Monday, February 28, 2011

Sledding and Such

The youth group met to go sledding on Sunday afternoon, but it was cut short by drizzle and lightning.  I took everyone back to my house for cocoa and games instead.  The extra 5-inches of snow last week did not go to waste on the Schmidling family.  Today, I took the twins over to Snow Creek for an afternoon of snowboarding tricks with their friend Jarrett.  Probably the last chance they will have as the warm temps are melting the snow very rapidly.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Success at the Science Fair

Last night, it was Winger's turn to shine.  He smoked the junior high division with his "Science of Golfing" entry, which tested the bounce rate of various golf balls!  With golf season just around the corner, he now knows the Titleist ball will travel 12 feet farther on every shot (imagine his excitement). Polar Bear took 2nd place with an invention to land a model airplane on his homemade runway.  He managed to remember what all the markings, lines, and colored lights meant. 

Last, but not last place--Dorito captured 2nd place in the high school division with "Pilot's Weather to the Extreme."  He made three homemade weather instruments that worked quite well, and he learned to decode METAR (pilot weather briefings).  Even without Captain's help in person (he DID assist over the phone), I managed to organize the 12th annual Homeschool Science Fair.  It seemed easier with only three students and their projects from my family... I'm not complaining; I'm simply trying to balance out those feelings of missing Megan at every homeschool turn.  (She was good enough to still enter an experiment during her senior year.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

I admire Emma Thompson so when NetFlix recommended a movie where she had a starring role, I put it in my queue.  "Wit" is almost a monologue, which Thompson accomplishes seamlessly.  The heroine has stage IV ovarian cancer and has agreed to treatment with an experimental drug combination.  Not a cheerful movie plot. But Vivian Bearing is interesting to me because she is an English literature professor, who teaches a tough course (succinct) using her intense knowledge of the metaphysical poetry of John Donne, especially the Holy Sonnets.  She thinks about things deeply, but keeps a fresh sense of humor full of word play.  It was also interesting to me as I am far removed from my own cancer treatment (coming up on 7th anniversary).  There is a touching scene at the end with "The Runaway Bunny" and her former graduate advisor.  "It has always been my custom to treat words with respect."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Another Son

Today would be the 17th birthday of our son Kendall.  I know he is with my other two daughters in heaven, hearing my prayers for Dorito's recovery.  We received good news at Children's Mercy today.  This time when Dorito took the IMPACT test, he completed it at the right speed for a boy his age.  Still got too many answers wrong (memory isn't all there yet) but his score DID improve significantly, which means we are making progress with OT and PT and vestibular therapy.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Bad Habit is Broken

After much effort and prayer, Polar Bear has stopped biting his fingernails!  Finally!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cooking Class at Co-op

The spring homeschool co-op on Tuesdays has started, and I'm leading two cooking classes again.  We made appetizer dips today (it was Winger's request).  Here's his favorite recipe:
Spinach-Artichoke Dip
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
3/4 c. frozen spinach, thawed
2 c. Swiss cheese, shredded
14 oz. artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t. hot pepper sauce
Sprig of fresh rosemary
1. Stir all ingredients together in large bowl.
2. Place in greased 9-inch dish.
3. Bake at 350’ F for 22-26 min.
4. Garnish with fresh rosemary. Serve with crackers or bread sticks.
But the best part was making homemade chips to go with it.  Cut corn tortillas into wedges and deep fat fry for 1-2 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt. AMAZING!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Meggar chose this sentiment for her dorm wall above her Liberty of London bedding.  It's darling!  I hope it keeps her motivated with piano and Biology homework until we see her again at Spring Break. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thinking about Robotics

Two things happened with robots this week:  Dorito applied for the Hillyard Technical course on Robotics for his junior year (and he wrote a fine application, too).  Then the twins went to Science City's Engineerium for a 2-hour class on Lego Robotics. 
"This is a sick robot!" they exclaimed and wished they had more time to build/program it, especially since buddies Josh and Jarrett were on their design team.  The warm temperatures drew the four pals into playing kickball and goofing around in the Crown Center water fountains afterwards.  I was so pleased to catch a glimpse of the boys' dreams.  I want to help them be the best they can be.

Meeting Up with Meggar

On our way to the hockey games in Chicago, we stopped in Kirksville to have lunch with Meggar.  Nice hugs and stories all around!  The boys were well behaved in the cafeteria, although the food was only mediocre.  We took chocolates and other small treats from home. I noted that Meggar was using her pink Vera Bradley clutch purse which she received for Christmas.  Her college life seems so stylish!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Health Care and Teacher's Unions

Every kid deserves an opportunity to get an education, but probably everyone will agree (even teachers) that the U.S. government has never managed the system very well.  And everyone needs medical care from time to time, but should be paying their share responsibly.  Here's the latest take from our cousin Charlie on the teacher strike in Wisconsin.  I agree that too many teachers don't teach, and too many parents don't parent.

I need to get this off my chest based on what's going in Wisconsin and conversations I've had lately with people.  In my youth, the most important lessons in life, I learned the hard way on my own.  I've been fired, and it was the best thing that happened to me because I bought the lie that I needed a stable job and health insurance.  I admit that, at the end, I was not a good employee because I didn't care anymore, and my attitude and work reflected that feeling. When I got sick and tired of being sick and tired of my situation, I went looking for a new job that paid more and is more interesting and fulfilling. I was depressed in my old job because it was a J O B that drained the life out of me. So I made the choice to change it, and I did find a new job with great bosses who care about me.  They went beyond anything I expected with my Father's passing at the beginning of this year.

Today across the river in Wisconsin, kids will be walking out of school in "supposed" support of their teachers because the Governor of Wisconsin is making what some people call "radical" changes to the public employees union.  Kids don't know anything that hasn't been told to them, so Wisconsin teachers using kids like this is a disgrace.  As a teacher, if you want to walk out, walk out--but don't give me this cry baby, yellow belly spineless crap.  Have the guts to stand and be counted.  I had teachers that I wholeheartedly support for the continuation of their career because they continued to perform.  I had other teachers that were complete idiots and the only reason they had a job was tenure.  In times like these, the default argument is that teachers don't get paid enough, and it's a crappy job dealing with crappy kids.  Well, you chose it, and nobody said you had to stay being a teacher forever.  The crappy kids, that's the parents' fault, and it seems nobody wants to call the parents out on their crappy kids. 

What I have read is that the Governor of Wisconsin is now asking/going to make public employee union members contribute to their own healthcare and retirement.  This results in less take-home pay due to the first time that a higher contribution comes from them toward their own well being.  I never read anything in my life where it was stated that somebody else was going to take care of me when I moved out on my own.  When I married my wife, we pledged to take of each other in sickness and health etc. but nowhere in our vows was our jobs taking care of us or the government taking care of us in our pledge to each other.   Life is always changing and some people who had a false sense of comfort are now being awakened to the stark reality that life changes and you will change it for yourself or it will be changed for you.  I've been down both those paths, and I'll choose the path to change my own life.  Be glad you have the choice to live your life the way you want to live it.  Not everybody in this world has your opportunities.  That's all I have for now, so make the best of the opportunities you have in front of you, even the ones that are dressed up in overalls and look like work.  Have a great day, you don't know how many you have left.

Friday, February 18, 2011

What Is In Your Heart

There is a boy with autism in Dorito's Scout troop who is also homeschooled.  We see Eli often because he also plays cello in youth orchestra.  Earlier this week was his 18th birthday, and he invited three  friends to his first-ever birthday party--including Dorito, who said "yes" right away.  We bought Eli the newest Bionicle from his wish list, and Dorito said he put it together in less than an hour without fully reading the instructions. Impressive! I am most impressed that Dorito and Jacob see a person and not a disability.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Driving to Hockey Practice

Tonight's the final practice for Stars AA, and I will be relieved to have a break from driving.  Captain also drives sometimes, and together we have driven over 6,000 miles this season for practice alone for the twins' team.  I guess I'm not complaining since it counts for two boys.  But I mind "losing" 11 hours a week from being productive at home.  You know how I like to do two things at a time.  Add to that 7,000 miles for 12 weekends of games.  People already suspect where the Schmidling's place their priorities, but I don't think many can comprehend the level of our commitment.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Vestibular Therapy for Dorito

We went to Children's Mercy again today, and Dorito met with an O.T. who did exercises to balance out his inner ear.  Ms. Andrea was very attentive and explained the vestibular therapy well.  We are eager to try anything that might help with his headaches and dizziness.  She also gave Dorito eye stretches to do, that's what I call them any way.  They are similar to what David does to help his lazy eye, which reminds me to get him back into the habit.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Message of True Love for Valentine's Day

Last Sunday, I used the approaching Valentine's Day to talk about Chastity with my junior high youth group.  It was a counter-cultural presentation, but I was pleased how receptive they were.  Some of the Catholic cliques were included with my comments, but I figure teens should hear them early and often.  And I made a good joke about texting BF and GF, which really means Best Friend and Good Friend!?  Here's my outline:
CH--stands for Chosen by God for someone special and a wonderful life;
A--Ask God what vocation He wants for you;
S--Save yourself for marriage;
T--Trust that God will give you supportive friends;
I--It's a Bible truth;
T--Tenderness is still allowed in true friendships, just as Christ first loved us;
Y--say "YES" to living in Chastity!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Chamber Music Concert

Dorito and I were gifted with tickets for the Chamber Concert, and we enjoyed its Valentine themes as well as the interior of the historic First Christian Church.  Rico McNeela (Symphony Director) is as fine a violinist as you will ever want to listen to, and his efforts to change up the cultural offerings by adding this series deserve appreciation and a larger audience. He played extremely well, and Dr. Matt Edwards on the piano was just a pleasure to watch.  We had the most fun with "La Revue de Cuisine" and its Charleston and Tango.  Such a nice date with my son!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Save the Last Dance for Me

A surprising lack of hockey games this weekend allowed Captain and I to slip out and attend the Seminarian Benefit/Valentine Dance at our parish.  We enjoyed the chance to dress up, eat slowly, and step out on the dance floor.  The timing was so Providential as my hubby is going away to jet school tomorrow.  Refresher training is always a week-long, annual cramp in our schedule.  But this year, Captain is getting a new type rating for a different aircraft, which requires he be gone for 21 straight days.  He doesn't relish the idea of that much studying, and I don't look forward to it on the home front either.  But the dancing earned him big brownie points!  Plus last night's comment that he would like to watch more Masterpiece Theatre with me (following our successful completion of "Downton Abbey.")  Music to my ears!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Getting Older

If my twins are about to become teenagers (in only 20-something days) then it says I am getting older. UGH!  I know they will soon catch up to me in height, but they are happy to be older and bigger. Polar Bear teases Winger because he can swallow a pill and his twin can't. But Winger rubs it in that he is taller, and he even claimed credit for having the first pimples. As you can surmise, these are very exciting times as Captain and I watch their bodies and minds maturing: like figuring out truth, justice, equality and friendship.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Puzzle for the Older Twins

We have plenty of easy and medium puzzles in our homeschool room drawers. Those haven't been out in a while.  But Dorito found a Double-Sided Puzzle in Washington DC and thought it would be perfect gift for the twins now that they are older.  Of course, it was.  They tackled it the first morning on the kitchen island.  Next day, Winger jumped at the chance to do the other side (which side is the front?) and then Polar Bear tore it apart and solved it the other way.  We left it out all week and discussed facts related to the 16th president and his cabinet.  Actually, other visitors also worked the puzzle between violin lessons, too.  Nice!

25 years as a Pi Phi

My sorority in college sent me an email with congratulations.  It has been 25 years since I was initiated into Pi Beta Phi.  I remember the smart girls, close friends, fancy house, and home-cooked meals. Fond memories for sure!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Theatre

Although I didn't watch it over four consecutive Sundays in January, the PBS site has the "Downton Abbey" videos for instant download.  Captain and I watched two of the four episodes already and can't wait to finish the series.  This is a wonderful British drama with several actors/actresses whom I admire, but there are a few PG-13 scenes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Modeling Job for Meggar

Over the holidays, Meggar posed for some photos on the plaza to advertise a friend's photography business. The Christmas lights make a great background and effect, as you can see.  Meggar had a great time modeling!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hockey Update on Twins

The twin's team won the Midwest League Tournament over the weekend, and I forgot to post the photo and results.  We were proud that 25 of the 29 team goals were scored by the first line!  That's the twins plus Dane, and we call them "Tic Tac Toe" because of their offensive moves.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Party for the Super Bowl

We stayed overnight in the hotel so we could watch the Super Bowl on TV.  I made a party with the help of room service. (I know, that's too easy!)  It was not because we are Packers fans, although we are glad they won.  It's not because we wanted to watch the celebrities like Christina Aguilera and Black Eyed Peas (although we like the real words to those songs).  Honestly, it was a little bit for the commercials: tiny Darth Vader stole the show!  And it was for a little "family vacation" since Captain had work in Lincoln the next morning.  Since we had two TVs, we took advantage by watching the History-channel-marathon of "Pawn Stars" between first downs.   They are so comical!!  Their customers brought in a real John Hancock-signed document, Miracle-signed hockey stick, and George Washington campaign buttons. But there were fakes like: the NASA photo negatives, Indiana Jones' whip, and Bob Dylan signature. Comedy is the best vacation for a family.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"TrueGrit" Movie Based on a Book

Captain's affinity for John Wayne movies has infused our home with a love of cowboy movies, and we own quite a collection.  Of course, my boys wanted to see "True Grit" during this hockey weekend, and it was fun to go altogether. Jeff Bridges was a good "Rooster" and Matt Damon was surprisingly good as his "side-kick" LaBoeuf. I just learned that the double-barreled success of this Coen brother's remake must be attributed to the enduring literary brilliance of an 1968 novelist.  I won't promise to read the book by Charles Portis like Mr. Weissand recommends, but it is another proof that the book is always better than the movie.  And they both make a timely reference for us during this 150th year since the Civil War.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ina Garten on the Road

Speaking of cooking and needing inspiration, I got a full dose of Food Network between hockey games in Des Moines today!  There is an advantage to having cable TV at our hotel.  All the cooking specials were focusing on chocolate (great!), and my favorite was Ina Garten's truffles.  I like anything she makes, and it was a pleasure just to listen to her cook.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cooking at Home

I am glad that I cook for my three hungry boys nearly every day for lunch and supper.  I can't always keep up. Yesterday, I did let Dortio have a frozen pizza (whole) for his afternoon snack.  He had eaten a big lunch earlier, but looked in the fridge and said, "There's nothing to eat."   It was mostly true since the boys had finished off two pies and a strawberry shortcake in this week alone.  So I gave in and wondered how he would feel at supper time.  Dorito was still hungry at 6:30 pm!  Unbelievable.  Secretly, I am glad ;-) especially after reading this blog from another mom. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Throwers at the Airport

Neither rain nor snow will stop the flights of the Herzog Aviation Dept.  But they are dependant on the city for airport snow removal. When I dropped off the Captain, I captured a glimpse of the BIG snow throwers.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Big Snow

More snow this week and sub-zero windchill, so the schools are out (even Truman State Univ. cancelled classes for the first time in 30 years).  We are taking advantage by doing extra school and music/violin ourselves.