Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ariana's Final Cake: Yellow Mums!


Isn't this cake sweet? Monochrome yellow tones, topped with fuzzy mums. She was so very patient making all the dots. And her rosettes were perfect. Did I mention that she did a better job icing her cake than I did mine? Much smoother. I'm proud of my not-a-baby-anymore-girl!!!!!

She gave her cake to a neighbor. :-D

Cake Class Final Project: Hydrangeas





Cake designed and implemented by Alana Sheldahl, who is still very much a beginner, but who formerly was the producer of many birthday cake wrecks and now feels much improved.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Animal Therapy

Yeah, lets call it that. Good for the soul and all that. Bringers of joy, pee and poop. Teachers of responsibility, gentleness and vigilance.

Introducing the gerbils Merry and Pipin. More formally monikered Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took.

Merry

Pipin

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Surprise!

So, yesterday...Oh. my. goodness.

I woke up. I had a lot to do. So, coffee, wiping the blear out of my eyes, breakfast etc. and absolutely FORCING myself to do morning prayers around eight-ish. See, we are barely two weeks into the home school year and already my lazy tendencies are rearing their ugly heads and I want to lounge more than is beneficial of a morining. I am fighting it.

So, back to my story...regular start to the morning, the kids are all in their P.J.'s doing school work, when the phone rings. By some miracle I was actually wearing clothes and not my night gown. It was, after all, merely nine-ish. I think I was planning to go to Kroger to pick up the few items not available at Costco. That's why I was dressed. A woman with a purpose.

So, just for the sake of brevity (HA!), I shall share my To Do list with you here:

1. Start kids on school (a bit more complicated than saying "Hey kids, start your school work, as we do some read alouds, prayers and memory work...oooh, saying it like that makes it sound fancier than it really is!)

2. Go to Kroger

3. Get back from Kroger by 10:30 and run out to meet the farmer to buy milk, eggs and sausage.

4. Lunch

5. Bake a cake for Eric's Boy Scout Court of Awards (that's today)

6. Let it cool.

7. Practice/prepare flowers for the cake decorating class final project. (They have to dry for a few days. Ariana had to do this with me, for her cake, too.)

8. Dinner

9. An American Heritage Girl's Leader's Meeting at 7:30 pm down town.

So, that was my VERY busy day yesterday.

LOTS to do, wouldn't you agree?

So at 9:ish the phone rings. It's Fr. Justin, my former priest in Nicholasville from before we moved. He's in town and could he come by for a quick "hello" before heading back home? SURE! How can one say no to that? Why would one want to.

So, there go my morning plans. Kroger later. With joy I brew some coffee and have a chat with Fr. J. The kids are excited to see him, too, and various yo yo tricks have to be demonstrated, etc. Good times. A cup or two of coffee later and the brief but wonderful surprise visit is over. Back to my list.

By now it's time to get the milk etc, and so off I go. That went smoothly. Home. Lunch. Then to plan the cake. Review Kroger list. Realize I need to go to Hobby Lobby, for some cake supplies, too. So off I go.

Home again with stuff. We are unloading the Kroger groceries (the kids always help), when on the ground Maia spies a wee little baby flying squirrel, curled up in an adorable shivering ball. On the ground. Alone. No mama squirrel. At the foot of a very tall tree.

I had to help. I just had to. So I scoop up this adorable little creature, and inside we take her. Instantly my crack squad of eager helpers were on the spot with a cardboard box, flannel fabric, and information. (How did we ever LIVE before we had the internet?????) So baby flying squirrel go warmed up, got some electrolyte solution from a dropper and got cuddled and ooohhh'd over. We learned that it's illegal to keep a wild animal more than 48 hours, so we called the wildlife rescue hotline and got the number of a licensed rehabilitator. Called her. She'd meet us at such and such a place, sort of near where we live, she'll call us when she gets done w/ her errand and we can meet there.

Meanwhile, of course, books are forgotten, the house looks like a tornado tore through and I still have a cake to bake. So I bake a cake while the kids are snapping endless pictures of the cute little baby whom they names Sammy, after Silent Sam in the Redwall Books. (At the time we did not realize this was a flying squirrel, although I did notice that it had flaps of skin under it's arms...like a wingsuit.)

So I bake a cake and Eric was my helper. It's huge. I used the big wedding cake circle pan and doubled the recipe.

While it was in the oven the phone rang. Of course. So we took a risk and delivered the squirrel to the rescue lady. She told us it was a baby girl, about four weeks old, and that it was a flying squirrel. She also showed us a juvenile hummingbird in a box that someone else had delivered to her that day.

So, back home again, cake out of the oven. (I'm getting tired by now).

Bethany made supper. I iced the cake once it was cool, we ate and then off to my meeting (Wes was kind enough to take me there...I was too tired to drive).

So now I'm up early drinking a cup of coffee and am about to go decorate that cake before I go to an AHG training meeting from 9-2:30, rush home and then go to the Boy Scout pic nic...another crazy day. I'll put of pictures of the cake in a few minutes when it's done. Meanwhile, here's the baby squirrel.



I got a little sad last night, wondering if Mama Squirrel was missing her baby. And Eric woke up worried this morning that the rescue lady was a poacher in disguise. I assured him that she was the real deal. I wonder if the kids need a pet hamster?

Oh, and I forgot to mention that in the midst of all this craziness, Eric informs me he needs BADGES SEWN ONTO HIS BOY SCOUT UNIFORM...ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!! So. not. happening.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Take it to the Lord in Prayer


Yesterday, in the midst of all my grumpiness about not one but TWO root canals, I kept having the thought that this is going to be another way that God shows his provision to our family. And a certain peace did prevail. Really. I know it did not come through very much in what I wrote here, but it did nonetheless.

I didn't cry or get upset for one thing. That's progress, folks. I did ask God to provide for us, so that I can get this dental work done. The tech/nurse on the endodontist team told me that having infection in my mouth can cause my whole system to feel run down. No lie, really? I think my body already knew that. So this isn't just something to ignore. Ultimately it would end in an abcess if I don't.

Why is it that the place where the rubber meets the road, in our faith-journey as a family always about our health, and the expenses that our ill-health incurs? Well, I guess it prevents us from being smug.

"Lord, please have mercy on this day and please provide a way for me to get this dental work done. Help me to love and serve you better always. Amen."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Beyond Grumpeh

So, you know the Carecredit, or whatever it is, that NO ONE gets turned down for? Yeah, well, I got turned down. So I had to make a decision and so I made one. Mega big payments each month for the next few months...for the root canal.

And...drumroll....I need a second root canal. Which will also mean a second crown.

Cha ching!

No, we don't have the money. At all. And we have bad credit-something having to do with becoming apartment dwellers instead of home owners...you do the math. I guess this is our chance to start establishing good credit again.

We tallied it all up and it's coming to $3300 dollars. That's the part our dental insurance won't cover.

I could weep, but why bother? It's just money.

The thing I keep thinking is that I could go on a European tour for this amount of money. I could visit Switzerand for this amount of money. But instead, I get to go into debt to get these infected teeth fixed.

And why, you ask, ARE they infected? I floss. I brush. I use a water pick. Yes indeed. But I also grind and gnash my teeth. At night. When I can't stop myself. And I am also constantly catching myself clenching my teeth during the day...clench/suck, clench/suck... In many many place my enamel is worn down and I can also see a crack on a front tooth, not involved in these issues.

Methinks it's stress related. My blood pressure is just fine, but my teeth-not so much.

And now that I'm no longer numb up to my eyeballs (literally), I am sore. And since I am sore, I am pitiful. And grumpy. I'm trying hard not to grind my teeth about it.

Really.

On another note...cake class was fun tonight, but I'm sort of getting sick of all the cake and frosting in my life. I SO want to take the fondant and gum paste class, and next month there's a sale on so the class is half price, but I really don't know if I want to be swimming in sugar for another four weeks.

I'll try not to grind my teeth over it, though.

Endodontist

I have to go to the endodontist, like, right now. I'm blogging right quick to put off my departure. Dread does not begin to describe how I feel about this up coming experience.

Officially, I'm going to have tooth #14 looked at. But they blocked out time...just in case I need a root canal. Officially, if I don't get approved for a credit option to pay the more-than-nine-hundred and fifty dollars for this gig, I can walk out of there. But the lady on the phone was just fine blocking out the whole friggin afternoon for me, which tells me that NO ONE gets turned down for Carecredit by Citibank. Har har har. Because I've already maxed out my Delta Dental payout for the year, I'm gonna pay for this with money from our deep, deep savings account [coughnotcough].

I could go to Switzerland or on an Alaskan cruise for two (that honeymoon that we never took?), for what all of this dental work is costing. Considering how badly a vacation could be used, this thought makes me want to CRY. Willnotfeelsorryforself! Willnotfeelsorryforself! Willnotfeelsorryforself!

At any rate, I'll be grateful not to have pain after this is done. And grateful that current dental technology means I don't have to be a snaggletoothed old crone.

OK, now I'd better get going. Sigh.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Needs More Practice





Here are my latest cake pictures. Chocolate cake w/ chocolate frosting. Yum. Dots are difficult to do without making tiny little turds, or mini hershey kiss shaped things. And I need to practice my zig zags more. Fortunately I have some leftover frosting that is doomed to end it's life one some paper for just that purpose.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ariana's Cake



Here's the cake my 11 year old daughter decorated in class tonight. More cake...just what we NEED.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Thoughts about the Dormition of the Mother of God


Troparion - Tone 1

In giving birth you preserved your virginity,
In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
You were translated to life, O Mother of Life,
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.

Kontakion - Tone 2

Neither the tomb, nor death could hold the Theotokos,
Who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions.
For being the Mother of Life,
She was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb.


I especially like the Kontakion. "For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb."

Again, it's all about Jesus. He was the One who dwelt in her virginal womb. He did the translating of her into life.

I could use some of what she's having. Seriously. I am mostly dead most of the time. The spiritual struggle is ever present. This summer has been a struggle against spiritual lassitude and being busy has been the perfect "excuse". But it's not really an excuse at all, is it? These past few weeks HAVE been better, and the fast is a good time to re-group and reflect and repent.

So here I am on a late Saturday night getting ready to receive Christ once again in the Eucharist tomorrow. Lord have mercy on me a sinner. I need more of what she's having.

My First "Real" Cake


Meaning, I sat in on the cake decorating class Ariana is taking and learned some stuff, and spent last evening practicing roses.

So, I need to pay for the class, since clearly I'm in it, too.

There's a bake sale at Church tomorrow, so this is for that. Inside is Devil's Food, and the frosting is buttercream with butter, vanilla and almond flavoring.

Yes, I know that the decoration style is a bit out dated, but that's OK. I might use some sewing money to pay for the next class in the series.

Life the Universe and Homeschooling

Oh my! Have I been busy lately, or what? Crazy busy. And for some reason I can't seem to put my finger on exactly what's been going on. Well, lets see...wonderful time with friends, taking kids (and a friend!!!!) to the zoo so they could do the sky trail adventure course and then taking them home due to heat exhaustion.

Ariana and I have been baking lots of cakes for her cake decorating class. Practice, practice, practice. I'm hoping the cake I make and decorate today will be worthy of the Ladies Society Bake Sale tomorrow, because I SO don't need to eat more cake. (Last night I practiced butter cream frosting roses until the frosting in the bag was gone. It's quite hard on the hands.)

I have another bride to take care of this week: adding straps/sleeve thingies to a strapless gown and making crowns. I already made her veil. Whew. Wedding's next week.

AND...drumroll...school starts on Monday. Home school that is. Am I really ready? Not so much. I guess I could put it off, but the thought of one more week of the kids spending way too much time playing on the computer makes me nuts. I'd rather have them learning on the computer. Ha ha ha.

Plus we have some relatives visiting this week. Egads, it's going to be busy! At least my schedule is not up to my neck in doctor's appointments, which is a nice change of pace.

There's always lots to be grateful for.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Glory to God!

Well, we had our post-psychological testing results meeting today at Bingham Clinic. And I could leap and shout and sing for joy! Bethany does NOT have schizophrenia!!!!! This is such good news for her and for our family.

What she DOES have: Asperger's Syndrome with clinical Anxiety, NOS and clinical Depression, NOS. And yes, severe anxiety, the doctor explained, can cause a kid to shut down and seem catatonic, the way she did. Severe anxiety can cause somatic disturbances and movement disorders...everything she has going on.

This diagnosis gives us a vision for the way forward and good hope for the future. Things don't look nearly as bleak as they did before. This is treatable and can be managed very well with cognitive/behavioral therapy and medication. I'm hoping we can get in to see the psychiatrist soon, and talk about whether her medications needed to be adjusted in light of these findings.

I'm so happy, happy, happy!

And on the feast of the Transfiguration, too! We have our own transfiguration, in a way: A change from what we thought (which was dire and sad and felt hopeless), to what actually IS (still difficult, but not hopeless).

Glory to Thee, O Lord, glory to Thee!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Current Read

Yesterday I finally picked up the book "Looking for God in Harry Potter" by John Granger, even though it's bees sitting on my shelf for quite a while.

I recommend this book. First of all, to all Harry Potter fans, as it will deepen your appreciation for the series. Second of all, to all Harry Potter naysayers who are afraid of the series for religious reasons. It might change your mind, or at least give you food for thought.

But most of all, I recommend, HIGHLY recommend, this book to people like me: homeschooling moms who are trying to tackle the great beast that is literature and how to present it to their students. This book goes a long way towards introducing me, the "teaching student"...for I will be learning alongside my kids) about such things as symbolism, themes, plot devices and so on.

Just from having read a few chapters of this book, I was able to have an intelligent conversation with Wes about Pride and Prejudice. P and P is a book I've read twice and a movie I've watched countless times. I'm FAMILIAR with it. But until reading Granger's analysis of Harry Potter, I'd never really seen the coupling and opposite parallels in the characters of P and P because I'd never known to look at them before. (Angelic Jane juxtaposed to Fleshly Lydia who surround the main character the complicated Elizabeth...on the one hand, and the complicated Darcy as central character w/ Bingly as best friend who is determined to see the good in everything and everybody versus Wickham his enemy-who is a liar,and who uses people for what he can get from them. Bingly marries Jane and Wickham marries Lydia and each gets what he/she deserves. Meanwhile of course Elizabeth and Darcy-who are both complicated and imperfect and much more developed are for each other. Additionally Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, the wise manipulator (his mocking wit!) married to the foolish manipulator (her nerves!) are mirrored by Sir Lucas (who is foolish. and Mrs. Lucas who "manages" him, and again in greater detail by Charlotte and her foolish Mr. Collins.)

So, just as I am asking myself how I'm ever going to teach my kids literature when I have such a weak literary background myself, here is this wonderful short book that gives me an introduction to English Literary Tradition by way of a series of books I'm rather familiar with and which my kids are VERY familiar with: Harry Potter. And the things I'm learning will be transferable to other literature.

So, at least I have an answer...or rather the beginning of one. Before we read anything else this school year, Bethany, Maia and I will read looking for God in Harry Potter and discuss other works of fiction in light of what we will have learned from reading this book.

I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Literary-Historical Cascade...

So I'm in the throes of trying to decide what literature to make my Highschoolers (freshman level) work on this year. We are also doing a World History overview. Very high level, broad strokes overview.

So I'm thinking Odyssey would be a good piece of lit to start with. And if you start with the Odyssey and ancient history, perhaps the Gilgamesh Epic would be a good thing to follow up with. But if you read Gilgamesh, you need to read Genesis along side it. After you read Genesis, it would be logical to just finish out the pentateuch followed by the other Old Testament Historical books. But if you are going to read those, you need to familiarize yourself with the Wisdom literature while you are at it. But if you are going to become familiar with Biblical Wisdom Lit. it would be good to read something like the Instruction of Amenemope for comparison.

And while we are at it, a thorough familiarity with Ancient Greek texts and philosophers would be in order.

And if one is studying Ancient Greek texts, it would be good to read up on how the Early Church Fathers used ancient Greek philosophy to defend the gospel. Styles of rhetoric could be compared. Chrysostom's sermons could be studied.

And as we move forward in time, some Medieval texts must be learned as well.

...

And then I remember these are High School students we are talking about, and not Master's degree or Ph.D. students. And just because I wish I'd been thus educated does not mean this is the right time or place...

And so after the Odyssey what should we study? Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, perhaps? Uncle Tom's Cabin? Who knows. Whatever. It seems there's no rhyme or reason to ANY of the lit lists I've looked at. But then...it's just freshman year of High School.

Sigh.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sick Day

Yesterday I came home from a fabulous and refreshing time of fellowship and Starbucksing with a new friend...only to suddenly feel ill. Queasy, achy...that sort of thing.

So I slept for 12 hours and woke up this morning, and still felt icky. Sent family off to Church and settled down for some peace and quiet. And an afternoon nap, as IF I needed more sleep.

Apparently I did.

So it's a sick day, which I think, is also a day of mercy. Because I've been overdoing it and pushing myself well past my physical limits for some time now. Whether this is "just" a fibro flare up, or a bug of some sort...who knows? I can never tell. But I AM glad that I had a physical (to fill out a scouting leader's physical form) scheduled for tomorrow, as my ear is hurting. I got water in it the other day and now it's hurting. Oh well.

I think I need another nap now. Typing this post has been exhausting.