Day Two and Three- Railroads and Capitol

The Railroad Museum in Sacramento is exceptional, as retired train after retired train greet you to awe you with their size. The staff sit aboard every train, and are prepared to discuss that particular engines history and travels.

History of the west and the development of the western states is woven throughout the engines.

You can go inside many of the trains, others you must be content with glimpses from the windows at the life size wax passengers inside.

Claire was very happy to have “All the sisters” in one place, though this particular photo lacks Madeleine.

The conductors seat stirs the imagination.

How many brothers can fit in one seat?

The capitol building is nestled in a garden like arena, complete with orange trees full of fruit.

The children bonding with their new state animal:

Day One-a Walk and a Baptism

After navigating through a few airports, large and small…..

I arrived to see the whole family had come out to greet me. The whole family, and one a stranger to me. Little Madeleine, born three months ago, over 1,500 miles from where all her brothers and sisters were born.

The first  day the family went in search of nature.

Johnathan aspires to the role of photographer:

Maria and I caught sight of an otter who was sunbathing in the small river that runs through the town square. Later he caught a fish and proudly enjoyed his meal.

Madeleine also had a big day.

She thought proceedings were interesting, and watched everyone carefully.

It was also slightly boring.

Child of God!

Western Books for Boys

Books for boys can be hard to find, but when I asked the young men in our family which ones they couldn’t put down, they had plenty of answers. Here was the favorite cowboy stories and westerns they couldn’t put down:

Cowboy Picture Books

Pecos Bill by Steven Kellogg



7th grade+ Cowboy Books


The Virginian


Week’s Notes

The Lenten wreath went up this afternoon, and putting away Christmas decorations now. The bitter cold and snow made it hard to part with the tree throughout the month, so I left it up extra long this year. But Lent has come, so it’s definitely time.

Several times I’ve made my own version of St. Brigid’s bread on Ash Wednesday, since the Irish saint’s feast is early February. My only change is that I used half whole wheat flour, and half oat flour (made by pouring oatmeal in the blender and pureeing for about two minutes) simply because I think it tastes  good that way. I don’t think this is the recipe I used in the past, since it was a little drier than I remember, but it still made a very nice ‘fasting bread’ for this week.

Mourning the tragic events in Florida this week. Words fail each and every time this world faces such an activity of depravity. Miserere Domine.  

Listening to this Gregorian hymn for the start of Lent. Translation here.


{p,h,f,r} February edition


The spoils of a 50% off sale at a local nursery that now inhabit my windowsill. I had been hoping to expand my indoor garden for a while, so I responded eagerly to the billboard outside advertising the sale. While I planned on bringing home one or two, somehow I brought home four. Hey, discounts that deep only come around in January, right? Carpe diem!

I love the furry rhizomes that slip over the edge of the plant’s pot, and give the Rabbit Foot Fern a name almost as charming as the foliage. Maria has a different idea, however, and has dubbed this my “tarantula plant.”


I’m on the countdown to a trip out to visit my family’s new home. I’ll also get to meet my youngest sister, born about three months ago at the beginning of November, just three weeks after the family transplanted from Midwest to the hometown of the California gold rush.


My feathered friend Gamgee, who came all the way from Virginia on Delta airlines last October to be my friend. A true people parrot, there’s no shenanigan he won’t devise in order to get some attention from me. He’s just getting in some new brighter plumage on his face, and will be shedding his duller baby feathers over the next few months.


This morning, I wanted to take off my coat and shout, ‘spring!!!’ That’s what 30 degrees with sun feels like after shivering through -5 degree mornings.


~ {pretty, happy, funny, real} ~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~


I am off to a terrible start with my New Year’s resolution to post at least four times a month. Life lately has not been overly busy, but it has been disorienting to say the least.

I rigidly controlled my routine through college, as the structure was the scaffolding preventing me from tumbling from the cliffs of textbooks into the whirlpool of homework. Now, I have to let go of that expectation to embrace a rotating work life.


Antipodes: the parts of the earth diametrically opposite, the exact opposite or contrary


Night shift, day shift. Routine, flexibility. Order, chaos. Hospitals never close, so much of my time is spent in the rocky transition period between polar schedules. Sometimes every gear in circadian rhythm protests loudly, preferring to run like clockwork.

I’ve never realized how much energy is saved by having routines. I’ve never had to debate whether I should wake up in the morning, but deciding when to start the day when “morning” is 7pm is exhausting. The first few months of this schedule I felt I walked on alternating sides of a fault line between nightlife and daytime, with seismic activity during each transition.

Now I’m beginning to have a set of routines around my new needs, and have begun getting up an extra half hour before starting out to enjoy the morning, making sure it includes coffee and Gregorian chant. And I know just how much of the day I can use ahead of an all night jaunt, and it often includes a trip to the gym to get some extra energy to start off.

Homeschoolers on Field Trips

I have taught and nannied many groups over the year, coming in contact with students from all educational backgrounds. I’ve taught a homeschooled science day camp three years in a row, and ballet classes four five year with a mix of student backgrounds. I’ve nannied for children who attend private and public schools, as well as for many homeschool families. Throughout these visits, several consistent themes emerged in what set the homeschooled children apart from their peers.

The differences can be subtle, yet they are distinct enough that I am usually able to guess a child doesn’t attend traditional school. Here are a few of the differences I noticed in taking both homeschool and public school students on field trips.

  • Homeschooled children spent much more time in the moment. I spent an hour putting together a picnic lunch, we unpacked it and at beside the small waterfall at the center of our city. Had I done this for my siblings, or any of the homeschooled children I’d spent time with before, they would have loved every minute of this. I’m used to watching children explore the area and make the most of new surroundings. Usually, they would choreograph movie scenes on the rocking landscapes, look for new shells or insects, or collect sticks and build a miniature fortress. Instead, these children finished their lunch and promptly wanted to return home to their previously planned activities for the day.
  • Homeschooled kids asked more questions. Walks with a homeschool group turn into an interrogative session quickly. Usually, research and discussion on the topics continue long past the conclusion of the field trip.
  • Children in traditional school seemed habituated to field trips in and new experiences in comparison with those I grew up around. I noticed how they were used to being served field trips in an almost prepackaged format, being funneled through in a group with little time for personal decisions on where to linger and learn.  I took a family of public schooled children to the zoo, and was astonished at the way they simply walked through the exhibits. They never paused to read any of the signs or watch how the animals were behaving.
  • Children who are homeschooled are used to being in mixed age groups. One effect of this is I notice that on trips they often spend a lot of time teaching the younger students what they know as they walk along. Since they are comfortable with many age ranges, can strike up a conversation with a peer their age, much older, or younger. Even a conversation with an adult is not daunting.


New Years Daybook

Outside My Window… frigid air coming in at -20 degrees below 0.

I am thinking…  very fuzzily, having just gotten off of three consecutive overnight shifts at the hospital.

I am thankful for… modern heating.

From the kitchen… Not much, as it has been a very busy week. I have been keeping a steady supply of fresh cranberry sauce on hand, as I found out last year how quick and easy it is to make. Cranberries are also full of vitamins and other healthy compounds.

One of my favorite things…  Lights glowing around the room. Christmas lights, an artificial candle, and small lamps bring some cozy warmth to the evening.

I am wearing…  sweaters and scarves. The heavy ones, which I just went hunting for at the back of my closet.


I am reading…  Some reflections from Mother Theresa from her private letters. A very interesting study of the meaning of Faith, and the differences in emotional and supernatural experiences.

Teresa of Avila spoke of God’s courting of the soul through many different methods. Sometimes, he does this through allowing His Grace to be near and felt, and the experience of joy is very pleasant to the senses. This felt prayer can be the only way we allow ourselves to approach our God in this world of constant pleasure and stimulation. Many of the saints have experienced an even deeper call from God when, after showing a soul the sweetness of His love, He withdraws this consolation. John of the Cross wrote that this pulls the creature to look past the earthly sensations and be aware of their complete and total need for God.

Mother Theresa wrote very honestly about this, and her words show the real meaning of complete faith, in good times and bad. A faith that illuminate not only the dark cities of India, but also the world as the nun gave witness to Christ before both the humblest dying on the streets and in the glow of the spotlights amidst world leaders.


Stories That Made my Young Brothers Want to Read

Books for boys can be hard to find, especially for encouraging early reading. These books were all books that my brothers heard small sections from, and then went to go find the book by themselves.

Easy Readers

Sam the Minute Man by Nathaniel Benchley 

Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr


Slightly Higher Reading Level

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

Five Children and It by Edith Nesbitt

Joseph not only read this book, but it’s sequel as well