Monthly Archives: December 2012

Holiday Week

The boys took a holiday week. Me, not so much.
I have never had a more un-relaxing holiday week in my life. Well, it had it’s moments, but basically, I want to take a lesson for next year.

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In a very stressful moment, my son was trying to snap pictures and get me to smile.

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Christmas Morning

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Sleepy boys- My boys did better than the rest of the family that missed out on the memo that Christmas means waking up early.

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Opening gifts…
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Audio books and stories are always a hit!

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F. opening his gift

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J. opening his gift

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M. getting the food ready

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One of many platters

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Mid-afternoon meal

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Children all lined up

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Excited faces
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The rest of the children

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Taking turns
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H. opening his gift

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P. and his gifts

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My gift

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L.’s gift

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P. new tool’s

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Little W. telling us a story

We spent the night, having one giant sleep over, which is more fun when you are younger. The young ones had a blast!
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They all woke up bright and early and I fed them cereal and we decided to watch White Christmas as we ran out of time in the evening!

I then took my younger two and my nephew on a hike in the snow, and sledding. They were perfect for the rest of the day, played a game of Life, which by the way….was very stressful for me. I do not understand why it is 100,000 in debt to go to college, no scholarships for good grades offered, everything is sue happy, and money grubbing. I think we will use the money with our old board!
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They also played with legos and ate candy, popcorn, and cookies. It was a very healthy day. Hey! They were happy!

The next day, we decided to go sledding with a big group of us, they were so excited, they all got ready way too far ahead of time.
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We remedied it with sandwiches!
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My cousin’s son…
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Yum, cookies!
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My aunt’s son

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We enjoyed sledding, and I went up and down, up and down the hills on purpose for a good workout.

We started some light schoolwork, which I needed some more days off, but we did history, reading, geography, etc. I should have added in some math drills, but I was exhausted.

Friday- again after a light school day, the older boys went to work at my sisters, and I took T. for a hike in the snow- deeper snow now, and sledding. It was a bit difficult to walk in, but walked/hiked for over an hour.

I am trying to gear up for a new school week and hoping to make it work for the rest of the school year!

Week #18, here we come!

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The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish

The Air we breathe
By Christa Parrish

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Molly Fisk is trapped. Trapped inside her house, by fear from the past, a past that she does not want to remember. In hiding, with her mother, she however, is finding herself not satisfied with the life of staying inside the wax museum that she and her mother run for a living.
When her friends come to visit, she is like a normal 17 year old, but when they ask her to go somewhere with them, she balks and finds excuses.
Claire is trapped in another world. It is the world of blame and guilt caused by her mind. She blames herself for a car accident that claimed the lives of her children, including her unborn child. The subsequent divorce, isolation and issues that bound up her heart were one day forgotten somewhat when she met Hanna, a little girl whom refused to speak to anyone except her.

The story is well written with some lack of explanation though too far into the story. I had to fill in a few of the blanks in my own mind, but would have liked a little more details sooner along in the story. (Spoiler Alert) The one thing that was missing was the info on what happened to the consequences of the mother’s crime, even though she had a valid reason for committing it.

I found the story very interesting, winding around heart and mind issues. The fear that can paralyze a person portrayed very well throughout the story.
Even though, I wished the story were told in a different order, I would highly recommend it. It does contain some graphic descriptions of the violent act committed against a little girl and her father as a warning if you are sensitive.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review

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Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

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Easy Stuffed Mushrooms

Are you looking for an easy appetizer to serve? These Mushrooms fit the bill! A long time family favorite, they go together in a matter of minutes.

Whole mushrooms- stems removed
Salsa
1″ Cheese slices

Remove the stems from mushrooms, wipe off the caps with a paper towel. Place stem side up on a baking tray.
Fill each cap with salsa and place slice of cheese on top of each. Bake at 375 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbly about 10 minutes. Serve!

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Week #17

Monday
Today was a beautiful snow filled day. It was cold in the house though!!! It is amazing how hard it is to move when you are cold!
We read about Charlemagne today, what a complicated, terrible and nice guy all wrapped in one. We had a discussion about the kidneys and I am doing a search for tomorrow to show how the kidneys work.

How kidneys work

Another animation – Kidneys

Living with dialysis

After school, we went to the library for volunteer time.
We checked out a few books, movies and audio books.
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T. using their self check out machine in the children’s dept. They installed them several months back. I found a couple of books I am looking forward to reading. One is called something about “Living among the bears.”

Then in the evening P. had to go to JV basketball practice, they went first to do a quick workout beforehand, and then he went off for practice and the rest of us went to Christmas Carol at a nursing home.
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Everyone seemed to enjoy it and all the little children. I think it was hard for the boys and I realized I have not taken them to visit nursing homes enough. They were sad for the people when we left and on their own assured me that they would take care of me so that I never would go to one of them.
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T. trying to catch the flying flag in the wind….

Tuesday:
I told the boys if they completed their school quickly, we would go and get their reading certificate pizzas at Pizza Hut. It took longer than it should have, and we did not get all our reading done, so we took it with us.
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Christmas coloring contest pictures

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Ready for Pizza!!

The place was stuffed with the middle school orchestra students though, so it was so noisy!!! Reading aloud was hard, but we powered through. Pizza, Beowolf and the Celt’s…what a combination!

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I find this history is so interesting that I am wanting to just keep reading and my voice is having trouble keeping up!

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After pizza, we headed over to hear the orchestra play. It was beautiful!
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It was super crowded in there though!
We finished some of our shopping and I was exhausted when we got home. My little boys decided that I needed to have them make me dinner, so they prepared this tea for me.
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It was so sweet!

Wednesday:
We powered through school, but it came to me that it was going to be impossible to get everything done and get all we had to do for Christmas done as well. I have a lot of baking to do, Ravioli day etc.
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School has been supplemented by games like Monopoly a few times this week. We are excited about playing Chess as well, but cannot find all our chess pieces.

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So, Monopoly has to stand in!

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P. working hard on writing!
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Brain power food!!!

Thursday:
We had all our work done and were ready for Thursday classes, but got the call that because of illness, some serious illnesses, classes were canceled. This added an extra job of mailing work out, so a stop at the post office was planned.
It also meant that all the boys got to attend their cousin’s school program.
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He sang a bunch of songs with his class!
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What a big class!!

We completed grocery shopping. I was really blessed at the grocery store. We stopped to get a snack and order lunch meat. I ordered a couple of things to hold them over, and the deli counter lady threw in some onion rings for the boys for free. I walk over to order salami, and the lady says “Salami today?” She loves to see the boys excited about their salami and give them each a piece to eat. They always miss them when I don’t bring them to the store!

Friday:
P. went off this morning to volunteer at the food bank for a couple of hours. I prepared pasta dough, gathered supplies, tools and headed out for Ravioli day!
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Another game of Monopoly!

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Everyone took turns rolling out dough!

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Flour gets everywhere!

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Some people took breaks!!

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Little hands helping!

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Feeding the dough through takes teamwork and hand eye coordination!

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Another helper!!
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Ready to go in the freezer!

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All the scraps we turn into homemade pasta for dinner! Here is one of the two piles!! It is so good!

So, that was our week!

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A Christmas Homecoming by MaryAnn Diorio

This short Christmas story is like the prodigal son in many ways.
In this story, Jody left home as a teenager, has lost her livelihood and decides when everything else has failed to come home.
Her mother Sonia has been facing her own battles as a widow. The loss of her daughter has impacted hr life in such a way, she wonders if she can find the heart to forgive her.

This story is short and sweet. It is the story of forgiveness when the person did not deserve forgiveness. Love when she deserved hatred. I found the story lacking a bit in details, but it got a point across that in many cases, when people seek to be forgiven, sometimes they don’t deserve it, but we can extend grace and move forward. – Martha

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Week #16

This week was kind of a difficult week for us! Not as much school wise as otherwise.
I got a present from my secret sister in the mail, and got a book to help complete my Gene Stratton Porter collection almost…

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P. spent time volunteering at a Christmas party for the homeless shelter, helping to decorate cookies, sing, and his uncle played piano.

We had some minor car trouble early in the week, so I was without a vehicle for 5 days, while we waited for parts to come in. It was nice in some ways, but a little frustrating in others!
We had planned a field trip to Pizza Hut, and had to cancel it because of the lack of vehicle, but we just got more school done at home!

L. and H. tied this week on their math drill!! They are both doing well on it…it is fun to see!

We got some snow this week! Yay! That was something good. In all the trials of the week, I have been focusing on looking for the positive in things. I was finding that I was very thankful it was only the car having trouble, and not my children. We do not have any major health issues right now and I am thankful for that.

We were studying the heart this week. I found some really cool videos of open heart surgery done while the heart was still beating (real surgery) and we also did some anatomy quizzes online.

Here are a few of the links.
http://www.emtb.com/9e/anatomy_review.cfm

I don’t know if I can find the surgery one again….
Here was one

We also watched a Discovery video on how the bypass machine was invented.

I have not had time to upload my pictures, so this is a post without pictures for now!

We had classes, writing, science, and other. One of my children struggles with listening and not getting distracted while working on his school and while he is very smart, ends up falling behind. I am working on his handwriting as well as paying attention. He has gotten way better though!

Thursday we had the end of the year basketball party. It went really well!

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Part of the food table. I should have taken a picture of the 18 pizzas we bought as well!

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Sitting down to eat…a rare sight!

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No more sitting! They played and played!

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And played some more!

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They kept it up for the entire 2.5 hours…
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We were glad that they all got to come and it went well!

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Friday, we were supposed to make hummus, but it is really hard to find Tahini in a town this size. Instead we enjoyed hummus with our tea from the store.

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Oliver Twist – Focus on the Family audio

You will be transported into another world with this version of Focus on the family Radio Theater’s version of Oliver Twist. From your horror in the beginning that people could actually treat children in such horrific manner, to the realizing while you are listening that this still goes on today in many parts of the world, this audio version will touch your heart and soul and reach into your children’s minds as well.

We listened to this on our trip to and from Thanksgiving dinner and it really spoke to us about how thankful we were for what we have. It also made us want to reach out more to the orphans, abused children and those around us. I see how many times in this time, we do similar things to what happened in that time in England. We are afraid that the child, since they were orphaned, abandoned etc. that they may have problems bigger than what we can help with, and it is true. Sometimes they do. But I see the adoptive parents, the foster parents and others around me and to me, they are heroes. They stepped outside their comfort zones, to show love. I believe even if the outcome is not always what they wanted, God sees their hearts and can use that in that child’s life someday.

This audio version of Oliver Twist is not easy to listen to always, but it is not graphically done. The evil people are evil, including the people from the church. The good people are good, but they are afraid as well at times and are certainly not perfect. My children, ages 8-14, as well as my husband and I were mesmerized by this story. The trip was very quiet and went by super fast because of this!

I highly recommend it, especially if you have a long drive coming up!

This audio version was provided for review by Tyndale and the reflections reflected here are my own and I was not paid for my review.

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At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

At Every Turn
By Anne Mateer

Reviewed by Martha Artyomenko

Alyce Benson is impetuous, slightly spoiled and raised by a wealthy father. She has a good heart though, and when she is attending a mission service, gets caught up in the moment, pledges $3000 if the ladies can raise the matching sum. But when she asks her father for the money, he turns her down cold. Now, her problem is to figure out how to get the money on her own.

One thing goes wrong after another, but when she takes a hobby she has, love for speed and cars, she convinces her father’s mechanic to let her race secretly to get the prize money.
But nothing is ever easy; her friends start to try to make her think that her father’s mechanic and friend is not being honest with her.
Can she prove that he is what he says he is or should she trust the man that wants to marry her?

Anne Mateer has the knack for writing a story that will draw you in. Alyce is spoiled, yes, but she is also sincere in her bumbling mistakes. When she hears the missionaries, she just wants to help them so bad. I could so relate to her in that. She just really wanted to help and assumed something about her father as well. I saw that in the course of this book, she grew up a lot. I loved the talks with her grandma, and thought that romance part of it was really sweetly done. It was not over the top, or super descriptive, but was just sweet.

This book was provided for review from Bethany House Publishing. The thoughts included are my own and mine alone.

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Twelve Months by Steven Manchester

My Review:
I am very late in posting this review, but I read this book tonight.
Don DiMarco has a life that he loves, family he loves and a beautiful wife, grandchildren. He has always wanted to do many things, but suddenly finds himself facing his own mortality when he is given a year to live. Cancer.
It is not treatable.
He is forced to make a decision to focus on treatment options or enjoy his last year. When he chooses the latter, you will go on a journey with him, making memories that he wanted to all his life and never had time for.

This book is one that will touch the hardest heart. I avoid books about cancer usually as they make me cry. This one was no exception. I gathered my children around me after reading this book and thanked God for them tonight. It is the story of a man who put off the desires he had until the end, but didn’t let that stop him from filling every moment, even while in pain. This book is written in a style that I could see would appeal to men especially. It reads like a memoir of an old friend. It does contain some swear words, for those readers who do not read books with swearing, but it not too many, but they are there.
I would use this book to encourage others that are fighting a fight of cancer, remember to make sure to spend your days with those you love. Make peace with those who you do not have it, and check your heart to see if you are right with your Maker. -Martha

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today’s Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Story Plant, The (August 14, 2012)
***Special thanks to Steven Manchester for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Steven Manchester is the published author of Pressed Pennies, The Unexpected Storm: The Gulf War Legacy and Jacob Evans, as well as several books under the pseudonym, Steven Herberts. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of his short stories were selected “101 Best” for Chicken Soup for the Soul series.  

Visit the author’s Facebook.
Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Don DiMarco has a very good life – a family he loves, a comfortable lifestyle, passions and interests that keep him amused. He also thought he had time, but that turned out not to be the case. Faced with news that might have immediately felled most, Don now wonders if he has time enough. Time enough to show his wife the romance he didn’t always lavish on her. Time enough to live out his most ambitious fantasies. Time enough to close the circle on some of his most aching unresolved relationships. Summoning an inner strength he barely realized he possessed, Don sets off to prove that twelve months is time enough to live a life in full. A glorious celebration of each and every moment that we’re given here on Earth, as well as the eternal bonds that we all share, Twelve Months is a stirring testament to the power of the human spirit.

Product Details:
List Price: $15.95
Paperback: 326 pages
Publisher: Story Plant, The (August 14, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 161188053X
ISBN-13: 978-1611880533

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Prologue

They say – whoever they are – that every story has to start at its beginning. I’m not sure that’s true. Maybe the best place to start with any story is the here and now. And that’s exactly where we’ll begin.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Let me paint a picture for you: My name’s Don DiMarco and I live at 55 Summerfield Avenue on the outskirts of Pilgrim Hill. It’s a small, residential neighborhood that sits beside a giant field of white and yellow daisies. And it’s become the perfect place to enjoy my once-dreaded retirement.

In the mornings, even though I swore I’d never own another dog, Foxhound – named after my childhood companion – and I go for our daily walk and take it all in. It’s like living in the middle of a Thomas Kinkade original.

Colonial, Cape Cod, and ranch style homes line both sides of the street, each one betraying the unique character befitting its owner. Brick driveways, laid out in a herringbone design, are guarded by statues of grinning lions or laughing cherubs. Faded cedar shingles are offset with cranberry or forest green shutters. Striped awnings hang above each window, while multi-colored petunias fill each box beneath. Open porches with rocking chairs lead to inviting front doors, their flowered wreaths matching the hanging potted plants that drip with warmth. Red brick and black wrought iron complement the sparkle of glass and richness of mahogany. In the rear, Connecticut stone patios host sturdy picnic benches and swinging hammocks.

Most of the yards are meticulously landscaped. Rhododendrons and azaleas burst with color, while apple and cherry blossom trees weave a carpet of pink and white petals beneath their twisted branches.

While Foxhound pulls at his leash, I prefer to maintain a leisurely pace. It’s amazing the details you can pick up if you just stop long enough to pay attention.

To the harmony of singing birds, a tiny peeper calls out from a moss-covered stonewall. I like to stop for a moment and feel the tingle of a gentle breeze and the sun’s warm hands on my skin. Suddenly, the powerful aroma of fresh-cut grass grabs my senses and I breathe it all in.

As we travel on, red maples and giant sycamores dance with the white birches and mighty oaks. If you follow their branches to the top, you’ll find melted marshmallow clouds traveling a slow and easy pace against a sky of blue that’s indescribable.

Though Foxhound and I enjoy our time alone, I also like the occasional exchange of a warm smile or friendly wave. When we’re lucky, we’ll catch Sarah pushing her newborn in an open antique carriage. When we’re not so lucky, we’ll come across another dog walker and his four-legged friend. Though I’ve tried to teach him better manners, Foxhound suffers terribly from an only child syndrome.

When you put all the pieces together, I guess Summerfield Avenue is my true refuge. For me, everything is at peace here. That, coupled with the fact I’ve finally managed a perfect lawn, how could I ever complain?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As I think I’ve mentioned, I retired early – at fifty-seven years old – which allows me lots of time to spend with those I love and to think about the paths I’ve traveled. Family, of course, comes first.

Isabella – my beautiful Bella – is my true partner and wife. She’s a great cook and from what I can tell, while I’m out cutting the grass or changing the car’s oil, she’s always loved playing the traditional role of homemaker. Through the years, she’s insisted on very few things, but the one thing she’s asked for is that the family eat together at the dinner table each night. Bella and I have been together so long it’s tough to tell the differences between us. I guess you could say we more than complement each other. She laughs when I say it, but I believe we’re two halves that make up a whole. A firm but compassionate soul, Bella has worked with mentally disabled children for the better part of four decades. We’re holiday Catholics and for years, she took care of her ailing mother – her cross to bear – and had a difficult time letting go when the old woman finally passed. Bella can’t sit still. She’s constantly cleaning. And my wife, I’ve learned, has never been wrong – which might honestly be her only true flaw.

At thirty-six, our only child, Riley, is still Daddy’s little girl. On the morning we were blessed with her company, I remember thinking, In my daughter’s face, I have seen my grandmother’s smile. With my brown hair and her mother’s hazel eyes, she turned out as pretty as she is kind – which is most important, if you ask me. To the applause of thunder and torrential downpours, Riley came into the world without wanting to cause anyone any trouble. I sensed she was an old soul and we clicked right away. I suppose she had a normal upbringing; from Tomboy to boy crushes to college, where she eventually followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an advocate for disabled children. Through the years, she became a gifted softball player – which I think was equally considerate of me, as I had no son – and an avid cyclist; a passion that has carried on through her adulthood. Riley and I have also shared an undying love for the Boston Red Sox. However, she did go through a rebellious stage I tried to ignore as much as humanly possible. With a back tattoo, belly button ring and a few nights where she had too much to drink and needed to call me for a ride (I never made a big deal about it at the time, preferring that she call me rather than drive home intoxicated), trust me when I say we’ve had our moments.

I thought I was lucky to have had two loves of my life – that is, until the grandkids came along.

After testing a string of potential suitors, Riley finally settled down with Michael. Even if I’d wanted to dislike him like some of the others, there’s no way I could have. He was respectful to me and Bella, but more importantly he was good to Riley. Before long, our daughter became Riley DiMarco-Resonina, a name I’ve never stopped kidding her about. “Wanna buy a vowel?” I’d ask, but she’s always been a good sport about it. Riley and Michael waited quite a while, but they eventually gave me and Bella two beautiful grandbabies. The first was Madison Ruth, named after Michael’s mother. Then came Michael Donald, which honored me beyond words. And with these children, I’ve been completely blessed. Grandkids are the perfect payoff for any life.

Ms. Madison, the oldest, was tough stuff from the start. With rosebud lips, a potato nose and her grandma’s eyes, the gap between her two front teeth makes her smile contagious. The word determined can’t even begin to describe this child. Of course, she looks like a living doll in her flowered dresses and fancy bows, but in reality she’s all tomboy like her mom. Her relationship with her baby brother is reflective of the tough love my brother Joseph and I shared when we were coming up. “No one’s going to mess with this kid,” I’ve boasted time and again.

Michael Donald, the baby, was the chubbiest newborn I’d ever laid eyes on, so I nicknamed him Pudge and have never called him anything else since. With his dad’s dimpled smile, he’s a mix of Mamma’s boy and the kind of rough and tumble lad that any man would love to have for a son. Before he could walk, this inquisitive little grubber was throwing baseballs and testing out different wrestling moves.

Madison and Pudge have always called me Poppa and I could not be any more grateful to their dad for allowing me to share in their love and adoration. As if it were possible, I’ve spoiled both of them even more than I did Riley. And the truth is – I’ve never once felt guilty for it.

Forgive me for going on like this. Though I always swore I wouldn’t, it seems I’ve become the stereotypical grandfather.

Let’s see, we were talking about the joys of retirement. Well, I still work – or volunteer, I should say. After years spent in a woodworking shop, I now volunteer in a children’s hospital, transporting kids. I love it. I do. There’s no pressure, better hours and I’m not killing myself any more because I’ve learned everything I need to know about money. The way I see it is – when you don’t place so much value on something, it’s not as important as it once was. Believe me, there’s great freedom in that.

Before turning in each night, I like to sit on my deck in my Adirondack chair with my musty-smelling stray lying by my side. Prayer, meditation – whatever you’d like to call it – I now enjoy getting in touch with my spiritual side. At first, going within felt very strange, but the more time I’ve spent in the stillness – not thinking or doing anything, just being – the closer I’ve felt to myself; to the essence of who I truly am. To me, sitting on that deck at the start of a silver-lined dusk is like hosting a family reunion with my soul.

Like some unfinished masterpiece still in the process of creation, on most nights the light is bent to create the most magnificent colors, unnamed and infinite. Midnight blue poured onto black velvet, the ordinary is turned mysterious. Like a snow-covered mountain range, billowy clouds crawl by. The dark silhouetted tree line against a steel gray sky leaves me with the illusion of solitude and I am grateful for the opportunity to appreciate the light. Then, a giant curtain is drawn and the light announces its final surrender. As promising as the dreams of a child though, it will be back. The world closes in all around me, allowing me the time I need to recharge my batteries. By now, the eye can only pick up movement. Sounds and smells become much crisper. The scent of moisture settles in and then burnt hardwood from a distant fireplace. Twinkling specks of light, of pure energy, are gradually scattered across the firmament, and I stare until I can see depth. All sounds are heightened beyond a whisper; the steady beat of a whippoorwill, the rustling of a skunk foraging for a late dinner, the patter of a moth’s wings on glass. Even in the moon’s halo, the clouds are no more than wisps of smoke drifting by. Like tiny magicians, the fireflies disappear and reappear until the cool air ushers them off to some hollowed-out log. Before long, all things are tucked away into their rightful place.

And though I must do so through the innocent eyes of a child, I can witness this most nights. If Foxhound and I are real lucky, on special nights we’ll catch a lightning storm on the deck. Hearing the echo of rolling thunder and seeing the flash of lightning only reminds me that God never sleeps. “The angels are bowling,” my mother used to say. Grandpa, however, preferred to capitalize on fear whenever he could. “God is angry with us!” he’d swear. Either way, it was a childhood fear that I’d never internalized or had to overcome. Like a mosquito to a bug zapper, I was drawn to these dangerous storms. To me, it’s like being stuck in a car wash that comes with a very cool light show.

Stormy or clear, any night is ideal for thinking about those paths I mentioned. I’ll spend hours just sitting there, searching my memory. It’s funny the things you pick up along the way; the things you can share with your grandkids if you’re smart.

I’ve learned that anyone can change the world; you just have to start with one person at a time. I’ve also learned that not caring what other people think of me has allowed me the energy to focus on what I think of myself. For me, life is like looking through a kaleidoscope. With every turn, a different view will be brought to light.

I’ve taught my grandkids that good things come to those who wait, but great things come to those who go after it; that a gift within is meant to be shared or else it wouldn’t be a gift; and no matter how large or small, everybody’s problems are enormous to themselves. Though the list goes on, the most important thing I’ve passed on is that life can be a beautiful dream, or a living nightmare. It’s all about your attitude – your perspective.

But I didn’t always see things this way…

Chapter 1

I hadn’t been feeling well for a while; a change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss and terrible cramping in my lower abdomen. When I started to find blood in my stool, I knew I had to see the doctor. “You stupid man!” Bella scolded. I thought she was going to kill me for waiting so long.

Together, we visited one doctor’s office after the next, while I was subjected to a battery of intrusive testing. Most diseases were immediately ruled out – at least all the livable ones.

While Bella sat by my side, Doctor Olivier conducted his line of questioning. “Family history of intestinal polyps?” he asked.

“Not that I know of.”

“History of an inflammatory bowel disease?”

“Nope.”

“Any possible genetic factors?”

I cringed. “Yeah, both my parents died from cancer.” I looked over at my wife. Her eyes were filled with worry.

After giving samples of every bodily fluid you can imagine and enduring the most God-awful probing, I was sent to the hospital’s radiology department for a CT scan.

As I recall, it was the final days of a long, harsh winter. The wind banged on the window, while the last remnants of a blackened snow bank stood off in the distance. Though Bella was worried sick, she reluctantly agreed to let me return to Doctor Olivier’s alone because Riley needed someone to watch the kids. “But please come straight home after you’re done,” she requested.

As I sat half-naked on the exam table, I couldn’t help but take note of the meaningless details that surrounded me; a water color painting hanging crooked on the wall, a glass container that needed to be refilled with tongue depressors, an extra chair that didn’t belong, making the room feel cluttered.

The door opened and Doctor Olivier walked in, holding a yellow folder under his arm. It was my entire medical history. His face looked somber.

This can’t be happening, I thought, I never smoked, rarely drank and I’m only in my fifties.

Doctor Olivier was a white-haired gent with a moustache trimmed a half-inch off his top lip, betraying his military background. With a white coat to match, his stethoscope swung freely from his thick neck. He had large hands with perfectly manicured fingernails. It’s strange the things you pick up when somebody’s about to invade your private parts. “Don,” he began in his calm, no-nonsense approach. “I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but…you have colon cancer.” He opened the folder for more details.

I felt like he’d just punched me in the gut. “I what?” I asked, one octave higher than normal.

“The rectal bleeding, weight loss, abdominal pain and the fact that your stools have become longer and more narrow are all symptoms.”

“But it hasn’t been going on all that long,” I argued. He only shook his head. Now I definitely felt like vomiting.

“Sometimes colon cancer fails to produce any symptoms until the cancer has grown very large and even metastasized, or spread to other parts of the body. This is why the identification and removal of polyps through regular screenings play such an important role in prevention.”

“Spread to other parts?” I asked.

The man’s green eyes peered up from behind narrow reading glasses. I knew right then and there that I was in serious trouble. “The cancer’s already spread to your liver,” he said.

A bolt of panic, generating from my core, shot out and filled every cell of my body. My extremities began to tingle and my breathing turned shallow. There was a sudden pain in my chest and I knew intuitively that this was felt for my wife. What’s Bella going to do? I wondered, and a wave of dizziness nearly pushed me off the table. Then, I must have gone into some kind of shock or something. I kept eye contact, but for a while all I heard was a hum; the occasional phrase dancing in and out.

“…trace amounts of blood. Blah. Blah. Blah. …blockages preventing bowel movements. Blah. Blah. Blah. …consumption of red meat, obesity, smoking. Blah. Blah. …stage four. Blah. Blah.” There was a long pause. “Do you understand what I’m saying, Don?” he finally asked.

I don’t know how long we stared at each other before I answered. “Yes, I heard you. I have cancer.”

“That’s right. You have stage four colon cancer which has started to spread to other organs. At your age, I strongly recommend we pursue aggressive surgical treatment to remove the cancerous tissues. We’ll also want to consider chemotherapy and radiation therapy.” From his tone, this wasn’t so much a recommendation as it was an order.

Along with oxygen, my wits were returning to me. I understood the words he was saying, but they were still difficult to register. “But I’ve always been more of a quality guy…not so concerned with quantity,” I blurted.

He folded his arms, awaiting an explanation.

“What kind of life will I live…even if it’s extended?” I asked.

“We won’t know that until we begin, will we?”

“Maybe I should get a second opinion?”

“By all means, please do. It’s important to…”

“I just don’t want to cut myself short by living a few more months hooked to tubes,” I interrupted.

He nodded once. “I understand,” he said. After explaining a few more details I was too overwhelmed to comprehend, he left the room. There was clearly nothing more he could do for me.

Minutes later, I was dressed and walking down the icy sidewalk toward a frightening future that had just shrunk by decades. It was as if adrenaline forced me to move, one foot in front of the next. I felt numb, high on the fear of losing my life. And then I pictured Bella’s face and stopped. I must have dry-heaved for a solid five minutes.

My pretty, light-haired wife met me at the front door, shivering. I looked into her hazel eyes and attempted a smile. Before I said a word, she already knew. “Oh, dear God…” she gasped and pulled me to her.

As we stepped inside, I told her, “Stage four colon cancer.”

“I thought it was…” she began. “But it can’t be…” Her voice began cracking like warm water on ice.

Although we both suspected the same prognosis, there was no real way to prepare for it. We held each other for nearly a half hour and cried. Although I was already worried about having to leave her, I tried to console her. “We’ll be fine,” I whispered.

For a moment, she pushed away and peered into my soul. “We’ll be going for a second opinion,” she confirmed.

While a late-night hailstorm threatened to shatter the living room windows and Bella tossed and turned in bed, I fumbled on the Internet and conducted my own research:

It is estimated that fifty-seven thousand Americans will die from colon cancer this year; the second leading cause of cancer death in the nation and a disease that it is completely preventable. Prevention and early detection can mean the difference between life and death. Colon cancer forms from non-cancerous polyps on the wall of the small or large intestines. Polyps can eventually increase in size and turn cancerous. If polyps are found during a routine test, a biopsy may be done to determine if cancer is present and to which stage it has advanced. Women are usually diagnosed with colon cancer in its latter stages because many believe this disease only affects men. Unfortunately, this disease affects people of all genders and ethnicities. There are five stages, zero through five.

I stopped reading. I’m already nearing the final stage, I thought, and for the first time I felt guilty about not taking better care of myself.

I was preparing for bed when I looked up from the sink and surveyed my face in the mirror. I still had most of my dark hair. My brown eyes were filled with life. Dying can’t be what I’m in the process of, I thought. Besides the pockmarked cheeks from a cruel case of pre-adolescent acne, I looked as healthy and unscathed as the day I was born. I washed down two pills with a gulp of water and shut off the light.

As I headed for bed, it suddenly dawned on me, All the things I was planning to do when I finally had the time…I may not actually have the time to do! I snickered at the thought of it. Shoot, I was gonna go fishing and travel the country with Bella in a motor home, where we could rekindle our romance…which took a backseat to too many other things.

I lay down in bed, placed my hands behind my head and stared up at the ceiling – haunted by my unrealized aspirations. I was hoping to do some writing, maybe even for the newspaper, and beg the boys down at the local race track to let me go for a spin. I even thought about talking Bella into doing some horseback riding…

I turned to my side and watched Bella’s eyelids struggle with another bad dream. Now what? I wondered.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It’s funny how the mind works. Besides making Bella promise not to tell anyone until we were absolutely sure, I honestly cannot tell you what my feelings or thoughts were between doctor’s visits. I remember going to work in the cold and coming home to watch Bella pray each night, but most of that time remains a complete blur to me. I vaguely recall the desperate phone calls and hours of research my frantic wife conducted, and her sudden outbursts of grief. I stayed out of it – all of it. I wasn’t ready to consider death. It wasn’t part of the comfortable routine I’d spent decades perfecting.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For whatever reason, I was surprised to find that Dr. Rice was a woman. She was too thin and pale, but she had kind eyes and a soft tone to her voice. “Colon cancer is one of the most common types of cancer,” she explained to Bella and me. “And treatment usually depends on the location, size, and spread of your cancer at the time of diagnosis. When colon cancer is detected at an early stage, surgical treatment is very effective. We also use chemotherapy or radiation with surgery to reduce the chance that the cancer will return.”

Seated by my side, Bella couldn’t wait to ask. “And Don’s…do you agree with the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation in his case?”

The doctor hesitated. It was slight, but she hesitated, and as plain as day, I could see that she was too kind for this aspect of her profession. Without a word, she confirmed our dreaded suspicions. “It was caught too late, Mr. and Mrs. DiMarco,” she explained. She looked at Bella and then back at me. “Your cancer is inoperable, and although radiation is an option, the diagnosis is still terminal.”

“How long?” Bella asked, her voice cracking.

“Twelve months…at best.”

“Now what?” I asked. It was a stupid question, but I still hoped for an answer.

“Go…and really live the time you have left.”

Like a puppet that had snapped its strings, Bella collapsed into a chair and began to sob. “Oh, dear God,” she cried.

“My father didn’t raise a quitter,” I said, surprised at my last-ditch effort.

“That’s admirable, but you can either spend your remaining time fighting or enjoying it,” Dr. Rice advised.

I felt devastated, but when I found her eyes again I also felt a brief moment of peace. It was unexplainable.

To the beat of Bella’s heavy sobs, the doctor took out her prescription pad. “I’ll give you all the medication you’ll need to manage the pain.”

“Thank you.” I took the two scripts and helped my wife to her feet. It was time to go home and face Bella’s unanswered prayers.

As the days threatened to turn into weeks, I moped around in a silent state of numbness. Life was a fog and I was traveling aimlessly with no light to guide me. I prayed harder and with more frequency: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference – but serenity and courage were nowhere in sight. Instead, as though I was competing in the emotional Tour de France, I cycled through denial, anger, depression and negotiating with God – again and again.

“Talk to me!” my wife pleaded, trying everything to include herself in my secret mourning. But I was too selfish to let her in. For whatever reason, I needed to sit with the misery for a while longer before sharing it – with anyone.

It didn’t take long to run the full gamut of darkness – anger, sorrow, fear – and then run through each of them again. WHY? I screamed in my head. WHY ME? But there was no answer. Eventually, I was only left with the stinging realization that on many levels, it didn’t matter that there were people who loved me and didn’t want to lose me. In many respects, my dying was the perfectly natural thing to do. Still, I wasn’t ready to surrender to it. For the time being, I preferred to stay within my shell and simmer in a bitter rage.

Bella, on the other hand, was more than happy to express herself each day. I never realized my gentle wife could be so angry and sad – all at the same time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After canceling my next dentist appointment – I figured, What’s the use, right? – I finally called for a family meeting with Riley and Michael. It was time we broke the terrible news. I didn’t want anyone outside the immediate family to know, though. You see, I’ve always believed that positive thoughts and actions bring about positive results, with the same holding true for the opposite. So, with the negative hens in our extended family, I figured if they caught wind of my illness, I’d be dead in a matter of weeks. Besides, the fuss would be too annoying.

We were at the kitchen table for a few terrible moments before Bella began to explain exactly what Doctor Rice had said.

Before she was through, Riley screamed, “No, Daddy…NO!”

I honestly thought I was going to be strong for everyone until she did that. I looked up to find Bella sobbing and Michael looking away to wipe his eyes. I couldn’t help it. I joined the family for a good, long, healthy cry. When I finally composed myself enough to speak, I said, “Okay guys, this is the last time I want to see anyone mourning for me while I’m still alive.”

Everyone reluctantly nodded.

“What are you going to do now that…” Michael stopped himself and looked away again.

“I’m going to run a marathon.”

No one laughed.

“I’m going to live,” I said and meant every word of it. “I promised Pudge a couple years ago at his sister’s Kindergarten graduation that I’d be there at his, and I fully intend to keep my word.”

Riley peered into my eyes. “There’s always a chance for a miracle, right?”

“I’m expecting it!” I told her.

She jumped into my lap and hugged me for a long while. It was the type of medicine that could heal anything.

Bella barely excused herself and hurried out of the room. Even through my own haze, I knew she was furious with God; a rage that lasted longer than I would have ever expected.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Right from the start, everything changed.

After Riley had flown the coop, for years Bella and I would go for a ride in the car every Friday night with the windows rolled down and the music playing. Nine out of ten times, we’d end up at Flo’s on Island Park. Flo’s served the best clam cakes and fried clams anywhere. Bella and I would sit together on the sea wall and share our feast with the seagulls. But Bella had a different idea now. “What about taking me to Venus for that baked stuffed lobster we always talked about?” she asked.

I had to smile, thinking, She is a clever one. For years, I’d wanted to try that lobster but never thought we could afford it. We finally went.

I was stunned. Venus’s baked stuffed lobster wasn’t nearly as good as I thought it would be, nor was it all that hard to shell out the cash for it. After all these years of fantasizing, I thought, and we should have gone to Flo’s for the cakes.

Thanks to a vested retirement plan, I was able to retire early from McKaskie’s. This money was sure to carry me through to the end. For Bella’s well being however, I was thankful for the large life insurance policy I’d complained about paying on for years. From the moment I’d signed the papers, I thought we’d overpaid, but he was a good salesman. “We don’t need it,” I complained again and again to Bella, but once we started making payments it seemed foolish to stop. I’ve never been so happy to stick with something I didn’t want. Now, not only would my wife be able to survive on the money, she’d be able to live quite well – long into her own retirement. On one hand, it was strange to be worth more dead than alive. On the more important hand, I was thrilled that Bella would be able to live better than she ever had.

With no intentions of sharing the truth about my impending doom, I walked into McKaskie’s for the last time to take one final stroll through the grease and wood shavings. It felt so surreal. Here I was, the foreman in charge of quality assurance of this giant woodworking shop, taking one last look around. I didn’t expect it, but it hurt. I’d been at the same job forever. It was the place that had provided purpose for my entire adult life and the reason I’d gotten up every day – five days a week – at five o’clock in the morning. It had offered just enough overtime to put my daughter through college and now I was never going to see it again.

Bobby, Marty – even the Smeaton brothers, who were supposed to be identical twins but looked nothing alike – came over to shake my hand and wish me luck on my early retirement. “We’ll be seeing each other soon,” they all promised

I knew better.

I sat with them on the loading dock for the day’s final break and listened to Adam go on about his ex-girlfriend. “We were together through most of Tractor Trailer School,” the young smartass joked, creating just enough laughter to get him rolling. “God, did I love her. She was so big, though, that you could have put a swing set in her backyard.”

Everyone laughed.

“I think she snacked between meals. For whatever reason, what really turned me on was walking behind her when she climbed stairs. It was like watching two baby pigs fighting under a blanket.”

Even I laughed at that one.

“When we went out dancing, I couldn’t tell whether she was doing the electric slide or having a seizure. And she used to have me shave her back in the shower – that is, until the weed whacker nearly electrocuted us.”

We shared one last laugh and the whistle went off. It was perfect timing. The guys each got up, dusted themselves off and went back to work. I took one last look around, grabbed my timecard and – for old time’s sake – punched out.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

While Bella wrestled with the reality of my early departure and the sharp pains that went with it, I watched in agony as she stumbled through the same dark valley I was traveling in. She snapped at the slightest annoyance and cried at the most random times. Days fit slowly into weeks.

I slept in one morning but it wasn’t easy to break old habits. For decades, I’d gotten up before the sun. Now, all I could think was to take my coffee to the deck where there wasn’t much to do but sit in the Adirondack chair and listen to the birds gossip.

Idle time can be a killer. I started thinking too much about where I might be heading. I wasn’t sure about heaven and hell, but I eventually pictured my Nana. Wherever she ended up is good enough for me, I thought. And if she didn’t make it to heaven, then I don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell.

One night, I got up from bed and went into the living room away from Bella’s sensitive ears. I cried for a long while – not for myself, but for the love I was going to have to leave behind – for Bella, Riley, Michael and the kids. Before long, I heard some rustling around in the kitchen. Bella’s angelic silhouette suddenly appeared in the doorway. Without a word, she joined me on the couch where we cried together. When we’d had our share of grieving, she turned to me and asked, “Are you ready to share this with me now?”

“Yeah. But I…”

“No buts,” she said, “for better or worse, remember?” She rested her head on my chest. “In sickness and in health…you big oaf.”

“Okay,” I said. “In sickness and in health.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The following week, after my bi-weekly visit with Dr. Rice, the blue-collar stiffs from McKaskie’s threw me an impromptu retirement party in Jimmy Smeaton’s frigid backyard. It was half-assed at best, but they did the best they could. It was an off-season cookout, with burgers and dogs, a full keg of beer and a beat-up radio playing country music. From this jaded crew, the thought really was all that mattered. I found out later that Bella funded the majority of the shindig. It didn’t surprise me. I did my best to enjoy the celebration, but my mid-section throbbed in pain the entire afternoon.

Suddenly, I had all the time in the world to do whatever I wanted. Besides my wife, though, there was no one else around to do it with. Everyone was either working or taking part in that thing I used to know as life.

Five weeks to the day I’d received the bad news, Bella and I took in a movie. The smallest details seemed to mean everything; the smell of new carpeting mixed with buttered popcorn; the young, inattentive ushers with their roving flashlights. The entire experience was so different from anything I’d ever known; much different from the days not so long ago when I took everything for granted.

Like a switch that had been turned back on inside of me, as I walked out into the sun it hit me. I had already lost fifteen pounds and was now fitting into my skinny jeans. If my attitude didn’t change, I wasn’t going to last six months. You’d better accept this dying thing before you waste the rest of your life, I told myself. Besides, you’ve been a pain in the ass since you were a kid. What’s more appropriate than going out with colon cancer?

I turned to Bella. “I need to stop pouting, we both do, before we waste the time we have left.”

She grabbed my arm and kept walking. “I know,” she said. “I’ve been thinking the same thing.”

From that very moment on – with the filters turned off, the walls torn down and all the defenses lowered – we stepped back into our life together, or at least what was left of it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Michael popped over on that next weekend to help me carry my worn recliner out to the sidewalk for the junkman.

“But you love that chair,” Bella said.

“But I love you more,” I told her and then turned off the TV. “As far as I’m concerned, you can get rid of this, too. I don’t have time for it anymore.”

She was shocked. She’d always called that TV my soul mate.

It took some searching, but I finally found the jigsaw puzzle on the top shelf of the hallway closet. It was a five thousand-piece mural of angels ascending into heaven, a gift that Riley had gotten me many Father’s Days ago. The picture on the box showed shades of blue and green so close that they were guaranteed to make me pull every remaining hair out of my head. Puzzle making was a simple task of such complexity that I couldn’t help but embrace the torment. This one wasn’t going to be a one-nighter, but if I had to fill my time I wanted it to be with the pastime I loved most. A picture of angels can’t hurt either, I figured. “It’s going to help relax me,” I told Bella when I showed her the box.

“Sure it will,” she snickered, “just make sure you watch your mouth in front of the kids.”

I laughed. “Those days are done,” I promised.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved putting together puzzles. I think I was six years old when I got my first puzzle for Christmas. I don’t remember how long it took me to put together or how many pieces it was, but it looked like a lot. I guess it must have been about a hundred pieces.

As I got older, during the long New England winters my mother would set up a card table where I’d chip away at three hundred-piece Whitman puzzles, or the more expensive Wysocki’s. Back then, the average puzzle was around two hundred fifty pieces and a large one was no more than five hundred. The pieces were at least three or four times thicker than they are today.

I’ve tackled two giant puzzles in my time. One was eight thousand five hundred pieces, cost eighty-nine dollars and took nearly three months to complete. There were three of us doing it on the weekends – Bella, Riley and me. Every time I passed the puzzle, I’d have to stop and put in a piece or two. When adding up the cost of soda pop, beer and snacks, that puzzle ended up costing us around five thousand dollars. The other monster had twelve thousand ninety-six pieces and was four and a half feet wide by nine and a half feet long. I gave them both away after we finished them.

Over the years, I must have put together at least a thousand puzzles, maybe more. Per Bella’s orders, many of them were laminated and framed and now hang everywhere throughout our house. I really enjoyed making all of them. I’ll tell you, though, sometimes I’d get so involved that I’d call McKaskie’s and tell the boss something important had come up and I’d be to work a little late. I did that more than once.

I can remember staying up late some nights, getting only two or three hours of sleep before having to go to work. I’d wait until the last possible moment so I could put in a few more pieces. There were even days when I’d get to work and tell them I wasn’t feeling well and had to go home. Crazy, I know.

For a one thousand-piece puzzle, it would take Bella and me a month or so. There were others, though, that took longer. Though I wouldn’t admit it to my wife, there were definitely moments when I’d get pretty steamed.

I was really looking forward to getting back into one.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We were working on the angel puzzle after dinner one night when Bella blurted, “We need time for us. So, where’s your favorite place in the whole world?”

I didn’t need to think. “Martha’s Vineyard,” I replied. We’d only been there three times in all the years we’d been married. It seemed odd to me now. A rush of memories came flooding back. I could picture the narrow cobblestone streets, the quaint shops, water views from anywhere, elephant grass blowing in the stiff sea winds, the beautiful sunrises and sunsets…

“Then Martha’s Vineyard it is,” she said. “When do you want to leave?”

“How ‘bout in a week or two?”

Her raised eyebrow requested an explanation.

“Before I go anywhere, I’d like to take some time and go back…to remember how I got here.”

The raised eyebrow remained.

“I’ve been thinking about visiting the old neighborhood,” I explained. “I’d like to spend a few moments with my memories…at least the good ones. They seem to deserve at least that much.”

The eyebrow surrendered and was quickly replaced by a smile. “Then that’s where you should go,” she said.

I gave her a kiss, and with a grateful nod, returned to the puzzle.

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Week #15

We had another busy week, but in the middle of the week, it started to slow down. We had the last basketball game on Wednesday, which was the end of a wonderful season.

I was a little behind on my out loud reading, and we just finished Twice Freed by Patricia St. John this week. The boys really enjoyed the story and were sad we do not have another read aloud right away. I may pick up another one to read aloud while we are waiting to start our next one, scheduled in the R to R.

This week really started on Saturday morning!
Saturday was the final day of the 7th/8th tournament. But we also had decided to join in a homeschool play performance that happens in the late spring. In order to do that, we had to go and audition. I left the house at 8 am. It was 4:30 pm. when we came back for good.
P. and L. auditioned for parts in the play, then we got ready to go to the game.
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The boys played a team that was tough to play, and it was a tight game.
They played well, worked together and by a matter of a few point won a first place trophy!

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We can do this…I think!

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They were ecstatic! We then watched the 5/6th team play their game, and the 5th/6th graders won a third place trophy as well!
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In the middle of tournaments, we drove 90 miles north with my sister to see The Nutcracker. My siblings were in it and it was a good cultural experience for the boys.
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The Mouse King and Spanish dancer

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T. and the Nutcracker

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The Russian dancer…

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A real Russian and Mouse King without his mask

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It was difficult to get photos of the actual play.

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Russian dance

Sunday was my husband’s birthday….
Monday- We completed our schoolwork. One language arts book has gotten misplaced and I had to make up work all week for that child, which was frustrating, but he is loving to read, which is thrilling my heart! He has read several books this month already! I started doing more math drills again, but this time causing a little competition between my 4th and 6th grader. They are about even in their ability and speed, but the competition is making them faster!

There was a tournament again tonight, this time just 5th/6th graders.
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It was a tight, tough game that was a lot of fun to watch. I love it when the teams are doing well. It showed us how far we had come in the season as we played them earlier in the season and then at the end.
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There was a lot of huddles…

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It got tighter….

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The huddles got tighter!
But they won!! H.’s hair was soaked like he had taken a shower!!

Afterwards, we went to see my niece for her birthday.
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Tuesday: I enjoyed reading about the origins of the Muslims, but was saddened as well reading about how sometimes good intentions can so deceive people.
Our Latin root words for the week were Disciplus and Verbum.
We skipped some school today as it was my birthday!
We played the top team in the county tonight, which we played a good game, but really did not believe we could win. The boys enjoyed the game however!

It was my birthday, so I got to go out to dinner, which was nice!

Wednesday:
We reviewed the root words, finished up our reading on Twice Freed, and read from The Story of the World. L. is working on listening to his math better and learning. He was trying to fly through it instead and causing some poor answers. He is working on reading a Danny Dunn book right now. He and H. were even again this morning with math drills.

We played tonight a team that was so evenly matched, it was like they alternated baskets.
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It was like this the whole game. It was a little nerve wracking, but we realized that whoever won, they were both great teams.

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They got their exercise!
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The game went into overtime to decide the score.
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Getting ready!
The basket they made did not quite go in and the other team scored and it was a 4th place trophy for our team….no one was sad though!
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It was a good time! Now, we just have the party and we are done!

Thursday:
Co-op class day- We have science, pre-algebra, and various writing classes on this day. It means a little running around for me, but it is worth it. I got to go and have tea with my friend which was nice, it has been awhile.
It felt weird not to have basketball to go to!

Evidently P. thought so too and thought he needed some weight lifting…
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How many boys can I balance?
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Yee, Haw!!

Friday:
We finished our reading for the week. When I read about Baghdad, the boys said “That is where Jeannie was born!” No, they were not talking about a friend or relative, but a character from “I Dream of Jeannie.” Strange children!
They all found the story of Sinbad interesting as well. The sketch of the map was done and we talked about germs, sickness etc. We had some hands on experience a couple weeks ago with H. so it was interesting.

We headed out to do some shopping and went to the local art walk. We walked through all the local downtown stores. The boys were not excited to do a bunch of shopping, but when they found out there was food, for free, in almost every shop being offered, they were very eager to continue. They had a card to get stamped to enter a contest, and my second son, ran around collecting stamps and punches.
It was an enjoyable evening. We purchased a small elephant that was made in Kenya to remind us to pray for those in Africa and over the world in other countries.

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