Fulton Sheen once said that hearing nuns' confessions was like being stoned to death with popcorn. I feel like that is what life is doing to me this summer. There is nothing majorly wrong in my life, but it seems like every time I turn around, something else is going just wrong enough. It started with the epic closet fall, which is still not completely cleaned up because of my *&$#@ frozen shoulder. We usually get our best schooling done in the summer, but between Therese's PT for her hamstring and my PT for my shoulder (plus doctor appointments, tests, summer dance all July, etc.), school just hasn't happened. Then, I was supposed to go to Ft. Worth for a week (this week, actually) to see Analisa, but because of my shoulder, I can't safely drive that far (when I drive, I have to "T-Rex" it with my left arm - it's basically stuck to my body). I was really looking forward to spending time with her, so that was a huge disappointment. I am guessing because of my shoulder and the horrendous heat, I have a headache almost every single day. That has put me behind in my work. Then today I woke up sick just two weeks before we are to leave for Estes Park. I am exhausted thinking about everything that has to be done before we can go - fix things for Jack (the dog), prepare our meals in advance, write up instructions for my mom, figure out what we need to take. It all just seems like too much right now.
Am I the only person who has a voice in her head constantly counting the ways in she fails every day? I can't seem to shut that voice up. Then I loathe myself for having and listening to that voice in the first place. Then I add that to my litany of failures. It's a vicious circle. I seriously can't wait for fall, even though it means a return to dance classes, debate, and drudgery.
ETA: Oh, yeah, and the dishwasher and the A/C are both malfunctioning. The two-year old A/C unit can't seem to keep up with the heat and the dishwasher just started short-cycling last night. Joy unconfined.
Some of you know how much I love Fr. Troy. He's one of the two major reasons I don't ever want to move (Mrs. Carol, the girls' dance teacher, is the other). I went to Confession on Saturday, and as usual the line was very long. Am I the only person who is very happy to see a long Confession line? If the crowds at Confession and Mass at St. John Vianney are any indication, the Catholic Church is thriving. In any case, I am, as ever, thanking God for Fr. Troy. My children will grow up loving Confession because of him. He has the ability to hone in on the underlying issue of whatever you tell him. He knows that whatever your sin, it's a symptom of something else. When he talked to me on Saturday, I knew that I was hearing Jesus. Believe me (and if you know me, you know this is true), I *know* how stupid that sounds. It's true, though. His voice was so kind and compassionate. He told me exactly what I needed to hear at that time (basically to let go of my control and give God's grace room to work (on/in this situation)). It's embarrassing, but I basically had to run out of the confessional crying (after absolution, of course).
Therese has a boyfriend. Someone I like very much. Someone whose mother I like very much and consider a friend. The problem is that he's older. Why is my daughter following so closely in my footsteps? I am in uncharted territory here. I would so appreciate prayers on this one.
I have often been intrigued by all that Classical Conversations has to offer, but for various reasons, I have never delved into their products...until now. I recently read The Conversation by Leigh A. Bortins. From the first moment I heard about this book, I knew that I wanted to read it. For one thing, the title immediately brought to mind Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins and their Great Books of the Western World set issued by Encyclopedia Britannica in the 1950s (of which I am a proud owner of a few of the volumes). I fell in love with Mortimer Adler through, of all things, 1950s game shows like "What's my Line?" Adler's book "How to Read a Book" is one of my all time favorites, but my favorite quote of his comes from an introduction to his Great Books series. He said, "What binds the authors together in an intellectual community is the great conversation in which they are engaged. In the works that come later in the sequence of years, we find authors listening to what their predecessors have to say about this idea or that, this topic or that."
This book has something for everyone. For someone like me, who received a classical Great Books undergraduate education from a Catholic university and has been counting the moments until she has children so that she can pass it along to them (after growing up in a house that was imbued with the Great Conversation, thanks to some incredible parents), this book is an affirmation of everything I know to be right. It affirms that habits are important and reminds me of the necessity to prioritize them in our educational journey. It makes me feel a solidarity with other classical educators. It's like chatting with an old friend. Seriously, Mrs. Bortins had me on p. xiii when she quoted Michael D. O'Brien's The Island of the World. This Catholic novel is my favorite book ever. Ever.
I think the book is particularly beneficial either for new homeschoolers or for homeschoolers new to teaching high school, though. There is something about reading it that makes you feel like saying, "Yes, I can!" Even more than that - "Yes, I want to!" Let's face it, the idea of homeschooling high schoolers can be intimidating. There is a ton of societal pressure to send the kids to a "real" high school. It's funny - I wouldn't have thought that I would feel it. After all, I have an advanced degree and I'm just...different...enough that people would kind of expect me to homeschool high school. It's *dance* of all things that has made people ask me if I am sending Therese to high school. "Don't you want her to be on drill team?!" Well, I'd much rather discuss The Nicomachean Ethics and The Summa Theologica with her. Gosh, teaching her high school is my reward for having to deal with beginning phonics and arithmetic. I was *not* meant to teach small children. There's a reason I went for a Ph.D. (well, there are many, but one is that I wanted to teach college kids). I prefer the age and I *love* the material. I feel that you spend all of that time forming your children and putting all of the pieces in place. Why, then, would you hand off all of your hard work to someone else - probably just to see it ruined?
When you read Leigh Bortins' book, you get constant affirmation from her that homeschooling your high schooler is the right move for both of you. Using the five canons of classical rhetoric (as organized by both Cicero and Aristotle, although Bortins uses Aristotle's characterization), Mrs. Bortins goes through all of the Rhetorical Arts and demonstrates how to implement a classical high school education. Each chapter ends with an extremely useful chart, so, for example, "Writing Using the Five Canons of Rhetoric." These summaries are very helpful if you have finished a chapter but are still unsure about the practical application of what you have just read.
The Conversation will mean something different to everyone who reads it, so be sure to click the banner below to read all of the reviews. For me, the book will have a permanent place in my homeschool library. I absolutely love it!