Monday, April 21, 2014

Little Boy's Treasures

Seth has a camouflage fleece Columbia jacket (I think it is from Andrew because it has 
'Haverdink' written on the tag) that he wears every day.  All day long.  It finally struck me that I had never seen it go through the wash, so decided one evening after he was in bed to try to get it washed and dried by the next morning.  I lifted the jacket up and  couldn't believe how heavy it was!  As I emptied pockets (four of them!) it soon became clear why it was so weighty.

A pile of special rocks, popsicle stick with string wrapped around it, several pens and pencils, glass beads, marble, fingernail clipper, two paperclips, a gooshie ball, wooden whistle, Crayola chapstick, Guatemala pocket knife, tape measure, little container of vaseline, four erasers, notebook from Artprize, pony tail holder, head phones, bracelet and a couple pins.  

Spring Break Part 2

Russ and Nicolas traveled with the FRC youth group to Neon, KY for a little work trip during spring break.  They worked with a group that builds home for low income families, similar to Habitat for Humanity.  Nicolas told me he helped 1) frame the house, 2) build a porch, 3) roof the house, 4) paint and roof the garage, and 5) landscape the yard.  They put in four ten-hour days with one day off when they visited Natural Bridge State Park.   During the devotional times in the evening they studied the book of Philippians.   One evening they were entertained by a Bluegrass band.  The group put in a hard week of work but managed to have lots of fun in the process.

Natural Bridge

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Break Part I

Since the family was separated over spring break (Caleb, Anna, Lydia, Seth, and I at home and Russ and Nicolas in Kentucky with the youth group) I though I would give the spring break report in two posts.  This post is what spring break was like for the stay-at-homers.

We experienced the most beautiful weather we have had all spring during spring break week.   It was it the upper 50s or 60s and sunny all week long.  Only towards the end of the week did we see a few sprinkles of rain.   The tulips began coming up, the crocuses were blooming, and the robins were singing; it just felt and smelled like spring!

The kids were more than ready to take a week off from school work.  I had been pushing them pretty hard and they were ready for a break.   Caleb still needed to attend his college class at Cornerstone (the reason he did not go to Kentucky with the youth group--he had already taken a week off when he went to Guatemala), and he faithfully went to the track every day to do the work-outs his dad/track coach gave him.

We thought of several things to do during spring break, but dismissed almost all of them knowing that since everyone else was also on spring break those places would be busy (Public Museum, Meijer Gardens, etc).  One of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to go to those places during school hours and basically have the place to yourself.   So we didn't do much, but we still had a great week.

1.  PJ Hoffmaster State Park
     We wanted to take cousin Andrew's Flat Stanley to Lake Michigan and let him experience dune climbing.  So when Monday appeared to be a beautiful sunny day, we packed up a few snacks, water, and the camera and headed to P.J. Hoffmaster State Park near Muskegon, MI.  Except for a few people way down on the beach, we had the beach and the dune to ourselves.  The lake was thawed by the shore, but several yards out it was still frozen and with the sprinkle of sand on top of the snow, it looked like sand dunes in the middle of the lake.  Caleb (with Seth on his back) and Anna decided to wade the freezing cold water out to the "sand dunes".   Just as Caleb realized these were not sand dunes, but frozen, slushy snow piles, he fell through the ice, just up to his thighs. Since we were the only ones on the beach, he just took off his jeans and spent the rest of the afternoon in his boxer shorts climbing dunes and walking trails with us.  

Those are not sand dunes, just snow and ice piles with a fine layer of sand on them.

A large portion of the lake was still ice covered

Wading out to the faux "sand dunes"

Lydia didn't make it across--the water was just too cold!

From the top of the big dune

Dune climbing!

Caleb wanted to make sure we all knew he wasn't peeing behind a tree; he just didn't want his picture taken with his boxers.

2.  Riverside Park
     We all got up early one morning, ate a quick breakfast and headed to Riverside Park to take Zoe for a walk along the river.  It was such a beautiful morning and we just enjoyed the beauty of the river.  An outing just enough out of the ordinary to be special.

3.  Cleaned up the backyard
     Our backyard looked like a war zone from all the dead twigs and land mines (Zoe poo).  So we all took rakes, gloves and plastic bags and went to work.  Since we all worked together and the weather was so awesome it was actually fun!  We could sit back and appreciate all the work we had done later that night as while we enjoyed the smores we roasted over the fire pit.

4.  Read lots of books
     We made a trip downtown to the Main library where the book selection is quite impressive.  All the kids stocked up and had plenty of reading material over the break.   Caleb recently made a list of books that he wanted to read and was able to cross a few off the list.
5.  Started research on Spring Review Project
     The FRC homeschool group put together a Spring Review for  kids to showcase their schoolwork.  Kids can participate in a handwriting or poster project on a grade assigned topic that will be scored by judges.  They can also display their projects or crafts from the school year (no scoring).  Also, a portion of the evening will be set aside for a program in which the kids can recite, sing, play an instrument, etc.  My three homeschoolers all signed up for a poster project and Lydia would also like to display some of her handwork.  We began to work on these during this week so they didn't seem to be extra work on top of our daily work later.

6.  Babysat Miles and Elin
     On Friday we helped out one of the Bleeker cousins by watching her two little ones for a few hours.  We had a great time with them, and had to laugh when after they left Lydia said, "Little kids are a lot of work!"  

 Next:  Spring Break Part 2  The Kentucky Trip

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nicolas' Birthday

Nicolas was happy his birthday landed on a Saturday.  His favorite place to be is curled up on the corner of the couch with a good book and some sort of a drink (hot chocolate, sweet tea, homemade lemonade, juice and ginger ale, but never just water).  He's working his way through Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo, the unedited version...for the second time.   When he doesn't have a new book to read (and he can't be without a book!), I think he just grabs his favorite classics and rereads them.  I wonder how many times he's read The Lord of the Rings

Except for Seth, all of the kids have moved away from traditional birthday cakes for their birthday.  Instead of asking them what kind of cake, I now ask them what kind of dessert they would like.  I have had many requests for pie, "dirt" cups, and other pudding based desserts, but until this birthday I have never had a request for coffee cake.  Nicolas requested Aunt Alyda's (Michigan Grandma's) Cherry Almond Coffee Cake.

Oh, when Nicolas isn't doing homework or reading a book, he loves to play games.  We thought he could use a new one to bug everybody to play.  

The afternoon of his birthday Nicolas joined Lydia, Seth and I at the Derby car races to see how "his" car performed.  Seth didn't want to participate this year, ("I won the whole thing last year...what's the point?") but Lydia picked up a car, chose a design, and Nicolas helped her with it.   I may have mentioned to a few of his church friends that is was his birthday and right before awards were handed out and the end of the races everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to him.   No derby awards for the car this year, but I thought it was the cutest one there...both the car and the girl.