Thursday, May 31, 2012

Government Review

Meggar is taking some summer school courses to lighten the load next semester. Since the tuition is the same whether you take 3 - 9 hours, she added a One-credit Government Course which is required for all graduates. The chapters were short, and each had a 10-question online quiz. She did half yesterday and then finished up the rest today. Easy A!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

National Spelling Bee

We watched the first day of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN3. It was fun to listen to the preliminary round's words/definitions as we went about our morning chores. And we saw our homeschool friend (Maria) who was Speller 226 (Basmati was her first word)-- that was exciting! Can you believe there was also a 6-year-old who qualified?! The word list definitely interested me, so I found it challenging and rewarding just to listen. Back in the day, I was school champion but only County Runner-up. Living near Topeka, my mom took me to Washburn to see my friends who made it to the State Bee. 2012 Semi-finals are Thursday, and the round final round is Thursday night.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Afternoon Tea was Nothing Shabby

Alison booked a reservation for Afternoon Tea at Shabby Hattie's in Parkville. It was my first visit -- as well as for she and Emma plus Maureen and her daughter. It was the real deal!
A pot of "Queen Mary" for me. A first course of chunky tomato soup with a cheese scone. A middle course with two savories, plus chicken salad on croissant, and some Caesar Salad in won ton cup (great idea). On the top tier, a dessert course of cranberry-white-chocolate scone plus coconut pound cake. Light and sweet! I will have to go there when Meggar has a day off work!

(Caveat: The owners seem grumpy and can hardly say two words--but their homemade food and atmosphere are as fabulous as any you could wish for.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Finding Things that Pinterest You

I was interested, but had been putting it off. Meggar gave me a tutorial today on Pinterest, and now I have a board to "pin up" my ideas and interesting pictures from other people around the world!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cleaning on the Sabbath

Even though we don't believe in "working" on the Sabbath, I took advantage of Captain being at home to help me sort through the storage room in the basement. We needed to make room for all the extra STUFF that Meggar brought home for the college break. *Sigh* In about three hours, we had consolidated, reboxed, labeled, and restacked our own stuff related to Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and Halloween. That left only 6 more boxes of homeschool papers for me to sort later this summer (meaning six year's worth). I just can't bear to part with anything until it is properly sorted, labeled, reboxed--well, you get the idea. Success!
After our little project, we shared some Parmesan Chicken Pizza and wine out on the patio (yum!) Then we watched another episode of our newest favorite series on Masterpiece Theatre -- a modernized Sherlock Holmes. Note: Season One is on NetFlix Watch Instantly, and Season Two is on link in case no one told you either. I'm fascinated by it. "The game is on...."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Good Food on the Weekends

My trip to the farmer's market means I finally have rosemary, chives, and lavendar again the herb bed outside the kitchen window. Perfect for adding to omelettes or egg salad sandwiches (which I shared with Meggar). Top it off with romaine lettuce from Tracy--so delicious.
Meanwhile, Dorito took Captain to Oklahoma Joe's for his first visit, and I heard that it was worth the 45 minute wait to get inside the 13th best 'hole in the wall' restaurant in the world. Here's a picture of the burnt ends sandwich with side of onion rings. Dorito ate the usual. Oh man!

Friday, May 25, 2012

8th Graders Set to Graduate

Last night, the twins and Captain went to the Father-Son Graduation Dinner for 8th grade homeschoolers at San Jose Steakhouse. I had reserved the back room for them, in keeping with a tradition we had started with both our older kids. Two diplomas were calligraphied and laminated (shown). Captain also found a poem to read along with a few wise words about being mature enough for high school. We have already gifted them with wrist watches, and they each chose a different style in keeping with their aim to no longer be "identical" type twins. Today they completed all their Algebra so they are officially graduated! Yea! But that means I am left without grade schoolers any more... I truly loved teaching middle school--now can I bear to part with the books and materials?!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Met Willa Cather at the KC Library

Her dress was burgundy velvet with pink satin collar and cuffs. Her hat had an ermine fur band and feathers on two sides. Her pose and mannerisms were the same as this portrait of the famous author from Red Cloud, Nebraska. Crosby Kemper III interviewed Willa Cather (nee Jan Chapman) for KCPT at the Downtown Library to a packed audience, which included three of us from Book Club. How wonderful that she mentions her admiration for Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare, and Homer. How timely that our book club is reading "My Antonia" for June.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

KC Symphony Tickets

Alison gave us two free tickets to the KC Symphony, so Dorito and I got our first peek of Helzberg Hall! Luckily, Dale was already driving to KC for hockey practice with the twins, and he could easily drop us off. The interior environment is magical with its glass-walled lobby overlooking KC skyline, and a blond paneled auditorium with excellent acoustics. We applauded the "Helzberg Jewel" concerto written in honor of the Hall's major donors. Next was a stunning concerto played by the Young Artist Competition winner--a 15-year-old Russian girl whose violin technique was flawless. Later came  an organ solo with the organist playing from the loft 30-feet above the stage floor. After the fun Slavic Dances, they final number was "Church Windows," a reverent and appropriate ending.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mosaics of Mary for Art Co-op

Our last homeschool co-op started with potluck lunch (yummy) and ended with a pinata (fun).  My art project for students was to create a mosaic of the Blessed Mother during her special month of May.

My inspiration came from the mosaics which are beautifully pictured in a poetry book given to me by Aunt Barbara and are found in the Clyde Monastery. Those Missouri nuns are known for baking Communion wafers and for their relic chapel.

All the kids started off very enthusiastically cutting and gluing squares, but after half-an-hour they complained, "This is hard to finish" and "It doesn't look very good." But I assured them that art appreciation is partly about experiencing different mediums and partly about recognizing how hard the gifted artists did work to make their masterpieces.

Here is Winger's mosaic.
 Here is Dorito's mosaic. (Polar Bear's mosaic is not finished yet.)

Picking up candies.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chicken with a Spring Flavor

Mint was the only herb that survived last year's backyard repairs. Which worked out well for my recipe tonight. Mangoes were on sale at HyVee this week, and I had a baked chicken in mind for an easy dinner. With my handy iPad on the kitchen counter, I searched for Mango Salsa and it yielded a yummy combination of onions, cilantro, mango, and mint. Refreshing favors for our spring-time meal! The fresh flavors were making my mouth water, and I realized the taste could easily be mixed with rum and Sprite for a mango mojito. But there wasn't enough mango left for making an after-dinner drink.

Meg at Glory! Conference

Meggar is attending the first annual Glory! Catholic Conference for Collegians sponsored by Mysterium (home of Marian Grace, Catholic music group of Jimmy and Colleen). Meg drove through St. Louis and spent a couple of days with college friends, and now she is Nashville for four days of truth, beauty, and goodness. She called because the speakers (truth) on the first day were excellent: a Dominican sister who dwelt on the Catechism, an Alburquerque priest who taught Gregorian Chant, and awesome musicians throughout. There are 60 in attendance at the downtown Cathedral (beauty), and she has housing provided (goodness) by a bachelor who was going out-of-town anyway. Three other girls are sharing housing and the commute and their hearts with her.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wine Tasting at Jowler Creek

The fine sunny weather drew us out to the picnic tables surrounding the Jowler Creek Winery Tasting Room. Robertsons joined us for the Traminette Release--but really it was both of our's first time to the Missouri boutique winery.

They offer free tasting that includes 7-8 vintages. They have cute critters on their glasses, and cute young 'us running around with the chickens. We chose a dry white bottle to drink together and catch up on various topics of the day. Now we can really relax and enjoy the Spring Violin Recital for all three boys.

Homeschool Vocations

Fr. Ben Kneib celebrated his first mass at the altar of St. James today. This homeschool boy from our parish is going to make a fine priest!  Many homeschool families came to the reception afterwards showing clearly the blessing of big families. (I wore a hat, because it is like a wedding as the priest is now married to the Church and lays down his life for Her.)
How wonderful also that my boys could hear the homily by Fr. Christian Malewski about answering "the call" to a challenging and wonder-filled life. This prompted much discussion later at family prayers and bedtime.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Easy Off

The worst thing about a double oven is cleaning BOTH the top and bottom. After one can of Easy Off and two SOS pads, all three racks plus the doors and sides are shiny again. My "self clean" feature broke as soon as we moved into the house eight years ago, so I use elbow grease and hot water instead. It's not a pleasant (greasy) job, but it feels like a BIG accomplishment (even if I only tackle it once a year). The main culprits are apple/blackberry pies (which I tend to overfill) and Ina Garten's Sunday Rib Roast. The Fly Lady's philosophy of giving 15 minutes to a cleaning task didn't quite apply today, but it did motivate me to do ONE thing and then be pleased with it!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Time for Friends

The last two days, I squeezed in a cup of coffee with Alison, a short chat with Lesa, tea in the shade with Jodi, and dinner on the patio with Constance. Whether the drink is hot or the food is good--that  doesn't matter as much as the time invested with friends. I have seen how kindness can accumulate, and I am grateful for these girly friends.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making Art is Important

 We took another field trip/art class at the Nelson-Atkins Gallery of Art in Kansas City today. The boys made landscape collages with torn paper, pastels, and paint. Dorito added the Eiffel Tower beyond the mountains :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Teaching Courtship through "Duck Dynasty"

Captain found the TV episodes of "Duck Dynasty" on the internet for us after catching them in his hotel room on A&E for the first time. Hilarious! The Louisiana family has made a fortune and reputation by making homemade duck calls. Now their reality show is focused on their extended family (kinda red-neck) who take each day with common sense and humor--which appeals to us! We all laughed and laughed over "Beau," the new "beau" of the 14-year-old daughter, passing inspection by hunting with her dad and uncle before the school dance. Good message! Now don't be calling me Miss Kay, y'all.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Queen's Jubilee Craft at Book Club

 I devised a tea bag craft  as a commemorative book mark in honor of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. The celebrations in Britain have already begun in advance of her 60th anniversary on the throne June 3, 2012.
There was an ornament in the Jane Austen Centre gift shoppe online, plus I wanted to use some postage stamps from my pen pals in England (I have kept all of the letters since 1989)...
So I imagined a felt-stylized tea bag with a crown on the front and a Union Jack on the back, and we attached the postage stamps with embroidery flass to represent the tag. Such fun results! Instead of diamonds, we used pretty buttons.
This went well with our book club discussion of the Scottish spy novel "The Thirty-Nine Steps" by John Buchan. He was one of the earliest "man-on-the-run-plot" writers with plenty of double backs, twists, and improbable turns. Hitchcock turned it into a famous movie (1935) and borrowed many of Buchan plot devices for other films.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Strength Training

The twins are actually enjoying their weights workout with Taylor Kennedy, a USHL hockey player from St. Joseph. He pushes them with a routine of stairs, arm curls, sit ups, wall squats, and so forth two or three days a week. Then when school is out, they will do the regime on their own.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy on Mother's Day

Look like twins? Like sisters? Me and my daughter on Mother's Day! I was pleased how Grandma Judy's sweater matched my spring-time dress with a pretty Easter bonnet. Megan was going to wear her pink hat, but decided she preferred her blue dress this week. My goal is to wear a hat every Sunday in May.
After church, we treated ourselves to ham, egg, and Brie crepes.  Haven't tried them since Aliette cooked for us in Paris. I found this recipe site helpful and I rolled them instead of squares or triangle-folds. Dorito was more interested in a strawberry crepe.
Did I mention that I had four flats of strawberries flown in from California yesterday? Captain has a favorite roadside stand, and now I'm looking at 48 pints of big, red-right-through, juicy super fruits. Plenty for shortcake this week and next. Some in the freezer to capture the flavor of sunshine. Some into jam perhaps?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Talking about Marriage

The regular speaker was sick, so Ms. Pat called and asked me to come to the Engaged Couples Weekend to give the NFP talk (about sexuality and natural family planning). I don't have a certification, but I have four children and 22 years of experience (both good and bad). The good wins out every time. Captain and I live month-to-month without the health risks of artificial contraception and steroids, and we find more opportunities for meaningful conversation and fun activities outside of the bedroom. Living out the theology of the body in marriage doesn't mean there's total control, but there is LOVE -- and I hope I was able to plant a seed of beauty and hope among these young couples. For Jesus says: "Whoever lives in love, lives in God, and God in them." (1 John 4:16)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Piano Accompanist

Meggar provided background music at the reception yesterday for Women of Excellence nominees and nominators. She always does a lovely job, once she gets started with Chopin and Debussy and Liszt. She was a little nervous, the piano was very old and decrepit, and I suspect that she views her piano-playing as a "nerdy" skill. How I wish that she could be convinced of its treasure! Dorito complimented her dress with my shoes by saying, "You look as pretty as a vase of flowers." How nice that Alison and Vee came to listen and chat with me!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Same Sex Marriage is not Catholic

Same-sex marriage is in the news because of Obama's newly-found support of this "right." Meggar and I had a good discussion about the difference between discrimination against homosexuals because of their orientation, and what is proper for the protection of innocent young people from a homosexual lifestyle. Meanwhile, I saw Nancy Pelosi's comments. She is so arrogant: "My religion has, compels me--and I love it for it--to be against discrimination of any kind in our country, and I consider this a form of discrimination. I think it’s unconstitutional on top of that."
Dorito and I enjoyed this blog response from National Catholic Register:
Remember this is the Pelosi who brought up St. Augustine in her defense of abortion. There's a quote from that great saint that I think she should maybe peruse again:
“If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself.”

Dorito and I are finishing up "Confessions" by St. Augustine for 11th grade homeschool.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Preparing for the Queen

The Queen of England is celebrating 60 years on the throne next month, so I think our "Jane Austen Book Club" will need to help celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. (Great hat by the way.) Our meeting is next Tuesday, and we are discussing an English "shocker" called "The Thirty-Nine Steps" which is fun all by itself. In preparation, I bought some Union Jack paper plates at the "Brits" store in Lawrence.
Megan said she would help me figure out a craft -- we like this embroidered crown but will look more on Pinterest. I'm still in a dilemma about what to bake for treats. Perhaps some apricot-brandy bread, filled with English black walnuts to tie in with the "Blackstone" conspirators. Probably shortbread cookies. PG Tips tea, of course.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Honey Do List

Captain has been home a bit more from his normal schedule, and he's been SO productive! In addition to cleaning and filling the pool, he took care of the two big limbs we lost in a recent wind storm. With his chain saw and help from the twins, they were piled high in the trailer and hauled off today (finally). Who knew that a trailer would be a useful purchase for a city-family? He talked me into one years ago. Captain and Dorito also repaired the fence and gate sections whose hinges broke in the high winds. Then he helped me clean up 12 bags of leaves and replant some flower beds in the back yard. The progress is noticable when I look out my kitchen window. I think my lithrum will recover and the newly rooted stalks will help fill in the borders. Lastly, he repainted the entire basement after our drywall had been replaced. Fresh paint covers a myriad of hand prints, bumps, and scrapes in the stairwell and school room! (Ahhh. A contented sigh)

Monday, May 7, 2012

"Home" Means Fried Chicken

Meggar's home again!! That means we need good, old-fashioned meals like fried chicken with all the fixin's like mashed potatoes, gravy, rolls, coleslaw, peach iced tea, and strawberry shortcake for dessert.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Crafting: Pi Phi Invites

I couldn't resist the chance to make homemade/scrapbookish cards for the upcoming Pi Phi luncheon for our "Golden Arrow" award recipient.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pool Preparations

After two years of waiting out the repairs, the pool's walls were terribly icky. But Captain and his power-washer had it back to blue in no time at all. The pool is starting to fill up now with clean water! The boys can hardly wait to jump in -- especially with the 90-degree temperature today.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Concerto for Hospice Benefit

First Fridays mean something devotional for Catholics, but in the Power & Light District it spells Free Arts, including another concerto performance by Mr. Jarrett's studio.
Great venue!

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Captain said it best:  "The priest shortage is just like the musician shortage"  --both come from a lack of support within young families and both are causing damage to the Catholic Church and its ability to impact the culture.  There are fewer and fewer Catholics in the pews on a regular basis (at least among all the parishes in our city).