Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Eve

Meggar hosted her 2nd annual New Year's Eve Eve party yesterday. The moms like it better when their teens are on the road one night early. Plus Dorito is in high school now so I encouraged him to invite some freshmen. There ended up being 32 guests, so I was glad we had enough food (10 pizzas) plus pop and snacks. Good fun with Guitar Heroes, Bubble Hockey, a new Ninja game, and "The Star of Bethlehem" which I have previously reviewed as a favorite movie of ours.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Feet in the Photo

In case you're wondering, my idea for our family Christmas photo came from Meggar--or really from Domitille. The first French phrase Domi taught her was "Feet on the Beach" when we arrived at the lake in Minnesota. "Pied sur la Plage" was easy to say and easy to remember. Then Meggar took lots of pictures of toes in the sand at the beach house in the south of France. Her own toes, Domi's, and the little cousin's. The photos were cute and a bit artsy. So I started brainstorming from there. It's been a year of Highs and Lows. The kind of year where you trudge on after mistakes with as much mercy as you can show. It's the kind of New Year when I should say "We're going to put our best foot forward." Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trans-Siberian Orchestra & Science Project

We took Grandma to the Sprint Center for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra just before Christmas Eve. There was great music, electric violins, and an amazing laser show for the sold-out crowd. Captain said the drum pit looked as fun as a cockpit! Now we understand where his passions originated, and why he received a trap set for his 15th and 40th birthdays. This led Meggar and I to devise a scientific poll. (No standard deviation.) We found that 100% of the visitors to our basement will touch the drum set and nobody ever touches the three library shelves nearby. Amazing! Nobody says, "Look--they have The Chronicles of Narnia and Mr. Popper's Penguins and a stuffed Wilbur to go with Charlotte's Web." Why are the drums such a magnet? We will have to do some radioactive testing and publish our results in "Modern Electricity" or "Rolling Stones" magazine.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Brother's Engagement

Today, my youngest brother proposed marriage to his Miss Kathryn--on the Feast of the Holy Family--and she accepted! His long-time bachelorhood will end on August 14 in Cleveland, we're told. CONGRATULATIONS and may God Bless!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pope's Sentiments on Christmas Day

Our pastor quoted Pope Benedict's Christmas message saying, "We can conquer the world only through the innocence of a Child." I am not sure if it's meant to be a Capital C or small c in child-- but I like the sentiment either way.

Playing with Cousins

Playing and singing with all the cousins...
smiling... then more playing in the snow and in Grandpa's basement!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mass on Christmas Day

Purple was the main color - although you cannot see Meggar's purple and platinum skirt. Even Captain wore a purple tie to match the twins.
The music was especially good. All three boys played violin for several of the Christmas carols from the choir loft.
The organist was photographed by Winger, too?!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Enough cold weather to sneak in a trip to Snow Creek before Christmas. Meggar and Winger were the only two that I could catch in the lodge between runs on their snowboards. It was a good afternoon for me to write Christmas cards, too.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Picking Out the Tree

No time this year to chop one down ourselves. The twins chose the tallest Douglas Fir they could find.
And hoisted it over to Captain's vehicle.
Teamwork with the roof rack and straps. Let's hope it doesn't blow off this year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Shoes

We broke the family rule that says nobody can buy anything after Halloween--so it can be "saved" as a Christmas present. But Dorito is growing too fast, and he needed some size 11 shoes. Under Armor, no less! Cool. There goes another gift swiped from under our tree.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Ethnic Christmas

Our field trip today was to the Strawberry Hill Museum in Kansas City to see their 32 Nativity sets on display. (This beautiful photo is courtesy of Polar Bear!) Each immigrant group also has a display room and we enjoyed the Polish treasures and Christmas customs the best -- they even have the TWA artifacts from Pope John Paul II's flights to America in a separate locked glass case. The twins were surprised there was no poviticia bread for sale. Captain has ordered some for the holidays to be mailed to our home. Meggar and I decided it would be worthwhile to come back on a weekend when the Tea Room was open.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Only One More Week...until

Until the 12 Days of Christmas! One of the reasons, I love being Catholic is we don't start celebrating Christmas until Christmas. So I can procrastinate the Christmas List until about now. I ignored the first Christmas offers which started appearing in the mail after Halloween because I was busy finishing Meggar's transcript with Kolbe Academy (everything just so). And I tried not to spy the Christmas Decor popping up around Thanksgiving because I was helping Meggar complete the multiple essays for college applications. Then we crammed in a few scholarship forms, and now I need a breather from the paperwork shuffle! Pardon me while I brake for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jane Austen's Birthday

Jane Austen was born on this day in 1775 at Steventon Rectory...
"The month's delay in her arrival inspired her father to make a small joke about how he and his wife had 'in old age grown such bad reckoners;' he was forty-four. The child came in the evening, he said, without much warning. There was no need for a doctor; it was rare to call one for something as routine as childbirth, and the nearest, in Basingstoke, was seven miles away over bad roads. In any case, 'everything was soon happily over.' They were pleased to have a second daughter, 'a present plaything for her sister Cassy and a future companion. She is to be Jenny'..."

Last night, our book club met and voted on 11 selections for the coming year. Read on and celebrate responsibly, Janeites! Go easy on the claret and Colin Firth.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Blessings

The weekend after Thanksgiving, we gathered with more relatives to celebrate and eat more turkey. Grandpa Don and Dorothy had a lovely spread at their house, and the grandchildren all played "Trouble" with cousin Elijah. There was also fiddle music and jingle bells.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hockey Championship Trophy

The twins and their team brought home another championship trophy this weekend--from Owatonna. Those Minnesota players said they were afraid any team that would travel all the way from Kansas City must be really good. Their team is still ranked 15th in the nation. Each player received a commemorative puck, too. Can never have too many of those on the trophy shelf at home. (Nice change to wear their red jerseys for the final game photo.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New Referee Pants

Dorito got the chance to try-out his new referee pants, purchased with his 8th Grade Graduation money. They should last for many season, even if he grows to be as tall as Captain. He is so particular on the ice. It was fun to watch him ref Finne's little sister today! (Then he went to Youth Group just 3 blocks away at the Engel's.)

Jingle Bells on the Desktop

Beside our computer is my second most favorite ornament--a Peanuts hockey rink! Whenever I need a smile, I just wind it up. Lucy starts twirling, while Charlie Brown and Snoopy already have their sticks taped. Woodstock runs the Zamboni in circles to "Jingle Bells." The popular jazz piano piece written by Vince Guaraldi makes me feel like a kid again waiting for the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on TV.

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Christmas Quiz

You know about these emails... pass it along!
A Christmas Quiz
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? BOTH
2. Real tree or artificial? Real tree that we get at the last possible minute
3. When do you put up the tree? Dec. 23 or 24
4. When do you take the tree down? After Jan 6 (Epiphany) when the 3 Wise Men arrive
5. Do you like eggnog? I have to fight the kids to get any myself. Dale and I like to spike it with Fra Angelico (Hazelnut liqueur).
6. Favorite gift received as a child? Fancy new coat each year from my godmother.
7. Hardest person to buy for? The ones we mail overseas so they will be light-weight yet meaningful.
8. Easiest person to buy for? Megan, who likes girly things.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, it has wooden figurines handmade in Bethlehem which are only varnished (not painted) so little hands can touch them as much as they want.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail with photo, usually last possible minute
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Holly Hobby Doll when I was “too old.”
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Miracle at Moreaux (children during WWII)
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I keep an idea folder all year long; try to create homemade gifts.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? To another hockey player.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My mom’s Skillet Cookies and my Cranberry Cake.
16. Lights on the tree? Yes, and candle lights in each window.
17. Favorite Christmas song? "O Holy Night" played by my own “Fiddlers Three
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Travel, and Captain is usually travelling with us.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers? Yes, it's required for school teachers.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Pi Phi Angel.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve after Mass, then Santa's gifts on Christmas morning
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Anti-Christian holiday wishes
23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? Jane Austen mini book
24. What do you want for Christmas this year? Sarah Palin's book, and jobs for my unemployed friends
25. Who is most likely to respond? email friends

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Newest Suzuki Student

Edmund is a natural at the violin, and performed well at his first Suzuki concert this week. We can't get enough of the the Schiebers, so they came over for a soup supper afterwards.

Violin Concert and Gift Exchange

Don't you love to give the perfect gift?
Don't you love to get the perfect gift?
Tonight's Suzuki violin Christmas concert was lovely, and followed by a FUN gift exchange. Both teen-age girls liked the Starbucks gift-cards-on-a-keychain we gave them. And my boys loved the airsoft BBs they received! Large quart size... 3 of them for a total of 23,00. Should last through several wars. Ammo for Christmas?! of course.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Magazine Interview with Mavericks

Dorito finished his hockey article, and it finally appeared in the iTeen magazine!! We drove to Independence and got extra copies of the December issue. You can view it on page 10-11 at this link to see the photos on the ice and in the stands with his twin brothers and Bantam teammates.
Mavericks Move into Independence
by Reid Schmidling
I interviewed Andrew Davis, #27, on Thursday, after their first practice at the new rink. Davis has played hockey since he was four years old. He said his best hockey memory is of his dad coaching him during his younger years. I met his parents, Richard and Jane Davis, before the game. Jane’s father played for the Boston Bruins farm team before World War II.
Davis has played professional hockey for two years. The last team he played for was the Wichita Thunder.P rior to that, he played in East Germany and Norway. When he played in Germany, Davis said there were no seats in the stands, so everybody stood up and they could fit more spectators in. There was no music either. Davis said he liked it how the fans in Germany would just sing between periods and time-outs. Before that Davis played Juniors and also had a scholarship to play four years of college hockey in Canada. He tried out for the Missouri Mavericks team because he had played with Coach Hillman in
prior years.
The Mavericks practice for 2 hours every day, plus 1 hour of practice on game days. Besides practice, Davis said the players work-out at the gym, do yoga, and try to eat healthy food. The team is sponsored by Sherwood so players get all their sticks provided. Today, Davis broke two of his sticks during practice. They also get to pick out their skates, helmet, and other pads. The players do not tell their salary, and they are also paid for their room, cable TV, and meals when travelling.
I got to visit the locker room, where each player has a place to put their gear. They have one person who sharpens skates for the whole team. Davis showed us the bag where they carry all the sticks when they have to travel. The bag holds 200 sticks. There is also an iPod stereo system, flat screen TVs, and a dental chair in the locker room.
Davis said his worst memory was three years ago when he got a puck to the mouth, and all his bottom teeth were knocked out. He had them wired back in and said he could only have soup and not much food at all for six months.
Davis still dreams about playing in the NHL, and he likes when he can travel out of the country to play hockey. He hopes the Mavericks keep winning!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

French Final

Meggar's French grade is 89 percent so she has to take the final. There are two additional requirements: write a brochure in French for a student coming to college and have a French conversation with the professor. She went for her appointment today, but it was changed by the instructor! Rescheduled for Friday afternoon...

White Snow on Our Lady's Feast Day

Several inches of pure white snow fell overnight, a perfect greeting for Our Lady on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The main roads are clear, and Captain delivered us safely to the front doors. I was so pleased when Dorito and Meggar played "Ave Maria" after Communion. Then, we gathered with other homeschoolers for brunch and a co-op art class. Father and all four nuns were able to join us--to the delight of the children. And the children seem to behave better when the nuns are around, to the delight of their parents. Our art class featured 20 slides from the National Gallery of Art showing masterpieces of the Christmas story. At the conclusion, I asked each student to copy the Madonna and Child from "The Rest on the Flight to Egypt" by Gerard David in 1510.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Scouting is Challenging Everywhere

Tonight is the Boy Scout quarterly potluck but I didn't get any photos of Adam's Eagle Court of Honor, so I am blogging about the Boy Scout booth at NCYC last month. This was a delightful surprise to find in the midst of the ReignForest Theme Park! The Scouts had created a challenge game for teams of 4 teens. Within the 5-minute time limit,

you tried to hook objects and put them in the treasure basket using only ropes and cooperation. Dorito said later this would be a good activity for his Troop or a Camporee.
Austin is trying to see his next move.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NCYC Give-aways

I am finally getting to post a picture of the Swap Items we made to trade with other youth during NCYC last month. The Monster sticker is adhered to a film cannister (free from the photo labs) that is full of air-soft BBs. The boys agreed this would be every boy's dream freebie! The label we made says "You only have One Shot at Heaven!" which Wife coined. I am also quite proud of the Starbucks Coffee Sleeves we created. Other groups gave away hats, sunglasses, necklaces, and of course glow-in-the-dark yo-yos. We got 100 sleeves donated by our friend Brenda, who works at Starbucks! Meggar thought of the quote bubble which says: "Pray a Latte!" which everyone at the Conference loved. I brainstormed with Mrs. April to create the other clever phrases--"Espresso Your Faith!" and "Don't be a Half-Cath!" and "Heaven is a Tall Order!" Wish we could market this joint creativity!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Music

Two little helpers came and played the jingle bells during our Christmas Concert with "The Fiddlers Three" at the Andrew County Museum tonight. My boys don't know it yet, but I'm planning to have them play two songs at Mass tomorrow, too! It's my every-other-Sunday turn to play the organ, and they don't have any hockey games to interfere. It will be a first for their quartet to play at St. James Church, and I hope there will be many more occasions for liturgical music.

K-6 Chess Tournament

The twins had a Saturday without hockey-shocking-so they entered the Oakhill Chess Tourna- ment in Kansas City. We carpooled with Jonathan and Jackson, which was fun in itself. The St. Joseph Homeschool Team won the 1st place trophy! Individual medals included: Winger (6th place) and PolarBear (2nd place tie). PolarBear beat the boy who defeated Tommy earlier, and laughed off the offer of bribe money midway through their 5th round game. Good competition!

Friday, December 4, 2009

End of the Era for "Monk"

Our obsession with "Monk" will probably not taper off for a few years. The final episode of the final season was gratifying in its flashbacks and plot twists. The biggest surprise was that Disher was going to marry Sharonna. We don't really watch TV - so we went to the airport lounge to "use" their cable TV. In exchange for that privilege, the kids helped me decorate the Chief Pilot's office. It is our tradition to decorate when they are gone on a trip. "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

MVP earned his award

I forgot to mention that Ben won the MVP award in the semi-final game at the last tournament. He would have had a hat trick, except two shots hit the crossbar! His two goals helped put the team up by one point, which allowed them to advance to the Championship game. Hope this doesn't go to his head because Winger has been playing center on a different line and trying his hardest, too. It's not just the goals that count in our family.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Campus Visit

Meggar is flying to Dallas today for an interview with the French Department at U.D. She is hoping to be selected for a Special Award Scholarship. Please pray for her.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Duplicity quote

"I mean, who writes with a fountain pen anymore?!" says the CEO in Duplicity while reading a handwritten memo from a rival company. For myself, I have always loved fountain pens! My eighth grade English teacher used one so elegantly. My parents gave me a Waterman for college graduation, and I still use it. Maybe even for signing the Christmas letter this year...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Championship Hockey

The twins' team brought home another Championship trophy this weekend from the Mankato Meltdown. Captain said they had to battle hard to win their final two games! I hear they are eating ice cream out of the trophy cup after practice tomorrow. Aunt Mary and Cousin Pam came to the championship game. Dorito's team won on Sunday morning, too. The wins help make it a more pleasant drive home.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Waterpark and New Moon Fans

I took the four teenage cousins to the Waterpark at our hotel--very fun. Then we stayed up watching the Final Episode of "Monk" on TV. It is really a two-part episode so we'll have to find a cable TV next Friday to see the conclusion of these 8 years of our favorite show. Do we have enough "Monk" quotes? Can you ever ever have enough "Monk" quotes? It's a blessing and a curse. Speaking of curses, the "New Moon" fans wanted me to find a Burger King in downtown Minneapolis. Took a bit of work, but we have the fan pack to prove it! Character cards, commemorative cup, and a Team Jacob/Team Edward crown. P.S. Dorito's team won one and lost one (in overtime!) today.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Penny Log

I found two pennies today en route to the hockey tournaments. I'm also lucky that Uncle Tony and Aunt Mary are letting me borrow their mini-van for Dorito's games--now I have room to take cousins Ethan and Alyssa along! The twins and Captain are going to play hockey in Mankato, which is two hours away.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This center piece turkey was created by Polar Bear and Winger for our hosts in Minnesota. It contains the dry ingredients and recipe for making a turkey casserole with your left-overs, so it's a perfect gift! The twins revived it from Meggar's TV cookbook for the "Boys Can Cook" class this fall, where everyone devoured the dish.
Gobbly Good Turkey Casserole
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 pkg. onion soup mix
1 c. rice
1 1/2 c. milk
2-3 c. left-over turkey, chopped
Combine all ingredients in casserole dish. Bake, covered, at 350' F for 45 minutes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Travel Literature

We are travelling today to the Minneapolis area for Thanksgiving with Dale's cousins and godparents. Despite the rain, our trip is off to a good start. We are reading "Treasure Island" aloud for the boys' sake, not because it is connected to the Pilgrims, but just because it is a classic we haven't gotten to yet. Also, Meggar and I are in the middle of "A Tale of Two Cities," which is also not related to the Pilgrims but an equally beloved classic. And Captain has started Sully's book about being a pilot and the days that change your life forever. I love the way good literature feeds the soul. I am mindful how blessed we are for the freedom to homeschool and to spend these years with our children about us. "I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder." -G.K. Chesterton.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NCYC - National Catholic Youth Conference

Meggar, Dorito and I went to the Sprint Center today for the opening of NCYC joining 22,000 other teens for the National Catholic Youth Conference! Our homeschool group was evenly balanced with 3 chatty girls and 3 quiet boys. :-) Our first stop was the Theme Park, called the "Reign Forest" because this weekend is the Feast of Christ the King. The middle floor of Bartle Hall was full of Catholic vendors, T-Shirts, music, colleges, Guitar Heroes, inflatable obstacle courses, and a sports center created by Benedictine College with a mini-soccer field, 3 basketball courts, and frisbee games. Hannah D. met the "Moos Brothers" and everyone was trading hats, pins, and cool give-aways (mostly cow themed). Everyone loved the glow-in-the-dark yo-yos. Actually Dorito had more than his share of free yo-yos from the Salesians. Fun tricks on the dinner breaks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Last Book Club of the Year

I almost forgot to post about my Tuesday night Book Club for November. Such a nice group of friends - and they all bring great treats. YUM! I savored Angela's blackberry cobbler and the Coconut Chai Tea Connie brought. We discussed "The Thirteenth Tale" which was a Gothic novel full of lonely people. It sort of takes a line from "Jane Eyre" and spins a story of twins orphaned on a large estate in England. Made me appreciate the people I am closest to--especially as Thanksgiving draws near.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Old Man Slippers

Somedays I think I live with four old men... they come down to breakfast in their robe and slippers. "Slippers just make you feel so cozy," Polar Bear said. Dorito and Captain bought new slippers last week--out-grown for one, and worn-out for the other. Seems to make everyone happier.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stars Playing Super

Polar Bear and Winger faced some stiff competition in St. Louis today. They played the AAA St. Louis Blues team, who are ranked #2 in the country. We lost, but their team said it was close enough they invited us back in January. One of their players is the son of Keith Tkachuk, who visited our team's locker room with some encouraging words! The rink was a practice facility for the NHL Blues team (see the cool blue ceiling rafters?).

Penny Log

I found a penny in the Mavericks parking lot. And a nickel when I went to buy the Sunday paper.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Music for the Christmas Shoppers

"The Fiddlers Three" provided holiday music for the Christmas shoppers yesterday at the Sugar Plum Gift Mart. Meggar was accompanying the homeschool choir at two nursing homes during the show, so Wife filled in at the keyboard. I was very proud of the boys to handle two continuous hours of playing.

Shopping Chics

Meggar and Hannah had fun dressing up for the Sugar Plum Holiday Mart at the Art Museum. Meggar received a dozen compliments on Gr. Judy's 1963 vintage dress. Her happiness jar was full. We bought a few treasures from "Just Claudia" and the "Rusty Chandelier" during our girls weekend: Dorito was on a Scout campout and the twins were playing hockey in St. Louis.

Mavericks Hockey Moves to Town

Last night, we attended the first home game of KC's new professional hockey team. The Mavericks won--after overtime and a shoot-out! Very Exciting! The twins had free tickets and Dorito sat with his Saints team to watch #27 Andrew Davis, whom he interview last Thursday for the iTeen KC magazine. His article will appear in the December issue. The twins were thrilled to peek in the locker room, see all the Sherwood sticks, and to get autographs on their Mavericks summer hockey team jerseys. Polar Bear met #16 (Bill Vandermeer) outside the locker room. Bill was the player who scored the shoot-out goal! Yea!