Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Adventure

My college friend, Kristen, has left today for Hong Kong.  She is going there to look for a new job and a new life -- which really is a positive reaction to the series of closed doors she has found in D.C.   May God bless her on this courageous journey.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Went to see this movie a couple weeks ago when Megan was home.
We always read "the book" before we go see "the movie."  In this case, we had read and reread the book every time there was a 1st grader in our homeschool, so we were looking forward to Mr. Popper's Penguins all summer.  But the modern movie adaptation made it hard to recognize the 1938 book (written at the end of the Great Depression). It won the Newbery Honor Medal and was illustrated by Robert Lawson!  The tale was about turning lemons into lemonade, following your childhood dreams, and not being afraid to like geography in the midst of a prejudiced, small town.  The movie, however, is about a divorced father trying to look cool on custody weekends. The penguins eventually melt his icy Park Avenue heart and help him win back his kids, his wife, and the quaint restaurant of his childhood.  The humor is Jim Carrey style (goofy gags), but the negative content is surprisingly closer to a G rating than many PG movies these days.  It's not the beloved story of our homeschool treasury, but it was worth a couple of laughs at the $2 theater.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Massage My Way Back

Found a new girl at a new place.  I had stopped going for massages whenever my friend "Star" moved away 6 years ago.   But I needed some knots removed.  Lynn does deep-tissue work.  Good for me.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Slow Down Sunday

We returned with the twins to KC to watch them "sweat it out" at another long hockey practice today in a freezing cold rink.  Then we made a huge brunch and napped the afternoon away.  Late church services at St. Pat's come in handy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

An Eagle Scout Service Project

Dorito was thrilled to have so many helpers come today from his Scout Troop! There were 18 Scouts and 9 adults -- and the fun began at 9:00. At first, everyone was eager to begin digging the 21 post holes because the sidewalk was in the shade.  Plus they wanted to try their hand with a post-hole digger.
But after the first hour, the novelty wore off and the sun was fully out--making it sweaty business.  Everyone naturally broke up into teams and took turns at the work: digging, measuring, and setting posts with concrete.  (Mr. Gnuschke's team constantly mixed concrete -- making a relay with two wheelbarrows.)  Lastly, the rails also had to be leveled before the next post could be placed properly.  Good progress was made before lunch time.
Then, Captain grilled 24 huge hamburgers and 16 jumbo hotdogs, which were polished off in no time.  I served chips, salsa, cookies, and plenty of slices of cold watermelon.  They also drank 4 gallons of my home-made lemonade in addition to the four cases of water bottles used up during the day. Dorito hustled everyone back on the job, enthusiastic to finish up the fence and get started on the flag pole.  But we hit a major block of underground cement at the corner.  Mr. Meyers helped me rent a jack hammer, and a couple of dads were thrilled to "help" with that. After 45 minutes, the hole was cleared out enough to set the final fence post!  Each one was also wrapped at the bottom with tin metal to protect it from the weed-eater in future.

Finally, the shiny flag pole was hoisted into place out front...
 marked by a chalkboard-slate commemorative plaque.
In fine form, Troop 216 performed a flag ceremony with the 33-star flag custom ordered to match 1860.

It looks wonderful!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Starting the Work

Dorito and his brothers dug the hole for the 1860s flag pole today.  They filled it with rock, then six bags of cement and finally the sleeve.  This way, it will be all dry and set for Saturday's big installation with the Scout troop. Captain gave them hints about the forms, mixing, floating, and brushing the concrete. Good work!

And the ice cream truck came by at break time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prepping for a Big Project

Dorito is preparing for his Eagle Scout service project this Saturday: flag pole and playground fence (circa 1860) at the new One-room Schoolhouse.  He has a trailer full of fence posts and split rails.  Plus 26 bags of concrete mix, and a 20-foot long pole. He's borrowed extra post-hole diggers and shovels.  Anticipation is high!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Learning Robotics

Dorito is enjoying his Robotics/Electronics class at Hillyard-Technical School.  Even though he has to get up early and be there before 7:45 am.  This week they are doing more complex soldering.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trails West! festival

It's our August tradition to attend Trails West!  My Scouts helped with trash patrol and bought bottles of root beer.  We listened to the "J-Boyz" and "The Band Perry."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hockey Try-outs

Who wants to leave at 5:30 am to go with the twins to Des Moines? I guess it will give me time to finish my book club selection: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (a contemporary of Dickens).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Returning to College

As we bid Meggar farewell for college, I marvel at how she has grown in beauty on the inside and outside this summer. I also marvel at how much I cried again this year.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Birthday Boy

Breakfast for the Captain at the Boon Fly Cafe is a down-home-cooking dream!   And its history reveals that it also served as a one-room schoolhouse for the Missouri family who emmigrated here in the 1850s. So nice to find a "new favorite" (with some history) to add to our list for next year.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Favorite Haunts in Napa Valley

1. Coffee at Peet's.
2. Bagette and 2 French cheeses from Whole Foods--taken straight to St. Clement Winery.

What a gorgeous view from the deck of this Victorian mansion.  We savored our peaceful afternoon.
3. Tour and supper further north--at the new Francis Coppola Winery and Spa/Resort.  We get the "family pass," which is $100 off, in appreciation from their corporate pilot.  We manage to spend a little extra at the bar, gift shop, and the Rustic Restaurant.  Another outdoor patio with an amazing view, where we polished off a huge steak and veggies from the Argentinian grill with some excellent Malbec.   Don't forget the deep chocolate mousse and homemade blackberry-and-peach tart.  We are too full to try out the Bocce courts this time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Trip

4:15 am is very early.  Just saying.  While everyone else is taking their charges to the first day of school, I am jetting out to California to meet up with Captain for some wine tasting in Napa Valley.  4th year out of six.

Like last year, our first supper is going to be at Brix Restaurant--always interesting flavors from their gardens, which we can see from out table on the back patio.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Swim Party

We held the EDGE pool party at the Robertson's this year (since our pool is closed for repairs).  FUN!

Taking the Lord's Name in Vain?

Thou shalt not.   For the first time ever, I heard a TV newscaster take the Lord's name in vain!  I've heard it before on TV shows--still wrong and shocking.  (Not because we have a TV at home, but sometimes we do watch TV at a friend's house or at a hotel on hockey trips).  You can guess which affiliate it was.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Baby Girl Arrives

Uncle Clint and Kathryn welcomed their first born into the world yesterday -- Ana Lucia Leonard.  We are delighted that mom and infant are doing well, as we await the first photos from Phoenix!  I always say it's best to have a girl first!  (If I remember the newborn phase, you spend more time waiting for a burp than you do sleeping.) Good Luck!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dressing Up?!

The dentist asked Meggar where she was going... ?  She said, "Just here."  He thought we were awfully dressed up to go to the dentist.  I shook my head and thought of Hannah's analysis of this "compliment"--they are only used to a small-town style and she is going to continue to wear her best cute things without arrogance.

The Big One Didn't Get Away

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cookies for the Boy Scout

This is all that's left of the big batch of Boy Scout cookies we made for Dorito's homecoming.  Later, we had chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, fried zucchini, salad, biscuits with jelly--and cookies for dessert.

Dorito is Back Home

Here are the BEFORE and AFTER photos.  After hiking 64 miles in 10 days and riding on the train overnight, Dorito arrived back home this morning.
He is thrilled about his 14-day High Adventure to Philmont Scout Ranch and spent all day talking about his crew's adventures on the 140,000-acre property.  They did rifle shooting, rappelling, panning for gold, branding and roping, and spear throwing.  They loved the fiddle player at their Chuckwagon Supper.  They carried their own tents, food, and water every day!  (I heard the food was high calorie, but not highly gourmet.)  I decided a "bandana bath" wasn't as good as the real thing either. :-)  Dorito didn't care.  He's tough.  He made sure to mention he went to mass twice with the retired bishop who is chaplain for Philmont.   He brought back a map of their route, photos from the highest peaks (9,000 feet), and the famous Philmont BELT and BUCKLE souvenir.  This trip has been a classic for Boy Scouts since 1939 on the ranch donated by Oklahoma oilman Waite Phillips.  Our troop had to submit their application two years in advance for consideration on any of the 55 trails open in summer.  Thanks to Mr. Dave for making this a memorable 4th trip in a row for our son.  Note: Dorito has not shaved since July 28 and has more facial hair (and hair on his head) than Mr. Rosenak!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Missouri Statehood Day

In 1821, Missouri became the 24th state and the largest in the Union at that time.  Maps and coloring pages here.  Its statehood was decided through compromise: with Maine was being admitted as a free state to balance out Missouri as a slave state.  And this was 40 years before Lincoln was elected President and the Civil War began!  My Latin students enjoy the verse on the flag:  "Let the good of the people be the supreme law."  The twins and I listened to a history program on Civil War guns and weapons this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gone Fishin'

Captain is all packed for his Canadian fishing trip tomorrow.  Even has a haircut to cheer him up.  The boys are jealous since he's going to see John again, their favorite fishing guide.   Captain claims he deserves the relaxation this Herzog trip provides, and we can't argue with the Chief Pilot after the year he's had: flooded out of the airport, sold one jet, bought another, learned new type rating, trained new co-pilot.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Birth Control is Not Right

Nor is it a right.  Scientists know the Pill can cause a mini abortion -- by preventing the conceived baby from finding a suitable place for implantation.  Of course, Catholics are going to be opposed to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' new budget-buster idea last Monday of mandating the Pill for everyone for free.  Who is going to pay for that?  Those of us who already pay for medical insurance initially.  But the shift in morality is actually the worst part as this plan as it would have far-reaching implications for health care funding by taxpayers in the future.  Bill Saunders at Americans United for Life called the conscience protection clause a "fig leaf" on the rule.  It's not really going to cover anybody adequately and is so narrowly defined that Catholic colleges and hospitals will not be exempt (though common sense would lead you to believe they could have a conscientious objection).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Power Outage

We are lucky the whole house didn't burn down while we were gone.  Yesterday's heavy rain storm caused the dirt next to the house to settle.  This somehow ripped out the electric supply from the house and the box was completely fried by the exposed hot wire.  What can you do?  We went to Applebee's for supper and a hotel for the night.  The kids were thrilled.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Meeting Dr. Ray

The best talk today was given by Tim Staples Dr. Ray Guarandi.  He is so humorous about child rearing and discipline.  I bought his book about teens, and he autographed it for me!  Later we spent time at Uncle Carey and Barbara's house, and cousin Kathie announced her engagement.  Meanwhile, no news from Dorito yet.  The twins are benefitting from a third stage Laura Stamm skating clinic in St. Louis.  Hockey tryouts are coming up.

It's a Mother and Child Reunion

The tall, beautifully bronzed young woman who stepped off the airplane bore a slight resemblance to my daughter--I guess reading 5 books and living at the beach can be transformative.  (Thanks, Aunt Jean and Cousin Laurie.)  What fun to be reunited with Meggar again!  And we promptly took another trip--driving with Hannah to the Wichita Catholic Family Conference.  With a stop at Chick-fil-A.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Upcoming Saint Day Reflection

St. Maximilliam Kolbe is the patron saint (feast day August 14) of our Catholic curriculum provider for high school.  So it was interesting to see this blog entry at NCR:
“Can it still be a surprise to anyone that the Pope born and brought up in this land, the Pope who came to the See of St. Peter from the diocese in whose territory is situated the camp of Oswiecim (Auschwitz), should have begun his first encyclical with the words “Redemptor Hominis” and should have dedicated it as a whole to the cause of man, to the dignity of man, to the threats to him, and finally to his inalienable rights that can so easily be trampled on and annihilated by his fellowmen?”
Pope John Paul II offered this anguished reflection during his 1979 visit to Auschwitz, located about an hour’s drive from his birthplace in Wadowice. 

Do any of us know completely why we live where we live when we are living there?  This is my thougtht for today from northwestern Missouri.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Working at the Beach(es)

Meggar has been "pied sur la plage" for a straight two weeks in Connecticut.  She is babysitting my cousin's children, but it's hardly fit to be called "work."  She posted several lovely photos on her blog from the three different beaches she has visited with her used books in tow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Twins are Not Always Equal

We totalled up the summer hockey stats, and the twins both led the team scoring 8 goals a piece (three tournaments=15 games).  I love when it equals out!  Even in golf, they alternate winning 1st place every other year.  But this year, the golf bracket was kept all season long.  We didn't enter all the events, so Winger finished one-half-point ahead of Polar Bear.  Meaning only one boy got into the play-offs today, and the other stayed home.  They tried to pretend it didn't matter.  But there were suspicious scores that placed other boys in the play-off, so I have hurt feelings about the whole mess.  Not that it has to be equal fair EVERY time.  I tried to comfort them by saying: "You can tell about a man's character by the way he keeps his golf score."  Polar Bear just kept his head buried in a video game for two hours, but he held a stiff upper lip and attended the awards ceremony afterwards.  Later, our twins sat together on the couch looking at new hockey sticks on the internet with their heads only 6 inches apart.  Captain noted how they needed to be together again.  Very poignant!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Garden of Plenty

I'm working at the polls all day (from 6 am - 7 pm), but I'm dreaming of tomorrow in my kitchen.  I have already frozen 14 lbs. of green beans, 9 lb. of corn-off-the-cob, and canned 7 pints of tomato soup.  More tomatoes will be arriving soon, and I have a new salsa recipe to try.  Plus pickled beets (which I make annually for Captain) and enough jelly-jar-sized tomato soup to keep Meggar well stocked at college!  (My 4-H skills from youth come in handy during harvest season.)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Burning Questions about Pencils

Recently the Catholic homeschoolers were emailing about their frustrations with pencils.  Several recommended buying the Ticonderoga pencils in bulk at Costco for best value.  I shared this:
I love how "Ticonderoga" pencils are immortalized by the young journaling author Ray Bradbury in his book: Dandelion Wine.  We adopted a solution for pencils based upon Family Fun's recommendation of engraved pencils in differing colors for each child.  No more fighting (!) because the green pencils will always belong to Polar Bear and they have his name stamped on them.  I have bought a set of 24 personalized pencils for each child only twice in the whole 15 years I've been homeschooling. And I had to make a rule that each child can only sharpen two pencils before morning offering, because the electric sharpener is so loud and annoying.