Monday, August 31, 2015

Simple Woman

Outside my window...
August 2015 124
One of my morning glories!

I am thinking...
about how much there will be to accomplish in our homeschool this year, and after doing one day of Algebra 2, I'm wondering if I should redouble my efforts at finding a tutor.  It's not that I didn't understand the concepts of exponents and negative exponents, it's just that I felt like I had to spend a lot of time thinking about it!

I am thankful...
that the baby was very playful today and wanted to play with the dominoes and read her books.  She also enjoyed her lunch of fruit and cheese.  I am trying to enjoy every scrumptious moment with her!

I have...
to give my classroom one final scrub down and I should be good to go for the school year!  Up next is purging my office.

In the kitchen...


Pork loin in the crock pot with cranberry sauce, honey, and onion.

I am wearing...
Blue workout shorts by Danskin and a gray T-shirt

I am reading...

Reinventing American Health Care

I am going...
  • to walk or work out every day with Pfilates.  Trying to get back some weight work out as well. 
  • Enjoying the talks by Dr. Larry Richards for my MP3. 
From the Learning Rooms...
We're easing back into school.  
Izzy starting chemistry and co-op this week.

One of my favorite things...


I am looking forward to...
20 Years of Homeschooling!

Starting my 20th year of homeschooling!

A quote to share...

“I love you in a really really big, pretend to like your taste in music, let you eat the last piece of cheesecake, hold a radio over my head outside your window, unfortunate way that makes me hate you, love you.” - Meredith Grey  on Grey's Anatomy

A picture to share...
August 2015 005 2

Sunday, August 30, 2015

7-Quick Takes

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Join the other Quicktakers at This Ain't the Lyceum.

1.  Saturday was Rosie's first cross country meet of the season.  She did very well. All of her running this summer with her brother's team really paid off. She came in 6th place for the 5th and 6th grade girl's race with a time of 11:11 for 1 1/2 miles.
rosie finish 3 (2)

2.  Rosie is a lot like me.  She was so worried about her meet that she made herself nauseous.  That is sooo much like me!   The week before my wedding I could not move my neck. At all.  That's why I look a little stiff in my wedding photos.

It wasn't until the last ten years or so that I've learned to calm myself down and not let anxiety become visceral.  So on the way to the race I taught her how to do slow her breathing down; she said that helped a little bit.  This is something I'm going to have to keep an eye on! I suffered through my school years and part of my adulthood with this type of anxiety and I would like to spare her if possible.

3.  We will be starting our official school next week, although I don't intend to be fully into it until after Labor Day.  That all said, we did start chemistry this week and have to have all of chapter 1 read before Wednesday.  We also have to have two chapters of economics read.  before co-op on Wednesday as well.

This is the first time in eight years that I have NOT had a math tutor.  This was not by choice.  Both of my tutors moved away.  But I'm not overly worried about it because I switched over to the Math U See courses.  We had good luck with their Geometry program last year so I decided to take a chance with their Algebra 2 and Pre-Calc.  From their samples the instruction seems to be pretty straightforward.

4.  Our investment house is coming along.  We have two replacement windows in, and all of the stuff that needed to be demolished and removed is gone.  Here's a quick peek at the windows and the kitchen to date.


5.  I used to be an active Jazzerciser, attending class four of five times a week.  I really loved it.  But when I became pregnant with Rosie I stopped due to time and expense and then I became an avid exerciser in my own basement with tapes and DVDs.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine who used to be a Jazzercise instructor called me up.  She was moving across the country and she offered to give me all of her instructional videos and DVDs that she had managed to collect over the past 20 some years!!

I was thrilled!!  Most of these are VHS tapes but I have so many good memories with many of these routines, so it is certainly worth it to me to have them.

classroom, jazzercise 002
And then my VCR died.   Sigh...

6.  I have been binge watching Grey's Anatomy over the past few weeks.   I hadn't watched it at all for about two seasons, but when I heard Derek died I decided that I had to catch up.  This scene between Derek's sister and her boyfriend really resonated with me about what grief feels like and what it is like to move through and past it.

20 Years of Homeschooling!

This year will be my 20th year of homeschooling. I thought it might be nice to share a memory or two each week of our homeschooling adventure.

When we first joined our local Catholic Homeschool Group, many of the women had been homeschooling for a couple of years already, and most had been friends way before that!  So I felt a little intimidated to be among such a seasoned group of home educators and their children. Yet I was determined to fit in with this group and to try and glean as much wisdom and information as I could. I also wanted my children to make friends with these other homeschooled children so that they would feel welcome and a part of the group too.

Part of my strategy for accomplishing these goals was to attend every possible field trip that was offered. One of our early field trips was a visit to a nearby planetarium. As my husband was at work, (my husband was ALWAYS at work) I took my boys, ages 6, 2 and 6 month old to the planetarium by myself.

I don't remember much of the show. I think it was about ancient skies and the movement of the stars and planets. I was probably trying to keep my fidgety boys under control for the entire program. When it was over there was time for questions. I remember being so impressed by the intelligent questions that the older boys and girls were asking. It was clear that many of these students had already studied the solar system!

Then my brave six-year-old, raised his hand for a question and I was a little apprehensive about what he would ask. After all, we had just started kindergarten and hadn't done a thing with the solar system yet!

When he was called on he clearly asked, "Which one is the wishing star?"

I felt my face get hot and red. The grad student giving the presentation stammered a little bit and didn't really have a good answer about the wishing star.  I don't think he was ready for that type of question.

At the time I remember feeling embarrassed, but now that I look back on it, that was a wonderful question for a little boy to ask!  I wish that I could have enjoyed that moment more.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

St. Monica

Patron saint of Alcoholics, Married women, Mothers

"Nothing is far from God" St. Monica

Today is the feast of one of my favorite saints, St. Monica. St. Monica a tenacious prayer warrior when it came to her children, particularly Augustine who later became one of the great doctors of the church. She prayed, followed and encouraged him with all of her strength. She never gave up.

Today I suppose we would call such a woman a nag, or worse. It certainly isn't the fashion to follow grown children around and encourage them on their Christian walk. But that's what Monica did and it paid off.  I take a lot of heart in that. It seems that in our culture the emphasis is on pushing the kids out of the nest as soon as they graduate from high school.  We pretend that somehow magically getting that high school diploma or moving to a college campus automatically transforms teens into wise adults who are totally self-sufficient and don't need much from their parents any more (other than regular checks and use of the laundry).

The transition from teen to adult is a tricky one in our culture. It's hard to make that jump gracefully. Even harder for many to make it and keep their Catholic faith intact. And surprisingly for me, it seems to be just as hard if not harder for kids who have been homeschooled most or all of their lives than for kids who attended public or parochial schools. I base that on my own experience with my three oldest sons and with some of the stuff I've been seeing on Facebook the last few years from young people I watched growing up in our Catholic homeschool community is concerning.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I was not entirely pleased with the way my oldest adult children are living their lives either. Mr. Pete and I had a lukewarm faith in our early 20s and we had hoped to spare our children from those years in the desert, but it didn't turn out that way for the first three. We saw the desert; they apparently saw Vegas.

Last year I been prayed the St. Monica novena in preparation for her feast day.  I've prayed that my oldest children find their way back into the church and don't stray to far from her.  In return my granddaughter was baptized and my oldest son married in the church. Definitely some baby steps were made this year for sure! But then it did take St. Monica years and years to get results too!  So I'm encouraged.

I remember being 18, 19 and 20 years old and although I thought I knew a lot, I realize in retrospect that I didn't know very much.  My mom was a very steady presence in my early adult years and even more so in my late 30s and 40s when she helped with the homeschooling, gave her help and opinion on our home school, or even when she just called me everyday to see how I was or to share some chit chat.  Dear Lord, how I could really use those calls now.

me and my boys

The church really does see a place for moms who take that vocation seriously right on up through adulthood, for the sake of the souls of her children. It reiterates that motherhood is a lifelong commitment, one that doesn't end on the 18th or 21st birthday. In fact, I remember reading that studies have shown that a woman will carry cells in her body left over from each of her pregnancies for most of her life - maybe all her life.  Biologically at even the cellular level, the children are always part of the mother.

St Monica  
Father Lawrence Lew via Flickr  licensed via cc

So now I understand why mom kept checking in on me, even in my 30s and 40s.  And I totally understand and appreciate that even when she was dying she wanted me to know how much she loved me - and we told each other that over and over and over again in the week before her death.


I think mom knew that I might have regrets later and that was her way of reaffirming to me that to her that didn't matter - it was the love she wanted me to keep!
You're never too old to take advice and love from your mom either!  And I am grateful to my own mom who embodied that, although I couldn't always see it at the time.

St. Monica, pray for us.

St. Monica - Catholic Online

Catholic Culture- St. Monica

for further reading:

Life of Saint Monica

Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda has created these coloring pages:St. Monica
Charlotte also has a link to a tasty Algerian dish to celebrate the feast with!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Simple Woman

Outside my window...

August 2015 055

I am thinking...
about starting my 20th year of homeschooling.  When I started, my current students weren't even born yet.  I have asked my three oldest to record some of their thoughts and feelings about being homeschooled and if they do it, I'll share their reflections here.

I am thankful...
that I had the opportunity to homeschool my children. I am sure that I learned as much as they did, the second time around!  I'm also grateful that my mom got to share so much of our homeschool with us.


I have...
just about got my classroom organized for the school year.  I actually purged an entire garbage can full of materials from the room.  My tendency is to hold on to things so getting rid of this stuff was very freeing!

In the kitchen...
Some summer chicken ideas!

I am wearing...
Blue workout shorts by Danskin and a red T-shirt.

I am reading...

I have always wanted to read this.

I am going...
  • to walk or work out every day with Pfilates.  Trying to get back some weight work out as well. 
  • Enjoying the talks by Dr. Larry Richards for my MP3. 
From the Learning Rooms...
  We're enjoying a little bit of a break but Noah is still working on: 

One of my favorite things...

Our new stars to celebrate Mary Queen of Heaven.
August 2015 135

August 2015 141
I am looking forward to...

Starting my 20th year of homeschooling!

A quote to share...

How then account for the fact that these men, who in Christ’s lifetime did not stand up to the attacks by the Jews, set forth to do battle with the whole world once Christ was dead—if, as you claim, Christ did not rise and speak to them and rouse their courage? Did they perhaps say to themselves: “What is this? He could not save himself but he will protect us? He did not help himself when he was alive, but now that he is dead he will extend a helping hand to us? In his lifetime he brought no nation under his banner, but by uttering his name we will win over the whole world?” Would it not be wholly irrational even to think such thoughts, much less to act upon them?

It is evident, then, that if they had not seen him risen and had proof of his power, they would not have risked so much. From a homily on the first letter to the Corinthians by Saint John Chrysostom, bishop 

For the feast of St. Bartholomew, apostle of Christ,  who was flayed an martyred for his faith.
St Bartholomew
Father Lawrence Lew, OP via Flickr licensed cc

A picture to share...

Izzy Art
izzy sea scape

Friday, August 21, 2015

7-Quick Takes

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Join the other Quicktakers at This Ain't the Lyceum.

This was the week for back to school blog posts and articles, and quite a few about "Why we are not homeschooling."

Folks have their reasons, and I've given up persuasion.

However, I shudder slightly whenever I read something about putting the kids in "traditional" school. The school system we have today is "contemporary" or "modern."   It is not "traditional."

From time immemorial, children have learned primarily from their parents. Jesus was taught the carpentry trade by his earthly father, St. Joseph, and then Jesus taught his apostles via discipleship, not in a classroom.

For the most part at the beginning of the United States, folks that were literate learned at home, and they learned quite well - well enough to be able to read and understand the King James Bible and the Federalist Papers - something that some modern high schoolers and adults find challenging. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John and Abigail Adams and George Washington were all homeschooled. Even the patron saint of Catholic Schools, Elizabeth Ann Seton, was herself, homeschooled.

Our current form of education is courtesy of the Prussian education system brought to the US around 1840, and the establishment of the Department of Education 32 years ago.  There's nothing traditional about it.

This does illustrate how easy it is to lose our historical roots and perceptions in just a few generations. However, from an historical perspective, homeschooling is the norm, not the exception and homeschooling parents should feel very confident that by homeschooling their children they are following a time honored, centuries old tradition.

2. Josh Duggar, you are dead to me. 

3. The newlyweds are settling down and have adopted their first little pet.  She's a husky/shepherd mix and is super, super cute.  Of course the first thing my sister and I thought when we heard the breed was - "SHEDDING!"  But Calvin was brought up with a healthy mix of pet hair in his environment growing up, so he's used to it and I think Sarah has already bonded with this sweet puppy.  Can't wait to meet little Toledo!

4.  Every year, I put up stars in our dining room around our statue of Mary to celebrate Mary Queen of Heaven on August 22. The girls and I traced the stars and covered the with aluminum foil or sparkly paper and then hung them on the chandelier.  There they stayed, all through the fall and into Christmas and Valentines day until they came down on Ash Wednesday.

The girls enjoyed it.

My little boy didn't.  And as he grew older, the even embarrassed him.  He said they looked tacky.  So last year I ordered different stars. These were factory made and translucent - he still disliked them.

So this year I ordered some star ornaments from Factory Direct Craft. I'm hoping he will like those better!

August 2012 069

5. I will be spending most of tomorrow afternoon organizing books in the classroom.  I have been ruthlessly purging and rearranging. If it's damaged or dated, or just unusable - it's gone.  Everything else might end up in a sale next spring.

I never throw things out, so to have an entire trash can full of junk, is kind of freeing!

6. My computer keeps wanting me to update to windows 10.  I am running Windows 7 right now. The thing is, I like Windows 7, and I am not sure I'll like 10.  Besides, I have a printer and software that I don't think will work with 10, so I'm reluctant to try the update.

On the other hand, I really need to learn to use the latest versions of Office, especially Word.

7. I had a fascinating talk with a homeschool mom whose privately schooled oldest son just started college.  She told me the one thing that really fascinated her about the entire college admissions, scholarship, financial aid process was that they schools only cared about the ACT score.  Grades and transcripts were nice - but that score was paramount!  She said she spent hours talking to different schools and she started talking about academics, extra curricular activities, and leadership, but it always came right down to the ACT score when it came to talking about tuition.  She said towards the end of her search she basically just started with that.

What a shame that it's come to that when it comes to getting a higher education.

Nonetheless, I'm doing my own homework this year and reading  a lot of Lee Binz's stuff. Lee was able to get both of her homeschooled sons into college on full scholarships. So here's what I'm reading.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Two Minutes for the Mother of the Groom

My latest at

…and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradictedb(and you yourself a sword will pierce)* so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  Luke 2:34-35
“If she was the groom’s mother she wore beige and kept her mouth shut.” Erma Bombeck
This summer, my oldest son got married and I was officially the mother of the groom. It was a time filled with joy, happiness and pride, but there was also a wee bit of sorrow. My little boy was now officially a married man. I would never again be the main woman in his life, his first confidant or even his biggest supporter. For me, in some ways, the entire pre-wedding experience was very much like what the Blessed Mother experienced at the presentation of Jesus in the temple – a joyful time with a tinge of pain and a little anguish. The trick for me was trying to follow Mary’s example by starting my new life as the mom of a married son with graciousness and love.
This was a little tougher than it looked.
Read more at  right here. 

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