Friday, August 28, 2009

Is it Friday Already?


Week 2 of school has been going well, but it's getting harder to wake up in the morning and get started. We're figuring out some of the nuances (i.e. irritations) of the Homeschool Skedtracker. It's working for us though, and we're getting our work done, too.


Last night's training meeting for American Heritage Girls had to be cancelled at the last minute, which turned out to be Providential because not long after that I got a call from Hitch that he had the flu. He went to the Student Health Center because he needed a doctor's excuse for missing work and classes. They confirmed that he has "flu-like symptoms" and since he lives nearby (an hour and a half away) could he please go home to recuperate.

So I spent the bulk of rush hour yesterday driving to Athens to pick him up, see KT for a few minutes which turned into a round-about trip to Burger King for dinner for both of them, return his due DVD to the U. library, and finally head home with my very sick college freshman.

I'm happy to see him, but I don't want his little friend to come and stay.


"Land Ho!" cried Christopher Columbus.

(Pip has been reading about explorers this week.)


The Little Princess and I are making a Madeline lapbook thanks to Jessica's inspiration. We love lapbooks and (shhhh, don't tell her) but it keeps her from escaping downstairs to watch the Disney channel while the boys and I are still working on school!


From outside I'm hearing the sound of very. heavy. rain. I'm starting to worry about my roof since its old, and most of the neighbors have had theirs replaced due to hail damage. ugh. Trying not to think about it.


I picked a bunch of green tomatoes from my garden yesterday since the vines are dying. I had planned to make fried green tomatoes last night, but, ahem, see #2. I'll make them tonight, Good Lord willing. It's time to plant our fall gardens over at the community garden. I'm hoping to have spinach and kale and brussels sprouts!


Exciting changes are coming in the Mass! As one of my friends explained very succinctly in an email this morning, the rest of the world got good translations 40 years ago from the Latin, while the English version that we're used to is a mistranslation. The new translations should be available soon, and God willing, put into place in our parishes.

The other exciting thing is that I got to go to a Church music symposium last weekend with our music director. We went to a workshop on Gregorian chant with Jeffrey Tucker (who you can find at the New Liturgical Movement) which was wonderful. The Mass that opened the symposium was incredible---such a beautiful example of how reverent and uplifting the music can be at Mass. And glory be, we're going to be trying out some of what we learned at our parish!! Not at every Mass (yet), but it's a start. I'm excited!

Have a great, rainy day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Homeschooling: A Family Activity

Over at Jen's today she has a little (ha!) discussion going about homeschooling and the reasons/concerns people give her about why they "could never do that!" The concerns are very common; I've heard them too. As usual, you will find excellent answers to those problems in the comments.

Another excellent post to read is Mrs. G's guest post over at Pioneer Woman's ranch.

To distill it all down to a couple of sentences -----

1. You have to really want to homeschool. Whether you believe it's what God wants you to do, or you have your own reasons for taking your children out of school, that has to trump all those excuses and fears for not doing it.

2. As one of Jen's commenters said, it's a lot like parenting. You have to work it out for your family. If you're going to homeschool, you'll find a way to solve those discipline problems. (Believe me, you will; homeschooling magnifies those issues.) You'll find a way to afford it. You'll find a way to educate those high schoolers, whether through co-ops or community college or tutors.


Now that you've read through those posts, I wanted to talk about younger siblings today because that is a concern that was mentioned to me last week.

I enjoyed reading Mrs. G's post about how she and her daughter went to the library and got armloads of books on whatever subject they were interested in and spread them out on the floor to go through them. She doesn't mention younger siblings, but they could easily have fit into that scenario.

A lot of people, myself included, like to bring school home. I don't used a boxed curriculum, because I like to find things that both I and the children will find interesting. But we're still very "schoolish" here. That doesn't mean there is no place for babies or toddlers. Homeschooling is very much a family activity, not just something the schoolage kids do!

Obviously, school needs to be done in a place where those other little people can be. We used to use a room in our basement that was big enough for a sofa, a few desks, and toys. I could nurse comfortably and teach, or the little ones could play.

Learning toys are great if your child is content to play alone while in the same room with you, but they often want to be in on the action. So, let them. Yes, I said "Let them!" Bring them up to the table with you. Give them paper, chunky pencils and crayons. Buy them workbooks; check out library books. If you're reading American History, let them both color a coloring page on the subject while you read. Let them play with the math manipulatives while you teach math.

You'll be amazed at how much those little people learn when they're included! You might not even have to teach them to read.

There can also be lessons for the younger siblings. Preschool works at home, too. Take time out, while the older ones are doing seat work, to play games with them. One of the things I love about homeschooling is that I get to play with my kids more than I normally would. The older kids can also get a little break from lessons while they do preschool activities with the little ones and you throw a load of clothes into the washer.

You know, I look back and can't believe I made it through that period. I only have six kids, so other people have it harder. But there was a time, the peak of my homeschooling years (or was it the valley?), when I had:

an 8th grader,
a 6th grader,
a 4th grader,
a 1st grader,
a 3 year old,
and a baby!

(In case you didn't know, I've never taught high school. The kids have gone to a private, Catholic school, which, while excellent, has not been perfect. And if you're worried about being a bad teacher, imagine how it feels to pay for one!)

That was by far the most difficult year here, but the funny thing is that the next year was so much easier with that one, oldest child in school. Even though we missed her terribly, along with all her help. Even though I still had: 7th, 5th, 2nd, a 4 year old, and a 1 year old. Perspective makes a big difference.

I'm not an unschooler by any stretch of the imagination, but I do believe that we need to relax and enjoy this time with our children. The greatest gift of homeschooling is having your children around and being together as a family. It's not all about textbooks---learning happens in lots of ways, hopefully all the time. It doesn't fit into a certain number of hours per day: 8a.m. ---2 p.m. It's not necessarily best if all the i's are dotted and the t's crossed. It's best when you have a good day together and enjoyed each other's company and learned something together.

Friday, August 21, 2009

7 Quick Takes

1. It's quiet around here without the college children. We miss their presence, but we don't miss their laundry or the amount of food they eat! Madden is gone all day, too, with school and football practice, so he's not eating at home as much. I miss all my kids, but I console myself with the thought that they're where they're supposed to be, following God's plan for their lives, and most importantly that I can expect them to come home.

2. Do you have a tornado siren in your area? Do you know how useless they really are? I was excited a few years back when they put one up in our downtown. They test it on the first Wednesday of every month at noon and we can hear it loud and clear indoors. But did you know that they're not meant to be heard indoors? They're meant to warn the people who are outside. I'm sorry, but are people so stupid that the ones outside where the sky is dark and greenish and the wind is blowing the ones who need the warning???

I spent quite a few years of my life in Oklahoma where tornado shelters were common in backyards. Even in the "new" house my grandmother bought there was a community shelter across the street. Until I moved to Georgia from Virginia, I never had to worry about tornadoes, but we have enough to keep us on our toes here. So, while I appreciate the thought of the warning sirens, we have to look out for ourselves. We have only heard the sirens a couple of times at night during storms----the ones where it wasn't raining and the wind was quiet. But it didn't wake the children. The one time a tornado actually hit our neighborhood, we were all simultaneously awakened by the "freight train" and ran downstairs. If it had been aiming for our house, it would have been too late. We were lucky that it wasn't. That tornado seemed to have been mostly skipping around the treetops, not cutting a swath of destruction on the ground.

3. I haven't been quilting much, or at all, in the past couple of weeks what with the last push to get ready for school and this first week of school which also involved getting ready for American Heritage Girls last night. I'm hoping to spend some time on it in the coming week and get the quilting finished. And when I say "finished" I mean "FINISHED". I'm glad I decided not to quilt it heavily, but just use it for accents and to hold it together. Quilting hurts. My hands were so sore that for a few days I thought I had been spending too much time on the computer farming on FB. Then I realized that it was from the quilting. I guess I'm not cut out to be a quilter---at least not until I'm able to upgrade my sewing machine and get a walking foot to machine quilt. I don't know how women do it.

4. Barbara found an interesting post about schoolrooms. There are hundreds of schoolrooms here if you're looking for ideas. If you're prone to Envy, it's probably not a good idea to look. These days my schoolroom is a mess. We do all our work upstairs, so it has turned into the sewing/craft/scrapbooking/school/storage room. Not pretty.

I plan to spend a lot of time today looking at these wonderful rooms. Maybe it will be inspirational.

5. We went to the pool for PE on Wednesday. That was fun! It was a quick trip at 10 a.m.---we put on our suits, grabbed our towels and went. I didn't want to force them to swim laps, but I wanted them to stay active, so we had some noodle-races and tried different ways of maneuvering across the pool like sitting on the noodle and using just arms breaststroke style. Or bike riding. We held on to the walls and kicked. We stayed for 20 minutes and got right back to work after changing clothes at home.

It was great to get out of the house and have the pool all to ourselves.

6. Great, short post on effective parenting here. Jim Stenson has read some excellent parenting books.

7. We're looking forward to going to daily Mass today, since we have a lighter schedule on Friday's. Then we're hitting Rita's for some (maybe) Swedish Fish Ices. I've never been, but heard about them yesterday and found 2 free coupons in the paper. So we're going on a gustatory adventure. Okay, so it's not Bobby Flay, but it should make the kids happy. I know KT and Madden would love this since they're so fond of Swedish Fish.

As usual, stop by Jen's for more Quick Takes!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

School Day 3

No, you have not missed a blow-by-blow description of Days 1 and 2.

Our first day of school was very nice and calm. That probably had something to do with the fact that we had no internet service (or telephone, but we didn't know that at the time), so I wasn't distracted by blogging or reading blogs in the morning.

The problem with no internet service is that I'm using an online schedule tracker, now, and we had to guess at our assignments that first day. That's no big deal though since they usually involve opening the books and doing the first lesson!

Yesterday we did have internet and it was moving very slowly, so it added a lot of frustration to my day. It takes forever to load and save the pages on the Homeschool Skedtrack. And heaven forbid you should forget to save a page. Worse yet is not saving a page for a long time and then your internet connection is lost, and you have to do all the work again.

Don't ask me how I know.

I'm thrilled to have found an alternative to The Homeschool Tracker, and there are even a couple of things (mind you, just a couple) I like better about it, but it has some issues. It's kind of cumbersome and it's still under development, but it will work. So, if you're using a mac, or simply don't have the $$ to invest in Homeschool Tracker, you might consider it.


Two things we're working on this year are actually starting the day on time with the daily Gospel and a prayer for our work. That's one thing. I like starting the day in the right frame of mind, but I was never able to gather myself or the children at the same time before to do this. I know, it seems strange that I'm in my 15th year of homeschooling and I'm just now doing the daily readings with them! Homeschooling grows and changes each year as the family grows and changes.

The other thing we're trying to keep up with is PE. I've sporadically tried things over the years, but I'm determined this year. We're going to get outside after 2 hours of work and blow off steam for 30 minutes. It was a lot of fun yesterday as we played Hyper Dash. That's a great game for developing those fast-twitch muscle fibers! You have to sprint and change directions quickly and you have to think, too. They have one version of the game that's like Simon where they build up a pattern and you have to remember it as it gets longer and longer. And, let me tell you, you get tireder and tireder! It was hard to hear the machine tell me the pattern over the sound of my huffing and puffing.

I'm exhausted this morning. In fact, I was exhausted yesterday after playing, and I had to take a nap during lunch break!

Well, it's 15 minutes until school starts, so I'm signing off, so I can get it together by 8:00.

Happy Schooling, y'all!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don't Enter This Giveaway!

At The Inspired Room

I want to win.

I know it's just a grain sack, but have you ever seen one up close and personal? KT and I found some at the antique mall we discovered on my birthday. They were $100 and gorgeous. I was amazed at how soft and buttery the fabric was.

I wish I were a bushel of grain and could wear such nice clothes!

You know, if I win, maybe I'll just make a dress out if it instead of pillows, which was my first thought.

Friday, August 14, 2009

7 Quick Takeses (Gollum Edition)


I didn't share my birthday presents with you the other day because, as much as I loved them all, they were not the most important part of my day. That was the love from my family! But one present, which the Pipster wanted me to open first because it was from him, looked very familiar. Inside the wrapping was an old-fashioned candy tin which I thought KT had bought at Classy Clutter for herself. I looked over at her and she's laughing hysterically.

Inside the tin are the 2 hobnail salt and pepper shakers that she had also bought for herself.

Pipster and the Little Princess had wrapped them while KT and I were out because they were looking for the present from LP and we told them it was in the bag in KT's room. So they wrapped everything in the bag. I think they just wanted to give me a lot of presents! But KT took them back.


I got these from my Dad, but he doesn't know it yet! I feel like I have duck feet when I wear them, but they're pretty cool. I'm looking forward to taking them out on the road after I break in my feet.


This guy is leaving for college in about 40 minutes. It's time to wake him up and load the car. Yesterday, we were packing and cleaning his room (While he wondered why his mother couldn't just let him pack. Why did it have to be cleaned, too?) and we found this mess under his bed. All the mail to this highly sought-after young man from many universities.


I'm going to miss him.


I've always thought that God prepares us gently for changes. You know, moms have to get up in the night to go to the bathroom while we're pregnant to prepare for baby's nightwaking. That kind of thing. They grow up little by little. We're prepared for teens leaving home because they're busy and out of the house so much, and when they're home, they're in their rooms. So it shouldn't be that different, right? Wrong. His presence will be missed. He's larger than life when he's here with us.


When KT went off to school 2 years ago, it was just a few days after we returned from my dear mother's funeral. I think I was in shock and just plain depressed. So, I didn't really mourn her leaving, specifically. It just seemed a part of the same, huge upheaval that I'd been through that whole year.

I think this time, I'll mourn both children leaving.


On a more cheerful note, dh and I get to go see Dr. Ray Guarendi tomorrow. Our homeschool group is hosting him. It will be my 3rd time seeing him. He gives great parenting advice as a the father of 10 children, most of whom have special needs. Plus, he's funny as all get out and we'll be literally rolling in the aisles with tears running down our faces. I'm really looking forward to that.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy New Year to Me!

Yesterday was such a pleasant day! It was my birthday, for those of you who don't know! But I didn't want to do a "Happy Birthday to this wonderful person in my life" post. So, here I am today to tell you about it!

It was just an ordinary day, really. I learned a long time ago that if I expect everyone to spoil me rotten and do things for me all day, then it will be a really. bad. day. But if I go about my ordinary business and do what needs to be done, it will be fine.

So, I started my day as usual with a workout with the Master of My World. Okay, not "as usual" because I've been a total slacker this summer. But, out we went into the dark, early morning and did our sprints past the sleeping neighbors' houses. We didn't talk much because the sprinting doesn't leave time or breath for speaking, but we enjoyed being together.

I started the laundry, as usual, cleaned up my bathroom (not usual!) and had breakfast. Then I took the Pipster to the orthopedist to see if he had broken his wrist on Friday night. When he came in crying and holding his arm, I was pretty sure he had broken it because it was a little too much like last summer when he broke his arm! This time, it wasn't bad enough to be obvious, but moms can just tell, you know.

Now, I also know that not every break requires a trip to the ER or Children's Hospital or even the Urgent Care center (especially not there because they just xray it, say it's broken, and send you on your way with a splint or a brace with an admonishment to see an orthopedist on Monday). Even my friend the ER Dr. has been known to wait a really long time when he wasn't sure a bone was broken!

After shelling out the big bucks for those braces they use a couple of times, I started keeping them in my first aid kit. Fortunately (?!) we just happened to have a left-handed brace in the right size from when TMax broke his wrist a couple of years ago. So, we slapped that puppy on and sent him to bed. Saturday, I discovered that our new orthopedist does not have Saturday hours. AND I discovered that Madden did not need his appointment that was already scheduled for Monday morning, so I decided to pull the old patient switch on them. They weren't real thrilled with that, but they saw him anyway. It gave us another day or so to watch him and decide if it was broken, but I was pretty sure, judging from his pain level, that it was.

Wait a second, I thought this post was about me and my birthday! Well, you see, it's not about me and it shouldn't be because that just leads to disappointment.

Anyway, back to the orthopedist yesterday----Pipster has a minor buckle fracture of his ulna...radius...the bigger one, but he doesn't need a cast, just that great, free, brace that he was already wearing. And we don't even have to go back in for a recheck because the Dr. would just press on it and ask if it hurts, which I think I'm fully qualified to do myself. Since I'm Dr. Mom.

Home to laundry and then KT and I went out to A Classy Clutter to find a birthday present for her to give me. We found lots of stuff for her, and we found a new antique mall that we weren't aware of, and we spent hours wandering through it, but we didn't find anything affordable that I was dying to have. Don't you think it's terribly hard to pick out something for yourself when you know someone is ready to buy it? Harder than using a gift card which I also find challenging. However, we had a really good time there, and we didn't have any whiny little ones to mar experience, because you know how little ones HATE dragging through boring stores where they can't touch anything or buy anything for themselves!

We dropped off stuff at Goodwill; we left her car at CarMax to get a little problem fixed, and we went to Target to pick up a couple of things where we also got some pick-me-ups at Starbucks. There we finally found my present, and we came home. Exhausted.

Fortunately, at this point I was free to relax because KT insisted on making dinner. So, I did relax for the rest of the evening while they made fabulous fontina fondue using a new recipe from her Italian cookbook. After our yummy dinner and my cappuccino chocolate chunk cheesecake that LP and I had made Sunday afternoon, we watched a couple of episodes of I Love Lucy, which is what KT ended up getting me at Target. I didn't fold any laundry, and I didn't quilt because I was resting my hands, but that's another post.

So there you have it: practically every boring detail of my 45th birthday. It wasn't spectacular. I didn't get a massage or a manicure. I didn't have my every whim catered to all day long. But I did spend the day doing ordinary, necessary, and fun things with my family. I enjoyed every minute of it and I'm so grateful that God has given me each and every one of them. That's the best gift of all!

Friday, August 7, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


Dh took our new iMac back to the store because it has a noisy fan, and they kept it for "5-7 business days". Then he set up the old pc. In some ways it's like coming home again, but you know what they say. You can't go home again.

Nope. They were right. It's going to be a looooong week as I spend more time than usual on the computer working on American Heritage Girls stuff and getting geared up for school.


I found a new blog yesterday from some handy hyperlink on someone else's blog. It's insidious, isn't it, the way you blithely click over to see what she's talking about and, suddenly, you're hooked on something new!

This is the NeverNotKnitting blog, and I'm loving it so far. I listened to a podcast and a half while I was doing some schoolwork yesterday. She also has lots of cute, original designs for sale. Most of them are modeled on her adorable toddler, so it's a good thing that I haven't got money or a toddler, or I'd be never not knitting, myself!


I'm reading a new book these days. I think it was due at the library yesterday, but I didn't return it because I've only been reading it a couple of days. (Yes, I'll renew it today!) It took me almost a month to get started because I didn't get the title or the cover picture. It's called "I Capture the Castle". It was probably a referral from Melissa's blog, which is where I get most of my book recommendations these days.

Now that I'm into it, I'm finding it a charming story. It's told by a teenage, English girl named Cassandra from an interesting, poverty-stricken family that lives in an old castle (are 'old' and 'castle' a little redundant?) in the mid-20th century. It's fascinating as she observes and journals their changing fortunes.


I've gotten six or seven big squares quilted on the Little Princess's quilt. I'm not going to heavily quilt it---it'll be sort of a cross between hand-tying and quilting. Quilted enough to keep it together and have a design on the back. I'm having fun with it.


I've discovered there's always something yummy to watch on Food Network while I quilt!


I think I'm only making it to 6 Quick Takes today. I'm sleepy and ready to get dressed and go have coffee with my dear friend, Carol. She's the first person I met when we moved here 13 years ago, and she's still an inspiration to me, but we don't see each other more than a couple of times a year anymore. It could be a long cup of coffee!


Have a great August day, ya'll. If you didn't get enough Quick Takes here, stop by Jen's for more!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Last Week of Summer?

I'm not sure whether it is or not.  The public school neighbors go back on Monday, the 10th.  KT and Hitch leave later in the week for college.

That could be my last week of summer where I sit back and relax, and enjoy days without the doorbell ringing constantly!  

I really wouldn't be sitting back and relaxing, though.  They would be days filled with last minute errands for college.  Last minute decluttering of my home.  Last minute scheduling of lessons for my homeschoolers.  Last minute book-buying for my high schooler.

I might as well start ringing my bell in the mornings, like Carol, and getting the young'uns used to getting up again.  I might as well pull out their books and let them get reacquainted with them.  Pipster and LP can finish up their math books as a review.  They can start learning how to use our new, sketchy Skedtracker.  We can start reading some books together to see if they remember how to read.  

We can gradually get used to the quiet around here as, little by little, our friends and family go back to school, and it's just me and my 3.  I look forward to being with my little peeps (although  TMax isn't really one of the little ones anymore!).  We enjoy our days together,  but I think we'll be a bit sad and wistful, missing our big kids and the fun they bring to the family.

Oh, darn it.  Now I'm a wreck.  What a way to start the day!

For Your Listening Pleasure

TMax playing "Maple Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin.

I don't think this is recital-ready, but I thought you might enjoy it!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Anniversary Feast

We had a beautiful feast to celebrate our 23rd anniversary on Sunday with the family.  

A garden-fresh caprese salad.

A green salad made by the loving hands of my Little Princess.

Grass-fed steaks grilled by Daddy.

And a decadent Boston Cream Pie to round it (and us) out.  

Madden wanted this one bad enough to do most of the work himself.  I, mostly, jut gave instruction.

Happy Day!

Looky what I got in the mail yesterday from Barb at Praying for Grace!

It's simply stunning---thank you!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Philly---Day 5

I'm so sorry to have kept you waiting for the last day of sightseeing on our trip!  

We made it to Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love, after spending the night in Amish country.  I had wanted to stop somewhere and look at quilts and whatnot, but we didn't get the chance. The only Amish we saw were leaving Burger King to get into their minivan.

I don't get that.

Anyway...we arrived in Philly in good time in the morning and found a parking garage, which was quite exciting, what with people exiting through the entrance and valet parking in the garage.  We had to grab our belongings and get the 8 of us out the car in a heartbeat.  And then out of the garage.

What mother likes herding her children through a parking garage where there is only room for cars, not people, and the cars are driving on whichever side of the street they care to?

Not this one.

Off to the visitor's center where we picked up our tickets for the Independence Hall, because we had learned our lesson at the Washington Monument and decided to fork over the $1.50 per ticket to order them in advance.

The Little Princes and I loved sitting and talking with the costumed docents who were embroidering, or quilling, or making dolls.  One of them told us about the storytellers who were stationed all around the colonial area.  If we visited all 13 we could win a prize!  We went to 4, but we didn't have time for all of them.  We had other things on our minds---like lunch!

This guy was our favorite of the ones we saw.  He was a great storyteller and just really fun to talk to.

It's kinda sad we missed the others; I think they were the best way for the young'uns (and myself) to learn about the history.

We saw the Liberty Bell which I thought was pretty anti-climactic. I mean, I would have preferred to see it hanging in a bell tower, even if it can't be used, not a totally modern building.

Then we went over for our appointment at the "steak house" which is what LP called Independence Hall later. She must have been listening to the tour guide explain its proper name and misunderstood. It was funny, but I was really proud that she had been listening!

Now, who do you think our tour guide was?

The ghost of Benjamin Franklin, himself.

He's said he's not related, but I don't believe him. What do you think????

Yeah, me too.

After the "State House" we're all getting a little hungry and cranky, so we have another high carb snack to stave off starvation while we visit the Betsy Ross house.  That was a nice little self-guided tour, reasonably priced, and interesting.  Fun, climbing around the tiny, winding stairs in her little house.  It's hard to believe the way people used to live in such small spaces with big skirts on!

After some discussion and map reading, we decided to drive to our next destination: Philly cheesesteak heaven. Good plan---our feet were already tired and we were hungry and it turned out to be a longer drive than we expected.

We had to go to Pat's and Geno's Two different, famous, cheese steak joints that are across from each other, and that we had seen on Sandwiches You Will Like.. We had given semi-serious thought to doing a sandwich tour for our vacation, but dh's "Emmitsburg, Gettysburg, Sharpsburn" tour won out. And we swapped Sharpsburg for Philly. Whatever.

Anyway, we trekked through South Philly in search of Cheese Steaks. Up 'til now, the Philadelphians had impressed us with their brotherly love. No fewer than 3 people had stopped to ask us at various times if we needed help! We evidently looked a little more clueless than we were.

Once we got in a car on the narrow, busy streets, they lost all sense of brotherly love! We saw lots of really cute, old neighborhoods. Not quite as cute and squeezeable as Gettysburg, but nearly so. There was lots of other charm there, too. Like these cool buildings that had been covered in glass and metal:

Fortunately, we were there well between mealtimes, so Pat's and Geno's were not crowded and there was parking immediately available. I don't know what we would have done if we had to drive down the street and dh had to maneuver our mini-van into one of those tiny, curbside spaces. We might have given up and gone cheesesteakless. Philadelphians must be born with serious parallel parking genes!

The plan was to order 4 sandwiches from each store; each of us eat half of one and compare. KT was the brave soul who volunteered to dare Pat's wrath and ordered from him. He even yelled at her for ordering wrong! (They have a sign that teaches you how to order properly.) He's like the Soup Nazi.  We were so proud.

"I got those two sandwiches: steaks, wit, provolone. And I got a steak, wit-out, provolone. But I have no idea what you're sayin' about the othe' one. I don't know whatcher talkin about!" She finally got it right and we sat down to eat in 5 minutes. They were yummy, let me tell you! But then, we were hungry.

After the busboy kindly took our picture in front of their sign (I think he really wanted to stop me from taking a picture of Geno's across the street), we walked over to Geno's.

Do you know what Geno's stands for?  No, it's not the owner's name.  It stands for "Good English Needs Our Support."  Their signs don't tell you how to order a cheese steak properly, they tell you "This is America.  Order in English."  

I like these people a lot.  

They don't yell at you, either.  And they wrap your sandwiches neatly instead of just slapping them on paper and shoving them out the window at you.  Of course, I didn't try ordering in Spanish, so I can't say what might have happened.

This time we ordered our sandwiches "wit" and "whiz"---that's wit onions and cheeswhiz.  Before we got there, it sounded like the most disgusting thing ever.  I wasn't even planning to eat cheese steaks at all, but these were amazing!  We scarfed those puppies down fast and ordered another one for the road.  Sandwiches at these two places cost as much as our lunch at McDonalds (and we didn't even get fries and drinks with our cheesesteaks), but it was so much more worth it!

And, yes, amazingly enough, cheese steak sandwiches at Pat's and Geno's was the highlight of our trip!  

With full tummies, we hit road and headed south for No. Va and the grandparents house, again.

What I Read Today

And those who trust Him he takes under His special protection.  He marks out their whole life for them; He appoints all that happens to them; He guides them in such a way as to secure their salvation; He gives them just so much of health, of wealth, and of friends as is best for them; He afflicts them only when it is for their good; He is never angry with them.  He measures out just that number of years that is good for them; and He appoints the hour of their death in such a way as to secure their perseverance of it.

---John Henry Cardinal Newman

{How does He always know what I need to hear? ;-)  }


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