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Today is the Feast of the Annunciation

 

How about a free e-book about Mary?

 

 

 

My book Mary and the Christian Life, has been out of print for a couple of years, so I am offering a .pdf file of the text at no cost to anyone interested.

 

Go to this page and click on the link to download!

 

 

 

Amy Welborn

I have sent my children to Catholic schools and public schools.  Right now, the children who live with me are homeschooled.  At some time in the future there might be institutional school again.  Who knows.  At this moment, there is Roadschooling.

What I don’t understand  - at all – is the rather mindless celebration of government-designed institutional schooling as the be all and end all. As the definition of education.  I don’t get it, especially when it emanates from those leaning left, who, you would think, would be all anti-institutional and suspect of authority and all.  Guess not. Huh.

Plus, who believes that? Who thinks that? Anyone? Even a public school teacher? No. We all know that school (can) serve a function, but is not the definition of “education.”

My 7th grader (or so – I should say, 12-year old) is reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  I was amused by Lee’s skeptical take on institutional schooling.  Funny how you find skeptical takes on institutional schooling in all kinds of places.

***************

Miss Caroline began the day by reading us a story about cats. The cats had long
conversations with one another, they wore cunning little clothes and lived in a
warm house beneath a kitchen stove. By the time Mrs. Cat called the drugstore for
an order of chocolate malted mice the class was wriggling like a bucketful of
catawba worms. Miss Caroline seemed unaware that the ragged, denim-shirted
and floursack-skirted first grade, most of whom had chopped cotton and fed hogs
from the time they were able to walk, were immune to imaginative literature.
Miss Caroline came to the end of the story and said, “Oh, my, wasn’t that nice?”

Then she went to the blackboard and printed the alphabet in enormous square
capitals, turned to the class and asked, “Does anybody know what these are?”
Everybody did; most of the first grade had failed it last year.

I suppose she chose me because she knew my name; as I read the alphabet a faint
line appeared between her eyebrows, and after making me read most of My First
Reader and the stock-market quotations from The Mobile Register aloud, she
discovered that I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distaste. Miss
Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, it would interfere
with my reading.
“Teach me?” I said in surprise. “He hasn’t taught me anything, Miss Caroline.
Atticus ain’t got time to teach me anything,” I added, when Miss Caroline smiled
and shook her head. “Why, he’s so tired at night he just sits in the livingroom and
reads.”
“If he didn’t teach you, who did?” Miss Caroline asked good-naturedly.
“Somebody did. You weren’t born reading The Mobile Register.”
“Jem says I was. He read in a book where I was a Bullfinch instead of a Finch.
Jem says my name’s really Jean Louise Bullfinch, that I got swapped when I wasborn and I’m really a-”

Miss Caroline apparently thought I was lying. “Let’s not let our imaginations run
away with us, dear,” she said. “Now you tell your father not to teach you any
more. It’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I’ll take over from
here and try to undo the damage-”
“Ma’am?”
“Your father does not know how to teach. You can have a seat now.”

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

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Had a great most-of-the-week in Chicagoland.  First part pleasure, second part business, which was not unpleasant.  The only negative? You guessed it -

COLD.

The high Sunday was 22.  We got to our hotel – a Residence Inn just north of the river on Dearborn – around 4, stretched our legs and relaxed, finished watching Florida win the SEC title (big surprise) and then…well…the sun was still shining.  So why not?  Out we went.  And honestly, it wasn’t too bad. (This post’s photos are from that day.)

— 2 —

We have been to Chicago many times, before, of course, but the last was, I realized, almost six years ago.  It was the summer before we moved to Birmingham, and I took the little boys and my daughter over for one last fling.

really like Chicago.  I love the architecture and the layout of the city.  I don’t love the cold weather, though.  Oh, I remember the one Christmas we went over there to see all the pretty Big City Christmas Decorations. Brutal.

Living in Florida (as I once did)  means living among Snowbirds, many of whom have left their nice old, solid, vintage homes, and their lives behind up north, in order to live in one of the thousands of manufactured housing units or “villas” that range over the Florida landscape.  I remember thinking, “How could you do that?  How could you leave everything and everyone behind for Florida, which has its charms, but also has horrible traffic, and, if you’re in the interior, oppressive heat and not much of interest to look at besides pink-and-aqua trimmed strip malls?”

Well, after our first winter in Fort Wayne, I said, to Mike, “Yeah, I get it now.  I get how you could live in this for 60 years and then, when you retire and have the chance, leave it all behind without a second thought. I absolutely get it.”  No more window-scraping or sidewalk-shoveling, and never again another depressing early March where everything’s either muddy or still frozen and they’re STILL predicting snow next week…..

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(Really.  I got home this afternoon, immediately set the coat aside for the dry cleaner’s.  Tossed the  worn-out boots in the “donate” pile.  JOYFULLY.)

— 3 —

Since it was, indeed, so cold, this was a museum trip.  The Field and the Art Institute on Monday, and then the Museum of Science and Industry on Tuesday.  The fantastic thing was that because of our science center membership, we didn’t have to pay admission to either the Field or MSI.  How much did we save?  Maybe close to $120?  Yup.  Plus, the Art Institute doesn’t charge admission for children, so score there, too – three major museums for a total of $23 for the three of us. Sweet.

— 4 —

As jaded as I am about “science” museums…yes, MSI impressed me.  I thought the “Science Storms” wings was really fantastic.  What really set it apart from others – even the Exploratorium in San Francisco – was the fact that the hands-on exhibits almost all necessitated more than one step of engagement.   You couldn’t, in other words, just run about slamming buttons.  For anything to happened, you are required to make predictions and form hypotheses.  Very good.

And the U-505?  Amazing.  I don’t remember seeing it on our previous visit.  Perhaps we thought you had to pay to even see the exterior – you don’t, of course – that’s only for the interior tour.  The vessel is enormous  – the largest sub I’ve ever seen – and the story of the engagement, capture and retrieval of the sub is fascinating and extremely well told.

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So, the cynic gives Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry a big thumbs-up.

— 5 —

When we purchased our ticket to the Art Institute, the sweet man behind the counter eyed the boys and said, “The Arms and Armour exhibit is in gallery 236…”

So of course, we went in search of it.

Well…let’s just say that two boys who have been through the insane collection of the same at Les Invalides were sort of….puzzled at the..what…3 suits of armor at the Art Institute?

Oh well, that wasn’t their main interest, anyway.  Michael, who has been taking art classes, found one of the several versions of the  Van Gogh he spent three weeks copying…a big thrill for him…

(Sadly for me…Nighthawks is on loan….)

(12-year old had to photograph this.)

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And…food?  Well, I introduced the boys to Potbelly, and they LOVED it.   The first night, we hit Eataly – I had no idea there was an Eataly in Chicago (I went to the NYC Eataly last summer with Ann) – and that was fun.  Pizza that was surprisingly no more expensive than “artisanal” pizza here in the ‘Ham, and good gelato.  Thanks, Mario!

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— 6 —

We were riding the Red Line somewhere…perhaps down to the Field. Yes, that was it.  On Monday morning. I kept up a constant, lively stream of conversation with the boys so they wouldn’t overhear the young man at the door loudly talking to his companion, a young man who wished his friend, “Save me some p—sy!” as he got off at his stop.

But then everyone shifted around, and there were seats, so we sat down, the three of us in a row.

At this same stop, an older man pushed through the door, lurched down the aisle and stood near us for a while.  He sported a hat that had “JUDGMENT DAY” appliqued in felt around it, and a vest with another word – I don’t remember what.  He carried some signs which I couldn’t read because he held the printed sides together.  He was shabby, and the couple of teeth he still had were gold.

He repeated himself endlessly. Perhaps, if you ride the Red Line, you know him.  I’m guessing he’s a familiar sight.

You all think you’re so important. But you’re spending money on nothing. You’re throwing your money away.  You’re no better than anyone else.  Every family is a royal family.  But you just throw everything away and someday you’ll have to answer for it. You spend your money on nothing. 

The boys squeezed in tight against me, but then they always do.  I never made eye contact with the fellow, until it was our turn to disembark.  I walked past him, our eyes met, I smiled,  and he said, “Your family is a ROYAL family!”

As per usual in that kind of situation, all the boys had to offer as we walked away was a nervous, “That was weird.”  Remembering the most important things I learned from Mike, and remembering my determination to pass it all on, somehow, I shrugged.  Something (or someone) pushed me to keep talking, striding down Michigan Avenue.  “Not really.  That man might have problems, but he wasn’t dangerous.  And everything he said was true.  We do spend money on nothing.  We will have to answer for it.  And God does love us.  Every second, through every person, we can hear God reaching out to us, if we listen.”

— 7 —

And then today.

In O’Hare, in the security line, the TSA agent, for some reason, started talking about the tradition of the St. Joseph’s Table that she’d just enjoyed the previous night – as had we (in a different place, of course!).  She went on and on and on, enthusiastically and joyfully, in front of this group of about twenty….

#evangelizationeverywhere

Oh…..okay…not much In Our Time this week, since trudging through Chicago and its museums was my exercise.  But in case you want to understand the War of 1812…this episode will do the trick for you!

Also….. books? For sale?  If you order on Friday, I can get them off for you, but then no more orders can go out until April 4…

Wait, what?

105

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Where we’ve been. Not where we’re going

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Change of Scenery

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Quarry #3

…told you.

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So today big brother went to SEC tournament basketball games with bigger brother, so this

9-year old and I headed to Stone Mountain. 

For those of you not familiar with Stone Mountain – it’s this enormous granite lump – technically speaking, a monadnock – that rises abruptly east of Atlanta.  It was quarried until 1978, and is now the center of an expansive park.

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It’s also known for the bas-relief of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis and being central in the re -founding of the KKK in the 20th century. (For a bit more on the carving, see here.) Not for nothing did Martin Luther King Jr include it in the “I Have a Dream” speech:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

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The carving was begun in the 20′s by the sculptor who did Mount Rushmore, and restarted several times after.

…and since today, probably 2/3 of the  folks I saw hiking, strolling, walking, biking and playing in Stone Mountain Park were African-American…maybe it does.

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Atlanta far off in the distance

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Another day, another quarry….

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(And probably another today, if the weather holds….)

That was last Sunday.  The 12-year old went on a hike with friends down at Oak Mountain State Park, so the 9-year old and I headed to his Happy Place, Ruffner Mountain.  He loves it, and his brother gets bored with it, so it was good to have a chance to hang out there.

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It’s a great spot, and 15 minutes from my house.

— 2 —

School?   Yes, it happened this week, although there was nothing that notable about it, as I recall.   the 12-year old is just about done with his Pre-Algebra book.  He’s on the counting chapter, and is surprising me both by his aptitude for it and his interest.  Once he finishes it, we’ll probably do a lot of review using material from other Pre-Algebra books, as well as doing Alcumus from the AOPS website and reading in and around other mathy things, like this.

9-year old, in 3D of Beast Academy , is working on estimation.

— 3 —

Books being read include Narnia books, Redwall and The Seven Wonders series (2 published so far.) and, aloud, still Young Fu.   The 12-year old will start To Kill a Mockingbird for his literature/writing study next week.

One science class – on the digestive system – for the 9-year old.  The 12-year old did some science/history by reading this entire issue of Calliope, which is about Marie Curie, and then reporting on it.  Which led to various rabbit holes related to Poland, radiation and the Nobel Prize.

Unfortunately, we are missing Pi Day celebrations tomorrow, because we have something else planned elsewhere…bummer, sort of.  Although what we’re doing (two different things) will be good, too….

— 4 —

Copywork has been mostly copying sections of The Lorica, otherwise known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate.  I just handed them copies, we talked about it, and then they could choose whatever parts of it they wanted to copy for the past few days.

We have continued working through The Mass Explained, and we’re just getting to the Liturgy of the Word.

Random rabbit holes related to vocabulary, both English and Latin, have been pursued.

We knocked off passage 9 in How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.

What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty;
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

We’ll go see Taming of the Shrew next weekend at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

— 5 —

Aside from that, we’re doing mostly Roadschool Prep of one sort or another…

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Hmmmmm……

— 6 —

Listened to the usual slew of excellent In Our Time podcasts.

Simone Weil – a good, fair introduction. 

The Ontological Argument - beginning with Anselm, naturally, but taking through to the present day and other philosophers’ use of it.  Interesting because, once again, it was treated objectively and not dismissed out of hand. (If it were, where would the program be?)

The Borgias – honest, balanced.

Decline and Fall – an entire program on Waugh’s novel.  It was really excellent, and prompted me to re-read the book.  Long overdue.

So, if you listen to any of these programs, I’d suggest the last – it went into a single subject with a great deal of depth, explored by people who appreciate Waugh, and who have slightly different perspectives (one scholar seeing it as rather Catholic, even though it’s pre-conversion, and another saying it was anything but, for example.)

This week’s episode was on the Trinity – phew.  I won’t get to that until Saturday, I expect.

— 7 —

This week, I read Sorrow Builds a Bridge.  I picked this old Image paperback in a Mobile bookstore.  (And I sure didn’t spend $27.00 on it!)  It’s the story of Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, or Mother Alphonse, foundress of the Hawthorne Dominicans, whose apostolate is to the cancer-afflicted poor.  When I started reading it, I thought, “Wait. Is this a novel?”  The writing is creative – perhaps is creative non-fiction? – creating little scenes and conversations that I doubt were ever recorded (although she does clearly weave letters and journal entries into some scenes).  But no, it’s not fiction – it’s a biography, and although the style is a little looser than I’d normally want from a biography, I shrugged and read through it, and I’m glad I did.  I think I should just be constantly reading a life of a saint, all the time.

A couple of random tidbits

  • Rose and George’s only child, Francis (who died as a toddler), was baptized in a Catholic church before his parents were even seriously considering converting.  As Burton relates it, Rose decided she wanted him baptized, and her time living in Rome as a child had convinced her that the Catholic approach to the sacrament was the most meaningful.  So the parents took the child to the nearest Catholic parish and he was baptized.   Worth pondering when we debate current sacramental practices, for history is always more complicated than we expect.
  • Rose – Mother Alphonse – composed a regular newsletter for benefactors of her apostolate.  It was called Christ’s Poor.   Wouldn’t that make a worthy volume for contemporary reading?  A selection of her writings are available in this, but a book of that title focused on those newsletters would be of interest, as well, I’d think. 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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