Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Another Snow Day!

Six more inches of wet "stick to the north side of the tree" type snow...

Friday, February 22, 2013

Another Snowy Day Treat

Nicolas had been bugging me for quite some time to make kolaches.   I thought with Caleb home from school due to the snow/conditions it was a great morning to make a treat.  The blackberry filling was a little runny, but that doesn't change the taste.  We also made raspberry and Russ' favorite--cherry.  They were quite yummy!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Homeschool Weeks 19-22

Week 21 brought us pretty close to the end of the medieval era.   We really love this time period and are excited that the FRC home school group plans to have a history fair sometime in April so we can showcase some of the things that we have learned.  This mom is helping plan it, so my kids are required to participate!

In week 19 we continued our study about the Vikings, specifically the Danes invasion of England.  We studied Alfred the Great who  drove the Danes out of his lands and won back other parts of England.  The Anglo-Saxons rule came to an end, however, at the Battle of Hastings when Duke William of Normandy fought and defeated King Harold of England.   For the next few weeks, we studied the fun things of this era:  feudalism (serfs, kings, nobles), castles, knights and chivalry, medieval life, the medieval church and the pope, and monasteries.  In week 21 we studied the Crusades and a couple of people associated with them: Saladin and Richard the Lion-Hearted.  We learned about wicked King John and the signing of the Magna Carta.  We enjoyed seeing how we still follow ideas from the Magna Carta in our government today.  Of course, we couldn't study King Richard and his brother John without watching the Disney movie Robin Hood.  Nicolas and I enjoyed watching Ivanhoe which was also set in the time of Richard, John, and Robin Hood.  Nicolas had read the book earlier so could tell me how the movie differed from the book.  He let me know the book was better than the movie; isn't that usually the case?  We also learned about El Cid and how the Christians reconquered Spain from the Moors (African Muslims). Nicolas and I just picked up the movie El Cid from the library and hope to get a chance to watch that sometime this weekend.   During the Middle Ages, many Christians went on pilgrimages to holy places or shrines.  We read The Chanticleer and the Fox, a tale of Chaucer, to give us an idea of the stories that were told on the pilgrimages as related in The Canterbury Tales.  Other people we studied in more detail the last four weeks included:  Elizabeth of Hungary, Bernard of Clairvaux, Anselm, and Francis of Assisi.   Activities during this time included eating at a Medieval Inn,

Eating mincemeat pies and drinking ale (ginger)

Playing a medieval game--9-Man Morris while we ate at the Inn.

making stained glass windows,

Just like the medieval churches?

eating lunch at a monastery, 

(No picture here, but Grandpa and Grandma will remember trying to eat pea soup in complete silence!)

putting together a castle,

and designing a coat of arms.

We finished our read-aloud The Door in the Wall and began Dangerous Journey, an edition of John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress with lots of illustrations.  The girls continue with their book units, and Nicolas started a new one on Swiss Family Robinson.

The girls finished the human body science unit and started a new unit on astronomy that will take us through the end of the school year.

Our body friend, finally all put together, well, kind of...

Part of our solar system.  Russ hung the planets for us (for which we are grateful), but we had to ask him, "Since when do Jupiter's stripes run vertically?"

We are working hard to keep up with art and the music of Mozart.  Some weeks we don't get to it and other weeks we do double to catch up.   Somehow it all seems to get done, along with our our BSF, English, math, Latin words, Bible, spelling, and handwriting.  Whew!

Starting last week and now for the next several weeks we are going back in time to study other ancient civilizations up to the Middle Ages.  Last week and the first part of this week we studied China, learning of the different dynasties, the Old Silk Road, the history of the Great Wall, and various other cultural aspects of their civilization.  We will next study Japan, Australia, and Russia before returning to Europe.  

Seth continues to move west in his study of the United States.  He learned how Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory (Louisiana Purchase) and then studied the state of Louisiana.  We enjoyed a Cajun meal of red beans and rice in honor of the state.  He also studied the states of Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Missouri, Arkansas, and Michigan.  We spent some time reading about what it is what like to go West by wagon train and then built our own little Conestoga wagon.  We also studied the life of Robert Fulton, who was instrumental in the invention of the steamboat, the first submarine, and the torpedo.  Our science lesson that week dealt with learning how/why things float.  In another science lesson Seth answered the question, "Does a seed need water to grow?" by setting up a little experiment with popcorn kernels.  At the end of the week we related this to our spiritual life.  Just as there is no life and growth in the seeds without water, so our spirit too needs the living water that Jesus gives to grow and do the things God has planned for us.   Seth is now working through some mini science lessons on the human body.  Currently we are studying the five senses.

Seth learned more wonderful words for Jesus:  Jesus is the Vine, Jesus is the Head of the Body, and Jesus is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.    I don't think we had any extra art projects to reinforce our Bible lessons during these weeks.  We did make a fruit salad with lots of different fruits (not quite nine, though) to remember the fruits of the spirit that we can produce if we remain in the vine, Jesus. 

Sometimes teaching your own children can be so frustrating...especially in math.  I can understand why that subject is the cause of much tension in homeschool families.  I am constantly trying to get Seth to understand the concept of "number families" when learning addition and subtraction.  I have been telling him for over a year that if he can understand that concept, subtraction will be so much easier.   I was just at the point of pulling my hair out when I saw the light go on.  "Oh, I get it!  If 
4 + 2 = 6, then 6 - 2 has to equal 4!"  I could have wept.  When I mentioned this to Russ he said one of the favorite sayings of a former colleague of his in the teaching profession was, "Water on rock, water on rock...water always wins."  I think that little thought can carry over to many areas of parenting.  But, oh, what patience that requires.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

A yummy snack on a snowy day.  Sometimes you find little treasures at the food pantry:)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Jehovah Jireh

Russ has had an exceptionally busy start to his spring semester.  His classes currently include OT exegesis (poets and prophets), NT exegesis (epistles), Issues in Counseling, Puritan Theology, NT Biblical Theology, and a homiletical workshop that is part of his new internship at the Free Reformed Church.   Both exegetical classes require a paper and a presentation and both of his were on the front side of the semester.  Russ' most recent paper/presentation was due this past Tuesday  When I left the house last Saturday morning for BSF leader's meeting followed by work, I hated to go knowing he could use a helpmeet about this time to take care of the house/kids so he could focus on getting his paper done; not the other way around.    Since I also could think of oodles of projects that could use my attention at home, I had a pretty bad attitude about working.  The fact that I knew it was going to be a long day just made my mood that much darker.  

It was no mistake that God seated me next to Sharon in the leader's circle that morning.  She also works for Spectrum Health, but in a lab downtown.  During the discussion question time she leaned over to whisper, "This is for you," as she handed me a pen that had, "Spectrum Health" printed on it.  She knew I was going to work later that morning after the leader's meeting and evidently thought it would be cool if I could just whip out my Spectrum Health pen when writing notes.   She did this not realizing, nor intending to time it exactly when we were to answer the question, "How has God provided for you personally this week?  How will you use what God gave you for His glory?"  Gulp.  Because of my bad attitude and selfish heart I had failed again to see my job as God's hand of provision.   That realization was bad enough.  But what about the follow-up question about using that job for His glory?  Double-gulp.  Needless to say, I arrived at work with a completely different attitude.  And every time I pulled that pen out to make a few notes on my clipboard, even when it was 6:30 and I was still at work, I was reminded to praise God for his provision.

Reflecting on the entire encounter this past weekend, I was again humbled at God's provision for our family through this entire seminary adventure.  I can give countless examples of how God has provided for us through anonymous gift cards in our church mailbox, various church support, timely preaching engagements for Russ, the generosity of family and friends, PT job.   Just last Monday night at BSF, I was handed an envelope full of cash with this note attached: 

 "Please don't try to figure out which of God's children He used to give you this gift.  The Lord alone deserves all the glory, praise and thanks.  May He bless your family as you serve Him and watch expectantly as He continues to meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Jesus Christ our Savior." 

 The envelope was addressed to "The Herman Family" and was from "Jehovah Jireh."

This note was the inspiration for this blog post.  My prayer is that if you read this you also are led to praise God for his faithfulness to His people and that He alone receives the glory for what He has done.  If He has been so faithful in the small things like food and clothing will He not also be faithful in those things that have eternal value?

"I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your loving kindness and Your truth from the great assembly."  Psalm 40:10

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Anna's Birthday

Anna's 11th birthday was just like the day she was born--snowy.  When I asked Anna what she liked best about her birthday it was a quick answer.  "Having Grandpa and Grandma here and going out to eat!"  It is pretty much consensus here that Grandpa and Grandma's visits are some of the most anticipated and loved times of our time here in Michigan. 

With birthday money Anna was able to add to what she had already saved to order the American Girl Doll, Caroline.  Talk about one two excited girl girls!  

"Look what Anna and I got for Anna's birthday!"

New birthday sweatshirt too!

The Princess and the Kiss.
Can't believe how much our "Gracie Grouper" has grown and changed in just the 2 1/2 years since we moved to Michigan.  I treasure the time I get to spend with her (and all the kids) every day.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Day

Can you still call it a snow day if four are home schooled and the other had a scheduled day off for winter break?   Over 300 schools in the area were closed today due to the snow.   I think I heard that this was our first official "winter storm".  All the other snows were little clippers or lake effect snow, and this one was an actual winter storm with a low pressure or something meeting something else, blah, blah, blah.    Anyway, we were blessed with another 8 or so inches of heavy snow which means...packing snow!  And, of course, that means snowmen and snow forts. 

The porch railing measured 7 inches

Actually, the week was a little different for us.  The kids were asking to go sledding and ice skating again, but I wasn't sure how to fit it in.  (I know, I know, my kids are home schooled.   Flexibility should be one of the benefits!)  But I like our schedule:   school work in the morning, finish up after lunch along with practicing instruments and other chores, then playtime.  So how do you fit in sledding and ice skating when you have piano lessons followed by BSF on Monday afternoon/evening, dental appts all afternoon in Big Rapids on Tuesday, and Homeschool orchestra on Wednesday afternoon?  

You let go of the schedule!:)

We decided to flip school on Wednesday and ice-skate in the morning and take our school work to the Home School Building while Nicolas had orchestra practice.  This worked so well we decided to do the same thing on Thursday morning for sledding.  We desperately needed a library run so decided to go to the library when it opened at 10:00 and then drive right over to the sledding hill.  We knew we were in a winter storm warning, but the snow wasn't supposed to arrive until after 1:00.  The weather forecast missed that by a few hours and at 10:30 when we arrived at the sledding hill (only ones there!) it was already snowing buckets.  By the time we drove home an hour later the roads were becoming yucky.  The kids insisted it was more fun sledding in the snow, but I actually think it is more fun to see where you are going when whizzing down the hill on a piece of plastic.

We had already planned a sleepover in front of the fireplace Thursday night since Caleb had a scheduled winter break on Friday and Monday.   Knowing it was snowing an additional 4 inches outside during the night just made it that much more cozy.  We usually do not have much scheduled for school on Fridays, so the kids just finished up some lagging projects.  We made it an official snow day by making fried bread for lunch.   Russ remembers his step-mom always making cinnamon rolls on snow days and using the leftover dough to make fried bread.  Topped with butter and a little cinnamon/sugar they make a yummy snow day treat!  

I had some Rhodes dinner rolls in the freezer that needed to be used so thawed them in the fridge overnight.  When rolled out to flatten, they made the perfect size to fry up!

Unfortunately, Russ did not have a snow day and he left for the seminary as soon as he was able to clear the driveway.   We had a huge pile from the snow plow at the end of the drive.  Actually, we were really surprised to hear the snow plow come by on our street at 10:30 or so last night.  Usually, it takes anywhere from 2-5 days for the plow to make it to side streets.  What made it even more odd, was that snow was still falling quite heavily.  We soon figured it out when we heard this huge "glug" from the laundry room toilet and heard loud machinery at work outside.  Evidently the city needed to clear the street to get to the manhole to work on the sewer.  

We are heading to Hudsonville tonight to share a meal with a family from church.  I am guessing the main roads are pretty clear (and in front of our house!)  And, oh, did I mention I am so grateful the kids' dental appts were on Tuesday, not Thursday?  Big Rapids is one hour north and that area actually had closer to a foot of snow.   The dental clinic does me a favor and lets me schedule the kids all in one afternoon, but the policy is really not to have more than two from the same family scheduled on any given day.  That prevents huge blocks of empty time if I had needed to cancel or couldn't make the trip.  When I signed in on Tuesday and told them "the Herman family," was there the receptionist exclaimed, "Yeah!"  And Caleb (who went last) said he overheard the dentist (new guy) saying to the hygienist (same one we always have), "You were right, they all came."  Since this must stress them out to bend the rules for us I am doubly thankful that I didn't have to cancel for snow! 

Zoe loves the snow.  She whines by the door just to have someone go outside to play with.  She did get a little too friendly with Caleb's snowman, though.