Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hockey Players Doing Well

Winger #12 is an animal on the ice--going his hardest to get to the puck first, leaning in to win face-offs, and making good playmaker passes.
Polar Bear #9 is dishing out his snarky comments, getting in the heads of opponents, and making goals like a sniper. The speed is faster than last year, so we are pleased with the competition. The schedule is one of the toughest of any other ranked team (playing almost entirely against Top 25 teams). Our Russell Stover '98 team is starting with a rank of #17 in their age group. This weekend, they beat the #23 team three times (Team Wisconsin). Over in St. Louis, they lost to the #6 and #15 teams, but also beat the #11 team. Winger has to play center on the second line (which doesn't score as often) but also is the defender on power plays. Polar Bear is second leader scorer and loves being on the first line. I wish they were together...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A True Hockey Sister

A true hockey sister comes before the face off and brings a heavy jacket to wear (despite the 79' F temp outside). Meggar even brought a blanket! and she brought Spencer to watch, too. What a fun day: two wins, soup at Panera, shopping, Buffalo Wild Wings, and laughs at old photos. We might have teased her a bit too much, but we were all very pleased that she made the long drive to Des Moines today.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kitchen Endeavors

Meggar asked for my famous Curried Butternut Squash Soup, plus Dorito had a friend coming over for lunch. So I made a big batch in my "new" tall stockpot with my "new" hand-held blender (thanks to Angela's garage sale).
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
3 c. chicken broth
1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 T. butter
1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 T. curry powder
1 t. rosemary, fresh, chopped
1 T. flour
1/2 c. half-and-half
salt and pepper
Boil chicken broth, and add squash to simmer until tender (about 15 minutes). Meanwhile, sauté onions in butter. Add spices and flour and warm thoroughly. Add to soup pot. Cook until thickened. Use hand blender to purée or blend small batches of soup in food processor (caution needed with hot soup). Return to pot and reheat. Add half-and -half and salt and pepper to taste. Freezes well for your favorite college student.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Aunt Mary's Visit

Aunt Mary is visiting from Minnesota, so we invited her to violin lessons and ensemble rehearsal yesterday. She was delighted to meet us in Farley, MO, and proceeded to tell us her memories of going to school there in K-2nd grades. She said it was always the post office in that same location, plus the general store. Her father's parents lived on the north end of Main Street (up the hill) and farmed some ground down in the bottoms. There is a road named after the Kiskers. (It's also quite near the vineyard where the harvest happened this week.) She is a great one for stories and family news. (Shown here with Gr. Don, Captain, and four of his sisters.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Elbow Injury

Winger banged his elbow on the ice at the end of practice last night-Ouch! He was doing a 3-on-3 drill and got shoved backwards just enough so that as he fell his elbow pad slid down... and he landed hard on the right elbow! We went to the emergency room in St. Joseph at 10 pm and got out at midnight, but it wasn't broken. Just badly swollen.
The waiting room was quite a reality show--people who were not injured or sick kept showing up. One older man said the nurses all know him by name because he is there so frequently. Didn't seem unwell during our entire one-hour wait. Another teenager with a sprained ankle was there with his mom, brother, girl friend, plus the man from next door (?). Then he called and 5-6 of his buddies started showing up to "visit" him. One had no shirt on. One had no shoes on. Most had tattooes. Two were pestering the check-in-desk attendant for free cans of soda. I guess that is part of the system, at least at Heartland Hospital, and they know how to work the system. This was their hang-out place for an evening. It was probably entertaining on some level...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Working the Grape Harvest

The twins and the Brooke boys helped harvest about 4 tons of grapes yesterday and today. Mr. Hollingsworth pays well enough that the moms were even hired on for the nearly-10-hour task. Pleasant weather to be out in the vineyard. Like Polar Bear said, "It makes you hungrier than usual." and Winger added: "The time goes by quicker than you think."

Monday, September 24, 2012

First Day of School

Although we officially started school one month ago, I finally took the traditional photos for St. Thomas More Homeschool:
Winger is a freshman (9th grade), and his Twitter nickname is "Snipes 12" for his hockey number and "stealing" goals from the goalies;

Polar Bear is also a freshman (9th grade), with noticably shorter hair than his twin, and tribal symbols on his name plate which stand for "Prairie Spirit;"

Dorito is a senior (12th grade) and loves that it is his final year in my homeschool. He is the only one without a new name plate for his desk, which I could have tidied up before the camera came around.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Photos from AGD Rush


Meggar was busy the last couple of weeks with AGD Rush Recruitment. She was in charge of the Pref Night Party--everything was black and white (chair bows, twinkle lights, cheesecake with fudge sauce) to accent their red formal dresses. The ceremony of roses was a tear-jerker, she said. Luckily we found the yellow paper lanterns, which had been shipped from Indonesia to Chicago on accident. By calling the phone number of the woman who signed for the package, I was able to persuade her to ship them straight on to Kirksville just three days before the party!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekend Wrap-up

Like the radio news programmes do, I would like to offer a variety of all things considered:
1. Ann Romney has a Pinterest account. And among her first 25 pins were two books, including "Anna Karenina," which my book club is currently reading! The Tolstoy classic addresses a bad marriage (Anna), an average marriage (Dolly), and a good marriage (Kitty).
2. Group checking accounts are problematic. The balance belongs to the whole group, so the whole group should have a say in where the money goes. Just because the Suzuki Parents deposited their fund at Missouri Western State University thirteen years ago and haven't added to it in the last two years does not mean we intend to let MWSU have the $1,529 for spending willy-nilly.
3. Red flags are worth noticing. Pay attention to your motherly intuition, too.
4. Volleyball is a fun. Dorito's robotics class is vying for the Hillyard School championship as a fun way to raise money for their Skills USA competition. I really won't feel bad next time we have to "skip" a day of homeschooling for fall yard work.
5. Co-ed volleyball is also fun. Meggar and Spencer have a rec team at Truman and are undefeated after the first two weeks. She also helps with the sorority's A team.
6. Killing an ambassador on Sept. 11 should be considered a terroristic attack against our nation.
7. Handwritten notes mean the most, like Robin said. Dorito received one from Dr. Bosco (on purple paper with purple ink).

Friday, September 21, 2012

Flirting with First Dates

Those twins! They made plans to meet up with some girls at the LeBlond Carnival. Do they think they are old enough to flirt? to date?! Hah-ha! We did allow them to go as a group (and I think a little brother tagged along) for a couple of hours of fun rides and food. Pretty harmless by any standards, but they were thrilled. Captain and I pretended to be strict--i.e. "Let me smell your breath for beer," and "Let me smell how much cologne you put on!"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One Decade Ago

We were making the last cookbooks today from the few copies I had left sitting in a drawer.
It all goes back to the American Girl Club that I ran when Meggar was a little girl. We started a book club/doll club/more like library storytime for big girls, and it was based on the historical fiction series by the same name. We met seven times a year with a different American Girl doll as each party's theme. I read from her storybook aloud, presented a craft from that time period, offered snacks which followed the theme, and usually had an historically-accurate speaker or game/activity to finish out the evening.
The snacks got us thinking about cooking classes, too. All the publicity landed Meggar a cooking segment on the local 5:00 TV news starting on March 5, 2001. She dressed up like the American Girl she was cooking for and often invited a friend from the Club to appear with her (there were 200 on our mailing list during those three years). Here is her photo at age 10.
We printed the first 36 recipes from her TV show into a little spiral-bound cookbook and sold 300 of them for $3 each. By age 12, Meggar decided she was too old for the dolls and club anymore.
But the idea of being fair to the boys was still in the back of my mind. So I offered a "Boys Can Cook" class at the Homeschool Enrichment Days (on Tuesdays for three different semesters). I wanted boys to be able to make things that were healthy and/or fun since they are hungry all the time. We cooked 4-5 different items each week and age them all!
Of course, everyone wanted the recipes, so I made a spiral-bound cookbook with 100 recipes and an appropriate cover that sold for $5 each. The twins helped me do the binding today. I now have four "American Girl" cookbooks and four "Boys Can Cook" copies put away for future grandchildren.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Starting Off in College Classes

Dorito had his first round of college homework this week--paper, quiz, and exam. Two out of three isn't bad. He got 100% on the Sociology paper (500 words), but suffered terrible memory lapse on the Sociology quiz, so we tried Meggar's trick of using to make flash cards for studying! Dorito subsequently got an "A" on his Music History exam, and he's already reviewed for his Safety Quiz tomorrow at Robotics Lab. I'm proud of his diligence to meet his deadlines, besides working part time at the golf course and rehearsing with the College Orchestra. It's very good experience for him in preparation for next year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Russian Author at Book Club

The first half of "Anna Karenina" was our goal for this month's book club. Several of us are excited about tackling this classic of Leo Tolstoy written before the Russian Revolution. He is asking serious questions in his seemingly stuffy novel: What is the purpose of marriage? Is divorce justified? What is the role of work in our lives? and workers in the world? How should the state play its role when culture is changing?
Cynthia led our discussions and brought a samovar for serving hot water for tea!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Court of Honor

The Boy Scout Court of Honor is a quarterly potluck supper to recognize achievements and advancements. Happily, I always take Sweet Green Beans (which requires little thought on my part and is a healthy vegetable for everyone). This time, I also made Bread Pudding and real British Custard Sauce. It is a family favorite, too! The recipe is easy to make, and I have saved up the main ingredient in my freezer: heels from a loaf of bread and dried out biscuits or bagels (usually because someone left something in the toaster and forgot about it until it was too late). This stockpile of bread pieces also works good for homemade stuffing year round.

Bread Pudding
8 eggs
4 c. milk
2/3 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 1-2 t. vanilla
6 c. bread cubes
raisins & coconut, optional
Fill a 9x13 pan with dried bread cubes. Beat together eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour over bread until well soaked. Bake at 325' F for 35 minutes. Serve warm or cold with sauce choice.
Vanilla Custard Sauce = 2 egg yolks, 1/3 c. milk or cream, 3 T. sugar melted together until thick and bubbly. Cool, then chill. To serve, beat 1/2 c. whipping cream with 1 t. vanilla to soft peaks. Fold in to yolk mixture. Serve cold.
Whiskey Sauce = 1/4 c. butter, 1/2 c. sugar, 1 egg yolk, 2 T. water, 2 T. bourbon or rum flavoring. Melt together on low heat until mixture boils and thickens. Add bourbon or flavoring at the end. Serve warm!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Winning Attitude

After winning the final two games of this Super Series, we headed back west with a better attitude about Russell Stover's prospects this season. We stopped off for supper in Macon--close enough to meet up with Meggar and Spencer at AJ's Restaurant, which was surprisingly good! It is an off-shoot of the "famous" Pear Tree Restaurant and had all the extra style and ingredients that turn pub food into a gourmet experience. Of course, Captain and I were pleased to catch up on the campus news from Meggar, and Spencer enjoyed hearing more from the hockey twins. Mass tonight at the college will fit everyone's schedule.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Take a Time Out from Hockey

The long break between games on Saturday left time for Captain and I to spend an afternoon together. We walked around in the St. Louis Art Museum--always a great visit to see their masterpieces. Plus we went to the shoe store in the mall (what wife doesn't like that?!) and had chocolates and coffee together.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Keep Calm and Play Hockey

The first games of the season were in St. Louis and I went along! Captain and I got to talk the whole five-hour's drive across I-70 last night, and were up early for the first game. Of course, the rosters are tougher this year. And it will take awhile for our new players to gel into a team. We lost 1-2 and 0-3 today. But no injuries and good efforts by #9 and #12. They are "tough cookies" wearing new Cascade helmets with red inserts--bought today at the Total Hockey store (where they cannot offer frequent purchase cards because they would lose money on families like ours).

Thursday, September 13, 2012

German Chocolate Pie

We first ate this delicious dessert in Alton, IL, at the "Just Desserts" Cafe-- where Abraham Lincoln visited when it was a courthouse. The owner gives away the recipe for Mrs. Ledbetter's German Chocolate Pie. I had all the stuff with a hint to my guys how it would be a lovely substitute for birthday cake. Captain and Winger worked jointly on the project. With coconut and pecans on top, how could I not be happy?!
Mrs. Ledbetters German Chocolate Pie
1-4oz bar German Sweet Baking chocolate
1/4 c. butter
2 Lg eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
3 tbs corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1-12oz can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
1-10oz unbaked deep dish pie crust
2 c. pecans
1 c. coconut
Heat oven to 350' F.
Melt chocolate and butter together.
In medium bowl beat eggs.
Add sugar, cornstarch and salt.
Beat until smooth,
Blend in melted chocolate mixture.
Gradually add milk and vanilla.
Pour into unbaked pie shell.
Bake 50 minutes until center is thick.
Sprinkle top with coconut and pecans.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Birthday Stash!

Captain remembered something I saw on the Stash Tea website -- goodness knows I need reminding to "Keep Calm and Carry On." The twins secretly bought me some crocheted tea towels in Jamesport. Megan left me a scented candle, and Reid gave me a car cup organizer. Plus a few other goodies came in the mail and I stopped at Buffalo Wild Wings for a free piece of chocolate cake and ice cream during hockey practice :-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Catholic Heroes on 9/11

I'm adding this slideshow to my blog because life is ALL about GOD. The Gregorian Blog shows how our faith can be transformative to the nation in a beautiful tribute to some of the heroes of the World Trade Center disaster on Sept. 11, 2001.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Like the Freestyle?

It was too busy of a day to cook lunch. I was packaging the nine book orders I had sold online over the weekend while the boys were doing school work at the kitchen counter. Suddenly we were all starving. I never do this but... We drove to Burger King (where the receipt is the best coupon ever) and even stayed there to eat (shocking)! They asked if we liked the new Freestyle machine. I had never seen one up close, and the boys were eager to show me how to use it. I'm not that old to need instructions for a touch-screen cola dispenser. But I will say that I'm liking the fact they added NON-Nutrasweet Lemonade back to their offering. And I could mix it with "fizzy water" as the British say. French lemonade with that Whopper, mademoiselle?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Typing Up the Plans

The twins have been formulating their idea for an Eagle Scout Service Project. On the same day. For the same church. (They must be twins.) They decided on a playground for our country parish, and their Troop will supply the volunteer labor if they supply the leadership. Polar Bear (older) is going first and his portion includes leveling the ground, building a perimeter with timbers, adding the liner and wood chips for the 24 x 40 foot area. Winger (younger) is going second and will be in charge of building the play equipment. They are typing up a budget, project description, safety precautions, and timeline. All those Scout forms... I am so glad that they know how to type! (Such a satisfying feeling when a homeschool mom can watch the fruits of her labor like that.)
They also made poster boards with photos to show the "Before" and "After" images to put at the Church.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

First Friday Potluck

The Catholic homeschoolers gathered yesterday for First Friday. Dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, this devotion was revealed to Sr. Margaret Mary Alacoque and urged to be repeated nine months in a row. We prayed the Rosary before the meal then feasted on both meat and fish entrees with plenty of good side dishes. Our craft project was in honor of the Seven Sorrows of Mary (whose feast is coming up on Sept. 15 and is also the name of our host church).
I also wanted Aunt Jean to see that I'm still doing these crafts :-)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Remembering Obama's Speech

I predicted Greek columns at the Democratic Convention (oh well). Four years ago, Obama wanted to be seen as being as smart as the Greeks, but I remember they were pagans as well. My favorite quotes from yesterday's speech:

"Eight years later..." --really? I remember four years ago he said he would end the war in Iraq and close Guantanamo Bay immediately, and several of my relatives voted for him simply because of that promise. But neither promise was fulfilled, nor any apology made for Obama's lack of foreign policy experience (which the media accuses Sarah Palin/Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan of lacking). Three years later, our armed forces who left Iraq were subsequently deployed to Afghanistan (war zone since the time of Reagan), and military spending increased 50%, for a total of $93.8 billion in 2010 alone.

"Less dependent on foreign oil than any other time in history..." --really? The price of gas is twice as high? I guess it's because George Bush wants to make million on his oil wells. I remember the media said that four years ago, and voters believed it.

"We have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings--men and women; Christians and Muslims and Jews." -- really? Pity about the rights of unborn men and women aborted with tax money at Planned Parenthood clinics. And I remember Muslims being the enemies of the Greeks.

"...gays or any other group we are told to blame for our troubles." --really?  I don't remember any Republicans blaming gays for our deficit, unemployment, failing economy, global warming, forest fires, or the hurricanes.

"...if you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot, and does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules..." -- really? The rules for unemployment benefits and welfare benefits keep extending the time you don't HAVE to work.

"And while I'm proud of what we've achieved..." really? proud.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Downtown Noon Concert

We attended the First Thursday Downtown Noon Concert today (took our free Arby's Turkey Roaster sandwiches). Constance went with us for the hour with a flute player and an opera singer. Nice! Another field trip of enrichment and enjoyment.

Fix-It Man

Captain has come up with several solutions lately that should be applauded. We've been having trouble with the deep freezer door staying closed along the top edge. I push harder and wonder if the magnetism in the door strip is wearing out... but when he noticed the freezer slightly unlevel and tipping toward the front, then all we needed was to adjust the leveling pegs on the bottom! It's all "straightened out" and that was a cheap solution!  He also bought a new high-speed router/modem for the DSL and it's amazing how well the wireless works now! Then he repaired a couple of broken hinges on my cabinets. Closed the pool for winter. Cleaned the hot tub. Tried to repair the riding mower (belt still slipping). Touched up paint in the gaming area of the basement (boys?!) where it was nicked and scuffed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Willie's Side-Kick

Dorito and I went to a K-State event to find out more about the majors he is interested in studying. Best part for me = talking to Dean Pat Bosco (who remembers everyone's name in the past 30 years and gives out his home phone number). Best part for Dorito = obvious!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

For Me and Pythagoras

I love Geometry. Maybe because Mrs. Ronnebaum was a wonderful teacher back in 10th grade. Probably it has something to do with the neat, tidy rows of the proofs on the page. She made us draw the lines with a ruler EVERY time. And use a compass and protractor. So when the twins began Geometry this year, I was pumped. And I have a TREASURE of my own.
Yes, a teacher-sized protractor and compass -- obtained free from St. Patrick's School at its give-away to homeschoolers. We drew perpendicular bisectors today.  (Note: I really should buy 2 new protractors for the twins since theirs are no longer stiff enough to work well.)  I'm a regular Pythagoras.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Laboring for a Picnic

We had some time with friends this Labor Day weekend. Last night we were outside with the Jungbluths. They brought salmon which they caught in Alaska on vacation. We supplied steak, nutty rice, and our best bottle of Cabernet Franc wine from Coppola ($60). I heard Sam's Club does a nice dessert. Then today we spent time with more friends: Browns and Schieber families. There was steak kebabs, cheesy potatoes, fruit salad, deviled eggs, pasta salad, and tossed salad. Plus more wine. Then ice cream with port chocolate sauce for dessert. Glad to use the pool one last time.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A New Church

We didn't leave in a huff. We quietly slipped off. We said, "We are taking a break" last July. Our thoughts were very jumbled about church for the next four months. We bounced from parish to parish feeling numb. Some days I even felt guilty that I couldn't find a way to fix it at St. James. I'd been playing the organ there (for free) for nearly five years. Playing for school mass on Fridays plus feast days and holy days and Triduum and all the Sundays in summer when Becky went to the Ozarks. Playing so the priest who couldn't sing would still feel connected to the people in the pews. Playing so my children would still feel tied to their faith community and to the worship of God.
But homeschoolers are never fully accepted at a place where there is a parochial school. Battles over sacraments, CYO ball teams, playground usage, field trips, and the proper starting time for 8:00 a.m. mass wore me out. So my husband decided "enough," and we quit--everything. I'm not a quitter. It was rough. Our family takes Catholicism very seriously. But what to do? I analyzed and prayed and worried. I rehearsed the arguments in my head. I decided to make a list of the various volunteer jobs I had taken on at that parish during the 12 years we were members. It was so long that it even surprised me. But not Captain, who believes in two-way streets.
Then one day my phone rang. Bryan asked if I would even consider coming to play organ for their tiny church, which had been without music for awhile. The next Sunday would begin Advent and many of the sung mass parts were changing to the new translation in the new hymnal. I wanted to be helpful, but  I did not make any long-term promises. Maybe it wasn't the answer I had been hoping for but I was trying to let the Holy Spirit guide.
Eight months later, we are still attending Seven Dolors Catholic Church with 28 other people. The priest is a fabulous preacher. The boys love his hunting stories and the fact he was an Eagle Scout. The congregation is friendly and appreciative. Best of all, they restored a piece of the old altar from 1960s -- after it was found decaying in an old barn. Last week, it was moved into place and holds the tabernacle perfectly. This week goldleaf paint was added to the altar so it also matches. Lovely!
These days I am striving for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tea Bags Styled Clipboards

Last summer I made this clipboard for Meggar, using the colored tea bag wrappers I had been collecting. I put the best ones on the front ...

and Hannah designed the back using red, yellow, and green AGD colors. The polkadots are so cute! And more people see the back of the clipboard than its top. We drink mostly English Breakfast tea (hence the plentitude of red bags).
On mine, I put tags between the wrappers instead of the pinwheel design (above). It all started with Etsy and Cynthia's origami craft at book club. Once she gave me the idea of repurposing them, I had to carefully open and save all the tea bag wrappers I encountered. Friends even donated some to my collection. Not only the fronts, but the backs are also interesting with little stories about the tea or the tea company.
(Note: several coats of Modge Podge keep it shiny, but I have found that papers stick to the front over the long term. I'm trying a coat of polyeurethane spray today.)