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Return of the Green Screen

When our family was on vacation in San Francisco, we happened to pass by a giant green screen sitting on the edge of the sidewalk by Pier 41.  If you are not familiar with green screens, these giant green backgrounds are used by moviemakers to project real actors and actresses onto fake backgrounds, such as in spaceships and so forth.  The kids and dad had experimented with a green screen app on the phone when we were at home but we really didn't have a proper green screen available.  Thankfully we had some toy lightsabers (from Star Wars) in our backpack and the kids had a good time playing in front of the green screen while I filmed them with the app to insert special backgrounds.  Then I plugged the video clips into the iMovie app (which has a nifty movie trailer template) and voila!

Watch "Return of the Green Screen" on YouTube

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How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract

vanilla beans

What You Need:

10-12 vanilla beans, grade B

1 bottle 80-proof vodka/ bourbon

How to Make It:

  1. Take out a cup of vodka from the bottle, so as to make it easier to shake the contents around.
  2. Separate the vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape the pods to expose as much of the beans as possible.
  3. Add the beans and scrapings into the vodka bottle.
  4. Label the date on it, cap, and shake it rigorously.
  5. Let it mature for 2 weeks to 2 months, until its smells like vanilla extract as you know it.
  6. Strain and enjoy.
  7. Put the beans and scrapings back into the bottle, add more vodka and repeat the process. It can go multiple rounds, though it may take longer to finish each batch.
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My Life in Thailand - A Missionary Kid's Perspective

During the course of our home assignment in the States, I gave the same Thailand presentation at so many churches that our oldest son Joshua (11 years old) started to raise his hand and tell everybody parts of my talk that I hadn’t gotten to yet, or volunteer other details that he thought people should know.  He did this so many times, I suggested that he do his own presentation some time.  He must have thought I was only joking because his jaw nearly hit the floor when I told him I had arranged for him to share with the all the kids at a partner church we were planning to visit in Northern California.  After getting over his initial shock, we helped him prepare his presentation.  Some slides were borrowed from my presentation, but other slides were completely his own idea.  When the big day came, his presentation went so well that when asked how it went, Joshua replied, “I think I could do that again sometime.”  Therefore, I arranged for him to do it again at another church.

In the video below you’ll see Joshua's full presentation to the kids at Grace Presbyterian Church in Yorba Linda, California, followed by still images of the powerpoint slides he used.  I included those at the end because they are kind of hard to see in the video.

We keep telling the kids that God has called our whole family to the mission field, and that they are an important part of what we are doing.  Therefore, we were really pleased to see Joshua's interest in getting involved as our family has been on the deputation trail visiting churches.  I believe this has also been a good opportunity for one of our kids to give voice to his experiences in Thailand because it is not only Sun and I who are experiencing life overseas, but our kids too.

Watch "My Life in Thailand - A Missionary Kid's Perspective” on YouTube

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Joshua and Caitlin Breaking Boards

For the past month or two, our family has been enjoying learning American Kenpo Karate.  All of us except for John have gotten into it (and John even tries a bit but he is still too little to learn it formally).  During a recent Saturday lesson, Mr. Kellogg gave Joshua and Caitlin the chance to try their hand at breaking wooden boards.  They felt really good and doing it successfully and it was fun to watch as parents.  The boards were not very thick but you've got to start somewhere :-)

Watch "Joshua & Caitlin Breaking Boards" on YouTube

 

Our family with Mr. Kellogg at Kellogg's American Kenpo Karate