Friday, August 31, 2007

Christina's swing set

If you want to measure your child's physical development, just compare what they can do on your home swing set.
I remember when Christina was in the baby swing, and couldn't climb the ladder.
It gives her such a sense of accomplishment to have mastered all the equipment. You can see her determination as she climbs the ladder, and smile of pride as she swings all by herself. The problem is, now she wants to swing on the trapeze, and jump off! Yikes!

My Review of "The Nanny Diaries"

Is up on Mercatornet.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

No Greater Love

You have got to read this poem by Michelle Harmon at Downblogger!
She is referring to this heartbreaking news story, in which an Italian mother, pregnant with twin boys, attempted to abort her son with Down syndrome, but mistakenly aborted the 'normal' child. She ran to the police to accuse the doctor of malpractice, and returned to finish off her son with Down syndrome. Now she is without both of her sons. How sad.
While this story is shocking, unfortunately, it is not really news. In Europe, the abortion rate for Down syndrome actually exceeds the 90% of the USA.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Have your child's photo shown in Times Square

The National Down Synrome Society has an annual photo show of children with Down syndrome to publicize the Buddy Walk in New York City. They will be shown on the big screen pictured here, where the New Year's Ball drops.

This year's New York City Buddy Walk is on Sept 30th in Central Park. Actor Chris Burke and his band featuring the DiMasi brothers will be playing. We met him there two years ago, and had a great time.
Send your photos in via email and they may be included in the montage.I sent in three (the limit per family) of Christina.
Update: oops! Michelle tells me the deadline has passed!

The Nice Matters Blogger Award

Jean, my friend from Catholic Fire, has nominated me for this award. “This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. Once you’ve been awarded please pass on to seven others whom you feel are deserving of this award”.

I am honored to be nominated by such a devout lady blogger, and to be in the company of such good Catholic writers. I like to think of us as civilizing the sometimes harsh world of the blogosphere, by speaking the truth in love.

Here's my list of nominees.
1. Esther
2. Noelle
3. Elizabeth
4. Heidi
5. Ellen
6. Alice
7. Lorraine
Congratulations, ladies, you have inspired me, and taught me, and never lost your civility while doing so! You are making the blogosphere a kinder place.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Summer Reading

Christina knows which book has been her favorite this summer!

What's on your night table?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Third Down syndrome carnival

The third ever Down Syndrome Carnival has some new friends, and is developing a cadre of regular contributors.
Our first new friend is the mother of three children, and three blogs! Michelle has a post about speech therapy on her blog Life as I Know It. On her other blog, Downblogger, she has posted about her discovery of Dr. Jerome Lejeune, the world famous geneticist who discovered Trisomy 21 in 1959.
I like to include new resources for parents in the Carnival. I found that The Sensory Playhouse has some great ways for our children to play. Stacey Bittman, the director, explains, "The Sensory Playhouse is among the first ever inclusive play facilities that caters to ALL children. We have therapy-based equipment and a plethora of sensory and educational activities."
CHASK provides family to family support helping families raise their child with special needs. Loving Christian homes are waiting to adopt these children if the birth moms and dads are not able to parent. Little Flowers Foundation is a similar organization which helps Catholic families who are seeking to adopt special needs children from other countries.
One of our regular contributors, Ellen Hsu, has a post on her relationship with Psalm 139. I wrote a submission for the Op-Ed at the New York Times, which was rejected, so I posted it at my political blog, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae. I share it with you here, it's called Faces Like Mine.
The fourth Down Syndrome Carnival will be at The Imperfect Christian, chosen by CJ of Crazy Hip Blog Mama fame.Her email is so please send her your posts for the fourth Down Syndrome Carnival.

Friday, August 24, 2007

How to help our children learn independence

Barbara Curtis, mom of 12 including three children with Down syndrome, blogger, and author of 6 books and over 700 articles, has some wisdom to share in a recent article she wrote for Crosswalk, an online magazine. She claims that toddler meltdowns are not necessary and may be a sign that we moms are missing chances to grant them learning opportunities and greater independence.

This made me examine my daily life with Christina. She is very independent and while there are plenty of times this must be curtailed, as in "NO, Christy, you may NOT go to the road and take the mail out of the mailbox by yourself". There are, however plenty of times when I limit her independence unnecessarily in the course of an average day for my own convenience. I don't want to wait for her to pull her pants up after potty time, or pick out a mismatched outfit to wear, or let her clear her own dish from the table when it's sure to lead to spills on the floor. I clean up her toys rather than asking for her help, and don't remember to let her help set the table for dinner. She's good at pulling laundry out of the dryer, whether she's asked or not, so why not ask her? In addition to setting up artificial settings for learning, perhaps I could slow down a bit and allow her some of the opportunities she's been throwing herself on the floor and crying for!

I think we special moms run the risk in this area particularly because our children may not be able to do what their typical peers can do, and we fall into the overbearing mom trap. I will always remember a story of a mom in my family whose son with Down syndrome was 50 years old before he put on his own hat. His mother, then deceased, had always done it for him. What pride Mickey in putting on his own hat! What a shame he missed 43 years of doing it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Feast of the Queenship of Mary

This Feast was established by Pope Pius XII in 1954.
The Holy Father taught that Jesus Christ alone, God and man, is King in the full, proper, and absolute sense of the term. Mary also, in a restricted and only analogous way, shares in the royal dignity as the Mother of Christ who is God, as His associate in the work of Redemption, in His conflict with the enemy, and in His complete victory. From this association with Christ the King, she obtains a height of splendor unequaled in all creation (Ad Caeli Reginam, no.25).
HT Catholic Exchange
In a lecture he gave on Long Island, Dr. Scott Hahn explained the Old Testament view of the Queen Mother, the mother of the King, as the true queen, because the King often had many wives, none of whom assumed a leadership role.
Our Lady is the mother of the King of Kings, and therefore it is perfectly Biblical to honor her and respect her role as Queen of Heaven and earth.
See the Litany of the Queenship of Mary at Causa Nostrae Laetitiae.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Downi Creations

Christina Dunigan, has left a comment recommending Downi Creations. These are adorable collector quality dolls who have the features of Down syndrome.
Here's their story:

When Donna Moore, the founder of Downi Creations, Inc. worked as a Special Education teacher and program administrator, she was aware of the problem every day. In the average Special Education classroom, children with Down syndrome represent a large percentage of the students. (Statistics confirm that one in 800 births worldwide is a Down syndrome birth.)
In spite of these facts, there still exists surprisingly little educational support or public awareness programs to help the families or the general public to better understand and deal positively with people with Down syndrome.
Down Syndrome Originals© were created to help close this troubling knowledge gap.
Each doll was carefully designed to reflect the special beauty of babies with Down syndrome by faithfully representing the 13 features of Down syndrome:

1. Almond-shaped eyes

2. Flattened bridge across nose

3. Small mouth

4. Slightly protruding tongue

5. Small ears with a fold at the top

6. Ears set low on the head

7. Flattened back of head

8. Shortened fingers

9. Pinkie finger curves inward

10. Horizontal crease in palm of hand

11. Shortened toes
12. A gap between the first and second toes
13. An incision in the chest to indicate open-heart surgery
A friend of mine, had suggested that I create a doll like this when we visited last week. I liked the idea, but was doubtful that anyone would buy a doll with Down syndrome. Now, I am so happy to say I was wrong!
She is now suggesting a series of children's books where the main character is Christina, my daughter with Down syndrome.
I'm listening, now, Elizabeth!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Second Down syndrome carnival

Stephanie Bissol at Megan's Got 47 has a post where she shows us a children's book she is working on featuring her lovely daughter, Megan. It looks like a winner to me! Christina shares her emotional story of Kallie's birth in this post. For those out there who are facing a pre-natal diagnosis of Down syndrome, or other anomaly, Be Not Afraid offers more of these inspiring birth stories to help you in this difficult time.
Ellen Hsu writes a loving post to her son on the occasion of his first birthday in Elijah's gift. Karen discusses her ambivalence at Lion and Magic Boy. Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes gives us Ten Facts about Down Syndrome where many of the myths about Down syndrome are cleared up. I add my recent post on Dr. Jerome Lejeune, the geneticist who discovered Trisomy 21 in 1959, and firmly believed that Down syndrome could be cured, "with less effort than it would take to send a man to the moon".
Barbara Curtis of Mommy Life compares society's reaction to Down syndrome to her acceptance of being the mother of her son in about that extra chromosome.
I like to include links to resources for those parenting children with Down syndrome in each post. Band of Angels has a wonderful outreach which includes, scholarships,lovely calendars and note cards, and books about Down syndrome like Common Threads and my daughter's favorite, Hi, I'm Ben, and I Have a Secret.
Thanks to all you who have participated in the second carnival. The next carnival will be here at Cause of Our Joy, so be sure and send me your posts. In September the carnival will be moving to other host sites, but the next site will always be posted on the previous carnival.
How about letting us know if you are walking in a Buddy Walk?
HT A Catholic Mom in Hawaii for the carnival logo button.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"I'll pray for your child to be cured"

When Christina was born, and we realized for certain that she had Down syndrome, my father, a devout Catholic, rallied the prayer warriors to pray for a cure for her Down syndrome. I credit this with the fact that she has never had a single one of the typical heart or gastrointestinal problems commonly associated with Down sydrome. However, I must admit, I felt a bit touchy about people who wanted to change the way my daughter is. After all, we Catholics are called to love one another unconditionally, so why pray for her to change? Wasn't she good enough to be loved with her Down syndrome?
I have often said "I love my Christy 'just as she is' and wouldn't change her if I could". One day, my 14 year old Gabbi asked, "you mean if there were a cure for DS, you wouldn't get it for her?Do you really want her to stay the way she is?"Of course, that question caught me flat footed! Who would deny our children cures? I DO love her unconditionally, but if she woke up tomorrow with regular abilities, would that change my love for her? Certainly not!

We have to remember the terrible lives people with DS had in the recent past. Even Dr. Lejeune, who discovered Trisomy 21 and loved our children deeply, wanted to find a cure for DS. He called Down syndrome an illness, but never meant it as a put down. As a doctor, he was confronted on a daily basis with the side effects and limitations of Down syndrome, of course he wanted a cure! He said, "it would take less effort than sending a man to the moon to find a cure for Down syndrome" (from his biography, Life is a Blessing) His greatest regret upon his death from cancer in 1994 was that he hadn't found it. His Fondacion Lejeune continues his research to this day, never losing hope, that Down syndrome, like Polio, may be relegated to the honor roll of conquered diseases.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Where can we send our daughter for high school?

A Catholic father , an intelligent and conscientious man, was explaining why he and his wife took their daughter out of a Catholic high school: "They told the kids that the gospels weren't true."
Compare that with Pope Benedict XVI's affirmation in his best-selling book Jesus of Nazareth: "I trust the gospels." The Pope, a serious scholar who is one of the genuinely distinguished theologians of the day, judges it reasonable to believe the gospel accounts. Some religion teachers in a Catholic high school do not. Now, who do you think is right?

Over the years, many conscientious Catholic parents like the father quoted above have been scandalized and dismayed by the religious formation they've encountered in the Catholic schools, colleges, and religious education programs to which they've entrusted their kids. Not infrequently, it seems, a mischievous counter-catechesis has contributed to the young people's loss of faith.
To be sure, CTSA members aren't the people who teach religion in Catholic grade and high schools and religious education programs. But there's a link. It resides in the trickle-down effects of what these (academically speaking) humbler souls may have picked up from academicians in college courses and professional publications, as well as from the CTSA's own well-publicized proclamations of dissent.

In other words, the Catholic school teachers who have the religious studies credits they need to teach theology have been in the liberal propaganda machine long enough to believe this nonsense. And teach it. These are positions which I learned in my 11th grade Biblical Theology class from Sr. Pat, a young novice whom I admired so much, I came in on a Saturday to watch her take her vows at the convent.
"The miracles in the Bible didn't really happen the way they're written. People of those days didn't understand science and psychology the way we do today. For example, the Red Sea was really the Sea of Reeds, and there was no wall of water, the tide went out, allowing the Israelites to walk across"
I once heard a Pentecostal preacher enjoy this view very much. He said, " do you mean to tell me that all of Pharaoh's army, including his horses and charioteers drowned in two feet of muddy water? Now, THAT'S what I call a MIRACLE!!"
All the miracles were similarly debunked by Sr Pat, even Christ's multiplication of the loaves and the fishes." The people had the loaves and fishes, Jesus just convinced them to share them" Mother Angelica had fun with that one. "Do you think, that if I had been listening to Jesus preach for three days, with a salami sandwich in my pocket , I'd need Him to tell me to eat it? I got news for you; that salami sandwich would be long gone!"
The corrections to this nonsense came much later in my life. In high school I absorbed this stuff readily. I even went on a trip to a Protestant friend's home, notebook in hand, ready to defend what I believed then was the truth. Her correct interpretation of the Scriptures put the lies I'd swallowed to shame, and I never pulled out that notebook. I could tell she was right to believe that the Scriptures tell the truth. I am grateful for her understanding.

Sr. Pat has left the Academy since, but continues teaching the historical-critical method of theology in Catholic settings elsewhere, and was seen at a Voice of the Faithful meeting asking the bishop for more of a leadership role in the Church because of her education. Heaven forbid.

Meanwhile, since I live too far away from the one Catholic high school on Long Island which has the courage to teach from the Magesterium (ie. like Pope Benedict says, the Scriptures are trustworthy) while we live here, I either subject my daughter to the sewer of popular culture and anti-Catholicism in the public schools, or continue to home school her. Reluctantly, I have chosen the latter, but not without a bit of anger towards the Catholic Theological Society of America.They have robbed countless students of their Catholic faith, and essentially deprived my daughter of the legitimate pleasure of attending a good Catholic high school.

Review of Artic Tale

I took my girls, ages 14 and 10, to a preview of An Arctic Tale (rated G) to get their reactions to what promised to be a beautiful film. Warmly narrated by Queen Latifah, with a screenplay written in part by Kristen Gore, An Arctic Tale features breathtaking nature footage of the arctic. An Arctic Tale surpassed any TV nature films I have seen, National Geographic has outdone themselves here, however this is no ordinary nature film.
We meet a baby girl walrus and her clan, and watch her grow and learn to catch food and pull up on the ice. When the polar bear cubs emerge from their birthing cave, we see their adjustment to outdoor life, learning to hunt seals with their mother under the ice. The baby animals are, of course, engaging and the children begin to care about them.
The next season, the ice melts early causing problems for both walrus and bear cubs' ability to obtain food and rest. We watch scene after scene of these animals struggling with lack of polar ice, going hungry, and we are told, ' if we don't reverse Global Warming which is responsible for the melting of the polar ice, all these creatures will soon die. '
I haven't seen any reviews of this film yet, but I imagine the critics will wax poetic about this film's 'inconvenient message'. It seems that Global warming is one of a short list of causes for which a film can become didactic, without drawing fire from the establishment.

As a parent, I was not pleased with this attempt at manipulation of my children's feelings, especially the lectures given by children during the credits, on how to save the polar bears by turning off lights. I know young children may carry a sense of guilt if they forget. Or is that the point?

Don't get me wrong, I love nature and consider myself a conservationist. After all I was a child of the 70's. It's just that I have seen another perspective on the issue of melting polar ice. I recently read an article online explaining how melting polar ice released frozen plankton which is providing a new food source, leading to increasing population of many sea creatures. So, how do we decide whether the seal or the walrus should prosper? Is this a natural cycle of temperature fluctuation, or a result of our domination of the planet?

Manilo Sodi, a professor of theology at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome, summarized personal responsibility for the environment at the World Environment Day. He said that a healthy ecology "encourages an examination of conscience; offers an opportunity for formation; looks at the person in all its greatness and integrity; calls for the formulation of laws and regulations that demonstrate the harmony between person and nature (and) respects the environment so that, as it was received, it can be passed on to others."I'll take his point of view.

If your children could watch An Arctic Tale without being haunted by the hungry animals each time they turn on the air conditioner, then go and enjoy the movie. If not, wait for the next Animal Planet special on the Arctic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Little Flowers Foundation

Danielle Bean has a post about the Tippet family, who are raising funds to adopt a little girl from Africa. If you are a Catholic family who would like to adopt a child internationally,but are unable to meet the high costs, there is financial aid available via the Little Flowers Foundation.

The mission of Little Flowers Foundation is two-fold.Many qualified families find adoption's high costs prohibitive. Little Flowers works to provide grants to families who need financial assistance in order to pursue an adoption. Are you interested in adoption but afraid of the high costs involved? We may be able to help.
Many children from around the world are in need of a loving family. Older children, sibling groups, and disabled children can be hard to place. Little Flowers works to find loving families to adopt these special souls. Do you feel God may be calling you to open your home to one of his precious children? Please contact us.
Another website, Reece's Rainbow helps get overseas orphans with Down syndrome adopted by loving families here in the USA.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The "R" word

Theresa Howard has an article about how much the expletive "you're such a retard!" wounds a mother's heart. I can certainly relate to that!
It amazes people when I tell them that there is a 60 point IQ range for individuals with Down syndrome, just as there is with the typical population, it just starts lower. There are people out there with Down syndrome who are smarter than the average Joe. So there!

HOWEVER, even if they aren't more intelligent according to some test, I have NEVER seen a person with Down sydrome call another person such a hurtful name.
They're way too emotionally intelligent for that!

Monday, August 13, 2007

The First Ever Down Syndrome Carnival

Welcome to the first ever Carnival of Down syndrome. I hope it will be only the first in a long line of carnivals, and the beginning of many friendships. By gathering together the work of several bloggers who parent children with Down syndrome, I hope that we could share the joy that these children are to those of us who love them. My offering to begin the carnival is the story of my entry into this community, A Special Mother is Born an article I published in a parenting magazine about how my Christina, now five, changed my life forever.

A mom named Christina shares her daughter Kallie's birth story here, she shares how an unexpected diagnosis of Down syndrome has brought such love into her life, and her belief that God never sends us something we can't handle. Leslie, the Joyful Mother of Six Children shares in the Eyes of a Child how her daughter Eliana's birth has effected her family. Her friend Hollie, wants us to read another lovely post of hers, where she details the heartbreaking procedure of holding your little child's arm for blood tests. That really terrifies me, but Leslie is brave and sustained by her strong faith in God.

Rachel from 100 Lessons I've Learned from Jennifer shares The First Lesson she has learned from her special daughter.
Kristi, over at Above All I Could Ask or Imagine tells us about her son's 7th birthday. She says, "I do not know if this makes sense...but God understands my heart. Thank you, Lord, for giving us the gift of all of our children. May they all grow up totally sold out to you. Thank you, especially on this day of remembrance and celebration, for J and the treasure he is to our family!"
Alice at has shared articles from three women with Down syndrome who inspired her, in Ups and Downs. A talented author about Down syndrome, and contributor to Gifts, Mothers Reflect on How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives, Jennifer Graf Groneberg at Pinwheels has a post Sweet Sleep about listening for her son's sleep apnea that I most certainly could relate to, having stayed up many hours listening to see if Christina had an apnea.

Catherine has a moving montage entitled, A Life Worth Living. Mindy tells a story about going through medical testing with her son Liam in Sharp Pointy Sticks.

Tara Marie Hintz, beautiful Emma Sage's mom has a favorite website with lots of resources for people with disabilities to share. It's called, "disability is natural". Michelle at Big Blueberry Eyes responds to a comment about her reaction to her daughter Kayla's diagnosis of Down syndrome. This is a conversation that most of us have had, and Michelle handles it with grace and insight.

Reasoned Audacity's Charmaine Yoest wrote about Sam Ingersoll's son Gabriel, and how he was inspired to start Gabriel's Angel Network to raise Down syndrome awareness. Just watch this amazing video Sam produced for new parents of a child with Down syndrome.

Donna Wirth at My Nesting Place reviews the book Gifts and shares her love for working with children with Down syndrome. Jodie at Jodie's thoughts has a post which was published on Beliefnet. Its about three words that can change the world.

Francine mom of Two Pirates and a Princess has some great photos of little Miss Sofia.
Lianna of Life with Gabriel shares, " Leticia, I just read your beautiful post about Christina. I found out about my son, Gabriel, having Down syndrome when I was 20 weeks pregnant. It has been an incredible journey -- and my husband and I have been so fortunate. Thank you for your kind words, and for your post on my blog. I would be grateful to be included in the First Ever Down Syndrome Carnival!"

Gloria P. Huerta Sr. sent me this story about life with her 25 year old daughter for the Down syndrome Carnival, however it seems that she is without a blog, so I gave her a post on mine. Read this and see if you agree with me that Gloria should start a blog!

Look, my dear friend Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii is linking to us, and made us a button! Thanks, Esther!

Our only father to contribute, Kim Ayres tells how he reacted to his daughter's diagnosis, and his reluctance to join a Down syndrome support group. "When Meg was born it sometimes felt as though we had joined a Down’s Club and we were expected to go out and join Down’s groups. We found this idea more than a little uncomfortable."
I also had difficulty believing, when I began this blogging a year ago, that I could feel this close with complete strangers, from such varied religious beliefs and ethnic backgrounds. You have proven me wrong. Thank you, my new extended blogosphere family!

Christina from Prince Vince Meets the World has this post about a film festival in Salzburg, Austria featuring Down syndrome, and how it gave her so much hope. Great things DO happen when those who love a child with Down syndrome get together: let's do this again soon!

A big thank you to those of you who participated this week, if you check the Blog Carnival Website, you will see that this is a weekly carnival, and I will gladly let you be the next host. Leave a comment below, or email me if you'd like to be next week's host blog for next Sunday's carnival.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Day Gloria Jr. Came into My Life

Gloria P. Huerta Sr. sent me this story for the Down syndrome Carnival, however it seems that she is without a blog, so I gave her a post to herself.
Read this and see if you agree with me that Gloria should start a blog!

The Day Gloria Jr. Came into My Life
Gloria Jr. is my 3rd and youngest daughter. Born May 5, 1982, 25 years ago. The birth was complicated by a c-section. I had no idea she was going to be a Down syndrome child, as at twenty six years old I was too young to ever have that happen.....So they say. I awoke from surgery to find Tony (her dad) crying above my hospital bed. I asked him what was wrong and his replied was "The doctor will be coming in to talk with you" and walked out the door. At first I thought he was upset that she was a girl, as we already had 2 daughter's and he might have really wanted a son. We knew this would be our last child. When the doctor finally came to talk with me, he asked me "Do you know what Mongolism is?". I answered "yes" and then asked him, "isn't that called Down syndrome?" Well, he gave me all the details and then finished up with another question for me. This one was before I even got to see her. "Do you want her? If not, we will put her in a place where she can be taken care of." WHAT A QUESTION!!!I would not have wanted anything else in my life at that moment. I knew that, right then and there, the second I saw her, it was instant.........LOVE!!
What the doctor told me she would not be able to do.......SHE DID!!I wanted to breastfeed her even thought he told me she would have poor muscle tone in her mouth to be able to eat right. Well, let me tell you she proved them wrong! I don't know where to start with all the things she has accomplished in her young life. Yes, her reading and writing won't be par with her peers, but she still tries very hard at this. She has grown up to be a very gifted child. I found her strengths and have made that her strong point in her life, which is her love of dance, friends, family.
There are a lot of things that have happened in her life that have been hard for me to understand. Like why at 16 years old, while home alone from school due to menstrual cramps, she decides to call 911. They sent an ambulance to the house, they picked her up, and she then gets a ride to the hospital in Petaluma...all by herself!!
Or why she goes completely numb when I am trying to correct her (like most teenagers).Or just when everything seems to be going well and she is learning more and more to not lean on me so, she does something that sets her back. At times like these I feel that we need to start all over again. And then we move's O. K.
But for all the not so good times, there are so much, much more wonderful, special and even emotional times in our lives together. She has such a trust in everyone that comes into her circle of life. Her love of people outshines everything she can't do. She has no problem walking up to a man or woman and letting them know how handsome or beautiful they are.We were at a Mexican restaurant one evening. As we were eating and listening to a live Mariachi band, 4 young men came and sat down at the table next to us. Well, low and behold she starts up a conversation with one of them and then the others join in. As the band starts to play again, Gloria goes and requests a dance from one of these guys, (who by the way was about my age!!) and you know what....he did!!! There she was in all her glory, as everyone else looked on, dancing and having fun!!! I would have never, ever have done that!!! But that's what make her so special. We had a wonderful time that night. Stuff like this happens all the time, when we are together.
I have come to admire Gloria Jr. for who she is and not what I want her to become. She has taught me not to judge others by their appearance. She has shown me to be kinder to all I meet. She has given me a big lesson on forgiveness. And she has shown me to be happy everyday.For me, I see Gloria Jr. as wearing her "spiritual soul" on the outside for all to see and you know what? I want to be just like her."Thank you Lord for giving me your gift of Love"My Daughter Gloria Patricia Jr.Gloria P. Huerta Sr.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007

Moments when Heaven Touches Earth

Many of you have read A Special Mother is Born, my article about how Our Lord spoke to my heart to prepare me for giving birth to Christina. I am constantly amazed at the richness of His grace, lifting us up when day to day life overwhelms us, and we struggle to pray with confidence.Recently, I was blessed with another moment of grace. We were at the Holy Hour of Youth 2000 with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, held outside Kellenberg High School, in a tent.Christina was very restless, and we were keeping her outside the tent so she wouldn't disturb the reverence at the Holy Hour, which had been going on for hours. As Fr. Juniper passed our row, holding Jesus in the Monstrance, we were invited to 'touch the hem of His garment', which he explained was the Humeral Veil.
I took the end of the Veil, and wrapped around Christina's kicking leg, and she instantly calmed down, looked up at the Monstrance and whispered, "Jesus". My heart soared, because I am reassured that she continues to recognize Jesus in his Body and Blood. Only five years old, hardly verbal, yet her faith surpasses that of many Catholic adults who don't have her gift of simple innocence. Fr. McCartney once told me that he thinks that people with Down syndrome feel sorry for us, as we don't understand things as clearly they do. The important things, like where Jesus is, and that He loves us.
I'm beginning to see what he meant.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Review of Becoming Jane

Whenever a film about a famous author comes with a trailer which threatens to shatter my English-major respect for a literary great, I tend to avoid seeing a film, for fear of being disillusioned by a "Hollywood job" on one of my favorite authors. For generations, knowledge of Jane Austen's novels have been the hallmark of a good education in English Literature. The trailer's image of a bad-boy running after lady-like Jane Austen, turning her ordered world upside-down, to be honest, did not look promising, nor did the sight of her respectable minister father, getting frisky with his wife, while the opening credits were rolling, did nothing to ignite my enthusiasm for Becoming Jane. What did spark my interest, however, was the first sight of Jane herself, up before dawn, scratching away at her writing in a tattered nightgown, unkempt hair, and ink-stained fingers. Her sudden burst of inspiration with which she wakes her family with her enthusiastic piano playing, and their resultant groaning, 'there she goes again, get that girl a husband'! That woman, I can relate to. It is sunrise here in my home, and my fingers ply the keyboard rather than the inkwell, nevertheless, the emotional connection is there. Writers are most alive when they are pouring themselves into their work, oblivious to their surroundings. This can make them a bit odd, as Jane was, but it can also be a source of great pride for their family. The sight of Anne Hathaway the family poet, reading her tribute to her sister on her betrothal, only to me mortally wounded by Mr. Lefoy's (played by James McEvoy), dismissive comments, touched the heart of this writer, and made me anxious to see how she could possibly become romantic with this lout! And what about this brawling, boozing, womanizing, slacker could possibly inspire a lady like Jane?
Rapturous music, dreamlike shots of the countryside, delightful acting by Julie Walters as Mrs. Austen, and natural lighting coupled with well delivered 19th century dialogue make this unlikely film more believable, though James McEvoy's accent was disappointingly English for a Limerick lad. I found myself, as I do in her novels, and their recent screen adaptations, hoping that the unlikely couple would make a go of it, and save Jane from the wealthy dolt her mother fancied for her, a plot so familiar from Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. Jane's characters are woven into the film, and I enjoyed watching her write about Mr. Darcy and refer to herself as a matchmaker like Emma.
I do recommend this film for Jane Austen fans who are not strict purists, but, due to some brief nudity at the swimming hole, and inappropriate though off-camera bedroom antics of a married couple, so I advise leaving the children at home. This is a girlfriend movie, so leave time for a cappuccino afterward.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Don't let your children become addicted to excitement

Dennis Prager at makes the point that craving excitement is a bad thing,
If you want your children to be happy adults and even happy children -- and what parent does not? -- minimize the excitement in their lives. The more excitement, the less happy they are likely to be.
In both adults and children, one can either pursue excitement or pursue happiness, but one cannot do both. If you pursue excitement, you will not attain happiness. If you pursue happiness, you will still experience some moments of excitement, but you will attain happiness only if happiness, not excitement, is your goal.

So many of the best things in life are routine, and could be described initially as dull; eating meals together as a family, your children's nighttime prayers, the same flowers blooming in your summer garden, year after year, your mother's phone calls, the slow progress your children make in their studies, a bug discovered by your toddler in the backyard, the same vacation spot you always go to, and the same liturgy every Sunday, with the same Body of Christ you receive.
See what we would be missing if we look past the routine in mad pursuit of novelty?! Our Lord Himself, who chooses to come to us in the humble appearance of ordinary bread.
That's why advertisers are making commercials which change scenes every three seconds, and include special effects like things blowing up, magic cereal, and flying kids. Anything I have to offer as a homeschooling mother is pretty dull compared to this display.
As a high school English as a Second Language teacher, I remember my Principal saying, "you have to stimulate the students, and include the five senses in every lesson." Oh, really! This includes, of course, smell and taste, which I foolishly believed belonged to Home Economics.
So I designed a St. Patrick's Day lesson around the five senses. I made Irish soda bread and Irish tea (smell and taste) brought in my Aran sweater and linen tablecloth set with Irish Belleek china (which I let them touch with trepidation) and played Irish music, so that their ears wouldn't get too tired of listening to their teacher. There, I thought, all five senses stimulated, the Principal and administrators observing me will be impressed.
But alas, it was not enough! The Principal's comments were negative, and this was his suggestion for improving the lesson, "you should have danced the Irish jig". The Irish jig, a pregnant middle-aged teacher dancing (poorly) a jig for adolescents! The image was too nightmarish to be funny!
So, now that I realize I will never be an exciting teacher to anyone, I can relax, and simply help open up the universe of learning. My children, freed from the need to be constantly stimulated a can settle down, learn, and enjoy life. Our family can relax and be our ordinary selves, loving one another, day after day so predictably. I will try to cherish my 52nd dandelion bouquet from little hands as much as the first, and we will be happy. Happy to have comforting, dull routines which constantly ensure me how much I are loved.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Have you lost an unborn child?

I have lost three children to early miscarriage, on St. Patrick's Day, Good Friday, and St. Padre Pio's Day. Why do I know the dates? Because these children will always remain part of me until I can see them in heaven.
If you have had difficulty finding books to read while mourning your little ones, you might find comfort in Karen Garver Santorum's book, "Letters to Gabriel". In it, she published her actual journal entries during her pregnancy with her son Gabriel, whom she lost due to an infection caused by inter uterine surgery to save him from a fatal anomaly. The extraordinary lengths which Karen and her husband Senator Rick Santorum went through to save Gabriel's life while the Senator was defending the Partial-Birth Abortion ban, is truly poignant. The babies killed by this gruesome procedure, were the same gestational age as the Santorum's son, who was fighting to live. Once, during a particularly tense moment of Senator Santorum's speech, the cry of a baby pierced the silence of the Senate chamber. Senator Santorum felt it was the voice of Gabriel, pleading for innocent lives.
Gabriel's brief life was full of love from his family, and his legacy, which we now see, is the uplifting of the dignity of all human life, and the eventual decision by the Supreme Court to uphold the Partial-birth abortion ban.
Thank you, Senator and Mrs. Santorum, for allowing us a look into this most painful episode of your private life, in order to give us a glimpse of true courage in suffering.

Proud Mom Moment

While we were preparing for one of our evening walks around the block, Christina made a request.
"I some shoes".
We were ecstatic, as she had never put three independent words together before!
When she said, "I some" it was always with relation to food, as in, "I some" indicating the rice she wanted me to put on her dinner plate.
This time, she was indicating another type of need, using "I some". All of her other multiple word phrases have been learned in their entirety from us, like her favorites, "I don't want to", or "I don't like it".

"I some shoes" is totally unique for her, and a big milestone in her slow linguistic development. Her sisters, delighted, have given her a new nickname, "I some". We hope to respond to many more such requests in the future!
Nice job, Christina! We are all SO proud of you!
Photo credit: Grandma

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Call for submissions: our book on Catholic special needs mothers

As the summer ends, my co-author, Monica Rafie of Be Not and I would like to finish collecting the stories we will include in our book on Catholic Mothers of Special Needs Children(if you can suggest a title, we are still taking suggestions). This includes those of you whose children were seriously ill anytime after their birth, we know how needy these children are, and how many challenges we have face raising them. Here are some questions which we think should guide the writing of your story. If you don't want to write the entire story, just answer the questions, we will be happy to do the writing for you. If you would like to refer anyone, please give her my email address.

1. Are you a life-long Catholic or a convert?
2. What parish do you attend? Are you active in your parish? Do you participate in any Catholic organizations or apostolates? (please list)
3. Did you receive a prenatal diagnosis? Y/N
—If yes, please tell us about your baby. What was your baby’s diagnosis? When in your pregnancy was your baby diagnosed?
—If no, tell us when you learned that there was a problem with your baby.
4. How specifically did your Catholic faith help you to accept what was happening to your family?
5. Did you then, or do you now have devotion to a particular saint as a result of your baby’s diagnosis, experiences, or from your own previous devotions? If so, are there any particular stories about the saint (or other saints) interceding for you, your family, or your child?
6. If you don’t already have a story written, consider setting up a very basic outline of events that walk us through the experience you wish to share about. We can help you to fill in your outline if needed.
Thanks very much for participating! We will use this set of questions to identify and draw out the different elements in your story that are most appropriate for our book.

God bless,
Monica and Leticia