Saturday, March 31, 2012

Another Eagle Scout

I was digging out photos for tomorrow's Eagle Scout ceremony for Andrew --Dorito calls him "Shotgun" after their High Adventure trip to Philmont last summer. I wanted to share this picture from a Mic-o-Say dance last year. Each Scout works very hard to make their costumes by hand. Dorito has reently been shopping for a Roach
(the head piece worn by Tom Tom Beater and older). He picked one from an online dealer and negotiated $50 off the price! Which is nice since he was spending his own money ($325). Made from dyed deer hair and porcupine hairs, it is sewn by hand. His arrived by mail today and Dorito said: "I feel like it was made just for me."

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bagels Return

When the kids were little, they lived on bagels and homemade muffins for breakfast. I loved them, too. And our favorite store was Big Sky Bagels. We went there after weekday mass, holy days, and special outings (instead of doughnuts). Then Big Sky closed, suddenly and unexpectedly. I think it was about 8 years ago. We had to resort to store-bought bagels -- in three boring and basic favors. We do enjoy the Panera Cafe, which opened here last year, but last month Big sky re-opened in a new location! Hooray for cranberry bagels, chocolate chip bagels, and best of all -- honey butter! (Yet much cheaper than the price of Panera's bagels.) Captain went early this morning to fetch some for our breakfast.

Yesterday, he brought home treats from our other favorite Cafe -- cupcakes from Delish Bakery.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More Prayer for Lent

Everyone in our family has added a significant amount of prayer time to their schedule for Lent. I read this story from St. Gregory the Great, which expresses the marvelous effectiveness of praying the Mass:

"It seems to me, he says in one of his homilies, that many of you know the story I am going to tell you now.  It is said that not very long ago a man was taken prisoner by his enemies and led to a distant part of the country.  Since he was a long time there, and his wife did not see him coming home, she thought he was dead.  So she had Mass said for him every week.  And as many times as his wife had Mass offered for the forgiveness of his sins, on each occasion, the chains of his captivity loosened.  When he came back later to his own town, he told his wife with wonderment how on certain days of the week, the chains which bound him in his cell loosened by themselves.  When his wife thought of the times and the days this happened, she recognized that he was freed when the Holy Sacrifice was being offered for his soul, as far as she could remember.  Many chains are broken for us every day, thanks to the prayer of others."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Recollections at the Piano

Things have been intense for me lately. I know that I am depressed because the doctor decreased my thyroid medicine, but it's hard to tell yourself not to cry when your whole heart feels like it is falling into a pit of despair. Three months of decline will likely need 2-3 months to build back up the hormone levels to something like "normal."
So in the meantime, I have resigned from a couple of large volunteer projects. And I play the piano every couple of days. The "Jane Austen Songbook" is my go-to repertoire. It's mostly a melancholy mixture from the hit movies, but playing them keeps my mind sharp as the songs range from 3 flats to 2 sharps and back to C Major. It's almost a sight-reading exercise as I've never polished these pieces. But I can play them all. I'm proud of that! Reminds me of girl-hood and soothing myself at the keyboard for hours and hours. I still want to play each measure perfectly, but unlike then -- I am more willing to accept wrong notes and even begin to improvise a little to cover them up.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Prom Invitations for Boots and Beauties

Jodi and Ashton helped me make Prom invitations. They borrowed a Cricut machine to cut out the overalls and the aprons from various blue- and pink-patterned scrapbook pages. Such cute clotheslines! I designed the inside like a WANTED poster for our western theme. I am still working on a melodrama called: "Prom on the Range" or finding a square dance caller. Jodi is rounding up decorations: hay bales, wagon wheels, bandanas, and little boys cowboy boots for centerpieces. I think HyVee will donate bottles of sarsaparilla for each guest too :-) There's always a good meal and good entertainment when I am in charge of Prom.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Painting last week gave Dorito an idea for his Firebuilder gloves. He is very involved in Mic-o-Say and goes to practically every practice and every dance around the community. The highlight of his summer was helping build the tapping fire at Camp Geiger. I guess he is already thinking about summer campouts.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Friends in the Red Fox Patrol

Another of Dorito's friends celebrated his court of honor with the Eagle Scout Award. Jacob is pictured in the center with six of the nine remaining members in the Red Fox patrol. They are striving for 100% Eagle Scouts within their group, and it is going to happen soon! I think it will be a record. Dorito was chosen as an Eagle escort for the ceremony, which is quite a privilege. He gave Jacob a big hug at the end--he knows how great this accomplishment feels! What great guys and good friends, who have been through a lot together over the past five years (including Canada, Philmont, Oreos, and no Oreos).
P.S. Dorito worked at the "Silver Beaver Awards" dinner last night with the Make Talk staff. He got dressed up and looked older than ever. He called to tell us that Mr. Rosenak won!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Arabian Nights

I took my friend, Vee, to the St. Joseph Symphony. They were playing selections of "Scheherazade," based on the story of One Thousand and One Nights. The "voice" of the princess was portrayed by the concert mistress' violin, and the "Sultan" by the French horn. I love the French horn's sound. Which reminds me that I would I would like to read the book (seems to be in two or three volumes?!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Political Struggles

The future Senator Schmidling had his first political loss. I still feel badly for Polar Bear five days later. He has already been Patrol Leader for six months in Scouts, so he decided to run for Senior Patrol Leader. He spent two hours organizing his thoughts and ideas into a speech last Monday. He seriously had new plans which I thought sounded appealing. He practiced his speech three times, even allowing Dorito and Winger to toss out questions and comments. He asked for his hair to be trimmed, then he showered and wore all the correct parts of his Scout uniform (including a rope on his belt and flashlight to show he was prepared for anything). He had also done a little politicking with his closest pals and felt certain of their votes. He was not, however, prepared to lose.
His opponent showed up late.
His opponent was not wearing his Scout uniform.
His opponent did not prepare a speech.
So Polar Bear went first, and then the other boy appeared to copy parts of the speech. During Q&A time, he seemed to echo Ben's answers as his own. The vote came out as a tie, but some older boys had written in a fictitious candidate. After the re-vote and loss, Polar Bear stuck it out until the end of the meeting. But there were wet eyes when everyone got home. Such a life lesson for all of us.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Art Class Paints Crucifixion

For our monthly art co-op class, I chose for the older students to copy Fra Angelico's Crucifixion with St. Dominic. I used Ana's suggestion for a close-up cropping of the Sacred Head and its crown of thorns. There were 8 painters + me. Luckily, I had plenty of egg carton cups for mixing paints, and many brushes accumulated over the years of homeschool projects.

This project was great for Lent, and would give them practice in mixing paint colors and sketching a head-down perspective. I was also determined to paint too, and show them my suggestions along the way.
Dorito painted a smaller and more detailed Christ, adding clouds and a ray of sunlight from heaven. He also featured more drops of blood.
Polar Bear worked on his longer once we got home, changing the once too-skinny arms to better reflect the overall scale. Plus he made a shinier halo and crown with more thorns. Once the paint is dry, it is fairly easy to correct/change.

Winger really enjoyed making a dark blue background, and carefully took his time to fill in the spaces completely.
My own "masterpiece" with a green background instead of blue. The splotch of sunlight is a camera effect, not my painting goof. I must say this was a fun and personally fulfilling class!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Club Adores Jeeves

Monthly book club was a lively affair yesterday as we ate British foods and discussed the comedy of P.G. Wodehouse. I took an amaretto liqueur cake with strawberries and whipped cream, such as Bertie Wooster might eat with his posh friends at the club or race track. Cynthia brought shepherd's pie, Brenda brought cucumber sandwiches, Constance brought quiche, Vee brought Melba toast with smoked Gouda cheese... everything was delightful! We are so fortunate that the library rents us the room for free and allows us to brew tea and share supper during our discussions. Many references were made to history, past books we've read like the butler in "Remains of the Day," WWI leaders, "Downton Abbey," authors like A.A. Milne, and our own comedic parallels in life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Day of Spring

It's the first day of spring (although we have had mild spring weather since January). Meggar says it is a good day to start fresh and try something different. Captain took me for a lunch date at Panera after our Holy Hour. The black bean soup was delicious. The hot tea and pecan twist roll went well with our book.
I read aloud to him from the new short story that Robin sent me "The End of the Alphabet."

Monday, March 19, 2012

Feast of Saint Joseph

He is the patron saint of our city, our family, and our youngest son. We look forward to Saint Joseph's feast day every year!  This morning we were fortunate to drive out to the new convent in Gower, MO, for early mass with the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. Fr. Matthew Barticula said the Tridentine mass, so there were many firsts for us! Lovely singing by the nuns with a gentle breeze coming in the windows and the chirpring of the birds in the background.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Warm Weather

The past two weeks of spring have been as hot as summer weather (78 - 81' F). Hannah and Rebecca played in the hot tub since our pool isn't open yet. The boys played outdoors, too, and told us about Boy Scout College classes. Luckily, "First Aid" is done and it was an Eagle-required merit badge. Next is "Family Life," and it's half-way finished!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

Uncle Carey's family is here for their spring break. We went to the airport to watch the K-State game, and I made reuben sandwiches, of course. Yummy!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Apple of My Eye

I took a homemade apple pie and ice cream over to Mr. Bill, who's recovering from cancer surgery. I think Constance will enjoy it, too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Going Away Parties

There have been a few going-away parties for the Verbick girls this week. And we had a small tea party here. Julia has been taking violin lessons from Winger, and Chloe has been a student of Polar Bear's. Both girls practice and have caught on quickly in just half a year of lessons. Plus their dad pays the twins well every week. I like any excuse for a cup of tea in a china cup with a silver spoon. You may not be able to see the redneck tea cozy on my 2nd pot (it's a well worn clothespin).

(Gift: During the Scout's meeting, I made 5 pages for Lesa and 7 pages for the girls to put in Jodi's scrapbook present.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fiddling for the Library

"The Fiddlers Three" provided entertainment at the Rolling Hills Library event today. They were hosting a kick-off reception for their new Bookmobile (remember those?!). So we donned green bow ties and played dozens of Irish and fiddle tunes. Winger is getting so good on the mandolin. (I'm the accompanist in the background.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Little Dorrit

There is a new series on PBS's website called "Little Dorrit" about the youngest girl of family whose father is in debtor's prison in 1820s. The book by Charles Dickens is said to be fairly autobiographical. Captain and I have enjoyed the first two episodes! Andrew Davies is a fairly good screenwriter (i.e. Pride and Prejudice 1995 and Sense and Sensibility 2008). And the actors make sure to preserve his reputation!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Back to the Studies

Meggar drove with some AGD friends to Panama City for Spring Break.
Meggar's last days of spring break were at home: working at Old Navy, shopping at antique mall, tea parties with friends-- I miss her already!

I helped with the four-year plan so she would pick the right courses and graduate on time.

Hannah helped us finish the tea-bag-decoupaged clipboard. I designed a colorful pattern for the front (oops - forgot photo), and she put all red tea bags on the back with "AGD" letters cut from green and yellow tea bag wrappers. Then several coats of Mod Podge for a high gloss finish. I think Meggar will return to campus as the Pinterest Queen.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Generation Singers

Dorito joined the New Generation Singers at the beginning of the school year. It is an interdenominational youth choir, and he loves it. The group has existed in St. Joseph for 40 years--under the same director and his son. They sing four-part harmony, have a lively praise band for accompaniment, and nearly 100 like-minded teenagers who hang together on Sunday evenings. Dorito volunteered for the Membership Committee and recruited Polar Bear and Winger after Christmas. Tonight was their "Induction Ceremony" and they will receive a leather cross to wear. The Crew enjoys having a solid hour of singing, and the chance to use their strong muscles to set up the risers each week. Sometimes they go for sodas and snacks afterwards. I'm looking forward to the series of Sunday concerts later this spring.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Birthday Party for Twins at 14

Polar Bear and Winger invited their Boy Scout patrol over for a video/slumber party. Six boys joined them last night in the rearranged basement--set up with two gaming stations for Guitar Heroes and the PS3 plus Bubble Hockey and Air Hockey. The gaming room only held their attention for about an hour, then played hacky-sack and air soft guns outdoors for 3 hours because of the great weather. Finally, they settled in for a movie while I cleaned up the food: They ate 5 pizzas, 2 cartons of ice cream with the cake, 2 pounds of Twizzlers, a whole package of Oreos, a bag of Jelly Bellies, and 4 liters of pop. (Sorry it was nothing but junk food.) Tomorrow, we are feeding everyone a hearty breakfast and driving them to Smithville Lake for a campout.
Here's a picture of the candles, which David blew out before Ben had a chance!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Engineering Award

For the first time, I helped one of my students progress from the local science fair to enter the MARSEF: Mid-America Regional Science and Engineering Fair. Dorito spent two days this week refining his reports and presentation, with a little help from me and Mr. Sharp at Hilllyard Technical Center. The competition lasted all afternoon, which meant he gave his talk to five of the circulating judges. He was tired but very glad in the end! He won the US Navy Science Award for his Engineering Project (building and calibrating an electronic multimeter). It came with a medal, certificate, and $50 gift card.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Getting Away

Yesterday Captain took me to Kansas City for a chance to get away and take things easy. My medication for thyroid was switched in December and again in January, and needless to say, I wasn't feeling the best for many weeks. We stayed overnight at the Raphael Hotel, an antique French hotel on the Plaza (now part of Marriott properties). We had dinner at Lidia's (for the first time). I really liked their Trio of Pasta du Jour--even the homemade pear ravioli was good. Captain had the Osso Bucco (he is very predictable). Today we enjoyed a FULL breakfast at the Raphael, complete with Eggs Benedict and Paris tea and a newspaper. Such rare treats for me. Then we strolled around inside the Nelson Art Gallery all afternoon.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Last month, I received a second freelance project through Hobby Lobby. This charter for a new organization in Savannah needed the names of its 13 members written in calligraphy. Such a fun chance to use my creative side and skills learned long ago.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tuesday Night Talk

A couple weeks ago, I spoke at the series of "Tuesday Night Talks" for the Pony Express Museum. I added a hat and gloves to my schoolmarm outfit since it was a special occasion. My slideshow helped explain the ways which our new One-room Schoolhouse was built in old-fashioned style and has authentic furnishings to make it seem 150 years old. I followed up with humorous stories from pioneer schools about the privy, the rattlesnake in the teacher's drawer, the blind horse ridden to school, and the curriculum used in 1860s.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rankings & Statistics

The national rankings came out for February, which is really the end of the hockey season. The twins are pumped that their team moved up to #17 among all 1998-born players. There are 116 teams in their division. This is a great finish from where they started--and it's the highest that Coach Quintin has taken any team so far. I told the boys they personally are really in the top 5 players of their own team and among the top of any of those Tier 1 Elite AAA teams--making them in the top 200 players in the country at age 13. If other people think I have bragged before, it's not true. Captain and I have held back our admiration thinking it was only a personal bias. But we are starting to let ourselves believe they really have what it takes to play U16 and U18 in high school hockey!!
This season, they lost to the #2 team and #8 team and #12 team, but they beat the #15 team twice. They were evenly split with the #20 and #32 team with one win and one loss. Throughout the season at different tournaments, they beat the #38, #51, #55, #56, #58 and #90 teams. So they played good competition.
Their Russell Stover team scored 246 goals this year: Polar Bear had 30 goals and 17 assists, Winger had 22 goals and 23 assists. Two other players scored more goals than them--but one is on their line so he has the same amount of ice time and is more selfish about staying in scoring position and lazier about battling for the puck. The second leading scorer is on a different line so he has more opportunities to score. The top four scorers made up 60% of the goals for the team. Best of all was the compliments from the coach on the final weekend, a private conversation between Polar Bear and JF in Green Bay, and a refund check from the team treasurer for $500. What a fun season!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Men's League for Hockey

Dorito landed a place on a men's league team--he is so excited to play hockey again. The rules do not allow checking in men's league, so there's not the risk of repeating his concussion. Plus he's in the "A Division" which are the better/faster players. One of the college boys who referees hockey invited Dorito since his team was short one player. They will take turns driving to Line Creek Rink in north Kansas City on Sunday evenings. This is an excellent opportunity andn gives Dorito a chance to stay in shape, use his new skates (size 11), and make older friends. I have noticed that my homeschoolers get weary by 11th and 12th grade and start to yearn for more mature social connections and activities.
Dorito has also been invited to advance to a junior level as a referee. Mike Kempis sent him the application for summer camp! He said it is one thing to know the rules of hockey, but it is another to be able to keep up with a AAA game and apply those rules. We believe Reid has a quick eye from watching years of the twins' teams play.
I am praying my thanks to God for these blessings for my son.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Working on Scouting

The twins are still going 90 mph with Boy Scouts. They are still in their first year, but have many plans. For one thing, they wanted to organize their patrol box. They thought of cleaning and repainting it. It holds the pots and pans, utensils, and staples for cooking out. Then they decided it would be better just to build a new one! Assembly done. Primer done. Paint done.
They want to add emblems to the outside before taking it to Smithville Lake next weekend.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Watching the Robots

Took the boys to Kansas City to watch the "First Robotics" competition. Jordan's team was doing pretty well. The challenge was to build a robot that could shoot basketballs and they were given six weeks time frame.
Three robots on each half-court were allowed 2 minutes and 15 seconds to "score" points. There were more than 50 matchups, so teams had lots of chances to go back to the pits and make modifications.
Dorito was impressed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Breaking from Routine

You mess with me, you mess with my mother (who happens to be here today!)

Spring Break starts tomorrow for Meggar and she has made last minute plans with a group of AGD girls. They are driving to Panama City to stay in the time-share of Malory's grandma, which means Meg will need some things from home: swim suit, towel, beach chair, sunscreen. It was a good excuse for me to drive over to Kirksville for lunch with my daughter. The campus library also has a great coffee shop, where we hung out and discussed course options, AGD policies, roomies, and boys. My boys or her boys--they are about the same level of frustration and admiration.