Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What I Read in 2015

Ellie, from The Bleeding Pelican, decided to post her "books in review" for 2015.  I loved her list and I thought I would do the same.  I'd love to see what you read in 2015, too.  I'm always on the look out for new reads!

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen, was difficult for me.  It is written in such an odd style.  He takes modern distractions we should limit or eliminate in our children's lives and encourages that imagination killer, meanwhile describing how damaging that pastime or distraction is to experiencing a rich and imaginative childhood.  It's almost Screwtape like.  Basically one is supposed to understand the opposite of what is actually suggested.  Too confusing for me and I didn't actually end up finishing it.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis was a re-read, but still so valuable!  I read it this time in preparation for guiding our high school co-op class as they read it this coming spring.

Nature Anatomy and Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman are fantastically fun reference guides for "The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World".  We used them a ton in our nature study this past summer and fall.  They are very simple and filled with lovely details and illustrations on everything from minerals to mushrooms.  My kids devoured their contents with relish.

Sir Gawain and the Green Night translated by Simon Armitage.  This was another must read for my high school literature class.  I'd never read it before and I could not believe how much I enjoyed it.  This was my first honest to goodness foray into Middle English literature.  Canterbury Tales is up next.

Strangers and Sojourners by Michael D. O'Brien was another re-read.  I could re-visit his novels over and over again.  Have you seen he as another new one in the Father Elijah series?  Elijah in Jerusalem will be my next new read coming up in 2016.

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty was surprise favorite for me.  I usually do not go for modern novels and especially this type of storyline (infidelity, divorce, etc.).  I'd have hated it, if it hadn't wrapped up in the way that it did.  It was a truly engaging story, and I managed to overlook the occasional profanity, this time.

Passing by Nella Larsen was a very quick, enjoyable read and opened my eyes to another side of living as an African American in early 20th Century America.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James is a sequel to Pride and Prejudice.  I actually watched the BBC special presentation before reading the book and I thoroughly enjoyed both, although James did not quite capture Austen's grand wit.

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte was another quick and delightful read.  Agnes is the prototypical English governess brought into a wealthy home to care for spoiled children. Too much fun, right? The story is based on some of Anne's own experiences as a governess.

My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve was a selection my girls were assigned for their summer book club.  They both talked of it non-stop during their reading and I thought I needed to see what the fuss was about.  Set during WWII, My Family follows the travels of Franziska Mangold as she leaves Germany for England on the last kindertransport for Jewish children.  It is a wonderfully told story, uplifting and heartrending at the same time.  No wonder my girls enjoyed it.

Bonhoeffer by Erik Metaxas was my summer book and it took me all summer to get through it.  It's a wonderful biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer detailing his upbringing, theological training, philosophical point of view all leading up to his involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler as one of the Valkyrie conspirators.

7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness by Erik Metaxas was probably my favorite book all year. It consists of seven short biographies of the seven men, who were in Metaxas' opinion, great--George Washington, William Wilberforce, Jackie Robinson, Saint John Paul the Great,  Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Charles Colson.  Metaxas did a formidable job highlighting the Christian virtues and qualities that made each of his choices truly inspiring men.  He just released another book called 7 Women and the Secret of their Greatness.  That is on my list to read in 2016 for certain.

Catholic Matters by Richard John Neuhaus was my lenten read.  It was a great choice and spoke volumes to me as I attempted to pray my way through lent.  Death on a Friday Afternoon will likely be my choice for lent 2016.

I'm sure there were a few other odds and ends not recalled.  I've got a pretty good list going for 2016 already, once I've finished The Count of Monte Cristo (another high school lit assignment and I'm loving it!).  On my short list: Mere Christianity, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, MacBeth, War and Peace, Death on a Friday Afternoon, Elijah in Jerusalem, and 7 Women and the Secret of their Greatness.

I'd love to see your list--both what you read this last year and what you plan to read this coming year. You can leave it in the comments, or blog about it.  Let me know if you do!

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why We Did Not Send a Christmas Photo Card This Year

I have a house full of uncooperative children when it comes to taking a "nice" photo.  These are my beautiful daughters on before Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.  I snapped continually at least 20 photos and this is what I got when I uploaded them to my computer.  This is why I have a photo library full of inanimate objects, instead of photos of our children. Stinkers, one and all.

The little boys are somewhat more cooperative, but not much. Sigh.

Merry Christmas, from our family to yours!

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Friday, December 18, 2015

The Eulogy

The following is the working draft from my brother, Walter's, eulogy for our grandmother.  The actual spoken version was so much more than is written here, but how do you condense and put into words 105 years of an extraordinary life? We all felt he did a marvelous job.

The greatest truth about my Grandma is that she chose to focus her life around the cares and needs of others instead of being absorbed with herself.  Her final wishes reveal how she wished to deflect attention from herself.  “Don’t print my age or my picture in the paper.”  She was 105 and a beautiful woman so why wouldn’t we expose the rest of the world to who she was?  Simply put she was more interested in inviting others into her heart and home than being the center of attention.  Grandma didn’t even like having her picture taken.  Whoever was behind the camera would tell her to smile and she would not say a word but instead gave a look of “Just take the picture dear”.   If you tried to get her thoughts on how you could help her or gift ideas for her she would simply reply…”Don’t make a fuss”.

Even though she was uncomfortable with the camera or parties given in her honor she was more than comfortable with sharing her time and care with others.  All you had to do was visit her house to see how gracious of woman she was.  In the middle of her living room there was a card table that felt like was the center of the universe.  At that table many games of cribbage, pinochle and Yahtzee were played and even more meals were shared.  I had my first taste of whiskey provided by my Uncle Otto at that table.  No matter who you were…if you made it through the front door you were welcome at her table.  If there was a larger occasion with more people she had a table that extended with extra leaves while every piece of furniture that remotely resembled a chair was employed to seat her guests.  There was always room for one more even if it meant she gave up her seat.  If you sat next to Grandma during a meal you were either the most lucky or unlucky person in that room, depending on your perspective.  If there was an empty spot on your plate she made sure there was food to replace it.  It felt as if it was more important to her that you were stuffed than for her to have more than a couple of bites of food.

Grandma loved family.  My earliest memories were going over to her house every Sunday where we would feast on waffles, bacon, and potato salad.  It was not uncommon for a group of adults to be gathered around her table playing cards.  We would also tag along with her to visit Aunt Lil at “the farm” in Post Falls.  On one of our trips my cousins, Mark and Chris, and I decided we were bored with picking cherries and climbed over the rock wall to get up close to Aunt Lil’s bull and play matador.   It was one of the few times we saw her upset with us and we faced the severe punishment of having our ears pinched.   What made the family excursions so memorable was the feeling that she always wanted you to be there with her…even if you were misbehaving.  Over time grandchildren began to provide her with great grandchildren and there was no doubt she loved her role as GG.  Any picture of her with a smile on her face she is holding a child on her lap or in her arms.  A term she coined “the rodeo” was when all the great grandkids came over to her house to enjoy a time of sitting on her lap and eating food at her table.  No matter how loud things got with the addition of kids Grandma was in her element.

Being Norwegian was a big part of the family experience with her.  We had a yearly tradition of making Lefse at her house during the holidays.  When we arrived everything was ready to go.  Tons of dough was rolled, a spadoo was the central utensil used and plenty of egg nog and hushka was consumed.  All the while the phrase, "Uff da!" was proclaimed regularly.  The more eggnog consumed the more often, "Uff da!" was shouted.  The only tradition that was more special to my Grandma was having everyone over on Christmas Eve.  We would share a traditional Norwegian Christmas Eve dinner of ham and dumplings, her sweet pickles with green dye along with chocolate cream and cream cheese pies.   There was a Christmas tree always in the same spot (without blinking lights on it) with presents for everyone underneath.  In the corner was a table full of lit candles…except for that one Christmas candle that was too pretty to be used and there was the distinctive smell that we will forever associate love, family, and Grandma with.   The one moment each year that revealed her heart the most was the prayer right before we ate the meal.  It was the only time you saw Grandma emotional.  The prayer was always quick but when she prayed you could hear the deep level of thankfulness she had for what she had and more important who she had in her life.

Being outdoors was another important part of her life.  When the weather was nice she was always out tending to her beautiful flowers or abundance of vegetables in her garden.  She daily went for walks in her neighborhood and even mowed her own lawn when she was in her 90s…ignoring my dad’s scolding every now and then.  She loved to take us grandkids to Duncan Gardens, the Rose and Lilac Gardens and once had to fish me out of the wishing pond at the Japanese Gardens…yes another ear pinching.  What made Grandma so much fun was she had a sense of adventure and loved to bring anyone along who wanted to join her.

A few years back on Facebook there was a post my sisters and I were commenting on in regards to the best thing in life.  Lisa Maxwell had the best response when she said the best thing in life was “being a Maxwell”.   The one thing I believe that made Grandma the most special was that she made everyone feel as if they were part of the family…everyone was a Maxwell to her.  My dad told me a story of when he and Wayne were young and they asked Grandma if they could build an ice rink in the back yard.  She said no.  What she didn’t know was they had already built the rink and a few of their friends were outside skating on it when the question was asked.  Instead of shooing the neighbor kids away she made them all food and invited them in.  That is what being a Maxwell was all about to her.  When I went to see her for the final time at the Regency Center with my Dad and Angela, a worker who was getting off her shift stopped by and with tears in her eyes she told us that losing Grandma was going to be one of the most difficult losses for their staff.   This was because Grandma went out of her way to care for whoever was around her.  Even this church experienced her generosity for over 70 years, whether if it was volunteering to bake cookies or give of her time in other ways.

When Pastor Dave asked me to share a scripture that was a reflection of Grandma it took me some time but I finally came to Galatians chapter 5.  The author writes about how God is constantly working in us to remove the selfish things in our lives that can be destructive and through His Holy Spirit replace it with something better.  As I read this passage I would like to ask everyone here to close your eyes and think about how Grandma set an example for each one of us to follow in regards to each element that makes up the fruit of the spirit.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  There is no law against these things.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.  Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.”
Thank you Grandma for being a living example of the Apostle Paul’s words!

Grace and Peace be with you all!

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Friday, December 11, 2015

The Fruit of the Spirit

GG passed away the Friday after Thanksgiving.  It wasn't a surprise.  She hadn't been doing well,  and she was 105, for goodness sake.  She lived a long life and was a servant of God in everything she was and did.  I was able to go home for a few days for her service this last week.  It was a sad and wonderful trip.  We are all grieving for ourselves, but we are also relieved for her.  I have great hope, when she faces our Lord, he will say to her, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Please pray for the repose of the soul of my grandmother, Olive Annie Maxwell.  May she rest in peace and eternal happiness.

3 years ago I wrote this post, which still describes my feelings for her today.  She was one of a kind.

I have more to say and photos to post in the coming days.  I want to post my brother's eulogy from her service.  It was perfect.  He drew from Galatians 5:22-23 which described her flawlessly.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law."

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Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kingdom Animalia--Optional Lessons 11-15

As promised, here is the last of the lesson plans I put together in studying Kingdom Animalia. I have included links to all the lesson plans in this final installment. I hope your children enjoy this unit study as much as mine have.

Lesson 9

After exploring kingdom Animalia's main phyla, you might end this unit study using any or all of these final 5 lessons.

Lesson 11: Conservation and Stewardship

Using a dictionary define conservation, stewardship, extinct, and endangered

Read what the Bible and catechism say about stewardship.

The entire creation narrative from Genesis is a great start, with particular attention paid to Genesis 2: 15-20

Psalm 104 and 105 express beautifully the goodness of God's creation and his loving care as well as the covenant made with Abraham and his descendants, bestowing upon them the lands of Canaan.

Matthew 6: 25-34

Isaiah 43:20-21 Colossians 1:16-17 are wonderful verses reminding us God created all and all he created serves Him first

The USSCB website has a wonderful webpage explaining stewardship from a Catholic perspective.

What is conservation?  What does it mean to be a good steward?  Read about endangered species and give examples of some endangered animals.  Why are they endangered? What can we do as good stewards to ensure their survival?

Read about extinct species.  Give examples of an extinct animal and explain how that animal became extinct.  What can we do to prevent other species from becoming extinct?

Objectives: Student will be able to define the terms stewardship, conservation, extinct and endangered.  Student will be able to explain Church teaching regarding good stewardship.  Student will give an example of an endangered animal.  Student will be able to give an example of an extinct animal.

Lesson 12: Animal Habitats

Using a dictionary define the term habitat

List and research the major habitats and give a brief description of each.  Research and list what kinds of animals live in each habitat.

Tropical rainforest
Coral reef
Deciduous forest
Tide pool

Many of the above listed are very similar.  There isn't a single good resource for this lesson, but I found just searching the types of each habitat brought up plenty of useful information for this lesson.

Project:  Older students choose a habitat to research.  Describe the habitat and list types of animals that might live there.  Consider the characteristics of one particular animal suited to this habitat, explain why this animal might thrive there.

Younger students choose a habitat to research and draw picture illustrating major characteristics along with at least one animal suited to that habitat.

Objectives: Student will be able to define the term habitat.  Student will be able to describe different habitats and will be able to give examples of animals that thrive in particular habitats. 

Lesson 13: Life Cycles and Food Chains

Younger students can explore animal life cycles for frogs and butterflies here.

Older students can find information on life cycles here.

Explore food chains using this website.

Project: Older students choose and animal and draw a diagram of its life cycle.  Younger students choose a life cycle diagram to color from this website.

Lesson 14: Animal Behavior

Discover Education has a great lesson plan ready to use for this subject.  Get it here.

Lesson 15: Careers with Animals

Help students list several different possible careers relating to animals and research a few focusing on job description and educational requirements.

Project: Older students research a career field you might be interested in and write a report.  Include any special skills, study, or schooling that might be involved as well as a description of the career.

Younger students: Draw a picture of an animal career you might be interested in. Be sure to include an animal you might work with in your picture.

Objective: Student will be able to identify several different career fields in regard to animals.

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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