Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Love is Forever by Christina

Announcing the Down Syndrome Awareness Carnival

I know so many wonderful bloggers out there with someone in their lives who has Down syndrome, and want to share the joy their special person has brought them with the world.
SO, I am hereby starting the first Down Syndrome Awareness Carnival.
Sunday, August 12th, by 12AM EST, will be the deadline for the first carnival. Every Sunday after that, a different blog will host the carnival. So, get your best posts out, and send them in to Blog Carnival or send them into me directly at leticia77@optonline.net for inclusion in the carnival. Please let me know if you would like to host a carnival, and I'll set you up. Get ready to meet some wonderful new friends.

Nothing makes a homeschool mom happier than a box of books!

No, my homeschool book order hasn't landed on the doorstep, it's even better.
A friend of mine who has decided to send her children to Catholic school, has donated at least seven boxes of the kind of books I see my fellow homeschool bloggers rave about.
Books I have been meaning to buy, after reading about them on friend's blogs, like Maureen Wittman's Homeschool Companion, or Rita Munn's A Family Journal.
Books that may be in the basement somewhere, but I can't locate them, like the Bible History. Books I have given away to someone, and missed ever since, like Letters to Gabriel, Fertility Cycles and Nutrition, and .
Books I have seen over and over in Ignatius Press, but just couldn't afford, like The Spirit of the Liturgy by Cardinal Ratzinger, or Fire Within by Fr. Dubay.
Books which I haven't yet read from well-loved authors, like James Stenson's Compass.
Books which I love and can now give away because I have an extra copy like Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy, or Karol Wojtyla's Love and Responsibility.
Books I need to re-read like Dr. Dobson's The Strong Willed Child.
Books I planned to recycle but the older child's answers were written in pen, like the wonderfully written, Our Pioneers and Patriots by Rev. Philip Furlong.
Books I've always meant to read like Ruth Beechik's You Can Teach Your Child Successfully.
Books I know I'll read in one sitting like Secrets of the Eucharist by Michael Brown.
Charlotte Mason books. Fr. Lovasik books. Mother Teresa books.
Spiritual books, textbooks, art print cards, old fashioned music books and cool science kits. Phonics games and the perfect history and health books for my 5th grade daughter.
Preschool books for Christina, my Kindergartener.
There are even videos on Maximilian Kolbe, Pope John Paul II and that miraculous staircase.
Don't I have a wonderful friend? Don't you just love these books?!

Thank you, Lord, for your generous provision, there's just one more thing. . .could you send me a bookshelf, please?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Call for submissions

Susan Palwick, over at Rickety Contrivances at Doing Good announces a call for essays for an anthology of women who love to read, to benefit the University of Alberta pain center and to purchase books for hospital patients to read. Worthy causes, and a fascinating topic, ladies, it's time to get creative!
I have this print over my desk, isn't it lovely?

Portrait of a Young Girl Reading
Jean-Honore Fragonard
National Gallery of Art
USA

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Down syndrome children are blessings

Lori at View from Our Porch Swing has a great post about the blessing she's received being the mother of her daughter with Down syndrome, after she saw this video on CBN.
Her little Jackie is just so lovely, go over and enjoy!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A New Blogger is Born!

I always recommend blogging to my expressive friends. It's a great way to get those creative juices flowing, meet wonderful people, and share our Catholic faith. My friend Elizabeth taught a Little Flowers group which our daughters attended and I always admired her organized presentations, her gentle teaching style, and her personal poise. I am just now discovering she is a novelist. And now, both she and her sister are bloggers.
Go on over to her brand new blog, The Divine Gift of Motherhood, and enjoy her way with words.

In Celebration of the Pure Life

As my oldest daughter makes her way through adolescence, I have become interested in Purity Balls. Here is a video of a ball given on June 10, 2007.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Would you like to participate in research regarding opinion about disabilities?

The following is an invitation I received to participate in a research project regarding public opinion and disabilities. Every time I can influence public opinion positively about disabled people, I try to participate. I have already participated in phase one of Mr. Cimini's project, and found him to be fair and as sensitive as possible.Click on the email link to ask further questions about the research, and, please, let me know if you are participating by leaving a comment below.
Leticia

The Politics of Heredity, Disability & Reproduction
Welcome
You are invited to participate in an ESRC funded research project that examines attitudes towards 'The Politics of Heredity, Disability and Reproduction'. The research will explore how differing attitudes towards this topic may reach a shared understanding. It also seeks to investigate what are the potential obstacles, biases and potentialities of associated 'stakeholder' groups. A report will be produced based on the findings and I would be happy to share these findings with you prior to any publications.

What does the research involve?

Approximately 30 - 40 key stakeholders have been invited to take part in a group discussion online - including a number of medical researchers, scientists and associated experts, alongside individuals who are associated with the disabled people's movement and others who have expressed an interest in these questions. The group discussion is geared towards gathering a shared meaning of the issues at stake.

If you agree to take part, you will be given secure access to a "research wiki" where you will be encouraged to write, edit and discuss group statements, encyclopaedia articles and joint letters, amongst other such texts. I am interested in all sorts of contributions: long or short, factual, descriptive or fun. No-one other than participants in this research will have access to your contributions.

How can I take part?

Taking part is easy. If you don't already have a password email me and I will grant you access. From here, you will be free to browse the content of the wiki and edit whatever you choose.

Please help promote this wiki and forward a link to anyone who you think may be interested.

I am looking forward to continuing contacts.

Nicholas Cimini
Doctoral Student
School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) & The Bakhtin Centre
University of Sheffield


What are the potential risks of taking part?

The research will address issues that are potentially sensitive. If you participate you may be confronted with ideas that are considered upsetting or offensive to some people. The research will involve discussing topics such as disablement, prenatal screening and abortion. Participants are urged to act in good faith and be kind. You will find the contact details of various support groups, by following a link given on the project homepage, should you need to get in touch with anyone to discuss the issues raised during the research process.


What are the potential benefits of taking part?

Technological innovations often move forward more quickly than public understanding and consensus. The research will help to find ways to engage the public and professionals in debates over new technologies. It will help us to understand the impediments faced by stakeholders, the opportunities open to them, and the potential for a general consensus in the politics of heredity and reproduction.

Will my taking part be kept confidential?

Whatever you chose to contribute will be treated with confidentiality in any report or publications arising from the research and identifying information will not be made available to anyone outside of the group. All participants are urged to observe these same principles of confidentiality and not disclose each others personal information beyond the group.

A Word from Colleen Hammond

I sent this post to the author of Dressing with Dignity, Colleen Hammond, and here is her response, orginally a comment, but I felt it deserved it's own post so you could access the links.
Colleen Hammond said...
It's great to see modesty back in the news, and the interview I did with Focus on the Family (that Letitia quotes above) earned me a place as a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/2007/07/from_shoulders.html What an honor!!! :-)
I've been interviewed these past two weeks by news outlets from all over the world, but what concerns me is that manufacturers are starting to see a 'market for modest clothing' and are producing and selling clothing that they label as 'modest' that aren't decent...even being labeled "hot and modest". I Blogged about it here: http://colleenhammond.blogspot.com/2007/07/more-girls-go-mild-in-modesty.html
Like Letitia said, shop a bit and select a few outfits before you show your daughters. That's one of the reasons I did my other Blog--to show fashions from the runways of Paris that fit the Vatican Guidelines:
http://dressingwithdignity.blogspot.com/
Keep in mind, too, that a woman's real power is in her virtue--obtained and sustained through the grace of God. When we raise our children to be pure, humble, and charitable, the rest of society benefits as well.
GOD BLESS!!!

Potty Training Journal II

Three weeks into training, and Christina, who always goes to the potty willingly and is very proud of going potty, has yet to inform me of her need to go. If I get distracted, which happens often, she will just go in her pants. We do LOTS of laundry!
Here's a website on potty training Down syndrome children. My dear friend, a mother of child who began potty training at 18 months, and at age 4 still needs reminding, has advised me to take it slowly. Everything our children do takes longer, especially something as complex as potty training.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Bella" has takent he Catholic World by storm!

Here's a link to the homepage of Celebrate Life magazine, where you can read an interview of the next Catholic hunk we can actually look up to (move over Jim Caviezel, and Mel Gibson!). Here comes Eduardo Verastegui. He's got quite the conversion story.

Oh, and, while you're on the home page, take a look at True Love is Pro-Life an article by that up-and-coming freelance writer, Leticia Velasquez. It will be in the October issue and features some vintage photos of my family.

Review of "Miss Potter" Now available on DVD

I had been looking forward to seeing the movie Miss Potter for two months, frustrated with it's elusive release date, and when at last I found a showing, over an hour from my home, I raced to a tiny theatre in a quiet village through lacy snowflakes, trailing a troupe of little girls and their mother behind me.
My pursuit of Miss Potter has been a work of reparation for an author I had resisted reading as a child. I can still see the little green books on the shelf in my school library, which were routinely selected by all the other third graders, but I was obstinate, refusing to read them, and be part of the crowd. Now, that I've seen the movie, I realize that Beatrix would have applauded this starchy, independence, even though it took longer for her enchanting little tales to enrich my life.
But who in this culture, or around the world for that matter, has not heard of Peter Rabbit, or become familiar with Miss Potter's friendly little renderings of ducks with bonnets, cheeky red squirrels, naughty bunnies in blue jackets, frisky red squirrels or fishing frogs?
My Latin American students at the college smiled in recognition when I mentioned "Pedro el Conejo" and I read that in Japan, where her books have always been popular there is virtually a "Potter Mania" as a result of this film.
Beatrix Potter's work has become a quintissential part of the culture of childhood, and I have often enjoyed reading "The Great Big Tresury of Beatrix Potter" with my three daughters. I might just look for those little green books again, now that the film is out. . .

The film shows Beatrix(Renee Zellwiger) as the quirky spinster daughter of a social climbing parents in their posh Kensington mansion in London, who try to set up a marriage for her with homely gentlemen of means. Her parents humor her when the little animal stories and paintings become increasingly important, as do the brothers at Warne Publishing, pushing off her manuscript to their inexperienced younger brother, Norman Warne, warmly played by Ewan McGregor, (any relation to Farmer McGregor?).The remarkable success of her first book takes everyone by surprise, especially her mother, and Beatrix is suddenly a woman of independent means. She has impressed the English reader, forging new paths for Victorian women, yet never stopped being the slightly dotty, visionary artist of whom Mr Warnes has become so fond.

There is nothing more attractive to a woman of literary talent than a man who appreciates her work, and soon a romance is born, much to her parents' consternation. I found the romantic scenes quite Victorian in their delicacy, yet touching in the quiet respect with which Norman treats Beatrix, even agreeing to a separation to concede to her parent's wishes that they spend the summer apart, to see if they were truly in love before they marry. His love letters send her into transports of joy, on the tranquil shores of her summer home, until unexpected tragedy strikes.

As a fellow writer, I enjoyed the movie's portrayal of the relationship of Beatrix to her work; her cozy farm cottage with her painings prominently displayed, her cluttered studio, her utter abandon of her physical appearance as she is transported by her stories, anxious to discover where they will take her. Her whimsical interaction with the animal characters in her tales, which in the film are animated, to the delight of the little girls with me at the preview, make Miss Potter, a rare glimpse into the mind of a literary icon of our culture.

Miss Potter will be enjoyed by her worldwide fans, like Shannon, whom I met watching the last of the movie credits, who had seen the movie in Manhattan the day before, in a packed house which gave the film a standing ovation. She is not only an avid collector of Beatrix Potter china, which she used daily for her daughters, but she took them to visit Hilltop Farm, Beatrix's home in the Lake District of England, which is part of the 4,000 acres she donated to the National Land Trust of Great Britain. This is a trip I never made during my time in London, but now that I have three little girls, I look forward to taking the tour some day.

I recommend that all lovers of children's literature, tender love stories, and breathtaking mountain scenery make the excursion to see Miss Potter, and spend some time in her cozy corner of Cumbria.

Is there a cure out there for Down syndrome?

Last week, I would have told you, "it's a genetic anomaly, in every cell of the person's body, and there's no way you can cure that". Now, as I do some research into the work of the man who discovered the cause of Down syndrome, Dr. Jerome Lejeune, I was heartened by something he said before he died in 1994, "to find a cure for Down syndrome would take less effort than sending a man to the moon."
His deepest regret was not finding that cure before he died, but here's the good news; his Foundation in France, Fondacion Lejeune, has all his documentation, and his research continues there, and in other locations, like Stanford. There is also some work trying to cure the side effects of having an extra chromosome, like those discussed here using Ginkgo Gil boa.
So, families who have children with Down syndrome, take heart, there is research out there, and our job is to get them funding. The Michael Fund was established for precisely that. Help get the word out that the March of Dimes has focused it's research into search and destroy pre-natal diagnoses, to 'cure' Down syndrome, while the public thinks they are helping babies with birth defects, in effect they are eliminating the babies with Down syndrome. And as the NY Times video suggests, the fewer people with Down syndrome out there, the less interest in finding a cure.
I will post updates on finding a cure, as I find them. Please feel free to send me links.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

What's in a name?

Your 1950s Name is:
Victoria Loretta

I always thought that Leticia was a 1950's name. When I was a girl. only old ladies had this name. Now there are many Hispanic and black women who share it with me. I always thought it was providential that a half-Italian, quarter Irish, quarter Polish girl got a 100% Spanish version of Laetitae (Latin for Joy, after the Seven Joys of the Blessed Mother). How did Mom and Dad know I would have Velasquez as a surname someday? It just sounds so perfectly espanol. They picked it as a compromise out of What to Name Your Catholic Baby. I love my name.
Other versions of my name include the British Letitia, which I was called when I lived in London, and the Italian Letizia, which they shouted out in Florence when I went to use the phones at the post office. Such happy memories!
People who know me a LONG time call me Tishe (i pronouned as 'ee' please), Hispanics may call me Leti, but nobody better call me LETTY like my tree-huggin', women's libber, save-the-whales 5th grade teacher, Ms. Koons. Got it? Those were tough times, those 1970's liberal thought-police days, and I have NO intention of going back there!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Gifts" Interview on TV.

My friends who wrote the book Gifts were interviewed last month on TV. Awesome!

Blogger Reflection Award

Blogger Reflection Award: this award should make an individual reflect upon five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and who have provided a Godly example. In other words, five dear bloggers whom, when you reflect upon them, you are filled with a sense of pride and joy. . .of knowing them and being blessed by them.

Noelle over at Jaden's Journal has nominated me, and I'm so honored. She always been an inspiration to me. Her blog began as a personal reflection of life raising a son, Jaden, who has Down syndrome. . .
" my blog has morphed into a clearer reflection of my passion for changing the way our prenatal community treats diagnoses given to expecting parents. Amazingly, in just 6 months time, my blog has really brought me closer to so many people who also feel things in the prenatal world need to change! Most of you reading are already well aware that I started a Petition to get the Prenatally & Postnatally Diagnosed Condition Act passed, and already we are at almost 600 signatures! Also, I have been devoting most of my time to speaking with other parents, professionals, doctors, nurses and Senators in trying to see how powerful our voice really can be. I upload videos to Youtube to spread the word, I join all parent lists and groups that are out there on special needs and down syndrome and basically just try and get the message out that we are sick and tired of our babies being so disposable!

Here's her nomination of me for the Relflecting Blogger Award:
Leticia over at Cause of Our Joy is one of the most passionate parents I have met through blogging. She is a huge advocate of changing the prenatal care, just as most of us are, but she takes it further than most of us have a chance to. She has 2 blogs and they are very inspirational. She has offered her help on countless occasions to me, and is there to help any way she can in spreading the word! Her blog is very conscientious and inspiring. She is the mother of 3 beautiful girls! Her time and energy is most definitely altruistically spent! Thank you for all of your support and all that you do Leticia!
Thank you, Noelle, and let's keep the momentum going by calling our senators to support S609, the Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Act. The Capital Switchboard number is (202)224-3121.

Here are my five nominees for the Blogger Reflection Award:
1. Jean M. Heimann at Catholic Fire. Jean not only knows everyone in the Catholic blogosphere, but she is up on all the buzz, I know that when I read her blog will be inspired and informed by her keen insight. She is passionately pro-life, yet perennially optimistic about the birth of a Culture of Life in this world. She is heavenly minded, as you can see in all her holy posts about the saint of the day, yet she is practical, making her one of my all time favorite bloggers and a great blogbuddy.
2. Anita at V for Victory She is a Tertiary Dominican and never lets you forget it, her blog has a marvelous WWII theme, which brings to mind the importance of the war on terror, but also the war for the Culture of Life, which she passionately supports. She has great posts on some of my favorite saints, and comes to my aid in times of distress. Anita took her Confirmation seriously as she is a true soldier of Christ!
3. Monica at Be Not Afraid Though she is a webmaster, not a blogger, her website is just so dynamic, I couldn't resist. Recently featured in Catholic Exchange and interviewed on the Drew Mariani Show, Monica is the mother of three, including little Celine, on whom the doctors had given up hope for survival after birth, due to her heart condition. But Monica and her dh never gave up, and now Celine is a young lady of five. Monica now encourages other parents with poor prenatal diagnoses, and she is a real dynamo who I am proud to call my friend and co-author. We are writing a book on Catholic special needs mothers.
4. Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii has a flair for beauty, she can't help it, she lives in paradise! Reading her blog is like going on retreat, beautiful images, inspiring prayers, and thoughtful commentary lift up your heart and soul to Heaven. She is always charitable, and always Catholic. I treasure our blog friendship, and her work in the blogosphere.
5. Lori from The View from Our Porch Swing. She will be surprised at this, since she doesn't know me, but after one visit to her blog, you feel like part of her wonderful family of 12, which includes a lovely young lady with Down syndrome. She doesn't preach Catholicism, she lives it, and we are fortunate to have a view into her happy, Christ-centered life. Her blog is truly an example of what St. Francis said, "preach always, use words when necessary".
Congratulations, ladies! Now you display your award, and nominate five other bloggers who have inspired you.

Our Special Children in Church

Barbara Curtis at Mommy Life has three sons with Down syndrome. She has a post about how special needs sons have fit into various church communities. Here's my comment:
We often end up in the 'crying room' of our church, and never take a seat towards the front, as Christina, (age 5 with Down syndrome) is completely unpredicatable. She'll be sitting quietly, even participating (last Sunday I heard her singing "Alleluia") and suddenly become unmanageable, making us take her out to the vestibule. Gabbi usually volunteers to take her out, leaving me to pray, but I try to call them back to say the Our Father as a family. By and large, however, I must say that our parishoners' reactions have been welcoming. We get smiles and special handshakes at the Sign of Peace. The priest usually gives her a blessing at Communion time.

Perhaps this has something to do with a regular column I started in my parish newspaper, Eagle's Wings. I feature a different special needs parishoner each issue, with the hopes that this will give people something to say to them next time they run into them at Mass. Sometimes people want to reach out to someone with disabilities, but lack the words. I hope that knowing the person's name has helped to ease the process of starting a friendship.

I'll be posting these articles in the future.

Loving Parker week



Parker is a medically fragile little boy with Down syndrome, and several other medical problems. He has five siblings and two parents who love him, as well as a special bond with Grandma. His daddy is a school principal, but his insurance doesn't begin to cover Parker's medical bills, so he works a second job and borrows money. If you click on the button above, you can donate to help Parker's family with those medical bills, and get to know him better. You will also be entered in a drawing to win a Hewlett Packard digital camera and printer worth $400, if you donate between July 23 and 27.
Let's show Parker and his family some love!

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling is at Tami's Blog. Go and see what these folks are up to during their summer vacation.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Return to Modesty






Colleen Hammond, the author of Dressing with Dignity, tells girls that their choices could transform our nation.
Despite the devastating influence of today's culture, some are trying to teach girls they don’t have to dress immodestly in order to be true women.
“It’s fine to follow some of the fashions just as long as we realize that you don’t want anything too tight, nothing too clingy, nothing too sheer and just make sure that ‘from the shoulder to the knees, nobody touches, nobody sees,’” author Colleen Hammond told Family News in Focus.
She said girls need to understand that their choices can influence others.
We’ve learned from history that as the morality of women declines, the culture follows with it,” Hammond said.
Pure Fashion attempts to help girls with modest choices and has hosted 13 modest fashion shows around the country this year.
“We’re not necessarily afraid of the body. God created the body, and it is good and it is holy, and it is sacred,” said Brenda Sharman, national director of Pure Fashion. “It’s just that we want to have a reverence and a respect for the human body.”
HT Citizen Link
This kind of talk is music to the ears of mothers, who, like myself have a beautiful teenage girl who is bursting on the social scene, dying to express her taste and decorate the lovely form God has given her. Instead of keeping her under wraps in a shapeless jumper, where she is unattractive, and feels resentful that her beauty is somehow rejected, she can dress like the girls in the Pure Fashion show above, feminine, hip, and MODEST! This is the Theology of the Body in practice, being respectful of the gift of our bodies, treating them with dignity, while not tempting our neighbor's sons into sin. For my three daughter's sake, I pray for movements like this. They seems to be catching on.

Last week, Laura Ingraham had a discussion with Wendy Shalit, who spoke about her new book, Girls Gone Mild, a take-off on those exploitative videos of poor girls with no self-esteem."It's about how people misunderstand the 'good girl,'" she said in an early July interview here. She believes society often ostracizes these girls or views them as "people pleasing." Instead, she said they are actually "rebels" in choosing to go against teachers and parents to live a chaste lifestyle.
Shalit wants to provide an opportunity through her book for these young women to share their stories and become role models for other young women.
HT Catholic News Service
ABC News and Newsweek are taking notice. Let's fan this flame!
Last night, at the opening prayer meeting/Holy Hour healing service for Youth 2000, I was spending some time with Fr. Terry of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. He remembers my three girls from Divine Mercy Sunday, when he complimented Gabbi's care taking of her little sister, Christina. This time, he put his arm around her and told her how pretty she is, and how, when young men come to her and tell her this, not to be deceived, as often their motives are impure. To be careful and protect her beauty. His eyes welled up with tears, as he contemplated her pristine innocence, as he recalled, in his heart the tragic stories of other lovely young ladies, whom he has ministered to, whose childhood ended in tragedy in the mean streets of New York. Instead of idolizing these girls in rap videos, we should pray for them. Pray for a return to modesty, for a transformation of our culture. In 1917, Our Lady of Fatima told the visionaries that there were many fashions that offend our Lord. In 1917! Can you imagine how the dress of today's men and women offend Him?!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A BIG step towards victory!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEWS RELEASE

July 18, 2007

BROWNBACK, KENNEDY REINTRODUCE PRE-NATALLY AND POST-NATALLY DIAGNOSED CONDITIONS AWARENESS ACT

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) today reintroduced the Pre-natally and Post-natally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act, legislation which would require that families who receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other condition, pre-natally or up until a year after birth, will be given up-to-date information about the nature of the condition and connection with support services and networks that could offer assistance.

"We as a society must offer as much protection as we can to 'the least of these,'" said Brownback. "When a mother receives the news that her unborn child may be born with a disability, she should be supplied with current and reliable information about the many options available for caring for children with disabilities."

The Pre-natally and Post-natally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act would provide for the expansion and further development of a national clearinghouse on information for parents of children with disabilities, so that the clearinghouse would be better equipped to assist parents whose children have recently been pre- or post-natally diagnosed. The bill also provides for the expansion and further development of national and local peer-support programs. The bill also calls for the creation of a national registry of families willing to adopt children with pre- or post-natally diagnosed conditions.

"One of the hardest moments in the life of an expectant mother is when she receives news that she is going to have a child with special needs," said Kennedy. "Access to the best support and information about the condition, and the quality of life for a child born with that condition, can make all the difference to a woman trying to make an informed and difficult decision. I believe this kind of support is a vital element to strengthening a true culture of life in America."

Currently, 90 percent of children pre-natally diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. That percentage is similar for children pre-natally diagnosed with other conditions such as spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, and dwarfism.
Brownback is a member of the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations Committees.
Sam Brownback United States Senator - Kansas 303 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 (202) 224-6521 http://brownback.senate.gov/
Christina thanks you, Senators Kennedy and Brownback! Now THIS is bi-partisanship!!

When an Expectant Parent hears bad news

Go and read this article at Catholic Exchange which gives the story my friend Monica Rafie, who runs Be Not Afraid.net an online support group for such parents. We are writing a book together on how our Catholic Faith helps us bear these special needs children, despite dire warnings and pressure from the medical establishment.

If you have a similar story to share, leave your contact information below and we'll see if we can include it in our book.

A Special Mother is Born

“God would never send us a special child”, I mused, caressing my pregnant belly, “our marriage isn’t strong enough.” I was deliriously happy to be pregnant at 39, for three of my five pregnancies had ended in miscarriage, and my younger daughter, Isabella was an independent four year old. Last summer, I had returned from a homeschool conference with an aching heart, longing for a translucent-skinned newborn nuzzling my neck. When my pregnancy lasted past my danger zone, I was ecstatic, and refused the triple screen blood test.” There’s nothing you can tell me that will make me end my baby’s life”, I told the doctor, putting the subject of prenatal diagnosis to rest. Or so I thought.

Five months along, I was at Sunday Mass, absent-mindedly watching the parishioners with Down Syndrome from a local group home when, from out of the blue, an internal voice said, “You’re going to have a child with Down Syndrome”. Astounded, I tried to dismiss it as a hormonal fixation, until, in line for Communion, the voice ‘spoke’ again, “I want you to accept this child as a gift from My Hand, when you receive Me.” Now I knew there was no escape. Jesus had a call for my life. How would I respond? I choked, “yes, Lord, as long as you bring my husband along for the ride”, and received His Body in tears.
My husband Francisco was floored, thinking that I had finally gone over the edge, and I myself began to doubt this message, since there had been so many normal sonograms. “And besides, Lord, I’ve seen these mothers of special children, they’re saints, you could NEVER compare my impetuous personality with theirs.” That, I decided, was the clincher. God gave special children to saintly women. I was safe.
Never tell God is what He is capable of doing. During the remaining months, I struggled with self-pity, and even, for one instant, regretted my pregnancy, while unknown to me, His grace was molding my heart.
The time came for little Christina Maria’s arrival. At her birth, the delivery room fell deathly silent. Alarmed, I glanced over at the pink, wriggling baby in the isolette, and asked “What’s the problem?” The doctor didn’t respond. Francisco tried to tell me in Spanish that Christina was a “mongolita” (Spanish for Mongoloid), but I didn’t understand, so, on the way to my room, the nurses circled my gurney, and said, “We regret to tell you that this child has symptoms consistent with Down Syndrome”. I was ready with my response, “this child will never take drugs, go Goth, or shoot up a schoolroom. She’ll learn the Faith, and keep it her whole life. She’s my best chance at getting a daughter to Heaven, and I consider her a special blessing from God”. My answer came from a book, Pregnancy Diary by Mary Arnold, which I had read regularly for inspiration.
But words are cheap. What cost me dearly was watching the other newborns in the nursery and comparing Christina’s weakness to their vitality. I resented the happy chatter of the other Moms in the ward. I was haunted by dark thoughts, and self-pity took hold of me.
Just then, the phone calls began. My mother and homeschooling friends had summoned support from around the country, and I was encircled in love. I spoke with a mother from my parish who told me what it was like to raise her youngest daughter with Down Syndrome, and answered many of my anxious questions. Another friend, the mother of 11, sent an Elizabeth Ministry package for special babies, with the CD and book set entitled, Sometimes Miracles Hide, Stirring Letters from Those Who Discovered God’s Blessings in a Special Child by Bruce Carroll. That was a constant companion, reminding me that regardless of how inadequate I felt, God had indeed chosen me to mother Christina, and that she would be my means of attaining holiness down the road. God’s favorite road, the Via Dolorosa.
On Mother’s Day, at Christina’s Baptism, we shared that song with the over 100 guests who crowded the Church. My heart swelled with gratitude for God’s choice of my family to raise her, and when her Godmother asked what she should pray for, I didn’t ask for Christina’s cure from Down Syndrome. I was beginning to understand that her ‘condition’ was a blessing, not a curse. Perhaps, as Fr. McCartney had said, Christina pities us, for not having the purity of heart to see what she sees.

After four years of specialists, therapists, and conferences, our family has grown in acceptance of her halting development, yet often, we are awed by Christina’s perception of that which escapes us. One day I brought her with me to Adoration. Entering the chapel, she waved enthusiastically to the Monstrance and called, “Hi, Jesus!” I was congratulating myself for having communicated that Jesus was present, although unseen. She promptly put me in my place, for, as we were leaving, she waved again, saying, “Bye Jesus!” as if He was as visible as Grandpa standing in front of her!

You know, I believe she did see Jesus, and what’s more, they already have a friendship.

This article was published in Faith and Family magazine in May/June 2007.
You can purchase my book which contains this story and 33 similar stories on Amazon or from me personally by clicking the Paypal button on the upper right hand corner of my blog, and I will be happy to sign it for you.  http://www.amazon.com/Special-Mother-Born-Extraordinary-Parenting/dp/1449724167

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Baby Pictures






Images of Fetal Development
The following images were presented to Fr. Frank Pavone, at the time he was working at the Vatican, by a team of experts from Poland. The experts presented them also to Pope John Paul.
Priests for Life is grateful to Professor Andrzej Skawina (Collegium Medicum Jagiellonian University, Krakow) and Dr. Antoni Marsinek, MD (Czerwiakowski Gynecological and Obstetrics Hospital, Krakow) for making these images available, and to the Zrodlo Foundation, Wychowawca Department, for the permission to use them.
We encourage pro-life groups and individuals to use these images, keeping in mind the words that pollster Harrison Hickman spoke to the 1989 conference of the National Abortion Rights Action League,
"Nothing has been as damaging to our cause as the advances in technology which have allowed pictures of the developing fetus, because people now talk about that fetus in much different terms than they did fifteen years ago. They talk about it as a human being, which is not something that I have an easy answer how to cure."
Pray for an end to abortion.

A word from Mother Angelica


Mother Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons, and Everyday Spirituality is on my nightable this summer, so as Iprepare to leave for a day at the beach, I'll let Mother Angelica have the word today.
Ramond Arroyo, the compiler of this little gem, says, "In this world of bloated egos, and overinflated hype, Mother Angelica once told me she considered herself. "a porcupine at a balloon party".

Monday, July 16, 2007

Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

This feast was instituted by the Carmelites between 1376 and 1386 under the title "Commemoratio B. Marif Virg. duplex" to celebrate the victory of their order over its enemies on obtaining the approbation of its name and constitution from Honorius III on 30 Jan., 1226 (see Colvenerius, "Kal. Mar.", 30 Jan. "Summa Aurea", III, 737). The feast was assigned to 16 July, because on that date in 1251, according to Carmelite traditions, the scapular was given by the Blessed Virgin to St. Simon Stock; it was first approved by Sixtus V in 1587. After Cardinal Bellarmine had examined the Carmelite traditions in 1609, it was declared the patronal feast of the order, and is now celebrated in the Carmelite calendar as a major double of the first class with a vigil and a privileged octave (like the octave of Epiphany, admitting only a double of the first class) under the title "Commemoratio solemnis B.V.M. de Monte Carmelo". By a privilege given by Clement X in 1672, some Carmelite monasteries keep the feast on the Sunday after 16 July, or on some other Sunday in July. In the seventeenth century the feast was adopted by several dioceses in the south of Italy, although its celebration, outside of Carmelite churches, was prohibited in 1628 by a decree contra abusus. On 21 Nov., 1674, however, it was first granted by Clement X to Spain and its colonies, in 1675 to Austria, in 1679 to Portugal and its colonies, and in 1725 to the Papal States of the Church, on 24 Sept., 1726, it was extended to the entire Latin Church by Benedict XIII. The lessons contain the legend of the scapular; the promise of the Sabbatine privilege was inserted into the lessons by Paul V about 1614. The Greeks of southern Italy and the Catholic Chaldeans have adopted this feast of the "Vestment of the Blessed Virgin Mary". The object of the feast is the special predilection of Mary for those who profess themselves her servants by wearing her scapular (see CARMELITES).
HT New Advent

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A tale of two parks; life with mother

Out till midnight at our Friday evening rosary at a dear friends' home, my daughters went to bed exhausted but happy. Early the next morning, I awoke Gabbi and Bella to accompany me to an advance screening for the film, An Arctic Tale (review to follow) in Manhattan. We have to travel 2 hours to get there, and the parking was $40, so it's quite an undertaking. They slept a bit on the way, and were alert enough to be awestruck by the Loew's Lincoln Square Theatre on Broadway with its 1930's Hollywood-style decor; art-deco murals, rich red carpets, and soaring ceilings held up by pineapple-topped columns. We entered the Majestic Theatre and enjoyed the world of the Arctic for two hours.
Afterwards, I had an inspiration, and asked the girls if they wanted to go to the Central Park Zoo and see a real Polar Bear. We trekked through the park, getting lost numerous times, and finally found the diminutive zoo. We were fascinated watching the bear's powerful swimming style, as viewed from underwater.
Fighting three hours of traffic on the way home, we collapsed into bed for a nap at 5, only to hear the phone ring at 6 with my friends' inviting us to join them in the park for the annual New York Philharmonic concert on Long Island. I dragged the poor girls, three of them this time, into the car with our chairs and some provisions, and off we went again for another cultural adventure.
Their lack of enthusiasm was gently overcome by the sheer beauty of Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" symphony ennobling the treed landscape while we were caressed by the soft summer breezes. Fireworks finished off this amazing day, and this morning, Mom is finally letting the girls sleep in. We'll go to evening mass today, and be thankful Sunday is a day of rest.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Difficult Diagnosis

This New York Times video on Down Syndrome grates on me like nails on a blackboard, because of the couple's description of information from parents of children with Down Syndrome being naive and rosy-colored. I think I share some of the difficulties of raising Christina here, but I suspect they haven't read Cause of Our Joy. See the video and tell me what you think.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Keep Profanity Off TV

Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas will soon introduce legislation to curb the excessive use of violence and the use of profanity on TV. He needs your support now!
By a 2-1 vote, a liberal federal court recently struck down the TV decency law. In essence, the court said your children (and you) don't deserve protection from the filth on TV. Like the ACLU, the court felt that broadcast TV should be allowed to show anything anytime!
Author and culture critic Chuck Colson has written a column concerning this situation. Click here to read Colson's column.
The Brownback legislation (amendments to a current bill) addresses two seperate issues regarding the enforcement of federal FCC rules.
The first amendment establishes the clear intention from Congress that the use of the "f-word" and "s-word" on broadcast television are in violation of decency laws. It is designed to allow the FCC to enforce the law without allowing liberal judges to misinterpret the law and side with the television executives.
The second amendment directs the FCC to establish rules regarding excessive violence. Currently, broadcast decency laws to no address violence, and therefore the FCC has no authority to fine network stations for violence.
Take Action
Create and send an email your two senators today. Tell them to support the Brownback amendment!
Forward this email to your friends and family.

Click Here to Email Your Senators Now!

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Day in Morning Star Camp by Isabella

Every morning, at 7:15, the bell rings and we get up for morning prayers in our pajamas outside the tent. We pray the Morning Offering, the Guardian Angel Prayer, and then we get dressed for breakfast. Some girls are so cold in the morning, they wear their sleeping bags to prayers!
At breakfast, we say grace, we wait on line for the food, which is toast, eggs, and cereal. A different group cleans up after meals each day. My group is group A, for ages 10 and 11.
After that, we have catechism at a table next to the water's edge. We learn about sacrifices and how to do more every day. We learned the lives of the saints, and how lucky we are to learn the Catholic Faith.
Next, we go to the activity that we chose at sign up. I like line dancing. After that, we do arts and crafts. I made a gift box, a surprise doll, and a tie-dyed pillowcase. Next, we go back to the tent to put on our skirts, and chapel veils (or bandannas) for Holy Mass at the chapel by the lake.
Lunch comes next. We sat grace then we eat sandwiches, salad, and chips.
After lunch, we have a different activity each day, like singing, hand jives or archery, followed by swimming and boating . For boating, we can go out in a sailboat, kayak, or canoe. If you don't want to swim, you play croquet, or do beading. I like beading.
Before dinner, we have an hour of free time. I enjoy going to the concession stand where you can buy holy items, bandannas, camp t-shirts, candy, and toys.We visit the woods where the big girls' tents are. We know a secret path that leads to an island in the lake, where the water is so shallow, you can wade across, but you have to be careful of the water snakes!

Before dinner we pray the rosary at the chapel, and then we go to dinner, (you have to hurry to get a good spot in line). We eat hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken breasts, sloppy Joe's, and salad. We get to choose between different things to eat, so there's always something you like. There's dessert after both lunch and dinner. We have cookies, brownies, and chocolate bars. Yum!

After dinner, we have different activities like ball games, hand jives, or archery. Then, we get in our pajamas, and get ready for campfire by the lake. Every night we sing songs while Sister plays the guitar. Most of the songs are folk songs, like "Frog Went a Courtin'", "Red River Valley", and my favorite, "Paper Pins". Sometimes we would have dance night, where we learne swing dancing, the Virginia Reel, The Electric Slide, and Cotton-Eyed Joe. When it rains we have old-fashioned movies inside. On the last night, we have a candlelight procession around the camp to the campfire for Talent Night, where the girls make up funny skits, do folk dances, and play instruments.

On Saturday, after Mass, our parents come to pick us up, and we take our new friends' phone numbers.
I love Morning Star Camp!
I can't wait to go next year, when the camp might be in the Sister's new camp, we'll sleep in cabins instead of tents and it will last two weeks!

Five Things I Love About Jesus

Jeanmarie at Catholic Fire tagged me for this meme, but she did such a beautiful job, she's a tough act to follow. Here are five of my favorite qualities about Jesus.

1. Patience, Jesus has infinite patience for the sinner, like myself, who says she doesn't have time to pray the daily readings, to go to Mass an extra time a week, to visit the Blessed Sacrament in adoration. He continually waits there for me, loving me, as I resist His love, forgiving me when I confess my sins, and promise to sin no more. He knows I will fail, and, each time, welcomes me back into His loving embrace. Jesus is patient.
2.Purity. Jesus is pure. He knows all the evil done in the world, and all my unjust motives, the criticism I level at everyone and everything, yet He remains pure. Nothing of the depravity of this sin-sick culture effects His purity, lowering it to our level of baseness. I continually struggle to keep the filthiness of the culture out of my soul, but not Jesus. Jesus is pure.
3. Generosity. Jesus is infinitely generous. Blessed Mother Teresa said, "if you look at the crucifix, you can see how Jesus loved you, if you look at the Eucharist you can see how Jesus loves you now." Not content with giving His very lifeblood for us on the cross, Jesus continually gives us His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity every moment in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
There is no greater act of generosity than this. I strive to give Him my thoughts, my time, my worldly goods, my acts of sacrifice, my daily chores, my future, my children's future, my body, my dreams, and myself in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But I always hold something back for myself. Jesus holds back nothing. Jesus is generous.
4. Mighty. Jesus is omnipotent. "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me." Phil. 4:13. This often helps me when the world gets to me, and I feel unequal to the simple tasks He has entrusted to me. When I see the corruption in the world, and how He is ignored, and I feel that the Great Commission to bring the Gospel to all men is impossible, I remember how 12 men started the Church 2000 years ago, with the help of the Holy Spirit. I remember how the limitless ocean and the towering mountains are the work of His hands. I imagine His return from Heaven in clouds of glory for the Final Judgement. Jesus is Mighty.
5. Wise. Jesus is wise. "The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the coastline of wonder" is one of my favorite quotations. The more we know, the more there is to know. This can get frustrating, until I remember what the Benedictines at St. Anselm College used to tell us. Our quest for knowledge is "Faith seeking understanding". We can know Jesus by faith, what we could never in a million years know through knowledge. Faith is the shortcut to wisdom. It brings us directly to Jesus, who is the source of all knowledge. Jesus is wise.
I enjoyed the reflection which this meme requires. Go ahead, tag yourself!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

How has blogging affected my life?

Jennifer F. at Et Tu? has this post on Motherhood, Fulfillment and Careers, and she asked her readers to leave comments with their experiences. She writes:
I'm interested to hear what you readers think about all this. I know that the feelings of being overwhelmed and unfulfilled staying home with children are epidemic in the wider culture, but I'm not sure if it's as much of an issue among serious Catholics and other Christians. What do you think?
Also, I'd like to hear any suggestions from those of you who may have struggled with any of this. Other than getting a job, how can you find a way to get things like regular adult interaction, breaks from being the sole person in charge of the children, intellectual/academic-type challenges, a sense of community, etc.?

I want my readers to understand that my childbearing years are coming to an end, my youngest child is 5, and I see this as a new era, which God is opening in my life, as a result of a lot of spiritual growth through suffering. In Carmelite terms, I consider myself leaving the Dark Night of the Senses, and entering a phase of consolation, where one no longer feels deprived, and sees the fruits of the growth which occurred during the last stage, which involves God taking away physical consolations. This is not to be confused with Dark Night of the Soul, where one doubts one's faith, and lacks spiritual consolation.
I'm still a spiritual baby and have that WAY ahead of me.

Here is my comment:
This has been on my mind a lot lately, as my blog has led to a lot of other worthy projects, establishing a home-based career of sorts. I have become involved in:
writing a book on special needs moms, and how their Catholic faith helps them,
a screenplay on the life of St. Patrick,
starting an EWTN affiliate radio station on Long Island,
hosting a screening of the pro-life movie Bella,
promoting Hollywood-homeschool dialogue with Walden Media,
advocating for the right to life of children with Down syndrome by promoting Down Syndrome awareness ,
starting a new blog about the movement to keep Christ in Christmas,
and FINALLY
my freelance writing, recently for Faith and Family magazine. (this does pay)

Whew! I love these projects, and thanks to summer, I can devote much more time to them, since homeschooling is over for awhile, and I'm not teaching English as a Second Language at the college till fall.
In our financial situation, I must help out my husband, so I'm praying that these projects do lead to some income, so that I can quit my job, and work from home. It is a bit overwhelming, but I believe firmly that, like my pro-life activism, involvement in these activities enriches my family life. My girls are very involved in all this, I brought my oldest Gabbi to Hollywood (she's 14) for a movie premiere of a film about Down syndrome, Mr Blue Sky, and my middle daughter Isabella (age 10)and youngest Christina (age 5) accompany me to other events and social gatherings,( many of them in New York City, which they love).

We meet with fellow homeschoolers twice a week for Tuesdays in the park, and Friday rosary/youth night, and my parents live an hour away, so there's my support and safety net.

I was happily anonymous at home for 15 years, homeschooling and working part time, but my frustration at lack of recognition from my boss at my teaching job, led me to start blogging(I've always wanted to be a writer) last October, and next October, I'm speaking at the Society of Catholic Social Scientists Conference on the impact of Catholic blogging. My life in the last 9 months is a testament to that impact.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Campaign to Keep Christ in Christmas

My Godmother, Kathryn Mansolill, is a dynamic woman who has, like so many of us, grown irate over how the name of Christ is forbidden from the celebration of Christmas. Unlike so many of us, however, she's doing something about it. Here's the blog I started with her, to organize her efforts to preserve . . . The True Meaning of Christmas. Make a visit, and get involved!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Baseball is as American as Apple Pie

And, according to Russell Shaw, it can be Catholic as well. Writing for Catholic Exchange, who produced the film "Champions of Faith: Baseball Edition" in conjunction with American Family Films, Shaw says,
"It blends from-the-heart interviews with men of simple eloquence with skillfully edited footage of what is, hands-down, America's most breathtakingly beautiful game.
It's the ballplayers — plus a manager and a coach — who supply the message here, speaking unaffectedly but with great impact in their own words. Names like Mike Piazza, David Eckstein, Jeff Suppan, Mike Sweeney, Jack McKeon, Rich Donnelly, and others who appear more briefly in the film will be familiar to fans. Less well known perhaps is that these are genuine men of faith. Watch the trailer here (don't be dismayed by having to fill out your contact information before viewing the trailer, it's well worth the effort).

Catholic Carnival 126

Is up at A Catholic Mom Climbing the Pillars. Go here to find out the true meaning of freedom, with her lovely photos, and closing prayer.

The Sunflower House is Waist High



I just can't convince Christy, for whom I grew it, to 'get inside'.

Isabella loves it, however. She helped me plant it last month. I wonder how much taller it's going to grow.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Grandma teaches the girls how to sew

I felt SO guilty when Isabella received a lovely little sewing machine a couple of years ago as a birthday gift from my Aunt Teresa. It's been collecting dust, because, I've discovered that sewing talent skips a generation in my family.
Mom sewed Kindergarten tutus, Easter dresses complete with matching coats, and ultimately my Gunnie Sax Prom Dress. She sewed a lovely traditional green Irish Colleen Dress, complete with white lace pinafore, which all three of my girls wore on their first St. Patrick's Day.
I used to help Mom cut out the patterns with electric scissors and I understand how to put them together, however I have no talent or patience for sewing. I sewed shorts, and one side was inside out. I sewed a flannel nightgown which self-destructed in a month. Enough, I said, I'm a shopper, not a seamstress.


So, last week, Mom took on the job of teaching the girls how to use a sewing machine, and here are the results; pink flowered curtains for their play house. Lovely!

My Birthday Cake

My birthday was simple, since I had an ear infection and stayed home with the family, yet full of love. My parents brought me a delicious Chinese Dinner. Francisco gave me Final Draft, the software program I will use to write my screenplay (more on that project later).
Isabella made me a card, with live flowers on it and a ribbon closure, in which she wrote, "Thanks for having many years teaching us the things we know, and we wish you many more years to come. Happy Birthday, Love, Bella and Christy".She included parts of drawings from Christy inside.
Gaby chose a gorgeous photo card of Wilmington Notch in the Adirondacks, and wrote, "Happy Birthday to a talented woman that is very dear to our hearts. May God give you special graces to carry out your work for Him. Love, Gabbi and Christina". She also gave me the best gift, a Spiritual Bouquet of 5 Hail Marys, 5 Our Fathers, and 10 Rosaries. There at the Camp, where there is daily rosary and mass, she should get a lot of those prayers said, so I'm going to be blessed. I am already blessed, aren't I?

Meme from Catholic Fire

From my dear friend Jean at Catholic Fire. Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following...They MUST be real places, names, things...NOTHING made up! If you can't think of anything, skip it. Try to use different answers if the Person before you had the same 1st initial. You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question. Now Go!

Your Name: Leticia

1. Famous singer/band: Lola Beltran

2. 4 letter word: love

3. Street name: Linden Street

4. Color: lilac

5. Gifts/presents: lingerie

6. Vehicle: Lamborghini

7. Items on a menu: linguine (I got that from Ratatouille)

8. Boy Name: Leonardo

9. Girl Name: Leslie

10. Movie Title: License to Wed (Robin William's new movie I won't be seeing, thanks to his recent Catholic bashing on the "Tonight Show")

11. Drink: lemonade

12. Occupation: lawyer

3. Flower: lilac

14. Magazine: Life

15. US City: Lincoln, Nebraska (home to my favorite bishop)

16. Pro Sports Team: Long Island Ducks

17. Reason for Being Late for Work: lost my briefcase

18. Something U Throw Away: letters asking for money

19. Things you shout: Love you!

20. Cartoon Character: Little Orphan Annie

Anyone who would like to be tagged, go ahead!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Morning Star Camp






Yesterday I drove 10 hours round trip to drop Gabbi and Bella at Morning Star Camp. What could induce a protective homeschooling mother to leave her precious daughters in the wilderness with a hundred strange girls?
Why Morning Star? Fear is such big part of society today. Young people are taught to be cautious for their body and soul, not only among strangers and in public, but even at school and among their own peers. Gone are the happy days of childhood, when summer meant a few months of wholesome fun in the sun. Nowadays, summer vacation activities can be more dangerous than life in the city streets. Making friends indiscriminately can often change an individual for the worse and require facing consequences of serious mistakes. To enhance your values, it is good to surround yourself with peers who have been raised by the same standards of Faith and Morals. By association and example this will have lasting effects on the young.So in order to create such a wholesome summertime experience for Catholic girls across the country, the Sisters, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, offer Morning Star Camp which they have directed for over twenty-five years. And yes, safe surroundings and good example do have a lasting effect on the young: Each year there is an overwhelming response from campers looking to return. When all the laughing and singing, swimming, canoeing, dancing, fun and games have been finished, parents will find their campers sunburnt and happy with new friends among the campers and Sisters. And what is more, they have a better knowledge and love of their Faith and the spirit to be able to stand up against the odds and say, “I am a Catholic…in everything I do.”
The hardest thing, to my surprise, wasn't leaving the girls behind, they were quickly absorbed into camp life, and nearly forgot to say goodbye. The hardest thing was NOT begging the sisters for a tent and staying myself.
Here's a slideshow from Morning Star Camp 2006. I can't wait to hear from the girls on Saturday.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Happy Birthday, Grandma, love, Christina

I'll even help you blow out your candles!
Can I have some ice cream cake now?