Saturday, May 31, 2008

Feta and Strawberry Salad

I love feta cheese, so any salad that includes it sounds good to me. Enjoy!

1 pkg. (5 oz.) mixed baby greens
3/4 c sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
3 tbsp toasted sliced almonds
1/4 c balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Toss all ingredients except dressing in large bowl. Add dressing just before serving. Mix lightly. Makes 4 servings.

God Bless!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Simple Woman's Cannery

Lately we have been coming across a lot of information from various sources about the possibility of a coming food shortage in the world. This got us to thinking again about planting a garden. We have tried it in the past, but never really did very well with it. No one was ever that enthusiastic about going out there and weeding and half the time we would forget to water it. Last year when the weather was great for gardening, we didn't even bother. This year we decided we would have to try again but maybe on a little smaller scale. Everyone has agreed, so far, that they will pitch in.

With a garden, we also got to discussing canning. I have never canned anything. My grandparents would can all kinds of things (my favorite was Grandma's peach jelly). They had the customary Polish kitchen down in the basement and would spend the late summer and fall down there canning away. Unfortunately I never was very interested in learning the ins and outs of it, so the art of canning has died away in our family. I lamented that I would like to learn, but really think it would be easier if there was someone who could show me.

The day after we had this conversation, one of my daughters was blog hopping and came in to tell me that she had stumbled upon a blog that a woman had just started and it is all about how to can. What got me even more excited is that she really did just start the blog, so that meant that I wasn't behind and didn't have a lot of posts to read to catch up! Her blog is called The Simple Woman's Cannery. Right now she is having a drawing for a Ball Blue Book of canning and a Ball utensil set. I'm so excited! It looks like there will be someone who will be able to walk me through this canning thing after-all. Now all I need is some seeds to plant that will actually grow and produce enough fruits and vegetables so that I have something to can!! Check out her blog if you are interested in learning about canning. I bet it will even make a great unit study :)

St. Isadore the farmer, Pray for us.

God Bless!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Unit Studies Part IV

I spent a bunch of time last week writing about unit studies. If you are still on the fence about whether or not you want to try them, let me just share this example of how easy it is to really set one up.

The other night at dinner we got on the topic of family parties. Our families have a lot of family parties and it has become a joke with many of our friends. One of my daughters relayed a conversation that she had with a friend of hers about their family having a lot of parties, too. My reply was that of course they would, they are Irish. This then led to a lengthy discussion of different nationalities, their drinking and their partying habits. I will spare you all of the details (mainly because I told my children that this discussion was not allowed to leave the house:), but all of a sudden it dawned on me that the history of alcohol would make an interesting unit study. Before too long, my husband, my daughter and I came up with a list of all of the subjects you could cover with this topic.

History: The history of alcohol, the importance it plays(ed) in different cultures, the Prohibition
Chemistry: How is wine made, how is beer made?
Biology: What does alcohol do to your body, why can it be bad for you, how does it affect your mind
Religion: Wine in the Jewish culture, Transubstantiation, the miracle of the Wedding Feast at Cana
Geography: Locate a country, or culture, and research their drink of choice

Of course you can weave in research, writing, spelling and reading into all of this. I suggested a field trip to Napa Valley, California but I got some raised eyebrows from my husband on that one. Instead, he suggested a brewery in Wisconsin which would be much closer.

We came up with a whole unit study (or at least a good portion of it) in under 20 minutes. The neat thing is that if you leave yourself open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, you never know what new things will pop up while you are in the midst of your study. Now, the history of alcohol might not be your thing, but I just wanted to illustrate how you can take a random dinner conversation and turn it into a full topic of study. You just have to have your ears and mind open to the possibilities.

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Have Hope

I've been thinking a lot about that can of peas lately because I have found myself in that dry place once again. Some days it is easier than others to drag myself out of it. I just read somewhere recently that when a person finds themselves struggling to do or think anything even remotely holy, the best thing for that person to do is to focus on the present moment. Don't think about your problems or your spiritual dryness, don't think about tomorrow or a week from now. Just focus on the present moment and do what needs to be done. Eventually you will come out of it and I have found that this very narrow focus really does help.

Of course we all have heard before that we should end the day by thinking of all of the things that did go right, or if that is not possible, then hopefully we can find at least one thing that we can look at and see it as the blessing that it was, even if it seems very insignificant. For example, I filled up our big blue van with gasoline on Thursday morning. We then drove back and forth to the conference for three days, plus church on Sunday and errands on Monday and Tuesday. When we filled up last night, we found we had gotten 16.9 miles to the gallon. If any of you have a 15 passenger van like we do, you know that that is totally unheard of. In fact, in the seven years we have had this van, it has never happened! Praise God! He can even increase your gas mileage!

I guess I'm writing all of this because if there is anyone out there now, or in the future, who reads this and is in the midst of falling into despair: Have Hope. God is still there and He does pay attention to every little detail of your life, even if it does not seem like it right now.

One particularly tough day I was at a friends house and I walked into her kitchen and out jumped a little card they had taped to their cabinet. It said,

"Sacrifice, to be real, must cost, must hurt, must empty us of ourselves." Blessed Mother Teresa

Not what I particularly wanted to hear right at that moment, but now that I have it hanging in my kitchen, I find it is a good reminder to me. Also hanging on a Post-It note in my kitchen is my favorite Bible verse:

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

And then last week my husband put up this quote from Bl. Charles de Foucauld:

"God uses adverse winds to blow us into port"

Whenever I come across a helpful or uplifting thought, I find that it usually ends up hanging up somewhere in my kitchen. Subliminal advertising, I suppose. Hopefully some of these have been a help to one of you.

God Bless!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Can of Peas

There have been times in my life over the last 14 years when God has chosen to hide Himself from me; sometimes for long periods of time. Early on in my conversion was like living a dream. I was on fire for the Lord and wanted to learn everything that I possibly could about the faith I had neglected for so long. So, in an effort to catch up I read everything I could get my hands on. I made many a blunder in my early enthusiasm to tell everyone how great it was to know the Lord. Nevertheless, I continued on for a while growing in knowledge and faith.

And then, the Lord began to show me what it was like to not feel His presence so acutely. It was just a little, at first, and for short periods of time, but I was devastated because I didn't know what was happening or what I was supposed to do about it. During one of these times, I remember being in the grocery store feeling very sorry for myself because I felt so lost and alone (in my spiritual life, not in the grocery store:) when God took the tiniest moment to let me know that He was still with me, even though I could not grasp His presence. We have a dish that we eat that my husband has affectionately dubbed Tuna Soup (most people call it tuna casserole). The only way that we can remotely enjoy it is if I put a can of peas into it, but usually I would end up forgetting to buy the peas and then we would have to suffer through it without them. So, back in the grocery store I was walking down the vegetable aisle trying to remember what it was that I had wanted to buy when a young girl walked up to her mother who was right in front of me. She asked her mother, "Mom, what are you doing? Oh yeah, that's right, I forgot you don't like to eat your tuna casserole without peas." With that she promptly left the aisle. Her mother never even looked up or said a word, just kept right on taking cans off of the shelf. I grabbed my can of peas and burst into tears (discretely of course!) I left that store knowing that even though I felt that God had abandoned me, He was still there looking out for me.

I am still grateful for that little incident because whenever it gets really tough and it seems as if God has finally had enough of me and has left me for good, I think back on that can of peas and remind myself that He really does still care about even the smallest of my desires. I mean, really, if He took the time to remind me to buy a can of peas so that we could enjoy one dinner out of thousands, then why should I worry about whether He'll take care of everything else? Probably because I am a sinner and have to keep being reminded over and over again.

God Bless!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blessed Memorial Day

Well, the conference is over *big sigh*, all the dancing is over *another big sigh* and that means that so are all of the meetings and practices. Overall, it seems that people enjoyed themselves this past weekend. It is always nice to meet new people who share your same ideals and beliefs, and also to meet up with people you just don't get to see enough. My girls finally got to meet Regina Doman and buy her new book "Midnight Dancers". My oldest has already read it twice, now hopefully she will let the rest of us get our hands on it! Thanks to all of you who threw in a last minute prayer for us.

Since today is Memorial Day, and a lot of people do some form of picnic activity, I thought I would throw in a great recipe for coleslaw that is a bit different and very easy to make. If you haven't gone to the store, yet, it would be a great addition to your mealtime festivities. And, as we celebrate what most people consider the beginning of the summer, let us remember in prayer all of the people who have fought and died to give us the freedom to celebrate!

God Bless!

Calypso Coleslaw

4 c shredded cabbage
1 can corn drained
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1/4 c shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tbls sliced ripe olives
1 c mayonnaise
2 tbls sugar
2 tbls cider vinegar
4 tsp prepared mustard
1/2 tsp celery seed

In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, corn, onion, cheese and olives. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients; shake well. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Chill until serving. Yields 6 servings.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Given the ever increasing attack on the family, I just couldn't pass up this great meditation I found this morning in my "In Conversation with God" book.

"Our family life should be warm and affectionate, free from arguments, criticisms or complaints. We should make ourselves available to play our part in taking care of the home and tending to the material needs of our chidren, our brothers and sisters or our parents. Our weekends and vacation time should be made good use of to avoid laziness and time-wasting pastimes. We should be serene in the face of difficulties, modestly simple in our manner of celebrating, sensible in an entirely Christian way while sanctifying holidays, preparing family excursions or planning vacations. There should be respect for the freedom and opinions of the others, along with appropriate and opportune advice. We have to be interested in our children's (or younger siblings') studies and human development. We should be ready to make sacrificies for those who require more loving attention and understanding.

Chrisitan ideals and noble human desires will be maintained if the home atmosphere is cheerful and the practice of the natural virtues is given an important place. Then the family will become a privileged place in which is carried out the constant renewal of the Church, and the new evangelization of the world to which the Pope calls us."

I believe it would be like Heaven on Earth if all families could even follow half of the ideas that are contained in here.

Speaking of attack, I would just like to ask everyone who reads this to stop and say a short prayer for our homeschool conference that will be going on today and Saturday. The attacks and difficulties have been numerous, so it looks like it is going to be a great time! Please pray for the health and safety of all the people who will be participating and that all will go according to God's design. We have been praying the Memorare for these intentions for the past few months so please feel free to join in, or feel free to offer up your own prayer for our intentions. Thanks.

Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to they protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother. To thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Unit Studies - Part III

Yesterday Elizabeth left a comment that brought an important piece of information to my attention. I tend to forget that other states have strict reporting laws when it comes to homeschooling. We happen to live in a state that has no reporting requirements. So, if you live in a state that has stricter laws and required paper trails, you can still do unit studies as your main style of learning, it will just require more documentation and possibly thinking outside of the box to get it done.

I was just rereading a book that I had about unit studies called "Unit Studies Made Easy" by Valerie Bendt. In part of the book she discusses how she keeps track of what her children have learned. She keeps a spiral notebook open with one page per child per day. On it she records all of their activities and classifies them into a typical subject of study. She makes note that she records things the family might do outside of typical school hours since those activities can certainly qualify as learning. For example, making a meal for a sick family could be classified as Home Ec, gardening time could fall under science, etc. This way she has documented evidence that her kids are studying and learning.

As just another example of how to set up a unit study, I would like to tell you about one that we did on Romantic Era composers. We obviously studied music, and in addition to that we covered history by learning about various composers. We mapped out where each of them lived, thus covering some geography. My oldest did research and wrote short reports on various composers. We also watched some movies that were related to certain composers, as well as learned to play their songs and listened to recordings of their music. When you think about it, it is fairly easy to cover a good deal of ground by taking a look at just one topic.

I'm not sure if I'll have time to post anymore before the conference, so I hope this has been helpful.

God Bless!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Unit Studies - Part II

With the homeschooling conference approaching, I have had to give a little bit of thought to what I want to do next year. In the coming school year I will have two high school students, both of them very different learners. My oldest daughter likes her text books and likes when I map out exactly what she has to do and then leave her alone! Most of the time she groans when I tell her we are all going to do something as a group. I think it is because we slow her down. My next high schooler is definitely one who is an auditory and hands on kind of learner, so the unit study approach works well for her. I have found that planning a unit study around one of the high school topics is a good way to blend us all together. For instance, this coming fall my oldest will be studying the US Government and I just happened to find a unit study on elections that will tie into it. She will also be studying Biology, so I found a great book called "Christian Kids Learn Biology" that the rest of us can use.

In planning my year like this, I have found another great advantage: I save a lot of money. I don't need to buy a bunch of workbooks for each student. There are certain subjects we still use textbooks and workbooks for (like math and map skills), but otherwise I really don't have to spend all that much money. With the inter-library loan system around our area and the availability of the internet, we have many resources at our finger tips. Many times I will just buy a few general books about a subject that we will be studying that we can all use.

I will admit that I am a book fiend and I still do find it hard to shop the vendor hall (or even a catalog) and not be tempted to buy a lot of stuff, most of which I really don't need. At last year's conference I was just about to buy grammar workbooks for some of my children when a friend asked me why I was doing that. She brought me over to the used book section, we found an early version of a good grammar book and she gave me some ideas of how I could incorporate it into whatever we were studying. What a great idea that was!

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying that workbooks are bad. Some children do just fine with them. Some mothers do just fine with them. I can tell you that they were just not working for us. I hated what was happening to our schooling and my children hated it, too. It was obvious that something needed to change. After a lot of prayer and research, I knew that this was a better way for us to go. If you are struggling with the workbook way of learning I would urge you to try out a unit study and see if you like it. I can definitely say that it revolutionized our learning!

God Bless!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Unit Studies - Part I

It's that inevitable time of the year when people begin to ask if we are finished with school yet. The other night my father-in-law was asking us that question when one of my daughters said that she was done already. He started asking her what subjects she had studied this year. Of course she said math, and then went on to list off Latin and art but then stopped. He asked her about English. She responded that we don't really do English. Boy, my sister-in-law got a hoot out of that one. Always ready to spring into action, I tried to explain to them how English is something we conquer amidst all of the other things that we are learning.

I find that this is probably one of the harder things about Unit Studies: There is not a specific workbook or test for each individual subject. We read good literature out loud and independently. We studied grammar during our Latin lessons. We did writing assignments which included drafts and rewrites. We had spelling words. As far as I can tell, this is English. Its just not balled up into a nice, neat little workbook.

Thinking in Unit Study mode definitely requires thinking out of the box. I found that I really had to make a shift in my thinking when I started to teach this way. I had to get over the security of having the concrete workbook and test in my hand that "told" me my child had learned something. In reality, all it really told me was that they memorized something for the short term. All I could do was hope that they retained it for the long term.

The longer we learn with Unit Studies, however, the more I see that it is a way of inching ever more closely towards a more natural way of learning. We might learn about four or five different subjects just by exploring one topic. I like the way that works and I think my kids do, too.

Hopefully I will be able to add more on this subject tomorrow :) God Bless!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Odds and Ends

Well, the day has finally arrived. After many months of anticipation on the part of my children, today is the day we go to see "Prince Caspian". I hope that it is as good as they are hoping it will be!! I am remaining neutral until I see the movie. Usually for something like this, we try to read the book out loud first so that we can compare it to the movie. However we are still trying to finish another book that we have checked out from the library 3 times now and still have not finished :) Life is just way too busy!

Speaking of books, I have successfully completed reading "Black as Night". It was a very good book. I did neglect to mention in my other post that these two books, "The Shadow of the Bear" and "Black as Night" do have a light romantic story line to them, so they are probably best for teens and older. Also, they are not just for girls! While they are written like a fairy tale, there is still enough mystery and adventure to keep a boy just as engaged. Ben...listen to your mother and read these books! You'll like them!

On a more serious topic, if you are at all interested in seeing what some have to say about the "signs of the times", I would recommend you check out Mark Mallet's blog. It has been pretty heavy lately and I know it is not something that everyone will agree with, but I feel compelled to mention it. Check it out and see if the Holy Spirit is calling you to take to heart the message that Mark is putting out there.

Don't forget, it is still not too late to register for the ILCHC Homeschool conference. Check it out here.

Since we have a busy weekend ahead, I thought I'd put my recipe up today. This recipe is thanks to my good friend Jenni who gave this easy but good brownie recipe to me years ago. It is still one that I use all the time because it is so simple and fast. Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Chip Brownies

2 C chocolate chips - divided
1/2 C butter
3 eggs
1 1/4 C flour
1 C sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C nuts - optional

Melt 1 cup morsels and butter in a pan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and add eggs. Stir well. Add flour, sugar, baking soda and vanilla and mix well. Add last 1 cup of morsels and nuts and stir.

Spread into greased 9 X 13 pan. Bake 18-22 minutes. Cool completely and then cut.

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Organize your Schoolwork

I was visiting a good friend of mine last week when I saw something in her eating area that made the organizing freak inside of me have heart palpitations (good ones, mind you!). My friend has eight children, all of whom are homeschooled. She has persevered through a full Seton curriculum for the entire time! Her oldest daughter is now in college. I was so impressed by the organized way in which she keeps her children's schoolwork that I thought I would pass along pictures of it. She designed the case, her husband and daughter built it and then set it on some bookshelves that they already had. Each child has their own color folders with each subject neatly labeled on the spine of the folder with the corresponding books for that subject behind it. I love it. Hope this helps anyone who might be either pressed for space or organizationally challenged.

God Bless!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Becoming a Devout Soul

While I was reading "Black as Night", I came to a passage that, very appropriately, jumped off the page at me. Yes, it pretty much jumped off the page and hit me smack across the face. In the book, some friar novices are in the middle of a lesson with their superior. The superior says, "According to the saints, the vow of poverty involves the surrender of our time...St. Therese of Lisieux in particular believed 'a willingness to be interrupted' was necessary to the devout soul." Well, I can tell you all that I am certainly not a devout soul. What a struggle it is to finally get focused on something only to be interrupted. Take this book, for example. The human side of me wants nothing more than to sit down, uninterrupted, and finish this book! The other side of me that knows better, realizes that this is not possible (unless I stay up all night), but yet still I struggle every time I must get up to take care of something. It also never fails that when I finally can sit down and get a good internet connection so I can post, someone comes along and asks me some deep, philosophical question (like, how come you have to spray paint the furniture?) that requires me to stop my train of thought and come up with some sort of reasonable response.

I think that part of why I struggle with these interruptions is because I have a very hard time remembering things and focusing on one thing at a time (remember, I suffer terribly from momnesia!). Therefore, when I have to do a task that requires this focus, I know that if I am interrupted too many times, I might as well pack it in. I guess, though, that as we try to grow in holiness, that we are called to be detached even from the things that we need and want to do. It's like making a plan to go out and then being mad when it rains. If we are detached from all of our plans and all of the things that we would like to do, or even need to do, and allow ourselves to be totally led by the Holy Spirit, then an interruption would not even phase us. I think it even goes hand-in-hand with being at peace in our soul and living in the present moment. (How funny, just as I was trying to wrap this up the phone rang with none other than a telemarketer. God really does have a sense of humor. So, where was I going with this???) The more docile we allow our soul to be to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the present moment, I suppose the more willing we will be to be interrupted and then, hopefully, the more devout we will become.

God Bless!

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Black as Night"

My oldest daughter and some her friends have really been into a series of books for awhile that were written by Regina Doman. Not having the time, nor the inclination, I had never read any of the books and was wondering what the big deal was that they could spend so much time discussing these books, both on the internet and off. Well, a few weeks ago, the first book in the series, "The Shadow of the Bear" was sitting out and I casually picked it up to see what all the fuss was about. I have to admit that I was hooked. I don't think much else got done until I finished that book. It is not just for teenagers, but for anyone who likes a modern mystery that doesn't have all that gore and immorality in it. I was almost finished with "The Shadow of the Bear" when my daughter informed me that the second book, "Black as Night" was currently out on loan to a friend of hers. Not only that, but it would be a while before it came back because her friend's mother wanted to read it, too. FINE. "That's okay, I have more than enough stuff to keep me busy," I thought.

Now, two weeks before our big homeschooling conference, when I have a dress to make for the girls' dance performance, a talk to write (just in case I have to fill in for someone who doesn't show up), a critical web page to get up and numerous meetings and practices to drive to, my daughter tells me that "Black as Night" has returned to our house. How could she do that to me??? Doesn't she realize I have way too much to do??? Doesn't she realize I have no self control when it comes to a good book??? Unfortunately, since it was Mother's Day yesterday and I took some time to sit on the couch, I picked up the book....and started reading it....and now I am afraid that all of this other stuff will not get done until I finish it because it is just as good as the first one. And I also happen to know that the third book, "Waking Rose" is still in the house. God, give me strength!

I would recommend you check the books out at this website of Regina's. I'm looking forward to meeting her at the upcoming ILCHC conference!

God Bless!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Happy Mother's Day and Happy Pentecost

I thought I would take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Mother's Day! As I thought about this upcoming weekend, it just dawned on me that Sunday is both Mother's Day and Pentecost Sunday (I'm kind of slow, it has been a very busy week:) What a great time to pray that all mothers will be infused with the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that they may carry out their God-given duties in a more Christ-like way.

When I look back on my "former" life and my desire for only two children, I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit helped me to find my way to the path that God had for my life. I often look at my children and think about what life would be like without the last five kids. (Okay, so on days when everyone is crabby and the house is a wreck, you could say that I fantasize about what life would be like...) My oldest two are 16 and 14. What a different life it would have been if we had stopped there. I am truly grateful that God's will won out and that we have been blessed with all seven of our children. I am grateful that they are all healthy, fun-loving, wonderful images of God and I am in awe that God has allowed us the awesome responsibility of raising them. I certainly don't feel worthy of the task and I know that I can definitely use a constant infusion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to keep me going.

I am glad this Mother's Day is on Pentecost. I feel that as life becomes more difficult, God is giving us mothers an little extra gift this year. As we celebrate the birth of the Church as well as the births of our children by which we became mothers, let us unite ourselves with the Holy Spirit and thank God for the many gifts He has given us in our motherhood.

Veni, Sancte, Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul's most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill:
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue's sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Studying Fish

I'm a big fan of unit studies. It took me a long time to make the transition away from workbooks for everything, but now that I have done it, I find I can get much more excited about school. This month we have been studying fish. We got a whole bunch of books from the library about fresh and saltwater fish and the kids have been pouring through them. They each had to pick one type of fish and then do some research about it. For the younger kids, I provided them with an outline of information that I wanted them to find. Next, they had to organize their information into a report - the older the child, the longer the report. To add color to their report, I asked them to draw and color a picture of their chosen fish. The next step will be to have them present their report to the rest of the "class" so that we can all learn some details about more fish.
Since my dad likes to fish, I asked him to catch us a fish so that we could look at it up close and personal. Yesterday he brought us a striped bass (what the lake he fishes on terms a garbage fish. They ask the fishermen NOT to put them back in the lake, so hopefully the fact that we cut this fish up won't upset anyone. I know our cats were happy when we were done!!:) We were able to touch it and look at all of the different parts.

Next, we got out our biology disecting kit and carefully opened it up to study the insides.
My dad also showed us the best way to filet a fish.
I think that one of the things I like most about homeschooling is the freedom to study things as they come up. I got the idea to study fish because we went to a funeral home not too long ago that had a HUGE saltwater tank with some really cool fish in it. We were all fascinated by it and it brought up a lot of questions, so I decided to spend some time learning about fish. I think it is really cool when you can involve members of your extended family in your learning, too. I think my dad really enjoyed sharing his knowledge about fish with his grandchildren. I try to find ways to include grandparents, aunts and uncles in our learning as often as I can. It also helps to show them that we actually do learn things! I'll be sharing more about unit studies in the near future. Please feel free to comment if you have any good ideas or have had a good experience with unit studies.
God Bless!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

12 Step Internet Recovery Program

My husband picked up this little newspaper this past weekend while we were out wandering and inside was full of advertisements, jokes, riddles and interesting facts. One thing that caught our eye was the "12-Step Internet Recovery Program". In light of my other post about the internet, I thought it might be fun to share this with everyone. How many of these can you identify with? I can identify with half of them (although I am not willing to admit which ones:) So here they are:

1. I will have a cup of coffee in the morning and read my newspaper like I used to, before the Internet.
2. I will eat breakfast and lunch with a knife and fork and not with one hand typing.
3. I will get dressed before noon.
4. I will make an attempt to clean the house, wash clothes, and plan dinner before even thinking of the Internet.
5. I will sit down and write a letter to those unfortunate few friends and family that are Internet-deprived.
6. I will call someone on the phone, even if I can contact them via the Internet.
7. I will read a book...if I still remember how.
8. I will listen to those around me and their needs and stop telling them to be quiet so that I can get my blog written:)
9. I will not be tempted in between school subjects to check for email.
10. I will try and get out of the house at least once a week, if it is necessary or not.
11. I will remember that my bank is not forgiving if I forget to balance my checkbook because I was too busy on the internet.
12. Last, but not least, I will remember that I must go to bed sometime...and the Internet will always be there tomorrow!

God Bless!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Musings of a Simpler Life

This past weekend my husband and I got the chance to get away to celebrate our 20th Anniversary which will be occurring this month. We stayed in a quaint one-room cabin at a state park, ate a lot of good food and walked among God's creation. During this time of walking through the woods, we talked about living the "simple" life of days gone by. You know, the days when your work was mainly tied to your immediate survival. Hardly simple, I know, but the people who lived back then didn't have all of the STUFF that bogs us down today. Would it be possible to live this "simple" life now-a-days? How hard would you have to fight against society to live a life where all that you did each day was tied to meeting the basic necessities of your life? My husband thinks it would be neat to build all your own furniture. Would it lose some of its charm if you had to do it? Quite often we think how neat it would be to make everything from scratch, grow most of your own food, make you own clothing. How neat would it be if that was what you had to do in order to survive? I keep following Mark Mallet's blog and I often wonder if we might not be heading toward events that would require us to live this simple life. How hard will it be to adjust if we are forced into it (due to events that might happen in the world)? Would we do better if it was by choice? I know these are a lot of questions and no answers, but that is why I titled this post "Musing..." and not "Answers..."

So, as always, one must return home and get slammed in the face with reality. It was nice, however, to be alone with my husband for 36 hours and wander, pray and muse about things that might be. Enjoy the pictures!

God Bless!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Unite in Prayer Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 3rd, The Saint Michael the Archangel Organization is organizing a rosary crusade for an end to abortion. The specific intention is for the end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn babies. They are hoping to get as many as 1 million people praying the rosary within the same hour tomorrow morning. The schedule of times throught the country are as follows:

9 AM to 10 AM (Eastern Time Zone)
8 AM to 9 AM (Central Time Zone)
7 AM to 8 AM (Mountain Time Zone)
6 AM to 7 AM (Pacific Time Zone)
5 AM to 6 AM (Alaska Time Zone)
4 AM to 5 AM (Hawaii Time Zone)

Just so they can keep track of how many people will be praying during this one hour, they would like you to go to their website and sign up. I'm not sure what is up with their counter, however. The other day I went on there and it was showing over 11,000 people, today it says 46. I think there must be some kind of a glitch.

Take a moment and let other people you know this important prayer event.

God Bless!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

St. Joseph the Worker

Today is the feast day of someone who is very dear to our family. Since we have been in business for ourselves, we have dedicated our work to St. Joseph the Worker. I have lost track of the number of times that St. Joseph has come to our rescue. If you have your own business, you know that cash flow is the monster by which your life is run. Many times that long awaited check that was "in the mail" came at just the right moment thanks, I believe, to the intercession of St. Joseph. In honor of his feast day, I would like to share my favorite prayer to St. Joseph; claimed to be over 1900 years old.

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving an Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen

Also on this feast day, I would like to go "public" with my new website, which is currently still very much in progress. It is my hope that it will be full of useful information and resources that will help both the new and veteran Catholic homeschooler. Since my time is very limited, I am not quite sure when more new pages will be created. I ask for your prayers that I may finish this website in a timely fashion. My dream is to have a website where you can order your homeschooling books and supplies, explore different methods of homeschooling, have a forum for selling and buying used homeschooling books and resources and find info on homeschooling groups and conferences. HMMM, if school weren't still "in session" maybe I could get this done :) As with all of our work, I dedicate my new website to St. Joseph the Worker and to The Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Joseph the Worker, pray for us!

God Bless!