St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Friday, December 03, 2010

For Everything There is A Season

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”…(Eccl. 3:1)

“I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. He has made everything beautiful in its time; also He has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; also that it is God’s gift to man that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil.” (Eccl. 3:10-13)

 Dear Sisters,

I hope you enjoyed a very beautiful and blessed Thanksgiving with your families. The holiday seasons give us many opportunities to create memorable experiences for our families while focusing on our faith. Family traditions are rich in warmth and joy and forge long lasting happy memories for those that experience them time and time again. In fact, I recently heard that gifts involved in experiences will not be as memorable as the experience itself; the smells, the atmosphere, the social aspect, the feeling. Creating positive joy filled moments for our children to recall in later years will cause them more happiness than “things”. Relationships with other people, family and friends, will be the most meaningful inventory they can own and love.

One tradition on my husband’s side of the family that we have enjoyed for many years, is going out to eat at a buffet with his father, sister and brothers and their families a certain Sunday in December for our Christmas gathering. The children look forward to it more than any item they could receive; it seems the togetherness (and food!) trumps the materialistic aspect. It’s the sharing, the story-telling and joy in joining together in a meal with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins; in a word: atmosphere. This makes Ecclesiastes all the more meaningful; how wonderful it is written into God’s plan for man to enjoy life and be happy, “also that it is God’s gift to man that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil.” Smile here :)

Charlotte Mason, one educator that I am particularly fond of, said that education is “ Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” Atmosphere is something we can change to our advantage. With home schooling, we can sometimes grow tired or frustrated…changing things up on occasion can be refreshing and just what we or the children need. We can tap into “atmospheres” of learning all around for our children (such as that at our Checcs co-op weekly), as well as “create atmospheres” in our homes. These learning environments are safe havens in which we can supply our children with learning materials and tools to help tap into our children’s God-given potentials. I think there is a great connection between creating atmosphere and our children’s potentials….atmosphere being another way to bring out potentials. While looking through the recent Apologia 2010 Catalog, there was an ad for the book: 7 Tools for Cultivating your Child’s Potential by Zan Tyler. The description reads like this: “Educating children and developing their potential are inextricably linked. In Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential, Zan Tyler helps parents recognize signs of each child's potential that may be easy to overlook and emphasizes the importance of family and home in the lives of children. This book will help you discover more ways to help your kids develop a godly identity, discover their purpose, and build leadership skills.” Naturally I am intrigued by this book! As a home educator I am always looking for ways to develop potentials in our children. We are not given a map or instruction guide with each child, but we know that God has gifted each child with wonderful abilities and talents and I know I feel a duty to help cultivate those hidden treasures in my children, for only God knows where He is leading each child, we can not see what special place, career or vocation God has planned for each individual, because of this, I feel I must stay open to possibilities and be broad thinking in terms of education – giving and guiding my children as much as possible and letting them also go off on rabbit trails of learning where they seem most interested.

Atmosphere…Potential….it’s a little bit of a rabbit trail of its own, isn’t it? It would make for a good side-study for mom during the long winter months ahead.

In this season of awaiting the celebratioof Christ’s birth perhaps you can adjust the atmosphere just a bit in your own small corner of the world.  You might not be the person in charge of climate control, but you have more control over the climate in your own home and school than you think! You can make pleasant changes that can lead to better focus and joy in your household.  Give up your anxieties to God; don’t panic at the big Christmas countdown….that’s a secular pressure that Christians really need no part of. Decide right now to give it all to God.  Ask God to guide you through the busy days ahead that you can feel peace of heart and mind.  Then, receive the gift of Christ with all your heart and mind and soul and know that this is a gift that will never die or go away….it won’t only be a good memory, or feeling, it will be eternal happiness.  When we keep our sights on eternity our atmosphere changes …..we bring a little bit of heaven to earth.

May God bless you and your families with Peace, Joy and Love this beautiful season ahead!

Your Sister in Christ,

Friday, November 19, 2010


Dear Sisters,

As we approach a day of Thanksgiving, we can reflect and recall the times that perhaps we haven’t been very quick in being thankful, perhaps taking things for granted. Maybe we take certain people for granted, maybe family members; perhaps we expect too much and are not grateful for what these people do bring to us in this earthly life. Maybe we take comforts, or our husband’s work, our own work, or food for granted ….have you ever been hungry?….truly hungry….wondering where your next meal will come from?....or going without your real needs, real necessities being met day to day? We may be made to feel uncomfortable on occasion, but for us it may be fleeting and moments of discomfort or hunger are soon satisfied. But for countless others discomfort and hunger are a daily occurrence.

Recently, in talking with a friend, she reminded me how the holidays are hard on some children in our nation, because when they are sent home from school on break, they encounter days of either very minimal food or no food. I recall my niece in her first year of teaching having a student in upper middle school who dreaded the holidays for precisely this same reason: home without food for several weeks. My niece’s heart was broken for him.

I have found that home schooling families are usually so generous about giving of their time and resources - in helping out in their churches and communities regularly. I am grateful to be part of a community of educators that strive to live the gospel message and impart this message to their children. Our values become our children’s values when we not only preach them, we act upon them (and in some cases “enforce” them). When we talk honestly to our children…and as home educators we have them more hours in the day to do so……we are able to imprint a Christian value system within them. We can integrate Christian principles throughout our curriculum and we can join with other families that respect what we are doing and know and appreciate the energy and circumstances involved in our commitment to home educate.

During this season of Thanksgiving, you could reflect on how we are a pilgrim people, in a sense, exercising a freedom to include God in the education, formation and rearing of our children. If small pockets of pilgrim people continue to rise up among society and form generations that are self-less, intelligent, God-fearing and hard workers….think what good will be spreading throughout our nation.  While home education has certainly gathered more publicity and interest and colleges recognize the students as ready and able….it is still seemingly a rare person these days that recognizes the sacrifice of home education and yet home schooling is a common good to society.  Think about that for a while:  Home schooling works for the common good of society.

While we might not be able to change the entire world, or even our own town for that matter, we can make a difference one person at a time. We can bloom where we are planted. What a comforting thought! Perhaps that one person might very well be your own child(ren) witnessing how you act upon God’s commandment of loving neighbor, feeding the poor, clothing the naked.. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers…that you do unto me…” (Matt. 25:40 or the entire passage: 31-46)

During this season of Thanksgiving strive to grow a little closer to your family in gratefulness; do more with love as your guide and not just “it has to be done” repetition. Perhaps there is a more challenging child in your home that needs more of your time and care, with their school work, with the daily grind, or just coping with life. Include your family in doing something that will benefit others who are less fortunate and light a spark in your children that they in turn will do the same and take that message with them for the remainder of their lives.

Be grateful, praise God. Thank Him in every way, every day.
 Happy Thanksgiving

Lord, take away my bitterness and pettiness, fill my heart with your grace and gratitude.  Help me to see all the ways I am blessed, and appreciate the many ways I am undeservedly blessed. Cause my heart to overflow with gratitude and praise for you!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I think I can!

"Yes, indeed!" said this little steam engine. "I'll be glad to help you, if I can."
So the little steam engines started back to where the train of cars had been standing. Both little steam engines went to the head of the train, one behind the other.
Puff, puff! Chug, choo! Off they started!
Slowly the cars began to move. Slowly they climbed the steep hill. As they climbed, each little steam engine began to sing:
"I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I-think-I-can! I think I can - I think I can - I think I can I think I can--"
And they did! Very soon they were over the hill and going down the other side.
The Little Engine that Could – 1930
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nov 11, 2010
Dear Sisters,

How I recall being pregnant with my third child and truly feeling the weight of the pregnancy, pushing myself through the days. I remember the overwhelming tiredness while sitting alongside my second-grader and taking him through his math lessons and listening to my kindergartener recite poetry. I remember how I’d stand at the kitchen sink washing dishes, all the while gazing outside into the yard at the change of seasons, thinking and talking to myself:…”you can do this, you can do this…you can and you will….many women have done this, …you can do this!” Ah, I was so much like the little engine that could! personal pep talk kept me moving through the day caring for my children and the tasks at hand. I would occasionally smell the invigorating essence of peppermint oil that sat on my kitchen windowsill, say a quiet prayer and remember, ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13)….I’d take a deep breath, exhale, thank God for my blessings and continue on. I admit, it was during these days I questioned our home learning lifestyle…did I have what it takes to see it through? What was I to do?...pregnant and tired and letting a lot of “schooling” go by….would they be behind?..would we ever get caught up? What would others say? There’s so much we feel we have to prove in the early days to friends and family who challenge us at every turn of our home schooling decision. They seem to be watching our every move….what?..having another child?…how is she going to home school ALL of them? It was that big hill in front of me, staring me in the face…challenging me. I kept in mind, this season would pass and there would be many other seasons of life. I kept my focus on the big picture ahead, rather than the bumps and detours in the road at the time.

I knew also that many other home schooling moms had raised even bigger families, teaching them all at home and I took strength in that fact. It was through this experience that I also came to realize several enlightening features about home education. First, don’t sweat the small stuff...second, it’s really ok to chill-out …and third: RELAX! One of the finest blessings of home schooling children is that our children are allowed to be children a little bit longer than what our culture dictates is the norm these days. This brings with it flexibility. I found peace in letting go and letting the children play to learn on tough days, knowing they were still benefiting in a home learning environment in so many ways. Whether they learned to read right now, or a little later made no difference …in the long run, I knew that studies shown children that read early would even out with children who read at the average ages, somewhere around grades 4 and 5. Structured education didn’t have to begin at age 3 like the world out there seemed to push -- education for the little ones could be play and imagination and having the freedom of not having to sit still, but be active, …and the comfort of home to do so. A learning environment in the home could easily be enriched with baskets of good children’s literature, music, educational toys, puzzles, art and pastimes.

Soon enough our children will be grown with a world of responsibilities in a grown-up world; precious childhood will be gone and our time with them is fleeting. How wonderful to let them live in the moment of their young lives, innocent and secure and free to play and learn by simply being allowed to be children. How sad to realize the institutional modes of education seem to push the children into too much too early and too fast, from the weight of heavy learning to the weight of early boyfriend-girlfriend relationships…setting many of them up for quick burn-out at very early and tender ages. In the earliest years children really benefit from being grounded in security and acquiring a formation for future learning that comes from home and family, childhood play and simply being a child in a safe and loving learning environment.

It is no surprise that many home schoolers are counter-cultural; in many ways, it is our statement of rebellion in a positive and good way of course. We are taking back our children (or keeping them) and taking control, being thoroughly engaged at all levels with the raising and educating of our children in healthy ways, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Well, fourteen years into our home schooling lifestyle and four children later, I still often feel like that little engine that could….facing that train of cars on an uphill push and pull, attempting to get up enough steam and strength and conviction to get up over that hill…..and even though we have home schooled one into college already and another on their way, doesn’t make the job easier…but it does make it possible. When we focus on all that is “right” in our home education we give ourselves the steam we need to get up that hill…..and when we remember to reflect often on the precious words of scripture, ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13)…we fortify ourselves for the job. We pay no attention to the naysayer or what the “experts” say we should be doing with our children at all ages; “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31) Place your trust in this truth, and you too will be the little engine that could!


I think I can - I think I can - I think I can…

Your Sister in Christ,
Denise Laubacher

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A New Commandment I give to you

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34

Nov. 4, 2010

Dear Sisters,

We have made it through September and October in our home teaching lifestyles! We deserve a pat on the back by now  At this time we might be taking inventory of where the children are in their lessons, what they have accomplished (what we have accomplished!), what is working and what is not working… and when we will break for the holidays ahead. Perhaps the last couple months have gone by uneventful, consistent and fairly smooth in our home schooling…or perhaps not. But do not fear, even the most seemingly haphazard schooling years, interrupted by a lot of “life events”, still seem to turn out good students. Many life events are opportunities to learning as well.

Home school lives are busy lives indeed – moms wear many hats – as teacher, supervisor, coordinator…domestic engineer, and those duties alone take up a good chunk of the day; add in working outside of the home whether through employment or volunteerism along with domestic responsibilities and home education and well…you may have one determined, but sometimes exhausted mom at the helm. I have been there!

October has always been my favorite month; with the beauty of nature and the change in routine. Yet, many Octobers I have felt crushed by a heavy relentless schedule. Growing tired and weary is not my idea of enjoying autumn. And the more worn-out I become the less I seem able to be patient and gentle with those around me. I am ashamed to admit it, but sometimes I have patience for everyone but my own family members. Maybe it’s the fatigue or stress that’s striking, lessening my ability to be charitable; maybe I’m feeling overwhelmed with the tasks at hand, the unbearable schedule, the long list of things that need to be done other than our usual home schooling; it seems like everything becomes an obstacle to Christ’s commandment of love.

Realizing home schooling families are together – A LOT – adds challenges of its own. For all the right reasons, the children benefit in a home environment which allows them to be raised daily by people who know them the best, imparting Godly authority and character building of Christian principles and virtue. On the other hand, the children raised by peer-mates all day year after year, may display different characteristics that are not in accord to Christian values and Our Lord’s laws of love and respect. So, we must practice what we preach within the home-front...we must attempt to rise to the challenge of taking our weary selves to a high level of patience and management in the home where we are among our children, teaching them, leading them, loving them unconditionally, day in and day out.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home, for this is where our love for each other must start.”
I fall short so many times, letting the weight of the world and daily affairs overcome me…and yet, each year I find I catch myself and am reminded that I have accepted this role of wife and mother, teacher and homemaker, volunteer. I said “yes” to being engaged thoroughly in the upbringing and education of the children God has blessed us with. God has led me to this place and I know deep in my heart, that He will not and has not abandoned me – and because I am His, I know His love is unconditional and I can say I have done wrong, I am sorry and I will improve with your help Lord.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt 11:30)

Yes, Lord YOU have the answers and the fuel we need to refresh and recharge – don’t we make things so burdensome without you first in our lives? Help us to love one another above all things – help us to show love and be love in our own homes.

It is a good time to think about what causes the lack of charity we might display. Why are we falling short in love, kindness and gentleness toward our family? What is irritating us? Where can we make changes? Where can we adjust our schedule, including sleep, errands/shopping; how can we fit everything in, and still place school as a priority in our homes? How can we recruit the help of the children in our daily grind in loving and acceptable ways? I know we will find answers and make for smoother days and be much more charitable living up to Our Lord’s laws of love. Just take time to think this through and ask for help from both God and man (and woman!) We know with God all things are let’s remember to include Him in our plans every day...We know He has included us in His!

May God bless you with all you need!

Your Sister in Christ,
Denise Laubacher

Monday, October 25, 2010

Beginning Again

Dear Sisters,

Welcome to a new home schooling year, a new season of a learning lifestyle, a new start, truly a new beginning….

“I am about to do something new; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Is 43:19

I share this verse with you because it speaks such a truth for those choosing a path of home education. I am reminded how Our Lord, so many years ago – planted the seeds of home schooling in my husband’s heart and mind – “making a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert…”, for us, there could be no truer words.

As we return to home schooling and the CHECCS group, we see so many new families and it does our hearts good to see that others are bringing their children home for the first time, or keeping their children in a home learning environment, instilling in them Godly values and virtues; and rightly so, after all, true education is that which leads one to God and eternal salvation in Christ, not away...

For those families new to home schooling, the Lord has indeed done something new, you are the ones that are the new beginning….you enrich and enliven the rest of us, bringing your new vision and energy to our continued efforts.....For those still staying the course who perhaps have been at it for many years now, Our Lord continues to do something new, refreshing and sustaining us within the company of those like-minded [moms] who provide support and encouragement….and we in turn are the ones the new families look to for help and guidance and inspiration. And for those having completed the course, or are very near…. He has yet again brought forth something new as you are the ones nearing the finish line, soon to be standing on the sidelines cheering the rest of us on! How wise and strong you have grown through the years and what a special blessing you are to those of us still on this journey.

When I begin our school year at home I always reflect on the abundant blessing and privilege it is to have the freedom to home educate. I encourage you to consider and reflect upon those admirable families that have paved the way before us, all those in this country that fought long and hard to pass laws enabling us to keep our children home and give them the type of education we choose; those laws in place that attempt to ensure future generations the freedom to home educate, the freedom to choose a Godly and quality education for their children. We should always be grateful for this freedom and to those who fought to secure it for us, but we should never take it for granted. Let us always remember to storm heaven in prayers of thanksgiving for this special blessing we have been given in these generations and pray that these blessings continue for future generations to come. May our great God continue to make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert for others!

And finally...

May God bless you abundantly with all you need to enjoy a beautiful and productive year with your children.

“Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you”Matt 7:7

Your Sister in Christ,

Denise Laubacher

(Written as a word of reflection and encouragement for our local home school support group)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Feeding the Poor

I am so pleased with how my children are learning to care for others that are less fortunate in this world.  From donating money they earn for our Honduran sponsor child, to the Salvation Army or the women's it clothing, toys, money, they seem to have gotten the message. 

Recently our college son helped head the coin-drive and food delivery in his Catholic student group.  This is quite an admirable endeavor as the students donate their funds and raise awareness by collecting loose change - then gather together on a Friday evening, change the coins into cash, and go shopping.  They receive the names of needy families in the area around the college and buy them bags of groceries, then spend the evening delivering it to their homes.  What a wonderful and much needed exercise!

As I begin to mobilize my own resources and thoughts on the holiday season close at hand, I keep this in mind and attempt to think of ways within our family to help others.  I recently heard a friend of mine, a fellow religious ed teacher say she will have her class take a boy and girl name off the Giving Tree and do a field trip to the store to buy for them.  I think it's an excellent idea - always a much needed donation of time and money and care.

We are all poor in so many ways, aren't we?!  I ponder my spirituality and feel so needy myself at times.  Giving to others and placing other's true needs first really helps fulfill our own needs because deeply, it is what is inside of us - helping our fellow man.  

May God bless you!  

Friday, September 03, 2010

Happy Wedding Day!

Tomorrow one of my neice's is getting married and we are all very excited.  So congratulations to Danielle and Kyle as they make that commitment before God and man.  May you enjoy many happy years together!  God bless!

Singing the WRTR song....again...and liking it!

If you've seen it before, and said "ack! WRTR..." bah-humbug!....Take time to look at it again.  Seriously, I have discovered the ugliness of this program is really beauty in disguise!  The Writing Road to Reading covers a multitude of reading, writing and spelling sins!  After a lovely thorough consultation on this resource from my Mother of Divine Grace teacher reviewer, I have come away ready to tackle this course this year with my two younger students.  I have done WRTR in the past, in a scattered and unguided manner...aimlessly really...and should have stuck it out.  I'm just fortunate that my children so far have been excellent readers and average to above-average spellers and two of them have proven to be far above average writers.  When Modg has been criticized for not being "big on writing", I find this far from the truth.  Our oldest is a wonderful writer - his college professors greatly impressed with his written expression.  So, I feel confident Modg "knows what they are doing" in regard to college preparatory. 

Home study programs are wise in recommending the WRTR as it helps alleviate reading and spelling problems right for the get-go, especially for those with processing disabilities or dyslexics  -- but go to the Spalding site yourself and read about it.  It's as simple as having the WRTR book, flashcards, composition book w/pencil to start the program with your child(ren). 

So, I'm pulling this gem back off the shelf, and singing it's praises again.....won't you sing along with me? :)

(My personal use: I use the Fourth Edition of WRTR and the Wanda Sanseri "Teaching Reading at Home" guide, which could probably be found used at used book sources)

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Just Sayin'!

We just started our high school-home school this last Monday...(the younger ones won't start until next Tuesday after Labor Day).  But, what have I learned so far, in this, our 14th year of home education?  Well, as my daughter has delved into her first 12th grade courses, I can not say enough or cheer enough over the 12th grade Mother of Divine Grace straight-up plan.  Even if I were sending a child of mine to college early for whatever reason, I would not neglect to cover the Modg Advanced American Government & Economics, the Health and the Catholic Doctrine course. Together, they are THE BOMB!  The best!  I find these three, the absolute essentials and so brilliantly integrated and so strongly Catholic that I could not ever omit this regimen as each of my children move up through the ranks.  I'm told the Advanced American Gov & Econ course is THE COURSE - the course plate that the Modg student has been prepared to receive all along, as they strive steadily in their studious formation. I feel I want my children to have these courses while still in high school, even if they plan on going to a good Catholic college.  It is our last opportunity to forge and form in the awesome Catholic faith and what a great way to end a home schooling career with your child, then to be able to leave them out the door with this wonderful further knowledge and formation in their Faith.  They will be that much stronger and wiser and equipped - in my opinion - to take on the rigors and peer mates of college no matter where God may lead them.

While I am not always pleased to be enrolled in "a program", as I feel I can suitably do much of this on my own, and I do not care for enormous paperwork accountability or cost, I still must admit I am well pleased in having followed this plan.  The consistency and continuous growth each year, (formation over information) is very agreeable to my liberal arts mind and students at home.  To say that my college student is thriving in liberal arts is an understatement - he is devouring and flourishing in every aspect of it.  So yes, for this I am well pleased.  

I didn't always start out following Modg to a tee, but as I saw the inconsistent and sometimes haphazard manner in which others home educated, and the gaps they were encountering in their children's educations, I couldn't help but default totally to utilizing a program that was solid in all ways. 

And so, I am gearing up for another 12 years ahead of me.....and taking inventory and standing back in awe and gratitude.  And that gratitude is extended to those who have been there for me.....through all of know who you are!   God bless you abundantly!

Boy Wanted by Frank Crane....a real keeper!

We read this prose recently in The Book of Virtues and thought it was so cute and so good, we had to post it here!

Boy Wanted
by Frank Crane

A boy who stands straight, sits straight, acts straight, and talks straight.
A boy who listens carefully when spoken to, who asks questions when he does not understand, and does not ask questions about things that are none of his business.
A boy whose fingernails are not in mourning, whose ears are clean, whose shoes are polished, whose clothes are brushed, whose hair is combed, and whose teeth are well cared for.
A boy who moves quickly and makes as little noise about it as possible.
A boy who whistles in the street but not where he ought to keep still.
A boy who looks cheerful, has a ready smile for everybody, and never sulks.
A boy who is polite to every man and respectful to every woman and girl.
A boy who does not smoke and has no desire to learn how.
A boy who never bullies other boys or allows boys to bully him.
A boy who, when he does not know a thing, says, “I do not know”; and when he has made a mistake says, “I’m sorry”; and, when requested to do anything, immediately says, “I’ll try.”
A boy who looks you right in the eye and tells the truth every time.
A boy who would rather lose his job or be expelled from school than tell a lie or be a cad.
A boy who is more eager to know how to speak good English than to talk slang.
A boy who does not want to be “smart” nor in anywise attract attention.
A boy who is eager to read good, wholesome books.
A boy whom other boys like.
A boy who is perfectly at ease in the company of respectable girls.
A boy who is not a goody-goody, a prig, or a little Pharisee, but just healthy, happy, and full of life.
A boy who is not sorry for himself and not forever thinking and talking about himself.
A boy who is friendly with his mother and more intimate with her than with anyone else.
A boy who makes you feel good when he is around.

This boy is wanted everywhere. The family wants him, the school wants him, the office wants him, the boys and girls want him, and all creation wants him.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy New!

For me, this time of starting back to home schooling is like New Year's......this is the time for new visions, new dreams, facing the challenges and making resolutions to stay the course.  I am ever so grateful that in this great country we enjoy the freedom of being able to home educate our children; whether that freedom passes by way of whomever the parties in control may be for that period of time, it is still a freedom, one that was fought for by other families that came before us, and one I feel inclined to support, encourage and continue to commit myself to as I look at the whole picture of education for my family.  This is a "thank-you" moment; where I pause as our schooling begins for the seasons ahead and take notice and inventory of the blessings we have been given - not only in our own home, but in this country from sea to shining sea.  Yes, there are some troubled and difficult times...we too have felt them and dealt with them and continue to do so...but overall, we count our blessings and the most paramount one that we recognize over and over is home schooling.

And so it is, that now is the time...this wonderful season that unfolds before us, as we just celebrated the Feast of St. Monica, a strong and prayerful mother, an encouraging example to other mothers, a model for strength and hope!  Hope......maybe we home schooling moms should turn our eyes to St. Monica on this one!

                                     ~     ~     ~     ~     ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~    ~   ~   ~  ~

This last Sunday, a couple moms and myself got together at my home for a time of encouragement amongst us.  I find a need for support and for supporting other like-minded home schooling mothers, after the larger Catholic home schooling support group for moms that I helped co-lead over the last 12 years rather folded up for various reasons.  "Small groups" are now the thing, right?!  Well, I must admit I think this small group will nurture well and grow in Faith, Hope and Love....I think we will gain great support from one another to help in our continued task of domestic life and education at home for our children.

Things we asked ourselves and shared:  ...why do you home school?   .....what challenges do you face this year?.....We discovered we are not alone in our biggest recommendation is simply in the words of our Great Pope John Paul II:  Be not afraid!   It was obvious that none of us wants our children to adopt the value system or should I say non-value system of the secular world at large ...just in our communities alone....we could name quite a list of terrible items we are striving for our children to not fall into....So Christian morals, virtues and a strong foundation for not being swayed and pulled into the sinful and evil mainstream current of living and thinking that is all around us.  An enormous task...???? Not so, with so great a God as ours.  We decided to use Elizabeth Foss & Danielle Bean's devotional: Small Steps for Catholic Moms (with the accompanying journal) to assist us in our spiritual growth and discussion.  I feel "very good" indeed about this grouping and resource. That this publication utilizes "virtues" and their development is very timely for me personally, as I have been reading to my young children nightly from The Book of Virtues (William Bennett).   I see great things in our future this year!  So I must insist on wishing my mom-friends Happy New Year at this time...because for us, this is what it is all about:  a Happier, Healthier, and Blessed new year of home schooling ahead.

Please check out the book Small Steps for Catholic Moms at his link:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A home schooling line-up of courses.....

Our 12th grade daughter will finish her high schooling years this year with two solid semesters which include:

College Prep Math: Introductory Algebra

Exploring Creation through Chemistry

Catholic Doctrine (a Seton Press course)
Health (Mother of Divine Grace syllabus)
a Language arts review with Basic Language Principles through Latin Background (this is wonderful book we used in 7th grade, and I like to use again for review at a higher level)

Advanced American Government & Economics
wonderful course that includes original sources and literature

Piano courses continue, choir at church and karate, along with activities & gym with the local home schooling group.

* * * * * *

Sixth grade for our son is lining up like this:

Day begins with assisting mom with first grade brother, doing literature reading and activities from Five in A Row Vol. 3
Abeka Math 6th
Latina Christiana II (continues Latin study) and  Ludere Latine
Easy Grammar 5/6 & Editor in Chief book B1

The Old World & America (Furlong) w/ World History Map Activities
Literature is primarily covered with the living books used for the history course as outlined in the Mother of Divine Grade history section (syllabus 6th grade)
Poetry memorization using The Harp & the Laurel Wreath
Religion per syllabus utilizing reading and summary writing from the bible:
Gospels of Mark and Luke
Spelling: The Writing Road to Reading (Spelling Notebook)

Calligraphy (and Sewing/Crocheting through our co-op), as well as weekly involvement with local co-cop


First grade is lining up like this:

Literature in the mornings with Five in Row Vol 3

Religion: prayers, bible stories, St. Joseph First Communion Catechism 
Math: Abeka Math 1
Spelling & continued phonics/reading: The Writing Road to Reading (spelling notebook)
Science: hands on - DK books on science series; nature books

Art & Music at home with various resources and activities at the local co-op rounds out the year.

Let us go to the house of the Lord - Psalm 121:1
How great are Thy works, O Lord! - Psalm 91:5
Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path - Psalm 118:105

Make Way for School

"...and mom and dad can hardly wait for school to start again....ah ha ha ha ha ha..."

...A classic line to a Christmas song that gives way to a parent's sentiment as the holiday break seems to last forever...the same sentiment I hear from friends and family as they prepare to send their children back into the school schedule as we watch summer vacation come to an end.  But, we home schooling parents sing a different sentiment, don't we?  For the most part, our brood is with us 24/7.......with little "break".  After 14 years of home schooling with four children, I can't imagine anything different at this point; we weave our days together with our family in tow, all part and parcel of life, living, schooling, and the dynamics of building a Christian environment and home.  This is why, considering all we put into the recipe, one fleeting comment by someone on the outside, can really upset the apple cart.....A comment to a son or daughter like:...home schooled?  How did you ever make friends?...what DID you DO all day???  Such was a recent remark made to our oldest son, soon to be starting his Sophomore year in college.  It makes me think about how far home schooling has come in this it's we have large and wide, big home schooling support and activity groups left and right...and yet, how little the general public really knows about home schooling......*big sigh*.....big disappointment.....I will be honest to say that right now, I'm feeling a bit down....not let down...but just down regarding the ignorance that abounds.  In the workplace, where young teens learn to become responsible workers and attempt to find and pay their way ...there are politics...the politics of being judgmental, being somewhat prejudice.....they hear snickering of:....(he) she was home schooled...ha, that explains it all!  ....Explains this is why they are conscientious, have morals?....are polite, work hard and have good ethics.....?  Yes, Christian formation and schooling at home could explain a lot of it, a lot of why they are different in a solid and good way.....But that my sons or daughter have to explain or defend themselves in regard to having been home schooled into college....well, it disappoints me to imagine how much my husband and I have sacrificed to bring this lifestyle and child-rearing feat to fruition...yet to hear it bashed by the ignorant remarks of those who really know nothing of true education, work or sacrifice.  These are the thoughts whirling about in my mind today as I begin to look over our line-up for school at home this year; as I reflect upon many of the concepts in the wonderful book: The Book of Virtues (William J. Bennett), ...categories that include: self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship....(ah yes, friendship...that's basically where this home schooling question began..."how did you ever make friends?!"); then work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty, and Faith....yes, a big dose of FAITH please!

God bless all of you that are staying the course with home schooling....may God grant you all of the above and more as you press on.  May your child(ren) stay strong and true!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Schooling Thoughts...

While we are still doing our classical curriculum (Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum), and using Mother of Divine Grace syllabi, we are looking forward to doing Five in A Row Volumes 3 and 4 this year as well. Last school year was very successful using FIAR as I detailed previously below from this 2009 post. I'm revisiting it now, reflecting and considering what wonders await my boys this new school our 14th year of home education. As always, Christ before us, Christ to lead us...grant us the strength and courage to continue to raise our children in truly good Christian form. Many best wishes to you as you begin your new school as well.

As summer seems to evaporate, no pun intended...I begin preparing for our new school season. Our paperwork is completed per our state requirements and I'm beginning to look at the curriculum on the bookshelves for the grade levels I'll cover this year, with three children. Our oldest is looking over his book list for college! A whole different ball game there. But, this year, I'm excited to start my youngest son with Kindergarten and include Five in A Row. I love this program, and now that I consider my soon to be fifth grader more of a special needs student due to his OCD, I'm going to do FIAR for him also. I think both these young men age 6 and 10 will enjoy it, and enjoy doing some kind of school work together. We still follow Mother of Divine Grace, but for the youngest grades I love to have some kind of planned-out enrichment, particularly in the literature and listening areas. Modg does suggest and include in their program much literature. FIAR will nicely fill that category systemically for me.

This year I decided that instead of reserving the literature involved in the program through the library, which we have done in the past, I'm going to purchase the books for Volume 1 right off. This way, I'll always have that set of books that goes with that volume. One volume basically covers a semester. If all goes well this first semester, I'll go ahead and do Volume 2 to finish out the year. I'd love to get to Volume 4 eventually and make this a "special" curriculum for these two younger boys of mine through the next several years. Volume 4 is more of a Christian character building program which I'm excited about. I think they will greatly benefit from it, both for their own reasons at different levels of their development/ages.

Okay, more later on some of the great classic children's literature involved in the FIAR program.

In the meantime, Happy Schooling Thoughts to all my home schooling friends out there! Tell me what you're doing this year..

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Memorial Day - Sacred Memories

God bless you and yours in His abundance this Memorial Day Weekend.

A Blessing to Read ~ new blogspot focuses on Eucharist

It always delights me to find a new Catholic blog, so I am grateful that Micki from Holy Cards for Your Inspiration, has directed my attention to the newer blog:  A Blessing to Read.  I urge you to take time to check it out as it focuses primarily upon the Eucharist and is sure to enrich your heart and soul with edifying material.  God bless this effort!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

O Rainy Day!

Yes, another rainy day in Ohio indeed.  I'm trying to let it not dampen (no pun intended) our goals for the day ..or week..or the rest of the month for that matter.  We are finishing up our home school for the year; it ends with our assessments/tests, hopefully by the end of this lovely Marian month of May.  Hard to believe our daughter will be a senior in our home school next school year; I will also have a sixth grader and a first grader...this makes life ever so interesting!  Our oldest son successfully completed his first year at college landing on the Dean's list both semesters; producing close to 100 pieces of art between drawings and design projects; doing a T-shirt design for his Catholic college group and a personal portrait project.  This happened without its challenges of course - a relationship break-up and some incredibly terrible winter weather...but I am SO proud of him for holding his own and keeping up with his school work load, working two jobs, commuting, and staying Faithful and Faith-filled in the midst of being an emotional wreck on occasion.  I am grateful I see God growing in and around him in his choices and character.

So, I'm off for another cup of coffee...also determined to lose this extra 10 pounds I somehow gained last summer when my thyroid went off.....still working with my endocrinologist to get things normalized.  Isn't the whole world seem to be "off" these days.....I do think about 2012.......sometimes.....and I wonder...?  Naw!

Have a great day wherever you are...I hope the SUN is shining for you, if not in the sky....then in your heart!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Beautiful Day for Mary in May

And a beautiful day indeed, as our parish's first communion class will be participating in a procession of flowers, hymns, prayers, praises and crowning of the image of our Blessed Mother, the mother of our Risen Lord and Savior.

Hail Holy Queen, enthroned above, O Maria!
Hail Queen of Mercy and of Love, O Maria!
Triumph all ye cherubim, sing with us ye seraphim,
heaven and earth resound the hymn!
Salve, salve, salve Regina!


"In former times, it was the custom in many countries of Europe and America for Catholics to walk in procession through town on feast days of Mary. They carried flowers, banners, candles and a statue of the Mother of God, decorated and crowned with ribbons and flowers. The children wore the white clothes used for their first communion, confirmation or graduations, sometimes with satin capes. The youngest child often scattered flower petals along the street in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary.
In the United States, the processions were often limited to the parish property or inside the church, and only the students of the parochial school did the marching. In recent years the celebrations have become simpler, so that their purpose to honor the Mother of God during the season of resurrection and life, can be clear.
And so it is, that we at St. Gabriel’s parish, continue this tradition by way of our First Communion class; we welcome everyone here today to pray and sing hymns of praise in honor of the Most Blessed Mother of God, Our Mother, Mary."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Lorica of Saint Patrick
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a mulitude. 

MESSAGE FOR TWENTY-FIFTH WORLD YOUTH DAY VATICAN CITY, 4 MAR 2009 (VIS) -      The Message of the Holy Father for twenty-fifth World Youth Day has just been published. The Day, which is due to be celebrated in all the dioceses of the world on Palm Sunday 28 March, has as its theme this year: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

  "The present 25th Youth Day represents a stage on the journey towards the next World Youth Day, which will take place in August 2011 in Madrid, Spain, where I hope many of you will come to experience that event of grace.  "To prepare ourselves for this celebration, I would like to suggest some reflections on this year's theme: "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?", taken from the Gospel account of Jesus' meeting with the rich young man, a topic already considered in 1985 by Pope John Paul II in a most beautiful Letter, addressed to young people for the first time".

 1. Jesus Meets a Young Man.  "The Gospel narrative effectively expresses Jesus' great concern for young people. ... His desire is to meet with you personally and establish a dialogue with each one of you".

 2. Jesus Looked at Him and Loved Him.  "In the evangelical narrative, St. Mark stresses how 'Jesus looking at him, loved him'. The Lord's gaze was at the core of that very special encounter, and of all Christian experience. In fact, Christianity is not primarily an ethic, but an experience of Jesus Christ Who loves us personally, young and old, poor and rich; He loves us even when we turn our backs on Him".

  "The awareness that ... Christ loves everyone and always ... enables us to overcome any trial: ... sins, suffering or discouragement. In this love lies the source of all Christian life and the fundamental reason for evangelisation; for if we have truly found Jesus, we cannot but bear witness to Him to those people who have not yet encountered His gaze".

 3. Discovering a Plan for Life.   "The rich young man asks Jesus: 'What must I do?' The stage of life you are currently experiencing is a time of discovery: discovery of the gifts that God has lavished on you, and of your responsibilities. It is, moreover, a time of fundamental choices to create a plan for your lives. It is a moment, therefore, to question yourselves about the authentic meaning of existence and to ask: 'Am I satisfied with my life? Is there something lacking?'"

   "Do not be afraid to address these questions! ... They await answers, answers that are not superficial but able to satisfy your authentic expectations of life and happiness. To discover the life plan that can make you fully happy, listen to God, Who has a plan of love for each one of you.

 4. Come and follow me!   "The Christian vocation springs from a proposal of love from the Lord, and can only be fulfilled through a response of love. ... Dear friends, following the example of so many disciples of Christ, joyfully accept His invitation to follow, in order to live intensely and fruitfully in this world.

  "The sadness of the rich young man of the Gospel is that which arises in the heart when a person does not have the courage to follow Christ, to make the right choice. However, it is never too late to respond to Him!

   "In this Year for Priests, I would like to exhort boys and young men to be attentive as to whether the Lord is inviting them to a greater gift ... in ordained ministry, and generously and enthusiastically to make themselves ready to accept this sign of special predilection, undertaking with a priest or spiritual director the necessary path of discernment. Do not be afraid, dear young people, if the Lord calls you to the religious, monastic or missionary life, or to a life of special consecration: He is able to give profound joy to those who respond with courage.

   "Moreover, I invite all those who feel the vocation to marriage to accept it with faith, committing themselves to laying solid foundations for a love that is great, faithful and open to the gift of life, which is a source of richness and grace for society and the Church".

   5. Oriented to Eternal Life. "To ask ourselves about the definitive future awaiting each of us gives full meaning to existence, because it orients our life plan toward horizons that are not limited or fleeting, but broad and profound; horizons which lead us to love the world so loved by God himself, to dedicate ourselves to its development, but always with the freedom and joy born of faith and hope. These horizons help us not to make absolute values of earthly realities, aware that God is opening greater prospects for us. ... Dear young people, I exhort you not to forget this perspective in your own lives: We are called to eternity".

 6. The Commandments, the Way of Authentic Love.   "Jesus also asks you if you know the commandments, if you are concerned to form your conscience according to divine law and if you will put it into practice. These are certainly questions that go against the tide of the present-day mentality, which presents freedom as disconnected from values, rules and objective norms, and invites us to reject any limitation to momentary desires".

   "God gave us the commandments because He wants to educate us to true freedom, because He wants to build with us a Kingdom of love, justice and peace. To listen to them and to put them into practice does not mean to be alienated, but to find the path of authentic freedom and love, because the commandments do not limit happiness, but show how to find it".

  7. We Have Need of You.  "Young people today find themselves facing many problems arising from unemployment, and from the lack of solid ideals, and of concrete prospects for the future. ... Despite the difficulties, do not let yourselves be discouraged and do not give up your dreams! Rather, cultivate great desires of fraternity, justice and peace in your hearts. The future is in the hands of people who know how to seek and discover powerful reasons for life and hope"

   "In my recent Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' on integral human development, I listed some of the great modern challenges, which are urgent and essential for the life of this world: the use of the resources of the earth, respect for ecology, the just division of wealth, the control of financial mechanisms, solidarity with poor countries, ... the struggle against hunger in the world, the promotion of the dignity of human work, service to the culture of life, the building of peace between peoples, inter-religious dialogue, and the correct use of the social communications media.

   "These are challenges to which you are called to respond in order to build a more just and fraternal world; challenges that call for an exacting and passionate life plan, into which to pour all your richness according to the design that God has for each one of you".

   "In this Year for Priests, I invite you to study the lives of the saints, especially those of saintly priests. You will see that God guided them and that they found their path day after day, in faith, hope and love. Christ calls each of you to commit yourselves, with Him, and to assume your responsibilities to build a civilisation of love".

MESS/WORLD YOUTH DAY/...                                                    VIS 100316 (1270)