Thursday, November 19, 2015

Still Here

Life has been crazy busy and I have had little time or inclination to blog.  Let me assure you, we are all well.  Homeschooling, of course, takes a fair amount of our time and I've taken on a few extra things which account for how little time I can devote here. Even photography has taken a back burner to everything else!  

We have joined a co-op.  It's funny to say that, as it is a two family co-op, but between her 7 and my 4 we have a decently sized group of students.  I am teaching elementary art, elementary science, middle school literature, high school literature, and photography.  She teaches high school chemistry, elementary literature, as well as math games to each age group.  We then travel to a local park or our parish gym for PE--so far we've tackled volleyball.  We meet once a week from 9 am to around 3 pm which really puts a sizable dent into one full day.  The lesson planning I do takes several hours each week and then I have papers to correct several times a month.  It has been quite an undertaking, but one very much worth while.

I've become even more involved in the choir in our parish.  I cantor at least once a month and then I sing for the Latin Mass once a quarter with our schola.  I need to rehearse at home nearly every day, especially as the Latin Mass date approaches.

I've really been focusing on exercising every day, so that also takes up a good chunk of time.  Then there is the garden, the chickens (which are all finally laying eggs ), and housekeeping in general.  

The kids are all doing very well in school and we are extremely pleased with the start we've had with the school year.  I still need to do a post about our homeschool plans for this year.  Angela is in 11th grade and has taken up hunting with her dad.  Katerina is in 8th grade and seems to finally overcome some of her difficulties in school--especially in regards to spelling and math. She has become an avid drawer--especially of manga/anime styled drawing.  I should post a couple of her pictures from several months apart.  It is absolutely amazing, the improvement she has made.  Benedict is working completely independently in his school work and has become an absolutely voracious reader.  I gave him the first Chronicle of Narnia book one night and by lunchtime the next day, he was done and begging for more. Leo is anxiously awaiting his 5th birthday in February.  He asks every morning how many more "years" until his birthday (he confuses days with years).

We seen Nadja most weekends and she is approaching graduation quickly.  She has a month left at the U.  She has applied to go on a mission with the SSVM this winter while she waits for her job at Salt Lake Mosquito Abatement to start up again in the spring.  Recently, she interned at the Natural History Museum during their Behind the Scenes weekend as an entomology docent.  She was in charge of organizing and setting up the mosquito display. She managed tickets for us and we spent a lovely Saturday afternoon exploring the museum.

Sr. Olivia continues to love life as a postulant with the SSVM.  We talk to her several times a month and she is so joyful and content.  She has continued to have health issues and we are feeling she may have a chronic illness related to her previous struggle with Lyme's Disease.  She is suffering from migraines, occasional nausea and dizziness, and her knee is still swollen and in pain. She's been on crutches since May.  Her orthopedist can find nothing wrong structurally and has sent her for testing with a neurologist.  Please keep her in your prayers.  Through all these struggles, she still hangs tight to her vocation with the sisters.  Her fortitude is really amazing.

There you have it. Life happens, but I will endeavor to begin posting here again. Pax!
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Friday, October 2, 2015

What's for Dinner?

Joining Simcha in all things supper for this week.


Homemade deep dish pizzas, drool


Our local Knights of Columbus had a family picnic so all I had to do was make salsa.  Yay, K of C!


Chili with browned beef chunks, ground beef, chorizo, diced and crushed tomatoes, onions, spices and black beans. It's the perfect food.


Copycat Chick Fil A nuggets and sauce with crudité (that's just fancy talk for carrots and celery sticks). I forgot to take a photo and by the time I remembered every last nugget was gone.


Leftover chili (I added another can of tomatoes and another can of beans just to be sure)


Chinese sticky ribs (from Cook's Country 2007) and stir-fried broccoli.


Mama loves her Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza.  We had gourmet vegetarian and cheese pizza.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}


Pretty September sunrise


Happy climbing boy at the playground


Three of my girls and a friend ready for SLC Comic-con 2015

Angela made her costume.  I was so impressed, I'm handing over sewing duties to her.  She and her sisters figured out how to sew the cloak and modify and sew the bodice.  She purchased her wig, boots, and leggings to round out her costume as Tauriel from The Hobbit movies.

Nadja made her own costume, too.  She used a heat gun to mold sheets of foam rubber to her body and then used velcro to attach the pieces to a black underlayer.  She purchased a cheap helmet and painted everything to match, along with distressing to make it look like she's been through galactic battles. In case you are as Star Wars illiterate as I am, she went as a Mandalorian bounty hunter after the model of Boba Fett.

Katerina went as Honey Senpai from some anime show I've never seen.  She put her costume together using things around the house and purchased the pink bunny online.


Katerina has been complaining of blurriness, eye fatigue and headaches for a couple months.  I took her to have her eyes examined, and sure enough she does indeed need glasses for at least reading and watching video.

For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} click on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Kingdom Animalia--Lesson 10

Lesson 10--Nematods, Annelids, and Platyhelminthes--Worms, worms, worms!

Read about nematode, annelids, and platyhelminthes using a good resource. Our favorite resource for this lesson is  Come Learn with Me: Animals Without Backbones.

Characteristics of Phylum Nematoida (threadlike) more commonly known as round wormsAnAnn

1) Long, slender, rounded bodies

Characteristics of Phylum Annelida (little rings) more commonly known as ring worms or segmented worms

1) Body is a tube within a tube

2) Produce slimy mucus

3) Breathe through skin

4) Segmented body

Characteristics of Phylum Platyhelminthes (flat worm)

1) Flat, ribbon-like body


Student will be able to list major characteristics of nematode, annelids, and platyhelminthes and will be able to give an example of each.


Younger students: Draw a picture of a particular species of nematode, annelid, or platyhelminthes and use the biodiversity website to explore the animal's taxonomy.

Older students: Fill out an animal report form (this one from CurrClick is free and will work for this activity), making sure to include the characteristics that make this animal a nematode, annelid, platyhelminthes.  Use the bio-diversity website to explore the animal's taxonomy.

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Sept 24

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~


The sunsets here are so breathtaking


The sisters were texting photos as they awaited Pope Francis at Andrews AFB on Tuesday.  Look at those smiling faces!  That's our postulant Ollie with the glasses.


Later in the day, I had friends messaging me photos they came across in online news articles.  The SSVM sisters were widely photographed all throughout the day.  This one is my absolute favorite.  Just look at those expressions.  The sisters told me the Holy Father actually saw them and gave them a blessing.


The boy with the perpetually grubby face.

For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} click on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Kingdom Animalia--Lesson 9

Lesson 9-- Echinoderm, Porifera, Cnidaria, and Mollusks

Using a good reference book, or books, read about echinoderm, porifera, cnidaria, and mollusks.  Our favorite book for this lesson is Come Learn with Me: Animals Without Backbones.

Characteristics of Phylum Echinodermata (spiny skin)

1) Covered with hard plates and thick, spiny skin

2) Radial symmetry (a basic body plan in which the organism can be divided into similar halves by passing a plane at any angle along a central axis)

3) Live in the ocean

Characteristics of Phylum Porifera (pore bearer)

1) Simplest multi-cellular animal

2) Live in warm ocean water

3) Reproduce via budding (forming a new growth on the side of their bodies which eventually breaks off and anchoring to grow on its own)

4) Can regenerate (regrow) damaged or broken parts of their bodies

Characteristics of Phylum Cnidaria (nettle)

1) Live in water

2) Have tentacles (any of various slender, flexible processes or appendages in animals, especially invertebrates, that serve as organs of touch,prehension, etc.; feeler.)

3) Have a poisonous sting

Characteristics of Phylum Mollusca (soft body)

1) Soft moist body

2) Muscular foot

3) Thick skin or mantle

4) Usually has an outer shell


Student will be able to list major characteristics of echinoderm, porifera, cnidaria, and mollusks and give an example of each.  Student will be able to define radial symmetry, budding, regeneration, and tentacles


Younger students: Draw a picture of a particular species of echinoderm, porifera, cnidaria, or mollusk and use the biodiversity website to explore the animal's taxonomy.

Older students: Fill out an animal report form (this one from CurrClick is free and will work for this activity), making sure to include the characteristics that make this animal an echinoderm, porifera, cnidaria, or mollusk.  Use the bio-diversity website to explore the animal's taxonomy.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

The Heck with Fabulous Foodie Fridays, Simcha Already has a Friday Food Link Up

Why put myself through all the trouble of creating a link up every Friday, when Simcha Fisher has a food related one up and running already, and she is oh-so-much-funnier than me.  My life has been made that much simpler.  So, what was for dinner at your house this week?


Angela and I spent the whole day baking cookies, brownies, blondies, and bread for the youth group bake sale.  There was no way I was making dinner!

The kids had hot dogs and Chris and I had date night.  We tried a new BBQ joint in Ogden.  It was pretty awful.  BarbeqUtah has struck again.  For some odd reason, Utahans cannot brew coffee, make palatable donuts, or cook BBQ worth a darn.  Next time, we will stick to our tried and true Indian restaurants (we have three to choose from).  So far, we haven't had bad Indian food in Utah.  Go figure.


Chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya and corn on the cob from the garden.


Slightly spicy tomatillo chorizo soup with flaky goat cheese biscuits and Rice Crispy Treats for dessert.


Chicken tamale pie (I'll put the recipe up sometime next week) and cantaloupe and blueberry pie bars for dessert.  I quadrupled the recipe, as it was my week to take dinner to another family in our parish. This is one of those dinners the kids cheer about when they hear I'm making it.


Slow cooker Kalua pork, salad, and pineapple.  This was a new recipe for me.  It worked great, especially since we were out of the house from 8:30 Wednesday morning until nearly 4 in the afternoon.  We came home to the house smelling like a Hawaiian bbq.


Leftover Kalua pork, salad, and fruit with snickerdoodles for dessert.  Yay! No cooking for me!


Spinach artichoke quiche and grapes, plus I made cinnamon and sugar pie crust crisps with the leftover scraps of pie dough.

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Sept. 17

{Pretty Happy}

It snowed here this week, at least in the upper elevations.  The mountains are so pretty with snow on them and the hillsides are dotted with earthy fall tones.  Of course, the skiers are extremely happy to see snow this early.

{Real Funny}

Our beautiful 16 year old daughter loves that she finishes her school work so early in the day, because then she is free to pursue other interests, such as gory stage make-up.

For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} click on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Kingdom Animalia--Lesson 8

Lesson 8--Arthropods (Phylum Arthropoda--Jointed Foot)

We are moving now from vertebrate animals (animals with back bones) to invertebrates.  Review the terms vertebrate and invertebrate.

Read about Arthropods in a good reference book.  Our favorites are What is an Arthropod and Come Learn With Me: Animals Without Backbones

Characteristics of Arthropods

1) Exoskeleton (outside skeleton) made of chitin

2) Molting (cast off or shed feathers, skin, exoskeleton in the process of growth and renewal) of outgrown exoskeleton

3) Jointed legs

4) Segmented bodies

There are three major groups of arthropods:

Arachnids (Class Arachinida)

1) Eight legs

2) Only two body segments (segment: any of the discrete parts of the body of an animal, especially of an arthropod)

3) Usually eight eyes

Insects (Class Insecta--cut into sections)

1) Three pairs of jointed legs (jointed: the movable or fixed place or part where two bones or elements of a skeleton join)

2) Three body segments (head, thorax, abdomen)

3) One or two pairs of wings

4) One pair of antennae

Crustaceans (Subphylum Crustacea)

1) Live in or near water

2) Five pairs of jointed legs

3) Two pairs of antennae

While discussing arthropods be sure to compare and contrast to other animals studied thus far.

Objectives: Students will be able to list common characteristics of arthropods.  Students will be able to differentiate between arachnids, insects, and crustaceans.  Students will be able to define the terms exoskeleton, molting, segmented, and jointed.


Younger students: Draw a picture of a particular species of arthropod and use the biodiversity website to explore the animal's taxonomy.

Older students: Fill out an animal report form (this one from CurrClick is free and will work for this activity), making sure to include the characteristics that make this animal an arthropod.  Use the bio-diversity website to explore the animal's taxonomy.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Fabulous Foodie Friday

I'm considering doing a weekly link up here.  I think I'll call it Fabulous Foodie Friday.  Participants can link to their blogs and post photos of some of the fabulous food they made or ate.  We can link or post recipes too.  What do you think?  I'll have to figure out how to do the linky thingy, for one.  Let me know if you're interested.  Here's my contribution for the week:

This is a cranberry spritzer with a splash of vodka I made with my new Vitamix blender.  I have completely fallen in love with my Vitamix.  It has a prominent space on my counter and I use it every single day. 

For our Blessed Mother's birthday, we had to have cake.  So I made personal lemon curd cakes, using my Vitamix.

We also had crepes.  Made with my Vitamix.

Angie made chocolate almond butter spread (Think Nutella but with almonds). She used the food processor, but still fabulous! Here is a link to the recipe she used.

I'm not a huge fan of Nutella, so I made homemade blueberry sauce for my crepes.  Yum!

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} September 10


Don't you just love when the sun shines in rays through the clouds?  Makes me think of heaven, every time I see it.


Most of the day it is still summer here in Utah (we've had a couple frosty mornings but the temps are still getting into the upper 80s and low 90s).  We took the kids to the local reservoir one afternoon.  The boys played happily on the beach for a couple hours.

And Angela and her buddy got to try out her new kayak.


Caught the preschooler climbing the pantry shelves looking for "sumfin" to eat.  Thankfully, I don't keep anything really worthwhile for foraging in there.  He'll soon realize this and stop climbing, right?


We have officially begun our school year.  Ben is working on becoming more independent and is writing out his own math work this year.

Yes, Katerina is in her pjs.  That's how she rolls.  She was also not super thrilled I was snapping photos this morning to document our new year.

Old habits die hard.  I had hoped Leo would have forgotten how I would let him play on the iPad during the hour or so I work with Ben in the morning.  I think he must be part elephant, because it was the first thing he asked about after we said our opening prayers.  At least he adhere's to the "only educational games on the iPad" rule.  I'm hoping to wean him off the electronics and move him into doing something much more kinetic during our school time.

My high school  student escaped the camera.  She was up at 7 am and finished by the time I made it to the table for math with Ben.  She won't be able to hide forever.

For more of this week's {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} click on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why I Still Love Homeschooling

Today marked the beginning of the 18th year of homeschooling for our family and I was as excited this morning to begin our new year as I was when Nadja began kindergarten 18 years ago.  Homeschooling has never been dull or tedious for me, but believe me, we have had bad homeschool years in the past and I'm sure we'll have bad homeschool years in the future.  For the most part, teaching our children at home; using our own syllabus and our own values has been truly a blessing.

One of the huge personal benefits of teaching my children at home has been an enormous sense of accomplishment.  I have taught 6 children how to read, write, spell, add, subtract, multiply and divide.  I think that is pretty awesome.  Beyond those basics, I believe Chris and I have passed on a life long pursuit of learning to our children.

This December Nadja will earn her degree in biology and is looking to pursuing her masters in some area of science.  This past summer, she worked as a paid intern for a pesticide/mosquito abatement lab and she really, really loved it.  She learned so many new things and she would come home each weekend excited to tell us everything she had seen, done, and learned.

John Paul applied to and was accepted to the local college and is working hard toward his goals.  He has learned and grown and has so much more to learn and grow toward.  It's an exciting adventure being on his own and making his way in the world.  He has so much more to look forward to.

Olivia has been in the convent for 8 months now and is doing extremely well in her academics and growing in her spiritual life as she pursues further formation with the Sister Servants.  Every phone call we can hear the joy and excitement in her voice as she speaks of her life with the sisters.

I really could not ask for more and I am so proud of each of my adult children.  They have so much life to look forward to and I know they were given the very best we could possibly give by homeschooling each of them for the many years we did.

Another wonderful benefit of homeschooling has been how much I have learned alongside my children.  I've learned to diagram sentences.  I've learned all about animal taxonomy and human anatomy and all sorts of other scientific information.  I've learned some Latin. I've read and re-read every era of history and each time I teach an era, I learn more.  I've learned tons about photography and have really grown as a photographer. I've read more books than I ever read when I was a student.  I've learned I'm a visual and kinetic learner and I've discovered the learning styles of each of my children.  I've become more organized, more patient, and more persevering than I ever was before homeschooling.

This year we are beginning a new co-op venture with another homeschool family from our parish.  We are tackling high school chemistry, junior high and high school literature, elementary art, photography, science in the natural world, and a bit of PE.  As I was writing lesson plans for the two literature classes I'll be teaching, I realized 90% of the books, short stories, and poems I had chosen I had never read myself.  I'll be reading right alongside my students and that prospect excites me to the core.  It's going to be a great homeschool year! Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Problem with Kim Davis

Certainly by now you've heard about Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis, her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and her subsequent jailing by a Federal Court judge.  Kim Davis has become the face of religious freedom in America.  I definitely applaud her for her courage and fortitude.

Unfortunately, Kim Davis may not be the candidate we should pin our ideals of traditional marriage on.  Please believe me, I am not passing judgement on Kim Davis.  She is a human being and a sinner, just as I am a human being and a sinner.  The problem with Kim Davis is she, herself, has had multiple marriages and divorces.  The problem is, what exactly constitutes "Traditional Marriage" in America?  The problem is, we've rallied behind the cry of "Traditional Marriage" and we really don't even know what that means anymore.

Marriage has been pillaged for decades in this country and gay marriage is just a continuation of the degradation of marriage.  We, as a nation, stopped believing in the sanctity of marriage when we, as a nation, began accepting contraception and no-fault divorce.  If we truly want to defend traditional marriage, we need to change the hearts and minds of people regarding the fecundity and permanence of true traditional marriage.  It will not be an easy task.  We will likely have many more Kim Davis' in the future.  We need many more Kim Davis' in the future if we want to open the eyes of this nation to the real harm we have done to marriage and in turn to family. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, September 3, 2015

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} Yellowstone 2015


We took advantage of a couple days off for Chris and drove 4.5 hours to Yellowstone National Park.  If you've never been there, we can not recommend going highly enough.  It is filled with unique, beautiful, and bizarre wonders.  Of course, no trip to Yellowstone would be complete without a trip to see Old Faithful spew steaming water into the air.  Spectacular!

Old Faithful is such a wonderful feature we stayed for a second display and watched from a different vantage.

There are countless geysers, mud pots, fumaroles, and steaming springs throughout the park, and each is unique and beautiful in its own way.

This is a view from Mammoth Hot Springs.

Many of the ponds steam from thermal activity

The colors from minerals and acidic reactions can be amazing, especially against the background of evergreen covered hills and mountains and gorgeous blue skies painted with wisps of cloud.


Our very curious boys were completely enthralled with the geysers, springs, and especially the bubbling mud pots.


We saw tons of wildlife on this trip, including bison, elk, deer, coyote, and many of these adorable little ground squirrels.  This one let me get in fairly close.  You should have seen how quickly it could devour a stalk of meadow grass.


Really, ask so little of these ruffians, but could I get one, just one good group photo for posterity's sake?

For more {Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real}  click on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter.

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