Thursday, August 30, 2012

Julia Number 4

Grace wanted a new Julia for her birthday. Beppe sent her money and so Julia was ordered. Here is a frame by frame of Grace opening the Amazo.n box where Jules lived. Number 4 is now living in Grace's bed along side Number 3 and Big Jules. I've been trying to convince Grace that she needs to give me Number 3 (she is treadbare) before she disintegrates and she has Number 4. Grace won't have any of it, she reckons that Number 4 doesn't smell nice yet and is too nice. 

I wonder what is in the box?

Number 3 and Number 4
Precious Cuddles
Can you spot the old one and the new one?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Baking US Style

We were given a grocery basket when we moved into the house and the peanut butter biscuits mixture was part of it. I bought the cheesecake mixture as we were invited to dinner and had to bring a dessert and my oven didn't work (yet) so what do you bring that is not too expensive? Cheesecake out of a packet ofcourse!! 

Once the oven did work, I whipped up (LOL) a batch of peanut butter biscuits, they didn't taste too bad, the packet didn't make many though :(. 

All the ingredients
Final product, notice how all the biscuits came out even
(NO Mama I didn't weigh each piece of dough!!)
The cheesecake out of a box, it wasn't bad
First Baking effort out of a box! 
There is so much more to tell you about groceries, shopping, couponing and cooking/baking in general that it will have to have a post of it's own. 

Albert's Seminary Update

I thought that it was high time that I updated you with what I have been keeping myself busy with. Hanneke has been doing a great job of keeping you up to date as to what we have all been up to as a family. When not doing fun stuff with the family I have had my head down doing some language study.

I started with Summer Greek. Providentially I had been able to test out of the first half of Summer Greek. This allowed us time to settle in as a family, and gave me a bit of time to try and get myself up to speed with the Greek that I had already learned.

Well, they call it Intensive Greek, and it certainly was that! The students called it Kamikaze Greek, and it certainly felt like it sometimes! While I had already done half a year of Greek, it took me a while to get up to speed with where the other students were at. They were using a different text book to mine, and so different authors mean slightly different teaching approaches.

Each class day began with a test on the previous days lesson, as well as the entire vocabulary that we had learned to date. Each day we had to learn 10-15 Greek words, and some part of Greek Grammar. There were also exercises for each chapter that we had to complete.

Despite  a lot of nervousness, I managed to do quite well on my mid term test, much better than I had anticipated. The Lord is gracious and answers prayer. The mid term test was after 1 and a half weeks, and then we had the final exam last week Tuesday. I have not had my final results back yet, but I was pretty happy with my Final Exam. The translation was a selection from John 1, a chapter which Rev Vaatstra patiently worked through with me as we worked through my Greek together. Thank you Rev Vaatstra! So while I still had to work through the passage translating the words I was reasonably familiar with the passage.

So my Greek has come quite a long way over the past couple of weeks. However it is only the beginning. I need to work on my parsing (pulling the words to bits), and also continue to work on my vocabulary. We have been encouraged to continue reading our Greek bibles before we start Second Year Greek in a week or two. We also will begin our classes with a test on all the Vocabulary that we have learnt to date. Review, Review, Review!

It is awesome to get a glimpse of the richness of God's Word! As I get more fluent I am sure that I will see much more.

So that was Greek. Last week Tuesday we had a lovely afternoon and evening off, before starting a Hebrew intensive the next day!

The Hebrew Intensive was just (!) 3 days. We were introduced to the Alphabet, and memorised that for a test the next day. I have to admit, that it was a struggle to get my head around the alphabet. The Greek Alphabet is pretty similar to the English Alphabet. However when I first looked at Hebrew, it really just looked like lots of squiggly lines.

One of my classmates introduced me to a song on You Tube. This song was very helpful in learning the letters. Here is the link:

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: This song is highly addictive, especially if you listen to it at least 20 times.

 I now have this song permanently ingrained in my head! However it has had the desired effect, and I now have a reasonable grasp of the alphabet. I still play it every now and then to remind me. Hanneke has even caught me dancing to it in my Office. Most embarrassing, but I did manage to reduce her to tears of laughter.

Yesterday (Monday) we had our Orientation day. Thankfully one of the Seminary wives offered to look after the girls , and so Hanneke was able to spend the day at Seminary as well. I am sure that Hanneke will post some of her thoughts, but it was good for her to hear what the Professor's expectations of me were.

What are some of the things that I took away from Orientation?

Firstly, the need for balance. There was a strong emphasis on not neglecting Hanneke and the little ladies in training. The point was made several times that compromises are going to have to be made sometimes. There is a real danger in the ministry for perfectionism. That is something I freely confess that I struggle with. We were told that we must 'learn to tolerate incompleteness'. I'm glad that I have Hanneke to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Secondly, the need to be organised. The Senior students that I have been talking to have given me some good advice. Without exception all talk about the high work load, and keeping on top of things.

Thirdly, the need to continue to develop godliness. Seminary workload is not an excuse to put aside personal devotions and prayer.

Today, we attended the Seminary Retreat, attended by the Faculty and the students, with most of the wives, including Hanneke,  attending as well. We had two talks on 'Recovering a Biblical Tradition of Pastoral Care", taken by the Rev Al Bezuyen, who is also going to be taking me for Catechetics.

After lunch it was the traditional water balloon catching game, followed by water balloon throwing. Someone who shall remain nameless ambushed her husband twice! (editors note, haha, got take advantage of the opportunities as they present themselves!!)

So tomorrow work begins in earnest. I have all my books, which I'll fill you in on another time. Now it's time to get stuck in, I'm looking forward to it!

Prayer Requests: 
  • Please pray for good time management and organisation. 
  • Please also pray for good retention, as I get back into the Student mode.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Random Photos in July 2012

Another Post for the Family :). I've finally managed to post about most of the things we did in July. Some photo's didn't warrant a post all of it's own but I would like to share with you, so here is a random collection. :)

Sprinkler on a VERY hot day
Clifford's drying
Having fun at the neighbours house with their granddaughter
Kate :)
Having fun at the park with other seminary kids
I wonder who will get wet by the 'timewaterbomb' ?
HUGE Taco Pizza (we were taken out for pizza)
Girls reading down the basement stairs
A smiling water tower

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lawn Mowing - The American Way

As part of our lease, the landlord gets the lawn mowed once a week. Here are some photo's, quite impressive if I say so my self. I can't get over how quickly they do it, about 20 minutes including weed eating the edges of the grass!

The front of the house

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kate's Birthday Presents

Kate had her birthday about a month before we left for Chicago and so it was unpractical to give her lots of presents as we would've had to take them on the plane. So on her birthday invite I asked  very nicely to consider giving Kate cash for her birthday so that she could buy her presents over here. She was VERY blessed and ended up with about $124 US dollars which is beyond Kate's comprehension. 

So the 'Clifford' shopping started, I had a look on the internet before we left and thought that it might be nice to buy her a few 'Clifford' things/toys as she is Clifford MAD. We visited quite a few secondhand stores here to look for various things and managed to buy all that is in the photo below for about $6US, that leaves still quite a sum of money, what next? Meet Angry Bird! Kate was quite taken by them and so two Angry Bird games and a soft toy later, some money was spent, but still lots to go! What next? My Little Pony. Two ponies, a light up one and a big 'queen' one and a DVD. A pillow pet (dog ofcourse) and some Friends Lego (a Dog Show) ended the spending spree. Phew! 

(I should mention that a lot of what we bought for Kate, was either second-hand (in excellent condition) or was reduced or on sale, thus making her $124 go a VERY long way and it just about tested my shopping (for presents) patience!)

Clifford from the secondhand stores
All her presents (not the lego, forgot to add that to the photo)
Angry bird games, Pony DVD and Pony
Clifford and Angry Bird
All her Clifford Stuff. 
Footnote: Since these photo's were taken, Kate spotted friends of Clifford at a garage sale. I didn't have the cash on me at the time but we went home and counted my cash out (for those of you who have lived in the States, there are a LOT of coins in change) and it came to $4, the friends were $6. I told Kate to take the money and ask nicely if she could have them for $4, quite an achievement for her. The people did and Kate is now the proud owner of T-Bone, Cleo and Mac. (Her bed is getting rather crowded!)

T-Bone, Clifford, Cleo and Mac

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Car

(I've had this post in my draft folder for a while now, but every time I think about taking a photo of the car, it either rains or Albert has got it. I've done quite a bit of driving since I wrote this post and getting used to it.)

It's a seven seater.
We thought naively that buying a second/third hand car would be easy, go to the caryard/online and just buy one. It turned out that is isn't quite that easy. People thrash their cars apparently, ie there are no rules with regard to servicing them (like WOFs). So how would we know what is a good car and what isn't?  Also we naively thought that for the money we sold our van (which we loved) we could buy a equivalent car/van. We didn't need anything flash as long as it drove and didn't need too many repairs, what was the problem? Well people here said that under 10K that it would be impossible! ARGG, we didn't want to spend that much.

Thankfully God had a plan there too and one of the church members volunteered to go out with Albert and look for one. (for those of you who have seen "Fly Wheel", apparently car salesman are really like that, and so for us outsiders, who know nothing about cars, how do you know who to trust?) It took them the whole Saturday but finally at the last car yard (by then they had just about given up hope) THE car was found. The church member managed to squeeze a good deal out of the dealer (who providentially happened to be a Christian). 

The end result a Honda Odyssey which makes me laugh! We sold our van to a family who were growing out of their Honda Odyssey! Even though our car is pretty basic for USA standards I think it is pretty fancy. It's got button to unlock and lock (a novelty for us) and it also has a button to open and close the sliding doors! It's got cruise control, AIRCON (a necessity here) and a stereo. 

My security blanket
We've also bought a GPS as navigation around the suburbs is a bit frightening to say the least. It is VERY busy here and so getting step-by-step directions of where to go, what lane to be in and some advance warning when to turn is necessary and lifesaving!  The advantage of this compared to printing directions of google, if you miss a turn etc accidentally, it recalculates! It also has a feature, to go home, so no matter where you are, it leads you home! Another bonus to the GPS is that it tells you how fast you are going but more importantly what the speed limit is, speed limits seem to change at will or so it seems!

Albert has most of the driving so far and is getting pretty confident in driving around. I've managed to do some driving too but still with my security blanket (GPS) firm in hand! I haven't been brave enough to 'brave' the freeway. 

Now that we have a car, our options are endless, we were walking everywhere in the stifling heat but walking gets you only so far! We've now managed to do some birthday shopping for Kate (more on that to come) and Grace, also managed to buy some more groceries, cleaning products and some household things we have needed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Egg Drop

This is one of these posts where pictures speak a thousand words. I could tell you what an egg drop is, how we made, how we tested it, and finally how it did. I'll give you a brief summary and for the rest I'll let the pictures speak ;). 

In the school holidays the local library organises fun things for the kids to do. We were only in the country for about a week when we discovered that the library was holding an 'egg drop' competition, they even supplied the materials! It seemed like a fun thing to do as a family especially since the weather was so hot that the girls couldn't even go and play outside and we didn't know many people yet and also we didn't have a car yet. 

So the idea behind the eggdrop is that you make a contraption (using the materials provided) for the egg to sit in so that when it is dropped from a height the egg will stay whole! We had a lot of fun both as adults (someone's got to make sure it works!!!) as well as the kids!

Initial design stage
Rough design
I wonder where the kids went?
Trying it out
(it took us about three modifications to the original design)

oh oh - FAIL

The real deal at the library
WOW look at that, we did IT!
Girls with their prizes, they each got a
$5 Bakers Square voucher,
 a voucher for a slice of pizza and a trophy. 
We bought an Oreo cream pie and a..
Cherry pie with the Bakers Square vouchers.
We haven't yet spent the pizza vouchers, we are going to use those on Tuesday the 21st of August as Albert will have done his final Greek exam, time for a celebration I say!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chicago CBD - Part Two

Following on from yesterday's post. Here is the final instalment. While we were there crossing the road a lady approached us and told us that the Vice President was coming through any minute. Things now clicked as there were a lot of police men directing traffic, closed roads and the very busy road was all of a sudden empty. It was quite a spectacle. I managed to catch most of it on camera. Enjoy :) 

Road before the VP came through
Our first glimpse of the lake, can't even see the other side,
are you sure it is not a sea?
Buckingham Fountain
Close up of one portion
With the lake in the back ground
Preparing the way - notice the police cars to the right
The start of the motorcade
I wonder in which car he is?
Even an Ambulance is included
Eating our afternoon tea

Who are the monkey/squirrels? 
Showing Murray the wildlife
One of the trains we went on
Some cooling off
A sundae was about as cheap as a cone - huh?
Isn't this clever?
Girls on a ......
Murray and friends on the bull