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Preview: Jen and Derrick: Just Life

Four Ducks

"Yes. Wait a minute... no." Our life in a nutshell.

Updated: 2017-11-15T07:29:51.798-05:00



Sushi night with the James family for Carrie's birthday!


Graham did the First Lego League Jr team this year again, and in large part, the team members stayed the same. FLL Jr. now has over 11,000 teams around the world, and this year's theme was Aqua Adventure. Today was the Exhibition, in which each team has to present their model to two reviewers. Graham's team, the Aquacons, created a water cleaning plant, complete with a motorized purifying element. They learned a lot about clean water this season, including getting to practice filtering real water through a charcoal and soil filter. They did a great job explaining their Lego invention to the reviewers and earned the "Innovation in Design" award. We are especially thankful for Coach Leigh and Coach Ahmed for their endless patience with this group of 2nd and 3rd grade boys! Next year, due to the age group, Oliver, Graham, and Isaac will move on together and pick up three other new members to form a fourth grade team while Nikhil and Yahia lead the 3rd grade team.

The FLL Jr exhibition is held the same day as the high school robotics exhibition, so another fun part of the day is getting to watch Battle Bots. This year, teams formed alliances and competed against one another. Robots had to be able to pass gears up to a person on a raised platform, shoot whiffle balls into a "net," and grab a rope that then hoisted the bots up to a final target. We all love watching the incredible design and programming skills of the high school robotics teams. This year, we noticed there were even teams from Canada at our exhibition!


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As most people know, our boys like to draw. Graham sketched this dark and creepy drawing the week of Halloween. Russell was given the task of disguising a turkey so he (the turkey, not Russ) could avoid being eaten for Thanksgiving. He disguised his turkey as Lord Vader. He even wrote at the top "The force is strong with this turkey." This weekend was the last fall soccer game for both boys. Here is a photo of Russ and his team (including Coach Derrick) after they got their trophies. Russ had so much fun this fall and really developed some good skills, including a nice heel-toe move, and Derrick and Chris are looking forward to coaching together again in the spring. After Russell's game, we had a lot of rain. But we also got this incredible full, double rainbow right out front! Look in the upper right corner to see the second rainbow. Sunday was Graham's last game. Unfortunately, thunder and lightning meant they called the game in the 3rd quarter; however, Graham scored two goals, his 2nd and 3rd of the season. He was so excited. He has grown so much this season, especially in playing offense, which seems to really fit him right now. Check out the videos to see one of his goals (he's #6 in the blue, wearing glasses). After the game, the team and families headed out for a bite to eat. Here's Graham with his teammates, also three very close friends: Dominik, Evan, and Brady. [...]


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The day began with the kids' parade at school. Here's Graham as Kylo Ren from Star Wars

and Russ (minus his mask) as Boba Fett from Star Wars.

We were invited to join our friends one street over for trick-or-treating, and it was a blast. We gathered for dinner, and then the kids and dads trick-or-treated for a good hour and a half while the moms stayed back and handed out candy. Jen liked this arrangement since it was all of about 40 degrees outside. The kids were wiped out but had a lot of fun with their friends.

There was the inevitable trading of candy once they got back of course.


One cute pic from Munchkin Mash at the highschool

Ready for Trunk-or-Treat

Every year, our church hosts Trunk-or-Treat for the neighborhood. This was our first year decorating our car, and Jen and Russ had a ton of fun getting the Prius ready in its Halloween costume!

Russ also helped pass out candy when he was done trunk-or-treating.


Coach Derrick and some of his Kindergarten players


Two weeks ago, it was so warm that Russell and his friend Jonah were outside in shorts and t-shirts!

We had Jonah and his brother, Evan (who is also good friends with Graham), over to play one day after school. All four boys were busy drawing cartoons, and eventually Graham and Evan decided to make a cartoon for every person in their class.

Last weekend, we headed out to Three Cedars Farm with our church friends to do their corn maze and enjoy a bonfire together, complete with hot dogs and s'mores.


Welcome to the world, Neilan James Everett!

Alison, Erik, and big sister Avery welcomed Neilan on Saturday, October 21st.
He was 8 lbs, 6 oz and 21 inches long.


Here's a cute photo from "Bring a Loved One to Lunch" day at the kids' school a few weeks ago. 
Papa D and the boys had a blast!


After 17 years as a high school English teacher, Jen taught her last class of students at BHHS today. She is headed for a new position at West Hills Middle School (in the same district) as their IB Teacher Leader (in charge of 4th-8th grade programming and instruction for the International Baccalaureate Programme there). This has been a tough month as she has anticipated moving out of the classroom, which she still truly loves, but it is also exciting for her to think about the opportunities that await her at WHMS. Her BHHS family bid her a wonderful farewell with cake, flowers, balloons, cards, and lots and lots of hugs.

As a surprise, Jen's best friend, Carrie, showed up as well! Carrie now works for Ann Arbor public schools, and apparently, Jen was so distraught when she left in June, that she just had to get a new job as well! Here they are in the BHHS media center, one last time.

And then they celebrated!


This was a really special weekend for Jen, who got to join her grandma in England to help her celebrate her 90th birthday. Jen was joined by Kate and her dad, as well as Aunt Sarah-Jane, who of course lives in England as well. Jen, Tim, and Kate got to go straight from the plane to Gigi's nursing home, where everyone was all smiles.  By the end of that first day, though, Jen and Kate couldn't keep their eyes open (unlike Pops, who slept the entire flight over and was feeling quite well-rested!). Here they are waiting for the train back into London. On Saturday, everyone enjoyed a day full of birthday festivities. Grandma got to open tons of cards and several gifts mid-morning and then enjoyed a festively-decorated lunch with our family.  After lunch and a very short rest, it was time for the nursing home party. Many residents came down to the lounge to toast the birthday girl and enjoy cake and "bubbly." Even Little Man, Gigi's special friend, enjoyed the treats. It did seem as though he might have had a bit too much bubbly, as he ended up doing the can-can at one point! Though Jen spent most of each day with Gigi, she and Kate were staying at a hotel right next to Tower Bridge in downtown London (right near Sarah-Jane's flat as well). This meant there was a very enjoyable walk along the river each evening and some great sister bonding time. On Sunday, everyone had a nice, relaxing day together. They played some card BINGO at the nursing home and spent a lot of time looking through Gigi's photo albums and sharing wonderful stories. Everyone was sad to say goodbye after a weekend that flew by! Thankfully, Jen is headed back in November, so she doesn't have to wait long before she'll see everyone again.   [...]


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First official soccer game for Russ ... he was one happy player!


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First Day of School

Kindergarten and 3rd Grade!

new friends

and old friends back together again
 (Ollie and Graham haven't been in class together since preschool)


We had a great time this weekend having Derrick's family over for a Labor Day BBQ (which wasn't actually on Labor Day). We had TONS of good food, and it was awesome to have the cousins together to hang out and play. One of our favorite pairings was Percy and Charlotte. Percy quickly realized that Charlotte is a food-dropping machine. He began following her everywhere she went. Charlotte thought this was amazing! [...]


Welcome our newest niece, Natalie Fern. 
Big sister Lauren, big brother Andy, and Dave and Jenna are glowing. Congratulations!


Jen was super excited to donate 9" of hair today after growing it out for over a year! 


Russell is riding a two-wheeler!

After lots of practice (and scraped knees, elbows, and ankles) over the last two weeks, everything just clicked, and Russell is on a roll!

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Lexington 2017 We just enjoyed another great long weekend with Derrick's mom and Daniel up at the cottage they rent in Lexington, MI. This year, we couldn't quite arrange for everyone to be there at the same time, but we did get to hang out with Jamie, Steve, and Charlotte while we were there. We had great weather and lots of good food! The kids always enjoy their trip to the General Store to choose candy. Russell got a giant bag of Good & Plenty, and Graham had an assortment of caramels, black licorice, and fireballs. Back at the cottage, the kids really got into ladder ball this year.  And we did also play cornhole. Charlotte is growing so fast, and she is so funny! The kids loved making her laugh and chasing her around the yard. She was so worn out one day that she fell asleep face first in her mom's lap. What would the cottage be without s'mores?! and stories by the fire... On our last day, we enjoyed a very hot game of miniature golf at a course where 100% of the proceeds support the local Humane Society. We swear Papa D was also there. We need to get a couple of photos with him in them as well, since he is often cooking or behind the camera himself. [...]


Pittsburgh  August is flying by! It has been full of family, this weekend with Jen's side in Pittsburgh. All of her sibs except one were there with their families (Dave and Jenna are expecting baby #3 any day so they weren't able to join us). The first day was spent at the Pittsburgh Museum of Natural History. There was so much to see, and the kids really enjoyed it. The dinosaur exhibits were a huge hit. The dino on Graham's shirt is the same one on display behind him! There were lots of hands-on activities for kids of all ages, including microscopes to look at all kinds of natural surfaces up close. Graham and Russell looked at snake skins, coral, fur, and several other items. We all enjoyed lunch in the museum's cafe, and the highlight was definitely the Dippin' Dots ice cream. Avery loved it! We also got to experience a live-animal encounter. The museum has several animals for educational purposes, including a parrot, a constricting snake, a baby alligator, a chinchilla, and even this skunk! Back at Pops and Ama's, there was time for stories before bed. The next day, we went to the park in the morning. Everyone had fun, and Graham, Pops, and Derrick even played with the quoit, a game of catch with a rubber ring. After we spent some time at the pool in the afternoon, Jen and Kate and their kids had a full-out water balloon fight in the front yard. Even the dads got wet eventually. And then more reading time with Pops [...]


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On Thursday, Grammy arrived for her summer visit. She was really excited to see us and to see the new house and meet Percy. We started off with a walk on the nearby trail that goes for 40 miles start to finish! We just wanted to check out some of the birds and insects. We're so glad that the new house is near so many nature trails and lakes. When we arrived back at the house, our family of deer was hanging out in the backyard. One baby is very shy, but we got a good shot of this little one. On Saturday, we headed out to another new discovery: a beach just 15 minutes away on Cass Lake. It is a great find! Clear water, shallow a long way out so it's very warm, clean beach, and even kayak rental on the weekends.  Graham, Russ, and Grammy buried mom and dad's feet in the sand Then Grammy buried Graham, which didn't end well... and then Russell! We had a great dessert at our new local ice cream place that serves Haagen Dasz, Yummy! We also played lots of Uno, took Percy for several walks, watched a couple of movies, had sushi, and enjoyed our back deck. Grammy headed home on Sunday, but we'll see her again this winter. [...]