Latin for Dummies. (And 7-year-olds.)

I had a lot of reasons for deciding to homeschool my kids, like I don’t like being told what to do and other people annoy me.

(Also intelligence blah blah blah.)

(Basically other people though. They really bug me.)

But a big part was that I wanted to give my children a classical education that prepared them to be civilized, cultured adults who knew things about a lot of the world and could learn more and discuss things like reasonable people.  I didn’t see a lot of this happening at the schools I had access to, and while there are great options like Aquinas Academy in our area, I was certainly not in a financial position to do those.

And I knew from the beginning that Latin was going to play a huge role in my curriculum. My husband and I have something like eight years of Latin between us, and we both think the fact that the other studied it is adorable.

(Nothing gets me hotter than a properly declined noun.)

I just think there are so many benefits- spiritually as Catholics, culturally as, well, cultured people, and neurologically since it’s totally a foreign language even if it’s dead.

Our daughter is in first grade this year, and the curriculum company we use for most things offers a great early elementary level Latin program. I added it to my cart, broke it up into weekly lesson plans, and got psyched to impart my wisdom on my kid. Ahhh.

And then…it imploded. This program? Is awesome. Really. It is. Check out the Prima Latina program from Seton.

But it is NOT how my seven-year-old currently learns.

It was frustrating to me, since I really wanted this to be a part of our homeschooling. But I didn’t want to squash her love of learning by forcing her to do things she didn’t like when it was clearly not working. But then I’m her teacher so I have to force her to do some things she doesn’t want, so maybe this should be it?

Anyway, by Christmas break, Latin was increasingly getting ignored because I didn’t feel like fighting her to sit down and use a workbook.

I figured we’d have to wait a few years to tackle Latin. I get it, I mean, I was in seventh grade when I started, and my husband was in high school. It wasn’t the end of the world. But I really loved the idea of it being such a part of her life from the beginning. And I knew that other schools (like Aquinas) did it with great success.

So I prayed to the Blessed Mother about it for like two months, and continued ignoring it.

A tiny little idea came to me.

Just teach her the Ave Maria.

I can do that. I’ve taught her literally every other prayer I know. I’ll just teach her the Ave Maria and even if she doesn’t sit down and use the workbook, at least she’ll learn some of the words.

And then I realized- SHE’LL LEARN THE WORDS. Literally, this is how to teach children anything.

(Sometimes I wonder if Mary is sick of my stupidity.)

So I taught her the sign of the cross, and the Ave Maria. And once we did that- amazing things happened.

I realized I could weave Latin through the rest of our school. We recite the prayers together all the time. I sing her the Ave Maria (Gregorian chant version- I do not have a great voice, and it’s the only one that doesn’t make ears bleed when I attempt it.) We practice cursive and handwriting by copying the Latin words.

We even used it as an art class- I write the Latin words and English words on a sheet and the kids cut them out and glue them on to construction paper. I laminate them and put them on a ring and they have a special prayer book to bring with them in the car or to Mass.

There’s no fighting, my kids are learning new things and praying a ton, and even the stuff I was worried about don’t seem to be an issue. I was concerned that they’d just memorize words and never really think about what they mean. But last week my daughter was reading her card and said, “Mulieribus- that means something about women right?”

Heart= warmed.

So that’s the wisdom I’ve picked up from this second year of homeschooling. You can teach your kids things. Hard things. Just make it small and fun and not terrifying. Don’t flip out about it.

And pray. Because Mary will listen to you. Even if you should have been able to figure this out before.

The Scarlet Letter

Dear Governor Walker,

Hey. It’s Kathleen. You probably don’t remember me, but I voted for you. And I put pictures of myself with newspapers celebrating your election on Facebook. And I think you’re kind of cute when I’m drunk.

(But only when I’m drunk.)

ANYWAY. I was totally in your corner. For serious. And I still am! Don’t get me wrong! I still feel that, in general, less government is a good thing and blah blah blah.

But here’s the thing. I work for a state university. And…you honestly couldn’t have held off on calling the frickin’ National Guard until you’d been in office longer and six weeks?

Again, I do understand (if not necessarily totally agree with) the point of your collective bargaining position. But your response to unions should not be “You guys are armed, right?”

I mean, this isn’t 1836 in Manchester.

Because now not only do I have to deal with having voted for you (which I’m not really ashamed about despite the fact that I’m pretty sure I’ll get stoned tomorrow) and feeling like I have to wear a big red R stitched to my chest for “Republican”, but I have to walk through a three hour protest in the middle of the plaza tomorrow.

So. Thanks for that.

Although I have had some wine tonight. So I’m feeling a little bit more in your favor.



It’s cold and the Packers are playing.

Last night my dad got uncharacteristically sentimental and said, “I really hope you don’t stop blogging. I love reading your posts!” Aww! I mean, I get that it’s kind of sad that I’m writing for…my dad. But that’s okay! I’m all right with being sad!

I’ve kind of failed lately, though. I apologize. I mean, really. This is just embarrassing. 2008 I was all about the blogging- EVERY SINGLE DAY. Okay. A lot of them were cat pictures. BUT STILL. 2009- totally rocked it. Fewer cat pictures, even. More paint-fueled rants. BUT STILL. 2010…grad school happened. And…that’s that.

Because I’m tired and cranky and hungry and too tired to eat and inferior and terrified and oddly satisfied with my life ALL THE FREAKING TIME and again the problem of this is mostly a sarcastic whiny blog where occasionally I take time out to laud the beauty of Johnny  Depp and I can’t be sarcastic and whiny about school or my job because I’d like to keep my job that happens to be at my school and well, same reasons go for the Johnny Depp thing.

(And…my dad reads this.)

So over the past few days, I’ve drafted posts about the following in my head.

– My instinctual need to purchase things when I get stressed. Did you know BareMinerals now offers the mineral veil in a COMPACT? So that if perhaps you were a busy grad student stuck on campus for days on end and maybe had sections in the late afternoon for which you had to look halfway decent you could totally touch up without dragging along your entire bathroom drawer? I KNOW.

– My slow realization that since I seem to get along very well with people everyone else in the world hates (like, seriously, let’s be besties!) maybe I’m a horrible person?

– The weather. Or the Packers. Like everyone else in Wisconsin. BUT NOT THE WAY YOU THINK. Yes, it’s cold. I’m sorry for everyone who has to go outside today. Yes, the Packers are playing a very important game on Sunday. And I really hope for all of you who care SO DAMN MUCH that they win. BUT STOP WRITING ABOUT IT AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WOULD YOU ALL CHANGE YOUR PROFILE PICTURES BACK TO YOURSELVES IT MAKES STALKING SIGNIFICANTLY MORE DIFFICULT.

(Okay. This greeted me this morning.)

(So I guess I’m going to whine a little bit.)


– How the e-mail I received announcing that my financial aid had disbursed was not, actually, a reason to screech, “OMG YAY! Let’s go to H&M!” like a fiscally irresponsible howler monkey.

– How I could, conceivably, use the totally awesome LivingSocial $20 Amazon gift card I purchased (for only $10!) to buy textbooks when, in reality, I’m using it to buy either the sixth season of CSI:NY or books that I would just really like to read.  BUT WAIT! I like to read books about things that I also like writing long papers about for school! So it counts! Kind of. A little. You know what? Get off my back.

– How most of these are about my financial irresponsibility.

– My shock at opening this morning (What? I’m not back in school yet.), seeing Orlando Bloom on the cover of Star Tracks and realizing a.) Orlando Bloom is still alive, b.) He drinks coffee, apparently, c.) People still care about Orlando Bloom even eight years after Pirates of the Caribbean. Who knew?

– This conversation that I had with my sister at 9:12 this morning.

*iPhone (currently in the kitchen)  rings* *Caller ID says ‘Colleen Cell’ (currently in the bedroom upstairs)*

Kathleen: Hello?

Colleen: Hey, are you home right now?

Kathleen: Yeah, I’m in the kitchen.

Colleen: Oh. What time are you meeting Mary?

Kathleen: 11. Why?

Colleen: ‘kay. Can you bring me Starbucks?

Kathleen: At 11?

Colleen: Yeah. I was worried I would forget.

Kathleen: Okay. Go back to bed.

Colleen: ‘kay.

And I didn’t write any of them. Until right now. When I mashed them into one big post. That you probably stopped reading about ten minutes ago. YOU’RE WELCOME.