Thursday, January 31, 2008

A pre-born baby needs your prayers

Could everyone please keep in prayer, a baby that is scheduled to be aborted this Monday (2/4), as well as his/her parents?
Likewise, please pray for James, who is intervening on baby's behalf.
Maybe you can consider spiritually adopting this baby and ask for Archbishop Fulton Sheen's intercession (author of short prayer below), whose cause for beatification will proceed this Sunday (2/3), according to Father Apostoli of the Friars of the Renewal.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen's Spiritual Adoption prayer

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I beg you to spare the life of the unborn child I have spiritually adopted, who is in danger of abortion.

Our Lady of Guadalupe,

pray for this baby.

Great new Down syndrome blog:Hidden Treasures

There's a great new blog out called Hidden Treasures, and parents like me who have been blessed with children with Down syndrome are welcome to send in their stories. Enjoytheir montage, and beautufil stories of how children with Down syndrome blessed their lives, and that of their children.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Review of "Atonement"

My review of "Atonement" is up at Catholic Media Review.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Gabbi goes to Washington

Gabbi and I left home Monday January 21st for a whirlwind two days chasing Congressmen for interviews, social gatherings with pro-life luminaries, political activism and prayer at the March for Life.

We stayed at the Phoenix Park Hotel on the 21st, right across the street from Union Station, and down Capitol Street from the Capitol itself.

We met our attorney for our attempt at bringing Catholic Radio to Long Island at the Dubliner the pub at the hotel that evening and met his pro-life activist friends, including Br. Augustine of the Friars of the Immaculate Heart whose order will be running a Catholic radio station upstate New York. These friars brought the statue of Our Lady of America to Ground Zero last anniversary of 9/11, where she circled the area, and rode up 5th Avenue to St. Patrick's Cathedral. If you are not familiar with this approved apparition from 1953, I posted on it here.
After dinner, I requested one of my favorite Irish ballads,"The Whistling Gypsy", and left the cozy pub since I wanted to show Gabbi the prayer going on at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. We attended the rosary and compline in the Crypt Church at the Basilica till midnight. I posted on this here.

On the 22nd we attended the Memorial for the Pre-Born at the Hart Office Building,where we met David Bereit, and Tony Melendez whom I posted on here. We heard inspired preaching from Fr. Frank Pavone, then we didn't get to Blogs for Life till about 11AM when Rep Christ Smith was speaking, and former Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline, who was awesome. He is in the throes of the battle to put lawbreaking George the baby killer Tiller behind bars where he belongs. Pray for him, if he succeeds amidst all the corruption in Kansas, then he promised to bring what he learned to the rest of us, and we can begin to dismantle the abortion machine, bit by bit.

Then Gabbi and I attended the March for Life, meeting many Long Island friends, I was interviewed by Japanese TV and did some interviewing of my own, and Gabbi took over 50 photos, which I made into a montage you can see here or on YouTube. I look forward to the celebration we'll have when we overturn Roe v Wade, and the state laws, and a mother's womb is no longer the most dangerous place in our land.

We spent a brief time in the Hyatt around 4PM to see the displays, meeting Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" of Roe v Wade, and Fr. Tom Euteneuer, President of Human Life International as well as Slaves of the Immaculate Heart who ran Morning Star Camp which Gabbi and Bella attended camp last summer.

We ran round the corner, changed into our nice clothes, and at 5 we attended the Filipino Family Fund Champions for the Family Award Reception at the Phoenix Park Hotel. Eduardo Verastegui didn't make his appearance there, but we met Leo Severino and his brother Roger, Bobby Schindler, Chris and Marie Smith, and Maureen Flynn. Maureen writes the magazine, "Signs and Wonders for Our Time" and organizes the International Week for Prayer and Fasting each October at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Maureen's husband Ted Flynn, whose tape "The Thunder of Justice" . Leo Severino thanked us for the success of his film, "Bella" and informed us that the DVD will go on sale May 16. I met his brother Roger who works as an attorney for the Becket Fund.
It was an amazing two days, and I formed many contacts with whom I hope to coordinate our efforts to pass the Kennedy-Brownback Bill to protect unborn children with prenatally diagnosed conditions like Down syndrome.

Disappearing Faces

Our voices are being heard, according to this video by the New York Times. I responded here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tony Meledez at the Memorial for the PreBorn

I am amazed, looking back, at how God prepared me in many different ways to be a special needs mom, usually without my knowlege. Meeting Tony Melendez in 1993 was an example of how He showed me that no matter how a person appears handicapped, the gifts of God enable him to spread the Gospel with his heartfelt example.
When Gabbi (seen here with Tony) was a baby, I attended a concert by Tony Melendez, in my parish, and was so impressed with his witness to faith and empowerment, that I read his autobiography. Tony was a Thalidomide baby, born without arms in Nicaragua. His parents emigrated to the USA to give him more opportunities. He taught himself to play guitar with his feet, and has been giving testimony ever since with his beautiful voice and inspirational songs to the goodness of God's gift of life. One of the songs he sang at the Prayer Meeting was,
"Hands in Heaven". You may remember September 15, 1987, in Los Angeles, when Tony sang for Pope John Paul II who was so moved, that he jumped down from the platform he was on and climbed up where Tony was to give him a hug.

When I saw Tony yesterday, at the 14th Annual National Memorial for hte Pre-Born and their Mothers and Fathers, I showed him the baby he had met, now 14 and asked if the prayers he requested to have children with his wife had been answered. The couple have been able to adopt two children. I shared that I had a special needs child, and thanked Tony for his witness to the beauty of God's gift of life.

Tony's biography is available on DVD here.

Status of Kennedy-Brownback bill

Briefing on Kennedy-Brownback Legislation
On January 16, 2008, a closed briefing was held for Senate staff members on The Pre-Natally and Post-Natally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act (S. 1810), known as the Kennedy-Brownback bill. Representatives from both NDSC and NDSS were invited and attended this briefing. Staff members heard Mia Peterson, self-advocate, and Brian and Michelle Wray, parents of Matthew who has Down syndrome, discussing the quality of information they received before and after the birth of Matthew. According to Mr. Wray, “we know, first hand, what it was like to not be given this critical information and access to resources in a timely and effective manner.” Andy Imparato, of the American Association for Persons with Disabilities (AAPD) provided a cross-disability perspective on the issue of genetic testing.
This meeting was held to brief Senate staff members on S. 1810 before the bill is marked up by the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee. The mark-up, which is a process whereby Committee members meet formally to make changes to the bill, is now tentatively scheduled to take place on January 30th. Hopefully, any differences among Senate members can be worked out prior to the mark-up.
We continue to follow this process closely and in consultation with NDSS, tracking, reviewing and discussing minor language changes with Senate staff. Since the legislative process is, by nature, in a constant state of flux, we want to ensure that grassroots efforts will be used when they have the greatest chance of success.
To see the most recent version of the bill that has been introduced, go to: and key in S. 1810 in the space for the bill number.
HT National Down Syndrome Congress

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tony Melendez

Here Tony is performing "Hands in Heaven", the song he sang yesterday.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

PG Action/Adventure
Benjamin Franklin Gates reunites his scattered treasure-hunting team, Riley Poole(Justin Barth) a wanna-be celebrity author with financial problems, ex-girlfriend Abigail(Diane Krueger) and his father Patrick (Jon Voight) for another fast-paced historical adventure with looming disaster if the treasure isn’t found. National Treasure has developed into a blockbuster movie serial, a la Indiana Jones, or Spider Man whose focus is on US History. The stellar cast rescues the flick from mediocrity, as Helen Mirren joins the cast as Jon Voight’s estranged ex-wife to join the quest. A fun family adventure, the film delivers on its promise of back to back clues, impossible break-ins, and a tantalizing Book of Secrets for the President’s eyes only.

The action begins in the midst of celebrations of the end of the Civil War, where Confederate conspirator Jeb Wilkinson meets with Thomas Gates, to have him to decode codes leading to the lost City of Gold. The Confederates hope to recover the gold and continue to fight the Civil War. Thomas, refusing to help them, tears the page out of the diary containing the codes, for which Jeb shoots him in front of his young son, Charlie. Thomas, mortally wounded. attempts to destroy the codes, throwing the page into the fire. Jeb Wilkinson was part of the conspiracy with John Wilkes Booth, whom we see assassinate President Lincoln moments later.

Back in the 21st century, Thomas’ great-grandson Patrick and his son Ben Gates are giving a presentation on the very diary whose code page Thomas tried to destroy. Suddenly, from the back of the room, Mitch Wilkinson(Ed Harris) ancestor of Jeb, announces in a dramatic Southern drawl, that he has the missing diary page, rescued from the fire, and it proves that Thomas Gates was a co-conspirator with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Lincoln. Father and son are incredulous, but the diary page is a perfect fit, and seems to incriminate their ancestor. Ben springs into action to inspect the diary page, and clear the Gates’ family name. He must find out why Thomas Gate’s name is in that diary.

The pace of the film shifts to high gear, as the trio pursue leads to Paris, London, and back to the USA, all the while they are pursued by Wilkinson. Edge-of-your seat car chases, creative burglary including Buckingham Palace and the White House, kidnapping of the President of the United States, convincingly played by Bruce Greenwood, and a series of enticing clues, keep the audience involved through the first two thirds of the film.

In order to decipher the Olmec code they discover in their raid of the Houses of Power, Ben seeks out his mother, Emily Appleton, (a smoldering Helen Mirren) a college professor, dragging his father along into a tense reunion after 32 years. The couple provide comic relief and romantic interest as they pick up arguments and chemistry where they left off 32 years ago. Ben Gates’ friend FBI agent Sadusky (Harvey Keitel) alternates between revealing the truth about the Book of Secrets and pursuing them with the full forces of the FBI, to lead to a climactic chase to the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Most of the historical details are skillfully woven into the fabric of the film, but the location of the Pre-Columban Mexican City of Gold in South Dakota is ludicrous, which for me, deadened the impact of the film’s conclusion.

The teenagers who packed the theatre seemed more interested in special effects and action than history, however, and the danger of them confusing the true history with the false won’t be as big a problem as their history teachers fear.

Solid performances by some of my favorite veteran actors Mirren, Voight and Harris provide something for the adults to enjoy.

PG is for violence, and brief sexual innuendo. Some positive treatment of American presidents and institutions, and the rewards of forgiveness between Patrick and Emily, though the protagonists Ben and Abigail are portrayed living together without marriage.
Recommended for older children and up.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

My review of this fun family film is up at Catholic Exchange.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The ACOG has heard us: some progress made on pre-natal screening

Executive Director
National Down Syndrome Congress

(January 15, 2008)

" In its December 2007 Practice Bulletin 88, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) expands on its position regarding invasive prenatal diagnostic testing for Down syndrome, which was originally outlined in its January 2007 Practice Bulletin 77. The main recommendation is "invasive diagnostic testing should be available to all women"Maternal age of 35 years alone should no longer be used as a threshold to determine who is offered screening versus who is offered invasive testing." Though the guideline states "prenatal diagnosis is not solely performed for assistance in the decision of pregnancy termination," the implication is that a baby with Down syndrome is a bad outcome that should be avoided.

Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence presented to support the recommendation which is based primarily on 'consensus and expert opinion', the weakest level of support. Of equal concern is that the authors of ACOG Practice Bulletins 88 and 77 are neither named nor are any potential financial conflicts of interest disclosed. This omission calls into question the process by which 'expert opinion' is transformed into public health policy.

Practice Bulletin 88 does suggest referral to the NDSC, NDSS or local organizations, when a diagnosis of Down syndrome is made. Although this is a step in the right direction, there is still much work to be done to convince the medical community of the worth of people with Down syndrome.

The National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC) believes that individuals with Down syndrome have innate worth and should be treated with dignity and respect. The NDSC calls upon ACOG to require that all patients be given, without prejudice, information that accurately reflects the realities of a life with Down syndrome. Furthermore, ACOG and other health care organizations should ensure that doctors and other health care professionals are adequately trained to provide accurate, non-directive information.

Our goal is not to limit a woman's access to prenatal screening, nor to limit her reproductive choices. Rather, it is to ensure the screening and diagnostic process is done in the context of an informed personal conversation with the woman's doctor, during which current, balanced information is given about the reality of Down syndrome today. In this way, we hope decisions can be made based on knowledge and not fear.

The new statement by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is better, in that it actually recommends that when a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome is made,that patients are given information about National Down Syndrome Congress and the National Down Syndrome Society. This is, I firmly believe the result of the hard work of thousands of individuals with Down syndrome, and the families who love them. Even the New York Times took note of our efforts, as they report here.
The book "Gifts", the first ever Carnival of Down syndrome, the movie, "Mr. Blue Sky" and articles like my "A Special Mother is Born" have begun to make a difference in how Obstetricians will talk to their patients carrying a child with Down syndrome. I hope my upcoming book on Catholic mothers of special needs children will add to the discussion of how these people have blessed the world with their presence.
The Prenatally and Post-natally Diagnosed Conditions Act, S803 would codify into law the rights of such parents to receive a fair discussion of exactly what life with Down syndrome is like. It's the very least you would expect in a free society.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I'm an Amazing Catechist

Just ask my students during tomorrow night's First Holy Communion class!
No, really, I am a columnist on a new website called Amazing Cathechists which is a free resource for all you out there you teach CCD or RCIA classes or homeschool your children in the faith. It's so new, that a few parts are still under construction, but pay us a visit and meet some talented catechists who offer their insights on a wide variety of topics.
New columns will be added monthly, and we hope to offer a wealth of free resources for you to use with your students.
There is no greater joy than passing on the faith, and I am priveleged to be a part of this exciting apostolate. Lisa Mlandinich, whose story, "Acting Up" is featured in this month's "Faith and Family"magazine is the webmistress and originator of Amazing Catechists. Her puppet scripts can be found at Catholic Puppet Show Ministry at Catholic

Kissing the Face of God

This lovely painting is everywhere on the web, and I just found the source. The artist, Morgan Wiestling explains her inspiration for her masterpiece here.
Thank you Morgan, for using your God-given gift to inspire Catholic mothers like me to kiss the face of Jesus when we kiss our little ones.

Ode to Terry

The mother of Terry, a little guy with sparkling blue eyes and a winning smile shares her joy.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Time to rejoice in being a Catholic

The Anchoress has a beautiful video of my favorite Latin hymn, Adoro Te Devote sung in a monastery in the morning. It makes you so thankful to God that God made you a Catholic!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Attachment Parenting Discussion: My Two Cents

Two prominent Catholics whom I admire, Danielle Bean, and Gregory Popcak,(who attended my blogging talk at the Society of Catholic Social Scientists Conference) have been having an intense discussion online about Attachment Parenting, which I will refer to as AP. They mean Dr William Sears' approach, which is also from La Leche League where Moms breastfeed children on demand, co-sleep with children, wear their babies in slings, etc. My friend, blogger Steve Garvin asked my opinion about AP with respect to Attachment Parenting in an email, so I'm posting it here.

So many times, something in my live corresponds with this blog, I can't help but feel God's hand in all this. I was re-reading for the umteenth time, the section in Dr. Sears'"The Baby Book", which deserves to be the "Baby and Child Care"(Dr Spock) of this generation, and probably is, about attachment parenting special needs children. Dr. Sears has 9 children and Stephen, now in his twenties, has Down syndrome. Martha Sears, RN, his wife wrote the foreword for the book "Gifts". In his all too brief section on children with Down syndrome, he writes that raising children with special needs is when your attachment parenting skills really shine, you are tuned into your child's needs and know how to respond to them.

I breastfed Christina till she self-weaned at 2 1/2 years, which, for my girls is early. Gabbi weaned at 3 1/2 because I had been having miscarriages, and Isabella reluctantly weaned at 3. The reason Christina probably self-weaned is because had gestational diabetes, my placenta was disintegrating, and I had a C-section at 8 mos. so my milk was VERY difficult to start, and I never completely breastfed Christina. It was half and half. All three girls slept in the family bed, on the side next to me, with a bedrail next to them, and Christina still does. We have a caboose bed, a single bed on the floor next to our king size bed, and last night she fell asleep there.

Attachment parenting got me out of the senseless scheduling of the 1960's where everything was run by the clock, and babies belonged in 'holders', the crib, the playpen, the high chair, the car seat, the stroller. Not to say I didn't have these things, but my babies often preferred the sling, or my arms, and I tried to satisfy their needs as much as possible, which wasn't too difficult since my girls are 4 and 41/2 years apart because of my three miscarriages, gestational diabetes, and ecological breastfeeding limited my fertility more than most moms. I also married at 29, cutting off many fertile years. This is something I am not happy about, I always wanted a large family, but since raising Christina is so demanding, and I must earn money in our situation, I try to see God's providence in my family size, and be grateful for what I have.

Thus AP works well for me, and I do feel quite close to my girls. It helped me cope with Gabbi's colic, when my family was trying to help by giving my "Ferberizing" books, and it helped with Bella when I had a family day care in the home, and felt like I didn't have enough time just with her during the day we bonded again at night. It helped me with Christina who cried far less than the other two, so I had to be on top of her needs, or she would go hungry.

Now that my youngest is nearing 6, I am finding myself reading Dr Guarendi to deal with sibling squabbles, and other discipline issues. His practicality, sense of humor which gives him balance, and understanding of the nature of children resonates with me, and my girls profess to hate him, a fact I told him personally at the IHM Conference last June(see photo) Why do they hate him? Because, for example when Bella age 3 was in time out, she would suddenly get the urge to hug Mommy. My AP side said,"don't deny your child's emotional needs", so I would let her out of time out to hug me. Dr Gurarendi reminded me that she never seemed so affectionate as when she wanted to get out of punishment; ie kids manipulate parents, and AP can make some mothers so guilt ridden, that the kids play them like violins, like Bella was doing to me. Dr Guarendi, with his outrageous sense of humor, teaches parents not to be such saps. It's a struggle I'm in the midst of as I write.

You know I homeschool, so we often struggle with discipline, like late bedtimes, and slip-shod scheduling,(we are behind Seton's demanding schedule) particularly because I must leave home frequently to teach English classes, during the academic year, and the girls are on their honor with the baby sitter for three hours or with laissez-faire Dad on Saturdays. My blog is an attempt to launch my writing career so that I can work from home, and stop leaving the house to teach. It's beginning to work, thank heaven.

In between Dr. Sears and Dr. Guarendi, I had a brief spate with Dr. Dobson, whom Greg Popcak calls Calvinist, and he's right in some areas(children are basically bad or selfish and need to be shaped to be good) but I prefer Dr. Guarendi's approach. AP doesn't take you past toddlerhood, and it is a solid foundation, but it can lead to excessive guilt. Conflict with your children is a sign of you acting like the adult, and a necessary part of parenting, however, it can be rough on us AP moms who don't want our children to cry. We must learn to endure angry crying in time out, or other punishments, and not see it as abandoning our children. Many homeschool moms have unruly children who embarrass them in public, and are impossible to homeschool because they rarely hear the word "NO". I hope I'm not one of them, but I suspect I'm closer than I should be.

My girls are respectful and reasonably well behaved at Mass, with other adults, in summer camp with the sisters, with their friends mothers, and with their grandparents, and I often receive compliments. Many of those family members who were skeptical abut homeschooling are starting to understand why I do it, my girls don't think everything I say is useless, and roll their eyes. At least not in public. At home, we struggle with respect, doing chores. sibling squabbles, and prayer time. Which makes us a normal, loving Catholic family, I hope.

My husband wishes we were better about bedtime, and does see me as a bit lax in some ways, and I am working on instilling more discipline. I need to re-read my autographed Dr Guarendi book, "Good Discipline, Great Teens", which was out on loan to a mom of 10.

Now, Steve, I'll attempt to discuss AP and special needs children. I thank God I was good at AP by the time Christy was a baby, because I was confident at meeting babies needs. If not, mothering a 5 lb special needs baby with a weak cry would have terrified me. I won't say I didn't have my doubts, but I turned to the all too brief sections of Dr. Sear's book which deal with babies with Down syndrome, which I can recite by memory. I once wrote him asking him to write a book exclusively for parents like us, and I hope he's thinking about it. Now that Christina is an extraordinarily strong willed child of 5, I feel like reading Dr. Dobson's book of that name, which I once owned, but probably loaned out. Just as well, because Christy has reduced understanding, and that book won't take that into account. Therein lies my dilemma. Just how much can I demand of a child who doesn't understand much of the "IF. ..then" explanations I give her. "IF you put away your toys, then you can have a snack".
I have a sneaking suspicion, writing this, that I will someday write the book I wish were out there on parenting special needs children. Once I figure it out. I'm FAR from that now, unfortunately.

I still can't toilet train Christina, she runs away from me in public, usually towards traffic, and must be in a stroller, though she's been walking for 3 years, and she often says a loud "NO" to my requests. We are using the 'naughty chair' (yes, I have watched "Nanny 911" and seen myself!) which seems to help. I have people who undermine my authority because Christy is special, and they live with me, but I'm not naming names. People who pick her up when she's on the floor having a tantrum because I said, "NO" to a video, and comfort her, making me the bad guy. *Sigh*
This is a long, and searingly honest post. If you had any illusions about me from the lovely photos I post, I'm certain you now see me as a human being, struggling to serve God in my family, with mixed results. I know where my strength lies, in the Eucharist, and daily prayer, and I try to get to Adoration, on Thursdays, and often don't to build up my spiritual reserves for those struggles, but often those very struggles keep me from getting to Adoration.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, a sinner.

Now I have to go and crack the whip, as the noon whistle rang and only my14 year old Gabbi is downstairs doing schoolwork. Bella saw me distracted on the computer, and snuck upstairs to play. She tells me she's working, but since she has no desk in her room, I have my doubts. . .

1/10 UPDATE: Attachment Parenting in special situations. I was in the hosptial last month when she had double pnemonia, and attachment parenting meant lying in bed with Christina in my arms and hold her oxygen tube. I noticed that when we were holding her, her oxygen level went up. This was also the finding of studies of preemies, the more physical contact they had with their parent's bodies, skin to skin if possible, the higher their blood oxygenation, leading to what's now called "kangaroo care" or special time for this in NICU wards

How could we have held that tube and comforted Christina at the same time without being so close to her? In this photo, you see Francisco trying to convince her to accept the oxygen tube. Christina was so intimidated by the hospital routine, that she refused all treatment; IVs, masks, shots, liquids, oral medicines, with a strength which belied her serious condition. AP saved the day here!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Pictures of my favorite Christmas gift ever

I got the best Christmas gift ever this year; I took my little girl home from the hospital at 6PM Christmas Eve, not quite healthy from her pnemonia, yet taking her home was the most amazing gift I have ever received for Christmas.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Pope Benedict and I are cat people

Here's a post from The Cafeteria is Closed which describes the Holy Father's fondness for felines. I hear that his cat Chico has written biography of his famous owner, which is out in Italian(clever kitty). I am waiting to read it in English.
Here's my cat story.
I dedicate this in memory of my cat Max, who died last week in an accident, at only four years old .
Max was one of those cats who resembles a dog in his gregariousness. Whatever was going on in our home, Max was at the center of it. I had just deleted two photos of his back as we were setting up the Christmas tree. No matter where Max was, if you did something unusual, he had to investigate it. We called him the supervisor.
Every morning, as I stumbled across the kitchen to get my coffee and let out two Labradors outside, Max would hear them, and appear at the door, to come in and greet me. I would pet him, but Max was demanding, he wanted attention while I was on the computer. Sometimes, he would settle for lying on the desk between the keyboard and the screen, where I could give him an occasional stroking. Other times, he would sit on the hard drive, gazing out the window at the clear bird feeder, twitching his feathery tail in anticipation. When a bird came to feed, Max would spring at the window, bumping his head each time. Since he never learned, it was just as well that the birds started to avoid the scary feeder!
Max's mother was killed in a car accident as well, but since we had rescued him from a nearby farm with his aunt, and two cousins, Max had a surrogate mother and brothers. They licked one another's ears, cuddled together on the wicker rocker cushion on the front porch.They were inseparable. Often I would invite them inside on a cool evening, and they would politely refuse, they were there to see the nighttime action from a comfortable spot, thanks anyway.

Max had a friendly boxing match with our dog Molly nearly every day, which hardly ever escalated into hostility. He would wander into the kitchen, sometimes rubbing up against Molly's legs, to see if she were ready for sparring. If Molly bowed playfully, the two would start, Max not using his claws, but just jabbing her playfully.

My daughters loved Max, Bella would walk around with him in an embrace, his paws around her neck, him snuggling her neck. Sometimes , she couldn't have him in her bed at night, as he oten insisted on curling around her head on the pillow like one of those furry Russian hats. Max got along with our cranky old lady tortoise shell call, Maggie, whom his brothers drove to hissing fits. The two would be curled up tother on a spare bed peacefully. Max was the cat who like everyone, and whom no one could dislike. He was the first cat to greet guests, often mixing with the dogs to investigate the newcomer, and when we were offering some of the resuced cats for adoption, many offered to take him, but we jealously guarded him for ourselves.

One time, my father's lab and Molly feeling their oats, chased Max into the spruce tree and kept him there for 40 minutes before we discovered their betrayal. A dog and cat may be friends inside, but outside they revert to their baser instincts. Poor Max was traumatized, however, after a few weeks realized that it was only a game, and he forgave Molly. When Max turned up missing last week, Molly kept waiting for Max at the back door, and when he didn't appear, she would put her head on her paws with a deep sigh. I know how you feel, Molly, he was a good friend.

Somehow, I imagine him prowling around a Heavenly backyard, hunting moles, and cuddling at night with his mother licking his ears. CS Lewis imagined that Our Lord allowed domestic pets a spot in the Celestial Kingdom. I like to think we was right.

I had a special Ginger tabby with white chest and paws, Tyga, when I was a shy bookish teen. Here was my favorite poem about the two of us then. Thanks to Maureen who left this after Gerald Augustinius' post on papal felines.

I and Pangur Ban my cat,'
Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

'Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur's way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.'

Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
'Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.
-- by an anonymous Irish monk.
Translation by Robin Flower.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New movie to premiere Tuesday, Jan 8

It's a real-life dramatization of the story of Our Ladyof Guadalupe

Watch the trailer here.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

How not to enlist your family's help cleaning the homeschool room

1. beg- "PLEASE help me find my cell phone bill, before they cut off service"
2. plead- ". . . if you ever want to use it again!"
3. threaten- "I don't want to accidently throw out something of yours, you'd better come and watch me!"
4. cajole- "I'll play funny cartoons from YouTube on the computer to make time go faster".
5. bargain-"OK, I'll take you out to use your gift cards if you help me clean the room"
6. blackmail-"Oh LOOK at that cute baby picture with chocolate on your face, that I can show all your friends!"
7. bribe- "OK, if you help me, we'll go see "National Treasure" after we go shopping"
8. give up and blog about it

Coming soon

"The Pirates Who Don't do Anything" see the trailer here.

My review of "Juno" is up at Catholic Exchange

Go over and read it there, if you haven't already read it at my new blog, Catholic Media Review.
And then, go and see it.

Do you have a "Moment of Beauty" to share?

Writer and editor Patrice Fragnant-McArthur is inviting you to share your photos of moments of beauty you've experienced here. She says, I am inviting all of you to take part. Please send photos of your favorite "moments of beauty" to me at The only rule is that you must have taken the photo (I don't want any copyright infringement issues.) I will be happy to list your name and to post a link to your website or blog."

How about this photo? Nothing more beautiful than a sleeping child!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Mary Mother of God

In researching for my post at Mount Carmel Catholic Bloggers on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, I came accross the website of the Boston Catholic Journal.
This is the icon of Our Lady of Damascus.
Our family went to a late mass, said a family rosary, and then watched a video on the apparitions in Medugorje, while sharing eggnog and cookies.
I went there for Easter of 1987 and have loved the rosary ever since. I am trying to remain faithful to Our Lady's message there to pray, fast and do penance. Her call for peace becomes more prophetic every day. Here is the most recent message from Our Lady, according to Jakov, the youngest visionary.
Though this apparition has not received formal approval from the Vatican, the faithful are free to believe in it. I have heard private testimony from the Superior of a major conservative religious order (on condition of his anonymity) that he believes this apparition is authentic. He said, "I believe it's real: I heard the confessions there". Father will be happy to be named when the apparitions are formally approved, he was speaking as an individual, NOT as a superior or a priest.
HT Spirit Daily

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Quiet New Year's Eve at Home

Since Christina is still recovering from pnemonia, we celebrated the New Year quietly at home, without guests.
That's not to say we didn't have fun, Isabella and Christina threw confetti, and we saved our sparkling cider toast, and New Year's Eve mice for midnight.
Happy New Year everyone!

HT Faith and Family magazine for recipe for "Christmas Eve Mice" which we re-named 'New Year's Eve' mice.