Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hunting for Hidden Treasure

We usually try to have a special "Family Night" on Mondays. This past Monday, Fabio and I prepared a treasure hunt for the children.

We first gave them this instruction sheet:

Hunting for Hidden Treasure:
1. Walk into kitchen

2. Look on top of Rabby's cage

3. Open box

These instructions were easy enough to follow! They quickly found the box placed on top of Rabby's cage and excitedly opened it.

But it was empty!!!

Then we gave them a second instruction sheet. It read:

Hunting for Hidden Treasure:

1. Dominique- give Joshua five, six times

2. Joshua and Dominique: Go up and down the stairs ten times

3. Go to the basement bedroom and find a yellow car inside one of the shoes

4. Take the yellow car and put it under the bed.

5. Pick up the blue lego.

6. Take the blue lego and jump on the trampoline 15 times each

7. Go to the den and return lego to lego box

8. Spin around seven times

9. Run backwards to the other side of the room

10. Get piggy back rides from Mommy and Daddy

11. Find a piece of paper under the couch in den

So, they excitedly followed all of these instructions, and located the paper under the couch. Fabio had written on it: Use the paper and pens on the floor to write Mommy a note saying, "I love you."
So, they did, except that Dominique just drew me some hearts. :)
When they gave me the notes, I gave them a map of our house with arrows directing them into their bedroom.
In the bedroom, they hunted for another map directing them into the kitchen.
In the kitchen, they hunted for another map directing them into the living room.
In the living room, they hunted, and found a treasure box!
Upon opening it, they found TWO lollipops for each of them! (All-natural and sugar-free, of course! :)
YAY! A hidden treasure!

While they enjoyed their treasure, Daddy took some time to talk to them about the more important treasure we should seek: JESUS! and the wisdom that He gives.

We asked them which map was easier to follow? The first one, of course! The only problem was, that box was empty! So, we also talked about perseverance until we find the prize, and not taking the easy way out, or giving up too soon.

Then we read Proverbs 2:

1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,
3 and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the LORD gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

The whole chapter is a good read!

Here is a little video clip of Joshua explaining what he learned from our little object lesson.

Then, we asked Dominique what she learned too...... And *just* when you think you are really getting through....... (listen for her answer!! :)

(In case you didn't understand what she said, she said she learned a story of Jonah! Huh? What? LOL)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Last of Fall ......

Big Boy working hard raking the leaves

Big girl working hard raking leaves!

Sweet smilin' kids :)

I love Dominique's laughing face in this picture! Daddy was tickling them to try to get Israel to smile for the camera! It worked for Dominique, anyway!

So much fun playing in the leaves!

Israel peeking around the tree at Dominique

Happy boy! He had a leaf in each hand and was waving them all around like little flags, thoroughly enjoying himself!

This was a different day, when I let the kids play outside in the rain. :) It was unusually warm for November this year, and it was really only sprinkling. So, they had fun digging in the mud! I figured it would be one of the last times that the ground was not frozen this year, so I let them dig and get all filthy muddy. They had a blast!

And, sure enough, it seems autumn is now over! The leaves have all fallen now, and the ground is truly frozen. We have had a few snowflakes, but nothing too heavy yet. Enough to excite the children, though! Thanksgiving is behind us, Christmas decorations are now up! Time for a new season of the year.

And before I close, I will include this special couple's picture. Last Saturday we attended a wedding for the associate pastor of our church, Todd and his bride, Susan. Many people had been praying for many years that the Lord would bring him a wife, and He did answer that prayer! The wedding was beautiful, and they certainly look very in love. God bless you both!

Monday, November 26, 2007


Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and it was a wonderful time!
We started our festivities on Wednesday evening, having a Thanksgiving dinner with the hispanic group. While there were quite a few sick, we did have a nice time with those present. :)

Then, for Thursday, we went to my brother Aaron's house and as always, had a nice time with the family.

I thought this was rather memorable: my brothers Scott and Aaron peeling the potatoes! (Not an everyday occurance!)

Something else I found rather memorable was seeing all the men gathered around the coloring table, enjoying a little turkey art project!

A little while after I took this picture, one of the boys complained that he couldn't find a turkey to color. Suzy wondered why, as she had printed enough for all the kids. "Because all the adults are coloring them!" he replied. :)

I think Aaron did a nice job, don't you?

Dragon Tails! (on Lisa)

Suzy had some games planned, for both the children and adults to participate in. It was fun!

AJ and Moriah (my nephew and neice)

After we played some games with the adults, the children also played Pictionary. I thought this was funny: Joshua got "cow" to draw. He started out drawing a straight line with an udder hanging from it, and then went on to draw the legs, tail, and finally the body and head. :)

The children are sitting here waiting for their turn to tell what they are thankful for.

I love Thanksgiving!

And now that it is behind us, we got out our Christmas decorations and worked on it all weekend! With three small children to "help" you decorate, it is not usually a matter of getting it all out and putting it up and being done. But, in several small increments, we did finally get everything up and they are all enthralled with the lights!
I still have some final pictures of fall - raking leaves and such - to post if I get around to it. It seems the fall is truly over. No more leaves falling, but snow instead! No more light jacket weather - time to bundle up!
More Later.....

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Joshua has really taken off with reading in the past few months and we are really proud of him. :)

About a month or two ago, my sil Amanda gave us "Curious George Learns the Alphabet" and it is a pretty neat book. :) That was the first we had ever read of Curious George. Well, the other day I found "The Complete Adventures of Curious George" at a thrift shop, so I picked it up. I showed it to Joshua as soon as we got to the car, and he immediately started in reading it. We went to get groceries next, and he took the (rather large) book along, reading it while walking all through the store, and continued this way all day long until he had finished the whole thing - all 400 pages of it! And he has continued to enjoy it all this week, again and again....

Well, anyway, the day we got it, I decided to video him a bit reading it, so here is the video. I was mostly surprised with the intonation and such that he read with. We have *very* briefly touched on different forms of punctuation, like commas and quotation marks and such, but nothing in depth. But, he seemed to know just how to read it, with so much emotion! It was cute to see him so enthralled in something like this!

Friday, November 16, 2007

What a Day!

Fabio is in the process of becoming a naturalized American, so yesterday he had to take off work to be fingerprinted. His appointment was at 8am and turned out to not take very long at all - he was home a little after 9:00!

So, he suggested we have a family day, which I'm always up for! I had been wanting to take the kids downtown on the train for some time now, and I thought it would be much easier with Fabio along. So, we looked online for free stuff to do on Thursdays, and found the Aquarium to be free on Thursdays! YAY! We packed a lunch, got coats on, hustled to get everyone pottied and loaded in the car to make the 10:13 train. It was already about 9:50 by that time, and I hate rushing to make a train, so I was already feeling stressed, when Fabio suggested I double-check the Aquarium's site to make sure today was free. So, I ran back inside and guess what? November's free day is Tuesday! I got to feeling so stressed! I had only a few seconds to figure out where else was free on Thursdays and still make the 10:13 train!

Well, we realized that it was no longer possible to make the train anyway, so we let the kids out of the car so we could think things through. We decided to go to the Field Museum anyway, even though it wouldn't be free, and make it on the 11:13 train, which gave me time to prepare a sack lunch and get my mind together and at ease. (Trains only come once every hour after rush hour is over.)

We still left the house in plenty of time. We got to the train station and tried to find a parking spot. We did - at the furthest end of the lot, of course. We had almost walked to the station when I saw a sign stating that the lot was only for members and all other cars would be towed and fined $125! So, Fabio ran back to move the car while I took the kids to the station to buy our tickets.

I inserted a $20 bill into the ticket machine and, of course, you can't buy multiple tickets at once. You have to do them one .... at..... a ..... time..... and the machine gave me my moutain of change in coins! So, I was rushing to re-insert the coins to buy the remaining three tickets when I see Fabio come RUNNING down the hall, stating that the train was on the platform!!! AAAAHHHH!!! I grabbed the rest of the change out of the machine, grabbed the kids up and we all raced up the stairs to the platform.... just in time to see the train pulling out of the station!
I almost cried. I couldn't believe it! Now what would we do?

We walked back down the steps dejectedly. Should we drive into the city? Wait another hour for the next train? Then we would really be pushing it with naps and all.... Go home and forget it all?

As we walked through the station, I saw a couple of girls walking toward us all excited, approaching the ticket machines and I thought I could at least sell our tickets to them! I asked where they were going and they said, "Downtown." Hmmm..... next question: "What time does your train leave?" "At 11:13. It will be here any minute."
OOoooohhhhhhh! So, the train that had left the station was the SOUTH-bound train! Hallelujah! So, we all RACED back up the stairs to the platform one more time and this time we just made it into the NORTH-bound train! <>

Now before I go on with the rest of our day, let me interject a little here about trains, stations, and such. This was only our second experience of riding the train in America, although we did it almost daily in Japan. Now, let me tell you, it is a much more pleasant experience in Japan. Now that I had something to compare it with, I couldn't believe certain things about the trains in America: there are no schedules or train route maps posted on the walls in the station. There are no signs on the platforms that let you know the trains' direction and destination. There are no indicators on the train itself of these things either. And another welcome commodity would be a clock in the station or on the platform or both! (My watch battery is dead.) Once we did arrive at Roosevelt Station, wow! That place is an embarrasement to the city of Chicago! It does look like they are working on making some improvements, but those improvements look about twenty years overdue.... Then there are other little things, like being able to buy multiple tickets at once, being able to receive change in bills as well as change, etc. So, those of you reading from Japan, be thankful for the spiffy train system in place there! :)

Okay, so we did finally make it to the Field Museum, and we did enjoy it. :) The kids enjoyed the train ride too! The only other time they had ridden the Metra was three years ago, almost exactly. Dominique was 5 weeks old, and Joshua was 2 years, 4 months old. We told them about that time yesterday, and Joshua said he remembered it! We thought he was just bluffing, so we asked him who we were with and he said, "Mr. John and Miss Karen and Little Elizabeth" (the Leitzels). So, I guess he really did remember it! I guess the train ride had made more of an impression on him than where we went after the ride (Shedd Aquarium), because he didn't seem to have any recollection of that!

So, about the museum: We didn't catch Egypt the last time we were there, and in September, they opened a new exhibit: Crown Family Play Lab. That is a neat place for kids! You can see pics below of the kids playing there, dressed up like turtles. This visit was also neat, because even though it had only been a few months since the last time we were there, Joshua is reading SO much better than he was that time, so he was going all around reading the labels on everything and getting himself an education! (Without me having to explain it all.)

So, a good time was had by all and then it was time to make our way home on the train. We were pre-armed with our tickets this time, and we left the museum with plenty of time to spare to make it to the station. All good. We double-checked that we were on a south-bound train before stepping aboard, and then we relaxed and prepared to enjoy the ride.

Until about 15 minutes later when things started to look... unfamiliar! We were headed to South Chicago instead of the south suburbs! I checked with a train staff member, and he said we would have to ride to the end of the line, wait in the same train, and after a while it would go back the other direction and we could transfer trains at 55th Station. Great! So, it took us about two hours to get back to Homewood! And now I think we have had our fill of train riding for the next three years, at least. Unless we go back to Japan before then. Then I would gladly ride the train daily again. :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pictures By Michelle

I hired a friend of mine to do some family pictures for us and I was really pleased with how they turned out! She does really nice work. Our only problem was Israel! He is usually SO laid-back, but he had been teething for about three days and was terribly out of sorts.... So what did this all-natural mama do out of desperation to get a decent family picture??? Gave him an M&M we had in our car from the leaders retreat!! That's why he looks like he was sucking on something in these pictures - because he was. I really should post at least one of him balling. They were memorable too!

Pictures By Michelle H.