Thursday, August 28, 2008

Catholic Homeschooling Magazine

Have you all seen mater et magistra yet? It is absolutely gorgeous.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it is the new Catholic homeschooling magazine. Margot Davidson of Hillside Education took over the ever struggling Heart and Mind and pumped a whole lot of life into it. Margot has been in the publishing biz a while now and really knows her stuff. Not only is the cover art and layout beautiful, but the content topnotch.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Haystack Full of Needles Again

Alice Gunther's new book continues to amaze. Here are yet more positive reviews.

Melissa Wiley
Karen Edmisten
Leticia Velasquez
Pamela Pilch

Here is an excerpt from the forward by none other than Laura Berquist:

I homeschooled my own children for 23 years. I loved those days, and I can honestly say we had a very good time. Nonetheless, I wish I had had this book. It is practical in the very best sense; it gives excellent, concrete suggestions for providing formative social activities for children and adults, and does so in the overarching light of charity. Alice reminds us to be reasonable in our expectations for ourselves and for others. She gives specific suggestions about time and location that I know, from my own experience, will make a real difference in the success of the activities. I have already taken suggestions from her book and passed them on to other mothers, urging them to buy this book as soon as it is available.

Everything in A Haystack Full of Needles is guided by the principle that we must see Christ in all those around us. That is what makes this such a valuable resource. Frankly, I think it is a valuable resource not only for those who are homeschooling, but for all who have school age children or grandchildren. Alice talks throughout the book about her good friends and she does it in such a way that she, and they, become our friends, too. They become the very best kind of friends, those united in the pursuit of virtue and the love of God.

I love this book and I don't say that lightly. It is truly wonderful. I am honored to write the foreword.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Common Steuby Names

Can you guess what the most common girl's name is at Franciscan University in Steubenville? How about the most common boy's name? Guess and then check the comments for the answer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

HLC: Haystack Full of Needles

Homeschool Library Connection is a Yahoo Group similar to Pope St. Nicholas V, except that the focus is on general homeschooling books.

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: Haystack Full of Needles: A Catholic Home Educator's Guide to Socialization
Author: Alice Gunther
Publisher: Hillside Education
Date Published: July 2008
ISBN: 0979846951
ISBN-13: 978-0979846953
Price: $12.95
Amazon link

Blog Reviews:
Mary Gildersleeve
Nancy Brown
Jenn Miller
Suzanne Temple

Product Description

Most of us at one time or another have had to wrestle with the issue of socialization, either when dealing with friends and family members who question our decision to home educate, or when in our own hearts we worry about our children's hopes for friendship. In this book Alice shows that "Socialization is not the weakness of home education it is its strength and joy." Alice chronicles her own path from skepticism about home educating's ability to provide sufficient social experiences for her children, to the flowering of a local home school group that provides its members with meaningful social experiences within the context of home educating. Full of examples and practical suggestions, this will be an extremely uplifting addition to your cache of home education resources.
Editorial reviews:

Haystack Full of Needles calls itself A Catholic Home Educator s guide to Socialization but in reality it is much more than that. This book is exactly what we need in our modern world where so many have lost all sense of the value of community. Gunther speaks from a mother s heart, recognizing the human need for community and for social support, especially among Catholic homeschooling families where feelings of isolation and not fitting in can be demoralizing and discouraging.
--Danielle Bean, Senior Editor of
Faith and Family Magazine

What makes Haystack Full of Needles so compelling is that it is much more than an explosion of the myth that homeschoolers lack proper socialization it is a vivid, lively, and detailed account of how homeschooling families can build community and friendship. The perfect blend of personal narrative and practical advice, Haystack Full of Needles is an inspiring heartwarming chronicle of the growth of a lively homeschooling community. At first, readers will wish they could live in Alice s neck of the woods and be a part of all the marvelous events she describes, but by the book s end, they ll be overflowing with excitement to put Alice s ideas into practice in their own homes, parishes, and homeschooling communities.
Melissa Wiley, author of The Martha Years series and The Charlotte Years series

Tears of Joy and Sorrow

Our weekend at Franciscan University Steubenville was one filled with joy and sorrow.

The accidental death of Kelly Roggensack on the previous Tuesday was felt throughout the campus. We of course prayed for her during the masses and she was remembered at many of the presentations we attended. Franciscan is special in that it is a small university and it is immersed in spirituality. The death of a student there is felt deeply by the entire community. Tears were shed in sadness for her loss and yet, as Christians, a certain joy that she will be joining our Heavenly Father.

And amongst the tears for Kelly were tears of mothers and fathers leaving their children behind. Tears of joy as we were all leaving our children in good hands. We left them in a place where they will be fed spiritually, academically, and physically. But there were also tears of sadness as we will miss our children. They have taken that first real step into the world of grownups. We won't be there to help iron out their problems, remind them to eat their vegetables, or make sure they keep their rooms tidy.

Almost nineteen years of mothering was left on the doorstep of Francis Hall. Hopefully, I gave him a strong enough foundation upon which he can build a life that is fulfilling to him and pleasing to God.

For the record, I did turn out to be the Rock of Gibraltar after all. I didn't break down into a river of tears as predicted by all my friends and family. Though I should admit it is only because I did not speak when it came time to say goodbye. When Christian told me goodbye, I only nodded. As he walked away and looked back to say goodbye again, I only waved. If I had opened my mouth, I wouldn't have been able to stop the tears to make the 5-hour drive home.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Franciscan Spirituality

The Seven Basic Franciscan Values

1. Conversion to and love of Jesus Christ, His Gospel and His Church.

2. A Christocentric theology accenting the primacy of love.

3. An Incarnational emphasis as seen in the crib, cross and the Eucharist, and our Lady’s participation in this mystery.

4. Lived experience of the Triune God in prayer and contemplation.

5. Hope, optimism and the goodness of God and His creatures.

6. Fraternity and peace through Reconciliation with Christ and one another.

7. Solidarity, as lesser brothers and sisters, with, among and in service to the Poor.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Nuns, Dolls, and Little Girls

If you are a sweet little girl all of 8-years old and you play with and love on your St. Therese doll everywhere you go, you are sure to attract the attention of every nun within a mile.

Yesterday, Princess Rose was feeling a little under the weather and so, in an effort to raise her spirits, I bought her a one of those soft dolls, Faith Filled Friends. I had promised a souvenir anyway and she was so very excited to receive the gift. She held onto that doll all day with dear life. Between St. Therese and Tylenol, Princess got through the busy day of getting her brother settled into college without serious incident.

The neat part is that the doll made Princess a nun magnate. They'd see her clutching onto that doll and couldn't resist asking for a peek. Each was thrilled to find out that they only at to go to the university bookstore to find one of their own. I think we met and visited with every nun on campus, and that's a good number. In fact, Princess is now the pen pal of a Franciscan sister.

The admiration was mutual. We happened to sit in front of a group of nuns in Mass yesterday. Princess could not keep her eyes off of them. I finally gave up on reminding her to turn around and listen to the bishop. She was mesmerized. She has declared, without a doubt, "I'm going to be a nun when I grow up!"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Inspiration in Preparing for College

In visiting Vive Christus Rex, I found this letter from Msgr. James McDonald, the Rector of The Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, NY. It was published in the church bulletin a few years back to young people going off to college. For those of us sending kids off to college this weekend, it is perfectly timed. Email to your kids if you already dropped them off.

Dear Friends:

There will be a lot of high school graduations this weekend and many of our Catholic High Schools have already conducted theirs. Now there is that last summer at home and the preparation for the big move in late August or early September. I thought in this letter I would like to talk realistically to our new graduates and soon-to-be freshmen. You have serious responsibilities to yourself and your parents and certainly to Christ.

Those of you who are going away will be entering a far different world. You will have to make adjustments and compromises with roommates; in short you will have to learn to live with people other than members of your own family. Some of these people may be great but others can be annoying and definitely unpleasant. I'm hoping that you get a roommate who is a decent, considerate human being. And by the way, be that kind of roommate yourself. You represent your family and all the values you have been taught in your home.

That very different world of college has very definite moral problems. Often enough, the atmosphere is poisoned by immorality. Practically every school considers itself a big drinking school and there is enormous pressure to fit in with an established pattern of drinking that is a considered a part of college life. Don't! Any dope can be a drunk in college - it takes no ability and is an indication of a lack of moral backbone.

Drunkenness kills and if it doesn't do that immediately, it destroys lives through the tragedy of alcoholism. You are a follower of Jesus Christ and not a follower of the world. Be different! You will find others who share your same point of view.

The sixth commandment, which forbids all sexual activity outside of marriage, is not suspended by God during the four years of college. No matter how lonely you may feel or romantically inclined you may be, you are expected to be a living image of Christ at all times. Your parents brought you up with distinct and definite moral values. Please don't disappoint them! Happy marriages do not begin with college immorality.

You have a definite responsibility to go to Mass each and every Sunday or Saturday evening. I'm counting on you to go even if an awful lot of others don't. I urge you to participate in the campus ministry program and make yourself known to the chaplain. Help prepare for Mass if you are fortunate enough to have Mass on campus. Try to participate in the ministry programs. You should meet some wonderful people there.

Finally, you are in college to study. Do it! And, oh yes, use that cell phone to call mom and dad very, very frequently. They will be missing you more than you'll ever know.

In Jesus and Mary, Monsignor James M. McDonald

Prayers Please

Please pray for our friend Don. He is a dad from our 4-H group. He was in a bad motorcycle accident and broke his neck. He is scheduled for surgery today. I know he and his family would much appreciate your prayers.

We Made It to Steuby

As we walked into J C Williams Hall, Princess Rose lit up like a Christmas tree and exclaimed, "Mama, Mama, they have nuns here!" Later in the cafeteria, we would sit and chat with a sweet Franciscan sister who asked Princess Rose to commit to pray for her. Sister also promised to pray for us. Princess Rose, all decked out btw in her Princess in Disguise T-shirt, was in Heaven.

I think the nuns who have given up their habits have done a great disservice to little girls everywhere. Princess would've missed out on a good bit of joy had yesterday's sisters been in everyday pantsuits. She also would've missed out on a good prayer opportunity.

Princess late into the evening told me, "I want to go to school at Steuby. The people here are so nice!"

On a previous visit, Buster shared that he would also like to call FUS home someday. Though his reasons are different from Princess, being he's a 12-year=old boy as opposed to an 8-year-old girl. Oh yes, his reason is so much more mature. From the horse's mouth, "I'm going to school here! The cafeteria is awesome!" Yes, Steuby got to his heart through his stomach.

Move-in day went well. Things were so well organized. We pulled up to the front of the hall and a horde of students appeared, ready to take all our boxes up to the room. We didn't have to carry a single thing. Well, except for the two boxes that got sent to the wrong room. But that wasn't so bad as it still saved us a flight of stairs.

Christian got everything unpacked and organized pretty quickly, but then there wasn't much to unpack. It's dorm life -- 100 square feet of living space. You don't want to bring too much. In fact, Christian and his roommate Dustin are planning on turning the beds into a bunk bed to free up space. Maybe they'll be able to even hang their legs off the sides of the bed then.

I had the chance to chat briefly, very briefly, with Father Scanlan. He is such a sweet man. I could see right away how his leadership, along with God's intervention, brought this school back to life all those years ago.

Well, I must get my day going here. There are lots of planned activities plus we have a scheduling snafu and few other little problems to iron out.

Oh, in case you're wondering, I haven't broke down in tears yet. Though my eyes did well up a wee bit when we first pulled up to the school and the enthusiastic students greeting us exclaimed, "Welcome to Franciscan University!" Yes, I'm like the Rock of Gibraltar.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New England Conference June 2009

If you live on the east side of the country, I have some great news for you. The Western Massachusetts Catholic Homeschoolers are putting together their first ever Catholic homeschooling conference. This is exciting news! Visit New England Catholic Homeschool Conference 2009 to get all the scoop as 2009 gets closer. In the meantime, save the date -- June 6, 2009.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Almost On Our Way

Christian and I leave for Steuby in the morning. The car is all packed and everything. My car is acting up, so I used my negotiating skills to get a deal on a rental (half price and unlimited miles!). We'll be going in style. It even has a CD player so we got a BOT from the library to listen to on the long drive.

I had it all set in my mind that there would be no tears. Then my sister sent this email to me today:
Have fun tomorrow Maureen. Just soak in everything. The way he looks, the room,
the weather. Really imprint the memory. Trust me you'll need it. I love you!!
You've done good. Now you can only pray. I am thinking of you. Blessings Chrissy

Gosh, just cutting and pasting it is making my eyes well up. Guess I better grab a box of Kleenex on my way out the door after all.

Please pray for our safe travel.

Prayers for FUS Students -- Car Crash

As Christian and I prepare for our trip to Steubenville tomorrow, we are saddened to hear that seven students on their way home from a cross country meet were involved in a rollover car crash. Four students were taken to the local hospital, two were airlifted and the seventh student passed away.

Please pray for these students, their families and their classmates.
Dear Lord, as we mourn the death of our sister Kelly in the car accident, comfort us with your great power of love. Strengthen us in faith so that we are with you forever. Eternal rest grant her O Lord and let your perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.

Look kindly on the others, God of Mercy, who are suffering as a result of this accident. Please ease their burdens and make their faith strong. May they always have confidence and trust in your fatherly care.

Father of Mercy, you always answer your people in their suffering. We thank you for your kindness and ask you to free us from all evil that we may serve you in happiness.

We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Great Weekend

I've been wanting to write about our weekend since Sunday night, but life is so busy. In just two days, Christian and I leave for Steuby. But more about that tonight or tomorrow.

The 4-H state shoot was a blast! Everything went fairly smoothly for a competition of that size. The weather was gorgeous, the volunteers were out in force, and the kids were oozing the sportsman spirit.

Christian went back to his roots and shot archery in both individual and team, even though he's the 2007 national champion for muzzleloading. This was his last ever 4-H competition since he is soon to be a college student. Christian said his goal for the state shoot was to have fun not to win.

Teen Daughter One had fun, but she also won. In fact, she is now the Michigan state champion for muzzleloading. She took gold in both individual and team. I love it when the girls win!

Teen Daughter Two was right behind TD1 with a silver medal for team muzzleloading. She also got a bronze medal for individual 3-D archery.

Buster and Sparky teamed up with a couple of other friends to compete in BB. This meant that Sparky was actually competing out of his range -- Junior instead of Beginner. But, hey, that didn't get him down. They walked away with the bronze medal for team BB!

I left the picture taking to another 4-H mom. I promise to share with you, once she gets them to me.

Oh, and that wasn't the end of our weekend even! Our friend Marshall came by for a visit with his daughter Annie, son-in-law, and grandchildren Sunday evening. This is kind of a bigger deal than it sounds as Marshall came from California and Annie's family came from Pittsburgh. We had a wonderfully lovely visit. Barbecuing, swimming, fishing, and just plain old visiting. Turned out Annie is homeschooling her young brood and so we had loads to talk about.

Monday, August 18, 2008

HLC: Do Hard Things

Homeschool Library Connection is a Yahoo Group similar to Pope St. Nicholas V, except that the focus is on general homeschooling books.

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: Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
Author: Alex and Brett Harris
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Date Published: April 2008
ISBN-10: 1601421125
ISBN-13: 978-1601421128
Price: 16.99
Amazon reviews (make sure to click on the YouTube-like video)
LibraryThing review

I Have Friends!

Twenty-five friends to be exact. Someone suggested I sign up on Facebook and next thing I knew, I had all kinds of friends. How fun.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Gearing Up for States

I'm swamped doing some work for Rob (investigating PEOs) and getting the kids ready for the state shoot this weekend. Packing, shopping, checking ammo, cleaning firearms -- ah, the life of an NRA mom.

Please offer up a little prayer for us, as two of the kids woke up with low grade fevers this morning. (Apologies to Peter and Susan whose kids played with mine for hours on end yesterday.) I'd hate for anyone to miss competition on account of sickness.

Here's a tidbit to think about while I'm away. Did you know that shooting sports is the safest type of sport? Yep, safer than football, soccer, tennis and so on.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

BlendTec vs. Vita-Mix?

Now this is one powerful blender:

Apparently, every kid on the universe has seen these "Will it Blend" videos and I'm behind the times. I have to admit the one on glow sticks is cool:

I wouldn't share these with boys who tend to do things like, say, imitate Three Stooges pranks.

More on Bats

Should your teen daughter come running up the stairs exclaiming there is a bat in the basement, you should first send down your 12-year-old son to close all the doors so it doesn't come upstairs. Make him do it as he is young and doesn't know better. Next, call your husband on his cell phone and screech into the phone that he needs to speed it up and get home to rid your house of the flying rat. He won't know exactly what you're saying due to the excitement in your voice, but he'll speed it up as he is afraid you've lost your mind. While waiting, have another kid google, "how do you catch a bat indoors." Print it out so you're ready to hand it to your husband when he walks in the door. Also have a cardboard box and any other needed supplies ready for him. Tell him, "I'd love to help you honey, but the website said that it's a one-person job and I don't want to get in your way. I'm only thinking of you." Then go hide in your bedroom until the children come and tell you it's all clear.

And make sure the kids keep the sliding doors closed from now on!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Recipe: Rob's Favorite Smoothie

Before we moved, Rob was an extreme commuter. Three hours of driving each day. It was a killer. For all of us.

My girlfriends would comment on my pending sainthood because I would get up at 5:30 every morning to make Rob a smoothie for the road and to kiss him goodbye. But, really, it was all selfishness on my part. If I wanted to see my husband, it wasn't going to happen if I snoozed through the alarm clock. I want a healthy marriage and seeing him off each morning helped in what was a very strained situation. I also want a healthy husband which explains the smoothie. Extreme commuters have to grab food where and when they can and it was worth the extra few minutes to whirl the Vita-Mix as well as pack a healthy lunch for him.

Now that we live closer to the office, Rob and I get to sleep in an extra hour. But I still make the smoothie. Though variety is the spice of life and I do alter the recipe a little here and there, here is the basic recipe for Rob's favorite smoothie:

Banana Strawberry Blueberry Smoothie
1 fresh banana
3 or 4 frozen strawberries
teacup of frozen blueberries (3/4 c. if you want to get exact)
vanilla soy milk

Peel and breakup your banana and put in the blender. Follow with the
strawberries and the blueberries. Then pour enough vanilla soy milk to cover the top. Blend on high. If you like it thin, keep adding the soy milk through the lid until you reach the consistancy you like.
And that's it. Makes a lot -- enough for you and for your husband.

I recommend a really good blender. Over the years, I've burned out my share of blenders. I finally invested in a Vita-Mix. That thing can hold up to even the most frozen of strawberries. And it comes with a nifty tool to push down the frozen stuff to make sure it gets all blended. You could also use a spatula -- just make sure to do it through the lid so you don't get splattered.

Sometimes I throw in a scoop of powdered Benefiber. You can also put in powdered dietary supplements. I once tried putting Rob's vitamin pills in there, but it didn't work. It was a chunky instead of a smoothie. I'll also soup it up now and then with pomegranate or tart cherry juice concentrate.

You can also try different fruits. Peaches are good. Sometimes I throw in raspberries or blackberries but Rob isn't too fond of all the seeds. If you use fresh fruit instead of frozen, then you need to add ice, otherwise it'll be too thin. My friend Linda says watermelon is good and if you leave in the seeds you get extra fiber. That Linda cracks me up.

Give a smoothie a try and enjoy!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Desecration of Catholic Host Response

I wrote to the University of Minnesota president when the P. Z. Myers situation first appeared. I received a response today:

Dear Ms. Wittmann:

Thank you for sharing your concerns. It is important to understand that the views expressed by biology Professor Paul Myers were expressed on his personal blog and do not reflect those of the University of Minnesota, Morris, or the University of Minnesota system. Initially, there was a link to that personal blog from a University Web site. This link was inconsistent with University Web policy, and per that policy, the link was deactivated.

We pride ourselves on providing a nurturing environment for students of diverse beliefs, backgrounds, and perspectives. We are firmly committed to ensuring a respectful environment for discourse. I hope you will continue to consider the University of Minnesota.


Robert H. Bruininks

How We Spend Our Days

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ancient Faces

I came across this YouTube video a few days ago while making my daily visit to Mike Aquilina's blog. It has been with me since and decided to share with you. Like Mike says below, it is haunting. And beautiful

David Meadows leads us to a haunting YouTube slide show of ancient portraits, most of them from Egypt’s Roman period and discovered in the Fayoum. Many are painted on burial cloths. My favorite image from this style and period now hangs in the Louvre. It portrays the deceased, a beautiful young Christian woman, holding the traditional Coptic cross, the ankh. (I discuss this image in my new book, Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols.)

These are lovely images. You’ll see their influence later in Byzantine icons. Enjoy the show!

And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Offering It Up

Hi Maureen, it's Marshall.

Marshall! It's been forever!

I heard you birthed a baby back in April of 2002.

Yeah, that's right.

May told me you offered up your labor pain for me.

Oh gosh, that's right. I totally forgot about that.

I don't know if you heard, but I have terminal pancreatic cancer.

Yes, Rob told me.

Well, I just had to call to tell you that I returned the favor. I was really suffering the other day with terrible pain. The worst. I was offering it up for everyone and everything I could think of. And you were first on the list.
What a blessing to be part of the Body of Christ.

Please pray for Marshall and for his family.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Our friend Chuck, on his European singing tour:

What happened was I offered to sing a song in the lingua franca for the friends and family attending the baptism reception for the little Biewer Baby, Elias.

So Widmung (which means Dedication) was my attempt to share my feelings about this new family relationship and friendship, from the USA Biewer’s, to those sharing together in the celebration of the baptism.

This is a piece I learned in my college days, and hold dear to.

The rough translation is “You are my spirit, you are my heart, you are my joy, and my anguish. You are the world in which I live…”

Robert Schumann wrote the piece as a love song for his fiancé (at the time), Clara.

…and so forth.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

PopeStNick5: Apostolic Fathers

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: Apostolic Fathers: Handing on the Faith
Starring: Stephen Ray
Director: Stephen Ray
Studio: Ignatius Press
Date Released: October 2007
Run Time: 90 minutes
Price: 29.95
Comments: Latest in the excellent historical series: In the Footprints of God. New titles scheduled for the future. Look into past titles, as all are very good and should be on the library shelf. Combines religion, history, and geography.

Series website

Ten titles in final series -- episode guide

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tips for Freshman

On packing and organizing.

What to pack -- the dorm list.

Tips for the year from fellow students.

Support group for Mom
College for Catholic Homeschoolers

Off to College We Go

In just 15 days Christian and I will leave for college. He'll stay and I'll come home after three days. I asked my girlfriends for advice and they all tell me the same thing, "Be prepared to cry all the way home." That goes without saying. But what else is there I should know? Well, besides the fact that I have to buy extra-long twin sheets because regular sheets don't fit dorm beds and the extra-long sheets have to be special ordered. All advice from moms who've "been there, done that" welcomed. Especially if your kid went to Steuby.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Teens and Blogs

I recently asked all of you to link to No Question Left Behind, but what I should've asked for is, "Have your kids link to No Question Left Behind." We've got to get the word out to the teenagers, more so than the grownups. If your older teen has a blog or a website, consider having them review No Question Left Behind. Do they think it's relevant? Helpful? Worthy of passing on?

Discounts and Freebies

I've been posting a few freebies and discount deals over at the Thrifty Homeschooler. Go check it out. And, please let me know of any other great deals I should pass along.

Monday, August 04, 2008

HP's Grave

All good rabbits go to heaven.

Harry Potter, RIP

I've been wanting to post more about the foxes living on our property. We've had several cool close encounters and plans to include them in our upcoming nature studies. However, that all changed last night.

One of the adult foxes got a hold of our pet rabbit, Harry Potter last night. HP was a smart rabbit and was able to get away and hide under the propane tank where the fox couldn't get to him. But the damage was done. Sadly, by the time Rob got to HP a few minutes later it was too late. He died a noble death.

We've lost pets before. Why, we've had more pet funerals in our backyard than I can count, but this was different. The children were inconsolable. Even after the burial, they could not calm down. Super Boy kept saying through his tears, "I hate the foxes." At one point, Teen Daughter 2 went downstairs and came back with her .22 and the DNR handbook exclaiming, "We can legally kill it if it's a nuisance or a threat, even if it's out of season!"

Rob and I calmly told her that we didn't think killing the foxes was the right thing to do. Another child excitedly said, "What? You want to wait until it kills Frisky (the cat) or attacks Super Boy (6-years old)?"

They're calmer this morning, but still mourning the loss of HP. And researching fox hunts.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Catholic Teen Blog

Some years ago, I was asked to put together a teen Q&A book. It turned out great, but through a series of events was never published. After a lot of prayer, I came to the conclusion that the book belonged not in print, but on the internet.

No Question Left Behind is a place where teens can go and feel comfortable talking about heavy and not-so-heavy topics. It's a peer-to-peer platform where teens can trust that their fears, struggles, and questions will be heard and answered by those who deal with the same issues.

I put together a team of teenagers and young 20-somethings to answer the questions of teens. The team worked to answer all inquiries in the framework of Catholic teaching. I already have 200 Q&A's ready to roll so you can count on this blog being around for the long term. New posts will appear every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please pass the word along. Feel free to link from your blogs, Yahoo Groups, or websites if you have them. If you can, please ask your parish or the diocese to link from their websites or mention in their Sunday bulletin. More than anything, please keep the project in your prayers. Especially pray for the teens who will visit the blog looking for answers.

Note that this isn't a homeschool site. No Question Left Behind was created with all high school kids in mind.

Family Travel Gear

After you've checked out The Faithful Traveler, go check out the Happy Traveler. The Faithful Traveler will provide you with cool DVD's about shrines to visit and the Happy Traveler will help get you there in person. Owned by a nice homeschool family.
One of the many pluses of homeschooling is the ability to travel on the off season!

PopeStNick5: The Faithful Traveler

It's good to get Catholic titles into many different areas of the library. I'd like to feature some video/DVD titles in the upcoming weeks. Please take a few minutes to request these titles from your library. You never know what soul your small action may change for the better

Title: The Faithful Traveler: Philadelphia's Miraculous Medal Shrine
Directed by: David von Glahn
Produced by: The Faithful Traveler
ASIN: 0615219225
DVD Release Date: July 2008
Price: $19.95
Comment: First of a series of travel videos based on shrines and historic churches.
Amazon Reviews
Studio Website

My personal review:
I have seven children who range in age from 6 to 18. Last night, everyone was looking forward to watching a movie together. As they all sat down with their popcorn, I announced I wanted to watch The Faithful Traveler first. I admit it -- there were some audible moans. But Mom rules here and if they wanted the movie, they were going to get some religion first!

Well, it turned out they loved The Faithful Traveler! In fact, the planned movie got put off another 1/2 hour because the kids insisted on watching all the DVD extras. Mom and Dad moaned this time, but it turned out we enjoyed them too.

This is not your typical stuffy religious documentary. The camera work is very good and Diana von Glahn does a great job hosting. She is professional yet hip. Also, my
older children complimented the music. They especially liked the theme song by Sarah Bauer, All Access, which they already knew.

All in all, it was a fun DVD. Yes, it's true, you can have fun visiting shrines and old churches. Done well, you come out thinking, "Wow, God is so cool. That was really neat."

The Faithful Traveler took us to the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal, taught us some new things about the saints and about Philadelphia, and we had an enjoyable family hour. I'm looking forward to future realeases!

To read past library recommendations, or to join the email list, visit: Pope Saint Nicholas V.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

More Blogger Glitches

Well, yesterday I could view my blog but couldn't post to it. Today I can post but I can't see it.

It seems to be a universal issue with Site Meter. No, it's not a conspiracy by Obama zealots or anti-Catholic hackers, just a cyber glitch. Apparently, Site Meter made some changes last night and every website that has their meter has been affected negatively. Seriously negatively. You can't even get on

If you're reading this, either the glitch has been fixed or I got frustrated and removed the Site Meter all together.

Now, I'm off to investigate Stat Counter.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Haters Unite Against McDonald's

While I'm clearing my name of the evil spammer label, I should clarify my stand on hate.

Rob and I are not huge boycotters, but we recently made the decision to boycott McDonald's. According to the McDonald's spokesperson, we are motivated by hate. Yes, everyone who has ever met Rob or me will tell you, we are hate-filled bigots. Gee whiz, give me a break. I vow to never eat in a McDonald's ever again. Ever.

McDonalds Strikes Back at Family Boycott with Charges of “Hate”
By Peter J. Smith
OAK BROOK, Illinois, July 11, 2008 ( - Fast food
giant McDonald’s is returning fire against a pro-family boycott, saying family
advocates opposed to their affiliation with pro-homosexual organizations are
guilty of “hate.”
The American Family Association has led the boycott of McDonald’s restaurants since July 3, after the global hamburger empire refused requests to remain neutral in the culture wars and to withdraw their public support from the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), a homosexual lobby that pushes same-sex “marriage.”
Instead, McDonald’s spokesman Bill Whitman told the Washington Post that the boycott was motivated by “hate” and McDonald’s would continue to remain in the NGLCC.
“Hatred has no place in our culture,” McDonald’s USA spokesman Bill Whitman said. “That includes McDonald’s, and we stand by and support our people to live and work in a society free of discrimination and harassment.”
However, the AFA, which has over 2.2 million members, has pointed out that its boycott has nothing to do with McDonald’s homosexual employees, but everything to do with McDonald’s cash from its 31,000 restaurants worldwide flowing from families into anti-family endeavors. (
To sign a petition, read the whole article, or take other action, click

If you too are guilty of hate and therefore boycotting McDonald's, but are having trouble giving up those Big Macs, just rent Super Size Me and then go to the library and borrow Chew On This. I guarantee it'll help you kick the habit.

You'll be a hater, but you'll be a healthier hater. (Umm, wonder if Blogger will shut me down for this?)

Maureen, The Evil Spammer

Just in case any of you are wondering, I am not an evil spammer.
I was locked out of my blog last night by Blogger because, well, here is what they said:


Your blog at: has been identified as a potential spam blog. To correct this, please request a review by filling out the form at

Your blog will be deleted within 20 days if it isn't reviewed, and you'll be unable to publish posts during this time. After we receive your request, we'll review your blog and unlock it within two business days. If this blog doesn't belong to you, you don't have to do anything, and any other blogs you may have won't be affected.

We find spam by using an automated classifier. Automatic spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and occasionally a blog like yours is flagged incorrectly. We
sincerely apologize for this error. By using this kind of system, however, we can dedicate more storage, bandwidth, and engineering resources to bloggers like you instead of to spammers. For more information, please see Blogger Help:

Thank you for your understanding and for your help with our spam-fighting efforts.

The Blogger Team

I went to their Help section to see if I could figure out why my innocent little homeschool mom blog would be targeted as a spam blog:

What Are Spam Blogs?
As with many powerful tools, blogging services can be both used and abused. The ease of creating and updating webpages with Blogger has made it particularly prone to a form of behavior known as link spamming. Blogs engaged in this behavior are called spam blogs, and can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site.

Spam blogs cause various problems, beyond simply wasting a few seconds of your time when you happen to come across one. They can clog up search engines, making it difficult to find real content on the subjects that interest you. They may scrape content from other sites on the web, using other people's writing to make it look as though they have useful information of their own. And if an automated system is creating spam posts at an extremely high rate, it can impact the speed and quality of the service for other, legitimate users.

What We're Doing About Spam
Needless to say, we do not approve of spamming here at Blogger. Below are some of the things we've implemented to remove and reduce spam on our service. We will update this list as we continue our efforts.

Automated spam classifying algorithms keep spam blogs out of NextBlog and out of our "Recently Published" list on the dashboard. The same classifiers are used to require an extra word verification field on the posting form for potential spam blogs. This makes it harder for spammers to set up automated systems to do their posting, since a human needs to complete this step. The Flag as Objectionable button in the Navbar lets you notify us of problem blogs that you find, so we can review them and take appropriate action.

Click here to report spam.

". . can be recognized by their irrelevant, repetitive, or nonsensical text, along with a large number of links, usually all pointing to a single site." Uh? I don't recall posting irrelevant, reptititive, or nonsensical text. And I certainly don't have a large number of links all pointing toward one site.

Ummm, could it be a conspiracy? Personally, I don't think it's a conspiracy by Google but instead more likely it's one kook (perhaps with a few friends) reporting Catholic blogs as spam to Blogger. I'm just glad I'm back up and running!