Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wheels for the New Year

The twins have been looking at sporty makes and models for several months. I told them to consider trunk space and mileage estimates (which should be the top considerations for travel hockey players). Ever since they turned 15, they have agreed to share a car once they turn 16. Captain took them shopping at a few used car lots... and they eventually found the best deal through Craigslist: a 2006 Nissan Maxima.

(Definitely no room left on the driveway now.) They've already replaced a headlight bulb and started rotating the tires! *motor head Schmids*

Monday, December 30, 2013

Cheering for the 'Cats

What could better than going to Buffalo Wild Wings in the hometown of Bill Snyder on the night that K-State is playing in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl?!  My boys waited over an hour to be seated (luckily they went early) and could only get the waitress to put the college football game on one, tiny screen? I guess "the fight" is more popular with the average folks in NW Missouri (several people in purple left to go somewhere else). My patriotic family stuck it out to the victorious end waking us after midnight with game highlights. Dorito said he didn't see his fraternity brothers (two are in the Marching Band), nor his friends or relatives who attended the game in Phoenix. But he still had fun! I was fine to stay home and nurse Captain through his extraction of two more wisdom teeth, and we both fell asleep early.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Can you say Handsome?

I practically stole the purple cashmere scarf for Dorito from Kohls. It is a perfect gift for a Wildcat student. And the three dress coats were affordable gifts since I waited for 30% off coupon in the mail.
I made some Pinterest-style gifts....
desk plaques for the "frat boy" and his pledge dad,
Meggar made this blanket for Dorito,

and desk plaques for my hockey stars.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Christmas Letter After All

I told my book club this fall that God is actually the best writer of irony. And our family's lives in 2013 were surely evidence of that.
Captain was laid off 79 days ago (but who's counting) from his job of 17 years. And he couldn't be happier! (I had been praying for him a long time, so perhaps it's not ironic....) We are treasuring the time together--realizing that Captain has been gone enough overnights to equal about 10 years. We are dreaming about future jobs--ones that include intelligent diversity and professionalism (such as set vacations). We are living on our savings--given that we have not inherited money from our parents nor mooched off the government. (Neither are we signing up for the "Affordable" Care Act of Obama.) 
Fortunately, Captain was able to spend 23 days in December training for a newer/bigger jet called the Global Express (sounds like a Christmas movie...) I'm proud to report he scored a 97% and even found an error on the final exam (much to the surprise of Flight Safety staff). 
Other family members also did well on their final exams: Dorito will be initiated at Phi Kappa Theta at K-State since he managed to pull good enough grades (even with Calculus I), and Meggar is on the honor roll with only one semester left until graduation. She will be taking her Piano degree with English minor to St. Louis after May and hopefully landing a job in event/wedding planning. She has plans to room with Lois, who has been given use of her Grandma's house. They have become wine aficionados after traveling with Captain and I to Napa Valley shortly after Meggar's 21st birthday. She graciously attended several hockey games for her little brothers and was the Christian DJ for their Prom. She even introduced us to Spencer's parents following a St. Louis Blues game last spring.
Dorito's adventures as a Wildcat would fill several pages, but suffice it to say we all enjoy hearing his stories of 5K runs, flag football, Ultimate Frisbee, Homecoming float-building, sorority serenades, and building a motorized bicycle for M.E. He wears a purple shirt nearly every day. He finished his high school career winning top student in Robotics at Hillyard, chosen by mayor as Young Artist of the Year, and saving the lives of 10 boys at the pool while on Scout staff for seven weeks at Camp Geiger. 
The twins are having their own adventures in Music City. They are renting a house with their homeschool teacher while playing for Thunder AAA Hockey (U16 team). Their driver's permits have come in handy while getting from Nashville to tournaments in Boston, Detroit, Philly, and Pittsburgh. It was memorable to stay a week with our cousins in Connecticut, whose house is on the beach. Even in October, it was a treat to get sand between your toes, see tall ships, and feast on clam chowder. Using their one weekend off per month, Polar Bear and Winger squeezed in Mic-o-Say dances and a hunting trip with Father Benjamin. Winger bagged two does and everyone has enjoyed venison chili, tacos, and meatloaf. Last spring, the twins were confirmed at the Cathedral and invited Bishop Finn to dinner at our home. This spring, they are becoming tight with Jimmy's HAWC group and can't wait for the Bosco Ball games discipleschip talks.
I try to capture teachable moments on our hockey trips, but the trip to Atlanta for a practice weekend included a purely selfish stop-off at the High Museum of Art to view Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring." (pleasure sigh!) 
Once my book club finished "The Brothers Karamazov," we also read a few books at the other end of the spectrum. I loved how Dostoyevsky was brilliant in his subtlety and his paradoxes make a constructive use of irony. So I'm sure the same will be true for our family--and the future will bring many happy twists and turns that even Sherlock Holmes could not anticipate.
Merry Christmas to all our friends and family, and may Peace be in your hearts this New Year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

O Holy Innocents

Today's Feast Day always touches my heart.
Probably because I lost three babies through miscarriage and stillbirth. It is the Church's memorial of the Holy Innocents, all the babies under age 2 whom Herod ordered slaughtered in Bethlehem and the surrounding region. Herod was angry. He was jealous. He didn't want another king to be born. (Matthew 2:13-18)
God wrote our salvation history with beautiful irony. That a powerless baby would be our Redeemer, who conquered sin. That a virgin would bear a Son, who was both God and Man. That a Jewish Messiah would be Rex Gentium: Ruler of all Nations. That his death would grant us everlasting life. Let the modern world come and worship, making no mistake about the message that this Emmanuel was born into a husband-and-wife family.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

There Are Still 11 Days Left of Christmas

Hooray! The 12 Days of Christmas mean there is still time for more good food... more movies... more games... more laughs...
Yesterday, we celebrated with eggnog waffles, watched "Elf," played BananaGrams, and laughed about strange guys who asked for Meggar's phone number. Today, we ate baked Brie and summer sausage with the Bridgewaters, watched "Fast & Furious," played Words with Friends since the bowling alley was closed, and laughed about professors who threw in trivia-type questions on final exams.
Actually, my two in college posted great grades! Meggar got an A in Chemistry (that's a Christmas miracle), and an A in her Senior Brit Lit (pretty tough), and a B in Trigonometry (she hates math and science).  Dorito is thrilled that he stayed above 2.5--he got two As, one B, and two Cs this semester. He now qualifies for initiation at the fraternity! He was so dedicated to going to the tutor working hard to get a C in his Calculus I class after starting with very bad grades on his first two exams for that course.
Still to come: chocolate fondue, skillet cookies, ham-and-bean soup, venison chili, cinnamon rolls, reruns of "White Collar" on NetFlix, favorite episodes on BBC, sledding, and car repairs (always a laugh).

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

O Holy Night

 Prelude carols were played by Fiddlers Three.
 The altar is gloriously decorated.
 The manger scene sparkles during mass.
 Everyone is happy to be together!
 Purple for Advent.
 Christmas Couple.
Schmidling Siblings.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve in the Morning

Since we all arrived home very late, today was for sleeping in. Even Captain is back home (after successfully completing his check-ride in Delaware). Our brunch was a delightful reunion gathered around Peet's Coffee and my gingerbread muffins (from American Girl cookbook).
Victorian Gingerbread Cake
1/3 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. molasses
1/2 c. buttermilk
1-1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. ground cloves
2 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
*Beat egg with sugar with wire whisk.
*Add butter, molasses, and buttermilk and stir.
*Combine dry ingredients separately.
*Stir altogether into the bowl.
*Bake in a greased 9-inch-round pan or muffin tin at 350" F for 20-30 minutes.
*Sprinkle with powdered sugar

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Warm Willkommen Weekend

Thursday, Meggar and Dorito were fetched from Kansas City today so they could be "home for the holidays." We celebrated with a little shopping (though it's harder to keep surprises now). And at home we started nibbling on the first two batches of cookies: mint chocolate chip (which Polar Bear made in honor of them being a favorite of his sister), and no-bake oatmeal cookies (which Winger made in anticipation of Captain being home soon).
Friday, we drove to Denver. This is the new Christmas hockey tradition of our family: we went straight to the Harrow Sports warehouse and bought four more sticks for the twins to use right away (they threw in two free lanyards that certain young men might find in their stocking as key chains), we had warm coffee and cocoa at the hotel instead of the Denver Tearoom (but were grateful that the Marriott reward points have stretched this long); and we admired the snow-capped mountains (though we aren't able to afford snowboarding this year).
Saturday, Coach Ron took the twins on a tour of the Air Force Academy (an excellent hockey facility) with his former player/asst. coach. I took the older two siblings to the Park Meadows Mall for a bit of shopping, but the parking was an unbelievable battle--seriously I circled the parking lots and 2-story parking garage for 30 minutes and never found even one space.
Sunday, we went to mass (though when we are out-of-town it is an adventure not knowing what strange aspects might be encountered).
The U16 team wore their new jerseys to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the TPH Hockey Association. Formed as a joint venture into Tier 1 Elite for the players in the Southwest, the Thunder combines players from Nashville and Atlanta. These rugby-striped jerseys were a "Christmas present" paid for by the goalie's dad. (Winger is at the face-off.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Serious Holidays

Poor Polar Bear--he had his hockey stick stolen at the rink last week. During off-ice training, all the players leave their bags and sticks sitting outside the locker room. The stupid thing for the thief is that only my twins play with that brand of stick so it's going to be noticeable. I hope we find it...
Meanwhile, I had another garden flag stolen this week. Ugh! Two in the spring, and now another? I kept this one up by the front sidewalk instead of at the street level by our mailbox, but I guess people who prank are brave.
Even worse, someone came up to the front bushes and turned on the garden hose! I heard water running, but it was bedtime and I thought Polar Bear had started a bath upstairs. When it ran "too long," I marched upstairs to give him a piece of my mind. No one in the tub. No one in the shower. No one doing laundry. I checked to see if basement toilet was running. Called Captin who helped me discover that the front hose was on. UGH! We turned it off and removed the spigot handle. A friend of the twins said it was a common prank this week by local teens.
Lastly, Meggar called and said the police came to Spencer's home at 4 a.m. since they found the man who had broken into his car and stolen his checkbook in the night. He was caught while trying to use it for a purchase.
This is the wrong week for more "bad news."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Homemade Christmas Gifts

My friends know I traditionally make lots of homemade cards and gifts. So I was thrilled with Cousin Melanie's gift at the Schmidling Christmas gathering last weekend! Fuzzy holiday sock full of dry beans for heating or freezing as a compress.
Winger was eager to try it--as he has a bruise on the heel of his hand from hockey. When he put it in the microwave to warm up, there were sparks immediately! That's when I noticed the pretty ribbon closure had a wire-tie inside. I simply tied a knot on the end instead. But I like Christmas presents that sparkle!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Using the Oxford Comma

I didn't know that it was called the Oxford Comma, but I've been in love with it since Dr. O's Editing II class for The Collegian. It is the second comma used in a series of three items. And it helps clarify writing. I require it for my middle school, high school, and college students (see there). So does the Associated Press (not that I write for newspapers anymore).
But two years ago, an ironic twist came when the University of Oxford PR Dept. changed its style guide to eliminate the Oxford Comma! Many opinionated Tweets ensued. Oxford itself kept the Oxford Comma.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gaudette Sunday

The third Sunday of Advent, and we are supposed to Rejoice that Christmas is coming so near.
I rejoiced in playing Advent hymns on the organ... The twins rejoiced in the missionary priest who gave the homily... But the underlying stress of an unemployed Dad is difficult for our whole family. We are limiting our Christmas shopping, but I tried to make up for that with joyfilled time spent setting out decorations--an extra few days at home helped us squeeze in some more family traditions. We hung the stockings, set up the Nativity scenes, and strung lights on the tree. We are waiting for the Christ Child... and for the Lord to show us the way. While I talk to Captain every day, I also field emotional phone calls from two college students and try to keep myself and the students at home buoyed up during their studies. Everything is (mostly) as it should be.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Win Some and Lose Some

The twins played hockey this weekend with the U16 National Team, and helped win one and lose one game. It was easy to return to the Independence Events Center for the games (our old rink). It was fun to play against five former teammates (even on face-offs). It was nice for me to catch up with the other travel parents (between periods).
The boys enjoyed the team bus, buffet dinner at Golden Corral, and free tour of the Topeka Roadrunners rink before their NAHL game.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Getting Through Exams

Half our family was taking a final exam yesterday, and the other half was reviewing for one.
Captain took his final book exam on the Global Express. It lasted four hours! He scored 97/100, allowing that he didn't know one question for certain, he made a bone-head calculation on the wrong chart for a second question, and the third one marked wrong was actually correct. Captain convinced the Flight Safety examiner that he was right, and now they will have to change their grading and study sheet to reflect their own error!! (kinda cool.) We are proud of the intense studying he has done these past two weeks. Here is his stack of the manuals about the airplane.
Next, Meggar had a Voice Jury today and aced it with her French song: "If You Wish, My Love" (Si Vous le Souhaitez, Mon Amour). She is also writing a 10-page paper about why girls get married, not the fairytale girls, but those like Charlotte Lucas who actually wanted to marry Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice. In between finals, she travels house-to-house and dorm-to-dorm buying back books for her part-time job.
Dorito has done his papers really EARLY. Last week, he had already finished his 4th paper for History, and his 3rd paper for Leadership Studies, and his 2nd paper for University Experience. They weren't even due until THIS week. What a good kid! (I am the freelance proofreader in the family.) We are so impressed how hard Dorito is working at university. He had a final today in Mechanical Engineering class. (Seems like a ton of work and money for a 1-credit course.) And their final project was completed in the afternoon--with racing their bicycles against the other 45 teams. The power had to come from a portable drill, and Dorito said the problem was getting enough torque.

Meanwhile, the twins and I reviewed Julius Caesar for a Literature 10 final tomorrow. And we started reading Dialogues of Plato for the car-ride home.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Homemade Christmas Gifts

I've made aprons a couple of times: for moms and little girls. But this was my first time to make them out of old jeans. I used a non-hand-me-down pair from Dorito. I was pleased with the results. And I think the two little guys we live with in Nashville will like them (ages 4 & 6). Along with a copy of "Boys Can Cook," of course, from my own library. Happy Holidays, Holmans!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

High School Basketball

The twins and I went to cheer for the homeschool basketball team in Nashville: the Warriors. Our friends Landon and Liam (senior and sophomore) did a great job during the varsity match. So did their dad (the coach)!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Powerful Words

There is so much power in words.
I see it every Sunday with Fr. Bala.
He memorizes the entire Gospel!
He "reads" it from the pulpit--
without the Lectionary.
If you have ever practiced a poem, you realize how much time is invested to do that. Every word has to be exact, even the smallest words. And sometimes the Gospel on Sunday is rather long.
But Father Bala does it perfectly week after week, and English is not his native language.
Maybe you already have the habit of Lectio Divina, which is picturing the story from the Bible in your imagination (maybe even with yourself in the scene). Entering the living word is an act that becomes an even greater experience when you hear the priest recite the Gospel from memory. An amazing depth is felt, with each syllable, through each sequence, until the end.

"John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judeaand saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:A voice of one crying out in the desert,Prepare the way of the Lord,make straight his paths."

Such a gift.
Happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Never Too Old

I still gave each twin a chocolate Advent calendar.
And candy for St. Nicholas' Day.
Guess they are never too old...
They were "good sports" and played like "big brothers" on Saturday morning by going to the Preschool Christmas Program to watch Kobe sing with his 4-year-old class.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Thoughts Before Christmas

I'm sitting between St. Nicholas Day (honoring one who gave anonymously) and the Feast of St. Ambrose (who converted St. Augustine), and I'm reaching out to ask friends for help. Some of you may know that my husband was laid off this fall. I am still hoping to write a Christmas message that tells about the miracle of Captain finding a new path of employment, but that hasn't happened yet. I am confident that God is trying to lead us to a better place. Meanwhile, we are extra thankful for all the good things we DO have, and to ask for your prayers for next year.
But this has also caused me to wonder more frequently about the poor. Ever since the election of Pope Francis, my thoughts have returned to his friend's last-minute, whispered plea: "Don't forget the poor." Already the Pope has shown us his modest lifestyle, and now his words of Evangelii Gaudium call us "to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others."
I know you already give to important and worthwhile causes and are careful with your money (especially in the midst of holiday shopping for your children and relatives). But if my request is taken to heart by half of the people that I send it to, then the Holy Spirit will have done its work effectively. Please consider making an anonymous donation to a man named Jorge, who is on the verge of homelessness right here in the Midwest.
I do not know Jorge personally, but I found out about him on a Catholic News site back in the late summer. He is unemployed and trying to raise his daughter alone. He is attending college on the GI Bill and receiving food stamps. He and his daughter will not starve to death, but he needs money for rent and utilities. He doesn't know where else to turn, so I'm turning to you.
It is easy to donate through PayPal to his account.
I hope you will help alleviate his fears and make a small sacrifice to help him get through the holidays. It is through God's initiative that I write to you. As Pope Francis recently wrote: "This mission demands great generosity on our part, it would be wrong to see it as a heroic individual undertaking, for it is first and foremost the Lord's work, surpassing anything which we can see and understand."
You can read more about Jorge and his situation on his own blog. Or simply join me and send a few bucks this Christmas as a present to AnnaMarie and Jorge.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Give Him the Glory

There are many ways to prepare for Christmas, and plenty of religious activities to attend during Advent.
Last night, we attended the GLORY night sponsored every month by "Love Good Music" and Jimmy Mitchell. There were some high school students there whom the twins knew from Fraternus, plus college kids and young adults. Good crowd. Everything started with praise music, then time for reflection, and a featured guest speaker: Brother Joseph from the Legionaries of Christ. He gave his vocation story and then sang some original compositions that were VERY hipster! Later, there was time for Adoration and Confession at the Church of the Assumption next door. Finally, the evening wrapped up with more music and coffee and conversation. No one wanted to leave!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Brotherly Love

The twins look up to Dorito and like to spend time with their older brother. It has been a hard adjustment having him off at college. They begged all year to attend a K-State football game, but there were hockey conflicts for all the home games. Luckily, they found some cheap tickets for the KU v KSU game in Lawrence (last week after Thanksgiving).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Face to Face with Competition

Captain discovered some bad news about the position in Philadelphia he had interviewed for last month. (We were still waiting to hear back from the head-hunter.) The company is no longer hiring a full-time pilot, instead they are letting three people who already have jobs share the work on a contract basis. His instructors at Flight Safety are the pilots who will be serving in that rotation!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Time is Running Out

Captain currently has type ratings in two jet aircraft, but they expire at the end of the year! Potentially an employer could pay for the required training, but his time is running out. So he decided to put his best foot forward and pay his own way--on a bigger and more complicated plane: the Global Express. (Sounds like a Christmas movie/train). He was happy to learn that unemployed pilots get a 50% discount off the $65K price tag. The course is at Flight Safety--meaning he had a long drive to Delaware this weekend. I'm confident that he is going to do great. Just look at the simulator training computer!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Old and New Hockey Friends

The twins were thrilled that Hockey Henry was coming to Kansas City to see his grandparents over Thanksgiving. Even better, they heard about a stick-and-puck session at the rink. Three friends from their old team met up with them to scrimmage against the three Thunder players.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday

We heard stories about the Black Friday shoppers. It seems extra silly to me this year. I was thinking how one man's excess is another man's entire monthly salary.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Being Thankful

On Thanksgiving Day, we like to go around the table and tell what we are thankful for. God has been good to us in many ways. But Captain has spent the last 50 days looking for a new job. He was laid off somewhat unexpectedly. Certainly undeservedly. This makes us thankful for all the things we do have: like each other, good relationships, good health, good attitudes, and faith that the merciful Lord has a better plan for our future.
Ever since the election of Pope Francis, my thoughts have returned over and again to his friend's whispered last-minute plea: "Don't forget the poor." I believe there are people who are poor in finances, but also those who experience poverty in many other ways. A poverty of health, a poverty of "smarts" in the classroom, a poverty of friends in social circles, the poverty of childlessness, and worst of all = a poverty of faith.
How many people do you help who are sick and ill? (Or do you walk on the other side of the road busy with your own cares?) How many people do you treat with patience and understanding when they don't "get it" right away? (Their gifts may lie hidden beneath a C- exterior.) How many people do you make time to be friendly with? (Even if they are nerdy, awkward, annoying, or not in your clique of friends.) How many people do you tell about Jesus? (Using words only if necessary--like St. Francis advised.)
I ponder these things for my own conscience and maturing spirituality. But it is even more challenging to look deeper:
Am I willing to give freely to the poor, even if they appear able to work? Do I judge those who are dependent on the government and seem to manipulate the system?
Am I as compassionate for the sick and suffering when it was brought on/made worse by their smoking, drinking, and drug use? or by their eating addictions? Or do I judge these as inevitable consequences?
Am I as understanding with arrogant people? or as patient with the simple-minded? or as willing listen to the divorced and lonely? Because everyday there are entertaining outlets which tempt me not to care too deeply.
Am I friends with the outcasts? the immigrant? the smelly? the toothless? the haughty? the wasteful?
Am I serving God with the gifts and talents that He gave me? Does my life proclaim the salvation of souls in a way that attracts others to Jesus?
I am thankful for our savings account as a safety net, but more importantly for the bounty of children at my table, the excess of talk and ideas, the vibrant health of hockey boys, and the unity we feel in Christ as He assists us in facing our various struggles.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Thanksgiving Feast

 I am a good cook, if I do say so myself! Right on schedule, we gathered for prayers and toasts in the dining room. I admired my antique table, sparkling china (surprise gift from Captain a decade ago), and mostly my children! Tomorrow is the "real" Thanksgiving, but I wanted to do my own dinner so we could have a relaxing day with each person's favorites:
Meggar--sweet potatoes (with pecans),
Dorito--scalloped onions plus my organic pumpkin pie (with no whipped cream),
Polar Bear--chocolate cream pie with graham cracker crust (with whipped cream),
Winger--whole wheat butterhorn rolls (with honey),
Captain--oyster stuffing (with lots of gravy),
Wife--cranberry fluff salad, parsnips, brussel sprouts, and bread-and-butter pickles.

Monday, November 25, 2013

College Boy is Back Home

Dorito is a sweet fellow--and very talkative his first day back.
He is participating in Movember (a mustache-growing philanthropy fundraiser for Phi Kappa Theta) so that takes a little getting used to.
He told us about his uncomfortable bed in the sleeping dorms, which he doesn't actually mind because he stays up late to study and gets up early for classes.
He explained how the pledges have to share lunch KP duties, which he doesn't actually mind because the cook lets him taste-test her food. From the sound of it, she makes everything from scratch (very impressive to this hungry teenager).
He grumbled about his wake-up duty, because there are no alarm clocks allowed in the sleeping dorm. He chose Wednesday morning at the beginning of the semester without giving it much thought. Now he realizes that Wednesday is "dress up day" for their formal dinner, so he has to get up even earlier to shower, shave, and dress up before his duties begin of waking up other boys (every 15 minutes per the schedule board).

He laughed and said, "I have a crush on the volleyball team." when he really meant, "I have a crush on a girl on the volleyball team." (He goes to all the home volleyball meets.) She is cute and tall, but at least she is a freshman. He also has a crush on a sophomore, but she only wants to be "friends." And then there are twin senior girls who have a crush on him! Kinda fun to hear all the stories...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gaining Wisdom

Captain had two wisdom teeth pulled yesterday, so he stayed home to rest while I took the twins to their friendship games in Cincinnati. This was not the best timing, and I was sorry I couldn't be around to assist my husband when he was feeling crummy. But it was a good weekend for the twins. Polar Bear was back on the ice (after missing 9 games due to his hip injury). He scored the first goal of the first game today on a big break-away. Then he helped set up Winger who scored the second and third goals, leading their team to a 4-1 victory. We're baaaaaacckkk!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Narnian in Poets' Corner

Everyone knows about the day when C.S. Lewis died. (It was the same day that JFK was assassinated 50 years ago.) Yet just as significant as the admired president was this beloved member of the "Inklings" from Oxford. His literary legacy was enshrined this year by a Time magazine cover the placement of a marker in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
The South Transept of this royal church (originally a Benedictine monastery) has long been referred to as Poets' Corner where graves, markers, and memorial plaques are placed for writers such as: Chaucer (the first one), Shakespeare, Milton, Brontë sisters, Dickens, Keats, Tennyson, Browning, and that famous poet Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins. Now wedged between Betjeman and Blake, a stone for Clive Staples Lewis has been laid.
It was commemorated in London with a 2-day conference on apologetics, a choral evensong, and a service of Thanksgiving preached by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, with one of Lewis' poems "Love's as Warm as Tears" being performed as an anthem.
The British author is known to have been an admirer of Yeats and started trying to compose verse at age 19 under the name Clive Hamilton, from his mother's maiden name. His poems were largely written in the trenches during WWI, when he was an avowed atheist. Neither volume of his poetry had any success. Nor did his unbelief last very long either. He came to Christianity through the works of authors George MacDonald, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton. He joined the Church of England in 1931, much to the dismay of Tolkien, who had hoped he would become a Catholic. Lewis first met Tolkien in 1926 and later wrote:
"Friendship with the latter marked the breakdown of two old prejudices. At my first coming into the world, I had been (implicitly) warned never to trust a Papist, and at my first coming into the English Faculty (explicitly) never to trust a philologist. Tolkien was both."
Throughout the past 50 years, C.S. Lewis has touched all believers with his orthodox writing. I find his style approachable and enjoyable, intelligent but not high-handed. He started with "Mere Christianity," and so did I. Since then I have also read:
The Four Loves
The Great Divorce
The Screwtape Letters
Surprised by Joy
Reflections on the Psalms
The Chronicles of Narnia
Speaking of which, did you know where he got the name for Narnia?
The name comes from a little town in Italy (halfway between Rome and Assisi) called Narni --or Narnia in Latin. He liked the sound of it and underlined in an atlas he acquired while reading the classics with his tutor, Mr. Kirkpatrick. Its reference comes from Pliny the Younger's letter to his mother-in-law, in which he mentions the excellence of the accomodations of her villa at Narnia, especially the beautiful baths. Undoubtedly, his education laid the foundation for producing such epic and imaginative stories later on. And his life's experiences led him to be able to authentically relate his faith in God and thus become one of the leading Christian apologists of his time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Catholic President

The only Catholic president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, will be lauded tomorrow upon the 50th anniversary of his death. I cannot help but acknowledge that JFK was an idol among Catholics in his day. I wasn't around to witness 1960 or 1963. But I can just imagine. Never before had the nation seen a first lady wearing a chapel veil,
nor a President attend mass with his two young children.
He came from a large Catholic family in Massachusetts. His mother, Rose, had 9 children: many of whom had public service in their blood. His father was a state senator, and his grandfather had been mayor of Boston, etc. etc.
Mostly he is remembered in Catholic circles for his "separation of church and state" campaign speech to a group of Protestant ministers in Houston. Apparently he convinced them. It only proved to Catholics that he had phenomenal diplomacy. One man wrote his remembrance of the speech by saying: "He stared down the anti-Catholic know-nothings and won the hearts and minds of more than a few WASP and Jewish voters, as well as the admiration of Roman Catholics whose ancestors did not hail from the Emerald Isle."
Why was his religion the crux for many voters? Did they really think his Pope would dictate to him?
And if so (gasp), what would any Pope have said: Stand opposed to artificial contraception since it is un-Biblical? (Pope Paul VI actually said The Pill was wrong anyway, in 1968.) Stand against abortion? Stand up for traditional marriage? Stand for equal rights regardless of race or creed?
How is it then that a Catholic platform would be bad policy for America? It's ironic that Catholics and Protestants stand together today for these same principles and value a "whole fabric of harmonious society."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Title-Blending Meme

Winger will like the very last submission. I sent out this challenge to some literary friends and so far I only have one that I can offer which came in quickly as a reply -- enjoy these, and add to the list!
My Own Creations:
The Fox and the Hound of Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Mannix
Common Sense and Sensibility by Thomas Paine Austen

Aunt Jean's:
Gone With the Wind in the Willows by Margaret Grahame
Of Mice and Men of Iron by John Pyle

This word-game started at Literary Compass (in 2007) who said:
"I've never started a meme before, but I've always wanted to (Well, maybe not always, but at least since last Thursday. Anyway...) Here are the rules:

Blend two book titles together by using the last word of one title and the first word of the second title. If you want, you can blend the authors' names too. Like this:
• The Divine Comedy of Errors by Dante Shakespeare
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince of Tides by J.K. Conroy
The Canterbury Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Geoffrey Blume
The Screwtape Letters to a Young Poet by C.S. Rilke

and of course,
The Last Don Quixote by Mario de Cervantes.
Now it's your turn."
First, it was happily discovered when I was reading back in Alicia von Hecke's blog (2012):

For some reason this old title-blending meme came up in conversation today, and I thought it was funny enough to repost five years later. Besides we have a few more to add
To Kill a Mockingjay 
The Swiss Family Robinson Crusoe 
The Invisible Manalive 

I got tagged by Nick over at Literary Compass to do his brand-new Title-Blending Meme (what fun!).
Our first one was sort of cheating 
Christopher Robin Hood
because it's one Ria "accidentally" made up when she was two or three years old (but honestly, I don't think I could come up with anything better myself).

Here are mine:
The Evidential Power of Beauty and the Beast
The King of Ireland's Son of Charlemagne
String, Straightedge and Shadow of the Bear
In Defense of Philosophy for Dummies
The Dangerous Book for Boys and Girls of Colonial Days
The Boxcar Children of Hurin
The Man Who Knew Too Much Ado About Nothing
Here are some from my son, Gus:
The Everlasting Man Who Was Thursday
The Babe Ruth Story of the Greeks
The Story of the First World War II for Kids (with help from Ria)
Centerburg Tales of the Greek Heroes
Blaze and the Mountain Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
I Am David and Goliath 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hunting Season in Missouri

Winger got his first deer -- ever!

A Verse about Autumn

I liked poetry as a little girl (A.A. Milne book wtih green binding), and I recall first memorizing a verse in order to recite it at Grandmother's house for Thanksgiving Day. Ever since, I sprinkle poems into the margins of our school and family days. Imagine my joy at finding the perfect autumnal poem over the weekend. I was at Sally Clarkson's blog, and then read her daughter's blog, and found that she admires C.S. Lewis and all the Inklings… until I arrived at my favorite page about the author which tells the historic bits and how his life intersected and overlapped with Jack Lewis.

(By Owen Barfield)

An Autumn Bicycle-Ride

The leaves, grown rusty overhead,
Dropped on the road and made it red.
The air that coldly wrapped me round,
Stained by the glowing of the ground,
Had bathed the world in the cosy gloom
Of a great, red-carpeted, firelit room;
It filled my lungs, as I rode along,
Till they overflowed in a flood of song,
And joy grew truculent in my throat,
Uttering a pompous trombone-note;
For this elegant modern soul of mine
Was warm with old Autumn’s rich red wine.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Catering Chores

Captain took the twins to hockey practice this weekend, which meant that in my absence he also assumed my responsibility for team meals. I'm not sure if he liked being thrown into that position or not, but he did well catering the Saturday snack. Off to the grocery store he went for a few supplies and within an hour he had made 20 peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches--on individual plates with a side of apple slices! Isn't he handy to have a Swiss Army knife in the glove box?
Back on the home-front, I cooked all afternoon yesterday: two shortcakes and two pies in preparation for Thanksgiving feasts next week. I also made a 9x13 pan of chicken enchiladas to stay ahead of the curve!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Music at the Edges

One of the challenges is living without a piano in Nashville. Our instrument always draws me into the front room when we come back to Missouri. But I found that I also missed playing the organ every week for church. While I was home, I filled in for the early mass at St. James. (Tracy and JL treated me to a Cracker Barrel breakfast as compensation.) That old pipe organ, however, is so stiff that I get an entire workout between the two keyboards and foot pedals. Of course, I chose some of my favorite songs (which were still relevent to the liturgy).

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Success: I moved three herbs to indoor pots today. Bernadette would be so proud of the lushness of my rosemary! And I harvested some lavender stems, which smell enchanting. We also had an abundance of strawberries still in our freezer, so I canned three batches of jam, resulting in 25 pints. Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas? A taste of Southern California in a jar!

Friday, November 15, 2013


We have lived in this house just over nine years. We homeschool and, therefore, we seem to use all the rooms, all the time. In the past three months, I believe I have changed nearly every single lightbulb! Wow.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanksgiving (Next) Thursday

Thinking about Thanksgiving… 
"Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment." - C. S. Lewis
Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man - C. S. Lewis
Not just the "thanks" but also the "giving"...
"If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small." - C. S. Lewis
"There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charitable expenditure excludes them." - C. S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

College Job Interviews

Meggar had a couple of interviews this week. One of the graduating seniors is leaving at semester so that opens up a musician job at the Presbyterian Church. Would pay $75 per week.
She also interviewed with a textbook company who hires representatives for two weeks to buy back books for them. They were so impressed by Meggar's interview that they offered her the job as Supervisor for all Truman State reps.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Take Time for Tea

Catching up with friends is always a pleasure: Dee and I went to the Gothic Tea Room (just love their warm scones with homemade lemon curd). I also had a tea party with Constance today, including sausage quiche and cinnamon buns. Meggar is making scones too. She has a group presentation for her British Literature class and called me for the Scottish Scones recipe from our American Girls Cookbook. Afternoon tea just makes the class/afternoon/life go better!
Proper Scottish Scones
2 c. flour, sifted
2 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/4 t. soda
1/2 c. raisins, currants, or coconut
1/4 c. oil
1/2 c. sour cream
1 egg
3 T. milk
Combine dry ingredients first. Stir in raisins. Add remaining ingredients and stir until dough just clings together. Knead slightly on floured board, and pat to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out rounds with biscuit cutter or pretty shape. Place on greased cookie sheet. Brush tops with milk and sprinkle with pinch of sugar or sprinkles. Bake at 400' F for 12-15 minutes. Serve with butter, jam, and whipped cream.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day During Civil War

We honored Veteran's Day by teaching an all-day program for homeschoolers at the One-Room Schoolhouse. Of course, we used the 34-star flag of 1861 for flag-raising.
Polar Bear and Winger were great helpers: they braved the chilly weather to help boys saw logs for firewood and played games at recess despite the spitting rain. Indoors, we girls worked on embroidery and learned about quilts. We did ciphering, recitations, butter churning, and finished up with a couple of fiddle tunes.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Prodigal Son

Meggar calls him the "Prodigal Son," since he hasn't come back since college began in August. But Dorito looked so grown up when he walked in!
He is claiming a "No Shave November" look, and told us stories of being swamped with studying and socializing at K-State. Spencer liked his Phi Kap jacket, and the twins liked hearing about the sorority girls he has met. Dorito was also on the evening news at the Free Bacon Night at Bramalage Coliseum.
This weekend, we tried to roll out the red carpet for everyone with homemade food (including three desserts) and visits with friends. The boys went skating, watched movies, and enjoyed NHL hockey at Buffalo Wild Wings. We girls drank tea and went to the craft shows and estate sales around town (including the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art). Saw several people we knew. At the Rusty Chandelier Gift Expo, I came upon a booth of antique button jewelry and the "Closures" name seemed very familiar. So I asked the owner... Sure enough, I remembered her! She began her button jewelry business in Salina roughly 20 years ago. I bought a bracelet of Civil War buttons from her the summer of 1996 at the Smoky Hill River Festival (we lived in Salina that year). It has 12 pretty brass buttons in a row, and I spent a fortune on it. Well, $30 was a fortune to me back then as a stay-at-home mother with a toddler and baby. Best coincidence of all, I was wearing it today! She was tickled to see my bracelet, and she offered to replace its missing button--for FREE.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Old Home Week

Lesa was in town for some business. Just saw her in Detroit in September at hockey tournament, but it was fun to catch up with her this week. And to celebrate Alison's birthday. And to hear Brenda's report from book club.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Home, Sweet Home

Been back for three days in our "own" beds, which is always nice after lots of driving. Captain calculated 90 hours in the past few weeks, but I didn't want to check his math. Instead I calculated hockey stats for twins, proofread two papers for Dorito, and worked the polls all day Tuesday. The ballot only contained a tax measure, so the turnout was low. I don't mind working 13.5 hours when I'm allowed to read! I finished three magazines and half of the PD James novel "Death Comes to Pemberly."

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Hockey Games in Pittsburgh

Yes, all my posts are about hockey lately.
Polar Bear is keeping stats for the Super Series in Pittsburgh this weekend. Captain said knows more about the game than we imagined. He can see the full ice and the strategies of other players. He would make a terrific coach. We tried be happy about having won four games, but today's loss against Belle Tire was hard to stomach. They are our rival and appeared to roster three players from their National squad this afternoon. Plus their crowd of moms was rowdy and plain rude. On the bright side, Polar Bear remains the only Thunder player to score against the Belle Tire team, as we lost 0-4 today without him.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Foods of New England

Laurie took us to Clyde's Cider Mill for hot caramel apple cider and cider doughnuts.
This is the only steam-powered mill in the U.S. and is still operating like it did in 1881. They make hard and sweet ciders, wine, jam, preserves, etc. with the sixth generation family members.
We left yesterday with full tummies of clam chowder, and we were grateful for the hospitality of the Green and Peoples families.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Walk on the Beach

We enjoyed the mild weather and spent some time gathering shells and critters at the beach today.

 Winger had to help Polar Bear get on and off… his crutches are helping take the weight off but his right leg is compensating and has become so tensed up that it is nearly 2-inches shorter than the injured left leg now.
The twins also enjoyed the tree swing that Tom hung out back.  Better than trick-or-treating!!