Monday, April 27, 2015

Homeschooling: Why Seton Home Study?

Last week I answered the first question most people will be asking themselves when they hear we are homeschooling.  This week we will answer the second.

The second question most people will most likely ask us about homeschooling is "What curriculum are you using and why?".  So let's tackle that question today!

As I stated before, I wanted an authentically Catholic program, one that was in tandem with what Mother Church teaches.  It was very important to me that this program is one that is affordable, and flexible enough that it can follow us if we move from state to state as needed.  Additionally, I was interested in finding a Catholic program that follows the child through HS if we so choose to homeschool all the way to graduation.  And finally, it was important for me to find a program that was challenging academically while also being accredited.  I found all of these prerequisites in Seton Home Study.

So what do I like about this program so far? Well it's only been about a month since I received our Kindergarten curriculum via the mail.  What I enjoy about this program so far:
  • I love the beautiful pictures of the Blessed Mother and Infant Jesus on our text books. 
  • I also love how simple prayers, religious art and religious symbols are woven into our daily school work.
  • I very much enjoy that we can go at the pace of our child.  For example, when I spoke to one of the academic counselors via the phone they informed me that for children they can have up to two years to complete K as needed.  
  • The other thing I love is that Seton gives a LOT of practice on each skill but also allows parents to determine how much practice each child requires.  I can see this repetitive daily practice could be very helpful for children who require much practice for learning to occur.   Blessedly for us, Pickle is well on his way into the K curriculum in just a few weeks because he knows so much already.  So due to the flexibility of this curriculum, we have been able to move along fairly quickly through many of the math and phonics lessons in order to meet Pickle where he is currently functioning.
  • I like that the daily required practice is minimal (a worksheet or two a day per subject) so that leaves parents with much time to create extension activities.  We have a lot of fun with manipulatives (a.k.a. legos, blocks, matchbox cars, crayons, even candy) and a simple wipe board for math!
  • I also love that we have a LOT of time for reading together, time for Pickle to practice reading and time for me to read chapter books to him.
Other things I enjoy about homeschooling in general:
  • I enjoy that we can take breaks throughout the day as we need to.
  • I love that I can change and manipulate activities in order to provide deeper learning opportunities for my son.
  • I also love that I am a part of my son's incidental learning as he experiences it throughout the day.  For example, my son learned what fractions looked like on a measuring cup when we made his dad's birthday cake last week.  Simple, real-life, incidental learning.
  • I VERY MUCH ENJOY snuggling up with my boys while reading chapter books each day.
  • Who doesn't LOVE wearing PJs to school?
  • I can't help but enjoy the fact that homeschool does not have to look like "school" at all.  We can be on the couch, at the kitchen table or even piled up in my queen sized bed reading and discussing various subjects.
  • What I'm looking forward to are the field trips!  We are in a wonderful state full of so much history that I cannot WAIT to take my sons to some of these great museums, state parks and historic sites.
So this is why we have chosen Seton.  We are currently supplementing some of Pickle's curriculum with other materials and I'll share what we are doing and why on the next post!

Homeschooling families, what curriculum are you using?  Feel free to share!

Blessings to You and Yours,

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Catholic Tidbit: Last Rites and the Apostolic Pardon

Did you know there is a way you or a loved one can receive a remission of the temporal punishment of their sins at the time of death? What incomprehensible mercy the Lord has for us! I think this just illustrates how our God loves us infinitely and does not want to lose any of us to hell.  Let's check out this beautiful gift of mercy!

Well, like so many things in our AMAZING religion, this practice has unfortunately gone by the wayside.  In fact, some priests are not familiar with this blessing at all. So here's what you need to know:

1.  Last Rites and the Anointing of the Sick are NOT the same thing!  In fact, the Anointing of the Sick is only PART of the Last Rites sacrament.

2.  Another very important part of this sacrament is the "Apostolic Pardon" and, if given, is typically done so after absolution of one's final penance/reconciliation.  The apostolic pardon is a blessing (which can only be recieved if one is in a state of grace), that forgives the temporal punishmment due to sins but NOT the sins themselves which is why you need penance also.   The Apostolic Pardon (also known as the Apostolic Blessing or Apostolic Benediction) can be given by a priest during Last Rites at the time of death. BE SURE TO ASK FOR IT (or have a trusted family member ask for it at your bedside, some people have even put this specifically in their living wills, etc.) as not all priests know about it or maybe feel it is needed.  If you want it, ASK!!!!!

3.  Even if a priest is not available at the time of death, this gift of mercy is STILL available to the faithful, to those who "prayed regularly in some way during their lifetime"!  But you must remember to desire this pardon as death approaches.  Ask the Lord in your heart for this blessing and all the graces that come with it.

4.  Remember also that if a priest does not make it time for Last Rites, we have a few wonderful gifts at our disposal:  holy water (which washes away any venial sins), and the "perfect confession" (our personal confession to God followed by the saying of the Act of the Contrition).  Please understand that the "perfect confession" does NOT take the place of receiving the sacrament of penance but still can and should be used daily as well as when death approaches if no priest is available.

Note: We also have the Chaplet of Mercy, which I will discuss it's benefits recited at the time of death in another blog post.

What exactly does the Church say on this matter?  Well in the Handbook of Indulgences #28 it states:

 “Priests who minister the sacraments to the Christian faithful who are in a life-and-death situation should not neglect to impart to them the apostolic blessing, with its attached indulgence. But if a priest cannot be present, holy mother Church lovingly grants such persons who are rightly disposed a plenary indulgence to be obtained in articulo mortis, at the approach of death, provided they regularly prayed in some way during their lifetime. The use of a crucifix or a cross is recommended in obtaining this plenary indulgence. In such a situation the three usual conditions required in order to gain a plenary indulgence are substituted for by the condition ‘provided they regularly prayed in some way'." (Reposted from here)

Ok, so what exactly does this blessing say?  Well below is a copy of the two possible versions of this blessing a priest can say for you at the time of your death.  I made them wallet-size so you can laminate them and carry in your wallet in case of any emergency.  Print out the full page of copies and share with your friends and family!!!  I added my website address on each card so if you run out you can refer others to this site to get their own copy.

This is such a WONDERFUL GRACE from our Lord!  Let us share this information on our facebook pages, twitter, instagram, google+ and any other social media format you use.  Let's help to save souls today!!!!

Blessings to you and yours,

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prayerful Reflections: 1 Corinthians Chapters 12 &13

My prayerful reflections while reading Corinthians Chapters 12 ("We are One Body...") and 13 ("Love is patient, Love is kind..."

Love is not jealous, prideful, or narcissistic. 
Love isn’t egocentric, gossipy, or judgmental of people.  
Love sits back quietly, listening, feeling, putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, aching with them and for them, praying desperately that this member of the body of Christ comes home.  
And those who have yet to become members of the Body, those not yet baptized, Love knows God created them to BECOME part of the Body!  
No one can FILL their shoes.  
No one can pick up their slack.  
We are all hurting because they are not YET part of the Body.  
We are incomplete.  
We are missing part of ourselves.  
Love quietly wipes its own face who has been spit upon.  
Love silently prays for those who hate and ridicule him.  
Love looks into the eyes of hate and longs to desperately save that soul from eternal damnation.  
Love feels the LOSS of EVERY LOST SHEEP.  
But Love KNOWS the MERCY of our God.  
Love understands that the Shepherd will always be calling the lost sheep home.  
So Love waits and prays.  
Love fasts and gives alms.  
Love serves.  
Love helps.  
Love hopes.  
Love believes that one day ALL LOST SHEEP who CHOOSE to be found, will come back home. 
All members will become one body once again.

Blessings to you and yours,

Monday, April 20, 2015

Homeschooling: Why?

The first question I think most people ask themselves when they hear we are homeschooling (besides "Is she crazy?") is "Why?".  Why did we choose to homeschool?  Well this is a question with several answers.

Firstly let me say that my husband and I have been discussing this for several years prior to making our decision and do not make it lightly.  So hear are just a few of the reasons we decided to try homeschooling:

  • I've always wanted my children to have a Catholic education, however the cost of a traditional Catholic school for all of our children for the next 12 years (per child) is NOT sustainable for us.
  • I have been educating my oldest since he's popped out of the womb. I know him the best and I know how he learns best.  He is quite advanced for his age and is interested in learning. I needed a program that I could cater to his enjoyment of learning while adequately challenging him.
  • I wanted flexibility so that we can work around my husbands works schedule as needed.
  • I hated the idea that someone (teachers, principals, etc.), who has different ideals, morals, and beliefs, would have such a big influence over my child's thinking and learning.
  • I really hated the idea of my son being away from me so many hours a day!  I can't help it!  I love being around my kids (not in a June Cleaver sort of way...I just love them)!  So sue me ;)
  • Children are growing up so quickly these days and even if I do not allow my child to watch certain shows or play video games, he will most definitely learn about them from other children.  I understand I cannot (nor do I want to) shelter my children from the outside world, however, I do want to have the say, as my child's parent, as to what outside influences my child will encounter in his very formative years.
  • I LOVE being a part of my child's learning process!  I love watching his wheels turn and I can't wait to see the sparkle in his eye when he wakes up in the morning and asks if its a school day.
  • After so many years praying about this decision, I truly feel this is part of my personal vocation!  How BLESSED am I that I get to be part of my children's lives like this!
Don't worry! I'm under no illusion that this journey will be easy or always be enjoyable!  It is a very LONG process and one that I am very willing to tweak, change and adjust along the way as we need.  Will I always homeschool?  Who knows.  But for now this is what is working for our family.  

So come along for this wild ride and let's get started!

Have you decided to homeschool? If so, what were your primary reasons for doing so?

Blessings to you and yours,

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Needing to Kneel!

Although we have been praying with our children since birth, we tend to say most of our prayers sitting down.  I recall when I was growing up the number of times, my dad made us kneel to say our rosary and how often as a young child I would fall asleep in that famous child position (on all fours with my bottom in the know the one).  So I never really pushed the "kneeling thing" with my own children.  But I finally came to the conclusion that kneeling in prayer is actually a skill that needs to be learned.  And it's one of which I have come to forget the real significance.

Sometimes life really hits us with the unexpected.  Sometimes it beats us up and sometimes we just let it.  Sometimes life smacks us hard in the face and we have no way to respond but to get down on our knees and pray.

I have to admit that before this Lent, only in mass had I been kneeling in prayer.  I find myself kneeling and crawling on the floor while playing with my children and I cannot get on my knees for our Lord, the man who carried my sins, whose heart continues to be pierced by my transgressions, the man who had to see His mother's eyes filled with excruciating pain at the foot of the cross whilst He could hardly take a breath?  Well, when I put it like that...

How quickly I seem to forget His sacrifice in my daily life!  How far removed I feel from His passion in the midst of diaper changes, meal preparations, house cleaning and laundry!  I recall the difficulty I had trying to live in the presence of Christ after a life-changing weekend retreat while continuing my daily life in college.  I remember my frustration and the great crash!  The let down on "the fourth day"!  Maybe that's just the struggle in life!  Maybe it means my life has too many distractions.  Maybe it means I need to pray more simple little prayers throughout my day.  Maybe I need more time reading the bible in the evenings.  Maybe...just maybe I need to get down on my knees.  Just a few thoughts today.

Blessings to you and yours,

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Catholic Tidbit: The Real POWER of Holy Water!

When I was pregnant with Little Bean I was so fearful of losing him after our previous loss the year before.  I remember praying desperately to our Blessed Mother to keep Bean safe and sound in my belly. Then one day I was having cramping in my stomach.  Oh no! Not again! I thoughtBut what could I do?  I ran to my bedroom and grabbed my holy water. I blessed my stomach and laid down on the bed praying all the while.  After a half hour or so, the cramping stopped and I felt in that moment the real power of holy water! 

How had I forgotten the power of holy water? Is it because we have so much access to it?  Is it simply because I have forgotten what it means when I use holy water?

We have holy water poured over our heads during baptism.  We bless ourselves every time we go in and out of church.  Last week during the Easter mass the priest spent several minutes walking around the church, sprinkling holy water on all present.  We waited diligently for our turn to be blessed.  But why?  Well it's no coincidence this happens during the mass right after we renew our baptismal vows.

Holy water is a way of our conversion (a.k.a. what other religions call "being born again").  It's the way we "wash" ourselves clean from original sin AND it's one way we continue to wash ourselves clean of our venial sins throughout our lifetime.  

Wait. What?

Oh yes!  Boy have I forgotten this little Catholic tidbit.  Every time we bless ourselves we are renewing our baptismal vows, we are undergoing a conversion and we are washing ourselves of our venial sins.  AMAZING! ASTOUNDING! ASTONISHING! 

So let this be ever present on our minds the next time we dip our fingers into the holy water basin and being "In the name of the Father...".

Blessings to You and Yours,

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday Poem!

A Good Friday Poem
By: Maria Del Duca

The betrayal with a kiss
in the garden has been made. 
In the middle of the night, 
like a thief they take him 
with clubs and swords.
Secret trial and false accusations!
Peter's third denial 
as the cock crows.
Apostles have scattered.
Where is His support?

Like a lamb to the slaughter 
He is bound and lead to Pilot.
Whipped, scourged, spat upon.
Kicked, hit, beaten, blows to the head.
Loss of half of His blood
standing there, alone.  ALONE.
"Crucify him!" yells the crowd.
The coward washes his hands
but not his soul,
of this death sentence.

Embracing the cross!
Hugging the cross!
Struggling to walk,
slowing putting one foot 
in front of the other.
Beaten, kicked, falling.
So weak.  How to go on?
He sees his mother.
His face is wiped.
He stands with Simon.
Together they drag
the cross to Golgotha!

Nails in his wrists!
Nails through his feet!
Crown of thorns pushed
more deeply in his head.
Gasping for breath.
Loosing blood.
So weak.
Pushing himself up:
"I thirst"
"This is your mother,
this your son."
"My God, my God
why have you forsaken me?"
"It is finished!"

At the foot of the cross,
a mother's heart is broken.
Tears streaming down her face,
but no words of protest
ever touch her lips.
The baby she nursed,
the toddler she consoled,
the preschooler she guided,
the school age child she taught,
the teenager with whom she shared jokes,
the man she adored and admired,
has now expired.
The light in her eyes 
has been extinguished.
Her despair is beyond belief.
A part of herself has died,
how can she go on?
Alone?  ALONE...

...until they meet again.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Parents: Washing the Feet of Others!

Happy Holy Triduum, 2015!

I was searching for a picture I could share with you without violating copyright and I found this beautiful picture on Google images (labeled for reuse and reuse with modification).  Isn't it just beautiful?!

The reason it jumped out at me from the number of other pictures I could have used is that upon a quick first glance, to me, Jesus reminded me of a woman wearing an apron.  Not because He looks like a woman, but because of how nurturing this action is.

It made me think of how often we as mothers (and fathers for those of you reading this) are washing the feet of our children, literally and figuratively.  How often we are cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, folding, organizing, teaching, mentoring, preparing, etc. for our families!  How many times a day we are thinking of ways to keep our houses going.  How many times we write those grocery lists, to do lists, up date calendars, make appointments, etc.  And every time, EVERY SINGLE TIME we do these actions for our family members we are being Jesus to them.  We are washing their feet!  

Oh how this thought lightened my heart!  To know that just through my daily hum drum actions I too can be Jesus to others?  I too can give, can provide a self-sacrifice for others?  I too can be humble just like our Lord, and our Blessed Mother who was the ultimate model of humility?  What a feeling!

So I just wanted to take a moment today, on Holy Thursday to say "thank you" to all the mothers and fathers our there "washing the feet" of their families. Thank you for being Jesus to others!

May you have a very blessed and holy, Holy Thursday!

Blessings to you and yours,

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Using the "Sacred Minutes" this Lent!

It's Wednesday of Holy Week and I'm attempting to mentally and spiritually prepare myself to participate in the Holy Triduum.  However, with a 6 month old constantly crying for my attention (he seems to be obsessed with his mama), a 4 year old continually wanting attention, time, food, snacks and playtime with mom, and a house still full of boxes to unpack from our recent move, it can be very hard to find time to prepare the way I'd like. This is really my favorite time of year spiritually.  Yet, sometimes it seems that life throws all of it's distractions at me right at the time I most want to meditate and sit in the presence of our Lord.  I guess I could do one of two things: 1) give up trying to pray and meditate in frustration and just "get through each day" or 2) I can see these distractions as my participation of Christ's passion by carrying my own daily cross and choose to use the "sacred minutes".

What? You've never heard of the "sacred minutes"?  Well since I believe I coined the phrase, I'm not surprised.  The "sacred minutes" are what I like to call the 2 or 3 minutes of silence (or relative quite) I may get several times a day when Pickle may be playing with his toys and little Bean may be distracted watching him.  Or they may be those minutes without distraction, when I'm cooking dinner, doing the laundry, cleaning the bathrooms (Ugh!), washing the dishes or even (if I'm lucky to NOT be disturbed) in the bathroom.  The "sacred minutes" when I can quietly in my heart and mind just ask the Lord to be present in my thoughts, words, and heart.  Those very few "sacred moments" when I may think of a station or  two and meditate on Jesus' way of the cross and our Blessed Mother's great sorrows.  Those "sacred moments" that can possibly even add up to 20 or 30 minutes a day, if I choose to spend my time wisely, where I can immerse myself in Christ's passion.

So today and the rest of this week, I am making this promise to myself, to the Blessed Mother, and to Jesus, our Lord, that I will not throw my hands up in frustration and give up on reaching out to Him during the day, but rather I will use my "sacred moments" and bring Him into my life, right where I am at the moment.

Hopefully you can use your "sacred moments" this week as well.

Blessings to you and yours,