Monday, June 30, 2008

Family Reunion

Last Friday, we attended the funeral mass of Charles Gail, the only brother of Captain's godfather Tony Gail, at the Immaculate Conception Church in Leavenworth. We learned about this brave man, who won a Purple Heart during his Navy days in the South Pacific in 1944. He also held an honorary doctorate in geology. He worked/taught in the oil industry in Columbia, South America, for nearly 30 years.

The good result was when today we could all gather with the Minnesota and Kansas cousins in Tonganoxie at the Klinkenberg farm. Fried chicken for lunch. Baseball game of boys against girls (Uncle Chuck was all-time catcher). A few fireworks to delight Ethan, Taylor, Alyssa, Ben, and David! Music on Uncle Bob's mandolin, fingered just like a fiddle. Debbie's new puppy to thrill for Elijah, Lydia, and Henry. Recipe swaps between Andrea, Denise, Pam, Candise, Mary, Elizabeth, and Charlotte. Family reunions guarantee long conversations on a pleasant summer afternoon.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Captain Gone Overseas

Captain flew over the Greenwich Prime Meridian for the first time as a pilot! He flew right into tomorrow so to speak -- landing forward in time by 9 hours. While he is in Moscow and St. Petersburg we will definitely miss/envy him. But, there's plenty of summer activities around here the next 10 days.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Anne with an -e!

"Anne of Green Gables" celebrated her 100th birthday last Friday (June 20), and she ranks among my MOST favorite! The phrase "kindred spirits" spoke right to my heart. Then, I laughed and sighed and cried while watching the way her optimism won everyone's heart, from Diana to Gilbert to Rachel Lynde.

Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote the first of her "Anne" series of 8 books (Meggar has read them all!) when she was 33 years old. Her marriage later took her away from Prince Edward Island, but not from her writing. Here is a piece from "The Poetry of L.M. Montgomery" which I loved:

What Children Know
Many things the children know
Where the ripest berries grow,
Where the first pale violets peep
Shyly from their winter's sleep,
And how many blue eggs rest
In the robin's woven nest.
Children know where echoes hide
Over on the brown hillside,
How to tell a fortune bright
By the daisy petals white,
How the honey you may sup
From the meadow clover's cup.
Something else the children know
Oh, they learned it long ago!
Mother's shoulder is the best
Place in all the world to rest.
And the sweetest dreams belong
To a mother's twilight song!
Special thanks to Jenny, our Librarian in Savannah, for her workshop today on Anne and Maud. We enjoyed the raspberry cordial, "carrots" cake, and the movie discussions. Megan Follows is superb in all three movies -- even though one of them completely ignores the L.M. Montgomery literature. Young Megan Follows also appeared in "Hockey Night," which is only relevant because it's part of our family video library :-)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Oh, Dear!

My van struck a deer last week on the highway, but Captain was able to knock out the dents and re-attach the rear bumper himself. Does a Previa minivan have nine lives?! (We swear by Toyota vehicles.) Now if someone would just get it cleaned up on the inside it would be "good" as new.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Review of "Young Riders"

Another NetFlix... "The Young Riders" comprised of 67 episodes which ran on TV during 1989-1992. This movie is an exciting series of western adventures based on the boys who actually worked for the Pony Express. Our family LOVES this historical connection because we live in St. Joseph, MO -- the location of the Pony Express National Museum and original Stables. Meggar even works there giving tours to school children. The riders include the future "Buffalo Bill" Cody; James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok; Ike, an orphan who is a mute; Buck, a half-White/half-Kiowa scout; and the Kid, a quiet Southerner similar to "Billy the Kid." They also ride with Lou, a young woman who keeps secretly disguised as a boy. Although highly fictionalized, there are many facts woven into the tales of this group of Express riders based at a waystation in Sweetwater, Kansas. The station is run by an ex-Texas Ranger and all-around eccentric named "Teaspoon" Hunter, and Emma, who is their cook, housekeeper, and mother hen as she tries to keep them out of trouble. (Check out our favorite non-fiction books about the Pony Express: "The Story of the Pony Express" by Missouri native Cheryl Harness and "On the Winds of Destiny" by Jacqueline Lewin.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dorito's Birthday -- "You Rock!"

Turning 13 was more fun because of the "Guitar Hero" party, guitar pinata, pizza, and ice cream cake. Dorito only wanted a few friends to come over, and they rocked our basement at top volume! Everyone said my hand-lettered sign looked like the real (cool) logo. Despite the cloudy skies, the boys threw Winger and Polar Bear in the pool! Then everyone joined in some diving contests. Justin had the biggest cannonball splash, Mitchell can do the fanciest flip-and-a-half, and the pitching wedge contest meant more than a dozen golf balls ended up in the pool. Tonight, he's a tired teenager.

Monday, June 23, 2008


As a pre-13 birthday present, Meggar took Dorito to hang-out at the North Shoppes. First they went Shopping at Target, then for Supper at Chipotle, and then to a Movie with concessions and everything! (It's hard to tell who had the better time, her or him!) They are still laughing about "Get Smart." And a little mouse told me they shared some secrets, too. Tomorrow is the BIG DAY for Dorito. Twice today I've spied him sitting in front of the present table trying to guess what's in his packages...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Weekend Warriors

Busy Weekend....
Meggar is back home from Lincoln, Neb. (Wife squeezed in a lunch with homeschool comrad Donna on the shady deck!) Mothers really miss their only daughter when she's gone for a whole WEEK! Meggar reported that the prayers were early (6:20 a.m.), the nuns were fun/funny, and the lunches brought in for VBS staff were over-the-top (especially the desserts). She played the organ on Friday -- including all the Mass parts. I am impressed!

Dorito picked up some tips from his friend Cameron, the top junior of the Central High golf team. They played 9 holes at Country Club.

Captain played 16 holes with his friend, Dan. But then it got too dark to see, so they met the wives at a "local" Bistro & Bar. Great atmosphere and great beer selection. Captain deserved a bit of cheering up after hitting a deer on Friday night with Wife's van. He was able to re-attach the rear bumper with chewing gum and new screws.

The "teens" gave the Ford Explorer Sport a thorough cleaning -- carpets and upholstery were shampooed and they found $.14 under the cushions.

Winger climbed into Dad's lap for a Sunday afternoon snooze, because, he said: "Mom never sits down!" (Little slice of humble pie on the Sabbath, anyone?) Polar Bear must have felt sorry for Mom -- he snuggled with her until she fell asleep.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My! Fair! Lady!

Homeschool Senior Angelina DeFeo played the role of Eliza just like she was Audrey Hepburn! We were so impressed with this H.E.A.R.T. production. Meggar attended with her youth group. Great Cockney accents, dances with flair, and voices that sang like the angels. No wonder it's called the 'perfect musical' by critics. I'm still humming...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Totus Tuus is Here

The staff of "Totus Tuus" Summer Bible School have provided an exciting and fun week for the boys! Highlights:

*Mr. AJ is a K-State grad and convinced Winger that KSU could really be called a "Catholic College" because it's purple color is the same as the liturgical color for Advent and Lent. :-)

*Miss Jena sprained her ankle but is admired for her powerful punts in kickball -- and her pain tolerance to walk to class the next day. She's friends with our Cousin Andy.

*Mr. Nick is a TWIN, who secretly wants to be a PILOT on the side. He knows the Ten Commandments and gave us some new things to think about.

*Miss Stacey is a Benedictine student/ice cream sundae target who will make an excellent teacher in one more year.

*Dinner at the Schmidlings meant 4 meatloaves, 16 potatoes/mashed, 2 pounds of blue cheese coleslaw, a crockpot full of sweet grean beans, 2 bottles of wine, and 4 pints of strawberries on top of shortcake and ice cream. Wow, I'm full!

*After-dinner music was relaxing: Handel's Chorus from Judas Macabeus and Bach's Minuet 1.

*Local firetruck came to spray down the kids on their hottest afternoon. Polar Bear and Winger took aim with the biggest water gun of all -- the fire hose!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

YWCA Awards Luncheon

All nominees were already winners in my mind at today's YWCA Women of Excellence Awards luncheon: Alyxandra Hurd is truly a "Future Leader," and Cindy Daffron brings excellence every day as a "Woman in the Workplace." It was a perfect chance to recognize and honor those most deserving in our city.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Picture Book with Math Skills

Summer library visits are more fun because we aren't looking for school books, but this week we found "Anno's Math Games II" and "Anno's Math Games III." Both are excellent for building thinking skills for elementary grades. Polar Bear and Winger didn't even realize they were doing something educational because it was so fun.

Almost a Teenager

Dorito is bubbling over in anticipation of his 13th birthday. It is only one week away, and he has started to look in the mailbox for any cards that might arrive. :-) He has definitely acted "older" this summer, being responsible for the mowing and spin trimming as well as some pool maintenance. He's also been looking online for gifts he might request: golf clubs, cell phone, mountain bike...

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Kitchen Helper

Captain showed me this recently. I couldn't believe that I've missed it all these years! Does anybody know when this helpful tab was invented? Apparently it's on boxes of aluminum foil and plastic wrap! Maybe I've used my foil so sparingly that I haven't bought a new box in a while.... enjoy

Monday, June 16, 2008

Staying at the Convent

Meggar doesn't want to be a nun, but she went to the convent in Lincoln this week to help the School Sisters of Christ the King with summer Bible School. It will be a great service project for them, and a time of authentic joy and holy happiness for our teenage daughter. "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee." -St. Augustine

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers and Mothers

I thought I'd share these photos from Mother's Day to show what a great father/husband I have. Captain bought the supplies for a tree swing on Mother's Day 2007 and then completed the project with Dorito this year.

Thanks to the neighbor's tall ladder and Scout knot-tying knowledge, this swing should last through all seasons.

Just like our marriage!

Happy Father's Day to my Captain!

Blessings to our fathers, uncles, and priests on this Father's Day weekend!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pass the Port, Please!

Saturday night was our annual Dinner with the Pastor at the Robertson's house! JL's wife should open a gourmet restaurant with her talents: such a wonderful beef tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes, and rosemaried green beans! Of course, the evening ended with not one - but two desserts! And I always save room for a small glass of port afterward. Praeger is my winery of preference when it comes to ports for sipping. At $40 -$50 per bottle, you only feel like sipping them. Actually, port wines take their name from the city of Oporto that is situated at the mouth of the River of Gold (Rio Douro) in Portugal. The British were desperate for wine during their 17th century wars with France. By traveling inland along the River of Gold, they found darker and more astringent red wines in contrast to those they had seen near the coast. In order to stabilize them for shipment to England, some say that merchants added "a bucket or two" of brandy to the barrels of wine before sending them off. Another story is told of a wine merchant in Liverpool, who in 1678, sent his sons to Portugal to find a wine source. In the Douro Valley, the sons came upon a monastery in Lamego where the abbot was adding brandy to the wine during, rather than after, fermentation -- thereby producing a port-type wine. In any event, sometime during the end of the 1600's or beginning of the 1700's, port was "invented" with its still sweet, fruity, and strong characteristics. Cheers!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Grandma Moves In

We helped Gr. Elizabeth unpack today and settle into our basement bedroom and bathroom. Dorito gave her one of his dressers, Meggar donated a desk, the twins gave up a book shelf. It will be a great help to have her around this summer: She is "Mostly Martha" with laundry and housecleaning!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Scouts Host Family Night

The new Council Ring at Camp Geiger was impressive, and we laughed at the Scout skits and songs. Dorito seemed pleased with the supper we brought from KFC. He was 500 times more talkative than his first year -- probably because Captain came along. Meggar also came, because she actually missed her brother. And I got a kiss and two hugs!

Plus, our prayers go to the Scouts and families who were injured in Iowa.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer Book Club Treats

Meggar and I never miss the monthly Jane Austen Book Club at the local library. The discussions are great and everyone brings a treat to share during the tea party. Today I experimented with a recipe with excellent results. The cupcake-size bundt pan made them look especially pleasing! I hope you'll be "Persuaded" to try them. Meggar won the quiz tonight and brought home an English ivy for our breakfast table, too.
Austen's Summer Tea Cakes
1 box cake mix (yellow or white)
1 c. oil (can use half applesauce)
4 eggs
1-2 small cans of mandarin oranges, with juice
Mix well with beaters; pour into cupcake liners or greased tins. Bake at 350' F for 15-18 minutes. Cool on racks.
2 T. butter
2 T. cream cheese
1/2 t. almond extract
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. flaked coconut
Beat together until whipped consistency; add water to thin. Spread on cupcakes and sprinkle with flaked coconut, if desired.
(The original recipe called for pineapple tidbits in the frosting, which also would be good. I didn't have any in the pantry so I added the almond flavoring and coconut instead.)

Tennis Anyone?

Summer tennis lessons started today at Noyes Courts. Polar Bear has a naturally great serve, Winger talks to his friends too much, and Dorito is old enough to get serious about keeping score. I take advantage of the high school track and walk laps to get MY exercise.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Honesty is Our Policy

"Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson (1762-1826). This quote seems to be a repetitive part of growing up and a necessity for operating in the "real" world.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Uncle Clint Comes to Call

Winger was especially happy that Uncle Clint made a visit from Phoenix this weekend! We swam in the pool, played badminton, ate strawberry shortcake, and told hockey stories. (Too bad we couldn't find Clint a date.) It is a treat for me to talk over great books and current Church events. It's also handy to ask him whether Winger had broken his toe when he fell down the stairs. All's well, and we send best wishes to Morning Star Ob-Gyn.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Wedding Bells

Stefanie Smiley's wedding to Jason Strong was picture perfect! (Meggar loved the pink trim on the wedding gown.) She was our favorite babysitter for the longest time, because she could handle the twins. Now she's finished her nursing degree and is all grown up. We are quite proud of this couple who chose 6/7/8 for a wedding date.

More Strawberries

Captain came home from 6-day trip to California (again) with really ripe strawberries (again). We are in heaven with red juice running down our chins. Polar Bear has discovered they are best eaten right from the basket while pinching the stem between your thumb and fingers. Dorito made us promise not to eat them all while he is at Camp Geiger this week.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Looks Like Snow

Last night's rainstorms have left our pool area looking like it's covered in snow! We have a dozen hawthorn trees outlining our back yard, so the "snowfall" was plentiful. (We're trying to compete with Ana's months of snow!) Of course, we feel fortunate to have this Missouri symbol in our landscaping, but the thanks are due to the original owner. The hawthorn was adopted in 1923 as the official flower of the State of Missouri. Their blossoms are as beautiful as their thorns are fierce (thorns can be 1-5 inches). The hawthorn has been held sacred since the legend that the crown of thorns worn by Jesus was woven from its branches. Dorito (the Boy Scout) was glad to learn that the Missouri Dept. of Conservation recommends these thorns for use as emergency fishing hooks. Plus the berries are edible (if you are ever lost in the woods) and make terrific jams and jellies (we shall see about that this fall). The hawthorn berry is known for its benefit to cardiovascular health and is a great source of Vit C and bioflavinoids.

Black Hawthorn Berry Jam
-2 quarts Black Hawthorn berries
-1 quart Black Currants (high in pectin)
-1-cup honey (or sugar) to taste
1. Place berries in a pot and cover with water (2 inches above the berries)
2. Add honey or sugar and simmer until mixture thickens
3. Run the mixture through a food mill to remove seeds and stems.
4. Place back in the pot, add a quart of water, and simmer again until mixture is quite thick.
To can in water bath:
1. Boil jars, lids, and ringsx
2. Fill with hot jam liquid and secure lids and rings.
3. Place jars in a canning kettle and cover with water (1 inch above tops). Boil ½ pint 10 minutes, pints = 15 minutes, quarts = 20 minutes.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tornado Sirens

The bad news was tornado sirens kept us in the basement all evening, but the good news was we had "The Cosby Show" from NetFlix and "Sister Act" for laughs.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Sad for the Stanley Cup Losers

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins went down in Game 6 of the NHL Finals to the Detroit Redwings. Everybody in our house is sad, but still dreaming of the day we might see the Stanley Cup up close.

Baseball is a Hit

The twins are filling in for the St. Joe Hammers baseball team to help them finish their season after some players moved away. Polar Bear had two great hits, and Winger played great at 2nd grade. Fun times with old friends!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Artistic Thoughts

I'm reading "Artist to Artist" in order to teach my children (another) unit study on good books. The artwork alone makes me long to OWN this book, not just borrow it from our wonderful librarians... Each of the 23 illustrators tells how they began with art in childhood. My favorite quote so far is from Mitsumasa Anno: "(Nothing is) really as good as a meal made 'from scratch,' or a picture created with your own hands."

Monday, June 2, 2008


The twins are playing Summer Jam on the outdoor basketball courts with some friends from the old street. How fun! They won the first game, by a lot. Winger forgot to change gears and told Captain: "I scored one goal and one assist." We'll work on switching from hockey to hoops lingo before next Monday's game.

Hockey Travel Teams

Chicago has more hockey players and better competition, as the boys discovered this weekend. Dorito scored the first goal of the first Bantam game! Polar Bear and Winger each were credited with an assist or two in the Pee Wee games. Most of all, they like the time with Captain and watching NHL games on cable TV (which we don't have at home).

Sunday, June 1, 2008


This weekend, Meggar and I attended both the St. Joseph Homeschool graduation and the KC Catholic Homeschool graduation. Bittersweet feelings as we acknowledged the accomplishments of Gabriel, Jessica, Zach, Liesl, Alyx, and Jenna. CONGRATULATIONS! and best wishes for success in the future!