Tuesday, September 30, 2008

fan club
After performing in the second and final performance of Hansel & Gretel, Joseph poses with his fan club and signs his grandparents' programs.
The opera drew a full house for both shows, and the pre-opera kids' "explore the arts" activities were a big hit. One highlight for us was hearing our friends Ezra and Boaz playing the drum.
Our drive home from the opera was a musical experience, with each boy (all 7) in turn singing, "Give me some dinner...please!" in his best operatic voice. You can imagine the variety of tunes we heard!
On the ride home, each boy sang, "Thank you for taking me to the opera!" There was more laughing than singing, but the extension activity still counts, doesn't it?
Joseph is looking forward to seeing the opera, as there will be a DVD made available soon.
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Monday, September 29, 2008

mile 9 (of 13)
The beautiful course of the half marathon gives Zac inspiration at mile 9 (of 13) yesterday morning.

His first long-distance race, the half marathon was a great experience for him. The weather was perfect!

Here are his final results:

1 hour and 58 minutes

Way to go, Zachary!
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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Look Out Below!
The children's choir peeks down into the orchestra pit after their final dressed rehearsal for Hansel & Gretel.

Do you recognize that little waving gingerbread man, soon to be brought to life by Hansel?
Yup~ it's Joseph in his opera debut!
He's onstage for 2 shows this weekend with the local chorale and symphony orchestra.

Upon hearing of Joseph's upcoming performance, a close friend commented, "I didn't know Joseph was an opera fan!"

Truth be told, this will be his very first opera experience. How he came to be involved in the first place is a story worth re-telling:

Joseph's participation in public singing did not grow out of his love of the opera or out of a desire to perform onstage, but rather out of my desire to have him sing louder in church! I grew weary of asking the boys to really sing at church... oh their hymnals are open, and their mouths are moving, but don't you think a person standing right next to them should be able to hear something?

So when I saw the open call for auditions of voices for this children's choir for Hansel & Gretel, I told all 3 boys they would need to at least participate in the audition. (As a learning experience, as an opportunity in the arts...) Well, you would have thought I had told Zachary he was going to have to eat raw hamburger! Let it suffice to say I decided not to pursue his participation any further.

Joseph and Peter auditioned fairly willingly, and a few of their friends came along to audition as well. I have a sneaking suspicion that Peter intentionally blew his own chance of being selected, but I don't have proof! He was not disappointed in the least that he did not make the final cut.

Joseph did make the final cut, and has been rehearsing for the past month or so with outstanding direction from the wonderful adults in charge. We are so proud of Joseph for sharing his beautiful voice with us and with our community. It's also really nice to have something for JUST Joseph. The biggest down-side has been the several late nights this week with rehearsals going until 10PM. His nerves are really tugging at him as the first performance draws near. He even opted out of his soccer game today so he could rest!

Tonight our family will attend, and tomorrow most of his grandparents and a whole van load of his friends will attend the matinee. I don't think I'll mention the whole "break a leg" business... the 18 foot drop into the orchestra pit seems to make that little statement a bit foreboding!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Finding a garter snake is always a great thing in our world. Today it was Joseph whose hunting and gathering skills paid off. Look at this little guy with his perfect little tongue!
We set him free shortly after introducing him to our dear friends, David and Taylor. Won't be long before the garter snakes will be going dormant for the cold season, will it? (No, really, will it??)

Today was the perfect day for Popsicles and tree climbing~ this has been a Friday to remember. Even the water fight didn't end too badly, which is always nice...

A giant soft taco feed after Mass, with hours to play afterward... and a nice sunny afternoon for sipping tea and visiting with friends and neighbors, we are so blessed!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


First: Peter, Boaz and Enoch work together with the Quadrilla set.

Second: Joseph and Judah go for a height record.

Third: Zachary gives Judah reason to suspect his gaming strategy.

Next: Peter plays Take Off with Boaz and Ezra.

Last: Judah, Boaz, Enoch, Peter, Ezra, Joseph and Collin prepare for a departure to the land of berry picking.

Q: What could be better than a gorgeous autumn day?

A: A gorgeous autumn day with a bunch of friends over for homeschooling adventures!

Let's just call it boys' day~ with educational games, plenty of PE, role playing activities, forestry exploration and first aid training too! This week we also studied and completed the "Whittling Chip" for the purpose of earning the right to carry a pocket-knife in Scouts.

One of our guests made an extreme effort to earn the privilege of coming over first thing in the morning: waking up before his parents and diligently completing his school work without being asked! (Joseph called him the night before, reminding him to get to bed early so he could get up and finish his work by 10am.)

Peter and Joseph had completed a "double-day" of school work on Monday to make Tuesday's event possible. Zachary also got a very early start on his day (6am?) to complete his assignments in time for the festivities. Nothing like a delicious "carrot" to make us buckle down and get some work done so there's more time to play!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

(above: Joseph and Collin play "ring the monkey on the bike" along our sidewalk today)

As we were driving home yesterday, I made the briefest blink of eye contact with a man walking on the sidewalk ~ and felt like I had made eye contact with Satan himself! I can't explain it, but I felt guilty immediately for having jumped to such a horrible image based one one peek into that man's eyes.... I decided to pray for him right then, and asked forgiveness for the leap to the extreme label!

RIGHT then, from the back seat, Joseph asked, "Mom, do some people get sidewalk rage?"
I knew right away that he, too, had seen the look on that walking man's face (and contemplated the extreme feelings that must have been emanating from him). After a chuckle over the idea of an actual diagnosis of sidewalk rage, I shared my initial reaction to the man's face with him and just reminded him that we are given our intuition or inner voice for a reason.

So far no nightmares.....


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Extra Security Required
Our little friend, Arthur, gave Father this device after mass Friday to prevent another car theft.
But Arthur refused to have his photo taken with Father, so we did instead.
Arthur told Father he could keep the tool, "for the rest of your life!"
When asked if he would use it, Father replied, "Yes, when I'm parking in ______." (City near airport from where his car was stolen.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Off & Running

In his third cross country meet, Zachary comes in for a landing. The experience of participating on the local team has meant lots of trips to & from the school, and a bit of extra laundry... but it's been worthwhile. The coaches are outstanding, and the communication with the families has been excellent. Now if only we could count on beautiful sunny days for all the remaining meets...

On Saturday, Zac will take the bus with his team to a local meet about an hour and a half from home. We can't drive him this time, as conflicts with work and 2 local soccer games are keeping us in town. He seems excited for the bus experience, and hasn't mentioned the old "death wagon" label yet. I'm thinking of sending him with a hidden camera! Kidding, kidding!

Monday, September 15, 2008

special greetings for Gabriel...

on his 4th birthday today!

Peter loves to draw, and so often his art reflects his (our) faith. I asked him to make Gabriel's card today for his homeschool art & writing, and this is what he came up with on his own.

We looked up the scripture verse together, finding the Gospel with Gabriel's annunciation.

I decided to save a photo of the card (both sides) and to share it here.

Happy Birthday dear Gabriel!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's that time again...
Time to spend Saturdays at the soccer park, cheering on our local athletes.
The big breakthrough for Peter's team this season is...
Peter thrilled one of his coaches when he exclaimed, "When we pass, it makes the game so much easier!"
When his other coach approached Peter's team for their post-game chat (pre-snack chat!) he asked them,
"Guess what the other team's coach just said to me?"
At least one eight-year-old player answered in a duh voice, "GOOD GAME??"
"Yes, I mean after he said 'good game.' He told me how impressed he was with your passing!"
The coaches were very pleased, and they should be. It's the fruit of many hours of their patient teaching and gentle nudging finally manifesting in real soccer action!
We spectator/parents were also impressed, as much with their excellent coaching and dedication to our boys as with our kids' performance on the field.

Friday, September 12, 2008

a struggle
by Joseph

to get Charlie to stay down and
look at the camera now

to get him to look this way and
not eat what ever he may

"I want to take Charlie hunting for ducks, so I'm training him so we can catch our luck! I ordered a "dead fowl" duck with a loose head, so if Charlie shakes it, he gets batted in the head. I helped Dad put duck scent on the dead fowl. Charlie didn't know what to do at first, but the final time he actually dropped it right next to me. Dad reminds me to play fetch with the "dead duck" every day.

On the lines of a struggle, It's a struggle to keep Charlie down during dinner. It's also a struggle to keep Charlie from eating.... er.... piles in the back yard. It's kind of gross when he licks you after he's been in the backyard eating from a pile."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Runner on the loose
Zac participated in his first ever high school cross country meet yesterday. He ran well, and was pleased with his performance.

I asked him, "What will you always remember about your first cross country race?"

He answered, "Chances are, I won't always remember that race."

Well, he might not, but chances are, his father and I will.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Snorkeling in the kitchen

What is the natural solution for protecting your eyes from the stinging of onion fumes?
Getting eye protection, of course.
While you are at it, you might as well get nose, mouth and lung protection as well!
The Pitch for "Going Green"
So... I leave the younger boys home with Tim for a few hours and now they want a goat! And chickens! Apparantly this all came out of a discussion about what it means to "go green."
I was informed that we would be having a family meeting and taking a vote. There are 3 "yes" votes already, I'm afraid.
So... how many times today do you think I was asked if I had made up my mind yet?
Pulling into the grocery store parking lot to groans of displeasure I heard about how we wouldn't need to go grocery shopping if only we had a goat... and chickens. When I mentioned it was potatoes I was purchasing today, what do you think I heard next?
"How do we grow potatoes?"
Perhaps this is all really just a bad reaction to too many stops at the grocery store(s) over the years? Or perhaps it is just a phase. (One boy did nearly offer to trade having a pet frog for the whole goat/chicken thing... but changed his mind before we could shake on it!)
At any rate, I have friends with goats, and have personally experienced the "joys" of pre-dawn milking when our family "goat-sat" for some friends of my parents when I was young. I am just not sure I want a goat. I don't have anything against goats, per se.
Will this blow over? Or will we be generating a whole new range of potential noise complaints?
Stay tuned!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Sacred Hearts {First Friday}

Peter, Joseph and Zachary with Father Qui Thac before the procession on First Friday.

First Fridays are always a special day for us and for our community at Sacred Heart.
We are so blessed to have the opportunity to serve in such meaningful ways.

The shared lunch together after Mass makes for a fine social hour with our home school friends.
Today's menu was pizza, lemonade & popsicles~thanks to Father Qui Thac.

Added entertainment today when the boys pretended to hunt the wandering deer who came near our picnic.

Someone named her "dinner."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Creek Creations 101
What could be better than several hours of free time, a nice day, a brother and a few friends with tools? Probably nothing if you ask Joseph! The "big muddy" across the street has become the site of a dam building project. (um, there is a small conflict here with Leave No Trace...)

What was once a free flowing portion of the creek is now slightly less free flowing due to the harvesting of local clay, the relocation of large stones, moss, and quite a few logs and sticks.

There are free flowing tracks leading from the front door to the boys' bathroom, even after the hose has been employed as the first level of defense against "big muddy invasion of home."

On another note, here's something you would hope NOT to overhear the boss dude-painter telling his worker dude-painter while they are working at your house, "Dude, you just can't be so worried about all those details... you are such an over-achiever!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Not Back to School~
Back to
The day always comes when the school buses (or "death wagons" as they are not-so-affectionately known by our young boys) roar by signaling the beginning of another school year. We have traditionally known this day as "not back to school day" and it reflects our deeply felt freedom as we continue to school-at-home.
Day 1 of our official homeschool year was a day heavy on the PE curriculum, with Peter and Joseph playing lacrosse, football, soccer, baseball, and Frisbee. Favorite quote from day 1 PE: "I stepped in a fresh pile!" (Yes, a pile of dog doo... which might send some of us running for
the bleach, but was merely something bearing mention when I checked up on their game.) NOTE: Soap and hot water were employed when the feet entered the house... after about 5 minutes of 'forgetting' about the fresh pile incident.
Zachary continued his daily cross country running practices at our local high school. The new sport has been both enjoyable and an excellent ongoing physical fitness opportunity.
Day 2 began with Joseph's motivated self-start on his math lesson before 7am. His goal was not only to complete his math lesson before breakfast, but to earn a trip to the local off-leash dog park this morning with his dog, Charlie.
Peter's first order of business, after a brief stop at the Lego bin, was to work on a Bear (Cub Scout) achievement by reading about an American Folk Hero. His choice: Daniel Boone.

Monday, September 1, 2008

91 years and counting...

My grandma is amazing!
As a belated celebration for her 91st birthday, we spent the night at Grandma's house on Sunday and attended the 8am daily mass at Holy Rosary together in West Seattle. Such a blessing to begin a day with grandma/great grandma at the house/table of our Lord! We met her daily mass friends, and had a nice breakfast out before heading to her house for a leisurely day of pear & strawberry harvesting. She read to us from an article entitled "Homesteaders' Daughter," which was written by Grandma's younger sister, Nona. The detailed account of their family's life and times in rural Barons, Alberta, BC, gave us a glimpse of the hardships and the simple pleasures of growing up on a farm in the early 1900's.

We shared our recent family history with Grandma in the form of a digital photo slide show from our summer adventures. We also showed DVD clips from Peter's "Rumpelstiltskin" performance.

Joseph was unable to join us, as he came down with a sore throat. Thankfully, Tim was able to stay home from work to look after Joseph, and our plans didn't suffer due to sickness. (But we did miss having the whole family along for the special event.)

Grandma sent us home with ample left-overs from a wonderful home-cooked meal, and with wonderful memories of a special day.