Sunday, April 30, 2006


We went to our new church again today. It's a church plant in downtown GR and they are trying different approaches to worship from more traditional CRC churches. The band there is awesome and they started out leading us in singing praise songs.
Pastor Amy talked about Colossians 3:12-17. She especially highlighted verse 16:
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."
This led to an opportunity to teach and learn from each other by walking around stations that had been set up all around. For instance, one room had maps of the world and US that were pinned up on the wall and we were instructed to think of what we were thankful for in any area of the world. Edward drew a dot on his grandparent's house in Celeryville, and the Pastor told us a funny story she experienced in Celeryville once. I told about this blogger I know from Kuala Lumpur who is in Seminary (Hi Maeghan!) and we were talking about how the world is changing with the internet.
Other areas had mazes which illustrated salvation or games with verses you could look up. Our kids had a good time, and it is fun getting to know everyone. And did I mention, the band is awesome?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Calvin 5K Spring Classic

This morning at 7 am, John & I went over to Calvin College where he ran in the 5K and I worked as a volunteer. As we drove on to campus, I was bummed to be camera-less yet again because the tulips on campus were at their peak, but I found a picture of John crossing the finish line on the Calvin website which is even better:
He came in at 21:43 which was a PR for him. A good friend of mine won the women's division coming in at 18:59 which is awesome for a 43 year old!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

When I Get Old I Shall Wear... a Life is Good Shirt

Yesterday, I was going to Tarjay and in the parking lot, there sat this Big Red Cadillac Seville with a spoked wheel on the trunk and a license plate with the name "SISSY." I almost wanted to stay in the car to see to what character that belonged! But I went in to the store, and I didn't have to go far till I saw her. She was a lady in her 80's, sporting a bright pink ball cap, a lime green velour jump suit, and hot pink & lime green running shoes. And bright, pink lipstick. I stopped short of asking her if she was Sissy, I just knew.
I think I'll be like that when I'm old (if I make it). Except I actually saw my kind of character today at Meijer. There was this old lady in the parking lot dressed in a outdoorsy kind of look. As I was walking in, she came from behind me and asked which "one" I had on. By "one" she meant which "Life is Good" shirt. She came around to the front and said, Oh yeah, I like that one. Then, the whole rest of the way in we talked about which ones we had and which ones we liked. As I passed her later down one of the aisles, my kindred spirit said "Hi again!" and I thought, yes, life is good.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Happy 11th Birthday Bridgie!!!

Today is Bridget's 11th Birthday. I told her I would write a blog about how when she was 3 years old, she got a Bitty Baby for her birthday, and every day for about the next year it was either Bitty Baby's Birthday or it was almost going to be Bitty Baby's Birthday and thus, she was in a perpetual state of either preparing for the birthday or celebrating the birthday, and it was all really quite fun.
She would wrap her toys in blankies and gather them around Bitty Baby and help her open them. Every day was a party!
This has become a great family story we love to talk about.
Happy Birthday Bridget!

Sometimes you wish they could stay young forever. This was one of those times.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Meaning of Life

Today, when I came to work at 7:45 am, the office was dark. Sharon is usually there before me, and if not, she is there soon after. But today, the time passed, and no Sharon. Finally, at 8:30 am, she walked in! I said something like, what in the world? and she said that she overslept. I asked her if she freaked out when she woke up and she just said, "No, I always say, whatever happens, happens." I just laughed and said, "You must have been hanging around me too long because my motto is, Wherever I am, I am." I guess it was too early to be thinking any deeper than this.

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John in an Amherst, Massachusetts bookstore searching for some meaning.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Grammar Slap

My son Edward became an expert in grammar. Ever since 7th grade when he had the BEST English teacher in town, I mean the ultimate teacher of all teachers, he has been known to correct the grammar of anyone in our household. Back when he was in middle school, he used to give his little sisters "grammar slaps" if they would make an error in their speech. These slaps were more like love taps to encourage them along, although they didn't always see it that way. He doesn't do that anymore.
This past weekend, one of the fathers who came along to Traverse City was a pastor with extremely clear diction. He enunciated each syllable so clearly, and I told him I could listen to him all day. He reminded me a little of that guy who plays Ferris Bueller. At one point during the weekend, I found myself standing, amazed, between the pastor and his wife. The pastor said something like "I will go to this building," and the wife said something like,"And I will go to this building," and they went back and forth like this, and finally, I exclaimed,"You guys even speak in perfect grammar to each other!"
Now back to my family. We were riding in the van and Edward, not known for his enunciation said something that sounded like "waa-waa-waa-waa-English." I had to keep saying what, and it just kept sounding like waa-waa-waa-waa-English and finally John looks at me like I am a total idiot and says, "They have to do it in English." It was exactly at this point when I imagined how I might actually do better in the pastor & his wife's family.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Odyssey of the Mind State Finals

We spent the weekend in Traverse City with Maria's OM team & their families while the team competed in the State finals. The coaches took the props up in a trailer:
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Their props were very detailed:
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And I only got pictures of 4 of the 7 of the team members in costume:
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Their performance about the Jungle Bloke went very well! At the awards ceremony, we found out they came in 5th place. This was a little disappointing, but they all got to stand up in this gym full of hot screaming people to be recognized:
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They are actually the little gold group sitting in the middle of the floor while we were up in the hot, nose-bleed section.

We stayed in a condo in a golf/ski resort near Bellaire, Michigan and it was so peaceful and quiet. In the morning, I sat out on the deck with my coffee and listened to a chorus of birds singing their distinctive parts in the symphony of nature:
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So that was our weekend. The kids & coaches had a great year together. They all agree that the process is the best part. Coach Bloem called the Finals a celebration of 2 things God loves: creativity and teamwork.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Running Around in Circles

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John & I went over to Hamilton this afternoon to see Edward run in South Christian's track meet. It was in the middle of farms and the manure was smelling mighty fresh. Surprisingly, this did not affect his times today... he PR'd in both the mile(1600m) & the 2 mile(3200m). His mile time was 5:22 and the 2 mile was 11:32. So that's 12 times around the track for Christmas Eddie in under 17 minutes! I wonder why he doesn't move that fast in the morning when he's getting ready for school...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Seeing Double

This is a picture of 2 of my sisters & I over 30 years ago. Oma knit these capes & skirts for us, and we were quite the site to behold. I still remember wearing mine ( the pink one) to church every Sunday.
Now fast forward to Oma's funeral about 30 years later. Our daughters wore the capes. My daughter is in the pink one I wore. I think that is so amazing.
Another thing that was amazing was that she always wanted Easter Lilies on her casket and then she went and died right around Easter so that we could actually GET Easter lilies. I remember not long after her funeral, I heard Ray VanderLaan talking about Hebrews 12:1-3. The image he used for the great cloud of witnesses was "your grandma" waiting for you at the finish line up in heaven while we finish the race. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Last weekend, we saw the movie "Proof" with Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. Let me just say that I never knew Gwyneth had it in her to play a female math geek. I could relate to her not really caring much about some of the basic things. After all, everything seems like minutia when your brain is zeroing in on absolute truths! I liked this movie even though I highly doubt that while taking care of her mentally ill father she could have solved this problem about prime numbers which had eluded mathematicians for centuries (while sitting at her kitchen counter no less.)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter

We went to our new church today and we were excited to be there! We had breakfast in the old warehouse where the church is located before the worship service began. I was talking to the band leader, Jeremiah, afterwords, and the drummer Daniel, and I told them how cool(meaning: effective) it was when they read the scripture(Mark 15) over the drum beat. Mark 15 is the crucifixion story and when that is read with the drum, it goes along with the suspense and then the excitement of the resurrection. I said I never thought of that being done before and they said they never did either. They said they never practiced it that way but the drummer said he was praying about it when he did it. Pastor Henry, Pastor Amy & a guest pastor gave short reflections on the Easter story. Jesus is risen!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Life in G.R.usalem

John & I met some members of our new church at an art gallery downtown today. We met there to view an exhibit by Kevin Rolly called "Stations of the Cross." Wow, it was very powerful! He uses a technique called Silver Emulsion Multi-media Oilgraph in which he takes multiple pictures and kind of bonds them together with oil. (You can see them if you click on the link). He took pictures of actual models who were not Christians but became believers after they modeled the 15 stations. The gallery owner said that the artist went to Target to look for a cross but they didn't have any. (I guess I don't know if she was joking, I don't think she was.) He ended up making one out of railroad ties that weighed 300 pounds.
We could hardly believe we spent 2 hours there and we really enjoyed talking with one of the pastors, a few members and the gallery owners.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Nine Million Lives

The kids and I were discussing Kitty and his upcoming birthday last night, and I wondered aloud how old he was going to be on April 21, and Maria said he's 6. And I wondered again, how old is he going to be on his birthday, and Edward, my wise son, said from behind his laptop, "You just add one." This made me laugh so hard because he said it like I was really that stupid even though I was really just searching for clarification. Did Maria mean he was about 6 or actually 6 because when you're talking about a kitty, one never knows.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

It's Fif

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This is our mascot at work, the Family Institute Flamingo, Fif. We're in the process of remodeling the office, and Toni (who is hard at work here in the background) brought him in for a tropical themed breakfast we had for the building. But Fif didn't want to go back home because this is Michigan you know, and he liked being indoors, and we're all so fun and nice at the Family Institute. So Toni had these great little outfits for him, and she brought his Bunny outfit in so he could hang out here in the plant for Easter. He thinks it's a palm tree.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mother, Help!

After yesterday's work of art, we have this...
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I know how much you love to clean the microwave when you're here, dear mother. Don't you wish you lived closer?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Spinach Feta Pie

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This is an actual picture, taken at our house this evening, of what I made for supper. Even Maria, the picky one, loved it...even after she went "waaa" when I told her what was for supper when she asked. She ate the whole thing. I saw this recipe in the paper, but I used olive oil instead of butter and 3 whole eggs instead of 1 egg & 2 egg whites, oh, and 4 oz. feta instead of 3, and instant brown rice, instead of long grain, and 2 cloves garlic instead of 1. Oh, and I skipped the parsley flakes and went for paprika. So this is sort of what I made, and we all loved it.

Recipe: Spinach feta pie -- Birdwing Spa
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
2 cups cooked long-grain rice
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 large egg whites
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 (9- or 10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded
PREPARATION: Heat oven to 400 degrees. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add chopped onion and garlic; and saute 3 minutes. Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Gradually add milk, stirring with a wire whisk until well blended. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly.

Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in the cooked rice, crumbled feta cheese, egg, egg whites, parsley and spinach.

Pour mixture into a 10-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheddar and Parmesan cheeses over pie. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until pie is golden brown.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 264 calories, 13 grams fat, 15 grams protein, 23 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 74 milligrams cholesterol, 777 milligrams sodium.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Bridgie made up a new word...

...but it's kind of hard to pronounce. Today at church, they did a commissioning service for our family. It was a very nice send off, actually. We are going to be going to a new church in downtown GR for the next year. This morning, one of my old friends (she's 94) gave me a big hug and said, what are you going to do there? And I just looked at this dear old saint, not exactly sure what I was going to do there, and thought of the great thing she does right now in her old age which is to send out cards, and I said maybe I can send out cards, I don't know if they have anyone to do that. And this dear lady said, well, give me a list. John & I were talking about it with the kids yesterday and they were wondering if there were going to be any kids there, and I told them Dad will probably teach you catechism, and Bridget said, are there any kids in "fifthish" grade, and it was just so cute to watch that word make its way out through her little smile. dc-obx05 243-3dc-obx05 200-2

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Aunt Paula!

Paula gets to be 35 years old today! Here's a good shot of her doing an Elaine-ish dance with our mother laughing in the background:
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Unfortunately, I do not have any digital images of when she was oh, in her backpacking paraphernalia or in that pink prom dress with a perm? Or going to a wedding with Billy?
So I hope she has a happy birthday even though she's not home to read this happy birthday wish.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Maria Christina

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Maria, Self-portrait

Maria has been pretty busy with her Odyssey of the Mind team since she got home from Georgia. They're getting ready for the state finals later this month. I don't know how she managed to take the above self portrait without looking like a dork. I really did try one myself when I thought the kids might forget what I looked like but I just looked old and preposterous.

I took a picture of Maria in front of one of their sets dressed as a monkey:
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Go Maria, Go!

Makin' chicken

Today, I was home with the kids making some white chicken chili for supper. I was about to chop an onion and I told the kids to go wake up Leo because he always goes wild when I chop onions. In the frenzy, I chopped in to my finger and screamed, not because it hurt, but because now I was going to have to cook chicken with a band-aid on, and I always hate when that happens.
I had to go over near Panerra bread after this, so I picked up a loaf of bread to go with supper. I also shredded some Monterray Jack cheese to go on top. It was going to be sooooo goood. So we all sat down for supper, and after we prayed, John pops up like he does when he needs to add something to the supper (eg. barbecue sauce to a recipe that took hours) and I said, where are you going. He said, to get some Ritz crackers. I was appalled, so I said, this supper does not need Ritz crackers, we have PANERRA BREAD. So he sat back down, and I said, I suppose you can have Ritz crackers, but he said something like now he was too scared to get them, you don't mess with art.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Yay, they made it home.

I am happy to report that the 4 loads of laundry, I mean John & the 3 kids, came home safely last evening from Georgia. They had a great time there (even without my running commentary.) Here they are with John's brother Dave & family:
John was able to partially realize a dream of his by hiking on part of the Appalachian Trail. Edward & Maria went along, too:
Maria liked the scenery:
And so did Edward:
They stopped for a photo shoot at one of the shelters along the trail:
The next day they saw Martin Luther King Jr.'s church:
Then they did some other stuff that they forgot to take pictures of, probably because Mrs. Griswold wasn't with them.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Culinary Confusion

So for supper one night this past week, I tried to recreate a certain good food memory I once had, but I inadvertantly recreated the wrong one, one of a more nauseating variety.
One time when my friend from New York was out here to visit, we were at Meijer picking up something with her twin sister and 2 0r 3 of my kids. Our husbands had dropped us off there while they drove their Winnebago fall05 022somewhere to get something fixed. (I know, pretty foggy memory so far.) In time, we grew hungry as we shopped around the store, so we ended up buying some turkey & crusty bread to eat. The husbands were to be picking us up soon, so we decided to go out in the parking lot, and in fact, we ended up in the parking lot of the store across the street because one of us thought it would be easier for them to pick us up with the Winnebago-ship over there. We would only have to sit on the parking lot near the road to flag them down while we ate our turkey and crusty bread. Yes, this was the food memory I was trying to duplicate, don't ask me why.
So I "made" this supper (like when Bridgie opens a can of fruit, it's called "making fruit") but the fly in the ointment to my culinary memory was I added some Leyden cheese to the menagerie. But the cheese was so overpowering that it instantaneously brought back a different food memory. This memory was one moment, a split second actually, out of a series of 10 days of nothing but blissful moments that happened in the Netherlands a few years ago and had something to do with a large waitress, maybe some BO, and probably a little bit of an upset stomach. This too is a bit of a fog. And now that I think of it, maybe it's the Leyden cheese that smells just a bit like BO, but just a bit. I guess this was a rather long story for not a lot of laughs, or anything even useful.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Yes, I got the space next to the space for expectant mothers!

Yesterday, I had about had it with my oedipal cat, so I decided to get away by going over to the mall. I ended up getting some of the thickest, most luxurious pale gold bath towels that ever set foot in our household for the BOY'S BATHROOM since theirs is the one with the washer & dryer in it and I have to look at them all the time so they might as well be nice to look at. (run-on I know, but it's fun) Then I thought I would at least look at the walking shoes over at Dick's. I walk at least 2 miles every day in a pair of hand-me-down running shoes that Limeward dc-obx05 250wore in 6th grade. And I actually saw a pair of New Balance walking shoes on clearance for 29.99. They were pretty cool and did not even look orthotic as so many of them can look. They came complete with a little pink ribbon logo on them which means I am now walking for the cure. And oh, the spring in my step... So all in all, it was a pretty good trip to the mall. This reminds me of Oma and how after we would go shopping she would like to just talk about the great stuff we got and we would all feel really good inside.
P.S. That's Limeward (the name Edward made up for when he wears that shirt) with my mom & dad.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Y'all still havin' fun?

One unforseen benefit of me staying home is that there is someone here to babysit the pets and hence, we won't come home to a toilet-bowl-smelling kitty litter room and floating fish. I went downstairs today to feed them, and well, I don't know if this is the best forum for having the kids find this out (I better quick call them), but... suffice it to say, I will be having angel fish sandwiches and kitty fries for supper. Oh wait, this was supposed to be my April Fool's post.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Y'all havin' fun?

I am having fun feeding the fish. They love it when I come down there! The kids seemed quite concerned with whether or not I could keep them alive, but then I reminded Bridget that I've kept 3 children alive quite successfully, and she said, true. I am, however, having more difficulty taking care of myself:
Example 1. Yesterday, I was feeling pretty chilled even though I was getting around like a marathon runner cleaning the house. I finally went over to the thermostat and cranked it up to 68 degrees. At night time, when I realized I was still cold, I went over and caught on to the fact that the thermostat was completely off. John did that.
Example 2. I ran out this morning in my PJ's to get the paper and locked myself out of the fortress. I had temporary visions of being barefoot and homeless with only the PJ's on my back and no lipstick on for the next few days, but thankfully, our key was still in its hiding place.
Note to my chillen: Hope y'all are havin' fun in the hot & humid 80's! Did you know that if all y'all's Momma were down South with ya, I'd be talkin' like this now? I ate up the rest of the chicken today, but I reckon I'll be makin' chicken again in a few days when yer home.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spring Break Nerd

I took a test that determined I was a Pure Nerd which pretty much goes right along with my decision to stay home for Spring Break while the rest of my family goes to Georgia. I hope they are having fun without me, the Nerd. Here are the results of the test:

Pure Nerd
78 % Nerd, 13% Geek, 26% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

So that's it then. When I realized it was the day light savings time change tonight, true to form, it took me about two seconds to set my Timex Ironman ahead one hour.
This is not an April Fool joke.