Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


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Family Reading – One More Chapter

Books are one of the main ingredients in The Paladini Potpie. Every one of us love to read. We all read all the time.

When the kids were little, we had family reading time almost every night. As soon as the dishes were done we would hurry into the living room and John would read out loud to us. 

I know it sounds like a corny scene from The Waltons…but to be honest, I don’t know.  We never watched The Waltons or even Little House on the Prairie because we didn’t have television.

We agreed with Groucho Marx, who said, “I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

Corny though it may be, I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything!

John would sit in his chair and one of the kids would bring our book over to him. John would surreptitiously flip the book upside down and begin to utter nonsense words in a sonorous reading voice.  The kids would scream with laughter and run across the room to snatch the book from him and turn it right-side-up. 

I wish I has a picture of it, but I wasn’t as camera-crazy then as I am now.  But it’s firmly locked in my memory since I think I witnessed the scene more than a hundred times over the years.

John read aloud and the rest of us listened. Sometimes the kids played with beads or we made those little woven potholders or knitted. Sometimes we just sat and listened.  They were golden hours.

One More Chapter, our family business has grown out of those years of reading together.  As we state on our web site:  “When it was time to put the book away, and put the children to bed, a chorus of “ONE MORE CHAPTER!” was their impassioned plea.  Every book lover has experienced that same dilemma – sleep or read? Oh well, maybe just One More Chapter!”

We started reading to Matthew when he was little, but it didn’t occur to us to keep track of the books we read until years later.  Some of the books in this list are repeats of those we read to Matthew when he was younger, and he enjoyed them just as much when he heard them the second time.

 

Paladini Family Book List – Beginning in 1990 –

Matthew was 12 and Monica was 4 and David was 2.

“Little House” Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (series of 8 books)

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Chronicles of Narnia (series of 7 books)

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

(*The real book number 1 in the series)

Prince Caspian by CS Lewis

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis

The Silver Chair by CS Lewis

The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis

The Magician’s Nephew by CS Lewis

The Last Battle by CS Lewis

Heidi by JoAnn Spyri

The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

Dangerous Journey (children’s adaptation of Pilgrim’s Progress)

The Railway Children by E. Nesbit

Little Women by Luisa May Alcott

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

Elsie Dinsmore by Martha Finley

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Borrowers Afield by Mary Norton

The Borrowers Aloft by Mary Norton

The Borrowers Avenged by Mary Norton

Elsie’s Holidays by Martha Finley

The Helen Keller Story by Catherine Owens Peare

Pilgrim’s Progress adaptation by James H Thomas

Elsie’s Girlhood by Martha Finley

Elsie’s Womanhood by Martha Finley

The Baronet’s Song by George MacDonald

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

Pilgrim’s Progress in today’s English By John Bunyon (James H Thomas)

Passport to Life City (a modern pilgrim’s progress) by Sherwood Eliot Wirt

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis (Repeat)

Prince Caspian by CS Lewis (Repeat)

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis (Repeat)

The Silver Chair by CS Lewis (Repeat)

The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis (Repeat)

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

The Robe by Lloyd C Douglas 

The Magiacian’s Nephew by CS Lewis (Repeat)  

The Last Battle by CS Lewis (Repeat)

The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

Elsie’s Motherhood by Martha Findley

The Yearling  by Marjorie Kinnon Rawlings

 A Man Called Peter by Catherine Marshall

Christy by Catherine Marshall

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Out of the Silent Planet by CS Lewis

The Year of the Dream by Jane Collier

The Dawn of a Tomorrow by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov

The Big Fisherman by Lloyd C Douglas

January 1998

Shane by Jack Warne

That Reminds Me of a Story by Gale D Erwin

George Muller by Basil Miller

Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards

An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

Harvest by Chuck Smith

By the Great Horn Spoon!  by Sid Fleischman

The Ballad of Lucy Whipple  by Karen Cushman

God Happened to be in the Neighborhood by Ken Jones

The Mystery of the Brass Bound Trunk by Carolyn Keene

Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard (Repeat)

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare

January 1999

Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott

No Graven Images by Elisabeth Elliot

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Rip Van Winkle byWashingtonIrving

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein

Little Goodie Two Shoes by Oliver Goldsmith

Murder for Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

The Cat of Bubastes by GA Henty

I Thought my Soul Would Rise and Fly Away  (DearAmerica)

Diary of a Freed Slave Girl (DearAmerica)

Across the Wide Prairie (DearAmerica)

The Winter of Red Snow (DearAmerica)

Titanic Girl (DearAmerica)

January 2000

Riders of the Silver Rim Brock and Bodie Thoene

With Lee In Virginia G.A. Henty

David Livingstone – Foe of Darkness Jeanette Eaton

Across Five Aprils – Irene Hunt

Journal of Sean Sullivan – (DearAmerica Series)

Joni – Joni Earekson Tada

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Girl of the Limberlost – Gene Stratton Porter

January 2001

This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti

The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books on tape we have listened to in the car as we did errands or went on vacation trips

Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates  by Mary Mapes Dodge

Left Behind Series books 1-4

Exodus by Leon Uris

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

Travels with Charlie by John Steinbeck

Laddie by Gene Stratton Porter

The Fellowship of the Ring JRR Tolkien

The Two Towers JRR Tolkien

Return of the King JRR Tolkien

One More Chapter sells used books online at   AbeBooks, Alibris,  Half Price Books, Barnes a& Noble, and Amazon.  We also sell from our own web site OneMoreChapter.org.  We have thousands of titles for sale.

In another post I’ll tell you about our newest adventure: One More Chapter Publishing.

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1776

Richard Henry Lee was the Virginian delegate to the Second Continental Congress. In 1776 he brought forth the motion calling for American independence from Great Britain.

My name is Richard Henry Lee; Virginia is my home
My name is Richard Henry Lee; Virginia is my home
And may my horses be turned to glue if I can’t deliver
Unto you a resolution on independency!

I don’t remember learning about Richard Henry Lee when I was in school, but his song from the musical, “1776” has probably been sung a couple of hundred times in the Paladini home in the last 10 years.

For I am FFV, the first family
In the sovereign colony of Virginia
Yes I am FFV, the oldest family
in the oldest colony in America
And may the British burn my land if I can’t deliver
To your hand a resolution on independency!

The first time we heard of Richard Henry Lee was when David was in the 6th grade and drew Lee’s name in a small home-school co-op drama about the events leading up to the Revolutionary War. David had to write a report, memorize some of his quotes, and put together a costume.

Then we discovered “1776” the musical, and the delightful characterization of Richard Henry Lee.

And then, within the month, we all went to Washington DC for Monica’s eighth grade trip, and it included a stop at Saint John’s Church in Richmond Virginia – and who do you think we met?

You see it’s here-a-Lee, there-a-Lee
And everywhere-a-Lee-a-Lee
Here-a-Lee, there-a-Lee
And everywhere-a-Lee

Social-Lee, political-Lee, financial-Lee, natural-Lee
Internal-Lee, external-Lee, fraternal-Lee, eternal-Lee

Since then, it has become a tradition for us to watch “1776” every 4th of July! If you haven’t ever seen it you’re in for a treat! You’ll learn all kinds of tidbits of American history and you’ll have great, fun songs stuck in your head forever!

*Lyrics from the Musical: 1776 (Song: Lees of Old Virginia)


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Summertime Adventures

Summertime! Here in California, some of us were beginning to doubt if it would really come this year. Yesterday I was visiting with my little neighbor kids, riding their scooters up and down the sidewalk. They’re glad school is out, but already expressing slight boredom.

I’m sure I probably got bored sometimes in the summer when I was a kid, but as I look back, all I remember is a long stretch of wonderful golden days. Playing and hiking in the woods near our house…swimming in the creek at Pin Hook Bridge…sitting in the hayloft of the barn across the road, eating fresh drippy tomatoes and reading and reading and reading.

Most of my childhood summer adventures were free, but I think it cost a quarter to get into the swimming pool at Coney Island, outside of Cincinnati Ohio. Every Friday my brother and sister and I walked about a mile to our country school, and rode a school bus to the Coney Island Swimming Pool. (To this very day I can’t smell Coppertone suntan lotion without being transported back to the Coney Island swimming pool.) Standing in line, hugging our towels and waiting to pay our quarter, we always saw two signs painted on the wall. One of them billed Coney Island’s “Sunlite Pool” as The largest recirculating pool in the world. The other told us, “You don’t stop playing because you get old. You get old because you stop playing.”

I’ve never forgotten those two signs; they’re inherent in the Coppertone smell. And as I grew up I determined to never stop playing. Who wants to get old?

Billie Holiday sang about “Summertime…when the livin’ is easy” and when I was a young mom I decided to make sure the livin’ would be easy in the summertime! There would still be chores, and there would still be lots of “required reading”, but we would cut ourselves a lot of slack and plan for as much fun as we could stuff into a summer! I wanted my kids to look back on their summers as a long string of golden days, like I do.

And I think it worked. A few days ago I was talking with Matthew, who is now 34. “Remember how we used to go to Turlock Lake every week in the summer?” he asked me. “And we always stopped at the frostee place on the way home.” Of course I remembered! Dozens and dozens and dozens of drives out the country highway to the lake – a happy blur. Not a long drive. Not a lot of money. But the memories are etched in Matthew’s heart with bright clarity.

“And remember we used to ride the bikes out to see the donkey?” He continued to reminisce, “We took carrots and he always came over to the fence to see us.” He even remembered that we named the donkey, Balaam, after the prophet who met a donkey.

I think it’s important to have traditions – happy memories of continuity. But summertime is also a good time to do small spontaneous silly things – those kinds of things you always say, “We should do that sometime…”

For example, driving north on highway 99 we always saw a footbridge arching across the freeway, and the kids always said it would be fun to walk across it and look down at the traffic. We’ll do that someday, we always told each other. Finally we decided to make a list of all those we-should-do-that-someday things, and do them in the summer…“when the livin’ is easy.”

And we did.

We drove nine or ten miles north to park the car and walk slowly across the footbridge. We stopped and looked down at the cars. Then back again, and home. Such a small thing, but it’s one of the summertime adventures we always remember.

Another time, when Monica was stroller age, construction had just been completed on a big multi-story parking garage downtown. The construction was finished but it was not open yet. Matthew sighed with delight, “Wouldn’t it be BAD to ride a skateboard all the way from the top of that?” Wow, that sounded like a great summertime adventure! So I pushed Monica in her stroller and Matthew and his little friend brought their skateboards and we walked to the top of the parking garage and ran and rolled all the way down!

A few years later when Monica was older and David had joined the family, one of them had the idea of digging a pool in our back yard. We decided that was one spontaneous idea we couldn’t really go along with. But John came up with a brilliant alternative! He lined the bed of his truck with plastic sheeting and filled it with water and before long it was also filled with kids!

I don’t remember what kind of checklist we made for our spontaneous summertime adventures. I don’t think it was too fancy, but it did the job of prompting our memories. Our friend Alison has fine-tuned the summertime adventure list, though.

Alison is one of John’s colleagues – a brilliant, hard-working, professional woman – and one of the most delightful hands-on mommies I have ever seen. I saw recently that she made her own variation of a Summertime Adventure List, and I complimented her on her creativity. She told me how much her kids like to get involved in planning the list. And then they enjoy doing the things. But she said they have almost as much fun checking them off the list afterwards!

And so, tomorrow is the official first day of summer. Enjoy it! Think about traditions and adventures and spontaneity…and long golden days of fun.


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Opening A Can of Worms

What’s red and green, male and female, and can easily eat half their body weight in garbage every day? Give up? A worm bin. Redworms are hermaphrodites – male and female. And they can eat a lot of garbage and they produce a lot of wonderful rich compost. What could be more green?

We’ve had our worm bin since 1997 when David – with lots of help and supervision – put it together for his second grade Science Fair project. It seemed like the perfect project for a boy who liked to play in the dirt, and loved to fish. And whose mom loved to garden and keep plants in the house.

And it was a great science fair project! It won a first place blue ribbon, and the worms took up permanent residence in the Paladini menagerie.

Of course nine-year-old David wasn’t much interested in continuing the upkeep of the project after he got his ribbon. Mercenary little dude! (In all fairness worms aren’t all that much fun to play with. They provide very little interaction.)

But his mother became a very enthusiastic wormkeeper. I think they are fascinating! With some ebb and flow, we have maintained a pretty healthy worm farm for about 14 years now. There were two times when the population was nearly wiped out – once from heat and another time, I think, from neglect. I had to call in new recruits from a local bait store.

I keep the bin just outside our back door, in a shady place. (They need to stay cool.) There really is no odor and it’s a convenient and interesting way to get rid of vegetable scraps and the mystery food that I find in little tupperware containers when I clean out the fridge.

John calls the worms my girls, although, as I mentioned earlier, they’re actually hermaphrodites. They have both male and female sex organs. I keep a container by the side of the sink where we collect food scraps to feed the worms. John will be helping me cut up some vegetables and he might indicate a pile of peelings or something and ask, “Does this go to the girls?”

The worms will eat fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and even the coffee filters. I don’t put citrus or spicy things into the bin and I don’t put any kind of meat scraps in. That would be where a decomposing odor would come from.

I can just feel the enthusiasm growing! You are dying to know how you too can have your very own worm bin, right?

This is how David did his project all those years ago.

He got a large Rubbermaid tub and poked holes in the bottom for drainage.

He shredded and moistened enough newspaper to fill the tub about half-way.

Then he added a thousand worms. That is one pound. We got them from The Bond Worm Farm in Ceres. Touring that cool worm warehouse was an interesting field trip associated with the project. (Today redworms can be ordered from any number of online suppliers.)

Then he added scraps of vegetables and peelings and apples cores, and set the bin aside. It’s as easy as that!

Every few days we added more veggie scraps, burying them under the paper. Then voilá! In about 6 weeks the worms had created a rich compost of castings. Yes, worm poop. But it looks a lot like dirt.

Maintaining it has really been pretty easy. Just bury the food scraps and add shredded paper from time to time. When the organic matter looks like good rich compost with no big chunks of vegetable scraps, I push it to one side of the bin and add more shredded paper and vegetable scraps to the empty side. (I just dump the contents of my office paper shredder into the worm bin.) Most of the worms will eventually move over to the side with new paper as the pickin’s get slim among the castings.

And I can scoop out the rich black compost to add to our garden or potted plants. Sometimes a few worms come along, but that’s all to the good.


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Graduation Ruminations

                I hardly know how to talk about this without dragging out overused clichés and maudlin meanderings of the mind.  “What’s a mother to do?!”  My baby is graduating from college tomorrow. Never mind that “my baby” is actually a happily married man with an adorable baby of his own and a home and a good job.  He’s only 23 and I still want to know how the years passed so quickly!

                 The first time I felt like this was when Matthew, our oldest son, graduated from high school. I was stunned at the speed with which his school days had passed. That was a big part of the reason we decided to home-school Monica and David.  If the time was going to pass that quickly I wanted to be in on more of the fun! 

                   And what fun we had!  Delight-directed education. We turned meal planning and grocery shopping into math lessons. Reading books aloud every time we were in the car…  playing Scrabble and calling it “spelling”…and of course, we did a fair amount of “real” school work. 

                    One of my favourite home school memories happened exactly ten years ago. One morning a Modesto city employee came to the door and asked us to move our cars because they were going to be trimming the trees on our street.  Thirteen-year-old David asked if he could go out and watch them, but I said “No, we need to get started with school.”

“How about if I watch them and write a report about it?”  (The kid was so sly!)

                   David went out and introduced himself to the tree trimmers and asked if he could interview them and take a few pictures.  The men were very accommodating.  David got their address and told them, “I’ll send you a copy of my report after my mom grades it.”

He did send a copy of his report to the Modesto Urban Forestry Department, and about two weeks later we got a call from the City Manager’s office.  The report had been forwarded to them and they asked if David could come down to City Hall and speak with someone in that department.  We were so excited!  Apparently someone wanted to publish David’s paper!

Sitting down with the City Manager’s Assistant, she told us what she had in mind.  They were looking for a young person to write a series of articles for “City Pride, Citywide” an insert that went into the Modesto utility bills every month.  The articles were to be about all kinds of city issues from a “child’s” point of view.   Would David be interested? Would he!!!!

 That interview grew into an amazing opportunity for David.  For the next three years he wrote an article every month.  He wrote about a hamster that was rescued from a storm drain, and how storm drains work. He interviewed our friend Chuck Bergquist, a firefighter. He went on a police ride-along, visited a waste-to-energy plant, the water treatment facility and wrote about all kinds of parks and recreation issues. And much more.  It was home-schooling at its best!

And tomorrow he graduates.  “My baby” has grown up.

                   Even though John and I have technically been “empty nesters” for a few months now, this feels like some kind of rite of passage into that place.  The last little bird is off in full flight.

                     Matthew, with his brilliant mind, and no love for school is a successful journeyman electrician. Monica graduated from Liberty University with honors, and has a great job and a bright future. And tomorrow my baby will walk across the stage and get his diploma from CSUS

Mission accomplished!   ( Now bring on the grandkids! )


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Tortillas for Two

This is my first “empty nest” Mother’s Day – the first Mother’s Day of my life that I did not lay eyes on a single one of my kids.  You don’t have to read far into this blog, or know me very well to know that I love being a mommy…mom…mother.  I’ve loved it from the moment I looked down into the face of my firstborn son, Matthew. “You are the most beautiful baby in the world,” I breathed in amazement and delight.

And I’ve loved it through all the seasons. I hardly ever wished to go back in time or move forward to a different age. Every stage had its joy.  I don’t long for a colored macaroni necklace or a handful of roses and dandelions or a sweet crayoned Mother’s Day card on notepaper.  Been there – done that – loved it!

John and I always had a parenting style of raising our kids so they wouldn’t need us when they became adults. (Any more than we all need each other as adults.)  Our goal was to raise them to adulthood and release them to life. Today as I got phone calls, cards and e-mails from all three of my grown up kids, I feel a sense of a job well done.  They all love the Lord and have strong morals.  They are good, productive young adults. And they are my friends.

So I stand in the kitchen with my best friend, my husband.  He has suggested that I show him how to make tortillas so he can make burritos for dinner while I write this post. I start to tell him my usual measurements of flour and water and shortening. Then I stop, and laugh. I have to recalibrate my measurements. I’m still in the habit of cooking for an army of kids and friends! It’s just John and me tonight. Tortillas for two!

Tortilla Recipe

Tortillas for Two: ¼ cup shortening. ½ cup water, a little salt (about half a teaspoon) and enough flour to make a dough about the consistency of playdough.  Shape it into 4 balls.   Roll out the ball on a floured surface until it’s very thin like a pie crust. Bake each tortilla on a dry hot griddle (any hot surface –  a pancake griddle or even a big black cast iron frying pan) until it starts to puff up and bubble in places.  Then flip it and bake untill the other side begins to puff up.  Remove to a plate and do the next one. Each time you put a new tortilla on the stack, flip the stack over. This keeps them moist and pliable.

If you are still in the cooking for an army phase of motherhood you can adapt the recipe and make as big of a batch as you need. My basic recipe is 1 part shortening, 2 parts water and salt to taste, mixing in enough flour to get to the playdough stage. Make the balls about the size of golf balls and follow the baking directions above.

Happy Mother’s Day!


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The “F” Word

“How was the birthday party?” I asked David as we walked down the aisle of Costco. I had just picked him up from his first solo excursion into social life. He stopped short and looked up at me with a troubled expression.  “Well, it was fun, but there was this one girl and she was kind of mean.  And she said the “F” word.”

I felt a sick knot in the pit of my stomach.  We never spoke that particular word,  and as far as I knew, my five-year-old son shouldn’t even have been familiar with the term “the F word”.

“Oh honey,” I squatted down to make eye contact with him.  “I’m so sorry.”  I hesitated, and then leaned closer to him. “Would you please whisper into mommy’s ear exactly what words the little girl said?”

(I needed to know. Had she said “the F word” or had she, in the immortal words of Ralphie, actually uttered “the queen mother of all curse words”?)

Nodding solemnly, aware of the gravity of the moment, my little son put his mouth close to my ear and whispered, “Stupid.”

Stupid! 

Masking the relief that washed over me, I composed my face into a proper look of horror and sadness and whispered, “STUPID, oh David, that is a bad, bad word.  I hope you will never ever say it!”

And I thought, “Next week we’ll get to work on your spelling.”