Archive for March, 2013

Save Aquinas and More!

I’m posting a day earlier than planned on this, the feast of the glorious Saint Joseph, as St. Teresa of Avila would say.  This is the last day of a campaign to save Aquinas and More Catholic Bookstore.  This beautiful, faithful online store is owned by good friends of ours, Ian and Paula Rutherford and their 10 children.  What I love most of all about their store are two things:

1.  Their “good faith guarantee”–if it isn’t in line with the teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, it isn’t found in their store, so you can go to the site and relax and enjoy, not having to worry about whether a book you’re interested in will be faithful.  It will!

2.  They don’t buy anything made in China.  I just found that out, and it is something we as a family try to do as well, though we don’t always succeed.  I’m quite positive that making that decision has meant financial sacrifice for the Rutherfords, but they are living out their belief (and mine) that we shouldn’t send our dollars to a government that imprisons and tortures Christians and others who speak out against the oppressive communist government there.

They were going to close the business down and then decided to give it one last try if it’s God’s will to keep it open.  They are trying to raise $250K, and this is the last day, so if you read this, please do what you can here:

If you pledge to support them, the money will only be used if they actually reach the $250K.  As of right now, they’ve only raised $57K, which is pretty huge actually, but not nearly enough.  Pray for sure and help financially if you can.

God bless,




Just last weekend, I determined that I had neglected this blog long enough.  I planned to post something new each week on Wednesday.  Well, here we are, and I’m keeping my promise, but I’m not blogging about homeschooling today.

Today, I am full of joy over the election of our new pope, Pope Francis I, formerly, Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio.  I had the privilege of sharing the excitement of the crowds at Saint Peter’s Square via the internet and listening to the first address of our new pope, Pope Francis, along with my children who got to see it live because they’re homeschooled (okay–I did talk about homeschooling).

I never heard of him before today.  Here is what I have learned today and why, as always, I am so confident that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church:

  1. He is from Argentina, the son of an Italian immigrant father who was a railroad worker, and one of 5 children–humble beginnings, but speaks Italian very well.
  2. He has taught literature, psychology, and philosophy–a Renaissance man.
  3. He is a Jesuit who sought to moderate the Marxist leanings of his fellow Jesuits.
  4. As bishop of Buenos Aires, he has forgone the bishop’s residence in favor of a small apartment and the limo and chauffeur in favor of using public transportation–like the saint whose name he took as pope, he is in love with Lady Poverty.
  5. He has in fact preached the value of simplicity and love for the poor with his life.
  6. He has spoken publicly to defend life and marriage.
  7. He began his papacy with prayer for his wonderful predecessor and with great humility asked everyone present to pray for him in silence.  He bowed while the whole crowd was really silent (and hopefully praying).
  8. There is a peacefulness and gentleness about him that showed even in his first appearance as our new holy father.
  9. He is from a third-world country, cares for the poor, and lives a life of simplicity, all of which will make him a little harder for the secular media to ignore, both because they can’t accuse him of being part of the “good-old-boy club” (not that I think that would be a serious accusation in any case) and because they can’t accuse him of ignoring the needs of the poor when he speaks of the horror of abortion, euthanasia, and the many sins that have become accepted as normal in our society.
  10. He has spoken with fervor God’s mercy and love.  He lambasted priests in his diocese for refusing to baptize children born out of wedlock.  He went to an AIDS hospice and kissed and washed the feet of those suffering there.
  11. He is known to be a man of prayer.  First and foremost, we need a man of prayer to lead us ever closer to Christ in these turbulent times.
  12. The more I read, the more he reminds me of the saintly bishop in Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Miserables.  A pope like him could bring many back to the Church.

Bedtime stories

A few years ago, I got to know a lot of moms with young children who were just starting out as homeschoolers through the wonderful Catholic homeschool co-op we were a part of.  Now, I was there once too, and I certainly don’t mean to poke fun at all, but sometimes those of us with older children would just kind of look at each other while we listened to the young moms talk about all the activities their children were involved in and all the “extras” they were learning.  I think there is a tendency in our society to want to make sure our children don’t miss out on any opportunity, but sometimes I think the greatest opportunity we have as homeschoolers is time.

My advice?  Relax.  If your oldest child is under about 8 years old, keep in mind that you are running a marathon here, not a 50-yard sprint.  I think one of the reasons that so many people stop homeschooling after a year or two is because they are trying to sprint, and they get exhausted and burned out because they think they have to keep going at a pace that is simply not sustainable year after year.  Now, like everything, virtue is the happy medium.  I’m not suggesting you do none of those things–just that, like a runner, you pace yourself.  You decide which subjects are necessary every day, which would be a nice addition once a week, which devotions, activities, lessons, and sports can fit in with your life and not leave you feeling exhausted and always in a rush.

Here are a few thoughts on what’s important for the under 8 set:

  1. Time to play.
  2. Time to learn the responsibility of chores.
  3. Time to learn to read.
  4. Time to be read to (this shouldn’t stop at age 8, though).
  5. Time to learn to write neatly (this is one I wish I had spent more time on).
  6. Time to learn numbers and then adding and then subtracting.
  7. Time to learn to share with siblings and friends.
  8. Time to learn about God’s love for them.

So, when is it a good time to start some of these outside activities and more formal subjects?  You may not agree with what I think, but here is what I have found works well:

  1. Formal sports:  Around age 7 or 8 at the earliest.
  2. Dance lessons: About age 5 at the earliest just so they stay stretchy.  Otherwise about age 8.
  3. Singing lessons:  High school at the earliest.
  4. Formal science curricula:  About age 8 or 9 (by all means have fun with experiments and trips to the zoo before this).
  5. Formal history curricula: About age 8.
  6. Instrumental music lessons: When they are good readers–unless maybe it’s Suzuki violin and they actually enjoy it.
  7. Choirs:  Anytime with good instruction that is age-appropriate.

What do you think?  Do you agree?  Disagree?  What do you wish you had done earlier?  What do you wish you hadn’t wasted your time on?

I mentioned in my about page that one of the things I enjoy doing is spinning. I love working with soft merino wool and alpaca and silk. For the past couple years, in between homeschooling and my job, I have been selling handspun yarn, handwoven scarves, and most recently fiber art batts in my Etsy shop. I just changed the shop name to PurpleLamb.

What do you do for fun and/or money (or hopefully both) when you aren’t busy educationing your bunchkins? Feel free to post links to your online activities in the comments section!

Based on the last couple posts, you might think all we do around here is take vacations.  It’s not true–really it’s not; yet, here I am blogging about vacations again.

Every February, the kids and I all get a little grumpy, and education seems to be far more of a chore than it does the rest of year.  I think it’s because winter has…just…gone…on…so…long.  So last year, I finally decided that sometime in February would be the first annual (doesn’t that term make you laugh?) wish-it-were-spring break. 

Last year, it was a complete break, and honestly, just knowing that a break is coming up in a few weeks does wonders to refresh one’s spirits.  In fact, I think that having something to look forward to is always a pretty huge motivator.  It really did help, and the weeks following it were easier even if spring still hadn’t come.

This year, we were falling a bit behind on literature, so I used my best marketing abilities and the relatively short memories of my children to announce that 3 weeks hence, we would have “literature week” where the only assignments would be the literature the kids were reading individually plus the literature I was reading to everyone aloud.  It worked, and the children were excited.  Fortunately no one remembered that last year at about the same time, they got the week off entirely.

Anyway, one of the many joys of homeschooling is that you get to set your own schedule.  If you have some kids in school and some you are homeschooling or (like us for many years) your spouse is a teacher, it makes sense to plan your scheduling according to the school’s for the most part, but if that isn’t the case, take advantage of the freedom of homeschooling to plan breaks when they are most needed.  For us, that need definitely comes in February!

When do you and your kids need a break most?



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