St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Monday, November 26, 2012

Advent is nearing…

I do not enjoy the busyness of the “holiday” season…but I do enjoy Advent immensely.  In many ways I wish we could stay in Advent longer..the spiritual enrichment and benefits of the season are so seeping and deepening….in the cold of winter…when all is dreary and gray…there is this spark of hope and light within.  I am grateful for the spiritual seasons the Church gives us to help guide us spiritually….I am grateful for spiritual writers that draw upon scripture and other inspiring, insightful writings, to share with us for our own enrichment.  I share with you one such author of the series In Conversation with God, Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal.  Fr. Francis draws upon the rich writings of St. Josemaria Escriva and his inspirational spiritual guidance along with a  host of other excellent saints, Popes, encyclicals and scriptures.

Pictured here is the Advent & Christmastide Volume 1

Also for little snippets of spiritual inspiration to meditate on at any time…I love St. Josemaria Escriva’s writings at the touch of your laptop or tablet…at Escriva Works.

And if you wish to learn more about St. Josemaria Escriva….do watch the movie There Be Dragons….It is such a great way to learn about this exceptional newer saint and how ordinary life and working with God within it is your path to holiness.  And there is an incredible Pro-life twist to the movie….I will not give away!!….(I watched it on Netflix, by the way).

There is no greater gift than forgiveness.

Asperger's Cats

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Advent Reading for children

Once again we will be entering that wonderful time of anticipation…while we continue to do our regular home school studies, I incorporate some lovely Advent reading for the children…and some Christmas books.  I use two lists, designed originally from Elizabeth Foss of For Real Learning.  The links are below.  Embedding them here to be sure those searching are able to find them easily enough and be on their way to some enrichment in literature for the liturgical season ahead.

Advent Reading – with Tome de Paola books

Advent/Christmas Read Alouds

Super-powers, Neurodiversity

I was so encouraged recently by a friend of mine in Thailand whom I attended school with in the states.  He also has a couple sons on the autism spectrum.  We both post various findings we come across that we find interesting and helpful, but this was probably the most encouraging item I’ve come across via a link he posted at his Facebook recently.  Not so much that it will help me personally and my situation, although it has broadened my horizons with hope, but  because it should help the majority of those on the spectrum within the school system. Even that someone CARES to make the system of special ed and IEPs and environments in the classroom these children exist in, better…more efficient…is a blessing in itself and deserves proclaim.  Right now, “special education” can be somewhat of a difficult procedure if not an outright joke in some schools.  Many schools just simply lack enough intervention specialists, special ed instructors, or incur budget cuts.  Sadly, if your child is the one with the IEP and under the care of the school system daily, they may not be progressing fully nonetheless getting all they need to really bountifully grow within the diversity of their own special condition.

First I want to say I admire the paradigm shift Thomas Armstrong speaks of in his YouTube Video, regarding his findings and procedures towards wiping away how we view special ed children by “deficits” and replacing it with “strengths”and “cultivating strengths” .   Here he is giving a brief overview of his book: ASCD: Neurodiversity in the Classroom, due for release Dec. 2012.

If you go to the book link, you also can scroll down and find some PDF sample pages.  I read them last night and was just so excited for the future of these children.  When we have an advocate in education like this, it gives me such hope.  It also inspires me as a home educator, and affirms that we are doing the right things for our children with special needs at home.  We do utilize strengths – I call them “super powers”….to help them become educated and progress in studies and life itself.  Special therapies, which now we do a lot of in the home after a year of attending them nearly twice a week, also help to improve the cognitive brain processes through physical helps.

To summarize, I am pleased with this encouragement.  I am grateful that there will be more awareness and a shifting toward acceptance that there are different brains out there….and that is really ok.    What a brighter future those non-neuro-typical types will have on the horizon ahead. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Daybook

Outside my window....

Snowflakes beginning….

I am thankful for...

having a beautiful Thanksgiving day with my family and the provisions we need to make it lovely

I am thinking about...

many, many things…..

Learning all the time...

…to be more patient with my mouth….

From the kitchen....

lots of good smells are still lingering from all the cooking and baking…

I am creating...

always.  Always creating a home

I am working on...

my own maturity.  As I expect those around me to grow up and be mature, I am working on it also.

I am going...

to relax this weekend, no religious ed classes, and nothing pressing…so I will bask in the wonderful afterglow of the holiday

I am hoping...

to lose weight again….soon

I am reading...

Arthurian tales ….Sir Thomas Malory

I am praying for...

a good a spiritually deep Advent and Christmas

I am hearing...

the giggles of Mark in the distance…and the deep changed voice of Michael..

Around the house...

our Advent and some Christmas decorations are beginning to appear

One of my favorite things...

my first cup of coffee in the morning, in silence

A few plans for the rest of the week...

paying bills, groceries and finishing up the tree

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...


Monday, November 19, 2012

The Signing…

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this, but I’m sending a book off to Jake Tapper, Senior Correspondent, Washington DC, ABCNews, for him to autograph.  It’s his recently published book The Outpost.  I thought my husband would like it, so it’s his Christmas gift.  Jake actually spoke to me at his Facebook page, maybe because I had a sincere question….asking where I was to send the book for signing, etc.  I am so glad to know we could do it this way because it wasn’t likely I could out to any areas of book signings he’d be at – although that would have been so nice.  This is as close as rural Ohio gets to a senior correspondent :) So, the book gets sent this week.  Pretty cool.  I’m glad he gave us this option.  Works for me!

*as a side note I just want to say (and this is the ethical-moral part of me), that I can not believe the garbage and disrespect some people post on Facebook pages of people in the media.  Granted, they are opened up to that by the job itself, sure.  Jake Tapper has 26,600 followers. But still, I would never talk to someone the way some people do posting rude remarks and comments on this man’s FB.  wow.  I guess he might be use to it by now, but talk about a lack of respect.  Respect, people, RESPECT!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

A spoonful of sugar….

Every Sunday this year, just to help make 8th grade a little more cheery at our PSR weekend program, I’ve been sending snacks.  Mostly cereal bar assortments with a drink.  I noticed last year how nice the 7th grade instructors were in providing some snacks every week, and while my 2nd graders usually get “a treat”, in the way of a small candy or little individual bag of fruit gummy chews, the older kids are all the more hungry and well, you know how teens are…more sleep and more food.  For some it’s asking a lot to even get up that early on a Sunday morning so sweetening the deal is helpful.  I’ve also been paying for them to go to the monthly Knights of Columbus breakfast.  Many of the teachers take their students and pay for the breakfast at a reduced rate, but I just couldn’t ask our college aged teachers to do the same as their funds are tight and I appreciate they are even teaching to begin with.  I do know that there are a few teens in the class that look so forward to attending the breakfast…it’s actually what keeps them going.   And a Sunday a..m. snack while learning about God certainly doesn’t hurt.

So there you have it…this week’s basket is ready (gluten/dairy free for those needing it also):



Outside my window....

Beautiful bright SUNSHINE!

I am thankful for...

sounds..redundant, but friends that care like family and are always there

I am thinking about...

a busy day, both Saturday and Sunday.  A lot of cleaning, preparing, as well as checking at the church to be sure the tables and chairs and everything are back in place for religious ed tomorrow, after our church boutique

Learning all the time...

I am learning about more math programs, computer languages and designing programs because of one of my sons

From the kitchen....

will be baking pumpkin spice cookies today…

I am creating...

more space and cleanliness in this house, I hope

I am working on...

my Christmas list

I am going...

to the church later…and no where on Mon, Tues, Weds, in preparation for the big day ahead

I am hoping...

to have more peace and calm in my heart over many things

I am reading...

The tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, a 1600s translation by Malory.  Loving it all over again

I am praying for...

My oldest son and his future…

I am hearing...

building noises out side as someone is fixing up a house on our street

Around the house...

a little clutter here and there that needs sifted through

One of my favorite things...

the citrus-sage soy candle in a ceramic bird the children bought me a couple Mother’s Days ago….its used up but the wax still smells fragrant and has good memories attached to it

A few plans for the rest of the week...

see above ^ hahaha

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...


This photo always makes me smile.  My great Aunt Evelyn on the left; twin brothers Chester and Charles in the middle, and my paternal grandmother, their sister, Adelaide on the right.  This little family must have brought so much joy to their parents, Louise and Joseph Burg.  I am grateful they are part of my heritage and ancestry. May they all rest in peace+ 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sensory helps…

Sad day when your favorite Sensory therapeutic nubby ball spouts a leak…..


So dad comes to the rescue with a new therapeutic ball….(see the other one completely deflated laying on the floor behind the new one).


Phew…honestly I don’t know how I  would accomplish school without this special therapeutic ball daily ….

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Counting the blessings

Wow, I just finally watched an awesome movie.  I generally am not able to really watch any adult intense movies in this house with two very impressionable and sensitive children about (nightmares..).  But I LOVE a good movie and was delighted to be able to watch Snow White and the Huntsman. Yes, it was a good story and a bit frightening.  I love anything with fairy tales….I also love to watch the ABC series, Once Upon a Time (again, just too scary for my younger brood). Well, Snow White in this recent movie reminds me so much of St. Joan of Arc.  Leading an army, fighting against evil.  It also made  me think of all my blessings on this earth….after all, we must live this life before entering into the next kingdom.  And this life on earth is worth fighting for in the purest sense.  Yes, this movie made me think of life and death on many different levels.

Lately, I feel the ills of mankind in a very strong and forceful way.  Between failing relationships, confused relationships, aging parents, terrible financial stresses and just the responsibilities of family and faith, it’s been hard for me to really see the blessings….and see more of the burdens.  I feel the burdens.  I wonder why I care so much at times when I see things unraveling…others don’t seem to mind. 

And seriously, if I hear one more snarky remark….

So, as Thanksgiving approaches I am starting to consider those blessings.  As we recently studied in our home school about the Pilgrims and various religious sects that made way to this country for religious freedom and a new life….I am reminded of the very fundamental blessings we have.  I am grateful first and foremost for the freedom to homeschool; to be able to choose our own curriculum, including the history I just mentioned that is not published by a mainstream provider, but a Christian provider that doesn’t taint, white-wash and rewrite history with a special lean …I just saw a video on how many of the main textbook provider in this country have such an agenda (new world order stuff)…that makes my stomach turn.  So I am grateful to be able to choose materials that will continue to help my children “know the truth”. 

I won’t bore you with my blessing list….but I will tell you I do have one and it includes many other things.   I hope you will think about yours too and pray in gratefulness for those things in the coming weeks.


Friday, November 09, 2012

Integrity and Advocacy

in·teg·ri·ty ( n-t g r -t ). n. 1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code. 2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness. 3. The quality or condition of being whole.

ad·vo·ca·cy ( d v -k -s ). n. The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support.

Those two words have become very frequent in my vocabulary this last year, not only in verbage, but in action.  I remember our former pastor in residence, Msgr. Molloy, saying that Integrity was the culmination of the virtues as a whole.  Indeed.  When I think about how people gossip, how people thoughtlessly spout out their own opinions anywhere and everywhere, without thought to whom is listening or being effected by it….it really saddens me and in some cases sickens me. Especially in regard to those most innocent and faith issues.  

So – advocacy.  I have learned to have to embrace it thoroughly. Be not afraid.  Sometimes it is not for the faint of heart.  It does take the virtue of courage and tenacity, and chances are you will be disappointed, but have to fight all the harder.  It began with my son who suffers OCD – oh the battle I had to do to fight our way through the healthcare system and advocate on his behalf to get him the help he needed.  No one can really understand what an undertaking that is until they are filling those shoes.  And then after several years of being within it, having to pick up further advocacy for my son with Autism.  He being the more less advantaged and fragile of the two, and needing more helps in place and constant vigilance.

It’s interesting I’ve come to this place, to realize that I am both looked at as difficult and as heroic all at the same time, for fighting for help for my children.  I speak up to those who need spoken up to, and while it is not always easy and I find it places a burden on my heart at times, I look at the greater good it is pertaining to and swallow that bitter pill.  Usually in time the outcome is positive and successful.  But I have those who stay very far away from me also. 

Now I know some of this sounds cryptic and indeed it may because I’m leaving out a lot of specifics and details to protect identities and situations.  But I know you get the gist of it. 

Here is my prayer for you: that you may not fear integrity or advocacy.  That you will draw upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God, do the right things for all those tough decisions you must make and see through.  I come into this with the eyes of a mother and teacher primarily.  Whatever your walk in life may be, may you have the graces given you to empower you to journey with integrity and advocacy as your companions.

God bless +

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Victories big and small…

There’s been a lot of talk about defeats lately, but I want to pause and mention some victories instead.  They won’t seem like much to you, but to me and my family, they mean everything.

My son with OCD-anxiety has been in therapy for four years and on medication for three of those years.  He has come a long ways, but every now and then he makes a leap.  He made one this summer attending a wedding out of state that was a long hard drive for him, and was attended by 500 people, and 1,000 at the reception.  It was completely out of his comfort zone, but he pulled it off.  Such a victory!

There have been a few assorted victories the last few months.  Sometimes when he sees a creature from a video game or cartoon the ugliness of that creature sticks with him.  Thus his difficulty with things like Ben 10.  He is not very tolerant of grossness – aliens, creepy creatures and down right ugly monsters.  His psychiatrist is working with him to desensitize himself to these things so that *if he has exposure he won’t ruminate over and over with it.  His medication, in fact, is for the ruminations.  Sooo, recently, he did see something that a few years ago, while he was in the midst of his horrible mental breakdown and the OCD had total grip and control of him…totally freaked him out.  Recently, he caught glimpse of it while shopping on the front of a DVD cover…and while he mentioned it, and it still troubled him…he never mentioned it again, he slept and didn’t get nauseated over it.  Another victory!

And then yesterday, a very good victory.  He went to a different dentist after 12 years of going to the same pediatric dentist.  The new dentist was much closer by (very close, just on our corner), and my son had never had dental work done with a shot before.  Well, this time he needed one – and the dentist is so swift my son didn’t even know he had given him the numbing.  I could tell he was a little nervous, but he did absolutely beautifully, and he goes back next week for another filling, and then later for a couple sealants.  This is truly a victory!  And I gave our son the choice of where he would like to go – back to his pediatric dentist for the work, and to the local dentist.  He chose, and he was victorious in handling it.

All these things make a huge difference in a child the suffers OCD.  He is improving, re-training the brain, and moving forward with his life and our family is progressing also.  At one time we were at a total standstill due his disorder taking over.  Now we have wonderful breakthroughs to report and hurdles that have been made successfully.

I am grateful.

Next post, my son with autism. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Eduardo Verastegui's Urgent Message For Latinos

The beautiful My November Guest by Robert Frost [below] sums up my sentiments for November. 
It seems through the years that November has brought both its fleeting last days of beauty as it surrenders to winter, change, and sometimes grief. This November, while still so young, is no different. 

Many Novembers we have lost loved ones to death.  I’m not sure why there have been so many that have left us in November (it would be a good question for God), but it has been so with us as a family. And I suppose fittingly so, as we have just celebrated All Souls, and prayed for those that have gone before us. My husband and I think back to all the funerals we have been to in November and even remember some of the music played for particular loved ones.  “How Can I Keep from Singing”, is one such hymn that stays in our hearts and minds still.

And so here we are in November.  I pray for all those so cruelly affected by Hurricane Sandy as they begin to face November; that all their immediate and long term needs are met quickly and sufficiently that they can put their lives back together and move forward.

Peace and healing+


My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise

Robert Frost