Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow, Snow, Snow

The boys are just starting their third snow day in a row. I had assumed they would have school today, but due to the wind and cold this morning schools were again cancelled. We are pleased to see that we are forecast to have another three inches tomorrow (sarcasm). We truly are running out of places to put the snow and find that intersections have become quite dangerous with snow piles blocking vision. The kids are looking forward to warmer weather to be able to enjoy all that snow...sledding, snow forts, snowball fights, snow people.

This is Seth standing in front of the retaining wall on the driveway.   I can't throw snow that high and the blower is having trouble blowing it that high!

Instead we have been content with the Wii, Nerf gun wars, books, and lots and lots of Perler bead creations (and, of course, our  home school work).  This time has been great for Caleb as he has been able to catch up on sleep and schoolwork and both boys have been able to practice for their solos for solo/ensemble on Saturday.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Caleb's Trip to Guatemala

I arrived in Guatemala on Friday night in Guatemala City.  We drove to Panajachel (Pana) and spent Saturday and Sunday there doing "touristy" things.  On Sunday we drove across the lake to a church in San Pedro where we worshiped with the locals...It was all in Spanish!  After church we packed our suitcases and drove the 2 hours to Xela (Quetzeltenango) where we would be working for the next week.  We spent our time building walls for a new school because they had significantly outgrown their old one.  I spent one morning there visiting a different school where I was able to do crafts with the kids, read them books, and play soccer with the older kids.  That was probably one of the most memorable experiences of the trip.  On Wednesday night we organized a soccer game with a few guys from our group and some missionaries against a Guatemalan team.   They creamed us.  (But it was a lot of fun!)  We finished all of our building on Thursday, and so on Friday we drove back to AMG's headquarters in Guatemala City.  There we visited a school in Verbena.  The kids there loved to be picked up and played with; I had a lot of fun there too.  We left early on Saturday morning for the airport, and I arrived home around 8:00.  

This week was probably one of the best weeks of my life.  Not only did I get to help Christians from a different country and culture (or did they help me?), but I also was able to experience how God is a God of all languages as we prayed, sang, and laughed together in our native tongues.  God taught me a lot of who I was as a person and who he is as God.  This trip put many things into perspective (just how important are ACT scores, really?).  I can't wait to go back!!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Homeschool Weeks 13-17

We have covered quite a bit of ground in the past five weeks of home school.  We are still leading up to the Revolutionary War, but hope to cover that this week and next.  What we have been doing is reading from the book George Washington's World and studying all the things that are going on in the world during the lifetime of George Washington.  Here are a few of the things we studied:
  • The emperors of China and Japan's isolation.   
  • The life of Benjamin Franklin
  • The three pointless wars in Europe and the corresponding skirmishes in the New World.  
  • The early life of George Washington through the time of the French and Indian War.  
  • The Seven Year's War in Europe including several key people:  Voltaire, Goethe, Catherine the Great, George III, Frederick, Louis, Marie Antoinette, and the early life of Lafayette.  We will study some of these individuals in more detail as our walk through history continues.
  • The Spanish missions in Texas, Mexico, and California.  
  • Other people and events that we studied in more detail:  George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, David Brainerd, Phillis Whitley, Benjamin West, The Stamp Act, Eusebio Kino, Father Junipero Serra, John paul Jones, Olaudah Equiano, and the early life of Alexander Hamilton.
For extra activities in some of these units we filled out lapbook or notebooking pages, put together our own almanac like Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack, made Johnny cakes like those George Washington must have eaten, and drank Liberty Tea with our homemade scones.  The kids also continue to enjoy the Liberty Kids DVDs which is leading up to the Revolutionary War.  It is amazing how many key historical people are mentioned in those videos which really helps the kids remember who they are and what they did.
Tea and scones

We completed our memorization of James 1-2.  We just began studying chap 3 and when we finish that we will continue our memorization.  I need an extra week to review just to keep up with the kids!

In science we completed our study of animals finishing with echinoderms (starfish and sand dollars), sponges, worms, and the Kingdom's Protista and Monera.  We are now a couple weeks into our new semester topic:  Botany.  So far we have learned about vascular vs nonvascular plants, angiosperms vs gymnosperms, the process of germination, and the difference between moncots and dicots.  We currently have a scientific study going on regarding germination.  We are studying which bean seed will germinate the best:  the one in the closet, the one in the fridge, or the one taped to the window.  We have made a hypothesis and are measuring each day, charting our findings, and will write up the results on Day 12.  Grandpa also helped build us a light hut which we will use to grow herbs that we can use to make tea or soap (we haven't decided yet). 

Sand dollar and starfish cookies

The kids worked together on this underwater scene using cut out sponge shapes and paint

The worm habitat diorama
Grandpa helping make our light hut

Lining the inside with foil

Complete with a foil cover.  Now all we need is our herb seeds!

Our curriculum has taken a break from any assigned read-aloud since we have so much reading in our other history books.  We decided to read The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud as a read-aloud just for fun until we are assigned another book from the curriculum.  

The girls are still finishing up their book units from last semester.  Seth started a new one on Sign of the Beaver and we try to have some activity for each chapter even if it is just a worksheet, a notebook or research page, or vocab words.   So far the activity for chapter six was his favorite--making your own moccasins.  Okay, Grandma and mom may have had to do most of it for him (the toe part was kind of tricky), but he did finish up quite a bit of the second one on his own.  

Are those not just the cutest little feet?  The cutest in this house anyway.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Lydia Finishes Her First Crochet Project!

Lydia crocheted the five single crochet panels and I sewed them together and put the buttons on. She is pretty proud of this project and is looking forward to another one.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

What I Miss Most About Iowa...

Other than family, this is what I miss most about Iowa:

Other Iowa Snapshots

Seth loved to help Grandpa get the fireplace started

Snuggle time with Grandma

A very tired group on a Sunday afternoon

Lydia loved to practice her piano on Grandma's organ.  Canon in D sounded great!

Michael after his run in with the door while playing with Zoe

Target Practice

Empty Pizza Ranch boxes make good targets for shooting practice!

Anna (aka "Annie Oakley) took a turn later in the week, but I didn't have a chance to get my camera out:(


Playing games is always a favorite part of being with family/cousins.  Here are a few highlights:

The boys enjoyed Dave's new game "Ticket to Ride":

All the kids love "Empire", a game of guessing who people are to bring them into your empire:

These two made a cute empire "team"

Empire strategizing

These three made the cutest "empire"

My favorite highlight:  watching Cade Chinese jump rope (thanks for being a good sport, Cade):

Of course this doesn't include the many other games of Zenga, Settlers of Catan, Monopoly Deal Millionaire, Ping-Pong, Snooker, Darts, Spoons, Capitalism, 5-Straight, Hearts, UNO Attack, Guillotine, Heartland Strategy, and Sequence!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Last of the Season's Apples

Grandpa and Grandma still had many bushels of apples that needed to be pressed into apple juice/cider.  When the weather warmed to about 40 degrees on Friday after Christmas we helped wash, cut, and press apples into nine gallons of apple juice!  We have not been able to participate in this activity since we moved to Grand Rapids, so we are grateful that Grandpa saved some apples for us to press.  Our only regret was that we forgot to take a gallon home with us.

We found out that Uncle Michael had never been part of this process before.

Cutting the apples and taking out the yucky parts

Russ sorted out the apples that could still go through the peeler for sauce and pies.