Homeschooling Win!

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned to y’all that I plan to homeschool Lorelei next year.  She’s going to be in fourth grade, and I’ve done that before, so I already have a lot of resources, and I’ve slowly been gathering others over the last several months.

There was one place I was stuck, though, and it’s kind of an important place!  I couldn’t find a religion book that I liked.

The religion book I used for Jake and Teddy was actually my own religion book from way back in 1976-1977. (Yes, I saved those kinds of things and I’m glad!) While it’s true that catechesis in the 1970s was a mess, this book was pretty good.  St. Joseph’s School switched to a new program the following year–I still have that book–and it was dreadful, practically content-free.  But this one covered all the basic fourth grade stuff–Commandments, Beatitudes, Works of Mercy, and more–that is still being taught in fourth grade today.

And because I was using it for William in 2011, and it was in his backpack in the living room of what we now call “the burned down house,” it’s gone forever.

But you can find anything on the internet, right?  But I couldn’t remember the name of this book.  I knew what it looked like, and roughly when it was published, and what grade it was for, that’s all.  And no book that looked like that EVER appeared, not once, in many, many months of off-and-on searching.  I even asked the school if they had a record of what book we used back then–no dice.  I conducted research on Catholic publishing companies and looked up every book that was published around that time. My head swam with publishing companies (Sadlier, Benziger, Loyola) and their various programs.  Nope.  I spent hours on this, y’all.  I really had my heart set on that book.

Surely, you ask, there are plenty of other fourth grade Catholic religion textbooks out there?  Why, yes, yes, there are.  But I didn’t want to risk an old one that I hadn’t seen before because, as I mention above, many of the ones that were around back then were just bad.  And I don’t like the modern ones I’ve seen which are too jam-packed with information and fill-in-the-blank pages.  (Honestly, I just don’t like modern textbooks.)  What I liked about this one is that it was very simple with short chapters that I could then expand on.

I finally found one that seemed similar in content (by looking at a screenshot of the Table of Contents) to the one I remembered.  I thought I could maybe try to make do.  But when I went to order it on Amazon it was about $25–kind of a lot to spend for an unknown.  I searched for it again and found some really cheap copies put up by someone who did not even bother to include a picture of the cover.  So that’s what I ordered.

Have you figured out the punchline yet?  We came home from a short vacation yesterday and my package was waiting for me.  As I tore open the bag I saw not the book I was expecting but the ONE I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR.  Apparently, it was just a different edition of the one I thought I was ordering.  Some of the material has been rearranged, and of course it has a different cover.  And to sweeten the pot, it’s not written in (which of course mine was) AND it’s a teacher edition with all kinds of other good stuff at the end.

religion book

So that’s a propitious omen for my return to homeschooling.  I look forward to sharing my other adventures with you this year!

For more of my writings on homeschooling, see below:

Old-Fashioned Homeschooling

Homeschooling for Dummies

Are you ready for another installment of Answer Me This, hosted by Kendra at Catholic All Year?


1. What’s something you’ve won and how did you win it?

Oh, gosh, y’all, I have won so many things.  I’m kind of lucky like that it you believe in that sort of thing. When I was a kid they were having a giveaway for a lamp at, I think, the drugstore in our neighborhood shopping center.  This was the kind of drugstore you really don’t have any more, that sold a little bit of everything, and had its own charge account system, and delivered medicine, and had a soda fountain in the back,  Anyway I remember I wrote my name all different ways and put it in the drawing.  I didn’t even put my address but when they drew my name they knew who I was because that was the kind of place this was.  Anyway, it was a pretty ugly lamp.  I’m not sure where it;s gotten to but it was in the family living room for years.

2. Do you save old greeting cards and letters, or throw them all away? Why?

I used to save every letter I ever received.  Boxes and boxes of letters I had from college.  Then they all burned up,  This was a crushing blow.  Now I really don’t have the heart to save things like I used to.  Maybe I learned something, or maybe I’m just afraid of having things that can be lost.  Anyway, I only save cards from my husband and children, unless someone writes something really special on one, then I might save it,

3. When you’re at home, do you wear shoes, socks, slippers, or go barefoot?

I used to always go barefooted, because I grew up in a house with wall to wall carpet, and we pretty much went barefooted indoors and out as soon as my mother said it was warm enough because this is the South, y’all.  My husband is from Baltimore and doesn’t understand this hillbilly habit (his word) and is always fussing at our kids to put on shoes.  All of our houses except this one have had hardwood floors, and I got tired of wiping grit off my feet all the time and started wearing shoes or slippers all the time.  Now that we have wall to wall carpet, I tend to go barefooted again, unless I have shoes on when I come home that would be a pain to remove.  I keep a pair of shoes by the front door for quick trips outside when it’s too cold for bare feet, or if I want to drive somewhere and don’t feel like looking for my shoes.

4. Who’s the most famous person you have ever met?

I’ve been in the Rose Garden with Jimmy Carter, and in Gaston Hall with President Clinton, but did not actually get to meet them.  I have, however, had my picture taken with Barry Williams (that’s Greg Brady to the rest of you).  When I was thirteen my we were at a motel in Chattanooga where for some reason that will be forever unknown to me there was some sort of B-list celebrity conventions.  We also got to meet Ron Masak and Trini Lopez (I still don’t know who they are really but my parents said they were famous) and Pat Boone (who was the least friendly).

5. What has been your best work of art?

My children, of course. :-)  I did draw a lot as a child–like all the time, in the margins of my workbooks at school!  I loved drawing horses and ladies in old-fashioned dresses.  I had a sketchbook in high school where I used to draw (from pictures) sketches of my friends and illustrations for a book I wrote.  Those were probably my best technical work.  I don’t know why but I lost interest in drawing after high school.

6. What’s your strongest sense?

That’s a difficult question but I am going to go with touch.  I can feel remember the way things feel in my head more strongly than I can remember smells or taste.  When I do this it’s almost like I am really feeling them again.  Maybe this is no big deal and everyone can do that?

That’s it, friends.  If you want to read more entries in this linkup, or join in the fun yourself, please go here.

It’s Wednesday so that means it’s time for What We’re Reading Wednesday with Housewifespice.

what we're reading

Do you indulge in “guilty pleasure” reading?  I know I do.  Sometimes I wonder why we call it that–I mean, are there really rules about what we should be reading?  SHOULD there be rules about this?  Isn’t reading ANYTHING better than not reading at all?

Yet, I do feel at least sheepish, or maybe just inferior, when I see what books other folks post on their online book lists.  They are reading history, biography, theology, or other books that aim to educate or improve.  Now, I HAVE books like that.  Y’all have seen a picture of my stack (and I can use an old picture because the size of the stack does not get any smaller.  Ever.), and it’s chock full of great literature and all that other stuff:


But nine times out of ten I don’t gravitate for the good stuff.  I’m eating really healthy these days, y’all, but when it comes to reading I go straight for the candy.  So here’s what I’ve been reading this week.


I found this at McKay’s recently and I was so happy.  If you’ve heard of Lois Duncan, a most prolific author of young adult fiction from my youth, you are probably most familiar with I Know What You Did Last Summer, which might have been the first of the many books that followed after about teenagers ruining other people’s lives by making foolish choices and then suffering terribly while trying to keep the guilty secret.   A Gift of Magic is more innocent.  I’m pretty sure I ran across it when I was in the 3rd grade.  We had a lot of books in the classroom that year, and since I was always done with my work early, I read a lot of them.  This was one of my favorites and I read it over and over again.  I love reading books over and over.  I know I should be checking new books off my list instead, but there it is.

OK, y’all, promise not to laugh.  I’m not even putting a specific book up here, because to tell you the truth, I’ve already forgotten the one I read a couple of days ago and I will probably forget the one I am reading now shortly after I finish it.  Almost without exception, these go straight to McKay’s as soon as I finish them.  But I still enjoy reading them (and they are usually free, obtained from my mother-in-law or as free samples).  What they are is Christian romance novels.  Some of them are a little too preachy, and all of them are formulaic, but they are feel-good happy-ending easy reads when I want something to read in the tub and that I can put down without a qualm in order to get back to what I’m doing.  They lack the love scenes that frankly started boring me a long time ago.  I wish that there were some Catholics in them, but my absolute favorites are the ones about the Amish.  Despite my love of my computer and my iPhone there is something about the simplicity of the Amish lifestyle and about the people themselves that draws me.

See, y’all, I’m not hopeless.  I’m reading this one too.  And it’s interesting.  But a lot harder work.  I’ve been reading it for awhile and I’ll tell you more about it when I finish.

What are YOU reading?  Dollars to doughnuts it will be more interesting than what I’ve shared!  So tell me in the comments.  And for more books, check out the linkup above.

It’s Tuesday and that means it’s time for Five Favorites, hosted by Mama Knows, Honeychild.

five favorites

Today, I’m going to share five favorite quotations.  Not necessarily my five most favorite, mind you, because I’m not sure if I even know.  But just five that have stayed with me and are meaningful to me.

1.  Faith is constant assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.

Sunrise in our neighborhood

St. Paul wrote this in his letter to the Hebrews.  I’m not sure which translation this is, but it’s the version that is stuck in my head and I guess I was lying up above because if you asked me my favorite quotation ever, this is what I’d say.


2.  Cast your cares on God:  that anchor holds.

Immaculate Conception Church, Knoxville

This is from Enoch Arden by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and I have chanted it like a mantra or really a prayer in dark times.


3.  Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and discover that they were the big things.

William at Tybee Island

Robert Brault said this, but I’m pretty sure I found it in the “Quotable Quotes” section of Reader’s Digest about 25 years ago.  I used to have a quotation gallery inside my kitchen cabinets, and this is one of the ones that I taped there.


4.  Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things.

Lorelei wading at Melton Hill Lake

This quotation by Frank Clark also came to me from Reader’s Digest, and along with the one above formed what I thought of as a life philosophy at that time–a philosophy that I really feel like I need to reclaim.


5.  Each of us in the result of a thought of God.  Each of us is willed.  Each of us is loved.  Each of us is necessary.

john and baby william

I love this quotation from Pope Benedict XVI so much that I used it in creating Lorelei’s birth announcement.


I would love if you would share your favorite quotation with me in the comments!  And for more fun favorites, please visit the linkup.

It’s time again for Answer Me This, the brainchild of Kendra at Catholic All Year.


1. How did you get your name?

I am named for my mother’s sister, Mary Leslie.  There’s a street here in Knoxville called Leslie Avenue, and I believe that was what gave my grandmother the idea for the name.  I don’t like my name and never have.

2. Do you have a set time for prayer in your day?

When I tell people (usually via Facebook) that I will pray for them, I try to do it right away so I won’t forget.  Other than that, I pray before bed.  And of course I send up random prayers throughout the day.  But I wish I had a more disciplined prayer life.

3. Did your mom work or stay home (or both)?

My mother was in school off and on when I was little, and occasionally she worked part-time.  But my primary experience was that of having a mother who was always at home and always available.

4. Do you vote?

Absolutely.  I have missed the occasional local election for one (bad) reason or another. But I haven’t missed in years.  I’ve also always made it a point to take the kids with me over the years to impress upon them the importance of this responsibility.

5. What’s your favorite drink?

Coffee.  Then Mountain Dew.  But these days I am mostly drinking water because carbs.

6. How are your photography skills?

The only photographs I take are with my iPhone.  With the help of Instagram and Picasa, I am very satisfied with the results.  I’m sure people who use actual cameras would disagree, though.  A few of my favorite pictures are below:

William at 13

Flower and Bee

Jake with Easter Baskets

Lorelei at Target

Picture of IC that looks like a painting

Spider and shadow

Storm over Knoxville

That’s all for this week!  Please check out the other posts in this linkup at Catholic All Year!


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This cemetery post is a little different, because it’s not a Knoxville cemetery we are talking about.  Teddy’s friends thought he was kidding when he told them that my favorite site on the tour he gave me when I visited him at school was the graveyard at the gates, but you know me well enough by now to understand.

It was the first time I’d visited and out-of-town cemetery since I started writing about them, and I noticed things that probably seem obvious when you think about it, except I never thought about it before.

What struck me first was the names.  Walking through a graveyard in Knoxville is like looking through the phone book.  The names are familiar.  Our schools and roads are named after the folks in our graveyards.  We go to school with their descendants.  We KNOW those people, in a sense.

It’s not the same when you are in another state.  I saw many names I had never even heard of before, names that left us chuckling sometimes because they were long ethnic names that we couldn’t begin to pronounce.

It makes sense, if you think about it.  People came to this country, settled down somewhere, started families, and eventually had descendants bearing their name.  At the moment, there are no Shollys in any graveyard in Knoxville.  (Pennsylvania is full of them.) A couple of hundred years from now, who knows?

Another difference is a matter of topography–it’s FLAT up there.  Our small graveyards are sometimes flat, but a big one like this one would having a few rolling hills!

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Notice, too, that the stones are closer together than what you’ve seen in the pictures I usually post here, and that there seems to be more variation in the shape and style of the stones.

For example:

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That’s another difference, too–the naming of children and grandchildren–who are NOT buried there, lest you misunderstand–on a married couple’s stone.  I found that odd but endearing:  it shows what these people are most proud of and what they want to be remembered for.

One thing that wasn’t different:  There are always the babies. :-(

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And more than the usual array of unusual, moving, and interesting epitaphs.

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I do not know who he was, or why he wanted it on his tombstone, but that last is a quotation from the first line of Beowulf, written in Old English.

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This is an entire letter that the young man buried here wrote to his mother on the occasion of his grandmothers death.

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I love this quotation.


There are some mausoleums here as well, added recently.

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An those ethnic Catholic folk weren’t the first people in these parts:

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So we are walking along, and I’m lecturing Teddy about all the stuff I’ve written up above about the unfamiliar names and stuff, when I spotted this:

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There’s a sad story behind this one, which I just learned today as I did my research for this post.

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Meghan was a Notre Dame swimmer, a freshman, who died when the team bus overturned during a snowstorm, only a couple of miles away from the school.  I wanted to be able to find a relationship between us, and spent a couple of hours falling down one of those rabbit holes that are surely familiar to any of you who do genealogical research.  It was interesting for sure, but if my guess (and it’s definitely a guess) is correct, her family is descended from Christopher Beeler, not Ulrich, so if we are related at all the connection is back in Germany over 400 years ago.

Still, it was a reminder of the surprises in every cemetery, and the stories behind every stone.

Y’all, I really need a little help here.  I participated in an education focus group earlier this week, and I’ve been asked to get some input from YOU on the follow-up questions I’m going to post below.  I know I have a lot of silent readers here (HELLO!), but this time I really need you to speak up and answer these two questions in the comments.  Okay?

Here goes:

What does it take (or what WOULD it take) to motivate you to take action on an educational issue?  This can be on a local, state, or national level.

Have you ever worked together with the larger school community, including educators and other parents, to creat change in your school and/or school district?  If so, would you share a bit about the effort and impact?

Y’all, please don’t make me look bad. :-)  They are actually PAYING me for this and I don’t want to come up empty.  Thanks!


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