Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Do You Know Your Bible?

Our Bible study group took this quiz this morning. I guess Jeff Cavin's Great Bible Adventure is doing it's job!

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Hat Tip: The Curt Jester

Rebekah #2's Turn

We had three Rebekah's on the trip to DC, so we had to number them to keep down the confusion. Here is the lovely Rebekah #2, age 17:

I went with a group of thirteen teenagers and two adult chaperones. We drove to Pittsburgh, PA to stay the night at the office building of a church called St. Sebastian. The priest there was very hospitable and on fire for life. Some of my friends stayed up the entire night since they decided that going to bed at 11:00p.m. and waking up at 4:00 a.m. just wasn’t worth the five hours of sleep. *chuckle* The rest of us smart people tried to get some sleep.

The next morning, we left bleary eyed at 5:00 a.m., to get to the bus early with Mr. Aquilina leading the way. After a six-hour drive, we arrived in Washington D.C. We walked around for awhile and finally found the way we were supposed to go. After that it was easy to tell the right way because crowds were massing together. We reached the mall in front of the capitol as they were singing the National Anthem. There we listened to several speakers, including the President, via the telephone. It was awesome and encouraging to hear people tell of their love for life and what they were doing to fight for it.

While we waited for the march to start, we munched on munchies and tried to keep warm. The people in front finally started to march and everyone in our group grabbed their assigned “buddy” so as to not get separated in the mass of thousands. As I walked carrying my sign, I saw the Dominican brothers, college students, parishioners with their families and heard people praying the Hail Mary over and over again. I looked up and saw people watching us from windows and wondered what they were thinking. Did they think we were crazy? Or were they just like us?

After the march, we took a ride on the Metro to the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There are not words to describe how wonderful it is. When I walked in, I wanted to cry because it was like a piece of heaven; the way all churches should be. The crypt, where we attended Mass, was no less beautiful than the main church. We finally left the basilica and made our way to the bus, which would take us back to Pittsburgh resulting in another late night.

All in all, besides the lack of sleep, which I am now catching up on, it was a life changing experience. It strengthened my resolve as a pro-lifer and my desire to do more to help the pro-life movement; but most of all, my love for God was increased through my visit to the shrine and the realization that God has a special plan for my life.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Rebecca #3 Tells Her Tale

This is from Rebecca, age 17. I don't know if it's just me, but I went through the Kleenex reading this:

There is still hope. After participating four days ago in the Washington D.C. March for Life, I clearly saw that there is still hope. Hope for the innocent lives of the unborn children living in their mother's womb, hope that someday Roe will be overturned and the massacre of my generation will finally come to a close.

This was the first time I participated in the annual march through the streets of our nation's capital. I had no idea what it would be like or what to expect. I had my share of doubts. In fact, I almost did not go at all. Yes, I almost turned down the opportunity to take this trip, to stand up for what I believe in, to give a voice to those who have none, and to have a great time with close friends. Now sitting here typing this, I ask myself; "What on earth was I thinking?" For that I simply don't have an answer, this trip was something I will never forget, it is something I was so blessed to have had the ability to go to, to march in, and be apart of. It strengthened my beliefs, my resolve, and my hope that there are still good people in this world who care enough about our innocent to take the energy and the time out of their chaotic lives and defend them. It was truly an unforgettable experience.

When we arrived in D.C. late Monday morning, I was thrilled to be in the city, that in itself was "really, really cool." It is such a beautiful city. When I got off the bus and started walking around is when I began to notice the other people. As my group trudged through town, you could see more and more people. And not just the typical D.C. citizens I'd seen before, but other pro life people! Not only those of the older and wiser crowd, but other teenagers and young adults just like me! Young people who were there for the same reasons I was, to defend life and keep it sacred. Even cooler.

Just listening to all the speakers before the march taught me more about the reasons why I am pro-life, and reminded me again why the evil of abortion must end. One speaker in particular caught my attention. He spoke about how abortion is affecting different races and basically becoming another form of genocide. This is an evil I never realized. Standing out in the cold and wet with numb toes and pink ears was definitely worth it to hear what I did.

After the speeches had finally come to a close, we started the actual march in the streets. It is amazing to me to think they close down these very busy streets in our nation's capital just for us to march. That in itself says quite a bit. It sends the message that we are not just some little group of traditional religious parrots, but that we are a solid voice that will not be ignored, nor be pushed aside. As I was walking with my banner in hand, it was most definitely a very "solid" sea of people that went as far as my eyes could see. Banners everywhere, huge billboards graphically depicting just what happens to that " blob of tissue" whom remarkably resembles a human person, after a being torn from his mother's womb. People everywhere, so many people that, just to keep track of and stay with my small group of sixteen was a challenge. But it was a welcome challenge, to see so many people of so many diverse cultures all coming together for this one march, to stand up for exactly the same reason as myself, it was mind blowing.

One thing I had been wondering about before we started the march was whether we would see any "pro-choice" protesters. I thought surely we would see some. I was curious to see how vocal and how many that would turn out. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see only one woman with one sign showing her disapproval. Only one. Yes, surely there were more who I did not see, but if there are so many people that are willing to fight for their precious right to choose, then where were they? Why did I only see one person? The lack of opposing people I saw, or didn't see, at this march spoke volumes to me.

Why does it seem as if more and more the only ones who truly want a woman to have the "right" to an abortion are the ones whose pockets will be filled after they perform the procedure? Is that the voice of our young women? Why is it that pregnant women are often pressured into considering and having abortions because they are told it is the their only real option? Their only true or humane "choice"? In my opinion, there are not nearly as many people who love their right to choose as much as some large abortion industries do, and would like us to believe. Sometimes it's overwhelmingly depressing, to think we have lost so many already, and how on earth can we hope to overcome this great evil that makes so much money every year?

But after participating in this March for Life, my hope is renewed that we can defeat this monster that has stolen 1/3 of my generation, killed my friends and other amazing people that I will now never know. But we will not stand for it forever. Seeing all the young people there, just like me, made me realize that, like my brother said, someday, soon and very soon; "There won't be a next year."

I would like to thank the people who made this hope-inspiring trip possible for me. First thank you to every single person who I will never know of whom have given all of us this opportunity. Thank you to Dr. Donnelly for all he did for me that I am sure I'm not even fully aware of. Thank you to Mr. Aquilina, for all he did for our group, including finding us a great place to sleep. Thank you to the St. Sebastian's parish who allowed us to use their building. Thanks to our "tour guide" Michael, for sticking with us all day and even the night before. A special thank you to Mr. Stenske and Mrs. Wittmann, who gave so much to all of us. Whether it was driving a full sized van through snow and ice to get us there, dealing with our loud music, or just our crazy teenage terror in general, I thank you both for all you sacrificed to get us there and back again. Especially Mrs. Wittmann, who is such an extraordinary example of all a homeschooling mother can be, and if it were not for her and and her children, I wouldn't have gone.

Also thank you to my own parents for allowing me to go on this trip, and thank you again to my mother for choosing to give me life.

God bless

Super Bowl Party Recipes

In between posting teen's reports on the March for Life, I'm uploading Super Bowl Party recipes over at the Thrifty Homeschooler Blog. If you're looking for something easy and yumcious for your weekend party, check periodically throughout the week. Or, if you have a favorite to share, just leave it in the comments here and I'll post it.

Michael On Overturning Roe

This is from Michael, age 17. Again, another guy who gets right to the point and inspires. Michael has been going to the March for ten years now (since he was seven - wow!) and was very helpful showing us how to get around DC.

This year I went on the March for Life in Washington, DC, and it was amazing!

I think my favorite part was seeing the diversity of the people who were there: both men and women, of all ages and races and religions, from all over the United States! It was really amazing to see all these people and know that they all came to Washington, DC on a Monday morning in January to protest the killing of more than a million babies every year.

And what's even more amazing is that the thousands of people who were there were just a tiny number of the millions of pro-life Americans out there - it really gives you hope that, with the support of so many people, our abortion laws will change for the better.

The March for Life was great and I hope to come back next year, but hopefully instead of a protest, this time it'll be to celebrate the overturning of Roe vs. Wade!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Updating and Labels

I've updated to the new Blogger and I'm busy adding labels. It'll take a few days I imagine. In the meantime, if you're looking for blog entries on the March, I've got all those labels entered. Just scroll down the sidebar a tad and you'll see the Labels header.

It's a nice feature that allows you to view only posts on a certain topic.

Christian Challenges You to March

This is from Christian, age 17. There is great hope in today's youth:

On January 22nd, 1973, abortion was legalized. Since that date, the body count of murdered pre-born babies has passed 39 million - 1,200,000 every year in the U.S. alone.

The ideology of the secular world is that abortions should be safe and few. Few, not because it is evil. On the contrary, they see it as a benefit to society and a gift to women. It is because they expect other means against procreation will be perfected.

Abortions are not few; they are not safe; furthermore, they are not justifiable. The facts are: abortion is brutal, it is messy, and it is painful both physically and emotionally, so much so it is traumatic. It violently kills millions of babies all against their own will (after all, what innocent little child would ever choose to die?) and kills millions of mothers inside. Abortion is murder. Abortion is cruel.

Many people understand this, and are angered by the sick ideology of our secular world. That is why on January 22nd of every year, well over 100,000 people gather at our nation’s capital for the March for Life. Every year these people gather together to give a voice to the millions of innocent victims who have none. These people, mostly young people, pray, protest, and march so that this modern day holocaust may someday end.

I wanted to be a part of this demonstration so I went and I marched; I want to see an end to this age of darkness, an end to where violence on such a monstrous scale is embraced by our government and integrated into our very society. I challenge every person who is sickened by the heinous sin of abortion to do the same.

Excerpt from Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate
Dictionary (1967):
Abortion: 1: The expulsion of a nonviable fetus: a: spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation. b: illegal abortion. 2: MONSTROSITY. (emphasis in original)

Christian is in the back row on your left.

Caleb Says It All

Caleb, 13, is a man of few words and gets right to the point. What a great kid - wow!

I thought the March for Life was an awesome experience. The speeches were fiery and amazing. It was the biggest event I have ever been to and it really changed my life. The event made me feel like I was part of history. Despite being really cold that day, my soul felt like it was on fire. It was shocking to see so many graphic pictures.

The national cathedral was huge and majestic. The paintings were amazing and the pillars were gigantic. The crypt was more like a cathedral instead of a basement.

Overall I think the March was successful. I had a lot of fun, and I encourage you to go to the March for Life some year.


PS That's Caleb on the right, at Franciscan University's chapel where we stopped on the way home.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jake's Take

(When Super Boy, age 4, saw this picture, he exclaimed, "Look! It's God's finger!")

Here's Jake's report on the March for Life trip. Jake is 16.

"We'll sacrifice our young with our eyes sewn shut now the light can't shine we'll never wake from dead...."

I went to The March For Life 2007 and had a great time. What do you get when you put fourteen caffeine-crazed teens and two parents together to go to the March For Life? A REALLY great time!

It was a long ride down to Pittsburgh in two vans but we made it, all in one piece may I add. The roads were very wet, icy, and slippery. We stayed in a church office/house for the night at St. Sebastian’s. Pizza was picked up, card games started, and music blasting. It wasn't out of control, the parents kept us from disturbing the dead. That night, none of the guys got much sleep due to two funny little people dancing somewhere upstairs all night. The next morning we woke up at four and got ready for a long bus ride and a March For Life. We were the first group on the bus so we all got to sit together in the back.

Stopping for breakfast at McDonald’s, I went on a mission to find Chapstick with my friend Austin. A nearby gas station held the fruits of our search. Victorious in our adventure we got back on the bus to go on a real adventure. The bus arrived in DC and we tromped out into the cold air staring at the Washington Monument. Pictures were taken and off we went in a search for the March.

“What a group of crazies” is what I thought when I heard the speaker/yeller yelling to a crowd of pro-lifers about how abortion was evil. Well, not all of the speakers yelled to us but there was enough of 'em. After the speakers were done doing what they did best, we set off to inspire people to choose life and to stop abortion.

The huge masses of people started moving, slowly. The March wasn't too long but long enough to make a difference. It was an amazing experience to see how many people stood for Life. We left the March at the end to get a ride on the metro to the Basilica. The place was huge. That’s all I know about it, because when we got in I sat down. I was so tired. We went downstairs to the crypt and participated in Mass, then left to go back to Pittsburgh. The bus stopped once for dinner and once in Pittsburgh for the end of the day. Not many card games were played that night, we were all too tired.

The next day we left around nine, ate breakfast, and on the way home we visited Steuby! We ate lunch there, visited the bookstore, and celebrated mass again.

The whole trip was amazing. It was really cool to see all the people standing up for life. I would definitely go again to fight the battle for life and pray for aborted babies.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Companion Reviewed

Love 2 Learn has a review of The Catholic Homeschool Companion at their website. Click Here.

Mary's Turn

From Mary, almost 15:

The March for Life was on January 22nd and an awesome way to show the world that people still care about the unborn.

We got to Washington, DC around 11 and headed right to where the speakers were talking. Even though we had to listen to them in the frigid cold for an hour or two they still said some pretty inspiring things, that is if you listened hard enough and stopped looking at all the people around you and reading the signs.

When we finally got to march we were only able to take baby steps because of the crowd but eventually we spread out and really got to March for Life. Luckily, no one got separated in the sea of people but that was mostly because of the ingenious buddy system and the banners we were holding. We got to finish the March off with going to Mass in the crypt of the Basilica.

It all turned out to be an awesome experience and sharing it with friends made it even better. And even though I hope there will be no need for a next year, I sure hope I'll be able to march for something I truly believe in. LIFE!

God Bless,

Silent No More

(I didn't take this picture. It's from the Silent No More website.)

I think the bravest group at the March for Life was the Silent No More crowd. It takes a lot to stand before tens of thousands of people holding signs that read, "I Regret My Abortion."

These women get flack from both sides, pro-life and pro-abort, but they don't let that silence them. It's so important for us to hear their stories.

I didn't get to witness it personally, but 50 of them, men and women, stood on the steps of the Supreme Court and gave their testimony one by one. I'm told that about 100 anti-life protesters tried to shout them down, yelling all kinds of horrible things, but these brave souls stood firm.

God bless them!

Thank You St. Sebastian's

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank St. Sebastian's Catholic Church for making room at the inn for us weary travelers. It's not a little thing to make space for 16 people to sleep. (Well, what little bit we did sleep. Excited teenagers, in case you didn't know, can stay up ALL night.) The lives of the employees were disrupted a bit by bodies all over the floor when they came to work Tuesday morning, and I appreciate their kindness.

I'd like to especially thank Fr. Jim who made it happen. We only got to spend a 1/2 hour with him, late Sunday night, but it was so easy to see what a wonderful priest he is. The kids opened right up to him. I imagine the youth of his parish love him.

An interesting aside, Father worked in a hospital before he became a priest. He shared with the teens stories of the moral dilemmas he ran into regarding abortion. It really helped them understand the everyday reality of abortion. It was very good for them to hear.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Catherine's Report

This is from Catherine, almost 14. Whoda ever thunk a child of 13 could be so wise . . .

The March for Life was held this week, on Monday, January 22nd. I was privileged enough to be able to experience this powerful eye-opener with friends and total strangers, who were there for the same reason as me.

Trying my best to listen to the speakers, and at the same time, holding my coat as close to me as possible to stay warm, I took the chance to look at all the banners people were holding up—the names of their church, state, or school/university. I was amazed to see how many people from around the USA had come to support such a noble cause, and in January of all times. Even though, I thought at the time, I was sure all the people around me, particularly all the teenagers and young adults, had different opinions on a lot of subjects that I have different views on, just looking around me gave me such a happiness to realize that my friends and I were not the only teenagers who had the same strong opinions about the murder of an innocent baby before it comes out of its mother’s womb.

Not only is the March for Life an event where people can shout out to the world that abortion is evil, but also an event where all pro-lifers can come to grips about how many other people are disgusted about the fact that around 4,000 times a day, an innocent human life is ended. I think we all know that we are not alone in this fight but, in this time and age, it is hard to grasp it when the media is telling us that we are just some small, obnoxious group that has no right to say that a mother doesn’t have a right to abort her unwanted child.

When the speakers were done with their speeches, and whether people were ready for it or not, we all started marching. Holding up my pro-life sign, I took a brief second to look around me, and it was just incredible to see how many people were in line for the March. I couldn’t take it all in too long, fearing I might get run over, but it was enough to get me pumped to walk in the cold for as long as it took.

During the March, I looked over and my jaw dropped to see three people on the side of the road, holding a sign saying that they were from France. There was a sentence in French, and then another one that, I am assuming, was the French sentence translated into English. Then it hit me: Americans aren’t the only ones who are under this attack. I kept on looking behind me and glancing at them with a huge smile, amazed that they had come, until I realized that there was a big possibility I might trip over someone in front of me.

What I learned the most, it seems, is that there is still hope. The people at the March were just a small percentage of pro-lifers. Think about this: The March is in January, on a Monday, in Washington, D.C.

I am just lucky enough to be homeschooled and have friends who have the most awesome mother, and friends who have the most awesome father. I really want to thank these awesome parents: Mrs. Wittmann and Mr. Stenske. They dedicated their time to take a bunch of rambunctious, crazy teenagers all the way from Michigan to D.C., including all the stops in-between. Through all the planning, commotion, sickness, wrong turns, loud music, lack of sleep, and whims, they still stuck with us, and didn’t dump us on the side of the road in some abandoned town. This is why I really can’t say that this fight is only for the next generation—my generation—, because people like Mrs. Wittmann and Mr. Stenske are there to push us along the way, or literally speaking, drive us there. Thank you Mrs. Wittmann and Mr. Stenske!

Also thank you to: Mr. Aquilina, for finding us a place to sleep; to St. Sebastian’s Church for letting fourteen teenagers and two adults stay in their building; to our friends who provided the bus, and for having such a low price to ride on it; to the person in the dark van, whomever he was, who stopped and took time to ask if we were lost, and to direct us to the church’s building; to the people at Franciscan University in Steubenville, who were so kind and helpful to us. And finally, thank you to all my friends who came with me, for sticking with me, even when I was tired and delirious.

I also want to thank my parents for letting me go in the first place. It was truly an awesome experience, and I am proud to say that, yes, I am pro-life, and I always will be.

God Bless,

Homeschooling With a Newborn

My new column is up over at Catholic Exchange:

Homeschooling and Preparing for a New Baby
I am not one of those superhomeschoolers. I don't raise my own beef, my children didn't build our house from scratch using how-to books borrowed from the library, and there is no way I can even consider homeschooling anytime soon after the delivery of a baby....

No More Marches!

Due to a broken foot, there was a teen who couldn't come with us. When he was seeing us off on Sunday I said to him, "You'll get to come with us next year." He replied, "There won't be a next year!"

What an awesome attitude! This is why we need youth in this movement: They have hope that Roe will be overturned soon, very soon.

Famous Authors on the March

Here's a snapshot of Mike Aquilina at 5:30 AM, waiting for everyone to get on the bus for DC.

Thanks Mike and Brian for organizing our bus from PA!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Paul and the March

I asked the teens to write a few paragraphs for me on their March experience. I'll be posting them over the next several days. Here is the first, from Paul, age 17:

I just got home from the March For Life in Washington, DC. It was an amazing trip. On one hand it was wonderful, and on the other it was very saddening. It was saddening because I finally started to realize what a horrible holocaust has been going on in this country for the last thirty some years, and I realized it on not just a local scale but on a national one too. But it was also wonderful to see thousands of people meet on a cold wet day for such a great cause. All it takes is one good person to change the world, and on Monday I saw thousands. My goal for this trip was to come home a little stronger and wiser person than when I left, and I have done just that.

I also have been able to understand my friends a little more, been able to talk to them about their beliefs and opinions. I got to hang out in a very comfortable setting with some wonderful people. The only thing that could have made this trip better is if we all could have gotten a few more hours sleep. :-)

I want to thank Mrs. Wittmann, Mr. Stenske, Mr. Aquilina, Dr. Donnelly, Fr. Jim, and all you people who had to put up with me for three days, I hope you enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed you.

I pray to God there isn't a next year, but if there is I'll be there with a banner in one hand and a friend in the other.

God Bless!

Homeschoolers for Life

More homeschoolers at the March : Cause of Our Joy

Teens and Young Twenty Somethings

One thing that really struck me at the March was the number of young people. My guestimate is that a good half of the marchers were high school or college age.

One thing I hear, over and over again, from those outside the prolife community is how the prolife movement is driven by old white males. That has never been my personal experience and Monday's March For Life demonstrated to me that my experience is more than correct. In fact, I saw very few old white guys.

This has become a young person's movement. They're motivated by the fact that 1/3 of their own generation has been wiped out by genocide in the womb. It's not my generation being killed, it's theirs.


I got the pictures uploaded last night. Click here to see them. There are quite a few snapshots of our group, from our arrival in Pittsburgh to our stop on the way home at Franciscan University in Steubenville. (Note: The photos are in backwards order -- I don't know why my camera does that.)

If I didn't have to count heads every two minutes (it's so easy to get separated in a sea of 120,000 people!) I would've loved to have taken my time and clicked pictures of all the interesting people.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Is It Worth It?

There is so much I want to tell you about the last three days, but I'm dead tired. For tonight, I'll sum it all up in one sentence: "It is soooo worth the trip!"

Praying for Ovaries

I saw a bumper sticker on a woman's car: Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.

So, I prayed a rosary for all of her except her ovaries.

I hope she doesn't mind.

Home At Last

We're home and we're alive. Hooray!

I'm going to upload all the pictures yet this evening and I'll post comments on our March for Life experience over the next couple of days . . . in between major napping.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Marching for Life

I spent the entire day, 6:30 am to 6:00 pm, traveling to and participating in a Science Olympiad event with Teen Daughters 1 and 2. I am whipped and I still have to pack for the trip to DC tomorrow.

I will not have access to a computer while I'm away, so no blogging until Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. I also will not be able to approve comments until then. I promise photos and a complete report on the March upon my return.

While I'm away, check out After Abortion. There should be all kinds of photos and information on the March. Other places for March updates: ProlifeBlogs and Amy Welborn.

Last year, the March for Life was covered live on C-Span from noon to 4 pm. EWTN was live from 11 am to 4 pm, Eastern Time, I believe. So look for that.

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.

Your continued prayers for us and all those traveling to DC are greatly appreciated!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

St. Francis Study Guide

I love my mailman. He's always bringing cool stuff to me. Yesterday, he brought Nancy Brown's new study guide on G. K. Chesterton's St. Francis of Assisi from Hillside Education. I did get a sneak peak at a prepublication version, but it's still very exciting to get the real deal.

I've been immersing myself in St. Francis over the past couple of months, so the timing of this study guide's arrival couldn't be more perfect. I'd like to use it with my Teen Wednesday group.

I find it interesting that St. Francis of Assisi is the very first book written by Chesterton after his conversion to Catholicism. Even as a non-Catholic, from the time he was a little boy, Chesterton was fascinated by Francis. And so, his biography of the saint is a labor of love and well worth reading.

Nancy's study guide will help you delve deep into Chesterton's book and into Francis's life. As one who leads a Socrates Cafe for teens, I love that Nancy incorporates the Socratic Method into her guide, helping you guide your students so they can discover the real St. Francis and the model of Christian life that he shares with us.

Nancy also includes a list of additional reading on the life of Francis. And there is quite a bit of material available as he is so beloved.

If you have a teen, teach high school students, or just want to immerse yourself in the life of Francis, you have got to get Nancy Brown's new study guide! You can purchase it directly from Nancy at her blog. Make sure to ask her to autograph it for you!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Weekly Homeschooling Column

I have a new weekly column over at Catholic Exchange. Scroll down to Channels in the lefthand column and click on Homeschooling. This week's column is The Moral Child Is the Socialized Child.

It's great to see the Catholic press reaching out to homeschoolers. Please make sure to visit Catholic Exchange's homeschooling column regularly and tell all your friends about it.

If you're not familiar with Catholic Exchange, they're a nonprofit group that provides all kinds of online services for Catholics. If you click on the About Us button at the top, you can learn about all the free services they offer.

If you'd like to see their work continue, click on the Donate to CE button at the top. It's a worthy cause. They even take old cars. (Now I know what to do with my dead van!)

The Flying Mouse

If your waffle making daughter can't sleep at night because her pet mouse is running on the wheel and she puts the mouse's cage on the top step leading to the basement without mentioning it to anyone and then closes the door, it's possible that you'll get up the following morning, decide to wash your sheets, open the door to the basement, hands full of sheets and, unable to see below, step on the cage, fall backwards on your behind, and send the cage flying through the air, only to land ten feet below with a loud crash. It's also possible that the mouse will live through the ordeal . . . as well as the daughter.

Just in case you were wondering.

Burnt Waffles

If you ask your daughter to help her little brother by making an Eggo waffle for his breakfast, and she sets the timer on the toaster oven for fifteen minutes instead of three, and she forgets about the waffle, the waffle will catch on fire and burn up your toaster oven.

Just in case you were wondering.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Prayers for March

I have an assignment for all my faithful readers. Please offer up a few prayers this week for our upcoming trip to DC. I'll be taking thirteen teenagers, with the help of another parent, to the March for Life. It's an awful long drive, so prayers for great weather and a safe journey are more than appreciated!

For anyone who wants to meet up, we'll be at the Basilica for the 5:30 Mass. [correction: Mass is at 5:15 in the lower crypt.] We can try to meet in front beforehand. You may be able to pick us out by the two canvas banners (18 in. high, and 8 feet long) the kids will be carrying. One has the "Why is it a crime punishable by death to be in your mother's womb?" quote from Reverend John Catoir. The other one has the "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish" quote from Mother Teresa.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Seton In the News

From Zenit:

Bringing School Home

Three representatives of the Seton Catholic Home Studies School were in Rome to present to members of the Roman Curia the home schooling program which provides original course material for all grade levels, standardized testing and 24-hour academic help lines.

Mary Kay Clark, director of the program, told me that what began in 1975 with fewer than 100 children, has grown into an international phenomenon with 11,000 students regularly enrolled, while servicing another 17,000 each year who utilize the materials produced by Seton.

"We grew by leaps and bounds," said this home schooling mother of seven, and grandmother of 30.

One of the main attractions to the Seton program is the fact that the pace of the lesson can be adjusted for the individual.

According to Clark, "children also tend to be able to focus a lot better as each person learns with a different capability and at varying levels, so that a child in sixth grade who is stronger or weaker in a subject can be directly catered to with a suitable adjustment in curriculum."

Critics of home schooling say that while home-schooled children may be learning more in less time, they fall behind in social skills.

Virginia Seuffert, who home-schooled her 12 children, says that actually the children have more time and energy for after-school activities such as sports, dance or music lessons. In this environment they are able to interact with other children and make friends.

Additionally, Seuffert pointed out that the children taught at home do interact with other children, their brothers and sisters.

Catherine Moran, president of the Catholic Home School Network of America, says that another positive point is that the parents have more control over the influences surrounding their children. "Unfortunately often in our modern Western cultures, children are forced to grow up too soon. They're exposed to influences at a very early age," she said.

The Seton program is also specifically Catholic encouraging a greater spiritual dimension to learning. According to Clark, in each of the over 100 text books produced by the Seton group, there is a Catholic reference.

"Take our English books for example -- if we are working on phrasing or vocabulary we might talk about a sacrament. If there is a history project, we might go back to medieval times and discover St. Joan of Arc.... Science, on the other hand, will obviously take things from a Catholic bioethical perspective," she said.

And for those parents who are concerned as to whether they're up to the academic task to respond to the needs of their children, these experts have an answer.

While both Clark and Moran have their PhD's, Seuffert is proof that the academic past of a parent should not be a limitation.

"I have a high-school diploma," she said, "but the Seton format is mom and dad-friendly, providing us with great materials and on-line counselling … we even learn with the children. It's very rewarding for the whole family."

These parents support their work with a quote from Pope John Paul II in his letter to families: "Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children and they also posses a fundamental competence in this area; they are the educators because they are parents."

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Catherine Smibert can be reached at

Here's another article from Catholic Online: Leaders of the Home School Movement Update Vatican Officials.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Name Calling in the Blogosphere

I received the following comment over on my Thrifty Homeschooler blog, regarding a post To Photocopy or Not:

You're a freaking idiot. I hope your kid becomes more intelligent than you.

Well, actually, this is only the last two sentences of a long rant. Had the anonymous commenter left off these last two sentences, I would have approved his comment. Instead, he lost the opportunity to share his individual wisdom with the world.

I occasionally get comments like this from people who stumble onto my blogs via a google search. I think it is evidence of the coarseness permeating our society. Many people can't just let facts speak for themselves. Hurling insults doesn't convince anyone. It only creates anger and frustration.

This is one reason I focus on a classical education. I prefer to teach my children how to be good rhetoricians so they can search for and find Truth. Sadly, many children today only learn how to argue, with the sole goal of winning, leaving Truth behind.

This is also why I moderate comments.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Catholic Homeschool Carnival

The fourth monthly Catholic homeschooling carnival is up and running. Grab a cup of something and enjoy!

Homeschooling and Libraries Interview

My interview with world famous librarian and author Adrienne Furness is running at her blog: Homeschooling and Libraries.

It was fun to do -- thank you Adrienne!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Help Me Decide

I think I'm going to enter the Erma Bombeck Writing Contest. If you scroll down past the contest rules, you can read last year's winners. They're sooo good (get a Kleenex first!).

I've never entered a writing contest before and, even though my chances are slim, I think it'll be fun. Linda says I should either enter (with a little editing, of course):
Rocking Baby Boomers
Thank You Lord for Girlfriends

Opinions please!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Nun Story

Here's a story I submitted to Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul 2 some years ago. I never heard back from them, so I assume I've been rejected.

A Nun Story
Maureen Wittmann

As a child I had a terrible speech impediment and had to have speech therapy. Yet, a lisp still lingered for years following. When I entered the fourth grade, my teacher decided it was time to do something about that lisp. She stayed after school for weeks working with me, one on one. After making much progress, one of the nuns who taught in my Catholic school suggested I join the speech club and give a presentation in a city-wide competition. Being very shy, I wasn't too excited about speaking in front of a large group, but Sister talked me into it. I worked hard on my speech, “The Gettysburg Address,” and as the competition grew closer, I grew more confident.

When the big day came, my mom dropped me off at the convent to drive to the competition in the sisters’ station wagon. It was a Saturday and all the sisters came to show their support for me and the three or four other school children who would be competing.

After giving my speech, I was feeling a bit cocky. I had done my best and was sure I would soon possess a ribbon. At the end of the day they announced the winners. I sat on the edge of my seat as they called the honorable mentions, but they did not call my name. Was I that good? I must have placed 3rd in my category. Yet, my name was not called with the third place winners. I was not the least bit nervous, after all I must have won second place. But they did not call my name with the second place winners. Wow, I placed 1st! But . . . they did not call my name. I was devastated. I cried all the way back to the convent.

There was one nun in my little urban grade school all the kids feared, Sister Patricia Ann. She was small, but she was tough. When she was a child she had been stricken with polio and as a result she wore leg braces. She could not take communion on the tongue because she was wobbly with the leg braces. She was the only person we knew who took communion in the hand and this added to her mystique. She had that look I'm sure they teach nuns in “nun school.” If she gave you “the look” you would confess every thing you had ever done wrong in your entire life.

The Monday following the competition, Sister Patricia Ann approached me in the lunch room. “Uh oh,” I thought, “what did I do wrong?” Then I saw something I think few kids at Holy Ghost Grade School had seen before, Sister was grinning from ear to ear! She handed a mesh bag to me and it was filled with chocolate coins covered in gold foil. She said to me, “Maureen, you may not have won a ribbon Saturday, but you're a gold medal winner in my book.”

I cannot begin to express the profound affect this had on me. I suddenly realized the nuns were tough on us, not because they were mean, but because they loved us. They really cared about us and our education. Their whole lives were dedicated to teaching us little ones.

I'll never forget Sister Patricia Ann or the impact she and the other good sisters had on my life. They not only taught us children the 3 Rs, they taught us about virtues and work ethic. They taught us to love Jesus Christ and His Church. They taught us to respect our fellow man and to respect ourselves.

I am forever grateful to the Franciscan Sisters who taught at Holy Ghost Grade School.

Reviews and Online Bookstores

Aquinas and More Catholic Goods has The Catholic Homeschool Companion at it's website (though they have the title backwards). There aren't any reviews up yet, so if you like to write short book reviews, here's your opportunity!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

PopeStNick5: If You Really Loved Me

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: If You Really Loved Me: 100 Questions on Dating, Relationships, and Sexual Purity
Author: Jason Evert
Publisher: Servant Books / St. Anthony Messenger
Date Published: 2003
ISBN: 1569553696
Price: $10.99 Softcover
Comments: Everett is an international speaker on the topic of chastity at public, Catholic, and Evangelical schools. This book reflects the most asked questions he receives from teens.

Jason and his wife Crystalina have an outreach program: Pure Love Club.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

January's Column at Catholic Mom Dot Com

The January Homeschool Companion column is up over at Catholic Mom. This month's column: Getting the Most Out of Your Conference Experience.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

I deplore horror movies. When I saw The Exorcist as a teenager, I experienced more than a week of sleepless nights. I never imagined exposing myself again to a horror movie, much less one on exorcism. Yet, The Exorcism of Emily Rose came highly recommended by several friends, and the older teens really wanted to see it. Rob and I knew that if we let them watch it, we needed to be there with them.

Even though I had my eyes closed through half the movie, I'm glad I saw it. It touched all of us. To tell you why would spoil the plot for you, so I will refrain. However, I will tell you that good comes from Emily's suffering and that God's hand is seen toward the end.

Warning: This movie is not for the faint of heart. Like I said, I couldn't keep my eyes open through a large part of it. Demonic posession is not pretty and its depiction is necessary to the plotline. (The half with my eyes open was the courtroom drama, and I do love a good courtroom drama.)

The Exorcism of Emily Rose is based on the true story of Anneliese Michel of Germany who died in 1976.

Here are a couple movie reviews:
LifeSite Special Report
And one by a priest:
Orthodox Priest Gives Two Thumbs Up for Exorcism Movie.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Toothbrush Diet

One of my New Year's resolutions is to lose weight. I've decided to go on the Toothbrush Diet. Every time I get the urge to eat between meals, I'll brush my teeth. Then my mouth will feel so fresh and clean, I won't want to eat. I'll lose weight and my dentist will love me.

Hey, I should market this diet. I'll write a book, go on Oprah, and make millions!

Happy Anniversary Carnival of Homeschooling!

The Carnival of Homeschooling is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Considering the immense popularity of the Carnival, I'm surprised that it's only been one year.

Why Homeschool has put together an awesome anniversary edition of the Carnival: Week 53. Make sure to check it out. Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Eve Party

We spent last night celebrating at Chuck and Linda's house. It was a wild partying crowd with around 25 adults and 65 kids. It was so wild in fact that we couldn't wait for midnight and brought the New Year in at 9:30 PM, shooting off fireworks. (Actually, we celebrated early so wee ones would be awake to participate.)

As usual, most of the women hung out in the kitchen to chat away. The men broke up into two groups. One playing cards in the dining room and the other competing in a pool tounament in the basement. Oops, I mean the lower level. The little girls played dress-up and the little boys ran around shooting each other and making grunting noises. The teens played cards and board games, with the occasional hat stealing or dunking in the pond incident. All in all, it was your average family party. Especially when you factor in all the awesome food!

I was feeling a bit tired and suggested to Rob we leave about 10 PM, but Chuck decided to build a bonfire about that time. Rob and the kids can't resist a bonfire. Besides, the Wittmanns are always the last to leave a party and it just wouldn't be right to break tradition. We got home about 1:45 AM.

Before leaving the party, the teens asked Rob is they could watch a movie when we got home. (Because we don't have enough kids of our own, we had two extra teens come home with us.) Rob gave his permission, figuring they'd be too dead tired when they got home. I think Rob forgot he was dealing with teens. We got home and they were more than ready for movie time.

We watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose. This is the kind of movie that you don't just hand to a teen and say "go watch it!" So, Rob and I stayed up with them. (I promise to give a full review of the movie in another post.) We got to bed after 4 AM. Of course, Super Boy was up at 6:30 AM, so napping has been the order of the day today.

So goes the wild and crazy life of a Catholic homeschooling family.