St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pontifex’s Final Tweets…

Benedict XVI@Pontifex

In these momentous days, I ask you to pray for me and for the Church, trusting as always in divine Providence.


God bless Him, and the Church as it follows the will of God and a new Pope is secured in place.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Wing and a Prayer…

I don’t mean to be neglecting my blog, but for this week I will be very involved elsewhere.

I have been preparing my 2nd grade class for First Reconciliation, and while it is a very small class this year (5 children), they have needed a lot of extra prep care, more so than any class I’ve had in the past and I’ve had some biggies.

We’ve been working literally for months, and I still fear that a few just aren’t there with it.  I revert to families for the help now as I don’t think there is much else I can do for them now as we make the sacrament this upcoming Sunday.  I have done my best and given my all as in years past.  It is moments like this where I feel perhaps I need to move out of the classroom and let someone else deal with the families as I grow weary of how lacking the support is for religious education.  Please keep these children and families in your prayers. 


My own Confirmation class of my Catholic school.  I was in 6th grade, (‘72) Bishop Federal of SLC Utah

In the meantime, I pray. With a sick family of my own for nearly a week now, and school, sacrament prep including managing Confirmation for the parish program, and some extra things going on, I feel the need for more spiritual assistance than ever.  That is what God is for, right?  He is there for us at all turns in life.

Re-enrollment for our home school program (Mother of Divine Grace) has opened up again and I must get to doing that also.  And may I add Modg is worth every penny and every bit of formation and accountability.  I am SO grateful to have found it years ago, and  glad to be educating my children with a program that helps them to think beyond the secular world and in a deeper ethical, religious and philosophical way – I am so tired of the shallowness all around.  I say that with all the love in my heart.  But I definitely want more than just a pay check for my children. 

Time is flying…and I’ll have a college graduate in May and a newly confirmed 13 yr old.  Come Holy Spirit, Come!!   And I hope to get to planning VBS for the parish soon also.  It seems I’m saturated with domestic life and education all around me, be that religious or academic including special ed.  It’s become my defining moment for the last 22 years…..I suppose God has me exactly where He wants and needs me most.  He has this one.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Childhood Memories all the richer

It’s hard to believe that this little girl, entirely home schooled into college, has grown into the young lady below, now working in the writing center of the college as a writing consultant.  My daughter, where has the time gone?

This Memoir Monday, I look back fondly to the childhood of a little girl who we wanted very much, our second child.  As my pregnancy progressed it was clear there were difficulties and we dedicated this one to the intercession of St. Catherine Laboure of the Miraculous Medal.  Not only did the pregnancy sustain, but became over due by 11 days. That was a miracle considering the child was in grave danger at 5 months gestation.  I accepted every minute of it, every extra day, in the peak of 90 degree summer weather….in thanksgiving as the pregnancy became so blessed by God.  It was almost as if God were saying:  how far will you go with me?  How strong will you endure now that I’ve answered your prayer?

Letting go as they age is the hardest part in my opinion of raising children,  and there isn’t a day that doesn’t go by while she is at college that I don’t pray for her and think of her and am grateful to God for her.  One daughter among three sons, she has been a true blessing.

So I remember every little childhood event, from the gathering of the leaf bouquet above on a fair autumn day, to the glimpse of watching her walk up the pathway during the matriculation convocation ceremony amongst hundreds of the college as she became a member of the student body of the college.  She is studying in her field of English literature major, writing minor, religion minor.  I hope all her dreams come true.

Memories ……..made sweeter and deeper by sharing.

You can also find my entry linked to my friend Chris’s blog for her Memoir Mondays at:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

About The Orange Rhino

A friend of mine is committing to this for the 30-day challenge as her Lenten exercise.  I thought it was awesome because she, a) recognized the problem and, b) is attempting to do something about it.  You can read more about it here at this gal's blog:

About The Orange Rhino

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Way of the Cross: Stations One & Two

For each Friday throughout Lent I will attempt to post stations with meditations by St. Josemaria Escriva. Taken from: The Way of the Cross.

STATION ONE: It is after ten in the morning. The trial is moving to its close. There has been no conclusive evidence. The judge knows that his enemies have handed Jesus over to him out of envy, and he tries an absurd move: a choice between Barabbas, a criminal accused of robbery and murder, and Jesus, who says he is Christ. The people choose Barabbas, and Pilate exclaims:

What am I to do then, with Jesus? (Matt 27:22).

They all reply: Crucify him!

The judge insists: Why, what evil has he done?

Once again they respond, shouting: Crucify him! Crucify him!

Pilate is frightened by the growing uproar. So he sends for water, and washes his hands in the sight of the people, saying as he does so:

I am innocent of the blood of this just man; it is your affair (Matt 27:24).

And having had Jesus scourged, he hands him over to them to be crucified. Their frenzied and possessed throats fall silent. As if God had already been vanquished.

Jesus is all alone. Far off now are the days when the words of the Man-God brought light and hope to men 's hearts, those long processions of sick people whom he healed, the triumphant acclaim of Jerusalem when the Lord arrived, riding on a gentle donkey. If only men had wanted to give a different outlet to God 's love! If only you and I had recognised the day of the Lord!

Points for meditation

1. Jesus prays in the garden. Pater mi (Matt 26:39), Abba Pater! (Mark 14:36). God is my Father, even though he may send me suffering. He loves me tenderly, even while wounding me. Jesus suffers, to fulfil the Will of the Father... And I, who also wish to fulfil the most holy Will of God, following in the footsteps of the Master, can I complain if I too meet suffering as my travelling companion?

It will be a sure sign of my sonship, because God is treating me as he treated his own Divine Son. Then I, just as He did, will be able to groan and weep alone in my Gethsemani; but, as I lie prostrate on the ground, acknowledging my nothingness, there will rise up to the Lord a cry from the depths of my soul: Pater mi, Abba, Pater,... fiat!

2. The Arrest:... venit hora: ecce Filius hominis tradetur in manus peccatorum; the hour has come: behold the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners (Mark 14:41). So, the sinful man has his hour? Yes, and God his eternity!...

Chains binding Jesus! Chains, which He voluntarily allowed to be put on him, I ask you to bind me, to make me suffer with my Lord, so that this body of death may be humbled. For —there can be no half measures here — either I reduce it to nothing, or it will degrade me. Better to be a slave of my God than a slave of my flesh.

3. Throughout the mockery of his trial, Our Lord is silent. Jesus autem tacebat (Matt 26:63). Later, he answers the questions put to him by Caiphas and Pilate... But, to the fickle-minded and impure Herod, not a word (cf. Luke 23:9): so depraving is the sin of lust that not even the voice of Our Saviour is heard by him.

If there is so much resistance to the truth in so many places, keep silent and pray, mortify yourself... and wait. Even those souls that seem most lost retain, to the end, the capacity to return to the love of God.

4. Sentence is about to be passed. Mockingly, Pilate says: Ecce rex vester! Behold your king! (John 19:14). Infuriated, the chief priests reply: We have no king but Caesar (John 19:15).

Lord, where are your friends? Your subjects, where are they? They have left you. This running away has been going on for twenty centuries... We, all of us, flee from the Cross, from your Holy Cross.

Blood, anguish, loneliness and an insatiable hunger for souls... these are the courtiers around your royal throne.

5. Ecce homo! Behold the man! (John 19:5). Our heart shudders when it contemplates the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord become an open wound.

And they will ask him: what are those wounds that you bear in your hands? And he will reply: I received them in the house of those who love me (Zach 13:6).

Look at Jesus. Each laceration is a reproach; each lash of the whip, a reason for sorrow for your offences and mine.

Outside the city, to the north-west of Jerusalem, there is a little hill: Golgotha is its name in Aramaic; locus Calvariae, in Latin: the place of skulls or Calvary.

Offering no resistance, Jesus gives himself up to the execution of the sentence. He is to be spared nothing, and upon his shoulders falls the weight of the ignominious cross. But, through love, the Cross is to become the throne from which he reigns.

The people of Jerusalem and those from abroad who have come for the Passover push their way through the city streets, to catch a passing glimpse of Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. There is a tumult of voices, and, now and then, short silences: perhaps when Jesus fixes his eyes on someone:

If anyone wishes to come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me (Matt 16:24).

How lovingly Jesus embraces the wood which is to bring him to death!

Is it not true that as soon as you cease to be afraid of the Cross, of what people call the cross, when you set your will to accept the Will of God, then you find happiness, and all your worries, all your sufferings, physical or moral, pass away?

Truly the Cross of Jesus is gentle and lovable. There, sorrows cease to count; there is only the joy of knowing that we are co-redeemers with Him.

Points for meditation

1. The guards that are to accompany him make ready... Jesus, scorned and ridiculed, is a target of mockery for all those around him. He!, who passed through the world doing good and healing all of their afflictions (cf. Acts 10:38).

He, the good Master, Jesus, who came out to meet us who were so far away, is to be brought to the gallows.

2. As if it were a festival, they have prepared an escort, a long procession. The judges want to savour their victory with a slow and pitiless torture.

Jesus is not to meet a quick death... He is given time in which to prolong the identification of his pain and love with the most lovable Will of the Father. Ut facerem voluntatem tuam, Deus meus, volui, et legem tuam in medio cordis mei (Ps 39:9): I find my pleasure in doing thy Will, my God, and thy law dwells deep within my heart.

3. The more you belong to Christ, the more grace you will obtain to be effective in this world and to be happy in eternity.

But you must make up your mind to follow the way of self-surrender: the Cross on your shoulders, with a smile on your lips, and a light in your soul.

4. That voice you hear within you: 'What a heavy yoke you have freely taken upon yourself! ' ... is the voice of the devil; the heavy burden... of your pride.

Ask Our Lord for humility, and you too will understand those words of Jesus: iugum enim meum suave est, et onus meum leve (Matt 11:30), which I like to translate freely, as follows: My yoke is freedom, my yoke is love, my yoke is unity, my yoke is life, my yoke is fruitfulness.

5. There is a kind of fear around, a fear of the Cross, of Our Lord 's Cross. What has happened is that people have begun to regard as crosses all the unpleasant things that crop up in life, and they do not know how to take them as God 's children should, with supernatural outlook. So much so, that they are even removing the roadside crosses set up by our forefathers...

In the Passion, the Cross ceased to be a symbol of punishment and became instead a sign of victory. The Cross is the emblem of the Redeemer: in quo est salus, vita et resurrectio nostra: there lies our salvation our life and our resurrection.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

“Tact” on Thoughtful Thursday and Fasting from Criticisms

On this, the second Thursday of Lent, I have many scattered thoughts and things going on that make life busy.  Add in being sick …a trip to the doctor and an antibiotic…and well, it’s a tiring thoughtful Thursday :)

Still, I just told my son Michael that God plans for me to be sick every now and then just so I will “slow down” and relax by force!  This seems to be true and I am very much on the go very regularly.

So, today we miss our home school co-op, which I feel badly about as both the boys really enjoy their time there – Michael with the older kids learning “real” volleyball under the direction of a former volley ball coach who donates her time with them; and Mark in his winter organized fun class, where JINGO, a phonics bingo game, seems to be the most fun ever!

Today, I chill.  I get over not feeling so well, and keep a close eye on Mark to see if he is improving at this point, or worsening.  This illness brought a prolonged fever situation  - a fever that seems to last for days with a croupy kind of cough.  So, we will do some “gentle” school today, and as my energy allows, I’ll clean house, laundry, do dinner and in general, be the happily domestic person at home that I am.

While I’m being that person, and we are underway in Lent, I have given much thought to “boundaries” that people cross, “hurt feelings” that people inflict on others, and “criticisms”, or even “sharp opinions” that people seem to not be able to bite their tongues over.  This Lent, I feel very compelled to fast from exactly those things:  criticisms, overstepping boundaries, sharp opinions  -- in a word: blurting out.  

Lovely stained glass window image, courtesy of Stained Glass Inc.

While my son Mark and I have been working in his social skills curriculum, “tact” and “blurting” have been part of his lessons.  Oh, how we can ALL use better instruction in those areas.  I was so pleased and yet so disappointed when we did these lessons.  Pleased because it is so appropriate to address these areas – our society is anything but respectful this way….and disappointed to realize how disrespectful society in general has become.  I have few friends who are truly Christian women who use respect in regard to boundaries, tactfulness and criticisms.

It’s interesting in this lesson plan that “tact” is described as: “saying what you want to say, but in a way that will not hurt another’s feelings” and several examples are given.  They work.  But we must “think” first before talking.

We have lost the art of that. 

So also on this Thoughtful Thursday, I pray in earnest for the light of tact, and fasting from those things such as: not thinking when speaking, blurting out, criticizing and sharp opinions, crossing boundaries, hurting other’s feelings, and generally breaking down, not building up.

May the peace of God be with you+

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Discrimination by insurance companies for Autism therapies

It’s hard to believe that discriminating against those with an autism diagnosis, who need basic therapies like speech-language and more extensive work like ABA therapies, is even an issue across the United States. There are some states where once the diagnosis of Autism is made, therapies for treatment are no longer covered.  I am shocked to discover this, and hope you will consider signing the bill to reverse this. 

Please take time to watch this video and read the story:  The Autism Gap report; insurances that don’t cover therapies for autism diagnosis. 

Consider these facts:

-Autism affects 1 in 88 kids.  1 in 54 are boys.

-More kids diagnosed with Autism than AIDS, diabetes and cancer combined.

-32 States have Autism included in insurance coverage.

-Average claims indicates an avg. premium impact of 32 centers per member per month.

-Cost of caring for someone with autism over their lifetime is $3.2M.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Parenting Philosophy per Aristotle

Is this the greatest thing or what?!  THE PHILOSOPHER as St. Thomas would call him, pertaining to raising children.  I can really love that as I adore the time tested wisdom of Aristotle and now you can too, in this excellent book: If Aristotle’s Kid had an Ipod, by Conor Gallagher, published by St. Benedict’s Press/Tan Publishers, 2012.


I discovered this book through a friend as we “synced” our NOOK Color devices and she could Lend me the book from her eReader library.  Pretty cool for these moms :)

It is a simply wonderful, easy to read and thoroughly informative book – not meant as a parenting guide, but meant to draw upon the wise philosophies of Aristotle and get into focus a few areas that apply so nicely to parenting, even in the modern day.  To say Aristotle is timeless….well, such an understatement.  Remarkably timeless.  Rich in vision and such common sense.

Without a lot of spoilers…because you must read this book for yourself, one area I greatly enjoyed was on technology.  Conor Gallagher is a modern day dad of 8 children, and knows the score when it comes to electronics these days.  I love how he describes Twitter, Facebook and other social media, as well as Texting, Ipods, etc.   We are not unplugging (our children certainly aren’t) enough, unless we make an absolute effort for them to do so.  Those items to not really supply relational communication that is meaningful and can built friendship…true friendship being the lasting one as defined by the 3 levels of friendship Aristotle describes.

And…let’s speak of friendship.  Very scary stuff!…when statistics show that “true friendships” outside of kin have dropped dramatically in the last six years to a mere 57% as compared to 80-90% in decades before that.  Communication has changed, and in regard to human relationships, not for the better.  There is still nothing better than sitting down and talking face to face with a friend, in a group of friends, and taking time to do so as “friend time” is now becoming extinct….and it is sacred and being tread upon.

A teaser not a spoiler….you may not like everything the author shares, as he turns some so called parenting techniques on their heads.  I for one really appreciated that because “strong willed” in Aristotle’s definition is not referring to the same kind of “strong willed” that Dr. Dobson describes in modern day.  In fact, Aristotle’s strong willed (against the bad and toward the good) is completely opposite. 

And one more thing….yes your children need love (“all you need is love…”, right?…wrong), that’s not all they need.  They need so much more, and deserve so much more, and the author nicely unpacks all they need to be given. 

A great thought: this would be an excellent book to read together with other parents and then group together to discuss.  I highly suggest it.  I would love to do this with our few home school moms at our parish; I think we could really benefit from it.  Even if you don’t have a group per se, but just one friend you could do this with – go for it.  And may the wisdom of Aristotle be with you.

Sentimental & Summer Project

I was looking through the last seven years of blog posts (yawn...) hahaha, and well, I am amazed at how many memories are stored at my blog. It's a good thing because I'm particularly sentimental this year, very much so, and I find myself looking back...and reflecting on the last five years plus.  

My oldest son, who just turned 22 yrs old, is described in this little blog from seven years ago. I can not believe how time has flown by and the very young boy I am reflecting on in this blog, is now preparing to graduate from college in May! He has grown into a remarkable young man and is so very talented (art major) and articulate (English literature and Philosophy minors), and a hard worker. He has kept three jobs going, one of them in radio broadcasting while attending college and kept his grades up there, keeping his scholarship and art proficiency award throughout.

So today on Memoir Monday, I look back fondly at a childhood filled with wonderful parenting memories of this son who spent a lot of time with his "pappa", my father, doing out door gardening and fishing, and looking for stones to tumble and turn into awesome jewelry. He always was so creative and that eventually came out in his art lessons; and he helped to build this Victorian dollhouse for his sister, as seen below, (along with the short post I originally blogged). I look forward to what life will unfold for this young man as he begins to make his way into it with his education and motivation. May God continue to bless him on his way and grant him the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

(Entry: June 5th, 2006)
Our homeschool year is finally coming to a close. We could all use a much needed break in our routine. I know I have plenty to do now that schooling doesn't monopolize most of the hours in the day. (cleaning?) :)

Our oldest son, Douglas, and his dad are working on this dollhouse for their summer project. Our daughter Jamie is supervising. It's coming along nicely. This particular house is called: The Pierce, and if you follow the LINK you will see several other dollhouses as well. Ours was purchased from a local provider (and for much less)!

For doll and dollhouse lovers, Jamie has a great book simply called: The Dollhouse Book, by Stephanie Finnegan. Click on the title to take at look-see at Amazon.

Any special projects you're embarking on this summer?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


(originally posted for Lent 3/9/06)

In today's reading, Esther and her handmaids lay prostrate on the ground morning until evening....calling to God for assistance. Further on in the book of Esther, my Ignatius RSV bible, chapter 4, verses 16, 17, state..."and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day...."..."I and my maids will also fast as you do"; even further along we read how Esther puts on the "garments of distress and mourning", covered herself with ashes and dung and prayed, prayed, prayed, fasting and mortifying herself for the next three days..... Quite seriously, she was preparing for a mission, that which Esther is well known for - overcoming her fear and approaching the king in order to save her people. And the God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob answers this intensely sincere request.

While, I don't expect to see many people in ashes and dung these days -- nor fasting for up through three days, I do think there is much to learn from such examples. While the "missions" in my life aren't anywhere near as challenging as that of Esther, still, they are uniquely my own that God has given me and have oftentimes required getting over a fear, asking the Holy Spirit for "just the right words" and asking for a special grace to fulfill what is necessary. There are missions in my life that I will fast, mortify and pray in earnest for; I'm sure I'm not alone.

Here are some thoughts from Fr. Francis Fernandez (In Conversation with God, Lenten volume) with more scriptural references in regard to fasting:

"....Fasting more sign of the spirit of penance that God asks of man. In the Old Testament we can find gradually developing with ever increasing richness, the religious sense of penance, as a personal religious act, which has as its end love for and abandoment in God. [Paul VI, Apostolic Constitution, Paenitemini, 17 Feb, 1966] When it is accompanied by prayer it can be used to manifest humility before God. [Lev 16:29-31) The man who fasts turns toward God in an attitude of total dependence and abandonment. In Holy Scripture we see how fasting and other works of penance were performed before the commencement of any difficult task [Jude 20:26, Esther 4:16], to implore forgiveness for sin [1 Kings21:27], to obtain the cessation of a calamity [Jude 4:9-13], to gain the grace needed for the fulfillment of a mission [Acts 13:2], and to prepare oneself to come face to face with God [Ex 34:38, Dan 9:3]."

Lord on the day I called for help, you answered me....(Psalm 138)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Social Skills at home curriculum

Recently we’ve added in a little extra curriculum for our son with autism during his daily regular home school.  He has come a long ways with language skills and occupational skills, although his core strength is still not quite there, but we have needed to do more for him in the way of odds and ends kind of detail work….social skill areas….that vary.  So we have introduced into his every day work the Model Me Tips & Tricks DVDs, with accompanying workbook.  “Tips & Tricks,” I think, is a misleading title…as these are thorough and important small lessons that many can use, and many could use a refresher!  The segment called “Tact” is one such area.  As defined in the DVD as:  “Tact, is when you say what you want to say, but in a way that won’t hurt others feelings.”   How true.  And how lacking it is in our current society, yet monumental to hear it described and shown in this DVD

The segments include:

Voice Modulation



Personal Space

Grooming & Hygiene

Deep Breathing


Asking for Help

Sense of Humor

Student Workbook and Teacher’s Guide

All these areas have excellent examples given, acted out and explained. Many children “on the spectrum” are confused or lacking in many of these areas.  Sense of Humor, is one that took a while for our son to get a handle on, and while he “gets it” with some people, he doesn’t get it with others. It may have to do with nuances…dry senses of humor, vs. explosive obvious humor.  Those with Asperger’s Syndrome/high functioning autism often lack “theory of mind”…..the ability to detect nuances and know-how by intuitive deduction that we all take for granted.  They tend to also have a difficult time with reading body language.  All these things have to “be taught” and introduced to them visually and verbally and role-played for them to tune into it.

This curriculum definitely has my thumbs up.  I would recommend it for anyone wanting to work with their child up through teenager in the home to further them in troublesome areas and help them develop respectful boundaries with others and be able to put their best self forward.  Many spectrum children have a difficult time making and keeping friends, so equipping them to do so as best as possible is a wise move.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

CATHOLICISM: The New Evangelization - Trailer

So excited my husband is facilitating the Catholicism Project series for Lent in our parish beginning Feb 19th. Some really great inspiration and faith encouragement!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What Catholic Homeschooling with Autism looks like….if you’re not Catholic, Part III

Don’t you just love how that title rolls off your tongue??  Okay, even though I am Catholic, raising my children in this faith and using a highly-infused and integrated Catholic home study curriculum, I still can get just as excited about doing a classical curriculum as a non-Catholic…So I share what I have come across through the years as I’ve asked myself the question….What if I were Protestant and wanted to give my children a similar education but within the beliefs of my particular Christian faith?  What would I use?  How would I do it?

It certainly can be done; it is being done all over the country.  In fact, it was likely done before Catholics caught on to home schooling their faith and academics in a home environment.  Protestants paved the way and all should be very grateful for the foundation they laid and laws that were fought in this country by good Christian people, and in fact secular people as well – freedom fighters, so to speak – to make home schooling legal and doable in this country.  The FREEDOM to CHOOSE YOUR OWN CURRICULUM is one of the primary freedoms home schoolers fought for. 

So, the first place I would look to for an awesome classical curriculum would be The Well Trained Mind (Wise-Bauer).  The book does outline grade by grade recommendations and all you need to know to successfully manage a GREAT home study regimen for your family.  There are various curriculum choices per grade, so I recommend getting the book and reading it thoroughly.  Then, once you have organized what you’d like to do at home with your child (say your autistic one in this case, as this is mostly my focus), you can nicely incorporate other therapeutic helps as I’ve outlined in my last post. (Part II post).  Now granted, not all WTM recommendations are as therapeutic as I see Modg recommendations being, just by their very nature…but I think you can adjust as needed. 

Following a home school course of study for your autistic child such as that outlined in The Well Trained Mind, will be of your own design as there is not an accompanying school to help you oversee it and keep a transcript for you, like that of the Catholic counterpart, Mother of Divine Grace. (The book, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum is the book from which Mother of Divine Grace formed). The book DYOCC^  is similar to The Well Trained Mind, only one is more directed toward Catholic education, and the other, for various Christian denominations   Keep in mind you can keep your own transcripts, if you can not find a protestant alternative to enroll with to do so; transcript keeping by home schools is now being widely accepted and expected.

If you find you don’t like to piece together your own curriculum from recommendations given, you could also utilize a provider, straight across the board, like Abeka Books.  You can find all the items needed to have a boxed curriculum delivered to your door, and again, maintain your own transcript, and add in a nice regimen of therapy throughout the week, using those kinds of suggestions I utilize, as described in Part II.


You can get excited about helping your special needs child learn at home in a specialized environment.  One on one tutorship is one of the most effective forms of education – what child doesn’t benefit from the one on one assistance of a tutor?  With mom or dad as that special tutor, and with special insight into their own child, the sky’s the limit.  And now there are SO many home resources to help with both academics and special needs challenges. 

Keep in mind if you are bringing your child home from a school situation for the first time, the first year will be an adjustment period for your whole home.  Be patient about it, pray about it.  Pray with your family and with your special child.  God’s graces will give you strength and wisdom.  Trust yourself.  It’s a beautiful and purposeful endeavor to work with your spectrum child or any special needs child in a warm and nurturing home environment.  Take time to really tune-in and know your child and your instincts will tell you what is best to do with and for him/her.

May God bless you with all you need! +


What Catholic Homeschooling with Autism looks like, Part II

I’m jumping ahead to what our yearly curriculum with my son with autism looks like.  Please keep in my mind my son is verbal (he was a very late talker though, age 4) and he is considered gifted in reading/vocabulary. From Part 1, I expressed how we use Mother of Divine Grace, so I will outline that curriculum here and how we’ve integrated a well rounded program with respect to his special needs:

Third Grade Modg courses:

Religion: Baltimore Catechism No. 1 and Knecht Bible stories: The Knecht Bible story retellings are somewhat elevated language for a young student, but nicely done in small featured salvation history bible stories, so the language is not wasted as they learn important scriptures as well.  Further, the way Modg uses it, it incorporates retelling, copy work and illustrating on behalf of the user.

Abeka Math 3 – it is a challenging book and a leap from 2nd grade math, and my son is moving through it much slower than in 2nd grade, but with patience, he’s doing really well with it.  I like it because it introduces variety like algebraic equations, but continues with the basics and lots of practice.

Primary Language Lessons by Emma Serl: Language arts:  We use a work book format[1] of this same reproduction and love it.  It’s perfect for a special needs child because it removes the frustration of writing in a separate notebook, and has all the “right” therapeutic communication and language practices  in it to make it well worth it’s weight in “no co-pay” for speech therapy right now.  Not just writing and learning grammar…oral lessons in observation and conversation are important features in this book, and in fact invaluable to us with a child’s communication glitch.

Writing Road to Reading:  the book everyone loves to hate :)  With Modg it is only used at this grade level for spelling and furthering phonics reinforcement.  It works!  And it’s not difficult to use although some try to make it so.  IF YOUR CHILD has trouble using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons…I suggest you switch to teaching them to read with the WRTR method instead.  Chances are they are having trouble decoding, and need the small rudimentary breakdown WRTR provides to move them to understanding decoding.

Our American Heritage: an Abeka history publication, nicely done biographies. For students who need more saturation of work to accompany it, there is a Map Skills book and the teacher resources, tests, and key to go along with the program.  A nice introduction to early history with this book.

Exploring God’s World (Abeka Science).  A nicely done book with enough important information and support materials with a Christian view.

Poetry memorization: selections from The Harp & the Laurel Wreath

English from the Roots Up: Greek & Latin root cards: for beginning Latin, and vocabulary building

Music, Let’s Learn Music, Hayes; and listening to classical masterpieces

Art: Child-Size Masterpieces series


Okay, in addition to those things listed above, we add in art play with play-doh, so lots of occupational therapy opportunities.  We do water coloring painting also.  There is plenty of drawing already built-into the program with bible stories and Primary Language Lessons.

We like Klutz’s Watercolor: for the Artistically Undiscovered

I also use Model Me Kids DVDs, with follow-up with practice opportunities.  Right now we are working through the Model Me Kids Tips & Tricks that helps with social skills, along with the actual workbook that goes with it.  My son needs help in these areas on a regular basis at every level and likely for many years.  It makes sense to work with at home right along his school work on these areas so he gets them more often.

We also make it a point to attend “classes” to provide some kind of outside structure with a rhythm to it that my autistic child needs to learn to participate and not get thrown off by being assimilated into a situation.  So, we go to a weekly home school co-op, as well as attend the religious education classes at our church on the weekends.  I find these situations VERY important to helping instruct my child in the proper way to conduct’s oneself in a group setting, with a focal point: a teacher.  Children with special needs often do not zero in on what’s going fact, they seem to “not be there” in the class.  They could easily be accused of not paying attention, acting up and misbehaving when really, they simply need help “processing” and need to actually learn how you go about that.


Another thing I like to address before we “do school” is getting ready for processing by stimulating our brain gym…or brain buttons.  We learned this in our therapy sessions, and it’s something widely used and available …so you don’t have to go to therapy to teach your child to turn on their brain buttons!  Follow this link for more details:  Brain Gym/Buttons


So you go to a therapy facility and you wonder where YOU can obtain that great large sensory ball your child likes to sit and bounce on…or that weighted vest….You can purchase your own sensory items for use in your home and what a great asset these items are for your special child as you attempt to “do school” with them daily.  We use a large sensory ball EVERY DAY…my son would not be without it.  We use a therapy brush for the skin also.  Many children with processing and comprehension difficulties can benefit from sensory helps. All these kinds of items can be purchased – you do not have to be a “facility” to do so.  One such provider is: Sensory Goods

While my children get outside most days, at least one day a week we attempt to walk out to the park for instructional purposes, and get outside for proper outdoor refreshment and learn appropriate outdoor behaviors.  When children, especially those on the spectrum, aren’t given the right situations to practice their social skills and behaviors, they don’t progress, so getting out and practicing is something we strive toward.  It takes a lot of repetition. No matter how tired, or how many kids need to be dragged along….it’s important to focus on the child who needs the work.  We only have this chance once….It’s hard work for sure, but who else is going to do it?  And are they going to do it when it’s getting too late in that child’s life??

It is VERY easy and doable to incorporate a mixture of appropriate therapy, therapy items to help manage them in the home study environment better, and academics into a spectrum child’s life. 

While I have four children in all, I have two sons with varying degrees of needs,ages 13 and 9, and I am addressing those that may be higher functioning, but with sensory or processing difficulties that make life challenging. 

Please feel free to email me with questions or left comments.  I’m glad to share with you and answer questions.

Part III, to follow:  you prefer a non-Catholic curriculum, a protestant view, or secular


[1] Primary Language Lessons Workbook format

What Catholic Homeschooling with Autism looks like, Part I

What does home schooling your autism diagnosed son or daughter look like when being applied in the home?

While there are many variations in home settings, as many as those on the spectrum, most share in common the desire of the parents to keep the child home in a safe and nurturing environment, work with academics and tap into as many home therapies and resources as possible.

We have always home schooled with a strong Catholic classical education being integrated daily in the home.  This means, following a specific home school program, praying together, learning about our Catholic faith together 5 days a week within our actual schooling, as well as attending our parish for liturgies and other activities.  I will say with confidence that a good Catholic home schooling program in the home can and will develop a college ready student. 

The program we use is easily tweaked and adaptable to many needs of students, thank God for that.  I wouldn’t change a thing about it (except maybe the tuition part :)  HA!…but it’s worth every penny of it.  The program already is the most therapeutic – built into the actual courses, particularly in the younger grades where comprehension, observation, listening skills, retelling abilities…and critical thinking, sequencing, etc. are so foundational to further academics. All these areas are the same areas speech-language therapists work with in a clinical setting with many of those showing communication-language disorders.   It’s ALL there already.  Of course, I do highly recommend you have your child evaluated/screened thoroughly first, for a good diagnosis so you know exactly what you are dealing with.  And if speech language or other therapies are needed, do get those services for your child.  What we do in the home is in conjunction, and on occasion in place of outside therapies…BUT we have had and tapped into outside therapies; it’s just that sometimes you reach a place where you can do some of these on-going helps in the home daily.

Our academic home school program is: Mother of Divine Grace  or for those who wish to follow the courses without the help of Modg:  Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum.


Things I have discovered along the way that are key:

Reading. Seriously, if you EVEN THINK your child is having trouble picking up on reading, decoding, getting it all together……put everything else on hold and investigate further.  Do not put it off!  Each year they are not reading is a hindrance and is crucial to remedy and resolve to further education.

Children need to be reading at average age levels (like by 2nd grade following most standards)….and developing their reading capacities and comprehension abilities.  For special needs children, or those simply challenged who have not been diagnosed, this means reading may be formed into a method of therapy. 

  Example:  while my son with autism could read very early at a very high level, he didn’t necessarily understand what he was reading.  My simple at home method consisted of:  having him read a sentence in a story book that was mid-way ability to his reading level and then covering up the sentence with my hand and asking him what the sentence was telling us (in our case, at the end of 1st grade he was mid-way in a fourth grade reader).  This method worked, slowly and patiently, until I could have him read several sentences, cover them up and have him retell.  Eventually we worked up to a whole paragraph and so forth….Until, the first full book with chapters he read was Stuart Little (he was 8 yrs old), and each night he would read before bed, one chapter and voluntarily come into my bedroom and tell me the whole chapter’s events.  THAT WAS PROGRESS!!!  And how joyful to see his excitement over really understanding the story….where before, it was just excitement over rattled-off words.

Reading to your children is important, so they can hear language in books, but helping your child with early learning resources to help them recognize letters and sounds is important ground work.  Playing games with them, letting them watch educational TV and DVDs are all helpful for building a learning environment around them.  I used Leap Frog videos that sang the phonics and Leap Pad with educational alphabet and number games.  Of course our “Leap Pad” is completely outdated, I can not even show you on a link what it was.  They have all been updated technology wise. The point is: they were a great educational alternative.  I also did not allow just casual watching of the TV ever.  If the program was educational and at an appropriate time, they could view it.  Otherwise, I did not have the TV on occupying their minds or filling them with twaddle.  But we did have many fun video filled with educational materials, as well as baskets of books, books, books, blocks, puzzles and other hands-on materials for learning opportunities. 

~ Part II  to follow…..

Tuesday’s Prayer Reflection

I believe in St. Michael wholeheartedly….why?..because I believe in Angels.  Our scriptures are filled with angel references and I believe God created them as he created us. 

Each Tuesday of this new year I have been praying this very special prayer for some very special intentions.  It is a bit of a ritual, but then God’s word to us is filled with ritual and trust in Him.  This prayer brings me great peace and believe in the power of prayer very much.  I hope you will too, so be ready to light your candle each Tuesday.  I am passing this prayer on here as I do not leave it in our church, rather I pray at home with my novena candle lit.   God’s graces be with you+


St. Michael, I resort to your protection and, in my faith, offer this light which shall burn every Tuesday.

Comfort me in my difficulties and though lodging in the house of our savior, intercede for me and my family that we will be able to hold God close to our hearts and be provided for in all of our necessities.

I beseech you to have infinite pity in regard to the favours I ask of you (name them), that I may be able to overcome all difficulties as you did the dragon at your feet.


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb – Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.


Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, World without End. Amen.

This prayer is to be said for nine (9) Tuesdays in succession, and each Tuesday a candle shall be lighted and a copy of this prayer left in the church to help another soul in distress and support the devotion to St. Michael.

This miraculous Saint grants everything, no matter how difficult, and before the termination of the nine (9) weeks of Wednesdays.

~ ~ ~

For more on St. Michael visit:  St. Michael Society

Monday, February 04, 2013

Memoir Monday - A Flashback to 2008....Twenty-Third Sunday Ordinary Time

I find it so interesting to look back on my posts over the years and recall what I was thinking and feeling back then. And's a flashback and a prayer for all those involved in religious education. There were many memorable teachers that came before me, forming me, inspiring me and encouraging me. This Monday I reflect on them in gratefulness for all they gave to the Faith of lives and for the sacrifices they made to bring others to the fullness of Faith. God bless them all+ ~*~*~*~*~*~

Even though tomorrow is the twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary time, it will be anything but ordinary. Tomorrow our parish begins it's first Sunday of religious education, for which I am the 2nd grade instructor. It will be a very busy, bustling Sunday morning. I don't take this role lightly, I never have. In fact, I suppose I wouldn't have even taken on this role at all had it not been for the long arm of God, but that is another story! This will mark my 17th year in the parish program. The first couple years, I team-taught with the teacher that taught before me. I learned a lot from her and I am very grateful I had those couple years of being mentored. At the beginning of the third year of team-teaching my mentor was caught up in a divorce and had to abruptly leave at the beginning of the season. Oh, I will never forget that Sunday, or that year.....and still, here I am fifteen years later, not only teaching the first sacraments to precious second graders, but also helping to coordinate the program at both our parishes (for the last three years). Hmm, when I really think about how both of these situations rather fell to me by default...I have to chuckle. God does have a plan doesn't he? I really didn't say "yes" to either situation, but then again, I didn't run away shrieking NOooo.....I suppose this means I am/have been cooperating with God's plan? I hope so!

I wish the best to all those religious education instructors in parishes across the nation and particularly in my own diocese of Steubenville as they begin yet another season of religous instruction to those put in their charge. I pray for them most sincerely that they will make a difference, that they will plant seeds of spiritual growth and even though they may think their teaching dry or not reaching their students...may God bless their efforts by sending those that water and nuture further the spiritual growth and learning of these young students, whom many seeds are being planted within. We know the Holy Spirit is powerful indeed; let's pray for one another's needs as teachers of the Faith, and for those mothers who strive daily, yearly, within their own households teaching their own class of children through home education, that God will bless them with the wisdom, proper resources, guidance and graces needed to raise up strong people of God to "go forth unto all the ends of the earth."

Ordinary Life

After a not so great weekend, I’m glad to awaken to no more headache and drink a wonderful cup of Caruso’s houseblend coffee, my favorite brew these days.  Relief from the pain.  Relief from the terrible fatigue. Relief from the stresses I felt yesterday.  I think I’ve been fighting off the flu or a virus of some kind for the last week.  I’m hoping my youngest sons are okay this morning because both did not feel so well yesterday, and we departed for home immediately following our PSR sessions.  I’m letting them continue to sleep.

We have a busy home school week ahead, and that’s all we have…school, school, school, and the usual household chores.  I hope to get some more cleaning done around here. 

It’s ordinary time and life here until Lent hits in just 9 days.  Lent always seems to make me nervous anymore….I guess because I attempt to cram in so much in anticipation of my class’s First Reconciliation, Easter, Confirmation, First Communion events this year.  It’s like I can’t just kick into penance mode and reap the benefits of it internally like I did many years ago.  Still, my job is burdensome enough at the parish that it is a living sacrifice with many discomforts and I offer it up continually.

This Lent my husband will be hosting the Catholicism Project sessions, each Tuesday evening as we kick off this wonderful Fr. Barron program for the parishes.  That will undertake many weeks ahead, and he has been diligently preparing for the presentations and discussions over a month or more now.

Winter has surely arrived here in my part of the country as well….the deep freeze right now.  Makes it painful to get around, but grateful this year that I don’t have as many appointments to make it to with the youngest boys for a change.  I’ll take staying home and schooling over traveling out there any day!

Must get moving here, God bless your day!+

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Confirmation Sponsor & Saturdays

Most Saturdays, for the last 20 years have included my preparation for my parish school of religion classes.  In the last 6 years I have been given the additional role of coordinator of our parish religion program from K through high school.  Never say never!….I had declined many times from that role In the past until God made it blatantly clear, it was I he was calling to serve.  And so, I stopped running, stood in my tracks and said YES. 

Here I am Lord!….six years later, after having taught the 2nd grade sacrament class for nearly 14 years, adding in and continuing to do so,  with a dual role of teacher and coordinator.

This position brings great joy and great distress.  I find wonderful curriculum and useless twaddle.  One such wonderful find was when I was given the “go ahead” to choose a new Confirmation curriculum.  I was glad to do so as the last program was strange and useless, and confusing in many ways. 

Happily I found the Ligouri Confirmation for Teens program, and it works nicely for grades 7th up through high school if needed.  We give the students their own folder of the lessons, the private journal activity book and the sponsor journal, amid other important information. 

I am thrilled and honored to have been asked to be a Confirmation sponsor this year by my son’s friend.  What a wonderful and special joy for me as I’m rarely asked to do anything like that because most look at me like I am too busy in my position, organizing the event, or having my own family in the prep, to be involved further.  However, busy I am ….I still can participate in a special sacrament more fully.  I am grateful to be a sponsor to a special candidate this year.

Along with being a sponsor I receive from my candidate the Sponsor’s Journal, as seen here:

I love this introspective booklet for journaling thoughts…recalling your own faith journey and confirmation.  How wonderful it’s been to log into it and ponder how God has called me along the path of His Will all these years.  My candidate and I have met once already to talk about his confirmation, and will meet a few more times; I will take note of it in my journal.  His confirmation name is to be St. Anthony (of Padua), and it’s so interesting that this happens to be the feast day (birthday) of my son, his friend also.  God is all-connecting, isn’t He?

And how mysterious God works, as another friend who had left the fold of our particular parish many years ago and has faithfully attended elsewhere, has now returned with her family, and her son is also in the Confirmation prep classes preparing for his day as well.  I feel like we have all come home together for a big celebration in Christ in April.  What a wonderful way to make it through the winter, anticipating such joy and graces ahead.

In the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation, the bishop prays, extending his hands over the confirmandi, "All powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, by water and the Holy Spirit you freed your sons and daughters from sin and gave them new life. Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their helper and guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen." Then, the bishop confirms each candidate, making the sign of the cross with holy chrism on his forehead, and saying, "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."

~ Fr. William Saunders, Catholic Education Resource Center