Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

We rented the local ice rink from 10 - midnight and skated in the New Year with some hockey friends.  Good competition, good food, and good spirits!  Dorito was happy to play on Alexander's team again.  The twins and Lucas gave the dads a real workout during the half-ice game.  The wives were happy no one got hurt.
Later, Dorito and Alexander set up a Sydney-Crosby-style shooting contest for accuracy.  Everyone knocked the helmet off the board!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gingerbread Houses

Meggar was babysitting today, and we pooled our resources this afternoon to let all her boys and mine make gingerbread houses.  This tradition goes back to 1996 in Salina when the homeschoolers sponsored a workshop -- providing milk cartons and homemade gingerbread pieces!  We mainly use graham crackers and leftover Halloween candies, and I try to remember to save milk cartons (which is rough since we homeschool).  There's also pretzels, candy canes, vanilla wafers, and chocolate chips to make house parts.  Royal icing is quite sticky and snowy-looking. I saw Davis licking his fingers most of the time.  It took our minds off K-State's loss in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate Cheerios until Epiphany

The twins received a case of Chocolate Cheerios for Christmas from their cousins.  Captain says 12 boxes should last 12 months.  I give it 12 days.  Hey, that fits with the 12 days of Christmas!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas at Grandma's is Christmas to Me

We celebrated last weekend with the Schmidling family and this mid-week with the Leonard family.  Uncle Clint and Kathryn flew in and brought a 7-week sonogram picture!  Hooray for a firstborn!  (I'll bet he's a boy.) We played Imagineff, Crainium, and Pictionary (loudly). Then the gifts were exchanged. 
My boys embroidered these hankies with initials for their aunts & godmothers.

The twins made aprons for their cousins Hannah and Rebecca, and I added my latest "Kids Can Cook" cookbook with "100 Things You Can Make On Your Own... besides Cereal!"

We also visited Aunt Lois in the care home and took her a crafty Christmas tree.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Grandpa's Birthday

My dad's birthday is often overlooked because it's squeezed in between Christmas and New Year's.  Praying for many healthy years!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing Day

It is the Feast of St. Stephen, first martyr of the Church, and those of us who have visited England will recall that it is also called Boxing Day, when the leftover food and clothing is boxed up for the poor.  There are many explanations about the origin of Boxing Day but I like the reference in the Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslas".  Wenceslas was the Duke of Bohemia in the early 10th century, and he was out surveying his land on St. Stephen's Day, when he saw a poor man gathering wood. Moved with compassion, the King gathered up surplus food and wine and carried them through the blizzard to the peasant's door. In the United Kingdom, it is a custom to give "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the day after Christmas as thank you gifts for good service received throughout the year. In addition, churches open their alms boxes on St. Stephen's Day and distribute the contents to the poor.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Blessings!

We had lovely music at Christmas morning mass-- harmony parts with Dorito and Polar Bear on violin!
Winger said he would prefer to be a server, which helps Father Totton also. 
We came home to open presents and feast on egg-nog waffles, fruit, and cafe au lait.  We're planning to stay snuggled in the hearth room the whole day.

Merry Christmas!

Christus natus est nobis!
(Christ is born for us!)
Translated from the Latin invitatory antiphon for the Office of Matins

Friday, December 24, 2010

Playing Together

Christmas Eve and the Schmid family is all together. First, the twins played a 60-second-shift scrimmage at Jonah's ice hockey party.  And, Reid and I
played Christmas music in the bank lobby.  Later, the whole family played "Banana Grams" before and after Christmas Eve dinner.  Nice game from the Lierz family (godparents).

Gift of Creativity

Meggar put together this gift for Hannah M. to reflect her stylish side.  So creative...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Getting a Tree

Meggar has been home since Friday, but she has been babysitting every evening and working/filing at a law office every day.  She finished early this afternoon (!) so we went to get our Christmas tree. 
The boys are happy. Before...
and After...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Presents

"I want to give Christmas presents, but I don't want to go shopping."  spoken by my 15-year-old boy.  :-) He's a chip off the old block.  Meanwhile, the twins are quickly finishing up some homemade gifts!  I don't want to post the photos because it will spoil the surprise for aunts, godmothers, and cousins.

Monday, December 20, 2010

MRI with a Movie

Much easier to endure this 45 minutes because of the goggles-with-a-movie-screen. Great invention!  Dorito was also glad to be finished in time to get to Boy Scouts.  Tonight was set aside for delivery of presents to their adopted families and their own gift exchange.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Youth Group Bingo

Our last youth group meeting before Christmas was a party with pizza and Bingo.  I've never seen such intensity--but then again, Mrs. Fischer did bring awesome prizes such as iTunes cards, gift cards to Subway, cologne, and candy!  and I brought a balloon-stomp game for the gym!  I will miss everyone the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Snowboards on the Loose

Snow Creek was finally open today after mild weather in November slowed down the creation of their slopes.  My three boys wanted to try their new goggles, new helmets, and practically-new snowboards (only used once last year) with friend Lucas.  See where their referee money goes?  Many hours later, my Christmas cards were all addressed, and they were finally tired.  I'm glad!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gift Exchange with Hockey Players

Dorito went back for half of a hockey practice.  He was so excited and happy to see his pals.  They did lots of skating and shooting drills, then he sat out for the scrimmage.  Still watching his headaches, which come and go with varying intensity depending on how much sleep he gets.  At the end of practice, the team held a "White Elephant" type exchange.  They gave Igor a head of lettuce for complaining about the condiments at fast-food restaurants.  They gave Dorito a pink helmet with Barbie stickers to help "prevent" future concussions?!  Inside jokes make for good team spirit!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Jane Austen's Birthday is Today

In honor of the British authoress, I am posting the best recipe from a recent party with the Jane Austen Society of North America.  A proper afternoon tea was laid out by Terry and Lindy in their condo overlooking the Nelson Art Gallery.  We had a delicious view, a full cup of literary comments, and several servings of sociableness.
Apricot Bars
Cover: 1 c. dried apricots with water. Cook 10 min. Drain and chop into small pieces.
1 c. sifted all purpose flour
1/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. uncooked oats
Cut in: 1/2 c. butter
Press into a greased 9 x 9 x 2-inch pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.
Beat: 2 eggs
Add: 1 c. brown sugar
Blend in: 1 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. almond flavoring
1 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (don't use pecans; can stir into mixture or wait and sprinkle on top at the last)
Add: apricots from above.
Spread over crust; sprinkle with nuts (see note).
Bake at 350' F about 35 minutes.
Run a table knife around the perimeter of the pan; let it sit about 20 minutes before cutting. Freezes well.
(From a Christmas cookbook by Wisconsin Power/Light and Gas Company in 1957)

12/21 Update:  I heard that Google did a special doodle for Jane:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe, too

Last Sunday's youth group was an easy one to prepare.  It was the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe so we had authentic Mexican food!  I'm happy to report that Grandma Palma said although their family's restaurant is closed, they are now selling salsa and entrees at HyVee!  After supper, I talked about the miracle of Dec. 12, the tilma cloth, and Mary's appearance to a peasant man named Juan Diego.  I already knew about the true optics of her eyes, but this year I learned that a doctor's stethoscope revealed a baby's heartbeat when placed on the Virgin's womb.  And, the temperature of the tilma remains at 98.6' F even 500 years or so after the miracle.  Truly God wants to be with us!  O Come, Emmanuel.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Celebrating Saint Lucia

This used to be Meggar's job, and she would dress up as St. Lucia and wear the crown of electric candles early in the morning.  This year, I was the one bearing breakfast buns and cocoa to the bedrooms.  Our crown only has one bulb left, but the boys seemed to still enjoy the tradition.  (They would--because they love baked goods and Tim Horton's hot chocolate.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hockey Champs in Record Cold Climate

The snowfall in Minnesota this weekend set a record--21 inches.  I guess it was cold enough to bring out the polar bears!!  (Now you know how Polar Bear got his nickname.)  The Schmid twins were there to play hockey, and they narrowly won each of the three games to bring home another championship trophy.  First game, won in overtime!  Second game, won by one point!  Even the championship was close until the end!  It raises Captain's blood pressure, but he thrives on the excitement, too.  Still ranked #24 in the country. Good job, boys.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Traditions of a Homeschool Family

In case you've never seen a meteor shower, tomorrow night is a good chance to view the Geminids.  I was more faithful to do this with Meggar and Dorito, but need determination to provide my twins with this middle-of-the-night tradition.  Or I need to go to bed earlier (which is impossible with late-night hockey practices).  I think the namesake of this meteor shower should prove an added motivator!
from Skywatching
The Geminids get their name from the constellation of Gemini, the Twins, where the display of so-called "shooting stars" appears to originate from the night sky. During the overnight hours of Dec. 13 and Dec. 14, the shower will peak for north America.  The Geminid meteors are—for those willing to brave the chill of a December night—a fine winter shower, and usually the most satisfying of all the annual showers. They can even surpass the famous Perseid meteors of August at their peak. Studies of past displays show that this shower has a reputation for being rich in slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs as well as faint meteors, with relatively fewer objects of medium brightness. Many appear yellowish in hue. Some even seem to form jagged or divided paths. The Geminids usually perform splendidly every year, although the moon is going to pose a bit of a problem this time. In fact, the moon will reach first quarter phase on Dec. 13, the same night as the Geminid peak. That means that many of the fainter Geminid streaks will likely be washed out by the bright moonlight.  But unlike the Leonids, where the moon was brightly illuminating the sky most of the night, in the case of the Geminids the moon will be setting around 12:30 a.m. (your local time) early on Tuesday, Dec. 14. That means that the sky will be dark and moonless for the balance of the night, making for perfect viewing conditions for the shower.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Artwork in Advent

I love art myself, and one of the best aspects of homeschooling is the chance to incorporate more "real" art into the lives of my children.  Such as... here are watercolor pumpkins from Halloween (copied from Ana's blog).  We did calligraphy back with Benjamin Franklin's visit...
Then in November, we went with homeschoolers to the KC Nelson Art Gallery at the conclusion of our ancient Egypt unit to see their new mummy Meretitis.  Her outer coffin, inner coffin, mask, and ushebti from 300 B.C. are so elaborately built and colorfully decorated with precise symbols.  Plus, they used a CT scan of nearby mummy to create a facial composite of what he really looked like!  (Dorito was happy to see another good use of CT scans.) 
Meggar went to the Nelson on her fall break to see the Clare Twomey exhibit of teacups

Lastly, we are creating  Jesse Tree Booklets for Advent, and each page features a daily drawing of a person in salvation history.  The extra practice in freehand drawing while I read the Bible passage is meeting with surprising success, especially for BOYS.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sighted in a Small City

You know you live in a red-neck town when the man in front of you has used white out to modify the lettering on his truck.  The tailgate logo "DODGE" now reads "DUDE," and I assume he was proud of his handiwork. Spotted on the way to early mass.  Goes right along with what I think of this place we've lived in for 14 years.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Specialist Especially for Dorito

The spine specialist at Children's Mercy shares his department with a neurologist and a sports medicine doctor, so we were encouraged after meeting with their team this afternoon.  They said Dorito's neck and spine are not the worst they've seen, nor is he done with hockey for the rest of his life.  They found more abnormalities/injuries in his neck than previously detected, and they want to do more tests. They want to change his Physical Therapy routine a bit, too.  But this is an encouraging path now, with progress as the goal.

Feast of Our Lady of Loreto

Tomorrow is another favorite feast for the Schmid family because Our Lady of Loreto is the patron saint of aviators.  The shrine of Loreto contains the house where the Annunciation took place.  Then, in the year A.D. 1300, the house was miraculously transported by angels to Italy to save it from desecration.  The Litany of Loreto was first promoted from this shrine and sounds so melodic and can put you in a state of fugue:
V. Lord, have mercy.

R. Christ have mercy.
V. Lord have mercy. Christ hear us.
R. Christ graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of heaven, R. have mercy on us.
V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world, R. have mercy on us.
V. God the Holy Spirit, R. have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, R. have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, R. pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, [etc.]
Holy Virgin of Virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good Counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Health of the sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of peace, pray for us.
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Spare us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Graciously hear us, O Lord.
V. Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
V. Let us pray. Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord God, that we thy servants may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body, and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary, ever Virgin, may we be freed from present sorrow, and rejoice in eternal happiness. Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rock - Paper - Scissors & Mind-Reading

Somehow, the twins started using "Rock-Paper-Scissors" about age 8 to settle important disputes such as who gets to wear the new clothes v. the hand-me-down pair from Reid, or who can be the goalie first for street hockey, or who has to carry the violin music to lessons.  I'm amazed that they don't have identical answers (!) to the game.  Polar Bear claims that Winger predominantly chooses Scissors.  Hmm...  Does he win with that strategy?  Certainly in hockey, they have a keen sense of where the other one is going to be and the passes work miraculously.  Everyone calls it Twin Telepathy.  I chuckle to myself and wonder:  Do they have the same dreams at night? similar strategies in chess? mathematics?  I also had a laugh at Boy Scout dinner last night when Eli Brown told about playing "Rock-Paper-Scissors" with his sister, and he got frustrated as she continued to choose Scissors every time: "When I was Rock, I would always win, and when I tried Scissors, we would tie!  My mom told me to give up, but then Annie chose Paper and tricked me!"  He is so logical :-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Sorority Girl in Me

Getting your sorority letters is a big deal.  And so is the Winter Formal.  Meggar helped decorate last weekend, and said she had fun at the dance with Andrew F. on her double-date with Erin and Mr. Self.  No photos of them--but--here's a good photo of new AGDs on Initiation Day back in November!  I guess I never posted the pictures because that was the night Dorito went to the E.R.  Early that morning, I rode over to Kirksville for the Roses Luncheon with Patty (from my own pledge class of Pi Beta Phi in 1986).  We had so much fun trying to remember all the girls and secrets from college. Today, the AGD pledges wore white for their ceremony, and recited their purpose before our meal.
To gain understanding that wisdom may be vouchsafed to me.
To develop and prize health and vigor of body.
To cultivate acquaintance with many whom I meet.
To cherish friendships with but a chosen few and to study the perfecting of those friendships.
To welcome the opportunity of contributing to the world's work in the community where I am placed because of the joy of service thereby bestowed and the talent of leadership multiplied.
To honor my home, my country, my religious faith.
To hold truth inviolable, sincerity essential, kindness invaluable.
To covet beauty in environment, manner, word, and thought.
To possess high ideals and to attain somewhat unto them.
This shall be my purpose that those who know me may esteem Alpha Gamma Delta for her attainments, revere her for her purposes, and love her for her Womanhood.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Blessing of the Candy Canes

I was reminded that I have this blessing in a prayer book on my own shelf:  St. Nicholas Day Blessing of Candy Canes

Good St. Nicholas, we honor you
on this your holy feast day.
We rejoice that you are the patron saint
and the holy symbol of joy
for many peoples of many lands.

Come, great-hearted saint,
and be our patron and companion
as we, once again, prepare our homes and hearts
for the great feast of Christmas,
the birth of the Eternal Blessing, Jesus Christ.

May these sweets, these candy canes,
be a sign of Advent joy for us.
May these candy canes,
shaped just like your Bishop's staff,
be for us a sign of your benevolent care.

We rejoice that you are the holy bringer of gifts
and that so many have been delighted
through your great generosity.
Help us to be as generous of heart.

Wherever these candy canes are hung,
on tree or wall or door,
may they carry with them
the bright blessing of God.
May all who shall taste them
experience the joy of God
upon their tongues and in their hearts.

We ask God, now, to bless
these your brightly striped sweets
in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
From Prayers for the Domestic Church: A Handbook for Worship in the Home by Edward Hays, copyright © 1989 (revised) Forest of Peace Publishing. Used by permission.

St. Nicholas' Day

There were treats found in slippers or shoes that were discovered anywhere near the vicinity of the foot of the bed in each child's room.  Guess mine are too grown up to put their shoes by the door on the eve of St. Nicholas Day.  (I also wish they would put their shoes by the door every time they go in and out to keep the carpets cleaner, but I'm not wasting any more breath on that request.)  All three boys were delighted that the generous Saint had remembered them and they kissed their Mother.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Youth Group Having Fun

My EDGE youth group for junior high has been meeting weekly and having fun.  Here's pictures from the past three weeks as an update. We had a great response to the Golden Spatula Contests.  The girls' dessert winner was Sarah Aberer with Oreo Truffle Balls.  Then the boys' contest was won by cousins Wade and Isaac, who brought Snickers Ice Cream Pie.  This got us in the mood for Thanksgiving's feast.  For Advent, we made a 4-flap wreath, where each student can log their good deeds.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fiddlers Three Welcome Santa

The Fiddlers Three woke up early for "Breakfast with Santa" and the Platte Valley Bank.  Over 250 people lined up for pancakes and a turn to sit on Santa's lap!  That long line required lots of background Christmas music.  But it was worth it for the breakfast we ate at the end, and the smiles on families' faces. We even had a few little guys stop and play the jingle bells with us to join in.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Choir Concert at Truman State

Here's the picture of Meggar's performance (from Nov. 13) with the Truman State Concert Choir.  She is right behind the piano--2nd from the right, front row, in black pants.  It was great that Dorito could attend, and I listened via cell phone.  Impressive!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More News From K-State

Some days, you get good news and some days, it's bad news.  Yesterday, I considered it a poor choice when the K-State Landon Lecture was awarded to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  Yes, she was governor of Kansas--which must be a more valuable resume-builder than governor of Alaska for some reason?!?  But she wasn't even from Kansas, and she graduated from KU.  (sheesh!)  There have been important Republicans also invited to speak, and I was proud to cover a couple of them for the K-State Collegian in my day.  Yesterday's topic was healthcare reform, and I just don't agree with her approach.  We've always paid our premiums, and I know it supports more than my own family.  A recent statistic shows that Medicaid pays for nearly 60 percent of all births here locally.  Families in NW Missouri are poorer than some and live babies are better than abortion, but unfortunately my tax dollars are also paying for those as well as every rash, hiccup, and runny nose.  When people begin to accept responsibility and hard work on behalf of their own families, then our healthcare system will offer care in proportion to profits.  I guess I've seen more than my share of health care in the past month.  I cannot help but wonder (as I sat for 4 hours in the E.R. and another 3 hours in the waiting room of the neurologist) how ObamaCare would improve the quality of service for my insurance dollar when the government is already bloated with no-payers.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homeschooler at K-State

He's mature, mannerly, and poised beyond his peers. He's a football player as well as a musician and a dedicated student. (Hmmm, sounds familiar...)  The Wichita Eagle ran a front page profile two weeks ago about Collin Klein, the sophomore quarterback called up when the starting senior was injured.  The reporter said Klein has good posture, a firm handshake, and makes eye contact with adults.  As Alison would say, "We learned all that before First Communion." ;-)  Yes, Klein was homeschooled!  Of course, we were thrilled with the publicity and his recent success.  Not that homeschoolers are perfect, but having a K-State quarterback with those credentials definitely moves us up in the eyes of our relatives.  I could empathize when it was reported that his high school transcript was not appealing to some recruiters because he lacked a class rank.  But K-State liked his 4.0 GPA and Coach Snyder offered him a scholarship.  It proved to be a good investment as No. 7 broke the school rushing record with 268 yards in back-to-back games.  It also proved to be a good "current events" assignment for my sons, who are homeschooled.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

First Snow Flurries

The kids woke up to snow flurries!  This is fun to see -especially as we just bought passes to Snow Creek for the season (tentatively opens on Dec. 11).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Physical Therapy starts

Dorito had his first physical therapy session (finally) and stayed off the pain medication today completely.  He is not free of pain, but we could tell the doctor more specifically about his condition this way.  One doctor thinks he will get better, and the other is very skeptical about long-term problems.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Penny Log

I found a nickel in the lobby of the gas station.  Meggar is trying to collect all the quarters she can find in my purse and the cup holders of the car to take back for her laundry. :-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Losing Teeth on Vacation

As is usually the case, some Schmidling child lost a tooth on vacation.  This time it was Winger, and it was twice in one day!  He came out of the locker room this morning before the game to give one to Captain, and then again right before supper he lost another one.  Last week, he lost one in the middle of hockey practice so he spit it out on the bench and went back for the next drill.  I think he is caught up with his twin brother now.

A Book Like Jane Eyre

I didn't report on the past two monthly book clubs: in October we read "Frankenstein" which was not what I expected.  It is a lonely tale about Dr. Frankenstein and his horrible guilt over the consequences of his "creation."   For me, it held a similar moral to the modern-day story of embryonic stem cell research and frozen embryos.  Scientists who want to "play God" are letting pride blind them to the limits of their knowledge and the long-term social impact.  In November, we read "Wide Sargasso Sea" which is a retake on Jane Eyre from the point of view of the mad-woman/wife from Jamaica whom Rochester kept in the attic.  She has a sad tale of her own which only deepened my appreciation of the Bronte novel and the minor characters in other good literature.  All of us in book club will gather in December to nominate selections for the 11 months in 2011.  With no assigned reading this month, I happily finished "Longitude" by Dava Sobel.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wild About Hockey

Dorito was invited to use the extra ticket and went with Cousin Charlie and Kara to the Minnesota Wild game.  Here's a picture of him in the stands, and he said their NHL team was better to watch in person than he expected. 
The rest of us ate lunch with the Stars hockey team and cheered as they started their tournament with a win over Sioux Falls (minus their friend Zaccheus, who has a knee injury).  Hard to get used to the cold wind and icy streets here when it's been so mild at home this fall.  Meggar is back to doing her homework after a lengthy book-on-tape during the car ride.  And I am making Christmas lists while listening to Captain's cell phone negotiations over the new jet.  It's a multi-tasking weekend between hockey games.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


We ate at Cousin Pam's house with: Bob (whose brother Mark and sister Michelle also joined us), Ethan (taller and tougher), Alyssa (sweeter and talkative), Aunt Mary (cooking but worried about Uncle Tony, who is still in the hospital with complications from his pancreatic cancer treatments), as well as Cousin Charlie, new wife Kara, and 3-month-old Sophia.  What a beauty!  Everyone wanted to hold her and make funny baby noises in her face. Captain had the best luck rocking her to sleep.  The twins were especially happy to see the snow and went out in the late afternoon to play in it.  The teen girls and moms headed for a movie, while the "old guys" watched football on TV.  Just the way a Thanksgiving should be.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Read Alouds Along the Way

Driving 8 hours to Minnesota today.  "Pocahantas" was our first read aloud to help fill the time.  And a re-watching of "The Blind Side" movie.  Such a hilarious Thanksgiving Table scene in the middle of that movie and a reminder of how many abundant blessings we have in our lives.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fiddlers Three Plays at Cathedral

The half-day at "regluar" school proved an excellent time for scheduling a Fiddlers Three show.  My kids' quartet played pioneer songs and told Pony Express stories for the students at Cathedral grade school.  The kids especially enjoyed the bull whip demo and playing shakers along with "Red-Haired Boy."  An hour really can go by quickly, and I was happy to celebrate afterwards at Panera over bagels and hot cocoa.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

KCYC for Teens

(It was fun for me, too!)  I took the homeschool teens to the Kansas City Catholic Youth Conference this weekend.  Great speakers, comedians, musicians, and youn gpeople on-fire for their Catholic faith.  Little sleep, but plenty of good Catechism and teen testimonies.  On top of that, they worked together on a service project for the homeless, knelt for an hour of Adoration on the cement floor, and were eager to go to Confession and talk to religious orders.  Dorito was happy to attend with Michael, Malcolm, Austin, Brian, Faith, and Alison.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Getting an MRI or Two

The neurologist ordered an MRI of Dorito's head (which luckly came back "clear") and his low back (not as good of news there).  he has swollen discs, and he will need to start physical therapy before they do more follow up. We are learning a great deal about concussions and their long-term healing.  Dorito tried to read his favorite book from the library, but it only worsened his headache. Happily, he has gained 4 pounds in the past week and a half from eating so well and relaxing!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

MythBusters with Meggar

Tonight, Meggar took Dorito back to college for a show with Grant from MythBusters!  This is Dorito's absolute favorite show on TV!  Dorito said the power-point presentation was interesting and funny.  He was in heaven.  He is staying overnight in the dorms to attend church and Meggar's Fall Choir Concert.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cheering Up Dorito

Meggar came home to spend time with Dorito.  After dinner, I took them with me to hear Condoleezza Rice speak and receive an autographed copy of her new memoir "Extraordinary, Ordinary People."  She was brilliant and dignified.  Her stories of living in Birmingham during the 60s and working for the president were thoughtful.  Her dedication to piano was also impressive.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Watching and Waiting

Dorito is not supposed to do school work or heavy concentrating while his headaches continue. The CT scan came back normal, and we were relieved about that.  But he was feeling much worse on this 5th day and has numbness in both legs.  Meanwhile, we are making all his favorite foods and trying to cheer him up.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dorito Gets Injured

Dorito suffered a concussion in his first home game with the Jr. Outlaws JV team.  I didn't even realize it at the time.  He gave a normal body check put another player against the boards, but neither one fell down. Later, we learned the other boy put up his glove which forced Dorito's head back (like whiplash?).  As the second period was played, Dorito said he was developing a burning headache. He didn’t play at all in the third period because he was getting dizzy. The trainer recommended we go to the ER, and the doctor there verified a Level 2 concussion (at 2 a.m.) so we are supposed to watch him carefully the first week for signs of vomitting or worse pain.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Taking Aunt Sherry for a Ride

Aunt Sherry has been giving Dorito a ride to hockey every Tuesday while I finish up the girls' cooking class.  But this time, he gave her a ride--in the 182!  The wonderful weather and Captain's early out from work combined to create a window of opportunity for another flying lesson for our oldest son.  He was excited, she was excited, and nobody got scared.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ask and You Shall Compare

I get a weekly email from "The Old Homeschool" magazine, which I definitely enjoy because it only takes a few minutes to read it.  My favorite columnist is Todd Wilson, The Familyman, and here's his advice today:
"My advice on comparing is: Don't do it . . . ever! Don't compare yourself with your friends, the people you read about in homeschooling magazines and blogs, homeschool celebrities, or "real schools."
You see, what ends up happening is that you compare your weaknesses against others' strengths, and you can't win that game. So don't do it. You have plenty of gifts and strengths of your own, but you can't have every gift or strength.
Some like crafts; some don't. Some are organized; some aren't. Some did undergraduate work at MIT; some barely made it through high school. Instead of lamenting the fact that you're not what some are, thank God for your strengths and capitalize on them.
Now, as for comparing your homeschool to a "REAL" school: Why would you compare yourself with something that doesn't work? In fact, you know what? Public schools compare themselves to us. They know that one-on-one teaching is more effective and that real-life learning is more successful. They sit around in committees and try to make their school environment more like home. They have students plant gardens, hike through the woods, learn to cook, build stuff, and learn to relate to others. That's what you do every day . . . and it's working.
So stop comparing yourself to them or anyone else. Ask God what He wants your school-I mean home-to look like and then do it.
Now if only I can get my wife to stop comparing.
Be Real!
(Originally published in the February 27, 2008 issue of The Homeschool Minute.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

First Goal for High School JV

Dorito scored his first goal for the JV hockey team this weekend!  In their 5th game of the season, he banged one in from the corner slot.  He spent the weekend in Des Moines with Captain because, "It is Dad's turn to go with me!"

Cooking Class Makes Halloween Treats

I found these cute recipes for Halloween, and the cooking classes today enjoyed making: Pumpkin Pie Seeds, Caramel Corn in gloves, Monster Eye Meatballs, Ghastly Grinning Teeth (apples with fruit dip),

and these cookies:
Witch's Broomsticks
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
2 T. water
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
Pinch of salt
2" Pretzel sticks (short rod size)
1. Beat together butter, brown sugar, water, and vanilla with mixer on medium speed.
2. Add flour and salt and stir to mix well.
3. Shape balls of dough into small rectangles, and press into end of 2" pretzel stick (short rod size).
4. Flatten and lengthen dough slightly with fingers, then press with a fork to create broom bristles.
5. Bake on greased cookie sheet at 350’ F for 5-7 minutes; cool on wire rack.
*Tip: Removing from pan carefully, you don't want to separate broom from handle
Drizzle chocolate along top of broom cookie or decorate with frosting and sprinkles!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hockey Champs this Weekend

Between scorekeeping for the hockey tournament, Meggar and I made a dash to the Vera Bradley store for a wristlet. This is the only store in a 6-state area, and it's one of only 37 stores in the US. ~Score~ How fun to look around inside!  Meggar decided to wait on a laptop skin until Christmas or a coupon (whichever comes first).

The weekend ended with the twins winning their Championship, Meggar was paid in cash, hugs all around, and her driving off on I-35 into the sunset :-/   (Note: Winger and Polar Bear are lying on their elbow on each side of the goalie.)

Dress Up Parties at the Sorority

One of their parties was "ABC=Anything But Clothes" meaning you had to make something to wear with foil, duct tape, food, etc. Sam used a trash bag and tissue paper flowers; some dresses featured Pop Ice or Fruit Roll-ups; and Meggar used rubberized shelf liner for a trio of colorful, wrap-dresses!  She designed them using needle-and-thread, safety pins, and self-tie strap. Cool!  Everyone thought Meggar was the handy-homeschooler-who-knows-how-to-sew!  I don't think a gathered bodice is equivalent to sewing but our crafty home ec projects did give her some ideas.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

More on Meggar's Fall Break

Several friends stopped by for Meggar's tea party on Friday afternoon.  My boys liked getting an "early out" from school.  We all feasted on chicken salad, curried butternut squash soup, and cookies with tea.  Becca and Timothy joined in the joking about professors who lose papers, and students who can't guess you were homeschooled.  Constance said she was happy to hear Meggar's regular defense of her political views in the cafeteria.
And we looked at college photos on Face book.  Meggar loves her new friends in Alpha Gamma Delta.  They do lots of activities: mixers, study sessions, lip sync for Homecoming, and recently a "sweet grams" philanthropy project.  Here she is posing with  her Bid Day Buddy-- Samantha--who likes to say she is 5'12."
This is her Pledge Mom--April--who is from St. Louis.  She was the Rush Counselor that everyone admired.  She is helping Meggar with her AGD pearls and scrapbook which are due next week before Initiation.

Meggar's Here for the Weekend

For her fall break: Meggar had her heart set on a trip to the apple orchard and a tea party.  We did both, plus a little shopping and hockey.  Here's the report:  Thursday was bright and sunny at Schweitzer's Orchard.  She took the 5 Riordan children whom she was babysitting, and I took my little ones--who are now 12!  It's a bit unbelievable that I have been doing this for longer than a dozen years. 

It must have made quite an impression on Meggar since she had this strong memory which she wanted to share with her favorite charges.  Also Polar Bear invited his young violin student, which was very considerate I thought.  We sampled the red and golden delicious apples and talked about Johnny Appleseed along the way.  Then we walked up the hill to the hay maze and pumpkin patch.  Playing hide-and-seek is more fun with tall hay and a 3-year-old who likes counting!

Next day, Meggar was my babysitter and took the boys to hockey.  Dorito helped her keep score for the twin's tournament.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All Three in Stripes

The twins passed their Level 1 ref exam, and Dorito passed Level 2.  These are big accomplishments in the life of a hockey referee.  Plus, getting a new uniform is exciting to boys. (I guess it's like buying new clothes for a girl.)  First thing this morning, Winger and Polar Bear took the ice for a Mite v. Mite game at St. Joe's local rink. 
They were happy to see young neighbor Owen scoring goals for his team!  And Dorito was their mentor, proudly making sure they blew their new whistles loud enough.  Grandpa Gerald started this tradition, as it is a good team effort among siblings and it's a good money-maker for their sports expenses.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pope Names A New Cardinal

Our own Missouri bishop emeritus has been designated to wear the red hat!  Former Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke will be among the 24 new cardinals elevated by Pope Benedict, as announced today by the Cardinal Newman Society.  Well wishes can be sent to him via

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Break Starts Today

We have excitedly counted down the days until Meggar came home.  Cleaning and baking.  Her fall break starts this afternoon, and she has requested Chicken Fried Steak for supper.  Plus Reid and I want to take her to the new documentary at the Hollywood Theatres:  "I Want Your Money" by a family in our homeschool community.