Monday, December 29, 2008

This past year's reading

I went to Willa's blog only to see a link to my own New Year's 2008 To Read list. Wow, I'd forgotten all about that list of books. So I thought it would be interesting to see what books I did actually read. Maybe I can remember the other books not on the list that I also read. My brain is fuzzy right now though and a Muppet Christmas movie is playing loudly . . . .

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor (Mommy Brain) Nope!
Austenland by somebody???? (Pemberley; Mommy Brain) Nope!
Holiness for Housewives by???? (Can’t remember! Re-reading it off and on over the last couple of weeks) Nope! Or maybe I read bits of it. I tend to take it off the shelf, read a few pages, get inspired and then put it down again.
The Love that Satisfies by Christopher West (started this around Thanksgiving, stalled out about 1/2 through but really want to finish it.) Nope!
The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis (Brit Lit) Yes!
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (Brit. Lit) Yes!
Mary Barton
by Elizabeth Gaskell (re-read for Brit. Lit – loved this book the first time) Yes!
The Scarlet Pimpernel (recommended by everybody including my friend Carol) Nope!
A Thousand Suns
by the guy who wrote The Kite Runner (gathering dust on bedside table) Nope!
In This House of Brede
by Rumer Godden (just finished An Episode of Sparrows; I want to read all her stuff! I think I actually read this book back when I was a teenager but I only have the haziest memory of it) Nope!
Mariette in Ecstasy
by Ron Hansen (contemporary Catholic novelist; been intrigued by him for a while) Nope!
A Philadelphia Catholic in King Arthur’s Court by Martin de Porres Kennedy (Will got this for Christmas.) Nope!
Letters to a Young Catholic by George Weigel (Willa mentioned this one a while ago) Read parts.
Black as Night by Regina Doman (I love her House Art site. The book looks wonderful; she’s got a whole series of fairy tales retold for young adults.) Yes. This was wonderful!
Quo Vadis
by ????? (A classic I’ve never gotten around to reading.) Nope!
by Shusaku Endo - (I keep seeing this book come up on various Catholic booklists) Nope!
Sophie’s World
- (reading this currently to teens) Only got through 1/2 much to my sorrow.
Tale of Two Cities
by Dickens (Brit Lit) Yes!
The Little White Horse
by Elizabeth Goudge (and other books by Goudge; love her writing; currently reading this aloud to anyone who’ll listen.) Yes! Lovely, lovely story.
Children of Men
by P.D. James (this is my before-bed, current read; I’d like to read other books by her) Yes! Made a great impression on me. Very thought-provoking.
Animal Farm
by George Orwell (Brit Lit.)Yes! Clever book.
The Last Gentleman
by Walker Percy (been curious about him for a while now) Nope!
Georgette Heyer - (want to read more of her work; just finished Royal Escape about Charles II’s escape fromEngland; lovely!) I have become a Heyer fan! I have now read five or six of her novels, several of them more than once!
Small is Beautiful
by E.F. Schumacher (in prep for Economics next year) Nope!
Small is Still Beautiful
by Joseph Pearce (his take on the above book, plus I just want to read all of Pearce’s stuff) Nope!
Introduction to Christianity
by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict VI (this is my current theological read. It is a very clear but very deep and scholarly explanation of the Creed.) I gave up on this. I am now reading his Jesus of Nazareth with other homeschooling moms in my TORCH group.
Language of God
by Collins (audio) - We’ve had this gathering dust for a while. Yes! Listened to this with great admiration. Very illuminating!
Priestblock 25487; A Memoir of Dachau
by Jean Bernard (Will’s) Yes! Extremely interesting.
To The Ends of the Earth
by William Golding (I gave this to Rick for Christmas, with the ulterior motive of reading it myself!) Yes! Loved it! Made me want to try classical schooling again!
Dante’s Divine Comedy
(summer study) Nope!
C.S. Lewis’ Perelanda
series (summer study) - My goal this summer to read Dante’s Divine Comedy, though realistically I might just get through the first book. I’m going to watch a Teaching Co. lecture series on Dante. Then I plan to read C. S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy which is based on the Divine Comedy or so Joseph Pearce says. Nope! Plans moved to this coming summer!
The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne (this will be in prep for the American Humanities course I’m planning for teens next year) Yes! It was wonderful! Read a lot of Hawthorne over the summer and really enjoyed him.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
(ditto) Yes!
The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane (ditto again!) Nope and I took it out of my reading plans.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain (a reread for next year’s American Humanities) I'll read this spring 2009 for our American Lit class
My Antonia by Willa Cather (ditto)
Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck (ditto)

I really went on a Georgette Heyer jag. After reading Royal Escape, I read Cotillion, then The Spanish Bride, then Regency Buck (which I have reread an embarrassing number of times as I fell completely in love with Lord Worth), then An Infamous Army, then Friday's Child. I have Frederica sitting on my bedside table waiting for me to finish up two others books. Heyer writes two types of books: historical novels about famous battles or people or lovely, fluffy, Pride and Prejudice type romances. I enjoy them both!

I also remember reading Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe during the summer. It is a long book but a very interesting glimpse into the time period before the Civil War. I also read not too long ago The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith which I found to be delightful.

I am currently just finishing up reading two books: The Motivation Breakthrough by Richard Lavoie and The Water-babies by Charles Kingsley.

For American Lit we read The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass which was fascinating. What a truly admirable man!

With the kids we read Nacar, The White Deer by Elizabeth Borton Trevino. Lovely! We also read The Wonder Book by Nathaniel Hawthorne, D'Auliere's Greek Myths and Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliffe.

Trying to remember other books I read. . . . .I'm the Teacher, You're the Student by Patrick Allitt, Daniel Boone by William O Steele (this is a kid's book and I am quite sure I read this same book as a child, as I read it I remember passages distinctly. I loved the Dan'l Boone show on tv starring Wes Parker!), a book about Blessed Miguel Pro (is he now a saint?).

I have beens slowly reading through Paul Johnson's A History of the American People.

I know there are other books but I can't remember! I probably read at least 30 books or maybe a few more than that, not counting read alouds for the kids.

I think that starting in 2009, on this blog, I'll keep a record of books I read as the year goes along.

Goings On

  • Rick got himself a blu ray dvd player for Christmas so we've been feasting, visually, on that. He got Planet Earth dvd series which absolutely incredible! Astounding beauty! We've watched the first three I think. The kids just kind of wandered in and out while we watched. They are too busy playing with their Christmas gifts. But I'm thinking I'll use this to cover geography/science. Because I am learning amazing new stuff.
  • We went and saw the Nutcracker Suite yesterday. It was very enjoyable. Becky, Sean and Josh seemed to really enjoy it (though Josh said he dozed off at one point!). Will good naturedly went along with it. Hannah left after the first act. She's seen the Nutcracker many times before and was bored. Rick was tired and just wanted to stay home and watch football. But anyway, we were in the front row so Becky had to sit up high in order to actually see the dancers' feet. We got the dry ice or whatever it is they use to make fog, drifting into our faces. It was a local production put on by a ballet school but it was quite good.
  • I've been teaching myself Bach's Menuet in G Major. Of course it is a simplified version for beginners. I'm trying to practice in 15 or 20 minute periods. I've been doing this several time a day for 3 days and I still stumble terribly over where to place my fingers or in my note reading. And I'm only practicing the first page of the Menuet. Haven't even ventured to the next. I must be patient with myself!
  • Sean likes his The Tale of Despereaux in graphic novel form. He's been reading that off and on today. Becky is enjoying her Spy Fox on the Wii. Josh is reading Salamandastron, continuing his reading of the Redwall series.
  • We played one of our new games; Blokus. Rick, Josh, Sean and Becky. We enjoyed it seems like a good game.
  • Becky and Sean have been playing together a lot, making up skits and songs.
  • Today we cleaned up the house a lot in order to host a games meeting. The kids played games; Mousetrap and Blokus, then played outside. Then the girls went up to play in Becky's room and the boys went downstairs to play pool.
  • We moms discussed chapter 1 of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • Rick started a new chapter book for Sean and Becky: Hans Brinker
  • I am finishing up a really interesting but schoolish book on motivation, entitled The Motivation Breakthrough. It was recommended to me by our math tutor. Even though the author is obviously writing for teachers in public schools or parents of kids in public schools, I thought a lot of what he said was very insightful and extremely honest and respectful towards children. I think it will get its own blog post.
  • Becky has been listening to her Glory Story cds and enjoying them.
  • Well, it looks like I'm getting carry out for dinner again. Must do full grocery shopping tomorrow!!!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Years Resolution

I have been pondering these in my head for the last couple of weeks. I have a love/hate relationship with New Year's Resolutions. I can't seem to help trying to make them but they often overwhelm me because I want to fix everything that is wrong with me(and there is a lot wrong) but of course I can't. So I fail and then get defeatist and gloomy about everything. It is a trap!

But since I can't help making them and to some extent there is an element of fun in making them, I think I'll just go ahead and make them anyway.

1. God first. The basis for everything is putting God first. So that's number one. Ways to do this are: a)read and discuss lots of things about God and his Church. This really feeds me. b)attend Mass more often c) I've gotten out of the habit of going to holy hour, so I'd like try to start that up again. d) continue to try to say the rosary as many mornings a week as I can muster. Will says he wants to do this too so maybe we can support each other in this endeavor.

2. Housekeeping. Work out systems for getting housekeeping done more efficiently around the house. Especially, decluttering, laundry, cooking and tidying up. Teach systems to my children. I feel I have really failed in this regard and with Hannah about ready to fly the nest (or so it seems) I think focusing on organization and neatness is important, just to give her some frame of reference for when she goes out on her own.

3. Eating better. If I do #2 in re cooking, I'll eat better. I do want to try to eat less bread. I think I might have trouble with wheat. When I cut down on bread, I have far less trouble when it comes to IBS. So I want to focus on joyfully preparing meals that are dominated by vegetables and fruit and protein. Also, Sean keeps saying he wants to learn to cook, so I really must incorporate him and the other kids into my cooking time. I keep trying to do this, but it never lasts very long.

4. Physical activity. I need to get up off the couch or my chair here and exercise. I know I'll feel better once I do. So I need to do it. This is always a struggle during the months of January and February especially. But I have many options. I can walk the dog, workout on the treadmill downstairs. We now have Wii fit, I can do my walking dvd. So 4 times a week, I need to do one of these in any combination!

5. Learning. I want to continue to study Latin. I'll be taking the National Latin Exam in either Feb or March. That will mean lots of studying! My poor brain! I also want to practice piano and learn to sight read much better than the clumsy way I do this now! Also, the kids have expressed a desire to study art. I, too, would like to do this and have wonderful resources for this, so I need to figure out how to get this going for us all.

6. Enjoy my blessed life. If I manage to do even a little bit of #1-5, and it is an achievement to accomplish even just a little improvement in each of these areas, I will enjoy the blessed life I am living even more. If I put God first, I will grow in faith and be calmer and more patient because the Holy Spirit will be able to work through me. If I focus on simple housekeeping systems, I will keep at bay the minor and major irritations that so often make me feel defeated and ruin any sense of coziness or serenity I might have. If I eat better my stomach will trouble me less and I will feel better and that too will contribute to feeling calmer and more peaceful. If I am more physically active, I will also feel stronger and have more stamina and think more clearly. And if I fill my life with learning, I will be energized and challenged and feel the fullness and richness of life.

And that will make it a blessed year. So here's to trying over again, keeping things in perspective and never giving up hope of change!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wonderful Christmas!

Well, I have to say that this Christmas has been pretty good! I think not hosting the big family party really kept me from the usual exhaustion I feel on Christmas day. Instead I just feel nice and relaxed! Lots of great gifts were exchanged. Hannah gave me some nicely scently hand soaps. Will gave me a little book, Nuns Having Fun - which is hysterical. Josh gave me a very nice cookbook, Sean gave me a lovely teacup and some cinnamon apple tea and Becky gave me two little wooden bracelets and a handmade card.

Rick took the cake though. He is the best present-giver ever! Not only did he give me the set of knives I've been wanting for ages, he also gave me cute little opera glasses and a Jane Austen calendar. And then to top it all off he completely surprised me by comissioning my friend who paints ikons to paint an original ikon for us. It is gorgeous! It has the Theotokos holding the Christchild but then all around her are characters from the Old and New Testaments. Since each of the kids has an Old Testament name she has all those: Joshua, Elijah, Rebecca, Hannah, Jacob. She also included Moses and Abraham, St. John the Baptist and others too. I have to go look. The funny thing is she was over the other day and talking about how she loves the colors in our living room. I never suspected a thing but she made the colors in the painting to match; all rose and green! I was completely shocked as I never suspected a thing! It is only 70% finished; she didn't get it done quite in time but that's okay. She plans to finish it up soon. It is gorgeous and I will always treasure it, and her friendship and dear, sweet Rick who is quite possibly the best husband in the world!

So this is kind of a selfish post as I'm gloating over the gifts I got! But let me remember the homily that Monsignor Tom gave last night. His message was to live Christmas all year and that means to live life temperately, justly and devoutly. That really reasonated with me. I think that is going to be my motto for the new year; live temperately, justly and devoutly.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eve of Christmas Eve

Will's band, the Hypotheticals, is practicing in our basement. It is really loud!!!!! In between numbers they lament the fact that the singer couldn't make it. His cousins are visiting for Christmas and he couldn't get out.

Yesterday was Sean's 10th birthday. I think he had a good day. I made him a lemon cake. He had a few friends over. Rick took them to see The Tale of Despereaux then they came back here for pizza, cake and ice cream. He got a lot of books for his birthday: a big collection of Garfield, Diary of a Wimpy Kids (two of that series), a book called Nicholas, which is looks very quaint and charming. He also got a neat pen knife/all in one tool.

My house is clean! The tree looks very nice. I do have to catch up on laundry though. Hmmm. I should be doing that right now. I am very sleepy but I need to start dinner, though I think I have to take the drummer and his drumset home at some point. Probably right in the middle of making dinner.

My head is in a dither, so I can't even think about all the loose ends that need to be tied up tomorrow morning so that all presents are accounted for and wrapped. For one thing the floor is vibrating underneath me. Makes me think of that They Might Be Giants song: Baby, check it out! I've got something to say. Man, it's so loud in here. When they stop the drum machine and I can think again. . . .I'll remember what it was!!!!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Chrismanukkah!

We are decorating the house for Christmas and making latkes! Rick, Grandad and Uncle Steve, all Jews, went out and got our Christmas tree. We've had fun putting up our stocking and Christmas Creches. Hannah is making latkes now. Smells wonderful!

My favorite Chrismakkah or Chrismanukkah (or whatever) memory will be Sean regaling granddad with the story of Christmas, the story of old Befana and the story of St. Christopher carrying the Christ child. The versions he told all came from our Advent read aloud, Christmas and the Saints. However, Sean has been acting like it was an ordeal for him to sit and listen to this book, though at times I'd catch him being really attentive, but for some reason he feels a need to put on this act of disdain or disinterest in things. So anytime I would pause while reading he'd suddenly chirp in, "is that it? Are you finished? Can we go??" As if he was just impatiently bearing with me while I read aloud. I found this attitude very exasperating. But there he was today, telling Grandad in detail stories from this book. So Sean-o, caughtya!!! You actually were listening and, nay, I would even say, enjoying, the stories! Hah, hah, hah!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Journal 12/18

  • Unfortunately, Becky and Sean spent the vast portion of the day in front of a video game of one sort or another
  • Sean did read some more of The Last Little Cat. He's already finished The Legend of Spud Murphy by Eoin Colfer!
  • Sean practiced piano a bit too.
  • Becky decided to make stocking for the cats and Tillie the puppy. She found old socks and wrote their names on the socks. She's put them up on the mantle in preparation for Christmas Eve. I guess I better hit a pet store and get some stocking stuffers.
  • Becky helped me make a cereal-box constellation in prep for our co-op tomorrow. I did one side as the little dipper and the other as the big dipper. Looks cool!
  • Rick taught a long Economics class to Josh, Will, Hannah and David. Then Josh went off to read Redwall and play computer games.
  • Will, Hannah, David and I watched Professor Allit lectures on Ralph Waldo Emerson and Frederick Douglass. Very interesting. We discussed Self-reliance. None of us were great Emerson fans.
  • Had to take Hannah for a short voice lesson and to get her libretto for her Christmas solo. Do You Know? I think is the name of the song she's singing.
  • Hannah didn't finish her timeline so I've grounded her from the car so I had to drive her around so much. I didn't get so draconian with Will though.
  • After Hannah's voice lesson we went shopping at the darling toy store in our little town.
  • Came home in time to take Will to his guitar lesson.
  • Got Living Memory book by Andrew Campbell. Looks great.
  • Rick worked all day in the dining room. Usually he works upstairs in our room.
  • Hannah tried to finish her timeline but didn't quite get it done before she had to go to work. Dropped her off and picked up Will.
  • Had a come and get it/leftovers dinner. I got tired of cooking meals that nobody ate!
  • Read the next chapter of Christmas and the Saints. Read about the Feast Day of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy and about St. Francis of Assisi.
  • Will is working on his timeline. I told him to finish it tonight or else!

Reading cycles

I really like the way first edition of The Latin-Centered Curriculum had delinated days for different topics of read alouds.

For the primary years the different studies are broken down into the following:

Monday - English studies (classic lit read aloud)

Tuesday - Christian Studies (Bible/saints)

Wednesday - Modern Studies (basically geography and American history)

Thursday - Nature Study

Friday - Classical studies (childrens retellings of myths and epics)

In the older grammar school years, English studies turn into the child working through the Progymnastmata.

I had a variation of this system going last spring but we fell away from it and for some reason I could never start it up with any steadiness this fall. So I think for the new year, I will again reinstate a method to our read aloud madness. Here's what I'm contemplating:

Monday - Scripture/saints (I like to start the work week out with this emphasis)

Tuesday - Classical studies (The Wanderings of Odyssesus and The Aeneid for Children)

Wednesday - Modern studies (picture books and short bios of Americans)

Thursday - music history/art history (American masters/American folk music)

Friday - Science and art projects (Human body for science in Jan/Feb; Christian Heritage for art)

I talked to the kids and we decided that since we are not going to co-op anymore on Friday mornings we'd make that our science and art time.

Since I have such trouble finishing books, I'll start one with great enthusiasm only to peter out because I have to read another book for class, I think I'll have my own rotation of reading. I am reminded of my mom's method. She always read non-fiction in the afternoon before she took her nap and fiction in the evening after dinner. So it was E H. Gombrich or Kenneth Clark in the afternoon and Austen, Dickens or Trollope in the evenings. I can't seem to swing this with homeschooling. I just don't have the leisure time. So instead I plan to devote Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to religious reading (Jesus of Nazareth or Chesterton) and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday to novels or recreational reading(American lit class or other books that grab my fancy). We'll see if this helps.


So I'm trying to work my way through Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay, Self-Reliance. Parts of it I like, mostly because I like the power of his prose, even though a good 25% of it is obscure to me because of his writing style and the many arcane references he makes. I find I don't agree with most of what I think he is trying to say. I think his flaw is he gets a bit of an insight but then uses hyperbole to make his point, going way overboard into the absurd, to drive his particular idea home. He also contradicts himself frequently, but you are so caught up in the laybrinth of his wordiness that you can't quite put your finger on where he went wrong. Of course he is the author of the famous quote, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Someone quoted that line to me recently (in last couple of years) when I was bemoaning my own lack of consistency. However, I think Emerson must have used it as a defense mechanism. He certainly didn't think he was a 'little mind.' No, he is quite convinced of his own deep wisdom. But he is also very inconsisent, so there ya go!

Here is a simple sentence that I had to read about 5 times and I'm still not sure I understand it: Life only avails, not the having lived.


What is that supposed to mean?

In context I think he is trying to say once you're dead your ideas are tired and carry no weight. That only the present, right now, as you live and breath is of importance. Now I understand he is trying to rally his reader, who supposedly is an unthinking conformist, and wants them to carpe diem, as they say. But to me it is simply ridiculous to have such contempt for past human beings who might share their wisdom with us. In fact I don't see a conflict between listening to the wisemen of the past and seizing the day. The whole thing sounds contrived just to give Emerson a platform to pontificate from.

Like the Romantics were a reaction to the Enlightment and the radical 60's were a reaction to the conservative 50's, I understand that Emerson was a reaction to the Puritans. And perhaps he was the first American to begin to express such a strong counter worldview. That might be his genius. But I don't think his insights aged all that well. So I guess I shouldn't listen to him!!!!

Alas, though, I must finish the last couple of pages of the essay. Also, I am intrigued by the essay entitled, The Over-soul. I think this explains his form of Transcendentalism which I would like to understand better. In Self-Reliance he often refers to God but his philosophy seems so relativistic, I don't know how he reconciles the two. Maybe he doesn't.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Journal 12/16

  • said rosary

  • played piano. Becky has this really simple Christmas songbook. Just at my level of notereading! Anyway, I enjoyed myself. I think I'm going to try to play piano more.

  • Read from Christmas and the Saints - read about St. Patrick and St. Brigid

  • Read a very simple Step into Reading book about Pompeii. We are going into town to see the Pompeii exhibit today.

  • Hannah is not feeling well, need to make an appointment for her.

  • Becky and Sean are still deep into their Ron Stevenson game. Ron Stevenson (you always have to say both names) is their constant companion and does everything with them.

  • Got Becky to practice her piano a little. She is going through a very resistant phase

  • Went to the Pompeii exhibit at National Gallery. Ate lunch in the nice cafeteria. Becky loved the exhibit. They had a children's guide booklet which made it like a scavenger hunt which she enjoyed thoroughly. Josh and Will kind of just quietly looked around. They seemed to enjoy it. Sean was bored and couldn't wait to go home. Something about museums just makes Sean droopy from the minute we enter them. First he was talking about a video game. I tried to get him to read one of the placards. He did ask me what A.D. and B.C. meant. I explained it and immediately he had to tell me a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip that had B.C. meaning Before Calvin. We saw a bust of Homer which of course immediately reminded him of Homer Simpson. I reminded him that we just finished reading Black Ships Before Troy which is a retelling of the Illiad by Homer. We also saw lots of statues and statuettes of gods and goddesses which was cool, since we've been reading so much Greek mythology. There was a nice short movie which we caught most of and it talked about how much Greek culture influenced Roman culture. In spite of everything, I think Sean found the whole exploding volcano/poisonous gas/burning ashes thing pretty cool.

  • After that we shopped in the gallery shop. I got books for the kids which I tried not to let them see (tho Josh picked out his own; one on Escher who he is still fascinated with; I gave him an Escher calendar last Christmas because he was so taken with the artist.) Becky bought everybody a little gift from the store; so her shopping is over with!

  • Took Will to band practice. Now Sean and Becky and playing their Ron Stevenson game and I think Josh is reading more Redwall.

  • Hannah felt better and went out with friends (of course, she's never really too sick to not hang out with friends!) She just called. Her friend's little sister is in a concert tonight so she is going to that. I told her to come home directly after that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Journal of 12/15

  • managed to say a rosary this a.m.

  • Hannah got her Spanish grade from the comm. college. She got a B. Yeah, I told her she can now go to college if she wants! Oh she also got her SAT scores sent to Steubenville.

  • Josh and Will have been busy with the math tutor this a.m.

  • Sean and Becky played Insanaquarium or some such game on the computer a lot this a.m.

  • We finished Black Ships Before Troy! Hurrah! I had wanted to finish that before Advent started. Poor Troy though. Becky said it wasn't fair that Hector's baby died but Helen got spared and treated like a queen since she caused the terrible fight.

  • Sean practiced piano (he has a jury this afternoon) and read some more of The Last Little Cat. He says he really likes the book.

  • I read to Becky: Hiccup, the Seasick Viking; Treasure Hunt, Arnie the Brave and a part of a pop up book on poisonous creatures, such as scorpions and blue ringed octopus.

  • Josh took Tillie for a walk.

  • Becky and Sean played checkers then started playing a game with a stuffed bear puppet. They have named him Ron Stevenson. This is the name of a character that Becky made up. I am not quite sure exactly who he is but he sometimes appears when the kids are playing. Ron Stevenson currently is a cartoonist who likes to draw pictures of Opus the penguin!

  • Becky, Sean and I watched the movie A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott. Good movie, lots of discussion.

  • Josh has been reading Mossflower all day.

  • Will's been playing his acoustic guitar all day. His electric is in the shop.

  • Hannah went to work. She's working a 6 hour shift today. Won't see her til after closing.

  • Sean had his piano jury. He did very well!

  • I made Potato-cheese soup, chicken salad and now I'm baking some frozen rolls for dinner.

  • Right now all three kids are playing Insanaquarium again. Looks like this game is the new hit.

Interesting article

From the Catholic Unschooling list:

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It is hard to get gifts for Sean since his birthday is so close to Christmas. He turns 10 on Dec. 22nd. So in lieu of gifts, we went to see Leahy, a Canandian Celtic band. They were playing at the George Mason Center for the Performing Arts last night. Everybody went except Will who decided he doesn't like Celtic music because I play it all the time in the car and also at home when I'm trying to clean or wake myself up on a sleepy morning! But all the rest of us went and had a great time. Can I say that I have a high strung and deeply musical child in Sean? At the end he came up to me in tears, (TEARS!) saying, 'That was fantastic!" It was really, really incredible. And he was weepy over how incredible it was!

Leahy is a family of 11 children (all grown now) who grew up on a farm in Ontario. Both parents were musical. The mother is from Cape Breton and the father from Ireland. The kids grew up without television playing music constantly. They all know how to play the piano, the fiddle, the guitar, the drums. They all step dance.

This was their Christmas concert and it was very, very Catholic! The family is Catholic and one of the features of the show were audio clips of the parents being interviewed about how Christmas was celebrated in the Leahy household. Last night, they sang lots of religious carols. They talked about how they'd go to midnight Mass and pretty much partying from Dec. 25th to Jan. 6th. They even sang a song that the choir director at their church wrote that had never been sung outside the church. In fact the choir director had it in his head and had to write it down for the Leahy's so they could sing it properly in concert! It was beautiful! I especially like their beautiful version of the Huron Carol.

Only 8 of the 11 Leahy's are in the band right now. They kind of switch in and out according to what's going on in their lives. Some couldn't make it because they were busy have babies. Nine children were traveling with the show. A fourteen year old girl (I forget her name) came out and sang a wonderful rendition of Go Tell It On the Mountain. Spectacular voice! Later she came out and step danced too. Then they had two little girls, both six, who did some wonderful step dancing too. Very darling.

The music is incredibly energetic and powerful. Sean said that the main fiddler, Donnell's, fiddle was going to catch fire. It is lots of fun. So if you want to listen to great celtic music and support a wonderful Catholic clan, go to and buy their cds!

After the concert, everyone decided that we should go to a Celtic music festival for vacation one day. Wouldn't that be cool? Rick wants to go to Cape Breton. A few years ago we got as far as the very bottom part of Nova Scotia. But we just couldn't drive all the way up to Cape Breton with our limited vacation time and little ones in tow, but ever since then we've wanted to get all the way up there!

Time to run. Hannah is having extra Christmas choir practice and can't teach RE again this Sunday. So I'm substituting again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday, 12/12 The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today has been fun:

  • Went to co-op where I got to play with the 2 and 3 year olds, Josh, Sean and Becky did ASL, Cultural Studies (Chanukah!) and Astronomy.

  • I taught the Astronomy lesson. The older kids knew more than I did, but I think it went okay.

  • Went to the Our Lady of Guadalupe puppet show where Will, Josh, Sean and Becky all helped out with the show. It was a potluck lunch too. We helped breakdown the set and put it away.

  • Brought home a friend of Josh's and they played pool for a while until the friends dad picked him up. Now we are waiting for another friend of Josh to show up for a playdate (hmmm, they are 13 and 12 so playdate doesn't seem the right word!).

One thing that has really warmed the cockles of my heart this week is seeing Sean read a book on his own! He hasn't done that since he went through the Jigsaw Jones books during the summer. And that was just because we were doing our annual summer reading contest.

So far this year he has read: Pedro's Journal (very reluctantly); Small Wolf (very short); My Father's Dragon (he loved this one); The Man Who Would Not Die (about St. Peter; he complained bitterly at first but then started to like it); now I've assigned The Last Little Cat by the same guy who wrote School on the Wheel, which he likes well enough, I think. But he got a book out of the library by Eoin Colfer called and he really liked it. There are at least 3 in the series. He read it in two days. That is a complete record for him. A first!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Journal 12/11

  • Rick couldn't teach Econ today. He has a court hearing in his pro bono adoption case.

  • Hannah, Will, Josh and David are reading through the Econ chapter on their own

  • Reviewed the Sacrament of Penance with Becky. She has her first Penance on Sat.

  • Read next chapter in Black Ships, The Wooden Horse!

  • Josh worked on his book report

  • Sean really likes the book he got out of the library yesterday. He actually got up and read more of it this a.m. Yippee!

  • Watched History lectures on Eli Whitney, Lewis and Clark and Charles Grandison Finney.

  • Read a little bit about Emerson

  • Slacked off most of the afternoon. Feeling lazy and grumpy now!

  • Took Will to guitar lessons.

  • Becky had fun playing with the neighbors and also coloring in some kit that Sean got for his last birthday I believe. She's been coloring for a couple of hours now. She's watching Arthur which I am finding very irritating!

  • Hannah ran errands and is working tonight.

  • Sean wants to go out to dinner since we are just having leftovers and Hannah and Rick went out last night.

  • I still need to plan my Astronomy lesson for tomorrow. No inspiration whatsoever!

  • I've started reading The Water-Babies by Charles Kingsley. I've heard about it for forever but never read it. It is delightful and full of sly humor.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another journal 12/10

It's late; 10:10 p.m. But it was a good day so I think I'll recap:

  • got a little bit of schoolish stuff done in the am. Sean: phonics, reading, math, Latin
  • Becky - piano lesson, can't remember if we got anything else done!
  • Hannah got up early to finish studying for Spanish final and then went to take it. Thinks she did alright
  • Will got up and read his Stephen Vincent Benet short story. Don't think he did much else though
  • Josh did a little math homework and started writing his book report on St. Maximilian Kolbe
  • Read the story of St. Helen and Constantine out of the Christmas and the Saints book. Lovely!
  • Read the next chapter in Black Ships Before Troy; Paris died. Very sad.
  • I got in a cooking mood and made beef stew for dinner and then chicken salad for lunch
  • Said a rosary by myself. Mind wandered terribly!
  • Becky unschooled some math. She made a little target for a stray magnetic dart left over from a dartboard we had years ago. She kept adding up points. Then she measured her height. She wants to be 4 ft so she can ride on a 'real' roller coaster, not a kids' one.
  • Becky came with me to Will's and Sean's VT. We took a trip to Starbucks and then back. Dr. Malhotra gave her a little pattern game to play with in the office. I suppose that was more math!
  • Josh spent most of the day reading one of the books in the Artemis Fowl series.
  • We watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original animated one)
  • Kids went and performed a puppet show about Our Lady of Guadalupe. A very talented homeschooling mom we know made these incredible marionettes. Will operated the Mary marionette, Josh the Bishop. Sean played a conquistador who helped with the sets. And Becky along with the creator's daughter whom she is friend's with, were angels who also helped with the set. It is a really wonderful little production!
  • Afterwards we ran to the library. Josh got the next Artemis Fowl book. I got another book out by the same author Eoin Colfer which seems geared to younger kids. Sean started reading it! Yippee! I hope he sticks with it. Becky got out several Dr. Seuss books.
  • Took Will to CLC. Hannah and Rick went out to dinner. Rick went back to work today for the first time in more than a week! He still is very tired though and feel asleep on the couch and just now woke up and went to bed!

Now I think I'll go off to bed too.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hertha Pauli

This week seems like a hard week, with Rick being ill. I am not in the spirit of Advent either. We have managed to open our Advent calendar and start our Gospel of John study, but I can't find my Advent wreath and frankly I keep forgetting it is Advent!

But one bright spot has been a book I've been reading aloud to the three youngest children. It is a used book I bought from Keller Books a couple of years ago. It is entitled Christmas and the Saints. Well, it is completely lovely. The kids have been listening spellbound. I am completely charmed. I was curious to learn about the author, Hertha Pauli, whom I 've never heard of before. So I googled and here's what I came up with!

Wickapedia also has entry. The author escaped from Austria with the Nazis on her trail. She came to the U.S. and began a writing career for children. Her brother won the Nobel Prize for Science, Wolfgang Pauli. I had heard of him before!

So I feel like I have stumbled on a little gem here. I'm off to see if I can find other books by her for children. Her best well known one was on the story of Silent Night.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Yesterday morning while at Mass, poor Rick collapsed and I, panicking (though I really think it was the right decision), had the usher call 911. So they took him to the ER and after a few hours determined that he had veritgo. The poor guy was incredibly and violently ill. Awful, awful, awful!

We got home a little before 6:00 p.m. Hannah and all stayed home all day with the younger ones. It was a miserable dreary, cold, wet day. Poor Hannah is having boyfriend trouble and is rather low.

Anyway, everything feels amiss. I don't think either Will or Josh got much of their homework done for the math tutor this a.m. Gotta get them up and going. The grocery shopping and housework didn't get done either. I'm feeling terribly out of sorts this morning. Can I just go back to bed and skip this day? Pretty please?

But Rick did wake up this morning feeling a little better. He was able to sit up and he ate a little bit of a banana and some toast with jelly. I better go check on him. He is so worried because he's supposed to fly to CA on Wed. to go to the meeting that was cancelled because his grandmother died. Now there is this. If he gets a vertigo attack while in CA he'd wind up in the hospital! Plus, if it is the inner ear causing havoc, wouldn't flying on plane be verboten?????

Lord, have mercy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

Thanksgiving Day was kind of a non-event. I went to Mass in the a.m by myself. Nobody else had their act together enough to be ready to go. The Mass was at 10:00 a.m. so that's how slow-moving everybody was!

Grandad and Steve came over around 11:00. Becky played with uncle Steve for the most part until Tom, Susan, Theo and Andrea came over. Becky played very happily with Andrea then. We went out to a local restaurant that I hadn't been to since my sister's wedding 25 or so years ago! It was exactly the same! It really is the kind of restaurant that retirees go to. Anyway, the food was pretty good. The sad thing was they ran out of pumpkin pie which I felt was tragic. Imagine not eating pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving! Becky was so cute that night. She got her dolls out and pretended she was Mary Poppins taking care of Michael, Barbara (but she changed the name to Sally because she really doesn't care for the name Barbara!) and whoever else the kids were in Mary Poppins (they really had 6 children, I believe!).

The Friday after Thanksgiving was given over, mostly, to getting Hannah's application to Steubenville in . Turns out they are running out of housing and in order to be sure she got houseing she had to get the whole thing in by Friday. I, who had been putting off putting together a transcript and worrying about it for the last 3.5 years, suddenly had to sit down and do one in a couple of hours Actually, that was probably a good thing because I had built up such a mental block about the darn thing. I helped Hannah edit her essay. Then Rick and I ran to the bank to get the transcript notarized and we mailed it off express mail. Then Rick was hungry so we went and got an early dinner real quick and then to the grocery store for a quick shop. Back home again Rick grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for the kids. I bought makings for pumpkin pie! (Haven't made one yet though I think tonight for dessert). We watched TCM, Sergeant York, I had wanted to see that movie for a while (and actually I've seen bits and pieces of it over the years). First of all, I just don't get Gary Cooper! I do love him in High Noon, but I just don't really understand what all the hullabaloo was about with him. Secondly, the movie is so corny and propagandistic! Rick and I were guffawing at it and guessing lines which were so obvious in coming.

Saturday, the window/door man came to show us examples of new doors Along with new siding, we are getting a new front door. This is the same guy who replaced our windows when we were finishing the basement a few years ago. He is a very nice man who adopted lots of kids with his wife (as well as having their own) and they have homeschooled off and on over the years. Really nice guy. Anyway, now we are trying to decide what kind of door to get. There is a reason I was never a decorator as I have very little opinion and talent for such things. Josh had to go work at our church's Thanksgiving clothing drive as part of his confirmation service work. So I dropped Will off for his Hypotheticals band practice and then Josh off at church. Hannah had gone to choir practice and then was hanging out with her friend who is home on vacation from college. After band practice Will hung out with his girlfriend (who is the bassist for the Hypos). Then the rest of us, Rick, Sean, Sean's friend Joseph, and myself picked up Josh and we all went downtown to see the reopened American History Museum. It had been closed for two years for renovations. I have to say I was underwhelmed First of all it was really crowded so maybe that affected my opinion, but the big exhibit, "America at War" or something like that was really superficial and geared to kids but at the same time containing too many things like collages and lots of reading of signs on the walls and not enough actual stuff to see. The interactive stuff was lame at best That made me recall how I've always found that museum kind of pop culture-ish instead of deep. Rick said you could learn more about America at War in a kid's encyclopedia only you wouldn't have to deal with parking and crowds. The two things that impressed me the most was seeing an actual uniform worn by George Washington. Ever since I read David McCullough's 1776, I've been fascinated by George Washington And also we went to the exhibit that had Lincoln's Gettysburg address written in his own hand. This was not the original but a copy he handwrote later. I read the entire thing. Lincoln had very nice handwriting!

Rick and I are on TCM kick. He had recorded The Misfits with Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable and Montgomery Cliff. He had never seen a movie with Marilyn Monroe It was an odd, sad movie but had a hopeful ending. Rick said I have a body like Marilyn Monroe. What a lovely man!

So today: breakfast, Mass, grocery shopping, Latin and Math homework, piano practice, dinner and the making and consuming of a pumkin pie!

Rick finished the Mary Poppins books and is now reading aloud The Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbitt I think the kids are enjoying it Interest has waned on Black Ships Before Troy. Too much bloody violence for our tastes. Don't like reading to my children about how Hector's corpse got dragged around behind Achilles chariot. And what is with Achilles! What a prima donna! Can't stand the dude!

I have been reading Frederick Douglass's Narrative and Life Story which is so compelling and really strikes horror into one's soul about the evils of slavery. I keep reading it in light of abortion One of the Douglass' themes is that slavery does evil to the masters as well because it allows them to be cruel and inhuman. Same with abortion. We rationalize it so well and it doesn't even register with us how dehumanizing it is for all of us to allow such wanton murder.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I never got around to journaling yesterday. Went to Latin. Got 100% on my quiz, Will and Josh who didn’t study much did poorly though, as did most of the rest of the class, so the teacher is having everyone retake the quiz until everyone gets 100%.

Did some Greek when we got home. But we really didn’t do much else yesterday. We are slowing down for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Today has been entirely unschooly. Becky woke up early and got herself dressed, fed the cats, let Tillie out and then came and woke me up. She was so proud of herself!

Will and I said the rosary together.

I showed Becky some Thanksgiving projects at Enchanted Learning. We printed out leaf templates and she started tracing them and cutting them out. However, they were too intricate and she wound up asking me to do the cutting for her and then she lost interest altogether. Josh and Sean’s interest in Yu-gi-oh has reignited. Last night they started a game and they spent a couple of hours before they even got out of the pjs this a.m. playing the game. Becky watched them. She made it into a sporting event by lining up all her stuff animals to watch too, like going to a Nationals Game or something.

Will boiled his guitar strings in water! Says this helps new strings hold their tuning better. If I'd been a really good unschooling mom I would have googled this to find out why this might be the case, but I just thought of the science aspect of this right now typing this up!!!!!

Becky had piano lessons at 10:30. Will was playing guitar downstairs and Josh and Sean finished up their card game and finally came down for breakfast.

Hannah, Will, Josh and I are starting a study of the Gospel of John (Scott Hahn) for Advent. We listened to the first part, the overview, this a.m. Becky and Sean went downstairs and watched The Electric Co. dvds.

Hannah finished her application to Steubenville but is now working on the essay. She has to go to work in a little bit.

I read a bit more about Thanksgiving to Becky and Sean but now they are downstairs doing something. I hear Becky shrieking as I type this. (update: Becky had me watch a 'routine' she'd choregraphed where she leaped, danced and cartwheeled all over the basement. It reminded me of a comic strip I used to read where occasionally would feature this slightly lumpy female dancer. The first square would announce a topic: to spring! And then the remaining squares would all be this lady gleefully and not quite gracefully contorting herself into various dance positions. Cracked me up!)

Rick worked at home all a.m. but then went into work around 1:00 p.m.

Took Will and Sean to VT. While they were there I tried to run a quick errand. Traffic was terrible! I guess everybody took off early for Thanksgiving. Very frustrating and got back late to pick up Sean. Will wanted to stay in town and then hopefully get a ride from his friend to his CLC meeting at 7:30

Came home. Becky had watched the movie Dumbo while I was gone. Hannah went to work. Don't know what Josh was doing. Anyway, everybody has been vegging for a while now. Becky watching Wordgirl, Josh and Sean playing on the Wii and now looking at funny videos on the pc. (Dilbert is on youtube???)

We were supposed to go to karate but I forgot to wash Sean's uniform. They can go on Saturday anyway. But still, I MUST KEEP UP ON LAUNDRY!!!!!

I ran out to McDonald's for dinner. Blech!

Now I am going to read Black Ships Before Troy and the more from If You Were There at The First Thanksgiving.

I talked to the kids about I hoped to reduce screen during Advent. We really do too much to an unhealthy degree. We brainstormed about other things we could do instead of screen. Here's the list we came up with:

1. Reading (we could go to the library more than we have lately)
2. jigsaw puzzles
3. board and card games
4. play with magnetix kit
5. Take care of Tillie - walking her, playing with her and training her
6. exercise outside (running, playing catch, frisbee)
7. play pool or ping pong in basement
8. Crocheting/handknitting/mushroom knitting (this was Becky's suggestion)
9. art
10. writing stories (Josh suggested this)
11. baking or cooking
12. use up science kits in storage downstairs.

I wrote up the list and posted on the kitchen wall. Maybe it will help.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Journal 11/24/08

11:47 a.m.

Will got home from his CLC retreat yesterday and decompressed for the most of the evening. He didn't start working on his math homework until 9:30 p.m. Fortunately, Rick was able to help both him and Josh on their homework. Josh got all his done so he got to sleep in this a.m. This is something he needed because Sat. night he stayed up until 2 a.m. reading The Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher. He liked it so much that he took it in to show his math tutor. Sometimes they talk about books as well as math.

Hannah got up and did Spanish homework and then went off to Spanish class.

Becky had a bad dream around 4 a.m. and crawled into bed with me and Rick. For some reason I had a charlie horse at 6 a.m. which woke me up and I couldn't get back to sleep.

Over breakfast I read Devotional Stories to Becky and Sean. They fought over who got to answer the comprehension words and define the vocabulary words!

Sean practiced a bit of piano.

Josh spent a long time with the math tutor and then went off to play on the computer. Will is in with her now.

Sean read the next chapter in his book on St. Peter. Becky rather reluctantly read 5 sentences from Reader B. Then we decided to play word family bingo. This was a new game so we all worked together to tear up the perforated markers and cut up the B - I - N - G - O call cards. We listened to the Gypsy Jazz cd mix Will made for me for my last birthday. We listen to it at least several times a week. Everybody loves it. We played bingo but then halfway through Becky decided she just wanted to be the caller and not have a bingo card to fill in. She got really into reading all the words and was doing very well. I was proud of her! That game took a long time!

While eating lunch I read the next chapter of Black Ships Before Troy. Now they are playing on the Wii downstairs. Josh has retired to his room. I need to declutter and tidy because the cleaning ladies are due to arrive in a few minutes.

1:16 p.m. Cleaners are here! Siding men are banging away on the front of the house. Painter has not come by with the contract. Exterminator is due between 3 and 4 to do something about all the stink bugs that are living in our attic (and many of our other rooms).

Talked with Will a bit. He had a great retreat and has decided that his problem is he doesn't get enough sleep. So he's vowing to get to bed every night by 11: 30 p.m. I asked why he had come to this conclusion and he said at the retreat they had 11:30 lights out and he got a good night's sleep both nights and it made him feel much more clear headed and able to focus. To myself I noted there also seemed to be a lot of prayer, structure and outdoorsy time, all things that have always helped him (and me!).

Finally made the decision about Thanksgiving. I was dreading making Thanksgiving dinner and sitting around our dining room table in the way we've done for 20 years only Mom and Bubbie wouldn't be there. I couldn't bring myself to even contemplate buying a turkey. So I called my sister in law and she suggested we just go out to dinner. I just called and made reservations at a nearby restaurant for 4:00 on Thanksgiving. She was thinking of maybe going out to a movie too, just to do something we've never done on Thanksgiving, but there really doesn't seem to be any movie worth watching out. I looked at Bolt but frankly I hate paying money to listen to bathroom humor and every single children's movie with animals has lots of bathroom humor. (Except maybe Ratatuoille, can't remember).

8:54 p.m. Afternoon was slow. Very sleepy. Didn't have our usual piano lesson for Sean. this is make up week for the lessons and the teacher wasn't on the VA campus. Tried to do Latin with Josh and Will but I started to fall asleep! Went upstair and laid down and read parenting book: Good and Angry; Exchanging Frustration for Character. . . In You and Your Kids. Good book. I enjoyed it and then napped a bit! Becky watched The Fox and the Hound and then Will (who practiced guitar off and on all day) and Sean and Becky all watched Kung Fu Panda (they'd watched it yesterday afternoon too). Don't know what Josh was doing. Hannah came home and stayed in her room for hours.

Becky practiced piano before dinner.

Made spaghetti. For the first time in a year at least I actually used fresh garlic instead of garlic salt. I feel I am getting my cooking legs again. I've been so bored and OFF of cooking for so long, but lately I've been trying to make an effort to get back into a cooking groove. Didn't have to rush to music theory class. The teacher cancelled due to illness.

All the kids were actually home for dinner but Rick wasn't. Just called him, he's still working. Made the kids do their chores. Well, most of them. I notice there are still a couple of pots that didn't get cleaned.

Read more of If You Were at the First Thanksgiving book. I started it on Saturday. I've been doing the Charlotte Mason thing of having the kids narrate back to me. Sean hardly listens at all. Becky is very good at narrating back!

Becky was being very sweet and polite. She was very primly saying please and thank you. Then she wanted me to help her write up a list of all her blessings. This was inspired by the Little Flowers club last Thursday where the girls made a wreath out of a paper plate and some paper leafs. They wrote their blessings on the leaves. We taped it up to the mudroom door in the family room which pleased her very much!

Becky sat for a while reading from the Guiness Book of World Records. She seemed to know all about scorpions which made me shudder! Will practiced guitar so much his jaw hurts. He tends to work his jaw when he is concentrating!

Said prayers. Becky practiced her Act of Contrition. Now I'm sending the younger two off to bed.

Josh says he isn't interested in Dandilion Wine!!!! And now he's mislaid it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plans for Advent School

During the last few years we've always shifted gears for Advent. Mostly because we've been in high tide (or as high as I get, which is about middlin' for others) academically and then I'm all burned out by Advent. So things go lighter then and we tend to shift to other things that don't get done like art.

So here are some of the ideas that have been floating around my head:

1) I have sitting unused Scott Hahn's study of the Gospel of John. I asked Hannah if she wanted to do that with me duirng Advent/Christmas. She was not enthusiastic at all. So I kind of cajoled her into accepting. I think she really needs a little religon. She's been hanging around these public school kids and I think she really needs grounding. On the other hand, I don't want to do the study if she is going to be all draggy and whining about it I asked Will and he responded with an enthusiastic Yes! I still haven't asked Josh.

2) We've been focusing on penmanship more than copy work since September. I think we'll go back to copy work for Advent. Will started to do copy work from St. Francis De Sales Introduction to the Devout Life earlier in the year but has stopped. Maybe he could take that up again. Josh could copy religious poems out of a Faith and Freedom reader. And I was thinking that Becky and Sean might like to copy over familiar Christmas carols. That way they could really learn the words!

3) I want to finish Black Ships Before Troy before Advent and take a break from the Greeks. I have a Vision book called Christmas and the Saints which I'd like to read aloud instead.

4) I think Josh for his Kolbe lit program could focus on a couple of saint book selections they have during the time of Advent and Christmas.

5) Of course I need to get out my Advent wreath and get an Advent calendar. I always try to do a Jesse Tree but that seems to putter out about mid-Advent so I think this year I'll give a miss on that.

6) The kids doing music lessons are all learning Christmas songs right now.

7) I'd like to take everyone to The Nutcracker this year. Also we are going to see Leahy in in their Celtic Christmas concert. That is Dec. 13th (same day as Becky's First Penance!) Also, I'd like to go down to the National Cathedral and see their Creche exhibit. Maybe also see what's up at the Basilica and JPII Center in Advent. Other things happening during the season: Our Lady of Guadalupe (our Torch groups has a puppet show and pot luck) and Chanuakah with my father in law and family. My extended family's huge Christmas gathering (which I am not hosting this year! Alelluia!) and Sean's 10th birthday on Dec. 22nd.

8) We'll still have to keep up with outside classes: math and Latin.

9) A couple years ago I what looks to be a wonderful art program, Christian Art Heritage. I'd like to give that a good try during Advent. Maybe I can get Becky interested.

10) I've been really bad at getting to a daily Mass once a week. I'd like to really concentrate on doing that during Advent/Christmas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Rick and I saw Andrea Bocelli last night singing Petite Messe Solenelle by Rossini. It was spectacular! Bocelli sang tenor, the bass from Carmen (who is absolutely terrific), Alexander Vinogradov, also sang, along with mezzo-soprano Kate Aldrich and soprano Sabina Cvilak, the Washington National Chorus and the Washington National Opera, conducted by Placido Domingo.

Boy, do we have a treasure here in Washington DC with Domingo! I wonder why, out of all the cities in the world, he choose to light in Wash. DC?

The Mass was beautiful. It helps to be Catholic and studying Latin! I could follow the whole thing pretty easily whereas I think Rick was lost most of the time. I clearly heard 'Benedictus venit in nomine Deus.' And of course knew what it meant! At one point the soprano kept singing 'auxilium' over and over and I leaned over to Rick and said 'that means 'help!' That was a vocabulary word in Sean's Chapter 8 of Latin for Children this week!

We were only 5 rows away from the stage and I was directly in front of Bocelli. Rick said if he wasn't blind we could have had eye contact! Bocelli fidgets a lot. The bass, Vinogradov (did I mention that he is a fantastic singer???) prompted Bocelli to sit or stand as appropriate. I was wondering what language they were communicating in. The main players were Italian, Russian, Slovenian, American and Spanish. But Rick said he heard Vinogradov whisper to Bocellin in English, "You can sit down now!"

The Slovenia soprano not only has a beautiful voice but she is a very, very beautiful blond. Some people are just so blessed! When she sang she looked transported by the music. The American Kate Aldrich seemed tense or something and I felt she was a bit weaker in her singing, except she did the final piece, the Agnus Dei, and was phenomenal. She sang with such passion and so beautifully!

After the Messe was over Andrea Bocelli came back and sang Panis Angelicus to the shouts and bravos of the crowd. Then as a surprise second encore he and Placido Domingo sang the famous duet from The Pearl Fishers. I can't even put into words how thrilling it was, a little taste of heaven that I will remember for the rest of my life. I was for those few minutes utterly happy!

We don't go to another opera until 4/4 (Josh's birthday!) when we see Peter Grimes. Then we see two in May: Siegfried by Wagner and Turandot by Puccini. I am not familiar with the first two but I have seen Turandot before. I can't wait. I love Puccini!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Journal of 11/21/08

Today is going to be a busy day. And I'm tired and don't want any busyness. My legs ache for some reason and my head is stuffed up and I am very, very tired.

So what's on tap for today?

Co-op from 9:30 to 12:30. Thats ASL, Cultural Studies and Nature/Science.

After that I promised the kids I'd take them shopping. They all seem to need new sneakers. Sean needs some more warm, long pants. I believe all need boots (but I have to remember to look at last years and see if that is really true.

After that, Sean's friend is coming over to play.

Then I have another opera to go to this evening! This will be the last one until April or May I believe. So I have to get myself gussied again (Ive run out of gussying up clothes; don't have that great of a selection!) and take the metro downtown to meet Rick. I am really excited though because we are going to see Andrea Bocelli! Conducted by Placido Domingo! Singing Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle. Yes, Rossini wrote a Mass! So I do hope we can stay awake enough to appreciate it.

Speaking of Mass, Hannah and Will got up at 5:30 a.m. to go to the 6:15 teen Mass. It amazes that they do that every Friday. I haven't gone in a year at least. It takes me all weekend to recover from the loss of sleep!!!! I'm getting old. Anyway, as much fun and beauty this day offers, I'll be happy tomorrow when I can just hang out, putter around and be a homebody for a while.


I skipped co-op. I simply couldn't muster up the energy to get everyone up and out the door. So everbody slept in instead. And I relaxed over a cup of coffee.

I cleaned up the mudroom and took stock of boots, coats and snow pants and then ordered what we needed from Land's End.

Josh is taking his history exam. Hurrah! He'll finally be finished his first quarter of Kolbe 8th grade!

Hannah came home from Mass with her back really aching. She pulled a muscle last night just stretching. And it still hurts. She is sleeping in my bed (because the siding guys are make too much noise outside her room) with those stick on hot packs stuck to her back. She took Motrin but it didn't seem to help much.

I got some laundry done and I've finally got that chicken noodle soup I've been aiming to make all week, burbling on the stove. Becky has been watching Bugs Bunny cartoons all a.m. I love those old cartoons.

Will has a CLC retreat to go to this weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Journal of 11/20/08

Got up @ 7:30. But slept well last night!

Puttered around internet and drank tea. Loosely planned my Blue Knights meeting today. Going to focus on 4 types of prayer: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication. Sing a hymn or two and go through Mass identifying these types of prayers.

Got everyone up; made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Rick is now teaching Econ class. Becky and Sean are practicing cursive.

Becky did math: Roman numerals, probability with flipping coins and dice. Started Reader B and learned about adding -ed. Now she is playing with playdough.

Sean: Read next ch in St. Peter book, did 1 page in phonics on -or sound. Short lesson in Latin and review of 2nd declension Neuter. Math - reviewed for test.

Read next chapter of Black Ships Before Troy. Icky, Odysseus and Diomedes killed Dolon the spy and the King of Thrace and his 12 body guards while they slept.

Hannah, Will and Josh did Econ with Rick from 9:40 to 11:30 or so. Watched Am. Id. lecture on Abigail Adams with me. Went over timeline, ate pizza. Homework is to finish up timelines thru American Revolution and also do timeline page for Abigail Adams. Also to read The Narrative and Life of Frederick Douglass. We don't meet again until Thurs after next (because of Thanksgiving). Did analysis of The Tell-Tale Heart, read The Raven and The Bells by poetry and did a tiny bit of analysis. Did writing assignment for 25 minutes where they had to write a paragraph describing a room (or something) in a scary, Poe-esque way.

Josh went off and do his own thing after Econ but then I caught him at about 1 and made him study more for his history exam.

Rest of day: Blue Knights from 2:15 to 3:45. Get Will to guitar lessons at 4:15. Sean and Josh to running class 5 to 6. Still didn't make the soup. Instead I'm just going to broil the chicken and boil some potatoes and make a tossed green salad for dinner.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Journal of the day 11/19/08

10:57 a.m.I'm going to see if I can journal every day this week (well, excluding Monday).

I have some kind of mild cold that makes my head feel all swollen at night and in the morning but gets better during the middle of the day. The wind is cold and hurts my head when I go out though. Where's my hat????

Up this a.m. to clean kitchen and read Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart. We are doing Poe on Thursday with the teens. Creepy story. I remember hearing it on a recorded book that my mother had when she was blind. Scared the heck out of me for days!!!!

Josh and Will got up and did some math homework. The math tutor came this a.m. instead of Monday. She's working with Josh right now while Will works in the study trying to finish up his homework.

Hannah got up, did more laundry and then went to Spanish class at comm. college.

I read two devotional stories to Becky and Sean from the CHC reader (over breakfast). Then Becky finished up her music theory homework.

Now she's in with the piano teacher having her lesson.

Sean and I just worked for about 20 minutes on Latin, he's really remembering the declensions very well and he seems to remember and understand the different cases. I love the way they explain things in Latin for Children. Now he's reading the next chapter in his book on St. Peter.

11:39 a.m. Sean did 1 page of phonics on the 'ar' sound. I hope this helps him with his spelling as his spelling is truly dismal. Then we did a couple of lessons in his Shiller math; a fun lesson on reading really big Roman numerals and another brain teaser type exercise that had you making up even and odd numbers following all kinds of silly rules.

Becky did some of her music theory right after the piano teacher left and now she is outside playing. It is bitter cold out. She keeps coming back in to put on another layer of clothing.

Josh finished up with the math tutor and took Tillie for a short walk. Now I'm giving him a short computer break.

Will is now working with the math tutor.

12:44 p.m. Becky requested a Mad Lib so she and Sean had fun while we did one. Becky did some LoG - putting a or an in front of words and speller - read 15 spelling words and wrote out 4 of them. Sean did a little bit of Greek. Josh did a lot of Greek. He's going to finish the book before any of us. I did some Greek too.

Will had a very long session with the math tutor; just finished and is now getting himself lunch.

Josh has gone off to study Kolbe history. I think I'll help him. Sean and Becky went downstairs to play super smash brothers. I forgot to do any math with Becky.

The rest of the day: must take Will and Sean to Vision Therapy @ 2:30. Then @ 4:30 I'll take the metro downtown to meet Rick. We are seeing Carmen at the Kennedy Center. But it is so cold out and I need to dress up for the opera. My feet will be freezing. Not looking forward to that! I need some nice warm dressy boots. Anyway, Hannah has to take Josh and Sean to Karate or maybe they can make up their class on Saturday. Will needs to get to CLC, maybe he can get a ride with his friend, Johnny.

I wish my new debit card would get here. I am lost without it!

Update: Saw Carmen with Rick. Denyce (sp?) Graves played Carmen! Rick kept falling asleep. The guy is just so tired. It was 3.5 hours long!!!!! While the music is incredible and you come out humming, the character of Carmen turns me off. I think what really irritated me was Ms. Graves and the summary in the program gushed about how Carmen is all about freedom. They had a very women's lib spin on it. Whereas the truth is she is an extremely selfish, manipulative, unstable and (as Rick put it) bitch from hell. She basically ruins Don Jose life and then leaves him for another and then finally taunts him into stabbing her. The guy who played the toredor had an incredible voice. I have to say that of all the operas we've seen so far La Traviata and The Pearl Fishers are my favorites.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Journal of the day 11/18/08

I keep forgetting to do my weekly report a la WTM. Actually, we do so much in a week that it is easier to just jot down what we do each day. So here's today (with some backstory):

Got up this a.m. at 7:40. Meant to get up at 6:30 but overslept. Was exhausted from Bubbie's funeral and spending the whole day in Baltimore.

Decluttered kitchen table, kitchen island and loaded and ran dishwasher. Kitchen hadn't been cleaned and was still dirty from Hannah's party Sat. night. All day Sunday I had a terrible migraine. I didn't even make it to Mass. Then Mon. was the day of the funeral. . . .

Finished up Latin homework and studied a bit for the quiz. Got children up to eat breakfast (cold cereal) and have Will and Josh finish homework and study. Hannah was exhausted too because she had to go help close at Starbucks and didn't get home until after 10 last night. She was utterly spent.

Schoolwork for Becky and Sean (Hannah teaches them on Tuesday mornings):

  • practiced piano
  • spelling/phonics and grammar
  • Sean read another chapter in his book on St. Peter
  • Hannah read the next chapter in Faith and Life to Becky
  • Sean practiced times tables flashcards
  • Becky played with coins, counting and grouping them
  • Sean rewatched the Ch. 8 dvd lesson for Latin for Children
  • Both did a little bit of VT work

Josh, Will and I went to Latin class and took our quizzes. Not sure how well I did. Stopped at Chick fil a for lunch.

After lunch Josh, Sean, Becky and I worked on our Greek.

Josh is studying for his Kolbe History exam (except he just took a break to take Tillie on a walk).

Will practiced guitar and is now working on his math.

Hannah has supposedly been studying for her Spanish quiz tomorrow (but I think she's really playing with her hair and listening to the musical Chicago).

Becky is now playing at and Sean is now playing Super Smash Bros.

Other news: we had the season's first snow flurries today. Even though it is 40 degrees out the wind is biting cold and it is windy!

Rick has to go sit shiva tonight over in Baltimore. So I am planning to read Black Ships Before Troy to Becky and Sean this evening while he's out. We started the book last week and it is WONDERFUL! I'm absolutely thrilled by it.

Must take Will to band practice at 4:30 and take Sean, Josh and their friend to their Explosive Performance class (running class really) at 5:00.

I was going to make chicken noodle soup but I forgot to get the chicken out of the freezer so we are having hot dogs instead.

I've also caught up on a lot of laundry. Woo Hoo!!!!

The siding men are now installing the siding we ordered. However, they seem to not realize that trash should go in trashcans. Instead they pile it up in our driveway where the wind blows it around ours and our neighbor's yards. I got mad and went out and spoke angrily. They cleaned it up.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dreary Day

Bubbie died last night at 10 p.m. Rick left work at 2:15 to get over to Baltimore to visit her, but the traffic was so horrible he didn't get to the hospice until 5 something. He sat by her side for two hours but she never woke up. She was breathing very shallowly. Then he went to visit his father for a little while and then drove home getting her around 9:30. We got the phone call at 10:45. Poor Rick. Once again everyone is leaning on him. He called his uncle and told him. He'd already set up a flight for his uncle. He's looking at Maryland probate laws. He is thinking that Bubbie did not change her will after my mother in law died which is something that is probably going to cause problems.

Anyway, he went over to Baltimore today and is trying to arrange the funeral. No viewing this time and it looks like the funeral will be on Monday at noon. So maybe we'll just drive over there early Monday morning.

The whole business is dreary and so is the weather today. Poor Bubbie. I need to go pray for her. I haven't really. I just feel kind of an emptiness and also a loss of living history. She was 93 and grew up speaking Yiddish. Those folks are dying out and a whole culture is being lost. But she was a very difficult person who could be mind-bogglingly selfish or suddenly funny and charming. Her whole family dealt with her by constantly teasing her. We all certainly felt affection for her and I do remember how much she cared for her husband of 50 some years. William is named after him. She outlived him by 16+ years. But people were always wary of her too, because she'd refined the art of emotional manipulation. Well, you shouldn't speak ill of the dead, I guess. I think her presence will really be felt at holiday times because she was such a character and her personality kind of charged those events with energy (both negative and positive!).

I feel mostly sorry for Rick.

Anyway, Hannah is still having her little birthday party this evening. I went grocery shopping this a.m. for all the party stuff. Hannah cleaned up (mostly) the downstairs. I'm going to have a cup of tea and put my feet up right now and then get started on party prep duty.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


  • It seems Bubbie is dying. She's been transported to a hospice and has been sleeping mostly for the last two days. She can't breathe deeply; the cancer has come back with a vengence. The nurse told Rick late yesterday that she didn't Bubbie would be going home again. So we are waiting for a phone call. . . . I think Hannah is thinking of going over to visit her tomorrow morning. I guess we'll be there on Saturday. Bubbie has really been deteriorating for the last 6 months and especially since my mother-in-law died. I am dreading the whole funeral thing again so soon. Poor Bubbie.
  • Someone got ahold of my debit card number and spent the last couple of days buying things like gas and groceries. This all took place in Maryland. For some reason the bank thought this was suspicious activity and suspended my card. I got one of the automated phone calls warning me about it. The thief was spending money on such things as car washes, gas and groceries. Nothing very grandiose; it added up to a couple hundred dollars. Anyway it is really annoying but I find myself praying for the thief, for all I know they are out of a job and just need some cash to buy groceries and gas.
  • We are finally having the siding replaced on our house. The people before us never cleaned the siding and it was in terrible condition so they painted it. You are not supposed to paint siding! The paint doesn't hold but peels off in big strips. So after seven years of ugly siding issues we are getting it replaced. It is a very noisy process and it involves lots of banging on the outside walls which results in things suddenly falling off shelves due to the vibrations. It also involves strange men's heads suddenly looming outside my windows. And then this morning when I went out to see what they had put up I saw that they were putting up the wrong siding! We did not order tan siding with beading! We ordered smooth, white siding. Soooo, it turns out they ordered and started to install the wrong siding. Wonder how long it will take for them to get the correct siding, rip down the wrong siding and replace it. Sigh. And today they didn't come at all because it rained all day. I have a feeling this project is going to take awhile. . .
  • Hannah has complained about the incompetence of her boss at the local Starbucks since day one of her job. He sounded like he did a terrible job and caused lots of problems. Turns out he was dishonest too. He just got fired for lying to the company about hours worked.
  • I made the decision last Friday to not continue with my Friday morning co-op after December. Josh did not like it, Sean was indifferent at best and I felt like I was having to invest a lot more time and effort with little to show for my efforts. And I didn't like not being home for Hannah and Will on Friday mornings. They simply didn't get any work done on Fridays, would want to play all Sat. and Sun and then wouldn't be prepared at all for weekly obligations come Monday morning. So I'm looking forward to having Friday mornings at home again.
  • Josh and Sean have started taking a new class called Explosive Performance with Sean's friend Joseph. It is basically an indoor running class. They've gone twice and love it. The coach is really nice and encouraging.
  • I'm planning to put Becky into a nearby homeschool Girl Scout Troop in lieu of the co-op. She was the only one really getting anything out of co-op. But she didn't mind me wanting to drop out because now she's all excited about being a Brownie.
  • Our TORCH group started a Fridays games social at about the same time that our fall tennis lessons were held. We went last week and it was a big hit. At the same time, some of the moms are in a book discussion group. We are reading Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict. We got the study guide from Ignatius Press. I'm excited about it!
  • And last but definitely not least, Hannah turned 18 on Monday! I made her tacos for dinner and she had an ice cream cake. Her boyfriend, Ryan, came over for dinner. She's planning on having a small party on Sat. night; maybe 8 to 10 friends over.

So that's what's happening around here! Good night!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Election

I have to admit to feeling a bit depressed and raw over Obama's election. I liked McCain. I really did! I thought he had the experience and the gumption to handle our complex and dangerous political/economic situation right now. For some reason I always think it is better for our Commander in Chief to actually have some familiarity with the military (and not just the pseudo-stuff George W. Bush had - we see where that got us.) So I liked that McCain had that experience. I thought that someone who had actually maintained his sanity as a prisoner of war might just have the character it takes to be a strong leader. I liked the fact that McCain had a long record of public service so that we knew exactly what he was about and what his weaknesses and misjudgements were. I liked that he went in and out with the Republican party. I have major issues with the party myself, so I can feel kinship there! As for Obama, I distrusted the 'rock star' aura that surrounded him and I didn't want someone so inexperienced taking on such a tough job. And I completely disagree with Obama's 'culture of death' worldview. I find him frightening in that regard. Heck, I'll admit I find him all round frightening.

So I'm trying to be handsome and gracious about my disappointment. I don't want to lash out in bitterness or frustration or dashed hopes. Time to grow up. One thing that helps is that I truly am happy and proud of America to have elected a man of color to the highest office in the land. That is truly a triumph over the evil of racism which for so many years (and we are studying American history now and it is intricately woven into our nation's history.) has plagued our country.

Obama is now my president and I must wish him the best because I love my country. I want him to succeed where I feel it is best for my country. I don't know how he'll get us out of Iraq. Seems to me he has a long learning curve ahead of him, but hopefully he'll pick wise people who'll be able to orchestrate some kind of sensible withdrawal from Iraq. I hope he can handle the economy and help us out of that morass, but I have to say my hopes aren't high, mainly because I don't think anything he'll do will have immediate effect. I am pretty ignorant about these things (woefully so) but it seems to be you can only do so much; time is what is needed to right so much wrong in the world market. So I don't know what he can do in Iraq or for the economy but I'm hoping! As for the his culture of death agenda, it seems more likely to me he could inflict a lot of harm that way on my beloved country, already flowing with the blood of innocent life. FOCA could become a reinvigorated cause for the left who seem to have gained so much momentum from his victory. We'll have a majority of Democrats in congress. Hopefully though there will be enough little obstacles in the way that he may be thwarted. I fear a loosening up of the moderate restrictions on abortion which keep the death toll down slightly. I also fear that with the economy being so bad more desperate people will feel pressure to murder their own children in utero. So basically we'll have the worst of both worlds for a while - less restrictions, bad economy = more abortions. I hope this doesn't happen though. I pray it!

A couple weeks ago I stood outside an abortion clinic on a Saturday morning (during the time the clinic does abortions). It was pouring rain. I stood there with my little rosary and my broken umbrella and watched two women come out. One was black and had a black man to assist her. He was very kind. He pulled the car up to the doorway and then in a very gentlemanly way got out and helped this woman walk to the car and gently placed her in it. I couldn't read the woman's face. She looked wan and blank. Another woman, white, had a girlfriend with two little kids in the car waiting for her. She looked really pale and sad as she leaned on her friend's arm and was also assisted to the car. Were the little ones sitting in the back her children too??

I felt like a German during Hitler's regime watching people get herded onto cattle cars and knowing there was not a damn thing they could do about it. Only weep and pray and know that somehow one day we will all be held accountable for this. We are all guilty.

Even so, I know that if McCain had won the election abortions wouldn't magically stop or anything even close to that. But I will say Obama's election doesn't give me any hope (ironic since he campaigned on that!) that there will any turning back of the culture of death any time in the near future. But hope springs eternal. I remember the assassination of Martin Luther King. I remember the terrible times of the civil rights movement. I remember the heroism of Rosa Parks. It was a long, long battle from slavery (non personhood) to an African American President. Hundreds of years! And I guess it will be for the right to life. So I will take heart. I will speak out in charity about how we need to respect all life. I will be more active in fighting abortion and the culture of death. I will volunteer, I will contribute money, I will do whatever I can to try to save the baby humans. Because my president won't do it. My congress won't do it; most of my fellow citizens won't do it. It simply doesn't repulse them enough to go into action. In truth I have been pretty darn complacent myself.

So that's where the election leaves me. I know many are rejoicing. And I'll rejoice too (pardon me if it is mixed with a few tears, though). I live in a country where there were no bloody coups in the transfer of power. Something to be thankful for! I live in a country that no longer judges their leaders (at least) on the color of their skin (don't think we've quite gotten to the content of their character as the sole criterion - rock star good looks and a sonorous voice seems to do the trick still). But I do feel galvanized to work even harder to protect life from conception to natural death, even if it flies in the face of my nation. But we Catholic prolifers have good company. We have the ancient prophets to inspire us and we have the early church to show us how to love in a time of death and violence.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Clutter defeat!

Yesterday I was tired. I was tired all day long. I didn't want to do anything, but it was an Econ/lit/history class day for the teens, then Blue Knights, then taking Will to guitar lessons. So business didn't stop until 5 pm.

The only thing that happened household-wise was that Josh got his laundry done and I actually sat down with 4 out 5 children and tried to work out a chore plan, but the one we came up with was feeble. My idea was that I couldn't do too much because I'll find it too overwhelming, except that the house is a wreck so if I don't take some serious action here, I will be constantly overwhelmed by it. Clean House - where are you? I'd subjugate myself to humilitation if only someone else will do my thinking for me and get me jumpstarted.

Okay here's the feeble plan (which we didn't even follow yesterday because I conked out at 9:30 last night, still dressed in the clothes I'd worn all day.):

1. Clutter ( 3 prong attack) a)I declutter for 15 minutes a day some hot spot b)everybody try to live by the rule: put your things away! c) every evening have a room rescue in the kitchen/family room.

2. Laundry needs to be done every day. Hannah is in charge of laundry patrol. That means that if someone has clean laundry taking up a laundry basket for more than one day in their room they get penalized.

3. Rooms must be kept tidy at all times. (Ha!!!! First we have to get them tidy which will take a couple of weeks of digging and I have time for this right?????)

4. Kitchen must be completely cleaned every night. All who are here each evening pitch in and help. No one leaves the kitchen until said task is completed!

5. Everyone has a daily chore: I couldn't think of one for each child though! Isn't that frightening???? Becky wanted to feed the cats their dinner. Sean - ?????, Josh - takes care of Kitty litter/gerbils and Tillie's dinner. Will takes out trash and recycling, Hannah - laundry patrol.

We are supposed to go to co-op today and I really feel like not going and just staying home to regroup here. I'm too tired! And this afternoon we have game day and I am hoping to help get a book discussion started on Jesus of Nazareth. Ack!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Clutter Conquest

Clutter is my nemesis. I have never, in all my life, (and I am 48!) been able to conquer it. So instead I go through periods of grim realism where I simply ignore the piles of junk looming around me knowing that nothing, nothing I do will ever take care of the problem. Then I go through periods of optimism where I get busy trying to wittle down those piles. I never do it all the way and the minute I turn my back, the piles grow again at a seemingly amazing rate.

Right now I am experiencing optimism on the household front. So I think I'm going to record here what I do each day to declutter, from now until the weekend after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving weekend is a big clothes giveaway around here because our church has an annual clothing drive and I always unload bags and bags of clothes there.

Today: I went into Becky's room and cleaned out the eastern side of her room. I didn't get rid of every bit of clutter but most of it got either thrown away in a trashbag or put into a too-small-to-be-adequate-Amazon-book-box. The junk that was left was put into shoeboxes and tucked into her bookcase. I also cleaned off her bedside table. The table itself has been so defaced by markers etc that it really needs sanding and repainting but for now, I just got rid of lots of stuff of trash (including broken glass????) and stacked the cds in a neat but tall pile. I still need to deal with the Amazon box but must do that later. I did get the trashbag out to the trash though. That's a good thing as I've been known to begin to declutter only to find a couple weeks later that I gave up midway and left the trashbag just sitting in the room for weeks.

I'm pathetic!

Time to run to vision therapy!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

See ya later!

I'm fasting from the internet until after the election. The day after the election happens to be my 20th Wedding Anniversary! So I think I'm going to focus on my family and my prayer life instead of blogging/surfing/googling! It will be a far better use of my time right now.

Pax vosbiscum!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yesterday was a wonderful day.

First we got up and actually made it to Mass! We went this time to our parish mass at 9:15. Father Pat was the celebrant and he was wonderful. Every Friday the school children attend the 9:15 Mass and it is the most heartening and touching thing! All the children were so reverent. The children's choir sang wonderfully. The children lectors were excellent. Father Pat is so good with kids. He taught so many little things in short time he had. First of all he said: Good morning, children! How are you? To which they all recited in reply: Fine, thank you, Father. How are you? So there is definitely an emphasis on teaching good manners! Then he made them all speak up when they said the responses to the Mass. We were all responding and singing in our loudest clearest voices. He told them: say Amen like you mean it!

Then in his homily he taught about how we should be the wheat and let Jesus be the leavening. He taught about St. Ignatius of Antioch and he tied in the importance of respecting life and well, he was just wonderful.

I am going to write him a note to thank him for being such a wonderful priest. A couple years ago I did that and when he saw me next he came right up to me with a smile and said thanks so sincerely for writing to him. The funny thing is for a guy who has to live such a public life, he really is at heart kind of shy.

After Mass, we went over to the activities center because we'd been invited to join with the rest of the school to see Jim Weiss. Well, we were the first ones there and Mr. Weiss shook hands with all of us and made up sit in the very front row. He said homeschoolers were such great supporters of what his storytelling that they had a very special place in his life. He chatted with us for a while. He was so gentlemanly and friendly. All the kids in their little uniforms shuffled in. The principal of the school got up there and did a fun intro and lead them in prayer. What a lovely woman! I had heard good things about her but had never actually seen her. I was really impressed.

Then Mr. Weiss got up there and was phenomenal! He told the story of the Tortoise and the Hare and The Elves and the Shoemaker. He was so dynamic in real life. He is much more sedate sounding in his recordings. He made all kinds of jokes and had the kids roaring with laughing. He had them participating in the storytelling in the cleverest of ways, for example, he the elves trying to read a thank you note written by the shoemaker and his wife. He said the elves were just learning to read so they had to sound out the note and then he did the most wonderful silly imitation of sounding out words. All the children were hooting with laughter. And at the same time he was teaching them such wonderful values. He said that the elves didn't want the shoemakers to know that they were helping them, because, he said, sometimes the best way to help someone is to not let them know. Then they don't feel like they owe you a favor and that is the most generous thing of all. Little things like that.

So it was a very warm and fuzzy morning. We were hungry so we went to Chick fil a for lunch (I really have to get back to fasting from meat on Fridays!). Then we went to tennis. The weather was gorgeous. At first it was warm and sunny, but in the two hours we were there the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and had a nice crisp chill in it. We came home and everybody vegged. I read more in my book An Infamous Army. Georgette Heyer is my new favorite author.

Thursday, Hannah wound up praying in front of an abortion clinic for nearly 4 hours. Our parish is pariticipating in the 40 Days for Life campaign. There was an 1.5 hour gap mid-afternoon, so she filled that in. Then later she prayed with Will. The person who was supposed to show up at 7 didn't so she wound up staying later with Will. I was very proud of William, by the way. His new girlfriend is not Catholic and both her parents volunteer for the Obama campaign. I asked Will what they talk about and he said that they debate constantly. I said, so how come you are going out? And he said, Mom, we never fight, we just discuss! I was really getting worried about him because I feel like there is all this negative influence in his life lately what with being so into rock n roll and hanging out with public school kids and now dating this young girl. But now I see that he is like a lamp shining forth. He had been meeting his girlfriend after their guitar lessons on Thursday but he broke the date to go pray in front of the aboriton clinic. And he did this on his own. I was really proud of him.