Overwhelmed

How do you deal with feeling negatively overwhelmed in your daily life?
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End of the Homeschool year

We are done. So very done.

Well, maybe its just me, but I think we’ve done enough organised book-work for the 2014-2015 school year. ūüėČ

The kids all worked hard and pulled together in a couple of difficult situations throughout this year. They have all matured in their own special ways, and all of them have learned something. Here is a re-cap:

 

THE FOOTBALL PLAYER

Dad taught him how to weld this year, and the two of them are rebuilding a car from a Model A frame that Dad bought before us kids were born. The football player is also working on beginning algebra and English vocabulary expansion via reading. He finished spring season football two weeks ago, and after a few weeks of camp, he is playing during the regular season starting in late August.

THE TWEEN HIPPY-DIPLOMAT

Math, phonics, music, and science were non-issues for her¬†this year.¬†However, she started the school year doing grade 3 spelling, and she is twelve. (Disclaimer: if anyone is wanting to use this as a case against homeschooling, first go and test any publicly schooled twelve-year-old’s spelling.) We have been focusing on that as our main point. Over the past few years, Mom and I wanted her to read more, and in turn, improve her spelling.¬†In January, she read White Fang by Jack London. That did it for her! There was enough action and use of adjectives to draw her into the story and keep her excited. She went on to read the Silver Chief books and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Her spelling is coming along, and she can keep working on it over the summer.

THE TYPE-A INTROVERT

The industrious, little Cinderella of the family continues to struggle with math and reading. Last summer, she and The Debater did the 100 Days of Reading challenge (Mom’s idea). It meant that for 100 days, each kid would read aloud to Mom, Dad, The Football Player, or myself. If they completed the challenge, each of them would get twenty dollars.¬†It went well, and their reading improved steadily! After a hiatus though, she forgot a few sight words, and has difficulty shaping her sentences at all.¬†She works at it, but it doesn’t come to her as easily as it does to The Debater. She is starting to understand more of the missing number problems in math, her piano skills are coming along, and reading–well, it will come. . .

THE DEBATER

This kid could argue¬†any person to the point of insanity. He is a math and music wizard, and like the tween, has discovered a love of reading¬†(Lego idea books especially). He started the year in grade¬†1 spelling and phonics, and grade 2¬†math. He is now doing grade¬†2 spelling and grade 3 phonics and math. His struggle? Listening to directions! ūüėõ

THE PRINCESS

The youngest child in the family is only preschool age, so this year she mostly played with Barbie and her Lego set. She is starting to draw figures that make some sense. Last September I looked over her shoulder once and said, “What’s this you’re drawing? Oh, of course its a kitty, how silly of me!” She is drawing¬†pictures¬†of her siblings¬†and making Lego figures of everyone in the family. Over the summer I’ll be teaching her the alphabet and counting to 30 or so.

 

As for myself, I am still working on algebra (blech), music history, and an English course. Over the school year I took a Latin course, and it was awesome! I can hardly wait to return to it in the fall. After a few weeks of summer camp, I will be organising the kids’ school books for one final year of teaching before I leave for university in fall 2016. I am continuing to practice piano over the summer, and I have a list of over a dozen grade 9/10 pieces which I would like to tackle. For now, the garden needs weeding, the kids still need supper, laundry still needs to be folded, the kitchen needs to be cleaned, and the world still burns. Am I discouraged? Nope. Its all part of working towards sainthood and growing in love, for God and neighbor!

Belated Christmas greetings. Also, music.

As I write this, it is practically my favorite sort of December weather outside: fifteen degrees below zero (Celsius), fluffy snowflakes falling, frosty trees, and just a little breeze giving a “nip” to the air.¬†This is one of those wonderful wintery days that¬†brings classic Christmas card images to mind. The kids¬†and I will probably go sledding this afternoon, but for now I have piano to practice.

 

Ah yes, I am a pianist. This is a detail I haven’t spoken much about on the blog. I started piano (under duress) when I was five years old, and I¬†changed¬†teachers a number of times. I am currently playing Grade 9 repertoire (Royal Conservatory). Music is one of the things that gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Even listening to it can leaving me feeling refreshed, in awe, or with a new outlook on life in general. The latest piece I am working on is Mozart’s 1782 Fantasia in D Minor. Exciting, really. To God be all the glory. ūüôā

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,
 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.     Psalm 150:3-6, NIV

Homeschooling, Catholicism, and Self-Control

Well, today concludes our second full week of homeschooling. Everything has been going pretty smoothly: the kids have been pretty good at helping out with keeping the living room tidy and giving me a hand with kitchen clean up, the meals have been on time (mostly), and laundry isn’t piling up yet. The schooling part has been going well, too. The 10 year old has memorized a Tim Horton’s commercial, the 8 year old has learned that two plus four is NOT seven, the six year old has learned that lots of the male saints are shown as being bald, and the three year old has learned to make the sign of the cross. Oh yes, and they have learned a few academic things, too. ūüôā I’ve learned a few things in the past two weeks as well; and that will be the main focus of this post.

Controlling yourself can be such a pain. Yes, that’s what I learned. In the schedule that I made for our homeschool year, I wrote down that I would be waking up at 5:45 to do my own schoolwork before all of the kids woke up. Things such as this always look so much easier on paper. I found it quite hard to wake up at that time, and I still do, but knowing that there is a good reason to get up helps motivate me. I have discovered that you can still see the stars quite clearly at 5:45, so I can see part of God’s beautiful creation before moving into the business of the day. Waking up at that time also helps me to work on self-control.

Self-control, painful as it is to build up, is a great virtue. It combats most of the seven deadly sins with great effectiveness. It is especially helpful in eradicating gluttony, sloth, and lust. Once these sins have been weeded out, it becomes easier to grow in holiness and love of God. That is why self-control is so important in the life of a Christian.

Well, that’s my post for this week. Now that my life isn’t quite so busy I will be posting more frequently on here. Until the next post, God bless!

Back to the home school…

A couple weeks ago, most of the ads we heard on the radio or saw on TV and the Internet were for “back to school” stuff. All of the flyers had pictures of brightly coloured notebooks, backpacks, and pencils, along with smiling, happy children. The half page newspaper ads for the local schools show pleasant teachers and neat classrooms that have lots of colourful posters. It makes going “back to home school” seem dull or even (gasp) boring!

“No, you don’t need a new math book. Theres stuff that you can do in your sister’s old book.”
“Its time for daily Rosary.” *to which the reply is often* “Mom, do we have to pray it again?”
“No, you cannot do your schoolwork in your room.”
“No movies until the schoolwork is done and music is practised.”

I don’t know about other houses, but in my house the kids sound just like this (yes, they call me Mom, even though I’m their older sister). They dread routine, bore easily with math, and would rather be watching an episode of The Waltons that they had already seen a hundred times before. So what does one do with children like this? How will you teach them anything if they don’t want to learn? How will you get them into a routine if they hate to obey?

Last school year, we didn’t learn much because both parents were out of the house during our prime schoolwork hours; that is, 9 AM to 11:30. And after lunch, who feels like doing schoolwork? The other thing that led to our lack of schooling was the absence of routine. When I was younger I dreaded routine and hated when Mom tried to implement it in mid-October or whenever we started schoolwork. I fought with her for a long time over that one little thing. Eventually she gave up and our household has had a lack of structure and routine ever since. Earlier this year however, I realised how much more can be accomplished in a home if time is managed with wisdom. Those socks in the giant tote tub that need sorting? They can only be sorted when someone has time to do so. The mess of grocery lists, dirty dishes, small toys, and compost on the counter can only be cleaned off if someone has the time to deal with it. When one of the kids needs help with schoolwork, their mom is usually the one to help them, but she first needs to have the time to help them. This is why managing time wisely is important. In the past couple of months I have been working on the schedule that works for our family, shows a record of all the daily and weekly tasks that need to be accomplished, and is a little different each day (so that none of us are bored to death). Today, for example, was baking day. My sister and I baked a few things after schoolwork was finished, and she enjoyed it thoroughly. Plus, we now have something delicious to eat for dessert during the week.

Wise usage of time also leads to a more faith-filled home. In our house we are hardly ever able to pray as a family, and when we are, it is greeted with moaning and complaining. To fix this, I threw morning prayer and evening Rosary into the schedule in hopes that we might grow in faith as individuals and as a family. So far everything seems to be going alright. For the first couple of days the kids were complaining about morning prayer, and they still complain about praying the Rosary, but I can see that the little ones are beginning to like that short bit of time that we spend together in prayer. By praying more as a family and teaching children the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian, it shows them what prayer truly is and why we need to pray.

Well, that sums up the first little bit of our homeschool year. I will be updating this page next week (if all goes well) about self-control and the homeschooling life. Until then, take care and God bless!

Spring is here!

Spring is finally here!

Well, sort of.

We still have lots of snow outside, but the weather should be nice this week and that should clear it up.

My apologies for the lengthy absence. I truly was busy. Baby bunnies were born¬†almost three weeks ago, and¬†a thousand day-old¬†broiler chicks arrived on Thursday. Although we didn’t hatch the chicks on our own, we did have to “dip” them. Since chicks don’t know how to drink by themselves, we need to take each one of them and dip their beak in the¬†waterer to teach them how to drink. So I dipped roughly three hundred, Mom dipped about five hundred, and my brother did the rest. Good times.

In the months of May and June, schools will often book farm tours for some of their classes to come out and see the animals. Last year we had a few hundred kids visit the farm in just those two months! In July and August, there are summer camps that¬†my¬†siblings and I¬†attend. As you can imagine, it gets pretty busy, so you can expect another period of absence in blogging. I might be able to swing a couple of 11:30 blogging nights, but I’m not too sure yet.

Also, exciting news! Dr. Taylor Marshall’s blog, Canterbury Tales, is coming to WordPress! His posts are fantastic, his¬†use of analogy is witty, and he is frequently listed on Big Pulpit’s list of blogs.¬†His blog¬†will most certainly be on my list of blogs to follow and I’ll post a link as soon as its up and running.

Have a great week, and God bless!

Palm Sunday!

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Its a beautiful frosty Palm Sunday here in Alberta! We got a sizable dump of snow here in the past couple of days, and this morning the sunlight and frost on the trees truly makes you want to say, “Hosanna!”

This morning, our family went to Mass together. As usual for Palm Sunday, there is always at least one kid who feels the need to wave their palm around during Mass. Just by chance, the palms are long enough that the bigger people get poked in the eye  quite a bit. Ah well, I guess when Jesus said to let the children come, he really did mean all of them!

This week I started reading Micheal Coren’s book Heresy: The ten lies they spread about Christianity. Its a great book that refutes popular myths like these (you’ve probably heard of a few) : Christians supported slavery, Jesus never existed, Hitler was a Christian, Christians oppose science and progress, etc.,etc. And yes, this book talks about the Da Vinci Code, too. ¬†This book is a great read for anyone who wants to know how to respond when¬†a friend or acquaintance¬†is attacking the Faith. Plus, if you like Heresy, you might like Why Catholics are Right, also by Micheal Coren.

One week until Easter! If you gave up something for Lent, it will all be over next week. Or will it? Did you make a habit of staying away from the object that you gave up? Did you learn better self-control? Most importantly, did it bring you closer to Christ?

This year for Lent, my mom got me started on a weight loss and healthy eating program, in addition to 30+ minutes of exercise each day. At first I hated it, especially the exercise part (I have yet to find an exercise that I like, so for now I am walking on the treadmill)and this is why: I don’t want exercise to be my idol. I understand that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we need to take care of them; however, I don’t want¬†to focus on having a hot, gorgeous body here on earth if my soul will be starving from lack of prayer. So I decided to try combining prayer and exercise. It worked! I found that I can pray 5 decades of the Rosary in just under 30 minutes, or 10 decades in 40 minutes!

As for the healthy eating part, I have learned how to show more self-control when I am stressed or bored. Often I eat when I become stressed or bored (some people pace the floor, others bite their nails; I eat). So I came up with some activities to do instead of eating: play piano, go for a walk, crochet, sew, clean the kitchen, fold laundry, or clean the bathroom. Since the beginning of Lent, I have learned to show self-control in addition to losing 10 pounds ūüėČ

Well, time for me to get off the computer. I started a tradition of sewing Easter dresses for two of my sisters every year. I am just finishing the skirt with one of them and I am pinning the skirt and bodice together on the other one. I am hoping to have them done in time for Easter, so I really need to get to work on them.

God bless!

“There is a ‘right’, a ‘wrong’, and a world that tries to blur the line.” Micheal Coren, Why Catholics are Right

Happy New Year, My favorite websites, and how to clean up shattered ornaments

Hello world. Its been over a month since my last post, so if you are following my blog right now, I thank you for your patience. Really, I do. The past month has been quite busy and I haven’t had the time (or the energy) to tell the world about my crazy life, but hopefully in 2013, I will be a bit more frequent in my writing.

This year has been an interesting year for me. Here are a few of the things that I have learned in the past 366 days:

1. Toddlers are smarter than you think.

If you are the parent of a toddler, then you probably know what I mean. My 2 year old sister is trouble, but in public she is a cute little angel, of course. Plus, she is smart. During the Rosary, we often list our intentions just before praying the first decade, and my little sister has become quite diligent at naming the two neighbor kids that she wants to pray for. Faith comes in all sizes.

2. When walking with God, He will surprise you……..

This spring, my Dad decided¬†to build a bed and breakfast in our field. I know,¬†I thought it sounded like Noah and the¬†Ark, too, but I think it was one of those decisions that most of us¬†don’t understand, but the one who is making it knows it inside and out. It seems that God is this way, too. Often¬†He will do things that we cannot comprehend, but eventually all¬†is revealed¬†in time.

3. How to clean up shattered ornaments.

A couple weeks before Christmas, I was at home with¬†all of my younger siblings (while Mom and Dad were at work) and it was our job to decorate the Christmas tree. As the saying goes, “while the cat is away the mice¬†will play”. ¬†Oh joy! Anyways, I was having a bit of a stressful day already, and then (gasp) I dropped a glass ornament on the concrete floor. So first, I went in the kitchen to get a piece of chocolate. Chocolate always helps ūüėČ . Then, I prayed that the 2 year old would not step in the glass while I was getting the broom. Thankfully, she didn’t. Praise the Lord!

BONUS: 4 of my favorite websites for faith and family.

LifeSiteNews

I have been reading the LifeSiteNews daily update for almost as long as I’ve had an email account. No joke. They have great articles on topics such as faith, family life, abortion, and homosexuality. They show what the Catholic Church’s position is on such topics while exposing stories that are not typically found in mainstream media.

National Catholic Register

The National Catholic Register is a faith focused website that has articles concerning matters of faith, recent canonisations and beatifications, and news concerning the Holy Father, the Pope. I particularly enjoy the witty commentaries by Simcha Fisher or Jennifer Fulwiler.

LifeNews

This site is quite similar to LifeSiteNews, but it has a few more political articles that deal with the US government. It has controversial stories about abortion and the many evils that accompany it. The articles are well written and very clear.

Catholic Answers Forum

This is a website that I discovered about three weeks ago, but it has¬†already become my favorite website out of all of these. Basically, you sign up and you can ask questions¬†to the other members, or if your question is a question of faith, you can ask an apologist! Plus, you can choose from hundreds of groups to join, from purity groups to rock music groups to Scapular groups. I consider this site Facebook for Catholics¬†ūüėȬ† If you want¬†to find me on there, I’m listed as CruceSignati.

Well, I think I have put in my two cents for the day. God bless you all, and have a Happy New Year!!!

Me: A part-time mom?!?!

One thing that I forgot to mention on my About page is that I’m a part-time mom. Yes, thats right, a part-time mom.

Since my Mom works two days/week, and Dad is often outside constructing a two-storey bed and breakfast (more on that later), that leaves me as mother, babysitter, cook, baker, house-cleaner, and laundry folder for 5 kids. Ugh.

This morning’s hassle: the girl-song boy-song debate.

How this works: if there is a pop song that is sung by a male artist, and one of my sisters starts to sing it, then one of the boys will yell,”BOY SONG!!!” Then the two year old girl will say,”NO! GIRL SONG!!”

“NO! BOY SONG!”

“NO! ITS A GIRL SONG!!”

This morning it escalated to the point that 8 year old¬†Rebekah burst into tears because her 12 year old brother Steven was yelling at her. How do I, a 14 year old “mother”, deal with this? Sigh.

First, I called Dad on his cell phone (thank God for the person who invented the cell phone). Dad talked to Steven and told him to quit antagonizing his sisters. Then, I called Mom at work, and put her on speaker phone so that all the kids could hear her. She told them that if they have enough energy for fighting, then they have enough energy for pulling dead plants out of the garden. Aaaah, the wisdom of my mother.

Anyways, after that problem was solved, I thought about folding the 5 baskets of laundry that await me upstairs. Just when I was about to go upstairs, Naomi (the two year old girl) started screaming in the spare room. Turns out she snapped her finger in the mouse trap.

And its only 11:02 AM. Sigh. ūüôā

My funny brother

My 5 year old¬†brother Adam is a funny kid. He’s funny and religious. Here are a few things he has said in the past few days:

  • “Uh-oh, Rachel (one of his older sisters) didn’t put her plate in the dishwasher. She is gonna go to Hell.”
  • (After saying his second Hail Mary when we were praying a Rosary): “Jesus is awesome.”
  • (Wondering which girl to marry): “Christina, I don’t know if I should marry Jennifer or Ava. I can’t marry both, right?”
  • A priest that we know asked Adam if he was¬†going to be a priest when he grew up. Adam said,¬†“No! I’m going to be a police officer.”

Right now, Adam is in the living room with 3 of his sisters who are singing songs from Phantom of the Opera (their latest obsession) and playing dress-up. If he remains un-scarred from all these weird little quirks, I will count it as a miracle.