St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Saturday, June 29, 2013

In the trenches of homeschooling, prayer and priorities

There are times in my life where I can see God is allowing me opportunities to fall on my knees before him.  When things get very difficult, complex; there are many stress-filled moments throughout daily life, raising younger and older children both, planning out the daily routine, attempting to keep friendships afloat and stay somewhat connected with family and friends.  Add in the dimension of home education, and well…you have yet another life going on, one that includes added responsibilities, and anxiousness that is different, as you become the facilitator of formation, the educator of your children. 

If I have learned anything the last eighteen years of homeschooling through high school, it’s that you have to let go, and let God, many, many times a day.

While I do try within my limitations to stay connected to countless others, I have also learned that I have to let go, for the benefit of my children’s educations. There is only so much running around you can do.  So you must choose wisely and selectively.

I am grateful I have the most understanding family (and mother, and mother-in-law, R.I.P particularly), who supported our home schooling thoroughly, understanding that we couldn’t always be in the midst of extended family activities and didn’t pressure us or make us feel badly because our home schooling took priority.   This is where I knew in my heart and soul that my immediate responsibility lay in my own children and that time with them was fleeting.  The days spent elsewhere, and not in the home with actually “teaching” my children, would only produce deficiency. 

   Step in: the almighty word, NO.

    One year, many years ago, my husband told me to “go into the bathroom and look In the mirror and watch your lips say the word NO and practice that over and over……”   gotta love the directness :)

Also, years ago as I began my home schooling a wise older mom who had eight children of her own, all home educated, told me….”put your OWN family first…, your own children…live your life at home with and for them….not for anyone else no matter how tempting it may be…, you will not regret it, because time will slip away quickly, and home schooling takes the priority. You will regret the time you didn’t spend with them, schooling them.”

This also reminds me of a very memorable letter I received from Laura Berquist [1] many years ago, before email became the standard form of communication ~ where she explains her use of particular curriculum choices, (namely some Abeka resources), and the one thing that stood out in my mind so brightly was this, (and I quote from the letter):

    “It seems to me as a home schooling mother my first consideration has to be the quality of the materials themselves, and my first obligation is to provide the best materials possible for my children.” 

  her emphasis was on first obligation….and it’s to her children, as you well see…

Family and friends don’t always support us in our home schooling and that is a sad but real fact.  Next, if they do support us, in may likely be in a cursory manner…like “that’s wonderful you home school,”  they may not actually support us fully, respect our home schooling enough to let us remain at home, home schooling.  They will insist and probe and prod us to go with them here and there….do things that may be interfering with our actual time at home weekly or monthly.  This can cause such inconsistency in our children’s educations. This is where learning to say NO is helpful, but knowing you might make hard feelings, is an area where you have to believe thoroughly your first obligation are your own children, and then let go and let God..turning to him deeply in prayer for yourself, your children and those around you.

Home schooling is flexible, but this doesn’t mean expendable.  It means that while you are honoring your part of the deal with both the state regulations and your lifestyle commitment to home educating your children (and your state assumes you are truly doing that), you have some lovely choices and perks available to you with home education.  These are the dividends, and should be looked at as the joys or rewards of home schooling….the paycheck, but not the paycheck before the work is put in. 

I know I do not want to be the parent who’s son or daughter says to me later, why in the heck did you do that – home school us??  So, to remedy this from ever happening…..I really, really home school them, putting them first, teaching them as is grade level appropriate, interacting with them, helping to make home schooling engaging daily, to every last detail.  You’ve heard the quote: “God is in the details…”….this could not ring truer in regard to educating your own children.  Another quote I admire and think about is:

“Its the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden.

Every little step, every 5 mins with your child, forming them, using method, interaction, instruction….is the recipe to the bigger things.

Be sure to take inventory of your time and spend it well.  If those fifteen minutes talking on the phone to someone, or playing at the computer could have really be spent doing Johnny’s religion lesson, or grammar retelling, going over the concept in science…’s a valuable little increment of time that your child deserves, first.

Try hard not to get caught up in the secular world’s definition of parenting, the chronic permissiveness, the dating games; know that your family is standing apart as a Christian message to others.  Raising your children and educating them is first and foremost your duty.  Secular values will interfere with that mission; dating and encouraging young relationships that are exclusive will distract your teens terribly, to the point of their school work suffering.  First things first, if you would like success and see them graduate from their home school and do well in college.

And pray … a lot.  A novena that has really helped me in so many ways personally with difficulties, and my family in general is this very lovely one I will post at the end.

God bless you in your commitment and mission of raising and educating your own children.

Hail Holy Queen Memorare,Hail Mary – Annunciation Novena

Pray for three things, and watch the miracles happen

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gina French Music

Don't forget to LISTEN to and LIKE, become a FAN and SHARE my friend Gina French's music with the world around you!  ;)   She is such a wonderful song writer with nothing offensive, and her lyrics and beautiful voice express her message so well.  She is very enjoyable.

I have a playlist off to the right of my blog featuring several of her songs - head to Reverbnation through any of my embedded widgets and let's help get her into the TOP TEN. Become her FAN on Reverbnation. Lately, she's been holding anywhere from rank #26 to 30.   Spread the news!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Busy Monday …counting blessings

A summer Monday. Hot, humid, with the chance of afternoon thunderstorms.  Yep, that sounds like where I live :)

Today,  we’re off for appointments.  Important stuff indeed.  My OCD son meets again with his new therapist, who he will be seeing much more often, like every three weeks (rather than every couple months as in the past).  She has some different techniques and methods she is applying to our son in order to challenge him more (gently of course), but not that gently.  Hope that makes sense.  He has done some monumental things lately, and I hope that continues in the positive direction it seems to be heading.  It is always a challenge to deal with him daily, although we might come across as perfectly normal and calm!  It’s just not true – LOL.  Seriously, he is a joy, and so intelligent and lively, but ever so challenging due to this terrible distracting disorder.  I thank God for therapy and medication in his case as the benefits have been large, although slow at times…but giving much needed stability.

Also, both my youngest sons suffer from sensory issues also, that vary; this little chart below gives some details on that disorder:

172417_189354417753217_189021081119884_509865_2177503_o (1)

And so, in the midst of caring for the family, perusing new catechetical textbooks for the parish program and preparing for Vacation Bible School, I continue to train for my new job position, and it’s really going well. I talk with my trainer this Wednesday, after a lot of webnar work and tests, and database studies. Wednesday is my birthday, and what better way to spend part of it but in training for a job I’m very excited about and grateful to have been hired for!! I feel very blessed Angel  I so fully believe in this home school organization, I looked to them first for work as I felt I wanted to give back to them after all these years of support and success in our own home schooling with them.  I am grateful and in awe at how God has blessed us in this journey.  I want to help other families enjoy the same success and benefits in their home school endeavors.

And so, begins a busy day…..well, after another cup of coffee.  Coffee cup

God bless!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Claude Monet

Did I ever mention how much I adore Monet work?  I just love his paintings so much…

We are so surrounded by such ugliness and dysfunctional art anymore..things we pawn off as “art”;  but St. Thomas Aquinas definition of beauty is something altogether different.

In his Aesthetic Theory found in the Summa Theologica St. Thomas expounds on beauty quite eloquently, giving us criteria for which to judge beauty:  three properties: integrity, due proportion, and clarity

I enjoy that our oldest son, an Art major, had the opportunity to explore and study St. Thomas and the great Summa in his 12th grade studies through our Catholic home study program.  Prior to that, while he was still in formation as a budding artist,  I shared with him St. Thomas’s properties of beauty, and to this day, the beauty of his art shines through.  With closer inspection at his art pieces, one can see the three aesthetic properties in harmony.  I am grateful to have an artist in the family that wishes to share true beauty through his art.

In honor of beauty per St. Thomas Aquinas, I thought I’d post something lovely to contemplate on for today. 

MONETLadies in garden

"Women in the Garden"
Painted in 1866

Friday, June 21, 2013

Free-fall Friday

It has been quite a week already….longest week ever!

I’ve made some people angry, they’ve made me angry.  I’ve made some people have to call me out on some things, and I in turn have had to explain myself – all innocent, I might add.  It’s not like I’m plotting to take over the world :)  But, rather, just wasn’t being cautious about boundaries.  Now that I’ve had this brought to my attention – I’m vigilant.

Since I began training for my new job position, which is very involved  I might add, things have happened….lots of things.  Life just keeps flying at me full speed ahead, that’s for sure.


My successes: learning to keep my mouth shut.

My failures:  opening my mouth and suffering repercussions, then being humbled, then learning to keep my mouth shut.  AND having to apologize.  I have no problem with apologizing, in fact, I highly recommend it be done more often by more people.

My revelations:  I definitely do not 

My angst: people that criticize things they have no clue about it and are just guessing at. 

Negativity.  I’m really tired of it.  And snarky attitudes and remarks.  I very much appreciate the sweet Christian response – common sense, and respect that I WISH all adults had. 


My life has taken on a complete change lately. While some things stay stationery and remain the same, like our home schooling lifestyle, and faith formation and standards, other things around us are rapidly changing.

Sadly, our neighbors with 8 children are in the midst of a nasty divorce and custody battle.  My heart aches for all of them, and I find myself lying awake some nights just thinking of them.  My children miss their children that have been their street playmates for 8 years now.  It’s a tough transition.  A very rough change.  It affects the whole neighborhood.

And of course, with my job and training, the dynamics of our home will change further.  It will mean more effective scheduling and enforcing those schedules in the home daily and weekly.  It can be done.  My kids are pretty good at cooperating and they’re happy I have a job that will keep me home.

In the meantime, I pray.  I pray a lot.  And I pray for the good of so many beloved families that have touched my heart all these years.  It hurts to see families deteriorate and feel helpless.  So, I turn to God for those families. And I pray that if there is a way I can personally help, it come clears.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Milestones, new jobs and celebrations

Oh, the developmental stages children reach ~ there is much to be celebrated with such milestones and for good reason.  The child is proud, the parents are proud.  This is especially true if you have a delayed child or one with some kind of disorder that causes them to lag behind their peer mates.  First, it’s always good to find out what is going on, not just self-screen or diagnose the child on your own. I think we owe it to our children to seek professionals on such serious matters as development, after all they will have to deal with the consequences of our current decisions the remainder of their lives.  And next, it’s essential to work on those areas whether that means one-on-one at home base with consistency, or outside therapies once a diagnosis is made and recommendations come forth.

We have been a busy little family this last month in many areas: Graduations, finishing school, family birthdays, house repairs – lots of reorganizing, de-cluttering, painting, carpeting, and sorting the three enormous book shelves in this house!!…you name it, and lots of social occasions with family & friends – throw in a wedding, always a challenge to my special needs children, but something they enjoy until they meltdown!!  Now we continue with house re-doing, prepare for VBS for our parishes’ children, and mom with catechetical issues (new parish textbooks, scheduling for the year ahead),  and newsflash: mom got a job!!  that she is now training for!  Yes!  More on that later….


Front of college literary publication, my son’s art work; inside more artwork as he placed second in the art competition, and my daughter won with her poetry in this publication, and two of her photographs were published as well.

This last month has brought a few milestones through our children with disorders.  Those stars out on the horizon, those goals that we hoped to reach “some day”, …well, a couple came true and oh how they sparkle!  Yes, sometimes it takes months, and sometimes, years, many years, in the making.  If there is one thing I’ve learned by helping my children with these difficulties, it’s patience; patience, and not to assume anything!  That what seemed impossible at one time, will likely be surmountable given time and patience.   Take heart in that if you are the parent of a struggling young child.

And so, while a very ordinary day to another may seem just that: ordinary - to we, the parents of challenged children, it can be extraordinary.  Things that parents take for granted in their children, become those bright shining stars of success in the anxiety ridden child, or child on the autism spectrum. 

This week I pray with gratefulness and in awe at how amazing God has worked in our lives just even this last month, particularly my own life. The few milestones that have become precious jewels to us now; and my being hired into an educational organization as a consultant to help guide and mentor other home educating families, all while working at home, is an enormous blessing to myself and own family.  I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I accept it graciously and enthusiastically as a gift from God.

Make it a great Tuesday!!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Sharing a special student & friend's talents...Gina French

Not to brag....but rather promote :) I love this girl!..we went to the same Catholic grade school and later Catholic high school growing up in SLC Utah, and she was several years behind me. I offered guitar lessons one summer, because so many younger classmates around the area were asking, and Gina became one of them. She was only 10 years old, and she walked to my house every Saturday to learn. She was terrific, and although I don't remember how long we were at it, a year plus or two..??...I did get her started and those seeds grew full grown! I still hear so many fundamental techniques in her playing that I taught, as well as in her voice. She has gone on to make music her career, and continued to develop her talents over the years, with hard work and passion. She now lives in Seattle WA, and plays at many of the local establishments. I'm so pleased she has made a name for herself and has a following -- please take time to listen to her and become a fan on ReverbNation, and LIKE and share!! I just wanted to take a moment to share her here! Enjoy!!  Also scroll down my blog to the right and you'll find a widget that play several of her authentic pieces.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

And so it comes to an end…’til next year…

Today we had a lovely outing at a park with our home school co-op group.  Primarily, it was distribute the class roster lists/money to the “coaches” of next years classes; and it’s a great way to get the kids together to visit and for we moms to chat a bit.

Next year I’ll be doing music again with the K-3 bunch, and Lego Learning Club with the 4-6th.  There may be a more informal morning Lego club with any 7th and up that have to be there earlier and wait it out because of younger siblings classes.  Overall, it’s looking nice, with my 14 yr old taking Technical Drawing and Algebra Word problems (exciting, eh? LOL, well, he thinks so!)  And our youngest doing the Lego club and geography, crafts. 

Meanwhile, with our Modg program, my oldest will be doing an LS class on line, Fine Arts HS.  LS = Learning Support, on line class through Adobe connect. This is where the student enters a virtual classroom with others and has a teacher; using a headset for ears and microphone for speaking.  This is a course that is half music appreciation of the great composers and half art appreciation with the great masters.  This will give him his high school fine arts credit.  His brother and sister before him did art and music, so they had lessons they went through that we documented independently; but as each child is different, we need to take a different route with this one.  He is more about science and math rather than fine arts.  I think this will be very suitable for him.


So, we are nearing the end of our school year.  I speak with our educational consultant tonight and by Friday, we will be finished.  Michael is finishing up the last bit of Algebra, and then the test and assessment follow.  Then he is a free bird!

It’s been a very productive year!  Michael did an enormous amount of challenging work and is definitely ready for the rigors of high school.  Mark is ready to move on to fourth grade.  He aced his CAT test in math – and got above average in all language categories.  Not too bad for an autism spectrum child!  I’m awaiting Michael’s CAT results as well.

In the meantime, I’m in clearing, cleaning, re-organizing mode!  I’m posting an old shot of a shelf below…..and a little more tidied up one!


Young girl explain Autism

This is a wonderful BBC video explaining Autism and Asperger’s syndrome by a young girl affected by them. 

Rosie Explains Autism