Hello, Quick-Takers! Thanks to Jen for being just the bestest hostess ever. :)
Here we go!
- Our family was on vacation last week. It was HEAVENLY. My parents like to take their grandchildren on vacations, and normally, Travel Man and I stay home, work, and squeeze in a date. This time, we decided to take a vacation at the same time. Alone. I don't need to tell you that this was a really nice treat. We saved up, set a budget, and stayed within it. We ate out, we lounged by the pool, we visited family and friends in the Orlando area, and generally relaxed. Oh, did I mention the reading? Yeah, baby!
We did decidedly non-touristy things, too, which meant very low-key outings when we had them. We visited Leu Gardens, which I lived a mere 20 miles from for close to 15 years and never went to. We took the tour of Butler Chain of Lakes, too. It was really neat. And I took a gazillion pictures, especially of the flowers at Leu Gardens. By the time Friday rolled around, and I knew the girls would be back with Mom and Dad, I was completely ready to see them again and to go home. Perfect.
Did I mention we went to Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine? We did. :)
- While on vacation, I read Orwell's 1984. It's much more frightening than I remember it to be (way back in 1984). Depressing, too. I noticed something that kind of escaped my attention back then: there is no God to the people of Oceania, unless you count Big Brother. Religion is mentioned only in passing, when speaking of the past when capitalists and priests were so oppressive. But everything there seemed to be a twisting of the Truth - a twisting of Catholicism - right down to the "sex is only for making babies and that's it and don't have any fun at it" mentality.
I also noticed that the people were quite accepting of the bread and circuses they were fed daily by the telescreen in their homes and the telescreens in the streets. (The constant noise was one dehumanizing method, and I believe the Church has spoken many times on the need for quiet reflection and mental rest. In other words, silence.) I couldn't help but think about how noisy our world is - noisy to the point that our minds cannot rest or settle on a single topic or thought for more than a fleeting moment.
- The soothing balm I read next was Father Elijah, which, while it's apocalyptic, still has the Church leading her children in those times, even under persecution. Orwell didn't see the Church surviving, but Catholics know that "the gates of Hell cannot prevail against it." So while it was an end-times book, it was one with great hope in it.
- The other soothing balm - or even the key to avoiding Orwell's frightening world - is the new encyclical. You know, even if you're not Catholic, the encyclicals are wonderful lessons. The Holy Father writes them for everyone, not just Catholics - and, Catholics, not just for the clergy! I'm working my way through the encyclical, albeit slowly, and highlighting as I go. I've avoided reading much of anything about it, and I am also avoiding reading it to verify what I believe. I am certain that I am going to learn something here and have to change my viewpoint to fit what the Holy Father teaches here. And that is why I'm reading it as a Catholic - not a Republican or a conservative or a capitalist. If you read it, you should do the same. Read it with an open mind. (I'd suggest doing that with any encyclical, but Justice and Peace stuff is especially important in that way. We cannot look to it for the condemnation of our perceived enemies, only for the condemnation of our own flawed beliefs.)
- Speaking of learning, we're gearing up to write out lesson plans for the coming school year. I'm going to be getting Big Girl's books and lessons in the next week, and I've already got Little Girl's. I finally decided to just go back to set curricula to help me keep my sanity and to keep them on a decent academic track. Yes, I know my final goal is Heaven, not Harvard, but at the same time, I must do justice to their schooling. It's my vocation - not the Apple stuff - and I am expected by Someone to do a good job. My girls are, quite frankly, smarty-pants kids. I don't want to waste that with crummy schooling when they are capable of much more. Until we're done with Baby Step 2 and well on the way with Baby Step 3, I need help with having my lessons ready-to-go.
One other nice thing is that Travel Man (who is not traveling as much) wants to teach each girl one subject - their choice - as well as work on a unit on Knights and the Crusades. I'm not unaware that I am truly blessed by God when it comes to my spouse. Not only does he "allow" the homeschooling, he supports it and participates. I know plenty of women who either don't homeschool because their husbands say no or who homeschool under duress because their husbands think it's not right. It's a shame, and I thank God all the time for my wonderful husband. (Sometimes I think that if anyone is working off their Purgatorial time here on earth, it's him.)
- Can I show off a bit? I got a camera for Christmas, and I've got some pictures that I'm kind of proud of that I'd like to share. You can see more (gradually, as Flickr lets me upload to my free account) here. I also put them up at MobileMe, and you can see them here (in case Flickr is stingy with that free account). In case you're wondering, I haven't retouched these pictures at all.
- Video time! :) I like leaving that as my last item, so here's something to watch this fine Friday afternoon. (I have to say that I was on vacation when this happened, so this is the only news I have seen on the pope's meeting with our president.)