Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Art Prize 2014

We headed to Grand Rapids to see Art Prize today.  The weather was perfect for a day outside.  Mike had taken the day off, so we were able to attend with most of the family.  We arrived around 10 in the morning, when most of the crowds hadn't arrived yet.

My children were enthralled with the variety of skulls painted on the side of a building.

I love this mosaic guitar.  It was huge and the design was very intricate.  The back looked as good as the front.

Allie and Paige loved this gigantic set of pipes.
These turtles were so cute.

Allie found a piece of the fence that had broken of the top.  They made perfect glasses.

Several years ago, we saw an exhibit at the Meijer Gardens called Juggernaut.  This exhibit reminded me of that exhibit.

Madelyn hitched a ride on Joe's shoulders.

Check out Paige's new hand!

We had a great time as usual.  I hope that we're able to go again next year.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cross Country

This cross country season was bittersweet for me.  Joe had another successful year, but at the end he told me that he doesn't think he wants to do cross country in college.  All of his friends had graduated last year, and although his team-mates were nice kids, he didn't enjoy it as much any more.

Joe at the beginning of his first home meet at the beginning of the race. 

Talking with one of his coaches at the end of the race.

It was a little warm and humid that day.
The season finished a few weeks ago, it wasn't Joe's best season, but he lettered again and received his 3rd year plaque at the award ceremony.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Carve Your World

My Etsy shop is finally beginning to pick up with sales and view.  My daughter who does a nice little income from her bun holders kept encouraging me about the time it takes to develop people looking at your items.  She helped me with labeling and provided some hints about how to move my items up on the search list.

My shop started with my hobby of letter boxing, where I create hand carved rubber stamps.  Planting letter boxes, led to creating artist cards with more hand carved stamps and I now possess over 500 hand carved rubber stamps.  I'm not selling those stamps, but I enjoy carving so much that I carve stamps for sale.  My Lutheran Rose stamps are by far my best selling items.  Probably because they are unique and aren't able to be purchased anywhere else.

For Christmas, I created some ornaments using my personal Lutheran Rose stamps. 

Because so many of us are huge Doctor Who fans, it was necessary to make Doctor Who ornaments as well.

The kids have requested particular Doctor Who villains and Doctors, so I'm busy carving more images to meet their needs.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014

It's National Novel Writing Month again!  Amy and I have been busy writing, writing and more writing.  Last year, I wrote a children's book about some of the crazy things that my children have done.  It was a pleasure to write and I enjoyed writing about the events from a child's perspective

This year, I'm writing a mystery that is producing a much greater challenge.  At one point, it was necessary to backtrack in the story, because I had forgotten to kill off my first victim!  I had spent so much energy trying to make the setting realistic that I completely forgot where the story was headed.

I'm enjoying the process of writing something completely from my imagination.  Some of the characters have become very real to me, evolving into people with their own unique personalities.  It's been surprising my outline for the story has needed to change as the characters grow. 

There are a couple of blog posts planned and partially written that I hope to complete later this week.  One involves some crafts the other a fabulous field trip. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Corn Maze

When I was 5, my family moved to Michigan from Illinois.  In all the years that we've lived in this wonderful state, I have never been to a corn maze.  They weren't a popular activity when I was a child,  but I never managed to take my own children when the mazes became a fall thing to do.  Saturday afternoon, I broke out of our weekend rut and took Paige and Allie to a corn maze.  Katie and her fiance went with us.  We dropped Madelyn off for a cheer leader event and drove to Harvest Moon Corn Maze.  It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, perfect for an afternoon outside.

Allie, Katie, Paige and George posing for a photo before the fun begins.

We had to stop to pet the goats.  Paige loves goats.  This was her favorite part of the day.

After tearing ourselves away from the goats, we did the 'Lil Maze.  Katie and I took opposite turns at each choice to see who would get through the maze first.  We tied.

Paige on the corn slide.

Allie's turn!

Overcoming our fears of giant spiders.

Beginning our trip through the large maze.

Alison and Paige leading the way through the maze.

Finally, we made our way out of the maze.  Allie felt it necessary to kiss the ground!

Persevering to the end!

It was a fun afternoon, and we can all cross "Going to a Corn Maze" off our Bucket List.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

School Year

We're fully into our school year and almost all of our extra curricular activities have started.  Overall, I'm pleased with most of the choices we made for curriculum this year.  One mistake I did made was to purchase the wrong grades of our math program for Paige and Alison.  We switched to Singapore Math this year for them.  The day I went shopping, I grabbed the 5th and 7th grade books.  Paige is in 6th grade this year; Allie is in 4th grade.  Paige is able to do the 7th grade work because so much of middle school math is review.  Allie wasn't able to skip 4th grade and do the 5th grade work.  I returned to the store and picked up the 4th grade Singapore and an extra multiplication workbook for her.  Both girls seem to like the way the material is organized and presented,

Madelyn is doing Teaching Textbooks for her math again this year.  It's been a good fit for her.  She understands the content and completes the assignments in a reasonable amount of time.  Sometimes, my expectations are to high for math.  It's really difficult to love math and have children who don't share that interest/ability. I'm glad that we invested in this curriculum and will use it for Paige and Allie when they reach high school in a few years. 

Cheerleading classes were changed to Sunday evening, as well as an additional tumbling class.  Sunday night is my least favorite time for children's activities.  We love her coach and Madz is gaining many new skills, so we will continue the classes.  Paige and Allie have added cheer to their activities.  Their classes are on Thursday nights.  Madelyn helps coach the Thursday night classes, so at least they will all be at the same location. Mike has offered to help run them on Thursday nights this year. 

Joe is busy with cross country, driver's training, and school.  His senior year isn't shaping up to be what he wanted, but he's making the best of it.  Several of his AP classes were cancelled and the school offers no additional math classes for him.  He's taking welding for two hours in the morning.  The welding class is offered at another high school in the county, so he rides the bus for 1 1/2 hours for 30 minutes of welding class.  (Seems like a waste of time to me, but he's out of options.) 

Katie is back at Grand Valley State.  She comes home every week from Friday morning-Sunday night because she works at the local Home Depot on the weekend.  She seems happy with her classes and teachers.  She's rooming with one girl from last year and two new girls, both of them named Sierra.

Steve received several scholarships at SWMU which pay for all his music classes and private lessons.  We're so thankful for all the scholarships that he's received.  The private classes are very expensive.  He's still working 5 days a week at Dairy Queen.

Paige and Allie are taking dance classes at the same studio as last year.  I like the instruction, but the drive is a killer for me.  We did manage to have all the classes Saturday mornings this year, so hopefully it will be better this year.  The Saturday morning classes have been staggered which should help with the parking lot congestion.  The parking lot has also been partially resurfaced.  There are also fewer obstacles in the driving lane.  There were several accidents in the lot last year (including when I was rear-ended), hopefully these changes will make the parking lot less treacherous.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Shark Aquarium Las Vegas Nevada Day 2

After our sojourn in the gardens of Mandalay Bay, we walked over to the Shark Aquarium.  The previous day, we had been unable to get a parking spot. Because we arrived an hour before the aquarium opened, we were able to snag a good spot.  Breakfast and sight seeing used up that hour pleasantly and we were able to see the sea creatures before the aquarium got to busy.

There were tour guides who walked with guests throughout the exhibit to answer questions.  There were people in our group wouldn't let anyone but themselves look at the exhibit while the guide was speaking.  When the guide moved on, they followed.  We weren't able to hear anything, so we quietly passed them by and walked through the aquarium at our own pace.

First stop was the Komodo Dragon.  He was quite large and a little intimidating to us non-reptile lovers.

We saw a vide variety of different types of fish. 

We were thrilled when we saw our first shark!  There were several different varieties of sharks on exhibit.

Katie was busy taking photographs.  Madelyn's camera/phone ran out of storage.

There was a shallow open tank containing rays that were able to be touched or stroked by visitors.  I was the first one in our party to touch one.  Madelyn refused to touch it.  

I spent a lot of time watching the jellyfish.  They were beautiful floating around the tank, opening and closing.

The starfish were huge inside the starfish tanks.

After a couple of hours, we left the aquarium happy to have enjoyed all the beautiful sea creatures while visiting the desert.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Las Vegas Day 2

We were out the door early and headed to McDonald's for breakfast.  I wanted to get some pictures of the pyramid and sphinx, so after we ate we walked a few blocks to get photos. 

There is a person repelling down the side of the pyramid. 

Then we walked back to the Shark Aquarium and enjoyed the gardens of Mandalay Bay.

The gardens were beautiful and truly an oasis in the heat.  There were several water features and many lush plants.

Madelyn had to do a flexibility pose in the center of the medallion on the sidewalk.  She obviously hadn't stretched out yet.

It was about 20 degrees cooler in the gardens.

Madelyn and Kaitlyn under one of the arches.

Our last view of the gardens before heading off to the Shark Aquarium.