Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Project October: Day Seventeen: Homeschool Planning and Morning Time (Relax! Enjoy!)

Every Sunday night, I gather my planning materials (planner, pen, homeschool books, etc) and grab a cup of hot tea, and I sit down to plan out our week.   I enjoy this time and it helps me not to forget the various appointments we have coming up.  I check what we accomplished the week before, and I take note of any last minute grocery needs coming up.

Homeschool has been an interesting adjustment, as we just started this fall.  We are very excited about falling in love with reading again. One thing I try to do is enjoy being around kids. I see Stephen feeling relaxed and I see him enjoying them and encouraging them constantly. This is my mindset as I go about a day with kids. (He teaches math and science and his vibe is ... actually really positive). Yes there are rules, but there is also a WHOLE lot of joy.  Read-aloud time is a wonderful, grounding experience in our everyday. I chug caffeine like nobody's business... ha :) Reading lists and booklists make me very happy! The difficult part is transferring this passion to my kids without getting in a headachy hissy fit by the end of the day!

I have learned to adjust my standards (read: Lower them) in order to just enjoy the day and my kids. I have learned not to push them so hard that they are dragging their feet and/or bursting into overwhelmed tears. Teaching reading and a child to read for the very first time is no joke, and teaching 5th grade history is no joke, either! God's Word is my centering grace and I find through Jesus and the saints the ability and the energy to do what needs doing each day.

Ingenuity has taught me... just kidding. Good planning has taught me that we don't need ingenuity to accomplish a good homeschool day. There are no magic formulas or amazing tricks for getting all that we want to accomplished finished by the end of the day.  Offering up our suffering (such as getting sick this week-UGH) is another route by which we can go about our daily life.  Sometimes life doesn't go as planned, and I have to give up on my go-to's and all of my survival hacks and just live in the moment until it passes. (And listen to good music. And pray rosaries galore).

God's grace surprises me each day and each week, and although the feeling of surrender is bitter at times, the reward tastes sweeter than honey.  We started horseback riding and Molly has finally found something she feels very passionate about!!  I have been waiting for this moment, and now I just get to fan the flame and feed the fire, and it is a lot of fun.  Going out to the horse farm is a grounding feeling and--- how can I say this without depending on and falling back on a cliché ? It is a breath of fresh air.  Thanks be to God.  I also can't write this without saying how grateful we are that our parents watched our kids while we went to San Fran and will watch them again next time we go for a Christmas party with some of Stephen's co-workers.

Here are some go-to mantras:

You Do You (by this I don't mean "I'm ok, you're ok" I mean: you have limitations, you are not all knowing, you may be young or old...)
Go About Your Business (you have daily work that is yours' alone, no one can do that work for you)
Relax! Enjoy! (God wants peace for his people... I have 6 kids 10 and under... I will give myself grace because HOLY COW...)
God's not done with me yet (nor you)
Read critically, read widely: (just because you read something, that doesn't mean you condone all that it contains or the bias/viewpoint/worldview therein)
Fear God, keep his commandments- (the apocrypha says, "If you want to be wise, fear God.")
God's grace extends into the world- (There are plenty of temptations in this world. Nothing is off limits- there are things that can be used for good or evil- they can be a source of condemnation or redemption, depending on how you use them. Take refuge in God and in High art.  Take refuge in the sacraments and scriptures, when dealing with sin and temptation.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Project October: Day Sixteen: Words from St. Stanislaus

We had some friends of Polish descent in D.C. The Dad was in the grad program with Stephen at CUA.  They named their first born son Stanislaus and called him Stash. Pronounced "Stahsh." I honestly think that is such a cool name, and I'm tucking it away for future ideas! I remember the first time they had us over for dinner. Laura made steak-frites (homemade french fries and steak) and I saw tons of games on their shelves. I was impressed to learn that they were really big into playing Settlers of Catan and Chess together as husband and wife. Laura also goes down in history as the person who said to me, "I think the coolest thing about being Catholic is that I can 'go get some Jesus' any time I want!" --and I remember thinking, "Someday, I'm going to understand what she means!!!"

Recently ,we read the Saint of the Day reading in Lives of the Saints after dinner. We encourage our children to be saints, but not necessarily to become martyrs who die a violent death.  If the saint has a violent death, we omit any  gory details related to that so as not to spook them. Kinda keeps the water a little more still. Ya know? ;)  lol :) 

This reading of saints' lives is now something our kids have come to expect every single night, and wouldn't you know, Madeleine reminds us when we forget now!

April 11 is the Feast Day of St. Stanislaus. Because of our connection to this name, I was intrigued!

St. Stanislaus:  Patron Saint of Poland.  I'm tempted to just quote the entirety of the reading, but instead, I will attempt to describe and paraphrase the story of this saint to you.

He was born into fortune. He studied as a Jesuit in Paris. He returned to Poland, as Priest, and was soon made Bishop. As the Bishop of Poland, he confronted the King for his wrong ways. When the King of Poland would not reform his ways, St. Stanislaus excommunicated him from the Catholic Church. 

As St. Stanislaus was praying in a little chapel, the King of Poland entered with some guards. He asked the guards to murder Stash right there in the chapel, and when they wouldn't do it, the King murdered him with his own hands.

A quote from his life is " I want Christ. I want eternity. I was born for greater things."

Perhaps, God was bringing this saint into my mind to give me comfort at that moment.  Sometimes, blogging can be hard because we are jealous. We see the high reels of others' lives, and we in turn feel inadequate. The jealousy makes me think it isn't worth it. But sometimes, it is the mean and the hurtful online are worse- they are what make me want to all but disappear from social media channels. I could honestly say " I quit right now" on so many days, due to a hurt ego and my hurt pride.

But perhaps on the other side of the screen, behind the appearance of a Mom who has it all together, that Mom who would to tell me to quit? Perhaps she is or was struggling with something. Perhaps my comments to her brought up her pride. Perhaps she was looking down on me because in her spiritual blindness, she could not see her own offenses.

Sometimes, our involvement on the internet is a little one-sided. We want more followers, more comments, more pageviews. But then, when we get it, it's hard not to feel a little superior. But would we really act that way in our own living rooms, with the people we are really with in person?  Would we count likes? Would we try to gather followers in our own homes? Recently on a podcast I heard: Jesus only had 12 disciples. But did he ever stop to count his likes, followers, friends, and #tweets? As I recall, Jesus told us to count our apologies.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?"

Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven."

 (70 x 7) Perhaps the reason for online rudeness or competitiveness- and dare I mention- lacking in common courtesy at any opportunity- is rooted in pride or the desire for acceptance and followers. Possibly, people can simply become blind to the ways we miss the entry to heaven that's the size of the eye of a needle, because our own desire for acceptance is camel-sized! ;)  For a lack of true community, deliver us Jesus.

And as one last thought for you on this beautiful day: perhaps it is not autonomy or independence that we lack in our culture. Perhaps it is the virtue that must go hand in hand with work and affluence.

This post was originally published on May 17, 2016

Monday, October 15, 2018

Day Fifteen: Good Things {Books} Coming Out of Great Britain

Though intimidated, I was hoping to get some Britishness into my repertoire last month, with the books Calypso, The Keeper of Lost Things, and 84 Charing Cross Road. Readers well know I always shoot from the hip, right?  Well that said, I don't have time not to be honest.  84 Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff just was not what I was expecting.  But Tacy, you are a reader and writer!  Don't all bibliophiles and bookish marms love this book?  What is with rejecting a poesy of the intersection between American and British book collectors and their shared love of story???  It's not that I hated it per say.  It's just nothing like I was expecting.  The tone seemed to be about books for books themselves, not for what they actually contain. (You'd have to read them to know what they contained, my friend!!! Morals or no? How would you know?.... :)

I read it juxtaposed with two other British books - The Keeper of Lost Things and Calypso. Of all the Britishness that was conjured in my brain, Calypso was far and away the best.  By far and a long ways away.  Now I know David Sedaris isn't originally from England.  I'm not really sure how his writing has become more lustrous since living there, because I haven't read enough of his other books.  But I do know one thing.  It has one of the best rating of all of his books. Read it.

Can I gush Sedaris for a minute? Yes? Ok? thank you.  I will.

David Sedaris
David Sedaris
David Sedaris

Is gushing his name enough?

He is just so chock full of jokes and he has honed each and every story that he tells, all from his personal life, in such a  heartfelt way to make them even more hysterical, without becoming repetitive or formulaic. He is fortunate to be around hilarious people in his everyday life - namely, his family and his partner Hugh.... Poor Hugh!!! Everything about his essays just screams, "I love being a writer."  "I write for pleasure." "I know my art form, and I do it because I love my art form and it has found me and I will do its bidding."

As I found with two of his book sin the past, Sedaris is more than a writer. He is an artist.  At times inappropriate, at times outlandish, he takes the feelings, moods, and longings of his life, and instead of spilling everything, he hones and crafts and picks apart emotions and he tells tales that inspire laughter and joy, and very little self-pity.  And I just sit there and laugh, and laugh, and laugh out loud.  And then I rifle around with my other books and I try to find that joy again, and often I am disheartened because it is nowhere else to be found.

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan was delightfully wordy and verbose, yes.... I got that. Cultivated and courteous, and transporting you to Brighton, yes. Anthony Peardew is a collector of lost objects, and each object has a history and a story.  These are collected with hopes to alleviate his own loss, as well as eventually return these items to their rightful owners. With all of the stifling dusty stuff, I wouldn't say I found the story particularly honed and polished.

If you want an interesting premise with a sparkling setting, and a more entertaining vibe, if you are looking for a writer's writer, someone who will inspire you to look deeper, love more broadly, and laugh more deeply, look no further than Sedaris for gleaming prose. I've said it once and I'll say it again. Sedaris is funnier than you. I'm not trying to make a statement. I just believe in this writer and truly wish the best for him, because he astonishes me and I am a student of the week his work.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Project October: Day Fourteen: Quotation Sunday + Recap

Annabel's baptism

While working in the yard with my kids, I heard Madeleine and Anders talking while playing with snails and ladybugs and shoveling dirt into piles and digging holes (that I would later refill).   I was planting grass seed and suddenly they pipe up...

Madeleine: Frances calls this our "dig site."
Anders: Frances doesn't know everything, just cuz she's older than us.
Me: I don't know everything either, Anders.
Madeleine: Doesn't Daddy know everything?
Me: No...
Madeleine: But, God knows everything. And H e has us in his hands.
Anders: {Picks up a caterpillar} And this is a treasure!!!

They both started laughing and then singing "He's got the whole world in his hands," so, I call that a good morning.  haha. They're legitimately hysterical sometimes. Out of the mouth of babes...

See my other posts in this series. Here are the 6 posts that I wrote from this past week:
Day Eight: Now Streaming on Netflix~ Maniac
Day Nine: Gilmore Girls and What it Can Teach Us About Marriage
Day Ten: Personality Typing With Gretchen Rubin
Day Eleven: Why I Read a Book a Week
Day Twelve: A Good Playlist
Day Thirteen: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

#write31days is a link-up hosted here

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Project October: Day Thirteen: Born a Crime

While we were in San Francisco last month, I finally read Born a Crime by Trevor Noah after hearing so many good things about it.  It seemed like every time I turned around, good reviews were popping up.  I'm so glad I finally read it, because I give it an easy 5 stars.

Why did I like this book and feel I can recommend it?

Microcosm of the Civil Rights Movement

Know thyself is an important proverb, but self-awareness is the hardest lesson to come by.  Looking at the apartheid in South Africa is like looking at a subset of American racism.  To every instance, I could compare the changing of the laws and the mishaps and adventures as applied to a collective African American existence.  However, you can see it with the clarity of an objective situation.

Real stories from a real life

Trevor Noah is honest and never shies away from the truth, even if it makes him vulnerable, salty, or just very, very human.  I loved the tone of this book, which I think is so hard to come by from books coming out right now that have a bit of spice.  He is able to stay grounded with a grown-up perspective throughout his misadventures, and it is certainly springing from an awesome personality and a wonderful childhood with a wonderful mother.

South African American Perspective

Spoiler alert *but not really* Trevor Noah ended up in the U.S. and works as a comedian on Comedy Central late night TV.  I appreciate the overall perspective because it isn't tied down to South Africa.  Coming to the U.S. really rounded out his viewpoint and I enjoyed seeing where his wisdom landed at the time of writing this book.

Humorous Political Commentary

Trevor Noah didn't just study the politics of racism, rather, he lived it.  His daily life as a child (and as he grew up with stories of adolescence and young adulthood) was written inside the bonds of apartheid and a deeply divided country.  Because this situation is so much more recent than the end of slavery in the U.S., it is still and fresh and moving topic to learn about.

Great Storyline

Amidst the drama of family life, I wasn't sure Noah would pull off a satisfying, deeply wrought plotline, but OH BOY HE DID.  I told Stephen Iwasn't sure what to expect from this book, but as I finished it I was like, HOLY SHIT this did not disappoint. In the least.  He has seen some bullcrap and it makes the book shine fantastically.

The next time you are in a bookstore (I love to visit local bookstores whenever I travel- pure bliss) you may want to pick this one up.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Project October: Day Twelve: A Good Playlist

Here is a list of a recent mixed tape I made (I'm joking, it was a spotify playlist).

 I've been having technical difficulties this morning, so I apologize if there is anything wonky going on.  Here is the full list of titles:

Fleet Foxes: White Winter Hymnal
First Aid Kit: Stay Gold
Joseph: SOS
Ben Folds: Annie Waits
Death Cab for Cutie: A Movie Script Ending
Indigo Girls: Galileo
Portugal the Man: Sea of Air
Nickel Creek: Reasons Why
Elliot Smith: Needle in the Hay
Daft Punk: Get Lucky
Moby: Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad
Jack Johnson: Flake
Mipso: Hurt So Good
Counting Crows: A Long December

All of the font typos from the other posts this week were accidental and I could not tell blogger to sync up my fonts no matter how I tried. :(  I will try to come and edit to add the html player!

Have a great day, all. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Project October: Day Eleven: Why I Read a Book a Week

October Booklist :)

Writing down the number of books I read is the best practice I have ever adopted.  It really is! Let's just think about that for a minute. ever. ! I mean, I'm trying to find the strongest language I can, because I know there is no way I can emphasize how important it has been for me. Last year, my goal was to read 50 books. To be honest, this was a whole lot of reading for me!  (When I compare myself to others who read upwards of 12 books a month, I'm embarrassed... although I know that when the kids are out of the house someday, I will have enough time to read that many books...!) I have always been a bookworm, but I was a somewhat lazy bookworm. And I never, ever wrote down, or really kept track of how many books I had read.  This year, I am aiming for 55 books.

Like I said, I have always read a lot- I was an English major in college- and I joined book clubs and took elective classes at a Community College post-graduation. I participated in many a church group, where reading spiritual books certainly played an essential role. Reading is my favorite hobby, because you can take the girl out of the English Lit building, but you can't take the English Lit building out of the girl.  I wasn't a graduate of a fancy shmancy institution for nothing! And being an English major is such a big part of who I am, it is probably a bigger deal than I let on, because let's face it: I approach everything in life from the English major perspective. Is there a book I can read about that?  Could I study that in a book club at some point?  Will reading this help me to articulate something better, or will it help me to process, understand, or identify better with some situation or some person better?  Oh, yeah, and there's also that desire to be entertained. ;)

BUT... I never stopped to really keep track or start counting the books I read, until last year.  Honestly the blogosphere, or the community of which, has thoroughly heightened my love for reading. My blogging friends and acquaintances have given me more impetus to complete books and achieve my personal reading goals than anything I’ve experienced in the past! Blogging is kind of crazy-cool like that. :-)~  I think it's the reader/writer connection.  The inspiration I’ve found has certainly bled into my life. I started hunting down books that inspired me, books that I wanted to read for the sake of my depleting (or was it growing?) ignorance, and finding answers to questions that plagued me.  Reading inspired a writing life, as well. As it should so follow.  And that's not something I’m ready to give up any time soon! So, onward, of course!

Why Do I Read a Book a Week?

~Finding out my passions~
Reading has been so good for finding out what I am passionate about. I didn’t know I how thoroughly interested I was in the British royalty and history until I read The Royal We. I started doing more research online to understand the terms and ideas I didn’t previously know about. I didn’t know Einstein’s life would fill me in on the political atmosphere and climate of Germany in the midst of WWII.  I didn’t know I cared thoroughly and was completely fascinated by the culture of our country during the  Civil War until I read Lincoln.   But I have learned so much, and I want to read more about these fascinating, if difficult, subjects.  I feel my mind only expands when I pick up books about other cultures, even those within the four walls of our country. Ha :)

I have been so pleased with how doing more reading has affected my brain and my ability to process information. Also, I feel better equipped to discuss ideas aloud (mostly with Stephen, but also with friends and acquaintances). Perhaps next year, I’ll read even more.  I know it seems that I could be tempted to read JUST to be able to say I read it, and in a sense, you could say that’s the truth. But in actuality, that is too simple. And in a way, it’s simply not the truth. I don’t travel just to say I’ve been somewhere. I travel because I want to branch out, experience someplace new, and grow personally. And the more I travel, the more that happens and the more my mind expands. The same goes with reading. I want to be well-read, personally. Reading keeps my mind sharp, and it is a very good discipline to have.  Some of what I read is fluff,  but it’s never pointless. Much of the modern reading I do fills me in on our culture today. I feel so much less in-the-dark knowing what kind of things are on the NY times bestseller list. I don't want to be trendy. Conversely, I’m not going to be “up on the trends” ten years too late, and I don't want to be! Most important, you never know when some of it may eventually stand the test of time, and our children will be reading some of these popular or currently trendy books, as well.

~Setting an example for my kids~
I want to set an example for my kids, and that’s the final thing I want to say. Having a list and sticking to it is not only something I want to do and something I’m proud of… it is by design: I want to set an example. I want my kids to see them happy to have their nose in a book by E.B White or heck, maybe someday *me*  ???? :) ~  at least some book of a form or fashion, at all times... or at least much of the time!;) It’s a healthy habit, and for me, I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon!  If you are a scholar, an author, or an English major, do you practice this method of counting and keeping track of the books that you read? If you are not one of these things, do you do this too? Tell me I'm not the only one!

Why do I write it down and share it?


Reading 50 books was about decreasing ignorance, yes, but it was also about achieving a personal goal. This year, as I said, I was hoping to exceed last year’s goal of 50 books, although I wasn’t sure by how much. My original list had about 40 books on it.  In September, I looked at my “Books Read This Year” list, and I was really excited to find out that I had already read 37 books. With all of the traveling, I had time to keep plugging along, and I exceeded my Summer Reading List by several books. It looked like I was on track to push myself a little harder, so I decided to up the ante for myself, by finding an awesome Facebook group, to help hold me accountable to read 55 books before the end of the year.

Cheers, to reading more and writing it down!

How about you? Where are you in your journey? Are you a bookworm?  Tell me about it in the comments. :)