Thursday, July 31, 2008

Raising Boys Part II

This evening my husband will be giving a short talk to the men's group he belongs to about raising our boys to become men of character and strength. Once again it seems as if this topic is all over the place. Just yesterday we spent a lovely day with some friends and I got into a discussion with one of the dads about this very thing. He said that one of the reasons he and his family moved out of suburbia and into the country was because he saw that a lot of the boys in the subdivision were becoming soft. Due to space constraints, there weren't a lot of projects and activities that the boys could get into to use up some of that young, male energy. I loved the example conversation he gave me:

Son: "Dad, I finished mowing the yard, should I go fold the laundry?"

Dad: "NOOO! Go dig a hole somewhere or go fall out of something, anything!"

As I said before in my other post about this topic, we have seen how easy it would be to turn our oldest son into a "girlie boy", just by virtue of the fact that he is around so many girls all day. We need to actively engage our sons in hard, manly work (I mean both physically and mentally hard) that allows them to gain the virtues of perseverance and fortitude.

While gathering his information for the talk tonight, my husband and I were discussing the Knights of Lepanto, a group started and run for a time by Thom Girard. You might remember that Thom and his son Marc both died about one month ago in a swimming accident. I was saying that I found it hard to understand why God would take two men that were doing so much good to further the formation of boys as they turned into confident, chivalrous young men. It was at that point that my husband made a wonderful observation. He asked me whether or not we would have known anything about this great work if Thom and Marc had not died? Maybe that is one reason why they had to die so young, so that their work and message could be spread far and wide to encourage other dads to do the same for their sons.

God Bless!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Upcoming Concert

I would like to take this opportunity to let those of you in this vicinity know about an upcoming concert this Saturday, August 2nd at 7:30 p.m. A friend of mine, Laura Bilot, will be performing a concert at Daniel's Den in Plano, IL. Along with her will be her family and other members of our homeschooling group who, up until now, have been successfully hiding their past lives as musicians (many of them in rock bands ;) Sharing the stage with Laura and the others will be Catholic singer and songwriter, Simonetta and her family.

All in all it seems as if it will be quite an enjoyable evening filled with some really good contemporary praise and worship music. If you are in the area, I would encourage you to come out and join in the fun. If you're not in the area, you'll unfortunately have to wait until they cut their first CD as a homeschool recording group!

God Bless!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's Blueberry Time!

Just a few fun photos of our trip to the local blueberry farm today. We went with friends of ours and, like always, it was nice and hot, but only mildly humid.
We picked, we ate, we had sweat running down us, but we had a great time.

The boys showing off their picking accomplishments!

The Girls hard at work!

Even the moms work hard!


Between the two families we picked almost 30 pounds of berries. Now the fun comes when we get to eat all of the good food and desserts we will make with them.


On our way out we found this tiny little nest hanging on the end of one of the blueberry bush branches. I can't imagine how it has stayed on there this long!

Hope you enjoyed this little "taste" of summer!
God Bless!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Enthusiastic Music

We were out of town this past weekend and had the opportunity to listen to a group of musicians that were quite talented. There were three singers, two electric guitars, a clarinet, a very enthusiastic pianist and a drummer. Their music sounded beautiful, and the acoustics did a great job of amplifying their sound, so much so that my one daughter said she had to cover here ears at times. At one point, their music brought tears to my eyes. I'm not 100% sure of the name of their group, but I think it might be something as simple as the 9:00 Choir.

Beautiful music, lovely sound, absolutely wrong venue.

Many years ago, music like that would have lifted my spirits and made me rejoice inside. As the years have past, I have definitely come to appreciate sacred music at Mass. To hear the Poor Clares sing during Mass at The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament is like being in Heaven! Talk about music that really lifts your soul.
My husband, on the other hand has always been a traditionalist when it comes to music at Mass. We all know his taste in church music, so its gotten to the point that every time we are at Mass and the choir sings a Kumbaya type song, we all can't help looking at him.

Anyhow, the tears I mentioned in the first paragraph came after communion, the time when Jesus is intimately united with us for those precious few minutes. The time when we are supposed to recollect ourselves in quiet prayer. A time when the music was so loud that I couldn't even hear myself think. Like I said before, if you put this group in a coffeehouse, it would have been enjoyable to listen to them and join in with them as they swayed back and forth to the music. During Mass, however, we found it incredibly distracting. It made me very upset the more I thought about it because they robbed me of my chance to quietly connect with God during that hour in church.

There was a bright side our experience and that was that we had the opportunity to very heartily thank God that we are not forced to be subjected to that every Sunday :)

God Bless!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Slow-Cooked Flank Steak

This recipe is one that our family has often enjoyed, as well as one that we just had this past week. Flank steak may be a bit hard to find, but if you can it is well worth it!

1 flank steak (about 1-1/2 pounds), cut in half
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
1/3 cup water
1 can (4 ounces) chopped greened chilies
2 tablespoons vinegar
1-1/4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a skillet, brow steak in oil; transfer to a slow cooker. In same skillet, saute onion for 1 minute. Gradually add water, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan. Add remaining ingredients; bring to boil. Pour over flank steak. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the meat is tender. Slice the meat; serve with onion and pan juices.
Yield: 4-6 servings

Letting Go and Letting the Kids Help

Jen had a great post the other day about accepting imperfect help. I got to thinking about that again in my own life. A while back I realized that I could not keep up with all of the children, all of the schooling and all of the household chores. I also realized that I couldn't afford a nanny, I wasn't going to send them to school and I couldn't afford a housekeeper. For the longest time I thought that it was just easier for me to do the work than it was to take all that time to teach my children how to do it. I finally reached a point where I figured the only way to maintain my sanity was to give in and teach my children how to help me with the upkeep of the house.

I tend, by my nature, to be a very organized and, yes, anal person. I like things done the way I do them, with the care and attention that I put into them. Naturally, with children, this is not going to be the case. It is very hard for me, and quite often I fail, to hold my tongue about the way in which a job is done.

I also find that my knee-jerk reaction to a little one who wants to help with something is NO. The other day my five year old wanted to wash the dishes. I had to stop and have a brief conversation with myself about the pros and cons of this request. Pro - she could try to wash them and feel good about helping and about her accomplishments and I could have some help with the dishes. Con - She could make a mess that I would have to clean up and I would probably have to wash them over anyway. Well, I gave in and let her wash the plastic stuff, and guess what, she did a fabulous job. I didn't have to clean up anything, nor did I have to rewash one plate. It was then that I stood back in amazement at how industrious she has become.

Over the years, I have also realized that there is a big difference between a child who is doing a job half-heartedly and a child who really does try and complete the job to the best of their ability. The challenge comes for me in stopping to figure out which one it is and then responding appropriately. I know that there are many times when I should have praised or kept my mouth shut, but because I was trying to do 10 other things at the same time, I took the easy way of criticism.

My advice: Mothers, let your children, no matter what age, help you with something! Go against that urge to just do it yourself and get it done faster. It really is a win-win situation. You get some help with the chores and they gain some valuable confidence and a good feeling that they are being helpful. I have seen the benefits in my own house as I have some very capable and industrious children (when they want to be, of course :)

God Bless!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

On Dressing Like a Lady

Lady Rose and a few of her fellow blogging friends have been posting about something they have entitled "A Week in Feminine Dress". Each day for one week they display photos of the feminine fashions that they are wearing. They do this once for each of the four seasons. It really is quite refreshing to see them looking so lady-like. It got me to thinking once again about fashions now-a-days.

The topic of feminine dress ranks up there, like religion and politics, as one of those topics that you had better not bring up unless you are ready to do battle. More specifically, it seems that if you discuss whether or not women should wear pants, you better be ready for some very interesting discussion. Modesty is one thing. Young women and ladies dressing like ladies (and not men) is another.

About five years ago, I became convicted that females should dress like females and men should dress like men. This meant that all the females in our house got rid of our shorts and pants and filled our wardrobe with pretty skirts and dresses. My children were still relatively young, and they were used to wearing dresses anyhow, so it was not that horrible of a transition. We soon discovered that you can do pretty much anything wearing a skirt that you can do wearing pants. We have gone horseback riding, bike riding, hiking, gardening and cleaning out the barn in our skirts. It might take a little more care (especially on windy days!), but it certainly is no hardship.

I am always amazed by the responses we get when we are out in public; all six of us girls in our skirts or dresses. Mostly it is positive, especially from the older generation. Sometimes we have been mistaken for Amish :) However, I have been accused of being judgmental of women wearing slacks - even though I look upon this as a very personal decision, one which I know is not for everyone to make. Once when one of my daughters did wear pants to a family function, I remember the reaction of one of the lady attendees - she was so excited to see her in jeans, she couldn't contain herself. From her comments, you would have thought that my daughter had just been released from a prison camp!

This idea of women dressing like men happens at all ages. There are times where I will see a young person and I honestly can't figure out whether they are a girl or a boy. Just yesterday, I was sitting behind a person with gray hair at Mass and I honestly could not tell from behind whether it was a man or woman because of the way they were dressed (it turned out to be a woman). I guess our position in our house is, if you are a girl, why not take advantage of the wide range of fashions and wear beautiful, flowing, modest feminine clothing. I really think that it makes a difference in how people (especially men) treat you. I also know that I feel more lady-like when I am dressed like a lady. Yes, it is getting harder and harder to find modest feminine clothing, but it is out there, you just have to look harder. Overall, I have to say that all the extra work has been well worth it. I hope that my daughters' future husbands will appreciate the care that they take to dress like ladies. I know that my husband does!

God Bless!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Rebellion of the Spirit

At our retreat last week, Father gave a very good spiritual talk on the root of all vices: Pride. Thought I would share a few of his thoughts with you.

Pride goes against the fundamental truth of what God is. It denies our reality as creatures. To be humble, we must believe that God is God and we are just creatures. Humility moves us to adoration of God so that we depend on God continuously where pride does just the opposite.

Some important things for us to remember so that we can stave off pride: We are not owners of ourselves, merely administrators. It might help to remember that we are the workers in the vineyard, not the vineyard owners.

Unfortunately, our society has all but abandoned God for the love of the self. If a country won't submit its authority to God, it will eventually end in tyranny. If the members of the country won't allow themselves to be led by a higher power like God, then what will make them submit to a higher authority like the government? Our society applauds autonomy and absolute freedom. We make the rebel our hero and make the person who obeys God out to be the immature one.

Pride is really the most serious of all defects. The prideful person is essentially an atheist because he denies the adoration due to God. He refuses to believe that God is everything and he is nothing and that everything he has is a gift from God.

So how do we combat this tempter? Well, the knowledge of Jesus will help us to break our pride. Jesus is the example of humility because even though He is all powerful, He was born obeying since He became flesh at the command of His Father. What God wants is for us to say, "Behold, I come to do Your will, not my own". One of those easy things to say, but how hard it can be to actually believe it and live it. Take heart, though, for Father said that the last big battle that all the saints have faced is their pride, so we are in good company. Have a humble day :)

God Bless!

Monday, July 21, 2008

General Confession

One of the high points of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is the general confession. Let me point out that this is not the same as general absolution. If you have never done a general confession before, I would highly recommend it. It doesn't have to be done on a retreat, but it should be done with a lot of prayer.

The Miles Christi priests take the first day of the silent retreat to prepare you for this confession. You do several meditations on the Passion and suffering of Christ so that you can attain true sorrow for all of the sins that you have committed throughout your life. During this process, you spend your free time praying that God will reveal to you the sins of your life that you need to confess. The best way to go about this is to start at the youngest age you can remember. Think about where you lived and the people who were in your life at the time. Ask God to reveal to you the sins you need to confess from that time period. Then, when you feel you have exhausted that time, move to another logical block of time. For example, your first time frame could be from your earliest memory through grade school, then you can focus on high school, then college age years, etc. Be prepared to encounter some pretty tough things at this point.

It takes awhile to go through this whole process, but you would be amazed at the things that pop back into your mind. Even sins you thought you had confessed might come up again, so it is okay to include those in this general confession. Make sure you have enough paper to write it all down, too! Once you have gone through your life up to the present day, schedule your confession and tell the priest that this will be a general confession so that he will be prepared.

The truly amazing part happens next. When you walk out of that confessional, you literally feel as if you dropped 10 lbs. The satisfaction you get in ripping up your paper into very tiny little pieces is incredible. The penance you have to perform is a beautiful experience. Again, if you have never done anything like this and you feel like you are carrying around a lot of baggage, find a good priest to guide you and try it out. You will be amazed at the graces that flow through this sacrament. Better yet, sign up for the next retreat!!

God Bless!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I've Been Tagged

Apparently I've been tagged by Lady Rose. I decided to oblige the crown Princess and tell you all a little bit more about myself.

I am:
A wife and mother

I think: not quite as often as I should

I know: that I am blessed

I have: seven children

I wish: that we were living in an era of peace

I hate: the humidity

I miss: The Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament

I fear: the loss of heaven and the pains of hell

I feel: blessed to have the family that I have

I hear: birds chirping and my daughter playing the recorder

I smell: the air after it has rained

I crave: something chocolate

I search: for a lot of things because I often forget where I put them

I wonder: too much about the future instead of staying in the present

I regret: some of the things I did when I was younger - no need to go into details, right?

I love: God, my husband and children, extended family and friends

I ache: in too many places for being only in my early 40s

I am not: a saint (my daughter filled that one in for me!!!)

I believe: In God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son Our Lord who conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell and rose on the third day. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right of God the Father Almighty, from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sin and the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. AMEN!

I dance: quite well, or at least I used to

I sing: when my children will let me

I cry: whenever I hear of a mother losing a child or young children losing their mother

I don't always: remember things

I fight: my selfishness

I write: quite well, I think

I win:
when I play against my children

I lose: when I play against my husband

I never: say never anymore. It has gotten me into trouble in the past

I always: try to be joyful, unfortunately it doesn't always work!

I confuse: the names of my children on occasion

I listen: to country music

I can usually be found: trying to do too many things at one time

I am scared: of a lot of things, the older I get

I need: to have some quiet time every day

I am happy about: how well my retreat went last week

I imagine: what it would be like if we could all get along

I am wearing: a khaki colored skirt and a white sweater

I look forward to: tomorrow because it means I have been given another day to try to get it right.

God Bless!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Return of the Retreatants

Well, we have returned from our wonderful silent retreat. I wouldn't be surprised if you can barely see this due to the glow of my halo :) Don't worry, the glow will begin to dim rapidly, I am afraid. I mean after all it is very easy to be holy when you are surrounded by Jesus, holy priests and silent women! As my one friend remarked afterwards the good thing about the silence is that you can't say anything stupid :D Now back amongst the "real world", the desire to become holy remains, the struggle just increases exponentially.

My roommate ended up to be a very nice lady. I did not find that out however until after the retreat was over. That first night, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, all I could do was HOPE that she was a very nice lady. It was kind of strange realizing you are sharing a room with someone about whom you know absolutely nothing.

In comparing this year's retreat to last year's, I would like to put forth this image. Imagine that I am on a horse riding towards a beautiful town. As I approach the town, all seems quiet and serene. I continue on my ride when all of a sudden I am knocked from my horse and fall to the ground. Unfortunately, my boot is still stuck in the stirrup and the horse takes off, dragging me down the road. Occasionally the horse stops and I try feverishly to remove my boot from the stirrup but am unable to do so. All at once, the horse stops and I am gently helped to my feet, dusted off and my wounds are tended to. After awhile, I am ever so gently put back on my horse and am able to ride on to the next town. That was last year's retreat.

This year, I road toward that same town with a little bit of trepidation since I remembered what last year's ride was like. All still looked quiet and serene, so I continued on down the main road. Once in the town I was again knocked off my horse, but lo-and-behold, my boot was not stuck in the stirrup. I was able to get on my horse and continue on my ride, only to be knocked off again. This happened a few more times but as I approached the far side of town, I was gently helped up, brushed off and placed back atop my horse for good, bolstered by the graces I needed to ride on to the next town.

Maybe the analogy doesn't make you want to run and sign up for a silent retreat, but trust me, the feeling you have as you ride out of town is worth the pain of getting knocked off your horse. So, if you are interested in attending a Miles Christi Silent Retreat, Father just announced that they have added another women's retreat in Illinios the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving Weekend. Give thanks with your family and then go give thanks to the Lord. It would be well worth it!

God Bless!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Retreat Bound

I am amazed that I have gotten this post up. It has been quite an interesting morning so far and it isn't even 10:00 a.m. Many challenges to be expected - I and four others are leaving for our annual St. Ignatius Silent Retreat. I am anxious to see how this year will be now that I know what to expect. I'm sure that God will have some way of surprising me!!

This year will also be a different experience because they have changed the retreat center and so we will have to share a room. Now, if you ask me, putting two women together in the same room and asking them NOT to talk for three whole days is asking quite a lot. They did this at the last men's retreat and of course the men had no problem not talking to each other in their rooms. But, let's face it, THEY'RE MEN! They don't have to talk! Should be interesting.

So please, if you stop by here in the next few days, offer up a silent prayer for all of the women who will be attending this retreat. I'll be back Friday to let you know how it went.

P.S. The almond chocolate torte from Saturday was EXCELLENT!!

St. Ignatius, Pray for us.

God Bless!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Almond Flourless Chocolate Torte

I found this recipe on the internet because we are going to a cast and crew party today and we were asked to bring dishes from different ethnic groups. Since one of my daughters danced in a Jewish dance, I found this Jewish Almond Flourless Chocolate Torte. Haven't tried it yet, but it is sitting in my fridge right now and it looks delicious. God willing, the rain will hold off and we will get to dig into it later today. If it turns out to be awful, I'll let you know :)

Almond Flourless Chocolate Torte
Serves 10

1/2 c strong brewed coffee
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 sticks of butter, softened
1/2 tsp almond extract
4 eggs
1 c sugar, divided
2 tbls sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat coffee, 1/4 c sugar, butter and chocolate chips until smooth. Don't burn! Remove from heat and let cool.

Whip eggs and 3/4 c sugar with wire whisk in mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Fold egg mixture and chocolate mixture together. Add almond extract and sliced almonds and mix. Place in a greased, 9-inch cake pan.

Bake in a water bath for 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes (after 1 hour, check every 10 minutes; mixture should be moist but not runny).

Remove from oven and let cool in refrigerator overnight. Place bottom of pan in hot water to remove.

Have a Peaceful and Restful Sunday. God Bless!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Clouds

While on my friend Roger's blog, Bug Tries Again, I noticed something last week that he had on there called Sky Watch Friday. I haven't had time to check out the details, but last night (which technically would be Thursday) we had these really dark and ominous looking clouds come through, so I took some pictures of them to share with you on Friday (don't know if that counts!). Fortunately, the storm that came with them was not as bad as we thought it would be - lots of rain, but mild wind compared to some of the storms we have had.

My mom told me today that on the weather channel they were calling this a shoulder cloud. It was really neat to watch it as it literally rolled across the sky.



As you can see by our brown "lawn", we really can use whatever rain God is willing to send.

I love watching skies like these, as long as I am well protected from whatever lurks inside of them!

God Bless!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Qualities of a Homeschooling Mother

We had our monthly almost-two-hour drive to the orthodontist today so I thought I would bring along some CDs of the talks from our ILCHC homeschool conference this past May. I listened to Maureen Whittmann talk about beginning homeschool and Ginny Seufert talk about homeschooling high school. It was a good mix - hearing things about the beginning and the end of the homeschooling journey.

After listening it got me thinking about what it takes to be a homeschooling mother - someone who can stick with it for the entire 12 year process and live to tell about it. (Let's see, two years to go for the oldest and 15 more years until the youngest is done. Wow!) Here is a list of qualities that I think a successful homeschooling mother should have. This list is by no means exhaustive, and I don't mean to imply that if you don't have these traits that you aren't a good homeschooling mom. Just some thoughts based on my experience and that of others older than I that I have learned from along the way.

~ A good prayer life - this is so important. It may not seem like it in the beginning, but as your kids advance, you will need to pray morning, noon and night. Daily mass when possible, frequent reception of the sacraments (especially confession!), a set prayer routine. All of these will become crucial to your success.

~ A heart open to the Holy Spirit - I learned early on that God is the best director of our homeschool. The more I let Him have his say in how he wants me to school my children, the better it goes.

~ Allowing yourself to be humbled - Don't hang on to that pride! I find that just when I am in a situation where I think my kids will shine and show others that they are being raised better because they are homeschooled, they inevitably prove me wrong and put me back in my proper place!

~ The support of your husband - I can't imagine how it would be possible to homeschool without the support of your husband; or at least his consent. You may not have anyone else's support, but you really need to have his if you are going to make it through the long haul and live to tell about it.

~ Knowing the reasons why you are homeschooling - If you don't have these reasons firmly implanted in your brain, when the going gets tough, you're likely to give in and stick them back in a traditional school. You must remain firm in your convictions so that you can stick it out during the rough times (like every February when we're all ready to pull each others' hair out!!)

~ A strong personality - You will face obstacles from people who just don't understand your desire to homeschool. If you have a strong personality and can be a bit stubborn, you will ride the waves of criticism much better. Of course, when you get a group of homeschooling mothers together who ALL have strong personalities, well, let's just say it can sometimes be hard to come to an agreement about things!

~ The ability to be flexible - This is both on a daily level and in the broader scope. Have a plan for your day, but be flexible - you never know what the good Lord is going to send you and you should be willing and able to accept it graciously. Also, be flexible about your long range goals. Take one year at a time and realize that no two years of homeschooling are going to be the same. Some will be okay, some will be bad and, if you're lucky, you may even get a few that are great!

~ At least a minimal ability to be organized - While I am sure you can still homeschool without any sense of organization, you're life will be much easier if you develop some sense of organization. Organize your day, your chores, your meals etc. Even if everything goes haywire, you'll at least have a schedule to fall back on.

So there you have it, my random thoughts on what I think it takes to survive homeschooling. I am sure that I have forgotten a few. If there are any of you opinionated homeschooling mothers :) who would like to add to this list, feel free!

God Bless!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Home-schoolers threaten our cultural comfort

This article was too good to pass up. Someone emailed it to me and it is supposedly an article that was first published in the Northeast Mississippi Journal. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


You see them at the grocery, or in a discount store.

It's a big family by today's standards - "just like stair steps," as the old
folks say. Freshly scrubbed boys with neatly trimmed hair and girls with
braids, in clean but unfashionable clothes follow mom through the store as
she fills her no-frills shopping list.

There's no begging for gimcracks, no fretting, and no threats from mom. The
older watch the younger, freeing mom to go peacefully about her task.

You are looking at some of the estimated 2 million children being home
schooled in the U.S., and the number is growing. Their reputation for
academic achievement has caused colleges to begin aggressively recruiting
them. Savings to the taxpayers in instructional costs are conservatively
estimated at $4 billion, and some place the figure as high as $9 billion.
When you consider that these families pay taxes to support public schools,
but demand nothing from them, it seems quite a deal for the public.

Home schooling parents are usually better educated than the norm, and are
more likely to attend worship services. Their motives are many and varied.
Some fear contagion from the anti-clericalism, coarse speech, suggestive
behavior and hedonistic values that characterize secular schools. Others are
concerned for their children's safety. Some want their children to be
challenged beyond the minimal competencies of the public schools. Concern
for a theistic world view largely permeates the movement.

Indications are that home schooling is working well for the kids, and the
parents are pleased with their choice, but the practice is coming under
increasing suspicion, and even official attack, as in California.

Why do we hate (or at least distrust) these people so much?

Methinks American middle-class people are uncomfortable around the home
schooled for the same reason the alcoholic is uneasy around the teetotaler.

Their very existence represents a rejection of our values, and an indictment
of our lifestyles. Those families are willing to render unto Caesar the
things that Caesar's be, but they draw the line at their children. Those of
us who have put our trust in the secular state (and effectively surrendered
our children to it) recognize this act of defiance as a rejection of our
values, and we reject them in return.

Just as the jealous Chaldeans schemed to bring the wrath of the king upon
the Hebrew eunuchs, we are happy to sic the state's bureaucrats on these
"trouble makers." Their implicit rejection of America's most venerated idol,
Materialism, (a.k.a. "Individualism") spurs us to heat the furnace and feed
the lions.

Young families must make the decision: Will junior go to day care and day
school, or will mom stay home and raise him? The rationalizations begin. "A
family just can't make it on one income." (Our parents did.) "It just costs
so much to raise a child nowadays." (Yeah, if you buy brand-name clothing,
pre-prepared food, join every club and activity, and spend half the cost of
a house on the daughter's wedding, it does.) And so, the decision is made.
We give up the bulk of our waking hours with our children, as well as the
formation of their minds, philosophies, and attitudes, to strangers. We
compensate by getting a boat to take them to the river, a van to carry them
to Little League, a 2,800-square-foot house, an ATV, a zero-turn Cub Cadet,
and a fund to finance a brand-name college education. And most
significantly, we claim "our right" to pursue a career for our own
"self-fulfillment."

Deep down, however, we know that our generation has eaten its seed corn. We
lack the discipline and the vision to deny ourselves in the hope of
something enduring and worthy for our posterity. We are tired from working
extra jobs, and the looming depression threatens our 401k's. Credit cards
are nearly maxed, and it costs a $100 to fuel the Suburban. Now the kid is
raising hell again, demanding the latest Play Station as his price for doing
his school work ... and there goes that modest young woman in the home-made
dress with her four bright-eyed, well-behaved home-schooled children in tow.
Wouldn't you just love to wipe that serene look right off her smug face?

Is it any wonder we hate her so?

Sonny Scott a community columnist, lives on Sparta Road in Chickasaw County
and his e-mail address is sonnyscott@yahoo.com.

God Bless!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Raising Boys

This past week I found out about a tragic event that happened out east. A young man named Marc died after trying to save his father, Thom, who also died, while the family was out swimming. I will refrain from repeating any details for fear of inaccuracies, but from what I understand, Marc was a true hero, a young man who didn't just stand by and panic in the face of a crisis, but took action. If I have the facts correct, he first got his younger sister to safety and then tried very heroically to save his father. From all that I have read about Marc, it seems that he exemplified all that a young Christian man should be. If you would like to read more about him and his father, check out Regina Doman's blog or the the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Marc's family has had a year of crisis, so any prayer or financial assistance anyone can give would be appreciated. You can donate through Regina's blog.

So while I spent a lot of time thinking about this family this past weekend, I also realized that lately I have been bombarded with the message about raising our sons to be Godly men who will rise up to the challenges set before them. You see, my husband and I really need to think a lot about this since our oldest son has four older sisters. He spends a lot of time with girls being bossed around and picked on. We find that as he is getting older (he's almost eight now), it is becoming ever more important for him to spend time with other people of the male gender - whether it be his father, his grandfathers or his friends. We realize how important it will be for him in the future to get out now from under his mother's apron strings.

I love to think about my sons entering into many challenges that are being lost on a lot of boys today. Things like hunting and fishing and trying to survive out in the wilderness. Combine that with a firm foundation in their faith and a love for God and you have the makings of boys that will turn into confident men, ready to fight to defend their faith and family. I truly believe that our children will be faced with challenges that we never dreamed of. It is so important now to raise up our boys to be God-fearing, strong, confident young men. Young men who wouldn't think twice about risking their lives for their fellow man.

God Bless!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Third of July Mixed Bag

Today's post is a combination of things as we head into the 4th of July weekend. First, a friend of mine emailed me some info for anyone in the Chicagoland area who might be discerning a vocation and would be interested in attending a one day camp hosted by the Archdiocese of Chicago. The camp will be held at the beautiful Mundelein Seminary in Libertyville and will be July 28th for Middle and High School girls and Middle School boys and July 29th for High School boys. Check out their website for more information.

Earlier this week another friend of ours brought to our attention a beautiful pamphlet put out by Caritas entitled the Patriotic Rosary for the Consecration of Our Nation. It is a lovely way to pray for our country as we approach the celebration of our independence. If you do not have a copy, a simplified way to pray the patriotic rosary is to pray each Hail Mary for a different state (if you're like me, you'll have to write out all the states on a piece of paper so you don't forget one - better yet, write them out in alphabetical order!) and for each Glory Be pray for the conversion of our country. You can make up your own intentions for each of the Our Fathers. The kids have really enjoyed this change of pace for our evening rosary this week.

I also thought I would share with you my traditional 4th of July dessert. We refer to this recipe as the Statue of Liberty dessert. My sister-in-law gave me this easy recipe and told me that one day when she brought it to work it was raining and she had to run through the parking lot holding on to this dessert, which she had in a nice glass pedestal bowl. Her co-workers thought she looked like the Statue of Liberty running with her torch, thus the name!! Hope you enjoy it.

1 box brownie mix or favorite brownie recipe prepared according to directions
sliced bananas
sliced strawberries
cool whip - 16oz.
chocolate sauce (if desired)

Cut the cooled brownies into 1" squares. In a large bowl (see-through is nice), place a layer of brownies, a layer of bananas, a layer of strawberries and a layer of cool whip. You could mix the chocolate sauce in with the cool whip, drizzle some over the cool whip or leave it off altogether.
Repeat all of the layers one more time. Let it sit in the refrigerator for about six hours so the brownies start to soften. Enjoy.

Have a Blessed Fourth of July! God Bless America!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Meditation of the Day

Last year when we had the reading at mass about the herd of swine that Jesus sent the demons into, the priest who was giving the homily said that Jesus must have thought that the souls of those two people possessed by the demons were worth destroying the economy of an entire territory. Jesus knew that the people who lived there depended on that herd of swine for their livelihood, yet he did not hesitate to destroy it for the sake of those two people.

Today again we have that reading. There was a meditation in the "Magnificat" today that is by Richard Wilbur, a former poet laureate of the United States. His entry gives you an interesting perspective of what the people whose livelihood Jesus destroyed thought.

"Rabbi, we Gadarenes are not ascetics;
We are fond of wealth and possessions.
Love, as you call it, we obviate by means
Of the planned release of aggressions.

We have deep faith in prosperity.
Soon, it is hoped, we will reach our full potential.
In the light of our gross product, the practice of charity
Is palpably inessential.

It is true that we go insane;
That for no good reason we are possessed by devils;
That we suffer, despite the amenities which obtain
At all but the lowest levels.

We shall not, however, resign
Our trust in the high-heaped table and the full trough.
If you cannot cure us without destroying our swine,
We had rather you shoved off."

I got to thinking about whether or not this is the position that the powers that be in America have taken. I have a feeling that in order to save us now, our swine will need to be destroyed. Dear Jesus, have mercy on us.

God Bless!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Week of Girls' Camp

This past weekend we dropped off my four oldest girls at the summer camp they have been attending for the past four years. Even though the youngest of the four has already returned home due to a severe case of homesickness, we naturally still find ourselves with less children in the house than normal. It might be just me, but whenever I go out of the house without all of my children, I feel like I should wear a sign that says, "Wait, these aren't all the children I have! I really have seven!" I especially notice it when I go out with just one or two of the youngest ones. I always feel as if people are looking at me trying to figure out how old I am. Well, during this week every year I feel very self conscious because not all of my brood is around me.

I've noticed other things about this week of separation that seem to come up every year. First off, people think that I am going to have a bit of a vacation because I am down three children. What it really means is that I instantaneously lost 6 of my arms and 3 additional pairs of eyes. They don't stop to think that I am now responsible for ALL of the dishes at every meal, ALL of the laundry and ALL of the childcare. I know, woe is me...I should be responsible for all of this since I am the mother. However, once you have older children, you begin to depend a lot on them to help you to do all of the above mentioned tasks. So much for a vacation.

I have found that there is usually a bit more peace in our house during this week. I believe this happens for two reasons: 1. The mix of kids is different, so the ones that are still here find they have a bit more freedom to do what they want because 2. The older ones aren't here to boss them around so much! While I have lost a lot of my extra help, I find that I have a chance to mother my younger children without their "other mothers" getting to them first.

Overall, I would have to say that this week is something that everyone looks forward to every year. The bigger girls love to get away and have fun for a week, the younger ones love to be without their bossy older sisters for a week, and I enjoy interacting with the younger ones more and doing the laundry for the week!

God Bless!