Call Me Catholic, Life is Worth Living

A Conscience-Stinger for Lent

Anyone want a good conscience-stinger for Lent?

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Excellent read, especially for Lent.

Recently I just reread Thomas Dubay’s Happy Are You Poor.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)  And my conscience was stung.  I have too much stuff, and my children have too much stuff.  And this stuff gets in the way of knowing Jesus.  And it’s time to clean house and make space for Him.

Now as a homeschooler, one does need a good supply of books and proper curriculum in order to teach our flocks of children, but do we really need whole drawers full of crayons and colored pencils?  Or mounds and mounds of construction paper stuffed in cabinets?  Or how about that endless sea of legos taking over the whole basement?

I know that colored pencils, paper, and legos are a good thing.  In fact, they are required for Northern Winter Survival, but maybe I’ve overdone it?  Uh, yes.

So, I decided to do something about it.  Over this last year, I’ve been going through our entire house, closet by closet.  Box by box.  Drawer by drawer.

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My Utensil Drawer, before I got rid of every utensil that I haven’t used in a year.

For example, I told our children that 75% of their legos actually belong to the poor children who live on a nearby Reservation.  And I thought there would be wailing and grinding of teeth and fit-throwing at this Big Announcement, but there wasn’t.  They were actually excited to help.  I was the one secretly reluctant to part with my old lego sets of pirates and wizards and Indians that I had passed on to them.  I was the one with attachment issues, but by the grace of God, I kept my mouth shut and taped up a huge, heavy box full of those dearly beloved legos.  And shipped them off.

And now, I can walk through our basement, without a foot injury.  (Uh, most days, anyway.  They do have marbles too…)  This was the start of it all and got me thinking.  Maybe it’s time to think about each room in my house.  What can I give away and get rid of?

As recommended by one of you, I boldly and recklessly cast off the burden of multiple towels.  Now, each child gets one.  Yep, I did it.  Just one.  See the picture?  It’s even color-coordinated, so each child knows exactly which is his.

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The Big Kids’ Towels.  And that’s all they get.

I did keep two for myself, but that is because I’m needy and attached to the idea of beautifully folded towels, serenely waiting on a shelf, for my use after a hot bath and a glass of wine.  Plus I’m selfish.

And lest you think I am totally crazy, I did also keep a small stack of towels for emergencies – you know, like puking, wetting the bed, diarrhea…that sort of thing.

But this is not the end of it.  For I’m tired of stuff.  If you are too, and want some further encouragement, check out this article by David Mills on “Death Cleaning.”  (Click HERE for it.)

 

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Life is Worth Living

Ode to My Coffee Pot

As part of my Lenten sacrifices, I am committed to meditating on Philippians 4:8.

“Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think of these things.”

My husband gave this penance to me, as I tend to dwell on negative things.  So this morning, instead of lamenting the fact that I’m still pregnant (oh when will this baby come?) and it’s still cold outside and I still can’t get enough sleep, I thought I’d think about something lovely, gracious, and worthy of praise–my coffee pot!

But I don’t actually know how to write poetry properly.  So let’s consider this Modern, Free Verse.  (Whatever that means.)

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O Bestower of Wakefulness!  O Terror of Yawns!  You are a beauty!

Ode to My Coffee Pot

Oh my dear, loyal Coffee Pot,

Every night my husband programs you.

In fact, your Faithful Timer is my husband’s Favorite Feature.

For at 6am we say good morning to Jesus,

and then at 6:45,

as you graciously beep to signal the end of Morning Prayer,

we desperately stumble over to you.

O Brewer of Buzzes!

O Terror of Yawns!

Our children know that they ought not to disturb this Sacred Moment

of drinking your hot liquid blackness.

Because if they do, they might be greeted thus:

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Mommy has not yet had enough coffee.

For you see, I am weak and have an addiction that must be satiated.

But since I am a good Catholic,

and know that everything must enjoyed in moderation,

I sacrificially limit myself to just one pot.*

O thou Dearest Machine and Giver of Joy!

O Bestower of Wakefulness!

May God strengthen you, Dear Coffee Pot

and reward you with long, long life!

 

*I don’t actually drink a whole pot…I do share it with my husband.

 

Homeschooling, Life is Worth Living

A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 6

Here we are, back to “A Day in the Life of Crazy Fool: Part 6.” If you missed the earlier parts to this series and would like to read them, look at my sidebar under Tags, and click on “A Day in the Life Series.”

It’s Around 4pm

As the afternoon closes, I’m generally cooking dinner and finishing things up.  My husband arrives home around 5pm, and I like the house to be ready for him.  I once read somewhere – I think in a Kimberly Hahn book – that if a wife truly loves her husband as Christ, the least thing she could do, would be to greet him when he comes home, at the door.  In other words, one must walk over to the door and actually greet him, as you would Christ.

And Now For a Little Harangue

I’ll pause here for a moment.  When I read that a few years ago, I was absolutely struck and convicted.  For I had been in the habit of not acknowledging my husband – of just continuing whatever I was doing, as if he didn’t matter.

Well, he does matter.  I married him after all, and he ought to come before the children and the household chores and all the rest.  I can put down the cooking spoon or the baby and walk over to the door, even if I don’t happen to like him at the moment because he was ten minutes late.  So what?  He is the head of our household, and sometimes, it’s just not about my feelings.

And it’s not always perfect either.  Our home is not some Norman Rockwell painting.  Yes, babies are sometimes crying and boys are wrestling and girls are whining.  Whatever.  My husband still ought to come first, and I ought to greet him.

Sometimes this moment can be really fun, by the way.  Sometimes I like to surprise him with a martini in hand.  I can tell you, when I do something special like that, our evenings are always more fun.  For life is worth living, as the Venerable Fulton Sheen reminds us.

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Actually, these aren’t martinis.  The one on the left is a Rob Roy; the one one the right is a Brandy Alexander.

So, any of you wives out there, if you don’t already, I want to strongly encourage you to greet your husbands when they arrive home.  (Or, if you happen to be a stay-at-home husband, greet your wife when she comes home.)

5:15pm: Dinner Time

After I’ve greeted my husband, we sit down for dinner together as a family.  Fortunately, our schedule allows for this to happen almost every single night.  If it’s at all possible, I encourage all of you to do the same.  No technology allowed at the table, either.

We also prefer to eat dinner a little more formally than the other meals.  For example, the children attempt to set the table set properly.  You know, with forks on top of a cloth napkin on the left and spoons and knives on the right, etc.  And no, this is not always done well, depending on which child is setting…  We do have six messy children under the age of 12.  But I’ve noticed that manners improve when form improves.

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This is how the table looks every night.  Then the children sidle on over, and it gets messed up.

Also, if there is a salad to be served, I generally have that on the plates prior to the Table Prayer, so that we’re not passing around multiple dishes.  After the Table Prayer, we sit down and eat the said salad.  When everyone is finished with the salad, my husband commences dishing out the main entree.  Again, we have the same format, when everyone is finished, and if there happens to be something for dessert, it will be served then, and we enjoy it together.  The point is, we attempt to take our time.

By the way, we also strive to uphold two other rules:

  1. No talking with your mouth full.  (I’m especially bad at this one.)
  2. No using your fingers.  Ever.  Learn to use your knife to get that food on your fork.  (Unless it’s pizza or some other finger food being served.)

Lest this sounds too idyllic, let me remind you, that generally I have a baby or a toddler (or both) crying or throwing food or creating whatever mayhem they might.  Well, I’ve just made up my mind not to be deterred.  Table manners are worthwhile attempting.

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This one has absolutely no table manners.  But she sure is cute.

Call Me Catholic

Lent: It’s Upon Us

Here we are, on the threshold of this great season of Lent.  Have you thought about it yet?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent.  They have funny, Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter.  Today, we’re at Quinquagesima Sunday.  Clear as mud?

Well, in the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and Alleluia.  (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.)  All of these things were meant to get you thinking.  Sober up, people!  How are you going to prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

(Want more on information on these pre-Lenten Sundays?  Click HERE for a New Liturgical Movement article.)

The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving

Prayer

If you’re not already setting aside a specific time every day to pray, you need to.  I am the mother of six little children.  If I can do it, you can.  And if it’s at all possible, make that prayer time the first thing you do every day.  Get up before everyone else.  If you’re new to this, start small.  Start now.

For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?  If not, start small.  Start now.

Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?  If not, do it.  You represent Christ in your household, and your family needs you to set the example.  (Bless your wife too; she needs it.)

Are you accustomed to daily prayer already?  Consider adding Night Prayer.  There’s an excellent book, The Office of Compline, by Fr. Samuel Weber.  It’s in both Latin and English.  And it’s beautiful.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)

For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?  If not, do it.  Consider a family rosary.

And finally, go to confession.  At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season.  If you’d like a challenge, consider going every week or so.

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Again, go to confession!  You won’t regret it.

Fasting

Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent.  In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot.  And we need it.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.””

Do you have something in your life that needs casting out?  Try fasting.  Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus?  Try fasting.

If you’ve never done this before, start small.  Start now.  Give up one meal a week.

There are many ways to be creative with this one, by the way.  If you’re pregnant and cannot fast, consider eating one meal in a way that you wouldn’t like.  For example, you’re having an egg sandwich for breakfast, eat all three pieces separately – toast by itself, egg by itself, and cheese by itself.  It’s not as fun.  You get the idea.

Almsgiving

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.  If you’d like a little more on what the Church officially says, click HERE for Jimmy Akin’s take on tithing and giving.

The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving.  During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:

  1. How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
  2. In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?

The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer.  Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income.  If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2%.  For those of you who’d like a stricter guideline, I once read somewhere to shoot for 5% of your income to your local church, 4% to any charity, and 1% to the Bishop.  This would be a true 10% tithe.  (The word tithe means one tenth.)

If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then consider giving 10% of your total income before taxes.

The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice.  For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month.  Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.

In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you!  Just take the first step.

May God bless you abundantly this Lent!

 

Life is Worth Living

Lipstick: It’s Not Just For Your Grandmother

A week or so ago, I mentioned something very important in my post on How to Survive Barfing Children.  (Click HERE for it.)  You’ll notice that Point Number 2 mentions Lipstick.

It occurred to me yesterday afternoon that many of you may not understand this one.  You see, I grew up around a grandmother who was convinced that lipstick was the key to a great life.  Ok, other things were important to her too, like family and big jewelry, but there is something simple here that she taught me.

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Grandma Martha.  Not only did she always wear lipstick, but she also never left the house without a Big Fancy Hat on too.

While of course one can go overboard with relying on material things for happiness, there is something to say about a little dash of color and an attempt at looking well put together.  I always go back to what Paul Harvey, the decades-long, iconic radio broadcaster, had to say about it all.  You will always perform better if you dress the part.  Statistics prove it.  (Click HERE for a Wall Street Journal article on that.)

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Paul Harvey.  My grandmother named my father after him, literally.

My grandmother knew this secret—attempt to dress well, throw a little lipstick on, and Bam!  Most of the time, you’ll feel better.  No, it won’t solve all your problems, but it might help.

Now I know that many of you do not wear lipstick.  In fact you may not even own any brightly-colored fun-in-a-tube.  This is too bad because after all, St. Thomas himself speaks of it in his Summa Theologiae.  (Click HERE for that one.)  If there are any further lipstick naysayers, please know that I understand.  I was once one of you, as I gave it up for a time, just to see what it was like.  (I was miserable.)  And truly, I suppose it’s not for everyone.  (Like those with a vocation to the Carmelites?)  But for me, I had to go back to lipstick, because it’s just that fun.*

Some of you, however, may be thinking, “Yes, yes, lipstick is fun and all, but what will my husband think?”  Well, try it out.  Tonight when he arrives home, greet him at the door with your lipstick on and his favorite drink in your hand.  It will be impossible to not smile at that moment.  Lipstick is so powerful, after all, that you may even be wearing sweatpants, and you’ll still have fun.

So, when there just isn’t enough coffee in the house and your hairspray runs out and it’s -20 degrees outside and your children are all screaming…quietly walk to a mirror and brighten your day with a splash of hot pink.

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Or red.  I prefer red lipstick.
*Do I need to say, “all things in moderation?”  One probably shouldn’t own bags and bags of makeup?  You know that, right?
Book Review, Call Me Catholic

Peter Kwasniewski: An Amateurish Book Review

My husband is a bit of a nerd when it comes to reading things about the old Mass.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  The Traditional Latin Mass, the Extraordinary Form, the Usus Antiquior, the Tridentine Mass, the Mass of Pius V…it’s got so many names, I can’t keep it straight.

He’s always yakking about people I don’t know too, like Dr. Peter Kwasniewski.  Except that no one can pronounce this guy’s last name, so Peter is affectionately referred to as “Peter K” in our household, which is confusing to others, because then most people think we mean Peter Kreeft.

As an aside, I actually had the nerve to ask Dr. Kwasniewski how to pronounce his last name, and he graciously, phonically spelled it out for me as follows: “Kwash-nee-ev-ski.”

 

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Dr. Kwasniewski: Professor, Author, Choirmaster, & Composer.  He’s also a founding faculty member of Wyoming Catholic College.  (Click HERE for their website.)  He and his wife also homeschool their children.

In any case, since I can’t help but to eventually be interested in things that my husband chatters on about, I decided to read Kwasniewski’s book, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness.  After all, I had come across this man many times, as he writes for the New Liturgical Movement, a blog that I enjoy perusing, even if I don’t understand half of what I read.  (New Liturgical Movement is linked on my sidebar, if you’re curious.)

Well, let me tell you, I just finished reading this book, and it’s a gem.  A breath of fresh air.  Chock-full of stuff I never thought about before.  For example, have you ever thought of having a Marian receptivity to the Mass?  I haven’t, and there’s a whole chapter on this, and it’s excellent.

So, if you’d like a challenge and are interested in things that our culture considers backwards and foolish, I recommend this book.  It’s really worth it.  And furthermore, to give you a sample of just what’s in this book, I’ll mention a few things that I learned below.

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Beautiful cover, even better read.  Click HERE for it on Amazon.

What did I Learn From Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness?

So, the name thing.  What to call this old Mass, that is foreign to most of us and has twenty different names?  This is downright confusing to us amateurs, just trying to figure things out.  Well, Kwasniewski advises us not to get caught up in terminology wars.  He states, “The official documents of the Church use multiple names…each name conveys something important that the other names do not convey.”

In my words, maybe all these names for the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) are like all the names we have for the Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Advocate, Counselor, Holy Ghost.  They are all important and serve to reveal something about the third Person of the Trinity.  We use different names for different occasions.  It must be the same for the TLM too, and I’m relieved that I don’t have to worry about it anymore.

The second thing I learned from reading Kwasniewski’s book is that I’m really not as backwards and foolish as I thought for preferring the TLM over the New Mass.  Kwasniewski states, “Pope Benedict XVI established equal canonical rights for the two “forms” of the Roman Rite.”  It’s perfectly legitimate to have a preference.

When I read that, I was reminded of Pope Benedict’s somewhat well known quotation about the TLM, which Kwasniewski explains in his book, and states as follows:

“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.”  Pope Benedict XVI.

In other words, it’s a good thing to want to know what it was like for the vast majority of people in the history of the Church the pray the Mass.  Just how did St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, and my favorite, St. Therese the Little Flower, experience the Mass?  It was the TLM that formed these great saints after all.

But in the end, however, it has not easy for me to learn about the TLM, as I’m fairly new to it and this stuff takes time–indeed a lifetime–to learn about, especially if one lives in area where the TLM is not readily available.  I was comforted, in fact, when Kwasniewski compares it all to the call of Abram out of Ur to Canaan.  “It prompts the development of new faculties of seeing and hearing; it requires an exodus from our surroundings of pop culture and intellectual fashion; it calls us to a strange land, like Abram being summoned from Ur to Canaan.”

Yes, I can understand that.  It’s unsettling to walk into a strange land–the strange land of the Traditional Latin Mass.  But for me, anyway, it’s been worth it.  And Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness has been a great blessing and a help.

Want More?

Would you like to experience this Mass of Ages?  Come and see.

In the Bismarck area, Fr. Nick Schneider offers the TLM once a month at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan at 11:30am.  The next one will be Sunday, February 25th.

There is also a Facebook page for the Latin Mass community.  Click HERE for that.

And in the meantime, pick up Dr. Kwasniewski’s book, Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness.

Homeschooling

A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 5

And we’re back to “A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool.”  If you missed the previous 4 parts and would like to catch up, look on my sidebar under “tags,” and click on “A Day in the Life Series.”

Part 5

Quiet Time, which I mentioned in Part 4, usually ends at around 1pm, as the children begin sneaking upstairs to see what I’m doing.  And so then, we begin the next part of our day.

1pm Outdoor Recess

As the four middle children have usually completed any necessary “book” work earlier, they now have a choice.  They may remain downstairs building their lego castles or reading their books, or they may venture back outside.  Most of the time, they scramble outside because my husband built them an ice skating rink.

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When I took this photo, it was 19 degrees, with a windchill of 4.  They’re crazy.

 

This is the first year we’ve ever attempted building an ice skating rink, and honestly, I don’t know how we survived without one.  It has supplied hours and hours of fun.  And only one minor accident–Child #3 whacked his head on the ice, resulting in a large bump, which turned into one giant, yellow-brownish bruise.  Nothing serious, just a wound to brag about.

1pm is also Afternoon School

So, while the middle children skip and slide around outside and Child #6 naps, the Eldest gets a little one-on-one time with Mom.  We work on grammar and writing.  And of course, we use Classical Academic Press’s Well-Ordered Language series and their Writing and Rhetoric series, as you can see in the photo below.

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She likes Well-Ordered Language the best, because, “it doesn’t take me as long to finish!”  Naturally.

I usually need to sit with her for about twenty minutes, and then I move on to a few domestic tasks while she completes her work.  For example, I generally switch out and fold laundry and begin any prep work for supper.

I like to keep our afternoons light and flexible, however, because this is when I schedule activities and appointments.  For example, on Tuesdays, the older children attend choir practice.  On Thursdays, they have piano lessons.  Sometimes we attend PE sessions with a larger group of homeschoolers.  Sometimes we invite other families over to visit.

4pm Getting Ready for Supper

The end of the afternoon requires more work dedicated to supper, of course.  (Eating.  It’s just a never-ending task!)  All the children help with setting the table, and sometimes the older ones do some chopping or other minor prep work.

And that’s all for today!  See you next time.

Life is Worth Living, Motherhood & Parenting

Mariah Carey and I: We Be Sleeping Through the Night!

Now I know that some of you grew up listening to morally questionable music.  (For those of you who didn’t, may God bless your sensible parents.)  Many of us, however, will probably spend the remainder our lives working on detachment from shady and disreputable music.

That said, I had an epiphany this morning.  So I took a Selfie, because I felt so good.  This is me below.

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Ok, fine.  This is not me.  It’s Mariah Carey singing at the Edwards Air Force Base in 1998.  (Image from the Public Domain.)

Perhaps you are familiar with Ms. Mariah Carey’s number 1 song, Emotions, from 1991?  Maybe you dismissed it as just another sappy, love song?  Well, it turns out, that Ms. Carey was actually writing a song about what it feels like to sleep through the night.*

Yes, that’s right, and to prove it, I’ll put the lyrics below.  (Click HERE for a youtube version of the song.)**

I know her song is about sleeping through the night, because this morning, when I woke up after having slept for five whole hours in a row, which is almost as good as sleeping through the night, I immediately heard her song Emotions come to me, as if from on High.  I felt like dancing!  I felt like David before the Ark of the Covenant!  To put it in her own modest words, “I feel good.  I feel nice.  I’ve never been so satisfied!”

Of course I immediately thanked God for the miracle of five uninterrupted hours of sleep.  And then, after Morning Prayer, I blasted that song for the goodwill and posterity of all.

I hope you all had a good night of sleep too.  And No, I didn’t drink a pot of coffee this morning.  I didn’t need to after sleeping that much.  I only drank two cups.

Abridged Lyrics for Emotions by Ms. Mariah Carey

You’ve got me feeling emotions
Deeper than I’ve ever dreamed of
You’ve got me feeling emotions
Higher than the heavens above

I feel good, I feel nice
I’ve never felt so satisfied
I’m in love, I’m alive
Intoxicated, flyin’ high

You’ve got me feeling emotions
Deeper than I’ve ever dreamed of
You’ve got me feeling emotions
Higher than the heavens above
In the morning
When I rise
You are the first thing
On my mind
It feels like a dream
I don’t know if it’s real
But I like the way I feel inside

You’ve got me feelin’ emotions
Deeper than I’ve ever dreamed of
You’ve got me feelin’ emotions
Higher than the heavens above

*Ok fine, this song is probably not about sleeping through the night.
**You’ll notice that I’ve attached the YouTube version of this song without the actual video, because for some reason, Ms. Carey forgot to button her blouse all the way.  Some people are just so scandalous.
Life is Worth Living

5 Things I Hide From the Children

Now I have a few things that I prefer to hide from my children.  And I know you’ve got a few things that you hide from your children too.  So, I thought it might be interesting to share this short list with you.

5 Things I Hide From the Children

  1. Play Doh.  This might label me as a crank, but I don’t like this stuff.  I only save it for two reasons.  1.)  It’s twenty below outside, and the children are driving me crazy.  2.)  My floor needs to be swept and scrubbed anyway.  In the meantime, I hide this dangerous stuff in a locked cabinet.
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It must have been an awfully cold day.

2.  My Scissors.  You might think that I’m hiding these dangerous blades because I’m afraid the children will run round, with that sharp, pointy end directed towards their little eyeballs?  No.  No, that is not why I hide my scissors.  I hide my scissors because they’re always stealing it because they’ve lost theirs.  And they want to cut cardboard diaper boxes to make rockets and houses.  So, right now, my scissors is hiding on top of the refrigerator.  And they’ve resorted to knives.  (Just kidding, of course.)

3.  Tape.  Yes, the children are perpetually stealing this too.  For, how else are they to join the diaper box to the Amazon box to make something even bigger and better?  I now hide my tape in my bedroom dresser.  (As an aside, can you imagine how excited my twin boys were to receive a roll of duct tape for their birthday from their grandparents?  Excited.)

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Looks like they’ve stolen my scissors and tape again.  I need new hiding places.  Do you think they’ll return these items to their proper places?  Not. A. Chance.

4.  NFP Chart.*  Does this one need explaining?  Well, I certainly don’t want to explain it to my children either.

5.  Dots.  My favorite candy.  I guess maybe this is childish and unsophisticated?  Even so, I’m not ashamed to admit it.  There’s nothing better than opening a box of Dots and eating all the red and pink ones on Date Night.  (My husband gets the other colors; he’s very sacrificial and self-denying.)  So, I try to hide my candy in an upper cabinet in my kitchen.

Anyone have anything to add the list?  If so, I’d love to hear what it is.

 

*Don’t know what this is?  Click HERE.

 

Call Me Catholic, Homeschooling

Bishop Kagan: 4 Weaknesses of Homeschooling

 

Bishop David D. Kagan’s Latest Pastoral Letter

Bp. Kagan of the Bismarck Diocese has issued a Pastoral Letter on Catholic Education, which can be found on the diocesan website.  (Click HERE for it.)

I was asked if I might offer my thoughts on his letter, which is divided into a Preface, Introduction, Parts 1,2, & 3, and a Conclusion.  I will comment, but am limiting myself to Part 1, as this is the section most of you are interested in.

If you haven’t read the entire letter yet, it would be helpful to do so first.

TeachThemPastoralLetter

Part One: Catholic ‘Home Schooling’

The first six paragraphs of Part One speak of the historicity of the homeschool movement in the Bismarck Diocese.  There is nothing shocking here.  In fact, he has some kind and truthful things to say about it all.

The last 4 paragraphs, however, get a little interesting, as Bp. Kagan details what he perceives as 4 weaknesses of homeschooling.

Bp. Kagan: 4 Weaknesses of Homeschooling

1. Bp. Kagan begins with, “First, given the excellence of our own Catholic schools the real necessity for Catholic families to home school in my judgment is not as necessary as it may have been years ago.”

In other words, he thinks that years ago, one may have had a good reason to homeschool, based on the condition of Catholic schools at that time, but now, however, Catholic schools are better.  So, it’s not “as” necessary, in his opinion.

What’s really going here, in any case, is that some people truly don’t understand why one might choose to homeschool, and so sometimes it’s assumed that homeschoolers are against Catholic, diocesan schools.  But all the homeschoolers I know are actually glad that these schools exist.  For they do provide an important mission in the daily life of the Church.  They are a good thing after all.  We want them to succeed.

However, most of us have discerned as parents that homeschooling is the best option for our particular families, for a multitude of reasons.  Maybe we have a child with a learning disorder.  Maybe we enjoy traveling and the flexibility homeschooling provides.  Maybe we think it is important for our families to be together.

Personally for our family, and among other reasons, it primarily comes down to our philosophy of education.  We are attempting a traditional, classical approach to education, which is just not an option here in this diocese.  And we have access to excellent curriculums and online classes.

For example, I’ve often spoken of Classical Academic Press, which we’ve found to exemplify this philosophy.  If anyone is curious about what we’re attempting to do, click HERE for a short philosophy of classical education and how it differs from what is typically available in diocesan schools.

If you want more, I’d suggest reading Stratford Caldecott’s Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education and Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education.

2.  Bp. Kagan goes on with his weaknesses to say, “Second, there is a real advantage for children at an early age to see and learn from other Catholic adults and children their own age what they have already seen and learned from their parents.”

In this second point, he argues that it is necessary for children to be around other people’s children and parents in order to learn properly and be well-rounded.

There are two ways to look at this.  One, Bp. Kagan could be promoting the whole “anti-social” argument that most homeschoolers face all the time, which says that because our children learn at home, we’re necessarily socially awkward.

This just isn’t true, however, and studies would prove otherwise.  For statistics and a great article on homeschooling and socialization from the Washington Times, click HERE.

Secondly, and if you read his statement closely, most homeschoolers would actually agree with Bp. Kagan here.  It’s just that he’s probably unaware of all the activities that many of us are involved in.  For example, many families are in rosary groups, wherein entire families gather together to pray the rosary weekly and then have fellowship.  Many of us are involved in PE programs.  Many homeschool families gather together to do projects, sports, music, whatever.

The point is, most of us don’t sit at home with our doors locked, shaking in fear lest our children interact with other children or adults.  Rather, we enjoy being around other Catholic families and in fact make it a priority.

3.  His third weakness states, “…the more Catholic families desire that faithful and robust Catholic education for their children and make use of our Catholic schools, the stronger the Catholic culture of our schools and parishes become.”

In other words, Bp. Kagan wants our children in the Catholic schools because then the schools would be stronger.  I’ve heard this argument many times, and maybe we ought to just consider it a compliment.  He must think we’d have something positive to offer the schools after all.

I would point out, however, that our children would not be who they are without the formation they have had at home.

As far as parishes go, all the homeschool families I know are very active in varying parish ministries.  In fact, I can’t think of a single homeschool family that isn’t involved in their parish life.

4.  Bp. Kagan concludes his discussion of “home school weaknesses” with a note on other people’s perception of us.  He says, “Often enough I have heard from other Catholic parents and even some priests that families who home school do so because they think our Catholic schools are not Catholic enough when it comes to the teaching of religion…I do not know how widespread this perception may be but it does not serve well those who have chosen homeschooling for their children.”

It would seem that he’s accusing us of being guilty of how other people perceive us.  But I’m not sure we can help what others may or may not think of us, especially if they are unwilling to dialogue with us.

I can’t help it if people want to assume I’m a Catholic school detractor.  I can only say, I’m not.

Conclusion

In the end, maybe we ought to invite Bp. Kagan to come have a look at our “schools?”  This might help shed some light on the modern homeschool movement.  In particular, it might be helpful if he understands that most of us are not rejecting Catholic, diocesan schools, but rather are choosing another form of an authentically Catholic education.

An Open Invitation to Bishop Kagan

Bp. Kagan, we first of all thank you for your dedication to our diocese.  Please know that you are always in our prayers, and our family welcomes you to visit our home and our school any time.