Thursday, November 29, 2007

Have a Carrot Stick?

Having used the self-check-out at the grocery store hundreds of times, having been a cashier in a couple of stores, I should know how to ring up a few carrots. But I keep wondering if there's any possible mistake I could have made on those carrots. I can't think of any.

But when five moderately sized carrots came to nearly $5.00, I knew that I at least made a mistake in selecting them. I found the attendant and asked her to take them off my order for me. A dollar a carrot? No way.

Now, if you wonder, after three days is this all she can come up with to write about, well, I wanted to write about last night's television debate. (Even though I normally "never" write about politics.) However, today is our co-op day, and I have some homemade play-dough to make for my preschoolers.

I'm not sure I really wanted to start now, writing about politics, anyway. I just hope you watched...or if they do re-runs that you can catch it. I am so very glad I got to watch this.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Please Stay Tuned

We are taking a station break here. I'll be back whenever I'm feeling better. Nothing serious (except for being seriously sleep-deprived from coughing).

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We did.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

One Thousand Gifts

Here is a great idea from Ann at Holy Experience blog! Keep a log or journal of things we're thankful for...a thousand things. What a wonderful way to live, to be looking always for the good things and thanking God!

She shares her thoughts and experience on this, as well as the results of a research study on those who keep a gratitude journal. Enjoyable reading.

Hat tip: Elizabeth at Real Learning

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary

To see a beautiful holy card and prayer for today's feast day, visit Holy Cards for Your Inspiration.

We thank Thee, Lord

For Ed's good job, we thank Thee, Lord.
For Mary's safe move to Atlanta, we thank Thee, Lord.
For Joe finding his calling, we thank Thee, Lord.
For Paul winning the election as senator in student government, we thank Thee, Lord.
For Greg doing so well in his new college year, we thank Thee, Lord.
For Robert's ballroom dance lessons, we thank Thee, Lord.
For Peter and me finding a good homeschool group, we thank Thee, Lord.
For all our dear relatives, we thank Thee, Lord.
For our friends, old and new, we thank Thee, Lord.
For giving us Thyself, we thank Thee, Lord.
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

You might enjoy reading the simple poem/prayer of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Father in Heaven we Thank Thee.

May you have much to be thankful for, in the coming year and always.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Better Review of Bella

Sean at The Blue Boar did a wonderful, in-depth review of the movie Bella. Reading it brought the movie to life all over again, and yet he didn't give away the ending for those who haven't seen it. Hop on over and read it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Potter Difference

Recently I wrote about the sinister books by Philip Pullman, and the upcoming movie based on the first book. In introducing that post, I mentioned the controversy in the Christian world about Harry Potter. What I was really trying to say is that we had this huge controversy rocking the world over a book series, while another book series was being sneaked through more quietly. Is there a difference between the two series?

First of all, Philip Pullman is an avowed atheist who allegedly said in a 2003 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, “My books are about killing God.” J. K. Rowling, the Harry Potter author, on the other hand, attends the Church of Scotland and has stated what many readers had already found, that her books contain Christian imagery.

One big question I’ve been hearing now is this: How do we tell children who’ve been allowed to read the Harry Potter series that they should not read His Dark Materials (the Pullman trilogy)? I’ve heard this question from people who are adamantly opposed to Harry Potter, and it seems to me that it’s being said in an “I told you so” sort of way. But, be that as it may, my answer is a question: How do we tell our children anything? First we need to become informed, think it through, and then explain to them at their level. Here is what I would explain:

While Rowling’s books are about good fighting against evil, the Pullman books apparently turn good and evil upside down. The Pullman books include themes about fighting against “the magisterium” (Christianity, or the Church) and “the authority” (God). Rowling’s books include themes about choosing what is right rather than what is easy; loving people of all races and abilities; family values and depending on family and friends; and so much more that is right and good.

I feel that children who can understand about Santa and the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy can understand the difference between fantasy witches and real witches. (And no, personally, I don’t like the idea of younger children reading the Harry Potter books.)

Make-believe witches and wizards have been included in fantasy literature through many ages. In fantasy literature, they are a literary device of a make-believe world, just as talking animals are a literary device in fables. Witches and wizards in fantasy appear in a story as either bad characters or as good characters. In the Wizard of Oz, there was a bad witch and there was Glinda the good witch. In the Lord of the Rings, one of the heroes is the Wizard Gandalf. In Harry Potter, there are witches and wizards, some of whom are good and some of whom are bad. They go to school to learn how to use their inherited talents wisely.

In our real world, there are those who decide to follow a false religion that they sometimes call witchcraft, who play with the occult, calling on supernatural powers that are not from God. Regardless of what literature our children read, we will want them to know that it’s very dangerous, and against the commandments, to play with fortune telling and any other occult practices.

Am I trying to persuade you to let your children read Harry Potter? Actually, no; I believe that should be up to each mother and father. I’m only trying to say, please, let’s not compare apples with oranges. These two authors come from an entirely different viewpoint, with entirely different intentions.

(Note: My sources for information on Philip Pullman's books are, at least partially, the linked resources in my blog post. My source for the Potter books is myself, having read the books in their entirety.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007


If you haven't yet seen the movie Bella, this Sunday may be your last chance. From what I have read, if enough people see it this weekend, it may run through Thanksgiving weekend. So, either way, now's the time for a last big turnout.

My husband and I finally went to see it today. The people were absolutely beautiful, bigger than life. I totally fell in love with the wholesome, generous Hispanic family...and the girl was a suberb actor, too. My husband said they emoted well, and he's a bit of an acting critic, so that's high praise. I would say there was a powerful lot of emotion, but it was very natural.

It wasn't an action-packed or fast-moving film, but when I asked hubby afterward if he was bored, he said an emphatic no. The overall plot was good but I was confused a bit at times, although the things I had been confused about became clear as the movie progressed. We enjoyed this movie and if you haven't yet, I hope you will.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Father Brown Reader Reviewed

Delightful reading! Here are four mystery stories written for grade school children to understand and enjoy, yet interesting and thought-provoking enough for the most discerning adults as well...

You can read the rest of my review of The Father Brown Reader, a book written by my friend and superb writer Nancy Brown, at Amazon. (From this link, you will need to scroll down to read my review.)

You can buy the book from Amazon or directly from the publisher, Hillside Education.

P.S. Please visit the review at Amazon, and if you like my review, leave feedback on it. You don't even have to think of anything to say, you just click on the fifth star to the right (should you so desire) and say yes that it was helpful to you in understanding what the book is about (if it was). Thanks!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Son

Happy Birthday to our now 17 year old! Wow, how the time flies! We're proud of you, son. May God bless you always.

You Will Want to Avoid the Compass

While the Christian world groans under the controversy of the Harry Potter books - with devout, committed people on both sides of what has somehow become an issue, some even forgetting their charity to point fingers and make judgments - something truly sinister is being foisted on children.

The Golden Compass, formerly called Northern Lights, is Philip Pullman's first book in a trilogy called His Dark Materials. Mr. Pullman is an avowed atheist who, according to Snopes, said in a 2003 interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, "My books are about killing God."

From what I have read about the series, the first book is less sinister and draws you in...and the movie, apparently, has been dumbed-down from the book to make it more palatable in order to reach a wide audience and ostensibly so parents will buy the books for their children. As the series proceeds, it is said to become more blatantly anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, and generally anti-religion.

Pete Vere, renowned Catholic canon law expert and writer, describes the books and their author in an interesting article at

Monday, November 12, 2007

Stuff Going on Around Me

Why haven't I been blogging more?

First, there are several things I've been thinking about that I can’t mention, in order to protect people’s privacy (including my own), some not so good, some very good.

I think it's okay to share all the following; I hope no one involved in it minds me sharing it here. Most of it is good, and not all of these require me to do a lot, but they all require me to think, pray, and...well, try not to be stressed.

My daughter is relocating from one state to another.

My blind college son in another state finally got SSI, and he and his friends are looking for an apartment, as he needs to be out of the dorm at the end of the semester.

I finally helped my high school senior sign up for his S.A.T. testing…so now he has less than a month to prepare for it. (And please don't anyone tell me how late we are running. As he is my fifth child, I'm well aware. If you don't know, please have your child take the S.A.T. in the junior year. Much less stressful to do things "on schedule".)

I’ve started thinking we might want to live in a different neighborhood when our lease runs out in the summer, and am trying to think about where that would be.

The weekly preschool is going great and I want to keep it that way, so I need to keep putting in the time to prepare for it.

My writing started to take off, and then I “sat back”, so I need to get moving along again on that.

My next Braille lesson (with a correspondence course I’m taking) is due (actually overdue).

This is the last week of the first quarter for our homeschooling, so I want to do my quarter reports. And that reminds me that I need to do a little reassessment.

And did someone mention it's time to start preparing for Christmas?

Finally, I am in the process of giving up caffeine! Give me coffee. Give me Coke. P-l-e-a-s-e. Naw, really, please don't!! (No matter how much I beg you.) But prayers I will gratefully take instead.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Today is Veteran's Day

Thank God for our military men and women!

We need our Navy people. Thank you to my Dad. We need our Army people. Thank you, to my dear husband Ed, and his Dad, and my cousins Wayne and Glenn. We need our Marines. Thank you to my step-brother, Rick. We need our Air Force people. Thank you to my brother-in-law, Jim, and now especially, thank you to my son, Joe, who is just entering the Air Force (of course, he's not a veteran, but I will take this opportunity to thank him, anyway).

May God bless those who served in the past, both those who are alive and those who have passed on.

May God bless and keep safe within His Heart those who are serving now or will serve in the future.

Friday, November 09, 2007

What is My Blog About?

"What is your blog about?" a friend asked me yesterday, as I was organizing the day's supplies for our preschool class while the children played. Um, hmm. Good question. Anyone know what my blog is about? Anyone help me out, here? How would I give a short answer to this question?

Is it time for me to reflect? I've often wondered if I should be more focused in my blog. The problem is that I'm not focused in my life, and my blog is a slice of my life. It's that part of my life that I feel comfortable (not always real comfortable) sharing with you, my reader.

Oh! Thank you for listening, as I think I just found my definition. My blog is like a column where I share some of the people, events, emotions and resources that are currently a part of my life or that I've just discovered and am excited about. The keyword here for those who know me off-blog is "current". For a little while each day, I'm not time-traveling: living in the past and the future, as some of you know I otherwise tend to do.

When I say I'm not focused in my life, is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. I try to go where God calls me. And maybe sometimes I'm not listening well, or other times maybe I'm hearing things, but at least that's my intention.

So, here's why I haven't been blogging much the past week or two: I've been very busy getting organized with my new preschool class. Okay, it's not brand new, but it was time to spend more time getting better organized. I won't give you a list today of all the other things going on in my life as well, but maybe I'll let you in on them a little at a time in the following days. Just maybe. Much of the time, I don't know what I'm going to blog until I begin.

So, if you're a blogger reading this, would you be able to give a short definition of what your blog is about? And if you're a blog reader, what do you look for in a blog?

P.S. Most blog posts are not articles (despite their length). Articles are revised and rewritten and revised some more. Sometimes with a blog post, I think (as I did this morning): I should cut this down, I should change this; however, duty calls!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More on For the Love of Literature

People have been asking Maureen more questions about her new book, For the Love of Literature, and she answers them at her website.

Check out the questions and her answers here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Interview with Maureen Wittmann

Interview with Maureen Wittmann about her new book, For the Love of Literature:

Maureen, when did you first think of sharing your knowledge of literature with other homeschool parents?

That's a harder question to answer than one may think. I can't think of when this first occurred to me.

I've always loved talking about books with my friends. I think speaking and writing on the topic was just a natural extension of those conversations.

How will this book compare to the booklet you used to sell at your conference talks Literature Isn't Just for Reading: Teaching Core Subjects through Real Books?

The original booklet was written to accompany my conference talk by the same name. From the comments and questions I received after each talk, it was evident that homeschoolers needed more than a one-hour talk with a Power Point presentation. They needed a resource they could hold in their hands and take home.

The original booklet had 80 pages. It was nothing more than a glorified reading list, yet parents came to me over and over again to tell me that it was very helpful to them.

The new book has 300 pages. It's still a glorified reading list, but it's a pretty cool glorified reading list ... in my opinion at least. It does have short chapters on such things as using your library, classical education, unit studies, Charlotte Mason, etc., but the bulk of the book is the reading list (I call them literary guides in the book). There are about 950 books listed, each with a short description, with an age recommendation, and sorted by school subject.

Have you personally read each of the 950 books that you describe in the literary guides?

I wish! However, my children or I have read a great number of the books found in the literary guides. The rest come highly recommended by other Catholic homeschooling parents.

In what ways does your book differ from other books that describe children's literature?

The purpose of this book is to help homeschoolers teach through real books. My goal is to provide a practical tool. It is not a treatise on children's literature but rather a simple book that will help guide parents toward books that teach.

With this book in hand, and a library, what else would parents need in order to give their children a good home education?

Enthusiasm. Okay, that sounds simplistic, but it is a vital ingredient. Emotions are contagious. If a parent is excited about reading and about furthering her own education, so will her children.

And then there are also the necessary ingredients of faith, love, and joy.

Thank you, Margaret Mary, for taking this time with me!

Thank you, Maureen, for sharing this with us! We're looking forward to the book!

Dear readers, you can get a 20% discount on the book – making your price only $9.95 - if you pre-order it from the publisher, Ecce Homo Press, before November 20th. This looks like an exciting and invaluable resource!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Great Thinkers

Growing up in public school, I soaked up the idea that people of older days weren't quite as smart as we are. Each generation, each century, people develop more intelligence...or so we were given to believe. I knew that Jesus, of course, when He walked the earth, was more intelligent than we are. But look at the simple fishermen who were His disciples. Weren't most people simple like that? Didn't the great thinkers, even, have much they were missing?

Over the years, I've learned, again and again, that this subliminal message was incorrect. Yes, man expands on the knowledge of past generations. We build on the knowledge of medical science and technology, for example. But does that mean an individual man of today is more intelligent than an individual man of past generations? I don't think so!

That's why I enjoy so much the short sermons that come into my inbox each day with the Daily Gospel. They are from many different people of many different times, some from the early centuries of the Church. These fathers of the Church didn't have the internet for research or huge libraries of printed books at their disposal. Yet they had great knowledge and wisdom.

If you'd like to read the Gospel online each day, or have it come in to your email inbox, you can visit the website of the Daily Gospel.Org here. It's completely free. You don't receive any advertising or soliciting. But if you can afford it, they can use donations to keep their apostolate going.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Blog Readability Level

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Well, whad'ya know? Who'd have thought? My blog's readability is college level? Y'all know I didn't go to college, right? Of course, I probably shouldn't be telling you this about the reading level, as good writers don't try to use big words, they try to use the simplest word that gets the point across. Hmm, maybe it was the 23rd Psalm that affected the reading level. (I wonder what would happen if I tried this again in a week.)

Anyway, it was fun! (And I did it, of course, "just for fun".)

Hat tip: Studeo

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Lord is My Shepherd, I Shall Not be Jealous

A good friend of mine has told me that she sometimes has temptations to jealousy. It's not that she doesn't want her friends to have lots of good friends. It's more that she fears her friends will forget her. Still, doubts and worries are often temptations, so I was inspired to write this for her.

The following was inspired by the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be jealous.

He maketh me to cast down my green eyes,
He leadeth me beside healing waters.

He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of generosity for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of doubt;
I will not fear being forgotten:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my temptations:
Thou anointest my head with the oil of gladness;
My cup of joy runneth over.

Surely friendship and love shall follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the love of the Lord for ever.

Copyright Margaret Mary Myers 2007.

Thank you to the Holy Ghost - and to David - for giving us the beautiful 23rd Psalm.

In case you aren't familiar with that beautiful Scripture passage, here is the 23rd Psalm from the Bible:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the
paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the
shadow of death; I will fear no evil: for thou
art with me; thy rod and thy staff they
comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the
presence of mine enemies: thou anointest
my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all
the days of my life; and I will dwell in the
house of the Lord for ever.

Psalm of David, Psalm 23 (In some translations, Psalm 22).

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Risk of Doing Business

Hmmm, sometimes I wonder. Just how public I should be. But there's no turning back now. My blog and my mug are there for all the world to see.

Last Sunday someone at church, whom I've seen many times but never met, said, "You have a blog, don't you?" He said he came upon it by accident. Wish I'd had more time to ask him what kind of accident. Wonder what he was looking for, or where he clicked through from, or what. But I was too busy asking him how he knew it was me (since we'd never exchanged names). He said, the picture. Oh yeah. Forgot about that. Not that I mind, made an ice-breaker to talk to someone new. But who else sees me and has seen my blog. The cashier at a store? The people I will meet at the annual company Christmas party? What all have I said in my blog? Hmm, interesting. Just a tiny bit s..c..a..r..y. The reason I dragged out the name is part of the real reason I'm a little nervous right now about the "risk of doing business" as a blogger.

Yesterday I posted something funny (well, I thought it was funny...just a personal, laughing at myself, kind of funny). In that something funny was the word s..c..a..r...y, and I'm wondering if someone found my blog through that word in a keyword search. Someone commented, someone from another country, just that he liked my blog, thank you; so I went ahead and posted the comment. Then I clicked on the profile and checked out his blog...It was replete with pictures of people from another continent (not his), with various sores (disease? abuse?). Now, the question in my mind was this: Was this blogger some kind of missionary or activist, making people aware, so they could help improve conditions or heal people? But I couldn't read the language. Which language? Spanish? I thought at first. But although I don't know the grammar and can't speak it, I can read it just a bit but I wasn't getting anywhere. So I showed it to my husband who took four years of Spanish in high school. Definitely not Spanish, he said. French, he thought for a moment, then nope. Possibly Portuguese. Yep, I'm sure that was it. I used to live in a Portuguese community (in the U.S.), and I'm sure that was it. But I sure can't read it.

Well, folks, since I couldn't read what was being said along with these pictures, I didn't know. And for you, my readers who may click on profiles (as I do), I didn't want to send you to a blog full of pictures when I don't know where I'm sending you, and what it's all about! ...especially since I was feeling quite creeped out by the whole thing. (I still am. I hope I can shake this soon.) I can't remove a comment...or at least the profile of the commenter...once I've enabled it, so I just deleted the whole post.

So, know, my readers, that I am taking care of you!

And maybe we can say a little prayer for the people in the pictures, whomever they are and whatever it was...and for my commenter. If his cause is noble, God bless him, and if not, may God inspire him to change his heart and his ways.

Wow, this post is way too long. If you haven't already seen my real post for today, please scroll down and read my post on All Saints Day. And I suggest you check out Jean's post on the same topic.

Happy Feast of All Saints

Today is the day when the Catholic Church celebrates all the saints, especially those who don't have a special day assigned for their celebration and those who haven't been pronounced as "saint".

It's also a day for everyone to remember that we are all called to be saints in heaven one day.

For Catholics, it's a Holy Day of Obligation. For those of you who aren't Catholic, that means we have a reason to set aside any silly worry about a little gas consumption for one day (if that may keep us from going to daily Mass); plan ahead to set aside any social obligations; and on one special day, take advantage of the great and wonderful privilege of attending Mass.

For a great article for today about becoming saints, head on over to Catholic Fire.