Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Moira Noonan's Testimony {From New Age to Christ and His Church}

If you can't take time to listen to the whole talk, please hear the first 10 minutes~

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Home School for One {Year 15}

As Senior Patrol Leader, Joseph chairs the monthly PLC planning meeting for Troop 3.
It's all about Joe ~ he's our solo student in this, our 15th year of schooling at home.  Joseph's sophomore year in high school (at home) includes courses in logic, Latin II, anatomy & physiology, religion, writing, Great Books Discussions (Rome year), algebra II, and others.  Three of these are taken online with Memoria Press and Angelicum Academy, which gives him the benefit of following a syllabus with formal due dates, outside grading and required participation in (live) classes.

Joseph recently completed three weighty 'Eagle Required' Merit Badges, which rounded out all the necessary requirements for his Eagle Scout Rank.  With his project complete, his merit badges signed off, and his service hours and leadership position fulfilled, he stands ready for the Scoutmaster Conference.  Shortly following the conference, assuming all goes well, his completed application will be submitted to the local BSA office and before too long, Joseph will be called in for his Eagle Board of Review with the district's Eagle Review Board.
Licensed pilot with a pilot in training at Bellingham International Airport
In addition to the standard academic fare, Joseph keeps active with regular off road excursions on his new mountain bike on the matrix of Galbraith Mountain trails.  I'm sure he misses his biking buddy now that Peter attends high school seminary, but still he rides.  Early morning training runs and sets of stairs with Tim several days a week flush out the regular PE program, and Joseph intends to be fit and ready for the early morning stairs climbing challenges once varsity swimming begins in November.
Look up in the sky!  Joseph co-pilots over Bellingham as a Young Eagle participant.
Other extra curricular activities this fall include an introduction to pilot training, big game and water fowl hunting, and sports appreciation (watching televised football games with Tim).  In the near future, Joseph will begin serving Low Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Latin Mass) which he has eagerly anticipated following his formal training sessions (which ended last spring on the very day of his confirmation).  Joseph's cassock (birthday wish fulfilled) hangs in his closet, ready for action.  As a regular at the teen Bible study offered bi-weekly at our local parish, Joseph will help build up our Christian community in the Word of God and virtuous friendships. 

And last but actually first, we continue our regular participation in the sacramental life of the Church, including serving at daily Masses and volunteering as needed elsewhere.  Let us not forget that 'grace builds upon nature', as our dear old priest used to say.  How incredibly blessed I am to be able to stay home and teach my kid(s).

Why Home School?

Homeschooled: How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

Sunday, September 15, 2013

High School Seminary {Christ the King Admits Peter}

Peter hauls his gear to his new room at school.

Peter's big day finally arrived on September 4th, after months of discerning, wondering, praying and waiting ~ the day he officially entered grade 8 at the Benedictine High School Seminary in BC.  A packed schedule on move-in day included time for hauling and unpacking gear, community Midday Prayer in the Westminster Abbey Church, a shared potluck lunch in the dining hall, parent orientation sessions, book store stop, and many opportunities to visit with the parents of Peter's fellow seminarians and with the holy monks who will be Peter's teachers.

Peter unpacks his belongings while Tim and Joseph visit with a brother.

Consistent with every other visit to the Benedictine Monastery, our family was warmly greeted by the monks and shown outstanding, genuine Christian hospitality throughout the day.  Peter set right to work unloading his crates and settling into his new space, quite independently and without need of suggestions or assistance.  Gathered together in the foyer, a group of new 'monastery moms' like me shared the bittersweet experience of move-in day with long time monastery moms and dads.  One couple, parents to four sons currently living under St. Benedict's roof (one a professed Benedictine Monk and teacher), and the dad a graduate of the seminary himself, offered abundant insight, wisdom and love for the rest of us in our various stages of coming to terms with the impending good-byes.

The high school seminarians, together at midday prayer

Peter enjoys the company of his new friends at the family potluck luncheon on orientation day.

Father Abbot demonstrates true Benedictine hospitality, greeting parents and students, leading prayer and sharing a meal.

Abundant insight and loving direction for parents flowed freely in the orientation session following lunch.  Father Peter, Seminary Rector, gave an inspired talk on the mission of the school, beginning with a focus on the Benedictine charism of unity and community modeled after the Holy Trinity.  Father Peter brilliantly witnessed to the core teaching within the seminary, the central themes underlying all aspects of the formation offered there:  that each one is a beloved son of God, a loving Father who delights in each one; that becoming a good son/brother/student is to become a fit dwelling place for God; that the beginning and end of all male development is rooted in learning to be ever more like Jesus, life giver and lover. 

Father Abbot addresses the families before leading prayer prior to lunch, with Father Peter, Rector.
Father Abbot's words for the parents advanced the concepts touched upon by Father Peter, highlighting the areas of liturgical formation, prayer, and spiritual direction as keys to aiding the boys in their search for Truth, for an ever deepening relationship with Jesus Christ.
Sanctify them in truth. Thy word is truth. - John 17:17
Peter shows Tim his desk in the study hall classroom.

The hour of our departure coincided with Peter's transition from his first game of roller hockey to Evening Prayer and supper.  Time for our blessings, hugs, and a few parting words passed in a flash, and Peter set out for the locker room, hockey stick in hand, with a glance over his shoulder to call out cheerfully, "See you in October!"
One last photo together before leaving Peter in the care of St. Benedict and heading back home to the US.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Pre-Departure {Peter + High School Seminary}

Peter teaches Joseph how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours

The final days before Peter departed to attend high school seminary in BC were slammed with fun and friends, and a few big packing errands and adventures.  And lots of prayers.

Racing around a salty pool on the shores of Puget Sound, Peter attempts to best his older brother.
A few days before the start of school, Peter discovered his bunk and desk assignments on a mission to Mission.

The shopping list for Grade 8 included roller hockey gear, which isn't as easy to find here in the States as it is in Canada, so a trip up north for gear shopping was a must.  Years ago we were experts at fitting hockey helmets, but it took us quite some time to find the right helmet for Peter.  Sticks and pads were much easier to select, and the seminary's attic also offered a few key pieces of hand-me-down gear to alleviate the budgetary output.

Enjoying the beach and catching dinner; Peter's Uncle/Godfather and family of expert crabbers visited us on his final weekend at home.

Peter's years in Boy Scouts certainly helped him to 'be prepared' for this big departure, and with only a little assistance he prepared all his belongings and packed for school.

Arranging for his dog's nail trimming by the family vets, Peter prepared to leave Rocky.

Knowing that altar serving has played a key role in Peter's home schooling and faith formation, our local priest, Father Altenhofen, offered Peter the role of thurifer for the Holy Mass offered on the Feast of Saint Gregory the Great; Peter's last day at home.  For the first time in who-knows-how-many-years, incense was used during the consecration. Peter considered it a great honor to assist on such an historic occasion in the life of our local parish, and many people promised him prayers as the news of his departure became known in the community.

On the Feast of St. Gregory the Great, Peter served daily Mass on the day before departure.
Enoch, Peter, Jonah, Judah, and David together after Mass at Sacred Heart.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Life Rank + New Life {Peter Steps Up}

Peter awaits his Board of Review following his successful Scoutmaster Conference for LIFE Rank.
For our third son, Peter, the question wasn't IF he would earn his Life Rank in BSA, but rather, when.  As he recently stated, "I've wanted to be an Eagle Scout since I was three years old."
Senior Patrol Leader and Scoutmaster, father and son combination
Another goal reached: Peter passed the formal conferences, and having successfully completed every requirement, including a stack of merit badges, he earned the second highest rank in Boy Scouts: Life.  His dedication, spunk and Scout spirit are a delight to behold, and we are delighted to celebrate this milestone his his life; one of a few major milestones for Peter (and our family) this week.
Senior Patrol Leader and older brother, Joseph awards Peter his LIFE badge of rank as Scoutmaster/dad looks on.
Judah and Peter, celebrating LIFE Rank
Before his mission trip to Zambia, Judah B. also passed from Star to Life Rank, but the badge award awaited his return and so coincided with Peter's.  Judah has also set his sights on earning the highest rank in BSA, and will endeavor to complete the requirements and persevere.
Troop 3 leaders at the Patrol Leaders' Council meeting; over half of these are Life Scouts, reaching for Eagle.
Our boys are blessed by the support of such a fantastic troop, and the leadership training and experience inherent in the good 'old' BSA.  Peter's years in Troop 3 will be remembered with fondness and great joy...

...and now he's prepared for his next grand adventure: entering grade 8 studies at Christ the King Seminary in British Colombia, Canada.

God Speed, son, we love you dearly, and you will be dearly missed by many!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cross 2 Ross {Day 5: Big Beaver Camp to Ross Dam, HWY 20}

Joseph hits snooze on day 5 at Big Beaver Camp

Our final morning in camp mirrored every other morning in camp, except that on this day we had a strict timeline in order to meet our driver at the rendezvous spot on Highway 20.  Various ailments plagued us, ranging from Judah's injured (splinted) finger, a strange growth/giant blister at the site of my wasp sting, Joseph's killer headache, and Tim's sore feet.
A sight for sore eyes bodies: Highway 20 in just 7 miles!
 Joseph and Caleb decided to hike out in sandals rather than bothering with hiking boots, which may or may not have been an option along other stretches of this 50 miler.  The rest of us laced up our boots and we all headed for home.
Who needs hiking boots?
Home-bound on day 5, hiking from Big Beaver Camp to Washington State Route 20 via Ross Dam
Although we were due to rendezvous, a few incredible view points along the last stretch of our trail begged for attention and called us to rest and take in the scenery.  As we passed several day hikers along the way, we felt encouraged knowing our destination neared.  Seeing a runner without even a bottle of water for the trail gave us a glimmer of finally finishing our 50 mile journey.
Ross Lake vista from the trail on day 5
Tim and me along the final stretch of the 50 mile trek, Ross Lake and Canada beyond
Regrouping and recouping on the Ross Dam with a lunch of summer sausage and dried fruit, we budgeted our remaining time to allow for a leisurely break.  Beautiful weather, spectacular views in all directions, and the dam itself a work to behold, our legs were rested and our imaginations captivated by the time we started hiking again.  Walking on concrete, though only for a short stretch, felt unfamiliar and harsh.
Lunch break atop Ross Dam
Looking down from Ross Dam to the Diablo below
Ross Dam from above

Peter, Bridget, Tim, Zachary and Joseph, pausing around mile 49 of 50, on our trek from Hannegan Pass to Ross Lake
Zachary pauses at the grave marker of Glen Harry Smith, buried in Ross Dam
 To the memory of Glen Harry Smith
Born March 31, 1885 Died September 10, 1939

Assistant Superintendent and one of the leaders of City Light. Associated with the City of Seattle Department of Lighting from June 13, 1909 to September 10, 1939.
Urn was placed in Ross Dam - Section 12 - Elevation 1327 - Midway between contraction joints eleven and twelve - Fifty feet from upstream face.
In grateful remembrance - by his associates

Closing in on the 50-miler finish line, the crew treks over Ross Dam.
Peter, Judah and Joseph peer over the edge of Ross Dam to the spillway below.
Follow the signs
With under a mile remaining on our 5 day excursion, we found ourselves walking in circles attempting to find the trail connecting Ross Dam with Highway 20.  Our map lacked the necessary detail for this final approach, and we wandered a bit aimlessly as a result.  Much to the horror of at least on (young) male on our crew, I simply flagged down a passing truck on the access road and asked for directions. Problem solved.  We turned around and headed in the right direction, only a short distance from the clearly marked trail we almost missed.
Following the dam portage/shuttle for canoeists, our crew treks out from the Ross Dam to Highway 20; one last mile.
The crowning climb on this trip involved one last grueling set of switchbacks, of the intense uphill variety.  The lads and gents wasted no time reaching the summit, but knowing that I could arrive well within the allotted pick-up zone without strenuous effort, I took the incline nice and easy.  With yet a fair stretch remaining, Enoch found me and offered to carry my pack to the parking lot, an offer I gladly accepted.  Relieved of my pack at a creek crossing, I let Enoch hike on ahead and dropped in to the icy water for a short, refreshing dip before resuming the ascent to the finish line.
Judah climbs the final sets of switchbacks on our short but steep climb to Hwy 20.
Within moments of our arrival at the parking area on Highway 20, Dr. H pulled in with a few coolers full of cold drinks and fresh fruit.  We tallied our wasp stings: 21; and our blisters: 5.  Sipping soft drinks and relaxing in the shade, we celebrated the moment and took our time making our way into the big maroon van for the 90 minute ride home.  An obligatory stop at Birdsview Burgers satisfied our cravings for sweets, then off we sped toward showers and civilization.
Mission accomplished.
Caleb with his dad, our driver for the ride home
Cold drinks and fresh fruit, a welcome out gift from our driver, Dr. H
Last stop: Birdsview Burgers for old fashioned milkshakes
Cross 2 Ross 2013: