Thursday, February 28, 2013

Last Day for Pope Benedict XVI

When Pope Benedict announced that he was stepping down from the Chair of St. Peter, he revealed that he was led to this decision by God during prayer. In his characteristically no-nonsence German style, he set the exact date (today) and time so that the 1 billion Catholics in the world could use Lent to pray for his successor. Although there has been some un-charitable speculation about his motives and health as well as some unlikely spin by the media about the opportunities for drastic change, I am actually in awe again of the Roman Catholic Church and its rich traditions. Unlike 8 years ago, my children can join me in following the news and developments with greater interest! First, we sent in our contribution to the spiritual bouquet (organized partly by Alison) and we adopted a cardinal to pray for during the Conclave.


Captain is home from his Sunday-Thursday trip. He is so sick! This is the worst I've ever seen him in a long time. Coughing non-stop. Fever and achy pains.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The puzzle he wanted in Washington, D.C. is coming along nicely. Glad that some of my preschool "thinking games" are paying off. We need more people who can pay attention to details and solve what lies in their lap.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Snow Dayz

What do homeschoolers do on a snow day?
1. Sleep in (after 5:45 am wake up call that Hillyard canceled class);
2. Eat simply (apple fritters for breakfast, bacon-and-eggs for lunch);
3. Give 3 haircuts (and suffer 3 arguments about said haircuts);
4. Have boys dust their dressers (once-a-year feat);
5. Watch action movie;
6. Make snow ice cream;
7. Piddle with another scholarship form, procrastinate, repeat;
8. Go to bed early.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Using Our Talents

Yesterday was KCMTA's Concerto Recital, and I enjoyed watching the twins enter for the first time. They both played music by Seitz. Winger performed Concerto No. 2, 3rd movement; and Polar Bear performed Concerto No. 5, 1st movement. Both had their pieces memorized and performed really well on the stage. I am not as technology-oriented as Captain is, so no recording was made to share with this blog spot. For those of you at Meggar's Senior Recital, you would have heard Dorito playing the same songs -- he was a freshman that year. What a great accomplishment for any high schooler. And a treat for my ears!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Forbearance in Lent

(Confirmation Prep)
Fruit of the Holy Spirit #7 - Long Suffering

I think this topic is especially fruitful for us during Lent. Long suffering doesn't exactly mean suffering for a long time, but it means getting along with all different types of people and acting with maturity in all situations. It is hard to live without losing your temper, but as adults we want to strive to control ourselves in all areas of life/thoughts/actions/words -- in the home, at school, at work, in the neighborhood, and with our church family. When we have the attitude of long-suffering, we do not attribute bad motives to other people, we don't pick arguments to show we are right, and we recognize that God has put certain people and experiences in our path for our own good. (His plan is always best.) In all encounters, we should eek to act with maturity and patience, especially if misunderstandings occur or our actions are misinterpreted. The attitude of long-suffering will help us live a happy life and help build up others in the Body of Christ.
Of course we are more easily long-suffering with little kids, like baby Ana, or Aunt Lois who don't know better. And of course, Jesus knows when we choose to accept long-suffering with others, such as a friend who favors the Democrats or who someone who plays worse hockey than we would like.
It also means that we should endure our circumstances even when it is not convenient to be a Catholic, such as: going to mass on holy days of obligation, refraining from meat on Fridays of Lent when you are at restaurants or with friends, keeping our Lenten penance for what we have pledged to give up, and not arguing with other Christians who have doctrinal differences with us.
Some Biblical examples -- 
Noah, who built the ark in the middle of the desert even when people were obstinate with him for listening to God's will, and endured 40 days and 40 nights in the rain;
Seven Sons of Maccabeus, who remained steadfast while they and their mother watched as each brother was tortured and martyred before their own eyes;
Paul, who was imprisoned multiple times and suffered many tortures for his Christian preaching -- (2 Corinthians 11:25)
I think the best ways to develop long-suffering are:
1. Follow the Golden Rule -- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
2. Think about the possible harm that be done with your impatience, and choose a better response.
3. Pray to the saints, who have truly suffered for the faith, asking for strength and join your own sufferings with the wounds of Christ on the cross.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cleaning Music

What would I do without Pandora?! I love my access to Michael Buble radio while cleaning the kitchen/house. Plus I love that it is free! Speaking of savings, my tank of gas was reduced $6.40 because of my accumulated HyVee gas points, which is wonderful. Now I won't go into the politics of gas prices nor our failed economy under Mr. O... I'm too happy listening to "Hold On"

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ups and Downs

Winger had to go to the podiatrist today, and they decided lance the abscess on his ankle. It was fiery red when he woke up this morning, and we were concerned. Seems his foot has grown and his skate needs to be re-moulded to fit better.
Dorito went first at speech class (only 5 people out of 20 even showed up) and thought he did well. He started off with this quote from Albert Einstein: "Scientists investigate that which already is; engineers create that which never has been."
We had our first home mass today. Fr. Benjamin wanted to visit since there was no school today, and he interviewed the twins for Confirmation approval too. Good lunch for all of us.
Polar Bear has gone up to Des Moines one day early with a hockey friend, and they have two important games tomorrow.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Snow Day

Everyone rested and tried to recouperate from injuries and runny noses today. Dorito interviewed one of the engineers at Herzog and wrote up a report on it to give at his speech class tomorrow. A trio of cute girls walked over to visit Polar Bear, which livened up everyone's evening :-)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Romantic Movies

Captain and I watched the final episode of "Downton Abbey" on Sunday night. He just barely made it back in time for this tear-jerker finale! But I am starting to be annoyed that Mr. Fellowes is not writing a script accurate to 1912-20 except in clothing and castles.
Meggar was pleased on Valentine's Day when Spencer offered to watch "Pride and Prejudice" with her after a candle-light dinner! He knows what is in her heart. Then over the weekend, she had arranged tickets for him to go with her to see an Opera! They saw "Rigoletto" live from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City via the movie theatre in Columbia. She thought it was well worth the drive, and gets extra credit for her music history class. I'm going to check and see if they are ever offered at our theatre in St. Joseph.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hockey Weekend -- Whoa and Wow

Wow--I haven't complimented Polar Bear on hockey for the past few months, even though he is the points leader of his team, because he hasn't made any improvements to his game. Until this weekend. WOW! He got his snipe shot back. Won game 5 for us. He went after the puck 110% instead of counting on his easy-to-come-by talent.  He is now tied as leading scorer with 32 goals this season. Plus he has 30 assists, which proves his unselfishness in making it easy for others to score.
Winger has been and continues to be the BEST player on this team. No kidding. He works the hardest while playing center, wing, and defense all during one shift! This weekend in Minnesota they beat the #6 team and #15 team, but lost to #19 and #14. The Russell Stover team is still ranked #22, but we hope will move up before Districts and Nationals next month.
Now for the injury report--Whoa! Dorito took a stick under his chin as referee during the high school tournament. Bleeding makes you look tough. Then two games later, he turned slightly and was hit by the flying puck on his jaw. Split the skin below his lip and bruised his gums. He came straight home, and looks like he has been in a fight because of the swelling. Polar Bear defended a slap shot at close range and was hit so hard in the ankle that it is sprained. Winger took two hits along the boards and has a goose-egg the size of a golf ball on his hip. Dark and ugly bruise, too. Everyone is on pain killers, ice packs, and hot tub treatments. I think it's time for the season to be over.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit 6 - Goodness

(Confirmation Prep) Fruit of the Holy Spirit #6 = Goodness
At first you might think goodness is very similar to kindness (our last topic). But in this verse we do not mean being good, but doing good and pushing others to do good. I guess goodness is bigger than kindness. It is an attitude that should encompass our whole lifestyle. We start off by knowing that God is good all the time. And we recognize how we are trying to be good every day. As we get older, we are hopefully better and better at living the good Catholic life. Lent is a time to examine our personalities and see where we need to do better. Maybe what we give up is something that is a problem or temptation for us. Maybe what we give up will strengthen us for bigger challenges. Maybe we will add something during Lent to stretch our spiritual muscles and improve our devotion to Jesus. Throughout the 40 days, it is important not to give up on your discipline.
Psalm 25:7
“Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; 
according to your steadfast love remember me, 
for the sake of your goodness, O Lord!”

The clearest example that comes to mind is Pope Benedict XVI, especially since he has announced his resignation during Lent. He has been our Pope for eight years, but his goodness stretches way back to his youth (hard-working student at Catholic schools) through two decades at Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith (hard-working hardliner). He endured many criticisms by the media and even from other Catholics. Yet he has written abundantly for the good of the Church, and he sets a good example of Goodness

Galatians 6:9
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Friday, February 15, 2013

KSU Engineering Day

What a jam-packed day--complete with physics jokes and milli-volt measurement labs!
Dorito and I spent the whole day on the K-State campus for Engineering Day. We toured all three Engineering buildings, had lunch in the Union, and met with current M.E. ambassadors. Dorito is definitely excited about the Mechanical Engineering opportunities ahead. It was great to listen as the engineering student teams talked about their projects: SpyKat, concrete canoe, formula one racecar, Willie Bridge, etc. as they prepare for the upcoming national competitions. We also saw Jordan, a senior in mechanical engineering whom we met at dinner last night at the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity. With its Catholic roots and bubbly house-mom, this house is a positive prospect for our son.
Meanwhile, the rest of campus is celebrating the 150th birthday of the university today and tomorrow. There were 20+ wildcat statues on parade at the Alumni Center decorated by various artists in a variety of fun styles: candy wrappers, sunflowers, art deco, sports, photos, psychedelic, Egyptian, etc. We liked the one with racing stripes and foil!
Later in the afternoon, Dorito went bowling with the men of Chi Rho Catholic fraternity. He also toured Delta Upsilon and Lambda Chi Alpha fraternities.
And I was happy to wear my hat and gloves to the Dean's Tea Party at the College of Human Ecology. Pattie and I met up at Justin Hall. We both thought the scones and lemon cookies were scrumptious! The silver tea service was engraved from 1948 and the tea cups had a champagne colored glaze that was gorgeous. We talked of "old times" like homeschooling and "new" adventures such as archaeological digs, historic costume preservation, and one-room schoolhouse marms.
Drove home in a heavy snow-storm! Constance will say that is the story of my life!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day

There are only a few more weekends of travel left this season. Today the twins and Captain are on the road to Faribault. I sent candy, cookies, and cough medicine. They are so tough!
Captain and I will had an early morning coffee date to Caribou Coffee.

Though slightly belated, I am reading some of these Pinterest posts for Valentine's Day too!

Dorito will be "celebrating" in Manhattan this evening, with dinner at the Phi Kapp fraternity and a campus visit for Engineering majors tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday & Penance

We will be offering up some of our prayers and penance during this Lenten season for the election of a new Pope. Today was perhaps his last mass at the See of St. Peter. We were not expecting this news of his retirement--even though Joseph Ratzinger is 86 years old. We have admired the 8-years of service given by Pope Benedict XVI. His fortitude was expected, his loving kindness was a bonus. Even my non-Catholic friends were surprised and asked me for a reaction. Two days later, I can only say that I respect a man who knows his boundaries. (I am a big fan of the "Boundaries" series of books by Cloud/Townsend.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lincoln's Viewpoint

The best part of homeschooling is diving so deeply into history. In recognition of Lincoln's birthday today, I add a few quotes from a man I greatly admire for his fortitude, self-effacing humor, and sacrifice to the greater good for the glory of God.
(from the Capitol Bldg. in Washington, D.C.)
"Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, Man was made for immortality." - A. Lincoln
"Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty." - A. Lincoln (First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit - 5

Confirmation Prep #5 - Kindness is a good virtue to follow up from Patience.
Most acts of kindness take extra time for Christians -- and who has extra time?! It takes a little patience whenever we practice kindness: holding the door open for someone, unloading our many bags of groceries, washing the water bottles for the whole team, adopting a family at Christmas, etc. 
The best examples I could find in the Bible about kindness are:
1. The Good Samaritan -- a traveling man (who was likely busy and thinking about other things) stops to take care of a stranger. He spends money for the lodging and health care of this stranger (who is politically and culturally an enemy of his own people). Are we kind to others? Even our enemies in the same way? What a challenge for how far our kindness should extend!!
2. The Wedding Feast at Cana -- the couple has run out of wine at the party where Jesus and his disciples are attending as their friends. He turns the water into wine, really good wine. He gives the wedding couple the BEST of gifts, and he does not brag with his elaborate gift, but does it so kindly (in a nearly unseen way).  Jesus was showing the sacredness of weddings, and He was showing his love for the joyful hearts for everyone at this wedding. It is so important that it is the 2nd Luminous Mystery of the Rosary. 
Megan and I were fortunate enough to see the huge painting of the "Wedding Feast at Cana" at the Louvre Museum in Paris. It arrived in Paris after it was stolen from an Italian monastery by Napolean. It measures 22 x 32 feet, and it sits opposite from the tiny "Mona Lisa" (measuring only 30 x 21 inches). The huge painting shows the reception with music, fancy clothes, and dogs playing around their feet. Some say you can see the next course being prepared--lambs are being butchered for roasting. The painter gives us many Catholic symbols, including the shining light around Christ's head. 
(from Spencer) At SLUH, we had prayer on the P.A. system three times a day. "We dedicate all of our thoughts, words, and actions..." (response:) "to the greater glory of God." Saying this three times a day for roughly 180 school days a year for four years means that I said this 2160 times. So I've thought about it once or twice. This saying comes from Ignatius; its original Latin is Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam. Kindness is more than our actions, and I think that is what people miss most. We see the kindness in others through their words and actions, but God sees our kindness in EVERYTHING we think, do, and say. This is strange to think about, but kindness is most important when no one is looking and no one knows about it. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Science Fair 2013

Another year of the Homeschool Science Fair is under our belts. I'm so pleased!
Winger won First Place in the high school division with his dissection of a cow's eye and explanation of the strabismus surgery he had back in 2007.

Polar Bear landed in Fourth Place in the high school division for dissecting a frog and trying to make the legs twitch with salt/sodium ions. Apparently he didn't have fresh enough frog legs.

Dorito took Fifth Place in the high school division by dissected a fetal pig and correctly identifying the 15 major parts of its anatomy.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Boy Scouts Don't Get Vote

The board of directors for the Boy Scouts of America met this week, but they didn't even vote on the issue of whether to allow homosexuals into their membership. What a pity! The matter was tabled. Hmm. How convenient. The most knowledgable adult Scouters say the pressure is coming from only two of the top directors. What did the other 12 men say?  And what about the outpouring of letters, emails, texts, and phone calls in the days before the meeting?  I'm sure there was an overwhelming amount of support for leaving the 100-year legacy exactly as it stands. But the news media didn't report "our side" and ignored that outpouring. I'm sorry the directors were not brave enough to say either. I wanted them to go "on record" with their views.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Fruit of the Spirit - 4

Patience (Confirmation Prep #4)
1 Timothy 1:16 -- "But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, who was the foremost sinner, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in Him for everlasting life."
We see that Jesus is patient with sinners. He was VERY patient with St. Paul so we know we can trust Him to be patient with us and the salvation of all souls.  Secondly, we should model our patience on the example of Christ. Patience is the bearing of pains, troubles, misfortunes, and annoyances without anger, irritation, or complaint. Bearing means "holding up something very heavy." When you are going through difficult times, it can feel like you are carrying a heavy burden everywhere you go. Trying to have patience means that you don't get angry or complain. The Holy Spirit is there to help you see the wisdom of practicing patience. Stopping to take a deep breath helps us be patient with our words. Angry words will not help the situation, but an act of patience will work better. Let's work to be wise and patient this week!
Proverbs 19:11 -- "A wise man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression."
(Uncle Clint) n a related note from my own work, the Latin root of obstetrics is obstare which can be translated to wait, to be patient.  Good obstetricians are patient.  Women can be in labor for days before giving birth.  If I get impatient and try to force things, it can cause more complications and difficulties.  I have to wait until things are just right to act sometimes. It's hard for me too because I really like to be on time.  If I ever think I am patient, I just have to go through a day of seeing 20 patients to realize how limited my patience is.  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

"Number the Stars" on Stage

Our field trip today was to the Coterie Theatre play -- based on the book "Number the Stars." Very well done performance about a Danish family hiding their Jewish friends. Thanks to Alison for coordinating our group outing Crown Center!

Immigration Issues

Captain has spent the whole week in a southern Texas location. Close to the border. Definitely not a vacation, despite the prospects of a pool to yourself and warm temperatures. I'll just say that it was more than a little enlightening -- especially when one considers many of the immigration issues he witnessed. Up close and personal. "Got your papers on you, sir?!"

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

More Dissections

We love the kits we ordered!

Winger was excited about wielding a scapel on a cow eye. He easily could reproduce the dissection video and label all the parts.

Polar Bear found the frog dissection to be a little tougher. He became more enthusiastic after he got safely through the skin and the tough layer of fat. Now he can pick out the tiny organs!

Dorito is lagging on his fetal pig project because of quizzes this week in College Algebra, College Trig, and College Speech classes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Rest in Peace

Linda Schmidling Butler (59)
passed away yesterday
at her home in Alaska
with her husband Brian
and son Cade (17).
It was the same day her Grandma Cecilia had died --exactly 20 years ago (Feb. 3, 1983).
May her soul and all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

National Priorities

Of course, we are American.
But we don't care that much about the NFL
(and rightly so given their lifestyles). Superbowl Sunday is always met with mixed emotions around here. I laid out a little spread of junk food: BBQ wings, Little Smokies, cheese and crackers, chips and dip, etc. etc. and went to pick up the boys from their hockey ride about 6:00 pm. We munched and watched about 30 minutes of live streaming--mostly repeated commercials and a semi-black-out. (Where is the robotics engineer when you need him?!) Then we went to late mass at St. Patrick's Church, and we weren't the ONLY ones there. (Shocking to discover 20 un-American and orthodox people actually live in our city?) In all the hub-bub, I forgot about "Downton Abbey" episode 5 on Masterpiece Theater. Luckily it is online all week for re-runs.
This reminds me of the year Meggar and I were scuttled away to the back bedroom to watch some Jane Austen (Jane-uary on PBS) during Coach Madill's SuperBowl Party. Priorities!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Watching the Games

All my boys are happy about the return of the NHL to the ice. Captain caved in and bought "GameCenter Live," which allows us to watch that one cable channel on any computer, phone, or TV in our house. I wonder if anyone will start yelling at the TV? Actually, Dorito quietly says "Yep" when the refs make a good call. The twins just lean in closer and watch the "moves" especially when there's a replay of a goal scored. Since only 2-3 goals are scored in a game, you can imagine how important they are. The Staal brothers are on the same team now. And the Sedin twins remain on the same team/same line. Blues lost, but Luongo had a shut out. Fun!!  Now why can't I buy the  "Food Network" channel that way?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fruits of the Spirit - 3

Confirmation Prep #3 = Peace
      John 14:27   "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
Blessed Pope John Paul II was frequently saying "Be Not Afraid." And there is a beautiful hymn by the same title which I find comforting in times of trouble. The Bible actually mentions "Be Not Afraid" exactly 365 times--enough for one phrase to comfort us every day of the year! As a teenager, there are uncertainties and many changes occurring. I recommend holding on to the peace of Christ as you navigate your way through high school and on to college.
    I always try to remember what Fr. Matt told me: Prayer is not just when you kneel and say a rosary. Prayer is any activity that brings us closer to God by letting us feel peace and joy. Now, that does not mean that time set aside for talking to God is not important because it is, but I think what he was saying is that God wants us to find happiness in our everyday lives. --Spencer