Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Red Envelope Project

Did you mail your red envelope today?

If not, then get up off your duffer and do it. It's never too late. Send a message to your president. Now.

Steubenville Youth Conferences

Every summer my high school students get on a bus with 40 or so teenagers and head to Franciscan University in Steubenville for their youth conference. When my children return home and step off that bus they are forever changed. They are not the same teenagers who left a few days before. The Holy Spirit is hard at work at these conferences and my children are more faith filled, more joyful, and more in love with God's church because of it.

I am so grateful to the people at FUS who pull these conferences together. It's got to take an incredible amount of work, money, and faith to make it all work. Praise God for these workers in the field, whoever they may be. They are in my prayers.

If you have a high school student, I highly recommend the Steubenville Youth Conferences. You don't even have to drive to Ohio if that is a long distance for you, as FUS has set up youth conferences all over the country from the left coast to the right coast. See if your parish or another local parish has a bus going. Here in mid-Michigan there are youth groups in many parishes who organize buses for the conferences. If you can't find one, well, then organize your own. Or just take your own kids and their friends in the family van.

Just don't miss this opportunity.

Monday, March 30, 2009

PSN5: Adoption by Dr. Ray

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: Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It
Author: Dr. Ray Guarendi
Publisher: Servant Books
Date Published: January 2009
ISBN-10: 0867169133
ISBN-13: 978-0867169133
Price: $14.99 (Amazon price: $10.19)
Canton Rep
USA Today (video)

Product Description:
In Adoption: Choosing It, Living It, Loving It Ray Guarendi, psychologist, husband and father of ten adopted children, considers the most commonly asked adoption questions with insight, humor and a heart for the adoptive family. His aim? To dispel unsettling misperceptions about adoption, to encourage others to think about and act on adoption, and to guide adoptive parents to a more relaxed, rewarding family life for all involved.

A must-have resource for those considering adoption, those who have already adopted and those in the mix as family members or friends of adoptive parents.

Chapter titles include:

  • Partly Personal
  • Adoption Advice Worth Ignoring
  • Adoption Special Effects
  • Assorted Adoption Anxieties
  • Adoption Resistance
  • Communication 101
  • Adoption Self-Image: Myths and Truths
  • Adoption Discipline Basics
  • Adoption Options

This is a 182 page book.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Notre Dame and Alumni Donations

There has been a lot said over the past week about President Obama's acceptance of Notre Dame's invitation to speak at graduation and accept an honorary doctorate. Therefore, I won't bore you with my own rantings. I will however offer some suggestions on how to spend your money in light of the controversy.

A good number of alumni and others have publicly stated that they will withhold future donations to Notre Dame University in protest. May I suggest that you give that money to another Catholic university or college?

Of course, my favorite is Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. Having seen firsthand the Catholic culture that permeates the FUS campus, I'd love to see Franciscan flooded with donations earmarked for tuition reduction and scholarships so that other families can send their children there. I am happy to say that my son is getting a rock solid education, has access to sports, and most importantly has his soul well cared for at Franciscan. You can donate online or mail donations to: 1235 University Blvd., Steubenville, OH 43952

Even if you don't give to Notre Dame, go ahead and send Steubie a check. Send a message to Notre Dame by flooding faithful universities with your donations. It'll speak volumes. Trust me.

Here are a few other Catholic universities worth your dollar:

And feel free to suggest other Catholic institutions of higher learning in the comments that I've missed.

Also, even more important, pray. Pray for the conversion of Barack Obama. Pray that our president will come to recognize the sanctity of Life from conception to natural death. And pray for Fr. Jenkins and Notre Dame University.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Win Money for Cuteness!

Win $100 Gift Card for the Cutest First Communion Photo
The Catholic Company, the market leader for online Catholic books and gifts, has just announced a First Communion Photo Contest. What a great excuse to pull those photos out of the photo book and show them off again. Bloggers, podcasters, and webmasters can also win a $50 Gift Card for referring the winning entry to the contest, so be sure to spread the word!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Trailer: Where the Wild Things Are

Another favorite children's book turned into a movie, not coming out until October . . .

Now I'm off to read a chapter or two of Redwall to the littles.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How a Little Boy Came to Love Books

Super Boy has always loved our read aloud time. Not so much for the books but for the cuddle time. At 6-years old he still loves nothing better than to snuggle and love with his mother. Dad won't do, big sisters won't do, only Mama. Words have never been his primary goal in asking for a read aloud. They were only a distraction, a way to get every second of lovin' possible out of his mother. In fact, he's never even been one to choose the book for reading time -- he's always left that to siblings or to me.

Then came Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Those rats, I think, changed his life forever.

The second he'd wake up in the morning he'd start begging for it. In the morning! When he gets a free hour of cuddling anyway. As soon as lunch was over, "MOM! Read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh!" As soon as dinner was over, "MOM! Read!" At bedtime, again free lovin' time anyway, "Mom! Rats! Now! Please!"

And the cool thing? As soon as we finished, he couldn't wait to pick out a new book. Yeah, he actually cared about the content, about the words. After much discussion and consideration, Redwall was decided upon.

There are a lot of words in Redwall, but he's lovin' it, even if the rats aren't the good guys this time around. Perhaps I should change this blog post title to, "How Rats Changed a Boy's Life."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Love2Learn Offerings

As I've mentioned here before, Love2Learn is one of Homeschool Connections' sponsors so that we may be able to bring free webinars to Catholic homeschoolers. I'm not sure that everyone knows all that Love2Learn does for us homeschoolers. Not only do they bring us THE Catholic homeschooling website, but also . . .

  • Architecture for Kids - Companion site to an architecture unit study published in Heart and Mind, Spring 2007.
  • Homeschool Stories - A collection of homeschool stories and ideas contributed by homeschooling families.
  • Love2learn at the Movies - An informal forum for Catholic parents to share reviews, lists, queries, etc. about worthwhile movies for children. Please pay careful attention to age/maturity recommendations!
  • Love2learn Moments - One minute spots on Catholic radio about homeschooling, education and family life. As heard on Relevant Radio.
  • Reading Your Way Through History - presents an extensive timeline of worthwhile history reading.
  • Unity of Truth - Dedicated to discussing the issues of faith and science from the perspective of a complete confidence that truth is one and that any seeming contradiction can be resolved by a little patience and perseverance in study. The issues of creation, evolution, and "the Flood" as related to cosmology, biology, and geology are the obvious issues of our time. In addition, the fundamental awareness of beauty and order within the universe will be our topics, and we invite your own comments and insights.

Monday, March 23, 2009

PSN5: Mother Teresa's Secret Fire

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: Mother Teresa's Secret Fire: The Encounter That Changed Her Life and How It Can Transform Your Own
Author: Joseph Langford
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor
Date Published: October 2008
ISBN-10: 159276309X
ISBN-13: 978-1592763092
Price: Hardcover, $19.95 (Amazon price: $13.57)
Catholic Fire
Vox Nova

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Registration Opened for Middle School Students and Extended for High School

There are still a few seats available for the American Government class through Homeschool Connections. Ed Rivet, the instructor, has asked us to open up registrations for middle school students who may be interested. They'll cover the same coursework as the high school students, however their grade level will be taken into account for homework and tests.

So, registration has now been extended to Tuesday, March 24th, at NOON Eastern time. You may register your high school or middle school student during this time.

If you'll have more than one student taking the class in your home please let me know and I'll forward a coupon code to you for a 25% discount for each additional student.

Here is a brief outline of material to be covered:
Democracy, Government & Citizenship

A. Class I (March 27th)

1. Democracy and the "isms"
a. Feudalism, Monarchy (Magna Carta)
b. Totalitarianism/Authoritarianism/Dictatorship
c. Socialism, Communism, Fascism
d. Democracy - liberty v. license

2. Declaration of Independence (Supplemental Text: "Lives of the Signers")
3. Articles of Confederation - The Evolution of Federalism & a Democratic Republic
4. The Constitution
a. Representative (triune) government - Checks & Balances (C&B)
b. Limited Government - Federalist Papers (Madison & Co.)
c. Articles I through ?? (as time allows)

B. Class II (April 3)

1. The Constitution (continued)
a. Article ?? to end
b. Bill of Rights (Amendments 1 -10)
c. Amendments 11 - ?

C. Class III (April 17)

1. The Constitution (concluded)
a. Amendments ? to end

2. The Executive Branch & Powers
a. Quick Review of Article II
b. Roles, Responsibilities & Authorities of the President (C&B)
Commander in Chief, Foreign Relations, Domestic Budgets, Court Appointments
c. The Cabinet and Bureaucratic Structure
Political power & civil service
d. Rules and Regulations

D. Class IV (April 24) - Legislative Process

1. Review of Article I
2. Roles, Responsibilities, & Authorities of Congress - (C&B)
3. Committees & Chairs, Rules & Power - legislative power

E. Class V (May 1) - Courts & Law

F. Class VI (May 8) - State & Local Government

G. Class VII (May 15) - Elections, Parties, Politics

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Wittmann Boys

Homeschool High School Am. Gov. Class

Just a reminder that today is the last day to register for the American Government Course with Ed Rivet.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary

I am so excited. Excited for my friend Karen and excited for the Catholic community at large.

Karen, after a long labor, has birthed her first book. It'll be a while before I get to peek inside but knowing Karen and knowing my friend Mike (who wrote the Foreword) it's sure to be wonderful.

Oooh, this is so exciting!

Monday, March 16, 2009


Yes, I majored in applied mathematics in college. No, I can't count days on a calendar.

The American Government class is a seven week course, meeting every Friday starting March 27th and ending May 15th, with Good Friday off.

I previously wrote that the class ended May 8th. Oops.

There are still a few seats left if you have a high school student. Ed Rivet, the instructor, emailed the syllabus to me today and it's guaranteed to be a great class.

Register here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Little Boys With a Lot to Say

There are a few little people who live in my house who seem to have little motors running inside of them. Motors that not only keep their bodies in constant motion but their mouths as well.

In a moment of exasperation, I exclaimed to the six-year old, "Can't you stop talking for even one minute? Sixty seconds, that's all I ask for!"

He then spent five minutes telling me how he could stop talking if he wanted and then another ten on how he doesn't really talk all that much anyway.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spring Break

Christian is coming home today for spring break and I'm so excited. It's funny how much you miss them when they go away to college. Even if they are just one of seven.

This is an interesting season in a mother's life. I have a child with one foot at home and the other out the door. Every time he comes home from Steuby he's more grown up and yet he is still my little guy. Yes, he's over 6 feet tall but I still think of him as the one who snuggled in my lap, whose tears I dried, whose boyhood joys I've shared, whose dreams I've tried to make come true. When I see him tonight I will see a man child. An adult who is making his own decisions, fulfilling his own dreams, yet is still dependent upon his parents. Yes, it is an interesting season in my life but then again it is an interesting season his life too.

First Communion Stories Contest

In my in-box from Aquinas and More:
First, thank you for posting about First Communion Stories on your blog last week. We want lots of people to hear about this new site so that everyone will be able to share their stories and read others.

We're now running a contest at that site, and anyone who enters a story by March 20 is eligible. Voting will go until April 11, and the winner will be announced on Easter Sunday, April 12. The winner will receive a $60 gift card to Aquinas and More plus three sheets of laminated custom prayer cards with a prayer of the winner's choice, and two runners-up will each receive a $25 gift card. We are really hoping that many people submit their stories for consideration so that we get a wide variety of people and experiences - it's always fun to hear other people's stories and memories! It would be wonderful if you could mention the contest on either your blog or the love2learn blog. We know that there are many great First Communion stories out there, and we want to hear them. So if you could pass along the word about the contest, that would be fantastic!

Now go check it out.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Jersey Here I Come

I have good news and bad news. Let's do good news first.

I'll be speaking at the 2009 CHAPLET Homeschool Conference in Berlin, NJ Saturday, April 25th. I'm really excited as I love going to these conferences and meeting homeschoolers from all over the country. But I'm also excited because Danielle Bean will be there. Hopefully, I don't overdo the fan girl thing and embarrass myself.

Now, the bad news. I won't be seeing you all after all in Nebraska. The Nebraska Catholic homeschool conference has been canceled for 2009. It's really a shame because a couple of my kids will be competing at the national 4-H shooting sports invitational there that same week. And of course a shame because local homeschoolers are missing out this year. However, they're planning on a 2010 conference so that's good. Hopefully, I'll be there next year to meet those of you in the Omaha area.

Please pray for these homeschooling conferences as they really get hit hard with economic downturns.

What Rob Ordered Yesterday

Only in brown. We considered the chamo but it was an extra $200 and besides chamo doesn't exactly match the style of our house.

We're sure to warm next winter! And thinner too since we'll be spending our summer chopping wood.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Eterni-Tee: Catholic Faith on Cotton

A friend of ours is partnering in this new Catholic T-shirt business, Eterni-Tee, and it looks really cool. Perfect for all us Catholic homeschoolers.

Every month they have a T-shirt design contest. The winner gets a cut in the profits from T-shirt sales. This month's contest theme is Celebrate Life.

You can combine art, religion, and business into a T-shirt design unit study. (Hey, I've been homeschooling a long time -- I can turn anything into a unit study!)

Go check it out and get designing!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

UST Provides Perfect Resources for 11 Home-Schooled Aquila Children

Here's a great article on homeschooling from the University of St. Thomas in Houston Texas.

If you're not familiar with UST, they're one of 21 truly Catholic universities & colleges listed in the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. My friends tell me that it's a book worth consulting if you want more details about good Catholic schools and which one best fits your child.

American Government Class for Homeschoolers

Homeschool Connections is proud to announce their first ever online class for homeschooled high school students and it's sure to be great!

If you are not familiar with Homeschool Connections, we provide free webinars for homeschool parents as well as online classes at a reasonable price for homeschooled students.

Course Description:
Democracy, Government & Citizenship
American government has been called the most radical experiment in self-governing in human history based on its unique system of democracy and citizen involvement. Learn how the fundamental elements of American government are supposed to work, how they actually work, and the role and responsibility each citizen has in our government and our future."

Instructor's Biography:
Ed Rivet has a B.S. in Pre-Law and Public Policy and a Master's in Public Administration both from Michigan State University. He served three years as a legislative aide in the Michigan House of Representatives. For 21 years Ed has served as the Right to Life of Michigan's Legislative Director. He has written and helped enact dozens of laws, including the nation's first complete ban on human cloning, and banning assisted suicide in the face of the assault on human life by Jack Kevorkian and Geoffrey Fieger. Ed was the director of the state of Michigan's largest all-volunteer citizen petition drive which also was the state's most accurate petition drive ever, 97.3% valid signatures. Ed has done countless media interviews, appearing in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, plus live interviews on CNN and Good Morning America.

Seven-week course for $87.50. Seating is limited to 25 students.

Dates and Time:
Classes will begin Friday, March 27, 2009 and meet every Friday through May 8, 2009 (Correction: May 15) with Good Friday off. The time will begin 12:00 PM Eastern Time and end at 1:15 PM.

Enrollment Period:
Enrollment will close on March 20, 2009. This will provide students time to learn about the educational software Moodle and the instructor time to provide a syllabus and Welcome.

Misc. Details:
All coursework will be provided by the instructor or available online for free. Homework and research projects will be given and graded. Mr. Rivet will be available via email in between classes to answer questions and take comments.

Equipment requirements:
Students are required to have high-speed internet and a headset with microphone. If you do not own a headset, you can find them for a reasonable price at Amazon.

Monday, March 09, 2009

PSN5: Made for More

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: Made for More
Author: Curtis Martin
Publisher: Ascension Press
Date Published: September 2008
ISBN-10: 1934217492
ISBN-13: 978-1934217498
Price: 9.99
Tiber River

Product Description:
In every young Catholic's heart there is a search for meaning. Yet many of our youth never get beyond the material distractions of the world. In fact, in a recent survey, teenagers were eight times more desirous of being rich and five times more desirous of being famous than pursuing a life of faith. To be young and Catholic in the modern world is no easy task. Entertained and enticed beyond their ability to cope, millions of Catholic teens and college students are drifting through life living without purpose or meaning. They are searching for their own path, but they are ill-equipped at such an impressionable age to discern the direction that leads to everlasting happiness. In this book, renowned Catholic leader Curtis Martin presents the evidence that we have been made for more than just the intoxications of this world sex, partying, and money. We have been made for greatness and we will only reach such heights when we first come into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Made for More makes a compelling case that: We have been made for eternal happiness with God in heaven. The secret of happiness lies in following God s plan for our life. Jesus is the Son of God who preached the good news of salvation. Jesus founded a community of believers, the Church, and that being part of this family of God is how we find our direction and purpose and the surest path to eternal life.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

More Thank You's

Mary G., homeschool extrordinaire, has some really nice things to say about her Homeschool Connections experience. In fact, I'm blushing. Thank you so much Mary!

Friday, March 06, 2009

What Do Homeschool Dads Need Most

I need some opinions here. Actually, I think what I need are some questions. Or, how about both?

The next Homeschool Connections webinar is going to be hosted by Dr. Mary Kay Clark and Gene McGuirk and the topic is Homeschool Dads: Husband, Father, and Teacher. We'd like to have some advance questions prepared for them.

So, what would you like to hear about in a talk designed for dads? What kind of questions would you like to pose to Dr. Clark and Deacon McGuirk? Please leave your questions, comments, and ideas below and I'll see to it that they get passed on.
Dr. Mary Kay Clark and Gene McGuirk discuss with you the significance a dad can have in the success in everyone's homeschool efforts.

If you are a dad, they will provide you practical advice and encouragement on how to be the best homeschool dad you can be. If you are a mom, they will provide you insight on how to leverage the expertise of your husband. Please come and participate in this wonderful discussion with some of the most experienced homeschoolers around.
Now, go get your man and yourself signed up for that there free & live webinar.

Coming Home to the Catholic Church

Beautiful article about my friend and fellow homeschool mother Celeste. It details her return to the Catholic Church after a 25 year absence.

Now, I have come to understand that the church is not intrusive or oppressive, but rather Christ’s gift to us in order that we can experience the true freedom that comes from knowing Christ. I realize that the Lord established the sacraments for me and I can receive a touch of his grace through those sacraments whenever I make myself available to him.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Nice Words in the Blogosphere for HC

Thank you to Heart of a Mother!

Thank you to At Home Science!

Thank You!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Love2Learn.Net and mater et magistra for their sponsorship of last night's webinar. Walter and I are able to bring these online seminars to you FREE because of sponsorships so please make sure to visit their websites. I'd also like to ask you to pray for them as they provide such awesome services for us homeschoolers.

I had originally asked Margot of mater et magistra for a free subscription to give away at the webiner. She offered two. Then at the last minute she gave away three! How generous is that! If you haven't seen mater et magistra, you are in for a treat. It is well worth the subscription price -- it's both beautiful and full of great content.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Write Guide

ADDENDUM: Love2Learn Review of Write Guide.

For those who attended tonight's webinar, the writing program I was trying to think of was Write Guide. For those who didn't attend, Write Guide provides individual writing classes for homeschoolers. Christian took advantage of their one-on-one instruction back when he was a sophomore and junior. It was expensive but well worth every penny.

Yes, I know I'm a writer and should be able to teach my own kids writing but I'm just too close to the subject. I have an easier time teaching them science or history -- subjects I'm not trained it. Perhaps because it's so much more fun to learn alongside them.

Art, Music, Webinars, and Free Mags

Don't forget about the free webinar tonight: Bringing an Appreciation of Art and Music to Your Homeschool with Maureen Wittmann.

There are still 3 seats available if you'd like to attend and there will be 2 subscriptions of the excellent mater et magistra given away.

Monday, March 02, 2009

PSN5: Praying Scripture for a Change

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: Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina
Author: Dr. Tim Gray
Publisher: Ascension Press
Date Published: Jan. 2009
ISBN-10: 1934217484
ISBN-13: 978-1934217481
Price: 12.99

Product Description:
Many Christians find prayer difficult and, as a result, do not do much of it. The fact is, many simply do not know how to pray. Even St Paul notes this sad fact when, in Romans 8:26, he says, We do not know how to pray as we ought. In this short book, written for a popular audience by well-known Catholic biblical scholar Dr. Tim Gray, we discover the secret of the saints which can enable us to enter into a lively dialogue with God. Their secret: the ancient art of Lectio Divina (divine, or sacred reading), which is reading, meditating on, and praying the Scriptures. As St. Cyprian notes, Diligently practice prayer and lectio divina. When you pray, you speak with God; when you read [the Scriptures], God speaks to you. Here, we discover that we don t need a mystic gene or divine epiphany to hear God; we simply need to take up the Bible and read.