Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lost in Translation

Me to seven year old: Go tell your brother and sister I am going to take my shower then I am going to get breakfast ready so they need to get going on their morning routines. 

Seven year old yelling up to her brother and sister as she heads upstairs: Mama's gonna take a shower and then pour the cereal so get going!

Since when did "get breakfast ready" become "pour the cereal".

Is that not the best bowl of cereal you have ever seen? It's all in the presentation. 

Someday they will tell my grandchildren "Grandma could pour the BEST bowl of cereal ever!"

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

5 Things I Love

...about Homeschooling. 

I got the idea for this post from one of my favorite bloggers: Jamie Martin and Simple Homeschool. This is not my definitive list--the things I love about homeschooling change often. But here is what is on my heart now. 

1. TIME! 

I get to be with my kids all day!
Admittedly, this is the challenging part too. There are no breaks for the homeschooling mama--unless she can find a good helper/sitter or has family nearby. While we have the sitter (we didn't in California), our families are too far away for more than occasional visits. 

But, back to the GOOD PART of being with my kids all day. 

I get to be there when they do new things. 
I get to know what they did with their day, 
                                          what they were thinking, 
                                               what they were laughing about. 

I get to be there when they sin, to help them turn to Jesus. 

When we lived in England and M and D were about 5 and 3 respectively, I thought I should send them to this little Montessorri school in a nearby town for a few hours two times a week. Sounds like almost nothing, right? 
She says she is dressed for "study time"--funny how she looks like a kid going to school with Laura and Mary Ingalls. This is the one who DIDN'T go to school.  

But, I grew to hate it. I hated not knowing what went on for three hours of their day. What did they say and do? What brought them joy that day? Did they need a hug, and couldn't get it? Did they have moments of confusion or sadness? 

They were too young to really tell me much. And I felt like I was missing chunks of their lives unnecessarily. 

I pulled them out and never looked back. 


Freedom to choose our daily routine. Right now that means daily Mass. It means grocery shopping in the mornings, instead of afternoons. It means swimming most afternoons. It means reading aloud at lunch everyday. 

Freedom to take off whenever we want. Recently, that meant visiting our friend Fr. Tony Anderson, SOLT in Corpus Christi (here is an article written by him about the amazing work he is doing in Mexico)
It meant the kids met priests, brothers, and sisters, doing regular stuff, praying in the chapel, wearing their habits. 

Freedom to read or not read the books we choose. To watch or not watch the shows we choose. 

Photo taken by plastic army man in Lincoln Log fort. He has spied the enemy. 
And yes, freedom from peer pressure, homework, pressure to keep up, mean kids (not that all kids in school are mean, just that it is hard to avoid the few that are when you are on the playground). 


I love learning new things with them. I love sitting down and reading a book in the midst of kids

Meditatio: Thinking about shapes and how they fit together. 

drawing, playing, reading. 

I love getting a question from a kid and turning immediately to find an answer. 

And THEY spend time learning, playing and talking with each other. They are each other's best friends!

4. LIFE!

Just now, the 9yo and the 7yo washed the breakfast dishes, dried them, AND put them away. They don't do it everyday (though maybe we will start now), but they CAN and they WILL. 

The two older kids love to cook together. It brings joy and pride (the good kind) to my heart to see my kids break, mix and cook an egg all by themselves. 

Of course, you don't need to homeschool to have that, but it certainly gives you much more TIME and FREEDOM to do it!

I also love seeing my nine year old son follow a plumber, electrician, or other working man around the house watching everything he does, and learning. He asks question, and usually doesn't pester. He gets a chance to value all kinds of work. 

In fact, being out and about with the kids gives them multiple opportunities to interact with adults in all lines of work and life. 

Talk about socialization!


Really, one through four end up fostering one huge thing I want from my children and for my children. 

A close relationship. 

They love each other, and love to spend time together. Sure, they argue. But there is so much time to make up and get back to the fun stuff.
"No, I want to be in the picture by myself."
And I hope to lay the foundation of good communication with me, their father, each other...for a life time!

Again, you don't need to homeschool to foster a good relationship with your kids. But, it is much easier when they are around you a lot. 

Besides, I find a have a better chance of counteracting all my parenting mistakes and weaknesses with good stuff!

So--what do you love about homeschooling?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Just An Hour

Yesterday, we spent a blessed hour listening to my former professor, Dr. Scott Hahn, while he explored the Scriptures to understand what Jesus meant by "the hour".
My hour has not yet come...
The hour is coming...
The hour has come...

Really, it is so much more than that. 
This talk lasts only an hour and I think it makes a perfect occupation for this day of rest...
at least your body can be at rest while you listen. 

Having been a student of Dr. Hahn, I know the impact of one of his talks. 
It can be overwhelming. 
In fact, when I was in his class I always felt something like this:

But, what I learned to do is sit back and listen (I stopped taking notes in his class early on) and just absorb. 
I will never be able to "get" all he says, but I still get so much each time I listen. 

The talk above is not one I had heard before, though there are elements that I have heard. 
I will likely listen to it again, though. 
Maybe today. 
I hope you enjoy it.

Blessed Sunday to you. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

"You must choose, but choose wisely."

It was born then, this idea that I must have books, not only for our children but for Abigail and myself. We must not lose touch with that we were, with what we had been, nor must we allow the well of our history to dry up, for a child without tradition is a child crippled before the world. Tradition can also be an anchor of stability and a shield to guard one from irresponsibility and hasty decisions. 
(All quotes from the character Barnabas Sackett in To The Far Blue Mountains by Louis L'Amour)

It is amazing how the wide availability of books has been a norm for a relatively short period of time in terms of human history, and yet they have become indispensable to basic happiness in life. A child growing up in a house without books is a child deprived of a basic necessity. Yet even today, children are raised without books in the house--and not always due to poverty, per se. 

But for most of the children raised in this country, books are plentiful. They can be easily gotten out of a library, they are all about them at school, and they can buy cheap ones at the corner convenience store. Yet, 42% of college graduates will never read another book after they graduate (if you can trust the statistic…but even if it is close, it is tragic!)

What books then? They must be few, for the luggage of books is no easy thing when they must be carried in canoes, packs, and upon one's back.
While some of us have trouble housing all of our books, I suspect that most people with books in their homes have a bookshelf or two filled. A trip to the local library or bookstore will reveal shelves and shelves of the latest books on every subject under the sun. It is hard to even imagine having to pare it down to a handful that will last you a lifetime, or at least a few years till you can find more. 

     Each book must be one worth rereading many times, each a book that has much to say, that can lend meaning to a life, help in decisions, comfort one during moments of loneliness. One needed a chance to listen to the words of other men who had lived their lives, to share with them trials an troubles by day and by night in home or in the markets of cities. 

There really is nothing better than a good book. One that can be read again and again. Sometimes I feel like I go through books like TV shows--living in that world for a short time only to leave it and forget it utterly. "Have we seen this episode before?" "Did I read that book yet?"

But, then there are those books that you read again and again, or if you don't reread them, you at least re-live them. And you can't wait to share them with your kids. 

Is it possible that in today's world we have too many books? Is it possible that it is too easy to get a book to print? 
Would more young people continue reading after they leave school if there were fewer choices? If books were more rare, more dear?

Not every book is worth reading. Many are at worst harmful, and at best a waste of precious time. 

The Bible of course, for aside from religion there is much to be learned of men and their ways in the Bible. It is also a source of comments made of references and figures of speech. No man could consider himself education without some knowledge of it.

     Plutarch aslo. My father, a self-educated man, placed much weight upon him. He was, I quote my father, urbane, sophisticated, and intelligent, giving a sense of calmness and consideration to all he wrote. "I think," my father said, "that more great men have read him that perhaps any other book." 

If you had to carry on your back the books you would read for the next 5 or 10 years, what would they be?  

Bonus points if you guess what movie the title of this post is from.

Friday, July 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes: The Desperate for Something to Blog About Edition

When I asked 7yo A what I should blog about, she said I should blog about "the most beautiful doll in the world", which she recently discovered at the bottom of a pile of other (more expensive) dolls and doll paraphernalia in the window seat of her room. 
She has been gushing over this doll for a whole day now. I think she is going through a "girly-girl" stage of some sort--her stuffed animals have been having romances and weddings and children all week. 

Speaking of A, I found this list of quotes from her in my drafts email folder:

May 3, 2012 
" I am going to make a paper earthquake to destroy my sins. And then get monsters to attack them"

March 17 2013 "Saying sorry is like leaves blowing in the wind" as a reason for not saying sorry.

April 12, 2013 "Do bullets kind of look like cigarettes?" (this was followed by shocked looks of wonder from her parents---what has she been watching on TV???)

April 12 2013 
Me: "Stand quietly, like you are ready for your First Holy Communion"
Her: "Yes, but did you know that a giraffe can clean his nose with his tongue?"

April 2013
"If aliens were real what would their bandages be made out of?"

Life with A is always interesting. 

When it comes to eating healthy, I follow the 80/20 rule. For instance, this week I have had a donut, a pastry from Starbucks (okay, maybe two), multiple servings of ice cream, multiple cups of homemade chicken broth, daily tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar, daily cups of Potato Peeling Broth, fresh ginger, several salads and some other regular food.
The problem is, I am not always sure if the HEALTHY is the 80 part, or the 20 part. 

Oh no, I am only on #3!! This blogging everyday is hard. I am not sure I have that many things to say!

This is almost an entirely A post today...but I had to talk about A's pet. Yesterday, she found a little snail on a log, named it Mushroom and made a little plate with grass and stuff. Then she checked him at least every 10 minutes until we left the house. Well, when we got home, he was gone and she was devastated. She looked for him all afternoon.

Just now, she was telling our pest control guy to "watch out for a little black snail with a little scratch on his shell, which he got before I caught him cause I didn't hurt him, and don't let him die, okay?"

Luckily, he is an easy going guy, and didn't feel pressured to save her pet. He cheerfully reassured her that the snail was underground by now, hiding from the heat. So, no worries, he says, she will probably see him in the fall when it gets cool again.

I am positive we will be dealing with this snail drama in two months again.  

In the spirit of simplicity, which is the latest fad in the mommy blogger world, I have distilled my homeschool curriculum plans down to this:

Step 1: Read books.
Step 2: Talk about them.
Step 3: Repeat
OOOHHHH NOOOOO! Now what do I write? Quick take...quick take....Ah!

I am going to go on a date with my husband today. It is always weird to say that because we don't think of ourselves as ever having dated. We met virtually, we met in reality, he courted me, we got engaged, we got married.

Now we date.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Summer Learning Edition

We have had some fun learning projects this summer that I haven't shared yet. 
These are not in chronological order, 
they are in {phfr} order. 
Today I am joining all the lovely ladies at 
for the weekly {pretty, happy, funny, real} party. 


Here are some of the beautiful creations from our paint-your-own pottery excursion with some friends. This picture does not do them justice AT ALL. They are really quite colorful and very beautiful. 

The color is a little better here. 
The day we picked them up, our friends came over and we had a little pottery show and snack time. Of course there was lots of playing going on too. I wish I had pictures of the kids, all decked out in various costumes climbing all over our dome in the backyard. 


Happy and focused faces....

working hard on creating a unique piece of pottery. 

It really was a fun day and, as much as we loved our {pretty}pottery and day of showing it, the actual time spent creating was wonderful. There were great lessons in making a plan, persevering (the plan always takes longer than you think), expressing yourself, encouraging your neighbor....and, of course, the economic lessons "No, we can't spend $60 on that cute dog statue...we have a budget for the day"

Given that last lesson, we won't be doing this activity often. But, we have definitely learned that it can be a fun birthday outing, or special once a year activity. 

Both times we were in the pottery studio, we saw groups of young ladies (probably 14-18 year old) painting some beautiful pieces. What a great, wholesome idea for that particular set! 


 Marshmallow Math
Math You Can Eat
Giant Mom attacks tiny dome house. 
Earlier in the summer, we made geodesic domes out of toothpicks and marshmallows. That project was a spin off of the building of the climbing dome in our backyard (see below). 
In the picture above, I was trying to take a picture from inside the dome to give a different perspective. I didn't mean to be in the picture. 

So after we did Math You Can Eat we did Math You Can Climb On


The final product, not fit to eat, but fun to look at (until they must be tossed in the trash to avoid ants).

round button chicken

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Name Day, Come for Dessert

I have this old book. I have had it since I was single and dreaming of having a family and all the great liturgical year things that I would do. 

Here is what my imagination looked like: 

Actually, that is a picture from the book---got an idea when it was written? 

The book is full of lots of neat ideas for celebration, and choosing, name days. Choosing can be difficult for some (like those with Marian names) because of the abundance of feasts. For others (like people named Carol) it is more difficult. 

But I learned that there is a feast called Our Lady of the Carol. Of course no one seems to know where it came from or what it refers to (a vision of our Lady....on Christmas? Or is it just a title of the Blessed Mother that became popular in Paris?)

But today is D's name day. St. Declan was a predecessor to St. Patrick. He was a bishop in Ardmore, Waterford, Ireland. We were able to visit there back in 2008. There is a well that was said to have had healing powers, and a "camino" that leads from St. Declan's Monastery and Cathedral (now only a ruin, but where St. Declan is thought to have been buried) in Ardmore to The Rock of Cashel. It is called St. Declan's Way or "The Irish Camino". On our trip to Ireland we drove from Cashel down to Ardmore and stayed on the coast for a few days, exploring and getting to know D's patron. 

Today we got up early (really early) to make it to Mass which was followed by donuts. This evening there will be a special dessert and hopefully, if I can get it together, a special prayer to be said. 

St. Declan of Ardmore, Pray for us

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Imagine you are living in the first century and you have heard rumor of this new religious sect. There are people who claim their rabbi not only rose from the dead but that He is the Son of God. 

If you could talk to these people, first hand, what would you ask them? How would you challenge their beliefs. What do you think their detractors would say? 

Interesting meditation, that. 

Well, Michael O'Brien has used his great knowledge of 1st century history, geography, and culture to do just that. His book Theophilos imagines what St. Luke's friend, the one to whom he writes, may have thought and done in response to Luke's new life. O'Briens imagining of Theophilos is truly timeless. He struggles with the same doubts and questions that any agnostic of any age might have when faced with Christianity. 

I am still barely half way through this long story, but I have really enjoyed it. And it has launched many rabbit trails to the dictionary or encyclopedia to find out what something means or when something happened. I highly recommend it!

This is not my first Michael O'Brien AND it isn't the only one I am currently reading. In my stack of books I also have A Landscape With Dragons by Michael O'Brien. Rather than his usual long novel, this is a treatise on children's (and youth and adult) literature, especially fantasy literature. He gives lots of examples of good, bad, and gray area fantasy. He makes a case for the importance of this genre while helping the parent approach with caution. There is even very wise advice for the prayer life of parents, and their spiritual approach to parental decisions and problems. 

Another two thumbs up!

Day 2, conquered! 

Go see all the other daily-blogging-warriors at Conversion Diary.

Monday, July 22, 2013


My mind has been on books lately. Part of the reason for that is that we are enjoying such great family reading these days. And since I can't seem to join in any of the What We're Reading meme's (because I keep forgetting), I will just start my own today. 

Here is our current list: 

We are reading two book aloud as  family most nights: 

To the Far Blue Mountains by Louis L'Amour
The story of Barnabas Sackett and his adventures in both England and the New World in the early 1600's.

Saint Louis and the Last Crusade  by Margaret Ann Hubbard
We have been reading these Vision saint books during our family prayer time for several years now. Just this past year or so I began recording my reading each night. We now have three saint books and both our Advent and Lenten read aloud recorded!

The Silver Chair by CS Lewis
During our lunch or tea time the kids and I have been reading from the Narnia series (skipping the books we had read in the past: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Dawn Treader). I think we have one left after this. 

Carry On Mr Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham, narrated by Jim Weiss. 
It was a sad day when we finished listening to this recording of the classic book about the famous (at least I think he is famous) navigator of the late 1700's. It is really the story of a young boy who learns how to "sail by ash breeze" and that carries him through a lifetime of study, learning, and achievement. It is very inspiring, though sad at times. 

Forget the movie, get this one at Audible! Before Carry on Mr. Bowditch, there was Bilbo....
and Gandalf, 
and Gollum

"What's he gots in his pocketses!"
sorry...couldn't help myself.

You must get the ONLY UNABRIDGED RECORDING, narrated by Rob Inglis. 
Talk about sadness when the book is done....we were practically distraught! And very tempted to continue on to Rob Inglis' recordings of the Lord of the Rings. 
But, these kids are not ready for that yet. Too soon. 
By the way, our rule for these movies is "you can see the movie when you have read the book on your own."

This blog post has gone much longer than I expected, so I will save the rest of our reading (my personal reading and Jim's books) for another blog post. 

Day 1, conquered! 

Go see all the other daily-blogging-warriors at Conversion Diary.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

And Don't Let Me Forget It!

I have decided to take the challenge, from Jen at Conversion Diary. I WILL blog everyday this week, starting tomorrow. 
Or really today. 
But today is just to say that I will blog tomorrow. 
I swear!
If I don't forget.....
Don't let me forget!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Look Who's Lounging!

Right the corner of the pool. 

It is Fourth of July weekend and even the squirrels are lazin' around the pool. 
This little guy had just chased away another squirrel minutes before. 
We figure he is letting his neighbor know who rules the pool!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Independence Day Links

Here is a great speech by Rush Limbaugh's father about the fate of the founders who had the courage to sign the Declaration of Independence.

Here is an idea for your Fourth of July Celebration.

Here is another idea for your Fourth of July Celebration, perhaps a little simpler.