Monday, May 20, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
It has been the longest last couple weeks EVER! …Really, what have we NOT done?? There was the finishing up at our co-op and then Confirmation, then First Communion at our parish for which it was my class; in between our break, Mother’s Day and our oldest son’s college graduation. We return to our parish school of religion tomorrow for our final day of class and May Crowning ceremony. Then the next weekend is Memorial day weekend and we may be having some friends over to eat and visit after church that Sunday.
We have been finishing up school also; this means assessments for Mother of Divine Grace and standardized tests for the state. My third grader is completely finished with everything including testing. My 8th grader will likely be done at the end of this week, with luck! Then he will go to a home school formal on Friday evening, with dinner and games and dancing. It will be a nice way to end the school year. Next month this young man will turn 14! More on him in another post….
So..,my oldest son graduated from college, it was wonderful, and he left with his friend’s family and a few other friends in tow to head to Florida for a week+ and have a blast, and a much needed break from the last roller coaster of 4 hard years of work! I am just in awe of how a 18 yr old home school young man can hold down 2 jobs his first year, commute, participate on campus in a zillion things, and pull off top-notch grades. By his final year, now at age 22, he held down 3 jobs and continued to produce and grow his art work, do well academically, as well as build his radio audience. His fans really miss him – they had such a nice sending off for him the last evening he hosted his radio show. Now his sister has picked up a summer job as DJ for the college station, and has up to 20 hours already, and also works as a writing consultant in the college writing center, plus works yet another job in town. I will say my kids are workers and productive. Neither my husband or I could say we were anywhere NEAR as productive and working like they have through college.
But enough about those wonderful kids!! Yes, mother could go on and on gushing over them with pride :)
While our son has been gone, we snuck his car in for so much needed car work that he had just been too busy to get done. Surprise! Now it’s done, and we cleaned his car inside and out and got it shaped up for him – as part of his graduation gift. (Well, I did all of it) This meant a lot of work from momma today. I think this was THE most productive day in the way of housework, yard work and other things such as going to three stores, getting bills mailed out, preparing papers for PSR (vacation bible school!)…and doing loads of laundry and cleaning. I planted flowers…finally…and put down my mulch. Later today we started the fire pit and enjoyed it while tidying up the back yard, putting the finishing touches around the Blessed Mother Statue and St. Francis. It is looking like summer …after a long strung out spring….
And so friends, I just wanted to catch up with you as it’s been a while since I’ve really been able to write a piece to blog. Life is busy, life is moving, life is really very full lately.
Many blessings to you and thanks for stopping by!
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Isn’t she lovely? Yes, indeed…..thanks to Aquinas & More Catholic Goods for posting this beautiful image. May God bless all the dear mothers, and those who are mothers to others who may not have had children of their own, but who are certainly mothering many who are in need.
Friday, May 03, 2013
Two simple but powerful quotes for today; this first one from my Twitter:
MarcoRubio: Just when I thought I had seen it all,
#NYT Ed board says should have no age limit at all on morning after pill. 11,10 yrs old?
And this one taken from a friend’s status on Facebook:
“Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and wisdom.” M. Scott Peck
The second one seems to address the first one – if you are a person of integrity, Judeo-Christian values….
Pray.Pray.Pray. and take action where you can.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
…with my students at home.
At some point in our curriculum courses as we approach the end of grade 8 religion study, the student is scheduled to read, chapter by small concentrated chapter, C.S. Lewis’s “A Case for Christianity.” and asked to discuss it per the discussion questions/guide from Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum. This final course is the golden crown of jewels of the 8th grade Mother of Divine Grace studies. Just as the Advanced American Government & Economics course in 12th grade is the crowning glory of the Modg course of studies at the end of the road.
And so it is, I am on my third student discussing A Case for Christianity. It is so interesting to hear the insight they glean and how wonderful it is to have these discussions revealing truths in depth. It tells me how ready they are to move on into deeper material and know logically that the argument for Christianity exists and is valid.
When our values are so challenged today, all over the place and so blatantly and openly and rudely and without respect whatsoever…..I find the need to teach more thoroughly and live more thoroughly what our church teaches; not my own opinion…but authentic church teaching. This is why I find Modg’s religion courses integrated with history and literature so well done. My children graduate from 12th grade really knowing their faith. When my oldest son and daughter are able to answer the hard questions in religion classes at college, and the professors applaud them for it and say: “you are a Catholic that knows their stuff!”….I am proud that all those years at home paid off.
In the meantime, we are nearly done with our curriculum studies for the year yay! My 8th grader just has a couple weeks of math left, religion and history and all should be complete in two weeks time; then he’ll tackle his assessment and a standardized test. My third grader is down to just a couple more weeks of math, and a standardized test.
It’s been a very productive school year in so many ways! And another Confirmation complete for this family. (MIchael above with his Chrism forehead, and his sister beaming) I can’t believe we will be celebrating the one year anniversary of Mark having made his first sacraments already – wow! Fastest year ever!!
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Thursday, April 25, 2013
That’s a bittersweet title. The truth of it is, my son that has been in cognitive behavioral therapy for the last 4.5 years, with the same therapist due to his OCD /anxiety, is now going to be challenged by a change. This dear therapist who has been so excellent for him has taken a leave to spend more time with her family. She was not at liberty to reveal the circumstances, but it was serious enough that she is leaving a very well paying position in a mental health and recovery services practice she’s been in for many years, and when she called, she only had the remainder of the week, 2 days left, and she was finished. Indeed, my heart dropped at the news.
I swear I saw both my and my son’s lives flash before my eyes as she spoke to me on the phone that day……She asked if I’d like to look elsewhere for a therapist and she could give recommendations, or if I’d like to stay within the practice (my son’s psychiatrist is in practice there also), and I said we’d like to stay if there was another child therapist available. She recommended the art therapist who does what she does with therapy but also does some art therapy toward the end of the sessions. I thought that sounded pretty neat and as good a switch as any. So I’m hoping this new therapist will be a good fit for my son. Already we will be starting out a little rocky as it’s not our usual day or time slot….hopefully, once established we can schedule much further ahead for our more liked days and times.
Tony Shalhoub from the TV series MONK, the detective with OCD.
Although this is scary to me, changing therapists….as this son doesn’t take well to change at all, and not like the rest of us…I mean it comes out in OCD and highly difficult sensitive anxiety behaviors that are tough to work through….I’m trusting that God has a plan. I’m going to take a guess that the new therapist is Catholic. I saw her credentials and she attended Marietta College and Ursuline College here in Ohio. The last therapist was Catholic having grown up in a nearby town that was largely Catholic and attending Walsh University, also Catholic college. So she was understanding of a Catholic mentality and life style. It was amazing to me that our insurance would only cover a certain facility, and that given the chances of “beggars can’t be choosers”, what would be the chances of getting a Catholic therapist?? (and maybe even twice??)
I am going to look at this with an open mind and heart and assume that this is the person needed for my son to further his mental health and well being into his high school years and perhaps beyond….as he matures and grows and hopefully is able to get over a few of the hurdles he still has to work toward tackling. He’s come a long ways but there is always more work to be done….always a work in progress.
When my oldest son wrote his entrance essay for college admissions, he told in it how he and his siblings had been home schooled from Pre-K through high school and how his parents exercised a “freedom in this country to choose the education they felt was right for their children.” He described in detail how home schooling provided him the flexibility in high school to pursue more fully his own interests like art, and enabled him to travel yearly to Washington D.C.to be politically active, participating in the March for Life event. And so began his college career on the wings of having been home schooled with many opportunities available to him.
I would not be honest if I were to say it was all rosy and smooth sailing..er ahem..cough cough ……there were many days, weeks, months, where it was very difficult, still, where God has convicted one’s heart, there is always hope and joy, a will and passion for continuing onward. We knew home schooling through high school was what God wanted for us – it really wasn’t our choice, but it was our free will to say yes or no to what God was calling us to do.
If I could share anything about home schooling it would be the simple mantra: “just do it.” That’s it. Don’t look ahead too far, don’t look back too much, just stay in the moment and do what must be done. Set a course that is doable…like a semester, and see it through. Home schooling, like breastfeeding takes a little navigation at first, but once you really involve yourself in it completely and with commitment, it becomes second nature, you can pull it off. It isn’t rocket science, really it isn’t! So just do it.
Next, I would say, don’t be so ready to throw in the towel so soon. Like anything worth it’s salt, it takes time to see results. Depending on when you are starting or re-starting, it may take months to see the benefits. Don’t give up too soon (or ever…for that matter); just because something isn’t working right now, or your student isn’t enjoying it at the moment or moving forward, doesn’t mean it’s a wash; it’s anything but that. Sometimes progress is slow going…Home schooling is about mastery, so give it time, be patient. When my 3rd grade student seemed to hit a wall with long division several months back, and asked me to help him through division every time it showed up in the lesson…for two months….I didn’t throw the program aside and switch thinking he’s just not getting this!..he keeps asking me for help!…no, I just remained patient realizing he’s a different learner anyway…it was a sequencing challenge to him…the 5 steps of division plus adding in extra digits every so often. After two months of my having to sit with him to go over the problems, he finally stopped asking….he really did know it. From then on he never asked again…just worked out the problems, and has been getting them right. So, do be patient. Don’t be antsy to jump ship in curriculum or altogether.
Do take breaks and do fun things often with the family or friends for your children. Get them out and let them defragment from school school school. When you are homeschooling, it’s a 24/7 thing and it can seem daunting and endless to them, (and to mom too). Fixed time during the week brings a refreshment to look forward to. Be sure to not neglect school for other social interferences, but do not exclude getting them out into the world and doing something fun and a departure from the every day work of school. As a mother of two college students…I can say school doesn’t just end when they go to college….it gets more complex….and because I’m a fully engaged mother, not nosey, but connected to my older children and their studies within reason…and they consult with me often about school I feel more schooly than ever! like it’s never ending for 18 years and on..…So, I myself, like other moms need a fun time out there every week also. (Our local home school co-op has been a good diversion for getting out and among other peer-mates and participating in other activities.)
And so along with these thoughts to consider, consider your own commitment level….is it a 5, on a scale of 1 to 10…or is it a 10…or 10+? Are you in it for the long haul…or just tinkering with it until something you think is better comes along? If it is the latter, I can guarantee you won’t be home schooling long. If you have fears now, say anticipating high school, do your home work now. You have time to work out a game plan you can stick to through the high school years. Anything is possible these days with home schooling from Pre-K through high school, and in some cases, college. So, don’t let a lack of_________stop you. There is no lack of anything with home education any more.
These thoughts to consider have been brought to you by a concerned home schooling parent :) God bless!
Just remember: Just do it!
Homeschooling Books I recommend for that booster shot of confidence and wisdom:
Monday, April 22, 2013
Autism. It’s a word that has been in my family for many years now. My paternal cousin Robbie, now in his forties, has autistic disorder, and was placed in institutional care for many years. He lives in a group home situation and comes home on weekends. He is mostly non-verbal. I can’t imagine what life was like for Uncle Jim and Aunt Chris with five children, and the youngest being autistic, but I know they have given child raising their all.
Fast forward to 2003, the year my son Mark was born. Such a delightful, chubby baby – SOoooo good. The best, non-fussy baby I had enjoyed was Mark Thomas, our fourth child, our third son.
Michael holding Mark, 2004
During Mark’s toddlerhood we began to notice odd behaviors, like standing on tip toes in front of the t.v., flapping hands, and a lot of silence….Mark wasn’t beginning to talk, or at least form words….he’d babble and coo and rarely would cry, and when he’d cry, it was kind of more quiet crying..not the wailing out that most babies/toddlers do. Still, we thought: “different”, but thought nothing more.
I began to read and read about speech delay. I implemented some directed help in the home with sensory items and large body therapies (rolling back and front on a large sensory ball)….making the child use the non-dominant hand for painting, grabbing, holding things. Making a game of all of it. Soon, Mark’s speech began to emerge. In hindsight, I was most concerned about the speech….I felt if we could make that hurdle, we could progress with other therapies (professionally administered), and get thorough screenings.
Why did we not take him right away…for those professional therapies? Because at the time we were already dealing with an illness of mind and body in his brother four years older than him. Another son was diagnosed and being treated quite seriously and very often for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)/anxiety. We really had our hands full at the time; but were not lax; we did as much as possible in the home setting until we could find our way clear, and have his brother more stabilized and able to deal with what would be going on with Mark.
Mark on left, Michael on right, spring 2009
It’s good we have two very neuro-typical go-getter-motivated to take on the world older children….one graduating from college in two weeks, the other half-way through. They are the other “adults” of our household and when they are here, it brings a stronger sense of normalcy to my home and home life (and home school).
I pondered at times why God saw fit for myself to raise two special needs boys….when I felt I wasn’t even a good parent to begin with!…but was just fudging my way through…..I pray to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton …A LOT.
And so…I leave you with this link, to a small story written nearly a couple of years ago now at the Autism Site about my son Mark and his first diagnosis. To date Mark is doing very well. We continue to home school and apply particular targeted therapies in the home and elsewhere. We feel that the safe environment and top notch academics of home schooling, mixed with the selective outside activities, both extracurricular and social, are all any child needs to thrive and blossom in both personhood and ability to succeed in this world. Having three siblings before him, all home schooled, Mark is benefitting from an even more enhanced home school experience that has 17+ years to back it up. I continue to pray for the graces and wisdom needed to see it through.
Thank you for reading! ….for Mark’s story, follow this link:
Sunday, April 14, 2013
In helping the teens of our parish program prepare for the awesome sacrament of Confirmation, I am reminded of my own confirmation experience. In fact, I will never forget it. It was life changing for me. Truly the power of the Holy Spirit bringing to me all I needed to really overcome some hurdles.
It was 1974, we had already moved around southern California three times, to Arizona once, and back to California, and finally to Salt Lake City Utah. In 1973, I was in the local Catholic parochial grade school affiliated with our parish of St. Ambrose.
Because of all the moving (entering a new school district over and over), and attempting to “fit in”, “make friends” and become stable….I was very shy, very awkward and very much wanting to “bond” with people….but by now, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it….thinking we would once again uproot and move elsewhere, why bother? This was not all bad, because I had very much bonded with my Lord and God as the stability in my life.
Sixth grade was the grade for Confirmation in my Catholic school. The Daughters of Charity of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton were our teachers, mixed with some lay instructors. This was the BEST school fit for me so far. Although I was nearly two years behind in math (the California school system was that far behind), and needed to be tutored every morning before classes, by Sr. Veronica, this year was looking up. I was beginning to trust and thrive.
Can you spot me? That’s me in the back row, third from the left.
Okay, in walks awkwardness and it wasn’t going away…I went through four shoe sizes, grew two inches and my skin began to break out. Still, I was beginning to feel good about being where we were. I felt my spiritual life suddenly deepen and awaken in a way I hadn’t yet experienced….and I wasn’t even Confirmed yet. God had a plan, and I needed to trust it although I could not see the road map.
I’m not sure what was happening, but I knew it was all good. As the good Sisters prepared us for Confirmation and we delved deeper into the scriptures with Sr. Paule who was an authority on the letters of Saint Paul, my heart and soul and mind were truly awakened to Christ. Everything about the spiritual life was coming to fruition in me. At home my devotion to the Infant of Prague continued to keep me focused.
I recognized I needed the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a big way. If I was ever going to come out of my shell, forget my awkwardness, focus on other more important things outside of myself….and even play guitar….I needed an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for sure. I was thrilled and ever so ready to receive the Sacrament.
I chose St. Joan of Arc as my Confirmation name. I think it’s obvious why that would be! I needed a model of young courage and unselfishness, someone with great leadership skills! St. Joan was definitely that; on fire with the love of God, and ready to die for her faith. Yes. St. Joan it was.
I asked a neighbor to be my sponsor as her family was close to us, and we car pooled to the Catholic schools together and attended the same parish. Linda was a wonderful sponsor. Although we don’t live anywhere near each other now, we still stay in touch and are friends on Facebook today.
And so it happened….this wonderful conferring of this glorious sacrament with it’s outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and completion of baptism. I was in all the way. I was HIS all the way.
I was never the same.
I can honestly trace back to the day of my Confirmation as the day that changed my life forever…..for the better. Soon, I began to come out of that shyness, the shell…I began to play guitar publically at mass, in the classroom, for functions with others. I sang. I tried out for cheerleading…and I got it…and the second year, I also got it and was the leader of the squad. I ran for student office, and also was in that leadership role. I sang and played guitar at the mass at our local parish….every Saturday evening…for the next 8 years. The gift of the Holy Spirit saw me through those tough high school years….where I blossomed more in my courage and being outgoing, and sharing my gifts with others. My voice, my guitar, my leadership abilities.
So yes, Confirmation made a huge difference in my ability to share, give and outreach to others….that has continued to this day, 39 years later….
So, to say I’m thrilled about our young people receiving this sacrament is an understatement…..I am absolutely ESTATIC for them!
If I could tell the candidates anything…..it would be: be open to the power of the Holy Spirit. Let it pour forth and awaken in you all you need to fulfill your mission in this life….because God does have a plan for you, a unique plan. It involves your talents and gifts…so don’t be selfish with them, don’t gawk at using them to serve others.
Be open. Be receptive. Be changed.
+Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.