Thursday, September 28, 2006

Confessions of a Homeschooler

I've mentioned here before that my friend Mary Jo Thayer has a super weekly column called Confessions of a Homeschooler. Check it out at Mary Jo's website, Mom With a Message. I think you'll really enjoy it!

Short Story Contest

One great way to get kids writing is to add a little competition to the mix. Here is a writing contest from Arx Publishing.

2006 Short Story Contest
Get Published — Win $50!

The Tarpeian Rock has sponsored writing contests for older kids and teens ages 12 through 18—a poetry contest in 2003 and a short story contest in 2004. The winners of these contests had their pieces published in The Tarpeian Rock and won $50 besides. If you would like to read them, please feel free to request sample copies of the 2004 and/or 2005 issues.

Our humorous essay contest in 2005 didn't go over as well as we would have liked, so this year, we have decided to go back to a genre which attracted considerable interest before: the short story. To qualify, the following criteria must be met:

* The author of the story must be between the ages of 12 and 18 as of December 31, 2006.
* The story must be 2,000 words or less.
* The story must be an original previously unpublished work.
* The setting of the story must be an event or incident from one of the following:

* The Peloponnesian War (431 BC to 401 BC).
* The Roman persecution of the early Christians (AD 40 to AD 306).
* The life of the Emperor Heraclius (AD 575 to AD 641).
* The life of Charlemagne (AD 742 to AD 814).
* The life of St. Dominic de Guzmán (AD 1170 to AD 1221).
* The life of St. Francis Xavier (AD 1506 to AD 1552).
* The local history of your town or state before 1800.

* Stories will be judged on theme, style, creativity and adherence to the rules. Those stories will be rated highest which demostrate a flair for language, appropriate use of wit or humor, and an understanding of traditional Western virtues, such as piety, honor, loyalty, hope, faith, charity, fortitude, devotion to family, etc.

* Stories which contain gross vulgarity, obscenity, or attacks on Judeo-Christian belief or morality will be disqualified.

The editors of The Tarpeian Rock will choose one (1) winner. The winner will receive a $50 award and the story will be published in the 2007 edition of The Tarpeian Rock.

All selections will be final and not subject to appeal. Friends and family of Arx Publishing and its members are ineligible to participate.
Entry Deadline:
Entries should be sent to the address below no later than December 31, 2006. The winner and honorable mention authors will be notified on or before March 15, 2007.
Arx Publishing, LLC
Attn: Tarpeian Rock Contest
PO Box 1333
Merchantville NJ 08109-0333, USA

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Saturday, September 23, 2006

St. Catherine Catholic Lending Library

There's a new Yahoo Group in town. This looks like a cool one. Here is the description from the group's home:

Do you love reading edifying Catholic literature and history? Does your public library suffer from a deficiency in solid Catholic books? Is your budget such that you can't purchase all of the Catholic books and resources you'd like? Do you wish there were a Catholic lending library at hand to fill the gap?

This purpose of this email group is to connect Catholics who own good Catholic books with others who would like to read them. Once your membership is accepted, you will be invited to post any books you wish to share in the database section. Browse around at what others are offering.

When a borrower sees a book they would like, they email the lender and request it. The lender and borrower work out the loan period between them. The lender mails the book to the borrower via Media Mail at the lender's expense. The borrower enjoys the book, then returns it to the lender via Media Mail at the borrower's expense.

Because of the expense of international mail, we are limiting ourselves to US residents only (or those with military addresses capable of receiving Media Mail.) Please feel free to start a similar group for your own country if you are so inspired!

St. Catherine of Alexandria is a Catholic saint and patroness of libraries and librarians. We put this cooperative enterprise under her protection.

This group is not meant to be a discussion or prayer list. All members and all posts to the group will be moderated.

Friday, September 22, 2006

PopeStNick5: Saints Behaving Badly

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: Saints Behaving Badly: The Cutthroats, Crooks, Trollops, Con Men, and Devil Worshippers Who Became Saints
Author: Thomas J. Craughwell
Publisher: Doubleday
Date Published: September 19, 2006
ISBN: 0385517203
Price: 15.95, hardcover
Comments: How could a librarian resist a title like that? How could any library patron for that matter?

Click here for and online review from Church Fathers' expert and author Mike Aquilina.

Click here to read editorial reviews, the author's bio, and an excerpt at

Thursday, September 21, 2006

More on the Catholic Homeschool Carnival

There are several people to thank in putting together the upcoming Catholic Homeschool Carnival. First to Mary Ann Bernard and Ana Braga-Henebry for initiating it. Also to the Love2Learn Review Board who jumped in to help out. And finally to Esther in Hawaii for creating this beautiful graphic (Esther is the queen of beautiful graphics!). You all are the best!

For those of you wondering what in the world a blog carnival is, here is a synopsis. It's when you link to a bunch of blog posts from various blogs, based on a common theme. The common theme here is Catholic homeschooling.

To see an example of a carnival, check out this homeschool carnival from a few weeks ago.

Catholic Homeschool Carnival

I have exciting news to share! The first ever Catholic Homeschool Carnival is being pulled together.

If you're a Catholic homeschooler and a blogger then don't miss this opportunity to take part in this historic event.

The Catholic Homeschool Carnival will take place once a month, on the first Friday. The deadline to get your favorite post(s) in is the 25th of each month.

Click here to submit your post. And make sure to tell all your friends!

It would be extra cool if some talented Catholic homeschooler out there came up with a nifty graphic or two to use in promoting the carnival.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Support the Pope Banners

Get yours here.


Congatulations to Danielle Bean and family on the birth and baptism of their beautiful new baby boy Daniel!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Discount on The Companion

If you've been wanting to purchase The Catholic Homeschool Companion, now is the time. It's available for 20% off the list price at my website. This offer is good through the end of September.

The website takes Paypal, including credit cards. If you prefer to pay by check or money order, please email me.

All books are autographed. If you'd like a book personalized, just leave a comment when you order.

The 38th Homeschool Carnival

The new homeschool carnival is up and running over at The Thinking Mother. Check it out to explore the What, Why, When, How, Where, and Why of homeschooling.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Prayer Request

Please pray for the Martin family who tragically lost their father and daughter this last weekend.

The newspaper article can be found here.

If you've attended the NACHE conference, you may remember them as the family who headed up hospitality.

Michael Dubruiel's Website

Speaking of Catholic author websites, my web design guy did a complete redesign of Michael Dubruiel's website. It's gorgeous. Make sure to check it out.

Catholic Author Webpage

Catholic Mom has a webpage at her site with links to Catholic author websites. Cool.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

History Links Bulletin Board

Got this from Barb Little earlier today:

In the past, you expressed an interest in History Links. Because of this, I would like to invite you to join me on my journey: History at my house.

Because I WRITE History Links, I seldom get to actually DO History Links. I usually write the units while I am doing them. So, my kids get all the mistakes. They get all the projects that don’t work out. They get things in a confused order and then we straighten things out when we prepare the units for publishing.

That has been the norm for our schooling with the older kids, but this year I realized that I haven’t really done the beginning of history with the younger kids. So, this year I finally get to use my completed units on my own kids. This is one of the few times I have been able to do that. So, I thought, “Why not record this experience for others?” It might be fun for people to come along on our journey.

So, if you are interested in seeing how History Links works at
my house visit me at:

You will be able to read the beginning entries without registering, but in order to post or read later entries you will need to register.

Please feel free to share this invitation with members of your homeschool group or email lists. And . . .

Happy Homeschooling!
Barb Little

History Links—Integrated Learning for Catholic Families Featured in Cathy Duffy's Top 100 Picks for Homeschool Curriculum Full Spectrum Learning—History Links Division

PO Box 411
Dickinson, ND 58602
Phone: 701-260-2599
Fax: 701-483-5548

Friday, September 15, 2006

Chesterton Helps for Homeschoolers

Nancy Brown has great news to share at her blog. She's received the go-ahead from Hillside Education to write a study guide to G. K. Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi. This will be a great help to us homeschoolers with high school students.

Even more exciting is that she is writing adaptations of the Father Brown mysteries for 8- to 10-year olds. Wow, imagine introducing grade school kids to Chesterton! The mind boggles.

I hope that lots of people buy Nancy's books so that she can write loads more!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Laura Berquist's English Literature List

I recently came across Laura Berquist's syllabus for British literature (for 12th grade I believe) in the latest Emmanuel Books catalog. She has a few titles we missed in our recent high school literature discussion.

Here is her list:
Ivanhoe (Scott)
Emma (Austin)
Henry V (Shakespeare)
Helena (Waugh)
Sir Gawain the Green Knight (Tolkien)
Midsummer's Night Dream (Shakespeare)
Vicar of Wakefield (Goldsmith)
David Copperfield (Dickens)
Space Trilogy (Lewis)

Other options:
Kenilworth (Scott)
Macbeth (Shakespeare)
Othello (shakespeare)
Gulliver's Travels
The Woman in White (Collins)
The Warden (Trollope)
The Everlasting Man (Chesterton)
Brideshead Revisited (Waugh)

The Rat Skyscraper

As soon as the Fed Ex guy delivered the rat skyscraper, the kids were on the phone to Dad. He took his lunch hour and came home to put it together. This cage is truly a skyscraper. It would be like a 6,000 sq. ft. house to you and me. These rats are living in luxury.

The funny thing is how the kids, and Rob, love these rats. Rob has been dubbed the Rat King and the boys, the Rat Princes. Even sweet little Princess Rose loves cuddling with the rodents. Ick. I suppose I've been prejudiced by those rat movies of my youth: Willard and Ben. Then there's the icky Templeton of Charlotte's Web. And all the examples of real live vermin. Double ick.

But I'm told domesticated rats are nothing like their vermin counterparts. In fact, I'm also told, that if you're going to have small animals, domesticated rats are the way to go. They're smart, trainable, and very social.

Maybe someday I'll come around. I don't think I have choice.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

We Have Rodents!

Pet rodents that is. It all started when we were visiting in St. Louis some months ago. My sister offered one of the family hamsters to Tween Daughter, who in turned begged me to let her bring the hamster home with us. Taking the easy way out, I told her to call Daddy. I knew that Rob would tell her absolutely "NO." After all, following the death of our last parakeet, he put his foot down and said no more small animals. He was tired of burying parakeets and flushing fish.

We came home with a new hamster.

Lesson learned: Don't take the easy way out.

Back to my story. After six weeks or so, Hamster Wamster passed onto hamster heaven. Again, Rob put down his foot. No more small animals. We already have a cat and two rabbits (all live outside) and that's enough.

Yeah right.

Somehow, Buster talked Dad into letting him have a rat. Yes, a rat - eek. Sparky then jumped into the fray. If his big brother got a rat, then he should have a rat too. After all, rats are social animals and are happier with a friend - ick. So, off to the pet store they go. Tween Daughter and her friend Toyota (not her real name) tag along. Toyota got permission from her grandma to get a pet mouse while at the pet store. Then TD talks Dad into letting her replace Hamster Wamster with a new hamster.

Are you still with me? They came home with 2 rats, a dwarf hamster, and a mouse. After a day, the mouse came to live at my house. Toyota's grandpa came home from his fishing trip, saw the pet mouse and said, "No way Jose!"

Oh, there goes the doorbell . . . it's the FedEx man with our new Rat Skyscraper. I'm so excited.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Grab a Ticket for the Homeschool Carnival

This week's Homeschool Carnival is up and running. Go check it out at Principled Homeschooling. You'll discover lots of neat homeschool blogs and great blog posts. For example, I enjoyed reading about Elitist Homeschoolers this morning. Sit back and enjoy, you've got a whole week to get through the links until the next carnival.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Almost 1,000 Books!

Still putting final touches on For the Love of Literature. I just finished an alphabetical list of all the books for the index. I had guessed that I describe about 500 books. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the actual number is 968! And that number doesn't include the textbooks, encyclicals, and other little resources I mention. No wonder it's taken me so long to complete this project.

Catholicizing Harry Potter?

If you want to learn how to baptize the Harry Potter books, head over to Nancy Brown's blog. She's been on the subject for several weeks now and makes some amazing observations.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Quote of the Day

A book is like a present that you can open again and again.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Homeschool Carnival Needs You

Are you a homeschooling blogger? If so, then how about sharing your blog with the rest of the homeschooling world.

Just pick out your favorite post (it doesn't have to be recent) and send the url here: Blog Carnival.

I really encourage you to do this. Not only will it increase the traffic on your blog, it will help the homeschooling community.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dr. Phil on Homeschooling

How would you like to be on the Dr. Phil Show? Well, here's your chance. Go to to tell Dr. Phil why he should invite you to be on his show about homeschooling.

Note: Blogger is acting funny and won't let me put in any direct links.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A Prayer for the Ephesians

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Awesome Italian Pasta Sauce

My Italian neighbor has been delighting my family for ten years with his delicious pasta sauce. I've been perstering him for years to share his recipe with me, but he always insists that there is no recipe. It's a little different each time. Finally, I cornered him with a recipe card and pen in my hand. Here's what I got out of him:

tomatoes - pressed through a food mill
LOTS of fresh herbs: oregano, basil, bayleaf
brown sugar
chicken or vegetable boullion
worchestershire sauce
fresh ground pepper
(skip the salt, the boullion is already salty)
chopped onions
green peppers
ground Italian sausage

Simmer tomatoes, herbs, garlic, sugar, boullion, worchestershire, pepper, and onions for 4 hours. Add peppers and mushrooms. Brown Italian sausage and add. Simmer about 4 more hours.

I had a full bushel of tomatoes yesterday and used this recipe. Because there aren't exact measurements I had to guess, and taste, a lot. I skipped the Italian sausage because I'm canning the sauce - I'll add the sausage when I open the jar.

It's still simmering on the stove as I type and my whole house smells awesome. Mmmm, and it tastes great! Best sauce I've ever made.

I've never added boullion or worchestershire to pasta sauce before. I never even thought to do such a thing before. But, I think that's what makes the sauce so delish.

Addendum: My neighbor came by this morning with loads of fresh basil to share from his garden. He says only use a wee amount of worchestershire (oops). He also says that it's way better to substitute good wine for the boullion. (Don't use cooking wine -- if you wouldn't drink it from a glass it won't be good in your sauce.)

Raspberry Sweet Tea

First I had to give up my beloved coffee, even decaf. Then the doctor tells me that I can't have regular tea, only herbal tea as long as there's no mint in it.

This was hard news on a girl who loves her sweet tea. It was suggested that I just make sweet tea with herbal tea, but I knew that it would be sacrilege to do such a thing so I suffered, in silence, for months.

Well, today I joined the ranks of the heretics and made sweet tea with raspberry tea bags. I couldn't help myself, a pseudo cup of sweet tea is better than none at all.

And, I have to admit, it wasn't too bad. In fact, it was pretty good. Here's the recipe that I came up with:

Put 10 raspberry tea bags into a two-quart pot and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil. Do not continue to boil. Turn off the stove and let the tea steep about ten minutes or so. Remove the tea bags. Fill a one-gallon pitcher about a quarter to halfway with ice. Pour a cup of sugar over the ice and then pour the warm tea over the sugar. Stir well. Fill to the top with cool water and give a little stir.

Friday, September 01, 2006

What About Socialization???

The Lansing State Journal ran an op-ed piece last Sunday on homeschooling written by a 17-year-old homeschooled student.

Dr. Ray in Dayton

Got this yesterday:

The Dayton Catholic Homeschool Network is pleased to announce that Dr. Ray Guarendi will be speaking at our Catholic homeschool conference in Huber Heights, Ohio, May 18 & 19. His talks will be given on Saturday May 19th, schedule to be announced. For more information on our conference please visit For more information on Dr. Ray please visit Dr. Ray will be coming thanks to the generosity of a homeschooling family in Dayton.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Dr. Ray Guarendi speak, GO! In fact, take all your friends and relatives. And if they can't go with you, give them a Dr. Ray video for Christmas. Really.

Not only does he give some great parenting advice, he is hysterically funny. Rob and I saw him at the Michigan conference some years age and never laughed so hard in our lives. We had tears running down our faces. Then we went home and applied his advice.

Note, don't take the kids with you. You don't want them learning all of the parenting techniques that you're going to use on them.

BTW, I'll be a the Dayton conference too, along with Dr. Mary Kay Clark and Kevin Schmiesing (from Acton Institute). Make sure to check it out if you're within driving distance. This is a very reasonably priced conference with some excellent speakers and vendors.