Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Homemaking Meme

HT Barb, SFO Fridge and tagged from A Catholic Mom in Hawaii
1.ApronsYes or No? If Yes, what does your favorite look like? Sometimes, when I am doing some serious baking, I put on an apron I bought for my trousseau when I was 14 and dreaming about raising a family someday. It's in need of repair, Isabella wore it to look like an impoverished St. Germaine last All Hallow's Eve. I'm starting to get inspired to get a new one for National Wear an Apron Day!
2.Baking – My favorite things to bake are: breads, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, birthday cakes, and Irish Soda Bread....nothing like a hot slice of soda bread with melting butter and a cup of tea.
3. ClotheslineYes or No?No, and I miss it, but the dogs steal the clothes from the line! I enjoyed the outdoor experience of hanging the clothes out,especially in the spring, and the way they SMELL!
4. Donuts - have you ever made them? No. I'm afraid of deep frying!
5. One homemaking thing you do every day: I always empty the dishwasher, a job I hate!
6.Freezer – Do you have a separate deep freeze? No, wish I did.
7. Garbage Disposal Yes or No? No.Too scared of little hands!
8. HandbookWhat is your favorite homemaking resource? I pick up tips from my favorite bloggers.
9. Ironing – Love it or hate it? Or hate it but love the results? Yes to the latter.
10 Junk Drawer:Yes or No? Where is it? My whole desk is one big junk drawer.
11. Kitchen – Color and decorating scheme: I have designed my new kitchen after a troupe of little black labrador puppies buzz-sawed through my sagging, peeling, waterlogged 40 year old cabinets(nice doggies!)
It's got natural cherry cabinets with a peach colored tile floor, and a colonial blue walls, with a big print of the shoreline of Lake Como on the wall, that makes it Tuscan.
12. Love – What is your favorite part of homemaking? Teaching the girls to be good housekeepers, and cooking together for holidays.
13.Mop – Yes or No? Yes, and I do enjoy it!
14.Nylons – Wash by hand or in the washing machine?In the washer, in a lingerie bag, but I dry them on the line. Alright, sometimes I wash them in the bathtub with me a la Crocodile Dundee!
15. Oven – Do you use the window or open the oven to check?I open it up.
16.PizzaWhat do you put on yours?I like very thin sliced peppers and onions, extra cheese, and sliced canned mushrooms if I have any.
17.QuietWhat do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?I either read or check my favorite blogs.
18. Recipe card box – Yes or No? What does it look like? It's a pretty cream colored card box with a fruit pattern. I have recipes dating back to my Nana who died in 1971 (Italian sauce, etc.)
19. Style of house – What style is your house? A 1960's cedar-shingled, expanded Cape Cod house, with no front dormers, but a large back dormer and attached garage. It has stained moldings and wood floors upstairs and down, I've added a fireplace and opened the walls in the back of the house to help the flow a bit from kitchen to dining room to homeschool classroom.
20. Tablecloths and napkins – Yes or No?Paper napkins, cloth placemats.
21.Under the kitchen sink – Organized or toxic wasteland?Organized once it gets out of control, but usually it tends toward toxicity!
22. Vacuum – How many times per week? I'm blessed with two daughters who fight to be able to vacuum.
23. Wash – How many loads of laundry do you do per week?At least 6 times a week
24. Do you keep a daily list of things to do that you cross off? When it's crunch time, like an upcoming event or holiday.
25.YardYes or No? Who does what? My dh does the grass and the vegetable garden, I'm in charge of the Mary garden, and the flower beds, the poor girls get dog poop patrol!
26. Zzz’sWhat is your last homemaking task for the day before going to bed? Set the coffeemaker up in case I'm too lazy to get up with my dh the next morning.
Want to play? Let me know in the comment box.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm doing better than I thought teaching Bible history to Gabby!

You know the Bible 93%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Take the Bible Quiz: I did!

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

ABC's of Child Raising

HT A Catholic Mom in Hawaii
She found this Ann Landers column amoung her things. A real treasure.

Monday, January 29, 2007

"Educate Children in Beauty" says Pope Benedict

The Holy Father has just said we must educate children in beauty. He calls for parents to be guardians of children's use of the media. This reinforced my desire to do a good job home educating Isabella, Gabriela, and Christina this week. It's nice to know the Pope understands the importance of our work as homeschooling mothers, to keep the coarseness of the media from robbing our children's innocence and corrupting their natural inclination to seek the beautiful, turning it into a lurid fascination of the sensational, which is too common in society.

Housecleaning tips for moms who are busy blogging

HT A Catholic Mom in Hawaii
Many frazzled homeschooling moms ask me how I get time to go on the internet and blog, and I ask them if they've seen my house lately.
I tell them that, for my sanity, sometimes, blogging more and sweeping the floor a bit less is beneficial. Don't ask my husband's opinion on this!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Finding Meaning in a Mother's Suffering

One of my favorite bloggers, Karen Edmisten has a terrific post about the feast of Candlemas, which we celebrate Friday, and the loss of children which so many mothers have experienced. Why on this feast? Because, as proud as Mary and Joseph were to present their Son in the temple, and have Him acknowledged as the Son of God, Simeon's prophecy cut through their happiness like the sword that would part Mary's heart at the crucifixion. Would Mary ever know true peace of mind after that? Soon they were fleeing for their Son's life into Egypt. Her happiness was really the joy of communion with God, and not attachment to the circumstances in which she found herself.
As mothers, we will encounter heartbreak at the most unexpected moments, and we must turn out eyes toward Heaven, and offer it as a gift of love to our Loving Father. That way, not a tear of ours will ever be wasted, but will be joined with the suffering of Christ's Passion, and bear fruit in the salvation of this sinful world.

Mater dolorosa, ora pro nobis.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Great Minds Think Alike

I usually go online after everyone has gone to bed, as do many of you, from the traffic I see on my blog(which has tripled in the past two days of my March for Life coverage, thanks!).
Last night, I was sneaking downstairs to write an endorsement for Senator Brownback from the perspective of a Catholic mother of a special needs child. I often get ideas during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and try and write them down as soon as possible afterwards, before I forget them, however, Christina, and began to cry before I had a chance to write, so I went upstairs and fell asleep with her.
This morning, I found some traffic from Students for Brownback on Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, my political blog.They had already found my endorsement there, and posted it on their website.They highlighted, as has the Washington Post, and People for the American Way, Senator Brownback's mention of Christina in his talk at Bloggers for Life.
So, in her own small way, Christina has become a voice for the voiceless, the unborn Down Syndrome child who has an 80% chance of being aborted. This is even more urgent since the ACOG(American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have recommended that all pregnant mothers receive a new type of screening for Down's, which will result in some to the 20% who survive being aborted. You go, Christina!
Senator Brownback has garnered the endorsement of Fr. Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life, Dr. Alveda King of Silent No More, and Dominoes Pizza magnate, and Ave Maria University Founder, Tom Monaghan. I am honored to join such august company in endorsing Sam Brownback for president!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My March for Life 2007 Slide Show

Is now available, with many other videos of the March on YouTube.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What did Christina Do to Upset the ACOG?

During my discussion with Senator Brownback, he reccommended George Will's article on pre-natal testing for Down Syndrome babies. He has a son with Down's and often writes about him in his Newsweek column.

Generations for Life Encourages Youth to get Pumped for the Pro-life Cause

Go and see Generations for Life post on how excited the young people are on the March for Life, and how they can bring that enthusiasm home with them to make a difference in their schools.

More Photos from the March for Life

A lady from Virginia is trying to organize homeschoolers into a pro-life group. The website is I told her we are mostly active in pro-life here on Long Island, but not as a unified group. It's something to consider, as it would send a powerful message about homeschooling.
Christina was so cold (we were mostly inside, and only ventured out for an hour of the March) but she reached out to Sr. Katherine of the Sisters of Life, whom we see regularly. We marched with them in Manhattan on the Feast of the Holy Innocents.
This young man was handing out literature for my friend Sam Brownback and needed a hat and pair of gloves desperately. I told him he was in good company.
Isn't this a striking photo with the Blessed Mother next to him?
I wonder if it's a sign?!

Fr. Thomas J. Euteneuer of Human Life International was waiting to be interviewed by EWTN, when I asked him to pose for this photo. He gave me permission to use his weekly email on my blogs. He is a tireless crusader for the rights of the unborn.

Susan Andrews Brindle and her sister. She is the sister of pro-life activist Joan Andrews Bell, and has written the series of children's books, "The Catepillar Who Went to Mass", and "The Preborn Christ". I told her I marched with Chris Bell her brother-in-law(Joan's husband) and son in New York. Pro-life people get to be a big family in the trenches, and this is our family reunion.

My March for Life 2007 Slide Show

Is here. Go see more photos and commentary at Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, my other blog.

You Gotta Love this Man!

I just HAD to meet Senator Sam Brownback, whose career I have followed since he converted to Catholicism in 2002, after he worked on awarding the Congressional Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa (reading their works made him want to be a Catholic).
When he and Ted Kennedy worked together to inform pregnant mothers whose unborn child had Down Syndrome about their potential for fulfilled lives, so they wouldn't abort their babies, my respect grew, when he brought a lovely blonde model with Down Syndrome to the Samuel Alito hearings as a testament to the tragedy of the lives taken by Partial-Birth Abortion, I admired him more, but, when he made friends with Christina, and talked about her in his speech at the Bloggers for Life Conference yesterday, I was completely sold. He is a sincere, articulate, intelligent pro-life hero, who deserves our full support in the next presidential election. He represents Catholic morality proudly without shame, and knows how to get elected when the chips are down.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Living Lives of Loveliness Fair

It's my first Living Lives of Loveliness Fair! Go to Living Without School and see what we resolved to do for our New Year's Resolutions. It's nice to have company when you're trying to overhaul your life!

Friday, January 19, 2007

New Years Resolutions are on Track

The girls and I have spent much of the last two weeks de-cluttering the house, and we are proud to announce we have recirculated ten boxes of our junk, someone else's treasure via our church thrift shop.
Just remind me not to go there for three months. Some long forgotten and neglected stuffed animal might be rediscovered, with cries of, " oh, I remember this bunny, this was OURS, can we buy it back, Mom?"

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I'm not the Pioneer Type

Jen, at As Cozy as Spring, has a funny post entitled, "If I were married to Pa Ingalls". As I re-read the Little House books with Isabella, some similar thoughts were coming to my mind. Now I can own them, and laugh!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Isabella wrote a letter from one of the Magi to Baby Jesus

Oh, my dear King who lies in a manger and thy surroundings so humble and pure, the gift that I bring is not fit for a King like Thee. A King whose Father created the earth, a King who brings peace to men of good will. A King who is praised as a tiny Child, and I've heard the angels sing praise over all the earth. This day I'll never forget because today, I have seen a King greater than me.

We Took Down the Christmas Tree Today

And my dh gave the girls a lesson they won't soon forget. He set the tree up in the yard, and set it on fire. What a conflagration! It was incredible how fast and how HOT it burned!
They agreed to be more careful about checking the water level next year.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

And So Did Gaby

Here is my gift, I lay at Thy feet,
Gold I bring for Thou art a King,
Thou art the Son of God,

Born in a stable so humble a place,
So gold I bring, for Thou art a King.

The Liberal Elite Discuss Homeschooling

PBS, no friend to home schooling had a show recently where it was discussed.It's reported by Lucky Severson in Religion and News Weekly.
HT: A Catholic in Steinbach
Here's the best quote from SEVERSON:
"As of now, churches seem reluctant to tell their congregations to put their kids in private or home schools. But even without that endorsement, the U.S. Department of Education acknowledges that home schoolers are growing ten times as fast as the general school age population."

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Two Lives have Ended in My Family

On my father's side, I come from a close extended Italian family. Most of us still live around New York City, and meet for baptisms, weddings, and wakes. Some cousins still get together socially in the summer, or go to Yankee games as a group. We have a tour of Yankee stadium planned for my Dad's 75th birthday later this month. We enjoy each other's company, and have loud, animated discussions punctuated with some Italian expressions whenever we're together. Most of us are better off than our parents, and I'd say most lean Republican. More than half, I'm afraid, have stopped attending Mass regularly. We are typical second generation Italian-American immigrants.

Great Aunt Anna
Recently, the clan met for the funeral of my great aunt Anna, who had just celebrated her hundredth birthday a few months earlier. Anna spent her most of her life caring for her disabled daughter, Cecilia, who is confined to a wheelchair. Her hundredth birthday party was a large, catered affair, and she was the queen of the day, with her snow white hair artfully done up in a French twist.
Anna's brother, my Grandfather, Vincenzo, was born in Pietrelcino, Italy, ten years after Francesco Forggione (whom we know as Padre Pio) was born there. They were baptized in the church of Santa Maria del Angeli, but, unfortunately, I have only this to prove that we might be related. Someday, I want to research this, and find a mutual cousin in that once obscure village perched, as my grandfather told me, "on the side of a rock, that's why it's called Pietrelcino".
Anna's life ended in triumph, as the matriarch of a large, happy, successful family who revered her, and needed her, even as her mind began to fail. Her funeral was packed with mourners, and she had a funeral Mass in the church she had attended for years.

Great Uncle Rocco
On my Italian grandmother Maria's side, there were 9 children, the first generation born in the US, in little Italy in Manhattan. Rocco was the youngest of the family, and since his mother died when he was three, was raised and babied by his father and older siblings. As a young man, he joined the Army(there was no Air Force yet) and became a pilot in World War II. Rocco was such a skilled pilot, he became an instructor upon graduation and never saw combat. Discharged honorably, he became a commercial pilot and lived the good life. Plenty of money went to his head, unfortunately, and he lived the life of an international playboy, with all the accompanying vices. He married and divorced the same woman twice, and had only one daughter. He was fun loving and generous, but was constantly in debt, and it ended his career as a pilot prematurely. The family lost touch with him.
One day, picking up my father at the local airport, a taxi driver was offering him a ride. It was uncle Rocco, but he didn't recognize my father at first. The years of alcoholism and dissolute living had certainly robbed him of his looks and zest for life. Through the years, my father's brother, uncle Frank took Uncle Rocco under his wing, feeling sorry for him, as he lived in boarding house, and had lost touch with his daughter. He brought him to family events, where he was not always welcome, due to his changed behavior while drinking. Rocco would always call his nieces and nephews at the end of the month, when the wine and cigarettes ran low, and they learned to avoid his calls.
I had Uncle Rocco over for Christmas and Easter, as he was my last living connection to my Nana, who died when I was 9. He was pleasant enough, though he drank heavily, and teared up when my girls presented him with home made Christmas cards. Uncle Rocco always wrote beautiful hand-written thank you notes that made me cry. His heart, despite everything, had remained tender. Sadly, he refused any kind of help to reform his life.
His last Christmas with us was tragic. Someone had mistakenly left a bottle of Scotch in front of him, and it was his undoing. He became loud and abusive, and demanded to go home, when the party was at it's height. My Goomba (slang for Godfather) Cosmo was in his Christmas storytelling mode, where he recounted with all the sound effects and Italian expressions, his adventure driving a horse and cart into Manhattan on Good Friday for pizza. The horse got away from Uncle Cosmo, and went on a wild ride, shattered the tailor shop window, and ended its wild ride by smashing into a police carriage. We love this story, and ask for it every year.
But Uncle Rocco raucously insisted on going home immediately.
My husband and I reluctantly took him home. He was completely wasted, nasty, and unable to walk. On his way into his apartment, he stumbled, though my husband had his arm around him, and gently let him collapse into a heap on the ground. Somehow in the melee, he had broken a bone, and for the next year, blamed my husband for it. When he entered the tiny, bare apartment, whose contents had been sold for liquor, it occurred to me that we couldn't leave him alone, as he was incapable of walking. I called the ambulance, and fought with him to make him go to the hospital. My poor daughters were wide-eyed in the car, watching this debacle. That was the last time I saw him.
Rocco was bounced back and forth during the next year from hospital to nursing home by social workers, who came to know him as one of the most difficult men they had ever worked with. They understood our refusal to take him in, as he was incorrigible. Finally came the news last Christmas, that he was, at age 86, dying of liver cancer. After several phone calls, I gave up on finding where he was, (in order to get him a priest for last rites) and I offered up the Divine Mercy novena so that in his dying moment, he would accept the mercy of Jesus, and die in a state of grace, as he had already lapsed into a coma.
He died this week, and as he was indigent, and his estranged daughter wouldn't come home to bury him, was left to charity for a burial. My aunt Assunta asked to be informed of when his funeral was, and they called a half hour before Uncle Rocco was to be buried in the military cemetery out east, where I live. I rushed to dress and pack up the girls for our last corporal act of mercy for Uncle Rocco, burying the dead.
The military ceremony which he had requested was attended only by myself and three daughters representing the family, two men he had roomed with, and an unidentified woman. It was touching to see the dignity of the two air force soldiers stand at attention, saluting his flag-draped coffin while taps was played. A priest read the spiritual meaning of the flag, and it was handed to me, Rocco's great-niece as the next of kin. We prayed the Our Father together, and went forward to take a rose from the flowers on his coffin, a tribute from his daughter as we offered some final prayers. A simple, yet dignified service for a complicated and tormented man. I will pray for his soul for years, to alleviate his suffering in Purgatory. I had begun to pray that he would die in a state of grace two Christmases ago, when I saw the kind of life his desperate soul had been leading.

While volunteering at the nursing home of the Little Sisters of the Poor,this advent, I attended Mass, and in his homily, the priest discussed our upcoming family Christmas celebrations, including "that relative we only mention in whispers, and only invite once a year, while we hide the liquor bottles". He asked us to be charitable to this relative. Be kind to your Uncle Rocco, he is what Mother Teresa called the poorest of the poor in your family, for the sake of Christ who loves the sinner.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Review of "Charlotte's Web"

Charlotte's Web is part of a happy memory of public school for me. I had a lovely teacher for 3rd and 4th grade, Mrs. Spolski, who read it to us, along with many other classics, like Stuart Little, Misty of Chincoteague and the Little House books, and to her I owe my great love of reading. So, when it came out as a movie, I knew I had to go see it.
The new "Charlotte's Web", has all the charm and magic one would hope, and is faithful to the story. I loved that it was set in the early sixties, when it was written, it had just the right touch of innocence.
And, oh, those special effects are so great! The new version seems so real, I almost found Charlotte cuddly, and I am nearly arachnophobic.
Isabella (age 9) and Christina (age 4) and I enjoyed Charlotte's Web tremendously. Christina sat at the edge of her seat much of the time, enjoying the antics of the animals, while Isabella loved the funny crows, who though not in the original story, do provide levity when the story gets emotional.
That, I think was the genius of Charlotte's Web, it's emotional depth, it was an allegory of growing out of innocence, leaving childhood fazes behind, and confronting some of life's difficult moments, like death, and parting.
Treat your family to it, you'll be amazed at the discussions it will bring up on the trip home!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm Thinking of moving my blog

To a new Catholic host, StBlog' It still needs a LOT of tweaking.
I like the idea of a Catholic community, due to some of the offensive blogs which sometimes come here via Blogger.
I don't like the idea of all the work involved, not the least of which is helping my readers to change any links they may have to Cause of Our Joy here, so I think I'll keep both blogs running to ease the transition.

Take a Look at Shaylee's Montage

She is as Sweet as Cherry Pie. I just can't get enough pictures of Down Syndrome kids!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

One More Soul

I have a post on the pro-life website, One More Soul, a resource for all things pro-life, and especially good for Natural Family Planning materials.

The Catholic Underground

I have wanted to get to the Catholic Underground since I first heard about them at the Friar Suppliers picnic last September. Friar Suppliers collect money, then purchase food and supplies to feed the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. I finally made it last Saturday, and was thrilled to pull up to the beautiful church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and see the Sisters of Life walking in. The church was in darkness, except for Our Lord in the Monstrance, and we spent an amazing hour singing "O Come Let Us Adore Him" and listening to meditations from one of the Irish friars. Confessions were ongoing, and the hour ended with Benediction.
After filing downstairs with the large crowd of younger New Yorkers, we were greeted by a band, pictured here, of Friars who surprised my daughter, as they really rocked!
We share coffee, and met some on fire Catholics, then listened to a talk by the producer of the film "Bella". He told of leaving a prosperous career as Latin American business mangaer at Fox studios to begin Metanoia Films (Greek for conversion). "I wanted to make films that if the Virgin Mary sat next to me during the screening, I wouldn't have to cover her eyes."
He described how the star, Eduardo Verastegui, the Mexican Brad Pitt wanted to make a film where Latino men weren't portrayed as gangsters or Latin lovers, so took part in the production of the film.
"Bella" came to the one of the producers as a sort of vision while driving from Arizona to LA, which left him wiping tears away as he drove. It was shot in 24 days in New York, while the producer and Verastegui stayed in the Friary, and attended daily Mass in the trailer. Catholic symbolism is interwoven throughout the film which is wholly pro-life (see review) but the producer Leo Severino(see picture) asked us not to call it a pro-life film, as that may limit it's audience.
It's artsy, colorful and emotionally complex, and not at all preachy, yet because it has a pro-life perspective, he's hoping it doesn't get labelled and sidelined.
Well, the audience at the Toronto Film Festival didn't think so. They gave it the People's Choice Award, over 3.499 other films, an honor shared by films such as "The Princess Bride" and "Life is Beautiful", who went on to win Oscars.
"Bella" is due for release in April, and there will be a premiere beforehand, which I will be attending. This sort of engaging the culture is just what Pope John Paul II encouraged us to do, as part of the New Springtime of Evangelization. Encourage your family and friends to see
"Bella", and watch the movie's haunting theme of unconditonal self-sacrificing love, and engaging Latin American culture, touch the hardest hearts.

Have a Good Laugh at the Christmas Antics

Of Mikala's toddlers at the Magdalen Diaries.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Catholic Carnival

Is up at Kicking Over My Traces, go over and spend some time with fellow Catholics.

Los Tres Reyes

Last night,to round out our Christmas lessons with the celebration of Epiphany, or in Spanish, Los Tres Reyes(The Three Kings) my First Communion Class went on a mini-pilgrimage 3 miles to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Island, in Eastport, NY to visit the life-size nativity which is so dramatic and realistic at night.
Here are all the Heavenly Angels, and here we all are at home in the stable with Baby Jesus, who has been adorned with many gifts from grateful pilgrims.
O Come Let Us Adore Him!

Monday, January 8, 2007

Why do I blog?

One of the most pressing reasons for starting this and my other blog, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, is to share the joy of mothering my daughter Christina, who has Down Syndrome. These children are so misunderstood, and I want my readers, by having a daily window into my life, to pass on the cause of my joy, having this special preschooler to caress my face, to giggle in the bathtub, to horse around with her sisters, to be Daddy's little girl, who never leaves his side, and to constantly amazes us with her progress in speaking, running, climbing, and understanding of her world.
Maybe that way, expecting moms who are given the news that they are carrying a child with Down Syndrome will see this, and decide to give life to them, and not be afraid. Here's a group of moms in Myrtle Beach, SC, who are organizing to do just that.
Some other great resources for parents faced with an adverse prenatal diagnosis are:
Prenatal Partners for Life, and Be Not Afraid. Please pass this information on to your friends who are pregnant, so that if they receive some frightening news, they don't have to face it alone. Prenatal Partners for Life has an original song entitled, "On the Road to Bittersweet" which I love, and dare you to listen to dry-eyed!

Friday, January 5, 2007

How to Foster Vocations in Your Children

I remember being a teenager and contemplating religious life. The Church was in turmoil then, before Pope John Paul, so looking back, I think it might have been providence that I chose marriage. My point is, however, when I joyfully told a priest in my parish that I at 14 thought I had a calling to religious life, he recoiled as if bitten by a snake, and muttered something about going to Mass and listening to God. Good advice, though I could have used a better reaction.

I'm trying to do a little better, by letting my girls see orthodox religious who are truly in love with their vocation, and the Lord, and stepping back and saying very little. They know they could come to me with questions about either vocation, and discuss it if they want.

Today, we watched the encore of "Life on the Rock", which features the delightful Sisters of Life. They described the lives they led before discovering their vocations, and how God led them to the sisterhood. One lady acted in "Sesame Street Live" as Grover, one was a cancer researcher who had a chance to embrace Pope John Paul during World Youth Day in Denver 1993, and the third was an avid mountain climber, who had trekked the entire Appalachian Trail. My girls were interested in the program particularly because we had just marched with them to protest abortion, and enjoyed adoration and a lovely buffet lunch afterward.

"That's the sister who asked if we were having turkey!" Isabella exclaimed as she recognized the sister who had embraced the Holy Father.

Feast of the Epiphany is Tomorrow: what will be your gift?

"Following the example of the Wise Men we adore the newborn King, and offer Him the gold of a loving heart, the frankincense of persevering prayer, and the myrrh of our readiness to labor and suffer for Him."

God Bless!!!

Jack & Joe

Keep the Party Going!

Thanks for Karen Edmisten's reminding that we are still celebrating the twelve days of Christmas. Go to Catholic Culture for ideas to round out your 12 days of Christmas celebration.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

This is a saint which many of us homeschoolers look to for inspriration.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a true daughter of the American Revolution, born August 28, 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence. By birth and marriage, she was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of high society. Reared a staunch Episcopalian by her mother and stepmother, she learned the value of prayer, Scripture and a nightly examination of conscience. Her father, Dr. Richard Bayley, did not have much use for churches but was a great humanitarian, teaching his daughter to love and serve others.
The early deaths of her mother in 1777 and her baby sister in 1778 gave Elizabeth a feel for eternity and the temporariness of the pilgrim life on earth. Far from being brooding and sullen, she faced each new “holocaust,” as she put it, with hopeful cheerfulness.
At 19, Elizabeth was the belle of New York and married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton. They had five children before his business failed and he died of tuberculosis. At 30, Elizabeth was widowed, penniless, with five small children to support.
While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth witnessed Catholicity in action through family friends. Three basic points led her to become a Catholic: belief in the Real Presence, devotion to the Blessed Mother and conviction that the Catholic Church led back to the apostles and to Christ. Many of her family and friends rejected her when she became a Catholic in March 1805.

To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore. From the beginning, her group followed the lines of a religious community, which was officially founded in 1809.
The thousand or more letters of Mother Seton reveal the development of her spiritual life from ordinary goodness to heroic sanctity. She suffered great trials of sickness, misunderstanding, the death of loved ones (her husband and two young daughters) and the heartache of a wayward son. She died January 4, 1821, and became the first American-born citizen to be beatified (1963) and then canonized (1975). She is buried in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
HT Catholic online

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

New Years Resolutions

Go over to Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, my other blog to read my New Year's Resolutions, so you can hold me accountable. (Thanks to Danielle Bean, who was brave enough to do it first!)

Monday, January 1, 2007

Loveliness of Motherhood Fair

A beautiful way to start the year is by reading the Loveliness of Motherhood Fair organized by Helen at Castle of the Immaculate.

Midnight Madness: the Girls celebrate 2007

My Mother Always Had Faith in Me

I want to tell you who is behind my new success as a writer. My mother is responsible for these blogs I write, and for my article being published in "Faith and Family" this spring. She has believed in my writing talent from the very beginning, and has waited nearly forty years, since I first began to write, to see me make something of it.

When I had a wonderful second grade teacher in public school, and began to come home with a notebook filled with Haikus and stories, my mother would make such a big deal of them! I wrote a collection of poetry in fourth grade with another wonderful teacher, about the different ages of man, youth, middle-age, and old age, which she still brags about. Early on, I felt that my talent was writing, and that I would go far.
Then came those difficult adolescent years, and not-so-wonderful teachers, they told me NOT to share my story about dying with the other students, as they might mock my work, and my inspiration died in me. But not in my mother, who still encouraged me to write, reminding me of the quality of my work, and my gift for expression of the deep thoughts of others. When mediocrity was celebrated around me, in the late 70's, and all that mattered was to act as if one were bored and turned off by everything in life, I wrote a journal and kept my faith and my idealism alive. Mom was there, encouraging me not to give up on myself.
When finally, I had had enough of the imposed mediocrity of my public high school, where no one cared if you could write, Mom brought me to her high school reunion at an all-girls convent school, and when I wanted to transfer there, she found the money to make it possible. My first paper was just a paragraph using the spelling words, but when I read it in class, the girls cheered! My confidence resurged, and, by the end of high school, after seeing Pope John Paul II in Madison Square Garden, I won a poetry contest at Catholic Daughters for the poem I wrote about his trip to the USA. Mom proudly brought me to the awards ceremony, telling me she had known I could do it all the time. I aced the SAT's English section, and received awards, again, Mom was behind me, beaming, telling me the sky was the limit.
Although I began as an English major in college, intending to pursue a career in writing, I got discouraged because I was afraid of facing rejection as a Catholic in the often atheistic world of journalism. After a few months working in Europe, however, I began to write poetry again, and I returned home to get my Masters to teach English as a Second Language. I worked in a university environment, and felt at home with those who loved learning , and strove for excellence. Mom told me she always knew I would end up as a college professor, that I fit in there.
Seventeen years later, teaching English to foreigners, homeschooling three daughters, including my 13 year old who has begun to win acclaim for her essay on her sister Christina (see post) my mother was still gently nudging me to write, reminding me of my past successes, and how I amazed her since fourth grade with my poetry. I had written and published an article in the Monfort Magazine, "Queen of All Hearts", 1995 on the Holy Father's visit to New York, but didn't try to write anything more.

This year, again, thanks to Mom's quiet urging that I write if only to use my God-given talent, I finally began to believe in myself, and began writing letters to the editor in "The National Catholic Register" who, not only printed them, but often highlighted them.
My reflections on the passing of my beloved Pope John Paul II, were printed in "The National Catholic Reporter", and "Faith and Family", and I began to think of freelance writing as a real possibility. Guess who wasn't at all surprised?! I wrote for the parish paper, kept up the letters to the editor, and began my first blog last October, held my breath, and submitted a query to "Faith and Family" about writing an article about Christina's birth.
No one was more excited for me than Mom, not just for my success, but for my newly re-born belief in myself as a writer, that which she has known all along. Thank you, Mom, may God repay your patience with me, and may I repay your faith in me, by instilling the same self-confidence in my three daughters. I dedicate this blog to you.