Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Thoughts

It's kind of surreal how Advent becomes Christmas overnight. How preparing becomes celebration and we find ourselves in a world where God actually dwells instead of a world that is waiting for Him to come. We step from the Old Testament, into the New with hymns, carols, and bells. Actually the New Testament begins with the Annunciation of God with us, for that is truly when he came into the world, but His birth is the moment that we have a tangible sense of his presence and how much He loves us. Christmas really never ends. He has been with us since that day when he came into the world as a member of a family. We live in a world where God is with us. One day He will return in Glory, but until then we meet Him in the Mass.
Emmanuel, God with us, welcome!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Funny...Once Again

Feast of St John

Today is the feast of St John the Evangelist, and our John's feast day!
I have always loved the beloved disciple. He is so close to Our Lord.
We thank God for the wonderful Communion of Saints that we are so Blest to be a part of!

St John the Apostle, Pray for us!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

I Couldn't Agree More...

“It is exceedingly interesting and attractive to be a successful businessman . . . or farmer, or a successful lawyer, or doctor, or a writer, or a president, or a ranchman . . . or to kill grizzly bears and lions. But for unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison.”
~Teddy Roosevelt

Saturday, December 24, 2011

It IS a Wonderful Life!

Last night we watched the classic Christmas film, "It's A Wonderful Life", as we do every year.
I love the plot, the quirky dialog, the good, the bad and the ugly characters, but mostly I love that it is true!
I know a lot of people today would say that it's idealistic, unrealistic and that the themes and values are from another time.
They still watch it, but they feel that it is some kind of artifact, a tradition that takes us back in history to a time when people still believed in God, sought to be virtuous, and took care of each other.
The black and white on the screen seems to also represent a way of life that was certain and solid. Things were more black and white, and good and evil were easily defined.
People today seem to feel that the lines have blurred to the extent that a story like this one could never happen in the present time.
I disagree.
Sure, George Baily is a classic icon of virtue, whose whole life was centered around what he could do for others, and Mr Potter is a selfish,  nasty old man whose whole life seems devoted to what he could do to others to build himself up and make others crawl.
I know there are people of both kinds to be found today, and if we look for "George Baily" opportunities, we can be part of the "wonderful life" that George found when he saw the change he had effected just by being himself.
There are certainly Potters to be found, and there always will be.
But there are so many really, truly good people in our world, right now.
Even if it seems hard to find good people among neighbors, and those that we see on the news, and in day to day living, we must always remember that Our Lord is here, now, on altars and in tabernacles all over the world.
He is there to look upon, to see the ultimate good.
No matter how dark it seems, He is here with us.
No Potter can overcome the Light of Life.

Christ is not a memory, or an historic figure from another time.
He is with us always and with Him in the world, it can't be anything but a "Wonderful Life"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It Can't Be....

...That we can earn our way to Heaven, because if it were possible to get to Heaven simply by being good, God would have to let Maggie in. It is a testament to the intrinsic value of the human soul, that a person who has done unspeakable evil all his life can have a conversion at the moment of death, be truly repentant for his sins, and gain Heaven, after a time of purgation.  That an animal that has lived every moment of her life in total loyalty, obedience and love of others, and yet has no place in eternity, is such a stark reminder of the responsibility that we have, as beings created in the image of God, to try serve Him on Earth as best we can. Yet we have to be mindful of the fact that we can never be "good" enough to be worthy of entering into His presence. We must simply love and love simply.  That we will live in Eternity is certain, our place in Eternity is not.
God gave us the animals and their place is here, He gave us Eternal life and our place is there.

Prepare Ye

This is the last week before Christmas!
I can't believe how Advent has flown.
We are enjoying a nice break from school and the boys are sleeping in, reading, and just enjoying the slower pace.
Having most of the shopping and baking done, leaves me with some quiet, peaceful moments as well.
I feel like we were sick for so long that I missed about a month of normal life! There are things that I find I did that I don't remember doing, and things that I wanted to do that I couldn't. It was a good lesson in patience. I slowed down, let some things go, and still, here I am, the week before Christmas, with most everything done!
I think that preparing myself for the birth of Christ was easier this year, because I have had a lot more down time. I want to remember the lessons of this Advent.
Life can become so frantic, and it is so easy to focus on the macro, when the big picture is where the blessings are.
I have been spending a lot more time talking to my kids, all of them, even the ones in Texas.
I have been putting a meal on the table almost every night, instead of rushing to get everyone fed so that I can run to whatever is pulling me away.
I am much more present in the moment and I am so much less distracted by the details of things that I have no control over anyway.

I hope that I can make a habit out of this!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Last week we headed down to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA for what may have been the best vacation time the boys have ever had.
They are all old enough to really enjoy the park with little supervision, and so many of their friends were there, that it made for a really special trip.
Several of our Homeschooling families went at the same time, and it was the perfect combination.
Our friends the Watkins allowed us to "adopt" their two boys, Liam and Henry, and they are just wonderful kids. The Watkins and the Hoppel families were there, along with the Baldwins, the McCarty Gibsons, and the McClanahans.
I love all these families, and I also love the fact that the Great Wolf is a place that is safe and allows all the boys to just go do what boys do.
This is the third time that we have made the trip to a Lodge, and I am thinking we will do it again next year. Even the parents seemed to be having a great time!
We are so blest with so many good friends.
A few Hoppels...

Watkins love...

My guys!

Off they go!

John? and Liam

Happy Watkins going with the Flow

So much fun!

Tim and the boys climbing to the slides
 Here's Brendan and Paul on the Flowrider!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Some Lighthearted Thoughts...

I love Mark Steyn, because he makes even the most dreary and discouraging geopolitical forecasts downright enjoyable. His book "After America" is a look at the decline of our great nation, if we don't change direction and go back to the founding principles that we started with. I think he is brilliant, but I really hope he's wrong. If he's not, then we are in for...
well, I just hope he's on the wrong track.

Mark Steyn
Statist Delusions
The bill for cradle-to-grave welfare has come due.

The president of the United States came to Osawatomie, Kan., last week to deliver a speech of such fascinating awfulness archeologists of the future sifting through the rubble of our civilization will surely doubt whether it could really have been delivered by the chief executive of the global superpower in the year 2011.
“This isn’t about class warfare,” declared President Obama. Really? As his fellow Democrat Dale Bumpers testified at the Clinton impeachment trial, “When you hear somebody say, ‘This is not about sex,’ it’s about sex.” The president understands that “Wall Street,” “banks,” “fat cats,” etc. remain the most inviting target and he figures that he can ride the twin steeds of Resentment and Envy to reelection and four more years of even bigger Big Government. His opponents, he told us, “want to return to the same practices that got us into this mess . . . . And their philosophy is simple: We are better off when everybody is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules . . . . It doesn’t work. It has never worked.” He blamed our present fix on “this brand of ‘you’re on your own’ economics.”
Read the rest here...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ave Maria...

Feast of The Immaculate Conception

 Immaculate Mary,
your praises we sing.
You reign now in Heaven
with Jesus our King.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria!
In Heaven the blessed
your glory proclaim;
On earth we your children
invoke your sweet name.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria!
We pray for our Mother,
the Church upon earth,
And bless, Holy Mary,
the land of our birth.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria!
We pray you, O Mother,
may God's will be done
We pray for His glory,
may his Kingdom come.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria! Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria!
Lourdes Hymn

It can't be a whole week since I posted! Where have the days gone?
Last weekend is a blur, as we were still sick, but able to go out and do things.
We went to Mass Saturday, because the boys had to serve, and we all made it through without coughing.
Sunday Tim took the boys out for the afternoon, while John hung out with his friend Kevin.
They all had a Squires meeting that night, and I had to catch up on Bible Study stuff.
We are all really excited about the upcoming Christmas break.
Monday night I went to a meeting with some of the other parents in our co-op, regarding the upcoming Shakespeare experience. The kids have chosen "King Lear", which presents some rather major challenges in the casting dept. There are not as many roles, there are only 3 female parts, and there are a LOT of kids that are hoping to be given large parts. Paula has some great ideas for dealing with these issues, and we are all working hard to help her.
We have a great team working on the play this year and I love that there is such an interest on the part of the kids.
John is preparing his monologue for the audition, and I think he will do well. He has made great progress since the first one, and he did well that time!
Yesterday we were home slogging away at school. We are trying to get as much done as possible before the break. I want to put the books away for three weeks knowing that we are on track for an end to school in May. It will be a challenge in some subjects, but I think we can do it.
The kids are almost halfway through their math books and that is the subject that I use to determine where we are. John is really working hard in Algebra. Can I just say that we are really not a math family?
John is my hero.
Tomorrow being the feast of the Immaculate Conception, when Mary was conceived without sin in her mother's womb, we are heading down to DC to attend the noon Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, my all time favorite church.
It will be awesome to celebrate with Our Lady, and make a special pilgrimage.
We are also going on a tour at the Franciscan Monastery nearby.
I'll be sure and update with pictures tomorrow night!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Just a Hopeful Thought

I am really hoping that we are just getting all the health issues out of the way before a new and extremely healthy New Year!
I will stop coughing before 2012.
Paul will  stop coughing before 2012.
Laura will be delivered from colitis.
Nina will be spared any more hives/ allergy problems.
I can do anything for a month.

St Pio...Pray for us!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

11th Hour Advent...

It may have come to the attention of my friends and family, that I have been a little under the weather.
In fact, until this morning, I have been pretty much holed up in the house with one sick boy, or another, and then myself, for three weeks.
Needless to say, I haven't been able to do a whole lot of preparation for Advent, and every year I run into the same problem.
I end up running around looking for advent candles WAY too late. Last year I think I did the best. I had them a couple of weeks before.
The reason that I always run into this problem, is that a few years ago I decided that I was through with Advent taper candles. I hate trying to get them straight and then having them burn down before we are even half way to Christmas. I hate that they drip all over everything. So, I started buying nice big pillar candles. I would put them on a plate, with greenery, and they would last until Christmas, and after. I could burn them, one at a time until the middle of summer!
Unfortunately this year there is a dearth of purple, and pink, candles everywhere, unless you want to buy online and pay a ridiculous amount. I should have snatched them up in September! I have looked everywhere, and I was almost ready to buy plum, for the purple and strawberry, for the pink, in desperation.
So today, the day before Advent, I finally feel like I have the energy to get out and shop, and I also have finished my antibiotics, so I don't have to worry about sharing.
We started at a Walmart far, far away. In Fallston, to be exact. I had seen online that they had purple and pink pillar candles in stock. They didn't.
They did have this interesting votive candle holder, with five cups.
John said that an advent wreath doesn't have five candles, and that it looks like a "Catholic Menorah", which is fine with me.
I have actually seen Advent arrangements with five candles. You burn the purple and pink in order, and then you burn the white one on Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ.
So I bought it, but they only had one beat up purple candle. I didn't buy it, because it was all broken, but I knew they had the right color somewhere.
So we headed to the next Walmart on our route. They had two purple and one pink. Oh and I bought a white. There were lots of those.
We had one more that we could try. I looked in the candle aisle and they had exactly two purple. I bought them both.
So it's a little different, but I like it, and we are ready for Advent, the new Roman Missal and a beautiful season!

The More We Know...

...The more we realize how little we know.

H/T Creative Minority Report

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today We Are So Thankful...

 For so many good things....

A pot full of potatoes....

A place to cook....

A Turkey once a year....

Coffee in a favorite cup...

A family table....

The guest of honor...

Enough to eat....
Forever friends....

Thanksgiving 2011....

....Is a bit quiet, as holidays go, because most of us are sick, and Nina and Lilly can't come to dinner. Thanksgivings in our family have always had a reputation for some kind of catastrophe. We had a run of three years where everyone that hosted had some kind of water issue. Last year, well, last year Thanksgiving fell between Mom's death and her funeral. That was tough. This year we are all sick.
I wonder if God is trying to get me to sit down, one day a year, and think about all the things that I take for granted. Like water, family, and health. We are supposed to be thanking God on this day, and it's always so busy. So today I am thinking about how lucky I am that this particular illness is going to go away, and I am thinking about how blest we are to have Tim's job, a warm house, a bunch of healthy kids and grandkids, and yes, a Golden Retriever.
There are so many things to want, in the world today. It's so easy to get bogged down in wanting and wishing and "if only", but there are so many people for whom the things that we consider basic necessities are "if only".
If only...there were clean water within walking distance.
If only...we had a bathroom inside the house.
If only...I could look out the window and see green grass.
If children could eat three times a day.
If only... my kids could go to school.

We have so much. I think a day devoted to giving thanks is a great start.
Let's not lose sight of our Blessings on the other 364.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dad Has A Blog!!!

Dad has been getting some pretty intensive tutoring on the laptop while he is at the Cooke's.
Andrew went through the computer and updated everything, got all the passwords straightened out,
and now Dad is good to go.
Laura says that they have been helping him with the things that he wants to be able to use the computer for, like Netflix, Gmail, family blogs, AND they set him up with his own blog last night! Very exciting!
Now he can share all those thoughts that he thinks in his spare time. Blogging is a natural for Dad, I just wish the computer was easier to navigate. It will be....just takes practice.
Here is a link to the blog.....Dick Hendry
Stop on over and say "Hi"!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

20 Children Is Not “Too Many.”

“Selfish, irresponsible, insane, stupid.” “I hope she dies.” “She should have been aborted.” “I hope her child is a vegetable that will fill them with regret.”

Horrible, hateful words spewed about a woman who has likely never wished anything but kindness on others. Words spoken by people who have never met this woman. What heinous crime has she committed that deserves this antagonism?
She and her husband announced that they will be having a baby. Which is not a terribly astonishing announcement for most married couples to make, except…

Courtesy of

This will be the couple’s 20th child. The mother, Michelle Duggar, is 45 years old. Her pregnancy with #19 involved complications that resulted in her child being born nearly 15 weeks early. These 3 factors (number of children, mother’s age, complications during last pregnancy) have turned this once again newly-pregnant mother into the butt of crude and cruel jokes and downright hateful taunts.**
The mantra of our modern culture: “my body, my choice, don’t judge me”, apparently only extends to women who wish to end their pregnancies by abortion; a woman who wishes to GIVE life to children is mocked and derided by the very people who believe that “I need to do what’s best for me.” In the words of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the father of a large family himself:
“Why are people impressed that Jay Leno owns 20 motorcycles, but disgusted that some religious families choose to have 10 children?
Let’s not finesse the response. We all know why. A world that has lost its innocence has trouble appreciating beings who are innocent. A world that has become selfish has soured to the idea of leading a life of selflessness. A world that has become grossly materialistic is turned off to the idea of more dependents who consume resources. And a world that mistakenly believes that freedom means a lack of responsibility is opposed to the idea of needy creatures who ‘tie you down.’”
Sadly, many people who condemn this family for opening up their hearts to another child consider themselves Christians, or even Catholic. So, what is the Bible’s opinion on Mrs. Duggar’s elusive #20?

Read on....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sick Day....

Well, Brendan's bug caught four of the five of us....
I got up and started coughing, but I got my coffee and prepared to greet the day.
Maggie was making it clear that she needed a trip outside, so I got her leash and my shoes, stepped out the door and off the porch, as I stepped down onto the walk I rolled my foot and ankle and fell in a heap in the yard. The pain was excruciating, but I have done this before, and I usually just need ice and Motrin to get things back into shape.
 I hobbled into the house and yelled for the boys. Maggie still had to go out and she was very confused about why I had fallen and why we came back inside. Her curiosity really wasn't helping.
 The boys were all still asleep and they came flying downstairs to see what was wrong. I probably scared them to death. They came in, and John took Maggie, Brendan got me ice and Paul patted my arm and tried to make me feel better.
 I was just starting to feel like I might not actually pass out, when Paul's cough caught up with him. He started to cough, and then HE dropped to the floor. He said he had a terrible pain in his groin. He was crying and could barely move. We got him to the couch and I called the doctor. They told us to come in an hour later.
 I got in and out of the shower real quick and got Paul dressed and carried him out to the car. Yes, I carried him with a swollen and still very sore ankle.
I took Brendan as well, to help me out, and also because he has had the same bug.
The waiting room was empty and they got us right in. When Dr Hedwig came in, she only had to look at Paul to see that he was in pain. She looked at his chart and asked about his immunizations. He and Brendan have a rather unorthodox vaccine record, due to Brendan's reaction to the DTAP, and neither of them are immunized against Pertussis. This did catch the Doctor's attention! She told me that it is going around in this area, and because of the severity of Paul's cough and the fact that he hasn't had the shot, AND given that Brendan is sick also, we were told to head over to the health dept. for a test.
The doctor also found what she thinks is an inguinal hernia, which would not be uncommon, with all that coughing. We have a slip for a sonogram, but since the test won't come back until Monday or Tuesday, I hesitate to take him in to a place where there are a bunch of unsuspecting people.
I really doubt that it is Whooping Cough. I have the same thing and I have had stuff like this before.
We got a round of Zithromax anyway, and Tylenol with codeine, which I gave to both the boys tonight before bed, If Paul does by some chance have Pertussis, then the rest of us will go on it as well. He will have had three doses by Monday so we will go get the sono then, because he won't be contagious. His pain is a LOT better and he was horsing around with Brendan a little while ago, which we told him is a big no-no.
So it is looking like a quiet weekend with Paul on the couch and hopefully on the mend. If he isn't any better by Sunday, we'll know it was just a virus and it's the same thing that most of the Western Hemisphere is sick with.
Everywhere you go everyone is coughing and telling sad tales about how bad it is and how long they have been sick. It sounds pretty familiar, and they don't all have Pertussis, so I suspect that's what we have too. It's the most horrendous tickle in the throat....
John is totally healthy, and so he gets to go to Co-op and Swing dance tomorrow night. That will be a fun distraction for him. I am going to duck into the Good Shepherd Bazaar just long enough to see Lilly sing and get some of their wonderful spaghetti for dinner. Should be a day at home otherwise.
Hope everyone feels better very soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Around Thanksgiving our focus turns to food and family.

Interestingly, the two things  that are given so much emphasis at this time of year, appear to be connected in some very important ways. Recently the internet has provided some articles featuring the results of a study showing how important family meals can be...

According to a study done by the National Center on Substance and Addiction at Colombia University, when comparing adolescents who eat dinner 0-2 times a week with their families and those who eat dinner 5-7 times, those who eat with their families more frequently are 40% more likely to talk to their parents about a problem. Meanwhile, 171% of the teens who don't eat with their families note more tension at home.
Academic performance went up 38%. Kids were 142% less likely to smoke, 93% less likely to drink, 191% less likely to use marijuana and 169% less likely to have more than half of their friends be drug users.

There is an initiative online called "Grace Before Meals", it is a movement that has been started by Fr. Leo Pataglinghug, "The Cooking Priest". He has some great ideas and tips to get things flowing, and he wants to make this a national effort.

These are all great reasons to get started eating meals together, but the most important reason to share a special time each day, is that families grow and change so fast. One day you are spooning strained carrots between the gums of your six month old, and then you turn around and your 16 year old is asking for seconds. The family meal brings us together every day and gives us an opportunity to share, nurture, and learn about the people we love. It may be the only time that Dad gets to hear about the Science Fair project, or it might be a time when Dear Daughter can discuss her difficulty with another girl at school.
Our lives are moving at the speed of electrons these days. It can be tempting to leave something in the fridge, for everyone to grab, and hope to have a quick chat before bedtime, but if this becomes a habit, the days will fly by filled with everything but time together.  If we can make meal time our own, claim it for our families, we will have those times to build a foundation for the future.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Brendan's Annual Fall Picture

Every year we take a picture of Brendan in the neighbor's trees at the height of their color.
Today was the day.

This was totally Brendan's idea, a few years ago, he just loves climbing those trees!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Today Was...

Sunny- Fall may be here, but the weather is gorgeous!

Educational- Everyone got all their work done AND I got most of it corrected.

Healthier- Brendan's cough is finally starting to fade. Tonight he is actually having a quiet night!

Affirming- I had a review with my good friend, Nettie, and she gave me some great feedback. It is good to have a direction, and yet to know that I have the freedom to do work I love in a context that fits the vocation that God has given me as a wife and homeschooling mom. Nettie is so willing to help me find ways to contribute to Sappari Solutions without giving up precious time at home.

Musical- John got the book of piano pieces he ordered! I am very excited that I will be able to hear him working them out and eventually playing them the way he wants to.

Grace-filled- I was able to attend a teaching Mass for our Religious Ed students. The high school kids were quite well behaved. I only had to give them my "mom look" a couple of times. The Mass was very nice and Father Jay did a great job with the kids.

Prayerful- We are so grateful for all the families in our TORCH group. There are several families that are going through some really tough trials right now. The moms in this group are so willing to pray and support each other. We are all going to face trials, through the years, but we have a sisterhood of wonderful women, and their families that will lift us up in prayer, and be there to listen and try to understand.

Thanks God, for a day of Blessings and for your presence in every moment....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Words of Wisdom From Elizabeth Foss...

What I'm Never Going to Tell You

I heard a story the other day from a mother about my age. She's a faithful, hardworking, dedicated homeschooling mother with a loving, faithful spouse. They've done everything they can to raise their children in the light of Christ. She lives her faith authentically and though she's the first to admit that she fails daily, she has absolutely worked hard to have a Christian plan and to live moment by moment faithful to that plan.
And today, she wants to curl up in a ball and die.
The eldest of her eight children, a beautiful girl who has been carefully raised and loved wholeheartedly, is wearing all black, tattooing her back, piercing her navel and her nose, coloring her hair pink, and engaged to be married to a man who is a professed and angry atheist. She is rejecting her family, their values, and their faith.
Her mother feels like her entire life is a shredded heap of failure. This--the raising of children for God--has been her whole life's calling. When she was young and newly married, she sat in church basements and parish halls and listened to energetic, inspiring mothers a few years older than she tell her all about how to be a virtuous wife and mother. They detailed home-management systems and homeschooling curricula. They talked about raising children of virtue. They promised that if she only listened to God's call and lived her life intentionally, faithful to the precepts of her religion, she would raise holy children. Some even went so far as to promise that Catholic homeschooling would guarantee she'd never be confronted with trials of secular teenaged and young adult culture.
She believed those women. They were well-intentioned, good-hearted and living their own lives in the manner they described.Together, they'd all raise a holy generation for the glory of God.
Now. Now she looks at this child-grown-woman, this first beautiful soul with which she was entrusted, and she is sure of only one thing: she has failed. So sure is she that she doesn't even see the point of pressing on. There are seven other children still at home. Why work so hard--try so hard--if all that lies ahead is the inexplicable decision by those children to walk a path that is clearly not the path she envisioned? She wanted to do nothing more with her life than to return to God the children He entrusted to her and now, her child has chosen to live apart from Him.
Whether in this space or in person, there are some things I'm never going to tell you. The longer I live, the longer the list grows. Please don't misunderstand; most Christian homeschooled children are faithful, well-educated, wholesome kids. They're hardworking and engaging and just exactly the kind of friend you'd want all your children to have. But more than a handful are fully grown on the outside and still a long way from what their parents hoped on the inside. So...
I am never going to tell you that if you mother your children with all your heart, embrace your vocation and dedicate home and family to God, instill in your children strong moral values and carefully protect the seeds of faith that the following things won't ever happen. Because they might. I have seen them happen, either in my own home or in the homes of people I know personally.
::I'm not going to tell you that your child won't go to college and party just as hard as the kids who went to public school and never went to church.
::I'm not going to tell you that one day, your grown son won't scream at you it's all your fault that his life is a miserable mess because you didn't send him to school and furthermore, you never let him eat junk food. And he will mean both with equal passion.
::I'm not going to tell you that your twenty-year-old won't be arrested for being drunk in public.
::I'm not going to tell you that your daughter won't get pregnant her first semester in college.
::I'm not going to tell you that there won't be tattoos and piercings and pink hair.
::I'm not going to tell you that your daughter won't send text messages so laden with profanity that they'd make a sailor blush.
::I'm not going to tell you that homeschooled girls don't post mean status updates to Facebook during youth group. I won't tell you that by homeschooling you will avoid any teenage drama at all.
::I'm not going to tell you that despite all your charts and the careful planning of household chores to instill responsibility and work ethic, your twenty-somethings won't drive cars that smell like old Taco Bell and live in rooms so full of dirty laundry that you can't see the floor.
::I'm not going to tell you that you won't learn your daughter has a secret online identity and that she has been cutting herself.
::I'm not going to tell you that one day you won't find a six pack of beer and a Playboy in the back of your seventeen-year-old's pickup truck.
::I"m not going to tell you that you won't catch your highschoolers looking at very questionable websites when they're supposed to be doing online Latin.
::I'm not going to tell you that your daughter won't enlist in the Navy and not go to Mass once in the first eighteen months she's away from home.
The list could go on. The reality is that homeschooling families are not immune to any of these things, no matter how hard we try and how long we pray.
Only one woman in the history of mankind has raised a perfect child and she would be the first to assure you that it was all by the grace of God.
If my mail is any indication, we need to start talking about the fact that homeschooled kids grow up and sometimes they make poor choices.
Saint Peter walked with Jesus. Jesus was his teacher in the faith. Jesus was the Master Teacher. And still, Peter was a liar, a denier, a weak-willed wimp-- right up until the time that Jesus died. He was taught by God Himself, surely the best teacher of all, and he didn't get it at first.
But in the first few moments of the Acts of the Apostles, after he has been filled with Holy Spirit, he is every bit a man of God. He speaks boldly and eloquently. He is a leader for Christ and that very day, three thousand people are baptized at his invitation.
I think, dear ladies, that some of us will be called to wait in faith for the Second Act (or our own version of Acts 2).
We need to encourage one another to walk this walk of faith, but we need to be very careful that we don't rally around a certain prideful arrogance. Sometimes, in our zeal to hold each other accountable to a Christian life of virtue, we step dangerously close to pridefully suggesting that if we just do prescribed things all the right way, we will turn out brilliant, holy children. And we forget that it is not mothers and fathers who make Christians of children; it is God Himself, in His own time, according to His own plan.
Are we prideful enough to believe that if we just do things a certain way we can overcome free will in our children and raise perfect, sinless saints?
Because we can't.
There are no sinless saints.
An important corollary to this idea is the fact that we must be careful not to assume that it's a flaw in parenting that has resulted in a child's decision to live outside the life of faith. Children--even carefully raised children--grow into adults with free will. Every choice a child makes is not a reflection of his parents. It's reflection of that child's own relationship with his Creator.
God isn't finished yet.
Where does that leave us in our mission as parents? What hope do we have?
We can only labor together towards heaven. We can homeschool because we believe that, in the words of Willa Ryan, quoted in Real Learning, " [we]want our family to meet in heaven someday, and [we] think we have a better shot at it if we journey together as much as possible. God put us together for a reason." We can build a strong family culture. We can walk together, just as Jesus walked and worked with Peter, every day, day in and day out, endeavoring to be Christ to one another, sure that we have free will, but we can have grace, too. We can be confident that they will leave home and that they will all make poor choices and some of them will make very poor choices. However, we can cling to the truth that as we wait for God to work in the hearts of these children in whom we've invested so much, it is we who can rely on the grace of all those years of doing.
It is we who soak up the encouragement of the noble, true, right and lovely things we taught them and cling to the faith that the seeds were planted and one day the fruit of potential we know is growing will ripen on this tree we tended lovingly when it was just a vulnerable sapling. We can reflect on the years in our homes and know that that those children--despite their poor choices in the moment--do know who Christ really is.  They have walked with Him in the lives of their families. They just don't really think they need Him right now.  But soon enough, I think, they will.
And, in the waiting, Mama need not curl up in a ball and feel like a failure. Instead, she can reflect on what those years of careful tending have taught her, on how they've watered her own soul.It's not all about the kids; it's about our journey to God, too. His car might smell like Taco Bell after 24 hours in the Texas sun, but her home reflects an order and an appreciation for beauty that has grown in her soul over the years of her own growing up--the years she has spent as mama and wife. All those days of carrying heavy babies and cranky toddlers to church to be in the presence of our Lord, all those long nights rocking and praying, all those mornings wrestling with commas and apostrophes, all those hours laboring to bring life into the world--they are not for naught. They are the many moments of grace that strengthen us for the pain of the thrice-spoken denial and sustain us in hope for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
So I don't leave you with promises that all will rosy if you just work hard enough at it. I only leave you with the promise of His grace in the hard moments, the moments that you are sure you've failed at the one thing you've worked hardest at your whole life.  I leave you this morning with words of hope for mothers in anguish:
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.
James 1:2-5

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Nice Weekend

We had a great weekend!
On Saturday I went out first thing and got a haircut.
That was a much needed improvement! I went to the grocery store after that.
Tim and the boys were here at home working on the back yard. I missed getting pictures of the leaf raking activities this year.
I was blest to be able to attend a baby shower for my good friend, Celeste. She is due with her fourth little boy in a couple of months. It was so much fun, and there were so many really nice women there. Celeste has some wonderful friends.
I mowed when I got home, and then we had a nice dinner and the boys watched a movie with Tim.

Yesterday John and Tim went to Mass at Perry Point, and Paul and I went up to Good Shepherd. Brendan didn't go because he has a terrible cough. If he isn't better by Thursday, I am going to have to take him in. He doesn't have a fever, and the cough is just in his throat, so I am thinking allergies.

Tim and I went out to dinner last night to celebrate the end of my coaching class. It was really nice.
We went to Sakura, which is one of our favorites.
After dinner we went to Barnes and Noble, and I got a couple of books for Brendan and Paul. When I got home I ordered a book of piano music that John has been wanting.

We are in for a busy week. John is starting another round of braces, so he has to get his spacers put in.
I will be working with several people, but I am not getting paid for these. I have practice clients that I am coaching, and I am really enjoying that, it is a great way to hone my coaching skills and help them out at the same time! I am also working with a friend on getting a couple of rooms cleared.
I will be meeting with Nettie this week to figure out what my goals are for work.
I can't commit to much outside of coaching. We have to keep forging ahead on school. I have to keep my focus there. The boys are working hard, but it is really important to keep up the momentum.

I can't believe we are into the second quarter of school already!

Friday, November 4, 2011

First Friday of November...

Today was First Friday, and as we have committed to trying to make a pilgrimage of one sort or another each month this year, we decided to go down to Ellicott City, to the Shrine of St Anthony.
Brendan has a very special love for St Anthony and St Anthony seems to have a love for Brendan as well. They are pretty tight.
Our friends the Bowers were there as well. It was great to see Yanna and Val take up the gifts at the Offeratory!
This shrine is wonderful!
I have taken information off of the website, the text in blue is copied from there....

His story is so beautiful. You can read it HERE.

The Jewel of the Shrine


The jewel of the Shrine, and its most important room, is the Chapel.  Upon entering the Chapel itself, one should pause, realizing that this is "sacred space" and "holy ground" – where an atmosphere of holy silenceprevails, creating an oasis of peace for the Divine Presence within.

With its beautifully carved gumwood choir stalls, its mosaic Stations of the Cross, and its coffered ceiling, the Chapel is a gem of the early Renaissance.It has four distinct areas: the interior narthex, the nave, the sanctuary, and the apse.

In the narthex is the reliquary of St. Anthony. This gold-leafed bust depicts the Portuguese Franciscan whom the whole world would come to know as the “miracle-worker” and “finder of lost things.”


In the middle of the flame is a precious first-class relic of the saint – a small piece of petrified flesh removed from his sarcophagus in Padua, Italy, in 1995. The friars in Padua sent the relic to the friars of Ellicott City in 1998.  Catholics venerate, orpay respect to, relics as remembrances of a saint whose human body was once a “temple” of the Holy Spirit.

Hundreds of thousands of people each year send the friars petitions for the heavenly intercession of St. Anthony – friend of God and friend to humanity.

The nave of the Chapel consists of the choir stalls facing each other. Here the friars would recite or chant the Divine Office, back and forth across the dark flagstone floor. The original choir stalls numbered 72, after the number of disciples sent out by Jesus in the Gospels. With the additional pews in front, the choir now seats 150.

The nave leads to the sanctuary, where Holy Mass is offered on the central Altar. The Altar was designed to evoke the teaching of Jesus “I am the vine; you are the branches”(John 15:1-8). The ambo (pulpit lectern) in the nave has a matching design, linking the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

These chapel furnishings attempt to evoke the spirit of St. Anthony, the friar and priest, who used every opportunity to encourage people to hear the Word of God and to participate in the Holy Eucharist.


The biblical tree motif also reminds people of the fact that St. Anthony, towards the end of his life, spent many hours of prayer in a walnut treehouse which his friend Count Tiso had constructed for him at Camposampiero. It was in that walnut tree that Anthony had his vision of the Christ child.

To the right of the altar is a large walnut Tau Cross. St. Francis of Assisi adopted the Tau as his “signature,” after he heard Pope Innocent III preach about it at the 4th Lateran Council. Depending upon the liturgical season of the year, one of two carved images of Christ hang on the Tau: Christ Crucified or the Resurrected Jesus. The corpus of Christ Crucified was carved at Niepokalanow, Poland, by an artist whose guardian and mentor was St. Maximilian Kolbe. The Resurrected Jesus, like many other chapel furnishings, came to Ellicott City from the former St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Granby, Massachusetts. 
Mass At Shrine

The apse at the far end of the Chapel centers upon the Tabernacle– designed with the biblical tree motif, and depicting the descent of the Holy Spirit with its seven spiritual gifts:  wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, piety, knowledge, and fear of the Lord.

Persons are welcome to enter the apse for silent prayer and adoration. The sanctuary and apse together form the Shrine’s “oasis of peace,” where Jesus Christ welcomes people of all faiths to experience themselves as infinitely loved by God.
The first class relic:

For centuries great care has been taken to authenticate relics, particularly through the issuing of an accompanying statement of authenticity. In the case of the relic of St. Anthony of Padua at the Shrine of St. Anthony there is no question of authenticity. New relics of the saint were obtained when the saint’s tomb was opened in anticipation of his 800th birthday, which was celebrated in 1995; the relic in the Shrine chapel is one of those. The Latin inscription indicates that it is ex cute, dried skin or tissue.

The relic, and the unique reliquary that holds it, were gifts from the Friars of the Province of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy to the Friars of the Province of St. Anthony in America (the Provincial House, or headquarters, is on the same grounds as the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City). As the property was developing as a shrine the decision to place the relic in the chapel seemed appropriate, and this took place in a special ceremony in the fall of 2000.

Today, visitors to the Shrine, especially those who have a great devotion to St. Anthony, feel close to the great Miracle Worker. With this physical presence of St. Anthony there is a little bit of Padua in America

Tonight the mass was a healing Mass. There were a lot of people there. It was just beautiful!
We are so blest to have places like the St Anthony shrine to visit. It is an awesome testament to the Church and to St Anthony, that for 800 years he has been interceding in special and miraculous ways for people who ask him. He is a special friend of Our Lord and it is good to have him as a special patron.

St Anthony~ Pray For Us!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall Afternoon...

Two boys,

a Golden Retriever,

leaves changing on the trees and


all over the ground.


All the best things...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Great Minds....

This is an amazing conversation! These are two of the greatest minds in the world today...What an opportunity!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

So Beautiful....

H/T Creative Minority Report

A Craig's List Win...

Last week I started haunting Craig's List in earnest for a sofa for the basement.
I knew what I wanted. I wanted a sofa with recliners on each end, but not one that was too long.
I also wanted to hold out for one that is in good shape.
After I got the office furniture at such a great price, I wanted to wait for a good deal.
So on Monday I found an ad for the type of sofa that I was looking for down near Baltimore.
I called and the lady assured me that it was in great shape and "hardly used". She wanted 200.00 for it, which was a good price for what she had advertised.
John and I got our act together after school and drove the 40 minutes to where it was located.
I started to get concerned when we turned onto the first street into the neighborhood. This was not exactly the type of place that people own "hardly used"  furniture.
We found the house, went around back to the basement door and went in and found that what the woman had advertised was not what she was selling. The sofa was snagged and dirty and had apparently been there awhile. So much for "hardly used".
When I came home I made a promise to myself that I was going to hold out for a local seller that had what I wanted. I still had the cash, and I just figured I would hold onto it until someone in Harford county showed up on CL. 
I watched the furniture ads for a couple more days and on Thursday night, at around 11:00, just before I was going to bed, I found an ad for a sofa that was exactly what I wanted, in Havre de Grace, for 200.00.
I emailed the lady, who said she still had it because she had JUST posted it! I told her I would be down the next day to see it, but it seemed to good to be true.
When I went in, I could smell cigarette smoke, which is a big red flag, but it wasn't too bad, and the room the sofa was stored in was OK.
It was clean. The recliners worked. It was the right size. The price was right, AND it came apart, so that I could get it in my van! Big plus!
I gave the lady a deposit, and told her I would be back that evening to pick it up.
When we got there I noticed a very small tear in one of the cushions that I hadn't noticed earlier, but it was so small that I didn't think it would be too tough to repair. It wasn't.
John, and his friend Liam, and I got the thing down to the basement in pieces and it began to fulfill it's purpose immediately! The smoke smell is going away and is hardly noticeable. I love it. It is so comfy!
Perfect for long winter evenings.

Another great deal from Craig's List!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Having a Ball...

The Harvest Moon Ball that is!
On Sunday we were Blessed to attend, and help out at, Good Shepherd's first Harvest Moon Ball dinner and dance.
There was a delicious meal, lots of amazing desserts,


and hours of great music!
Mathias, The Fearless DJ

The youth were the actual hosts of the ball, as it was a fundraiser for their trip to the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis.
They did a lot of serving, welcoming, clearing dishes, and DANCING!

So many great people...

Some of the kids are going to Swing Dance lessons at a local church, and they have really learned some amazing moves!
There was music for any taste.
It was a wonderful time!

Andrew and Hannah

Great Moves!

"Cotton-eyed Joe"

John and Andrew