St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Discussing Christianity…

…with my students at home.

At some point in our curriculum courses as we approach the end of grade 8 religion study, the student is scheduled to read, chapter by small concentrated chapter, C.S. Lewis’s “A Case for Christianity.” and asked to discuss it per the discussion questions/guide from Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum.  This final course is the golden crown of jewels of the 8th grade Mother of Divine Grace studies.  Just as the Advanced American Government & Economics course in 12th grade is the crowning glory of the Modg course of studies at the end of the road. 

And so it is, I am on my third student discussing A Case for Christianity.  It is so interesting to hear the insight they glean and how wonderful it is to have these discussions revealing truths in depth.  It tells me how ready they are to move on into deeper material and know logically that the argument for Christianity exists and is valid. 

When our values are so challenged today, all over the place and so blatantly and openly and rudely and without respect whatsoever…..I find the need to teach more thoroughly and live more thoroughly what our church teaches; not my own opinion…but authentic church teaching.  This is why I find Modg’s religion courses integrated with history and literature so well done.  My children graduate from 12th grade really knowing their faith.  When my oldest son and daughter are able to answer the hard questions in religion classes at college, and the professors applaud them for it and say:  “you are a Catholic that knows their stuff!”….I am proud that all those years at home paid off. 

In the meantime, we are nearly done with our curriculum studies for the year yay!  My 8th grader just has a couple weeks of math left, religion and history and all should be complete in two weeks time; then he’ll tackle his assessment and a standardized test.  My third grader is down to just a couple more weeks of math, and a standardized test.


It’s been a very productive school year in so many ways!  And another Confirmation complete for this family. (MIchael above with his Chrism forehead, and his sister beaming)  I can’t believe we will be celebrating the one year anniversary of Mark having made his first sacraments already – wow!  Fastest year ever!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Ponderings...and prayers

This is probably one of the more quiet Saturdays of my life!  I awoke earlier than usual, probably anticipating so much going on this weekend; sipped my coffee, meditated on my readings and prayers in my Magnificat prayer book, and watched the sun grow brighter and stronger through the window.  It looks beautiful and clear out.  

Tomorrow marks a special event in our lives, but more so in the life of my 13 year old son, who receives the Sacrament of Confirmation along with his classmates from church.  I am very honored to have been asked to be a sponsor by one of my son's friends.  What wonderful young men they are, and how it does my heart good to know they are  being confirmed and practicing their faith. In fact, this is a particularly great group of young people.  I pray they will always stay close to God and church the rest of their lives.  I believe young people truly need the power and graces of this sacrament to make their way through the tough teen years into young adulthood and beyond.  
I also would like to ask for prayers for a neighbor who is going through a divorce and it is very sad and ugly indeed.  My heart goes out to their family and their 8 children :(   I pray for peace and resolve for all involved and any injustices done to be revealed and settled.  May God grant them the strength they need.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Change of Therapist

That’s a bittersweet title.  The truth of it is, my son that has been in cognitive behavioral therapy for the last 4.5 years, with the same therapist due to his OCD /anxiety, is now going to be challenged by a change.  This dear therapist who has been so excellent for him has taken a leave to spend more time with her family.  She was not at liberty to reveal the circumstances, but it was serious enough that she is leaving a very well paying position in a mental health and recovery services practice she’s been in for many years, and when she called, she only had the remainder of the week, 2 days left, and she was finished.  Indeed, my heart dropped at the news. 

I swear I saw both my and my son’s lives flash before my eyes as she spoke to me on the phone that day……She asked if I’d like to look elsewhere for a therapist and she could give recommendations, or if I’d like to stay within the practice (my son’s psychiatrist is in practice there also), and I said we’d like to stay if there was another child therapist available.  She recommended the art therapist who does what she does with therapy but also does some art therapy toward the end of the sessions.  I thought that sounded pretty neat and as good a switch as any.  So I’m hoping this new therapist will be a good fit for my son.  Already we will be starting out a little rocky as it’s not our usual day or time slot….hopefully, once established we can schedule much further ahead for our more liked days and times.



Tony Shalhoub from the TV series MONK, the detective with OCD.

Although this is scary to me, changing therapists….as this son doesn’t take well to change at all, and not like the rest of us…I mean it comes out in OCD and highly difficult sensitive anxiety behaviors that are tough to work through….I’m trusting that God has a plan.  I’m going to take a guess that the new therapist is Catholic.  I saw her credentials and she attended Marietta College and Ursuline College here in Ohio.  The last therapist was Catholic having grown up in a nearby town that was largely Catholic and attending Walsh University, also Catholic college.  So she was understanding of a Catholic mentality and life style.  It was amazing to me that our insurance would only cover a certain facility, and that given the chances of “beggars can’t be choosers”, what would be the chances of getting a Catholic therapist??  (and maybe even twice??)

I am going to look at this with an open mind and heart and assume that this is the person needed for my son to further his mental health and well being into his high school years and perhaps beyond….as he matures and grows and hopefully is able to get over a few of the hurdles he still has to work toward tackling.  He’s come a long ways but there is always more work to be done….always a work in progress.

Homeschooling: Just do it!


When my oldest son wrote his entrance essay for college admissions, he told in it how he and his siblings had been home schooled  from Pre-K through high school and how his parents exercised  a “freedom in this country to choose the education they felt was right for their children.”  He described in detail how home schooling provided him the flexibility in high school to pursue more fully his own interests like art, and enabled him to travel yearly to Washington be politically active, participating in the March for Life event.  And so began his college career on the wings of having been home schooled with many opportunities available to him.

I would not be honest if I were to say it was all rosy and smooth ahem..cough cough ……there were many days, weeks, months, where it was very difficult, still, where God has convicted one’s heart, there is always hope and joy, a will and passion for continuing onward.  We knew home schooling through high school was what God wanted for us – it really wasn’t our choice, but it was our free will to say yes or no to what God was calling us to do.

If I could share anything about home schooling it would be the simple mantra:  “just do it.”  That’s it.  Don’t look ahead too far, don’t look back too much, just stay in the moment and do what must be done.  Set a course that is doable…like a semester, and see it through.   Home schooling, like breastfeeding takes a little navigation at first, but once you really involve yourself in it completely and with commitment, it becomes second nature, you can pull it off.  It isn’t rocket science, really it isn’t!  So just do it.

Next, I would say, don’t be so ready to throw in the towel so soon.  Like anything worth it’s salt, it takes time to see results.  Depending on when you are starting or re-starting, it may take months to see the benefits.  Don’t give up too soon (or ever…for that matter); just because something isn’t working right now, or your student isn’t enjoying it at the moment or moving forward, doesn’t mean it’s a wash;  it’s anything but that.   Sometimes progress is slow going…Home schooling is about mastery, so give it time, be patient.  When my 3rd grade student seemed to hit a wall with long division several months back, and asked me to help him through division every time it showed up in the lesson…for two months….I didn’t throw the program aside and switch thinking he’s just not getting this!..he keeps asking me for help!…no, I just remained patient realizing he’s a different learner anyway…it was a sequencing challenge to him…the 5 steps of division plus adding in extra digits every so often.  After two months of my having to sit with him to go over the problems, he finally stopped asking….he really did know it. From then on he never asked again…just worked out the problems, and has been getting them right.  So, do be patient.  Don’t be antsy to jump ship in curriculum or altogether.

Do take breaks and do fun things often with the family or friends for your children.  Get them out and let them defragment from school school school.  When you are homeschooling, it’s a 24/7 thing and it can seem daunting and endless to them, (and to mom too).  Fixed time during the week brings a refreshment to look forward to.  Be sure to not neglect school for other social interferences, but do not exclude getting them out into the world and doing something fun and a departure from the every day work of school.  As a mother of two college students…I can say school doesn’t just end when they go to college….it gets more complex….and because I’m a fully engaged mother, not nosey, but connected to my older children and their studies within reason…and they consult with me often about school I feel more schooly than ever! like it’s never ending for 18 years and on..…So, I myself, like other moms need a fun time out there every week also. (Our local home school co-op has been a good diversion for getting out and among other peer-mates and participating in other activities.)


And so along with these thoughts to consider, consider your own commitment level….is it a 5, on a scale of 1 to 10…or is it a 10…or 10+?  Are you in it for the long haul…or just tinkering with it until something you think is better comes along?   If it is the latter, I can guarantee you won’t be home schooling long.  If you have fears now, say anticipating high school, do your home work now.  You have time to work out a game plan you can stick to through the high school years.  Anything is possible these days with home schooling from Pre-K through high school, and in some cases, college.  So, don’t let a lack of_________stop you.  There is no lack of anything with home education any more.

These thoughts to consider have been brought to you by a concerned home schooling parent :)   God bless!

Just remember:  Just do it!

Homeschooling Books I recommend for that booster shot of confidence and wisdom:

Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist

Homeward Bound by Kimberly Hahn & Mary Hasson

Catholic Homeschooling by Dr. Mary Kay Clark

Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson

A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning,  by Karen Andreola

Monday, April 22, 2013

baby & me / the new evian film

SO cute!  Just had to share....

Memoir Monday: First things first

Autism.  It’s a word that has been in my family for many years now.  My paternal cousin Robbie, now in his forties, has autistic disorder, and was placed in institutional care for many years.  He lives in a group home situation and comes home on weekends.  He is mostly non-verbal.  I can’t imagine what life was like for Uncle Jim and Aunt Chris with five children, and the youngest being autistic, but I know they have given child raising their all.

Fast forward to 2003, the year my son Mark was born.  Such a delightful, chubby baby – SOoooo good.  The best, non-fussy baby I had enjoyed was Mark Thomas, our fourth child, our third son. 


Michael holding Mark, 2004

During Mark’s toddlerhood we began to notice odd behaviors, like standing on tip toes in front of the t.v., flapping hands, and a lot of silence….Mark wasn’t beginning to talk, or at least form words….he’d babble and coo and rarely would cry, and when he’d cry, it was kind of more quiet crying..not the wailing out that most babies/toddlers do.  Still, we thought: “different”, but thought nothing more.

I began to read and read about speech delay.  I implemented some directed help in the home with sensory items and large body therapies (rolling back and front on a large sensory ball)….making the child use the non-dominant hand for painting, grabbing, holding things.  Making a game of all of it.  Soon, Mark’s speech began to emerge.  In hindsight, I was most concerned about the speech….I felt if we could make that hurdle, we could progress with other therapies (professionally administered), and get thorough screenings. 

Why did we not take him right away…for those professional therapies?  Because at the time we were already dealing with an illness of mind and body in his brother four years older than him.  Another son was diagnosed and being treated quite seriously and very often for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)/anxiety.  We really had our hands full at the time; but were not lax; we did as much as possible in the home setting until we could find our way clear, and have his brother more stabilized and able to deal with what would be going on with Mark.


Mark on left, Michael on right, spring 2009

It’s good we have two very neuro-typical go-getter-motivated to take on the world older children….one graduating from college in two weeks, the other half-way through.  They are the other “adults” of our household and when they are here, it brings a stronger sense of normalcy to my home and home life (and home school).

I pondered at times why God saw fit for myself to raise two special needs boys….when I felt I wasn’t even a good parent to begin with!…but was just fudging my way through…..I pray to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton …A LOT. 

And so…I leave you with this link, to a small story written nearly a couple of years ago now at the Autism Site about my son Mark and his first diagnosis.  To date Mark is doing very well.  We continue to home school and apply particular targeted therapies in the home and elsewhere.  We feel that the safe environment and top notch academics of home schooling, mixed with the selective outside activities, both extracurricular and social, are all any child needs to thrive and blossom in both personhood and ability to succeed in this world.  Having three siblings  before him, all home schooled, Mark is benefitting from an even more enhanced home school experience that has 17+ years to back it up.  I continue to pray for the graces and wisdom needed to see it through.

Thank you for reading!  ….for Mark’s story, follow this link:

First Things First: Meeting the Autism Diagnosis

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Memoir Monday: The Power of the Holy Spirit

In helping the teens of our parish program prepare for the awesome sacrament of Confirmation, I am reminded of my own confirmation experience.  In fact, I will never forget it.  It was life changing for me.  Truly the power of the Holy Spirit bringing to me all I needed to really overcome some hurdles.

It was 1974, we had already moved around southern California three times, to Arizona once, and back to California, and finally to Salt Lake City Utah.  In 1973, I was in the local Catholic parochial grade school affiliated with our parish of St. Ambrose. 

Because of all the moving (entering a new school district over and over), and attempting to “fit in”, “make friends” and become stable….I was very shy, very awkward and very much wanting to “bond” with people….but by now, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it….thinking we would once again uproot and move elsewhere, why bother?  This was not all bad, because I had very much bonded with my Lord and God as the stability in my life.

Sixth grade  was the grade for Confirmation in my Catholic school.  The Daughters of Charity of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton were our teachers, mixed with some lay instructors.  This was the BEST school fit for me so far.  Although I was nearly two years behind in math (the California school system was that far behind), and needed to be tutored every morning before classes, by Sr. Veronica, this year was looking up.  I was beginning to trust and thrive.

JECosgriff Sr Paule Freeberg '71

Can you spot me? That’s me in the back row, third from the left.

Okay, in walks awkwardness and it wasn’t going away…I went through four shoe sizes, grew two inches and my skin began to break out.  Still,  I was beginning to feel good about being where we were.  I felt my spiritual life suddenly deepen and awaken in a way I hadn’t yet experienced….and I wasn’t even Confirmed yet.  God had a plan, and I needed to trust it although I could not see the road map.

I’m not sure what was happening, but I knew it was all good.  As the good Sisters prepared us for Confirmation and we delved deeper into the scriptures with Sr. Paule who was an authority on the letters of Saint Paul, my heart and soul and mind were truly awakened to Christ.  Everything about the spiritual life was coming to fruition in me.  At home my devotion to the Infant of Prague continued to keep me focused.

I recognized I needed the gifts of the Holy Spirit in a big way.  If I was ever going to come out of my shell, forget my awkwardness, focus on other more important things outside of myself….and even play guitar….I needed an outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for sure.  I was thrilled and ever so ready to receive the Sacrament. 

I chose St. Joan of Arc as my Confirmation name.  I think it’s obvious why that would be!  I needed a model of young courage and unselfishness, someone with great leadership skills!  St. Joan was definitely that;  on fire with the love of God, and ready to die for her faith.  Yes.  St. Joan it was.

I asked a neighbor to be my sponsor as her family was close to us, and we car pooled to the Catholic schools together and attended the same parish.  Linda was a wonderful sponsor.  Although we don’t live anywhere near each other now, we still stay in touch and are friends on Facebook today.


And so it happened….this wonderful conferring of this glorious sacrament with it’s outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and completion of baptism. I was in all the way.  I was HIS all the way.

I was never the same.

I can honestly trace back to the day of my Confirmation as the day that changed my life forever…..for the better.  Soon, I began to come out of that shyness, the shell…I began to play guitar publically at mass, in the classroom, for functions with others.  I sang.  I tried out for cheerleading…and I got it…and the second year, I also got it and was the leader of the squad.   I ran for student office, and also was in that leadership role.  I sang and played guitar at the mass at our local parish….every Saturday evening…for the next 8 years.  The gift of the Holy Spirit saw me through those tough high school years….where I blossomed more in my courage and being outgoing, and sharing my gifts with others.  My voice, my guitar, my leadership abilities.



So yes, Confirmation made a huge difference in my ability to share, give and outreach to others….that has continued to this day, 39 years later….

So, to say I’m thrilled about our young people receiving this sacrament is an understatement…..I am absolutely ESTATIC for them!


If I could tell the candidates anything… would be: be open to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let it pour forth and awaken in you all you need to fulfill your mission in this life….because God does have a plan for you, a unique plan.  It involves your talents and gifts…so don’t be selfish with them, don’t gawk at using them to serve others.

Be open. Be receptive. Be changed.

+Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Homeschool, Non-Catholic Classical

I have many, many non-Catholic friends in my circle of homeschooling.  I am asked on a regular basis, “what do you do for school”, “what do you use?”  Because we have home schooled through high school and into college, with traditional home schooling, I end up being the “target” for these queries.  That’s okay, because I don’t mind talking “school” at all.  It’s pretty much my favorite subject!   This last Thursday at our local co-op, was no different.  I find that many of my protestant counterparts in home schooling just don’t know WHAT to do with their children as they move up in the ranks.  Or what to do for their special needs children.  Money is sometimes an issue (i.e. to pay for therapies or specialized treatments, evaluations, etc.)  …and understandably so. I will be writing another post on special needs home stay tuned for that one coming later!  I do believe:  where there’s a will, there’s a way….it is my long standing philosophy!

First, when asked by my non-Catholic friends about curriculum I always suggest a classical repertoire first.  If I were not Catholic, following a Catholic classical program, I would do this next best thing which is very similar:

Classical Core Programs – Memoria Press

Here is the THIRD GRADE sample of a whole year; what’s awesome about this program is that you just pay for the books, (and just replenish the consumable ones from year to year).  Another great thing about the Memoria Press core program is it comes with awesome lesson plans!….that offer a day by day breakdown of subjects and are so simple to follow; something I love and do have available to me with the current program we use.

I even love Memoria Press’s motto:

Saving Western Civilization One Student at a Time


Classical?  Why?  This is the other question. 

Classical because of this:

"Liberal education, which we also call classical education, is such an education….. It begins in wonder and aims at wisdom. It involves the seven liberal arts: grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. It also includes the study of nature, the soul, ethics and politics, the highest created objects, and finally that to which all the others are ordered - theology, an understanding of the divine." ~ Laura Berquist

So, it isn’t just ANY education.  …begins in wonder and aims at wisdom…..and understanding of the divine….let’s just stop right there.  Our public school system is terribly lacking in the disciplines of course studies that lead to GOD, yes, the DIVINE in this case.  In the Christian Classical realm….all studies are ordered to the highest aim, which is the Almighty. 

Classical education is an education that produces young men and women to think for themselves,  – active learners – not passive learners being spoon-fed information for the sake of passing the test or just getting the grade; or an education that narrows or tracks you into one field only.  Students of classical education are able to see what’s real and what’s fluff.  What’s meaningful and ethical, and broadens their minds and horizons and what is simply mediocre and stripped or devalued.  They also have a broad and wonderful world view in the context of none of it being censored or eliminated.

When my husband and I made the decision that I would stay home and home school, we looked over many home schooling options; I even ordered a boxed curriculum twice in the earliest grades…and when I came upon the book Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, and I understood that if I’m going to give up an income by staying home, I wanted it to pay off down the road in the biggest dividends …a top-notch education for our children.  Classical was offering that.  My husband looked at how deficient his own public and Catholic school education was……He did not want the same for his children.  He is a wise man :)

So, yes, Classical. 

If not Classical, what next?  Seriously, I would consider a taditional curriculum like Abeka straight across the board because they stay current with changes in standardized testing and they are a good rigorous program covering every subject area.  If you were to need support in the higher grades, you could enroll with their school on line (a bit pricey also, but well worth it I’m sure).  Okay, Abeka may be kind of workbooky, but it is beautifully done and I suppose if I had to use any workbook course material, I would prefer it to be something well done, in both appearance and content like Abeka.

What I would not do… hop, jump and skip around from curriculum to curriculum.  It’s one thing to maybe swap out a math text in exchange for a different approach if you find it isn’t working for your student and you can’t seem to get it to work.  But not switching curriculum in a fickle way from year to year.  Most curriculum is written to build upon it’s predecessor from the year before….this even goes for simple parish religious ed textbooks….(oh the gaps I can attest to from year to year with teachers not using the book! and just winging it *sigh)  in academic education this leads to terrible gaps in especially math!….It’s wise to stick with a program and see it through.  Remember you will have some grumbling regardless as material increases in difficulty.  And if resources are worth their salt they will increase in difficulty, challenging the student, and rightly so.  This prepares them for higher thinking at a different level, such as college. 

May our great God bless you with the wisdom and grace to provide for your children the best education that will lead them to always know and follow Him, who is our true destiny.

Friday, April 12, 2013

First Communion banner & memories

There is just nothing sweeter to me than helping to get the children of our parish ready for First Communion.  It’s such a beautiful time and a welcomed sacrament.  The families gather and we celebrate together as a parish family.  I have so many wonderful memories, stories….I should write a collection of them some day; twenty years worth surely adds up to something!

Today, a day where the social networks were bringing to light the grim details of a terrible abortionists’ tale….(and I agree that needs to be done), I decided to escape the grim reality of such inhumanity and focus on a sweeter reality of the innocence of five beautiful children who will receive their First Holy Communion in a few weeks.  This is one of the most small classes I have ever had! fact, THE smallest class in 22 years of being in the second grade instructing. 

It began with “thinking out” the banner….


Then, more sewing and ironing began…..

Soon, placing the felt pieces and photos just right…..And although it is not quite yet complete….(I still need to add a golden cord, with dowel rod through the top for hanging)….it is looking worthy of hanging on the lectern in our sanctuary on their special day.


God bless these children and their families as they anticipate that glorious day in May, and their hearts sing: Receive the Lord! 


Friday ….[frightday]…

#Gosnell….In the future I think he may be referred to as Gruesome Gosnell.  If it isn’t bad enough we have legalized abortion, add in something even more horrendous as this “abortionist” has done.  God help him.  God help us all on behalf of the human race.  What IS this world coming to?? 

In order to counteract some of the horrific sadness this man – his trial – his horrible choices in life bring me this day as we bombard social media with his name to raise awareness to the mainstream media, that seems to ignore something as important as this……I decided today was an excellent day to make a First Communion Banner with some lovely loved children on it.

See next post…..

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April: Autism Awareness

It’s been nearly two years ago now that we came to know the final diagnosis of our then 7 year old son: Autism. Officially: high functioning Autism with hyperlexia. 

While this month is to nationally raise awareness to the general public, we as a family don’t need the month of April to remind us of autism awareness because we are very aware of autism each and every day in our home.  We think about it all the time, we live with it. 

Mark is a joy to us and we have done and continue to do everything we can to help him “connect” and grow.  It is so true that early intervention is very important.  Waiting for things to “work out”, or for them to “mature”, isn’t likely a good idea.  These special children need as part of their early formation the therapies and guidance that encourage a more neuro-typical demeanor for them.  It will not change who they are, but it will change how they are perceived by others (more acceptable socially) and their self-sufficiency levels.

It is a lot of work to have a special child to raise.  I feel blessed that we have him, almost honored,  and I know God has a special plan for his life that we will come to know as it unfolds.  

So, during this Autism Awareness month, we give a shout-out to all those families raising autism spectrum children.  Be their heroes, and help unleash their super powers.


Christian Conservative Victoria Jackson: Just like Portia – I “came out”!

I don't usually post things like this, but it was so well done via Christian Conservative Actress (of SNL fame), Victoria Jackson.  She has an interesting political blog:

"I have no pity for you Portia. And, since your side, the Left, keeps throwing the word “TOLERANT” around…maybe you could actually practice it yourselves.

Love a Christian. See how that feels. I love you."

Next Year’s Curriculum Line-up

I’m so excited to already be exploring next year’s curriculum for my home school.  Our rising high school son will be using the following courses per Mother of Divine Grace, for 9th grade:

Faith & Morality

US History & American Literature

Latin I (Cambridge Latin, Unit I)

Grammar & Composition

Algebra I

Earth Science

Fine Arts: (either) Art Appreciation, or Art History as an on line LS Class; depends on what time and time slot for us this next year.

We have many extracurricular activities locally, both through our parish program/youth group, and our home school co-op.  As home schoolers, we also make our own extracurricular activities that work with our learning lifestyle.

~ My Fourth Grade son will be doing:

With the guidance of the Fourth Grade Modg Syllabus, he will be doing:

Bible History &   Catechism

Prima Latina

Math 4

Intermediate Language Lessons (I use the “workbook” format of this resource due to my son’s special needs)  or you can get the regular hard copy textbook here:

Writing Road to Reading/Spelling

Understanding God’s World (Science)

Pioneers & Patriots (American History) w/ Map Study Skills

Drawing Textbook, & Child-Size Masterpieces

Let’s Learn Music Book 3

Classical Music Selections and Selected Poetry for memorization

We are enrolled in Mother of Divine Grace for record keeping and guidance per a personalized consultant and approach.  BUT, you can follow this provider without being enrolled and with much benefit if you are motivated family and go it alone without the support and do your own recordkeeping.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Brings Light

Today we realize we are nearly done with school…..Seeing weeks 27 through 30, showing up on our weekly lists of 32 weeks ….not too much longer to go.  It’s been a productive year.  I am grateful!

Difficult. It’s also been a difficult year of growth and discoveries.  But, that’s okay.  It’s how we learn; learn our place, learn our strengths, learn our weaknesses.  It’s all part of God’s plan.  I’m okay with that.

Web Sunny Mark (2)

Revealing.  It’s been a school season that has been very revealing to me as a wife and mother and teacher of other’s children.  I have come to understand my own children’s frailties and limitations much better, and also learned their super powers.  It’s those super powers that will launch them into their path in life. 

Growing.  I think we have all grown in this family quite a bit this last year also.  From school year to school year, I can see such progress.  Mental health issues that plague one son are more slow in coming…but they do come slowly but surely.  He will get there, with time and patience.  Another son has calmed down, unwinding from four rigorous highly involved college years. He is ready to graduate and strike out more on his own, marching to his own drummer. 

Memorable.  This is a special year for many reasons. Some private, some public.  All to be celebrated in some way; whether it’s the singing of my soul secretly inside, or the singing of my voice publically in worship. 

Spiritual.  As I contemplate the sacredness of sacraments, I see the devaluation of them at the same time, sadly.  It is not an event to be achieved like a graduation, or birthday.  It is holy, it is grace, it is God giving to us.  I wish more people would see the sacraments in a more reverent light.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Homeschooling Memoir for Monday....

Wow, this is such a flashback for me as I pondered it, dust it off, load it up for Memoir Monday! That "16 1/2 yr old son" I mention in this blog post from many years ago, is now 22 year old and graduating with academic honors from his college, which his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Art, with English and Philosophy minors. WHERE did the time go? But more so, HOW did we [as a family] do this? I believe we did it because it was truly what God's will was for our family. The power of the Holy Spirit enabled us to engage fully our God-given gifts and go full speed ahead steadily and consistently with home education. So, I give you the prequel portion of our home education life.

Hmm, this homeschooling that we did it start? Sometimes, I reflect back to the why and how this all began. It was birthed by my husband; even before our oldest (now 16 1/2) was a year old my husband announced one day in the kitchen after arriving home from work, we might want to listen to Focus on the Family on such-and-such a day, as it is going to be discussing "homeschooling". What?.....what's that?, I remember saying. My husband explained and I said: "People do that? Why would they do that??" LOL! I laugh now, yes, but then, I was quite serious; I had no idea people were educating their children at home - it was all quite new to me. Well, my husband said, let's listen and keep an open mind. How the Holy Spirit was working through him, now amazes me! Before long, we were attending our first homeschooling conference, locally and I was meeting families who were and had been for several years, homeschooling. Still, our oldest was very young and I had "years" to think about biggest hurdle was if we were to decide to would I tell family and friends? How would I explain? This was all so new and so different then what was happening "out there".

So, I was undecisive as to whether we would really home educate. I thought it would be a good education, I wasn't worried about socialization or anything negative, and I knew there were laws that allowed us to keep our children home and educate them. But, what would others think? I somehow couldn't quite get myself to agree to it; I prayed and prayed that God would actually just "give me the answer" so I could say "yes or no" to this commitment, and I left it at that....then....

When I was pregnant with our second child, and my oldest son was nearing 2 years of age, we discovered he had a peanut allergy. A pretty serious one. Upon one of our several visits to the pediatric allergist, the subject of "school" came up - the doctor said [and I quote].."you can monitor what he eats and any peanut exposure vigilantly, but the hardest thing will be when he goes to school....." Quite off the cuff I said immediately: "..well, maybe we just won't send him to school..." and then the doctor picked up quickly..."I have many families who home school their children that have these kinds of serious allergies...there is no reason why he couldn't be homeschooled if two parents agreed this would be a suitable alternative...."

Well, I couldn't believe it! I wasn't even thinking: "homeschooling" when I made my remark - really, I was just saying we wouldn't send him to school.....

Later, I thought to myself: could we have those remarks written on your prescription pad??

Well, I felt very confidently that I - we, had received our answer, and we have literally not looked back since, but if only to recall how God has worked in our lives.

Update: Being the kind of person that believes nothing is by mistake, or accident or default when it comes to God's purpose and plan for our lives, I look with far more depth and value at the gift of homeschooling and how it was arranged for us. I should add: "Catholic" homeschooling; because indeed, it is a Catholic education and formation that is uniquely and wonderfully given in the home, the domestic church. I see where our son's serious allergy led to a lifestyle that could lead to the very benefit and further salvation of each soul in this family. Perhaps our son's allergy has saved his own soul from what corruption he may have daily been exposed to that would have had far worse eternal consequences than even the peanut allergy, as deadly as it is. God has his way, and we pray for the graces always that our eyes and ears and hearts are open to his voice and we have the courage to follow where he is leading us.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Anxious Anxious Anxious Anxious

Anxiety disorders are so difficult.  Anyone who suffers one, or those who are acquainted with someone who suffers one, know how challenging and exhausting it can be.  Medication and therapy do help, I will definitely say that.  My son could have never moved forward this far in the last four years without either.  However, we still have some “very bad days” and today was one of them.

My 13 yr old son is highly intelligent, does excellent academic work, lots of literature reading (he use to not read at all, was afraid what would be told on the next page [phobias]…but now he reads Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton)…most of this means nothing to his peer mates.  Things that mean something to his peer mates are laser-quest play dates, sleepovers, going to movies (all without mom in tow naturally, and rightly so – and believe me, I WISH he could do these things, you have no idea how much I wish he could do these things).

My son can not function on that level of “social.”  My son is very friendly and attracts people, yes, but for as much as they like him, they come to realize he is “limited” and they usually pursue other friendships, leaving him behind once they make this discovery.  Understandably, because he is at this point a dead-end when it comes to being able to be fully engaged with other peer mates.  It is an anxiety disorder after all, and I know it is very frustrating to him.

Today was one such day where the realization of it came crashing down on him (and I, both).  A day I’m sure he’d like to forget.  Back in December a mother from our homeschool co-op called to see if my son could come and do a sleepover with some of the other boys from the group, for her son’s birthday.  It was so nice that he was asked, and you can not imagine how glad and yet how horrible I felt to tell her….to disappoint her….to “reveal” to her that it was something my son just couldn’t do.  I explained a little without getting into too much detail – privacy, he deserves some, and he hopes and prays he will grow out of a lot of this.  Well, after a long winter break, the co-op kids have returned full force and it was pretty noticeable to my son that this friend stayed away from him, treating him differently – stand offish, and coupling up with another friend there. I was not aware of this myself because I don’t really pay attention to these things.  But strangely, the mother made a comment to me about next years’ schedule when we were looking it over, that she’d be scheduling her son to do some classes a grade level below with another friend, because he wanted to do things with his “buddy.”  Well,…yes, I understood, and as much as it hurt my heart to hear that, I had to just let it go.  Now, I could be completely wrong, that I didn’t understand correctly her sudden and to the point words …..but I think I did.

My son is very misunderstood.  Anxiety disorders are misunderstood and bothersome to young people who just don’t “get it”…don’t understand what the big deal is?

I’m grateful that we do have a few families around us that do understand and work with us, and that our son does have other friends who are kind and accept him as he is….and meet him where he’s at. 

I felt like telling this mother today… you don’t think a day or night goes by that I don’t worry about this son?  You think I enjoy all the therapy and daily medication and trying to work out where we can stretch him without stressing, him, I and the entire family out too badly?  Do you think I don’t wonder about what on earth he will do with his life, will he go to college?…will he hold down a job??? ….will he drive and will he be okay overall?? *sigh….

Honesty.  Total honesty. It doesn’t help to be in denial about any of it because that would not be productive in helping him. 

So, the very bad revelation day.

I know God  has a plan for this young man.  I take consolation in it.  I will be at peace with this.  I mostly ask prayers for my son and his own feelings…his hurt feelings.  He is doing better this evening, he can be a trooper, but I know these are “growing pains” of the most painful kind that will not be forgotten all too easily.

May God’s peace and healing power and comfort be with him, and with this mother’s heart who lives for her children and gives them all as much as possible to help them grow and face the challenges of this life.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Virtues: What a year has taught me

Virtues.  It’s a word that seems overrated through time,doesn’t it?  Or not heard about much these days in the secular world, take your pick!  But this last year it was a word that kept appearing in my life all over the place, finally leading up to a fabulous book which I had no idea was about virtue in a very big way. [See: If Aristotle’s Kid had an Ipod by Conor Gallagher in my other blogpost].

I’m pondering this now because in Catholic education the “virtues” come up quite often.  And again virtue made it’s way into our very lives through education this year and my book reading. We studied the cardinal virtues [listed below], those main virtues that stand as hinges from which other virtues are hung.  My 8th grade son and I just reviewed them, he so anxious to tell me ALL of them, including the seven deadly sins, something else we are covering, along with their opposing virtue: gluttony(temperance), lust(chastity), pride(humility), sloth(diligence), envy(brotherly love), anger(meekness), greed(charity). 

However, one thing I learned in such a big way this year in regard to virtue was this:

“Your children can live happily without you, but not without the virtues…..”

Haunting. That’s what stands out in my mind.  But after reading the above mentioned book, it makes perfect sense. (Spoiler: it’s a big part of the book, but there is much more in the book to help in other parenting areas.) But the FOUR CARDINAL VIRTUES are so very important!!!

The Aristotle book tells me my job as a parent is to “instruct” my children in the ways of virtue [God] so that they can live happy lives without me.  In a nutshell, that’s what it comes down to. I don’t know many parents who don’t want their children to be happy, really happy.  So if we stand by the ancient wisdom of Aristotle (who was really proposing the wisdom of God, although he likely didn’t realize it at the time), we will give our children the tools they need to find happiness in this life and happiness in the next life because it will lead to God. 

To know, love and serve God in this life, and be happy with him in the next.

In a word: virtue leads to happiness. 

So what are these virtues that both Aristotle and our Church teach?  The main four that set the stage for all others are: [taken from the Wikipedia page]

  • Prudence - ability to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time
  • Justice - the perpetual and constant will of rendering to each one his right
  • Temperance or Restraint - practicing self-control, abstention, and moderation; tempering the appetite
  • Fortitude or Courage - forbearance, endurance, and ability to confront fear, uncertainty and intimidation

These are the Church’s Cardinal Virtues and came to us originally through Plato (Socrates---->Plato----->Aristotle------>St. Thomas Aquinas).

So, there you have it.  My revelation for the year.  I still have a lot of homework and instruction to do in this home!

As we further our religion studies at home and I further my parenting studies ….because I’m always up for reading ancient wisdom on proper parenting…it’s the classicism in me…….VIRTUE seems to be our key to happiness, peace, strength and all rightness on this earth. 

May God bless you with VIRTUE.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Einstein Syndrome, children that talk late

I’ve recently run across some information regarding a notion called: The Einstein Syndrome and it has me re-thinking my son’s autism diagnosis.  It’s not like it’s going to change much, if indeed, he is actually an Einstein Syndrome child and not autistic spectrum.   Either way, he has these distinct features that the book indicates:

  • Delayed speech development
  • Usually boys
  • Highly educated parents [okay, this one’s debatable]!!!
  • Musically gifted (families)
  • Puzzle solving abilities
  • Lagging social development

And it also says: the main thesis of the book is that late talkers are often inaccurately categorized as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and that a small subset of late talkers are actually highly intelligent children with characteristics concentrated in music and/or memory and/or math and/or the sciences……

My, my, my, that does sound like my son.

Well, I would imagine if it is so, it is still wise to have the ASD diagnosis as therapies would be covered for many areas of it.  I do recall the neurologist saying, any speech delay, no matter how it is caused needs addressed with therapy, and is usually followed by language expression delay/difficulties that will need addressed with therapy, and so forth. 

In the end, although I am VERY interesting in this book and have a copy ordered, I know the outcome will be the same, and it will not change the at-home therapy and facility therapy, or the academic method we use to further our son’s progress.

Still, it is all so interesting!!  And I am a sponge for anything and everything that helps me understand how to best help my special children so they can reach their best and highest potential in the area God wills for them.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Budget Beauty Round-up

Ok, if you’re like me, raising a family, home schooling, paying for college and budgeting money….you might like this.  This is my round-up for inexpensive skin care and make-up.  While I adore non-chemical pure items the most, (like Arbonne, my favorite indulgence), I save the higher priced items for seasonal special occasions and gift giving.  Just happens this list below has many items I’ve definitely used:

Link: The Best 10 Skin Care Products Under 10 Dollars

My favorite all time skin care staple is witch hazel.  Yes, you heard it here :)

I usually go for Dickinson’s brand, but any witch hazel will do.  I do not wash my face in the morning, I refresh it with witch hazel only, then use my moisturizer, or lately my tinted self-tanning Jergen’s facial moisturizer to put on a bit of a glow and Spf.

I usually use Clinique Mascara for my very sensitive eyes, but recently I rediscovered Bonne Bell Mascara at my local drug store,(Drugmart) and for $3.99 I thought I’d give it a whirl;  what a flashback to my 70s!…who didn’t use Bonne Bell back in the 70s…well, I sure did…Lipsmackers and 10-0-6 lotion. Anyway, this Bonne Bell Basic Black Mascara is a winner!  It did a beautiful job, and stayed put and no irritation…..I’m impresssed!!  It performed just as well as the mascara I use for a third of the price.

And lips….when Avon has their Beyond Color line of lip color on sale, which is usually a great break of $3.99, or 2 for 7.99, I scoop them up.  My staple color: Cocoa, and Twig has a more deep pink to the brownish hue.    I always also have to have the lip conditioner for morning and night lip help.  This is such a good line of lipstick – nice solid colors and good wearing.  No funny smell or taste. 

Another couple products I use from Avon regularly are the inexpensive Vita-Moist Face Cream,(now Moisture Replenish Cream, on sale for $3.99 right now) and Vita-Moist Hand Cream.  The hand cream for .99 a tube is so great!!…and Avon is wonderful for great sales and clearance items.  By the way, AVON is having a FREE SHIP for any size order with code: EASTERFREE

Lastly, when I use foundation, I have used this one for so many years now:  Covergirl Advanced Radiance (my color: Buff Beige; if I can’t find Buff Beige, then Creamy Natural is my next best bet).  It is so perfect for blending away imperfections without heaviness and keeping my drier skin comfortable but not ever greasy. and Walmart usually have the best prices. 

Well, that’s it for this BUDGET loving mom round-up.  Happy Shopping and Saving!!

The Promise of the Resurrection

April 1st, 2004…….rewind.  It’s never easy to be losing a loved one to a devastating disease, but having the Easter season and the hope and promise of the Resurrection helps to ease the bitterness of it all.
Such was the case of my father’s duration of suffering with Hospice care, this time in 2004.  It was obvious his health was declining; our family doctor thought maybe he had had a mild stroke, affecting the right hand and arm…but testing and further screenings shown otherwise:  ALS  advanced stages. Lou Gehrig’s disease as it is more widely known.
By April 24, after my mother made an emergency run to the E.R. with him, due to breathing difficulties, he was released with oxygen and Hospice care began a few days later.

I will never forget bringing my children to my parents, baby in tow as I was 6 months postpartum then, and feeling the heaviest heart in my chest I have ever felt, seeing my father lay on a hospital bed in their family room.  Reality moment.
Ed  Reynolds young
And so it went painfully along…..a month of it.  Our parish priest came and prayed with him, anointed him…brought him communion every day.  The nurses came and went.  The medications increased.  My mother became exhausted.  The day we visited last I knew he was nearing the end.  I left only because I had children to get home and in turn I sent my husband to stay with my mother all night because I knew she could not and should not be alone when this was going to happen.  And so it did.  My father passed away amid respiratory distress in the wee hours of the morning.  My siblings were called to come, I was called to come….It was May 24.  The longest Month my family has ever lived.
When this time of year approaches …..I remember all too clearly and vividly.  But as the years have passed, I remember now with much more sweetness and hope.  In the Easter season….all our loved ones, and that great body of saints that have gone before us must surely be cheering us on:  Fight the good fight! Finish the race! Keep the faith!
It is not in vain, as the resurrection awaits us and we will meet again.


I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith. ~2 Timothy 4:7