Sunday, June 29, 2008

Detroit 7, Colorado 6!

Would you like to hear about the great time we had yesterday seeing the Tigers tromp on the Rockies?! I thought you would!

Dylan and I and Shane left Grand Rapids at about 12:30 yesterday afternoon and drove to Detroit to meet my sister, Ruthanne, and her husband, Terry, who were so immensely kind as to treat all of us to a Tiger game. We met at their house, where we got to spend some time with my niece, Shelley, her husband, Bob, and my grand-nephew (who also happens to be their son), Matthew. It was so good to see them!
Shelley and Bob are expecting baby #2 right around December 1. I'm so excited for them. They have enjoyed Matthew so much ... and he is such a cutie!
Matthew had been awakened from a very sound sleep and so he wasn't his usual enthusiastic self, but we still had a good time visiting with him. He has the most amazing little voice and just huge eyes, a great sense of humor and fun ... and it's difficult not to focus each and every moment around him!
We ordered pizza and enjoyed dinner together, but then Bob, Shelley and Matthew had to go to his other grandparent's house ... and the rest of us had to scoot downtown to see the game!
It was such a beautiful night at Comerica Park. I love this place! Look at those beautiful clouds ~ it was a perfect evening to be here. Rain had been predicted all week for this night, but it certainly didn't look possible with skies like this! We had great seats! Section 122, row 20, right by first base.
Ruthanne and I were sitting next to each other and since it had been a few months since we had seen each other, we proceeded to talk nonstop through the first three innings. Terry was sitting in the row behind us. Lots of foul balls were being popped up and were flying over our heads and way behind us. But during the fourth inning, one of our guys popped one up and ... oh my goodness ... it was right on top of us! The ball took a bounce, grazed off my back (I'm not kidding!) and then Terry reached for it and got it!
But that wasn't all to the story ... no way! See the young fellow down the row from Terry (in the picture below) in the blue shirt and hat? He wanted this ball! He tackled Terry (practically) and the two of them had quite a rumble ... and I'm talking on the ground, struggling for possession of this one baseball that rightfully belonged to Terry!

You would have thought that since I had my camera with me, I would have snapped some pictures of this most amazing brawl, but I was so caught up in it, that I didn't think to take any pictures of it! And just as the blue hat guy finally gave up, the crowd stood to their feet with wild screams and cheers ... and all of us were still focused on Terry on the ground gripping this baseball ... so we all totally missed Ryan Raburn slugging his first career grand-slam homerun!

[picture removed]

This picture of Dylan, Terry and Shane was taken shortly after this whole exciting incident with the ball. The Tigers were leading the Rockies 5 to 1 at this point (I think). I love to be at a ball game with Shane. He keeps up with our team really well and knows all of the important statistics and information about our players. If I had a question about what was going on, he knew the answer.

Our starting pitcher, Justin Verlander, stayed in the game until the sixth inning and then the Tiger coach took him out and put in relief pitcher, Todd Jones. The crowd didn't seem very happy with that decision, and Ruthanne reminded me that oftentimes the Tigers start out strong and end up losing the game because their relief pitchers aren't very good. This Todd Jones guy, though, had converted 19 consecutive save opportunities, so why worry? Oh my! My Mr. Jones (remember, he is from Ohio and has no loyalities to Michigan!) has a favorite saying about any Detroit team, whether it is baseball or football. He says they, like no other teams, can "snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory." This poor Todd Jones fellow had a bad ninth inning and Colorado, who had never had the lead throughout the entire game, was suddenly ahead 6 to 5! Jones was taken out of the game admidst very loud boos from the crowd ~ poor guy! And then it began to rain! Could such a perfect evening come to such a bad end?!!!!
Absolutely NOT! Thankfully, it rained only briefly, and Todd Jones was rescued by Miguel Cabrera, whose one-out double in the bottom of the ninth inning scored two runs. (I'm cheating ... I have the Grand Rapids Press article in front of me, so that I could tell you these interesting details!) What a great game. I screamed so loud when Cabrera hit that ball, that I hardly have a voice today! Poor Ruthanne was standing right next to me, and already had an earache to begin with!

We stayed and enjoyed fabulous fireworks following the game. They were SO beautiful and SO loud!

What a game! It was great to be with Ruthanne and Terry. Ruthanne was quite sick with a cold, and I felt badly for her but I think she enjoyed the game as much as she possibly could. Dylan, Shane and I left Detroit at about 11:30 last night and drove on home. We stopped in Brighton to "wake up", catch a bite, and then had a safe and very uneventful drive back to Grand Rapids. I can't remember a nicer time spent with everyone. As I dove into bed at 3:15 this morning, I was just so thankful for this truly wonderful day!

Friday, June 27, 2008

An anniversary afternoon ...

Eleven years ago, on a Thursday night nonetheless, Mr. Jones and I were married ... on the backyard deck of our pastor and friends, Doug and Donna Fagerstrom. While we were reciting our vows, an ice cream truck was driving through the neighborhood loudly playing the music to "Popeye the Sailorman" ... hmm ... less than romantic, but definitely humorous!

On the Saturday evening of our weekend honeymoon, we drove out to Grand Haven to eat a nice dinner at Bil Mar's on the lakefront. So since we both had separate plans last night (the actual day of our anniversary), we postponed celebrating until this afternoon. I talked Mr. Jones into driving out to Grand Haven for the afternoon for a repeat of our honeymoon dinner.
No outing with Mr. Jones is considered a good thing or the least bit successful without the presence somehow, somewhere of trains ... so, whew ... thank goodness for the Pere Marquette parked right here at Grand Haven! The parking lot next to the train is about as far east of the pier that you can possibly park. I was glad that it would give us a good opportunity for a nice long walk!
This place holds over 35 years of marvelous memories for me, and my first glimpse of the lighthouse, even from a distance, always thrills me ... I measure all other lighthouses against this one. I will admit that the light at St. Joe's is pretty beautiful, but still this one is extra special to me ...
It's very rare to actually get a photograph out here without hundreds of people in the picture. It's not that I mind people, but I would so much prefer a nice picture of the entire pier without one single person in it! I got lucky with the east tower here ...
It was a foggy, hazy, windy, humid kind of day out at Lake Michigan today ... my very favorite kind of afternoon!

I think someday I'd like to spend a whole week out here ... walking, listening to the birds and the waves and the fog horn that so beautifully sounded all afternoon today ... We had walked all the way almost back to the van when this lovely sailboat headed out to the lake. I wish we could have seen it pass by the lighthouse ~ would've made a beautiful picture ~ but I was way too tired (and hungry) to walk all the way back just to get the shot ...
We drove down to Bil-Mar's at about 3:40 only to find out they had no intention of opening the restaurant to anyone until 5:00! So we drove into town and had a yummy dinner at Rosebud's instead! All in all, a very nice anniversary celebration!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Urban-style "Kids Games" 2008

I'm going to attempt to tell you about "Kids Games, West Michigan 2008." From what I hear, this is a city-wide program hosted by area churches and urban groups throughout Grand Rapids. I don't know if it extends to other cities or not! I googled "Kids Games" and got about a million different children's game sites, but nothing at all to do with this program!

Mr. Jones and I volunteered at the "Kids Games" sponsored by Urban Family Ministries. It was held at Martin Luther King Academy, located near Madison and Logan Streets. It's an evening thing, from 6:00 until 9:00 Monday through Friday. Mr. Jones was able to help out Tuesday and Wednesday evenings ~ I was available those nights as well as tonight.
There is an opening 15 minutes of enthusiastic singing, all focused on how much God loves us! They did some great songs with the children, all of whom were very musical.
The children were divided into groups "A" through "L", male and female, based on their age. Then four of these groups would be put together to begin the rotation of activities. Here are groups A-D studying about nutrition. Each night, the nutrition leader (Karen) would entertain the children with her great teaching ability, and talk about healthy eating habits, the food groups, obesity, etc. She taught about natural sugar versus man-made sugar tonight. The children were given two little signs: one had a sun on it, the other had a picture of a man. Karen would show them a grocery item and ask if it was a natural sugar or a man-made sugar. The kids would respond by raising the appropriate sign. She asked if any of the children would like an M & M. She informed the kids that whoever wanted the M & M would first have to "work it off" and then they could eat it. So she chose a small boy who was very eager for his M & M ~ but he had to run in place for 60 seconds before he could have it! She had an ordinary looking sucker and told the kids it would take almost 10 minutes of running in place to burn off the sugar that was packed into that sucker! Not many children were very interested in running in place for 10 minutes just to have a sucker!
Our next rotation was to the gym where the kids played a game called, "Cross the sea." It's a basic running game from one side of the gym to the other. The yellow-shirted folk were the sharks, and if you were tagged, you had to sit down. They only good thing about being caught by a shark was that you then became a shark and could catch other kids; except you had to stay seated. With our group of little kids, most of them did not want to admit to being caught by the shark and would just continue running ... so the leaders had a talk about honesty and playing fair ... and really tried hard to keep the kids accountable. But most of the kids in groups A - D were between 5 and 7 years of age, so it was difficult.
After 25 minutes in the gym, it was time for Drama. Each night, there have been skits about two Bible heroes: David from the Old Testament, and then Jesus from the New Testament. They did a really good job with this part of the program. Some seminary students who attend Eastern Avenue CRC were in charge, and they were excellent at teaching some pretty difficult concepts to these kids. Tonight, both stories centered on situations that were fair as well as unfair. It was interesting to see how the kids were able to share some of their own stories about times when they have been in fair or unfair situations.
Here is group A drawing a poster of some good things in their lives ...
From 8:00 until 9:00 there was something called Track Time and children could choose either Dance, Woodworking, Arts & Crafts, Jump roping, Archery, Horse riding (!) ~ but whatever activity they chose, they had to stick with that one thing throughout the week. I volunteered in Arts & Crafts. Tonight we decorated flip-flops. This is Shamarianna gluing the sides of her flip-flops in preparation for glitter and to attach buttons and other assorted items. Mr. Jones was helping out in Woodworking the two nights he volunteered. They made tool boxes the first night and then made a bird house last night. Pretty nice!
A mosaic that hangs on the hallway of the school
I'm pretty tired after three nights of "Kids Games." The whole situation was rather a stretch for me ... lots of new people, tons of different children every night, constant chaos, names that I could not begin to pronounce and immediately forgot (!) ... my natural impulse the first night was not to return the next! But I'm glad I was able to hang in there and see my commitment through. I am thankful to the Lord for this truth: "My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

Monday, June 23, 2008

The good, the bad, and the ugly ...

THE GOOD: Behold our new van! It's a 2007 Chrysler Town & Country, one of those stow and go vehicles, almost identical to Andrew and Sabrina's, except for the color. Mr. Jones almost never buys a brand new vehicle. He usually shops around for bargains on almost-new ones.
We looked at a 2008 model, almost exactly like this one, but it was more than twice the price. So ~ good job, Mr. Jones! My favorite thing about it is that it has separate heating and cooling controls for the front seat. Whew! No more freezing trips to Texas for me!
The seat belts were very awkward to use in the back seat of our 1996 model because they were not separate seats. The back seat on our new van has bucket seats ~ much easier to maneuver back there! And such a nice metallic blue color. I like it very much.

THE BAD AND THE UGLY: This is our pathetic lawn mower. I have nothing nice to say about it except that it does manage to cut the grass.
Notice the wheel situation. Okay! I admit it! I am the culprit who did this to the wheels. It was totally unintentional. I was just being a bit too meticulous by our fences, trying to get the grass cut as close to the fence as possible and caught the wheel(s) underneath the fence. Well, you can see for yourself, this makes for a less than optimal steering situation!
See how the wheels are pointing in opposite directions? When you get behind this monstrosity and try to push it, it wants to go BOTH directions ... at the SAME TIME. It takes a lot of strength to keep it going in any semblance of a straight line. I think my arms are gaining muscles from my endeavor ... but like I said, it does cut the grass!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Creative Science Investigators

Mr. Jones and I volunteered three mornings over at Calvary Church this week. They sponsored something called CSI: Creative Science Investigators. Children from Kindergarten through Grade Five were invited to spend the morning at church having fun with science. I worked with crafts (my specialty) and Mr. Jones was in the nursery (his specialty). The children were divided by age and each separate group of 6-8 children had a group leader (adult or high school age). In the craft room, there were 12 tables set up with six adult craft leaders. So we had plenty of help ~ but there were a lot of children too! I met some really nice women this week (the other craft leaders) that I didn't even know existed a week ago.
Tuesday morning, we helped the children make these fossils. It's difficult for me to describe this concoction, but it was equal parts of coffee grounds and flour, mixed with salt and then just a tiny bit of water. The children got to mix the ingredients, pat it down onto foil, and then pick out an insect (plastic!) to press into their mixture.
On Wednesday, we did sand art. The kids had so much fun with this! It was interesting to watch them making designs with the sand. Some of the younger kids just wanted to pour the sand into their bottles and shake it all up together to see what would happen; but most of them did a striped pattern of some kind. I think they turned out very nicely.

Thursday, we used fabric crayons. Every child was given an outlined picture of the organs of the human body (heart, lungs, liver, stomach, etc.). They colored the picture and then we ironed their finished product onto a white T-shirt. I didn't even know there were such things as fabric crayons! And they worked really well IF you outlined the picture first in black, and then were careful to use bold colors and pressed very hard. I forgot my camera Thursday, so I can't show you how they turned out. Altogether, there were more than 200 children that came through our craft area at 20-minute intervals; so it was fast-paced and a lot of fun. When they weren't with us in crafts, they were in the lab participating in science experiments, or they were studying rock formations and other cool things like that. There was also a chapel session to start the morning off where one of our youth pastors, Brian, got the kids excited about God being the Creator of everything!
Mr. Jones took care of the babies of the adult helpers. He had about five assistants, who harrassed him constantly. We made him exit the nursery the same way the little kids do, through the gate in the castle. We had a great time being involved with CSI. Next week, we get to help out at a thing called "Kids Games" downtown at Martin Luther King School with Urban Family Ministries! How blessed are we?!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's Diana's birthday today ...

It's Diana's birthday. I hope you find a way to send her a birthday greeting today. This is the year she turns 29 and for the rest of her life, she will want to SAY she is 29 even though she has moved on to other numbers. So this is the last (and first ) year she can say she is 29 and be truthful about it! This will not seem like a big deal to her today; but trust me ~ it will a few years from now.

So ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I just want you to know, Diana, that we are thinking of you today with love. We are counting the days until you and the children are here in Grand Rapids to see everyone who miss all of you so much. We are overjoyed that you are coming home!

"Praise the Lord; praise God our Savior! For each day He carries us in His arms." Psalm 68:19

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mmmm ... strawberries!

Mr. Jones and I went strawberry picking at Krupp's Farm early this morning. It's been a long time since I visited this place. I think the last time I was here was to cut down a Christmas tree back about 15 years ago ...
I think I have picked strawberries once or twice before in my life ... but today, I let Mr. Jones do most of the picking while I looked around and took pictures.
This is the little white flower that somehow miraculously turns into a strawberry! Isn't that cool?

This one wasn't quite ripe yet for picking ... I could hear folk trying to explain to little children how the berry had to be completely RED before it would taste good and should be picked. There were a lot of grandparents and grandchildren there early this morning ...
Mr. Jones picked eight pounds. I did help out a little bit; but it was such a pretty day, and I love farms!
There is a very small petting zoo here ... which included these two adorable little pigs, a bunch of baby chicks, some goats and cows ... very cute. I think when the Pahman grandchildren arrive next month, we will just have to visit this beautiful farm!
There is also a nice ice cream shop that sells mini-$1 cones! Even more reason to visit!
There are plenty of U-pick strawberry patches on this farm. The owners said there were enough strawberries to last for 3-4 weeks worth of picking. I'm sure Mr. Jones and I will come back for more ... this time, I'll do my share of picking.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

... the riches of His kindness ...

Happy Father's Day 2008! I hope your day, wherever you are, has been as beautiful as the day here in Grand Rapids. We enjoyed worshiping and serving God this morning at church and then joined Cookie and mom at Olive Garden for lunch. We wanted to honor him today on this special day. We had such a nice time with them!

I was at mom and Roy's house Thursday afternoon, just hanging out (!) and took this picture in Cookie's flower garden ~ he loves flowers ~ and he cuts these little miniature roses every day and brings them into the house for my mother. Do you see the tiny insect there inside the rose? Isn't he cool? I think if you click on the picture, it will enlarge and you can see his antennae are multi-colored! And look at his delicate little legs! My kind Father made him (her) and this wonderfully intricate blossom, and everything that our eyes can see ~ and stuff we can't see, right down to microcreatures and our own DNA!

I'm thankful today that God is my Father. I like how David describes him in Psalm 103 ~

The LORD is merciful and gracious;
he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.
He has not punished us for all our sins,
nor does he deal with us as we deserve.
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
He has removed our rebellious acts as far away from us
as the east is from the west.
The LORD is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
For he understands how weak we are;
he knows we are only dust.
PSALM 103:8-14 NLT

There are many kinds of fathers here on earth ... and I suppose a person could spend endless days mourning the fact that his or her father was less than desirable ... but I'm glad God is my Father! I hope I can live my life according to His will, honoring His name, for His kingdom and for His glory. There is no one like Him in all the earth.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mr. Turtle makes an announcement ...

Jackson is four years old today! We hope your day is extra special, Jackson. We're sorry we can't be there for your party on Friday, but we certainly hope your birthday box is delivered on time! It's been two months now since we were at your house in Austin. We made lots of nice memories together building marble runs, going to the zoo and Sea World, playing at the playground, going to church, reading books, and just being together ...
Jackson and Grandpa enjoying their time together ...
Jackson rescuing Karis from a stalled car ...
We love and miss you!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A rather foreign situation ...

Sunday morning, I received kind of a last-minute invitation to my friend Angela's house. She said her 50th birthday was Tuesday and she was having friends over. So after working at church this morning, I drove out to Ada with my map in hand. After getting completely lost on the way (the map was worthless), I did finally find Angela's house. She has a very welcoming front porch ~ I love her bright yellow front door.
Angela is part of an international group of women. They meet on a regular basis and help each other get used to America! I've told you about several of these women who attend our Wednesday morning exercise class, and two of them were at Angela's this morning. I had my camera with me, but somehow it just seemed hokey to be snapping pictures of them for no other reason than to show you their faces ... so I didn't.
For quite awhile this morning, I was the only woman who spoke English as a first language. So, since most of them were from Germany, they were naturally speaking German! It was the oddest feeling to be surrounded by a bunch of women and not understand a single word of their conversation! But it was good for me to know how it feels for them all the time. There were several small children speaking both German and English, back and forth, not skipping a beat! But when these women speak English, it is hesitant and rather broken. You can see them working out the interpretation before they speak; and even when they do, their pronunciation is very ... German! "Ve vanted to verk, but zey vould not let us" (for example).
I posted these plaques for Adam's benefit, since he was a four-year German student in high school. Can you read them, Adam? I wandered around Angela's pretty house and took just a few pictures. It's very colorful inside (lots of yellows and bright blues), with interesting artifacts from their travels all around Europe. I did go back to the kitchen and join the women, who forced themselves to speak in English so that I wouldn't feel left out. It was a unique experience for me to be in the minority, but after resisting the temptation to leave after the first five minutes, I rather enjoyed getting to know them!

When I first met Angela, two years ago now, I knew we would be good friends. I wish you could all meet her ~ I know you would love her too!