University Life!

Well, I moved out and have been living in a university residence for four weeks now. The homeschooler is alive and in fact, thriving! I’ve certainly learned a lot in the past few weeks, about myself, my family, school, city life, and people in general.

#1.  Homeschooling can prepare you for life ‘in the real world’.

September 7th dawned bright and sunny, and the whole of creation seemed cheerful that morning. I was feeling anxious, though. It was my first day of school. Ever. With the exceptions of a driver’s ed course and giving a presentation to some fourth graders on composting, I had never even set foot in a classroom before. So as I left the residence, I recalled Julie Andrews singing “I Have Confidence” in The Sound of Music and by the time I reached my first class, I was feeling much better. This ‘real school’ thing is not as hard as I thought it would be, and all 6 of my courses are going very well now.

Because I have some dietary restrictions I opted not to eat at the cafeteria. So that means buying my own groceries and cooking for myself on top of school. Good thing I have lots of practice in this area! Cooking for the family over the past four years has certainly paid off. Grocery shopping and budgeting are not new to me, but I am still learning to check flyers for savings, use the store rewards card, and avoid impulse buys. The nearest grocery store is a 15 minute walk from my residence, so I can combine exercise and errands into one trip.

Learning to manage my time throughout my high school years was the biggest blessing in disguise. Although it was difficult at the time, it prepared me for living on my own and university life. In high school I used a study technique called the Pomodoro technique. I do 25 minutes of studying/writing/reading, take a 5 minute break, and repeat. A few hours of studying go by very quickly this way. I can complete projects way before the deadline if I manage my time and exercise self-control. Weekends are my time to catch up on laundry, cook for myself, or spend some time with friends, which leads to my next point…

#2.  Have a support system.

There is no way I would be coping so well if it weren’t for the support of my friends here in the city. My family lives 3 hours away, so Mom has been texting me often to make sure I’m doing alright and sometimes the fam-jam will call me or Skype message me because they miss me quite a bit. This contact with them is great, but it doesn’t replace real life contact. Thankfully, I’ve got friends here in the city and in the past few weeks, we’ve gone for walks, had coffee at various shops, gone swing dancing, went for a beer after Adoration, and sat on a park bench watching the sun set and the city lights come on. This support system has kept me optimistic and I know that no matter what struggles I face, I am not alone. 

#3.  Prayer life is vital.

vital:  adj, essential to or supporting life; necessary to existence. From the Latin vita meaning life. 

Indeed it is. When planning out my day, I set aside 45 minutes for prayer in the morning. Angelus, morning offering, Rosary, and some time in silence can be fit into this block. I find that this time in prayer is a good way of preparing for the day and fortifying myself through God’s grace. I feel WAY better when I start my day like this. Because of my class schedule, I can’t make it to daily Mass, but I try to go to Mass or Adoration at some point between Monday and Friday. I need to recharge and be filled by my Savior.

That’s all I have for reflection now. Praise God for all the blessings He has given me! Not everything has been perfect, but His love endures and overcomes even the greatest sorrows. Remember that He loves you and nothing can separate you from that love!

 

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. 😉

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! 😛

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!

A Better Lent Than Last Year

Over at The Catholic Gentleman, Mr. Guzman has a post on 7 Ways To Have A Good Lent. Check it out, cause it is solid awesomeness. Also on that page is a link for a worksheet, which can help you make … Continue reading

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. 🙂

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. 🙂 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 😉

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 😉 . 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 😉  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!!!