Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Try, Yes

I know that how I feel about myself is probably shallow thing to spend much time on. I mean, there are lost, abused, hungry children to worry about. This video made me choke up, though, and I'm sharing it. Never heard of her before she showed up in my Facebook newsfeed, but will keep an eye (and ear) out for more.




Love, Allison

Monday, July 14, 2014

Catholic Hippy Homeschool


Note: I use the word “hippy” loosely; that is, while I am distrustful of government, buck current sexual norms (by embracing traditional gender roles!), and like to eat close to the earth, I am not presently nor have I ever engaged in promiscuity or illegal drugs. OK, then; let’s have a little fun with this!
1. We spend a lot of time outside: yard gaming in the grass, fighting, exploring, and magical games in the woods; coaxing vegetables out of the garden; and caring for the hobby farm animals. We turn this into language arts, science, social studies, and art by writing, researching, photographing, sketching, and labeling. We actually do make daisy chains, cook up dandelion flowers, and brew spruce tea. We are flower children.
animals 0032. When the weather pushes us inside (excepting farm chores), we build stuff like classic forts, train tracks, lego creatures, and obstacle courses. And books, books, books. The most encouraging thing I have ever heard in fifteen years of homeschooling is this: A curious mother and a library card can give a child an excellenteducation. I make sure to have great books here, from board books to picture books to novels to textbooks (most titles found in the appendices of programs far too tightly ordered for me!) so that whatever strikes their interest will be excellently fed. It’s a beautiful bag.
3. We rap about culture, politics, and religion regularly. We explain, draw charts, and break out the catechism and Bible to read. Our Holy Faith is reasonable and touches every aspect of life while bathing our hearts and minds in the tempering love of Christ. So we can discuss a certain law or program or news story or homily with all the volume and hand-waving my Irish roots revel in; and in the same conversation bring it back to How Should We Then Live? (usually thanks to my quieter husband). Right-on activism.
4. We love the earth (see #1). We are masters at recycling and reusing out of financial and space-necessity. Any plastic container gets washed and joins the ranks of Ken’s camping supplies; any cardboard becomes a fort or art project (see #2); our backyard animals provide milk and meat and their pens provide fertilizer for the field and garden. Stroller walks always amass trash that the children collect and discard and our cars and clothing are someone else’s cast-offs. Love, baby.
100_22185. Even our mathematics is laissez-faire. We keep half a dozen programs here that they float among (Singapore, Teaching Textbooks, Life of Fred, Oak Meadow, Dragon Box, and Khan online) and enough buckets of manipulatives to ruin a week’s worth of midnight bathroom visits. If someone is having a particularly tough time, they’re dispatched to help a toddler build with Cuisenaire rods or design with pattern blocks. Peace, man.

The delightful Elizabeth Foss wrote that “We are educated by our intimacies” and this is our way of helping our children (and who am I kidding, us parents, as well!) be intimate with God’s creation ~ the earth, the family, the Faith ~ in our own Catholic hippy groove.
“Far more important, my dear Catholics, is not what we are going to do but who we are to become: that we become men and women of God and saints of God, the presence of Christ in this world. That is the object of education: who we become.” Bishop Carl Mengeling in The Catholic Homeschool Companion.
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(Also published at Catholic Sistas today.)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mud Run

So the whole family drove into Anchorage for the Mud Run on Saturday and we all had a wonderful time. Joseph, Addie, and I did not participate, just commuted among the bubble table, the hot dog grill, and the finish line.

I have no idea why she wanted to shed her dress and play only in bloomers. It's a toddler thing.



The weather was perfect, 70 degrees and windy, which meant that I kept my hoody on and sunburned my face. Ken ran the 2K mini-muddy with the younger kids, first time they'd done anything like it before (formal, that is; they run and jump and climb and crawl through mud daily). I wasn't sure if they would get weird and pout and walk back to the park, but as the minutes ticked by, I was pretty sure they were staying the course (designed by Ken, BTW!). We were waiting at exactly the right time to see Luke, then Ian, then Clare (and Ken) slog through the Skinny Raven arch ~ beaming! I was so happy they not only did it, but loved it, I was choked up.




Then Ken (again), Rees, and John gathered for the adult 5K. No problem there. Those three do mud all the time (and mountains and alders and boulder fields and ...).
John, always the coolest.



Rees, the muddiest.




Ken ran with a backpack. Because Ken.

I'm glad to help build that playground for ACMHS. Good things happen one ticket, one T shirt, one donation at a time by regular people.

Since I was milling around with two cute toddlers, a rottweiler, and a pit bull, I met all kinds of interested bystanders, security personnel, and volunteers: from agency folks tickled to meet Ken's family to strangers commenting on the Howell circus. One friendly lady told me that she budgets for the summer charity run circuit and signs up for as many as she can afford, knowing that the local causes are grateful for community-love. Everyone wins. Now I'm smitten and want to do this, too, adding a few family runs in between camping trips. Only if the weather's perfect, though. I'm not ambitious about it; just after some sort of social, outdoor feng shui thing that I just made up.

Here's to good health (especially Rees and Addie), good communities, and good familes ~ let's find out where to help. And here is the (very long) list of Alaska runs that I'm going to pore through and pick a few for us.

Have a great day, friends,
Love, Allison

PS ~ I see that I have pictures of everyone but Joseph. He was probably hanging out by the hot dog grill, pretending that he hadn't already eaten two.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Clare's Harry Potter Post


Every single book read; now time to enjoy the films!

I Finished All The Harry Potter Books!!!!!!!!!

Every single one! I'm sooo excited! Despite all the bad things said about them, my mum and I love them! She read the first one with me, and then I read all the rest by myself, telling her all about what was happening and all the good points.
We really like the definition of Horcruxes, which is that murder rips your soul apart (Christ is killed in us when we do mortal sin). Then you can put the piece of soul in whatever container you have chosen to be the Horcrux. And if you change you mind, the only way to put you soul back together is remorse, and you have to truly feel what you have done for it to be fixed (confession).
And there's a pro life line, too! 'Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.' Said by Kingsley, a member of the Order of the Phoenix.
There's also a lot of self sacrifice, and when Draco Malfoy was told by Voldemort to kill Dumbledore (who was going to die anyway from an injury), Snape told Dumbledore that he would kill Dumbledore, so Malfoy, who was only 16 at the time, would not have a ruined soul. That's probably the only thing my mum and I found wrong in the books, because Snape shouldn't have killed anyone anyway. But his heart was in the right place, I guess. That's what my mom said. Here's some good websites About the books and movies (warning: some may have spoilers):

https://www.pottermore.com/en-us

http://www.mugglenet.com/

http://www.the-leaky-cauldron.org/

And then when I finished I took a ton of quizzes, so here are my results:
Great. The house that gets most of the bad guys.



Oh crap. I got the bad guy. I don't think I'm EVER going to live this down.



Disgusted, I did the quiz again and got this, which fits a ton better.



What my Patronus would be.



Then I did this one, which fits me very much as well (sorry it's so small, click and you can read it easier).





What type of wand I would have.


And I got a mean (ish) character AGAIN.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Celebrating Twenty-four Years


(First posted on Catholic Sistas)

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. Allow me to share some of our story!
We met at the Evangelical Covenant Church of Riverside, RI when I was 19 and Ken was 21. We had both attended this church as teenagers, moved away due to college and military service, then returned. Since I was then commuting locally and Ken’s ship was in port, we were in church together.
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We jumped back into youth activities as helpers, which was a good excuse to continue to hang out with the youth group and our beloved youth pastor and wife. We double-dated (not each other; we each had other dates!) until all the other dates fizzled and it was just us. We poked all around southeastern New England together, from restaurants, beach grills, and concerts to hiking trails, rappelling mountains, and sledding hills. Motorcycle rides, too! For my twentieth birthday, he cooked dinner, complete with candles, music, and rooftop dancing. We had the Serious Relationship Talk. Six months later, he proposed–while we were canoeing, of course. It was tricky to properly cry and laugh and shriek YES! in a tipsy canoe but I somehow managed.
Our wedding was perfect and wholly a gift of our church. One lady made my gown; one gentleman took the photographs; one lady asked me what I wanted for the reception and it magically appeared in the church gymnasium. When we met with the music director and told him we wanted a congregational hymn, All Creatures of Our God and King, he told us that he’d previously written a bridal procession using Lasst uns erfreuen (the tune to that song) and were we were interested in hearing it? It was grand and beautiful and we did indeed use it.
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We were told that we were too young, too uneducated, too poor, t00 you-name-it to get married. That we should “see the world” before settling down. But we had no intention of settling down! After our honeymoon weekend on Cape Cod, we took off with $1,500 and our loaded-down Renault across the U.S. and Canada, all the way to Alaska just for fun. (We moved to and from the Last Frontier a few times but that’s another story.). We stopped to visit and hike such places as Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands, Grand Teton, Banff, and Liard Hot Springs. Niagara Falls’ spray completely ruined my makeup. We marveled at the spider web of traffic around Chicago and the endless wheat fields of Saskatchewan. I thought we were going to be poisoned and die from Yellowstone’s mosquitoes. On more than one occasion, Ken had to bungee my backpack onto his because my (whine, whine) shoulders hurt.
So we began our marriage seeing the world and adventuring–together. We continue to see the world and do things a little differently, but always adventurously, and sometimes rebelliously. But always together.
After we were pronounced husband and wife, our pastor of many years had us kneel while he raised his hands over us and prayed these words that I now sing to our children at night:
Ken and Allison,
May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6: 24-26).
And He has. For 24 years and hopefully for 24 more and 24 more, according to His pleasure.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Animal Child's Heaven

Alaskans dig spring more than anyone else, I'm sure. I submit Clare and her creatures ~

Baby ducks, elderly dog, almost-thirteen-year-old-girl (Boring chickens in the back.). Grass, sun, popsicle perfection.



Also, she'd been training during the winter (this is difficult to write . . .) her pet rats so they appear in unexpected places, like PB&J lunches with little sisters. Clare even passed back tiny bites for them, Rizzo and Dobby if you must know.
Yes, I'm the mother who allows such shenanigans. Help.




Clare stops people with dogs at the lake with questions like, "Hey, is that a Tibetan spaniel? No, wait; it's a Shih tzu isn't it? Can I pet him?" Or, "Your German shepherd has a curly tail like a husky; is it a mix of the two?" She's usually correct.

The ducklings pictured above aren't regular ducks; oh no. That would be too easy. She read and drove us nuts about breeds and finally chose Runner ducks (Who knew they even made such a thing?).


*And now, two kids have just come racing in with enormous dandelion bouquets. They don't want me to put them in a vase; they want me to dip them in batter and deep fry them, to be served with ranch dressing. So I'm off to the kitchen to mix up the batter.*

Happy spring!
Love, Allison



Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mother's Day Movies

What's the matter with this, I ask?


For Mother's Day, Ken got me a copy of Oklahoma! and Rees got me a copy of Les Miserables (plus lots of candy and drinking containers and homemade cards). After the festivities and exclamations concluded, we were discussing what to watch first when Rees picked up Oklahoma! and asked, "So what's this one about?"

I began, "It's famous. It begins with a cowboy singing--"
"STOP!"
Rees held up his hand. "Don't say any more. I can't even ... Please watch that one when I'm at work."

I have failed as a mother. What a caveman.


I'm still thinking about this, almost a week after watching it.  Lifechanging. Thank you, dear Rees! I guess you're not quite a caveman.