Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Benjamin Franklin Comes to Call

Our own son played the role of elder statesman at the homeschool field trip today. He even brought his famous key! Don't you just love his stockings, bald forehead, and cane! The library is hosting the travelling exhibit which was created for the 300th Birthday of Benjamin Franklin. Each visitor could have their photo taken with "Old Ben," and he helped answer some trivia questions. He also passed around some tea he had leftover from the Boston Tea Party, where people got so tired of paying high taxes that they resorted to illegal activity. (!) But I digress on the political implications. Back when I was expecting the twins, I wanted to name one "Benjamin" in hopes that he would desire to serve his fellow citizens in a political capacity. You need a strong sounding name for a tough job like that--maybe some day there will be a Senator Schmidling from Missouri.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Buying the Works at Apple

Meggar picked out a MacBook and iWorks from the Apple Store today. She had graduation money to spend, and this is a great investment. As a university student, she received several discounts plus a free printer! She's happiest about the Apple sticker for her windshield.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Minnesota Hockey Weekends

The twins' summer team took first place in their division this weekend in Minnesota. They couldn't believe the "Herb Brooks Training Center" was free to hockey players, and Captain said they stayed long enough to shoot close to 500 pucks between both boys. They also enjoyed seeing players from three of their former teams around the rink. Plus Aunt Mary had them over for dinner so you know they ate well on Saturday night. On the long drive home, I heard about Winger's amazing saucer pass and Polar Bear's flick-behind-his-back-foot/off-the-boards-to-himself pass! They have convinced me they are old enough for really long hockey hair. See what you think.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Michael Buble in Concert

Meggar and I were fortunate enough to receive last-minute tickets to the Sprint Center for Michael Buble's concert!! We were so excited we could SCREAM! And we did once or twice. Meg invited a few friends to the suite--Hannah, Andrew, and TJ. (Boy, can they eat! ha) The songs were amazing and the multi-level stage showcased the talented musicians, too. Angela and I shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio and sang along to "Just Haven't Met You Yet." We also danced to "Everything."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dorito's Birthday

Our "Big 15" has turned 15!! Dorito read the second half of the Driver's Handbook straight through (in about 3 hours) and then announced I needed to take him to the testing center. He passed! Now he has a learner's permit. We gave him a key to the Previa as part of his birthday gifts. And I made another special menu item from Julia Child--Chicken Fricasse. I'm in the mood for French cooking since returning from there, and having seen the movie "Julie & Julia" before. The recipe resulted in an incredible dish. Of course, there is half a stick of butter, 2 egg yolks, and cream in the sauce so it tastes rich and velvetty! Not much left in the bowl...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flying Lessons

Meggar flew for the first time last Friday. She is the one who has been asking the longest for this opportunity, and she made the most of it. Captain let her do a take-off (!) as well as fly over the house and flooded river.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Enrollment Day at Truman State

It took slightly less than 3 hours to drive to Kirksville, when we were anticipating a longer trip. Meggar and I arrived at Truman State early this morning and truly felt the presence of her guardian angel throughout the day. We bumped into her roommate at the coffee pot first thing! Erin and her mom are from St. Louis and were so pleasant to spend time with. The girls have several things in common: volleyball, musical interests (percussion and piano), and fine food (Erin is hostessing at a posh restaurant this summer). Everything worked out smoothly with enrollment. Meggar quizzed out of two semesters of French so will take French 3 and British Lit. as well as the required music classes of a piano major. She met with the head of the music dept. as well as her piano professor. They were informative and welcoming. I think the small class size and academic reputation of Truman will guarantee her a great learning environment. (I’m still a little nervous.) We stopped over at Joyce Shively's home before driving back. She is Gr. Elizabeth's friend from Army days and will be a local contact for Meggar this fall.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Foods

We put some extra effort into the menu for Father's Day. Captain just returned home from Minnesota with the twins in time for dinner on the back patio. Dorito helped me make brats on the grill (braised in beer and BBQ sauce with peppers and onions). The extra hotdogs also tasted great in the mixture. Plus we served him corn-on-the-cob, Jello with carrots and pineapple (his favorite), watermelon, roasted potatoes, Cowboy baked beans (twin's recipe), and stuffed mushrooms (new recipe). Full tummies make for happy campers! The new movie with clips of "Abbott and Costello" plus new cologne and new shirts for work seemed to be a hit with our Dad. Nice evening in the back yard with the whole family.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friend Gets Married

Cindy is the director at the Pony Express Museum, and has become a family friend in the past 5 years of her work there. Today, we were proud to help celebrate her wedding. Meggar and Dorito played prelude music. Wife did the entrance and recessional march music. Later we visited with friends and the "other Megan" at the reception. But the afternoon was too long for my son who spent all week at Scout Week. With three nights of thunderstorms, plus Mic-o-Say Tribe ceremonies, I doubt he got much sleep there. He caught a few winks after the wedding.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

YWCA Awards Luncheon

Meggar was selected as the "Future Leader" homeschool nominee for the YWCA Women of Excellence Awards Luncheon. She attended the luncheon with her parents and nominators: Mrs. Schieber and Mrs. Verbick along with 996 other locals. While not chosen as the top scholarship winner, Meggar's volunteer efforts and leadership were laudable and have positively shaped her community, church, and school groups. It was also fun to see many friends amongst the crowded Civic Center. Afterward, she happily shared her prepared acceptance speech with both nominators as a way of thanking them for their support. The persimmon-colored rose will brighten up our lunch table. A little bit of recognition goes a long way.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Potluck Dinners

I took the twins and Owen to the Parish Potluck. Captain and Meggar went to Camp Geiger for Scout Family night to visit Dorito. Everyone gets good food this way. The twins have enjoyed Totus Tuus all week, mainly because they are in the older group for junior high and high schoolers. How fast they grow up! They like to come home and tell me all the "older" and deeper topics they have discussed about their faith. It's a treat to see them so excited.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Totus Tuus Dinner

Again this year, we thoroughly enjoyed hosting the Totus Tuus team for dinner. We had Brian, Mary, Sam and Celina--as well as Bro. Augustine, Bro. David, and Fr. Totton. I made my famous appetizer, Warm Artichoke Dip, which we enjoyed with a French Pinot Grigio. Dinner was steak kebabs from the grill (Captain's handy) and potatoes with herbs de Provence. We find it works better to split large groups between the kitchen table and the dining room table, then we all join back together for the dessert in one room. That way, there is a greater chance for getting to know everyone personally during the conversations. Everybody seemed happy with the bread pudding, rum sauce, and a scoop of ice cream served with coffee.

Friday, June 11, 2010

First Flight for Dorito

Dorito took advantage of the good weather and had his first flying lesson with Captain. He came home smiling and happy to have flown over our house and land at the smaller airport in Cameron, too. His dad told him he had a steady hand!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Meggar the Nanny

Meggar has as job as a nanny for the summer, helping with five children under the age of 8. She absolutely loves it, as evidenced by her ability to get up early each day! Tonight she is also babysitting for her other favorite families and will do so for three evenings in a row. Good thing she loves children. She says she would like to be a nanny in Europe, too, as she would know all the places to visit with her charges. She is saving all this hard-earned money in hopes of owning a MacBook before she leaves for college. Check out her other hopes and dreams on her blog.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Club Talks About Travelling

Our selection for last night's meeting was "Travels with Charley" by John Steinbeck. I loved the idea of reading a travel book while I was travelling the past couple of weeks. This short paperback is much lighter than Steinbeck's other novels, but his writing style and philosophy for the "underdog" still shine through (pun intended). The "Charley" is his French poodle and the tales are from his 1960 trip across America. He meets all sorts of interesting people and paints a scene of our country on the brink of civil rights struggle and sexual revolution. Great discussion ensued since our book club group has members of differing ages. As usual, I picked up on the author's most witty phrases and choice wording, such as: “We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Political Viewpoints in other Cultures

As I reflect on our wonderful holiday in Europe, it strikes me how beneficial it was for Meggar to sit in people's homes and participate in their regular lives. So much of the political, economic, and religious views of each family came into the conversation and way of living. We heard about Cambridge students complaining that their higher education may no longer be completely free/provided by the government. My college student's ears pricked up at that one. And we looked at our receipt from the department store to see a shocking 19.6% sales tax. We enjoyed reading the free newspapers on the London Underground because the World Cup was featured as well as articles about the newly-elected coalition government in Britain (Cameron and Clegg). In France, the weekend Newsweek had an English-language insert so we could read about Michael Buble and laugh at the cartoons of President Sarkozy. We watched the Frechet children doing vast amounts of homework on Saturday. School is not out for the summer until July. Charlotte was busy with exam preparation and getting letters from universities, though she still doesn't know which ones will accept her yet. She is graduating at the end of June. The French family has also just sold their home and bought a flat closer to a city Metro station. The cost of housing was staggering to this Midwestern mind. In Germany, the posters for the Normandy celebration were everywhere. And lots of concerts planned for Chopin in the 200th year since his birth. Not only was it beneficial for Meggar but also for me to step outside of my comfort zone/Missouri perspective. It enlivened me to have so much world news at my fingertips again. Of course, I also relished the opportunity for deeper conversations with the moms (Aliette and Jutta and Lisa and Daphne and Marian) about the future our children and grandchildren will inherit.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Paying for the Toilet

As we tell stories about Europe, the boys tell us stories about Canada. Back and forth it goes excitedly as one memory helps recall another. The twins can't believe you call it a "wash room" in Canada. And Meggar couldn't believe you pay for using the water closets (WC signs point the way). On the motorbahn, it was 80 centimes per person at a truck stop, then at the Paris airport it costs 60, but we only paid 20 centimes at the Quick Burger in Versailles. You can imagine--you get what you pay for.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Box Hill Picnic in Jane Austen's Style

We had a wonderful afternoon in Norma’s huge back yard with members of the Jane Austen Society. There was perfect weather to accompany many fine delicacies at our Box Hill Picnic. Norma regretted that she couldn’t get her husband to rent a donkey, but the dozen attendees were quite pleased with her strawberries! Here are 3 of riddles that Megan and I wrote in the pattern of “Emma” to share with others. Spoiler: I'm giving the answers at the end.

She lived in Bath long before Jane did, Her famous bun recipe is no longer hid.
(Who is she?)

Julius Caesar was a man among men;
The second is the tubs that we soak in.
(What is the compound word?)

The Queen and her family receive power from on high,
Her crown jewels shine like the bright sky.
The second is the quarter moon with its soft glow,
The whole is a residence that Jane would know.
(What is this compound word?)

#1: Sally Lunn
#2. Roman Baths
#3: Royal Crescent

And as a treat, here is our recipe from the picnic:
Rum Cake for Tea Time
1 box yellow cake mix
½ c. sugar
¾ c. oil
5 eggs
1 c. sour cream
Beat together on medium high speed for 2 minutes.
Stir in: 1 c. chopped pecans.
Pour half batter into greased bundt pan.
Combine filling: 1 T. cinnamon and 2 T. brown sugar
Sprinkle over the batter.
Cover with remaining half of batter.
Bake at 350’ F for 45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes.
Pour Rum Sauce over cake in the pan. Cool for 1 ½ hours more, then turn out of the pan onto serving plate. Refrigerate overnight or longer (freezes well) to improve the flavor.
Rum Sauce:
1 c. sugar
¼ c. boiling water
½ c. rum

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cranford's Elegant Economy

Becca was here to welcome Meggar home from her travels. They made copy-cat Chipotle burritos and then we all watched "Cranford." We love this BBC series because it's so witty--poking fun at an old-fashioned English village before the railroad days. Two bits that I especially enjoy are
*the hyperbole phrase of the older sister when she retires to her room because she has a "headache of phenomenal proportion," and
*the "practice of elegant economy" which in their case is burning two candles alternately in the evenings to make them appear to be the same length. For me, it is taking only half a piece of gum at a time.

Your Mom is Too Nice

The guests must have had a good time, because I heard one boy saying: "Your Mom is too nice." Polar Bear and Winger held their annual hockey-and-swimming birthday party this weekend. Their real birthday falls in the cool spring when they want to use our pool in the back yard. So they wait until summer to schedule with friends. It's non-stop athletic competition for two days! All I do is suppply the fuel: muffins, pizza, chocolate shakes, little smokies, doughnuts, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, cheese crackers, and Gatorade mostly.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back to Home, Sweet Home!

I had 1,079 email messages waiting for me at home! The twins were taking bets and Winger had the closest guess.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 15 and Travelling

The longest day is when you travel back west through the time zones. It was 6 a.m. Tuesday when we departed London and 6 p.m. Tuesday when we arrived in Kansas City 18 hours later. It was already gone 10:00 when I fell into bed after sharing many stories and hugs all around. It's wonderful to travel, but wondeful to sleep in one's own bed again.