Thursday, April 26, 2012

Moby Wrap

Meg received this lovely moss green cloth sling device as a baby gift from her Aunt Cecilia. This clever invention is called a Moby Wrap. The baby can be carried in any one of a multitude of ways by changing the way the very long piece of strong stretchy fabric is wrapped around the upper body of the person carrying the baby and by the way the baby is positioned inside it.
We went for a walk in the woods and this Wrap was perfect for hands-free, safe transport of this fine little lady as we hiked.
A stroller would never do in the woods and it can be tiresome to carry a 15 pound baby for a distance. Precious  loved the contact with her mother and never fussed at all on our walk. Her weight is well distributed  through the wide straps across Meg's shoulders which criss-cross in back.
Of course, the rest of us had to walk. A bottle of kool-aid provided some refreshment.
The boys ran on ahead and created a "still life" frescoe by holding this pose until we got there.
 We really like to walk and talk along the wooded trails and this Moby Wrap makes that easy to do even with a baby.
Sam offered to carry Precious as we got closer to home but it wasn't because she got too heavy for her Mom! He just wanted to hold her. He is getting bigger and stronger every day and knows that his strength can be an asset to the rest of us. It would be too much trouble to "Wrap" him up in the tall grass, but even men can wear the Moby Wrap as this baby's Dad has done!

Family Birthday Celebration

My nephew, Christopher, really enjoys a get-together! He celebrated his birthday in style by inviting almost all of his cousins and their families for a Sunday afternoon of feasting and visiting.
As I have mentioned, we have been spending time on Sundays trying to slow down long enough to  visit and connect with the people we love. This was an ideal occasion to do just that and four of my parents' children and their families gathered to attend this party.
Cecilia served a delicious lunch of ham or turkey and cheese on good rolls with pasta salad. All of the paper cups were labeled using a marker with the name of the person it belonged to. One cup per customer will suffice with this practical and economical system.
Most of the men joined us  and we had some great discussions as well as some light-hearted chit chat.
The cousins enjoyed each others' company. As they get older, their schedules become busier. They aren't always available to visit with each other when the adults can get together.

It was terrific to be able to spread out and be comfortable on this new Amish crafted dinner table made of sturdy and beautiful oak.

I think we could create a whole album of pictures of Kimberly holding the current baby! The latest baby, dressed for spring, is Cadie!
The view from our cousins' front window is spectacular.
As we enjoyed the amazing ice cream birthday cake, some of realized that history was being made!!!!! This was one of the best desserts that we had eaten in ages..... In fact, the verdict came in- this cake is BETTER than our family favorite, Fat Man's Delight!!!!!!!
Kimberly's Homemade Ice Cream Cake. She actually made it up, perhaps as she went along, and shared her recipe. I can't wait to try to make this...!

1 package of Oreo cookies crushed and patted flat across the bottom of an 9x13 pan.
1/3 cup of melted butter and some sugar poured over the crushed layer of Oreos.
Almost all of a large bucket of Cookies and Cream ice cream scooped over top of the cookie layer and pressed down flat.
A layer of Heath mix which is packaged crushed toffee as shown above.
A layer of crushed 'Nilla Wafers
A jar of Hot Fudge sauce and also a jar of Caramel sauce poured over the "Nilla Wafer Layer.
Whipped Topping over all.
Put the cake in the freezer and remove to soften a little before serving.

With these rich and delicious ingredients, no wonder this is so tasty!!!!

God Bless you on your Birthday, Christopher. May this year be very happy and healthy for you and your family. Thank you for having us all to your wonderful party! We had a blast!

Bye Bye Birdie

My friend Allison and I recently took our daughters, who are best friends, to a High School production of "Bye Bye Birdie." I've heard of this play but had no idea what it was about. The action is set in the 50's and Birdie is a teen heartthrob very much like Elvis. Birdie is leaving the States to join the Army  (hence the Bye Bye) and a contest ensues to award his last good-bye kiss to a young fan. Kind of a strange plot, really. The conflict in this play is between Birdie's manager and that fellow's long-suffering secretary who has been waiting on a proposal from him for eight years and who is fed up with his obliviousness(?).

 What I enjoyed about this play the most was first, the company and secondly, the amazing dancing by the female lead, a high school senior and a beauty who played Rosie, the Spanish Rose. Her talent was  remarkable in both singing and dancing. She stole the show and it was a privilege to watch her perform. It was easy to see that this young lady will go far! Allison and I were both surprised to find out that the song  "Put On A Happy Face" comes from this musical.

I wanted to capture this image before  both of these friends' teeth grow in! It is our hope that we can laugh about this someday when these girls are grown, to see both of them missing their two front teeth at the same time! Girls, we love your happy faces!

Spring Reading

I recently had the pleasure of reading Sanditon  (which I have finally figured out is pronounced San- DEE-ton). This book is most interesting because the first eleven chapters were written by Jane Austen and were left as an unfinished manuscript at the time of her death. From what I gathered by researching on the Internet just how to pronounce this title ( I kept calling it SAND- i-ton and it sounded ridiculous), there are quite a few people who have used the original manuscript and then finished it as they saw fit. I thoroughly enjoyed this story about a group of young single folks of marriageable age who are staying at a seaside resort in England owned by a family which most of them are acquainted with.  There are innocent flirtations and  misunderstandings  written in beautiful dialogue. The characters, who were almost all introduced in the original Austen work, really came to life! I would like to find this book finished by another author to compare it with this wonderful version.
I purchased and read this book Christopher A Novel by David Athey which is about a young guy who meets three different young women as he goes through Middle, High School and beyond who all happen to be practicing Catholics. It describes the influences their consecutive friendships have upon him as he becomes a man. His own parents are ex-Hippies and it is so funny to see how the author treats their ideas as so dated and passe' because I remember when Hippies were up to the minute- but that was at least 40 years ago! The first girl he meets has a grandfather who lives with her family who is a scholar and has an extensive library that Christopher borrows books from. The second girl is a musician who sings "praise music";  the main character is also a guitarist. The third girl is kind of a punk rocker. with modern ideas. This was an entertaining read about this young man's search for a meaningful spirituality and he eventually realizes that he is in love and proposes to one of these young women.
Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut is written by Rebecca Bratten Weiss and co- authored  by someone that I have read a great many books by, Regina Doman . This story is about two subjects that I know NOTHING about, St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica and the world of fashionable clothing! A former fashion writer from NYC becomes a Catholic and enrolls in  Graduate School at Dominican University of Houston (I don't know if this is a real or mythical school!). She takes a high level seminar on The Summa with seven guys and a fantastic professor. The book talks a lot about the "arguments" or points that she and her philosophy classmates discuss and study. It is also very funny because she talks about the guys in class and what they are like as well as a few close girl friends that she meets on campus. She LOVES clothes and changes at least twice a day. These outfits, including shoes, are described in detail. Even the men are very well dressed in tailored clothing from many name brands and designers, most of which I have never heard of!  In this case I had no idea how completely ignorant I was about these topics so it was something new to be exposed to.
The last book I read is Ginny's Gems  10 Essentials for Teaching Your Preschooler at Home written by Ginny Seuffert. I have heard Ginny speak at countless homeschooling conferences and she is HILARIOUS to listen to. She discusses  old-school child-rearing methods with absolute common sense. She stated that if a mother knows her colors and shapes, she can teach her 3-5 year old  everything they need to know without sending them out to a fancy preschool. One idea that I gleaned from this was that the best way to enlarge a child's vocabulary is to break things down into parts when you talk about them. A tree has roots and branches, leaves, twigs, bark etc... A car has wheels, tires, a windshield, a hood, engine and trunk. This made sense to me but I had never thought of it before!
One of our Read- Alouds this spring was Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater, illustrated by Michael Emberley. This book was written in 1938 and is a Newberry Honor Book. It has recently been republished because of the movie based on it that came out in the last year or so. We have never seen the movie but the book was terrific. It was about an under- employed house painter who is obsessed with Arctic expeditions and is sent at first one penguin and then a companion for it. Before you know it,  the penguin couple hatches ten eggs and a touring performing act is born! The kids really enjoyed this classic.
Our next Read-Aloud was Twenty and Ten written by Claire Huchet Bishop and illustrated by William Pene DuBois. I have owned this book for many years but had never read it. I've seen it on a few "suggested" reading lists for kids and thought we would try it. It is very short, only 76 pages. This story takes place during the Nazi invasion of France at a boarding school for twenty children run by only one nun. One day, ten Jewish children who are hiding from the Nazi's arrive through the woods . The children and their teacher take them in and share their meager food resources with them.The kids happen to discover an underground shallow cave on the school property and this comes in handy for the refugees to hide in while the Nazi's search the school. All ends well for the generous and discreet children as no one divulges the Jewish children's presence even under heavy questioning.
Today we finished Gone-Away Lake written by Elizabeth Enright. It was fantastic! This was also a Newberry Honor Book which means that it was in the running for "Best Children's Book of the Year" when it was published. I read this book to myself a couple of years ago and I enjoyed it just as much the second time while reading it to the kids. It is an adventure story  about a couple of cousins who discover during their summer vacation a nearby forgotten town that once bordered a lake which is now just a swamp. Best of all, an elderly brother and sister still live there and are delighted to meet the children who come every day to visit them. The senior citizens are very spry and resourceful and live in a very old fashioned way still wearing the outdated clothing that they owned from long ago and basically live completely " off the grid" as one would say these days. The children bring back many memories for them as they discover the old places that the seniors played in when they were children. This book is well written and was great fun to share.
Sam has been reading a long way gone written by an African man, Ishmael Beah, who describes in detail the civil wars in his country and how the brutal killers who decimated his own and countless other innocent villages turned him and his friends into "child soldiers"  who then killed many other people. He escaped from this lifestyle and has been in the United States rehabilitating. He is an excellent writer and the prose is very well expressed. Sam was having trouble keeping up with this story even though he reads very well out loud until he checked the audio version out of the school library. He now puts the CD on and reads along with it while following in the book. It seems to pace him and keep him going. I think he was getting distracted and off track while reading to himself. He has to wear earphones because this has some violent sections and I don't want the younger kids to hear it. I have read about seven chapters so far and it is so scary to think that this could happen here.
John thoroughly enjoyed The Mysterious Benedict Society written by Trenton Lee Stewart. I read this book about two years ago and laughed throughout it because it is so clever and funny. I knew that John would love it and it pleased me that indeed, he did ! To paraphrase the book cover, this story is about four very intelligent children who volunteer to go out on a special mission that challenges their resourcefulness and ability to work together, each one using  his own specific skills. This book allows the reader to also be clever in figuring out the clues and riddles!  There are two more books in this series about the same group of kids that John will be borrowing from his cousin Luke who owns them! Good literature for young people is wonderfully entertaining and it is one of my favorite genres.
Miss J. has been on a Horsey book kick reading Mustang in the Midst by Ben M. Baglio and Summer Horse by Bonnie Bryant of the Saddle Club series. She likes to read in the evenings in her bed and is allowed to do so until she gets tired and then turns her light out and goes to sleep.

That is a synopsis of the books we have been reading this Spring. I know that you might be thinking, "It must be nice to have time to read..."
To which I respond,  "It is!!!"

Spray Tan

Natalie had the opportunity to get a FREE spray tan from a new employee at the tanning shop. The time was set for her appointment at 10:30pm on a school night!
Tori promised to drive her there and back and it took no time for this gal to get very dark! Unfortunately, this tan will last only for a week. It did look great though, and made the rest of us wonder just how much the regular price is and if it might be worth looking into!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

R.I.P. Duchess

Our cat, Duchess, passed away on Monday night with Tori and Brandon at her side. She had been ill,  getting increasingly thinner for months. We think she was almost 14 years old and had been ours for 13 years. She was an outdoor cat and had a wonderful life, free to roam around all day. Tori brought her into the garage every night to sleep in safety. She had used up a few of her "nine lives" over the years. Once, we think she was attacked by an owl but escaped with many deep wounds that healed over time. She also disappeared for two weeks while we were on vacation years ago and we thought she was gone for good. It was a great surprise when she came back to us, much thinner.

Duchess has been our longest lasting pet. She was skittish for a long time after we got her from a friend's barn, but she became calmer and sweeter throughout each passing year. We buried her on our property in our pet cemetery and planted our beautiful Easter lily there with her, to bloom again each year. Duchess will be missed, especially the way she would paw at the back door to be let in because she wanted to be carried through the house to the garage even when the garage door was already open! I commend Tori for the excellent way she took care of Duchess and all of our pets and am sorry for her loss.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter!

From our family to yours Happy Easter! 

To The Park!

The arrival of Spring Break allowed us to plan for a much overdo field trip for all the cousins!!!
The weather was ideal for spring, sunny and fresh. We wore sweaters in the morning but shed them later on.
We couldn't have picked a better destination to meet at. The natural beauty of this free attraction and the amount of wide open space that we could still supervise easily made a great back drop for outdoor fun for these cousins and our good friends to play in.
For four hours this whirli-gig ( I don't know what to call it!) went around with our kids on it.! That night, in addition to being sunburned, all of our kids had vertigo when lying in bed!
The Moms had an equally wonderful time with plenty of chatting and laughing. A picnic lunch was delicious eaten outside on this glorious spring day. Thank you, Lord  for good fellowship, sunshine and exercise in your beautiful creation!

Christening Day

We spent a delightful Sunday witnessing and celebrating the Baptism of Henry. By the time this picture was taken, the little guy had slipped into something more comfortable but he wore a white suit for his Christening at church.
Family and friends had a wonderful time at the reception held at the home of Henry's maternal grandparents. The food was terrific and the company was so pleasant. There was much time to relax and chat with each other!

We had such a nice time visiting with our young friends and family members who are adults now and living the abundant life!
I got a real kick out the fact that there were five young women present who are all in their early to mid twenties and who are already happily married!
Cindi's folks have a terrific fishing pond which provided some outdoor fun to the men and kids.

They were really catching fish, too!

Everyone enjoyed this wonderful day celebrating the entrance of this precious baby that we all love into the Christian faith.