Monday, June 6, 2016

Home Invasion: The Night My Daughter Confronted An Intruder


My husband and I left behind the house we’d intended to grow old in. We gave up the magnificent dining room that we’d hoped to one day entertain our grandchildren in. We let it all go to protect our family.

We traded a beautiful, spacious, old home for the promise of greater security; because the once-grand neighborhood in which we’d resided became a hot-bed of crime as house prices declined and gang activity increased.

So, there we were sleeping soundly (in our new, safe, country home) about a year later, when our 7 year old daughter stood in the doorway of our bedroom and announced, “The man just left.”   READ the rest HERE


Sunday, May 29, 2016

When the Stuff in Your Closets is Holding You Back

When the Stuff in Your Closets is Holding You Back Raleigh Moms Blog 

Sometimes holding on to stuff is a wise decision. Why purge those out-grown onesies if they can be handed-down to a younger sibling? Yes, sometimes storing up stuff is necessary. But what about when the things in your closets are simply holding you back?

Let the Stockpiling Begin

It was 1995 when my family threw me a baby shower to help me welcome my firstborn. I still remember oohing and aahing over all those tiny new outfits and the sweet, bunny print bedding.

My husband and I had hoped, right from the start, to grow a big family and by 1999 we were well on our way. Seeing as our little ones were generally arriving every other year, it seemed prudent to keep a ready supply of baby items in the attic.  READ the rest HERE

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Spring Cleaning for Success: Overcoming Obstacles in Your Path

“He’s on the roof again!” cried a younger son as he bounded through the back door. Not the least bit shocked, I knew exactly to whom he was referring.

Feeling compelled to do my parental due diligence, I put down my cleaning supplies and stepped outside to investigate. I wanted to be sure the accused teenager wasn’t trying to out-do himself by scaling new heights.

Not wanting to be detected, I stood, close-lipped, watching as my son mentally assessed the roof’s height and the distance to his landing target (a patio cushion). Looking on in amazement, I remembered my own fear of high places.

READ the rest HERE 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

We Bought a Restaurant

We Bought a Restaurant... & We're Homeschooling Too - by Tara Brelinsky

For most of my marriage, I've been a stay-at-home mama and home school teacher. My spouse has been the sole bread-winner. When we purchased a restaurant in December of 2015, I assumed that the effect of our decision would be confined to my husband's employment only. I never dreamed that our choice to buy an eatery would have such radical repercussions on our whole family life, including our home schooling.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Bad Attitude: Learning to Give Thanks for Family Challenges

My Bad Attitude: How I Learned to Give Thanks for Family Challenges - by Tara Brelinsky 
We were headed in opposite directions, my husband to soccer and me to fulfill our weekly adoration hour with the rest of our brood of children. It wasn't really anything new or extraordinary, single-parenting in adoration. Admittedly during the adjustment period three years ago when we first began adoring as a family, two pairs of arms and eyes were needed to manage our youngest ones as the clock ticked off sixty minutes, but since then we've all learned how to spend an hour in the chapel with (relatively) few interruptions or needs for discipline.

With this in mind, I suppose you could say I was feeling inspired (or maybe just brave) when I decided to follow up our hour of peace and stillness with another hour of quiet reflection and prayer at the home of a fellow parishioner for the parish's annual rosary crusade (sans Daddy's assistance). Three potty accidents, one wrestling match and half a dozen shushes later, that cliché No good deed goes unpunished seemed a fitting description for my evening.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

When Good Parenting Doesn't Equal Good Results

Return of the Prodigal Son 1667-1670 Murillo

Last Thursday, I found myself engaged in a parent-teacher conference of sorts. Since we're home schoolers, parent-teacher conferences generally look like me getting pulled aside by a fellow parent so they can inform me of some disappointing situation my offspring has engaged in or facilitated.

This was one of those conversations.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fighting for Your Marriage: Tips from the Trenches

How diligently I’d searched for just the right hair clip to draw back my auburn locks. Although no one was likely to notice my barrette with its pale peach-colored rosettes hidden beneath my flowing, white veil, I spared no energy in my search for it. The tiny fabric flowers continued the theme of my wedding gown which was adorned with clusters of silk roses. As a young woman, preparing for my nuptials, every detail seemed incredibly important.

What care I’d taken in preparing for that whole day. From the superfluous purchases, like finding the perfect shade of blush to compliment my complexion, to the necessary arrangements, like choosing matching gold rings, a great deal of time and attention went into making our wedding day perfect.

I did my best to prepare for the day, but I wasn’t quite as thoughtful about equipping myself for the life ahead. As a blushing young bride, I never dreamed of the heartaches, disappointments, frustrations and losses that we’d face in the years to come. READ the rest HERE

Thursday, February 4, 2016

When Teaching Kids to Read Can Do More Harm Than Good

Teaching Your Kids To Read Does More Harm Than Good Raleigh Moms Blog 

My sister called to ask me for recommendations for teaching my 5 year old niece how to read. An old friend announced a few days earlier that his daughter had gotten accepted into transitional kindergarten. Someone else was touting the awesome school they’d just enrolled their toddler into. While all of these parents want the best for their children, they’re being duped (by an education system that derailed a few generations ago and a cultural psyche that touts more as better) into believing that a focus on early academics will produce brighter students in the long run. The trouble is that repeated studies and experience prove the opposite to be true.

An educator herself, my sister recognizes the deficits pervading her kindergartner’s lesson plans. Lists of sight words are the primary tool being used to raise her daughter to the status of reader. My niece is definitely one smart cookie, but memorizing pages of words at the tender age of 5 isn’t really her thing. And at 5 years old it shouldn’t have to be. READ the rest HERE

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Motherhood's Random Acts of Kindness

Motherhood'sRandom Acts of Kindness Raleigh Moms Blog

We’d just finished showering, the two-year-old and me, when I reached for the towel bar. Unfortunately, since I hadn’t planned in advance for our dual exit from the hot, steamy shower into the frigid, meat locker that is our bathroom in winter, my hands met with one dry towel and one damp one (left over from my husband’s solitary shower a few minutes earlier).

In a split second decision, I grabbed the dry cloth first and wrapped it around my little one’s pink, naked body. Then I proceeded to use the chilly, wet towel on myself. Working in high speed, I figured I could whisk away enough water from my limbs to stave off hypothermia. Once this step was accomplished, I was forced to tip-toe across the icy tile floor to get from the bathroom mat to the laundry room rug (because again my morning brain hadn’t thought to have our clean clothes laying at the ready.) READ the rest HERE at Raleigh Moms Blog

Friday, December 18, 2015

Reclaiming the 12 Days of Christmas: 4 Ways We Continue the Celebration

Why We Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas Raleigh Moms Blog

For years, at about 3pm on Christmas Day my kiddos would hit the wall one by one. After a long Christmas Eve followed by a too-early-rising, their energy stores were depleted and just past midday they’d drop like flies: a snoring pre-schooler on the couch still clutching his new light saber, a drowsy teen sprawled out on the floor amidst her books. 

Additionally, I often noticed an air of disappointment creeping in once the last gift was torn open, the evening meal digested and the boxes hauled out to the trash. Honestly, I sensed it in myself almost as much as I detected it in my family members. 
READ more about the 4 ways we've reclaimed the Twelve Days of Christmas on Raleigh Moms Blog.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

A Tired Parent's Prayer for Peace

The Perfect Prayer for Tired Parents - Inspired by St Francis - by Tara Brelinsky 

Once a year, my local, Catholic homeschool support group hosts an opening event for all of the member parents. Typically, the evening focuses on offering a welcome to newcomers and apprising all of the paying members of the resources available to them.
While the meeting is mandatory, I’ve never been disappointed by the chance to spend an evening in the company of like-minded individuals.

Sticks and Stones: Bullying Hurts

"What are you, an idiot?”



“You #%&^$!”

Sticks and Stones Raleigh Moms Blog

It wasn’t the first time his parents had resorted to a litany of name calling. It seemed to be their routine form of communication: an insult here, a slight there, a sprinkling of profanities, a rude retort or a less than flattering moniker. Honestly, I’d been disgusted from the start, but on this day I could no longer silently stomach the verbal assault his parents were launching rapid-fire in his direction. 

Standing there in their cramped apartment kitchen, listening to two people shred their only child’s self image again, my heart began to race, my face flushed and my throat throbbed until I finally let the words slide off my tongue. “Stop it!” I yelled (much to the shock of everyone in the room).
Read more HERE on Raleigh Moms Blog 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sick of Healthcare Premiums? Samaritan Ministries Has a Better Plan for You

I am not a paid advertiser for Samaritan Ministries and the opinions/experience 
I put forth here are my own. If you choose to become a SM member and you offer 
my name as a referral, my family will receive a credit that reduces one month's share on our account.

About three years ago I was working hard to save my unborn baby. Part of that work required me to have a couple of ultrasounds performed during the first trimester. Since we had standard medical insurance at that time, I simply agreed to use the doctors' referred sonographers.

The first exam was a great experience. The technician spent thirty minutes or more exploring my womb and the surrounding organs. She explained, as well as showed us, everything. The cost for that ultrasound rang in at just about $350.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

An Open Letter to the Lady Who Thinks I Have Too Many Kids

Dear Lady Who Thinks We Have Too Many Kids, 

Rounding the back bumper of our 15 passenger van, we began our routine for loading up the crew. The chatty teens readily made their way to the rear seat while our younger daughter buckled in the toddler. Dropping the stroller down to the closed position, my husband instructed our 9 year old ball of boy energy to move the bottles of water and take his seat next to his 7 year old cohort. While our feet were dog-tired from the full day of walking around the fairgrounds, the kids’ energy levels seemed to be drawing off of some endless reserve. We were putting the finishing touches on our Blue Ribbon day at the State Fair, loading up our big, church-sized vehicle to head over for dinner.

There we were happily filling our van with coats, a stroller, goodies, and children (6 of our own and 2 substitutes pinching-hitting for our missing young adult offspring) when a comment was launched, like a fragmentation grenade, in our direction. A mother, her two elementary-aged children in tow, uttered with audible disgust, READ the rest here

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thinking Outside the Box: Why We Home School Year-Round

One of the many blessings of homeschooling is that it allows families to think outside of the box. Whether it be an un-schooling approach or a non-traditional method for inspiring learning, homeschooling parents have a wide latitude when it comes to finding the best fit for their individual family.

Growing up, I attended both Catholic and, later, public institutions of learning. While there were definite differences in the subject matter being taught, as well as the environment I was being taught in, all of them followed the same calendar model: the school year commenced in September, ended in June and was followed by two solid months of summer break.

A Less-Conventional Path

When I began homeschooling fourteen years ago, I decided to forge a less-conventional path. Our school is in session year-round, and my children rise to their new grades every spring, instead of fall. We try to adhere to a nine weeks on, two weeks off pattern throughout the grade year.

I’d like to say that I chose this plan because I am exceptionally wise and had the foresight to discern all the advantages such a schedule would afford my crew of eight children. I’d like to claim that status, but really it was more a matter of Divine Providence.

To begin with, I had three rambunctious little boys who needed consistent structure in their days. With the oldest reaching school-age and the next just eleven months behind him, I was eager to get started.

Budgetary constraints affected the timing of our ability to invest in educational supplies. So, when we received a decent-sized tax refund that first February (14 years ago) it seemed appropriate to purchase curriculum before planning a trip to Disney.

Beginning in the Spring

That first spring when those beautiful, new, shrink-wrapped books began arriving on our porch, it was hard to contain my son’s excitement, so I didn’t bother trying. We delved in as soon as I was able to sharpen the pencils.

Psychologically, beginning our new grades in the spring has continued to be a great benefit in our household; just about the time that the winter doldrums set in for most homeschoolers, we are finishing up a grade year.

Then a short time later, as the warm weather returns and the windows get thrown open, crisp new textbooks appear on our doorstep. And excited by the prospect of reaching another rung on the educational ladder, my kids eagerly tear into their new studies.

Not taking an extended break between grade levels also means greater retention of the material. My students usually sail through the earliest lessons in their new books because they haven’t had the time to forget those multiplication tables they just learned.

I suppose that is in part why they look forward to the beginning of each new grade level, because the review work is easy for them.

9 Weeks On, 2 Weeks Off

Sticking to a nine weeks on, two weeks off pattern also has ample advantages. It’s amazing how quickly a nine-week quarter passes when you know a two-week break is on the horizon. In practical terms, we log-in roughly the same number of educational days as do traditional institutions, which leaves extra weeks available.

Rather than organize those extra weeks into one long break, I intersperse them throughout the year as needed. That means we occasionally take a three-week break instead of two or we stretch out the nine-week quarter over ten or eleven weeks. On a side note, I plan our calendar one quarter/break period at a time.

Another benefit to this plan that I discovered back when I had only three little balls of energy is that keeping a generally consistent schedule means a more harmonious (mostly) household. When my boisterous brood has unlimited amounts of unstructured time, chaos reigns.

Our year-round pace also allows for life to interrupt without throwing the whole calendar into a tail spin. I saw that clearly when my family endured a two-year period of suffering. I miscarried four babies, my husband lost his job, and depression sunk me deep into its pit.

Some days it was all that I could do to get up out of bed and go through the motions to keep the children safe and fed. Knowing that we had the wiggle room to stretch out some of our weeks or take mental health days without completely realigning our ending date for the grade year relieved a great deal of stress for me.

As painful as that episode was, it reinforced the wisdom of setting a schedule that fits your family’s needs and goals. The heart of schooling in the home has to do with developing each member of the family. Yes, it’s about teaching kids to read and write and work within the framework of societal norms, but more than that it is about teaching them how to live, and sometimes living life to the fullest requires us to think outside of the box.

This post originally appeared on Seton Magazine.