Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

Thanksgiving Day was kind of a non-event. I went to Mass in the a.m by myself. Nobody else had their act together enough to be ready to go. The Mass was at 10:00 a.m. so that's how slow-moving everybody was!

Grandad and Steve came over around 11:00. Becky played with uncle Steve for the most part until Tom, Susan, Theo and Andrea came over. Becky played very happily with Andrea then. We went out to a local restaurant that I hadn't been to since my sister's wedding 25 or so years ago! It was exactly the same! It really is the kind of restaurant that retirees go to. Anyway, the food was pretty good. The sad thing was they ran out of pumpkin pie which I felt was tragic. Imagine not eating pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving! Becky was so cute that night. She got her dolls out and pretended she was Mary Poppins taking care of Michael, Barbara (but she changed the name to Sally because she really doesn't care for the name Barbara!) and whoever else the kids were in Mary Poppins (they really had 6 children, I believe!).

The Friday after Thanksgiving was given over, mostly, to getting Hannah's application to Steubenville in . Turns out they are running out of housing and in order to be sure she got houseing she had to get the whole thing in by Friday. I, who had been putting off putting together a transcript and worrying about it for the last 3.5 years, suddenly had to sit down and do one in a couple of hours Actually, that was probably a good thing because I had built up such a mental block about the darn thing. I helped Hannah edit her essay. Then Rick and I ran to the bank to get the transcript notarized and we mailed it off express mail. Then Rick was hungry so we went and got an early dinner real quick and then to the grocery store for a quick shop. Back home again Rick grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for the kids. I bought makings for pumpkin pie! (Haven't made one yet though I think tonight for dessert). We watched TCM, Sergeant York, I had wanted to see that movie for a while (and actually I've seen bits and pieces of it over the years). First of all, I just don't get Gary Cooper! I do love him in High Noon, but I just don't really understand what all the hullabaloo was about with him. Secondly, the movie is so corny and propagandistic! Rick and I were guffawing at it and guessing lines which were so obvious in coming.

Saturday, the window/door man came to show us examples of new doors Along with new siding, we are getting a new front door. This is the same guy who replaced our windows when we were finishing the basement a few years ago. He is a very nice man who adopted lots of kids with his wife (as well as having their own) and they have homeschooled off and on over the years. Really nice guy. Anyway, now we are trying to decide what kind of door to get. There is a reason I was never a decorator as I have very little opinion and talent for such things. Josh had to go work at our church's Thanksgiving clothing drive as part of his confirmation service work. So I dropped Will off for his Hypotheticals band practice and then Josh off at church. Hannah had gone to choir practice and then was hanging out with her friend who is home on vacation from college. After band practice Will hung out with his girlfriend (who is the bassist for the Hypos). Then the rest of us, Rick, Sean, Sean's friend Joseph, and myself picked up Josh and we all went downtown to see the reopened American History Museum. It had been closed for two years for renovations. I have to say I was underwhelmed First of all it was really crowded so maybe that affected my opinion, but the big exhibit, "America at War" or something like that was really superficial and geared to kids but at the same time containing too many things like collages and lots of reading of signs on the walls and not enough actual stuff to see. The interactive stuff was lame at best That made me recall how I've always found that museum kind of pop culture-ish instead of deep. Rick said you could learn more about America at War in a kid's encyclopedia only you wouldn't have to deal with parking and crowds. The two things that impressed me the most was seeing an actual uniform worn by George Washington. Ever since I read David McCullough's 1776, I've been fascinated by George Washington And also we went to the exhibit that had Lincoln's Gettysburg address written in his own hand. This was not the original but a copy he handwrote later. I read the entire thing. Lincoln had very nice handwriting!

Rick and I are on TCM kick. He had recorded The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Montgomery Cliff. He had never seen a movie with Marilyn Monroe It was an odd, sad movie but had a hopeful ending. Rick said I have a body like Marilyn Monroe. What a lovely man!

So today: breakfast, Mass, grocery shopping, Latin and Math homework, piano practice, dinner and the making and consuming of a pumkin pie!

Rick finished the Mary Poppins books and is now reading aloud The Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbitt I think the kids are enjoying it Interest has waned on Black Ships Before Troy. Too much bloody violence for our tastes. Don't like reading to my children about how Hector's corpse got dragged around behind Achilles chariot. And what is with Achilles! What a prima donna! Can't stand the dude!

I have been reading Frederick Douglass's Narrative and Life Story which is so compelling and really strikes horror into one's soul about the evils of slavery. I keep reading it in light of abortion One of the Douglass' themes is that slavery does evil to the masters as well because it allows them to be cruel and inhuman. Same with abortion. We rationalize it so well and it doesn't even register with us how dehumanizing it is for all of us to allow such wanton murder.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I never got around to journaling yesterday. Went to Latin. Got 100% on my quiz, Will and Josh who didn’t study much did poorly though, as did most of the rest of the class, so the teacher is having everyone retake the quiz until everyone gets 100%.

Did some Greek when we got home. But we really didn’t do much else yesterday. We are slowing down for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Today has been entirely unschooly. Becky woke up early and got herself dressed, fed the cats, let Tillie out and then came and woke me up. She was so proud of herself!

Will and I said the rosary together.

I showed Becky some Thanksgiving projects at Enchanted Learning. We printed out leaf templates and she started tracing them and cutting them out. However, they were too intricate and she wound up asking me to do the cutting for her and then she lost interest altogether. Josh and Sean’s interest in Yu-gi-oh has reignited. Last night they started a game and they spent a couple of hours before they even got out of the pjs this a.m. playing the game. Becky watched them. She made it into a sporting event by lining up all her stuff animals to watch too, like going to a Nationals Game or something.

Will boiled his guitar strings in water! Says this helps new strings hold their tuning better. If I'd been a really good unschooling mom I would have googled this to find out why this might be the case, but I just thought of the science aspect of this right now typing this up!!!!!

Becky had piano lessons at 10:30. Will was playing guitar downstairs and Josh and Sean finished up their card game and finally came down for breakfast.

Hannah, Will, Josh and I are starting a study of the Gospel of John (Scott Hahn) for Advent. We listened to the first part, the overview, this a.m. Becky and Sean went downstairs and watched The Electric Co. dvds.

Hannah finished her application to Steubenville but is now working on the essay. She has to go to work in a little bit.

I read a bit more about Thanksgiving to Becky and Sean but now they are downstairs doing something. I hear Becky shrieking as I type this. (update: Becky had me watch a 'routine' she'd choregraphed where she leaped, danced and cartwheeled all over the basement. It reminded me of a comic strip I used to read where occasionally would feature this slightly lumpy female dancer. The first square would announce a topic: to spring! And then the remaining squares would all be this lady gleefully and not quite gracefully contorting herself into various dance positions. Cracked me up!)

Rick worked at home all a.m. but then went into work around 1:00 p.m.

Took Will and Sean to VT. While they were there I tried to run a quick errand. Traffic was terrible! I guess everybody took off early for Thanksgiving. Very frustrating and got back late to pick up Sean. Will wanted to stay in town and then hopefully get a ride from his friend to his CLC meeting at 7:30

Came home. Becky had watched the movie Dumbo while I was gone. Hannah went to work. Don't know what Josh was doing. Anyway, everybody has been vegging for a while now. Becky watching Wordgirl, Josh and Sean playing on the Wii and now looking at funny videos on the pc. (Dilbert is on youtube???)

We were supposed to go to karate but I forgot to wash Sean's uniform. They can go on Saturday anyway. But still, I MUST KEEP UP ON LAUNDRY!!!!!

I ran out to McDonald's for dinner. Blech!

Now I am going to read Black Ships Before Troy and the more from If You Were There at The First Thanksgiving.

I talked to the kids about I hoped to reduce screen during Advent. We really do too much to an unhealthy degree. We brainstormed about other things we could do instead of screen. Here's the list we came up with:

1. Reading (we could go to the library more than we have lately)
2. jigsaw puzzles
3. board and card games
4. play with magnetix kit
5. Take care of Tillie - walking her, playing with her and training her
6. exercise outside (running, playing catch, frisbee)
7. play pool or ping pong in basement
8. Crocheting/handknitting/mushroom knitting (this was Becky's suggestion)
9. art
10. writing stories (Josh suggested this)
11. baking or cooking
12. use up science kits in storage downstairs.

I wrote up the list and posted on the kitchen wall. Maybe it will help.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Journal 11/24/08

11:47 a.m.

Will got home from his CLC retreat yesterday and decompressed for the most of the evening. He didn't start working on his math homework until 9:30 p.m. Fortunately, Rick was able to help both him and Josh on their homework. Josh got all his done so he got to sleep in this a.m. This is something he needed because Sat. night he stayed up until 2 a.m. reading The Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. He liked it so much that he took it in to show his math tutor. Sometimes they talk about books as well as math.

Hannah got up and did Spanish homework and then went off to Spanish class.

Becky had a bad dream around 4 a.m. and crawled into bed with me and Rick. For some reason I had a charlie horse at 6 a.m. which woke me up and I couldn't get back to sleep.

Over breakfast I read Devotional Stories to Becky and Sean. They fought over who got to answer the comprehension words and define the vocabulary words!

Sean practiced a bit of piano.

Josh spent a long time with the math tutor and then went off to play on the computer. Will is in with her now.

Sean read the next chapter in his book on St. Peter. Becky rather reluctantly read 5 sentences from Reader B. Then we decided to play word family bingo. This was a new game so we all worked together to tear up the perforated markers and cut up the B - I - N - G - O call cards. We listened to the Gypsy Jazz cd mix Will made for me for my last birthday. We listen to it at least several times a week. Everybody loves it. We played bingo but then halfway through Becky decided she just wanted to be the caller and not have a bingo card to fill in. She got really into reading all the words and was doing very well. I was proud of her! That game took a long time!

While eating lunch I read the next chapter of Black Ships Before Troy. Now they are playing on the Wii downstairs. Josh has retired to his room. I need to declutter and tidy because the cleaning ladies are due to arrive in a few minutes.

1:16 p.m. Cleaners are here! Siding men are banging away on the front of the house. Painter has not come by with the contract. Exterminator is due between 3 and 4 to do something about all the stink bugs that are living in our attic (and many of our other rooms).

Talked with Will a bit. He had a great retreat and has decided that his problem is he doesn't get enough sleep. So he's vowing to get to bed every night by 11: 30 p.m. I asked why he had come to this conclusion and he said at the retreat they had 11:30 lights out and he got a good night's sleep both nights and it made him feel much more clear headed and able to focus. To myself I noted there also seemed to be a lot of prayer, structure and outdoorsy time, all things that have always helped him (and me!).

Finally made the decision about Thanksgiving. I was dreading making Thanksgiving dinner and sitting around our dining room table in the way we've done for 20 years only Mom and Bubbie wouldn't be there. I couldn't bring myself to even contemplate buying a turkey. So I called my sister in law and she suggested we just go out to dinner. I just called and made reservations at a nearby restaurant for 4:00 on Thanksgiving. She was thinking of maybe going out to a movie too, just to do something we've never done on Thanksgiving, but there really doesn't seem to be any movie worth watching out. I looked at Bolt but frankly I hate paying money to listen to bathroom humor and every single children's movie with animals has lots of bathroom humor. (Except maybe Ratatuoille, can't remember).

8:54 p.m. Afternoon was slow. Very sleepy. Didn't have our usual piano lesson for Sean. this is make up week for the lessons and the teacher wasn't on the VA campus. Tried to do Latin with Josh and Will but I started to fall asleep! Went upstair and laid down and read parenting book: Good and Angry; Exchanging Frustration for Character. . . In You and Your Kids. Good book. I enjoyed it and then napped a bit! Becky watched The Fox and the Hound and then Will (who practiced guitar off and on all day) and Sean and Becky all watched Kung Fu Panda (they'd watched it yesterday afternoon too). Don't know what Josh was doing. Hannah came home and stayed in her room for hours.

Becky practiced piano before dinner.

Made spaghetti. For the first time in a year at least I actually used fresh garlic instead of garlic salt. I feel I am getting my cooking legs again. I've been so bored and OFF of cooking for so long, but lately I've been trying to make an effort to get back into a cooking groove. Didn't have to rush to music theory class. The teacher cancelled due to illness.

All the kids were actually home for dinner but Rick wasn't. Just called him, he's still working. Made the kids do their chores. Well, most of them. I notice there are still a couple of pots that didn't get cleaned.

Read more of If You Were at the First Thanksgiving book. I started it on Saturday. I've been doing the Charlotte Mason thing of having the kids narrate back to me. Sean hardly listens at all. Becky is very good at narrating back!

Becky was being very sweet and polite. She was very primly saying please and thank you. Then she wanted me to help her write up a list of all her blessings. This was inspired by the Little Flowers club last Thursday where the girls made a wreath out of a paper plate and some paper leafs. They wrote their blessings on the leaves. We taped it up to the mudroom door in the family room which pleased her very much!

Becky sat for a while reading from the Guiness Book of World Records. She seemed to know all about scorpions which made me shudder! Will practiced guitar so much his jaw hurts. He tends to work his jaw when he is concentrating!

Said prayers. Becky practiced her Act of Contrition. Now I'm sending the younger two off to bed.

Josh says he isn't interested in Dandilion Wine!!!! And now he's mislaid it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plans for Advent School

During the last few years we've always shifted gears for Advent. Mostly because we've been in high tide (or as high as I get, which is about middlin' for others) academically and then I'm all burned out by Advent. So things go lighter then and we tend to shift to other things that don't get done like art.

So here are some of the ideas that have been floating around my head:

1) I have sitting unused Scott Hahn's study of the Gospel of John. I asked Hannah if she wanted to do that with me duirng Advent/Christmas. She was not enthusiastic at all. So I kind of cajoled her into accepting. I think she really needs a little religon. She's been hanging around these public school kids and I think she really needs grounding. On the other hand, I don't want to do the study if she is going to be all draggy and whining about it I asked Will and he responded with an enthusiastic Yes! I still haven't asked Josh.

2) We've been focusing on penmanship more than copy work since September. I think we'll go back to copy work for Advent. Will started to do copy work from St. Francis De Sales Introduction to the Devout Life earlier in the year but has stopped. Maybe he could take that up again. Josh could copy religious poems out of a Faith and Freedom reader. And I was thinking that Becky and Sean might like to copy over familiar Christmas carols. That way they could really learn the words!

3) I want to finish Black Ships Before Troy before Advent and take a break from the Greeks. I have a Vision book called Christmas and the Saints which I'd like to read aloud instead.

4) I think Josh for his Kolbe lit program could focus on a couple of saint book selections they have during the time of Advent and Christmas.

5) Of course I need to get out my Advent wreath and get an Advent calendar. I always try to do a Jesse Tree but that seems to putter out about mid-Advent so I think this year I'll give a miss on that.

6) The kids doing music lessons are all learning Christmas songs right now.

7) I'd like to take everyone to The Nutcracker this year. Also we are going to see Leahy in in their Celtic Christmas concert. That is Dec. 13th (same day as Becky's First Penance!) Also, I'd like to go down to the National Cathedral and see their Creche exhibit. Maybe also see what's up at the Basilica and JPII Center in Advent. Other things happening during the season: Our Lady of Guadalupe (our Torch groups has a puppet show and pot luck) and Chanuakah with my father in law and family. My extended family's huge Christmas gathering (which I am not hosting this year! Alelluia!) and Sean's 10th birthday on Dec. 22nd.

8) We'll still have to keep up with outside classes: math and Latin.

9) A couple years ago I what looks to be a wonderful art program, Christian Art Heritage. I'd like to give that a good try during Advent. Maybe I can get Becky interested.

10) I've been really bad at getting to a daily Mass once a week. I'd like to really concentrate on doing that during Advent/Christmas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Rick and I saw Andrea Bocelli last night singing Petite Messe Solenelle by Rossini. It was spectacular! Bocelli sang tenor, the bass from Carmen (who is absolutely terrific), Alexander Vinogradov, also sang, along with mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich and soprano Sabina Cvilak, the Washington National Chorus and the Washington National Opera, conducted by Placido Domingo.

Boy, do we have a treasure here in Washington DC with Domingo! I wonder why, out of all the cities in the world, he choose to light in Wash. DC?

The Mass was beautiful. It helps to be Catholic and studying Latin! I could follow the whole thing pretty easily whereas I think Rick was lost most of the time. I clearly heard 'Benedictus venit in nomine Deus.' And of course knew what it meant! At one point the soprano kept singing 'auxilium' over and over and I leaned over to Rick and said 'that means 'help!' That was a vocabulary word in Sean's Chapter 8 of Latin for Children this week!

We were only 5 rows away from the stage and I was directly in front of Bocelli. Rick said if he wasn't blind we could have had eye contact! Bocelli fidgets a lot. The bass, Vinogradov (did I mention that he is a fantastic singer???) prompted Bocelli to sit or stand as appropriate. I was wondering what language they were communicating in. The main players were Italian, Russian, Slovenian, American and Spanish. But Rick said he heard Vinogradov whisper to Bocellin in English, "You can sit down now!"

The Slovenia soprano not only has a beautiful voice but she is a very, very beautiful blond. Some people are just so blessed! When she sang she looked transported by the music. The American Kate Aldrich seemed tense or something and I felt she was a bit weaker in her singing, except she did the final piece, the Agnus Dei, and was phenomenal. She sang with such passion and so beautifully!

After the Messe was over Andrea Bocelli came back and sang Panis Angelicus to the shouts and bravos of the crowd. Then as a surprise second encore he and Placido Domingo sang the famous duet from The Pearl Fishers. I can't even put into words how thrilling it was, a little taste of heaven that I will remember for the rest of my life. I was for those few minutes utterly happy!

We don't go to another opera until 4/4 (Josh's birthday!) when we see Peter Grimes. Then we see two in May: Siegfried by Wagner and Turandot by Puccini. I am not familiar with the first two but I have seen Turandot before. I can't wait. I love Puccini!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Journal of 11/21/08

Today is going to be a busy day. And I'm tired and don't want any busyness. My legs ache for some reason and my head is stuffed up and I am very, very tired.

So what's on tap for today?

Co-op from 9:30 to 12:30. Thats ASL, Cultural Studies and Nature/Science.

After that I promised the kids I'd take them shopping. They all seem to need new sneakers. Sean needs some more warm, long pants. I believe all need boots (but I have to remember to look at last years and see if that is really true.

After that, Sean's friend is coming over to play.

Then I have another opera to go to this evening! This will be the last one until April or May I believe. So I have to get myself gussied again (Ive run out of gussying up clothes; don't have that great of a selection!) and take the metro downtown to meet Rick. I am really excited though because we are going to see Andrea Bocelli! Conducted by Placido Domingo! Singing Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle. Yes, Rossini wrote a Mass! So I do hope we can stay awake enough to appreciate it.

Speaking of Mass, Hannah and Will got up at 5:30 a.m. to go to the 6:15 teen Mass. It amazes that they do that every Friday. I haven't gone in a year at least. It takes me all weekend to recover from the loss of sleep!!!! I'm getting old. Anyway, as much fun and beauty this day offers, I'll be happy tomorrow when I can just hang out, putter around and be a homebody for a while.


I skipped co-op. I simply couldn't muster up the energy to get everyone up and out the door. So everbody slept in instead. And I relaxed over a cup of coffee.

I cleaned up the mudroom and took stock of boots, coats and snow pants and then ordered what we needed from Land's End.

Josh is taking his history exam. Hurrah! He'll finally be finished his first quarter of Kolbe 8th grade!

Hannah came home from Mass with her back really aching. She pulled a muscle last night just stretching. And it still hurts. She is sleeping in my bed (because the siding guys are make too much noise outside her room) with those stick on hot packs stuck to her back. She took Motrin but it didn't seem to help much.

I got some laundry done and I've finally got that chicken noodle soup I've been aiming to make all week, burbling on the stove. Becky has been watching Bugs Bunny cartoons all a.m. I love those old cartoons.

Will has a CLC retreat to go to this weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Journal of 11/20/08

Got up @ 7:30. But slept well last night!

Puttered around internet and drank tea. Loosely planned my Blue Knights meeting today. Going to focus on 4 types of prayer: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication. Sing a hymn or two and go through Mass identifying these types of prayers.

Got everyone up; made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Rick is now teaching Econ class. Becky and Sean are practicing cursive.

Becky did math: Roman numerals, probability with flipping coins and dice. Started Reader B and learned about adding -ed. Now she is playing with playdough.

Sean: Read next ch in St. Peter book, did 1 page in phonics on -or sound. Short lesson in Latin and review of 2nd declension Neuter. Math - reviewed for test.

Read next chapter of Black Ships Before Troy. Icky, Odysseus and Diomedes killed Dolon the spy and the King of Thrace and his 12 body guards while they slept.

Hannah, Will and Josh did Econ with Rick from 9:40 to 11:30 or so. Watched Am. Id. lecture on Abigail Adams with me. Went over timeline, ate pizza. Homework is to finish up timelines thru American Revolution and also do timeline page for Abigail Adams. Also to read The Narrative and Life of Frederick Douglass. We don't meet again until Thurs after next (because of Thanksgiving). Did analysis of The Tell-Tale Heart, read The Raven and The Bells by poetry and did a tiny bit of analysis. Did writing assignment for 25 minutes where they had to write a paragraph describing a room (or something) in a scary, Poe-esque way.

Josh went off and do his own thing after Econ but then I caught him at about 1 and made him study more for his history exam.

Rest of day: Blue Knights from 2:15 to 3:45. Get Will to guitar lessons at 4:15. Sean and Josh to running class 5 to 6. Still didn't make the soup. Instead I'm just going to broil the chicken and boil some potatoes and make a tossed green salad for dinner.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Journal of the day 11/19/08

10:57 a.m.I'm going to see if I can journal every day this week (well, excluding Monday).

I have some kind of mild cold that makes my head feel all swollen at night and in the morning but gets better during the middle of the day. The wind is cold and hurts my head when I go out though. Where's my hat????

Up this a.m. to clean kitchen and read Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. We are doing Poe on Thursday with the teens. Creepy story. I remember hearing it on a recorded book that my mother had when she was blind. Scared the heck out of me for days!!!!

Josh and Will got up and did some math homework. The math tutor came this a.m. instead of Monday. She's working with Josh right now while Will works in the study trying to finish up his homework.

Hannah got up, did more laundry and then went to Spanish class at comm. college.

I read two devotional stories to Becky and Sean from the CHC reader (over breakfast). Then Becky finished up her music theory homework.

Now she's in with the piano teacher having her lesson.

Sean and I just worked for about 20 minutes on Latin, he's really remembering the declensions very well and he seems to remember and understand the different cases. I love the way they explain things in Latin for Children. Now he's reading the next chapter in his book on St. Peter.

11:39 a.m. Sean did 1 page of phonics on the 'ar' sound. I hope this helps him with his spelling as his spelling is truly dismal. Then we did a couple of lessons in his Shiller math; a fun lesson on reading really big Roman numerals and another brain teaser type exercise that had you making up even and odd numbers following all kinds of silly rules.

Becky did some of her music theory right after the piano teacher left and now she is outside playing. It is bitter cold out. She keeps coming back in to put on another layer of clothing.

Josh finished up with the math tutor and took Tillie for a short walk. Now I'm giving him a short computer break.

Will is now working with the math tutor.

12:44 p.m. Becky requested a Mad Lib so she and Sean had fun while we did one. Becky did some LoG - putting a or an in front of words and speller - read 15 spelling words and wrote out 4 of them. Sean did a little bit of Greek. Josh did a lot of Greek. He's going to finish the book before any of us. I did some Greek too.

Will had a very long session with the math tutor; just finished and is now getting himself lunch.

Josh has gone off to study Kolbe history. I think I'll help him. Sean and Becky went downstairs to play super smash brothers. I forgot to do any math with Becky.

The rest of the day: must take Will and Sean to Vision Therapy @ 2:30. Then @ 4:30 I'll take the metro downtown to meet Rick. We are seeing Carmen at the Kennedy Center. But it is so cold out and I need to dress up for the opera. My feet will be freezing. Not looking forward to that! I need some nice warm dressy boots. Anyway, Hannah has to take Josh and Sean to Karate or maybe they can make up their class on Saturday. Will needs to get to CLC, maybe he can get a ride with his friend, Johnny.

I wish my new debit card would get here. I am lost without it!

Update: Saw Carmen with Rick. Denyce (sp?) Graves played Carmen! Rick kept falling asleep. The guy is just so tired. It was 3.5 hours long!!!!! While the music is incredible and you come out humming, the character of Carmen turns me off. I think what really irritated me was Ms. Graves and the summary in the program gushed about how Carmen is all about freedom. They had a very women's lib spin on it. Whereas the truth is she is an extremely selfish, manipulative, unstable and (as Rick put it) bitch from hell. She basically ruins Don Jose life and then leaves him for another and then finally taunts him into stabbing her. The guy who played the toredor had an incredible voice. I have to say that of all the operas we've seen so far La Traviata and The Pearl Fishers are my favorites.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Journal of the day 11/18/08

I keep forgetting to do my weekly report a la WTM. Actually, we do so much in a week that it is easier to just jot down what we do each day. So here's today (with some backstory):

Got up this a.m. at 7:40. Meant to get up at 6:30 but overslept. Was exhausted from Bubbie's funeral and spending the whole day in Baltimore.

Decluttered kitchen table, kitchen island and loaded and ran dishwasher. Kitchen hadn't been cleaned and was still dirty from Hannah's party Sat. night. All day Sunday I had a terrible migraine. I didn't even make it to Mass. Then Mon. was the day of the funeral. . . .

Finished up Latin homework and studied a bit for the quiz. Got children up to eat breakfast (cold cereal) and have Will and Josh finish homework and study. Hannah was exhausted too because she had to go help close at Starbucks and didn't get home until after 10 last night. She was utterly spent.

Schoolwork for Becky and Sean (Hannah teaches them on Tuesday mornings):

  • practiced piano
  • spelling/phonics and grammar
  • Sean read another chapter in his book on St. Peter
  • Hannah read the next chapter in Faith and Life to Becky
  • Sean practiced times tables flashcards
  • Becky played with coins, counting and grouping them
  • Sean rewatched the Ch. 8 dvd lesson for Latin for Children
  • Both did a little bit of VT work

Josh, Will and I went to Latin class and took our quizzes. Not sure how well I did. Stopped at Chick fil a for lunch.

After lunch Josh, Sean, Becky and I worked on our Greek.

Josh is studying for his Kolbe History exam (except he just took a break to take Tillie on a walk).

Will practiced guitar and is now working on his math.

Hannah has supposedly been studying for her Spanish quiz tomorrow (but I think she's really playing with her hair and listening to the musical Chicago).

Becky is now playing at and Sean is now playing Super Smash Bros.

Other news: we had the season's first snow flurries today. Even though it is 40 degrees out the wind is biting cold and it is windy!

Rick has to go sit shiva tonight over in Baltimore. So I am planning to read Black Ships Before Troy to Becky and Sean this evening while he's out. We started the book last week and it is WONDERFUL! I'm absolutely thrilled by it.

Must take Will to band practice at 4:30 and take Sean, Josh and their friend to their Explosive Performance class (running class really) at 5:00.

I was going to make chicken noodle soup but I forgot to get the chicken out of the freezer so we are having hot dogs instead.

I've also caught up on a lot of laundry. Woo Hoo!!!!

The siding men are now installing the siding we ordered. However, they seem to not realize that trash should go in trashcans. Instead they pile it up in our driveway where the wind blows it around ours and our neighbor's yards. I got mad and went out and spoke angrily. They cleaned it up.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dreary Day

Bubbie died last night at 10 p.m. Rick left work at 2:15 to get over to Baltimore to visit her, but the traffic was so horrible he didn't get to the hospice until 5 something. He sat by her side for two hours but she never woke up. She was breathing very shallowly. Then he went to visit his father for a little while and then drove home getting her around 9:30. We got the phone call at 10:45. Poor Rick. Once again everyone is leaning on him. He called his uncle and told him. He'd already set up a flight for his uncle. He's looking at Maryland probate laws. He is thinking that Bubbie did not change her will after my mother in law died which is something that is probably going to cause problems.

Anyway, he went over to Baltimore today and is trying to arrange the funeral. No viewing this time and it looks like the funeral will be on Monday at noon. So maybe we'll just drive over there early Monday morning.

The whole business is dreary and so is the weather today. Poor Bubbie. I need to go pray for her. I haven't really. I just feel kind of an emptiness and also a loss of living history. She was 93 and grew up speaking Yiddish. Those folks are dying out and a whole culture is being lost. But she was a very difficult person who could be mind-bogglingly selfish or suddenly funny and charming. Her whole family dealt with her by constantly teasing her. We all certainly felt affection for her and I do remember how much she cared for her husband of 50 some years. William is named after him. She outlived him by 16+ years. But people were always wary of her too, because she'd refined the art of emotional manipulation. Well, you shouldn't speak ill of the dead, I guess. I think her presence will really be felt at holiday times because she was such a character and her personality kind of charged those events with energy (both negative and positive!).

I feel mostly sorry for Rick.

Anyway, Hannah is still having her little birthday party this evening. I went grocery shopping this a.m. for all the party stuff. Hannah cleaned up (mostly) the downstairs. I'm going to have a cup of tea and put my feet up right now and then get started on party prep duty.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


  • It seems Bubbie is dying. She's been transported to a hospice and has been sleeping mostly for the last two days. She can't breathe deeply; the cancer has come back with a vengence. The nurse told Rick late yesterday that she didn't Bubbie would be going home again. So we are waiting for a phone call. . . . I think Hannah is thinking of going over to visit her tomorrow morning. I guess we'll be there on Saturday. Bubbie has really been deteriorating for the last 6 months and especially since my mother-in-law died. I am dreading the whole funeral thing again so soon. Poor Bubbie.
  • Someone got ahold of my debit card number and spent the last couple of days buying things like gas and groceries. This all took place in Maryland. For some reason the bank thought this was suspicious activity and suspended my card. I got one of the automated phone calls warning me about it. The thief was spending money on such things as car washes, gas and groceries. Nothing very grandiose; it added up to a couple hundred dollars. Anyway it is really annoying but I find myself praying for the thief, for all I know they are out of a job and just need some cash to buy groceries and gas.
  • We are finally having the siding replaced on our house. The people before us never cleaned the siding and it was in terrible condition so they painted it. You are not supposed to paint siding! The paint doesn't hold but peels off in big strips. So after seven years of ugly siding issues we are getting it replaced. It is a very noisy process and it involves lots of banging on the outside walls which results in things suddenly falling off shelves due to the vibrations. It also involves strange men's heads suddenly looming outside my windows. And then this morning when I went out to see what they had put up I saw that they were putting up the wrong siding! We did not order tan siding with beading! We ordered smooth, white siding. Soooo, it turns out they ordered and started to install the wrong siding. Wonder how long it will take for them to get the correct siding, rip down the wrong siding and replace it. Sigh. And today they didn't come at all because it rained all day. I have a feeling this project is going to take awhile. . .
  • Hannah has complained about the incompetence of her boss at the local Starbucks since day one of her job. He sounded like he did a terrible job and caused lots of problems. Turns out he was dishonest too. He just got fired for lying to the company about hours worked.
  • I made the decision last Friday to not continue with my Friday morning co-op after December. Josh did not like it, Sean was indifferent at best and I felt like I was having to invest a lot more time and effort with little to show for my efforts. And I didn't like not being home for Hannah and Will on Friday mornings. They simply didn't get any work done on Fridays, would want to play all Sat. and Sun and then wouldn't be prepared at all for weekly obligations come Monday morning. So I'm looking forward to having Friday mornings at home again.
  • Josh and Sean have started taking a new class called Explosive Performance with Sean's friend Joseph. It is basically an indoor running class. They've gone twice and love it. The coach is really nice and encouraging.
  • I'm planning to put Becky into a nearby homeschool Girl Scout Troop in lieu of the co-op. She was the only one really getting anything out of co-op. But she didn't mind me wanting to drop out because now she's all excited about being a Brownie.
  • Our TORCH group started a Fridays games social at about the same time that our fall tennis lessons were held. We went last week and it was a big hit. At the same time, some of the moms are in a book discussion group. We are reading Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict. We got the study guide from Ignatius Press. I'm excited about it!
  • And last but definitely not least, Hannah turned 18 on Monday! I made her tacos for dinner and she had an ice cream cake. Her boyfriend, Ryan, came over for dinner. She's planning on having a small party on Sat. night; maybe 8 to 10 friends over.

So that's what's happening around here! Good night!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Election

I have to admit to feeling a bit depressed and raw over Obama's election. I liked McCain. I really did! I thought he had the experience and the gumption to handle our complex and dangerous political/economic situation right now. For some reason I always think it is better for our Commander in Chief to actually have some familiarity with the military (and not just the pseudo-stuff George W. Bush had - we see where that got us.) So I liked that McCain had that experience. I thought that someone who had actually maintained his sanity as a prisoner of war might just have the character it takes to be a strong leader. I liked the fact that McCain had a long record of public service so that we knew exactly what he was about and what his weaknesses and misjudgements were. I liked that he went in and out with the Republican party. I have major issues with the party myself, so I can feel kinship there! As for Obama, I distrusted the 'rock star' aura that surrounded him and I didn't want someone so inexperienced taking on such a tough job. And I completely disagree with Obama's 'culture of death' worldview. I find him frightening in that regard. Heck, I'll admit I find him all round frightening.

So I'm trying to be handsome and gracious about my disappointment. I don't want to lash out in bitterness or frustration or dashed hopes. Time to grow up. One thing that helps is that I truly am happy and proud of America to have elected a man of color to the highest office in the land. That is truly a triumph over the evil of racism which for so many years (and we are studying American history now and it is intricately woven into our nation's history.) has plagued our country.

Obama is now my president and I must wish him the best because I love my country. I want him to succeed where I feel it is best for my country. I don't know how he'll get us out of Iraq. Seems to me he has a long learning curve ahead of him, but hopefully he'll pick wise people who'll be able to orchestrate some kind of sensible withdrawal from Iraq. I hope he can handle the economy and help us out of that morass, but I have to say my hopes aren't high, mainly because I don't think anything he'll do will have immediate effect. I am pretty ignorant about these things (woefully so) but it seems to be you can only do so much; time is what is needed to right so much wrong in the world market. So I don't know what he can do in Iraq or for the economy but I'm hoping! As for the his culture of death agenda, it seems more likely to me he could inflict a lot of harm that way on my beloved country, already flowing with the blood of innocent life. FOCA could become a reinvigorated cause for the left who seem to have gained so much momentum from his victory. We'll have a majority of Democrats in congress. Hopefully though there will be enough little obstacles in the way that he may be thwarted. I fear a loosening up of the moderate restrictions on abortion which keep the death toll down slightly. I also fear that with the economy being so bad more desperate people will feel pressure to murder their own children in utero. So basically we'll have the worst of both worlds for a while - less restrictions, bad economy = more abortions. I hope this doesn't happen though. I pray it!

A couple weeks ago I stood outside an abortion clinic on a Saturday morning (during the time the clinic does abortions). It was pouring rain. I stood there with my little rosary and my broken umbrella and watched two women come out. One was black and had a black man to assist her. He was very kind. He pulled the car up to the doorway and then in a very gentlemanly way got out and helped this woman walk to the car and gently placed her in it. I couldn't read the woman's face. She looked wan and blank. Another woman, white, had a girlfriend with two little kids in the car waiting for her. She looked really pale and sad as she leaned on her friend's arm and was also assisted to the car. Were the little ones sitting in the back her children too??

I felt like a German during Hitler's regime watching people get herded onto cattle cars and knowing there was not a damn thing they could do about it. Only weep and pray and know that somehow one day we will all be held accountable for this. We are all guilty.

Even so, I know that if McCain had won the election abortions wouldn't magically stop or anything even close to that. But I will say Obama's election doesn't give me any hope (ironic since he campaigned on that!) that there will any turning back of the culture of death any time in the near future. But hope springs eternal. I remember the assassination of Martin Luther King. I remember the terrible times of the civil rights movement. I remember the heroism of Rosa Parks. It was a long, long battle from slavery (non personhood) to an African American President. Hundreds of years! And I guess it will be for the right to life. So I will take heart. I will speak out in charity about how we need to respect all life. I will be more active in fighting abortion and the culture of death. I will volunteer, I will contribute money, I will do whatever I can to try to save the baby humans. Because my president won't do it. My congress won't do it; most of my fellow citizens won't do it. It simply doesn't repulse them enough to go into action. In truth I have been pretty darn complacent myself.

So that's where the election leaves me. I know many are rejoicing. And I'll rejoice too (pardon me if it is mixed with a few tears, though). I live in a country where there were no bloody coups in the transfer of power. Something to be thankful for! I live in a country that no longer judges their leaders (at least) on the color of their skin (don't think we've quite gotten to the content of their character as the sole criterion - rock star good looks and a sonorous voice seems to do the trick still). But I do feel galvanized to work even harder to protect life from conception to natural death, even if it flies in the face of my nation. But we Catholic prolifers have good company. We have the ancient prophets to inspire us and we have the early church to show us how to love in a time of death and violence.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Clutter defeat!

Yesterday I was tired. I was tired all day long. I didn't want to do anything, but it was an Econ/lit/history class day for the teens, then Blue Knights, then taking Will to guitar lessons. So business didn't stop until 5 pm.

The only thing that happened household-wise was that Josh got his laundry done and I actually sat down with 4 out 5 children and tried to work out a chore plan, but the one we came up with was feeble. My idea was that I couldn't do too much because I'll find it too overwhelming, except that the house is a wreck so if I don't take some serious action here, I will be constantly overwhelmed by it. Clean House - where are you? I'd subjugate myself to humilitation if only someone else will do my thinking for me and get me jumpstarted.

Okay here's the feeble plan (which we didn't even follow yesterday because I conked out at 9:30 last night, still dressed in the clothes I'd worn all day.):

1. Clutter ( 3 prong attack) a)I declutter for 15 minutes a day some hot spot b)everybody try to live by the rule: put your things away! c) every evening have a room rescue in the kitchen/family room.

2. Laundry needs to be done every day. Hannah is in charge of laundry patrol. That means that if someone has clean laundry taking up a laundry basket for more than one day in their room they get penalized.

3. Rooms must be kept tidy at all times. (Ha!!!! First we have to get them tidy which will take a couple of weeks of digging and I have time for this right?????)

4. Kitchen must be completely cleaned every night. All who are here each evening pitch in and help. No one leaves the kitchen until said task is completed!

5. Everyone has a daily chore: I couldn't think of one for each child though! Isn't that frightening???? Becky wanted to feed the cats their dinner. Sean - ?????, Josh - takes care of Kitty litter/gerbils and Tillie's dinner. Will takes out trash and recycling, Hannah - laundry patrol.

We are supposed to go to co-op today and I really feel like not going and just staying home to regroup here. I'm too tired! And this afternoon we have game day and I am hoping to help get a book discussion started on Jesus of Nazareth. Ack!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Clutter Conquest

Clutter is my nemesis. I have never, in all my life, (and I am 48!) been able to conquer it. So instead I go through periods of grim realism where I simply ignore the piles of junk looming around me knowing that nothing, nothing I do will ever take care of the problem. Then I go through periods of optimism where I get busy trying to wittle down those piles. I never do it all the way and the minute I turn my back, the piles grow again at a seemingly amazing rate.

Right now I am experiencing optimism on the household front. So I think I'm going to record here what I do each day to declutter, from now until the weekend after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving weekend is a big clothes giveaway around here because our church has an annual clothing drive and I always unload bags and bags of clothes there.

Today: I went into Becky's room and cleaned out the eastern side of her room. I didn't get rid of every bit of clutter but most of it got either thrown away in a trashbag or put into a too-small-to-be-adequate-Amazon-book-box. The junk that was left was put into shoeboxes and tucked into her bookcase. I also cleaned off her bedside table. The table itself has been so defaced by markers etc that it really needs sanding and repainting but for now, I just got rid of lots of stuff of trash (including broken glass????) and stacked the cds in a neat but tall pile. I still need to deal with the Amazon box but must do that later. I did get the trashbag out to the trash though. That's a good thing as I've been known to begin to declutter only to find a couple weeks later that I gave up midway and left the trashbag just sitting in the room for weeks.

I'm pathetic!

Time to run to vision therapy!