo/Ensemble Festival.  He was pretty excited about that.  This coming Tuesday night he has his Homeschool Orchestra concert and then he is done with that for the year.  We will be free on Wednesday mornings!  Saturday morning he participated in the FRC Boys and Girls Club Derby Car Races.  He put his Whittlin' Jack knife to good use making his derby car and was even pretty successful!  When he is not doing school work or any of the above he is bugging the rest of us to play Rook.

First in age division and second fastest overall!

Anna, Lydia, and Seth update:  They are doing a great job as assistant track coaches and have been  troopers at less than stellar conditions at track practice and meets.   Anna and Lydia are also working on teaching Seth how to play Wizard (card game with trump, bidding, etc) which has been very interesting. 

Russell update:  Russ took his last Greek test of the school year this week.  He also continues to pick away at his counseling manual, will begin writing a few sermons (for two different classes), and will finish up reading the next few weeks.

I enjoyed a night of fellowship with the seminary wives at Rebecca VanDoodewaard's home last Tuesday.   I was able to visit with some women that I really had not talked with before including two women from South Korea.    This week Tuesday evening the seminary wives met for the last MWI meeting of the school year.   Dr. Bilkes gave a talk on Charles and Susannah Spurgeon and the lessons we can learn from their ministry marriage.  

All of us enjoyed an evening with the Michigan Bleeker's last Friday night.   They celebrated March and April birthdays which included Nicolas.  They gave him the first set of Jonathan Park audio CDs which we have all enjoyed in the van as we travel to track meets, homeschool building, etc.   Caleb is not with us most of the time when we listen to them, so we will have to listen to them again when we travel to Iowa this summer.   We also managed to sneak in a trip to the Grand Rapids Public Museum.  This would be a great field trip for all those Marsville 5th graders!

Viewing the surface of Mars as if you were on a glider (like it says:)

An experiment on how your face and body change before and after a trip to outer space.

I don't know, I don't see too much difference; she looks cute in both

Caleb and Nicolas experiencing weightlessness

Practicing performing tasks while rotating

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another Trip to Wildlife Rehab

We made another trip to a wildlife rehab center in Grand Rapids this week.  What did we take this time, you ask?  The little neighbor boy across the street showed us a baby squirrel at the base of a tree that had evidently fallen out of it's nest.  He (the kids determined it was a boy) was still alive, but we knew he wouldn't be for long if he stayed there since his little body was already getting cold.  Nicolas asked if he could take the squirrel in and try to save it.  Not wanting to appear heartless I agreed, but warned him that the little guy would probably die.   We needed to leave for a track meet so just quickly put him in a box with a old towel.  When we arrived home from the track meet, the little squirrel was still very, very cold (but alive!) so we went on the internet and found some information on how to care for a baby squirrel.  We put him on a heating pad with a bottle of warm water which kept him nice and toasty.  Then we made our own Pedialyte solution and gave a him few drops through a 1cc syringe.  After getting up for the little guy twice during the night to turn the heating pad back on (automatic shut off) and to hydrate him, I vowed that if he survived the night I would take him to the wildlife rehab facility.  I went on the internet the next morning to see if there was a closer one than the one to which we took the paralyzed rabbit (20 miles away) and did find another one only three miles from our home.  I called a little before eight the next morning (did I mention I slept terribly and when I did sleep I dreamed of the baby squirrel?) and the rehab lady told to me to come right over.  She commented on how little he was as she picked him up and held him close to her chest.  He was just squeaking away.  She told Seth who went with me that she was going to put him on the heating pad and then since she was already heating up some formula for the other little ones she would try to feed him right away.    I am not sure the little guy will make it, but at least we gave him a fighting chance by taking him to the rehab center.  Nicolas is sure he wants to volunteer at this facility and I could totally picture him interacting with those animals.   I sometimes have to sit back and think, "did I really just take a baby squirrel to a wildlife rehab facility?"  But he was pretty cute and helpless...

I actually forgot to take a picture of him, but found these on the internet that look pretty much like the one we found.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Back to the Routine

Spring break is officially over as we started up home school classes, piano lessons, and BSF yesterday.  Although Caleb had track practice yesterday (tough coach!) classes at NP didn't officially start until today.  Russ also went back to class today.

Spring break was not what I expected, but then God's plans are not always our plans.  Renee and Andy were here from Saturday through Tuesday afternoon.  Nicolas still had cello lessons and soccer practice that afternoon/evening, but we were able to clean up the house and relax and watch Puss in Boots as a family.   On Wednesday after homeschool orchestra, we packed a picnic lunch for 9 kids and met Juliet (seminary wife) with the Clayton's five children at Riverside Park.   Stacy Clayton (another seminary wife) had just delivered child #6 on the Saturday evening before and Juliet was looking for a little help with entertaining the kids.  Since Sarah Woollin was planning on coming over to our house with her three children later that afternoon, I told Juliet just to drop the Clayton five off as well so that she could relax and get a few things done at her own home.   Things were crazy here for awhile with a dozen kids running around, but the weather was great and the kids played outside most of the time.  Thursday afternoon, the four Van Brugge children came over for a couple hours so Dave and Wendy could do some birthday shopping for one of the kids.    Let's just say that my kids did not lack for playmates over spring break!  I think Nicolas was actually going through book withdrawal.  

On Friday we prepared and celebrated a Christian Passover as part of our home school curriculum.  One of the children's leaders at BSF has been to many ceremonies for Messianic Jews, but has never participated in a Passover ceremony.  She gave me quite a bit of information including a Passover cookbook and also provided us with the Passover Seder plate and Elijah cup.    I invited her to join us for the Passover ceremony Friday night.  We missed Caleb, but is was nice Sharon was there to fill out the table.   Because of our Passover celebration we did miss the Good Friday service at the FRC so we watched Ray Vander Laan's Easter video with the kids on Saturday night instead.  We also finished up our Resurrection Eggs (we have done these for years and the kids never tire of them!) and Passion Hymns for kids (the kids love singing these every year, too) over the weekend.   

Cloth with three pockets for the Matzos

Seder plate

Elijah cup

So spring break wasn't exactly the relaxing/catch up on things type of week that I pictured, but having all those kids over was fun and we enjoyed helping out other seminary families.   I did manage to wash all the downstairs windows, try my hand at home-made granola, and clean up my garden boxes to plant early spring seeds like spinach, lettuce, turnips, beets, radishes, and other greens.   I made my own version of "solar" gardening by placing a black plastic bag over the garden to warm up the soil a few days before planting.    I am not sure if my kids will eat/enjoy all that we have planted, but since Renee shared these seeds with, I thought I could plant and always share with other seminary families at the food pantry.  Caleb is afraid I am turning into a "all-natural", "organic", homeschool geek. 

Russ managed to finish his Ecclesiology paper on paedocommunion (from his three week class in January) and also write up a portion of his counseling manual that he needs to present this week (I think?).     He also did quite a bit of yard work since the weather was so nice.  Russ collected all that rusty old metal from behind the shed and in the back landscaping and had our neighbor, Tim, haul it away for us.  Tim who lives a little ways up our block with his sister and his one-eyed dog has some sort of garbage removal business.  Sunday afternoon when we were out for a walk he yelled out at us that he got "$20 bucks!" for all the old metal.   Russ was just grateful he didn't have to haul it in the back of one of the vans!

Now I am just sitting here contemplating whether I really want to go to track practice or not since it is only 37  degrees and snow pellets/ice/snow keep falling.   Hard to believe we had 80+ degrees only a few weeks ago!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

West Virginia

Hi, this is Caleb.  Mom asked me to blog about my mission trip to West Virginia with the FRC youth group.

We left early last week Saturday morning and arrived at the home we lived in for a week in Northfork, West Virginia at 6:00pm.  
We stayed in this big white house.

The ministry we worked under was called Mustard Seeds and Mountains and we helped fix up peoples houses in this community of poverty near the foothills of the Appalachians.  At our orientation session on Saturday night we learned some of these facts about the county we worked in including Northfork:

--At one point it was one of the richest counties in the U.S., but is now one of the poorest.
--It once had a population of 150,000, but now has 24,000.  This is largely due to the loss of jobs with change over from man power to machine power in the mining industry.
--49% of children do not live with their biological parents
--Most people are on welfare and some may be 5th generation welfare recipients.  Recently, when a child was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up he responded, "I want to get a check like my Grandma."
--Many years ago Northfork was thriving community with state basketball champions many years in a row.  Now they don't even have their own school. 
--Currently in the town of Northfork the biggest employers are the Dollar Store and the Pharmacy.

The town of Northfork

The town's playground.

The house we stayed in and some other houses.

Overlooking the town of Northfork.

On Sunday, we attended Trinity Presbyterian church in Tazewell, Virginia.  The church invited us to their fellowship meal following the service and provided lots of good food. 

We worked Monday through Thursday at two different job sites.  Most of the work was painting with a few other odd jobs like replacing siding and flooring.    I worked in the house of a 46 year old lady named Renee.  She was the only one currently living in the house and had lived there since she was 12 years old.  We painted the bedrooms of her home which were in need of a new coat of paint.   Later in the week she treated us by taking us out to eat at the local cafe. 

On Friday, we visited Organ Cave in Greenbrier Valley in WV.  We sang hymns and praise songs while in the cave and taped ourselves like they recommended because of the awesome acoustics.   After stopping to eat supper we drove through the night to return home early this morning (Saturday). 

We played games every night together.

I had a great time on the trip and learned quite a bit about poverty and our view toward those that are poor.   We had teaching/orientation sessions every morning and evening with Mr. Wallace that included activities to help us understand poverty and orientate ourselves to the community we were working in.  We also took turns leading devotions at meals.   It was good to get to know the other members of the youth group better and to be challenged in ways that I can grow spiritually.   I am glad to be back home, though!

A few pictures of the amazing landscape.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Stumbling Block for Russ

Russ has encountered a stumbling block in the neighborhood.  After seeing the photo below you will understand Russ' issue.  How could you not covet the rims of the Astro minivan parked across the street?  As soon as we have extra money he has great ideas for his Honda.   Marlon, Russ also sees a bright future for your Dodge Caravan.  The only question that remains is whether Orange City is ready for this? 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break and Nicolas' Birthday

Spring break is something we have never really encountered in the school systems in NW Iowa (other than college).  Sure, we had a few days around Easter, but the spring break here is a serious week.  Since everyone takes spring break at the same time, many families travel, high school music groups take trips, and churches plan mission projects.   Caleb is currently spending his spring break with the FRC youth group in West Virginia doing mission work with an organization called Mustard Seeds and Mountains.    They have little to no cell reception, but Caleb was able to call us on his way to church on Sunday to tell us that the group arrived safely and that he was having a great time.  They will be assisting two families this week by painting/repairing their homes.   I am anxious to hear all about the trip and hoping he takes lots of pictures.

We are enjoying having Renee and Andy here for the first weekend of our break.   They arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday and plan to go home sometime today.   Most of their family joined us Sunday afternoon at the nursing home to hear Russ' Palm Sunday message.  Since Caleb was gone, I picked up the violin to play a duet with Nicolas.  It went okay, but I still feel more comfortable accompanying the boys on the piano!  Yesterday we enjoyed beautiful weather and went to Riverside Park to play on the playground, walk/run, and...launch rockets!  We launched three, but lost two.  One landed in the river and the other is stuck high in a tree in the middle of the frisbee golf course.   After supper we set up the fire pit and had our first smores of the season.  In between those highlights we have had many good conversations and lots of games of Wizard, Rook, Settlers of Catan, and a few Crack the Case mysteries.  This morning we have had several thunderstorms roll through so are keeping cozy with games and videos.

Setting up the rockets


Where will it land this time?

Although it is nice to take a break from track this week, we realize it is difficult to coach a spring sport when the athletes are off for an entire week.  We told the kids they need to run over break, but we wonder how much training will actually occur this week.   Last Tuesday night we had our first outdoor meet, and we have another right away after spring break.  

My favorite runner in the 4X800 at the meet last Tuesday

We officially have two teenagers in the house since Nicolas turned 13 last Thursday.   With the nice weather he has been enjoying all his birthday gifts, especially his new whittling knife from Grandpa and Grandma B.   We all enjoyed his request for triple berry pie for his birthday dessert!