Friday, July 21, 2017

Cousin Camp: Chocolate Covered Crickets and More!

It's Thursday night. 

And if it's Thursday night it must be time for me to post some more Cousin Camp pictures.

You're welcome. 

Before I get started I need to tell you that I did about almost nothing today. I DID get my dishwasher loaded. I DID make supper. I DID work on project. Remember all that writing and laundry I complained about not doing? 

I DID NOT do any of it. Tomorrow Josiah and The Muffin are going to the Indianapolis Speedway for the day so I plan to pretend to some more of something. 

Don't you just appreciate an unproductive weekend? 

Moving on...

 Tonight we are going to focus on the most controversial part of every Cousin Camp. 

The Strange Food Taste Test. 

Yes. We are those people who made this poor baby eat Octopus back in 2014 during our Pirates of Raccoon Road Cousin Camp. 

And last year. Those poor children had to eat things like Dragon's Zits. 

Does this child look abused? I don't think so. This child is PRECIOUS.

 So here how it went down this year. We strive every year to find new and weird things to try. Some might be harmless...for example those candy wafers we placed in bucket #3. 

This year there was chocolate covered crickets (oh yes), preserved duck eggs, dehydrated squid, seaweed sheets (actually a favorite) and pickled herring. 

Never fear, our Cousins are a sturdy lot. 

I separated all of our goodies into tropical themed dishes (complete with a paper umbrella) and numbered each one. The Cousins then drew a number in order of their birth and took a taste of that coordinating goodie.  

 I believe we made the rounds 3 or 4 times. 

Cousin #1 kept a water jug close. 

I think she was fine. NOBODY passed out. 

Cousin #2 (twin of Cousin #1) took it all in stride...and I believe showed us a bit in his teeth. 

Finger Licking Good! 

I do remember that Cousin #3 ate a chocolate-covered cricket during his first round.

Oh yes. You can't phase Cousin #3. This was the best reaction we got from him. He was NOT moved by all the crunchy bits. 

Now this is my bundle of joy...Cousin #4. I don't remember what he had to eat. 

But I am sitting directly to his left. He is giving me quite the look. "AND THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN?" We basically ignore Josiah's food choices. Eating biscuits and gravy any place other than The Dairy Queen and our house is a big adventure for him. 

You can see that Cousin #5 drew the persevered duck egg. 


WE ARE MONSTERS! Don't feel sorry for this Cousin. She always asks if she can have the leftover octopus. 

Cousin #6 is generally less adventurous. 

Poor baby. Notice that cup? We are always prepared. Oh Jesus, help me. 

Are those tears? There is no crying in the annual Cousin Camp Strange Food Taste Test! 

You will be pleased to know that the girl made it through ALL THREE ROUNDS! She survived. She did not, however, ask for any leftovers. 😂

For such a dainty girl, Cousin #7 is extremely competitive. This girl would make herself choke down a TOAD. A TOAD! (note to self: consider TOADS for next year). 

She was also heard to ask, "Do I have cricket legs between my teeth?" 

Cousin #8...who has grown up from that baby you saw chugging down the octopus leg in the picture at the front of the post...can hang with the best of them. And she looks so cute doing it. If this girl can eat dehydrated squid....Pull up your big girl drawers people. Suck it up! 

Before you call in DFS let me assure you that these children's parents know perfectly well what we put their children through. AND they encourage it. After all, we are the family who has been known to have hot sauce competitions. Smoked duck is a traditional part of our Thanksgiving dinner (the baby up above BEGS for it) and my mom's pantry sometimes resembles an exotic food market. 

So that's it for tonight. That's all she wrote. I'll be back soon with more pics!  Night, my friends! 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cousin Camp Castaways - Give Me Shelter

Shew. What a day. Or should I say what a night?

Last night I had an "at home" sleep study. What this means is that they send you home with a machine that provides a sleep study. The reason I am doing it at home is long and drawn out...filled with trips and turns and frankly, it EXHAUSTS me. 

Speaking of exhausting...I do have sleep apnea and have used a CPAP machine for 10 years. Sleeping without one was miserable. Josiah said he heard me snoring last night..."BAD snoring," he said. 


Tonight The Muffin and I are on the couch (surprise, surprise). We are watching an old movie on Netflix. I need to be doing some heavy duty writing/laundry/closet cleaning, but instead I have been looking through Cousin Camp pictures. 

My mom got that Cousin Camp picture DVD in the mail to me and I am going to share with you some of my favorites. Remember those days I use to give you a "play by play" of what happened daily at Cousin Camp?

GURRL! That is not going to happen this year. If you want to relieve my glory days you can, of course, look back at all the posts marked 'cousin camp'....knock yourself out. 

I do apologize for what is about to happen next. I am going to start throwing random pictures at you with commentary. As always, I do apologize if you aren't related to these children and wonder why you are spending your weekend looking at strange kids (and I mean that with all my heart). 

I am going to take mercy on you and do a few different posts. I know you need to make time for other sleeping and the like. 

For all of those who follow my blog regularly, you might remember that I did post a preliminary Cousin Camp picture post last week (was it last week?). I mentioned the premise of our Cousin Camp adventure this year. 8 Travelers set out on a 3-hour boat tour. They were swept up in a storm and landed on a mysterious island. They have to spend the week completing challenges to get off the island. 

Generally, I come up with characters for all the Cousin Campers...complete with a back story and name tailored to each kiddo. I did use a Hawaiian name generator at the last minute, but that was RIDICULOUS (and I don't mean that in a good way). The kids decided to name each other and themselves, but like any good aunt and Cousin Camp director I did not write any of their clever names down. 

I mean really...

Who can forget Sir. Rufus Burtwhistle...Wacky inventor. Or Professor Jones Looneydig a famed archaeologist with some controversial theories.....among them that Darth Vader played for the Minnesota Vikings. Or Beau Trickelbank an Olympic athlete who possibly won his Olympic Silver by tossing an Eggo Waffle. (Mystery at Raccoon Manor, Cousin Camp 2015)

Then there are these beauties...Lady Lulu Popplewell,  Miss  Cordelia Honeybun, Miss Prentiss Nightingale  (lion tamer extraordinaire), Pippa Claypot  and Clementine Dainty. Beautiful girls all! 

Before moving on, I do need to share these. Thanks to Photo Shop and my talented, Momma. These are a hoot! We made these posters as part of the backstory during the Mystery at Raccoon Manor. 

I mean really 😂😂😂

Or how about these brave (and lovely) knights. (Cousin Camp Knights Quest 2016)

Maerwynn Stareyes the Sparkly,  Katrain Forestfriend the Serene and Alyeth Silverleaf the Nimble...SO MUCH FUN! 

and one of my favorites....

Plunderin' Stubby Sharkbait (oohaha). Wanted for having shifty eyes, poisoning the King's Fish and impersonating a flautist.  (The Pirates of Racoon Road 2015)

Sigh. Good times. 

But enough of that...let's move on. 

One of the first challenges was to create a shelter with items found in their "survival bucket" and from around the "island." Thank goodness Papa is a hoarder of random and strange things. 

The boys first thought that they would prop heavy logs up against a tree (tee-pee style). Yup. Sounds like  a disaster waiting to happen. Ama gently suggested another route. The boys quickly decided that Ama knows her business and found another location and went to work. 

I am not going to even begin to identify some of that stuff. 

The girls also quickly settled on their location. And took a bit longer to iron their ideas out. Aren't they cute in their tropical tourist garb?  

The boys got extra points for the practicality of their structure. They worked good together. We didn't suggest they spend the night in their shelter. Now that would have been a challenge! 

The girls got points for the "homey" feel of their shelter. Every island shelter needs living room furniture in my opinion. 

I need to tell you that a storm blew in that night and it also rained and rained (and rained) the following day...which was also July 4. The Shelters, well, you know what happened to them. 

Before I leave you, I also need to tell you about Garfield the Cat. I mentioned him in my previous Cousin Camp post. He's something else. He basically appropriated this cup for his very own. Garfield also spent time and care trying to dig up a humongous rock from the girls' shelter area. He was helping, I'm sure. Mom took a cute video of him working away, but I can't seem to load it. 

So, my friends. That's all I have for now. Plus, the old movie is over and I have a book that I MUST read. You know how that is. It's calling my name. I'll be back soon to share a few more pictures.

Aka Lady Prunella Tambling Goggin (Mystery at Raccoon Manor, Cousin Camp 2015)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doctor Aviation (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

The Muffin (who is also my husband) happens to be a veteran of the United States Air Force. He wasn’t a pilot, but did order parts for those big aircraft. He has always been able to identify different kinds of planes and such…which I suppose happens when your job in the Air Force is to keep them in parts. As a result, our family has always had a fondness for air planes. Not that any of us are frequent flyers…but when I was given a chance to review a 6-month Aviation Course from Doctor Aviation I jumped at the chance.
Doctor Aviation

The Doctor Aviation Course is an online subscription that consists of video lessons, guided notes and other activities. Doctor Aviation is also known as Daryl Smith. This bright fella attended the Air Force Academy in Colorado when he was 18. He also served as an instructor and research pilot with the Air Force during the Star Wars Program era. Needless to say, Doctor Aviation knows his stuff.

The course is intended for High School aged kiddos and adults, but can be used with a variety of age groups (with some modifications). A BIG plus for us is that it can be used for a High School credit course. How fun and awesome is that!

You, of course, will need a trusty internet connection and a way to listen and view the lessons. I didn’t have to install anything special on my computer to make the videos run. There are Guided Notes and other activities to download and print off, but even those aren’t lengthy…which will save your ink.
The course contains the following:

Session 1 Course Overview: The Aviation System

I. The Aircraft

Session 2 The Major Components of an Airplane

Session 3 Axes and Forces

Session 4 Why an Aircraft Flies: The Secret of Airfoils and Lift

Session 5 Why an Aircraft Turns, Pitches and Slides: The Flight Controls

II. Air Traffic Control

Session 6 How We See an Aircraft Miles Away: The Secrets of Radar

Session 7 The Air Traffic Cops: How Air Traffic Control Works

III. Maintenance

Session 8 Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Propeller Engines

Session 9 Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Jet Engines

IV. Airfield Operations

Session 10 The City in and of Itself: Running a Large Airport

Session 11 The Small Airport and Running an FBO

V. The Aircraft II

Session 12 Flying in the Clear and Not so Clear Air: VMC and IMC

Session 13 Important Pilot Instruments – Attitude Indicator

Session 14 Important Pilot Instruments – Airspeed Indicator

Session 15 Other Aviation Ships: Gliders, Helicopters, Airships

Each Session is divided into 3 sections.

Technical Trivia
Notable Aviators
Legendary Aircrafts and Events

I mentioned the Guided Notes before. These come as a PDF download. There is also an additional PDF, “Learn More.” The Learn More guide provides recommendations for books, videos links, hands-on activities, research and writing assignments. I love adding this sort of supplemental material to any subject so this was great for us. There ARE tests and further instructions if using the course for a High School Credit.

My Thoughts

This course is SO MUCH FUN! Doctor Aviation brought to light some fascinating information. And aviation is just plain cool. We found the videos to be informative and easy to listen to. Josiah is dyslexic and I worried about all the technical jargon, but the Guided Notes section was easier to follow along than I anticipated.

The “Learn More” Activities vary with each lesson, but they feature activities and links to provide the student with a complete experience. I thought they were a great mixture of fun and educational. Here are a few extension activities from Session 6.

Research the Battle of Britain and how the Chain Home was expanded during this period of time. The British used several strategies to hold off the Germans.

Do research on the comic strip L’il Abner and the Skonk Works. Try to determine when the comic strip ran and who were the main characters.

Research the Cuban Missile Crisis and the role of the U-2.

It was interesting to hear some about some of the pioneers of aviation and real life aviators. Doctor Aviation also has a blog. Recently, he had quite a bit to say about the Amelia Earhart documentary. He had some insightful and interesting comments. There are several posts concerning the documentary so check them out!

Doctor Aviation is a great course for anyone interested in flight and those who fly! You don't have to be a homeschooler!

You can connect with Doctor Aviation via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner for more reviews.

Aviation Course {Doctor Aviation Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trust Fund (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Movie night!

Nothing better than grabbing our favorite munchies and enjoying a good movie as a family. We like all kinds of movies, but we do have a splendid collection of faith-based movies. AND…we’ve added another one to the mix. We recently reviewed Trust Fund from Mapelle Films. We also received the companion book, Love Was Near.

Grab a bowl of popcorn.

Trust Fund Movie
The main protagonist is a beautiful girl named Reese Donahue, played by Jessica Rothe. She is a dreamy sort, who is consumed with finishing her first book. Her father is a successful publisher and Reese has a life that we can only dream about. Travel, a great apartment…beautiful clothes.

However, her father (wonderfully played by Kevin Kilner) has decided that Reese needs to be more responsible with her finances.  She is flighty and irresponsible with her allowance. He encourages her to get a job. Reese becomes frustrated and overwhelmed in her new career at the publishing company.

One day while pilfering through her father’s office looking for some cash (I know!), she discovers that she and her older sister, Audrey, were left $10 million dollars by her mother after her death.

Reese decides to take matters into her own hands and transfers half of the money to her own account and takes off for Italy. And, of course, there is a man involved. Reese’s idyllic plans for her future take a scary and disappointing turn.

You might recognize themes from this story from Luke 15 and the story of The Prodigal Son. If you are familiar with this parable you also know the end of the story.

"And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[a] out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”

This young man’s older brother was not as delighted to see his brother welcomed home. He was bitter. He had quite a different homecoming envisioned for his prodigal brother.

Yet this story is all about God’s love for us. How much love does our Father have for us!

In the movie, Audrey the older sister, played by Louise Dylan, does such a great job of portraying all of those frustrations all of us would experience if we felt wronged by a family member.

 Just a few housekeeping notes before I talk about the companion book, Love Was Near. 

Trust Fund is rated PG for “mild thematic elements and brief smoking.” The suggested audience is 12+
We didn’t see anything in the movie that we objected to watching. This story, after all, was about a prodigal.

There is a FREE Study Guide available that offers Scripture and discussion questions after watching the movie…which means it would be appropriate for a teen or young adult small group.

Love Was Near Book
Love Was Near is a book written by Sandra Martin, the author of the movie. It is actually intended to be Reese’s journal as she experiences the events in the movie. If you are a parent of a young woman and get this movie you NEED to purchase this book, as well. It has some good stuff in it.

There IS Scripture and plenty of places for journaling. There are some really good questions asked. One of Reese’s motivating factors for her behavior is her relationship with a man. My husband and I were youth pastors for years, before becoming senior pastors. I can’t tell you the number of girls I have seen whose goals, dreams and values were put in jeopardy because of a dude.

These are the kind of discussions we need to be having with our girls. And boys, for that matter.

My Thoughts

We really enjoyed this movie.  I do wish there had been time to flush out more ideas touched on in the movie. But I will tell you this…the attitude and actions displayed by Reese’s father touched my heart.

I was really impressed with the acting. Sometimes faith-based films feature some just so-so acting (no disrespect…I certainly couldn’t do it!) But these actors did an awesome job. The quality of the film is also beautiful. I was surprised to see that most of the movie was shot in Kansas City! Whoo Whoo! I grew up in the Ozarks so it was fun to see a movie that was shot somewhere I’ve actually been more than once or twice.
Another little fun fact.

Sandra Martin and the producer of the movie, Issac Alongi are a married couple. Issac was a homeschooled kid. He’s had stuff on the BBC and the History Channel. THERE IS HOPE FOR ALL OF US!

Something else before I leave you. Trust Fund never comes out and talks about having a relationship with God. It’s one of those subtle tales that you can pass along to your friends and family and let God do the work.

You can connect with Trust Fund via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

  • Facebook:    Tag:   @TrustFundMovie   
  • Twitter:    Tag:   @TrustFundMovie   
  • Pinterest:          Tag:   @trustfundmovie   

  • Instagram:          Tag:   @trustfundmovie   

  • Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}
    Crew Disclaimer

    Thursday, July 13, 2017

    Hello, my friends.

    I thought I would share this little tidbit with you.

    This week I'm featured on my friend Melanie's blog (FINCHNWREN). She was one of my Review Crew Mates for a few years (we miss you, Melanie) and asked me to join in her summer series..."5 Things You Didn't Know About..."

    You can click on this link and check it out. Melanie has been having a health crisis, but her spirit just blesses me. I encourage you to wander around the blog.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2017

    A Few Cousin Camp Castaway Adventures

    Greetings from the corner of my comfy couch. I have been Post Cousin Camp Recovery Mode.

    And yes, that is a thing. It takes this girl a little longer to recover from a good time.

    I even had this trouble when I was young. And thin. And healthy.

    Tonight is normally Church Night, but we were washed away. Literally. Our church parking lot (which we lovingly refer to during rainy periods as "Lake Assembly") didn't have a single spot above water. The Muffin didn't want to bring folks are in short supply among our congregation.

    And, my friends, I am TIRRED. Even my toes are tired.

    I thought I would share a few pictures from our Cousin Camp adventures. You need to know I will post another round fairly soon. I am waiting for the Master CD from my momma. She took all the good pictures. The ones I am about to show you I took from my phone or tablet. Which means some of them appeared on Facebook, as well. You might have to squint at some of them to see them properly. I am THAT kind of photographer.

    I posted a little bit about our Bus Trip to the farm. What I didn't make public was that Mom and I had conspired for me and the Cousins to paint her kitchen cabinets while she and dad went on a little mini-trip before Cousin Camp.

    And with the help of Baby Sister...We did it! You have to know my Dad. With every slap of paint someone would say, "I'm so glad Papa/Dad isn't here. He'd fuss about my paint job." The man is really picky. But I will say that he was gracious about the whole thing upon arriving home and even mentioned how nice everything looked.

    Sneaky Painting for the win!

    There have been a few new arrivals since last I visited the farm during Thanksgiving. Yes. These are ducks. There are 4 ducks in all. One of them is extremely "ducky." I'm assuming it's the boy duck. He talked ALL THE TIME. Quaaack...Quack. Quack.

    This is another new arrival on the Farm. This little kitty, Garfield, showed up one day. He is probably the friendliest cat I've ever encountered. He also has ADHD. And fleas.

    No Cousin Camp blog would be complete without a shout out to the Big Black Dog. Solomon is getting old. You can see that his fur is turning red and he is loosing some of his Rottweiler color pattern. He is still the BBG. And he was sooo happy to see me.

    Amy (the Australian Shepherd) looks pretty nervous in this picture. Someone has bought the woods next to the farm. They are clearing them out. There were all kinds of bulldozers and chain saws in action working on this day. Between all of our "tree hugger" cousins loudly protesting (LEAVE  OUR TREES ALONE!) and those strange machines and people...Amy was nervous. She needed her people to be WHERE THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE! She did wind up "herding" Mom to the back door.

    First official day of Cousin Camp! Our theme this year was Castaway! So these folks went on a 3 hour cruise....Needless to say, their goal for the week is to get off the island! They embraced their challenges with the usual Cousin Camp gusto.

    Contrary to other years, we had A LOT of rain. So much rain. It certainly changed our plans. The Cousins still had the opportunity to create this Obstacle Course. And Ama had to try it out. She is going to KILL me for posting this picture. But...I am 2 states away this time. I cannot be smacked. Isn't she as cute as she can be?

    Here you can see a few of the gang trying it out.

    Another big activity at Cousin Camp every year is boating on the pond. This year the boys took charge of getting the boats all together. What you can't see in this picture is the little kitty Garfield sitting in Cade's lap (he's the one facing the pond).

    Have oars...Will battle!

    One of our annual Cousin Camp traditions is a visit from my Aunt Phyllis and Uncle Paul. This year we were so excited to have a visit from Uncle David and Aunt Beth, as well! They were visiting from Nevada. The kids decorated the deck and we enjoyed a cookout and then fireworks once it got dark. 

    I have to say that our Cousins are just great kids. Despite the rain and having a gimpy Aunt (that would be me) they still made their own fun. We made pie. We made cake. We danced. They binged watched The Flash. They just enjoyed each other. I promise I'll share more of our week once I get the CD from Mom.

    The time went FAST! Before I knew it we were getting on the Bus again. This time we left Joplin around 5:30am. I will say that riding the Greyhound Bus was an adventure. I don't know if it is one I care to repeat. I think it is certainly an effective way to get around AND we met a lot of interesting people from all over. Josiah has decided he needs to learn Spanish (he was inspired by meeting some of our fellow bus passengers). I'm just glad he has not decided on a course in American "Foul" Language. I have never heard so many potty mouths. Every. Other. Word.

    Clean up your mouths, America!

    Anyhoo. We did have a 2 hour delay in St. Louis and I heard a lot of travel horror stories. Just keep your identification close to you my friends. I am thankful for our long suffering bus drivers. It was nice not navigating holiday traffic. On the other hand, one of the great things about a road trip is being able to plot your own course and stop when you need to stop. It is an adventure I won't soon forget.

    Okay. So that's it for now. I am going to find something to read and continue my Post Cousin Camp Recovery treatment plan. I'm sure somebody has some chocolate stashed away somewhere!

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