Monday, July 29, 2013

Catholic Woman's Almanac

 Joining in with the ladies at Sucipio!

Moments of Gratitude:

* A good homeschooling conference
* Finally getting a handle on the IEW program.  Looking forward to doing it this year.
* A chance to sit and chat with a family we don't usually get to spend a lot of time chatting with.
* Time spent with friends that I don't see near enough.  They're homeschooling again so maybe that will help :)
* Sunny, cool weather - makes it feel like fall.
* Smores!!!!

The Week Ahead:

This coming week is essentially full of Catholic Kids' Camp.  The camp is run by two very talented sisters and a whole host of volunteers.  The kids go from 9 - 1 and this year I have two that are participating, three that are helping and I get to take pictures.  It is always a fun time for everyone, albeit very tiring.

In the Kitchen:

Some friends gave us some zucchini two weeks ago and I just now got around to doing something with it.  I made two zucchini breads that we ate for breakfast, and a chocolate zucchini cake, 2/3 of which I'm giving to a family that just had a baby and the rest that we get to split amongst ourselves.  We love this zucchini cake!  The rest of the week is nowhere near as exciting as that as far as food is concerned.


I finally finished "When the Well Runs Dry" and one of my favorite paragraphs was right at the end:

"Peace, as Augustine has said, is not the absence of activity or effort, but the tranquility of order.  Where there is order there is peace, even in the midst of strenuous activity.  Where there is one will - God's Will - there is order.  It is only where there are two wills - God's and mine - that tension and disorder prevail."
 Wow.  That is a lot to ponder and keep in the forefront of your mind.  God's will alone should direct my life.  The dark night is what purifies us of our own will and if we can float through it, we will arrive at this place.


* For a car for our daughter so that we can all get to where we need to be this fall.  Good, reliable car, low cost - that's the prayer.
* For direction in a number of areas in our lives.
* For us to desire only God's Will and not our own.
* For a potential new photography project.


At the conference, I picked up Ginny Seuffert's new book "It Doesn't Have to be This Way!".  I love to listen to Ginny so I'm sure her book is bound to be good.  It's a short read so I'm looking forward to diving in.

After that I fully intend to start St. Francis De Sales' "Introduction to the Devout Life".


A picture of our last 10 year old Tea Party.  Fun was had by all!

God Bless!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The 7th Post in 7 Days

Better late than never, I'm here for the final post in the 7 posts in 7 days challenge.

I went to the IHM conference yesterday and, the good news is, I didn't spend a lot of money because I spent most of my time either talking to people I saw or listening to the speakers.  At one point I knew I only had about 30 minutes running around trying to purchase the books I knew I wanted to get, so I ducked my head down and ran from booth to booth so that I wouldn't see anyone I'd be tempted to stop and talk to.

Besides that I listened to all the talks I had listed yesterday and, of course, they were all very good.  It was driven home to me, AGAIN, that I need to finish my current read so that I can begin reading "Introduction to the Devout Life" by St. Francis De Sales.  I'm really liking what I'm hearing from him, so I'm looking forward to getting started.

This is an exciting picture for me that we took Friday evening.  In this picture you will see Regina Doman, the wonderfully talented Catholic author, her newest book "Rapunzel Let Down" of which I took the cover photo for, and me.  

Some of my girls and I went out for ice cream amidst a downpour with Regina, her wonderful husband Andrew and their son Thomas.  A great time was had by all.

I finally feel excited about the upcoming school year.  I think I have a good game plan, so now I just need to firm it up and see how it is all going to fall into place.  Hope you're having a great weekend!

God Bless!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Off To the Conference

Today is the 6th day of our 7 Posts in 7 Days and as you read this I'll be heading to or attending the IHM Conference in Chicagoland.  I'm very excited to finally be able to go as I have missed the last couple of years.  It will be fun to meet up with friends, listen to a great line-up of talks and browse the vendor tables.

Here are some of the talks I'm looking forward to:

 The Catholicism of The Hobbit  by Prof Joseph Pearce

Discipline: The First Essential of Homeschooling by Virginia Seuffert (she is a great speaker!)

Marriage and Married Life in the Spirit of St. Francis de Sales by Canon Matthew Talarico - I've heard great things about Canon Talarico and am so looking forward to this talk!

I'll also be perusing the IEW table as I am finally going to get what I need to do this with my kids.  I think we are going to focus a lot on writing this year, so I'm bound and determined to figure this out.

I've also been hearing a lot of great things about Classically Catholic Memory and I'm hoping that somehow I can look at their stuff.  We'll see what I can find out about that.

More tomorrow, I hope, on how things went.  Have a great Saturday.

God Bless!

Friday, July 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes July 26, 2013

Happy Feast of St. Joachim and St. Anne!

Aren't these the most beautiful flowers?  Ms 10 yo had a tea party for her birthday this past week and we asked all her friends to bring a flower for a friend bouquet and this is what one of the girls brought.

Absolutely lovely!


I'd like to direct your attention to the Life of Fred math pages on my website.  I am trying to sell off the rest of the stock I have on hand as I've decided not to order any more books because it just isn't cost effective for me to do so.  If you're looking to buy Life of Fred books for the upcoming school year, please consider purchasing them from me :)  Thanks!

I'm so excited that the IHM Chicago conference is this weekend.  More about that in Saturday's post (I mean really, I'm participating in the 7 posts in 7 days thing, so I need to save some fodder for day #6).  Friday night, however, some of my girls and I are heading up there to meet up with our favorite Catholic author and her hubby, Regina Doman.  We haven't seen them since about this time last year, so we're looking forward to seeing them again and catching up! (Not that I'm name dropping or anything.)


I still am having a dickens of a time trying to figure out our curriculum for this coming school year.  I know it is fast approaching, and I know this is why some people sign up with a provider so they don't have to make these decisions each year.  I, however, just can't do it.  I've thought about it every year, but when push comes to shove, I just can't do it.  My kids all learn different and I'm so particular that I feel like things go smoother when I can pick and choose my own stuff.  Hopefully the conference this weekend will help provide me with some direction.

Because we haven't been busy enough, next week begins our four day participation in Catholic Kids' Camp.  This is an awesome program developed and directed by three ambitious sisters (not Sisters, mind you) we know.  It's a totally Catholic VBS!  The kids absolutely love it, but it is four long days to be sure.

This week's weather has been absolutely gorgeous!  Sunny and in the 70s- low 80s during the day and into the 60s and even some upper 50s at night.  And it only makes sense that it's been gorgeous this week because they came and finally were able to fix our air conditioner!  We ran it Monday afternoon just to make sure it worked, but then turned it off and have been enjoying the coolness of the week instead.  Why does it always seem to work out that way?

Conference on Saturday, an informal wedding reception in the evening and not a thing but Mass on Sunday.  That's the way I like to end my weekends, especially when a busy week will be following!  Hope you have a safe and holy weekend.

God Bless! 
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Theme Thursday - Askew

I must confess that this one had me stumped.  I've been thinking about it all week and have asked my kids multiple times for ideas and we all came up blank.

Wednesday evening Ms 21 yo was setting up the fire pit for a "bonfire" she was having for some friends when I noticed that the pit was slightly askew.  Ah ha, problem solved.

So, for the most unexciting photo of my Theme Thursday career, here is my "askew" photo!

Go on over to Clan Donaldson, where I am SURE there are more interesting photos than this one.

God Bless!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Comparison Game

"Some people can sleep in cow manure and come out with $50 bills in their hands."  That was one of my favorite quotes from a talk I listened to the other night, and it heralded in the part of the talk about not comparing yourself to other people/families.

On retreat and then again in the talk, the priests said that God does not give equal graces to everyone.  Some people and some families get more graces than others because they have a different calling in life and a different mission they need to fulfill which will require more graces than another person or family.

In the talk it was mentioned that you need to discern what God is calling your family to do.  Some families are called to a more contemplative type of life, while others are called to be more social.

For this reason alone, it is not going to be productive to compare yourself or your family to someone else.  It is so important to remember that God calls each one of us to something completely different and we might not have any idea what another person or family is truly being called to do, so there is no reason to compare ourselves.

For example, we have a wonderful family in our homeschooling circle.  This family knows everyone, greets everyone, makes friends wherever they go.  They are very involved in their parish and in the Catholic community at large.  Their children have had amazing opportunities and they have accomplished many things in their young (teen to early 20s) lives.  Many people have always looked to them and said, "Boy, why can't my family be like theirs?"  or "Why can't my children be as accomplished, or perfect, or polite?"  

While it is good to look to those types of families for inspiration and ideas, in no way can you ask those questions out of disdain for your own family or children.  God has called that family to an amazing, evangelizing type of life.  He has not called too many other families we know to that same standard.  When others try to follow in their footsteps, if that is not the path God has chosen for them, they will not be successful and will end up feeling even worse.

This lesson is SO important!  It is a temptation to compare yourself to someone else.  Ask the Blessed Mother to take that temptation away from you.  Pray that God will give you guidance on your own path to follow.  Learn from others but always double check if that is what God wants YOU to do.

Homeschooling naturally lends itself to this type of mentality.  If I find myself in the comparison mode, I try to snap out of it as fast as possible because it usually doesn't end up anywhere good.  Just because your neighbor seems to be able to do everything right, doesn't mean that you are doing something wrong when things don't work out for you.  God gives each of us the graces we need to live the life He wants us to live.  It is simply our job to utilize all of them.

God Bless!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Inordinate Attachments

What are you overly attached to?  Comfort, money, me-time, food, your children (yes that is a possibility), air-conditioning?

At various times in my life I have to admit to being inordinately attached to all of the above.  This past week when our a/c was broken I found out how attached I was to it.  I might not use it a lot, but I want to know it is there when I need to use it.  It was a good thing that last week came on the heels of my retreat because I needed the extra graces to keep my temper at a cooler temperature than my house was!

There was much time spent on retreat looking at and talking about what it is that we are attached to that is keeping us from giving everything over to God.  There's always going to be something.  At first it will be the big things, but as we progress in the spiritual life, those things will start to get more subtle and harder to weed out.

I mentioned above about being inordinately attached to one's children.  Father gave the example of how that can play out.  When a child goes to his mother and explains to her that he feels he has a vocation to the priesthood a mother with an inordinate attachment will try to talk him out of it for her own selfish reasons.  Of course her reasons might not seem selfish at first, but if she really looks at them, she will realize that the thought of giving her son totally over to God is more than she wants to handle.  This is one big way in which a mother can be inordinately attached to her child.

The point of many of these talks and times of meditation was to try to root out one, or maybe even a few, things that we can't let go of that are holding us back from giving ourselves totally, and in a big way, over to God.

What is keeping us from trusting in Him fully?  What is keeping us from letting Him plan out our lives, our months, our days?  What is keeping us from giving Him back all that He has given us so that He can use it for His purposes in our lives? 

This is a lot to think about, but the goal is to find something that we need to detach from and then come up with a resolution that says how we are going to do that.  

God Bless!

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Virtue of Austerity

Austerity is defined as the state of being austere.  If you're like me, that doesn't mean a hill of beans.  Let's try that again.  From the Free Dictionary Online:

 aus•tere (ɔˈstɪər)
1. severe in manner or appearance; strict; forbidding.
2. rigorously self-disciplined and severely moral; ascetic; abstinent.
3. without excess, luxury, or ease: an austere life.
4. without ornament or adornment; severely simple: austere writing.
5. lacking softness. 
The priests last week on retreat mentioned the virtue of austerity quite a bit.  When looking at the above definitions, I would say that they were referring to the third definition - without excess, luxury, or ease.
We spent a lot of time meditating on what it means to live a life of austerity.  Sometimes scrupulosity gets the better of me and one day during this topic it did.  I started to scrutinize every thing that I had bought recently and wondered if I had started heading down the wrong path - the one away from God instead of towards it.  For someone without scrupulosity, you might laugh and think I've lost my marbles.  For someone who knows how this can rear its ugly head, you understand the turmoil I was in.
I talked to one of the priests about it and he brought me back into perspective.   Living the virtue of austerity is a matter of balance.  He gave me two examples which I think are beneficial for keeping things in perspective.
The first was someone who needs to purchase a new car.  They have the money to buy a Mercedes, but do they really NEED to buy a new Mercedes.  Mind you, there's nothing sinful about buying one because they legitimately have the money to do it, but for someone who is trying to live a life of austerity, could they buy a much less expensive, but still fully functional, car - say maybe a new Honda or something of the sort.  Either car would get them where they needed to go, so it comes down to a matter of whether or not they need to spend the money on a more expensive, comfortable car.
As the priest pointed out, if the person made the decision to buy the less expensive car, then another way to live this out even fuller would be to donate the difference between what they spent and what they could have spent.  This is truly living this virtue.
He also gave me another example.  On flying a discount airline from Chicago to Detroit, the cost of the ticket is about $30.  For that price you get a seat but virtually no leg room.  As you board the plane, they inform you that you could upgrade your seat to one with more leg room for an additional $20.  Assuming the person is in no great NEED of additional leg room (they have no impediments or what-not), do they really need to spend the additional money for more leg room for that short flight, or could they save the money and use it for a better purpose?
The person trying to live austerity would, of course, deal with the lack of leg room and use the money elsewhere.  Again, there is no sin in spending the extra money to be more comfortable - none at all.  The question comes down to whether or not you really NEED to.
The point of all of this during our retreat was for us to really look into ourselves and decide whether or not we were giving all we had to God or were we using our material goods in ways that could be improved upon.  Can we give it all to God to use as He wants us to use it?  That would be living austerity.  Or do we tend to use our material goods for the way we want to; for our own comfort, entertainment, fun, ease?  Again, not in ways that are sinful, but in ways that maybe we could let go of.
God has given us all that we have, are we giving it back to Him and allowing Him to use it for His purposes in our lives?
 God Bless!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

7 Posts in 7 Days

I'm joining Jen over at Conversion Diary in her link up for next week:  7 posts in 7 days!  Sounds like fun.  Sounds like a challenge.  Sounds like something I can do because I was kind of already planning on doing it and just happened upon this this morning :).  Oh well, check back all week, Monday through next Sunday, for exciting and thought provoking posts!  I'm pretty sure I'll be posting about some thoughts from my silent retreat, so it's sure to be rich (or at least I'm hoping it will be!!).

To get you ready and in the mood, I'll leave you with this thought provoking picture.
I went to the car on Saturday and found this:

I had to really stop and think about why my shoes were so carefully placed in the car like that.  Took me a few minutes, but then I remembered.  But wait, maybe I shouldn't tell you why, because if I told you, then you would have nothing to think about.  So, if you're game and you have any ideas as to why my shoes would be left in the car like that, then feel free to drop me a comment.  Otherwise, I'll see you tomorrow!

God Bless!

Friday, July 19, 2013

7 Quick Takes July 19, 2013

Hot.  I'm tempted to just type that seven times and call it quits.  I understand it's been hot all over the country and now I have even more compassion for people who have to suffer the heat and high humidity without the comfort of air conditioning.  I figure ours will get fixed next week when it's nice and cool out.  Well, at least the a/c guy won't almost pass out while fixing it like he did while working on it this week.  See, there's always a bright side to everything.
One drawback to having a big camera is that you can't just carry it with you everywhere you go.  If I had a camera with me this week I'd have taken a picture of how we kept cool on Tuesday afternoon.  We took Ms 10 yo to the mall to get her ears pierced and she was smiling ear to ear (at least she was after the pain wore off!).  So in this spot, picture a cute, black haired, dark eyed little girl with pretty white flower earrings on her ears.

Carrying on with that theme, in this spot I would have a picture of the cute little tea room that I took my mom to on Thursday for her birthday.  This place is SOOO cute and the food is awesome.  So here you can picture all these cute little tables with pretty flowers and little lamps and cute napkins and table cloths and elegant tea cups and delicious food and a smiling mom.

So much for getting to my to-do list this week.  It was the one week I had to stay home and get a bunch done, but even picking up my fork made me break out into a sweat.  I am so grateful that we have a stove in our basement so that we can cook in relative comfort.  If there wasn't mold in the basement, I might never come out of it!  Alright, that is it about the heat and our lack of a/c, I promise :)

Our big blue van is old, I think we're almost to 250, 000 miles but the thing is still getting us where we need to go.  The other day, however, it started doing this weird thing that had us all wondering what was going on.  I had hit a bump when all of the sudden the power locks started humming and going up and down and we couldn't grab them fast enough to keep them unlocked.  This went on for awhile and finally it stopped and we were able to get out of the car without fear of not being able to get back in.  Not sure what it was all about, but I hope it doesn't happen again!
I'm so glad we don't have any kind of TV.  We spent the afternoon at my mom's in the a/c with the TV on and what a bunch of time wasting junk.  The kids are always glued to it when we're somewhere with a TV because we never sit around and watch shows, but I am glad that this is not an option every day of the week.

Coming up next week:  News about Life of Fred Math books on my website and notes and thoughts from my silent retreat last week.  This weekend will hopefully be cooler and not too busy, thankfully!  Have a great weekend!

God Bless!
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Theme Thursday - Bright

This week's theme had me stumped at first.  I was thinking more along the lines of bright colors or the bright sun and trying to figure out what I had taken pictures of recently that were really bright.  Lo-and-behold, Ms 17 yo pops her head around the corner and says, "sparklers", and she's right.  Once we returned home from vacation we lit some sparklers and I played with my new camera to try a few things out.  Here are the "bright" results.  Hope it's okay that I picked 8 of them :)

Join in the BRIGHT fun over at Clan Donaldson!

God Bless!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Ski Show Not to Miss

One of the non-negotiables on our vacation was to go and see the Min-Aqua Bats - the water ski team which has been performing in Minocqua, WI for the past 50 or so years.  We used to go and see them every summer when I was a kid, so I wanted my kids to experience the same feeling of awe.

By this time, mind you, I could see their eyes slightly glazing as I kept waxing on about how I wanted them to experience this and then that, just like I had when I was their age.  But this time, I really meant it.  They would be in for a real treat.  Not sure they believed me at first, but they went along with it.

We saved this event for the last hurrah of the week and we were not disappointed.  Given the advances made in all things in the years since I was younger, this was an incredible show of what the human body is capable of.  I am always awed by the strength, grace and daring that God gives to us human beings.

Here's some of what we saw:

Some awesome barefoot skiing.  That night one of the guys went a full mile without water skis!  

 Here are some couples doing acrobatics on their skis.

This series of photos shows these two guys who started by jumping off the pier and then barefooting.

Just a nice skier, sunset type shot.

This was incredible.  Two of the guys jumped off a ramp, crossed over each other, as well as jumping over the two guys who stayed on the water.  Talk about strength and daring!

All the guys thought this was cool.  All us girls felt our stomachs lurch :)

Got to see a few pretty good wipe-outs, too.  Fortunately, everyone on this night was okay.  When I was younger, I remember seeing one of the girls slam into the pier.  Not cool.

It isn't a great ski show without a few pyramids. 

I love water skiing, so to see the skill of these young people is truly inspiring.  If I can ever get myself strong enough again, I want to get back up on that water ski!  Maybe next summer :)  If you're ever up in the Minocqua area, I highly recommend this show!

 God Bless!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Paul Bunyan and the Effects of Gluttony

In the entire state of Wisconsin, there are two places that house a wonderful, all-you-can-eat restaurant named "Paul Bunyan".  

It is set up in the fashion of an old logging camp with long tables and benches (or at least they used to have benches, as, much to our disappointment, we were sitting on chairs) to sit on.  They serve your meal family style, and while they serve lunch and dinner, our favorite is the logger's breakfast.  I can't stress this enough when I say we'd been looking forward to this breakfast for months.

Not, mind you, because of the all-you-can eat pancakes, biscuits and gravy, sausages, ham, bacon and yummy potatoes.  No, none of those.  It was those heavenly donuts that have been gnawing at our stomach's for lo the past six months.  It's not just us, either.  People come from far and wide to get at those donuts.

The day finally came for us to load up and head on over to Paul's.  We stood in line, finally got to our table and the moment arrived:  the first plate of donuts was there.  MMMM, just as good as we remembered (since it had been about 8 years since the last time we'd had them!). 

The kids all sat at one table so I wasn't able to keep an eye on what was going down.  After we were all done, Mr 8 yo came over to our table looking like this:

He sat on his dad's lap for awhile and then started moaning that his tummy hurt and that he NEVER wanted to come here again.  After a few minutes of this I suggested that maybe my husband should take him to the bathroom.  I got a bit nervous as I saw his body heave a bit as he was walking down the middle aisle of the very full restaurant.  Fortunately, he made it at least to the doorway of the men's room before it all came up.  

At first the kids were blaming it on all of the food he ate.  Once they gave me the rundown I still was skeptical since, when he wants to, that kid can pack a lot of food in.  Then they told me about the two cartons of chocolate milk that he downed and I knew I had found the culprit.  You don't drink that much milk on a full stomach when you never drink milk!!  Plain and simple - this kid has always drunk almond milk, very rarely cow's milk, so putting that much milk on an already full stomach is bound to make anyone lurch.

Oh well, the good news is that afterwards he felt perfectly fine and isn't objecting to going back again some time in the future.  Fortunately, the closest Paul's is still about 4 hours away, otherwise we might all look like his big, blue ox!

God Bless! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Catholic Woman's Almanac

Joining in over at Sucipio!

Moments of Gratitude:

There have been so many things to be grateful for these past two weeks.  We had a wonderful, relaxing vacation with beautiful weather.  I went on my yearly silent retreat last week and it was amazing as usual.  There will be more specific posts about these in the coming weeks.  

I am also grateful that at this moment  there is a man outside fixing our 6 month old air conditioner that shouldn't have broken, but did.  He will hopefully get it running before this week of 90 degree temps and high humidity really get going!   UPDATE:  He did NOT get it going and doesn't know when he will be able to.  Ugh.  I know it is a small trial compared to some, but it is one I am not too good at dealing with.

I am also grateful that the next two weeks don't have any huge commitments; maybe I'll get caught up :)  And finally, on this day, I am grateful for the wonderful gift of my mother, whose birthday it is today.  Happy Birthday, MOM!!  (Okay, so she doesn't read my blog, but who cares, right?)

In the Kitchen:

Getting back into the swing of routine meals again.  I think this week is a chicken recipe in the crock pot for tonight, Turkey Tetrazzini, broiled and marinated pork chops and peaches and Shepherd's pie.  As much as I've enjoyed the good food of the past two weeks, I'm looking forward to getting back to our usual eating routine and not so much junk (okay, fine, not so many desserts, and pop, and really good sugary snacks and chocolate...)

The Week Ahead:

Lunch with my mom for her birthday at this adorable little tea shop my daughter found.  It is so cute and has some wonderful food.  Other than that, I plan on tackling that To-Do list with a vengeance.  Oh, and I'll probably get back to exercising again.  I think.


I am bound and determined to keep up with reading now.  Spiritual reading, especially, is so important.  The goal is 15 minutes a day, but I know once I just sit down and get started I'll get more time in than that.  Right now I'm finishing up "When the Well Runs Dry" by Thomas H Green.  I have been trying to finish it up for awhile, but I picked it up again on retreat and God's timing, of course, was perfect.


For my son who is at camp this week that they will have a safe, holy and fun time.  For the many graces I need each day to keep to my resolutions :)  For this crazy world we live in, that peace will reign some day soon.


I have so many pictures to share but haven't had the chance to weed through them yet, so I'll just share our family photo that we took from atop the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan.  Behind us you can see Lake in the Clouds.  This was an amazing place to be.  I love to admire God in the beauty of His creation! By far, one of the high points (pun intended) of our vacation.

God Bless!