Friday, July 31, 2015

We're Back!

 We made it!

12 states and almost 3000 miles!

Lots of driving!
Lots of time together in the car.

8 people,

2 kazoos,

dozens of audiobooks,

7 motels.

It was fabulous!  More blog posts and many more pictures to come!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Off We Go Again

We just got back from the beach, but we are headed off on a truly epic road trip!

By epic, I mean we'll see at least 9 and as many as 11 states!

We are going to Arkansas to visit our much beloved Grammy Ann, Aunt Toni, and family.  We plan to drive out in 4 days, stopping at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, and seeing  Fr. Mark in Memphis (he's driving up from New Orleans).  We should make it back in three days, and, on the way back, we'll see Fr. Joe in his new digs in Missouri!  We'll cross the mighty Mississippi twice!!

That's in excess of 25,000  miles (40,000 km) and 40 hours (6, 000 years) on the road!

At each stopping place, we've reserved two hotel rooms, one for our four teen children, and the other for the other half of the family.  I can't wait to say that out loud to the hotel people.

We are going electronics free, so I won't be blogging about the trip till we get home late next week.

But you still can't break into our house since Ami will be here.  I know, it's a great disappointment!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Poem of the Week

The Country Of Marriage


I dream of you walking at night along the streams
of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs
of birds opening around you as you walk.
You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep.


This comes after silence. Was it something I said
that bound me to you, some mere promise
or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death?
A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,
like the earth's empowering brew rising
in root and branch, the words of a dream of youI did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer
who feels the solace of his native land
under his feet again and moving in his blood.
I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped
my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss
that lay before me, but only the level ground.


Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.


How many times have I come to you out of my head
with joy, if ever a man was,
for to approach you I have given up the light
and all directions. I come to you
lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend
slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace
in you, when I arrive at last.


Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We don't know what its limits are--
that puts us in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always
leading me back. More blessed in you than I know,
I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing
not belittled by my saying that I possess it.
Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing
a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only
accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light
enough to live, and then accepts the dark,
passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I
have fallen tine and again from the great strength
of my desire, helpless, into your arms.


What I am learning to give you is my death
to set you free of me, and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.


I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark,
containing darkness: a night of rain, an early morning.
I give you the life I have let live for the love of you:
a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road,
the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life
that we have planted in the ground, as I
have planted mine in you. I give you my love for all
beautiful and honest women that you gather to yourself
again and again, and satisfy--and this poem,
no more mine than any man's who has loved a woman.

By Wendell Berry

HT: Poem Hunter

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Even More Beach Fun

 We visited the light house and had fun straddling the state lines.

We made the much anticipated run to Candy Kitchen, an enormous candy store with an unbelievable variety (as in several hundred kinds) of candy. 

The Zoomlians each pick out three kinds, and then spend the rest of the week swapping and eating candy.

Choclo got his favorite gummy penguins!

Wax bottles, pixi sticks, and candy legos are other sine qua nons.

 We also went to my very favorite mini golf ever!

It's an indoor course with an under sea theme.  I haven't been there in years, so I was very pleased to find it not only operational, but meticulously well maintained.

It's such a quirky fun course, playing through sunken ships, submarines (top and bottom decks), and reefs populated by moving sea creatures like this eel about to pounce on poor unsuspecting Choclo (but he still sank his putt!).

I was having such a great time, I forgot to take pictures (these are courtesy of the Emperor), but one thing that I love is that the floor is covered with sea shells placed in swirling designs when the cement was wet.

Friday, July 17, 2015

More Beach Fun

 So, what have we been doing besides getting wet and sandy (and pedaling a giant surrey until our legs fell off)?

I'm so glad you asked!

We've been lolling about relaxing a lot. 

Honestly, it's amazingly restful and more vacationy when the kids are old enough to amuse themselves.

I remember so many of those early "vacations" (when all the kids were little) felt much less restful than staying home. 

Now I'm so glad we persevered!

We've been reading, playing with legos, checking Facebook, watching movies together. 

Have you run into Earnest and Celestine?  We were quite charmed!

 And we visited The Sea Shell Shop where we added to our shell collection (an enormous sand dollar, several spiky shells, and an echidna).

Choclo found this silly shark hat.

The Emperor was nearly strangled by a really magnificent octopus (spoiler alert: they both survived).

 Plus, we got 5 kinds of fudge! Dark chocolate, orange creamsicle, mint chocolate, chocolate vanilla swirl, and ameretto chocolate.
 The oldest three Zoomlians decided to spend a chunk of their hard earned money going parasailing!

Alas, they got rained out, and had to try another day, but they did have a fun boat ride!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mxyl!

Mxyl is an adult!

18 years ago, they handed me a teeny tiny baby (about the size of Mxyl's foot) and I wondered if they were going to leave us alone with him.

I mean, what if something happened?  Shouldn't there be a responsible adult around just in case?

Oh, wait.  We were the responsible adults now!

We were his parents.  Which made him our guinea pig child.  Or, possibly, we were his guinea pig parents.

If you've had kids, you know: you want to be the most perfect parents ever for this precious child.  That's when you realize how imperfect you are.

And you want the world to be a better place.  A perfect place, for this brand new person.
Eighteen years later, eighteen years of love. laughter, and a few tears, the world is still not the perfect place I would like for my newly minted young man.

But it is a better place because he's in it.

Congratulations Mxyl!

And, hey, at least for this birthday, the cake wasn't a lie.

18 Great Things About Mxyl

1.He knows a lot of Japanese.
1. He thinks of other people first.
2. He's one board of review from being an Eagle Scout.
3. He can do all kinds of computer animation.
3. He can boogie board.
4. He's an alcolyte (a senior altar server who directs and helps the younger servers).
5. He's good at Portal.
5. He has a katana and he knows how to use it!
6. He is very kind and loving (Oob).
7. He is always fun to be with (Choclo).
8. He's pretty awesome (Leena).
9. He's never wrong (Zorg).
10. He can talk about Ultraman with me for hours (Klenda).
11. He knows a lot about Ultraman.
11. He can say cool Japanese things like, "People of Earth, all the Universes are my stuff!"(which sounds much cooler in Japanese).
12. He really likes Plato and Aristotle.
13. He likes to talk philosophy, apologetics, and politics, sometimes all at the same time!
13. He can set up our TV/DVD stuff (which is more than I can do).
14. He can do all kinds of special effects.
15.  He's a great photographer- he has "The Eye."
15. He cheerfully helps out whenever he sees there's a need.
16. He does a great three point landing.
17. He's a good rock climber.
17. He loves the sacraments.
18. He's an adult!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Poem of the Week

Psalm 107 23-32 
Some went down to the sea in ships, 
doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the LORD, 
his wondrous works in the deep.
For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down
       to the depths; 
their courage melted away in their evil plight; 
they reeled and staggered like drunken men
and were at their wits' end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He made the storm be still,
and the waves of the sea were hushed. 
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
and he brought them to their desired haven. 
Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

(Psalm 107:23-32 ESV)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Visit to NJ

 I had a lovely visit with my folks last week.

They seem to be over run with wild creatures, lately.  When I was a kid, we rarely saw wild turkeys, and never saw chicks.  This little flock was sauntering lazily across the road.

 I helped my Mom pack up bunches of church things to go to my sister in Ghana.  Here we are packing up an altar!  Mostly we are sending smaller things like vestments and altar linens.  These are all from churches being closed, or surplus from storage that parishes have decided to donate.

And I got to do some fishing with my Dad.

I love fishing!

I just don't like to catch anything.  As my other sister put it: who wants a fish stuck on the hook?  You have to take it off.  It's uncomfortable for me, it's uncomfortable for the fish, who wants that?

That sound you heard was my Dad, rolling his eyes.

We were fishing at dusk on the still lake, and it felt like we were fishing in the sky.

So beautiful!
Mumpy and Pa also sent home a train set which someone had passed on to them.  It turned out to have two remote controlled trains!

Choclo and Oob are over the moon!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What I Love About Home Schooling

I was tidying up my office and I came across this page, done by Oob earlier this year when he was 7.

Did he fill in the blanks as the workbook intended?  Nope.

Still, the point of the worksheet was to get the kid to write, and he wrote more than if he had followed the scripted answers!

I would say he demonstrated flexible thinking.

Besides which, this kid cracks me up!!

You have to read the last one with a dramatic pause: Lando is killed by Darth Vader...or is he?!

I had forgotten that Oob went through a phase where, after most declarative sentences, he gave a melodramatic pause... or did he?!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Delivery Problem

Acted, filmed, and directed by Choclo, produced and edited by Leena.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Poem of the Week

America, The Beautiful

by Katharine Lee Bates – 1913

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America! God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine!

O Beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

HT: USA Flag Site

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Mxyl, Zorg and The Emperor came back from camp today and it's the birthday of our country - lots to celebrate!

We're having rain, lightning, and thunder on and off, so I think our fireworks will be of the natural variety this year.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Ocean Project, Part the Second

 After cutting and coloring ocean creatures, I remembered that we had loads of actual ocean things in the museum.

I pulled them out and cleared some space.

I love having a corner for exploring with a magnifying glass!
 And here's where things started to get silly.

You may recall that I like to have ocean creatures hanging on my ceiling.

Well, I still do. 

I wonder what the Emperor and the boys will think of this when they get back?

I love the angler fish!

There's also an eel, a kind of creepy jellyfish, and a rather sad looking blue whale (not to scale).

Oh yes, and an actual puffer fish  hanging from the ceiling (not too close to any of the balloon animals).

 And, if you're wondering, we also did the penguin tea party!

Who let that shark in there?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Ocean Project, Part the First

With the Emperor and the older boys off at camp, I polled the rest of the kids: what would be your perfect day?

I got all sorts of answers: eating pizza, time with me, uninterrupted time to work on an audiobook,  a penguin tea party, doing the ocean project. 

The ocean project? 

It took me a while, but this was what they meant!  It's a porthole made of two paper plates.

You spray paint  the back of one plate, then cut out the center.

We used watercolor on the background plate, then filled it with stickers of sea creatures and tissue paper seaweed.

 Then we arranged them as portholes along the wall. 

Super cute and easy peasy!

 Maybe too easy, they wanted more!

I printed out creatures to cut and color from Learning Page.

Learning page actually has a printable mural background, but our walls are already blue.

Also, we were more interested in making the creatures we liked the colors we liked than slavish accuracy a more realistic approach.

By now we were having too much fun to stop... but I'll tell you about that tomorrow!