Friday, March 28, 2008

Playing around, praying hard and blessed by honesty...

My kiddos invented a fun game, "Boo", similar to "Hide and Seek", but in the dark. I hear lots of screaming and laughing downstairs. I can hear my husband playing his guitar from two floors down. It was, all in all, a good week. As I was rinsing the dishes this evening, I had a little inspiration to change my learning notes into "highlights," at least during Eastertide. It is the "Great Sunday", a time for joy and light, love and celebration. I was following, to some extent, the wonderful back and forth prompted in the blogosphere by this post by Melissa Wiley, called "Every Face I Look at Seems Beautiful". It reminded me of a wonderful thing that was said in a homily recently by our good and loving Fr. Mike. He said that to be holy is, above all, to be honest.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lovely Easter link....

I got this lovely art work from Catholic Culture (click here for the link). He is risen! Alleluia!

JB, J and I will get back to Our Roman Roots tomorrow. I hope to color eggs for an Easter season egg tree. I have always wanted to spray paint a branch from the yard and use some nice ribbon.

I am a real crafter wanna-be.

May all of us be blessed these 5o days.

Blustery and cold in Georgia

After taking Holy Week off, we are about at half mast today. It was so cold here. JB is loading up her guitar for her music lesson later. I have corned beef in the crock pot. We were very blessed last week with a retreat for the girls and the quiet and time to reflect on Christ's Passion.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mercy and Absolutism and Getting T.V.

Very oddly and beautifully, a person with absolute faith in Mother Church -- her reasonable precepts, teachings and sanctioned devotions -- is also a person of mercy. Mercy and deep and loving absolutism are like the two strands of the DNA molecule, with actual graces being the rungs of the ladder. People who have no notion of first and last principles tend to be rigorous and, in general, lacking in forgiveness. While my sanguine temperament protected me, during my many days as a secular liberal, from petty judgementalism, I'd swing in the direction of "go along to get along," a permissiveness that has little to do with true and abiding mercy.

I got to thinking about all of this because I am getting ready to make the call to our local cable television distributor to install cable t.v. in our family room and basement living/family room. I absolutely believe that exposure to inappropriate media tears at the soul in the same way that any inappropriate/sinful experience does. Even wholesome t.v. can be a temptation when it distracts and diverts from what we really ought to be doing.

With that in mind, because we cannot , at the outset, refuse to pay our provider for stations/networks we object to, we will, then, with the new technology (It is new to me.), block the stations/networks that we would never pay for, if we had the choice. I know our good Lord is calling me to advocate more as a consumer of media. I see this as an opportunity to exercise Christian discipline and virtue. The virtues are not acquired if they are not exercised.

So, here we go. Domine, quo vadis? Dear Lord Jesus, I hope we are with You, as we make this choice for our family. Amen.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Holy Week is around the corner.

Just before Ash Wednesday, the thought crossed my mind that we could try a Lenten custom that I read about in Susie Lloyd's funny and inspiring book, Don't Drink the Holy Water. They only watch religious videos during Lent. Now, we cut the cable tv long ago, and are very particular about our media intake. We watch alot of movies about the saints, and the kids loved all the ***CCC videos when they were little.

Better still, would be complete fast from tv shows and film. You could play board games, put good radio on, have evening family read-alouds, sing, have people over for dinner, dance, play guitar, or cook or craft. All of these things (except the radio listening) we do regularly. We still split off, however, in an "every man for himself" mode a bit too much. The whole media fast problem is that we almost always have sickness this time of year and "screen time", as I've seen several moms call it, helps to get through colds and flu.

I see myself as the heart of the home and try to reflect on these things so as to tweak our family life. Over the years, and especially during the blessed time that is Lent, we have, through actions both sudden and gradual, grown closer to our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary and each other. Advent, likewise, is a special time around here. Fasting, praying, and giving are emphasized during these seasons all of which could be summed up in the word preparation. We prepare to love and for Love. Jesus is Love and wants us to be ready to receive His Incarnation and Passion as the pure gifts that they are.

learning notes: ***J would love some of those CCC videos. Last week, I was happy to see the girls working together on a movie script they wrote and played out. Notebooking is going well for J and JB. I need to get my seasonal binder done, and M needs to write more. Mens sana in corpore sano./A sound mind in a sound body. was our quote for the day in Latin. J did muscles (we thought of making a tricep with a rubber band, but didn't...) and JB did the nervous system. I need to finish The Joyful Mysteries of Life w/JB. I plan to take a teacher work day away from the house soon and consult my three main sources for grade-level objectives and skills: MODG, the Core Knowledge Series and CHC. I do not blog much on our love of art and music because it is so effortless. With spring around the corner, we'll get out our sketchbooks and nature journals. Also, I want to close the year with a scroll-style history timeline that we do as a family.

J is in heaven 'cause he gets to work at home tomorrow with Dad. We girls are off to Cumming tomorrow for Challenge. St. Gemma Galgani, pray for us!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Giving Jesus Monday

I have always had trouble with Monday mornings, mainly because we have just gotten used to Dad being home and synched in and then off he goes for nearly 12 hours. So, several months back, I signed us up for 10am Monday Adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I cannot say I felt much consolation this morning;but, later today, when I looked back at all of our little accomplishments: J and JB helped sick sister M, J and I read about Ancient Rome, JB did her spelling and beautiful cursive, some outdoor/fresh air time, lots of laundry and housework, phone calls, emails, singing, dancing, guitar lesson, play time, dog, cat and guinea pig time, Rosary prayed and three home-cooked meals...well, we were blessed. Our Lord blesses our efforts, no matter the degree of hesitation with which they are offered.
learning notes: we need to post our cool math books for artsy types, get those pics up, plan activities for St. Patrick and, esp., St. Joseph. I want to transplant mini-Christmas tree in kitchen. Do another construction paper body part, like last week's cool tongue. M's 12th bday is around the corner in May. St. Edmund Campion, pray for us!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Celebrating Sunday!

I was making baked potatoes in our microwave, and it broke! So, our Sunday lunch will be a Sunday supper. This is my one day to put sugar in my coffee. I make a latte with microwaved milk and sprinkle yummy brown sugar crystals on the frothy milk. Oh, it is the little things that can get us!

This week, I re-discovered a beautiful website to help enhance our knowledge and practice of the liturgy, both at Mass and at home -- Catholic Culture (click here). JB and I are trying to get J, Dad and Mags to pose for updated pics on this blog. We are on the last leg of rehearsals for Alice in Wonderland and Tom Sawyer, which our homeschool coop parent teams are producing. I am loving my new role as Team Mom for girls' Challenge, a Catholic apostolate of the fruitful movement Regnum Christi. Four years ago, when I was the mother of a 2, 5 and 7 year old, I joined Familia (also a RC apostolate) at our parish for bi-monthly prayer, study of the Cathechism, the Sunday Gospels and fellowship. Since then, we have had many "Familia babies" -- Alleluia! And, I see our participation in Challenge as a natural and blessed fruit of those years of prayer and friendship.

Lent feels really long this year. Like all the young people around me, I have spring fever, big time! May we all stay blessed! May we show the world the beauty and power of the Resurrection by our experience of the little, daily blessings, as well as the wider issues that surround us.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Funny coincidence with St. Basil quote

The NFW (Natural Food Warehouse) down the street from us sells the yummiest raspberry poptarts. Like Celestial Seasonings tea boxes, there was a quote on our poptart box, which I tore off just after I had picked up the book on the Church Fathers. I told JB I'd post it:

A tree is known by its fruit:
a man by his deeds.
A good deed is never lost;
he who sows courtesy reaps friendship,
and he who plants kindness gathers love.

--St. Basil (329-379 AD)

Potential versus Progress

Are we asking God for the graces we need to tap in to our potential as His holy servants? Lent: Pray = good morning prayer with St. Casimir and daily Mass, Fast = Mom fasted from her common tendency to get distracted from her duty to manage household properly. Give = here at home and outside the home...we all need to work harder to do a little every day in our home, while also setting aside time and energy to give to others. Let's give more effort to our community involvements (various: our neighborhood, friends and family near and far, Challenge, our parish, TORCH, BSA).

Scientia potestas est. "Knowledge is power." This was our Latin quote for the day. I was taken back to all that literary deconstructionist jargon of my college days. How beautiful to be a Catholic and to no longer be saddled with all the immediacies of Marxist, feminist literary criticism and its companion ideologies. Whew! How I hungered and thirsted for truth in those days and was so impressed, and so often misguided, by my instructors and professors in the ivy league.

Dr. James Leek, who wrote Our Roman Roots, commented in the teacher's manuel that "Knowledge is power" could be a dangerous maxim. So true! Why? As happens often in my discussions with children, we came up with a short "answer" to a social ill: Our Lord does not need a microscope to see a molecule. He created everything from nothing! The pride of our modern, and post-modern, scientists and social scientists is so evident from the perspective of faith. Faith is potentially the freedom from the burden of sin. Grace is power. I am new to Latin, but I think that this might be expressed, Gratia potestas est. We will be buying a Latin dictionary soon.

Learning notes: It is nice to make some progress. Like many educators, I am sometimes frustrated when I see the untapped potential of one of my scholars. As their mother and primary educator, the untapped potential of the person relates to the whole person, not just to the scholar as scholar. Academic pursuits are part of a larger vocation. It is hard for me to manage the entire range of my children's daily duties. I try to pay particular attention to their personal habits, as so many youth, at present, have atrocious personal habits. Sin and sinning are deeply ingrained in our nature and manifest in habits both large and small. Our God-given temperaments are such gifts, and we must see ourselves as created good by a good God, while, at the same time, we all wrestle with our sinful nature, a consequence of that first fall of mankind. I think it was Cathy Duffy (others too, probably) who called homeschooled children "hothouse flowers". We are not truly in that category, as we have been in and out of both private and public schools. No matter where a family has been with regards to education, grace can perfect nature. Grace is so powerful. We need to ask our Lord to bless the little knowledge we have and to direct it to His Will.

This is countercultural. The modern (post modern) media often desires idolatry, particularly the idolatry of self. Toward what are we progressing? Is God's Love our ultimate goal? Do we desire, with all of our heart, to bring others into Christ's Kingdom? He wants us to live in His Kingdom now, as a foretaste of the eternal beatitude we will experience with Him in Heaven. Dear children of mine, you are heirs to life and love now. Do not miss even the smallest opportunity to grow in union with our Savior. Peace.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Reading Mark Shea on paganism and the Fathers of the Church

I just plucked this book off a shelf in our family library. Earlier this afternoon, I read the latest column by Mark Shea in The National Catholic Register on paganism. Very interesting and challenging. As we pray this Lent --and fast and give-- may the beauty of our faith and culture enflame the hearts of men!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Soul cleaning, house cleaning

JB and I went to Confession this morning; and then, we came home and all of us did some needed house cleaning/yard work. The weather was fair and lovely here, and we enjoyed ourselves out on the deck for a while. My husband and I have a babysitter coming soon, so that we can go out on a date. May our Guardian Angels guide us as parents. With just about 12 weeks left in the academic year, I hope we can inspire our young scholars to learning that is wholehearted and oriented toward growing in holiness. Our scholars are rising 2nd, rising 5th, and rising 8/9th. This is a general indication of their progress, as each scholar works on different grade levels in different areas. Our J, for example, would be given an A in art by a 4th grade teacher. JB reads and writes at least one grade level above her age. M worked ahead in science and math. This is one of the biggest gifts of home education -- that the young can follow their God-given talents when they are most alert. This happens in good schools too. It is not an "either...or".
Learning notes: When I plan things without everyone on board, we are weaker in our resolve. Family meetings work great for us. We need to have more of them. I'd also like to propose we create a fairly large-sized prayer journal to use during our evening family prayer times. Nemo liber est qui corpori servit (No one is free who is a slave to his body.)was the maxim for our 2nd Latin lesson.