Tuesday, April 27, 2010

College Decision Part V

Well, Ms 18 yo has made her college decision and the deposit has been sent in so I guess that makes it official. I detailed in this post about the options we were considering and the fact that it mainly depended on how it was all to be paid for. I have to say that we all tried very hard to approach every step of the decision making process with an open mind to what God was trying to show us.

The first step was the four year college or junior college decision. The ACT test score came back very high so we went the four year college route.

Next was the in-state or out-of-state college decision with a focus on Catholic colleges and universities. Well, based on our criteria that the Catholic college needed to actually behave like a Catholic college (and using the Newman Guide as our guide) we determined that we weren't really excited about any Catholic colleges in our area and the ones we were excited about were too far away.

On top of that, the couple of Catholic colleges she liked didn't really have much of a scholarship base and one doesn't accept any form of federal financing, so that meant that both of those choices would require extensive personal financing, something we were against burdening her with.

That left us in state with a private Christian college as our top choice. It is close enough to commute, however we were open to the possibility of her staying on campus. We debated about the Christian vs Catholic thing but have decided that it would be better to go to a Christian college that is open to Catholicism than to a Catholic college that isn't. Within the confines of this Christian college is a wonderful Catholic church with perpetual adoration and many Mass (even a daily Latin Mass) and confession options. The college is open to having a priest come onto campus to hold adoration, confessions and talks in the college chapel, too.

The next step was to decide about whether or not to live on campus or commute. Of course there are pros and cons to both. We remained open to the possibility of either and decided that we would see how the financial aid package came out. Well, when all was said and done, the entire tuition amount was covered with only very minimal federal loans; all that would be left would be to take out a personal loan for - you guessed it - room and board. Didn't make a whole lot of sense to us, so for her first year at least, Ms 18 yo will be commuting.

All-in-all I'd say it has been a very painless process. I've heard horror stories from people about this whole thing so I didn't really know what to expect. I think trying hard to remain detached from any one particular option made it a lot less stressful when things went one way instead of another. We did what we could, through prayer and discernment, to make the best decisions possible. We are all very excited about next year and glad, too, that Ms 18 yo will not be too far away. I know there will be adjustments for all of us, but hopefully we are ready to meet the challenges head on!

It is really amazing what God can do when you let Him. He has proven time and time again that His way is best and that when we let go and let Him lead, things will work out.

So as a celebration of this momentous decision (at least in our lives :), we're off to buy some new college sweatshirts!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Socialization, Again...

With homeschooling becoming more and more prevalent and society falling apart faster than we can blink, I find it ironic that the first question people still ask when they find out you are homeschooling is about socialization?

Socialization of what? What do they honestly think that our children are missing out on? How to use colorful language? How to engage in behaviors that should never be engaged in at their age (if any age)? How to bully people to the point of suicide?

I'm befuddled. Maybe these people just don't keep up with current events.

Lord Jesus have mercy on us all, for we are all sinners...

Note: Lest I give the wrong impression, I am not trying to insinuate that young people are only socialized in a bad way if they attend a school, whether public or private :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Signs of Summer...

The "closer to the scalp" haircuts means the weather must be getting warmer :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Great Story

Check out this great story over at Totus Tuus...

Hungry for Salvation?

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Weekend Follow-up

While my husband was off spreading the good news about Miles Christi to the men of Boston, I was on my own mission of information gathering. I certainly didn't start the weekend out with that intent, but that is how it ended up. Each day he was gone, I managed to get "sent" to a talk where I heard amazing things. The really unfortunate part of all of it is that my 40-something brain can't recall most of it. I can tell you, though, that what I came away with was a sense of amazement at all of the good messages being spread by the people of God!

Friday evening I attended the Miles Christi Evening of Recollection. You are guaranteed to hear at least one thing that really grabs your soul when you attend one of these evenings. That night, Father gave a talk about humility and, as I usually am whenever they talk on that subject, I am reminded how far I have yet to travel!

Saturday evening I went to a small, country church to hear Michael Card in concert. I like his music, but it had been a long time since I had really listened to it. What I didn't realize, though, was that he has written a lot of books and is incredibly knowledgeable about the Bible. In between his songs he spoke about different passages of the New and Old Testament that were truly amazing. He spoke at length throughout the evening about God's greatest desire - that He be loved by us. It was a beautiful event.

Sunday we heard a fiery homily from Deacon Ralph Poyo. It must be fun to be able to go into a parish, deliver a tough message and know that you will be leaving soon so you don't have to deal with all of the angry parishioners! He spoke during Mass about Faith. He asked some pretty tough questions of us, like if the government were to come into our church today and threaten to take away all of us who profess to be Christians (which really isn't out of the question given the climate in this country), which of us would have the faith to make that profession? He also hit the men pretty hard by asking them if they have enough faith in God to trust that He will provide for their families. As he put it, if the men think they are the providers of their family, they are wrong. Interesting stuff!

Later that evening we went to hear him give a talk on evangelization. It was a very thought provoking discussion about the "self-evangelizing" church and how we, as Catholics, have lost sight of the important role that evangelization plays in our faith. After all, if the Catholic church hadn't been evangelizing over the past 2000 years, we wouldn't have been sitting there. It has only been in the last few generations that we've lost sight of that mission. He gave us some great things to ponder.

Finally, today, we went to Noon Mass and during the homily, a different priest challenged us on our faith. He asked us why we seek God? Do we seek Him for what He can give us or do we seek Him for who He is? The question he left us with was: If there were no Heaven and hell, would we still come to Mass, especially every day? Would we pray and follow the commandments? If not, then we are seeking God for the wrong reasons.

Needless to say I am exhausted from all of the thinking and processing of information I have been trying to do since Friday. I'm not quite sure why it was all loaded into such a short period of time; God knows my brain can't keep up with all of it. I just have to hope that somehow I have internalized all that I needed to hear and that that I will be able to recall it when I need it :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Humorous Quiz

My husband is in Boston for the weekend "manning" a booth at a Men's conference for our favorite order of priests. Seeing as how he hasn't been on a plane in 15 years, the whole travel aspect of it has been quite interesting. As you can imagine, with 7 children and no discretionary income, most of our travel involves pounding metal stakes into the ground to insure that our accommodations don't blow away. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to offer a little quiz about how his trip went yesterday.

Fortunately for us, he has had a very helpful friend who arranged everything for him and gave him many helpful hints on how to handle the ins-and-outs of airport travel. One of the first things she told him was to only bring a piece of carry-on luggage. So he followed her advice and stuffed everything into his carry-on, of course making sure that it weighed under the required 45 pounds.

Question 1: Since he followed her instructions, which scenario best describes his boarding experience with a carry-on bag?

a. Upon boarding, the stewardess happily pointed him to his seat and showed him into which overhead compartment he should place his carry-on bag, at which point he sank into his seat to enjoy the ride.

b. Upon boarding, the stewardess told him the plane was full and he would have to have his bag put in with the luggage, wrote his seat number down on a napkin, shoved it under the handle and happily pointed him to his seat, at which point he sank into his seat to worry about whether or not he would ever see his carry-on bag again.

The plane was 45 minutes late leaving the airport due to a mechanical problem. Of course this then meant that they landed in New York late and had less time to get to their connecting flight to Boston (mind you, he has never done anything like this before :)

Question 2. Which scenario best describes what happened while trying to retrieve his carry-on and make his connecting flight?

a. He walked to the nearest baggage claim area, found his carry-on bag and walked to his connecting flight with plenty of time to get situated.

b. He was told that his carry-on could be picked up at a different terminal and that he had to find Shuttle B to get to it. After searching and subsequently waiting awhile for Shuttle B (which then proceeded to stop every two feet), he finally got to the right terminal and was able to retrieve his bag. Upon going through security yet again, throwing his boots back on, repacking his bag and running through the airport, managed to get into his seat 5 minutes before the plane left the terminal. The other 3 people who were running behind him also made it just before they shut the door.

Our helpful friend told him numerous times that, once he got to Boston and was preparing to rent his car, he should make sure he spent the money to rent the GPS. (Hint: feel free to recall all that you know about men and directions in order to help you answer this question.)

Question 3. Which scenario best describes what happened next?

a. He remembers what our friend said about renting the GPS, decided it was a good idea, especially because she has tried to find her way around Boston before and he hasn't, got his car with the GPS and went on his way to find the place where he was staying so that he could relax awhile before he had to head on over to the conference to set up.

b. Decided he would rather save the money and not rent the GPS, because after all, he is a guy and how hard could it be to find your way around Boston, proceed to get lost, and end up driving like Nicholas Cage in "National Treasure I" through narrow streets with crazy drivers and absolutely no place to pull over.

"Wait," I said at this point, "you saw all the sights that were in 'National Treasure I'? Did you take any pictures, because you know the kids would love to see them?"

Question 4: What do you think his answer to me was?

a. Yes, dear, I made sure I got great pictures of all the important places so that we could all enjoy them together when I get home.

b. (I'm sorry, I can't put his answer here due to the nature of this blog and the length of his answer :)

I haven't talked with him yet today, but hopefully he has been having an easier time of it, although I don't know if he is because he has an 8 minute walk from the garage to the conference center and it is 40 degrees and rainy :)

Well, as St. Ignatius said, "Experience usually teaches that there will be greater profit where there are more contradictions."

Have a great weekend, and if you think of it, say a prayer that his return trip is a bit better!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Drive Factor

If there is one negative to our homeschooling experience it is the fact that if we want to do anything we have to get in the car and drive to it. Most of the time it isn't even a quick drive but at least a 30 minute drive. Our homeschool group, and thus the majority of the families that we are friends with, encompasses a very wide geographic area.

I bring this up, not to complain, but because I've noticed more and more of my friends dropping out of things and pulling back because they are too tired of being in their cars. I have to agree. We want our kids to have ample opportunities at friendships and activities, just like any other parent does, but it becomes so burdensome when everything they want to do or we choose to be involved in is over 1/2 hour away, if not farther.

I've been a part of a number of conversations lately where us mom's have dreamed of all living in the same town (and even neighborhood) so that we could do more things together and participate in more activities. Everything sounds so wonderful, from theatre groups to singing and dancing lessons to religious-centered activities, that we could literally be considered car-schoolers if we don't watch out.

So I'm seeing more and more families pull out of things because they are burnt out - not from the activities themselves but from all the driving. Maybe it's a necessity to go through that type of cycle - be involved and drive, pull out for awhile and regroup, start getting involved again until you realize that you're spending a lot of time in the car again. It is a constant struggle for balance, is it not?

Right now we're okay because we've just moved 20 minutes closer to most everything we do. Now instead of a 50 + minute drive, we only have 30 + minutes. That is like a breath of fresh air :) We'll see how long it lasts!

Oh well, I have to go now because it is almost time to get in the car and make the one hour drive to the orthodontist (trust me, this drive is worth the money it has saved us :) and then come home and drive 40 minutes up to our monthly Evening of Recollection! Oh well...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Growing Up

Mr. 4 yo turns into Mr 5 yo today! I can't believe that my youngest...my bouncing, 11 lb 10 oz baby boy is already 5! The little "caboose" of our family is growing up so fast.

I have proof of that, too. My little mama's boy (you know, the one who has to kiss me at least 20 times a day) is choosing to spend his birthday evening with his father and his big brother at their monthly Blue Knights meeting. Oh well, I knew we would have to begin to cut those apron strings sooner or later. Though, to be quite honest, I'm thinking sooner is better because I've noticed this trend among youngest boys of the family...it seems that even into teenage and adult years, some of them still seem to cling way too much to their mamas :)

Not too long ago, he looked at me and said, "Remember the day I was born how I was laying on the bed and I looked in your eyes?" Yes, dear, I do remember that soul searching look you gave me just moments after you were born. What I wonder is, do you remember it because we've told you about it or do you REALLY remember it? Wouldn't surprise me if you did!

Happy Birthday, young man...

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Joy of Easter

As I was sitting in Mass on Easter Sunday, I was looking around at all of the beautiful decorations and relishing in singing the Gloria again when I began to notice something that bothered me. Here it was, the most joyful and glorious day of the year and if you looked around at people's faces, you'd be hard pressed to realize that. Not many people around us were belting it out like we were. Many of them just had blank stares as we went through the remainder of the Mass.

Fast forward to Monday when we went to Noon Mass at a local church. The priest there gives wonderful homilies and today he was on a role about how we must, as Catholics in today's crazy world, live like the Apostles and the first Christians did. He talked about how we have been commissioned like the Apostles to spread the Good News, not so much by what we say, but by how we act.

Are people drawn to us because of our peace and joy? Or do we radiate tension and unrest? Not, as he said, that we have to be skipping and singing all the time and acting as if nothing bad ever happens to us, but when bad things do happen, how do we handle them? Are we at peace or do we complain and take out our anger on those that we meet?

Father mentioned that this peaceful, joyful attitude is especially important for the religious. He related a story about how during his first assignment as a priest, he was at a parish with an elderly, grumpy priest. Having this experience made him realize that he did NOT want to end up like this grumpy old priest. Father said he told God that if he was going to end up like this priest in his old age that he wanted to die young!

I found it interesting that my thoughts from Sunday and the homily from Monday were so intimately related. I had been thinking about what I'd like people to "read" on my family's faces when they look at us. Do they see a family that looks unhappy or tense? Or do they see a bunch of faces that, for the most part, show contentment?

I know that not every day is a good day, or even close to that. I know that sometimes people go for quite a stretch where they struggle to retain (or regain) their peace and joy. But if overall we, as Catholic Christians, cannot exude those good qualities to others in the world, how are we to ever show the world the beauty of following so great a God? How will we ever attract people to the Lord, as the first Christians did, if we don't show people His love?

This has been on my heart a lot lately, especially since the devil has been working overtime to bring strife and division to our families and Catholic homeschooling communities. If we cannot even love each other and show forgiveness and compassion to those that are closest to us, how on earth are we going to show the goodness of the Lord to those in the world around us?

We have been commissioned to bring others to Christ. We have been commissioned to turn this world around and it must start within each one of us. If our hearts do not rest in the Lord, we will not be able to live out that peace and joy that Father was speaking of today. Instead, our faces will reflect tension and strife; something which will not attract others to us.

So as we begin this joyful Easter season, my prayer is that we can take up our mission with a heart bent on turning this world around by radiating the love that Our Lord has for each one of us to everyone we come in contact with; starting with those closest to us!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Blessed Holy Saturday

As Mr 4 yo would say, "Only 1 more day of Lent!"

Friday, April 2, 2010

May you have a Blessed Good Friday