March 30, 2008

Tie-Dyed Egg Instructions

My friend Andrea asked how we created the tie-dyed Easter eggs. Here is the answer!

We read somewhere (can't find the link now) that the following "tie-dyed eggs" recipe works well. We tried it for the first time this year, and we were very pleased. We'll definitely do it again this way next year.

1. Take 1-4 hard-boiled eggs and put them in a colander over the sink.
2. Splash them with some white vinegar.
3. Place 2-3 drops of yellow food coloring on each egg.
4. Gently roll the eggs in the colander (as much or as little as you wish, depending on the effect you're seeking).
5. Let the eggs sit for a good 30 seconds, so the food coloring has a chance to set a little.
6. Now repeat steps 3-5 up to two more times (using a new color each time). Remember to roll and let set after the addition of each color.
7. After the final color sets for 30 seconds, gently rinse with running water. (The more you rinse, the fainter the colors.)

The directions also said that using more than three colors can result in muddy-colored eggs. However, with some experimentation and small applications of additional colors (barely rolled in the colander), we had some luck with small applications of fourth and fifth colors.

The neon food colors work really well, although the neon pack does not include yellow for the base color. (We also experimented without using yellow as a base color, and it worked fine.)

This was such a simple project (way less messy, due to doing it over the sink), and far more creative than our typical egg-coloring activities. We'll definitely do this again next year.


Triduum Traditions

We have many traditions surrounding the Easter Triduum, most importantly attending the Holy Thursday Mass, Good Friday service, and—when babies and life situations allow it—attending the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil.

We have a story to tell, however, surrounding this year's Good Friday efforts: At about 2:40 pm, the kids and I hopped in the van to head to church for the 3:15 Good Friday service. We were to meet Joe at St. Patrick's downtown. No sooner did I have the kids buckled in the van than the UPS truck pulled up right behind us on our driveway pad. We were stuck there until he could deliver the package and move on. Well, little did we know what was in store. In this winter that has still not ended (we're well over 100" of snow for the year now), Good Friday was snowy and icy. The UPS man managed to get stuck on our driveway, right outside our garage door. Despite the very flat topography of our driveway at that point, the combo of ice and very wet snow kept his tires spinning. After a good fifteen minutes of effort, he put chains on the tires and managed to get off the driveway pad, but proceeded to get again stuck on the asphalt part of the driveway just a little farther down (still keeping us home-bound). He did the whole thing over again—rocking back and forth, finally trying chains. When he got out of the truck to put on the chains, he asked where we were headed. When I told him, he responded that he wouldn't advise it, as the road in front of our house was nearly as bad as our driveway. At that moment, my cell phone rang. It was Joe calling to report that he'd been driving around the church for twenty minutes, unable to find a parking spot for his little Saturn, due to limitations on street parking in the wake of the snow. He felt that we'd have a very difficult time finding parking anywhere nearby for our big passenger van and would have to walk many blocks with five kids in the icy, biting snow that was still coming down. I looked at my watch and did a quick mental calculation: Although the UPS man was now out of our driveway, his predicament had kept us stuck at home for nearly a half hour. The Good Friday service was starting in five minutes, and we live a half hour away. With the reportedly bad roads and the parking difficulties, we knew we could end up being an hour late for church. I made the executive call and had the kids unbuckle and head inside. We set up our Stations of the Cross in the family room and prayed them together, read all the Good Friday readings together, and sang the Stabat Mater. Needless to say, we tried.

Our Triduum also involves food traditions. On Good Friday, we make hot cross buns, to be served on Holy Saturday morning. On Holy Saturday (after eating hot cross buns) we color Easter eggs and start making dishes to be served on Easter. Among the photos below you'll see egg-coloring photos and the fruits of our labor with regard to one of our Easter desserts. You'll also see ear-to-ear grins on the kids. After six weeks of Lenten sacrifices (including a moratorium on sweets), Holy Saturday is great fun for the kids, and the Easter anticipation is almost overwhelming.

March 22, 2008

The Wearin' O' the Green

You know it's St. Patrick's Day when boys starting running around with cabbage on their heads.

(Let's hope it's not the corned beef next time.)

March 20, 2008

Birthday Chicks

Joe's been talking about building a coop and getting chickens forever. It's one of those things we've discussed, but life kept getting in the way of figuring it all out and getting it together. Well, I decided that this year was the year and that Joe's March birthday was the time to do it.

I ordered ten chickens from Ideal Poultry—two Buff Orpingtons, two Black Astraulorpes, two Silver Laced Wyandottes, two Barred Rocks, and two New Hampshire Reds. They are all winter-hardy birds known for good egg laying. They are also supposed to be very gentle, as compared to some of the more skittish varieties—assuming you're talking about the hens. That last phrase will turn out to be important, as I ordered ten females, but the company threw in six roosters for warmth. Not known for their gentle dispositions, the roosters may or may not find a permanent home with the Leones.

The series of photos below shows the sequence of events on Joe's birthday. I picked up the day-old chicks at the post office early that morning. The first photo shows the kids, huddled around our basement brooder box, ready to open the shipping box of cheeping chicks. They could hardly contain their excitement. Joe was at work, completely oblivious to the unfolding events occurring at home.

These last two photos show Joe's surprise as the chick operation is unveiled before his eyes. (The thing on his head is the blindfold we made him wear while leading him down the basement steps to see his gift. We also had him wear ear protection so he couldn't hear the chicks cheeping.) He was blown away by the gift, completely surprised, and very excited!

March 18, 2008

Curious George, Silly String, & Battle Armor

What could be better for a four-year-old birthday celebration than lots of Curious George (cake, hat, plates...), battle armor in the gift pile, and a silly string fight with Godmother Claudia? Let's just say Andrew was in seventh heaven.

Joe & his Girls

Our annual homeschool Father-Daugher Dance is always a big hit in this household. Joe escorted two of his lovely daughters, dressed in their finery, to this year's dance. Anna Marie, Kathleen, and Joe had a marvelous time, dancing the night away.

Little Therese, who stayed home with a babysitter this year, is sure to get in on the dancing next year. Get ready for a little more competition for Dad, girls!

March 17, 2008

Miss Valentine is Two!

It's hard to believe that our baby, born on a cold Valentine's Day in 2006, is now two.

And what a birthday she had. She was very excited about the whole birthday process—from the gifts to the singing to the candles to the cake! It's good to be two!

Therese unwraps a card full of Valentines from her Godmother, Claudia:

Therese holds the St. Therese rosary that Grandma Kate & Poppy sent for her birthday:

Therese snuggles under the hand-knitted blanket made for her by Aunt Cathie:

Therese readies herself for the sugar-feast:

But What About Socialization?

To those who ask the, "But what about socialization?" question of homeschoolers, I direct you to this photo. This image was snapped just after our enrichment activities on a recent Wednesday. These are the children with whom our kids socialize on a weekly basis, seeing many of them more often than that. Note the age differential: Preschoolers through eighth graders. You don't get that kind of multi-age socialization in school. Needless to say, socialization is not an issue in this household and, dare I say, in most homeschooling households.

March 16, 2008

The Never-Ending Winter

With snow to fill the record books and then some (nearly ninety inches this winter!), Joe and his plow got a good workout.

Joe's plow got stuck a few times this winter. Yes, that's Joe back there, digging out.

Your challenge: Find Joe amidst the snow. Looks like a white-out? Look carefully now... There you go... Right in the middle of the photo... Yes, that's the plow blade to the left, and the body of the tractor (with Joe atop) toward the right--just a shadow in the middle of one of our blizzards.

Before dark fell and before the storm was over, our deck was already piling up with mounds of snow...

And here's the backyard view from our bedroom window the next morning. Look at how the wind pushed the snow overnight! Beautiful!

Mourning the Pack

Despite our revelry and even homemade Packer crowns (see Joe sporting his), the Packers-Giants game this year—the playoff game which could have led us to the Super Bowl—resulted in a heart-breaking loss for the Pack. The mood was pretty somber around here that evening.

Sweet Therese, however, was unphased by the Packer loss and kept herself happy with her own antics.

She's Growing Up!

Our oldest is finishing sixth grade this spring! That means we'll have a child in junior high next year. I can hardly believe it. Our sweet little girl is becoming a sweet young lady.

March 14, 2008


After stumbling upon this amazing photo journal and developing a cyber-friendship with its friendly author, the kids and I developed an intense interest in the Arctic. As a result, we decided to follow dog-mushing as an educational pursuit, following first the Yukon Quest, then the Iditarod. We had a ball and learned much along the way.

The kids helped create a large poster-board -sized map with the aid of a borrowed projector from Joe's office. We marked the route for each race, complete with the checkpoints along the way. Each of us selected the musher we wanted to follow, checked into the race website each morning for updates, and tracked our musher's progress by moving that musher's pin along the poster board path. We learned dog mushing lingo and are familiar now with the names of some of the top mushers in the field. Thanks to the kind generosity of a certain Yukon Territory friend, we even received copies of local newspaper articles reporting on the races.

We were thrilled that all the mushers chosen by residents of the Leone household finished the races. And we shared Kathleen's joy in learning that her chosen musher, Lance Mackey, won it all--both the Yukon Quest and, shortly thereafter, the Iditarod.

By way of a sidenote, Anna Marie is very disappointed that her newfound dream of becoming a musher in the Junior Iditarod may prove difficult without taking up residence in Alaska or the Yukon and without having a dog team.

When Dad Comes Home From Work

When Dad comes home from work, the children attack!

Look carefully and find all three children attached to dear ol' Dad.

March 13, 2008

Ringing in the New Year in Style

What could be better than hanging out with the Good Padres and the Daniels on New Year's Eve?

The Daniel-Padre-Leone New Year's Eve has become something of an annual tradition, and we sure are grateful that the Daniels keep inviting us, despite the size increase (and noise-and-chaos increase) in our family in recent years.

It's bound to be a good New Year's Eve celebration when hanging out with some of our very favorite people!

I Spy Deer

We have been visited by so many white-tailed deer this winter, sometimes ten or more at a time. In this photo (taken of our backyard), there are at least six deer. Click on the photo to blow it up, be sure to look closely at the treeline, and see if you can spy all of them.

Toilet Training

Okay, I realize this is a toilet shot of our lovely daughter, but is this cute or what?

No, she's not actively toilet training yet, but she did show an interest the other day, and we decided to let her have her moment in the sun (or something like that).

Hangin' With the Band

One of the perks of having a daughter who sang with the UW Band is an invitation to sit with the UW alumni band during a recent Badger hockey game (when all the students were on Christmas break and there were plenty of open seats in the band section). Check out the delight on the faces of these kids!

The Things Boys Say

In an effort to bring my blog up-to-date after a two-month hiatus (can you say "Post-Christmas Catch-Up?), I will be posting a series of Leone family moments and highlights...

Let's start off with a peek at a conversation around the breakfast table a few days ago.

Mom, carrying a basket of laundry through the kitchen:
"Dad did laundry for me this morning. Isn't that nice?"

William (7): "He's such a dude!"

Andrew (3): "Do you know what 'dude-ish' means? It means super macho and super powerful and super rock and roll."

For the record, we do try to instill eloquence and becoming speech around here.