Catholic Homeschooling

Education Crisis? No surprise here.

 One thing that really makes me glad that we decided to homeschool is hearing about what children in schools are actually doing.

Right now my son is diagramming sentences. Yes, I know this is cruel. The Random Yak has a wonderful post about her child’s history assignment. While I will freely admit that creativity and personal expression are wonderful things for a child to learn I am with the Yak on her assessment of this assignment.

We have just finished the New Kingdom of Egypt and I am really, really looking forward to Greece. We have reading, art projects and even a field trip to the museum planned. But nothing so creative as making postage stamps. We will be doing a good bit of memorization and history reports that will be sadly heavy on writing about historical facts .

Interestingly the Anchoress (yes, yes I read her frequently) writes about the SAT’s essay portion:

“ Like so much of post-modernist bunk, students can meet the trick if they simply learn “the form” of a thing without learning its function or substance.”

I can’t help but wonder what “Yak the younger” and classmates will be seeing on their SAT’s. I shudder to think they might actually be writing paragraphs about how math problems make them feel for the math portion and doing creative brain-storming collages for the verbal section. If you think that is alarmist you need to take a look at my High School Freshman daughter’s Algebra Text.   Is it really any surprise that schools are having trouble educating our children?  It is as though they have forgotten what it means to be educated.



In praise of Simple White Dishes


I find that simple useful things usually have a great deal of beauty to them. Today I am singing the praises of simple white dishware, the kind you can find almost anywhere, stoneware, solid, usually creamy white in basic shapes. It is inexpensive, easy to clean, usually dishwasher and microwave safe and sometimes even oven safe. The essence of kitchen simplicity

But, its boring. Yes, sort of. If you are the type who has to have something colorful and exciting then I suppose they are sort of boring. Fiestaware or something might be your choice. But for me I like the simplicity of white.

Since you can find them anywhere they are very easy to replace. The five year old dropping a plate will not be a tragedy. White also makes for easy cleanup. Even a young child can learn to wash a dish. Unadulterated white makes it easy to see that a through job has been done.

On the flip side I love fine china. There is something really nice about having dinner on fine plates. I have three patterns that I collect when I have the chance. These are items that bring a good deal of pleasure to me, one set has been handed down from my father’s mother and the other are just two sets I love. My hope is that my daughters and granddaughters will also love them.

But for everyday use nothing beat those nice little white stoneware dishes.



Mary Mary and Martha

and Holy is His Name

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:26-38



When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Luke 1:41-55


Today is a wonderful feast day. The Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. I have never been one of these “Marian” Catholics. I used to view it as more a cultural thing I guess, but slowly I am learning. “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? “ I don’t know, she sort of sneaked on me when I wasn’t looking and surprised me.

Part of this has no doubt been the Manificat. It is such a perfect prayer illustrating the majesty of God and his benevolence to those who are humble of spirit. So now I find myself sort of drawn to Mary, I see so much wisdom in her now that I missed before. Conversion is a path we walk, somewhere along the way I discovered that Mary was there helping me along.


Saturday Round the Web Round-up

Saturday Round the Web Round-up



But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

Something that really sucks:   The Catholic Housewife has been in search of a new vacuum.  Yes, it is the new model of my own “old blue”.

Something on the back of the car: Dr Helen and bumper stickers by way of The Anchoress.  This had me laughing, the comments are a lot of fun  I love reading bumper stickers, but really don’t feel  like telling the whole world my opinions so my car has none.  That might seem contradictory considering this blog which is essentially my opinions, but there is something very different to me between sharing opinion on a blog where people come of their own free will and fosting that same opinion on the people in the car behind me.   But that might just be me. 

Something Homeschool:  Not sure how I missed this site before:  Many good links to other good resources.

Something Veggie: My children have been enjoying  Veggie Tale fun online.

Something Beautiful:  I found a wonderful site for art online Artcyclopedia.


Spring cleaning part 2

I will admit that I have a horrible problem cleaning for extended periods of time. One part of this stems from my inability to pay attention to anything boring and the other is that when I am bored I have a tendency to be very distractible. Thus I will start cleaning the kitchen – say cleaning off the top of the fridge, I find a battery that belongs in the pantry and while there I see a dog leash that needs to be in the closet where my husband has left the book he just finished and that needs to be on the book shelf, which is disorganized so I start straightening it out… and “Oh, cool there is this book I thought I had lost”, and the next thing I know it is two hours later and I am sitting in the dinning room thumbing through a book from when I went through RCIA and the top of the fridge looks just like it did at the start…. minus one battery.

Three things I have found to be very simple and affective in helping this. First is to occupy my mind while my hands are working. This is amazingly simple. Audio books, the radio, listening to the children read their lessons, talking with my teen daughter. It all works. The goal is to make whatever I am listening to engaging enough that I don’t get lost wondering about something and end up on the computer reading about the crusades or some such thing.

The second magic bullet is a timer. I run a small home-based business writing code for websites. If you want to migrate a site over to a CMS, need an LMS, want a calendar or catalog on your website I’m your girl. Databases and custom PHP are my thing and there is always something new to learn. Typical to the nerd I am I hyper-focus. This means I sit down to write one or two little functions and four hours later I look up and say “Oh, crap, I haven’t started dinner. Did I have lunch? Did the children have lunch — where are the children?” The timer helps stop that, it also helps on the other end. If I have the timer set for 20 minutes I will actually stay in the kitchen cleaning off the top of the fridge… after all it is only 20 minutes and then I can do something more interesting.

Last, but not least by any means is the LIST. Lists are great for me. I like the feel of checking things off as they get done. I have lists of things that need done and lists of how to do thing. Some lists are long term others are “to do today” sorts of list. So cleaning the kitchen turns into printing out my “clean the kitchen checklist”, giving the eight-year-old his reading, and setting the timer for 20 minuets. I might not get the entire list down, but I will definitely do more than putting away one battery.


Blogs I Know

How Did I Get There Again?

There is one thing I find over and over again while reading Catholic Homemaking, Catholic Homeschooling and Catholic women’s blogs You are always only three clicks away from some seriously out there sola scriptura site or protestant woman’s site or group.. I do not mean that someone is linking to “Oh my goodness this is out there” either. What I mean is one lady will blogroll a site who will link something like “Ladies Against Feminism” or “Joyce Meyer”.

I have noticed that sites dedicated to liturgy, politics, apologetics and the like do not suffer from this problem nearly as much. I tend to think this might be because there is a wider range of Catholic voices on these topics and there is a rather narrow range of Catholic voices that are homeschooling, stay-at-home, Catholic moms. We tend to draw on non-Catholic reasourses more because of this. I suppose it is a form of plunder. Going in reading what isn’t objectionable, and putting to use that which is good hoping to leave the rest behind. But it does lead to some interesting time wasting in the afternoon when you end up at a site that is advocating that girls not spend too much time in acquiring an education because… well you know the BIBLE doesn’t have any good verses about women being programmers, historians, or graphic developers… no the Bible only lists midwifery and household servants as good jobs for woman. I wonder why men aren’t held to the same “Biblical” standard….. but I digress.  Honestly a reader is more likely to browse into a completely secular site, but those bother me less somehow. So my promise to you, Dear Reader, any time I link to a site that is not Catholic I will do my best to forewarn you.

Saturday Round the Web Round-up

Saturday Round the Web Round-up

Saint Patrick 

 Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For: “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears turned to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against evildoers.” 
! Peter 3:8-12

In honor of Saint Patrick‘s Day:

Something   About St Patrick:  Amy Wellborn has put together a wonderful piece on this beloved Saint.

Something from Ireland:  “.. set up to promote and support the work of the Catholic Church in Ireland and abroad on the World Wide Web. Its aim is to ensure that the positive initiatives being taken by members of the Church in Ireland have a dynamic and attractive forum on the web and other modern media. Its goal is apostolic, to support people in the living of their Catholic faith, to reach out to those who may have drifted away and to be a source of information and inspiration for those who do not believe and are searching.”

 Something Celtic:  If you ever wondered about Celtic Crosses or just like to look at them Walker Metalsmiths  has and interesting page about them.

Something Yummy: Irish Soda Bread I add a teaspoon or so of caraway seed.   The Anchoress also has some recipes that look really good.  Check them out.
The Grotto Monestary
Someplace Green and Beautiful: If you are ever in Portland, Oregon The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother  is a beautiful place to visit.


Spring cleaning

Lent is a good time to work on spring cleaning. I find myself in more of a mind to let go of things, to start new and to refocus.

My household is a busy place. I have a small homebased business, we have five children in the household and one who is in a residential placement, we homeschool and we are not naturally “stuff-organized” to start with. Our normal decorating style is “tornado just blew through”.

Enter Lent. I look around my home and think “something has to change”. I think this about once a fortnight, but Lent seems to give it a bit of added importance. Cobwebs need to come down, out grown clothing needs to be sorted for storing or donation, toys, books, papers, art supplies, kitchen gadgets all beg for attention.

There are many good organizational resources online if you are looking for a starting place search for “home organization” or “homemaking” a very popular site is “Flylady” I find the Flylady annoying, but I have friends who just swear by her methods. In all honesty her approach is very sound, but all those emails and the constant marketing of the latest “Fly thing” bugs me and it is a wee bit touchy feely for me… I don’t need to learn to finally love myself, I love myself just fine, thank you, but housekeeping is a bit overwhelming for me.

Our most pressing housekeeping issue is stuff. We just simply have to much. We have too many clothes, too many toys and – though it seems impossible – too many books. Storage isn’t a huge issue for us, we have plenty of space, but stuff is.

I am working on my Lenten Organization and Spring Cleaning plan. As I complete sections I will post them here in case anyone else finds them useful (and for easy reference for myself of course)



Can One be too Modest?

Picking up here where I left off Monday. I heard a snippet on the radio not long ago about modesty. The two most surprising things were that the spot was not talking about modest of dress per say but of modest as a whole and it was on a secular station. In reading a little bit more I found this article at webMd which discusses modesty as declining in an age where the cultural norm is to be assertive and self-promoting. I am actually very disappointed in the article. It neither describes the dangers of immodesty nor does it really sell modesty. Worse it attributed lack of modesty to a lack of self-esteem and advises “moderation” in modesty.. which seems sort of like advising moderation in health. Moderation is a manifestation of the virtue of temperance. One could be self-effacing, but but that is not modest at all.