Painting Kitchen Cabinets, Conscience, and Confession in the Rain

Recently, the kids and I undertook a huge project: we painted the kitchen cabinets. That is, we scrubbed the cabinets, dismantled them, sanded them, primed them, painted them, and painted them again and again. We also boiled, scrubbed, and spray painted the old hinges so we could reuse them.

Truth be told, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into when we started.

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The Catholic Homeschool Conference is for ALL Catholic Parents

One thing I always enjoy each year is attending a homeschooling conference. Not only do I get to learn from inspirational speakers, I also get to catch up with old friends and browse new curricula. If I come to a conference feeling worn out from the school year, I usually leave energized and encouraged.

Of course, this summer many homeschooling conferences have been canceled. So I was glad to hear about the Catholic Homeschool Conference, which is online and FREE.

And whether you’ll be homeschooling in the fall or not, this conference will have talks relevant to all Catholic families.

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5 Things My Dad Taught Me About Fatherhood

This one’s for the Dads — the generous, hard-working, unsung heroes of our day. And in honor of my own incredible father, I’m reprinting a post my brother wrote years ago about our Dad and the invaluable lessons he imparted:

Let me be the first to point out that I’m no parenting expert, psychologist or self-help guru. In fact, I’m not an expert on anything in particular. I’m just a regular guy who loves muscle cars and vintage motorcycles, and my loving wife and kids. Like most of you younger dads out there, I’m just trying to navigate through life while raising two daughters in this crazy world of ours.

Growing up the only boy in a family with two sisters, I quickly learned to navigate the unique peculiarities common to the fairer sex, and somehow I survived the confusing period of my adolescent years.

Luckily for me, my dad was a great role model who, among other things, helped me understand that one of the secrets to getting far in this world isn’t “figuring out” women, but rather knowing how to treat them.

Fast forward 20 years or so and I find myself in my dad’s position; surrounded by kids and a wife. I’m definitely thankful that I had a great role model to impart unto me some priceless lessons about being a father (of daughters) which I’ll impart on to you. Needless to say, if I had sons, these points would be on the top of my list of lessons to teach them as they ventured into manhood, as my father taught me.

Now consider these thoughts for a moment.

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Our Favorite Homeschool Curriulum this Year (2019-2020)

It’s that time of year again — you know, when we start thinking about the coming school year. With all the craziness of this pandemic, I’ve been grateful that we are a homeschooling family and our lives have not been turned upside down. Actually, it’s been nice not running to one activity after another. It’s been really nice having my highschoolers home all day. They’ve been playing music together in the evenings out on the deck and having wild games of hide and seek all over the house and yard with their younger siblings.

But getting back to the point of this post: Many of you are thinking about new curricula for the coming year. Usually in May, my homeschool group does a curriculum share fair, where we bring our favorite books to a hostess’ home and place them on several tables. Then we wander around the home and look at all the curricula that people have brought. That’s not going to happen this spring, but we can certainly share online! So I asked my kids to tell me their favorite curricula from this year. Here’s what they chose:

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Finishing the School Year Strong

Time for a pep-talk! Because I bet many of you can’t wait to be done with homeschooling for the year.

Me too. It happens every May: making my kids finish their school work in the spring is like pulling teeth. I need to use all my big mama muscles to make sure my squirrelly, energetic, restless children complete their assignments. And my mama muscles are plumb worn out. Ladies, I just want to give up.

But one of the most important lessons our kids need to learn is taught best at this time of year.

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What Prayer Might Look Like if You’re a Saintly Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all you wonderful moms! I hope your children spoil you with lots of love and appreciation! Here’s my little bit of encouragement for all you moms who are seeking holiness in the midst of children, chores, and distractions.

St. Frances of Rome. Have you heard of her? She was a 15th c. wife, mother, and mystic. (I never thought it possible for mom and mystic to go together, but there you have it.) At the age of twelve she earnestly desired to become a nun. (She probably noticed that nuns tend to look serene, whereas mothers tend to look harried.) However, her father had already arranged her marriage. When she went weeping to her spiritual director about about it, he told her to stop seeking her own will and to start accepting God’s.

Reluctantly she married the wealthy nobleman her father had chosen for her. It turned out to be a long and happy marriage; she and Lorenzo loved eachother dearly. Between raising three children and managing a large, bustling household (castle, actually), Frances was very busy. But she never lost her desire for a deep contemplative prayer life.

For those of you who struggle to find time alone for prayer, I thought you’d appreciate this wonderful description of what St. France’s prayer life was like when her children were young:

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Children’s Consecration to Mary

A happy and blessed Easter to you all!

With May just around the corner, it’s time to think about May devotions and how we can draw our families closer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. For us, that means a pilgrimage to a shrine of Our Lady (if one will be open!), praying the rosary with more love and devotion, and renewing our consecration to Mary.

Consecrating ourselves and our children to the Mother of God is one of the most beautiful devotions a family can do. So I am excited to tell you we have something special to help your family with this wonderful devotion:

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Easter Activities for Toddlers with (or without) Down Syndrome

Hi! It’s me again. 🙂 Can you believe that Easter is right around the corner! To keep my mind off all the COVID-19 news, I’ve been busy preparing Junior’s activities for the month of April. There are so many fun, educational activites you can do with Easter eggs! I’m posting again so soon because I hope you find some ideas here to help keep little hands and minds busy during this time of quarantine:

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Speech Therapy Resources for Toddlers with Down Syndrome

This post is for a group of children so dear to my heart: toddlers with Down Syndrome and/or speech delays.

Experts say the the first three years of life is the most important period for the development of speech and language. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, our Junior and toddlers like him won’t be getting speech therapy for who knows how long. This is a real setback, unless parents take a proactive role in providing their little ones with therapy at home. Of course, getting therapy from an experienced and qualified speech therapist would be best, but there are many resources to help parents out.

So I’d like to share with you a list of speech therapy resources that we have found most helpful. Many of them have been recommended by Junior’s therapists and by a dear friend who is a speech language pathologist.

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Why Corona-schooling is NOT Homeschooling

A few days ago, I asked my husband how his teleconference went. “I only spoke to one person,” he replied. “Everyone else was busy trying to homeschool their kids.”

With an increasing number of school districts closing schools for weeks, and some for the rest of the school year, many parents now consider themselves homeschoolers. After all, their kids are doing school at home. However, truth be told, they’re not really homeschooling. They’re Corona-schooling. And there are some significant differences:

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