Latin for Dummies. (And 7-year-olds.)

I had a lot of reasons for deciding to homeschool my kids, like I don’t like being told what to do and other people annoy me.

(Also intelligence blah blah blah.)

(Basically other people though. They really bug me.)

But a big part was that I wanted to give my children a classical education that prepared them to be civilized, cultured adults who knew things about a lot of the world and could learn more and discuss things like reasonable people.  I didn’t see a lot of this happening at the schools I had access to, and while there are great options like Aquinas Academy in our area, I was certainly not in a financial position to do those.

And I knew from the beginning that Latin was going to play a huge role in my curriculum. My husband and I have something like eight years of Latin between us, and we both think the fact that the other studied it is adorable.

(Nothing gets me hotter than a properly declined noun.)

I just think there are so many benefits- spiritually as Catholics, culturally as, well, cultured people, and neurologically since it’s totally a foreign language even if it’s dead.

Our daughter is in first grade this year, and the curriculum company we use for most things offers a great early elementary level Latin program. I added it to my cart, broke it up into weekly lesson plans, and got psyched to impart my wisdom on my kid. Ahhh.

And then…it imploded. This program? Is awesome. Really. It is. Check out the Prima Latina program from Seton.

But it is NOT how my seven-year-old currently learns.

It was frustrating to me, since I really wanted this to be a part of our homeschooling. But I didn’t want to squash her love of learning by forcing her to do things she didn’t like when it was clearly not working. But then I’m her teacher so I have to force her to do some things she doesn’t want, so maybe this should be it?

Anyway, by Christmas break, Latin was increasingly getting ignored because I didn’t feel like fighting her to sit down and use a workbook.

I figured we’d have to wait a few years to tackle Latin. I get it, I mean, I was in seventh grade when I started, and my husband was in high school. It wasn’t the end of the world. But I really loved the idea of it being such a part of her life from the beginning. And I knew that other schools (like Aquinas) did it with great success.

So I prayed to the Blessed Mother about it for like two months, and continued ignoring it.

A tiny little idea came to me.

Just teach her the Ave Maria.

I can do that. I’ve taught her literally every other prayer I know. I’ll just teach her the Ave Maria and even if she doesn’t sit down and use the workbook, at least she’ll learn some of the words.

And then I realized- SHE’LL LEARN THE WORDS. Literally, this is how to teach children anything.

(Sometimes I wonder if Mary is sick of my stupidity.)

So I taught her the sign of the cross, and the Ave Maria. And once we did that- amazing things happened.


I realized I could weave Latin through the rest of our school. We recite the prayers together all the time. I sing her the Ave Maria (Gregorian chant version- I do not have a great voice, and it’s the only one that doesn’t make ears bleed when I attempt it.) We practice cursive and handwriting by copying the Latin words.

We even used it as an art class- I write the Latin words and English words on a sheet and the kids cut them out and glue them on to construction paper. I laminate them and put them on a ring and they have a special prayer book to bring with them in the car or to Mass.


There’s no fighting, my kids are learning new things and praying a ton, and even the stuff I was worried about don’t seem to be an issue. I was concerned that they’d just memorize words and never really think about what they mean. But last week my daughter was reading her card and said, “Mulieribus- that means something about women right?”

Heart= warmed.

So that’s the wisdom I’ve picked up from this second year of homeschooling. You can teach your kids things. Hard things. Just make it small and fun and not terrifying. Don’t flip out about it.

And pray. Because Mary will listen to you. Even if you should have been able to figure this out before.

Mommy

It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow, and I’m having trouble writing this post. Not because there isn’t enough to say, but because there literally is nothing that she is not to me. 

She is my best friend, my first and best teacher, and the person who cares more about me than anyone else in the world.

She (and my dad) has given me everything in my life. She raised me to know and love God, she taught me how important family was, and she loves me no matter what.


The only time I’ve ever really been unhappy in life was when I was pushing her away.

She loves my husband and my children and genuinely delights when I am happy.


She will help me with anything. Any time. For any reason. 

Last year, I did a 60 times I loved you thing for her 60th birthday. There are so many more than 60.

She sat in the nicu with me every day all day when I was born, never stopping praying or believing that I would be okay. 

She kept me hooked up to a heart monitor waaaay longer than she was supposed to because she worried about me.


She quit her lucrative job to homeschool me even though she had no idea what that meant really.

(And look! It changed generations!) 

She listened to me go back and forth over every single academic decision I ever made. 

She was super proud of me for having an office.


She sat outside my thesis defense and took a picture of the window of the room I was in because it was that important to her.

When I passed, she was the first person I called. Not my fiancé. Not my friends. My mom. Because no one had been through more with me and cared more about that day.


She took my husband and my daughter into her heart immediately and helped me become the wife and mother I want to be. 

She wore a dress to my wedding even though she really didn’t want to.


She knew I was pregnant with Buddy before I told her. 

She knows when I need help without being told. 

She helps me literally every day with something.

She is amazing.


Throughout everything, even at the worst times, I have never been able to consider a life without her. Because a life without her would be a life without a part of myself. 

I love you, Mommy! I can’t wait to celebrate another year with you! 

(And by celebrate I mean have you take care of my crap for another year.)

(Yay! Get psyched!)

Ordained

I have been so blessed to have many wonderful priests throughout my life. Good men, good confessors, good guys to drink with…they ran a gamut. One of the most special was wour old associate pastor from when I was little. He left right after my First Communion but he was one of those priests that even though I was eight the last time he was my priest, you love him exactly the same.

He gave me my First Holy Communion. (Well, okay, some mom in our class did. Because it was the 90s and no one realized that using EMHCs for First Communion kind of cuts down on the symbolism for the kids.) He was my first confessor (although I was eight, so probably not terribly exciting.)

He was a wonderful family friend and just a really good guy. Humble and just so genuinely interested in helping others come closer to God through His Church.

And on Friday, he was ordained a bishop  for our archdiocese.

I was so honored to be able to attend. And by honored, I mean I was bragging about how my sister got to go because she’s a reporter with a job and a life and blah blah blah I’ve got to go do some more laundry. And one of the women I was talking to was like oh man I’ve got a ticket for that do you want it? um only hell yeah sorry is that the wrong reaction to attending an ordiation?


I was lucky enough to go to a very good friend’s ordination to the priesthood a bunch of years ago back when I was young and single and I’m pretty sure I wore a dress from the Kohl’s junior department.

(Not so this time. I had to find childcare and spanx.) Lipstick on point though, thanks to my sister-in-law. (Lipsense you guys- so fun!)


But I’ve never been to an episcopal ordination, and it was so beautiful. The ceremony and the prayers of ordination and just everything…so lovely.


And it was so special that it was for one of the best priests I’ve ever known.


I’m short, so most of the pictures aren’t very good. And he’s short, so most of the pictures don’t include him at all. But my daughter saw me receive Communion on YouTube, so she’s pretty impressed by the whole thing.

 

Raising Strong Catholic Daughters

I read this article over the weekend. It’s an interview with seven Catholic homeschooling moms on what they’re doing to make sure they are raising strong daughters. I absolutely love all of their answers, and it got me thinking about the kinds of things that I’m doing to make sure Squeaks is becoming a strong, capable woman of God.

Mostly there are things I want her to know. I want her to understand why we do everything we do and why it’s important. I want her to know these things.

1.) I love you. I will always love you.That doesn’t mean I won’t ever be mad at you.

2.) I can disapprove of things you do or decisions you make, but I will always always love you.Speaking of which, disapproval or righteous condemnation of sin is not hate or fear or being mean. It must be followed with loving urging to return the path that God intended for them.

3.) That goes for your own sins too. Go to confession often, and confess well. Find a priest that understands you, and pushes you to address the sins you commit most frequently. I don’t know what those will be yet, since you’re only seven, but I know that you will have them. You’re human.

4.) I am not going to be your friend at the cost of being your mother and keeping you safe (morally and physically.) That being said, I hope that we will be best friends, like I am with my mom.

5.) Your sibling(s- if I ever get not crazy enough to give you another) are the greatest gift and best friend God will give you for this period in your life. Treasure him. Stay close to him, even when you’re grown up.

6.) Your father loves you more than you will ever know. Fathers are so important, especially for girls. And yours happens to be a wonderful man who is full of faith and love and he genuinely tries to do what is best for you every day. Never forget that.

7.) I am making you work hard in school. I will continue to do so. Study hard, so that you can have all options open to you. Know how much I loved and treasure my education, and how important education is to our family. You will never have a worthless degree. You will always learn something about the world and yourself through a careful study of anything you care to set your mind to.

8.) If and when God calls you to be a wife and mother, know that you will feel used by God in a way that you never thought possible. And it is amazing.

9.) You are a daughter of God, and no matter how strong you are, you cannot do it on your own. Go to Him.

10.) Anxiety and depression run in our family. (It’s the only running we do. Hah!) Being stoic and refusing to acknowledge that you need help (like I did for what seems like an eternity after your brother was born but was actually like 12 days) is not being strong. Being strong is taking care of your mental health, even when it’s scary and overwhelming. I can help you. Come to me.

11.) I can help you with almost anything. I still go to my mom and dad for things literally every day. I want you to feel like you can do that with me and Daddy too.

12.) Don’t worry about your body. Yes, be healthy. But I have been a size 2 and a size 22 and literally I felt better about myself at 22. Being skinny doesn’t turn you into the person you want to be. It doesn’t make people love you. It doesn’t do anything except change the number on your dress. So run around, eat good food, keep eating vegetables, and be healthy. But never obsess over your size. Because it. does. not. matter.

13.) Learn your manners. Teach your children their manners. Don’t get mad at me for forcing you to learn your manners. Always send thank you notes too. They’re awesome.

14.) There is literally nothing that cuddling with your mom, taking a nap, and an hour in Eucharistic Adoration can’t make better.

15.) This world is over in a minute. Being a strong woman usually doesn’t mean doing things that make you popular or your life easier. Your goal (and mine) is to get to heaven, where the strongest women ever, Our Lady and the Saints, will be waiting for you.

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L'Oreal Infallible Total Coverage Foundation REVIEW!

I am in love with all things L’Oreal Infallible. I looove the Pro-Glow and Pro-Matte foundations, both on their own and mixed together. I love the concealer palette. I love all that ish.

I also love high coverage foundation. If I could put a veil over my face every day, that would be awesome.

(NO. I’m not getting political.I just mean I’ve got a lot of acne scars and redness and not a lot of time to cover them.)

(Because my children can smell when I’m doing something for myself.)

So obviously this foundation was a must try for me. Higher priced for drugstore, at $10.99, but still less than half the price of a high end bottle.

It’s a thick cream, in a squeeze bottle. I wasn’t overly impressed with the number of shades, and I had to pick the lightest shade which is a touch light for me. It blends easily and is what they call “natural” finish, which is kind of matte to me, but not drying. I guess pretty natural.

I used it a few different ways on different days, and ended up liking certain things about it. First I used it as an all over foundation, which I really liked. It covered well- I don’t know that it’s the HIGHEST coverage foundation I’ve ever used, certainly not coming close to like a Kat von D Lock-It foundation, or even Urban Decay’s All NIghter. But at 1/4 of the price, I guess that’s okay. I applied it with a beauty blender, and it went on very nicely.

And I forgot to take pictures, except for snapchat. So…just delete the filter I guess? In your head? 


Another way I tried was using it as a concealer. It also did really well for covering blemishes, although I found I needed more under my eyes for my dark circles. It’s also really hard to apply to anything other than a beauty blender, because of the thick texture and weird squeezy bottle. You can tell it settles into my undereye wrinkles.


Finally, I mixed it with the Pro-Glow foundation and applied all over. This was my favorite application. It upped the coverage of the Pro-Glow, but gave a nice satiny finish. Definitely appropriate for every day wear. I used a beauty blender, but this would have worked equally well with a brush once it was cut with the more liquid Pro-Glow.


Overall, a decent buy if you need a high coverage drugstore foundation. But not close to a high end total coverage one.

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Dear Matt,

Six years ago on Holy Thursday, I went out to dinner with my friends (okay, a bunch of priests and other committee members) after seeing you and Eva together for the first time at Mass. When I got home I went upstairs to say goodnight to my mom.

“Did you have fun?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I responded.

“Good. You need to marry that boy and help raise that little girl.” I was taken aback, because I’d thought exactly the same thing earlier than night, seeing you sit with our daughter at Mass. It was ridiculous. 

I scoffed. “Mommy, I don’t need a project.”

I didn’t. I was young, had a job I loved and was good at, and a career fairly firmly in front of me. I wasn’t (hadn’t ever really) dating anyone seriously, I was pretty sure I was never going to have kids because of my career, and I knew exactly what I wanted my life to look like.

I fell in love with you, and Eva. I decided that making a life with you was a project I definitely wanted. And my life looks absolutely nothing like I thought it would.

You are, without a doubt, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. 


You love me, even when I’m cranky. You love our children, even when they’re impossible. You love our marriage, even when it’s probably not the easiest or most glamorous thing ever.

(Like all the days in which I don’t get out of leggings.)

(Like all the days that end in y.)

You’ve given me a better life than skinny Kathleen could have imagined in 2011. You’ve given me not only my dream house, a completely amazing living, and the safety from student loan collectors, but you’ve given me my children.  My children. They are my very heart, and I wouldn’t have them without you. 


You’ve been here for me through everything. You held my hand (and my legs) while I had our baby. You held me afterwards when I sobbed and sobbed and just wanted life To be good again. You made sure I got better. 

You’ve given up everything for us. You make every effort to put my feelings and our union above everything else. You moved for me. You let me put your office in a closet. 

You are a good man. You are kind, and wonderful. Your devotion to the sacraments and the church makes me want to be a better woman. You are an example to our children in a way that so many children don’t get to have.

You lay down your life for us every day. I am so lucky that I get to spend another year doing the same for you.

Happy birthday, honey. I love you so much. Thank you for everything. 

Love, 

Kathleen 

The Best Laid (Lent) Plans- For You!

So last time I talked about what we’re doing as a family (specifically a homeschooling family) for Lent this year. Today I want to talk about what I’m doing as a real live actual adult person to make sure that when I get to Easter, it’s not just shoving the kids across the finish line. They can’t get anything from me if I don’t have anything to give them spiritually.

(They suck everything else dry. Might as well go with spirituality too.)

I’m pretty basic about my Lenten practices now as a mom. I stick to the three big things that the Church recommends- prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

I don’t want to spend any time writing about what I’m fasting from, because that’s not important and it bugs me when people are like “Well I’m giving up chocolate and alcohol…”* as though that was the important part. It’s not. The important part is that you fast from SOMETHING.

*It’s not chocolate or alcohol. I’d also have to fast from motherhood then and I’m pretty sure that’s not what God wants from me right now.

Fasting allows us to realize the earthly limits of our bodies and desires and turns us closer to God in a way that anything other than denial can’t. So it’s a pretty important part of anyone’s Lent, I think.


I try to ramp up my prayer life during Lent. I make an effort to go to Adoration more frequently, and daily Mass whenever I can. This year I’m continuing with my Bible/Catechism reading plan every day, and I’ve started reading the Ratzinger Jesus of Nazareth book that deals with Holy Week for my good-for-me reading. I’m also following Lent and Easter Wisdom from John Paul II because it’s super short and easy and a nice way to start the day.


I loved using the Magnificat Advent app, so I downloaded the Lenten companion as well. Like in Advent, I don’t follow everything in there, but I make it a point to read the reflections each day, as well as the evening prayer.

So much (all) of my prayer life is focused on morning before the day gets going and people need me for everything. I realized I didn’t have anything spiritual at night, except for the odd nights when my husband and I say a rosary together. So we’ve started doing that every night and I’m committed to the evening prayer from Magnificat.

Almsgiving is also a pretty personal thing I think, but something that we’ve done in the past is staying home from restaurants or allotting a portion of our budget that would normally be for something else for a charity. (In our case, I like to support local pro-life centers that help with postpartum care and adoption assistance.) Usually this practice inherently involves fasting as well, since you’re probably giving something up to have extra money to donate to charity.

I do think it’s important to talk about it with your kids and your close friends to get ideas about new ways to share your treasure, and it’s super nice to  have any opportunity to explain how blessed we are to my kids, who today told me they “COULD NOT LIVE” without tablets.

That made me want to drop them in the middle of the dessert and explain to them how the vast majority of the world’s population lives. It’s not all My Little Pony and Rescue Bots, guys.