Friday, August 26, 2016

Feast of St. Monica

Patron saint of Alcoholics, Married women, Mothers

"Nothing is far from God" St. Monica

I really needed this feast day today.  Really. needed. it.

Because when you have adult children, you have to find a different way to parent them. You can't put them in time out, or send them to bed without a cookie. I can't even threaten to turn off cell phone service because they pay their own!  I am no longer their teacher, comforter, best friend or companion.

But I know that I am not nothing either. Their very presence as babies in my womb changed my body from that of a woman to that of a mother. No amount of exercise or dieting will ever erase the stretch marks or the loose skin. In fact, cells left over from each pregnancy will be with me for the rest of my life.  Biologically at even the cellular level, the children are always part of the mother. My brain is literally, swimming in the particles of my children. Besides the biological let's remember the rest of motherood - all of the sleepless nights, the worries, the late night vomit cleanups, chauffeuring, feeding, nurturing and teaching that I spent the better part of two decades doing.

That's what they are to me.

What am I to them? And does that even matter any more?

I think the answer to that is, yes of course it matters. And St. Monica beautifully illustrated this. A tenacious prayer warrior, Monica followed her wayward son, Augustine, all over the place, praying for him and encouraging him with all of her strength. She never gave up. Eventually her prayers were heard and St. Augustine became a great doctor of the church.

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). Yet even the colleges themselves don't seem to believe that. Noah's college, for all of its rhetoric about the adulthood of their students, assigned them the classes they should take this fall, and also demands that its freshman athletes log and document their study time. Doesn't seem like they are being trusted as adults to me.


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.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to say that I am not entirely pleased with the way my oldest adult children started 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.

For the past few years, 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. But I also see other signs of maturity as they talk about following their consciences in this upcoming election cycle. I definitely see some steps in the right direction over the past year.

Then there's the son I haven't heard from in over a month, but I pray for him too. It took St. Monica years and years to get results - so I remain hopeful.
Mallory's wedding 100

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.

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!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Simple Woman

Outside my window...

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A shot of Rosie racing in a 5K one week ago during a very hot, steamy day.  Seriously, it was like racing in a sauna. I found out this week that she actually won her age group for that race - nice start for the season. She looks like a young lady in this picture instead of a little girl!

I am thinking...
about Noah, who started his running camp for college this week. Hearing him talk about his new team last night reminded me of four years ago when he started running with the high school team. It's hard to be the outsider coming in and you don't make best buddies in just a few days.  The guys he made strong friendships with on the high school team weren't his best buddies in the first few weeks. It takes time.  I am also thinking that once his regular classes start, he'll make some friends outside of the running club too, and that will be nice.

I am thankful...
for my granddaughter who somehow coerces me into taking a nap with her most afternoons. I enjoy those moments, maybe because I know how brief they are!  This week they are particularly soothing to my heart as  Noah starts spending more time away with the start of his college career. My goddaughter also leaves for college at the end of the week.  An era is ending. Having the baby around helps make that transition smoother.

In the kitchen...
Barbecue chicken breast bacon wrap.

I am wearing...
Gray skort with gray long-sleeved shirt.

I am pondering...
The month of September - which always seems to hit my family in the head like a sledge hammer. Mr. Pete, who repairs musical instruments, is working 12 hour days to keep up with the work. I have four weddings to oversee this month at church, which takes a good chunk out of every weekend. And of course, cross country season is starting this weekend.  It's just hard to go from the lazy and lax days of summer to the strictness of the school year.

I am going...
  • to walk or work out every day with Pfilates . I have to include some arm work out with this. Also, since Noah is busy now, I will probably be taking Sophie on more long walks.  I took her for about a three mile walk this morning and she was very happy to be back home!
  • to cut my carbs via the Wheat Belly Total Health: The Ultimate Grain-Free Health and Weight-Loss Life Plan  recommendations. 
  • See Rosie race on Saturday.
  • Sneaking a way to watch Noah's practice when it is held locally tomorrow. I will be doing this covert operation with my granddaughter in tow - not sure how inconspicuous I will be able to be! 
  • Start some heavy duty flute practice. 

I am reading...

I have two writings in this new book from Catholic I've been reading the other articles and I think they're very enjoyable.

From the Learning Rooms...


Izzy-Junior - heading into senior year!

Adobe Spark

Also, it occurs to me that this year, I start into my 3rd decade of homeschooling. I have two sets of emotions about this. I feel proud of what I was able to accomplish with my kids. Yet, when I started out all those years ago, I never thought that this would be my life's work. And I ponder that.

A quote to share...

“That is the key to history. Terrific energy is expended - civilizations are built up - excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong. Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and the cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin.”

C.S. Lewis

Some  of my favorite things...
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A few years ago, Akron's minor league baseball team changed its name to "The Rubber Ducks."  This year, Izzy and some other young artists, were commissioned with making a sculpture in downtown Akron to pay homage to the new mascot.  I think they did a neat job!

A picture to share...

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mary Queen of Heaven

Coronation of Mary, Queen of Heaven

Queenship of Mary Delicious Links.

Pius XII was instrumental in establishing the Feast of Mary's Queenship. The liturgical Feast of Christ the King honors the kingly dignity of Jesus Christ and was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI. Mary's royal dignity is parallel, although subordinate, and the Feast of the Queenship of Mary was instituted by Pope Pius XII and her queenship proclaimed with the encyclical letter, Ad coeli Reginam, promulgated on October 11, 1954.

Mary Crowned Queen of Heaven
40. Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination,[47] immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages.

In our home, we will bring the stars out and hang them from our chandelier.  These represent heaven, and they will surround our statue of Mary.
August 2012 069

When the kids were younger, we made stars out of cardboard and aluminum foil. A couple of years ago though, Noah mentioned how much he disliked those stars. He thought they looked tacky.  So last year, I bought these on Amazon. Noah liked those much better.

August 2015 135

August 2015 141

Once the stars go up, they stay up until Ash Wednesday, adding a festive touch to the dining room through the fall and holiday season.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Working through the Tangles - How we started in running.

Most of the time, God's plan to me is like the  embroidery analogy.

Sarah Altendorf via Flickr, licensed cc

I'm sure from the top, where God sits, looking down, the plan is working out beautifully.  But where I am sitting, looking up, there are a lot of knots and tangles on the underside.

Just before my last child was born 11 years ago, I hit one of those tangles.

Mr. Pete and I had all of our children involved with swimming and the swim team. We started by putting my oldest son in swimming because it tired him out and made him more manageable. As he got to be high school age, it became a big part of his life, and I think the discipline and the fatigue that came with being a competitive swimmer made him a better person.
I thought I had found the recipe for success with raising little boys. Being in the water took the fight out of them! I couldn't imagine that a drug would work as well as a couple of hours racing in the water. So all of our subsequent sons took swimming lessons and then joined the swim team. At the time, this was very expensive for us. But I thought it was worth the sacrifice to provide this for our children.
Noah racing
Two weeks before my youngest child was due to be born, one of my long-time clients sent me a note that said she had to cut costs in her business and so she would no longer be using my services. This was a huge financial hit for our family and being hormonal anyway, I fell into despair.  The timing of all of this, with a new baby on the way, wasn't great, but I had no choice but to accept it. Yet I worried about how this would affect my sons, and all I could see ahead of us were tangles.

But God started working His plan for us immediately. Not having that extra work and stress on me, helped with my recovery from a Cesarean delivery at age 46. But I still worried because I knew that we weren't going to be able to afford swim team for my younger sons any more, and I fretted about how to tell them and what to replace it with.

A few months later, there was a notice in the parish bulletin, that CYO was offering Cross Country for elementary students!  I thought that maybe that would be my answer. Financially it certainly was! The cost of joining was a fraction of what the team fees were.

I had never run before, and Mr. Pete is not a runner. We weren't sure what we were getting into, yet I felt compelled to at least give it a try. So we showed up for the first practice and my kids, who were avid and capable swimmers, started learning about distance running. Blessings started coming to us from that as well. Because this was a CYO activity, we started feeling a little more closely part of the parish life. Cross country practice was also a lot less time consuming since the practices were only about an hour long and the routine of that was better for our dinner time and family routine.
Sam and Gabe were never stellar runners, but they enjoyed the comraderie and the benefits of running. They occasionally run now as adults. But what I didn't know then was that two of my younger kids would be good runners, and that the new baby I brought into the world when this started, would possibly even be a talented runner.

Five years ago I put her in her very first one mile race.  She didn't ask me, "Mom, what if I don't finish?"  she asked, "Mom, what if I don't win?"  I knew right then that this was the sport for her.
Rosie at Tallmadge Meet
Next week, Noah starts running on the college level with an NCAA 2 school.  That never entered my mind as a possibility when we showed up for that first cross country practice all those years ago. I have no idea how God will use that. Maybe he'll meet a lifelong friend? or maybe there will be experiences with this team that will serve in the future? I don't know.

God either cleared out the knots and tangles for us, or showed us the purpose for each one. I know there will be more ahead. But when I have my doubts, I look back and see the design that I can sort of kinda make out from my new perspective, and this bolsters my faith, and makes me anxious to see how it will all work out in the future.
noah cross country 2014 068

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Alabaster Anniversary

When I was a little girl, my grandparents kept a beautiful silver wall hanging to commemorate their 25th wedding anniversary. It had Mary and Joseph on it with a big number 25 between them. That hung on their wall for as long as I could remember.
When I was in high school they celebrated their 50th anniversary with gold party favors and decorations all around the church hall. Everything from the program at their special Mass to my grandpa’s necktie was steeped in gold – the color of the day!
Maybe that’s why I like the idea that there are certain special “gifts” or materials that go with each anniversary. My son and his wife recently had their first wedding anniversary – the “paper” anniversary. When I went to get them something I wanted to find something special to commemorate their first year of married life. I found a charming paper lantern to memorialize the occasion in the years to come, or for however long paper things last.
Once you get past 30 years of marriage (the pearl anniversary) the items that go with each subsequent anniversary are kind of  unusual and rare until you make it to 40 (the ruby anniversary). A few years ago we had our coral anniversary and last year was bone china. With teens, tweens and a toddler around, it didn’t seem wise to bring those types of items into the household.

Roger via Flickr, licensed cc

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Wordless Wednesday

Mallory's wedding 092
Three brothers.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Homeschool book list for 2016/2017

Book list 2016/17

homeschool 001

Exploring Creation with Botany
Trail Guide to Bible Geography
CYO Cross Country practice
Children’s Choir at Oaks of Righteousness Co-Op

Art Studies at Akrona Art
Parish Choir St. Sebastians
Spelling U See Per Dr. Holinga
Saturday Soccer League

Kate at Flickr licensed via CC

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