Monday, February 27, 2012

renewed energy

This past week was the public and private school's winter break, supposedly a chance for kids to enjoy Maine's outdoor winter activities such as skiing, ice skating, ice fishing, sledding, and snowman building. Unfortunately, due to only 30 inches of snow the entire winter (average at this time of year is over 80 inches), there wasn't any snow to play in south of Aroostook County (waaaay up north) until Saturday morning. Up at the farm we got about 3 inches, enough for Maggie to build a snowman and me to do a little tromping in the woods to observe the beautiful surroundings before running 9 miles at the Sub5 donut run.

The rest of the week the kids rode their bikes, played lots of board games, practiced the piano, and wrote book reports. Yes, three of the children needed to work on Seton's dreaded book reports and Will had a huge 20 page geography project due Monday morning. I stuck to my guns and did not let the children shirk, no matter how much they protested, and St. Benedict, St. Joseph, and St. Augustine's virtues have been analyzed and typed up. I have to say that despite my own groans and moans about Seton's writing assignments I have discovered that they do teach the children to write a good solid 5 paragraph essay over time. Will can write one pretty easily now and is making straight A's at his fancy Catholic school.

Due to our break I can see the progress that each child has made over the past 5 months and am encouraged that they are learning and I am surviving another year of homeschooling.        

Monday, February 13, 2012

taking a hiatus

Between attempting to get 4 children's schooling accomplished in the morning, driving same 4 children down to the public schools for art and gym, driving down to town to pick up Will every afternoon, and helping Will work on his geography project on PowerPoint every evening, I don't have time to think, much less blog right now. If we go up to the farm sometime in April then I only have a month or two left of this out-of-control schedule. 

I have realized, perhaps a little too late, that taking that one step into institutional school has made my older children realize that they want more than doing school at home. Of course, the girls haven't been involved in as many activities here as they have been in the past: no CCD, no Little Flowers, and no ballet. So, it seems likely that we will be sending them to Catholic school this fall. I won't exactly be fancy-free with the little boys in 1st and 3rd grade and Julia Ellen still the rambunctious toddler. My days will still be spent homeschooling and potty training, washing dishes and folding laundry, but my evenings will be filled with helping with homework, exhorting children to practice the piano, and making sure their clothes are ironed for the next day. It seems that my circumstances will take another turn and I need to trust that God will give me the strength to accomplish whatever is put in front of me and the practical knowledge to say my plate is full.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Julia overload

No, not my Julia, but Julia Child. Last weekend I watched Julie and Julia, which was cute, despite the unnecessary occasional swear word and then proceeded to hit the library for every Julia Child book on the shelves. 

I read the novel Julie and Julia, which I didn't care for since every chapter showed that Julie was suffering from a serious case of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) in the 2001-2004 time frame she was writing as well as exhibiting an unhealthy fixation on foul language, ingesting large quantities of booze, and her friend's sex lives. But now I am simultaneously reading Julia Child's biography and a collection of letters between Child and her penpal Avis Devoto, which are both fascinating. I also checked out THE book: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and am finding that all this reading about complicated cooking techniques is prompting me to bake a homemade yellow cake requiring buttermilk, heavy cream, and orange zest with white chocolate and cream cheese frosting for Mary's 12th birthday tomorrow. Schoolwork is cancelled in honor of her big day and we will be making valentines as well as dirtying every bowl in the house to make her birthday dinner and dessert.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

time to fight back

I could write a long essay about the religious liberties being attacked by the Obama administration by this HHS mandate, but I as I told the nice lady who answered the phone in Congressman Michaud's office, "I've been meaning to write a letter for days now, but I have 6 kids and I had to lock the door just so I could have enough quiet time to simply call my political representatives." I was pleasantly surprised by her enthusiasm over my call, "I know it is a lot of ask a Democrat to oppose Obama, but this is a clear violation of the 1st Amendment." Richard Malone is one of the 80% + bishops in the country who have made statements and written letters against this mandate to violate one of the tenants of our religion. 

The decision to implement a contraceptive mandate on nearly all of the nation’s health care plans is a blatant and capricious affront to conscience rights and religious liberty. This mandate shows a complete disregard for religious freedom, as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires nearly all private health insurance plans to cover contraception and sterilization prescriptions as “preventative services” for women. Contraceptive coverage includes drugs that are known at times to result in an abortion.
Although the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claims the Act exempts religious organizations, the reality is that while parishes likely would be exempt, other Church-related institutions such as Catholic Charities, Catholic hospitals, nursing homes and schools would not qualify since they serve a wider population.

I ask that you too find the 5 minutes to call your Senators and Congressman and tell them to represent Catholics who find this from on-high pronouncement unconscionable. 

Monday, February 06, 2012

that was short-lived

On Friday night I picked out Karate Kid (the 1987 original version) for movie night. The premise is that bullies can not be pacified, they will continue to come after those they see as weak. One must give them a reason to show the former victim respect, which in the film comes after Daniel defeats his nemesis in a Karate Tournament, despite injury. 

The Susan Komen Foundation could learn a thing or two from young Daniel, that to give into bullies such as Planned Parenthood does not earn respect or show strength. What women who are fighting for their lives desperately need are both of these qualities. If they can't get them by example from a supposedly women's empowerment group, then why does it exist? 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

baking success #2

Last night we had homemade chicken noodle soup and ate 2 loaves of my new discovery, No Knead Artisan Bread. 

On Tuesday morning I made delicious cinnamon rolls. Maggie took one bite and exuberantly said, " Oh, Mommy! You have to promise to make these again. These are soooo much better than the ones from the can!" I can imagine, as it takes about 1 minute to crack open the Pillsbury ones and throw them in the oven, whereas these took 2 hours from start to finish, and that was with the dough all ready in the fridge. But they were worth it and I plan on getting up early and making more on Saturday. (I only remembered to snap a picture after 6 rolls had been snatched off the platter so it makes enough for 5 children to have seconds and Mommy to have 1)

The pizza was a big hit as well and actually more convenient than bread machine dough as it was already in the fridge and I didn't have to plan at least an hour beforehand to have the dough made.

Baking is such a great project with the snow coming down outside and the roads too icy to drive on (I don't want to miss out on my no-accident present!), especially rolling out dough on my new granite counters (aren't they pretty?) and baking in my new gas oven. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

a small pro-life victory

I was thrilled to read this article this morning: 

"In what looks to be a break between two organizations dedicated to women’s health, a national breast cancer awareness group said it would stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood centers for breast cancer examinations and other breast health services.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a leader in fundraising for breast cancer research and famous worldwide for its iconic pink ribbon, said Tuesday that it was halting all partnerships with Planned Parenthood affiliates because of recently adopted criteria that forbid it from funding any organization under government investigation.

In September, Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., launched an inquiry to determine whether Planned Parenthood uses public money to fund abortions. Planned Parenthood receives federal money but cannot use it to provide abortions. (Yes, but if they receive federal money for other "services" that frees up money for abortion, plus you don't think they do those abortions for FREE, do you?)

Komen has a long history of providing funding to various Planned Parenthood affiliates for such services as manual breast exams (Wasn't there an ad that proved that PP does not do mammograms? Yep, and here it is.)and referrals for mammograms and biopsies to check suspicious lumps for cancer. Although that money is not used for abortions, the KomenFoundation may have yielded to demands from antiabortion groups to sever its ties to Planned Parenthood."