Saturday, August 30, 2008

Me an Elitist???

I just found this in my draft file...opps never got published:

Who would have thought that just plain old me…trying to do the will of God would be considered and elitist or status conscious?
After reading an article by
Pamela Paul entitled Three Kids? You Showoffs. As I sweat away on my treadmill trying to keep my mind of the fact that I was actually exercising, I enjoyed a good laugh reading this.
First of all she said that the estimated costs of an average child in America are $204,060!!! That is to house, clothe, educate, and entertain until they are 18!!! I have never been good with numbers as my dh will tell you and I also deal with an exaggeration problem…but, I can tell you that we haven’t even come close to spending $204,060 on my wonderful 18 year old daughter!!! I would guess around $11,500 in 18 years...due to hand me down clothes, toys, furniture, and lots and lots of used books!!! Not to mention a scholarship of full tuition the past two years at the community college. The breaking point was the braces!!! Even thou her dear father said he loved her just the way she was and if the man she married didn’t like her teeth , than he could pay for them!!! Or the kinder comment he made was to just marry someone with good dental insurance. I am sure if any of you know my dh, or visited his scandalist blog, you could hear him say that!!!
As to housing…that is kind of funny…what exactly to they mean when they have a housing allowance? Man, I wish I was in on this early on…I would of charged my kids for using the facilities…my two year old for going to the bathroom all over the house, and the cost of cleaning and washing her clothes, as well as maintaining the floors, walls!!! Could I also charge a quarter for all my little darlings every time they opened the refrigerator? I could possibly pay for my 18 year old's braces with that alone!!! How about leaving the door open when the heat’s on…were you born in a barn??? I could go on and on with this fee, wow, I wish I would of thought about this 18 years ago and I would definitely be ahead of the game!!!
To clothe…HA!!! Obviously these people have no family and friends to share their goodies with. Not to mention a good consignment shop or a local freecycle group like I have where I have even been given clothes with the tags still on!!!
Education is a tricky one…in our home we home school. Although many think it is free like public school, it can become expensive if you want to go that route. We have managed to keep expenses down quite a bit, but that is another blog. My heart goes out to those trying to pay for private or Catholic schools. It is a huge struggle for any family, as well as a one income with multiple kids to deal with.
The last and one I find most hilarious is to entertain!!! I wish this was more specifically broken down because the idea of having an entertainment account makes me laugh. I have said on more than one occasion that my children will make great spouses due to the fact that they will appreciate their honeymoon. (my niece has been to Hawaii, Disney world on numerous occasions, airplanes, and some kind of kid club med???) Or if they choose the religious life they will know the spirit of sacrifice. We have never had lots of extra funds, and I appreciate the fact that to struggle with the question of “can we do a lot of activities” hasn’t been too difficult of a decision. As well as having a nursing baby and toddler which puts a little damper on many entertainment activities, it makes choosing places to go a no brainer. Not that our kids are bored to death, but we haven’t seen the need to put them in an abundance of activities, especially as youngsters.
I am blessed that I waited to have my oldest (the trend starter) wait to start participating in extra curricular activities. Mainly due to finances, but also because I was usually pregnant with a toddler...

It is sad that the world has come to this...hopefully if enough of us start showing how great and easy it is to raise a family, than it will catch on!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Taking my daugter to college...

I have undergone large amounts of stress this year. I don't think I have ever cried as much as I have these past 12 months!!! Why couldn't tears be calories??? I would be a super model by now!!!

After giving birth to my 11Th baby, I found out my son wanted to spend a year in prayer to discern his future vocation. Then after he decided to join the Novitiate I had to trust that ALL the prayers I have been saying since before my son's conception were now being answered!!!

LAST WEEK we took my daughter to college. Now it is about a half hour away...she has nice roommates...her dorm was extremely nice and big and in a safe area...what more could I ask???I talked to her about three times last night, texted her about four times...and will see her tonight at the mass for new students!!! Why then was I in tears all night? It just felt so sad...I am not getting much sympathy from my friends who have watched most of their kids do the same...because I still have nine little guys at home!!

Some how this is all part of God's plan.

We give you thanks for all your gifts,almighty God, living and reigning now and forever...


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Meditation of the day...IMITATION OF CHRIST...

Taken from book 2
Considerations for leading an interior life:

He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things, does not seek special places or times to perform devout exercises.(this is it!!!our state in able to have a relationship with Christ in the midst of our daily life!!!) A spiritual man quickly recollects himself because he has never wasted his attention upon externals. No outside work, no business that cannot wait stands in his way. He adjusts himself to things as they happen. He whose disposition is well ordered cares nothing about the strange, perverse behavior of others, (toddlers and teens) for a man is upset and distracted only in proportion as he engrosses himself in externals.

If all were well with you, therefore, and if you were purified from all sin, everything would tend to your good and be to your profit. But because you are as yet neither entirely dead to self nor free from all earthly affection, there is much that often displeases and disturbs you. Nothing so mars and defiles the heart of man as impure attachment to created things. But if you refuse external consolation, you will be able to contemplate heavenly things and often to experience interior joy.

one more time...
He who learns to live the interior life and to take little account of outward things, does not seek special places or times to perform devout exercises.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

IMITATION OF CHRIST: Meditation of the day...

Meditation: (Part 4)

Had you but once entered into perfect communion with Jesus or tasted a little of His ardent love, you would care nothing at all for your own comfort or discomfort but would rejoice in the reproach you suffer; for love of Him makes a man despise himself.
(embrace suffering)

A man who is a lover of Jesus and of truth, a truly interior man who is free from uncontrolled affections, can turn to God at will and rise above himself to enjoy spiritual peace.

He who tastes life as it really is, not as men say or think it is, is indeed wise with the wisdom of God rather than of men. (Find balance in your state in life!!!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Internet by Age and Stage (from Commonsense media):

Age 2 to 6: Keep your kids away. There are some games that say they will make your kid smarter. So will playing outside, reading a book, or listening to music.

Ages 7-9: Some kids will want to start emailing. This is absolutely fine, although IM isn't a good idea for this age group, as IM buddies and buddy lists are too ungovernable. They might want to start Web surfing. If they do, use a filter or tell them where they can go with your supervision. Don't let kids this age into chat rooms, play online games, or download without you.

Ages 10-12: Children will begin to explore on their own for school and for fun. IMing comes into play here for the first time — more so for girls than for boys. The boys are going to wander more on the Internet finding gaming sites and sites with silly and often inappropriate content. Some kids may start experimenting with MySpace and other social networks. This is why they invented the word "no."

Ages 13-16: The floodgates open. Everything comes into play. It's entirely age-appropriate for this group to email, IM, surf the Web, download, and play games. But you have to make sure your kids know your rules. Also at this point, parents begin to lose control over where their kids use their computers. Trust comes into play. As for social networking sites, again, try to keep your kids off them until high school at the very earliest.

17+: By now, if they don't know the rules of safe and responsible conduct on the Web, there's little we can do. Developmentally, kids are independent. But remind kids that to stay safe, they need to keep personal information personal and use their powers of critical thinking before they believe everything they see and read on the Web.

Monday, August 25, 2008

IMITATION OF CHRIST: Meditation of the day...

Meditation (part 3)

Why do you look about here when this is not the place of your repose? Dwell rather upon heaven and give but a passing glance to all earthly things. They all pass away, and you together with them. Take care, then, that you do not cling to them lest you be entrapped and perish. Fix your mind on the Most High, and pray unceasingly to Christ.

If you do not know how to meditate on heavenly things, direct your thoughts to Christ's passion and willingly behold His sacred wounds. If you turn devoutly to the wounds and precious stigmata of Christ, you will find great comfort in suffering, you will mind but little the scorn of men, and you will easily bear their slanderous talk.

When Christ was in the world, He was despised by men; in the hour of need He was forsaken by acquaintances and left by friends to the depths of scorn. He was willing to suffer and to be despised; do you dare to complain of anything? He had enemies and defamers; do you want everyone to be your friend, your benefactor? How can your patience be rewarded if no adversity test it? How can you be a friend of Christ if you are not willing to suffer any hardship? Suffer with Christ and for Christ if you wish to reign with Him.

***The meditations on suffering always leave me I am going to ponder...while I sweep the kitchen, do the dishes, 10 loads of laundry, clean the downstairs, make my bed, and try to shower!!!



WHEN IT COMES TO DOING GOD'S WILL...YOU NEED TO THINK BIG!!! This came from my friend Sue who always has an insightful way of doing God's will!!!

T ackle each endeavor with prayer. Is this God's idea? How does he want me to complete it?

H elp others to come to Christ through our specific talents/state of life.

I nclude others in our apostolic work.

N othing should be able to discourage us, give up, or separate us from God's Will.

K neel at the feet of Christ every step of the way.

B reak each task down to doable steps.

I nnovation and creativity are key.

G od is bigger than any of our problems and is worth all our efforts.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

MOVIE REVIEW: Pay it Forward

I was told this was a good movie. It was OK...not for young teens. Some very unnecessary scenes and bad language...definitely watch it before you decide to show your teens. I the end. See Plugged in for more info.

IMITATION OF CHRIST: Meditation of the day...

*I am now on book two of the Imitation of Christ...I will be meditating on this wonderful book for the rest of the year...pick up a copy at the library, bookstore, or read online. It is one of the oldest and best spiritual books I have ever encountered...ask your priest or spiritual director for advice to fit your state in life. +JMJ+

First Chapter


Give place, then, to Christ, but deny entrance to all others, for when you have Christ you are rich and He is sufficient for you. He will provide for you. He will supply your every want, so that you need not trust in frail, changeable men. Christ remains forever, standing firmly with us to the end. (I can promise you that He has provided our family with every single need...from soccer cleats to houses...we never had a contract in front of us that said, "if you are open to life and my will, I will make sure you get a car, home, clothing, and food, etc..." We could write a book on the many miracles that God has done. It is such a grace to depend on HIM so we can see HIS love and mercy through the way HE provides for our family!!!)

Do not place much confidence in weak and mortal man, helpful and friendly though he be; and do not grieve too much if he sometimes opposes and contradicts you. Those who are with us today may be against us tomorrow, and vice versa, for men change with the wind. Place all your trust in God; let Him be your fear and your love. He will answer for you; He will do what is best for you.

You have here no lasting home. You are a stranger and a pilgrim wherever you may be, and you shall have no rest until you are wholly united with Christ.

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

Eucharistic Adoration for Children

Check out for info on the international Day of Eucharistic Adoration with Children on Oct. 3, 2008.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

IMITATION OF CHRIST: Meditation of the day...

*I am now on book two of the Imitation of Christ...I will be meditating on this wonderful book for the rest of the year...pick up a copy at the library, bookstore, or read online. It is one of the oldest and best spiritual books I have ever encountered...ask your priest or spiritual director for advice to fit your state in life. +JMJ+

The First Chapter

THE kingdom of God is within you," says the Lord.

Turn, then, to God with all your heart. Forsake this wretched world and your soul shall find rest. Learn to despise external things, to devote yourself to those that are within, and you will see the kingdom of God come unto you, that kingdom which is peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, gifts not given to the impious. (we need to find peace in God and not of the world)

Christ will come to you offering His consolation, if you prepare a fit dwelling for Him in your heart, whose beauty and glory, wherein He takes delight, are all from within. His visits with the inward man are frequent, His communion sweet and full of consolation, His peace great, and His intimacy wonderful indeed. (have purity of intention and a well formed conscience)

Therefore, faithful soul, prepare your heart for this Bridegroom that He may come and dwell within you; He Himself says: "If any one love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and will make Our abode with him." (frequent the sacraments in your state in life)




1. You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Say your morning/evening prayers, get to mass and confession as much as possible.
2. You shall Love your neighbor as yourself. Be a good roommate. Watch what you say and do at all times. Remember Christ is there with you. Don’t fall into any traps of unkindness or backbiting. These are your friends for life.
3. Eat well and exercise.
4. Keep in touch as much as possible. Call, text, email, and visit often!!!
5. Study hard and do your best. Don’t miss class, mass, or meals!!!
6. Stay organized and clean up after yourself.
7. Listen to the HOLY SPIRIT. Don’t put yourself in awkward situations…be prudent about who you are with, where you go, and what you do!!! Watch where you park and make sure you have someone to walk with at night. Remember to call on your guardian angel when you need help quick!!!
8. Have good clean fun. Participate in club and school activities. Smile a lot!!!
9. Do well on your job. Show them how amazing you are. Be on time, do your best, clean up, and look nice.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Feast of the Queenship of Mary

I love this day because it was this day that I went in the attic of my old house to get a box to mail something and when I found a box and opened was the box of a Priest friend of mine, who was letting me borrow his Our Lady of Fatima statue...which was on my shelf...what I didn't know was that she had a was in the I pulled it out...put it on Our Lady...and later realized that it was the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. Small hugs from Christ and Our Lady...

August 22, 2008
Queenship of Mary

Pius XII established this feast in 1954. But Mary’s queenship has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court.
In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen” and Church Fathers and Doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship.

The feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. In his encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pius XII points out that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.

As St. Paul suggests in Romans 8:28–30, God has predestined human beings from all eternity to share the image of his Son. All the more was Mary predestined to be the mother of Jesus. As Jesus was to be king of all creation, Mary, in dependence on Jesus, was to be queen. All other titles to queenship derive from this eternal intention of God. As Jesus exercised his kingship on earth by serving his Father and his fellow human beings, so did Mary exercise her queenship. As the glorified Jesus remains with us as our king till the end of time (Matthew 28:20), so does Mary, who was assumed into heaven and crowned queen of heaven and earth.

“Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayer to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints. May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honored with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Savior, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity”

(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 69).
(This entry appears in the print edition of
Saint of the Day.)

Big Hug from God

I got a Big HUG from GOD today!!! It is unnecessary but great when I see them!!!

This morning I was in adoration and my big intention was gaining wisdom and strength as I send my oldest off to LIVE at a secular college!!! I just felt overwhelmed with the thoughts of my sweet daughter being thrown to the wolves!!!

I am not a big one for just opening my bible to see what God wants to tell me...but, I said, "Lord, I need to tell my daughter something. Please let me know what I need to tell her before she leaves for school!" I then opened my bible...flipped to the New Testament and BOOM!!! Right on the page where my eyes fell to was:

Gospel Mt 22:34-40

He said to him,“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,with all your soul, and with all your mind.This is the greatest and the first commandment.The second is like it:You shall love your neighbor as yourself.The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

That was it!!! That was exactly what I wanted to tell her!!! My concern for her not staying close to Christ and her precious faith. My other concern is her living with 3 other young ladies whom we don't know, and all the stress that comes with friends and uncharitable situations!!!

This is exactly what I wanted her to know!!! Thank you LORD for this perfect word!!!

If it can't get any better...I also had the pleasure of getting to mass for the feast of the Queenship of Our Lady!!! As I sat there meditating on the first reading, I looked up to hear the Gospel proclaimed and guess what!!! It was Mt 22:34-40!!!

How great is that!!! I almost fell off my seat!!!

Than, to top it off...The Communion meditation was:

Blessed is she who believes in the fulfillment of the Lord. Luke 1:45

That is my total desire Lord!!! To BELIEVE IN THE fulfillment of Your precious word!!!

IMITATION OF CHRIST: Meditation of the day...


If there were nothing else to do but praise the Lord God with all your heart and voice, if you had never to eat, or drink, or sleep, but could praise God always and occupy yourself solely with spiritual pursuits, how much happier you would be than you are now, a slave to every necessity of the body! Would that there were no such needs, but only the spiritual refreshments of the soul which, sad to say, we taste too seldom! (I am like Mary...who would love to do this all day...although my state in life calls me to be like Martha)

When a man reaches a point where he seeks no solace from any creature, then he begins to relish God perfectly. Then also he will be content no matter what may happen to him. He will neither rejoice over great things nor grieve over small ones, but will place himself entirely and confidently in the hands of God, Who for him is all in all, to Whom nothing ever perishes or dies, for Whom all things live, and Whom they serve as He desires.

Always remember your end and do not forget that lost time never returns. Without care and diligence you will never acquire virtue. When you begin to grow lukewarm, you are falling into the beginning of evil; but if you give yourself to fervor, you will find peace and will experience less hardship because of God's grace and the love of virtue.

A fervent and diligent man is ready for all things. It is greater work to resist vices and passions than to sweat in physical toil. He who does not overcome small faults, shall fall little by little into greater ones.

If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide. Watch over yourself, arouse yourself, warn yourself, and regardless of what becomes of others, do not neglect yourself. The more violence (saying no to your vices) you do to yourself, the more progress you will make.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

IMITATION OF CHRIST: Meditation of the day...


There is one thing that keeps many from zealously improving their lives, that is, dread of the difficulty, the toil of battle. Certainly they who try bravely to overcome the most difficult and unpleasant obstacles far outstrip others in the pursuit of virtue. A man makes the most progress and merits the most grace precisely in those matters wherein he gains the greatest victories over self and most mortifies his will. True, each one has his own difficulties to meet and conquer, but a diligent and sincere man will make greater progress even though he have more passions than one who is more even-tempered but less concerned about virtue. (don't ever compare yourself to never know the battles they face)

Two things particularly further improvement -- to withdraw oneself forcibly from those vices to which nature is viciously inclined, and to work fervently for those graces which are most needed. (no to vice and beg for graces to obtain virtue)

Study also to guard against and to overcome the faults which in others very frequently displease you. Make the best of every opportunity, so that if you see or hear good example you may be moved to imitate it. On the other hand, take care lest you be guilty of those things which you consider reprehensible, or if you have ever been guilty of them, try to correct yourself as soon as possible. As you see others, so they see you. (Imitate good example and flee from those things {or people} that make us fall)

How pleasant and sweet to behold brethren fervent and devout, well mannered and disciplined! How sad and painful to see them wandering in dissolution, not practicing the things to which they are called! How hurtful it is to neglect the purpose of their vocation and to attend to what is not their business! (we must seek out positive roll models and learn from them)

Remember the purpose you have undertaken, and keep in mind the image of the Crucified. Even though you may have walked for many years on the pathway to God, you may well be ashamed if, with the image of Christ before you, you do not try to make yourself still more like Him.
The religious who concerns himself intently and devoutly with our Lord's most holy life and passion will find there an abundance of all things useful and necessary for him. He need not seek for anything better than Jesus.
(stay as close to the Eucharist and Exposition as your state in life calls)

If the Crucified should come to our hearts, how quickly and abundantly we would learn!
A fervent religious accepts all the things that are commanded him and does them well, but a negligent and lukewarm religious has trial upon trial, and suffers anguish from every side because he has no consolation within and is forbidden to seek it from without. The religious who does not live up to his rule exposes himself to dreadful ruin, and he who wishes to be more free and untrammeled will always be in trouble, for something or other will always displease him.
How do so many other religious who are confined in cloistered discipline get along? They seldom go out, they live in contemplation, their food is poor, their clothing coarse, they work hard, they speak but little, keep long vigils, rise early, pray much, read frequently, and subject themselves to all sorts of discipline.
(we as lay people need to be the best at our vocation as we can be)

Think of the Carthusians and the Cistercians, the monks and nuns of different orders, how every night they rise to sing praise to the Lord. It would be a shame if you should grow lazy in such holy service when so many religious have already begun to rejoice in God. ( advice as to how to maintain your own lay vocation)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!!!

Dear Sweet Elizabeth, you have been our Little Sunshine since the day you were born!!! My neat and orderly child who helps me take care of the house and babies. What would we do with with out you? Thank you for being so wonderful. I hope you know how much I appreciate all you do around here. I know God has great plans for you!!! Keep being our sweetie...EVEN AT 14!!! I love you!!! +mommy


IMITATION OF CHRIST: meditation of the day...


BE WATCHFUL and diligent in God's service and often think of why you left the world and came here. Was it not that you might live for God and become a spiritual man? Strive earnestly for perfection, then, because in a short time you will receive the reward of your labor, and neither fear nor sorrow shall come upon you at the hour of death. (strive to serve and live for God alone and He will reward our labor)

Labor a little now, and soon you shall find great rest, in truth, eternal joy; for if you continue faithful and diligent in doing, God will undoubtedly be faithful and generous in rewarding. Continue to have reasonable hope of gaining salvation, but do not act as though you were certain of it lest you grow indolent and proud. (continue to be faithful and diligent so that we don't become proud)

One day when a certain man who wavered often and anxiously between hope and fear was struck with sadness, he knelt in humble prayer before the altar of a church. While meditating on these things, he said: "Oh if I but knew whether I should persevere to the end!" Instantly he heard within the divine answer: "If you knew this, what would you do? Do now what you would do then and you will be quite secure." Immediately consoled and comforted, he resigned himself to the divine will and the anxious uncertainty ceased. His curiosity no longer sought to know what the future held for him, and he tried instead to find the perfect, the acceptable will of God in the beginning and end of every good work. (THY WILL BE DONE LORD!!!)

"Trust thou in the Lord and do good," says the Prophet; "dwell in the land and thou shalt feed on its riches." (PS. 37:3)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

IMITATION OF CHRIST: meditation of the day...


Then you will find more consolation in having prayed devoutly than in having fared daintily; you will be happy that you preferred silence to prolonged gossip.

Then holy works will be of greater value than many fair words; strictness of life and hard penances will be more pleasing than all earthly delights.

Learn, then, to suffer little things now that you may not have to suffer greater ones in eternity. Prove here what you can bear hereafter. If you can suffer only a little now, how will you be able to endure eternal torment? If a little suffering makes you impatient now, what will hell fire do? In truth, you cannot have two joys: you cannot taste the pleasures of this world and afterward reign with Christ.

If your life to this moment had been full of honors and pleasures, what good would it do if at this instant you should die? All is vanity, therefore, except to love God and to serve Him alone.

He who loves God with all his heart does not fear death or punishment or judgment or hell, because perfect love assures access to God.

It is no wonder that he who still delights in sin fears death and judgment.

It is good, however, that even if love does not as yet restrain you from evil, at least the fear of hell does. The man who casts aside the fear of God cannot continue long in goodness but will quickly fall into the snares of the devil. (isn't it too bad that it takes fear to make us love?)

*so it looks like again, I need to work on: being silent, strict penances, appreciate the little sufferings in my life (teens, sickness, not being pregnant, getting organized, letting go of my big kids...), love God alone and stop worring about everything else)

Complement or Criticism???

I don't know if I should take the following comment given to me, on many occasions, as a compliment or a criticism...

Mother to her children, "If you don't watch it I am going to send you to their house for the week!"

Should I take it as a compliment: "wow, she must think I am an amazing mom and she wants me to straighten her kids out..."

Or should I take it as a criticism: "wow, she must think I am a horrible mom and she wants her kids to appreciate her???"

Either happens to me often...hopefully the kids don't have nightmares about me...the only good thing that will come from it is that when they are teenagers maybe they will think twice about "wanting to date" my kids...cause God knows that when my kids turn 18, there is a bunch of questions to be answered before you pass through my doors!!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

IMITATION OF CHRIST: meditation of the day...


Another cheery subject:

IN ALL things consider the end; how you shall stand before the strict Judge from Whom nothing is hidden and Who will pronounce judgment in all justice, accepting neither bribes nor excuses. And you, miserable and wretched sinner, who fear even the countenance of an angry man, what answer will you make to the God Who knows all your sins? Why do you not provide for yourself against the day of judgment when no man can be excused or defended by another because each will have enough to do to answer for himself? In this life your work is profitable, your tears acceptable, your sighs audible, your sorrow satisfying and purifying. (I truly believe God is a just and loving God)

The patient man goes through a great and salutary purgatory when he grieves more over the malice of one who harms him than for his own injury; when he prays readily for his enemies and forgives offenses from his heart; when he does not hesitate to ask pardon of others; when he is more easily moved to pity than to anger; when he does frequent violence to himself and tries to bring the body into complete subjection to the spirit. (a mom patient, prayerful, forgiving, and compassionate: MY SOUL DESIRE!!!)

It is better to atone for sin now and to cut away vices than to keep them for purgation in the hereafter. In truth, we deceive ourselves by our ill-advised love of the flesh. (did I mention that I gained 6 lbs on vacation) What will that fire feed upon but our sins? The more we spare ourselves now and the more we satisfy the flesh, the harder will the reckoning be and the more we keep for the burning.

For a man will be more grievously punished in the things in which he has sinned. There the lazy will be driven with burning prongs, and gluttons (what was that I was saying about gaining weight?) tormented with unspeakable hunger and thirst; the wanton and lust-loving will be bathed in burning pitch and foul brimstone; the envious will howl in their grief like mad dogs. (sounds like my kids on a bad day?)

Every vice will have its own proper punishment. The proud will be faced with every confusion and the avaricious pinched with the most abject want. One hour of suffering there will be more bitter than a hundred years of the most severe penance here. In this life men sometimes rest from work and enjoy the comfort of friends, but the damned have no rest or consolation.
You must, therefore, take care and repent of your sins now so that on the day of judgment you may rest secure with the blessed. For on that day the just will stand firm against those who tortured and oppressed them, and he who now submits humbly to the judgment of men will arise to pass judgment upon them. The poor and humble will have great confidence, while the proud will be struck with fear. He who learned to be a fool in this world and to be scorned for Christ will then appear to have been wise.
(I want to hang with the poor and humble)

In that day every trial borne in patience will be pleasing and the voice of iniquity will be stilled; the devout will be glad; the irreligious will mourn; and the mortified body will rejoice far more than if it had been pampered with every pleasure. Then the cheap garment will shine with splendor and the rich one become faded and worn; the poor cottage will be more praised than the gilded palace. In that day persevering patience will count more than all the power in this world; simple obedience will be exalted above all worldly cleverness; a good and clean conscience will gladden the heart of man far more than the philosophy of the learned; and contempt for riches will be of more weight than every treasure on earth. (We need to accept all trial, be devout, do small acts of morification, be happy with our state in life, persever, be obedient, and get to confession often!!!...I GOT SOME WORK TO DO!!!)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

IMITATION OF CHRIST: meditation of the day...

Thoughts on Death (part two)

You can do many good works when in good health; what can you do when you are ill? Few are made better by sickness. Likewise they who undertake many pilgrimages seldom become holy.

Do not put your trust in friends and relatives, and do not put off the care of your soul till later, for men will forget you more quickly than you think. It is better to provide now, in time, and send some good account ahead of you than to rely on the help of others. If you do not care for your own welfare now, who will care when you are gone?

The present is very precious; these are the days of salvation; now is the acceptable time. How sad that you do not spend the time in which you might purchase everlasting life in a better way. The time will come when you will want just one day, just one hour in which to make amends, and do you know whether you will obtain it?

See, then, dearly beloved, the great danger from which you can free yourself and the great fear from which you can be saved, if only you will always be wary and mindful of death. Try to live now in such a manner that at the moment of death you may be glad rather than fearful. Learn to die to the world now, that then you may begin to live with Christ. Learn to spurn all things now, that then you may freely go to Him. Chastise your body in penance now, that then you may have the confidence born of certainty.

Ah, foolish man, why do you plan to live long when you are not sure of living even a day? How many have been deceived and suddenly snatched away! How often have you heard of persons being killed by drownings, by fatal falls from high places, of persons dying at meals, at play, in fires, by the sword, in pestilence, or at the hands of robbers! Death is the end of everyone and the life of man quickly passes away like a shadow.

Who will remember you when you are dead? Who will pray for you? Do now, beloved, what you can, because you do not know when you will die, nor what your fate will be after death. Gather for yourself the riches of immortality while you have time. Think of nothing but your salvation. Care only for the things of God. Make friends for yourself now by honoring the saints of God, by imitating their actions, so that when you depart this life they may receive you into everlasting dwellings. (Many holy people I know who have prepared to die have told me not to forget them when they many are "canonized" here on earth and many forget to pray for them when they die. We must say many prayers and have masses said for the departed!!!)

Keep yourself as a stranger here on earth, a pilgrim whom its affairs do not concern at all. Keep your heart free and raise it up to God, for you have not here a lasting home. To Him direct your daily prayers, your sighs and tears, that your soul may merit after death to pass in happiness to the Lord.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Today's readings: A meditation from a priest friend of mine:

The Parental Vocation
August 16, 2008

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Father Steven Reilly, LC

Matthew 19: 13-15 Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

Introductory Prayer: Father in heaven, I love you above all things. Help me to really treasure the graces you will give me in this mediation.

Petition: Lord, help me to be faithful in carrying out the commitments of my state of life.

1. Bringing the Children to Jesus
Being a parent is a lofty vocation. To be entrusted with the integral formation and eternal salvation of another human being is a task that is enough to make one dissolve into fear and trembling. Above all, parents have to show the good spiritual instincts of the people in today’s Gospel: They have to bring their children to Jesus. They need to teach them to pray, to go to Mass and above all, to learn that Jesus truly is their best friend with whom they can share everything. What a gift to give to children!

2. “Do Not Prevent Them”
There are many ways to hinder a child’s path to Christ. Our bad example is one of the main ones. Children pick up on the incoherence between our admonitions and our actual behavior. It’s particularly unnerving when a parent begins to see his own defects mirrored in his children. That can serve as a warning call that we need to be living the Christian life with more authenticity. Our example needs to be a catalyst towards the good.

3. The Kingdom of Heaven Belongs to Such as These
A good Catholic parent has only one truly bottom-line aspiration for his kids: that they get to heaven! This is worth all the prayers, sacrifices and late nights. Precisely because the Kingdom is where they belong, parents should have immense confidence that the Lord will send them the graces they need to persevere and carry out their mission effectively. Christ is the parent’s biggest cheerleader! He wants nothing more than that happy reunion in heaven, where the parent will hear those wonderful words from his child, “Thanks for helping me to get here.”

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for my parents, and all they did to help me grow in the faith. I am sorry for the times I judged them harshly. Grant them your abundant blessing.

Resolution: I will say a special prayer for my parents (especially if deceased) and give them a call to thank them.


Vacation is nice...but, thank God we are home...I love my house...I love my big dining room table, I love my two dishwashers, I love my two refrigerators, I love my deep sink, etc...I am not known for liking to clean...but, I really appreciate my wonderful home!!!

To top off the end of our beach trip #8 started throwing up at 1:30 this morning and #5 got sick on the way home...that is it...we are not allowed to get sick anymore!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008


I can't believe my sweet little guy is one!!! You have been so sweet and such a joy to our family!!! When you were born a whopping 11lbs. on the FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION I knew God had BIG plans for you!!! My labor was very difficult and dad and I shiver at the thought of what we would of done without our amazing midwife Alice. Aunt Betsy says I looked like gumby the way we moved my body to get you out...enough of that came and I don't think I stopped nursing you for three months.

It was an interesting first week. The day you were born we came home from the Birthing Center hours after you arrived so the rest of your siblings and Geama could see you!!! Your God mom Alex was there, but she fell asleep...what a blessing that was...I don't think she could of handled seeing that delivery!!! I know I couldn't of handled her watching this one!!! It was only minutes after your birth that I got the news that your God father Joshua wanted to spend a year in discernment of a future vocation...if you and I were my tears as I nursed you I clearly heard God (or Monsignor Hogan-my dead old pastor) say, "The Lord giveith, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord!!!"Job 1: 20-21.

After lots of love from everyone else, especially "C" who announced when she saw you one of her first clear words, "BABY E!!!" and it stuck like glue!!! Then the visitors started coming...the first were Caleb's friends on their bikes from the pool...Luke, Jake, and Joey...To see those sweet teenage boys riding up through my window with excitement in their eyes, did my heart good...I think it was at that point I gave them each permission to marry any of my five daughters.

Then the real excitement came...our friends the W's from New Hampshire were scheduled to come for a visit and stay with us...totally against the mom's better judgement...but I convinced her I would probably be my typical 10 days late and I needed her here to help me get ready. Of course I didn't let the kids breathe a word of my labor and the baby already being here when they called or she would of made her hubby turn the van around...anyway the kids really were looking forward to the visit and it took them away from bugging me too much...o yeah, did I mention they had 10 kids? Five boys and five girls just like we did not to mention the other freaky similarities we share...all of our kids are the same ages...all were the same sex till the fault...and the personalities are very about God giving you a support system...the funny things like the kids being born on each others due dates, etc...weird...we wanted to write a book till I messed up with not having a girl #8...o well, the only crazy thing is the spouses are mixed up...Mom W and my husband are twins separated at birth...and Dad W and I are kindred spirits!!!

I thought this post was going to be about my baby E...well E it took me six days to actually walk normally...I had never really had such post delivery pain before...but Alice and I decided that I must of past my diabetes test by next pregnancy no sweets and lots of exercise!!!

Speaking of next sorry favorite gift to my one year old babies is...the announcement of a new sibling...ooh for the days when I was young and Daddy didn't wear bike shorts and use a laptop...ouch-sorry honey!!! I need to blame someone!!!

Happy First Birthday Sweet Baby E...promise you will always stay sweet...especially when you are a teenager!!!

Thy Will Be Done!!! +JMJ+


I think this is one of my favorites!!! I two have been kinda having a mid life crisis...My son went away to school, my oldest turned 18 and is moving to school, and I turned 40!!! My oldest already informed me that she is not ready to deal with me having to knock it off...I wonder where she learned such charitable kind words...Opps...

Enjoy Rachel's article...

I will admit I take a great deal of comfort in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Granted the pop song of the sixties by The Byrds, “Turn, Turn, Turn”, has diminished the power of these verses so a re-read of the actual verses from Scripture might be beneficial.

Within these words I am reassured that everything will come about in season - planting and harvesting, tears and laughter, a time for silence and a time for speaking. The Scripture even speaks of time for love and a time for war. Everything. Really, everything? No, not everything. Verse 14 instructs us more clearly, “I know that whatever God does endures forever…” I wish I had remembered this a few weeks ago.

I turned 45 this year and as is required at these important milestones in life, I took a good look at my life and took stock of what has come and gone. Unfortunately, I began this venture without proper preparation and saw only what I had missed due to my young marriage, large family and crazy choices (also known as homeschooling). My life was not at all, what I had planned when I ventured forth from my hometown. I have achieved nothing that I had my wish list as a senior in high school. My spiral went down and before I knew it, I was in the midst of a full-blown mid-life crisis. I needed to do something about this. Get a tattoo, buy a motorcycle or at least be an upstanding woman and get myself a real job!
Isn’t that the essence of a mid-life crisis? You take a good look at your life and seeing all the holes and what is missing and decide that no matter the cost, the expense or the embarrassment to self or family you will get what’s coming to you? Hollywood and made-for-TV movies will give you this impression. Sadly, for some it is true to life with 20+ year marriages dissolved and jobs abandoned as another 40-something tries to find themselves.

Lucky for me, I had neither the income nor gumption to do anything bizarre so I was left to take another look at my life, this time with a plea to God, “What am I ‘really’ missing?” This short prayer was the preparation I needed and had lacked before.

As I took a new look at my life with God’s help I could admit there is much I haven’t done, but much more has happened in my life than I could have ever expected; including the 11 children (and all that comes with that) and the homeschooling. Through God’s graciousness, I have also had a turn at a modest writing career, travels abroad and the joy and privilege of watching over and fostering several young vocations in my children. My seasons with God have been quite fruitful and full of blessings both large and small.

Moreover, I had fresh excitement and hope for the seasons yet to come. With that in mind, I have begun a new wish list, making sure to contemplatie God’s will for me and my family. My list includes the truly important things such as a stronger marriage, the patience and strength to parent healthy and holy children on through adulthood but I have also included some trivial things such as more travel and a best-selling novel to write. I realize I may never have a season as a renowned novelist or travel beyond the United States but it will remain on my list. As I turn, turn, turn through the rest of my life I am reassured by looking at what has gone past that God knows both what I want and what I truly need. My life as stolen from lyrics from another 60’s pop song this time by the Rolling Stones – You can’t always get what you want…you get what you need.

However, I won’t let that song go to my head – I’ll stick with contemplating Scripture. When I took a truly honest assessment of my life and how wonderful my life has been I needed to repent for my ingratitude. God has given me many surprises over the past 45 years, I look forward to the surprises He has in store for the next 45. “No eye has seen, no ear heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Guest Blogger: Rachel Watkins-mother of 11 talks about Living Catholic in a Non-Catholic World ...

Rachel is a homeschooling mom of 11 great kids who writes for Catholic Exchange,Heart, Mind, and Strength, as well as others...she will be my guest blogger while I am out of town...sit back and enjoy her this week...feel free to leave comments and I will get them to her!!!

Living Catholic in a Non-Catholic World 7/10/07

In light of deciding to buy my planner from a Catholic company (
***this is the planner I use too!!!
I've been thinking about what other choices I make in my life especially because I am a Catholic.
Being fully Catholic isn't easy in today's world. I know I am not the only one who struggles on the what, when, where, why, who's, etc. of daily life when trying to be as authentically Catholic as possible.
Some decisions are easy for me as I don't have struggles against addictions to drugs, alcohol, or pornography that other Catholics do. My immediate family is not a source of conflict but my extended family issues can leak in from time to time. We don't have cable, limit the access to the TV and internet in general. The malls are too far to get to on a weekly basis much less a daily basis so my kids hang out at home.
But still I wonder. Unlike Muslims, orthodox Jews or even the Mennonites who operate the farmer's market near my house, whose appearances (headdress, dresses, etc.) give clear witness to their faith is there anything I'm doing that would clearly say to someone this woman is a Catholic???
Is that necessary? Required? Possible? Am I falling for the traps of the Pharisee's whose appearance said one thing but whose lives said another? In the gospel today, they accuse Christ of being the prince of demons because they can't see beyond the outward miracle. I only want to always see Christ clearly and witness to Him daily.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

QUESTIONS about homeschooling with little kids...and being pregnant: much for my auto post today...

To answer a question with some quick advice,

From a mom expecting her 6th with the oldest 7:

1-what are the math facts, states info on tapes/ Cd's that you recommend?
I would suggest to go to free share or online to educational games. Really limit computer time for special occasions, rewards, or special days. Also go to your local library and get the tapes they can find an entire world of books on tape, as well as other Cd's that could be used for "school". Some of our favorite Cd's from the library are: Little house on the Prairie, Mrs. Piggy Wiggle, Swiss Family Robinson, Red wall, Adventures in Oddessy, Box car children, as well as a ton of others. Your librarian should be you best friend...when I had lots little guys, I would call ahead ask for some specific things, they would get them for me and leave them at the desk for me, then I would pull up when out running errands and run in or send a big kid in.

2-do you have a chore chart? I have a lot of little ones only (oldest is only 7) and I NEED their help as baby #6 is due in Sept. I am not sure of what to expect or if I am not asking enough of them.
Do I have a job chart??? I am known in this town as having the biggest chart ever!!! The local nuns come to my house just to see that mother superior is easy on them compared to my family!!! (I am not kidding) It is amazing how much the little kids like the job chart, then you wake up one day and they are teenagers complaining about everything. For making a job chart I write down what I wish was accomplished during the day...what my husband wishes was accomplished for the day...than I put it in writing. I mean silly things like how I wish I read more to the little guys...played a game with instantly it became a job for the big guys...than my husband loves coming home to the front yard not looking like we have 11 clean up front yard is a job...opening the van door and having everything fall job...walking in the front door and stepping on job...trying to find the mail...the kids favorite job: welcome daddy...they get the mail and watch out for poppa!!!

3-Do you have extra help besides your older kids? who and how did you find them?
Sometimes usually is kind friends who come to help out. At one time my mom thought she was doing me a favor and offered to pay for my kids to go to the local Catholic School...(she thought it was still $25 a family like in her day). When I explained that I didn't want to send my kids away to sister just told her to give me some $$$ to find some help. That lasted about 2 years before another sibling needed help more than I) I am a huge one on asking for help...when I was pregnant with my fifth I mentioned to my friend my disapointment in falling asleep while reading to my little guys...she offered to come over to read to has been 12 years and she still comes about twice a week during the school year!!! That is what I call a great friend!!! ASK/ASK/ASK!!!

4-What schooling ideas/ideas to help entertain the young kids do you have for when a new baby arrives?"
Limit your expectations when the baby as much as you can...let the kids play with each other, good toys, and outside!!! Have a special box of toys that just comes out when you need them: during phone calls with the doctor, during reading lessons with the early reader, or when mom needs a rest!!! Again...BOOKS ON TAPE are huge in our house!!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Guest Blogger: Rachel Watkins-mother of 11 talks about homeschooling with little kids...

Rachel is a homeschooling mom of 11 great kids who writes for Catholic Exchange,Heart, Mind, and Strength, as well as others...she will be my guest blogger while I am out of town...sit back and enjoy her this week...feel free to leave comments and I will get them to her!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Good News for Catholics...

We are at the beach in Kitty Hawk, NC...It is so exciting to be part of our Roman Catholic Family...we went to 9am Sunday mass here and I don't think I have ever been to a mass with so many families. (It could easily filled the Washington National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception) There were three large churches worth of families. Kids were every where, I think most families had around four kids. I felt HOPE like I haven't felt in a long time.

It reminded me of the Catholic Homeschool conferences in Manassas many years ago, when you felt good about your life, just being in the building with these families..."if they can do it...I can do it!"

It's great to see Catholics going to mass while on vacation. It brought a big smile to my face.

Thy will be done!!! +JMJ+

Guest Blogger: Rachel Watkins-mother of 11 talks about waiting for God's time...

Rachel is a homeschooling mom of 11 great kids who writes for Catholic Exchange,Heart, Mind, and Strength, as well as others...she will be my guest blogger while I am out of town...sit back and enjoy her this week...feel free to leave comments and I will get them to her!!!

This is an article that Rachel wrote awhile ago for Catholic Exchange:

Learning to Wait Well

Our three year old does not like the word ‘wait’. She dislikes the word more than even a quick ‘No’. She will display her displeasure with a pout on a good day and a stomp of the foot and shout on a bad day. So, I have adapted my reply to ‘Yes, after I have….finished this phone call, gone to the bathroom, etc..’ or ‘Yes, after you….finish your chore, pick up your toys, etc.’ If I answer her with those words she will happily, most of the time, skip off until those tasks are completed.
I, on the other hand, as an adult wait very well. RIGHT!
I am now at week 36+ of my 15th pregnancy, expecting my 11th child on earth. I have discovered, much to my displeasure and embarrassment, that I am a very poor ‘wait-er’. I am pouting, shouting (in my heart) and whining more than my 3 yr. old ever does. Now, to rationalize a bit about my challenge in waiting, I have only gone to term with one of my children. I am physically disposed to going early and, as such, received medical intervention to prevent early labor/delivery with this baby. Well, the medicine has worked wonders and I have now reached a point in my pregnancy I have not reached for over 8 years!!! Seriously. The last time I went past 36 weeks was 5 babies ago. Therefore, in my mind I am late, overdue and miserable.
So, I am not waiting well and have been telling God that over and over again. Each morning when I awake, still pregnant, I rub my sore muscles, get the forklift over to raise my whale-like body out of my bed and hope my feet land in a proper position to support my frame (not really, but it feels like that!).
Recently God decided to have a good talking to me. He didn’t appear in my room but did take over a recent prayer time to give me a bit of perspective on waiting. My waiting, with such a good ending, is small and minor in comparison to other types of waiting. For example, we have our own Greg and Lisa with a 2 year plus waiting for Lily, there are the many readers/listeners to HMS who have been waiting for resolutions to infertility, marriage problems, financial concerns, chronic illness and spiritual struggles. And throughout our faith history, we have witnesses to waiting including Monica and her rascally son Ignatius to the first, and most important waiting ever done was the entire nation of Israel – waiting and waiting and waiting for a Messiah.
My waiting pales in comparison to all of this. Therefore, until our newest baby arrives I will try my best to wait with a better attitude and realize that God is answering me just as I answer my three year old – “Yes, Rachel, you will get a new baby. When the time is perfect.”

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Guest Blogger: Rachel Watkins-mother of 11 talks about homeschooling with little kids...

While I am on vacation this week...You are in for a treat everyone as I share some great insights from my friend and mentor Rachel Watkins!!!

Keeping the little ones content

One of the biggest struggles homeschooling parents face is keeping the younger one content while the older ones are learning. While the older ones have goals to meet based on state requirements, lesson plans or curriculums, the only goal for a preschooler or toddler is to have as much fun as possible. The ‘rule’ of toddler life is to go, go, go and take as many prisoners (that usually means Mom) along the way! (While I know there are some fathers out there who are the ‘teacher’ I will beg their forgiveness and just use “Mom” here for simplicity.)

Most families make use of the following:

FLEXIBILITY - When thinking of making a school schedule think of the best times for you, your stamina and the needs of the little ones. If you write the schedule with those in mind you can get more done than you think. Don’t forget to plan a snack schedule as you can get a lot accomplished with an older child while the younger one is munching next to you. When you have more than a few little ones, you may find that going to a weekly or even monthly plan is better than trying a daily one. Not knowing if the baby going to start teething, the toddler who is potty-training is miserable, etc. make a daily plan is almost impossible in my house. Instead, I make big weekly plans and monthly goals. I know I can meet (or adjust those) is much less stressful than saying I must go this and that today and today only! In a family w/ babies and toddlers today’s quickly become yesterday’s so don’t be tied to a planner that doesn’t allow for flexibility.

Also, know that you are getting more done than you think. Remember to cover the 4 R’s – reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmatic’ and religion and you are doing fine. Check out the “What Every (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) Grader Should Know series and you will probably discover that your child knows more than you remember teaching them. And having stacks and stacks of good books – both fiction and non-fiction – will go a long way to teach your kids what you yourself can’t. The computer is also a given in most homes. Having some good teaching sites bookmarked as favorites make it easier to get your kids started on learning something when it’s a rough day.

This isn’t to say that other subjects are necessary and your own state may require real, concrete proof of all subjects taught. Rather it is remind you that you need to take school just one day at a time.

CREATIVITY - Be as creative with your schedule as homeschooling allows. Perhaps getting to some subjects will take place after Dad comes home. He can play with the younger ones or listen to the older one read. Consider doing a concentrated study session on a Saturday morning. Make the most of naps to take care of the more difficult subjects (in our house it is Math). And remember – with elementary aged kids they don’t need 5 or 6 hours of school. And once you get them reading successfully they can manage to get a good number of subjects done on their own. Developing independent learners is vital to success in high school and beyond.

Older children will take turns to help care for younger ones. Some mothers use assigned times or days while other moms just ask the child who is not occupied. For example, in my family, I assign one of the older kids to be my ‘go-to girl’ or ‘go-to guy’ for a given day. So, on Monday (and only Monday), my 14 yr. old is ‘Go-To Girl’ for the whole day. She is not expected to do any school work until little ones are napping. She helps out w/ keeping them occupied, folding laundry, helping w/ dinner, anything and everything. In a word, that is her day to be my right hand gal. On the one hand, some would say, she is missing out on schoolwork. Perhaps.

But on the other hand – she is learning at my side about running a household. She is spending some time w/ me as we are making dinner together, working side-by-side. She is Lunch Lady for that day (no, I don’t insist on hairnets) and more. It is a huge help to me and fun for her. She likes the idea of playing ‘hooky’ of sorts and we’ve had some great conversations this way. She is also helping occupy the little ones and allowing me some time to help the younger ones w/ their school.
To clarify – this isn’t to say that on other days, she doesn’t help but on this one day of the week, she is my primary helper. I do the same on other days w/ all my older kids from around 8 on up. (This then means in my home that I have a ‘go-to’ kid four days a week.) Good thing, we take Fridays ‘off’.

Remember even at 5 or 6, an older sibling can be asked to build blocks with the toddler as you help an older one get started on an assignment. There are also the times/days when it is all me. I get the older ones started doing subjects that need little assistance and the day begins. All of my kids are expert at doing school on the floor because I’m down there with the little ones.

SENSITIVITY – To everyone’s needs: yours, the older kids and the younger kids. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing, what those in support group are doing. Just keep your eyes on your house, God’s plan for you and be sensitive to the life He has in store.

Some concrete ideas:

Books on tape for younger children. Not the longer books but those with an accompanying book. You could even ask an older child to create some of these from books you have at your own home.

Books on the tape for the older ones. They can read along with the longer books or listen to the learning tapes for states, math facts and even science stuff.

Videos and TV. These can be used for just the little ones or with the older ones for an educational moment. A nature program, history and similar. The older one is learning while the younger one is entertained. Dust off the old family videos and let the little ones watch those, let them see what their big brother looked liked when he was a baby.

Standard ‘busy’ work for younger children include:
Toys in the home, coloring books and drawing paper, puzzles, play dough, lacing beads/buttons on a string, sticker books and such like. Put these favorites into boxes or baskets and rotate them in and out of the living room or play area to keep things interesting. You can get more out of a few, real, favorites rather than an overabundance of toys that end up just dumped on the floor and never really played with.

Make use of the high chair for more than food. Let little one try to learn to sit still. High chair games can include fun with an ice cube on the tray or painting with whipped cream (I do that only on bath days!). You will spend a good deal of time bending down and picking up but you could use the exercise.

Quiet Games:
Magazine scavenger hunt
Open any magazine and ask your toddler to find something. Look for a color or an object such as a car. Make it thematic by finding all the people or instructional by looking for things that start with a specific letter. The “Where’s Waldo”, “Look-Alikes” and “I Spy” book series offer this same advantage.
Photo Time
Keep all those extra photos, even those slightly out of focus or duplicate shots. Every child loves to look at photos again and again. Create a basket or box full of pictures just for them.
-Write letters
Older preschoolers love giving and getting mail. Ask them to dictate a letter to you for Gramma in the next state or even the sister they share a room with. You can mail them for real or just pretend. As an older child to act as scribe and they can then practice their handwriting.
-Junk Mail
Letting them have the junk mail will create a mess on the floor for you to clean up but can sometimes give you the fifteen or twenty minutes you need to give a spelling test.
Reading books in a new way
Every young child has a favorite book they want to hear over and over and over again (“Are You My Mother?” is a current favorite in our home.) An entertaining twist is to read the book backwards or use a different voice (baby, whisper, Martian). Read the book in your best (or worst) French accent. They will delight in hearing an old favorite in a new way.

More Active Games:
Spin and Stop
Remember the game of Statues? In this version have the kids spin once or twice and then stop. Then ask them “Be something you see at the zoo”. You then watch and admire as they act out being a lion or bear. You can ask them to be something on a farm, in the ocean, or in the air. You can venture into inanimate objects if they understand and ask them to be something in the house, at a grocery store. How about being their favorite storybook or movie character?
Kitchen Sink
While you need to be in the kitchen, allow them to play in the sink with bubbles and plastic cups. We sometimes avoid this as it often creates more work but when you really need time to work with an older child you can hover near the toddler and still get some work done.
-Laundry Basketball
Take some of those socks you have been trying to sort and allow the toddler to play basketball with them. A small pair being tossed about the living room can cause only minimal damage and give great fun.

Don’t forget to check out your local library for great books for games, activities and more for toddlers and younger children. One favorite is “365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Child” by Steve and Ruth Bennett, (Bob Adams, Inc. 1995).

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Guest Blogger: Rachel Watkins-mother of 11 talks about why to homeschool...

Rachel is a homeschooling mom of 11 great kids who writes for Catholic Exchange,Heart, Mind, and Strength, as well as others...she will be my guest blogger while I am out of town...sit back and enjoy her this week...feel free to leave comments and I will get them to her!!!

August is here and many parents, self-included, are beginning to think about the upcoming school year. If you are not yet, take a trip to a local big box store or turn on the television because the commercials are running and the shelves are full of pencils and paper.

While many parents have already made the decision, the tuition payment mailed and the school list downloaded, some parents are still deciding about where their little angel will go. Many parents are considering making that flight from the nest a quick hop to the kitchen table. Are you one of those parents? Are you thinking about homeschooling? If you are, you have many questions. Over the years, there has been a huge increase in the number of companies, programs and websites (including Catholic Exchange) there to help you out.

Our own decision to homeschool, now over 12 years ago, was made in the spur of the moment. We could no longer afford our local parochial school due to my husband’s recent job loss and our local public school was not even an option. What do we do? When approached by a local Catholic family about homeschooling our first thought was “Do Catholics do that?” When assured that they do, we did not hesitate to join in but did so more as lemmings than as thoughtful parents. We ran, as it were, into the ocean and it was only by God’s grace that we didn’t drown. We did not ask enough questions as we started and our first year was not as easy as it could have been. Our first student, our oldest daughter was spared any lasting damage due to the fact that we were only doing first grade. In an attempt to help prevent a false start to what will probably be the best adventure your family will ever have here is some basic information.

Who is doing it? Every religion, race and income level is homeschooling - the rich and famous, and low-income anonymous, from senators and movie stars to carpenters and car mechanics. Parents in every walk of life have decided that their children’s education is too important to hand off to anyone else.

Why would you want to? The pioneers in homeschooling may have felt that homeschooling as their only choice for their children. However, many parents deciding to homeschool today have made it their first choice; some with children still too young to even attend school. Moreover, parents who continue to homeschool child after child, year after year do so because they know it the best choice for their family.

Homeschooling gives a family freedom, flexibility and autonomy that no other education system can. Homeschooling parents and their children will talk about fine-tuning their programs to fit their unique family situation or individual child’s needs. A school board does not decide a homeschooling family’s calendar so the curriculum can vary from child to child, year to year. It is school in pajamas and field trips every week. It is involvement in local theater groups and reading every book out loud. It is the friendships that develop within the home and across the country. It is toddlers under foot and teenagers helping teach their younger sibling how to read. You can make daily Mass, First Fridays, enjoy prayer before school and during school. Discussions about God are not forbidden but encouraged and there is no concern about separation between church and state because there can be no dividing a family from its faith. Every homeschooling family will give you a unique reason why they homeschool but the common thread through each family is love for their child.

Deciding to homeschool your child is hard. While some families do, it from the start others may decide to later in, their child’s schooling because of bad experiences, difficult schooling situations or at the child’s request. More and more families decide to begin during the socially awkward middle school years or in high school when a good high school just is not available.

However, being a Catholic homeschooler is not as hard as it once was or is it seen as anything too odd. While parents, friend and neighbors might be surprised by your decision to do it, they will not say as many once did, “Is that legal?” If is announced today, while they might not fully support you, they have surely heard of it.

How do you even get started? Once the decision is made to do it, the work really begins. Every state has their own regulations. Contacting your local school board or the Home School Legal Defense Assoc. is the first step to get the information you need to get started. Once clear on the local requirements, you then get to decide on the very unique way your family will homeschool.

School at home can come from a box with detailed lesson plans, deadlines for work and consultants or advisors at the other end of a telephone line for assistance. Programs like this include Mother of Divine Grace, Seton Home School or Kolbe Academy. For other families school takes place in front of the computer with lessons sent for each child and work accomplished throughout the week or day and then sent back. On-line courses can come from Angelicum Academy or secular programs such as K12. There are the families who pick and choose from a variety of curriculum providers, too many to even list, to create their own packages while some just pick and choose from the local library. Then there are the families who do some of everything listed above depending on the child and their needs and skills.

There are as many ways to homeschool your Catholic family as there are Catholic families. Embracing your role as the primary and sole educator of your family allows you to choose what type of program fits your needs best. This is important to remember because you want to avoid anyone who would tell you what you must do in order to be a ‘good’ Catholic.

The decision on how to homeschool, within local requirements, remains up to you as parents. You will begin to read, investigate and talk to other homeschooler, your local librarians and God. Remembering to place Him first in your home school is vital to its success and survival.

Does it work? Absolutely! If your family is called to homeschool and you do it with conviction, planning and commitment, your children and family will thrive. Home schooled children are successful in their endeavors winning national competitions such as the National Scripps Spelling Bee and National Geographic Geography Bee. Homeschool students have won admission to such academic powerhouses as Yale and Harvard and spots at the Naval Academy and West Point. They are impressive on standardized tests and in essay contests across the nation. Even more impressive is that, more often than not, their homeschool experience has formed them into young adults who love the Church, learning and their families. They head out of the house for colleges, vocational schools or right into jobs with a formation that cannot be duplicated in any other setting. By God’s inspiration, most Catholic homeschool parents are as concerned about forming saints as much as they are in forming scholars.

If you are considering homeschooling your family, pray about how you envision your new roles as both parent and teachers. How you have seen your child succeed and what causes them frustration? What did you, yourself like about school? Don’t think about homeschooling them forever, just for this year. Creating small, reachable goals is necessary as is daily prayer and a good sense of humor. Investigate if there are other homeschoolers in your area and parish. A quick call to the rectory and visit to your local library will let you know. Finding some support, either locally or through the Internet will make a world of difference for the parents and the child.

Making the decision to homeschool is rarely easy but be assured that you are not the first family to do so and will surely not be the last. You may feel as if you don’t have a clue what you are doing but even veterans can feel the same way. We get comfort from remembering that if God has called us to homeschool, we can rely on His grace to do so. We stand strong in the knowledge that God always knows what He is doing, all the time, even when we don’t.