We decided to start a Family Manifesto with a collection of topics supported by definitions, opposites, Scripture, quotes and calls to action. The idea is to discuss and collect information about having emotional and mental awareness.

I believe that you can’t give what you don’t have so the first priority is to take care of yourself. I explained how in a plane you are told to put on your oxygen mask first. I also explained how in Mass, the priest asks to receive from Christ, then the priest gives communion to the ministers and the ministers to the congregation. All this, to say that you can’t give what you haven’t first received.

We added Genesis 1:26-27 about being made in the image of God. We also added Psalm 139:14a I will give thanks to you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Opposite – Avoid negative talk about yourself to other or in your head.

How do we take care of our needs?

Sleep – Get adequate rest according to age and need.

Oxygen – Go outside for fresh air and protect our trees

Water – Obtain clean water and protect our waterways

Healthy foods – fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains….eat a variety and try new foods.

Exercise – gym, walk, taekwondo, yoga

Spiritual growth – Scripture memorization and meditation, prayer, attend Mass and learn about the saints.

Intellectual growth – Going to school but continuing to learn after school through Khan Academy, Duolingo and reading.

Social/Emotional connection – spend time together and talk.

Keep body clean and safe – washing, clothing, sunscreen

Keep environment clean and safe – Don’t leave toys in walkways to cause falls.

I have titled a whole bunch of pages using the fruits of the Spirit, the tenets of taekwondo, the seven habits of highly effective people and James suggested the Beatitudes.

7 cups of tea

Healthy….what does that mean? Physical health can mean eating right, exercising, sleeping well and getting clean air and water. Spiritual health can mean prayer, reading Scripture and attending worship services. What about mental health? Where do we learn to care for ourselves mentally?

It seems that we are taught mental health only if there is a problem. But isn’t an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure? I stumbled upon a website 7 cups of tea. This website is full of great information on managing emotions and dealing with the difficulties in life. They have peers to practice active listening in a way similar to the peer support in AA. There are activities such as gratitude exercises, mindfulness exercises and positive images and videos.

One of my favorite mindfulness exercises involves imagining a beautiful island, clear water and yourself in a boat near the shore. The exercise suggests imagining a creature representing the beauty in the world. That didn’t connect with me. If I was in a boat, who would I want but Jesus? So I imagine Him. This is where Scripture memory is awesome. I can imagine him speaking to me using his own words from the Gospels.

I am using the information to teach the children how to manage thoughts and emotions. I hope they will obtain the skills to deal with depressing, anxious and negative thoughts so they are more resilient in their adult life.

Books and people

I have decided that there are very few books that I will agree with 100%. So as with people, I will agree with what I can and not worry about the rest.

I was scanning the shelf at the library and grabbed a book The Homeless Bishop by Fr Joseph Girzone. It was a great story idea and was wonderful for about 200 pages. An archbishop decides to live as the poor and homeless to see firsthand how they were treated and why Jesus had such a love for the poor. Then he becomes Cardinal later in the story and we find him attacking two church teachings. Now I could have respected a differing of opinion if he was at least honest about the Church’s valid Scriptural reasoning. Instead he accuses the Church of remaining in medieval times and needing to change with the times. Really dishonest! I did enjoy the perspective about putting ourselves in the place of those less fortunate so I will take that away from the read. Although I can’t bring myself to read more of this author.

I found A.D. 30 and A.D. 33 at the library. These two books by Ted Dekker were written from an outsider’s perspective about Jesus’ ministry. It was a really neat story. It wasn’t predictable which is saying a lot since I know the New Testament well.

The perspective of how our offenses, grievances, fears and worries all pointed to putting our trust in something other than God. It gave me cause to examine the things I worry about and fear and how I could shift my trust back to God. Recognizing offenses as really fears to our status or knowledge or whatever was really thought-provoking. In our culture, it seems as if we are expected to take offense as if no one would believe we stood for anything if we didn’t. This story helps explore ways to take a stand in humility and love.

I do have a couple of dislikes with these books. He says several times that God doesn’t judge. While I agree that Jesus came to offer salvation and we need to come as we are, Jesus also speaks of a judgment. So I feel that was misleading. He also speaks of the Law of Moses as if it was a man made thing. While the Pharisees may have expanded the interpretation, the Law was given by God. While I believe we are free from the punishment under the law because of God’s grace and mercy, I don’t believe anything in the Law was given to anything but our benefit. I appreciate the freedom of not following every detail of dietary and social law. But if given the choice between God’s law or not, I try to follow God. For I believe there is freedom in believing that He knows best. And that there was always one plan with continuity from beginning to end. The Mosaic Law wasn’t plan A and Jesus Plan B. They were just different phases to one plan by God to bring all mankind back to him.

Good reads even if not perfectly as I would have it told.

Scripture memory keepers

Last week was crazy busy! Boy scouts, watching black belt testing, three belt ceremonies, a business trip and a visit from my aunt. But it was good especially since my aunt stayed with the kids while I tagged along with my husband.  While he was in his meeting, I had to find a way to keep busy. I am not a big shopper so eight hours at the mall sounded rough. I ended up spending most of my time at Hobby Lobby and Barnes and Noble.

I was too early for Hobby Lobby to be open so I walked around Office Max. That turned out to be the inspiration for this project. I found these mini index cards. I had been struggling with a way to keep a hard copy of my memory verses. A notebook wouldn’t allow me to keep it in order.  A binder might be too bulky.  When I saw these cards,  I decided to make crochet pockets so they could be carried easily in a purse, backpack or even pocket.

I made a chain the length of the long side of the card plus one. Then I half double crocheted in the round until the length of the short side. I made a chain loop on one side and sewed a charm or button on the other side. Easy peasy! I couldn’t stop and made one for all in the Scripture Typer club; my husband,  oldest three children and myself.


Vaccine waivers

When my older two were little, I went to every well child checkup. I got all the vaccines and boosters and trusted everything the doctors told me. When my oldest was two, we started researching autism and working towards interventions and therapies that would eventually bring him from very little language at age 4 to high functioning at age 8.

Around age 4, we were at the park. David wanted another little girl to play but without language, he hit her to get her attention. Her mom came flying towards me. I apologized profusely but explained that it wasn’t out of malice. She had been doing research on vaccines and asked my opinion. I explained that I do agree that there is a genetic component but to pin down what is the environmental trigger among vaccines, antibiotics, pesticides, additives, preservatives, etc is more than I could sort through.

When I became pregnant with my daughter, I thought more about autism and the increased chance she would have because she has a sibling with autism. What could I do to reduce the chances? I tried not to get too many ultrasounds. I worked at eating better and reducing chemicals where I could. I’m not perfect but at least the toxic burden is lightened.

Vaccines? Our pediatrician wouldn’t accept unvaccinated children. One doctor would but it was almost a two hour drive. I took her to him once but felt too worried that I would need someone closer. I talked with the pediatrician again and asked if he would accept a partially vaccinated child. He agreed. We reduced the vaccines and spread them out a bit more. She did have a little trouble with language and transitions. Her language has completely exploded so she would never qualify for an autism diagnosis.

We moved to a state with a religious exemption. I do hate that some vaccines are made from aborted fetal tissue. It saddens me that the pharmaceutical industry has made it harder to remain true to conscience by not making the individual vaccines of mmr available. It was just easier to switch to unvaccinated and not worry about that set of possible triggers.

After the incident of measles in California and subsequent elimination of vaccine waivers along with attempts by other states to do so, I became concerned that this would eventually be made unavailable nation wide. To me it is illogical to think that autism and Alzheimer’s are just strange anomalies and can’t be linked to the one common thing of neurotoxins in vaccines. Especially since the vaccine court has paid out huge sums to families who have been able to link their child’s autism and vaccines. But very intelligent people refuse to look at the data and would rather have the feel-good conclusion of no link between vaccines and autism.

If the waivers were made unavailable, could massive amounts of vaccines be given all at once? That worried me greatly. So why not start now? Spread them out as I did in Mississippi.

This morning, we started with Katie Rose. One shot but 4 vaccines. Why do they do that?! I understand that less pokes but the doctor suggested another vaccine on top of that. Too many! The next shot will be in three months. The younger boys have had no vaccines but I won’t start them til they are four so that we bypass that 18mo-3yr window where regression is more likely.

My stomach is in knots. I pray we have done the right thing. I know too much of the seedy underbelly of the pharmaceutical industry to feel any sense of calm. Hopefully there are no major reactions and we are prepared for whatever the future brings.

Cabbage and apples

I love fall! It’s cooler without as much pollen as spring. The colors are gorgeous. The food is just my style. Apples, cinnamon, sweet potatoes and such make me happy. You can bake without burning up. Just good all around.

This morning I went to Winn Dixie. They have the new Cooking with Curtis promotion where he comes up with a recipe using produce that is on sale to make a dish for under $10. This week was a slaw using cabbage and apples. David likes slaw but I didn’t think that would be a hit with everyone. And that much raw cabbage could make for some tummy aches.

When I got to the produce section and saw the price on the cabbage and apples then I thought I really should find a cooked cabbage recipe using apples and come back for some. I remembered that I had sausage in the freezer so I took a chance that I could find a recipe using what I had on hand. I got granny smith apples and a cabbage.

I found this recipe for Sausage, Apple and Cabbage Saute. It uses butter, honey and red wine vinegar. I added a bit of Celtic Sea salt to help the flavors mesh well. It is so very scrumptious. Definitely a keeper. I bought four apples and only used a little over half the head of cabbage so I can make it again later this week.

How fitting that the Synod of the Family is happening in Rome and all of yesterdays readings were on marriage. The homily was really good about how we have this ideal presented in the gospel of marriage without divorce. But then we have the real world that has situations where separation could be necessary because of abuse or unavoidable because of abandonment. So rather than just encouraging the ideal or making anyone feel bad for not adhering to the ideal, he spoke about the struggle for the Church between holding up the ideal and ministering to the real world. It is a struggle. For those of us who have not been divorced know that it’s not from a lack of trials that we survive. But it does require a great deal of grace to encourage us to die to self. I saw a meme about marriage; If we would live out the grace in the sacrament of marriage, we would have a Christian nation within forty years. I do hope the Synod finds a way to better minister to those who have divorced and/or remarried while still holding up the ideal of marriage.

Joseph is 2 yrs old and is in the anti-clothes phase. Not great timing with the weather beginning to cool down, but maybe he’ll be a little less fascinated by stripping down before January and the worst arrives.

October is devoted to the rosary so we’ve been praying a decade every night. Over the past few months, we have practiced each of the prayers one at a time. I didn’t consciously plan it that way but it timed out perfectly for the children to be able to pray along with ease. David and I have been crocheting more rosaries. The cheaper beads don’t last long at all with rough little boys.

Scripture Typer is going really well. There’s a lot of good competition and encouragement. One of us gets excited about a certain passage or new level and it inspires another to review or add more verses. James was looking for all the smaller verses he could find. It would be tempting to discourage him from looking for shortcuts but it’s God’s word, it won’t be returned void even in the smallest portions.

They were so excited about our weekly meeting that they wanted to do it Saturday night instead of waiting for Sunday. David wanted to do a tournament this week focusing on speed, accuracy and persistence. He made a powerpoint presentation with the rules and purpose of the tournament. It was very good!

Katie Rose wanted to be a part of the meeting. She is still a couple years away from using Scripture Typer at the very least, but we started reviewing Genesis 1:1 with her. She is doing really well with it. She then wanted Genesis 2:2 and 3:3. Very cute. She has great capacity for memorization but I will need to look at a numerical and logical way of presenting it to her.

John Micah is counting really well. I can tell that they have worked on that alot at school. I’m not getting much communication so I am looking forward to a progress report. I may visit his classroom sometime soon to see how he’s doing there.

Happy fall!

Banker box organization

I have been working on organizing things better with banker boxes for a few months and I am almost done, I was inspired by the Konmari method and specifically how everything we keep should inspire joy. It is a good idea with multiple kids to keep books, toys, and clothes for hand me downs. I took it to mean that the things that are out and accessible should only be what is needed for the present and not nostalgia from the past or insurance for the future.

I still need to keep some things although I don’t need them right now. I got about twenty banker file boxes and labeled them; one for each family member, one for each subject and one for each season. As I have cleaned, I have made a place for everything. ONE place so that things can be immediately put away. If I don’t need it right now, it goes in a banker box. If it’s not important enough for a place or box then it is tossed. It is astounding the difference in how much easier it is to keep things picked up.

I had rosary beads in drawers, crosses in a basket, prayer cards and rosary booklets in various stacks of paper. I decided to use a large tin that I was saving for a good use and make a sort of ark for all the holy things. It is even a gold-like color. It is very helpful to have everything needed for a family or individual rosary contained in one place. And with a lid so that little hands won’t scatter things.

For our individual boxes, I have added file folders with files for sacraments, birthday cards, Christmas, certificates, activities specific to the individual and even love letters. How nice to have a place to save all the special notes from each other! I added a large envelope for each box for small mementos like ticket stubs and small souvenirs.

I added a small basket on the piano between our ark and library box for bookmarks. I was always finding bookmarks but they frequently were tucked somewhere and nowhere to be found when needed. With a specific place, we can have a bookmark whenever needed.


I was diagnosed a while ago and tried using the cream for it. It was awful and irritating but the doctor said it would get worse before getting better. I stuck through the unpleasantness and used it a couple months. It still was a little red and if I failed to use it a couple days then it would immediately flare up. I looked for some ideas on a rosacea forum and used the suggested Omega 3 supplement religiously. I wondered about Vitamin E. It has helped not only that but I don’t need the medicated shampoo as much either. If I take Omega 3 and vitamin E every morning then my skin is clear.

Scripture typer 

The weekly goals have been really good for us. We all have exceeded our own expectations. James is really enjoying the competitive aspect of it. Last night, he was so adamant about getting ahead of his dad and brother. He was begging to stay up late, “One more verse, or two!” How can you not let him stay up for that? After that, he asked to be woke up thirty minutes earlier the next morning and this morning he made it to the next level with thirty minutes of practice. How awesome for a 10-yr-old to spend 30 minutes in God’s word before school.

It is opening up opportunity for more discussion. David asked this morning about the first verse of Psalm 23 because it sounded like it was saying we didn’t want the Lord. I was able to explain how “I shall not want” meant that God supplied all our needs. I doubt we would have discussed it without the efforts of scripture memorization.