July 29, 2004


Sophie did backfloats by herself in the pool at swimming lessons today! Evan did two in very short spurts. The boys are much more tense in the water than Sophie.

Posted by melissa at 12:49 PM

July 28, 2004

The Ladybug Paddle

Yesterday, I leaned my head out a back window to check on the kids playing in the backyard. They were finding ladybugs in the "garden" area amongst the weeds. When they caught sight of me, they excitedly told me, "Mommy, we are teaching a ladybug how to swim!"

I replied, "Ladybugs can't swim."

They answered, "This one is! It's on it's back and it's moving its legs!"

I informed them that they were actually teaching the ladybug how to drown. They moved on to teaching ladybugs how to swing.

Posted by melissa at 03:11 PM

July 27, 2004

Excuse Me, Your Bias is Showing

On the homeschooling discussion board which I frequent, someone posted the following article on homeschooling: Correcting Misconceptions About Homeschooling
While I appreciate the article's point that homeschoolers are a diverse group, the author's tone and that of some of the people he interviewed annoyed me. Some of the people initially were opposed to homeschooling, because they thought that it was solely the domain of religious conservatives. They had this snotty, intolerant attitude that they didn't like the homeschooling movement, because it might produce more people who don't agree with them. Ho-nes-tly. And then once, they (and the author) realized that liberals homeschool too, then homeschooling became a worthwhile movement in their eyes and not something to attack. In my opinion, everyone should have the right to the freedom of thought that homeschooling provides. (I'm not saying that everyone should homeschool!) I roll my eyes when I read homeschooling articles when people feel like they have to justify that the reason they are homeschooling has nothing to do with faith or religion. Though I do have to admit, that I have downplayed that factor in the reasons why I homeschool when faced with a potentially hostile questioner: to my shame. Nobody wants to be labelled as a religious radical, though all of life is based on faith, admitted or not!

Posted by melissa at 03:56 PM

Weekly Sophism

This past weekend, we went for a drive and hike in the mountains with our friend, Michelle. We had granola bars in the van which Michelle dispensed as needed. The bars were called "Trail Mix." Sophie asked, "Michelle, can I have some 'Treadmill'?"

Posted by melissa at 03:27 PM

Our New Cavy Cage

Yesterday, James and I started and finished a project I've been wanting to do for a while: We built a 2' x 7' guinea pig cage. It is guinea pig heaven! Here is a link to the page where I got the idea and instructions:
Cavy Cages If you scroll down a bit, you can see a short slide show of different cages. The one we built is like the one shown after the picture of the cage with the cat sitting on top.

I took the kids in the van to a sign company and bought a 4' x 8' sheet of blue "coroplast" (corrugated plastic). I slid it into the van through the back hatch and over the kids' heads. Since we had to go to music lessons from there, they rode in a "tent" for awhile. Their hair was quite static-y upon arrival!

After supper, we visited Target and bought "Organize-Its" which are wire grids that can be connected together to form cubes. After the kids were in bed, James and I connected the grids into a 2' x 7' frame (approximately), then scored and cut the coroplast to form a box to fit inside the frame, taping the outside corner seams. We took the wooden hutch part off of the "old" cage and fastened it inside the new one. The cage is sitting on top of Jms' old kitchen table which we have in the basement near a window. The table is 6' long with the leaves in it. We can move the cage easily enough if we need to use the table and James might make a different stand for the cage out of sawhorses and plywood.

We will clean out the cage with a dustpan, finishing by spraying it with water and vinegar and wiping it dry. (In case you were wondering ; ) It will actually be easy to clean out, because there is no top to the cage. (Don't worry, the sides are high enough that they can't climb out.)

Last night the piggies were already running around more than usual. It is nice to watch them without caging over the top.

Posted by melissa at 10:01 AM

July 23, 2004

Gingered Shrimp and Soba

Someone asked for a recipe that used shrimp and I posted the following recipe. Since I spent some time typing it, I decided to go ahead and post it here as well...

My family loves this recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites cookbook:

1) Bring large pot of water to boil.
2) In sm. sc. pan, combine 3 T. soy sc.; 2 T. sherry; 1/4 c. apple jc.; 2 T. water; 1 T. grated ginger root (I use jarred kind) and simmer on med. heat for 5 min. Remove from heat and set aside.
3) Blanch 1 large bunch of broccoli cut into bite size pieces in boiling water (covered) 3-5 mins. and remove with slotted spoon, setting aside. Add 8 oz. soba noodles (buckwheat noodles - get where Asian foods are sold) to still boiling water and cook for 8-10 mins.
4) While noodles cook, combine 1T. sesame oil, juice of 1 lemon and 2 garlic cloves (minced or pressed) in a non-reactive skillet and warm on med. high heat. Add 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined and saute for 3-5 mins. until just pink and tender. Set aside.
5) Drain noodles and return to pot. Add broccoli, shrimp, 1/2 c. chopped scallions (if desired), and soy sc. mix and toss on med. heat until everything hot. Serve immediately.

Posted by melissa at 01:10 PM

July 22, 2004

A Surprising Fourth

As we left my parents' city on our recent trip, we stopped to buy a few snack items at the grocery store. I opted to sit with Matthew and Sophie in the car, thinking four items wouldn't take very long to buy. James and Evan disappeared into the store and were gone for A VERY LONG TIME. I began to think that the store hid the four items that we wanted on purpose! When they returned, I discovered that Jms had purchased about TEN items, and I felt impatient to hit the road.

Proverbs says "Many are the plans of a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." I was thinking that our plans were behind schedule, but the Lord had a surprise for us. That night, we ended up driving past St. Louis at 10 pm, just in time to see the firework display near the arch!!! The fireworks were shot off from a barge in the middle of the river. We drove west on I - 70, then east, then west, then east...and then west again so that we saw the whole display.

Good thing that Jms did not stick to the list!

Posted by melissa at 08:29 AM

July 21, 2004

Summer Activities

Quote of the Week by Sophie (so far): "The Golden Gate Bridge should be golden!"

This morning, the kids and I all had dental appointments and the kids had their pictures taken for the "Cavity Free" bulletin board. Whoo hoo!

Yesterday evening, our whole family went over to the rec center and went "swimming". We've taken the kids to three sessions of group swimming lessons and so far have seen no appearance of swimming. James and I are going to start trying to teach them some on our own. Evan, though, panics even in water that he can stand up in. If we try to hold him while he floats on his back, he gets a death grip on us and will not relax. I played with Sophie a lot in the water last night and got her to bob under water, holding her breath and to float on her back while I hold her lightly. She doesn't like it when I quit holding on, though, and collapses in the middle when my hand moves away. The kids love to play in a pool, but we are so ready for them to learn how to swim themselves. I have called about private swimming lessons and am waiting for the teachers to call back. The lady I spoke to said that I'll probably see a huge jump in what they can do even in the first lesson. We will probably invest in some private lessons at least until they can do the basics.

Last week our church had Vacation Bible School with the theme: "He Spoke in Parables: the Stories Jesus Told." Since I am the chairman of our Christian Education Committee, I also was the VBS director by default. We put together our own program instead of buying preplanned materials. Each night, a different storyteller came in and told a different parable. It was fun to see each person's unique ideas in presenting the story. James was Mr. Shepherd and dressed up in a bathrobe over his clothes and sandals and headgear and a staff. He hid a sheep puppet in the room ahead of time and had the kids hunt until they found it and then cheer. With the sheep puppet on his arm, he told the story of "Baby Baa" : The parable of the lost sheep. He also displayed pictures that he drew on large newsprint. The kids loved it. One little girl exclaimed: "Isn't that a bathrobe?!" James quipped, "It's my shepherd robe. I got it at Shepler's (a western wear store)."

Our theme psalm was the first two verses of 49A sung to the tune of 113A. Our song leader made up hand motions to go with it and by the end of the week, everyone had it memorized. Many of the kids also memorized all four verses of our memory program (and received prizes): Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, and 10:9.

Sophie just had me stop typing this, because she wanted to sing 49A with me. Matthew keeps saying that he wishes that VBS lasted a whole month.

Posted by melissa at 01:25 PM

July 20, 2004

Our Trip to Grandma's 90th Celebration

The end of June, we drove almost 1500 miles (one way) to attend my grandmother's 90th birthday celebration. I actually prefer driving to flying. I like seeing the country and spending time with family in the car.

Here is a list of activities that kept us occupied in the car:

* Listening to books on tape or CD (We had a signal splitter so that we could plug in three sets of headphones for the kids)
* Listening to music
* Portable Lego lap table
* Wikki sticks (colored wax covered strings which can be bent into different shapes without mess)
* Portable Lite Brite
* Clipboards with storage space for art supplies
* Activity books
* magnetic drawing board
* bag of little dolls
* blank maps to track states that we drove through and to mark the states we saw listed on license plates
* singing
* Playing "20 Questions" and "I Spy"
* Quizzing math facts ( The kid that answered could eat a small piece of candy. Sophie could eat one whenever Matthew answered. She did answer one problem correctly on her own: 1,000,523 x 0 = 0 !!)
* James enjoyed pointing out road kill and the boys enjoyed pointing out cell phone towers
* Wildlife watching: redwing blackbirds, a mouse, an opossum, meadowlarks, egrets, deer, blue herons, pelicans, and hawks

Here are pictures of family:

Ray Hemphills.jpg
This is my dear Grandma whose 90th birthday we celebrated, along with Grandpa, my dad, Aunt Beth, and Uncle Alan

Bruce Hemphills.jpg
Not pictured: Baby James (taking a nap) and Jackie's husband, Luke (could not get time off work)

The little cousins (except Baby James)

Bri and Seb.jpg
This is Brian, Jen's husband, with their son, Sebastian

Girls Talking.jpg
Ana and Sophie

girls on a swing.jpg

Grandpa and kids on swing.jpg

Matt and Baby Jms.jpg
Here is Baby James, swinging with Matthew!

Who Me.jpg
Who Me? ("No No Noah")

Matthew sandwich.jpg
Matthew with his two Great Grandmas

The best part of our trip was that we had many quality visits with family and friends. Many people came to Grandma's party to honor her.

Posted by melissa at 10:44 AM

Breckenridge Pictures

Okay! I'd better start updating my blog! Maybe I should start with our Breckenridge vacation at the end of May...

A very gracious family in my dad's congregation gave him a week's stay at their condo in Breckenridge as a graduation present. (He finished his doctorate last year.) My dad invited my family to stay there too. We all thoroughly enjoyed our stay.

Here are two pictures:

Near Breckenridge.jpg

Ice Bear.jpg

Do you see the bear in the last picture? The snow drift had melted so that it looked like a bear. Evan is growling at it.

Posted by melissa at 08:52 AM