Monday, May 27, 2013

Track 2013

Although the season isn't completely over since the state meet is this coming Saturday, June 1st, I thought I would still wrap up the track year with a few reflections about the season.   Overall, this season was much better than last year.  Most of the returning students were familiar with the running/warm-up drills so Russ didn't have to start from scratch like last year.  The returning students also knew what was expected of them as far as attendance, dress code, and communication.  We had very few, if any, dress code issues this year, but still had problems with non-attendance and poor communication from the students regarding meet participation.   Russ was constantly revising line-ups because kids would inform him at the last minute that they couldn't be at a meet.   The skipping of practice or coming to practice late was better than last year, but still an area of grief for the head coach.   Hopefully, as we graduate those that can't seem to understand commitment and continue to train the underclassman that come in both verbally by the coach and also by the example of the committed athletes this will continue to improve in future years.  

Since we were in a new conference this year, most of our meets looked different as they were duals.   Due to the poor spring weather, some of those turned into double duals.  The nice thing about these meets was that we could actually win a few, and they were over by about 7:00 because only 2-3 teams were competing.  We did also have a few "real" track meets with 7-8 teams.   We advanced three athletes to state:  a long jumper, a 100m runner, and a 1600m runner.   

Overall, we had a good season and enjoyed getting to know the athletes and watching them achieve PR's throughout the season.

This, however, is still my favorite runner:

He completed the season with a 2:13 PR in the 800m run.  He didn't make his goal of 2:10, but he made a great run at it. 

Asking Coach Dad about his race

Twin coaches

The other kids were troopers again, attending all these meets with their little tent, snacks, and books.  I didn't get a picture of Seth because he was too busy entertaining the team at the team camp area.

State qualifiers in order:  Long jump, 100m, 1600m.

Homeschool Weeks 29-34

We are done!  Actually, a few of the kids have some loose ends to tie up, but we are finished with our curriculum.  Russ keeps taking Nicolas away from his schoolwork to move library shelves for the seminary or to shingle a fellow seminary student's roof, but Nicolas doesn't seem to mind.  Caleb isn't finished until the 7th of June, so Nicolas just wants to finish his last few chapters/sections in math and science and complete his Leonardo daVinci paper by then.

The last six weeks were crammed with information.  We learned so much about the Renaissance, Reformation, and early explorers from Spain, Portugal, England, and France.

On a map we traced the routes of Vespucci, Magellan, Cortes, Walter Raleigh, Jacques Cartier, and John Cabot.   We also studied the Mayan, Aztec, and Inca civilizations, as well as the early Native North Americans.  We made Incan clay pots, our own Mayan codex, and enjoyed a Mayan drink (hot chocolate!) while we read our history one morning.

Making clay pots

Back in Europe we learned about the invention of printing press by Gutenberg and how important is was to the Reformation and distribution of the Bible.   We talked about the abuses in the church which led to Luther's 95 thesis and the spread of the Reformation.  We studied King Henry VIII, his wives, and England's Catholic/Protestant conflict that followed, including the yucky reign of "Bloody" Mary.  It was much more fun to read and learn about "Good" Queen Elizabeth.

People we studied in more detail include:  John Huss, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, Anne Askew, John Calvin, Latimer, Ridley, and Cranmer, John Knox, Copernicus, Galileo, Shakespeare and the Globe Theater (we read a little Macbeth and decided it was a tragedy, not a comedy), and Jeanne d'Albret. 

Colored and put together our own Globe Theater
We had so many art projects during the Renaissance time that I just picked a few that looked like fun or would be good to learn.  We studied the lives and masterpieces of Leonardo daVinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael in more detail.   Nicolas and I watched The Agony and The Ecstasy, an old movie about Michelangelo and the other kids watched another DVD from Nest Entertainment about Leonardo daVinci.  Nicolas wanted to know if Charlton Heston was in all old movies since he was in this one on Michelangelo, Ben Hur, El Cid, and Julius Caesar.

We decided to see what it was like to be Michelangelo and paint on the ceiling...

We also tried to be Leonardo's and draw Mona Lisa...

Several of the art lessons spent time on how to draw hands--draw your own hands, Mona Lisa hands, and finally draw the hands of God and Adam as depicted in Michelangelo's Creation on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

In science the girls finished up the astronomy unit by learning about the rest of the planets, constellations, the space station, and what it takes to be an astronaut.  They worked hard on little booklets containing facts on each of the planets.

We also finished our unit on Beethoven and listened to several musical pieces while in the van driving to the Homeschool Building or to track meets.   We wrapped up our memorization of Philippians 2: 3-16 and reviewed the verses from Romans and 1 Cor 13 that we also learned this year.    Now if we could  just put what we have learned into practice...

Seth finished up his school year a week before the other kids, but I kept him busy with math and reading assignments!  Seth completed his study of the fifty states adding Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii to his notebook.

During these weeks he also learned and read some fun books about the building of the Transcontinental Railroad and colored a picture of Mount Rushmore. We all enjoyed eating Navajo fry bread for lunch one afternoon!   He also had a couple weeks that focused on various important inventions. He was able to learn about McCormick's Reaper, the sewing machine, the telephone, Thomas Edison's inventions, Henry Ford's automobile, and The Wright Brother's Flying Machine.

Seth added the last few names of Jesus to his poster including Jesus as the "Resurrection and the Life", the "Word", and the "Alpha and Omega".      

He finished up his science unit on magnets which included lots of fun magnet activities.  

After the magnet unit in science Seth returned to the bird book that he started in the fall and learned more about birds.  This was one of Seth's favorite parts of  his school read aloud to me about the birds he was studying.  I finished reading Grandma's Attic as his read aloud.   The girls usually were able to find a reason to sneak into the room to listen, so we all enjoyed the book.   Seth faithfully worked through his art book, I Can Do All Things this year and also listened and learned some of the lyrics to special songs about America from the Celebrate America CD.  

Overall, a busy, busy year, but I think we learned a few things.  (I hope!).   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Grandma's Apron

The Girls Club Mother/Daughter Banquet theme this year was "The Apron".  Everyone came wearing an apron and we enjoyed hearing "apron stories."  One apron was over 55 years old, made in 6th grade sewing class.  Another apron, worn by an 85 y/o lady, was made by her mother.  What this elderly great-grandmother remembered most about this apron was using it to catch frogs!  Two sisters with their daughters came in matching aprons all made by their mother/grandmother with buttons that came from great-grandma's button basket.  The aprons the girls and I wore were all made by Grandma (my mom).   The "prettiest" or "fanciest" apron was a toss-up between the one I wore and the one Anna wore.  Both received many complements.  Either way we came home with a geranium as a prize!  The ladies were all fascinated with the hardanger needlework, many of which had never seen it before.

Mom's beautiful handwork that won us a geranium.  Thanks, Mom!

This little poem or essay was placed at each table:

Grandma's Apron 

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few, it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears…

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.

And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.

After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men-folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.


Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.

Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.

I never caught anything from an apron…But Love. (Author Unknown)

Mother's Day 2013

With temps in the 40s we couldn't work too long to get the "perfect" picture!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Activity Update 2

The last activity update got a little long.  I'll try to do better this time.  Here is what we have been doing.

  • Is incredibly busy and I'm not sure how he gets it all done.  One week in April he left a track meet early (and left me in charge--yikes!) to give a talk on "Personal Evangelism" after the FRC fellowship meal, preached at Mel Trotter that Sat, preached the following Sunday morning, led youth group that afternoon, and participated in a pre-marital counseling session after church that evening.  Whew!
  • Does a great job of coaching a track team, putting together track line-ups, and communicating to track parents 
  • Is somehow finding time to fit in reading, writing book reports and papers, going to class, and preparing/giving presentations for class.  He is gearing up for finals which are next week.  Hard to believe three years are already done!
  • Will continue his internship at the FRC this summer (consistory meetings, visitation, speaking at FRC Family Camp, etc) and start his internship at the church in Kalamazoo (preaching, teaching adult Sunday school, consistory meetings, visitation).  He will also be helping Dr. Murray out in his "spare" time.   

  • Had the last MWI meetings of the school year.  One of the last meetings was a panel of former and current pastor's kids who answered questions and gave advice regarding living in the "manse" as children.  Dr. VanDoodewaard spoke on a former pastor's wife, Katie Luther, at the last scheduled meeting of the year.  
  • Nothing else new, really.  I found that I have put more miles on the van taking the kids to all their activities, appts, etc.  Sometimes I feel like I am in a video game, driving in a virtual world, and scoring points for all the pot holes I miss.  I found this picture on the Internet and doctored it slightly for Michigan: 

  • Oh, I also made this in my down time in the evenings.  Now I need to find a cute little boy to wear it!

  • Is doing well in school and will be inducted into NHS on Monday night.   Caleb did find out this semester that he is not a huge Economics fanLike his mom, he prefers the life sciences.  
  • Is working very hard in track and running mostly 800s, but Coach Dad also threw in a 1600 in which he did very well, taking 20-some seconds off his best mile time from last year.  I'll put together a whole track post in the future with pictures and reflections of the season, etc.
    I only wished I had gotten a picture with his head cocked a little more--then he looks just like his Uncle Dave!
  • Has had a few quartet gigs and is still practicing hard for GRYS auditions as he is hoping to make the big symphony.  He has his last GRYS Classical Orchestra concert this coming Sunday afternoon.  Today he and Nicolas both performed with their schools (Caleb--Northpointe and Nicolas--Homeschool Orchestra) at the State Orchestra Festival.  He did play his violin solo and quartet at State a few weeks ago and received Division I ratings.  I wasn't able to go because of work, but Russ said he sounded great.
  • Was invited to the junior/senior dinner tonight by a junior girl on the track team.  She is a sweet girl and was so cute when she requested Russ' permission to ask Caleb.  
Caleb and Taylor

  • Enjoys practicing his cello and also received a Division I rating at the Middle School solo/ensemble festival.  He is also practicing hard, especially on his scales, for his audition in a couple weeks for the GRYS.  He does not, however, enjoy practicing his piano and we have discussed just stopping lessons and concentrating on the cello.  By playing at the State Orchestra Festival this morning, he just fulfilled his last commitment with the Homeschool Orchestra.
    Last time in the homeschool concert  uniform.
  • Is glad to be back on the soccer field.  It has finally dried up enough that they have finally had a couple practices and even a game.  He has a pathetic team, but a fairly knowledgeable coach that takes him aside and gives him a little extra soccer coaching.
  • Loves to shadow his dad at track practice and meets.  
  • Still enjoys putzing in the kitchen.  Since I have been quite busy this semester (all year really) I found that I rarely bake.  When the kids do want home baked goodies, Nicolas is the go-to guy for sugar cookies

  • Has grown out of all clothes from last summer.  I, thankfully, bought a few things ahead of time at the end of the season last year so she is not naked in this 80 degree weather.  We did some thrifting this week as well as Old Navy Stuff n' Save on a few clearance items.  Now for shoes...  
  • Often needs to be redirected  from a mystery book to get her school work or other chores done.  She loves Nancy Drew and American Girl mysteries. 
  • Is always busy with some craft project.  This week it is cutting out paper dolls and working on a scrapbook (I finally remembered to get pictures made for them at Meijer!)
  • Along with the other kids is practicing piano songs for a recital in May.  The kids are actually missing the piano recital in June but their teacher set up a time for them to play for nursing home residents.  The only catch is that the recital needs to be 45 minutes long, so the boys will also play their string instruments and Lydia will also play a hymn on the violin.  
I made a coffee cake and put some of the batter in two Easy Bake Oven pans for the girls to bake for an American Girl tea party.  They had been asking for quite awhile to do this and enjoyed it so much.  I am only sorry it took me so long to  get the ball rolling. 

  • Stays busy with crafts with her sister and best friend, Anna.  Both girls have enjoyed the crafts at Boys and Girls club this year.  They just had the last regular season meeting last week and will have a banquet for moms and grandmas in a few weeks.  They have been going through the "Keeper's at Home" curriculum and will have an apron-themed banquet.  We wish Grandma lived closer and we could treat her to a night out:(
  •  Goes on walks with Zoe and her mom
  •  Rediscovered the jump rope along with the muscles needed to make it work.  
  • Is our little bird watcher.  She had been so busy watching the little finches making a nest on our porch.  She gave us updates from her school table when an egg fell out of the nest, when she thought the eggs hatched (she was right) and called me to look when the little ones first stuck their heads out of the nest for the parents to feed.  She was absolutely heartbroken when some animal must have gotten into the nest one night and destroyed it and all its precious contents.  


  • Is enamored with Pandora and his music playlist.  The rest of the kids are so sick of the Lion King sound track especially, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," which Seth recently informed me is his favorite song right now.  He also likes the Narnia and Lord of the Rings soundtracks and can usually tell me right when they come on which song goes to which movie.  He also has many of the words memorized to several of the songs from Les Miserables.  The kids are also tired of hearing him sing, "I Dreamed a Dream."
  • Told me the Bach Festival that I took the kids too "was much better than I thought it would be."  I was happy to hear that because one of my reasons for getting tickets and taking time to go to Calvin College one morning was because I knew he enjoyed music so much.   It was a music concert especially for kids  put on by the GR symphony.  They were able to hear some of Grand Rapids finest musicians including voice, strings, piano, organ, and percussion.  It was well done and even humorous.  
  • Has been nicknamed "The Professor" by a senior level student at BSF and the name has kind of stuck.   We occasionally tease him with that name when he is acting a little smart.
Is losing his two top teeth!
  • Is loved by the kids on the track team.  There was one practice when I wished I had my camera as Seth attempted to run 400s with Caleb.  He took off with Caleb's group but was soon way behind, although he didn't give up until about the 300 mark.    He later caught up with Caleb during a rest time and it was so precious to watch them walk down the track hand in hand.  Our "bookends" sometimes do really look like twins. 
I think that is about what our spring looked like.  I'm not sure this is any shorter than the last one, but I tried.