Saturday, March 28, 2015

Salt Lake City, Utah

As mentioned on a previous post, I attended a continuing education conference in Salt Lake City a couple weekends ago.  We left on Thursday afternoon and I sat in class all day Friday and Saturday while Russ and the three younger kids hung out at the hotel and explored the area.   

View from the hotel window

One of the main attractions in Salt Lake City is the LDS Temple Square.  Russ and the kids explored this on Friday afternoon as it was just walking distance from our hotel. 

Since only "baptized members who are qualified and prepared" can enter the temple they just walked around the grounds.

The century old Assembly Hall

Definitely spring in Salt Lake City

Inside the Assembly Hall where they give daily concerts

Inside the Mormon Tabernacle

After Russ and the kids picked me up from the hospital where the conference was held we detoured on a side street to get this picture of the Capitol building.  Love the little boy in the bottom left corner.
We took the picture of the Capitol building then just turned around and took this picture of the beautiful mountains.

We walked by the stadium on our way to supper Friday night.

Saturday Russ and the kids explored Cottonwood Canyon which is about 30 minutes south of Salt Lake City.  They love hiking and the weather was amazing.

They love this picture because it shows how high they climbed.

Evidently, Lydia fell into this cactus and had a bugger of a time getting the spines out of her leg.  She had a bunch of nice little puncture wounds on her leg for a few days.

When they got back from the Canyon, I wasn't out of class yet so they had a picnic by the Capitol building and then explored the grounds and inside.

They picked me up around 4:30 and we grabbed a bite to eat before heading home to the big boys!  First time experiencing an In-N-Out Burger.

It's Official

With thankful hearts and gratitude to God...

Ordination scheduled Friday, April 17 at 7:00 at Cloverdale URC.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Since we are taking a homeschool spring break along with the big boys I thought I could take some time to update the blog and what everyone is up to.  

Caleb:  This boy has been extremely busy with college stuff:  essays, forms, scholarship applications, etc.  He is relieved to have finally made the decision to attend Dordt College next school year.   He was pretty sure this was where he wanted to attend, but then began to waver a little when he found out he was a finalist for the Michigan Medical Scholarship at Calvin.  They contacted him regarding being in the interview stage the night before he flew out to Grand Rapids to meet the Guatemala team.  Since he knew the interviews were scheduled the weekend he was in Guatemala he assumed he would be ineligible.  While en-route to GR they called to tell us that they wanted to interview him the  next day while he was in town.  He had planned to meet with an admissions counselor and the pre-med adviser over lunch, but it turned into a full-fledged scholarship interview.  Last Monday he found out he did not receive the scholarship, so he is back with Dordt and quite pleased with that decision.   We love the fact that he will be near family next year--it will make the parting slightly less painful...maybe?

He had another great trip to Guatemala.  If you see him, ask him about the trip.  He did put together another video of the week.   You can access it here on youtube.  He missed the first few track practices while in Guatemala so was unable to participate in the first track meet (Idaho has a rule that you have to attend 10 practices before the first event).  He did run his first meet last Thursday night and seems to be off to a good start in the 800m.

It has been a blessing to watch him enjoy his senior year in a new school.  He has made some good friends here and still keeps in contact with his friends from NorthPointe--one of the wonderful things about social media today!  If fact, he was able to get together with several NP friends while he was in GR and he said they picked right up where they left off.   

Over spring break we plan to do some "senior" things:  order some senior pictures and graduation invites to graduation and plan his party.  

After working on his rat trap car for Physics all Saturday morning and still not getting the 30 feet needed to get an "A", it became a family project.  He was happy to report that it went 53 feet in the high school gym the next week.  I think we all get an "A".

Nicolas:  This boy, as I may have mentioned before, is even more social than his brother.  What we have also noticed is that he has grown just a little more sassy.  But he delivers his sass with just the cutest smile that absolutely no one can be upset with him...except his mother, of course, who is immune to his charm.  Just kidding.  He has fit into Cole Valley very well and has had many opportunities to socialize.  He still keeps busy with the Boise Philharmonic Youth Orchestra on Monday evenings, along with cello lessons.  He also has been observing at a small animal vet clinic in town which he absolutely loves.  He plans to apply for a summer job there as soon as he turns 16 (Sunday!).  We finally got the ball rolling on driver's ed here in Idaho and he just finished all his course work so can begin driving with an instructor.  I am not quite ready to have another driver, but if he gets a job, it certainly will be nice for him to toodle himself around.  Right now track has started so he is working on perfecting his 400m time.  We'll make sure to do a track blog as the season progresses.

Anna:  Anna had her braces put on last week and couldn't be cuter.  She seriously looks so sweet in them!  After a few days of discomfort she has adjusted well.  Since her teeth are not in awful shape they estimate she will only have them on about a year.  After much blood, sweat, tears, we finally talked Anna into running track for a homeschool track club through the Idaho Christian Running Club.  Lydia and Seth were excited...Anna not so much.  I even cried (to Russ) after the first few practices (we only meet on Mon and Wed afternoons and have about 5 track meets) because I knew how hard it was for her, how much she didn't want to do it, and the fact that she was doing it just to please Russ and I.   I am happy to report that she has completed several workouts and is very proud of herself.  I wouldn't go so far to say she is "enjoying" track, but she doesn't hate it either.  I was able to talk her into going out for track by saying the meets were optional.  We have our first meet tonight and she is even considering running the 200m!!   I love to see her trying something new and having some success.  She does love her piano, though.  We noticed that a girl on the track team is missing part of her middle finger, and Anna admitted to me later that she "would just die if she was missing part of a finger and couldn't play the piano."  She has really improved over this last year and I sometimes have to look to see if it is Caleb or Anna playing.

Lydia:  Lydia is like a pig in mud on the track.  She has her daddy's stamina and is just a natural runner.  I don't think I have ever really seen her breathe hard.  She is planning to run the 100m, 200m, and 400m tonight.  My only regret is that Russ will not be home to see the kids run in their first track meet.  (More on that below).  Lydia also is still working on the violin and piano, but is not as good as practicing.  She would prefer to roller blade with Seth, draw pictures in her sketchbook, or play with Anna.  

Lydia made this for Russ and I while we were in Florida.  Think she missed having her family together?

The girls made necklaces out of the shells we picked off the beach in Florida

Seth:  Not too much new on this kid.  We are glad he has an inhaler so he can participate in track.  He takes a few puffs before practice and has not had any problems.  He is planning to long jump and run the 100m and 200m tonight.  He takes everything so seriously and his running is no exception.  He concentrates hard on his form and speed and is very compliant with the coach's instructions.  Where is that child at home?!?  Since the weather has been beautiful he does spend quite a bit of time outside rollerblading with Lydia.  That is good since ice cream is his favorite food.

Russ:  Currently, my dear husband is in Washington preparing for his final two exams for ordination.  We are praying all will go well and he can be officially ordained in April.  He will be so glad to put this study behind him as the exams have been hovering over him and pulling him away from sermon preparation, visiting church members, starting a men's study group, and getting a confession of faith class off the ground.  He is looking forward to, well, moving forward.  As the kids all participate in track this spring I think he misses coaching.  Some of the boys' coaches are first-timers and have given him permission to assist and give input.  He could hardly hold himself back from giving other kids advice on their long-jumping technique at the last track meet.  "Um, they have a coach, honey."  It was just too funny.  

Me:   Last weekend I was able to earn 20 CEUs at a conference in Salt Lake City which is about 4.5-5 hrs south of Boise.  Russ and the younger three came along and explored the area while I sat in class (more on that in another post).  The older two had a track meet and school so they took care of the house and pets for us.  

We have all enjoyed our new den area.   Caleb texted us one noon hour (they can leave campus and often browse the local Goodwill) that the Goodwill had a nice, clean leather couch for sale.  Russ went to look at in while we were at BSF and ended up buying it without me even seeing it.  Pretty brave... When they got it home and I found out there was a matching love seat, we went back to buy that and a $15 end table which Caleb painted.  Caleb also turned two $1 wooden TV trays into rolling shelves/end tables (painted them black, built a shelf on the bottom, and put wheels on them).  Seth and Lydia can store their homeschool things on the bottom and we can use the tops as end tables.  We no longer have an official homeschool table, but have managed just fine.  The only problem is that the kids now insist we need a bigger TV...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Seven Month Musings

Now that we have been in Boise a little over seven months we have a few observations about this place that we now call home.

1. From Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day I am not sure the sun shines that much more in Boise than it did in Grand Rapids.  Most of January and December was cloudy, and many of those days we were able to experience the dreaded "inversion".  An inversion is when the cold air is trapped in the valley while the warmer air sits on top.  It is characterized by lots of fog and air pollution from wood-burning stoves, etc.  What is interesting is that it can be 20 degrees in the valley but if you drive up to Bogus Basin (one of the highest points and where the skiing is located) it can be sunny and 40 degrees.   The inversion stays until a strong front moves it through.  What annoys both Russ and I is that many Boise drivers do not turn on their lights during an inversion.  I have never lived in a place where over half of the vehicles do not have their lights on in foggy conditions!

2.  We have a Midwest accent.  Evidently, when you say words like "tag", "bag", "wagon", "dragon" with a long "a" like "tayg" or "waygon" instead of the short "a" sound, it is a tell-tale sign you are from the Midwest.  My kids have been given many a blank look when they offer to play "tayg" with their friends.  Interestingly, those from the Boise area pronounce "apricot" with a long "a" and correct our children when we use the short a...

3.  Most of those native to Boise do not care if you pronounce their city's name "boy-zee" or "boy-see".  The latter one is correct, but I have never had anyone correct me (maybe they are just too nice?)  Russ has occasionally had the comment, "You are not a native!" when pronouncing it wrong.

4.  Driving distances are always given in time, not miles.  We did experience this somewhat in GR, as well, because I think it  just characterizes city driving.  I remember many years ago when my California cousins visited Iowa, they made a comment on the fact that we gave driving distance in miles, not time.  If it was 12 miles to Orange would take you about 12 minutes.  No need to give a time.  Here, and with most city driving, miles mean nothing.  You can be 3 miles from Walmart, but if you hit the stoplights wrong, or go during times of high traffic it can take you 15 minutes.  Incidentally, when we ask about how far certain places are we invariably get the answer, "about 20 minutes."  

5.  In most of the places we have lived there is a pretty good distinction between city and country.  Not so in Boise.   Probably due primarily to new development, it still takes me by surprise.  One of the biggest shopping areas is across the street from a corn field.  And it is not at all unusual to pass several subdivisions and then an acreage or two with livestock/horses followed by a couple more subdivisions.  

6.  Driving with bicyclers may take some adjustment.  Just the sheer amount of people who bike to their destinations or just as a form of exercise is significantly greater than I am accustomed to.  Most major roads have bicycle lanes; however, at some intersections you have to yield to the biker on your right when you take a right turn.  Usually, when you are taking a right turn on green you don't yield to anyone, and because they come up so fast, well, let's just say I need to be more diligent and observant.

7. BSU attire and cowboy boots.  No more to say about that.

8.  Before we moved when people told us there was lots of hiking just minutes from our house we immediately thought of Oak Grove, trail hiking, woods, etc.  Not exactly.  Most of the hiking closest to our home is all treeless foothills.  Barren.  Desert.  You need to go up quite a bit to hit that tree line and have the "Oak Grove" experience.  

8.  I don't think I will ever tire of the landscape.  The mountains and foothills still take my breath away on those beautiful clear days.  So different from anywhere else I have lived... I know, a whopping two places:).

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Gems Mother/Daughter Night

The girls and I enjoyed a night out with the other moms, grandmas, and friends from GEMS.  Not everyone had a Grandma join them, so Lydia felt much better about that (she had tears when making the party favors at another GEMS night because we live so far away from Grandma).  The theme was "Having Purse-on-ality" and all guests brought a favorite purse.  We first had a fun fashion show skit with some very interesting purses--a light purse, cereal bag purse, and the pillow purse--just to name a few.  Anna survived the purse "fashion" show (she had tears as she dreaded getting up in front of people to "show" a purse).    I know, very emotional girls:)  We played some fun games:  What's in Your Purse, Hot Potato Musical Purse, and they also gave prizes for things like oldest purse, largest and smallest purse, and strangest thing in a purse.  

The cute party favors

I brought the purse my Grandma H. crocheted me for my wedding, Lydia brought the purse Grandma B. made for Anna (she wants one of her own...Hint:), and Anna brought the purse Caleb bought in Guatemala.

Anna won for the purse that "most matches your outfit":

Lydia won the Hot Potato Purse game for our table:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Orlando/Ligonier National Conference

Except for our trip out to Boise to interview at Cloverdale URC, Russ and I had not taken a trip together for several years.   Since the church pays for one conference or education trip for Russ each year, we decided to take advantage of still having Caleb home and make a trip together this year.  The topics and line-up of speakers at the Ligonier National Conference and the connections to awesome accommodations and fellowship in Orlando made the decision easy.  The hardest part was leaving the kids behind!  For three of the days someone from the church picked the younger three kids up around 9:00 and dropped them back off around 3:00.  The boys came home around 4:00 and then they were on their own until the next morning.  Nicolas stayed home from school on Friday with the kids. Nicolas had an BPYO concert on Saturday afternoon, so we left Orlando early Saturday morning and were back in Boise by 12:30.   It was a bummer to miss the last few talks, but I wouldn't have missed the concert for the world.  They sounded great...and it was our turn to take tickets.  

We arrived in Orlando early (for the conference) and enjoyed a day at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near the Kennedy Space Center.  Of course, even as we enjoyed a break from day to day parenting, we were wishing our kids were with us to see all the fascinating birds, to count the gators, and pick shells off the beach.  

These little guys are so ugly they're cute...

 Osprey making a nest...

Marilyn worked hard to get a picture of this feral pig...

Picnic lunch at the Visitor Center...

The conference theme this year was "After Darkness, Light."  It was a call to the church to continue to be light in a dark and increasing secular world.   The speakers included:  Alistair Begg, Rosaria Butterfield, Tim Challies, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Peter Jones, Steven Lawson, Russell Moore, Stephen Nichols, R.C. Sproul Jr., and R.C. Sproul.  I think you can still watch the entire conference on-line here.

Mom and Dad with the couples they met on the Alaskan cruise...

One of the highlights of the trip for me was the concert on Wednesday night at St. Andrews chapel.  R.C. Sproul wrote hymns that were orchestrated by Jeff Lippencott.  The combination of beautiful music and meaningful lyrics made for an extremely worshipful experience.   You can order yourself a copy of the music here.  I bought four to give as gifts and all recipients have come back to tell me how much they appreciate the music.

St. Andrew's--R.C. Sproul's church

We wanted to be sure to say hello to Kevin DeYoung while we were at the conference, but it was hard to find him.  We finally just decided to get in his book signing line one night.  I had his book Taking God at His Word along to read on the plane so I just grabbed that to make our presence in the line legit.  Unfortunately, I had the dust jacket on wrong so he signed the book on the back cover...upside down.   It is a good thing we were more interested in just seeing him and saying hi than having a book signed!

All in all, the trip was a wonderful a time of spiritual refreshment and renewal. The weather didn't really cooperate since it was only in the 50s most days (and 70s both the day we arrived and the day we left!), but that was okay since we were inside most of the time anyway.  I loved being able to see Mom and Dad and meet the others that stayed in the house.   I didn't even worry too much about the kids!  (They did great, by the way.)