Thursday, December 31, 2009

Advent Banner

If I was going to put the effort into making an Advent Calendar, I wanted it to really do the job. A friend had wanted to make an advent wreath and bought all the felt, but didn't have time to do it. So I inherited the materials (THANK YOU!) and set to work -er- set to thinking about it.

I've never liked the numbers on top of the scene of a Advent calendar, but I love the idea. So I thought I'd make a calendar where we insert a leaf for each day we count down. I cut TONS of leaves. I made a leaf template that was 3"x2" and cut and cut and cut (that took a whole year).

The next year, I cut the candles for the wreath and sewed on leaves and candles. I used pins to put the leaves and candles where I wanted on the purple felt and shoved it through the sewing machine. I'm not very good with the sewing machine and some of the leaves didn't lay flat. I decided that it made it look cool that way rather than messy (and I wasn't about to tear it all out.) Then I put it away 'till the next year.

In 2009, I decided I wanted to celebrate special saint days in Advent...it turns out there are lots of saint days in Advent. So I plugged saints into their dates and then plugged personal saints for our family (the names of our kids, our favorites, etc.)

I found clipart online and added a textbox that stated the saint name and date Dec 6, etc. I used Iron On Printer Paper and then ironed the
picture onto a white fabric. I cut out
pictures and text boxes (which were
now backwards -- I didn't want to wait another year to figure out the new version of Publisher how to make the words backwards so they ironed-on forwards). I glued the text to the back of the leaf and the picture to the front of the leaf. I used adhesive backed velcro dots to affix the leaves to the banner.

Using silver and gold fabric paint we wrote the themes for the weeks of Advent on each candle. (The silver didn't look good on the lilac.)

I was THRILLED to find a tight tule in pink, orange and yellow to make the flames. I folded them until I was happy that it looked flame-like and sewed it into that shape at the bottom. Then I used the velocro dots.

Dave bought me a banner hanger (the black wrought-iron picture below) for $15 at Lowe's. I was thrilled with the price.

I sewed a casing in the top of the purple fabric so it would hang where I wanted on the fireplace.

  • felt in purple (backing)
  • felt in lavendar (3 candles)
  • felt in pink (1 candle - Gaudette Sunday)
  • Felt in green (leaves)
  • green thread
  • purple thread
  • fabric for the flames
  • adhesive backed velcro dots
  • Iron On Printer Paper
  • elmers glue

I meant to do an iron-on of the O Antiphons, but I didn't get that far this year. I did print off a booklet I made with each O Antiphon and reflections -- maybe next year I'll add them to the banner...

2009 Christmas Homeschool Band Concert

Soft on my toes

Grandma's blanket felt so soft on his toes, he couldn't help but dance!

A riddle by St. Augustine of Hippo

"The maker of man, he was made man, so that the director of the stars might be a babe at the breast;

that bread might be hungry,

and the fountain thirsty;

that the light might sleep,

and the way be weary from a journey;

that the truth might be accused by false witnesses,

and the judge of the living and the dead be judged by a mortal judge;

that justice might be convicted by the unjust,

and discipline be scourged with whips;

that the cluster of grapes might be crowned with thorns,

and the foundation be hung up on a tree;

that strength might grow weak,

eternal health be wounded,

life die.

It was in order to endure these and similar indignities for our sake;

in order to set free those who had forfeited all dignity;

though he deserved no evil but endured such terrible evils on our behalf,

and we deserved no good, but received such splendid goods through him;

so it was for these reasons that the one who was before all ages the Son of God, without beginning of days, was prepared in these last days to become a son of man;

and that the one who was born of the Father, not made by the Father,

was made in the Mother whom he had made;

so that he might exist here for a time, being born of her who could never and nowhere have existed except through him."

~St. Augustine of Hippo (+430)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Band Concert 2009

To hear a snippet Click on this
My saxaphone is my accessory!

A beautiful girl making beautiful music.

I LOOOOVVEE my saxaphone.
I'm liking my trumpet more, but it's still pretty hard.

I'm not in the band -- but I have a recorder!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Confession

We didn't decorate the tree this year. We have a pre-lit tree and just didn't bother to put up the ornaments. It's in a darker room (family room) so we just leave the lights on all the time and you can't really tell.

We didn't put up any other Christmas decorations. Just a lit, bare tree. Actually, the kids put it up while I was gone one day, so that means I didn't personally put up ANY Christmas decorations.

The big one:

We didn't even get the nativity scene out. It almost seems like a sin and weighs on me...but now that today is the first day I've got time to do something like that, it almost seems anti-climatic to do it after Christmas (although the Christmas season lasts for another 2-3 weeks.) I keep looking at the clean, bare mantle and feeling - bad. I just don't honestly think too little too late would help at this point. My kids all said they had a great Christmas...I still feel bad. False guilt? Reasonable guilt? I don't know...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Friends For Life Pro-Life Camp 2009

How confident are you when engaged in a discussion on abortion?

Have you heard the scientific and philosophical evidence for the humanity and personhood of the unborn?

Next June, Scott Klusendorf—nationally renown speaker/author/bio-ethicist and President of Life Training Institute—will once again train students in winning the debate for life.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from the best, to meet other pro-life high school and college students, and to enjoy a retreat of FUN!

Click here to view the Pro-Life Boot Camp brochure.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy 2yrs old

"Happy Day to me" is how he sings the song....

Happy B-day

I left the camera at Ds#5's Godmother's house for a month, so this is a little cold off the press...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us

God, the Father, painting his portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Juan Diego showing the gift Our Lady gave him

Our Lady of the Americas protecting children from Satan

Monday, December 07, 2009

ROCKIN' Cool Nuns!

I just came back from the annual Mom's retreat in Ann Arbor with Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and it was FABULOUS! Those are some seriously FUN nuns! You just don't expect the joy to exude from a group of nuns like that.

10 moms made the trek from Fort Wayne up to Ann Arbor. We had a van full of conversation up and back. It amazes me how much you can be social or completely set apart at this retreat -- your preference.

They invited us into their home to have Sunday morning Mass at their Motherhouse! The church was SOOO BEAUTIFUL (just like these rockin' cool nuns!) Sr. Joseph Andrew is such a unique and dynamic woman and the priest who gave the reflection Saturday and homily Sunday was GREAT with the moms! The Holy Spirit was DEFINATELY apart of this retreat and this community of WONDERFUL sisters. (And I LOVE their full habits!)

I'm still processing... Spending that much time in Adoration really opens you up to receive what God wants to tell a girl.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Quote of the Day

Dd#1 (holding her note cards she just wrote out for her research paper)
Some of the stuff in here is juicy. On a scale of 1-to-10, it's RAW.
Her report is about martyrs. Should I be worried? hmmm...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Quote of the day

What are the 5 steps to the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

  1. Greet the Priest and say how long it's been. But I'll say it's my first time.
  2. Confess your sins
  3. Say the Act of Contrition
  4. The Priest abandons me.
  5. Say or do my penance.


The priest doesn't abandon you, he absolves you.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Thank you to our servicemen and women!


If you go to this web site, www.LetsSayThanks.com you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq.

You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services. How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! It is FREE and it only takes a second. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our soldiers over there need to know we are behind them. This takes just 10 seconds and it's a wonderful way to say thank you. Please take the time and please take the time to pass it on for others to do. We can never say enough thank you's. Thanks for taking to time to support our military!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Questions about homeschooling

1. How did you learn about homeschooling? During an education class I was taking at college to become an elementary education teacher, a professor mentioned it in a derogatory way. I was intrigued by the possibility that something like that wasn't illegal. So I did some research and interviewed several homeschoolers and just let the idea percolate in the back of my brain for the next 10 years.

2. Do you currently homeschool? If yes, how many children and how long have you homeschooled? Yes, 8 years

3. Do you feel homeschooling should be more closely regulated in the state of Indiana? NO!

4. Do you feel a homeschooling parent should have a 2 or 4 year degree or maybe even a teaching degree to homeschool? NO!

5. Have you completed college? If yes, how many years and what degree do you have? I have not finished. I was a senior when I got pregnant for my 3rd child and chose to put my family's needs ahead of my own ambitions.

6. What are some of the pros and cons to homeschooling in your opinion?

Con :
  • It's hard work.
  • It takes commitment.

Pro (I got some of these from A Catholic Homeschool Treasury ):

· Allows us to centers our lives on the needs of the family rather than on the requirements of the bureaucracy of school.
· Holds the children to a higher standard of academic expectation than the schools are willing/able to provide
· Protects our children's innocence.
· Allows us to pass on our faith and family culture
· Fosters emotional security
· More easily enables us to train our children to think "out of the box" and reach the potential God gives them, not ones other people may impose on them.
· Enables us to hold our children close while they are young and then let them fly.
· Gives the kids the individualized instruction to learn using their strengths while shoring up their weaknesses.
· Provides good role models.
· Promotes a unified family unit that each individual can rely on.
· Provides some protection from pressure to try drugs or engage in sexual activity before marriage
· Protects them from the ravages of materialism and an ego-centered attitude to life.
· Encourages creativity
· Fosters a hunger for a living relationship with Christ
· Ignites a tremendous life-long passion for learning.
· We can accomplish more in less time
· Guards our children's hearts until they are old and wise enough to guard it for themselves.

7. Would you say on average you spend more, less or about the same as you would on a public school education for your children? We spend about $1,000 per year to teach 4 children. This is substantially lower than the current $7,000 per child it presently costs to educate a child in public schools and less than any private school.

8. Are your children involved in extracurricular activities? If so, like what? Yes - For the 2009-2010 school year:
· Science Club
· Band (one is learning saxophone, one clarinet and one trumpet)
· Volunteering for Allen County Right to Life
· Drama club
· Singing in a choir
· Wildcat baseball
· Pro-life boot camp - Friends For Life Camp
· Critical Thinking club
· Fine Arts club
· Composing music and lyrics to her own music
· Gym class
· Writing club focusing on Shakespeare
· Religious education classes through church
· Folk dancing class

9. Do you belong to any groups or organizations that promote homeschooling? Yes

10. Do you participate in the FWAHS yearly Stanford Testing? Yes, some years.

11. If your children participate and you are willing to answer, do your children test below average, normal for their age, or above average? Above average

12. How long do you anticipate homeschooling your children? Through highschool graduation

13. Do you know anyone you personally feel should not be homeschooling? Yes If you said yes, who do you feel should be checking on them? No one - this family would struggle no matter where their kids attended school. Do you feel anyone should? No

14. Why would you say some children excel at homeschooling? Individualized instruction tailored to that child and the emotional security that accompanies homeschooling. Homeschooling also can provide a very fertile learning environment. Also the virtues focus that many homeschoolers have encourages self-discipline that allows children to succeed. And those that do not, why do you think they do not? The children may not have done well in any setting -- education does not FIX all that ails every child. Burn-out is a factor (as with any activity worthy of dedicating your life to) and balance is essential for homeschooling parents.

15. In your own words, what is homeschooling? The best educational opportunity a child can have.

16. Why do you homeschool your child(ren) rather than send him/her to a public or private school? It's in the best interest of the child to be homeschooled and I don't want to give my children less than the best that I can provide.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

We let the kids get their own e-mail addresses

Dave set it up so every e-mail they get in their inbox, I get a copy. I'm getting alot of sister-to-sister mail. I sent Dave a copy of an example of what our 7 year old is receiving (he sent it to himself, apparently unhappy with the amount of e-mail he's not receiving):

From: DS#2
Sent: Wednesday, November 18, 2009 10:12 AM
To: DS#2
Subject: Hello me

Dear me,
hello me I just adore you.

Love your best friend

Dave's comment
Well, it IS important that our children
have a good opinion of themselves.

DS#2 - "check"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blood Money Trailer

This may not be for your children to watch. This looks like a FABULOUS film.

I wonder when it comes out??

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Daviid, our hairstylist

Daviid decided to try out a new/old product -- Flowbee. It cuts your hair using a vacuum cleaner.

It was a gift from a friend and it WORKED! Drew wasn't thrilled with it, though.

Happy 2nd Birthday from Aunt Sue

We got another box in the mail -- but this time it was for a very appreciative 2 year old.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pooh Hat Set

I wanted to make him pooh for halloween, but figured I'd put my efforts into something he could use all winter long. The scarf is supposed to have bees flying around, but the pictures are funky (the actual bees are a little weird looking, too.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Frog Hat Set

Last year, I discovered crochet animal hats.
I made a friend's little girl and boy a lady bug hat & puppy hat. I made my little boy a frog. Dave thought he looked rediculous, but that didn't deter me from dressing him in his frog hat set all winter long.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Chicken pox vaccine wearing off during teen years

My pediatrician informed me yesterday that the chicken pox vaccine has to be readministered after 10 years because it's protection is wearing off. I gave my 2 girls the vaccine at 3 and 1 years old, even though I didn't want to, under pressure from my pediatrician 10 years ago. At the time he promised me the tests in Japan were showing decades of protection with no ill effects. I really didn't have peace about it. A year later I found out about the fact that some vaccines (including the chicken pox vaccine) was derived from aborted fetal cells and there is some minute amount of aborted fetal DNA in every shot. (Go to the website Children of God for Life and click on the left hand PROVE IT! button for more information)

For the next 2 babies, I had a chicken pox party to let them get the disease in childhood before it was very dangerous. Now, I found out that the girls will need another dose. I'm completely torn.

For teens to get chickenpox is more dangerous. Girls having facial scarring also seems a terrible shame (as little kids their skin heals more completely). There's no way to tell when the vaccination would wear off. If I don't get them reinnoculated, they may not be succesptible until they're pregnant -- super dangerous.

We are FIRMLY committed to not injecting our children with aborted fetal tissue - no matter how small an amount. I feel like I didn't have peace about the original decision FOR GOOD REASON -- but I'm here, now...Please, God, give us wisdom.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Quote of the Day

Ds#4 to Ds#3

When we climb around up in the tubes at Burger King they can be Jefferies Tubes

and the platform can be Engineering

and the circle with the window can be The Bridge

and the name of our starship can be Voyager.

(a few days ago)
Ds#4 & Ds#3 to Mama

The wooden trophy shelf keeps falling off our walls. Can we just use it
with our Lego people as a Holodeck?

Do you think they've been watching too much StarTrek lately?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Rosary Truths & Painful Motherhood (long)

My truth about the rosary is somewhat emotionally void. I really struggle with this prayer.

For years (about the last 8) I've struggled with the reality of who Mary was to me. I've spoken of this to so many of my friends, it seems odd that I haven't written of it in the 3 years of my blog.

My first reality of motherhood is my mom. My personal experience of motherhood has not left me with warm-fuzzy feelings. My relationship with my mom has been hard. There's things it's not polite to write. The openness I desire to share with the world is tempered by the love I desire to show my mom. Even the word mother is struggle for me to define for myself, let alone explain or write down. If you've had a relationship like that, you understand. Our ongoing reconciliation (because there's always more hurt - past and present to get over) is an act of obedience from me to God. Loving my mom is an act of will on my part -- only because it's what God asks of me that keeps me in the relationship. It is God's choice to have my mom in my life, not mine. It's an ongoing, difficult relationship.

My mom has feelings of love for me -- but my mom is not a selfless person. She makes an attempt to show me love, but somehow it rarely hits the mark. And often, there is shrapnel embedded in her arrows of love. In years past I've tried to protect myself, but it's pretty hard to show love to someone while you're hiding behind fortress walls to protect yourself. So, now, I try to minimize the casualties in my heart and rely on Jesus to protect and heal me -- so I can allow her access to my life -- how else do you show love to someone? It's hard.

On the positive side of motherhood was my Grandma Handlin. My grandmother loved me, and I felt loved by her. That one sentence and the word love does little to encompass the depth and breadth of what that relationship was and is to me. A source of strength and a longing to be more than I am because of all she was to me.

So, my understanding of motherhood has been colored by years of pain and struggle. Because of my grandma, I do know what the outline of what true motherhood is supposed to be, but the nuances of what that looks like in real life elude me. I've had to make it up as I go with very little direction of how to get where I want to be.

I've got a disconnection in my mind -- I'm trying to become the kind of mother that the emotional half of my brain screams doesn't exist -- Mothers are dangerous and they can hurt you -- but I have to find a way to become this person -- so my daughters don't have a mother that hurts them.

Now, in my life is Mary. You know, the Mother of God - that Mary. Lots of people have a relationship with Jesus. There are people, lots of people, who can help you with that. Having a relationship with someone who isn't bodily in this world has some challenges, but you can get there -- there are some helps along the way.

Mary is a different story.

At least half of my friends would be a little suspect about attempting a relationship with a dead person, even a saint, who doesn't happen to be God. A divine being (like Jesus) can overcome shortcomings in a non-bodily relationship -- regular dead people, even holy ones, still aren't God. Even my closest, most intimate friends would have pastors who say I'm off the mark in desiring a relationship with Mary. But my closest, most intimate protestant friends are of the most loving variety -- and they love me in spite of my Catholic quirks if not because of them - although they can't give much direction on how to have a relationship with Mary.

I don't get much help from my Catholic friends, either. Either they're on a different spiritual plane than I am, or I'm too emotionally unstable for them, or they can't relate because they had great moms, or they're just too darn busy having babies to help me psychoanalyze my relationship with a dead, albeit holy, non-Deity. Or maybe I've been too hung up to ask.

Another issue is that Mary is mom. We're talking -- Ultimate Motherhood kind of thing. As related above, I have some motherhood issues. My motherhood issues tend to slow down a relationship with Ultimate Motherhood. Remember the emotional screaming half of my brain? And that's the side that's kept me safe for many years -- that's the side that I listen to. It's that still small voice inside when it's not screaming at me. (Please disregard all inferences to multiple personalities. Honestly, I walk around this neurotic all the time -- say a prayer for poor Dave who has to live with me).

So, I'm left with

  1. my ever-struggling relationship with my mom
  2. my depth of love for my grandma
  3. the many people inside my head
  4. my daughters who need a mother
  5. a dead, albeit holy, non-Deity who represents Ultimate Motherhood
  6. my desire to be more than I am

So, I've been praying to Mary for the last decade. Not nice, sweet prayers - more like chip on my shoulder -- so I'm left with YOU, who I don't want and don't trust and it's not like you're here anyway, but I'm desperate so where's the help already -- kind of prayers. She has answered me time and again with nurturing women who come into my life and love me -- protestant friends, Catholic friends, loving strangers -- women who surround me and hold me up when I'm about to fall with the weight of the world on my shoulders. This is the love Mary has given me.

NOW - we're in the present (believe it or not ALL THAT was background and baggage). Mary loves me and helps me. She's still not bodily present to do my dishes, but I have no doubt of her existence in my life. I'm still learning how to be a loving daughter, but I'm better than I was a decade ago, mostly because of Mary's help. Sometimes I'll start a prayer to Jesus and I don't have peace -- I know I need a mother (I still have a hard time saying 'my mother' about her).

The rosary is the prayer to Mary. It's boring. I'm sure all my issues factors in. I've read books, histories, meditations on the rosary -- it's still boring. I don't pray it often and it goes in spurts. Most of my Catholic friends are WAAAAYYYY more faithful than I am. There's so much stuff I don't get "Why would Mary want a boring prayer?" stuff like that. yada yada eternal realities are different than earthly circumstances. yada yada the Catholic Church has 2000 years of truth...I know. It's still boring. When I'm desperate or lonely or sad or worried about someone -- I'll say my rosary - I say part of a rosary about once a week and get interupted and don't go back to it.

I don't have a good end to this. I'm still working it all out...with help.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mom's Retreat

Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist hosts a short but highly effective Mom's Retreat the first weekend in Advent. This year it's Saturday fternoon December 5 'till Sunday afternoon December 6th up in Ann Arbor, MI. The cost is $25.

THESE ARE SOME EXCEPTIONAL NUNS!! My girls call them "Mama's Nuns" because they hold such a special place in my heart. They're the kind of nuns that appeal to a party girl like me. They come from all walks of life and have so many girls/women asking to join their order, they can't build fast enough to keep them all in beds and the girls keep coming!! They wear a traditional habit (to the floor) and a rosary from their waist to their feet. Hearing them sing the Psalms at vespers is honestly a piece of heaven here on earth. Their focus is Christ in the Eucharist (see their name, above) and they play volleyball and teach as many people about Jesus as they can. Their passion and joy just pours out of them. SERIOUSLY KEWL NUNS, here!

My spot is reserved to go, who wants to carpool?

Reserve your spot online or e-mail or by phone.

Here's a flyer about it.

I'm sooo excited to go, again this year. Due to illness, pregnancy, nursing, etc., I haven't gone in a few years -- but GOD WILLING I can go this year!! Ohhhhhh....I can hardly wait!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Year With Shakespeare

Wow, this is more fun than I realized. I was just really intimidated, but after looking into it, I'm getting excited.

A friend of mine was hosting a homeschool highschool year long Shakespeare class and I put Dd#1 in it. After a month, I decided that it was too much time away from home and too hard to find a place for the younger kids while she was in it.

When I took her out, Dd#1 really wanted to continue to study Shakespeare, so I told her that we could get some homeschool kids who are close by and hold our own class. *Then I actually had to do it.*

Jenn's A Year With Shakespeare : Lesson Plans
Materials :
  • Folger's Shakespeare Library of each work you want to cover. These run ~ $6 each. I chose 6 plays & we'll cover 16 sonnets. (I'd normally choose 8 plays, but I figure the sonnets make up for the other 2 plays.) If you want to take vocabulary or analysis, this series is the best student series I've found. I'm really pleased with it and so is Dd#1.
  • Hewitt Lightning Literature Comedies & Sonnets also Hewitt Lightning Literature Tragedies & Sonnets $25 each This is normally a self-teaching 2 semester highschool course. I'm going deeper than that course goes, but it's a good jumping off point. A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night -&- Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth
  • Brightest Heaven of Invention: A Christian Guide To Six Shakespeare Plays by Peter J. Leithart ~$15 This is an excellent aid to reading Shakespeare from a Christian perspective. All the speculation about Shakespeare being anything but Christian is hooey and it's trying to remake the bard in the image of somebody he wasn't. This work could be all you need to make up a class for your kids' highschool course. The guy who wrote it ran a homeschool co-op class on the topic and then wrote the book off his lessons. GREAT stuff! Henry V, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing

Catholic Components :

  • Dr. Henry Russell has a CD set that I bought through Kolbe called "The Catholic Shakespeare" It's interesting enough for your highschooler to listen to. The last fourth of the CD is the Catholic part, the rest is just literary, moral & biblical in nature. Good stuff. The CD's run $15-$20 but Kolbe added about $5 shipping when I bought 1. I've only listened to MacBeth, but Hamlet and The Tempest would be interesting listening, too. This CD gave me the vision and framework in how I wanted to tackle Shakespeare.
  • Encyclical - Immortale Dei : On the Christian Constitution of States His Holiness Pope Leo XIII It's free at the Catholic encyclopedia site New Advent. It was tough to get through, as are most encyclicals (have a Catholic dictionary and maybe a regular dictionary handy) but once we got in the swing of it, good reading. I'm glad I didn't ask her to cover it without me. It's a good one to read with one of the king stories of Shakespeare (Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Ceasar, Hamlet)

After Listening to Dr. Henry Russell, I've decided how I'm going to teach Shakespeare. Much the same way we learn the bible. I'm incorporating Lightening Literature for Part I. It includes writing prompts that will be great with this class.

I. Literal Sense - what happened in the play.
II. Moral Sense - is what is happening good or bad (for the characters, for the larger themes as well as the subplots).
III. Biblical / Typological Sense - how is this character or circumstance like someone or event from the bible. Also biblical themes like Resurrection / Redemption, etc.
IV. Eschatological Sense - how does Christ factor in (or not) into the play and how does that fit with what we know to be the "big themes" of the bible (The Church, last days, heaven, hell), etc.

Within that framework, we'll fit in
  • symbolism and all the literary devices that Lightning Literature has for this highschool course
  • Information on Shakespeare's time period (some listed in Light. Lit., some listed in the Folger's books)
  • Themes to each of the books

We'll meet twice a month. I thought we could cover 1 play per month and one pair of sonnets in a two week period. I'm also assigning 2 papers per play and one paper per sonnet pair.

The kids will come with play read and the Comprehension Questions anwered (from Light. Lit.). We'll spend about 15 minutes going over the comprehension questions and iron out any questions the kids have about what was going on in the play. Then we can move onto the good stuff : themes, symbolism, moral, biblical and escatology of the plays. We'll spend at least 2 hours discussing that. I'll let them choose a writing assignment (many listed in Light. Lit. and in the back of those lessons, more listed in Leithart's book.)

The next session we'll finish up (or continue depending on interest of the kids) discussion and if we have time well watch a recommended DVD. (Peter J. Leithart has very specific reviews and recommendations in his book listed above.) One of the papers per month can be an analysis of the DVD or play we've seen. They'll choose a 2nd writing assignment for that play.

In the third session, they'll turn in their previous assignment and we'll cover a set of sonnets with them choosing a writing assignment. Then, we'll do it all over again with the next play.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Desperate message

You know it's been a bad day when you have to send a desperate e-mail to your husband like the following. This was from Tuesday:

I think I have a fever.
Ds#3 burned his arm trying to get brownies out of the oven, please bring home more aloe vera.
Ds#4 says he's too sick to go to CCD tonight, but I caught him kicking a ball around.
Dd#2 set a plastic disposable cup on fire in the microwave trying to melt chocolate. She didn't have permission to be cooking. It's all black inside and she's scrubbing.
Meanwhile...(The two year old) locked himself in the bathroom and by the time I got him out, he was running the water in the sink full blast over the DVD remote.

Please don't work late.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Christmas List Ideas

The kids have already made their Christmas Lists. In case you're looking for ideas for your 7-13 year old boys / girls, here may be a "few".

13 G –
Borders Gift Certificate (or any bookstore or Hobby Lobby...)
Art set with chalk
Movies :
Historical Paper Dolls
Pretty Sleeper

11 G –
electric scooter
Lipsmackers (10 pack variety) Pop flavored or sour
Picnic dishes w/ basket
Emily Windsnap and the Monster in the Deep
Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist
Pretty sleeper (satin long sleeve & long pants)
Ella Enchanted
Hair accessories - brush, mirror, barrettes, head band (no pony tail holders)
Gift Certificate to Mall or Target

9 b -
rescue hero
Ice cream maker
Remote Control Car or Hellicopter
Star Wars episode 4
Checkers set

7 b –
Walkie talkie watch
Sprinkler or pool
rescue hero
Sleeper short set
Star wars sleepers
Star Wars Episode 2
Indoor exercise equipment for winter- chin-up bar, dollarstore jumpropes, hulahoop
Wii Remote
Wii Charger
The Littles’ books

2 b –
24months clothes
Play food
Pooh stuff : clothes/ sleeper / slippers / towel / figurines / dishes / toothbrush / toys / anything

boys together :
An Indian teepee you can really climb in
Ping pong ball shooter
Sword & Shield (an example is on Vision Forum)
Pop gun
Water Guns
Astronaut suit
Lone Ranger Movies
Civil War Dress-up Clothes, the blue guys
Cowboy Dress-up Clothes, we've already got Indian dress-up clothes
Superman sleeper & slippers
Superman Dress-up suit
Superman lunch box
Superman toothbrush
Giant Floor Puzzles
Peter can do 50 pc puzzles
Drew can do 100 pc puzzles
· Movies :
o The Aristocats
o The Great Mouse Detective
o Indiana Jones I (
Play bowling set
Modeling Sand for Indoor Sandbox
Basket ball & hoop
Toy boats for bathtub
Planet Frog Habitat
Warm fuzzy slippers
LEGO People - Community Workers Set (amazon.com)
Ultimate LEGO House Building Set (amazon.com)
Anything LEGO CITY kits: ambulance, hospital, airplane, airport, fire truck, fire department
LEGO Star Wars sets
Remote Control airplane (I have no idea how much these are)
Animals (ant farm, frog hatchery kit...)
Hand-Held Mixer (for shakes)
Snowball & snowbrick maker or 2 sleds (they all play outside together) w/ hot chocolate packets
Sturdy outdoor play equipment including
o Big climbing rope for swing set or tree
o Rope Ladder
o 2 Swings for the swingset
o Tire swing swivel
o Fireman’s pole
o pulleys for the tree
o zip line
* Tree house equipment

Family Gifts
· A Family Movie w/ micro popcorn, pop, etc.
o Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
o Bridge to Terebithia
o Superman 1 w/ Christopher Reves
o Wizard of Oz
o Spy Kids 2
o Music Man
o 12 Dancing Princess - honest, they ALL love this one...
o Peter Pan
o 101 Dalmatians – Disney cartoon original
o The Jungle Book – Disney cartoon
o The Librarian I

· Playmobil Knights Set(s)
· Playmobil Romans Set(s)
· Movies :
o Cars (K, E & P)
* Marshmallow Guns
* Tent with floor
* Christian Pop CD for their Karaoke Machine
* Snow Cone Maker
* Black Felt pictures to color
* Walkie Talkie Set

Email laughs

From the diary of a Pre-School Teacher

My five-year old students are learning to read. Yesterday one of them pointed at a picture in a zoo book and said,
"Look at this! It's a frickin' elephant!"

I took a deep breath, then asked....
"What did you call it?"

"It's a frickin' elephant!
It says so on the picture!"

And so it does...

" A f r i c a n Elephant "

Monday, October 19, 2009

ACRL Banquet - Emma MacDonald

Having been helping with the banquet committee AND having Em sing AND having so much of my story in her song -- it was a really taxing evening for me. I was really happy how pretty the banquet turned out, though.

As soon as the banquet was over all my family got well and I caught it -- BUT I WAS SOOO THANK FUL that God kept me well until after the banquet!!

I am really proud of Emma and it was very cool seeing her melodramatic-larger-than-life personality that blows out the walls of our school, fit in lovely on stage in front of 700 people. It is so validating seeing the child I've prayed over more than any other and worried about and fought with and .... shine in her own right and see God's plan unfolding for her.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"You Are There" - Emma MacDonald

Dave and I are so proud of what God has done in our Dd#2, Emma. The Banquet For Life turned out so pretty and Em did sooo well. All 5 kids had been sick and Em barely had a voice the day before. God answered all our prayers and she felt great the day of the Banquet. She sang in front of 700 people and wasn't particularly scared, just really excited. She's been dreaming of singing for the Banquet for almost a year now and it was a dream come true.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Elizabeth Foss, again - Not So Simple


Really, I love her writing. She says so elequently what lives in my heart.
I wrote somewhere that I love chaos. I don't. Chaos is so very hard to live with. But the beautiful gifts (my children, homeschooling, busyness) that are the origins of the chaos - that's what I love.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Normal Life

The Banquet For Life is over and I'm so excited -- I get to CLEAN my bathroom! It's so great to have time to do the things that need done -- a gift from God!

Thursday, October 01, 2009


My friend Ursula is leaving next week. She's moving across the country with her family. I've crashed 2 of her going away parties and written her a gooey note. Putting an adjective in front of the word "friend" would belie the truth -- she's just a salt of the earth, everything you would want, FRIEND. It would embarass her for me to gush to her face, but she's told me she doesn't really read blogs, so I'm safe gushing to cyberspace.

I'm going to miss her. She's a rare bird that only flies through your life once. I keep reflecting on the first time I met her. A mutual friend suggested I run our Catholic homeschool support group with her. I'd never even met her -- and how is this lady so sure I'd even LIKE someone named "Ursula". Who's named "Ursula", anyway? I've completely grown to love my friend Ursula. The name has become synonymous with a favorite pair of shoes that looks nice with everything but doesn't draw attention to your feet. Grass that is so well cared for that it makes all the flowers around it look fabulous while you almost don't see the grass. Something you almost don't notice while you have it and really feel the loss when it's gone.

She has enough to deal with in moving across country, handling her own children's emotions, adjusting to new EVERYTHING and lastly dealing with her own emotions. It would serve no purpose for her to know how much I'm dwelling on her leaving. But I am. I've got 10,000 other things to think about right now, and I'm sad about loosing Ursula. I just keep taking my sadness and giving it to God as a prayer for her. The Michael W. Smith song "Friends are friends forever" is too sappy & teenagery for my friendship with Ursula, but the sentiment holds true. If you have a thought to spare, please say a prayer for Ursula's family. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This has nothing to do with homeschooling

It is one of Dave's pet peeves and something he knows something about. He sent me this note and article:

This is one of the better explanations of health insurance company profits I've seen. Most would consider the trend of 3-7% annual profits reasonable, hardly "excessive." Consider these 2008 profit margins of a few companies:

Revenues ($millions) Profits ($millions) % Profit in 2008
Gannett $7,481 $1056 14.1%
WaltDisney $35,882. $4,687 13.1%
Time/Warner $46,615. $4,387 9.4%
Starbucks $9,412. $673 7.2%
Aetna $27,599. $1,831 6.6%
Wellpointe $61,134. $3,345 5.4%
Humana $25,290. $883 3.4%

(Source: Forbes 500: http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2008/full_list/201_300.html)

Unfortunately, an entire industry and good people are being demonized by others for political gain. More unfortunate, the majority of Americans don't have a clue.

Please read - Insurance Companies and The Profit Myth Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009


WHAT a busy week!

I'm going to have to figure out how to pare down or get LOTS more energy. Times include travel time

M 8:30-10:30 Band for 3 kids (& me trying to keep the youngest 2 busy)
M 12:00 - 2:00 Co-op (& me keeping the youngest busy)
M 2:00 - 4:00 Gym (& me keeping the youngest busy - are we noticing a pattern here?)

T 12:30 - 4:30 Dd#1 Shakespeare Class

W 8:30-10:30 Band for 3 kids (& me trying to keep the youngest 2 busy)

Th 7:30-10:00 Mass & pray at abortion clinic (this one gets set aside way too often sometimes twice a month)

F I have 2 monthly committments on Fridays that take a half a day.

I also have to fit in breakfast & lunch, cleaning, SCHOOL, and outside meetings for 2 pro-life groups. The kid whose about to turn 2 is my biggest challenge right now (did I ever say I'm not all that crazy about 2-3 year olds? NOT my favorite age.)

I keep telling myself, "no one has a fatal disease, no one is presently in mortal danger, etc." God's gifts are WONDERFUL! (but they can require a bit of energy to keep up on them.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Meal Planning - September Madness

A friend told me she's just not motivated to do any meal planning right now. Boy, I sure am.
My life is CHAOS right now (and not the happy fun kind). I feel like a chicken with it's head cut-off. I need some help -- and this will help. It may not help me get my head screwed on straight, but it's one less thing I have to think about while I'm headless.

Dinners for the month:

  • M - crock pot meal once a week (pork chops, pork roast, pork stew - it was on sale)Smileys
  • T - casserole once a week - 3 lasagnas (one spinach) (frozen) / 2 shepherd's pie casseroles (frozen)
  • W / F - meatless twice a week (2 fish, 2 pizza, tuna & noodles, tomato soup / potato soup & grilled cheese/ tuna or egg salad sandwiches)
  • Th - leftovers (or stir fry with left-over meat)
  • S - mexican once a week (burriotos, quesadillas, taco & taco salad)
  • Sun - once a month of each day (one Sun. = crockpot / one Sun = lasagna, etc.)

Lunches (weekday) for the month:

  • M / W - sandwiches (2 hotdogs, 2 bologna, 2 chicken salad, 2 egg salad)
  • T / F - Raemen Noodles (it's the kids' request - blech)
  • Th - hot meal (2 SOS, 2 nachos)
  • S - hearty sandwiches (2 sloppy joes, 1 hamburgers, 1 chicken salad)

Breakfast for the month:

  • M - Muffins (frozen)
  • T - Cold/hot Cereal
  • W - Buscuits w/bkfst meat
  • Th - hot meal (2 pancakes, 2 french toast)
  • F - cold/hot cereal
  • S - egg breakfast
  • Sun (we usually end up fasting until after Mass)

Sides, snacks & sweets :

  • Sides - (2 per dinner, 1 per lunch, 1 per breakfast - these are listed in MEALS not necessarily packages. After I decide how many of which sides, I convert them to how I buy them. For example a side for a meal may consist of 1/4 jar of applesauce so I buy 1 jar for each 4 meals needed - when I have a 5th side, I buy 2 jars until I'm up to 8 meals needing applesauce) a side may consist of 1 pkg of frozen veggies, 1/2 pkg of potato chips or 1/2 large container of cottage cheese as my family's tastes dictate.Smileys

10 fresh fruit (for our family it's 10 meals with fresh fruit as a side and I figure 3 apples cut-up or .75 per meal), 4 applesauce, 2 canned peaches, 4 Salad, 2 cottage cheese, 4 carrots & dip, 2 fried potato, 2 mashed potato, 1 onion rings, 4 buscuits, 4 garlic or butter bread, 20 Frozen veggies, 10 potato chips

  • Snacks - I try to buy enough that I think is reasonable for the month. I think 4 evenings a week of snacks is reasonable. Once the "good" snacks are gone, they are gone and there are ALWAYS carrot sticks, peaches & butter bread available.

4 chips & salsa, 1 spinach dip & chips, 1 guacamole dip & chips, 6 nuts, 4 potato chips, a left-over side or a left-over sweet

  • Sweets - I shoot for 4 sweets a week. I ...ummm...LOVE sweets!

4 homemade cookies (choc chips, oatmeal, sugar, snickerdoodle), 4 brownies, 4 cup cakes, 4 icecream and ...ok, I'll throw in 2 homemade donuts and 2 sweet rolls...oh and an extra icecream

This month I ended up $447 for the month once I made my list, subtracted what we already had in the pantry or freezer, bought bread at the discount bread store, shopped at Aldi's and ended at Wal-mart. We'll eat up the fresh items first (salad, fresh fruits) and end with canned peaches, applesauce & frozen veggies. At the end of the month I may have to be creative the last week (cinamon/sugar bread or left-over soup) if I didn't figure well, but after having a few "creative weeks" where I have to make due with what we have, I'm confident that I can do it. This doesn't include cleaners, bathroom items or diapers, but does include napkins, paper plates, & paper towels.