Sunday, December 27, 2009

2009--The BEST of!


Well, lots of publications have "Best of" lists at the end of the year. Why not me?
And really, it is the end of the decade ( gulp! weren't we just celebrating the dawn of a new century?) but I couldn't possibly remember the" best of's " for the past 10 years ( well, maybe if I thought long and hard. ;)


Probably the one I am reading right now "A Separate Country" by Robert Hicks.
I liked his first novel "The Widow of the South" pretty well, but he has really outdone himself with this one. It's always heartening to see someone ( even if you don't know them personally) grow and develop in their craft, and that, he has certainly done. A very gripping novel based on the life of the fascinating General John Hood and his equally fascinating wife, Anne Marie Hennen Hood, who gave birth to 11 children in 10 years and that included 3 sets of twins! ( Yet, that is really not a huge part of the story, just an interesting side note). Probably a bit too much adult subject matter for teens, but an engrossing read.

And a quote:
"Now I see it through new eyes that have of late, so late, recognized suffering as the corrupt and permanent condition of man, something inescapable and best faced square on, for in suffering is life, and its denial is a kind of death."


Well, there have been quite a few winners, but I'll have to say "The Seamstress" wins out by a hair.


"The Painted Veil" with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts.

I happened upon this one at the library. It looked interesting and I always check them out on Amazon to read other reviews and there were a good many favorable ones so I gave it a try. It turned out to be a favorite of the year. A good story ( again, maybe a bit too much adult subject matter, but if you watched it first and then knew where to fast forward, it would be ok for teens) and a good "moral" message in it in the end. Set in China in the 30's during a cholera outbreak, it is the story of a young married couple who learns the true meaning of love in a nutshell. :) A bit more gritty than polly anna, though :) I didn't realize this was based on a novel by W. Somerset Maugham .


Well, there have been really too many to list ( or have already been listed) but a recent one was "The Story of Adele H" by Francis Truffaut. This was made in the 70's, which is unbelievable to me because historical pieces made in those times usually aren't very historically correct ( at least in appearance, you always have perhaps historical dress but then a totally 70's hairstyle :)
The story regards Adele Hugo ( yes, the daughter of the infamous Victor Hugo) who had a very puzzling life, to say the least. While the tale is sad, it was a beautiful film visually....and her story is one of those that prove life is indeed stranger than fiction.

BEST SONG: Well, thanks to Gwen's ballet recital, I have revisited worship music. I don't listen to much of the "christian" genre of music (I'm not talking about hymns--ie: modern christian music) because, well, um, gulp, I think a lot of it is cheesy ( no offense to those who enjoy it).
But I heard some pretty lovely tunes at her production and found them on napster. Hard to say which one I like best but they have been a nice addition to my year.

BEST TIMES: Since we got a lot of snow last winter, sledding was high on the list. Whether pulling the littles around the neighborhood or heading out to the sledding hill, definitely a highlight of the winter.

Spring: Possibly an early season camping trip at Lakeport. It was too cold to swim, but the weather was pleasant enough ( after it quit raining) to make for an enchanting get away.

Summer: Dylan's graduation was a golden day. He was the first to participate in a ceremony, and graduated with so many nice kids. The service was well done and there was a nice reception after.

Fall: Well, there was a nice little trip to Greenfield Village for the Farmer's Market. Having a pass this year has been great, but this trip was without the whole group and it was nice to explore the village without worrying about who wanted to do what and wanted to go where. It was also a lovely fall day and not very crowded ( which is always a big bonus for me! :)

BEST MEAL OUT: Toss up between Mother's Day Lunch @ Brio and dinner date with my parents at "The Hill"

BEST MEAL IN: Hmmm, a survey of the response of others leads me to say either Father's Day ( Jimmy Dee recipe ribs) or Christmas (roast beef and lamb)

BEST NEW RECIPE TRIED: Again, gauging the enthusiastic response from the majority of the household, it has been Neana's chili recipe which was first introduced on January 1st, 2009, btw. ;)

BEST THING THAT WAS SAID TO ME THIS YEAR: Jed "Mom, I've never seen you cry."
Let's hope next year someone will say "Mom, I've never heard you yell ( this year, at least;)

BEST NEW DEVELOPMENT OF THE YEAR: Somehow our move has made Jed a bit sleepier. Instead of getting up at 4:30 am he now slumbers away to at least 7....dare I say it aloud.... sometimes 8! Not that he is much of a troublesome fellow in the morning, I just selfishly like an hour or so of free brain time in the morning before everyone gets up and having someone there with me seems to intrude on that.

BEST DISCOVERY OF THE YEAR: Books. On. C.D. A revolution!

BEST UNEXPECTED TREAT: Having Nan here ALL summer! I know she missed her sunny, warm home but we were blessed to have her with us for an extended time this year!


Al-- probably I have said it too much, but mostly it has been amazement at seeing my little boy turn into a man. Excelling at his work, getting his own apartment, taking care of business all with very little help from us. Often, when we are together, he will get several calls from fellow employees and I marvel at how he interacts and makes decisions on the spot. He was always a bit shy and lacked self confidence and I've seen such an enormous growth in those areas.

Zak- It's always good to see Zak moving forward in life, and this year he has made great strides in that regard. College in Florida, a new job, a lovely girlfriend for over a year :), plans for college here this winter. He's always the life of the party, even when he visits us and we all appreciate his spunk and charm.

Dyl- Watching Dyl make conscious efforts at holiness. You can see it is sometimes a hard choice for him, but he does it anyway. He tries to keep things on an even keel around here. He tries to inspire others to do the right thing. He offers help. He went on a mission trip to Nicaragua and it made a real impact on him. He's excited about starting school this winter and finding a new job and having fun with friends, some a little more special than others :).

Noah: Noah is dutiful. He never (well, almost never:) complains when he is asked to do something ( and he is usually asked to do a lot due to his home improvement/computer skills) He never gets ruffled about much ( save an annoying sibling now and then). To someone like me who's emotions and moods are always flying in a hundred different directions I must say I find this trait very consoling. He's also very witty and fun to be around.

Naomi: Our refreshing breath of femininity even if she is a bit of a tom boy ( you'll often find her lounging on the couch watching a foot ball or basketball game). I marvel at her creativity in photography and writing. She really takes ownership of her education. She is motivated ( about most things, washing dishes, not so much ;) She loves her friends and is a good pal. She cares about their souls. She will often come up and give me a hug and say "Mom, I like you" :) That is a precious gift to me.


Jax hit the teen years this fall. While it could be said there have been some rough moments, ack! it is fun watching him meld into this phase of life. Gosh, he is getting SO big. His voice is changing. He's still not too old to give me a hug and a kiss and tell me "Mom, did I ever tell you that you are the best?" He's thoughtful. He has a tender heart. It's wondrous seeing this transition from boy to man.

George: Dear George is always looking out for me. Especially when I am stressed out ( which sometimes seems to be 99.9% of the time :) He asks how he can help. He tries to be responsible about his duties in life ( ie: school and chores)
He's always thinking. He ponders the great questions of life. He so wants to be a good kid and succeeds most of the time :) (Hey- he just turned 11- a little preteen lip-y-ness sneaks in every now and then). He has taken a real interest in photography and is almost never without his cd player and a good book on cd. :)

Sigh. Jed will be 7 this year. Well, that doesn't say much about his 6th year, except he is getting bigger like all my babies. I know it's got to happen, but there are days when I wish I could just slow things down a bit. He amazes us with his vocabulary. Like George he is always pondering what is going on around him and has many interesting and amusing reflections on it. He has a very good memory as whatever he is taking in stays with him ( at least for now, I remember those days when I was young, but they are now gone!;) He really is just a good little boy. He rarely gives us a bit of trouble. That isn't the be all and end all of a life, but it helps ;)

Immanuel: His fourth year. Manny is a quirky one. We all know it, yet we laugh. While I am chuckling a nervous thought about how "this seems funny now but what will he be like when he is a teenager" always seeps in. : ) Well, there ARE people who put quirkiness to good use! Right?
Of course he is absolutely adorable and we all want to munch him. I think of all the littles he is the universal favorite of his older sibs (Good thing Jed and Miss G. can't read this! ;) I'd say he has had a pretty good year. He gets a bit wild when out of his routine (I've had a few of these, so I am getting better at anticipating it) but overall he has been growing out of an extremes in that area.


Our little princess. So in love with pink and sparkles and pretty dresses and painted toes and nails, dolly's and hairbows. I'm thinking she is truly a girly girl. She even talks all the time! And dances! And sings! She's a smart little cookie.
Tim and I are constantly amazed that you can have coherent conversations with her at this age. Of course, we forgot we had 4 boys before her :) I've had to get used to having one who really enjoys having your undivided attention most of the time. Strange as it sounds, I don't actually have many kids like that ( or maybe I have and just ignored it before. :( Since it is looking like she is the last, it's not hard to just try to "be" with her...and drink in all that is left of her babyhood. She is definitely LOADS of fun.

Happy New Year!

Back to blogging.......CHRISTMAS 2009 ( Pt 1)

WARNING! We just moved so I get a pass on messy house pictures. ;)
It's rough getting up a 9 am!
Gabriella with her "Princess Potato Head" ( the current "littles" obsession around here)

A sweet little brother-big brother shot.
Zak and Noah waiting their turn.
"No Way!" Tim and Dyl get "Red Wings" tickets from Al.
Another happy customer thanks to big bro Al.
Naomi is so "Rochester" in her new hoodie.
Daddy and G sharing a candy cane moment
Manny zonked during Christmas dinner

This girl wanted a pretty Christmas dress instead of toys for her birthday
Thanks, Meemaw and Papa!

One evening (night? early morning?) during a spell of monthly insomnia, I chanced to browse past posts of my blog. I must say it was good to go back and read what the family was doing, what I was thinking, other blog posts that encouraged me, etc etc.
And so, I must, despite disliking this kind of thing in general, make a New Year's resolution to do better at keeping up the blog.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Daybook, November 8th 2009

Happy Birthday, Nan!

Outside my window: It's dark now, but the weather promises to be lovely today.

I am thinking....about Nan on her 91st birthday today. Happy Birthday Nan!

I am thankful .....for laundromats, this week :)

From the schoolroom..... hmmm, mostly just thinking how to improve. Some "winner" crafts:

A leaf walk where we picked up various leaves and dipped them in wax.

Reading the book; "The Zoo I Drew". While the title suggests drawing the animals, we took our new stock of construction paper and made various animals with it. The kids really got a bang out of them. Pictures to follow once we get a few more additions. It really is a darling book with lots of bright colors.

From the kitchen ...I'm making the first turkey of the season today. They had them on sale for 40 cents a pound at Walmart the other day. Since making a turkey is much easier than making 3 roasted chickens to feed us all, it works!

I am reading and watching and listening to:

Listened to:

Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson Really enjoyed this one. Very funny but poignant at the same time. Full of twists and turns and surprises.


The German Slave Girl by This is a fascinating book about a german woman who was taken for a slave. A true story based on the historical court case. Although most understand the horrors of slavery, this has opened my eyes to further atrocities.
I am hearing: Jed and Manny chattering. Gabriella breathing softly on my chest. Those three have been getting up WAY too early since the time change.

Around the house..we furiously scrambled about yesterday trying to get *warmer weather* chores done. The attic organized (I'm not going to say "cleaned out" but it was a start :) Leaves raked, vans de-junked.

One of my favorite things: having a load of bags to give to Goodwill. It makes me feel much lighter.

What will we do this week: I think not much out of the ordinary, which always makes me happy :)
We may take Maddie on a field trip to "The Shrine of the Little Flower" this weekend. Even though it is only about 20 minutes away, I've never been to the shrine!

Pictures I'm sharing....Halloween and All Saints. Only the three youngest participated this year ( the rest were Indiana for a soccer tournament) and Noah had to dress up for work. :) Dyl went to a party, but I never got a picture of him.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Last Day of October- October in review

Masquerade ball and a pretty new dress for Sissy
Naomi's Summit team won second place at the Nationals in Indiana (with the Flynn girls, Carmel, Bernadette and Sheila)
George was voted "The Player Who Gives 110%" (George's soccer team)
Jackson was voted "Best Goalie" Dylan was his coach
The view from the front porch of the cabin
A quick camping trip at Lakeport for just me, Naomi, Gwen, Jay, Noah and Neana

Drawing has been a huge pass time since we are indoors alot. :(
Sunset over Lake Huron
Jed became obsessed with owning a camera. He finally wore Dad down. ;) Thank heavens for pawn shops! ( = cheap cameras)
Big brother Dyl giving the littles an art lesson.
A lovely dinner date with just my parents and Tim and I.

I think we actually made this trip to Greenfield Village the last weekend of September, but...... :)
Our first batch of pumpkins were mauled by squirrels. Grrr

Although it has been a pretty cold October, the glory of fall colors still greeted us each day. I think the winds from yesterday/today may just have erased this sort of scene for good. :)

I am thankful for: Relieved my friend's daughter didn't have leukemia. Zak got a job. Tim recovered from his kidney stone.

Book and video highlights:


The Widow of St Pierre

This starred Juliette Binoche and Daniel Auteuil. The funny thing about Daniel Auteuil is the last time I saw him in a movie it was "Manon of the Spring". In that he was a bit slow in the head and generally bumbling about. In this one, a dashing military officer with a beautiful wife. It really was a gorgeous film. Lovely costumes and scenery. I don't know that the premise of the movie was all that believable ( it said it was based on a true story, but I couldn't uncover anything about the real tale). It revolved around a man who committed murder while drunk, was sentenced to death and had to wait several months for his sentence to be carried out since the small island they lived on ( St Pierre, new Newfoundland) didn't have a guillotine or an executioner ( apparently at that time that was the only mode of execution the French would allow). While waiting he was *adopted* by the chief officers wife and shown to be a good man. Without giving too much of the film away, what I admired about the story is that the man ( the murderer) never shirked from his sentence or tried to escape. He was courageous enough to accept that he had done something wrong and was willing to pay the consequences for it despite having love and sympathy from nearly the whole town. A couple of iffy parts that may not make it appropriate for teens and there may have been one sexually graphic part, but I fastforwarded through it and can't really say how steamy it got. :)

Napoleon (PBS)

Love him or hate him, you can't deny he was one interesting character. This PBS documentary was excellent.

Elizabeth 1, Virgin Queen

Another PBS Masterpiece Theater winner. I wasn't sure how they could make a tale that has been told many times fresh and new, but they did. Excellent, but probably some iffy parts for teens.

Read/listened to:

Cotollion by Georgette Heyer

This was very "Jane Austen-esque" and thoroughly delightful. Recommended!

Napoleon: His Wives and Women : Christopher Hibbert

A very interesting biography about the women in his life. I am pretty impressed with this author as a biographer. He knows how to tell the story and keep it interesting.

From the kitchen: I made some quiches for the first time in a very long time. Spinach and quiche Lorraine. They weren't all that popular with most, which is why I guess I don't routinely make them. :)

Around the house: I did get some organizing done when the family was in Indiana for Nationals. Even though I had the two littlest home with me, it was a whole lot easier keeping the house clean with just those two. Go figure! ;)

I think I finally got all the winter/summer clothes switched out. George helped me clean the garage and did a great job with all the wood piled up by the freezer.

One of my favorite things. of all ages coming in to talk at night in my room.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The last week of September

"B" is for Bat. Manny and Gabriella decided to make some funky ones. :)
Jackson, the awesome goalie!
and defense man....what else? :) He's about a half a foot taller and 50 lbs more than most on either team :)...which this photo shows clearly LOL!
George is my new favorite photographer!

Outside my window: a very lovely fall day.

I am thinking....about all the things on my" honey- do list" I should try to ask Tim to get to since he is in a stellar mood today. The. LIONS. WON.

I am thankful .....for a fantastic fall day spent at Greenfield Village.

From the schoolroom....B is for Bats with the preschoolers. Manny has finally started to show an interest in preschool type things. We made some "handprint" bats, and read books on the subject. I thought to celebrate the first day of fall by going swimming :) ( it was warm enough) but didn't get to it. The rest are cooking along. Signed Naomi up for the PSAT October 14.

From the kitchen ....there were so many saurkraut themed meals at GFV yesterday, I felt I had to make some today! :) I tried a corn chowder recipe that was pretty good. Usually I do crab/corn chowder, but this time just corn.

I am wearing . ..khaki capri's, navy and cream knit top, grey, short sleeve hoodie, flip flops.

I am reading and watching . .listening on cd :

I think I am suffering from the "I just read a great book and now everything else pales in comparison" because I am having a hard time finding anything that keeps my interest. I bring home an armload from the library, and check the reviews on Amazon, but not much luck. I am keeping with "Sarah's Story" by
As stated on Amazon, the writing is a bit juvinile and the modern part of the story a bit cliched of course she is an (american living in Paris, of course she is a journalist, of course she has a handsome, rich,French husband and they are remodeling a chic apartment. Of course she has the token gay male couple for friends, who cook marvelous meals and throw fabulous dinner parties, and, of course, she is working on a controversial story with a dark secret! blah blah blah :).....but the *historical* part of the story is interesting.


The Case of Cornielia Connely.

Yes, this is SOME case.

Unto the Daughters by Karen Tintori

Very fascinating book about an Italian family in Detroit in the early parts of the 20th century. The author was investigating her family history and found an alarming skeleton in the closet. Also descriptions of their lives in Sicily before coming to the US. I feel like I've read lots of books about immigrants to the United States, but she has so much interesting information about how it was, some I've never heard. Engrossing.

Nuns in America: by John Fialka


Nothing much watched this week. But I did see Phantom of the Opera on stage. :)Which was outstanding!

I am hearing . ...Sports Center, what else? The Lions won for the first time since 2007. LOL!

Around the house. ..wahhhhh! Trying hard not to mutter about the fact whenever I take a day off, it's all waiting for me when I come home, plus some. :) (but I did mutter, anyway)

One of my favorite things. ....the first,crisp apple from the apple orchard. And doughnuts and cider. Time to get over there!

What will we do this week. ...the usual, soccer, school, classes ...catechism starts this week. Jed's first time. :) Going out to eat with my parents. It won't be long until they are all heading back to Florida. :(

Here’s a picture I am sharing. ...a pictorial of our week......:)

Streams of consciousness from a mother of 10 who usually can't collect her thoughts and finds commas a nuisance.