Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The End of a Chapter

I am moving my blog to a new location. This one will remain as a chronicle of my past few chapters.

I hope you decide to visit!

Running Towards Him

Saturday, July 11, 2009

We have visitors!

Again I am very behind in my blogging... Too busy living I suppose. I promise to catch you all up on the things around our home, but I wanted to be sure to take a moment and share a few pictures of some beautiful visitors enjoying our entirely-way-to-overgrown backyard.

We have the blessing of a family of Peregrine Falcons in our neighborhood and they seem to love our old birdbath!

These are an adult and a baby only a few weeks old. It has been incredible experience watching them!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Catching up, blog style

Sometimes I get so far behind that I get overwhelmed with what must be done. Okay, I lied. Not just sometimes, A LOT of times this happens to me. This month has been filled with many wonderful things and each is deserving of its own post, but for the sake of sanity, I will combine them into one.

Foo Turns 14!

It is hard to believe that my first-born son has hit the milestone of 14. He towers over his father and I in height now. His voice is the deepest in the home. I love to watch him grow into the young man that he is and look forward with great anticipation at what life has in store for him. Happy belated birthday, son!

This month has also been busy with other various celebrations. The wonderful parish that we belong to took time to honor the graduating seniors. They had a splendid dinner and a night of reflection and sharing that the teens were able to take part in. I don't believe there were many dry eyes by the end of the night.

These are some of the seniors that Bean has had the blessing of sharing her highschool years with.

Foo and Lem also had a night of appreciation as our parish honored the altar servers. It is a beautiful Mass in which the altar servers, ALL of them, probably over 100 of them, are escorted and honored by our Knights of Columbus.

The "ceremony" in which this Mass begins really does help to set the tone for the reverence that is due to the Mass and the emotion of watching my children and those young people that serve at the table of the Lord have a moment of recognition is one of the most memorable events of the year. Of course all of this is taken in stride by Fish who wanted to know why the PIRATES were at Mass!! I love that I still have the blessing of Fishims!!

After the Mass, I walked outside for a bit before dinner and came upon a memorial garden that had recently been created for 3 sweet baby boys, one of whom has the same name of one of my sons. I had to take a few moments to take it all in. The solemnity of the Mass. The beauty of Our Lord. The sorrow of a mother and father who have lost their dear children. The joy that I have in watching mine grown. The wonder of why. The feeling of gratitude and yet unworthiness.

On Mother's Day, we had the wonderful privilege of watching Fish receive his First Communion. Because of the Swine Flu, our diocese has instituted precautionary measures which include not offering the Cup during Holy Communion.

However, on this occasion, Fr. George not only invited Fish up to the altar to receive the Body of Christ, he also offered him the Chalice to receive the Blood of Christ! It was quite a moving experience and I cried through the entire thing. I couldn't help but feel the presence of my own mother with us, and that coupled with the presence of our Lord, the Holy Spirit, and all the Saints, really took me over.

One extra special surprise was the visit of a dear friend who moved away a few years ago. It was so wonderful to have Amanda join us!

In true Fish-fashion, when I asked him to bring down his clothes to be ironed for Mass, this is how his shirt arrived. It had been hanging in the closet just as you see it here...

We still have a few celebrations before the end of the month. Graduation, 18th birthday, Grandfather's birthday and Grandparent's anniversary! Then, before the end of the summer, we will be saying good-bye to Bean as she heads off to college! What a wonderful plan He has laid out for us!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

God is Moving Me

Another layer of my spiritual onion is peeling away... painful, but knowing that His hand is in this makes it worth the journey.

I will post more once I can make a bit more sense of it all.

For now, I will post these lyrics to Matthew West's song, The Motions.

This might hurt
It’s not safe
But I know that I’ve gotta make a change
I don’t care
If I break
At least I’ll be feeling something
‘Cause just ok
Is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don’t wanna go through the motions
I don’t wanna go one more day
Without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don’t wanna spend my whole life asking
What if I had given everything?
Instead of going through the motions

No regrets
Not this time
I’m gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love
Make me whole
I think I’m finally feeling something

Take me all the way
Take me all the way
Take me all the way

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

I've been in a bit of a funk the last few days. Nothing major, but just an internal churning that usually signals to me that my spiritual life is not as it should be.

I am always embarrassed to look back over my thoughts and behaviors and see how ridiculously selfish I can become.

On the outside, it manifests itself as me appearing extremely frustrated and stressed out. If only I could recognize immediately what is going on and fall to my knees, beg for His forgiveness and then count every blessing I have.

No. I have to do it the hard way. I have to hurt the ones closest to me, or at least make them uneasy which is not fair to them. Thankfully, gratefully, they seem to still like me and put up with me. Another true blessing.

I see that it is time to pull out some St. Francis de Sales and get back to the business of striving for holiness. I pray that when I reach those personal points from which my root sin stems, that I can look to the cross, embrace it, and carry mine with a much more pleasant affect.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Divine Mercy Novena - Day Nine

"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Divine Mercy Novena - Day Eight

"Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice."

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Divine Mercy Novena - Day Seven

Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy*, and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

*The text leads one to conclude that in the first prayer directed to Jesus, Who is the Redeemer, it is "victim" souls and contemplatives that are being prayed for; those persons, that is, that voluntarily offered themselves to God for the salvation of their neighbor (see Col 1:24; 2 Cor 4:12). This explains their close union with the Savior and the extraordinary efficacy that their invisible activity has for others. In the second prayer, directed to the Father from whom comes "every worthwhile gift and every genuine benefit,"we recommend the "active" souls, who promote devotion to The Divine Mercy and exercise with it all the other works that lend themselves to the spiritual and material uplifting of their brethren.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Divine Mercy Novena - Day Six

Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children,
and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter 2009

We were so blessed with a beautiful Easter this year. The weather was a bit questionable as we made our way to church in the pouring rain. We were quite certain that our plans of an outdoor egg hunt for the little ones was a wash and I was wracking my brain trying to figure out a way to hide eggs for 11 children in my home!

As we sat in church waiting for Mass to begin, the rain stopped, the sun began to shine and the church filled with a glorious light as the rays shone through the stained glass windows. Truly a moment to be savored.

As the Entrance Alleluia was sung, I immediately began to cry. It was so moving to hear the Alleluia which has been left out of our Mass since Ash Wednesday. I felt my mother's presence through out the entire Mass, with every song that was sung. She would have loved it all.

Even Mark mentioned that the last time it rained on Easter was the last Easter that she had at her place in the country. The whole family went out there and she loved every moment of the day. I remember that last time. It was raining, yet it seemed to stop just long enough for us to hold the egg hunt, only to start raining again soon after we were through. I remember being outside with the children and looking at her as she watched from her window. She was too weak to join us outside, but she was still enjoying watching the fun from where she was. I also remember hearing a voice, or having the thought, "this will be the last year she will be able to be here."

That proved to be true. The next Easter was the last day I saw her. The next day she passed into the arms of her Lord, and she never looked more beautiful.

I am so grateful to have the memories that I have of the last few moments of her life. It is a testimony to me to live each day to the fullest, to love always, to forgive easily, and to never be afraid to be hurt.

Divne Mercy Novena - Day Five

"Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church*,
and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion."

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord's original words here were "heretics and schismatics," since He spoke to Saint Faustina within the context of her times. As of the Second Vatican Council, Church authorities have seen fit not to use those designations in accordance with the explanation given in the Council's Decree on Ecumenism (n.3). Every pope since the Council has reaffirmed that usage. Saint Faustina herself, her heart always in harmony with the mind of the Church, most certainly would have agreed. When at one time, because of the decisions of her superiors and father confessor, she was not able to execute Our Lord's inspirations and orders, she declared: "I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus " I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me" (497). The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Divne Mercy Novena - Day Four

"Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me, I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord's original words here were "the pagans." Since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, the Church has seen fit to replace this term with clearer and more appropriate terminology.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Resurrection of The Lord - Divine Mercy - Day Three

Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness.

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Divne Mercy Novena - Day Two

"Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious, and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service,* that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard -- upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

* In the original text, Saint Faustina uses the pronoun "us" since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

I am not able to make the service at Church today, for this I am sad, however, taking the quiet time at home has given me some time for quiet reflection in which I can venerate the Cross and all that it stands for in a special way this year.

I love the liturgy of Good Friday, but I will admit, I get caught up the in pageantry of it all. The smell of the incense, the visual beauty of watching the clergy and altar servers coming forward to the altar and prostrating themselves before the cross of Our Lord, the moving music. I can see it all in my mind, and yet, this year, I feel an even stronger desire to reflect at home.

4 years ago on Good Friday, I looked on as a very compassionate priest came to my mother's bedside and administered the rights of the dying to her. She was at such peace, as was I. I knew what was to come, yet there was no sadness. How could there be? As I watched her enter into her final steps from this life to her eternal one?

I miss her very much, still. I suppose I always will. She is with me because I carry her memory where ever I go. I keep her close to me as I face life's struggles. They are nothing in comparison to the physical struggles she endured just to stay with us one more day.

And then there is Christ. Crucifixion alone is said be one of the most painful paths to death, yet he took it. But that is not all he took. He took upon himself the very sins that I commit this day and every day yet to come. The weight of my sin on my soul is sometimes more than I can bear, yet, He was able to take all of mine, all of the world's sin, then be crucified. I know that His Divine nature allowed Him to be able to do this. Would I be so willing to do the same for Him, or for anyone else? I daily ask God to let certain cups pass me by. Occasionally, I will recall that Jesus also said, "if it be YOUR will". I need to recall that more often.

Instead of looking upon the challenges of life as burdensome, I am now beginning to understand the weight of my own cross and the joy that I can find in carrying it for Him and with Him.

As we here His final words, "It is finished", let us remember that Christ was not speaking of His own death, but rather, that the Will of God has been completed, and it was done so perfectly and out of Love for each one of us.

Entering the Triduum and Beginnng the Divine Mercy Novena

Today we remember the Crucifixion of Our Lord. There never has been a greater sacrifice made as the one made by Christ for each one of us. How appropriate that we are asked to also participate in the Novena to the Divine Mercy.

May you each have a Blessed and Holy Triduum.

Divine Mercy Novena - First Day


Jesus asked that this Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena of Chaplets to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. Say one chaplet each day following the novena intention. In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:

"On each day of the novena you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls. By this novena I will grant every possible grace to souls." (Diary 1209, 796)
"Today bring to Me All Mankind, especially all sinners and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges me."

"Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lenten Reflection

This Lenten season has been a very interesting one for me both personally and professionally.

Our business, like most everyone else's has felt the effects of a down-trodden economy. At first, we believed that things would turn around fairly soon. Now we know, we are in this for the long haul, and we must keep the faith that every thing is going to be ok. It may not look like what we started with, but in the end, I believe that we will end up exactly where we are supposed to be.

Personally, I have done fairly well with keeping my Lenten sacrifices. As I do every year, I have also made Lenten promises. These promises are things that I try to implement into my daily life to bring me into a closer relationship with Christ. Usually, I pick something that is most often something that I fail at, so I decided to try to keep things much simpler this year, choosing to focus on my interpersonal relationships with the ones I love, praying that in turn, this will ultimately draw me closer to Him.

I can tell you all, it has. I have learned more about myself this Lenten season than I have in a very long time. I have been able to identify some of my root sins that cause me to commit the same venial sins over and over again. I can't tell you how many times I have avoided going to confession because I figured it would be just the same ol' same ol' and nothing would change for me.

I don't like what I see at the root of my sin. Thank goodness! Imagine if I DID like what I saw? I am willing to make the change, one small step at a time, and I know that I must invite Christ to take each step with me, as this, my friends, is not a journey for me alone.

The practice of a simple virtue to combat the corresponding sin seems easy enough, but I assure you, if you are dealing with a root sin, it is not. It is one thing to give up sweets, or soda, or something else outside of myself, but attempting to change something at the very core of my personality, well that in itself is a totally different matter indeed.

While I look forward to Easter, I do not embrace the end of my Lenten journey. I am one of those people that needs the constant reminder of the season of repentance to continue to strive to pull away those things which keep me from God.

This is probably why I do love Mercy Sunday so much. For me, it pulls Holy Week and Easter to a whole new level of spirituality. I am not trying to infer that Divine Mercy Sunday is more important than Easter, however, I am saying that knowing that God, in His infinite love, gives us His only Son to redeem us, and then He, in His infinite wisdom, also knows that we are a people of weakness, and therefore, gives us Divine Mercy Sunday to show us that His Mercy reigns always!

A tradition in my family growing up was to purchase new clothes on Easter and participate in the Easter parade, which was not really a parade at all, but just friends and neighbors in the community walking up and down a main street in our town, showing off our new clothes. It was supposed to be a reflection of our spiritual change that had occurred during Lent.

This year, I will not buy new clothes, as I want to break from the tradition of "appearing" to have changed, but rather, I will, with His grace, wear something I already own, but don it as a new person in Christ. A new person from within.

As we enter into this last few days of Lent, I pray that each of you arises on Easter morning a changed being. Not on the outside, but where it counts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Latest Fishism

This morning, Fish and I were watching a bit of the news when a clip came on touting...

"This woman is being forced to clean houses to survive... Another victim of the Madoff scam!"

Don't get me wrong... Bernie Madoff has done some very bad things and has hurt lots of people with his actions. He should spend the rest of his life in jail, and in my opinion, he should perform lots of hard labor in the most unglamorous of jobs to pay for his stay in the prision system, but frankly, as Americans, we need to stop playing the role of perpetual victim and get up, dust ourselves off, and persevere!

Fish heard this news clip and said... "Is her house that dirty?" I asked what he meant by that and he replied, "Well, she has to clean it to survive!"

When I explained what the clip was intending to say, he ended the conversation with...


I can't tell you how hard I laughed, yet at the same time, his viewpoint is dead-on...

I mean is cleaning houses really that horrible? Yes, she was scammed, and yes, it is unfortunate that she must return to work after planning to have a nice retired life, but things could be so much worse, couldn't they?

Sure, I'd be angry as heck if this happened to me, so I suppose it's easy for me to sit back and say these things, but I think about all of the women that have worked as cleaning ladies, waitresses, store clerks, among other things, to make a better life for their children and grandchildren.

Let's get past the drama, roll up our sleeves, take our country back, and act like the Americans our forefathers hoped we would be!

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Flu

Nothing has captured what the flu has looked like in our home quite like this shot of Foo

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Catechism, Fish-style

Fish and I are reviewing some of the material for his Sacramental Preparation class tomorrow, and while it is sometimes quite mind-numbing trying to grab this boy's attention, I must say, he certainly knows how to get mine with some wonderful one-line zingers!

We were discussing the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist and what those words mean. Eucharist means "to give thanks" and we discussed at great length (ok, for about 3 minutes) how we can show God our thanks.

We brought up the idea that we can thank God in our quiet times with Him. I asked Fish if he ever talks to God. He replied, " Yep, at night when I am trying to go to sleep!" I then asked him what kinds of things he talks about with God.

He replied, "Well... we just play Rock, Paper, Scissors"...

I said, "WHAT?! Ok, Fish, so who wins?" To which his answer was, "Uh, mom? He does! Remember, He knows my thoughts, so He already knows what I am going to do, so He always wins!"

Later in the conversation, he said "Mom, God is tough!" I inquired as to why he would say that and he replied, "Well, He ALWAYS beats the Devil!"

Finally, we completed our lesson with the writing of a prayer to be said after meals.

Here is Fish's prayer... just when I thought nothing was getting in there...

Thank you God for our family. Thank you God for our lives and all of our blessings. Help us to always remember to share our blessings with others. Help all of our family to go safely to Heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

As Lent Begins

Another season of Lent has arrived and I find myself not ready for it. I am currently sick as are a number of the children right now. It's hard to feel as though I am fasting or abstaining when I can't eat anything anyway. It's kind of like cheating!

But my mind is what truly needs to be prepared. My heart, my soul need to be aligned with Christ and Lent provides us all the opportunity to do so.

As I ponder the sacrifices that I will make and the virtues that I will try to strengthen, I pray that I can keep my eyes fixed on Him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Tool of Dictation for Younger Children

In my last post regarding Charlotte Mason techniques, I addressed Copywork. In today's post, I'd like to discuss a bit about Dictation and how I have used it in our homeschooling.

Children can begin with copywork very early and most do fairly well with it. Dictation is the next step within the process of CM style of Language Arts. I do not recommend beginning dictation with a child until they are of the age that they can recall a small line of prose or scripture from memory. Also, the child should be able to read at least at a beginning level, in other words, he should be able to read the selection that has been chosen for the copywork and dictation.

I like to use a very simple line of literature or scripture when first beginning this process. Most often, my children will start with a quote from Miss Mason herself;

I am;
I can;
I ought;
I will.

The dictation begins with several days of copywork preceding the actual act of the dictation.

Typically, I introduce the selection by reading it to the student and then go over any words that might be difficult to spell. I also am sure to point out marks of punctuation, if appropriate, I'll instruct in why a specific mark is being used, and I would also point out the layout of the selection. For instance, in the quote above, I would point out:

1. Why the "I" is capitalized,
2. The semicolon and the period and why each one is used.
3. The difficult spelling of ought.
4. The layout of the quote. It is not in one line, but rather 4 lines. This is how it should be copied and memorized.

The student will copy this selection each day for several days. Most often 4 - 5 days, but if he needs longer, that is fine as well. On the last day, instead of copying the piece, I will dictate it to him.

Dictation is done in the following manner. The student reviews the selection one last time being sure to commit to memory spellings, punctuation, and the layout of the selection.

When he is ready, I give him a blank piece of paper and a freshly sharpened pencil, complete with an eraser.

I instruct the student that as usual, this dictation needs to be in his best handwriting. Then I begin to slowly read the selection, a small bit at a time, carefully pausing at the marks of punctuation. I only recite each bit one time. If the student misses something, tell him to leave a blank and move forward.

At the end of the selection, I then re-dictate it to the student at a normal pace and he is to fill in any missed information at that time.

Once he feels that he has completed his dictation, I then hand him the original selection of copywork and ask him to find any errors that he has made. When he finishes, I ask him to correct the errors and place the number of errors at the top of the page.

Then I review his dictation and am careful to check for any errors that he may have missed on his own. I always praise the student for doing a wonderful job, if in fact they did. Take every opportunity you can to applaud a difficult word spelled correctly, a mark of punctuation placed appropriately, or the beautiful penmanship that the assignment had been finished in.

What I treasure about dictation is much of what is unseen while performing this activity. Through dictation, we are developing the habit of attention, the skill of memorization, editing, and the art of listening, which is so important for auditory development. We are also incorporating the learning of grammar, spelling, and the skill of beautiful handwriting.

Dictation and copywork are very simple techniques to implement in any home or school. Do not let their simplicity fool you however, as they are extremely powerful in the art of education.

I do want to add that the above technique is what I use for my younger/new to dictation students. I do things slightly different for my older students and will elaborate more on that in another post.

Happy Birthday, My Sweet Lem!

Lem celebrated her 11th birthday recently and had a series of events which commemorated it!

First was a wonderful party with some of her friends. The girls made homemade personal-size pizzas and watched a few of their favorite movies.

On her actual birthday, she was treated to her favorite breakfast, crepes, and then her favorite dinner! She has wonderful tastebuds, so we all were able to enjoy the meals.

On our Family night, Sunday, we celebrated both her birthday and that of her soon-to-be uncle! It's always so much fun to be a part of a big family! Sharing birthdays make them even more special!!

As I watch my youngest baby girl grow into a lovely young woman, I am in awe of her grace and poise. She is one of the nicest people I've ever known, and I see the hand of God upon her each day. She has a very sensitive nature that allows her to feel for others in a deeply moving way. I am excited to watch where life brings her, but I will admit, I do not want to let her go...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Something's Been Missing

It's true. Something HAS been missing around this blog. That would be posts! More specifically, homeschooling-related posts.

I am so blessed to still be homeschooling after 10 years! I have learned so much, and yet still learn more every day. It is an amazing journey, and I pray, one that we can continue until we start on our grand-children.

As most of you know, I love to follow the Charlotte Mason Methodology of education. I implement as much of her philosophies as possible into our school life. Actually, into all of our life. I am not the best at it, but what we do works for us and keeps our learning joyful most of the time.

I also begin to integrate some to the Classical Model as the children get older, typically around 7th or 8th grade. I feel that this really helps us to become better writers and thinkers as they enter the high school age. Without the CM method in the younger years, I have no doubt that the cognitive processes which need to occur before writing can be of any quality.

Another aspect of my life is working with children who have auditory processing difficulties. This translates into the academic world in the form of poor reading/writing/spelling skills. Most of the students that come to me are considered dyslexic or ADD and are doing terribly in school. When I implement the programs that we use to help re-train the brain, I can't help but see how brilliant CM was. One of the key components that CM used was the practice of Copywork/Dictation/Narration.

In today's world, all of us are using more and more visual skills and less and less auditory skills. Computers, tv, movies, iphones, text messaging... it's all visual. The auditory centers of our brains are not be utilized and therefore, often results with their delayed development.

I try to get the parents of my students to understand this. It is so very important to read aloud to the children, let them narrate back to you, and to actually LISTEN to what the child is saying. It is not important that they get each detail correct, but more, that YOU are listening attentively and that he/she is able to verbalize what they are trying to express. This is the surest way to excellent writing skills. One who can not express what they mean to say verbally, will NOT be able to write effectively. I have seen this theory proven time and time again, with my own children as well as the many that I have worked with over the last few years.

I am so passionate about the way our children are educated. When I see what is being asked of our young people in the public school setting, it makes me cringe. Don't get me wrong, I think the educators are trying in earnest to have our students be as well educated as possible, but I believe they are missing a key component. That is the normal cognitive and fine-motor development of a child.

I have seen assignments expected of these students that ask children as young as 5 to write stories. Never mind the spelling, the teachers tell them to just write. The problem with this is that the young mind is impressing upon itself the incorrect spelling of many, many words. This is just one example of the problems I see with the current method being used by many traditional schools. I could cite many more, but the point of this post in not to rip apart schools. Rather, I would like to present a different CM method that I use in my homeschool a small bit at a time.

Today, I would like to discuss Copywork. Please note that the way that I implement these methods may be slightly different than the way that Miss Mason actually practiced them. This is what has worked best for my family over the years. Feel free to comment about what you might do differently and how it works in your home.

Copywork is a wonderful tool for so many different reasons. It is a wonderful way to introduce in a gentle way, punctuation, grammar, spelling, memory skills, handwriting, and exposure to quality literature, biblical verses, and famous essays, quotes, and poems.

In our home, mom, (or dad, as you'll see below), selects a piece for copywork according to age and experience with the Copywork. In our home, we do not begin copywork until the child can comfortably handle a pencil, can form letters well, and is beginning to read. This typically ranges between 6 or 7 years of age. If the child is not ready, and you will know fairly quickly if he or she is NOT ready, (the crying, fitful, episodes of drama are usually a dead give-away), shelf the copywork until a later time.

If the student is ready, the selection should be short at first, one line is best. I usually start with Charlotte Mason's infamous quote, and our school motto,

I am;
I can;
I ought;
I will.

This is a wonderful exposure to punctuation, some tricky spellings, and introduces the high ideal that we as parents hold for our children.

I introduce to student to the selection by reading it aloud to them and then begin pointing out all marks of punctuation, teaching why a particular mark is being used and making sure that the child can recall the name of the mark if it is not new to them.

I also will point out indenting, stanzas, capitalization, new spellings, and other items of interest that may come up.

The child will then copy this phrase, in his very best handwriting, allowing no errors. This means that the teacher must be present as he does his assignment, carefully overseeing the process. If there is a misspelling, it must be corrected immediately. Do not allow the child to impress this error within his mind's eye. If the word is a particularly difficult word and the child continues to misspell it, we practice a visual spelling method of pointing to the letters in the air, spelling it out forwards until he knows where each letter is and then demonstrating true knowledge of the spelling by correctly pointing to each letter in a forward and then backward manner. I will try to post a video on this technique later.

The child will continue with the copywork selection, copying each day for several days, typically in our home 4 - 5 days, eventually moving to a new selection of copywork.

I really like to use Spelling Wisdom from the website Simply Charlotte Mason The selections are graded from beginner to advanced ability. Honestly, you can use any good quality selection you would like. In the past, I have used the poem that they might be working on memorizing at the time, a scripture passage that we are instilling, or even a passage from one of their favorite books.

Keep in mind, CM allowed for short lessons, so for a young child of 7 or so, no more than 5 minutes should be expected. Older students, I would say, no more than 10.

One more thing regarding copywork in our home. With the young/beginning copywork student, the selection is copied onto the same paper that he will be writing on, placing his work directly below the copied lines.

As the student becomes more comfortable with the method, he will transition into copying from a separate typed selection, possibly even directly from the source such as the Bible or the novel itself. This helps with the visual skills necessary for copying from books and chalk boards for eventual note-taking and other needed study skills.

When the child can demonstrate his very best work, be sure to praise him and even place the best copy into a notebook for safe-keeping. I try to put ours into page protectors in what we call their Commonplace Book.

Below are two examples of copywork that were done by our 7 year-old, Fish.

The first was Dad's choice. (I find it humorous to see what Dads pick over what Moms pick!) This was a very early attempt at copywork as you can see that the selection was printed onto the lined paper for him to refer to.

The second example is his first attempt at true copywork, copying from one sheet to his copywork book. This was also the first selection that he was able to transition into dictation with. Dictation will be a topic covered in another post.

Please feel free to comment how this works in your home. I love hearing new ideas and trying them out on my guinea pigs... I mean children!!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My first Blogging Award!

I am the proud recipient of the highly coveted FOMUBA award! It's the first award I've ever received, and probably will be the last...

So take in the precious sight and yes, Envy me... go ahead... envy me!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baby Grace

There has been much in the news recently about that sweet baby girl, Caylee Anthony. She and I shared the same birthday. I don't know how anyone can kill a child, or anybody for that matter, but I will never, ever, ever, understand how a mother can commit this horrible crime against their own child, and a baby at that.

Some of you may remember Baby Grace from 2007. She was found in Galveston Bay, in a plastic container. It took some time to finally identify her as Riley Ann Sawyers, hence she was known as Baby Grace until her grandmother was able to identify her.

Being from the Houston area, we heard night after night about this case. The public could not understand how a young 2 year old could be found in this way, yet never have been reported missing by her mother. Now we know why. The mother and step-father killed her. It was a brutal crime and I really don't think I'll read anymore about it after what I read today.

A slain toddler tried to stop her mother and stepfather from beating her to death by reaching out to her mother and saying, "I love you," a prosecutor told jurors Tuesday. The pleas from 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers didn't stop her mother, Kimberly Trenor, from continuing to brutalize her, assistant district attorney Kayla Allen said in her opening statement at Trenor's murder trial.

You can read the full article here.

I am haunted by the last moments of these little girls lives, looking upon the ones that they trusted and loved more than anything else in the world only to be betrayed in the worst possible way.

This I will never understand.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Maybe I am just not with it, but I don't recall there being on-location type news coverage this soon before any other inauguration.

I didn't vote for the guy, but I will support him as our president and pray for him each and every day. I can't help but think of how ridiculous this all is. I mean, is he becoming president or does this all just speak to his "rock-star" status among his supporters?

What is MSNBC going to do once Bush is back home in Texas?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The End of Christmas 2008

Today we begin the process of packing away the Christmas decor. It makes me so sad, but not because I'm sad to see Christmas go, but because I know that this next year will fly by and things will change. Some for the good, and some things will disappear forever.

I know that by this time next year I probably won't hear...

"Mommy, yook! Chris-chris tree!" "Mommy, yook! Chris-chris yights!" "Mommy, yook! Jesus!"

Boo will probably be potty-trained.

Bean will probably be off to college.

Fish will have made his First Communion.

Foo will have grown even taller and enter into high school. He'll probably be a 3rd degree black belt by then.

Lem will probably not be my cute baby girl, but rather, a beautiful young lady.

The seasons are always changing around here. My New Year's resolution is to try to soak up each moment as it comes and find the beauty in it because it won't last forever.

And while I know that I can somewhat predict what will happen this year, all things are left in His hands for good reason.

Whatever may come this year, I pray that when we unpack for Christmas 2009, we are all able to recall the beautiful memories of the past, embrace the pain that drives us to our knees, and become more like Christ as we journey through this thing called Life.