Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
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…..you 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
Our Village is a Little Different: Theology of the Body: Middle School Edition - #Catholic @cwestTOB
Monday, February 27, 2012
Chardon High School Shooting 2/27/2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
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
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!
- Some general syllabi for K through 8th:
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
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.
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
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
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
Sunday, February 19, 2012
So now, we prepare for First Communion. :)
Thank you all for your prayers!
Friday, February 17, 2012
"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: "Charity...is 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: www.cukierski.net/free.html 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 Abebooks.com
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 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.
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.