Monday, June 25, 2012

Immaculate Heart of Mary, Homeschool Convention

I almost talked myself out of going to my favorite, annual Homeschool Convention because they changed their location requiring a longer drive. I am glad that I did go and thought that I would share some of the highlights as I understand them from the speakers that I was privileged to hear.
The first speaker that I heard was Dr. Ray Guarendi. He is a psychologist and a homeschooling father of ten adopted children. He is also an author of many books and a stand-up comedian who has been on many national TV and radio shows. He is hilarious! His main point, which he illustrates through one funny example after another, is that parents these days are way too lenient! He says that lectures don't work. When a kid misbehaves, he needs to do one to two hours of forced manual labor ( chores)! He emphasized that parents control the electrical outlets, the rides to activities, dessert and many other things that they should remove the minute they get some grief or attitude from youngsters. Today's kids do not have the same respect for their parents' authority that we did.   We can gain it back by a lot less talk and a whole lot more action. Remove every privilege and make their life very Spartan-like instead of the "cushy" life most kids enjoy and stick to it until the attitude changes.

For those with adult children who leave the Faith, it isn't surprising. Our Culture is toxic and we swim in the culture. He emphasized that some of our kids will serve the church and others will serve time! It's just the way it is. Jesus couldn't get most people to follow Him even though he is God so what do we expect? We can't even do a card trick much less miracles! He said that you can be a much better example of our Spiritual Faith  by getting along well with difficult family members than by knowing all about the Saints but acting like a jerk. It is more important to LIVE the Faith than just teach it.
 I later went to his talk entitled " Lessons From Life From Children". This was as funny as his earlier talk. He delivers a great message while keeping the audience rolling! He first pointed out that as parents we tend to ask how our kids how they are and they no sooner open their mouths then we launch into our lectures.
He called women "Estrogen Americans" and said that there is one thing that men hate to hear. That is, "I think we need to talk" which, he said, is code language for " Do you have an hour because I'm going to tell you everything that's wrong with you..."!

He stated that one of the main things that he is hearing on his radio call-in show and in talking to people is that women are THE authority figure in their homes. Disney Dad wants to be Mr. Good-Times who is laid back and oblivious to what is going on. They seem to be only along for the ride. They say to the kids "Do what your mother tells you. I do what your mother tells me. Why else do you think I'm still alive???" lol. Most men wouldn't let anybody else talk to their wives the way their kids talk to her all day long! He said that a husband needs to PROTECT her from this!  He mentioned that she will feel very romantic towards him if he would protect her from the kids ganging up on her. He used to slip his sons a couple of bucks to get sassy with her so he could step in to save the day!
Women are in the trenches. Dad gets out and about in the world and is able to keep his sanity a little longer! It's no wonder that she is no longer the girl he married! He said the worst thing that Dad can say is, "If it were up to me I'd let you, but your mother...." Husbands shouldn't make their wives out to be the crazy, unreasonable one, the Bad Guy.

Parents always want to know "why" a kid does what he does. " What is in his mind?" they wonder. He said that we don't have to know why, we just have to DO something about the behavior. Behavior change is a slow, agonizing process. It is an uphill slog. The measure of a saint is in his or her  PERSEVERANCE. Human change is to persevere over a long period of time. You don't rest until you get to Heaven!
 Dr. Guarendi has a DVD of many of his skits on the topic of "Why Be Catholic?" He left the church for 10 years and was very active in another one before returning. I am told that like his talks, his DVD is  hilarious- delivering a great message while making you laugh your head off. I purchased this and am looking forward to watching it with my family.
The next talk I attended was given by Fr. Sean Kopczynski which was called " The Book of Tobias: Changing the World Through Our Children". He obtained a post-graduate degree in Engineering before becoming a priest. His was a serious talk on the book of Tobias and all of the fore-shadowing in it of the marriage between Christ and His Church. One thing that he said that hit me was that parents are off in "Church meetings" while their family is back at home by themselves. He emphasized that the Ten Commandments are written in solid rock for a reason.

Much of his talk was on the Fourth Commandment, "Honor Thy Father and Mother." He believes that many of our problems today can be traced to a disregard for this commandment. Charity begins at home. There should be Kinship at home. It shouldn't be an empty place with what we consider "real life" going on outside of it. The Church defends the family as the core of the social order. Commandment 4 leads the rest of the Social Commandments (5-10). We should be good children and good parents.

Filial Piety helped China to maintain its' Social order for a millenium! Mao tse Tung ushered in communism and was responsible for many deaths. He was a man who hated his father, as did Stalin.
When you split the family, it is like splitting an atom- tremendous pressure and an explosion results. Destructive passions are released. As the family goes, so goes the parish, the church and society.

We should have Masses said for our children and should remove every occasion of sin from our homes. He said that we should never underestimate the power of the Devil. If we don't ask for help from above then we won't get it.
He recommended that we read the Book of Tobias which he said captures most of Salvation History and mentions every level of creation. There are angels, men, birds,dogs,fish, and the demon. It is a story of Heaven and Hell meeting on Earth in a battle for Marriage. He went on to list all the "typeography" from this book.

We should pray to God for discernment in choosing a marriage partner. We need to make sure. In Tobias, the marriage was between two people from the same "tribe." By choosing someone from the same religion, one can pass on the fullness of the Faith in its wholeness-without having it watered down. It is difficult to do this when one parent is struggling against the other.

The Devil hates the institution of marriage. He destroys peace in marriage and sows division. The "head" of the family should be the father and the "heart" the mother. Christ and His Church form an indissoluble bond, like marriage. The Mass is a pleasing odor to God. The devil was smoked out of there (in the book of Tobias). Be married in front of the altar in church, he said. Good families help to make good marriages.
Keep the observance of Sunday rest.The example of parents is super important! Parents should show a good example even when it costs them.The role of the parents cannot be replaced.
The next speaker that I enjoyed listening to was Mr. Dale Ahlquist who spoke on "The Basic Brick for Building a Civilization." He is the president of the American Chesterton Society which propagates the writings of the great philosopher and convert to Catholicism, G.K.Chesterton. I heard this gentleman last year and was intrigued by his knowledge of Chesterton's writings which Ahlquist believes are prophetic. The basic brick that he is talking about is of course, the family.
The world, he says, is the family on a larger scale. We have to live our lives everyday with the people we live with. The attack on the family began with the attack on marriage and on babies. We are undermining our own foundation.
The object of Liberty is Life. The pursuit of happiness is not the pursuit of pleasure. The pursuit of pleasure tends to be the pursuit of unhappiness.
Life, liberty and happiness is found in the HOME. More and more, we are leaving our homes. The family is where life is found. The family is a Kingdom founded on Love which creates its own citizens.
The individual is not the basic unit of society- the family is. Anything that attacks the family is bad for society. A civilization that attacks the family will not survive. The family will outlive it. There is constant cultural pressure on fathers and mothers. Sexual morality has decayed tremendously.

Chesterton had a lot to say about economics, says Ahlquist. Our present economy is proof that massive lending and spending cannot be sustained which is why it is falling apart. We are developing an industrialized consumeristic family. Our work, recreation and education are taking place outside of  the home. The home should be the center of that stuff. We should be a productive household instead of a consumeristic one. The kitchen, workshop and garden of the home used to take care of almost everything it needed. For 1500 years, that was how life was lived. Children were the primary ASSETS of the home! In the 1920's consumerism took over and parents wanted to be amused and have amusements. Today retailers are going out of business because there are not enough people to buy what they have to sell.
He said ( I am not sure if he got this from Chesterton or if this was his personal opinion) that today a college education is the most over- priced and over-rated product  for sale out there. Parents scrape and sacrifice to provide it and find their children coming home to refute everything they ever taught them.
 The predicted Population Bomb has turned out to be the exact opposite of all the warnings. When Social Security started, there were 15 workers for every elder it supported. Today there are three workers for each elder and in the future there will only be two workers to support each elder receiving it.
 The financial center of our country used to be New York. Now it is Washington, D.C. where they are trying to solve our borrowing problems by more borrowing.
Pope Leo the 13th talked about the idea of "Distributism" which Chesterton believed in. Families need to be more autonomous and independent in taking care of their own needs. There needs to be a "Bottom Up " solution to our problems. The solution needs to be done "by "people, not "to" people.

We are witnessing in our society the natural consequences of unnatural actions which is the result of  the devaluation of children.
When things fall apart, The Family and the Church will still be here. We continue to drift away from the hearth and the family.
Civilization decays by forgetting the ordinary things. Modern life exerts great strain and stress on the family. People no longer value normal things and our structure is falling apart.
The last talk that I attended was given by Steven Weidenkopf, a History buff and college professor, who discussed "The Cross and the Crescent". This lecture was about the naval battle of Lepanto which took place on October 7, 1571. This was a struggle between the Ottoman Turks, a fierce and savage Islamic fighting force and the Christian West. The Christians were led by Don Juan of Austria, only 24 years old at the time. This battle was described by Cervantes, who fought in it and later wrote "Don Quixote", as " The greatest day's work seen for centuries". Don Juan told his men that they were to Conquer or Die and to Do Their Duty This Day. To be taken prisoner was to be savagely and inhumanly tortured which was what these Turks were known for. The bottom line is that this young naval commander revolutionized sea warfare by mounting his canons on the sides of his ships rather than just at the bow ( I don't know if this means front or back!). Every sailor was given a rosary and received general absolution before the battle. By the power of The Rosary,  many believe that the winds miraculously changed and the Turks were soundly defeated. This led to the saving of the city of Rome and ultimately, Christendom. The Church still remembers this battle and what it meant by observing the Feast of Our Lady of The Rosary on October 7th each year.
After one of the last talks, they announced the winner of the door prize which happened to be me! This large painting of Saint Anne with the young Mary is now hanging in our living room. She is the grandmother of Jesus and I am enjoying meditating upon that as I sit in my chair in the mornings.

Beach Two

This summer, our favorite swimming hole is less than satisfactory due to reconstruction at the lake. That will be no problem because our cousins have introduced us to Beach II which is a blast!
The main draw is this double-sided dock which the kids go to the end of and jump off into deep water. They also spend quite a bit of time just hanging out on the dock. Lily, the dog, is "Queen of the Dock" and likes to chase the kids right off the end of it which is a lot more fun than it sounds!
There is plenty of nice sand to lay out on. We put life preservers on the young kids because it does get deep but they were very content to play at the edge of the water.
You can see all of our big kids swimming after jumping in.
The lake is very pretty to look at despite its significantly lower level this summer due to construction at its end. I am glad that we will be able to enjoy it in this new way.

Dear Lord Jesus, Please protect all those in and around the water this summer as we relax and enjoy your beautiful creation. Thank you for our Guardian Angels and help us to hear the whisperings of their guidance. We pray that You keep us all safe, if it be Thy Holy Will.  Amen.

Ladies' Luncheon

I was thrilled to be invited to a luncheon given by my good friend at her home. Because it was planned for a Saturday, I thought long and hard before accepting, wondering if my family could spare me for three hours! I came back to my senses and joyfully committed because this is a wonderful bunch of women and I was very honored to be included.
Janette, pictured in the center of the bottom row above, is a gourmet cook! Look what she prepared for these sixteen lucky ladies:
I drank some delicious bubbly Italian Soda and later good coffee, but champagne was available for those who imbibe.

What all of these ladies have in common is our love of Homeschooling. I have known most of these women for over 15 years and have seen some of them occasionally, but most of them very often on our homeschooling journeys. I really respect them and admire them all. This luncheon was timed beautifully as we had just finished another year of hard work!
Of course, weather is everything and this June day was glorious! We ate and visited outside at these shaded tables. The conversation was lively and fun!
Janette was celebrating a milestone birthday and had prepared trivia questions from TV shows that were popular decades ago. Being educators, we all love tests and some gals were VERY good at this!!! I am glad that this wasn't graded because I failed miserably. You know what a TV expert I am. As a group, we were probably more likely to share a book addiction! That would have been some serious competition!
Janette and her family have a large log cabin house in the country. The pastoral scenes were so pleasant and relaxing. Her daughter was a lovely addition to our party.
It's not often that busy Mom's have a chance to enjoy each others' company without the rush of time constraints and the distractions of many children underfoot. This luncheon was an absolute elegant treat and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. Thanks so much, Janette!

Father's Day Gift

Meg bought this kit to make your own "garden stone" over a year ago. She decided to open it and create a wonderful Father's Day gift with it. The top two hand prints are Miss J's and G- Money's.
The little footprints belong to the babies, He-man and Patience.
The kids decorated it with pretty stones...
and Larry loved it!

Deck Envy

I'm just kidding about the "envy" part! We do not envy our children's good fortune, but instead give all the glory to God! Nevertheless, after helping to build Greg and Cindi's spiffy new deck, our own 30 year old deck looked rather sad, worn and dirty! We had always intended to power-wash it. Now was the time!
Larry worked on this project spraying for over 5 hours. We were afraid that our well might go dry but it held out with plenty of water.
You can see the contrast in color above. The right side of the deck has been sprayed and the left side has yet to be done.
Now, the old deck is much cleaner. However, the water pressure may have removed moisture from the wood because it does need to be sanded before it can be stained to prevent splinters! This "simple" project is morphing into something bigger than what we had planned... No surprise there!

All Hands On Deck

Perfect weather, if you like it hot and dry, graced the day as Greg and many family members labored to build a beautiful deck on the back of his and Cindi's house.
The prep work was already done when the help arrived. The lumber had been purchased, the footprint for the deck dug out and some key support footer boards cemented into place.

I saw almost no time wasted while I was there because Greg was clearly in charge of what needed to be done and in what sequence. Everyone worked very hard and steadily.
Having good tools is a huge help. Knowing how to use them is even better!

I loved seeing the Dads from both sides of Greg and Cindi's family working together in addition to brothers, in-laws and a nephew. This is how boys learn to be manly men! 
It won't be long before little He-man will also be toting a hammer...He's going to love his new deck!
The ladies set up a blanket on which to visit and let the cousins play.

I took pictures early in the day as these parallel base boards were being added. I forgot my camera on my return trip in the evening after they had finished building the entire base of the deck in one day!
The next week-end was equally sunny, dry and hot! Tim, Colby and Greg got to work early. Even Uncle Tom stopped by to lend some encouragement.
The guys worked together to add the last board under the siding.
The week before, Sam had shown me the razor sharp "flashing", a piece of aluminum or tin, cut to fit which prevents rainwater from wicking up under the siding. Each of them had gotten cut on its edge. The last board fits together with this flashing for a water resistant seal.
The Carport was a shady place to cut lumber.
Later on, Mom and Dad arrived to hang out with everyone.
Mom always used to watch my father do projects around the house, just to be able to spend time together. That's why I was here, also. We pulled up chairs in the shade, very content to be outdoors together on a beautiful summer day.
It took no time for Dad to jump in and help his grandson. He helped for a good long while, too.
By the following weekend, the rails were up and one set of stairs completed. The huge new deck adds lots of outdoor living space to Greg and Cindi's home. I hope to enjoy a grilled hamburger soon and  someday look forward to watching my grandson play in his big backyard!