Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Fun (or Caleb is Awesome)

Last week we had an entire week of lake effect snow.  What that means is that it snowed a little bit every day--sometimes light, sometimes heavy, an inch here, 2 inches there. Eventually, it added up to about 6 inches of snow on the ground.  Since it was quite cold all week, the snow didn't have a chance to melt, and therefore, also a great week for our neighbor to get his ice rink ready for skating.  As we looked at this week's forecast of rain and temperatures as high as 50 we knew that we had to get all our winter fun in on Saturday.  We started with skating and then went sledding with the Van Brugge family at Richmond Park. 

I think this is where the title "Caleb is awesome" comes from.  (I'm pretty sure I was hacked!)  Check out the dad and his son--they are mesmerized by his superb snowboarding abilities.

The kids were tuckered out Saturday night.  Lydia and Seth were even in bed by 7:30!  All those falls on the ice and climbs up the big sledding hill totally wiped them out.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fire Truce

This is truly the only time these two will tolerate sitting in such close proximity to each other.  Zoe so much wants to play and have a friend...and is dumb enough to keep trying.

Homeschool Weeks 15-18

The last four weeks of  home school are actually the two weeks before Christmas break and first two weeks after we returned from Iowa.  The last two weeks were marked by the flu so quite of bit of our homeschooling during that time was sketchy.  We did try, however, to keep up with the history even if math, English, and spelling had to slide.  Here is what we covered:

We studied the birth of Islam and how it spread.  During this time we explored the main teachings of the Koran and the five pillars.  After that we began our study of the Middle Ages.  This is such a fun to time to study--castles, knights, King Arthur, monks/monasteries, etc.  We started our study of the Middle Ages in Gaul (France) with Clovis, Charles "the Hammer" Martel, and the greatest king of the Franks--Charlemagne.  We enjoyed a fun YouTube video that set Charlemagne's life to song/video.  After that we stepped back in time several years so we could study the history of Britain beginning with the Celtic tribes.  While we studied the Saxon-Angles invasion into Britain, dividing it into seven kingdoms, we listened to part of the story of Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon warrior.   During this time we also read books about King Arthur and his Round Table and watched the Disney version, The Sword in the Stone.    We learned about the missionary Augustine (different than The City of God Augustine) who brought Christianity to Britain. We spent a week learning about monasteries and monks and the importance of their writings during these Dark Ages.  We tried our hand at making our own illuminated manuscripts which was tied into the God and the History of Art book.  

Because herbs and gardens were so important in the monasteries we bought seeds and will begin growing our own herb garden.  

Last week we studied the Vikings, beginning in Scandinavia and then covering their explorations into Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland (Eric the Red and Leif Ericsson).  We learned about the Norse god, Thor, made a Viking longboat, and each made a Runestone. 

Viking Runestone sugar cookies--we baked and ate!  The kids all wrote their names, I think.  The first is Lydia's who wrote "Brie" and then "Nicolas Herman" and "Anna"
 Through all these topics we wrote up notebook pages to summarize what we learned or the girls added books to their Middle Ages lapbook.  The people that we studied in more detail during this time were Boniface, Charlemagne, Patrick (missionary to Ireland) and Pope Gregory I.  We read about these men in the books Trials and Triumph and Monks and Mystics.  Chess was "invented" sometime during the Middle Ages so we got out the chess sets and reviewed how to play using the Usborne book on chess to help us.

In Bible we continue to study the life and ministry of Christ using Victor's Journey Through the Bible as a resource for understanding the Bible lands and culture.   We are memorizing 1 Cor 13 and are trying hard to apply it!  It has been a good reminder on how much we need God to help us.

The girls continued their study of the human body with units on the circulatory, urinary, and muscular systems.

We also continue to listen to works of Mozart focusing on his operas:  The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, and Don Giovanni.  We would read a synopsis of the story of the opera and then listen to some of the music.

Our read aloud is now The Door in the Wall which takes place during the Middle Ages.  Lydia began a new book unit using the book The Minstrel in the Tower and Anna started a new unit using the book The Bridge.

Seth continued his study of the United States adding the states of Rhode Island, Vermont, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio.    When studying Rhode Island we read a book about the founding of Providence, RI and how it got it's name; for Vermont we enjoyed maple syrup on pancakes; for Kentucky we learned about Daniel Boone and the Wilderness Road.  The week we studied Tennessee we also learned about Eli Whitney and the cotton gin.  We made our own cotton and glued construction paper "seeds" in the cotton and then spent time later in the week picking them out.  This helped us appreciate the invention of the cotton gin!  The week we studied Ohio we read about pioneers who traveled West via the Ohio River and also read books about Johnny Appleseed and ate apples.  We also made our own New England Primer using the paper that came with our curriculum.  
We finished Farmer Boy and are now reading On the Banks of Plum Creek for a read aloud.  

 In science we studied different properties of air related to weather.   The next week began a study of living things discussing the days of Creation and what things God created were living vs non-living.  Since the girls had made a jello cell model (and Seth helped) earlier in the year we just talked about the parts of a cell and looked at pictures.  The next week we specifically looked at the animal kingdom and played an animal memory game, matching the animal with the group it belonged to:  mammal, amphibian, reptile, bird, fish.  

In Bible Seth continued learning names of Jesus.  He learned "Immanuel" which means "God with us" and "Jesus is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world."  

Hand print lamb
We are looking forward to learning more about knights and castles in the coming weeks.  We are even going to build our own castle.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

"And in the blue corner..."

"...Anna, Nicolas, Lydia, Seth, and Mom."  Praying that Russ and Caleb don't enter the ring because this flu virus does indeed pack a punch.

Cartoon in the Grand Rapids Press this week.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Back to Routine...Kind of

Although much of the week was back to routine (BSF, homeschooling, Boys and Girls Club, work at Spectrum Health, piano/violin/cello lessons, grocery shopping, library runs, food pantry...) there were several reasons that it wasn't quite normal (and, yes, we did all keep our clothes on).

  1.  Caleb had J-term classes this week, that although fun, really could be considered a waste of time and definitely not like a normal school week.  

  2.  Russ does not start his spring classes until the 23rd.  He spent four mornings this past week teaching ACT Math prep at NorthPointe and the afternoons working for Dr. Murray at the seminary. 

  3.  Influenza?  Anna felt cruddy most of the day on Wednesday and although she went with us to the fellowship meal at church (this one sponsored again by the youth group to raise money for their mission trip over spring break--I had to bring two pasta dishes and the boys had to work), I took her home before Boys and Girls club because she felt feverish.  (We watched Pastor Martin give the fellowship talk on "The Hearing Ear" from home instead).  She ran a temp through Friday and continues to have a horrible cough.  In fact, Lydia decided to sleep in Seth's trundle the last several nights because Anna coughs so much.  Nicolas began coughing yesterday and went to bed with a low-grade temp.  When I got home from work today, I checked his temp--101.   Wonder who will be next?

   4.  Another weird virus?  I felt awful last Sunday and had a little of it return on Wednesday.  I have a hard time describing it because I didn't have a fever, runny nose, sore throat, cough, or anything like that.  What I had was dizziness, a rushing sound in my head, and extreme tiredness.   I am so glad I am feeling better because, well, the household just doesn't work as well when I sleep all the time.

   5.  Russ took me out on a movie date.  Spectrum Health had given me two movie tickets for a Christmas gift and we used them Thursday night to watch Les Miserables.  We both really enjoyed the movie and seemed to feel the emotions and words of the familiar songs more than when we saw the Broadway production.   I can't remember the last movie I have seen in a theater, so this definitely makes the "not normal" list.

   6.  We had over a half inch of rain this week which got rid of all the snow and ice and had temperatures in the 50s the last two days.  Caleb went for a run in shorts and a t-shirt today, and we are still enjoying green grass.  The weather man says that things will be more "normal" starting tonight as they are predicting rain/ice/snow and colder (below freezing) temps this coming week.

Hopefully, all will start feeling well this coming week and no one else takes a turn.  Russ is preaching tomorrow morning at the Reformed Presbyterian Church so I will have to juggle who is going to church/Sunday school, who needs to stay home, etc...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Trip to Iowa

Once again the trip to Iowa for Christmas was loaded with fun and good memories.   We came up with a list of things that we want to remember from this trip listed in no particular order.

 The 12 hour trip that became a 17 hour trip.  The blizzard that ripped through Central Iowa turned I-80 and I-380 into virtually one-lane roads.  Add an overheated car due to a water pump issue and, well, you have a really, really long trip.

Tipton Family Restaurant.  When the car overheated we took the first exit off I-80 which led us to Tipton, IA.  A wonderful mechanic replaced our water pump in less than an hour while the kids and I enjoyed tasty hot chocolate at the restaurant.  Seth even asked to stop there on the way home!

Chicken soup and Pig-in-the-Blankets at midnight.  Mom planned on us for a late-ish supper, but I don't think she was thinking midnight.  The chicken soup and pigs looked really good as we didn't stop for a supper and snacks can only take you so far.

Aaron Rozeboom and Kim DeJong wedding.  I have some great memories of summer Bible studies in OC with Kim and her friends.  We appreciated being able to share this memorable event in her life.

Pizza Ranch pizza.  We were able to satisfy this craving twice while in Iowa.  Once at the wedding reception which featured a Pizza Ranch buffet and then again the following Saturday night.

Christmas prime rib and Bingo table.  Always a highlight, this year was no different.

Games, Games and more Games.  Settlers of Catan, Citadel, College bowl games (including checking stats to see who is winning the bowl picks), Heartland Strategy, Dutch Blitz, Uno Attack, Capitalism, snooker, foosball, darts, shuffleboard, and ping-pong.  It had been years since I played a good game of Around the World in ping-pong.

ISU Bowl Game.  Although the outcome wasn't what we were looking for the food and fun that accompanied the game were memorable. 

Friendship between Cookie and Zoe.  Initially, Cookie was afraid of Zoe, but as she warmed up to her they provided us lots of entertainment as they became acquainted.

Listening to six sermons from "Pastor" Russ.  Preaching six times doesn't make for an overly relaxing Christmas break, but Russ considers it a privilege to be able to preach God's Word.

Fellowship with friends.  Not only were we able to to fellowship with friends at the Heritage, Harvest, and Immanuel churches, we were also able to visit with friends at the wedding/reception.  We also spent some time with Sarah W before she headed to CA for the Rose Bowl parade.  Caleb invited Clay B to the Hobbit while Lydia played with Emma B.  Nicolas spent an afternoon with Clayton W, Lydia spent an afternoon with Kate W, and Anna spent an afternoon with Sophie S.  We also enjoyed an evening of fellowship with Abe and Amy just days before they added #6 to their family on Jan 2--Ruth Teresa.

Snow and Cold.  Since we had no snow in Michigan it was fun to put on the snowpants/boots/etc and spend some time enjoying the snow in Iowa.  Unfortunately, we forgot how bitterly cold NW Iowa winters can be!

Beautiful Sunrises.  Although I often see the beautiful colors of the sunrise out my Michigan kitchen window in the morning, it does not compare to those in Iowa.

Hobbit.  Seeing this movie was on the boys' agenda.  The plan was to see a matinee sometime.  They didn't realize all the matinees were in 3D, so although they enjoyed seeing the movie with the cute glasses, they didn't save much money.

Stomach Flu.  Poor Finn and Nora.  They had a tough couple of days.  Seth got to take his turn the day before we left.  Since it lasted three days, involved both ends, and only affected the little people we wonder if he had a rotavirus.

He is not sleeping, just lying on the sofa in the basement absolutely miserable.   Seth is so glad Grandma fixed "Duckie."

Ollie Bollen and Stroepwaffles.  We always enjoy these traditions.  Caleb was able to take pictures to document these moments for an upcoming school English project on his heritage.

Nicolas endearing himself to his uncles.  He may not be able to leave them alone or give them much personal space, but I hope they know that he just loves them tons. I am grateful they put up with it and play lots of games with him. 

Breakfast at Casey's Bakery.  Thanks, Dad.  What is a trip to Sioux Center without a trip to Casey's Bakery?

Cousin bonding.  Whether it is racing cars down the ramp, building a Christmas Lego train, decorating a gingerbread train, watching videos, making bead bracelets, playing games or dressing up in old prom and bridesmaid dresses the cousins always have a good time together.

Family Food and Fellowship.  Thanks to B and B and Cora and Marlon who hosted us for meals and all who brought lots of snacks and goodies over for us to enjoy at mom and dad's.  Although the food was awesome, the fellowship/conversation and time spent together was even better.

Baby kittens.  Cuddling baby kittens at Grandpa and Grandma H's farm is always a hit. 

Rage with Grandma Carol.  Not sure what happened here because I was taking care of my sick boy, but evidently Carol's play gave all the boys (including Grandpa and Russ) the giggles that even resulted in tears.

Watching the movie Spirit for at least the 10th time.  I don't know why, but this is one movie I never tire of watching/listening to and it always makes our list of movies to take along on the long trip to Iowa.

There were more memorable moments from the trip but some things you just can't write about or put on a blog--we just have to treasure them in our heart.  We are thankful we had safe travel both directions and are grateful for the blessing of family and friends to visit!