Wednesday, May 25, 2011


We have a recital today with the families at the church. Starts with Mass at 6pm and then the recital. I feel so fortunate to have this opportunity, it will be the first recital for us, and we are looking forward to it. Not that we have a lot to show, but to share with fellow homeschoolers, homeschoolers that have the main beliefs of our family, is such a blessing, specially nowadays.

It is also a good time for me to review the homeschooling year, and the children, what they really need? what would be good to refresh during summer or keep working from a different angle?

Maria my oldest is so fast in doing things, in a classroom, she would probably pass unnoticed, have good marks and skip along the grades, but none would notice the huge weakness in her character if they would not ave time for individual teaching. She needs someone that pushes her to work hard, because things are easy for her, she does not do any effort, and tires soon of any assignment. That is one reason  for which we need to keep our music lessons, violin, she resists them but are tecahing her the value of persistence and work. On the other hand math is also a challenge with her, so we will be doing a lot of movement these coming months with math problems and arithmetic: jumping rope with the times tables, hopscotch with time tables, and mental math for mazes and games.

For my middle one, Rebecca, we will need to work on reading. She is somehow behind because I left her be in that dreamy child stage, that is so good for many things. Also because I focused on the first child and carried the second along, I see that some things were never taught directly to her. I am also confused about methods of teaching: the first semester we were doing a very living approach to learning and I was involved in designing the material, the second part of the semester was more of a guided curriculum set of assignments, and I found that even though the children do the lessons, there is a withdrawal from the actual learning, just as I did withdraw from the actual designing of the class. I am now wondering if I should pick up first grade this summer with this child, in the more living way.

For my boy, I do not think too much, just to keep working in boundaries and feeding him well, because with a little sugar or too much carbohydrates he skyrockets to tantrum and misbehavior land!!!!!

For me, I am thinking also to buy a big blackboard, and start drawing and printing the lessons in it, just as in the one room school they had the lessons written ever day for each grade, I would do so, before going to sleep for the next day. This will bring an added discipline effort to my life, which needs it so much.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I have been working with the children's book, quite a roller coaster...for one thing ideas were flowing last week very fast and the laying down of the stories was done. There are 12 families and a priest in the congregation, and all the names of the people of the village are assigned, so far 70 habitants! the story line of the first four books is also established:

Spring starts with Easter and focusing on the rythm for the days of the week, introducing four families.
Summer with the festivities in the community, introducing three more families.
Autumn with the harvest and the larder preparations, three more families introduced.
Winter with the rythm of one single day ending with Christmas, two last families are introduced.

The First story is already written but the problem is coming now, though, with the illustrations. I thought I would like lovely drawings, the ones that make books worth buying, but alas! I am not so good as I thought!!!!and the disappointment is clear when the result of my drawing does not match what I had in mind...there are feelings of abandoning of the project that creep to my mind every night.

But yet, I am reminded too by Saint Augustine, that beauty can also be a great temptation, if the thing we seek is beauty itself for the pleasure of the eyes. So I am humbly trying to do my best, acknowledging that these may not be the illustrations that I had envisioned for the books, but nonetheless they are telling a story, and perhaps the story and what God will do about it is more important than my artist pride.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Since our yard is limited in species we have to collect some things at our friends farms or in the forest. Nonetheless, some things we have right here in town, and the children delight in working with the plants.

For now we are collecting dandelion flowers, picking them at their young stage of flowering, preferably early in the morning, and letting them dry on a net in the storage shed. Dandelion tea would be good for the soil, sprayed in little doses, the dandelion substances will bring a proper balance between potassium and silica. The leaves of dandelion, crushed with water, are good to use for wounds.

Dandelion wine, considered a tonic for stomach and energy, is also interesting for children to do:
Gather 1 gallon Dandelion blooms, without stems, boil them with rind and juice of 4 oranges and 4 lemons in 2 gallons water for 1/2 hour. Let set 24 hours and then strain adding 8 cups sugar and 1 package of yeast. Leave in a covered crock for 2 weeks and then strain again and bottle.

We have also abundance of burdock, which we collect the seeds for a tea to alleviate rheumatism and purifying blood. We are also prepared to look for the yarrow flowers this summer, by the roadsides, which will also hang up to dry for detoxifying the soil. Its tea works for "female trouble" times and for the nerves.

The horsetail has been soaking for all winter and is ready for spraying to places where fungus are growing too much. We have also a big linden tree, which leaves we will collect for tea for colds and coughing, and the flowers for linden tea.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Leaven and "The Village Children"

The bread making this week was not successful, we tried a recipe from Nourishing Traditions, a sourdough one, and the dough did not rise neither taste good...This week we are trying again, probably with kamut flour, which we know taste delicious when a proper sourdough is achieved: my friend bakes splendid loaves with it, she must have a beautiful starter and knowledge from her ancestry Croatian roots.

Here is a link to one video that we like for encouraging the bread making:

The slow process of fermentation with the sourdough makes the bread-making more like an art, and the product is better for digestion. This happens in many things in life, where slow paced processes take precedence in quality offering: the broth making for 24 hours, the homemade mayonnaise, the soil tilling with horses for three days instead of three hours of motor tilling, the compost making from slow decomposition of cow manure during the winter, etc....if we all knew the advantages of these versus their cousins products, delivered in a fast paced industry world, we would feel cheated and will turn our eyes to the older times, at least in referring to the use of time itself!

Now that the novel is published we found an idea to make a special children's book, it would describe the life of a village, in the light of the ideas of faith and stewardship, where the children of one household will be inviting us to get to know the characters of all the people living in this farm village.

The first four books will be geared toward toddlers until 5 years old, following the seasons and having a simple line of the story; the next series will be written for the older children, where the line story gets a little more adventurous and will go in depth to know the different villagers: the neighboring family farms and their trades in this ideal landscape.

We will take ideas from the Bilbo Baggins homeland, from the Amish culture, from distributism and the Catholic faith among others.The children and families in the book will follow some ideals like homeschooling, homebirthing, etc... Let us know if you have any ideas or would like to be a part of this task. We ask for prayers and for God to guide us in this, because without Him we are nothing.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


There is the novel of Don Quijote de la Mancha that we are reading to make a musical and some short stories for the children, as the two protagonists lead their adventures. Don Quijote and Sancho Panza are a very interesting couple, one almost opposite to the other in qualities, and together they form a wonderful duet for the development of the stories.

Don Quijote, extreme idealist, figure thin and tall consummed by the ideals of pure love and chavalry; Sancho Panza, rather generous in figure as his name indicates ( Panza means belly in Spanish), and character thrown over the natural senses of the world. Both are extremes in themselves that we might carry at some point, the overindulgence of Sancho Panza brings a level of lullness and stupidity, whereas the idealist in extreme leads to madness and disconnection from the world. But both put together may bring a good deal of goodness, as the common sense balances the idealism and vice-versa.

We find the same also out of ourselves, when we find among friends and relationships, a natural coincidence in personalitites. I have seen in my life the friends that I have become closer to, they ressemble each other. because I have lived in different places, new friends have entered my life, but oddly enough, they would always have some similaritty to the first friends. So in this way we could say we always find our Sancho Panza or our Don Quijote, wherever we go.

Now when we marry, we are bound to our spouse, and this relationship comes to be a priority. Together with God they form a sacred triade not to be shaken. When a friendship other than our spouse has come too close to the triade, the dangers are many. I have seen this in my life too, as our nature tends to look for scapegoats and third persons to alleviate the hardships of life, I have always said that a friend by your side is a blessing, it makes suffering cut in half. But, it is important that this relationship with friends allows the increase for veneration of your husband, otherwise is a blessing in disguise and brings havoc.

St. Teresa of Avila warned us of this occurrence too, she said that a relationship with a fellow nun or novitiate should be increasing your own fervor of God, when that relationship increases the feelings of kindred  to each other but not of God, then it would be safe to stop. How more this could apply then to our spouses! the more a friendhip helps us kindle the love for our spouse, the better.

In this I observe too the problems of discipline among children. When my disposition is closely bounded to my husband, and my obedience prompt and loving, the children obey in a meekly way, but when I step out of this blissful marriage relationship, and start thinking like the world, in terms of myself and of my rights, then I am lost in battles with the children, disobedience and stubbornness. Sometimes the shift is rather subtle too, and the effects catch me by surprise!

Last Sunday at the Bible study a friend commented about the Amish:" Maybe the wifes are willingly submitting themselves to the bondage of the husbands for this very reason, for the example to their own children, to know how a society functions under the authority of God."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Discipline and rythm

It has been quite a transition this spring time; because of the change in rythm, and temperatures, we have been having some discipline problems, especially on Mondays when everything has to settle down again for workdays.....One of my challenges when the house is overwhelmingly untidy and the children unwilling to cooperate, is to hold my temper and not be angry. Over the years I have used many things to overcome that, but mainly two systems have defeated time: first to dissipate my anger by singing one song, if it is a daughter I sing the first one, if it is my son, I sing the second one. This allows me to calm down and redirect the bad behavior in a more objective way....

Once there was a girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead, and when she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.

Georgey Porgey, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry, when the boys came out to play, Georgey Porgey ran away.

The second thing I use nowadays is to go for a walk, take all the children out to the field or park nearby and think about the way to improve the situation for the next time.

When I do not do one of these, my discontentment escalates and I become an angry mother for the next hour, until everything is tidy and the children are obeying again. This leads me with uncomfortable remorse, because I know I should be doing it in a different way....Next time a Monday comes, I am going to call to Mary, to ask her to be by my side and help me with the chaos, and besides that I am looking into reordering my Sundays as to not loose so much of the reins over the weekend.

This is our plan for the summer weekly rythm:

Monday: Laundry day
Tuesday: Ironing day
Wednesday: Cleaning day/playdate
Thursday: Baking day/community works
Friday: Theatre camp at the park
Saturday: Farmer's market/cleaning day-cooking day
Sunday: Church/potluck/study

Another factor that increases lack of discipline is also my involvement with things other than the home, as much as I enjoy being part of groups and doings things, once I step away from homemaking duties, it seems like the children start to wander off too.

Lately we have been working in the charcoal drawing for the community meal, and even though it is great to see the little ones imitating me in something different from our routine, it is also dissipating our calm atmosphere at home. I wonder how to accomplish a balance, where there is some input from the outside but we can keep the strength of the walls of our home. Perhaps the above weekly rythm is already too loose, and it will need to be changed!

But one thing is sure for us, the better the order and rythm, the fewer discipline problems, and the less times we have to recourse to punishments or other ways for correcting behavior. I think this is also true in plain living, where the days follow like rain in a field, drop by drop in a uniform rythm.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Bread making

During May we are exloring different bread recipes, every Friday we will make a batch and try it for the week. As we knead the bread we sing the song that my children have grown accustomed to:

Maria the baker girl, she likes to knead the bread......Rebecca, the baker girl, she likes to knead the bread,....Samuel the baker boy, he likes to knead the bread. (do, fa fa fa la fa fa, la sol fa sol la fa.)

This first recipe has sorghum flour 5c, white flour 7c, yeast 2pck, warm water 4c, olive oil 1/3c, honey 2tbs, and salt 2tsp. Baked at 400 for 35 minutes.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


This drawing of Amy Carmichael was donated last year for a silent auction in town, she was famous for saving Indian children, especially girls, from being orphaned and from working as priestess in their temples. The drawing for me had a meaning also of redemption, for the children that I was miscarrying and from my longing to carry to term.

When were students, my friend Nuria and I used to fantasize about the number of children we would have. Besides the culture around us, which advocated children and family as a burden, we knew firmly that our call was to be in a big family. For her that meant 6 children, and for me I always had thought that it would be 4. Years went by, and after some time we met again. She had two children alive and miscarried three times at around six months of the pregnancy, and I had three children and miscarried many very early babies. She was dressed in black, and confessed to me being very depressed, at which I asked her if she believed in God. She acknowledged that she had lost faith in God, for various reasons and suddenly I felt my mouth speaking these words to her: " Well, Nuria, I know that God is all powerful, and if it is his will to give you a baby this next month that will not miscarry, you may have to believe again in God." We parted that day and nine months later, we met again. She had a newborn baby in her arms, she said to me, "I have been thinking about you all this time, we decided to call the baby Maria, how did you know I would have a baby, that same month you spoke of? I replied, "I did not know, I gave up your pleading to God, do you believe in Him now? She answered " No." But I knew that God was working in her life.

As for me, it has been quite a journey. If you had looked my diary when first married, you would have seen two main themes, understanding God and having babies. It seemed like an obsession at times, and my three children were conceived after 3, 6, and 9 months of frustrated trials respectively. Every time that a conception would come to term I would ponder about what did make it happen that time, and it always seemed that there was a letting go of the desire of having children, for the miracle to occur, the first time I relinquished my desire but asked for a child for the sake of my husband, the other time for the sake of my daughter, so she would not be an only child, the third time for the sake of my husband again, so he would have an herr....but after that God had me waiting not 3, 6 or 9 months, but 36 months and still counting.

During this time I have experienced many feelings, from despair to sorrow for the souls of children lost, from anger to God to awe of His wisdom, from constant anxiety to complete peace. I thought I knew what worked previosuly, so I set myself to let go of the desire again, but everybody who has experienced this knows that it does not work this way, the desire does not go away by your wanting it to go away, this is just putting another desire on top of your desire, it is something more misterious that happens in order to let go of the I prayed, I prayed that God would take the longing for children away, but it did not happen.

I thought then to use the longing for a good cause, and started to take care of other people's children at home, during two years, but it did not work, my family suffered and my heart intentions needed to be purified.

I tried everything I could, medically and otherwise, but I was tiptoeing on eggshells every month, trying not to lift weight, not to eat this or that, not to think this or was a nightmare, and then at the end I would feel guilty over any supposed mistake I had done, maybe I should not have carried the heavy bags, maybe I should not eaten spices, maybe I should not have had doubting thoughts, etc,...

The symphathy for early miscarriages is also low, people do not understand the grieving when it is not obvious at the sight, plus some people do not even consider that a soul is in the baby in the beginning, so, they say, why you mourn?

But God has so much infinite wisdom, he had read my diaries, every word of them, he knew what was my weak point and waited til the right time to put that leverage on my soul, to make me yield to his power, to bring me powerless, with no control over the things I cherished most, ( it is usually the lost of our lives or the lives of other loved ones that bring this feeling of complete surrender to God), to cut my prideful branch, and bring to my knees all my sufferings, it is in Him that I find peace. Finally this last cycle, I was able to respond to my husband when he said he was sorry for me: "It is God's will.", with an honest peaceful heart, and yielding ever more to God's ways I am rejoicing in my loss, because he is teaching me and bringing me to his hands.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Community meal

The Community Meal board has approved this image for the flyers, and is waiting for a real charcoal drawing to have also as a poster. I am excited about the prospect of helping in an enterprise like this one, and there are many questions in the back of my mind that I wanted to ponder before the day of the first meal.

One of the things that I am very glad is the anonymous character of the ministry, feeding the poor can be sometimes difficult, especially when the families that most need it do not come out and ask for help. In a community meal such this one though, nobody knows the real need that you have, for some families may be the actual material food, but for others it may just be the need for some encouraging conversation, thus everybody's needs could be meet in an anonymous way.

The question that I have is mainly how to adress the plurality of faiths in such a gathering. We know that there would be people from every path in life, and from every different religion or confession of faith. How is one to behave in such a place as to be guided by the Holy Spirit?

One thing that is noteworthy is that many people get thrown back when talked about the gospel, or even when they see that we are professing one faith, other people feel rejected or not welcomed if you have a different faith or if you disagree with the tenets of your respective different churches.

On the other hand, to erase God from the picture or even the Truths that originate a work of Mercy as such, is to be cheating, and eventually will leave the ministry dry and empty of meaning.

I juts read an excellent article by Father Alfonso Galvez, in the Latin Mass, The Journal of Catholic Culture and Tradition, Vol. 18, n3., where he talks  about Love for the Truth. He says:  " Since the first Love is God, it follows that to forget or to be ignorant of that Love is to forget or to be ignorant of God. And since God is also supreme Truth, the absence of God leads in the same way to being deprived of truth.....Like everything that is the product of Kingdom of Lies, the only place that these paths will bring man is to perdition. the Truth alone, which is what shows man the path of holiness, is the only thing that can lead to the fullness of the new man. The truth is the only thing that can set man free (Jn 8:32) and bring him to holiness. That was what our Lord prayed would be given His disciples when He said, in His farewell address, Father, sanctify them in the Truth (Jn 17:17).

I do not view this Community Meal as an ecumenical gathering of some sorts, which would not be charitable after all, but yet, how you bring Truth without offending? How you bring Truth with Love? How you bring the real Charity?

I know that for example, the Anabaptists do not have any zeal in converting people, or saving the souls of their English neighbors. I think they have their eyes focused in teaching their family in the faith and in this way they are expanding very efficiently. They are also big in leading by example, and using silence as a means of disaccord between two parties, which in the extreme cases leads to the famous shunning.

Now in a Community Meal such as the one that will happen, how is one to behave? should be good in this case to observe strict silence of one's faith and just show example by actions, e.g. showing genuine interest in the people, dressing appropiately, leading one's family as is observed in one's faith but not speaking about it unless asked directly?

Or would that be a coward sign of weakness, a betrayal of Truth?

After thinking it over it dawned to me that it may be different for every person we encounter. Just like with a gift, if we really want to give something to the person that is of their liking we must first empty ourselves of our own preferences and likings, so it is the same in  this case, by emptying ourselves of our own selves, we can allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in conversations and actions, and give to each one what is best, for some might be talking about the weather, for some might be talking about God, for some might be a smile or a tending hand. I will pray those days especially for this, so that God can work through us, and Mary can be by our side.