Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Newest Music Venture

On the way home from our family reunion in Pennsylvania, I received an email about a beginner orchestra starting up within reasonable traveling distance. I had been looking forward to an opportunity for Sophie to begin playing in an orchestra, knowing that the social experience and the challenge of playing with a group would encourage her to continue with cello. At first I was very interested in the orchestra, because of its location and the originally-stated evening rehearsal. However, my enthusiasm become somewhat dampened when the time got changed to a school day morning

Why, oh why do so many HOMEschool activities get scheduled so as to interrupt HOMEschooling?!!!!

...and now you know my basic approach to homeschooling. I am not a go-with-the-flow homeschool mom that sees life and all of its interruptions as educational. I have found in my family that if schoolwork doesn't get done on a regular basis during the morning and a good chunk of the afternoon, it is very easy to get derailed and not get it done adequately.

But I digress... I decided to try attending the first day of orchestra to see how it would go. Thankfully, James had the day off from work and was able to supervise the boys while I chauffuered Sophie. It was a brutal day. Two hours of driving: back and forth to the orchestra, and then back and forth to Sophie's cello lesson. I had all but decided that I couldn't handle it, but I prayed about it while driving, and surprisingly (to me) the cello teacher was able to reschedule Sophie's cello lesson for the half hour before orchestra with a fifteen minute break to jaunt the few blocks over to the rec center for rehearsal! Additionally, the conductor, more of a winds guy, recruited me to help the cellists.

Sophie and I have now been to three orchestra rehearsals while Grandma (James' mom) supervises the boys so that the older boys can focus on their schoolwork instead of tagging along. Sophie willingly practices a lot more and is quickly learning how to read bass clef applied to cello. (She already read bass clef for piano, but she hadn't gotten far enough with the Suzuki method to get to sight reading for cello.) The cello section is quite small, only three young cellists, but I play along in order to help them. Since the orchestra also includes winds and brass, some of the music is really a bit too difficult for a truly beginner orchestra. It really is not ideal. However, since I can help Sophie on a daily basis, she can keep up relatively well, enough that I think it is a beneficial experience.

The Most Important Issues In This Election

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuscan Country Dinner

In order to participate in The Nourishing Gourmet's Fall Recipe Carnival, I am reposting this recipe that I put together last year. My friend Colleen came up with the name. My family has enjoyed this meal several times at home and I have shared it at a brunch.


* 1 pkg. chicken apple sausage (I like Applegate Farms brand the best.)
* 1/4 - 1/2 pkg. bacon or turkey bacon (I used Hormel bacon that says gluten free on the label. Jennie-O turkey bacon which is also gluten free, would be another option if you have to concern yourself with such things.)
* 1/2 onion
* 2 bunches Swiss chard or green chard
* 1/4 cup water

* 1 yam
* 1 head cauliflower
* 2-4 red peppers
* olive oil
* dried rosemary
* garlic powder
* salt
* pepper


1. Preheat oven to 450
2. Peel the yam and cut into bite-sized pieces. Fill a saucepan partway with water and bring to a boil with the yam. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 10-15 minutes until yam is tender but not mushy, then drain.
3. While the yam is cooking, break the cauliflower into florets, discarding the large stem, and cut the peppers into bite-sized chunks.
4. Combine the yam, cauliflower, and pepper pieces in a large shallow roasting pan without the rack. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with spices to taste. (I did not measure spice amounts; just sprinked.)
5. Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes. The vegetables will brown nicely. Don't be afraid of some blackened spots here and there. :)
6. Wash and tear the chard, setting aside.
7. While the veggies are roasting, dice the onion and bacon and fry in a large skillet over medium heat until browned. Cut the sausage into rounds while the bacon and onions cook, adding the sausage when the bacon is just about done to brown it slightly.
8. Add the chard to the skillet and toss with the meat mixture. Add the water. Cover and simmer for ~10 minutes.
9. When the veggies are roasted, add them to the skillet. Mix well and serve. If your skillet is not large enough, add the sausage and chard to the roasting pan instead to serve.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

More Snapshots from Our Family Reunion

My cousin Julie, her daughter Molly, and my sister Jackie

Picture by Jackie of her daughter Lily with Sophie

Uncle Craig discussing politics with Logan: "Good guy. Bad guy."

View of James and Sophie from the roof

My sister Jen and her youngest son Oren

My sister Loey with Jackie's son Noah and Jen's son Seb


Friday, October 17, 2008

"...And May You See Your Children's Children['s Children]"

My grandmothers live right across the hall from each other in the Home where my mom is the chief administrator. We enjoyed visiting with both of my grandmas during our recent trip east.

Grandma Jennie

Grandma Jennie and Grandma Nadzieja admiring Sophie's artwork

Posing with my sisters Jackie and Jen and my grandmas

...and on a different day.

With my sister Loey and my grandmas

Grandma Jennie with my kids, Loey's daughter Ana and my cousin Julie's baby Molly


Monday, October 13, 2008

Grandma Nadzieja's 90th Birthday


Here is my beautiful 90 year old Grandma Nadzieja enjoying the Open House in her honor at the Home. (She is sitting with my sister, Jen, as well as Evan and Matthew.) The evening before, all of her visiting relatives gathered for dinner, entertainment, and fond reminiscence.

All pictures below courtesy of photographer Matthew David Carter:

Grandma with her children (left to right) Rosalie, Bob, Margaret (my mom), David & Barbara

Grandma with her children, grandchildren & great grandchildren (only one grandchild and his family were not present)

My parents Bruce & Margie

My own family

My sister Loey with husband Craig and children Anastasia & James

My sister Jen with husband Brian and children Seb & Oren

My sister Jackie with husband Luke and children Noah & Lily

Friday, October 10, 2008

Goodbye Aunt Gerry

Here is a different family reunion picture from the 1980's, showing my dad's parents with their three children and families. On the way home from the reunion of my mom's family last week, we got the news that my Aunt Gerry, pictured third from the left in the top row, had died in her sleep after suffering for two years with ALS.

Aunt Gerry's memorial service was held on Wednesday of this week. We were not mourning for her, because she is with Jesus her Savior and is no longer suffering, but we grieved together, because she will be greatly missed.

We will especially be keeping her mother, her brother, her husband Alan, and her children, Tammy, Laurel, and Rick and their families in our prayers. They have always been a tightly knit family, which is a blessing in that they have many good memories, but also makes her loss very difficult.

Aunt Gerry and my cousin Tammy in 2006

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Family Reunion Pictures

After driving over 3,000 miles and traveling through eleven different states, we arrived home on Saturday from my Grandma Nadzieja's 90th birthday celebration in Pennsylvania. Over sixty of her relatives reunited to celebrate, including people from Canada, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. All ten of my parent's grandchildren were in the same place at the same time for the first time.

The shot with the most smiles
(Noah is smiling because he has gum on his teeth. He looks like he is saying: "Cheese Gromit!")




In the tree"house" that Grandpa Bruce (my dad) built


With Grandma Margie

More pictures to come...

h/t to Jackie for the state stats.