Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mornin' sun

This is a great song that I have loved for more then thirty years.
Enjoy! Sorry about the primitive video, which is just a picture:)

Expecting A Lot!

We had no idea that we would hear such exciting news as we gathered at Greg and Cindi's for a Pizza Party. Meg had a clue when she saw Jeff pay for the pizza at the door instead of Greg. That led her to believe that maybe an announcement was forthcoming from that couple. Actually, it had leaked out that Greg and Cindi had received a job offer that would take them far away and they wanted to discuss it with us. Larry arrived at the party prepared to talk them out of it! He was very saddened.

That emotion turned to pure joy right after dinner when Jeff surprised us with the news that Chelsea is expecting a baby!
Ever the practical joker, Jeff had arrived with three jars of  "Prego" sauce to use as props for a photo op.
All three of our married adult couples are expecting at the same time! Does this happen often?
All the time in my parents's family! So many of the cousins were born within two weeks to a month of each other and usually an additional child was born during the same year. That makes for built in playmates at family outings.
Prayer to St. Gerard During Pregnancy
St. Gerard, holy intercessor for mothers and babies, please pray for us during this time of our pregnancy.
I feel this blessed life growing within me and am filled with praise for our Wondrous Creator- A God who gives life and then entrusts us to nurture and nourish it. I think about our Blessed Mother, bearer of the very Son of God, and of my own mother who bore me in loving faithfulness. My prayer is that God protects this baby, that we have a safe and healthy pregnancy and delivery, and that this child and all our family grow in living faith until we find our place in God's Communion of Saints in everlasting life.    Amen.

We include their other expectant cousin in this prayer as well. You ladies all should go visit that pretty lady,
to reenact the New Testament  story of  an expectant Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist.
Bring a jar of Prego!
The kids had fun outside.

and in the basement.
Juby is just the right age to fit right in and yet be a big help with the little kids.
 The guys hung out the living room...
While the ladies spent their time swapping pregnancy anecdotes!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Good Reading

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler made for an exciting read aloud as it is the story of two children who run away to live in a museum undetected for a week and who help to determine that Michaelangelo is the sculptor of a special statue there. The reason we chose to read this was because Jeff personally knows the son of the lady who wrote this, Mrs. E.L. Konisburg.  This book is a Newberry Award Winner and this author wrote another book which also won the Newberry Award, thirty years later!
That is remarkable!  When Jeff told me about this fellow ( the son), I was able to tell him that I have had two different editions of this book on my shelves for years. It was entertaining and we enjoyed it.
Our next Read Aloud was The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli. In this story, a youth who becomes crippled has to learn to quit feeling sorry for himself and learn some new skills. He learns to swim, whittle, walk on crutches and eventually saves the castle from attack by going through " A door in the wall", which also describes the opportunities that open up for him as he tries new things to help himself grow up.
 It takes place during the time of the Bubonic Plague and is Historical Fiction.
John has been reading up a storm. He read four stories in the Seekers series about bears and their clans.
He pleased me by reading and enjoying some books I picked out for him from the library when he wasn't with me including City of Orphans by Avi and The Iron Ring by Lloyd Alexander.
Two other books he gobbled up were My Side of the Mountain and Frightful's Mountain, both written by Jean Craighead George.
He also enjoyed this series called Keeper's School , written by Andrew Clements. I really admired the fact that he tried these books that I thought he would like, and did.
I've been reading a lot as well and in fact I love to read with John while sharing the loveseat in the evenings.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was excellent. It was written by Agnes Bronte, the sister of both Charlotte
 ( Jane Eyre) and Emily ( Wuthering Heights). What a family of writers!!!!
I pick out my books from the library from one section called "paperback classics". I tried something different from that section called The Handmaid's Tale written by Margaret Atwood. This was something of a Brave New World or 1984 kind of futuristic commentary on certain women used as breeders only. It wasn't that good, somewhat depressing.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a book that shows the sisterhood of a community of black women in the south a long time ago and how they manage to raise their families despite having husbands who abuse them and won't work.
I mentioned Lucy Gayheart written by Willa Cather in my post on Willow Shade. Lucy is a young woman who leaves home to move to Chicago. She plays the piano as an accompanist for an opera singer who is in his fifties whom she develops a crush on. This novel excellently captures the excitement of city life and the sweet heart of this young lady just starting out on her own. I really enjoyed this. I have loved everything  that I've ever read written by Willa Cather.
Rapunzel Let Down was written by Regina Doman, a lady that I have talked to in person often enough to consider an acquaintance.
 I purchased this book at the conference because I have read five other books she has written and thoroughly enjoyed them all. What a plot!!!!! I stayed up until 4 o'clock in the morning reading this and finished this 500 page in 24 hours. Excellent! I recommend it. Wow, is all I can say. I was on the edge of my seat. It is about young love that goes wrong, but redemption occurs as the characters struggle toward maturity.

Friday, April 4, 2014


Very inconveniently, I forgot my light jacket at the homeschool convention. I had arranged to pick it up a few days later and took the opportunity to walk around this idyllic West Virginia town which I have always wanted to explore because it is so quaint. I couldn't get the right angle on this picture to show how cute this town is with its very old buildings.
Juby and I had a wonderful breakfast at a restaurant called "Betty's Kitchen". This was clearly family owned and appeared to have had a long tradition of serving breakfast in this college town.
The food was delicious, the prices reasonable and the place was decorated in such a whimsical way.
Our waitress turned on the train which went around and around the track at the top of the walls while we enjoyed our meal.
Before leaving town, we admired Shepherd College which my nephew attended.

Eastern Panhandle Regional Homeschool Conference.

Cecilia and I attended a Homeschool Conference which had the theme "Under Construction".
We went to this conference two years ago and had such a good time we were anxious to come back.
I was particularly interested in hearing this lady speak . Joanne Calderwood is the mother of eight children who have been homeschooled all their lives. Two of her children have scored perfect 1600's ( when the top score was 1600) on their SAT tests. Her oldest four children have gone to four year colleges for free. She described herself as an "Underwhelmed Mom" .In other words, she doesn't stress about their education- they do their own work and it is up to them to be successful and to perform at an excellent level, which is expected as the norm in their household.
I did purchase her book and attended two of the sessions in which she was the speaker. She was quite inspiring and fun to listen to. Her daughters had a small presentation as well, describing how they do their daily work. They are allowed to work ahead as fast as they want to but don't move forward until they have achieved mastery on any given level for each subject.
She used a bicycle as a prop to illustrate her method "The Self- Propelled Advantage".
From what I gather at this point, the parent holds onto the bike (a metaphor for schoolwork and life) for as long as needed but then lets go. It is then up the the child to take control and pedal for themselves.
Cecilia and I agreed that some people are born more "driven" than others, but I hope to glean what I can from her book to get out of the way and encourage each child to take control of their own destiny, helping them to help themselves get there. She says that this method is applicable to all kids in whatever setting they are educated.
One of the afternoon sessions was a "Tea Time" discussion. Four rooms were set up as Tea Parties and one could choose ( and switch around) which group discussion to attend based on the topic being discussed. This was a great idea to be able to hear from many different people. The tea was wonderful, as was spending the day with my sister and  dear friend, Cecilia.

St. Patrick"s Day Dinner

We celebrated St. Paddy's Day by gathering at Mom and Dad's for a Corned beef and Cabbage feast.
Tom and I both cooked 10 pounds of corned beef each, with an enormous amount of potatoes, carrots and cabbage. We quit boiling this dinner after last year when it was discovered that roasting it all together is much tastier and easier!
Mom also had lots of terrific meatballs which the kids were thrilled to see! 

Door Prizes added to the fun! Each individual received a numbered ticket as we walked in. A drawing was held after dinner to disburse the "green-themed" prizes from the Dollar Store. Many useful items were awarded to everyone's delight.
In addition to sharing our Irish heritage together, we held a meeting to discuss the Nut Fest- a family reunion to take place in June, God Willing (as Grandma F. would say!!).

Crocheting Away

Juby wanted an afghan and I started this one the day after Christmas.
She picked the colors out for it and I think she hit it just right.
I kept trying to get her to switch to a "Ballet" pink, but she really wanted this dark intense pink.
Everyone loves it!!!! It looks so good with the black and white.
This blanket fits a twin bed. It is the largest one I have made so far. Like all the others, it is in a double- crochet stitch as that is all I know how to do. It took two months to complete.
On this day, I had a wonderful photo-op! Patience, Juby and Gentleman are each wound up in the blanket made just for them. If Handsome had been here, as well as Lindsay's little sweetheart, and Audrey's little lady, we could have pictured their blankets, too.
Spoiler alert: the afghan on the right is my newest project (in Easter colors and almost complete), for Nancy's baby, Cupcake.

Gone Fishing

Lately, Jon has spent many days going fishing. At least two or three times a week he fishes!
The best part about that is he takes other folks along to enjoy the fun. Gentleman goes every time and he took the boys along twice. Meg and Patience often go as well as they scope out many different fishing holes in the area.
He even taught the guys how to cook the fish.
Frying with the bones left in,
and fresh lemon juice all make it good.
We all tried a bite of these absolutely fresh fish and they were delicious!
What a great hobby!

I once read about these two journal entries after a man took his son fishing.
"Took my son fishing, a day wasted."
"Went fishing with my Dad, best day ever."

Keep up the good work, Dad!
We are very proud of you!

Willow Shade

I just finished Willa Cather's Sapphira and the Slave Girl and recognized every place referenced in the book. This book takes place in the exact location of a favorite breakfast restaurant my extended family enjoys. Many local places were mentioned by name in the book including the Episcopal church which still is thriving. The reason is, that the author, Willa Cather grew up very nearby.
This is Willow Shade, her childhood home, which is almost 250 years old and is privately owned.

I really enjoy the novels of Willa Cather. I have read quite a few including My Antonia, O' Pioneers, Shadows on the Rock, Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, Lucy Gayheart and the book mentioned above. I highly recommend her as each book is uniquely different. She has a strong sense of "place" in her novels; her geographic settings play a significant role in the stories. That is why it was so meaningful to read about and actually see the house in which she grew up.