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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!

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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!

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.

I’m committing this to the public sphere so that it will strengthen my resolve.  I’m going back on Weight Watchers.  The last year has been a steady slide UPWARDS to a size that I do not want to buy clothes for.  Today was the first day and it went fine.  I can’t find my WW calculator, but it will turn up.

I promise I won’t bore the world with day-by-day point tallies.  Just wanted to get the commitment out there to keep myself honest.

We have a quest here.

We are trying to perfect the Art of Grocery Shopping, or more exactly, the Art of Grocery List-Making.  Burt, nom de blog of my husband, has decided to make my scattered way of getting our grocery needs most efficiently transformed into a reality and has decided to Excel my grocery list-making.  I’m getting caught up in the excitement.

First, I made a spreadsheet of all the meals I make.  I then added all the ingredients – beyond what I know I’ll already have like milk, bread, bananas, juice – that I would need to make said meal.  I made separate sheets for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Soups we like, and Meatless.

I have since made a spreadsheet of two weeks’ worth of these meals: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  After tinkering, Burt, made a dropdown menu of all breakfast items whenever I click on a breakfast box.  So I have all my breakfast options to choose from when I click on Monday Breakfast, and I have only to select what I plan on fixing on said Monday morning (hopefully cold cereal).

My next objective is to be able to click on, say, chili for dinner and have all the ingredients listed for me with boxes next to them which I would then check off if I need to buy any of them.  Then I hope that a shopping list would generate itself based on what I have checked off.

The next step would be to take the camera shopping with me next time I go grocery shopping to snap the aisle signs, so that we could make a spreadsheet for the grocery items based on their order in the store.  Burt was a little put out that Kroger does not provide a store map online, but the camera should help.

Do we have a life?  As I’m writing this, I’m feeling that we’re getting a little OCD about the whole grocery shopping thing.  Does this sound like a great idea, soon to be turned into a great program that will make us millions or what?

I have a low frustration threshold for learning computer skills. This includes blogging. I see in my mind how I want things, but it takes so much work to figure out the right buttons to push.

I take this as a lesson in humility, and I will try to remember this when one of the boys gets more frustrated than I think he should while learning a skill.

When I suggested to the family allowing a saint to pick us as a friend for 2010, they were open to the idea. I’m sure for them it beat coming up with a resolution.

We gathered togethered and silently prayed, and when we each felt ready, we drew. Here are the friends we will get to know this year.

Cool Guy was chosen by St. Peter Chanel.  I know nothing about him, but I’m sure Cool Guy and I will get to know him quite well this year.

Encyclopedia was chosen by Mother Cabrini.  We will look for the Vision Book on her.

Husband-who-wishes-to-be-known-as-Burt was chosen by Our Lady of Guadaloupe.  I am excited for him.

And I was chosen by

Blessed Mother Teresa!  I am so excited!  What a fantastic person to grow closer to for 2010.

We read a lot of books around here.  My big push lately has been to focus us on Advent during Advent as opposed to Christmas, so a lot of our reading together has been along that line.  As a family, we’ve been reading aloud The Jesse Tree.  This is a story about a boy and a wood carver.  The relationship between the two grows as the carver tells the stories behind the Jesse Tree images he is carving.  It seemed to be a perfect book for Advent.  The stories give background and reasons for a Jesse tree and the Bible stories are told in an engaging, accessible way.  There is the subplot of the change in relationship between the boy and the carver.  And my boys are familiar enough with the Bible stories to enjoy hearing them told another way.  And yet, there is something that has kept this book from being great.  I think it is that this book is hard to read aloud.  The phrasing is awkward, or the sentences are constructed in such a way that it does not flow well.  It has not been a disaster, but I think we’ll take what we can from the book and let it go.

On Mater Amibilis, I found an Advent reading program that I wanted to tackle before my boys got too old.  So I scrapped everything else in school for this season and focused on only these stories and some of the activities suggested.  It has been a hit.  None of us had read much of Tomie dePaola until now, and we have become huge fans.  So far, our favorite has been Clown of God.  These books are perfect for Cool Guy to practice his reading, and Encyclopedia has enjoyed seeing similarities between the books.  This has been a first: focusing on one author over an extended period of time.  Encyclopedia is also learning to juggle and doing well, thanks to Burt’s tutoring.  The books we have read so far:

26 Fairmount Avenue

Hark! A Christmas Sampler

Merry Christmas, Strega Nona

The Legend of the Poinsettia

The Lady of Guadaloupe

The Clown of God

Jingle, the Christmas Clown

This reading and activity program has really helped Cool Guy especially keep in mind the reason we celebrate Christmas.  He needs daily, hourly, multi-sensory reminders.

Other books: Encyclopedia is reading Island of the Blue Dolphins.  While reading that, he breezed through The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and then The Best School Year Ever.  Burt (he chose this pseudonym)  is re-reading Run Silent, Run Deep.  Like me, he has read it before, yet couldn’t remember a thing about it.  I actually picked it up not too long ago and about a third of the way through it, remembered that I HAD read this before.  Hate it when that happens.  Yet, it is a good book, just not very memorable, I guess.

I am on a kids’ book reading spree.  I love kids’ books, and we have accumulated so many that I hadn’t read, that I thought I’d catch up.  After reading The Children of Noisy Village (which we LOVED) to Cool Guy and stumbling over the Chapter where Lisa announces to the reader that Santa Claus is for babies, I decided that EVERY book, no matter how innocent seeming, needs pre-reading.  Cool Guy is not ready to disbelieve yet, and I don’t want something as nice a reading together to shatter his illusions.  Therefore, I’m on a mission to read it all so there won’t be any more awkward surprises.  Cool Guy should be able to decide for himself when he’s too old for Santa.

My current title is The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans.  This is a Landmark book, a series that Encyclopedia and I really like.  What I’m enjoying about this book is the depiction of colonial era New Orleans.  It seems so exotic – the French, the Spanish, the Creoles, the swamps.  I can see the Spanish moss hanging from the live oaks as I read, the cranes taking off suddenly as my bateau glides through the quiet bayous.

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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