Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Susannah {Memories}

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
Jeremiah 1:5

On this day in 2008, my friend Susannah died, leaving behind a loving, devoted husband and four children and entering into eternal rest.  Her oldest son had just earned his Eagle Rank, and so this year, Susannah and I have something in common.

I remember Susannah as an exceptional Catholic, and truly Christian woman.  Her energy for sharing the Gospel and speaking the language of love truly inspired me at a time when my faith's pulse was fairly dim, though not extinguished.   When I met Susannah, we were new to home schooling and fairly new to our town and parish community.  Susannah, a few years into her home schooling adventure at that time (along with Renee), took special care to include me and drew me in to a circle of Catholic moms for prayer, fellowship, and a weekly daily Mass.  Her zealous faith and tremendous mothering left an indelible mark on my soul and helped form me to be the Christian mother I am today. 

May you rest in peace, dear Susannah!
Pray for us...

Triple Hamocks, Thunder & Really Dirty Socks {Camping}

Chuck, Judah, Collin, Joseph and Zac

Moments after the boys' tents were pitched, they hatched a plan to hike up the closest mountain, which they have named after themselves to celebrate a previous (perilous) summit success.   It's directly across the road from the campsite we visit each year for our annual river rafting family camp with the troop.  Judah's dad, Chuck, agreed to hike with the group of four ambitious climbers, and asked us to start a search party if they weren't back in camp by 8PM.  They arrived well before the search party was dispatched, soaking wet and dirty from the scramble over mount A-Wad.

Enoch and Peter along the shores of Icicle Creek
Campfires and plenty of tarps made camping pleasant despite the near constant deluge drenching our three day stay.  That and the wonderful company camping in our group site of course, comprised of a fine collection of Scouts and family members from our troop ranging in age from two-ish up to... adult.  We missed having a few of our super-sized families along this year, but serious health concerns for medically fragile children and newborns can put a damper on travel plans.  Our anchor family missed this year's camp-out as well, due to a family gathering in another state.  Drastic!  We had to call them from town to make sure we knew the right time to assemble for the river ride on Sunday morning.  

Caleb, Isaac, and Zac in triple hammock formation

The river rafters had a blast, despite the dismal weather for the first half of the ride.  Due to high water levels, the rapids were especially exciting this year.  Zachary was one of the first to topple out of a boat, apparently much earlier than he would have preferred, due to his feet slipping in the raft.  Peter's favorite rapids included 'boulder bend' and 'drunkards' drop.'  Passing an abandoned raft, jammed into a bridge support (crash site from the previous day's ride), our riders came face to face with the real dangers and hazards possible while river rafting.  Good news that none of those Saturday rafters from the crash into the bridge were seriously injured.

Tim (orange hat) with Peter (khaki hat) and a group of Scouts and family members ride the Wenatchee River.
One of our top stops when staying in or near Leavenworth: Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church
A Saturday evening Mass in Leavenworth enabled us to keep our Sunday obligation.  With great anticipation we journeyed into town for an annual Mass at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church. We met the new pastor, Father Alex Trejo, and learned that Bishop Tyson had consecrated OLS's new outdoor "Way of the Cross" and worship space only a few days earlier.  After Mass we accepted Father Trejo's invitation to walk the Stations of the Cross as a family, reflecting at each stop on the passion and death of our Lord and the suffering he endured for our salvation.  The project is immense and when complete will provide a wonderful haven for praise, worship, reflection and fellowship.

Joseph leads us on the Way of the Cross, under construction on the sprawling grounds at Our Lady of the Snows.

Sock soup
Laundry, laundry and more laundry have marked the days following our return from the adventures in Central Washington.   The endless loads of wash not only helping us recover from the weekend away, but also preparing us for the next job: packing for Boy Scout summer camp which begins next week.  Looks like the weather will cooperate for that adventure, at least in NW Washington terms.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Graduated {Home School +}

With all the pomp and circumstance one could hope for, Zachary received his Associates in Arts and Science and his high school diploma.  Ending his twelve year journey in our Catholic home school, combined with his two years at the local community college in the running start program, Zachary was recognized with honors.  With a stellar academic record behind him and a challenging course of study at the University of Notre Dame ahead of him, Zachary's graduation gave us a great reason to celebrate.

Diploma (cover) in hand, Zachary holds back a giant smile, but lets a little one escape.

The fine bleacher seating for the commencement ceremony left comfort out of the question for the five of us with the coveted tickets for entry.  Meanwhile, Tim's mom (Grandma Billie) and my dad (Grandpa Pete) lounged in cushy theater chairs watching the event unfold on a big screen TV in the overflow seating area on campus.  We arrived early enough to claim top row seats in the bleachers, giving us the benefit of a back rest and fine viewpoint.  By God's grace, Zachary's seat, in the sea of caps and gowns, was nearly directly below us.  From such a close vantage point, we witnessed one of his instructors giving him an enthusiastic, loving greeting as Zachary took his seat after the procession. 

Zachary with Grandpa Pete
Grandpa Cliff and Grandma Billie share Zachary's joyful occasion.
Joseph, me, Zachary, Peter and Tim

The unforeseen highlight of Zachary's commencement event came at the cake and punch reception in the plaza following the formal ceremonies.  That same instructor we had witnessed giving Zac such a friendly greeting in the gym sought out my husband, Tim, to tell him in person what a fine young man and exceptional scholar he knew in Zachary.  Introducing himself as Zachary's logic instructor, he said,
"Zachary has one of the brightest minds I have ever come across.  I've been CEO of corporations and taught PhD level courses, and Zachary ... should be going directly to graduate school."

We give all the glory to God for the gifts He's given Zachary in mind, heart, soul and strength.  We are grateful for the gift of freedom and specifically for religious liberty~ making it possible for us to provide him with a Catholic education at home.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fortnight for Freedom


Please join us in prayer beginning Thursday, June 21 and continuing through July 4th, as we lift up our country in a particular way asking God's protection for our religious liberties.  Visit Fortnight4Freedom for prayer resources, daily reflections, and educational resources.

Litany for Liberty

For use during the Fortnight for Freedom

June 21 to July 4, 2012

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

This prayer may be prayed in a group setting led by a leader of prayer, who begins the
litany with the introduction and the announcement of each invocation, or if it is prayed
individually, the individual prays the entire prayer


Christ the Lord has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Let us turn to him in humble but fervent petition,
seeking the grace to root out from our hearts all trace of darkness,
and all that holds us back
from walking in the full freedom of the children of God.
As Christ is our great model for that inner freedom,
which enables us to do the right,
let us turn to him with confidence
that we, too, may follow him to the fullness of spiritual freedom.

Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy; Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy; Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, victor over sin and death… Free our hearts.
Jesus, source of light and hope… Free our hearts.
Jesus, fullness of truth and mystery… Free our hearts.
Jesus, teacher of seeking hearts… Free our hearts.
Jesus, healer of body and soul… Free our hearts.
Jesus, bringer of mercy and justice… Free our hearts.
Jesus, who humble the heart and mind… Free our hearts.
Jesus, release of captives… Free our hearts.
Jesus, voice against violence… Free our hearts.
Jesus, courage for the lowly/downtrodden… Free our hearts.
Jesus, origin of all authority and power… Free our hearts.
Jesus, true lawgiver… Free our hearts.
Jesus, unity of order and passion… Free our hearts.
Jesus, freedom of the Spirit… Free our hearts.
Jesus, obedient Son of the Father… Free our hearts.

For the freedom to love… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to believe… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to hope… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to worship… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to serve in charity… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to care for the suffering… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to comfort the sick… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to feed the hungry… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to shelter the homeless… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to proclaim the Gospel… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to walk in chastity… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to live in peace… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to work in good conscience… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to stand in solidarity… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to seek justice… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to reject sin… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to reject coercion… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to reject falsehood… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to reject evil temptations… Give us your grace.
For the freedom to reject injustice… Give us your grace.

O God, who gave one origin to all peoples
and willed to gather from them one family for yourself,
fill all hearts, we pray, with the fire of your love
and kindle in them a desire
for the just advancement of their neighbor,
that, through the good things which you richly bestow upon all,
each human person may be brought to perfection,
every division may be removed,
and equity and justice may be established in human society.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen.

[Collect for the Mass “For the Progress of the Peoples,”
Masses for Various Needs and Occasions, No. 29,
Roman Missal, Third Edition]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus {+Prayer for Fr. Qui Thac}

Father Qui Thac and Deacon Larry Gorman 
listen to the 11 o'clock choir's good-bye song for Father at his last Mass at Sacred Heart

Today, our universal Church celebrates the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  This very special feast falls within the octave (8-days) of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus (Corpus Christi), on which we solemnly commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist.  The priesthood of the new covenant, instituted by Christ when he breathed on the apostles, by God's grace, continues in the Church He founded to this very day.  Our priests, ordained by the laying on of hands by our bishops, trace their own ordination back to the apostles' ordination by Christ.  These holy men are chosen by God to bring us the flesh and blood of Jesus in communion.  On this Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is fitting to remember with great love the holy priests who have brought us into direct contact and sacred union with Christ in the sacraments, most especially the Holy Eucharist and reconciliation.
One particular devotion practiced around the world on this day is a prayer of reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Also on this day, a world wide day of prayer for priests has been promulgated.  As we pray this prayer for all priests today, we remember in a particular way our own Father Qui Thac, who will soon enter the Benedictine Monastery after faithfully serving as our pastor for six years at Sacred Heart.  How we love you, Father Qui Thac Nguyen.  You will always remain in our hearts and we pray that we will be joined together for all eternity within the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus...

Dear Father,
You came from among us
To be, for us, one who serves.

We thank you for ministering Christ to us
And helping us minister Christ to each other.
We are grateful for the many gifts you bring
To our community:
for drawing us together in worship,
for visiting us in our homes,

for comforting us in sickness,
for showing us compassion,
for blessing our marriage,
for baptizing our children,

for confirming us in our calling,
for supporting us in bereavement,

for helping us to grow in faith,
for encouraging us to take the initiative,
for helping the whole community realize
God's presence among us.

For our part, we pray that we may always be
Attentive to your needs 
and never take you
For granted. 
You, like us, need friendship and
Love, welcome and a sense of belonging,
kind words and acts of thoughtfulness.
We pray, also, for the priests who have
Wounded priesthood.
May we be willing to forgive
And may they be open to healing.
Let us support one another during times
Of crisis.
God our Father, we ask you to bless our
Priests and confirm them in their calling.
Give them the gifts they need
To respond with generosity and a joyful heart.
We offer this prayer for our priest,
Who is our brother and friend,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Eagle Scout

Crossing over to Eagle 2012
Tonight Zachary passed his board of review for Eagle Rank.  Only a few more signatures at the national BSA level, and he'll be awarded his badge.  Flag day (June 14) will always be a special day for our first Eagle Scout, the day his Eagle Scout application was officially completed.  Nicely done, son.
2003 Cub Scout family camp at Baker Lake, WA
  Wolf to Bear cross-over 2002
Zachary celebrates crossing over from Tiger to Wolf 

Almost Eagle {Board of Review}

Pack 222 Webelos and Bears 2004

One of these Scouts is about to join the Rank of Eagle Scout...

  • today was his last day of high school
  • he earned Life Rank at age 12
  • tomorrow he'll be in a cap and gown
  • he is an extraordinary young man
Zachary's Board of Review is tonight!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Finals Week {+ Annual Testing}

It's that time of year again~time for our home school students' annual standardized tests.  Coinciding with Zachary's final final exams for high school (at the community college), our household theme this week is EXAMINATION.

The ONE law for home schooling in Washington State requires every home school to provide annual assessment for each student of the compulsory attendance age (8+).  This testing and the mandatory form filed with our local school district each school year formally declaring our intent to provide home based education are only things we are bound by law to do as home schoolers in Washington State. I guess there could also be a law requiring us to feed and water our students and provide them recess, but I've never seen it in print.

So long as we home school teachers here in Washington have either a year of post high school education or have completed a home schooling certification course, we are deemed worthy by the powers that be to provide our children with a custom home-based education in whatever way we see fit.  So far we're seeing great results academically, socially, morally, and corporeally with our own eclectic Catholic home school program which we continually adapt according to each student's needs and interests (with an ever sharper eye on university entrance requirements thanks to Zachary's recent college application process).

The results of our students' tests are ours to keep and do not go anywhere other than into a file cabinet for proof that the tests were completed.  Often, the tests reveal what we already know in terms of which subjects are strengths and which are weaknesses.  For example in about 5th grade when Zachary dipped a few percentile points in the math computation section, we decided it was time to start using a math curriculum. 

When the timer goes off, the boys depart rapidly from the testing table (otherwise known as the dining room table) and enjoy a bit of mayhem (or a snack) before I call them in to report for the next section.  They take their tests as they spend their school days ~ doggy distractions, neighborhood noise, etc.  When the annual tests are completed, the boys current grade level 'officially' ends and the new grade level begins.  This means I am about to have another high school student as Joseph wraps up the final days of his 8th grade year and launches into the realm of Freshman.  Peter will complete 6th grade and move up into the 7th.  Zac will begin packing for his first year at the University of Notre Dame, and his years of home school formally come to an end this Friday as he graduates in a cap and gown from Whatcom Community College having completed his high school (home school) diploma and his AA degree.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Eagles and Marshmallows {7s}

As Scoutmaster for the troop, Tim signs Zachary's completed Eagle Rank Application.

After four years in the making, Zachary's Eagle Project has been completed and his board of review will happen in the very near future.   Those who worried about him being 'too young' when he earned his Life Rank at age 12 (leave aside the fact that he had earned the rank, by the book, plain and simple) should be appeased that despite his jump start, Zachary will, like so many others, be awarded his Eagle Badge at about the same time he 'outgrows' his youth BSA uniform upon turning 18 on August 4th.  However his character growth and personal maturation during these years of persevering with his Eagle Project while staying active and involved with the troop have benefited him greatly.

Eagle project complete: carport at Sacred Heart Catholic Church rectory

 Weston, Peter, Sawyer and Joseph roast marshmallows.

Noteworthy in our corner of the globe {where warm evenings for pleasant outdoor gatherings are somewhat of a novelty, especially in spring} the boys enjoyed a marshmallow roast recently at Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff's house with visiting cousins.  S'mores followed a genuinely Polish feast cooked up by Cliff for the whole family.  The (under 6) cousins didn't exactly devour the sauerkraut and dumplings, but the rest of us feasted on the bacon filled delights.   Violet (5) enjoyed helping in the kitchen and setting the table, clearly a future hostess in the making (like her mama).

Aunt Bethany wraps Peter's 'good' ankle, injured in a hoop-shooting fest on our driveway.

One ankle in a walking cast, Peter severely injured the other ankle and required veterinary care as the pediatrician's office was closed.  Well, when your aunt and uncle are both vets, there's always the chance that their years of medical training will come in handy.  In this case, the expert wrapping by Aunt Bethany prevented further injury to the painful ankle and the double-vet diagnosis of a severe sprain or possible broken bone confirmed the fact that we needed to seek medical treatment the following day.  Thankfully, the x-ray (Peter's 3rd in as many weeks, all on ankles) ruled out a broken bone and put Peter on serious rest and recovery time with physical therapy for both ankles.  Crutches purchased, both ankles in supportive devices, Peter simply must allow his ankles to heal or risk chronic re-injuries.

With one Godson receiving his high school diploma, we spent a sunny Seattle afternoon at the Woodland Park Zoo with our Godson Samuel, his mom Aileen, and brothers Peter and Ryan.  The $50 entry cost (for 3 of us) was quite a hit, considering we only had a few hours there, but well worth it for the joy of spending time with Samuel and his family {priceless}!  Of course we could have saved the money and just enjoyed his delightful baby smile any old place, but the zoo did offer some outstanding opportunities for the older brothers to delight in the wonders of nature together and take turns riding in Sam's stroller when Sam was being cuddled. 
Samuel is all smiles with his God-brother Peter.
 Peek a boo at the zoo
Walking cast on one ankle, brace on the other, Peter's still half monkey.
Elevated to the role of acolyte, Joseph completed his initial training just in time to allow him to serve with Father Qui Thac before his departure to discern a call to monastic life in the footsteps of Saint Benedict.  Joseph looks sharp in his new alb, and like Zachary and the other acolytes, serves at the altar with great reverence and solemnity
Saying good bye to our pastor of the past 6 years, Father Qui Thac Nguyen, happened in waves, as each time we were with him was "the last" this and "the last" that.  Our final Saturday morning coffee after Latin Mass brought a great turn-out and lengthy sharing about the many ways Father Qui Thac has touched our lives and brought us closer to Jesus.  How he will be missed...
Father Christopher LaRocca, OCD, whom I have grown to love this year on my journeys as an aspirant to Carmel at St. Cecilia's in Stanwood on second Sundays, is being reassigned by his superior.  His new priestly mission will begin soon in Uganda, where the Carmelite parishes and schools will benefit from his dynamic leadership and by his life of profound personal holiness and prayerful ways.  Fr. Christopher's presence will be greatly missed in our OCDS community (and surely in the parish), but I trust our Lord will send a holy priest to continue assisting in the formation at the Carmelite Institute and in the St. Cecilia's parish. 

Now go take a trip over to Jen's Place!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Science Battles {Home School Weapon Art}

Joseph's 14th birthday gift from Collin, Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction served as the inspiration for a series of home school science projects wherein ordinary household items were transformed into weapons (of mass destruction).  Joseph's fascination with the scientific concepts, coupled with his unrivaled enthusiasm for weapons that shoot stuff, meant that several other required subjects waited on the back-burner while the maul gun and Viking catapult were assembled and fired repeatedly (at no one in particular).

"I love making things that can be used to play practical jokes on people." ~Joseph (14)

 "I like putting things together for some reason." ~Joseph (14)

Friday, June 1, 2012

O'Dea Graduation Mass {St. James Cathedral}

One of the sweetest text messages I've received in quite some time came late at night last week from our Godson/nephew Niko:
Aunt Bridget,  I have 1 extra ticket to my graduation its at St James cathedral on may 30th at 7 would you like to come? !   Arrive early cause it'll be hard to park probably
Tim wholeheartedly endorsed my attendance, and so I made plans for the 90 mile trip to Seattle for Niko's graduation.

By the time I had parked and entered, St. James Cathedral was packed for the admit-by-ticket-only O'Dea Baccalaureate Mass and Graduation.  I looked around and saw only a sea of people and not a single open seat in the main body of the cathedral.  There were a hundred or more open seats~reserved for the guests of honor, the 2012 graduating class from the all boys' high school.  But just beyond the graduates' rows, in the choir loft, were a few open seats.  I made haste for the first open chair I spotted, and had essentially a front row seat in the back, elevated for a prime viewpoint.

O'Dea Choir

During the opening procession, I kept my eyes peeled for Niko as the stream of maroon caps and gowns rounded the main altar and flowed into their assigned rows.  "Focus! focus!" I told myself, "Keep an eye out for Niko so you'll know which row he's in."  Once they were seated and facing the main altar, I would never be able to pick Niko out from the crowd.  "AGH! You missed a few... is that him?  Is THAT him?  Focus!"  I was determined to pinpoint his location in the class.  Suddenly he came into view, and then came closer and closer, skipping the seat assignment all together and heading into the choir loft! Unbeknownst to me, Niko was among the graduates who would be participating in the boys' choir.  You can imagine my profound excitement and inexpressible joy to be sitting only a few feet from Niko!  Praise God!

Congratulations, Niko!

The Mass, sung beautifully by Niko and his choir, celebrated reverently and solemnly be Rev. Ryan, reached its apex when Jesus Himself came to us in Holy Communion (as always).  What a Great Guest to have at your high school graduation and in your very being!  We prayed for all past graduates of O'Dea High School, which includes our current (outgoing) pastor, Fr. Qui Thac Nguyen and our incoming (July) priest Fr. Altenhofen, as well as my dear Dad, who always remembers his days at O'Dea with a smile.

My family of origin celebrating Niko's graduation from O'Dea:
Dad, Peter John, Grandma O'D, me, Molly, and Mom