St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Needless to say, I am attempting to enjoy each twelve days of Christmas this year more than ever.  I have taken on so much in 2013, and there have been so many zingers thrown at me to deal with;  I am milking Christmastide for all it’s worth – really in order to gain some recharging of myself so I can strive forward and onward in the new year ahead. 

How do I enjoy it?  To be honest, it doesn’t take much for me.  I am a very easily satisfied person as long as I get to have access to a little quiet time, within the walls of my own home.  For me, it usually means going out for a walk first, breathing in the freshness and generally just using those legs!  Making some excellent tea or fine coffee, and sitting comfortably in my own room, on the bed usually, nestled inside my lovely jacquard satin comforter, and reading a wonderful book or  watching TV or movies that I never got to see several years ago. Right now, it’s “watching”.  Our TV is up front and center in our living room, and I have such restrictions on TV watching, and of course I would never watch anything in front of the children that would disturb them.  I am a big sci-fi fan, selective Doctor Who episodes is about what they can watch in that genre.  But I just started to enjoy Christmas vacation beginning with Season 1 of Fringe, a series I never got to see. It was recommended to me because  I was a huge X-files fan, and when it ended, my TV viewing ended, quite literally. By then I had three children ages, 11, 9 and 3.  I never watched anything else..for many years.  I decided to watch the reboot of Doctor Who, (2005) this last summer just to see if it would give me some diversion… worked.  Now I’m hooked. I can honestly say I haven’t been involved in TV since since 2002!!  So it took me another decade to get on board with something.  I have more recently watched Downton Abbey on PBS, and I like it, but not to the point of obsession. So,  I am enjoying Fringe so far….it will give me many seasons to enjoy as I obviously just don’t enjoy much on TV at all currently.  (I’m watching Fringe on Netflix).

A light snow has fallen here in my area and we will be off later to the big city for appointments.  Did I mention my house is in utter disarray due to the holiday joy spent around the Christmas tree!?  Oh my…I won’t tackle cleaning until after New Years. 

Enjoy this sixth day of Christmas….the Six geese a’laying….marking the six days of Creation.  

God bless ~ Denise

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today marks the remembrance of the innocent children slaughtered at the hands of King Herod in his outrage that the Magi did not return to him with details of the whereabouts of the “newborn king.” Matt 2:16   Evil does not respect life.  And so it is we find ourselves surrounded by a culture of death.

I will not post any of the great and ancient masterpieces depicting the deaths of the children – the Holy Innocents – as I find them ever so difficult to gaze upon.  As a mother I can not bear the thought of the pain the parents of these children endured.  But I will leave you with strong commanding and thoughtful words from Pope Francis, defender of life as given by Almighty God, in commemoration of this day.  Thank God we have a pro-life VOICE rising up above other voices and demanding life be respected.  Our politicians try, yes, but how skeptical we are to listen to them when they seem to be so….political.   If not for a big attention catching Christian voice speaking out all over the globe…..I fear what would become of us all.

Feast of the Holy Innocents: Politicians Who Promote Abortion are the King Herod's of the Hour

CHOOSE LIFE Deut. 30:19

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas

Today marks the Feast of St. Stephen or (Boxing Day) the day after Christmas day…one of the twelve days of Christmas.  For traditional Christians whose roots extend back to before the reformation times, and follow apostolic succession from St. Peter[1] forward, and develop up through the centuries,  the next twelve days are Christmastide, or Twelvetide as they are sometimes referred to and are a profession of faith in song.  The “Christmas season” has now begun, and will end around Epiphany, the feast of the Three Kings…the Church is rich in heritage and symbolism of a visual church on earth….([1]"On this rock (petra in Greek) I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it." Matt 16:18)

The beautiful twelve days of Christmas chant or song that we’ve come to know speaks of this special time, an expression of Christian belief as outlined here:

1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.
2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.
12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed[2].

This chant has existed since the  late 1700s, around 1780s first prints of it came to be….it was fine tuned into the song variation we know most commonly around the early 1900s.  (1909 arrangement of the traditional folk melody by English composer Frederic Austin, who first introduced the now familiar prolongation of the verse "five gold rings". Wikipedia)

May you enjoy a blessed and joyful Christmas season, may it deepen your faith life and relieve your anxiety and bring you peace, comfort and assurance in the saving power of Christ, the partridge in a pear tree.


[2] Apostles Creed (profession of faith - Catholic and used by many other Christian traditions of the Western world, dating back to its origins, from the Council in Milan to Pope Siricius in about 390):

The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives the following English translation of the Apostles' Creed.[21] In its discussion of the Creed,[22] the Catechism maintains the traditional division into twelve articles, the numbering of which is here added to the text.

1. I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
4. Under Pontius Pilate, He was crucified, died, and was buried.
5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
9. the holy catholic* Church, the communion of saints,
10. the forgiveness of sins,
11. the resurrection of the body,
12. and the life everlasting.

(*catholic, meaning “universal”)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The family is ready….

…but the weather has changed to a warmer 50 degrees on the first day of winter in Ohio.  By Christmas day it will have dropped back to 25… I’ll take this (rainy) day and run with it!

The Quad of Kids is ready for the festivities! 

Here’s the Artsy one, soon to turn 23, Mount Union grad of ‘13.  Doesn’t look a thing like me, right?  ha! 


And the illuminated one….the beauty of the family, soon to be a college senior next year…this one can not take a bad pic ….truly photogenic


The over anxious brainy one! He over thinks everything!  He is also ready for anything with his sonic screwdriver and talks up a storm about all things hypothetical and algebraic and cryptic! 


And finally…the different processing one!  Full of scientific information and facts and instructions….he reads a high school biology book for fun every night !……the dimples are the catch!


And so together, they comprise a wonderful gene pool of looks and talents and endless possibilities…..

PicMonkey XMasCollage

Enjoy your beautiful and blessed holiday season…..I’ll return after the some of the festivities fade into sweet memories….

God bless!  Denise

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Using John the Baptist as an example of a special different child

REPOSTING this wonderful article from another blog, Not Alone, a blog on parenting special needs children.



Your Child’s Differences Can Make a Difference in the World


One of my favorite women from the the Christmas story is Elizabeth. Luke tells us Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah were “both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years” (1:6). But an angel visited Zechariah and told him he and Elizabeth would have a son.

But this son would be a little different. He would do great things for God, but he must not drink wine or strong drink. He would instead be filled with the Holy Spirit, even in Elizabeth’s womb. When their son was born, Elizabeth and Zechariah broke with the tradition of naming him after his father and instead named him John. The entire situation was so strange, Luke tells us, “all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, ‘What then will this child be?’” (1:65-66).

We know that baby grew up to be John the Baptist, but he never outgrew his reputation of being a little different.

Matthew 3:4 tells us, “Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.” He preached a different message than the Jews had heard before, one of repentance and baptism. He even had the honor of baptizing Jesus. But he was outspoken and bold, which eventually led to his death–he was imprisoned for speaking out against Herod taking his brother’s wife and was then beheaded at her request.

Maybe, like John, when your child was born, your neighbors whispered to each other about how different he was. Maybe your daughter dresses in her own unique way, and doesn’t care what her peers think. Maybe your son seems to have no filter and speaks the truth, even when it gets him (or you!) in trouble.

When the neighbors peered at the baby John and asked “What then will this child be?” they had no idea the path he would travel. But, Luke 1:66 tells us, “the hand of the Lord was with him.” The hand of the Lord is with your child, too.

Our kids are different. We can either see that as a hindrance to them, or we can look at this story of John the Baptist as our example. Jesus Himself said of John, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (Luke 7:28).

God used John’s differences to make a difference in the world.

Thank God today for your child’s differences. Ask Him to remind you of the ways those differences have made a difference in your life or the lives of others.


Sandra Peoples

Sandra is a pastor's wife and mom to three boys. She's the author of Speechless: Finding God's Grace in My Son's Autism and Held: Learning to Live in God's Grip (a Bible study for special-needs parents).

Saint Nicholas Center

The REAL Santa Claus…..St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra

Discover the real story at:  Saint Nicholas Center

O Adonai (O Lord)

So…I spent 7 hours in the dark and cold yesterday…all from the comfort of my home :)  Yes, it was a “no power” exercise in patience and gratefulness.  I am SO proud that my kids didn’t complain.  Instead, I lit every Yankee Candle I had, we listened to the “boom box” gently playing Christmas music and they TALKED and they played board games…actually, it was quite a relaxing “forced” break!  I needed a mini-vacation anyway!

So, today I play catch-up.  Alas, everyone is still sleeping!  Cold has a way of wearing you out!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*       ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

I leave you with this lovely Advent scripture (O Antiphon) for today:

O Adonai:
“O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” Isaiah had prophesied, “But He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.” (Isaiah 11:4-5); and “Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic; yes the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save us.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*             ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

From Wikipedia:

The O Antiphons are Magnificat antiphons used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions.

They are referred to as the "O Antiphons" because the title of each one begins with the interjection "O".[1] Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:

  • December 17: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
  • December 18: O Adonai (O Lord)
  • December 19: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
  • December 20: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • December 21: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • December 22: O Rex Gentium (O King of the nations)
  • December 23: O Emmanuel (O With Us is God)

God bless you this 18th day of December ~ as we await the joyful celebration of Emmanuel, God with us!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Did the Emperor Constantine found the Catholic Church?

Free eBook, from Amazon

Before it’s gone…check it out ….this spiritual book authored by Pope Francis is a FREE download to your Kindle right now….hardbound sells for $29.99!  Get it while it’s available:

Open Mind, Faithful Heart

Gaudete Sunday….Rejoice!

We are nearing the final leg of the Advent Season.  That means Christmas celebrations are in full swing and this is the last week to “get it altogether” before the special day hits!  In a more spiritual sense we are anticipating that renewal and refreshment that can only come from within through the power of God – by inviting Him, having conversation with Him; yes, talking to Him….and remembering He came to us as a little child.  Our God, our Savior….a little child.


Yesterday we lit the Rose colored candle of the Advent wreath, signifying “gaudete”, Latin for: “rejoice”,  marking ever so closer  our spiritual journey toward preparation of the New Born King’s arrival in our hearts and souls.  A visual reminder of our journey, and that we are almost there…..How I love that our Church (universal)  gives us such wonderful spiritual opportunities with each liturgical season to consider ourselves deeply, evaluate, meditate and improve areas of our lives, growing closer in our conversations with God.  Advent is one such time, ,and it does not disappoint.

Yesterday was both a tough day and a beautiful day.  My morning began as usual, as it has for the last 22+ years …..with arising much earlier than the rest of the family, getting myself ready then awaking the others, and heading off to our religious education sessions before church services.  God has a sense of humor, indeed…and a sense of just where I need to be adjusted each year to make it new and interesting!!  This year I have been very challenged by both my own autistic son and his sensory overload and needs…..and another young child in my own classroom who suffers from ADHD quite severely and is off his medication on weekends.  There is such total disruption in the classroom, none that I have ever experienced before in 22 years of teaching.  With 110 hours of certified credit hours behind me…and 22 yrs of “in the trenches” experience, NOTHING prepares you for this! Haha!! To remain “comfortable” and relaxed and rote….uh, no way!  God is doing “something new”…for sure!   I definitely have a lively group!


Mark playing at Grandpa’s after family Christmas dinner get together

Thank God for family, really.  Later we traveled far out of our area and settled in with my husband’s side of the family for a dinner and Christmas celebration with relatives coming from far and wide.  My father-in-law is an amazing 91 year old!….and doing well.  My husband is the “baby” of the family, and all the cousins of my children are WAY older than my children… my youngest ones, of ages 14 and 10, do not have any age mate cousins at all, on either side of our families.  It makes for such an interesting dynamic.  I am so proud of how my children can converse and get along with adults on so many levels. It’s so sweet to see how the older cousins in their mid to late twenties and even thirties interact with their youngest cousins. And….to have a patriarch of the family, a grandfather quite that old, is really an incredible blessing! 


And so this week unfolds with sweet sugary memories of yet another family annual special occasion lingering in our minds and hearts… we push on toward our goal:  the Birth of the Newborn King; Emmanuel, God with Us.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A glimpse of Christmas

..a glimpse of Christmas in our cozy little living room…..


…and outside on our street…..


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Exchange: Update to Curriculum 2013-14

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Exchange: Update to Curriculum 2013-14: Our December update on home school and curriculum we have made it to about weeks 10-14 of our studies, depending on the courses..h...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Pope: When faith becomes an ideology, it can make Christians hostile and...

(Excerpt from;

Pope Francis has been very clear about how he feels about ideological purity in religion. He’s been particularly critical of right-wing Christian fundamentalism. Pope Francis has shifted the focus of the Catholic Church to issues facing the poor and the sick. He has railed against economic inequality and has criticized the anti-gay and anti-abortion strains that have come to dominate the Christian Right here in America. Such ideological extremism is dangerous, not only to Christianity, but to the world. And Pope Francis said as much last Thursday.

Pope Francis called right-wing Christian fundamentalism a sickness.

During a daily Mass last week, Pope Francis called ideological Christianity “an illness” that doesn’t serve Jesus Christ. Instead, it “frightens” people and pushes them away from religion.

According to Radio Vatican, the Pope said:

“In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”

Based on past statements, Pope Francis’ remarks were aimed mostly at the Christian Right.

While Pope Francis did not specifically mention Christian right-wing ideology during the Mass, his past remarks suggest he was talking about that ideology most of all.

In September, Pope Francis attacked “savage capitalism” and took up the plight of the unemployed against a system that worships money. Earlier that month, the Pope also criticized conservative Catholics for focusing so much on abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception. And in July, Pope Francis put the brakes on hating gay people, saying that we shouldn’t judge or marginalize them.

Clearly, Pope Francis isn’t fond of the extreme ideals of the Christian Right. He supports helping the poor. He believes in economic fairness. He denounces hatred of gay people. He thinks the war against abortion and birth control has gone too far. Considering all of these things, it’s pretty obvious that Pope Francis was mostly talking to right-wing Christians on Thursday. Their ideological fanaticism has damaged religion. They have abandoned the true teachings of Jesus to pursue an extremist agenda. And Pope Francis just called them out for it. Cue right-wing rage in 3, 2, 1…

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Advent Beginnings…

As my husband and I return to conduct the bible study for the parishes, we are going to give out copies of this for our participants’ enrichment this month to engage in Advent scripture readings daily.


Please feel free to download it – it prints out very nicely.

May God bless you with a beautiful Advent season beginning this first day of Advent!


Saturday, November 30, 2013

Temple Grandin on Autism Diagnosis and "Labels"

Temple Grandin has a new DVD presentation out; the above is an excerpt from it. I think I'd like to make it a Christmas present to myself this year :) You can find it at: Temple Grandin 2014 New Presentation DVD

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Preparing for Advent


Yes, I’m wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving while all the while anticipating the start of Advent, coming upon us quickly now, this Sunday Dec 1st.

Here is a lovely way to make your personal way through Advent, via Kelly Wahlquist.  Visit her site daily to reflect.


November 29, 2013  /  Kelly Wahlquist




Prepare your heart this Advent over a cup of coffee and little "sips" of the "Joy of the Gospel" with us! Each day we are going to read & reflect on sections of Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium. Fear not, if you don't know what an apostolic exhortation is, fellow co-worker in the vineyard, Jimmy Akin has a great explanation over on his blog

Here’s a little taste of his post:

2) What is an apostolic exhortation?

It’s a papal document that, as the name suggests, exhorts people to implement a particular aspect of the Church’s life and teaching.

Its purpose is not to teach new doctrine, but to suggest how Church teachings and practices can be profitably applied today.

Some apostolic exhortations are devoted to the pastoral challenges faced in particular parts of the world (Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas). Others are devoted to particular themes.

Previous apostolic exhortations include:

Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi (on evangelization today)

    John Paul II’s Christifideles Laici (on the role of the laity)

    John Paul II’s Redemptoris Custos (on St. Joseph)

    Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis (on the Eucharist)

    Benedict XVI’s Verbum Domini (on the Word of God)

Here's our schedule for Advent. We'll post the paragraphs and perhaps a little reflection each day to go with your coffee:

Dec. 1     2-8 (Joy)

Dec. 2    9-13 (Joy of Evangelizing)

Dec. 3    14-18 (Scope of exhortation)

Dec. 4    19-24 (Church's missionary transformation)

Dec. 5    25-33 (Pastoral Activity & Conversion)

Dec. 6    34-39 (Heart of the Gospel)

Dec. 7    40-45 (Human Limits)

Dec. 8    46-49 (Mary)

Dec. 9    50-58 (Amid Crisis: idolatry of money)

Dec. 10   59-75 (Cultural Challenges)

Dec. 11    76-92 (Temptations of pastoral workers & Relationship in Christ)

Dec. 12    93-109 (No to spiritual worldliness)

Dec. 13    110-126 (People of God proclaim the Gospel)

Dec. 14    127-134 (Person to Person, Charisms, Culture)

Dec. 15    135-144 (The Homily)

Dec. 16    145-159 (Preparing to Preach)

Dec. 17    160-175 (Kerygma)

Dec. 18    176-185 (Social dimensions of evangelization)

Dec. 19    186-216 (Inclusion of the poor in society)

Dec. 20    217-237 (Common Good and Peace in Society)

Dec. 21    238-258 (Social dialogue as contribution to peace)

Dec. 22    259-274 (Spirit-filled evangelizers)

Dec. 23    275-283 (Personal encounter with Christ)

Dec. 24    284-288 (Mary)

VISIT http://kellywahlquist for these meditations

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lego Learning Club for home school

I have been leading various age group Lego Learning Clubs at home school co-ops for several years now.  So many children are drawn to Lego bricks, and the “hands-on” work they provides.  It keeps them busy and creative, and it lures them into learning :) 

Lego manipulatives are excellent for fine motor skills, as well as thought processes – eye to hand motor controls, spatial and organization processes….the list goes on.  You can read more in depth here:

Scholastic’s Using Lego to Build Math Concepts

I feel that using Lego at home with our math has really helped my own children become more proficient …..and recently I came across a great website that detailed using Lego bricks as manipulatives to visually depict math concepts, and get some good hands-on work.

I didn’t always use Lego at first in the earliest years of math when we first began homeschooling, I used Cuisinaire Rods w/activity books, and “crunchy math”….yes, Goldfish crackers for manipulatives and eating enjoyment while doing math.  These were and still are fun ways to lighten up math and help little ones enjoy math, rather than build an attitude of dread towards it.

The co-op Lego club I’m recently involved in has served so many purposes for a couple different age groups – the teen group being the largest and comprised of both girls and boys.  They are a lively bunch!  For the first 6-7 weeks I challenged them with Lego building, and free builds, to build the building skills….then introduced, Creationary, a Lego board game using bricks and involving on the spot creative planning and building, and cooperative play.  It has been a great success – they love the game!

We will continue to do Creationary into the winter, then I will move into “concept” learning, and help them to look at bricks as geometric and math related manipulatives.  Lego bricks are great to get the concept of fractions across with….the kids “get it” and more easily remember, and enjoy doing the math! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Doctor Who revisited…the big celebration…

SO…yes, the big Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration happened at the library.  It was epic!

A picture is worth a thousand words:







There’s just too many to post, and some are not my property, so if you visit the link to the library……you can see more there. 


…and Feliz Navidad.  That’s the kind of Christmas pageant that occurs when you are doing music with 11 prek-3rd boys at your home school co-op ;)  It’s rather amusing that the 4th –6th grade grouping has girls in it, but below that is all boys.  STILL, we are having a great time with 11 active little boys singing their hearts out weekly, with hand motions and antics of all kinds.  They love Willoughby Wallaby Woo, and Baby Beluga and Down by the Bay, among a few…..we have been having a wonderful time and introducing them to singing, signing and performing in a fun way.(Hear Tingalayo here)

So, it’s true, besides, Silent Night, their featured songs for the Christmas party are: Feliz Navidad, and Tingalayo, which I lead them in on guitar. 

More fun than a barrel of monkeys?…Yes!  I believe so.  It really is!  And so close to home this year, a new and different location, so new and growing experiences for my own children.


Also, such wonderful encouragement happening for me in the home schooling arena.  After literally years of home schooling, well, you know, it doesn’t get easier….you just know it better….but with each year different challenges are brought forth.  This is especially so with children of special needs.  How home school and prep looked to my oldest two, will look differently for my next two.  I will strive for the highest standard for them however, but tailor things more to their situations and what they may be looking toward doing with their lives.  Who can know for sure at these young ages ?  Even at age 18-19-20-21…young people often do not really know what path to take, nonetheless if it’s a done deal and they are tracked on it.  Different talents develop into young adulthood, different thoughts and likes and dislikes can shape what they once though they’d like to do….

Really, keeping them whole and healthy and well-educated, exposed to good social situations and well, it is all part of the parent’s job to raise them and help form them with Faith and decency to make right and ethical choices in this world.

I am so proud of my 14 yr old son right now as he has broadened his horizons so much lately.  He has been tutoring a 5th grade math student weekly (and being paid for it – as the mother would not take “no” for an answer) …And he’s been helping once a month at the Salvation Army food pantry in town, all on his own….he asked to do it.   His “girl fan” base is growing since Doctor Who and square dancing….not sure what to make of all the young ladies that are texting, calling and Facebooking him :)…but, it just does my heart good to see and know he can have friends of both genders and be good and respectful to all. His social circles have definitely grown, something I wasn’t sure I’d see due to anxiety disorder.  But, he has made such progress.  Praise God!


I am so BLESSED and so excited to be working with some of the loveliest, kindest, gentle and holy women on the planet right now, by way of Mother of Divine Grace.  It is so true that Laura Berquist in her founding wisdom, was set on sharing a quality classical education path with others, and in doing so, the side-effect is very forming in the mothers using the  program  that teach their children. Real Modg’ers are such lovely broad minded helpful ladies.  They think outside of the box, always putting their Christian charity and faith first.  This program is so good for the mothers and they learn so much.  But, aside this wonderful perk, I am just thrilled to be working among these women, these teachers, consultants, administrators, directors, office personnel,….I can not say enough good about them, and how they lift my spirits and affirm what I have felt and known in my heart and mind.  It certainly warms and fuels my little part of the world, where as a mother of special needs children, it can be very lonely with no one really asking or caring about how you are doing.  I’m quite sure I come across as having it altogether.  Those who really know me, know it is not an easy path.  So praise God when the load is lightened and I can take my experience and share it with other mothers who are new to the program.

For this I am VERY grateful right now as we approach the Thanksgiving season.

And so today I reflect on the past week, the busy-ness, today the tasks at hand, all with a grateful and humble heart, for how God has worked in my life, morphing things here and there….really, all for my benefit.  How great is our God?!

Have a beautiful Saturday and blessed Sunday wherever you may be!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Eating right does make a difference…

…’s time to lose some weight again.  But more importantly, it’s time to eat right again.  It makes such a difference for a person with thyroid disorder to watch their food intake, avoid inflammatory type foods and avoid carbohydrates and sugars as much as possible.

..I do love the Paleo way of eating the best.  It gives me exactly the kinds of foods that agree with my body and digest easily, help me lose weight, and make me feel better.  In just THREE days, sticking to such a regimen has made such a difference in my energy level and overall attitude and moods.

….Women especially can be so emotionally charged due to hormones and changes in their bodies monthly over and over…the cycle you wish to end! Been there and done that, and may I say, after overcoming infertility and being blessed with four beautiful children, which I am ever so grateful for…(doing it all the natural way, without any fertility assistance)….I am already post menopause.  I guess I didn’t have much fertility to begin with!

..So, I’m hoping to feel better, lose weight and just take life head on here through some proactive changes in diet; after all, I owe it to my children to be the best me I can be, as I worked so hard to co-create with God’s help and blessings!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Curriculum using Papal Encyclicals or …

Why I love home schooling with Mother of Divine Grace Catholic Distance Study Program

This should probably read; MORE reasons why I love home schooling with Mother of Divine Grace!

It is true we have used Modg from the beginning, well, nearly the beginning,.  Yes, at first we experimented a little with Preschool (ordering Our Lady of the Rosary boxed) and then the same for Kindergarten…our K’er was completely finished with OLofR by that December…….I thought: now what do I do for the rest of the school year?!  So, I ordered Calvert in a box.  It gave us far more material, but wasn’t Catholic, so I ended up supplementing.  At that time I used Pauline publications catechetical materials.  But, I did learn a lot by using Calvert, and it is where I came across my Beatrix Potter Unit Study, which was a very worth while resource.

At some point, I don’t even remember how or where, I came across Mother of Divine Grace – a catalog I believe.  And later I discovered a book, by Laura Berquist, the founder and director of Mother of Divine Grace, called “Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum – A Guide to Catholic Home Education.”   After reading that book, I immediately located a sales provider of the Modg Syllabi.  I purchased the Kindergarten and First Grade lesson plans (syllabi).  I was sold.  I realized I didn’t have to be doing a ton of things with my young student every day….but what I did need to do was very focused and concentrated on giving them the first most important tools of learning….reading, math, writing and religion.

Original book left,  and Revised copy

And so, to make a long lovely story short, our love for this program continues.  Currently, I want to focus on their Science programs.  They are so formative in Catholic teaching.  They are very purposefully chosen and each holds a special purpose beyond just science information.  Following the Modg science path from the earliest years leads you to 11th grade biology – (Chemistry for 12th is optional) But, as you reach 11th you have completed the several disciplines of the Earth Science course and become proficient in essay writing; you have had the pre-requisite of the Natural Science course, learning awe and wonder of the natural world, as given us by a great creator God….that then gives you a good and proper foundation to move into a Biology that respects life.  The Apologia biology is a good and necessary textbook for the program, but those doing it without the Modg syllabus to accompany it are missing a huge formation in Catholic teaching on the biology sciences, particularly Evolution and the Church.[1]  Modg does a wonderful job in including essay writing, and definition writing (science formation) of information in the text, along with the encyclical Humani Generis, and the reading of Darwin’s Black Box.   These are very important to the biology course and there are many discussion questions to follow in the syllabus that accompanies this Modg course.  All very important to a Catholic formation in the sciences.

THIS is just another reason why I love Catholic education and in particular how Modg has taken an already well done Christian textbook  and brought into the resource an important Catholic identity.  When we remove the Catholic teaching and purely look at just the text without addressing particular and important Catholic elements….the student loses.  Our Catholic faith can and should permeate our learning, our courses, our child’s courses, and certainly form and inform our choices in all areas of life.

I can not end my science discourse without also mentioning the Modg Health course.  I love nothing more than getting my child to the crowning glory of the Modg program, giving them the crown jewels of the Health course, Advanced American Government & Economics, and Catholic Doctrine religion course.  There could not be three  more well written Catholic student courses.  The students read at least 7-8 encyclicals combined between these courses and the “health” is from a wholesome “healthy” theology of the body view, pro marriage and family, and anti-contraception.  I love that my 12th graders end their high school years with these crown jewels of courses given them.  If your student is destined to go to a non-Catholic college, I highly recommend these courses as part of their senior year. 

When we are preparing our children to “go out there”, we are preparing them in many ways to “do battle” with the secular and pagan factions of the world at large.  It is honest, right and ethical to choose the right weapons to train them with.  They need much, much more than just a superficial faith appearance, going through the motions of faith….the faith must be rooted deeply and living, thriving within them.  Give the students the roots of the faith – I feel these resources are very strong and able to build a lasting foundation of Catholic teaching within young minds and hearts.


[1] For an interesting non-Catholic written view of the Church & Evolution, follow this link to:

The Vatican’s View of Evolution: the Story of Two Popes, by Doug Linder, 2004

Monday, November 04, 2013

November Days

It is beginning to look a lot like November in my neck of the woods.  This was the first Monday in many, many months, we returned home from my son’s anxiety therapy and it was nearly dark out.  We had gone to the appointment, taken grandma to do some Christmas shopping at World Market, eaten at Bob Evans, then headed back home.  It was a productive day.


Whenever we go to the therapist as of late, I realize more and more, so much has changed for us since April 2013.  Somehow, it all began with my son’s regular therapist of nearly 5 years, leaving.  He fared well adjusting to the new therapist and made great strides of progress over the last several months; in fact the last 8 months have been monumental in his progress..something I never thought I’d see…at least for many many more years.  So blessed!  

Then, we received news that my son’s long time psychiatric doctor is retiring.  My heart definitely dropped when I heard this news; this has been the best doctor – he has helped us so much over the years.  Now, we await news on a replacement doctor.


It is also very busy time in our lives right now…we have settled into a fairly good school day pattern, mixed with occasional appointments and my own work at home with phone appointments and data base keeping as I continue my educational consulting work.  It is working out nicely and I am very grateful to have some side work right now.

I have our parish school of religion program to continue to oversee and organize, and outreach through it to youth group and music for the children as well as some other assorted activities.  Right now, I’m working on toddler program during the 10:30 mass, for parents who need a break from the children at church (we are seeing many young couples in need of this lately), as well as a regular pre-school PSR program added to our already 140+ Kindergarten thru high school program.  I’m thinking ages 3-4, if not potty trained, perhaps a parent needs to stay with the child to assist. 

We have the locations, we have the resources, we just need the volunteers to help. 


The other day I was paid the loveliest compliment by an older male parishioner on how grateful he is that myself and my husband do so much for our parishes.  I was taken back by it, not expecting such a kind remark, and am very grateful myself.  I really feel that couples, where they are able, need to reach out and help in church areas.  We are doing what we feel we can for our abilities and talents – serving where we feel best placed and hoping we make a difference.

I’m feeling content amid the changes and busyness, and I think staying spiritual grounded really helps, (if I can pass that tip along ….)

Now, if I could just stop eating all the delicious candies and goodies I feel compelled to indulge in over the autumn and holiday season months! *sigh

Lisa Nielsen: The Innovative Educator: 15 Key Facts about Homeschool Kids in College

Lisa Nielsen: The Innovative Educator: 15 Key Facts about Homeschool Kids in College: In recent years, homeschooling has seen a rise in popularity, with more and more parents deciding to educate their children outside of sch...

Friday, November 01, 2013

All Saints 1512

This from Writer’s Almanac today:

Today is All Saints' Day, and Pope Julius II chose this day in 1512 to display Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for the first time. It took Michelangelo four years to complete the paintings that decorate the ceiling of the chapel. The paintings are of scenes from the Old Testament, including the famous center section, "The Creation of Adam." The chapel itself was built about 25 years earlier, and various Renaissance painters were commissioned to paint frescos on the walls.

Michelangelo was 33 years old at the time, and he tried to point out to the pope that he was a sculptor, and not really a painter, but the pope wouldn't listen. Michelangelo used his skills as a sculptor to make the two-dimensional ceiling look like a series of three-dimensional scenes — a technique that was relatively new at the time. It took him four years to finish the job, between 1508 and 1512. He worked from a scaffold 60 feet above the floor, and he covered about 10,000 square feet of surface. Every day, fresh plaster was laid over a part of the ceiling and Michelangelo had to finish painting before the plaster dried.

The German writer Wolfgang von Goethe wrote, "We cannot know what a human being can achieve until we have seen [the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel]."



All Saints

by Barbara Crooker

It's one day past the Day of the Dead, and this has been
a bad year, six funerals already and not done yet.
But on this blue day of perfect weather, I can't muster
sadness, for the trees are radiant, the air thick as Karo
warmed in a pan. I have my friend's last book spread
on the table and a cup of coffee in a white china mug.
All the leaves are ringing, like the tiny bells of God.
My mother, too, is ready to leave. All she wants now
is sugar: penuche fudge, tapioca pudding, pumpkin roll.
She wants to sit in the sun, pull it around her shoulders
like an Orlon sweater, and listen to the birds
in the far-off trees. I want this sweetness to linger
on her tongue, because the days are growing shorter
now, and night comes on, so quickly.

"All Saints" by Barbara Crooker, from Gold. © Cascade Books, 2013. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers. (buy now)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The TARDIS travels…

And so the TARDIS was transported to her new place for the 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who, at our local library.

DOCTOR WHO 50th Anniversary Celebration








Into the family van she goes!  Carefully placed by my oldest son and husband…….

Happy Travels all my Whovian friends!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Doctor Who TARDIS regenerated

And so, what will I do with my life now that the TARDIS for the library program has been completed?  LOL!!  Oh, it’s been great fun creating a London Police Call Box, in TARDIS blue (Thrill Seeker blue paint from True Value, #31B7).

This is the finished product:

TARDIS front finished withM&M

TARDIS inside side with Mark

TARDIS Rocket side Mark's face



TARDIS corner view

And this is what it all began with, a recycled VBS prop that was a “rocket” used for SKY VBS one year:



And one last thing….Isn’t this the most precious thing you’ve seen, Whovians??  I just love it!

TARDIS and winnie the pooh

Saturday, October 19, 2013

TARDIS building…..

Yes, I can’t believe I’m even doing this!   Oh the things you do for the fun of your children :) well, and maybe even yourself.

I’ve saved a VBS prop from 2 years ago.  Really, I’m not sure why it was still floating around with us at our educational wing at church, but I suspect it was too big for the person to have to relocate.  He said we could just keep it, break it up, etc.,  Well, so it sat….until suddenly it occurred to me, a couple weeks ago, it was a great structure to turn into  a Doctor Who TARDIS(regenerate!)

And so it’s happening in my enclosed front porch.  The paint is True Value “Thrill Seeker” 31B7…and it is indeed an awesome TARDIS blue.  The “headpiece” is already constructed with light materials, styrofoam and cardboard box top, all painted and sealed up and ready to fix at the top of the TARDIS, which in this case, is ever so slanted, (not flat)…and a lovely little lantern that fits perfecting down into the top piece.

I will post progress photos as I get them.  But today, is LEGO DAY at our local library and I must get moving to make it to that with two boys.

For more WHOVIAN FUN, visit my friend Chris who has some awesome things going on in the Doctor Who department!!……