Saturday, September 30, 2006

We Have a Winner

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Where we feature Bridget for the third day in a row

Bridget ran in the Carson City Crystal Invitational where South Christian also ran today. She ran the the 1.6 middle school race in 15:33 and received a blue ribbon for finishing. Edward ran his 3.2 mile race in 19:22. It was a long day standing in the rain and cold but at least the kids had a free pass to play in the mud.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Feet for the Path

I spent part of the day today coming to terms with some minor disappointments along with this thing on my chin that draws so much attention to itself that no one hears what I am really saying when I talk. As the day wore on, I couldn't figure out why I was still feeling so bad - then I remembered: I sort of forgot to eat. I felt a bit better after I ate some Kashi and picked Maria up from school, but I still felt scattered. Bridgie came off the bus and humorously modelled her school picture pose:

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Bridget posing for the blog

She was feeling acutely self conscious as she was instructed to lift her chin, tilt her head just so, and turn, thus resulting in the appropriate yearbook pose. I remember those days like yesterday. Now, the extent of my portrait experience is at the DMV where they don't care how you look. Stand on the tape, look at the dot. Snap.

As the afternoon wore on, my head felt like it was going to explode. Edward brought his new cross country shirts home right before supper and here was the brightest spark of the day. His sweatshirt has Habbakkuk 3:19 on the back: "The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights." The t-shirt has a traffic light that I could only dream about because I am a speeding-ticket certified lead-foot: it has three green lights! And along the side it says, "Never Stop." Do you love it?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Feeling Blue and Dishwashing 101

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Bridget had to dress in blue today to fulfill her requirements as a middle school 6th grader. They played Capture the Flag, the Name Game and other mixing type games for the Mixer. She was mostly in to the blue hair color as she asked me about it last night and we drove around to every dollar store we could think of nearby (only 2) and ended up at Meijer which has everything. She promised me she would work for it, so we are going to have a big room cleaning party Saturday. Her room gets very messy and the floor which cannot be seen reminds me of her father's bachelor pad floor.

To further illustrate the cesspool regions of our house, let's move to the kitchen where our dishwasher has been dying a slow death. It is (was) 15 years old which we found out is equivalent to 1,120 cat years or 160 people years. Come to find out, the average dishwasher only lasts about 7, so it was well past its good life. Last night, John installed a new dishwasher and left a rather large puddle on the floor which shocked my foot and got my sock wet at 2:30 in the morning when I got up to eat an apple. This afternoon, I was looking at the owner's manual which was rather descriptive. It warns against putting regular dishwashing soap in the door. If you will cause suds, which will spill out of the vents, cover the kitchen floor,and make the floor wet. Then it warns you to store this regular dishwasher detergent in a specific place since so many look alike and then show anyone whosoever may use it where the CORRECT dishwasher detergent is stored. This will not cause lasting damage to the machine, mind you; it will just not get the dishes clean and you will have a puddle of suds on the floor. We will become new and clean here yet one day. I just hope the blue junk comes out of Bridgie's hair tonight.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

He Does Not Like Green Eggs and Ham


Today is my nephew Sam's 14th birthday. His mom, Andrea, wrote to tell me she hosted a party for him over the weekend with all these kids and seemed surprised at how well they behaved. I think it may have something to do with the fact she spent time in the military.

He is a quarterback for the 8th grade football team AND he is blood-related to me which is amazing, ee-ee-ee. Here he is showing off his athletic prowess with some kind of a ball.

Happy Birthday, Sam-I-Am.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Volvo Number 2

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John came home the other day with the title to this Volvo 240DL - one of my favorite kind of cars! It's so exciting, but it's not for me as I'm still confined to minivan status for the next few (couple?) years. We've been keeping our eyes open for the perfect car for Edward, and this is it seeing as this old model is one of the safest around. When he got his driver's license after his 16th birthday last December, we walked into the house, and I asked him if he would run to the store for me while I got supper ready. His Napolean Dynamite-like reply was: "Maaaaaahhhm, this is not an excuse for you to be lazy." I wish I could convey the voice inflection for you over the computer - it was unforgettable. I just thought after 16 years of driving him around, maybe I was entitled to a bit of a break.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Unplug Yourself

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Bridget & Maria, the cellphone

Today, we began a series "Unplugged" which I talked about a little here. The girls did a skit with Dylan at our church and Edward did the booming voice of God on the loudspeaker from the back. Dylan was playing video games, Bridget was listening to her ipod and putting on make up, and Maria came walking in dressed as a ringing cell phone. They were having some kind of troubles, but not listening to God because all their circuits were full. Then, Edward's voice came booming with the words of God trying to get through to them. The message was based on Psalm 46 and especially verse 10, "Be Still and know that I am God."

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cross is Boss


Bridget ran in her second cross country meet today at the Lowell Invitational. She had about a 2 minute improvement in her time over the last race, so she was happy. Before the race, she was very nervous. She says she feels weird when she hears "On your mark ..." because she has 1-1/2 miles to go, there's no turning back, and she thinks in her head, "Here we go." I thought, I know that feeling - when you get pregnant, and you have 9 months ahead of you, and there's no turning back. Edward ran well though not his best today.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Brand New Sandy Tan Pants

When Edward was younger, 4 years ago to be precise, I used to drive him over to Western Michigan University once a week for a math class for 7th graders wherein they would take all of Algebra I & II in a year. It was good because he learned the discipline of doing math that was more of a challenge. I would get him a McDonald's lunch that he could eat on the way over, and we made up a sort of game-like tradition in which we would think of phrases or sentences with as many short "a" sounds as possible and we would have to say them with a nasal tone. One of our favorites, and probably the original statement of the game, was "Did you pack a snack in my back pack for math class?" The above title brought that little memory back.

So today, I met an old friend over at Panerra Bread in the mall for lunch. We had soup as we did frequently when we worked at the actuarial firm. She is still there, so I can get caught up on news in the pension world. That takes about a minute, then we can get on to more fascinating topics, like how she really likes those pants that only go just above the butt crack. After lunch, I recommenced my quest for the perfect pair of tan pants, and the great shopping ray of sunshine must have been shining down on me because I found a pair that fit me like the "Ultimate Container" that my sister Marianna holds in such high regard. And, I mean AND, they were 80% off. I can't wait to tell Edward about my brand new sandy tan pants.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


So John & I went to our church's classis meeting where he was afraid I would let out a big vote YES from my mouth even though I'm not supposed to vote. They were having the classical review for Pastor Amy wherein she had to sit up on the stage and answer questions ranging from Bible knowledge to church order to situational ethics. She did an excellent job! The Christian Reformed Church has only recently allowed women to preach. It is up to each individual classis to decide, and she has been the first one allowed in our classis. The mostly older men kicked us out of the room while they voted. It was a short vote - she was approved and we were thankful.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Light Your World

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This week we are finally getting to that seasonal drop in temperatures that should accompany fall. Today, it is in the 50's, dark and drizzling, the kind of day you welcome after a hot, muggy summer, and so, I thought I should light some candles in the house. Um, I guess I only have two. But that candle above is one of them at 3 pm in the afternoon on this dark day. It has been awhile since we had a fire - the camping trip to be exact - and now, I think of how Pastor Henry reminded us Sunday how we are the light of the world. I loved how he reminded us that light is more powerful than the darkness. I was thinking how people accuse the light-bearers of a silly, false hope, but the light exposes the distrust and hopelessness of the accusers, so in the end, yes, it is way more powerful. Darkness doesn't stand a chance when the light is turned on. In the words of Chris Rice,
Carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the lonely, the tired and worn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world

Monday, September 18, 2006

Word Pictures

Edward often claims that I talk way too much which is hard to believe. I suppose when I get excited though, the words start to flow, and he'll tell me to "stop saying words" as his favorite character Homestar Runner would say. We went to get his hair cut tonight and he was acting like perhaps my tongue should also be cut. The most embarassing people on earth are we, the mothers of teenagers.

Maria read this Psalm after supper tonight. I loved the words in it - a great description of God's revelation!

Psalm 19 (The Message)

1 God's glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
2 Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.
3 Their words aren't heard, their voices aren't recorded,
4 But their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. God makes a huge dome for the sun - a superdome!
5 The morning sun's a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed, The daybreaking sun an athlete racing to the tape.
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6 That's how God's Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.
7 The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
8 The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
9 God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.
10 God's Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You'll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries.
11 There's more: God's Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure.
12 Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool?
13 Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
14 These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Experiencing People and Culture

This afternoon, we went to the Fiesta Mexicana in downtown GR with friends from church.

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Edward, Diana, John & John in front of La Grande Vitesse

“La Grande Vitesse” is the big red sculpture by Alexander Calder which is located on the plaza in the heart of Grand Rapids. It has been the symbol of GR since its creation in 1969 and is a place where individuals and groups of all kinds are welcome to celebrate, regardless of race, religion, creed, or economic, educational or social level; and so, this is where the festivals are.


Usually, before we can go anywhere, John tells Maria that she can go put on an even bigger pair of sunglasses than these if she wants.

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Edward takes Third year Spanish and Maria is in Spanish 1. We went to this festival for their extra-curricular cultural activity. They needed to spend 2 hours there and write a report about it. Maria had a very interesting tamale in a corn husk, Edward ate your typical taco, and Bridget had a Steak Gordita. Diana had a(n) Hurache and I was worried when flames began shooting out through her eyes. I had to sample it because I love hot things, and yes, it felt like little tongues of fire were growing in my mouth and getting hotter as they grew. Diana even felt that ice cubes made it worse, but I wasn't so sure. We had trouble identifying the source of the heat, and meanwhile, the air became hot and muggy making us hot on the outside, too. Amidst the music and activity, we talked while the kids walked around, but soon it became evident that John was in need of his Sunday Siesta, and that was the end of our cultural immersion.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Racing Siblings

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Bridget ran in her first cross country race today - a 1.5 mile middle school race. The good news is she ran her first mile in 8:30. Then the last 1/2 mile took her about 9 minutes. Her favorite part of the race was when she heard Edward cheering her on!

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Edward ran on the reserve team today. They took home a second place trophy out of 14 schools, and he got a medal for 20th out of 204 runners. He threw up at the end, but then the team went out for pizza. He's feeling better now!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Little Voices Calling Out

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"Beauty is, above all, a manifestation of grace, of abundance and generosity. It's the reason why God placed flowers on the earth: to have little voices calling to us constantly about grace." -Dallas Willard, from "Spiritual Disciplines in a Postmodern World," Radix Magazine

Thursday, September 14, 2006

As Political as It Gets

So today I actually stayed home and did a very un-Hilary Clintonesque thing and made cookies which is something I have not done in a long time. Actually, the house has felt neglected with school starting and all, so I could feel its pull for me to stay home and take care of it and so, I worked out my schedule at the Family Institute to have a morning off at my own family institute. Even though I only work in the mornings, you realize that is when the best cleaning projects get done. I even had coffee with my neighbor, and the kids were impressed with the homemade cookies. So it was good, but for some reason, it did not lead to much in the way of blog-worthy thoughts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Onder den auto

After yesterday's big lesson on "Onder Den Dam" where I told you it probably means under the dam, this next thing happened today when I was in the Meijer parking lot. I saw this rusty red Jetta with some of the trim torn off sitting near the bus stop there. On the dashboard was a sign to somebody named Jessica with words written in Dutch that said that something was "en magneet onder den auto." No rocket science is necessary here. I saw our Jessica get off bus 10 and walk over to the car, look at the note and smile, reach under the car and get the key, get in the car and drive home. I'm glad the car was still there for her.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Much Dutch


Mom & Dad are leaving Thursday to spend a month in the Netherlands and maybe Slovakia. As I previously stated, Dad is a "Nether" who landed in 1952, and Mom pretty much thinks she is Dutch. I asked my mom if she wouldn't rather just come up to GR for awhile where we have a lot of Dutch named people, but she flat out said "No." Grand Rapids is in Kent County, and I have learned when putting some statistics together for work (I was on a bit of a tangent) that 19.7% of its residents claim some Dutch ancestory. Mom, however, prefers places where they can claim 100%.

So they are planning on spending one of their weeks in a town called Onder Den Dam, and I decided that if I lived there, I would probably say it all the time because it's so fun to say. The name of their Bed & Breakfast is Wonder Den Dam - I would like to meet those innkeepers! So I will just have to assume that Onder Den Dam means "under the dam" because when I tried to Google it, the websites that showed up were all in Dutch. Maybe I'll get a postcard!

A few years ago, Bridget learned to sing the Dutch National Anthem and other songs and to say the Lord's prayer in Dutch. And then I learned this cool Dutch saying a couple of years ago that starts out something like, "Ne kan't geloof te vel verwachten," which means, faith cannot do too much expecting; the words of Jesus all come true.


Monday, September 11, 2006

Running and Retching

South Christian raced today against a few other schools. I don't remember many details - I just saw Edward barely cross the finish line because he was throwing up. He managed to get his best time today though - 18:48, but I could kick myself for putting those peanuts in his lunch box. What was I thinking?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Do Not Be Afraid

This morning, Pastor Amy spoke about fear and used this as her text from Acts 18:

9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."

She showed her favorite Nike poster with a runner on it which said that the road is always open. Even though the road is open, we may fear someone will attack us (especially if we are running alone at night). There are many other fears that keep us from doing what we are called to do. We were supposed to write a fear down and put it in a bowl, but I couldn't think of any at the time.

The following Psalm we read brings it in to perspective and I am glad we have this hope. I thought this was good to reflect on as we remember 9-11.

1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 8 Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. 10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." 11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

When I finished this post and looked at it right above yesterday's picture, I thought what a good picture to show how when we look at the Light, the Capitol is not the main thing. That wasn't even on purpose :)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Staring into the Sun

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This past summer when we went to the Outer Banks, we drove through Washington DC at 6:30 in the morning. Maria's friend who was with us had never seen the White House, so John dropped us off to take pictures while he circled the premises in the van. . . with the car top carrier on top. He felt kind of fishy, but thankfully, no one else thought he was. The above picture was taken in front of the Capitol Building as the sun was rising. It was no use, I couldn't tell the sun to get back a minute while I took the picture. I thought of this post because I was sorting old pictures and I saw this one.

Most of the rest of my day today involved shopping for a new pair of tan pants which sounds almost as exciting as a tan van. I tried on at least 5 pairs and there was just a little something wrong with each one of them, so I am still in the market for tan pants - in a country where pants don't seem to rise any higher than a butt crack. I know I sound like a grumpy 80 year old lady, but one pair that I tried on actually went up to my waist, and I heard myself go "Ah!" And this is what happens when John is in High Marathon Training Mode: I am left to find my own excitement.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An Exciting Cross Country Post

Edward's Cross Country Coach gives the team a race sheet with quotes & comments on it after every race. Since running is such a great metaphor for the Christian life, he always has something good to say to the kids about it.

"Everyone has the will to win, but few have the will to prepare to win." -Coach Bobby Knight


"For runners the above quote means that pretty much everyone can pick up the pace at least a little bit in the homestretch, but very few people have paid attention to all the little things up until that point to be in the best position possible. Preparation is rarely glamorous but almost always crucial in doing anything well, including preparing the way for Jesus' return." -Edward's coach

So tonight, Bridget & I were sitting on the couch together, and talking about the health form thingy for track because she missed the sports physical at school last night when we were out playing in the rain. I reassured her, no problem, we can go to Dr. H. and anyways, track isn't until next spring and you will be doing a lot of training until then, yada, yada, yada. Then that Bobby Knight quote from above just sort of fell naturally out of my mouth and Bridget was looking at me like I was so very wise almost with tears in her eyes. This lasted all of 2 seconds until Maria piped in about how this quote was from the last the race sheet. Who knew Maria would be reading the race sheets? And then Bridget started laughing at how she had been believing that I could really say something so profound and coach-like as if I thought about sports all the time. At least I tried. As Babe Ruth once said, "Never let the fear of striking out get in your way."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Running in the Rain

I thought I might have an exciting cross country post tonight, but I realized on the way to the meet, I forgot my camera so I will just have to use a thousand or so words to describe it. John, the girls & I drove out somewhere 45 minutes into the boonies and there was no turning back a minute to get it. The race was at a golf course south of town and this one was the grade level invitational, meaning of course, each grade races separately. Edward finished at 19:45, 3rd for the Juniors; not his best time, but it was okay.

We stayed to watch all the races, and when they got to the freshman race, John & I for some reason which will only be known to us in heaven, went for a stroll out near mile marker one as they were running. The clouds were rolling in and it was finally cooling off so I said something like, yay, I haven't had time for my walk yet today, so further away we went. The clouds became such a compellingly beautiful dark grey and the grass was so green and lush and I think I remember the trees swaying in the wind. Then before you could think of a word that rhymes with rain, it felt like we were standing under the Niagra Falls. John gave me the keys to run back to the van, and this I can tell you - I wasn't even thirsty as I ran because the water was dripping off my cheeks right in to my mouth! Soon, they began herding the wandering freshman in to the finish line like little wet chicks, and everyone that was not a freshman was looking for their pile of wet stuff (including backpacks with homework) and moving toward the parking lot where a bus was to come to get them. It was a bit chaotic there for awhile.

After this, the waterlogged cross country team, parents and coaches moved en masse to the Sailor Sports Night where we joined in the potluck and introductions of all the Sailor teams. They are serious about their sports here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Third Day


Last Wednesday, I finally took Edward's going back to school picture in the same place we do it every year because, you know, these things are important to a mom.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Summer's End

We spent a great weekend up at John's sister & brother-in-law's cottage up in Northern Michigan. We celebrated John's 44th birthday on Sunday which he & Edward completed with a climb up a steep 450 foot dune at sunset. The kids & I caused a small scene by singing Happy Birthday when he arrived at the top and he said that there's nothing like feeling 88 on your 44th birthday! At least he's still funny.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

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Kayakking on Platte Lake

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Hammocking near Platte Lake

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Games with the Cousins

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Overlooking Lake Michigan

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John's birthday with his sister & brother-in-law at their cottage; half-sisters & Dad from California

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Edward the Great Dune Climber

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Edward made it up in 9 minutes, 7 seconds. John took about 25 minutes. Regular people take about 45 minutes.

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Waiting for Sunset

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The End.