Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why No Question Left Behind

If I should ever wonder if the Catholic teen help blog No Question Left Behind is worth the effort, all I have to do is check the Sitemeter and see how people find the blog in the first place. Several visitors make their way when they Google strings such as:
Studying wicca in secret
Why did God make Satan
I don't see any reason for living
Teen examination of conscience
Patron saint of self harm
Should I date an atheist
Teens how to be intimate with a guy
Why is the rosary so boring
Prayerfully, these people find the answers to their questions. The right answers. We should all remember them and others who are searching in our daily prayer. May they find Truth.

Jars of Clay: Love Came Down at Christmas

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

Oxford Removes Nuns, Monks, and Nature

Just in case you missed the news about Oxford's changes to their Junior Dictionary, pay MacBeth a visit to read all about it. Interesting that they managed to riled up both the environmentalists and the Catholics.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Danielle Bean's Webcast

I heard there are only a few seats left for Danielle Bean's talk at Homeschool Connections. If you haven't tried the live webcast thing yet, I recommend giving it a try. It's only $10 for an evening of interacting online with one of the most popular Catholic homeschooling moms around. You could even make it a Girls Night Out and invite a couple of friends over to watch and listen to Danielle with you (and split the cost). Put on a pot of tea, put out the sweets, sit back, and enjoy.

Josh Groban: O Holy Night

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Has Only Begun

I found myself, as I grow older, growing more and more agitated by the secularization of Christmas. I could go on and on about examples but I will refrain. Otherwise, my rant could go on for pages.

However, I will do my part to keep the Christmas Season alive between now and the Epiphany. (No, Virginia Christmas doesn't end December 25th, that's when it begins.) I'll post a Christmas music video each day between now and January 6th. (Anyone ever hear of the twelve days of Christmas?)

If you know of a particularly good YouTube or GodTube video, please let me know in the comments.

I've also posted a few at the Catholic teen blog, No Question Left Behind.

Celtic Woman: Silent Night

Friday, December 26, 2008

Hey, I Rock!

I came across the following comment at the Faith and Family Forum.
re Catholic Homeschool Companion--Maureen Wittmann rocks! That book has some great essays. Just remember it is a companion, not a handbook.
I couldn't help but think, "This is why I write." Not because I want people to think I rock but that my work is helpful enough to others that they think I rock. Does that make sense?

And the commenter spelled my name correctly -- quite impressive!

Now I'm off to tell my kids I rock. I wonder if they'll believe me?

Celine Dion: O Holy Night

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What Talk Should I Give Next?

I know everyone is swamped with Christmas, but I need your help with a decision.

The live webcast turned out to be really popular. I've gotten tons of positive emails and there has been an unexpected number of downloads of the talk at the website. This has me really excited to get to work on the next webcast. Especially since I now have all the technical issues worked out and I'll do a better job in the future.

So, here's how I need your help. What talk should I do next? Walter suggested Organizing Your Classroom 102. We also talked about doing a series of Teaching Core Subjects through Literature talks. I could do a different talk for each subject (religion, math, history, art/music, science). That's a popular topic at homeschool conferences. I also have in my repertoire: The Thrifty Homeschooler, God's Wildflowers (special needs), and Relax You Can Do It (new and wannabe homeschoolers).

Or I can create something completely new like I did with Organizing Your Classroom 101.

So, here's your chance to have a say. Leave a comment and let me know what you'd like to see offered. There will probably be a small fee for future talks to help cover expenses, so think about what you'd be willing to shell out $5 or $10 to hear.

Thank you!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Unusual First Names

My niece's boyfriend's name is Semaj. Can you guess how his mom came up with that name? Leave your guess in the comments.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Last Minute Christmas Idea

If you're looking for a last minute Christmas gift for a young lady, go check out True Girl magazine. My girls have subscribed for a while now and really love it.

Check out their advertisers while you're at it:

Band Aid - Do they know it's christmas /Feed the world/ 1984

If this doesn't take you back to the 80's I don't know what will . . .

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Organization 101 Last Night

The webcast last night was really fun to do. There were some technical glitches, mostly on my part, but we got through it okay. Next time it'll be smooth sailing. Thank you to everyone who attended! It took a little patience to wait for us to get started, and my audio kept cutting out, and it wasn't until I was well into my talk that I realized that I could work the Power Point Presentation from my end. But I think the talk itself went okay. It was really fun to see all the names there -- some familiar to me and some new. The chat feature was neat -- people were able to type in comments and questions as I spoke.

I'm looking forward to doing this again. The next time will go much smoother and I'll be more comfortable with the technology. Walter and I talked about maybe doing a series on For the Love of Literature. What talks would you want to see us do?

Last night's web seminar will be available free for download at Homeschool Connections sometime today. I'll let you know when it's up.

Next on the schedule is Danielle Bean. And I think that Elizabeth Foss will present in February. I'm looking forward to attending their talks!

UPDATE: The audio is now available for free download. I haven't listened to it, but you'll probably want to skip through the first 10 minutes where we're working through audio issues. Also, there are some buttons on the top to the right of the screen to view the chat feature (lots of tips and ideas from attendees as the talk goes on will be be found there) and the video.

Boldface Meme

I stole this from MacBeth who stole it from Karen with the shockingly clever blog title.

I don't normally do the meme thing, but I admit it was fun. Read and you'll know more about than you really wanted. If it's bolded then I did it.

1. Started your own blog (duh)
2. Slept under the stars (in my younger days -- these days I insist on a roof)
3. Played in a band (yeah right)
4. Visited Hawaii (I came really close to staying -- it was so beautiful)
5. Watched a meteor shower (once laying on the top of my friend's souped up Cougar with a bunch of other teenagers)
6. Given more than you can afford to charity (it's more fun that way)
7. Been to Disneyland (too expensive!)
8. Climbed a mountain (does a Missouri mountain count)
9. Held a praying mantis (I'm a homeschooling mom aren't I)
10. Sang a solo (trust me -- you wouldn't want to hear that!)
11. Bungee jumped (ummm, not that I remember)
12. Visited Paris (when do we leave?)
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (that would be so way cool!)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (does the art of writing count?)
15. Adopted a child (did my kids put you up to this one -- they've been pushing for us to adopt because we just don't have enough of our own)
16. Had food poisoning (it was horrible!!!)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I've been to the top of the Gateway Arch but I took the elevator, which if you've ever been to the Arch you know is kinda scary)
18. Grown your own vegetables (doesn't everyone?)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France (oooh, that would be fun)
20. Slept on an overnight train (can anyone say motion sickness)
21. Had a pillow fight (still do -- Rob is such an easy target)
22. Hitchhiked (I was young and really, really stupid)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (just yesterday)
24. Built a snow fort (and even had snow fights)
25. Held a lamb (the kids want to do sheep and goats for 4-H so ask me this in a few months)
26. Gone skinny dipping (yeah right -- even in my wild misspent youth I was too modest for skinny dipping)
27. Run a Marathon (would love to but that shortness of breath thing just gets in the way)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice (Rob, honey, let's do this next week)
29. Seen a total eclipse (with the paper with the little pinhole and the whole bit)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (my dad, the outdoors man, used to wake me up as a kid with, "Maureen! Hurry! You got to see the awesome sunrise this morning!")
31. Hit a home run (it was a small field)
32. Been on a cruise (Rob, let's go on one of those ones with Scott Hahn, Mike Aquilina, and Steve Ray!!!!)
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (Sparky was a newborn -- I'm crazy)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (would loooove to go to Ireland!!!)
35. Seen an Amish community (surprisingly no)
36. Taught yourself a new language (languages are NOT my forte)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (generally speaking)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person (maybe MacBeth will take me)
39. Gone rock climbing (loads of times BC -- before children)
40. Seen Michelangelo's David (okay, we've all already figured out that I haven't been to Europe)
41. Sung karaoke (16 years ago on a Barbie version at a family Christmas party)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt (no, but I saw way cool blow holes in Hawaii)
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant (it was a homeless man and it was Burger King)
44. Visited Africa (safari!)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (a river beach)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
(at 14 after back surgery -- it took me home)
47. Had your portrait painted (It's hanging in my parent's dining room -- I was only 6)
48. Gone deep sea fishing (my Grandpa Oakley went once)
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person (ooh, ooh, can I go with Scott Hahn, Mike Aquilina, and Steve Ray? and Rob too!)
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (sigh)
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (I meant to go snorkeling in Hawaii but didn't get around to it)
52. Kissed in the rain (Rob is so romantic)
53. Played in the mud (just last summer)
54. Gone to a drive-in theater (does this age me?)
55. Been in a movie (though I was on the news shaking President Ford's hand)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China (maybe some day)
57. Started a business (can anyone say Amway?)
58. Taken a martial arts class (I watched my kid take a martial arts class)
59. Visited Russia (okay already, I'm not a bold traveler)
60. Served at a soup kitchen (everyone ought to do it)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (I even won the prize for selling the most cookies)
62. Gone whale watching (I had in-laws who once lived in Alaska and could watch whales from their living room window)
63. Got flowers for no reason (though it's been while -- someone email Rob)
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma (I passed out the last time)
65. Gone sky diving (I have a girlfriend who used to sky dive)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp (I don't think I could handle it emotionally)
67. Bounced a check (it was the bank's mistake)
68. Flown in a helicopter (in Louisiana to visit an oil rig -- it was awesome)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (I'm probably one of few women who answer no)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial (I've seen it from a distance on the March for Life)
71. Eaten Caviar (I've also eaten squid, baby octopus, and snails)
72. Pieced a quilt (my girls have but I'm a domestic dud)
73. Stood in Times Square (don't really have a desire for this one)
74. Toured the Everglades (I've been to Florida)
75. Been fired from a job (I was young)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London (when I go to visit the ancestors from the other side of the family)
77. Broken a bone (my middle finger -- I won't tell you how I did it -- I was young)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (I was young and he was cute)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person (I've been to the Rockies)
80. Published a book (yeppers)
81. Visited the Vatican (ooh, ooh, can I go with Scott Hahn, Mike Aquilina, and Steve Ray? and Rob too!)
82. Bought a brand new car (I was young)
83. Walked in Jerusalem (ditto on the Vatican and Sistine answer)
84. Had your picture in the newspaper (the first time I was 16 and got snowed in Bismark, ND with a bunch of other high school kids from Missouri)
85. Read the entire Bible (I should've taken Jeff Cavin's advice and skipped Leviticus)
86. Visited the White House (I've seen it on the March for Life)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (if fish count)
88. Had chickenpox (I only had 3 spots)
89. Saved someone’s life (I gave life)
90. Sat on a jury (they don't let you bring nursing babies or homeschooling students with you)
91. Met someone famous (Gerald Ford and Earth, Wind, & Fire -- remind me to tell you the story sometime)
92. Joined a book club (doesn't everyone)
93. Lost a loved one (more than one)
94. Had a baby (a few in fact)
95. Seen the Alamo in person (it was so different than I expected)
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake (but it's so . . . salty)
97. Been involved in a law suit (I sued the drunk who forgot to stop at the red light even though I was stopped in front of him)
98. Owned a cell phone (finally)
99. Been stung by a bee (more than once)
100. Read an entire book in one day (doesn't everyone)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Discussion Questions: Tale of Despereaux

Received in my mailbox:
Here are discussion questions for the film, "The Tale of Despereaux," which opens this weekend. They were compiled by Mary Pride of "Practical Homeschooling" and Laura Berquist, Headmaster of Mother of Divine Grace School. I'm very grateful
for their efforts.


John Seel, Ph.D.


Discussion Questions Despereaux
1. What quality or qualities make Despereaux different than those around him?
2. How are Despereaux's unusual physical qualities related to his moral
3. How do Despereaux's unusual qualities serve him in his quest?

Good and Evil
1. What was the greatest good done in The Tale of Despereaux, and what was the
greatest evil?
2. How is good brought out of evil in this story?
3. What causes the rain to fall again, the sun to shine, and the king to leave
his dark room?
4. What plunges the Kingdom of Dor into darkness and how is the light restored?
5. How are the wrongs done in the story rectified? What single quality most
changes the various unhappy situations for the better?
6. Who (or Which character) in The Tale of Despereaux is responsible for the
restoration of the Kingdom of Dor?

1. Despereaux ignores the rules of his people. Why? Does he live by any rules?
(Remember that a rule is a measure of action.)
2. What most motivates Despereaux in all his actions?
3. Do other characters share the vision Despereaux has, either from the
beginning or intermittently?
4. The movie says that when we are hurt, sometimes we look for someone or
something to blame. Was the king wise to blame soup and rats for his grief? What
should he have done instead?
5. Several characters in the movie pursue their dreams. Is it always good to
have a dream, or are some dreams distractions from our real callings and
temptations to envy others?
6. After the queen died, it seemed all the king did was sit around, play sad
tunes, look at her picture, and cry. Is this how a king should behave?

1. Does Despereaux fulfill his quest to tell the Princess the end of the story?
2. Does the story that Despereaux reads have an end?

Other Characters
1. What quality in the Princess prevents her from ever being truly imprisoned?
Do others in the story have that same quality?
2. What does it mean to be a princess? Princess Pea is a princess. Is Mig a
3. Why couldn't the king, sitting in his dark room and playing his music, hear
4. Why and how did the king shut out the light from his kingdom?
5. Why does Roscuro abandon his quest and how does he find it again?
6. What is the role of Boldo in The Tale of Despereaux? Does he help achieve the

Special thanks to Laura Berquist, Mary Pride, and John Seel for writing these
discussion questions.

Vocation: Why Not Priest

Joan Stromberg sent this video to me via Facebook. It is really awesome and I can't wait to share with all my boys!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Tale of Despereaux

I'm such a geek. I can't wait to see this movie.

I absolutely love The Tale of Despereaux. If you haven't read it, go right now to the bookstore and buy it. I'm not even sending you to the library as usual. It's worth owning. And after you've had a chance to read it you could even share it with the children.

Bravery, chivalry, honesty, selflessness and all kinds of virtues are extolled and yet not preachy -- just a plain good story. You can't get better than that.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Puffs with Lotion Rock

I've had a wicked cold the past three days and all I have to say is, "God bless the inventor of Puffs with Lotion!"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Virtual Homeschool Conferences

Just a reminder that the organization online seminar is Wednesday, December 17th at 8:30 PM EASTERN. I so look forward to seeing you all there! Walter and I did a test run last night and it worked out great. I'll be broadcasting from my dining room. Hopefully, no screaming children will run through the room in the middle of the conference!

If you signed up and can't make it for some reason, make sure to drop your reservation so that the next person on the waiting list can make it.

Next month will feature Danielle Bean. Yep, Danielle Bean! Should be way cool. The topic will be Caring Connections: Maximizing the Benefits of Homeschool Family Relationships. Danielle's conference will take place January7, 2009 and there is a $10 fee.

Thank you to Walter Crawford for making this all happen. The plan is to make these virtual homeschool conferences available year round.

Dysfunction Junction

Having grown up on Schoolhouse Rock, as well as having a houseful of ADD boys, I couldn't help but laugh at this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Prayers for Jon Baker

This has been a difficult week for my family. Last Thursday we learned a very dear friend and neighbor passed away. It seems almost odd to refer to him as our friend and neighbor as he was really family. Jon never married nor did he have children. He adopted our family as his own and we adopted him right back. In fact, he was godfather to our youngest son.

Jon's death was completely unexpected. Living alone, it was a couple of days before his body was found. Needless to say our hearts have been poured out this week over the loss of Jon. The children took it very hard. They loved him as one loves a favorite uncle.

Today Jon will be laid to rest at at noon. While we mourn for Jon, we also rejoice. Eight years ago Jon found his way home to the Catholic Church. And he didn't become one of those Sunday Catholics but one on fire with the love of Jesus each and every day.

Please pray for Jon's soul in a special way today. And please also pray for the children, that they will find peace today as they attend Jon's funeral.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Top Ten Catholics of 2008

Lisa Hendey, famous for, made up a list of the Top Ten Most Fascinating Catholics of 2008.

Who would be on your list?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Male Nursing Student Numbers

The female - male ratio at Steubie for nursing students is 12-1. Of the 60 students in Christian's pre-nursing program, 5 are men. If my nursing student son ends up in the priesthood instead of the married life, I will be able to honestly say that it was meant to be!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Send Your Young Men to Franciscan University

Christian tells me the female to male ratio at FUS is 4 - 1. Four to one! If you're a guy looking for just the right girl, Steuby may be just the place for you!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Steve Ray's Signature Line

That Stephen Ray is a busy guy . . .

Pilgrimages: Follow Steve Ray in The Footprints of Jesus & Mary & other trips
Study the Bible with 10,000 Catholics! Catholic Scripture Study Intl.
Discount Bible Study & Catholic Software:
Ask Steve to Speak & Press Kit: www.Invite

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Catholic Books for Christmas

Stateside delivery guaranteed
by December 24th, or your order is free
. . . if you order by 12/12/08.
Please forward this email to others
who may be interested.

All sales are final; no returns;
quantities limited. Offer cannot be
combined with any other
discounts whatsoever.

Sophia Institute Press

Need Fiction Ideas for Boys

I'm going to be out all day so I'm leaving you all with an assignment. I have another mom looking for book suggestions. Here's her email:
I'm just thoroughly enjoying your blog with all the suggestions of fiction for the 6- and 12-year old girls. But (of my 28 homeschooling students), I need suggestions for my 23 BOYS. Though my students are in grades 4-8, if the questions on your blog were the same as they now are but for "sons," I'd really be in hog heaven! Any ideas of where I could find suggestions of great BOY fiction?
Wow, 28 homeschooling students! We definitely need to hand this mom some ideas. What are your grade and middle school boys' favorite books?

PS My boys are currently in a Warriors faze. I read the first book and have the review written in my head. Hopefully, I'll get it written on the blog in the next few days.

ADDENDUM: You'll find the Warriors review here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'm Still Here

It's been few days since I've blogged. Well, blogged here. I have been doing some work over at the No Question Left Behind blog, pre-posting through the end of December. I've also been getting a lot of grunt work done on the new book. And then there's that homeschooling thing. The children do still expect to be educated, fed, and clothed no matter my blogging schedule.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Blues Kind of a Family

Can you guess the Wittmann's favorite team?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pray for Thanksgiving Travelers

I was planning on leaving with 4 of the kids (Rob and the rest joining us later) at 6 this morning for St. Louis but alas the weather and the roads are not cooperating. We got a couple of inches of snow but our new county has not plowed or put down any salt. The dirt roads surrounding us are especially treacherous. So, we'll wait a few hours before taking off. Once we get to Indianapolis we should be out of the bad weather.

Christian will be joining us on Wednesday as my brother-in-law, the over-the-road truck driver, is picking Christian up in the 18-wheeler on his way home from picking up a load in Pennsylvania. Should be a fun and new experience for Christian.

This is the busiest weekend of the year for travelers. Please pray for all those on the road and in the air as well as for sunny skies across the nation. Any extra prayers for my family's safe travel would be extra appreciated.

Monday, November 24, 2008

St. Justin's Treatise on the Resurrection

I'm swamped and too busy to blog as I'm getting ready for a Thanksgiving trip. So, I'll leave you with an email Rob sent to me and a few friends yesterday:

Here we have below in the Commentary from perhaps the greatest of early Church theologians incontrovertible evidence that Luther's and Calvin's dualism regarding the flesh and spirit (derived in part from some of Paul's and perhaps even Augustine's borderline dualism) is far removed from essential and orthodox Christianity. God created us flesh and bone in HIS image, then breathed life (spirit) into our material being, then reincarnated His Son in our very flesh and bones, how could Luther and Calvin view the body as utterly irredeemable? In point of Christian orthodox teaching, as Justin makes clear, the body and soul are inseparable in our redemption and as Christ attested in His resurrection. One of my professors in first year theology in the seminary took this so far as to argue that Luther and Calvin were actually "not Christian" in that their doctrine that the body is irredeemable essentially denied the true meaning of the Incarnation. It is possible to see in this dualism the seeds of Christianity's rejection in the broader secular culture as causing a pernicious misunderstanding of orthodox Christian teaching on the balance between material and spiritual life when their interconnectedness is properly understood. One can also see in this great theological error underlying Protestantism a rejection of the belief that pagan culture itself can be redeemed and in this the deepening chasm between the secular and Christian life. Life is meant to be a celebration of God's unceasing and boundless love for us and that celebration includes our material well-being shared with others rather than hoarded or exploited. Subject to the Law, and in moderation as Aristotle would say, let us celebrate and Give Thanks.

Now this misunderstanding and resultant chasm has spread into the field of biomedicine such that more and more people equate Christianity with a belief that suffering is to be preferred over medical advancement. Christ's Resurrection showed that redemption of our being did not eliminate all suffering but redeemed it for the Resurrection of the Body and Soul. There can be no complete elimination of suffering, only its redemption in Christ. But grounded in a proper understanding of the body's redemptive nature, Christians do believe in ethical scientific advancement in medicine to relieve and mitigate human suffering. That is using our talents in God's image.

Let us pray for our spiritual leaders that they have the fortitude to continue to teach the historic Truth of the Church and that our people's eyes be opened to that Truth. Let us also pray for the conversion of our Protestant brethren as Unity is essential if we hope to redeem our pagan culture.

Commentary of the day:

Saint Justin (c.100-160), philosopher, martyr
Treatise on the Resurrection, 8 (Migne 1994, p.354 rev.)

"He is not God of the dead, but of the living"

The flesh is precious in God's sight; of all his works it is the one he prefers and so it is natural that he would save it...Don't you think it would be ridiculous if something that was created with so much care, that which the Creator considers to be more precious than anything else, were to fall back into nothingness?

When a sculptor or painter wants the images they have fashioned to remain to testify to their glory, they restore them once they have deteriorated. And would God see his property, his work, fall back into nothingness and exist no more? We would call a «laborer of uselessness» anyone who built a house to destroy it or who allowed it to fall into ruins when he might have kept it standing. In the same way, would we not be accusing God of creating the flesh without purpose? But no, the Immortal one is not like that; he who is by nature the Spirit of the universe cannot be a fool!... The truth is that God has called the flesh to be born again and has promised it eternal life.

Because wherever the good news of man's salvation is proclaimed, it is proclaimed also for the flesh. For what, indeed, is man if not a living being endowed with intelligence, formed of soul and body? Does the soul alone make a man? No, for it is the soul of a man. Are we to call «man» the body? No, we say that it is the body of a man. So if neither of these two elements makes up man by itself alone, it is the union of the two that we call «man». However, it is man that God has called to life and resurrection: not part of him but the whole man, namely soul and body. So wouldn't it be absurd if, while both exist according to and within the same reality, one of them should be saved and the other not?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Organizing Your Homeschool Classroom Update

Walter has opened up the online conference, Organizing Your Classroom 101, to 15 more participates. So, if you were on the waiting list you are now enrolled. Plus there 6 newly opened spaces if you'd like to still join us.

If for some reason you can't make the virtual conference after you enrolled, please make sure to go back and cancel your registration. That way, someone else can take your place if there ends up being a waiting list again.

Walter and I did some testing the other night. One thing I found was that the conferencing software didn't work on my Firefox browser system. I had to get switch over to Explorer.

Make sure to show up a little bit early as there is some software you may have to download -- it only takes a couple of minutes.

There is one other bug we're trying to work out. My internet is not exactly stable way out here in the boondocks. It has a tendency to go completely down now and then and it probably wouldn't be a good thing if my connection went out right in the middle of my presentation! So I'm looking for another location. Maybe I can drive into town and give the conference from my car in the parking lot of Starbucks. Hey, wouldn't that be fun watching me on video as I sit in my car! There are a few other options so not to worry -- I'll get it figured out before next month.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all on December 17th!

Addendum: The conference went great and you can now download the recorded event for free. Just click on the link the post and then click on Recorded Events. I suggest fast forwarding through the first 15 minutes where we were just getting logistics out of the way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Helping Those in Need

The "Helping Those in Need" is a new project from Margot Davidson at Hillside Education. Margot's goal is to help our fellow homeschoolers who run into financial trouble and need a little help. She is currently helping a family whose dad recently had his pay severely cut along with the family's health insurance. And just when two of the young children were diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

Margot is accepting donations of new and gently used books to sell. She'll then send the proceeds to families in need.

Stop by to see what's for sale on the donation page here!

Or, you can click on the "Donate" page, to simply donate a dollar amount.

The History of Homeschooling: Documentary

This is an advertisement for a documentary on the history of the modern homeschooling movement: The Rock From Which We Were Hewn.

I remember back in the late '70's a family that was on the news several days running because they refused to put their children in school. The parents were arrested for the truency of their children. At the time I found it odd that a parent wouldn't allow their child an education. I hadn't yet heard the word homeschooling.

Then in the 80's I came to know a homeschooler in college. I immediately fell in love with the concept and made the decision then and there to home educate my children even though it would be nine more years before my first child was born.

When I first began homeschooling it was not uncommon to meet other homeschool families who were persecuted by the state for their educational choice. Michigan was one of the hardest states to homeschool in before the state Supreme Court overruled Michigan law. Yet, today our Democratically controlled house would like nothing better than put restrictions on homeschooling in the name of the State's interest.

The ad above looks to incite fear, at least to me, with it's music and dramatization. But then maybe a little fear isn't an altogether bad thing. I certainly don't want to go back to the days where I would have to black out my basement windows and keep my children locked inside during school hours.

We should never forget the homeschoolers who went before us and fought for our parental rights.

Monday, November 17, 2008

TV and Internet Parental Controls

I received an email from a fellow Catholic author on an article he's writing:
As a Catholic mother, however, I was wondering if maybe you can help me with the next story I am working on for OSV. I am looking at parental controls for the internet and television that help parents keep track of what their kids are doing online or are watching on TV. I'm hoping to talk to Catholic parents who use these types of tools to prevent their kids from accessing or viewing inappropriate material. Is this something that you've tried in your family?
My response?
This is something I've been thinking about myself lately.

The control on TV has always been easy as we didn't do TV. Period. However, my husband recently (as in two weeks ago) installed a satellite so he can watch hockey. Hockey does rule in this house, but . . . sigh. Okay, we now get EWTN but we also get all those dreaded Nick stations and sell-you-stuff stations and so on. Though we do have the basic (so-called family friendly) package. So, I'm thinking about parental controls at this moment.

On the computer, I have a friend who has some kind of parent spyware attached so they know exactly what the kids are doing -- right down to the content of emails and IM'ing. Their kids are unaware that the parents are watching. I don't know if I want to do that or not -- but you can bet that I'm seriously considering it. Right now, my computer parental control consists of the computer being set in the middle of our living space. Kind of hard to sneak onto inappropriate sites when Mom is walking by every other second carrying laundry or helping a little with homework.

I'm going to post your question to my blog and let's see what other parents have to say.
So my dear readers, what do you have to say on this topic? I'd love to see lots of detailed comments for this writer as well as for us parents who are looking for help in monitoring television and computer usage.

Welcome Abigeál Rose!

Congratulations to the Fry Family!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catholic Daily Planner

Michele over at Family-Centered Press has the January to December 2009 planners available now. They are quite lovely and totally worth the price! The teens and I all use them, though I learned long ago to order them early. They're very popular so can go fast.

Hey, they'd make great Christmas presents too! Michele sells planners designed specifically for women or men. Plus you can add menu and/or homeschool planning pages. You couldn't ask for more!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Organizing Tips and Pics

I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that the Organizing Your Classroom 101 online conference is all filled up. But you can still get on the waiting list in case someone drops off.

The good news is that you can still take part in the online conference even if not live. First, you can download it the next day. Second, we can have our own little blog conference right here.

Here's what I'm thinking. Send your classroom organizing tips and ideas to me either in the comments here or via email. I would really, really, really like some pictures too. Say if you have a white board your husband made to stand on your kitchen table, take a picture. Or if you have baskets dedicated to each child's books, take a picture. Or if you have your workbooks lined up on the book shelf in those plastic magazine holders, take a picture.

Then, I'll share your tips here. I'll feature a different tip each day, starting the day after the online conference. And it would be really cool to have your pictures with your tips. Additionally, I'll share your tips and pictures with the conference attendees on December 17th.

Here are the topics I'd like to cover:
Organizing a classroom (workspace and books)
Planning (schedules and itineraries)
Record keeping (proof of education)
Computer files (Student papers, records, planning, etc.)
It'll be fun, so join me and get those tips to me within the next week or so.

UPDATE: The tips and pictures will be up at The Thrifty Homeschooler blog starting January 1st, 2009. I'll be running a series of posts on the topic of Organizing Your Classroom 101 over a couple of weeks or so.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Book Suggestions Needed for 6 to 12 Year Olds

From time to time, I get letters from moms desperately searching for good fiction for their children. It's a pretty common problem among us Catholic homeschooling moms with veracious readers on our hands. They go through books like water and we're kept on our toes searching out acceptable literature. Books that are well written, fun to read, and raise up their hearts. Is it really so much to ask?

Here are a couple recent letters:
I am hoping you can help me by offering some specific suggestions for authors that I could allow my 12 year old daughter to read. I currently dread library time because the books that I look over are so full of "stuff" that I have to say no. She reads very quickly and is looking for more books similar to [Regina Doman's]. We have read all of [Regina Doman's] books and the first JPII book (and anything else I can find). Do you have any suggestions of authors who write in modern times that I can give to her? "I can't stand not being able to read--you're soooooo mean!" can only be heard so many times. I completely understand her need--I am like that also. Unfortunately, as a child, I had no monitoring and I was well-versed in all things Harlequin (to my true misfortune). Thank you for any help you may be able to offer.

And also

I have tried to find a guide in Catholic homeschooling sites about this question I have but not finding much. I thought of asking you.

My daughter is 6 yo. She is reading so well right now that I am worried I can't keep up with providing good literature ... I know it sounds silly but last night I brought home the James Harriot Treasury for Children and she read one hour before bed and one hour in the morning and she finished it! Her reading comprehension is really good but I am still surprised and unsure. We read a lot at home and have bookshelves full of books. I also grew up like that, but I wasn't reading the Little House in the Prairie series by myself at 6 years old! This morning she just asked me if she could start Charlotte's Web. Last night I brought home all the books for this year's curriculum, but I think she'll be done with them in a couple of months ... What do I do?

Let's help these two moms out. What are your suggestions?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Online Homeschool Conferences

I have some really exciting news to share. Catholic homeschool dad Walter Crawford has decided to take his knowledge of webcasting and create online seminars for other Catholic homeschoolers.

This is all brand new and you can be a part of it! The first online seminar will feature Dr. Mary Kay Clark of Seton Home Study. It'll be taking place Wednesday so you'll need to sign up right away. The cool part is that it's FREE!

In the future there will be a fee in order to cover Walter's time and costs, but for now he's offering this service at no charge. Thank you Walter!

I'll be the featured speaker in December I sure hope that you'll join me in this new venture. I've never done anything like this so I'm pretty excited about it. I guess I better get to work ASAP on preparing my talk! I promise to write more in the upcoming days about what to expect. I may even be asking for your help in putting together a Power Point Presentation for my talk.

Vote Now: 2008 Homeschool Blog Awards

Voting has begun for the 2008 Homeschool Blog Awards. Go check out all of the nominees. Of course, I hope you'll vote for The Thrifty Homeschooler and Unity of Truth while you're there. Thank you to those who made the nominations -- it's an honor.

Amazon Purchases and Children's Literature Book

I could use my readers' help. If you're planning on making any purchases at you could help me out by clicking on the Amazon ad in the sidebar (or any of the book cover graphics). Amazon will then give me a small commission to be used on future purchases.

Here's why:
When I wrote For the Love of Literature, my library was a huge help. There is no way I could have afforded to purchase the 900 books listed in For the Love of Literature but I could borrow them from the library. My former library in Lansing is part of a huge library district. What I couldn't find through inner-library loan I could borrow through their inter-library system. They had the gold standard when it came to library systems. Then I moved.

Unfortunately, my new city's library system doesn't even begin to compare in services. We have one country library. The books are old and tattered. There is no inner- or inter-library lending. None. Nada. Zero. Zip. They tell me they are working on implementing an inter-library loan system but it's at least six months down the road.

I've already put my new book, 100 Books for Kids Who Love to Read on hold for the past several months. This book is taking a lot of research and a lot of reading. I've purchased a good number books that I can't get at my library but I've already wiped out the school budget for the next few years doing so. Now I'm stalled.

This is why I am coming to you. If you're going to make a purchase through anyway (and it doesn't have to be books -- it can be software, video games, appliances or anything), you can click there through my blog and help me purchase books for my research.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Vote Now for the American Papist

If you're discouraged about the recent presidential election, here's your opportunity to place a vote to make you feel better. You can help a nice Catholic young man pay off a few student loans.

Go vote for Thomas Peters at the 2008 Student Blogging Awards. Go vote now, I'll wait here for you.

Are you back? If you're not familiar with Thomas thanks for trusting me and going to vote. You really ought to check out his blog American Papist. It's one of my very favorites. Hey, the Papal Picture of the Day alone is worth a daily visit.

Now go tell all your friends to vote for Thomas.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Where She Becomes the Mother of Four Teens

Tomorrow my 12-year old becomes a 13-year old and I become the mother of four teenagers.

I know I should be scared, very scared, but I'm excited. He's turning into such a fine young man. He always has a kind word and a hug for his mom. As he's grown older, he's actually grown helpful around the house. Gosh, the day may even come soon when he does schoolwork without endless prodding. Hey, it could happen!

Happy birthday Buster!!!! I love you!!!!

(Buster picked out the picture. Sparky says to tell you he took it.)

PS Happy birthday wishes for tomorrow also go to Mike Aquilina, Patrick Madrid, and Jeff Cavins. As Buster would say, "All the cool people are born on November 8th."

Addendum -- Dorothy Day also shares a birthday with Buster. Both future saints I'm sure. I hope.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pray for Barak Obama

Today is a super busy day for us and not much time for the Internet. I just want to pop in here and say that all our prayers were not for naught. We do not know God's plan nor do we know what great thing will rise from the ashes.

Instead we are called to greater prayer and more fasting. Pray for President-elect Obama and his future administration. Pray for conversion. Pauline-style conversion.

And, while we're at it, let's pray for the good health of the Supreme Court justices.

Oh, one more quick thing before I load up the kids in the van. I talked with our Right to Life lobbyist friend yesterday morning. I thought perhaps he'd be on vacation after the long, hard battle against Proposition 2. No, he was already hard at work with 12 bills in his head to fight the coming embryonic stem cell research. If he's not giving up, I'm not giving up. The unborn are counting on us.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Marshall Fritz May He Rest in Peace

Yesterday at 2:45 PM, awaiting the Hour of Mercy, our dear friend Marshall Fritz was called home after a hard fought battle with pancreatic cancer. Marshall was a great defender of freedom and of the Catholic faith. It seems so fitting that Nov. 4, 2008 would be his last day with us. Please pray for his soul and for his family.

We'll miss you Marshall.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Message of Hope

This is an absolutely amazing video. Don't miss it but make sure to have a Kleenex handy.

Novena for Election: Day Nine

A Prayer for our Nation as we Prepare to Elect our Leaders
O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.
We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you.
We thank you for your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.
We thank you for the opportunity that this election year puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.
Lord, we pray that your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation,
Their response to you requires that they be politically active.
Awaken your people to know that they are not called to be a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.
Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to you in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.
Awaken your people to a commitment to justice
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when human lives begin,
And not one moment later.
Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of your kingdom.
May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Aborted Children, Please Intercede for Us

A friend sent this to me and I thought I'd pass it on. I wouldn't have thought of this myself -- it's a wonderful idea.

I shared the following inspiration with someone today and she told me that it was a great idea and that we should try to spread it quickly. So here it is - we should petition all the aborted babies in Heaven to intercede for us in this election.

There are millions of them, and so precious to God, can you imagine the power?????

In addition to prayer and fasting, the intercession of these little ones can be a powerful secret weapon that the other side could certainly never use.

"Victory in war does not depend upon the size of the army, but on strength that comes from Heaven." (1Maccabees 3:19)

If you think this is a good idea, please pass it along to as many people as you can.

Fr. Drabik

Someone else suggested to me the placing of blessed salt around your polling place or the courthouse. Couldn't hurt! I imagine that you'd want to do it tonight or early in the morning before the polls open, if possible.

The Selflessness of Socialism

Apparently, being against socialism is selfish. The government on the other hand is selfless when it steals my hard-earned money to pay for programs I am against, instead of allowing me to share the wealth voluntarily to programs I support. Interesting.

If Senator Obama wants to share his toys and split his PB&J sandwich, then that is selfless. Good for him. When he is forced to give up his toys and PB&J against his will, it is selfish on behalf of the authority who forces him to do so.

Perhaps the senator should study up on the definitions of socialism and communism.

Under My Plan Electric Bills Will Skyrocket

In his own words:

Novena for Election: Day Eight

A Prayer for our Nation as we Prepare to Elect our Leaders
O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.
We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you.
We thank you for your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.
We thank you for the opportunity that this election year puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.
Lord, we pray that your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation,
Their response to you requires that they be politically active.
Awaken your people to know that they are not called to be a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.
Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to you in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.
Awaken your people to a commitment to justice
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when human lives begin,
And not one moment later.
Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of your kingdom.
May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Spreading the Wealth

As we tricked or treated on Halloween:

"Mom, is it okay to go to the house with the Obama for President sign?"

"Of course it's okay honey."

"Yeah, Obama wants to share the wealth. We should get twice the candy at the Obama houses!"

Nine Hour Novena for the Election

If you were not able to join us for the daily election novena, then please consider a nine-hour novena. Set your timer and pray the election prayer every hour for nine hours.

Novena for Election: Day Seven

A Prayer for our Nation as we Prepare to Elect our Leaders
O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.
We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you.
We thank you for your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.
We thank you for the opportunity that this election year puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.
Lord, we pray that your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation,
Their response to you requires that they be politically active.
Awaken your people to know that they are not called to be a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.
Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to you in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.
Awaken your people to a commitment to justice
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when human lives begin,
And not one moment later.
Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of your kingdom.
May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.