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!"

What's Cookin'

Mon~Spaghetti, broccoli, cheesy bread
Tues~Tacos, salad
Wed~Pork burrito bowls, salad
Thurs~Pea soup, bread
Fri~Pizza, cold veggies
Sat~Meat loaf, potatoes

10 Challenges from our pastor

Yesterday our pastor preached this sermon on I John 3:14, continuing his series on the marks of a healthy church.  The 10 challenges he gave the congregation are simple things that even our children can be involved in.
Here are Dr. Murray's 10 challenges to show that we love one another:
(Here is the list from Dr. Murray's blog.)

1,  Pray for one family for one month.  Pick one family from the congregation and pray for them this month.
2.  Speak to one different person from the congregation this month.  Pick someone you don't normally speak to.
3.  Encourage one person in the next month.  "I am so thankful to God for you because..."
4.  Carry someone's burden.
5.  Visit one person who you don't normally visit.
6.  Give a gift.  He suggested gift cards for someone who wouldn't normally be able to afford to go out for dinner or a coffee.  I think another great gift would be to offer to babysit someone's children for them or help someone with a project on their home.
7.  Forgive one person.
8.  Welcome one person who is new to the church.
9.  Share a meal with someone.
10.  Submit one  preference.  Some of our preferences have Biblical standing, but some of our preferences are merely personal and these can build barriers to fellowship.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Best pizza I've ever made

I haven't made homemade pizza in awhile, but since we are having a rather uneventful weekend (nothing planned for once!), we had homemade pizza for dinner tonight and I have to say, it turned out pretty well!  Here's the recipe I used:

Fail-Proof Pizza Dough 


1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 cups bread flour (I used 2 cups of white flour and 1 cup of whole grain white flour)
Mix everything together with a Kitchen Aid mixer bread hook attachment for 5-6 min and let rise for 1-2 hours.  My dough made 2 round pizzas and I baked each for about 10 min in a 475 degree oven.  We only have 2 measly pieces left over.  Pretty soon I'll need to make a double batch!