Oh, Dearest Mother, Sweetest Virgin of Altagracia, our Patroness. You are our Advocate and to you we recommend our needs. You are our Teacher and like disciples we come to learn from the example of your holy life. You are our Mother, and like children, we come to offer you all of the love of our hearts. Receive, dearest Mother, our offerings and listen attentively to our supplications. Amen.



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Posted: Dec 10 2007 at 9:49pm | IP Logged  

Letter to Members, Oct. 10, 2007

Dear Members,

Thank you for your kind and prayerful support for us during the retreat and over the years since this message board began. Your appreciation for our efforts over time has never been doubted!

We are very sorry for the abruptness of our retreat and for all misunderstandings related to our recent lack of clarity. We want to explain that our retreat was not taken because of any one challenge. After almost three years of message board growth, the last few weeks reached a point of critical mass related to many growth challenges colliding at once. We admit that we were caught off guard and overwhelmed! We faced an increase in membership with diverse expectations, loss of moderator help, and a need to transition Elizabeth from daily management to a role more fitting the needs of a founder.

While in our closed retreat, we prayed to discern through only each other, more clearly what God wants from us as moderators and for you as members through this online medium. Much of what is found on the message board is working beautifully and we want to keep and encourage all that is good! We also saw the need for a fresh start, seen in our new look, and clarity of purpose. We wrote a new ministry statement that also acts as a Welcome Letter on the homepage with new and updated links to About Us. This more clearly explains our primary focus to help Catholic parent educators and friends who enjoy using Living Books and other child and family friendly methods and materials to design or adapt curriculum. To this end, we re-structured our parent educator forums to include all topics of methods and materials under "A Living Education."

Our secondary focus is to cultivate and nurture our vocation through womanly discussion, shared experiences, and Mother Culture (TM Karen Andreola) renewal. These forums have been consolidated and reformed under "Heart of the Home." We're sure that you will be able to easily identify the consolidations of forums by reading each forum description.      

As moderators, we are much more clear about our limitations and goals for our moderating work individually and as a team. We have written some helpful guidelines for ourselves and members that are located in About Us, and linked through the homepage ministry statement. Please take some time to become familiar with them. We count on you to contribute to the supportive and nurturing atmosphere we hold so dear.

Please accept our apology and forgive us for any and all misunderstandings that have happened on 4Real in the wake of so many changes. We are especially sorry to any members who were caught in the cross-fire of confusion these past few weeks. We have taken full responsibility for our lack of clarity by doing our best to make this message board more clear, helpful, and enjoyable. May this message board be only a blessing for us all.

Love,
The Managers and Moderators of 4Real
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Posted: May 05 2008 at 6:33pm | IP Logged  

Letter to Members, Spring Retreat 2008

Dear Members,

Thank you for your prayers and support as the 4Real moderators joined together for our 2008 Spring Retreat. It was a wonderful opportunity to pray together, work together, and laugh together. We hope that your time away from the board was blessed and we are very happy to be back together with you.

Weve been very busy housekeeping! The Real Learning and More, Across Time and Place, Our Ladys Loom and Home Arts, and Educational Philosophy have been updated in name and/or description to better reflect the content and discussions enjoyed there. Foreign language topics are now in Across Time and Place instead of Cultivating Beauty and Culture. We have removed outdated stickies in several forums. Hidden Treasure has an excellent explanation for how it differs from The Domestic Church forum. The Domestic Church forum will have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sticky topic available within the week. We have also moved some forum moderators to different forums in an effort to better fit their current interests and availability to serve.

On the technical side of the message board, Tim has made, or will soon make, several technical tweaks that will help it to be more attractive and user-friendly. The Trading Post will benefit with new automatic emails to participants. Posts more than 2 months old will be deleted. An email will be sent to the poster 1 week prior to deletion.

Please read our *About Us* documents. You can find them hyper-linked to the homepage ministry statement and here. Several of our documents are clarified and updated. Check out *Courtesy and Confidentiality* for help with how the Private Message (PM) function should and shouldnt be used. You will also find suggestions regarding leaving the forums if that time comes for you, although we hope you wont need this information anytime soon! The Terms of Membership includes new information reiterating our board's non-profit and resource sharing purpose.

One activity to look forward to is a fun and informative interactive tutorial about how to use the 4Real search engine. Look for it in Real Learning and More soon.

We are grateful to you, the members, for giving us the opportunity to continue serving you in this ministry. We hope that the changes that we've worked hard to make will make the time you spend here more fruitful and more enjoyable. We look forward to spending more time with you here at 4Real.

Blessings,
The Moderators
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Posted: June 16 2009 at 11:43am | IP Logged  

Letter to Members, Spring Retreat 2009

Dear Members,

Thank you for your prayers and support as the 4Real moderators joined together for our 2009 Spring Retreat. We were able to spend time refreshing and considering positive ways to continue fostering a spirit of hospitality and inspiration here. It was a prayerful and fruitful time. We hope that your time away from the board was blessed and we are very happy to be back together with you.

As the moderators began this retreat, we looked to Pope Benedict XVI's message, New Technologies, New Relationships. Promoting a Culture of Respect, Dialogue and Friendship issued on May 24, 2009. His message outlined a vision for an online atmosphere of dialogue "rooted in a genuine and mutual searching for truth" that can "promote growth in understanding and tolerance." This vision and his guidance offer this board a great deal of wisdom on how to proceed "in truth, in goodness, and in beauty - that we find happiness and joy."

One of the main purposes of the twice yearly planned retreats is to evaluate how were meeting our goals for this ministry. In prayerful reflection and discernment, we make clarifications and adjustments based on the needs of members and moderators. Please read our new *About Us* documents regarding Prudential Decisions and updates on How We Moderate and Atmosphere of Respect. The *Courtesy and Confidentiality* document offers valuable clarification on sensitive topics such as husbands, priests, and politics.

Though our time of retreat is complete, we continue discerning ways to make this board more welcoming and a place of inspiration and refreshment with ideas for living learning in the heart of our homes. We have several ideas brewing that we hope will add enthusiasm and freshness to the board, especially to the individual subject topics in A Living Education fora. Look for new opportunities in your favorite forum soon.

We are grateful to you, the members, for giving us the opportunity to continue serving you in this ministry. We hope these efforts will make the time you spend here more fruitful and enjoyable. We look forward to spending more time with you here at 4Real.

Blessings,
The Moderators
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Posted: March 23 2010 at 1:03pm | IP Logged  

Letter to Members, Spring Retreat 2010

Thank you all for your prayers and support as the moderators joined together for our invigorating Spring Retreat. The retreat is an opportunity to look at how we've grown and changed and how we can better minister to the Catholic home educating community. We enjoyed praying together and reflecting on the unique ministry this board offers. It's been a fruitful time, and we're excited to share our work with you and join you in conversation again!

The membership of the 4Real Board has evolved over the years, so we felt it was time to take a fresh look at our vision. 4Real is a five-year-old community with roots in a Catholic Charlotte Mason Yahoo group and a shared vision of a family-friendly, faith-enhancing, and academically-rewarding way of life. This board has grown by providing an open door gathering place for Catholic parent educators and friends who want to serve others through mutual giving, especially those who are new to home education or the Catholic Faith.

4Real was built on a vision offering support and practical ideas for a lifestyle of LIVING Learning with an emphasis on Living Books and designing your own curriculum. We are delighted and excited to refocus on this unique vision.

This board welcomes all home educators regardless of educational style used, and it has a particular focus in supporting those families that seek to emphasize LIVING books and design their own curriculum. Those families using an entire pre-packaged curriculum have access to support from specific curriculum providers that those designing their own curriculum do not. We hope you find renewed inspiration and support in conversations that affirm the idea that education is "an Atmosphere, a Discipline, and a Life." Towards that end, we have some delightful announcements to make.

Coming...Monday, April 5...An Unveiling:

  • A Fresh New Look for the Board! That's right! We've done some spring cleaning and are working on a cheery new look for the boards! It is lovely and inspiring, but still under construction. Be watching as we re-open on Easter Monday to our new LOOK!

  • Planning and Ordering Our Days - Are you thrilled finding a new use for a basket or bin? Do you need help figuring out how to connect all the dots and books in your daily lesson plans? Looking for some planning strategies? Inspired by great organizing tools and finds? If so...EXERCISE THOSE TYPING FINGERS! Planning and Ordering Our Days will be a brand new forum dedicated to providing a unique place of support for you, the member, with planning and organizing tools and ideas that assist us in Living our Learning. We look forward to sharing favorite tools and organizing tips, and hope this forum will be a blessing to those who would like to design more of their day or their curriculum.

  • Rabbit Trails topics will merge into other fora. We hope to reinvigorate discussions within Living Learning and we realize that Unit Studies (Rabbit Trails) are just one of the many ways of living out our learning. Please do continue to share your exciting Rabbit Trails with us in appropriate subject specific fora!! Check out this thread for more information!

As a final item, moderators considered carefully the documents the Catholic Church offers her children in regard to Catholic education; it was a welcome learning experience. Moderators sought clarification and guidance from the Church regarding the Waldorf philosophy of education. 4Real has been on a journey seeking clarification regarding Waldorf for some time, but only recently have we recognized the weight of the Church's warnings.

This board is moderated by a group of home educating moms that volunteer their time. We are not theologians, nor do we seek to speak as theologians. We state the teachings and guidance of the Church as needed on the board to clarify any Faith issues, including Church teachings as they relate to educational philosophies.

In light of this, we find it necessary to create a boundary that expresses the Church's warning as it relates to Waldorf pedagogy, offer the Church's statements, and promote individual responsibility in understanding and implementing the Church's words.

Therefore, the 4Real board will not host discussions pertaining to the philosophy or pedagogy of Anthroposophy or Rudolf Steiner programs such as Waldorf. This includes formal or informal schools, Waldorf influenced curriculum, pedagogy and philosophy, Steiner's lectures, and anthroposophical writings.

In certain instances where moderators must exercise judgment, a boundary will be established and conversation may be redirected to practices that are common to other methods of education. Our Trading Post policy will also reflect this policy.

4Real has a strong history of offering a generosity of expression to individual members and their chosen manner of living out home education as well as the philosophies they express. We continue to support this tone, and are so grateful to our members for assisting us over the past 5 years in expressing a rich tapestry of ways to home educate in a Catholic home.

We are grateful to you, the members, for giving us the opportunity to continue serving you in this ministry. We hope that the changes that we've worked hard to make will make the time you spend here more fruitful and more enjoyable. We look forward to spending more time with you here at 4Real.

Blessings,
The Moderators
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Posted: Oct 31 2011 at 8:22am | IP Logged  

Letter to Members, Fall Retreat 2011

Welcome back, friends! Thank you all for your prayers and support as the moderators joined together for a Fall Retreat. Our moderator retreats are super invigorating! We prayerfully consider topics and concerns in depth, and we always enjoy reconnecting over digital food and drinks. Somehow....we end up with links to crazy shoes!   

4Real has many strengths which have allowed it a staying power for 6+ years. This ministry continues to support Catholic home educators that design their own curriculum *outside of the box* with an emphasis on living books. 4Real enjoys a comfortable, welcoming gathering space for sharing ideas; each day we sit down to a cup of tea with whomever comes through the doors. This cozy online space characterizes the 4Real Message Board and the moderators are happy to support and serve this ministry with our digital cup of tea!

Our news:

4Real has linked up with social media outlets, Twitter and Pinterest! That's right! 4Real now tweets and pins! In considering social media, we chose two that could support 4Real while not detracting from our cozy, online conversations.

Twitter is a service that succinctly shares little bursts of information with Followers. Do you value quick updates? Do you like receiving information on your smart phone? Are you busy but want to stay in touch with 4Real? Twitter is for you! We will send out links to topics and keep you up-to-date.

Pinterest is an online version of your old fashioned bulletin board! The 4Real account has 13 digital bulletin boards, one for each Living Learning forum. On these pinboards you will find clipped images that support a lifestyle of living learning: books, liturgical year crafts, organizing ideas, printables and more! Clicking on a pinned image links back to the original source. Are you looking for visual ways to organize or gather ideas? Pinterest is for you!

What a fun adventure joining forces with supportive social media! 4Real will not be joining Facebook, a popular social media platform that specializes in gathering with friends, family, and the world at large, because we specialize in providing a warm, welcoming, stay-awhile digital corner. We'll keep sharing on our digital front porch in a way that keeps with our tradition.

Posting and sharing at 4Real will be the same as it always has been! Members need not feel pressured to join these social media outlets. The rocking chairs on the 4Real front porch work just fine without Twitter and Pinterest.

If Twitter or Pinterest will serve your current needs, consider following us! There are new buttons to help you follow 4Real on the right sidebar of 4Real's homepage!

~ ~ ~

We're excited to announce an upcoming Member Retreat in early November! We all enjoyed our last member retreat so much, that we can't wait to have another! We'll have fun with a Catholic homeschooling meme, and our main topic will be discussing the New Translation of the Mass. There are interesting resources to share and a digital Christmas cookie exchange. Watch for announcements!

~ ~ ~

Finally, there are a couple of changes to forum names that better reflect our board philosophy:

The Early Childhood Learning forum will be renamed Nurturing the Years of Wonder in order to better communicate 4Real's philosophy which supports ideas that nurture young children in growing in good habits, exploring ideas and objects, playing, embracing delights, and the learning that happens within the context of family life.

The Trading Post will be renamed The Community Bulletin Board. You'll still be able to sell and purchase used books and curriculum, and the bulletin board will also be a place to list giveaways, invitations to visit a new blog business, or sales and specials your business may be offering. Read more specifics on the Community Bulletin Board's posting guidelines.

~ ~ ~

Wow! From social media to nurturing childhood, digital cookie exchanges and digital rocking chairs - we've covered a lot of ground! Keep rocking and sharing and sipping your tea! Enjoy the warm, welcoming corner of digital space we call 4Real!

God bless you!

Our Lady of Altagracia, pray for us!

The 4Real Moderators
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