I don't have a good handle on how to start this post. It's like trying to stuff a queen size pillow into a coke bottle. Part of the problem is that I do not want to be overly dramatic and yet I do not wish to understate what the Lord has done for us. The best way today, I suppose, is just to dive in and be brief...
We have pulled our highly talented and successful athletic children out of all team sports... and we are recommitting our time, talent, and treasure to the Lord.
Yes. That about sums it up. But it's that pillow in the bottle thing again. That statement encompasses so many months of prayer and discernment, tears, confusion, rejoicing, discovering, dreaming, worrying... I just don't know how to cover it all adequately. It was something like delivering a baby. Painful, but rather worth it. I will just tell you one thing...
When God wants to do great work in the family, the family has to make room. We made room and now we are in an uncomfortable, yet exciting, period of rediscovery. It is time to uncover God's greater plans, not because athletics aren't a good thing when properly used, but because they were preventing us from being open to something better.
We are definitely fumbling around a bit. Wandering. Growing. Spending much more time at home while we wait for God's plan to unfold a bit. We have been dabbling a little in music and expanding our involvement in pro-life work. There is a lot to say but again, it's almost too much to speak to yet.
Here's to new beginnings. Thanks be to God!
UPDATE: When we opened our hearts and honestly looked to doing God's will, He made sure the way was clear for us. Doors that he wanted closed, He slammed closed. Doors He wanted opened were not only opened, but decorated with flowers and strawberries and rainbows (metaphorically, of course). He is not silent. We are usually just not listening. I'm not saying this wasn't painful. and that's another thing.... doing the right and good thing doesn't necessarily feel great in an emotional kind of way. I think we get confused by associating the two ideas too closely. We think that doing God's will is always supposed to make us feel good. We had to revisit the crucifix many times to remind ourselves that a suffering love isn't always what we wish it would be, humanly speaking. What I am saying is that the path was made clear. And in spite of the real heartache, we knew it was the right thing.
I recently ordered and received a copy of High School of Your Dreams and consider it an excellent purchase. I had postponed buying this because of the price (as I often do with CHC products). Fantastic products but really difficult to budget for, especially when I can't see before purchasing. I've been searching for a used copy and finally found one in unused condition.
The program definitely provides what I need which is clear, basic directions on the how-to's of homeschool high school education. How do I count credits while still maintaining our flexible style of learning? Can a student graduate early? This kind of information is available for free all over the internet and through various books but High School of Your Dreams offers a simple, flexible and thoroughly Catholic approach.
We had already decided that we wanted to continue to use a flexible eclectic approach and that we would not enroll in a program with Seton, MODG or similar programs. But how to do it in a way that pleases a college admissions board? My anxiety level went from THIS to this in about 45 minutes.
We began planning right away and Professor is heavily involved and very excited. I highly recommend this book for those of you who are a newbie like I am, looking to maintain a flexible approach, and unsure where to start. It covers non-college bound, college bound and vocational options which makes it valuable for any student regardless of life goals. Now that I have a good base of knowledge, I have enjoyed browsing additional online resources without the previous anxiety.
Home School of Your Dreams isn't perfect - you will still need to consult a wide variety of sources while you plan and build - but if you are looking for solid guidance I'd definitely recommend buying or borrowing this program. Full price is hard to swallow... start looking now for a used copy.
Update: One of the reasons that I have difficulty with this book at full price is because the included forms (which I love) are not currently available for printing... only photocopying. This produces a not-quite-professional result (on my copier anyway). For the price, I would expect forms that I can actually use for permanent, professional record-keeping. I am hopeful that CHC will provide the PDF files for those who purchase the book in the future. (I did drop a bee in their bonnet about that one so I'm hopeful!)
One of the first essential questions when beginning high school planning is that of a student's long term goals. The planning of details such as courses and credits depends upon knowing a little about what a student would like to do after high school graduation.
Professor has a strong interest in attending college and is already specifically attracted to ChristendomCollege. He has researched credit and course requirements, minimum test scores and scholarship opportunities and that information is guiding our high school planning. For example, we know that tuition is high and that a couple years at the local community college and a job might be necessary first in order to afford it. If Professor would like to attend for all four years, he needs to explore scholarship opportunities. For Christendom, this can be achieved with excellent SAT scores... which means that Professor is suddenly very interested in adding test prep to his high school coursework.
We will be exploring multiple colleges in the next few years but Christendom has Professor's singular attention right now. Why? Explore the Christendom College website to find out why he's so taken with it. Here's the first of nine parts to Christendom's "Breathe Catholic" video...
How much does it cost to achieve a quality homeschool high school education? It appears that the somewhat unsatisfying answer is: A great deal, not much at all, and anything in between. Enrolling in Seton or Mother of Divine Grace starts at about $700 and can roll into the thousands depending on the courses and services that are required. Online courses can be free but usually aren't. Homeschool Connections is a wonderful resource for Catholics with costs running anywhere from $70 to $200 per live course with a $30 per month archive option. The library is free, of course. YouTube is free. Free takes more work but may be worth it if a family is pinching pennies to save for college. Finding excellent used books is very do-able and the topic really deserves it's own post.
We recently picked up a free audio course called Seven Myths about the Catholic Church and Science from Catholic Courses. They are currently running an offer for receiving a free MP3 audio course (your choice) if you are a first time customer. I don't know how long the offer lasts but it is worth jumping on since it is a $29 value. Professor already has it loaded into his ipod.
Other favorite free resources we have enjoyed are Kahn Academy (we use it for Math only) and select products from The Great Courses that we order from the library or have been given as gifts. Not all their products are recommended... do your homework to find out if the particular professors share your worldview on important topics. Professor loves the music courses taught by Professor Robert Greenberg, who is not Catholic but has vast knowledge and true appreciation for the Church's contribution to culture and music.
Professor at USA Junior Nationals
As a result of the completely insane emphasis on athletics in our sports-centric culture, the opportunities for high school sports for homeschoolers are extensive. I confess... we are a sports-lovin' family. We occasionally become temporarily insane about it but are doing our best to retain our family and individual identities while still competing. As high school approaches, the opportunities are opening up before us and we can see that truly, if there is a will there is a way. Think Tim Tebow.
Our kids play CYO and they play club sports. Most sports have club opportunities. Professor competes in a sport (boys' volleyball) that is less popular in our area of the country but he still being scouted by a couple area high schools (only a handful have teams). One is an all-boys Catholic high school whose varsity team won the state championship last year. The coach is very eager to work with us to have Professor play for them while still remaining a home-educated student. We're not sure what that means but assume it means taking a class or two. He also has an area public school coach interested in having him play. We do not live in that city but since our city public school does not have a boys' team, we can play wherever we are welcome.
When discussing sports and college, we try to never use the words "athletic" and "scholarship" in the same sentence. Sports have a place... and it isn't first. On my particularly lucid days, I would love to just dump youth sports all together and play whiffle ball in the front yard for fun and exercise.
I'm not sold on prom. I've written my opinion before. However, if someone in my area would put together a prom like this one, I would be very happy to participate. Delighted, in fact. You must check out St. Monica's Ball; so beautifully Catholic. Dress code (with photo examples of beautiful but modest gowns). Behavior Code. Even how-to videos on dancing and formal manners! FUN! Talk about dynamic orthodoxy! :)
I am clueless about this. Is it really only two years away? Is that when the rest of my hair will go gray? Well, at least I will have someone to go on emergency milk runs.
Success is a funny word when it comes to education. To define what success is we must define what the goal is. Some people do believe that the proof of the success of homeschooling lies in the test scores because the numbers are the goal. For most home educators, test scores are simply a key to open certain doors... not an absolute measure of success.
As I approach the final lap of my academic journey with my oldest child, I can say (and believe with all my heart) that all I really want for this kid is eternal happiness. As exciting as it is to see him excel athletically and academically, I would trade all those proud parental moments to know that he is at peace with God's will.
Something strange has happened to my teenager. The Professor (who will be 14 very soon) has become passionately interested in music. Classical music. Sacred music. And... opera. No kidding. He says to me yesterday: "I used to hate opera but now I see that it is one of the highest form of musical expression." *my jaw hits the floor* He is also completely captivated by the Dies Irae and is intent on memorizing it.
Full disclosure: When he talks about music, I usually have only the vaguest idea of what he's talking about. I have a great appreciation for these types of music but I am not very knowledgeable about the topic. He has discovered this interest on his own and is pursuing it on his own. We just support him.
Speaking of music and particularly the Dies Irae... I saw this post at A Reluctant Sinner and had to share. The author was privileged to participate in an All Souls' Mass set to Mozart's Requiem and said, "This evening witnessed one of the most profound moments of my entire life. I beheld, in an immediate and very real way, the height of human civilization." I can't wait to show the Professor. Read more HERE.
People steal stuff. People cheat. I know these things. It is why I write names and memos on everything from clothing to volleyballs. But it is still surprising somewhat when it happens. Perhaps because I am accustomed to hanging around honest people.
Yesterday, the Chief and I played in our beach volleyball playoffs. I watched the referee cheat. He pretended to turn the score on a number of occasions; ruffled the floppy plastic a bit before leaving it just as it was. He intentionally made bad calls to move the games along. It was just a little thing. It's just a game after all. But it was still disturbing. It stuck in my mind and I regretted that so many adult activities are full of cheating and profanity and excessive use of alcohol. People behave poorly and disrespect themselves and others... and leave me happy, happy, happy to be returning home. Kind of like life on the whole I suppose; and as much as I love my life, I will be happy, happy, happy to go home when it is my time.
Have you seen the latest rage among crafty folks? T-shirt yarn. I admit being a bit captivated myself. As soon as I get a free moment (so it might be a while) I'm going to dig out some t-shirts to cut up. Don't even ask me what I'm planning to do with it yet. One step at a time, you know?
Anyone with a fireplace or wood stove knows the value of fire-starters. Instead of purchasing expensive starters or fat wood sticks, we're going to be making our own using items we already have around the house. There are a few versions out there but they generally all involve wax, lint or dust, and some sort of cardboard. I haven't decided which we are going to try this season (maybe multiples) but like this video tutorial... Green Fire-Starters
Club volleyball try-outs have now concluded and one thing is very clear: there is nothing easy about youth sports. Gone are the days when talented kids can play just for the enjoyment of it. We have talented children who can play on the teams of their choice, but even choosing a team becomes a complex game as parents wait to find out who signed a contract with which team. Coaches wait to find out if their team this year will be nationally competitive or if it will be a developmental "growing year". The phone rings frequently and texts fly. Talent starts to gravitate in one direction or another and suddenly - again - we are looking at our talented young daughter and wondering at what price success aught to be purchased.
"Take your time," the coach says. "Even if we fill up our roster, we will make space for your daughter to play on this team." Actually, we have only three days left to decide.
Practice on Sundays? Well, it's no worse than CYO. An out-of-state tournament over Easter break? Outrageous. What will we do? She wants to play. And she is talented. I do believe these questions will only get more challenging over time. And it isn't just this sport. We had a swimmer ranked in the top 5 in the nation in multiple events. We quit cold turkey, determined that sport would not destroy faith and family. And our family healed, thanks be to God! St. Sebastian, pray for us!
To my kids:
I pray you always remember the final goal. Don't forget that there will always be someone faster than you. Always someone stronger. Always someone who can jump higher. There will be times when you lose because someone cheats; when you lose because someone on your team gives up; when you lose because you just didn't give your best; or because of injury. There will be times when people hate you for your success and times when they will attempt to hurt you because of it... you have felt that sting. You know. There will be times when you give everything you have and it will not be enough. And times when people give you too much credit, too much attention and praise... and you will be tempted to forget to Whom proper gratitude is due.
Remember the lessons of the pool: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?" ~ Mark 8:36
Do not forget the final goal. Pursue goodness. Pursue truth. Pursue beauty. There are millions of other people pursuing success in your sport. If fighting for success costs you permanent things, then let those people have success. And let it go. It is fleeting... and you will never regret the prize you have gained in its place.
My name is Melody... homeschooling mama of 8 (plus one in the arms of Jesus). Married 19 years to Mr. Right. Every moment is Grace and my Joy is God's Mercy. This is my place to seek His Beauty, give witness to Hope, and eat a good helping of Humble Pie.
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