Sunday, July 29, 2012


There's just no way to get to everything these kids should be immersed in to get a Classical Education.  We don't have time for narration, to go sketching at the lake for nature studies, do extensive read-alouds with stimulating discussions afterward, or pore over maps.....every day or week.  But we do get to these things every once in a while.  One of the things I did put on both iPads is this very cool app that the kids love for competing against each other.....

The kids including Gabe and Jane have learned several facts about each country in the world including the locations of each country by continent.  They've learned bordering countries and how to identify them by shape.

Here's proof this app is amazing....

Gabe:  Mexico is playing Gabon in Soccer.
Me:  Where is Gabon?
Gabe:  (Gripping his head, closing his eyes, and finally saying)...It's near Equatorial Guinea.

And today as the US played Montenegro for water polo, I had no idea where Montenegro is.  You see, I didn't receive a classical education!  So the kids brought the iPad to show me on Stack the Countries what Montenegro looks like and where it is.  In case you don't know either, it is in southern Europe near Albania, Macedonia, and Greece.

So you see....Geography....check!  And I don't think you even need a tablet to play this game and its twin Stack the States.  You can play them right on your PC or laptop.  So go....go download it....figure out where all those cool countries are that you keep hearing about as you watch the Olympics.

And in case you're all tuckered out from the Olympics (how could you be?!), you can watch this video of Monica's recent piano recital.  She attended Northwestern College's Piano Institute this last week with a friend.  She had classes in music theory, improvisation, had private lessons, and practice time.  It was quite the experience on such a gorgeous campus.

And here are the other kids' recitals from July....just click on the links.

And I'm so excited for this....more details later!

This doesn't fit all of us.  But this and a couple of that will fit all of us!

I always loved playing house in our camping trailer as a kid.  For a kid, this is the best!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

State Soccer Championship

Well, it's been an awesome last few days.  Sunday, Monica's team started along their State journey to victory for the season.  They pulled off a 4-3 win over Waseca, MN which landed them in a Tuesday night game against Princeton.  They tied with Princeton 1-1, but because Waseca had beat Princeton earlier on the weekend, Princeton did not have enough points to advance.

Here's Monica hustling on the field.

Therefore, our team....The Huskies....advanced to the State Championship!!!!

That game was played tonight against Waconia.  Here they are at the line-up before the game.

The girls were super pumped for this game and fought hard all the way!

The girls actually tied for first place, but the referee was totally confused about the Huskies' second goal.  He called it off sides and recalled their goal.  With only 2 minutes for the game, Waconia walked away with the title.  However, it remains unclear what happened in the goal when we thought the girls had tied up the score.  Who knows?  The girls were very sad, but hey runner up is nothing to sneeze at!

It was an honor to advance this far, and they played their hearts out!  GO HUSKIES!!!!

Look at the smile on that kid...she loves it!!

Friends through thick and thin!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Multi-Tasker I Am Not

I have a lot to say and have been wanting to post about it, but I've been busy doing a lot of other things.  Reading has been occupying my time.  I believe that multi-tasking is a myth.  I am seriously only able to do one thing at a time.  That very much includes projects.  I either blog very consistently, read very consistently, knit very consistently, sew very consistently, or homemake very consistently.  However, I can do none of those things simultaneously.  I just can't.  When I blog, I really do very little else other than the day to day.  You might say, "Well, that's a lot right there."  However, in my feeble mind it is not.  I usually want to do it all and scheduling, for me, never seems to work.  I hope others understand this because I barely do myself!

In any case, Monica and Maria finished up with community theater.  Their play, Cookies and Crime, was a smashing success!  Several of their friends from the parish were also in the play.  I was so pleased with that because it meant collaborative carpools, socializing with homeschool and parish friends, and affirmation that memorization and acting can be good for the soul.  The girls played a bickering pair of elderly sisters working at a historical residence.  When a pair of fraudulent interior designers show up to update the house, things start to go awry.  The outcomes are a couple of unexplainable deaths until the elderly sisters solve the crime and stop the thieves from making out with famous artwork hidden in the house.  For all of us parents, most of the fun was in seeing all of these very quiet kids doing an amazing job stepping into character and giving us all quite a laugh.  Many of our friends couldn't believe that our "quiet" girls could play such roles.  I think the crew did a fantastic job with their makeup.  No one could tell who they were!

Effie and Ellie Crabtree

We are now officially a crazy soccer family.  Much to our surprise Monica's team won their District games and were declared District Soccer Champions!  On Tuesday evening we had a double header....Maria had her summer concert for GTCYS at Como Park Pavilion and Monica had her regional playoff game in Hugo.  Monica's team won again!  Now they are Regional Soccer Champions and are off to state this weekend.  Sunday they play their first State game in Lakeville.  If they win, they play Princeton (a team they lost to early in the season) on Tuesday.  If they win that game, they play Wednesday for the State Championship!!!  This is all very exciting to say the least.  And all of this from this little gal....

Monica walking in the St. Anthony Days Parade - Soccer 2007
Getting back to Maria's concert....that was a real treat!  Many times we have been walking at Como Park only to be serenaded by a summer concert.  Never did we think we would be attending one in which one of our kids would be performing!  The grandparents were very proud indeed.

It's always good to invite Grandparents!  Lucas's head was in the way.:(
Maria was in the flute section which happened to be in the very back of the orchestra.  That was disappointing not to get any pictures of her actually playing.  However, I did catch her getting on and off the stage.

Clothespins helped to keep the sheet music down during the breezy concert!

There she is behind the myriad of violinists!  A typical orchestra!

Catching her leaving the stage
Since the concert and the regional soccer game, I've been reading several books in anticipation for the next school year.  And I managed to catch a cold which has had me down the last couple of days!  With all the running around for the kids and staying up to read it's no wonder my immune system is down.  I'm a singular success even at getting sick!

Here's what I've been reading.....

All of these books are pretty amazing.  I go in spurts with reading, too.  When I'm reading, I love it.  I can't seem to stop reading.  And it seems that every book I read always has a sweet know, that spot that you get to where you just can't put the book down.  You try to stop at the end of a chapter, but you find yourself reading those first few sentences of the next one.  Three chapters later, you realize it's a quarter to midnight!!  Oh, wait.  That's just me.  Or is it you, too?  I remember going to bed very late only to be stopped on the way to my room by my dad's clip light on his headboard still on with a book lying open across his chest, mouth agape, and totally snoring as if on a third dream.  I wonder if he ever woke up in the middle of the night to turn the light out, get a bookmark, and tuck himself into bed?  Maybe it was something in each book that gave him the peace of mind to just rest his eyes a bit only to wake him fully refreshed in the morning.  Who knows.  I guess, like daughter!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In The Heat Of It

Today was sweltering!  To top it all off, Monica is in the middle of Soccer playoffs.  She had a game this afternoon at one o'clock.  It was so hot!!

Here are a few shots I took at a game she had earlier this week.  She really loves playing soccer, but today she wasn't on top of her game.  She kept missing balls and kicking randomly whenever she did connect with it.  I think it was the heat affecting her.  She even said she spent most of the game standing on the field in the sun.  She felt she really didn't contribute to the game at all.  I told her not to take it so hard.  I think it was quite the effort to show up an hour before the game and make it to two extra practices this week.  Thankfully, they won today in spite of the heat.

Daddy is off tomorrow morning at 7:00AM for a nine o'clock game.  Monica made the decision to miss a team pool party this afternoon in order to attend five o'clock Mass.  It was either that or miss the game tomorrow morning.  She didn't even flinch with that decision.  She knows Mass is a priority so that was a no-brainer!

This is the neighbor girl Monica recruited for the team.  I love this shot!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blueberry Busy

I'm just today getting to the processing of the blueberries.  I washed some of them, dried them, and placed them on a cookie sheet.  That's how I freeze them before bagging them up for the winter.

Maria helped me get this shot while I was rinsing the berries.  She's a sponge when it comes to remembering details.  I'm so glad she attended the photography class with me!

TV mode
1/200 of a second

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blueberry Picking

Raspberry and strawberry seasons are over, but now it's blueberry season here in Minnesota.  I've been waiting for the perfect morning to take some of the kids to gather a nice stash of blueberries for freezing.  I decided to try picking at Bauer Berry Farm in Champlin.  It's not close, but the price was better than going into Washington County for berry picking.  I checked the farm's website, and their second picking was scheduled for this morning.  I took three of the kids with me.

I think we picked close to 8 lbs. of blueberries.  I'll use a few now and freeze the rest.  As for the AC problem I spoke of a few days ago, the technician was able to come out this morning.  Turns out the whole unit needs to be replaced.  That will be a hefty bill so I'm trying to get my head wrapped around maybe going without.  Honestly, the super hot days are so few here in MN that some people just don't use their AC.  Daddy didn't grow up with it so I wonder if we could do the same now.  Problem is it is hard to get motivated when you're so hot you feel lethargic.  Then again maybe that's God's way of saying we can take a break or at least get out of the house and get into an air conditioned place.  Last week, we hung out at the library and made a couple trips to Costco.  The kids went to a swimming party and took showers and baths before going to bed on several of the hotter nights.  They've been drinking lots of water.  All of these are good things.  I don't know.  Daddy's pretty set on replacing the unit, but we have to figure out when.  For today the weather is cooler, but this weekend should be unbearably hot again.  I am still running the fans and keeping the windows open.  Maybe I can get used to NO AC.  I think at the very least I'm willing to try.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Picnic and Cookies

We went back to the regional park we visited yesterday for our evening bike ride.  We just had to.  It was the perfect setting for a picnic so we headed out after Mass and a few chores.  I pushed Daddy to get the fishing poles ready for use.  He resisted but after a little persuasion, he was able to get four poles ready for the kids.

I put together a picnic lunch of chicken and bacon pasta salad, grapes, carrots, PB & J sandwiches, crackers, chocolate chip cookies, and iced tea.  The kids enjoyed getting the poles out and fishing from the dock using corn for bait.  It was a quick 10 minute ride to the park, and then a gorgeous 2 hours in an idyllic setting.

Oh, and I almost forgot, we did make cookies for a couple occasions last week.  The girls brought back a cute little Schoenstatt Shrine cookie cutter from summer camp.  Monica baked these cookies and decorated them as soon as she was able after camp week.

Monica added a few little green details for the ivy that usually grows on the façades of the shrines worldwide.
4th of July Cookies for a Florida friend

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Saturday

The heat finally broke last evening with a torrential rain that cooled everything off.  We were able to clean our house this morning with all the windows open and the fans going.  It was a glorious reprieve from the heat of the week.  Daddy had a salmon fillet that was hungry for the grill so I decided to make a little surprise side dish....

hot German potato salad!

Here's the recipe for this easy and super yummy dish...

3 c. cooked, diced potatoes
4 slices bacon
1 small onion (diced)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2-3 T. water
2 T. dark brown sugar
1 t. salt
fresh ground pepper
parsley (I used Italian flat leaf parsley because it's what I had!)

Cover the potatoes with water and boil for 10 minutes until fork tender, yet firm.  Set aside.  Fry up the bacon until cooked.  Remove from the pan and sauté the diced onion in the bacon fat.  When the onion is soft and glassy, add in the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper.  Stir mixture until it is thick and warm.  Remove mixture from the heat.  Add in the potatoes and a few leaves of chopped parsley....fresh is best!  Toss to coat and serve warm or at room temperature.

Monica has been waiting to bake, and we had a large container of fresh strawberries.  She decided to make Strawberry Shortcakes.  The kitchen smelled heavenly!  Daddy has never had homemade Strawberry shortcakes so he was in for a real treat.

After dinner, we headed out for a bike ride.  We live in a great neighborhood surrounded by several parks.   The most recently updated one is a regional park that surrounds one of the lakes.  It has newly paved bike and hiking trails, art classes, a nicely mowed seating area for summer concerts, and a gorgeous pavilion that was being used for a wedding reception.  It really is a gem of a park!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's So Hot!

We've had a record number of 100 degree days here in the Twin Cities.  It's been close to 98 in the shade and 113 in our car/garage!  Typically, I don't complain.  We spend our time at the wading pool or lakeside.  We have ceiling fans and AC.  However, our AC is currently not working.  The unit's motor is running outside, but the part near the furnace downstairs is frozen thus causing zero cool air flow.  We called Xcel Energy this morning, but they can't send a technician out until Tuesday.  It was 90 degrees at 10PM last evening.  And, of course, life doesn't stop.  We celebrated the 4th by making a cooler type meal before heading out for fireworks.

Basil Pesto I made with pecans instead of pine nuts....sometimes I have to improvise!

The kids' favorite pasta dish....Basil Pesto, spaghetti noodles, and grilled chicken breast.
After dinner we headed out to see the Minneapolis fireworks from the vantage point of the Stone Arch Bridge.  We brought our camp chairs, popsicles, a deck of cards, and the camera.

Beautiful clouds and a beautiful skyline!

35W was all lit up for the 4th, and a beautiful full moon stared at us from above.

Now, I'm going back downstairs where it's cooler and think of penguins, icebergs, and the rest of the North Pole while I finish quilting.  I can't wait to show you that project!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

The kids enjoyed a drink of Colonial Raspberry Shrub on the deck after Mass this morning.  Here's the recipe!

Have a Happy & Safe 4th!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Weekending Minnesota Style

We headed out early Saturday morning with our hats and containers.

The bushes were fierce with thorns, and the mosquitoes were hungry....for blood!

Berry stains....not blood.
It was so worth it, though!

And when we arrived back home, I noticed the hibiscus has started to bloom again.  I love that plant!

And today was a beach day....a lazy, sandy beach day.

You can never be too safe even if at the water's edge!:)

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