Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Recognizing Faces

A couple years ago, I wrote the following article at my website:

Fifteen years ago, sitting at dinner with my family, I asked a question that had slowly dawned on me, "When we're talking about someone, do you see that person in your mind?"

What I've found since then is that most people who do, have never imagined that anyone else doesn't. And for those who don't, it sometimes takes many years of life to realize that others do. I've also found that it's a matter of degree. Some people visualize faces in their minds clearly and at will. Some people visualize faces in their minds only occasionally and not clearly...still others, not at all.

For those of us who do not visualize faces well, description can be a problem. Someone asks, "What does she look like?" and we are often hard-pressed to give an answer. Often our answer has more to do with the person's personality or mood than with what he or she looks like.

"How widespread is this problem and what can I learn about it?" I wondered.

Click here to find out what I learned.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Newspaper Article on Tridentine Mass in Baltimore

Not bad for a newspaper article in a secular newspaper.

"The Prayer of the Children of God"

Today's Daily Gospel has a beautiful commentary by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa), called The Prayer of the Children of God.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Getting Kids Writing

Is this how the kids feel when they're supposed to write something, and they sit and look at a blank screen? (Remember when we used to call it a blank piece of paper?)

This morning I am wondering just how I've been coming up with posts nearly every day! I hope this morning's blankness isn't related to my having split my mind into two blogs. (Smile. Not that my mind wasn't already scattered here, there and everywhere.)

This staring at blank whiteness makes me think of my youngest son - the one who is visually impaired - who struggles to write. He is extremely good at talking, expounding, articulating. Can I think of any more verbs for him? You get the picture. But all he has to do is sit down to the keyboard to write a book report, and suddenly he doesn't know what to say. I finally figured out that it was the process...that if I sat myself at the keyboard and had him dictate, he could think and speak as fast as his mind works, and yes, I can type that fast. So he dictates; I type. Then on another day, I dictate what I've typed for him, and he types it. So, in the end, it's "all his".

This is, of course, a temporary plan, as he prepares to enter high school level work. I hope to get him typing faster, and in the meantime, I would like to get him doing this process using a tape recorder.

But the other day he had a little spare school time, so he watched a show on the history channel about Fort Knox, which he found fascinating. The next time he needed to write, he said he wanted to write about Fort Knox. Instead of sitting down at the computer, he got a pen and paper, and began writing (in his one-inch print). He wrote about six pages and did a great job. He said that on another day, he will type it. Who would have thought he'd be more comfortable writing by hand?

One thing I love about homeschooling is the flexibility it allows us. We can push the children to do what they aren't comfortable with, but at the same time, allow them to find ways to overcome their discomfort, grow, and even become enthusiastic.

Well, I hadn't planned what I was going to write, and as it turns out, this one is appropriate for BOTH blogs. (Smile).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Confession 101

Is it a chore to find a time to get to Confession? A bore to get ready? Do we really appreciate Our Lord's great gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation?

Sister Pat, of Spokane, Washington, has compiled a book to help renew our enthusiasm for this sacrament, called 101 Inspirational Stories of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

On her webpage for the book, she also shares a number of free stories from the book, as well as free online workpages from the workbook. Please check out the webpage. It's well worth the time!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Blog Established

My new blog, "VIP Homeschooler", is now up and running. VIP (in this case) stands for Visually Impaired Persons.

I will keep this current blog as it is, including the label for visually impaired articles in the right hand column. But future articles about visual impairment will appear on the other blog.

From One Blog to Two Blogs

I'm seriously thinking about dividing this blog into two blogs. ("Seriously thinking" means I'll probably do it within the next twenty-four hours...or the next two hours?).

This current blog, where you are now, will primarily be devoted to Catholic homeschooling, book reviews, and family life. (I have already changed the heading at the top of the page in anticipation.)

The new blog will primarily be devoted to visually impaired homeschooling, homeschooling on a shoestring (i.e. inexpensively), and vi news and reviews. I'm still obsessing over the name, but I think that I can change the name once I've begun, so I may just start with a "working title".

I will link from one blog to the other, so please stay tuned.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Do You Hear the Music?

If you have sound on your computer and have your speakers turned on, you might hear "Fur Elise" playing right now. You can turn it off or on without touching your speakers or going into your computer controls. Just scroll down to the bottom of the stuff in the right hand margin to find a control panel right here on the blog.

My son Robert asked me yesterday, "Would you like to have music on your blog?" This morning when I got up, there it was! Thanks, Rob!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Snow Day!

Hubby got a little time off! We went to the nearby school for sledding.
The hiker's walking stick that looks like a ski pole is a happy discovery I made one day at Walmart. (I use this in additon to, not in place of, my putt-putt car.)
The footprints in the snow were made at any earlier time. You couldn't make a dent in this stuff.
On the right, one sledder rests his legs after his grueling treks uphill on ice.
This snow day was several days ago. Yesterday it got up to 50, and the snow and ice have begun to melt.

Homeschooler a Finalist in Braille Challenge Contest

The Braille Challenge is a national contest that tests students on their Braille-reading skills.

A homeschooling student is one of the finalists who finished first in her category this year. Congratulations, Dasha! It's always nice when homeschoolers excel in national contests!

You can read about this year's contest here.

Do You "Like" Lent?

Years ago I knew an elderly woman who said she LOVED Lent. I didn’t quite relate. But hey, maybe she knew something I didn’t know. Maybe she did something I didn’t do.

I decided this year I am going to like Lent! I wouldn’t spend the time feeling guilty about all that I’m not doing and “should” be doing. I would be pro-active and decide ahead of time what I will do.

But I got up this Ash Wednesday morning, once again, without a definite plan, just ideas. I would give up sweets (nothing more than I should be doing every day of my life, since I have a tendency to hypoglycemia, but something I have not been doing).

But what would I read for spiritual reading? There’s a book I would like to read, Devotion for the Dying by Mother Mary Potter. I love Mother Mary Potter. But I don’t already have that book, and it would require spending money and waiting for the book to arrive.

Browsing Catholic Exchange, I found my answer. I love to read the Bible, but how often do we really do it? Why not go to the Words of Our Lord Himself each day for inspiration? I have a Bible already in the house. Most of us probably do. And in this article in Catholic Exchange, a number of Catholic Bibles are recommended.

There are even Bibles available online. So far, I’m not sure if there are any Catholic Bibles online other than the Douay-Rheims, but this translation can be found, fully annotated, at New Advent.
For my readers who are not Catholic, there are other Bibles online. You can find a variety of them at Bible Crosswalk (for those who are Catholic, the Bible search at this website also includes the Douay-Rheims Bible, as well as the many others for non-Catholics).

Anyone want to share? What do you do for Lent? How can we love this season and let it help us to grow in our love for Our Lord?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Emergency Dinner

For weeks now, my dear husband has been working so many hours that the company has actually been bringing dinner in to the office for him and some others.

This afternoon I got a call, that he was coming home for dinner tonight! Terrific! But oh, I've been putting together "whatever" for the kids and me...and you know, I just couldn't have macaroni and cheese on Mardi Gras, anyway. However, I'd already planned to go to the mall to get a battery for Peter's talking watch, and to spend my Penney's gift card. I was looking at two challenges: I didn't have the food to make a great dinner, and I didn't have the time to do it in. So when Peter suggested I get chicken from the grocery store deli, it sounded good to me.

But when I finished at the mall and got to the grocery store, I didn't see any cooked chicken. So I headed over to the other grocery store down the street, where I saw a big sign, "Rotisserie Chicken available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., guaranteed." I looked at the clock: 7:15. I looked at the display: enough chicken to feed one or two people.

On the way to the second store, I had passed a Subway, and that thought came back to me now. Ah, ha. Now that was an idea! I could do that at home. I looked at the bakery shelves and actually saw something labeled "Sub buns". I picked up a couple packs of store brand deli meats, and some Swiss cheese on sale. I had lettuce and condiments at home. It was expensive, as at-home dinners go, but it cost us about half what it would have cost to get the same amount of food at a sub sandwich restaurant...even before the drinks and chips that no one asked for, since we were at home.

Mother Daughter Casserole

I call this Mother-Daughter Casserole because I was inspired by a childhood favorite, "Classic Green Bean Casserole" and my mother's recipe of a few years ago, "Ethel's Special Quick Casserole". (Okay, Joe, it isn't a LOT like your favorite dinner in Grandma's little cookbook, but it's good and it's simple.)

2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 cans (10 1/2 oz. ea.) cream of mushroom soup
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. ea.) cut green beans
1 pkg. (28 oz.) frozen mini Tater Tots (registered tradename of Ore-Ida) or other brand seasoned, hash brown potato puffs
1 can French fried onions (6 oz.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef. Mix drained ground beef with the soup, green beans, and Tater Tots.

Put mixture into a 13 X 9 X 2 inch pan (or a 3 quart casserole). Cook for 30 minutes. Top with the French fried onions and cook another ten minutes.

Monday, February 19, 2007


I'm working on sharing a recipe with you, but it includes Tater Tots and I wanted to include the generic name, so I did a search for them. So far I haven't found the generic name, so I will post the recipe after I go to the grocery store.

But in doing the search, I found another neat blog by a Catholic homeschooling mom.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Do Try This at Home - Just for Fun

Have you ever Googled yourself? (Isn't it funny the verbs that we have fabricated, using proper nouns such as Google and FedEx?). Just for fun, put your name in quotation marks in a Google search and see what comes up. Maybe nothing, maybe something. It depends on where and what you write. For example, if you write on a restricted e-group, what you've written there shouldn't come up on a search. If you write on a public e-group, it might. There was a time a few years ago when I put my name in a search, and up popped a message to an e-group of a sensitive nature...not exactly private, not something I was ashamed of personally, but...well, something I would rather not have had popping up with my name. Couldn't the search have picked something more impressive? Makes me think of how everything we say will be seen one day. Yikes. Maybe I should be quiet more. Ha.

So...just to warn you, my blog IS PUBLIC. I would absolutely LOVE for you to make comments on my blog, but please be aware that they are not private. Sometimes I even forget that myself…well, not really when I’m writing in my own blog, but when I’m commenting on someone else’s. Of course, you can post anonymously, OR if you don't use your whole name as I always do, then I guess your name won't come up in a search. Makes me think of that verse, "Fools' names like fools' faces often appear in public places." Hmm, now that makes two times I've called myself a fool on here ("Fools rush in where angels dare not tread. ")Wonder what would come up if I did a search for "fools"...

Created and Redeemed

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite prayers from the offertory in the Tridentine Latin Mass. You might want to read it two or three times to really see the beauty of it. I love how it expresses that we were redeemed ("renewed") "still more wonderfully" than we were created. And what a great thought for Lent, a time to prepare to celebrate the culmination of our redemption at Easter.

"O God, who in a wonderful manner didst create and enoble human nature, and still more wonderfully hast renewed it; grant that by the mystery of this water and wine, we may be made partakers of of His divinity who vouchsafed to become partaker of our humanity, Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord: who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Leber's What??

In case anyone was wondering:

My sons' (two of my sons') condition is called Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. Whew, what a long name. About a hundred years ago (more or less), I studied medical terminology. "Optic neuropathy" would mean there is something wrong with the nerve that sends signals from the eye to the brain. Of course, everyone knows that "hereditary" means you inherit it from a parent. So, what does all this mean about this condition, sometimes called LHON for short?

LHON is caused by a gene that is passed on to children, only from the mother. A man who has LHON cannot pass the gene to his offspring. It's hard to trace this gene back because it wasn't defined and named until 1988! Yet, in this short time they've been able to do some research and put together some statistics. One thing they know is that it is possible for all of the children in a large family to have the gene and yet for only one child in that same family to actually have vision loss. No one knows for sure what causes the vision loss in someone who has the gene, or why someone else can have the gene and not lose vision.

What kind of vision loss occurs? The onset is often sudden and may continue for a few weeks or possibly a few months. It often affects one eye first, and then the other. Much of the time it is painless (except emotionally). It is not known to cause total blindness nor "light perception only". In other words, the person with this condition can usually see, even when he has stopped losing vision...but it does usually cause legal blindness or worse.

Now there's another definition to consider. What is legal blindness? "Perfect" vision is 20/20. Legal blindness, in this country, means that someone has a vision of 20/200 or worse in the better eye, after any correction, such as glasses. In the case of LHON, glasses don't help, since it's the optic nerve. As a matter of fact, there is no treatment or cure for this condition, which affects primarily the central vision. The peripheral - or "out of the corner of the eye" - vision usually remains pretty effective.

(NOTE ADDED MONTHS LATER: The "unthinkable" can happen more than once. Although we were totally caught off guard when our son Peter became legally blind, we also never dreamed our son Paul would be an exception in this exceptional condition...and become nearly totally blind. However, he may not have sight but he has a paraphrase his campaign when he ran for senator of his student government association. He is active, confident and competent.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

Red Light, Green Light

Do kids still play Red Light, Green Light? Do you even know what I'm talking about, or does this game go back too far for some of you? (If you're interested, the game is described here.) I played it as a child, and our older kids used to play it when there were enough kids around (or maybe that was just our family, making "enough kids"). All you need is a field or large yard; you don't even need a ball or any equipment.

Well, a variation of Red Light, Green Light is what my internet connection has been playing with me. My computer guy tells me it's not my computer, that it's interference from cordless phones...not necessarily ours. We share space (living in an apartment), so it could be anyone or anything wireless.

So...last night I ordered a 100' cable to connect our computer to the router in my son's room. I wanted to share with you this source for cables (whatever kind of cables you might ever need). We used this company before to get a cable for our monitor, and the prices are unbelievable compared to some "regular" markets. It's called Cables for Less. And no, I don't get a cut for advertising. Just wanted to share with you, as I was amazed at the difference in price.

Now if I can stay online long enough, I'll send this post...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Math Resources and Ramblings

Today I came upon an entry in someone else's homeschooling blog where she was just wondering whether or not to get tutoring help for math. Ahhh, makes me feel better. It's good to know that I'm not alone in struggling with teaching math. Of course, sometimes one can afford tutoring and sometimes one can't. I don't just mean different families, but also different stages in a family's life.

Now, I do have one advantage. My husband is a mathemetician by college degree and by profession. However, since he works a lot of hours, we did hire a tutor one year. Ha, that's one year out of twenty-plus. (You see how I love math. I never want to figure out what comes after the twenty in our homeschooling years.) Well, he has helped a lot of kids through a lot of high school math...but sometimes he's just way too busy at work, and sometimes the kids just don't think to ask him for help when evening rolls around.

So I'm always on the lookout for math programs that will work better for us. I'm glad Saxon works well for so many homeschoolers. For good or for ill, we made the decision many years ago to no longer use Saxon. What my high schooler is using this year is yet another experiment on our part: Algebra II by Teaching Textbooks. I bought the books this past summer...only the books, although the accompanying CDs are recommended. This month - with hubby working into the night - I finally bought the CDs to go with them, so that my son can use the CD Solutions Manual if he gets stuck. (The CDs have lectures, not just a Solutions Manual, but it was the solutions my son wanted for those times when he couldn't figure it out.) So far he hasn't complained much about this book, and seems to be progressing well with it!

For Peter, my son who is visually impaired, I love using workbooks for math, since he does his math under the CCTV (video magnifier) and can only see a little bit at a time. Toggling back and forth between an over-sized textbook and a spiral notebook would be more challenging for him. So, through the years we've been using Mathematics, Skills, Concepts, Problems Solving by Continental Press. I haven't been as excited about this book now that we've gotten into more algebraic concepts in the eighth grade, but for grade school I loved the series! (Considering that eighth grade is where my own math weaknesses begin, I wonder if this says something about the explanations in the book. The kids and I sometimes say that we think it's maybe supposed to be used as a workbook to accompany a textbook...but it has kept him on target through the grade school years.)

What I'm considering now for Peter for high school is an Algebra worktext I came upon the other day on the web. If anyone is reading this post who has experience with this series, please get in touch with me. It's called Algebra 1: A Fresh Approach by Christy Walters, and is available from A+ Education Services. We read a review of it, and it looks good to me, and even looked good (from the review) to my husband! When it comes to math, he's not an easy sell.

Last, but very definitely not least, the other day I found a blog by a homeschooling Mom who loves Math and shares her knowledge with us! Some of the entries are over my head...or I don't have time. But she has lots of valuable ideas and resources! So, if you like math...or if, on the other hand, you have math phobia, like I do, check it out!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Valentine's Day Adventures

A Story I Wrote to a Friend Five Years Ago
on February 15, 2002
(Thank you, Janet, for saving this story for me.)

Yesterday my 13 year old son climbed up to get something off a high shelf in the garage. He had permission to get the Ravioli but I thought he'd use a ladder or a stepstool. But no, he used the Rubbermaid box I have below it. Well, now, my daughter is an artist, but her artistic nature isn't always concerned about some of the little details. She had a gallon can of pink paint, from painting her room, sitting right near the Rubbermaid box...and she hadn't been able to get the lid on real tightly. Well, I'd seen that paint can there a dozen times (and thought vaguely that it shouldn't be there) but never realized it wasn't shut quite as well as it should be. I'm sure by now you can see the picture. My son came down from the Rubbermaid box onto the paint can, tipped it over onto the floor and his foot. Fortunately, he is just "dumb" enough to go barefoot in the winter. Otherwise he would be wearing pink shoes! Fortunately also, it was latex paint, which will wash out with soap and water if you get it soon enough. I thought it was so appropriate that the paint was pink for Valentine's Day.

I also felt blessed at their attitudes. My son said it was his fault for not using a ladder. And my daughter said it was her fault because she left the paint there. They both offered to clean it up, and I suppose it would have been better to have let them and just given them advice, but I felt better just digging in. However, my son made lunch to help out, and my daughter went with me to get kitty litter, and she later took another son to work for me. I really do think the kitty litter helped. I got the idea from a friend who paints murals for a living, who had once told me that if you have old paint to dispose of, that the garbage pickup will take it if you dry it up with kitty litter first. So I used that, and used old bread bags for plastic gloves, and lots of paper towels, and lots of garbage bags. My eight year old son assisted me (strong willed, difficult child but very competent and helpful).

We had been so afraid that Dad would come home and drive his car into the garage while I was out buying the kitty litter. So I thought I'd put an old high chair right where he parks his car. One son said that then he would start to drive in, get mad, get out of his car and head into the house to ask who put that high chair there, and hit the paint (with his feet) and down he'd go. I actually told that to my husband later, and he actually thought it was funny…though if it had really happened, NONE of us would have thought it funny…and we wanted to be sure it did not happen. So my daughter just temporarily disabled the electric garage door opener, so he COULDN'T drive his car in, even part way. But as it turned out, we got home and got the paint all taken care of before my husband got home. It “only” took about two to three hours. But we got the garage floor cleaner than it's probably ever been.

I Voted. Have You?

Catholic Blog Awards is now collecting votes on...well, Catholic Blogs!

Three of the blogs that were nominated are ones that I feature on my sidebar! Woo hoo! Let's hear it for our friends and their wonderful, informative, interesting blogs. The ones I'm talking about are Maureen Wittmann; Melissa Wiley's Here in the Bonny Glen; and Danielle Bean's Danielle Daily (although the Awards site has it listed in reverse order as "Daily Danielle". Also nominated was Esther's A Catholic Mom in Hawaii, who has a Catholic Homeschool Blog Directory, a neat service, so I gave her my vote too.

There are a lot of categories, and there were a lot of blogs nominated for each category. This could take a lot of time. However, if you don't have a lot of time, how about just going and voting for these four?

It might take a little thought, though, as some of them were nominated for some of the same categories. Let's see; I think Maureen's blog was nominated for Best Individual Catholic Blog, Best Written Catholic Blog, and Funniest Catholic Blog. Danielle's blog was nominated for the same three. And Melissa's blog was nominated for Best Individual Catholic Blog and Best Written Catholic Blog.

I did feel that the nominations were ALL good and appropriate. But I thought that Danielle, with all her young children stories, has some pretty funny entries. And although it was hard to narrow Maureen's down to one category, I picked Best Individual Blog for hers. Although I wasn't sure what any one else's interpretation of that category would be, to me it's appropriate for a blog that it is there every day, with a variety of topics, appropriate for homeschoolers, new and veteran, as well as for non-homeschoolers, and for mothers and others. In other words, I think it has universal appeal. I then voted for Melissa's for Best Written, and Esther's for Best New Catholic Blog.

So...browse the blogs. Become aware of the awards. The voting is open through Friday. This is one place where the fate of the world doesn't rest on your vote. But it would be nice to show our support, and also show that homeschooling blogs are popular; so if you'd like to vote, you can click here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Contact Me

If you'd ever like to email me, here's my address:
margmary53 at yahoo dot com

I would always be happy to hear from you. When you write, please let me know how you got my address. I'm always curious as to whether someone is writing from my blog or website, or a yahoo group, or a mutual friend. Also, it might help if you would put something in the subject heading so that I won't accidentally delete your email without opening it.

Of course, you can always choose to leave a comment here at the blog, if you'd like!

Name Change

I posted the following before, but it was surrounded with "other stuff". I'm trying to stick to one topic at a time now in my posts, now that I can label the posts for future reference...

Since I was in the fourth grade I wanted to "be a writer". (Are we there yet? :) ). I used to toy with possible pen names. I liked my name, but I always figured I needed a special euphonic pen name. God provides...sometimes in strange ways. Or is it that He brings good out of strange circumstances and muddled decisions, in spite of ourselves? If you're wondering what I'm talking about, I'll tell you. Okay, here's the million dollar public confession: Margaret Mary is not my birth name. But, it's not just a pen name, either. It's my real legal name; but there's a story behind it.

I grew up in the sixties (you know, "the sixties"!). Born in 1953. Graduated from high school in 1971. In my late teenage years I decided I wanted to become a Catholic. I read some good books: The Autobiography of St. Therese, The Imitation of Christ, Our Lady of Fatima by William Thomas Walsh...and I started praying the Rosary and attending Mass. All was going well until I got an invitation to a week long summer seminar in Idaho. Or was it ten days? Who knows? The first thing they did was take our watches. There were long talks given by the leader, but most of the day we were not allowed to talk. Meal time was strange. Everything was strange. Confusion abounded. Talk about brainwashing techniques. The head of the group was named Francis Schuckardt. It was a cult, and it wasn't really a part of the Catholic Church.

Well, since it was a cult, I soon found myself moving up there. While I was there I studied the faith and by God's providence the person who prepared me, knew her Catholic Faith very least as far as doctrine and the catechism. But I think she wanted to make me into a "religious" (for non-Catholic readers, read "Sister", or at least missionary), and I think she got confused...because she told me that when I was baptized a Catholic, I would need to take a new name, a saint's name, a "Christian name" as she put it -- and I would need to be called by it rather than by my birth name. Inside, I rebelled. But I didn't think I had a choice. However, I did think I had a choice as to what that name would be and I exercised that choice. Since my name was Peggy Ann, and since Peggy is a derivative of Margaret, I naturally decided to take the name Margaret in order to stick as close as possible to my original first name. There was one problem with that! Although I had a cousin named Margaret whom I admired very much, I just didn't care for the name itself. Problem solved: I would honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus, by taking her name, too. And I would then have the name of the saint who preached the great love of the Heart of Jesus for us, St. Margaret Mary. But I saw no reason to drop my middle name, so I became Margaret Mary Ann, called by my new friends, "Margaret Mary". By the way, just for the record, the missionary priest who baptized me, who was only visiting the group to help out with a retreat (unaware as yet that this was a cult), didn't know that I was changing my name. He just thought I already was Margaret Mary.

Now, let me say I don't recommend changing your name!! But what was done, was done. And since it was done, I decided when I got married, and was changing my last name, that I might as well make the first names legal too. So Peggy Ann Roesler disappeared and Margaret Mary Myers appeared...on my driver's license, my social security card, and so forth. (The Ann is still on my baptismal certificate and in my heart.)

Yes, I do sometimes mourn the loss of my birth name, like an old friend that I've lost. But I love both names and besides not wanting to confuse the people in my world, I wouldn't even want to give up my name 'Margaret Mary', my principal name for the past thirty-some years. And after all, who could know when I was baptised (but God) that my last name would become Myers? I didn't even know what alliteration was until fairly recently, but there it is in my name, three words beginning with the same letter. And of course, as a Catholic writer, it's nice to have a distinctively Catholic name. (Although it is also interesting when I meet people who say, "Well, you surely came from a Catholic family!" Most of the time I just smile.) But for those who "knew me when", I don't expect - or even want - you to call me something new. As a matter of fact, it's kind of nice not to completely give up the heritage of my youth!

Educator's Tax Break? Nope

Has anyone seen the Educator's Tax Credit and wondered if it applies to homeschoolers? Sorry, but no (the answer I expected, but wanted to check it out). But in researching this, I discovered a blog by a homeschooling Mom who's a CPA. If you're a homeschooler, you might enjoy this blog. Carol shares about tax exemptions, home businesses, and so on, all in a friendly homeschooling/blogging manner.

"T" Time

Hmm, if it's February and I'm talking about "T" time, wonder what the "T" stands for? Hint: It's not a nice comforting warm drink. Dealing with taxes isn't very comforting in general. It usually brings up a few questions. Why didn't I keep receipts where I could find them? How long is "we moved" an excuse for not having one's papers organized better? And why, oh why, do we get taxed on income?

Well, I do think personally that the concept of income tax is just plain wrong. However, I don't think it was real "right" for Mary and Joseph and their kin to be required to go to Bethlehem to be counted so that the government would know how to tax them, either. Yet, ultimately, it all fitted into God's plan for our salvation. So...deep breath. Back to the table to work on the taxes...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Blind Photographers

An interesting article appears on Happy News, telling about blind photographers in Israel.

Appendix of The Catholic Homeschool Companion

Last night I discovered something about the appendix of this wonderful book, The Catholic Homeschool Companion: There is a listing of many Catholic home-study schools. You might wonder, “What’s so significant about that?” Oh, but it IS very significant, because the editors wrote to each of the schools and asked them to describe their own program.

This makes this section a wonderful way for a new homeschooler who wants to use a ready-made curriculum to decide which one fits her family’s lifestyle and values, rather than just going with what a friend recommends, or spending time and money experimenting. Veteran homeschoolers who want to change programs can also get insight this way.

For those who want to teach without a prepared curriculum…or to supplement, there is also an appendix of “Catholic Publishers”. I counted fifteen publishers in this list, before even getting to the list of a dozen “Homeschool Publishers”, as well as additional “Curriculum Mail Order” and “General Mail Order” resources.

For someone who remembers the early days of homeschooling when there were two Catholic homeschool programs and very few supplementary books being published, these lists are totally amazing. I remember – decades ago - thumbing through non-Catholic homeschool catalogs, dreaming of the day when Catholics would have something comparable. The reality has exceeded my wildest dreams.

Back to the Appendix itself, it also includes listings of magazines and websites, as well as resources for homeschooling children with learning and physical disabilities, foreign language resources, and a list of Catholic colleges that homeschool families particularly like. The Appendix, as you can see, is almost a book in itself.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mama's Bank Account

Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes, 1943

Pleasant surprises abound for the reader, beginning with the first chapter. At first glance, you might think this book is primarily about how the author’s mother managed the family’s finances. But Mama’s practical psychology and everyday wisdom are perhaps even more important than her thrift and planning.

Even though the book is about an era nearly a hundred years ago, the way Mama dealt with life offers us invaluable lessons that we can use in our twenty-first century lives.

Laugh, cry, and nod in approval and amazement as you enjoy this tale.

Back Online

Woo hoo! Our computer guy is GREAT! Thanks, Max! Now we shouldn't be going on and off line all the time. Since I don't like to give negative reviews, I won't mention who first set us up...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Two Headaches + News

Two headaches going on here: The one inside my head, and the one inside my computer (or wherever it is that causes my computer to not get online). I'm on my son's computer at the moment, and our friendly computer-fixer is coming on Thursday. Now I have a riddle for you. Why would any mother link her son's computer directly to the internet service and make her own computer be the one that is wireless?? The answer is: temporary insanity. Naw, actually, I didn't want to put my computer next to the t.v. and in front of the fireplace, nor to have cords draped across the balcony door and all of the living room. Hence, wireless was "the only way to go". Or so I thought...

Maybe by Friday I will think wireless is great. Here's hoping.

In the meantime, did you see all the news about the annual March for Life in WA D.C. on January 22? What news, huh? I don't watch the news on t.v, but I look at it on the internet and I didn't see any from the media. Don't know where the media is when the good guys are out there. There were tons of people marching and from what I hear half or more of them were young people. If you'd like to read what some of those young people were thinking and feeling, visit Maureen's blog.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sidebar Updates

A list of labels has been added to the sidebar to direct you to some of the previous posts, according to type, such as "articles", "homeschooling", etc. (check it out).

There is also a "Blog Roll" (previously entitled "A Few Favorite Links"). This list of blogs may grow over time, so check it out as often as you'd like, and feel free to come to my blog in order to visit other blogs.

I also added a copyright notice at the bottom for any original material (which is just about anything here, except for the occasional quote and such as that). Please do NOT copy and send any of my posts around in an email (I should be flattered if you thought of doing it, though!). But you're most welcome to link in an email to any that you want to share or, if you have a blog, you're welcome to link through your own blog! (smile). If in doubt about use, you can email me any time at Or you can email me there just to say hello! (smile)

Making these changes to the blog was my "Super Bowl" project, since I'm not a football fan. I could sit in the same room, and enjoy the guys' enthusiasm (and snacks!), while doing what I love.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"What about Bob?"

You don’t usually find me recommending movies, nor do you often find me laughing out loud over movies, but this one - that had gotten missed in the post-Christmas rush until today - had me doubled over with laughter. I don’t recommend it for young children (say, under 12?), because of a little “language” and attempted (though thwarted) violence.

Bob (Bill Murray) seeks a new therapist, and discovers Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), an egotistic, stressed-out psychiatrist who has just written a book. After one appointment, Dr. Marvin tells Bob he is going on vacation and will see him in a month. Not content to wait, Bob maneuvers his way into getting Leo’s phone number, and finally tracks him to his vacation house, where Leo’s wife and kids welcome Bob. But Bob drives Leo right over the edge.

If laughter is the best medicine, this is one over-the-counter medication I’d recommend.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Tweaking the Blog

Last night I was giving some serious thought to my writing, past and future. I wrote down everything I've had published (whether for money or free; whether published by someone else or by me on the web). And then I wrote down projects, plans and ideas of things I might like to get published in the future. Would you like a peek?

Braille Drills for Young Readers to teach children and youth - who already read in print or have already begun to learn Braille - to become fluent in reading Braille words.

A First Communion Book, written at the child's reading level, that teaches in a devotional way.

Lesson plans for homeschool parents of legally blind students who use books on tape from the Library of Congress Talking Books...for subjects such as history.

The first two potential books have been long "in process". Maybe I won't share with you any of my doubts about these projects, so I don't put ideas into anyone's heads. Ha....And I don't mean doubts about my ability to write them. I don't have a lot of doubt about that (given enough time). My doubts are about whether they would be accepted, published, marketed, bought. Any comments will be accepted and welcomed. (Well, I THINK so. smile. It might depend on the comment as to whether or not it will be welcomed. smile. )

This morning something occurred to me about my blog! You could read my daily entries and check out my links, and never even realize that part of my passion is promoting education adapted to students who are visually impaired! So this morning's project has been to tweak my blog. First I added this topic to the blog title. Then I added links in the template to two websites which provide information in the blindness education field. In "Blindness in Depth", my good friend Sarah tells of her own experiences and provides a plethora of resources. At Kester Braille, another dear friend who is a retired Braille teacher, explains her Braille books that parents can use to teach beginning reading in Braille...even parents who don't already know Braille.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Catholic Homeschool Companion in Review

Have you ever thought of doing a book review of the Bible? Surely not, because once you got past “It’s the inspired, infallible Word of God,” how would you then describe it? It’s history; it’s poetry; it’s law. It’s about Our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s about a faithful shepherd boy overcoming a giant. It’s about a reluctant prophet being swallowed by a whale. And you’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what the Bible is about.

I got excited when I thought of sharing with you, my readers and friends, The Catholic Homeschool Companion, Selected and Edited by Maureen Wittmann and Rachel Mackson. But what pops into my head now is that “Fools rush in where angels dare not tread.” How do you review a book that is an entire library? It's about Catholic homeschooling, but how else would I describe it? It’s stories; it’s inspiration; it’s advice. It’s about an inspiring woman who homeschools her children while suffering from a serious illness. It’s about managing our homes while we homeschool. It’s about homeschool graduates who are happy young adults. But we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what this book is about.

As a homeschooling Mom of twenty-plus years, who has read every magazine, catalog, and website that I could get my hands on, I have found something new that is just chock-full of inspiration and encouragement. Each of the articles in this book is written with the depth and beauty of a “good book”, only shorter. You can pick it up, read an article, go back to your work, and read another article another time. The many articles are very readable, written by Catholic homeschool mothers, fathers, students and graduates…just for you.

Something to Share

My sister sent me the following link tonight. We're dealing with my father's care in an assisted living facility in another town. It's so hard having him at a distance from either one of us, but where he is living is where he has his roots and his friends. any rate, for any of you who are dealing with aging parents or grandparents...or who may some day, I share with you the following touching verses, but if you're like me, you better have a whole BOX of Kleenex ready.