Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Simple Woman

The better-late-than-never edition!
Outside my window...

Ohio winter panorama 1
Steve Wall via Flickr, licensed cc

I am thinking...
about what an odd time of year this is.  Winter is holding on strong, but track and field started this week! We're looking forward to spring, but still shoveling snow and slipping on ice.  And to add insult to injury, we lose an hour of sleep this weekend with the return to daylight savings time!

I am thankful...
for the season of Lent and hoping to make the most of it this year.

I am Pondering...
how good God is to me, and I'm sure my guardian angel has a hand in it too.  My sister and I have two different ways of viewing the world, and I'm sure they are just variations of learning to cope with the way we were raised. Sis takes a very pragmatic view of things, i.e. things are the way they are, accept it and move on.

I admire that greatly.

Unfortunately, I am more cautious and tenderhearted; my feelings are easily bruised and tender and I am acutely aware of the perceived differences in the way people treat me. I guess you can't have a family member who won't talk to you for months on end without getting a little sensitive to stuff like that.

So with that in mind, Saturday could have been a very painful day for me.

But as it turns out (again, I'm thinking divine intervention was involved), I was at a place doing what I loved, for people who appreciated it very much. I'm very grateful and that soothed my tender feelings more than I can ever say.

Saturday's recording session.

In the kitchen...
I am making stuffed sweet potatoes!

I am wearing...
Great workout pants and a green sweater.

I am going...
  • to walk or work out every day but Thursday. 
  • get my taxes done!
From the Learning Rooms...
  Noah working on: 

·       Biology at home and with co-op - A at first semester.
·       Latin 2
·       Private piano lessons.  

Izzy working on:
·       Geometry.
·       American History - Reading autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. 
·       American Literature-

·       Also continuing Diane Craft reading program, spelling and writing.
·       Biology with the co-op and at home - A first semester
·       American Sign Language.   
·       Art class.
Rosie working on:
·       Math
·       Reading - 

·       Spelling
·       Map skills
·       History and
·       Astronomy with the co-op.
·       Also bible and vocal music with the co-op.
·       Private piano and art
Izzy and Noah doing the Dave Ramsey course to meet their finance requirement for high school.  We are almost done with this course and I have to say it has been excellent- would highly recommend!

One of my favorite things...

Dave_Pics_pro on Instagram

I am hoping to ...
  • Get lots of flute practice done.
  • Organizing my office and the classroom.
  • Prepare for my tax meeting. 

I am looking forward to...

  • A relaxing Sunday!
  • Working on izzy's Etsy shop.
I'm reading...

A quote to share... 

"I suffered much and I came  so close to dying that I actually resigned myself to the possibility.  My unexpected recovery brought with it a bit of disappointment - namely, that I would have to go through the wretched process of dying again some day."

Benjamin Franklin - Autobiography

 A picture to share...

lent 2011

Monday, March 02, 2015

Improving Your Lent Experience Part 2

"Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit"
"Father Into Your Hands" by Christopher Brown via Flickr, licensed via creative commons. 

Back in 2005, I posted 40 Ways to Improve Your Lenten Experience from Karen Marie Knapp's blog at From the Anchor Hold. She posted it on February 26, 2006 from the Catholic Herald. I'm dividing it into four parts with some updates, tweaks, links, and suggestions.

Part 1 is here. 

13. Keep a dish of ashes in a prominent place as a constant reminder of the season. 

14. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

15. Test your knowledge of Scripture. 
Bible quiz
The Bible quiz
Catholic Bible Quiz
Quiz on the New American Bible.

16. Read a biography about Archbishop Oscar Romero and/or watch the video “Romero.” 

17. Open a Christmas Club account with the intention of giving the money to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. 

18. Visit a church when you don’t have to.

19. Reserve a button on your car stereo for the Relevant Radio station in your area. 

20. Pray the news — for the people whose stories of hardship are reported daily and weekly. 

21. Read an entry from a Catholic encyclopedia. 

22. Attend Mass at a parish other than your own 

23. Tithe your tax return.

24. If Catholic schools get NCAA tournament bids, learn for whom those schools were named. 

25. Observe five minutes of silence every day. 

Sunday, March 01, 2015

7-Quick-Takes - the Ohio Statehouse Edition

 photo seven-quick-takes-friday-2-300x213_zps0988a8ef.jpg
Join the other Quicktakers at This Ain't the Lyceum.

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Seal for the State of Ohio on display at the State house in Columbus, Ohio

1.  Last week, my family had an opportunity to go with the co-op to visit the Ohio Statehouse. Izzy and Noah are starting their study of government and civics, so I really wanted them to participate in this trip.  When Mr. Pete said he would take the day off, I knew this would be a good chance for us to build a family memory.  I'm trying to build more and more of those these days with my last three children, keeping in mind that Noah is a junior and soon he will be busy with his life after high school.

january 2015 047

2.  We were fortunate to have a very knowledgeable tour guide.  Our first stop was to the bottom of the state house where we could see the very strong foundations of the building, built by prisoners from the state penitentiary.  Remembering that there was no steel in this structure, made it all the more remarkable.  The bricks and rock were laid out in very strong arches in a design that has served the structure well for over 100 years.

A photo posted by Elena LaVictoire (@elliemom26) on

3.  Apparently back in the 60s and 70s, the building was remodeled into something that was very plain and "modern" for the time.  The beautiful ceilings were covered with ordinary drop ceilings, and everything was simple and drab.  But when the building started showing severe signs of wear and tear, the state not only updated and repaired, but restored it to its original design and grandeur.

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A photo posted by Elena LaVictoire (@elliemom26) on

4.  This painting hangs very prominently in the state house.
statehouse commodore perry paiting
It portrays Commodore Perry's victory on the battle of Lake Erie during the war of 1812. This was particularly meaningful for Noah, because Noah loved reading about this battle when we were studying the War of 1812.  Perry's bravery and quick wits were what remained with Noah the most I think, so it was very special to see this portrait so prominently displayed in our state capital.

This is the rotunda of the state house. Many celebrations and balls have been held here in the past.
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President Abraham Lincoln's body reposed here as part of his funeral train procession from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Illinois.  The president's body was guarded by civil war soldiers while 50,000 Ohioans passed by to pay their respects. I'll admit that the thought of this brought a lump to my throat.
Abraham Lincoln
Our guide told us that this is re-enacted every April 28.
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There were other momentoes of this event in the State House museum.
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6. There once was a walk way between the statehouse and the senate building and you had to decide how lucky you felt when walking that way.  This was a favorite spot for pigeons to gather and there droppings were every where. From time to time, pedestrians were hit!

The atrium between the two buildings was finally built in 1993 and walkers can safely walk "Pigeon's Run."  But Pete the Pigeon was preserved via taxidermy and still sits on the west side as a nod to this little bit of state history and trivia!

january 2015 065

7.  A group called,  We've Known Rivers, put on a wonderful presentation for Black History Month with a remembrance of Mrs. Coretta Scott King. The children learned more about Mrs. King's background and how she met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We also learned more of the personal details, from Mrs. King's perspective, of the assassination of her husband.

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After the presentation, I thanked the actress for her fine job, and one of her friends asked me what I got the most from the program.  I told her that I hadn't realized how young Mrs. King's children were when her husband was assassinated, and that I absolutely felt for her when she decided that she needed to stay with them instead of traveling to her dead husband's side.  I felt for her as a mother, and the three of us stood there nodding and talking about how any crisis and motherhood brings women together. It was a nice moment.

All in all, it was a beautiful field trip on a brisk winter day - full of history and memory making for the students and for our family.
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Improving your Lent Experience Part 1

Back in 2005, I posted 40 Ways to Improve Your Lenten Experience from Karen Marie Knapp's blog at From the Anchor Hold. She posted it on February 26, 2006 from the Catholic Herald. I'm dividing it into four parts with some updates, tweaks, links, and suggestions.

Lent for Everyone
John at Flickr, licensed creative commons

1. Learn about your patron saint.

2. Pray for — by name — people you don’t like and for people that don’t like you.

Prayer for enemies
Catholic prayer for enemies
Forgiveness bible verses. 

3. Read a Catholic magazine.
Catholic Periodical List
Catholic Answers
Crisis Magazine

5. March 19, in honor of St. Joseph, patron saint of carpenters and fathers, build or build upon a relationship with one of your children.

6. Buy two of everything on your grocery list, and give the duplicates to the local food pantry.

7. Find out why you should have fun on Laetare Sunday, and then do so.

8. Start a “cuss bowl.” For every unkind word you utter, put in a dollar — two dollars during Holy Week. The Rice Bowl would be a good place for this too!

9. Bring a “Baltimore Catechism” to a gathering of Catholic friends, and start asking each other questions.

10. Organize your home, the Domestic Church!

11. Pray for those, e.g., children, parents, spouse, siblings, who have left the church.

12. Talk to a neighbor you rarely or never talk to.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

march 2010 075

I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 

The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that!
Paul's confirmation with Bishop Lennon
So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates.
  • Start thinking about it early, and make sure that godparents, grandparents, friends, coaches and teachers have a chance to know about it so that they can get a head start on writing these letters. Don't wait for the religious ed director to ask for them! If it's a confirmation year, give everyone a heads up!
  • Starting early also give you a chance to collect these letters in time for the retreat. 
  • Ask those writing letters to just write from the heart about the importance of their Catholic/Christian faith, and to encourage the confirmation candidate to continue growing in their faith journey. 
February 2013 066

When parents are writing their own letters they can include:
  • Memories of when the confirmation candidate was a baby or small child.
  • Writing about all of the candidate's fine qualities and how they have grown over the years to this point.
  • Include challenges they have already overcome or are working very hard on. 
  • Something about the patron saint they have chosen and how that fits in with their own life or faith journey.
  • Reminder that they should ask God to help them for all that is before them in the years ahead.
  • Add little family jokes or pet names if you think the candidate would enjoy that.  
  • Add a special bible verse that you think would be helpful to the candidate or a verse that is a family favorite. 
  • A few pictures are nice too if you have the time to include them.
The moment of Confirmation

I get a lot of hits on my blog for those old letters, but this one from my adult son to one of his brothers doesn't get seen as much since I didn't specifically name it on the blog, but I think it's a good example too, because it was honest and from the heart. 

Dear Gabe

Well Gabe. Look at you. I was there and saw you in the first seconds of your life. I saw you taking your first breaths. Iwas there when you took your first steps. I was the first one to push you over. And now I'm going to see you become a full adult member of the Catholic church.

When mom told me I needed to write a letter for your confirmation retreat, I was like "DANG now I have to write on my day off!" but after thinking about it, I remembered my confirmation retreat and how cool getting all those letters were. Right now I just want you to know a few things. So listen up JD/CF:

You and I both know that I'm not the holiest guy to walk this big green earth. I wouldn't be the first one to tell you that either (Mom would). My faith has always meant a lot to me. Even if I try and drive mom nuts with telling her otherwise.

You remember the time I had to talk to you in my room and made you sit on the floor. You didn't know this but I had to go to church and pray about what I was going to say to you. Now God didn't tell me to make you sit on the floor. When there was a lot of other places you could have sat. That was me. He did however guide me in what needed to be said. the moral of the story is even if you can or can't do something you can always ask the big man's help.

Now I know you want to be a man and "sack up," and someday I hope you do. But being a man isn't just "sacking up" or having guns like mine. Being a man is being someone that other people love and respect. To be loved and respected you need to be nice, trustful, loving and respectful. One might even say to be a man you need to be holy. Case in point, Dad. We both love and honor dad. I have no problem saying that dad is on of the manliest men I know and one of the holiest.

That's in there' something for you to think about. I know you're a good guy. Don't ever change that. Good luck on this time of your life. I know how hard it can be. Cut your hair. And I love you.


St. Polycarp

Polycarp is one of my favorite saints because he is such a good example of a complete life in Christ. I love the fact that he was a student of St. John the beloved apostle. My third son Noah chose St. Polycarp for his confirmation and so now I have a special reason to love him.

noah's confirmation 023

Polycarp in Greek comes from two words “poly” meaning many or much, and “carp” meaning fruit. Obviously his Christian parents named him Polycarp along with a prayer that he would bear much fruit for the Kingdom of God — which he did.

It also inspires me that Polycarp was bishop for 70 years, which shows me that faith and bravery isn't something just for the young, but grows with middle age and into the golden years as well.  Isn't it sad now days that so many senior citizens feel that they are "done" with responsibility and just want to live out their golden years looking out for themselves.  I think that would be a very empty and meaningless life.  St. Polycarp is an example of persevering to the end.

Today we read about St. Polycarp's life and discussing his bravery. I don't see much honor in killing an old man, and it's ironic that instead of silencing him, his death brought even more to the new Christian faith.

A very readable version of his martyrdom is here.

At 86, Polycarp was led into the crowded Smyrna stadium to be burned alive. The flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger. The centurion ordered the saint’s body burned. The “Acts” of Polycarp’s martyrdom are the earliest preserved, fully reliable account of a Christian martyr’s death. He died in 156.

“Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man” (Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians).

Flee wicked arts; but all the more discourse regarding them. Speak to my sisters, that they love in our Lord, and that their husbands be sufficient for them in the flesh and spirit. Then, again, charge my brethren in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they love their wives, as our Lord His Church. If any man is able in power to continue in
purity,(1) to the honour of the flesh of our Lord, let him continue so without boasting; if he boasts, he is undone; if he become known apart from the bishop, he has destroyed himself.(2) It is becoming, therefore, to men and women who marry, that they marry with the counsel of the bishop, that the marriage may be in our Lord, and not in lust. Let everything, therefore, be [done] for the honour of God.

"I have served Him eighty-six years and in no way has He dealt unjustly with me; so how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?

Patron against earache and dysentery.

I also just learned this week, (though I couldn't find an online source for it) that the prayer many Catholics say before meals, is attributed to St. Polycarp!

Bless us Oh Lord, and these thy gifts, which we have received from thy bounty, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
St. Polycarp
Our Lady of Peace Geneva via Flickr licensed by cc. 
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