St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mom’s rights…

I have a son who is very private and very humble.  He really doesn’t like me boasting about him on Facebook, so I have no recourse but to mention him here :)  He doesn’t even like me to post his artwork, and it’s so very wonderful.

He is an art major, English Lit minor, in his junior year, 2nd semester at a challenging liberal arts college having entered it straight out of homeschooling.  He has kept his GPA up and retained his scholarship award and art proficiency award since he began; his scholarship is half of his tuition, so it’s pretty substantial.  He is also a DJ for the college’s radio station, and we are told he has quite a fan base, and the college gets more calls and emails about “DJ Doug” weekly, and they haven’t seen that kind of popularity in a personality at the college for 8 years. 

Still, he is a humble person.  He does not flaunt his intelligence or talents.  And I enjoy that he is becoming his own person, long blonde locks and all.  I do not try to make my children be something they are not.  As long as they are moral conscious beings, there is nothing wrong with them developing their own styles and impressions and opinions. 

But, while he is very well rounded, and liberally educated, he is there as an art major …..which to some sounds so….easy….well, it is anything but. It is the second most difficult degree program, second to music. And he is in a “traditional” art program – so it includes Art History which is some of the the most vast and difficult history you’d ever want to open a book to….and these books aren’t cheap!  lol! $250  They are heavily copyrighted due to all the art they contain, generally in color and each semester cover a different influence: Asian, Japanese, Renaissance, Western, European – Reformation and Primitive Art… like way primitive….your know caveman art on cave walls....


Art major comprises enormous amounts of time spent doing actual art, in different calculated medias changing every semester.  It is hard and stretches you….usually away from what your niche in art really is.  My son’s specialty is ink – hand drawn intricate detailed ink scenes and images.  This year, from the student art show, one of his newly penned ink pieces is the featured “art card” for the show.  We are so proud.  This the the art card that advertises the event.  After 5 semesters of drawing, advanced drawing, life drawing (nude – yes, nude woman), design I, design II, sculpture and printmaking, he is able to do more advanced drawing in his own field of “free” work at this point and as long as he is producing “X” amount of work per a certain amount of time, he is meeting the requirements for his art this semester.  He is thrilled to be back dabbling in ink – his favorite. When he starts back next school season he'll tackle painting.

So, while he is deeply involved and active in his college career right now, truly exhausted and running on empty many days, sometimes for weeks…he is certainly productive.  There are some high moments.  There are some lows.  There are frustrations of balancing social and academic, special issues and events and three part time jobs, while commuting….and then just “being” who you are among all of it.  When I think of what I did at his age, which was near nothing, I wish my parents had pushed excellence because I know I had much more in me that could have been tapped at that age.  Some of the troubles I got into could have been avoided had my parents been more in tune, and more prone toward guiding us.  But they came from backgrounds of “18” was grown up and you made your own decisions and went your way.  And we were left with very little guidance in the way of career possibilities.  I think my father just thought we were going to live with them forever and he would pay our way forever!!!  haha

At any rate, I am impressed!!!  My husband and I both are impressed.  We were never that productive at that age (this is the young man who turned 21 recently), or mature.   And I’m sure part of it is because of what we weren’t, and because we home school, and because “WE CAN”, give so much more and see what we don’t want for our children, it has produced this in this particular son.  I suppose you almost can't give them too much....what they don't need, or think they don't need, they could slough off.  Better to give it all and be sure.

In the end, it’s not about “us”, it’s about them - it's about him.  It’s what we do with our lives and how we are giving them the best for this generation of time. 

Thank you Lord for allowing us to do it.  Let your grace continue to guide us and bless them – all four of them – with your abundance, protection and wisdom.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Learning a Lesson from Squanto

I’ve been working very hard with my autistic son on reading comprehension this school year.  We have been working on a method of recalling, retelling, retaining….and then later: recalling, retelling, retaining… get the picture!

How this works is we choose certain literature pieces, and he reads a few sentences, then I  immediately cover them up with my hand and say:  what was that telling?  what was it about?  …and give him time to attempt recall.  It seems so simple to a neuro-typical, or average learner….but terribly hard and frustrating for those with various disorders.  My son’s hyperlexia had gotten in the way of understanding what he was reading because he can read far above grade level and has a large vocabulary.  None of that means he has the understanding that goes with it.

As we practiced this method the entire school season thus far, we have seen a lot of improvement – definite progress, from a couple sentences to a whole paragraph, to a few paragraphs.  Now he gets it.  So we continue on.  Happily, he is also now interested in reading short books as he has the tools to more understanding.  There is a natural “pause” in our minds as we read, where we absorb what a few sentences have said – we generally don’t pay any attention to that pause mechanism, it just flows with us and seems to be a built-in process. But for those with disorders, in my son’s case the jumble of processing due to autism, he has to learn the “pause”; for him it is not built-in, not natural.  But making it a habit however, by method and practice, it will become second nature to him.  It has taken root and is growing. Now he has been able to read “Stuart Little” recently, and is enjoying and telling about it.

In the meantime, we used certain books to facilitate this method – the few “Drawing America” books that are published, that included one of Pocahantas, and Sacajawea, as well as a few others in the series and then a different  book altogether called Squanto:Friend of the Pilgrims,  I mostly turned to these books because of early American history study; they fit in nicely with our studies, and the Drawing America books also provided some art activities.

HERE’S MY REVELATION: I had NO IDEA how sad the lives of these native tribal Indians would be – I mean truly sad and so I can not leave this post without adding some commentary regarding the reading material we used.

I had never really read Squanto, but my three older children before this son had.  This was the first time I had read this book – out of necessity – with a child of mine.  What a shocker!  How sad! Although Squanto wasn’t kidnapped like many Indians were,  he went willingly to the white man’s land of London. But when he was there for five years he yearned to return to the New World, and when he finally was able to…and was only within a few miles of walking distance from his village, he was captured…..taken by another sea captain (Hunt) and sold as a slave.  So many years went by……when Squanto was finally able to return to his home again…and it was gone.  His people, his parents and family all gone due to a sickness that swept through the village.  He was the lone survivor of the tribe Paxtuxet.  All those years he yearned to see his family again……and was so close…..

So, very sad indeed.  And then Sacajawea was stolen away from her family and Shoshoni tribe by raiders at a young age and made a slave.  Eventually a French Canadian fur trader bought her as his bride at the age of 13.  Her life did not seem as dreadful as Squanto…she was able to go with the Lewis and Clark expedition as a guide and she saw her people and her brother again.  It was a bittersweet reunion. 

It just reminds me of how sad it has been that mankind has enslaved other human beings to do their work and bidding.  And to read these accounts just brings it more to light.  May these accounts never be buried.

These stories led way to a wonderful discussion all year about Christian love and human kindness, dignity and respect.  We spoke of Mother Teresa, and Maximilian Kolbe, and of course Christ himself and how we are to treat those created in the image and likeness of God.  How we do not use or abuse other human beings…those weak or innocent, those different than our own culture; those helpless, like the unborn. 

We know Blessed Kateri Tekawitha is destined to be a saint, and I know Squanto did not profess Christianity that we know of….but how that man suffered at the hands of other men, and how he never retaliated and kept a loving and Christian spirit about him, always ready to help, even those who hurt him, is certainly the makings of Saint.  

I am grateful that God gave us these few stories this year to use for the method of comprehension, but more grateful to know the  stories in a very deep and heartfelt way.


Our Village is a Little Different: Theology of the Body: Middle School Edition - #Catholic @cwestTOB

Very thorough and good review of this middle school edition.  Thank you Catherine!

Our Village is a Little Different: Theology of the Body: Middle School Edition - #Catholic @cwestTOB

Monday, February 27, 2012

God bring comfort to those who mourn....

So terrible when these things happen.  May God race his comfort and peace to the families involved.  I would imagine some children will never want to return to school, very traumatized...and need time away, maybe even through home schooling.   The school did an excellent job in acting quickly to protect the students during lock down process and eventual evacuation.  How frightening for all involved.  God's blessings to all of them.

Chardon High School Shooting 2/27/2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

To read is to breathe: Reading LOVES…

So…Michael read pretty much every Vision Saint Book ever printed that we could find…and all the Greek and Roman literature trilogies and more (and has finished religion, vocabulary, and history for the year)….NOW he is reading his way through all the Hardy Boys mysteries.  I am thrilled he is doing this, and enjoying it.  The Hardy Boys of the 30s, 40, & 50s by Franklin Dixon (the originals) are full of complex but fun mysteries, some rather chilling and adventuresome, and I know this is helping Michael in more ways than one: therapy!…Really, there was no way he would have read these two years ago for the sure terror of it all; he would not have been able to bear it.  So, I am very pleased he is reading his way through all …34?..I’m not sure how many we have on our shelf – but they were given to us by his grandmother when his father’s Catholic grade school closed years ago; my husband’s mother ended up with many of the books from the school library and the Hardy Boy's set was among them.  They look like this, the old library binding:

And even more fun …the old library check out cards with signatures and due dates are still in the back of the books! 

So, now my youngest son Mark is out of chapter reader kind of books, although I’m not sure he was really ever in them to begin with….this is the one that reads the dictionary for fun before bedtime!   Happily, he is now reading what I would consider his first real great classic literature, E.B White’s, Stuart Little.  I always mark that book as going uphill in reading from there when my children pick it up.  Mark is the earliest to do so, the others read it around 3/4th grade.  But due to his higher reading level and now having worked on his comprehension all year and seen great improvements, he can read this level, understand it and enjoy it.


So, my older college kids….what are they reading?!  LOL!  Well, some pretty intense stuff. Lately, both my son and daughter in college are in one class the same – Literary Non-fiction Writing…and it’s very challenging.  And my daughter just read You Can’t Take it with You, for theater, and the college is currently putting on this production.  My son is reading lots of prose and poetry and writing it as well, due to his poetry class.  I am also so impressed and amazed at the level of reading they do for their classes, both being English Literature majors and minors.  I am ever so grateful for having exposed them and raised them quite literally in their homeschool with lots of good literature and a lot of reading.  While their Advanced American Government and Economics course is the equivalent of an AP course, it was mostly reading, reading, reading and began with St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa take on the perfect government – very heavy stuff.  But it prepared them so very well for college level work. 

All in all, I have seen reading and the love of it take hold in each of my children at a different grade level/age.  Some sooner, some later, but so far it has not failed.  In this house to read is to breathe!  It’s so much a part of our existence…the written word…. and being able to connect to it.

Blessings to you this Friday!  More on reading in another post…..

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spelling Bee results are in…

Mark won 3rd place in our homeschool co-op Spelling Bee today.  More importantly, he acted really well when he was “out”, missing the last word that gave him third place, and when he had to leave the stage and come down to the floor to wait out the final winners, he did it without complaining or acting up (his autism gets in the way of reasoning quite often and there can be a “scene” :).  Also important, he participated – while it is individual spelling, it is also team work – without others to compete with, you can’t have a Bee. So, I am so proud of him today.  He brought home two ribbons today, the third place one and the Participant one.  Congrats to all the kids that gave it their all!

Think Spring Literature

Listen to or read here: Tale of Peter Rabbit
This year at our local home school co-op I will be teaching a class for K-3rd the spring session of the 2012 school season and it is a Beatrix Potter Literature enrichment class, based on the short tales of Peter Rabbit and Friends.  I originally came across this course when our oldest son was just in Kindergarten.  In the beginning…..we bought two pre-packaged curriculums from two different providers before we got on the path of Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum and the syllabi that accompanies each grade level * [more on syllabi below this post].

The first pre-packaged grade was Pre-K  and our son was completely finished with everything in the box by mid winter……I decided for the next year to purchase the K boxed items from Calvert Home School.  It was wonderful because everything really came in one box – pencils, paints, paper for water color painting, all the books and the lesson plans.  We did better in K and went further, but still our son had this curriculum completed by the time spring hit.  Thus, the transition to utilizing the suggestions and curricula in Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum per grade level, and it was in accord with our Christian faith and I wanted a program that integrated our Catholic beliefs and history within it.

But, certainly  not all was a wash with our first two trial years of using a boxed curriculum; one wonderful find was that Calvert had this great little enrichment program written for the Peter Rabbit tales and I made the extra purchase in the spring of Kindergarten that year, to finish out the year, and we went through the wonderful tales of Beatrix Potter and felt we had completed a good year.  The stories were refreshing and delightful, the pictures beautiful, and the vocabulary fun!…perambulator…(baby stroller).  And as it is with most unit type studies, it involved more than just literature enrichment, but art enrichment as well. 
So, this year, I will introduce the young students (including my youngest son among them) of our co-op to Beatrix Potter and her Peter Rabbit and friends.   You can see the teacher guide at this link:
Beatrix Potter Literature enrichment program designed by Calvert.
Syllabus – singular
Syllabi, plural

Syllabus is a latin word for a lesson plan – instructions.  The enrollment program affiliate of Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum is: Mother of Divine Grace home study and it utilizes the syllabi resource so nicely whether you are enrolled with their program or not – you can purchase a syllabus per grade level from several different providers.  What is described per grade level in the book Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum (Dyocc) is packed into one great syllabus per grade level from K through 8th grade. From 9th through 12th syllabi are available but as separate disciplines, i.e. Algebra I, Latin I, Earth Science, Chemistry, Medieval Spanish & English History, Advanced American Government & Economics, and so forth. 
The syllabus has kept us on track and is great preparation for college work, as I know our son in his first year of college was handed a syllabus per each course from his different professors.  He felt comfortable with this system already and loved referring to it for deadlines, and instructions and the entire schedule for the semester. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Give Our Visions Wider View…

We offer You our failures,
we offer You attempts;
The gifts not fully given,
the dreams not fully dreamt.
Give our stumblings direction,
give our visions wider view,
An offering of ashes,
An offering to You....

~ Tom Conry

+ + + +                

Another Ash Wednesday in our lifetime; old and young alike.  This marks the first Ash Wednesday that my young son actually asked about, wanted to be at, knew something was special about it, anticipated it.  In the past, he had no clue, nor did he want anything put on his forehead.  This year was different.  A new awakening, a new beginning. A new creation. And so peaceful with just my three sons in tow with me to our parish this evening.  What a beautiful mass and beautiful beginning of Lent.

May God bless you abundantly this Lent.

TEDxBloomington -- Stephen Volan -- "Approaching Autism Theatrically"

Wonderful discourse about adult with Aspergers

We Must Forget Ourselves

"On her sick bed, surrounded with cares, little Therese had compassion on suffering souls: 'We must treat them, even the most imperfect, with precautions like those that are taken for bodily ills. Oh, very often people do not think about that; they wound them by inattentiveness, by tactlessness, although what they need is for us to care for them and comfort them with all our power. Yes, I feel that I must have as much compassion for the spiritual infirmities of my sisters as they have for my physical infirmities.'

We must forget ourselves. A person who forgets himself brings joy to those around him. He quickens hearts everywhere he goes. Goodness attracts goodness -- and what is more, it gives birth to goodness. It radiates something already heavenly. On the other hand, spitefulness causes sadness, closes hearts, hardens faces, and brings a cold chill wherever it appears. Of course, I am speaking of a spitefulness which is voluntarily and willfully nurtured. Then the imagination starts working; a thousand phantoms invade the mind; grievances multiply; all sorts of bad intentions are taken for granted. The spiteful person starts putting facts together which in reality are totally unrelated, in order to make his neighbor's offenses seem greater, to put his neighbor in an inexcusable position in order to excuse himself. The Devil fans these smoldering embers.

There are so many excuses to be found for the faults of others: their heredity, their education, their temperament, their interior trials, their physical state. Everyone, without exception, has virtues by which we can be edified. It is just and it is a joy to think about the goodness in our neighbor."

I Believe in Love, Fraternal Charity, Fr. Jean C.J. d'Elbee

Invocation to Saint Therese

O Little Flower of Jesus, ever consoling troubled souls with heavenly graces, in your unfailing intercession I place my trust. From the Heart of Our Blessed Savior petition these blessings of which I stand in greatest need (mention here). Shower upon me your promised roses of virtue and grace, dear Saint Therese, so that swiftly advancing in sanctity and in perfect love of neighbor, I may someday receive the crown of eternal life. Amen.

Monday, February 20, 2012

King's that time again

So, I'm absolutely exhausted and heading into Ash Wednesday....but before that, I'm hoping to throw together a King Cake for tomorrow's Fat Tuesday.  It's so pun intended :)  

I'm thinking of using Egg Substitute (Ener-G brand), for my son who has a hard time with fresh (baked) foods that have egg in them -- unless it is super processed it bothers him.  Of course, the flour doesn't exactly agree with him either :)...but, he can manage the white flour less the eggs better.  The recipe I follow is generally this one:


1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water


Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finding Joy...First Reconciliation

Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!

From my view, it's a sunny lovely day for February in Ohio.  It marks the 18th Reconciliation service I've prepared a class for and the fourth child of my own that will make the sacrament today with their classmates.  This is a monumental moment for me today personally for many reasons, and not mostly because of my longevity at teaching the first sacraments' class, but because of my last child making the sacrament and his special challenges of autism.  

With God all things are possible.

This could not be more true as I reflect back to where my autistic son was a year ago, in regard to eye contact, communication, mixing up genders, pronouns, glitchy frustrating language expression, lack of retaining, recalling, retelling...and my doubts that he could understand enough, or have the endurance enough to follow through with presenting himself in the reconciliation room, nonetheless expressing his sins. I did not think it would be possible this year, but with therapies and a very focused year directing our efforts toward him, and doing lots of homework it is possible and is happening this very day.  So many many difficult moments....and now, a glimmer of hope and light that this 8 yr old dear little person - who has tried with all his might and worked so hard is going to do something tremendous today.  

I'm not sure how I will contain myself  - pure joy.

God has a plan for sure, and I know now that 20 years of experience and preparing children for the sacraments was necessary to prepare me to work with my own special needs child.   God additionally blessed us with a smaller class this year which was very helpful, and the most understanding little classmates in the world...additional blessings.  They are patient with Mark and seem to understand him and are helpful to him.  I don't know if he can quite understand what a blessing that is at this young point in his life.......but someday he will appreciate it.

So...I'll report back later on how this wonderful day unfolded and all God had in store for us.

God bless you this beautiful Sunday wherever you are!

Update:  The day remained beautiful;  a little on the cool side, but no rain or snow, and filled with sunshine.  Our pastor was 30 mins late to the service due to giving the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick to an elderly parishioner who collapsed today during our earlier mass.  The fire alarm went off as we were beginning to gather.....a problem we've been having lately at our church -- once that was under control, and our pastor was in place, we began and all went smoothly. Well, the fire alarm went off AGAIN toward the end of confessions!  However,  Mark did PERFECT -- he was focused and enjoyed it, and I'm told he did really, really well.  He is happy and pleased with himself.  The children made Lambs to place under the Icon of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and once the came out of the confessional they did so.  On the way home Mark announced: "I'm going to put my Lamb on the back on my bed as an indication that I made my first confession and now I can make it any time I want." cute.  After the ceremony the families went to the church hall for dinner.  Again, Mark did great and he was pleasant with the other classmates.  He especially likes his friend Corey and starts conversations with him, which is always a good thing....autistic children initiating conversation.  Mark has come a long ways, he never use to do that.  Praise God.  

So now, we prepare for First Communion.  :)  

Thank you all for your prayers!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Your Way to God: Spiritual Guidance

One day, while visiting, I happened to notice a little icon link to an apostolate that was offering "spiritual guidance." I needed to follow that link! I was brought to the Cukierski Family Apostolate, where I could sign up, to receive by email, spiritual guidance articles. I anxiously awaited the arrival of the first one. To be honest, I think I might have deleted the first one shortly after I read it! What was I thinking? But, by the third day I was getting the hang of it and decided I better begin to print or save these insightful direction articles that were coming; it was the third day article I recall the best: it was called: What is the Forgotten Virtue?, written by the late Father Kilian McGowan, C.P. It began like this:

"The poet Wordsworth once wrote that the "best portion of a good man's life" is "his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love." In his famous Canticle of Charity (Corinthians, Chapter 13) Saint Paul named it as one of the foremost daughters of charity: " kind," he wrote.

Kindness is like a beautiful jewel carefully and beautifully wrapped. For to the gem of charity it adds a most attractive packaging of gentleness and considerateness. Kindness is, therefore, an overflow of a thoughtful and selfless love into a realm of speech and action. It is indeed a God-like quality."

The forgotten virtue: Kindness.

Of course, there's more to it......but to read the rest of the article and receive many other valuable ones, you must sign up to receive them! You can do so by going to: You will receive two months of free spiritual guidance articles written by the late Passionist priest: Fr. Kilian McGowan.

Some of the article titles include: How to start a Spiritual Revolution, How to Cure Spiritual Sloth, Prayer- the Greatest Art of All, God Wills Your Happiness, How to Overcome Discouragement, Profit by Your Sufferings, and many more. These articles are short and insightful and Fr. McGowan did a great service for those like myself who feel they need just a little more help along the path to holiness.

You might also be interested in obtaining a copy of the out of print book from which these articles originated. A book has been so much easier to tote along to Eucharistic Adoration and other prayerful moments. This book by Fr. McGowan is called: Your Way to God: A Book of Spiritual Guidance for the Layman, copyright 1964. I was able to find one through

Now, back to more kindness:

"Kindness has a certain timeliness to it. It's at its beautiful best when it caters to an urgent need of the moment. It's simple, too; just as ordinary as sunshine, and just as necessary. A thoughtful letter...a brief visit...a word of encouragement or congratulations...a small or thoughtful gift...or just one's silent presence can bring instant joy to the recipient. ~Fr. Kilian McGowan, Your Way to God~

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

In Quietness and In Trust: Spiritual Direction

"In silentio et in spe erit fortitudo vestra — in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. This is what the Lord assures to those who are his own. Keep quiet, and trust in him. These are two essential weapons in moments of difficulty, when there doesn't seem to be any human solution." The Forge, "Crucible" #799, St. Josemaria Escriva

In recent years, I've found myself turning to the sound spirituality and wisdom of St. Josemaria Escriva more often. I can pick up any of his "maxim"-packed books and discover I have a heavenly spiritual director at my call. His supernatural outlook along with no nonsense approach to ordinary life prove to be of great assistance not only with the storms that arise, but mostly in embracing and offering to God the simple day to day events; recognizing the "ordinary" as a path to holiness; in fact, that's what St. Josemaria is all about: sanctifying ordinary life. For those who do not have the added benefit of a spiritual director, or continue to struggle in finding just the right one to work with, I have two humble suggestions: read St. Josemaria Escriva, and pray through his powerful intercession for the help in direction you need. The least that can happen is you will be abundantly blessed. Click here for his intercessory prayer.

When "reading" a saint, I like to find out everything I can about them from several different sources; in this way, I feel I've prepared myself for better understanding and appreciation of the writings they've left to us. There are several wonderful books written about the life of St. Josemaria Escriva. You can find many of them at Scepter Publishers. Also at Scepter and now available is a unique story of this saint's remarkable life, comic book style. Yes! It's called: Through the Mountains: The Life of St. Josemaria. I can attest to the fact that this very well done hardbound book is beautifully achieved for this type of presentation.

"You wouldn't think of building a good house to live in here on earth without an architect. How can you ever hope, without a director, to build the castle of your sanctification in order to live forever in heaven?" St. Escriva, The Way, #60

More on spiritual enrichment with St. Escriva later this week.

Feeling better Naturally; Nfp, menopause & progesterone cream

Catholics are working overtime lately, there is no doubt.  From healthcare to the secular music industry….to politics in general, assaults and insults are everywhere when it comes to the Catholic faith.  And other Christians expect and hope for a Catholic response. If the Catholic organizations don’t speak out, not many will, or are heard when they attempt to do so. 

So, I have a lot of Catholic thinking in my  mind these days :) and as a Catholic mother who practiced and preached NFP for all her married years, and married later in her child bearing years…(but enjoyed at least ten good fertility bearing years, and four children thriving on earth since)…I feel compelled to just mention briefly, the benefits of not only Natural Family Planning….and the freedom and beauty of openness to life it provides, but other natural helps toward fertility and fertility’s end.  The end, is where I am at; just recently being told I am post menopause.  It has been a rough three and half years…but nearing the end has brought some relief, and a lot of reflection on my behalf, but also some side effects so to speak. 

Just “knowing your body” by having tracked it, charted it and learned it’s signs for  at least a  decade or more, is a wonderful gift and extraordinary insight for when your fertility, also a gift, is beginning to wind down.

I recently recalled a product that I just now began to use and it has brought me relief from the bloating and irritable feeling as well as head achy mode I seem to have been encountering with menopause; including the extra weight gain….sigh…. So, if you ever need a natural helper, I think this product along with good vitamin support will work wonders.  So many women who abide by NFP utilize this progesterone cream formula by Dr. John Lee.  I urge you to check it out if you are in that place in your life and need some extra support.


God bless!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mrs Apple Pie Education Variety Shop and More, That's ME!

We have been homeschooling for 16 years now, and with it we have accumulated an enormous stash of both textbooks, educational resources (DVDs and CD-roms), and lots of literature and other support items.  I am in the mood to sell off quite a bit and will be taking inventory and itemizing the list on my newest blog, with the help of my email address (for payment) through Paypal.  I will have some items gently used, good, very good and like new condition; I will also have some items, mostly books, DVDs and VHS tapes for just the price of postage.

I will also have many books that are not school related; self-help, spiritual, exercise, informative.

If you are interested, stay tuned.....I will be attempting to put up "My Used Homeschool Books Store" banner on the side bar hopefully this week.  In the meantime, if you are already interested in something you think I might have...please email me and ask.  

In the meantime, I have these items at the top of my list:

Reading & Spelling/Language arts helps:

Earobics Step 2 Home Edition, CD-ROM, very good $45 includes USPS economy shipping (good condition, 3 player slots available; hardly used, comes with all booklets and CD in it's original plastic case)

Homeschool/Education Resources:

When Children Love to Learn, paperback book by Elaine Cooper, very good $5.00, + $1.99 USPS economy shipping

Charlotte Mason Companion, paperback book Karen Andreola, very good $5.00 + $ 3.40 USPS economy shipping

The Out of Sync Child Has Fun paperback book by Carol Stock Kranowitz, very good, $5.00 + $1.99 USPS economy shipping

(If interested,  contact me through, with items you are interested in, and we will make arrangements)  PAYPAL payments only

~ more to be listed later ~

I will be listing several of the Mother of Divine Grace resources for K, 1st, and 2nd, and a few upper grade items; some Saxon math editions with support materials,  DIVE CDs and lots of books of literature for all grade levels (both Modg related, and others not).

No international sales - only Canada and US shipping; no shipping if you are from my area and see me at home school co-op 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir « Chantal Sicile-Kira – Author, Speaker, Autism Expert

Margret Dagmar Ericsdottir « Chantal Sicile-Kira – Author, Speaker, Autism Expert

A Mom You Won't Forget, with the help of Kate Winslet (talking back to autism)

If you ever have the chance to view the documentary style movie: A Mother's Courage: Talking back to Autism, by all means do.  It is about a mother from Iceland, whose son Keli, suffers non-verbal autism.  He is locked in his own world; and while it breaks your heart, it also certainly opens it.  He is the sweetest boy, and we long to "hear him".  I understand that since the movie was made (2009), he has been able to communicate with the help of a letterboard...his first words: "I am real."  

Kate Winslet narrated the movie and has since gone on to help raise awareness for the autism crusade.  I am anxiously awaiting her book: The Golden Hat: talking back to Autism, due in March of this year.  You can read all about it at this link:  A Mom You Won't Forget.   Kate and Keli appear on the cover.  I have already pre-ordered mine.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Planning for the year that ends all…

……of course, I’m kidding…..but not about the planning part, just the ending part!  There is so much floating around out there about the end of the world; you know….the Mayan calendar, the predictions….well, of course these things interest me, I mean seriously who wouldn’t want to be prepared for the end of the world IF they knew it was really coming?  I’m not sure what kind of preparations would be needed, come to think about it.  I guess we could start stock-piling Hostess Twinkies?? 

Okay, to the planning…..for me, this time of year marks my sudden urge to plan next years’ curriculum. I’m not sure how that happens for other home schooling moms, but it just hits me like a sudden craving!  I’m far enough along to see where I need to steer my children in the academic sense and see enough accomplishment that I feel I must prepare for streamlining the next year together with this finishing up of this one.
For both my youngest boys that are still be schooled at home, I have to incorporate therapies; for my autistic son they are weekly, for my OCD son they are monthly.  But for EVERY DAY there are academics, at-home therapies mixed largely with many challenges.  Just a typical day of school here is not a typical day….

But looking ahead, and feeling pretty confident that the end of the world isn’t coming very soon….. I’m glad to be going somewhat generic in our curriculum and right on grade level at this point with Mother of Divine Grace.  I’ve already plenty of curriculum on our shelves from having schooled our two oldest from K through 12th into college.  But here and there I am adding just a couple items to satisfy the needs of the Mother of Divine Grace Teacher Planner per grade level. (link takes you to third grade planner)   I am doing 3rd and 8th grade for the next year.  To keep myself sane, I want to use the planner (a day–by-day, at–a-glance calendar, of already plotted out curriculum); I mostly decided this would be the best way to get my oldest son a little more independent of me, and give him exactly “what is next” at the touch of his hands.  I think it will help me and help him at the same time.  I think my youngest son will appreciate it too, because of his high functioning autism, he loves to read directions… know, assemble directions, information inserts, the dictionary :) …..LOL, so yes, I think he would like this system also.

We have always followed the “syllabus” per grade level, but the teacher planner only follows “one” choice per category, written in stone basically.  So say like in grammar there are several choices broken down in the syllabi, in the planner there is just the most popular one broken down to follow.  So, I am needing to fill in with some of the more popular choices.

In the meantime, I am catching up on some curriculum I never did get around the purchasing in the first place, such as the Child Size Masterpieces, Levels 4 & 5, (learning names of artists, and learning about famous paintings).  We have the other levels and I just never purchased these levels…hard to find or something….but I know my autistic son will love the cards and matching games, and learning the names and paintings as it is this kind of thing he indulges in.

So, books coming the mail is my “thing” right now….planning, thinking, hoping, guiding them….Attempting to keep myself spiritually fortified for the challenges and journey ahead with them.  While all the while, keeping in mine my oldest children who are in higher education dynamics and getting more “out there” in the mix of life among people, places and things.  Praying they make good choices, and stay strong in their faith and the foundation we gave them here at home. 

When mothering wears lots of different hats to fulfill her vocation, it is hard not to keep oneself contained to oneself……so I attempt to blog, chat on Facebook, discuss on the different education forums I belong to, and get together with some beautiful moms at our parish for a monthly get together, sharing our successes and seeming failures.

In the end, it is so true that we (and our children) are all works in progress.

If you are already home schooling….stay the course, more power to you..and if you are considering home schooling, pray and be courageous; may God bless you with the strength and wisdom and courage you need.