Monday, February 17, 2014

Just Trying to Live Life Again

I really, really hope this blog post doesn't end up being just an "update," thereby rendering this blog pointless and virtually dead. Believe me, I have many subjects I'd like to write about. But the thing is, our family is just trying to live life again.

What do I mean by that? If you're out of the loop, you could check out the blog post that was written before this one. Looking back, though, that blog post was written in a much too light-and-breezy fashion. It should have read that we've been through hell and have lived to tell about it.

-We have survived the death of two parents, with one death akin to being hit by a Mack truck.
-We have survived my mother's 4000 square foot home burning down after she died. (That is a blog post of its own and was such a life-changing event I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get over it.)
-We have survived my son's school closing and we are now (gag) homeschooling. (As I write, my son is copying out numbers 101, 102, and 103 of the catechism because he acted like a little sh*t at mass this weekend, although he doesn't know that's why he's doing it. He just thinks it's his daily copy work. Ha!)
-We have survived my husband retiring from a 25-year career and looking for another job, which he has found.
-We have survived moving into what is a small version of my dream home. We did that one month before Christmas, which caused much stress, and which continues to stress us out (in a very good way) as we continue to get settled, redecorate, and at the current time, live with our whole kitchen ripped out due to a kitchen remodel that was necessitated by a few mice.
-We have survived a few other things which shall not be discussed, and that I'd llllluuuuuuuuvvvvv to blog about, but won't.

Our life has moved at such a fast pace, crisis-to-crisis, that I often reflect upon the fact that I (and we) haven't had the proper time to mourn any and all of the above. We've just had to keep moving. I am wise enough to see that being in constant motion has its pluses, yet knowing that at some point there will be a pause, and wondering if that's when I get to stop and breathe, and when I do, will I fall apart?

In the meantime, I am occupied with constantly trying new approaches in order to make homeschooling work. Or driving around Milwaukee looking at so many ugly/boring griege-colored floor and tile samples that I want to puke, whilst also repeatedly telling sales people that really - no really - I HATE and DESPISE granite so please stop trying to talk me into it. Or searching for a new, closer parish that doesn't sing "Happy Birthday" during mass (happened this weekend), or the entire congregation clapping after the priest's homily (happened last weekend and we can tell they do it every week), or refusing to pass the basket around, instead opting for everyone just walking up to the altar to put their contributions in that way (happened at what would be our new local neighborhood church that we won't be attending.)

I blame all of this on Mary. Yes, you heard me right. If you go back a few blog posts, you'll recall that I have an amazing, supernatural story to tell. I just don't know how to tell it in a way that has the intended affect. And also knowing there are some unwelcome naysayers who read this blog who will just laugh. But we know the truth. We know that everything that has happened to us, and I mean everything, has been a fantastic blessing - even if we didn't see it at the time it was happening.

As I sit here at this computer, I look out windows where most of what I see is trees and nature and copious birds eating at our birdfeeders. When spring comes, our yard and the immediate environment will be a paradise.

As I sit here at this computer, I look into a beautiful living room where an exact replica of my mother's baby grand piano now sits (hers, of course, was destroyed in the fire). The walls behind it are painted a soothing gray/blue (Sherwin Williams "Comfort Gray") and they are covered in beautiful art work, some of which was recovered from the fire and restored. My mother's spirit is all around me.

As I sit here at this computer, my son is here with me - driving me nuts, which means life is actually normal on some level. My husband is also here, blessed with a flexible schedule, which means we can look out these windows together, sharing our morning cup of tea with one another in front of a fire, looking through bird guides, deciphering who our feathered visitors are.

As I sit here at this computer, I see the many blessings that have come as a result of the flames. We are blessed and grateful. Praise be to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

And never underestimate Mary.


  1. You've been through so much...what does scripture say....through the Refiner's fire 1 Peter 1:7 and I can "hear" the transformation.

    I want to hear more.

  2. It's so nice to hear from you again! I hate granite too:)

  3. Oh Char, it's so good to hear from you. Thanks for the update. Hope we'll get to hear more. You've been in our prayers, truly. Hopefully things will calm down now.

  4. Always nice to see a blog post from you pop up in my feeder!

  5. I've been praying for you because of your mom- in the Byzantine rite- we always say 'eternal memory' when someone dies- appropriate because you will always remember her and also 'in the company of the saints' she will be praying for her loved ones on earth forever

  6. Oh I can't wait to hear your amazing, supernatural story! I'm so glad to read this post, and I hope you'll be able to blog regularly again.

  7. Oh, that anonymous was me, Caroline Landon!

  8. Nice to hear your voice again. I look forward to hearing what Mary's been up to with you...besides what you've told us!

  9. I've missed you! I wanted to contact you many times but I figured you must have been working some stuff out and I should just let you be but keep praying for you. Nothing ever happens by halves in your life, does it?! Prayers continue for all.

  10. It's good to hear Char's voice again!

  11. Very good to receive an update and glad there are some positives in the mix!

  12. Wow - I'm really glad you're back since I hate most of the Catholic blogs I read because they seem to only be about how great homeschooling is and how wonderful their parish is and blah blah blah.

    I would really love to hear more about your homeschooling efforts since we're starting that next year. If I dared I'd start a blog laying out all of my issues with the Catholic homeschooling world but then I'd offend everyone and no one would talk to me again. IMHO, homeschooling is kind of a wartime thing. It's not ideal and is just something many of us have to do because things are so messed up today. In fact, if you read some of the papal encyclicals about education, it's not even really all that Catholic since it's so individualistic. Plus there is the whole thing with SAHMs trying to justify their decision to stay home and only mommy can possibly teach their special little snowflake (who is either gifted or has special needs; is gluten intolerant or allergic to nuts or whatever). Back in the day, Sister did just fine with 50 kids in the class all using the same curriculum. And Sister had probably never heard of Charlotte Mason or Rudolph Steiner. And no internet for her to cause her to freak out about curriculum and I must buy that brand new curriculum that so and so is using or my child will never read/master multiplication/whatever!

  13. Anna,
    You KNOW that I'm going to blog about homeschooling. Of course! : )

  14. Glad to see you blogging again, Char.

    Anna, I wish someone would write such a blog. I was homeschooled K-12 and I remember reading papal encyclicals and the lives of the saints in high school and wondering how the heck homeschooling fit with Traditional Catholicism. I still haven't figured it out. I can certainly understand why some Catholics homeschool, but I cannot understand why so many orthodox Catholics seem to assume that homeschooling is the default for Catholics.

  15. Alice, here's my theory. American Catholicism is thoroughly protestantized; from the liberals to the conservatives, and even trad, side of the spectrum. So we've internalized the individualist poison and think we'll go our own way with our little family doing whatever we want to do.

    What I find telling is that the SSPX isn't that supportive of homeschooling. Many trads homeschool by necessity but the SSPX's model is a traditional school. One of the little SSPX skirmishes I've observed online is between the homeschoolers and the mainstream SSPXers who think the homeschoolers should support the SSPX schools. Bishop Williamson (who is a loon but because he is extremely intelligent and well educated has many worthwhile things to say) has said that boys should be sent away to a boy's school because the home is too feminized (I'm paraphrasing him because I can't remember where I read this). I think he's on to something here.

    Within the SSPX the homeschoolers versus the schoolers conflict seems to be really a conflict between the Americans and the Europeans so basically it's about individualism.

    The most telling thing for me is the answer to the question "if the perfect Catholic school was right down the street would you send your children to it or continue homeschooling?" If your answer to that question is to continue homeschooling, then there is a problem, IMHO. (of course this is hypothetical since there are very few "perfect" Catholic schools in this country)

    I also believe that if we pooled all of the resources devoted to homeschooling (money and time) together, we could create schools that would continue to the next generation. I'm not naive enough to believe that this is actually feasible right now but I make the point because I believe homeschooling is incredibly inefficient.

    My main beef is not with moms who choose to homeschool but with the proponents of Catholic homeschooling. Most of whom are men (relevant since it means they aren't the ones doing the actual work of homeschooling) and many of whom have some kind of vested interest in the system (either financial or philosophical). They're out there pushing the idea that you *have* to homeschool if you want your kids to go to heaven and the great lie that homeschooled kids are always better educated than PS kids. When the reality is (and I've seen it in real life) that with each additional kid in the family the educational level declines. And what ticks me off the most is that after the sale is made (mom pulls the kids out of school), the homeschool pushers have moved onto another target and mom is left all alone. The victims here being the kids who are receiving a substandard education and the moms who burnout.

    Now that was a rant wasn't it? You'd catch the irony if you could see the other tabs I have open; Charlotte Mason's Volume 1 from Ambleside Online, Angelicum's bookstore, the Well Trained Mind Forum and the 4Real Forum.

    1. I should probably clarify that I'm not an SSPXer or even a traditional Catholic. They fascinate me but I know I could never be accepted in one of their chapels. And I quoted Bishop Williamson because I think he's brilliant not because I'm one of his followers. The man is truly crazy but way smarter than a lot of saner people so very interesting.

      And for anyone who shares my fascination with the hardcore traditional Catholics, here is a link to a very interesting series of podcasts by a guy who moved his family out to Post Falls, ID and discovered it wasn't the utopia he imagined it would be. He addresses the SSPX culture there and their schools.

    2. I didn't think you were a Traditionalist and I'm not surprised in the least that your ranting about Catholic homeschooling while planning your own homeschool for next year. I think it's fairly normal.

      We were Traditionalists by the time I was high school age, so I am well aware that Traditionalists aren't that keen on homeschooling unless they're running a homeschool program. Our priest used to preach about it. He'd say that parents have the natural right to educate their children and the Church has the supernatural right, so when we have Catholic schools taught by priests and sisters, we had to stop homeschooling and send our children. Unfortunately he did not insist that parents actually look into the local Catholic schools, so we believed that all Catholic schools taught heresy and taught kindergartners how to have sex, when that was far from the truth.

      I do wish someone would study the adults that were homeschooled. Some of us are in our thirties and even beyond, so parental consent is no longer an issue. Are we really as well-educated as we are supposed to be? Are we faith-filled leaders, ready to take our culture back? My experience would say no, but perhaps it's because I don't know enough people.