Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Yet More Free Stuff to Win

It must be giveaway season or something. There is still more great stuff to win this week:

Cecilia at Hair Bows for Life is giving away 1 Mary's Box every week of May!

What is a Mary's Box you ask. Well, it includes a Blessed Mother Bow with your choice of Blessed Mother medal and color, stickers of the Blessed Mother, a Holy Card with the prayer for Purity, one decade white rosary (not pictured) and a pretty rose box. What an awesome idea for a First Communicant!

The handmade bows at Cecilia's blog are absolutely adorable so get over there and check it out. And while you're there, consider making a $5 donation to provide a pretty bow for an orphaned child through the Missionaries of Charity.

Another big giveaway can be found at Alicia's Studeo blog. She's celebrating her 5th Blogaversary and to celebrate she's giving away movies, books, and a free Homeschool Connections subscriptions.

So, what are you all still doing here. Get going and get entering these drawings for some cool free stuff!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Catholic Homeschool Help

mater et magistra, THE Catholic homeschooling magazine, has a new blog. Pay it a visit, say "Hi!" in the comments, and bookmark it. There is also a mater et magistra fan page if you Facebook.

Whenever mater et magistra comes in my mailbox, I stop everything I'm doing, grab a cup of tea and some chocolate, and read it cover to cover. Good thing the mailman comes early in the day.

If you haven't subscribed yet, check it out here: Catholic Homeschool Magazine.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Free Stuff in the Blogosphere

I love winning free stuff!

There are a couple of free drawings going on in the blogosphere that I thought you all would like to know about and pass on to others. Both end today so there is some urgency if you and your friends want to enter.

First, Jen is giving away 2 free subscriptions to mater et magistra, the Catholic homeschooling magazine at Wildflowers and Marbles.

Second, Mary Ellen is giving away 3 free Homeschool Connections subscription services and lots of other cool stuff -- autographed books, girlie stuff, crafty stuff at Tales from the Bonny Blue House. Scroll down and leave a comment in any of this week's posts.

Winners will be pulled this weekend.

Good luck everyone!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Catholic Planners

Ooh, ooh, the new planners are in, the new planners are in!

As you all know I love Michele Quigley's Family-Centered Press Catholic planners. I buy them for me and the kids. I'd buy them for Rob too but he prefers writing notes on the back of his hand.

If you're in the market for a school-year planner, you've got to check these out. They now include both the Ordinary (New) and Extraordinary (Traditional) Forms of the Liturgy with the liturgical colors proper to the day. I love it! And, you can choose from nine different covers. But you need to pre-order so get a going over to Family-Centered Press's website to check it out.

Don't forget to tell all your friends too!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

PSN5: Florence Nightingale's Nuns

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: Florence Nightingale's Nuns
Author: Emmeline Garnett
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Date Published: March, 2009
ISBN-10: 1586172972
ISBN-13: 978-1586172978
Price: $9.95
Age Group: 9 - 12

Description: At the age of 24, Florence Nightingale decided to dedicate herself to the care of the sick, especially those wounded in battle. She worked for nearly a year with the nursing Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul in Alexandria, Egypt. After that, when she established a hospital to tend the wounded during the Crimean War (1854 - 1856), she welcomed the assistance of thirty-eight women, including a group of Catholic nuns. This Vision Book for youth presents the moving story of those ten heroic nuns, from the Convent of Mercy in Bermondsey, England. The conditions in military hospitals at that time were extremely primitive and often lacked even the most basic necessities for treating the wounded and dying. But these dedicated nurses, especially the devoted nuns who saw Christ in their patients, sought to give them the very best care possible. Their successful struggle to establish higher standards of sanitation and care became widely known after the war, and Florence Nightingale became famous.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Catholic Homeschooling in Ohio

I'll be speaking at the Dayton, Ohio Catholic homeschooling conference next month. I'm looking forward to seeing Regina Doman and Danielle Bean again.

This is a conference not to miss! Here is the information below. Make sure to stop at the Homeschool Connections table and say Hello!

6th Annual Dayton Catholic Homeschool Conference
May 21 & 22, 2010
St. Peter Family Life Center in Huber Heights Ohio.

Join us for encouragement, instruction, inspiration and great shopping!
New this year, Used Book Sale Saturday am only, 8:30am-11:30am.

For convenient, online early bird registration click here.
To view the schedule click here.

Our featured speakers include:
To date our 2010 Vendors include:
Suggested early bird donation for attendance Single $15, Couple $20, Teen $10, Family $40

Friday, April 09, 2010

Books for Boys (and Girls) and Tale of Manaeth

When I speak or write on the topic of literature, the one comment I always get is, "I need book ideas for boys!" I've written on this topic countless times and still people ask me, "What are good books for boys?" So, when my friend Phillip Campbell gave his new book to me, Tale of Manaeth, I just knew I'd have to tell you all about it. If you have boys, buy this book. Gosh, if you have girls, buy this book. The boys will love the blood, guts, and gory war scenes. The girls will love the fact that the hero is a girl.

First, about the author. I know Phillip through our Catholic homeschool group. He's a homeschool dad who also provides tutoring services for local homeschoolers. In fact, I was so impressed by his natural teaching ability (my kids love him!) that I hired him for Homeschool Connections. Phillip is an Ave Maria University grad and currently a Madonna education graduate student. He is also the Director of Religious Education for a terrific parish in Ann Arbor.

While Phillip's book is not overtly Catholic, Tale of Manaeth was written by a dedicated and faithful Catholic. I like that. I get weary reading kid lit and weeding out the trash.

As The Curt Jester wrote recently, "Tale of Manaeth is an old school fantasy epic written in the narrative style like the Iliad or Tolkien’s Silmarillion." When Phillip first handed the book to me he mentioned that he was concerned that the writing style might be hard on modern ears, but he had nothing to worry about. It's refreshing to immerse oneself in language that excites the soul, that makes you think about the words themselves.

Yet, it is not the writing style that puts this book at the top of my list. It's the girl hero. She is a princess, living the good life, when suddenly she is thrust into a life or death situation. Not just her own life, but the life of her royal subjects. It reminds me a little bit of Alice in The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor. (A book I really should review one day but for now I'll say I liked it but there is a huge red flag for the sequel Seeing Redd. Huge.)

But back to Phillip's Tale of Manaeth. Our heroine is Manaeth whose name is changed to Manissa. After all, she is no longer the same person. Manaeth was a young, naive girl. Manissa is a warrior queen. Unexpected, unplanned. She didn't ask for the job of warrior queen. Didn't necessarily want it. Yet rose to the occasion when called upon and saves the world with her wisdom, tenacity, and moral compass.

I love those kinds of heroes. That is the kind of hero a child can relate to and aspire to be. It demonstrates how everyday people living everyday lives can overcome the worst of situations and save the world. Isn't that what we all love about Peter in Narnia and Frodo in LOTR, who do things out of personal conviction, because it's the right thing to do and not out of a quest for fame and fortune?

So, if you're looking for a good read for your older tweens or teens, or gosh for yourself, I recommend Tale of Manaeth. (Make sure to ask the author to autograph for you!)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Start of a Conversion

I'm a vert. Not a convert but a revert. I was raised a Catholic but public high school did it's number on me and by the time I left the University of Missouri I was a full blown heathen. However, through the grace of God I found myself, a decade later, yearning for Him.

I had an old college chum feeling the same yearnings. After weeks of talking about it, we finally set a date to go to Mass together. It was a big deal. Neither of us had seen the inside of a church in years so we figured we better get there a half hour early. After all, we had a lot of praying and reflecting to do before Mass.

On that fateful Sunday, my friend showed up at my apartment and we got into my brand new Nissan Maxima that didn't even have 1,000 miles on it yet. We pulled out of the parking lot and the car died. It wouldn't start for 5 minutes. We went a few feet and it died again. It wouldn't start for 5 minutes. We went a few feet and ... you get the idea. It died 4 or 5 times on the way to the church. Each time, we had to wait 5 to 10 minutes to get started again. We got to the church just as Communion was finishing up.

The church was 1.6 miles from my apartment. My car drove home just fine. It never broke down again.

I don't know about you but I saw it as a message. A very clear message. This going to church thing was so important that someone was trying to keep me from getting there. I knew I had to keep going.

What about my friend? He wasn't moved by the experience and is still away from the Church. As for me, my conversion was Petrine not Pauline. The car thing didn't knock me off my horse and I didn't find myself immediately on fire for all things Catholic. It was a slow journey but that day was the beginning of it. I did finally find myself fully and completely reconciled with God and His Church, but that's quite a long story.

One final note. I shared this story some years ago at a Catholic homeschooling conference that just happened to be held in that very same church. I was giving a talk to teens on choosing a vocation and job search skills. When I got to the part about leading a virtuous life so that you can clearly hear God's call, I told this story. It was an emotional moment. There I stood on the podium awash in tears. It was embarrassing to cry in front of a room of teens but I think they'll remember that it's a lot better to stay on the straight and narrow path. When you get off of it, it's really hard to get back on as it was for me. Sometimes, like for my friend, you never get back on.

And if it weren't for the fervent prayers of loved ones, I may not have got back on either.