Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Movin' Time

When we first figured out where we were moving to we figured we'd move in, at best, the 11th and 12th of December. When packing was going so well, we decided to bump it up a week and shoot for the 4th and 5th. This week we found out that we could take possession this weekend, so we started today moving some stuff but tomorrow will be the BIG moving day - you know, all the fun stuff you need the big, burly guys for. I'm not sure if we'll have any of those :) but we have some good friends and a relative or two with generous hearts who are willing to give up their Saturday on short notice to help us move all our stuff.

So on this Thanksgiving Weekend (since I didn't have time to do this for Thursday) I'd like to say I'm thankful for my husband and children, my parents and family and all of our good friends who are always there for us. I'm incredibly thankful to God for all the things He has given us and especially for how smoothly this move has gone thus far (just a few more days, please...). I'm thankful for all of you who share your time with me here and especially those who leave good and thoughtful comments.

Since I thought we'd be moving in next weekend, I didn't schedule the internet and phone services to be switched until the middle to the end of the week! I'm anticipating having to fend off my girls who want a last stab at the internet as well as my husband who is patiently waiting to disassemble everything, so I suppose I shall go do some more last minute packing and leave them to fight it out!

See you all next week!



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Climbing the Mountain of Life

Spending the week working together to pack up this house, added to all this talk of college, made me realize something...we are at the peak of a mountain in our family journey right now.

I started to think about this as my "team" and I have been bull-dozing through this house packing things up. I must say we do make quite an efficient team; so much so that this is going far faster than I expected it to. While going through one of the rooms I looked around and thought about the fact that we are at the peak of our family's work force. For 17 years we've been climbing the mountain - adding kids to the family, watching the first ones grow bigger and more independent. We're at the point now where everyone is capable of helping out in some way or another. When we put our minds' to it, we can really accomplish things.

Next year, the face of our family will change. Ms 17 yo will venture out from the fold and begin her own mountain climbing experience. She will still be climbing within the same mountain range, but it will be her mountain. A few years later, Ms 15 yo will be doing the same, and thus it will continue (as it should, of course!).

For right now, we are all still on the same mountain, nearing the peak, ready to cheer on the first one to leave the fold. It is quite a sobering thought. What will the future hold for our children? Are they ready to face it? How many times will they lose their foothold? Thankfully they have the rope of faith that will hold them secure to their mountain in the event they stumble. I pray it is a strong rope because I think they will need it.

I also think about what it will look like on our mountain as our climbers continue to leave to conquer their own territory. I don't think it will ever be lonely, as I have a feeling all of our climbers will come back to journey with us from time to time. Hopefully they will always stay within our view (even if we have to use binoculars :).

Anyhow, that's the kind of thing I've been thinking about as we pack up and put a close to one part of our life and move on to a new adventure. The journey may not always be easy, but, thanks be to God, the view continues to be spectacular!



Thanks, Dad, for the great photo!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Plate is Full!

God is good. He might make us wait in agony for awhile, keeping us on our knees until the last minute, but He always comes through. Since my post on decision making, many things have been going on around here; things that will continue to keep us hopping for the next couple of months. I sense that there will be a lot more quick-type posts over this time period, but then again, you never know what will pop up! For right now, here is an update on a few items of interest:

- ACT score came in for Ms. 17 yo. She did an excellent job, which means that over the next few months we will be trying to get some applications out and essays written, all the while praying for some good scholarship opportunities. Can't wait to see where God is leading her on this one!

- While some doors are opening, some big-time doors have been shut. We were kind of hoping to make a move about 12 hours south of here, but at this time that does not appear to be in the works. Instead, in about one month, (yes, right before Christmas) we will be moving 20 minutes east. Of course, NOTHING is packed yet, so you know what we'll be doing for the next few weeks.

As an aside, moving seems much more like an Advent event rather than a Christmas Octave event, doesn't it? I mean, what a great penitential act - packing up the entire contents of your house and barn and moving them down the road two weeks before Christmas. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. Could make for some interesting blog material ;)

- About a month ago, my husband, older three daughters and I decided to work together to get a bunch of new things going on my website. One of the projects we've started is to create a newsletter that will come out, hopefully, every 6 weeks. Volume One is slated for sometime around the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. (Yes, right around the time we are supposed to be moving :) If you haven't signed up for the newsletter yet, you can go here and do that. Once you sign up, you can download our FREE ebook entitled "10 Secrets to a More Joyful Homeschool".

-
I'm also supposed to be working on converting my workshop, "A Plan for Joy in the Home" , into a down-loadable workbook. I'm very excited about this project as it will mean the ability to share this information with a lot more people. However, I'm finding it very difficult to carve out the time to work on it. I had hoped to have it ready before Christmas...

- Oh yeah, Christmas. I suppose that will mean some shopping will have to be happening, too. Thank God for late-night internet orders! BUT, where will I hide things? What address will I have them shipped too? I can feel my brain starting to go into overload again...

So, welcome aboard our ride. I'm sure it will be filled with many joys as well as sorrows, but I know that through it all, God will be directing things in a way that only He can do. Please pray for us as we venture forth. I'll check in with updates as often as I can.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Wet Pants

I received this cute story in an email so I thought I'd share it here! Have a good day...

Come with me to a third grade classroom.......There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He
thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It's never happened before, and
he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they'll never speak to him again as long as he lives....



The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his
head down and prays this prayer, 'Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I'm dead meat.'


He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher
with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.


As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named
Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy's lap.


The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, 'Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!'

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful ... But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else -
Susie.


She tries to help, but they tell her to get out.... You've done enough, you klutz!'



Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, 'You did that on purpose, didn't you?' Susie whispers back, 'I wet my pants once too..'

Remember.......Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a
car..


Monday, November 9, 2009

Guardian Angel House

Another product that was sent to me for my review was this book, "Guardian Angel House" by Kathy Clark.

The book is based on the true story of the author's mother and aunt, and includes photographs and notes about her family and the Hungarian convent that they were sheltered in during World War II.

The book is subtitled "A Holocaust Remembrance Book for Young Readers". It may be written for young readers, but I have to say it kept me very interested from beginning to end. Myself and my four oldest daughters (ages 10-17) read this book and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It is written at a level that even my 9 year old son could easily follow, I just haven't handed it over to him yet :) Like I said, even though it is written so that a fourth grader can follow it, none of us were bored by the story or the level of writing.

The story follows the author's mother and aunt as young Jewish girls living in Hungary during the war. Their father is taken away to a labor camp, leaving them at home with their mother and baby brother. Finally their mother agrees to send them away to a Catholic convent for safe keeping. They join 100 other Jewish girls to live out the days of the war in the hills around Budapest, right by a Nazi outpost.

The story is mainly about Susan and Vera and their life in the convent. We see how the religious sisters in the convent risked their lives for these Jewish girls and how the Jewish girls bonded with each other and with the Sisters. They always have to be very careful so as not to draw attention to the convent. A few of the climactic points of the book tell about what happens when the Sisters find an unexploded bomb in one of their buildings as well as the time when the Nazis show up to search the convent for Jews.

A few thoughts went through my mind while reading this book. It made me realize that as I was reading it, all I had to do was to switch the word Jew for Catholic and I could see the same thing happening in today's world. There was a part in the book where Susan, while on her way to the convent for safe keeping, has this experience:

"She glanced through a large cafe window they were passing. Elegantly dressed men and women sipped their early morning espresso. At one table, a girl about Susan's age sat laughing with her parents. A mixture of longing and resentment filled Susan. The muscles in her throat tightened and she found it difficult to swallow. She, too, ought to be able to sit there with her parents."
The part that got to me was the "elegantly dressed men and women sipped their early morning espresso". Here we have Jews being taken away from their families and either worked to death or murdered, and people are sitting in cafes sipping their early morning espresso. The image sent a chill down my spine. Isn't the same thing happening in our country today?

Overall, I would say that this was a very well-written and interesting book. It would make a great Read-Aloud, too. I think that any average fourth grade reader on up could read this on his/her own. We followed up our reading and discussions of this book with the movie of "The Diary of Anne Frank". It was a great little unit study.



Friday, November 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes volume 33


1.

It's been a rough week - many things going on requiring a lot of brain power, thus making me exhausted. What better way to revive one's spirits than by laughing and what better things to laugh at than the things going on in your own household. Thus, the next couple of Quick Takes will deal with that.

2.

Awhile ago I posted this on Facebook:

Since we are to avoid the near occasions of sin, I've decided to stop trying to teach my children math!

My friend posted this reply:
Courage! Fortitude! Remember, you are the heart of your home, your husband is the head. Math is a head thing...so tell them to go ask their father!
3.

My Mass experience from Monday - the Feast of All Souls - one of my favorite feast days, mind you.

*Leave house late and pull up at church right when Mass is starting but realize that there are no other cars there.
*Send daughter to ask a workman if the Mass was moved across town to the Parish Center. Yes.
*Drive across town while trying to stay within the legally posted speed limit. Park car and fly into the building while Mr. 4 yo says, "I have to go to the bathroom". I say, "No you don't, you just went right before we left. You can wait."
*Get into the building to realize, on top of being late, that it is a Communion service. At which point Mr 4 yo is insisting he has to go. Me: "I don't know where the bathroom is and by the time we find it, we'll have missed everything. You can wait."
*Mr 4 yo proves that he can't wait. I feel like a jerk and then realize that I will still miss what is left of the Communion service because I have to find the bathroom, get towels and clean up the mess.

4.

Conversation on the way out of Mass that morning:

Mr 4 yo: "Why didn't you take me to the bathroom? You should have taken me to the bathroom."
Me: "I didn't know where it was!"
Mr 4 yo: "We walked right past it."
Me: "I didn't see it on the way in."
Mr 4 yo: "You should have turned your head."

5.

In the car the next day, we drove past one of those emergency sirens that was being tested, so I naturally had to explain what it is, why it is so loud, and what it is used for. In our neck of the woods, tornadoes are a frequent use for these sirens, so we had some discussion about that. Mr 4 yo then tells us that he is going to take his radio-controlled tornado and send it over to the building over there and run it right through the building. Ms 6 yo, intrigued by the thought of a radio-controlled tornado, asks, "Is it a plastic tornado?" Mr 4 yo responds in his 4 yo matter-of-fact-I-can't-believe-you're-asking-me-this voice "No, of course not, it's wind..."

6.
The speedometer on our van has decided to become temperamental. For about the first 1/2 hour of driving, it either registers 0 mph or 75 mph and not much else. I personally don't like driving a car when things are not functioning the way they are supposed to, but because this is the only car that fits us all, there are times when I must. My husband, who really means to fix this but because he only drives the van to church on Sunday and then doesn't think about it the rest of the week, hasn't had the time to do it yet. After complaining about having to drive without knowing how fast I am going, my husband gave me this sage advice, "Drive it by feel." WHAT? "Drive it by how fast it feels like you are going." "So," I said, "When I get pulled over for speeding I should tell the officer that I really didn't know how fast I was going, but it FELT like I was doing the speed limit?" At which point I would hand over my husband's cell phone number.

7.

I've written before about the surprise spiders I've found amongst my mail (unfortunately I can't find the post now) and how I usually scream and practically jump out of the car in my panic. The other day we pulled up to the mail box and it was COVERED in small black spiders. At least they were all over the outside and not all hidden inbetween the mail waiting to attack me in the car. "What do I do now?" I wondered out loud. "How will we ever get the mail out?" I settled on taking a paper bag and bunching it up and beating them all to death so that I could quickly pull the door down, get the mail out, slam the door shut and hurry up and shut the car window before they all blew in and attacked me in the car.

When we were pulling into the driveway, we noticed that the garbage can that was still out at the street was also covered with these small black spiders. Not even that, they were all over the house and the garage door, too. We even found some in the house. I must say that I never remember this happening before! UUUGGGHH.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The College Decision Part IV

Today brings us to the final option I have listed in my original post - the option most likely to raise eyebrows and bring out statements like, "What a shame, I'd really like to see her do something with her life". I'd like to address that one for a moment.

I find it very disheartening that "the world" sees little value in a person unless they have a piece of paper behind them. Why can't a person without a degree make something of their lives? Are they somehow less of a person? I'd like to think not. I'd hate to think that my worth in life is all because I have a college degree.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a good education. I'm all for learning how to stretch your wings and live on your own. But at what price? I have to wonder if you're really getting what you pay for. Obviously someone who needs the degree (like a doctor or nurse or engineer) has no other option. But isn't it worth looking into other options for people who don't need the degree? Would the student who could get a job in a field that interested them and work at it for four years not possibly come out ahead? It is an interesting thing to ponder. Of course there is no way to know for certain as there are many variables involved in this option. Still, I don't think it should be one that is discounted and frowned upon.

I know that there are other possibilities and options out there, but the ones I have listed are the main ones we are considering at this time. It has been helpful to me to put them all in one place to look back on and pray about. We have essentially turned it all over to God. Only He knows what is best for our daughter and somehow He will let us know which direction to choose. In the meantime, we'll do our part - investigating our options and praying about them - and hang on for the ride.


Monday, November 2, 2009

The College Decision Part III

The next option to consider in our College Decision discussions is the Junior College. We happen to have a sufficiently sized one in our area, so there are a wide variety of classes that are offered there. This would obviously entail living at home and commuting. As someone commented on the last post, why not go to JC and work, then go to a four year school? This is definitely an option we are considering.

The pros are, first and foremost, the lower cost per class. Obviously no room and board issues, either, but there would be minimal commuting costs. This option would allow her to, hopefully, find a job (a tough thing to find around here) and work part time while taking classes. This is an especially realistic option if she can't decide what she wants to study. No sense spending a lot of money to figure it out. Go to the JC for two years to take the basics and try to figure out what she wants to definitely major in before going on to the four year school.

The cons are mainly the social ones: living at home, no real campus life experience, etc. Also, she's taken one class there already and the book was just awful. We've heard stories about the kind of events that are promoted there as well as about some of the other teachers and classes. I guess it just irritates me that we have to pay money to get fed junk!

The fourth option I have listed in my original post (take a year off to volunteer and discern) might cause a lot of people to gasp. It is SOOO counter-cultural. Fortunately we are used to that. This advice was given to me by a friend of mine who knew Fr. John Hardon - a very holy man whose cause for sainthood is before the Vatican. His advice to high schoolers was to take TWO years off and do some volunteer work and discernment as to what the Lord was really calling them to do. I really like this idea. Fr. Hardon was a very holy priest, I have to believe that he knew what he was talking about.

The pros are that Ms 17 yo could really take some time to discern her vocation in life. The two years would be a time of maturing, so that when/if she did go to school, she would probably get more out of it. It could be fun to pick something you really enjoy doing and volunteer doing it for one or two years.

The cons would be that she would have to make sure that she actually did something, and not just let two years slip by while she was trying to discern what to volunteer for! Also, unless she were able to volunteer and still take a part time job, there would be no income.

Some very practical and good options listed here! Definitely a lot to think and pray about. The next time I'll touch on the work only option and then wrap things up. Till then, thanks for following along.