Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Whole Different Perspective















After hearing some potentially very good news regarding the property, we thought we would visit and see how it's doing. 

Molly hadn't been out to see it since we first found it almost a year and half ago. She took half of these pictures. So many interesting things to capture.

We brought some cleaning items and a broom and made it better than when we arrived. We started making lists of things we will need after closing and spent time out enjoying nature. 

I love how we can see so much of the pretty views of the property from every room! 

I have been cautious about the whole process, trying not to get too excited; then intentionally cautiously optimistic for months, now just plain happily waiting for a final ..final word..!!

Instead of saying if we move,  today I caught myself saying, "when we are living here..."

I am more excited than I thought I would be and I actually now have a count down to when I'll really be delighted...!

Friday, August 29, 2014

7 Friday Quick Takes - times are changing

1. Good news on the house buying front: we received approval things should start moving forward this month...holding our breath in excitement...!!!

2. It is a season of change around here with Max heading back to school, most likely only to return for visits, no more moving back home. He has his own apartment and is in negotiations for a job after graduation. Praise God! Number one has officially left the nest.
3. Craig's job changed. So the way it is with him, a job change is usually accompanied by a move, maybe karma from all our relocation job changes over the years. Haha. If something is going to change, then everything should change.

4. 
The kids played at their old friends' house last week, down the street from our old house. Molly usually takes them and brings them home. This time I picked them up. It was weird to drive down the streets I drove down for eight years of my life. The car seemed to drive on auto pilot, it felt so familiar that it felt very strange. The kids talked me into driving by our old house. Turning on our old street made my stomach hurt. Everything looked the same, it just wasn't ours anymore. The new owners were having new carpet installed and the little neighbor girl told me they painted over my faux painted walls. They thought it looked camo. I laughed at that. I guess it could have looked that way to them. No hurt feelings, it's their house. 

 I am thankful the kids keep up these friendships.

5. My youngest cousin moved to our area from Tennessee this week. We had them over for dinner last night, and it turned out to be her birthday. My oldest sister came and we had a very full table. It was delightful to have a bit of Tennessee here. These visits and catch up on everybody happen only when we visit there. Listening to them talk with their distinct middle Tennessee southern accents just made me so happy! They are brave adventurous souls moving to such a large city, and  possess optimism and excitement to take on the world. 



6.
Hoping for a cooling of temperatures to match the "fall" goings on...looks like we will stay in the 90's for a while. Ready to say goodbye to August.

7. 
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School - Embracing Nonconformity

Today is the start of Back to School Season around our community.

What does that matter to me, a homeschooler? I choose when I start and stop my year. We have flexibility and freedoms at our discretion. Heck, we already started back to school two weeks ago.

I went to school and I remember those back to school butterflies and first day excitement. The newness, the expectation.

I remember also it is overrated and quickly dies off in the dull routine of regular classes. Memories of being interrupted when just about to figure out that math problem and the bell rings and math can't be thought about it again until a few more classes go by, then after school distractions are over, math can finally picked back up before dinner time. Rush, rush, hurry, hurry.

Our school plan is an individualized educational experience. Using a college model of studies, our students work at their own pace, explore what interests them, not marched off from class to class at every 50 minutes past the hour, ruled by a bell and rules on when to eat and have a potty break. We do have curricula, syllabi and deadlines which they help pick and are allowed go to the bathroom as needed. They don't usually get lost on the way back down the hall.

We homeschool for many reasons. These are merely a few.

Yesterday we were living the life of summer. Today everything around here changed just because the neighbor kids went to school. The atmosphere outside drastically changed.

I don't wish everyone else home schooled because when school is in season, we can get our school done uninterrupted: no neighbor kids knocking all day long to play with my kids. We do seek out others that do and work it into our schedule.

The girls made friends here and have enjoyed playing outside most days this summer. Today was obviously silent while they were gone to school. We had a more productive day. We were able to get many subjects done, even after sleeping in, having breakfast with their dad before he left for a business trip, picking up truck from shop and working on some art activities in our free time, play with neighbors after their return from school. Relaxing pace, time to think and wonder and complete assignments at their own pace.

Every education will have holes of missed learning opportunities. Public, private, tutored or home. It is reality. Quality of learning and how well these holes get filled depends on the student's desire to learn. I have seen my kids possess the same insatiable curiosity that my husband has that has earned him his real education far more that his public school and college experience. He loves to learn. He is always curious, asks why, how and he listens, he observes. Nothing seems to be uninteresting to him. I am the primary educator of our school, but this gift of curiosity they inherit from their father will fill in the gaps where I unintentionally leave unfilled.

We have chosen a different path. Intentionally.

That curiosity leads the kids to wonder what the other educational systems would be like for them, what if they got on the bus with their friends. They all wonder at some point, girls more so than the boys, it's natural. My older kids understand early on why we chose to home school and, looking back, agree it is the best option for us. The two older compete in college with kids of all walks of life and educational backgrounds, and they are doing very well. They have figured out how to get along and succeed. They weren't sheltered to the point of harm, rather it taught discerning skills and helped prepare them for success. 

That doesn't mean in comparison they don't miss out. They miss out of many structured school activities: band, sports and dances. We fill our time with things that interest us: activities, outings and free time. There are good and excellent teachers that my kids don't have to teach them, but they have met good and excellent people in every day life who influence them in a different way. They have time to figure things out and solve on their own or find a solution another way.

We miss out on social opportunities and fill that time with friends and activities we select. Not equivalent. But what life is? And really, intentionally I am not striving for that same experience. I want different. I seek different and choose this path for those known and unknown differences. 

We chose not to conform to how it's supposed to be done. 

Our family has been schooling on our own for a  long time. There is a certain age when each child starts to own it themselves, usually junior high. The social yearnings are strong and the curiosity is unrelenting. It has been a good life lesson to see and feel that their life will take a different path. 

Home schooled students are people too; they are social creatures and crave shared experiences. I can work to fill their time deliberately and intentionally or accept the times when I intentionally don't and enjoy down time together, time to be bored, be lonely. None of which will kill them, I promise. Many times, great ideas, interests and projects are born during this type of down time.

It's odd how many kids congratulate mine on being home schooled because they get to sleep in, not have to deal with certain aspects of school. Maybe they imagine no unnecessary busyness, systemized interruptions, lack of freedom or they assume homeschoolers just don't have to do anything since they are home with mom.

We do sleep in many days, and we catch up late in the evenings. We get ahead, we get behind, we do it differently. Sometimes we put subjects on hold for months, sometimes we finish months early. I know sometimes my kids secretly wish they could walk in another's shoes for a day to see what they are missing and if it's okay that they missed it. Obviously, I believe it is more than okay that we chose our own way, in reality it's been the greatest gift. Every walk is different, the point is to experience and learn from each's own path.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Theme Thursday - google image

Theme Thursday at Clan Donaldson an interesting exercise to see what's comes up on google search.

So my first name last name search revealed this:

 None of which are me.
So I googled my blog name and Mary and got this
All of which are my pictures.
And scrolled down, finally #57 down shows me.
That's not me:
That's Euly,
and she showed up higher than one of me.
#57 showed my blog profile photo over there and up to the right--->^>^>^>

I have kept my last name off the blog in a naive attempt to protect my kids' identity from future searches. Naive because when I googled in more detail, we all show up identified in photos on our parish website. 
Interesting exercise. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Enjoying Endings and Beginnings

We helped Max get settled in his apartment to start his senior year of college. It is a great home for him. He is so happy and excited about his future. I am so proud of him and so thankful he found his interests young. I could have guessed he'd want to be an engineer back from his work in first grade:

We used this trip to Galveston as our last little vacation get away before we are all in a routine with school. Although this year we are starting with the motivation to get ahead in most subjects to prepare for time off during our next move. We don't have as many extra curricula activities starting off this year so we can make progress quickly.

We tried to avoid the beach, seaweed and stingrays and bad experiences. Euly's foot is still tender at the spot of the  stingray barb that got her last month and seaweed is still all over the beaches and in the warm waters, so we spent an afternoon at Schlitterbahn. Last time we came to this park was Max's first semester and Lilly was a little one that I held the whole time. Now she is an adventurous big girl, with no end of energy. We ride all rides that allowed me to take her. Some she was just too short, not courage, height. The lazy river wasn't exciting enough so she practiced swimming and pulling the raft. I am amazed at her swimming progress this summer!

We did go for an after dinner evening walk on the beach and an early morning visit to say goodbye. No one swam but Lilly got wet slipping in a puddle on the pier.

Since we visit many times during the year, we try to change up the mood of visits. We have stayed at an old "haunted" hotel, the state park on the beach and different hotels around the island. Now, the kids take turns staying with Max at the apartment. They have fun with that "city" life and the rest of us aren't as cramped in a hotel room or rv. 

 


 









All Good Things Must Come to an End







This summer has been full, yet it is always sad to say goodbye to the lazy days and saddle ourselves with the routines of a school year. Even though we homeschool year round, we cannot escape the realities looming in the next weeks: it's school season once again. 

Max will leave for the last time, starting his senior year at Texas A&M. We will go help him get settled in his apartment and have a few carefree days before his semester begins.
Bittersweet, but full of hope and happiness for what his future holds.

Molly begins classes at the local community college for her sophomore year of college. Yes, she just graduated high school. Thank you dual credit. She has a full load of challenging classes while working. We accompany her this semester visiting different degee plans at different universities that have her interest. We have intentionally delayed this process until she had time to refine her interests. 

As it happens, each next kids down from the first grows up faster. I don't know if it is only that I had the oldest front and center of my attention for so many years, then when Max stepped aside, Molly was already a young lady. And here Nick is towering behind her to jump ahead. They were there all along, but I didn't have to acknowledge their maturity and independence until it was inevitable. Nick is studying for his driver's permit. 

The younger three are with me most of the day, as I soak in their youthful joy and share in their childhood fun. We have different adventures than we did with my first set. Different is good. I don't let myself compare and woulda coulda myself into a guilt trip. I love and treasure my time with all my kids. 

We are all in a state of transition, with so many unknowns in our future. And that's okay. 
It's all good.
Every day is a gift.
Especially days we can relax and laugh and enjoy the sunshine, and play in the rain.  And even on those days that find us working hard to complete checklists and make it out the door on time are formative and special. 

I imagine this school year will hold lots of changes and lots of firsts, a permanent move and whole new area of activities to inspire interest and learning. In the meantime, we are working hard to get ahead on our syllabi to be ready for any and all tempting distractions.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Weekend Daybook



Outside my window...it's hot. It's the hottest part of the year and it's horrible uncomfortable to be outdoors. I really feel for people who have to make a living working outdoors. It's painfully hot, dehydrating hot outside. Craig, Nick and Euly worked at the church property Saturday, collecting and burning brush. As it if wasn't hot enough already.

I am thinking...about missing Tao Kwon Do. I didn't realize how much I needed all the stretches. We are trying to re plan our school days to include exercise in the morning, since the mid day homeschool class is too disruptive to our days.

I am praying for..persecuted Christians in Iraq and around the world.

I am thankful...for this blessed life! 

In the kitchen...we are cooking up all kinds of goodies today. Euly and I went to Costco, forgetting how small the apartment refrigerator actually is. So we are mixing up, baking and cooking up goodies to eat in the week. Craig made a fruit salad with yogurt, honey and vanilla. Delicious!

I am creating...well, not creating, re stuffing my favorite chair pillows because they exploded feathers all over the place yesterday.
I am going...to Galveston to help settle Max in for the start of his senior fall  semester. 

I am reading...aloud Sounder and Judy's Journey. When you read Lois Lenski, do you ham up the accents? 

I am watching..sailing movie
Kon Tiki a movie about Norwegian explorers to personally recreate the journey of Pre Colombian Polynesian native across the Pacific from Peru to the Polynesian Islands.

Maidentrip following a two year voyage of Laura Dekker as the youngest person to sail around the world alone. Starting at 14. 14!

I am listening to...sermons on Audio Sancto (thanks for the reminder Jennifer!).

I am learning...about brain therapy, and how to implement exercises In
 Brain Integration therapy Manual. I'm pulling a post together with my recent discoveries.

Around the house...something has happened on the short sale. The mortgage company  requested all contracts and supporting documents, and promised an answer within 15-30 days. 

I am pondering...the debate and discussions from this last week inspired by the suicide of Robin Williams. The Church as a clear position on suicide: it is murder, it is wrong.  We aren't to judge anyone's soul when they die, and those who get to the point on quitting life must be under great distress to make that decision. 
Our hearts are big enough to love and forgive those who take their own lives.  Big enough to love those in pain and agony that are left to deal with the awful aftermath and questions. All souls need our prayers and our prayers are never wasted. It scares me a little to see how many people want to glorify this type of passing, assuring themselves that everyone gains heaven upon any and every death. That's not how it works. "They were in unbearable pain therefore death is justified." Nope. God's Will be done, not ours.
We need to educate ourselves in our faith. We need to acknowledge the existence of heaven and hell and work in this life to attain heaven in the next. To deny the possibility of hell is playing Russian roulette with the fate of our souls. We have the gift from Jesus of The Church to show us the way.

A favorite quote/verse/prayer for today...this verse during the Canon jumped out at me:

What return shall I make to the Lord for all he hath given unto me? I will take the Chalice of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from my enemies.

A few plans for the rest of the week...have a productive school week, then a last break in Galveston.

Something that made me laugh, chuckle...Lilly and her enthusiasm for life!



A peek into my day...the girls have been able to wear their dresses to the many church services lately. All of my girls (and me) we able to pick up nice and modest dresses for church at Palais Royal. 






Wishing you a happy week!

Friday, August 15, 2014

7 Friday Quick Takes

Linking up with Jen at Conversion Diary for Quick Takes

1. Happy Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven!
My favorite Marian feast! All of us will be able to go to High Mass tonight at our parish. It's rare to have us all together for a mass during the week, and getting more rare. I'm really looking forward to celebrating with my family and my church family. 

2
Our church family is expanding and getting to know each other better through the capital campaign to raise funds to build a church.  We have met so many families that we might not have otherwise. We have had opportunities to get to know some even better with the added meetings we have had. We are blessed! And we are getting close to our first goal which will get us on the property.

Tonight will be the third Latin Mass I will attend this week celebrated by three different priests. I just find that remarkable and feel so grateful. Not long ago Latin mass wasn't available in our diocese outside on one on Sunday. Sadly one was a Requiem Mass for a father in our parish, because of cancer left behind a lovely wife and four children, the youngest isn't walking yet, the oldest is six. Keep widows in your prayers. 
When I die, I want a Requiem Mass in the traditional Latin rite. Beauty and truth, tears and pain, but celebrating what we all should long for: a happy death.

4
We have received a change, probably even safe to say, progress in our prospective purchase of the house in short sale. They have to rename this process to a Long Excruciating Game of Risk Waiting for Seller's Mortgage Company to Determine Your Fate as Nameless People Take Their Own Sweet Time Deciding Whether They Will Sell the House or Not.
I have renewed hope, which is great news for my steadfast husband, who never waivers, and must tire of watching his wife flit around and battle impatience.

5. 
My college kids both took summer classes, which end today, and have to quickly jump in to the mode for fall planning. Max starts his senior year of college. He has some great hopeful opportunities for securing a job when he is finished in May. These are the last days of his last lazy summer hanging out at home with his parents(while working full time). No sadness, all excitement as he begins his journey. I am so proud of him and his hard work. I am so excited for him as he reaches his goals. 

Molly has a full load starting up at the community college. She is taking some interesting classes and will be at a campus many of her friends will be attending. We need to plan some college visits to see where she's like to transfer next year. 

Molly is sporting a new look for the last days of summer

The rest of the kids have already started school. Nicholas is a motivated student this year. Makes me so happy to see us start off with motivation and excitement! Apartment life has opened our schedule with no yard work or time consuming household chores, the kids are happy to jump into school since our schedules are open. It's been good for me to focus on something other than why I thought a short sale would go quickly. 

6. Apartment life has been an adjustment, but there are many good things about our temporary residence. The pool for starters. Lilly is a swimmer now. She has confidence and jumps in. Having a pool accessible to us has made all the difference. My other kids learned to swim at much younger  ages than Lilly is now. And she has always been the most cautious of my kids yet. So to see her joyfully jump in and swim about with confidence makes my heart happy.



There are many people here in the same situation we are, waiting for a house, in some stage of transition. People around here make friends easily. My kids crave to be outside, so they have met most of our neighbors coming and going. They have met all the dog owners that live here, since the dogs also crave to be outside. They know all the names of the dogs. Another family with lots of kids moved in above our apartment and have provided good friendships for Ceci and Lily. 

Our dogs are doing well and enjoying life on the ranch with Miss Betty. We are so grateful to her for her help. The best things out of this home purchase delay has been the time we have spent with her out at the property, helping with odd chores for her animals, and sharing life stories.

Happy Feast Day! Happy Friday! Have a refreshing weekend!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mid Summer Daybook


Outside my window...a summer afternoon thunderstorm is rolling in. It's very humid but is considered a cool day for August at 90 degrees.

I am thinking...patience is not my virtue and my lack of patience (waiting on the time for the short sale unknown on the house we are waiting and waiting to buy...) has propelled me to look at other properties in the market. We spent an afternoon looking at three potentials, but none match up to the potential of the one we are waiting for... Back into forced patience mode. Unless we talk ourselves into one of the other properties. 

I'm almost talked into this one, except it has an unusual acreage set up. Why are we drawn to the unusual or unique properties?
Another reason I want to get settled already, the dogs have been giving Miss Betty a little trouble. They run off if she turns her back. Usually Gromit goes alone, but lately he's talked Shelia into going off with him. They have gone off exploring in each different direction from the property. They have been very lucky that there are wonderful dog loving people out there who play with and detain them after calling me to come get them. There are very good Samaritans in the world. Saint Francis, pray for us!

I am praying for..my little ones to battle this cold, sore throat and malaise that we are besieged with at the moment.

I am thankful...for having the best husband in the world! This weekend marked 27 years or marriage, and he secretly arranged a weekend get away which included pampering me with skin treatments, massage, mani and pedi, followed by a wonderful dinner out at Morton's. Isn't he the best!?!


I am reading...Rush Revere aloud to the kids. Answering the old question, how to retell the story of the Pilgrims that hasn't been told the same way, and to make American history interesting. Answer seems to be: add a time traveling, talking magical horse. Worked for us. Kids loved it.

Also reading  
Failure is Impossible: Susan B Anthony in her own words. Revolutionary woman. 

Also Grain Brain by David Perlmutter Just to remind myself I really don't need that tortilla, biscuit or piece of bread. We really have eliminated most grain in our diets, but we still have work to do. Good motivation, keep our brains healthy. Unfortunately the most common summer food in our menu is ice cream, flavors vary.

Scanning and prereading 
Father Laux's Church History. We are thinking of using it for a CCD class for kids who were confirmed this past year. The 1950's B&W format may seem dull, but the material is very good quality.

I also have started reading
Guerilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids A Read Education With or Without School
A real conversation starter amoung moms while hanging around the pool with school aged kids. I haven't gotten very far and I'm not sure there is anything new for me, but I'm looking for a back to school pep talk.

I am watching...

It was loaned to me by a young fellow at church as his favorite.
I'm not normally a John Wayne fan, I don't enjoy westerns. This was a romantic comedy set in Ireland. Beautiful countryside. A funny story. Didn't let my littles watch. Those passionate kisses and dragging his wife through the countryside might be a bit much for my impressionable girls. I wanted to watch to discuss with the young man who was sweet enough to loan it to me.

I am learning...how fun 
Busy bags are. I wish I had done this with the other kids more. Lilly is happy at have found it and Ceci loves being Lilly's "teacher".



I am pondering...my crashed computer. After starting at the blue screen of computer death, I asked my son to help. Max is convinced it is a video card, which must have crashed in the latest serious lightning storm, when lightning surged the plugs with electricity, and I hadn't put my computer on a surge protector. Dang. Not have I done a recent back up. Double dang. Photos, personal data all inaccessible, for the time being, but Max promised me it is not lost forever. I have been doing necessary work on my old computer, lately used as the game computer. I found an old camera data card and loaded the pics to see what these were. Found old pics of a chubby Lilly baby and the one of the girls: 

One of my favorite things...finding old photos that might have been lost. Also seeing these three having silly fun together from a couple of years back:


A favorite quote for today...


Something that made me laugh...from an email:

They're Back! Those wonderful Church Bulletins! Thank God for church ladies with typewriters. These sentences (with all the BLOOPERS) actually appeared in church bulletins or were announced in church services: 

The Fasting & Prayer Conference includes meals.

-------------------------- 

The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'

-------------------------- 

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands. 

-------------------------- 

Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you. 

-------------------------- 

Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help. 

-------------------------- 

Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again,' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.

-------------------------- 

For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
 
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At the evening service, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice. 

-------------------------- 

The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.  

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Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. Is done. 

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The pastor would appreciate it 

Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday.  Please use the back door. 

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Hope you are having a great summer.