Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year, New Start

I love the idea of resolutions.  I even love making the resolutions.  What I don't love and what I don't do well is actually keeping my resolutions.  So last year I skipped the uncomfortable feeling of failing in my resolutions by just not making any.  Except I saw my husband keeping his resolutions and his feeling of accomplishment, so now I want to make some of my own this year, and actually keep them.  That's the tricky part.

I read this article over on Tim Challies' blog and I really liked what Jon Bloom had to say about resolutions.  First, resolutions are Biblical:
That by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith (2 Thessalonians 1:11).
I love how the NIV translates that verse,"your every desire for goodness."  I think that's such a great way to define the word resolution.  The ESV translates it "every resolve for good."
Second, Bloom says, "Resolves are intentions with strategies attached to them."  It's great to make a long list of worthy resolutions, but how likely are you to keep them if you don't plan how you are going to do it. 
But most importantly, Bloom exhorts us not to "pursue selfish ambitions but to pursue love."  Look at I Corinthians 14:1 which says, "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."  And then verse 3 says, "But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort."  Our resolutions should be for others' benefit, as well as ourselves.  Read Bloom's whole article here.

I think Paul's words in I Corinthians 9:24-27 speak to resolutions also:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

So this year I will make resolutions with a plan.  How about you?  Let's keep each other accountable this year as we run the race that God has set before us.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Child Is This!

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.

Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
             ~What Child Is This

Monday, December 23, 2013

Guess who loves broccoli??

Hmm, green stuff.  Guess we can try that.

I like it, Mom!  I really do!

Luke totally skipped the pureed baby food stage and plunged whole heartedly into solid food.  He is eating two meals a day now, plus 3-4 bottles.  His favorites are string cheese, banana, bread, gold fish, turkey, and now we can add broccoli and roast beef.  He has started doing a little army crawl to reach things he really wants, like Aunt Aimee's iphone.  At his 9 month appointment today (yes, technically he's about 10 months but we are a little behind around here), he weighed almost 19 lbs and was on the longer end of the spectrum of height.  He's a healthy, growing boy, except in the hair department!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

VanDen Toorn Christmas

Last Saturday was the annual VanDen Toorn Christmas get-together in the school gym.  The family from Indiana made it too, despite the nasty weather.  

The boys love going to play in the gym.

Cousin Caylee with Luke.

Aunt Shell and Luke (he got passed around a bit!).

Chris with cousin Eric.

Uncle Nate and Aaron.

Uncle Nate holding Luke for about the 4th time since Luke was born.

My dad and Uncle Ben.

Luke and cousin Amy (are we seeing a trend in these pictures??).

Cousin Audrey and Aunt Wanda.

This was hysterically funny.  Chris lifted Joel up to dunk the ball and Joel grabbed onto the edge of the basketball hoop and would not let go.  Even when Chris threatened to leave him hanging, Joel could not let go of the hoop.   Finally, cousin Caylee tickled him and he dropped right down.  Smart girl!

Noah ran around like a crazy boy the whole time.

Cousin Krista has Joel and Aaron enthralled.  

Aaron was pretty interested in the girl toys.  He doesn't see those things too much!

There were plenty of goodies to satisfy Joel's sweet tooth.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fall Field Trip

In October we went on a nature walk field trip at Grand River Park in Jenison.  It was beautiful!  I didn't even know that park was there but it has wonderful walking trails through woods and fields.

The kids had a nature scavenger hunt to do while we walked.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Around here lately

Just normal days around here lately.  I have 3 boys doing school every day now so the mornings fly by.  We do a Bible story together, then I start Andrew on his math and send him downstairs to his desk.  Joel, Noah, and I sit together at the table and I do math with both of them at the same time (which doesn't always work).  Aaron zooms around the house, stops for a hug or a kiss occassionally, and disappears, only to reappear later, sometimes with a sheepish look on his face.

And this little boy...

is pretty happy most of the time.  He finally cut his first tooth on the bottom, but wasn't real fussy.  He usually naps in the morning so I can get school done, but if he is awake, he is pretty happy to bounce around in his exersaucer or snack in the highchair.

A couple of weeks ago we had 9 kids at dinner time!  Good thing they all behaved!  Uncle Chris is reading them a story before bed.

Last Friday, our homeschool group had a science fair so the boys showed what they knew about the five classes of animals.  Perhaps we should start a bit earlier next time?  One of my friends, who has homeschooled for years and has a child in college, said that her oldest who is through with homeschooling said, "Mom, you're just teaching them to procrastinate!"  :-)

Lock him up,  he's too cute!  I'm certain that's what his brothers were thinking when they did this.

Luke, 1 month

 Luke, 8 months

The monkey hat fits a bit differently now!  (And Auntie Alice has superior lighting skills when it comes to taking pics!)

The story of our trip to the Creation Museum (and how we went from driving a Ford Econoline to a Dodge Caravan)

 The seminary has a reading break in October so this was the perfect time for us to take a vacation since Chris didn't have to be around to record classes.  Plus, there was an awesome coupon for homeschooling families at the Creation Museum which got us in for less than half price.

We left at about 6 AM on a Thursday.  I was thinking we'd drive for a couple hours and stop for breakfast around 8.

First stop:  6:20 AM.  Joel had to go to the bathroom and the driver was hungry already.  So McDonalds in Zeeland it was!  Luke's pretty happy about it.

Unfortunately, about 2 1/2 hours later, our carefree vacation bliss was dashed when our van started making a horrible thumping noise around Indianapolis.

Is this a waiting area at a Ford dealership?  Why, yes, it is!  We spent the afternoon here getting the spark plug replaced on our van.  Davey Crockett to the rescue!

Luke (and all the boys) was a trooper.

After about 2 hours, the dealership took pity on us and drove us to the local mall.  We ate the food court, which we actually love to do since everyone can get what they like, and the boys got to run around a bit.  Actually, this was probably one of the best parts of their trip.

Luke liked it too!

So after about 4 hours at the dealership, they informed us that our van was all fixed up and we were good to go!  We didn't think too much about the slightly rough way the van was running.

We stayed in Cincinnati and went right over the border to the Creation Museum in Kentucky the next day.  The museum is a beautiful building and the exhibits are very well done, but we quickly discovered that our children were a bit too young to really appreciate it.  They enjoyed looking at the dinosaurs, but there is a lot of reading to do with the exhibits.  We were constantly calling them back to come and see something or just wait so we could read some things.

I think this is the only pic I took inside the museum and this was at the very end on the way out.

We did find a really nice science curriculum in the gift shop for the boys.  But FYI, it's a little cheaper on

They have beautiful trails and gardens outside.  We spent just as much time walking around outside as we did inside.

Here's Chris attempting to get the boys to slow down and observe.

Really gorgeous landscaping.  And we had great weather.

I'm not sure if the lights were for Christmas coming up or for outdoor lighting.

Our 4 dinosaurs!

Joel meeting a zorse (zebra + horse).

Aaron feeding the zedonk (zebra + donkey).

Noah with some strange looking fowl.

Andrew's turn.

That evening Chris decided to take us to Waffle House, his favorite restaurant in the south.  On the way there, we noticed blue smoke coming out of the exhaust and the van was running pretty rough.  After consulting with a few mechanics in the family, we decided to light out for home the next day and head towards Lafayette, IN, where my aunt lives where we would bail if we didn't think the red beast would make it home.  But even though it was running rough, it seemed to keep on going and we made it all the way home.  On Monday, we took it to the local Ford dealership (and forked out another 100 bucks for them to just look at it), only to be told that we needed a new engine which would cost $6400!  Um, no thanks!  Turns out the first Ford dealership knew that our engine was on life support, but somehow that wasn't communicated to us and it wasn't in the paperwork.  So we sold our red beast on craigslist for a song and bought a new-to-us minivan (which I'm pretty pleased with), and our trip to KY will forever be remembered as "that" trip!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Days of Thanks: Day 1

Some of my blessings that I am thankful for, in no particular order:

#1: My Grandma Roffel's patterned sheets.  Feel so cozy compared to plain sheets.

#2: Chubby baby cheeks.

#3: An automatic dishwasher.

#4: Michigan's four seasons.  I'm getting ready to see some snowflakes floating through the air.

#5: 5 loud boys!

#6: The ability to stay connected to friends and family through technology.

#7: Chocolate.  In all forms.  Except chocolate-covered grasshoppers.  That's nasty.

#8:  The solid, reformed preaching I hear every Sunday.

#9: A minivan.

#10: Cherry Carmex.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Taco Meat recipe

One of Andrew's favorite meals is hard shell tacos.  The boys are getting bigger and eating a little bit more and ground beef isn't getting any cheaper.  So when I made tacos yesterday, I was inspired by this post to try and make my 1 lb of ground beef stretch a little farther.  The taco meat I made yesterday was much yummier than just a pound of meat with prepackaged seasoning, plus we had enough leftover to make nachos this weekend.

Taco Meat

1 lb of ground beef
1/2 a large onion
1 can of pinto beans (or whatever kind of beans you like)
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2-3/4 c of salsa
3/4 c of water
1 recipe of homemade taco seasoning

Brown ground beef and onion in large skillet until beef is cooked.  I use my mix n chop from Pamper Chef to really chop my meat up since I don't like big chunks.  Drain the grease from the beef and onions and put them back in the pan.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and stir well.  Cover and simmer lightly for about 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

*If you don't like a lot of spice, leave the dried red pepper flakes out of the taco seasoning.
*I used this pan to brown my meat.  I recently bought it at Kohls with a 30% off coupon and I've used it a bunch ever since.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Monday morning

Photo bomber!

Andrew loves being by his baby brother.  Luke's pretty happy about it too.

"I am certain it was not me who needed to eat at 5 AM.  And I would never fill my pants and need a complete clothes change so early.  Not me!"