Saturday, January 30, 2010

Emily's Good News

The sun is shining here, finally, and even though it is still cold, it feels so good to have the warm sun beaming down on my face! Mr 4 yo had the nerve to ask me to shut the drapes because it was too sunny in the room! Take a hike buddy, it's time to sunbathe.

Anyhow, since everyone always likes good news, I thought I'd share excerpts from the latest email from Emily's mom. Get your Kleenex ready and thank God for His goodness.

Start the cheering and lets celebrate Gods incredible mercy. Emily got her PET scan results today. They were PERFECT. No cancer anywhere. We can finally shout We Got a Miracle!!! We had to patiently wait for this final test. Boy patience is not my strong point. As a matter of fact, if you pray for patience, God does not just suddenly make you patient. No, he gives you lots of opportunities to help you learn patience.

This is one story I never knew I would write. It is a story about a young woman, my daughter's, courage and faith. It is a story that made us laugh and cry all in one paragraph. From fruity pebbles to ethyl shots my dearest Emily, you have been an inspiration to us all. We could only cheer for you on the sidelines, while you ran the race. I didn't know that this would be the race of your life. I remember you told us that if you could give one person a reason to believe in God, your suffering was all worth it. Well my dear, I believe you got your wish. You changed my life forever. Just when I thought I had already changed so much since my youth you helped me grow in 1 short year. My greatest lesson was patience. I wanted you to be better right away. I had to learn patience. Next, I learned about humility. I learned to let others take care of me and not try to do it all myself. Finally, I learned to trust. I had to walk my faith. I couldn't just say I believed. I had to really believe. I had to love Jesus even if it meant losing you. He really became my best friend.

I believe you gave hope to a lot of people. I think many people reading this will remember your courage. When difficult times come, maybe we will not fear but instead remember to simply trust and believe. Emily, in your darkest hours, you never stopped looking towards Heaven. Now Heaven is looking down at you. They are watching to see what wonderful things you will do with this second chance you have been given. We will all be watching and cheering for the girl who never stopped believing.

Now Emily, Go change the world. I believe in you and I love you.

See, I told you you'd be crying. Have a great weekend and give your family an extra big hug!

Friday, January 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes



1.

Wow, it has been a long time since I have participated in 7 Quick Takes and I'm having a hard time remembering how I used to come up with 7 random things on a weekly basis. I'm sure I still have as much to say, I just must have had more time back then to put it into somewhat coherent thoughts.

2.

This past week Mr 4 yo made the connection between the fact that we have seven kids in our family and there are seven dwarfs in Snow White. The older kids, who had already made that astonishing connection, informed him of which dwarf everyone was. He has the honor of being Dopey. And an honor to him it is...he has so far insisted that at his 5 yo birthday we are to sing "Happy Birthday dear Dopey" to him and he walked out of church the other morning telling everyone his name is Dopey. Ah the innocence of children.

3.
While I was looking for a picture of dear old Dopey, which I found at this Disney website, I came across a description of Dopey's personality:
Dubbed "Dopey" by his brothers, this loose-limbed dwarf has never spoken a word; as Happy explains to Snow White, "He never tried." But Dopey isn't really dopey, he's just childlike. Is it dopey to try and steal a second and third kiss from Snow White on your way to work, or to make yourself tall enough to dance with her by climbing on Sneezy's shoulders? Not at all. Dopey's a genius at fun and games (and a whiz at the drums to boot). He just doesn't mind looking silly along the way. So what if he wiggles his ears and shuffles his feet to his own skippity-skip beat? He's simply being himself, and that's pretty smart.

I had to laugh because it fits Mr 4 yo pretty well! He loves to give me multiple kisses, he doesn't mind looking silly and he definitely walks to his own "skippity-skip beat". Funny how that worked out!

4.

We had our annual Father Daughter Ball last weekend and I had the honor of taking pictures. What a great time. What struck me the most as I sat there later and edited the pictures was that all of these girls, dressed in their finery and dancing with their Fathers, are beautiful. What's more, it comes across in the photos, not so much in their physical beauty, but in the joyfulness that radiates from their eyes and their smiles. Purity and modesty are beautiful!(and sometimes, even a little goofy :)


(Can you tell they are all part of the Little Flowers Dance and Theatre Troupe?)

5.

College update - Ms 17 yo has been accepted to the school of her choice and so now we await the tax returns so that we can enter into the next phase - the FASFA forms. I trust this will all work out the way God intends...

6.

We've been jumping around here lately. In addition to the usual school, I've partnered with a friend of mine who makes awesome soap and has chickens that are laying profusely, so we've been helping her market her soap and her eggs (leave a comment if you're interested in a soap brochure). I've been acting as a "consultant" to the three eldest girls as they work on a major project for their Little Flowers club: they're putting together a unit study but I think I'll wait to reveal what it is about!! In our spare time, my husband and I have been looking into changing some things around on my website and adding a feature that will allow visitors to contribute their experiences and stories. I am so excited about that as I think it will add a lot to the site. No wonder I can't think of anything to blog about. There is no room left in my brain to think of things!

7.

Well, I know you've all been anxiously awaiting the news of my first "dear" dinner. Last night we had tacos with venison and the consensus was that they tasted like.....tacos. There you have it. Nothing bad, nothing gross, nothing gag-like. All that worry for nothing. Okay, so they were a little bit chewier than a regular beef taco, but beyond that we all liked them. Next week....BBQ venison in the crock pot. Have a great weekend!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Deer - The Frozen Chapter

FYI, This post is part of an ongoing series about our family's seeming obsession with deer...

There is a deer in my freezer and...I.am.afraid!

(I think it is important that you know that no one in our family, other than my husband, has ever eaten anything wilder (more wild?) than a turkey.)

My husband cannot figure out what has come over me. He brought the various edible parts of the deer home to our freezer this past Friday and I have been a nervous wreck ever since!

Why, you ask??? Well, it might have something to do with all of the varied and strong opinions I've heard from people about the act and art of eating venison. Let's see, some words that stand out:

bitter
tough
dry
chalky
DON'T OVERCOOK IT!

I don't know, those might have something to do with it. How about this:

"If there's venison in that lasagna you're making, I'M NOT COMING."

"Are you putting venison in the lasagna? Did I tell you we can't make it for dinner?"

These people were willing to forgo Ms 14 yo's birthday dinner because they thought I might be putting deer meat in the lasagna! I had to promise (something I rarely do) that I would not do that.

So here I sit, realizing that I've run out of ground beef and knowing that this coming week I have to cook this stuff, but paranoid that I'm going to screw it up big time and everyone is going to run away from the table gagging and we will have to go hungry rather than eat the rest of the meat that is in our freezer!

I would certainly appreciate your prayers this week :)

Anyone know the patron saint of terrified cooks?




Friday, January 22, 2010

A Happy and Sad Day

For the first few years of my marriage I was definitely a "two kids only" kind of woman. My husband, God bless him, was very patient with me; at that time we were having trouble having ONE child, let alone two. It was after baby #2 that God intervened in my pre-set plan.

One of the first issues we had to deal with post-conversion was the issue of children. Should we or shouldn't we have more? and if we shouldn't, then how don't we?? You know what I mean...My conversion happened when my second child was about 8 months old. That really put me in a quandary. I mean, my heart was now open, but I was definitely afraid.

One of the first things my husband and I did post-conversion was to sign up with the Living Rosary Association. We were each assigned one decade of the rosary that we are to pray every day. Mine was the third Joyful Mystery - The birth of Jesus. I took that as a sign to go for it.

Our third daughter, and our first post-conversion child, was born about 1 year later on this date, January 22nd. The irony of the day did not pass by unnoticed. I considered my little pro-life baby to be the next sign of what God wanted from us as newly excited Catholics - embrace life...have more children...fight the pro-life cause. Hopefully the four additional children and the 14 years of praying and fasting and working for the cause have helped in some small way.

So today is always a day of happiness and sadness for us here. Happiness as we celebrate the wonderful life that was given to us in our dear daughter, now Ms 14 yo; and sadness as we realize that there is still so much work to be done to end the scourge of our nation - abortion.

Ms 14 yo is open to the calling of a religious vocation...I can't help but wonder if God might be calling her to a pro-life order? Time will tell, but until then, Happy Birthday Ms 14 yo and may God have mercy on our country.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

School Teacher Arrested

This was too cute not to pass along! Enjoy :)

A public school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a compass, a slide-rule and a calculator.

At a morning press conference, the Attorney General said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-Gebra movement. He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction.

'Al-Gebra is a problem for us', the Attorney General said. 'They derive solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in search of absolute values.' They use secret code names like 'X' and 'Y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.

As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle'.

When asked to comment on the arrest, President Obama said, 'If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, he would have given us more fingers and toes.'

White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the President. It is believed that the Nobel Prize for Physics will follow----

Friday, January 15, 2010

Deer Hunting 401 - Advanced Level

With three days left of the 2009-10 hunting season, my husband finally got a deer. Since he typed up his story to share with hunting friends, I asked if I could reprint it here. Of course he said yes, so here is my DH's 1st deer story (with my commentary in this nice italicized print...kind of like the whispering you hear at a golf tournament!)

Over the past two weeks we noticed that deer travel out of the neighbor's woods behind our home, through our yard and cross the road to the harvested corn field for evening grazing. This usually happens between 5:00PM and 5:10PM and there have been as few as 5 but more often a dozen crossing the yard at one time. I began to call it the evening parade. When we first noticed this, (Ms 13 yo) would get all excited and yell why don't you just run out there and shoot one. Laura would ask why don't you? My response was, "Sure, I'll just dash out there and shoot a deer. It is not that simple." (As an added tidbit, earlier in the week, the neighbor-lady called her husband up at work - both of them hunters - to tell him about a big buck that was in their back yard. I asked my husband if she got it. His response to me was, "You don't just walk out of your house and shoot a deer." "Why not" I still wondered, so naive am I to the subtle nuances of deer hunting!) So here is how it happened. Not the typical deer camp story that one would read in a hunting magazine.

Success yes, a hunt, that could be questioned. It was more like a spontaneous reaction. Yesterday afternoon I stopped work and went upstairs at 4:45 to make a cup of coffee. At 4:55 I told (Mr 4 yo) that he was on look out for the 5PM deer parade. As I was telling him to look out the back window, two deer walk into the yard. All I said was that they are right on time. I set my cup down (thus about to break a very important rule of hunting: a hunter is only allowed to smell like a female deer in heat or dirt, NOT COFFEE!), didn't say anything to anyone mostly because I was a bit grouchy (slightly understated :), I walked out to the garage put my coat on and picked up my bow. As I was walking out of the garage I decided to stop and take my slippers off and slip my boots on (I wondered about that), skip the gloves I'm not going to b out there long.

Not quite dressed in proper hunting attire (that is for sure. After reading and studying hunting for the past 1 1/2 years, he had the nerve to break one of the foremost rules of the sport - never go anywhere to hunt unless you look exactly like a tree! I suppose he looked mostly like a tree, except for his legs and hands and face which looked very much like a person), I proceeded to walk to the front corner of the house (the front corner of the house? What about that nice hunting blind that's sitting in the backyard??? You know, the one that looks like a tree?). As I looked around the corner sure enough they were gone. No surprise. Since it was warm out, relatively speaking, I decide to wait and see if the 5:10 parade was scheduled for today, and it was. Two deer walked out into the yard, stopped and looked in my direction but didn't notice me (can't imagine how they didn't notice that half person standing next to the house!). Then the larger of the two walked farther out into the yard and stopped and looked again. I estimated it was 32- 35 yards out. I thought, "This is a long shot for me but if I don't shoot now in about 2 minutes it will be too dark to see it." Nothing ventured nothing gained, so I took a deep breath, quickly drew back, I could barely find my peep site on the string in the dark, set the 35 yard pin on its vital area and squeezed the release. At the sound of the twang it bolted. I thought, well at least I got a shot off this year, I'll consider that progress from last year. I was certain that I under shot and missed (seriously, here, don't let his modesty fool you, he really is a good shot! After all, he's killed all the animals so far on the Wii Cabela's Hunting game - even that pesky mountain lion!)

As I was turning to walk back to the garage I looked back at where the deer had been standing and noticed a large dark smudge in the snow. That was not there before, so I walked out to investigate. I noticed a large blood trail back into the trees. That was a good shot! I walked backed up to the garage, it was 5:15 by then, Laura met me at the door, curious as to what happened. She and (Ms 13 yo) were watching out the bedroom window and were not quite sure if I shot it or it just ran away. I told them I would be late for dinner because I needed to go track my deer. With the assistance of (Mr 9 yo), my neighbor, who is a very experienced hunter (with a very wise wife!! but more on the wife connection later), and a pair of flash lights we found him - a six point buck, laying in the neighbor's woods about 80 yards away from where I shot him. (Mr 9 yo's) job was to hold the flash lights while our neighbor demonstrated for me how to field dress a deer. By 7:00PM it was gutted and ready for a photo shoot.

So why did I tell you all of this (thanks for hanging in there. This is where it gets really good!). First, because this was my first successful deer hunt and second, I guess sometimes it pays to listen to your daughter and wife's idea of hunting (Can we get a replay on that last sentence???): Just wait inside and when you see one, run outside and shoot it (what wisdom. I told you it makes perfect sense.) So that is what I did. Success!

(I'd like to add another lesson we learned here that ties in to this post: always be prepared and knowledgeable, but definitely be ready to be flexible!)

It's me again and in all seriousness, I'm very proud of my hubby. He's waited a long time for this moment. I mean, really, the most important thing isn't how he got it, or who instructed him, but that he did get the deer. Look at the smiles on their faces....


doesn't that make it all worth it?????

Monday, January 11, 2010

Always Moving, Going Nowhere

Does this sound like you, too? I'm still trying to figure out what precisely is going on. After our crazy November/December, I felt like my body was craving a schedule again. I got the schedule set but have yet to fall into it. It's been acting kind of like a trampoline: I try to step into it and I bounce right back out.

The worst part is that my while my must-do list keeps getting longer, I feel as if I'm getting nowhere. My mother-in-law was over the last week to see the new house and she pointed to a nice cozy corner by our book shelves where we have two nice, comfortable-looking chairs set up.
"Oh, that looks like a nice place to sit," she said. It was at that point that I realized that I had never sat there.

So what is going on? My feet hit the ground in the morning and I collapse into bed at night and I wonder what it was that I was actually able to accomplish?

Everyone up and dressed? Yes.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner? Yes.
Beyond that? I have no idea.

It is times like these, when I am getting so frustrated with running in circles, that my Guardian Angel taps me on the shoulder and whispers, "Remember what your mother said." AH Yes, the sage advice my mother gave me back in college when I would call her and lament about how completely overwhelmed I was with everything.

"Write it all down on a piece of paper," she would tell me time and time again.

So today, that is what I began doing. I have a spiral notebook where I try to write down all the important stuff, so in there I have my "Things I Must Do Very Soon" list going. Then I went a step further and made a note pad out of scratch paper. At the top of each page I wrote one day of the week; and then I started writing down EVERYTHING that I must remember to do on that day.

For example, today's list included:

~ the names/pages of the papers I had to photocopy
~ the "consequences" I had dished out to my son (I always seem to forget those:)
~ phone calls I had to make
~ appointments we had
~ school items that I needed to do
~ things from my "list" that I felt I could accomplish today

And you know what? It made a difference. I was able to keep on track and I actually can see that I accomplished things today. As of this writing, I only have three things left to do! Not too bad, since they're relatively quick items to accomplish. Thanks, Mom, for being so wise!

So let this be a little tap on your shoulder, too. If you've been feeling like I have - you're always moving but going nowhere - take a few moments and write down everything you can think of that you feel you need to do. Then, take a deep breath and break it down into smaller chunks. Start with the things you have to do on certain days, and then look at what is left and see if there are times when you can fit some of them in. I think you'll be amazed at how much this helps.

Now at the top of tomorrow's list is: Call Mom and thank her!


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Being Flexible

Just coming into the new year, you might think I'm referring to the flexibility of the body. However, if you are a homeschooler, than you might just be on the right track in thinking that:

Homeschooling is all about being flexible!

We can plan, we can organize, we can strategize, but if we can't be flexible than we are likely to be miserable.

Case in point:

Monday, January 4, 2010

  • Sit down with each child and figure out where they left off and where they need to go.


  • Spend time writing out this week's schedule in each of their planning datebooks.


  • Get to bed on time so as to be fresh for the first full day of school.


  • Tuesday, January 5, 2010

  • Get everyone up on time and provide them with a hot, nutritious breakfast so that we can be ready to tackle the first day of nicely planned schoolwork.


  • Ring the bell at 8:00 and get everyone started on their work.


  • Go into my bedroom at 9:00, pull up the shade and notice the dead deer that is laying across the end of our driveway.


  • Forget the nicely planned schedule of organized schoolwork, throw on some winter clothes, grab the camera and head outdoors for some biology, physics and physical education classes! (We had to figure out how to move it off the end of the driveway so no one hit it again :)


  • (Really, it did throw off the entire morning, but I figured, how often does an opportunity like this come by. Unfortunately, the deer was hit by a car sometime last night and not by my "aching-to-kill-a-deer-before-hunting-season-ends-soon" husband. We figure it was one of the 11 deer we saw in our yard Sunday evening.)

    Back to my point. I could have been upset that a good portion of the time I spent on Monday was already blown by 9:00 on Tuesday, or I could choose to be flexible. I decided long ago that it always works out better for everyone to choose the "flexible" option! One of the true joys of homeschooling is when we can take advantage of the educational opportunities that God drops in our laps and not be so worried about what we had planned.

    Hope your new semester is off to a good start, too!


    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    Welcome to 2010

    I can't say that I am that sad to see 2009 come to an end - it certainly had its ups and downs. However, we must always count our blessings and look forward to what God has in store for us in the future. What will 2010 bring? Whatever it brings, I just pray that we can be prepared to joyfully do the Lord's Will.

    One thing I know for sure is in store for us, starting tomorrow, is getting back into the swing of school. Let's just say that with the whole moving thing and Christmas and New Year's, well...we've been off for awhile. I'm trying to mentally prepare myself to get back into school-mode.

    While we were packing and unpacking, I had a chance to see all of my school-related books in one area and it was fun to get reacquainted with some of them. For the past two years, my school books and I have been in separate areas of the house, which really didn't lend itself to using them too often. Now, in our new house, all our books will be in the same room with us and I am looking forward to picking them up and utilizing them as the wonderful resources they are! Just thought I'd give you a peak of where we'll be "living" for the next 5 or 6 months (is that how long it is until summer???):


    I'm excited to be in new surroundings and I'm hoping that they will help us to get through the dreaded February homeschooling slump!

    Since I knew that we would be moving mid school year, I planned our curriculum with more self-directed type of books (aka workbooks) than I normally would. Now that we are settled, I'd really like to get back to doing some more unit studies. Once my brain gets back into gear and I figure out what they are going to be about, I'll post updates.

    My other educational goals for the next few months are to get back to turning my organizational workshop into an ebook and working with my daughters on producing some Catholic based unit studies. God willing, we will be successful at this.

    I pray that your new year and new semester will be a blessed one, too. I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of things, which will include being here on a more regular basis.