"THEN Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry. And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God." Matthew 4:1-4

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Yeah, Dad, you would have loved New Mexico

My dad had a dream. He wanted to live in New Mexico when he retired. It never happened. He didn't live long enough to retire. He never got to see New Mexico. But I have. It's an amazing place. The attraction for my dad was the ruggedness of the desert - this place that he had only read about and seen in pictures, this "Land of Enchantment" truly enchanted him. He was smitten by the idea of a place so unpopulated and different from the City of Brotherly Love.

I don't think he would have been disappointed. New Mexico is an enchanting place. The people are friendly. The terrain is unique. I haven't been to Taos, the place my dad dreamed of. But the towns where I have stayed: Clovis, Albuquerque, Gallup and Belen have been interesting and well, enchanting. I particularly enjoy visiting Gallup. We've driven to a few different points of interest that I think would have been things my dad would have liked to see.

It was a good dream, Dad. But as wonderful as New Mexico is, I suppose your retirement home is a lot better than NM ever will be.

Miss you, Dad.
Joseph Bluhm, Sr.
5-12-1933 to 7-29-1984

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My mom's anniversary

Nine years ago today, my mom died. In my family, we haven't been delicate enough to use any euphemisms since our mom forbid us when our Dad died in '84. Right there is the number one reason why - although I can pass with my accent and love of Alabama - I will never be a *real* Southerner. My neglect of the slight bow and the use of "s/he passed" prohibits my entry to authentic Southerness. Ah well. (That and my inability to fry chicken to any edible state. My children have inherited this gene from their paternal Grandma and for that I am eternally grateful!)

So, today, I would ask your prayers for my family - my sister, my brothers, my aunt and uncle, the repose of my mom's soul. We loved my mom and we miss her.

My mom was a tough Lady, she'd call herself a no nonsense kind of broad who was proud of her willingness to speak her mind no matter what. She moved to Alabama in the 1995 after X-years in Philadelphia. She was tired of the crime and the expense of the city. She didn't always like Alabama, but my brother and I and my family was there and it was considerably cheaper in Alabama than Pennsylvania. And warmer. No nasty winters, no snow to shovel. No amusements. So she got a job at Wal-Mart. She enjoyed that. She became active in the ladies Altar Society at our Church. She hung out with us and terrorized my kids.
Tenderly terrorized them. She wanted to toughen them up a little so they wouldn't be such "wimps." They are farm kids, she thought they were just a little too sensitive and that I was over-protective. LOL "It is not my fault," I'd tell her, "that people are just nicer here." At my kids' elementary school, before they were homeschooled, there just wasn't a whole lot of unchecked meanness like many kids experience growing up in the inner city.

She smoked for many years, and it eventually caught up with her. She rejected the diagnosis of COPD. And occasionally was heard to say that she'd never been sick at all until she quit smoking. I guess if you don't count all the coughing and hacking everyday, she'd have been right. She lived with this trial for a couple years. At one point, we asked her please to go on oxygen.

"What? No way!  I don't want to get addicted to it!!"
I replied, "Oh, you're right. Why should you be like the rest of us mere humans who are already addicted!"

Yeah, there is so much irony there on so many levels, that I think of it and laugh every time. She did get an oxygen machine and eventually a portable tank, so that she could have her fix of this horribly addictive chemical! Any sign of weakness was a bad thing.

I never saw her grieve over the illness, and she rarely complained about pain or suffering with it although we know that she had her share of these things. She was happy when we came to see her and worried about being trouble.

The night before she died, the pastor came to see her and give her Last Rites and the Sacrament. It was good.  Her nurse was there, and told her that things were not looking too good. I told her to hang in there. My sister was flying in the next morning.

"Jen will be here in the morning," I said.

"Oh, really, Jen's coming?" She smiled and drifted off to sleep.

There wasn't much else. I kissed her, told I loved her and that she was "my best mommy."

To this ridiculous show of sentiment, she shot back, "Yeah right." LOL
That would be typical of my mom.
The next morning, she just slipped away. No drama, no fuss.This is what I sent to some of my best friends. And if you will bear with me, I would like to share a few memories of that day.
These are the little bits of sunshine on an otherwise brutal day.

David: "Well, I guess Dad needs to go dig a hole now. Ya know so we can bury

Cymmie: (whisper) "Are they going to cover Grandmom with a sheet and cover
her chairs with sheets?"
Me: "Why?"
Cymmie: "Well that's what they do in the movies..."

My sister, Jen: "Oh I just wanted to say goodbye" small sob.
Me: "Jen, look, as much as you and I would have liked it and craved it,
there was never going to be a wonderful deathbed experience with all the
hugs and tears and stuff."
Jen: "Oh I know but (ARE YA'LL READY FOR THIS?) it's so nice when you watch
it in the movies."
Jen was not there when Cymmie made her remark about the movies. And Jerrold
was and he and I were just laughing.

Me to Buddy quietly in the car: "Aww man, I'm an orphan now."
David with his super-ears: "Well then I am an orphan, too."
Me: "Well no son, an orphan is someone whose mom and dad have both died."
David: "Oh well then, ya'll two are orphans."
Me: "No, dad's mom is still alive."
David: "Oh he's just a half orphan then."

I keep making this mental picture of my mom walking towards Heaven's gates.
She sees her mom & dad and some other folks and there just behind them is my dad.
And she says: "What the hell are you doing here?"
Then she looks around and says: "Oh! What the hell am *I* doing here?"
My mother, may she rest peacefully in Heaven with Jesus and the saints, had lots to offer up that year and she did it quietly and bravely and with minimal complaining. I am proud of her - she fought the good fight. She deserves the crown.

Thank you , Lord, for your most Holy Mercy.
But we still stay her head stone should really read: "I wasn't sick and I'm not dead either!"
Miss you, Mom.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My first Blog Carnival Post for FOTRs (Families on the Road)

The topic of the blog carnival is finding friends for your children while you are traveling. The kids who travel with us are 13, 12 and 8. And our 21 year old college kid.

I have never really given a lot of purposeful thought to finding friends for my children whether they are on the road or stationary. When we are home at our house, we are miles and miles from the nearest children. We've never really lived in a neighborhood, so the friends my older children had when they were small were all at school. When we started homeschooling, they befriended each other and kids from our church. We did not live in a particularly homeschool friendly area; most folks there believe that the public schools were superior to all other public schools in the world and sent their children to the government schools. We've never experienced the joys of co-op or play groups, etc.

I don't think my children suffer from this.I have given purposeful thought to encouraging them to befriend each other. For our older kids, this was a little more difficult since they'd spent some time in the school system learning that they couldn't play with each other because they were in different grades. Eventually, though, they have worked things out and, mostly, they enjoy each others company.

When we are in RV parks with lots of kids, they get outside and introduce themselves and find games that they enjoy with the *locals.*  It's a wonderful thing. When we are at home, they reunite with their friends from church.
Mostly, they are each others best friends. They fuss with each other from time to time. But these three brothers share a close bond. They enjoy each others antics and they enjoy playing and learning and hanging out together.

One important thing we have learned is that friend does not necessarily equal peer. Because we are in RV parks year round, there are many opportunities to interact with persons who are much older than we are. From these passing acquaintances we have learned many, many lessons.  From angling to telegraphy to marble collecting, we meet folks whose passions are contagious. This is one of the great joys of our roadschool adventure.  These are the folks who satisfy our need for outside companionship. We hope that our interest in their interests meets a need for them as well.

We have learned that there are no borders on friendships. I love that my children have met folks from many regions and countries and found ways to interact and discover things with them. I love that they are (mostly) comfortable sharing their experiences and travels with others. They listen respectfully, speak respectfully and realize that the other persons with whom we share the road, the rv parks and the planet aren't very different from us after all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Read a book, Give a book, No cost to you

I got an email from a friend about a really interesting literacy program from Penguin Books.
It's pretty simple: you read a childrens book online, Penguin Books donates a book to children in Harlem, Asia or Africa. Very cool.
Here's where ya go for the details http://www.wegivebooks.org/ 
There are a lot of picture books, so grab a small child and read him/her a book. Right there online. Six different Skippy John Jones books! I know what Dom and I will be doing today. We love Skippy John!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hello from Texas

Yeeha!!! We have arrived safely in Manvel, TX.

Dominic has memorized all the major highways of the US and some of the secondary roads. We were driving west on I-10 and someone asked what route we were taking and I said I-10 to Texas. Dom told me that I really needed to switch to I-12 because it was shorter than going through New Orleans. He was right.

We got in Wednesday night around 8:00. Late enough for everyone to be hungry,weary and querulous. No water at the site. WHAT! No code for the bathroom. Thankfully late enough that no one felt like showering anyway and all fixable in the morning I'm sure.
 Nice lake for fishing, paths for biking or walking, but rainy and cold. order of the day: Bible study (read the Mass readings for the day), science, math review, post to their blog about what they read and saw on the way and get out and run around before the rain sets in. Then lots of reading and maybe a puzzle or board game in the common room of the campground.
Dan finished a book on the way here, Dom read 3 entire SI magazines (thanks to Uncle Frank!) and Dave is almost finished a book called Bound for Oregon.

Bud is well, he did not perish on his diet of Cheerios.

Trying to make a trip to Best Buy later this afternoon for a new phone so I can give this one to Cym.

By the way, how many of you knew that I-10 is 880 miles long across Texas? Besides you , Dom!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lesson Planning

I admit it. I am way behind on lesson planning for this term. Yes, term, I have decided that I will no longer try to plan any longer than that. I admire those who do but I get so bogged down in the planning and make such amazing plans that the follow through suffers.

My friend, Christine, has inspired me with her enthusiasm for this school year to get it together, stop tossing a workbook here and there and a math video a day to the hungry children and give this year some serious thought.  She's meeting with friends and discussing Charlotte Mason methods with them. So I am browsing through the small bits I brought with me. Today's inspiration from Charlotte, who really was wise:
 "Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education."
-Charlotte Mason
So this term - lasting until we go home. Not sure when that we will be. Early December? Mid November? Slide into the parking lot at Our Lady, Queen of Mercy just in time for Midnight Mass on Christmas? Next week?

See my problem with planning this year? Additionally any schedule has to flex around sudden moves that sometimes require a drive of over a thousand miles. Or the discovery of things to do and see. Or fishing lessons. Snow days. Sunny days. Rainbows over a river. Walks to town. Dad coming in early. (We love this life.) We consider these adventures not inconveniences.

Still one ought to have some pegs on which to hang one's adventures.  One ought to be at least competent in Math and able to spell. We have passed the rudimentary stuff with the boys. I now live in a house (excuse me, RV) with voracious readers. 
This allows me to justify (FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!) the purchase of a Kindle reader. Oh joy. I've had Kindle on my PC, but then the internet went out and I had to restore the OS (ack!) to fix it. But I have waited for these long years to be able to afford the little reader. So many books. So many free books. But better than that, no wait AND for the sake of the (already overstuffed with books) RV, no weight.

Inspired by Chris, jazzed at the availability of resources, I set out this morning (early, really, really early) to plan the rest of this term.
I choose Ravel for our composer study (I tried a democratic method but some fellows got a little bogged down arguing between Beethoven and Mozart. And next term, I have decided on Palestrina. To offset Ravel's secular beauty. We have skimmed Beethoven and will return later. Ditto Mozart.)  And should we finish with Ravel, we will dip into Opera.

Cezanne for our artist. No reason except that I like Impressionists, already have some resources for this.

We'll finish our Sonlight Science unit on Electricity & Magnetism and Astronomy.

Keep on moving forward with good ol' Mr Demme's Math-U-See. Dave should be ready to start Algebra in January. Which in my school means you have entered the hallowed realms of High School.

Keep studying theMcGuffey Speller that Dave picked up at Laura Ingalls Wilder's house.  My boys decided that Laura and Almanzo could learn to spell with this book, so could they. And the real bonus for this? Rabbit trails through the dictionary. There are often words that are out of use, so we need pronunciations, meanings, etymology. Of course, if you give a boy a word to look up in the dictionary, he will see another word that he doesn't know and he will need to read that definition and encounter that new friend as well.  What? You never read a dictionary? What are you waiting for? There's a whole world in there!! Get busy.

We'll continue our reading: Augustus Caesar's World, things of that era. Which of course lends easily and naturally to studying the Early Church Fathers and the Martyrs of the Roman Persecution. Our Shakespeare this term, Julius Caesar. Perfect for the guys! And Caro is taking a Shakespeare course this semester and so we have a tome of the Bard's works with footnotes! With three computers, a kindle and 2 hard copies, AND five capable reader/actor, we can for the first time, read in parts. What fun! I have some very dramatic young folk in this bus...........

We are taking a couple classes with Mr. Kephart at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Resource Center: American Geography and US History. They are permitted to choose from his many offerings. They are having a good time with these classes. When we get home, we'll swap Augustus for Christopher Columbus and backtrack. And as we proceed through History, we add in saints and heroes.

Saints and Feasts this term? Every other day it seems until well, until Presentation! We just had Dad's birthday and his day now hosts Cardinal Newman! Our other cool October saints (omitting the week and a half of celebration from Michaelmas until to Dad's b'day on the ninth!) are St Jude and St Simon on whose feast God sent me to my parents. Yeah, they were given fair warning that I was going to be a hopeless case. Three birthdays in two days and then Hallowe'en signalling the Feast of All Saints and the closing of the year. The Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. And the joyful but solemn penitential season of the beginning of the Year of Grace 2011 in Advent. (November 28, 2010 - heads up there. But, of course, you probably already know that because you probably got to Michele's site before she ran out of school year planners....Michele Quigley - if you read this, please next year, print just a few more planners!)

I've been several days on this post and on the planning.
Things I really want to do with the guys: lapbooks, a Timeline Book - I am carting two of them around and I just want them to come out perfectly so, so far they are blank... So this term I am determined to just do it. Nature Journals. Vocabulary word books - although these may morph into something electronic or maybe those tiny Moleskines that they got for Christmas last year would work for this... But they are all finally really good readers, however, they are lazy about looking up words they don't know.

Next time, more pictures, fewer words

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today is the Feast of St Faustina

So pray a Divine Mercy chaplet and contemplate what mercy is.

More amazing than justice, mercy.

Undeserving and unworthy, we often spend a good deal of time demanding that we receive justice, restistution and our rights. 
And we often consider mercy one of those rights. But it is not, mercy is gift. Bestowed upon one by someone greater.
We need mercy. We wither away without it. And we need to bestow mercy on others - we forgive our children a million times for things. That is mercy. Occasionally we are called to forgive those who really deeply hurt or betray us. There's no real earthly reason to do so, but for the sake of our own souls and our minds, we ought to.
In the Riches of Mercy, Pope John Paul II wrote:
"The present-day mentality, more perhaps than that of people in the past, seems opposed to a God of mercy, and in fact tends to exclude from life and to remove from the human heart the very idea of mercy. The word and the concept of "mercy" seem to cause uneasiness in man, who, thanks to the enormous development of science and technology, never before known in history, has become the master of the earth and has subdued and dominated it."
The whole thing is worth the time to read it.

St Faustina's diary is available at this site.  There is much encouragement and hope within its covers. Bear in mind that Jesus died for us to want His love.

About Me

Welcome! The most important bread is the Bread of Life. I am Catholic and do my best to know, understand and live what that means that I might "know Him, love Him and serve Him." My husband, Bud, and I have been married for 24 years and we have seven children. Because of his job, we travel the country in an RV with five of them, learning as we go.