Monday, December 31, 2007

In honor of the Feast of the Holy Family

Here are our Christmas photos, which include little Christina being treated with oxygen in the hospital by Daddy, and her joyful return home on Christmas Eve to celebrate Christmas with her family. I am more grateful than words can express for our family. I am working to gather the words to describe our odyssey, so, for now, I will let these moving photos tell our story.
God bless all of you who prayed, keep them coming please, we have not yet gotten the all clear from her pediatrician, and viral pneumonia heals very slowly.

phatcatholic apologetics: The Holy Family: A Triple Threat

phatcatholic apologetics: The Holy Family: A Triple Threat

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New film whose star has Down syndrome

Opens Theatrically on February 1st 2008
Part of a Growing Campaign to Raise Awareness aboutPeople with Disabilities in Faith Communities
Praying with Lior, the profoundly moving and entertaining documentary about an extraordinary family, a boy with Down Syndrome and his Bar Mitzvah will open theatrically in New York City at the Cinema Village on February 1st, and at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles on March 14, and other cities throughout the Spring. It will also have a special preview screening at the New York Jewish Film Festival on January 15, 2008.
Shot over three years and focusing on the months leading up to Lior's Bar Mitzvah in 2004, Praying with Lior draws a riveting portrait of a high-functioning, quick-witted, friendly and sincere boy, who, as he proudly approaches manhood, is simultaneously "retarded" and, according to his many admirers, a "spiritual genius." The film offers a wonderfully illuminating window into how disability can strengthen a family and a community. In extensive media coverage in Philadelphia where the film was shot, Praying with Lior has already been hailed for encouraging greater inclusion in faith communities for persons with disabilities.
Praying with Lior is not just a documentary film for diverse audiences. It's also the centerpiece of an ambitious outreach campaign to change the way people with disabilities are perceived and received by faith communities.
Over 54 million Americans are disabled. Less than half of our houses of worship are handicapped accessible. This number alone speaks to the abandonment of the disabled in faith communities. In a society that literally "worships" perfection and same-ness, individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities are dismissed and discriminated against everywhere. In the place where they should receive the most welcome and derive the most comfort -- their faith communities -- parents of children with special needs often hear "your child shouldn't be here."
Our goal for this film and outreach campaign is to create a sea change in the way we as a society value each individual. Lior's story presents a dramatic opportunity to demonstrate the contribution that every individual can make, no matter how "special" their needs are…or differently-abled. While society may view inclusion as the right or nice thing to do, Lior's example shows us that his presence actually enhances everyone else's religious experience. Lior's Bar Mitzvah is wonderful for him, but really, as one synagogue member says, "it's for us."
Almost nothing in our current culture has the power of film. In this climate, a film with humor, pathos, mysticism, and love about the impact of one youngster's spirituality, combined with a powerful outreach strategy can provide the impetus for enormous strides in understanding and systemic change. We hope that you will be part of our outreach campaign by spreading the word about this wonderful documentary.

I have asked to participate in the panel discussion after the Jan 15 showing in New York with the filmakers about the role of disabled individuals in the faith community. If I am invited, I will share my experiences here.

A true Christmas miracle

Read about what ethical stem cell treatments have done to bring the light of Christmas into a little child's eyes.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Photos from Las Posadas

I was only able to attend two nights of Las Posadas with my catechism class since Christina had to be hospitalized the week before Christmas. They continued without me.

Here are some of the pictures.

Feast of the Holy Innocents

The Holy Innocents:

These children were martyrs because they were killed as part of an attack on Christ.

Today, though opposition to Christ is not normally the intention of those who have abortions, it is nevertheless a central part of the efforts of those who deliberately and persistently work worldwide to assure that abortion remains legal.

Mockery of Scripture, Christians, the Church, and God himself is a common aspect of the beliefs, writings, and activities of radical abortion advocates. The children killed by abortion are the Holy Innocents of our day, and some theologians and other members of the faithful are studying and advocating for the possibility that the Church will claim these children as martyrs.

Fr. Pavone
For Further Study:Pro-life Homily for the Feast of the Holy Innocents click

The Hope of Salvation for Infants who die without being Baptised, by The International Theological Commission, click here.

Last year, my girls and I participated in the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal Pro-life march on the Feast of the Holy Innocents in New York City, and two lives were saved.

Here are the girls praying in front of the book where their three brothers in heaven names' are recorded, at the Church of the Holy Innocents in Manhattan.
This year, because of my little Christina's pnemonia, we cared for her where it's warm. I am so grateful to God to have my sweet daughter recovering slowly at home.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Catholic Illustrator's Guild

The Catholic Illustrator's Guild website has some lovely illustrations from Catholics.

Feast of St. John the Evangelist

My home parish is St. John the Evangelist, and to celebrate this feast and my Christina's cure from pnemonia, I'm trying to get out to adoration today. Jean has a lovely post on this saint, who was especially beloved to Our Lord.

My daughter Christina has been very ill lately

In my few spare minutes, as I rushed home to check on my older girls and grab a nap, I posted on her condition on Causa Nostrae Laetitiae. If you don't have the habit of reading that blog, you may have been wondering where I was. Here's an update on Christina. I have received pledges of prayers and help from all over the globe, and am overwhelmed with gratitude for my internet brothers and sisters in Christ.
I'm gathering my thoughts for a reflective post on all this, after Christina is out of danger completely.

When a family learns their child has Down syndrome

"There is no way this blessing in our lives wasn't going to come for either one of us," Laurie said. However, dealing with the reality of how this baby was going to change their family, was tough. "I had a very difficult time living and trying to figure out how to handle dealing with it," Laurie said. "There was nothing I could do to have prevented it and there was nothing I can do to fix it." It took time, but eventually with the help of family and friends, Laurie's baby became someone to celebrate.
As Ryan and Laurie have learned already, this baby wasn't going to follow anyone's plan. Savannah Hope arrived a couple of days early and in the middle of the night. "We're being entrusted with such a special child that will have a great dynamic in our home and with our family," Laurie said, "that's priceless, I'm so grateful for that."
Here's the entire story.
The Brownback Kennedy bill would give families like this the education and support they need, right when they need it, in case they are too distraught to seek it out, or don't know where to turn. Stories like these should serve as an impetus to help get the bill out of committee this January, and onto the Senate floor for a vote.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Advent/Christmas edition of Dappled Things is up

Read it here. I have a modern version of "A Christmas Carol" underway, which I might have ready for next year's "Dappled Things".
Such is the homeschooling writer's life!

Urgent prayer request

A woman whose name I don't know has an appointment on December 21 to have her baby, who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome killed by abortion.Please pray with me to St. Peter Canisius, whose feast day it is, for a change of heart, and a life saved.

Movement of the Kennedy-Brownback Bill

“Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act” (S. 1810)
To read the bill go here.
NDSC and NDSS have been following this bill, the “Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act,” S. 1810, since its introduction in 2005 and successfully promoted improved language that was included in the latest version which was introduced in July, 2007. We have been informed by Senate staff members that Senator Edward Kennedy (D.MA) and Senator Sam Brownback (R.KS) are scheduling a briefing for the other members of the Senate Health Education Labor Pensions (HELP) Committee on January 16, 2008, the second day of the next Congressional session. The HELP committee has jurisdiction over this bill.
After this briefing, a date for a “mark-up” has been scheduled for January 23rd. The mark-up is a process that takes place in committee when a piece of legislation is analyzed section by section and changes are made, if necessary. Generally, the bill then can be brought to the floor for a vote or attached to another piece of legislation that is moving through Congress. Throughout the various stages, Governmental Affairs staff members will be closely monitoring the proposed legislation.

NDSC and NDSS are working closely with congressional staff members to facilitate the movement of the legislation. Please pay close attention to future recommendations for action made in Newslines and Alerts. The timeliness of your advocacy efforts at that point will be critical. We will keep readers informed so the membership can advocate at a time when their contacts will have the greatest impact.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Funny Homeschool video

Is here. What a great job this beautiful BIG family did! I wish I knew who they were!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The O Antiphons

Monday we begin the O Antiphons, as we begin the last eight days before Christmas. A good deal of information is available at Fisheaters.
These are titles of Christ, and as we pray the O Antiphon each day, we add the corresponding cube to the box.

Here's the O Antiphon House craft I did last year, when they were all the rage on the 4Real Blogs. There's a post explaining them at O Night Divine.

The Water Horse

Isabella wrote a story for "The Water Horse; Legend of the Deep" essay contest. We're going to the film's preview on Tuesday, and I'll review it before it's out on Christmas Day.
See the trailer here.

A miracle from St. Nicholas

There's a beautiful story over at the Family Centered Life about a miracle which came through the intercession of St. Nicholas, from Bishop Rhoades of Harrisburg, PA.

The Night of Las Posadas

Last night we read this book to prepare for today's beginning of Las Posadas with my catechism class.
Tomie de Paola tells the story of the tradtional procession of Las Posadas which takes place in Santa Fe (Spanish for "Holy Faith") New Mexico.
It has a surprise ending which makes it one of the girls' favorite Christmas stories.
You can buy it here.

A visit from St. Nick

My neighbors play Mr. and Mrs. Claus at the local firehouse each Christmas. We saw them loading up on the sleigh in the street in front of our house when Isabella was in the midst of a bad asthma attack in the beginning of December.
Last Sunday, they surprised us, and popped over for a visit, to the delight of Isabella.
What a thoughtful gesture it was!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Guess who's in "Faith and Family" magazine?

In the January/February issue, my friend Lisa Mladinich was interviewed on her powerful reversion to the Faith from a worldly career in acting in "Acting Up", and Lisa has written a piece on suggestions for catechists, "The Greatest Show on Earth". Go and visit her website which describes her "Paradox Puppets". Her puppets scripts are great catechetical tools and have been used by thousands of catechists. She has great plans to offer resources to catechists in the works, and I'm involved, but more on that later. . .

I have a piece in the article "Delightful Destinations: Faith & Family's 2008 Family Vacation Guide" on pilgrimage, cultural and fun destinations in New York on page 87. The photo of Cedar Point County Park was taken by yours truly, on a Labor Day weekend camping trip.

The Vatican is seeking spiritual mothers for priests

Three people have sent me this link, so I think it's time to post on it! I have always prayed for priests, especially in Eucharistic Adoration. Our adoration group prays a special vocations prayer each week when we lift up the three seminarians from our parish. We consider them our special spiritual sons, as well as those priests in our parish. Our priests are under continual attack, and need our prayers, so this Advent, let's give Jesus a Christmas gift and pray for our priests.
Here is a booklet with some suggestions.
Sr. Briege McKenna along with Fr. Kevin Scallon have long had a ministry of intercession for priests.


Jesse was the father of the great King David of the Old Testament. He is the first person mentioned in St. Matthew’s gospel outlining the genealogy of Jesus. In Church art a design developed showing the relationship of Jesus with Jesse and other biblical personages. This design showed a branched tree growing from a reclining figure of Jesse. The various branches had pictures of other Old and New Testament figures who were ancestors of Jesus. At the top of the tree were figures of Mary and Jesus. This design was used mostly in stained glass windows in some of the great medieval cathedrals of Europe. The Cathedral of Chartres (which was dedicated in 1260) has a particularly beautiful Jesse Tree window. Another development in religious art during the Middle Ages was that of Mystery Plays--drama that depicted various Bible stories or lives of Saints and Martyrs. These plays were performed in churches as part of the liturgical celebrations. One such play was based on the Bible account of the fall of Adam and Eve. The "Tree of Life" used during the play was decorated with apples. Quite possibly this is also the forerunner of our own Christmas tree.
Perhaps inspired by the stained glass Jesse Tree window and the Tree of Life from early Mystery Plays, the Jesse Tree is known to have been in use in Catholic homes during Advent since at least the 1950’s to help families prepare for Christmas by truly celebrating the meaning of Advent. This information is from
To make a Jesse Tree, a bare branch (as opposed to the evergreen Christmas tree) is placed in a flowerpot inside the home, and each day, an ornament is added which represents a different prophecy or ancestor of Christ. The appropriate Scripture verse is read and the family prays a short prayer. The first symbol is Creation, then the apple of Adam and Eve, and the last is the Baby Jesus, and in-between Noah’s Ark, the blood on the doors at Passover, the Ten Commandments, Joseph’s coat of many colors, the Cross, the Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph, among dozens of others.
Last Monday, the second day of Advent 2007, in Melville, NY, fifteen Long Island families gathered to share in this ancient tradition. They were organized online via a Yahoo group called IHM (Immaculate Heart of Mary) which is a group of Catholic women on Long Island, most of whom homeschool their children. Leticia Velasquez, the homeschooling mother of three girls, had been inspired by a recent magazine article in “Faith and Family” magazine entitled, “A Jesse Tree for the Rest of Us” (Nov/Dec 2007) to organize the party. The article described the author’s frustration trying to keep this tradition with her own family using the lackluster pre-made ornaments which are available. She outlined a plan for families to organize a Jesse Tree ornament swap, where each family would make enough copies of an ornament, for each family to bring one of each home. At the party, each family would pick up one of each of the 24 ornament types, much like a Christmas cookie swap. Since Advent varies in length each year, there may be any number of ornaments available for any given day, and the goal is to build up your collection year to year, eventually incorporating all of the “family” and/or prophecies. One place to start might be the free downloadable resource available from the magazine’s website at under “Resources”.

To enrich the experience of the Jesse Tree swap, Leticia invited Mrs. Patricia Bissex and Miss Lynn Wilson, authors of the “Catholic Family Living” series of books on the history of feast days in the Catholic Church with practical suggestions on how to live them with your family. Mrs. Bissex, a Massachusetts native, has homeschooled her all of her 7 children, and her books are replete with the practical lessons she developed for her family to “keep” the Advent season. For instance, since in this first week of Advent, Catholics celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas, Mrs. Bissex outlined age-appropriate ways in which an older child could do a report on the saint’s life, while a younger child could do various art projects representing the popular saint, keeping the entire family on a theme and really living Advent to the fullest. Mrs. Bissex explained that Christmas was actually forbidden in Great Britain after the Reformation, and this ban extended on to many of the American colonies. By the Victorian era, however, German-born Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, brought his native custom of the Christmas tree to England and Christmas celebrations experienced a revival. For more of her ideas and inspirations, please see the bibliographic note at the end of this article.

Miss Wilson, who is a lifelong teacher and catechist, worked with the children to make several simple crafts while the parents were free to enjoy the presentation. Among the symbolic “hand-works” created that afternoon was a simple tissue paper and pipe-cleaner red rose representing the Blessed Mother whose Immaculate Conception we celebrate in Advent, and a simple stained glass window image of a candle printed on transparency film to decorate and display in the home as a light to welcome the Child Jesus, as well as a clay stump-and-leaf representing the root of Jesse prophesied in Isaiah 11:1 “1 But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

The excitement mounted when the ornament exchange took place, and the creativity and beauty of the ornaments, made with the help of the children, were truly extraordinary. No two families’ styles were alike, and the Jesse Trees which will emerge from this gathering will teach the children of these families how to anticipate Jesus in the days of Advent, while meeting many of His ancestors in the reading of the Old Testament passages they represent. Little hands which fashioned the ornaments will take extra pride in placing them on the Jesse Tree as their anticipation of the birth of Jesus builds day after day this Advent. See the slideshow of the event here.
“The Catholic Family Living Series” books may be purchased by contacting Miss Wilson at, or by sending a check for $25.00 made payable to Patricia Bissex, to Lynn M. Wilson, P. O. Box 432, Huntington Station, NY 11746.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Memory Keeper's Daughter update

Raising Joey has an article about the upcoming film for Lifetime Channel, "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" which features characters with Down syndrome. We helped recruit an actress to play the baby girl for this movie, filming in Nova Scotia.
Here's a bit of the plot, from the best-selling book by Kim Edwards.
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter tells the story of a doctor who is forced to deliver his own twins during a paralyzing winter storm. The son is born healthy, but the daughter has Down syndrome.
Hoping to spare both his wife and himself the pain of a special needs child, the doctor asks his nurse to take the daughter to an institution. He tells his wife she died. However, the nurse doesn’t have the heart to abandon the girl, named Phoebe, and raises her on her own in a different city.

Down syndrome Christmas Party

Christina had lots of fun at our local Down syndrome group Christmas party.
Here she is playing ball, duck-duck-goose,and eating. The party was full of acceptance and love, it was wonderful!

Now THAT'S a Nativity Scene!

Go and see what Lisa does with her family every Advent at Are We There Yet?

Book give away

All week, Catholic homeschooling author Maureen Wittman is giving away books to anyone who sends in their address to celebrate the release of her new book, "For the Love of Literature".

Monday, December 10, 2007

My sister Down syndrome bloggers

Barbara has the most beautiful slide show of 88 moms with their children of enhanced chromosomes on "Mommy Life". It's a delight.

A video for Christmas:

I plan to order this film, which came out last year and is available on DVD.
It's called Christmas at Maxwell's, and looks Catholic-inspired. Here's a review from Peggy Moen of The Wanderer, who begins, "If you have time after going to see Bella in the theaters and watching It's a Wonderful Life at home, you might also want to see Christmas at Maxwell's, now available on DVD. "
Watch the trailer here.

What to get them for Christmas

Vicki Forman at Special Needs Mama has a column about some of the pain a special needs mother feels at Christmas time. As always, her writing evokes feelings in me which I wasn't aware of; the reason I'm having difficulty buying Christmas toys for Christina.
First of all, she can't voice her wants. My older daughters had no problem at her age, and neither did I; the Sears Wish catalogue arrived in September and was well worn by October.
My little brother even gave a running total and page numbers on his wish list to help Santa.

Second, I ran a day care from my home, leaving us with a great selection of toys for pre-schoolers. We have one of absolutely everything: toy kitchen, crib, stroller, table, soft balls, blocks, instruments, legos, puzzles, stringing beads, dress-up clothes, stuffed animals, tea sets, play farms, doll house, stacking blocks, etc. So, what's the problem, you say, think of the money you'll save. If she doesn't have a list, she can't be disappointed. I wish it were so simple, but it isn't.
The real problem is that Christy hasn't outgrown toys as quickly as her sisters, and that hurts. She seems to be stuck in perpetual toddlerhood, watching the same videos with Barney and Elmo, playing endlessly with her floppy dolls, reading her stacks of board books, and singing to herself in her private games, which I, as an adult may not join. She hasn't developed as quickly as her peers in many ways, and I think I'm used to it, but, somehow, Christmas shopping brings this sharply to light. And it evokes new pain at her delays.
I am stumped for new ideas. I searched a Montessori website, and asked her therapists for ideas, being careful not to duplicate the toys they use, as she might grow tired of them. They recommend an adaptive tricycle which I will buy for her birthday in March, and a puppet theatre for now, which my folks will be getting her. I'm stuck on what we should get her from us.
Do any of you have any ideas what to buy?
Dream Mom has a list here.

Christmas Meme

Jean said I could tag myself for this Christmas meme, and I discovered that I had done this last year. Our traditions haven't changed since them.
1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider?
I love hot apple cider, but the girls usually opt for the hot chocolate.
2. Turkey or Ham?
3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree?
Real, right down Main Street at my friend Henry's tree farm
4. Decorations on the outside of your house?
We hang a lighted star at the peak of our house, and our bushes are covered with white lights, there are icicle lights on the gutters in front, and a blue spotlight on my simple nativity scene.
5. Snowball fights or sleddin'?
We like sledding down the hill to (and hopefully not in) the lake.
6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping?
There's only one shop downtown that enjoys my little Christina, discounted ladies clothes make great bargains, they play retro Christmas music (Bing Crosby) and proudly advertise, "Jesus is the Reason for the Season". That's the only store I visit.
7. Favorite Christmas song?
Gesu Bambino, written by the organist of St. Patrick's Cathedral. I still have to learn the words to this beautful carol.
8. How do you feel about Christmas movies?
I love "Going my Way", "It's a Wonderful Life" and now "The Nativity Story" will become one of our family traditions as well.
9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?
When Advent begins, we begin learning to sing and play Christmas carols, but I try to avoid Christmas music before Thanksgiving.
10. Stockings before or after presents?
After, when the hysteria dies down.
11. Carolers, do you or do you not watch and listen to them?
We have never had any in our neighborhood, but I intend to remedy that this year!
12. Go to someone else's house or they come to you?
They usually come here. We love our home so much on Christmas, it's hard to leave.
13. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when?
Before bed on Christmas Eve.
14. What do you do after presents and dinner?
Get my Godfather, Uncle Al, to start telling his colorful stories about growing up in New York City in the old days. He had us all rolling last year!
15. What is your favorite holiday smell?
The Christmas tree when you first bring it indoors.
16. Ice skating or walking around the mall?
Neither! I can't skate, and malls aren't as much fun as they used to be.
17. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day?
We make our kids wait for their gifts from us until Christmas morning. We open presents with Grandparents on Christmas Eve, so they aren't too overwhelmed on Christmas Day.
18. Favorite Christmas memory?
My brother Bill and his son Mike from Florida arrived on Christmas Day at my home just ahead of a big snowstorm (Mike was 6, and it was his first). He was delighted to be snowed in at our house, and spent the entire next day sledding with his cousins.
19. Favorite Part about winter?
Enjoying a fire in our fireplace, while looking out at snow falling at night.
20. Ever been kissed under mistletoe?
Nope, but I keep hanging it up in hopes that my dh gets the hint!
O.K. I guess if you read this far, you've been tagged.

Down syndrome figures in a nativity scene

I came upon this amazing closeup of a 1515 Flemish Nativity, which is displayed in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It includes two individuals with Down Syndrome in the picture, one above, as an angel, and one between the Madonna and the kneeling angel at the manger.
The writer of the article, which I will link to when I find it, extrapolated from this, that people with Down Syndrome were simply incorporated into society in the Rennaissance.
Fascinating, isn't it?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Immaculate Conception

Ruth at Just Another Day in Paradise has a heavenly post on the Immaculate Conception. Her family was recently blessed with a delightful early Christmas gift from heaven; a new baby!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Good review of "The Golden Compass"

Jeffrey Overstreet has a good review of the movie stirring up all the controversy at my other blog. Keep your children far away from Pullman's poison!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Calling young homeschool writers

Write a Story, Win a Trip to Scotland
The Water Horse: The Legend of the Deep is Walden Media's contribution to this season's holiday films -- opening on Christmas Day.
It is a delightful fictional story about the origins of the Loch Ness monster. Kathy Davis reviewed the Dick King Smith novel (also the author of Babe: The Gallant Pig) in a recent issue of "The story is charming -- an all around perfect family read. The characters are entertaining, and Crusoe is as cute as any new puppy -- a far cry from the reputation kelpies have in Scottish folktales. It's a good thing water horses are only a myth, as after reading this tale, young children are certain to want one of their own!'

Walden Media has adapted The Water Horse to the big screen(view trailer here) -- which ought to be a great family movie."Now homeschools can join schools, libraries, and other organizations as they celebrate the mystery and magic of The Water Horse.
Students across the country will tap into their imaginations to create "eyewitness" reports of Crusoe, the water horse. Imagine if this mysterious sea creature were to visit your community on Tuesday, December 11. Where would you bring Crusoe? What would you do?

Students are invited to write short stories about their day with Crusoe to submit to Walden Media as part of "A Day in the Life of the Water Horse Student Writing Contest," to win a screening of "The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep" for up to 200 people.
Stories must be received by December 17, 2007.

Teachers, librarians, principals, educational paraprofessionals, district professionals, after school leaders, and registered homeschool parents can sign up for a sweepstakes to win a trip for two to Scotland, courtesy of VisitScotland, Scotland's Official Tourist Board.
Go to to find out how you can participate today!

Amazing Grace

"And a little child shall lead them".

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My review of Enchanted

Can be read over at Mercatornet.

Feast of St Nicholas

Here's a post from last year. This year, the girls and I are reading the first book on the display past the candle, "St Nicholas the Wonder Worker", and of course, there were sweets in their shoes this morning! Elizabeth has a great post on St. Nicholas today.

My dear friend Tracey has set up her wonderful St. Nicholas mantel, and I thought you'd like to see where she found these treasures.
1. St. Nicholas cookie cutter
2.a tiny St. Nicholas rubber stamp (in front of candle stick) "St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker " by Anne Newberger
4."St Nicholas, The Real Story of the Christmas Legend" by Julies Stiegmeyer
5.Statue of St. Nicholas from
Leaflet Missal Company
6.Fr. Lovasik Saints Series, Book 4, St. Nicholas
7.Metal St. Nicholas statue with prayer card

8.Picture on wall over clock: Coloring book page from a coloring book of St. Nicholas
9. Pamphlet about St. Nicholas
10.Tracey's daughter Veronica traced a picture of St. Nicholas on a shrinky-dink and then baked in the oven, and glued it to a pin backing, a custom-made St. Nicholas pin!
10. Statue of St. Nicholas
11."The Saint Who Became Santa Claus" by Evelyn Bence
12. stained glass image of St. Nicholas
13. "The Miracle of St. Nicholas"
14.prayer card from the Ukraine
15. Baker's Dozen St Nicholas Tale retold by Aaron Shepard: a story about how baking St. Nicholas cookies led to our expression, "baker's dozen"
16.St. Nicholas faux stone statue
Thank you Tracey for sharing this varied and beautiful collection. She also reminds us not to
forget the CCC cartoon video, "Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa".

A great blog to follow

I have discovered a lovely blog, Dei Gratia, By the Grace of God by Michelle, a homeschooling mom of seven who has had a visit from St. Nicholas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A White Advent

We had a dusting of snow on Long Island which caused big traffic snarls which delayed our arrivval to Mass, as two major highways were closed.
The snow, however was great for a first day of Advent where the nativity scene at my parent's home looks charming. It would be wonderful to have just a snowfall on Christmas Eve, without the road closings. Isabella always looks up to the sky for snow on Christmas Eve, just as I once did. Some things never change.

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's time to vote for your favorite homeschool blog

If you enjoy my other blog, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, please vote for me for the best political/social commentary blog or the best business/curriculum blog at the Homeschool Blog Awards.
I would appreciate your support, and I am deeply honored by this nomination. My readership there has grown tremendously lately, and I hope to make a difference for the babies in the upcoming elections.
Thank you to all those who are loyal readers, your comments are very much appreciated. Voting ends December 15.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Advent begins

We began the season of Advent early this morning fighting a snowstorm to get to Latin Mass where Gabbi was to sing in the schola. We were diverted as the highway was shut down, and attended the Novus Ordo instead. The homily, by the deacon, about the true meaning of Christmas, was inspired and so were the lovely Advent hymns, "O Come Divine Messiah", "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel", and "People Look East".
Gabbi, Christy and I baked Christmas cookies at my parent's home, and showed them our Jesse Tree ornaments. I was inspired by an article in "Faith and Family" magazine, "A Jesse Tree for the Rest of Us", and have organized a Jesse Tree ornament swap among my friends here on Long Island, as well as an Advent workshop where we will learn some other wonderful customs to keep Christ in Advent, and teach our children to prepare the way of the Lord in this most beautiful season.
If you are looking for ways to help "Keep Christ in Christmas", go to my Christmas blog for ideas such as buying this nativity scene from the Knights of Columbus.

My friend Elizabeth has a lovely post here about her Jesse tree.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

One of my favorite hymns

HT Sr. Allie

Nativity Scene in Patchogue, Long Island

M. Philip Butler, an executive from Grucci fireworks, is featured
in an article in Newsday for having the dedication to set up this Nativity Scene, in downtown Patchogue, with the help of the following sponsors:
Knights of Columbus 725
Roe family
Jim Bermel Electrictrician
Jim DeLuca Tri-Del Solutions
Corner Stone Cafe
Frank Bosco
Carmine Frazese
Patchogue FD
Hagerman FD

Monday, November 26, 2007

Swimming lessons for Christina

Our Down sydnrome support group has had a month of free swimming lessons at the local YMCA. Christina progressed from clingy to independent in only four weeks. Look how happy she is here. Now she can tread water and even make a little forward progress in the water. Way to go, Christina!
Check out that serious swimmer by the stairs. He did 45 minutes of laps! He'll be a Special Olymipian in a year or two!

I'm swimming all by myself, Mom!

The Birth of Christ: Catholic Christmas Cantata

Another artistic venture by a Catholic is coming on the scenes. This time, it's a beautiful cantata written to honor the Christmas story based on the Gospel of St. Luke. Liam Neeson narrates scriptural passages. This is really a classy production and will be aired locally.

Here's a video clip:

Please promote this by tell friends and family. You can find when and where in the U.S. other PBS stations will be airing the concert at this link:

Productions like this (and Bella and The Passion of the Christ) are genuine improvements in the entertainment industry. The people involved are taking risks and they need to hear that this type of entertainment is wanted. So don't forget to call your local station to thank them for showing something of such great quality. Be sure to let them know you appreciate them showing something that pays wonderful tribute to the birth of Our Lord.

You can also listen to Raymond Arroyo interviewing the composer, Andrew T. Miller, (originally aired 11/23/07) by checking the archives of The World Over at

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Please pray for Hannah Cate

Hannah Cate is a little girl with Down syndrome from Georgia. She has been diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. I am asking for you to join with me in asking the intercession of Servant of God, Dr. Jerome Lejeune, for Hannah's healing. Here is a note from a friend of the family.
Thanks so much for agreeing to pray for my daughter's friend, Hannah Cate. John and Joan (my aunt and uncle) told me that the link I sent out didn't work. First, I think you have to "register" at the site, using this link Hannah Cate's site is here
I think the registration is to keep visitor accountability. She is having a real rough time right now, so we all truly appreciate your prayers. Please feel free to pass this on to any other prayer warriors you know! The more the better ;-)
As a fellow homeschooler, I hope I get to meet you sometime. The Collins family homeschools as well. Hope you have a truly blessed Christmas season. Thanks again for storming heaven with us...
Pat Fenner

Flying turkey surprise

Have you seen the ">Turkey commercial that folks are circulating this Thanksgiving?
Thanksgiving Dinner promised to be somewhat quiet, just my three girls and us over at Mom and Dad's house. Francisco asked to carve the turkey, which my father gladly surrendered, as he hates that job, and the fun began. The large turkey was precariously positioned on the counter, and when Francisco applied the right amount of pressure, the tray flipped the 20 pound bird off the counter for it's last flight, accross the kitchen!
The carver adroitly rescued the turkey from the waiting hounds, and offered that he had already carved off the best parts anyway. . .So, we ate what was already carved, and, well, no one was enthusiastic about the turkey leftovers this year.
Here, doggy. . .

Friday, November 23, 2007

How to get your catechism class engaged

Catholic Exchange has a great article on how to get your catechism class engaged in the Faith. I was pleasantly surprised to note that I already employ several of these techniques in my bilingual Spanish First Holy Communion Class, including:
1. beginning with a prayer and sometimes a hymn ( since I teach seven year olds, I have to teach the hymn before we can sing it. We are also learning the rosary in English (last year, they learned it in Spanish) and offer our own petitions each week.
2. Including personal examples from my life. This is easy, they are in my home, and opportunities to share are readily available.
3. Listen to their experiences, and incorporate them into the theme of the lesson. I can't count how many times I have used school and home examples from their own lives to illustrate "what God expects of us"(sin) and "how much God has give us and loves us" lessons.
4. Attend their functions. We try to attend the Spanish Mass at least once a month to keep in touch with the families. I am often invited to communion and graduation parties as the guest of honor. I always try to make it.

Something new for your wish list

The Kindle reader from Amazon. Now, all we need is one which reads to you. It would be great for the blind, the car, and for busy moms.

Congresswoman Kathy McMorris Rogers has a son with Down syndrome

She was interviewed in a video by CNN.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood. . .

Christina continues to do well in preschool, entering happily, participating in circle time and art and only missing Mommy a bit, near the end of the 2 1/2 hour class. Her teachers seem truly fond of her, and the other therapists in the public school have noticed a change in her attitude toward them. She is more open to learning with them. I hope for some real progress now that her attitude seems better.

Now, we head into Thanksgiving weekend, with something to thank God for, His guidance leading Christina into a loving and nurturing environment where she is accepted, and invited to grow.

I thank those of you who prayed for this intention, I was aware of your prayers, spread round the globe, all for a special little girl who is the joy of her family.
Speaking of preschool, Barbara Curtis has some inspiration from our favorite preschool TV host, Mr. Rogers. I have always sensed an emotional intelligence about Mr. Rogers. I believe that was the secret of his success for decades, despite being low on fancy sets, or exciting characters. My daughter won't watch just any show, but would watch Mr. Rogers patiently. I think she enjoys his calm, reassuring manner.

Remember to count your blessings this Thanksgiving

I always try to count our blessings with the children on the way to Thanksgiving dinner. Our health, our material bounty, our family, the safety of our country, homeschooling, and mostly our Catholic faith,which we try to practice in all it's glory, are our greatest blessings.

Do you do this with your family? Here is a meditation to help.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Christmas Angel Tree Project

Reece's Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Ministry promotes the international adoption and rescue of children with Down syndrome exclusively. Your generous support of this ministry over the last 17 months has already changed the course of the lives of (40) FORTY children with Down syndrome from 29 countries around the world!!!

*** (12) children are already home with their new adoptive families
*** (13) more children will be home before Christmas 2007
*** (15) more children are expected home between January and March of 2008!
*** (82) children on our website are still waiting for adoptive families to rescue them from life in a mental institution.

This is the perfect opportunity for YOU to change the course of an orphan's life!
By sponsoring a child today, you get to share in the joy of uniting families with very deserving children.
Give the gift of a "forever family" this Christmas to your choice of children in our Waiting Angels Gallery. They may never know you, but your generous sponsorship towards the cost of a family adopting them is the most profound gift they could ever hope to receive. Even if you are not in a position to adopt, you can still change a life!

Please visit our website for additional ways to help.
You can give online through Paypal, and are also welcome to send personal checks or money orders