Monday, July 28, 2014


Most of the time, I'm just like any other mother. Sometimes, however, I fight this:

When I have to allow medical professionals to hurt my children without saying a word when I can sometimes visualize punching them and running away with my kid to a thatched cottage on the moor, something breaks inside and I wonder if I will ever truly trust anyone again. When I have to listen to other moms simper about how teething fever is the worst and I know I'm being mean when I can almost hear myself laughing at them, something breaks inside and I wonder if I will ever cultivate charity. When the ladies who lunch ignore my request for a few bucks toward our charity research walk but ask for funds to send their kids on mission trips and I'm certain I'll never speak to them again then get mad at myself when I do, something breaks inside and I wonder if I'm a petty jerk. When I stare at a hospital bill from the two days in nineteen years that he was in between insurance plans and know that the CEO who received a letter from Rees just passed it on to the billing office and I want to snarl at Mr. Big Bucks to just pay for it but have to be quiet because it's rude to talk money like that, something breaks inside and I wonder if I despise rich, powerful people. When I listen to the coughing and to the lab cultures and PFT results and want to die but can't, something breaks inside and I wonder how I will ever get to tomorrow. 

Some parts get strong, to be sure, but other parts will never, ever heal.

I'm still trying, though, to be a trusting, charitable friend to all, even with my broken parts, who doesn't punch or shun or snarl or laugh meanly at anyone. But no one gets this craziness like CF Mamas, for all our disagreements about lakes and campfires and masks (!). They're special to me from afar. But if anyone reading this comes to Alaska, e-mail me so that we can visit for real, OK?

There is plenty of excellence that CF brings to a body, to a family, to a community, which I'm happy to herald, and often do. This is also part of it (well, for me at least) and I want you to know that when I recently saw a selfie of a vacationing couple and all of the "You deserve it" comments, I exclaimed to my husband, NO ONE DESERVES A VACATION LIKE A CF MAMA.

Broken, yes, but also ready for visits and vacations. And still beautiful. 

Love and thanks to all my friends,

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.

(Also published at Catholic Sistas today.)