Monday, April 30, 2007

Monique and the Mango Rains

I just finished this book, Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway, which is memoir about her 2 years in the west African country of Mali during her time with the Peace Corp in the early 90's. This incredible story of how she worked with and befriended a midwife(Monique) gives such a real view of what life is like there. This country has a 50% infant mortality rate, and the highest rate of maternal mortality in the world. Sadly, Monique herself dies during childbirth.

After the author returned to her home in Ohio, Monique came to visit her. Now for all you Ohio readers and natives, this excerpt brings conditions into perspective:

She(Monique) found Ohio the most gorgeous place she'd ever seen. She never imagined a place so green and a ground so full of water. Farms of immense proportions, endless fields of waving grasses, and countless flowers she had only seen in Pagnes (colorful skirts).

You can read more about the book here.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Prayer, continued

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Today in church Pastor Henry talked about praying for our enemies - I wrote a brief summary here.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Green Stuff

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It was a beautiful day here today for softball and I must say that Bridget's team color is refreshing to my winter worn eyes. Bridget's team won 15-13.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Flash Back Friday 16

Big brothers can be nice...
... but only for so long, I suppose.
Edward & Maria, 1996

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bridget's Beloved Birthday!

Enjoying the cake on her 1st Birthday

Today is Bridget's 12th birthday, or as a friend so thoughtfully put it, YOUR-BABY-IS-TURNING-12-TODAY!!! We are having a cold, rainy day here which cancelled Edward's track meet and Bridget's track practice. This evening, she has an orchestra concert, so after that, we will eat cake with the family.

This morning, I woke up staring at a huge deep scar on my forehead that I had never seen before and thought it must be flesh-eating bacteria, and I thought this can't be happening on Bridget's birthday. The good news is, I must have just slept on my forehead wrong, because it's pretty much gone now.

Little sweetie-pie Bridget has always love birthdays, and she has been counting the days down for months till today. The excitement level is sky-high here today. When she was 3, she would tell me every day that tomorrow is Bitty Baby's Birthday. I was greeted by her huge grin this morning, and I sang to her the Song right away which in turn took my mind off the flesh wound. She came off the bus today with armloads of presents, so I think she is having a good day so far.

bridget 3yrs-2

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My New Exercise Routine

A friend of mine at work told me about this exercise routine to build muscle strength in the arms and shoulders. It seems so easy, so I thought I'd blog about it. The article suggested doing it three days a week. It should fit in with my daily walking routine wonderfully.

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface
where you have plenty of room at each side.

With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from
your sides and hold them there as long as you can. Try to reach a full minute, then relax. Each day, you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer.

After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks.
Then 50-lb potato sacks. Eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute. (I'm at this level.)

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Spring Snippet

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I can't believe this was what was on the package!

Spring is such a busy time around here with school wrapping up, track, softball & yardwork, and now today, I have about 10 minutes between work and taking Maria to the orthodontist, and I have a few minutes to blog. These slightly disappointing new tulips are coming up in our front yard. I can't believe I would have picked these, but oh well, they photograph okay, and they are a bit of new life.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Racial Profiling and the Math Team

How's that for an interesting title?

Edward had his second practice for the Michigan All-Star Math Team on Saturday. This practice took place at Calvin College which was nice considering the other 3 are over near Detroit. John offered our services to the math department at Calvin for hospitality or whatever we could do.

It was fun! The math department moved in to a brand new building since I had been there, and had recently been re-painted and re-carpeted in some very handsome shades of blue. I was excited to talk to a couple of the math professors about different topics including my experiences since graduating, and also Ed's future college education. A few of the other students showed up from the Detroit area for the practice (6 out of 30-something). John & I decided we better go out looking for stray students.

John went off looking, and I talked to one of the fathers who came originally from China. He told me that what is wrong with American education and society and why they are falling behind in math & science is that they do not get hardship. I think he meant that they do not work hard. Meanwhile, John didn't find anyone. As we were leaving, he stopped an Asian family and asked them if they were looking for the math practice. The answer was no, and John told me this was the third group of people he stopped based solely on their race. The fact is that only 3 or 4 on the team are Caucasian and the rest are Asian. We might be renaming our son Chen, so stay tuned. JK.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Two Happy(ness) Thoughts

This weekend, John & I saw the DVD The Pursuit of Happyness. It was inspired by a true story as opposed to based on a true story or even just plain, a true story. In this movie, Will Smith played the lead character who truly worked hard for this fleeting thing called happiness. He endured great hardship to be a success, and when he finally reached his goal, there he was enjoying, for a brief time with his son, happiness.

Today, I read the following in a sermon by Frederick Buechener:
Power, success, happiness, as the world knows them, are his who will fight for them hard enough: but peace and love and joy are only from God. And God is the enemy whom Jacob fought there by the river, of course, and whom in one way or another we all of us fight - God, the beloved enemy. Our enemy because, before giving us everything, He demands of us everything: before giving us life, He demands our lives - our selves, our wills, our treasure.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Water into Wine


My sister Andrea sent me this picture of a billboard she loves in Ohio. She said she leaned her head out the window & took it! Way to go!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Flash Back Friday 15

Spring 2000, this is in honor of Leo who will be 7 years old tomorrow - that's 51 kitty years!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Fourth Place, Again


Last year, I mentioned that 4th place in the Pinewood Derby gets you a blog entry with your picture, so here is Bridget, again. She came in 4th place out of 61 cars this year in this Father-Daughter outing.

Today was good. Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
-Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Running the Race

I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but here they are running again. These are probably my favorite verses, and I think I can relate to the pained look on their faces.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:2-3

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Edward in the 3200 meter race yesterday (in the middle with yellow shoes)

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Bridget at track practice yesterday

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

The following is a description of the problem Maria's team was attempting to solve in the Odyssey of the Mind Competition taken from their website. John's Mom was asking me about it on the phone, and I realized, I didn't really know what her problem was this year. At least it didn't sink in. I knew about their solution, though. You see, you don't talk about these problems since the solution has to be their own.

Problem 3: Classics ... Around The World In 8 Minutes
Divisions I, II, III & IV
In this "classics" problem, teams will create and present a performance that includes a "Traveler" character on a trip around the world. During the trip, the Traveler will stop at three locations on Planet Earth that have different geographic characteristics. Two settings -- one polar, the other different -- will be actual places, and the third one will be an undiscovered location created by the team. The performance will include an explanation about why the character takes the trip and the reason it stops at each location.
Cost limit: $125 USD.
Sponsored by NASA.

Their solution included 7 tooth fairies who went around the world picking up teeth that children had lost and put underneath pillows. In the scene below, Maria, the understudy toothfairy is talking to the real tooth fairy while a couple of the other fairies are in the background getting ready for the next scene. They stopped in Greenland (the igloo) and the Alps (purple mountains made of bread and brownies) and the made up location was called Bellabaguna.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The World at 45 Degrees North Latitude

This weekend, John, Bridget & I went to the Michigan State Odyssey of the Mind Finals in Traverse City with Maria's team. We were exactly between the North Pole and the Equator and while waiting for the scores, we took a mental break and drove over the 45th parallel.

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The water in Lake Michigan there is as blue as the Caribbean Sea.

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And the hills have grape vineyards and cherry trees.

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Over 1000 students participated in the State Finals.

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We were excited to see Maria's team do well enough to finish 2nd in their division. They are advancing to the World Finals! Wouldn't you know, they are being held in Michigan this year, a few hours south of the 45th parallel.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Family Doors

Mom & Dad are on a Dutch TV program on RTV Noord. If you click on "Groninger voor het Leven", you can watch it. (Look for 18.32 on April 11) . I liked the part when Mom & Dad were standing in front of Dad's old house in Bedum and Mom said that this front door is like the one on the house where she grew up and when Dad came to the US and saw her door, he thought there might be someone there for him. It was also exciting to see the picture of our whole family which aired on Dutch TV yesterday. It's all in Dutch except for when Mom talks - then there are Dutch subtitles!

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Left: Dad's door.............Right: Mom's door

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Say It Isn't So

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Looking out my window on April 11, 2007

We are ready for Spring here. The tulips are on their way up, the grass has been cut, and then this came today. I am dreading the inevitable mess in the back hall and mud room which I had in such a sparking clean state for the coming of Spring. Little muddy puddles, odd mittens, and big coats which cannot clean themselves up will be in the way as we prepare for a weekend up north in Traverse City.

When it gets snowy? Go further north, that's what I always say.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Eddie Spaghetti, Again

Thinking about Ptolemy's Theorem while eating spaghetti and oblivious to Mom's HUGE camera.

We found out last week that Edward made it on the Michigan All-Star Math team! Did you even know they had one? They're going to compete nationally on June 2 at the "World Series of Math Competions" and we are all so excited for him.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Small World

This is a small world story that is really small.

This morning, I had a message at work from a guy with something like a 714 or 740 area code which I did not recognize, but he was interested in one of our classes. I thought, well this will be an adventure, so I gave him a ring. It was 8:15 am and a voice sounding like it had just woken up answered. I went in to my usual fact finding mission and found out he lived in Ohio. Seeing as I am such an expert on all things Ohio, I asked him where he lived. I couldn't believe it when he said "Celeryville." I said "Get out of here - I'm from Celeryville." He couldn't believe that since Celeryville only has about 250 people who live there. I found out that he is the teacher of my nephew Hunter and nieces Paige & Allie. And he knows my sisters and mom & dad, of course, and about 250 other people I know. And by the time we hung up, it seemed like we were old friends because I totally knew his zip code by heart.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!!!

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We had a 9 am Easter breakfast at our church and also sang our favorite song:

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Brought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

P.S. Happy Birthday to Aunt Paula!


Saturday, April 07, 2007

My Song is Love Unknown

The language in this song is a bit outdated, but the words are fitting, and I love it when it is sung by Fernando Ortega.

My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take, frail flesh and die?

He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed for Christ would know:
But O! my Friend, my Friend indeed,
Who at my need His life did spend.

Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath,
And for His death they thirst and cry.

Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
He gave the blind their sight,
Sweet injuries! Yet they at these
Themselves displease, and ’gainst Him rise.

They rise and needs will have
My dear Lord made away;
A murderer they saved,
The Prince of life they slay,
Yet cheerful He to suffering goes,
That He His foes from thence might free.

In life, no house, no home
My Lord on earth might have;
In death no friendly tomb
But what a stranger gave.
What may I say? Heav’n was His home;
But mine the tomb wherein He lay.

Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.

Friday, April 06, 2007

(Good) Flashback Friday 13

Edward, 1992

As I was looking back at what to post for Flashback Friday, I came across this photo of Edward. Look what happens when we are left to our own devices! Jesus paid for our sins and dirt on Good Friday though.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


I suddenly recognized that I hadn't blogged about Edward in awhile, so I snuck around in the kitchen and took a picture of him eating his favorite supper last evening. He had just come in from a cold,long run.

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He did 5 service hours this week at the Family Institute in between long runs. And yes, white shirt + spaghetti = disaster.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Spring Chicks

Yesterday, the temperatures were in the 70's, but today we were hit with low 30's and snow. That's Michigan for you. For my walk, the girls & I decided to hit the mall. They were glad to be able finally to shop for undergarments together - leaving me to do my walking.
They gabbed the whole way home about the various marketing strategies (they didn't call it that) of the different undergarment manufacturers with their lifting, separating, pushing and pulling.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spring Cleaning

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What better time than spring break to do some spring cleaning? Bridget was looking for a way to earn money, so I told her she could do a thorough job on the floors. She spent over 4 hours between yesterday and today. We also cleaned out the mudroom (big job) and now we are, I am, happy.

Maria and I went out for a photo shoot together combined with a 2 mile walk. The spring flowers are coming. I also heard snow is coming, too.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Bridget Malokar

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Oh, the fun things they do.

For Maria's birthday, she got a digital camera and a 1G memory card, and so, she has been looking for unusual photos. She did Bridgie's hair...Bridget told me I could post it, but she wanted me to emphasize that she is NOT a Sanjaya fan!!!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Hook, Line and Sinker

This conversation took place this morning as I was getting ready for church-

John: You can relax. Church is canceled. There's a tornado watch.
Me: But there's a bright blue sky outside.
John: That's what makes it so weird.
Me: How did you know? Did somebody call? Who called?
John: April
Me: April who?