Friday, July 28, 2017

#7QT: Let's Get Planning--the First Steps

The summer is passing more quickly than I care to admit.  Today, I am actually at an IHM conference.  If any of you plan on stopping by, please find me and say hello. Linking up with Kelly who I wish were going to be at the conference, too!  We need to find another conference to meet up at, Kelly!

Wherever you are in your homeschooling journey there are always those nagging questions and worries.  Admit it!  I have them, too.  I wanted to write this post to give you a little boost as you plan, particularly if you are a new homeschooler or still discerning.

Homeschooling is a year by year commitment.  Although I never stop planning and often think ahead to get the whole picture, I never commit to more than one year.  If you begin homeschooling kindergarten, you will invariably be met with numerous people asking you how you expect to teach Algebra, Calculus, and Chemistry.

The answer is simple, you don't, because what kind of a kindergarten curriculum would that be?  

Referring back to number 1, homeschooling does not mean that you have to be the only teacher your child ever has for every subject.  I don't know a single homeschooler who operates that way. Your child will encounter other teachers/adult leaders in activities, camps, enrichment classes, and co-ops.  Do not feel that you must take it all on.

Likewise, do not be afraid to outsource teaching when you need to and it would serve your family better.  There is a bevy of resources out there including courses on the Internet, recorded on DVD or CD, and through your local library or homeschool co-op.  Do what works for you and your students.

Make sure to build a community. Homeschooling never means having to go it alone!  This is much easier now with Facebook groups.  When I began homeschooling, having an email loop was a novel idea.  Finding those email loops to find your community was very hard.

Having a local community is optimum, but not always possible.  If you don't know anyone who homeschools, find like minded parents online and start asking questions. Share your frustrations and triumphs, believe me, your struggles are not as unique as you think.  None of us have super powers, we are all just moms doing the best we can.  Seek the support you need!  If you want some guidance, email me and I can point you to some very good groups that have helped in the past. and continue to help me in this journey.

Socialization is always the number one concern of every naysayer you will meet.  The irony is that these same people want traditionally schooled children to have less downtime and shorter recess, so how are they socializing?

Anyway, socialization is very important, I will not lie.  You need socialization, and so do your children. However, school is not the only way to achieve this, in fact it is probably the worse way to do so.  As you build your community, you will find homeschool friends and opportunities to get out and be with others.  Please understand that unless you are locking your family into a bomb shelter and never seeing the light of day, you are socializing.  Even if you were to be locked underground for decades, it would not be ideal, but your children would have each other to play and converse.  Siblings and parents are a part of social networks, and that is a good thing!

You do not need a very fancy, very expensive boxed curriculum to homeschool.  If that is what you want, have at it by all means, but don't cave to pressure.  You can do this without experts picking every book for you.  Even if you chose to use a box curriculum, feel free to change it up for a subject or two.  Homeschooling puts you in charge.  The flip side to not having to teach every class is that homeschooling means you make the decisions for your child.  History too boring? Try something different.  Math book not working?  Try something different.

Also, do not be afraid to just follow your gut and make courses up yourself--or steal some of mine!  Call it unschooling, call it fun-schooling, call it whatever you want.  Take a semester or a year and discover what your family needs and what you want to give them. I promise you, their lives will not be ruined and they will still learn something.

As a piggy back to number 5, never be afraid to give up on a program that isn't working.  Perhaps it is December and you realize this super-amazing-must-have-everyone-loves curriculum just isn't working for your family.  You didn't fail, you just are choosing a different path.

Do your homework,  research, and review; but ultimately the proof is in the pudding.  Do not bang your head against the wall lamenting that you can't make it work like the reviews said, or feeling defeated because a blogger has lovely pictures and all her children are smiling.  I assure you that bloggers are not experts and those pictures are only a snapshot in time. Every homeschool family has struggles and is working so very hard.

The real expert is you!  You are the expert in your children and in your family needs. You can do this!

Write down your plans and formulate a "Why" for your homeschool. You will need a solid reason when the days get long and the dreariness of winter sets in.  Even unschoolers need a bit of a road map.  Having plans written down is not a binding contract but it will go a long way in getting you to where you want to be.

I really struggle with daily lesson plans, however as the children are getting older, I realize that I need them.  I will be doing a post about planning very soon. Particularly planning when you cannot afford the fancy, pricey planners.

Is there anything you would add?  Any questions you have?  Drop me a line, any time! God bless.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Beauty Tuesday: A Faithful Community

It's Tuesday, please link up below and link back to this post!

As I sat at our Catholic homeschool group's annual pool party, this post from a couple of years ago kept running through my mind.  I have been striving to respond to the prompts of the Holy Spirit more readily and decided to share this, again, today.  I have been so blessed by our community, but I am most indebted to Our LORD because without Him I am and have nothing!

Thank you, dear Christ, that I have you to worship and praise!

Before our current parish, we belonged to a small, traditional, country parish.  The priest was very devote and devoted, and known for well developed, lengthy, serious homilies.  His homilies contained a good deal of catechism but we're sprinkled with stories to drive the point home.  Decades later, there are stories that my husband and I still repeat and reference.

One, particularly amusing story went like this. (Imagine if you will the following delivered in a strong Polish accent.) There was a man who went to church every Sunday, and then one Sunday he didn't come.  After three Sundays, his priest was concerned and decided to pay him a visit.  The man lived in a big house on the hill over looking the village.  It was dark, cold, and windy when the priest walked up to the house. He knocked on the door and the man opened it and welcomed the priest into his living room where there was a large, warm fire blazing. The man sat down in his armchair and started talking, "I know why you are here, Father. I just don't see why I need to go to Mass.  Sunday is a day of rest, I say my prayers, I read my bible, why do I need to walk all the way to church to worship God?"

The priest said nothing, he turned and picked up the fireplace tongs and took a bright ember from the fire and placed it on the hearth. The ember glowed bright and seemed to grow in size, then it swiftly faded to grey and was just cold ash.  The priest, then picked up his hat and coat and began to leave. As the man showed him out, he said, " Thank you for the firery sermon, Father.  I will see you on Sunday."

 The priest simply smiled and walked back to the Church.

The point is, without a community, worship begins to die out.  You may begin all afire but just as swiftly begin to cool.  Jesus promised that where two or more are gathered in his name, there He also will be.  He realized that we needed support and each other to stay the course and attain deeper worship.  Our present parish has a church "motto" if you will, the begins with the phrase, "a community of believers."

That is our aim, to not be solely a collection of church attendees but a community, a family.  Apart from fellow believers, it is difficult to maintain focus on the narrow path, to keep going when the going is tough.  It is not to say that we go to church for the people, but we go for the collective worship.  We each have a part in the worship, no matter what our role in the Church, if any, is. Our collective prayers are joined to those of the angels to form the highest of all prayers, the Mass.  Even if we were unable to have the Eucharist present, Jesus would be there because we are gathered in His name.

However, we tread a fine line in building community and losing our sacred purpose. While we are a family, our primary purpose of attending Mass is giving glory to God and receiving grace from the Eucharistic sacrament.  Our sight is to be on the LORD, not each other.  It is a joy to have such dear friends through our parish, but social circles are not the aim of Sunday obligation. Our first obligation is to God.  We must remember this and strive to point others toward God that together we may grow in faith.  So please, remember that Church is God's house, come and leave quietly and reverently. Dress in a way befitting of meeting the King of Kings intimately in the sacrifice of the Mass, so as not to draw attention away from our heavenward advance.  Seek to not just get at the Mass but to give your whole self to Him who has given you all, not even sparing His only Son.

Let us be a community of believers striving evermore for holiness and grace.  In little ways, with great love, we can revitalize our churches, but it is not found in greater comfort or ease nor more socialization. It is found in a deeper, collective purpose to worship and exalt He who is above all, the Great I AM, our beginning and end.  For why did God make us? God made us to know,  love and serve Him, to show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in Heaven. (Baltimore Catechism) Let us show forth His goodness to every member of our worshiping community by coming together for the sole purpose of lifting high the cross and bowing down to our Loving Savior who from all good things come.  God bless you!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#7QT-A Shop for Veils and Vocations

Did you miss Beauty Tuesday?  If so be sure to check it out!

I'm linking up with Kelly again this week--Hi, Kelly!

Anyone who blogs knows that all those ads for getting rich off of blogging are akin to signing your child up for little league at 3 because baseball will make you rich. Can it happen?  Yes.  Does it happen every time?  No way, and there are far more who just enjoy playing the game than will ever make a single dollar doing so.

So, I have been looking for a way to help support this blog and my family while still staying true to my mission.

As you may know, I have had an etsy shop for quite awhile but it has only been active on and off.  I never had a good business plan or a clear direction. I knew what I wanted but hadn't figured out how to get there or what it would look like.

Well, that has changed!  My shop is now fully stocked, with more items on their way this weekend. I am partnering with some amazing Catholic crafters to create the shop I have always dreamed of having.

What does this have to do with the blog?  Well, I don't want the blog to become a billboard for the store.  My reason for blogging is not to earn profit. However, my vision for my blog is a treasure trove of resources for Catholic moms just like me.  Am I there yet? No, but I am on a mission from God to provide those as best I can.

Enter my shop.  It dovetails so nicely with my blog because I offer veils and vocation dolls.  My plan is to expand the shop to provide items I would most like for my family at prices that make them accessible to every Catholic home.

All of the products are high quality.  I am to make my customers happy. I know as a mom how much work it is to provide for a family and how tight money can be.  When I purchase something, I want it for be something that will last and be well used.

This shop and Beauty Tuesday are my way of spreading light, beauty, truth, goodness, and joy.  I hope that you will become a fan even if you can't buy anything from the shop.  I am an expert window shopper, window shoppers are always welcome in my store!

I am going to highlight different products each Thursday over the next few months.  We have some amazing deals planned and many more products in the works. 

Do you own a book shop or parish store?  Do you have a Catholic shop that you frequent?  We are looking for wholesale outlets and are open to group, bulk orders.  Maybe get a group of friends together and order new veils.  You will get quality veils and a discount, and my family will receive the extra financial support we need right now.

Can't buy anything?  No problem--I understand more than you know!  Like us on Facebook and have a chance to enter one of our giveaways!

Is there a product you wish you could find? Please comment below. I really want this shop to be a service to the Catholic community.

Thank you for reading my little press release.  I hope you don't mind.  It is very hard for me to pursue self promotion, but I wanted to let all of you know what is new and different.

Please come back Tuesday for more Beauty Tuesday and next Friday I will have a new Let's Get Planning post! Thank you and God bless!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beauty Tuesday: The Pattern of God

It is Beauty Tuesday, again, please link up below and remember to link back to this post.

A number of years ago, I took a Bible Study class on the ancient Tabernacle of the Israelite.  It was fascinating to realize how much care and preparation went into this traveling house of God.  What has stuck with me the most, though, is how the Tabernacle mirrored Heaven.  It was not just a random plan.  The LORD was not just being persnickety in asking for precise adherence to His Plans.  His Plans already exist and He was merely giving the human world a glimpse of the splendor of his kingdom.

Form, posture, and constrains of pattern matter.  Our entire world is modeled on the patterns of God because His fingerprints remain in His Creation.

All the Earth adores His name, and in time all will bow before Him.  Until that time, our liturgy is how we learn of Heaven.  Like the Tabernacle, the liturgy is divinely inspired. It has been handed down over the ages to instruct and lead those who prayerfully attend in the ways of God.

Liturgy is beautiful not because of what man add to it, but because it is a gift from God, a royal celebration.  Preserving and reverencing this pattern of worship is vital to the propagation of the faith and the evangelization of the people.

We now have two forms of the Mass, and I am not going to debate which is more valid.  The Vatican has deemed each licit and that is what I am accepting as true at this time.  However, there is still a pattern to the Novo Order, it is not a license to remake the pattern of God in man's image.  We must take pains to keep Christ the center of our liturgy and stay true to the ordained method of worship.  It, like the Tabernacle, was not created by happenstance.  The liturgy has purpose and function.  It is solemn and reverent because we are sitting at the feet of Our LORD and Savior.  Through the Mass we are welcomed into the threshold of Heaven where we are free to worship with the angels and saints.

The unity and universal nature of our Church is why we are called Catholic.  That is our true strength, not the individuals but the Church as a whole being the Hands and Feet of Jesus in the world.  Next time you assist at Mass, let you mind travel upward to the highest of Heavens, the to Holy, Holy, Holy.  Remember that this is our sabbath, this is our feast of the Lamb.  We must ever raise our hearts to Him and bow our heads in awe and wonder.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Let's Get Planning: School Year Goals

Linking up with Kelly on a dark and rainy Friday.

It's time to start planning, not that I ever really stop.  I have most of my curriculum picked out and will be posting it soon.  I thought I would just outline some goals because it helps me, too.

The kids are growing SO quickly!  It hit me hard a couple of months ago when I realized that Cowgirl only has 4-5 years left of schooling.  I feel like I have mountains of material we still need to cover.  More than that, though, is the realization that time is slipping away and we are too busy to even take advantage of it.  So, goal one is to be more present and take time to do the type of things that build memories not just complete checks on the to do list.  I'm still working on what this will look like but I want a weekly time to just have fun as a family.

Going along with number one, I am scaling back my planning and taking the less is more approach.  I really overplanned last year and fell flat with pregnancy, and a new colicky baby.  We are catching up on some things this summer but my second goal is more realistic goals.

We have been taking family walks a few times a week and it has been so nice.  I hope to continue this as long as the weather allows then find another way to exercise as a family through the winter.

To get all this done and not just push it off, I need to come up with a schedule and stick to it.  We have always had a rough schedule but need a more rigid and detailed one now.  We need to set a time for everything so it gets accomplished. Also, with a business and a part-time work from home job, I need a work schedule so I accomplish my tasks but also so that my work doesn't take over the day.

To help with balance, we are going to be using bullet journals each day to keep up with what has to get done. As the children are getting older, yearly plans aren't enough to keep us on task.  The organization will do us good, too.

Lastly, I have decided that on top of doing meal planning for dinner, I am planning for breakfast and lunch.  We spent entirely too much time figuring out what to serve each meal.  To fit in all the above, we need to reclaim the aimless minutes of choosing what to eat.  It will also ensure we are eating more balanced meals.

How is your planning going?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Beauty Tuesday: The Bride of Christ

Please link up below and remember to link back to this post.  I decided to republish this oldie but goodie. Originally published May 23, 2014.

So many times we hear, "the Church doesn't like women," or worse, "God doesn't like women."  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For a few years, I led a Little Flower Girls Club group at my church.  It was something that the girls enjoyed and I felt passionate about, but it became increasingly difficult to get solid commitments from families with the pulls of so many other activities and sports.  Anyway, organizing the meetings required me to study not only the virtue of the month but Catechism and scripture to support it.  I believe I actually learned more than the girls I was teaching.

In my studying, I found an explanation of why women can't be priests that blew me away. It wasn't because of oppression, it wasn't chauvinist ideas, it was a solid truth that actually elevates women, not degrades them.  (Forgive me for not remembering the source, if anyone recognizes this and knows the source, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.) The core of the argument went like this, priests are married to the Church, they are the caretakers and guardians of Christ's bride.  They are the Church's earthly husbands, while Christ is ever the head of it all. However, women religious are--get ready--the brides of Christ.  Let that sink in, THE BRIDES OF CHRIST.  Is there anything better than that?  They are wedded directly to the Lord of lords and King of kings.

However, it is not just consecrated women that are special, all women are special.  Women have the hidden beauty of cooperating with God in His plan of creation.  They come as close as possible to being the very Hand of God.  When a woman conceives in her womb by God's grace, her body not only lends itself to the Will of God, but also works to construct what God has deemed to be created.  Women are a miracle of God's love.  Think about it, Adam was created from dirt, Eve from his rib.  God could have chosen any means possible to introduce new humans into His creation--stork deliveries, cabbage patches, anything!  We think that the tales of storks gliding down from heaven with a blanket sling that hold a precious baby to be left on someone's front porch is ridiculous child's play, of course that isn't how it happens. Think, though, about our all powerful, all capable, all knowing God who is able to speak, simply speak, anything and everything into being.  Yet, He chose a mere mortal to be His source of continued creation. It is through a woman that the world was first occupied and subdued, and it is through a woman that the Savior, the Son of the Living God came to redeem us all.

Mary was the first tabernacle, a living tabernacle.  She cradled in her body the Redeemer of all mankind, the prophesy of ages, the Alpha and Omega, the incarnate Word of God.  Can you imagine that?  Can you imagine the thoughts that raced through her head as her abdomen grew and she felt tiny feet kick her ribs.  Can you even imagine? While priests are anointed to consecrate the hosts and are placed as guardians of the tabernacle; a woman WAS the tabernacle.

We must always be mindful of how God loves women and reveres them.  As the hymn goes, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed in turn all women, too." (Hail Mary, Gentle Woman by Carey Landry) Our daughters and Goddaughters must know also how loved they are by God and how special they are in His Plan.  In upcoming posts, I will explore more deeply how to teach our girls their beauty and purpose in the Church and in Creation.

Does anyone have any other gems of wisdom that they have shared with women or girls about their beauty in the Faith?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Beauty Tuesday: America the Beautiful

Happy 4th of July!  I have to apologize for totally forgetting last week.  I have to admit that I considered just ending this blog this week. I am juggling quite a bit and feeling like something has to give.  However, I don't think God is done with this blog yet, and when 3 more people decided to "like" my page on Facebook, I took that as a sign to press on.

My post is short this week.  I know that there is much controversy in our land and across the globe.  I know that America s not perfect, nor has it ever been.  We have made mistakes, some very large and tragic.  However, there is still so much  beauty to sing of.

This is a fallen world.  We are all sinners, me especially.  I am not going to try to point fingers, inflict blame, or act in self-righteousness.  I am just as guilty as the next person and know I have not always held up my end of the bargain to make America great and serve my fellow man.

Yet, I have such love for my country, and I believe wholeheartedly in our founding principles. Our founding fathers were sinners as well, many of them brilliant, but sinners all the same.  In their brokenness they sought to build a land founded on God's principles.  In their failings, they strove to succeed.  They envisioned the best and gave their lives to see it through.

Yes, America is not perfect, only Heaven is. America is beautiful, though.  We have beautiful lands, vista, plains, and bodies of water.  We have beautiful citizens who do love others, and live by the golden rule.  We have a beautiful history, too.  We must stop short changing ourselves with self deprecation.  Our future can be beautiful, too, if we just focus more on what can bring us together and less on what could tear us apart.

God bless, America!

Please link up below and remember to link back to this post.  Thanks.