Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our Homeschool Motto

I think I've found a new motto for our homeschool. I may even paint it on the wall in our classroom. It's a quote from Saint John Bosco, the patron saint of youth who is known for his wonderful work teaching and mentoring boys.

"Run, jump, make noise, but do not sin!"

And the second part will be:
 “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father" (Colossians 3:17 NLT)

Lord, give me patience... NOW!!!

Well, this is the "reflection/discernment post" I've been promising. (So if you just check in here for the cute pictures and updates on our family, you might want to skip this long, rambly one.)

First, a confession. I broke my finger because I was being impatient... and ridiculous... and not the greatest parent on the planet. You see, we were headed for a Little Saints Club activity -- a post-4th of July bike parade. Instead of having the boys help me get everything ready, I planted them in front of the TV while I loaded the bikes, helmets, decorating items, snacks, water bottles, ..... Then I had to extricate them from the TV, make them get their shoes on and go to the bathroom, sunscreen them.... It was the sunscreen that ultimately did me in. Adam was done and buckled in the car. Ray was having a fit about something and was dancing around and giving me a hard time about getting sunscreen. My hands were full of sunscreen. I had had enough. I yelled at him. I told him to come to me. He, of course, didn't. I went to grab him by the shorts so I could pull him toward me. As I grabbed for his shorts, I twisted my finger wrong. I heard it snap. I felt it break. And I didn't even get enough hold on the shorts to pull Ray to me anyway.

It was such a dumb moment. I lost my cool. I knew right away that it was broken... because I was impatient.

When will I learn?

We weren't late for a state dinner or anything. I just wanted to get to the park. I just wanted them to listen. I just wanted things done my way. (Yet I hadn't really engaged them in the process or taken the time to make the preparations a team effort.)

This is really becoming a lifelong challenge for me. I know that God wants me to practice patience. He wants me to let go of too much planning, worrying, organizing, hurrying, .... I'm always racing to the next thing and I very often miss the gift of the present moment.

My broken finger, still in it's little plastic splint, has been a consistent reminder to me of the importance of patience. When it has throbbed, itched, and made things more difficult, I have tried to offer up the discomfort in atonement for my many, many, many transgressions against the virtue of patience. I have been reflecting and praying about patience quite a bit.

This quote by Saint Francis deSales has been helpful for me:
"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them - every day begin the task anew."

Indeed, I am often impatient with others (especially my boys). But, perhaps more significantly, I am so impatient with myself. I sometimes get irritated when others aren't organized enough or fast enough, but I never expect other people to "have it all together" the way I expect myself to. My expectations ---mostly of myself --- sometimes get so far "out of whack" and I need to re-focus and reign some things in.

I continued to struggle with this "patience" issue as I helped with VBS last week. A few months ago I agreed to help with this program even though I didn't really want to. It was my own inner drive to please everyone and do everything that led me to agree to it. Then, when I experienced disorganization and lack of communication from the leaders of the program, my frustrations and impatience grew and grew. My crazy perfectionism and need to be over-organized, over-planned, over-planned, and over-prepared just added to the tension and stress.

I struggled with the question, "Why am I doing this?" I went back and forth between feeling resentful and beating myself up for not being able to say no AND feeling thankful for the gifts I've been given and the opportunity to minister in this way. Did I do VBS because I wanted to please people or because God called me to do it? My loving, wise husband helped me to see that the answer is "BOTH." He helped me see that God gifted me and called me and even equipped me for the job. I am happy with how the lessons went, but I know that in some ways I really blew it. I think I did a good job for the children, but I know I made it very difficult for God to teach me what I needed to learn.

Impatience and resentment made my heart hard. I ended up judging and complaining about others instead of whole-heartedly committing to the message of the program. I pushed myself above and beyond what was asked of me.. trying to make it look like I have it all together (as usual).

But God always has a way of getting through to the heart of the matter. Each day the simple lessons I taught to the little ones (and especially the little mishaps and adjustments that had to be made) reminded me that it's not about having it all together. It's all about Jesus... and our love for him and his love for us. He is so very patient with us. We don't need to dazzle or impress him. We just need to be here - in the present moment - with him, just as we are. He always meets me in the messy, crazy places of my life and he is always so calm and patient.

As Saint Francis deSales said, we just need to work on our imperfections patiently - again and again every day. That is what I'm trying to do. I've been praying the following prayer (which I found at -- ):

Blessed Mary, Mother of Consolation, pray with me for the virtue of patience. There are so many times when my lack of patience keeps me from becoming the kind of person God wants me to be.

Guide my thoughts to you and the example we have in your own life. Help me to become patient, as you were patient. Through your guidance, may I become more accepting of others around me. Assist me to welcome difficult times with a patient heart.

May I be patient, Mary, as was your beloved husband, Joseph. His quiet acceptance of the will of Our Loving Father should be an example for me always. His patience was most wonderful in the eyes of God.

Pray for me, dear Mother of God, that I will allow the Father to come into my heart and help me grow in patience. Amen.

And so, please pray for me. Know that I pray for you, my readers, all the time too. This Christian journey is a long and windy one. (Just like this post!) Thank God we're in it together.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

We Love Visitors!

We've been blessed with lots of visitors this week!

Jon's sister Mary Lou and her family came from Michigan to spend a few days with us. The boys especially enjoyed having their cousins here to play. They had a great time here at the house and in the yard. We all went to the playground, the art museum, and the pool as well.

Kelly and Adam were born exactly one week apart. They are great buddies. They both got a kick out of this picture from the last time they were together here at our house ---

 Shannon and Ray enjoyed playing with GeoTrax as well as playing Uno and Zoofari.
 It was really nice to have time to visit with Mary Lou and Chris.

 Later in the week my Dad and Mary rolled into town. We celebrated Mary's birthday on Thursday night. Here she is reading the book we made her for her birthday.

 Check out this colorful crew ---
(Those tongues just got done licking popsicles!)

We had a fun playdate on Friday morning!

 Dad and Mary got the boys all prepared for school by bringing them backpacks full of fresh new supplies! Now I just need to get the plans and schedules finalized.

It's been a busy, but fun week. Last night Dad and Mary babysat and Jon and I got out for a nice date night. We went to Carraba's for a yummy dinner and then we finally got to see the last movie in the Harry Potter series. We had a wonderful time.

 Today we had no visitors and were very lazy! :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Creative Endeavors

 It seems like we've been doing lots of creating around here lately. The boys have been spending lots of time drawing very elaborate "game boards" (which I think are supposed to be like video games). It's been keeping them busy, but wow has the school room been a mess! And I'm so thankful to my sister-in-law who supplies us with tons of paper and stickers. We are really using it all!

On a recent trip to our favorite teacher/art store we found this:

 They are quite fun! Yesterday Ray and I built a boat and Adam built an airplane.

 Today we had a "sand art play date" with some friends. Lots of concentrating and a big mess on the back porch, but it was fun! I forgot to get pictures of the finished products, but here are some shots of the fun:

It's so nice to have some leisure time for being creative!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekend Family Fun

So far this weekend, we've been recovering from the busy week of VBS (I took a 2 1/2 hour nap today!) and having some inside fun (It's TOO hot to be outside!).

I have to say that the boys were very patient and helpful this week during all the VBS hoopla. We went early, carried crazy boxes and bags, stayed late, etc. I wanted to thank and reward them. It happened that Adam fell in love with a stuffed cat that we used at VBS as "Moses" (from the Cat Chat CD's). He brought that cat home and slept with it each night. He really didn't want to give it back to its owner. So, on Friday night we decided to take the boys to "Build-A-Bear" to make their own stuffed animals. (The "Moses" cat came from there.) They had never done this before and it was really special. Luckily, they did indeed have exactly the cat that Adam was looking for! Whew!

Here's the new "Moses" being stuffed.
A new best buddy! He even "Meow's" when you squeeze his arm.

Moses' first "bath"

Ray choose a "peace and friendship bear." Here he is rubbing the bear's heart on his nose (?) before putting it inside.
Jon and Ray typing up "Sugarcup's" birth certificate
I wish my camera hadn't run out of juice at this point. The boys were very excited to carry their new pets in special boxes through the mall. When they got home they built little homes for the pets complete with "litter boxes" and food and water bowls.

This morning we started out bright and early, meeting our friend Susan for breakfast before she headed home to Texas. Then we met our "loony" family at the Ohio Theater for a special showing of "Looney Tunes" cartoons. (They always do a summer series of classic movies with admission only $4.00!) This was the first time the boys got to see this beautiful theater and they loved it. (We are hoping to take them to the Nutcracker there this Christmas.)

We definitely brought some "lunacy" (and our new "pets") to this beautiful historic theater!

Our loony family (plus Ava's best friend) having fun on a Saturday morning!

We spent the rest of the day resting, playing, doing some chores, and eating tacos here at home.

Tomorrow night I get to go back to the Ohio Theater to see "Gone With the Wind" for the first time! I need to go read the last few pages so I'll be ready!

Friday, July 22, 2011

VBS Wrap-Up

It's been a very busy, crazy, hot, fun week. I feel like I should have a t-shirt that says "I survived VBS!" (I settled for a margarita and dinner at Red Robin instead!) Here are some pictures from the rest of the week:

4 year olds having a "kitty cat picnic" as we learned that the Mass is a Sacred Banquet.

Saint Michael the Archangel was our "saint of the day" on Thursday.

Three year olds singing "When the Saints Go Marching In."
Check out this adorable "Saint Michael!"

We gave our hearts to Jesus.

This morning we celebrated Mass together. It's the feast day of Saint Mary Magdalene and this lovely statue graced the altar.

Today we learned that a mom can become a saint! We learned all about one of our native saints, Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Adam's group performing in the "grand finale."

Ray's group performing a high energy number! (Ray's in his favorite blue silky shorts.)

Here are most of the craft items the boys made... displayed on our prayer table.

Check out this super cool "monstrance" that Adam made! He's been telling everyone that the white circle is the "REAL BODY OF JESUS!" I guess we have a bit more catechesis to do with him! The yellow parts of this craft are actually slices of pool noodles. So great!
 Thanks so much to all of the wonderful people who made VBS happen for our children. It was a good experience for my boys and for me. Next week.... more pool time!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping Cool

It's sweltering hot here.... hottest day in four years... 96 degrees with heat index of 105! We've been at VBS every morning and then taking it easy reading and watching movies in the afternoons. I've been trying to make cool summery dinners --- BLT's, ham, corn on the cob, etc. Tonight we all went down and jumped in the pool and it felt GREAT!

I saw this posted on Facebook and I think it really puts things in perspective:

"I was going to complain about how hot it is, then I realized that: 1.) It isn't 119 degrees:) I'm not 5,700 miles from home: 3:) I'm not dressed in a full BDU uniform and helmet and carrying 70+lbs.: 4.) There is very little chance that anyone will shoot at me or that I might drive over a bomb in the road today! Thanks to all who serve."

Yes, it's hot outside. But I'm resting comfortably in an air conditioned home. Let's give thanks for those who are defending us in very difficult circumstances and let's pray for and help out those who are really suffering from the heat here as well.