Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Civil War Songs & Stories

"The Fiddlers Three" brought their Civil War songs and stories to the East Hills Library for a free community performance on Monday evening. There was a good crowd who asked thoughtful questions. Winger has been working hard on two songs to add the mandolin, and he sounded great! (no photo unfortunately.) Dorito played all the fancy fills and mordunds. Polar Bear now can play the fast melody on "Irish Washerwoman." It seems they have been more motivated, since meeting "Marian Grace," and they want to learn new fiddle music. Hope to start on "By the Mark" for our next show. The sacrifice of skipping Boy Scouts tonight was rewarded with more than $100 in tips! (This is only the second time in our four-year history that people have given us tips--what a pleasant surprise. We used the money to go out for dinner at Olive Garden afterwards.)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stations of the Cross Candle Set

The twins made these purple candles last year with our Youth Group. I was so proud of the results, and then I forgot to post a picture during Lent. The idea came from Alison--two years ago, and she graciously shared her antique engravings of the 14 Stations so that we could photocopy them (other instructions here). Just the right size for baby food jars.

Thanks to Cynthia for the hefty supply, so each teen could have a set of 14 and make them look like stained glass. For our family's prayer time, we light them all to begin--then blow out each one as we read the station. It's even more significant when done at night time.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Home Alone

Dorito stayed home this weekend--having several important events which ranked above sitting in a cold rink watching hockey. He participated in a concerto recital in Kansas City, playing Concerto in Sol Maggiore by Vivaldi (Concerto in G Major) for memory, which he only began to learn in September.
Then he treated himself to Oklahoma Joe's BBQ made famous on "Man v. Food" TV show. He ordered and ate not one, but two, Z-man brisket sandwiches?!?!
Finally, he enjoyed an Eagle Scout Recognition Dinner at the Moila Country Club. The ice sculpture was a nice touch. Dorito worked with the "Make Talk Now" staff to interview three Eagle honorees, which were broadcasted on the Mic-o-Say Page. (That's a lot of words for our quiet warrior Northern Spirit.) Each Eagle received a commemorative belt buckle from the Pony Express Council.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Family Memorial on the Bucket List

Captain and I decided that our weekend definitely fulfills #10 on the Bucket List. Its spot was previously empty - but the plan has been in the back of our minds for years. We have tried to visit Cousin Marie and Paul before, but it was too far off the path. And we have tried to stop in the middle of Iowa at the Fritz Family Memorial Chapel, but were often in too much of hurry to squeeze it in. (read more history at the link)

My great-great-great grandfather came to America with his wife and six children. "Matthias, being a very devout Catholic, made a vow to God that if God gave his family safe passage to America, he would show his gratitude by erecting a chapel that would endure as long as the stone it would be built of."  
He was a stone mason, and his little chapel is sturdy yet beautiful. Plus, he carved the cross for the altar by hand.

What a great pilgrimage for us to make during Lent! We were able to sign the visitor's book--which is kept inside the letterbox holder on the wall near the Virgin Mary. Uncle Clint has been here previously. We all hope to return and attend the biennial summer reunion here.

Visiting College Friends

We drove through Oregon, Wisconsin, on the way home and had dinner at Blair's house. She and I went to the London School of Economics in 1988-89. She now works for the University of Wisconsin-Madison's MBA School, and we haven't seen each other in a decade or more. What fun to catch up with her and her family! The twins hit it off with Will (who is also going for Eagle Scout soon). The husbands hit it off well politically. And we girls thought the three hours went too quickly!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Twins Rock in Green Bay

The '98 Russell Stover team played its final weekend of hockey games in Green Bay. (Our hotel is next to Packers' Lambeau Stadium!) The twins easily beat the Green Bay Gamblers for the early morning game, which was expected. But they have come together solidly as a team in recent weeks, and it was fun to watch my twins pour it on (#12 and #9). They skate so hard and fast!

Happily they have played on the same line most of the season. They know where to go, when to pass, and how to create an offense together.

They also won their afternoon game against rival team, the Madison Capitals.

They have played each other before--ending twice in a tie. But this was our second time to beat them! Today by a score of 9-6! And Polar Bear scored a hat trick + 1 --- Very thrilling!

Must have been the new stick?? (They have broken 4 sticks in about 4 weeks = hundreds of dollars so Captain convinced them to try a different flex in the Harrow line of composite sticks.)
We hope the AAA rankings will reflect this victory against a team rated higher than our team.

Friday, February 24, 2012

First Trip to Milwaukee

Hockey trips are usually north, where there is better competition. (Lots more snow for yours truly to contend with, but the highways were clear.) This is our first time to play in eastern Wisconsin, so we went early to spend time with my second cousin Marie and her husband Paul. He's a retired dentist and she was a music teacher. Their daughters played violin and cello. So we had much in common. Our lunch was tuna sandwiches and blueberry cobbler a la mode! We all retired to the music room for a few fiddle favorites from the twins, followed by all the "Mary Poppins" songs Paul had on his grandfather's player piano!
Sing-alongs are fun, but then we were late to the downtown museums. We wanted to see the Discovery Center, but it closed early (at 4:00). So we spent our last hour at the Milwaukee Art Museum instead. The Museum is a work of art by Calatrava--being shaped like a huge white ship on the lake shore. It even has sailing wings that open and retract!
Paul was a great tour guide, and I believe he has the whole art collection memorized. We "sailed" past a full suit of armor and an Eyptian sarcophagus to go view the entire room of Georgia O'Keefe paintings. She was a Wisconsin native. There was also a painting by Picasso, Klimt, Kandinsky, and a Chihuly sculpture (the glass blower). Paul is quite a glass-blower-artisan himself.

We finished up with macaroni and Wisconsin cheddar cheese at Alterra, a 130-year-old pump-house coffee shop.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Belated Valentine's Day

Dorito bought me a bumper sticker for the van. I love am proud of my Eagle Scout!
At college, Meggar made 1/2-heart sweatshirts for her and Emily. Still looking for true love.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Mass. Ashes. Confession. Fasting = our family's reality.
Presidential debate with Catholics not sporting ashes = TV reality.
Dorito noticed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Club Has February Romance

We read "Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen, but it wasn't the romance of Karen Blixen like its movie counterpart. Drats! I love that movie adaptation. The book, however, was quite poetic--dealing mainly with her farm in Africa and her experiences with the natives and animals. The movie draws both the poetic bits of her narration along with the biographical bits from other authors. Our book club made good use of the African connection with a special guest who has been on Safari. I'm still not convinced that I would ever want to do that.

Mardi Gras Party

Fat Tuesday is a fun aspect of Catholic life. I had been saveing Elizabeth Foss' recipe for at least six years, and I spent 4 hours trying to make her triple hazelnut cake on Sunday afternoon (similar recipe in link). First I ground up nearly a pound of toasted hazelnuts (after the peelings were removed) for the cake batter. I doused the batter with Fra Angelico liqueur. Put some in the chocolate ganache filling, too. Then the buttercream frosting flopped! So on Monday I scraped it all off and started over. Different buttercream recipe, more liqueur. Much better resuls. I also made 2 very pretty King Cakes (with a baby hidden inside) and Jambalaya (with chicken, sausage links, and crawfish) so I could take some to book club as well as the Carpenter's Mardi Gras Party.

Polar Bear got the piece of King Cake with the baby Jesus--hooray!

Monday, February 20, 2012


Monday was also Family Day at the Pony Express Museum, and free admission to the "Pony School" for a 30-minute class session with yours truly. Being the schoolmarm is a lot like what I do every day. But it took a while to get used to the long skirt when navigating the teacher's platform, and the lack of a wrist watch was not easily replaced by looking at my watch chain. "Can you tell me how many rods make a furlong? What is a word that rhymes with weather? and what is the capital of the first 33 states?"

Presidents and Governors

For President's Day, the Governor of Missouri hosted all the new Eagle Scouts at the Capitol. Captain took all three Schmids to the ceremony in Jefferson City this afternoon. Gov. Nixon gave the remarks and is himself an Eagle Scout! About 150 of the 1,313 Eagle Scouts were in attendance (which fills the rotunda), including 3 from Troop 216.
Each one received a certificate and commerative Swiss army knife engraved with the date followed by cookies and punch.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Drummers in History

Captain is quite a drummer himself, though his trap set in our basement is rarely put its full use. He was eager to share some history about the songs I was listening to this afternoon. (When I remember to turn on Pandora, than I enjoy Michael Buble radio which encompasses Frank Sinatra and swing era songs.) Captain told me about his favorite drummer and pulled up this drum battle on You Tube between Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich. Fantastic!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lincoln-Reagan Days

Just when you think I might be weary of the government, a couple of stump speeches come along and rejuvinate my political blood. The local Republicans always celebrate Lincoln's birthday with a banquet. Captain went with me, and we sat with the Schiebers. First of all, I like the fact that Missouri has term limits. It leads to candidates such as history teachers, military-service-turned entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Real people who pay attention while they are paying their taxes. Next, I like the humor-- when it's honest: Todd Akin said, "I joined the Tea Party in fourth grade," which made me recall Mrs. Leddy dividing us into a House and Senate for fourth grade just before the 1976 elections. Lastly, I may not know who will win in November, but I certainly know the issues I will be working for and voting for with my ballot.

Friday, February 17, 2012

In the Overall Scream of Things

As chaperone to my three teenage boys and their two friends, I considered myself lucky to have heeded the warning and taken ear plugs to the "Winter Jam" concert tonight. After four or five warm-up groups, there were still two or three main groups leading up to the grand finale with "Skillet," (self-proclaimed heavy metal band for ADHD Christians). Lots of lights, smoke, fireworks, rising platforms, spinning drum set, electric violin, and NOISE until nearly midnight. I don't go for the screaming, but their showmanship was impressive. Earlier in the evening, I enjoyed Paul Fuller, Sanctus Real, and the acts on the mellow side of Christian music. And I was pleasantly surprised by the pro-life commercials at intermission on the jumbo-tron. Dorito has attended before and saw several of his friends in the crowd.

Winger and Polar Bear were thrilled with their first "big-time" concert and bought Skillet's T-shirts!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Meggar's Home

There is no place like home. And since all classes were cancelled for today, Meggar made a brief visit back to us -- filled with piano music, garage sale gossip, nails being painted, and plenty of food: ham-and-bean soup better than the Senate Dining Room, chocolate-covered strawberries, steak and loaded baked potatoes, best Cabernet from Napa that we own, coconut scones for tea, and brownie bites (see previous post). She puts me in a good mood.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Downton Abbey-style Valentine cards

Although I didn't see these until the day after... it was too funny not to share. The kids had a "snow day" on Monday, so Captain and I went on NetFlix to re-watch parts of the first season of Downton Abbey. Another Downton Abbey fan made these valentine cards for his blog...

Valentine Abbey

A few weeks ago my wife and I caught on to Downton Abbey, and she can’t seem get enough. I’ve been hearing background on the cast, the fashion, and the time period ad nauseum while my wife imdbs/tumblrs/wikipedias everything about the show. This isn’t a problem of course since I too, LOVE, this show.  So yesterday, I drew up 4 Downton-themed cards for her as we prep for a Valentine weekend involving another Downton marathon!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

So sweet...  The grandkids received Snoopy cards and $5 from Gr. Gerald. Captain purchased coconut clusters for both of "his girls" and mailed one to Kirksville. I made the red velvet brownie bites for our homeschool party today. There's only one left for the photo. And, my friend Robin sent me a haute chocolate bar with a packet of pomegranate tea and her homemade Valentine card. Made my day!

Red Velvet Brownie Bites:
Add 1/2 bottle of red food coloring to your brownie batter (mix or homemade). Option: add 2 t. espresso coffee powder for mocha effect. Pour into greased mini muffin tins. Add cream cheese layer (4 oz. cream cheese beaten with 1 egg, 1/4 c. sugar, and 1 t. vanilla). Swirl slightly with knife or toothpick to create marbled effect. Bake as directed. Winger's new favorite treat.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Twins Playing Plenty of Hockey

Captain finally sent me a photo from the Dallas tournament, where the twins and their team took second place! This was another Super Series with top rated hockey teams from the Midwest. They only lost by 2 points to the Colorado Thunderbirds, ranked 7th in the country for 13-year-olds. They also won three games and tied one game. Sounded very exciting from the play-by-play I received via text messages (on Jan. 27-29). I also know how good a game was when they call me afterwards and all three of them want to talk about it. For bad games, they reserved their comments for Captain alone!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

HHS Mandate

Father Benjamin gave a forceful homily today about the Obama Mandate from Health and Human Services. It is unfortunate that Secr. Kathleen Sebelius thinks we will accept a one-year deadline for accepting the government's wishes. It is not possible at any time for Catholic institutions to provide and pay for contraception, sterilizations, and abortions. I am weary from this battle, as I have said this was coming since the LAST election. Of course, I will write letters again to my Senators and Congressmen. Not as good as the letters written by Olmsted, Chaput, and Dolan.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Bishop Helmsing Institute

Dorito and I signed up! We took an "Acts of Apostles" class offered through the Bishop Helmsing Institute with an instructor from Benedictine College. It was a great chance to read all 28 chapters during the month-long course and discuss them in greater detail. Since he was the only teen at the last two sessions, I was pleasantly surprised when he volunteered to read a passage--and even more pleased when he offered his own thoughts in summary to the group. (I love the part when St. Paul goes to Athens to preach to the Greeks, as it ties in so well with our ancient history studies through Kolbe Academy.) I was looking over the schedule to see if we could take another class together? It worked so well during the twins' hockey practice for Dorito and I to have time together!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Employment Questions

Captain fired a pilot named David and hired a pilot named Ben. You can imagine the jokes in our house.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Downton Abbey Dreams

I called Meggar early (she has 7:30 am class twice a week) to tell her that I had the best dream: it was all in British accents! Even my own conversations! She said I've been watching too much Downton Abbey :-) It's true that I can hardly wait for Captain to come home each weekend so we can watch the previous episode together. He's more hoooked on the story than last year. Today, PBS sponsored an online chat today with Hugh Bonneville, which I regret missing out on. But I did go on the PBS website to the Masterpiece page to watch several short-snippet interviews with each main character. Then I voted for the good (Mr. Bates and Anna) and the bad (O'Brien) amongst them. Like one blogger commented: Why can't Richard trip and fall in front of a truck or something? Most of all, I adore Maggie Smith. She has the timing and the changing facial features that make her parts Excellent! Once during college, I had the chance to see her live on a stage play in New York City. She was old then (and that was 25 years ago), but already known  for her excellent timing and pithy delivery.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dorito Takes a Stand

It's one thing to have to "stand out" because you are homeschooled. I think my kids have learned to accept that. But there are times when they also have to "stand up" for themselves. Today Dorito had to take a firm stance with a homeschool mom who was bullying him. I wasn't there, because my 16-year-old can drive himself to his activities. But I was happy to listen to his report afterwards and proudly noted how he could think for himself.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Complaints from the Kitchen

I love baking, don't get me wrong. But I get tired of "school lunch." Every day, I struggle to tear away from the school room to come upstairs and think of what to make -- a meat, noodles or rice, and a vegetable. That's the minimum. It means three dirty pots, which have to be washed before I turn around and do it again at supper. I need some new ideas...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Have a Bucket List?

When the movie made it popular, I wrote my own bucket list for Captain. He kept it from four years ago and sent me an email:  He is my hero.

To: Candise
We accomplished #9 on your bucket list.....

Subject: bucket list beginnings 
  1. Put all my photos in albums
  2. Turn in Megan’s high school grades
  3. Take a painting class at Hobby Lobby
  4. Take a cooking class at a culinary institute
  5. Go to the Twinsburg Festival (in Ohio)
  6. Visit Clear Creek Monastery (Okla.
  7. Have Dale “propose” all over again at pond Shantivanam
  8. Tour Jane Austen’s house in Chawton (England)
  9. Tour the Denver Mint
We did visit the Denver Mint on our family vacation this winter! Other family vacations have included: Mount Rushmore, Galveston, Pikes Peak, Ft. Lauderdale, and Minneapolis Mall of America, so I wonder what "attraction" will be next. I vote for Twinsburg, but cousin Laurie and Tom are pulling for us to come to Giant's Neck Beach in Connecticut.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pink News

I wanted to post about the Susan Komen Foundation's decision to defund Planned Parenthood (for good reason). I even wrote them a congratulatory email. But that is old news now. We will wait and continue praying. We will also continue to spread the news about the lies of PP and the "effectiveness" of the Pill. Such as the call I received from Captain (who sees the breaking news when he is in a hotel): Pfizer is recalling 1 million packages of birth control which have the pills out of order. On Feb. 2 Fox News says the company issued a recall to pharmacies at Christmas time, but it was not until the FDA request that they also issued a recall to women who already had that prescription. Meggar and I wonder how many more abortions and births will result in the coming nine months.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Night of Romance

Captain and I attended the "Night of Romance" sponsored by my Mom and the Diocese of Wichita Office of Family Life and Natural Family Planning. It was a great dinner, with 30-some bottles of wine in the raffle donated by priests with their favorite quotes. Plus we had "Marian Grace" for entertainment. They sang beautiful hymns and concluded with an upbeat set for dancing! Makes for a good St. Valentine's weekend. But the best part was sitting with my three brothers and their wives (all in town tonight). And meeting Baby Ana from Phoenix for the first time!
And my boys met the keyboard player (Jimmy Mitchell) and violinist (Shawn Williams) while lounging away the afternoon at Grandma's house. There were plenty of fiddle tunes shared as the instrument was passed around! How wonderful to see my boys with Catholic musicians they could look up to.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Science Fair and Winners

Every year for 13 years, I have organized a Science Fair for homeschoolers. This time we also welcomed 5th and 6th graders from the Catholic school making the room full to its capacity. I make sure everyone has 2 judges (in case one is grumpy or near-sighted) to hopefully give them a fair shake. And I give everyone a prize at the end. Not that I am from the world of "medals for 5th place sports teams," but because I have the philosophy of giving scientific and educational prizes that joyfully spur on the student's excitement. It was an exciting night! Aidon was worried he wouldn't win because he colored outside the lines on his chicken, but he got first place in Kindergarten division. Robert was sad that he was too young to do the Science Fair (age 3). How wonderful that little brothers and sisters are looking forward to entering! It doesn't look like work to them--only fun. But for the mothers (especially of large families) it is extra work and mess.
 Our family started our experiments three weeks early and it was a good thing. The twins wanted to find out if identical and fraternal twins have the same blood type. They pricked their own fingers--only to discover the Anti-A and Anti-B serums were out of date and not working. By the time we ordered and back-ordered, they only had a week to test the 12 people who volunteered. Including tow sets of 2-year-olds. My twins were nervous. But the Williams girls sat on their mother's lap and she covered their eyes (no screaming). The Melton girls sat at the counter with a cookie (no problem). the Lombardino twin boys were of the age they wanted to look! Fun! and Interesting! All the twins had identical blood types (even the fraternal twins who are only siblings)! We found differences in the fraternal twins, such as different eye color, hair color, and ability to roll your tongue. Amazing. (My twins also completed their first research paper and were grateful for Max's recent copy of "National Geographic" on Twins.)
Dorito was proud of the multi-meter he had built in electronics class. So he tested it around our house. First, my broken DVD player needed diagnosed. Then Meggar's lamp for college. He found a failed power supply on one and then an open component on the switch of another. Turns out it only needed the fuse put back in! Just like a professional. The toughest step for Dorito is putting his thoughts into summary form on the display board and into a short presentation for the judges. We struggled as I gave him hints, but wanted him to write it on his own. He was frustrated by my hints, thinking I didn't know anything about AC current, resistors, color bands, etc. (I don't!) One morning, he came down to breakfast in his pajamas to tell me he had the perfect wording for his hypothesis: (wow!) I think I can build a multi-meter that is fully funcational using proper knowledge of electronics. (Perfect, I thought!) Then the judges counted him down on the hypothesis for not having the word "if" and I was crushed for him.
In the end, he was happy with his prize=five free skating passes!
This was also a fun year because Meggar was home from college as a judge (and Hannah, too). She handled the 3rd and 4th grade division beautifully, asking appropriate questions since the other judge was new/quiet. And Captain was in town this year and could take all the photos!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Downtown Noon Concert

Held monthly at the historic Presbyterian Church, these concerts are a treat for our family. Not only do we take a sack lunch (which includes cookies or some other treat) but they also provide canned soda at the Church (which is a major draw for my boys). I made sure we could attend today for a chance to hear Rico McNeela play the violin. He is the symphony conductor so he performs infrequently. It was Outstanding! He played songs by Fritz Kreisler (whose birthday is February 2) an Austrian violinist. It was so beautiful that I got tears in my eyes. (I might also be weepy from the stress of Science Fair). The best part was how my boys seemed to take renewed interest and practiced their violin songs longer than usual!

Calligraphy Skills

I have finished writing the names on all 40 certificates for tomorrow's Science Fair. I'm always grateful to have learned calligraphy when I was in 7th grade. It's a fun skill, and I still have my original pen, nibs, and ink bottle. I wish I could remember the older gentleman's name who taught our small group after school. Maybe I am a bit nostalgic for this pretty practice because it involves the hand-written word (a rarity in our times of electronic communication). Once you learn the basic strokes, then it just takes practice and practice to make calligraphy your own. Similar to cursive handwriting, which is no longer taught in many schools because of budget cuts and time pressures. Hmm....
My other preparations for the Science Fair include: contacting 14 volunteer judges, printing 80 judging sheets, collating for clipboards, making homemade brownies for the judges, reminding the speaker to come early to set up, getting the key from church office, picking up 40-some prizes (some donated) for all students, and last but not least -- helping my own three students proofread and practice their speeches. Good Luck Boys!