Sunday, August 31, 2008

"Fireproof"

I don't normally post on Sundays, but we'll be busy tomorrow, so consider this tomorrow's post a day early!

The other morning after mass, a lady approached me and a friend of mine and asked us if we had heard of the movie called "Fireproof". We had to admit that we hadn't so she told us that it is a movie coming out on September 26th that deals with the issue of the marriage. I did some searching and found the trailer to the movie. It looks like it is going to be a good one! The theme seems to be that instead of taking the "easy" way out by getting divorced, the husband is challenged to grow in his faith and save his marriage. Sounds like a great excuse to go on a date with your husband! Write it on the calendar now so you can find it at a theater near you and plan your date. When "Bella" came out, we got together with some friends and went on a group date to see the movie and get some coffee afterwords. It was a very nice time. Hopefully it will be coming somewhere close to wherever you are. As always, the more people that show up the first weekend a movie opens, the more widely it gets distributed and the longer it stays around.



God Bless!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blueberry-Ricotta Squares

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups blueberries
---
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

In a small mixer bowl, combine the flour, the 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the milk, shortening, 1 egg, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till combined. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle blueberries over batter.

In medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the 2 egss with a fork. Add ricotta cheese, the 1/3 cup sugar, and the 1/4 teaspoon vanilla; beat till combined. Spoon ricotta mixture over blueberries and spread evenly. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or till a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool. Cut into 16 squares. Store bars covered in the refrigerator. Makes 16 servings.

Friday, August 29, 2008

More on Charity

We discussed the whole "Day on Guard" idea last night at dinner and my one daughter commented that if everyone knew that it was your day to be charitable, might it be tempting to take advantage of that person?? Of course, she is right. It might be very tempting to continually point out that the person of the day is not behaving in a charitably appropriate manner! It might also be tempting to continually ask them to do things for you "out of charity". To combat this, we decided that we would all pick a day of the week out of a hat and keep it a secret.

In today's "In Conversation with God" meditation, Francis Fernandez talks again about charity. He points out that the fuel behind charity is prayer that is attentive and full of love; an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. "The desire to love Christ always more and more, the readiness to fight against our defects and weaknesses, beginning again and again, is what keeps the flame alight. This is the oil that doesn't allow the light of charity to go out."

In light of that, I think that in addition to setting aside one day in which to focus on charity, our children will need to spend some time developing their prayer life. As children, they need to see the importance of prayer and begin to develop a prayer life that suits their age. They need to see that prayer is important to their parents and maybe then they will begin to imitate that. After all, I see my children imitating some of my "less than desirable" traits, I would like to think that maybe they will pick up on some of my good ones!

We'll have to work on structuring their "day on guard" to include the development of a prayer routine as well as focusing on ways of being charitable to those around them. Over time, then, hopefully the increased focus on prayer and charity will grow together and our children will grow into young adults who have their own intimate relationship with Jesus, and a strong sense of love of neighbor.

God Bless!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Day on Guard

I just came across a great idea in my "In Conversation with God" book. It is called "the day on guard". The idea here is that you pick one day a week where you devote yourself to "be more vibrant in charity, with many simple services to all, with small mortifications that make life more pleasant for others; a day in which to ask ourselves whether we help those who need it with fraternal correction; a day in which to have more frequent recourse to Mary...saying the Rosary or perhaps the Memorare, praying to her for the person we know needs some special help at that moment."

I've been trying to think of ways that we can work on increasing charity in our home. It just galls me when I hear my kids yelling and snapping at each other over the silliest of things (gee, I wonder where they get it from??). I've been trying to point out more frequently an alternative way of asking for something or of asking someone to do or not do something (i.e. asking them to stop hitting you instead of slugging them back), but that doesn't seem to be making much of a difference. I've also thought that it is kind of tough to always remember to be charitable , so I've been looking for a way that would be easy to follow but would actually work. I think I have found it!

Hopefully by taking one whole day a week and focusing on others instead of ourselves, we can increase the virtue of charity in our home. It might be easier than trying to remember to be more charitable every day, but at the same time, a day is long enough to have many opportunities to focus on others. The neat thing is that we have five children who would be capable of understanding this plus myself and my husband, so that makes seven - one person for each day of the week!

The only thing I'm worried about is picking my day and then having that be the toughest day of the week. We've been through this before where we offered up one day a week for an organization we belonged to and it always ended up being the toughest day of the week. I'm sure this will be no exception. I mean, after all, if being charitable was easy, we would already be doing it! I'll let you know later if it seems to be working!

God Bless!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

To Sleep or not to Sleep

It's only the third official day of school and I am already exhausted. Keeping up with a schedule, keeping up with what everyone is doing and keeping everyone on track is exhausting work! As I sat down to do my mid-day prayers at 4:00 today, I opened up my "In Conversation with God" book and today's meditation was entitled "Loving Our Daily Work"! God has such a sense of humor, doesn't He? Unfortunately at that moment I wasn't loving my daily work. I was wishing it would go away so I could go to sleep!

Sleep. It seems to be a topic I am hearing a lot about lately. More specifically, I keep getting involved in conversations about the end of sleep - that dreaded time in the morning when we have to wake up. It seems that quite a few moms that I have bumped into lately or read about in their blogs are having a hard time getting up early enough to get their day started at a reasonable time. It seems God created a lot of us moms to be night owls. I, myself, am one of them. Unfortunately I have given my night life up so that I can rise early and get my prayers in and myself ready before my kids get up.

For the record, I hate it! I would much rather stay up late and rise a little later. Unfortunately my day just does not go that well when I do that. The day goes along much better if I am up and dressed before my kids get up. Getting up early also means I have a better chance of getting to daily Mass!

I got to thinking that maybe the reason we moms feel the need to stay up later to get stuff done is because we are getting up too late and getting a late start to the day, which puts us behind and therefore causes things to not get done which should have gotten done, which means we have to stay up later to finish them! Hmmmm. I would test this theory out, but I am too tired, which means I would never stay awake long enough to see if I could get anything done:) What a vicious cycle! It would be much easier if we were just able to function and be pleasant on about five hours of sleep, don't you think????

God Bless!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vacation Day vs School Day

Last week I was reading Jamie's blog and she was discussing how we should make the first day of school a fun and different day from the usual routine. Since we planned a four-day weekend to Michigan this past weekend - and I was feeling a bit guilty for not having started school yet - I decided that we could very easily turn yesterday into our first official day of school and make it different and fun.

While in Michigan, we were fortunate to be on a lake and had the use of a boat. So, for our first day of school, we rode around the lake and studied the various architectural styles of the houses. We talked about the differences between a vacation home built in the 50s and 60s and a vacation home built since the 90s!

We discussed architectural designs such as the cantilever and how it actually works.

We looked at the topography of the lake and talked about how it is that grass can grow in the middle of a lake.

We studied physics as we looked at the reason why a pontoon boat cannot easily flip over.

We had gym class as we swam and some of the kids learned how to steer a kayak.

Not bad for a first day of school. See what a bit of thinking outside of the box can do to liven up learning! (Although some might accuse me of trying to justify a vacation day as a school day :)

When we got home from Michigan last night, we saw that our "real" school books had arrived, and so, never fear, we cracked them open today and began to expand our horizons while we study the saints, the Declaration of Independence, learn French and yes, struggle through another year of math!

I love homeschooling and the variety of ways that we can utilize to teach topics that, if learned about through reading a book, could be very boring! May God bless and multiply our efforts as we delve into another year.

God Bless!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Beef Stroganoff Casserole

I have to say that so far I have not found this to be a big hit with most of my kids (or really any kids for that matter) but my husband and I love it. Sometimes it is okay to serve a meal that the kids don't like, isn't it?

Beef Stroganoff Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp oil
8 oz. sliced mushroom
1 lg. onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c dry white wine
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/2 c sour cream
1 tbls dijon mustard
4 c cooked egg noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray

Place beef in large skillet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown beef over medium-high heat. Drain fat from skillet; set aside beef.

Heat oil in same skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in soup, sour cream and mustard until well combined. Return beef to skillet.

Place noodles in prepared dish. Pour beef mixture over noodles; stir until noodles are well coated.

Bake uncovered, 30 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 6 servings


God Bless!

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Bit of Humor for the end of the week

As we end one week and begin (for many of us) the new school year in the next coming week, I thought a good laugh might help ease us into it. This video is a good reminder of brotherly love. Enjoy!




God Bless!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Most Holy Rosary

Last Saturday I got involved in a conversations with some other moms about praying the rosary. A mom with four young children asked us if we ever prayed the rosary in the car. After I extolled the benefits of praying the rosary in the car while your young children are held captive in their car seats and can't really cause too much commotion, she told us that she had a priest tell her once that it is wrong to pray the rosary in the car and that she should never do it. That threw us all for a loop. I wish I knew why he said that.

One of the other moms went on to tell us that when they would go down to help the Missionary of Charity Sisters in their soup kitchen, they would pray the rosary while they were chopping vegetables and preparing the meals. The prayers would be interrupted once in a while for directions to be given and then the prayers would resume. Since no one was holding a rosary, she said that before each Hail Mary they would say "The 1st Choir of Angels" and do that up till the 10th so that they could keep track of where they were.

She also told us a story of a holy priest, right now at the beginning stages of the canonization process, who was reprimanded once by a few older women for praying his rosary too fast. He then turned to them and instructed them never again to tell him he was praying too fast. I think many of us have participated in rosaries that sounded more like an auction than a prayer, but what if the person who prays at lightning speed is far more recollected than those of us who pray slowly and instead think about our groceries?

I think the most important thing about praying the rosary is that we do it, especially with our family. If we continue to try to pray it every day even though our children are more interested in learning how to stand on their head while balancing the basket of tangled rosaries on their feet instead of reciting their prayers. If we continue to pray it every day even though the youngest screams through the whole thing and we have to shout to be hear. If we pray that all of our efforts, as inadequate as they are, will somehow gain us some graces - if not because of our recollected states at least because of our perseverance.

On this, the feast of Our Lady of Knock, let us honor our Blessed Mother by praying the family rosary.

God Bless!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Power of the Mind

As you know, the mind is a very powerful thing. It can be used for good and it can be used for evil. The mind - its imaginations and wanderings - must be taught to come under the control of the will if we are to save ourselves from time spent in useless worry over things that might not ever happen, or in daydreaming about things that will probably never be. The wandering of our mind can cause our vision to become distorted, both in good ways and in bad ways.

Sometimes our mind causes us annoying distractions. You know how it is when you are praying the rosary and you're supposed to be meditating on the mystery at hand but instead you are planning tomorrow's school day and thinking about the places you need to go.

Or how about when you get a song stuck in your head and you find that you cannot get it out, no matter how hard you try. Sunday we watched "The Phantom of the Opera" for the first time. If you've seen it, you know that the music is strangely captivating. Now turn to Monday night as I approach my hour of adoration and all that keeps running through my head is:

"The Phantom of the Opera is here, inside my mind"

Not really what I wanted to be thinking about as I sat in front of the Lord. Fortunately I was able to spend a few moments and change the words a bit so that at least they were more fitting for the setting:

"My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is in my soul"

Unfortunately, I have not always been able to do this. On my retreat this past July, I came across an excellent chapter in "My Imitation of Christ" by Thomas a Kempis. It is in Book III, Chapter 37 where the Lord says to Thomas:

"Give all for all; seek nothing; call for nothing back;
abide purely and with a full confidence in Me,
and thou shalt possess Me."


How beautiful, and just what I needed to hear - I read it every morning. As hard as I have tried, however, when I read this part, this is what I "hear" and see in my mind:


"Take what you can; give nothing back!"

AAAHHHH! It ruins it every time!

God Bless!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Our Snapping Turtle Visitor

We had an unexpected visitor crawl out of the corn field yesterday and join us on our driveway!
He looks a little worse for wear after his 500 ft. crawl from the farm field creek through the corn field to our house. As you can see, he is missing one eye and some of his claws !
We're not sure why he came to visit us. Maybe it was just to say hi, as you can see he was trying to do here :)
And here....
After his long journey, we thought that maybe he would like a refreshing shower. Here he is enjoying a brief respite from the warm day.
I took this picture when I jumped because he took a lunge at the stick my husband was waving in front of him. I was a good 12 feet away from him, but in my telephoto lense, I forgot about that distance since it looked like he was going to get me. Imagine the scream that went with this photo!
Here he is leaving our home after his visit. I guess we just were not all that interesting after-all. Frankly, I'm glad we saw him go back into the corn. I would hate to be wondering where he was everytime we went outside without our shoes on!

I love when God sends these fun little surprises into our day.

God Bless!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Lesson in Creative "Writing"

My husband is a master at taking a picture book that he has read multiple times in a row and changing the words to make it very interesting and highly entertaining. There will be times when he is reading to the kids and I am in the room that I will ask him if that is what the book really said because he has a way of making it all sound so natural. Occasionally when I am in the right mood, I find that I can come in a close second. Last night the kids wanted me to read a few picture books and so I started by changing the words in the first book. Much to my surprise, one of the things I changed actually turned out to be what actually happened! The surprised look on all of our faces just added to the fun.

The next book they had was a picture book with no words. That was great fun as it gave me a free license to make up anything about the characters that I wanted to and they couldn't yell at me that that was not how the book went.

Finally we read an easy reader book about George Washington. By now everyone was in the mood and we were having great fun adding details to the story to make it quite interesting. It was about this time that I got to thinking that this is a great way to have a beginning creative writing lesson. For young writers it may be too much for them to come up with and write their own story from scratch, but with a little practice, they can take an already written story and add new and interesting details to change the story around.

As I was getting ready to type up this post, my eight year old son sat down on the couch and started "rereading" the George Washington book that we had read last night - changing, almost exactly, all the details that we had changed last night. I guess the "lesson" made quite an impression on him. On other occasions, when they have read to their younger siblings, they have tried to do this on their own. I think it's a great way to teach creative writing without requiring the mechanics of actual writing. If you've never tried this with your younger children, pick out any picture book and give it a try. With some creative effort on your part, your kids will be off and running and having fun making up their own versions of stories.

God Bless!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Helpful Resources

I've been using all of my available brain power this week to get ready for the test run of a workshop I am putting together on how to organize your day. After tomorrow I will revise whatever needs to be revised and then put together a formal announcement about this workshop in the hopes of brining it to groups of women who find themselves running from crisis to crisis with no plan for how they would like their day to go.

Anyhow, I was putting together my list of resources that I have found helpful over the years and thought I that I would put them up here in case they can be helpful to anyone else. And if you wouldn't mind throwing up a prayer that this workshop goes well tomorrow, I and the seven women who have agreed to be my "guinea pigs", would sure appreciate it.

"In Conversation with God. Meditations for each day of the year" by Francis Fernandes - a 7 volume set.

"
Abandonment to Divine Providence" by Jean Pierre de Caussade

"Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence" by St. Claude de la Columbiere and Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure.

"A Mother's Rule of Life" by Holly Pierlot. Published by Sophia Institute Press

"How to Change Your Husband" by A Friend of Medjugorje available through Caritas of Birmingham

"Created to be His Help Meet" by Debi Pearl available through No Greater Joy Ministries - This is a Protestant publication, however I found it to be a life changing book.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius - A silent retreat presented by the priests of Miles Christi. Check out the retreat schedule here.

God Bless!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Unit Study Ideas

Since school is just around the corner (or is already here for some of you) I thought I would throw out a couple of unit study ideas that I have come across recently.

With the elections coming up this fall, we are spending the next couple of months learning about the founding of our country. We will be exploring the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution and reading about some of the founding fathers of our country. Then we will spend some time looking into our government: the different branches and how they run (or at least how they are supposed to:) I found what looks to be a great unit study about elections by Amanda Bennett. Hopefully we will be able to watch some of the debates on TV and then follow the election results that night. That is about as planned out as I have it right now. We will be utilizing the library extensively as well as following Laura Berquist's recommendations for American Government for the high schoolers.

Other friends of ours who have some Mexican heritage are spending the next month or so doing a unit study on Mexico. I believe there are three families that have started this. The neat thing about their unit study is that they will be hosting a Cultural Heritage Day in September for any interested families so that we can all join in the fun. This sounds like a great idea if you have a group to do this with.

Another family is taking this idea of learning about other countries and turning it into a co-op where families will sign up for one of the six months available and will organize activities, songs, games and learning opportunities for the other families in the co-op about a country of their choice. What a great way to have fun and throw in some history, geography, religion, music, etc.

Just wanted to share some of these fun ideas with all of you. If you are looking for some way to spice up your year, unit studies are a great way to do that. It is even more enjoyable if you can do it in a group setting or share your ideas and learning with others.

God Bless!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Honeymoon is Over

It finally happened. That wonderful honeymoon period - you know, the time when nothing seems to effect the joy and peace that radiates in your soul - after my silent retreat is over :( Thus it is time to enter into that time of spiritual dryness, where everything good is a struggle. Hopefully I learned enough during the retreat to make it more bearable, but that remains to be seen. So it was with great joy that I came across this wonderful meditation by Venerable Concepcion Cabrera De Armida, also known more simply as Conchita. Conchita was a wife, mother and writer who lived in Mexico. She had this to say about spiritual dryness:

"Do not be surprised at your spirit's state; it is only natural that after a period of fervor you experience some disturbances, but do not pay attention to them. Obey, close your eyes, and hold the cross tightly; the one who obeys will obtain victory. Spiritual life is made up of desolations and consolations, and Saint Ignatius says that the right thing to do during desolation is to make no changes, and in a time of consolation not to cling too steadfastly to it, but to strengthen yourself for the next period of desolation.

Do not fear; these are clouds that must cross the sky of your soul; they are hurricanes that test the roots of the trees; it is summer and summers are harsh, dry, unpleasant and arid, but happy is the one who goes through them embracing the cross and letting Jesus ripen the fruit of the tree in his heart...

Let yourself be molded, let the tempest rage without disturbing you, let the temptation pass and it will PASS AWAY, do not doubt it, leaving merits in your soul...Close your eyes and let the Lord accomplish his will: take each day as it comes, and move ahead. Do not see enemies everywhere, so that if and when they should arrive, the Lord will have softened them up for you. Do not lose time as satan wants, but offer everything up for the good of the works of the cross."

What wonderful words of "consolation" to remember during a time of desolation. So, for all of you who find yourself currently in a time of spiritual dryness, hope this helps.

God Bless!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mid-day Prayer

On our retreat last month, one of the things that I decided to start incorporating into my day was mid-day prayer. Given our schedule, it sometimes ends up being right-before-dinner-prayer, but I have been able to fit it in somewhere every day. The priest encouraged us to spend some time in prayer using the following formula: an aspiration, an act of thanksgiving, petitions, a brief check on our particular examination and an act of repentance.

I have found that sometimes it takes some real effort to perform that act of thanksgiving. On days where nothing seems to go right and I'm crabby and behind in what I thought I wanted to get done, I really have to sit there a few minutes and think of things that I am grateful for. It helps me to start broad - I look out my window and thank God for the beautiful view that I have, for the trees and the wide-open spaces. Next I might move to something more specific - like the room I am sitting in, and the family that I have. After that I give thanks for any special personal blessings that may have been given to me that day and then finally I thank God for all the work that He is doing in my soul. I have found that this is turning out to be a great remedy for the crabbiness that sneaks up on me by lunch time. If nothing else, it is a great few minutes alone to recollect myself and try again to do better for the afternoon.

I found this prayer in a prayerbook that was put together by Fr. John Hardon. It is a great prayer to pray in order to consecrate the next segment of your day to God. I place it here for you all to read and hopefully even use.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, as I am starting this morning's (afternoon's) work, may I offer You through Mary's immaculate heart and in the company of St. Joseph all the chores I am about to perform. May I be diligent and hard working, generous and self-sacrificing, cheerful and patient, and above all motivated by a strong love for You. I unite myself to all the Masses that will be offered during this time, my Jesus. May they obtain many graces for myself and all Your children throughout the world, especially those who are in most need. Amen.

God Bless!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Baked Oatmeal

This dish is our standard Saturday morning fair. In fact, it is being pulled out of the oven as I type. It is a nice alternative use for a breakfast of oatmeal. Enjoy!

Baked Oatmeal

6 C quick-cooking oats
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C packed brown sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 c milk
1 c vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until set. Serve with additional milk.

Note: We bake ours with Rice Milk as a dairy-free alternative. I also use light-tasting olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

God Bless!

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Differing Faces of Multi-tasking

I pride myself on being good at multi-tasking, as I am sure many mothers do. It seems as if you need to be able to multi-task to survive in today's world. I remember a conversation I had with my husband awhile ago about multi-tasking. He didn't see how solving an algebra problem while cooking dinner and sweeping the floor was multi-tasking. For some reason he was under the impression that you had to be doing very different tasks - like digging a hole in your backyard while at the same time painting your bedroom.

Don't worry, I set him straight on the fine art of being able to do many things at once. Now he realizes that he can multi-task, too (although not as well as a mother can!!)

Nonetheless, I suddenly began to realize that multi-tasking might not be such a good thing. I started to think about this when I was considering getting a kitchen phone with a cord so that I could eliminate my cordless phones and thus reduce the amount of harmful electro-magnetic radiation flying around my house (no really, I'm serious about that:) However, I didn't realize how hard it is to find a decent corded phone; with an answering machine! Anyhow, it got me thinking about having to be stuck within 5 feet of my kitchen wall while talking on the phone and I realized that maybe that might be the better thing. Really, shouldn't I be giving the person I am talking to the courtesy of my undivided attention instead of talking on the phone and answering an email, changing a diaper and switching over a load of clothes all at the same time?

It kind of all relates to being able to live in the present moment, which in reality, is the only moment we have. If I am truly going to live in this moment, shouldn't I be giving it the attention it deserves instead of trying to cram as much into that moment as I possibly can? Take some time today to see just how often you multi-task and just how often you are splitting your attention amongst many different things. I think you will be surprised at what you find. Then think about whether you are truly living in the present moment (or as Simonetta sings, the "sacrament of the moment" which makes it seem much more holy to think about it that way) by constantly dividing your attention. I know it is hard for a mom to force herself to do or think of only one thing at a time, but I think it might make our lives richer if we do.

God Bless!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It's Already August 7th!

With each passing day, the dread is growing bigger and bigger. It is almost the middle of August and that means school is approaching. Part of me is always excited about the upcoming school year. I still remember the excitement of getting new supplies and meeting my new teacher and looking at all my new books. My kids get excited, too, when they get their new supplies and when their new books show up in the mail. I like to think that each year they are getting a new teacher, too. Hopefully I have gleaned some wisdom from the passing years that I can put into each new school year to make it a better experience for all of us.

This year, however, it is August and I still have not sufficiently completed all of the things that I wanted to do this summer. Right now I feel the dread increasing because I didn't get as far on my website as I wanted to. I am working on presenting a workshop next week that still isn't finished. My kids books aren't here yet because they haven't even been ordered! I remembered that we do have all the math books we need, so I suppose that we could get started on that. While I was thinking about math, it hit me that "starting school" in our house pretty much equates with starting math again. Let's face it, a lot of the things that we do throughout the summer can very easily be classified as learning. There is something different, however, about starting up with math. It means I have to get back into the mode of being present and available to my children EVERY DAY to go over their lessons and help them with questions! Yikes. This year, I will admit, I am not quite ready for that yet.

I looked ahead to the next few weeks and saw how full the calendar still is. I thought about all of the things we still need to accomplish around here (not related to school) and I wonder how we are ever going to fit school back into our schedule. I know that it always finds its way in there, it just takes a bit of mental transitioning on my part. I have to realize that school time needs to take precedence again and that any "to-dos" have to take second place. Hopefully soon I will make that transition. Is it just me, or does it seem like this summer went faster than ever? Is anyone ready to start yet? Where is the enthusiasm? Dear Lord, give us the grace to get ready to begin another school year, and SOON!

God Bless!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Knowing When To Speak

I came across a gem of a meditation in my "In Conversation with God" book the other day and I thought I would share it with you. The topic is on knowing when to speak. The author talks about the silence of Christ during His earthly life and how it represents His interior strength and sense of purpose. He states that, "the silent figure of Christ is the ever-present Model to reproach empty or useless words."

I wonder what that means for the blogging world? Do we sometimes blog just to hear ourselves "speak"? How many posts are filled with empty or useless words? There seems to be the ever-present struggle to keep posting just so that you can keep producing more material so that your posts begin to appear higher up in search-engine searches so that more people find your blog and then your audience becomes more wide-spread. Sometimes I think, "If I don't post anything today, I'll loose whatever ground I've gained" when in reality that is probably not the case. If we have nothing but empty and useless words to say, should we bother putting them up for the "world" to see? I guess you'll have to keep checking back to see what I decide on that. Will my desire to hear myself talk win out over not posting anything worthwhile for a few days?????? I guess the person reading will be the judge of that.

Somewhat related to that vein of thought is the next quote that I will leave you with. The last phrase in this passage especially jumped out at me. I guess if I took it to heart, I would get rid of that Site Meter thingy at the bottom of my blog, wouldn't I???

"Those who complain continually about their misfortunes or their 'bad luck' should look to the example of Our Lord. Those who proclaim their problems to the four winds should consider the behavior of Christ. Those who feel compelled to explain and excuse their actions, who wait anxiously for praise or approval, should take note of Christ, who says nothing. We will imitate him when we learn to accept life's duties and worries without sterile complaints, when we confront our personal problems without dumping them in someone else's lap, when we face squarely the consequences of our actions, when we do our work for the glory of God without looking for earthly praise..." (Vol.4 p.274)

Good food for thought - silent thought, that is :)

God Bless!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Making Wonderful Music Together

I like homeschooling. I know that is easy to say right now because we aren't actually doing anything (formal, that is). What I mean is that one of the things that I like most about homeschooling is the way that it allows families to have more time to become cohesive, loving groups of people who enjoy doing things together. Now, I know what you are thinking: "I know non-homeschooling families who are cohesive, loving groups of people who enjoy doing things together!" Yes, that is true. You might also be thinking, "I know some homeschooling families who really don't do a whole lot together. They all still do their own thing!" Yes, that is also true. I think, however, that you are more likely to find homeschooling families doing lots of things together, and enjoying it. If nothing else, homeschooling allows you to have more time to be together and to do things together: have fun, work hard, enjoy each other and grow in virtues with the people that God has placed you closest to.

So, why all this about homeschooling families? Well, this past weekend we went to the concert at Daniel's Den put on by friends of ours, and what did we see? A bunch of homeschooling families singing together and enjoying each others' company. Here is part of the Laura's family singing a great song written by Laura about joy (one of my favorites of hers).


Here is most of Simonetta's family singing a Lithuanian song together.

And it is not too often that you will see someone singing on stage holding their son! Now that is family dedication!

And here is the whole group, everyone who performed that night, singing three songs together; from the youngest - aged 6 - to the oldest - aged ??????? (will anyone admit to being the oldest?)

Events like this always make me thank the Lord that we homeschool and that we have gotten to know such wonderful (and really talented) people. Thanks, guys, for the great time! Can't wait for your CD.

God Bless!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Blueberrie Crisp

Today's recipe has, of course, to do with blueberries! This dessert is so good that we made it two days in a row. If you have fresh blueberries, this is a great way to eat them. It will work with frozen ones, too, in case you don't have fresh. Enjoy!


Blueberry Crisp

6 cups blueberries
1 1/3 C firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/3 C flour
1 c quick cooking oats
1 c mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 9x13 baking dish, arrange blueberries; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon. Stir in mayonnaise. Using fingers, gently squeeze dough to form crumbs. Evenly sprinkle crumbs over blueberries.

Bake 30 minutes or until topping is golden.

God Bless!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

In the five years we have lived here, we have seen some pretty awesome rainbows. Many time we can see right where it ends in the field off the front of the house. Thought I would share them with you on this Sky Watch Friday.






God Bless!