Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I have a son who has longed to learn java programming language, but we just weren't finding the right situation.....until the other day.  Home School Legal Defense in conjunction with Homeschool Buyers Co-op, sent an offer I couldn't refuse!  What luck, what providence, that this email shown up in my inbox bright and early while I sipped my coffee.  I simply could not believe it.  Mod Design 1, java language, 30 course hours, design your own Minecraft mod.  Wow! THAT was so much what we were looking for and more.....plus 40% off as a co-op buyer member. This excellent offer directed us to:  Youth Digital.

We just began school and my son is thrilled to be doing this programming course. I will report more another time.

Our Lady of Czestochowa: The Black Madonna

Our Lady of Czestochowa: The Black Madonna

Friday, August 22, 2014

All Good Summers must come to an end….

I had a very lovely dinner with my PSR (Parish School of Religion), family yesterday evening.  We started with a meal, done by our resident local chef, hosted by our Knights of Columbus, followed by our much needed kick-off meeting packed with new information regarding curriculum and child protection procedures. Only four teachers couldn’t make it – that’s pretty much record attendance :)  So I am very pleased that we were able to bond, meet the new teachers, and discuss highlights all in a most pleasant atmosphere.

This means our Sunday school season is about to begin, the weekend following Labor Day weekend. 

I am so grateful we have some new teachers and returning teachers that are very committed.  We need that – all programs need that.  After 22 years of teaching 2nd grade at the parish level, it doesn’t get easier, in fact, I’m beginning to look for my replacement.  I would gladly help in the background, and still direct the program, overseeing the Child Protection Policy, sacrament preparation, ordering of curriculum, and  step out of the 2nd grade position.  I’m leaving it to prayer and God’s plan.  I just know that there is someone God is placing the desire and vocation within,  to step into this position, and they will make themselves known, soon.

In the meantime, my own school season at home is about to be underway, beginning this next week with our high school son beginning his on line Geometry course (Jacob’s Geometry, Euclidean).  I am just thrilled about his doing this with a Mother of Divine Grace teacher in a cyber classroom, because while I did do it with my previous two students solo, I love that the classical part, the Euclidean part can be brought out more.  Yes, Jacob’s Geometry is Euclid’s Elements brought to lay people, so to speak.  It does teach geometry, but with more focus on how to think  (through the proofs), rather than just getting the answer.  How to think well, training the mind, and teaching the student “how to learn” is key to classical education.

We need more people in our society that can think well.  It has become more clear to me as I age, that the shallow stripped down education of the culture definitely is trumping everything in its path, including sanctity of life, human dignity, politics, health care issues, the Christian faith in general, and the Catholic faith most particularly.  Catholics are faced with difficult times in that they stand for the tough issues, the issues that have morphed into politically correct issues.  Those issues you have to be accepting of, tolerant of, “you’re a Christian!…love your brother!”, these kinds of dysfunctional accusations pour forth when a Christian stands their faith ground on moral issues – and society doesn’t like it.  Society doesn’t get his way…resulting in attacks on Christians.

There is a lot wrong with this picture.  It will take another post for another day.  But please pray, pray, pray, for those being martyred for their Christian faith beliefs,  and offer your own personal persecutions endured here in the USA, for those Christians, those Catholic Iraqis (Chaldeans – original Roman Catholic Communicants in Iraq), and others being martyred in that region of the world.  May the hatred end.  May the people be protected.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Carpe Diem

ThinkingSpringinLegoClub

Summer is surely fleeting….although I’ve been preparing for our new school year slowly but surely throughout the summer, I have more recently begun to get our school courses really ready, our home clean, some  cooking/freezing done, and stocking up on school supplies.

As I pour over the curriculum, pulling select books off the shelves, taking inventory of supplies, I realize how much I have adored being able to impart an excellent education to my children.  What a blessing.  How did this happen??  How is it my heart grows ten times bigger with gratefulness and awe each year? While it is a lot of work, it is work that is worthy and noble; it is full of depth and breadth and heroic effort.  This moment makes me want to stand up and applaud every parent out there that has done this, is currently doing this, or has an inclination of stepping up to the plate and giving it their best shot.  

PffmeEasterFamImage

If anyone would have told me 30 some years ago, I’d be married in Ohio, with four children and home schooling them, I would have never ever ever believed it.  Home schooling wasn’t even something on my radar, wasn’t even something I knew anything about.  I was still playing in bands and singing and traveling; I was working a very amazing job at the Utah state capitol and just living in the moment from day to day.  Now, I wake up and realize how God used those experiences to bring me to this place in my life with my own island of people. 

Wow, does God work in mysterious, or what?  Really, HE has a plan…and if you are just open to it, it unfolds beautifully in his timing and perfection.

I know I don’t want summer to end, because….well, I’m selfish and it was a long hard ugly winter, and I know I personally need a super long mental health day summer to recoup.  But, at the same time, I am thrilled to be able to school my own children with a beautiful classical education, giving them so much more than just subjects to be filled in, crossed off on the transcript. 

I am also so grateful that I can let my kids, be kids.  That means the teens can continue to be carefree, with some appropriate responsibilities of course, but not the pressing issues that secular society dictates to them in this culture. Girlfriends, boyfriends, sports.  If your teen life doesn’t consist  of  those ….then you are weird, or nothing.  It’s not what education is about. My children can relax more and prepare more deeply, with consideration and prayer, their God given vocation in life.  After exposing them to noble thoughts, amazing characters of history, cultures and languages, truth, and all that has come before them…they have such a more broadened view of the world and their place in it.  Giving them personal meaning through Christian studies, and how cherished they are by God, helps lessen their burdens of this sometimes very stressful and demanding existence.  They realize their existence is purposeful and meaningful.  Everyone has a place in the choir.  Every person is important.  As the Eleventh Doctor (Doctor Who) so thoughtfully express: “I’ve never met a person yet that wasn’t important.”   Believe it. 

So, as summer winds down, and I prepare to teach again the classical repertoire and Christian studies to my own family, I feel a deep poetic beauty and connectedness to this fascinating world of ours……to our maker and His creation, and to the particular clan of people He has chosen to put me with on this chronological timeline of His making. These are the kinds of feelings, I like to grasp a hold of revel in  forever…..savoring them and keeping them safe in my heart to open up again and again, as a pleasant reminder of a life blessed.    

GettingReadySchoolYearBooks

Bring on the books!  Carpe Diem!

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Schultüte

I know I’ve shared about the lovely tradition of the Schultüte before, but it’s worth sharing again.  I mean, anything that says: “chocolate” or “candies” or “sweets” in the description is worth sharing, right? 

I will begin some school supply shopping soon – and for the first day of School at home, I really like to brighten it up and make it special for my children.  While I haven’t always given a precise cone shaped Schultüte, I have given a special box or bag with lots of goodies.  However the cone shape item is still my favorite and I do like to construct my own; my difficulty lies in doing it in secret and hiding them……

This awesome little website, KinderCone,has made Schultüte getting and giving all the easier.  You can order pre-filled ones, or empty ones to fill yourself.  How nice is that?

And while I really don’t want to say good-bye to summer quite yet, I do need to plan ahead, because the start of our school year will be here before we know it.  And yes, older students can enjoy and benefit from a  Schultüte also, filled with say….a scientific calculator and geometry tools, their favorite chips and snacks and gel pens……Schultüte is not just about the Kindergarten folk :)

Friday, August 08, 2014

Keep praying

The things I feel grateful for lately seem so frivolous compared to the basic freedoms of the people in the middle east.  While Christians in the middle east are being systemically killed, men, women and children, in a horrific genocide I feel pathetically helpless and frozen, wondering what will our government do?  Just today I saw a news headline regarding the President having okayed humanitarian air drops.  That’s all fine and good, and yes, we have to do something ….I realize are military was just pulled out of that area and all hell broke loose.  Who on this planet is going to return there and help them?  I know this has been going on for literally centuries, back and forth, waging war against one another. .I just pray and pray and pray for those that are truly innocent and good people.  What horrible persecution of Christians, penalty of which is torture and death, even of the smallest child.  God please come to their rescue.  I have to believe if the scriptures were to be written today, these stories would be included because they are so monumental.  Could a new Moses arise to set these people free?  Send them someone Lord.

Meanwhile we are moving through our daily lives with an enormous amount of free will, many choices and freedoms that I think we take all too much for granted.  When I think about how I, how we, can just go about our way each day, grocery shopping, stopping into the church, reading our bible, or proclaiming outright on social media snippets of scripture, or saying God’s name aloud……I realize how free we are.  Each morning I arise to this freedom, with hardly a fear in my heart for anything major.  Yes, we have the unexpected things, tragedies, accidents, heartaches and heartbreaks, which are part and parcel of every one’s life.  But this country, our country,……think how we can count our blessings, in contrast to the larger world.

So when we quibble and complain and whine about every last little thing…..let’s not!  Let’s instead put in our mind’s eye the image of those families across the globe being so traumatized and stripped of any of life’s comforts and beauty; families torn apart, being cruelly treated, tortured, killed for their very existence, because they are a different culture, live in a conflicted area, or are Christian; Christian….something we take for granted here.  When we are persecuted or believe to be targeted as Christians, through health care reform, or by atheists or secular society’s prevailing viewpoint and pressure,  we are still so much more free than the person on the next continent. 

I know it is not perfect for every one, I know some people are born into a poverty or abuse that doesn’t end…but I know, we aren’t kicking the underdog either…and if identified, these people can be helped, help is there for them, no matter what race, religion or creed they profess.

So, my whiny post about summer going too quickly, not being hot and humid enough, and how horrid the last winter was, and how we need more nice weather to make up for it…….and how I really don’t want to start school too soon…..It is all turned upside down on its head.   The freedom to even home school, and hold off and not even start until say October if I want….is a generous freedom.   I am so much in control.  There are laws that protect my interests in ways that would seem very indulging to others’ feeble freedoms in other countries.

Grateful doesn’t even describe it.  Indebted to how God has put me and those I love on this timeline in this era and place….is forever written on my heart, and yet my heart weeps a great pain and sadness for those others that find themselves in places other than this land of the free, home of the brave.  May God stop the horror in those places.  May God heal the people, his people, every where.  May God make Himself truly apparent and reveal His greatness and send a miracle.

A miracle is what is needed.  And God can supply it.

Keep praying.

Monday, August 04, 2014

"We do not want a church that will move with the world. We want a church that will move the world." (G.K. Chesterton)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Words worth reading…My favorite Books

I’m not sure why I have been devouring copious amounts of books this summer, but I am loving every minute of it.  I am more busy than ever, and yet I find the time to read – at least I have my priorities straight, right? :)

Smile  I think I have long neglected my reading self, and it’s now catching up on me.  Sure, I read the lesson plans and some snippets of literature here and there pertaining to our home school ~  I read the headlines, the social media news feed, and my prayer devotional/scripture. 

I have blogged recently about several good books that have crossed my path and I have very much enjoyed them, and enjoyed sharing them with others.

I just spoke to a mother with a special needs child last night and help formulate her educational plan, and I referred her to the book Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child, by Cheryl Swope, which I just adore. I think it gives mothers of special children such hope and lightens their hearts with joy that these special children can receive a more excellent and beautiful education. 

When I read, even for pleasure, it just has to be edifying and deep, else I feel I am wasting my time.  There are so many out there with their minds in the gutter, unfortunately.  The old saying, you become what you surround yourself with, bears such truth.  I wish to elevate and enlighten myself, so even with fiction, and am very picky.

So, I thought I would post here some of my “books worth reading” that are my all time favorites, those that have changed my life for the better and changed my perspective of things (not necessarily in order of prevalence):

The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch

The Gift of Fear, Gavin de Becker

Protecting the Gift, Gavin de Becker

Children of the Last Days books by Michael D. O’Brien (not a left behind series!….this is a series you can really sink your mind and soul into…)

 

There are several more also if you follow the link above…..

Grace-Filled Moments, Johnnette Benkovic

Forming Intentional Disciples,  Sherry Weddell

Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, Laura Berquist

Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child, Cheryl Swope

The Way I see It,  Temple Grandin

If Aristotle’ Kid Had an Ipod, Conor Gallagher

Finding Family, Richard Hill

Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster (yes, a children’s book, my favorite all time book – a joy for adults to read also :)

Finding the Meaning in the Second-Half of Life, James Hollis

My favorite read aloud series to my children – all the Oz books, 14 of them; and if you get them, get the vintage reprints with gorgeous artwork by John R.Neill; a few samples here and links:

Ozma of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Glinda of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Remember there are 14 in the series……..

And lastly, many books from Bethlehem Books, but a few of our favorite are: Bantry Bay, and The Mitchell’s series…. fun for adults and children a like to read aloud.  Anything by Hilda van Stockum, in my opinion is worth reading and owning. You must own A Day on Skates: the story of a Dutch Picnic! – so beautifully written and illustrated by this amazingly talented woman!

Happy Reading!