Monday, July 31, 2006

Day One At the Fair

I can't believe all the purple ribbons that came home with us. (Purple ribbons are Best of Show.)

Teen Son got Best of Show, third year in a row, for his creative writing. The best part about having your children enter their writing at the fair is that someone other than Mom is judging their work. The one and only thing that annoys me about Teen Son's writing is his over use of adjectives. Well, sure enough, the judge wrote in his extensive comments that the one thing that Teen Son needs to work on is his over use of adjectives. The cool part though is that the judge was really impressed with the 67-page, fictional story and said that he was sure Teen Son will someday be a published author. That's great news, considering that he's planning on majoring in journalism when he gets to college.

Other Best of Shows went to Teen Daughter for jams and also for dehydrating. Tween daughter got Best of Show for paper quilling. And there were blue ribbons all around. There were also a couple of red ribbons, and Teen Daughter got a white ribbon because, even though her scrapbooking project was beautiful, she didn't follow the 4-H guidelines. A good lesson for everyone.

Except for writing, you can talk with the judges as they critique your projects. I really like that. I think the kids got lots of great advice that they'll apply to next year's projects.

Tomorrow is supposed to be in the upper 90's, so I'd appreciate a prayer or two. I promised that we would spend the day doing loads of rides (1/2 price on Tues.) and then we have the shooting sports awards. Fun!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Confessions of a Homeschooler

Make sure to check out Mary Jo Thayer's latest Confessions of a Homeschooler columns. There's a new column every week.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Quiltmakers Gift

Teen Daughter and I went to the library recently to search for a quilt book that would help her finish her Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt and we found a real treasure. We found More Quilts from The Quiltmaker's Gift.

The Quiltmaker's Gift is a lovely picture book that I picked up for the girls last Christmas. It's the fable of an old woman who makes the most beautiful quilts in all the kingdom. Many people come to her seeking to purchase her handiwork, but she tells them that her quilts are only for the poor and the homeless. They are not for sale.

When the greedy king hears of her beautiful quilts, he decides that he absolutely must have one. He has all the treasures of the world but is still unhappy. Perhaps this one last treasure will finally make him happy. But the quiltmaker refuses him. He tries all kinds of schemes to get her to relent, but he fails each time.

Finally, the quiltmaker agrees to make a quilt for the king, on one condition. He must give away all his posessions to the poor. Consumed with desire for the quilt, he agrees. He's so rich that it takes years for him to give away everything. When he finally returns to the old woman to claim his quilt, he's already found the happiness that eluded him for so long. He found it not in the quilt but in giving to others. It's a great story.

Throughout the picture book are all sorts of lovely quilts in the illustrations. This inspired the book, Quilts from The Quiltmaker's Gift (which I have not seen) and the sequel More Quilts from The Quiltmaker's Gift. It's not only a gorgeous book, but very useful. It has all the instructions that you need to make 19 quilts, plus the history behind them.

One of these days I'd like to write a unit study on quilts. Wouldn't that be cool. But then, it may already be written. I'll have to Google it.

PS I'm at my wits end with Blogger. I uploaded graphics of the book covers and then they disapeared. If you want to see the books, and read reviews, click on the links on the titles.

Prepping for the 4-H Fair

If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.

The last couple of weeks have been crazy at my house. The county fair is next week and the kids signed up for about for a zillion, give or take a million, craft projects to enter in the 4-H part of the fair.

If I were a good homeschooling mother, I would have planned ahead and had the children spread out their projects over the school year. Instead, we're getting them all done at the last minute.

We've made tie-dye shirts, painted shirts, beady bugs, stepping stones, fleece blankets, and so much more. We had to forgo metal punching and glass etching due to lack of time. Everything has to be turned in for judging tonight and tomorrow, except for creative writing which was turned in two weeks ago.

Teen daughter is in the kitchen right now making her cake to enter. Then she still needs to finish her quilt. I'm praying that her guardian angels help guide her needle so it's done in time.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ecce Homo Press

Ooh, ooh, the new Ecce Homo catalog came today and it had a $2 off coupon inside. Now I have to buy something!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Life of Fred

While at the CO conference, Teen Daughter was very excited to show me a new series of books. I assumed that it was some fun girl literature that she was dragging me to see. Imagine my surprise when we got to the vending table and I saw math books.

It was the new series, Life of Fred by Stanley F. Schmidt, Ph.D. The lessons are taught through the story of a 6-year-old genius boy named Fred Gauss. (Heart and Mind did a review of the series and gave it the thumbs up.)

I bought the algebra book and Teen Daughter got right to work. In fact, she worked through several lessons as we drove back to Michigan. If this continues through the school year, this will be my new favorite textbook series. If you can get kids to enjoy the learning process, most of the work is done for you.

Dr. Schmidt gave a couple of talks at the conference and I heard that they were great. Last I checked tapes were not up at the CO website. I'm dying to hear them. I'll let you all know when they're available for sale.

UPDATE: Click here.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Berry Picking and Canning

One of the many great things about 4-H is that it gets us out of the city and into the country. A few weeks ago, we went strawberry picking on the way home from archery practice. We picked 20 lbs. to make loads of strawberry jam and fruit roll-ups.

Today after muzzle loading competition we stopped for blueberry picking. I've put a few in the freezer for future munchies. They're like candy right out of the freezer. Over the next day or two the kids and I will make blueberry jam, sauce, coffee cake, and maybe some pancakes in the morning.

The thing about picking your own berries is that they are so way better than store-bought. Much sweeter and juicier. Not as big or full of color, but yummier.

On a similar note, I'll be blogging on canning for the next week over at The Thrifty Homeschooler.

PS I was going to post pictures from today's competition, but the batteries went dead in the camera. Boo-hoo.

St. Mary Magdalene

Today is the feast day of my patron, St. Mary Magdalene.

Learn what you can about her. She is so much more interesting than Dan Brown's version. I'm particularly fond of Amy Welborn's book, De-Coding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Lies and Legends.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A New Season

I've entered a new season in my life. After almost seventeen years of diaper changing, my "baby" is finally potty trained. There were moments when I wondered if I would ever get to this point. But it's here now and it is bitter sweet.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

3-D Archery

Yesterday was spent in the woods with the four biggest kids as they competed in 3-D archery.

3-D is usually used by hunters. You walk a trail and shoot at 3-D animal forms (30 targets altogether). The animals are marked where the kill zone would be on the real animal. Points are scored when you hit the kill zone. In some competitions, you receive negative points if you hit the animal but miss the kill zone. This is because in a real hunting situation you wouldn't want to injure an animal, perhaps causing a slow painful death. Zero points are awarded if you miss altogether.

The kids all did great. In fact, most bested their best scores. The award ceremony isn't until the county fair in two weeks. But I'm sure that there will be a medal or two coming home with us. There will certainly be blue ribbons all around.

Traveling Artisans

The Brown family stopped by for a visit on their way to Ann Arbor on Tuesday. They were on their way to an art show where they would be showing Mike's creations. Mike is an awesome photographer. If you like owning original artwork, you should check out his photography.

To see pictures of me, Nancy, one of my bestest friends Linda, and all our kids, go to Nancy's blog.

Today we drove to Ann Arbor to check out the art show and had a great time. Hopefully, Nancy and Mike won't post the picture they took of me wearing the silly hat that the kids put on me!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It's a Small World

You never know who you'll run into in the blogosphere. I paid a visit to Steve Ray's blog yesterday and there was a picture of our friend Fr. Gerald. I didn't even know that Fr. Gerald had already gone on the pilgrimage.

Now, wouldn't that be cool - to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Steve Ray? Way too cool!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day Nine: Holy Family Novena

Click here for the prayers.

Keeping Joshua's Family in Prayer

In case you haven't already read this elsewhere on the blogosphere. From the Stuebenville alumni newsletter (thank you Linda for emailing this to me):

Please remember Andrew and Regina (Doman '92) Schmiedicke MA '97 and their family in your prayers. Andrew and Regina's little boy, Joshua Michael, four, died in a tragic accident July 8, 2006.

There is a website set up with Regina's eulogy -

Also, on Martin Doman's website, there is an address to send donations to help Andy and Regina buy a new vehicle -

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sunday, July 16, 2006

NRA Mama

This is a busy week for us with 4-H shooting sports competitions. We had target archery on Saturday. 3-D archery is Wednesday and muzzle loading this coming Saturday. Then we'll have the 4-H county fair and after that we'll be off to the 4-H state shoot. That's not the end of it. There will be MYHEC competition a couple of weeks after that. I guess I've turned into the 4-H / NRA version of a soccer mom.

MYHEC is the Michigan chapter of YHEC: Youth Hunter Education Challenge. It's a great program through the NRA. The kids need to learn how to shoot shotgun, .22, muzzle loader, and archery. They also have to walk a hunter safety trail, tested on animal identification and orienteering. In fact, they learn so much about animal identification and orienteering that you could count it as nature science on a portfolio.

Day Seven: Holy Family Novena

Click here for the prayers.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Day Six: Holy Family Novena

Click here for the prayers.

New Location for Catholic Homeschool Blog Directory

In order to make the directory more accessible, Esther has moved the Catholic Homeschooling Blog Directory to Blogger. If you've already bookmarked the directory, you'll need to change it to . I discovered some cool new blogs there, including one for homeschooled teenagers.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Day Five: Holy Family Novena

Click here for the prayers.

Lit Book Update

I'm so excited. My proofreader (good friend and fellow author Nancy Brown) returned the manuscript of For the Love of Literature to me this morning. It's covered in red marks (which is a good thing). I can't wait to get all the corrections made and the book off to the publisher. Though, I'm thinking of adding a last minute chapter on "How to Build Your Own Literature Unit Study."

And Mike Aquilina agreed to write the Foreword for me -- now that's exciting!

Drama Diva Comes Home Today!

My beautiful 12-year-old daughter stayed behind in St. Louis to visit with family. It's been ten days since we left her and we've all been missing her something fierce. It's funny how much it throws off the family dynamic when one family member is missing. Yep, even when there are seven kids. She's at the St. Louis airport as I type and her plane will be taking off within the half hour. I can't wait to have her safely on the ground in Michigan and in my arms

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Day Four: Holy Family Novena

Click here for the prayers.

The Fathers of the Church Expanded

My favorite book on the Early Church Fathers comes from Mike Aquilina. Mike's done us all a wonderful favor and greatly expanded The Fathers of the Church. It'll be available for purchase in September. If you're planning the school year for your bright high school child, I would say that this is essential reading. (It's often used as a textbook in universities.) For more detailed information about the additions to the book, go to Mike's blog. To order it, call OSV at 1-800-348-2440 and make sure to tell them that you want the new, expanded version.

PS to my sister. This would be a great gift for a pastor husband!

Dayton 2007 Conference

I'll be speaking in Dayton, Ohio May 18 and 19 in 2007. Also booked are Dr. Mary Kay Clark and Rita Munn. This is a big move for Dayton as they go from a simple curriculum fair to a full blown conference. If you're in the area, make sure to check it out.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Day Three - Holy Family Novena

Click here for the prayers.

Tattoos and Piercings in the Neighborhood

Yesterday I pull into my driveway, with the youngest four kids in the van, to find my new neighbor's SUV in my driveway. He had a stump to pull out of his yard and the best angle was from my drive. So, he walks up to my van window to tell me what he's doing, sans shirt, and this is the conversation that was going on behind me. (Mind you, not soft and gentle, but very loud with a sense of awe in their tone.)
Whoa, look at that man's tattoos.
That's a lot of tattoos.
That's gross.
Check out the scorpion.
Wow, a scorpion.
Mom, Mom, see the scorpion.
Mommy, why does the man have an earring in his nursy?
That's gross.
Men don't have nursies silly. They have nipples.
Mommy, Mommy, why does the man have an earring in his nipple?
Mom sure would be mad if I ever did that.
This is my life.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Weekly Catholic Homeschool Column

One of my dearest friends, Mary Jo Thayer, has a weekly homeschool column. You've got to check it out here: Confessions of a Homeschooler. Mary Jo is witty and wonderfully honest as she writes about her homeschool experiences.

Mary Jo is also a contributing author to The Catholic Homeschool Companion and a contributor to Heart and Mind Magazine. She also writes and speaks on human sexuality in the context of Church teaching. I've been to her talks and she does an outstanding job.

Day Two: Holy Family Novena

Click here for the prayers.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Day One: Holy Family Novena

This is a very simple novena. The prayer is the same each day.

Novena Prayer:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of loving Holy Church as I should, above every earthly thing, and of ever showing my love by deeds.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of openly professing as I should, with courage and without human respect, the faith that I received as your gift in holy Baptism.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of sharing as I should in the defense and propagation of the Faith when duty calls, whether by word or by the sacrifice of my possessions and my life.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of loving my family and others in mutual charity as I should, and establish us in perfect harmony of thought, will, and action, under the rule and guidance of the shepherds of the Church.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of conforming my life fully as I should to the commandments of God’s law and those of His Holy Church, so as to live always in that charity which they set forth.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I ask in particular this special favor:
Please shower blessings upon our homeschooling community. Help our families to be strong in faith and love, and to do God's work. Help our homeschools to be places filled with grace and joy. Bless our marriages and bring us closer to you each day. Please also bless abundantly the family of Joshua Michael, especially in this time of need.

Dedication of One’s Family:
Most loving Jesus, by Your sublime and beautiful virtues of humility, obedience, poverty, modesty, charity, patience, and gentleness, You blessed with peace and happiness the family which You chose on earth. In Your mercy look upon my family. We belong to You, for we have received Your many blessings over many years and we entrust ourselves to Your loving care.

Look upon my family in Your loving kindness, preserve us from danger, give us help in time of need, and grant us the grace to persevere to the end in imitation of Your holy Family, so that having revered You and loved You faithfully on earth, we may praise You eternally in heaven.

Mary, dearest Mother, to your intercession we have recourse, knowing that your Divine Son will hear your prayers. Glorious patriarch, Saint Joseph, help us by your powerful prayers and offer our prayers to Jesus through Mary’s hands. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, being subject to Mary and Joseph, You sanctified family life by Your beautiful virtues. Grant that we, with the help of Mary and Joseph, may be taught by the example of Your holy Family, and may after death enjoy its everlasting companionship.

Lord Jesus, help us ever to follow the example of Your holy Family, that in the hour of our death Your glorious Virgin Mother together with Saint Joseph may come to meet us, and we may be worthy to be received by You into the everlasting joys of heaven. You live and reign forever. Amen.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Prayers Needed

Please pray fervantly for Catholic author Regina Doman, her husband Andrew, and their family. Their four year old son Joshua Michael died in a car accident yesterday.

There is a picture of Joshua and note from Regina at her website.

Novena for Homeschool Families

It seems to me that the devil has been hitting Catholic homeschool families hard lately. I know of several families currently struggling with pending divorce. Of course, satan is always going to hit those doing the Lord's work the hardest. And we Catholic homeschoolers are doing no less than the Lord's work.

With that in mind, I hope that you all will join me in praying a novena for our Catholic homeschooling community, particularly our marriages.

I'll post a reminder everyday, starting tomorrow (Monday), for nine days. EWTN always has great novenas and they're easy to link to, so I'll probably choose something that I find there. Unless, of course, one of my gentle readers has a better idea. If you know the perfect novena for us to pray together, please leave a comment here or drop me an email.

The Catholic Homeschooling Blog Directory

If you'd like a one stop place that links you to loads of Catholic homeschool blogs, here's the place: Catholic Homeschooling Blog Directory.

If you have a blog yourself, there's an email link to have your blog added to the directory.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Pro-Life Democrat

We have a dear friend, Patrick Baker, who is running for the state house here in Michigan. He's a rock solid Catholic and pro-life to the core, as well as a former homeschooler. He's also a Democrat. While conservative on issues such as abortion, stem-cell research, and marriage, he is clearly a liberal when it comes to everything else.

My political leanings could be described as Libertarian. Apart from Patrick's stand on social issues, I am strongly opposed to most of his political positions.

Here's the complication. We live in the city, just a couple of miles from downtown. A Republican has not been elected in our district since the 1960's. Not even close. And trust me, no Libertarian has ever been elected. Whoever wins the Democratic primary in August wins the election in November.

So, what would you do? Help your friend as much as possible through November? Help him through the primary and then throw your energies elsewhere after August? Or would you say, "I'm sorry but I can't help you at all."

I'll let you know what Rob and I decided in a few days.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Too Funny

My friend Lynne sent this cartoon to me. If you homeschool, you've got to check it out.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Steve Wood Interview to Replay

I'm writing from St. Louis where I'm visiting family. Sorry that I haven't made time to blog while here. I'll be home in a couple of days and should be back on schedule then.

In the meantime, my interview with Steve Wood is being replayed tomorrow. So tune into EWTN radio (or stream online) on Thursday, July 6 at 2:00 ET / 1:00 CT if you can. This is a good show to have your friends and relatives listen to, as Steve asked a lot of questions that would come from people who worry about pitfalls in homeschooling. CD's of the interview can be purchased at Steve's Faith and Family website.