About Me

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I am a Catholic wife and mother living in western New York State.

Meet the Family

  • DoorMan - Husband and Dad, extremely talented garage door guy
  • B - budding new media evangelist, avid reader, soccer lover, boy age 14
  • B - karate white belt and lover of Legos, boy age 8
  • MAB - me: wife, mom, homemaker, and more

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nocturnal Visitor

Two nights ago I was up. I got out the fleece blanket to snuggle under on the couch, and set out to update my planner and read a book until I either fell asleep or it became too late to.

I heard a curious cooing sound, like the muffled sound of a mourning dove in the shrubs outside. Mourning doves are frequent visitors to our feeders. But this was the pitch black, freezing early hours of the morning. After listening a few times, I turned out the lamp, wrapped myself in the fleece and squeezed myself between the over-sized Christmas tree and the front window. I listened.

I heard it again, much clearer now, and I was sure. It was an owl. And not just any owl. A great horned owl, one of the largest owls in North America. I tried to find him. He was close by, I could tell. But it was too dark with no moon, and the one streetlight did more to blind me than to illuminate the area. I listened, though, for about fifteen minutes, until the whoo-ing stopped.

I was still thrilled. I haven't heard an owl in years. And never in the city. We do live near a cliff, and great horned owls like to nest in cliffs. So maybe he'll be back. Arch made me promise to wake him up if I ever hear it again.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Centurion's Wife

The Centurion's Wife is the first installment in a promising new series entitled Acts of Faith. Set in Ceasarea and Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion of Christ, the story is told from two perspectives. First is Leah, a poor relation of Pontius Pilate whose circumstances force her to become a servant in his household. Then there is Alban, a Gallic Roman centurion who has offered for Leah's hand in the hopes of advancing his own career.

The events surrounding the trial, death and subsequent disappearance of the body of Jesus have everyone unsettled. Pilate and Herod are concerned about a possible Jewish revolt in the province. Pilate's wife is suffering from unspeakable headaches and nightmares.

Pilate allows Alban to become betrothed to Leah, who is legally a Jewess by her mother's mother, in a traditional Jewish ceremony. To claim his bride, Alban must find the body of Jesus, and determine if a revolt is imminent.

Leah, who wants no part of marriage, is tasked by Pilate's wife to find out all she can about the followers of Jesus.

The characters are interesting and sympathetic. The title of the book, and the fact that it is proclaimed a "first-in-series," give away the ending. But how they manage to get there, and what happens Leah and Alban along the way, is an interesting tale.

Most interesting for me was the reaction of people to the Resurrection right when it happened, as portrayed in the book. It led me to ask myself what I might have thought, might have done. I was a little uncomfortable with development of personalities for Biblical characters such as Pilate and his wife, Mary Magdalene, Lazarus and his sisters. But, how else to tell a story?

The ending of the book was left a definite cliff-hanger, with Alban's fate as a centurion in the balance still. I think they overplayed their lead-in to a sequel just a bit. I would have liked a major issue such as that settled in the same volume.

Overall this was an enjoyable, thought-provoking tale of Judea at the time of it's biggest crisis.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just Two of the Reasons I Love Our Papa

  1. "Joy is often found behind little things and is reached by following one's proper daily duty with a spirit of devotion." -- Pope Benedict XVI, address on the occasion of the canonization of St. Felix of Nicosia, October 2005
  2. A recent article in the National Catholic Register suggests Pope Benedict XVI is considering moving the Sign of Peace to another (more appropriate) place in the Mass. For instance, at the Offertory.

Monday, December 08, 2008

2009 Reading Challenge

It's that time of year! I'm doing some things differently for '09 than I did in '08, namely:

  • Less books. I'm aiming for 25.
  • Less categories. I'll have 5.
  • On-the-go book list, instead of writing out ahead of time what I plan to read.
My five categories are:
  1. Theology
  2. History
  3. Literature
  4. Arts
  5. Sciences
I'll try to update my reading in my left sidebar. I did that for most of '08, but let it slide the past few months.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sign the Academic Freedom Petition

Ben Stein highlighted the discrimination against intelligent design in his movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. This discrimination is why it is so important, now more than ever, to stand up in support of academic freedom.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Opposite of Writer's Block?

What is the opposite of writer's block?

I started a novel a few weeks ago, that I simply cannot get out of my head. I wonder if Jane Austen felt this way?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Local Hero

The Buffalo News has a story today about Jonathan Cote and his four companions, private security contractors in Iraq who were kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

I have a friend who is an in-law of the Cote family here in WNY. This is a sad disgrace for our country. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Do not miss this movie, just out on DVD this week. Ben Stein looks at the academic, media and court barriers to the discussion of intelligent design in the United States today. He then looks at Darwinism's influence on Nazism. Must see!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Book Organization

Way back in April I wrote a post about how I manage our books. It was meant to kick off a series of posts on the topic, but I never followed through.

So in the same vein, six months later, I am going to talk about managing books on LibraryThing.

LibraryThing allows users to catalog and tag books they own, read, want to own, etc. Users can log in 200 books for free. Above that you can purchase an annual membership for $10 or a lifetime one for $25. I have been a lifetime member for over two years and have never regretted spending the $25.

There is a lot of detail in the information you can input and edit. For those of us obsessed with books, it could turn into an addiction. But we busy homeschool moms don't have time to devote to every aspect of LT.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I was sitting up the other night brainstorming ideas for making extra money, and trying to prioritize them.

I have been selling things, mostly books, online for nine years. At various times in the past I have put quite a lot of effort into it, and made some money. I need to revisit where I am with all of that and get a move on using my time wisely.

So, here is my list of online moneymaking priorities:

  1. Sell and swap books: I have at least 200 books to get scanned, described, priced and listed. I have about 25 done. There is much work to be done here, but since the stuff is already on hand, there is no real cost outlay involved unless I list on ebay. I used to sell only on ebay. I am over that now, and cross-list my books on up to five selling venues. I also list low-value books for trade on seven different swap sites. I can then use my swap points for books we need for homeschooling, or books with a decent resale value to get and sell.
  2. Sell hand-rolled beeswax Advent candles: Last fall I made my own hand-rolled beeswax Advent candles. I still have some sheets of beeswax, so I just need to spend an evening cutting and rolling them. I will probably put them on ebay and etsy (a new venue for me). Again, I have all of the supplies on hand except shipping boxes. I need to check out USPS Priority Mail boxes to see if there is a good size, or decide if I want to order boxes for shipping (I really don't want to do this unless I have to). I have plenty of bubble wrap and peanuts in the basement. But I need to move fast on this one, and get these done, photographed, priced and listed in the next week. I also have some natural beeswax sheets and if the Advent candles sell I may make up some sets of natural tapers, too, afterwards.
  3. Sell hand-crocheted wrist warmers: Last winter I crocheted myself a pair of wrist warmers from a pattern I found online. I love them. My hands always got cold in the house because we keep the heat at 68 during the day to save money. I think these will be a good seller, and I can get them posted after the Advent candles, before Christmas, and hopefully I will sell them all winter. Again, probably mainly etsy and possibly ebay. I don't think I have enough yarn on hand, so I will have to purchase some.
  4. Photography and Graphic Design: As I stated in my last post, I have been playing around lately with Cafe Press. I really need to take some kind of community college graphic design class to understand how to make quality products. I am pretty happy with my photographs of nature, and maybe I will sell something.
  5. Virtues Guide: I have had it in mind to write a virtures curriculum for some time. I don't know if I will get to this during the current school year, so this is on the back burner. I would self-publish this on lulu.
  6. Mystery Novel: I am writing a murder mystery novel in the style of the Golden Age detective novels. Will I ever finish it? Hard to tell. Sometimes I think "yes" and other time I have no idea how I will do it. I have pages upon pages written out longhand in notebooks, and I have typed exactly one and one-half pages of it into the computer. If I ever do finish it I will self-publish it on lulu.
With times being lean and the economy being what it is, I am going to apply myself to get some of the things above done. Want to see my stuff for sale or trade? Check out my "Me Elsewhere" badge on the right sidebar at the top of this blog.

Cafe Press

Support This Site

I have been playing around with Cafe Press. I made two cards from original photographs I took with my digital camera. I just made a homeschooling car magnet. Come check it out!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Franz Joseph Haydn

Franz Joseph Haydn is our composer of the month. I thought I'd put up a quick post linking to our resources. Most of these are from the library.

Plus I bought copies of the Farewell Symphony (No. 45) and the Surprise Symphony (No. 94) on iTunes.

Our spine for classical music studies is:

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Collapse of Unrestrained Capitalism

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, whom I often read, has an article today at Inside Catholic on the global financial crisis worth reading.

Here is a line I just can't resist quoting:

Proper restrictions and regulations were lifted and, in a mind-staggering glut of greed and speculation, money was loaned on money that was borrowed on securities that were based on other monies that were insured by companies that had borrowed more money that only existed as computer calculations -- and if that explanation is not exactly correct, neither is the reality any simpler.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I am a Golden Age Detective Fiction junkie. This year I have been on an Albert Campion tear. Reading everything Campion in order of publication, plus watching the eight novels made into TV movies on DVD.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Moms in Politics?

How can a woman with a husband and five kids expect to hold one of the highest elected offices in our nation, and be on the short list of succession to the Presidency of the United States, and still be a good mother?

Ask Nancy Pelosi.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Constitution Day

Didn't know it was Constitution Day, did you?



Read the Constitution online.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dividing an Equilateral Triangle

This year Arch is using the wonderful, hands-on math program called RightStart Mathematics Geometric Approach. It is an intermediate-level math program which he is using for fifth grade. He loves it.

Last week he was dividing equilateral triangles into even pieces. The book took him to twelvths, then challenged him to do more on his own. He made a large (16") equilateral triangle on paper and divided it into - 1,536 equal pieces!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Remnants of Ike

We are getting wind and rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ike which are passing through Southern Ontario. Gusts up to 60 mph. Thunder and lightning. It is hot and muggy, still at 10 pm.

Updated BlogRoll

If you scroll down the right sidebar on this blog you will find my blogroll, titled (unimaginatively) "Interesting Blogs." I hadn't paid this blogroll any attention in, say, a year at least. I just went through and deleted all of the blogs which no longer exist. If a blog is not updated, but still "up," I kept it. If a blog changed names, but kept the same url, well, too bad, I kept the name it had on the day I originally blogrolled it.

I got away from blogrolling when I first got into Google Reader. But then, too many feeds to read every day. Now I only sub to feeds in Reader that I really, really want to see every day, and put the rest of the great blogs in my blogroll.

So, enjoy.

Oh, want to be in my blogroll? Just ask!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Was I When....?

I have seen around the blogosphere today people's remembrances of where they were on the morning of 9/11/01.

I was doing payroll. And I had to finish it before I could leave, or the company wouldn't have had any paychecks on Friday.

I was the part-time controller for a small contractor, where my husband was a technician. My three-year-old son came to work with me every day.

Just about nine, the phone rang. It was the just receptionist and myself in the office that morning. Everyone else was out on jobs or sales calls. The phone rang. It was the owner's friend, calling to see if he'd heard the news. We got out the tiny old black-and-white TV our boss used to use for tailgating, which for some reason he kept in his office. We found an outlet and turned it on. It only got ABC. We tuned in just in time to see the second plane hit the second building.

I called my husband, who was over an hour away in a rural county working on the construction of a grain facility. Then I called my mom. I had one uncle and one cousin in the vicinity of the Twin Towers, though neither one had their offices in the WTC at that time. My uncle had been in the building for the first Twin Towers bombing in 1993.

The rest of the morning is a blur of phone calls and a tiny black-and-white TV screen. We watched as the towers fell one by one. I didn't finish payroll until after ten. I faxed it out and gathered up my son to leave. It was then that the first reports came about a plane crash in Pennsylvania.

The rest of the day was spent in front of the TV and on the phone, crying mostly. I am from New York City. We used to drive past the Twin Towers on our way to our grandmother's house in Brooklyn. We would argue over who got to sit on the side of the car passing closest, because you could look up, up, up out your window at the tall South Tower just before you plunged into the darkness of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.

When my husband was coming home late that night on the Thruway, eastbound from near the Pennsylvania line, some 400 miles west of New York City, the overhead message boards in the rural darkness said simply, "NYC Closed."

It would not be until the next day that I learned that all of my family was safe. Phone lines were jammed, and my uncle didn't actually get home until after midnight.

September 11

Public domain image from Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

St Peter Claver

Peter Claver was a 17th-century Spanish Jesuit priest who came to the Caribbean and was appalled by the slave trade. He spent the rest of his life ministering to the slaves. September 9 is his feast day. He's on the calendar in the US. There is a nice picture book on him I just bought with a gift card I had.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Tropical Storm Hanna is raining on the greater New York City area where my family lives. Watching the radar from the NWS.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Mother Teresa Books

Today is the feast day of Bl. Teresa of Calcutta. Here's what we are reading:

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

RIP Ann Ball

I found out when I got my latest catalog from Ecce Homo Press that Ann Ball had passed away in June.

I have a bunch of her books. Rest in peace!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day Books

Fr. John Corapi in Buffalo in '09

Fr. Corapi will be in Buffalo on the Feast of the Assumption in 2009. More info from the Station of the Cross.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

September's Library Books

Whew! Finally Caught Up

Well, I am finally caught up with paperwork, just in time for school to start on Tuesday. What a summer!

Today will be a relaxing day at home, maybe even with a nap. Tomorrow some last minute-shopping and cleaning. Then, Tuesday Arch starts grade 5 and Bam Bam starts pre-K.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm Back!

Well, I'm back up and running on the internet. But, I lost alot of data. I am trying to restore my backup at my .mac account. I am none too pleased with the quality of the program! Apparently, sometimes backups just don't restore! Huh!?! I am still working on it, but I think ... think ... my husband's business records are (gulp) lost. Or, at least I know I backed them up to .mac, and they are there. I just can't seem to restore them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On the Fritz....

My iBook, that is. So I won't be updating here for a time. I am at the library now, and I only get 60 minutes, once a day! Eeeeks!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sister Mary Martha

I do just love Sister Mary Martha's blog. Today she has composed a little "ditty" to remember if you are ever in need of a miracle. Priceless.

May you not need a miracle.
But in case that you do.
Say a quick prayer
to a "Blessed" or two.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Tragic Loss and Family in Need

The Confraternity of Penitents has an article on the tragic deaths of father and son, Thomas and Marc Girard. The Girard family is in desperate need of financial help at this time. Prays, of course, too.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fr. Longenecker on the New Ecumenism

Father has a post about Pope Benedict XVI's ecumenism. Very interesting.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Read Something Good

Aquinas & More's Catholic Summer Reading Program is back. Why not pick up a good book?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

RIP TIm Russert

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A September 11 Memoir

Thomas Flynn's Bikeman is a moving epic poem about his experiences in Lower Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001.

If the word "poetry" evokes highbrow language and stilted rhymes,
do not be put off. Flynn's poetry is free-form prose, and it speaks in
the vernacular. In the following verses, he contrasts the burning
towers, while they stood, with the Statue of Liberty, just off in the

"No, this is not the lady of the harbor
who carries the torch of dreams.
It is a barbarian beacon, with no intention
to warn those who see her beams."

Flynn's story is harrowing. Parts of it are painfully -- and
"painfully" is really an inadequate word -- sad. It is completely
devoid of humor, but not of compassion. It is real. It concerns his
experiences in the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the towers.

I have been privileged to read the personal story of a survivor of
the Twin Towers. He wrote that story shortly after the attacks, in an
email sent to his colleague, my sister. She sent it to me, and since
then I have read it over on subsequent September 11's. Of course, that
is a private memoir. Now, here is a memoir which the entire world can

I cried through Bikeman. It is cathartic. Why do I need to read
these stories of survivors? Why was I plastered to the television for
weeks that September? Disbelief? Compassion? Guilt? I don't know. But I
think I value this because it is so easy to forget, for those of us who
experienced this from afar, the raw horror of death and destruction. We
should never forget.

I am a homeschool mom. My boys will read Bikeman in high school, when they study Modern / American history.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

And the Lord Said, "Gimme Jimmy!"

"Gimme Jimmy!" was the oft-used campaign slogan of Buffalo's longest-serving mayor, James Griffin. His Honor passed away on Memorial Day.

A devout pro-life Catholic, he ran on the Republican, Right-to-Life, Conservative and (at times) Democratic tickets. He welcomed the Spring of Life pro-life rally to Buffalo in 1993.

I met him once, briefly, and he was friendly, witty and gallant. A true gentleman.

His funeral today at the Basilica National Shrine of Our Lady of Victory was packed with mourners.

Rest in Peace, James Griffin.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Daybook: Fourth Week in May

HT The Simple Woman


Outside my Window
...a baby squirrel has been eating under our feeder for the past few days. He's not afraid of us at all.

I am thinking...of the thunderstorms which are headed our way later today.

I am thankful for...my family, spring, and the end of the school year approaching.

From the kitchen...Vidalia Onion Soup.

I am creating...an overview of our school year for next year.

I am going...nowhere. Well, tomorrow I am running errands around town, and if it's nice I'll stop at the park for the boys to play.

I am wearing...brown skirt, turquoise 3/4 sleeve top.

I am reading...Home Education

I am hoping...to get the kitchen cleaned and the laundry done.

I am hearing...BamBam playing with Thomas the Tank Engine and asking to watch a video.

Around the house...the windows are open flooding the house with fresh air.

One of my favorite things...Coca-Cola.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...errands around town; farmers market; finish Roman history.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
The "rocket boys" doing science, launching homemade film-canister rockets with Alka-Seltzer.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Daybook: Third Week in May

HT The Simple Woman


Outside my Window
...we saw a baby starling, still all fluffy and downy sitting on our porch railing this morning.

I am thinking...of all of the things I need to get done, and how I may manage to do them.

I am thankful for...our home and the fact that we are debt-free and have managed to pay the rent every month.

From the kitchen...the BRAT diet for BamBam, see my previous post.

I am creating...a preschool storytime for our homeschool coop next fall.

I am going...to a curriculum fair tomorrow night, Lord willing.

I am wearing...black skirt, blue 3/4 sleeve top.

I am reading...Victor Kugler: the Man Who Hid Anne Frank

I am hoping...a smooth finish to the school year. We only have Religion, Latin and History to go!

I am hearing...Arch and BamBam horsing around in the living room. "Now, I'm in this fort and you're in that fort, and..."

Around the house...the hostas we planted last year are coming up. They are my favorite perennial. My grandmother had them in Brooklyn when I was a little girl. I have always planted them when I could.

One of my favorite things...strawberries and cream for dessert.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week...schedule showings for my landlord (I am his property manager); go to the curriculum fair; finish up Religion with Arch; go to the produce market in the next county; go to the library.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...
The "rocket boys" doing science, launching homemade film-canister rockets with Alka-Seltzer.


BRAT diet. Am I the only woman who has been a mother for a decade and does not know what this is? BamBam has some tummy trouble, and I called the pediatricians office. "Is he eating the brat diet?" Huh?


Okay, BamBam will eat bananas and applesauce and toast (with butter, which is a no-no). There is no way he will eat rice. Special jaunt to the grocery store to buy bananas, applesauce, rice cakes, rice milk, french fries (she said potatoes were okay, and those are all the potatoes he will eat).

Strawberries are on sale, and I bought some. "Can I have strawberries?" No. "Can I have strawberries?" No. "Can I have strawberries?" No. "Can I have strawberries?" Okay, two. "Can I have more strawberries?"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

LibraryThing Meme

If you know me, you know I love LibraryThing. Well, there is a new meme. You take the top 106 books tagged "unread" and comment on if you've ever read them, never read them, etc. So, here goes:

  1. The ultimate hitchhiker's guide by Douglas Adams (43) never read, no interest
  2. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (236) never read, no interest
  3. The kite runner by Khaled Hosseini (19) never read, no interest
  4. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (211) maybe someday
  5. Life of Pi : a novel by Yann Martel (17) never read, no interest
  6. Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra (152) TBR pile
  7. Crime and punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (176) maybe someday
  8. One hundred years of solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (183) maybe someday
  9. Vanity fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (115) maybe someday
  10. The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (155) maybe someday
  11. Ulysses by James Joyce (135) maybe someday
  12. War and peace by Leo Tolstoy (132) maybe someday
  13. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (132) maybe someday
  14. The brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (136) maybe someday
  15. Catch-22 a novel by Joseph Heller (158) never read, no interest
  16. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (162) read
  17. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (110) never read, no interest
  18. Quicksilver (The Baroque Cycle I) by Neal Stephenson (92) never read, no interest
  19. A tale of two cities by Charles Dickens (124) maybe someday
  20. The satanic verses by Salman Rushdie (88) never read, no interest
  21. Middlemarch by George Eliot (96) TBR pile
  22. Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books by Azar Nafisi (96) never read, no interest
  23. The name of the rose by Umberto Eco (120) never read, no interest
  24. The Kor'an by Anonymous (11) never read, no interest
  25. Moby Dick by Herman Melville (119) maybe someday
  26. The Odyssey by Homer (136) maybe someday
  27. The Canterbury tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (108) TBR pile
  28. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (114) maybe someday
  29. The hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (75) maybe someday
  30. The historian : a novel by Elizabeth Kostova (108) never read, no interest
  31. Foucault's pendulum by Umberto Eco (101) never read, no interest
  32. Atlas shrugged by Ayn Rand (102) never read, no interest
  33. The history of Tom Jones, a foundling by Henry Fielding (67) never read, no interest
  34. The three musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (87) TBR pile
  35. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (95) maybe someday
  36. The sound and the fury by William Faulkner (94) never read, no interest
  37. The Iliad by Homer (117) maybe someday
  38. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (97) never read, no interest
  39. Emma by Jane Austen (117) read it, loved it! My favorite Austen book
  40. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (64) maybe someday
  41. Sons and lovers by D.H. Lawrence (69) never read, no interest
  42. Gulliver's travels by Jonathan Swift (88) maybe someday
  43. The house of the seven gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (62) maybe someday
  44. Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies by Jared Diamond (104) never read, no interest
  45. Dracula by Bram Stoker (100) read
  46. Lady Chatterley's lover by D.H. Lawrence (73) never read, no interest
  47. A heartbreaking work of staggering genius by Dave Eggers (97) never read, no interest
  48. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (83) maybe someday
  49. The once and future king by T. H. White (81) never read, no interest
  50. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (82) maybe someday
  51. To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (83) never read, no interest
  52. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (88) read
  53. Oryx and Crake : a novel by Margaret Atwood (78) never read, no interest
  54. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (106) maybe someday
  55. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (56) never read, no interest
  56. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (83) maybe someday
  57. Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed by Jared Diamond (76) never read, no interest
  58. The corrections by Jonathan Franzen (84) never read, no interest
  59. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (58) maybe someday
  60. Underworld by Don DeLillo (64) never read, no interest
  61. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (63) maybe someday
  62. The grapes of wrath by John Steinbeck (99) read
  63. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (124) read
  64. The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake (47) never read, no interest
  65. The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells (66) maybe someday
  66. Jude the obscure by Thomas Hardy (65) never read, no interest
  67. The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (62) never read, no interest
  68. Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (66) never read, no interest
  69. A portrait of the artist as a young man by James Joyce (89) read
  70. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (59) maybe someday
  71. The divine comedy by Dante Alighieri (63) TBR pile
  72. The inferno by Dante Alighieri (84) same as above
  73. Gravity's rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (66) never read, no interest
  74. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (83) never read, no interest
  75. Swann's way by Marcel Proust (59) never read, no interest
  76. The poisonwood Bible : a novel by Barbara Kingsolver (91) never read, no interest
  77. The amazing adventures of Kavalier and Clay : a novel by Michael Chabon (83) never read, no interest
  78. Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen (96) read
  79. The portrait of a lady by Henry James (62) never read, no interest
  80. Silas Marner by George Eliot (57) read
  81. The picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (89) read
  82. The man in the iron mask by Alexandre Dumas (43) never read, no interest
  83. The god of small things by Arundhati Roy (80)never read, no interest
  84. The book thief by Markus Zusak (67) never read, no interest
  85. The confusion by Neal Stephenson (61) never read, no interest
  86. One flew over the cuckoo's nest by Ken Kesey (82) never read, no interest
  87. Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (97) read
  88. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (63) TBR pile
  89. The system of the world by Neal Stephenson (55) never read, no interest
  90. The elegant universe : superstrings, hidden dimensions, and… by Brian Greene (60) never read, no interest
  91. Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (78) never read, no interest
  92. The known world by Edward P. Jones (53) never read, no interest
  93. The time traveler's wife by Audrey Niffenegger (105) never read, no interest
  94. The mill on the Floss by George Eliot (54) maybe someday
  95. The English patient by Michael Ondaatje (64) never read, no interest
  96. Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon (47) never read, no interest
  97. Dubliners by James Joyce (78) never read, no interest
  98. Les misérables by Victor Hugo (73) never read, no interest
  99. The bonesetter's daughter by Amy Tan (56) never read, no interest
  100. Infinite jest : a novel by David Foster Wallace (54) never read, no interest
  101. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (53) never read, no interest
  102. Beloved : a novel by Toni Morrison (77) never read, no interest
  103. Persuasion by Jane Austen (82) read
  104. A clockwork orange by Anthony Burgess (83) never read, no interest
  105. The personal history of David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (69) maybe someday
  106. Tropic of cancer by Henry Miller (54) never read, no interest

Friday, April 11, 2008

Home Education and Books

It is the time of year when my thoughts turn toward next school year, and all of the books we will need or want. I usually try to time my book purchases just after the arrival of our income tax refunds. I like to have everything in place before summer, so I can relax!

But things are different now than they were when my oldest began kindergarten five years ago. I have discovered "living books." And the library. And their book sales. And the swap sites. And LibraryThing. We are in a different home, and possibly moving again this year. We have a different income stream, which is sometimes a trickle. I now plan, acquire and manage my resources in a vastly different way than I did back then.

So I thought I would write up some posts on my whole Book Thing. I should come clean first and foremost and admit that I am a book junkie. I love to read. I love to buy books. I even love to sell them! I've made a nice, if small, bundle over the past nine years selling used books online. I even want to write one. I even have one started!

My boys love books. They both love to read. Hardly a day goes by that they don't read or are read to. Except maybe summer, when they play hard outdoors all day. That is just fine with me, too. My oldest wrote and illustrated an alphabet book for his brother, which I had published on LuLu.

My ever-patient husband says that our duplex is bursting at the seams with all of the books we own. They are starting to make him nervous. They are everywhere. We actually do have bookshelves in every single room in the house, including the hallways, and excepting only the foyer and the two bathrooms. And we are out of shelf space.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Pope John Paul II

We read this book in memory of our beloved JPII. I can't wait until this is a day on the church calendar with a Mass and everything!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Lent and Life

Last Lent I abstained from the blogosphere, amongst other things. I am again going to leave the realm of blogging for Lent and as a sacrifice for 40 Days for Life.

Have a Blessed Lent and I'll see you all again in March!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Saints Meme

By now, you all know how much I love good memes. So, here goes:

1.First Saint you "met"?
St. Therese of Lisieux

2. Favorite Saint(s)?
Too many to list them all: The Blessed Mother, St. Anne, St. Therese, St. Bernard, St. Dermot, St. Jerome, St. Robert of Salzberg, St. William the Great, St. Patrick, St. John the Baptist.

3. Patron saint for the year?
Oops, I don't have one. Let's say... St. Francis, who seems to be a favorite of my boys.

4. Favorite book by a saint?
Story of a Soul by St. Therese

5. Saint book you are reading now?
A Treasured Love Story by Ven. Fulton Sheen (about St. Therese)

6. Favorite movie of a saint?
A Man for All Seasons

7. Favorite Autobiography/Biography of a saint?
Story of a Soul by St. Therese

8. Favorite novel/book of a saint?
Walled in Light (about St. Collette)

9. Saint (besides your favorites) you'd want to meet?
St. Thomas More, St. Cecilia, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta (I came close there)

10. Saint you look to for help?
St. Joseph and St. Anthony and St. Jude and St. Gerard

11.Favorite saint quote?
“Good folk find this indeed, that when they be at the divine service in the church, the more devoutly that they see such godly ceremonies observed, and the more solemnity that they see therein, the more devotion feel they themselves therewith in their own souls.”

-- St. Thomas More

12. Favorite Holy Card?
Too, too many to list them all. I do have the St. Gerard holy card my mother had when she was praying to have children. We both suffered from various forms of infertility, so it's gotten a lot of mileage. Luckily it is laminated!

13. Favorite story of a saint?
Good King Wenceslaus by Mary Reed Newland

14. If you could go anywhere on a pilgrimage to a saint's homeland, where would it be?

15. Any Blesseds or Venerables that you would like to become canonized?
Bl. Teresa of Calcutta
Ven. John Paul II
Ven. Loius Martin
Ven. Zelie Martin
Ven. Nelson Baker
Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman
Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha
Ven. Fulton Sheen

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Paper or Plastic Meme

If you HAD to choose one or the other would you choose...

1. Thai or Mexican

2. Bubble bath or back massage
Bubble bath

3. Boots or sandals

4. The 90% "pro-life" good chance or the 100% pro-life long shot?
The 100% long-shot. If we ALL chose him, he wouldn't BE a long-shot.

5. A cruise ship or a mountain cabin
Cruise ship

6. Rome or Paris

7. Ordinary or Extraordinary

8. Rosary or Stations

9. Surf or hang glide

10. Regal Cinemas or Netflix

11. Sweet or salty

12. Pen or pencil

13. How-to book or fantasy novel

14. Crossword or sudoku

15. Lose a leg or lose your sight

16. North or South

17. A power outage at home or a dead car battery at Costco
Power outage

18. Classic rock or country
Classic rock

19. Wool or linen

20. Lots of good friends or a few great friends
A few great friends

21. Soup or salad

22. Merlot or Chardonnay

23. Picasso or Da Vinci
Da Vinci

24. Charades or trivial pursuit
Trivial Pursuit

25. Evangelical Protestantism or Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judiasm

26. Stone age or dark age
Dark age

27. Steven Spielberg or Ken Burns

28. Thermopylae or Alamo

29. Big Foot or Loch Ness Monster
Loch Ness Monster

30. Babies or teenagers

31. Paper or Plastic?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Aquarium of Niagara

We had a field trip with another homeschooling family to the Aquarium of Niagara. It is a small aquarium and we were able to see it all, including the sea lion show, in about ninety minutes. Great fun was had by all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Pro-Life Day

We will be celebrating Pro-Life Day here at home by:

  • Watching the EWTN coverage of the March for Life from DC (on streaming video over the internet: we don't have cable TV)
  • Reading Umbert the Unborn by Gary Cangemi
  • Observing today as a Day of Penance as requested by our bishops
  • Lighting a candle tonight at dinner in remembrance of the unborn
How are you observing this day in your homes?

  • Arch decided to make his own pro-life sign, like the marchers on TV. Of course, BamBam had to have one, too.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What Privileges Do You Have? Meme

From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.)

Bold the true statements.

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college (Associates Degree)
3. Mother went to college
4. Mother finished college
5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor (not as a child, though)
6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.
7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home.
9. Were read children's books by a parent
10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18.
11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
16. Went to a private high school
17. Went to summer camp
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18. No, but I was a private math tutor while still in high school.
19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels
20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child
23. You and your family lived in a single-family house
24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
25. You had your own room as a child.
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18
27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course
28. Had your own TV in your room in high school
29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college
30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
31. Went on a cruise with your family
32. Went on more than one cruise with your family
33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Price Book

At the beginning of every year I reevaluate my household budget. I try to estimate each of our expenses by category, and plan to stay within a reasonable monthly amount for a family of four. I only "pay" myself once a month. That is, I transfer money from DoorMan's business account and / or the saving account, into the account that I pay the ordinary expenses from. I am trying to reduce the amount of money I transfer in each month.

So it is at this time of the year that I generally break out my Price Book. I give full credit for the idea and format of my book to The Tightwad Gazette. I started my book back in 1997. Since then, I have pulled it out from time to time, used it once or twice, and put it away again. The last time I made entries was last January.

But now I am once again on a budget bender. On top of that, I am trying to eat healthier, make more things from scratch. And I am determined to reduce that darned grocery line on the budget. So today I brought it with me to the store, and used it! If I saw a sale, I looked it up to see if it was really a good price. I also noted down the price of real maple syrup (which I love - $13.69 a quart), so if we go maple sugaring in March, I can tell if syrup at the farm is a good value or not.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That Meme

HT Elizabeth.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE ? The Blessed Mother, and her mother, Saint Anne.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? At Mass on January 1.











13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Strawberry (homemade in June).


15. RED OR PINK? Pink.



18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? None! (See, I only wear skirts, and I don't wear shoes in the house.)

19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Fresh-baked French bread with (real) butter, and Gingerbread Spice tea.

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? BamBam babbling on while he plays with his trucks at the table next to me.





25. HAIR COLOR? Brown.

26. EYE COLOR? Hazel.


28. FAVORITE FOOD? One? New York pizza. The actual real stuff, from New York.

29. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings, like Jane Austen's trademark "weddings all around."

30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Persuasion on Masterpiece last Sunday.

31. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Green turtleneck with a purple sweater.



34. FAVORITE DESSERT? New York cheesecake (are you sensing a New York thing?)

35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? We and Our Children by Mary Reed Newland.

36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Laptops don't have mousepads.

37. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? I haven't watched broadcast TV since Sunday night (see #30, above).

38. FAVORITE SOUNDS? The Ave Maria (Schubert's) beautifully sung.

39. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Back in my rocker days, yes! Not anymore.



42. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Woodside, Queens, New York (aha!)

The Lovliness of Planning Fair...

... is up at Plainsong.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Personal Litany of Saints Meme

A list of the saints I regularly invoke (HT Robert).

  • Blessed Mother (especially under the titles of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Czestochowa)
  • St. Anne
  • St. Therese
  • St. Bernard
  • St. Stanislaus
  • St. Francis
  • St. Peter
  • St. Robert of Salzburg
  • St. John
  • St. Patrick
  • St. William the Great
  • St. Jerome
  • St. Rose of Lima
  • St. Pio of Pietrelcina
  • St. Dermot
  • St. Michael the Archangel
  • St. Gabriel the Archangel
  • St. Christopher

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


My family tree is one of my newer hobbies. I enjoy pouring over old documents and tracing our ancestors. Last year, I entered most of our family tree on Ancesrty.com. Well, this week I discovered a long-lost cousin, through Ancestry. She is actually a third cousin, and it was really she that discovered me. We share the same great-great-grandparents. We have emailed information back and forth. I have learned some information and was able to confirm some for her. She had actually met my grandmother, and been to her home years ago.

So, I am thinking of a genealogy theme, possible during the Easter recess. Arch has expressed and interest in the family tree, and I can have him write letters to all of the aunts and uncles asking for information.

The Strike Is Over

Actually, it didn't last much past lunch. Especially when DoorMan came home early and explained that there would be no rides to soccer, Blue Knights or homeschool co-op. About the only thing in walking distance for Arch is church, so he could still serve Mass, but he would have to walk in the cold.

And, you know, the next day was one of the most enjoyable days in memory. Everyone cooperated, and school work was done and we enjoyed a nature walk in the January Thaw.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Home Management Binder, Part III

Continuing where we left off last week..... Ah, the Lists tab. Some of you will say that it is crazy to have a tab for all of my lists. They should be filed in the appropriate sections. But that's not how I think. If it is a list, I put it here, unless it is really, really more functional elsewhere. Most of my lists are here. What are they?

  • List of Demands from my striking children. It's right up front so I can show it to DoorMan later.
  • Curricula 2008 - 2009 (my working list of homeschool resources for next school year)
  • Shopping List
  • Pantry List (a list of EVERYTHING I should have in my pantry / freezer)
  • Budget 2008
  • Reading Challenge Booklist
That's it. That's about all I have in my binder so far. The next tab is for Rooms, which is going to have a page for each room. I will be working on that this week. The rest of the tabs I am not happy with (name-wise) and they are mostly empty.

Thanks for coming on the tour!

On Strike

My children informed me that they have gone on strike.

Not really BamBam, because he is only three, and parrots back what Arch says. And he doesn't really have any chores anyway.

Arch informed me that he will no longer be doing his chores until his demands are met. What are they, you ask? Here we go:

  • Bedtime at 8:00 pm is too early
  • They do not want to clean up one toy before getting out another
  • They want to watch movies that their friends saw, which we will not allow
  • They want an equal vote in family matters
Now, I am proud to say that I did not bat an eye at this. I asked Arch to bring me the Baltimore Catechism, and I read to him the section on the fourth commandment.

"But, still ....." and on he went.

So, I noted down the list of demands, and calmly informed him that I would not prepare him any more meals until the end of the strike.

Right now, they are playing in their room. We'll see what happend when they get hungry.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

O, Planetary Convergence of Wonder?

In today's homily, Father ---- said that the Star of Bethlehem was no more than what astronomers believe now to be a convergence of two planets in the heavens.

Excuse me? And these planets lit up the whole sky, and moved and settled over a stable?

Why do people feel so compelled to attempt to ruin the wonder and awe of miracles with weak explanations of their "natural causes?"

Friday, January 04, 2008

Snow Unit

I'm in the mood for snow! Otherwise known as: if you can't beat it, learn from it. I am putting together a unit for us on snow this month. I have taken inspiration from the Snowflake Bentley unit at Home School Share. But, we won't be making a lapbook, and I've expanded it to include January weather as well. As I've said before, I like things just so.

Here are the books we checked out today for the unit. The temps are frigid here now, but we're having a warm-up next week, so we may cover the January Thaw first.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Home Management Binder, Part II

I know you are all on the edge of your seat to find out what is on the reverse of my weekly planner sheet. It is my menu plan for the week. Brilliant, I know. It is great to be able to just flip the page to see what I am supposed to be cooking. I designed the sheet myself, also in Word. It is basically a grid five columns wide by seven high. The left-most column has the names of the days of the week. Underneath, in teeny, tiny print are boxes for me to check off exchanges for what I eat. The rest of the columns are labeled Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Dinner. And I just fill in the grid while I make my grocery list.

Today's menu:


  • Cereal
  • Bananas
  • Milk
  • Coffee
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Applesauce
  • Milk
  • Tea
  • Leftover goodies (Christmas cookies, cinnamon buns, etc.)
  • Polish sausage
  • Parsnips
  • Baked potatoes
  • Milk
  • Water
Now, I have one of these two-sided weekly sheets done up through the end of January. I'll do February's probably the last week of January.

Right after my current weekly sheet I have the boys' weekly homeschool record sheets. I take just the current sheet from each of their binders, so I have them easily at hand to make notes on as we go through the day. No more shuffling their binders open and closed all day. Anything to be filed I put in my calendar divider pocket and file at the end of the day (as part of my Afternoon Routine). Once again I am using forms from the prodigious Donna Young.

As an aside, for those of you interested in such things, I do not have a written lesson plan this year for Arch (grade 4). I have had them in the past, and they are a lot of work upfront, and I felt they quashed our spontaneity. So I am filling in the planning grid as we go. For BamBam, he is only three and I just note down any books he reads or art projects, etc. we do.

Back to the planner, after the two current homeschool record sheets, and the future weekly planner sheets, come the rest of the monthly dividers, waiting to be filled. That brings us to the end of the Calendar section.

The next section contains my Routines. The most important sheet is on top, laminated for durability. It contains my ten daily routines in detail. I formatted it to fit all on one page in Word, using three columns. The ten routines are:
  1. Morning
  2. Lauds
  3. Children's Morning
  4. Kitchen Morning
  5. Afternoon
  6. Vespers
  7. Children's Evening
  8. Kitchen Evening
  9. Bedtime
  10. Compline
I refer to this all day long. It is important that it is right behind the "Routines" tab and easy to open to.

Behind this, I have a laminated copy of my boys' morning and evening routines. The original is posted on the white board in the dining room. It is a detail of what they should accomplish at the beginning and end of the day. Arch has a few chores (making beds, recyclables, carpet sweeping) which he should do without being reminded. The rest of it is prayers, hygiene, dressing.

Next is an overview of what our day (mine and the boys') should look like, with approximate times for general things. I looked at scheduling my life ala MOTH or A Mother's Rule of Life. Those clock-intensive systems overwhelm me and I get discouraged. But, I do see the value of having just a one sheet summary of what we could be doing when.

The next page is Arch's daily schedule by subject. This is one area where being time-sensitive is important, or else subjects can get out of control. It lists which subjects we should be covering when. We do not stick to this unbendingly. If we are done with grammar at 9:30 instead of 9:45, we move on. I do try not to go over the allotted time for each subject without a good reason. This schedule keeps us on course. I have some notes for BamBam on the right of the page. But, again, he is only three. We do not stick to anything with him. I got the ideas for the class times on it from Mater Amabilis.

And so we have reached the end of the Routines tab. Fun stuff, huh? You'll have to check in tomorrow for the exciting chapter on my Lists tab.

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