I am switching blog hosts.  I don’t know why I didn’t go with Blogger in the first place, except that I didn’t know what I was doing until I plunged in.  You can find the new blog at http://michiel-landscapes.blogspot.com/.  I hope I don’t lose anyone.  Also, it would be great if you would comment to let me know that this is working.

Enjoy you day!


A happy day may it be for you!  Did anyone ever notice that Yoda talks like an Irishman?

Cool Guy was busy last night setting traps for the leprauchans.  He thinks they might come in an mess up his room.  I said that, no, they’d take one look at it and figure that some other leprauchan beat them to it. (wink)  He set up the old box propped by a stick with toys as bait.  I am afraid that the leprauchans saw through the ruse and instead created little whirlwinds of mess in other parts of the house.

We’ll have corned beef and cabbage tonight for dinner, one of our favorites.  And I’ll make some Irish soda bread.  Cool Guy is reading St. Patrick and the Peddler for me.  The boys may not HAVE any green clothes to wear.  It seems everything is blue around here, so I may have declare a NO PINCHING zone around our house.

The weather is supposed to be sunny and warm, so I see a lot of time outside, now that Encyclopedia is over his stomach bug.

Have a happy, Irish day!

If we can, we have Fun Friday for school, and cram everything into Monday through Thursday.  After missing it for two weeks, Fun Friday is back.  Hurray!

First, the boys drew math discovery.  We worked from a really great book, How Math Works, and played around with multiplication and division tricks.  This was mainly for Encyclopedia’s benefit.  For Cool Guy, we made a book of animal permutations, or as he says “I get to customize my own animals.”  We colored 8 pages of cartoonish animals that were neatly divided into thirds horizontally.  Then we made them into a flip book, cut along the cut lines and voila, customized animals, as in bear head, pterodactyl body, and snake bottom.  Cute.  Cool Guy really liked it.  The math-y part was figuring out how many different animals we could make which was 8 x 8 x 8, though I could not have figured that out myself.

Next, we worked on 4-H projects.  Cool Guy and I began working to teach Scamp how to shake.  He is a very, very smart dog, and I am sure that if we are consistent in doing this daily, he will shake on command after a month of work.  Encyclopedia, whose project is cooking, has chosen to do the germs-in-the-kitchen activity.  Lovely.  After calling the county extension office to inquire about Glo-Germ, something we rub on our hands or the kitchen counter to see how germy it is, I found that we’ll have to postpone this until the agent locates the stuff.  Oooo, I can’t wait.  Not.

The third drawing was bird of the day, which we get on enature.com.  

Number 4 was handicrafts, so we decided to extend our whittling that we had been doing on bars of soap to the next level: making spears out of sticks.  It gave a true purpose to whittling for my two savages and was a nice way to spend time together outside.

And that was it for the day.  It always surprises me how little we actually do on Fun Friday, but then, we did spend quite a bit of time doing each thing, except for the bird.  And we have LOTS of breaks, and today lots of playing outside.  And that is good, too.


Cool Guy decides that he’s going to do a magic trick for me.  “Watch this, mom.  See the marble in my hand?  Ok, now don’t look.  (I close my eyes).  “Now you can look.  See? the marble disappeared!”


I wore flip flops this week.  Loving this weather.


Boys and I went to Pittsburgh yesterday for a doctor appt. for Cool Guy.  I hate driving in cities.  It makes me a nervous wreck.  However, there is one thing I love about going to Pittsburgh: that is the point when we emerge from Fort Pitt Tunnel, and there is the whole city spread before us.  It is the coolest site ever.


I saw crocuses (croci?) on Wednesday.  Loving this weather. 


Daylight Savings Time spring forward is NOT my favorite.  I need that hour!  Also, since I am an earlybird, I don’t want to suffer through another month of darkness in the mornings.  But I suppose that I will enjoy the light in the evenings.


Cool Guy found an old bird’s nest from last year, and now he is on the hunt.  I just hope that he doesn’t find any new nests, or will leave them alone rather than wanting to hatch baby birds himself.


Today is Fun Friday for us.  I plan on posting our adventures later on.  In the meantime, I hope everyone has a great weekend, with bright, beautiful weather.  Thanks to Jennifer at Conversion Diary for hosting the 7 Quick Takes!



OK, that may be an overstatement since I think The Sopranos is the best EVER.  But we saw a movie last night that will make you think of The Sopranos and will not disappoint.  What?  The Godfather?  Goodfellas?  Married to the Mob?  Nyet, nyet, and nyet.  Saint Rita is the movie of the night.

This is put out by Ignatius Press, and we got it through Netflix.  It took us three nights to watch it because it IS long, as any good, involved, Italian mafia movie should be.  The boys loved, loved, loved it.  It had a huge chunk of violence, vendetta, soap opera, and, oh yes, a fantastic message of a very faith-filled life and trust in God.

Rita did not lead a charmed life.  Going by the movie, she closely resembled Michelle Pfeiffer, and attracted a very handsome husband in Paolo Mancini.  Very handsome.  She went against all social convention of the time and became a regular wifely nag until she convinced her husband to put down his sword forever.  I won’t ruin the story for anyone interested, but I will say that her victory did not make her life easy.  She lost everything and gained everything.

After the movie, I looked into Rita’s biography, and the movie held fairly close to the real story.  The boys loved all the medieval European details, especially pertaining the The Plague and swordplay, but they also “got” the points of the story:

  • Forgiveness
  • Peace-seeking
  • compassion
  • love 

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Most days, I read a little of Blessed Mother Teresa’s book Total Surrender.  I read just enough to give me something to think about.  Yesterday, I read about silence and how good it is.  What got me to thinking is that she wasn’t just talking about silence of having the TV or music off, or even the silence of just shutting my mouth for once.  But instead she wrote about other silences, ones I hadn’t even considered before.

Silence of the eyes: to not be judgemental with what you see, to see the good and not the bad.  To use the eyes to express love only.

Silence of the ears: to close one’s ears to gossip and negative words.

Silence of the heart: to shut out things that keep you from God like inward complaints, judgements of others, etc.

It so happens that since the weather has recently been so wintry, I just haven’t been out of my own house to mix with others much at all, and so opportunities for gossip, judgements, negative thoughts about others haven’t presented themselves for me.  And what I find is that this kind of thinking is habit-forming.  The more I do this kind of thing, the more I tend to do it.  Due to the weather, I’ve really been away from those temptations of the eyes and ears, and so my heart has also been quieter.

And I am happier. 

Also, I’m a little stir-crazy.  Now that we have sunshine, we’ll be out and about more, and my challenge for myself is to continue the good I have inadvertently done.  It’s like when you’re trying to lose weight and struggling, and then a stomach bug hits and you lose 5 pounds, and that impetus really gets you going.  I hope and pray, now that I have a glimmer of the benefits of silence, that I can keep it up.

I am really lazy about pictures.  Really, really lazy.  My Christmas pictures from 2008 are still on my camera.  I have a stack of pictures from Cool Guy’s First Communion last May that I still need to mail out.

So, ta-da.  Here are some pictures of the projects I did at quilt retreat a week ago.  If you are interested in seeing a really good sample of what a bunch of ladies can do with a week of non-stop sewing and fun, click on my friend Sandy’s blog and watch the slide show she put together.


One thing I did was make some Christmas ornaments.  Here they are.



Here is Baby Jesus.


mean girl quilt

This one isn’t finished.  The name has a story that I won’t go into here.  I plan on finishing it sometime this decade and then using it in our den, where we watch TV and freeze to death because it’s such a drafty room.

baby quilt

This one is actually finished and ready to mail.  My cousin Terry-Boy (name is another story I’m not going to get into right now) had three grandbabies this year, and this is the first baby quilt.  Two to go…..

close up

 I hope you enjoyed this little photo display.  Coming soon: pictures of my newly organized classroom – once I get Cool Guy to get his toys out of there.  “But Mom, they’re not toys, they’re Collectibles!”  Have a great weekend!


Yesterday, we had sunshine.  I didn’t realize how much I missed it until we had it!  The boys, too, were so much “sunnier” (yuck, yuck) yesterday.


Signs of spring: mud, goldfinch getting gold again, and suddenly the days are just so much longer!


Yesterday, Encyclopedia and I participated in another rite of spring: going to the garden center.  We got lots of sunflower and morning glory seeds for a sunflower house that we’re going to plant.  We decided on this project from many in Sharon Lovejoy’s Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots.  And just for fun, we got a small Venus Flytrap and Pitcher Plant.  What is it in boy-wiring that draws them to the weird/grisly/macabre?


For some reason, this Lent, I keep hearing “happy” or “joyous” preceding “Lent.”   As in “Have a happy Lent.”  What is up with that?  Is this new or am I just noticing this for the first time?  I get it, but I’ve just never heard it before.


Last week, I was at a quilt retreat for a week, and this week, we took a week off school to clean and reorganize.  I think everyone is ready to get back on track now.


For Lent (happy Lent!) I decided to do the 40 bags thing, where I gather things from around the house to either donate or toss, one bag per day during Lent.  This is set high on my daily priority list, and so far, I have not been challenged AT ALL to find stuff to fill up a bag each day.  Of course, I have been cleaning out the classroom, but still, we are well into the season, here.  We are lucky enough to have a library at our parish, so I was able to donate quite a few books there.  Goodwill got the rest of the stuff yesterday.


Encyclopedia is WAY too interested in WW points.  Every time I’m about to taste something yummy, he asks me “How many points is that, mom?”  I mutter something like points not counting during basketball games or on Sundays.  Anyone want to borrow a boy to jump-start a diet? 

Thanks to Jennifer at Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes!  I hope everyone has a great weekend!

This is our “between terms” week.  This is the week when we all heave a big sigh (had we really been going that hard?) and gather ourselves together again.

For Cool Guy, this means a little reading each day and then play, play, play.  For me, it means cleaning out and reorganizing the classroom.  More on that in a future post with after pictures (I forgot to take before ones).

For Encyclopedia, it means final exams.  This is a first for him, but then he’s in 5th grade and has only been at home for school for a couple of months now.  After I had typed up a week’s worth of finals, I really expected an evening of fireworks when I handed him the sheet of assignments.  So I was surprised when he look it over and was excited about the whole thing!  The enthusiasm at mid-week hasn’t waned, although he struggles some with doing best work  in regards to neatness and attention to details like spelling and punctuation.  But that is part of the purpose of these exams.  There need to be Big Occasions to really bring out one’s Best Work, and though, of course, I’d like to see Best Work always, at least Encyclopedia is having a taste of it and might get to like it.

Without further delay, here are Encyclopedia’s finals:

History: Write the story of Jamestown from the point of view of either John Smith, Pocahontas, or Powhatan.

Keyboarding: timed test

Geography: Write a report on the Netherlands, paying particular attention to having one main idea per paragraph.  This is based on research done during the twelve weeks.

Ancient History: Do a Social-Studies-Fair-type project on the Greek Gods and Heroes.

Science: Pick 4 birds we learned about and write a paragraph about each.  Print out and color coloring sheets on these birds.

Math: Do one long division worksheet and one column addition sheet perfectly, which means checking answers.

English: Do a book report on one pleasure reading book read during the term.

The Greek Gods project should take up a good chunk of the week.  Planning long-term projects, or rather budgeting sufficient time and seeing them through, is a skill that Encyclopedia really struggles with, and though his enthusiasm is overflowing for his project, his will to work is not as evident.  He has a deadline of Saturday, so we’ll see what the week brings.

He has decided to create a Greek Gods trading card game, with each having certain powers and stats, attack points, defense points, yadda, yadda.  If you have boys this age, you’re familiar with the whole thing.  I think it’s brilliant and have offered my laminating services.  I really hope that he pulls it off.

Since we went to the library last night to pick up the second Percy Jackson for me to read, and he finally got his hands on the newly released Calvin and Hobbes, I will be surprised if he does anything else besides memorize that book.  But, part of learning is making mistakes.  My goal is to keep from nagging and let him figure out for himself how to mix work and fun.

I hope everyone is having a great week so far!  Are you feeling a little springness in the air?

I just wanted to check in and let the world know that I am back from my quilt retreat.  It was a fantastic break for me, but I woke up Friday morning definitely ready to get back to my family. 

Have you ever noticed how a vacation creates such loads of work to catch up on when you return?  Burt did a really fantastic job of keeping things up, but there was my laundry, unpacking, and tons of loose ends.  Ah, well, it was worth it.  I feel ready to take on the world!  Or at least my tiny bit of it.

I hope everyone has a great week, and I will post pictures of retreat things soon.

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"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway." - Blessed Mother Teresa