Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The kitchen floor got swept today......

because Lightning McQueen got mad over Birdman stepping on his toe at lunchtime, and knocked the sugar canister off the table onto the floor.  The lid was not on the canister.  It was nearly full.

Lightning had to sweep the floor, and also give up $2 for another bag of sugar.

But the floor is cleaner than it was!

Monday, September 27, 2010

my own little catch-22

I get a fair bit of fodder for blog posts from other blog posts.  The other day a friend wrote this post, which got me to thinking. (go read the original post; I'll wait).

I'd like to think I would have followed Him.  But God's plan for me is that I am here, now, thinking about how I would have reacted if I'd lived when Jesus walked in the Flesh, and realizing

that my mother would have met Him at some point

and she would have heard

He loved little children


she would have forbade me to even speak to Him

because she would have been convinced He was a child predator.

Finally, something at which I truly excel.

I read this a few days ago, thanks to one of my Facebook friends, and I realized that I am really, really, really good at appearing Perfect.  I'm not, of course, but maintaining the facade?  Easy-peasy.

If you paid any attention to the very first post on this blog, you know that I am a professional self-employed tailor who is a single (divorced) mother to three homeschooled kids all under 14.  I get no child support from their father, and they have no contact with him (court ordered).  So I wear a lot of hats.

I don't wear any of them very well.  I am a lousy housekeeper; my house is cluttered and messy.  I own so many books I have them stacked on the edges of the stair treads between the first and second floors.  I am so negligent about mopping my kitchen floor that I had it redone in that commercial tile that's black with gray and white flecks in it because it doesn't show dirt and crumbs.  My vacuums are constantly clogging up with thread and hair.  I haven't had the laundry caught up in months.  The bottom of my toaster oven is covered in crumbs, and my microwave tray is only clean because I was out of town last Saturday at a class and my mom cleaned it.  I have dust bunnies that are constantly on the verge of forming their own government and staging a coup d'etat.  I went for 5 weeks this past summer without doing the yard.  We eat a lot of frozen stuff, even though I think meals prepared from scratch are much better-tasting and more nutritious (not to mention there is more variety if you cook from scratch).  I work about 50 hours a week, if you count time spent on the phone making appointments and calling clients to let them know their projects are done. In addition to those work hours, I also take my older son to Civil Air Patrol drills and Rifle Club meetings, my daughter to riding lessons at the far end of the county, and daughter and younger son to 4H meetings and events.  I have started turning over some of the duties to one or the other of my kids, such as changing light bulbs.  But I still have to remember that the new bulbs are on top of the fridge.
In addition to the general parenting, schooling, working and homemaking tasks at which I am not perfect, I'm also not perfect as a woman or a Catholic. I'm divorced, you know.  Never mind that I would be the first person to admit that I have very poor choice when it comes to men (or boys, as the case may be, but I digress).  I married a lazy, conceited, entitlement-attitude-inflicted, alcoholic, verbally/emotionally/financially/physically abusive child molester.  (And all of those attributes except the last can be applied to husbands #1 and 2 as well).  I have sort of managed to solve the problem of always choosing the worst sort of man:  I do everything I can to be as mean, disagreeable, opinionated and unladylike to any man who shows the slightest inkling of an interest in dating me.  I even went so far as to have my mother's engagement diamond re-set and commenced to wear it on the 'proper' finger, to further discourage any would-be suitors.
This means, of course, that aside from my homeschooling group, the gals with whom I get together and knit, some really good online friends and the folks at my parish, I have no adult companionship in my life.  I'm very afraid that I'll grow old and bitter (the bitter thing?  I'm making good progress on that one) without ever having been to Julio's for dinner (long story; when I post this I'm going to make sure I put that on my Bucket List).
There's more, but I think you get the idea.  I refuse to be Perfect at a blog post that lists all the ways in which I'm not perfect.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't be fooled........

Endorsement by the Chamber of Commerce does not necessarily the best candidate make.  Thanks to Mr. Manchin, our electricity bills are about to go up.  Not next week, next month, or maybe not even next year, but they will go up, thanks to this new law.

This is the candidate we need to send to the United States Senate on November 2.

Monday, September 20, 2010

You May Skip This Post if You Aren't a Catholic, a Homeschooler, or Both.

A friend recently sent me a link to this article and asked me what I thought.  I warned her that my opinion would show up here, because quite honestly I think the author failed to make his point (actually, I think he failed to make any point at all, except that he doesn't know how to formulate a thesis and defend it properly).

The first two paragraphs of the article made me think that the author was going to end up exhorting me, even laying on the guilt trip, to immediately take myself to the nearest Catholic school, signing my children (and my limited funds) away thither until such time as secular, government-supported schools quit calling Christmas vacation "winter break" and go back to giving kids the whole of the Easter weekend off (as in, Great and Holy Friday through Bright Monday).

A little further on he mentions that his concern is not "socialization", but after he gives the erroneous definition that this term has come to mean - spending the majority of one's time with those who are the same chronological age - he fails to define true socialization, which is the ability of a person to conduct oneself properly, with good manners, in the company of anyone, no matter what their age.  He then continues:
 "I mean something much more radical and (perhaps initially) more difficult for homeschoolers to accept: that education is for the perfection of the child, and the child is perfected for a life in society."
I agree with this.  I do not, however, agree with his next statement in which he says that "The common approach to homeschooling today is inherently dangerous, because it may go against what our entire Western tradition and the Catholic Church herself teach about the education of the young – that education should not be done in the homeat least not for long, except during a time and place of crisis."

In the first place, I think the Church document he then proceeds to quote in an attempt to justify the preceding statement (which still has me scratching my head, if anyone can see how he got that quote above, from the three quotes he cites in the article, please educate me in the comments.  Because I don't see the connection) have most likely been taken out of context.  Secondly, at this point in my reading I am convinced that this is just thinly-veiled advertising for Catholic schools, so I'm waiting for him to start promoting that.  Instead, he goes off on yet another tangent about "home-churching".  (I don't know any Catholics who are "home-churching".  I know Protestants who are, and it so happens that they are also homeschoolers.  But I don't think that those are related in the case of which I am most aware).

Read on a bit further and here we find the major, glaring error in the article:
Homeschooling calls for a heroic life, but the Church has never held that it is necessary for parents to lead a heroic life in the pursuit of simple, natural things.

At this point I want to invite the author over for dinner and, after we've had dessert, take him by the shirt collar and shake him till his teeth rattle.  What a ridiculous statement!  The Church calls everyone to sainthood.  Everyone.  Not just the rich, or the people who drive blue cars, or those who send their kids to Catholic school, or those who cover their heads in Church.  Everyone.  You, me, the grumpy old man who lives around the corner, the girl at the checkout in the grocery store who can't count back change without looking at the cash register display, my mom, your grandma, my best friend's in-laws........
And how do we achieve sainthood?  By living the virtues (remember those?  there are seven of them) heroically.  Maybe we won't ever be formally canonized, with Mass propers or a proper Tropar and Kontakion, holy cards or medals, icons and relics, but if we live our lives the way the Church calls us to do then we are to become saints, because the Church wants us to go to Heaven (Remember the Baltimore Catechism?  "Why did God make me?  God made me to know, love and serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him forever in the next." ).  We have NO EXCUSE.

When my kids act like they'd rather be part of any other family but ours, I sometimes tell them that "God sent you to ME, because He knows that I am the best person to bring you up to follow His plan for your life."  If the purpose of an education is the perfection of the child so that he is able to follow his discerned vocation and achieve sanctity for himself, then who could possibly be more qualified than the child's parents?

And what do you know, at the end of the article we discover that the author is a homeschooling father.  You want to know why I think he wrote what he did?  Because he thinks homeschooling is more like "school at home", where the kid(s) sit at desks or a table and do work out of textbooks, and it's turning out that he's feeling guilty over discovering that a lot of homeschooling (especially Catholic homeschooling) isn't like that at all; it's more like life, where the children learn theology and the Catechism by living it, and most other subjects are covered in the course of daily living in a family where Catholic means 'who we are', not just 'what Church we attend.'

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Practical Education

I have declared today to be an Official Rainy Day.  Birdman and Lightning McQueen are baking oatmeal cookies.  The following subjects are surreptitiously being taught:  math - measurement, time, sequencing, multiplication, fractions (I had them double the recipe because we love cookies).  Language arts - reading comprehension, following directions, vocabulary. Science - baking as chemistry; how do all those ingredients turn out to be cookies?  I suppose there's probably some social studies in there too, since they are having to work as a team (two people are the smallest form of 'community' there is, you know).

In case you want to declare a Rainy Day and bake some cookies, they're using the yummy recipe from this awesome cookbook - although my copy is the one I used when I was their age.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Last Week at Aquinas Academy

Well, our "official" start to the new academic year got off to a slow and messy start.  Instead of starting with the next grade level's material, I decided to back up a few lessons in math and use those repeated lessons as a review.  Once we're finished with the books from the previous year we'll order new ones.  So Birdman is finishing up with Saxon's Algebra 1/2, Velvet is working in the last part of Saxon 5/4, and in an effort to find math to challenge Lightning McQueen a bit I'm putting him in Saxon 6/5 (he had Seton's Math 4 last year and found it b-o-r-i-n-g).  I like the 'spiral' method of Saxon a lot.

We'll be doing journals this year, again.  I hope to also be able to keep up with reading lists, and we'll try the library in a couple of weeks to see if my three ya-hoos can manage to actually do what you go to the library to do - look for and check out books.

This fall's civics and social studies will be working on political campaigning; stuffing envelopes, handing out yard signs and other campaign lit, working the phones, all that kind of good stuff.  I've got several field trips in mind too; I think I mentioned them in a previous post.

Science?  Well, we've got plenty of animals around here, what with Velvet's riding lessons (which also counts for PE), Lightning McQueen's chickens, Eli the dog and Chuck the parakeet.  Velvet is going to be in her first horse show on October 2, about which she is very excited (I think; she is very low-key about it really).  Just walk/trot/cross rails, but you've got to start somewhere, right?

I'm going to try to do regular academic-year progress posts this year.  This way I'll have a more permanent record of what we did and when - paper seems to disappear around here.

I also need to schedule 'school pictures'.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Otpust 2010, Part 2

The porch of one of the (now unused due to disrepair) Pilgrim Houses, where a group of Pilgrims gather on Saturday and Sunday nights and sing traditional hymns and liturgical songs.  

Here are a few more photos from the weekend for you.  Once the rain cleared out on Friday evening you can see that the weather could not have been more perfect.  Not too hot, but nice and sunny, with a lovely breeze.

Cross atop the dome on the Shrine Altar

Lightning McQueen carries the Processional Cross for our parish at the candlelight procession on Sunday evening

Memorial to victims of abortion, near the cemetery

My Godson with his mom, Godfather Fr. Kevin, and me

Clergy and bishops processing to the cemetery for the Parastas service.

I am so happy that we have this family tradition! I'm just sorry it took so many years to discover it.  During the time we were members of a Latin parish we never knew this wonderful spiritually enriching weekend even existed.  Now for the past four years, and hopefully for many more to come, it is our end of summer, beginning of the academic year 'retreat'.

Otpust 2010

Last weekend, from Friday afternoon through Monday morning, the kids and I were at the 76th annual Pilgrimage on honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, at the Monastery of the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great in Uniontown, PA.  I'm determined to get this posted, with photos, today, so I can move on to other things.

One of the things the kids in our parish do is clean the racetrack kitchen in preparation for Pilgrimage.  We sweep, hose the floor, wash down the chairs and tables, wash serving trays, and clean the refrigerators so the Sisters and volunteers have a nice clean place to serve cabbage rolls, hot dogs and other refreshments to pilgrims.

Here are Lightning McQueen and Birdman, along with one of my bff's sons (foreground) and Velvet and another bff son (background).  It was a bright, sunny day!  Here are some more:

One of the things we enjoy about doing this is that once we're all done, we get to go up to the Motherhouse and have lunch with the Sisters.  They are always so happy to see us.

Then there is a frenzy of planning, shopping and laundry on our part until the day we leave.  We load the car and try to get headed out by lunchtime, so as to allow plenty of time to set up our campsite before the first Divine Liturgy of the weekend.  This year we had a bit of a cloudburst right as we'd finished, so Velvet's sleeping bag had to be laid out on top of the car until it dried (tent leaks, ugh).

another view of our campsite; I'm standing in front of my tent.  The tents visible in the photo belong to my bff's family.

"kitchen" area; this year I used the car as both food storage and a closet, which worked out very well.

Then it's time for the opening Divine Liturgy.  Usually it's held at the huge Mother of God shrine, but due to the wet weather it was held in the main room of the Trinity Center, a building that houses the Gift Shop, pilgrim dorms and the main room where talks are presented (and Liturgies celebrated when weather prohibits them being held outdoors).

There are many processions throughout the weekend.  Part of the whole experience of Pilgrimage is the walking, so we make sure to wear comfortable shoes!  (Note:  I always have a huge agony of indecision over what to pack, since it is pretty much a continual Church service but it's also camping, and my Church clothes and camping clothes are mutually exclusive).
Processional crosses, decked with flowers and ribbons to identify the parish, lead each procession.

More in the next post.......

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In case you were wondering if men are affected by abortion......

Came across this (scroll down a bit to the second letter; I couldn't figure out how to link to just that one) today after lunch.  Abortion kills.  First it kills a baby.  It also kills relationships, trust, and sometimes affects things that happen a long time after the actual abortion.  It's the taking of a life, that keeps on taking.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pilgrimage, anyone?

I just had to give you a little peek behind the scenes at what it takes to go on Pilgrimage in the 21st century.  The dates are a given; the Pilgrimage to Mount Saint Macrina in honor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has been held on Labor Day weekend every year for the past 75 years.  This is our fourth Pilgrimage, and we've just about gotten it down to a science.

First we have to plan menus.  We make a chart with blocks for each meal, then decide what to eat at each meal.  The only non-negotiable meal is Sunday night's dinner; we always have filet mignon and salad - I get the vacuum-packed bacon-wrapped steaks from Kroger, freeze them, and by the time Sunday rolls around they are thawed but still cold, and ready to pan fry on our camp stove.

From the menus we make an exhaustive grocery list; it usually takes at least two trips to get everything because we can't buy the really perishable stuff until a couple of days before we leave.

Then we get out all the sleeping bags, tents (yes, you read that right), dining pavilion, screen house, folding chairs and tables, dinnerware and cooking supplies, and check everything over well.  Anything that needs to be replaced gets an entry on the shopping list.  This year we needed a couple more flashlights and some batteries; I splurged and got a headlamp to wear for reading in bed and singing on the porch (more on that when we get home).  I also bought a spare can of white gas for the stove, just in case.

We took the chairs and tables up to the monastery and left them under a tarp behind the rectory last week when we went up to clean the racetrack kitchen (more on that upon our return as well).  That clears out the floorboards of the car so we're not riding with our knees up by our ears for 30 miles.  We still have to put the tents, sleeping bags and clothing in a soft car-top carrier on the roof, because they will squish and the cooler and other 'hard' items have to go in the back of the Subaru.

Tonight we made the final trip to the store, Birdman baked the pepperoni rolls, and we moved everything that's packed to the back room ready to go in the car on Friday.  Tomorrow we'll make the tomato soup, a batch of Prosphora (Communion bread) for our parish, get the outdoor feed box filled for our chicken-sitters, and gather the rest of the non-perishable food.

Friday morning I'll deliver Eli to my mom's, then come back home and we'll start packing the cooler and loading up the car.  I hope we can be pulling out of the driveway right after lunch; once we get to the monastery we'll set up our campsite and then relax a bit until services start.

Baby Juliet

For those of you who read this blog and are praying for baby Juliet and her family, you can read this wonderful blog, started by Juliet's mommy.