Saturday, February 28, 2009

Free Help For Homeschool Moms

I have to start getting ready to take the kids to their Science Olympiad regional competition in a few minutes but before I do that I'd like to share some awesome news with you.

First, I've decided to partner with Walter Crawford and Homeschool Connections. I love the webinar concept so much that I want to be an active part of it. Kind of like that Schick CEO who loved their razors so much that he bought the company.

Second, all the webinars are now free! Yes, free!

Third, we're going to offer online classes for high school students and possibly middle school students. There will be a fee for that but it'll be very reasonable. This is very exciting!

More details to come but for now I've got to run.

In the meantime, here are links to my upcoming free talks:
Bringing an Appreciation of Art and Music to Your Homeschool
Bringing Joy to Your Homeschool Math and Science Lessons

Friday, February 27, 2009

First Communion Stories

Here's a cool new website from Aquinas Books. They're collecting First Communion stories. I have a great one to share about Teen Daughter's First Communion I may write up for them. If you have a good story, get over there and share!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Favorite Art and Music Living Books

I'm putting the finishing touches on my Power Point presentation for the webinar on Wednesday, Teaching Art and Music Appreciation with Real Books.

Even though I have loads of book titles to share, it is oh so very possible that I've missed a jewel or two. (I'm pulling the titles from For the Love of Literature.)

If you have a very favorite, please share here in the comments. That way everyone can benefit.

Art doesn't have to be restricted to classic paintings. There is also architecture, photography, and sculpture. And music doesn't have to be restricted to classical. There is also opera, Gregorian chant, modern, and jazz. There are also lovely living books on dance to consider.

There are picture books, nonfiction, biographies, and historical fiction that fit into the art and music mode.

So many beautiful books. So little time.

What are your favs?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What Did You Do to Save the Babies Mommy?

The 40-Days for Life Campaign starts tomorrow! If you haven't heard of this yet, then don't waste a second and get over to the website to check it out. You can put in your zip code and get information on events in your area.

Monday, February 23, 2009

St. Athanasius and the Art and Music Webinar

Thank you Mary G!

PSN5: Fireproof

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: Fireproof
Starring: Kirk Cameron
Director: Alex Kendrick
Studio: Sony Pictures
Date Released: January 27, 2009
Run Time: 118 minutes
Price: DVD, $28.96 (Amazon price $17.49)

Christianity Today
Plugged In Online
Catholic Exchange
National Catholic Register
Entertainment Weekly

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rappers for Life

Even if you are no fan of rap music, this video can't help but touch your heart.

Flypside: Happy Birthday

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Webinar: Homeschool Dads Night Out

From Walter Crawford:
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.
The fun starts at 7:30 PM Central Time on Wednesday, March 11, 2009. It's only $5 to register. To find out more and/or register visit Homeschool Connections: Homeschool Dads. (If you get a message about time difference just click Yes -- that has just started happening to me in the past day.)

And while you're there, check out the other offerings from Homeschool Connections. Recorded and live events run from Free to $10.

UPDATE: All webinars, live and recorded, are now FREE.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Goddesses and Kid Lit

I sat down last night to read Flora Segunda by Ysabeau Wilce. It came recommended by a homeschool graduate for inclusion in my book-in-progress 100 Books for Kids Who Love to Read. I got to page 23, closed it, and put it aside. I don't think I'll be including it.

The story was compelling thus far -- a girl with an inattentive military leader mom and a fruitcake alcoholic father who lives in a magical house with 11,000 rooms. Not exactly the ideal family but that's not what bothered me. Lots of great books have dysfunctional families. What makes those books great is how the hero deals with challenges along with a redemptive ending.

I don't know if Flora Segunda gets the ending right or if it contains the True and the Beautiful because I just couldn't get past the heroine's line, "Goddess knew what hungry uglies were lurking down there." Goddess? That bothered me.

Maybe I'm overreacting but I've got a hundred books to read in researching 100 Books and I don't want to waste my time with a book that is probably inappropriate to recommend to Catholic families.

So, if you've read Flora Segunda and loved it, please tell me why in the comments. Let me know how it can be baptized and what redeeming features it contains.

Meanwhile, I decided to take a break from fantasy and try a piece of historical fiction. The Sword of Clontarf by Charles Brady (Hillside Education) happened to be closest to me when I closed Flora Segunda so that's what I'm reading now. I'm four chapters into it already and I'm really enjoying it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New Kindle 2

On my wish list:

What do you think?

UPDATE: Jeff Miller's (aka The Curt Jester) review.

PSN5: The Love That Satisfies

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: The Love That Satisfies
Author: Christopher West
Publisher: Ascension Press
Date Published: July 2007
ISBN-10: 1934217131
ISBN-13: 978-1934217139
Price: $19.95 (Amazon price, $13.57)

Product Description
Building on the legacy of Pope John Paul II, it is significant that the first encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI is dedicated to the topic God is Love. The Holy Father demonstrates that it is agape, the self-sacrificial love of God that empowers romantic love, eros, with life-giving and meaningful existence. In The Love That Satisfies, Christopher West draws from the Pope s letter a series of insightful and inspiring reflections on the nature of eros, agape, and the relationship between the two. He shows that it is through recognizing and embracing the beauty of God s self-sacrificial love that a person is able to truly be satisfied. In uniting the love of God to the love of spouse, the nuptial bond is fulfilled. Perhaps even more profound is the reality that God and the Bridegroom of the Church has a personal love for his Bride that may certainly be called eros (Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, n. 9).

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Making a Point

Recently, a family member made a point to tell me how terrible it is that the Catholic Church has so much wealth stored up in the Vatican when there are so many poor people.

Then he got into his Lexus and drove home to his $250,000 condo.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Seashell on the Mountaintop

In my book For the Love of Literature I ask readers to let me know when they find great books that should be added to future editions. In response to that call, I received the following email:
Hi Maureen,

I was just going through your book For the Love of Literature to look for some titles for my sons and myself. I recall a book I have recently heard through audio book that you might be interested in and even add to any future revisions of your book or recommendations on your website.

The title is, The Seashell on the Mountaintop: A Story of Science, Sainthood, and the Humble Genius Who Discovered a New History of the Earth by Alan Cutler. It is also in book form. If you haven't heard of this before, this is a fascinating story of Saint Nicholas Steno. I believe it is more of a high school and adult book. It relates not only Steno's life and scientific career but also gives the reader insight into what was happening in science at the time and scientific discovery in the age of Descartes and Da Vinci, who were contemporaries of Steno. It also discusses his conversion to Catholicism. I heard the audio version and it was very easy to follow.

Thank you for your book and God bless you in your work,

As you all know, I love discovering new, cool books. Thank you Rose! I'll be looking for this title in the library and consider it for the next edition of LOL, which btw is not too far in the future.

If you've read this book or listened to the audio, please leave a comment here. I'd love to hear other opinions.

PSN5: Freedom

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: Freedom: 12 Lives Transformed by the Theology of the Body
Author: Matthew Pinto
Publisher: Ascension Press
Date Published: January 2009
ISBN-10: 193421745X
ISBN-13: 978-1934217450
Price: $13.99

Product Description:

Who am I?
How do I find true happiness and fulfillment?

These are the fundamental questions in each of our lives. It quickly becomes clear, however, that the best the world can offer are counterfeits that wound us, betray us, and leave us wanting. Our longings for love, intimacy, and freedom are good, but the sexual revolution sold us a bill of goods that simply cannot satisfy.

But there is real hope, and it comes in the form of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

In Freedom, you will meet people who, through the Theology of the Body, have discovered the meaning of their very existence. They have all realized that the message of the Theology of the Body is the key to understanding their purpose in this life. They have found what we’re all looking for—the authentic path to happiness and freedom.

Through twelve real-life stories, you will:

  • See how the Theology of the Body gives you a “new lens” through which to see the world with great clarity.
  • Learn how this teaching is uniquely capable of healing past spiritual and psychological wounds.
  • Discover how the journey to sexual integration, although challenging, will actually liberate all aspects of our lives.
  • Learn the extraordinary connections between human sexuality and the entire Catholic sacramental order.
  • See why persisting in sin ultimately leads to misery.
  • Understand why “love” is the greatest of the three theological virtues.
  • Marvel at God’s powerful and healing grace in the lives of ordinary people.
  • See that God’s grace can prevail over any challenge in life.

Our world is yearning for the truth and beauty of the Theology of the Body. The good news is that a new sexual revolution is beginning to take root in the lives of men and women across the globe. Witness firsthand the power of this life-giving message, and discover how you, too, can achieve true freedom.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Death, Funerals, and the Practical

Over the past several months we've lost four male family members or friends to death. Two my father's age and two Rob's age. At moments the grief has been overwhelming. Partly because I miss them terribly, partly because of regrets of missed opportunities, and partly, I am afraid to admit, because I know the day may come when I have to bury my own father or my own husband.

In a moment of utter selfishness I told Rob, "I want to die before you. I don't want to go through this. I don't want to go through life without you."

The reality is that we never know who will be called when. Sometimes we have to move beyond grief, beyond denial, beyond politeness, and get practical. This morning, the morning after the overly emotional funeral of a favorite uncle, I am thinking about the practical.

I am the executor of my parents' will. Dad and I have already talked this weekend a little bit about his life insurance and bank accounts. Today I will have him show me exactly where he keeps all his paperwork. Perhaps, if I can contain my emotions, we'll talk about his and Mom's desires for funeral and burial arrangements.

It's all so very uncomfortable, yet should the day arise when those arrangements need to be made the family will find great comfort in knowing that we are doing our parents' will. And we will not have the added grief of searching and digging for insurance papers and financial accounts.

Perhaps it is the mathematician in me, but I feel the need to be oh so very practical at this moment. And that goes beyond my parents and to my own immediate family.

When one of our very best friends passed away just two and a half months ago his family had no idea if there was life insurance or not. They are still searching through his records. The house has been put on the market but, the market being what it is, there is a good chance the house will go into foreclosure.

Rob is a finance guy. That is his profession. As such he takes care of the finances at home too. Until our friend's death I wasn't quite sure where Rob filed all the important papers. Now I do. But after all that has happened over the past week, I believe that I will have Rob do one more thing for me. I've asked him to create a spreadsheet with all of the accounts, policies, passwords, and what have you. I will put it in a safe deposit box or other secured place so that I am prepared in the unlikely event that I should ever need such information.

One thing that brings me peace is that we have life insurance through the Knights of Columbus. Whether I am the first to go or it is Rob, the Knights will take good care of our family. They are wonderful about coming in and helping families after a death with the necessary paperwork. Who, in their grief, wants to think about paperwork? Yet, it cannot be avoided. It must be done. We could probably find life insurance cheaper elsewhere but I get a lot of comfort knowing that our insurance payments go to a charitable, pro-life organization as well as having seen the tenderness and kindness the Knights have extended to family and friends when the death of a spouse shattered their world.

I share all this with you because you need to think about these things too. If you have not already, get with your spouse or your parents and make sure that you know how you can most easily handle arrangements and finances in a worst case scenario. It will be uncomfortable, I promise. But you need to do it. Today.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Win a Free Subscription to mater et magistra!

UPDATE: All webinars from Homeschool Connections, live and recorded, are now FREE.

Good morning everyone! Last night's webinar went great. Those things are so fun to do. I think all the attendees enjoyed the experience too. If you weren't able to make it last night but would still like to learn more about homeschooling history using more literature, you're in luck. The entire webinar is available for download for a mere $4. Just go to: How to Teach History with Real Books.

My next webinar is Teaching Music and Art Appreciation with Real Books on Wednesday March 4th at 7:30 PM Central. This morning I received some awesome news regarding that webinar. Hillside Education will be giving away a free subscription to mater et magistra to one luck attendee! It's such a perfect tie-in as the talk is on art and mater et magistra is the most beautiful little magazine you've ever seen. For those who already subscribe, Hillside will simply add a year to your subscription or you can give it away as a gift.

There are also free Mom's Night Out events to check out too. I plan on attending. Now that I'm out in the country, I need all the mom chat time I can get!

On another note, I'm leaving for the airport in just an hour and a half. I'm heading to my home town for the funeral of my godfather. Please keep Bob Peterson and his family in prayer this weekend. I don't know if I'll have Internet access until my return so you may or may not hear from me until Monday morning.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Michael Dubruiel

The world of Catholic writers was turned upside down last night as the news of Michael Dubruiel's untimely death began to spread. I have not the heart at this moment to write in great detail but I did write a bit over at the Love2Learn blog. Surfing through the Catholic blogosphere today will find you many memorials and tributes to Michael. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Win a Free Book!

One lucky attendee to the Teaching History with Real Books webinar will get a free copy of For the Love of Literature. Autographed no less!

You get to attend a fun mini-conference from the comfort of your own home AND possibly win an awesome door prize. Hey, life doesn't get much better!

See you there!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Hurry Before It Fills Up!

There are still a few seats left for my upcoming webinar: How to Teach History with Real Books Wednesday, February 4 at 7:30 PM Central.

It'll be fun as well as informational and beneficial -- the perfect answer to the February Burnout.

PSN5: Signs and Mysteries

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: Signs and Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols
Author: Mike Aquilina
Illustrator: Lea Marie Ravotti
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor
Date Published: September 2008
ISBN-10: 1592764509
ISBN-13: 978-1592764501
Price: 15.95 Hardcover ( price: $10.85)

David Mills
Phil Snider
Steven McEvoy
Not Luke Warm

More on the illustrator Lea Marie Ravotti.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Irrational Christians Unite!

Here's a great Sunday project for you: Go vote for No Question Left Behind as Best Religion Blogs at the Blogger's Choice Awards.

Why? Because we're getting whipped by ("Dedicated to breaking free from irrational belief and opposing Christian extremism in America.")

Do you really want that to happen? Of course you don't. So, take the extra 3 or 4 minutes it takes to register with the Bloggers' Choice Awards to stand up for irrational Christian extremism everywhere.

UPDATE: The atheist blog is still beating us by 2 votes. So close and yet so far! Go vote now! While you're there check out the other Catholic blogs in the running. Catholic blogs make up a lot of the top spots. Give them a vote too if you like 'em. I say, "The more Catholic blogs at the top, the better." And while you're at it, golly gee willikers, say a prayer for all those bloggers.