Sunday, August 31, 2008

Movies with Educational Magic

From the makers of
"Beethoven Lives Upstairs"..
Additional favorites for your family!
by Devine Entertainment Corporation.
Check out all their movies, sets, AND teacher's guides:

The movies are short (55 minutes) and not animated (both seem to be key to making the context of history come alive for my older elementary and high school students!) These educational films bring the world's most famous figures to life in historically beautiful locations.
We own most of the Artist Series:
- "Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist"
- "Degas & The Dancer"
- "Winslow Homer: American Original"
- "Rembrandt: Father & Sons"
- "Goya: Awakened in a Dream"
- "Monet: Shadow & Light"
and The Inventor's Series:
- "Edison: The Wizard of Light"
- "Leonardo: A Dream of Flight"
- "Galileo: On the Shoulders of Giants"
- "Einstein: Light to the Power of 2"
- "Newton: A Tale of Two Isaacs"
- "Marie Curie: More than Meets the Eye"
Now I want to start acquiring the Composer's Series:
- "Strauss: The King of 3/4 Time"
- "Rossini's Ghost"
- "Liszt's Rhapsody"
- "Bizet's Dream"
- "Handel's Last Chance"
- "Bach's Fight for Freedom"
(Just think!) IN DEVELOPMENT:
The Writer's Series:
- Alexandre Dumas "Three Musketeers"
- Mark Twain "Huckleberry Finn" 
- Molière "The Misanthrope"
- Cervantes "Don Quixote"
- Edgar Allan Poe "The Tell-Tale Heart"
- Lewis Carroll "Alice in Wonderland" 

*spoiler* = I can't seem to get any on NetFlix, but a few are at my library. I'll be pushing for both to acquire more copies! (Often I have found them cheaply on auction sites.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Once in a Blue Moon

August 30--this is the second time we'll have a full moon in the same calendar month, hence the name "Blue Moon." Today calls for doing something you rarely do! For us Schmidlings, that means staying home. :-). I hope we watch a movie and roast marshmallows.

Jerry Lewis Telethon

"The Fiddlers Three" helped kick off the local Labor Day Weekend telethon for Muscular Dystrophy. There was a small crowd at the Fire Museum, but they were a good audience.

Dorito and Captain are also cooking burgers and brats for the Boy Scout Lunch Stand all weekend at Lowe's. This is a big fundraiser for their troop, and everyone is expected to come cool off in our pool at the end of the afternoon.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Hockey Mom

For some of us, being a "hockey mom" is qualification enough.

Sarah Palin gets my vote and makes the McCain ticket look pretty good.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Feast of St. Augustine

Catholics honor Saint Augustine on this day (when his death signaled his entrance to eternal life). My eldest bears the middle name of Augusta and has enjoyed reading his works for 10th grade homeschool literature class. (Tonight we also pray for the soul of Mary Nagle, age 89, whose funeral will be tomorrow at our parish.)

Prayer of St. Augustine
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit
that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit
that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit
that I may love what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit
to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit
that I may always be holy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Democrats in Denver

I've been wanting to post since Sunday's faux pas by Nancy Pelosi on "Meet the Press" and say:
#1. What Catholic school did she go to anyway?
#2. Poor Saint Augustine was maligned (actually she quoted St. Thomas Aquinas) as she tried to put her theological views above his.
#3. She obviously hasn't seen the Bodies Revealed exhibit at Union Station in KC, which I'm told shows an open cross-section of pregnant female cadavers in all nine months of the baby's life!
#4. Couldn't the DNC think of a better location for their Convention than Denver? Don't they know the local Catholic power-house bishops named Chaput and Conley?

Archbishop Chaput wrote "The Separation of Sense and State" (and plenty of other bishops and archbishops wrote to correct her misstatement of church teaching). It was Beautiful!

"Catholics who make excuses for it (abortion) - whether they're famous or not - fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith. ... A proper understanding of the "separation of Church and state" does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it's always important to know what our faith actually teaches."

We're not fooled. And we've actually read The Confessions of St. Augustine in this house.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Still Homeschooling After All These Years

"To give a child an education is always a work of salvation." - St. Clement
I liked this quote from our fourth pope because I'm starting my 12th year of homeschooling all my children. It's not because I think I'm perfect. It's not because I think I'm better than everyone else. I think it will help my children be better people. The quote above is intriguing because it could mean my salvation or my children's salvation. I like to think it's both. God intertwines lives that way. It's a beautiful tapestry any way you look at it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pony Express Rider -- On a Bike!

Spencer Klaasen starts his historic bike ride today in Sacramento, California. He will follow the Pony Express route all the way to St. Joseph during the next 14 days. (That's a lot of horse power.) The 1861 riders aimed for a 10-day delivery unless there was Indian trouble and then it might take 12-14 days. Klaasen is keeping a blog and recording his progress via GPS waypoints. We're wishing him the best of Cowboy luck!

Two Out of Three is Bad

Thank goodness only a couple of things have gone wrong lately:
#1. I thought Missouri Statehood Day was August 21 so on that date we dug out our "S is for Show Me" book and discovered the anniversary date was August 10. So we had a belated birthday celebration...

#2. I thought the Perseid Meteor Shower was near Captain's birthday, so I was bummed to discover it was 5 days earlier this year. So we will try again next summer to wake up in the middle of the night for star gazing...

#3. I remembered to call my dear Mother on her real Birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Gr. Judy! We also mailed her some *chocolate treats* and *girly stuff* because she deserves that kind of thing.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Golf Outing on Cool Afternoon

With the pleasant temperatures today, we spent Sunday afternoon at Fairview for 9 holes of golf:
Wife shot a 60
Winger shot a 53
Polar Bear shot a 44
Dorito shot about 55 (from white tees)
Captain shot a 39 (from white tees)
Meggar had 2 babysitting jobs, but usually shoots the same as her mom. :-) At least I am trying to keep up!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Good Sports

Tomorrow we'll bid farewell to the Summer Olympics, but I must say that I liked the fact practically everyone in the world has been cheering for "their team" the past two weeks. Sports can have a bad name in some circles -- I've even been told that WE place too much importance on hockey and volleyball. But for today, at least, the Schmidling's level of determination in competitive sports is pale in comparison to the investment of most Olympians and their parents. Go, Michael Phelps! He deserved 8 gold medals.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Penny Log

I've decided to keep posting the pennies we find...
Dorito found one on the waiting deck of the Mamba!

Worlds of Fun

Homeschoolers got in for a discounted rate today! We had a great time - bumped into Jarrett from the hockey team and Jenna from our local high school group! The group only got to ride the Patriot once before it broke down. Dorito was brave enough to go on EVERYTHING with Meggar: Mamba, Detonator, and ThunderHawk! The twins rode the Cyclone, TimberWolf, and Spinning Dragons. Even Wife went on the Timberwolf and the Spinning Dragons twice.

Letter to the Editor

My letter in the local paper today:
Dear Editor,
I believe in truthful political campaigns. So why are extreme environmentalists who don’t live here helping fund Kay Barnes’ bid for Congress?
These environmental groups not only oppose domestic oil drilling, they also want to raise taxes on gasoline and enforce environmental restrictions on manufacturers and other businesses which would be economically devastating to them. Let’s be truthful: The only reason they are willing to give Ms. Barnes so much money is because she supports their agenda. Sam Graves supports drilling for American oil and enabling the development of fuel alternatives that employ people right here in Northwest Missouri.
Maybe Ms. Barnes has lost touch with the average voter around here, since she hasn’t lived here in the last 50 years.
Woman who was paying $2.11 for gas only 18 months ago because the gas prices did not go up when Bush was elected and not when the Iraq Conflict began but when N. Pelosi stopped domestic exploration and drilling

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Algebra is HARD!

Dorito was dreading his second day of Algebra I claiming it was "too hard!" But he is determined to conquer these new concepts: absolute value, negative integers, and circumference of half a circle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Movie Review

Three parents and nine teens from our Catholic homeschool group went to see "Henry Poole is Here." All of us really, really liked this movie. It is definitely hard to write about it without giving away the whole plot. It's also hard to find the right adjectives to describe it. Henry Poole knows he is going to die soon, and takes a sad/angry/depressed approach to meeting his death. He uses the Lord's name in vain, but he says it in the context of moaning for deliverance. It was very appropriate to the script, no matter how offensive to my 40-something ears. Henry's conscience is being pricked by the "religious" neighbors. Esperanza is a beautiful Catholic woman, who cares for his feelings and his eternal soul. She brings her priest over (George Lopez?!) and he says all the right things about the apparition on Henry's house. It is not an anti-Catholic movie at all! That's all the spoilers I will give away.
Prepare yourself for a slow-moving plot. Stretches of silence give you the depths of Henry's despair and his solitude actually brings him to reflect on his childhood and make sense of his life. The background music is very "techno" (Bob Dylan, Ben Harper, U2) - I don't know how to describe it. The music and the main character are very odd! I probably would not take my 10-year-olds because they might think it moves too slow.However, there is nothing to prevent that age group from going! I can heartily endorse this movie for showing the honest struggle of man's deepest questions about life and death. It is both funny (we laughed out loud) and sorrowful (we passed out tissues). Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Joseph and Chico

For homeschool unit study today, we read "Joseph and Chico" about Pope Benedict XVI as told by his feline friend. Good picture book with great illustrations. We used colored pencils and oil pastels and learned to draw cats.

First Field Trip: The Catholic homeschoolers went together to see "The Tabernacle Experience" sponsored by Green Valley Baptist. They created a full-scale replica of the Old Testament Tabernacle and gave us a six-part tour. What a great "living books" project by this congregation!

Panera is Open

Here in the dark ages, St. Joseph welcomes its first Panera restaurant. Meggar went for supper with Fashionably Pink. They are happy to report that it is spacious, delicious, and service-oriented. With full stomachs, they headed off for the "Logic" session at Becca's Bible study.

Pool Party and Field Trip

The Catholic homeschoolers came over to swim and cook-out before our first field trip of the semester. Good splashing, good grilling, and good conversation. The Green Valley Baptist church is hosting "The Tabernacle" interactive display all week, and we learned a little more about the Old Testament.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Scouts Here to Swim

Might be the last of the warm weather for Missouri... Might be the last hoorah before school starts... Scouts from the Red Fox Patrol came over for a swim party and cook-out before their meeting tonight! Good fun with Justin, Lucas, Prokop, Jacob, and Dorito.

Birthday for the Captain

In honor of his real birthday today, I offer Captain this verse because its reference is the same as the date:
"In God, all things work together for good for those who love Him." (Romans 8:18)

School Starts Today

11th grade... 8th grade... 5th grade...
5th grade...

Fall term began today with "half days" of math, religion, and history at our St. Thomas More Homeschool. I promised the kids we also would learn to make funnel cakes like they saw at the Trails West! festival, so... (YUM!)
Funnel Cake Recipe:
1 egg
2/3 c. milk
2 T. sugar
1-1/4 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
Beat egg and milk first. Then mix in all other ingredients. Beat until smooth. Using a funnel, drop batter into hot oil (350' F) working from center outwards. Flip as soon as edges are golden. Remove as soon as edges are crispy. Sprink with powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Let's Party!

Our 40-something Captain was called in to work this weekend at the last minute. So we postponed the "birthday golf" outing and had presents today when he got back home. Wife chose a new eau de toilette from Givenchy (ooh-la-la). Winger came along to give advice and proudly told me he had never been shopping for cologne in his whole life! In addition, the kids selected a golf pull-cart from MC Sports. They made sure it was one step fancier than their own carts because he is a better golfer. They helped unpack it and set up the bag and water bottle. They were just as excited as he was! Dorito baked the triple layer cake, and Polar Bear helped him with the frosting and a LOAD of candles. We also found time to grill some steaks, pull the cork on the Cabernet, and listen to Dan's Catholic jokes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How old is that violin?

Tonight the crowd was nearly as old as Dorito's violin. The Fiddlers Three entertained for the 1937-1939 class reunion from Neely Elementary School. (Hint: His violin is 87 years old.) Everybody was smiling and humming along with "Buffalo Gals," so I think there's something to be said for live music.

Earlier in the afternoon, we enjoyed the trio of "Fresh Cut Grass," which includes our violin instructor. Every year we watch his bow fly over the strings. Hot bluegrass makes Dorito ready to learn a new fiddle tune! Sitting by us were Brooks and Owen, who also wanted to get kettle korn, home-made rootbeer, and corndogs. Then we were too full to eat funnel cakes. Best of all, we saw the Civil War re-enactors, and one of the Southerners showed Owen his gun!

See a Penny?!

Captain found a penny today - in Canada - on the floor of the elevator. He picked it up (of course) and brought it home for me (of course). But I gave it to Dorito (of course), who collects coins. My "weekly luck" continues to hold...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Debut on the Trails West! stage

The Fiddlers Three made their big break into show biz tonight on the Family Stage at the Trails West! festival.

Several of their dear friends came to watch and play on shakers! Lots of clappin' and fiddlin' going on with the three boys - and we like to say Meggar just fiddles around (as the piano accompanist).
No mistakes! Witty comments from Winger between songs! And Captain managed to arrive with Meggar at the last possible minute, due to a wreck blocking the interstate after volleyball practice (whew!). Nextyear, the boys will be learning "Wabash Cannonball" - not the MU Fight Song, Mr. Robertson!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What Would You Like to Learn Today?

Meggar's new piano teacher is loading her up - 5 songs, including a Two-Part Invention and Chopin, plus Hanon exercises, and "What song would you like to play?" Meggar was thrilled to be asked that question! She has a list, trust me! It's all working out quite well.

Pillow Talk

It's election season again and that means plenty of references to "pillow talk." This really stumps me, because when my husband's head hits the pillow he instantly falls asleep! I know this to be true because of the soft snoring about 28 seconds later. So why do some candidates claim to have discussed issues of significant political weight after being tucked in for the night? I'm not saying my husband never discusses weighty political matters with me. But it's like an Olympic event - it only happens every four years.

Penny Found Again

I found a penny in the parking lot during hockey try-outs. Of course, the twins don't need luck to make the Saints travel teams. They will play both Pee Wee and Squirts this year. Captain teased them that they would each have to score 2-3 goals per game.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jane Austen era cookies

For tonight's monthly Jane Austen Book Club, Meggar made "Almond Knots" from the Jane Austen Cookbook. They were delicious because of the secret ingredient: rosewater. Ours was purchased at the health food store (only place we could locate it locally). The bottle claimed to be mostly water infused with essential oil. Not quite as difficult as collecting a certain variety of roses and steaming the buds in order to collect the condensation, etc. etc. Laura Swartz noted the special flavoring right away! It does make all the difference - whether in 1803 or 2008.

Almond Knots
1 lb. blanched almonds
½ lb. sugar
2 egg whites
2 T. rose-flower water (you could substitute vanilla, but it won’t taste quite the same)
In a food processor, grind the almonds until fine. Add rose-flower water and process into a paste. Add the sugar and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Stir them into the almond mixture. Roll the pieces of dough into ropes about ½ inch thickness. Rolls it lightly in a dish of sugar and form into loose know on parchment-lined baking sheet. Also can shape each 1 T. of dough into a half-moon shape. Place the almond knots closely on baking sheet since they do not rise or spread during baking. Bake at low 250’ F oven for 25-30 minutes. Do not allow the cookies to brown. Then remove from oven immediately and cool on racks. These crispy and chewy cookies are wonderful for tea time.

Monday, August 11, 2008

See a Penny?!

Polar Bear found a penny today - on vacation - in the parking lot. He gave it to me, excited that he could help my luck hold for another week....

How many water slides are at the Olympics?

Our family vacationed for 2 days at Grizzly Jack's at the edge of Starved Rock State Park, Illinois. They even convinced Mom to ride both the big and little water slide! (WHY?!) Winger is the planner in our group: "Let's do the tube slide five more times, then the big wave pool, then the hot tub." OK, I'm convinced to try it. The bonus was having a TV to watch the Olympics (did you see Michael Phelps' team win the relay over France?!) We're heading back to the pool and see if we can do those flip turns like Michael Phelps. Everybody has new goggles to try, thanks to our "Big Spender" on this vacation.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Graduating in Power Skating

The world-famous Laura Stamm Power Skating clinic really lived up to its name. Winger claimed he learned 29 of the 32 things they taught in the first 2-hour session on Friday night! The class for travel players really challenged my three sons, and the college-player instructors were quick to point out any weaknesses AND praise any improvements. If Wayne Gretzky and Jeff Madill graduated from these classes, then you can bet my boys want to try their best all three days.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My Blue Jean Baby

How do you get an old husband to buy new jeans?! With encouragement from your wife and teenage daugher! He chose the "Revolution" style with wide, straight legs in dark denim. *Stylish* He's even wearing them tonight to dinner in Chicago. The whole family voted to return to Geja's Fondue Cafe in the Lincoln Park area. Afterwards, we planned to see the fireworks off Navy Pier but got lost trying to find a our first geocache. The coordinates were difficult to follow, and then it became too dark. We'll try again tomorrow.

Friday, August 8, 2008

China's Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremonies in Beijing's National Stadium were astonishing! I marveled at the synchronized oarsmen, LED screen images, and the sheer number of people in the right place at precisely the right time in the "Bird Nest." You have to applaud the Chinese for using technology in a beautiful way. The section of my brain which is OCD was smiling the whole time. Later, I had to humbly admit that I can barely coordinate my four children to wear the same outfits and go in the same direction! Winger's comment on the Olympics was priceless: "Will there be hockey at these Olympics?" Only in our family does hockey occur year-round.

Yet, there's a lump in my throat concerning the Underground Catholic Church, whose bishops and priests are still imprisoned by the Chinese government despite an announcement of reconciliation from Pope Benedict XVI more than a year ago.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sights and Smells at the Iowa State Fair

Captain got a day off and we headed north. We made it as far as Des Moines and decided to take in the Iowa State Fair. Everyone's tummy was happy with greasy brats, handmade strawberry ice cream, 3 flavors of salt water taffy, and fresh squeezed lemonade. We saw the large butter sculptures, the champion ram, and a big boar weighing 1,200 lbs. That is "some pig."
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Remembering Kit Kittredge Books

For 5 years I was known locally as "The American Girl Club lady" so I simply had to take Meggar to see the newest American Girl movie. Of course, we had to drive to Kansas City since it has not come to our town. My boys thought they were too old for a G rating - especially one about a girl! To their surprise, there was not one doll in the whole movie. In the end, it was a funny yet poignant hit with all of us (ages 10 to 40-something). Based on the Depression-era series of books by Valerie Tripp (a Catholic writer whom we met in 2003 at Hallmark), this short film offered a sneak peak into Cincinnati during 1934. Kids today would do well to learn from it. Soup kitchens, hobo secret symbols, and feed-sack dresses were just some of the lessons Kit experienced firsthand. American Girl afficianados will be pleased with the attention to details, like Kit's necklace, pet dog, desk lamp, typewriter, ball mitt, and friend Ruthie. It was a good foundation for a little unit study before school begins, and we will be more thankful for our blessings from God.

Look What I Found

In spite of my luck with finding pennies on the ground, today I found a quarter: does that mean I can go 25 weeks without finding a penny? Let's make a log sheet and see....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Election Working

Any half-awake Republican knows that Sam Graves will need some help in the general election, so we volunteered at the polls today. Sam is our Congressman, and he's being challenged by St. Joseph native Kay Barnes (of the Walter Kronkite clan). She's endorsed by Emily's list and all the other radical lobby groups that don't live in northwest Missouri. So we passed out literature with a smile: Meggar and Dorito were with me from 6:30-8:00 am, just my own sweat to keep me company over the noon hour, and then the twins did an evening stint. Politics are not perfect or pretty, but it's important to make a difference.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Catholic Family Conference

Meggar was the one who first suggested that we attend (thanks to prompting of the Holy Spirit). We haven't been since 2005, so we traveled to Wichita this weekend...
I knew the twins would enjoy Totus Tuus - and they ran into AJ the first night!
The high schoolers laughed nervously when Andrew Pudewa explained a scientific study on rats which proved intelligence was increased by listening to Mozart but their brains turned violent and developed chaotic neuron paths when listening to hard rock or alternative music.
Dorito liked the junior high program and immediately started to practice juggling like the Boehmer Family Jugglers. There's 11 kids in their family, so everyone has plenty of siblings to practice with! Captain already knows how to juggle, so he gave the boys a little tip and Dorito got it on his 2nd try. Polar Bear followed soon after, and Winger had it figured out by the next day!
Meggar listened eagerly to the apologetic talks by Tim Staples, a Catholic Convert from Disciples of Christ. He used plenty of Bible verses to explain the papacy and devotion to Mary.
The most heartwarming for Wife was a chance to listen to Fr. Benedict Groeschel, the famous philosopher from New York, who quipped: "Alice von Hildebrand and I are spiritual directors to each other." He encouraged the audience to practice virtues, especially prudence = which helps you get by in this world; and supernatural prudence = which helps you get to heaven! He used my favorite example from St. Thomas More and the film "A Man for All Seasons." More's friend, the Earl of Essex claims he took the pledge to the King and it didn't bother his conscience. But More said "how lucky for you because if I did sign the oath it would go against my conscience and I'd go to Hell." Historians do not remember the Earl of Essex, but everyone remembers St. Thomas More.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Book Review on Pope's Joy

"Christ Our Joy" by Msgr. Joseph Murphy is the first Catholic book request that I successfully made to our local library! Periodically, I receive suggestions from the email list called "Pope St. Nicholas V" at Yahoo Groups. So I immediately checked this out, but found it more academic than I expected (i.e. it took me longer to read it). It is not written by Pope Benedict XVI, but takes quotations from his many writings all his life. He uses 5-6 chapters to show how true joy is rooted in the Trinity. Here are my two favorite bits:
"It must be clear that pleasure is not everything, that Christianity gives us joy just as love gives us joy. But love is also a renunciation of self."
"Joy grows and continues to mature in suffering in communion with the Cross of Christ. It is here alone that the true joy of faith is born."