Now that we’re sure about dyslexia, we’re also exploring ADHD. It turns out there are loads of misconceptions about both. I’d like to stop learning for a while, please. I know. Sacrilege.


So… that last post was in September.  I was wondering how long it had been.  Ouch.  It’s February.  Oops.

I have been dying to blog lately, but life keeps getting in the way.  In fact, I can’t really participate in my beloved book club, because I can’t even finish the books I’m working on right now, and they are all good books I WANT to FINISH.  And then people give me more books, for my birthday, and for Christmas.  And then my dear toddler person decides that staying up all night would be fun, and getting up early would also be fun.  Wheee.

Now she is potty training and doing quite well at it.  However, she is waking up early again.  This morning she woke up early because the cat jumped on her at 5:30 am.  The cat?  What cat you say?  Our neighbors gave us a cat.  She thinks she’s a doggy, and she even herds chickens back into their pen.  Chickens?  Yes, we do own only a townhome, but we have now six chickens, after this weekend craziness of going to the animal rescue in our area to grab a couple more.  I own a zoo.  Good thing my husband draws the line at creepy crawlies, because a young man at our house thought the Reptile Zoo was the best thing going.

Ok, back to books.  See?  This is the problem: Parental ADHD.  It’s serious.

I am currently reading several books, but I have had a lot of grading to do, too, so I’m not making as much progress as I would like.  For my birthday I recieved A Father’s Tale by Michael O’Brien, which is absolutely wonderful and I can’t wait to finish all 1000 pages, but I was rudely interrupted by The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Also amazing, but in a completely different kind of way.  His writing is amazing in a truly literate sort of way, whereas hers is amazing because of the ideas it brings up for the reader to think about.  His does that, too, but there’s a big difference in how they go about it. fter The Hunger Games, I thought, phew, I finished that one, I dare not try the other two in the trilogy, or I’ll never get back to A Father’s Tale.  And then my dear, dear brother in law thought it would be funny to lend them to me.  I am NOT reading them right now, but I am one of those people who HAS to skip to the end, so I did peruse them.  I hear some folks don’t like how it ends, but I thought it was probably the most realistic part of the whole series.  The author has done some work with the affects of war on children, and I think the series reflects that, and is therefore fascinating.  I hope the movie does it any kind of justice next month.  I will have to give both of these books their own time here, when I’m actually done with them.  That probably means July 2012 if I’m lucky.

Ever notice how there will be a drought of movies, tv shows and sometimes books, and then a huge flood of good stuff?  Lately?  SO MUCH GOOD STUFF.  I can’t keep track of tv shows and movies, either.  Sure, there’s tons of stupid shows and movies, too, but the good stuff is SO GOOD.  Usually it’s the geeky stuff.

I’m always searching for answers to the curve balls my children throw at me, so currently all reading is at a halt until I finish Overcoming Dyslexia by Sally Shaywitz.  In my many travels to different types of professionals, I discovered this book.  One of my children will be tested for dyslexia later this month, and I’m looking forward to results, but at this point I’m also just going forward as if that child did indeed have dyslexia.  I have it on my Kindle Fire (which my brother in law also gave “our family”, not “me”), and it is taking me a while, but I do love highlighting all the parts I want my partner in crime to read, since he never reads the books I suggest.  I wonder if this crazy scheme of mine will work?

Some of “my” reading time is taken up with reading to young children, also.  For the second time, we appear to be moving rapidly through two series at once, The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander and The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We’ve been through The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis too many times to count, so I’m trying to get them to listen to these all on CD, and today I picked up another recommendation, The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.   So much good literature, why in the world did they invent things like SpongeBob books?  Really?

We’ve been having quite an interesting year around here, and I won’t get into that here, because it would be a WAT (wild-ass tangent, as we call them around here), and that would take away from the purpose of this blog.  Let’s just say life is one heck of an adventure and that things just keep getting more interesting.   Life is giving me a doctorate in something, but I’m not sure what yet.

Because we are having quite a year, I have decided to make a list of goals for this year in our homeschooling, especially the booklists from the curriculum I love, but I’ve decided not to follow it, because I need more flexibility to leave the house at inopportune moments.   Now I have “centers” posted on the fridge, and I try to remind them to do a fairly decent amount of work and their scouting badgework, and that covers quite a bit, really.  So far, I like it.  I feel a little weird about it, but I like it.  I think the kids do, too.  The principal seems ok with it. 🙂

I really hope to be blogging some more soon, but please, please don’t hold your breath.  I don’t want you to pass out.

On with life!

I keep thinking, I should blog about this book and that book and that book… and I don’t.  So I’ll let you know what I’m reading instead, and you can call me nuts if you want to.

The Mislabeled Child:  A very, very good book I haven’t finished yet.  It will explain everything about all kinds of educational and behavioral quirks in kids.  It even explained my unexplainable problem with math and grammar and IKEA furniture.  I kid you not.  If you are at all interested in learning and learning styles, that book is a must read.  The resources in the back cover practically every book on kids I’ve ever read, and strangely, the people who wrote it live two or three cities south of us.  I may be dropping in on them sometime for my nine year old.

Creative Homeschooling:  This book was written mostly for those who are homeschooling gifted children.  It was mentioned in Hothouse Kids, and I was surprised to find it at the library.  It is quite good and lists a lot of information about giftedness and homeschooling that would normally take about 3-5 books to find.

A Dance With Dragons:  Not recommended reading for the faint of heart.  It is huge and it has very inappropriate material snuck in there with a great plot.  I probably would not continue reading it because the sexuality is just a bit much at this point (read: twisted), but I really must know what happens to my favorite characters.  The HBO series Game of Thrones is re-enacting this book series, and they are pretty darned accurate.  I had to stop watching because my imagination is bad enough, thanks, I don’t need to watch someone else’s.  He’s an excellent writer, George RR Martin, but he’s no Tolkein, like some people compare him to.  I think that’s rotten.  Tolkein’s writing was heroic and beautiful.  This is Tolkein in the gutter.  Still great writing, super fun characters, but really gross descriptions at times.

Jane Eyre:  Our book club is starting off its second year with one of my all time favorites.  I had to read it in 12th grade in English, and I fell in love.  It is such a beautiful love story!  I am excited to re-read it for the third time, but I have so many other things to read!

Large Family Logistics:  This one I really need to get back from a friend, so I can give this copy back to my other friend.  It is such a helpful book for home management that I really will never need another book on that subject ever again.

Eliminate Chaos:  The best picture book on how to clean up room by room.  I will blog it someday.  I like that she also talks about downsizing, organizing computer files (like pictures), and organizing the tossing the things that are taking up room and have emotional attachment.  It’s by a local author, too.

All the cool people live near Seattle.  Just sayin’.

Because homeschooling is starting up again and we have a zillion activities planned for the kids (this after I bowed out of most of my leadership committments this year), I will have to start managing my time better.  Today, for instance, there is soccer practice, but I think I can sneak in a grocery run while it’s happening.  I printed out google calendars til Thanksgiving.  This time of year, I have to think in chunks.  From Sept 1-Thanksgiving is a chunk I can handle.  It has a finish line and is the busiest time of year.  Then nothing goes crazy again til May.

Off we go!  May this school year be filled with many blessings and good books!

This is a seriously inspiring collection of lighthearted Catholic homeschooling moms who have decided that unschooling is for them, at some level.  Some more than others.  All describe their lives as a family in extremely intelligent terms.  I LOVE this book and will have to buy it.  It’s been making the rounds through on of the homeschooling mom groups I attend and I’m so glad some days when I snoop on someone’s bookshelf.

The book has to make the rounds, and the next person is a person I shall see every morning this week, so  I want to type this before I move it down its chosen path to inspire others.

I may have mentioned this here before, but maybe not.  I went to both Catholic and public schools.  I’ve never been terribly good about following directions, but I did earn a 3.5 GPA and higher most of the time.  I hated school.  I loved sports.   It wasn’t a total waste of time, but I can’t say it was how I wanted to spend my time.  I knew two families growing up.  Each had five kids, and I was friends with the oldest in each family, both girls a couple of years younger than I.  Well, one of them, five years younger, and we shared a driveway.  The driveway is a long, rocky, country driveway, and we were perched uphill from the family we shared with.  They were unschoolers.  My parents really wondered how anyone was going to turn out, but they have all turned out fine, often better than fine!  The other family used a rigid and thorough curriculum, and their kids have all turned out fine, too.  Because of those two families, I’m willing to bet that most things we’ll do with our family are going to be fine, too.  It’s too easy to feel guilty!  Some people should feel guilty, granted, but they are not usually the ones who do!  Silly world.  Memories of the unschooling family and the magazine called Home Education Magazine calm me down when I feel like the weight is too heavy and homeschooling is too hard.  It is so nice to know that, at a certain point, a child’s education is really up to him or her!  Sometimes that point is a lot earlier than we think.

Back to the book.

The author lists 13 families.  Most of them unschool, but the last four do a combination of ideas, like classical supplemented with some unschooling ideals.  Yes, it’s possible.  It sounds kind of like us!  The one I liked best was the one who had both a husband and a son involved in the computer game design industry.  A conservative Catholic homeschooling family with gamers who actually make money?  What??!  So I wrote to her about finding the balance in Gaming vs. Other Things, and she was quite sensible.

I loved quite a few chapters.  There is also a “Philosopher’s Perspective” in the epilogue, along with a short set of book lists.  Probably the most important thing that sets this book apart is her focus on St. Therese of Lisieux.  St. Therese focused on her “Little Way” of doing all things for love of Jesus, especially the small, everyday things.  In fact, she compares some of the saint’s writings with those of John Holt, who wrote “Growing Without Schooling”  and “Why Children Fail”.  There is a similarity about their way of telling us that we can no longer see the forest for the trees.  Sometimes life and the point to life (or the point to education), is a whole lot more simple, and therefore harder to grasp somehow, than we thought.

As an aside, I need write this somewhere.  She highly recommends the book “I Believe In Love”. I MUST remember to tell my book club!  If you are in my book club and are reading this, please, please write it down for next year so I will read it!

Here is a quotation from this book which I made my oldest child read, because it was such a succinct way to begin theology.  On accident.

Pg. 121-122:

My Plan: To study World War II

Where the Plan Took Us: To Theology and Beyond

While reading historical fiction set during the war, we discussed the Holocaust.  My then ten-year-old said, “Mom, how could God let this happen?  He’s so good.  He could have stopped it.”

How does one explain the problem of evil to a child?

I began by telling her that she had asked an eternal question, a philosopher’s question, a wonderful question.  I said that people have lost their faith over that question when the answers seemed inadequate, elusive, or wrong.  I took her back in time, to Adam and Eve, and asked what God gave them. 

“A choice!” she said.

“Yes, a choice.  He allowed them to choose good or bad, right or wrong, didn’t He?”


“Why do you think he did that?”

“Hmmm… I don’t know.  Wouldn’t it be nicer if he’d made them obey?”

“Well, yes, in some ways, it would be nicer.” (I reminded myself to explain felix culpa to her later.)  “But let’s think about what kind of a relationship comes out of making someone do something. 

(They then perform a sock puppet show making up vignettes about those two types of relationships and crack themselves up.)

… For love to mean anything, it has to be freely given.  Had God made us pliable puppets, our love for Him would be meaningless. 

… Then we talked about the freedom God gave human beings — our free will– allowing us to make choices about everything, including love.  Where the possibility of true love exists, the possibility of utterly rejecting love co-exists.  And where the possibility of rejecting love exists, there is the potential for evil.  Some people will choose evil.

There are some beautiful quotations sprinkled throughout and I will leave you with one on pg. 71:

God’s love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within.  We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age.  Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires.  — Pope Benedict XVI, Address to Youth, World Youth Day XXIII

May I also add that there is a BOATLOAD of information about all my favorite things, but especially about organizing it into bite-sized pieces?  It’s wonderful!  I’m SO excited these people are all blogging together.

I think my head may explode.

Here is the contest and all the links.  May your head also explode for sheer joy.



A friend of mine recommended this book to our book club, and she feels very strongly about it.  I am really enjoying this book and can’t recommend it highly enough for, oh, Everyone.  I mean Everyone.  It’s awesome.

The best part is that he doesn’t begin by assuming his readers are Catholic, or even Christian, or even that they believe in God!  He begins with seeking God in general, according to six paths to belief, from the path of independence to the path of return.  There are so many wonderful and interesting insights into people’s search for spirituality!  See the second chapter for details.

Having gone to a Jesuit university myself, I know a little bit about Jesuit mentality.  Not as much as I thought I did, though.  I wish now that I had delved a little deeper and begged to be invited to Jesuit House for dinner.  Therefore, I very much enjoyed the Jesuit jokes sprinkled throughout.  The Jesuits are known for their academic rigor, their social justice streak, and while they do not think they are holier than God, they might think they are smarter on occasion.  Ha!

An example of a Jesuit joke appears on page 317.  “Here’s a joke about discernment:  A woman asks her local priest ofr advice.  “Father,” she says, “I have a little boy who is six months old.  And I’m curious to know what he will be when he grows up.”

The priest says, “Place before him three things:  A bottle of whiskey, a dollar bill, and a Bible.  If he picks the bottle of whiskey, he’ll be a bartender.  If he picks the dollar bill, a business man.  And if he picks the Bible, a priest.”  So the mother thanks him and goes home. 

The next week she returns.  “Well,” said the priest, “which one did he pick:  the whiskey, the dollar bill, or the Bible?”

She says, “He picked all three!”

“Ah,” says the priest, “a Jesuit!”

My experiences with certain Jesuits worried me a little bit, but I was pleasantly surprised by the deep spirituality of this book, not to mention its defense of certain things people question about the priesthood, such as celibacy and obedience.  This author has a serious knack for explaining things in simple terms, without watering it down.

A quote on celebacy and chastity, and yes, he does explain the difference, also.  Pg. 226-227:

“Ultimately, as Shelton says, the vow becomes not something that you do, but something deeper.  “In the novitiate, if someone asked me why I don’t have sex, I might have said, ‘Because it violates thevow.’  Now I would say, ‘That’s not who I am.'”  Married couples also may relate to that last statement.  In the movie Moonstruck, when a married woman is propsitioned by a friendly manher own age, she declines by saying, “I know who I am.”  It’s about integrity and commitment.

He goes on to say how he’s available to his students at Regis University, and that time would rightly go to his family if he had one.  …  “But there is something more,” he says.  “I’ve come to realize that I wouldn’t trade those moments, and the enduring relationships that have been forged after the students graduate, or the times that I’ve been available to a student in a crisis, for a life with a wife and kids.  Chastity provides me with something I wouldn’t have if I were married, and which means just as much.  This is what I would call ‘special’ for me.”

On page 222, he brings up another point I wouldn’t have thought of:  “Chastity also helps other people feel safe.  People know that you’ve made a commitment to love them in a way that precludes using them, or manipulating them, or spending time with them simply as a means to an end.  It gives people a space to relax.  As a result, people can often feel freer with tehir own love.”

And lastly, because for some reason everyone must always bring up scandal, his explanation is perfect, on pg. 221:

“By the way, chastity doesn’t lead to unhealthy behavior.  The sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church was, as I see it, more about a small percentage of psychologically unhealthy men who should have never been admitted into seminaries or religious orders in the first place, and some bishops who should have never shuttled them from one parish to another, than it was about chastity per se .”

And now for obedience.  Ultimately he does a very nice job of explaining how he almost quit the Jesuits out of pride over a decision requiring his obedience, and how very glad he is that he stayed.  Thus, some of the best parts in this book are about discernment in all walks of life.

Pg: 269:  Many readers who have a problem accepting this aspect of obedience may have an easier time accepting a more practical reason:  someone needs to be in charge.  Managing a worldwide religious order, as Ignatius did, required one person, one ultimate authority, to guide the work.  So the vow of obedience is always, as are the other vows, “apostolic,” that is, it helps us to carry out our assignments more effectively.

Actually, I’m always surprised by the number of people who scoff at obedience in religious orders yet live it relgiously in their own lives.  Many people who work in professional settings report to a manager….  I saw many longtime employees tranferred to faraway locations, yet they would never think of complaining because they were so devoted to the company.  These decisions are seen as necessary to achieve the organization’s goals — as are decisions in a religious order.”

Honestly, the best parts of this book are on prayer and on discernment, and he gives wonderful examples of Ignatian sprituality and Jesuit life.  He has several steps for decision making and prayer.  I really am amazed, and think everyone should buy a copy.  I know I need to.

My problem with this blog is that I appear to be maniacally reading and not really wanting to stop long enough to write!  I think I shall put here a list of the titles I’ve been reading, and then I’ll get back to them and say something nice and give you a little taste of what’s in them.

First of all, I went to almost all of those homesteading classes.  The first was probably the best!  I didn’t get to the permaculture/edible landscaping class, and I wish I had, but I did get the list of resources to peruse.  I learned that I really needed to clean up the chicken pen, so guess what I did for my 4th of July weekend? 🙂

Also, our book club has continued reading.  The Jesuit Guide To Almost Everything is awesome, and so is The Surrendered Wife.  I’ve read Wild at Heart before, but we’re doing it again with The Surrendered Wife, to better understand our husbands and our marriages.  It’s excellent.

Then there are two other books.  One that I REALLY enjoyed is called Quarter Acre Farm.  It is hilarious and educational, and about gardening.  What’s not to like?

The last is one I’m beginning without having finished other things.  It is called The Little Way of Homeschooling, and is a collection of stories about Catholic unschooling families.  It’s really neat so far!

One more book, which is self-published, is called Entropy Academy.  Alison Bernhoft used to live in our area, but moved to Ojai, CA.  What a lost treasure she is!  Her book about her life journey with homeschooling as the focus is so inspiring in a “I didn’t know what we were doing half the time, but look, it turned out great!” kind of way.

I didn’t realize how much reading I have been doing!  Holy Schmoley!

I will continue this blog some more this month, so stay tuned.

If you like funny Catholic homeschooling blogs, then you need to check out Simcha Fischer’s blog.  Gosh is she funny.


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