Friday, June 26, 2009

I Wish I Could, Dear

My husband is working from home this morning before we leave. I'm scrambling to finishing packing and Zachary is very eager to get out the door. After all, he has cousins to see.

Zachary: Mama, don't you think you should call to cancel Papa's work so we can go on our vacation?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Behind On Email and Going Away

Wow. My post on homeschooling boys seems to have met a need. I'm so pleased. I have never had so many emails concerning a single post in the history of this blog. Many of you are asking more questions and that's great, but we're leaving on a big crazy wonderful, family-trip-thing tomorrow so I say keep the questions coming and when I get back I'll see if I can compile them into a follow up post. If not, I'll try to get back to each of you individually and eventually. Thank you, everyone, for your interest and it's great to hear from so many wonderful moms out there!

Look What Jack's Building

Right across the street. Those trees there are on our lawn, so this is our view from the front porch where, you might imagine, my boys have been camped out watching this thing come together. They're convinced that's a swing set being built on the roof which is why Alex wants us to buy the house. He thought if I offered to buy it "as is" I could get a good deal. It takes all my effort to keep them away from this site when the crew goes home at night and it doesn't help that all the "grown up" neighbors go exploring it after hours.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And Here they are Today

An Old Picture

Jacob Finds a hatched Robins' Egg

The Best Rule I Ever Made

This week I decided I'd had enough of the constant begging for privileges and goods beyond what my children really need to be healthy and happy. So, I made the rule that if a boy wants to ask me for something (beyond necessities), he must first do a chore to earn the privilege of asking for that thing. It has cut down on the asking considerably and then today, when Jacob decided it was worth all the effort to ask me for something, he cleaned his room and vacuumed every corner of it only to find that once he was done, he'd completely forgotten what he had wanted to ask me for in the first place.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Homeschooling Boys

I have received many emails recently asking me for advice on homeschooling boys. Boys do present their own unique set of educational challenges, don't they?

Well, while I don't consider myself an expert of any kind or even a model homeschooler, we have been at this for seven years now and we have no plans to stop. This is the life for us, and I can share with you some of the things we've found helpful for teaching boys.These may not all be gender specific or true of every boy, but based on our own experiences as well as what I hear and see from other educators, these are the things that are typically most helpful for boys.

Diet: Studies have linked artificial colors, preservatives, and food additives to a great variety of learning and attention disorders. We avoid these additives as much as possible. We won't be food snobs when visiting friends and relatives, but I don't buy products that contain red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, MSG, BHT, or anything like them. We know which pickles to buy, which ketchup doesn't have these and the kids will even read the labels and tell me if I've messed up. You don't have to pay more or buy organic to do this.

Protein. I can't emphasize enough how protein at every meal is important for concentration.

Fish oil. The younger set takes an Omega supplement in the form of gummy fish. They love them. My oldest takes two fish oil gel capsules every morning, 2000 mg a day. I buy him his favorite fruit juices to help it go down. I have noticed marked improvement in attention and performance when the children take these supplements. We were lax about it one summer and had the worst September ever afterward. I got back on the regimen and the difference was amazing. Grammy was right, people. The human brain needs Omega 3s.

Exercise: Who doesn't know that boys need daily exercise? Let them play in the yard, get outside with them when you can, involve them in sports, take them for a walk or jog, join the YMCA. Get them out..out...out. Which brings us to...

Outdoors: Boys are generally happier when they are outdoors. We take the schoolwork outside in the fall and spring months. We work on the front porch, back porch, or picnic table if weather permits.

Get the essentials done first: Hit the three R's first thing--reading, 'riting, and 'rithmitic, and always start with math. You don't know when attention might rapidly decline, so use those first moments of the day for what really counts.

Break up lessons into short sessions: In what we call "afternoon school," I pull each boy one by one from his play to work on something with me for a very short period of time, never more than ten or fifteen minutes. I find these short, but consistent lessons go a long way toward progress.

Limit busywork: Boys generally have an aversion to worksheets. They tend to learn more readily from experience than through the written or spoken word. Avoid unnecessary busywork as much as possible. If writing is a struggle, don't make your boys write in every subject. Choose one or two so that he does practice writing on a daily basis, but let him work orally in the rest of his subjects. Also, you might consider computer based programs and keyboarding for some subjects. Boys generally respond well to these methods.

Motivate with Rewards: A trick I learned from my sister, Helene, was to let my boys earn computer time by reading for an equal amount of time each day. They earn as much as an hour a day and Saturday comes with a free half hour. This has worked beautifully here, both for motivating reading and limiting computer time. We also let the boys read past bedtime by reading lamps or out on the porch some nights with me. Late night reading doesn't earn them computer time, the reward is staying up past bedtime.

Another trick I use to get the boys to the school table in the morning is to offer them chewing gum, permitted only during "morning school." Studies have shown that chewing gum while studying actually improves concentration. It's true. And it gets them to the school table like nothing else.

Be patient: Now this is an area that I have really struggled with and that continues to be a daily challenge for me. As my husband rightly says, "You want everything done perfectly...and yesterday." It's true, and that isn't a good thing. Patience is something that doesn't come easy to me, but I can honestly say that I have grown in this area and in no small part due to the fact that I homeschool boys. Boys learn differently than girls and their progress is not as readily recorded. It takes time, sometimes more time than we would like, to see the fruits of their efforts and real accomplishments. Experience has taught me, though, that the fruits of their efforts are well worth the wait. Once boys grasp a concept or idea, they have really made it their own. They often have a unique take on what we're trying to teach and an insight that comes from long deliberation and careful observation. Be more patient with your boys, expect less immediate and recordable progress and they will eventually get to where you want them to be and teach you something in the end.

Provide structure, but not too much, and clear directions: Boys do need structure, but not too much. They don't respond well to endless charts and lists and rules, but simple instructions and basic expectations laid out clearly provide discipline that helps them to thrive. We have a basic "morning routine" that includes breakfast, brushing teeth, getting dressed, fixing beds, and tidying up bedrooms before getting to the school table. I've actually written up these instructions on index cards step by step and taped them on their closet doors complete with their own hand drawn images to help them remember their daily duties. Boys tend to need this kind of clarity and reminder when it comes to rules.

Competition: Most, but not all, boys have a competitive spirit and that is to your advantage. Make good use of it. We have competitions for our drill work--who can be the first to finish a set of age appropriate math drills on a dry erase sheet? I've found, too, for my less competitive boys that they still like to compete against themselves. Can you beat your last time on this drill sheet? Let's see how fast and accurate you can be. Boys respond to a challenge.

Work through the summer: This is one that I have been slow to come on board with, but I'm there now. I've always been a huge proponent of taking a break and focusing through the summer months on getting as much sand and sun and water and waves as we possibly can. I still believe this is important, but so also is keeping up a certain amount of discipline and keeping things learned fresh in mind. We do take a break in the summer from regular school year routine, but we have developed a light and fun summer program that keeps the kids from forgetting everything they've learned and makes the task of getting back into the swing of things a little bit easier come September. We try to keep all learning fun in the summer months. We now have drill competitions, money counting as "play", reading time with stamps and stickers, poolside catechism, and late night summer reading, as well as Vacation Bible School, skip counting in the van on the way to BBQs, and educational games--memory, spelling bees, and so on...

Let them go: Last, but not least, is to allow boys plenty of free time during the school year and summer months. They are full of natural wonder and they really do learn best from experience. Let them experience the world as much as possible. Give them lots of unstructured time to watch an anthill, explore the woods, wade through creeks and far away places. Listen when they tell you about all they observe and encourage them to put their experiences into words. Some boys may wish to record their experiences in writing. The best two dollars I ever spent was on a blank journal for our second son. He, more than all the others, took to his journal and recorded in pictures and simple sentences the very elaborate world of wonder that he and his brothers inhabit here in our own back yard and deep woods. Reading his journal is eye opening and heart warming for me. I wasn't aware of half the things and places he and the others had discovered, observed and named. While I washed dishes and mopped the kitchen floor, my boys were out conquering the wild and learning as boys learn best. You have to love this wonder, spirit of adventure and delicious boyishness. I certainly do.

In That Case...

Nicholas: May I please have a glass of water?

Me: I'm nursing the baby. Could you ask Simeon or Zachary to get it for you?

Nicholas: (pout)

Me: What?

Zachary: He wants you to get it. He says it tastes better when you get it for him.

Monday, June 22, 2009

So...

Why doesn't God just come over the loud speakers at a football stadium and announce His omnipotence? Why doesn't He run ads during prime time to tell the world His salvific message? If He's so powerful and so good why doesn't He reach us the way we want to be reached? If He's so willing to be our savior, why doesn't He send out a universal text message? Why is God so seemingly silent? Why?

Benedict XVI has a response...

"You shall not put the Lord your God to the test." (Duet 6:16) This passage alludes to how Isreal almost perished of thirst in the desert. Isreal rebels agaist Moses, and in so doing rebels against God. God has to prove that He is God. The Bible describes this rebelion as follows, " They put the Lord to the proof, saying Is He among us or not?" (Ex 17:7) The issue then is one we have already encountered: God has to submit to experiment. He is "tested" just as products are tested. He must submit to the conditions that we say are necessary if we are to reach certainty...We are dealing here with the vast question of how we can and can not know God, how we are related to God and how we can lose Him. The arrogance that would make God an object and impose our laboratory conditions upon Him is incapable of finding Him. For it already implies that we deny God as God by placing ourselves above Him, by discarding the whole dimension of Love, of interior listening; by no longer acknowledging as real anything that we can't experimentally test and grasp. To think like that is to make oneself God. And to do that is not only to abase God, but the world and oneself, too.

Jesus of Nazareth, page 37.

The Sweetest Thing I Saw Today

Zachary asked me if he could look at our old photo albums. We don't have many as just about the time Zachary was born I switched to digital photography and rarely have had prints made since. I told Zachary he could look under my bed and dig out whatever albums he wanted.

Later, I saw him on the floor head to head with Micah. "That's me, Micah, when I was born," he was saying "just like you, but I was more red." It was important to him to show his baby brother that he was a baby once, too. And there was Micah, responding as you might expect--bobbing his head, grabbing at the plastic sheets, trying to pull everything into his mouth.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Favorite Pics From Father's Day





OK, this bullfrog that Simeon caught was totally disgusting and also...um...kinda cool.

Happy Father's Day


...to the Dad behind all our best adventures!

Happy Father's Day to fathers everywhere and to spiritual fathers as well, in this the year of the priest.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday Morning

Guess which stack Jacob made using the mini ladle from Zachary's play kitchen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Attachment Brothering


This wasn't my idea. This was Simeon's solution to the problem of a fussy baby, Mom in the shower and his trying to get some chores done to earn the last few dollars for a game he's been wanting to buy. I think he's earned it.

Sand

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

We were stuck in a downpour today and periodic flash floods, me and the five kids and a screaming baby, coming back from a friend's house. So bad, in fact, that we had to pull over more than once and wait it out on the highway shoulder. At least I could nurse at those times. It got so late, we had dinner at Cracker Barrel in soaked clothes. We were lost at a few points (way lost--like, are we at the coast? kind of lost) having missed our exits for lack of seeing them, or seeing anything for that matter, such was the visibility.

We ended up at a Burger King later still for an emergency bathroom break and when I took the opportunity to nurse the baby again in the back seat an employee came out seeing all the children and nobody in the driver's seat and asked "Where's your mother?" I raised my hand sheepishly as I was nursing the baby, still buckled into his seat in the parking lot if you know what I mean.

It was miserable.

It was more than miserable and so I was surprised when we finally arrived home at 10:00 pm and Zachary thanked me. "For what?" I asked. "For taking us on this journey," he said. "Did you like this journey?" I asked. "Oh yes," he said.

I'm glad he did.

But this is the same kid who on the way there asked me, "Mama is it true you jumped out of a moving car when you were a little girl?"

Yes, Zachary.

"Is it true you broke both your arms in one summer when you were little?"

Yes.

"Oh man, it isn't fair" he said, "You never do things like that anymore."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Innocence

We were talking about what it means to avoid the "near occasion of sin" and how part of that means we shouldn't hang out with the wrong crowd.

"What kind of crowd?" one child asked, "You mean like...litterers?"

I think that was the worst he could imagine.

Diplomacy

Zachary: Oh, I love this little slug I found. Mama, do you like tiny slugs?

Me: Yes dear, the smaller the better.

Rainy Summer Day

What I'm reading to the kids...


Monday, June 15, 2009

Only the Best

Admiring a pair of dollar store sunglasses...

Boy: Wow, are these real diamonds?

Brave New World, Indeed

When a lab mix up causes one woman to lose her child to abortion in another woman's womb, it's time to stop. It's time ask ourselves just what led us to the point where we allow doctors and lab technicians such an intimate role in the conception of our children.

"Keep your rosaries out of our ovaries," used to be a popular pro choice mantra.

We don't want God in our intimate lives, but Joe lab assistant is welcomed on in so long as he's serving our desires. I should hope it would give pause when he accidentally mislabels a frozen child leading a doctor to implant him/her in the wrong woman who has no qualms about discarding the baby's life as it doesn't serve the particular desires that she's paying to have fulfilled. I should hope it would give us pause.

This story makes me heartsick, for so many reasons.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Things I Learn from my Kids vol 2

What is the opposite of sandwiches?

Sandwhichisn't.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On Gifts

A gift should be reflective of the giver and the one to whom the gift is given. It should show a kind of thoughtfulness and attention to the needs, desires, and tastes of the one receiving, but it should also reflect the giver's choice and the giver's love. Most importantly, the giver's love.

In a day and age when registering for gifts at weddings and at the birth of a baby is common and expected, I wonder if we have lost sense of the beauty of gift giving. How is registering for gifts any different than filling our carts with what we want for ourselves and asking our friends to foot the bill when we get to the register? How often do we think of the giver when we use gifts we've registered for? Don't we think more often of our own tastes, desires and why we wanted those things when we did than we do of those who paid for them? Oh, I'm not knocking registering completely, it seems rather practical in many ways, perhaps too practical. Shouldn't gift giving allow for something more?

This is on my mind because of an incident that occurred at the pool today. A woman, a mother, asked me if she was seeing things clearly and if I did, in fact, have FOUR boys. No, I told her simply, I have six. Her response was, "Well then, are you done trying for your girl?" I was insulted. I know, I should be used to this by now, but still, I was insulted. Maybe it was her cavailier assumption that my family was the result my trying to have "my girl" that got me. I am SO TIRED of that. Do you hear me? I am so very tired of that nonsense and it came out my mouth,

"No," I said, "That's not it. These boys aren't about me trying to have a girl. That's not what I'm doing. This isn't about me." Needless to say, she and I didn't hit it off after that, but it got me thinking as these things often do, what if I had registered for my children at my wedding and chosen exactly what I wanted and asked God to fill the order?

Honestly, I would not have registered for six boys. I would have chosen a more "balanced" family and perhaps smaller, more reasonably spaced in some instances, but that's not what God gave me. He didn't check the registry, I guess, or maybe he knew better. Maybe the gift of these children was something I couldn't have understood when I was twenty three. Maybe I didn't know how these children, these six boys could reflect their Giver in a way that would lead me to the joys I now know.

If God had just listened to me and not tried to show Himself in His gifts, I would be so much poorer today than I am now. I would not have known these children, made in His image, co-created in our love, born in my pain, all brothers living here in our home. This is not the life I'd have registered for, and so I am grateful, ever grateful that it wasn't my choice, that these children, my family, this family, our family, isn't just about me and what I think I might want.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Apple Disappointed in Tree

Older Boy: Mom, are there any interesting people in our family tree, you know, like pirates, bank robbers, or outlaws?

Me: No, sorry dear, as far as I know all our relatives were decent people.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Elmer D. Jacob

How's the pool water, Jacob?

Jacob: Refweshing.

Family Entertainment

Five brothers reflecting sunlight off of CDs creating a disco effect on the ceiling and walls, watch as the baby tries to follow it all.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Please...

...read my sister, Danielle's, birthday request today as B. is my beautiful and sweet niece, too. Would you take a moment to say this prayer with our family? It would be so much appreciated.

Thank you, and don't forget to wish Danielle a Happy Birthday!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Rosary: Keeping Company With Jesus and Mary


a book by Karen Edmisten

It was the beginning of my sophomore year in college and after a summer away, I was pleased to see again a good "friend," whom I now know as my husband. As he approached, I realized he wasn't as pleased to see me.

"It didn't work," he said sternly when I tried to greet him. "Excuse me?" "It didn't work," he said again and held up his hand as though to give me something. I put my hand out and he dropped into it-- my rosary. "You left this in my car," he said exasperated, "and it didn't work on me."

We had many conversations about faith in the year before and while we came from different backgrounds, he had always been very open about his thoughts and beliefs and respectful of mine. What he didn't appreciate was what he perceived as an attempt on my part to win him over to my side by dropping some kind of magical beads on the floor of his Ford Escort.

Today, we laugh about this story for many reasons. First, because after much reading, discussion (sometimes with me), questioning, and soul searching my husband entered the Catholic Church in 1995. Second, because he now prays the rosary more often than I do and is the driving force behind our daily family rosary (even if it is just one decade most nights), and third, because he knows that I wasn't trying to make anything "work" on him after all. I left my rosary in his car because I leave all sorts of things everywhere. (Remind me to call Target in the morning to see if they've found my keys yet).

There are so many misunderstandings concerning the rosary, especially among non Catholic Chistians. Is it superstitious? Is it Mary worship? Is it a form of rote prayer condemned in Sacred Scripture? Why is it so repetitious? Karen Edmisten's new book, The Rosary, keeping company with Jesus and Mary clears this fog with a steady beam of simplicity and clarity. She explains what the rosary is, and what it is not, how it is meant to be prayed, and how it brings us closer to Christ.

Edmisten's style is so warm and approachable, so intelligible and down to earth, yet her topic is the prayer that invites us into contemplation of the central mysteries of the life of Christ--quite an accomplishment. She answers many common objections and concerns about the rosary. I particularly like her explanation of formal prayer. In part,

While [the rosary] could certainly appear to be vain or empty, properly approached it is a prayer from the heart, a cry from the soul and a way to rejoice in the glory of our salvation. The "fixed form" frees our minds and keeps our thoughts from floating away...Yes, the rosary is a prescribed set of prayers, but it is more than the sum of those parts...Once we're focused, the real prayer can begin.


So many points that Edmisten makes in this book were topics for our conversations over the years as my husband grew to appreciate this devotion and as I learned from discussions with him much of the why behind the what Catholics pray and believe. Edmisten handles these topics skillfully. The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary is a wonderful apologetics tool, removing unnecessary, but common obstacles to faith.

This is a book for Catholics, too, who grew up in homes where the rosary was prayed. Edmisten offers spiritual, historical and political context to the rosary as well as a simple approach to meditation that even this tired mother of many thinks might help improve her focus. Edmisten's prescription for meditation doesn't require mystic status. She suggests simple ways to just "be" with Jesus in each of the mysteries, ways that are so approachable and so natural that I plan to share them with my children.

From cover to cover, The Rosary: Keeping company with Jesus and Mary is a wonderful read. I am so pleased Karen wrote this book and only wish I had it those many years ago to hand my future husband when he handed me back my rosary. I'm sure he'd have read it and discussed it with me if I had asked and not just, say, left it in his car.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

To Each, His or Her Own

What made me happy all day...


Peonies
in a glass vase
given to me by my husband
who had been away,
but is now home.


What made my boys happy all day...


Spring Peeper tadpole/frogs
with tails still on
in an old pretzel container
fished
from a neighbor's drain pipe.

Dress for Success

Me: Nicholas, Zachary tells me you plan to work for the FBI. When do you start?

Nicholas: Well, first you need to buy me some policeman shoes.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Awwww...

I can't get enough of the picture at the bottom of this post. Happy babymoon, Margaret!

Yellow Kitchen





Strange Conversion

Boy: Mom, how many grams are in a diagram?

Happy Birthday, Simeon!

Today, Simeon turns eleven and his feet are a little larger than mine. This picture was taken by Alex on the porch. I like to let the two oldest stay up after bedtime to read with me on the porch. We sit out there in our pajamas on warm summer evenings with a stack of library books and a pitcher of lemonade, drinking in ideas and the feel of a summer evening while enjoying one another's quiet company. I really enjoy this summer activity and time with my books and these boys.

We can't stay up so late every night, though, and on this particular night when this picture was taken, I had let them stay up because I had promised earlier in the day, but in reality I was really really tired that night and much too short on patience. Though I was tired, we still managed to read our books, have a good time and laugh and tease when we discovered that Simeon's feet had officially outgrown mine. Then, after this picture was taken, Simeon accidentally knocked over a glass of lemonade and I really didn't handle that well. I sent the boys up to bed in an angry tone and mumbled something about not being able to handle more work after a long day.

As I mopped up the lemonade, though, I had time to reflect and regret my words. I headed upstairs and sat on Simeon's bed. "I'm sorry," I said, "I really had fun tonight. I was just so tired and..."

"It's OK, Mom," he said "I know how you feel."

And I really felt he did. I tell this story because it captures somehow what this oldest son of mine has become. At eleven, he's this funny mix of little and grown boy, still prone to knock over a glass of lemonade, but mature enough to know how to comfort his mom afterward.

I love you, Simeon, and am so proud of you. Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Yippee Yea!

Finally, my copy of my friend Karen's book, The Rosary, keeping company with Jesus and Mary has arrived. Cracking open the cover now. I'll see you when I'm done.

On Friendship

Zachary: Why do we have so many friends?

Me: Well Zachary, we've been very blessed that way, to meet so many families since we've moved here that have been so kind to us.

Zachary: Yes. It feels like being so rich with gold and nobody wants to take it from us.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Funny

Pulling out of the driveway with all six boys in the car, heading for the pool for the first time this year, I meant to ask like I always do, "Is everyone buckled in?" but for some reason I accidentally asked, "Is everyone plugged in?"

Without missing a beat, Simeon replied, "No, I'm wireless."

Sitting!



Along the Marshmallow Trail

One night last week the kids asked to have a campfire and toast marshmallows. I said it was fine with me if my husband wanted to do it and they cleaned up after themselves. The event itself was brief, taking all of about thirty minutes, and when the kids bounded into the house grinning sticky smiles later, I felt very spontaneous and in the spirit of summer. I hoped at that moment to fill all our summer days and nights with as many such experiences as possible.

But that was before I discovered the melted and burned marshmallow stuck to some child's shorts and twisted up in a clean load of laundry...and before I found a charcoal mural drawn on my driveway the next day...and before I found sooty handprints on every wall leading to the bathrooms...and then blackened marshmallow rubbed into the carpet in the livingroom...and now I find the same in a bedroom... and as I'm sitting on the floor with my bottle of Goo Gone and a brush I'm just hoping all this childhood summer fun doesn't always turn out to be so much work for this grown up.

Monday, June 01, 2009

A Few thoughts on Sheltering

We homeschoolers are often criticized for "over sheltering our children" from"the real world." It is thought, commonly, that a child must be exposed to the world in order to thrive and that homeschooling harms children by shielding them from the realities that children must invariably face. I am not unaware of these criticisms or unconcerned about them. Certainly, the children we raise in our homes are a part of a larger community-- a neighborhood, a state, a nation of which they are a part. We are proud to belong to these larger communities, but is sheltering so wrong?

Maria Montessori was my first inspiration to think about what sheltering is and what it provides. She speaks so beautifully of nature itself providing shelter to its young. The plant seed is covered in a shell, the animal offspring protected from predators in hardened calcium, the human embryo wrapped in layers of coverings of vernox and water, all provided by nature herself to protect new life from the harshness of the elements. Montessori doesn't even touch on the harshness of of a world oblivious to moral rectitude, but simply of the need to shelter our young from the glaring light of day and the noise of every day goings on in a busy, busy world of motion and noise moving ever faster ever forward. How is one to establish roots and thrive and grow in such an environment? How is new life expected to emerge without some shelter, some support, some encouragement and protection, some shielding force that allows it to express itself for what it is and become what it it is meant to be. I am convinced of this. I believe in this. All children need some protection and shelter to thrive, at least as much as the grass we mulch. I do not claim that all children must be homeschooled to receive this protection. I do not think that this is true, but that homeschooling is a legitimate form of that protection that all parents must provide. It is a choice, a decision based in prudence by parents who know themselves and take into account their children's ability to withstand adversity and their ability to provide an environment where the children can be themselves and grow in accordance with nature and in the life of grace.

I read, not too long ago, one woman's opinion that homeschooling truncates a child's development, that harshness and adversity are the very elements necessary for a child to bloom. This may be true for some, but it is arrogant and presumptuous to presume that it is true for all at all stages. This same woman, by the way, defined child rearing as a process of "letting go." I found this odd in the same way I'd find it odd to define light as the absence of darkness. We speak of "raising" our children, not "releasing" them as spores to the wind. Parenting is much more a process of enabling a child and only "letting go" as the child becomes self sufficient. There is great joy in discovering our children's abilities, and the mother who truly loves is proud beyond measure of her child's ability to do without her, however saddened she might become to lose the relationship of dependence that a child has blessed her with for a time. It is a great paradox and a funny thing to be a mother who so loves her children to be with her and at the same time so want them to not need her at all. And yet, this is the task that lies before us all, to love our children, to love that they love us, to love that they need us when they do and then to let them go when they are ready to be let go, one careful step at a time. It is such a delicate process and one that is fraught with such dangers and pain and joy and sorrow. So delicate, so personal in fact, that we must be careful, very careful not to tread on the heartfelt and thoughtful decisions of other mothers who ideas and circumstances might not be our own.