St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Temple Grandin on Autism Diagnosis and "Labels"

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Preparing for Advent


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

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


November 29, 2013  /  Kelly Wahlquist




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

Here’s a little taste of his post:

2) What is an apostolic exhortation?

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

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

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

Previous apostolic exhortations include:

Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi (on evangelization today)

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

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

    Benedict XVI’s Sacramentum Caritatis (on the Eucharist)

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

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

Dec. 1     2-8 (Joy)

Dec. 2    9-13 (Joy of Evangelizing)

Dec. 3    14-18 (Scope of exhortation)

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

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

Dec. 6    34-39 (Heart of the Gospel)

Dec. 7    40-45 (Human Limits)

Dec. 8    46-49 (Mary)

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

Dec. 10   59-75 (Cultural Challenges)

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

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

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

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

Dec. 15    135-144 (The Homily)

Dec. 16    145-159 (Preparing to Preach)

Dec. 17    160-175 (Kerygma)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dec. 24    284-288 (Mary)

VISIT http://kellywahlquist for these meditations

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lego Learning Club for home school

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

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

Scholastic’s Using Lego to Build Math Concepts

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Doctor Who revisited…the big celebration…

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

A picture is worth a thousand words:







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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Eating right does make a difference…

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 08, 2013

Curriculum using Papal Encyclicals or …

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

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

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

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

Original book left,  and Revised copy

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

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

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

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


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

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

Monday, November 04, 2013

November Days

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 01, 2013

All Saints 1512

This from Writer’s Almanac today:

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

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

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



All Saints

by Barbara Crooker

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

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