Thursday, March 31, 2011

Meggar's Quick Turn-Around

Make-a-difference-Monday happened this week on Thursday as Meggar rode from college to Kansas City with a Victor, who needed his arm cast checked.  We enjoyed her company around our supper table, even though she will be driving back for Biology class tomorrow (what a fastidious student!).  Then she will be home again for an important family gathering this weekend.  Here's her news:  she has 18 songs to play at weekly lessons with the oboe player and two vocalists whom she accompanies, she earned $200 as per college accompanist policy, the "other Megan" likes her idea of making recordings together, her AGD volleyball team needs to shed some players who aren't as good they pretended to be at first, her co-ed volleyball team is fun because a girl must touch the ball every volley, her book club is still going great, and (last but not least) she and Alex's efforts to create a designer T-shirt for the jungle party was so popular they began taking orders!  Reid was happy to inherit one of the cool leftovers.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Abortions in the News

Walter Hoye (pro-life pastor from California) posted these statistics on Facebook last month, and it caught plenty of attention.   In 2008, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, there were more induced abortions than all other causes of death combined.
Heart Disease....21,844
All Deaths (excl. abortion)....55,391
Induced Abortions....82,475
Sad statistics indeed.   Women have other options.   This trend needs to stop.  The funding of Planned Parenthood by our federal government to the tune of $1.3 million per year also needs to stop.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cooking up Surprises

I chose recipes with a surprising twist for cooking class this week, as April Fool's Day is only two days hence.  Everyone liked the Monster Eyeball Meatballs, Missouri Mud Pies, and Dirt Pudding.  Here is a recipe to give your little cupcakes a surprising treat:
Surprise Cupcakes
Filling:  4 oz. cream cheese
1 egg
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. chocolate chips
1-Chocolate Cake Mix
For Filling:  Beat the first four ingredients with mixer until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips. Set aside. In separate bowl, beat cake mix with eggs, water, and oil according to box instructions.  Fill cupcake papers barely 1/2 full with cake batter. Scoop in heaping teaspoon of filling on top of each one. Bake at 350’F for 20 minutes and cake batter will rise to cover the surprise filling. Cool on rack; Spread with frosting of your choice.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Skies Restaurant

I shouldn't keep track, but Captain has only been home about seven days in the past seven weeks.  It adds up, and he knew it.  So he asked me out on a proper date.  (I must say we enjoyed ourselves immensely.)  We had never been to the top of the Hyatt Hotel and the  view from "Skies" rotating restaurant was very quaint, especially with the light snow falling and the city lights sparkling.  Plus, I had an offer from to make it more appealing.  I started with crab cakes and a glass of Pinot Grigio, of course.  He started with bisque of some sort, followed by a bottle of Napa Valley Merlot.  We marveled over the flavors of the sirloin, red snapper, asparagus, warm rolls, and butter with black salt flakes.  The dessert (delightful bread pudding) was lingered over with coffee, Baileys, and finally a glass of fine port.  For some reason, all the funniest tales from the previous weeks surfaced, and we found our conversation more unhurried and unworried than usual.  We didn't return 'til the following day.  We should run away again.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Confirmation Novena

Actually, it should have started yesterday, but I am just now getting this post added to my blog for Dorito's upcoming Confirmation on April 3.  Recite the following prayer for nine days...
Novena to the Holy Spirit
O Holy Spirit,
You are the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity!
You are the Spirit of truth, love, and holiness, proceeding from the Father and the Son, and equal to Them in all things! I adore You and love You with all my heart. Teach me to know and to seek God, by Whom and for Whom I was created. Fill my heart with a holy fear and a great love of Him. Give me compunction and patience, and do not let me fall into sin. Increase faith, hope, and charity in me and bring forth in me all the virtues proper to my state of life. Help me to grow in the four cardinal virtues, Your seven gifts, and Your twelve fruits. Make me a faithful follower of Jesus, an obedient child of the Church, and a help to my neighbor. Give me the grace to keep the commandments and to receive the sacraments worthily. Raise me to holiness in the state of life to which You have called me, and lead me through a happy death to everlasting life. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Scout Concert

Dorito and I played for the Silver Beaver Banquet tonight.  It is a Scouting award for local volunteers, and we met the nicest people at our table.  The twins are in Minnesota for hockey try-outs so it was not "The Fiddlers Three" this time.  Once we got the sound system working, he played 30 minutes of classical pieces followed by 30 minutes of fiddling.  How nice that Dorito got to have the spotlight to himself.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Muddy Mess

Whenever two or more teenage boys gather together, there will be MUD in their midst.  I don't know whose idea it was, but they wanted a picture afterward of Dorito's 4-wheel drive car complete with muddy hand prints.  After that, I talked them into staying home for a movie while I washed all their clothes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Job Interview

Dorito had good news this week about a summer job. He made it through the interview and has been hired to work at Fairview Golf Course.  He will get to play golf and hit range balls for free.  Once he turns 16 in June, he can drive the golf carts, too.  He is a happy guy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


About 10 days ago, I cut at least two inches off the twin's hair.  Today, they wanted another two inches cut off.  No joke!  To prove it, I took a picture of the clippings after just one boy was finished.  They look so different now.  Captain won't recognize them when he comes home.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making Breakfast

My cooking classes were very pleased to make breafast food this week.  Winger pleaded to be at the Monkey Bread-making group (and he is 13 so he's not all grown up inside).  Some students still need practice breaking an egg, but no big messes this week.
Overnight Coffee Cake
(from my own junior high class in home economics)
2/3 c. shortening or butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. cinnamon
1 c. buttermilk
1. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in eggs.
2. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk. Mix.
3. Pour batter into greased 9 x 13” pan.
4. Mix topping in separate bowl, then sprinkle over batter:
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. nuts
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
2 t. lemon or orange rind, grated
5. Refrigerate overnight, if desired 6. Bake at 350’ F for 30-40 minutes.

Monday, March 21, 2011

New Musical Responsibility

Meggar has been elected as Music Director for her sorority.  So I was telling her how many songs the Pi Phi's sang every week during my college days:  one as we walked into the dining room, one for grace, one after the salad course, one before dessert, and one as the ending grace (I think).  She said her AGDs don't sing at meal time since they meet in the Student Union once a week for supper (because they don't have a sorority house).  But that is about to change (not the house building, but the singing).  Meggar is going to add one song each week on "Pin Day."  She has also hosted one fraternity serenade so far.  Fun!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Youth Group Goes to Mir House

I took the EDGE youth group to outdoor Stations of the Cross this evening at Mir House.  The balmy 70-degree weather made it perfect for a Lenten walk around the acreage together.  Most of our group had never visited the 24-hour Adoration Chapel either, so we stopped inside to visit Jesus and pray for our city and our needs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saint Joseph in St. Joseph

We live in St. Joseph, Missouri, so we always get excited about the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19.  Plus that is Winger's middle name, as he was born here.  Our tradition is to attend the local St. Joseph's table (a feast of breads and cakes with proceeds going to the poor), and we usually make some braided bread creations at home.  Tonight we travelled to another St. Joseph's Table at a small country parish in Kansas.  When Captain was growing up, he attended "St. Joseph of the Valley" parish.  We are going there for mass and a spaghetti supper with our friends, the Schiebers.  The new pastor is a college mate of Alison's and everybody loves Fr. Richard.  Captain made the rounds talking to old school mates and their mothers all evening.  How nice that our boys could see where their dad was a server, made his First Communion, and was Confirmed.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Big Haul

Another load of flagstones for Dorito's Eagle Scout project was hauled to the Pony Express Museum this afternoon.  Dorito managed to enliste the help of two other Scouts who worked together for 3 hours. Thanks A and Z!  My legs were also sore from helping them.  But now there is enough rock to create an authentic-looking foundation for the One-room Schoolhouse.  Afterward there was some sneaking away to create a Works Bomb with the twins, and I am pleading ignorance about such boyish antics.

Time Change

It could be a good sacrifice for Lent, but I hate the "spring forward" time change.  Today it caught up with me.  I've been staying up too late and getting up too early.  I needed a nap, so I curled up on the couch while Polar Bear was giving a violin lesson to Thad (thinking I wouldn't be needed for at least 30 minutes).  Sweetly, Winger sneaked over and put the cozy blanket on top of me.

Lenten Devotions

My friend Brea is sending out quotes from Mother Teresa each day as a Lenten devotion.  It has already touched my heart in just the first week-and-a-half. Today's post ---
Simply talking to GOD
Prayer is simply talking to GOD. He speaks to us; we listen. We speak to Him; He listens. A two-way process: speaking and listening. Say this prayer often: "JESUS, in my heart, I believe in Your tender love for me. I love You." The more you pray, the easier it becomes. The easier it becomes, the more you'll pray.
- Mother Teresa

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's More Than Reubens

St. Patrick's Day is always about the reuben sandwiches for us.  Some of my kids like sauerkraut and some like Thousand Island Dressing, but everyone loves the grilled rye bread with corned beef brisket in between!  I wonder if Meggar got one at the college cafe?  Captain will be grateful to eat one on Sunday when he's back home.  My second treat today was cleaning up a leaking foundation wall in the basement (again).  My third treat was when Jessica made me Irish coffee with whipped cream!  Lastly, I hosted three book club gals for "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" movie.  My friend, Ana, has suggested it before, and I usually read the book first, but the long week called for a change in my rules.  NICE!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

First Golf Outing

Winger has been dying for this day to arrive--warm enough weather for golfing.  Plus the twins used their birthday money to buy new pitching wedges which needed a practice round.  They also are excited about receiving new golf bags from us for their 13th birthday.  I haven't snapped a picture yet, but they are bursting with pride over their Sun Mountain stand-up style bags.  Winger sent me this wallpaper and said it would be good for my blog, plus it is now his background of choice! Happy Spring, boys.

Book Club with Hotel du Lac

The "book club experts" recommended our March title, but I wasn't that satisfied with "Hotel du Lac."  It was an easy and quick read about an English woman packed off to Geneva for a forced vacation.  Supposedly good characterizations by the author.  But there are so many GOOD things to read that I was sorry to have wasted my time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cooking Class with an Irish Theme

Of course, it was easiest to choose Irish foods for today's homeschool cooking classes.  The Irish Potato-Leek Soup (simple but so-ooo comforting given the return of chilly weather) was paired nicely with Irish Soda Bread.  The bread was fabulous!  We made two versions--one with whole wheat flour and oats and another group made it with only white flour and added raisins.  The homemade butter is always a treat at a bread-baking class. Thanks to Cynthia, I had plenty of glass baby food jars so each of my 34 students could churn shake some heavy cream until the butter separated from the buttermilk.  It must be the buttermilk that makes this recipe so hearty and delicious. Not a crumb was leftover from the boys' class, which is good since you want to eat Soda Bread on the first day! We actually made smaller bun shapes so they would bake faster and be ready-to-eat before the end of our 60-minute class.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Irish Soda Bread 
2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. soda
1 T. sugar
3 T. butter, softened
1 egg
2/3 c. buttermilk
3/4 c. raisins or currants
1. Mix all dry ingredients in bowl.
2. Cut in butter with pastry blender.
3. Make a well in the center and add egg and buttermilk all at once.
4. Mix lightly until just combined. Handle gently.
5. Do not knead. Using floured hands, shape into large disk(s) about 1-inch thick.
6. Set on greased baking sheet (or in cast iron skillet) and cut deep X into top.
7. Bake at 400’ F for 20-40 minutes (depending on loaf size) until golden.
Irish Soda Brown Bread
2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
1/4 c. oatmeal
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
1-1/4 c. buttermilk (or sour milk with 1 T. vinegar)
1 t. caraway seeds, optional
1. Mix all dry ingredients in bowl.
2. Make a well in the center and add buttermilk all at once.
3. Mix lightly until just combined. Handle gently.
4. Using floured hands, shape into large disk about 1-inch thick. Do not knead.
5. Set on greased baking sheet (or in cast iron skillet) and cut deep X into top.
6. Bake at 400’ F for 30-35 minutes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Scout is a Leader

Dorito led two parts of the Court of Honor tonight.  First, he helped introduce the new patrol of 12 first-years.  Then, he organized a knot-tying competition between three patrols.  His clear voice explained the rules, start time, and who won.  He even threw in a bit of humor ("I can see from here that's not right.").  He also chose the Eagle scouts to serve as the judges (a nice nod to Robert and Alexander).  Dorito was standing tall, and his uniform was Class A complete.  Captain and I were just as proud as could be.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

New Numbers

Proudly, Captain has lost 22 pounds since Christmas and his cholesterol number is down to 174!!  Hooray for the daily walks.  He also thinks sardines might be the new superfood of the mid-40s crowd.  They are full of Vit B12 (gotta help with stress), antioxidants, and omega-3.  He eats them 4-5 times a week and that's easier than swallowing 5 fish oil capsules every day.  His weight goal is 10 more pounds off.

Prayers for Japanese Friends

When I was in high school, we hosted Akemi Ueno Wakatabe one summer and another summer I stayed with her family in Tokyo.  So, we were praying constantly yesterday for their safety after the recent earthquake, tsunami, and related dangers in Japan.  She emailed back this morning saying that she, her husband, and children are fine.  What a relief!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Leaving for College

Meggar's visit was quite special.  She spent one-on-one time with each family member, and I know it meant a lot to each of us:  Dorito (who is wondering whom to take to prom), and the twins (who love going to Sonic happy hour for half-price slushies), and Dad (giving financial advise), and Mom (going shopping, baking, movies, and a bit of dating advise).  Mostly fun, and not too much advise thrown in.  Leaving is always bittersweet--Julia said, "I don't want you to leave again!"

Friday, March 11, 2011

Teenage Party at Water Park

Our birthday boys helped me make these invitations so that a few hockey friends could join them at the Co-Co Key Water Park near Royals Stadium. 
We've never been there, but I must say that it was very clean and accommodating.  The birthday package included one hour in the water park, followed by one hour of pizza, cake, ice cream and $5 worth of tokens for the arcade room, then another hour in the water park.  They did the tube slides, then the raft slides, then played water basketball, then the obstacle course, indoor hot tub, outdoor hot tub, then back to the slides all over again.  I was pleased that 13-year-old boys could be happily entertained (and exercised) for 3 hours. GREAT!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book 2 Graduation on Their Birthday

The twins also performed their Book 2 Graduation today. 
At the end of each Suzuki book (about 12 classical pieces), the teacher requires you to perform 5 songs for perfection of the techniques and your memory.  

We timed it so that Meggar could be their accompanist over her spring break, and Dorito played the duet parts on two pieces (Bouree is still my all-time favorite). 
Everything went wonderfully, and was followed up by punch and cookies and a family dinner at Olive Garden.

Go Cats!

At the last minute, we were given tickets to the Big 12 tournament today at the Sprint Center.  Luckily we homeschool and could skip town to catch the 2:00 pm game.  Uncle Chad joined us.  Also we saw Mrs. Susan--who bought a tournament shirt for her godson (older twin on right).  Polar Bear was thrilled! (P.S. Cats lost)

Let's Face It

There are officially four teenagers in this house - right at this moment!  And they all have FaceBook now.  (Even Captain has FB, but since I'm his GF it's not a worry.) Today, the twins turned 13!!  Dorito helped them set up FaceBook accounts this morning since they are old enough to "join" the social network.  They are excited, and I'm glad to see them growing into new areas of responsibility.  My experience with FB has been that it gives a lot of practice with spelling because you don't want to look bad in front of your friends. That's good.  Plus I have all their passwords so I can check for the bad stuff.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

Thankfully, Lent starts late this year.  It gave me more chances to talk to my kids about what they are giving up or some sacrifice they are adding.  My mantra has been: "We're giving up eating out" in hopes that the kids will just accept it because they have heard it so frequently that it must be true.  This could back-fire and make my life worse during the next 40 days... My goal is more help with meal preparation from all family members.  Of course, I will also monitor the levels of patience and the kindness of everyone's words like I do year-round (seems a constant in a homeschool families).  Personally, I will try to love my enemies as myself.  I don't know which is tougher.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Crawfish at Cooking Class

My stash of Mardi Gras beads and masks came in handy twice this week.  We had a "Fat Tuesday" bash at youth group on Sunday night, complete with a batch of Jambalaya from Emeril's cooking show. And today, the homeschool cooking classes wore the necklaces while frying several batches of beignets.  I also boiled up a pot of crawdads so each student could try one.  First you pull off the head and suck the spicy juice out of the brains.  Then pinch the tail and pull out the meat.  There were squeamish girls and bold boys, so that added to the fun.  All the pincher/claws went home as souvenirs.
French Quarter Beignets
3/4 c. lukewarm water
1/3 c. sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. evaporated milk
2 T. shortening
3 1/2 c. sifted flour
1. Mix water, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 4-5 minutes.
2. Add egg, salt, and evaporated milk to the yeast mixture. Stir.
3. Beat in only 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the shortening until smooth.
4. Stir in the remaining flour until a soft dough ball forms.
5. Knead on a lightly floured surface for several minutes.
6. Put dough into greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rise in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
7. Preheat 2-inches of oil in a deep-fryer or electric skillet to 350’ F.
8. Roll dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch squares or triangles. Deep-fry the beignets by flipping with a slotted spoon until they become a golden color. Drain for a few seconds on paper towels. Toss them in paper bag of confectioners' sugar. Makes 18 doughnuts. (from Paula Deen’s Cookbook)

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Desk for Dorito's Long Legs

Dorito often stands while doing math (I don't know why except it seems to be genetic with Schmidling students).  But now I find him squirming and rearranging his body all the time.  I first thought it was from his concussion headaches (caused by sitting too long).  Then I realized that the desk was too small underneath!  This year, he had been promoted to Meggar's homeschool desk in the adjoining room.  It is more quiet there and hopefully that bit of privacy also supports the oldest child in working independently.  But whenever I went in to check on Dorito, he was knocking things off the edge of the desk.  That is partly caused by his ambidextrous use of both hands.  But then it dawned on me that he didn't have enough leg room (he is at least six inches taller than Meg) and couldn't scoot his chair up close enough.  And it wasn't helping his posture to do school work in his lap nor while standing and leaning over the desk.  New desk.  Looks like an executive.  Captain said he was jealous.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Something Smells Good in the Kitchen

Meggar wanted good food while she was home.  I started with ribs and sweet potato biscuits.  Then pot roast and the trimmings. She is supplementing the main meals with little treats:  eggnog scones and coconut madeline cookies!  So French and delicate.  From the Ina Garten cookbook we rescued from Border's going-out-of-business sale.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mid-Term Break

Meggar's mid-terms are over, so she gets a week off for "spring break."  Here's a picture of her at college studying in her slippers.  We are glad to have her all to ourselves again and stayed up late watching a movie together last night.  She is sleeping in this morning.

Friday, March 4, 2011

"I Have a Dream" play

Yesterday, we enjoyed the performance of "I Have a Dream" by Theatre IV from Richmond, Virginia.  Only 4 actors and 1 actress played all the roles in this biographical sketch of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It was moving and inspirational, and the lead role even looked similar to MLK.  I was pleased with the connection for Dorito, who recently stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in D.C.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Take a Ride in the Sky

Captain has been flying this simulator all week in Dallas--an odd-looking contraption.  He scored well on the written exam with a 96%.  His check ride will begin late tonight.  I'm sure he will pass with flying colors, despite a few deadened brain cells from the long hours of studying.  Hang in there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Virginian Rides Well With Book Club

I forgot to describe our February book club, but not because I didn't enjoy the book!  It was a romantic western called "The Virginian" by Owen Wister.  Written in 1902, it was wildly popular for its dialect of the Wild West cowboy, and it remains popular today as a classic.  I was expecting a Louis L'Amour tale, but this was lighter and more comedic.  For the month of February, it was a perfect love story to discuss:  a brave cowboy falling in love with an east-coast school teacher at the one-room schoolhouse over fine literature.  Miss Molly introduces the Virginian to Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, and even Jane Austen!  I was hooked.  Even Uncle Howie finally gets married and has TWINS.  Guess it makes me eager for my own chivalrous man-with-high-character to come home.  Two more days!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Giving Away Friendship Bread

One of the best gifts is homemade food, and today's cooking class was about using Amish Friendship Bread.  I had saved up 20 batches of starter for my boys' class and 10 batches for the girls' class.  They each baked a small loaf in a tin soup can to take home with the instructions for growing their own starter this next week.  Yummy!