Thursday, September 30, 2010

Whistle While You Work

"It must have been hard for you to learn how to whistle," said Peter, "cuz you weren't allowed to do it in class."

How true!  We certainly were not allowed to practice our whistling skills in class, now were we?
But in homeschool math today, Peter probably learned as much whistling as he did division.
He's getting good, too!  (whistling)

Yesterday he was getting very frustrated and felt defeated about the lack of progress in his whistling.  I suggested he ask for divine assistance through the angels and saints.  After a short pause for prayer, he let out his very first real whistle sound!
God hears all our prayers, and answers them in His time.

Pray for Anna, who was killed in a crosswalk here in Bellingham this afternoon.
Pray for her family who witnessed the accident.  Pray for family, friends, and Godparents who mourn Anna's tragic death.  Pray for the drivers who were involved, and for the emergency response teams and medics.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Angel Talk

Guido Reni's archangel Michael (in the Capuchin church of Santa Maria della ConcezioneRome, 1636) tramples Satan.
Annunciation by Anton Raphael Mengs—Gabriel appears to the virgin Mary.
Archangel Raphael with Bishop Domonte by Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1618-1682) 

How well do you know your guardian angel?
I think I met mine in a dream when I was about 4 years old.  The angel appeared in a bodily form, in a beautiful blue-green flowing gown, and casting a blue-ish glow over my whole bedroom, hovering near the ceiling.  
My sister, Molly, slept, and I was terrified at the sight of the angel above me.  
I tried to scream, but was unable to make any sounds.
I have never forgotten that vision, and consider it a beautiful gift from God.
It used to trouble me that I was so afraid of the angel, for the beauty was unspeakable.  Today I realize that my reaction was similar to many in the Bible who fell down in awe of the angels who appeared to them.
I don't know why the angel appeared to me, but I do hope to find out someday.

Have you thanked your guardian angel lately?
I have!  
And I have thanked my children's guardian angels on many occasions.  I am certain that Peter's guardian angel protected him from serious physical harm recently when he fell 12'+ out of a tree when 
the limb under his feet snapped.
Looking up at the broken branch, I was in awe at the distance he fell.  Praise God he landed in such a way that although the wind was knocked out of him,  he was otherwise completely unharmed.   Peter's angel was there to shield him from injury, I'm sure of it.
I ask my kids' guardian angels to speak to them and guide them, especially in difficult moments.  They do.
I thank them continually for guiding and guarding our children.

Have you greeted an angel lately?
Try it!
When someone walks into the room, or when you are about to lose your 
patience with someone, greet their guardian angel.

Have you cherished the gift of God's angels in your life?
God's priceless gift of the angels is something we often just take for granted.
What if someone walked up to you and handed you the keys to a brand new car (or insert item of desire here).
Would you just set the keys down on the table and forget about the gift?  Crazy!
And yet God's gift of the angels is so much more than any material gift we could ever receive, and yet we don't really even pay attention or appreciate this gift most of the time. 

 You could begin today by asking for St. Michael's protection:

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.


Or learn to pray the Hail Mary, which begins with the words St. Gabriel spoke to Mary, our Blessed Mother, at the Incarnation:
 "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee" (Luke 1:28).

Or pray one of these:

Prayer to the Archangel Gabriel
Oh, Blessed Archangel Gabriel, 
we beseech you, 
to intercede for us in our necessities
 at the throne of Divine Mercy, 
that you who made known to 
Mary the Mystery of the Incarnation, 
through your prayers and intercession in heaven, 
may obtain for us the benefits of heaven 
that we may sing the praise of God forever 
in the land of the living. Amen.

Prayer to Saint Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, 
great prince of the heavenly court, 
you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. 
You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, 
consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. 
I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, 
as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. 
Because you are the "medicine of God," I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul 
and the ills that afflict my body. 
I especially ask of you the favor (name your request) 
and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Jesus teaches:
"See that you do not despise one of these little ones; 
for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 18:10). 

And so we ask the angels and saints for intercession, and thank God continually
for the gift of our special guardians and guides.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Soccer Time

For 4+ years, Peter's soccer team roster remained more or less the same, fall and spring.
Same players, year after year, playing for the same great coaches.
But this year (grade 5) some of the players have moved on to 
play soccer on select teams.  
It's a bit odd having many of the same players without a few of the key play makers.
The first few games Peter's team seemed to struggle a bit as they
learned how to play together as a new group.
But this past Saturday, they looked like they were becoming a more cohesive group.
It's interesting to watch how teams (or groups) form & develop, isn't it?

Thank you, Larry P., for the photos!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Project Update

No Eagle Project updates to report,
but a room remodel update is due.
Zachary's room has been re-pained & re-carpeted & mostly re-inhabited.
This project was accomplished with a little help from his brothers, friends, and 
a little help from mr. machete.
After all, who would use a box cutter to pull out the old carpet when he could wield his new machete?
Joseph, Ezra and Collin help remove the old carpet, which Zac & Ezra hauled to the dump.
Cost to dispose of the carpet at the dump: $5.17

Peter, Cam, Joseph and Connor in the newly carpeted closet

Peter and Cam enjoy the free space while Zac removes the tape

New carpet feels best with bare feet!

And special thanks to Tim, for his patience with the gigantic mess in the 
living room during the renovation.
Amazingly, Zac's room contents nearly filled our living room,
 and with his new class schedule, the repositioning of his belongings has been, well, slow.

Soon I'll share the "after" pictures.

Have a great week!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Flashback Friday

Summer 2001
Peter naps in the park on San Juan Island, swaddled in Tim's coat and his favorite blanket.

Joseph helps out in the kitchen.

Zachary and Peter share a meal.

Zachary shows the gap left by his first lost tooth. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina
Pray for us!
Feastday: Today, September 23
b.1887 d.1968
Francesco, named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione, peasant farmers, in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. From his childhood, it was evident that he was a special child of God. Francesco was very devout even as a child, and at an early age felt drawn to the priesthood. He became a Capuchinnovice at the age of sixteen and received the habitin 1902. Francesco was ordained to the priesthoodin 1910 after seven years of study and became known as Padre Pio.

On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of Church. Thedoctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds. Upon his death in 1968, the wounds were no longer visible. In fact, there was no scaring and the skin was completely renewed. He had predicted 50 years prior that upon his death the wounds would heal. The wounds of thestigmata were not the only mystical phenomenon experienced by Padre Pio.

The blood from the stigmata had an odor described by many as similar to that of perfume or flowers, and the gift of bilocation was attributed to him. Padre Pio had the ability to read the hearts of the penitents who flocked to him for confession which he heard for ten or twelve hours per day. Padre Pio used the confessional to bring both sinners and devout souls closer to God; he would know just the right word of counsel or encouragement that was needed. Even before his death, people spoke to Padre Pio about his possible canonization. He died on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-one. His funeral was attended by about 100,000 people.
On June 16, 2002, over 500,000 Padre Pio devotees gathered in Rome to witness Pope JohnPaul II proclaim Padre Pio, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. The Padre Pio Foundation and many benefactors traveled to Rome, San Giovanni Rotondo, Pietrelcina, Piana Romana and many other holy places to celebrate Padre Pio's Canonization.

Litany of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven,
have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the World,
have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit,
have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God,
have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, Virgin Immaculate, pray for us.
St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us.
Beloved of God, pray for us.
Imitator of Jesus Christ, pray for us.
Good shepherd of the people, pray for us.
Model for priests, pray for us.
Light of the Church, pray for us.
Adorer of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.
Faithful son of St. Francis, pray for us.
Marked with the stigmata of Jesus, pray for us.
Patient in suffering, pray for us.
Helper of the dying, pray for us.
Director of souls, pray for us.
Heart of gold, pray for us.
Apostle of mercy, pray for us.
Worker of miracles, pray for us.
Consoler of the afflicted, pray for us.
Lover of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us.
Helper of souls in doubt and darkness, pray for us.
Comforter of the sick, pray for us.
Example of humility, pray for us.
Source of wisdom, pray for us.
Mirror of the divine life, pray for us.
Lover of Jesus Crucified,
Resigned to the will of God, pray for us.
Doing good upon earth, pray for us.
Filled with the spirit of self-sacrifice, pray for us.
Our help and hope in all our needs, pray for us.
Vessel of the Holy Spirit, pray for us.
Leading us to Christ, pray for us.
Our spiritual father and advocate, pray for us.
Crowned with glory in Heaven, pray for us.

God our Father,  You helped St. Pio to reflect the
image of Christ through a life of charity and self-sacrifice.
May we follow your Son by walking in the footsteps of
St. Pio of Pietrelcina and by imitating his selfless love.

© Copyright NaN: Padre Pio Devotions. All rights reserved. 
Saint Pio:
We ask you to pray especially for healing for Tristan, and for consolation for his family and friends.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

First Day of School

The day has finally arrived:
Zachary's first day of school!
He was forewarned that this would be a photo-op moment, 
so gave in reluctantly to pose for the shoot.

Charlie says goodbye.

Ok, so maybe following him out to his car with my camera is a bit... over the top?
But seriously, how many kids do you know who drive themselves to their first day of school?

Zachary (16) is beginning his Running Start experience at Whatcom Community College today.  After 11 years of homeschooling, he's off on a new academic adventure.  Zachary has had many "teachers" over these 11 years, including our priests, violin/fiddle instructors, catechists, Scout leaders, athletics coaches, chess coaches, grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends, and the list goes on.  But his primary teachers for these 11 years have been his father and me.   We opted not to enroll him in any supplementary schooling, and we opted out of accepting state funds for homeschooling under public school programs.  Just home plus school, it's that simple.

We have offered an environment at home where Zachary could develop and grow spiritually, academically, physically, emotionally and, of course, socially, under our guidance and supervision.  We didn't set out to homeschool, rather we ended up, or were led to homeschooling by default and praise God for this amazing gift for our family.

One of the first things anyone ever said to me when I shared our plans to homeschool Zachary (for kindergarten) was something to the effect of: "How are you going to manage that?  With two other small children and a house to keep up with, you're going to be stretched pretty thin."  How true.  It hasn't always been easy, and we've been stretched thin in many ways, including financially as a result of me staying home to school the kids.  But the rewards far outweigh the inconveniences and the struggles.

We keep our homeschool pretty simple, and grounded in daily prayer and worship.  The absolute best benefit by far to having our kids home has been the ability (and the desire!) to receive Jesus' body, blood, soul and divinity daily in Holy Eucharist at Mass, and to celebrate reconciliation (confession) regularly.  To grow in faith together, to be actively involved in various ministries at our church and in our community, to know that our children are being evangelized by us with the teachings and truths of our Catholic faith; these gifts of homeschooling are priceless.

We don't buy new curriculum every year, and don't set up a strict academic schedule.  We re-use and recycle books, and we tailor each child's educational goals and daily objectives to their interests and abilities.  When it was time for Zachary to begin high school level work, we did use a book list from Mother of Divine Grace School, and purchased a few key texts including Latin and history books.  We borrowed science and math books from a head of department at a local university and an AP teacher.  Those books turned out to be college level (Zac spotted his biology on the shelves when he was buying his school books last week at WCC), and required a few years to complete.  We didn't let the fear of him not "completing" a subject interfere with our goals of having him educated.  Rather, we trusted that even if he didn't have a check next to a certain subject(s) by the end of the school year, he would benefit from continuing along in the course(s) at his pace.  This required a leap of faith, and the willingness to be outside the box outside the box.  We let our consciences guide us, and called upon God's assistance in discernment rather than panicking or worrying over appearances or externally imposed checklists.

We have used Scouting texts, especially the merit badge booklets to teach a wide variety of subjects.  Each merit badge has an adult counselor (a volunteer), who becomes a substitute teacher for that subject.  In Scouts, too, our boys have been able to grow and develop leadership and team-building skills, as well as gain a wealth of experience in outdoors adventures.  In Scouts they have found their best friends, boys who, like them, enjoy the great outdoors and the preparation and advancement opportunities.  Boys whose parents take an active role in their development and just plain enjoy spending time with their kids and ours.
Families who really live the Scout Oath and Law.  Their Scout friends have been priceless companions on their continuing journey toward independence.

Our oldest son is making his way in the world, following God's call for him in his life.  Zachary is committed to his faith life and to his academics.  He's devoted to his family and a good mate to his friends.  He's fit, and enjoys participating in high school athletics.  He's goofy, brilliant, insightful and orthodox.  He loves Star Wars Battlefront and Nerf Warz, and nearly memorized the Lord of the Rings and many other books.  He has created many games and fantasy worlds, he wrote and self-published a book which is available at our local public library.  He's a leader in our parish, in his youth group and his Scout troop, and we are very proud of the young man he has and continues to become.   Zac's future looks bright indeed!

Zac did attend pre-kindergarten and co-op preschools before we decided to homeschool.

Monday, September 20, 2010

More from the Ree

The campfire at our campsite was a hit... until someone suggested flashlight tag.
Then the area was abandoned, save for the adults who kept fire-watch and guarded the doritos and cookies.

Breakfast was simple: boil water & add it to whatever you brought to eat.  (Make coffee.)
Except for one family group who did breakfast justice with pancakes & eggs.

The Webelos were all able to share on Adirondack, and even slept for part of the night!
Posted by Picasa
The giant opening was covered by a pair of tarps, to provide privacy and protection from wind.
Everyone stayed dry, and a few learned (the hard way) that you should always bring a sleeping pad on every Scout camping trip.

Monkey Bridge

Joseph and a group of Boy Scouts from our troop put up a monkey bridge at the Webelos-Ree 
to attract and recruit Webelos to join at troop (hopefully ours!).
In order to earn the opportunity to cross the monkey bridge, each Webelos had to learn a few new lashing moves under the tutelage of a Boy Scout.

Once they had passed lashing 101, they were cleared for the monkey bridge experience.

The Boy Scouts had spent a few hours (in the dark) Friday night building the monkey bridge for Saturday's Webelos-ree.

It was a real crowd pleaser!
Senior Patrol Leader, T, did a great job both in leading the Scouts and in 
welcoming and assisting the Webelos.

One of the Scouts found this little salamander trying to get out of harm's way!

Webelos II's: Peter, Nolan, Enoch, Nicholas & Aaron at the monkey bridge.

But wait.... there's more!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Every 12+ years, whether it needs it or not, we will paint Zac's room.
He'll have lots of help!
And everyone will want to get in on the action...
Even Charlie!

Update on Tristan:
Tristan opened his eyes half mast today only briefly.  
Much pain although the lungs are healing and pneumonia is improving.
Please pray!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Homeschool Habits (Math)

Peter & his tiny pencil take on Saxon Math.

Although math isn't anyone's favorite subject, it is the one subject we do every day for homeschool.
We do quite a few other subjects most days, but math is the one must.  
Taking a break for too long from math causes major... situations.
We use Saxon Math, and have since we purchased our first text book (ever) for Zachary when he was in about 4th or 5th grade.
Before that time, his math education was fully covered just by "real life" math.  Zachary was fascinated by exponential notation and other mathematics concepts at a very early age, which gave us (mostly Tim) many opportunities to teach math without the grind of daily practice.  Then one year, his math scores on the required standardized test showed a dip, and we decided it was time to make math habits happen at our homeschool.  Saxon to the rescue!  
Never has any of our students praised Saxon, in fact they all jest about burning their math books and other fine fantasies of retribution rituals.  
Saxon may be repetitive and lack-luster compared to other math texts, but it gets the job done! 
Yeah Saxon (sshh, don't let the kids hear me say that)!!

AND other big news in our Catholic community today:
Habemus Archepiscopum!
VATICAN CITY, 16 SEP 2010 (VIS) - 
The Holy Father appointed Bishop James Peter Sartain of Joliet in Illinois, U.S.A., as metropolitan archbishop of Seattle (area 64,269, population 5,141,000, Catholics 964,000, priests 313, permanent deacons 104, religious 551), U.S.A. The archbishop-elect was born in Memphis,U.S.A. in 1952, he was ordained a priest in 1978 and consecrated a bishop in 2000. He succeeds Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A stop along the way

Our drive home from Grand Mound included a stop at one of our old haunts from the Seattle days...
Piecora's Pizza

The place was nearly empty, I guess we were there for an early dinner by Seattle standards.
I have to admit, although I remember Piecora's being the "best pizza" ever...
I now attest that La Fiamma in Bellingham makes a pizza (over wood fire) that is at least twice as delicious!

This is the scene in Seattle where one of our favorite old group shots was taken many years ago.
Now we have a new group shot to add to the old.
Eric, Brian, Sean, Tim & me, Cheri & Mark, Aileen
(circa 1992)

Judah, Joseph, Boaz, Nolan, Peter & Tim

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where Else?

Can you body surf indoors in 84 degree temperatures?
Can you climb, float, scream, slide, and chill?
Great Wolf Lodge, of course!

For Tim and me, this was our first trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, in Grand Mound, WA.
But for Joseph and Peter (who have been treated by Gma Billie & Gpa Cliff) this was trip #3.
But for all of us it was an outstanding opportunity to be with great friends in a great location.
We climbed thousands of stairs to get up to the launch pads for our favorite rides, 
the Howling Hurricane and the River Canyon Run.  
We (some of us more than others, this may be gender specific
screamed so much our throats are raw!
Going as guests of the Girl Scouts, who had a few last-minute cancellations and invited us to help fill empty rooms.... we were treated like royalty!
The in-room meals were prepared by Renee & Hilary , who pre-packaged the home-made menus to be distributed to each individual family/hotel room unit.
Home-made granola & frosted muffins for breakfast; taco salad for dinner; sandwich wraps and goodies for lunch...  These moms take "be prepared" to a new level!
And to Rod & Kara who herded all the families (including ours!) into this fantastic adventure~
Many thanks!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Special Visit

Peter, Joseph, Grandpa Pete, Zachary (and Rocky)
We were blessed by a visit from Grandpa Pete this week, and we sure enjoyed his stay.
It had been too long since he'd been up to visit 
(but even so, he's our most frequent visitor from the Tacoma clan... hint hint hint).
Zachary gave up his bedroom, and even "cleaned" it for Grandpa.
Grandpa joined us for a fun party/potluck at Hope's house, and told funny stories about his first employment experiences on a farm on Vashon Island.
We also discussed which songs he would like played at his funeral 
(not in a morbid way, just in the casual conversational way).  
We found out that the organist who played at my parents' wedding sneaked a few Elvis Presley songs into their Nuptial Mass liturgy (which would have been and still would be forbidden).  
Apparently, she doctored them up to make them sound, er, liturgically appropriate.
Sounds like a fish tale to me!  But he insisted it's the truth!  Too bad there's no video to consult...
Thanks for coming to stay with us, Dad!

Today's update on Tristan:
"Tristan had his best night yet...some improvements to responsiveness
though still in a coma and still very critical."

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Guard Your Art: K-LOVE - JJ Heller "Your Hands" LIVE

Guard Your Art: K-LOVE - JJ Heller "Your Hands" LIVE:
Something inspiring for the "first day of school."

Exciting update on the Breeding family was front page news today!

No new updates on Tristan... let's keep praying.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Prayer Request

Please join our prayers for Tristan (second from left, front row).
Tristan was in a car accident this weekend, & he's in ICU at our local hospital.
This message came from Coach Don this morning:
 Tristan is still in intensive care and has taken a turn for the worse this morning. 
He will shortly be going in for vital surgery. 
It is important that no one outside of immediate family visit the hospital intensive care area.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Breeding Success

Look out below!
Our first (and perhaps only) chick hatched yesterday...

And the other fertilized eggs, well, disappeared.
Yes, disappeared~ without a trace!
They were dated and had a sharpie "X" on each shell (there were 9 or 10).
They had been delivered/donated by our friends to our broody chicken so we could hatch a batch of chicks.  We couldn't get near the nest when the chicken was broody, for fear of her sharp beak.
Every once in a while another hen would force her way into the nest box (in fact the hen who was on the nest when the egg hatched was not the original broody, but took over the nest box by force at some point).
When she was off the nest to protect the newly hatched chick, we were concerned about the remaining eggs and worried that they may not hatch after being left cold for a while.
We decided to 'candle' the eggs to detect movement/life.  (Use a flashlight our friends, Kara & Rod, taught us~ candles aren't really used for candling eggs anymore!  Who knew?  No wonder our previous attempt at candling yielded no successful results!)
As we collected a few eggs for the gestation investigation, we noticed something odd.
The pile of eggs in her nest (still about 9 or 10) were not marked.  No "X's."
Only one marked egg remained. 
The others were just our ordinary non-fertile eggs that we would normally collect each day from our coop.
What happened to the fertile eggs we thought were so well protected under our hen?
This is quite a mystery!
We think maybe a creature found its way into the coop (it's not exactly vermin proof) and selectively took the fertile eggs.  
At least now we know why there haven't been many eggs to collect lately!  They've been hidden under a very protective hen.
Guess we need to find a better way to protect our young!