Saturday, October 18, 2014

Stink Bugs: Top of the Food Chain

Can you stand another kid story?  (I have a million of 'em and they just keep coming...)

Pretty much every morning, bright and early, after Dan leaves for work and before everyone else is stirring, William climbs into bed with me for a snuggle and some conversation.  This is a habit that his older siblings sneer at a little, but I grab hold of it and hold it close with with both hands.  This little guy is my last baby and he's growing fast; too soon he'll be too grown up to snuggle with Mommy. (=sigh= I miss all my *littles* when they're big...)

Anyway, this morning after a good tickle, William and I somehow landed on the topic of predators and prey.  (I'm not sure how we got there; we started out talking about how we didn't remember our dreams last night.)

"So mice are pretty much the bottom of the food chain," William deduced after we discussed how many critters out there depend on them for sustenance (or at least appetizers).  "So, what's at the top of the food chain?"

"I'd say lions were up there," I said.

"But people shoot lions,"  William added.

Stink but:  top of the food chain
"And lions eat people, too, though,"  I had to mention, "so I guess they share top spot."

"Yep," he agreed, "lions and people -- and stink bugs."

"What?  Stink bugs? How do you figure that, William?"

"Well, nothing eats stink bugs.  They might even be at the top of the food chain, the way I'm thinking."

So, mark it down, folks.  Top of the food chain:  Stink bugs, followed by Lion and Man, sharing second place.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Gallon of Salt?

That's it? No wonder they lost the battle!

Gabriel's astonished response to the following paragraph:

Little by little, the Continental Congress realized that concilation with England was impossible. In the fall, a force under the command of Benedict Arnold was ordered off through the Maine woods toward Canada, with instructions to take Quebec.  Not a word was heard for weeks, until finally a message arrived in Philadelphia that Arnold was besieging Quebec.  Then word came of the outcome.  The Americans had launched a gallant assault on the city through the driving snow on the last day of the year.  Arnold had been wounded and the attack had failed, the first great American military disaster of the war. (Christ and the Americas by Anne W. Americas)

Maybe need to clean out your ears, Gabey?
The Battle of Quebec 
 Wherein the fellow in front is apparently carrying a bag of...  salt?

Filed under: How did these people get so weird? 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


This kid.
8 going on 38.
William and I were having an amicable debate this morning.  He wanted to know how to spell Sigaro.

"Sigaro?  Don't you mean Figaro?" I asked.

"No, It's Sigaro, " he said.  And you have to know this about William; he is always absolutely sure about everything.  "Sigaro, " he repeated, looking me dead in the eye, lips pressed together. "Like in the cartoon."

"Well, you know, William, " I answered, equally 100% sure of myself (because he got that from me,...)  it is actually Figaro."  He lifted an eyebrow at me, so I added, "And I'll prove it to you."

I got on my trusty old laptop and searched out the Figaro cartoon. No sense in explaining and searching out the real-life opera, right?  I could prove him wrong using his own resources. So, here ya go.

Check it out. Remember this one?

( Hang in to the end, with the shrinking head bit... )


"HA!"  I said  in triumph with motherly dignity.  "I haven't been watching Bugs Bunny Cartoons for 45 years for nothin'!"


"Whatever, William.  Old age comes with wisdom.  Just accept it."

"But, Mommy," he said, and he looked at me with a certain long-lashed smile of his that warns of approaching sarcasm.  "I wouldn't call you old.  Flattery works better.  And as for wisdom..." He paused for effect here. .. "Let me just say this.  The cartoon I'm thinking about has Sylvester in it."

Hm.  Sylvester?  I couldn't pull that one up in my memory, so we looked it up:


Sigh...  Yeah. Very obvious that lisped S, isn't it? ("lithped eth?")

So now I'm eating crow, having been bested by an eight-year old...  who knows cartoons better after only eight years than I do after 45  --  and who challenges his mother's wisdom in debating cartoons with an eight-year-old, to begin with.

But, my son, he's a gracious winner.  "It's OK," he told me, after being proven right.  "Don't feel bad.  It's not wisdom, just memory that you're losing."

Thanks, William.  I'll get you next time; you'd better watch your back...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Day in the Life

My little guy, keeping busy.  :)  This is rarely a problem for William; more the problem is other people messing him up while he keeps busy!

Sometimes literally. Like William
in the above photo...
Never Lacking for Something to Do

There's no lack of things to do here in the middle of the Nebraska countryside, but I suspect our routine of busy-ness is different from most other folks'.  First of all, of course: we home school.  Then, to add to the oddity, we don't do organized sports -- though we are a family of athletes and sports fans who enjoy pick-up games with our friends, or just among ourselves --because there are enough of us to do that. :)  We aren't doing music lessons right now, but depending on Theresa to teach piano to her younger siblings, an arrangement agreeable to all of us.  We don't belong to any homeschool group of any kind, having long ago decided that we didn't like being tied down to other people's interests and timetables (we're kinda selfish that way, I'm afraid), but we do enjoy meeting up with our friends after Mass on Sundays and have already hosted a sleepover with a gaggle of girl friends here in Nebraska.  We don't spring for extra academic classes for the children, either, but follow our own noses down the bunny trail of interests that present to us, using the internet, the library, and local museums to learn on our own.

Adding wood to the woodpile is still sport for these guys
Needless to say, when the weather is good, the children play outside, exploring, and making up new twists on old games (I'll have to get into that some time!). But, wild children though they are, they're not outdoors all the time, and certainly don't turn their noses up at electronic entertainment, limited though it may be.  Our wii is apparently broken, and since we live out in the middle of nowhere, we do have an internet feed, thankfully, but not one sufficient to stream Netflix movies anymore.  We haven't felt deprived, though.  Our cabinets hold a vast store of movies, both dvds and vhs tapes (now usable since we just got a new player -- Woohoo!)  But, we don't watch the tv a whole lot.  Maybe a movie a day?  Unless it's a yucky day out -- then more like a couple movies -- with hot cocoa.  Rainy days also usually end up in card games -- or board games -- or, inevitably...  books.

Of Books and Life, Life and Books

Come rain or shine, at any given time of day, you'll find someone sprawled out somewhere with his or her nose in a book.  During our school day(which generally occurs in the hours between breakfast and lunch), the children learn the basics in a handful of workbooks, receive instruction together from books I read and discuss with them, then write a bit in some of their own books; then, at some point in the day, we read  books for entertainment together, and every one of us has a stack of personal reading material beside our bed.  We are a bookish bunch. I sigh in contentment to say so.

 It's a goal I had, you see, to become a bookish family. As a young homeschooling Mom 22 years ago, I read somewhere that every homeschool family should write up a family mission statement -- regarding its priorities and goals, both specific and general, in the short and long term.  One of my most cherished long-term goals  -- written in the mission statement notebook -- was that all my children would love to read. If we succeeded in raising readers, most of my job as an educator would be taken care of.  (Read the benefits of raising readers here and here) And, seriously, what would we have to talk about if I raised a houseful of people who weren't literate?  A horrifying thought.

But, no worries.  Whether by accident, plan, or genetic predisposition -- I don't know; probably all three! -- all our children are bookworms, the big boys and Michelle, as well as the Littles still at home.  I'm a proud and happy Momma.  No one looks at me funny when I disappear into a book for a spell; they just take advantage of the opportunity to get lost in one themselves.  And then we talk about our books together.  Le-sigh...  C'est si bon!

On the book queue at our house right now:

* Theresa (15) is reading Shakespeare's plays and just finished (among other things) My Lady of the Chinese Courtyard (a lender from June) and is reading a Wilkie Collins:  Woman in White -- Theresa will read anything she can get her hands on, has read almost every book we have, and is always looking for more!

* Cathy (14) just finished Pride and Prejudice and is now starting The Scarlet Pimpernel -- Cathy tends toward mysteries and romances, though she'll read most anything.

* Anna (11) just finished reading Alice in Wonderland  and is starting  Huckleberry Finn -- Anna will read anything and everything, but especially loves a fantastic tale with lots of drama.

* Gabriel (9) is reading a selection of fables and obsessing over the American Boys' Handybook and a tree identification book he found -- Gabe's reading taste gravitates toward
the purely utilitarian.

* William (8) is reading The Great Brain, plus the family's vast collection of Calvin & Hobbes and Guinness World Records books -- William is another voracious reader and will read just about anything -- but gets a predictably boyish delight out of anything gruesome or silly.

* I just finished re-reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, am almost through Wilkie Collins' The Dead Secret, and dipping occasionally into The Little World of Don Camillo  by Giovanni Guareschi,when I want something light -- with a side order of Common Sense 101, by Dale Ahlquist when I want something not so light -- Like my children, I have widely varied tastes in literature...

* Dan has little time to read, and the time he does have, he usually falls asleep.  But he's a student of Abbot
Gueranger's Liturgical Year -- and does all the research and keeps up-to-date on the world news necessary to know...I look forward to the day when he can retire and we can read books together!

* June (our grandma emeritus) reads constantly.  I couldn't possibly keep up with all she's reading!  She loves the Elizabeth Peters Amelia Peabody mysteries and has read the series many times, and I know she just read A Man Born Again, about St. Thomas More.  Other than that, it's anybody's guess...

* Together, as a family, we're reading Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline (almost finished) and the Vision book, John Carroll: Bishop and Patriot (following the time period in history we've gotten to) and we're enjoying a little squirrel study, reading a little treasure of a book we stumbled across, called A Squirrel of One's Own, by Douglas Fairbairn.

In between books, and sporadically, the children read from our (quite large) collection of saints' biographies, though it is something I suggest and encourage, instead of require.  We want the children to enjoy spiritual reading and make it a part of their lives.  We've found, over 20 years of testing out the theory, that talking often about the exciting and inspiring people who've achieved heaven makes the children want to read about them -- more so than making strict rules about saint book quotas. 

We also try to encourage the children to try out a variety of authors and genres, steering  them toward age-appropriate writing, and always with the caveat that they only read wholesome literature.  That old adage about dieting: "garbage in, garbage out" is true for the kind of things we load into our heads as well as our stomachs.  

Indignant Chicken Momma
All of this is just an idea of the activities that make up a typical day, an overview of what we're "all about," I guess.  I haven't mentioned, because I expect most folks who visit here already know, that the structure of family prayer is as important as meal time at our house.  You eat, you breath, you pray...  then everything else falls into place.  It's all perfectly natural for us, nothing is forced or corset-like.  We all have a pretty darn good time, enjoying every day.  Our 15-and-under crowd are a well-adjusted, well-read, goofy bunch of nuts, and all of our big kids have moved on to happy, productive, gainfully employed, well-adjusted, well-read, goofy bunch of nuts. 

I have to add that last bit, you know.  I'm afraid that there are some who would read this description of our family life -- and picture a group of "unsocialized" nerd children who are awkward and uncomfortable in "normal society."  If you've met our children, I know you're thinking nothing of the sort, right?  Trust me, they're ridiculously well adapted, socially.  Maybe too well adapted... But those who are new to the idea of unconventional (holistic) homeschooling with carefully-planned social interaction might doubt this. (=sigh=)  This is a subject close to my gizzard (not my heart, mind you), as it really gets me right in the jugular when folks jump to conclusions about home schooling -- especially large, orthodox, homeschooling families, those of us who don't follow the "rules" of convention...  As if conventional western society were doing a bang-up job in the child-rearing department, right? Seriously! If I didn't have an exciting chapter in my Wilkie Collins novel to get back to, I'd wax indignant on this topic...

Keep checking back, though.  It's possible that in between teaching children and cooking and cleaning house and doing laundry and making raspberry jam and crafting a moon face for our autumn village and reading novels...  I'll get around to writing that post.  (It could happen.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Am Insomniac's Haiku

I might sleep all day
But I get up anyway
Night owl tax to pay

Testing. Testing.

To see if you really do read my blog, beloved husband o'mine...
* Look in the top middle drawer of my dresser.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On the Feast of the Holy Rosary

 “Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.”
Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche

“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.”
Pope Blessed Pius IX

“If you persevere in reciting the Rosary, this will be a most probable sign of your eternal salvation.”
Blessed Alan de la Roche

“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.”
Saint Francis de Sales

“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many—on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!”
Saint Bernardine of Siena

“Recite your Rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence, and with perseverance.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the
Pope Saint Pius X: “...if you wish peace to reign
 in your homes,\ recite the family Rosary.”
Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.”

Pope Saint Pius X

“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

“Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if—and mark well what I say—if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.”
Saint Louis de Montfort

"The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”
Sister Lucia dos Santos, Fatima seer

“When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.”
Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche

“‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!’ No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing to me, nor will anyone ever be able to find or say to me anything that pleases me more.”
Our Lady to Saint Mechtilde

Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for Us!

Monday, October 6, 2014

This Sweet Girl's Birthday!

Our girl, Catherine Cecilia, is fourteen years old today!  So beautiful, so sweet, so talented, and full of common practical sense, Cathy is one in a million!  We love her to the moon!