Monday, November 25, 2013


Ritch received an early birthday/Christmas present from us....a food dehydrator! He loves to make beef jerky in the oven and the kids love dehydrated fruit plus we often freeze or can the overflow from our garden which we then have to keep frozen when we lose electricity from a dehydrator as an alternate way to put away food makes sense for us.

Haley and Daddy broke it in tonight with some fruit, apples and bananas. They cut up the fruit and dipped it to prevent browning then stacked it on the trays.

Here's a full tray of apple slices....

Here's the dehydrator partially filled with apple.

                                                    Can't wait to try the results!

Weekend Ramblings...

We had a great weekend! First off, Newt's 18th birthday was Saturday. It's hard to believe it has been 18 years since he was born. I remember it like it was yesterday...his premature entrance into the world interrupting our Thanksgiving dinner. He was a teeny little guy. Now he is an awesome young man...though still a little on the short side.  I am proud to be his mother! He has applied to college and will start his final high school wrestling season next week. We just finished up Newt's birthday dinner tonight...chicken chili...his favorite! 

Saturday night Haley and Dylan joined a group of talented kids from around the Delaware Valley at the annual Delaware Valley CCE general meeting. The kids had all competed in the MidAtlantic Fleadh and all qualified to go to Derry in August though not all made the trip. Of the four gold medals that came back from the All Ireland competition in August, three were won by Delaware Valley kids....Haley won two (solo fiddle and fiddle slow airs) and Emily won in harp slow airs. So, it was a big year for our little CCE branch...celebrated last night with the kids giving a short concert.

Here are all the kids playing together. They played a set including the Tinker's Daughter and Traver's Reel which they learned at Next Gen from Kevin McGillian who was in the room listening to them play. They were the group who recorded these same tunes for Irish Philadelphia's Ceili Drive CD.

It is pretty neat to have such a great group of kids who share the same passion as my kids. They really enjoy spending time and playing together.

There was also dancing at the meeting. Haley loves to do the ceili dances and always has a dance partner in Ed or John (unfortunately the pictures don't always come out very good because they are always moving).

Sunday, Haley was fortunate to be included in a concert at St. Mary's Church in Cherry Hill. She opened both halves of the show with tune sets. The concert was given by Ciaran Sheehan, who actually has played Raul in Phantom of the Opera. He and the soprano, Sarah, sang a number of Phantom songs accompanied by a pianist and violinist/fiddler, Heather, who we know from Irish music.  They have beautiful voices! Haley had an obsession with Phantom of the Opera when she was around 5 years old and we took her to see the musical on Broadway (

It was funny to have her now meeting and performing with singers who have played parts in that show.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Biology 101....

Monday morning was another dissection day.

The critter on the tray was crawfish. Because the science supply company sent 3 crawfish, the boys each had their own critters and the girls worked together on a bigger one. The kids had much more fun doing the crawfish. The parts were bigger than on the worm, clam, and starfish so easier to see.

Even Katherine is warming up to dissection and did more than observe today.

The kids did some drawings of the outside and inside parts. They identified all the parts discussed in the book.

When they finished their dissection, they took some samples of different parts and made slides to observe under the microscope. They looked at a gill which was the coolest slide, a sample of the digestive gland, and a sample of muscle tissue. They attempted to make a slide of the eye but it was too dark and thick to allow the light of the microscope to come through.

They are looking forward to their next critter!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fiddle Fun!

 We took a rare Wednesday afternoon drive to New York for a fiddle lesson yesterday. Haley's teacher, Brian, was being interviewed by a film crew from Ireland for a documentary on the Sligo fiddle masters. He had some of his students play with him for part of the recording.

It was very interesting to see how filming works...retakes for different camera angles, difficulties getting rid of outside noises, lighting, etc... The interview was really interesting. We can't wait to see the finished product.

The film crew also went to Brian's session at Dunne's Pub to get some of the session on the recording. It was a very busy night at Dunne's. I think they could double the size of the pub and it might still be crowded.

There was a great group of musicians playing! Haley had a great time and did not want to leave. I had to get her to pack up when it got so late we wouldn't get home until almost 1am after our almost 3 hour drive home...some of us have to work in the mornings.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Murray Grove

A couple years ago, the kids were asked to perform at Murray Grove, a retreat center about 90 minutes from our home that hosts group retreats of all kinds and summer camps for kids. This past summer they were asked back to perform for the kids attending the summer camp and they did a nice interactive performance for the campers where they taught them a little about Irish music and answered questions about themselves.

Murray Grove also hosts a Coffee House once a month so they asked the kids back for a third performance. We had to schedule around football games and the beginning of wrestling season so a Sunday afternoon seemed like a good choice. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon. The had a great turnout of local music lovers who enjoyed the kids' music. Haley and the boys played two 40 min. sets and in between there was an intermission and a "question/answer" session so the audience could get to know them better.

Haley and Dylan did a couple songs they had been working on and they also performed a tune Haley wrote recently along with some new tune sets they worked up the last few weeks. They were even broadcast live on an internet radio station ( to over 110 countries while they played.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rehearsal Fun...

Yesterday, I took Haley and Dylan into Philly to Fergie's Pub to rehearse with Alex and Keegan for a gig they are doing together in March. The melody players (seated in the photo to the left) needed to work out some tune sets for the finale section of the show.

Fergie is really nice to allow us to take over the upstairs of the pub in the afternoon before the weekly Saturday session (4-7pm for anyone interested in some great Irish music) for rehearsals whenever we show up. It is a midway point for all of us and then there is the session to stay for which is always a lot of fun.

The kids were much more efficient this year than last year when they needed only two tunes for the trio competition at the Fleadh and it took a whole couple hours. This year, they came up with five sets they can play in an hour. Ah, maturity.  Dylan didn't have much to do as evidenced by the empty seat with Alex's feet on it but he went along for the food afterward.

The pub was crazy last night because people were participating in a "pub crawl" but a little more than halfway into the session it cleared out and we could finally hear the music.

One funny little story.... My husband who arrived home while we were at the pub, texted me asking what we'd had for dinner. Since our refrigerators were both full of leftovers, I sent back "whatever u can find." A little while later he sends back, "The clam, crayfish, frog, fetal pig gumbo was delicious." Ha! Haley started doing dissections with another homeschooling family on Friday and the creatures we have left are sitting in our outside fridge. That may be a text exchange only homeschooling parents would have.

Fergies session.

Saturday, November 02, 2013


Haley has been studying cells for the first part of Biology this year. To finish off the unit, she created an edible cell model. She likes to cook and she likes to create so it was a perfect project for her. She decided on a plant cell. (It kinda looks like a monster face if you picture it just right.) Her licorice endoplasmic reticulum was not cooperating (neither the rough or the smooth) but otherwise, she was able to figure it all out.

We had one of our rare "stay at home" days today. Daddy finished up a project on the floors. Haley and I cleaned the basement and put away Halloween decorations in between practice chunks. Dylan had a football game and Newt did homework then went to see some college wrestle-offs.

Happy Halloween!

Ok, I am a little late with a Halloween post. My boys are too "grown up" to Trick or Treat so only Haley dressed up this year. She created her costume on her own...a creepy doll.

                   She may just be too cute to pull off creepy but she was happy with the results.

                                           Here she is Trick or Treating with her buddy, Lily.