Wednesday, February 24, 2010

An Invitation

Dear Fellow Homeschoolers,

I'd like to take this opportunity to ask a favor of you. Do you remember what it was like when you were trying to decide whether or not to homeschool? Were you frustrated? Confused? or was it a super easy decision for you?

No matter what your story, if you are willing to briefly share it with others so that they might be better able to make that decision, then I have an opportunity for you.

On my website, I've just put up a section that allows you to build your very own web page that tells YOUR homeschooling story. There will be a permanent link there that other people will be able to click on so that they can get helpful advice and/or encouragement with what is a very important, and sometimes difficult, decision to make.

I'm sure other people have helped you along the way, so pay it forward and help someone else. If you click here it will take you to the page that the invite is on. All you need to do is to scroll down the page and follow the instructions. With a bit of time, I hope to have a whole bunch of entries that will help others who are exploring the homeschooling option to make a more informed and better decision.

So, thanks in advance for being willing to share a bit of you with other people. What you have to say may just have a positive impact on someone's life!


Monday, February 22, 2010

NaNoCompMo...and My Imitation of Christ

A short meditation on my theme for the month. I came across this in "My Imitation of Christ" Book III Chapter 47:

Oh, if thou hadst seen the everlasting crown of the saints in heaven, and in how great glory they now triumph who appeared contemptible hertofore to this world, and in a manner even unworthy of life, doubtless thou wouldst immediately cast thyself down to the very earth, and wouldst rather seek to be under the feet of all, than to have command over so much as one.

Neither wouldst thou covet the pleasant days of this life, but wouldst rather be glad to suffer tribulation for God's sake, and esteem it thy greatest gain to be reputed as nothing among men.

Ah! if thou didst but relish these things, and suffer them to penetrate deeply into thy heart, how wouldst thou dare so much as once to complain!

Hope your lent is a fruitful one!



Wednesday, February 17, 2010

NaNoCompMo...and Lent

I received an email last week that had an article in it by Fr. Thomas Euteneuer. In it, he was discussing some good ways on how not to waste Lent. This passage, in particular, caught my attention:

Finally, go for high spiritual impact. That is, identify and practice faithfully just one really magnificent goal for your personal conversion this Lent. I say conversion and not "personal improvement" lest anyone interpret the call to spiritual discipline as a chance to lose weight or quit smoking! What Lent demands of us is to look into our vicious, slothful and petty nature and challenge it with the full prophetic force of the Gospel. A well-intentioned person who stacks up a dozen goals for personal change but accomplishes few or none of them is not a better person at the end of Lent. He is more scattered, less disciplined and under a the illusion of false piety thinking that he is doing something holy by multiplying activities without transforming his heart. In contrast, the one who targets his habit of petty backbiting with a shock-and-awe campaign of generosity toward those he finds disagreeable is the one who receives a blessing from the Lord because he acts like John the Baptist who Jesus said "took the Kingdom by storm." Any mature person will know that a single, firm and effective intention to convert one's heart is worth more than a thousand acts of superficial piety.

It caught my attention because I tend to be the kind of person who needs a spread sheet in order to keep track of all of the things I feel I should be doing during Lent. Could it be possible to pick only ONE thing and just focus on doing that ONE thing really well and actually have a fruitful Lent? Maybe even more fruitful than ever before?

And what if that one thing had to do with complaining? The way I see it, there are really three levels of complaining:

1. Verbal - yada, yada, yada - you get my drift. Probably the easiest of the three to stop.

2. Non-verbal - okay so maybe one has achieved the ability to keep one's mouth shut and not let that complaint slip out, but what about the roll of the eyes, the stomp of the foot, or more subtle: the blanket that is wrapped tightly around hunched-over shoulders that tells everyone how COLD you are. There are still many ways to complain without ever saying a word.

3. Once a person has mastered not complaining with words and not complaining with body gestures or postures, there still remains another form of complaining. What about complaining in your heart and head? What about those thoughts that still pop into your head, or worse yet, your heart that you'd really like to let out of your body somehow, but don't? Don't those still do damage? What if this Lent, one was to focus on stopping those thoughts and feelings from ever even taking root in the heart? Wouldn't that make for a fruitful outcome? Think of all the prayer, sacrifice and grace that that might take to become a reality? Wow.

Of course, I'm not sure I'm up to the challenge, but it is definitely something to pray about :) No matter what I pick, the above paragraph from Fr. Thomas really got me thinking about narrowing my focus and really concentrating on just one or two things. Now, if only I could decipher which ones those are supposed to be....


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

College and Unit Studies

This past weekend we had the opportunity to attend a "red carpet" event at Ms 17 yo's college of choice. It was quite a presentation. As we sat there and listened to them discuss with us the wonderful opportunities our daughter will have if she attends school there, I was struck by what a difference there was between this school, which is about 2500 students, and the large state university that my husband and I went to.

For about three hours we heard presentations from faculty and students about research projects and social events that occur between the students and their professors. They kept stressing how much the professors are involved in helping the students to shape and succeed at their education. They actually said that they care about their students! (okay, so I know it was a big rah-rah event to get these students to go to school there, but still....)

Contrast that with the large state university I went to where 1.) I was lucky if I had a professor for a class, 2.) I knew the professor's name and 3.) the said professor had a remote clue what my name was.

On another point, after listening to a few presentations, my husband leaned over and whispered, "It's like one big unit study here!" The way they described how students are allowed to work with their professors to design projects that interest them and allow them to draw upon many of their different classes did, indeed, sound like one big college-sized unit study. How cool is that. It got me excited again about pursuing more unit studies with these guys at home.

I can only recall one class in four years where we were allowed to design our own project and carry it through to completion. Of course, that was the class that: I remember the most about, I actually had a professor and I even remember his name. There must be a correlation here, don't you think???

For those of you still on the fence about unit studies, I'd say: pray about it some more and do a little bit of research. Try out a short one, even if you just design something simple yourself. I'll be talking more about them soon, as we hope to introduce a unit study that my daughters are working on for their Little Flowers club major work project. We hope to have it completed and ready to go in April or May, so stay tuned. In the meantime, you can check out more info on unit studies here.


Monday, February 15, 2010

The Olympic Dream

Every once in a while we miss not having television reception. With the Olympics on, now happens to be one of those times. We did, however, have a chance to watch some of it last night while at a relative's house and I noticed something.

As I sat there watching the figure skating, I remembered back to when I was a little kid watching those incredibly graceful and talented young people float across the ice and oh how I wished I could do that, too! I remember pretending to be a world class figure skater downstairs in the basement. As I got a little older, I remember the desire I had to get out on the ice myself and try some of those "tricks". (Of course, back then it was a lot easier to get out on the ice. First, we actually had frozen ponds for the majority of winter and second, if it was a frozen pond, you could pretty much be assured of being allowed to skate on it!).

So as we sat there watching the figure skating last night, I noted the mesmerized look on some of my children's faces, too. On the ride home, Mr 4 yo kept us entertained with all of his stories about how he and his future wife were going to be ice skaters. Today brought more talk of professional skaters, as well as some of the girls in leotards skating around on the ceramic tile in the basement.

How neat it is to see this same reaction happening in them that happened in me. There is something special about watching the Olympics and seeing these young people striving for such heights. It makes me wish we had TV reception for the next few weeks. It also makes me wish that, even though I'm past my ice-skating prime, my pathetically out-of-shape body wasn't quite so pathetically out-of-shape. With Lent right around the corner, maybe I'll still be motivated to do something about that (although I doubt it:)


Friday, February 12, 2010

NaNoCompMo...and the revolving door

Yesterday was one of those revolving door days. I'm sure you've had them...I got up and then left by 8:15 for six hours, came home for one hour, left for another two hours, came home for hours and left for another two hours, came home and went to bed.

Upon further reflection, I noticed a few things:

~ I found myself complaining a lot yesterday; especially right before my last outing at night, when it was cold, and I was tired and it meant spending the next two hours at the grocery stores...but there I go again:)

Fortunately NaNoCompMo would pop into my head and at least I would apologize for complaining afterwords. I guess better late than never.

~ I also noticed that once you get going, it is very easy to find things to complain about all day and that it takes a good, strong movement of the will to stop.

~ Because of my day, I didn't make it to Mass and I didn't have time to do my mid-day prayers. I could have used the grace from those two events and if I had been able to follow through with them, I think I wouldn't have fallen into the complaining mode quite so easily.

Unfortunately, I have a few more of those revolving door days to get through soon. Hopefully I'll do a better job of catching myself BEFORE the words come out.

Have a beautiful day full of no complaints!

"If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it."
Anthony J. D'Angelo

"Don't complain because you don't have.
Enjoy what you've got."
H. Stanley Judd

"If you don't like something change it.
If you can't change it, change your attitude.
Don't complain."
Maya Angelou

Quotes courtesy of this site.



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

NaNoCompMo...and the weather

One of the best ways to stop complaining is to try to find something, even if it is small, in every situation for which to be thankful. Giving thanks to God for all things, whether good or bad, will help to squelch that desire to complain.

For instance, instead of complaining about this:

... WINTER STORM WARNING NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST /10 AM EST/ WEDNESDAY... ... BLIZZARD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHICAGO HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD WATCH... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM THIS EVENING THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING. THE WINTER STORM WARNING IS NOW IN EFFECT UNTIL 9 AM CST WEDNESDAY.

* TIMING... PERIODS OF SNOW WILL CONTINUE THROUGH THE DAY INTO THE EVENING. A GROUND BLIZZARD WITH WHITE OUT CONDITIONS MAY DEVELOP OVERNIGHT TONIGHT INTO EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING.

* ACCUMULATIONS... PERIODS OF LIGHT TO MODERATE SNOW WILL RESULT IN SNOWFALL RATES OF GENERALLY A HALF INCH OR LESS PER HOUR. THE LONG DURATION OF THE SNOW EVENT WILL RESULT IN STORM TOTAL SNOWFALL OF 5 TO 10 INCHES.

* HAZARDS... IN ADDITION TO ACCUMULATING SNOWFALL... NORTHWEST WINDS WILL INCREASE TO 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS OF 35 TO 40 MPH TONIGHT INTO EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING. THESE STRONG WINDS COMBINED WITH THE FRESHLY FALLEN SNOW MAY RESULT IN A GROUND BLIZZARD DEVELOPING WITH NEAR WHITE OUT CONDITIONS... PARTICULARLY IN OPEN AND RURAL AREAS.

* IMPACTS... TRAVEL IS LIKELY TO BE SIGNIFICANTLY HAMPERED DURING THE STORM THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING... WITH EVEN MAJOR ROADS AND HIGHWAYS BECOMING SNOW COVERED AT TIMES. SEVERE BLOWING AND DRIFTING SNOW... PARTICULARLY IN OUTLYING AREAS... WILL DEVELOP LATE TONIGHT INTO EARLY WEDNESDAY. BLIZZARD OR NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS LATE TONIGHT INTO EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING WILL MAKE TRAVEL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.


I can be thankful that, as a homeschooling family, we don't need to worry about whether or not our children will make it to and from school safely! We'll just pour another cup of tea, throw another log on the fire, wrap the blanket tighter and watch the snow fall and the winds blow...all the while continuing our schoolwork, of course :)


Sunday, February 7, 2010

NaNoCompMo

It's easy not to complain on a day like today!

It is Sunday

The Sun is shining brightly

It actually feels warm in the house

We have nowhere to go (or at least most of us don't)

Now, check back on Tuesday to see how I feel, because they are saying we could be hit with up to 10 inches of snow between Monday and Tuesday evening. Oh well, no need to think about that now :)

Have a blessed Day of the Lord.



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

NaNoCompMo

In order to keep myself, and anyone else who is participating in NaNoCompMo, on track, I thought that I would touch base with the subject throughout the month.

So how is everyone doing? Here it hasn't been too bad. I've actually remembered about this for two days now, which is quite an accomplishment for me. Yesterday was a very peaceful day, as the day after a big blow up usually is. Everyone was very helpful and very attentive to the needs of the day. It didn't hurt that our pastor came over for dinner last night, so that put everyone in a good mood as we all just love spending time with him!

Today, thus far, I've only had to rescind one snack and add one extra handwriting assignment. Not too bad. We restarted our unit study (the thing that got the entire complaining ball rolling on Monday) with much more enthusiasm and actually got a lot of work done. I also just typed and had to delete a line because, upon rereading it, I realized it sounded rather like a complaint! I have an afternoon of errands, we'll see how well that goes as I might be the one to complain the loudest. :)

Just for fun, I thought I'd include some quotes, that I found here, about complaining. Hope you enjoy them!

Learn to accept in silence the minor aggravations, cultivate the gift of taciturnity, and consume your own smoke with an extra draft of hard work, so that those about you may not be annoyed with the dust and soot of your complaints. ~William Osler

I think that the insane desire one has sometimes to bang and kick grumblers and peevish persons is a Divine instinct. ~Robert Hugh Benson

Untold suffering seldom is. ~Franklin P. Jones

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain. ~Jane Wagner

Man spends his life in reasoning on the past, in complaining of the present, in fearing future. ~Antoine Rivarol

Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses. ~Proverb






Monday, February 1, 2010

Welcome to My February!

Well, it happened like clockwork...I turned the calendar page to February and cabin fever struck - right on schedule. I'm not sure if the whining and the complaining actually increases or if my ability to deal with it goes out the window. Maybe it is a little of each.

In years past the routine would look something like this:

~ rant and rave
~ threaten to send them to public school
~ call my husband and rant and rave again
~ lock myself in my room and not come out until March 1st

This year, however, I tried a few different things:

~ rant and rave
~ only THINK about sending them to public school - don't actually verbalize the threat
~ NOT call my husband after remembering that he will just roll his eyes and remind me that it is February and that this happens every year
~ lock myself in my room and pray

Wow, now there was the key...prayer. I immediately turned to the Blessed Mother and begged for strength and inspiration. Here is what "we" came up with: (Note - anything that succeeds in this endeavor came from her, anything that fails came straight from me!)

Welcome to NaNoCompMo!

What is that, you ask? Maybe you've heard of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writer's Month? Or maybe you've heard of NaBlCroKniMo - National Blanket Crochetting/Knitting Month?(although probably not because my daughter just made it up.) Well, NaNoCompMo is inspired by both of those and stands for

National No Complaining Month!

In the first two examples you are required to produce something by the end of the month; either a 50,000+ word novel or a really large blanket. In my month the goal is NOT to do something; and that something is complain! What is even better is that anyone can participate - you don't have to know how to write or knit or whatever. If you can talk, then you can participate (and probably should participate) in NaNoCompMo. And, there aren't any hard and fast rules, either. I believe that it should be up to each household to set their own rules and consequences.

In this household I am going to try to hold to a zero tolerance policy for the month along with natural consequences. For example, if you complain about a meal, then I will relieve you of the stress of eating the said "swill". If you complain about an assignment, it will be doubled. If you complain about a chore, you will do it twice instead of just once. I've always done this sporadically (If Dr. Ray were reading this, he'd tell me that the word "sporadically" is the real problem here!) but NaNoCompMo will give me the incentive I need to stick with it for a whole month.

On the flip side, I think it only fair that my husband and I participate, too. However, children, there is a distinct difference between complaining and instructing, reprimanding and disciplining. For example, "Why can't you kids ever pick up your toys?" (complaining) and "Johnny, please come here and pick up your toy now or I will immediately donate it to the first child without a toy to come to our door." (instructing)

So what do you think? Are you ready to play? Is this just the thing you've been looking for? I'd love to have you leave a comment if you and your family will be participating in this new national event (although people rarely leave comments here, so don't be surprised if you don't see any!) (was that a complaint?). For all of the participants in my house, I have this to say...

Be thankful February is a short month!

Good luck and remember that the world would be a much happier place if everyone would stop complaining. Here's your chance!



PS. Help spread the word and link to this post from your blog! Thanks.