November 26, 2015

Give Thanks for Our Creator!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here we are again, starting the Church's New Year (the first Sunday of Advent) immediately on the heels of a uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving, a day specifically ordained for the cause of giving thanks as a nation to our Creator.  What a joyous union of our great country's secular and religious priorities!

To start off your Church New Year, I'd love to share with you a cherished novena, commonly known as the "Christmas Novena" or the "St. Andrew's Novena" (the former so named for its last day; the latter so named for its first).  This novena is to be recited 15 times per day (yes, you read that correctly -- fifteen times per day...I know, whew!) from Monday, November 30th (the Feast of St. Andrew) through Christmas Day (the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord).

This is piously believed to be a powerful novena!

Think it's too much?

So, break up your recitations -- pray five at breakfast, five at lunch, and five at dinner or bedtime.  Maybe post a few copies of the prayer throughout your house (scroll down for a copy!), along with your Christmas decorations, praying it as you move throughout your day.  Maybe pray it as a family, assigning each person or child to pray it at least one, two, or five times per day to make a family total of fifteen.

Is it magic?  No.

Is it fool proof?  No.  (Remember, I'm praying it, too!)

Does it not "count" if you miss a day or miss a recitation?  Who knows.

No --I meant "Who" purposely with a capital "W."  God knows.  Only God knows.  Only God knows what's in your heart and mind this Advent and Christmas season.  Only God knows why you might need this novena and actually were inspired to click on this e-mail from that crazy lady in Savannah.  Only God knows the efficacy of our prayers.

Only God, the Creator of the universe and of YOU, came down from on high as a helpless Infant Child, specifically to rescue YOU from the insanity of life as a flawed human being.  Remember, He made you.  He made you to know, LOVE, and serve Him and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

He loves you.

Please join me in TRYING to pray this novena, TRYING to focus at least a portion of our increasingly busy December days on the Infant Christ, Who is to come.  He is coming to save the world -- to save YOU!

Hail and blessed be that incomprehensibly vast and singular moment of His arrival.

Please join me in prayer for a very merry Christmas, indeed!  Enjoy!  :-D

Saint Andrew
Christmas Novena

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother.  Amen.

October 22, 2015

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

A new homeschool mom recently contacted me and expressed her insecurity about getting it "right" or doing "enough" for her kids.  I thought she, like so many of us homeschool moms, was being a little hard on herself.  I know this is easy to say, but -- DON'T BE!  Any time you think you're not doing "enough" or not doing it "right" (even on days when your kids don't "want" to be homeschooled), remember:

Remind yourself of your original or core reasons for homeschooling.

Remind yourself of the cess pool of cultural garbage in government schools and be glad your kids aren't being corrupted by those influences.

Remind yourself that God specifically has endowed YOU, as YOUR children's parent, to be their best teacher!

Are you an expert on every academic subject?  No.
Are you an expert on elementary education?  No.
Are you an expert on child psychology?  No.

Are you an expert on YOUR children?  YES!
Are you capable of learning alongside your children?  YES!
Are you available to be your child's personal tutor 24/7?  YES!

So.  The next time you're "should - ing" on yourself ("I should be doing this," "I should be doing that,"), follow these simple steps:

Take a step back.
Take a deep breath.
Look up at God.
And smile!

There is SUCH an overwhelming wealth of academic and co-curricular materials available out there nowadays to homeschool families.  Neither you (nor ANY teacher) can possibly teach her child(ren) everything that's offered at every grade level.  But, that's one of the many beautiful aspects of homeschooling -- YOU get to choose your child's subject matter, focus, and interests.  It's not chosen by the least common denominator, Common Core, or teaching to the standardized test.

What freedom!

Remember, all things are possible with God!  He made us, right!?  And He made your kids and gave them to YOU, because He knew you could do it!

Remember, God made you to know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.  But, not just you.  Your children, too!  When you stand before the Lord, I don't think He will ask you how Jane did on her 8th Grade Algebra Test.

I think He will ask you, "What did you do with the souls I entrusted to you?"

Your answer should be, "I did my best, Lord, to bring them home to You."

The rest is just gravy.

October 16, 2015

Shutterfly - 101 Free Prints!

I just ordered a photo book from Shutterfly and they gave me this coupon for 101 Free Prints to pass along to friends.  With Christmas coming (what!? already!? yes, only 69 days!), I thought this might be economical and useful for anyone who likes to tuck a family photo into their Christmas cards.

Here is the link for you:


October 10, 2015

The Kingdom of Irrationality

"The Kingdom of Irrationality," St. Pope John Paul II wrote to a friend.

(Well, of course he was talking about motherhood, silly!)

Here's a lovely blog post to encourage every mother out there in the trenches, who is up to her eyeballs in the nitty-gritty of raising children.  The saints see, understand, and are pulling (and praying!) for you!

She's Not Done

Julie Walsh articulates so well the joys, sacrifices, and chaotic madness of love that is life in a larger family!  Enjoy her blog post "You Won't Hear Me Say I'm Done!"

Welcome Home to Rome!

Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers has announced that she is converting to Catholicism this weekend.  Congratulations Kirsten and welcome home to Rome!

You can read various relevant stories about Kirsten's conversion at these links:

The Deacon's Bench

Christianity Today

Wikipedia Biography

October 9, 2015

Homeschool Planner Pages - FREE!

There are SO many homeschool moms out there who are far more clever and creative than I ever will be.  Thankfully, they are generous, too!

If you're like me and are (slightly...heh-heh!) OCD about your planner or calendar, then you are going to LOVE these free, printable, Charlotte Mason-style homeschool planner pages brought to you by  She also has some links at the bottom of the page for Bible verses and hymns, too.


October 6, 2015

Think, Not Pink

A wise friend just sent me this letter, and I simply cannot say it any better.  Thank you, Betsy!

Since it is October, be prepared to be inundated with pink everything, along with requests for your hard-earned dollars to go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, ostensibly to help prevent breast cancer.

It is a sign of the times that a foundation collects hundreds of millions of dollars to supposedly stop breast cancer, and then gives it to an organization like Planned Parenthood, which directly increases cases of breast cancer through abortion. Talk about feathering their own the cost of innocent babies' and women's lives.

I never buy anything with pink on it--not even sneakers.  Not yogurt, not M&M's, not Campbell's soup, NOTHING.  I refuse to participate in any way with an organization so closely linked to the taking of innocent human life.

If you aren't sure, please look at the following information about Komen from Georgia Right to Life:

Komen and Planned Parenthood: What's the Story?

Everyone would like to see breast cancer go away. No one is denying that a cure, just like for all the other cancers out there, would be a blessing.  But, giving to Komen is NOT the way to make that happen.

Let's remember October for whose month it REALLY is: Our Lady's!

October 5, 2015

And What Did We Learn?

Yesterday, I ran my first 5K race.  Ever.

No, please.  Hold your applause.  It wasn't pretty.

This wasn't some quest which I had long-dreamed to accomplish.  This was my husband's bright idea of "togetherness" for our family.  You know, an activity in which the whole family can participate!

Yay!  Right!?


My husband and eldest son regularly run 5K races, either for fun on Friday nights with a local running group or on the weekends in support of a good cause.  This weekend, he said cheerfully, let's all run the 5K -- you, me, the kids, everyone!  Yippeeeee!


You see, what my husband apparently didn't understand is that, while running our household, I normally run rings around anyone and easily qualify as Wonder Woman.  We're like the 1980 US Hockey Team on rocket boosters and I am the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) of the airspace.  (I struggle not to laugh in the face of people who actually wonder aloud how on earth homeschoolers get "socialization."  Have you seen our family's calendar!?)

As an individual, however, I'm rather a dull, average, ordinary person.  Really.

If you want an Executive Vice President of Domestic Management and Organization, then make an appointment with me.

If you want an expert on health and fitness and how to become Superman, then call my husband.  He is a Spartan warrior.  I am Gunga Din.

And I'm perfectly happy to be Gunga Din, water girl and "crew" for these 5K races, juggling H2O, race equipment, and temper tantrums for the physically hot and overwrought.

But, yesterday, it was not to be.

Yesterday, for the first (and hopefully last) time, I pinned on a bib (I know -- not that kind of bib; it was a number!), crouched into a starting position worthy FloJo, and when the starter yelled, "GO!" I took off, buoyed along on a joyous tide of runners, all smiling and anticipating the thrill and exhilaration they'd feel when they returned to cross the finish line.

The winner finished her race in a blistering 18 minutes, 45 seconds.

Wanna know what happened when I finished the race?

Dead last?

Well, let's just say that I was so far behind that my husband and eldest son actually went back out to find me.  When we approached the finish line, the crowd of race runners already were bunched in a group there.  With their backs to me.  As they posed for a post-race photo.


Now, I should mention at this point that I ran the race (...okay, walked most of it...) not entirely alone.  Remember how this was supposed to be for the whole family?  Well, of our six children, I had our four year old with me.  He had taken off like an arrow, but had pooped out early and now was riding somnolent in his stroller, which I (thank God!) had thought to bring along literally at the last minute.

And do you know what that lil' stinker did?

Just before we rounded the last turn approaching the finish line, realizing where he was, he sprang up and frantically clambered out of the stroller, so he could RUN up the last stretch of the race to receive the adulation and cheers of his adoring fans.

(Picture the Philadelphia Museum of Art steps and cue the "Rocky" music.)


You know.  Learning experiences usually are either painful or expensive.  At least this one was cheap.

What did I learn?

CARPE DIEM - For one thing, I learned that my four-year-old is a whole lot smarter than I am.  Fully aware we had been riding drag the entire race, he nevertheless squeezed what exhilaration he could from it by crossing the finish line running hard with a dazzling grin.  Seize the moment!  Seize the day!  Would that we all would so easily cast off our self-consciousness and rejoice in what we can do in such grand, happy, infectious style!

LOVE IS A CHOICE - My husband is a prince.  Hands down, he's finders keepers.  He turned his white horse around and rode back out to find and rescue me, giving me generous kudos and pointers as I grumbled along while we finished my race together.  Love is a choice.  Marriage is a partnership.  And my Leonidas staunchly was not leaving without me.  Awesome!
YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER.... - But, running still is just not my thing.  Really.  Like, so not.  I knew it before.  I know it even more now.  I have great respect for those for whom running is invigorating and inspiring.  And if there had been a horse for me to lead to water and run in this race, then I'd be writing a different story.  But, we all have our roles.  Know thyself.  I am a groundling and I know I don't like running.  At all.  I took one for the Team.  Now, could I please just have my water bucket back?  Now?  Please?

HUMILITY - There is nothing more humbling than being last.  It somehow resurrected all the miserable feelings of playground team selections in my youth (Last.  Again. *sigh*).  Every other person out there yesterday ran harder, faster, stronger than I did -- even all my kids!  (Two of them took off like greased lightning and never looked back!  Woo-hoo!)  But, I finished so poorly it was assumed no one could possibly still be out there straggling along.  I'll never forget that mental image of a crowd of people at the finish line with their backs unwittingly turned toward me.  It's a useful image.  It's good for the soul to be vividly reminded once in a while that everyone else's life does not, in fact, revolve around yours.

God calls us to know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in the next.

If nothing else this weekend, I learned that it's helpful to know thyself, to love (for better or for worse) those whom God has placed in our lives, and to serve others, especially past the point of personal sacrifice.

"Give until it hurts," Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said.

Boy, she wasn't kidding.  Now, somebody please hand me the ibuprofen.

October 4, 2015

Respect Life Sunday

“Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy.  Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4)

"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.  Before you were born, I dedicated you..." (Jeremiah 1:5)

September 29, 2015

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Today, I would like to highlight the lives of two very remarkable people: Therese Lipscombe and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.

Therese is a senior in high school who suffers from cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits the ability to breathe. Thick mucus builds up in her organs, especially her lungs, preventing the release of digestive enzymes and clogging airways and trapping bacteria, leading to infections, extensive lung damage, and eventually, respiratory failure.

Basically, Therese can breathe right now about as much as you or I could through a straw.  Really.  Go on.  Try it.  It's not fun.

Walking from one room to another or eating a small meal causes Therese to be out of breathe and panting, as if she'd just run a 5K race in 20 minutes.

But, Therese keeps going.  She is joyful and outgoing, with a heart for service to others.  She is one of my favorite people and adopted niece!

I've never met a person who is more positive, more upbeat, more enthusiastic about LIFE in general than Therese!

Which is why I also want you to meet Blessed Pier Giorgia Frassati.

On 6 April 1901, Pier Giorgio was born in Turin, Italy into a prominent family, which owned the noted liberal newspaper La Stampa.  Though an average student, Pier Giorgio was known among his peers for his devotion and piety, works of service, and charity. He was active with Catholic youth groups and was a Third Order Dominican. He established the newspaper Momento based on Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Rerum Novarum, and joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society in 1918, spending much of his time helping the poor.

He also vigorously enjoyed outdoor pursuits like rock climbing, skiing, and horseback riding.

His friends described him as “an explosion of joy!”

Frassati died in 1925 of poliomyelitis. His family naturally expected Turin's elite and Pier Giorgio’s friends to attend the funeral.  However, they were shocked to find the streets filled with thousands of mourners, many of whom he had helped directly during his brief life. 

The poor of the city petitioned the Archbishop of Turin to begin the cause for Frassati's canonization. The process was opened in 1932 and on 20 May 1990 St. Pope John Paul II beatified him.

After this, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati's body was moved from the family crypt in the Pollone Cemetery in Turin and re-interred in the Turin Cathedral, at which time his body was found to be incorrupt.  His body remains there for veneration by the faithful today!

Joyful, outgoing, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, with a heart for service to others, needs only one miracle to become a saint.  Only one.

Just.  One.  Miracle.

Joyful, outgoing, Therese Lipscombe, with a heart for service to others, needs only one miracle to be healed.

Just.  One.  Miracle.

We believe that, if it is God's Will, Therese can be Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati's .... miracle!

Specifically, right now, as her condition is dramatically worse, please pray for Therese's miraculous healing, through the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati!  And spread the word to others to beseech their prayers, too!

"O merciful God,
Who through the perils of the world
deigned to preserve by Your grace

Your servant, Pier Giorgio Frassati,
pure of heart and ardent of charity,
listen, we ask You, to our prayers and,
if it is in Your designs that he be
glorified by the Church, show us Your will,
granting us the graces we ask of You,
through his intercession,
by the merits of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

+Maurillo, Archbishop of Turin

(sources:  Catholic Online and


September 28, 2015

Seton - 6th Grade Material

Here's a chart I made to track the graded material that was due for Seton this past year when one of my children was in sixth grade.  I made it blank so anyone can use it.

The "P" in a circle denotes that the item is parent-graded.

The column headers denote spaces in which to put a check mark for completion (the check mark), that the item has been uploaded to Seton's website (the little computer), and what grade finally was received (A+).

Hope it makes someone's else life a little more organized and easier this school year!

(, I just have to go design charts for this year for all my kids.  Oy!)  :-)

September 25, 2015

Coloring Pages!

Ooooo!  What a find!  And just in time for the beginning of the school year!

Too often, I grumble about religious coloring pages that are of poor quality or don't enlarge well to a standard page size.  But today, here are two mah-velous links for you, dahling, of Catholic and Biblical coloring pages!  As you visit each site, scroll down for even more choices!

Waltzing Matilda

Wow!  What a visual treasure trove for your little ones!  If you have any coloring page sites to recommend, please share them in the comments.  Thank you so much!

September 22, 2015

Meet Candy Carson

A dear friend recently sent me a copy of this article about Dr. Ben Carson's wife, Candy Carson.  I hadn't heard anything about Mrs. Carson in the media, and came away thinking what a positive, refreshing, and inspiring individual she is!

However, I recognized her immediately.  Through their work, both professionally and charitably, my parents made sure when we were growing up that their children were surrounded by women like Candy Carson.  Such so-called, "old-fashioned values," were what made our country great and gave Americans a steady, consistent moral compass.  In the recent words of Patrice Lewis at World Net Daily*, "[Men]
make the living, then return home to the person who is making the living worthwhile."

As Mrs. Carson shows, many women, in addition to raising their families, also accomplish great things outside the home.  But, as she also clearly understands, the wife or mother is the heart of the home.  And America is the greatest nation on Earth for women to have the choice and resources to achieve their greatest potential, either at home or in any other area they so desire.

I firmly believe gratitude is the mother of many other virtues.  Candy Carson is grateful for the many ways in which God has blessed her life.  What a privilege it would be to have a woman of such graciousness, a man of such integrity, and a couple of such strong faith in the White House!

God Bless America, indeed!

P.S. - Bonus articles!  Here are a few other (brief!) gold nugget articles to introduce you to the person Dr. Ben Carson is, the person the media seldom will fully convey:

1).  Pediatric Neurosurgeon - Water on the Brain Surgery

2).  Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

3).  Quick Facts About Ben Carson
4).   Ben Carson's Official Website

September 19, 2015

On Mary

I've always marveled at why the Blessed Mother even gives us the time of day.  I mean, really.  We crucified her Son.  Would YOU be interested in befriending someone who did that to YOUR only child?

If you have children, then you understand the ultimate protective feelings engendered if anyone so much as threatens to look cross-eyed at one of your offspring.  And yet, despite what we have done to Jesus -- Mary's only Son -- in sending Him to the cross for crucifixion, Our Lady STILL nevertheless mercifully reaches out to us in our sinfulness, accepts us as her own, encourages us, and always points us toward Him, her only Son.


Is there any better example of selfless obedience, humility, and service to God?

Our Faith teaches us that we were made to know, love, and serve God in this world and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

Mary teaches us HOW to know, love, and serve God in this world, so we may be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

Is there any greater gift of hope to the human race than the ongoing loving example of the Mother of God?