August 31, 2008

Now THIS is Classic Brilliance!

I once heard that criminals are actually really stupid people. You hear stories about an idiot robbing a bank and the teller saying she can't get the money out of the safe without a driver's liscense and the brilliant scholar hands theirs over. But this time it happened to Aragorn (he was the victim not the criminal).

Aragorn had bought some item from eBay which came not working (*surprise*). So he sent it back. Finally after months the man finally replies to one of many emails saying he didn't have an address to mail the refund to. He continues by brilliantly saying, "I didn't know your address so I *mailed* a letter explaining this to you."

Then he proceeded to ask for our address........ brilliance at its finest.

I Hate Politics But...

The Huffington Post
...this is my kind of politics! Baby-wearing while signing a bill ... I love it!! Read this quote:

"Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed."
The Huffington Post.

Last Days of Summer


Entrance to the girls Forts.

The "Fire" Place

Rosie's Fort

The Boys' Fort is not on the good old Terra Firma but up in a tree.

Monkey Frodo

Galadriel on the Boys' Fort Ladder

Frodo up in the tree fort. The boys made this by criss crossing branches with the crooks in this double or triple grown tree. Pretty clever.
Bee Keeping

I bought Aragorn a new bee keeping outfit for his Birthday way back when. So, this day he convinced me to wear his old one and go check out the bees.

The Stay Puff Marshmallow Man and the Michelan Man at the beehives.

These bees go in and out of this hole. Interestingly, bees actually have guards at their doors.

Bees forming honey comb.

Not a great pictures but if you enlarge it you can see this layer nearly solid with busy bees.

As you can see some hives are much better than others. These have grown quite a bit already!

This hive was set out right on the path as that is where the swarm was. Since it's doing alright we just left it there.
Long Overdue Picture

Rosie's First Holy Communion was in May but I finally got a picture of her. The dress was made by a friend of mine, it was really beautiful.

I forgot to have her don the gloves though! Bummer!
Bilbo in a Basket

Thumbsucker! He likes to fiddle with a blanket while he sucks his thumbe. 7 out of 9 of our children were thumbsuckers, only Rosie and Merry never sucked a thumb. A note on Thumbsucking: with Pippin I had read that you can wean a baby from his thumb at 6 months so for funsies I tried it. The drawback was he stopped sleeping through the night. There has to be a fine line between being 6m and being 5 years old and stopping the thumb sucking... I always miss that line!

Bilbo really enjoys being utterly spoiled by his siblings, no one minds trying to keep this busy boy a little baby.
Bread, Butter and Jelly
We've been busy making jelly. So far we've done several batches of Apple Jelly and several batches of Plum. Not much beats fresh homemade bread, butter and newly made jelly.
Cider Press
Aragorn came up with the idea to try a cider press (tarnal fool contraption... if you have ever read "Fields of Home" *snicker*) this year since we have so many (ugly) apples.
Sam is really enjoying making cider. I thought it was alright but everyone else really liked it.
Hurricane Bilbo
After ransacking the ziplocs, plastic wrap and tin foil drawer, Bilbo heads for the next handy cupboard.

Even babies like babies, what is the matter with adults?
School begins full force on Tuesday September 2nd. It'll prove to be a very busy year.... what else is new? But I'd rather be busy with my two hands nearly full than live a dull life without the joy and humor of children!

August 29, 2008

Beheading of St. John the Baptist

And Herodias' own daughter having come in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests.
It's *this kind* of dancing that St. John Vianney spoke vehemently against. Click here to read his Be Religious or Be Damned!
"I want thee right away to give me on a dish the head of John the Baptist." And grieved as he was (*for he knew*), the king, because of his oath and his guests, was unwilling to displease *her*. (man cannot serve both God and man... or woman)
But sending an executioner, he commanded that his head be brought on a dish.
Then he beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a dish, and gave it to the girl and the girl gave it to her mother.

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

August 28, 2008


Pippin was holding a giant zucchini and jumping around babbling something over and over. Finally I got him to speak "clearly": Da-ter Dared wants teenies!
(Fr. Jared wants Zucchinis.)
I really find it ironic that these would be considered "teenies".

Boys' Lesson Plans 2008-2009

Samwise is in 7th grade:
Religion: Seton 7, Christ in Promise (Neumann Press) and OLVS Study of the Traditional Latin Mass, Saint books
Math: Math U See (possibly Teaching Textbooks)
English: Lingua Mater, Diagramming
Dyslexia & Reading: LDCoach MELT Techniques, Ron Davis' Gift of Dyslexia Program, Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Door in the Wall
Vocabulary: Book of Roots (which coincides with the Latin course)
Spelling: Spelling Power and/or Phonetic Zoo
Handwriting: Copywork, Handwriting Without Tears Review
Science: Astronomy and the old Mr. Wizard shows
History and Geography: Maps G, Voyages in History
Language: Latina Christiana I, LC-I Activities book, Spanish
Health and Manners: PACE
Art and Music: Piano, Seton Art 7, Seton Drawing DVDs, Draw Write Now 7, Singing and Famous Composers, Art Pac 7

Frodo is in 3rd grade:
Religion: Seton 3, God's Truths Help Us Live (Neumann Press) and OLVS Study of the Traditional Latin Mass
Math: Saxon Math 3
English: Primary Language Lessons, Diagramming
Reading: This is Our Family, These are Our Friends
Phonics: Little Angels
Spelling: Phonics Words, Super Speller and/or Phonetic Zoo
Handwriting: Seton 3 and Copywork
Science: Exploring God's Creation and the old Mr. Wizard shows
History and Geography: Maps B and C, Seton 3
Language: Latin's Not So Tough, Spanish
Health and Manners: PACE
Art and Music: Piano, Seton Art 3, Seton Drawing DVDs, Draw Write Now 3, Singing and Famous Composers, Art Pac 3

St. Augustine

"You have made us for Yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee."

August 26, 2008


A good friend of mine asked about the PACE program I mentioned in the lesson plans below so I thought I'd take a few minutes to explain it.
PACE is the abbreviation for Program for Achieving Character Education by M. Monica Speach

This curriculum uses as it's basis William J. Bennett's The Book of Virtues and The Moral Compass to give moral lessons to help develop a good character in children. The curriculum is mostly geared towards children up through grade 6 however, the stories can be enjoyed by children up to the age of 110. I'm not quite 110 but I love reading stories with a purpose, with a good moral or lesson.

This program covers ten virtues/topics:
Self-discipline, Work, Perseverance, Faith/Trust, Compassion, Friendship, Courage, Loyalty, Responsibility and Honest. Each topic is covered with a series of lessons:

1. Quotations. Little short quips and quotes that are easy to remember and memorize but leave a lasting impression. Aesop's "Actions speak louder than words." or the Holy Bible "Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good." Since I'm a lover of short snappy quotes, this is one thing that sold me on this!

2. Definition: Learn what the virute is

3. Stories: read from the Book of Virtues and the Moral Compass

4. Bible: read stories from the Holy Bible about people who exhibited virtuous behaviour.

5. Mary, the Saints and the Virtues: read about Our Lady and Saints who either lived or struggled with these virtues

6. Recommended Books: Free reading, stories that support the virtue studied, long lists are given by age level.

7. Discussion: carrying on a conversation about the virtues, books read, history discovered

8. Writing: Writing about the virtue. This is based on the discussion or on any points covered. Once a child can verbalize what he wants to say, writing it is just putting those well put together thoughts on paper.

9. Enrichment: Art, Music, Nature/Science, Classroom Projects

10. How to Practice This Virtue: I love this section. There is a lengthy list of suggestions for how to practice each virtue. There is no sense in studying virtue if we have no intention to put it into practice. The virtues are for us; they are the means to our Sanctification. There is a lovely verse that I just love and that is "to hear the word of God and keep it". We "keep it" by living the virtues of course anyone who knows me, esp my Confessor could tell you that I'm not quite (any where near) to the point of virtue so this course is not just for the children but for the teacher as well!

Sorry I cannot remember where I purchased this as it was a couple/few years ago! I'm just getting to it now (sad but true!)

School Year 2008-2009

In a recent conversation with fellow bloggers, the topic of curriculums came up and it was suggested that we post what books we are using for our school year.

The name of our school is "Saints Philip Neri and John Vianney Academy" St. Philip for his joyful spirit and St. John Vianney for his brilliance, I love his writings! Both saints are so funny too.

Since I have 6 in school this year plus 3 tots I'll just post the girls' subjects today, the boys' subjects another day and the tots another day. I do combine some subjects sometimes. I did not include Physical Education as they are constantly playing playground games, climbing trees, riding bikes and other physical education skills. I also haven't posted the free reading books as I'm still looking at those and we have a decent size library for their constant perusal.
Galadriel is in 6th grade:
Religion: Seton 6, Our Faith God's Gift (Neumann Press) and OLVS Study of the Traditional Latin Mass, Saint books (Vision, Mary Fabyn Windeatt, etc...)
Math: Teaching Text Books 5 or 6
English: Intermediate Language Lessons, Diagramming
Reading: Faith and Freedom This is our Heritage and Book of Valor, Free Reading (very avid reader)
Vocabulary: Book of Roots (which coincides with the Latin course)
Spelling: Spelling Power and/or Phonetic Zoo
Handwriting: Copywork
Science: Zoology 1 - Flying Creatures and the old Mr. Wizard shows
History and Geography: Maps F, Voyages in History (I chose this one as I love the way it is written, as a story, my children remember stories)
Language: Latina Christiana I, LC-I Activities book, Spanish
Health and Manners: PACE
Art and Music: Piano, Seton Art 6, Seton Drawing DVDs, Draw Write Now 6, Singing and Famous Composers, Art Pac 6 (yes we like artsy things so figure they can do something fun every day)

Rosie is in 2nd grade:
Religion: Seton 2, Jesus Comes (Neumann Press) and Come to Mass (TLM study)
Math: Saxon 2
English: Primary Language Lessons, Voyages in English 2
Reading: Faith and Freedom This is Our Family, etc...
Phonics and Vocabulary: Little Angel Phonics
Spelling: Phonics Words (just take them from what she is learning)
Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears Printing Power, Seton 2 Handwriting and Copywork
Science: Seton 2 and the old Mr. Wizard shows
History and Geography: Maps A, Young Catholics 2, Our Father's World
Language: Latin's Not So Tough, Spanish
Health and Manners: PACE
Art and Music: Piano, Seton Art 2, Seton Drawing DVDs, Draw Write Now 2, Singing, Art Pac 2

Eowyn is in 5th grade:
Religion: Seton 5, Living Like Christ in Christ (Neumann Press) and OLVS Study of the Traditional Latin Mass, Saint books (Vision, Mary Fabyn Windeatt, etc...)
Math: Math U See Beta, Gamma
English: Intermediate Language Lessons, Diagramming
Reading: Faith and Freedom These are Our People, Book of Gratitude, Free Reading (exceedingly avid reader)
Phonics and Vocabulary: Seton Phonics 5 and Book of Roots (which coincides with the Latin course)
Spelling: Super Speller, Spelling Power and/or Phonetic Zoo
Handwriting: Seton 5 Handwriting and Copywork
Science: Zoology 1 - Flying Creatures and the old Mr. Wizard shows
History and Geography: Maps E, Voyages in History
Language: Latina Christiana I, LC-I Activities book, Spanish
Health and Manners: PACE
Art and Music: Piano, Seton Art 5, Seton Drawing DVDs, Draw Write Now 5, Singing and Famous Composers, Art Pac 5

Eleanor is in Kindergarten:
Religion: Chats with God's Little Ones, Keep My Commandments, First Communion Catechism, Come to Mass (TLM Study)
Math: Math U See Primer, Saxon K
Phonics: Serendipty Along the Alphabet Path Binder, Seton K Phonics, Little Angels
Handwriting: Handwriting without Tears, Copywork
Science: Seton K and Mr. Wizard DVDs
Health and Manners: PACE
Activity Books
Art and Music: Seton Art 1, Draw Write Now 1, Art Pac 1, Piano, Singing


My eager beaver girls started school a few weeks ago, note that the boys are waiting until labor day to begin. I was working with Rosie (2nd grade) and the topic in her English book was opposites. I figured she knew opposites pretty well so I just went ahead and quizzed her:
What is the opposite of ---
Big? Little
Stop? Go
Fat? Slender (yes, she actually says slender when she gets a chance, she has a fancy for that word for some reason)
Large? Small
In? Out
Up? Down
High? Bye!

August 17, 2008

An August Party

I wish we had gotten a group picture of all the children at this party. Aragorn's brother and his wife hosted this party and there were some 50ish children under the age of 15 !!

It's not surprising that Eowyn was found reading to some of the littles.

Jump rope

And waterballoons!

Cute Cousins. These 3 pictures cracked me up.

The best part was that Bilbo loved being run over by his bigger baby cousin.

The girls' "club" found a neat hidey-hole under the deck.

Hitching a ride.

I was sorry I didn't get a single picture of Bilbo's Godparents' House-to-be as it is at the other end of this gorgeous property. The views are incredible, the pathway up was so lovely and the house was just beautiful.

Where has the summer gone? Only 2 weeks until Labor Day weekend?

August 10, 2008

Life with Bilbo

Bilbo after getting into the dirt in a plant.

Bilbo helps clean....

Dusting the island stools?

Bilbo is not yet on solids (except what he forages off the floor or out of the dustpan *ugh*) but I caught Pippin under the island giving Bilbo cookies! Little Rascals!


We have never gotten a decent watermelon before... usually only the size of a soft ball! So far this year's watermelon is growing quite well! Hurrah for Square Foot Gardening!

August 3, 2008

Our St. Joseph Trip

We've named this trip the St. Joseph trip after realizing that everyone we stayed with had someone under their roof named Joseph.
We spanned 2706 miles!

We're off... to Mass. We began our trip by attending the TLM in Rockford at St. Mary's Oratory.

Crossing the Mississippi

Anyone remember Saturday Showboat?

Ooooh! Now that is a speed limit!
Who knows where Iowa ends and Nebraska begins!
Needless to say the windmills were a big hit of interest.
Here is the building of a windmill.
When we hit DesMoines we got into a horrible storm. It was torrential rains and very heavy winds. We were driving a heavy 15 passenger van and were being blown around the road. Not sure what happened to this one but it must have overturned not long before we got there. Hopefully no one was hurt.
You will notice that many pictures are blurry... what can you expect when you are flying by everything at 80 mph! Of course this speed is necessary to get across Nebraska lest one die of boredom!
As we turned to go to our friends' home the children announced we were traveling on someone's driveway. Indeed they do have rock roads that go on forever.
The children were instant friends. So they had a slumber party. I'm not sure how much sleep they got as Aragorn recalls going out and telling them to hush up at 4 am!! And no, they didn't sleep all day in the car the next day!

Eleanor peeping out of her sleeping bag, she was the smart one who actually went to sleep!
Pippin who will gleefully fall asleep anywhere except his own bed.
When we arrived at our friends' home near Lincoln, NE, it was somewhere up in the 90's with 85% humidity... it was literally breath-taking. So we all camped out inside their home. I'm not sure I slept much but I did think of the crazy idea that camping is. You sleep on a mat that is 1/2 the size of a twin mattress and then have to share it with your 2 year old who wanders in at some ridiculous time of night! This gave me a scant 6 inches to sleep in. I thought of my friend, Mary Ellen!
Thank you to the L Family for a truly wonderful time! We must have laughed til our sides ached. There is not much that is better medicine than a good hearty dose of laughter.
Since large families are never satisfied unless they can add an extra to their numbers we had to increase our numbers from 17 children to 18 by adding in the son of a family friend!
Sam felt right at home!

Mrs. L and Bilbo
The "real" Joe. Doesn't he have scrumptious dark brown eyes? I have never understood how someone could ever discipline a child with dark brown eyes.

Kindred Spirits.
Sam could find a tree to climb in a desert.
How do you recognize kindred spirits? Barefeet!
I have been an on-line friend of Mrs. L's for many years. This was the first time we met in real life!
More Nebraska!

In honor of my friend Alice, here is a real-life haystack!
Taking a break and resting on a .... dinosaur (though Pippin called it a turtle)
Nebraska's irrigation system.
I caught this plane going right over the top of our van, it's a plane that sprays the crops.
Cattle Ranch

I think these old fashioned windmills are so neat! I want one! They were all over the place to bring water up for the animals in the arid parts of Nebraska.
We stopped in Sidney, NE to visit the impressive Cabella's!
It's just chuck full of real live stuffed animals. (meaning at one time they were live but now are stuffed)
The mountain lion was intriguing being that it is a key part of one of our favorite books "Where the Red Fern Grows".
Whodda guessed that you'd ever see a taxidermied Elephant?

Oil pump
Lots of very long trains hauling coal.
Lots and lots of windmills. I know Aragorn would have wanted to get one of these ... but only a little out of the budget at a million dollars or so!
We were unable to get a view of the mountains at a significant distance due to the hazy weather. But here is the beginning of the Rocky's.
We stayed up in Nederland some 8500 feet above sea level. Yes, I felt the change in air pressure.
It's a very serious thing to invite a family of 11 to camp in your home!

We saw a lovely rainbow that night!
Speaking of neat things I want. This is one of those little ore carts. I'd think it would be jolly good fun to have a whole track around the outside of your house. This one was turned into a flower pot of sorts.
Pictures do not do the Rocky's justice. They are absolutely incredible.

Galadriel has a knack for arranging flowers (she gets this knack from Grandma... not from me). She loved the wildflowers we found along one of our many walks.
Pippin asleep again anywhere but his own bed!
Pippin and Sasha

We stayed in a lovely home!
While Aragorn attended a conference, the rest of us drove up into the mountains.
Simply gorgeous.
We went to a trail that is a mild hike up the mountain.
Not too inviting knowing that there are wild mountain lions in the woods. There were instructions on what to do for these as well as black bears. I'm glad we didn't encounter any however one child was sure he saw "something" on top of a big rock "What did it look like?" "A big cat".
Hiking along.

Several enjoying God's Majesty
Pippin "I up eer"
This is a view of the highest peak in Colorado, some 14,400+ feet above sea level.
This incredible stone building is situated under the great mountain. I was told that the late Pope John Paul II stayed here.
Lunch at Estes Park
We were tickled when this Mule Deer walked right by us as we ate our lunch.
A little more hiking around.

We looked across the valley to the mountain on the others side. If you look carefully you can see the roads that go back and forth across the mountain. That is what we drove up after lunch.
A Magpie, something we don't see in our neck of the woods. We also saw a Colorado Jay.

Going up on to the Tundra

Science lesson! What causes the Dorito bag to puff up so the bag is hard? This also happened to our marshmallow bag giving a whole new meaning to "stay puff marshmallows"! (check off one day of science with this lesson) It is common for flatlanders to suffer alititude sickness due to the high elevations. The children all seemed perfectly fine but their ol' mother felt it somewhat. Though nothing that a little more water didn't take care of. We learned that up in the mountains you need a whole lot more water.
Playing in the snow!

Because this is up in the tundra which is above the tree line and it is so hard to grow things, there are warnings all over the place to keep your feet off the tundra. Someone said that it can take up to 50 years to re-grow ruined tundra.
I did the driving up to the peak of a mountain. It was by far the scariest thing I have ever done. There are no shoulders on the road and in places the road just ends and things just drop right off. I hugged that double yellow line believe me! The absolute worst was when both sides dropped off. It was worth the drive though! We reached an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet above sea level. Oxygen anyone?

This was just a neat dam we passed on our way out of town.
Driving up through Wyoming.
"What makes the roads red?"
Give me a home where the antelope roam...
We made a quick stop in WY and the children's stretched their legs a bit. It was 102 degrees and exceedingly dry.
Crazy Horse carving still in the works in South Dakota.
Mount Rushmore
It really is pretty incredible.


All 50 state flags
Here is a bust of the man who began the carving of Mount Rushmore... pity he died just before its completion!
A typical sign as we drove through the mountains.

Custer State Park was incredible. There were many corkscrew roads and bridges.
Very narrow tunnels.
I'm not sure why I find holes in rocks so intriguing.
The beautiful Black Hills

Setting up our tents for our first night of real camping.
Bilbo trying his hand at mountain climbing.
All set up
An old mine shaft.
This one literally called Hole in a Wall.

Aragorn scoping it out.
Cathedral Spires

Needles Highway

Named needles for the needle-like holes made in the plates of rock.

Just climbing around
Rosie as usual with a mind of her own.
Up... up... up

Yes, they are all ours!

Pippin loves to climb... that's not surprising!
The light brown rocks are little islands in the water, it was quite a sight. Pictures might be worth a million words but seeing things is worth a whole lot more.
Badlands Loop

Bison...Such a massive creature. Of course we didnt' approach this animal as we just weren't in the mood to be gored.
Prairie dog
Badlands Loop was curvy to say the least!
More antelope
The Badlands

I'm not sure why but I just love this place, it's so interesting.
Remember the story in Little Town on the Prairie (or was it These Happy Godlen Years) when Ma's brother was in a caravan riding through the Badlands?
Very arid
The children up on a table land.
This tree just interested me, it's so wild and tangley like.
This bunny we found in the "oasis" of teh BAdlands (though I didn't see any water).
We found our very own secluded Badlands to climb. There was a trail and a permissible pass so we enjoyed wandering around rather freely for a bit.

Then while Frodo suffered a bout of motion sickness on our way to our next campsite we came up with the brilliant idea to drive up to DeSmet and see the Home of Laura Ingalls.
The site of the original house.
"Trees!" Ma said.
These are 3 of the original trees planted by the Ingalls. Two more are right behind me. Since each person planted a tree, my guess is that 1 didn't survive. These are pretty big cottonwoods now!
Interesting water tower :)
Our next campsite had an interesting labyrinth the children enjoyed walking around.
Nothing beats a beautiful sunset!
All set up again.

Our last stop was at another on-line friend of mine (who I had met in-real life before) I loved this picture of all our children (17 out of 18 present) all inside the "cage" of a trampoline!

Here's the jello!!
Thank you to the Z's for a wonderful lunch and fun playtime and of course enjoyable conversation!
Check out their waterslide!!

This day also happened to be Galadriel's 11th Birthday!
Lining up for a turn down the slide.
Crossing the Mississippi
Home Sweet Home!
When we got home the first thing Sam did was raid our garden and haul in our over-ripe produce. Here is Pippin holding a monster zucchini!
Happy Birthday Galadriel!
*Some* people in our family didn't get enough camping so they popped up our tents again for a couple nights outside. Note: I chose to sleep in my own bed!
We didn't cook outdoors on our trip afterall. The first night it was just too dry and there had been "very high" fire warnings. Knowing we'd be the first to burn down the entire state of SD and WY we skipped that idea. The next night we got to our site too late to bother. So we roasted hotdogs and marshmallows and made s'mores at home over a campfire.
Pippin enjoying as'more *before* bathtime!
The End!