Saturday, January 24, 2009

In Thanksgiving

Let us pray for our Holy Father Pope Benedict. Let us pray for the Bishops of the SSPX.

So much for which to be thankful, in a week that has otherwise offered precious little about which to rejoice.

At a time when the Church must prepare to undergo great testing, Her ranks have been emboldened.

Deo Gratias!

Friday, January 16, 2009

So Much for Sunday Morning Krispy Kreme Runs

Our boys love Krispy Kreme Donuts. A run to pick up a half-dozen of the sweet treats after Mass on Sunday morning is about as good as it gets in their world. But news this morning of KK's "Freedom of Choice" free-donut-day brings our little Sunday morning run for a family treat to a screeching halt. Read the full story at

Yet another opportunity to teach our boys that our practice must be consistent with our faith.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Latin-Centered Curriculum

Mid-school year here, I feel compelled to tell how entirely pleased I am with the Latin-Centered Curriculum as outlined in Andrew Campbell's book of the same name (and by the way, I link to his own homeschool blog in my blog list at the right). You can check out a link to his book here. I've devoured both Volumes 1 and 2, and while Mr. Campbell modifies his course suggestions in the second volume, I've designed our classical curriculum using a combination of suggestions from both books.

My boys, ages 9 and 7, are thriving, and I'm learning a lot too! I never had a word of Latin in my public school education experience, but I'm learning it right alongside the boys, chanting with them, amo, amas, amat.... We're also learning Greek, mainly focusing on the alphabet this first year. We're working our way through the first level (Aesop) of a composition program called Classical Writing, which is going very well. We're studying Greek Myths, and will soon begin Norse Myths (both texts being written by the D'Aulaires), and doing a lot of other reading from various texts in literature and religion. Math, early American history, continued spelling work, science and piano round out very full school weeks for us.

I find January can be a motivationally-challenging time in the school year, what with having just come off a never-long-enough Christmas break, outdoor temps being cold enough to stay indoors all day, and another break being yet a long way off. But we're persevering, and I have to say things are rolling along very well, with much thanks to Mr. Campbell's curriculum guidance.

I give The Latin-Centered Curriculum an A+!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Charlotte's Web

I just finished reading Charlotte's Web by E.B. White to the boys this evening. I think it might be the first time I've actually read it myself, though the copy I have was given to me when I was very young. I remember Miss H (see post below) reading it to my class, but that might be the last time I heard the story.

The boys were enthralled from the first chapter. What I thought would take the better part of a month to read to them, took only about five nights, as after each chapter the boys begged for just one more, and I usually obliged.

As most readers probably know the story, I won't give a full review here. Simply put, it is a sweet story of friendship and love, and the sacrifices one is willing to make for her beloved. As I read the final few chapters I had to really swallow the lump in my throat--if the boys see Mom getting misty, well, suffice it to say, they're not going to join Wilbur in his teary moments, and Mom probably shouldn't either! But we loved the book. A highly-recommended read-aloud.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Miss H

Each year I receive several Christmas letters from friends and family. While I am not one to compose an annual update--I simply send a card and a photo--I do enjoy being on the receiving end, as it is nice to find out what's going on with those I hear from only once a year.

Today I received one I always look forward to. It was from the teacher I had in the third grade! Yes, we have kept in touch all these years. Miss H, as she was when I was 8, was but 22 years old as she taught my class, her first ever. Her letter today tells me she just turned 60 and is in the middle of her 38th year teaching third graders, with no immediate plans to retire. She still loves working with her 'little people' as she fondly refers to her students.

Thirty-eight years ago Miss H quickly became my favorite teacher. I remember her being enthusiastic, smart, inspiring (yes, you CAN write in cursive and I don't want to hear 'I can't'!!) funny and clever. She was everything this little third grader needed to be inspired to do my best in school.

When I moved on to fourth grade and beyond, we stayed in touch. In grade school I would help in her class when my other teachers would let me; in junior high and high school we sent cards to each other on birthdays. At my high school graduation she took me to dinner at one of the best restaurants in town.

When Miss H was nearing 20 years in the classroom, she decided to pursue a second career: law. She continued teaching by day, and went to school at night, completing her degree and passing the Bar somewhere around age 40. To this day she practices law and teaches third graders.

What makes this story amazing though is that in the midst of law school, Miss H was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She was hit pretty hard at times with acute disability, but she forged on in spite it of it all, and attained her goal, obviously herself practicing the 'I can do it' philosophy she preaches as a teacher.

And this leads me to the other thing that was to connect Miss H and me in life, besides our student/teacher-turned-friend relationship: about five years after Miss H was diagnosed with MS, I received the same diagnosis. An unfortunate connection, to be sure, but one that is comforting nonetheless as I watch Miss H, even from the long distance that now separates us, continue to do great things to help others, as both a teacher and a lawyer.

In both of our lives, MS has taken its toll, in different ways, but I can easily say that in this we are very similar: we have neither of us allowed the disease to hinder our spirit or our drive to attain that which we deem important in life, inasmuch as we can control these things.

Miss H is still an inspiration to me now as I endeavor to live a full life amidst the struggles a chronic condition brings. And now as I am teaching my own little third grader (and second grader), I find myself saying some of the same things to my sons, my 'little people', that she said to me, in hopes of encouraging the same love for learning that Miss H fostered in me so many years ago. I hope and pray I am as successful as she was... and still is.