Friday, August 31, 2012

A Heart for Orphans

My dear friend Katie has a heart for orphans, and while it isn't in His plan that she and her lovely family  adopt an orphan at this point in their lives, Katie has taken this tugging at her heart and is doing something very concrete about it.  She has joined forces with a wonderful charitable organization, The Little Flowers Project, and has organized a virtual fun run to benefit the work of Little Flowers.

The gal has got spunk, and has even wrangled up several sponsors who have generously agreed to help her cause by donating some truly awesome items for a giveaway for participants in the Run for the Little Flowers Virtual 5K.

I love, love, love this idea and I love, love, love my friend and so I'm posting here today and encouraging you, my few readers, to head on over to her blog and see what this is all about.  If you too have a heart for orphans, join Katie and I and hopefully hundreds of others on October 20th for the virtual run. You don't even have to run or walk the 3.1 miles to participate. Straight up donations are also accepted ;)

Like Katie's Run for the Little Flowers page on Facebook.  Like the Little Flowers Project page on Facebook and get a glimpse into the great work they do for orphans in need of specialized care in China.  It's truly lovely work they do and you'll just about fall in love with every one of the sweet babes they care for. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, August 30, 2012

{P, H, F, R} Aug 30

round button chicken


You know, I just realized, it's not that the sky is so much prettier here, but that we have so much open space so that we can see the picturesque clouds.


Skoshi A became our 4th teenager on the 18th of this month.  Happy birthday, monkey girl!


Lil' Lamb has discovered he can avoid having his photo taken.  I spent an evening trying to chase him down and get him to smile for me.  He would only comply from behind the tree branch.


Wingnut Jr., as smart as he is, still cannot tie his own shoes.  He really struggles with fine motor skills.  I found this great make-your-own-shoe-tie- practice-board on Pinterest.  He has been working on it every day this week and he is improving rapidly.  Our goal is to have him independently tying his own shoes for Mass on Sunday.  I think he may make it.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

The Plan 2012/2013

I'm really looking forward to beginning another school year next week.  This will be our 14th year of homeschooling!  Can you believe it?  This promises to be a great year, and one that is much more simple for me, as we are homeschooling only three of our kids.

As promised the following is the proposed plan for this coming year:

Math:  All three children will continue using Saxon Math.  We've had truly great results using Saxon and I haven't yet seen the need to switch to anything else.  Wingnut Jr.  will be taking Math 2,  Special K will be using Saxon's Math 65, and Skoshi A will be taking Algebra I.

English/Language Arts:  All three will once again be using Seton's workbooks for basic grammar.  They will also continue using Spelling Power for spelling and Vocabulary from Classical Roots at their respective grade levels.

Literature:  Wingnut Jr. loves the Faith and Freedom Readers from Seton and so we'll continue reading from that series.  He's currently reading at a late 3rd grade to early 4th grade level, not too shabby.  Special K will be reading Father Brown and King of the Golden City from Catholic Heritage Curricula and will also read some short stories from a Hewitt Homeschool series.  Skoshi A enjoyed Lightening Literature from Hewitt Homeschool and will continue in that series for 8th grade.  She'll be reading classic poetry and short stories as well as The Hobbit, Treasure Island, My Family and Other Animals, A Christmas Carol, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Writing:  Wingnut Jr. will be putting down his thoughts in his very own keepsake journal from Catholic Heritage Curricula entitled What Do You Like to Do? Special K will be using the beloved Story Starters: Helping Your Child Write Like They Never Have Before.  Skoshi A will complete WriteShop 1 and may move on to WriteShop 2 by the end of the year.

Science:  Wingnut Jr. and Special K loved the Behold and See: Human Body and Health from CHC and so we are going to use the next book in the Behold and See series, which appears to be a more general science curriculum.  Skoshi A will use Concepts and Challenges this year with the third and final book in the series.

History:  As usual, I'm most excited about history this year.  We are continuing our chronological study of history, exploring the Renaissance, Reformation, Counter-Reformation, and Age of Exploration.  We're using a new program, that once again is literature based, from TruthQuest.  I love the layout, and flexibility of this program and I'm so looking forward to seeing what subjects most interest the kids.  This is by far my favorite history time period and I'm hoping the kids are as captivated by it as I am. Perusing through the loose lesson plans, TruthQuest does have a particular protestant lean, but it should be fairly simple for Wingnut and I to enhance the program with more Catholic resources.

Art/Music:  Skoshi A will continue studying the Artistic Pursuits series, working on the second book in the Junior High offering.  Wingnut Jr. and Special K will link art and history.  We're hoping to study some of the greatest artists the Renaissance had to offer as well as produce artistic works in their particular styles.  We'll be using Discovering Great Artists alongside our history study.  Wingnut Jr. and Special K have also expressed a desire to return to taking piano lessons.  A young man down the street is offering very affordable lessons and we may just give him a try.

Religion:  This will be the first year the kids have not been enrolled in a parish CCD program.  Our parish is quite a hike and CCD is held at very inconvenient times for us this year so I will be providing all of their religious education at home.  I'm leaning toward using the Faith and Life Series online as well as the Apostolate's Family Catechism.  I've also enrolled the girls in a bi-monthly Little Flowers Club to encourage not only service to Christ and His Church, but some new friendships with girls their age that share their faith.

Physical Education:  We'll be looking more into dance for the girls, once the JayP is finally licensed to drive.  Wingnut Jr. has expressed an interest in the local organized sports like basketball and baseball.  We'll also be training together for a fun run, hopefully this fall.

So there, in a nutshell, is the plan.  Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for our family and for our upcoming school year! Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mediterranean Hummus Dip

I saw something similar to this recipe on Pinterest.  I put my own spin on it, including making my own hummus.  Wingnut and I had it for lunch yesterday.  It was really delicious and so nutritious too!

Mediterranean Hummus Dip

Two 14 oz cans chickpeas; drained and rinsed
1 small jar sundried tomatoes
2 TBSP Tahini (you can sub 2 tsp sesame oil)
1/2 cup olive oil
juice from one lemon
2 tsp garlic; minced
1small cucumber; peeled and diced
15 Kalmatta olives; chopped
1/2 small red pepper; diced
4 TBSP goat cheese crumbles
20 mint leaves; minced

In a blender or food processor blend together the first six ingredients until completely smooth to make the hummus.  Spread 1 cup of the hummus in the bottom of a shallow serving dish or bowl.  Top hummus with remaining ingredients in layers.  Serve with pita wedges, pita crisps, multigrain crackers, multigrain tortilla chips, or sliced zucchini.
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

{Pretty, Happy, Funny Real} August 23

round button chicken


Special K is such a little helper.  She loves to work with me when I'm experimenting around with photography.  She is definitely one of my favorite subjects.

Here she is again with Lil' Lamb.  I love this photo, even if it is a little orangey looking.


Lil' Lamb has learned to ham it up for the camera.

I just love that crooked little smile and the mischievous look in his eyes.


Skoshi A likes to be photographed, but only on her terms.  During this session she just wanted to make goofy faces.  She's more into self portraits than cooperating with her mother as photographer.  She even got Special K goofing around with her.


This is called a "goat head".  They are an evil, evil, pervasive weed here.  They get caught in little bare feet and will blow the tires on most any vehicle.  We've had to pull them out of all the kids feet and have replaced several bike tires, a stroller tire, and a wheel barrow tire.  They are evil.  They must be pulled out by the root and thrown into the trash, because when these guys dry out, they are even more evil and treacherous.  I spent an hour pulling these from the gravel in front of our house.  Thankfully, one of our wonderful neighbors stopped by and as we chatted, she dug right in and yanked a few of these bad boys for me too.  Have I mentioned what a wonderful neighborhood we live in?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

2016 Obama's America

Wingnut and I saw this film on Sunday.  If I ever wavered in my decision to exercise my vote this November to oust Obama, this movie solidified once again how important it is to get this man out of office as soon as possible.

Dinesh D'Souza does a remarkable job putting together the puzzle pieces that answer the questions: "Who is Barack Obama?" and "What does Obama's America look like?"

This movie is still in theaters here in Utah, but I'm sure it won't be for long.  If you have a free afternoon or evening, see it. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mr. Curious

He always needs to be in the fray and in the know.  We call him "Curious Leo" (yes, I know I used his name).  Karate Kid received her Principles of Genetics text in the mail, and Curious Leo had to have it. Do you think he's grasping any of the concepts?

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Bourne Legacy: Movie Review

If you are a fan of the Bourne movies, you will not be disappointed with this action packed spin-off. If you've never seen a Bourne movie, it is not a prerequisite to enjoying Bourne Legacy, but as the story runs parallel to The Bourne Ultimatum, having seen the series will add to the enjoyment of watching this flick.

The DOD's black ops programs continue to expand despite the Jason Bourne catastrophe. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) is one of nine new operatives for Operation Outcome. In an attempt to exert better control over their operatives, the program issues meds and evaluates blood work on a regular basis. When exposure of the black ops programs threatens the DOD's image and budget, Ret. Col. Eric Byer ( Edward Norton) shuts down the program terminating all operatives. Cross escapes termination, but heavily dependent upon the meds he's been receiving he tracks down Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz), who was one of the researchers attached to the project and who is also in danger of being assassinated for her involvement in the program. Together they flee in search of answers and safety.

Like the previous films, there are twists and turns, intrigue, and a great need for suspension of disbelief. At times the story is clunky and difficult to follow. The casting and acting were extremely well done. Jeremy Renner plays a great "Bourne-like" hero and Edward Norton was especially good as the heavy-handed DOD black ops official. Action packed and fast moving it is a fun summer flick, and not much more. Because of occasional profanity and pervasive violence, I would recommend this film for more mature teens and adults. The USCCB gives The Bourne Legacy an AIII-- for adults. Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, August 13, 2012

On Running, Home Maintenance, and Getting a Handle on Things

This will be a post full of trifling miscellany. We have so much going on, but not a lot of it is interesting enough for separate posts.

I'm just a week shy of completing the Couch to 5k program. My pesky neck injury kept me from reaching my goal in July, but I'm pretty thrilled to be reaching it only a month behind. To prevent aggravating my injury, my physical therapist recommended I not run more than 3 days a week, which is truly fine by me. I've discovered I really don't look forward to running and I really have to get on myself to be sure I do it, but once I'm on the road, I enjoy it immensely. I've also realized I do much better running in the morning rather than at night. I think there is just too much time for me to talk myself out of going. Now it's time to find a little local 5k fun run.

Owning a home can be a real pain. Even though our current home is only ten years old, we've already had to do a lot of work on it. So far we've had work done on the heat pump, dish washer, and kitchen sink. We've also had to replace the completely inadequate air conditioning unit to the tune of 5 grand. Today we had the septic tank pumped. Wingnut spent the better part of last week locating and digging three feet down to the tank. The previous owners did not leave a single manual to any working part to this house. Nor did they leave blueprints or maps for the septic system. Wingnut had to track that info down through the county health department. The septic guy indicated our tank had NEVER been pumped. Not even once in ten years. Thankfully, we thought to have it done or we could have had a real mess on our hands in the near future.

The JayP began school today. It's his final first day of school. It will be interesting to see where this year leads him. I'm hoping and praying his counselor draws JayP out a bit and helps him sort through his future prospects. He's a super smart kid, but he tends to lack direction.

I'm attempting again to get a handle on clutter, cleaning, and organization with the kids. I'm reading Cleaning House: A Moms 12 Month Experiment to Rid her Home of Youth Entitlement. So far it's a worthwhile read. Thankfully, I am fairly confident our children are not as "entitled" as most, but while we have expected them to do their fair share of chores, we still do give them way more than they need or is good for them. We've implemented the first of the author's twelve tasks--having the kids make their beds and keep their rooms clear of clutter every day. We established a good reward/consequence system as well. Each child has a jar with either money or poker chips inside, depending on their age. There is $1 or 1 poker chip for each day of the month. If, upon inspection of their respective rooms, the room does not pass, $1 or 1 chip is taken from the jar. At the end of the month whatever is left in the jar is theirs to keep. Chips can then be converted to dollars or used to purchase video time, game time, or later bedtime in half hour increments. Of course, today, being the first day, went very well. Every bed was made and all clutter was cleared. We shall see how this goes for the rest of the month.

The local homeschooling forum from our community in Maryland has had a lively conversation going all weekend. It began with one mom's query into how to keep their family budget within their means in a location known for its very high cost of living. It's been a wonderful discussion with an enormous amount of great ideas flowing back and forth. One idea that has peaked my interest in the past was about homemade detergents and cleaners. My primary interest is in the savings we might expect, but an added benefit would be the great reduction in the chemicals we would use around the home, especially as we have a daughter who is sensitive to many chemicals. I downloaded an ebook copy of DIY Household Cleaners. It has recipes for everything from laundry soap to toilet cleaner. I think I might have a go at it and see how it goes.

We have just a couple of weeks until our school year begins.  Karate Kid heads back to Maryland for her sophomore year.  It has been wonderful having her home.  We're going to really miss her.  I'll have at least one post about our plans for my three remaining home schoolers coming up in the next week or so.  Until then we'll be cramming as much summer in as we can. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, August 9, 2012

{P,H,F,R} Hometown

round button chicken

The kids and I took a quick trip to my hometown to visit family this week.  We spent 4 days there and had an absolutely lovely time visiting my old childhood haunts and seeing loved ones.


The Rose Garden was blooming at the peak of its season.


The very happy and lovely young lady at the center of all the attention is my dear grandmother.  I took all of the cousins to visit her one afternoon.  She was thrilled.  I was touched by the great desire of her great grand children to visit her.  She is one special grandma, and we all love her so!


Here are all the cousins at my Dad's place.  We were laughing as his dog, Roxy, decided she was just another kid and smiled broadly for the photo.


A promised trip to our favorite sandwich shop turned out a bust.  Who needs a vacation? Apparently, the Domini's family does.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Budding Photographer

Wingnut Jr. has always had an interest in cameras.  Every once in a while I'll let him snap a few photos with my camera.  He usually wants to take photos of me and I oblige, but normally I don't find I'm very photogenic.  I love this pic, even though my face is a tad obscured it looks pretty cool with the sun flare, and the golden haze.  Funny, the lil' guy really despises art, but he really does have a pretty good eye.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Lil' Lamb 18 Months

Isn't he just beautiful.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

The Trouble with Young Adult Literature: Divergent Book Review

This past winter I read The Hunger Games trilogy and truly enjoyed it.  I think I devoured (LOL) the series in less than a week. I read them in the process of our move, so I'm fairly certain I did not have the time to write a review, but they were a fun read and I'm looking forward to seeing the first movie on DVD in the very near future.

I've been reading more classic literature this summer, especially short stories by Elizabeth Gaskell.  If you haven't read anything of hers, you should.  She is a little known gem of an author.

My sister recommended a new dystopian series by Veronica Ross.  It's a not yet completed trilogy set in future Chicago.  I must say, I did enjoy the first two books (Divergent and Insurgent) immensely.

The heroine of the series, Beatrice is about to choose her destiny in a very ordered society.  Chicago has formed a community based on five factions in an attempt at preventing the natural inclination of humanity toward dysfunction and eventual conflict.  The five factions exist independently but are dependent upon each other for certain functions.  Beatrice has been raised as an "Abnegation", a faction focused on service above self, and she has never felt she has belonged.

In her sixteenth year she, as well as all other sixteen year olds, will take an aptitude test that will indicate which faction she would most likely fit in with: sacrificial "Abnegation", fearless "Dauntless", truth seeking "Candor", peace-loving "Amity" or knowledge driven "Erudite".  Regardless of the aptitude results, every sixteen year old is free to choose any faction he or she desires, but that choice is final.

During Beatrice's aptitude test something goes seriously wrong and her results are perplexing, leaving her with little direction.  Her faction choice shocks and dismays many, and she is thrown into a dangerous adventure fraught with more questions than answers.

The two finished books of the trilogy are very well written, fast paced, and exciting.  They are geared toward young adult readers and so they are a quick and easy read.  Even so, Veronica Ross did not shy away from asking big questions: Do we have a destiny?; What does it mean to be human?; What is true courage?; How far can one go to protect the ones they love?; How do we truly serve our fellow man?

Unfortunately, like too many other novels geared toward the young adult, the romance aspect of the trilogy is too intense and in the end unchaste.  Sexual relationships are far too casual and engaged in without any moral discussion or implications.  While such relationships are "off camera" so to speak, they are absolutely implied, and I found that to be extremely disappointing.

The trouble with young adult literature (like the Twilight Series and even The Hunger Games) is that it really isn't geared toward a true young adult market.  Too often it is mistakenly skewed toward the tween and teen market.  This is a real problem.  Most tweens and younger teens are not completely equipped with the tools to discern and reject the behaviors or ideologies of the characters they read.  It is too easy to be sucked in by the romance of it all and miss the moral ramifications of what they are reading.  As such, I would recommend this series to much older teens and adults. Print Friendly and PDF

Thursday, August 2, 2012

{P,H,F,R} August 2

round button chicken

{Pretty} & {Happy}

My mother is a crafty mom.  She loves nothing more than to make handmade works of art for people she loves.  This is my Baltimore Album quilt she just finished for me.  It took her 7 years to complete it and it is an absolute work of art.  We had a perfect spot to display it and it is now hanging there proudly.  We didn't have a chance to get it hung before my mom left on Tuesday, but Tuesday afternoon, Wingnut got to work to get it hung.  


Lil' Lamb just loves the kitten.  Amazingly the kitten has the sense he is dealing with a baby and he is very, very gentle and tolerant.  Lil' Lamb thinks he is a kitten himself.

Yes, he is licking the kitten, silly baby.


Hanging the quilt was a daunting task that put Wingnut in a precarious position on the ladder set over the top of a stairwell.  It was nerve wracking watching him, but he did a marvelous job.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Missing Her Already

My sweet Oleander left early this morning to return to the East Coast.  She's meeting up with the Sisters and other Aspirants in New York and then they are all heading to New Hampshire for three weeks of hiking, camping, and prayer called Convivencia.  The Aspirancy will then return to Avondale and almost immediately begin their academic year.

It was wonderful to have her home for a few weeks this summer, but it is so hard to see her go.  It may be 5 months before we see her again.  I miss her already.

Health wise she has completely recovered from her bout of Lyme's disease and has been symptom free for more than 3 weeks.  She can't wait to see her doc in Pennsylvania in late August so she can show her that indeed anti-depressants were definitely unnecessary.

Keep our little girl in your prayers.  It can't be easy to pursue a vocation at such a young age in the world today.  It certainly hasn't been easy letting her go. Print Friendly and PDF