Friday, September 30, 2011

PicVids - September 2011

September was a good month for us.

Gabe's Birthday

A slightly blurry, but adorable, shot of the Birthday Boy

The Birthday Boy got special treatment on his birthday. I made pancakes for breakfast. He got to play video games as much as he wanted, without having to give up his turn to anyone. His siblings gave him extra attention. Since he often gets the short end of the stick, being just 2 - now 3! - he really appreciated all this. At his birthday dinner, I asked him what the highlight of his last year was. And then, to put it in terms he could understand, I started asking him what his favorite thing was - Sonic? video games? ipad? candy? cake? He finally answered something else, and after I made him repeat it about 15 times, I finally figured out that he was saying his favorite thing was "birthday". Awww!

Oh yeah, and he's not wearing pants because he's potty-training.

And then came the presents.

Naturally, presents trump the overall birthday experience.

Cause presents are AWESOME.

Even when your siblings and friends keep stealing them.

Julie's First Birthday

Julie is blessed to have godparents who have a daughter her age. They are so similar right now, Ken and I kept remarking on it. I think they even kind of fascinated each other, as much as one year olds do.

We all enjoyed the birthday brownie cake that her godmother made. And the cheese log that I made. Ken made something too1.

She's kissing the doll. Not biting the head off. I promise. I think.

This time she is eating it.

1. That's a joke. Ken spent the whole day making dinner. Which was too spicy for me and the kids, but Angela - Julie's godmother - enjoyed it.


This is from last month, when Julie first started taking getting serious about walking.

This was an interesting phenomenon that the kids got VERY excited about.

As you can see, Jules is ready to be one of the big kids, trying to imitate Savi's jumping jacks.

What can I say? Julie is very photogenic at this age.

Is there a word that means the equivalent of photogenic, for the ears? She's, umm... cute on the ears.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Funny Things Kids Do


Savi walks around behind the chair I'm sitting in, bumping against it several times, and not being quiet at all. Then she calls out, "Mom, where am I?". When I answer, "behind the chair", she says in a wondering tone, "How did you know where I was?".

Bloodthirsty Pirate Jules can find you, too.
Even if you try to hide in the bedroom.


Gabe or Julie had spilled some water on my bedroom floor, and I asked Kyrie to get a towel and clean it up. Kyrie said in reply, "It's your mess, you clean it up."

I laughed at Kyrie instead of reprimanding her, since her tone was not disrespectful. But the kids did get the shaking finger when they kept trying to "help" Gabe unwrap his presents or immediately took the toys out of his hands.
I'm too cool to clean up.


Savi: "I like that [new] toothpaste! The other kind of toothpaste is so kind of not good."

Vampire Bloodthirsty Pirates don't need toothpaste. (Can you see how the outer teeth came in before the inner ones on top?)


While eating the potatoes Ken cooked for breakfast...
Savi: Knock Knock.
Me: Who's there?
Savi: Potato
Me: Potato who?
Savi (in a cute high-pitched voice): "Oh no, a big potato is eating us!"

It's the hot dogs, not the potatoes, that just have a way of defeating Gabe.


Savi, handing me Ken's whiskey glass, said, "Here's Dad's communion cup!"

That's not a communion cup, either, baby girl.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Someday I'll Get a Maid

So one night I'm at my prayer group, and we're, you know, praying. When it was my turn to be prayed over, someone asked God to give me a special gift that would fill my heart up. So of course, when we got home, I started listing all the things that I might want. (Cause, you know, I'm so mature and ... um... not greedy.)

After running my mind over the possibilities - especially a treadmill so that I can go running - I finally thought to myself that what I really would like - what would really put my heart at peace - is a clean, uncluttered house.

Two days later, I woke and read Jennifer Fulwiler's post about stay-at-home moms getting domestic helpHmm. I thought. I think God's saying something here.

So I emailed it to my husband. Who promptly emailed back telling me that I'm not getting a maid.

Being a self-centered enlightened modern woman, I ignored him and started looking up online to find out how much a maid service would cost. When I finally got back a reply, I discovered that only the once-a-month rate might potentially be feasible for us, even though a biweekly cleaning sounded so much better. I decided to pray, hoping that God would see fit to provide us the money for what I wanted. A bit later, doing something different, I came across the following Scripture verse (my emphasis):

Rev 22:1-5 Then the angel showed me the river of life-giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street. On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, once each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there anymore. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will look upon his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Night will be no more, nor will they need light from lamp or sun, for the Lord God shall give them light, and they shall reign forever and ever.

I instantly had a mental picture of life-giving water pouring over my house, cleaning everything out and making it all "sparkle like crystal". Ok, God, I can settle for once a month; I'm just happy you're saying yes to this.

This was followed by about a gazillion references to waiting patiently, "the time is not yet", be patient, wait for it, and so on. So, I don't know when this maid service thing might happen1. In the meantime, I'm trying to do more cleaning myself2 and I'm also putting more effort into training the kids3 to be in the habit of cleaning.

But I'm also waiting expectantly for God to carry through on his promise.

1. Maybe the next time I get pregnant. That would be an especially useful time to have maid service, I think.

2. That will be a future post. If I can ever manage to make enough progress that a photograph could count as an "after" picture.

3. Cause we all know how helpful the kids are. Seriously, am I the only one who has noticed how some issue seems to come up in a whole lot of blogs all at once? Simcha wrote that piece, Jen wrote her first take here, about her kids cleaning, right at the same time that I had been inspired by the lovely ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter blog to get my kids more involved. It's like God has a plan or something.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Does God Want to Heal You?

1. Intro

I've been struggling for a few years now with how the gift of healing works, in the charismatic sense. I know that these healings happen. I've seen a few of them. But I have so many questions. 

Are we to pray as Jesus did, ordering the sickness out? Are we to humbly ask God to do the healing, if it is his will? What about the people who we pray for, but aren't healed? Did one of us lack faith and mess the whole thing up? Should we ask God whether he wants the person to be healed, before we pray for healing? Or should we assume he wants everyone to be healed? Should we expect everyone to be healed instantly - is that what faith is? Or should we just keep praying until there is some proof of healing? And so on and so forth.

Then one day I picked up a book called The Power to Heal by Fr. Francis MacNutt and started reading. It felt like God hitting me over the head with answers.

One insight in particular that I got out of the book I would like to share with you.

2. Background: The Two Theological Positions

A friend of mine1 once told me that it was God's will for everyone to be healed; the proof was that Jesus healed everyone who asked him. Jesus never turned someone away and said that God was keeping them sick for a reason. This idea contrasts sharply with the current emphasis in Catholic writing on embracing sickness as a suffering that we should offer to God2. The fact that Jesus healed everyone is compelling, in precisely the same way that Jesus choosing only males for his Twelve apostles is a compelling argument against women priests.

At the same time, I couldn't quite buy it. Some five or six years ago, a lady that I was peripherally acquainted with got a virulent form of cancer. Whenever I went to pray for her, I felt distinctly that God was telling me not to pray for her healing. I could pray for her soul, I could pray for her family, but not for her healing. She died some three months or so later. More recently, there was an elderly man at my parish who developed some sort of fatal lung condition. I prayed for his healing, but my prayers felt empty. The man himself spoke of growing closer to God through his illness (which he eventually died of). My own experience told me that sometimes sickness was a part of God's will, something he was bringing good out of. Also, God is not limited in power; if it was really his will for everyone to be healthy, then why would he allow people to be sick?

I simply could not reconcile these polar philosophies; I was stuck in limbo between them.

3. The Insight

And then I read the following passage from the book (italic his emphasis, bold mine):
So I must recognize that the reason many people are not healed (or are improved but not altogether healed) is not that God wills it, but it is simply a factor of my own spiritual and human weakness. I must do the best I can, humbly recognize my littleness and determine to grow more, without straining. I don't need to get into lengthy disquisitions about God's will; I just need to recognize that the basic reason people I pray for are not healed has little to do with God's perfect will, or to a lack of faith on the part of the sick person. If anything, it has to do with my own lack of spiritual power. I need to be more in union with Jesus, the source of that power, than I now am.

God's perfect will.

God's perfect will.

His perfect will, as opposed to what he is willing to settle for.

I don't think it had ever occurred to me before that God's will wasn't a black and white, "yes" or "no", sort of thing. I mean, I know I've heard some theology down the line about God's permissive will vs.... well, I forget the other term. Something implying perfect will, I'm sure. But that had never registered in my mind as a distinction that particularly correlated with, well... anything. It was just one of those abstract thought-games, that theologians seem to have fun with. Now, though, as I thought about the difference between "what I ideally want" and "what I am willing to settle for", an example came to mind.

4. The Example: Thinking in Mom Terms

Last July, as a sort of experiment in our homeschooling, I told Kyrie I wanted her to write a story. It had to be at least five sentences long. It could be about anything she wanted, but she had to write it. When she resisted, I told her that if she didn't do it, she had to write "I will obey Mom" on every line of one page of her notebook.

I meant once on each line, but this is better, so I didn't say so to her.

This is what she handed me3.

The second day I did the same thing.

I like how it takes her a few lines before her words line up with each other.

With the same results.

All world-building and no plot. Exactly how I write, the couple times I tried fiction.

Finally, on the third day, she came up with something.

The point is, she obeyed me. Not just on the third day, when she finally wrote something, but the first day. I had given her a choice: write a story, or write "I will obey Mom". She did the latter. She did my will.

But she didn't do my perfect will.

She didn't do what I really wanted her to do, but she did what I was willing to settle for, for the time being.

5. Conclusion

In the same way, I can now see it being God's perfect will for everyone to be healed. When we resist Him, he may settle for something else; he may settle for us being unhealthy4. But just as I got what I wanted with Kyrie in the end, so too will he get the health he wants for us, in the end, at the Resurrection if not sooner.

And even though he has been settling for sickness, and even if he continues to settle for sickness, for his own mysterious reasons, when I am praying, right here and now, for my own or someone else's healing, I can trust that that healing is what God really wants.

1. An online friend.

2. MacNutt makes the interesting distinction between suffering and sickness; Jesus suffered, but he was never sick. (And we are to imitate Him.) The author also has a curious way of insisting both that God wants everyone healed and that there is such a thing as redemptive sickness, as some saints have experienced.

3. When I showed Ken the picture, he said, "That's true resistance." Which I thought was interesting, since it was, in fact, a textbook example of what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance, in his book The War of Art, which is part of what I was thinking about in asking Kyrie to write the story in the first place.

4. So, clearly, the path towards health lies in resisting God less. For the record, I'm not saying that the sick person is necessarily the one doing the resisting. It may be that God wants them to be healed by someone who is resisting the gift of healing, for example. And the blind man in John 9 was blind so that everyone could be amazed and brought closer to God when Jesus healed him. Ultimately, this means that it was their resistance, and not the blind man's, that was the reason God settled for the blindness.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Failure Teaches Humility

Last night, I was up late again. Not so much because I was choosing to stay up late - although I may have been 20 minutes or so behind - but because my mind was racing and I could not fall asleep. I tried all my usual techniques. I relaxed my muscles individually. I counted Spanish sheep1. I forced my thoughts to focus on the stillness around me. That lasted about two minutes before my thoughts were racing again. Nothing was working. I could not fall asleep.

After too long of this, I was getting quite frustrated. Why can't I go to sleep, God? I thought. Don't you want me to be rested enough to do your will tomorrow? After I finally got past the blaming-God stage (one it seems I inevitably go through, fruitless though it always turns out to be), I finally switched gears and prayed differently. God, I can't do this. No matter what I try, I can't make myself go to sleep. I need you to do this for me, God. Please make me fall asleep.

Immediately I felt myself start to relax. Within ten minutes, I was asleep.

That's a box of wipes in the back. Doesn't everyone keep diaper-changing supplies on their bed?

The next morning, as part of my regular devotion, I discovered I was at Luke 18:9-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican:
He then spoke this parable addressed to those who believed in their own self-righteousness while holding everyone else in contempt. "Two men went up to the temple to pray: one was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee with head unbowed prayed in this fashion: 'I give you thanks, O God, that I am not like the rest of men - grasping, crooked, adulterous - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I pay tithes on all I possess.' The other man, however, kept his distance, not even daring to raise his eyes to heaven. All he did was beat his breast and say, 'O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.' Believe me, this man went home from the temple justified but the other did not. For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled while he who humbles himself shall be exalted."

I have to come to appreciate the fact that God sends me things that I cannot handle myself, in order to humble me and remind me that I am dependent on Him for even the littlest things. However long I continue to try to do it myself, I continue to fail. Only when I turn to the Most High and ask him to do it for me, in me, do I start to see some progress. If it wasn't for these failures that God sends me, I would be that Pharisee priding myself on being better than everyone around me; I see myself well enough to know that for the truth. So, unpleasant though it is, I accept these failures as being for my own good.

And next time, I can turn to God right away, and spare myself the trouble of fighting His will.

1. I don't really picture sheep. But after counting backwards (over the course of months) from the present to about 2500 or 3000 BC, it occurred to me that counting in Spanish might be good practice to help me learn the numbers. I'm currently on quinientos sesenta y dos, I think.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Have You Forgiven Bin Laden?

So, first, about forty-odd years ago, the Catholic Church sets up a three-year cycle that determines which Scripture passages will be read on which Sundays of the year1.

Then 9/11 happens. May they all rest in peace.

Ten is a nice round number for us humans, and we sure like round numbers, don't we? So the tenth anniversary of 9/11 will get our attention, more so even than other anniversaries. Especially since it just happens that this was the year we caught and killed Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks.

Then it just happens that the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is a Sunday.

And it just happens that the Scripture readings on this tenth anniversary focus completely on forgiveness.2

Yeah, God is totally telling us that we need to forgive Bin Laden and the Taliban3.

Warning us to forgive them, I might even say.


Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time4

Reading 1: Sir 27:30-28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail.
Forgive your neighbor's injustice;
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.
Could anyone nourish anger against another
and expect healing from the LORD?
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself,
can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath,
who will forgive his sins?
Remember your last days, set enmity aside;
remember death and decay, and cease from sin!
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor;
remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12

R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Reading 2: Rom 14:7-9

Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Gospel: Mt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master
and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.


1. To the best of my knowledge. We are currently using a 1998 "edition" of the lectionary, but as far as I know, the actual cycle of readings didn't change with the updated edition. Even if I'm wrong about that, though, it's still before 9/11 happened.

2. For a bonus, the one reading that doesn't focus directly on forgiveness - the reading from Romans - tells us that "whether we live or die, we are the Lord's". Just to drive home that all those who died in 9/11, they belong to the Lord. And all those who have survived but lost out on someone or something because of the attacks ... they are the Lord's too. Jesus, who died and rose, is Lord of both the living and the dead, we are told.

3. Yes, I think it matters whether we forgive Bin Laden, even though he's already dead. For our sake, and (because I'm Catholic and we believe in Purgatory and I hope he's there) for his. Forgiving the rest of the Taliban is important, too.

4. The bold emphases in the Scripture verses are, obviously, mine.

Friday, September 9, 2011

What Kind of Community Service Can Kids Do?

This is one of those things where I think God is telling me something, because the same issue keeps coming up, over and over. And over.

1. First I get sent this link about student's suggestions to improve school. Gosh, I think, I can incorporate most of those into my homeschooling. But the seventh one on that list, "off-campus community service once a week", that one sounds impossible for us. I mean, really, what kind of help can I be with all the little kids in tow?

2. Then as I was looking into homeschool curricula, and poring over reviews, I came across several mentions of doing regular (weekly) community service, and somehow I notice it every time, even though I'd prefer not to.

3. Finally, Ken sees this Primetime Nightline special on the Bates family with their 18 kids (Ken was extremely impressed), and he emails me a link about them, and when it gets to the part about all of the kids doing weekly community service - it looked like they were playing a concert at an old folk's home - my reaction was some combo of "!!" and "Well, I guess God's really trying to tell me something here."

So the question is... what kind of community service thing can I do with my kids, age 8 to 11 months? And is this really realistic, or would I be overextending myself?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

God and Potty-Training

God and potty-training... you probably don't usually think of those two topics as going together, do you? But I bet there's more than one mom out there who can relate when I say that potty-training causes all sorts of spiritual downers - frustration, exhaustion, the desire to throttle your two-year-old son.

That was about where I was at last Saturday.

WARNING: If you don't like discussions of gross bodily functions, this post is not for you. You have been duly warned.

I'd started Gabe out on his potty-training journey some two weeks before. I'd stuck him in underwear for a day and started sitting him on the toilet every 20 minutes to an hour. By the end of the day, I had remembered that I had a pack of Pull-Ups that had been taking up space in the kids' closet for the last three years, leftover from potty-training Savi. I thought NOT having to clean up Gabe's accidents sounded awesome, so I switched him to the Pull-Ups.

Not once in the next two weeks did he pee in the toilet.

I started going longer and longer between sitting him on the potty. By the end of the two weeks, he was running low on Pull-Ups, so I stuck him back in diapers. On Friday, I decided this weekend was going to be my last chance. If I didn't have Gabe at least starting to get the idea, then potty-training him was going to ruin homeschooling. I was going to have to get serious. I psyched myself up, telling myself this was it, I was going to do it, man! I leaped up Saturday morning, set Gabe on the toilet, put him back in real underwear, and set the timer for 30 minutes.

About five hours and several accident-cleanings later, I was ready to give up. He's never going to get it, I thought. God, where are you? Help! Finally I calmed my despair down enough to ask God more simply, God, please help Gabe pee in the toilet.

The next time Gabe needed to go, he leaked a bit onto his underwear, and then informed me ... ("Da poop" he calls it... I don't know why he has the two reversed). I got him onto the toilet and he finished going. The next time, he informed me before he went.

Another answered prayer. Really, it never ceases to amaze me when God answers "little" things like that, just because I ask Him to.

Note: He still has a long way to go, but it's a ton of progress for him. He even #2'd on the toilet today. Also, I've been thinking lately that I really should take the time to put some appropriate pictures in my blog posts. However, I think you can all be grateful that I am NOT including relevant pictures on this particular post.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Homeschooling - Year 1

The Decision To Do It1

In Feb of 2010, I first started thinking seriously about homeschooling my kids. I had thought vaguely about it before and read about it quite a bit on the internet, but I knew I was lazy, so I didn't do it. Then one day I was listening to the radio and I heard the statistic that homeschoolers on average score in the 70th or 80th percentiles2. Over time, that statistic really got to me. I mean, even if I do homeschooling badly and end up on the lower half of the homeschooling Bell curve, my kids will still probably be better off than in a public school.

So I started thinking about it.

I read a couple homeschooling books. The book Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius is actually the one that got me thinking the most about how I'd want to do it. During the summer of '10, I embarked on the experiment. I set things up as I wanted, and we went at it, adjusting things as we went.3 I prayed about it, asking God if he wanted me to keep doing this or not.

And every time I asked God, I felt a sense of peace about homeschooling. And no peace about keeping the kids in school, even though I really liked the kindergarten teacher that both Kyrie and Elijah had gotten, and had no serious complaints about the elementary school.

So I did it.

I made the legal notifications, and when the school year started up in the fall, Kyrie and Elijah did not go. When people asked me why I was homeschooling, I would either point to the apparent advantage in quality of learning or else I would say "Because I think God wants me to."4

The First Year

Because I was inspired by the Montessori book to try to use Montessori principles, and because there are no Montessori curriculums out there for homeschooling parents, I decided to make up my own curriculum as I go. Over the course of the year, my methods evolved. I got a history book and a poetry book. I printed free math sheets online for math practice. We tried to do some Spanish flash cards, but that was a limited success at best. I started off by having them write and/or draw in a journal every day. I put together a paper with color-coded descriptions of all the parts of speech, and laminated it; we played verb-charades and "guess that noun". We practiced the prayers that Kyrie had to learn for her First Communion class. We went to OMSI. Savi joined in the homeschooling activities after her 5th birthday in February. By the end of the year, I was requiring them to do reading, writing, and math practice every day, as well as cycling through the other subjects over the week.

I found out that the hardest thing about homeschooling was anxiety.

I had an advantage here. I knew God wanted me to homeschool, so I didn't let myself be anxious about whether I was right to or not. I did spend an awful lot of time thinking about how much I should push the kids and whether I was missing something important, but for the most part I was satisfied with how things were going. My biggest concern was how much time we had taken off to deal with "life" issues: the van breaking, decluttering, and so on. I told myself I would make up for it by homeschooling during the summer. All in all, I developed a better appreciation for why people burn out on homeschool, but I was glad not to be there right now.

God Tells Me To Buy a Curriculum

Despite my overall satisfaction, the idea of picking a curriculum flitted vaguely through my head a couple times early this summer.

And then I had this dream.

I dreamt that my kids were attending Trinity - the high school I attended5. In my dream, I was so relieved that someone else was taking care of my kids' education and I didn't have to spend all that time thinking about it anymore, that I could just trust that they would be well-educated. When I woke up, that relief was still vivid in my mind, and captured my mind, so that I had to ponder it.

As I was speculating about my schooling options, it occurred to me that my main issue with buying a curriculum was that I didn't know if I could trust them to have high academic standards. So I asked myself: is there any curriculum I trust? And right away a name came to mind - Seton. Memories drifted up of reviews that I had seen online, way back when, complaining that Seton was too difficult, too dry, pushed the kids too hard. That's just the kind of complaint that people make about Trinity; Seton is the Trinity School of homeschooling, I thought to myself.6

Concerned about the conflict between a "dry" Seton curriculum and Montessori principles of using materials that attract interest, I opened up the Montessori book and started reading the intro. Almost immediately I came across a discussion of the swing between too-rigid schooling and too-loose schooling, and how Montessori avoids the problems of the latter by having a very structured curriculum7.

Structured curriculum, I thought. Hmm. I think God's trying to tell me something.

So Seton it was. I later had a spurt of second-thoughts and spent a weekend poring over reviews and looking at online "glimpses" into books. There was one set of curriculum that caught my eye - Living Books Curriculum. I looked over their reading list and felt this pull towards it. I can only think to describe it as a spiritual longing, rather to my surprise. I still had a sense during prayer that I should be getting Seton for this year, though, and there was no WAY we could afford to buy the whole LBC for Kyrie and Elijah and Savi, and Ken thought the kids still needed workbooks. I wasn't quite able to ignore that pull, though, or put it off for another year. So I made up a list of all the books on the LBC lists that were available from the library - sometimes substituting a different book on the same or similar topic, if the LBC one wasn't available. Seton will be our regular curriculum books, and I am going to try to have the kids each read one book from the reading list every week8, and discuss it with me.

We picked up the first week's set of reading books from the library today, and the Seton books should arrive by Tuesday, a perfect time to start the new school year. I am SUPER excited about this all.

1. Yeah, this section is before the the first year of actual homeschooling, but I don't think I really laid this out before on my blog, so I am now.

2. It was on Dr. Ray Guarendi's show. This link puts the average at 86th percentile.

3. One of the more interesting anecdotes from that time is that Elijah, fresh out of kindergarten, started reading this book called Extreme Nature. At 4.1 lbs, it literally weighed more than a tenth of what he did. It's 320 pages of gorgeous pictures and adult-level reading. He refused to let me read it with him or explain what it was talking about. He didn't understand almost anything at all from it, but he worked his way patiently through the whole thing until he had read every page. I was proud of him, and he was proud of himself.

4. Depending on how I thought whoever I was talking to would take the God-explanation, mostly. But I always have this urge to make it clear that (a) just because God wants me to homeschool doesn't mean he's telling you to do it also; and (b) I'm not one of those people who homeschools as a way to protect their kids from all those anti-Christian influences in secular culture. I mean, really, my kids have no shortage of secular influences. I worry about them being a bad influence on the sweet little kids in the homeschooling group that we're joining. Although I got to say, it IS really nice not to have my kids coming home asking to buy a DS or watch Hannah Montana all the time.

5. Trinity School at River Ridge. The kids were the same age in the dream as they are now, and they were not super-geniuses in the dream. Trinity was just accommodating them somehow. And my dream also ignored the fact that we live in Oregon, and Trinity is back in Minneapolis. But then, I find that almost all of my dreams take place in the house I grew up in, if they take place in any recognizable location.

6. And then, in true geek fashion, I thought, "Seton:homeschooling curricula :: Trinity:high schools". And then wondered whether I should call them curricula or curriculums.

7. Unstructured schedule, structured curriculum.

8. I have no idea if the kids will be able to read one book per week. Especially Elijah, who is crazy smart, but whose interest is pretty limited to Angry Birds and Sonic right now. He never did read that Hardy Boys book. There's only 25 books in his reading list, though, and twice that number of weeks before the next school year starts, so I figure that's lots of wiggle room.