Expressions from our Youngest

Expressions from our Youngest
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Have a H.E.A.R.T.

How To Have a HEART for Your Kids

It's time to talk about Chapter 5 in How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for your Kids by Rachael Carman.  If you would like to join in the conversation just click on this link to visit Amanda Pelser's blog.  Chapter 5 was titled "Teach Them the Truth."  (Sorry So Late in posting but I was having some technical difficulty).

This chapter begins by pointing out all the lies that have taken root in our culture.  As I sit here, one of my college sons will be attending Lobby Night in our state to talk to legislators about preserving religious freedom and traditional marriage between one man and one woman.  The lies are now confrontational where we need to "speak out publicly to resist their further advancement" or be forced to violate our beliefs.  When we teach our kids the truth of God's Word, they become skilled at defending these unjust assaults to our most important freedoms and virtuous traditions.  They do not fall prey to accepting the "relative truth" that is so permissive in our world.  Truth is not relative and does not change from one day to the next according to the way the one in power feels.  With the onslaught of lies engulfing our culture, our children need to know that "followers of Jesus Christ have what the world needs:  timeless, unchanging, dependable, and knowable truth."  We can no longer just enjoy our freedoms but are returning to times when we have to fight for them.  The divine power of God provides us with a life-giving Church which always points above and beyond herself with a call to holiness through our knowledge of Jesus Christ.  These are the means necessary for godliness and life our children need to put first in their lives.

Rachael refers to many virtuous characters referenced in the Bible whose "knowledge probably affected their actions."  As homeschoolers, we can 'pass the baton' to our children every day about many who have displayed "godly examples of faithful living."  I utilize some great Saint books from Loyola Press:  Saints and Feast Days - A Resource and Activity Book and The Loyola Treasury of Saints - From the time of Jesus to the present day.  America's Founding Fathers are also good examples of virtue.  We also use Finding God, Following Jesus by Loyola Press where we actually compare and discuss religious articles and bible verses, developments in the Church, and various Saints and missionaries.  My daughter is presently attending a Confirmation class at a local parish.

I was so happy to hear Rachael say she sings hymns with her children.  I remember when my two oldest were younger, I would serenade Church hymns to them while they ate their lunch.  I also taught and designed a dance and movement class with various religious songs and simple sign language.  It was great fun.  Rachael also stresses the need for family worship time.  Every Sunday after Mass, we all came together for family prayer.  It was my favorite time of the week.  We still do this and hope my children will carry on this tradition in their own families.

I really enjoyed Rachael's book and it warms my heart to know that others put God's Word as a top priority into their lives!  Homeschoolers have alot of responsibilities and it has been a pleasure to take a break from teaching to feed myself with wisdom from other virtuous Christians by participating in this great book discussion.  Thank you!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Homeschool Week

It is time for The Homeschool Mother's Journal again where we can share what has occurred in our week with homeschooling and life in general. I'M HAVING TECHNICAL TROUBLE IN NOT BEING ABLE TO HOOK UP WITH HMJ's SITE.  In any event, here is a small record of my past week:

1) In my life this week...My seventh grade daughter now belongs to The Challenge Club - a teen girls Catholic leadership club.  It is wonderful.  In fact, I went to elementary school with the mom who organizes the club for the girls.  It is great to hook up with some old friends.  On Saturday, she and a friend attended a Pure Fashion Spa Day for middle schoolers.  The girls learn to wear make up and dress appropriately and modestly. 

We also made 'First Amendment cupcakes' and handed them out to some of the girls at my daughters high school.  They said, "Religious Freedom" on them so I don't think this would fly at a public school.  We're going to try to have them for the girls every friday.  I have to get more help making the cupcakes from other moms this coming week. 

My college son came home to have the doctor look at his fractured collar bone.  He will be getting a rod removed in two weeks.  Also, my mother-in-law had hip surgery and is recovering well.  My anemia continues to cause me fatigue where I often have to take a nap during the day.  I will soon be having some medical procedures done that are suppose to help me.

2) In our homeschool week...We had a productive week even though we didn't get to do Latin. We did the following:

Math: Corrections; Renaming Fractions by Multiplying by 1; Equivalent Division Problems and Number Problems with Fractions and Decimals; Simplifying Decimal Numbers; Comparing Decimal Numbers.

English: Prepositional Phrases:  Adjectival, Adverbial, and Noun Phrases; Relative Pronouns and their Antecedents; Relative Pronouns as Subjects and Direct Objects; Diagramming.

Religion: We analyzed two articles on the Kingdom of God:  1) A Different Kingdom and 2) A Child Shall Lead Them. 

History: Read Lesson on "The Great Depression, Family Life, and Culture.  Completed 'For Further Study' project:  1) Listened to Big Band music of the swing era, 2) looked at some surrealist and regionalist paintings, and 3) completed report on Mount Rushmore.

Science:  Worked on physicist report for Neils Bohr.

Writing: Completed first draft on paper "The Magic Thread."

Reading: Finished reading "God's Smuggler" by Brother Andrew.  Stories completed in Reading for Comprehension:  Teenage Saints, Saint Agnes, Saint Lucy, and Seven Sons (Agnes and Lucy were both turned into Roman authorities for refusing to marry men.)  Stories completed in Reading for Thinking Skills:  The Miracle, A Thorough Thanksgiving, The Meaning of Mortification, and The Church of India.

Vocabulary: Completed lesson on words meaning CERTAINTY and UNCERTAINTY.

Art: My daughter analyzed painting of Frank Stella and had to guess which sport it represented.  Then she had to make art work of a sport using shapes and colors representing sounds, movement, speed, mood, and feelings.  Her sport was swimming.

Geography:  Mexico

Music: Piano Lesson and practice

Phys. Ed.: Ballet Lesson

Kindergarten: Adding and subtracting; journal reading, writing, and coloring; prayers and devotions; phonics; calendar; map skills; science - healthy foods.

3) I am inspired by...All the moms I reconnected with from my elementary school years.  They are from a family of ten sisters and six of them all live in the same neighborhood.  Their children play with each other and they help each other out.  I have no sisters.  Therefore, you can see how I remind my two daughters that they are fortunate to have each other.  I am inspired by this family.

4) Places we're going and people we're seeing...mentioned already above - The girls Challenge Leadership Club and a Wine, Cheese, and Socrates Party with some of the moms from my daughter's high school.

5) My favorite thing this week...was having an early Valentines Ice Cream Cake for our co-op.

6) Questions/thoughts I have...I just had my first mammogram.  Did anyone else's hurt a little bit with the constriction?

7) A photo, video, link, or quote to share..."I think the one lesson I have learned is that there is no substitute for paying attention."

Saturday, February 11, 2012

How to Have a H.E.A.R.T.

Amanda Pelser | The Pelsers

Chapter 4 in Rachael Carmen's book titled "How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids" is called Release Them to God.  I have to tell you that I really enjoyed this chapter.  If you would like to participate discussing this wonderful book, just click on the link to go to Amanda Pelser's blog.

This chapter discusses the fact that our children are not ours...they are Gods.  I've never thought this concept to be terrifying.  In fact, I am so so grateful that my children belong to God because they are all so perfect and beautiful.  I am undeserving of owning something so precious.  When we give our children back to God, there is a constant internal driving force in parents to present Him with the most beautiful gift...the perfect souls of our own children.  Our parental responsibilities are enhanced by the wings of grace to be constantly directed toward the goodness of the Lord.  We become totally immersed in God's love for us and have the greatest desire to please and honor Him with children who are aware that their purpose in life is to know, love, and serve Him.

When we present our children with the truth of God's Word and the nurturing community of the Church Christ founded, our desires don't only strive for happiness for our children...but also take into account all the beautiful gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on those who love the Lord.  All the virtues come into play with joy for the Lord being one of the blessings bestowed at an early age.  As our children grow, God puts each virtue to be practiced at the proper time into the dynamics of family life.  The Holy Spirit sends graces needed for the wisdom to discuss and/or portray beneficial developments for strong characters in the midst of praying, helping eachother, studying, and completing daily tasks and assignments.  Eventually, even warnings about vices and sinful traits are presented as things to fight, avoid, and/or conquer.  The entire family "rids itself of selfish dreams and attempts to" desire God's power and authority under the obedience of his loving discipline and open to His mercy and generosity.

My children are too precious for me to keep them to myself or to only be obedient to my own dreams for them.  It is good that we train and discipline them while they are young so that they grow in academic and spiritual maturity to go out into the world and evangelize.  Letting go of my children expanded my dreams for them because they were set free into a respected Christian community that reflected the same principles and values instilled in them during their homeschooling years.  It was a perfect match for them.  The hard part for me was trusting peers and strangers I had never met. 

I trusted my kids and I trusted God but I tend to unnecessarily worry that some individual might try to hurt or take advantage of my children because I have PTSD.  In the entire five years my oldest sons attended their Catholic high school, there were only two incidents that inflamed my illness.  One time, a fellow student disclosed that he was bisexual to my son.  It bothered me that he was revealing this information.  I'm glad my son told me about it.  I was able to warn him that he may be looking for a friend that is too close for comfort.  He knew the right thing to do and steered clear of danger.  My other son and a friend were cornered walking home from school one day.  The strangers were going to jump them and take their wallets.  The friend got away and threatened the strangers with a call to the police on his cell.  They panicked and ran away.  The Lord was with them that day too.  The rest of the time at this wonderful school helped propell them into manhood and blessed them with wholesome academics and awesome friends.  In fact, we were on cloud nine when my oldest was the Salutatorian.  Homeschooling all those years (up until ninth grade) were very good for them.

Rachael spoke of the Bible story of Hannah and Samuel when she took seriously her promise to fulfill her vow with God by presenting him to Eli to be raised for the Lord.  It was never about Hannah.  As a mother, I've had to remind myself that 'it isn't about me.'  While I was busy with three younger children at home, my husband was the one involved with most of my older sons activities and schedules.  It is almost as if we were going in separate directions.  We were sacrificing for them though.  I had to understand that I would have less interaction and conversations with my older sons and less involvement in community and outside activities because the school was an hour away.  This was difficult to accept but in the end...was well worth any bit of pain I endured.  My older sons have showed me that faith and family were still priorities in their busier lives.  It just took time to fully be revealed to me.  I had to trust my husband who took my older sons under his wings now.

One of my favorite quotes in this chapter is, "These parents valued Christ-like character over mere head knowledge, recognizing that high standardized scores without character and integrity are largely worthless."  This is so important.  In the early years, we were blessed with the time and opportunity to get into many deep discussions about life with our children.  As they grow, our children were discussing life less and finances and schedules more while my husband and I became first hand witnesses to their strong Christian virtues.  We couldn't have been more pleased.  So you want to be observant of what your older children show you, especially in the friends they choose and if they still ask permission while they are living under your roof.  Do they still join you for family prayer when they are home and do they continue to honor the sabbath?  Therefore, be aware of changes in discussions and developments in witnessing righteous actions.

Rachael gives good advice when she says, "you have entered an intense battle zone -- the front lines you might say" when your kids are released to the world.  If your children have the Lord at the center of their lives, they'll be able to withstand an attack from the enemy.  My sons experienced a difficult situation where they were accused of something that they had no part in.  Just like the Lord, they were silent in their persecution but were unable to argue there innocense because of the power of their accusers.  It was the hardest thing I've ever experienced.  Nevertheless, the following year proof of their innocense was revealed and they were rightly compensated.  It is a crazy world and there are many that target virtuous Christians, mainly out of jealousy.  So beware.

In all things, keep that eternal perspective and the Lord will continue to bless your efforts.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How to have a H.E.A.R.T.

HEART Book Club Banner1 HEART Book Club Link up

I wanted to share my thoughts on Chapter 3 in Rachael Carman's book titled "How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids.  Many mothers are participating in this book discussion at Amanda Pelser's blog.  It is wonderful to hear how other moms experience family life from using Rachael's book as a model... so to speak...for assistance and instruction.

One statement made in this chapter pointed out that many in our society "value career and stuff more than their kids."  In large part, I hold the public school system responsible for this pervasive mentality because young children spend too much time there when they would benefit more from time with parents.  For example, my public school years did not teach me anything about putting God and family first before friends and fun.  My elementary years did because I went to a Catholic school.  Once I reached the middle school years, I switched to public school.  There was no class that influenced me to feel special as a mother and prepare me for raising and managing a family.  Everything focused on academics and getting a good job.  Therefore, I went through a very difficult transition into motherhood.  I had to rid myself of the poisonous mentality of valuing my career too much.  It wasn't until I had little ones and began to teach them about God's Word and the richness of our faith that led me to put my priorities in their proper order.  No wonder it is so hard for women.  We need to manage and take care of our families as the priority and then fall back on a career.  Not the other way around.  Of course - unless we are single... only to a certain extent.

It is interesting to note that Rachael points out that our children can be the answer to our prayers.  This is very significant because it places us, as active participants, in the position of bringing justice (good things) to our world.  We may not immediately see this because the cause (of our mothering) and effect (of promoting justice) are distantly related by time.  Should we really work 40 hours a week putting our mothering, which causes a higher probability for justice to flourish, as a second priority?  It is so good to know that, as mothers, we are vitally important to society even though we do not get paid, receive alot of praise, eat out at restaurants, are motivated by daily interaction with peers, etc...  We do not get many perks but our work is probably just as important as the president of the united states (even more so than this present one!).  When we put this into proper perspective, we are doing the work of the Lord!  We see love and sacrifice when we look at our Lord on the Cross.  We see it also when we look at a devoted homeschool mom (or dad).  The world tells us not to see or acknowledge this beautiful reality.  Sorry - I say don't listen to them.  Mothers need to know how vitally important they are and we need to remind eachother of this to encourage eachother and lift one another up.  It is not always an easy road to travel and we can lean on eachother for support.

Also, God's timing isn't our timing.  Therefore, if we have been longing or waiting for something to help us on our journey, it is good to know that "God has sent little miracles to do His bidding, and always just in time."  This knowledge can assist us with the virtue of perseverance because there is always hope when we continuously pursue the Lord.  We must never give up and even go to our death singing the praises of the Lord!  Everything we have and do comes from the Good Lord.  Our relationship with the Lord is real and our love for Him can not be destroyed.

Rachael points out that many people in the bible have started out as small, humble, poor, persecuted, or suffering individuals and, by the grace of God, they became a significant influence, model, and/or leader in our world.  All of them were blessed with a mother's acceptance of them.  Thus, the A in H.E.A.R.T. for acceptance.  It is important for us to know that our children come from God and they are on a journey back to God.  They belong to God, not us.  Therefore, we are constantly open to the Lord's graces which help us accept the God-given gifts of our children.  Never trying to rewire them for selfish reasons but always giving back to the Lord.  We need to make the ultimate destiny of our children eternal life with the All Loving Father.  Everything else will fall into place.

The homeschooling journey also permits us to 'look in the mirror' and change anything about ourselves when we direct our children in the ways of the Lord.  Nobody is perfect and I've learned right along beside my children.  I have to say, it is all well worth the effort.  The Lord helps us 'drive out foolishness' whenever it surfaces because we have chosen to be present in the center of family life.  Christians have been persecuted since the beginning of time.  As Americans, we know how central the Faith is to our way of life.  There are others who do not want the American way of life to succeed and will try, at every turn, to destroy it.  Our children need to become warriors for the Lord.  Our country needs it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Eileen is Grateful

I'm glad I have the opportunity to participate in A Thankful Woman's Book of Blessings this week.  I really don't have as much time to blog as I would like.  If there is anything on my blog, I want it to include the things I am thankful for in my life.  It helps me to keep my chin up...even in the midst of suffering or confusion.  For example, you will note that some of us are experiencing some health difficulties this week.  This can really be depressing.  Acknowledging the hardship, asking for prayers, and trying to persevere through the difficulties by trying to realize we've made progress, however small, gives hope for the future.  Here is my list of things I am thankful for this past week:

1)  I thought my son would not need surgery for his broken collar bone.  Upon returning to the Orthopedic, he realized it was not healing properly.  Therefore, my son came home from college to have the surgery.  I was worried about him returning to school with his arm in a sling.  I called him to see how he was doing and I had nothing to fear after all.  For this I am truly grateful.  He only has one arm that is fully functional.

2)  I am grateful for the huge Catholic swim meet at Villanova my daughter was able to participate in this past weekend.  She also qualified to be in two more individual events at an upcoming meet this coming weekend.  The girls really have a good time at this event.

3)  I am thankful that I was able to attend the parent interview this morning for my younger daughter to be accepted to Catholic high school.  The admissions director used to homeschool too.  She confirmed that religion is central to the mission of the school.  This is music to my ears!

4)  It has been so good for my five year old to do his work ever since I've created a checklist for him.  He has become much better at completed his daily work ever since.  This is his checklist:

     1.  Prayer
     2.  Journal
     3.  Math
     4.  Phonics
     5.  Reading
     6.  Science
     7.  Map Skills
     8.  History

5)  I'm grateful that my oldest son told me he was praying for me because I have a bunch of medical procedures to go through to see what is causing my anemia.  I'm also still trying to get rid of the last lingering bits of an awful head cold.  I have symptoms from the iron I'm taking that make it difficult to eat.  Please remember to pray for physical healing for me so that I have more energy to serve my family.  Sometimes I just have to collapse in the middle of the day for a nap.