Wednesday, May 30, 2007

PopeStNick5: Jesus of Nazareth

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: Jesus of Nazareth
Author: Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI
Publisher: Doubleday
Date Published: May 15, 2007
ISBN: 0385523416
Price: 24.95 Hardcover
Comments: “This book is… my personal search ‘for the face of the Lord.’” —Benedict XVI

Reviews: NCR(egister)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Colorado Catholic Homeschooling Conference

I had a great time at the Colorado conference last year. Looks like this year's conference is going to be another humdinger:

Rocky Mountain Catholic Home Educators Conference
"Teaching the Art of Living"
June 21-23
Holiday Inn - DIA
Denver, CO

Guest Speakers include: Elizabeth Foss, Eric Genuis, Kelly Roper, Bishop Michael Sheridan

For information call (303) 279-2452 or visit our website at

Catholic Blogger Extraordinaire Recommends The Companion

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,

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

To order The Catholic Homeschool Companion, click HERE.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Confirmation, Community, and Gas Prices

Last Sunday, I had the privilege of being a confirmation sponsor to a very special young lady, Callie. The Confirmation took place in the Grand Rapids Diocese and they do things differently than we do here in the Lansing Diocese.

Rather than the bishop coming to your parish, he has you come to him. Callie's fellow 69 candidates and their families had to drive an hour or more to St. Andrew's Cathedral in Grand Rapids. Additionally, another 5 parishes were confirmed the very same day. My guess is that there were about 200 candidates present.

When I asked a deacon about this, he stated this was a more efficient use of the bishop's time, freeing him up for more important duties. This comment flabbergasted me. What is more important than going out to meet the youth of the Church and confirm them?

At the end of the Mass, the bishop gave another explanation. He felt that bringing all these parishes together under one roof created community. We are, after all, part of a bigger Church. We need to get out of our parishes and meet other Catholics in our diocese. I think he also said something about neighborhood, but at that point he was losing me as all I could think about was whether or not my seven kids, seated far from me, were holding up okay after such a long Mass.

I'm afraid to say that I didn't feel a part of the community that day. It was more like being lost in a crowd. Plus, it was an hour and half drive from my house, it was difficult for my family to find seating, grandparents where unable to attend due to the hardship of the long drive, etc. I overheard quite a bit of rumbling outside the church about gas prices ($3.50 a gallon here) and how it's cheaper for the bishop to drive to a parish than for hundreds of people to drive to him.

I'm sorry to say it was more mayhem than community. We were rushed up to the bishop when it came time for the candidates to be anointed. Callie was literally pushed by the usher when her turn came. The bishop stood there with his thumb up and ready. By the time I got to Callie and my hand on her shoulder, he was already anointing her. Rather than have the sponsor tell the bishop the confirmation name, each candidate was given a name tag. The bishop could then just read the tag instead of spending precious time asking for the name. I felt like cattle, not part of the bigger Church.

Is this a common phenomenon? Does your diocese operate this way?

Boy, do I ever appreciate Bishop Mengeling of our diocese who travels tirelessly (until his recent illness) to meet his flock.

Oh, one more thing. The bishop told the kids he had a gift for them, a very nice prayer book. The book was handed out by ushers at the door as candidates departed. When one of the kids asked the bishop to sign the book for her, the bishop refused, saying if he did it for one then he would have to do it for all. Yep, that's community.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CDC by Steig

The best way to find cool kid books at the library, IMO, is to just find an interesting place in the Dewey Decimal System, sit down at that shelf, and start pulling off books.

This week, I found myself sorting through the 790 area where the math and word game books are located. I found a neat book titled CDC by William Steig.

This is a fun word play book. For example, the title CDC is code for "see the sea." The book is filled with such word puzzles. Can you guess this one: C U N 10-O-C ?

Be forewarned, if you check it out from the library, read it first. I didn't do this and there were a couple of questionable phases. Not horrible, but you may want to skip one or two. But then again, one clue is a saint.

The kids are really loving this book, plus this type of word play helps develop math skills, so I'm going to check out the prequel, CDB when I get to the library next time. That one is shelved in the Juvenile Easy section so is, hopefully, free of parental worry.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Indianapolis Catholic Homeschooling Conference

If you're anywheres near Indy and looking for a Catholic homeschooling conference, got this in my inbox this morning:

Quo Vadis: Where Are You Going?

Holy Family Home Educators and Marian College presents . . .
Indianapolis Catholic Home School Conference and Curriculum Fair
When: Saturday, July 21, 2007
Doors Open at 8:00 a.m.
Ends with Benediction at 5:00 p.m.
Where: Marian College Campus, Indianapolis
3200 Cold Spring Road
Indianapolis, IN 46222
Cost: $25 single/$30 couple - if registered before July 1
$30 single/$35 couple - if registered on or after July 1
FREE to Catholic Parish DRE, Youth Minister and Clergy with business card
Please see our website for more information

Monday, May 21, 2007

Home Again Home Again

The Dayton conference was great. This was their first full blown conference and they did an awesome job. If you missed it, make sure to mark your calendar for next year.

Dr. Ray's table was just behind mine so we were like neighbors and got to visit a wee bit. He brought along 3 of his 10 children and it was really nice to hang out with them while their dad spoke. I think they should start a support group along with my children for kids whose parents talk about them publicly.

I also got to spend a few minutes with Dr. Clark. It's always nice to get to see Dr. Clark. She amazes me with all she does. I was excited to find that Seton is writing their own grade school math series. I purchased the 2nd grade workbook and it is quite lovely. Much like the MCP books only with Catholic pictures here and there plus the answer key is built right in to the workbook. If you want the answer key to MCP math books, you have to purchase it separately. The reason Seton is doing the math series is because MCP has been purchased by Pearson and there are changes in the future. So blessings to Seton for taking up this task.

I also purchased a couple of Seton's handwriting books. My daughters all love their handwriting books and beg for them. (My sons run screaming for the hills when they just hear the word "handwriting.")

I also got to visit with Fran of Illuminated Ink and her teen son. They have the coolest stuff. My girls spent a bit of time and money at the Illuminated Ink table. I'll write more about them later.

Right now, I'm just happy to be home and I'm off to take a nap.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

CE: Are You a Good Candidate for Homeschooling?

The weekly column is up at Catholic Exchange: Are You a Good Candidate for Homeschooling?
I am often asked what qualifications are necessary in order to homeschool. In my opinion there is only one qualification: the burning desire to take complete responsibility for your child's education.

Dayton Here I Come!

If you're anywhere near Dayton, Ohio this weekend, I sure hope you'll be stopping by the Catholic homeschool conference. They have some great speakers and vendors lined up. I'm bringing my shopping list and I'm hoping to see some of you there!

Blogging will be pretty dead until Monday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Teen Library Thing

If you've been sitting around wondering what homeschooled high school students like to read for fun, I'm here to help you.

I head up a group of about 20 homeschooled teens who meet every Wednesday. The third Wed. is our book discussion. The teens all put out names of books they'd like to read as a group and then vote for the next month's book.

They've taken those book titles and cataloged them at Library Thing. Click HERE to check it out.

I'm also going to put it the sidebar (near the bottom). I already have my personal library and homeschool library up. (Though all are works in progress. It could be years before I get ALL our books cataloged, reviewed, tagged, etc.!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Catholic Heritage Curricula: Language of God

Also on my order to CHC was Language of God for Little Folks by Nancy Nicholson. Mrs. Nicholson also wrote My Catholic Speller. I own tons of her titles and love them all.

Little Stories for Little Folks were a God-send 10 years ago when I was teaching my dyslexic child. You get 45 - 8 1/2 by 11 sheets made to be folded into little booklets. Kind of like inexpensive Bob Books. At that time, I needed lots of simple readers for practice. Today, I'm still using them with my non-dyslexic children. I let them color the booklets once they master each one. It makes for a nice reward. Except for the booklet about the rat, my kids love them.

Catholic Stories from Science 2 makes a nice read-aloud for my grade-school and preschool children. Very cute and gives us lots to talk about. And, like all of CHC and Nancy Nicholson's products, very Catholic.

The Language of God Grammar Series is very nice too and recommended to me by my friend Nancy Brown. They're consumable workbooks that weave our Catholic faith into the grammar lessons. They're pretty user-friendly and so far I find them to be thorough.

I look forward to Mrs. Nicholson's future titles!

(I have to admit here that I've never been a big fan of workbooks, but have come to rely on them more heavily lately as I'm teaching 7 different grade levels. And the kids ask for them! However, I am very picky about which workbooks I use and make sure to work them alongside the children engaging them in conversation. And, of course, our main curriculum remains Real Books.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Catholic Heritage Curricula: Speller

I just love Catholic Heritage Curricula. I've been buying stuff from them from way back when, when they were Catholic Heritage Games.

I ordered their My Catholic Speller at the Milwaukee conference for one of my kids who's struggling in spelling. We love it! I hope CHC has a table at the Dayton conference this weekend so I can order some more for the other kids.

If you haven't seen My Catholic Speller, it's a consumable workbook. On the first day, Mom and Child go over the spelling words and then the child completes a workbook page on the words. There is also a Scripture passage to learn that includes some of the week's words. On day two the child completes another workbook page. Then there are quizzes on day three and four with review of any missed words. If the child hasn't yet mastered the spelling words, then a final test is given on the fifth day.

It's a very well laid out program, easy to use, and I find that it also helps with vocabulary and handwriting, as well as Scripture. Very nice!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Danielle Bean Gets The Companion

"The Catholic Homeschool Companion manages to give its readers an unbiased look at a wide variety of different homeschooling methods along with a great wealth of resources, information, inspiration, and support. There is something for everyone in this book!"

-- Danielle Bean, Author, My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic

Thank you everyone who has made a donation or purchased The Catholic Homeschool Companion. I'll continue to off them at the discounted price indefinitely as well as donate my profit to 4-H. I'll also continue to offer the freee sample of Heart and Mind until I run out. And, yes, the books are autographed. (If you want the book personalized or the free magazine, please leave a comment when ordering.)

God has truly blessed this fundraising effort. I haven't raised big money through the blog ($30 so far) but every little bit helps and I so appreciate it! I also appreciate the checks that have been arriving in my mailbox all week through the kids' letter writing campaign.

I got one big check from a rifle club even though we hadn't solicited them. You see, we use their club for a big competition each year and so we didn't feel right about asking for money since they're already so generous to us. But after some of our kids went out to the club to help with their annual spring clean up, they sent a donation all on their own. These are such great kids, people want to help them any way they can. How cool is that!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Matt Pinto Gets The Companion

"This book is awesome, a real treasure trove of information about homeschooling. It will surely give confidence to any parents who are considering homeschooling their children. Wittmann and Mackson are to be commended for the work they've done."
-- Matthew Pinto, Author, Did Adam & Eve Have Belly Buttons?

So far, we've raised $20 for the 4-H kids. Order The Catholic Homeschool Companion HERE and $5 will be donated to the Sharpshooters 4-H Club. Or just click on that Make a Donation button in the sidebar. Tell all your friends!

Thank you to all who have contributed so far!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Inflatable Studios

Got this in my combox:

Hey there! I've recently started a comic strip about homeschooling called "Schools Are For Fish." I saw you had posted the first comic on your site, so I thought I'd let you know the colored version is at:
I set up a site for this and many future comics to come. Hope you enjoy them!
The T-shirt is very cool. I must have one!

Rob and Hillary

Rob's friends were getting worried he may becoming some kind of a liberal with his new vegetarian diet and getting the toxins out of our house. (At least he hasn't started wearing Birkenstocks.)

He showed up to his birthday party in this T-shirt and all their concerns were dashed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Men and Duck Tape

I accidently ripped a hole in my nice white down comforter with a hanger. Before I could take a needle and thread to it, I found Rob had fixed it for me.

With duck tape.

More on Socialization

This CBN article goes perfectly with the sardine cartoon I posted last week: Socialization: Homeschooling vs. Schooling.
When most home educators and school administrators speak of successful socialization, are they referring to the same thing?

A Sweet Deal

My appeal on Friday yielded $15 for the 4-H kids. Still $4,435 to go! Time to sweeten the pot.

If you order a copy of The Catholic Homeschool Companion not only will you get $5 off the list price and have $5 donated to the Sharpshooters 4-H Club, but you will also get a sample issue of Heart and Mind - a $5 value! Now, how can you pass that up? (Just leave a note in the comments when you order that you'd like the sample issue.)

Of course, you're free to send a donation straight to the 4-H kids (how can you refuse those sweet cherub faces?) by just clicking on that MAKE A DONATION button in the sidebar to your right. No amount is too small or too large.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

G. K. Chesterton Unit Study

My weekly column is up at Catholic Exchange. This week I offer a high school study on The Donkey, a very cool poem by the man himself: G. K. Chesterton.
In order to truly learn we need to understand, not just remember more information. When a writer is sharing something that is above our heads, we must rise to understand what it is that the writer is trying to communicate.
Also, if you'd like to check out the official American Chesterton Society blog, then click HERE.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Help 4-H and Save Money!

Have I got a deal for you! You can save money and help kids at the same time. (Scroll down a few paragraphs if you want to skip the saving money part and just help kids.)

I'm offering The Catholic Homeschool Companion for $5 off, plus, for every book sold between now and May 31st, I'll donate another $5 to 4-H. Click HERE to order (Paypal and credit cards).

As my faithful readers know, my two oldest children made the Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports Team along with five other homeschooled teens from our local club, and I got volunteered as Fundraising Coordinator. (I have cool business cards and everything!)

Sending seven teenagers, two coaches, and a chaperone to South Dakota is an expensive proposition. The training and ammunition costs alone are astronomical. However, the kids have risen to the occasion. They're doing pop can drives, giving presentations to local gun clubs, and so on (plus practicing almost daily). So far, they've raised $4,000 of the needed $9,000. We're almost halfway there.

Now, I'm doing my little part. Buy a book (makes a great Mother's Day gift!), save some money, and help kids. You can't get a better deal than that!

Oh, by the way, if you want to donate but already own a copy of The Catholic Homeschool Companion, you can still help out. Take a look at the sidebar on your right, at the top. There's a Paypal button for donations, including credit cards.

Addendum: If you prefer making your donation by mail, please email me, for the address.

Socialization, Homeschooling, and Sardines

My friend Ann sent this cartoon - I love it! Check out the artist's website HERE.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Catholic Mom: Getting the Most Out of Your Library

It's the first of the month and you know what that means, don't you! My monthly column at Catholic Mom is up. I know you've been waiting anxiously all month for this, so click HERE to check it out!