Sunday, December 31, 2006

Cathy Duffy Reviews the Companion

Cathy Duffy has a review of The Catholic Homeschool Companion at her website.

I love reading the reviews because everyone has a different take on the book. It's interesting to learn what people like, and dislike, about your book.

And make sure to check out Cathy's other reviews while you're at her website.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Christmas season lasts until the Epiphany, Jan. 6. So, if you haven't gotten those Christmas cards out yet, it's okay. You still have a week!

We're Home!

Got home very late last night. Rob is already off this morning with the four older kids to Adoration. I reminded them as they walked out the door to give thanks for a blessed Christmas, as well as for all their presents.

And it was a very blessed Christmas. We got to spend time with most of our family. A few couldn't make it in town, but they were there in spirit.

I'd like to thank my sister Eileen for her hospitality. It takes quite the hostess to house a family of nine for a full week and do it with such grace. Whenever we stay with Eileen, which is quite often, we feel as comfortable as we do in our own home.

Thanks also to my sister-in-law Peggy who hosted the Wittmann celebration on Christmas Eve. The food and everything was great!

Thanks to Aunt Kay, who fed the weary travelers as we passed through Indianapolis on the way home. We stopped for a minute to say "hi" and she couldn't let us leave without first treating us to lunch and a lovely visit. If there's one thing you can say about my family it's that they're a hospitable bunch -- they treat you as though Jesus Himself was at the door.

It was a very blessed Christmas indeed, and I look forward to the New Year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Call for Entries

The Carnival of Homeschooling is celebrating their one-year anniversary next week. How fun! Help them prepare by sending in your favorite blog entry: Carnival of Homeschooling Submissions.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Writing in Books?

If you're a Mortimer Adler fan, particularly of How to Read a Book, you may like this article: How to Mark a Book.

If you resell all your books after you read them once, this isn't the article for you.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Early Christmas Wishes

Spent the morning having family pictures taken. If you'd like to see some, just click here.

We're leaving town for Christmas in the morning, so blogging may be little to nil over the next 10 days.

I'll remember to keep you all in prayer during these joyous days.

May your Christmas be filled with many blessings!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Santa Drives an SUV

Rob took the littles to a Christmas party at church. They had a great time and were breathless with excitement when they got home. Especially Super Boy, our 4-year old. He told me all about how he met and chatted with Santa. But then he added, "Except, he wasn't the real Santa. I saw him get in an SUV and drive away."

We all know the real Santa drives a sleigh!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

March for Life Here We Come!

Anyone else going to the March for Life in January? Would be cool to meet up with some friends while we're there.

Monday, December 18, 2006

PopeStNick5: The Thrill of the Chaste

To read past library recommendations, or to join the email list, visit: Pope Saint Nicholas V.

Check to see if this title is already in your library's catalog. If it is, put a hold on it and check it out. If not, fill out a patron request form right away. This can usually be done online at your library's website.

Title: The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your
Clothes On

Author: Dawn Eden
Publisher: W Publishing
Date Published: December 2006
ISBN: 084991311X
Price: 13.99

YouTube video clip

Alive and Young review

Author's blog

The Thrill of the Chaste Official Website

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Beautiful Christmas Graphics - Free

My friend Dani does awesome work as a computer graphics designer. She has some beautiful Christmas graphics available at her blog. Go check it out!

Tess Arrives

Congratulations to the Fry Family on the birth of Baby Tess! Kim and Tess are doing great after the home birth. Give them a visit at the Starry Sky Ranch to see loads of great pics!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Remember That Time When You and Me . . .

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of this blog.

In honor of this momentus occasion, I borrowed a meme from Darwin Catholic.

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, even if we don't speak often, please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL MEMORY OF YOU AND ME.

It can be anything you want--good or bad--BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE.

When you're finished, post this paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sample Challenge Letters

I'd like to share a letter written to my library regarding It's Perfectly Normal from my friend Mary Jo, aka Mom with a Message. Mary Jo speaks on the topic of human sexuality and her letter reflects her expertise:

Please remove the book "It's Perfectly Normal" from your juvenile shelves! It contains pornographic and sexually mature text and graphics that no child in the latency period should be reading. As the mother of four children and a human sexuality educator, I find it appalling that CADL has this book on its shelves, where innocent children can be introduced to things beyond their years. This book usurps the rights of parents and the privilege that parents have to tell their own children about the beauty of sexuality when the parents deem appropriate. I eagerly await your response and your assurance that this book has been removed from your shelves, and not just put into the adolescent section where teen boys and girls can further their interests in premature sexual activity. This book could lead some to an addiction to pornography, which is downgrading to the human race. I am hoping that CADL acts responsibly to the numerous requests it will get from parents about this abhorrent book. There is NOTHING normal about any book which seeks to rob children of their innocence and that which forces parents to give information to their children out of fear that if they don't, their children will be "molested" by their own public library, which should be a safe place for all.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What Christmas Movie Are You?

I admit it, I was in love with Peter Brady in the 60's.

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Very Brady Christmas

For you, it's all about sharing times with family.
Even if you all get a bit cheesy at times.

Hat Tip: Minnesota Mom

The Companion for Christmas

If you'd like The Catholic Homeschool Companion in time for Christmas you can still get that order in. I'm going out of town for Christmas, so I can only mail books through the 21st. All books are autographed. If you'd like it personalized, please leave a comment when you place your order.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Perfectly Normal???

Please pray for my friend Linda. She's meeting with the board of her library on Thursday to ask them to remove the book It’s Perfectly Normal, written by Robie Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley. Linda stumbled upon the book when she was browsing the children's section. Thank goodness it wasn't her child who found it!

The book, if you're not familiar with it, is a sex manual for children. Linda, of course, immediately brought it to the library's attention. The library responded by moving it to the young adult (teen) section. Linda appealed the decision and asked that it be removed completely.

Here are some articles on the book:
Commentary: 'It's Perfectly Normal' to Corrupt Children by Lee Duigon

ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture

Planned Parenthood: It's Perfectly Normal

I encourage all of you to check your library's card catalog to see if they have this book on its shelves. If so, email them immediately and ask them to remove the book from the library altogether. At the very least, it should moved to the adult section. Then ask all your friends, neighbors, and family to do the same.

If you don't know how to contact your library, check here: LibWeb

Saturday, December 09, 2006

New Catholic Mom Column

If you haven't seen Lisa's website,, give her a visit. She has loads of resources and lots of regular columnists. She just picked up my Thrifty Homeschooler column from Heart and Mind. It's quite the honor.

Lisa will post a new column each month. If you'd like to check it out:

Proud Mom Moment

Thursday was our 4-H shooting sports club's Wild Game Dinner. It's a big event that includes the annual awards. Sparky earned an award for animal identification and Buster earned his Pro-Marksman certificate.

The proudest moment came when Teen Son tied for Shooter of the Year. This award is based on much more than shooting scores. It also includes leadership skills, sportsmanship, and community service.

The picture is of the three oldest kids with one of their 4-H leaders. We are really blessed to have great leaders!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Birthday

Today, Tween Daughter becomes Teen Daughter 2. Yep, I now have 3 teenagers living in my house. I know I should be afraid, very afraid, but I'm not. So far, teenagerdom has been no more difficult than the other stages. Oh sure, the bigger they get, the bigger the potential trouble. We all know teens who have gotten into trouble with cars, dating, or drugs. But so far, through an awful lot of prayer, we've forgone those kinds of trouble.

I imagine that Teen Daughter 2 will be the kind of teen who will make her mother proud. I must admit that she certainly has a mind of her own, but that's a good thing isn't it. She's a beautiful young lady and well grounded. She's helpful around the house, self-motivated in her school work, and a good example to her little sister and brothers.

One of Teen Daughter 2's birthday gifts will be a chastity ring, as it was for Teen Daughter 1 on her 13th birthday. Rob will take her to the Catholic gift store and they'll pick it out together. I think it's an important ritual - one of the things we do to help her along in this new stage of her life.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Update on the Life of Fred

A few months ago I blogged on The Life of Fred math textbooks, and figured it was time for an update.

But first, a refresher. They're written in story form. Lessons are taught through the tale of a genius child by the name of Fred. They’re self-published and far from great literature, but I do know of kids who love them and have learned a great deal from them.

When we attended the Colorado conference this last summer, Teen Daughter fell in love with them and worked in the Beginning Algebra book all the way home to Michigan and through the beginning of the school year.

Now, months later, she's ditched poor Fred for John. John H. Saxon, Jr. that is. Yep, she's back to Saxon. I asked her why, and she told me, "Life of Fred just didn't explain things well enough for me." She is the daughter of a former math geek, so maybe Saxon appeals to her for it's straight forward approach. She's also the daughter of an editor and writer, evident by her next comment, "He also needs an editor. Bad!"

There is another update on these textbooks. There is some innuendo, and fleeting references to drugs and drinking, in the Beginning Algebra text. They went over my head upon my first reading. (I suppose I'm not as worldly as I imagined.)

I have mixed feelings about these references. First, they need to be taken in context. Fred, the boy genius, is fighting bad guys and bad guys sometimes deal in drugs. Also, the author, Dr. Schmidt, is a good Christian man (I've met him personally) who is writing for public school kids as well as homeschooled kids.

On the other hand, is it really a math book's place to make social commentary? Do I really want my kids coming to me asking, "What is strip poker?" or "What is a meth lab?" It's bad enough they're introduced to the evils of the world in so many other places. Can't I at least have a safe harbor in our math studies? But then, my permanent black marker can work wonders.

I'll leave it up to you to decide if Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra is worth your money. If you're thinking about purchasing the text for your homeschool, get a copy in your hands so you can judge for yourself. Either check out a friend's copy, or look at it when you attend your next homeschooling conferences.

Now, here are those references, with page numbers:
23: "After the first evening that they played, the students realized that they had better not play for their usual stakes of quarters. Fred had cleaned them out. If it had been strip poker, Fred would have owned a lot of clothes much too large for himself."

165: "Fred and Jack had finished their Sunday afternoon jog. A couple of hours were enough for their first run together. They passed the other eleven recruits who were in the rec hall into their third hour of watching reruns of "As the Girl Churns" on television."

165: "This truck was carrying grass . . . the lawn kind. Maybe that's why it was operating during the daytime."

167: "The Colonel moved several six-pound bags of white powder from the top of his desk into a desk drawer and came right to the point, "I hear that you know something about math and measurements. Is that true?""

250: "An empty beer can flew out of the window and in several seconds it was quiet again."

272: "Jack rang the bell at the Colonel's mansion and they were greeted by the maid with her breathy voice, "Hi boys!" This use of "boys" seemed strange to Jack since he was 22 years old and she seemed about six years younger than he."

273: "There were chemistry books which surprised the chaplain. They were mostly lab manuals telling how to make certain, possibly illicit, chemicals and how to avoid having the lab explode when dealing with volatile liquids such as ascetone. He remembered that when the maid had brought them to the library they had passed a steel-plated door with "M-Lab" painted on the door. He knew it didn't stand for Methodist Lab."

(Addendum: Yet another update -- Life of Fred 2nd edition removes or changes some of these references.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Eight Times Seven

Occasionally, when people first discover we homeschool, they take it upon themselves to quiz my children. And when they discover that the children are not complete idiots, they more-than-not show shock and surprise.

Once, many years ago, Rob took the kids to the library where he ran into an acquaintance. Upon learning the children were homeschooled, he set to testing them. Elated at their positive answers, he thought he had come up with a question sure to stump them. He turned to my 8-year-old son and said, "I'm going to give you the hardest multiplication question in the world. If you get it right, I'll give you a dollar!" Taking a dollar from his wallet, he asked, "What's 8 times 7?" Well, before 8-year-old son could utter a sound, our 4-year old jumps up and down exclaiming, "56, it's 56!!!"

The man, absolutely blown away, gives 4-year-old daughter the dollar. (Said son is still mad about being ripped off.) Rob gets home and, beaming from ear to ear, can't tell the story fast enough to me. He didn't realize what a genius his child was. But then she has great genes! Maybe this homeschooling thing works after all!

I then had to burst Rob's bubble and tell him that 8 times 7 was the ONLY math fact 4-year-old daughter knew. If the man had asked her 1 times 1, she probably would've said 2. You see, we had this multiplication cassette tape from Scholastic that we listened to in the car. There was this one song with only the words, "8 times 7 is 56" over and over again. Said daughter sang it all the time.

I wonder if, nine years later, that man is still telling the story to all his friends about the genius homeschooled 4-year old.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Great Grandfather

Ana and Alicia asked to hear the story of my great grandfather's conversion, so I better tell it.

My great grandfather was a Mason, and a high ranking Mason at that. In fact, some years ago we were contacted by the Masons looking for pictures of him, as they were putting together some kind of anniversary thing.

Anyway, my great grandfather was also rabidly anti-Catholic. Or, anti-papist, as he might have stated. But he fell in love with a cute little babe who happened to be Catholic. Infatuated by her, he was able to overlook that horrid flaw and asked her to marry him.

He allowed her to practice her religion, so long as it didn't affect him. She went to Mass every Sunday while he stayed home. She never asked him to convert, but she did pray for his conversion. Each and every day.

For fifty years she prayed. Then, as he lay dying, she called for a priest without telling her husband. The priest showed up and dear old Great Grandfather went into a rage. The story goes that he used some, let us say, less than charitable words that I can't repeat on a family blog.

But then, something happened. A few hours passed and it was clear the end was immanent. Great Grandpa humbled himself and asked Great Grandma to call the priest back.

Just before he died, he was baptized, received his first Communion, and received the Anointing of the Sick.

The power of prayer is great. The hard part is waiting for God's answer. His time is not always our time, is it? I don't know if I could've kept the faith for 50 years. It would've been much easier to give up. If you're praying for someone special, don't give up. These things take time.

Friday, December 01, 2006

December Catholic Homeschool Carnival!

The December edition of the Catholic Homeschool Carnival is up at O Night Divine, and it's awesome!

This month we prepare, together, for Christmas. Be sure to leave Mary Ellen a comment. She's done an awesome job!

If you want to get ahead of the game and submit a blog entry to January's carnival, just go here.