Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Teen Quote

Overheard from the backseat of my car:

Teen Friend, "That book isn't going to corrupt your soul, is it?"
Teen Son, "No."
Teen Friend, "Are you sure?"
Teen Son, "Yeah, it's a good book. There's nothing bad in it."
Teen Friend, "Just checking."

Now that's a good friend.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Kid Quote

S.T., "God told me that I shouldn't eat my vegetables."
Me. "He did?"
S.T., "Yep, God and I talk all the time."
Me, "You do?"
S.T. "Yep, and He says not to eat vegetables."

Homeschooler Goes To School

Child #3 asked to see what it would be like to go to "real" school. She says she's not interested in going forever, just a week. So, today she went off to our parish school. Being Catholic Schools Week, they're planning all kinds of fun activities. Maybe I should have waited for exam week to send her.

I realized getting up at 7:00 this morning, (ugh), that my darling daughter might need a bag lunch. And maybe I should send her with a pencil and some paper. Then there was a debate about whether or not she could take her allergy medicine with her. She couldn't understand why the medicine would have to be given to the school nurse when she is a perfectly responsible 12-year old.

I'll let you know how the week goes. I just hope they don't make me work Bingo Night.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Catholic Schools Week

Many years ago, when my oldest child was entering the first grade, I wondered if he would need to attend CCD classes in order to receive the sacraments. I went to the parish DRE with this question. She responded, "Why would you put your children in CCD? Your children already go to Catholic school."

It took the DRE to point out that my homeschooled children attended a real, true Catholic school. St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of Catholic schools, is also our patron.

Today is the first day of Catholic Schools Week. It's homeschoolers week too. So claim it and celebrate your Catholic school.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Endorsement for the Companion

This has to be the most beautifully written endorsement I've ever received:

"The Catholic Church has been at the forefront of every historic development in education: from the European universities to the thriving system of Catholic schools in the United States. Enriching that ministry of Total Catholic Education is a growing number of parents who homeschool their children. This choice, rooted in sacrificial love, comes with many responsibilities and challenges. Mrs. Wittmann's insightful and inspiring book will be an indispensable help to these Catholic families." -- Reverend Kris D. Stubna, S.T.D., Secretary for Education, Diocese of Pittsburgh

Thank you Fr. Stubna.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Writing and Publishing Workshop

I'm so excited. Michael Aquilina III, who was published at 14, is giving a kid's workshop on writing and publishing at the Pittsburgh conference. Not just on writing, but on getting published!

I love this because when I was a teen, I had two different school counselors tell me to forget about ever being a writer. The first, in 8th grade, told my parents that my dream of being an investigative reporter was just that, a dream, and they needed to get my head "out of the clouds." The second counselor, in 12th grade, was helping me decide on college degree programs. He told me to forget journalism because "there are tons of people out there with journalism degrees who never find jobs as journalists." Neither counselor ever read a single thing that I wrote. It didn't matter if my dream was backed by talent.

For this reason, I started Writers' Club three years ago. Local homeschool kids who want to make a career of writing meet once a month (part of our Teen Wednesdays). They help each other with their current writing projects. My part is to provide a little guidance and insight to the publishing world. Kids need to be given the tools to see their dreams fulfilled rather than being told to get their heads out of the clouds.

PS I gave up the dream at 18 and majored in applied mathematics with a minor in computer science, because that's what the job market commanded. I picked up the dream again in my 40's. I don't have an English or journalism degree, but I do have a Chicago Manual of Style.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pittsburgh Catholic Homeschooling Conference

The Pittsburgh diocese is hosting their first ever Catholic homeschooling conference. And I'm really excited that I've been given the opportunity to participate as a speaker.

The really neat thing is that they will be offering children's activities throughout the day. This is a first for me. I've visited homeschooling conferences all over the country and usually parents are asked to keep young children at home with the exception of nursing babies.

If you're in the Pittsburgh area, make sure to come and visit me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

New Website Almost Complete

My web guy, Kaleb of Mad Hatter Design, has been working like crazy redesigning my Catholic homeschool website. He had all the work just about done and then the cover art for the new book came in. He fell in love with it and, as a result, he completely redid the whole design.

Do you like it? Leave a comment for me and let me know what you think.

To see the whole test website, click here: Maureen Wittmann Test. But don't bookmark it yet, the final URL will be Catholic Homeschooling. And keep in mind that there is still some mopping up to do. Plus Kaleb is going to add a crucifix or rosary to the final design.

If you are ever in need of design work (logo, business card, or website) you should ask Kaleb for a proposal. Not only is he talented, but great to work with.

"Let the Children Come to Me"

Not too long ago, I found myself writing a letter to a reporter from our local newspaper. He had written an article that included the following statement (paraphrased):
The boy's parents knew as Catholics that if they didn't have their dying baby baptized that he would end up in limbo.

Limbo has never been dogma. We don't know that our unbaptized babies are denied heaven.

My friend Linda, sends this article from Zenit on the subject:
Father Cantalamessa on Limbo and the Unbaptized

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Catholic Author Mark Shea's Endorsement

“The Catholic Homeschool Companion is an invaluable resource for any Catholic parent who seeks to form their children, not only in knowledge, but in wisdom and love.” -- Mark Shea, Senior Content Editor, CatholicExchange.com.

Mark is also author of:
By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition
Making Sense Out of Scripture: Reading the Bible As the First Christians Did
This is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence

After Abortion

Keep checking out After Abortion. All kinds of photos and information on yesterday's March.

If you know someone who is suffering after abortion, let him (men suffer too) or her know that there is help. See Rachel's Vineyard for a start.

Monday, January 23, 2006

March for Life

Yesterday was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and today is the March for Life in Washington, DC. Last year my teenagers, along with several of their teenage friends, attended the March. It was a day they will not soon forget. They were deeply moved by the whole experience. They begged to go again this year, but it will have to wait until next year. I look forward to taking them and a busload of their friends in 2007.

Let's keep all the marchers in our prayers today, as well as all women who have had abortions or are considering abortion. Let's especially pray for the conversion of a heart for all those who work so hard to keep the right to choose death for their babies.

The March will be covered live on C-Span from noon to 4 pm. EWTN will be live from 11 am to 4 pm. I believe that is Eastern Time.

Prolife blog to visit:
Check out the links in the right column.

Another one to visit:

Hat tip to Amy Welborn for posting these links at her blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Cathy Duffy Recommends The Catholic Homeschool Companion

The book's first endorsement:
"This is truly the “companion” all Catholic homeschooling families need. Some of the best and brightest Catholics contribute their expertise on a wide range of topics critical for successful homeschooling. In addition to the expected articles on teaching phonics, math, and foreign language, you will learn how to get your teens into college, how to prepare your children for the sacraments, how to use the computer for virtual schooling, how to work with children with special needs such as ADD and autism, and much, much more." -- Cathy Duffy, Author, 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum (Grove Publishing)

The Daily Gospel

Another great daily email is The Daily Gospel.

You can set it up to get all the readings or just psalms. You can also set it up to get emails everyday, Sundays / holy days only, or workdays (Mon-Fri).

It's really lovely to start each morning by reading the psalms.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Good Clean Funnies List

Rob is on a great email list: The Good Clean Funnies. You get an email each working day with a good clean joke. They're hilarious. I just had to pass this one on to you:

My wife and I were sitting in the living room and I said to her, "Just so you know, I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug." She got up, unplugged the TV and threw out all of my beer!

Kid Quote of the Week

"I don't want water. Water is boring!"

Friday, January 20, 2006

Put to the Test

Everything that I've been reading in Gregory Popcak's book about stress was put to the test the other night. When I dropped the big kids off at a friends house and Super Toddler realized that he wasn't joining them, he got very upset. He screamed for the entire 20-minute drive home, "Stop the car Mommy! Stop! Stop! I want to go to Jacob's!" He barely took a breath. I don't know how he didn't end up with laryngitus. I have to admit that when he yelled, "Put on the brakes, Mommy!" I totally cracked up. Like, yeah, I'm going to put on the brakes in the middle of city traffic.

Anyway, I kept Godly thoughts. And it wasn't easy. But I did it. And within minutes of arriving home, he was climbing in my lap cooing, "I love you Mommy, can we cuddle?" I think he was grateful that I didn't kill him.

I'm going to drop Greg an email and ask him to write a new book: God Help Me: This Toddler is Making Me Looney Tunes!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Disciplining with Humor

There is an old Yiddish proverb: What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.

I have a son who has Asperger's syndrome, which is a high-functioning form of autism. He is a great kid, but is prone to meltdowns. And he doesn't respond to discipline in the same way his siblings do.

It's all a very long story, and one day I'll write an article about it, but what I want to share with you today is one of many things that I've learned from this child.

Because I cannot be harsh with him, it will only backfire, I've learned to discipline with humor instead. If he starts acting up, I can usually stop it from escalating into a complete meltdown by making him laugh.

For example, I might tell him, "No laughing allowed in this house young man. You better not even think about laughing." And sure enough, his scowl will disappear and he'll start laughing. Then I'll start laughing. And soon everyone's forgotten any anger. Then I take the opportunity to point out that his previous behavior was wrong. If it is called for, he'll receive a punishment. He is attentive to me and receptive to the discipline because now he feels good. If I reproached him as he was melting down, my words and actions would've been for naught.

This approach not only helps him, but me too. I much prefer laughing over yelling.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tip of the Day: Don't Let the Three-Year Old Carry the Cake!

From the archives of The Thrifty Homeschooler:

Dear Thrifty Homeschoolers,

Here is a tip that I just learned a few days ago. It was my husband's birthday and we had a lovely evening out, just the two of us.

I didn't have to pay for babysitting because I traded babysitting time with my neighbor. We didn't even have to pay for the dinner as my dad gave us a gift certificate to Olive Garden. (Thanks Dad!)

So we came home from dinner with just enough room in our tummies for delicious black forest cake, only I make it with strawberries instead of cherries -- yumcious. It was a beautiful cake, with lots of whipped cream atop the plump juicy strawberries. My three-year-old daughter must have thought so too, because she decided to carry it from the kitchen to the dining room as dh and I were walking through the front door.

The next thing I knew, my 13-year-old son came into the living room white as a ghost mumbling something about an upside-down cake. My neighbor, dh, and I walked around the corner and there was the beautiful cake upside down and our darling daughter smiling from ear to ear!

I was speechless, my jaw hanging to the floor. I looked over to my darling husband, wondering how he was going to react to the loss of his cake. Instead of being angry, he was about to bust a gut! I think that it was the best laugh that he had in along time. As he said later when telling the story to a friend, "Just the laugh at seeing the cake on the rug was worth as much as if the cake had it been in perfect shape!"

As the children cleaned up the floor and dh cut the top off of the cake, in an attempt to salvage at least part of it, I went to our extra fridge in the basement to get the big bucket of Breyer's ice cream. At least we would have delicious ice cream to go with our cake bottom. But when I opened the freezer door to get it, it wasn't there! Then a dreadful thought came across my mind and I opened the door to the refigerator. Sure enough, in helping put away groceries the day before, my 7-year-old son put the ice cream in the fridge instead of the freezer. (Thrifty Tip #2 for today - make sure that you make it perfectly clear to children that when you tell them to put ice cream in the freezer, that you mean the door on top!)

So we had ice cream soup and cake bottom for dh's birthday. We're still laughing! Sometimes you just have to flow with what life sends your way. Next time you want to blow your top, laugh instead, okay?

Maureen :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Positive Thinking

My friend Linda can always be trusted to send great articles to me. This one fits right into what I've been reading in Greg Popcak's book: Key to Holiness and an Abundant Life

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Buzz Has Begun

The following blogs already have a graphic of the cover posted:

Flying Stars
Cajun Cottage
Michael Aquilina III
Heart, Mind, and Strength

(When you visit these blogs, make sure to leave a comment. It helps us bloggers to know that you visited.)

If you would like to see the table of contents of The Catholic Homeschool Companion, click here: Library of Congress

Saturday, January 14, 2006

"This Stress Is Driving Me Crazy"

I'm currently reading Greg Popcak's book God Help Me! Finding Balance through God's Grace. I'm only half way through, but so far I really like it. But then, I like all his books. He has such a way of simplifying the human condition and making it understandable. His top ten lists, check lists, and quizzes are so helpful. If you're having a hard time dealing with stress or anxiety, God Help Me! is a must read.

I have a family member who says Greg's book For Better . . . Forever helped her save her marriage.

His website is www.exceptionalmarriages.com.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Cover Art

I just got the cover art for the new homeschooling book today. I'm so excited! The book will be available for purchase in just 10 to 14 days. The accompanying website will be up and running at that time too. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Beautiful Homeschooled Teens

When I ran into an old friend at Socrates Cafe last year, I explained that I was at the coffee shop for Teen Wednesdays and pointed to the twenty or so high schoolers waiting for me to join them.

She exclaimed, "Oh my gosh Maureen, those are the most beautiful teens I've ever seen!" You should have seen the excitement in her face. She was really moved by this observation.

This got me thinking. Are homeschooled teens more beautiful that other teens? How can that be?

Over the months that have passed since running into my friend, I've been observing. My teens don't have the angst that I see in some of their peers who go to real school (my children like to say that they go to fake school). They also have an innocence about them, a sweet innocence. Most of all, I love the way that they look you in the eye and speak to you with respect. Yes, speak to an adult as an equal and not someone to be loathed.

Is this the result of homeschooling? Does this make them more beautiful? Umm, something to ponder.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Sounds of Heaven

My sister Eileen, who is wise beyond her years, told me a story the other day about how her children were getting on her nerves. They were playing, laughing, and making all kinds of noise. She was just about to yell at them, as she was trying to make dinner and the children's noise (times four) was a distraction. They weren't being bad, but they were very loud.

And then she thought to herself, "This is want Heaven must sound like. The noise of little children laughing and playing." She forgot about yelling and joyfully got back to work.

The Cost of Seeing

I went to the eye doctor today and I'm on the fast track to old ladydom. I bypassed bifocals and went right to trifocals. Yikes!

Actually, they're progressive lenses, or something like that. I'll be able to focus at three distances -- reading, computer, and distance. It'll take a few weeks to get used to them.

And I won't even go into the cost of these Cadillac glasses!

Meanwhile, I have to wait a week or two for them to come in. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Kid Quote of the Week

Looking for any reason not to be potty trained, Super Toddler exclaimed today:

"Sponge Bob Square Pants doesn't wear underpants!"


Green Fried Computers

Sparks flew out the back of my computer and my mother board is apparently shot. The great news is that our dear friend Chuck, electronic genius, saved my data. Hurray!

Posts to this blog may be sporadic for a while.

St. Isidore, pray for us.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The New Homeschooling Book

My friend Nancy found this surfing Barnes & Noble: The Catholic Homeschool Companion.

I wish that I had the cover art to share with you all. Hopefully, it will be soon. The new website will be up as soon as the book's cover art is done. But if you would like a peek at the work in progress here it is: Maureen Wittmann.

And my newest book, on teaching through literature, is nearly done. The light at the end of the tunnel is starting to be seen. Please pray that all goes smoothly. My publisher has been very patient with me.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Gooey Butter Cake

Here is the promised recipe for Gooey Butter Cake. A few notes first. Do not attempt this if you are on a lowfat diet. Actually, you shouldn't make this if you are on any kind of a diet.

Also know that it'll be all sunken in the middle and the ugliest cake you ever saw. However, it is also the yummiest.

And do not attempt to make this in one big rectangular cake pan. It'll be too gooey and undercooked in the center.

Gooey Butter Cake

1 box white or German Chocolate cake mix (without the pudding)
2 eggs
1 stick butter, softened

Mix together and spread in two square cake pans. Don't worry if it seems way too thick, it's supposed to be that way.

1 (8-oz.) cream cheese
2 eggs
1 box powdered sugar

Mix and spread on top of the cake mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes.

That's it. Make sure to share.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Acts of Kindness

Last night, laying in bed, I was reflecting on a car breakdown that I had several years ago in the middle of the night, 150 miles from home. I was thinking about all the angels that the Lord sent to help me. The AAA lady, the highway patrolmen, the hotel clerk and manager, the mechanic, the wife of the publisher of Our Sunday Visitor (it's a long story). I found myself praying for each and every one of them. Now and then, I remember their kindness and ask God to bless them.

Except for the wife of the publisher, I've never seen these people again. Their presence in my life was a mere blip. Yet, they had a profound affect on me.

I wonder if I've ever touched the life of a stranger so deeply that they occasionally remember me in prayer. Gosh, I hope so.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

How Could Santa Do This To Me?

After potty training six children, you would think that I'm an expert. Nope. Super Toddler has proven to be a tough foe. He absolutely refuses to be potty trained. I was at my wit's end until I had a genius idea. Or so I thought.

I decided to have Santa Claus bring Super Toddler a set of Spider Man underwear. There was no way that the boy could refuse both Santa and Spider Man. No way. Or so I thought.

Christmas morning, Super Toddler rips open his present from the beloved Santa, stands up, staring at the underpants with a look of disgust while holding them at arms length, and cries out, "Doesn't Santa know that I love my diaper?!" He then tossed the underpants aside and said in a sad pitiful voice, "How could Santa do this to me?"

I have since resigned myself to the fact that I will have to explain to my future daughter-in-law on her wedding day why her husband-to-be still wears diapers.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I Have the Flu

Ick. I must have gotten it when Super Toddler climbed in bed with me at 5:30 am last week and promptly, well, you know, all over me. Ah, the joys of motherhood.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Prayer Request

Please pray for the immortal soul of my Uncle Dick, my mom's brother, who passed away earlier today. Thank you.

Prayers after Death
The following prayers may be prayed immediately after death and may be repeated in the hours that follow.

Saints of God, come to Dick's aid!
Come to meet him, angels of the Lord!
[Response] Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

May Christ, who called you, take you to himself; may angels lead you to Abraham's side.
[Response] Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Give him eternal rest, O Lord,and may your light shine on him for ever.
[Response] Receive his soul and present him to God the Most High.

Let us Pray.

All-powerful and merciful God, we commend to you, Dick, your servant.
In your mercy and love, blot out all the sins he has committed through human weakness.
In this world he has died: let him live with you for ever.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

V/. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
R/. And let perpetual light shine upon him.
V/. May he rest in peace.
R/. Amen.
V/. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R/. Amen.

Child Theology

One day, many years ago, the older children and I were talking about how everyone has a different path to heaven. We were interrupted by my then-almost-four-year old, who proclaimed with great excitement, "I know how I'm gettin' to heaven!"
"How's that, Buster?" I asked.
"I'm gonna be an angel. Then I'll have wings and can fly up to Heaven!"
He then demonstrated as he flapped his wings and flew around the classroom. I love homeschooling!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Feast of Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

O marvelous exchange!
Man's Creator has become man,
born of a virgin.
We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who
humbled himself to share in our humanity.
Mary has given birth to a King
whose name is everlasting ;
hers the joy of motherhood,
hers the virgin's glory.
Never was the like seen before,
never shall it be seen again, alleluia.
By your miraculous birth of the Virgin
you have fulfilled the Scriptures:
like a gentle rain falling upon the earth
you have come down to save your people.
O God, we praised you.