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: