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.