Friday, February 25, 2011


By guess who?
Last night Len tossed bits of popcorn to Dusty and Lucca.  Lucca doesn't actually eat the stuff, but she eagerly grabbed her prizes and ran off with them.  I laughingly remarked that she was probably taking them down to the basement, as I've noticed bits of plastic wrap and shredded napkin down there lately.

Ha ha.

Tonight I needed to clean up a mess of mine, and this is what I found in the basement bathroom as I plugged in the vacuum!  Quite the stash, huh?  Plastic wrap and napkins, of course, but also the bag from 5# of carrots and chicken packaging.  What a cat!
And, no, Mom, this is not the Lucca story I promised you this morning.  Yes, there's more . . .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Small Successes


"It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that."

It's been many weeks since I've participated, but here are some recent happy accomplishments:

  1. I managed two field trips in a row--to the zoo on Friday (glorious weather!) and Mount Vernon on Monday (damp and cold, but free for Presidents' Day).
  2. On both days I drove far from my comfort zone and made some wrong turns (my directional instincts are not the sharpest).  The up side?  I didn't panic, and recovered quickly without even needing a map.  I missed a really important turn on the way home from the zoo, but "winged it" well, taking a different route, and getting to the last light before our neighborhood right behind my friend who had taken the correct path!
  3. We celebrated some family birthdays this weekend in addition to having a second commemoration of my in-laws' 50th anniversary.  I made a hazelnut cake and (bonus round) some hazelnut ice cream.  After soaking over 6 ounces of ground hazelnuts in cream and sugar, I was supposed to discard them, but could not deal with that much waste.  I put some in scones (tasty), made chocolate-dipped hazelnut shortbread (delicious), and am finishing the rest by adding it to portions of hot 10-grain cereal (can't tell it's there, but that's okay!).  Hey, I had that hazelnut meal shipped here from Oregon; I am not going to toss it without a fight!
How's your week going?  See how other women are succeeding over at Faith and Family Live.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aegean Dreams

A stormy evening during our December visit.

Lauren is on her way to Paros by way of Spain.  She's studying at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts again this spring, but right now is visiting Annette, her roommate from VCU.

Before flying to Europe in the fall, Lauren created a blog which she never wrote in.  Now she has a new one called Aegean Dreams with three posts on it already! 

It should be a handy place to find out what's going on.  Skype is great, but with internet access only available at school, plus the time difference, it hasn't been the best method of keeping in touch.  I'm hoping to enjoy many bloggy visits this semester . . .
The student lounge!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's Time for a Step Can

Persistence paid off for Lucca.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Going to the Zoo

Today's forecast for Washington, DC:  high of 74 degrees, 10% chance of precipitation! 

Thanks to and a think-ahead friend, we're joining some other homeschoolers at the zoo today.  I'm guessing there won't be too many February field trips crowding the walkways . . .  :-)

My older children grew up with a Raffi soundtrack.  As they aged, we switched to mostly audio stories, so the younger ones have missed out.  As we planned today's trip, Raffi's "Going to the Zoo Tomorrow" kept playing in my head.  I found some old cassettes and the little girls started dancing.  I'll bet I know all the words to 4 or 5 albums' worth.

In case anyone else is old enough to feel nostalgic, here's the best I could find on YouTube on short notice.  It's a random family's zoo trip, and I didn't listen to the second song, but it was a treat for me to hear that oh-so-familiar voice singing about Mommy taking us to the zoo . . .

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dreams of Summer

When the girls and I went shopping to replace our bird feeder, we spied the garden seeds and snapped some up.
Every year our perennials return:  chives, thyme, and mint.  Traditionally we add parsley and basil, but last year I got a (too late) hankering for cilantro, and Lauren's Greek dishes have inspired me to try growing dill as well.  Besides, our favorite Eastern black swallowtail caterpillars eat both parsley and dill (and carrot tops).

I was having so much fun admiring those seed packets that I decided to hang them up.  It was that or consignment to the black hole of my desk . . .

I am not much of a decorator, but all my hours of reading other peoples' cool blogs inspired me to create something more attractive than pictures held up with masking tape.  That little garland on my pantry door makes me smile both because it's cute and in anticipation of the growing season to come.

What's your summer dream?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quick Knit

Having done a crummy job filling our Christmas stockings, I tried hard to make this year's Valentine's Day treats special.  I baked our now traditional giant, heart shaped linzer cookies, and spent a month or two dreaming up and acquiring "sursies."

When Adam joined us at the March for Life, he wore a hat I had knitted for Joe years ago.  That gave me the idea of making one for his very own.  I couldn't find my previous pattern, so I located something similar online, bought yarn, and started knitting.

Fortunately it was a quick project--by the time my supplies were gathered, I had only a few days to finish.  Here it is (modeled by Joseph), in Notre Dame colors:

The hat isn't perfect.  It's too big, for one thing.  I hear Adam was able to wear it OVER another hat (maybe a good thing in a South Bend winter)!  The top is also sort of weirdly flat, but that's okay, too.

It was fun to knit something so simple.  I could pick it up anytime, watch Netflix, hold a conversation, etc.  It was also portable, unlike the cabled lap blanket that's my on-again, off-again project.  I'm considering creating more hats and felted potholders soon.  They're not necessarily impressive, but I so enjoyed having a short-term, portable craft in the works.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Trash Can Transformation

Once upon a time, we had an ordinary trash can.  Then came the, um, improvements:

1. Set can on stool so the dog won't grab items (napkins, food wrappers, yogurt containers . . . ) from the top.
2. Fill bottom of can with heavy weights so the dog will not tip it over in search of "treats."
3. Bungee the lid so the cat will no longer climb in and retrieve goodies (butter wrappers, bloody plastic wrap, napkins . . . ).
4. I don't know what's next.  A step can?

BTW, Lucca can still tease a few bits out past the barely opening lid.  I found a little stash in the basement this afternoon.  Good grief!

Saturday, February 12, 2011


  • Wednesday:  Final permits signed.
  • Thursday:  Appointments seen at Market Street until 1:00 p.m., then moving, moving, moving.  (Len home after midnight.)
  • Friday:  Open for business at Plaza Street first thing in the morning.  A busy day with clients, patients, unpacking, and organizing.
  • Today:  More unpacking.  More organizing.  More appointments.  Hurrah!
Congratulations, Towne!

Friday, February 11, 2011

My Sister is Awesome!

I'm a good family cook.
So is she.
I bake.
So does she.
I detest sewing.
She doesn't.

Look, look, look what she made for me:
They're called cozies and are filled with feed corn (My 'ster bought herself a 50# bag!).  Microwave them for three minutes and enjoy long term heat.  We (I sometimes share . . .) have enjoyed their soothing warmth on laps, sore legs and backs, and (best of all) under the covers at our toes.  Aaaah . . .

Okay, those fabric squares may look simple to you, but I'm telling you they're too much project for me.  Luckily I have a generous sister who's not afraid to thread her sewing machine.  Thanks, girl!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

If You Give a Girl a Camera

By Rebecca, age 6:
Dusty doesn't usually look at the camera.  This is better than many shots we try to get!
Mom:  "Why did you take this picture?"
Becca:  "To show how big our family is."

 I had never noticed this part of Becca's play fridge!
 The encounter
The view from below

Friday, February 4, 2011

What I Love About Homeschooling

Rebecca was so engrossed that she didn't even know I took a picture (okay, three--and this is the closest one to being focused!) until she saw it on the computer days later.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Works of Mercy

Allow me to ramble a bit . . .

From the Baltimore Catechism:  "The spiritual and corporal works of mercy are acts of love which we show to Christ in the members of His Mystical Body.  Whatever we do for a member of the Body of Christ, we do for Christ."

The corporal works of mercy are "acts of love which come from the heart to help our neighbor in his bodily needs."
  1. Feed the hungry.
  2. Give drink to the thirsty.
  3. Clothe the naked.
  4. Visit the imprisoned.
  5. Shelter the homeless.
  6. Visit the sick.
  7. Bury the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy are "acts of love toward our neighbor to help him in the needs of his soul."
  1. Admonish the sinner.
  2. Instruct the ignorant.
  3. Counsel the doubtful.
  4. Comfort the sorrowful.
  5. Bear wrongs patiently.
  6. Forgive all injuries.
  7. Pray for the living and the dead.
I've always been more Martha than Mary, so I'm naturally drawn to corporal mercies.  That sort of hands-on, hospitality driven work isn't always easy, but it suits me.

I've been thinking about this subject lately because a friend of mine recently set an inspiring example.  She drove to another state to care for another friend undergoing her first round of chemotherapy.  M spent days away from home ministering to a family in need.  (BTW, this amazing woman and her family were one of the first reasons I considered homeschooling; just watching their lives made me want to try to be like them!)

I still remember a talk Elizabeth gave many years ago, during which she pointed out how parenting babies and toddlers requires many corporal works of mercy, while teens need us spiritually.  Maybe that's why I believe I'm a better parent of little ones.  Cleaning and feeding can be exhausting, but is relatively simple.
To admonish the sinner and instruct the ignorant, in love, takes patience, strength, and grace.  If I am to counsel the doubtful, I'd better know my faith and be steeped in it on a personal level.  Raising teens has also proven that I need a thicker skin, the better to bear wrongs patiently and forgive all injuries.  Not that they're so mean, but that I must not take offense so easily.

Anyway--these random thoughts that have been on my mind lately--thanks for reading along!