Monday, April 30, 2007

I found some muscles...

....that I had no idea I had!
What an unbelievably exhausting day!!
School went very well and I'm glad we got it done.
So, the stone showed up at 1:30. The driver who delivered it was very nice and did a great job of dumping it perfectly on the tarp I had put down! Really made me think of Dan and how he thinks!
So then I layed out the weed barrier, which is probably unnecessary because I dug up all the grass, and it's going to be one tough weed that can get up through all the stuff we put down! I had to put bricks around the outside to edge it and since I didn't have enough, I had to steal them from beside the driveway. Tim says he'll get more tomorrow after work.
Then it was hauling the stone dust up the yard, setting the stones, which are just beautiful, by the way, and settling them in place. Then I had to dig out a little more of the cursed grass! I really hate that!
Lemar, our next door neighbor, came over and carried a whole bunch of stone from the tarp up the hill. I thanked him and he said "It's better than looking at four walls"
He is taking the train out west on Wednesday to see Dean in SF. I am so glad he is going. He'll have so much fun!

So after about 4 1/2 hours and maybe a pulled back, I have a little stone terrace in the front.
I am going to get my pots up from the back and fill them with flowers, and get a bird bath.
then I will have a pretty, colorful area to look at out the front window.
When Tim got home he put the rest of the path down. We have to do the steps yet, but it is going to be so nice not to have all that mud when it rains!
Then we can work our way gradually around the other side as we have time.
Tomorrow I just have to finish raking all the dirt up out of the lawn and I might try to mow.
Then it's done for the moment and that's the last big project that I HAD to finish before Lucy gets here and I go away for a week! I am so glad that it's where it needs to be!

I'll post pictures tomorrow!

Lots of progress!

A very busy weekend, and lots of progress!
Saturday I started working on digging out the grass in the yard. Man, that is some hard work!
The grass in that area isn't even very healthy. The boys were out there helping. Brendan sat there on the porch "worm-spotting". Every time he'd see a worm he say "There's one , watch out! Don't hurt it!" I wasn't really able to be efficient and humane at the same time. He kept looking at me like I was murdering puppies, and then he said "Man, I hate killing." So I sent them inside to spare them the gruesome spectacle.

Tim finished the ceiling in the new room! It looks so nice! I'm so excited because it really looks like a room now. No more awful rafters.
Next comes the wainscotting and then the floor.
I am still trying to figure out what kind of furnishings to use. I have been looking at different kinds of chairs. I have a couple of bookcases and I want to get a square coffee table.

School is so much nicer now that it is Spring! The boys wanted to read outside today. They got to see some Goldfinches on the feeder while they were out there.
It's so warm out today!

The Knight's Bull Roast was a huge success! I think they really raised a lot of money. The plan is that it will go to seminarians. Everyone was having so much fun and the food was great. Mark and the boys had fun and I am really very pleased with the dynamic between them. John is really very responsible and the other two were very good. So I feel comfortable with Mark as a sitter for short term outings. As he gets a bit older I will feel comfortable having them here for longer times. I really like the fact that Mark is mature enough to make decisions and handle things and yet still young enough to enjoy being here and hanging out with them. I really trust Mark in his behavior. I've known him since he was about 5 and I see him at daily Mass and I've had some good talks with him.

So onward and upward. May is upon us! I am trying to finish everything I start as quickly as possible so that when Laura calls I can just pack up and go.

Well, back to school!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

One Year Closer to Heaven!

So here I am at 43.
I am so very grateful to God for the life He has blest me with!
A wonderful family, a vocation that fits me perfectly, and the health to see it all through.
There will be two new little people in my life this year! A wonderful new world as grandparents for Tim and I and the boys will be such good uncles!
I have my wonderful vocation within Regnum Christi. That is a precious gift that has truely raised life to a different plane. To Suzanne goes my deepest thanks for being so faithful in tending the seed that was planted.
I think the only thing about life at this moment that puzzles me, is the lack of more little feet running around OUR house.
I am becoming more acutely aware of each passing month and year.
It is such a strange feeling, after years of children coming along so easily, to keep saying "yes!" and keep hearing a gentle "no". It is not exactly painful, as it would be if we had not been able to have had children at all, or had had years of miscarraiges as some women do. I am infinitely grateful to God for all my beautiful children! I am grateful to Him for the little one that we didn't get to share this life with, but who waits for us in the next. Thank You sweetie for all your prayers and help from where you are.
I know that there is always a very good reason anytime we pray and are told "I have a different plan for you." I am very happy living His perfect plan. I just have to be patient to find what it is!
I just wonder, sometimes, why we haven't been given a promotion lately.
We have prayed about adopting, it just seems that that isn't His plan either.

Still, this is going to be an amazing year! I can't wait to meet all these babies! Laura, Nina, April Taylor, it's just mind boggling!

I give You thanks, Almighty God, for all Your good Gifts and loving care. And mostly for the precious gift of your Son, who has given me a life that will not be measured in years, but in Love.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hey Lucy! Want a birthday?

Well, I am anxiously awaiting a call from Laura and Andrew that Lucy has decided to make her debut. I am still hoping that she will decide that tomorrow would be as good a day as any. I'd love to give my birthday away to my darling granddaughter!
I am all ready to go. I just have to throw all the stuff in the car and get up there. So Lucy...

Today we had a pretty laid back day. It was raining like crazy all night last night. We made it to Mass and it was still coming down pretty hard. John wanted to go to confession because Fr Kempski was there. He always likes to go to him. He says he knows he will have to start going to Fr Jay one of these days. It's nothing personal but Fr K was the one who did his first confession a couple of years ago and I think he's just so comfortable with him. It's so funny. About once a month all the kids go up to Fr K after Friday a.m. Mass and ask to have confession. Father is so patient, I know it sets his morning back about half an hour!

We didn't have too much to do for school. All three boys had math and piano. John had a few things to finish up from earlier in the week. His Math is a challenge but he is doing well. He is learning formulas that he will use next year in early Algebra. He is also getting into adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers. We have been doing some Geometry exercises with the home improvement projects that we are doing. He is calculating perimeters and square footage and getting darn good at it!
I have been having both boys read for History. They are both enjoying that.
Brendan is going to be in the the next reader very soon! I am going to keep him going on those all summer. He will also be doing a math lesson or two each week.
Paul is just catching a bit of school when he is in the mood. He is reading really well and has the basic Math concepts down, so I am not really doing a whole lot at this point in the year.

Tomorrow is pool clean-up day at our pool. Then I am going to dig up a little of the lawn in anticipation of Monday. Have to get the grass out and the landscape cloth down. Then when the stone is delivered I can start placing them. I'll bet I'm going to be somewhat sore.

Sunday is the Knights of Columbus Bull roast. We do have tickets and I got a babysitter. We are going to have Mark Hoppel come over for the first time. The boys just love him. John is getting old enough to know the rules and actually be a help. We will be right up the street and I will call to check on them. Our neighbor will be home and he is happy to check in too.

I think I may beg off on Art on Monday. If the stone is coming and we can get school out of the way, I want to work on that in the afternoon.
I'll probably skip Scouts too for that matter. Brendan is all done and ready to move up to Wolves. All John has left is his Knife requirement. I guess I'd better get him a knife so we can work on that. The next meeting after this is the crossover, where they move to the next level. Then no more scouting stuff until the big camping trip in August. I love it when things start to wind down!
I am thinking we will probably finish school in the middle of May and then do field trips for the balance of the month. We'll be in Frostburg for a while in May, but I can take school along.

Well, I should have more pictures to post this weekend. Lots doing!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Political Commentary...

As we were driving around yesterday, we were listening to the news on the radio. John made a comment about how it would be good to be in politics so that you could do a lot of good for people, something to that effect. So I told him how hard it is for politicians to be true to their ideals and beliefs. We talked about how many politicians compromise their beliefs and values because they want to do what people want so that they can get re-elected. So John said "Hmmm...You'd have to be a lot like Pontius Pilate."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

We're very, very busy...

I feel like I have been living the song "Busy, busy,busy"!

We had such a day today! Productive, but head-spinningly busy!

We started out with school in the kitchen, because of a burned-out fluorescent bulb in the school-room that Tim had to replace. This actually worked out well because I had to get a meal together for a family that has a new baby. So I cooked and helped the boys with their work. I was also trying to make arrangements on the phone for several events that are coming up.
We had to get school done by 1:30, which is getting to be more and more of a challenge as the year grinds on.

I had to deliver the meal to Forest Hill, about 40 minutes away, so I didn't cook the chicken, just got it ready to cook. I made the Pilaf and the Green Beans and baked the brownies though. We all piled into the van at 2:00 and drove to the Plate's house. They were out but they have an Au Paire for the time-being and she was there to receive the meal. Only problem was, she is from Paraguay and speaks no English, so when I couldn't explain that the food needed to be refrigerated until it was time to cook it, I went in and made it at home in the fridge. Paula is a very sweet girl and they are very lucky to have her. They are also very lucky that they are all fluent in Spanish!

So from Casa de Plate' we went down to Greenspring Garden Supply so that I could look at the stone that I want to use in the front for a small terrace. It was threatening rain, but we got there in time. The stone is really beautiful! I am excited about what it will do for the front. It will be delivered Monday and I will take lots of pictures as we do our project. I also ordered a yard of Stone dust to put under it to level and secure it. We will have to get some bigger pieces for the steps that will go down the hill. I almost choked when I found out what this was all going to cost and the delivery fee, but it's rock for heaven's sake, it will be around forever!
And that didn't keep me from going to the greenhouse to buy a Honeysuckle plant to climb up the trellis that Judy gave us. It will be really beautiful when it blooms!
After we left the Nursery I realized that we had enough time for me to stop at the MVA and renew my license. Well, not terribly entertaining on the best day, but the boys did have fun playing with the eye tester and asking tons of questions. And I have a new license.
Now I can drive with impunity until 2013!

When we got home the sky was really gray! I put the pot with the plant out in the back and then went in with the intention of starting dinner. It wasn't raining yet. The lawn was in desperate need. I thought I could just get the front done in time. So I got the mower out, and checked the gas. It looked pretty low, but I figured there would be enough to do the front. That beastly thing started right up and I got the front done. Well, it still had gas so I figures I'd do as much of the back as the fuel and weather would allow. I'm turning into my father. I love mowing though so I just kept going and I finished!

Ok so then I went in to start dinner...
I put it in the oven and then I had just enough time to put my plant in the ground!


Oh and as bonus we saw this little guy out on the Mamosa!
These birds are so much fun!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Einstein on God...

I read something that Fr Cusak sent to me today. It's from an article by Fr Rolheiser.
He wrote about some entries in a Diary that was kept by Albert Einstein.
I was just so amazed that such a profound mind could grasp the concept of true humility so well...

"As a child I received religious instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene.... No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

Asked whether or not he believed in God: "I am not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is.

"That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being towards God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws."

"The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder or stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man."

To stay that fresh and insightful with a mind that contained such an array of methodology and such a need to prove information correct is a miracle in itself.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Beautiful Life


Today is the Anniversary of two of the greatest people I have ever known, and a couple that knows no comparison.

People frequently achieve notice individually for their character, intellect, physical achievements, etc. It's pretty amazing, however for two people together to achieve an inspirational life by virtue of their togetherness.

That is Dick and Sue. Mom and Dad. Grandma and Grandpa.

I can only imagine 45 years of common purpose, shared joy and sorrow.
I know when the scary times have come along that I have been so comforted in knowing that what Mom is going through, Dad is going through and vice versa. The scary times come along for all of us. What a Blessing to have the one God gave you beside you until you are beside Him.
The days go by and we are all going one direction, towards an eternity. Those days are so rich and fulfilling when you are traveling towards Eternity with the one soul that you know wants you to find Heaven more than they want it for themselves.

That is Dick and Sue.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the road map to the joy at Cana. And can you imagine? He is saving the best wine for last!

Friday, April 20, 2007

I Am SO ready for a WEEKEND!

And so are the boys!
Tim has been gone all week, school is quite challenging right now because, of course, at the end of the year you are trying to fit in all the usual subjects, and then try to do just a few more supplemental activities. John has a couple of projects that he wants to do, I would really like to finish this little writing program that we just started, we need to get out in the yard and have a Science lesson, and Brendan and Paul need to get to their Thank-You notes!

Funny thing happened with my little plants in the peat-pots. See, I was trying to be smart and label the plants with labels that wouldn't come off or get lost. So I wrote the name of the seed right on the pot in permanent marker. Well, that marker is permanent on most things, but it's not guaranteed against soaking water 24 hours a day. As the peat pots are kept wet all the time, the marker has disappeared!
So now we will have a wonderful lesson on plant identification based on the leaves of our little plants. At least I kept all the seed packets! I need to know what they are so that when I plant the boxes they don't all come up in odd places and with all the tall ones in front or something.

I think we are in for a warmer weekend and I am hoping to get a lot done out there. The front yard looks like a hayfield.
Tim is planning to get the rest of the sub-floor down this weekend and maybe we will go and buy the stuff for the ceiling. I'll have to post lots of pictures.

Well, I am going to go be a big meanie and go make John finish his math. He is getting close to the end of the book! He hasn't had a problem with any of the concepts this year. Saxon is redeeming itself with me this year.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A few more feathered friends...and a furry one.

Well, the weather is getting a bit better and we are starting to see more of the birds that we usually see in the warmer months.
Brendan's all time favorite is the Blue Jay. They have been all over the backyard. They aren't very brave around here, and they usually eat from the ground feeder or under the squirrel feeder. They are so flashy! We really enjoy them.

The boys also spotted a Goldfinch in winter plumage. John said he looked almost Green.

Then the other day I had a treat! I got to see our local Cooper's Hawk hunting across the street.
What a gorgeous bird! He spends a lot of time over there and this time was rewarded with a meal!And then we have the pesky squirrels. They are forever trying to find ways to beat us at the game of feeding the birds.
Judy M gave me a tip that may just work. You put a slinky, yes a metal slinky, around the pole and the little critters can't climb up. Well. We shall see. It will be fun to watch anyway.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A few other happenings

Then we have the new floor going in. We all signed the concrete underneath. Paul's was pretty cute! Brendan was in a very silly mood and hamming for the camera. John is VERY proud of his new fishing pole. He had been saving up for it and is anxiously awaiting a chance to go fishing with his brother-in-law. Or anyone who will take him for that matter!

In an odd twist of fate, a local fisherman was the victim of a mysterious Bass rebellion.
We don't yet know what has become of him but witnesses have said that they had noticed smoke from what might have been a campfire....

All the news that fits...

OK, this is going to be a long one because I finally downloaded all my pictures and got them edited and titled (and ordered about six months worth of prints because Sony had a sale!).
So I will start with the Birthday party at Chuck E Cheese last Friday night. It really seems like as long time ago. Less than a week though. The boys wanted to do something different and we have been having at-home birthday parties for years. They opted for Chuck E Cheese. They do a pretty good party there and for boys it's pretty much ideal because they can really play hard and be as silly as they want! Brendan didn't care for the whole dancing/singing/meet the mouse routine. He is a lot like his mother. Paul was hamming it up all night. He really does enjoy a good party.
Our guests were: The Beyers, Callum and Aiden, our friends from TORCH, and Kevin Hoppel.
The Hauf boys were sick and we really missed them. So this is how the youngest Merkel boys spent their birthdays this year.

Our God is an Awesome God

I just read this amazing story that came out after the horrible massacre in Va yesterday.

Emerging Heroes

Professor Liviu Librescu was 76 years old, a Holocaust survivor and a professor of engineer mechanics at Virgnia Tech. The Jerusalem Post reports:

As Jews worldwide honored on Monday the memory of those who were murdered in the Holocaust, a 75-year-old survivor sacrificed his life to save his students in Monday's shooting at Virginia Tech College that left 32 dead and over two dozen wounded.

Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter, who had attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, "but all the students lived - because of him," Virginia Tech student Asael Arad - also an Israeli - told Army Radio.

Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said the son, Joe.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv. "Students started opening windows and jumping out."

At least three professors were among the victims.

Thinking about how this Professor survived the Holocaust, with the hand of God on his life, so that he would live all these years, and then give his life for a classroom full of young people...
Only God knows our path. This will be a catalyst to at least some of the young people in that room. What will they do? How will they change? What will the course of their lives be? Who will they go on to affect forever?
Tragedies like this just seem to crystalize the places where good and evil intersect. Those places are never easy to experience but they are never wasted. They may be incomprehensible to us, but somehow they aren't senseless in the eternal perspective.

Professor Librescu is now in a place where all of this makes sense.

God Bless Him.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Miraculous Music

What an unbelievable and incredible evening we had last night!
Tim and I went up to Philaldelphia to see Andre Rieu in concert for my birthday.
What a very special time it was.
He is just a wonderful performer and has added some amazingly gifted vocalists to his show.
The Platin Tenors....mmmm...oh I can't even begin to describe the sounds that were coming out of those guys. If you want a sample, you can see them here.
I think Andre Rieu is doing something for music that isn't happening many other places.
He is vital, fun, charismatic and so talented. More importantly he truly loves the music, especially the beautiful compositions of Johann Strauss.
The music is so alive and real. I think there are not many artists with such a devotion to keeping the music of the Masters alive for the future. He travels constantly. His orchestra is comprised of mostly young talent, although I recognized a few of the musicians that were with him at least ten years ago. The vocalists are singing pieces from operas and classical compositions that have the ring of the past, and yet one of the sopranos, an award winning young lady from Australia, all of twenty years old, sang "Wishing..." from Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom". There were several contemporary arrangements and even a bit of musical comedy.
The audience was so great! One of the neat things about these concerts is the way Rieu encourages audience participation. The Waltzes are always enjoyed by any couple that wants to take to the floor. One couple that was there last night had to have had 140 years between them. They danced like they were in their 20s. They moved across the floor as one person and it just brought tears to my eyes to see them swirling and just glowing!
At the end there must have been about 10 encores and we were all standing and the people down in front were right up against the stage. Older people and children all dancing and laughing, then they played "America the Beautiful " and we all sang along. WOW. And then "Amazing Grace" with a flute, the violin and bagpipes. Well, I was totally overwhelmed!
It was just an amazing evening with my very best friend! Thanks to Nina for watching the boys til Midnight!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So many choices, I need more kids!

Night before last our TORCH chapter held it's bi-annual curriculum night.
I hosted because my co-leader Nancy didn't think her house would work for it.
This event has become very popular with our group each year. We hold it in the Spring because it is time to start thinking about what we are going to be using next year. Everybody brings the materials that they are using, the stuff they love, and the stuff they have found to be less than satisfactory. We set up tables all over the house. I used the new room, and a really long table that Barbara brought over, to put out the Math, Science and all the Freebies. Everyone always brings lots of books/equipment to sell or give away. Religion, Language arts, Reading, and any parenting/how-to books were in the kitchen.
Downstairs we had History, Geography, and in the Schoolroom we had three computers set up for electronic and online materials.
I also had lots of snacks, to keep us going as we journeyed through the land of planning!
Oh, and Christine Bowers, our dear Usborne lady and fellow homeschooler, brought her books and other educational delights.
John could have gone out with his dad, but when he saw all the books, he opted to stay home!

So I wasn't really thinking that I was ready to start choosing what I would be using next year. I was just hoping to get a look at what others have been using. I have been following Laura Berquist's Classical Curriculum pretty closely for the last few years. I usually just find things that fit well within that framework. I am still going to be working within a Classical Ideal, but boy have I found some great new materials!!
We will stick with Abeka and Saxon for Math. The boys are doing great in this area and while I had thought about changing to something with a more hands on approach, that would require me to start over in teaching terms and formulas that they have already learned.

I am SO excited about what we are doing for English and Writing though.
I have heard about a method of teaching Literature using Socratic discussion and I am totally sold on the Institute for Excellence in Writing. My for John next year is to alternate Lit. and Writing every other week. Using the Socratic discussion to explore a short piece of lit one week, and then Writing the next. That should to work well for John. He likes variety.

Brendan will be doing some writing but mostly Grammar, Spelling, Vocab and reading.
Paul will do Sound Beginnings, which should be a piece of cake for him since he has been listening to Phonogram Dictation for four years! He is reading very well now.
We are also reading through the Faith and Freedom Readers. They are such wonderful stories and even though they are REALLY old, the kids love them.

For Brendan we will continue with the Classical Curriculum theme, I'll use the same materials I did for John in third grade. Brendan is amazing! He is more than ready to move into the third grade! I didn't think he would take to schooling in the same style as John, but he really has an analytical mind and he loves it!

For History John wants to stick with Pioneers and Patriots. I thought he would find it a bit dry, but he really wants to keep going with it. I will use a lot of supplemental historical fiction too.
I want to have Brendan read for the most part. I will probably have him draw a time line like I did with John. There are so many great books out there. A great reference is "Let the Authors Speak".
Geography is going to be the same. The Trail Guide program is really excellent. We will still be doing US geography next year. Brendan will start the States and Capitals.

Oh I am so excited about Science!! Nancy showed me this excellent series by Apologia.
The books are so great! The way they are set up I can use them for all three boys. We will start with Astronomy and work through Botany and Zoology. Even Paul will be able to get a LOT out of this program. They sell kits to go with them and every chapter has an activity.
Science just seems to be our thing!
Deena is either psychic or she is reading my blog, because for Paul's birthday she sent a weather station kit that comes with a book on weather. With all the planting and bird study we have been doing, the weather has been a major issue and I have been getting tons of questions about wind, rain, temperature, etc! What a great compliment to our little program.

I am going to stick with the Religion program that I am using but I am going to buy the Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth. It is very comprehensive and based on the Catechism. We can start working with it and use it for years.
Brendan will start his Sacraments prep. for Reconciliation and First Communion.
Paul will do the Bible Storybook that John did.
It's so cute! They read a story, and then they have to draw a picture of it to put in the Storybook. John and Brendan's are Priceless!

I think we will do the Great Masters with our art group and I am hoping to add music Masters if it's OK with Karen.

So, a LONG post. I just wanted to get it all down and have all my links, so that I can go back to all of them in June and July and start ordering. I will have a bit of studying to do over the summer. The writing program and Lit are going to require some study on my part. Next year is going to be very interesting! I am excited already. It's so funny, we haven't even finished this year yet!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blooming all over!

So we are just bursting with color all over the place around here!
My poor little tulips just desperately want to bloom. Some little switch in the Tulip genome says "hey, ummm... it's April. You've been in the ground for six months. You just really need to get up and get blooming."
And the tulip says"hey,'s like 40 degrees out and so you're nuts. I'm freezing my buds off so just gimme til May."
The genetic mid-manager, being of course totally clueless about anything but it's job, kind of like a beaureaucrat, says "quit your whining, I have a schedule to keep and this is the bloomin' month so get to it!"
So my tuilps bloomed, and they are very pretty, but very uncomfortable.

More good news from my garden. The Easter Lilly that Laura gave me last year, is coming back!
It has a much wiser boss. I'll post it whenever it flowers.
Nina gave me a Hydrangea and it is doig really well too!

So we were in the mood to make progress on the room. We talked about a color and I brought home a bunch of paint samples. After agonizing over all the choices (Kevin Hoppel chose Peony Red, Brendan chose Black, John chose a Sage and Paul chose to run all over Lowes and keep getting into trouble.) We chose a color that is kind of a plum/mauve/cocoa. I think it will go really will with the wainscotting.

I'll have to post tomorrow about the Curriculum night. And I have to take pictures of Paul and his bike. We went on a bike ride today and he did great!

I'll end with a picture of Bosco and his willingness to help John out with school whenever he can.
He would probably give him the answers but he knows that would be cheating.

Thought for the day...

I found this on "Mommy Life". It is a short video about a great person named Johnny.
Barbara has four children with Down's Syndrome. When their son was born, they just fell so much in love that they dopted three more boys!
I love reading her blog.
This just totally woke me up this morning!
I'll have to write about our Curriculum Night later today.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Old Friends and New!

It has been an exciting day in the yard.
The birds are spreading the word...."There's FOOD at that house!"
So we are just becoming more and more popular. Granted I think there are more Squirrels than birds, but we are seeing quite a few different feathered friends...

These guys are all over the place. They are Mourning Doves and they are great little janitors.
They are ground feeders and clean up all the seed that the other birds drop.

The Cardinals are everywhere . We see them in the front and back. It's so neat to watch the males as the keep an eye out while the females have a meal.

There are also the Tufted Titmice. We are seeing quite a few of them on the umbrella feeder in the back.

And Now....From sunny somewhere else....
We proudly introduce the newest star of our show....

Mr Red Bellied Woodpecker.
We were so excited that he decided to visit us this week!
He found something very tasty in the Mamosa tree. He is either helping to control a serious bug problem, or he is going to help it fall down.
Anyway he was beautiful and I am very grateful to all the wonderful sites on the web that enable me to get these great pictures.

I'll post more as we go along. Everytime I see an interesting bird, I mark it in the bird book. I am going to pass that job on to John very soon. Then I can post what we see in the evening.


We are back to school after the Easter weekend, but unlike other Mondays, we have a shortened schedule because the boys are going to a birthday party this afternoon. They have been invited to play laser tag with Patrick and Matthew Hauf. They have played a couple of times before and it is a really great party!
Brendan is so motivated this morning, that he says he wants to do all the school that he has for tomorrow too. We shall see.
We have other things to get done as well. The weather has been less than accomodating toward planting anything, as they say "Never plant before Mother's Day". I don't know who they are but on this particular topic they have been proven right year after year. The snow we were supposed to get didn't amount to anything but a dusting, but it's still a little chilly for baby seeds. So we planted our peat pots and they are inhabiting the floor of the new room at night. During the day I put them out for the light.
I can't wait to put them in the garden boxes, but I have to be patient.
I'm going to go help John with Geometric Solids. He is singing and working, so it can't be too tough!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

A Wonderful Easter!

I always love being able to sing that again!
What a Great and Blest day Easter is.

We had a very nice Easter around here.
We went to the Vigil Mass last night. The boys were a bit on the wiggly side. Two and a half hours is a LONG time to sit. They did take notice of the fire that was lit inside, yes inside the church, to light the Easter Candle. They love the way the church is darkened and then as we all light our candles it gets lighter and lighter. John said he really understood the meaning behind each candle this year. He didn't want to blow it out!
There are four new Catholics in our parish and Fr Jay, who has a beautiful singing voice, sang a lot of the Mass.
We got home around 10:00 and it was too late to make the Resurrection Cookies that I had planned. We may just do them another night so that they can see what they are like.
We got up this morning and put on the last bit of "Jesus of Nazareth" and the boys really enjoyed it this year.
Then they looked for and found their baskets.
They each got a movie, and of course, lots of Chocolate.
We also dyed Easter eggs and they made the little cars out of them. We had been looking forward to that.
Nina came over while I was getting dinner ready and we had a nice visit and she was here for dinner. We missed having Johnny here.

Tim also made a LOT of progress on the new room!
So exciting! The walls are finished and primered now. Next weekend we can put on real paint!

So, we pray that The Easter Season is filled with many blessings for many people this year.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

An Easter Meditation for Holy Saturday

I opened my Firefox browser this morning and the first thing I saw was this wonderful meditation.
It is by a woman I know in Regnum Christi. I have read other things she has written, but this was just amazing! It totally took me to another Holy Saturday, a real time, with real people who loved Our Lord in His life on earth.
My heart aches for Our Lady and the apostles, especially Peter. He really feels as if he has done the unthinkable. He has been given so much by his Lord and best friend, but the last words his Friend heard him say before he died were "I don't know him". I'm sure Peter wanted to believe in Christ's rising, but he must have felt so devastated by the thought that he might never have a chance to say he was sorry, to make things right.
I will never forget this image that Sylvia has woven.
As I go about my day, I am going to do a lot of thinking about what those closest to Our Lord must have felt.

Friday, April 6, 2007

A Very Good Friday...

Today is one of those points in every year that is a centering point. It has so much contained within it. I always feel like I can't be solemn enough, I can't be grateful enough. It is a time to delve into something that is very uncomfortable. I remember when "The Passion" came out. I didn't really want to go see it, but I knew that I couldn't NOT go see it. I would have felt like I was avoiding Him in his pain. I had to at least suffer with Him in a superficial way.
So I want Him to know that I am with Him today. That the way of the Cross is going to be my way too. We will watch "The Passion", as we watched the Passion in "Jesus of Nazareth" with the boys.
I did the "Way of The Cross" as I listened to EWTN.
I always wish that I had been more disciplined, given up more during Lent. I always wish that I had spent more time in prayer.
It's hard to be real comtemplative with three boys running all over the house. They are not exactly in a prayerful frame of mind. They do great for awhile, but I have to remember where they are at in their formation. They understand so much. Paul is able to understand the sacrifice of Christ and why He had to die on the cross. He kept making comments during the movie, and I was amazed at what he understands.
Today is a solemn day of reflection, tomorrow is a quiet day of waiting,Sunday is a triumphant day of JOY!!
I love the intense celebration of the Easter Vigil. It just carries me along in the joy of HIS RISING!! Easter Sunday is always just a HAPPY day! I wake up and realize, once again, that we are living in the time of Salvation. All these years after Christ, every Easter is a new reminder that the Savior has Saved! The story will end in triumph and we will never have to be afraid.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

I just had to post this...

I found this touching story when I was reading this blog, Cottage Blessings, that I haven't been to in so long!
What a wonderful reminder of God's Perfect Plan for every family. He is the Divine Architect, who is building up His Church and His people, one family at a time.
It is such a special reminder of what we know, but sometimes forget, that we are all children of our Dear Father, and we need to live in a spirit of service to His will.
It was a very good thing that Shelly emailed me today and asked me to go looking for an entry that I had sent in an email last year. I really needed this today.

One thing less...

We had our last Sonlight class of the year today.
I have to say it is nice to have one less thing to think about, however, today it was so much fun!
I stayed up until midnight last night putting together handouts and the craft.
I had a BUNCH of information on Ireland, some maps, a CD of Celtic music, a great stained glass craft that Laura had shown me and Shortbread for a snack.
I started the kids on the drawing as soon as they were all seated and they were industrious and attentive throughout the whole presentation.
I love these kids. The girls and boys are in separate rooms and we switch off teaching them an hour at a time. It is so much fun to hear their insights on the material. The girls were helping each other and did some beautiful work.
The boys have been a challenge in the past, but they were really into the craft as well. They didn't listen as well but I think it's just harder for boys to try to do too many different things at once. There are nine of them and a few rather exciting dynamics. One of the boys has definite special needs and the others are so gentle and good to him. Even the ones that I am a little frustrated with are always so sweet to Michael. He doesn't realize what a ministry he has!
I am glad not to have to plan another class though and to have the rest of the weeks of the year to devote to our studies at home. John is winding down several of his subjects and I am getting excited about the prospect of summer.
Summer is always busy for me because it means planning another year. I love looking through curriculum catalogs and I REALLY love the annual NACHE Conference. It is going to be really awesome this year. I am definitely going to make a point of hearing Peter Kreeft, one of my absolute favorite authors.
The EXPO has really evolved from a homeschooling event to a Catholic Family event.
There are still so many vendors and so much fantastic curricullum that it boggles my mind every year!
I am now going to go pray with the little darlings. They are beginning to sound a bit snarly so it must be bedtime! Oh, shucks!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

A few Improvements

We have been trying to get a bit done around here over the last few days.
Tim managed to pull off a minor miracle and got the mower running over the weekend.
I am in awe. That mower has been at death's door for three years. I keep waiting for the final sputter and clunk and yet...with a LOT of starter fluid and probably some threats to dismember it, one more time, Tim has managed to squeeze one more mowing of the front yard out of it.
It aways looks so much better!
I got the Azaleas planted and we put the birdbath in a Temporary position next to the feeder...

John and I were having a great time with the Mamosa tree. We have Squirrel feeders all over it! If the birds are brave there is some seed there too, but I am thinking it's proably better for the squirrels to have their very own feeding station...

John also had a great place for the little umbrella feeder that Judy gave us. We put it under the Cherry tree along with a ground feeder. The Cardinals have already found it, and with corn and seeds right across the yard, the Squirrels haven't even bothered with it...

And I worked on one of the beds. I have to compost it yet but we have some flowers planted in little peat pots in the garage and we will pop them in the ground when they sprout. I want to be sure that we get them in the ground in the right order so that they fill the beds according to height and fullness. Some of the things that we picked out are really beautiful when they start to bloom.

We also mulched the front and side beds before all the plants really get going.

Monday, April 2, 2007

So tired...

Well, I do have a lot to post.
I have pictures of all the work we are doing around here, I have some thoughts from last night's meditation on Holy Week, I have a very interesting little bit of info that I came across while researching Celtic Art for my Sonlight class, and a few other details. It's going to have to wait though. We had a really busy day. I am just beat.
School went really well. Brendan has moved into another reading book. He will finish second grade reading in May! Art was great, after Brendan decided that he really did want to paint his dragon.
Scouts went OK. Would have been better if Paul had been otherwise occupied, but oh well. That little guy is just too smart. I ask a question and he always has the answer. The other boys, who are actually scouts, get pretty testy and I don't blame them.
We planted flower seeds and talked about Faith and how it needs to be fed and nourished to grow, just like a seed. We talked about Jesus and Holy Week and the boys really got involved in the conversation. Now they have flower seeds to plant later when it's warmer.
John is just having a ball feeding the birds and squirrels. The squirrels are greedy little beasts, but they are pretty cute. The Sparrows and Titmice have found the feeders and since all the squirrel food is now in the back yard, they are leaving the front feeders alone. That is an improvement. It was about 75 here today and it will be almost that warm tomorrow. We may have to walk down to Baskin Robbins for Paul's birthday.
Well, I hope to post pics tomorrow but now it is time to sleep.