Thursday, October 30, 2008

George Washington Concurs

with my last post. Here's what he said in his farewell address to the nation:

31 Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices ?
I didn't go looking for that. We read it in The Children's Book of Virtues for our history lesson this a.m.!

Read the full text here.

Get Fired Up

Like this guy. He rocks.

Economic issues aside, our country will never again be the great place our Founding Fathers created if we don't return to the standards of morality that used to be a common bond between the parties.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What I'm Working on Wednesday

Do you think this should be a feature???


My Muse wants me to do a post on projects I'm working on. I have projects coming out my ears these days.

I'm working on making as many of our Christmas presents as possible. I just love the idea of a handcrafted Christmas! I have added incentive because of the general (and personal) financial climate.

I love, love, love Christmas. I always have. I love it even more now that I'm Catholic and I have the season of Advent to help me prepare my heart and my home for it. I love celebrating for 12 days, not just one. I love knowing that Santa Claus was a real, live person. I love buying presents for people. I love looking for something they will truly enjoy and appreciate.
What I don't love is having a budget. Feeling like I have to spend a certain amount on a person for the gift to be acceptable. I don't love having a list to follow, because really, most of the people I buy for are well off and can buy themselves whatever they want. If they can't afford it, neither can I. I want to get them something special that they'll enjoy, but didn't know they wanted! I feel that a gift from a store rarely shows the thought and love put into buying it. At least for me, there is a LOT of stress involved in buying that perfect gift. Just about the only exceptions to this are those things that you know the person would never buy for themselves because of the luxury, and joint gifts where everyone gets together to get something really perfect that no one family could afford.

Do I sound like Scrooge? I certainly don't mean to, because, as I said, I love Christmas! I just want to be able to focus on the Reason for the Season rather than the stress and financial worries. And I don't want anyone to think that I'm unappreciative of their gifts to me---what I'm saying applies only to my personal gift-giving.

So I'm trying to make, with the assistance of the children (the younger 3 who are with me all the time!), gifts for our families. I'd like them to make gifts for each other, too. I'll make as many as I have time for and buy the rest. Anyone family members out there reading this blog can reciprocate in kind. Make our gifts as simple as you would like!

Now all that is just the introduction to what I'm actually working on. If any family members are still reading and haven't left in a huff, you might want to stop if you don't want any Christmas spoilers. I'll be general, not specific, so you'll get hints if you keep reading.


I've been knitting! And knitting, and knitting. So far, it's really just 2 projects, but one of them contains a celtic knot, which is the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm half finished and it looks great. I found a spot where I had purled several rows that were supposed to be knit, and I was able to drop those stitches and pick them up again with a crochet hook instead of un-knitting three rows of complicated cables. I'm very proud of myself for being able to do that because, believe me, if cabling is hard, un-cabling is so much worse. If you squint, maybe you can see the cable in the picture!

During our studies of Colonial times we've been doing projects that they would have done. Naturally, I decided to incorporate our stenciling craft into our gift giving. Teaching children to stencil is easy. Teaching them to do it with the proper technique and patience is hard!
We're also working on some papier maché. This is a project that I've wanted to do for years. So far, one attempt has failed, but the other shows promise and we'll get back to it soon. I hope next week.

This is where my children have to really STOP READING!!!

I have a couple of sewing projects planned, but I can't elaborate because the children won't stop reading!

Now they won't even leave the room, so that must be my cue to stop blogging. lol. Until next time....

Scuppernong FAIL

We joined a local CSA this fall. What's a CSA, you ask? Confederate States of America. Well, that, and Community Supported Agriculture. Every other week we get a bag o' goodies from the participating farmers. It's a new adventure every week because there are foods in there are we have never used before and we need to use them up somehow before they go bad.

One surprise was the joy of Scuppernongs, the lighter-skinned cousin of Muscadine grapes. They're big grapes with thick, bitter skins and seeds. Evidently, the best way to eat these is to bite a hole in the skin, pop the guts into your mouth and spit out the seeds. Very entertaining. And surprisingly, not the favorite activity of my children, even my little boys!

After saving them up for several weeks, I thought we might have enough for some jam. At least one jar of refrigerator jam. They have a wonderful flavor that I thought would be enhanced by homemade biscuits and butter.
Sadly, after all our cooking and straining, the "snot in the pot" as it was aptly named, did not jell, so we had a jelly-jar full of grape juice. Not to let it go to waste, we made Colonial beverages for our history lesson---Syllabub. Those were very rich and did not go over well, either.

Does anyone have any tips on what to do with my new batch of Scuppernongs????


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Shirts!

We got new shirts, printed by Nielsen Design Studios, to show our support for Hitch and Madden at the football games. It's late in the season, and #58 will be retiring after 3 more games, but he says he'll take it when the season is over. I'm not a t-shirt wearer for the most part, but I'll make an exception for my boys---I'm so proud of them! They work really hard for their team and are very dedicated.

Plus, the printing on these is awesome! Check out Jeff's work.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Weekend Update and Monday Movie Reviews

I guess a Weekend Update is actually supposed to be on the weekend, but whatever. It was kind of a busy weekend considering half the family was gone.

Friday was kind of hectic with an early visit to the chiropractor, and then we got practically no schoolwork done as we had to leave early for co-op where TMax got to dissect a shark and the Pipster got to look at one already dissected. We left early to go to the one daytime football game of Hitch and Madden. It was cold and raining! And they were having a tough time out there on the field.

TMax had to go back to St. Ben's to go camping with his Boy Scout Troop, so we left w/ the Little Princess at Half-time. Pipster stayed with Dad for the second half because they were doing their own Cub Scout camping. Master of the World noted that the 3 times we've been camping this year, it has rained. Obviously, our family doesn't camp enough, because if we went camping more often this extremely severe drought would end!

TMax, LP, and I stopped for fun dinner items (egg rolls!) and movies for the night. We ended up having a little picnic on the floor and watching The Shaggy Dog. Mercifully, we didn't have to drive down to The School to pick up the football players because another mom---Who Is A Saint---had half the football team sleep over at her house!

Movie Review: We enjoyed The Shaggy Dog w/ Tim Allen. It was funny and I don't recall anything that offended me. It was interesting that it was about animal research that involved mixing animal DNA and the results of that. Even though the animals were freaky, like the bulldog/frog or the snake w/ a dog's tail, they were characterized as friendly, not evil. But it was clear that this type of experimentation was wrong.

After The Shaggy Dog, LP and I watched Crusoe on TV. I really enjoy that show; this was the second episode. It's kind of fun and Indiana Jones-ish. Since we watched Crusoe, I didn't watch the movie I had gotten for myself which was The Ultimate Gift. It was rated PG, so we decided to watch it together Saturday morning.
Movie Review: The Ultimate Gift is the story of a young man estranged from his very wealthy grandfather who dies at the beginning of the movie. The whole family is a mess of greedy people who care about nothing but money. Grandpa's money, at that. Jason is the same way, a self-centered rich kid who does nothing but party all the time. His inheritance is a series of questionable "gifts" that turn his life upside down. His grandfather obviously regretted their estrangement and thought that this was a way to change the path his grandson was on, and to keep him from turning out like the rest of the family. I thought it was wonderful and well-done. I've seen some Christian movies that were too preachy and obvious with dialog that was completely unrealistic. It was a little over Princess's head, but I think it's a great family movie, especially for ages 8 & up.

So, the rest of Saturday involved ho-hum exercise, picking up football players, grocery shopping, housecleaning. Then we all went to Mass together because I was scheduled to cantor. Later, Little Princess went to a halloween party at a neighbor's house and Hitch and I watched a movie.
Movie Review: He talked me into renting There Will Be Blood which is rated R, but he said it was really given a PG-13 rating by the MPAA and the director sent it back asking for an R. Most directors would have put in some R-rated material to help it along, but this one didn't. There was remarkably little blood until the very end and you didn't even see the act. It was sort of old-fashioned movie violence where you see the perpetrator and you know exactly what he's doing, but you don't see the contact. Psycho-creepy. The score, which Hitch loved, added a lot of tension to the film. To me, it seemed to be disjointed; it implied dreadful things were coming, but they didn't usually come to pass. What's it about, you ask? Daniel Day Lewis plays an oil man around the turn of the century (aside: can you say that anymore? Which century? It was the early 1900's). It's all about his quest for oil and success. I'm not sure he cared about the money, just the success. Hitch loved it, and it was very well-made: great cinematography, acting, score(?). I just didn't get the point, but that's just me. I like my movies to be entertaining (Shaggy Dog) or virtuous (The Ultimate Gift), not just stressful. I was not satisfied with the ending. Brainier types, like Hitch, might be.

Sunday was spent at Mass again because the choir sang. The other boys came home and I spent the beautiful day doing their laundry.

What did you watch this weekend???


Stay tuned for tomorrow's (I hope!) post on projects I'm working on.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

6 Random Facts

Tagged by my cake-baking friend Shannon for this game---which was very timely as I logged on this a.m. and wondered, "What pearls of wisdom shall I impart to the blog-readers of the world today?" Without further ado----

6 Random Facts about ME:

1. DH and I watch a lot of movies. We always have. There were a few years BC (before children) where we could call all the Academy Award winners. But I can't remember lines from movies, especially on command. Hear that, Kath and Shelly?

2. I stole my mom's pantyhose to wear to school in the second grade. 2nd grade! Even though I looked like the saggy, baggy elephant, I felt very grown up. Back then, pantyhose didn't have the "memory yarn" they do now!

3. I saw Kansas in concert twice. Once in 8th grade with my pothead boyfriend, and once in 10th grade as the blind date of a midshipman at the Naval Academy. What was my mother thinking? (Probably that I was a good girl, and she could trust me. And I was. Really.)

4. I worked at a movie theater during high school and my co-workers gave me a case of Heath bars for my 18th birthday. Yummy!

5. Two of my 6 babies were born in a bathroom----one at home and one in the hospital. And, NO, they didn't fall into the toilet. That's what the kids always want to know.

6. On that same theme---3 were born at home and 3 in hospitals. On purpose.

I'm not going to tag anyone, but I fully expect all of you lurkers and non-lurkers to play along because this is an easy one! Just leave me a comment and let me know you're playing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Hair Horrors

Kathleen made me laugh with her hair story. I don't have a scanner, thank goodness, so I can't post a picture of myself with my glasses and bad hair. But she did remind me of my worst haircut ever. This last one was just a bump in the road, but my first real attempt at style in 7th grade was the worst.

I remember my mom took us to the hairdresser's right next to the Giant in Leesburg, VA. My sister and I both got our hair done. Now, Sis has gorgeous red (well, back then it was RED, but now it has darkened to a beautiful auburn), naturally curly hair. Hair that does whatever you want it to. Hair that stays wherever you put it. Hair that the rest of us hate!

My hair was a boring shade of brown, silky, smooth, and straight. S-T-R-A-I-G-H-T.
"Straight as a stick," Mom always said. When I left the hairdresser that day, it was beautifully coiffed into feathers and curls and I was ecstatic. I had never been so gorgeous! Then came the next day.

I don't know what magic she had used on my head, but it was gone. Gone! I tell you! She had cut my hair into strange chunks, which I honestly don't think were legitimate hairstyling techniques. And without her product magic and magic styling wand, my hair just hung in those strange chunks. We curled my hair half to death, but the slightest touch would make those delicate curls invert and hang. Straight down. While Sis had those perfect sausage curls around her face.

I don't know how I survived the horrors of middle school. The worst years of my life. And the hair didn't help. I was soooo happy when feathers stopped being in style.

Now that I've matured, a little, I've learned to work with my hair's naturally tendency to be straight. I've given up fighting the battle for curls, although that's a lot easier now that there are so many products available. It drives my hairdresser nuts! I won't perm it anymore or even color it. I'm just waiting for the gray to come in so I can embrace it. I may get him to PUT some gray in if it doesn't hurry up, but not cover it up! lol! I'm not his favorite customer. Oldest, maybe. But not his favorite. He still charges me his old rate from when he worked at the Hair Cuttery. I won't get anything extra done, and I come in twice for the same haircut!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You asked for it. You got it.

Here are the quick photos we took yesterday before the camera battery died. Don't ask about the sizes. While I could figure this stuff out, given enough time, I have other things to do this a.m.!

I hope you think it's gorgeous ;-), but if you don't you can keep it to yourself. My ego is fragile enough.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How to get a Gorgeous New Haircut, part deux

Read Part 1 here, or just scroll down!

8. Find a new hairdresser who will listen to everything you say, not just the parts he agrees with, and who will give you a haircut that is slightly less boring and unstylish than this one.

8. Call back your cranky faithful hairdresser and cry explain that you must not have made yourself clear and ask if he could please try to fix his mistake the back of your hair.

9. Show him the pictures AGAIN.

10. Let him cut your hair while your 6 yo troublemaker darling daughter begs you to show him how you can whistle like a teakettle.

11. Refuse to whistle for him despite the free re-cut.

12. Leave with a newly gorgeous haircut.


Shannon thinks we should all tell our hair horror stories. So I'm tagging:

Shannon, because it was her idea and I'm sure she has a story to tell!
Kalynne, because she has horror stories about everything!
BigMama, because she's the expert on all things fashionable and I'm sure some disasters lurk in her hair history.
Kathleen, because I've seen her hair lots of different ways and she tells a great story.
and Rachel, because she must have had something besides a chin-length bob at some point that made her swear off change. ;-) Not that she doesn't look great in her bob!

You get bonus points for photos.

How to Get a Gorgeous New Haircut

1. Make an appointment with a slightly grumpy, ex-New Yorker, Italian hairdresser (that you've been going to for years).

2. Take a few minutes to peruse the Short Hairstyles mag on the table while he finishes up with the previous customer.

3. Find, not one, but 3 pictures of similar haircuts with side and back views so he'll know exactly how you want it to look.

4. Let him cut your hair.

5. Chat about his stock market investments.

6. Thank him and pay him (handsomely, I might add) for his services.

7. Go home and take a good look at your stylish new do, especially the back.

8. Find a new hairdresser who will listen to everything you say, not just the parts he agrees with, and who will give you a haircut that is slightly less boring and unstylish than this one.

No, you don't get a picture.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I was an English major. What did you expect?

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test ...

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 87% Expert!

You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Thank you so much for taking my test. I hope you enjoyed it!

For the complete Answer Key, visit my blog:

Well, maybe I should have gotten a slightly better grade on the Expert part. I think it was the it's and its that confused me, though I normally know the difference!

Aha, I just checked the answer key and I got that one right! The one I got wrong in the Expert section was actually an "all of the above"---so I was right there, too.

I'm a super-Genius. ;-) Maybe tomorrow I'll find out if I'm a Dork, a Nerd, or a Geek.

Oh, and I saw this at my buddy Shelly's blog.

Friday Funday

Fridge leaks! Fun! We've been hearing a funny noise from the fridge all week (?!) and the Master of the World had some quiet time at 6 a.m. to check it out. Yep, the hose to the icemaker had sprung a leak (how long ago????). There was a huge puddle under the fridge and a very large expanse of wet ceiling in the basement. Some wet carpeting, too, where it had actually been dripping. Nice.

Fixing my aching neck! Fun! Starting the day (after the leak, that is) with a trip to the chiropractor to fix my neck that I injured (sleeping!) on Monday night. I made an emergency trip to see him Tuesday because I couldn't turn my head. Got to go back first thing after blogging to get him to finish the job. It was so bad he couldn't get it all in one visit.

Finding time for Friday Funday between blowdrying the carpet and drywall. Fun! I'd like to squeeze in some schoolwork, but I'm pretty sure we'll be dealing with the wetness in the basement before co-op.

Finding my voice! Fun! The Little Princess came down with a bad cold on Saturday and it's working it's way through the family. I can hardly talk now. I feel much better after 2 good nights sleep (thank you, Nyquil), and 2 naps yesterday, but no voice. The kids are happy about that, though. We haven't gotten a ton of work done this week.

Friday Co-op! Fun! Well, maybe a little. I'm not teaching. Praise the Lord! And the kids get to go to the mobile lab today, so it might actually be Fun!

Football game! Fun! Home football game tonight and I don't have to work the concession stand! That should actually be fun, too.

So, it looks like the day is going to get progressively better, despite the fun start. And I keep reminding myself that I'm not recovering from having a huge tumor removed from my brain, like one of my dear friends. I'm not facing my mortality and the fear of leaving my family. I'm reminding myself to offer up these minor annoyances for someone who is having way less fun than I am and she's doing it with incredible grace, faith, and joy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sixth Folder, Sixth Picture

Fawndear tagged me for this game which I'm thankful for because I was searching my brain for something to blog about!

Here are the instructions:
Go to the 6th folder of your photos and go to the 6th picture. Then post it.

Doesn't sound too scary, does it? But you never know what you might find. Honestly, I was afraid it would be the folder with my sweet mother at the funeral home. Thank heavens it was a pretty boring picture:

Fawndear said she had no recollection of taking her photo and challenged her "tagees" to see if they remembered. I have it easy. The folder this one came from is labeled "Birthdays '08". And only one of my children, that I know of, turned twelve in '08. That would be TMax. Logically, I must conclude that it is his birthday cake.

Whew! That was scary! Now, I tag:

Maybe they'll have something more exciting to show us!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Month of Nothing Wrap-Up

I would have gotten this out a few days ago, but our brand-new modem blew up for some reason and we've been living without internet for the past few days. It's like the end-times here: no gas at the pumps and no internet. Just hunkered down in our cave doing things like reading, jumping rope, and playing with tangrams.

But AT&T miraculously came through again and overnighted a new modem to us AND there is gas again! Not everywhere, but the places that have gas don't have huge lines anymore. Maybe Atlantans have taken the hint and finally stopped driving, or maybe the shortage is just easing up slowly. So we can go on our field trip today to Mayfield Dairy and pick up KT who is coming to the homecoming football game tonight.

Anyway...A month of nothing wasn't soooo bad. And since we started late, it was only 21 days.

We managed to come in right on budget in the grocery area. That's not only another near-miracle, but a savings of $100 or more, since we normally go way over. It was not only a monetary savings, but a time savings as well since I stopped shopping all the time and we just did without when something ran out. The kids actually survived for a few days without milk! Most of the over-budget stuff is just from over-shopping and "stocking up". All the time. The kids open the fridge or the pantry now and say there is no food because they can see the shelves. Well, there was no food before, just more of it! Maybe I don't really need a giant sub-zero fridge.

At the end of September I made the decision to go with the cash/envelope system for groceries. It's too easy for little trips to the store to crop up and eat away at the funds. This month I budgeted $400 for Costco and divided up the rest of the funds evenly----only I subtracted $200 from the overall food budget. Yes, I'm looking to trim another $200 from the budget. It actually wasn't hard to stay under $150 per week as long as I planned my menus and kept track as I was shopping.

That $200 per month will come in handy since Hitch desperately wants to go to Rome with the senior class in May and he wasn't able to get a summer job to pay for it. So if we can save this money it will cover a good chunk of his trip, but he needs to get a seasonal job to cover the rest of it. Maybe we can shave some more out of the budget, but that probably won't be until after Christmas.

It was great to go into Target for the occasional necessity this month and get out for under $12! Like others, I kept thinking that I was just building up a huge list of stuff to purchase at the beginning of October. To some degree that's true. But I'm also thinking of ways to do things on a simpler level, do without, or just be more creative.

One of the kids pointed out that while the country is having a financial crisis, we're not, and we don't have to go without stuff forever. Well, the only reason we're not having as serious a financial crisis as the U.S. is because we've tried to be sensible all these years. Ever since KT was 3 months old and it came time to start paying back my student loans, we have kept a budget. Not just a budget, but actually writing down everything we spend. 19 years of keeping track. Not always staying in bounds, especially these past few years with private school and college costs, but staying out of debt. And, yes, we actually have retirement accounts! And we had enough sense not to buy more house than we could afford for no money down even though we have desperately wanted to be closer to The School and dh's office.

I'm learning to be more thankful for my blessings and let the other stuff go. When I see the devastation around me----friends who are struggling with diseases and terminal illnesses---I'm happy to just hunker down and enjoy my family. I'm happy if my biggest cross to bear is that we can't afford Disney World or another Wii game. We'll have to spend more $$$ than I care to this month on Cub Scouts and American Heritage Girls, but I'm looking forward to another month of (almost) nothing.


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