Monday, June 24, 2013

God talks to St. Francis

This was how Father started his Homily this week. The words are not exact, because instead of trying to remember what he said, I looked it up on the off chance it was already written some where. Here you have it, Enjoy

God Talks to St. Francis:
GOD: Frank , you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.

St. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But, it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS : Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS : Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it--sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bail it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS : Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS : No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS : Yes, Sir

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It's a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

ST. CATHERINE: "Dumb and Dumber", Lord. It's a story about....

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Rhythm

It's that time again, if you'd like to join in on 5 minute Friday's just follow the link and jump on in. It's fun, easy and interesting to see what everyone else does.
Five Minute Friday

Today's word: Rhythm

Rhythm: Movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions.

I'm thinking of life and decisions we make along the way and how much time we waste in worry and frustration. Because I am a stubborn child of God who seems to have a hard time learning any other way. But I'm forcing it.

Our lives are a rhythm, somethings are just like everyone else: born, live, pay taxes, die. And the in between are different BUT still fall into the category of "ups" and "downs".  Now I feel bad that I am over the half way point (most likely) and am still struggling with this, but I'm so very thankful that I'm learning. I'm learning that it does no good to worry or be perpetually frustrated. I'm learning to go with the flow, or in a better term, the rhythm because life will always have ups and downs, but we can always find something to be grateful for. ALWAYS!

 I'm trying to learn to trust in Gods plan for me. And it's working. But like everything else in life - it's a concentrated effort. Even letting go, and following the rhythm of things takes effort. But it's a pleasant effort when you are on the right path, when you are not fighting against the stream of things.

I truly do love my life. All of it, but I love it even more now that I'm not so stressed and worried about every little thing, well most of the time anyway. I still have some work to do. I did say I was a stubborn child of God after all.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Karen Macdonald - KDM Artistry

Kudos to another West Point Mom artist friend. Karen Macdonald, from KDM Artistry, does some fantastic work, I love it all but have found a few to give you an example of some of my favorites.

Go Army Garden
And since Karen is also the mom of a cadet at USNA she gives equal space to the Navy...

Go Navy Garden
 For now my loyalties are not split, I have one cadet so far and he's USMA so I have to add just one more from the series.

West Point Civil War Cadet Button
I do have one more favorite of all time, you'll have to go to the site to see it though. :)

On My Way

There is so much more to explore.  From her website:
 "Welcome to KDM ARTISTRY.  A creative art studio specializing in fine art prints, canvas giclees, commercial and residential murals, custom wall treatments, and painted furniture."

I am always so amazed by the women I have connected with via West Point. Karen is not only talented, but generous as well, some of her profits go to support the Wounded Warrior Project. Which just happens to be one of my favorite.

Please take a minute and visit them at KDM Artistry. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Karen has a
10% off code: USA10  to use on her site as well.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Multiplication Fun ...

Homeschooling means learning, even for the teacher. Over the years I have tried to stress rote memorization but as much as I would like them to do it... sometimes they just don't. I can't blame homeschooling for this, I didn't do it when I was in school either. So I have learned a few tricks that help... the hope is that they have to do this stuff so often that they slowly but surely memorize the problems anyway.

Of course there are the ones we have all heard:

Skip counting, if you can count by 2's, 3's, 4's, etc. then you can multiply easily.

The 4's trick: Double the number then double again.

Then there are some that are a little less known... or at least  they were for me.

The 9's trick: Hold out your hands in front of you with fingers outstretched.
Bend the finger down that is in the position from left to right that you are multiplying by 9. The number of fingers you have before the bent finger is the first number, the number of fingers you have after the bent finger is your second number.

Example: 9 x 3= 27

Here is a trick I've only just seen. I'm going to try and demonstrate it, but you can look at the original post as well HERE.

I used paper fingers.

Starting with the thumb number each hand with the numbers 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. 

Example: 7 x 8
Touch the numbers together that you are multiplying.
Count the number of fingers that are touching and under. So here it would be 5.  That is the number that goes in the 10's spot, therefore that is 50.

Count the number of fingers above the touching fingers on the left: 3
Count the number of fingers above the touching fingers on the right: 2
Multiply them: 2 x 3 = 6 
Add that number to the first number. 50 + 6 = 56

7 x 8 = 56

Yes, this can be complicated AT FIRST, but once you've done it a few times - easy.

11's trick for double digits:  Take the number you are multiplying by separate them with a space between in the answer then add the numbers together...
Example: 11 x 15
In the answer: 1_5, then add 1 and 5 for the middle number. 1+5=6
Answer is 165

A word on these tricks.  I don't necessarily like any "learning tricks". But we all know that kids learn differently, and sometimes finding a trick is better then fighting them until they HATE the work. Learning should be fun. It isn't always, but when you can take a frustrated kid, show them a little trick, and defuse the situation things tend to go smoother.

That being said, you can also do things to make memorizing the facts fun. This is something we will be starting tomorrow. This is one for the "oh I KNEW that" file. Because yes, I have heard of this before BUT I had forgotten all about it.

Deck 'em
Use a deck of playing cards for a game of Multiplication War.
Initially, children may need the grid (below) to become quick at the answers.
Flip over the cards as though you are playing Snap.
The first one to say the fact based on the cards turned over (a four and a five = Say "20") gets the cards.
The person to get all of the cards wins!
Children learn their facts much more quickly when playing this game on a regular basis.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Listen

It's that time again, if you'd like to join in on 5 minute Friday's just follow the link and jump on in. It's fun, easy and interesting to see what everyone else does.
Five Minute Friday

Today's word: Listen

There are some skills we can live without and  some are important but not necessary. And then there are some that are just MUST HAVES.

Listening is one of those skills that is a must have, and before you talk to me about how deaf people can't hear so obviously it's not... you are wrong. Be you deaf or hearing or what ever the case may be it is important that you LISTEN with all your senses when someone is trying to communicate with you. If you interrupt with an answer before they are finished, then you have not gotten the full message of what they are saying - which in turn means you've made an assumption about what they are going to say.

If you interrupt with some random fact or question that has nothing to do with the topic of conversation, again you don't get the message.

If you sit quietly but the whole time you are formulating your answer, that also is not listening...

We all do it, there is not one person who communicates in a perfect manner but regardless if you are communicating with your boss, coworkers, wife, husband, children there are some things that might help stave off an argument.

1. Listen - give the person your full attention. Listen to all of their words, not just the first few.
2. Repeat back what they have just told you, especially if you are unsure of what they are talking about.
3. When it's your turn to talk, stop a second and make sure you know what  you want to say.
4. If you are having a difficult time, stop, pray, and listen for God's help, He can always give you the right words if you just LISTEN.

Communication is the key to any relationship, we must communicate effectively to be understood, and to show compassion, or just to know what each party wants/needs.

I put this hear, not because I am an expert, but because along with every one else in the world, I can always use this reminder.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Joy Dare: 3 Gifts In What You Are Reading...

I found a beautiful page and blog that has inspired me. And even though I am a procrastinator and didn't find it until a while ago AND still have not done much with it besides look it over, today's joy dare was just too perfect to ignore. SO... I am going to take some time and be thankful for all God has given me.
First things first, here is a link to the page:
A Holy Experience
Her name is Ann Voskamp and she has done a tremendous job of setting up a way for you to easily count 1000 blessings in a year. Even as much as a procrastinator as I am there is no way for me to skip it...

Because I am not really reading anything in particular at the moment I am sharing 3 gifts that I have read recently through my devotions.

 This is truly powerful when you think of all that is happening in our country right now. Sometimes it seems that in order to get along we must compromise what we believe. This is not good, when we compromise what we believe to "get along" then we compromise ourselves as deep as our very soul.

I recently went through this with my children. I hope that at the end of their time as my students I have taught them enough so that they know how to put on the Armor of God, the rest will fall into place - this is the most important lesson I will ever teach them.

And the one that is sometimes the most difficult for me to remember. It is a balancing act with me to stand up for what I believe is right but to do it with love and patience and in a way that will build others up.

Five Minute Friday: Fall

It's that time again, if you'd like to join in on 5 minute Friday's just follow the link and jump on in. It's fun, easy and interesting to see what everyone else does.
Five Minute Friday

Today's word: Fall

How to keep from falling:

Proverbs 4

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

A Father’s Instruction

Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
For I give you sound teaching;
Do not abandon my instruction.
When I was a son to my father,
Tender and the only son in the sight of my mother,
Then he taught me and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
Keep my commandments and live;
Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding!
Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
“Do not forsake her, and she will guard you;
Love her, and she will watch over you.
“The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom;
And with all your acquiring, get understanding.
“Prize her, and she will exalt you;
She will honor you if you embrace her.
“She will place on your head a garland of grace;
She will present you with a crown of beauty.”
10 Hear, my son, and accept my sayings
And the years of your life will be many.
11 I have directed you in the way of wisdom;
I have led you in upright paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be impeded;
And if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Take hold of instruction; do not let go.
Guard her, for she is your life.
14 Do not enter the path of the wicked
And do not proceed in the way of evil men.
15 Avoid it, do not pass by it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they cannot sleep unless they do evil;
And they are robbed of sleep unless they make someone stumble.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness
And drink the wine of violence.
18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn,
That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know over what they stumble.
20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
23 Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth
And put devious speech far from you.
25 Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
26 Watch the path of your feet
And all your ways will be established.
27 Do not turn to the right nor to the left;
Turn your foot from evil.

Oh how I repeatedly stumble and fall. However, God has also given us a way to get back up and try again, through the sacrament of penance. Through repentance and forgiveness...

Thank you, God, for being an understanding and patient Father to this stubborn child of God.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Joy Dare: 3 Gifts "Ugly-Beautiful"

I found a beautiful page and blog that has inspired me. And even though I am a procrastinator and didn't find it until a while ago AND still have not done much with it besides look it over, today's joy dare was just too perfect to ignore. SO... I am going to take some time and be thankful for all God has given me.
First things first, here is a link to the page:
A Holy Experience
Her name is Ann Voskamp and she has done a tremendous job of setting up a way for you to easily count 1000 blessings in a year. Even as much as a procrastinator as I am there is no way for me to skip it...

1. A ringing phone at 4:03 am... A sunrise that would have been missed. My son pocket dialed me early this morning as he got ready for a rifle competition 2 timezones away. At first I just went back to bed and thought I'd give him some jibbing about it later. However, I could not sleep so I got up in the very early morning before the light and I got to see the sunrise. There was nothing particularly spectacular about this sunrise, but it was beautiful anyway.  There is nothing quite like the quiet, literal dawning of a new day. It is a crisp, bright morning and like each day it's full of promise.

2. A pile of beads, mismatched. Of course a pile of beads is never really ugly, but the potential for this pile of beads was not very promising. On the other hand, a few days ago I started to make some sun catchers with this pile of beads and I like the end results. I even made a wind chime of sorts out of some of the bigger components, pieces I never thought I'd use. I like the results.

3. Caffeine withdrawal headaches ... very ugly. In a few days I will be over the headache, I will have accomplished a goal and I will be healthier ... beautiful.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Joy Dare: 3 Gifts Found In Christ

I found a beautiful page and blog that has inspired me. And even though I am a procrastinator and didn't find it until a while ago AND still have not done much with it besides look it over, today's joy dare was just too perfect to ignore. SO... I am going to take some time and be thankful for all God has given me.
First things first, here is a link to the page:
A Holy Experience
Her name is Ann Voskamp and she has done a tremendous job of setting up a way for you to easily count 1000 blessings in a year. Even as much as a procrastinator as I am there is no way for me to skip it...

1. Peace - in so many ways I find peace in Christ. Peace in knowing Him through His church. Peace in the Eucharist. Peace in penance. Peace.
2. Hope - hope for myself, hope for the country, hope for the world, hope for the future... SO MUCH HOPE!
3. Love - we know that God loved us so much he gave His son, but we also know the Love He had for us because He died on the cross. He stayed long enough to teach us, by example, how to live. How to love and how to serve.

Monday, June 3, 2013

When Every Thing is Falling Apart... and a Joy Dare Gift

I've had a few very busy,  very good days. Then I was up late last night (later than the drive in even) with pain and I woke up in pain, and I can barely turn my head. So, of course, then I started with the grumpies. But then I remembered the whole purpose of me starting this blog, writing in general, and most recently the Joy Dare.  The purpose is to be joyful and happy even in the midst of things going bad. Life happens, we age, we get aches and pains, we get busy and frustrated, but Our Father wants us to be happy anyway, He wants us to find joy in the little things. Today will not be an easy day, but thanks to my habit over the last month and a half doing the Joy Dare (shared or not I do it), I did not spend more than a couple of minutes with the grumpies. I remembered that today is a new day, full of promise, full of blessings, full of opportunity.

And so I am going to share one of my Joy Dare Gifts that I had not. It just fits today. May 30th was 3 Gifts Blue. Of course the first thing I thought was color... but the last one was giving me trouble. Just 3 - it shouldn't have. Even on the days when the gifts we are supposed to find seem difficult, as a whole, once I get started I can list three with no problem. Blue - of all the things to be stuck on.

3. Blue - as in moods, as in depression so deep the blue turns black. Yes, I am thankful for that too. It taught me to accept vulnerable. It taught me that sometimes it's ok to ask for help in the most difficult situations. My "blue" started out slow after the birth of my fifth child. Although I think back now and can see the "blue" was there long before that, it was just light blue like a calm day, looking at the blue sky through a puff of clouds. After Jesse was born the blue got darker, and darker. Some rather disappointing things happened that year as well, a trip I had looked forward to going on was cancelled - for me.

As I sat there with the mounting depression watching others in my family ready for the trip and the disappointment that I would be missing out on an incredibly important even in my oldest child's life the blue turned to dusk - almost black. It was the chemicals in my brain, I know this, but the guilt I felt for acting such a brat about such an important event. I was disappointed in myself. Eventually I got so ugly that I knew I needed help. I went online and took a "test" a questionnaire about postpartum depression.  It was long, but with each question I reminded myself that my doctor was there to help, they would not look at me through MY eyes, the ones that saw the monster I had become.

When I went in she said that she was glad I had gone in, she asked me several times if I was sure I had not felt like I would hurt myself or someone else. Those were not issues for me. When I finally asked why she continued to ask the same questions she said that she had never seen someone score that "high" (depressed) on the scale who did not have those thoughts. I truly did not, but there were other factors in that I am sure. I knew what it felt like to see a family member get that low and that was not something I wanted for my children, even at my lowest point I would not have done that specifically BECAUSE I knew what it would do to them. I'm not sure I would have been so convicted had I not seen others go through this. I might not have had that buffer.

I got help. It was astonishing.

I took the meds for a good while. Then slowly went off of them. I did well, then came child #6. The blue's came quickly even though this child woke up smiling, talked to me like there was no tomorrow and she had to tell me all the secrets she kept in her tiny little brain. I fought against the blues, but they quickly became murky and dark. When my wee one was six weeks old and I had to go back for my doctor visit, I was at my wits end. I don't know why I had not seen the "signs". Maybe again the guilt of feeling so dark at such an amazing time, maybe it was just too dark. I don't know.

I went in for my visit and the receptionist told me that my appointment was not until the next day. I am not even sure what I said, or did at that point I just remember walking out of the office going to my car which was in the car garage and crying as I nursed my new precious baby. I couldn't even think of driving at that moment, the tears would not stop. I got a call to come back if I had not gotten too far. That receptionist was a smart cookie. She had seen my desperation and gotten an appointment for me.

When I walked back in I was in a daze, but they took Emma, and told me not to worry they would take good care of her. I was afraid to let go, with me in a puddle of tears and mess I was almost sure they would not give her back. But she assured me they were not going far, they knew all I needed was a little mom time, even if it was on a OB table in one of the most hated positions by women ever... she made me smile just a little. When the exam was done she sent me out with the same meds I had been on before, and a hug, and told me that she knew I would be feeling better.

My doctor even stopped in for a minute and told me she was sorry she could not fit me in right then, but wanted to let me know that I would be ok, that I had a beautiful baby girl and that soon her charm would be the only thing I could see. And she was right. The blues had been the blackest they had ever been, again I never had even the slightest thought of hurting anyone, I thank God for that.

With the help of my doc and the support of my family I learned a lot about myself, and about my family. The blues, have taught me about unconditional love, about strength we can find even in weakness, and that even the blackest black can be turned back into the most beautiful shade of blue. And for that  I can be thankful for the blues.

If you are feeling depressed, talk to someone, get help. It does not have to get to the point of being desperate before you seek help. There are medical reasons for this, it's not a sign of weakness it just makes you feel that way.