Sunday, November 30, 2008

Technology - A Blessing or a Curse?

About a week ago, my husband dropped his cell phone into a lift station, which essentially means that it went for a swim. About four hours later they were able to suck it out with the vacuum truck, but, of course, it was too late . Like most business people, he depends on his cell phone so off to the store he went. Two hours later he walked out with a brand-new, hip, up-to-date mini-computer-phone-camera. I believe it even makes dinner if you tell it to. Since my cell phone battery would only hold a charge for about an hour, he went in with the intention of buying me a new battery. Instead, for the same price as a new battery for my OLD phone, he got me a brand new, hip, up-to-date (although not as cool as his) cell phone. Let's just say that it took us a whole day to figure out how to make phone calls on them. My husband's theory is that we should have given it to our five year old to figure out - more on that later.

By the next day we were able to figure out a few more things and realized how cool some of the features were. Mine has a calendar and I can program the weather to show up on my screen, you know, fun stuff like that. Then my husband found this very addicting game on his phone called "Bubble Break". Well, our five year old did get a hold of the game and she is the one who explained how to play it to the rest of us. In fact, for a few days, she held the high score!

Then a few days later I discovered that I have access to the music store. Well, my daughter and I spent quite a bit of time listening to 30 second sound bites of our favorite country songs. I finally convinced my husband that I would just download ONE song when the message popped onto the screen, "You are not authorized to purchase songs. Please go to your account and change the authorization". I guess he knows me pretty well.

So why am I now spending time posting about my cell phone? Isn't it bad enough that I've wasted quite a few hours over the past week playing with it? What I'm really trying to figure out in all of this is: Why do you get something like a new computer, a new computer program, a new phone or whatever, and it
immediately becomes something that you have to put in its place or it begins to control you. I can't believe how that bubble game alone has gotten a hold of all of us (especially the five year old). Why do we continue to get sucked in by technology? Is it a blessing or a curse? I guess you could look at it as a chance to build your character by overcoming your will. You can also look upon all of this new stuff as a good educational experience. Sometimes, however, I think we'd all be better off without it!

God Bless!

Friday, November 28, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

1.

I decided to participate in 7 Quick Takes Friday since it seemed like fun. Actually, I found that coming up with 7 things is difficult. I also discovered that these "quick takes" will be longer than many of my other posts. Oh well, have fun and check out other people's quick takes, too.

2.

A friend of mine emailed me this last week. I liked it so I thought I would share it with you: Cardinal George spoke and said, "our prayer is that we live long enough to be Saints--it is easy to pray to live long lives", he said, "but it is much more difficult to pray that we live long enough to become Saints"--he said, "That YES to God is a difficult thing sometimes because we know it will entail much suffering and sacrifice but we know it is worth it--Just as Mary said Yes to God"

3.

Am I the only one who lives in a family that is not capable of playing games together? Something usually goes flying - whether it is the nearest object or person available, or the game board itself. So last week when our Foozball (?) game got brought up out of the basement, I had my doubts about whether or not it was a good idea. True to form, the game got shoved around, the ball went flying and loud stomps were heard going down the hall. Then a miracle occurred. By mid-week, the loser could actually walk away without throwing anything! I've even seen a few smiles after the game is over (and not just the gloating kind, either). I guess it proves what I read this morning in my mediation, "No situation is fixed"! Alleluia!

4.

In my post the other day about my ever-aging eyesite, a friend commented that he is surprised that I use such a small font in my post. Guess I never noticed it because on the screen when I'm typing it, it looks so much bigger. So, how is this Roger? Can you see this one? :) Maybe I should consider switching so as to help out all those other over-40 people that I can now identify with?

5.

After having some discussions about blogging recently, my daughter found this website and emailed me the link. It's about blogging just for fun and without that feeling of obligation. I'm trying to assimilate that way of thinking into my life, however, I tend to be obsessive about things, so it is difficult to imagine being so blase about something so important :) (Really, I'm just kidding. Of course I realize that what I have to say everyday isn't that important. At least not to everyone...especially, it seems, to people I live with......)

6.

We went to our first Latin Mass this past weekend. Let's just say that the jury is still out. Some of us didn't like it, others are willing to try again. We'll see. I think I must be missing something....

7.

Hope y'all had a nice Thanksgiving. Keeping with the theme of giving thanks, here is an excerpt from an email we got from the Family Research Council about some things to be thankful for:
Today we seem to be floating on a tattered raft of bad news, but this is a week for Thanksgiving, and it seems only right to note that for all the trouble we face, we live in the most blessed times in human history. We have the capacity to feed ourselves and the know-how to feed others, we live longer than any other generation ever (especially if we control the kind of excess that now, rather than want, shortens our lives), and we are able to transmit and share ideas with lightning speed around the world. Despair and panic, we know, can spread quickly, but so can words of consolation and redemption. This is also an extraordinary era for medicine.

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Something to Think About

This video is incredible. I found it over on Jennifer's Favorite Links and I just had to share it. As we approach Advent, which is the time to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus, this is definitely some great food for thought. I love this!!!!!!!!!



God Bless and have a very Blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Mine Eyes Can Now Clearly See the Glory ...

Well, it has happened. My eyes have realized what the rest of my body already knows: they are over 40 years old. At first it was just barely noticeable. Once in awhile I'd have a hard time seeing something really small. After awhile it seemed to be happening more frequently. "HMMM," I wondered, "is it really going to happen to me? Am I going to turn out like all of my "older" friends? Not yet", I kept telling myself. "Not me!"

The next time I noticed it was a few months ago when I was trying to read the really tiny print on the side of a children's pain reliever bottle. If it is so important to know how much to give your child, then why on earth did they make the print so SMALL? Well, I must have gotten through that okay because no one complained of an overdose.

A few weeks ago, however, it snuck up on me again. I was taking pictures at my in-law's 50th anniversary party when I realized that I couldn't see the images clearly enough on my digital camera to tell if they were coming out okay or not. These were important pictures, but I had no idea how they were going to turn out until I got home and looked at them on the computer screen - you know, so they were magnified about 100 times!

The clincher, however, was a few days ago when I noticed a sore spot on my thumb and I honestly couldn't tell if it was just a cut or if it was a sliver of some sort. In defeat, I made an appointment with the eye doctor, whom I just saw today.

She confirmed it. I can officially join the ranks of those people over 40 who are constantly searching for one of their ten pairs of Wal-Mart glasses so they can see all that stuff that has suddenly become too small to see. I will drag myself there this week and purchase the symbol that tells the world - "Yes, I am over 40 and I am not too proud to admit it!"

God Bless!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Odds and Ends

Well, it was a sad day on Saturday because the Celtics lost in the last playoff game before the State Finals. Our nephew, however, still had an awesome game. Congratulations, Pat, on a job well done!

The first snowflakes fell this morning. It was nice to see them because it got everyone up out of bed and in a good mood so we actually made it to mass on time - something we rarely do on a Monday morning!

A week ago, our pastor's column in the bulletin dealt with the importance of having some type of daily prayer routine. In his column he shared with us a prayer he prays every day: the COMPLETE version of the Serenity Prayer. I have heard this prayer for years, but never have I heard this version. The second part is even more beautiful than the first, so I thought I'd share it here today.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference;
Living one day at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Let me take, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it;
Trusting He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.
May I be reasonably happy in this life
And supre
mely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

I feel cheated all these years, never having heard this prayer in its entirety. Maybe it got shortened because otherwise it is too long to fit on a coffee mug :)


Note: I just finished posting this and went on over to Conversion Diary - a fabulous blog I read - and there was this post. It is such a great reminder - and the prayer is another great one to add to your daily prayer list - that I had to come back and link to it. Help spread the message that every moment is one that we will never get back. Life is too short to hang on to things!

God Bless!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Minestrone Soup

After a cold afternoon watching a high school football playoff game, what better dinner to come home to than a nice hot bowl of homemade soup! We are trying this for the first time tonight, but it sounds good. Go Celtics!

Minestrone in Minutes

3 sweet or hot Italian sausage links, sliced
1 C chopped onion
1 can (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 small zucchini, cubed
3 tsp beef bouillon granules
3 cups water
2 C finely chopped cabbage
1 can (15 1/2 oz) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp dried basil
2 tbl minced fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan Cheese

In a Dutch oven or soup kettle, cook sausage and onion over medium heat until sausage is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the cheese. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield 2 quarts

God Bless and have a peaceful and restful Sunday!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Day in the Life Part IV

My last two "students" are my five year old and my three year old. When my oldest daughter was 5 I was so anxious to get started really teaching her things. I found myself getting frustrated that we weren't really getting into "meaty" stuff yet and I wondered why she didn't have her mutliplication facts memorized. Six kids later I have definitely "lowered" my expectations and standards.

Now that my little 5 year old is in kindergarten, we spend about 1 hour a day in formal studies. I got a big workbook for her to help her learn her letters and numbers and all that other fun stuff. I know I could have just taught her this without the big workbook but it would have taken more time for me to get it all together and I'm afraid I would have never gotten around to it. For now she enjoys her workbook pages and is catching on to that whole alphabet thing. The rest of her learning occurs by just following the rest of us around and by being in the same room during a lot of our discussions and reading. I continue to be amazed at the things she picks up.

There is one thing I've noticed about the differences between my girls and my boys for which I am very thankful. It appears as if my boys have much more vivid imaginations than my girls do and therefore are quite capable of entertaining themselves for long periods of time. Now that he is three, my son in quite content playing with whoever happens to be available to him. If no one is, then more often than not, he doesn't mind playing by himself.

Throughout the day I schedule the other kids to take their turn with the younger ones, so this way I can focus on the difficult subjects a little better. More often than not, though, these two are never very far away from the hub of activity. For the most part they are content with this setup, but I assure you that if either one of them is having a bad day it definitely has an impact on the school day.

So that is how we run our school day. We are pretty consistent with a 4 1/4 day school week. We use Friday mornings to finish up things from the week and take any math tests that might need to be taken. Sickness and clubs are about the only things that get us off track the rest of the week.

I've given you a glimpse of our day, but if you are interested in how I put my whole day into a schedule and how I've learned to live with a routine, check out my website. I have put together a workshop called "A Plan for Joy in the Home - A Workshop on Organizing your Day for Catholic Homeschooling Mothers". In it I walk you through some important areas that I think need to be organized and at the end of the workshop, we put all of these areas together into a master schedule. If you are organizationally challenged and would be interested in this workshop for yourself and some of your friends, check it out here and contact me for more information.

God Bless!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Day in the Life Part III

Today we will follow the next set of students: a 3rd grader and a 4th grader. God is good in that I am able to pair them up, also. Both of them are required to be up at 7:00 and be ready to start school by 8:30 a.m. They, too, have subjects that they can take in the car with them if we head out to mass in the morning.

This year I decided to let them pick some subjects that they were interested in studying. So, while they might be similar in ability, they have somewhat different interests. Their day begins with the 3rd grader reading history books. At first he was studying the American Revolution and now he is back to some in-depth reading about the Civil War. The 4th grader starts with the current Saint book that she is reading.

For the next hour the 3rd grader practices his handwriting (I can't believe it but he has the nicest handwriting out of all of them!!!), works on his map skills book and spends some time with the French program. The 4th grader is studying US geography and learning the states and capitals, is also doing a map skills book and spends some time doing French.

After that we meet to do math together. For this age level I have been using Math U See. We watch the DVD lesson together and then will spend the next couple of days doing the worksheets. How well they are doing determines how many sheets they have to do. They end each lesson section with the test.

They each are assigned time during the morning to play with the little kids so that I can work with other students. Since we have finished our election study, I will be spending some time with them learning grammar and writing. We have also incorporated our read aloud time again and we are currently reading "The Bronze Bow".

After lunch I meet with the 3rd grader and we read from his St. Paul book together. Then the 4th grader joins us and we go over a lesson in the 1st St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism book together. During this time I also grade their math sheets and we discuss any projects they might be doing. We also plan their studies for the next day.

If they have finished all their work, they are free for the rest of the day. If they owe me any time for misbehaving, now is their time to pay up.

They seem to be enjoying the fact that they can do some of their work on their own. They also like being able to pick some of their subjects to study. I have found that this motivates them to keep up with the work, too.

Tomorrow I will bring you the last two students in our school. Until then, have a good day.

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Day in the Life Part II

After our Junior, we have two more girls who are currently in 9th grade and 7th grade. I noticed early on that more often than not they worked at about the same pace, so I decided to group them together for most of their studies. Since the 9th grader is now technically in high school, I've had to make a few changes to this arrangement, but they still do some work together.

Both girls are supposed to be up by 6:45 and be ready to begin their day by 8:00. Like their older sister, they take schoolwork in the car if we are heading out to morning mass.

The 9th grader's schedule looks something like this:

The day begins with Science. She also did the Biology dissection lab last year, but this year was not quite ready for the Biology book, so she chose to study Botany using the Apologia book. She works through this on her own.

Like her older sister, she is reading through "Christ the King, Lord of History" and reviewing the questions and doing projects. She is also responsible for reading classical works by foreign authors.

Next is math - the dreaded subject. Both she and her 7th grade sister are doing Saxon Algebra 1/2. I've decided to try teaching each lesson instead of using the DIVE CD (which we have done in the past. It is okay for some, but not for others) or having them do the lesson on their own. So far we are all enjoying this method immensely :)

Like all her siblings, she is learning French with Rosetta Stone. For her religion class, she is focusing on reading stories of the Saints and then either writing a report or doing some sort of project to express her knowledge.

After the Christmas break, I will be having her finish up our study of the American Government using the Abeka American Government course. It looks like a good, comprehensive coverage of the subject.

Our 7th grade daughter (who really wanted to have her own post. Sorry DD :) begins her day with the second St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism book. She is reading through it and answering the questions.

I found this really neat Vocabulary book a few years ago called "Vocabulary Cartoons" It is a book of hundreds of SAT words that you learn with mnemonics. This is her next subject. After that she joins her sister and I for MATH.

In the place of our unit study, I plan on working with her and some of the younger ones on writing and grammar. MORE FUN together. After lunch she practices the piano and reads "Beautiful Girlhood" which is a study for young teens on how to become a godly young lady.

Both girls each have 1/2 hour scheduled with me at some point during the day. During this time we correct the math lesson and plan for the next day's studies. We also have time go over other papers and brainstorm for projects they might be working on. I really like this idea of a scheduled time to meet with them. In the past, I would always say that I was going to meet with them but things always seemed to get in the way and I would never get to it. It really helps me to keep on top of what they are doing while allowing them to work on their own.

They are also both involved in a number of other clubs and performances as well as helping out around the house and playing with their younger siblings. While not quite as independent as their older sister, they are learning how to become more responsible and independent.

Tomorrow, the next twosome!

God Bless!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Day in the Life part I

Today I will give you an overview of our homeschooling life from the perspective of our oldest student - a Junior in high school.

Basically, my daughter has always been a self-starter. I have been blessed with someone who picks things up easily, likes to work on her own, is creative and responsible. This has been a double-edged sword. I was terribly spoiled by her ability and expected everyone to follow suit. This, of course, hasn't happened. On the other hand, she has been a great example that, in some way or another, everyone has followed.

Her day starts at 6:30 when she gets up and gets ready. If we don't go to morning Mass, her school day begins at 8:00. The days we do go to morning Mass, she packs up what books she can and does her work in the car since we have at least 30 minutes to travel in each direction.

She does the following classes in this order: (in our schedule, most subjects are given 1/2 hour time blocks)

Religion - She thoroughly enjoyed learning apologetics last year, so she has been continuing her study this year using the "Beginning Apologetics" series by San Juan Catholic Seminars.

Once or twice a week, I set aside 1/2 hour where we both meet to discuss what she has been doing, go over any problems or discuss future projects.

Next is Biology. We really like the Apologia series. They are interesting to read and most of the experiments are very do-able. She is using the "Exploring Creation with Biology" book. Last year we were fortunate enough to have a mom teach a dissecting class for any interested high schoolers.

The math program I've had her following for the past 2 years is "Life of Fred". This year is geometry and we allow an hour for this subject.

In history she is studying world history. In addition to reading "Christ the King, Lord of History" and going over the questions and doing one project per chapter, she is also responsible for reading classics written by authors from other countries. Fortunately all of my children are avid readers.

For the past two months we have all been working together on a unit study of the founding of our country and the election process. Now that we are done with that portion, my daughter will be tackling the book "The Making of America - The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution". I wish I had the time to read it as it looks quite fascinating.

After our lunch hour, she then works for an hour on a web site that she is building. We have found a great program called Site Build It! They walk you through the whole process of how to build a content rich web site from the ground up. It is a lot of work, but it is fun and an incredible learning experience.

Finally she spends some time with the Rosetta Stone French program that we got this year. So far I am very impressed with the program - I just wish my computer was. I think it's time for an upgrade!

The rest of the day is spent either blogging, cooking dinner, reading a book, watching her younger siblings or writing something for the next contest she is entering. A couple times a month she is involved in different clubs or performances so when that happens, that becomes school and the other book work is picked up the next day.

She is pretty much our only stand-alone student. As you will see over the next few days, I switched gears a bit with the next couple. Hopefully you found this fly's-eye view interesting.

God Bless!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Smorgasbord of Topics

For those of you who have been sitting on the edge of your seat since Saturday wondering if the Celtics won.....YES they shut out the top ranked school in the 6A division - 38 to 0. Another great game. Final game before the state playoffs is this coming Saturday. I'll keep you posted.

I got this email from a friend of mine this morning. It was published in the bulletin of a Catholic Church in Chicago. I'm posting it here because I'm finding it very interesting how many times I keep coming across this same message. See, it's not just me! I had nothing to do with putting this in their bulletin :) I hope you agree that God is trying to tell us that now is the time to really get serious....

New President for the United States of America

Now that a new President has been elected, I suggest you read and meditate on Psalm 27. Many changes are promised in the future in our country and many changes will have to take place in the Catholic Church and in the Christian community as a whole. There has been a significant shift in the American hierarchy with over 75 bishops statements (nearly one third of the bishops) instructing Catholics to make abortion the preeminent issue in this 2008 election, unfortunately maybe too little too late, telling Catholics that they cannot support candidates who advocate for legalized abortion. The future holds a more spiritually militant Church and a more militant (in the right sense) of a no compromise pro-life movement. No more accomodation with the culture, no more learning to live with the Culture of Death, no more Catholic pro-abortion politicians---they simply cannot be Catholics and publically advocate the laws that kill the innocent. That era is over!!! This would probably be true no matter who won. A new age of martydom may have begun. Now hear the words of our Lord: "If you find that the world hates you-know that it has hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own, the reason it hates you is you do not belong to the world ... I tell you all this that in me you may find peace. You will suffer in the world. But take courage! I have overcome the world." (Jn. 15:18-19, 16:33).

And finally, I think it would be neat to be a fly on someone's homeschooling wall. There are families I know that I would love to secretly hang out with for a few days to find out exactly how they accomplish their school work. (Sorry to those of you who know me, I won't admit to who those families are!!) I think it can be very helpful and motivating to hear how other people homeschool. So, in that vein, I thought I would spend the next week or so giving you an idea of how we homeschool each of our children - both individually and as a group. I love reading those "A Day in the Life Of" stories, so if you don't, you could probably check back in here again next week. If you do like those kind of stories, I'll start tomorrow. Hope to see you then.

God Bless!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Barm Brack

Since today is another high school football playoff day and the team our nephew is on is the Celtics, I thought I'd leave you with an Irish bread recipe that our neighbor gave us a few weeks ago. The girls in her club made it and we got to taste it and it was GOOD! She told us that the Irish would make this on Halloween and bake a wedding ring into it. The person who finds the ring can be confident that he or she will become engaged before the year is out. Hope you enjoy it too. GO CELTICS!

Barm Brack

4 to 5 C bread or all purpose flour
1/2 C sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp grated lemon peel
2 pkg dry yeast
1/2 C butter, room temperatures
3/4 C water
1/2 C milk
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 C golden raisins
1/2 C chopped mixed candied fruit
1 tsp sugar dissolved in 1 tbl water
1 wedding ring (just Kidding)

In a large mixing bowl, measure 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, lemon peel and yeast. In a saucepan, combine the butter, water and milk and heat over a low flame until the liquid is hot (120-130 F). Add to the dry ingredients and beat by hand with a wooden spoon or with the flat beater of a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs and the 3/4 C flour, or enough to make a thick batter. Beat vigorously by hand or at high speed in the mixer for 2 minutes.

Add flour, 1/4 C at a time, beating with the spoon and working with your hands, or in the mixer using a dough hook, to form a shaggy mass that can be lifted from the bowl and placed on the work surface.

Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, or with the mixer. The dough will leave the sides of the bowl in the mixer and gather around the dough hook. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave until risen to twice its original size, about 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and turn onto floured work surface. Work in the raisins and candied fruit. Divide dough in half, shape into a ball and let rest for 5 minutes, under a towel.

Form into a loaf, place into pans and let rise again, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake until done about 35 to 40 minutes. Turn out one loaf and tap the bottom with a finger. A hard hollow sound means the light golden brown loaf is done. Finally brush the crusts with the sugar glaze. Return to the oven for 2-3 minutes until shiny. Remove from oven and cut into thick slices while still warm, served with ample butter.

God Bless and have a peaceful and restful Sunday!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Johnny Appleseed Spreads Peace and Joy

Last week in our Miles Christi formation group we were discussing purity of intention; how it is important to do all that we do for the Lord and not for human respect or praise. In order to do this, we have to make sure that we are paying more attention to the opinion of God than to the opinions of others.

Even in difficult situations - whether it is a somewhat unfriendly family situation or co-workers who are not very pro-religion - we can still win souls for Christ if we focus on serving these people for the love of God. In our group we talked about how Jesus has invited us all to follow Him very closely. He wants us to be His hands, feet and mouth to the world. Our aim should be of "walking the earth sowing the peace and joy that the world cannot give."

This last sentence struck me. I immediately envisioned Johnny Appleseed walking the countryside sowing apple seeds. I then envisioned myself in a plaid shirt, an overall skirt (of course!) and a big straw hat with a big burlap sack slung over my shoulders. As I walked the countryside, I spread peace and joy to all those I met. Interesting vision, isn't it?

It seems like it would be so easy to spread peace and joy as you walk by various people and towns. How much harder it is to maintain that vision of myself spreading peace and joy at all times to the people within the walls of my house - although I suppose if I walked around in an outfit like that, the family might laugh a lot more!

Well, no matter what our outfit is, we are all called to serve others for the love of God. We are all called to spread peace and joy to everyone we meet, even if we are tired or crabby or sick. We are all called to take advantage of the thousands of circumstances that are put before us in our own little corner of the world. We don't even have to travel very far to carry out this call to discipleship.
God Bless!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some Rosary Moments

We had a bit of a tough family rosary last night. I'm sure you know what I mean - a lot of screaming and carrying on (by the little ones, not me) and not a lot of meditating - or even praying for that matter. Oh well, in the midst of all of the rosary chaos, someone said something that made me think of some of the funny rosary moments we've had. I hope you get a laugh out of them like we did.

The other day my eight year old son was leading the Creed: "...born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pirate..." guess it's time to back off on all the pirate stuff for awhile!

My five year old daughter, who is very outspoken for her age, leads the Our Father this way, "Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, I will be done..."

How often had you had this conversation during the middle of the rosary? Child: Hey what Hail Mary is this anyway? Parent: The first one.

I don't know about in your family, but in our family, when my husband has had a hard day and he is tired and we sit down to pray the rosary, you are pretty much guaranteed a good laugh. We are always amazed at the jumble of words that come out of his mouth as he begins to nod off. One of the funniest ones had to be when we were praying the "O My Jesus" prayer at the end of one decade. It went like this: "O my Jesus, forgive us our sins and save us from the families of hell..." It happened to be another rough rosary night, so I tried not take it personally!

See, who says you can't have fun while you pray. I just hope God laughs as hard as we do! Have a nice day!

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Year of St. Paul

Seeing as how Pope Benedict XVI declared this the year of St. Paul, I figured that we should somethow include him in our year of study. I've been on the lookout for some good, adult scholarly book on St. Paul for myself, but in the meantime, my son picked out a Mary Fabyan Windeatt book entitled, "Saint Paul the Apostle. The Story of the Apostle to the Gentiles". We have been reading a chapter a day together and discussing it.

Much to my surprise, I think I've found what I was looking for in this children's book. It is very engaging and I feel as if I have a much better handle on who St. Paul was. Granted, I know it is still a work of fiction, but, as with all of the Windeatt book's, she does a very good job of getting the facts in there, too.

The one thing that has struck me the most while reading this book is that I feel much more connected to the letters that St. Paul wrote. Let me explain. I used to read his letters and marvel at the insights they contained. In a way I envisioned him sitting at a desk writing these scholarly letters to his different groups. After reading this story, however, I have a greater appreciation for what it was really like. Here he was, sore and exhausted, frustrated because he could not visit all of the people who needed him. In the midst of whatever current battle he was fighting, he would take the time to dictate his thoughts and desires to whatever group was currently in trouble: the Corinthians, the Thesalonians, the Romans. Whoever it was, no matter how tired he was, despite the fact that due to his sore hands he could not write himself, he stopped and took the time to communicate with the people in need.

I would highly recommend this book for your whole family to read. My husband picked it up last week and is reading it as part of his everyday spiritual reading time. After you're done, I think you'll have a much greater appreciation for what St. Paul went through for God and His people.

I'll leave you with a quote from the book when St. Paul was about to address the Governor of Cesarea and his young wife:

"Paul looked long and compassionately at the noble couple before him. Here were two souls, made to the image and likeness of God, who had not even glimpsed the reason for their existence. Like millions of others, they spent their time in an endless search for happiness. They took pleasure in food, in clothes, in bodily comfort. But had they found the object of their quest? Or would they ever find it?"

God Bless!r

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

High School Football - My Favorite Season

I love High School Football! We have had the fortune of having three nephews play football for a local Catholic High School for the past ten years. If there is one thing I miss about my children going to a high school, it is the football games. Fortunately we can live vicariuosly through our nephews. This year we just happen to have a star kicker to cheer for. He won the game for his team this past weekend by kicking the winning field goal in overtime against the rival Catholic high school!

Unfortunately I could not be at the game as I stayed home with the two little ones. I did listen to the game on the radio, however, and right at the end of the game when our nephew was going to go out and potentially kick the winning field goal, my three year old runs in the room and yells, "I have to go potty." AHHH! I tried to convince him to go by himself, but it didn't work. In desperation, I turned up the volume as loud as it could go, ran him to the bathroom and got him "set up" and then ran back to hear the end of the game. Don't worry, I went back to him as soon as the game ended!

Anyhow, I always find it a bit interesting to go to the games. You can't miss us when we show up...all nine of us bundled up, most of us in dresses or skirts! (Yes, unless it is really cold out, we even wear our dresses and skirts to the games! Of course, this week it was really cold out but we realized at the last minute that no one had jeans that fit them! Oh well, doubling up on the tights and skirts works, too!)

Anyhow, the last game I went to, I even got strange looks from my kids. You see, it was a really good game and I can't help myself, I jump up and yell and scream and cheer as loud as anybody. "Mom, what are you doing?" was the question. You see, they might be used to me yelling, and maybe even occasionally screaming, but never jumping up and down and waving my arms while doing it! "Well," I responded, "it's a football game, you can't just sit there and do nothing! Get up and yell!" Before long, the whole family was up on their feet.

It is really nice to be able to do something fun and out of the ordinary with your kids. I think it is good for them to see their parents in a different mode than they are used to. It keeps them wondering about what other surprises you might have up your sleeve.

So, with any luck we'll be making a trip to the state championship game in a few weeks. It's a long, cold day, but we love it. This is the last football player in the family for awhile so we have to live it up while we can.

God Bless! (And go Celtics!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Call to Action!

Over the past few days I have come across the same message five different times. Usually when that happens, I stop and take notice. In some form or another it seems that I keep reading about a call to action for us Catholics. Not just us homeschooling Catholics, but ALL Catholics, it seems need to hear the message that we need to become not just okay Catholics, not just good Catholics, but exceptional Catholics.

No one knows what the future holds except God. All we have is today. But, with the hope that we will be given a number of tomorrows, we must prepare ourselves and our children to become those kind of Catholics that not only know their faith but can and will defend it if necessary.

It reminded me that during our silent retreat this summer Father exhorted us to pray every day to the Blessed Mother for the graces of Joy, Hope and Courage. We need Joy for our own good, but also so that we can spread that joy to those around us - in our home, work or anywhere. We have to EXUDE joy so that people want to know where we get it from.

We need Hope so that we don't ever doubt that God is in control, no matter what might be going on in our lives, in our country or in our world.

We need Courage so that we can stand up for our faith just as the early Christians did. Through their courage and witness they converted many people. Like them there may come a time when we, or even our children, might need to have the courage to defend the faith by giving up our lives.

I came across this call to action in an email from Fr. Corapi, on Mark Mallet's blog, in this video, in a mediation the other day in my "In Conversation With God" book and in "My Imitation of Christ" book that I flipped open the other day. The video is almost nine minutes long but it is definitely worth your time! So, watch the video and hopefully you will take up the call, too.

God Bless!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Taffy Apple Salad

This is one of our fall favorites. Hope you enjoy it, too.

1 can (20 oz) pineapple tidbits, drain and save juice
2 C mini marshmallows
1/2 C sugar
1 Tbl flour
1 egg - well beaten
1 1/2 Tbl white vinegar
8 oz cool whip
2 C unpeeled, diced granny smith apples
1 1/2 C cocktail peanuts

Mix pineapple and marshmallows together and refrigerate overnight

Mix pineapple juice with sugar, flour, egg and white vinegar. Cook until thick and then refrigerate overnight.

The next day, mix cool with with the two above mixtures. Add apples and peanuts and mix well.

God Bless and have a peaceful and restful Sunday

Friday, November 7, 2008

"You Can't Take It With You"

After watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington a while back, some friends recommended we watch another Frank Capra film entitled, "You Can't Take it With You". Well we needed some comic relief so we watched it the other evening. What a riot. While it didn't fit with any current topic of study, it did fit well with the general theme of life that we strive for. If you've not seen it, the movie is about a very eccentric family headed up by Grandpa Martin Vanderhoff.

Basically, Grandpa walked away from his very lucrative career because he wasn't having any fun in life. He then decided to do whatever he wanted to do and encouraged his family members to do the same. Their family definitely embodies the unschooling mentality.

While talking with a wealthy business man, Grandpa says, "
Maybe it'll stop you trying to be so desperate about making more money than you can ever use? You can't take it with you, Mr. Kirby. So what good is it? As near as I can see, the only thing you can take with you is the love of your friends."
This was the way that Grandpa lived his life. Oh that we could all be like that.....

One of my favorite parts of the film was when Grandpa said grace before the family sat down to dinner. He does it twice in the movie but unfortunately I could only find the text from the second time. Here is Grandpa talking to God:

(offering grace) "Quiet, please, quiet! Well, sir, here we are again. We've had quite a time of it lately, but it seems that the worst of it is over. Course, the fireworks all blew up, but we can't very well blame that on you. Anyway, everything's turned out fine, as it usually does. Alice is going to marry Tony; Mr. Kirby, who's turned out to be a very good egg, sold us back our house - he'll probably forget all about big deals for a while. Nobody on our block has to move; and, with the right handling, I think we can even thaw out Mrs. Kirby here. We've all got our health; as far as anything else is concerned, we still leave that up to you. Thank you."

I especially focused in on the part when he says, "as far as anything else is concerned, we still leave that up to you." I'm always amazed at the wisdom in some of these old movies. It's not too often that you find a current movie with characters who talk like that!

So, as we head into the weekend, if you are looking for a funny, light-hearted and inspirational movie to watch, check out "You Can't Take it With You". Although, maybe you've already seen it. I guess I assume that everyone else is as old-movie deprived as I am!

God Bless!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Odds and Ends

Sorry, I've been so focused on the election for the past few weeks that it might take me a few days to get my homeschooling-blogging brain back into focus :)

Just thought I'd point you to my website where I've added a few new sections. If you haven't checked out the section on organizing, give it a whirl. Hopefully you'll find something that will help you out.

I'm also in the process of adding some pages about the cool things that our homeschool group does every year. If you're in need of ideas for your group, we've done some pretty neat things, so check it out.

You can also subscribe to my website with an RSS feed so that anytime I add new content, you'd be the first to find out about it. I try to add something new every week, even more often if I get the chance.

I suppose if you don't mind a bit of self-promotion, you've read down this far. Thanks, I appreciate your support! Hopefully my brain will be back in gear soon!

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Election Thoughts

While it might be easy to fall into discouragement and possibly even despair, we have to remember that God has heard all of our prayers and is answering them, although not in a way that we might have hoped for. As I thought this morning about this, it occurred to me that God has given us a wonderful opportunity: the opportunity to stay on our knees and to pray with continued fervor for the conversion of our country and for life to be revered from conception to natural death. Had the election had another outcome, I think we might have been prone to give a big sigh of relief and ease up on the intensity of our prayers.

So, as a friend of ours had emailed this morning:


"I already said my first rosary for the country and especially the President-Elect's health, safety, wisdom, courage, and compassion. I encourage you to do the same.

Remember that God is in charge! Fear not and live in the hope He has given us."

Great words to live by! I have to say, too, that this whole election process has been an incredible learning opportunity. Our family has learned so much by following and getting involved through prayer and activities during this historic time.

So, grab your rosaries and hang on. I think we're in for an interesting ride!

God Bless!

Monday, November 3, 2008

An Election Prayer to Mary

In the last few days I have gotten many emails about what this country will be like if Mr. Obama becomes President. They are all very interesting and scary to read, and all far too long to post here. So instead I decided to post "An Election Prayer to Mary" that I got last week sometime. If I am reading the email correctly it was written by Men of the Sacred Hearts. Pray, fast, spend time in adoration. But no matter what happens, remember the words of Jesus, "What I am doing you do not know, but afterward you will understand".

An Election Prayer to Mary

O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care. Most Holy Mother, we beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son. Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins of our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection. Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people. Open our minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom. Free us from the falsehoods that lead to the evil of abortion and threaten the sanctity of family life. Grant our country the wisdom to proclaim that God's law is the foundation on which this nation was founded, and that He alone is the True Source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. O Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death and the strength to build a new Culture of Life. Amen.

Isn't it nice, that as homeschoolers we are able to take the time during the day with our family to pray for these important issues?

God Bless.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Chicken Fried Pork Chops

A Blessed All Saints and All Souls Day to all of you!

I wish I had a good recipe to go with the festivities, but I couldn't think of one. So, instead, I'll offer you a good and easy crock pot recipe called Chicken Fried Chops. Enjoy!

1/2 C flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
3/4 tsp garlic powder
6 pork chops
2 tbsp oil
10 3/4 oz can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can water

Combine flour, salt, dry mustard and garlic powder. Dredge pork chops in flour mixture. Brown in oil in skillet. Place in slow cooker.

Combine soup and water. Pour over meat. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours

God Bless, and have a peaceful and restful Sunday.