Friday, August 31, 2012

Up Close with the Amish

Our first field trip of the year was today. We went to Jamesport, MO, which boasts having the largest Old Order Amish community west of the Mississippi. Our tour guide has lived there all his life and befriended many of the Amish when they came to settle in 1951.

Jim took us to their one-room school where several ponies were parked out front, to their bakery shop, to the grocery and bulk item store, and inside one of their homes.
There is no electricity, but skylights and kerosene lanterns help. The girls wear the long dresses and caps. They don't drive cars, but use horse and buggy. A married man can no longer shave his beard. Interesting.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Republicans Make Speeches

We have been watching the Republican National Convention via live streaming on the Internet all three nights this week. We heard the most important ones: Ann Romney, Mike Huckabee, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Ryan, and tonight Mitt Romney will speak. Dorito is very interested, although he will not be 18 by November in order to vote. Captain has read more news than I have, so he is able to add important context to our discussions. From what I heard, I liked the philosophies, the plans for the future, the respectful approach, and these one-liners:
"This isn't a battle about contraceptives and Catholics, but of conscience and the Creator," said Huckabee;
"Indeed that is the question of the moment, 'Where does America stand?' said Rice;
"... I can look at your zip code and can tell whether you are going to get a good education," said Rice;
"What did taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt.  That money wasn't just spent and wasted, it was
borrowed, spent and wasted," Ryan said.

"Mitt and I go to different churches. Our faiths come together in the same moral creed," Ryan said.

"And let me make this clear.  Unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class of America," said Romney.

"As president, I'll respect the sanctity of life.  I'll honor the institution of marriage. And I will guarantee America's first liberty, the freedom of religion," Romney said.

The Beat Goes On

Muriel told me she has been to eight fiddle performances at the Living Communities. She has lived at the assisted living/nursing home since it opened, and we have played there many times over the past five years! How wonderful to see her every time, and there is always a large crowd of 40-50 at this Catholic residence home. The boys seemed more talkative than ever between songs (especially Dorito): telling the history of the fiddle music or their own stories about music in the life of a teenager. I was so proud that I treated them to milkshakes at Sonic afterward (half price after 8:30 pm even).
I heard another story about piano accompanists being in high demand. Mrs. Weeks has been hired at a local high school  to accompany the new choir teacher twice a week for "top dollar." I am pleased and just continue to repeat my mantras: "Real music is better than recorded music."and "Keep taking lessons as there are not enough pianists/musicians to support the culture for the next generation."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fans of Churchill

This week's task for my high school students was writing a paper about our visit to the Winston Churchill Museum (where the Iron Curtain speech was delivered). This assignment keeps my students writing (which is good practice) and also counts for a Boy Scout patch (which is good motivation). They didn't complain and they did a fine job.  Note: I always start the year gunning for the required paper topics and essays due to turn into Kolbe Academy for report cards, but never make as strong of a finish toward the end of the year. Let's hope my determination and their enthusiasm continues!
Churchill is quite an amazing figure of fortitude, and one of my all-time favorites. A little books his quotes sits beside my computer monitor for inspiration and humor. "Prime Minister Chamberlain looked at foreign affairs through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe."

We do not own a bust of Churchill, and if we did, I would not send it back. (Apparently this is only an urban legend as the British Embassy loaned the bust to Bush Jr. and it was sent back when he was not re-elected. What a pity.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Enrichment Classes

Trust me, we get plenty of socialization enrichment while homeschooling. On Tuesdays, we meet up with the St. Joseph Homeschool Co-op for high school choir. It's being held in the "ancient" First Baptist Church in downtown St. Joseph this semester. It's a very pretty and remarkable 125-year- old building. Afterward the boys walked over to Taco Bell to hang out with some friends. Dorito can drive them, so I love Tuesday afternoon's schedule. Dorito has also joined the college orchestra (which meets on Monday evenings). And all three boys are playing in a Chamber Ensemble, which practices on Wednesday evenings. They teach a few violin students on Thursdays, plus attend dance practice and help with Scouting events. Seems like we are getting back in the full swing of our academic year.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Muscle Shirts

The twins took a couple of old t-shirts and cut off the sleeves and enlarged the arm holes... you know, to make muscle shirts. They wore them yesterday to their first weekend of hockey practice in Des Moines. They wore them today to the workout center, where they meet Taylor for cross training. I tried to hide my smile. They do have bigger muscles than when they started earlier this summer. Their coach even noticed their strength on the ice as they won every foot race far and above their old teammates. Since Taylor was a college hockey player, they are very motivated to work hard for him.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Old Webster House

Constance told me about this beautiful restaurant more than a year ago. I didn't realize that I had been there before... until we drove up. The building used to be a school in 1881, and I had been there when it was an art gallery in 1990. Today, it is owned by Mrs. Helzburg and offers gourmet dining right next to the KC Symphony's new performing arts center.
There is also a good number of antiques for sale throughout the three stories. But most importantly, we enjoyed a good meal with the Gosselins: one who is a pilot and one who is a homeschool mom. (We have a few things in common.) I had the lamb kebab on cous cous, while Captain ate a rib eye with bleu cheese butter on top. The peach cobbler was big enough to share, and the coffee was a special blend from The Roasterie. The Groupon I had purchased took care of a nice bottle of red wine. Such a delightful dinner.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


I worked diligently on the high school transcript for Dorito this weekend. To start with, you must understand the source of paperwork. Over the years, I have saved every single piece of paper from homeschooling. Day by day, I shove it into a file folder with the child's name. At the end of May, I cram the four folders into a box that's labeled for that year. Since I have been homeschooling for 15 years, there could be 15 boxes in my attic. But once Meggar entered high school, I had to do a better job of sorting and storing my records. So I first collected the grade school years and compiled one box for each child that contained all their folders from K-8! That was a huge step of progress, made about four years ago, but I've done nothing since then. I was looking for some 8th grade math for Dorito (Algebra I is done a year early in our family) and couldn't find it where I suspected it to be. So I went up to the attic and stumbled upon one stray box from 2004. Plus I found another box full of artwork from all my children (lovely reminisces). These were duly sorted and I can move on to the 9th, 10th, and 11th grade papers..............

Friday, August 24, 2012

College Friends Stay Connected

Captain had a doctor's appointment in Lawrence, and I was glad for an opportunity to meet up with Robin for lunch. She and I were in journalism school together at K-State, and can always pick up where we left off. She just returned from a trip to Paris with her husband, and showed us her spacious, new house. We ate downtown in the trendy bistro called "715," which has a friendly staff and a delicious menu. Wish we had more time...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Writing Papers in High School

My boys don't especially like to write papers for high school. (Same as other boys, right?!) But I'm always tickled to see how their individual styles come through when they do. I gave them an easier assignment than the syllabus listed ("Explain the characteristics of a Greek epic poem"), and I chose instead to have them write a report for the "Stewards of the Lewis & Clark Trail" in St. Louis. Since we  visited three historic sites last month with Fabian, each boy could write their impressions and new things they learned in order to mail off for a new Boy Scout patch. It sure feels like a good start to our academic year!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Moving in at Truman State

Dorito took a second car load of appliances to Truman State and helped Meggar move into the dorms. She "needed" a mini fridge, microwave, small George Foreman grill, coffee pot, lamp stand, hall tree, and carpet remnant. Plus the clothes and SHOES! (just kidding) This year, she has her dorm room all to herself--for an extra charge of $750 per semester. Not bad for buying out: you can avoid the troubles with roommates and gain a little privacy/security/peace. She will share a bathroom with two AGD girls in the opposite suite, and they are nice as can be.
Here's a photo of the chandelier she made for her new room. More photos to come (right, Meggar?)...
Dorito certainly felt "older" by going to the college campus alone. He misses Meggar during the school term, especially since the twins have each other. Dorito helped her rearrange the furniture, and later they were hanging out at Spencer's fraternity for an open mixer party. Meggar was supposed to get him off to bed early (since she has two beds in her dorm room) but at least he got a little peek into college life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Columbian Theme at Book Club

"Chronicle of a Death Foretold" was not an easy book to read. Despite its novella length of less than 100 pages, its story line hauntingly tells about the murder of a seemingly innocent man and the inability of any friend to warn him. Not even his mother was able to prevent his death. Our discussion was varied--Caroline lived for a while in Mexico and felt the cultural prejudices were accurate. She also told us it was a true story from 1951 and Marquez was friends with the deceased, killed by twin brothers who were duty-bound in the wake of their family's disgrace.
We wondered at the plethora of un-coincidences, the author's journalistic background compelling him to search for truthful accounts, and the eternal question: Who was the culprit Angela didn't name? I guess the tamales, freshly fried chips, chipotle salsa, and Tres Leche Cake are all we can rely upon to fill in the gaps!

Yearbooks and Pool Party

We hosted the high schoolers for a Pool Party this afternoon, and they came to get their first peek at the yearbook! Sharon is so wonderful to head this up for our group. It was a hot, sunny afternoon (perfect!) and some of the moms even played a little badminton in the shady part of the back yard. It reminds me how blessed we are to have the pool working this summer.
Dorito has had several pool parties since he has been home, plus I hosted the Catholic homeschoolers for a pool party last week so we could plan our schedule of potlucks, field trips, and art co-op classes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Day of High School

The two freshmen didn't want to get up early, but they did anyway. They were not greeted with name tags and straightened desks in the school room -- like I have done in the past. They saw piles of mess: paperwork, vacation photos, sewing projects, etc. Cheerfully I helped them clear a spot, and we tackled Saxon Geometry and ignored our imperfect surroundings. Not bad on Lesson 1, so we progressed into Homer's Iliad. (I love the maps and characters in the first book.) Not bad either. So we pressed on with Physical Science. Now that was fun! We used the interactive CD and completed the first experiment by making copper hydrocarbonate in less than 10 minutes. You may not be able to see the bubbles in my photo, but the copper wire was turning green right away! After bacon sandwiches for lunch, I helped Dorito with his practice ACT test for two hours. My brain is a bit tired, and we didn't even dig out the Henle Latin or "The Hobbit" yet. See why I was looking forward to 9th grade for the third time?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

More Birthday Wishes!

Captain had lemon cake on Saturday night (with the girls) and again on Sunday afternoon (with the boys). First time, there was even a candle on top!
My present was glass sundae dishes, like he enjoyed as a kid!

Final Packing & Thoughts on College

Meggar put in her last day of babysitting Friday. Mrs. Partamian ordered her two Catholic books to take back to college saying, "College is often similar to a mid-life crisis, and you need all the serenity you can get!" (clever) Yesterday, we sorted and packed more clothes and shoes. We put the finishing touches on glittery and beaded craft projects for the dorm room. (Very worthy of Pinterest!) Finally, we went to Emily's wedding at Red Barn Farm and talked about the 20-somethings getting married this summer.
I like any excuse to talk about guiding principles for life, and Meggar likes any excuse to talk about ideas to share with Jen, the wedding planner. Our friend Hannah looked awesome in her deep-gray Maid of Honor dress. She and Meggar put on an excellent shower for Emily earlier this summer.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Captain's Birthday!

Dorito likes to say that Captain is turning 21 for the second time, but add five years to that. A fluffy lemon cake from the airport caterer is always welcome in the August heat. Captain also wanted me to point out that he caught a SECOND and LARGER fish late last week, in hopes that any wives who ready my blog will show their husbands this photo. John, the fishing guide, was the only one wearing the right gloves that could hold the slippery monster. It took over 15 minutes to reel in this Northern Pike who is likely 80 years old! Captain will have a great story for Fr. Benjamin tomorrow!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Breakfast at Boon Fly Cafe

Another tradition is eating breakfast at the Boon Fly Cafe on our final day before driving to the airport. Named after a Missouri farmer, Mr. Boon Fly (who was probably named for Daniel Boone who helped settled Missouri) came to this land during the Gold Rush.
Located in a big red barn, their menu features farm-hand-sized portions. (I should be a travel writer on the side?) I ordered my favorite--Eggs Benedict, which came on rustic homemade bread with a thick slab of ham and jalapeno-seasoned Hollandaise sauce (flavor pop!). Captain had the flapjacks and eggs with a heaping pile of crispy hashbrowns and fresh-squeezed orange juice. We were too full to walk, but that made for a pleasant drive and conversation.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Finding a New Winery

During dinner last night, we enjoyed the waiter's recommendation for a Pinot Noir that we decided to drive to that winery today and buy some more. 
Lynmar Vineyards is a stretch from Napa, but it features a catered picnic lunch with their wine tasting in this beautiful courtyard setting.The camera crew took our picture in the kitchen garden!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

An Annual Meeting

Captain and I are meeting up today in Sacramento and driving to Napa Valley for our annual California getaway. It's nice to count on this annual trip right before school starts. He texted and said he already had an appointment for my manicure, massage, and dinner at Brix! (Spoiling the teacher can get you a good grade.) We like to sit on their restaurant's patio and watch the sun set behind the hills covered with vineyards. Tomorrow we will venture to St. Clement, our other standby for restocking the wine racks at home.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What To Do With Piano

These two ideas show clever uses for old pianos. I think Pinterest users would be proud. We've been talking a lot about piano here, and Meggar wants to change teachers for her junior year and try the visiting Russian professor. She is looking forward to less piano and more education courses as she heads back to college this week.

She did miserably on her fourth (and final) section of Music Theory last spring with that grumpy professor, but four classes of summer school with straight As brought up her GPA and will lighten her load. This fall, she will begin 60 hours of classroom observation and see what the realm of American public education is all about.

Monday, August 13, 2012

National Youth Leadership Training-Part 2

Winger and Polarbear finished the two-weekend training sessions for Boy Scouts called NYLT. (See Dorito and another staffer in the background?) Dorito had the best chants, such as "Never Yell Laffy Taffy" plus skits, team-building, and the fun of campout cooking. One adult commented on the natural leadership qualities of my sons. I think it is a blessing to have such God-given gifts in their personalities, and I will continue to believe they can thrive because of my educational philosophy at home.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Farm Wedding with Violins

The three boys played their violins for the first time during a wedding last night. They were hired because their teacher (the best man) had recommended them. Mr. Jarrett's cousin was married to his bride at an outdoor ceremony on his grandparent's farm near Cosby, MO. The farmstead was originally settled in 1844 and sits at the end of a dusty, gravel road about 30 minutes from St. Joe. The Schmidlings played beforehand and afterward, as well as classical songs for the processional, unity candle, and recessional. The family had arranged 200 chairs by the pond with white slip-covers and teal bows, plus the dock and pergola were strewn with flowers. Lovely setting. My trio looked very classy in their tuxedoes and sounded so professional!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday with Will

Nothing planned on a Friday night?! How fortuitous that Mr. & Mrs. Brown hosted a William Shakespeare night in their Victorian mansion. This was a follow-up to Alison's successful reading nights last winter of the play "A Comedy of Errors." Tonight, Meggar was my date, and we shared a copy of "Antony & Cleopatra" for the reading alongside the Browns, Bachmans, and Schiebers. It's easier to tackle Will's Old English iambic pentameter after a glass of wine. There was also a variety of snacks and sweets to make the evening completely fulfilling for body, mind, and soul.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Trash v. Treasure?!

I like going to garage sales. I do. There are bargains if you know what you're needing/looking for. At this point in the summer, I am ready to get organized (i.e. discard extra trash stuff). Meggar doesn't need so many clothes or necklaces or projects in her "to be crafted" stash. The boys don't need so many electronics either. I was glad to see them matching chargers with old phones and old Nintendo gaming devices. We opened at 7:00 a.m. with eight working electronic gadgets and many others just as "parts" for sale. By noon, we had gotten rid of half!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gone Fishin' to Boundary Waters

Captain landed a Northern Pike today that was 10 pounds and over 30 inches long! He and Clif are on their annual fishing trip to Canada and met up again with their favorite guide, John Monteith. John is a hockey fan and even had Mike Richards for a paper boy! (The stories are getting bigger every year?!) The fishing is good this year--they are bringing home some frozen filets.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wedding Plans

The boys rehearsed long hours today on music for their first wedding performance this Saturday. Their lesson with Mr. Jarrett went very well, too!  Dorito was such a trooper to play for over an hour despite his sore mouth. (He slept on the way home.)  I think they liked making progress on the new Vivaldi quartet, even though they hadn't practiced it very much. Some weeks you can get by on talent alone... (sometimes)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thinking about the polls

I worked all day at the polls. Rising early to be there at 5:30 a.m. was tough, sitting on a metal folding chair for 13 hours was tough, watching a small voter turnout was toughest of all. Lager lost to Kinder (who admitted to hiring a prostitute), Steelman and Brunner lost to Akin (who will face Senator McCaskill), and the state constitution now includes a right-to-pray amendment.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Round Two with Wisdom Teeth

This week is Dorito's turn to get all four wisdom teeth out. Dr. Jungbluth is a nice surgeon, and I think that makes it better somehow. We are back home and eating mashed potatoes and milk shakes. Meggar says wait until tomorrow when the soreness sets in, but so far Dorito is not as swollen nor in as much pain as she was.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Awards at Pow Wow

All the hard work paid off -- the twins spent all last week
adding fluffs and hackles to their back bustles. At Pow Wow last night, Polar Bear won First Place and Winger won Second Place among all the Braves for the "Fancy" costume category. Then, Polar Bear won First Place and Winger won Second Place among Braves in the "Fancy" dancing contest. Ben says he is just a better dancer! :-)
Northern Spirit, who is a Tom Tom Beater, was most excited about the new 8-foot drum donated from Bartle. And camping in Tapper Valley with his friends and "Shotgun."
(Now would somebody clean up the MESS of feathers and hot glue and string and beads off my basement floor?)

All in the Details

I wanted to show the mini wedding cake topper I made for the gift package. Using three upcycled bottle caps and string pearls, I decorated the three tiers and added a lace doilie. (Note: The original inspiration comes from an American Girl Mini Craft book showing how to make items for playing dolls.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Properly Dressed for Wedding

Like the British, I feel hats are never so appropriate as at weddings. We drove to Sedalia today for the wedding of Heather to Timothy, the oldest son of our friends Kathy and Brad. It was also significant because Meggar made her "debut" with Spencer amongst the dozen or so homeschooling families in attendance. The wedding was perfectly charming and very meaningful.
Glad we could show our support!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Impromptu Breakfast

I told Captain that I was making breakfast for Lesa and the girls. He was surprised since they had moved to Detroit in April and came back for a house-selling visit at Fourth of July. But he is out-of-town on an 8-day trip and hadn't heard the news. Lesa was back in St. Joe to assist her mom with recovery from heart surgery. She needed a break, and I knew my house would be quiet in the morning:  boys who stay up too late working on Mic-o-say costumes tend to sleep in -- plus -- Meggar likes to sleep in on her Fridays off. Lesa brought coffee cake. I made scones, hashbrowns, eggs, and tea. Lots of tea.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chick-fil-A Runneth Over

The appreciation for Chick-fil-A yesterday was non-stop. Meggar took the three kids she babysits at lunch time. They stood in line for 30 mintues to order, and then waited 30 more minutes to receive their food. But she had fun seeing several friends who were also there. I took my three boys after hockey practice to the C.F.A. restaurant near the rink (about 4:30 pm). We were in the drive-thru lane for about 20 minutes. I heard that most stores ran out of chicken before closing time. We're glad to help with the record-setting day!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012