What St. Don Bosco and Hiroshima can teach us about COVID-19

Just a quick post today, because I really felt the need to share this with you. Many of us are feeling a lot of fear nowadays. As the coronavirus continues to spread, we worry about the physically vunerable members of our families, we worry about having enough supplies to last through a quarantine, we worry about being deprived of the sacraments.

As governments and institutions implement desperate plans to slow the pandemic, and as we isolate ourselves to do our small part in protecting the vulnerable, please keep in mind two very important lessons from history:

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A Free Literature Guide to “Swift Rivers”

In the preface to his recent book, Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know, Joseph Pearce gives a compelling case for the study of great literature. He writes:

The great works of literature help us to know ourselves…. In the great works of literature we discover a deep understanding of man’s being and purpose. We discover that the human person is homo viator, a pilgrim or wayfarer who journeys through the mortal life with eternal life always in mind.

Indeed, the theme of journeying into the great unknown is evident in many of the great works of literature. In children’s literature, we see this in The Odyssey, The Hobbit, the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and so on.

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Navigating the Teen Age Years: 12 Dos and Don’ts

This month it’s official: three of our kids are now full-fledged teenagers. I know the thought of having three teens in the house makes some people shudder, but I think teenagers get a lot more bad rap than they deserve. When my siblings and I were teens, we certainly gave our parents gray hairs. But on the whole we had a great rapport with them. They worked really hard on our relationships, guiding, supporting, and encouraging us.

We can expect the teenage years to be a roller coaster ride. After all, it is a time of rapid growth and development, so frustrations, disappointments, and misunderstandings are bound to happen. But this doesn’t mean the teenage years need to be as awful as many anticipate. I can honestly say I enjoy my teens’ company and conversation. And they are often a tremendous help around the house. Of course we have our moments. So to help navigate through them, I made myself a list of Dos and Don’ts, mostly gleaned from parenting books and wise advice. For those of you with kids age 12 and up, I hope you find it helpful!

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Is Homeschooling a Cross?

Once in a while I come across an article where a mom waxes eloquently about the awesomeness of her homeschool. I read about rocket-science experiments, kids reading college-level books, siblings living in beautiful harmony, fabulous field trips, morning baskets full of art and literature enrichment, and peaceful, well-ordered days. 

There was a time when such articles filled me with inspiration and enthusiasm. But twelve years in, I confess,  such articles usually makes me cringe. Homeschooling, for us, is not nearly so picture perfect.  Some days we have a lot of complaining, a lot of bickering, a lot of tears. School is more work than fun. And there are many days when I feel overworked and stressed.  So when I read about another mom’s homeschool awesomeness, I can’t help but wonder: Is she still in the honeymoon stage? Or, I am doing something fundamentally wrong?

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Voices for the Voiceless: Signs from the 2020 March for Life

I wish you all could have been there. The March for Life gets so little media coverage, but it is perhaps one of the most powerful movements of our time in the United States. The youth rally at the Capital One Arena was crammed with 20,000 students. But that was only a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of people who travelled from all over the country to march in the defense of human life. From the top of Constitution Ave., the March looked like a veritable sea of humanity chanting, singing, praying.

I wish you all could have been there. With the President showing up and giving a speech, it was historic and momentous. But it’s always seeing the hoards of enthusiastic youth that gives me hope. And the signs — they were a voice for the voiceless. Some were funny, others profound, still others courageous. (We carried one, too… can you find it?) Here are some of the awesome signs people were carrying:

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Introducing “Teach Me to Read Duets, Books 1 and 2” — the sequels to “Short Vowel Stories”

For those of you who have used Short Vowel Stories to help teach your children to read, you’ll be glad to know (I hope!) that two more books are now available: Teach Me to Read Duets, Books 1 and 2.

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How My New Morning Routine is Giving me Peace

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas season! One thing I love about a New Year is that it is a time for fresh starts. Each day is also a fresh start, especially when it begins with a peaceful morning routine. Why wait until the end of the day to decompress? Begin the day with stillness and prayer. And so I thought I’d share this post, written by Melissa Atlee, a dear friend and homeschooling mama: How My New Morning Routine is Giving Me Peace.

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12 Great Gifts for a Toddler with Down Syndrome

Hi, it’s me, Junior. Last time I hacked my mom’s computer, I told you about stuff for a baby shower. But now that I’m a big boy (I recently turned 2 1/2!) I’m here to tell you about my favorite things for a  toddler… with or without T21.

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Six Homemade Montessori-Inspired Toddler Toys

One thing I love about homeschooling: I never stop learning about teaching. Recently, I read that Maria Montessori discovered her educational methods while working with children who were mentally challenged. I have always admired the work of Maria Montessori, but now that we have little Junior with T21, I’ve embraced her methods for preschool. And Junior is thriving on them.

But there’s one little problem: Montessori toys are really expensive. So, with the help of Pinterest and a little creativity, I’ve been making our own Montessori-inspired toys. Here are 6 inexpensive homemade toys for your toddlers:

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Kids and Smart Phones: Weighing the Pros and Cons

How many of you are thinking of getting your tween a cell phone for Christmas? Because we all know that in the eyes of a tween or teen, a shiny new cell phone under the Christmas tree is even better than Santa. And the pressure is on: everyone at school has a cell phone nowadays. It seems that all the kids on sports teams, scouts, and youth groups have cell phones. If you don’t get your kid a cell phone this Christmas, you’re a veritable Scrooge forcing your child to remain in the dark ages.

But before you jump on the cell-phone band wagon, consider the pros and cons:

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