Sunday, March 29, 2009

Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure

Several years ago our family was introduced to Max Lucado's Hermie & Friends series. So, when the opportunity came along to write a review for a recent episode, I was quite excited.

In Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure, Hermie's friend Skeeter Skeeto learns that God didn't make a mistake when He created him with a crooked nose. in the midst of a treasure-hunting adventure, he also discovers that his "perfect" and famous brother Sir Sinclair M. Skeeto is not quite as perfect as Skeeter had always believed. Together the brothers finally understand that they both are special just the way God made them, and they are loved as such as well.

The story lives up well to the standard of Hermie & Friends. The message is presented very clearly, but not stiffly, and the story line held the interest of my children all the way through. They laughed and laughed at the silly antics of Hermie and his friends, and they urged Skeeter to use his own gifts and talents to find the treasure they sought.

Once the feature film ended, there was a cartoon short called "Hermie Had a Little Lamb." Although it was cute and comical, my kids didn't seem to get into it all that well. They began to break away from tv time and move on to other things, glancing back occasionally to see what was going on.

All in all, Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure was a well-made story with a good, solid lesson for children. I'm delighted to have it in our video library!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Occasionally it's fun to just take a few snapshots of the kids. This was from a Wednesday when we decided to move school to the church for the afternoon. It's nice to have a change of scenery now and then, especially since Steven and I had been sick for a couple of days before this. Anyway, these are just snapshots of the girls while they did school and Steven napped.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Science is Fun!

It was a week of science fun. We started with an activity while studying mountains. Each of the girls had a piece of construction paper on which they drew as I taught about mountains, their climate, and their plant and animal life. We spent three days working through our overview of mountain life, and they really enjoyed the opportunity to sit and draw. I think they remembered each lesson a little better, too! YAY!Then we had science experiments galore. We were actually two weeks behind on science experiments. Sometimes life just crowds certain things out, I guess. But, we made sure we caught up! We did the past two weeks' experiments and then did this week's as well.

We've been learning about weather for a while. Back in January, we set up a weather station and rain gauge in our back yard. Then, earlier this month we were talking about air pressure and made our own barometer.

Next we learned about compass directions and how we can tell which direction the wind is blowing. This is our weather vane...
We haven't taken it out to try it quite yet. Yesterday was a very still day wind-wise, and we're expecting a lot of rainy storminess over the next few days. So, we'll wait until a dry windy day to go out and test it.

Next we learned about temperature and how a thermometer works. We made our own thermometer with an empty drink bottle, some colored water, a straw, and some clay. When the thermometer was put in warm water, the liquid rose in the straw. When put in cold water, it went back down. When put back on the counter it rose back up just a touch.
And we learned about wind. We did several wind experiments, learning about how air moves from high pressure locations to low pressure locations, like air coming out a balloon. We also talked about the movement of warm and cold air and did an experiment to "watch" hot air move.

Then we decided we wanted to do something just for the fun of it. This week Angie read Hill of Fire by Thomas P. Lewis and Joan Sandin. It's a true story telling about the birth of the volcano Paricutin in Mexico. Also, our read-aloud right now is a fun tall-tale called Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois, a book full of historical information as well as fanciful creativity. The story is set in the weeks surrounding the explosion of the volcanic Pacific island Krakatoa in 1883, known at the noisiest day in history! Meanwhile, a fellow local pastor and his family had traveled to Alaska this week to visit some friends, and the multiple eruptions of Mt. Redoubt have left them stranded, uncertain of when they will be able to leave Alaska to return home.

In the midst of all of this volcanic reading and activity, we just had to make our own volcano. We've seen the way baking soda and vinegar react, but this time we went the whole nine yards and really made a volcano.

The girls mixed up the dough for the "mountain."
Then they created the mountain, molding it up around an empty Coke bottle.
We decided to paint it, but the only semi-appropriate color of paint we had on hand was green. So, we decided to go for a grassy volcano. :-)
The girls finished their painting, and we left it overnight to dry. Then, after lunch today, we erupted Mt. Hibbard! Ah, such fun!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Trip to Monroe

We are so very blessed to, for the first time in our married life, live close to both sets of extended family! We've usually lived within three hours of one of the two families, but the other family was typically a five to eight hour drive away. Living here in Monticello, we are an hour and 45 minutes from Doug's parents and just under three hours from my grandparents. It's a blessing that we are not taking for granted - and we are especially reminded of how special it is as we keep in touch with friends and family who don't have this privilege right now!

So, weekend before last it was our fun trip to Judsonia, and this past weekend it was a beautiful spring trip to Monroe. It was such a gorgeous spring day that we spent most of our visit outdoors.
Grandma was ready to do her spring planting, and the grandkids were more than happy to dig in and help! Playing in the dirt is always fun! PopPop built a flower box, it was filled with dirt, and the kids went to digging and planting.

(I think for Steven, though, it was mainly a matter of digging - fun dirt!!)

All in all a fun day. We went inside for a while afterwards for a bit of rest before heading home, and Steven fell asleep in my lap while I read to him. It's been a long time since one of my kids has fallen asleep in my lap. Such a sweet thing!

This coming weekend we'll be taking a break from traveling and will enjoy a nice day at home (probably partially in the kitchen!). I'm looking forward to it!


I just realized that all of the blog posts I've worked on yesterday and today and been filed in my thoughts blog. Oops! Only one of them was actually posted in the wrong place, but I will need to move the one I planned to post on here today. So, it might be tomorrow...stay tuned! Pictures from our weekend!

In the meantime, I did just share a few links on the Ann's Thoughts blog. If you're at all interested in expanding your blog reading, I'd encourage you to hop over there and check out the four I mentioned. (I actually get to write on a couple of them - one temporarily, the other weekly.)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lovely Teeth

Today the girls went to the dentist. When they heard they were going to the dentist, they were delighted! They had a wonderful dentist in Southaven, and have always thought their regular check-up to be an exciting treat. We were praying that their first experience with their new dentist would be just as enjoyable, and those prayers were definitely answered. We could hear them giggling and enjoying themselves all the way down the hall!

Olivia had a great report. She needs sealant on her six-year molars, but that's routine. Otherwise, all is well...for now. Doug and I know that braces are in her future, but for a seven-year-old, that is still an undiscussed future.

Angela, on the other hand, needs a little work. Okay, so it's more than a little. Angie will be going in on April 22 for a filling, a frenectomy, and an impression. The frenectomy is a laser procedure to separate some muscle tissue between her uppper gum and her top lip. The impression is for making an orthodontic appliance to correct a cross bite, something she inherited from her mama. Sorry, sweetie! I had my first cross bite appliance when I was six or seven, so I really shouldn't have been surprised for it to pop up in one of our children!

We'd like to ask for prayer on several sides of this. First of all, for Angie. She's a little nervous about it all, which is understandable. Also, I can clearly remember the mouthaches from my appliances over the years. I know what she's about to feel. It's not unbearable, but it's also not very comfortable. And there are days when you just want to yank that thing out of your mouth! So, please pray for her as she deals with this appliance.

Please pray also for us on the financial side of it. We are so blessed to have some dental coverage with our current insurance plan. If we were still under our old insurance, all of this would be out of pocket! As we looked up all of the insurance coverage, we saw that the frenectomy would not be a problem - we pay a $50 deductible and then 20%, and the procedure itself is not that high. The cross bite correction, on the other hand, is rather steep. As we looked at our insurance, we realized that the cost highly depends on how they file it. If they file it as orthodontic, we pay 50%, and it will eat up about half of Angie's lifetime maximum coverage on orthodontia. It can possibly also be filed as a restorative procedure, however, in which case we'd pay 20% and it would eat up about half of her annual maximum coverage! Big difference! So, we do plan to talk to them, but please pray with us that they will be able to file it as a restorative, not orthodontic, procedure!

Thanks for praying!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Saturday in Judsonia #4 - Miscellaneous pics

These are just shots that were taken throughout the day, mostly showing the silliness of my siblings! :-)
The boys and their mini-computers that they call phones!
Ain't she cute?
Always kids at heart...Tim & Alli couldn't help but get down on the floor to play with Steven's toys.
Of course, the fact that Steven would actually play with Aunt Alli was HUGE!
Then the girls joined in.
Just visiting...
Ben & Ashley
Tim & DeAnn
Alli & her roommate Erica
Grandpa enjoying it all.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Saturday in Judsonia #3 - Birthdays

Grandma found out some time ago that my kids love putting candles on cakes! So, she makes it a point to have a birthday cake whenever she has an excuse for it. Grandpa and I both have March birthdays, so we had a couple of cakes to celebrate. The kids covered them in candles!

Getting ready to blow out candles, with Steven's help.
We did it in one blow! :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saturday in Judsonia #2 - The Mansaf

This is mansaf...well, typically you would see it totally filling the tray, but we had a really big tray for a small to medium sized mansaf. Basically it's rice with a meat (here chicken) in pieces on top. Then you put lightly browned almond slivers and/or pine nuts and top that with a goat yogurt called jamiid. As you can imagine, it's the jamiid that makes the mansaf - and it's the jamiid that tends to be the breaking point for some people, including my husband! :-) (He jokingly calls it yak butter.)

There can be variations - a layer of Arabic bread on the bottom, lamb or goat instead of chicken, and even a goat head perched on top with the eyeball or tongue being served to the guest of honor! I've actually only seen that once, though.

For Saturday's mansaf, my sister Alli was the wonderful chef. Wonderful job, sis!
Ben and Tim came in during the process to taste-test and make sure the jamiid had been prepared just right. Okay, so it had to be a little weaker than they would have preferred out of respect for those whose palates weren't quite as strong, but all in all they managed to add just the right amount of salt and garlic for a delicious sauce.
Mansaf is eaten straight from the tray with the hands, as my brothers Ben & Tim, my sister Allison, and her roommate Erica are demonstrating here. Erica must be given lots and lots of credit here...this was her first time to eat mansaf, but she dug in wholeheartedly! My friend Paula didn't eat with her hands (I didn't either!), but she wholeheartedly tried it...and liked it, jamiid and all! Way to go Erica and Paula! (We'll be sure to let you know when we have another feast!)
This is how you do it...first you get a bite-sized handful of the rice (right hands only, please!) and roll it into a nice, tight ball. (The rice is prepared in such a way as to promoted stickiness, and then the jamiid helps a bit, too.)
Next you perch the ball on your thumb and flick it into your mouth, being careful to keep your hand from touching your mouth. (This is what Olivia did succeed in doing! I was very proud of her!) By the way, I owe Erica an apology - I accidentally partially cut her out of the picture...sorry Erica! You were awesome!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday in Judsonia #1

Saturday morning we got up and headed from our hotel in North Little Rock down to Judsonia and my grandparents' house. My youngest sister was craving mansaf, the traditional dish of Jordan (more on that later), so she offered to be the cook for whoever wanted to join the feast. Naturally we all came running! :-) My sweet hubby was willing to endure the smell in order to let me be in on the feasting. My brothers and their wives came, and a few brave souls outside the family decided to sample the dish. Alli's roommate joined her for spring break, Tim and DeAnn brought a friend Tim works with, and my friend Paula came to see us and to try this mansaf we keep talking about!

Between the pictures my sister-in-law Ashley took and the pictures I took, there are quite a lot of pictures! I don't even know who took what, but I'm going to try to post as many of them as I possibly can.

The first post will be shots of my kiddos enjoying their visit. Then throughout the week I'll do posts of the mansaf, the March birthday cakes, and the fun visiting done by all.

Politely waiting for their mansaf - without the sauce. I didn't get a picture, but Olivia did
later make a ball of rice and flick it into her mouth! (I'll explain that in the mansaf post.)
Way to go Olivia!
Grandpa found a riding toy for Steven. He rode this thing all over the house - even
into the bathroom! Such a mess!
Olivia got ahold of Uncle Tim's hat.
Grandma never fails to get on the floor with Steven - every single visit. Even
when we visited her right before she got her pacemaker a few months ago, she
insisted on getting down and playing with him. I think they both look forward to the
time together. Steven usually leads her straight to their box of toys!
I usually don't get many pictures of Grandpa and the kids. He likes to just sit back and
watch everyone else. But, Steven sought him out this time. I thought that was precious!
Of course, there's just something about Aunt Alli...the girls LOVE their Aunt Alli.
And, Steven LOVES to tease Aunt Alli! :-)

And then, of course, there's Aunt Ashley. They really love their Aunt Ashley, too -
even Steven! Here are the flower girls...