Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Youth for Truth Event

Jason Evert (short one in the middle) was in Kansas City for "Youth for Truth" last Friday. Dorito (tall one on the right) had a good time with his homeschool friends at the chastity and abstinence seminar.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dentist Office

Early morning drive to Atchison to get a tooth pulled. Winger's last baby tooth! Kind of a painful way to get "ahead" of his twin brother.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Boy's Life Magazine from 1972

When I was wandering around the antique mall looking for pioneer school slates and buck saws, I found a gift for Dorito. It was the November 1972 issue of Boys' Life featuring Philmont Scout Ranch as its cover story. He was so excited that he took it to the Troop Meeting on Monday night. Jacob loved it. Mr. Sisco said he remembers reading it. Mr. Brown said he still had it. Best $1.50 I ever spent.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Penny Log

I found a penny while out walking with the twins.
I also found a dime on the bathroom floor at "Mr. Goodcents." (how ironic)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dickens had Great Expectations

My book club selected "Great Expectations" in anticipation of Dickens' 200th birthday next month. Admittedly, I cannot read 500+ pages in one month's time while also homeschooling. So I read the first 20 chapters with less-than-good expectations about the dark story line of orphans, pirates, and marshes. Then I skipped to Ch. 38 and read to the very end (Ch. 59) so I could see whatever becomes of Pip and Estella, et. al. Of course, I intend to finish the book's middle, someday, and get a few more details. But I was still proud of my efforts. And I learned to appreciate Mr. Boz a little more. Since I am prejudiced toward "A Tale of Two Cities," this book required some little coaxing of my stamina. But I found the British humor woven all through (I somehow missed that in Mrs. Williams's senior English class) and his meaningful dissection of humanity to be spot on. Don't you know a Jaggers-type lawyer? A drama queen like Miss Haversham? The story line of redemption is one we are all attracted to. This selection also gave me a chance to learn about Dickens himself (especially when Cynthia informed us of the cover-article in this month's "Smithsonian" magazine). I also learned there are two movie versions to watch, and a third on its way!
P.S. Alison's pork pie from book club was a rare treat!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sheetrock Dust

This week, we hired a crew to replace the bottom two feet of sheetrock around our basement. After all the water damage last year, and the subsequent repairs, we knew it was safely time to look behind the walls for yucky black stuff.  Luckily, they only found one small section that was moldy (less than 24 linear inches). It's gone -- and all the taping and mudding are done. Greg works hard, and tells great little stories. But who will clean the thin, white layer off EVERYTHING in the entire basement/homeschool room. Me. But not this week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Poetry Out Loud

I organized the qualifying round for homeschoolers in the "Poetry Out Loud" competition today. The One-room Schoolhouse was the perfect setting for our 9 students.
My boys did GREAT with their first public recitations, although we have memorized poetry in homeschool for years.
Polar Bear: "My Native Land" by Sir Walter Scott;

Dorito: "Song of the Powers" by David Mason
(spoof on Rock, Paper, Scissors);
Winger: "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost. So heartened that we use a literature-based curriculum, and that my boys would participate without a fuss, and that they would enjoy it so much.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Returning to Normal

My van is back from the shop! Smiley Face! Enough. Said.
P.S. Seems it was difficult to find a distributor cap for a 1997 Toyota Previa.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Looking Vintage

Yesterday, my Sunday outfit had a vintage look--complete with my Mom's blue wool skirt and belt from 1960s. Meggar will be envious.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Movies to Mention

Our whole family enjoyed a couple of movies over the holidays, taking advantage of Meggar being home. We adored "Sherlock Holmes II" and only Captain had never seen the first one. It was clever and historical and witty. It also gave me a chance to tell about my own visit to 201 Baker Street (fictional home of Sherlock Holmes and now a bank location) back in 1989 college days.
Secondly, we watched "Courageous" at the cheap theatre (finally). A worthwhile message about the importance of fatherhood to our modern culture. Of better quality than its predecessor ("Fireproof"). Kind of preaching to the choir since we are blessed with a virtuous father at the head of our family.
Lastly, Captain and I went to watch "Tree of Life" at the Bridgewater's home today. It is a beautiful and thoughtful movie about a 1950s father. I enjoyed the Focus on the Family review here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Coldest Night of the Year

Klondike is supposed to be a challenge for camping overnight in winter. And last night turned out to be the coldest one we've had so far! (It was 22 degrees.) I was worried for Winger, Polar Bear, and Dorito, who slept on the ground with their Boy Scout Troop at Camp Geiger last night. They wore the right layers and took the right sleeping bags, but reported they were a little chilly. Captain said it was a good challenge and he was proud that they met it head one with enthusiasm. Mostly, they were enthused to try out their new camping gear which they found under the Christmas tree last month. I heard that Dorito's camp stove and grill pan made excellent steak kebabs. And they always love having Double Stuffed Oreos for a late-night snack (called a "cracker barrel.")

Friday, January 20, 2012

Art for a Date Night

The boys are gone to Scouts, so Captain and I slipped out for a little date to the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art. It was their Membership Show Awards program, which we perused with a little wine and cheese fortification. Our artsy friends, the Schiebers, accompanied us for a very delightful evening. And we bumped into Dr. Smith, who helped with Dorito's broken finger last month. He swapped hockey stories with Captain, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting his wife. Their son is at the end of his hockey days as a senior at the University of New Hampshire.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Small Ensemble Music

My boys stayed late at violin lessons last night (and every Wednesday evening) to practice the "Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor."
They are learning all three movements for a special concerto performance in May. Dorito plays in the first section and will be a featured soloist in one of the movements. Winger plays in the second section, and Polar Bear plays in the third section. We joked that Winger is already "principal second" and Polar Bear is "principal third," but they are getting some great experience with this ensemble. It's also time for me to sing the praises of their new teacher, Nicholas Jarrett. He is the early 30-something son of Meggar's piano teacher. Nick has the same gentle nature and soft-spoken ways. His love of the music for its own sake is rubbing off at every lesson. What a pleasure our lessons are.
Meanwhile, the boys played at two different nursing homes this week so "The Fiddlers Three" have been busy. After every show, we try to meet as many of the people as possible--seems that a warm handshake is appreciated no matter what your age.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Catholic Artwork at Co-op

Our mid-month meeting of Catholic homeschoolers was FUN today! The Blue Knights made helmets, and the Little Flowers made bracelets. My older students worked with oil pastels to create a snowy scene.
We analyzed the many colors of snow (light blue, gray, cream) and learned how to draw branches and a Cardinal bird with its black face. The twins said my addition of popcorn made the class more pleasant.
Dorito's on left

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Year's Resolution

I had a date night with my oldest son tonight. Dorito and I signed up for a Bible study on "Acts of the Apostles" for a few Tuesdays this month. What a good way to begin the New Year--  together with another homeschool mother-and-son duo. I am happy to focus more on Dorito while Meggar is away at college, and the extra driving time to Kansas City gives him time to open up and tell me things. Just little things, but so important when they are added up. We both enjoyed the Benedictine College professor who is teaching! And we learned some new things from the first 5 chapters of Luke's account of the beginning of the Church. May this extra time in the Word help restore us, even as Christ is restoring the Church.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Epiphany Party

On the 12th day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me... the feast of Epiphany! (It even rhymes.)
Last Sunday was Epiphany and last Sunday, I helped organize a potluck feast for the Catholic homeschoolers to celebrate. It's always bonus when the Dads can join us socially and there was plenty of good food, drinks, and conversation that evening. We had a coloring contest and short lesson about the Three Wise Men. After the meal, my twins called out rounds of BINGO until everyone won a prize.

And we concluded with a re-enactment of the Epiphany. Lovely!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Serving at the Soup Kitchen

"I've never made brownies from a box mix," will usually mean that a homeschooler only follows homemade recipes. But in this instance, it was a boy who had never cooked before. Later his brother said, "I don't know how to wash dishes. I never have." He had brownie batter all over his cheeks, lips, and chin from the beaters so I elected him to be the first dish-washer in hopes some of the water would splash on his face.
Later I heard: "I don't want to be around the people who smell."  SO... it was a good learning experience all the way around. We cooked hamburger for the sauce, sweetened green beans, garlic bread, cupcakes, and brownies.
The Catholic homeschool group served spaghetti and fiddle tunes to about 50 people at the Southside Food Kitchen last night.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Traveling Back in Time

Meggar requested me to send her the key points from Literature 9 on "The Odyssey" for some class at Truman State. How lovely that my scanner is fast and efficient! How lovely that I remember most of the key points and literary analysis of Homer from 9th grade. Classic literature keeps its richness and has lasting value because its themes are universal and timeless: fidelity in marriage, loyalty to your boss, shameless suitors, vengeful youth, loneliness, temptations of the flesh, etc. Go Penelope!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Downton Abbey - Part 2

A year later, we are finally able to watch Part 2 of the "Downton Abbey" series on PBS. Captain and I thought the first episode was better than last year's! And it's free online to watch.

Christmas Tree

Time to take down the Christmas tree. It still smelled good! We bought it on Dec. 19 only 5 minutes before the place closed up. We kept waiting for Captain to go with us for a picking-it-out trip, but it never worked with his schedule. So we finally went without him, and we managed to load it on Dorito's roof rack especially with three Scouts who could tie knots! We also neglected to decorate his office at the Herzog hangar--another scheduling faux pas. I won't say I am always right, just that our traditions are not always an annual success. Better luck next year!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Farewell with Tea

Meggar starts back to college tomorrow, so we crammed in all the last minute goodies we could: shopping in Kansas City, finding sales, and a new tea house to try. Also mass at Cure parish, connecting with KC friends, and holding hands with each other. Girly time is essential before another semester.

In fairness to her brothers, Meggar also spent time with them -- at Sonic, Starbucks, and Snow Creek. They all received stylish sweaters from Old Navy from her for Christmas, since she has an employee discount, and they loved that. Here's a photo after a long day on the man-made ski slopes along the Missouri Rivery bluffs. (Unfortunately, Polar Bear had just discovered his snowboard was stolen when they came in for a cocoa. It had new bindings which he had bought with his own money, too. What a shame.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Konnichi-wa to the Year of the Dragon

Although slightly past New Year's Day, my tradition was carried out for another year.
I love to celebrate by making a Japanese meal for a different family each year and and sharing with them the culture and customs of Japan. It helps me honor my friend Akemi, who is still a pen pal. And it brings back fond memories.  She stayed with our family during the summer of 1980 for a 4-H exchange. Such pictures! And I stayed with her family during the summer of 1983 in Tokyo. She was a friend who provided me with a great adventure--whilst I was "stuck" in a small-minded, small town during my teens. 
The best part was showing my souvenirs having Megan and Dale take over the two cooking woks so I could eat and tell stories around the table of 12 people. It was hard work for them to keep making tempura for a dozen eaters. But there was plenty of sticky rice and green tea, too. Later, the twins really impressed me by serving the chocolate fondue in separate serving cups/plates for dessert. (Not Japanese, but delicious repast.) So responsible of them! 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Finally Going Out

Meggar convinced us to go out for sushi during the twin's hockey practice in KC last night. She is fascinated with the "Drunken Fish" restaurant in the Power & LIght District. Captain also loves sushi, so they were giving suggestions to Dorito and I. Captain likes spider rolls and Meggar had something similar. In the end, I ordered the Philly Roll, and it was excellent. (I haven't had sushi since 1983 when I was in Japan.) Dorito stayed with the cooked teriyaki steak and a side of rice, but he carefully sampled a bite off the plate of his sibling. He made Twitter-type comments all the way home afterward :-)

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Captain finished up our read aloud after lunch today. And how appropriate, given the airplane connection in the story of "DragonWings" by Lawrence Yep. This Newbery Award winning tale was new to us, but such an immersion into the city of Chinatown and its immigrants just before and after the San Francisco earthquake.  Moon Shadow, the narrator, is helping his father, Windrider, build a flying machine at the same time as the Wright brothers are. (Good discussions with our sons about Chinese culture, flying, models, and discrimination.) This historical work of fiction is based upon the life of Yue/Feng Ru, a young Chinese immigrant. He created an aircraft factory and built two planes--the first one crashed into his own shop during its test flight, burning everything to the ground. But he built another plane, and it flew for 20 minutes from the Piedmont Hills, as reported by the Associated Press, on Sept. 21, 1909.  Yue returned to China in 1911 with his mechanic, and they are credited with building China's first aeroplane. Yue was killed in a crash in 1912.   (Listen to a wonderful interview with the author, who credits his Jesuit English teacher at Catholic high school for his successful career.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Vintage Learning

I dressed up as the School Marm for the first "class" at the Pony School yesterday. The newspaper photo shows how we started with a Recitation exercise of "Old Ironsides"--featuring the elocution skills of the local Superintendant, YWCA director, and a Commerce Bank trust officer. Then I saddled the newspaper editor with spelling lists to practice at the board whilst I was giving a geography lesson from an 1822 map. He grumbled plenty. My current events questions about the upcoming election seemed to perplex everyone, until they realized the date written on the board was January 3, 1860. Lastly, the banker was stumped with an interest rate word problem until a retired CPA came to the rescue and pounded out the long division (by hand, not with a calculator). The excitement in the room was palpable, and the pace was dizzying. But it was only a 30-minute peek into the curriculum we will offer to full-day and half-day visitors at our Prairie School exhibit.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Tournament Champions!

Despite an earlier loss, the twins and their Russell Stover '98 team pulled a victory out of their hats at the "Music City Winter Classic." We had six games, one shut-out for Remy, two shoot-out nail-biters, two goals that were called off, Dorito muttering about the refs on my left side, Mr. Kruegger drawing the refs a picture on his clipboard, and a nice breakfast at J. Christophers with Turley and Frank!  (P.S. Prayers go out to Ryan F., who broke his shoulder in the '97s game.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Praying with the Dominicans

We went through the front gates at the convent and were overwhelmed at the size of the place! Once inside, we were amazed at the beauty and the NUMBER of nuns in ivory habits. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia have been in Nashville since 1860, teaching and singing and praying. We joined them for Vespers (sung liturgy) and the Rosary in their stunning chapel.

Just enough time before and afterwards for a partial tour with Sr. Mary David and Sr. Anne Francis.