Friday, July 31, 2015

The Evolution of Our Homeschooling and What I've Learned Over the Years.

When we first started homeschooling, I thought we had to learn ALL THE THINGS.

I thought we had to learn MORE than the public schools taught.

I thought my kids have to be smarter and better read and more socialized and numero uno in every academic area.

You see...I did well in school.  I did REALLY well.  I did straight-A valedictorian well. 

School was my thing,  I could do school.  I could ace tests and papers and class participation grades.  I was good at school. 

Then I graduated.  And I realized that being good at school doesn't make one good at real life.  Not, that I'm think I'm necessarily bad at real life.  I'm just no better at it than anyone else.   I struggle just as much as the next person.  

School is just school.  That's all. 

Super, super excelling at school isn't the be all and end all of childhood.

I know that, yet I still got caught up in the we have to learn all the things and do everything better mentality.

Then I got burnt I learned to relax a lot. 

We relaxed all the way to dirty feet and inside out shirts

I'm still probably on the more rigorous side when it comes to homeschooling.  And, I place a huge importance on writing.  Because, by golly, my kids are going to learn to write well. It's an absolutely essential skill. 

I went to public school for 12 years.  I went to what was generally considered a GOOD public school.

And, there are LOTS of things I never learned there.  Like geography.  For some reason, I never really learned geography in school.  I never had to memorize state and capitals or countries and capitals or the location of Budapest. 

I still don't  know where Budapest is. 

But, I have learned a few other life experiences with it comes to school and children and homschooling.

1) It really doesn't matter if a child learns to read at age 4 or at age 8.  By age 10, both kids could easily be reading at the same level.  Easily. 

2) Sometimes you need to take a break.  This is really the first time we took a summer vacation.  Really.  I kinda like it...this whole summer vacation thing.    And our vacation will have ended up being fairly short...just a few weeks.  But those few weeks were just enough. Also, sometimes you need a break in the middle of the year...a mental health day or a cleaning day, or field trip day, or movie day.  

3) Homeschooling is a job.  One that doesn't pay (sadly), but it's a job. It REALLY helps to lesson the expectations on yourself once you realize that it's a job and requires as much time and energy as a job.   And, because you are working at this job, you can't spend as much time on other housecleaning or volunteering. 

4) Homeschooling is not a 12-year long commitment.  At most, it's a 1-year commitment.  that's it....just one year at a time.   That's all you have to worry about.  And it's okay to change curriculum and books and approaches and schools as needs and situations change. 

5) Everyone homeschools for a different reason.  For me, it really is all about relationship.  My relationship with my children and fostering that relationship.  Other families have different reasons.   Don't expect every homeschool family to be like yours or to homeschool for the same reasons. (For the record, I don't think I've ever met a homeschooling family that actually wears denim jumpers)

6) Don't expect perfection.  Not every kid who goes to public school gets straight As or learns their multiplication facts in third grade or is reading perfectly by age 7.  Just like some public- schooled kids excel, some are in the middle and some are behind, some homeschooloed children will excel, some will be in the middle, and some may even be behind.  It's okay.  This is a big one with me.  I tend to expect perfection. 

7) Support is essential.  You need to find your people. Find people who will provide support and understanding and friendship.   This could be a homeschool group or it could just be like-minded friends.  But whoever it is, you need to find your people.

(Linking up for 7QTF). 

P.S. This is also one of the 7 posts I promised. 
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Friday, July 24, 2015

My experience with NFP, why I don't write about controversial topics and 7 random words

Unlike a lot of other bloggers you might read, I don't struggle with my fertility.  I don't struggle with NFP.  I don't struggle with the church's teaching on contraception. I also don't chart.  Yet, I know when I'm fertile.   And, I seem to have a very small window of fertility (like 2 days) which I have no problems identifying without charting or ever taking my temperature.  I do probably have subfertility, although with perfect timing, we've always managed to conceive in the past after a few months of trying.  Although who knows what will happen in the future?  I'm since I was never that fertile to begin with, I doubt it's going to improve with age.  

Anyway, I can't relate to all these Catholics talking about surprise pregnancies and babies too close together and hyperfertility.  And, honestly, I also can't relate to those really struggling with infertility.  I've never seen a fertility doctor, I've never had any treatments. Perfect timing and a bit of patience and trying is all it really has taken for me in the past.  I fully realize that could change, and I can't take anything for granted, but for now, I don't worry about it, because I have lots of other stuff to worry about.  

It didn't always used to be that way.  It used to bother me that I would probably never have the prototypical Catholic family with stair-stepped children.  However, I've finally reached the point where...well if we have another baby..great.  If not..that's fine too.  I've got plenty of other things to keep me busy.  As I've gotten older, I've come to know my own limitations.  And, I know that I'm probably not well equipped to handle a super large family or closely spaced children...and that's okay.   God probably knows what he's doing when he doesn't give me baby after baby.  

And that's okay...we're not all the same.   This is my experience and my experience alone.
And it's okay if my experience is quite different from the experiences of others.  And it does seem to be quite different.  Although maybe it's not.  Maybe it's just that that those of us in the middle aren't talking about it or writing about it so much???

Everyone has different struggles.  I've just learned to be thankful for the things I DON'T struggle with.  Because there are PLENTY of things I do.

Which leads me to my next point....why I don't write about controversial topics.  Usually.

There are a lot of controversial topics out there, I have opinions on.  

There are lots of non-controverisal things I have opinions on.

There are a lot of thoughts swirling around this brown (with a bit of gray) haired head.

Most people think I'm all PC and accepting, but I'm actually a fairly opinionated person.  I don't judge people...but I do have opinions about *things and ideas and philosophies.*

I actually have lots of opinions about lots of things.  NFP, gay marriage, parenting philosophies, that Maine diner incident. patterned leggings, diet coke, ice cream stands (yes, I have an opinion about ice cream stands), modesty, breastfeeding in public,  tapioca pudding, crying it out, the word "sucker", beachbody, and paper towels.   

But, I keep all those opinions to myself.

Why? Because I want people to like me.  Because I don't want to offend anyone.  Because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  And because I don't have time to deal with controversy or respond to comments.  It takes a lot of mental energy to write about things in a non-offensive loving manner.  It takes even more energy to deal with disagreement.  Energy I just don't have right now.   Because life...struggles....time limits and my need for sleep. 

So, I keep all my opinionated thoughts to myself.   Unless you really want to know what I think about ice cream stands and paper towels.   I'll gladly answer in the comments if so. 

Until then, I'll try to keep all these swirling thoughts inside my head and just share with you 7 random words, because I want to link up for 7 quick takes Friday.  So, here are 7 random words that I am totally cheating and calling takes as thrown out by anonymous children in this household,

1, melancholy
2. wonderiffic (yes..I know..that's not a word)
3. phobia
4  tragedy
5. irritating
6. antepenultimate  (don't feel bad, I didn't know what it meant either)
7. gelato

Now you know what is on their minds.

What's on your mind? 

And this concludes the most random blog post ever...where I start off talking about NFP and end up with 7 random words.
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Home Decoration for Dummies, 7 Rules with Bad Photos

This is one of the posts I promised you.  Way back when. 

Finally making good on it.

Home decoration,  I'm a dummy.    I have no clue what to do. 

So...what I did, was I found (or maybe I just made them up...not telling) a few simple rules to follow.  

Lo and behold, I ended up with a beautifully decorated home!

If you follow these TOO can end up with a home as nice as mine.

A home should showcase its owner's achievements.  

Best to do this in a totally random way, in a room with bad lighting.


A home should match the personalities of the people who live in it.

Our home says disorganized, chaotic and we don't care.


A home should display beautiful artwork.

Someday, this could be worth a lot of money,


A home should take advantage of  natural light, to showcase artwork to its best advantage.

Like so.
A home should display its owner's interests.

Nothing says the One Catholic Mama house like a beautiful wood/glass coffee tabled covered with a pink chess set.

And we can't ignore the cat, who just makes himself right at home, anywhere.


When you walk into a room, the owner's touch should be immediately present,

You can probably guess to whom this room belongs.

An antique piece lends a classic air to any room.

Like that beautiful praying girl picture my mom painted back in 1966,  1966 definitely makes it an antique...right? That's a whole 11 years older than me.  Ancient history. 

So..what do you think?

Like it?  If not..totally okay.  You won't hurt our feelings.  Our feelings are unhurtable when it comes to these things.  We know we can't decorate, and we don't care.   

But since I did manage to find  make up 7 rules, I'm going to link up with Kelly for my 7 Quick Takes and call it a night. 

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Arsenic and Old Lace - The Oldie but Goodie you HAVE to see.

What sweet old ladies these are!  How kind of them to offer this nice old gentleman a glass of wine. 

Too bad those sweet old ladies are cold-blooded killers and that delicious glass of wine contains just a touch of arsenic, strychnine and cyanide. 

And so goes the storyline of this old gem of a movie. 

A ton of humor, a good deal of suspense and a touch of romance are all ingredients for a great movie.  This is a great movie.

First of all, it has Cary Grant in it.  Swoon.  And of course there is the beautiful girl as well.   And the villain who sorta looks like Frankenstein. 

Lots and lots of insanity too. In fact, if you want to feel especially sane, you should watch this movie.  I promise you, no matter how crazy you are, you are saner than the characters in this old tale.  Except for Cary Grant.  He's a keeper. 

Mostly this movie is just funny.  Very, very funny.  I didn't even fall asleep while watching it...and THAT is saying something. 

If you haven't seen, I suggest you watch it. 

It would make a great date night in movie, or just a movie to watch by yourself.   I don't usually blog about movies, but we enjoyed this one so much, I just couldn't resist sharing how much I loved it with all of you.

Have you seen any good movies lately?  Anything you'd want to recommend?

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Ask a Nun..She Answers in 7 Quick Takes

Sr. Veronica is my blood sister...and she's here on her home visit and graciously offered to answer your questions!

Since there are 7 questions....I'm calling it 7 Takes. 


Hi Amelia, my name is Yasemin. I'm a mom to a toddler and have been enjoying your blog lately. My question is how do you keep inner peace day to day?

Hello, Yasemin!  God's peace to you!   Your question is a big one- how to keep inner peace every day.  I think that the greatest answer to that is to pray every day- and not just an exhausted Hail Mary at the end of the day, but to really take, even just five minutes, of quiet time  ( maybe during nap time?) to discuss life with the Lord and to always practice abandonment to Divine Providence- basically to accept everything that God sends as coming from his hand.  That's really hard to do, but the prayer "Jesus I trust in you" you can say at anytime, even while changing a diaper, and it has tons of power before God.  Actually, to practice the presence of God is one of the greatest ways to keep inner peace.  It's basically just realizing that God is with you at every moment of every day.  So, you do everything as if He were right next to you, in the same room, watching you, holding your hand.  Kind of like your toddler.  They may not always be aware of it, but you're always watching them, and that's what gives them the psychological security that they are safe, loved, and protected.  Yet, they can play freely and don't feel inhibited by your presence. That's the same way as it is with us, but we're Jesus' toddlers and He's always watching us.. That's why Jesus said to become like little children.  Sometimes, it takes a lifetime for us adults to become childlike again,  but stress is greatly diminished when we realize that He has, and always will be, in the drivers' seat anyways, so why do we insist on trying to be backseat drivers?
Sr. Veronica


Ha! I actually was wondering what she was doing in that photo. :) 

I am actually making candles in this photo.  We melt down old wax from stubs of candles in a tin can on our wood burning stove (a winter project only, of course) and then pour them into molds,  like the yellow mold that I'm holding in the picture, and make votive candles.  In the picture I am putting the wicking into the mold before pouring the wax.


Bryan's aunt is a nun with the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, so our experience with nuns is very different than yours. We saw Sister (Aunt) Susan all the time. She was the CEO of a local hospital when Bryan and I got married. I guess I wonder what drew your sister to be a cloistered Sister. It is fascinating to me. The Ohio Catholic bloggers conference spent the first night at a monastery, where we said a rosary with the nuns, who we never got to see. We just heard their beautiful voices. This monastery is only a hop and a skip from the home where I grew up, and I was always in awe of the place. I never went in. Now that I know, I'll be taking my kids. I'm sure they'll have plenty of questions then! 

Thanks for your question!  It's great that you've had the experience of different types of sisters.  I'm actually, not cloistered (otherwise I wouldn't be able to come home and visit my family, because cloistered nuns don't leave their monastery) but we are contemplative, so we don't go out that often to do apostolate.  We do some retreat work and evangelization work, but most of our days are spent in our convent.  I think that main reason that I joined a contemplative community is that, basically, God called me to it.  It's kind of like falling in love-  how did you know that Bryan was the one for you to marry?  The purpose of contemplative orders is to dedicate our lives to praising God and interceding for the world.  Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me "  to Mary who "wasted" the perfumed oil on Jesus rather than selling it to feed the poor.  That is kind of like our lives.  We "waste" our talents and energies on praising God rather than feeding the poor or nursing the sick.. In other words, our apostolate is the spiritual works of mercy rather than the corporeal.  Both are important for our world, but one is more hidden than the other.  The hard part about being a contemplative is that you don't see the results of your work.  You give a poor man a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and you get a thank you and a feeling of satisfaction that you helped someone today.  You pray for the conversion of sinners, especially the ones that we're asked to pray for, and you don't immediately see results.   However, it is really a joyful, peaceful life, and I think that our daily life is kind of like a stay- at- home Mom's, though, not nearly as hectic!   We cook, clean, work in our garden,  breed our dogs (sometimes), make candles and crafts, can our vegetables, and of course, stop at different times to praise the Lord and "make family"  by having community time.  It's like being in a family that keeps on growing!

It's a good influence for your kids to experience the monastery.  There is definitely a mystery to the chanting and the hiddenness.  Jesus's brides are hidden for love of Him.  Not a bad deal, right?  Honestly,  I would never have chosen any other life.  Remind your children to pray about what God's will is for them.  Believe me, growing up I never even considered a religious vocation.   I always wanted to be an actress and a singer, and was the most active teenager you could imagine!  But, when I finally started to pray about my life,  I felt that call from God, which really shocked me at first.  But it turns out that He was right, after all.   I wouldn't have been happy in any other life.  Remember, He's in the driver's seat, anyway.  The worst we can do is make ourselves crash by tryng to take over the steering wheel.
   Sr. Veronica


Do the members of your order read the news? Online, via newspaper, etc? 

I'm curious as to "how much" you keep in touch with national and/or worldwide events.
May God bless you and your community, and THANK YOU for your profound, hidden service to the Church! 

Thanks for the question and for the appreciation of religious life.  We receive most of our news from either Catholic newspapers (like our diocesan paper or the National Catholic Register) and through word of mouth.  People call us constantly and ask for prayers, and we have priests who come and celebrate Mass for us every day and we get lots of daily news from them. Sometimes, even without Internet of T.V.., we get more of the important news than most people do!  For example, we found out about the plane crash on September 11 just a few minutes after the first plane crashed into the first tower.  A person called us up to asked for prayers, and then the phone was ringing off the hook all day long with updates.  So, we're pretty well informed!  And the most important thing is, we don't just hear the news, we pray for the world with that information. 
Sr. Veronica

Thank you for your sacrifice on our behalf! 

This question just occurred to me. I suppose I could ask a priest but I'll ask you instead. :) 

If burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy, why do we have body parts of saints that aren't buried? I understand about relics and wouldn't turn down a first class one if offered, but I don't understand how this fits in with burying the dead. Shouldn't we keep them buried?

Good question!  I think that's sort of a stumper, but let me explain it to you as I've understood it.  First of all, almost all of the saints were initially buried, and only later exhumed when their cause was up for beatification.  We have to look at the purpose for burying the dead, not just the practice itself.  The point is to protect and show reverence for the body as a temple of God, and because in our doctrine of resurrection of the dead we believe that the actual matter of our bodies will somehow be resurrected from the remains of our flesh.  So, does a relic show respect for the body?  I think that we can all say that it does- people will venerate a relic just as much as a tomb of the saints.  A relic is a way for us to actually touch those who we know are in heaven and to ask them to intercede for us.  The ancient monks used to keep the skulls of their spiritual fathers in their cells as a reminder of their own death and a way to keep in touch with them and ask their intercession.  In fact, the Capuchin chapel in Italy that is decorated with the bones of all dead friars is a sign of respect for the holiness of those men (as well as a practical way to reuse the crypt when it gets full-they would place the monks in the slots in the crypt and then open them up in a few years and gather the bones together to save space).  Can  God find our bodies,even if they are martyred and ripped apart, or lost at sea, or torn apart by wild beasts?  Absolutely, but the respect for the body isn't being kept.  This is also why the Church didn't allow until recently cremation and still doesn't allow things like scattering the ashes over the sea.
Another thing we have to look at is tradition.  From the earliest Church days, with the early martyrs, the Church has kept and spread parts of the bodies of the saints who died in holiness.  An example is the blood of St. Januarius and the tradition that altars were always to contain a relic of a martyr.  So, if the Church has allowed and encouraged, and even required these things for all these years, how could it be wrong?  Now, that doesn't mean that you can cut off and keep your husband's arm after he dies-  remember, you have to be recognized by the Church to be in heaven!

Is it too late for me to join?

Well, to put it bluntly, yes.  To put it nicely, there are a few impediments.  A husband is definitely one of them, young children absolutely another.  Age is a third factor- we have a cut off age of thirty, so don't go getting rid of the other impediments to join (ha ha)!  Third order lay communities may be a good option for having a religious sort of way of life.  Maybe you could encourage your children to consider a religious vocation?

Did you make ice cream cake?

Absolutely!  I am not permitted to come on home visit without making my traditional ice cream cake- the family would never allow me to come on home visit again, and my nieces and nephew would revolt!  I have to stay on their good side, you know, or else Amelia will post blackmail stories about my childhood!
Sr. Veronica
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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Questions about the 4th, Suntans and Hot Dogs and What I Wore

Linking up with Kendra for Questions and FLAP for Clothes. 

1. How did you celebrate the 4th of July? (Or, for you international types . . . Do anything fun this weekend?)

My brother, sister-in-law and sister-in-blood who is an actual religious sister are in town, so we had a cook-out at my parent's house with lots of yummy food and charred hamburgers.   Then we had an impromptu show with the kids telling stories and singing.  And the nun performed too...with my other sister (and supposedly me, but I don't sing).   We had the nun's famous ice cream cake (not to be confused with Kendra's kid's ice cream cake).  Then they came back to my house and the adults watched Bourne, while the kids watched a kid movie. and once it was dark enough, we did sparklers and pop-its.  Although to tell you the truth, I was starting to doze off during Bourne..but I woke up for the sparklers. 

Then once it was really dark, we climbed up on the roof, got eaten by mosquitoes and watched fireworks.  People get crazy about fireworks about here, so we don't even know whose we were watching, but in all 4 directions from us, *someone* was setting off fireworks. LATE into the night.  

2. Do you sunburn easily?

No, I will tan and get darker and darker and darker and darker until I look like I'm another ethnicity.

The summer after I graduated from college, I volunteered with Christian Appalachian Project in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.  I spent the entire summer outdoors and didn't burn, but got super dark.

Then I went to graduate school at the University of Kentucky and at one of those meet and greets, I had the following conversation with someone. 

A graduate student no less.

Other graduate student: Where are you from?
Me:  Rhode Island
Other graduate student  Is that in the Caribbean?
Me: Uh's in New England, right by Massachusetts.
Other Graduate Student: just thought you looked like you might be from someplace exotic. 
Me: place exotic. 

3. Hot dogs. Yay or nay?

I like them okay, but they aren't my favorite or anything.  I would prefer a burger. If I do eat a hot dog, it is bun. I can't stand hot dog buns (or hamburger buns or cheap, white bread buns of any sort).  And, I only really like the healthy ones...without all the nitrates and junk. 

4. Have you ever personally set off fireworks?

No.  As a general rule, I don't do things that could be considered dangerous.  

5. Have you ever jumped off the high dive?

No. See above answer. Plus, I'm not a great swimmer, and I hate going underwater. 

6. Do you do anything weird in your sleep?

I've been told that I occasionally talk in my sleep, but just occasionally, so usually no. 

And, I haven't done a What I Wore Sunday in a long time..but what the heck.  I'll go for it now. 

Here's what I wore today. (Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple)

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