Tuesday, January 31, 2012

AB4T (Answers Book for Teens)

The Answers Book for Teens
Written by Ken Ham, Bodie Hodge, & Dr. Tommy Mitchell
Reviewed by Emily Emmert, age 13
The Answers Book for Teens is written in a way that teens can understand,
and can explain to other people. It’s made so that when your teen gets done with it they will want to share it with all their friends, Christian and non-christians alike.
The book answers the questions:
1-How can anyone believe that the Bible is true since it was written so long   
ago when people didn’t know stuff?
2-If God is really so great, why does He let so much pain and bad stuff happen in the world, like earthquakes, floods, and wars?
3-I believe that God created the earth, but does it really matter how old the earth is?
4-Who has the most evidence, creationists or evolutionists?
5-With everything I hear about God not existing... how can we even know He does exist?
6-Come on, why would God flood the earth for one guy’s mistake?
7-If God really loved the world, why would He make a flood to kill everyone off?
8-How could God populate the earth with just two people a few thousand years ago?
9-Should people from different races marry each other or is that wrong?
10-Why should I listen to what the Bible says about sex?
11-If Christians are supposed too love everybody, why do they always seem to hate gay people?
12-How are we supposed to talk about God and the Bible in school when it’s illegal?
13-How can we be sure that Jesus is the only way to God?
14-The Bible...and dinosaurs...and dragons?
15-Why would God ever want to save someone as messed up as me?
   In each section they talk about the question, and answer it in a simple and easy to understand way. They give an answer based off of what the Bible says and include  supporting verses, and put it so the teens can understand it.
   For instance, in question 9 it talk about Races and interracial marriage. The book says that if we all came from Adam and Eve, the first two humans, then there is only one race, the human race and that the only interracial marriage is between a believer and a non-believers.
   In question 12 the book talks about freedom of religion, and about student freedom of religion at school. It shares some of the things they can do like start a club, pray, read the Bible as long as it doesn’t interfere with normal studies. Students can wear clothes that have Bible verses or a Christian slogan on it, and more.

(If you'd like to read the whole book, it can be ordered from www.answersingenesis.org search 'answers book for teens')

Monday, January 30, 2012

NFL Experience & Super Bowl Village

We spent yesterday at the NFL Experience at the Indiana Convention Center, and took in some sights at the Super Bowl Village. It was a blast! If you're football fans like us, you should go- it's worth the money for the NFL Experience. We (Kurt, the girls & I) spent 7 hours at the experience & didn't see everything or do everything, but we did do a lot. This is the first time I've ever seen the Super Bowl rings on display- pretty impressive! We did not wait in line to see the Lombardi Trophy, we've seen the Steelers ones in Pittsburgh several times. But- if you've never seen a real one up close- it's worth the wait. 

The NFL Experience has many, many interactive areas, including a point-after try, Punt, pass & kick, quarterback challenge, obstacle courses, daily football mini-clinics for children 6-12, and more. There's even a Wilson football factory where you can watch them sew together a football ( & buy one to take home if you want!) I was most impressed by the lady who does the laces, how cool to always get your stitches the same!

If you go to the NFL Experience, be sure to use the coat check! The $2 a coat is totally worth it because you're going to be too busy doing the activities to want to worry about your coats! There is a release form you'll need to fill out to do the Play60 activities. You can print it out online & fill it out before you go if you're wanting to save time. The cost of $25 adult, $20 for kids may seem steep, but it's worth it for all the things there are to do. They have family packs available at a discount.

Maybe you're not a die-hard football fan? Then perhaps you just want to check out the Super Bowl Village. There are still many smaller free activities outside in the village, cool race cars with the Super Bowl, NY Giants, & Patriots designs, and a lot of lights & noise to keep you entertained. The village has 2 different stages, and the best place to stop and people-watch is probably at the ice-sculpting area. Why there you may ask? Because they've got a couple of the heated white benches like the players sit on during the outdoor games! It's a great place to sit, watch the sculpting, or the people, and warm up your backside!

If you're looking for the zipline- it's on the east side of the Convention Center. Rides are $10, or you can just watch everyone else go by over your head. Almost a little creepy to walk under it, but the girls & I had a talk with one of the staff and they know what they're doing. They'll even ride out and get you if you're stuck (rare, but it happens!)

Parking is a little tricky, but there are several options. You can check the official Super Bowl info pages at www.indianapolissuperbowl.com for park and ride & larger garages. Or you can do what we did, and drive around a little and find a deal. There are several small private garages and lots that have a daily flat rate of $20-$25. Thanks to finding the Emmis Communications' parking garage, we were prepared to pay $20 for the whole day. That's great for event parking, but if you stay less than 12 hours, you might even get a break on that price. We paid $14 for about 10 hours. That's a steal considering Circle Center Mall is charging $40 if you stay more than 8 hours, and they're not allowing any parking validations with your purchases until after the Super Bowl is over :(

We also spent about an hour on the circle, seeing the giant Super Bowl numerals, and the race cars. The cars are moving to locations all over the state later this week, but the light show @ the circle is still worth walking a few extra blocks! If you're wanting to see the cars this weekend, check the above link under "Events" "Super Cars" to see where your favorite team's car will be. I know Conner Prairie is getting the Bears' car, and the Mounds Mall in Anderson is getting the Vikings' Car. The Steelers car, unfortunately, will be at the Indianapolis airport, a long drive from here, but on display for everyone to see when they go to baggage claim this weekend!

So if you go, have fun, stay warm, and remember: the water fountain in the convention center is right next to the Punt, Pass, & Kick activity!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Alas, the oven has died...

How we respond when life throws us a curveball tells others a lot about out character. We recently received a curveball, our oven has died :(  

For those of you that know us well, we are bakers at heart; bread, cookies, pies, and even a cake or muffins thrown in for good measure frequently can be found cooling in our kitchen. Baking is a natural part of our weekly activities as a family. So now, as we research our options for what features are available (and which ones we're really willing to pay for) on a new stove, our life has taken a different course. 

Thankfully the stovetop burners are still working, so we have the luxury of taking our time to choose our new stove. The lack of an oven reminds me daily to stop and be thankful for all the blessing we do have. 

The next time life throws you a curveball, try to NOT panic. God knows your needs, and He wants to help you choose wisely your next step on this path of life. Whether you have the luxury of time to decide or not, let your true character shine through in your decisions. Should you happen to find that you don't like that part of you that comes out, maybe it's time for a little self-improvement, and a whole lot of prayer.

So until we decide on our new stove, you'll probably have to look elsewhere for your new favorite cookie recipe, but rest assured, we'll have other fun & encouraging things for you to read in the meantime. If you happen to be doing some baking soon, and have extras, we are great taste-testers (you might even make a blog cameo!)

Soon you will be seeing some reviews from us about apps for your smart phone or tablet. We're going to focus on ones that help kids learn while having fun, and ones that help parents stay organized. Hope to see you here again soon!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Muncie, IN Children's Museum Review

The Muncie Children’s Museum packs a lot into a medium sized space. While there are both larger and smaller Children’s Museums in the state, this one reminds me of the story of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, it’s “just right!”

Again and again over the course of the afternoon, both of our girls remarked “I wish you knew about this when we were little Mom!” Although they’re now 11 & 13, and almost as tall as me, they both had fun for 3 solid hours at the MCM. I would say that most areas are geared for ages 4-10, but there are easier and more complicated activities in many of the areas, so it can appeal to kids of all ages.
If you’ve got toddlers, the Tot spot is for you. With a treehouse (complete with a tire swing,) a boat, a farm stand, and 2 slides, your little ones may never want to leave. Thankfully, there are plenty of restrooms just around the corner in the museum hallway, complete with a changing table, just in case.

Older children will not soon get bored. There is a town, that includes lots of interactive activities to keep everyone busy. The Middletown Post Office, Marsh supermarket, Little Bell Creek School, Career Corner, or Munseetown Station should keep even your active kids entertained for quite a while. Emily (age 13) really enjoyed the Post Office. Besides having laminated “mail" to sort and deliver to the other buildings in town, it also has shirts to dress up in, and a mail bag to ease your deliveries. 
Did I mention that this is the MUNCIE children’s Museum? Thus, it has a HUGE area devoted to local native, Garfield the cat. I call this the “all things Garfield” area. There are displays showing how Garfield merchandise is made, and an area where you can try your own hand at drawing Indiana’s favorite cat.
So your kids like to climb? Maybe they want to be ants in the climbing wall (Arlene’s favorite part,) or go upstairs and learn about the 5 senses. When it’s warm outside, there is a great outdoor area complete with a treehouse to climb. Thanks to the high wall around the outside garden area, it was comfortable for a short while when it was only 50 outside with just a coat and hat.

It seems like animals are everywhere at the MCM. When we arrived and checked in, Laura (one of the friendly staff,) showed us the coat closets (painted like a Garfield mural,) told us where to find the restrooms, pointed out that there were animals on both levels, and encouraged us to enjoy ourselves (and come back to the desk if we had any questions.) The range of animals at the MCM are quite impressive: cockatiels, turtles, a tree frog, a tarantula, 2 rat snakes, an American alligator, and a bunny. My girls asked why we couldn’t get some hissing cockroaches like they had. I simply said “no!”
If you think this might not be enough to keep your children entertained, I haven’t even mentioned: the antique car, the train cab, the Semi cab, the tractor, the dinosaur area OR the water table yet!
The gift shop/ snack bar is a pleasant surprise. The gifts are reasonably priced, with many at or under $4, and some under $1. The snacks are chips, pretzels, & drinks, at the same price you’d pay at the gas station (much more reasonable than I was expecting.)
You might be wondering, what does all this cost, it sounds like fun!? General admission is $6 a person, ages 1-100. A family membership is available at the reasonable cost of $70/year or $120/2 years. 
If you’d like to try it out first, the museum is FREE on the 3rd Saturday of each month. Check out the details here: www.munciemuseum.com
One of the best things about their memberships, besides the obvious fun of going again and again, is that they participate in the ASTC Passport Program. We are big fans of this program. You can look up all the details at: www.astc.org/members/passlist.htm  
Minnetrista (also in Muncie) is another member of the ASTC program. With our family memebership from Minnetrista, we have visited (for free) the Carnegie Science Museum (Pittsburgh, PA,) and the Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago, IL.) If your family travels more than 90 miles from home frequently, I highly recommend joining a local ASTC member museum. It is a good investment.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Arlene's contribution to dinner today is one of our favorites- pumpkin chocolate chip cookies! We found this recipe online a couple years ago and have tweaked it a bit. It's a great recipe to use when you're out of eggs and still want cookies. The recipe says it makes 4 dozen, but we usually get 6-7 dozen out of it. We use our small kitchen scoop, so if you make them really big you might only get 4 dozen. The dough refrigerates well, so often we only bake half of them at a time. Enjoy!

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin (about 1-1&1/2  cups)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
12 oz (1 bag) semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. In a large bowl, cream sugars, butter, pumpkin & vanilla together (make sure sugar & butter are throughly creamed before adding pumpkin)
3. In a different bowl, mix flour, baking soda, & pumpkin pie spice. Stir the flour mixture into the creamed mixture (a little at a time.) Mix until well combined, then add chocolate chips.
4. Drop by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes or until set & lightly golden. Cool cookies on a rack.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Apple Tree

This afternoon the girls asked to go spend some time outside. It was 50 degrees- In Indiana- in January! How could I refuse? They ended up sitting in the apple tree, one of their favorite places.

The apple tree never manages to produce apples for us to eat. It tries, it really does, but the squirrels in the neighborhood come and pick almost all of them by the time they are golf-ball sized. The ones that survive are so high up that we can't get to them. 

The job of our apple tree is not to provide apples (although that would be a bonus,) its job is to provide a place for whatever the girls need today: make believe, bugs to watch, branches to climb. So even though we may never eat an apple pie from our tree- it will stay right where it is. 
(The picture is from last Fall)
Besides, I need someplace to hang the bird feeder! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Today we made 3 kinds of bread- round, rectangle, & square! Ha ha, it's really all wheat bread, but the girls wanted to do something different this time. We used to make it in the bread machine, but since that broke last week (after 8 faithful years) we are back to doing it the old-fashioned way, by hand. So, who wants to come over for dinner now???

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Good Sale

We've all heard that there are seasonal sales we should take advantage of to provide for our families and save money in the long run. However, many families aren't loaded with extra cash and need discernment about what will truly be a good buy for them. One of my favorite, inexpensive, seasonal purchases is new pins. That's right, I said pins! As in "I need to replace the pins in my pincushion because I've been doing a lot of sewing." January has been my traditional time to buy new pins, and make sure I throw out all the old ones. Even with all the years I've been sewing, I still manage to hit the pins sometimes while I'm sewing. Now that both girls are also using the sewing machine(s), I know we need new pins even more this year than usual!

So, now that I've got you thinking, you might be wondering what to do with all the old pins so they don't stab you (or your designated trash picker-upper!) I like to take a strip of masking tape about 10" long, and place the pins, with the points in the middle, down both sides of the top half of the tape. We stagger ours on both sides, so when the top half is full & we fold over the tape to seal the points inside, it sort of resembles a large centipede with shoes on.

Shiny, straight new pins always makes me want to sew something! Are you feeling inspired yet? On a related note, Jo-Ann's has their Notions items 50 % off through Saturday the 7th!

A New Year, a new ___?

New Year's Day has come and gone, and by now you've probably changed to your new calendar, or at least realized you need one! What comes next? Instead of making New Year's resolutions, which are often unrealistic, we prefer to make yearly goals. What would you list as your top 5 family goals for the year? Is there a book you've been wanting to read aloud as a family? Maybe you've been wanting to plant a butterfly garden, or go canoeing together. Maybe this is the year you've been waiting for- a real family vacation. Whatever your family goals- we want to encourage you to spend quality time together. The memories you make together will last a lifetime! Happy planning!