Thursday, January 30, 2014

Perfectly Logical, Right?

I don't know much about all the ins and outs of Obama*Care and insurance, but I know that the health care system is a total mess when things like this happen ---

1. Weird bumps on my neck.

2. Went to dermatologist.

3. She told me it wasn't cancerous or dangerous (yay!), prescribed a special cream.... and gave me a coupon that would let me get it for $10. Great.

4. Jon dropped off the prescription.

5. Jon went to pick up the prescription and was told that the cream would cost $600!!! That's right... $600 for cream for benign bumps on my neck.

6. Jon tells pharmacy tech he has a coupon.

7. Pharmacy tech punches in some numbers and says, "Ok. That will be $10."

8. Jon pays $10, gives me the cream, I put it on the bumps, the bumps go away, and we all live happily ever after.

BUT.... I just can't stop wondering how much it really costs to make this cream. $600???? $10????? Did those numbers just get pulled out of thin air? Do some people pay $600 for this stuff? Why have the coupons? Is this stuff really just Jergens*Lotion shoved into a medical-looking tube?

What a mess! These sort of games are what make the health care situation so horrible.

The end of rant.

Ultimately, I'm so thankful to have access to good healthcare, to have insurance, to be dealing with benign neck bumps rather than something much more serious. Thank you Lord! Please send us a genius saint to figure out how to help EVERYONE have access to good medical care that makes sense and isn't a big game. Amen.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Keeping Warm

 Brrr!!! More snow and more cold. It was a hibernating kind of weekend here.  The roads were pretty bad this morning and there weren't many people even at the noon Mass. This evening, though, the roads were clear enough and my family got together at my mom's house. She made us a super yummy dinner ---- chicken Marengo --- and we had fun visiting. Thanks Mom!

We've actually been doing this a lot on Sunday evenings recently and it's become a nice family time. Mom has been cooking the main dishes and we've all been bringing the sides. It reminds me a lot of the tradition my family had when I was a kid. We always went to Mass on Sunday mornings and then to my Grandparents' house for a big family breakfast.

A few pictures of keeping warm on this snowy day ---

My fun new socks.... gotta have some color to make me smile!

Yum! Hot chai tea with almond milk in a beautiful mug that belonged to my grandmother.

Scarf twins!

The kids table!

Yummy meal.
Paper plates.
Not many dishes.
Just wish I had gotten a picture of the yummy pie Colleen brought.
And now, the best way to end the day.....
It's time for ....

Downton Abbey!
I hope nobody gets raped or killed this week!
Have a great week!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Wow! It is COLD here in Central Ohio. I really don't remember a year with such sustained cold temperatures in January. It's not even February yet and we're all already longing for Spring.

We've been doing lots of school work.... learning about Ancient Rome, trying to master multiplication tables and cursive handwriting, and reading A LOT! I am cherishing our read aloud time more than ever, knowing that the boys won't always love snuggling with me on the couch and begging for "just one more chapter."

Interestingly, Adam and I both are suffering today from what I call a "book hangover." It's that empty feeling when you finish a book that you REALLY enjoyed. You want to go back into that world and stay there longer.... but you have to face unfinished chores instead. ;)

The book that Adam is missing is a read-aloud that we all really enjoyed. It's our book for next week's book club meeting, Frindle by Andrew Clements. It's a great story about a precocious fifth grader who invents a new word for "pen." I really appreciate how the author created a story that is funny and touching and also explains the process of how words are "invented" and become part of our language. For book club, we are making up our own words and we will be learning dictionary skills.

I just finished reading Longbourn by Jo Baker. This is a great read for all my fellow Downton Abbey fans! The author weaves a story about what life may have been like for the men and women "below stairs" in Jane Austen's story Pride and Prejudice. I haven't found a real page-turner like this one for a while. I've been up late several nights this past week, just reading "one more chapter."

Besides schooling and reading, I've been cooking. I've tried a few new winter recipes that have been big hits here. Jon has been raving about the Turkey Pumpkin Chili which we first tasted at a friend's house recently and then I made this week. And we all enjoyed a yummy Chicken Pot Pies tonight. I have to admit, though, that I am not one who really enjoys cooking as a hobby. When I finished the pot pies tonight (I made some to freeze and give to a friend having a baby soon) I was beat. I told Jon I'm done with cooking until at least Monday. Thank God he's a leftover man!

The boys continue to love the Nabi tablets they received for Christmas. We've been discovering more and more cool things they can do, especially for school. We've loaded several Math apps and now they're writing their own stories and illustrating them several ways (including with pictures they take with the Nabi).  They are also now big Minecraft fans. Adam's been building Ancient Rome in his "world."

Thankfully, we still have a stack of Christmas gifts that we haven't broken into. (Thanks so much generous family members!) This weekend we're going to get into some of the big Lego sets.... and probably play new board games too.

We have been getting out of the house some. Ray's playing basketball and Adam is taking karate again. They both are in Cub Scouts. What we miss most is just being able to get outside and run around a bit. Right now all three "boys" are downstairs playing Wii Fit.... anything to get some exercise these days.

Tax season has begun. Jon's starting to work longer hours. He twisted his back this week and has been quite sore, but other than that we're all ready for the madness to begin.

And then there's these two silly cats ----

They spend most of their time curled up like this on the futon (which they now apparently think is theirs). And Mari, our foam-eating daredevil, has taken to darting out the front door every time it opens and rolling around on the cold concrete porch.

So that's an update from the Arctic! I hope you're staying warm wherever you are.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Encyclopedia Brown Meets Amelia Bedelia

Best. Book. Club. Meeting. Ever.

The boys read Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective by Donald J. Sobol. This is now a 51 year old book... and all of the boys loved it.

The girls read Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. Who doesn't like a punny, ridiculous Amelia Bedelia story? She rocks!

When the boys arrived, I handed them each a "Top Secret Detective File" filled with fun mystery-solving tools.

As they moved to the family room, they discovered a crime scene!

They were mystified, incredulous, and skeptical. I had them take notes about the clues they found. Who made this mess? Why?

Meanwhile, we had a celebrity appearance in the living room!

Amelia Bedelia.... in the flesh.... with a pie!!!! It just doesn't get better than this!

Amelia Bedelia read to the girls and I gathered the boys to learn about the Mystery Genre.

We learned about the elements of a mystery and we played a game to help the boys learn some mystery vocabulary words. I read the definitions and the boys had to slap the cards that matched.

We practiced our detective/thinking skills as we read and watched videos of some short mysteries. We also played the "tray game" where the boys studied the objects on a tray and then tried to figure out which ones were taken away. Then, we got back to our crime scene.

The boys had lots of outlandish theories about who made the mess and why. Santa Claus, Jon, and I were the main suspects. The fire place shield was moved over, there was white powdery dust all over the mantle and fireplace, there was a bag of powdered donuts, Jon's shoes were left by the fireplace, Adam's books and some cat toys were laying around, a feather duster sat on the chair, my phone was on the table, and Latin songs were playing on the TV. Which items were real clues and which were red herrings? Evidence was collected, there was some dusting for fingerprints,..... but finally it was a clue from me that allowed the detectives to crack the case.
I finally admitted to them that I had hired some help around the house. I asked my new helper to dust the mantel.
And then they knew....
They went running to the living room, pointing fingers.

It was Amelia Bedelia!
I asked her to dust the mantel and that's what she did....
she put dust (baby powder) all over the mantel!
The mystery was solved and then it was time for pie! The girls made these lovely Amelia Bedelia hats....

You may notice.... the girls club has a new member! ;)
...and shared some yummy pie with everyone.
What a fun afternoon of learning!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wrapping Up the Christmas Season

We certainly did continue our Christmas celebrations all throughout the 12 days of Christmas this year!

Last Friday evening our homeschool group gathered for a Christmas dinner and mini-pageant.

The kids worked on crafts.

We all enjoyed a yummy potluck dinner.

The kids decorated cookies for dessert.

We told the Christmas story.

Lots of kids and parents worked together to "act out" the 12 Days of Christmas song.

Lovely ladies dancing!

Several families recited poems or sang songs.

We played "Put Baby Jesus in the Manger."
We even had some professional entertainment!
"Rated E for Egolf" performed some carols.

 The next evening, we gathered with some friends for our 2nd Annual Epiphany Party. It was a super fun evening which included a pizza dinner, King Cake, crafts, games, and visiting.

More crafts!
The kids all decorated little gift boxes for Baby Jesus.
They whispered prayers into their boxes and presented them to Baby Jesus in the Nativity scene.

They made some ornaments with crowns, gifts, and stars.

We played "Pin the Crown on the King."

We listened to "The Story of the Three Wise Kings" by Tomie dePaola.
We opened Christmas "poppers."

We had fun wearing the crowns from the poppers.
Another craft.... making the camels and kings with handprints/fingerprints.

We played a fun game.

 On Christmas morning, a tower of 12 gifts appeared in our family room.... one for each day of the season. They were gifts for the family. It was fun to open them up throughout the season.
Here's a glimpse at some of them  ----

 In addition to the basic 12 books, we had two new books about the 12 Days of Christmas. I particularly like this one, which came from Five*Below ---

This beautiful set of 12 Days of Christmas ornaments came from Hobby Lobby.

This "family rules" graphic is going to be put in our hallway as we come down the stairs.

We've had a lot of fun already with this dinner time game.

The grand finale gift was a Snap*Circuit*Lights set. These sets are awesome! The boys have been making some really cool things with this one. It was a great way to wrap up our December "LIGHT" unit.

And so yesterday we took down the tree and most of our other Christmas decorations. We had a good week getting back into heavy-duty schoolwork. We celebrated joyfully and fully and now we're happy to be settling into some more Ordinary Time.