"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

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.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Well, hello, there

We had an interesting summer. Busy. I had the opportunity to go to work with Bud in his world. Reflecting on it, I've rarely had a traditionally female job: manage a Radio Shack, own a screen printing shop, drive a Hy-Rail railroad truck. I drove a school bus for a few years, not sure whether that's a woman's job or not.

It's different on the railroad, though. These are guys whose jobs really aren't that safe. Not as risky as say, coal miners, but trains are big. Really big and fast. And the rail bed (ballast) is not soft or forgiving. There's really nothing gentle about the environment. My job was about as cushy as it gets out there but I still had to wear steel-toed boots, safety glasses and a hard hat.
It was good working with Bud. We had a lot of one-on-one time to chat and think. We saw so many beautiful places that are tucked away from plain sight accessible by plane or train or foot.

Carolynne was our Nanny and Cym helped until she went home to go to school. The boys did some school work through the summer - a little Latin, Dave studied some Greek. They read lots of books and kept up their math under the tutelage of the Nanny.

We travelled from Galveston Bay to Miles City, Mt to Minneapolis (and the amazing Mall of America) to Lincoln, NE to Hannibal, MO and then to Keokuk, IA with dozens of stops in between in 2 months. We stopped for a couple weeks in Keokuk, IA while Bud worked on a different machine and I cleaned the camper and visited with the kids, then suddenly we had to be in Kansas City - wait, no change that to North Platte, NE.
We had just enough time to pop in at St Benedict's Abbey in Atchison, KS and visit with Father Justin Damien. He will always be Father Dean to us. Check out Fr Dean making Benedict's Brittle in the Abbey kitchen, scroll down a little and click on the video. Order some and support the monks - they are making a difference in the world by separating themselves from the world to pray for us.

We worked for a little while in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming last month. And now we are in Glendive, Montana. Bud is working on one of the really monstrous machines and getting dirty. The kids and I are cleaning out cubbies and baking a pumpkin for pie. And of course,we'll be roasting the seeds. Dave has picked up what he thinks may be some amber! Pictures? OK, I'll try but not now. We have a trip planned to the Dinosaur museum here and we can walk to several interesting sites and parks.

Oh! We are getting things ready for the cold, too. By this time last year, we had seen several snow storms, but this year, we are being treated to changing leaves and warm, summer-like days. Even way up north here in Montana.

Carolynne is studying Shakespeare and Poetry and Film Criticism and History and Anthropology. Anthropology is a trial for her. She's so happy to have finished her requirements. And she's enjoying that she doesn't have nanny duties for a while.

We are supposed to head out to Pueblo, CO later this month. The kids are hoping we end up there in time for the Emma Crawford Coffin Races in Manitou Springs. That was a blast last year!

Friends of ours have children receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at the FSSP church in Lincoln on November 5th and we are hoping that we can all go there then, but I may have to go alone. Those are the kinds of details we let the Lord work out!

After that, who knows?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Oh just one more small thing

Remember last year's swine flu epidemic/scare? In many places in the midwest, the response has been to install gigantic bottles of hand sanitizer - sometimes on the altar. Then a parade of Extrordinary Ministers of Holy Communion pass by and take a shot and rub their hands together in a line on the way to their positions behind the priest/presider. You heard it here, folks, the latest "organic development of the Liturgy."

Does this make sense?

If you are sick, you should be at home. If you think the parishioners are sick, then consider only offering the Blessed Sacrament under the form of Bread. hand sanitizer will not prevent anyone from infecting you, dear Minister. It will kill the germs on your hands when you put it on, but it does not offer future immunity. So what is the point?

Sunday should not include a rant

One should not be moved to a point near despair by one's experience at a worship service.
On the upside, for those Catholics among you who cherish your Marty Haugen songs and inclusive language, if things get really bad for you in the coming years as the Mass turns back towards revering and worshiping God, head to the Grand Island, NE diocese. Everyone is welcome in the human chain of love (during the Our Father) except those who prefer to pray without joining a giant chain of hand-holding strangers. (Just for the record, if you want to hold hands with your family or friend during Mass, I won't look or care. What I am talking about is an entire congregation moving from its places to join the hands of every single person in the church. Then we have to chat with each other and smile and wave and return to our places and the priest either waits for the meet and greet to finish or goes on ahead without the congregation. It has little to do with focusing on Our Father, and frankly, it's difficult to focus on the prayer when everyone is moving about and talking and laughing.)

We've been to Mass oh probably 20 times in this diocese in the past couple of traveling years. We heave a sigh and hope against hope that perhaps at this Mass, in this parish, there will be worship that resembles that described in the GIRM. Today, we were disappointed again. OK so it's not as bad as say, dancing Bishops in LA, but there is still little to resemblance to what worship ought to look according the teachings of the Church.

A lay woman read the penitential rite. (Just for the record, it's been months since we have been in a parish where the Confiteor is prayed except maybe quietly to oneself. I need to check to see if my family still remembers it.) Father included in his homily a little quip about his disgust with East Coast people, they're rude. No offense meant to this native Philadelphian, I guess. And really, none taken. I mean who has time to care if someone thinks East Coast Yankees are rude. I am one, the truth only hurts sometimes, not today, today there were far more painful things than a priest's opinion. It was, though, tempting to tell him what I think of the priests I have encountered in the Grand Island diocese, after all, if one is already presumed to fit a stereotype...

That would have been counter productive. But what I really, really would have liked to have said, after a C+ sermon on balance, was "Father, if you think that things are out of balance around here, put the Lord in the Tabernacle back in the center."   Of all the things that we find disturbing as we travel the country and endeavor to remain faithful to Him (note the use of the masculine pronoun for Someone whom we call Father and who sent a Son!) and the teachings of His Church, the removal of the Blessed Sacrament to an alcove is most distressing.

This *custom* is fairly recent as far as Catholicism is concerned, came about specifically as a directive for churches that attract a lot of foot traffic of the tourist variety. Since we believe that Jesus our Lord is present in Hidden Majesty in the Tabernacle, Catholics make a gesture of reverence to Him that non-Catholics who are say touring St Peter's in Rome or the Cathedral at Chartres may not be aware of. So the Blessed Sacrament is kept in a quiet place off to the side in some of these places.
Pilgrims and tourists are not flocking to Scottsbluff, NE. (Although the Church at St Agnes is worthy of a visit to see the remarkably gorgeous stained glass windows, it looks like someone maybe around 1972 said, "Let's cover all the wood work with stucco." Perhaps they covered the wooden beams and customary ceiling frescoes as well. Hard to imagine that the original builders went to the trouble and expense of the spectacular windows and decided that in place of a reredo there should be some hanging curtains. And sometime maybe around the time when dusty rose was popular, it looks like they decided that pink was the new red. It's a very deep shade of pink used for the presider's chair and the tabernacle alcove. But it is pink nonetheless. Is there such thing as kingly pink?)

So the Tabernacle - quite beautiful - was moved to an antechamber presumably out of the way. Out of the way right next to the door. Yeah, that's cutting down on persons irreverently traipsing around in the Lord's holy presence.

If you are a Catholic and you have never read the GIRM, do yourself, your parish and your priest a favor and read it. Your worship will only be enhanced by understanding why we do what we do. If you are in the Grand Island diocese, well, send a copy to your Bishop, he needs to read it. Really, he needs to implement it. It's only been available for about 7 years.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Hello, again

Well, I have three or four drafts with lots of pictures of our MIA time. But it's slow going getting this stuff up when the internet connections are slow or unreliable or non-existent. So instead of a chronological recap. we'll just move forward and post back dated stuff as time permits.
I had to write this for myself - to give myself permission to move on...LOL

Monday, June 7, 2010

Been Awhile

Well, we have this saga about our internet access. Once we had unlimited data from Alltel, but because we now move so much, we were in roaming areas a lot. Apparently, Alltel can cancel your service as they see fit, even though you have paid promptly for many, many years... Without notifying me. How about this one? We have our landline phone on suspended service because we are not home. Makes sense, right?
We have FIVE  lines with Alltel. They claim that the only line they can use to contact us is our suspended landline. Five Alltel lines. No notification. Now that's customer service.

You know if I owed them money, they would have called all five of those lines until they got their money.

It's sad. I have been so pleased with my Alltel service. But they split up and our part is owned by AT&T - well, it's transitioning thereto. Bud's work phones are AT&T. I am sooooo not impressed. We go places that most people don't know exist, like say, Roodhouse, IL or Thedford, NE. His phone and air card rarely have service in the boonies, until recently the Alltel phones have worked - without roaming - everywhere except the mountains in Montana.  But since most of Alltel was bought out by Verizon, we are more frequently in areas with roaming charges on the phones. So we don't call. (And I hate to text, but that's another day.)

All the Alltel contracts will be over in October.
 I won't stay with AT&T. 
Who's your provider and what do you like/dislike?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Tridentine Mass:Let's Change Just One Thing

Every time I read an article about the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite - aka the Old Mass, the Latin Mass, or Tridentine Mass - there seems to be an emphasis about how the priest turns his back to the people.
Let's just understand this: the priest is NOT turning his back on the people, he IS turning his own face to the Lord with the rest of us poor sinners, begging the Lord's mercy and favor with us and for us.

There's this kind of presumption that the Mass is a spectator sport and that we need to see the priest's performance. A priest should not perform the Mass. He should offer it, to the Lord. "Lord, accept this sacrifice," he prays and then holds the gifts up to us. Hmmm.

See the reasoning behind the priest offering the Mass ad orientem?  Towards the Lord does not necessarily mean away from the people. Let's lose the negative connotations.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Christina!

My, we were young! We were clueless newlyweds - married 9 months and five days when our honeymoon baby was born.
It was a fairly easy birth. About 13 hours start to finish. We had quite a ride to the hospital, though. It was a two hour drive. And the car broke down. We left it with a note somewhere between home and Montgomery.
Fortunately my in-laws were behind us. That time is pretty blurry for me. I know I laughed and Buddy was a wreck.

There she was all 9 pounds and a couple ounces of blonde, blue-eyed, floppy blueness. Oh, no, floppy blueness is not a good thing. So she was suctioned and whisked away and poked and prodded and given oxygen. She hates when I say what was wrong, so I won't - those of you who know, know. Those of you who don't - well, she had a lung infection.

It's strange to see a giant baby like that in a NICU. The other babies are so tiny and fragile. Our girl sure didn't look like she should be there and she didn't act sickly. Her white blood count was dangerously high, though. She was adorable. White peach fuzz, inquisitive, alert blue eye. A screech that could be heard three floors away. She had reason to scream - her little feet looked like pin cushions. There was an IV attached to her head because she was strong enough to remove them from her feet and arms. We were there all the time. And finally a week later, we were allowed to take our little Christina Marie home. We named her after our grandmothers - both strong, faith-filled women.
She was a terror. Never slept. Really the child slept maybe 6 hours a day. I don't think that's changed much. We found out when she was about a year old that she had some serious food allergies.  She outgrew them about age 7 but they have come back of late.
Christina didn't love school, but she did well in grade school. She liked spelling and we took her to the Alabama State Spelling Bee finals. That was fun. She homeschooled through high school. And then went to community college because she was bored. We should have known something was strange about this kid when she decided to take automotive mechanics.
She was the best female automotive mechanic student in Alabama. No, she really was. Skills USA Alabama winner. She did OK in Kansas City at the finals, too.
Then she left us and went away to Ave Maria University. She was awarded a full tuition and room and board scholarship. She told us she was going to take Econ or something mathematical so she could be an engineer. Something practical. But she fell in love with the Greeks and I have always told my kids to do what they love. And so that is what she majored in. Ave is a tough school and Classics is a tough major. She did reasonably well and graduated this past December. (although the ceremony didn't happen until last weekend.) And, I guess, if she ever has to, she can fall back on the automotive skills.
In the meantime, she met a nice young man.  RC Gibson. Local boy. Very kind. And determined. After a very rocky start, upon which College-In-A-Camper expounds here, they decided to get married.  
So for her graduation we gave her a wedding. And then last week, we gave her a cool key ring. To go with the keys of her new Beemer. We had no idea she was getting a car cool enough to go with the keyring. Oh. Just a joke, huh? OK. Still her keys look stunning on the new key ring. LOL
Since I am a thousand miles from home, I just don't have access to the pictures of Nin as a little girl in her spinning dresses, or her head IV or her basketball uniform or under the hood of a car. But I have this one:

Nin and RC and the Artium Baccalaureus  

Congratulations and Happy Birthday, Darling Girl. We're so glad you were sent to us and we're so proud of you!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Huff Post on Bishop Olmsted, Catholic Hospitals and Abortion

I'm not a regular reader of The Huffington Post, but from time to time I peruse the ramblings of those with whom I seriously disagree. There are other liberal discourses which are more moderate in nature and I tend to read these as they still make sense to me.
Today I read Jacob M. Appel's After St Joseph's: Are Women Still Safe in Catholic Hospitals. (I'm not linking to it, if you wanna read it, it's there. I don't want to drive traffic to their site, frankly.) There are things in this article that are just wrong.

The article decries Bishop Olmsted's (of Phoenix) dreadful treatment of an altruistic Irish sister who flagrantly ignored Church teaching and authorized by right of membership on a hospital board, an abortion for a young woman struggling with heart failure.
There are several serious problems here. As Catholics, we do not kill someone to save someone else's life. There are at times things are done that result in the death of an unborn baby, but a direct abortion is not one of them. For instance, it is permissible to take drug therapy for cancer (or any other disease) even though the treatment might result in the death of an unborn child. The drugs are not taken to cause the death of the child. (I believe in military terms that would be considered collateral damage - something which the Left stridently opposes.)

The thing that glares at me from this post, though, is that Appel writes:
"In contrast, the right of a woman to choose her own life over that of a fetus or embryo has not been seriously questioned in the United States and, except in a handful of cases involving women in comas, no American court or legislature has challenged this principle in recent memory."

That is emphatically not true. He's just wrong. Louise Marie Roth of The Huffington Post (there's only one, isn't there?) wrote about the obliteration of the pregnant woman as a person with rights in July of last year. All over this country, women are being forced to give birth by C-section by judicial order. They are not allowed to preserve their right to bodily integrity because some doctor has determined that he wants to operate. The risk of death and disease is far greater for women who give birth surgically than for women who give birth vaginally. That's a medical fact. If a doctor said I needed a C-section and I refused because I prefer to save my own life, there's a definite possibility that a court order could be handed down forcing me to risk my life in surgery.

Can't have it both ways.

The National Advocates for Pregnant Women

Even the ACLU thinks that women should retain their rights over their body.

From a spiritual perspective, my heart breaks for mothers who have to make heroic choices.I don't say this lightly having been pregnant many times. But that is what our faith is - not our Catholic religion - our faith in the Lord. Hope that He will heal our infirmities, prayers that we will be strengthened and trust that He has worked all things out for our good way before the beginning of us. This is indeed what I what I would counsel my own daughters: "Trust in the Lord, for He is good. His ways are not our ways. Trust and gather the joy from this day. If He calls you home, He had a reason. Rejoice and trust."
Hard, damn straight, that would be hard, and I hope and pray that I never have to face that. But they know and we know that to kill a tiny baby to live one's life is a desecration of the gift that is life. God is in the miracle business and I have seen enough miracles to know that He is still about that everyday.

Death is not the worst thing.

Today's bread

Since the boys have done a superb job of providing fish dinners for Friday, we haven't had pizza lately. Unless you count a quick trip to Little Caesar's the other day which everyone agreed was a waste of time and money. It's never been a favorite, but it is cheap and quick. And when you need pizza for 7 or 8 or 9 pizza-eaters, cheap is good.
But tonight, pizza is on the menu. Real pizza from our own oven stone, with a little olive oil brushed on the crust, maybe some mozzarella stuffed in the crust, some corn meal on the bottom and semolina flour (finally found a little tiny package for a large price. LOL) a little Italian sausage, some peppers, fresh tomatoes and more cheese on top.
People are wishing the day away here, drooling at the mere suggestion that pizza is forthcoming this evening.

Pictures tomorrow.

We'll make some sandwich bread, too, now that we've replenished the yeast and flour supply. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Novena to the Holy Spirit

It's that time of year - the days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost - there are nine. We remember the days that the Apostles spent locked in a room, feeling bereftly hopeful or hopefully bereft, praying for the Return of the King. Or for the Promised Paraclete or for anything. They are like us, and you know how we get when the Lord  does not answer in the manner we desire immediately upon hearing our Amen. Thankfully the Lord only allowed them to linger for nine days before sending the Most. Amazing. Gift. His own Holy Spirit, the Lord of Creation and inspiration and love. So the Church has a prayer for that. How cool is that? (Yes, yes, I know, the Church has a prayer for everything. Good thing, too, 'cause I have need almost all them so far...) This Novena in honor of the Holy begs Him to fill our hearts, renew our spirits, draw us closer to the Father and the Son and pour His Gifts out upon us as in the days of old. The world needs us to use these gifts, to live in the Light of the Fruits that they bear.

You can find the novena here in daily format (at least I think it will post each day) or  all in one gulp at EWTN.

  The Holy Father speaks about the days between Ascension and Pentecost.

I love the Iris in the picture above. My daughter, Cymberley, took it. I think it looks like a tongue of fire. So I think I'll leave it there until Holy Trinity Sunday. (And if you haven't made your Easter Duty, you're running out of season...LOL)

The Pope Speaks

Really the USCCB ought to do an E.F. Hutton sort of commercial...

From Pope Benedict's address to the Bishops of Portugal:

"In truth, the times in which we live demand a new missionary vigour on the part of Christians, who are called to form a mature laity, identified with the Church and sensitive to the complex transformations taking place in our world. Authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ are needed, above all in those human situations where the silence of the faith is most widely and deeply felt: among politicians, intellectuals, communications professionals who profess and who promote a monocultural ideal, with disdain for the religious and contemplative dimension of life. In such circles are found some believers who are ashamed of their beliefs and who even give a helping hand to this type of secularism, which builds barriers before Christian inspiration."

So there ya go, give up tepidity and get yourself on fire for the Gospel. It is the lukewarm for whom Jesus has the most contempt - so don't be vomited from His mouth. Love Him or hate Him, but get off the fence.

I love when the Holy Father exhorts the Bishops (and us) to holiness:

"In fact, when, in the view of many people, the Catholic faith is no longer the common patrimony of society and, often, seen as seed threatened and obscured by the "gods" and masters of this world, only with great difficulty can the faith touch the hearts of people by means of simple speeches or moral appeals, and even less by a general appeal to Christian values. The courageous and integral appeal to principles is essential and indispensable; yet simply proclaiming the message does not penetrate to the depths of people's hearts, it does not touch their freedom, it does not change their lives. What attracts is, above all, the encounter with believing persons who, through their faith, draw others to the grace of Christ by bearing witness to him. The words of Pope John Paul II come to mind: "The Church needs above all great currents, movements and witnesses of holiness among the ‘Christifideles' [faithful of Christ] because it is from holiness that is born every authentic renewal of the Church, all intelligent enrichment of the faith and of the Christian life, the vital and fecund reactualization of Christianity with the needs of man, a renewed form of presence in the heart of human existence and of the culture of nations (Address for the XX Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Conciliar Decree "Apostolicam Actuositatem", 18 November 1985). One could say, "the Church has need of these great currents, movements and witnesses of holiness..., but there are none!"

In this regard, I confess to you the pleasant surprise that I had in making contact with the movements and the new ecclesial communities. Watching them, I had the joy and the grace to see how, at a moment of weariness in the Church, at a time when we were hearing about "the winter of the Church", the Holy Spirit was creating a new springtime, awakening in young people and adults alike the joy of being Christian, of living in the Church, which is the living Body of Christ."

The whole address is here: Whispers in the Loggia.  Read it twice, the Pope uses word in the tradition of Chaucer - each word is packed with meaning.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The People on the River

Hum it with me (my kids don't let me sing...LOL) "rollin', rollin' rollin' on the river..."
This weekend we landed in Granite City, Illinois. We tossed a coin - fishing or the attractions of downtown St Louis. With my boys, fishing always wins. This time, I am also glad. The area we're in is definitely the outskirts of an urban area, but it's still reasonably *safe* and secluded. The campground is old. But the lake is well-stocked! We've seen some serious catfish come out of there and caught a couple and a stringer of little blue gills ("Shark bait, oooohaha").
And the full-time folks here are really special. Generous, welcoming, sharing hard-working folks. The boys have had fishing lessons and played football and had a bang-up time. We're here one, maybe two, more days as we chose to wait out the tornadoes predicted for western Missouri today and wait for Bud to get back from Mississippi.It's been a relaxing and fun couple days. We were honored to be invited to a fish fry. Yummy.

We did see a very tiny bit of downtown St Louis. We went to early Mass at the gorgeous and stately Old Cathedral.  It is such a beautiful church and home of a massive and magnificent pipe organ - I am sure it is some ancient piece of historic significance. I cried at the end because they recessional was "Let There be Peace on Earth" and I have not heard that accompanied by a spectacular pipe organ since my dad's funeral in 1984. It was a stunning rendition - proving that a pipe organ improves almost anything. "Peace is Flowing like a River" still sounds hokey even with a grand instrument and a well-trained, probably professional,  mezzo-soprano. It is a shame the song selections did not enhance the either the voices or the instrument.
Anyway, check out this photo of the Church. We didn't know that this was in the backyard until we got there.
We walked around it and saw The River and the riverboats. Bud had to get back and get to Tupelo, MS, so not enough day to explore it thoroughly. Perhaps tomorrow if I can determine the availability/accesibilty of RV parking in one of the most harrowing places I have to drive. (It's about 5th on the list, Kansas City is first, then the Twin Cities. I am sure this will change when I have to drive through Jersey. LOL)
If you are a mom, I hope your special day, was well, special.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Lovely, Quiet Dilemma

Oh, what to do? My whole bunch of race fans has abandoned me to go to the races.
I could spend the entire evening:
reading (Don't Know Much About the Civil War (trying to keep a step ahead of David), Jesus of Nazareth, something lighter? Understood Betsy I think Dom would enjoy this story.)
sewing - I have a skirt cut out and two shirts that I'd like to make.
sleeping - we've been getting up at 4:00 every morning for the past two weeks. Yuk.
Or I could watch one of the movies on my instant Netflix queue. 
Or read blogs.
No lovely Calgon-take-me-away-bath - there's no tub in the motorhome. Or this campground.

Hello, self, what would you like to do with these three hours?
Prayers, movie, story.
Sounds restful. ZZZZZZ

Sophie's Choice revisited

A couple thousand years ago or so, a young unmarried lady finding herself in - shall we say - the family way, could look forward to ostracism at best, stoning-until-dead at worst. Now we would all agree that a woman shouldn't be stoned to death if she has compromised her virginity.
(This does still happen in certain "free and peaceful" parts of the world. You knew that, right?)
But whaddya think oughtta happen really?
Should a young woman be transported by the Department of Human Services against her will to another state for a late term abortion? (24 weeks! Babies born at 24 weeks regularly survive with lots of medical intervention.) Now why the state which legally must support a woman's right to choose, do such a thing? They told this girl it's because she already has a toddler. Obviously she had her first child at a very young age. So?
So kill the second one or take the toddler away was her option from her social worker. Oh, yeah that's choice. Like Sophie's Choice  (Be warned - if you have never read this book it is very graphic, tragic and horrific).  And what chance does a child who is herself in foster care have against a government?
Your reaction is just wrong if you think the state was acting within its power or has a right to terminate pregnancies at will. No government has the right to do such a thing.
And you didn't really think this: well, the little chit probably couldn't take care of another one, you did not.
Or think that that is just one more welfare baby *you*  don't have to pay for.
I hope not.

It is important, no, it is imperative that we never come to place where we feel justified in thinking in such a vein. "An injustice done to one is an injustice to all."
Thinking like this, we become less fully human, we degrade ourselves and allow a *force,* an *it,* to have control of our lives and our society. 

I am going to pray that the Lord sends this girl a mentor, that she sues the state of Pennsylvania, wins millions of dollars and has a wonderful, happy life. I am going to pray that the trauma of this doesn't snap her mind and render her unable to care for her child and further unable to care for herself.
You do what you can, too. It could happen to you.

Should the Pope go to England?

A friend asked me this question this morning. Some one had asked her, based on this article by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.
Here's what I think. Please remember, I am totally inadequate to armchair quarterback the Vatican. Bill Donohue probably is, too. (Since neither one of us has been elected Supreme Pontiff...)

From St John's Gospel:
"When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."

"He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep.  Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."

He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me.""
From St. Luke:
"All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way."
I think he should go - I think he will go unless the Lord intervenes. Jesus would go. From those who know him personally, he is a very humble, holy and gentle man. Like the Lord. But I do wonder if he doesn't kneel in front of the Lord and say "I am an old man, Lord, I have done all you have asked. Fiat voluntas tua." I bet he's shed some tears for those of us in the world who have turned away. That these persons are so adamant is a manifestation that the Holy Father is indeed Holy.
Pray for our Papa. We may be at one of those terrible crossroads in history and he may be the most visible casualty.
The Queen will not arrest the Pope - good heavens, can you imagine!? But the barbarians may be at the gate and they will demonstrate and fuss and carry on. The children of Moloch demand a blood offering, it seems, and so in His wisdom, we may see things we cannot imagine and be asked to do things we think we cannot do.
We may be called to live this:
"Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do."
It is awful. Just awful. That guy running Iran is not so badly treated. Mankind is merely passing through one of its phases of lunacy (brought on, no doubt, by the climatic changes we have caused) and we have the good or ill fortune to witness it. We can do so actively by praying and proclaiming the Good News anyway, by being salt and light, by loving those who hate us and blessing those who curse us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Inspired Mom

Check out Karen's post on the beauty of life with children.

She juxtaposes Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird with her own thoughts on motherhood and does a beautiful job of sharing this moment with us.

Just beautiful.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A funny overheard

I took the boys with me to the grocery store yesterday. Ice cream was on the list. And so were waffle cones.
We're walking along and Dom is speaking to no one in particular and all of us in general.

"I love waffle cones, but I really love cup cones better. If you have a cup cone and you have an itch then you can just sit your cone down and scratch it. If you have a waffle cone, you have to ask somebody to help and hold your cone and then they might eat your ice cream, so that's why cup cones are way better."

I wish I had a chronicle of the commentaries of all these children.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Now we're "outed"

Thanks, Good Morning America. Thanks a whole lot. Now there is like a moral obligation to post more about our schooling adventures...because we are unschoolers.
 Sort of.
I've always liked my friend Lissa's Tidal Homeschooling  moniker best. It fits: we're in; we're out; we're becalmed; we're paddling like mad. We're resting on the beach. But whatever we are doing, we are learning.
But that's the thing about unschoolers, defining them is like nailing jell-o to a wall.
The thing they have in common is their passionate desire to help their children follow their dreams, their destinies, the Call of God in their lives -- although there are many unschoolers who would argue the existence of God or call the Lord by some other name - like maybe Gaia. Those folks don't change reality, they just need to find Him in a different direction. Which is not to say that I agree with their assessment - I respect their right to exercise their free will in that manner and they, in turn, respect my right to live in such a way that they might become curious about the Gospel of Christ and our faith in Jesus and the Church. If given an opportunity, I speak. Otherwise, I pray.
There's a place where radical unschoolers abandon folks like me and the label slips off. I define myself by a set of beliefs called Catholicism. I totally believe that this is the best way to know, love and serve God. It encompasses everything I do - or at least I hope it does - this tradition of beliefs and teachings. I've examined this issue from many angles and I always return to the surety that this is Christ revealed to us in all the fullness of His humanity and divinity. It is rational - And so I teach this to my kids. They learn it and live it and so far they love it.
I am aware that they have the freedom to someday reject this. I hope they won't, but that freedom is given them by an authority greater than mine.
So I don't get to use the radical unschooler label.
I like Charlotte Mason's method and loosely use this method. Sometimes. As a guide.So I don't get to use that label either.
And I've always liked Classical Education - Latin, Greek, memorization. Some of my kids do this, some don't. The one thing we don't do is school-at-home. It just hasn't fit. Ever. My mom got sick and required care; we pitched in to help; a new baby came; we had a huge crisis in our family; Bud was out of work for five months; the Big Helps went away to college; Bud took jobs that required him to be gone and us to pinch every penny until it screamed for mercy; I had to get a job and work outside the home (but not be gone all day so we continued to homeschool);  life never stopped happening and we were required to live and flex and adjust and find joy and happiness and peace amid the wreckage of a few really tough years.
So really no curriculum ever fit perfectly. We use a little Sonlight, a little Catholic Heritage Curricula.
Or maybe we're Montessori learners. I love Dr Montessori's writings

Most days, we read, we play, we build with Legos, we plant seeds, examine flowers, identify birds,tell stories, travel here and there, do science, explore, explore, explore.
I don't know that I could ever quantify all that they know. I keep a running catalog of what I think they don't know and then - WHAM - they say or do something and I have to tick something off the list-of-places-where-I-have-failed-as-a-homeschooling-mother.
Thus we learn. Preferably without labels - even the ones that society thinks are good or important. We know who we are, and we endeavor to become more.

Here are some folks who shed light on unschooling:

Sandra Dodd


Unschooling Catholics

Resa Steindel Brown

Suzie Andres Homeschooling with Gentleness: A Catholic Discovers Unschooling

I watched the GMA report. I thought that George S and JuJu were very funny. What schools did those two attend?  In a school children are not exposed to *different* or *diverse* ideas, opinions or materials. They are each given the exact same book and told to study the exact same thing as all the rest of the children. In the area of socialization, if they deviate from whatever the most popular children do, say, wear, think, they are scorned, mocked, shunned or bullied. But this is not a blog about what happens to children in public schools - or a generalization that such things happen to all in children in every school. You know what things are like in your local schools. And it doesn't impact my life any more.
I read this great piece by a friend of the family who was featured on the boobtube show. Mindful parenting, mindful homeschooling, doing things intentionally. Loving well and unconditionally. That's all we're doing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I succumbed

We've made dozens of the recipes from this book:
All of them wonderful.
So, naturally, now that my Starving Student appears to be gluten sensitive, we had to have the companion.

I am not sure that Kindle for PC is such a great idea.
No weight for the camper, no wait for the reader.
OK, so it's AN AWESOME THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What do you think? beer bread with the fried catfish? Or pumpkin spice dinner rolls? I think either one would be wonderful.
There are several gluten free recipes that we will eventually try before sending a hardcopy and the ingredients to our dear Starving Student.

Loving the Church

Some years ago, a friend of mine, challenged me with this: "The question is do you love the Church?"
I could not answer no but I was then unable to give an unreserved "yes."  A, "yes, but."
That is not the right answer.
One does not love if one's yes is followed by but.
Christ loves us, He doesn't love us, but....
That's a hard concept for most of us fallen humans: we love our spouse but [insert whatever thing s/he does] makes me nuts; we love our kids, but, under the guise of wanting what's best for them, we try to make them be more like *us.*  We love this person or that person, but....
That's not love - love loves - it doesn't matter what the person does or doesn't do. Even the things that we as parents say we would reject a child for - that is not love.  If our child chooses a path down which we would not have him go - dangerous, sinful, deadly, wrong - we are obliged to try to stop him. If our child chooses a path which causes us discomfort but which is not immoral, our love must allow him this freedom - because True Love allows him this freedom.
Human love, constrained by our inability to overcome the Fall, does not always love as it ought.
I realized that "I love [fill in the blank], but.." was not the right answer.
I began to try to overcome the but in my own life. To love my husband and children without buts. This is not easy. Unconditional love requires an understanding of one's own limitations more than the limitations of others.

It requires a response like so, "I love my husband even though I struggle with my own prideful need to be right."
Because Biblically speaking, love prefers the beloved and love surrenders itself to the needs of the beloved whether it's own needs are met or not. That is the Love of the Holy Cross.

That's not a popular idea. And it sounds a little out-of-date to love the Church, especially right now.

Consider this: all through the New Testament, the Church is referred to as the Bride of Christ. From the very beginning of the Bible, we are told that a man and his Bride become as one. Therefore, (skipping over several intermediate steps of logic) the Church and the Lord are in essence, one flesh. For Catholics, this is borne out further in our love and regard for our Lord in the Eucharist - our Holy Spouse provides for and nourishes us. Pope St. Leo the Great taught that we become what we receive. So in a nutshell, we are the Bride of Christ and we are one flesh with Him, and so by extension is the Magisterium. One may not separate us/them/Church/Lord. It is not only impermissible, it is impossible - nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Except maybe our own ignorance. So get to know the Church. Read some of the Documents, the Early Fathers, Pope Benedict.

Loving the Church - read the documents, see the beauty - is easy actually. Loving the members of the Church who have caused great grief and harm is not. There are a lot of those folk out there right now- not all of them are abusive priests. Some of them are well-meaning sinners like me.
Love the Church anyway. And in so doing, you can aid in the restoration of Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

A First for Us

We've been parents for 23 years now. If you add them up, we're logging almost 115 kid years. We've learned to expect the unexpected and that each child is his or her own person and different from all the others. But some things tend to repeat themselves and grow old over the years.

Not so with Dominic.

We visited this little shoppe in Utica, IL called Flutterby's Gourmet Popcorn. (Get some, it's amazingly good.)
Being good, but not exactly wealthy tourists, we purchased a few items - each kid picked a popcorn ball and I got a bag of cheese and caramel mix - mmmmm. And some cashews for my nutty husband.
 Dominic got a caramel popcorn ball.
Apparently, popcorn balls and loose teeth aren't the best combination. Or maybe they are.
(I was not home, I am reporting events as they were told to me.)
Bud to Padrecito, who is going back and forth between two mirrors, showing his teeth: "What are you doing, Son?"
Son: "Well, I checked this mirror 'cause I thought that one must be confused."
Bud: "What?"
Son: "Well it shows that my tooth came out but I didn't feel anything."

Yes, indeed, after 120+ other baby teeth, the seventh child swallowed his.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The really important stuff first

Eventually a homeschool mom finds just the right book to light the reading fire. Boys are a little more of a challenge for me because, well, I'm not a boy. They love the books I read to them, no matter what. But finding just the thing for them to delve into solo, that's a little different.

Dan has been particularly challenging. He didn't read very well at all until he was 11 - just this past fall. It does make one worry, but there are studies, "nothing to worry about," yadda, yadda. But I KNOW if he were in *real school* there would have been tests and special ed and probably Ritalin recommendations. It's hard not to compare and just trust the process. At home, one must just breathe deeply, pray and meet the child/student's needs. In October, Dan turned 11 and he was still picking through the sounds of decoding. Dave was nine and half when he hit fluency, so I wasn't overly worried about Dan until he turned 11. Dominic, well, we aren't exactly sure how long he, at 7, has been able to read, but we think he started decoding at three, so he's a pretty good reader thanks only to his own initiative and the *magic* click that just seems to happen for natural readers.
So there we were.
Then one November day, Dan could read a sentence without sounding everything out. Then a paragraph in a chicken catalog - not exactly standard primer material. Then, suddenly, he could read - he knew he could do it, and he, along with Dad and I, breathed a sigh of relief.
But we were still looking for the Book. You know the one from your childhood that made you realize that There's A Whole Big World to Explore Page By Beautiful Page.
For me it was:

The book I remember as being the first book I read to myself and LOVED. It led to so many more : The Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy Books) , which I loved beyond reason until I discover the March sisters and the Five Little Peppers and the list goes on and on. (I was told that I own more books than a small elementary school library...so you get the idea)
need my kids to read and to love to read. It's part of why I homeschool - there isn't enough time in the day for good and beautiful stories and books if one is in school all day learning "twaddle."

But back to Dan, and those who know him might, say, well, duh.
His book is:
Well, of course, duh. But one cannot fall in love with this book if one is struggling to decode. This week, the child struggles no longer, he is no longer an emergent reader. He  reads. He swallowed this one whole, devouring it in 3 days. All 372 pages of the unabridged (we scorn those 'round these parts) version that I bought on a whim in Hannibal, MO. Now, Nin is required to overnight the rest of the series that is at home to us. Happily, though, Dan has his very own copy of Farmer Boy to cherish and reread.

This afternoon, I believe he will start on either Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter or Laddie: A True Blue Story same author.
I call him Freckles on this blog because he loves that book and has been trying to read it ever since...he has followed along with the Librivox recording for years. But, now, now, it's different, he can savor every word in print.

He's read four books since last weekend - three of the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne and Farmer Boy.  Pretty impressive for my boy who could barely read 5 months ago. Congratulations, Daniel!

(in the first picture, Freckles and Padrecito, are exploring a pilot house at the Corps of Engineer Lock and Dam in Utica, IL. Following pictures, Dan caught in the act of reading in a tree)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh, the ingratitude of it all

From the daughter who used to be my favorite....

WARNING: Attention to all and sunder available young gentlemen. My mother has recently married off the first of her four daughters. The Mrs. Bennet effect has been set in motion. Wickhams be forewarned, Mr. Bennet is an excellent shot. Mr. Darcys, as always, are welcomed with opened arms. Mr. Bingleys, please bring your backbones. Also, Professor Bhaers, Lauries, and John Brookes are considered acceptable.
Colonel Brandons are borderline at best, and Willoughbys should take the same warnings as Wickhams. Vampires are right out, but Rangers' applications will not be overlooked. Good luck to all.
Carolynne J. Estis.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Divine Mercy Sunday

The Lord's Mercy
endures forever
Holy is His name.

More later. The same wind that blew us into Hannibal, MO, gently set us down next to friends from Alabama. We were able to make it to Mass last night - St Munchin's in Cameron, MO. 
Today, we visit, share and explore.
That's what I'm talking about - so not average.
(By the way, did YOU know there is a St Munchin? First I heard.)

"My Life is [SO NOT] Average"

My older kids follow this blog called My Life is Average.
They tell me about is all the time. Very funny stuff and cute and common sensical.
But my life is so far from average, I don't know what to do with it half the time.

My life is one continual gift after another. Everyday. The Lord opens His hands and blessings flow forth. And I can scarcely believe it.

Down to the teensiest detail, I depend on Him and He does not disappoint. Want a for instance?

For instance, we have a wireless card from Alltel. It's not supposed to work with Windows 7. No, really, I called Alltel and they say, "No go. Get a $200 router or get a new card." I wrangled around with settings and things and it worked for five months. We drive down the road connected tot he internet and never think twice (I am going to miss Alltel when they are AT&T!) about it. Then Microsoft sent an update. My card would not work, no matter what settings I applied or hpw many times I rolled back drivers or tweeked this or that..  (My wireless printer quit working wirelessly at that very same time, too. So I think there is something weird in that update. Generally, I don't do MS updates because I am running older peripherals on this new system. But I am not the only person to use this computer and someone else clicked) OK, ok...

So for the whole of our stay in York, we had free wi-fi at our campsite. See how God provided?
Yesterday we had to leave York.

Right before we left York, NE, I stuck my wireless card into its little USB slot.  Mostly so I'd know where it was. (You'd be amazed at how quickly one can lose things in a 35 foot moving house.)
I said a tiny prayer, because College-in-a-Camper has school work to do.
There is no wi-fi here in the boonies of Missouri. But you're reading this, aren't you?
Of course it worked.
Because my life is not average.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Moving Day

Today we are heading to Hannibal, Missouri - land of Huck and Tom. It's good to be on the road again. We get so used to moving that when we are still, it is unusual.

It's a seven hour drive from here to there and we need to try to make Mass this evening or we'll be hoofin' it again in the morning.  Bud has to work tomorrow and the Masses are at 8 and 10 - nothing in the evening... So we make the 5:30 tonight or we get up early and walk. If possible. Which is a happier thought than being too far to walk and having to disconnect and reconnect the camper to drive to Mass.

So, off I go to another adventure.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Last night's bread

Using the Peasant bread recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, we made pita bread.
There was leftover lamb and steak from Easter Dinner.
So mock gyros for dinner. We love gyros and Alton Brown's recipe
is our favorite when we have ground lamb.
Last night, though, we thinly sliced the leftover Easter meat, quickly sauteed it in some olive oil with a little garlic, salt, pepper and a sprinkling of mint and parsley. We made tzatziki from Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, cucumbers, mint and a little balsamic vinegar.
The pita bread was amazing. But I think maybe I cooked them just a minute or so too long on my brand new stone - gift from Bud! One side was a little tougher than I wanted it to be. Next time we will probably cook the bread like Naan. The consensus was that they really liked the pita meat wrapped rather than stuffed into the pocket. OK whatever.

Tonight, we are making pizza - sounds like we eat that a lot, huh? But it is the Birthday Boy's choice and he asked for Hawaiian Pizza. It will be interesting to see how it comes out on the stone!

Spring in Nebraska

 So, I was right. Here in Nebraska, these poor, deprived folk really have no concept of "Spring" as the season which segues into "Summer."  These two seasons of the year evoke thoughts of flowers, grilling, and warmth. And in the Deep South, perspiration ("dew" for the ladies) and ice-filled quart jars of sweet tea.  Followed immediately by the dread of next month's "light bill!" Usually in the 300 dollar range. Sigh.

Apparently that is not the case here. It's in the thirties and it snowed all morning.

But that's OK. A certain young man got a real kick out of the snow today.
"Wow. I NEVER thought it would ever snow on MY birthday."

And he's right, back in Alabama it's 90 degrees by April.

Boy Howdy's Birthday

 Today, our oldest son turns 13. He's a fine boy. Polite, quiet, funny. He got new sneakers a week or so ago. On Holy Thursday, he said, "Mom, I think I've outgrown my church shoes."  I looked at his feet, and, yep, one could see his toes crowded into the top of the shoe.
"What size are those, Son?"
He looks. "Eight and a half."
The new sneakers are 10's...

This is our fifth encounter with a child becoming a teenager. We've had teenagers since Nin was 13 almost 10 years ago. And we've had at least two of them for eight years. For two or three years, we had four teenaged girls. But in February, when College-in-a-Camper turned 20, the Soprano remained the lone teen. Now, though, we have a new and interesting phenomena, a teen-aged son.  I think this might be a little different from four teen-aged daughters at once.

He's been different from the beginning. He's our fifth child, born after eleven years of marriage. We had this parent thing licked. [Insert big cosmic laughter Hahahaha]. All this required was adjusting to the idea that one needed to be really quick when changing the diapers. No problem.
 Yeah. Right.
A boy is a different critter.
When Boy Howdy was just barely walking, we visited his grandma's house. She was having some construction work done on her driveway. There IT was. A delightful, dump-truck load of dirt.
He took off on all fours across the yard, IT needed to be explored. Crawled on.
We watched, amused and indulgent. The little boy righted himself and sat on the edge of the dirt heap. He sank his little one-year old fists into it. Picked up a handful and let it sift through his little fingers.
We laughed, isn't he cute.
Then, with the lightning speed that only toddlers exhibit, GULP.
Yep. That's right. That stuff needed to be tasted.

That's when I knew for certain: this was to be a much different journey than the one I had been on. No self-respecting daughter would have crawled onto that pile of dirt and certainly not one of them would have EATEN it!
I could see the destruction of block towers and tea parties. Pink was going to fade away into the sunset, replaced by the red of bloodied knees and the green of grass stained knees. Dave's been joined by two younger brothers and the balance of power has shifted to the testosterone side of the scales. (Much to Bud's delight and amusement.) And indeed, pink has faded and life has changed. (Although sometimes, we still have tea-time.)
And it is good.
"I think I will like being a teenager!

Dave loves the snow!
Happy Birthday, David!
I am sure the snow was sent just for you!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

News from the Vatican

Roger Cardinal Mahoney, Archbishop of Los Angeles is to retire next year. Pope Benedict XVI has made an historic appointment: details are all over the blogosphere, of course.
Here's one from the Sacramento Bee.

I get a good laugh from secular writers trying to fit the motives of the Pope and the Church and the Lord into their little pigeonholes. I enjoyed this one from the Telegraph in London.

Really, though the best place to find out about Archbishop Gomez is at the website of his Archdiocese, San Antonio, Texas. There are many good articles written by the Archbishop. He was one of the first to head to Haiti after the earthquake. 

As far as Opus Dei is concerned, one ought to do them justice by reading about them. The Way: The Essential Classic of Opus Dei's Founder
Dan Brown ought not be one's expert reference on Opus Dei any more than I ought to be your expert reference on horse racing or any number of other subjects!  Including those found within the Blog. (Except for maybe my husband, on some matters. After 24 years, the man still has some surprises tucked away. Like for instance that he likes barbeque. As in SOUTHERN barbeque - take a big hunk of pork, cook it until it's stringy in some kind of smoky tasting sauce and eat it with a roll, tater salad, slaw, maybe some beans and a slice of poundcake. NOT my idea of deliciousness.)

Easter Tuesday

We had such a lovely holiday.
One of Bud's co-workers spent the day with us. He went with us to Easter Vigil Mass and that was really a treat. Nice young man. This job is tough for families - which is why we are RV'ing across the country - most of the guys are out here for months at a time. (I think Bud's personal best was March to October of 2007. I think he came home in October that year, if not it was December. We went to see him twice that year before we had the RV.) They miss the everyday things. A decent dinner, kids' report cards, lost teeth, growth spurts. Even the annoying things that make family life interesting - like empty toothpaste and broken appliances. There are some occasional perks to having a husband who is merely a regularly-deposited-paycheck, but not many; being a single parent gets old fast, and making all the decisions is just not fun for the long haul.  And, according to my husband, there aren't really any perks to being a husband who is merely a paycheck. And, if there are some niceties to being married but alone, there is absolutely no upside to being an absentee parent. Fifty phone calls a day can't fix it. It gives one a lot of empathy for service men and women and their families.

So big thank you to all those folks who are serving to keep us free.

As usual, I digress. LOL

back to Easter Weekend

Easter is just the most wonderful of all the Christian holy days. Joyous celebration after the solemnness of Lent and the darkness of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. The most amazing about this Easter - it's Bud's fourth anniversary as a Catholic - was being away for Easter Vigil. And the stunning (but oh-so-obvious! duh!) realization that as we celebrated Easter Vigil, our daughters and other friends and family were all also attending Easter Vigil in various locales around the country. I was just kinda amazed by the beauty of that.

And, of course, that calls for all kinds of celebration. Egg hunts and candy and Cadbury Eggs Benedict for breakfast.

And for Easter Dinner: lamb chops and steak (for those who don't eat lamb); cheesy smashed potatoes, asparagus, cheesy dinner rolls and our guest wanted to make the corn, so we also had a lovely side of seasoned, sauteed corn. Condiments? Oh yeah! Mint jelly. Mmmm. Never saw it Alabama. It's as yummy with lamb as I remember! We had chocolate-covered cheesecake for dessert.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

There are more than a million places to read interesting things about this day.  I like this one. For myself, it is time to shut the computer down for the remainder of the Triduum!
See you Sunday - when we celebrate the Great Feast of Easter.
God bless you!

Holy Thursday: Novus Ordo done reasonably well

Last night we were privileged to be able to attend Holy Mass.  Fr. Mark Tasler at St Joseph's in York, NE celebrates a beautiful Mass.  No silliness, no nylon net, no women getting their stockings wet. Sixteen Knights in full regalia escorted the Blessed Sacrament in procession to the Altar of Repose. Even a clapper! Which is a wooden instrument traditionally used in place of the bells at Consecration. Very cool. On this journey, we have suffered through some sad and horrendous abuses of the Liturgy, we are thankful to be *stuck* here where there is a sane parish.

Our parish at home is quite conservative. We have a chant choir and they sing chant and polyphony. There are some issues that could make it better, but it's a work in progress: "Save the Liturgy, save the world" not happenin' overnight (although that does beg the question Why not?). Anyway.

Here there were a few we wish had been different - mostly musical. Bring back the chant, Father, and restore it to its pride of place and even more persons will return, for we all seek Truth, Beauty and Goodness and the Mass is the only place left to find such treasures.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today's Bread

Our "go-to" recipe is the American sandwich bread - we add two cups of rye or whole wheat
and adjust the liquids. Today, Freckles is making crackers from this dough. His first batch is puffy. But delicious, I think with a little baking they'd make some really yummy croutons. To his second batch, he added grated cheddar and rolled smashed them out paper this, poked a hole with a tooth pick and baked them. Very nice, crispy, cheesy cracker. Nice job, Freckles!

Holy Week

It's Holy Week:

"Holy Week, which for Christians is the most important week of the year, gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the central events of the Redemption, to relive the Paschal Mystery, the great Mystery of faith." -- Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, April 8, 2009
We'll read the Gospel's. We'll read Tomie DePaola's Book of Bible Stories. We'll watch The Passion of the Christ. Hopefully, we'll be somewhere near a church. It appears Bud will finish up his duties here. As of this morning, no news on where we are going next. Bud works for a contracting company that does maintenance for railroad companies. He is the guy in the top right corner on this page. So if you are in need of some track scanning...LOL  Anyway, it would be good to be close enough to walk to things like Mass on Holy Thursday, Adoration and Stations or Three Hours events on Friday. And we are really looking forward to Easter Vigil and Easter morning. This Easter morning's feast will include some ABin5 brioche dough made into beignets and then transformed into this Goop of Gluttony, Cadbury Eggs Benedict. Um shared between 7, perhaps we will not exceed the monthly allowance of sugar!

Pizza Party

So my sweet friend, Christine, tells me that once again we have *discovered* the same thing at the same time. She's had the ABin5 book for a few months but because she's got a brand, new, little Darling to love, nurture and bring amusement to her world, she hadn't had time to delve into the world of bread baking.

She's baking bread like crazy lately. She's made the bagels and ciabata. And yesterday she wrote on my FB wall that she made the Olive Oil recipe for pizza dough.

"Oooohhh," my kids cried. "PIZZA! Let's make pizza for lunch, too!"

So we made the dough, and they walked a mile to Walmart (after earlier walking 2 and half miles home from Mass) to get some more mozzarella. I cooked some Italian sausage for the topping.

We thought maybe we'd Skype Chris's family and we could have a big, rowdy lunch together, maybe next time!

The crust was so what we love. Even without a stone, this crust was by far the best homemade pizza crust we have ever made. And I have been working on pizza crust ever since I discovered in 1986 that there is no such thing as a real pizza in Alabama (Born and raised in Philly. Over the past 24 years, I've found Alabama has many culinary delights, but pizza and cheese steaks don't translate well in the South.) I've come close, but have never had the patience or organizational skills to begin making dough days in advance. If I had that much patience, I'd mix up a batch of dough and leave in the cooler for a few days to let it get slack like Jeff has on the website. We may never get try this dough for naan or pita!

Next time, I will roll some out much thinner for one of the pizzas anyway. I suspect that a stone is in my future for sure since Bud really, really, really liked this pizza crust. I want one that I can leave in the oven. Any thoughts? Or just go with the super thrifty method and get a tile from Lowes?

I made one in the thick, puffy, Sicilian style that many of my family love and it was G-O-N-E. Brushed the raw dough on both sides with olive oil and sprinkled cornmeal on parchment. Baked it in a hot oven. It was really, really good.

There are pictures of the weekend's cookery over at College-in-a-Camper's blog.

What a difference a Bishop makes

For us, sometimes, Sunday is a day of stress. We are in a different city or town almost every week. We have to make two trips to get to the Church and that can take over an hour. Sometimes we walk. That can also take over an hour. It requires advance planning. Sometimes we are in places where we know in advance that things are weird, sometimes it's a surprise. Rarely, sadly, are we in a town or diocese where the Mass conforms to the GIRM!  Three Sundays ago we were in Falls City, NE and the past two weeks we've been in York, NE. Usually in Nebraska we are in the far western part of the state in the Grand Island diocese.  Both towns are in the Lincoln diocese. The parishes in both these towns seem to be robust and wonderful. No frills, no nylon net all over, no sand and sticks for Lent and real, wet, holy water in the holy water fonts! Joy!

(An aside: Could I tell you stories! But it's Lent and I'm giving up complaining for Holy Week. Let's just say this, the Tabernacle ought to be in the center of the Church because when a *presider* has his *chair* up there, well, maybe it's a little harder to remember exactly Who is the center of the Universe, the Source and Summit... In a "gathering space," that shows.)

So back to St Joseph's in York, NE. Simple purple cloth covering the statuary. Green plants.  Boys on the altar. (Even though at our first parish in Alabama, my daughters served at Mass, I've come to understand that this is not ideal. My girls can't be priests - and frankly none of them has ever said they want to. And girl servers sometimes make boys reluctant to serve. 'Cause, ya know, for ten year old boys - girls have cooties! LOL) Lots of families with dads. No offense meant and no judgment of single parents, none at all, I have spent many a Mass without Bud there - mostly because of his work schedule. But if a family is intact, it is nice to see the dad at Mass with them. And sometimes one gets the distinct impression that men are missing because maybe the women have it all handled. You've seen it - bows everywhere, half a dozen women ministers of Holy Communion, a choir with several ladies and one or two men. And very few dads in the pews. Why should they show up? Women got it handled. I digress, again.

Mostly though, I just want to thank God for the pastor and associate priest at St Joseph in York  for  peace-filled, soul-renewing  Masses. And for Bishop Bruskewitz for really being a Bishop in union with the Bishop of Rome. It is a relief and a renewal to be in a place where one can simply worship the Lord.
It would be nice to be here for Easter Vigil. But that doesn't seem likely.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bread for today

There's some of the Boule dough in the cooler for tomorrow. Today we will eat yesterday's rye loaf and white loaf. No new bread? Nope, we have run out of yeast. That's some feat actually as we had about a quarter pound when we started this endeavor. I don't even want to think about how much bread we've actually made (and eaten!) in the past week or so... But we needed so many different breads this week...cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls and ciabatta panini for Saturday dinner and rolls for meatball sandwiches for last night's dinner and hot dog rolls. And every day bread. We would have probably not had meatball sandwiches and cinnamon rolls if we hadn't bought this book, but we love panini on Saturday and store bought ciabatta cost mucho dinero. So we're buying fewer loaves of processed bread - only one this week for Bud's breakfast sandwiches. And that is a step in the right direction. (Especially since we throw in whole wheat and don't tell him...hahahahaha. Shhh, now, blog, don't you blow our little secret!)

So instead of bread, today must need include completion and filing of tax returns, and some schooling for these children. What can we do on rainy, breezy (we are currently in Nebraska where "breezy" is defined as winds in the 10 - 20 mph range!), chilly Spring day in Nebraska?
Oh, I know! MATH! And some spelling. Like Scrabble and Yahtzee... Or maybe Family Farm...

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.