St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A weary week…

Hurricane Sandy has been sending us high winds and lots of rain….rain is still coming down and apparently will be for several more days.  We have our Aunt Ida’s funeral on Thursday a.m. and I hope it isn’t too muddy at St. Francis cemetery.  God bless this last sibling to pass away of my father in law.  Who knew he would be the sole survivor of his three brothers and four sisters?  He just turned 90, and we had a wonderful celebration of family and history-heritage with him, and this sister was 91 in a half, so he was close to her. And how amazing, she too had four sons and four daughters, just like the family she was born into. Well, this indeed is turning into a very difficult week.  Strangely or maybe providentially, it will end Saturday with a visit from our new Bishop at our 6 pm mass.  We have a reception prepared and a couple songs our parish children will sing for the Bishop.  I’m looking forward to meeting him, but anticipating what a busy week and weekend it will have been.  There is no doubt I put my heart and soul into our parish life, and for the sake of the children and families there, and I’ll be honest, there are many times that I really feel it’s time to leave.  This last weekend was one of them.  This year in particular has gotten off to a rocky start. 

Still, I know the ole’ devil tests me in fire on occasion and I’m sure this is one of them. 

Friday morning, I will be chatting with my Mother of Divine Grace teacher reviewer and I know that will help boost my morale and encourage me further that I am doing the right thing for my children and for my family, in both my work at home and at church. We have completed a good quarter’s worth the work and I am seeing such good progress.  I am glad to be using the science more thoroughly (activity book, tests, etc.) with my third grader  as he enjoys science so much and likes the worksheets.  And we are doing the History more thoroughly also…and following the nicely laid out lesson plan to move slowly, deeply and consistently through to help with comprehension; mastery.  Not just moving through it to “get it done,” but doing it to really learn the material.

All in all, it’s been a fast and furious fall with many ups and downs.  I guess I better buckle in a little tighter for the ride ahead!

Prayers to all those affected by hurricane Sandy.  May God bring them peace and comfort and all the resources they need.  God bless the USA

Sunday, October 28, 2012

More tired…more blessed..

…Is it possible?  Well, I am certainly more tired than ever.  However, on my most tired day ever….I also feel enormously more blessed than ever.

Usually Sundays are a test of my endurance and patience because of my religious education responsibilities…and because I do not have exactly a healthy thyroid, I tend to tucker out much faster when facing a strenuous schedule.  But God certainly provides, and today He did just that.  I can’t believe I was able to pull off teaching my 2nd graders, a lovely All Saints program and music session with K through 7th grade, and talk with 8th through high school about our BIshop visit, and a special service project that I knew they would thoroughly enjoy.  Pretty painless service hours, but work made fun by good companionship, team work and a good cause.  Eighteen very serious and glad to be there teens put together 25 shoe box gifts for children in third world countries. 18 students that came during the 3-5 pm timeslot on a Sunday afternoon; they wanted to be there.  You could see how they were really into completing each box with thoughtfulness and care; contemplating if this was the only gift they received, would they want it to be filled to the top?…what would make them happy to see inside of it?  If it were for them would they like what they found when they opened it??  Of course, our children would be wanting the latest technology…Ipods and Mini Ipads, and DSi’s, DVDS, CDS, yes, the pricey American fare.  These boxes were filled with personal hygiene products like toothbrushes and toothpaste, combs, hair items, soap, hard candies, trinkets, school supplies, small toys, stuffed toys.  THESE are the things that will thrill the children that open them.  They will feel so fortunate and blessed.  We were blessed today by the grace of God touching our minds, hearts and hands to prepare a special gift for a special child somewhere in the world. 


And so, I relax and unwind at the end of a very fulfilling and fruitful day.  I am thankful that God uses me to help encourage and enlighten other people’s children in their faith life and awaken them to a life of service to others.  As many of our youth group children prepare for Confirmation they are taught to look beyond themselves, and even their families to their church and civil communities (hopefully they already have an established life of faith and service within their family unit),  By taking their Christian belief system and putting it into practice beyond the confines of themselves and their homes,…they are definitely growing in Christ, and I look forward to seeing them blossom in that faith.  Today I witnessed some of that blossoming and it was sweet indeed.

I am feeling so blessed to know these special young people and being able to be a part of their formation and spiritual growth this year. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Freaky Friday…indeed

So today I’m preparing for the usual fare…school, shopping, cooking…getting ready for a big weekend which includes a Saints program at our parish and a youth group session with the teens.

I am very tired this week…thinking my thyroid (and bad diet) are starting to get to me.  I definitely burn the candle at both ends and I’m just not that young anymore…maybe ten years ago I could keep up this pace, but now in my early 50s….not so much.

I am still eagerly awaiting my subscription to Magnificat to start and come to my mailbox….it’s due for November…but no sign of it yet.  I’m worried having gone through a middle party for it, the sub wasn’t processed correctly.  I hope that’s not true and it will come _ even today_.  That would make my day!

Praying for my children, their formations, educations and direction in life.  I start to panic sometimes when I think about what they face in the future.  I know I can not always be there.  Right now I’m content they are such faithfilled and faithful young Catholic Christians, wanting to do good and be selfless.  That’s a good start.  But I think about what kind of life they will have, economy, health….and I just shudder.  May God’s wisdom and guidance and protection always be theirs.

Also anticipating Frankenstorm….yes some terrible storm creation from the Atlantic due to the hit the east coast and move inward by early next week.  I guess we’ll see what happens….

Isn’t she lovely



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Storms and Service Projects…

I don’t think I’ve had a faster week go by….wow….zip!  And I’m hearing that Hurricane Sandy, a.k.a. Frankenstorm, might pay us a visit very soon…I hope it doesn’t put a damper (no pun intended!) on our service project weekend for a youth group and confirmation candidates.  I’m praying for a good turn-out as we have two new young couples as leaders, and a hopeful priest that our youth will start to take these things more seriously.

We have a lovely program scheduled for them and if they don’t do another “good deed” the rest of the year…this is the one! (See clip below)

Not only learning to work together with a team of people, but sharing their goods and time to make Christmas around the world a little more pleasant for countless children who suffer so.  We are a selfish bunch indeed, and spoiled in some many ways, myself and family included.  To think a shoebox stuffed with personal care items, some small toys and school items would give such joy to a third world country child, is just something our children really probably can’t fathom.

Through the service project process we hope to not only have them provide the time and goods, but have the seeds planted in their hearts to sacrifice just a little more and to be grateful even more for what they do have here in their corner of the world.

[Did I mention Greece’s economy has collapsed….speaking of worldwide things?  Indeed….and resulted in heightened crime, theft, and families scrounging and begging for help.  Do we have it good…still?  Indeed.] 

I think between the global economy, the local economy and the needy of third world countries, a service project that focuses on “giving” to those in more need is a good choice for confirmation candidates.  Helping those young people to step outside of their selves and outside of their own families to help those beyond their immediate circle is a mature Christian action. Many of the candidates are already very excited and taking it all seriously….for some, it will be a real struggle this year, but with the grace of God, I trust he will lead them to where they need to be.

Operation Christmas Child 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Simple day in the life….

Seriously a beautiful day here in NE Ohio….70 degrees…clear, with lots of leaves and colors everywhere.  So lovely.

For us it’s beautiful but it is also just another day in our lives of homeschooling.  We put in a good day of it and I am ever so pleased with how the kids are doing with their work.  Just dedicating one year – at least 6 months of concentrated effort on one child, really pays off in long dividends.  I’m so glad I put in the hard work early in their lives and got them to grade level and beyond work in the latter years of grade school.  In our home, as I look back now, it’s been all about school and mom being there.  I look at even our parish school and think how many years (this marks the 20th for me) I’ve been teaching the 2nd grade class, and how I’ve prepared all my children for the sacraments both at home and at church.  And I’m committed to being there at our parish program for many more years.  When I look back someday, I’m sure it will be such a large part of my life to realize I was there for likely 25-30 years both with home education and religious ed. 

So today, we did our school….and I began to thoroughly clean and help along my daughter-at-college’s room. The room is clean and tidy, but I needed to retouch some woodwork, get a new lampshade for a lamp, and just fresh and brighten it up a bit.  She is a good girl with keeping things in order, and I wish I could give her an even more beautiful room because she is such a selfless uncomplaining young lady….but I’m doing what I can.

The rest of the house…….yes, a bit of a mess!

It’s okay because most of my time today was spent with children and school….some things have to wait. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beautiful Autumn…

…and it certainly is that here right now.  The weather is mild, sunny.  There will be a bit of rain….here and there, but for the most part it’s been around mid-50s/60s.  Just lovely, colorful….and ahhhchooo!…oh, and filled with those pesty allergies my family suffers. 

Just had two of my sons into their doctor for a check to be sure these sinus symptoms and a sore throat, aren’t more than just allergy induced.  Allergy.  So, we switched up some allergy meds to see if a change might help as sometimes after long usage, one might not be as effective.  Time will tell.  A couple days at least in this case.

In the meantime, it’s still so lovely out, I just must take in the beauty outdoors.  It’s very helpful for me to be able to get out in nature and enjoy the great outdoors as much as possible.  My children too of course.  In fact, it brings back such fond memories of our early home schooling years when we were all about nature and a Charlotte Mason education.  Making nature journals and taking in the world around us as part of our daily studies.  It did this mother good to take her little ones out for walks and frolics in the nearby park with creek and wooded areas. 

Hope wherever you are, you are able to enjoy a beautiful Autumn…

Prayer for our election..

And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. Eze 11:19

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Brain Gym, Brain Buttons: Activate!

In therapy our son Mark learned this sequence of stimulating his “brain buttons” a type of cognitive processing awakening before undergoing anything that was going to take much thought on his behalf.
I share this procedure here:

Brain Gym
Mark always says, “I start b taking a few sips of water”…..true!…then he uses both hands to pinch or tap lightly his upper body and lower abdomen:

A quick review of the FOUR basic steps is here:
Switch On Your Brain . . . in 4 simple steps . . .W - B - C - C!
= Water, Brain Buttons, Cross Pattern and Cook's Hookups

1. Water hydrates the body and facilitates conduction of the electrical impulses throughout the body and brain. Without enough water, you'll feel short-circuited. This in itself triggers a stress response and makes you more susceptible to other stresses in your life!
Drink water to get "instant stress release" – receptors in your mouth inform the brain of the presence of pure water so it can instantly correct the body stress created by dehydration.
Sipping throughout the day helps to keep your stress levels lower. Water also assists lymphatic function, helping to remove waste and toxins from your body. It allows 1,000-10,000 times more oxygen to bind to the blood, reducing stress on your heart and lungs. Drink lots of water for an instant brain boost. It raises energy and improves your concentration, mental and physical coordination, and academic skills.
If you have no medical limitations, doctors suggest one 250ml glass per day for every 10 kilos of body weight, and more if you are physically active or under extra stress. That's 7 glasses for a 70kg person! Interestingly, caffeine and alcohol cause fluid loss. You will need an extra glass of water for each cup of coffee you drink and two extra for each alcoholic drink. Raise your glass to your health with nature's finest!

2. Brain Buttons are located between the collar bone and the first rib, up against your breastbone.
To Switch On: Placing one hand over your navel, with the other stimulate the points with firm rotary pressure for 15 to 30 seconds each or until any tenderness is gone. Rubbing then will boost your natural energies and reset your electro-magnetic body. For many natural therapists the K-27's are related to conditions such as low energy ad fatigue
Stimulate them as often as necessary. When they are sensitive, they need attention. This technique can be used on a daily basis and randomly throughout the day to revive a bored or sluggish body. Stimulate before arising in the morning and start the day smoothly.

3. Cross Crawl is excellent exercise for activating full mind-body function before learning and physical activities. By touching the right hand (or elbow) to the left knee and then the left hand (or elbow) to the right knee, you will activate large areas of both brain hemispheres. Repeat 7 to 10 times on each side.
Do the Cross Crawl on a regular basis to stimulate more nerve networks, potentially improving communication between the two hemispheres. Each brain hemisphere controls the opposite side of the body. So by intentionally moving an opposite arm and leg across the midfield, we fire off both brain hemispheres at the same time. This cross lateral movement stimulates the whole brain – the vestibular (balance) system, the reticular activating system (the brain's wake-up call!), the cerebellum (automatic movement), the basal ganglion (intentional movement), the limbic system (emotional balance), and the frontal lobes (reasoning).
Slow cross lateral movement also increases dopamine levels in the brain (enhancing our ability to see patterns and to learn faster).

4. Cook's Hookups use a complex crossover action to assist the brain in much the same way as the Cross Crawl. This exercise can be performed while standing, sitting, or lying down. Hookups are especially helpful if you do them right after you wake up in the morning and whenever you face a stressful situation.
First cross one ankle over the other.
Then stretch your arms out in front of you, with the backs of your hands together and your thumbs pointing down. Lift one hand over the other (with your palms facing each other) and interlock your fingers. Roll your locked hands straight down and in toward your body, so that they eventually rest on your chest with elbows pointed down.
Keep the tip of your tongue touching the centre of the roof of your mouth as you inhale, rest it against your bottom teeth as you exhale. Breathe easily. Hold the position for about a minute.
Next, uncross your arms and legs, plant your feet firmly about shoulders� width apart and place your hands together with only the tips of your fingers and thumbs touching. You can rest your hands in your lap or on your belly for comfort. Maintain the tongue positions and breathing as above. Hold for about a minute

One last thing Mark's therapist had him do at the end was to press his fingers of both hands together so the tips met, and tap each one of them - like starting with the thumbs: tap tap tap tap, then move to the first fingers...taptaptaptap...and continue this until all fingers have been tapped together systemically.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Therapeutic Curriculum Choices


This little item is packed with a lot communication practice!  Last year when my son, on the autism spectrum, spent time with his therapist, we had homework to do, every day.  By Christmas, I decided to stuff my son’s stocking with some therapy flashcards.  We gave his therapist “Buddy Talk” cards, and we gave our son “Family Talk”.  One of the goals was to exercise receptive language and reciprocal language, in a word: two-way communication, so necessary and useful in every day life, and so hard for many children on the spectrum.  Part of the deal was making eye contact while asking, listening, answering ….and waiting for the next person to do the same.  Learning what most take for granted. Using flashcards like this, if not daily, several times a week right within the school day, helps with many communication skills’ issues.

Our homeschool is now well underway.  Part of our school this year includes so many therapeutic measures, and I must admit, I can thank Mother of Divine Grace for this.  There is no other more therapeutic curriculum among Catholic home school options.  Why?  Because Modg is just that unique….it has things built into it,_ therapeutic disciplines_ that when followed and applied to every day education in the home, cover a multitude of disorders and deficiencies; and at every grade level.  For example, the Bible story readings-retellings, having the child listening to the story out loud (and also reading it themselves, because those are two different skills right there),then  retelling it in their own words, while mother writes/types it down, then the child doing the “copywork” on it, writing the very words they spoke to retell it….and lastly, illustrating the story; working creativity and fine motor skills – all therapeutic.  All over the course of a 5 day week. Each step of it is therapy in itself.

It’s interesting that some therapy includes all of the above steps, and insurance either will or will not pay for such therapies….so you could be paying $150 for a therapist to do a similar pattern with your child (or even sequencing a craft …)

Also, in the curriculum, there is memorization, there is the love-hate curricula Writing Road to Reading; hate it if you must  but it is extremely beneficial for children with auditory processing disorders, dyslexia and other reading difficulties.  The same program that therapists use with children to bring them out of the disorders difficulties are in WRTR already (the famed: Orton-Gillingham multisensory education method).  Some experts will tell you that if you use Teach Your Child in 100 Easy Lessons, and they are still not catching onto reading …..change gears…..and use The Writing Road to Reading instead.  It’s likely they have some processing disorder and WRTR will help them navigate the language and decoding much better.  So again, therapeutic.

*If you just can’t like WRTR, (which I would say, give it another try), you can get the best of what WRTR offers in a newer written program called:  All About Reading. It is more scripted and easier to follow for the average home school parent.  Then, the next follow-up would be:   All About Spelling

And speaking of multi-sensory….I notice how Modg touches all the senses.  From the reading, retelling, writing, memorization, exposure to art, music, science, history…..the “method” propelling the curriculum choices is just as important, if not more so, than the curriculum itself.  That’s the formation part.  Formation over information.  When the child is given the right formation, the information comes all the easier.

If you are considering homeschooling your special needs child, I would recommend looking into a program like that which Mother of Divine Grace has to offer.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, October 01, 2012

behold..I am doing a new thing…

…Change.  There’s a word that often strikes anxiousness in those who hear it, anticipate, must face it.

But when I turn to scripture I notice that change is of God.  One such scripture verse that stands out to me, as well as brings me deep peace, is Isaiah 43:19


“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”

I do perceive it.  I love this verse.  It has never grown old to my ears when this cycle of readings come through again and again through the years.  It brings me refreshment and hope.  The whole passage is beautiful; take time to read it.

And so it is with how “change” a “new thing"  has occurred very recently in my very small life in a very small town in the vast world.  In my church, in my neighborhood and even in my family.  Change.  Lots of it. 

But when I look at “change” as a “new thing” ..springing forth…from our God, it takes on an entirely new and acceptable meaning.  I embrace it.  And if you haven’t thought about it much before, I hope for you to take it to heart and embrace it as well.

So, while new responsibilities have fallen to me at our parish, and our neighborhood is changing with some moving out and some new moving in, and my family dynamic is changing nearly every six months now it seems….all these things can make me very, very anxious.  But how relieved and at peace I am to see that God is in control and I have nothing to stress about and everything to be grateful for. 

Change.  Embrace it.  Know your God is bringing forth newness that is good and of God. It is springing forth…whether you see it in your life, or not at this point.  It is there.  It always was.  And will continue to be.

God bless!