St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Catholic Home School..our humble beginnings

Our oldest son was born in 1991, and by 1993 he had been diagnosed with a serious peanut allergy.  We dealt with it vigilantly, carrying an Epipen Jr. with us and Benadryl liquid to administer immediately upon exposure. His reaction began rapidly escalating to anaphylaxis quickly.  Taking his allergy seriously has saved his life.  I recall the exact words of the pediatric allergist, “the hardest thing will be when you send him to school”…and I replying…”then maybe we won’t send him”!! not really knowing we would take the route of home schooling at the time.  The doctor then commented, he had many patients’ families that home schooled….Wow, where was this coming from?!  I contacted the local grade school with my concerns on how my son’s allergy would be managed and wasn’t at all confident when I heard the difficulties they faced, just in order to administer a life saving shot, which in my son’s case would have to happen quick.  ….Rewind to a few months before the allergy struck….

….my husband returned home from work one day when our oldest son was just around 19 months old, with a flyer on “home schooling” and some seminar we could attend, as well as the time and date of a radio show featuring home schooling.  My comment:  “WHAT is home schooling??  And why are people doing that???”

MarkFirstComPractice2012 (2)

To make my husband happy we attended the seminar and it was there I met a particular friend whom I’ve remained in friendship still to this day.  That was at least 20+ years ago now.  I made a good friend and made the decision to consider home schooling more seriously in my heart as our life plan of education.  When the peanut allergy struck and the pediatric allergist mentioned home schooling and we had attended a seminar to learn about it….God’s plan for us suddenly became very clear.   I had to home school.  It was a YES to God’s plan for this family.  It was not MY WILL, but HIS WILL.  I think this is one reason why we have been able to successfully truly home school because God is in the lead and the graces and wisdom ad resources, even finances we have needed to do so, have remarkably showered down on us.

Later, another couple began to come to our parish and they were home schooling their young family.  Soon, I began to become surrounded by Catholic home schooling families in our own parish, up to seven families and we formed a small mother’s nurture group.  I can not tell you how much that group formed me in the ways of authentic femininity and authentic Catholic home schooling, both complimenting and supporting each ideology nicely as a stay at home mother, busy with God (parish activities) and family (now including home education).  To this day, I come across the group agendas and materials we discussed, tapes we listened to, edifying material that truly embedded in me a foundation that has sustained me through all these years of home schooling and well into the college years with my older children, and continues to urge my heart forward when I feel weary or old on this path.  Something encouraging and refreshing comes my way with the mere memory of womanly support of Godly women that surrounded me and held me up all those years, meeting after meeting.


In later years, we’ve faced two special needs children in their own unique ways, my two youngest sons; one with OCD which was very difficult to manage in the beginning, but has made great progress in the last couple years, and our son with high functioning autism, who can be very tricky to manage but with lots of one on one academic and social care, is progressing nicely as well. Putting these children’s needs first has been paramount to their success and recovery. Sometimes closing out the rest of the world for a while and staying put, staying home, is needed as the prescription to benefit them.  I am grateful to all the information available on spectrum disorders and a curriculum that is still forming these special children in their awesome Catholic faith, while educating them for their futures as well.

As I ponder our humble beginnings in home schooling, and how I was totally ignorant of what home schooling even was….and am in AWE of how God spoke to us, how we opened our hearts to him and he led us on this path. As difficult as it was in the beginning with our son’s peanut allergy, I ponder the fact that maybe God wasn’t only saving His life, by leading us to this path, but saving his soul, and the souls of his family.

     “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live..” Deut. 30:19


Monday, January 28, 2013

Memoir Monday

I am so pleased to be able to write a blog post memoir that will be linked to my friend Chris’s blog for inclusion in her Memoir Monday event. 

I can not think of any finer person than my own father to begin this post. Especially on a wintry day in Ohio, like today.  When I lost my father to Lou Gehrig’s disease many years ago, that first year was such an adjustment because my father was “always there” to rescue me on such days as this.  He carted me to all appointments and activities for the children.  He never liked me to go it alone and shown up at my side door often in his Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer to see if I needed anything while he was in town.  It was very hard to let go of that when he passed.  But, in time, I, his little girl…grew up. 


I don't think it was by mistake that my father was born in the month of May, married in the month of May, and died a few days before his birthday in the month of May.  May is a month of many celebrations and memorials.  My father was a Marine, a veteran, and I always ponder how fitting it is that the Lord brought him forth in May, as Memorial Day is celebrated in May, as well as the beautiful memorial of Our Blessed Mother, Mary.  My father lost his own mother very early on in his life; he was only 6 yrs old when she died of a brain tumor in 1939, when there wasn't much that could be done for such diseases.  Mary, Our Holy Mother became his mother. And she surely must have been watching after him as his young life took many tough turns but he somehow managed fabulously on, not without emotional scars mind you, but in being a hard giving individual, fighting for our country, working diligently for his wife and family as a successful business man, and etching into us that you can do anything you set your mind to.  For this I am grateful for the lessons my father taught, not usually with words, but actions. 

Adelaide wDan standing and Ned on lap

My father as a baby on his mother’s lap, with one brother looking on (there was also a younger brother born later)

And so my father passed away, nearly nine years ago now, just a couple days before his 71st birthday in the month of May.  Only a week later we celebrated Memorial Day, and there was never a Memorial Day ever so poignant as that one for us, that year.  When I visit my father's grave site to this day and see the cross and veterans of war symbol, I remember he was a man from a passing generation that stood for God and Man.  He lived it.  For all these men that withstood immeasurable obstacles and hard times that their children just did not know because they provided a more comfortable life for them, I honor in my heart deeply and with prayers of gratefulness.  This Memoir Monday, I remember my own father, and all the men like him who made life easier for their own families.

Ed  Reynolds young

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday…Talk the talk, Walk the walk

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Francis de Sales.  A saint I so admire and came to recognize early on my life as I was taught at our Catholic school by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, as well as the Sisters belonging to the order of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.  Such wonderful memories I have of the religious that taught us in both grade school and high school.

When we decided to home school, our Catholic educations played a large role in that decision. The quality of education, being thoroughly Catholic and classical appealed to us greatly.  Because of the decline of many Catholic school systems and our out of the way location, home schooling looked like a very viable educational pursuit for our family.  Having followed the Modg way of school for over 16 years now, I can say how pleased I am with the results and how formed my children are in those things St. Thomas Aquinas exhorts, such as beauty, nobility, integrity.   

This is the first year, unfortunately, none of my family members were able to attend the March for Life in Washington DC, which is mobilizing now.  My son that suffers OCD/anxiety, would find it difficult if not nearly impossible to take a long bus ride to DC, although he could endure the March itself as he has the strength.  But driving is not his strong point ……maybe that will change as he learns to drive himself.  We pray our rosary for those giving up the time and taking the long trip there to serve as the visual voices for the those unable to protect themselves.

I think of St. Thomas, and St. Francis de Sales this day as I think about the protection of human life.  How they must be praying in the body of the communion of saints for the help we need to end this terrible holocaust that continues on for 40 years now.  In our Catholic grade school back in the early 70s, I remember writing letters to our senators and congress to not *allow* legal abortion to happen.  The Sisters helped us, and we the children wrote – we got back many responses saying we are fighting it!   That fight continues today.

I think about how I as an individual have lived most of my life with abortion being legal.  How I have personally known several women who have had abortions.  How some day, it may be abolished and our children won’t be living most of their lives with it looming there in the darkness, but instead life giving and sustaining policies will be in place. 

May God bless all those fighting the good fight.  St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Pray for us!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday Daybook

Let me begin by saying when I awoke this morning it was a mere 8 degrees out…it has since risen to about 13 degrees….at least the SUN is shining out there!

Outside my’s bright, cold and frosty

I am thankful cozy satin comforter

I am thinking about...getting started with school for the day

Learning all the time...about new Arbonne products right now

From the kitchen....need to defrost some meats …and bake some cookies today for company tomorrow…

I am creating...nothing much right now

I am working on...the Youth Group session for the weekend

I am going...nowhere today, I hoping

I am hoping...for a nice pleasant productive school day

I am reading...mostly about Arbonne products right now

I am praying family, my children

I am hearing...the sound of workers, restoring an old house on our street

Around the house...a bit of clutter that needs cleared

One of my favorite things...the smell of coffee and lovely candles

A few plans for the rest of the week...having company tomorrow, a friend and her son to play with the boys, and for us to sit and chat

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... This is a product I’m receiving today in my order and I’m hoping it will help my youngest son’s scalp clear up more.  Wish me luck! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Something interesting from the 57th Inauguration yesterday:

Scalia Wears Martyr’s Cap

Teaching Tuesday

I was talking with a friend this past weekend, who also homeschools her children, and we were discussing how our children learn technology, or not, through homeschooling.  It was a good discussion topic for sure.  We reminisced on how we learned to type at our Catholic schools on old manual (Royal) typewriters.   I pondered, that by the time I graduated, we were using electric IBM typewriters…big typewriters for sure.  Slowly but surely, electronic word document machines and regular computers took over. I used the WANG computer system and IBM Selectratype the first big secretarial job I landed working for the governor at the capitol in SLC Utah.   This was so monumental considering I lived during the time that blow dryers came onto to the market, and 8 track tapes…well, I’m sounding like I’m dating myself for sure! 

As a child of the 60s, 70s, 80s …I latched onto the technology as it became available.  If it wasn’t necessary for me to possess it, then there was no need to learn it.  But in the job market, my secretarial skills were often based on the most efficient equipment.  And in many professions today, that hasn’t changed.

I feel our children learn in the same way.  There is no doubt that regular keyboard typing skills can be learned the old fashioned way…with instruction at the keyboard, any keyboard…you can use any older computer that is still in working condition, or regular typewriter that is propelled by keyboard, and a touch-type method instruction booklet, CD, or instructional source.  Just knowing how to properly place the fingers for touch type, and practicing drills, and timing for typing speed is the mode of learning the method.  Very simple, and very usable…still….today.

Aren’t we humans amazing at adapting, latching on and progressing with what we are given?  We certainly figure it out!


Ok, but…the truth is you don’t really need any fancy technology to homeschool your children.  In fact you don’t need a computer at all, unless you are doing on line schooling at home, and if you are, the computer is given to you because it is generally public school on line. What you do need is a willing teaching heart of your own tribe, and the basic materials to impart knowledge.  My mind goes back to Laura Berquist’s talks on curriculum from scratch basically, and thelost tools of learning.”[1] That you likely have things in your home already that you can begin teaching your children with.  For instance, a bible or catechism, literature books. So, let’s say you can start to teach your children with very little curriculum or technology.  It’s true.  In fact, to produce good thinkers, critical thinkers and ethical character development, you don’t need technology.

Let’s face it, great men and woman that came before us learned how??Considering my son Mark and I just studied about Noah Webster [2] and how he wrote the first textbook (Blue Back Speller), consider there were no books other than a Primer, and the Bible…. certainly no technological advances. Reading, writing and arithmetic were the standards taught by 2 or 3 books.  American children had no American textbooks. But…giving the students the desire to learn, the love of what was in those few books and the love of learning overall,  an active learning ability (not passive, as in spoon fed the information continually)…is key to educating them for life.

In a word, I still like to do it the old fashioned way.  Going from child to child and helping them along with their lesson.  Gathering them together at first, for lessons that can be done together, having them sit at table together, then sending them off to their quiet areas to complete other work, as I come and check on them.  Reading together, taking turns, discussion, comprehension, re-telling, copy-work, and investigative/observation lessons are all available to do with good literature. 

Today, my older children who were taught through the Mother of Divine Grace methodology/philosophy are doing well as active engaged learners at the college levels.  They have taken courses at college for pleasure that are challenging, for further learning, just because they “like” to learn, they thirst for knowledge.  For them, being liberally educated isn’t about technology or even career, as much as it is about :”learning”, being educated – saturated in all the wonderful knowledge of histories, the arts, literature, writing, sciences, philosophy and religion….it is showing in their chosen majors and minors,  they can’t quite seem to get enough of being educated.  It is wonderful to see them blossoming and growing in intellectual knowledge…which will help lead them to whatever vocation it is God has planned for them.  


[1]The Lost Tools of Learning, by Dorothy Sayers

[2] We learned about Noah Webster from Abeka publications, 3rd grade history text, Our American Heritage. Nicely done biographical sketches.  Yesterday we read the lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Frivolous Friday

So, other than school today, which includes tests and pulling semester work together for sending off to our teacher reviewer, we have cleaning, grocery shopping and haircuts for boys, and myself.  It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a new cut, and I’m just going for conservative here….it’s long and grown out of shape, so I’m likely to just have it “shaped up” into a long bob as usual. Maybe this summer I’ll go for the much shorter stacked bob.  Did I mention I’m not a hair person?  I like no fuss simple hair and make-up and clothes.  And today, I’m definitely in military mode: chop chop,  let’s make this happen!!  (thank you to my Marine parents…)

Me now with the messy mop of hair:


This is the last weekend for my older college kids to be home.  My daughter will be heading back to live at her lovely turn of the century dorm on campus, and our son will be moving back in our home for his final semester of college.  It’s hard to believe this is the last leg of his college for now.  He will graduate with his bachelor’s in Art, and minors in English Literature and Philosophy.  And while he has a lot to chose from in the art, art history, museum and studio productions line of art careers out there, I know he has his heart still set on being a cartoonist, and I’m sure he will find his way into doing that in time.  He has enjoyed being a licensed paid radio broadcaster for the college radio show with his own time slot and following for the last couple years as well, and has done voice over work for other radio networks, at request.  So he has several fields he could likely find employment in.


Our daughter is still studying away with English literature and writing, and is employed by the college as a writing center consultant.  She is a bright bulb that one, and it’s been fun to watch her grow up before our eyes.  This last week she decided she’d like auburn hair now…a departure from her natural caramel blonde locks.  A before and after:


And so I’m off….to tackle this mission of motherhood today…in the rain…It’s 50 degrees, but unfortunately along with that came rain and wind.  Sigh.  I am ready for a super early spring this year! 

Have a great Friday and weekend ahead!


Okay, so here’s the new hair later this day….


Friday, January 04, 2013

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Feast & Blog Anniversary

I originally posted this little tribute in honor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton back in 2006 on the inception of this Blog.  This is my blog anniversary of 7 years now.  This blog grew out of my faith and the desire of expressing it, and sharing spiritual helps and insights, as well as my heartfelt misery at the death of my father all those years ago.  This blog has been an outlet for me, a learning and growing tool and a place where I have met many other wonderful bloggers, both of faith and some on their way to finding faith.  St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is also the name of the original Catholic homeschool group I founded nearly 15 years ago for the support of those in our parish and surrounding area who are Catholic home schooling. May God bless you all on this wonderful feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, my model and saint revered.  Pray for us!

Lord Jesus, Who was born for us in a stable, lived for us a life of pain and sorrow, and died for us upon a cross; say for us in the hour of death, Father, forgive, and to Your Mother, Behold your child. Say to us, This day you shall be with Me in paradise. Dear Savior, leave us not, forsake us not. We thirst for You, Fountain of Living Water. Our days pass quickly along, soon all will be consummated for us. To Your hands we commend our spirits, now and forever. Amen.

Lord God, you blessed Elizabeth Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers may we learn to express our love for you in love for others.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Re-thinking Resolutions

To be honest, I’m not much for New Years’ resolutions – but I am definitely for “solutions”.  And let’s face it, sometimes you do have to take a good hard look at yourself inside and out and make that stand…find that solution to whatever betterment needs to be addressed. It could be spiritual, it could be physical, it could be totally frivolous to someone looking in from the outside.  Only YOU know what it is that needs to be addressed.
However, this new year I must say I have re-thought the resolutions…I am in! Last year was such a difficult year… of those years that just keeps punching back….this year, I pray is different.  But….even if it isn’t, I am determined to make it be so.
First, I do have to do the lose the weight thing….just as the new year refreshes, I feel more determined than ever to refresh and work harder at losing this dreaded thyroid medication weight that suddenly came and hung on within the first year of starting thyroid meds.  That’s been three years ago now, this February.  I am NOT at all pleased with this.  I have promised myself to be a warrior in this, and I will not allow this to continue.  I am eating the 1300 calories of balanced meals that the endocrinologist has suggested for me.  I’m starting with losing 13 pounds.  1300….13 pounds…2013….sounds like a good combination to me :)
I did order myself something special and motivational to indulge in – something different and something that was a great price, because otherwise, I have passed these up in the past.
Check it out:  KIND Bars  (actually these are KIND Plus Bars, a special value item on today) just follow the highlighted words to the link
Next, I will eat my usual Special K cereal – just original, and Strawberry, with no fat milk.  And sometimes I will eat the wonderful Rice Krispies cereal because you can eat quite a bit of it with no fat milk, and fill up with less calories.
Nothing too exciting about my diet – it’s just eating sensibly, getting a balance of protein, low carbs, and considering nutrition…less sugar and junk of course.
I am also not vain, but I do want to achieve two things: health & a sensible size.  I do want to be able to wear the clothes I already own without having to size up and spend more money.  I’m spending enough money replacing clothing for growing children…..
For myself spiritually….well, just like the bars above say: KIND, I’m working on that myself.  Being more KIND beginning with my closest family members. Even when snarky remarks and bad attitudes fling.  I am hitting my Magnificat prayer book like never before, and also adding in more confession moments.  I already can’t wait for Lent.
And I’m “offering up” and “sacrificing” more.  Let’s face it, with this economy “doing without” is becoming second nature all the time.  I’m sure I could find even more ways to pinch pennies and settle for less luxury and making more “comfort” and “atmosphere” the priority.
So, my re-thinking resolutions.  Maybe “13” is going to be my lucky number after all!!