Friday, April 26, 2013

The Walk I Almost Missed

"Mom, can I please go with you on your walk with Zoe?"

I reluctantly agree.  Without him I can walk faster, I can control Zoe on her leash, and best of all I can think without interruption.  With him along it will be stop and start, stop and start.  I will have to untangle my legs from Zoe's leash because he will want to walk her and with his continuous chatter there will be no more "thinking."

I'm right.

The walk is stop and start, stop and start, stop and pick flowers...for me.  Dandelions, little purple and white flowers that grow in the lawn, and other little bits of treasure from nature make up my growing bouquet.

The chatter is continuous.  "Mom, I just have to tell you this if you promise not to tell anyone."  Big pause during which I tell him he can trust me.  "Okay, (a girl's name)  likes me.   I am not going to marry her, though, because she talks funny. "  Another big pause.  "I probably shouldn't have told you, but I just wanted to."



"You shouldn't give the kids so many chores to do.  You know they won't be little for very long.  Even Anna is turning into a little lady.  She is getting bigger and should probably be in a real school."

 Is this his way of getting rid of his big sister?  

"You know, mom, in five years Caleb will be in college."  His steps slow and when I turn to look at him I notice his face is turned downward.

Does that make you sad, buddy?

"Very.  I will be losing  my twin."

I don't mention that it will be less than five years.  Instead I reassure him that although things will be different with Caleb in college, he won't be losing his brother.  I wonder if I am reassuring myself, too.

And then I realize that with just one word, "no", I could have completely missed this glimpse into a little boy's heart today.  With regret I wonder how many other moments I have missed.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

History Fair

Last Friday night six homeschool families gathered at the FRC for an informal history fair.   Along with the girls' Medieval Castle and Seth's Oregon Trail exhibit we also saw exhibits on Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, Roanoke Colony, Pioneer Food, Mesopotamia, Iwo Jima, Hannibal's Battle of Cannae, and Voortrekkers (South African pioneers).    All the kids first introduced themselves and their exhibit and then parents and grandparents could go around and look more closely at the kids' work and ask questions, etc.  I had a few moments when I briefly thought, "I wish my kids were a little more outgoing and comfortable speaking in front of others," but then quickly realized that this will come with more practice and that regardless I love my kids just the way God made them! 

Monday, April 22, 2013

A Very Wet Spring

As many of you know, the slightly higher temperatures here in West Michigan have kept away most of the snow and ice that NW Iowa has been receiving.  We have, however, received buckets and buckets of rain.  Various areas have had roads washed out, smallish bridges collapse, and, of course, lots of basement flooding.  Thankfully, we have one room in the basement--a rather yucky old pantry--that sits about 3-4 inches below the rest of the basement.  When the water in that room started to go over the lip in the doorway, the boys headed downstairs and removed over 180 gallons from the room (bailed with ice cream buckets:)  We were glad to have a reprieve from the rain the last several days.  The temperatures were so cool that we had snow showers instead.   Spring sports have had a horrible time getting all the games/matches/meets played due to the wetness of the fields--some even completely underwater.  (West Michigan schools play baseball and softball in the spring, not in the summer.  Girls soccer is also in the spring as is track and field, of course).   Yesterday was a beautiful day, still rather cool, but the sun was shining so we decided to take a little family outing down to the Grand River as it was predicted to crest.  Here are a few pictures that Caleb took with his Ipod.  (I took my camera too but I had left my memory card at home.  Not helpful).

The entrance to the fish ladder.  All of the fish ladder is covered with water except the top/overlook area. 

The dam taken near the upper area of the fish ladder.

Same as above

The bottom part of the fish ladder completely submerged--including the sidewalk, viewing area, boat ramp, etc.

Looking back towards the dam.  "What dam?" you say.   Let's just say fish are having no trouble jumping the dam now!
The next several pictures were taken from in front of the Ford Museum.  Note the lamp posts out in the river.  They line the sidewalk of the "River Walk" area.

This road is just a little too close to the water for my comfort.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kentucky Mission Trip

 I asked for guest bloggers to write about the Kentucky mission trip over spring break, but I am not getting any takers so thought I would just write what I know and then when/if you see Caleb, Nicolas or Russ you can ask them personally about the trip!  All of the pictures I "borrowed" from other kids/adults from Facebook because my boys did not take any pictures.  The camera stayed in their hotel room.  I'm glad they enjoyed the moment and made lots of memories, not worrying about getting it on film; but this mom sure would have loved to have seen some pictures since she couldn't share the time with them!

The trip this year was near Pikeville, KY, and the group worked through YWAM (Youth With a Mission).  YWAM took care of lodging and food.  The group actually stayed in a beautiful Hampton Inn in Pikeville and drove 20-30 minutes to work sites.  All food was provided by the cafeteria of the University of Pikeville (breakfast and supper was eaten with the college students and they packed lunches for them to take them to their work sites).   All agreed that eating and sleeping arrangements were not really too tough on this trip.  The one negative of the arrangements was that it did take away a little from the "group" dimension, but they did work hard to overcome that and it seems as though they were still able to bond as a group.

Since YWAM's season really doesn't start until later, they had the group break up into two or three work groups and finish up projects from last summer.   This included painting a shed and a porch, lowering a porch roof, redoing a bathroom, reorganizing a "hoarder" home and tossing out outdated things, fixing roofs, painting the whole interior of a trailer, and putting up siding.  They had three and a half full work days and explored Breaks Interstate Park between Virginia and Kentucky the other half day.  They worshiped at Neon Reformed Presbyterian Church on Sunday morning and Russ gave an extended devotional talk for their evening service.  They studied the book of James each evening which included a time set aside for Journible writing. 

The youth group just received a note from one of the families how grateful they were not only for the work that was done, but also by the love they received.  The trip was also a great learning and growing opportunity for the kids and the consensus was that a good time was had by all.  They are a great bunch of kids!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Not the End

We are grieving with the Sterk family tonight, but rejoice that Christ has defeated that last enemy, death, so for those who die in Christ this is not the end.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring is Coming?

We have a hard time believing it is spring break since we walked Zoe in snow flurries this morning.  We also saw this hanging on a tree,

indicating that the temperatures were indeed below freezing.   

We did, however, see many hopeful signs of spring including the blooming crocus,

a robin,

and tulips that are just coming up!

All the tulip bulbs that you sent out are coming up, Cora!

Homeschool Weeks 23-28

As I mentioned on the last homeschool update, we were leaving the Middle Ages and going back in time to study other ancient civilizations up to the end of the Middle Ages.  We finished up our study of ancient China and moved on to ancient Japan.  We wrote Haiku poems and ate a snack of Japanese crackers and green tea during our Japan study.    The kids enjoyed a bowl of borsch when we studied ancient Russia and then moved on to study ancient Africa, specifically the Ghana, Mali and Songhay Empires.  We concluded our study of ancient civilizations with the study of ancient India and a meal with chapatis.    Back in Europe we read about the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War between France and England, and the end of the Byzantine Empire when the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople.  We also studied the War of the Roses in England and how Ferdinand and Isabella united Spain.  This leads us right into the study of Columbus and other explorers which we will pick up after spring break.   Some specific people we studied during this time include:  Peter Waldo and the Waldensians, Marco Polo and his travels in China, Joan of Arc (listened to a dramatization from Your Story Hour), and Henry the Navigator, the Prince of Portugal who was known for his early exploratory travels along the coast of Africa. 

The girls' Haiku poems with watercolor illustrations.  I couldn't find Nicolas'...hmm...I wonder if he completed this assignment.  Lydia just realized she had too many syllables in her first line.  Oh, well!

The kids enjoyed this "War of the Roses" video from "Horrible Histories". 

The kids ate this right after studying the BSF lesson in which Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of red stew.  They were sure Jacob made a stew with beets.  Believe it or not, the kids loved borsch!

Chapatis with beef fajita mix.  I know we mixed cultures a little:)

During Bible time we finished reading the Gospel of Luke and the life of Christ, read Paul's letter to the Philippians, and are now reading 1 John.  We have pretty much memorized Philippians 2:3-11, but have one more week to review before we add verses 12-16.

The girls continue their study of the planets in astronomy.  They have written short summary reports on Mercury, Venus, Earth, the Moon, and Mars.  Since we didn't really have all the resources to do our own Marsville, the girls drew out their own Marsville after we talked about what we would need for oxygen, food, water, etc.  This week we studied space rocks (comets, meteorites, asteroids).  We read articles and watched videos about the recent Russian meteor and thought it was pretty neat to study something that happened recently.

The girls kept track of the phases of the moon for the month.  Since we have lots of cloudy days/nights in Michigan we needed to consult a website to complete our calendar.

Marsville drawing.  You can click on the pictures to view them larger.

Art has been a little overwhelming since we are entering the time of the early Renaissance, but we are trying to do two of the three projects recommended.  One of the major topics we are studying right now is the difference in painting style and technique from the earlier time periods to the time of the  Renaissance.    We have just started a unit on the life and work of Leonardo da Vinci.  In music we have left Mozart and are now enjoying learning about and listening to the life and music of Beethoven.
Anna is showing one of the difference in painting styles--one object/subject with no background vs. foreground picture with muted background scenery.

An example of some of the art drawings the kids have done.

Seth continues his study of the 50 states.  He has now added Iowa, Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, Kansas, West Virginia, Nevada, and Nebraska to his state notebook.   Special units included the California Gold Rush, the Santa Fe Trail, the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.   Seth is completing a lapbook on the Oregon Trail that we will put together on a tri-fold display board instead of in a book for the History Fair in a few weeks.   Stay tuned for pictures of that! 

Made our own Abe Lincoln hat

We had to stop at the Civil War exhibit at the museum the other day so Seth could dress up as a Civil War soldier
Seth continues to learn the names of Jesus adding "Jesus the Servant" and "Jesus the Good Shepherd" to the other wonderful names we have learned this year. 

In science Seth began a unit on atoms, molecules (we made our own water molecule with toothpicks and two red grapes for hydrogen and a green grape for oxygen), states of matter (solid, liquid, gas), energy, and forces.  He studied gravity as a force and now we will spend a few weeks studying the force of magnetism with a special magnet kit.  We even made our own magnet by coiling a wire around a piece of metal and putting the ends on a battery. 

We finished On the Banks of Plum Creek and are now reading Mountain Born as our read aloud.  Since this book is about sheep farming it goes well with learning about about the Good Shepherd.

Right now we are enjoying a break from our normal school work while Dad, Caleb, and Nicolas are in Kentucky for a spring break mission trip.   We will try to put our history fair projects together so we don't have to worry about that later when we are busy with track meets and soccer games.   Hard to believe we only have six weeks left in our curriculum!