Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fun with Butterflies




A friend gave my son a chrysalis last week for a monarch butterfly.  As the week progressed and nothing changed, we kind of forgot about it.  Today, however, we noticed that the chrysalis looked a bit different.  Unfortunately we looked at it about 15 minutes later and there was the butterfly.  I was very disappointed to have missed the transformation, but the resulting butterfly was beautiful.  We gave it awhile to dry off before we let it go into the wild.  The bottom picture is the chrysalis after the butterfly had left.
 
 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Is something interfering in your homeschooling journey?

My husband and I just spent the past weekend with a couple thousand wonderful people.  I'm sure that sounds a bit odd, but we were at a convention where there were people who were joyful and full of hope and gratitude.  While it was not a convention of a religious nature, it was full of people who love God and are very faith-filled.

We heard stories of hope, many from homeschooling families, whose health had been preventing them in some way from caring for their family.  Stories from people whose children were suffering immensely or on the brink of death.  Stories of families who were able to work hard and earn enough for dad to quit his job and come home to be with the family full time.  It was enough to give anyone hope.

So I got to thinking about things that interfere with our homeschooling journey.  Many times it is simple things, like not being organized or being short on patience or just having a schedule that is way too full.  Granted, these things can be challenging and difficult to overcome.  Some of them can plague us for our entire homeschooling careers if we don't fight constantly to overcome them.

Other things that get in our way, however, are completely out of our control...a serious, sudden illness, the loss of a spouse, the loss of a job or income.  These things can devastate us and really put a halt to our ability to homeschool.  When that happens, we become desperate to find answers and pray for a miracle.

If you happen to fall into this last category of people, I can offer you hope.  After spending time with so many hopeful, faith-filled people, I'd love to share some of their hope and joy with you.  If your family is searching for an answer to an illness or financial problem that is getting in the way of your ability to homeschool your family the way you would like, just email me at Laura@catholic-homeschooling-resources.com and I'd be happy to share with you the hope that my husband and I have found this past weekend.

 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Preparing

Time is winding down...the clock is ticking...school will be starting soon in our house.  Maybe in your house it has already begun?  If so, good for you.  We used to always start by the 15th of August.  Not so, anymore, not so.  

We still have many things to do here before the new school year starts:

- Finish the high school transcripts from last year
- clean out and re-arrange the school room
- order our new books
- finish (or should I say, start) writing the next unit study
- go on a short vacation :)
- get Ms 19 yo ready and off to her sophomore year

I think that's it.  My plan is to get it all done in the next three weeks.  Sounds a bit impossible to me, but if grace prevails, it might actually get done.

In addition to the above list, some of us are undertaking some extra prayer and study to prepare our minds and spirits for the upcoming year.  For some reason, I think we are going to need it!

What things are on your to-do list?  Are you ready for the coming year?  Is your mind set and your heart at peace?  I sure hope so.  If not, there is still a bit of time left :)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

I have run into this word "perspective" a lot in the past week or so.  More than just perspective, though, I've been thinking a lot about how a change in perspective can mean the difference between anger and peace, defiance and acceptance.

I have been having discussions with friends about this change in perspective, too.  They've told some interesting stories about how a change in their perspective completely changed their ability to carry out a task or carry a load.

One friend told me about a time when eight of her twelve children came down with the stomach flu at the same time.  She said that for hours someone was throwing up and she was swamped with loads of laundry.  At one point she found herself standing in front of her dryer, as she put it, having a "mental temper tantrum", essentially yelling at God for letting this happen.

At that moment, however, she had the grace to say to God that as much as she hated this, as much as it was messing up her agenda for that day and the next, if this was His will, then she would do it.  A change in perspective.  From that point on she was able to carry out all of her motherly duties without a problem.

She could have begged God to take away the illness and make everyone healthy so that she could continue on with what she had planned.  Instead, she changed the way she was looking at the situation and found peace in what was ahead of her.

Another friend was telling me about a much more serious situation in which their family had to make a very important decision.  They kept looking for a way to change the situation when a priest told my friend that maybe what they needed was a change in perspective.  Another priest recommended praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet novena (the one prayed beginning on Good Friday) and so they did.  During the nine days, my friend had a very big change in perspective about the situation that ended up changing the entire situation and, at least for now, eliminating the problem.

I've been thinking about that in my own life.  There are a few issues I've been struggling with lately that I have been praying to change.  Of course they haven't changed (yet) so I am wondering if praying for a change in perspective about these situations will alleviate the problem.  


I know that my first inclination is to pray to have the situation changed and not the way that I am looking at it.  If we could just change the way we look at things and begin to look at situations and people the way God wants us to look at them, would that not bring peace to our soul, even if the problem or person remained?


School is about to begin and I know that this year I definitely need a change in perspective about certain aspects of it.  I asked God to change the situation and He was quick to answer in the negative, so I'm pretty confident that if I can change the way I'm looking at these situations we will have a much more positive experience.  Well, that's a tall order so I better get to prayin' :)


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Are You Called to Homeschooling?

I ask this question because I truly believe that homeschooling is a calling.  It is a calling because it isn't something you do for a few hours a day, it pretty much encompasses your entire life.  I don't say that to scare anyone away, but I think veteran homeschoolers would agree that you really don't ever get away from it until all your "students" are grown and gone.

When we made the decision to homeschool, we first looked at all of our other options.  I only knew one person who homeschooled, a good friend of mine that I grew up with and loved dearly.  Despite all of that, I pretty much thought she was crazy.

My husband grew up in the Catholic school system and I grew up in the public school system so we had a perspective on each option.  We decided right off the bat that the public school wasn't really an option we wanted to take, so we looked into the Catholic school option.  The nearest Catholic school at that time was a 20 minute car ride one way, which was something I didn't relish doing twice a day.  Besides the car ride, we had to factor in the cost of the schooling.

Once we really started to consider our options, I began to think that maybe my friend wasn't so crazy after all.  Well God took that little opening and ran with it because it wasn't long before we found a homeschooling group, rearranged our family room and bought our materials.

We've been homeschooling now going on our 14th year.  While it hasn't always been easy (actually, I don't think it has EVER been easy :) I am so grateful that this option was available to us and we took it.  I can't even begin to count the blessings that have graced our family over the past 13 years because we have homeschooled.

If you are contemplating this call to homeschool, my advice to you is this:

1. Pray with your spouse. Consider doing a novena together
2. Talk to veteran homeschoolers
3. Find a  support group in your area
4. Start out slowly!  If your children are young, don't dive into the hard core subjects and load them down with workbooks!  Get them to enjoy learning at an early age and your job later on will be much easier.
5.  #4 also applies to families who are pulling older kids out of school.  Give yourself and your child(ren) time to adjust to this change.

Homeschooling can be a very rewarding experience.  Take your time in discerning whether this is the right step for your family and each year reevaluate this decision.  Things change in families all the time so understand that this might not be a life-long path for your family.  As long as you keep prayer at the center of your life, you will be able to discern God's will for your family as it pertains to homeschooling!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Listening

One of the roles that God has destined me for in my life is that of a listener.  I stopped fighting it long ago, since my natural inclination is to want to talk.  I found that, instead of talking, God wants me to listen to people...so much so that it isn't very often that He gives me words to say back to the person who is confiding in me.  It can be very frustrating at times, but I've come to the conclusion that if God wants me to impart some wisdom to the person I'm listening to, then He will send it to my mind.  If my mind is blank, that's my cue not to try to conjure up anything.

There is a downside to being a listener, however, and that is that many times I don't have anyone to listen to me.  It's funny how it works out, but often times people don't want to hear your troubles, they only want to tell you theirs.  I'm okay with that, because God, in His goodness, has given me a few people in my life who will listen to me when I am troubled.  I figure this is probably for the best, since if a lot of people listened to me I would just complain WAY TOO MUCH!!!!! 

There are times when something is on my mind and the only "person" who really understands my struggles is God.  While it is hard for me not to vocalize these troubles to a living person, I know that God really does understand all about the situation at hand.   What amazes me in these instances is how He answers me.


Today, for example, while I've been pondering over an issue that I'm not really sure what to do about, He sent me two different people to tell me about issues in their lives that really helped to shed light on my problem.  It took me awhile to realize what had happened, but when I took the time to reflect, I noticed that each person gave me a piece of information that really helped me.  I love how God can turn things around like that.  He can use other people telling me about their problems to help me with my own. 


I guess I'm just glad that I was listening instead of being so wrapped up in my own issues that I didn't catch what was going on.  God can be so subtle sometimes in how He answers us, that we have to be "tuned in" at all times so that we don't miss anything.  How many other times have I missed something that He was trying to tell me because I wasn't really paying attention?  Too many to count, I'm sure!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"The Hunger Games"

It isn't often that I do a book review, especially on a non-religious, fiction book.  In fact, it isn't even very often that I allow myself the time to read them.  However, this past Saturday I stumbled upon this book by chance.


Ms 19 yo had ordered the series from the library and we picked it up while we were at the Farmer's Market.  Since things were a bit slow, I picked up the first book and started reading.  Unfortunately, once I did that, I'm afraid I may have lost some soap sales, as I was far more interested in the book than I was in selling soap!


When we got home, it didn't get any better. We had to leave for the rest of the day and got home late so I didn't get anymore reading time in that day.  Fortunately my husband was on retreat this past weekend, so I did have some extra time on Sunday.  Of course, by then Ms 19 yo had also started the book so we took turns throughout the day reading it.


This book was fabulous.  A page turner from beginning to end.  I understand that they are making a movie about the book, too, due out next year.  I sure hope they remain true to the book!  I think what is so compelling about this series is that it isn't that far-fetched.  Read the books, look at the world and you can't deny that this is something that can happen.  It is compelling, scary and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time.  The other nice thing is that there is no bad language and nothing x-rated.  I sure hope that stays the same way in the movie, too.


Yesterday I finished the second book because Ms 19 yo, who is a slightly faster reader than I am, finished the first book and threatened to take the second book with her to work today.  Not being able to bear the thought of the book being gone while I hadn't finished it, I stayed up late and got it done.  Today, I am forcing myself to get work done before I really get into the third book (because, of course, I already started reading it at breakfast!).


As a side note, a really good book is great for exercise motivation, too.  I took it with me on the treadmill yesterday and before I knew it an hour had gone by.  I should have that kind of motivation every day!  


If you're looking for a great series to pass some summer time with, I would highly recommend reading these books.  I'm just glad we have all three books in the house so that there isn't any down-time in between them.  I better hurry up and get started, I'm sure Ms 19 yo will have devoured book two before the day is out and will be breathing down my neck for the third before long!