Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Very Special Baby Story

Were you like me, a bit obsessed with the show "A Baby Story" on TLC while you were pregnant? I watched two episodes daily for the last 3 months of my latest pregnancy and got a little sick of hearing about:
perfect designer nurseries, complete with hand-painted murals,
the trauma the only other sibling was going through as he learned to share his bathroom with the baby,
the trauma the family dog was going through,
special trips to foot masseurs (isn't this what husbands are for?)
blow-up jacuzzis to deliver in, while burning incense and watching the Pacific Ocean,
Pre-natal yoga classes,
and fake ceremonies to welcome baby for those who wouldn't set foot inside an actual church for say, a Baptism.
It got a bit better when they started doing shows from Pennysyvania, and actually featured a Bris and an Orthodox Baptism, but I have better taste now, and don't watch that show anymore.
I like this kind of Baby Story, the kind with God at the center. Like the story of Jesus and Aurora Rojas's baby Isabel, featured on the Be Not Afraid Forum.

A Bright New Blog on the Horizon

Written by a married couple, who are raising their family in lovely upstate New York,The New Springtime is a promising new blog which you should visit to have a refreshingly Catholic read.We have many blogger friends in common, from the links in their sidebar, and I am especially fascinated by the rare joint blog with husband and wife.

Feast of the Visitation: Happy Feast Day, Isabella

My six children are named for the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. I am blessed with three lovely girls here on earth, and I look forward to meeting my three sons in Heaven. Kimberly Hahn in Rome Sweet Home wrote that because of the Communion of Saints, we can speak directly to our miscarried children in a special way during Holy Mass. (It was a great comfort to read this, since there are so few resources for mothers who miscarry. )
The names of my girls are:
Gabriela Maria: The Annunciation(named for the Archangel Gabriel and Our Lady)
Isabella Maria: The Vistation (in case you didn't know, Isabella is the Italian/Spanish version of Elizabeth)
Christina Maria: The Nativity (named for Christ and His mother)
I discovered the lovely Spanish custom of naming all one's children after the Blessed Mother, and couldn't find a better middle name. My entire name is Leticia Ann Marie Crafa Velasquez.

My children whom I lost in miscarriage are: (I don't know for sure if they're boys, but I felt they deserved names, and I ask them to pray for their family when I'm at Mass)
Patrick Simeon (left this world on St. Patrick's Day, named for Simeon of the Presentation in the Temple)
Theodore Joseph (left this world on my Grandfather Theodore's birthday, and named for St. Joseph, who searched for his foster son for three days till The Finding of the Boy Jesus in the Temple)
Juan Francisco(left this world on Good Friday, named after Francisco, his daddy, and St. John the Evangelist who accompanied Our Lord to the Garden AND to the Cross)
Sometimes, when I feel bereft to only have three children, compared to the many blessings my friends have, I remember that I will always be the mother of six. That sounds better!

In honor of the Blessed Mother's Visitation, let's pray her Canticle of Praise, the

My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Scripture text: Revised Standard Version - Catholic Edition

Magníficat ánima mea Dóminum,et exsultávit spíritus meusin Deo salvatóre meo,
quia respéxit humilitátemancíllæ suæ.
Ecce enim ex hoc beátamme dicent omnes generatiónes,
quia fecit mihi magna,qui potens est,et sanctum nomen eius,et misericórdia eius in progénieset progénies timéntibus eum.
Fecit poténtiam in bráchio suo,dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui;depósuit poténtes de sedeet exaltávit húmiles.Esuriéntes implévit boniset dívites dimísit inánes.
Suscépit Ísrael púerum suum,recordátus misericórdiæ,sicut locútus est ad patres nostros,Ábraham et sémini eius in sæcula.
Glória Patri et Fílioet Spirítui Sancto.
Sicut erat in princípio,et nunc et semper,et in sæcula sæculórum.

Sign the Petition to Educate Expectant Parents about Down Syndrome

Noelle of Jaden's Journal, asks us to sign this petition to urge action on the bill to educate parents about the true nature of Down syndrome and the reality of life with Downs. For some reason, there are forces in our Congress who oppose this, but we can unite to overcome them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

10 Favorite Things about Spring Meme

Christina at Homespun Juggling has this meme on her blog.
Ten things I love about Spring
1. Hearing birdsong in the mornings
2. Longer days.
3. Flowers everywhere.
4. The cats leave the house for outside.
5. The warm sunshine.
6. Lots of parties; Mother's Day, Father's Day, First Holy Communions, weddings, etc.
7. Bird nests to find.
8. Ducklings trailing behind Mommy ducks on the pond.
and Isabella adds
9. My birthday is in spring!
10.We get to plant the garden.

Ten Things I don't Love about Spring
1. MUD
2. spring fever in homeschooled kids who can't stay inside.
3. you have to weed the garden
4. you feel guilty that you haven't weeded the garden
5. ants in the house
6. hayfever
7. bees making a hive in my girl's dollhouse
8. spring cleaning needs to be done
9. dogs get spring fever and escape from the backyard to get loaded with mud do kids

Catholic Analysis: Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta Praises Home Schoolers

Catholic Analysis: Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta Praises Home Schoolers

Jaden's Journal author has a mission to lower the abortion rate of Down syndrome children

Click here to read her powerful letter to Senator Kennedy who had introduced a bill( # 609) in the last session of Congress to inform parents expecting a child with Down syndrome of the truth of their child's future, from experts in the field of Down sydrome, and parents who are raising a child with Down syndrome, instead of terrifying them with grim statisics, outdated scenarios of life with the condition, and an overriding expectation that they will abort their child. The bill is not currently active in Congress, as it needs to be re-introduced.

See this article by Jonathan Finer of the Washington Post, who wrote "We felt hopeless and incredibly scared," Allard, 42, said in an interview. "We didn't know what this was or what to do. They told us we had a few weeks to decide whether to keep the baby."

Such negative depictions of Down syndrome by health professionals who do prenatal screening are common, according to a Harvard survey of nearly 3,000 parents of children with the condition, published last month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. A majority reported that the obstetricians who gave them the diagnosis had focused on the hardships ahead and ignored "the positive potential of people with Down syndrome."

The abortion rate of Down sydrome children is currently 90% and this is a tragedy! Senator Brownback mentioned this at the Blogs for Life Conference and at the March for Life in January. I discussed his earlier efforts to pass this bill in 2005, which some members of Congress buried in committee, and encouraged him to keep trying for the sake of my little Christina, who will grow up without the pleasure of similar friends.

Thank you for your past support of this legislation, Senators Kennedy and Brownback. We are asking you to please re-introduce this bill in this session of Congress.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Oprah's influence on women

Dom at Bettnet has a post about a married woman with two children who appeared on Oprah, after giving up her third child for adoption. Considering her struggle to become pregant with this child, overcoming secondary infertility, and the fact that she and her husband stormed heaven for this child, one might wonder why she would give this long-awaited child up for adoption.

The mother stated that the reason is, "because I can't love her". The baby has Down Syndrome, you see. She needs to read my article in Faith and Family, to speak with mothers of these children, to read Monica's website, Be Not Afraid, and to read Gifts. She, and thousands like her, need our prayers so that next time God calls them to grow, they say "yes".

We need to change the Oprah culture.

Look, Mom, I can do it myself!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Proud 2B Catholic Fest

I have just attended a Proud 2B Catholic Conference where religious vocations were strongly emphasized in this manner:
1. showing the 20 minute priest film "Fishers of Men" available from Grassroots Film on their website the kids wanted to see it twice, it is amazing
2. Had lots of dynamic young religious from great new orders(Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Sisters of Life, etc) present to speak with the kids.
3. Adoration throughout the conference, and Holy Hour at the end, after a reverent Holy Mass.
4. Traditional vocations talks, featuring the abovementioned religious, and a great deacon to be ordained this week.
I think Proud 2B Catholic is great news for vocations.

Solemnity of Pentecost

Next to Easter Sunday, this is the most important feast of the Church as it commemorates the birth of the Church in the upper room, or cenacle. If one sings the Veni Creator Spritus on Pentecost, a plenary indulgence is granted IF, besides singing the hymn:
1. sacramental confession is received close to this day
2. Holy Communion is received today
3. Prayers such as the Our Father and Hail Mary are offered for the Holy Father

(this is the musical accompaniment that will help you sing the hymn in Latin)

1Veni Creátor Spíritus,Méntes tuórum vísita:
Imple supérna grátia,Quæ tu creásti péctora.
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator come,
From Thy bright heavenly throne!
Come, take posession of our souls,
And make them all Thine own!
2Qui díceris Paráclitus,Altíssimi dónum Déi,
Fons vivus, ignis, cáritas,Et spiritális únctio.
Thou who art called the Paraclete,Best Gift of God above,
The Living Spring, the Living Fire,Sweet Unction, and True Love!
3Tu septifórmis múnere,Dígitus Patérnæ déxteræ,
Tu rite promíssum Pátris,Sermóne ditans gúttura.
Thou who art seven-fold in Thy grace,Finger of God's right Hand,
His promise, teaching little onesTo speak and understand!
4Accénde lúmen sénsibus,Infúnde amórem córdibus,
Infírma nóstri córporisVirtúte fírmans pérpeti.
O guide our minds with Thy blest light,With love our hearts inflame,
And with Thy strength which ne'er decaysConfirm our mortal frame.
5Hóstem repéllas lóngius,Pacémque dónes prótinus:
Ductóre sic te prævio,Vitémus ómne nóxium.
Far from us drive our hellish foe,True peace unto us bring,
And through all perils guide us safeBeneath Thy sacred wing.
6Per te sciámus da Pátrem,Noscámus atque Fílium,
Téque utriúsque SpíritumCredámus ómni témpore.
Through Thee may we the Father know,Through Thee the Eternal Son,
And Thee the Spirit of them BothThrice-blessed Three in One.
7Déo Pátri sit glória,Et Fílio, qui a mórtuisSurréxit,
ac Paráclito,In sæculórum sæcula.
All glory to the Father be,And to the risen Son;
The same to Thee,O Paraclete,While endless ages run.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why Homeschool: The US spent an average of $8,701 per student on elementary and secondary education in 2005

Why Homeschool: The US spent an average of $8,701 per student on elementary and secondary education in 2005
Dr. Bill Bennett, ex-Secretary of Education, conservative commentator, and radio host, and author of many educational books, including "The Well Educated Child" said the following at a Homeschool Conference I attended, "my wife works in the Washington DC public school system, where they spend around $ 10, 000 per student per year. The Catholic schools in Washington do a better job with one third the administrators, and half the money. You parents do an even better job with less than $1, 000.
While this is true, I'm going to have to address the salary issue with my principal!

The proud gardener

Isabella and her daddy spent the entire day planting the following:
red beans, lettuce, corn, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini.
I'm expecting a great harvest this fall.

Friday, May 25, 2007

What Blessed Mother Teresa can teach a suburban housewife

Theresa Thomas wrote this article on one of the best known and loved women in the world, and what a homeschooling mother of nine has learned from her. I have read every book I could get my hands on about her, and seen all of her films, as well as her tapes. Her talks are simple, yet profound and bear repeating. She has applied the 'little way' of St. Therese of Lisieux to the horrible twentieth century, for those of us who deal with the 'poorest of the poor' in our own homes. This is no small challenge in my domestic church, and I'm sure it is rough where you live as well. But we must do it.
She once said that the spiritual poverty of the USA was greater and caused more suffering than the unbelievable poverty in India. I spent a day in one of her convents in the Bronx, after receiving a typed letter from her, signed in her own hand, sending me there. (I am STILL praying to St. Anthony to find it, as now it's actually a relic). I had no sense of a vocation, I had simply offered my help for the summer in one of her houses in Guatemala, since I was learning Spanish at the time. No one says no to Mother Teresa, however.
Mother wrote, "you must help the poor in the Bronx, here is the number to my convent there. I will be looking for you when I come." I called the number on the letter, and the sister who answered seemed to be expecting my call. I made a date to visit the convent on a Saturday.

In the morning, as I parked up in the Fort Apache area of the Bronx, two policemen came to me, and said, "what's a nice girl like you doing here?!" I answered that I was going to the convent of the Missionaries of Charity, and they immediately understood.
I attended Mass kneeling on the carpeted floor of the simple chapel, adorned by a life-size crucifix under which were the words, "I thirst". Mother has this in all her chapels as a reminder to the sisters of Jesus' thirst for souls. The chapel was packed, yet silent after mass.
The sisters greeted me warmly, gave me a quick tour of the convent. They all sleep on simple cots in a single bedroom. I counted 40 beds. They share a single, mirrorless bathroom, it was true Evangelical poverty, and I was wordlessly impressed. The sisters then led me to the soup kitchen next door, where I met two other volunteers there, we shared breakfast, and began to chop a bushel of donated vegetables into the biggest soup pot I have ever seen. We were making vegetable soup for the poor's lunch. Three hours later, we were still chopping, and the sisters who had been washing windows while praying the rosary, told me they were going to a wedding of one of their volunteers, and that we were invited as well to help with the elderly.
A young doctor who had been volunteering with them for years, now rented two tour buses to transport the poorest of the poor from the South Bronx, to his wedding. Another example of the Gospel. "Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests."
I was to drive the sisters, two by two, to the projects to collect little old ladies, shut-ins, for a big party. As they left my car to bring the ladies, they prayed over me for my safety. I could see dangerous types prowling around these buildings, yet when they saw the sisters, they broke into wide grins, and waved. A thief had thrown a stolen wallet, sans cash, over the fence into the garden of the contemplative sisters, knowing the photos, license and credit cards would be returned. Even hardened criminals know love when they see it.
The ladies excitedly discussed the wedding in my car, none of them, as Baptists had ever been in a Catholic Church, and they were very curious. As we helped them walk to the buses, a tiny Indian sister walked into six busy lanes of Bronx traffic, and help up her hand so they could cross. Traffic stopped instantly. THIS is the power of love!
This memory has stayed with me this clearly for 16 years. Although I didn't have this vocation, I will always remember the joy of those sisters, many of whom I had seen on the Petrie sister's documentary video, Mother Teresa. Although it was a chill 20 degrees, and the sisters were wearing sandals, cotton saris, and cardigans, they joy was warm and infectious. I felt at home, and well-loved. Here is there secret: Mother had sent me a little yellow card with her letter saying,
"The fruit of silence is prayer,
the fruit of prayer is service,
the fruit of service is love,
the fruit of love is peace"
Mother Teresa

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

First Holy Communions

In May, there are children celebrating their First Holy Communion all around us. During a recent trip to Manhattan, we visted the church, St. Agnes where Gabriela Maria received First Holy Communion in a Tridentine High Mass six years ago. It was heavenly. Here she is in the same pew.
This is the church of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Christian Writer's Carnival

There's a Christian writer's carnival on Writer Interrupted, go see what those moms get to say in between interruptions.

Marian Meme

I tagged myself for the Marian Meme, at Margaret Mary's invitation, as I just couldn't resist the chance to share my devotions to Our Lady.
Favorite Marian Image
As difficult as this choice can be, with so many lovely images out there, I'd have to settle on Our Lady of Guadalupe, since this is the image she is is alleged to have 'drawn' herself, with the roses in St. Juan Diego's tilma. The investigations of the symbolism in this image just go on and on, and discover more catechism in this image. Has anyone heard of the alleged miraculous light that is said to have emanated from this image lately?
Favorite Marian Feast I enjoy the Feast of the Annunciation because it is close to my youngest child Christina's birthday, and I can share in the motherhood of Our Lady. The most beautiful celebration of this feast I ever experienced, was when I attended the incardination of the Sisters of Life by Cardinal Egan in St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Favorite Marian Hymn All my life it was either the Schubert or Bach-Gounod "Ave Maria", however since my girls and I have begun singing this version of the Salve Regina(click to listen to the MIDI) at the end of our daily rosary, I have decided that it is my favorite. Have you ever heard a church full of priests sing it? It sends chills down your spine, they seem to be so close to her Immaculate Heart.
Favorite Marian Pilgrimage Site I have only been to one Church-approved site, and that is Knock in Ireland. My grandmother had been healed of sciatica there, a few years earlier, and I wanted to say 'thank you' to our Lady. When I entered the tiny glass-encased chapel of the apparition site, I felt so very close to Our Lady, and Our Lord. It is a very special place.

I love singer Dana's hymn,

Lady of Knock

Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland,

All my cares and troubles cease,

As I kneel with love before you,

Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace.

Favorite Devotion to Our Lady I would have to say the Rosary, which we have included in our daily prayers, because of Our Lady's request at Fatima. I have found the Rosary to be an invaluable companion when the pain is so great that there are no other words but these, and it always brings me into contemplation of the sacred mysteries, no matter how distracted I am when I begin. I tag anyone who feels called to share about their favorite Marian devotions.

Loveliness of Marian Devotion Fair

If you're looking for creativity in celebrating the month of Mary with your children, go and visit the loveliness of Marian Devotion carnival, at Castle of the Immaculate. Tea parties and May crownings, lapbooks and bouquets are just some of the activities going on at the carnival.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why I am leaving my Obstetrician

Dear Dr. X,

I am hereby authorizing the transfer of all my medical records to:

Dr Robert Scanlon
OB-GYN Dept.
This is done on principle, as Huntington is farther from my home than your office.
I am a Catholic and as such do not practice contraception or abortion. Dr Scanlon’s practice is in accord with my religious beliefs, as he does not prescribe contraception nor refer for abortion. As the mother of a special needs child (see enclosed article) I am more keenly aware of the discrimination against the disabled in most OB practices, where over 90% of unborn babies with Down Syndrome are aborted. My health and my money must go to a doctor who takes the Hypocratic Oath seriously.
Sincerely, This is a letter I have just mailed out to change my OB to a completely pro-life doctor. If you can use it, feel free to copy it. We need to let the medical community know it matters if they keep the now defunct Hypocratic Oath which doctors used to take in medical school.

I swear by Apollo the physician, by Æsculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgement, the following Oath.
"To consider dear to me as my parents him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and if necessary to share my goods with him; to look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art if they so desire without fee or written promise; to impart to my sons and the sons of the master who taught me and the disciples who have enrolled themselves and have agreed to the rules of the profession, but to these alone the precepts and the instruction. I will prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgement and never do harm to anyone. To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. But I will preserve the purity of my life and my art. I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art. In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves. All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal. If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot."

Not bad for a pagan culture! Would that Catholic doctors held to such high standards. If your Obstetrician doesn't, look up a Natural Family Planning-only medical practice here at One More Soul.

A Bit of Wisdom from my Mom

You're a Keeper
I grew up in the 40's/50's/60's with practical parents. A mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it... A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, and dish-towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things. A curtain rod, the kitchen radio, screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress Things we keep.

It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, eating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant you knew there'd always be more. But then my mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more. Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away...never to return.

So... While we have it... it's best we love it... And care for it.... And fix it when it's broken..... And heal it when it's sick. This is true... For marriage.... And old cars.... And children with bad report cards..... Dogs and cats with bad hips.... And aging parents.... And grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make life important.... And so, we keep them close!

We planted a Sunflower House today

No, I'm not sharing pictures of this yet, it's kinda ugly as my little sunflower sprouts haven't adjusted to their new home yet, and are drooping downward, as if saying "what are we doing HERE?" I picked a bare spot in front of the dollhouse, and as we were planting, I noticed that the spot had a heart shape. No, really! Let's see what transpires. Pictures to come.

I'm just gloating that I beat my farmer-turned-computer-technician husband. His tomato plants are still waiting for the traditional Memorial Day weekend planting. He has a dozen vegetable seed packets ready to go. He does just the right amount of work, ignores weeds (which drives this flower gardener NUTS) and inevitably produces mounds of healthy, glowing vegetables in fall without pesticides. He did this for twenty years in El Salvador without running water, so here, with sprinklers, it's a cakewalk. He was an organic gardener, before it was cool.
Here he is going out back to check his garden for tomatoes. IN OCTOBER!

Carnival of Homeschooling is at the Lilting House

Melissa, at the Lilting House is hosting the carnival of homeschooling this week. Come and see what these thoughtful families are pondering lately.

Monday, May 21, 2007

How Montessori helps Christina

Montessori is helping Christina, age 5, because she is very headstrong, and only does what she wants after 8 therapy sessions a week, and all the other things I make her do (baths, hair combing etc) So Montessori is all about setting up a stimulating, themed, hands on learning environment, then letting the child select what she wants to work on, and allows her to do it herself. It's empowering to her sense of "I can do it", it cuts down on meltdowns when I 'sit her down to work', and she is very kinesthetic/tactile learner. Aren't they all at this age? I have seen her work on her pegboard for up to one hour, completely engrossed. And learning.
Another plus is that Early Education Preschools always taught way over her head, ie. learning letters and numbers BEFORE she can speak in sentences. Her developmental level is age 2-3, but her school was teaching her as a kindergartener last year, when her level was even lower. A homeschooling friend recommended the book, When Slow is Fast Enough to understand why preschool for her wasn't successful. Here's why: I taught preschool in my home, and English as a Second Language for 16 years, one thing I know is you must speak before you write. They made her sit still for 45 minutes at a time,encouraging passivity, there was minimal social interaction, and none of the artwork she brought home was truly hers. Do you know what the kicker was? Her testing showed no greater progress than she made the previous year, at home with therapists. That's why I homeschool her using Montessori approach, and we have a cooperative pre-school twice a week where she has some little friends to play singing games together(London Bridge is her favorite; she loves being "locked up"!)
In order to do this at home, I rely on "Natural Structure: A Montessori Approach to Classical Education at Home" by Edward and Nancy Walsh. You can find it at

Sunday, May 20, 2007

V for Victory!: Fishing with Torn Nets

V for Victory!: Fishing with Torn Nets

What your pew says about you

For a few laughs, check out Dave's post at the Cartoon Blog. Then, fess up in the comments about which pew are you. My guess is that the mommies will be back pew dwellers if there's no crying room.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Midsummer's Night Dream the Cast and Crew

On a gentle spring afternoon on the front lawn of a stately Gold Coast mansion, my friends' children performed Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream". The following post is a montage of scenes from their performance, with ethereal costumes and original music composed and performed on the violin by Libby Derham.
Take a bow, everyone!

A Midsummer's Night Dream

Pentecost Novena

My writing partneres Monica and Catherine and I decided to begin our projects with this Penetcost Novena. Without the Holy Spirit as the principal inspiration of our work , we are just wasting our time!
Veni Creator Spiritus

Pentecost, El Greco,

La Prada, Madrid

Nun Infomercial on MTV

You've heard me say often that New York is the abortion capital of the world, and it is, however, someone once said, where sin abounds, grace abounds more so. Fr Groeschel once pointed out that the Bronx is "Mary's playground" for in the midst of ramapant crime and grinding poverty, are the world's most fruitful religious orders.
His own Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and their sister order which I feature in my post about Divine Mercy Sunday, Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity's two houses, one active, one contemplative, and the Sisters of Life, who are interviewed in this video, featured on MTV. My brother Rob works under the Throgs Neck Bridge at Fort Schuyler, a Merchant Marine Academy, and often sees the sisters skating by with one of the local children by the hand. They play volleyball on the beach, laughing and goofing around. Some life, huh?
HT Danielle Bean

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

"The meaning of Christ's Ascension, " writes Pope Benedict XVI, "expressed our belief that in Christ the humanity that we all share has entered into the inner life of God in a new and hitherto unheard of way.
It means that man has found an everlasting place in God.
It would be a mistake to interpret the Ascension as 'the temporary absence of Christ from the world', rather, we go to heaven to the extent that we go to Jesus Christ and enter into him.
Heaven is a person: Jesus Himself if what we call heaven. "

Find the courage within yourself to achieve greatness

Genevieve at Feminine Genius and Melanie at The Wine Dark Sea have both written wonderful comments about an unintentional pro-life article in the New York Times, "My First Lesson in Motherhood".
" It’s tempting to think that our decision was validated by the fact that everything turned out O.K. But for me that’s not the point. Our decision was right because she was our daughter and we loved her. We would not have chosen the burdens we anticipated, and in fact we declared upfront our inability to handle such burdens. But we are stronger than we thought."

Somewhere the grace of God was operating, whether Elizabeth knew it or not, it gave her the strength to bring Natalie home despite the Chinese doctor's dire predictions. The grace of God would help every mother through their childbearing crises, if only they would trust it. The problem is that our culture is so adverse to the idea of suffering, that we rush in to offer abortion, which is just a decision which causes a lifetime of regret. We must offer these women support to find the grace to do what God is calling them to do; be courageous mothers.

Mothers who have faced the challenge of giving birth to and raising a special needs child posses a moral courage, which inspired me when my life posed this challenge, and caused me to write my article in Faith and Family. They inspired Monica Rafie, when her daughter Celine was born, and she began her ministry Be Not Afraid. We are now collaborating on a book of these stories of special mothers, whose moral courage has inspired them to go beyond the culture of death, to hope, to believe and to love in extraordinary ways. Leave your contact information in the comments and we will consider your story for inclusion in this anthology.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If You Give a Homeschooling Mom a Cookie

from my email:
If you give a Homeschooling Mom a cookie, she'll want the recipe.
She will plan a complete unit study on the History of Cookies.
The family will take field trip to a farm and see where we get eggs, milk and grain.
At home they will make butter out of milk.
The children will want to start grinding their own grain.
Mom will purchase a Bosch Universal Kitchen System.
She will remember she will need a new list of cookbooks. So, she will order "An Introduction To Whole Grain Baking w/ CD","Desserts", "The Cooking With Children CD", and "Lunches & Snacks Cookbook"by Sue Gregg, also "Whole Foods for Kids to Cook"Mom orders a 100 lb bag of wheat berries.Now she will grind her own wheat grain into flour.
The children remember the farm field trip and knowing they can't possibly get a cow so they beg for a few chickens. So, to a trip to the library to research how to build a chicken coop and to how to care for chickens.
On the way out the door Mom sees the book, "Chicken Tractor" by Andy Lee &Pat Foreman.They stop by the Feed and Seed to pick up materials and ask where to purchase the chicks. There the clerk tells them about egg that can be incubated.He sells them a book on hatching eggs, eggs, and incubator.At home Mom and the younger children set up the incubator while Dad and the older children build the chicken tractor.Back to the library to pick up gardening books and more books on chickens.The oldest daughter now starts a business grinding flour for the her friend's families.While her younger sisters are selling homemade cookies to their neighbors.The boys have started building a new chicken tractor because they want more eggs for breakfast.That cookie that started this all, the homeschooling mom's three year old ate it.
By the way, I do not think this applies to all homeschooling moms, some of us blogger types would be doing our cookie history research online, blog about it, pass on a cookie meme, collect recipes in a new Word file, start a cookie blog, and add some great new cookie websites to our sidebar. To each mom her own style, I say!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Today is the 90th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima

See my post at Mount Carmel Bloggers comemorating this occasion.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Before I was a Mom

From my email:
"Before I was a Mom I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.

I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom - I had never been puked on. Chewed on. etc.

I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.

I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests.Or give shots.

I never looked into teary eyes and cried.

I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.

I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put them down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.

I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much I never knew that I could love someone so much.

I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom - I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.

I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.

I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.

I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom - I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.

I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.

I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much, before I was a Mom."
Happy Mother's Day, ladies! A special hello to those religious sisters who have spiritually mothered our children, they deserve mention today as well!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day,Special Moms!

Barbara Curtis on Mommy Life has a wonderful Mother's Day slide show of Moms and children with Down Syndrome. Do go over and share the extra joy the extra chromosome brings!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Please pray for Johnette Benkovic

Who is the host of EWTN show Living His Life Abundantly. Her husband Anthony has just passed away. Here is his memorial website including their incredible video entitled, "Carrying the Cross Together".

They lost their son Simon to a tragic accident after he returned safely from Iraq, and actually shared together their plans for Anthony's death from cancer. What a witness they are to the sacrament of holy matrimony!

Pentecost Coloring Contest at Illuminated Ink

Print out this form.
Have your artists listen to Veni Creator Spiritus while they work.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Carmen Marcoux Needs our Help

Many of you have read the Catholic courtship novel, Arms of Love by Carmen Marcoux.
My daughter Gabbi reviewed it here. Surrender is the title of Carmen's new novel, and Gabbi has been awaiting it breathlessly. Carmen called me personally to let me know when it would be out since we sounded so anxious, we chatted for awhile about her work, and seems like a lovely woman.
Since Carmen, in addition to being a novelist is also the mother of 8, they have hit hard times and are facing bankruptcy, if they don't come up with enough money in 9 days. We need to order many copies of her books to help them out.
This culture needs good Catholic authors, and publishers, and so many of them do it merely as a ministry with very little financial gain. Let's order her books, and keep her in financial standing to continue to grace us with more romantic novels to inspire our youth to lead outstanding Catholic lives.

Homeschool Carnival

This Homeschool Carnival's theme is Southern Hospitality. Y'all c'mon over and set a spell!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Suffer from Self-Pity Attacks?

Here's a cure from a 1935 Home Economics book. It hit me right between the eyes!
"Then there are the people who are always sorry for themselves. They are 'so sensitive.' Their feelings are always being hurt. They are always being misunderstood. All of us can claim we are misunderstood if we want to be so selfish. For fundamentally that's what the matter is with the sensitive person. She has never learned to think of anything except in relation to herself. She needs a new interest, a new piece of work so big that it will take her out of herself. She needs to work so hard that she hasn't time nor energy to brood over slights and wrongs. Most of the time the slights are not intended anyway. People need to think less of themselves and more of the other person."
This quote reminds me of great advice offered by my dad when I was spending Christmas 1986 away from family in London. He told me to "Don't stay home and feel sorry for yourself, get out and help somebody, volunteer serving Christmas dinner to the elderly or the poor." Here's what I did. It was a wonderful Christmas, and no one had a pity-party!
HT Coffee Wife at The Walled Garden

My Favorite Catholic Singer

I have known and loved the music of Irish singer Dana since she first burst upon the international scene in 1979 as Pope John Paul II visited Ireland and the USA, with her song, "Totus Tuus". She composed and performed the theme song for World Youth Day in Colorado in 1993, "We are Once Body", sang many more times for Pope John Paul II, and has had two musical TV programs on EWTN since then, "Say Yes!" and "We are One Body". My favorite CD of hers is devoted to Marian hymns, and was the first place I heard the "Salve Regina" in Latin.

I was at one of her concerts in a local church, and her sweet voice and deep faith which her music embodies, made for an unforgettable evening. Her current TV program on EWTN, "We are one Body" airs at 5 AM EST. This morning, she had a program dedicated to the Marian devotion of Hispanic singers Anna Maria Padilla and Miguel Angel Guerra, and showed footage of her serenading the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, with her song, "Lady of Guadalupe".
I'm so glad I caught the program. Dana, along with her hero, Pope John Paul, brought me safely through the tumultous years of the 1980's, when I was growing in my faith, seeking orthodoxy, and struggling with the temptations of being single in a corrupt society. I bought her cassette "No Greater Love" on my 1988 visit to my cousins in Ireland, and drove around the Irish countryside that Easter, singing her songs.
So that's why I couldn't get back to sleep this morning!What a wonderful treat, thank you, guardian angel!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Johnny's Best Idea

Here's an inspiring slideshow story of the effect a man with Down Syndrome has had on an entire supermarket chain. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

When they stare at our children, do we know what's on their minds?

Kat at No fighting no biting has a companion post to "The Town Without Children", in which she describes a whole-food co-op in Maine where she summers with her children, suffering stares from the 'leftover hippies' who glare at the 'breeders'. I too often wonder why they stare, is it environmentalism gone mad, resenting the impact children have on global warming, or are they secretly envious of our 'troop of little ducklings trailing behind'? My guess is a sad mixture of the two.

I felt uncomfortable about the stares my children received in my local health food store until a friend told me this story about it's owner.

Ten years ago a lovely sixteen year old girl named Carrie, a treasured little sister to three big brothers died of heart failure. Her family has carried this grief for ten years, afraid to share it for fear of hearing the hurtful words, "well, it was all for the best, she had Down syndrome you know". The mother spent all her time and energy decorating her home to "Better House and Garden" standards. The big brothers became successful businessmen, and one of them opened a health food store. The pain in their hearts dulled to an ever-present ache which blunted their emotions, and robbed their joy.
One day, a Catholic neighbor stopped over to share a book which she felt the mother would appreciate. It's Sometimes Miracles Hide:Stirring Lessons from Those Who have Received God's Special Blessings in a Special Child with an accompanying CD of the Bruce Carroll song. As they played the song, both neighbor and mom broke down when they realized what day it was. It was the tenth anniversary of Carrie's death. God, who has seemed so far away from this woman, suddenly touched her heart, allowing her tears to flow freely, for the first time in years. Her sons heard from her, and they too were allowed to grieve for that beloved little sister. Healing began, and their hearts open ever so slightly to the love of God.
This little blessing was gratefully recounted to me by Carrie's mother, who asked to meet me, the owner of the book. She bought my newborn Christina a lovely spring bonnet, and held her close for a long time. At three months old, my special daughter had already been a blessing to her family.
As the song says, " Sometimes miracles hide,
God has wrapped His blessings in disguise,
though it might take a lifetime for us to realize,
that sometimes miracles hide."

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Catholic Carnival

Is dedicated to St. Joseph the Worker this week. See it at 50 days after.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

My Private Struggle

Vicki Forman, the special needs mama at the blog, Literary Mama shares the difficulty cutting her son's fingernails. I have struggled with how I have to handle my 5 year old daughter Christina sometimes, as she has sensory issues on top of Down Syndrome, and simply brushing her hair can bring on a meltdown. (Who am I kidding, it usually does!)
I rarely take her for haircuts, because there is only one woman I have ever met who has enough patience to take the time to cut her hair a bit at a time, and keep her calm, a saintly mother of nine, who is a hairdresser, and she lives FAR away from us. At times, I've considered making the trip just to have a daughter whose haircut looks like her parents care about her. I'm sick of explaining why you can't see her eyes, or she has odd-looking bangs, which I cut while she was asleep!
In order to do the simplest everyday tasks, like brushing her teeth, sometimes, she accepts the toothbrush willingly, other times, I have to pin her down and brush them myself. She has never made it through a hygienist exam. I hate that, but when she has her mind set, there is no amount of coaxing that will convince her that the bright red medicine will taste good, and make her feel better, or that traveling in the car seat will save her life, or that running headlong into our busy street will be safe. Mom has to be the enforcer. The bad guy.
I often wonder how I would cope if she had some serious health issues which required painful tests, I think of poor Vicki's son and shudder. Last year, we decided that Christina would enjoy adaptive horseback riding, se we had to get her spine x-rayed, to see if her spine was stable enough to withstand jarring. We had to return for the x-rays since she kept moving and the first x-ray came out blurry. It was partly the technician's fault, she was an older woman who seemed to believe that a good child would hold still till she was safely positioned to flick the switch, and took an eternity to get ready; I was nearly hanging Christina by her thumbs to get her to be still.
Why couldn't she team up with someone, get Christina ready, and be ready to flick the switch quickly?

So, dear medical professionals, next time you suggest yet another precautionary test for Christina,' just to fill out her medical record', I'm not going to be polite, like I was last year, and submit her to a series of tests which were inconclusive for her lack of cooperation. I have better things to do with my summer vacation this year.
I'm going to look you in the eye, and ask, "does she REALLY need this audiology test? It's gonna cost me!"

In fairness to myself, I must add that I have just purchased another pediatric medicine spoon, to try and smooth over the battles in this area. And I neglected to mention that ordinary doctor visits are going smoothly, thanks to Elmo's doctor video, and lots of role play with big sisters at home. If only the waiting room wasn't divided into sick and well children areas! Why does she HAVE to go to the one she isn't allowed in?

Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

Jean at Catholic Fire has a nice post for the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.