Monday, June 30, 2008

The Micah Project

A while back, my husband's aunt gave us a set of DVDs by Michael Cumbie as a gift. Last night we finally got around to watching the first of them. Michael is a very entertaining and passionate convert to Catholicism. He used to be an Evangelical Protestant Minister. We watched his conversion story where he tells how he was brought back to the faith through the study of the early church fathers and the Eucharist (works every time!).

He has a vision for himself and others of evangelizing Catholics and Protestants alike which he calls the Micah Project (after the prophet Micah - who was a prophet to both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel). I found it interesting that we watched this now, when I have been reading so many things that are saying the same thing that he was saying: that America is headed for disaster unless we, the Christians, do something about it. In his case, he was saying that we need to educate both Catholics and Protestants about the true church that Jesus founded - the Catholic Church - and that in order to save our country, we need to unite together under the Eucharist. This is very similar to what Mark Mallet has been talking about for awhile now. If you have an interest in this topic of the unification of Christians, I would definitely recommend checking Mr. Cumbie out.

I would like to share with you an example he gave in this talk that I had never heard before and found quite compelling. He was discussing how his Protestant brethren could not believe that he had come to believe that mere bread and wine were actually changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, even though it still looked like bread and wine. He would tell them, yes, he did in fact believe in this miracle, even though he did not understand it and could not prove it. He went on to talk about how Protestants have no problem believing that a person who does not believe in Jesus Christ can have an encounter with the Holy Spirit that completely changes that person's heart and makes a believer out of him. Even though the person looks the same on the outside - he still looks like the same old person he always was - they believe it possible for a miracle to have taken place within that person that changed his heart and made him into something new. So, Michael will point out to them, if that can happen to any ordinary man, why can it not happen with some bread, wine and Jesus himself?

I would like to try this example out on someone who is Protestant and see if it makes as much sense to them as it does to me. If anyone has ever used it before, I would love to hear what the outcome was.

God Bless!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chicken Parmesan

Greeting fair people! This is the Crown Princess, guest posting for her lovely Queen Mother, who is, alas, unavailable to give thee this Saturdays delicious recipe. So! I take it upon mine self to step forward and attempt to fill the void her highness's absence hath created. (In other words I am posting yon recipe for her.)

Ye olde chicken recipe is one that we living in the royal palace have made several times before and all love! The combination of herbs, spices, along with plenty of cheese, has made this a favorite. Perfect for any summer time event, 'tis easy to prepare and can be readily doubled or tripled to fit the size of thine crowd. Enjoy!

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Dip chicken in butter and then into herb and cheese mixture. Place in a greased 15-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is tender and juices run clear.
Yield: 6 servings.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Seeing God

I thought I would share a rather funny story that I heard about my brother-in-law and my nephew (who is 2 1/2 years old). Last week they were walking through their church on the way to talk to the secretary about my niece going there for pre-school in the fall. As they were walking down the hall, the conversation went something like this:

Nephew: Dad, I just saw God.
Brother-in-law: You did? Where?
N: Right there, He went around the corner.
BIL: Okay. (At this point they turned the corner and saw the priest, with white hair and a white beard, wearing a white vestment, in the hallway.)
BIL: Hey, do you want to go talk to him?
N: Only if you hold me! (They proceed to walk up to the priest and have a conversation. The priest asks him about the boo-boo on his forehead and N explains that he fell. They then walk away).
BIL: (N is in the process of being potty trained) N, do you have to go to the bathroom.
N: I already did.
BIL: When did you go?
N: When I saw God.

I personally think that my nephew just experienced something we might all experience when we see God face to face!!

The next day N told his mom that the boo-boo on his forehead was all better because God healed it. Oh, that we could all have the faith and simplicity of a child (as long as we can retain our bladder control!)

God Bless!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Tree That Yields Bad Fruit

I came across an interesting section in my "In Conversation with God" book this morning. The author was discussing the tree that yields good fruit vs. the tree that yields bad fruit. When speaking of the tree that yields bad fruit, he says,

"A State from which religion is banished can never be well-regulated. In it the phenomenon of laicism appears, with the desire of supplanting the honor due to God. A system of morality based on transcendent principles is replaced by the merely human ideals and norms of conduct. These inevitably end up as less than human. God and the Church become purely internal matters of conscience and the Church and the Pope are subjected to aggressive attacks, either directly or indirectly, through persons or institutions unfaithful to the Magisterium.

Not infrequently as a result of laicism the individual citizen, the life of the family, and the commonwealth as a whole are all removed from the beneficent and wholesome influence of God and of his Church. Then, day by day, the symbols and symptoms of those errors which corrupted the heathens of old, declare themselves more plainly and more lamentably. And all this in parts of the world where the light of Christian civilization has shone for centuries." (vol. 3 p. 662)

It sure sounds like the world we are living in today, doesn't it? So what are we to do? I find that it can be so easy to despair at times because things just seem to be getting worse and the trials are longer and harder to deal with. I know that we are to have hope and that in order to maintain that hope we have to keep up a strong prayer life and have frequent recourse to the sacraments. The author also says that

"...we Christians must respond generously to the call we have received from God to be salt and light wherever we may be, however limited might appear the field of activity in which we live our lives. We must show by our deeds that the world is more human, more cheerful, more honest, cleaner, the closer it is to God." (p. 663)

I believe we can also take heed the warning by Dr. DeMille that we must teach our children to become the future leaders of our country - people who will lead their small or large corner of the world with faith and morals.

God Bless!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More on Our Big City Wanderings

In our wanderings around the Big City this past weekend, we wnet into a beautiful old building that had "Chicago Public Library" engraved on the front of it. My daughter, being the incredibly voracious reader that she is, wanted to walk about the library and admire the huge number of books. So, while we were trying to find our way into the library, we admired the old building and wandered up to the fourth floor where we heard the incredible voices of the Chicago Children's Choir. From the sound coming out, we expected to find at least 100 youth in the room. To our surprise, we found about 40. It sounded heavenly - another one of those respites from all the other noise of the city. On our way out, we noticed these engravings on the walls of the building. I share them here because they fit with last week's discussions on reading and learning.

Still not having found any books, we went back downstairs to the information booth where I asked a kindly older gentleman how to get into the library. It was at this point that he tried, to his credit, not to laugh as he said that the library wasn't located at this spot. The city had outgrown it and moved a few blocks away. "Oh, when did that happen?" I asked. He replied, "Oh, about 1975." Oh well, a dose of humility is good for everyone, isn't it??? Shouldn't someone remove the name from the front of the building so as not to confuse other innocent tourists?
God Bless!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Day in the Big City

This past Saturday we took my oldest daughter to the "Big City" for the day. We had promised this to her for her 16th birthday, it just took awhile for the weather to cooperate. We're glad we waited, it was a beautiful day. Though I love the peace and quiet of the country, there is something that always intrigues me about going into the City. I think it is because it is so diverse, both in people and in architecture. There is so much to look at and see. The new things (some of which you can't even begin to figure out),

and the old,
I also love the fact that the city is right on Lake Michigan, as I love being near water.

As I said, the weather was gorgeous and we enjoyed walking and looking at all the people.

After awhile, however, I began to think about the people who spend a lot of their time immersed in the city life. How hard is it to find quiet? What kind of effort do they have to put forth to spend down time in conversation with God? How many of them choose to live there so that, whether consciously or unconsciously, they avoid God? Well, on our walk back, we found an oasis: a Pauline Media bookstore. Right smack in the middle of all the noise, the Lord led us to a quiet spot. In the back of the store there was even a small chapel with a tabernacle.

Just what we needed to refresh our spirits and to thank God for the wonderful weather and all the neat things we had seen and done.

God Bless!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hot Dog Casserole

Here is a recipe that makes good use of hot dogs. Most of the time the kids just pick out the hot dogs and eat them, but my husband and I like it. We went through an interesting period where I would have this dish on the schedule for dinner and the electricity would go out just before I would make it. This happened about three times in a row. Now when I make it, I hold my breath. This recipe feeds our family of nine with nothing left over. I have found it works best to cook the rice first and then mix it in with the other ingredients.

God Bless!

P.S. Happy first day of summer!


1 tbls vegetable oil
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 medium green pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
10 beef hot dogs cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 1/2 Cups instant rice - cooked following package directions
1/2 c vegetable broth
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark molasses
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Heat oil in pan over medium high heat until hot. Add onion, pepper and garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes or until onion is tender. Add beans, hot dogs, cooked rice, broth, ketchup, sugar, molasses and mustard to vegetables; stir to combine. Pour into prepared dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Few More Thoughts

Just some end of the week ramblings. I found it interesting that this morning we got an email advertising an old book that is back in print called "The Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States". The advertisement says that it is a book that the ACLU hates because it makes a very lengthy case for the fact that America was founded on Christian principles. In the same email there were advertisements for Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary, The Blue Back Speller and The New England Primer; all books used by our Founding Fathers. I found this a very timely email because of all of the reading I have been doing about having immersing ourselves in the classics. I love it when things like this happens. I tend to look upon it as a smile from God that I am going in a direction that He wants me to go. Now if I can just get the money to buy all of these great books.....

Also, a few weeks ago the kids and I sat down to discuss summertime. Last summer I had the intention of trying to carry on with just a tiny bit of school to keep us in the swing of things. I think I made it about 2 weeks before we all fizzled out and got carried away with other stuff. When we had our meeting we agreed that we would try to do some writing and maybe a fun unit study. Well, since then the writing hasn't gone very far but we did start our reading on the history of alcohol. I have also been reading aloud parts of "A Thomas Jefferson Education" to them so that they might also be inspired to try studying something on their own. While the next two weeks happen to be filled with various camps, I am hoping that in July we can each find a new topic to immerse ourselves in so that my family can begin to quit depending on videos and internet usage to keep them "entertained". I am beginning to think that changing our thinking about how we deserve to have entertainment every day is going to be like kicking a drug habit. May we have the grace to persevere!

God Bless!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Thomas Jefferson Education - Part IV

Today's post is taken from the companion book to the TJed book I have been talking about. It is called "A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion" by Oliver and Rachel DeMille and Diann Jeppson. In an essay entitled "Attention Span: Our National Education Crisis", Oliver discusses the fact that Americans today have very short attention spans. All of the information we want to get has to come to us in very short "sound bites" as he calls them. We have been so used to watching TV and surfing the net for our information that we have gotten away from sitting at a task for very long periods of time.

I know that to be true for myself. If I can't read something in a few minutes and get out what I need, I tend to pass it by. I have definitely fallen prey to this problem and I see the effects of it in my children, too. That is why they all hate math: it is difficult and you have to sit there for a long time sometimes in order to get it done. They would rather look at the problem, realize they don't understand it, ask me to help them (which usually means that I end up solving it for them) and be done rather than take the time to look back in the book in order to relearn the parts that they don't understand and figure it out for themselves.

That is the whole point that Mr. DeMille is trying to make. He makes the statement that, "a person lacking attention span must either develop it or he will not become educated, and a nation without attention span - and by extension, education - must either gain it or lose its freedoms." (p. 137) A pretty strong statement as to what our country could be in for if we do not learn how to buckle down and stick with hard task of really learning.

In the rest of the essay he states how "the medium of the electronic screen teaches at least five deadly fallacies about education, and consequently freedom:

1. Learning must be fun
2. Good teaching is entertaining
3. Book, texts and materials should be simple and understandable
4. "Balance" means balancing work with entertainment
5. Opinions matter (pp. 139-143)

Remember that the above are all errors, and Mr. DeMille does a great job at explaining just why he thinks they all are. I like the statement he makes during one of his explanations: "I am not saying that everything that is hard has value, but I am saying that most things of value are hard." (p.141)

I've been reading this essay to my kids and we have been having some interesting discussions. Hopefully all of this will help us to transform the learning in our home into something that we can all be excited about and remember as something we all enjoyed doing together.

God Bless!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Thomas Jefferson Education - Part III

My heart really sank when I read this list of negative traits that occur in students who are forced to learn something. I noticed far too many of them in a lot of my children. Here goes, hope you do better than I did:

When forced to learn, the author says, children will:
~ Do the bare minimum
~ Learn that learning means pleasing the authority figure
~ Learn that learning, schooling and studying are no fun
~ Learn that playing is when you don't have to learn
~ Think that to be a good student they have to study somebody else's interests
~ Think that their own interests must be pursued on their own time and that they aren't as valuable as the accepted topics of study
~ Realize that if nobody is making them study, they would rather be entertained than learn

Instead, Mr. Van DeMille suggests that we should redo our methods of teaching so that we can inspire our children to learn things that interest them and then they will actually learn more. Here is his list of lessons learned by the person who is inspired to get a great education:

~ There is so much to learn and it is so exciting
~ Learning is more fun than almost anything
~ I can learn on my own, in a group, or with help from a teacher or parent
~ All I need is a book and I can learn
~ In fact, I can learn even without a book
~ I love learning!
~ If I do more than is assigned, I'll learn more and have more fun.
~ My thoughts and ideas are as valuable as anybody else's. (pp. 42-43)

I would love to have my children think that learning is fun on a REGULAR basis, not just once in awhile. I can say that since we have been doing more unit studies and have moved away from the workbook approach, I am seeing a bit more enthusiasm. I am finding that it is hard at this point to keep them motivated to seek out learning. If they happen to stumble across it, that seems to be okay, but not too many of them are actively seeking out learning situations. There have been many years of bad habits, so I guess I cannot expect them to disappear instantly.

Tomorrow I would like to summarize for you the five falsehoods that the author sees in our country regarding education. He believes that they have been brought about by the fact that American's have been moving away from books and getting most of their learning from TV and the internet. It is a fascinating essay!

God Bless!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Thomas Jefferson Education - Part II

One of the parts of this book that I found very intriguing was when the author, Oliver Van DeMille, discussed the most common type of education in America today. He termed it the "conveyor belt method". See if this sounds familiar:

"Most public schools use what I call the "Soviet conveyor belt method. They are set up like a factory: everyone in the class gets the same education at the same age from the same textbooks and they are tested the same and graded based upon the same scale regardless of their individual interests, talents or goals.

In this system you go down the factory line, first grade, second grade, third grade, with a factory worker at each station, being assembled with certain parts (the curriculum) at a certain point in a certain way from a common book or manual. Of course, all of the products (students) are fitted with the same parts (called "education") as everyone else on the conveyor belt. When you finish the twelfth grade, you get a stamp (diploma) on your forehead signifying that you are a finished product ready to be sold to the job market.

The Soviet part of it is that standards and grade levels are set at a low enough level that virtually everyone can get through and be a finished product. What happens if you try to get ahead? A factory worker moves you back into place. What happens if you get behind? A "special" worker pulls you up to speed." (p. 25)

I know that this is the kind of education I received. I definitely was taught well how to play the game. You did your work, spit it back on the test, got good grades and never really asked too many questions. I was one of those students who really didn't care why I was learning something, I just wanted to learn it well enough to get a good grade on the test. I remember trying to help my brother with Algebra and he kept asking me why I was doing what I was doing. My response was, "I don't know, this is just what you are supposed to do!" Needless to say, he never really did well with math because there was no one there to take the time to explain the "why" to him.

Unfortunately, since I was schooled in this type of system, this was all I knew. When it came time to begin homeschooling my own children, I looked to the only model I had and set up the public school in my own home. It worked for a while, but as I added more children to our school, I began to see the flaws in the system and that is when I began my quest for the something better that I knew had to be out there.

Tomorrow I'd like to share with you a section on what happens when you require and not inspire your children to learn.

God Bless!

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Thomas Jefferson Education

A friend of mine came across a treasure of a book at our homeschool conference in May and let me take a peek at it a few weeks ago. I was so impressed with the little I saw that I ordered my own copy so I could highlight and mark it up as I pleased. The book I am referring to is called "A Thomas Jefferson Education" by Oliver Van DeMille. I have read the entire book already and am in the process of reading the companion book to it that kind of ties it all together. This book puts a name to the vision I have had for our homeschool for a very long time.

I have spent some time here discussing unit studies and how I think it has brought a lot more love of learning into our home. However, I have still had this desire to see us spending most of our days learning things as we come about them in life, or by studying things in a more natural way. Unit studies are definitely a step in this direction, and I believe that the Lord has led me on this path for a specific reason. After reading "A Thomas Jefferson Education", though, I can see that other people out there have had this vision of learning and have, in fact, been pursuing it since before the founding of our country.

The book discusses learning through the method of reading the classics and having a good mentoring relationship. Apparently this is how most of the founding fathers of our country all learned. The author of the book calls it Leadership Education and says that if America doesn't embrace this method of education soon, our country will inevitably fail. I think if we take a look at the overall "health" of our country right now, it is not too hard to imagine this failure.

As with a lot of things, I seem to come across some life changing bit of information after some of my children are past the point of benefiting from it. This book would be an absolute treasure for someone whose children are young. The author makes a good argument, however, that it is never too late to adopt this method of learning. In fact, he states that it has to start with the parents. They are the most likely first mentors of their children, so it is up to them to begin to dive into the classics and start learning, and all the while setting a good example for their children. This gives me hope that even my older children can still benefit from the educational model laid out in this book.

I hope to be able to share some of the things that I found very interesting in this book over the next few posts. I am also planning on adding a page to my website about it, with a link to where you can order it from. Not sure when that will happen, though... In the meantime, keep checking back here for more insight into this incredibly intriguing way of learning!

God Bless!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Banana Split Dessert

Here is a great recipe for the summertime weather!

1 c milk chocolate chips
1/2 c butter
2 c confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 c milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 - 2 c crushed graham crackers
5 bananas sliced
1/2 gallon ice cream - neapolitan or any flavor
1 c heavy cream, whipped
chopped nuts for garnish

In a heavy saucepan, melt together chocolate chips and butter; add sugar and milk. Cook at a heavy boil for 8 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and cool. Cover bottom of 9x13 pan with graham cracker crumbs. Cover with sliced bananas. Slice ice cream and place over bananas. Cover with cooled chocolate sauce. Freeze. Serve with whipped heavy cream and sprinkle nuts on top. Yield: 12 to 16 servings

Friday, June 13, 2008

When Plans Change

I have spent this past week trying to get ready for a big garage sale that the towns around my parent's home are having. All week we have been going through every room in our home and pulling out stuff that hasn't seen the light of day in the past year (or in some cases, up to five years). Yesterday we cleaned it all up, priced it and stuffed it all into the back of our big blue van. Even though they take a lot of effort, I do like garage sales. I like browsing them and even having one now and then (although most of the stuff ends up being donated anyway!!).

After a night of storms, it looked as if the rain was going to hold up today, so we were all eagerly anticipating getting out there and having some fun when I did something utterly silly: I bent over and tried to pick up a piece of paper off the floor. At that moment, the pain that shot through my back brought me to my knees and I had to crawl to the bed in order to try to stand up. Now, nothing like this has EVER happened to me before. My husband has this happen to him a couple of times a year, so I knew what to do immediately. Needless to say, our garage sale expedition was brought to a complete halt.

So here I sit, in my few moments of sitting before I go back to lying flat on my back, trying to take some good advice I got from a reader about what all of this means. My first response typically would have been something to the effect of, "Gee, I wonder why God didn't want me to sell my stuff and make some extra money to pay some bills" or "I thought I was trying to do the right thing by simplifying my life and ridding our house of unnecessary items". Instead I am trying to focus on just what it is God wants me to do with the current situation. I am also trying to live in the present moment and not thinking about what this means for our plans this weekend. I do have to say that it has brought out the best in my children. They have been waiting on me hand and foot, helping me to walk when I need to, driving me to the chiropractor, making lunch and taking over potty training our stubborn little three year old. It is moments like this when I get to see that they really have been listening to me all these years. Thanks, kids! Given what I know of myself, I only hope that I can maintain a peaceful attitude throughout this entire ordeal, and not just for a little while.

God Bless!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

On Dealing with Others

One day I was having a particularly hard day dealing with my children. Maybe you can after day of children who want to argue with you about everything and don't do what it is you tell them to do. Well, I had had enough so I left and went to spend some time in adoration. When I got there, there was a book called "Before the Altar". This book was written in 1903 and 04 by Concepcion Cabrera De Armida. Concepcion was a mystic and a mother of nine. She was born in 1862 in Mexico. She was declared venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1999.

I sat down with the book and decided to open it up and see what the Lord might be trying to tell me. The first entry I opened to was this, which I immediately copied down and would like to share with you today. Maybe it will help someone else who is struggling, too. Our Lord said to Concepcion:

"I will explain to you the way to win souls...I never exaggerated the importance of those faults which were not due to malice, but usually to inexperience or to inculpable ignorance. I studied the different characters and adapted myself to them, leaving the grace of the Holy Spirit to act in them more or less slowly. I won souls more easily by gentleness of speech than by bitter reproaches. He sees his faults much better who considers the beauties of virtue set before his eyes, rather than the ugliness of the defects alleged of him. It is in this way that the wounds of the soul are healed by meekness and patience.

Never show annoyance to those under your direction. It would be a serious error to insist upon all being equally perfect. Shut your eyes to the weaknesses of the beginner. Come to his assistance and fortify him with good advice.

Never find fault with your brother in public and never take advantage of his kindness. Remember that people are won over more by honey than by vinegar. Never lay the blame for anything on your neighbor, but rather on yourself.

Derive from your prayers and meditations the gentleness which will make your heart like unto mine."

Needless to say, I took this all to heart and try to reread it quite frequently as it is full of things that I definitely need to remember. Concepcion then added her own prayer back to the Lord which was this:

"How much I would love to imitate you, O Jesus, and stop giving rude answers or showing bitterness in my speech, and giving up any tone of superiority in talking to others."

A prayer that I can definitely call my own!

God Bless!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Sedentary Lifestyle?

The other day I had to visit the doctor for a check up. Since I have a history of hernias (in fact the one surgeon told me that my abdominal muscles are shot) the doctor was asking me what type of activities I was doing; i.e. any heavy lifting, shoveling, etc. I said no that I wasn't doing any of that. Her response was, "So then you lead more of a sedentary lifestyle?" I can't even begin to imagine what kind of look I had on my face when she asked me that. How, I wondered later, can you ask a mother of seven children if she leads a sedentary lifestyle? If my life (or any mother with a family) is sedentary, then what is active? Or even moderately active? I really did not know what to say to her, so she moved on to other questions Since then, however, I have spent more time thinking about that.

Why is it that cleaning up the house all day long, doing chores, making three meals a day, chasing after kids, refereeing fights, working out in the yard, running errands, doing the shopping, and basically keeping up with seven children and a husband does not make me an athlete? I've always wondered why homeschooling mothers aren't the skinniest people on the face of the earth. Our kids are always with us, so its not like we can sit around, eat Bon Bons and read a good book all day. For all of the work and activities I do everyday, how come I'm not in great physical shape. There are many days that go by that I don't even really get to sit down and relax. Most nights I crawl into bed totally exhausted. How come I can't run a marathon yet???? It just doesn't seem fair.

So, in answer to the doctor's question - No, I don't feel I lead a sedentary lifestyle at all. I don't have time to be sedentary. Am I in good shape? Well that is a different question. If I am ever granted the opportunity to ask God a question, I think I will ask Him about that. For all the work we do in raising our families, why aren't mothers the most physically fit people on the planet? I think it should just come with the job. Mothers, for all that they do, should just burn more calories per minute than the average person. Don't you agree??

God Bless!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Time - Our Gift from God

I received a visit from the Pope again this morning so I thought that I would share a portion of today's entry with you. Pope Benedict XVI is speaking about the three purposes of Corpus Christi: to counter man's forgetfulness, to elicit his thankfulness and to bring about the unifying power that is at work when many people together are looking at the one Lord. He says that with all of our distractions - the computer, meetings, appointments and the many things that we seem to always be involved in - "we have become appallingly thoughtless and forgetful."

Our rational, everyday consciousness is only the surface of what makes up our soul, but, as the Pope says, "We are so hounded by this surface awareness that what lies in the depths can no longer find expression. Ultimately man becomes sick for sheer lack of authenticity; he no longer lives as a subject: he exists as the plaything of chance and superficiality. This is connected with our relationship to time. Our relationship to time is marked by forgetting. We live for the moment. We actually want to forget, for we do not want to face old age and death...The only way to master time, in fact, is the way of forgiveness and thankfulness whereby we receive time as a gift and, in a spirit of gratitude, transform it."

I can definitely relate to feeling like a pawn to chance when things get so busy that you can't keep your head on straight. It is at those times, thankfully, that the Holy Spirit can somehow break through and help me to see that I need to take a step back, slow down and become more conscious of the Lord in my life. What a great way to look at each moment that we have been given - as a gift. I think that definitely makes me stop and appreciate all that I have in that moment and then it becomes easier to transform that moment into whatever God wills.

God Bless!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Get Out of Bed!

I was talking to a friend of mine last week and we were trying to get to the bottom of some issues she is having. One of the topics that came up was getting up in the morning. I know that it is something that we all have to do, and that some days we do it very reluctantly. My point to her was that I have found that when I consistently get up at the same time each day and I follow the same routine in the morning, my day tends to go much better. I have discussed this before about living the heroic minute, but after our discussion last week, I thought it was worth expanding on.

With summer upon us, it can be very easy to become lax in our usual routines. I know that it happens in this household. Things seem to loosen up just a bit, which I find is very helpful to all of us after the pace of the previous nine months. What I have to make sure that I don't give up on is that essential morning routine that I have developed. My waking time might change a bit, especially because we tend to stay up later in the summer, but I still stick to the same routine. Let's take a look at two morning alternatives:

6:00 wake up and begin prayer time
6:15 continue with prayers while exercising
6:45 take a shower and get dressed
7:15 check email - some children already awake
7:30 wake everyone else who is still sleeping and begin breakfast
8:00 clean up breakfast and get everyone ready for the day

Now the times for this schedule might vary if we are going to mass that morning, but the actual routine does not. Following this really gets me the quiet time I need to wake up and get ready to face whatever the day has in store for me. Contrast the above with the following:

7:00 wake up in a panic because I have no idea what time it is, even though I am still exhausted because I was up too late last night (or storms kept us up!!)
7:05 get out of bed to begin prayers, but some kids are already awake so they begin to come in and out of the room and ask questions, so prayers constantly get interrupted.
7:30 hurry up and finish prayers because kids are hungry and want to be fed, so begin breakfast for little ones and then go run and jump in the shower.
8:00 realize that not everyone woke up early and that there are still some slackers in bed, so get them up and get them going. Unfortunately, they are also now behind, so the kitchen can't get cleaned up because people are still eating.
8:30 sense of peace and calm gone because only some are dressed and ready while others are still stumbling along somewhere in the process....

I know that days like the above are inevitable, but if you set up a do-able schedule for yourself in the morning and stick to it, those chaotic mornings will not be the norm. I realize that not everyone likes to have a strict time schedule to follow, but I am a firm believer that you should have the same routine that you can follow every day, one that most importantly includes some quiet prayer time. Maybe for you it will only be 10 or 15 minutes in the morning, but at least you are consistently starting your day off by speaking with God.

So, take this time during the summer when things tend to be a bit more relaxed and figure out a routine that you can live with that includes some quiet prayer time - just you and God. Try to follow it for a month and see if it doesn't bring some peace to your soul and order to your day (or at least your mornings).

God Bless!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Oyster Cracker Snack Mix

Here is a great snack mix that my second oldest daughter modified a bit and then won a State Fair 4-H ribbon for it. We love to double the recipe and serve it at family parties.

Pretzels - broken into bite sized pieces - as many as desired
1 pkg of oyster crackers
3/4 c olive oil
1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix
1 tsp dill weed
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning

Place the desired amount of pretzels and the oyster crackers into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Pour over crackers and pretzels and mix well. Let stand for 2 hours. Store in an airtight container.

God Bless! Have a peaceful and restful Sunday!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My 100th Post

Well, it is hard to believe I made it this far. 100 posts and it only took me four months to do it! In honor of this momentous occasion :) I thought it might be fun to come up with 100 things that I am grateful for. As Madame Blueberry learned, "A thankful heart is a happy heart!", so here goes:

1. My faith
2. My wonderful Husband
3. 20 years of (mostly) wedded bliss - we are human, afterall
4. Daughter #1
5. Daughter #2
6. Daughter #3
7. Daughter #4
8. Son #1
9. Daughter #5
10. Son #2
11. My mother - the rock in my life
12. My father - who I grow to be more like with each passing day!
13. My brother
14. My Aunt and Godmother
15. My Uncle R - who has been a blessing to our family
16. & 17. My mother-in-law and father-in-law - who have always been there to support us
18. - 24. My wonderful brothers- and sisters-in-law
25. The many wonderful friends that we have - sorry you get to all be lumped under one number!
26. Our parish
27. Our incredible priest - who unfortunately is getting transfered in July
28. The freedom to homeschool
29. Our homeschool group
30. My grandmother - who I am convinced prayed me back into the faith
31. My grandfather - who always thought the world of me
32. My friend Cheryl who I have known since I was four and has stuck by me all this time
33. Our anonymous benefactors that kept us from bankruptcy last year
34. The many trials in my life that have made me who I am today
35. My relatively good health
36. Our big blue van that gets us where we need and want to go
37. Our camper
38. The wonderful vacations we have had
39. Our business - which has allowed my husband to be around us more
40. Living from paycheck to paycheck - which I am sure has kept me from many a temptation!
41. Our spacious home
42. Our property
43. The eight barn cats that kept the mice out of the house this past winter
44. Our miracle chickens - who unfortunately were all eaten by other animals this past winter, but we were grateful for them while we had them
45. Our experience with horses
46. My blog
47. My ability to form coherent thoughts (most of the time) and put them "down on paper"
48. My camera
49. The help of the Holy Spirit when taking pictures
50. The fact that I am half-way there!
51. A love of baking - although my husband sometimes wishes I didn't have one
52. Warm weather - finally
53. Air conditioning on days like today when it is 90 and humid (although I don't have it on yet)
54. Heat in the winter
55. Our fireplace
56. A love for the outdoors
57. The ability to swim
58. My website-in-progress
59. The availability of the internet to spread the faith
60. Our Holy Father
61. Our saintly intercessors
62. Moving out to the country
63. My education
64. Good music
65. My past violin lessons
66. A good sense of rhythm
67. Good movies
68. Pirates I
69. Pirates II
70. Pirates III - I couldn't resist. Our family has had a lot of fun with these movies!
71. Good books
72. A love of reading
73. Food on our table
74. Kids who fight and cause me to grow in patience
75. Sleeping children
76. A big, soft bed
77. Seeds for our garden
78. Colorful flowers
79. The strong wind that cools our house
80. A good sense of organization
81. Garage Sales
82. Thrift stores
83. Hand-me-down clothing
84. Other people's blogs who help me grow and get me to think
85. E-mail - which allows me to tell people things at very odd hours
86. Our food co-op
87. The many people who have helped my children learn beautiful things
88. Cold lemonade
89. Hot chocolate
90. Anything chocolate!
91. A good dinner out
92. My parents' boat
93. Growing up and having a summer home on a lake to go to on weekends
94. All of our nieces and nephews
95. My extended family
96. Our annual barn party
97. The freedom to practice our faith - who knows how long we will have it!
98. The rosary - a gift from our heavenly mother
99. Beautiful churches - they are a rare jewel when you find them
100. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

There, that wasn't so tough. It didn't take me near as long as I thought it would. This is a great exercise; one that I think we should do more than once in a great while. Hope you enjoyed it, too and thanks for sticking with me. Here's to the next 100....

God Bless!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Congratulations Graduates - Class of 2008

Last night we had the privilege of having the auxiliary bishop of our diocese preside over what has come to be our annual graduation mass. We had 5 eighth grade graduates and 10 high school graduates participate in the ceremony. Some might argue that having a graduation ceremony for homeschoolers makes it too much like the regular school system. I like to think of it as taking the good from two different situations and combining them into one beautiful event. We began the evening with Mass presided over by the Bishop. There were two high school graduates who gave short addresses before mass and two that gave them at the end of the ceremony. Each of the graduates was called forward to receive their diploma (made by the parents) from the Bishop and then had the opportunity to kiss his ring.

What a blessing these students received as they move forward to begin the next phase of their lives - whether it be high school or where ever God calls them. It is also a nice way for the students, who are used to being in a school setting with only their siblings, to form a common bond with others their own age. The parents, meanwhile, got a chance to watch proudly as their students processed in and out. We even got a pat on the back from the Bishop. The best part was that we got to be spectators and not the ones in charge.
Overall, I think this is a wonderful tradition that our homeschool group has begun. If you are part of a homeschool group who does not do something like this, I would highly encourage you to give it some thought. Even if you aren't part of a group and are interested in being involved in something like this, look around your area for other homeschoolers who might be interested and see if you can get it started. It is a great way to celebrate your child's achievement as well as bring glory to God through the celebration of the Mass.

God Bless!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Continuing Saga of the Fairy Tale Novels

Last week, which was the last of our overly-booked weeks for awhile, my daughter asked me when she should tell me that she and her sister had finshed reading "The Midnight Dancers" (Regina Doman's newest fairy tale novel). I told her to wait until Monday, as we had way too much to do. So yesterday morning she gaily announced that both she and her sister had finished "The Midnight Dancers" and I was free to read it. Therefore I decided that yesterday was going to be my day off so that I could tackle this newest book.

Veni, Vidi, Vici - I came, I saw, I conquered. The book was fabulous. The thing that I found so interesting about this book is that it spoke to me in a different way than the other three books did. Based on my experiences (my past, the people I know and what I know of their past, as well as the lives of my children and their friends) I felt that Rachel was someone I could relate with just because of how I grew up and the type of society/culture I grew up in. When I was in high school, I really knew nothing of God and His love and His beauty and what it was He created men and women for. My experiences were totally dictated by the 80's society I grew up in. My children, on the other hand, are growing up with a different belief system. We are trying to teach them just how loving God is and the beautiful things that He has in store for a man and a woman who love each other and commit themselves to each other in Holy Matrimony. When I was in high school, dating was something you did just to have something to do. I never thought of high school dating as a precursor to marriage. My friends and I saw what happens when that special love that God created is degraded. Since my children have very little experience with this ugly side, I think they are naive as to how ugly it can be "out there in the real world". Therefore, I think this book is a good way to reinforce what it is we are trying to tell them.

We can tell them that there are people filled with evil in the world, but sometimes I wonder how much credence they give us. Reading a book by someone they look up to that tells them this same thing is a great way to reinforce these important lessons. On the flip side, the book also does a great job at showing the beauty, goodness and purity that can exist between a young man and a young lady and how God's light can illuminate their relationship and make it holy.

Thanks, Regina, for another great book!

God Bless!