"Do not yield to discouragement in the face of difficulties and do not abandon yourselves to false solutions which often seem the easiest way to overcome problems. Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and constancy, humility and dedication. Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty and genuine love! Live fully this time in your life so rich and so full of enthusiasm."
"Let us look with greater hope to the future; let us encourage one another on our journey."
~ Papa Benedict XVI

Sunday, October 31

Book Give Away!

Visit Homeschooling-resource.org to enter our drawing.  We are giving away a copy of Consoling the Heart of Jesus.


You can enter
November 1 thru November 15, 2010. 

We will announce the drawing winner on
November 20, 2010.

Please let others know ...
If we have 100+ entries we will give away 2 copies!

Good Luck! and... Happy All Saints Day!


Thursday, October 21

Grammar

Today was a bit if an eye opener for me. 

When i was a kid my best friend and i used to write each other all the time (i am a military b.r.a.t..)  I forget the time frame of this but at one point she started send me back my own letters - and they were corrected! - along with her reply. : )

I can write, but grammars rules, sometimes spelling, and most definitely commas are not my friends.  The only grammar i remember also involved this dear friend concerning a gerund.  I don't even know what the thing is still today but i do remember i thought our teacher was saying agerund and my friend finally, at some point in life, corrected me. : } Needless to say, you get the point here ...i am not good with the stuff.

How do you teach what you don't know you ask?
(am i missing a comma here???)

When Running Buffalo was younger and we started homeschooling we started using CHC with a few adjustments. They have their own grammar program.  We were using Little Angel Readers (we highly recommend this program still, 10 years later!!) for reading and then transitioned into the CHC grammar once we finished the LAR program.  We used it for a couple of years but never got through the whole book.  I just could not accept the jumping around and lack of real practice with the program.  Finally we just stopped.  Yep, grammar consisted of me correcting what i noticed they needed work on and that was it.  At one point we tried Voyages in English but did not have good lesson plans and ended up dropping it as well. 

This year Running Buffalo is in High School and my not so dear friend Grammar is back in our life.  R.B. works on it by himself mostly, but if there is something he does not understand he will come to me for a better explanation (tee hee hee.) I read the lesson and then explain it.  We have managed thus far.

The younger ones have taken on grammar this year too.  We are following OLV for the next 2 kids with the exception of Religion and History.  We are using Voyages in English with a different (and much better) lesson plan.

This week i have seen similar topics for both our middle schooler and our high schooler.  We actually had a grammar conversation of sorts today centered around predicate nominatives and appositives ...Who has conversations like THAT???? Apparently we do. 

But the point is, i realized (and said as much to our oldest) that Running Buffalo missed a lot...and i am very thankful that he is learning it now.  (we won't mention that i also told our middle schooler that he had to learn it but if we messed up too much it was ok cause i never use any of it now anyway....: ) he just looked at me with is mouth hanging open.)
I must say though - i was very excited when Strong Arrow and i finally figured out that if we circle the verb and then use the rule (we made up ourselves ...so you can correct me if we're wrong here!) the predicate nominative noun falls after the verb and the appositive noun falls after the subject but before the verb.
Learning grammar with your child when they are young is a lot easier than jumping in there in high school.  Who knew the heading of a letter (address and date) should not contain abbreviations! 4th grade Grammar! Gotta love it!

The moral of this story?  Find a good grammar program and use it...as early as possible....

ps. my childhood friend - she became a High School English teacher! ...but i still love her! : )

Sunday, October 17

Managing a Happy Homeschooling Household

Katie over at HuMAMAe Vitae asked me to write about managing a happy homeschooling household.  It gave me pause as ...well... that could take all day! : P

I will try to keep it brief but there are no guarantees.

I guess the simplest answer would be planning, patience and prayer.

Planning - It really doesn't take much.  Ours is as simple as laundry on Tuesday and Friday, school everyday Monday thru Friday, quiet time (my sanity saver!) every day after lunch. As long as all parties involved (mom, dad, and kids) have a general idea of the plan, you have a great start. 
In the not so far past i can admit we were on a much busier schedule. Once you throw in sports, clubs, etc things can get a bit hectic.  There is a fine line between too much and just enough, and many times you hit the too much and must pull back.  There is nothing wrong with slowing down and simply being a family.  It actually does wonders within the home.
Please keep in mind flexibility is important here too.  You do not always need to say 'Enough! We're stopping everything!' (Yes, i have said it a time or two ...and thought it even more times than that) but more so, adjust to the season you are in.  Having many little ones is very different then some across the age ranges, which is different from all older children... you need to be realistic about where your family is in the overall picture of life. Flexibility within the plan is essential. 

Patience - It is God's gift to us...use it, ask for it, let it be a base for your plan.  Most of us are not born with a patient soul; many times we have to ask for it, and practice it consistently... and yes, you must teach it.  When the children are very young is when you start.  Trust me, they learn very early how to push our buttons ...if we start very early teaching them patience, you may be surprised at how your homeschool and household manage themselves at times. Side note - you must have patience while teaching patience!  Even the older ones (just like mom and dad) get caught up in the moment and don't think to pause and wait. But patience is even more than that ... it is listening quietly - listening in the silence. 

Prayer - It is our gift to God.  I personally would not get through my day without it.  Father said it very well at Mass today - "Prayer is not you talking to God, it is you talking to God and listening to His answer." All we have to do is ask and listen.  The listening part is the harder part, yes, but well worth the time.  Some will ask "How do you hear His answer?" ... Many times it's simply a matter of stepping back and looking at all that has transpired.  It may not be the answer you were looking for but it was an answer.  Sometimes it's just patience, knowing no matter what, He will answer.
Teaching prayer is very important within your home.  Going beyond asking and expecting a definable answer is hard to learn.  Start small.  Your children watch you - ALL THE TIME.  While driving past a cemetery, do you bless yourself or say a prayer for the dead?  Upon hearing a siren do you bless yourself and say a prayer for those involved?  When passing a Catholic church do you say hello to Our Lord within?  He waits patiently for you. 
These little, very necessary prayers teach that sometimes you must wait for an answer.  And most times that answer will not be found by you in this world. 
Pray each day at the start of school.  Family prayer (ours is at bedtime) is a huge balm to the soul.  (Ask me later about dealing with distractions, giggles, and such!) Pray every moment of every day.  And when you can't think of anything to say? Pray an Our Father or a Hail Mary.

There is so much more depth to managing a happy homeschooling household.  I feel like i barely scratched the surface...but hit the most important parts.

The nitty gritty of how do you manage 5 kids at 5 different lessons at one time, how do you fit in all the scheduled activities, and how do you get dinner on the table by dinner time all fall into one or more of the above categories.  It's with much planning, patience and prayer ...and unconditional love.

Tuesday, October 12

Homeschooling in High School

This year we have a new twist to our little homeschool.  We have a high schooler.  When homeschooling at the high school level there is always that big internal debate 'do we enroll with an accredited school or go it alone?'  We opted for the enrollment. 

There are many reasons, the main one being that when a homeschooling father says 'i always toss out any application that says no high school diploma.  I don't have time to find out if they dropped out, have their GED, or were homeschooled.' it makes you think twice.  So we took the plunge. 

We have been homeschooling for over 10 years now (yes, we started at age 3 ...HE ASKED ME TO!) In all those years we have never followed the lesson plans exactly.  That is one of the things i love about homeschooling... you can adjust as needed for each child. But i'm not saying i haven't tried.  Really, I have. I just don't have it in me.  So we enrolled this year...yes i already said that, but it is significant enough to say again.

These last few years i have really looked long and hard into the different Catholic Curricula knowing High School loomed close ahead.  And as we got closer i even consulted with our future HSer as to his opinion on things.  It really helps to make it their own when they have some knowledge of what going on.

We looked at Mother of Divine Grace.  Many families we know switched to that from Seton in the past several years.  Its a good curriculum but a bit too light in some subjects for us.  Then we looked at Kolbe.  What interested us about them was that you have several graduation tracts to choose from depending on where you think you're headed.  We almost went with them.  Da Tall Guy and i discussed it in depth and he felt he would like to do the highest diploma available through them, carrying the most credits.  He plans to go to college. 

But as usual, life does not always go as planned.  You know those times in life when something else just seems the better route suddenly?  When you've made the decision and then the Holy Spirit says 'hey, wait a minute.' Well, that's what we ended up with.  In the past i have looked at Our Lady of Victory and Our Lady of the Rosary but we don't know anyone using either curriculum.  Kolbe was pushing the envelope but i at least had more knowledge of them the OLV or OLR.  But we changed course and thus courses. 

Every year (almost) i attend a homeschool conference.  Every year i see the beautiful books OLV uses.  Many are reprints of old Catholic School books used by our parents.  I am a sucker for books.  So when asked why we went with OLV you may hear my first response, "they have pretty books."  : ) ...But... They are actually pretty tough.  They have one diploma and it is the same amount of credits Kolbe has for their highest credit diploma.  They use wonderful books.  They are very helpful.  You are able to change out up to 2 classes (not including religion.)  We are using a different math - I have very strong feelings concerning Saxon and he is far enough ahead that we wanted a program that would have available to him what he needed throughout his entire high school career.  We are using Math-U-See.  Other then that, we are using everything they have in the lesson plans. 

Now, he is keeping me on my toes being sure i have things graded and the papers ready ....they need to go in every other week. That helps as i am not good about keeping up with those things regularly.  We are very happy with OLV so far - the Holy Spirit strikes again!

For years people warned us about high school.  It will be tough!  How will you teach things like biology, chemistry, geometry, etc?  Guess what!  It is no where as scary as people make it out to be.  NO WHERE NEAR AS SCARY!  I recommend you jump right in.  Having taught your child for 8+ years (if you started at the beginning) gives you a fairly decent idea about what they will need in High School.  But the one big thing i think, is that you really need to have them involved.  Show them what you are looking at for them...and why.  Discuss with them what they are thinking about for after high school.  It does not mean that is exactly what they will do, but it gives you a direction to head in.  Most importantly remember to always listen...to your high schooler, to your heart, to the calling of the Holy Spirit.

You're being Counted!

But don't believe all those fancy numbers.  If you check below (go ahead, i'll wait.....) there is a counter that says your are guest number ###.  Its all a lie.  Why?  Because every time i adjust or change something on the blog i am then asked to view the blog ...and i am counted in the guest numbers.  I would probably take that number listed below and divide it by two...that should be closer to your real number...not that you care but, honestly, honesty is the best policy.

Monday, October 11

Uniquely You

Have you ever really thought about how unique you are?  We are all made in the likeness and image of God but we are all so different.  There is no one else like you in this world.  Sure, we know people who are similar, but there is always a point where you veer off into your own ...whatever. A mom ...i know tons of them.  Catholic .... yep, know a lot of them too.  Homeschooling.... the list is getting shorter.  Military B.R.A.T.  ... now we're narrowing the field! Wait, did you attend ASU? ...no, the other one.  Do you love art?  and do you read non stop (well i don't either but i wish i could!) How many children do you have?  (no, i'm not being funny! I get asked this enough...)

People never cease to amaze me .... the beauty of the human spirit.  The soul.  No matter what you believe in, you can't turn your back on the Truth.  Its staring at you in the mirror. The likeness and image of God.  Each person you meet, your child, your spouse.  Right there, you are facing God.

Saturday, October 9

New Things

So this is about the 3rd or 4th time i am trying to write this post .... makes you wonder what all i have had to rewrite and/or delete doesn't it? You'll never know - then again, i'd even be lucky to remember!

Once again here we are with me recapping several weeks of events.  We may even go so far as to say a couple of months at this point!

What have we been up to?
We have visited the newly renovated and re-opened Museum of Art here in Raleigh.  The kids and i had a nice visit.  We saw some really neat things along side some really old, neat things!  Gotta love art!
The Crucifixion  Date: circa 1330
The most hilarious thing about the trip had to be the security guard - she scared the heck out of the kids ...more like stunned them for a moment or two .... as we had just started our way into the Old Italian art section (notice how technical my terms are here!).  Cat was walking  (ok, my fault completely!) and she walked up to a painting and reached out her little 2 yr old hand .... the nice guard appeared out of nowhere and said "12 inches, 12 inches, please, keep at least 12 inches from all the art work."  Oh my. Did she really think i was going to let my 2 yr old handle a piece of art that was many centuries old?  Apparently so! She was so fast, and firm in tone of voice, that all the kids jumped and spent the next 10 min being sure we all remained "12 inches, 12inches!" from all art work. Rather amusing. 
                                                                          
Sir William Pepperrell (1746-1816) and His Family











We found that as beautiful as most of the art was, we were drawn to the American artists.  It might have been the subjects were familiar, or that the styles were more casual, but whatever it was, we had some very interesting conversations once we hit that section of the Museum.  Cat lasted a good while, but we did not get to many parts of the museum.  We are looking forward to further strolling through, and quietly spending time, enjoying the rather thought provoking, inspiring, conversation starting pieces on display.  At least we know what 12 inches is!

Next on our list of have dones ....

On the Field!













We attended Uncle Matt's 1st college football game.  We traveled 3 hours up to Liberty College to see him.  He plays for Saint Francis University.  He is the ball holder.  Well, he was that first game.  Since then he has been added to some other back up positions .... i don't know!  At least he's on the field, and traveling with the team!


Visiting with Uncle Matt after the game!













Uncle Joe, Aunt Jen, and Vinny joined us there. Uncle Joe managed to get himself a press pass and we found him on the field most of the game - we have pictures but .... no need to embarrass him more.


Ladybug has learned/is learning to sew on the sewing machine.  In a not too ambitious moment she decided that learning to use the machine while sewing her first quilt was definitely the way to go.  She just has to finish up the binding (waiting on mom) and it will be ready to send to a sweet. little one.


We have a new cousin! Rowan James was born September 5th.  A sweet, little, tiny thing we all had the joy of holding while in PA.  Uncle Greg and Shane are very blessed. Shane says all she does is feed and change him, then he sleeps and it all starts again!....who woulda guessed!




Well, the list goes on....
We visited the Bug Fest here in Raleigh - hosted by none other then Terminix!

Bear has learned to ride a two wheeler - it took 5 minutes!

We have started school.

We have started FLL (first lego league).

We visited a horse show.

We did a FLL demo for the Fox50 Family Fest in Durham - rather long day!

We are preparing to visit the state fair.

 We are going to the beach for a week (yes, daddy will only be there a few days. yes, we are bringing school work!)

We will be celebrating our cousin Vinny's 1st birthday!  As well as visiting with Uncle Joe before he heads of to Afghanistan. Oh, Aunt Jennifer will be there too ... We love you guys!

Phew!  Must there be more?

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we continue the job search.  Also please remember all the men and women who are serving our country both at home and abroad.