Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I went to pick up Teen Son from the community college yesterday morning. After waiting about 5 minutes, I noticed that the car clock said 9:05 AM. TS doesn't get out of school until 10 AM. I could've sworn that it was 10:00, but the clock said 9. So, I double checked with the digital clock across the street from the Capital. It said 9:06 AM. I chalked it up to brain fog and headed off to the coffee shop to grab a bagel and steamer to keep me busy for the next hour.
When I finally picked up Teen Son, I exclaimed, "You wouldn't believe what I did! I came to pick you up at 9 instead of 10! So, I went to Beaners for an hour." TS looked at me, with that pitiful look reserved for middle aged mothers, and gently said, "Mom, it's 11."
Then I had to race home to get Teen Daughter 2, who had Latin Club at 11:15 AM, all the while apologizing to TS about a thousand times.
So, how did Congress make me late? Well, here's what happened. Turns out that the car clock, and clocks all over the city, were pre-programmed to fall back an hour last weekend. The problem is that Congress decided to move Daylight Savings Time back a week -- next weekend. Apparently my congressman forgot to tell my car's clock.
Hopefully, I'll remember to manually change the house clocks this weekend and won't be late picking up Teen Son again. Or, would I be early? I'm so confused.
Monday, October 29, 2007
So anyway, as I write this column, one of our sons is carting arm loads to the garage, and he's not happy about it. He's neither a shopper nor a saver, so none of the junk is his. But he's got the muscles, so he's got the job!
And, hey, make sure to tell all your friends about Catholic Exchange's new and improved Homeschool Channel!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
She had a bad feeling about this one, beginning with her doubts that the parents of the girl were capable of providing academic training to their daughter. Head offered me convincing evidence to support those doubts, but asked, for the sake of the family's privacy, that I not reveal the specifics.
He can't give us specifics -- we're just supposed to accept his word there is convincing evidence?
He goes on to quote another public educator, but there is no representation from the homeschooling community.
Fair and balanced reporting? What do you think?
Mr. Pullman's critics say the story inverts the Christian imagery used by C.S. Lewis in "The Chronicles of Narnia," portrays the Catholic Church as evil and depicts the Judeo-Christian God as an evil liar.
An interesting side note: The ever secular Snopes picked up the Pullman story HERE.
In the realm of academics, my husband's travels can easily turn into geography units. During this last trip, our entire family learned enough geography to cover a whole academic quarter.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
They're excited. I'm a nervous wreck.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Rob has kept to his vegetarian diet since Lent and I'm still finding it a little challenging to create delicious, flavor-filled, meals. As we drove home from Mass, I remembered a delicious black bean egg tostada dish I had in California a few years ago. When I got home I set to recreate it. The family loved it!
Here's the recipe in case you'd like to give it a try:
Egg and Black Bean Tostadas
2 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used 1/2 yellow and 1/2 red, but you could use green instead)
1 16-oz can black beans
1 8-oz. can of tomato sauce (the itty bitty can)
salt and pepper to taste
8 corn tostadas (I get these in the Mexican section of the grocery store. They're fried corn tortillas. You could fry your own corn tortillas in vegetable oil if you like.)
2 cups shredded colby/jack (or your favorite) cheese
Optional toppings: sour cream, fresh salsa, guacamole
Coat the bottom of a large pot with the olive oil. Once hot, over a medium heat, add your cumin and red pepper, sauteing for only 30 seconds. Add your garlic, onions, and bell pepper. Saute until the onions are translucent. (Your house will smell sooo good!)
Add the can of beans, liquid and all, plus the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil. Quickly reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until it's a nice thick consistency.
While the beans are thickening, start cooking your eggs. I made fried eggs for Rob and me, and scrambled for the kids. Either way will work great.
Put a tostada on a plate, top with a fried egg or scoop of scrambled eggs. Top that with a ladle of the bean mixture and shredded cheese. Serve sour cream, fresh salsa, and/or guacamole on the side.
I wanted to add chopped cilantro at the end, but this was an unplanned meal and I didn't have any fresh on hand.
If you want to spice it up, just add more red pepper or a chopped jalapeno pepper.
This is easily doubled. I only made 8 servings since a few of the older kids weren't home at the time.
Oh, one more note -- if you have a friend who brings you fresh eggs from their farm, remember to offer up a little prayer for that person every time you crack an egg. Linda brings me 2 or 3 dozen eggs every week, so I get to pray for her a lot!
The kids were behind me sitting on the furniture, rosaries clasped in their little hands, giving each other odd glances and wondering if what had just happened would happen again.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
If we look through the stories about the gods in Greek and Roman myth, what kind of gods do we find? Largely, the gods are portrayed as rather self-centered and unpleasant people. The gods are generally interested in their own comforts and intrigues. Occasionally, they will do good deeds for human beings. However, there is no sense in which the gods love humans. There is no sense in which the gods would lay down their own lives for humans.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
I have a friend whose mom is totally against her homeschooling. Why? Because the mom is a librarian in a big city library and the homeschoolers make her nuts. You see, they come every week for their homeschool get together and they let their kids run wild. WILD!
So, because a few homeschoolers in a distant city don't pay proper attention to their kids in public places, a wanna-be homeschooler is getting grief from her mom. Major grief.
I know what it can be like at these gatherings. You're stuck in the house more than you like some days and you can't wait to gab with your girlfriends. You tend to ignore the kids so you and Betty Sue can swap favorite recipes or wax on about whatever.
Please, if your goal is to get together with girlfriends -- host the gathering at at an empty gym where the kids can play with little supervision. Or go out and leave the kids home with Dad.
If your goal is to provide an educational outing for the littles, then get organized. Keep the children occupied with meaningful activities. Assign different tasks to different moms. Talk to the kids beforehand about proper behavior in public places. Remind them of their manners. If they can't live up to the standards, take them out. (Out of the building, not knock them out!)
And, have them send a thank note to the librarian (or whoever) when they get home.
Friday, October 19, 2007
For example, if I wanted to know what people are saying online about my homeschool book, I would set up a query for "Catholic Homeschool Companion." I could then have Google contact me immediately, once a day, or once a week. I could also have Google notify me of everything on the web, or I could set it up to only notify me of blog posts or news stories, etc.
This is a neat little tool.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
"So, you ever been tazered?"
"You ever kill a guy?"
"Do the inmates like the food here?"
"If you have a bullet-proof vest on, does it hurt less when the criminals punch you?"
"What do you do if the bad guys don't want to go to jail?"
"Do you have a latte machine?"
And there'll be conversations such as:
"Have you ever put a guy in the electric chair?"
"We don't have the death penalty in Michigan. We just put them in prison for life."
"So, have you ever gone into a cell and found bones."
"Um, no. We incarcerate them while they're alive, not for eternity."
Nine-year-old boys sure come up with some crazy ideas.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
No! My husband works in public education. I've seen their curriculum. First of all, it's designed for a large classroom setting, not for a mother working one-on-one with her child. Second of all, it's all color and glitz and no content.
The NEA would have us all use state-approved curricula, but in all honesty you'd do much better going to the public library and just borrowing real books.
The state doesn't know what works best for my individual children. I'll go so far to say that it doesn't even have my child's best interest at heart. The state cares about the state's best interest. The state's main concern is a citizenry that serves the state. My main concern is a child who serves God.
Monday, October 15, 2007
First up is Mary Jo's column, An Accidental Bad First Impression.
By the way, some of those moms have become my very dear friends, and our children have gone on to enjoy years of solid Christian friendship, complete with the virtue of modesty, along with a little more interest in and knowledge about the joyful noises made by insects.
Second up is an article by Heidi Bratton, A Catholic Education for Every Catholic Kid: Education by Home Schooling (part 5 in a series).
If education itself is like a glorious, full-color picture book, then homeschooling, for our family, has been like a pop-up version of that book.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Now, two decades later, I realize how mistaken I was in that early assumption. Yes, sometimes a crisis interrupts our homeschooling for an afternoon, or a day, or a week. Some crises are even more long-term. That's where the flexibility and stability of homeschooling have been our refuge.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
"Data processing, actually. Well, I found out ideals are dead. People mess up the world and nobody's perfect," Ken said, chewing his steak, as if that explained his statement. "Computers are what I understand. But I am the most ethical computer person in the field," Ken joked. We laughed.
If you ever have the opportunity to hear Immaculee speak, do not pass it up. Go! It will change your life. For the better. Go!
Her story is one of forgiveness. Forgiveness of the most unforgivable.
As she walked down the church aisle you could see her nervousness. She didn't expect so many people to show up on a workday morning. But her smile was radiant. She looked right at me and I felt as though I had been touched by an angel. When she reached the podium and saw the large number of students in attendance, she really lit up.
She went on to tell her story of horror, of how she lived through the Rwandan genocide in 1994. She hid in a bathroom, a mere 3' by 4', with 7 other woman. Yes, those numbers are correct -- a total of 8 women in a 3' by 4' bathroom. They could not talk or make any sound (including flushing the toilet unless timed to flush at the very moment the other toilet in the house flushed). They slept standing up. They could not wash or change their clothes. Food was almost nonexistent (Immaculee lost 50 lbs., going from 115 to 65 lbs.). This went on for 91 days. Ninety-one days!
The house where Immaculee was hidden had been searched several times. Searched by angry mobs with nothing but killing in their hearts. They turned over furniture, they slashed open suitcases, they tore into closets, but they never opened the bathroom door.
The power of prayer. Fervent prayer.
There were servants, guests, and children in the house who would've turned the 8 woman over to the mob in a heartbeat. But they never figured out, until the end, that the spare bathroom was off limits.
The power of prayer. Fervent prayer.
When Immaculee finally emerged from the bathroom, the horror continued. The killing was still going on, but waning. Then there was finding and burying the dead. Nearly one million dead in less than 100 days.
The Hutu tribe, about 75% of the Rwandan population sought to completely annihilate the Tutsis who made up 20% of the population (there is a small population of pygmies). They sought to kill them all in the most vicious manner. Many times hacking them to death with machetes, from the unborn to the elderly.
Immaculee found her parents, 2 of her 3 brothers, grandparents, neighbors, college friends, all murdered in this way by the mobs.
The amazing part of this story is that Immaculee forgave. She went to the prison, met the man who organized the killing of her beloved family, and said to him, looking him straight in the eye, "I forgive you."
One thing that strikes you when you see Immaculee in person is her beauty. She simply radiates beauty. The kind of beauty that comes from deep inside and cannot be denied except by the most hardened of hearts. Even her name is beautiful.
I highly recommend her book, Left to Tell. Buy it or borrow it, and definitely share it with others. Please be forewarned that it does contain graphic descriptions of the genocide, but it is necessary to truly understand the story's message of faith, prayer, and forgiveness. I read almost all of it in one sitting (and with a box of Kleenex). I finally put it down in the wee hours of the night, only to pick it up the very next morning as I sat before the Blessed Eucharist at the Perpetual Adoration chapel. It has been on my mind ever since.
I pray the story will never leave my mind. I pray that I will always heed its message: As long as we are breathing and our hearts are beating we can forgive, even the unforgivable.
Addendum: I just found this DVD, The Diary of Immaculee, on amazon.com and the reviews are pretty good. I'm going to order it right now. You should be able to find Immaculee's book (it was a New York Times Bestseller) and maybe even the DVD through your library.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
At any given moment, I have somewhere between fifty and ninety books checked out from the public library. Because "real" books provide the foundation of my homeschool, the library has become a very necessary resource.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Those other weirdos are still my friends, thank the Lord. They have been my supports and mentors for more than a decade. And when I think of what it means to be a committed mom, those three always top my list. This race is going to be a dead heat, and I don’t even mind because all of us have benefited greatly from daring to be weird.
While I was writing my novel ReEnchantment: A Schoolboys' Adventure, one of the scenes I struggled with was when the mother, contemplating schooling her own child, has doubts about her ability to do the job. There are a number of motives at work in the character I developed, but unquestionably one of the major worries that beset her and most parents considering home school is whether they have the skill. I contend theirs is nothing more than a temporary lack of confidence.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Sunday, October 07, 2007
I have been working hard with a friend of mine for the past few months helping her expand her dress up business to include a much wider variety of saints and religious in addition to the more standard fare of knights and princesses, etc. *We are also working on providing small unit studies to accompany each costume. We're not yet certain when we can have that ready, but we're working hard on it. The unit studies will include: biographical information, interesting stories, additional resources and historical fiction for further study, special prayers, customs and traditions, recipes and sometimes short plays or skits for those who enjoy making history come alive by reliving it. :) Pray that we can do everything we hope to do! :)
Debbie is now taking orders at her new website:
If you want to order something, do not wait. For the past two years Debbie has had to tell procrastinators that she cannot fill the order they placed because they waited until the last few days before Halloween to order. Our Coats of Many Colors is a small business
which is currently well stocked but which can't yet handle huge volumes of last minute sales. If you want something, order it now and you will get it. For further information, contact Debbie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Addendum: OOPS! I read the results wrong. Somebody at CE needs to line those stats up better so they're easier to read by 40ish women. Anyhoo, 94% of quiz takers got the answer right. Whew, that makes me feel better.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Bishops being martyred under Trajan, St. Ignatius fighting heresy in the early Church, the persecutions in Lyons, St. Justin using arguments of philosophy to persuade the Emperor Aurelius to validate Christianity — these are all events worth further study in our homeschools. The Saints impact history in a way that is still felt today and we would be remiss not to share their stories with our children.
If you have a favorite book or resource for the study of Ancient Rome, make sure to leave a comment.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Lord God, you are the glory of believers and the life of the just. Your son redeemed us by dying and rising to life again. Let our departed brother share the joys and blessings of the life to come. Please bring comfort to those who mourn his passing.
I'm not sure how to give you a link to Mark's original post -- his blog is set up differently than mine. So, I'll cut and paste here:
The NEA Doesn't Like it When Homeschoolers Consistently Wipe the Floor with Public School Kids in Test Results...so they issue disdainful press releases. Pretty soon they are going to raise their eyebrows so high they will lift themselves off the ground in a paroxysm of high dudgeon.
Addendum: Margaret Mary found a link to Mark's original post. Try THIS. Thanks MM!
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Feel free to critique as he still has time for major edits.
Sacrificial Parents Equals Homeschooling Success
When people ask me where I go to school, I say, “I’m homeschooled.” Their reply is almost always, “Homeschool? Where’s that?” Homeschool is not a school at all, but a radical family lifestyle. Homeschooling used to be illegal in Michigan to all but those who were state-certified teachers, and whose homes followed the strict safety codes followed by public schools– such as emergency exit signs pointing to all ways out and sprinkler systems in case of fire. For homeschoolers, these were the Dark Ages of Michigan, where parents who weren’t satisfied with what schools had to offer had to teach their children in secret. Today, however, there are few laws governing homeschooling in Michigan, and homeschooling is growing at a rapid pace.
However, even in Michigan, with its lenient regulations, homeschooling can be a daunting challenge. Most homeschooling parents must support their families on a single income, and pay for all school expenses; these parents usually have large families, which demands even more financial and time resources. Homeschooling families must also deal with stereotypes and prejudices. Many homeschooling parents educate their children not only through middle school but through all four years of high school as well – most homeschooling parents do this without any kind of education degree, often teaching multiple grade levels ranging from preschool to high school seniors at the same time. For a large family of six or more children this can be overwhelming.
With so many obstacles, it would seem homeschooling is destined for failure. Yet, typical Homeschooled students receive above-average grades, are less rebellious, and possess better communication among family members. According to a study out of MSU, homeschool graduates vote at a higher rate, and are more involved in the community. Some colleges seek out homeschoolers to attend their universities. For something that is as challenging as homeschooling, this is all amazing. The big question is, how is this possible? I believe the answer lies with parents. It is through the tremendous sacrifice and love of these children’s parents that they find such success. For the average homeschool parent, it is love that motivates them to begin a child’s education at home, or to pull a child out of school to learn at home. Concern for their child’s well-being drives these parents to make incredible sacrifices, like giving up a career to teach and care for their children full-time at home.
To succeed in homeschooling, the demands on parents go beyond giving up a career and living off one income; many homeschooling families are also large, the average number of children probably about twice that of the average American family – that’s four or five children. Many homeschooling families have far more children. For example, the Smith [I've changed the name here -- MW] family of Sunfield, Michigan, homeschools, and has eleven children – ages ranging from the oldest in his late twenties to the youngest who is seven. Because of the devotion of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, their children enjoy a good education and a smooth running family life. While parents like Mr. and Mrs. Smith may not have much time to themselves, much money to spare, or much space, they are content and have well-rounded children.
The only common challenge these parents’ sacrificial love has not overcome is the many stereotypes surrounding homeschooling. Parents are often seen as rigid taskmasters who won’t allow their children to leave the house. Stereotypes surrounding their children are many and often conflicting. Homeschooled children are portrayed by these stereotypes as stupid, geniuses, shy, nerds, freaks, mindless drones, or victims of their inflexible parents. The most popular stereotype is that all homeschoolers are hyper-intelligent nerds; this is probably because most news coverage on homeschooling focuses on these few brainiacs.
While a nontraditional upbringing might be another obstacle for homeschool families to overcome, the parents who choose to homeschool are proactive to show the public what homeschooling is really about. Since many stereotypes surrounding homeschooling are beginning to fade, and homeschooling becomes less and less mysterious, it seems parents are doing a good job. So, maybe this is yet another obstacle homeschooling parents will overcome.
Homeschooling would not be a success, however, if parents simply stopped at overcoming the challenges. It is necessary for success to explore new territory as well. Parents are vigorous in their role of caregiver and educator, and expend a great deal of energy to help their child recognize his or her full potential. With a passion, these parents take steps to further their children’s education, social life, and overall well-being. Many families are part of a homeschool community, and they take the idea of community seriously. These groups are vibrant; children interact and parents share resources. Our local homeschool community hosts events such as back-to-school parties, ultimate Frisbee, and track. It also provides groups like Latin Club, Writers’ Club, Reader’s Anonymous (a reading group), and Socrates Café (a discussion group). Mid-Michigan even has a homeschool Science Olympiad team known as Creative Science Investigators (or CSI). Science Olympiad was originally a program for schools to encourage the sciences through competition, but when parents were willing to take the roles of professional teachers as coaches, CSI became possible.
Parents in general often make huge sacrifices for their children, so perhaps it’s not too surprising that so many couples in Michigan willfully, often joyfully, choose homeschooling for their children. The sacrifice is great, but so are the benefits; these parents realize this, and that is why most strive so hard to make homeschooling work for their children. Homeschooling allows parents to be involved in their children’s education to an extent beyond the capabilities of schools, giving them the opportunity to make any sacrifice they feel necessary for their children. Because homeschooling allows parents to express their love for their children through constructive means linked directly to education, homeschooling should always be an option for parents who want success for their children.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Your neighbor, a school teacher, shares with you, "I once had a homeschooled kid put in my class and his work was below average."
You reply, "Public school children are never below average?"
A stranger in the grocery store declares, upon learning that you're a homeschooler, "I once knew a homeschooled kid who was horribly shy."
You reply, "They don't have shy kids in public schools?"
Your cousin Barney shares with you at the family Christmas gathering, "I once had a neighbor whose uncle's co-worker's sister-in-law homeschooled. That kid went off to college and totally rebelled, smoking and drinking and who knows what else!"
You reply, "Public school children never rebel?"
Your brother-in-law tells you, "Your kids will all be nerds!"
You reply, "They don't have nerds in public school?"
Alternate reply, "Good! Nerds don't get in trouble with the law or with girls or with drugs or with staying out all night."
A fellow parishoner asks, "What about socialization?"
You reply, "YES! That's exactly why I homeschool, because of the superiority of the socialization. How wise of you to see that!"
As this conversation between my six-year-old son and my 66-year-old father continued to unfold, I couldn’t help but smile and think, “This is homeschooling at its best.” My son’s enthusiasm for birds did not come from a science textbook, it came from the study of nature science in a relaxed home setting. Due to the birth of their new baby brother, Joe and his siblings had just spent eight weeks immersing themselves in the study of nature.
Monday, October 01, 2007
If you'd like to know what they have to say about us homeschoolers, I'll save you the hassle of scrolling through the 105-page pdf file:
B-75. Home Schooling
The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.
The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools.
The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting. (1988, 2006)
Bless their little hearts. I just get all warm and fuzzy knowing that the NEA is looking out for my children.
The year my husband and I decided to explore homeschooling brought an unexpected reaction from one of our children. It wasn't the preadolescent 10-year-old girl prone to hormones. It wasn't the stubborn six-year-old boy who did not like change. And, it certainly wasn't the two-year-old who began, out of the blue one late May, sadly and pitifully to say each day after his lunch, "When can we go get my tids kids from cool school? I miss my tids." It was the eight-year-old, the child who up until that point had never questioned or argued about any of our parental decisions...