That's MY boy!!!
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
So, here are the books I got.
My very own copy of John Taylor Gatto's Underground History of American Education!!! (I like rereading sections of it, and there is only ONE copy in all of the Fulton County Library System...a shame!)
Homeschool Your Child For Free. Yes, it is 7 years old and many links are dead, but many are not, and I have already found very cool and fun websites for the kids that would have covered the cost of the book.
How Children Learn by John Holt. I have never had my own copy. Now I do. Yipee!
The Out of Sync Child Has Fun (Activities for Kids with SPD). This has tons of fun ideas for things to do whether your kid has sensory issues or not.
How To Get Your Child To Love Reading and Best Books For Kids Who (think they) Hate To Read. Both of those title should explain what I am going through with Ben and Autumn. I want to find ways to help them to enjoy, and maybe even come to love, reading...without much coercion on my part. So, hopefully, they will be helpful.
Last, I got a book that should prove to be informative, funny and comforting to my pathetic soul
Saints Behaving Badly (The cutthroats, crooks, trollops, con men, and Devil worshippers who became Saints). I figure if they can make....so can I!
I didn't get fiction, because that stuff I don't mind checking out of the library or finding at Goodwill. Non-fiction that I may use over again, I like to own. My next purchase is going to be:
The Unprocessed Child.
So, thank you to my husband and MIL Carmel for my wonderful books!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The following letter came to me via email from one of oldest and best friends, Mig (above). I don't know if she wrote it but it is AWESOME and I wanted to give her the credit. Enjoy!
To All of Our Democrat Family/Friends:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country, nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.
To our Republican and Libertarian Family/Friends:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Monday, December 17, 2007
(BTW, Andrew doesn't really drink. He's not 21 yet. However, he was making fun of all of us at a dinner party we threw over the weekend. He said 'Hey, look this is what happens at a 'Catholic dinner party' and took the picture of me and Sara and the one above us which was a pic all the bottles of wine. Then he had me take the pic of him pretending to drink Tequila through a funnel. Admittedly, our friend John, was making some killer Margaritas! So, when it comes to Christmas parties....Catholics do have more fun!)
Sara and I always have these winding, stream of consiousness, theological, pedagogical and just plain cool conversations. We were talking alot about CONTROL. . She has also blogged about it at her site Those That Wonder. So we were chatting about how, maybe on the surface, some might think that moms like us, who are really into our Catholicism, might be automatically stereotyped as the controlling, authoritarian, structured type of moms. Not me though...nor Sara really either. I really don't believe that my Faith gives me any right to control my kids. I have a *right to raise them*, but *not control them*. I am to do my best to instill our family's faith and values. I try to live my life in a way so that they will come to understand what I (and their father) believe is truly important and worthy of wanting...their Catholic Christian Faith. I want my kids to learn to control themselves. Robert and I have to show them how to do that by the way that we control ourselves. If my kids only control themselves because of external pressure exerted on them from us, or others around them, how are they going to live as adult who can make their own decisions? I want my kids to be able to internalize the way we live and what we believe so that they learn to control themselves from the inside out. So, how does *that* happen?
So far, around here, it happens through lots of conversations some calm (and some not so calm sorry to say) and acting out examples of how one would accomplish things like getting their point across or what they need, even what they might want. It is so true that the expression "Do what I say, not what I do" will not get you far with your kids. They are watching us...THEY ARE WATCHING US! I have to admit that most every crappy, naughty, selfish thing I have seen my kids do or say, they have seen me do first. I think if maybe parents admitted that to themselves things with their kids would get better. So, the way I help my kids THE MOST with interalizing all the virtues so that they can live them is for me to live a virtuous life in front of them more often than I am doing now. And that is hard because I am everybit a sinner as they are...more so because of age.
Ever wonder why Our Blessed Mother appears to kids more than adults? Because they ARE innocent and less sinful than we are. So why are so many of us out there so desperate to CONTROL our kids and make them better? I don't know because so many of us are NOT BETTER with age, maybe more wise and experienced, but sad to say, we are less transparent sinners (like kids are) and more covert, manipulative sinners. Am I suggesting that kids are perfect, or can't benefit from our experience? No! of course not. I am suggesting that controlling their lives may be more sinful than helpful on our parts. Even Jesus told us to "have the faith of a child". Children are very important to God and he doesn't think they are mindless little brats who need to be controlled and coerced to grow up. Instead he tells us to be like little children. Innocent, trusting, curious, loving, open etc...
So, all that being said, I am trying to control my children less (I don't do much controlling of them to the outside world to begin with, so I am sure the thought of even less control by me is frightening to some). I want to guide them more, show them more (with my actions) how to live...and because they have me for a mom...I will be showing them (unfortunately with some of my actions) how NOT to live as well...but hey! then they will see me go off to Confession. So I *can* win for losing.
I know I will come back to this topic. But for now, I am done pondering in print.
I really do think that if I thought we were going to stay in this house, permanently, then I would just shut the doors to their rooms and walk away, but this house is our third in 12 years. I can see us downsizing eventually, so I really do need to encourage the kids to keep their rooms clean and organized several times a year. You know, go in, take stock of stuff, find out what they don't care about, or what is just sitting in a broken heap taking up space. I, by nature, am very "picked up and put away". There is definitely dust that needs to be swept away, and I do need to clean the upstairs toilets, the floors are swept/vaccumed but could use a mopping...what I *really* like is cleared surfaces and no clutter. I am more about neatness and organization than things being sqeaky clean. That's why, even though I am an unschooler, I am not all that great at "strewing the path" for the kids. I don't strew. I hate clutter in my house. I could care less about it in someone elses home, but in mine it actually will trigger depression. Clutter is clostrophobic to me. I don't like small spaces and I can't handle clutter, it makes me feel like I can't breathe.
So the kids' rooms get cluttered, especially Autumn's, but I don't mind because I can shut the door. Mostly she is playing with friends some rich, imaginative game and she needs her room to stay the way she has put it to continue the game the next time. Making her clean it everytime would be tanamount to working on a scarf and a whenever I am done for that day, pulling out all the stitches to start over again. But when Ben has friends over and they pull out every video game while they are gaming...that I ask to be put away before his friends leave. Andrew's is just full of papers, bags, empty candy wrappers/Monster cans...it's is disasterous! Total slovenliness is jus not gonna cut it with me. I can take only so much. However, when he has his own place someday, if he keeps it like a hovel, that will be his business. I am not the mom who would say, "You really need to keep this place picked up!" When it comes to modeling a clean, neat home he couldn't have a better mom, so if being a neatnik isn't in him by now, it will never be.
I will say, though, that the kids really love it when I go to town and clean their rooms. They walk in and go, "Wow!" and suddenly discover new toys/books that they forgot about because they were buried under something. So, in that way it is really satisfying. Plus, it teaches them, without words, that having a place for everything and everything in it's place is actually easier to live in than a cluttered space, because you take so much time looking for where you last put whatever you are trying to fing. My late grammy, G.G., used to tell me when I was a little girl (and I KNOW I got my neatness gene from her) that, "The lazy man works hardest." when it came to housecleaning. And you know what? G.G. was right!
Before I go, I don't want any of you out there ,that may be cluttered moms, to think that I judge you or think less of you. I REALLY DO NOT CARE HOW OTHERS KEEP THEIR HOMES. Everybody has to be comfy in their own spot, so do whatever floats your boat!
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
There is an actual music video (made by Andrew) for a recorded version of this song. I will get Andy to put it on youtube so I can share it. Because of Will's car accident in October (please pray for him) Synthetic Animation is on indefinite hold. Take notice of Andrew's drumming...that is MY boy! Ahhh, he's so cool! Yes, I am a proud Mama!
Monday, December 10, 2007
I hope this TV writers strike will be resolved. I really miss SNL.
Peace & Laughter!
Sunday, December 9, 2007
I live in the Atlanta suburbs. Normally, it is cold now...well cold to Atlantans which is 40 and 50 degrees. It is 75@!#*@!DEGREES outside! I am p*ssed! This kind of weather saps me of all my energy and makes me want to hide in a freezer. It's hot and I'm hot...under the collar! I need to move to Alaska...that is all there is to it!
So many cool things happened earlier , when it was still Dec. 8th. We went to Mass twice, once in the morning for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Mike gave an awesome homily about Our Lady. It made some connections for me regarding Mary that I had not completely made in my mind. The one that most jumped out at me was that the reason Mary was preserved from Original Sin was so she could be "truly free to make the right choice" when Gabriel told her that she would conceive a son. I always thought that since she was without sin (more because she would be the New Ark of the Covenant, this time holding God's word in Flesh) she could only make one choice, the right choice, the choice to say, "Yes" to God. But the way Fr. Mike put it, it was more that being free from sin allowed her the freedom to say yes or no, without external sway. He said that Original Sin (which Adam and Eve committed while without sin...so it was a truly free choice) has put us in a perpetual state of gravitating toward choose the selfish way, the easiest path, the quick lie etc... And that we actually have to think about choosing good...that it doesn't just come naturally. As I sat there listening to Fr. Mike I thought of what I wrote about in a recent post on "true freedom" and it only comes from abiding so completely in God that we are free to do the right thing...even when it's selfless and possibly involves suffering. There were once the two created without sin who chose to sin. And everafter threw mankind violently onto the wrong path away from God. Then there were the two created without sin (the first given that gift by the One she would give to the world) and they chose not to sin. And everafter lovingly guided mankind back to the right path toward God. What symmetry, what SENSE IT ALL MAKES! I was just blown away.
Then later we went to the Vigil Mass (to fulfill our Sunday obligation) and got treated to the Crowning of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We have a large Hispanic community in our parish. One of those parishioners moved her Catholic bookstore into one of the parish's upstairs unused offices. She is Hispanic as well. I can't remember if she is from Mexico or somewhere else in Latin America. Anyway, she felt led to have a crowing of the beautiful statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that our parish acquired about 1 year ago. She remembered reading about how the original statue in Mexico was crowned with a crown which was made using gold filigree which was made by melting together gold that had been donated by the faithful of the region. So, she wanted to do that. However, she didn't know how she would go about asking, or getting Monsignor's approval to ask, the parishioners to donate gold items. So, one day in her shop she was thinking about it and in walked a woman (a woman I know, who is a homeschooler, and taught me how to make cord and beaded Rosaries) with a gold necklace (I think it was) with pearls and said, "God said to give this to you." How cool is that? That was the first piece of gold given for the crown. After that people found out what was going on and Msgr. gave the go ahead to tell people what this lady was trying to make happen so that she could receieve donations. Fast forward to today... the gold had been collected, God put a designer for the crown in this sweet woman's path, she found the right devout Catholic man to make it in Mexico (which is where Guadalupana first appeared) and it had arrived to be placed on the statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe today at the first Vigil Mass which is the Family Mass (when the kids' choir always sings). There is so much symbolism in the crown, just as there is in the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe (click on the title of this post to read about that). Here is a picture of the crown.
All in all it was a pretty cool day. We got to have Jesus TWICE in one day. And that was good for Robert and I because Ben was not having a good day between the Masses (which is a whole 'nother post!) but, thanks be to God, Ben was good at the two Masses. We got to hear a fabulous homily on the Immaculate Conception and then we got to witness the Crowning of Our Lady. It makes be think about what a Catholic woman, I know, from Africa once said at a Christ Renews His Parish retreat, "God is good all the time and all the time God is good.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mystical Rose, make intercession for the Holy Church, protect the Sovereign Pontiff, help all those who invoke thee in their necessities, and since thou art the ever Virgin Mary, and Mother of the True God, obtain for us from thy most holy Son the grace of keeping our faith, of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of life, of burning charity, and the precious gift of final perseverance. Amen.
One Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father...in gratitude for the Miraculous Portrait as a continuing miracle and testimony.
Friday, December 7, 2007
I used to be Protestant (a vehemently anti-Catholic one at that). So, I can understand being indoctrinated from childhood into believing the worst about a belief system and those that adhere to it; which in my case was Catholicism. Admittedly, I was never encouraged to strap a bomb to myself and take out the local parish in the name of John Calvin. So, I guess that is where I part company with the over-the-top hostility circulating among some in the Middle East.
So, back to Ben and Autumn. As a Catholic mom, I really, really try to help them understand that they are hurting themselves, their family, the Church, and God by being so mean to each other...and over such petty stuff. I eschew corporal punishment, so I try to make consequences meaningful. But half the time the "meaning of their meanness" still doesn't get through their heads. Even though it is true that "I am the Mom", I really don't like to wield that power like a dictator. I try to engage my kids and help them to see what is going on. I try to encourage mutual respect for each other and focus on how God wants us all to treat each other. It is amazing to me, though, how sin breaks in. The "Me" in each one of them becomes all important and nothing else exists. The total selfishness and complete lack of empathy or understanding toward the other, and me, can be stunning. And hey, I know I am not the most peaceful chick walking the planet. I have the so-called Irish Temper (and the Scots have it too, of which I am also descended.) Apparently, the other 1/3 of me, the English (staid, keep a stiff upper lip) part has been completely squashed by the other two more fiery temperaments of my heritage, and rarely sees the light of day. (My poor husband.) However, God is really working on me and aspect of my personality. Having a hot temper isn't always a bad thing. It is the way one uses it that makes it bad. I think there is a difference between managing conflict positively and plain old open hostility. Both stem from a passionate personality. So, I am trying to take my passionate little kids and help them turn it into something good. For example, I am "on Fire" for the Catholic Church. I passionately defend her teachings...even the unpopular ones. Being unafraid to speak up and doing it with gusto makes people pay attention, but I can't do it angrily or I will lose my credibility to those I am trying to reach. However, the only attention I have been getting lately is that of the public watching me wrangle my two little warring countries (I mean kids)...not the attention I am quite wanting for them OR me.
After 37 years of being anti-Catholicism and 18 years of being an Evangelical Protestant, God brought me all the way home to His Church...the Catholic Church. I believed in Him for so long and was always looking for him and he guided me where I needed to go...but certainly not in my time...always His time. So, too, I hope and pray that He will bring peace to the Jews and Muslims by bringing them to his Son, who IS peace. So it is with God's help, I will continue to encourage my children to live together in peace, instead of battling against each other in anger. I fear, however, that it's going to take a lot longer than I thought. I shouldn't complain, though, because God's been patiently waiting for us to get our acts together for thousands of years!
In closing, I want to share a couple of pictures. I was baking today when all Hell broke loose between my little Israel and Palestine. First there are the Peace cookies: Beautiful, sweet, with a perfect texture, and giving off a delightful aroma ...the perfect sugar cookie...which I made while I blissfully baked through the afternoon. Then, there are the Hostility cookies: Ugly, burnt at the edges with a hardened center (the kids were yelling and I forgot about them until I could smell them...not good!). Makes me think of the real things: Peace is beautiful, blissful and a peaceful person perfumes the air with the love of God. Hostility makes one spiritually ugly, hard-hearted, and leaves those around them feeling burned.
St. Expeditus...the Patron Saint of Procrastinators! How Awesome!!!
Apparently, he is wearing water tight boots, in the pic, because he is always prepared. My motto has always been the Mark Twain quote, "Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow." I even have it printed on a t-shirt.
Here is a perfect example. I mentioned to the kids, earlier, that it was the Feast of St. Nicholas (when it still was, of course!). But, did I remember to have them put out their shoes Wednesday night? No! Did I do any cool craft thing with them or read them a book about him? Noooooo! But, in my pathetic defense, I did make some red and green paperchains with Autumn at around 11:30pm (the kid never sleeps) so that was Christmas themed? Yes, but St. Nick themed Maybe...ish...NOT....okay fine... I am pathetic. I even have 5 huge mounds of laundry in my bedroom to be folded and put away. I HATE putting it all away. Washing, drying and even folding is fine. And I am a neat freak. A procrastinating neat freak? How IS that possible? Anyway, I gotta start asking for a little intercession from good ole St. Expeditus...because I could sure use his help.
Good nite! (Though I am even procrastinating going to bed, which will only make me procrastinate waking up. Oh well, at least I DID roast some coffee tonite, so we will have that to look forward to.)
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Our Catechism lesson (taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church) was on Man's (& Woman's) Freedom. This section of the catechism is so beautiful, awe-inspiring, and pertinent to unschooling that I just have to write some of it out for all of you to read.
CCC 1730: God created man a rational being, conferring on him the dignity of a person who can initiate and control his own actions. "God willed that man should be 'left in the hand of his own counsel,' so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to Him."
CCC 1731: Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility. By free will one shapes one's own life. Human freedom is a force for growth and maturity in truth and goodness; it attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude.
CCC1732: As long as freedom has not bound itself definitively to its ultimate good which is God, there is the possibility of choosing between good and evil, and thus of growing in perfection or of failing and sinning. This freedom characterizes properly human acts. It is the basis of praise or blame, merit or reproach.
CCC1733: The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to the "slavery of sin."
CCC1734: Freedom makes man responsible for his acts to the extent that they are voluntary. Progress in virtue, knowledge of the good, and ascesis enhance the mastery of the will over its acts.
CCC1738: Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings. Every human person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being. All owe to each other this duty of respect. The right to the exercise of freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person. This right must be recognized and protected by civil authority within the limits of common good and public order.
So, there you have it. Straight out of the mouth of the Catholic Church. A definition of freedom different from what the modern culture would believe. Little do they know, however, that in their seeming freedom to do whatever they want whenever they want they are really slaves to their own sins...especially the sin of selfishness which usually ends up infringing on the freedom of others. Abortion would be a perfect example.
My hope for us all is that we may truly be free and find that freedom in Christ who said, "The TRUTH will set you free."
Very cool website. Of course, me being the "day late, dollar short" kinda gal...I totally forgot to have the kids put out their shoes last night to get candy from this wonderful saint. I know...bad Catholic mommy.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
Below are pics of the front yard, coming into the house, the foyer, living room from 2 angles, staircase, dining room and the last one is the view from my bed. We gotta have a tree in the bedroom. Nothing like going to sleep to twinkly lights. Oh, and unlike some of your lucky bloggers out there, we don't have snow. However, it is 41 degress and windy...and I'll take it! :-)
Saturday, December 1, 2007
We also got our tree yesterday. I lit it today. It is so tall, and fat, and beautiful. I will add a pic when I take one. Well, I am off to see very good friends at my wonderful parish and I will get to look and act like a grown up...HOW COOL!
........................time elapsed 4ish hours.................................
Okay, we had fun. Dinner was good. That is what happens when a few of the Knights of Columbus are actual chefs. The band was decent. We both had a chance to chat with a bunch of friends and have our Priest's amazing Irish Coffee. (And yes, he is Irish.) The band played old standards and some Christmas classics. It was fun to see various friends dancing. Some couples we know can really "cut a rug". I won't dance with Robert. There is too much of an 80's New Wave 'clubgirl' in me. I slow danced with Robert at our wedding...that was it. I know it's weird, but I can't do it...I can't. It is so embarassing to me. I didn't slow dance or go out dancing with guys when I was younger. The way I think of dancing is a bunch of friends kind of dancing in the same vicinity of each other but still dancing on their own at the same time. Maybe in 20 years, when I am in my early 60's I'll do it?
What I really did tho, was to prove to my friends, my husband, and myself that I can put on make-up, dress-up, and look really nice. I only have to do it once or twice a year. So there...world...I did it. Now I am happily typing away in my sweats...YEAH! Now I off to read Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey. So far it is really good. I forgot how much I love the books by the Bronte sisters. Below is a link to the Bronte Society.
Goodnite and God Bless