Sunday, June 29, 2014

Update on Move

We have been out to Idaho to look for housing and are now back in Grand Rapids.  During that 10-14 day stretch that we were gone, we sold our home in Michigan and are in the process of purchasing a home in Boise.   Caleb, Anna, and Seth made the entire trip with us while Nicolas and Lydia opted to stay in Iowa with Grandpa and Grandma and cousins.  Here are a few photos of the scenery along the way--most of it in western Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho.  Almost all were taken in the van, courtesy of Seth. (He must not have found anything photo-worthy in Nebraska?) I can't begin to tell you how many pictures I had to delete from my memory card, but taking pictures did keep him occupied on the trip for awhile. 

The picture above and below were both taken at the DeJong home near Boise, ID

On our way back from house shopping in Boise we stayed a few days in Iowa and were able to celebrate Father's Day with my Dad.  We are all loving his new table game, Skittles.

The travel, buying and selling of homes, packing and purging has been somewhat overwhelming.  Sometimes I feel as if I am living someone else's life, as reality has not set in.   But when I stop a moment at let it sink in that this little time of our life is over and we will be saying good-bye to good seminary, school, and church friends; our sweet home; and our routine as we know it, I need to have a good cry (usually when I'm tired).   My dear summer Bible study group, however, affirmed that I was "normal" and it would be strange if I didn't shed a few tears.  Most of the time, though, I am pretty excited about following the Lord's leading on this new adventure.  

When is our actual move date?  

We plan to move out of our home on July 25, spend a week at Big Sand in Park Rapids, MN, make a quick trip to Iowa to pick up our pets, and then once more embark on the long trek to Boise.  Russ plans to preach his first sermon at Cloverdale URC on Aug 10th.

What are we doing between now and then? 

                1) Bugging dear Simon in Boise and Teresa in Iowa with housing stuff

                2) Packing the house and filling up the Goodwill donation bins

                3) Making a trip or two to Lake Michigan

                4) Mowing lawns (Caleb and Nicolas)

                5) Working for the seminary's library project (Russ, Caleb, and Nicolas)

                6) Working some final days at Spectrum Health (me)

                7) Travelling to Indianapolis for a fellow seminary student's ordination (Russ)

                8) Improving soccer skills at Northpointe's soccer camp (Caleb and Nicolas)

                9)  Playing with neighbor friends and swimming in their pool (Seth)

               10) Reading and racking up minutes for the library program (Anna mostly, but Lydia and Seth are also doing their fair share)

               11) Hosting the youth group every other week for Bible study and fellowship

               12) Enjoying Behold Your God Bible study series on Mon nights with a few BSF friends (me)

               13) Spearheading the FRC's neighborhood Bible school (at least for a few more weeks) on Wed nights (me)

               14)  Reading to prepare for ordination (Russ)

               15)  Going bowling, attending a Whitecaps game, watching FIFA soccer in the movie theater, and doing lots of other things with Northpointe friends (Caleb and Nicolas)

               16)  Practicing cello and violin music for cousin Grant's wedding in Kentucky on July 19 (Caleb and Nicolas)

               17)  Preparing a message for same wedding (Russ)

               18)  Dog sitting for the Macleod's for several weeks (Zoe is doing great with this dog!)

               19)  Finishing up old crochet projects (me) and starting a new one (Lydia)

               20) Trying hard to fix meals that will empty out our freezer and refrigerator!  (me)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Homeschool Weeks 25-34

This post is quite overdue and I thought about just skipping it, but for the sake of completeness I figured I had better finish the year.  

From week 25-30 we finished up our regular history/social studies unit learning about opium in China, Emperor Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars including the famous Battle of Waterloo.  We studied more African history (specifically in South Africa--the Zulu Kingdom and the Boers and the British), the history of Mexican independence, the revolutions in South America, and the histories of Haiti and New Zealand.

Back in the United States we covered the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark's exploration of the West, The Trail of Tears and Nat Turner's Revolt, The Alamo in 1836 (I never knew that Davy Crockett died in this fight...), and the California Gold Rush.  We also discussed some of the important inventions of this time such as Samuel Morse and his Morse Code.  So much was changing in the world during this time both in industry and in ideas, so we learned about the Luddites (those against change and technology) and the work of the abolitionists.  

Activities for some of the above topics:  We read The Captain's Dog which is the story of Lewis and Clark's expedition told from the perspective of Lewis's dog, Seaman.  We also watched a DVD of a reenactment of Lewis and Clark's exploration and drew their route on a map.  After studying the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812 we listened to the 1812 Overture which honored Russia's triumph over Napoleon and learned of the history of our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.  When studying Alabama we learned about George Washington Carver and his ingenuity regarding peanuts and sweet potatoes, so we made sweet potato pie (Anna loved it because it tastes just like pumpkin pie!).  When studying some of the history of Africa we cooked up African groundnut sauce (tasty over rice!), and did a little Morse Code activity when we studied Samuel Morse.
Putting together all the little booklets to complete their lapbook

Other notable people that we read about in more detail:  Abigail Adams, John Marshall, Charles Pinckney, William Carey, Charles Finney, John Newton, various missionaries on the Oregon Trail.

States we added to our states book:  Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, California

Presidents we added to our presidents book:  John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James Polk, Zachary Taylor.  Russ has an old special edition Time magazine that highlights in just one page the important aspects of each president.  We usually tried to read through this to get a few more interesting tidbits about their lives before, during and after presidency. As mentioned previously, we will complete this booklet next year when we study the rest of the presidents.  

Read aloud:  Bound for Oregon, a story of the Oregon Trail.

In science we continued our study of plants.   We did the "celery in colored water" experiment to show the importance of stems in transporting water.   We tried to do a little experiment in our light box to show that plants are phototrophic or "light-seeking", but it did not work for us that well.  We did have some nice bean plants though!  The kids had fun studying the various marking on twigs to find the bud scars, etc and drew pictures of their twigs and labeled them.   When studying about the covering of trees the kids made bark rubbings and learned how these can be used for tree identification.    We finished up the year studying about gymnosperms  Our favorite activity was finding closed pine cones in the yard, putting them in the oven, and watching them open up.  They smelled awesome!  We ended our botany unit studying ferns and nonvascular plants such as liverworts.  As always, we enjoyed a trip to Blandford to see some of these nonvascular plants growing next to and on trees.

The last few weeks (31-34) we did not have any scheduled science or history.  We worked at completing our math, English, and spelling for the year and then used our science and history time to research and complete a state report.  Lydia chose Iowa, Seth chose Idaho, and Anna chose Oregon.  The completed booklets contain information in the following areas:  how the state got its name, early historical facts, journey toward statehood, physical features of the state, political features, state flag, state bird and flower, weather/climate, state resources, national parks/historical sites, famous people from the state, state government, and the economy.

The kids all completed a poster project for the homeschool fair that was held while we were in Idaho the end of April.  Thankfully, Grandpa and Grandma were able to take them that night.  They did most of the work on these posters during spring break week when we took a week off from our regular school work.

We did complete one of Seth's other projects from his Sign of the Beaver unit--making corn husk dolls.   Dad still needs to help Seth make his own bow and arrow.  We have all the supplies so now we just need the time.

Last but not least...we finished our study of and memorization of the book of James.  I think we can recite chapters 1-3 extremely well.  Chapter 4 may be a little more shaky and Chapter 5 pretty much breaks down at the last ten verses.   I wanted to continue to review during bedtime family worship this summer, but with our crazy schedule of buying and selling houses and traveling it just isn't happening.  Now that we are back in one place for a month maybe we can scrape the rust of our memory and review each night.

Oh, and the kids are doing this next week:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Track 2014

We had a terribly rough start to the track season since we had so much snow on the ground and it stayed unseasonably cool through the entire month of March.  We ended up not having any meets until after spring break which was the first full week of April.  After that we usually had two dual meets a week and occasionally an invitational on Saturday.  Caleb ran the 800m, both open and in the 3200m relay.  He also filled in the 1 mile when we needed to score some extra meet points.  Every once in awhile he would make up a leg of the 4 x 400m relay.  Nicolas stuck to shorter distances, usually the 200m and 400m.  Both boys really started to show improvement in times as the season ended.  It would have been nice to have the season extended one or two more weeks...but only because their training was finally paying off.  

As a team, we did much better than the previous two years.  Russ and I both felt as though we were more of a legitimate team (both in numbers and in talent) and able to actually compete with the schools in our conference.   The state qualifiers included a high jumper, two long jumpers, and a distance runner in both the mile and two mile.  

Caleb and Nicolas early in the season (both above and below)

Coach Cottle helped us out this year and drove the bus for every meet.

Look at that determination!   Later in the season pictures.  Both boys were much stronger and you can see it in their faces.

Passing the baton in the 4 x 400

Memorial Day Weekend

Ever since Russ accepted the call to pastor the Cloverdale URC in Boise, ID, I have been dreading getting the house ready to sell.   When the realtor came a little over a week ago and said he would give us two weeks to get the house ready for the photographer and, ultimately, for sale, I literally panicked.  I sent out an SOS to Bryan and Becca and they very graciously gave up their Memorial Day weekend to help us out.  I found that this odious task was made much, much more pleasant by having them here with their expertise, energy, humor, and positive attitude.    Not sure they would agree on the "pleasantness" of the task.   After they left, I felt we had accomplished enough that all the remaining tasks were now manageable.  They certainly helped get us "over the hump" for packing and purging.   

The photographer came today and the house will be listed by Friday.  Hopefully, we have some interested buyers!

The girls are emptying Russ' old files for the "paper gator".  Miah was a great help in getting my kids to get rid of things they would never use again!

Getting a new color on a couple of the family room walls

Hanging the curtains and curtain rods.  He is excited about this.

Sorting and packing the basement stuff

Becca training Caleb on the art of distressing an old painted frame

On that Saturday Becca and Miah were even able to attend the Herman family recital.  Since we are missing the recital in June because we will be in Iowa/Idaho, Amy (piano teacher) arranged a recital at one of the nursing homes.  The kids were able to play several pieces and the boys and Lydia even got out the string instruments.  Nicolas has a cello recital tonight and then we are finished with programs, recitals and all other spring commitments.  Yeah!

The music students with Amy.  Nicolas no longer takes piano lessons, but Amy did teach him the first two years we were in Michigan.