Sunday, November 9, 2008

Field Trip To Fort Toulouse

Last week we went to Fort Toulouse for Frontier Days. It was so much fun! There were many stands and at each one there were people dressed in costume educating us on Frontier Life. Here are a few pictures of us on the frontier!

This is Sara posing at our first stop. This is a yearly happening and our first year attending.

Luther, chomping down on a big old turkey leg.

Nicolas and me posing in front of a frontier home.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fun Family Fotos

As many of you know, we are bad about getting family photos at a studio. So when we saw an opportunity to get some photos done at the local Sam's Club, we took advantage. LOL! Here is a sneak preview.

Family photos will be sent in the mail soon.

Coke Museum

We went to the Coke Museum this summer. It was part of our day trip to Atlanta. It was a real neat place to go. We enjoyed tasting soft drinks from around the world. They also had a theatre where they played vintage and modern Coca Cola commercials.

The boys had fun jumping off steps.

Atlanta Aquarium

We went in June to celebrate Anthony's birthday. Here are just a few pics for you to enjoy.

Yummy Peach!

As you can see Peter loves fruit!

Luther Reaches First Class

Luther is now a First Class Boy Scout. He's got a way to go to become Eagle, but he is working hard and enjoying the steps.
He went on two week long campouts this summer and a few weekend ones. He has more fun weekend campouts coming up this fall as well. He will get to enjoy canoeing and white water rafting. It makes me nervous, but we have to let go sometime and trust God with our precious children.

Nanny's visit

My dear mother in law(from my first marriage) came to visit us this summer. It was a short but sweet visit and we were so happy she could make the trip down. She was recovering from a brown recluse spider bite, which made her not feel well. But she was a trooper and even took a dip in the pool!As you can see, Peter has a hard time adjusting to new people.

Peter's Surgery

Since about the age of six months, Peter has had recurrent ear infections. Unfortunately, this summer the pattern continued and after a consultation with an Ear,Nose, and Throat specialist, we decided to go ahead with Ear Tube surgery.
Peter looked so cute in his little hospital gown. He was very good and was actually in a good mood until the nurse carried him away for his sugery. Thankfully it was all over within 25 minutes and he did great. He was cranky for a couple of hours, but with a little Tylenol and alot of loving, he was feeling better by lunchtime.
We feel that the surgery has been a success. Peter has not had an ear infection since his sugery over 2 months ago and he even had a cold which usually triggers them. We are thankful to the Lord for a great outcome all around.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We are back!

Hello there! Yes we are finally back. It was a great summer and a rough summer. I went through some medical problems that unfortunately kept me from my blog for some time. I am feeling so much better, and I want to thank all of you, that knew what I was going through, for your prayers and phone calls. Mom thanks for coming down and helping me out!!! You're the best!!

Well, alot of stuff has happened. Where to begin. Sara turned 19 and Anthony turned 7. We decided to go away for Anthony's birthday. We went to the Atlanta Aquarium and the Coke Factory. Both were a blast. We had high expectations of the aquarium so we were a bit disappointed. But we had no expectations of the Coke factory so we were pleasantly suprised. Isn't that how it goes?

We had some fun times with friends and had them over for swim parties. We have recently had many problems with our pool chemicals. We have poured hundreds of dollars of chemicals and still have had problems with algae. We get our pool water tested and do what the pool professionals tell us to do, but to no avail, GREEN!!! AGH!! So we are debating whether it would be more financially wise to switch to salt water system or hire a pool guy next year. There are pros and cons. So we must do our research. Anyway, we hope to get it in good shape again soon so we can enjoy the last few weeks of hot weather outdoors in the pool.

We didn't get hit with any bad weather from the recent hurricanes, yeah! But we did have a few tornado warnings when my mom was here. So we spent some time hiding in the bathroom :)

But for the most part it has been a good summer, all things considered.

We started homeschooling 5 weeks ago and are progressing fairly well. (So long as mom can stay patient with her distracted students.) For the most part, we are keeping up with our schedule and still making time for outdoor activities and homeschool field trips.

Peter is an adorable 17 month old now. He is about 30 pounds and struts about the house looking for something to get into. He is learning some words and is just a bundle of cuteness and fun.

Nicolas and Anthony are playing soccer this fall. They are having alot of fun and doing alot of running! Luther is up to first class in Boy Scouts and working on other requirements to get him to Eagle. Sara has been better with her fibromyalgia pain these days (thanks to God). She is a big help with Peter and she keeps the boys in line. She has daily challenges from her condition but she tries not to let that stop her from doing what she can to help the family. Please keep her in your prayers for further health improvement. She wants to do so much more. Tom is loving his job and doing very well on his current projects.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Domestic Monastery

By Ron Rolheiser OMI January 7, 2001

Carlo Carretto, one of the leading spiritual writers of the past half-century, lived for more than a dozen years as a hermit in the Sahara desert. Alone, with only the Blessed Sacrament for company milking a goat for his food, and translating the bible into the local Bedouin language, he prayed for long hours by himself. Returning to Italy one day to visit his mother, he came to a startling realization: His mother, who for more than thirty years of her life had been so busy raising a family that she scarcely ever had a private minute for herself, was more contemplative than he was.
Carretto, though, was careful to draw the right lesson from this. What this taught was not that there was anything wrong with what he had been doing in living as a hermit. The lesson was rather that there was something wonderfully right about what his mother had been doing all these years as she lived the interrupted life amidst the noise and incessant demands of small children. He had been in a monastery, but so had she.
What is a monastery? A monastery is not so much a place set apart for monks and nuns as it is a place set apart (period). It is also a place to learn the value of powerlessness and a place to learn that time is not ours, but God's.
Our home and our duties can, just like a monastery, teach us those things. John of the Cross once described the inner essence of monasticism in these words: "But they, O my God and my life, will see and experience your mild touch, who withdraw from the world and become mild, bringing the mild into harmony with the mild, thus enabling themselves to experience and enjoy you." What John suggests here is that two elements make for a monastery: withdrawal from the world and bringing oneself into harmony with the mild.
Although he was speaking about the vocation of monastic monks and nuns, who physically withdraw from the world, the principle is equally valid for those of us who cannot go off to monasteries and become monks and nuns. Certain vocations offer the same kind of opportunity for contemplation. They too provide a desert for reflection.
For example, the mother who stays home with small children experiences a very real withdrawal from the world. Her existence is definitely monastic. Her tasks and preoccupations remove her from the centres of power and social importance. And she feels it. Moreover her sustained contact with young children (the mildest of the mild) gives her a privileged opportunity to be in harmony with the mild, that is, to attune herself to the powerlessness rather than to the powerful.
Moreover, the demands of young children also provide her with what St. Bernard, one of the great architects of monasticism, called the "monastic bell". All monasteries have a bell. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism, told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang, they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them. He was adamant that they respond immediately, stating that if they were writing a letter they were to stop in mid-sentence when the bell rang. The idea in his mind was that when the bell called, it called you to the next task and you were to respond immediately, not because you want to, but because it's time for that task and time isn't your time, it's God's time. For him, the monastic bell was intended as a discipline to stretch the heart by always taking you beyond your own agenda to God's agenda.
Hence, a mother raising children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative, is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart. For years, while raising children, her time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place, and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. She hears the monastic bell many times during the day and she has to drop things in mid-sentence and respond, not because she wants to, but because it's time for that activity and time isn't her time, but God's time. The rest of us experience the monastic bell each morning when our alarm clock rings and we get out of bed and ready ourselves for the day, not because we want to, but because it's time.
The principles of monasticism are time-tested, saint-sanctioned, and altogether-trustworthy. But there are different kinds of monasteries, different ways of putting ourselves into harmony with the mild, and different kinds of monastic bells. Response to duty can monastic prayer, a needy hand can be a monastic bell, and working without status and power can constitute a withdrawal into a monastery where God can meet us. The domestic can be the monastic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Parents Visit

My mom and dad came to visit us two weeks ago. I know, it's been a long time since I really blogged. But we had an awesome visit. We hung out by the pool, did odd jobs around the house, shopped, saw some sights or just hung out and played dominoes. I hadn't seen my parents in about a year so it was wonderful to spend about 9 days together. We were so sad to see them go, but will cherish the memories of this visit. Love you mom and dad! And miss you already!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Child's First Liberty

A Child's First Liberty

The liberty of the person who can make himself do what he ought is the first of the rights
that children claim as persons. (Charlotte Mason)

We are all either slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness. (Paul of Tarsus)

Ask the typical American child, “What is it like to be an adult?” And, the great majority will respond, “You get to do what you want.” Undoubtedly, such a statement fails to describe the lives of the vast majority of adults who must submit to the dictates of their employment, consider the needs of spouse and children, labor to cut the grass and clean the house, in summary, who must live a life structured more by needful responsibility than by whimsical desire. Yet, if this be the case, how is it that so many children have an image of adulthood which is so patently false. And, what are the consequences for children who possess such a conception. Are we not setting them up for lives of irresponsibility, frustration and unhappiness?

Perhaps our children are picking up on our own adolescent fantasy, the dream that doing whatever one wants whenever one wants is both a realistic possibility and the secret to happiness. Despite all the advertisements to the contrary, it is simply not possible to always “have it your way,” nor is it even desirable. After all, so many of our desires are merely reflections of well marketed, passing fads. And, so many more of our desires are nothing but momentary cravings. How often do we find ourselves wanting that which does not fulfill? The third piece of chocolate cake is more likely to make us sick than to satisfy. Yet still we want it. Do not life’s truest and deepest satisfactions (deepening knowledge, loving relationship, and fruitful labor) often require us to forego the indulgence of momentary desire? And isn't it true that whimsical, self-indulgent desire is much more the tyrant than the liberator.

If indeed living by chance desire rather than higher principal is a form of bondage, how do parents and teachers foster the higher life? Consider that no child is born knowing how to orient to the world, knowing what to think and what not to think, what to do and what not to do. Children possess a generalized sense that there is a right and wrong but little knowledge of what is right and wrong. They look to primary care-givers to inform them as to the basic rules of life. And, their primary care-givers will convince them of one of the following:
· Life is about doing what I want.
· Life is about doing what is right and good.
As in most of life’s endeavors, there are errors to be made on the right and on the left. From time to time, we encounter the adult with an authoritarian bent, who seeks excessive, arbitrary control over children. Such a stance is indeed destructive. The “because I want you to” or “because I said so” of an adult is a poor substitute for the peaceful, patient, and principled pursuit of that which is right and good. Children can never joyfully accept a parenting strategy based upon the premise that adults get to do what “they want” but children must conform and obey. Children raised in such an environment almost always respond in either fearful dependency or angry rebellion. A recognition of the equal dignity of both children and adults but the relative ignorance and moral weakness of children (as compared to the mature adult) implies the following responsibilities for each:
· Neither adult nor child is free to orient life around the principle of “I want”
· Both adult and child are constrained by the “must” of pursuing what is right and good.
· It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to inform children as to what is right and good and then to hold them accountable to it.
· It is the responsibility of children to trust and obey their parents and teachers.
· It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to be worthy of such trust and obedience.
· Parents and teachers are worthy of such trust and obedience when they submit their own lives to that which is right and good. Parents and teachers become unworthy of trust and obedience when they orient their lives around the principle of “I want”.
We must not use the sins of the few as a means to obfuscate and justify the sins of the many. The majority parenting style tends to change with the day’s fashion. And, authoritarianism is certainly not fashionable. Rather, our contemporary culture endorses a kind of parental libertarianism. Consider the following true stories:
· Arriving at their new home, a couple invited their five year old son to look over the house and choose his room. The boy promptly chose the master suite, leaving his parents to a much smaller bedroom. The parents moved their things into the smaller room.
· A mother was in the habit of allowing her eight year old daughter to choose, without limitation, her own clothes. One cold December day, the little girl decided she wanted to wear her bikini swimsuit. Scantily clad, the girl pranced around all day, both inside and out.
· A father spent in excess of two hours trying to reason with his four year old daughter as to why it was good to put on shoes and socks before going outside. In the end, he gave up in exasperation and simply carried his shoeless daughter to the car.
· A teacher rewards her students with a piece of candy every time a student does that which he ought.
Arguably, none of these adults are wicked. All possess a sincere, good will for their children. But all behaved quite foolishly, potentially undermining the well being of the very children they love. Intentional or not, adults are constantly providing children with life lessons. In each of these stories, a child was instructed with the following lesson: “What a little boy or little girl wants is what matters most.” A little boy should have the room he wants regardless of parents’ greater need for space and privacy. A little girl should be able to wear whatever she wants regardless of considerations of its appropriateness. A little girl should be able to do what she wants unless convinced otherwise. There is no need to trust and obey. Students need not do what they ought unless adequately bribed. Children learn such lessons well.
Many adults have rightly rejected the stance that life for children is about what I, the adult, want. Unfortunately, many have made the new focus to be what the child wants. Pity the thirty year old who desperately holds onto the illusion that life is about doing only that which self “wants”, unless suitably convinced or suitably bribed. And remember that “the boy is author to the man”.
At Ambleside schools, we are very intentional in our efforts to ensure a consistent message.
· Life is not about what teachers “want”.
· Life is not about what students “want”.
· Life is about what is “right and good”.
We encourage all parents and teachers to do the same. Consider the following excerpt from Charlotte Mason’s essay, Concerning Children as Persons:
The child who has learned that, by persistent demands, he can get leave to do what he will, and have what he likes, whether he do so by means of stormy outcries or by his bewitching, wheedling ways, becomes the most pitiable of all slaves, the slave to chance desires; he will live to say with the poet:
“Me this unchartered freedom tires’
I feel the weight of chance desires.”

Indeed, he already feels this weight, and that is why he is fretful and discontented and finds so little that is delightful in his life. Let him learn that “do as you’re bid” is a child’s first duty; that the life of his home is organized on a few such injunctions as “be true,” “be kind,” “be courteous,” “be punctual,” and that to fail in any of these respects is unworthy and unbecoming; more, let him be assured that such failures are of the nature of sin and are displeasing to God, and he will grow up to find pleasure in obedience, and will gradually gather the principles which should guide his life.
Education as formation not mere information
A monthly publication of Ambleside Schools International
For the purposes of advancing a renewal in education
in accord with the principles of Charlotte Mason

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Peter Is Walking!

Peter has been taking some steps for the past couple of weeks or so. But this week he is the brave little guy and has been pretty much walking as much as possible. He is so cute. We are thrilled to have a toddling little toddler in our home. He is just such a treasure of a baby and adorable of course. We are just enjoying every moment of his life, growth, and development. We will soon post a video clip of him walking but we wanted all of you to know the great news!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Story of Stuff

You really must see The Story of Stuff with your children. It is very eye opening and informative about how we can stop the waste that we contribute to and how our very lives can improve and the lives of others can also improve. We learned that 99% of consumed products are disposed of!!
But it's more than just recylcing, it's changing the way we see things. Many people work so they can buy more stuff or pay for the stuff they've already purchased and then the cycle begins all over again.
Trust me, this video is very educational and the whole family should watch it!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Peter's First Birthday!!!

Today Peter turned one year old. It is hard to believe that a year has gone by all ready. We have enjoyed watching Peter grow and learn. We are blessed to have a healthy baby boy and we give thanks to God for our precious blessing, for all our blessings. Thank you to all of you who helped us celebrate with cards, gifts, and phone calls for Peter. That was so sweet and Peter is enjoying everything!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Little Flu Humor

We recently got over the Flu and it was not fun. See my previous blog on that. Anyway, I thought I would add a little Flu Humor with a sarcastic You Tube video that gives one of the reasons why we don't get the Flu shot.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pasta Time

I love to make fresh pasta. It's delicious and everyone likes it. But it is work. Well I was blessed recently, for our 2nd Anniversary, with a connector for my Kitchen Aid. I make the pasta then I run it through the kitchen aid mixer to flatten the dough then cut it into shapes like fettucinni and spaghetti, or angel hair or even ravioli.


Luther was Confirmed last night. It was a very long beautiful Mass. The bishop gave a lovely homily that was serious and made us all consider our faith and how it affects our lives, yet he was funny and engaging. Luther brought up the gifts. The bishop read the letters that each of the children wrote to him about why they wanted to recieve the Sacrament of Confirmation. All the letters were very though out.

Unfortunately, we forgot our camera with all the hubbub of getting ready and rushing out. But we should be getting a picture from our Priest who always arranges a photograph session when we have Communions and Confirmations.

We stayed after the mass for a gathering. Food was served for us and we had a lovely time of fellowship. We got two invitations to visit at people's homes but it was getting late, Sara was in pain, and Peter was getting fussy, Nicolas fell and scraped his elbow and was miserable about it, so we just went home afterwards.

The only thing that could have made the night better would be having all of you, dear family and friends from up north, be able to be here. We miss you all!

Family Game Night

There are several games that our family plays regularly, they are: Monopoly, Scrabble, Pay Day, Clue, Upwords, Blokus, and several card games.
We don't have a specific family game night, although I think we should. We just play whenever we are bored and need something to do.
Some of you have not heard of Blokus or Upwords. Blokus is a very easy game for ages 5 and up. Here is the link to the site

This next game, Upwords, is a cool word game similar to Scrabble only a bit easier for children to play. You make a word and then you can change a letter or two to make a new word and collect the points. Just make sure that when you change the word it doesn't mess up the other word connected to it, or that it works with the other word. Have fun and have a family game night! Turn off the t.v. pop some popcorn and have some laughs!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Blessed Easter

We had a lovely Easter celebration here at home with my family from Pa. They drove so far to visit and we are so grateful for their sacrifice. We had about 4 days to visit, so we tried to squeeze in as many good times together in that time. We went to the park, the museum, and took a bus tour through Montgomery. We also took them to our parish to attend some of the masses of Holy Week. We attended the traditional Easter Vigil Mass where a family of five joined the Catholic Church that night. It was a lovely Mass.

We spent Easter Sunday coloring eggs, had an egg hunt, and enjoyed our last day to visit. There were so many things we wanted to do, but not enough time. But the most important thing we did do was to spend time together: talking, laughing, eating, and playing. What more do you need?
The weather was great and we look forward to the next time we can all be together again.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Flu, flu, go away!

We are finally over the flu. It was horrible. Poor Peter is on his third ear infection. Hopefully his last for a while. Today Nicolas has an earache, but no one has flu or cold symptoms. It was a rough couple of weeks. This flu caused our fevers to shoot up to as high as 103.8 and higher for the little ones. Thankfully Tom stayed healthy throughout the ordeal.

Hopefully we will stay healthy for the rest of Spring. Speaking of which, spring is definitely here. It was 78 degrees yesterday and has stayed in the 70's for a few days now. We hope the weather continues to stay lovely for my sister's visit next week! We can't wait to see them. We haven't seen them since Thanksgiving 06'. They will finally get to meet Peter, who is now ten and a half months old.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's fun to be at the YMCA

(not actual YMCA facility)

On Monday we all joined the YMCA. Don't sing the song, Tom hates it! LOL. Anyway, we are enjoying it immensely. It is only $57 a month for all of us. We have access to all the work out classes, the weight room, the bikes and elypticals, stair masters, etc.. The kids love to swim most of all. And believe it or not, we have worked out everyday this week so far! We shall see how long the enthusiasm lasts!!