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We’re Moving Back to Studeo

September 26, 2011

You can now find my blogging back at my old blog, Studeo:

My apologies for the inconvenience (and thanks for sticking with me!). Blogger fixed what was problematic for me, made some lovely new improvements AND they still do some things (like labeling) much better than WordPress. I’ve moved my favorite posts from this blog back to Studeo already and then noticed that WordPress was starting to sneak ads onto my higher-activity posts besides!

Also, I really like being able to search all of my archives in one place. The labels here on WordPress send you to posts by other people with the same label. Blogger allows you to look at all of the posts on one blog with that label, which makes a lot more sense to me!


Distribution of Artwork

September 22, 2011

I just stumbled upon some old pictures that I’ve neglected to post this month or more now. Before Ria left for college, she held an informal distribution of a bunch of her artwork to her siblings (ahem, mom and dad rescued a few too). This brought about both great delight, and not a little bit of angst in deciding what would go to whom. On the whole, it was amazing to see the enthusiasm with which each drawing or painting was greeted and, I guess I’ll let a few photos tell the rest of the story…

A Few Thoughts on the Feast of St. Laurence

September 22, 2011

Here’s another re-post from my old blog, Studeo. Originally posted August 10, 2010:

I heard with great interest in this morning’s homily about St. Laurence of Rome (225-258 AD, martyr under the persecution of Valerian) that, because of his great work for the poor of the city of Rome (work with the poor is traditionally a role of special importance for deacons), his death sent shock waves through the pagan community at the time and a number of very important people, including several senators, ended up converting to Christianity as a result. And of course, his story has continued to inspire people over the centuries as well.

That’s interesting in and of itself, but it also reminded me of a rather striking and challenging quote by Pope John Paul II that I happened to read last week in Memory and Identity: Conversations at the Dawn of a Millennium:

Taking their cue from the Council, Christians can engage with the modern world and enter into a constructive dialogue with it. Like the Good Samaritan, they can also come to the aid of suffering man, tending the wounds that he bears at the beginning of this twenty-first century. Care for the needy is incomparably more important than polemics and denunciations concerning, for example, the role of the Enlightenment in paving the way for the great historical catastrophes of the twentieth century. The spirit of the Gospel is seen primarily in this willingness to offer fraternal help to those in need.

Our pastor exhorted us in this homily to try to be people who can inspire others, even in our own small ways. It makes a lot of sense to me that love tends to be more inspiring than argument. 🙂

A Homeschooling Meme!

September 20, 2011

Wow, I haven’t been tagged for a meme in a very long time. So long that I almost forgot what a meme was! Thank you kindly to Kimberlee of Pondered in My Heart for the generous nudge to write. 🙂

One homeschooling book you have enjoyed.

Gotta pick at least two. I think my favorites still (partly because of the way they impacted me at the time I happened to read them) are For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist. I think I’m really ready for a re-read of that first book especially. I’m also looking forward to reading A Little Way of Homeschooling and The School of the Family, both of which are waiting for me on my shelf!

One resource you wouldn’t be without.

Honestly, truly, I would have to say our parish. Not only daily Mass, wonderful sermons and twice-weekly school Masses (today three children in one family were baptized during the school Mass – what a beautiful thing!), but also free musical opportunities (through various choirs my kids sing in), school sports and other school activities like Chess club (which all parish children are invited to participate in) and, on the whole, what has become for us an extension of our family and an essential aspect of our children’s education – a loving group of people who have chosen to embrace us as we are (including things like our odd propensity for enjoying ancient music and Marian hymns, which they allow us to sing at Mass as a family on occasion) rather than consider us a threat to their way of doing things. I am so very grateful every day for this great blessing!

And… if you want a more bookish answer, I would say the old Catholic National Readers (basically Catholic versions of the McGuffey readers). They’re written for a different era and a different educational system, which is always refreshingly compatible with what we do around here. We don’t use them all the time, but when we do (which is generally for at least a few months of each year) I’m always reminded of a one room school house and an era that in some ways was simpler. The simplicity is evident in these books in the way reading, spelling, grammar, dictation and reading comprehension are combined and the students alternate between independent work and some simple feedback from the teacher.

One resource you wish you never bought.

It’s really hard to pick on one book, but I have learned over time that I really can’t stand scripted curriculum (though I understand that they are wonderful for those who like them) and that I am allergic to teacher’s manuals. (Achoo!) I like to be able to sit down with something (like the Catholic National Readers mentioned above) and just start using them without having to read over 5 pages of material just to get started. That’s one thing I’ve always liked about the MCP Math too.

One resource you enjoyed last year.

Our road trip! Traveling makes for wonderful educational opportunities I think partly because we parents are pulled away from the computer and the telephone and a lot of other worries. Our month-long road trip to California last year was fantastic.

One resource you will be using next year.

Next  year is too soon, ahem, far away, maybe we’ll talk about this year. Perhaps our favorite new educational resource this year is the fabulous Catholic liberal arts college that Ria is attending. She is completely smitten with TAC, and we really can’t blame her. Just last weekend, for example, the “Theologian of the Papal Household” visited TAC, gave a lecture, said Mass and visited with students, etc.  You can read more about Rev. Wojciech Giertych here.

One resource you would like to buy.

The new Catholicism DVD series from Fr. Robert Barron sounds fascinating, although we still have so many unwatched DVD resources around here at the moment that it would hardly seem reasonable. One DVD series we have very much enjoyed so far and need to get back to is Dr. Carol Reynold’s Discovering Music Series.

One resource you wish existed.

Inexpensive add-on space to our house for more elbow room (and messy project space) especially in the winter. Oh yes, that and a self-cleaning floor (really a self-cleaning anything!). One other thing I have learned about our family over time is that we don’t need any of those learning-to-be-creative-as-a-family-type-books. We exude creativity, or at least that’s the positive spin I put on the trail of artwork and projects that is generally to be found all over every available surface and overflowing onto the floors.

One homeschool catalog you enjoy reading.

Honestly, I’ve reached the stage where I really don’t enjoy reading homeschool catalogs anymore, though the one I used to enjoy reading the most was Michael Olaf’s Montessori catalog, which were part catalog and part book. UPDATE: Upon further consideration, I realized that I do look forward to reading the catalogs from CHC and Ignatius Press when they arrive in the mail.

If you’re reading this and haven’t yet done the meme, please consider yourself tagged and let me know in the comments box! Thanks Kimberlee!


September 17, 2011

I recently discovered the Christian band, Future of Forestry (the name comes from a poem by C.S. Lewis) via a link to from Jennifer’s Favorite Links. I found a lot of songs that I really like (and a few that just aren’t my thing), including this one, called Close Your Eyes

Another of my favorites is Slow Your Breath Down

And speaking of slowing down, I’ve been working hard to slow down a bit – simplify my life and my commitments and it’s not easy, but I can definitely see it making a difference in many ways and that it’s something I’ve REALLY been needing to do.

I know I’m always saying that I’m getting rid of stuff, but I really did make an extra big dent in the last few weeks, especially with books, but other stuff too. Sometimes I just have to make myself pretend that I never happened to find it at a rummage sale or whatever because it looks really interesting, but I don’t really need it and in the end it’s just getting in the way.

We’ve also been busy with lots of painting projects – inside and out. There’s nothing quite like paint to give your house a new outlook on life. 😉

Ria is doing very well at TAC and seems very happy. I can’t believe that she’s been gone a month already! It’s funny how her departure made us start looking at everything in a new way again. It was definitely an impetus behind my simplifying of things around here, both because her departure reminded me of how quickly everything goes (it’s not long, really, before other kids are ready to test their wings) and how much time I want to spend with my other kids right now both because of that and because of what we have left to do together before they’re ready to go.

We eased our way into school a bit this year by giving ourselves a week and a half (or so) of part-time school before diving in more fully. On our first day of part-time school, I made a list of things for the kids to do, including “spend 15 minutes observing something outside”. Well, this first day also happened to be our homeschool park day, so we decided to do our observing at the park. Late in the spring, at the same park, we got to watch a turtle laying eggs in a hole in the grass. We went home to look up when the eggs would hatch, but it was a wide range (9-18 weeks, I think), so we didn’t hold up much hope for observing things on the other side. As it turned out, that first day of school, there were some new hatchlings nosing around in the hole and one that had escaped but had fallen down into the curb of the street where it was stuck on the wrong side from the river. Terri rescued it with a leaf and carried it down to the river. She set it down on the bank where we all got to watch it leap in (and it was a tiny thing!) and wriggle around happily in the water. So nice to spend time whenever we like in the greatest classroom in the world. 🙂

Tradition vs. Traditionalism

August 31, 2011

This is a really interesting thought that popped up in the middle of an article about the Chieftains performing at the Communion and Liberation gathering (seems like too small a word) in Rimini, Italy. (Hat-tip to to my sister who was there!)

I think that there is an important distinction to be made, which Don Giussani, the priest who founded the movement this Meeting comes out of, made clear between tradition and traditionalism. Tradition is the wisdom of inheritance. It is something living. Traditionalism is the obsession that comes with preserving this, keeping it safe and free of all other influences, which is a terrible thing.

I think part of the problem we have with traditionalISM today is that tradition is under attack and it’s easy to respond to that attack in an unbalanced and inappropriate way. I find the distinction above extremely helpful in understanding where the balance lies. The whole article is quite fascinating.

You can read it here: RIMINI MEETING/ The Chieftains, a living tradition discovering the world

I was already a big fan of the Chieftains – their Christmas album, Bells of Dublin, is my favorite Christmas album ever, and I have the San Patricio album and at least one other one too.

By the way, the quote above also reminds me of something Pope Benedict said in his book, Light of the World:

…to what extent do people still belong to the Church in the first place? On the one hand, they want to belong to her and do not want to lose this foundation. On the other hand, they are of course also shaped and formed interiorly by the modern way of thinking. It is the unfermented coexistence, with and alongside each other, of the basic Christian intention and a new world view, which leaves its mark on all of life. To that extent what remains is a sort of schizophrenia, a divided existence.

We must strive to integrate the two, insofar as they are compatible with each other. Being Christian must not become a sort of archaic stratum to which I cling somehow and on which I live to a certain extent alongside of modernity. Christianity is itself something living, something modern, which thoroughly shapes and forms all of my modernity – and in this sense actually embraces it.

That a major spiritual effort is required here I expressed most recently by founding a “Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization”. It is important for us to try to live Christianity and to think as Christians in such a way that it incorporates what is good and right about modernity – and at the same time separates and distinguishes itself from what is becoming a counter-religion.

Because We’ve Been Watching the Two Towers…

August 30, 2011

…and I love this line:

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

And this one always makes me laugh…

Treebeard says, “That doesn’t make sense to me. But you are small.”