Monday, June 30, 2008

What Was I Supposed To Be - Ray Boltz

Look for the child with Trisomy 21 in the middle of this video.

Want to share your child's beautiful First Holy Communion photos?

I have just joined the reviewing team of The Catholic Company, and they are conducting a contest for my readers.
The Catholic Company, the market leader for online Catholic books and gifts, has just announced a First Communion Photo Contest. What a great excuse to pull those photos out of the photo book and show them off again. Bloggers, podcasters, and webmasters can also win a $100 gift certificate for referring the winning entry to the contest, so be sure to spread the word. Winners will be featured on View From a Pew, The Catholic Company blog.

Why Christina's latest new word is "beach"

Since we are surrounded by water on Long Island, many of our nature trips involve the seashore. In fact, in the last two weeks, we explored Atlantis Aquarium, Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and Cedar Beach, pictured here. What an incredible blue Long Island Sound was in this photo!
Isabella is collecting data on the dunes, and Christina is enjoying the turles and salt water fish tanks.

Great articles on Trisomy 21

Raising Joey has reprinted an article from Beverly Beckham at the Boston Globe on raising her daughter with Down syndrome and an interview with a parent of a T21 child in American Baby magazine. Both articles share a realistic picture of life raising our special children, yet are very upbeat in tone, helping to break old stereotypes of how difficult their lives are. The more we can get the message in the media, the better life will be for our kids, and the fewer mothers who will panic at the thought of raising a child with T21 and abort.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Germans realize the blessings of children

In this wonderful You Tube video on Danielle I appreciate the boy with Trisomy 21 being included in the mix, as one who teaches us.
They certainly do!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Down syndrome dolls a good thlng?

I have posted on Downi Creations, dolls which have some of the features of Down syndrome, and The Times Online has an article about another company who makes these dolls. While they are closer to the true appearance of dolls with Trisomy 21, I don't like the protruding tongue, as that is a habit we have worked to break with Christina. She no longer does it, and I would prefer a doll who doesn't have this trait.
Otherwise, I would love to see if she relates better to this doll than she normally does to dolls, before I lay out $50. She usually prefers her stuffed Elmo, taking him everywhere with her, even in a special compartment on the back of her tricycle.
What do you think?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Jesus is seen through innocent eyes

A couple of days ago, I posted on Causa Nostrae Laetitiae about Jean Vanier of L'Arche Communities address to the International Eucharistic Congress. It gave me a chance to share some of my favorite stories of Christina recognizing Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Now, I am finding inspiring stories around the blogosphere about these holy innocents and their extraordinary devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. Ecclesia Domestica has one, Through Jimmy's Eyes, and Loving Sophia has another, "Every Good and Perfect Gift".

I can't help but feel that Our Lord is teaching us something here. . ."and a little child shall lead them".

Christina's hidden talent

Have I ever mentioned that baseball is an important part of my childhood?
Dad was a Little League Coach for my brothers and eventually was commissioner of the entire League for our town.
I played on a girls' softball league in junior high, for which my dad was umpire. One game I was called out as I got a hit, because I threw the bat, hitting the ump (who was Dad) in the shins. Twice in one game! Another time, our team was down 15 runs in the last inning. We scored 17 runs in one inning in a fantastic rally, to win the game. Such happy memories.

Gabbi and Bella have both played on a softball team in the school field behind our yard, until sadly, they outgrew the league.
I never considered that Christina might have the same talent.
On Father's Day, she showed us that she had great (lefty) batting skills. She got 12 hits out of 20 pitches, beating sister Bella's batting average.
Play ball!

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Et tu?": Hospitality in my home - The diary of a former atheist

"Et tu?": Hospitality in my home - The diary of a former atheist
Jen takes Martha Stewart to a whole new level. I thought I was the most hysterical woman on the planet when it comes to creepy crawly things, but if I ever saw a scorpion in MY kitchen, I'd burn the house down!

Trisomy 21 reading list

I just found an encouraging new website for new parents of a child with Down syndrome and found a lot of books to add to my ever-growing reading list. Check it out here.

Possible cure for cancer comes from Down syndrome research

When Gabbi and I went to Dr. Roger Reeves' lecture on his groundbreaking research on Down syndrome last month in New York University, we were thrilled to hear that since people with an extra 21st chromosome don't get many types of cancerous tumors, research for treatments for Down syndrome may also lead to cures for certain types of cancer. Read more here.
Dr Reeves has a grant from the National Cancer Institute in addition to his grants from the Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation. Since he is also finding links to Alzheimer's Disease and the 21st chromosome, there may be grant money forthcoming from the AARP! As Dr. Reeve's wryly quipped, "Looking at the age of Senators, you can see why there so much NIH funding for Alzheimer's!"
Not long ago, parents who were expecting children with Trisomy 21 were given abortion as their only option. No one was interested in doing research for a cure, since the death of Dr. Lejeune in 1996. But, thanks be to God, parents like me found that unacceptable; no one was going to say our children had lives unworthy of life, and there was a cure out there, according to Dr. Lejeune, and we are going to push until the funding of the NIH for Trisomy 21 research(only 17 million) matches what is spent on Autism (127 million). And, according to Amy Harmon of the New York Times, we are reviving interest in research for our children.
There is nothing like a mother's or father's love for their child.

Just an old fashioned girl


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

I am more old fashioned than I thought!
HT Catholic Fire

Friday, June 20, 2008

Help aid the midwest flood victims

From Jessica of Raising Joey
As many of you know, Amy from The Flege Farm lives outside Des Moines, Iowa and knows many people who were affected by the Iowa River flooding. The local ARC's office, the local library, and a friend's medical office, who also has a child with Down syndrome, has been destroyed.
The other day I was trying to think of a way to help out and again my online Usborne Book Store came to my mind. I am going to open up an eShow named as Iowa Flood Victims Book Drive. You can purchase Usborne Books for the flood victims and they will be shipped to Amy to be given out to people that have been affected by the floods. Just email me before you purchase the books and I will give you Amy's address if you don't already have it.
Along with the Usborne eShow, Michelle over at Big Blueberry Eyes will be doing the same type of drive with her Discovery Toys Online Store. The toys will also be shipped directly to Amy.
Also, after talking to Amy, many families are in need of clothes and other items. If you are interested in shipping any extra items you may have around your house, you can contact me at RaisingJoey{at}
If you have an online store and would like to add your business to this wonderful cause, please let me know and I will add you to this. Also, please spread the word about our book and toy drive. If you would like the coding for our button to post on your blog, please email me.

Buddies Helping Iowa Flood Victims Raising Joey's Usborne Books eShow
Big Blueberry Eyes Discovery Toys Store

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Confimation in the Traditional Rite

This rite was performed on Father's Day in our cathedral of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre. Many of the confirmundi are homeschoolers and friends. The three young ladies pictured here sing in the Holy Angels Schola with my daughter Gabriela.
See the article here from the Long Island Catholic.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Examination of Conscience available on your Iphone

This is an innovative use of technology for the New Springtime of Evangelization. While preparing for confession, you can download Fr. Altier's Examination of Conscience by following the instructions here.
Well done!
HT Catholic Tube

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Like mother like daughter

101 Inspirational Stories of the Power of Prayer has just been published by Franciscan Monastery Publishing, and my mother, Eleanor B. Crafa has a story on how she met my father on page 192 entitled "A Mother's Prayer". It's a story I have posted on this blog, and now we're thrilled that my Grandmother prayers for my parents to meet will be inspiring many others.
As soon as I read the book I'll link to my reviews on Catholic Media Review.

I was very impressed by this story of a miracle of the healing of a little boy with Down syndrome through the prayers of Fr. Michael Scanlon, former president of Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Dads of Down syndrome

Here's a link to a short NPR radio broadcast from a teenage girl. Mary Warm and her father, David Warm.

The honesty of their discussion and their closeness is truly touching. This is fatherhood at it's best.

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 13, 2008

June is for weddings: Why I love St. Anthony

Last year, I told the story of my parents finding each other because of their prayers to St. Anthony. I am grateful for his intercession because he found me a handsome Hispanic Catholic husband. When I was single, Fr. John Kennedy, a Vincentian who spends much of his time in mission work in Panama, taught me to say this prayer while praying for a husband.

San Antonio, San Antonio, me buscas un novio, (St. Anthony find me a groom)
San Benito, San Benito, que sea bonito. (St. Benito may he be handsome!)

Did I mention that my father in law's name is Antonio?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A new blog to enrich your homeschool

A dear homeschooling friend with many artistic gifts has begun a blog A Homeschooling Thespian about introducing the performing arts into your homeschool. Go over and learn how to help your children develop their proclivity towards the arts.

We went to the aquarium

To say goodbye to some dear friends who are leaving Long Island, the girls and I took a field trip to the aquarium. I wasn't certain what Christina would get from the trip, we hadn't been there for two years. I was gratified to see how much her level of understanding and maturity has grown. Her attention span was much longer; she gazed at the colorful coral reef tank for nearly half an hour. (sorry I left the camera in the car and it was 103 degrees outside, I couldn't make myself go out for it!)
Christina recognized the clown fish from her favorite movie, "Finding Nemo", and enjoyed interacting with the stingrays as we fed them, and the friendly sea lion who 'visited' us through the glass underwater. She kept talking about the "feesh"in an animated way, letting me know how much the trip had fired her imagination.
I sat for a brief rest, reading a local newspaper, and Christina asked for a copy. She sounded out the name of the paper, "T-W-E-E-N-S" and I was thrilled. This unexpected progress nearly made up for the fact that chasing an unruly 6 year old through the aquarium when the heat is oppressive is exhausting. Christina still loves to run away from me, vanishing into crowds of schoolchildren, and since part of the aquarium is next to the Peconic River, I was really frustrated keeping up with her. I tied her into the stroller repeatedly, hoping to make a point, that running away from me will result in a loss of freedom.
But God is good. I met a friend from our local Down syndrome support group, whose 8 year old daughter is just emerging from the running away stage. We shared war stories and I could see the difference two years of maturity can make. This gives me hope that someday, we can walk through a museum or aquarium together calmly, just enjoying the exhibits.
Imagine that. . .

Monday, June 9, 2008

"Be prepared"

While preparing for the daunting task of decluttering a home where homeschooling has been carried out for a decade, I ask myself the important question, "why am I saving this?"about a bag of candles I found in the dresser.
Last night, I found them VERY useful. Read why here.

Indiana Jones and the KIngdom of the Crystal Skull

My father told me that he and his three brothers spent every Saturday afternoon in the 1940’s watching double features at the local cinema, usually Westerns and war films. His mother never had to check in her local Catholic paper to make certain that the films would not steal her sons’ innocence or bash the Church. As a mother who is also a film critic, I have two reasons to envy my grandmother’s ability to trust Hollywood. This time you can relax moms, if you have nothing against bashing Commies, ugly corpses pot out at you, and really BIG explosions, you can let your older children see the revival of Harrison Ford’s incomparable Indiana Jones’ character in “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls”.
This film is set in 1957, in the desert compound of the nuclear tests of the Cold War, and the bad guys are the Communists who want US military secrets, with a few PC swipes at McCarthyists and FBI agents. Indy’s reputation at the University is destroyed by the duplicity of a double agent war buddy, and, as he leaves town utterly dejected, we are left to wonder where the adventure will begin. We are not disappointed, Spielberg hasn’t lost his touch for suspense and rollicking adventure. He even ties in a bit of 1970’s space flick into the plot. Did anyone else out there see “Chariots of the Gods?” You’ll be putting your knowledge to good use in this film.

When the Indiana Jones films came out, they sparked a wave of historical adventure films, the most recent of which are the National Treasure series, which have more interesting story lines and fast moving plot twists than Crystal Skulls. But they don’t have Indy. The revival of the college professor turned treasure hunter is still our good friend Indiana Jones, with a couple of references to his age notwithstanding, he still gets his archeological clues, defeats the bad guys, all the while keeping track of that weathered fedora. I have always preferred Indy to James Bond, he’s just as adventurous, he gets beat up and dirty yet still keeps his looks, and he doesn’t use women. They use him, or at least clobber him once or twice.
My favorite two Indiana Jones films involve religious artifacts: the Ark of the Covenant, and the Holy Grail. Stephen Spielberg spun wonder and awe at the power of God into those films, especially when juxtaposed against the diabolical Nazis, and the theme of this film lacked that punch, in the same way which Temple of Doom did. Perhaps, we can suggest a theme where the Shroud of Turin is lost to gangs of anti-Christian thugs?

It was gratifying to watch Cate Blanchett’s playfully overdone Dr. Irina Spalko, Soviet scientist, ruthless and drunk with her own power. Shia LeBoef, Indy’s new sidekick Mutt is not yet worthy of picking up the fedora, he lacks the personality of his mentor, and yes, even the looks. Indy at 65 may look worse for wear, yet can still wrestle bad guys on moving vehicles, spit out his defiance of his enemies when surrounded, and escape impossible situations with a crack of his bullwhip.
If you’re looking for a nostalgic return to the adventure of Indian Jones, with the added bonus of the return of a blast from his past, and are not in the market for an involved plot, this is the fun, scary, escapist fantasy for you. A throwback to the B-movie serials of the 1940’s with awesome special effects.
No nudity, no coarse language, fleeting references to crotch injury, and the only kissing was perfectly appropriate (imagine that! Older children and up, due to frightening scenes.

Friday, June 6, 2008

La Quincenera: Gabriela Maria

Gabbi is what the Latinos call "La Quincinera", the young lady celebrating her fifteenth birthday.

In Mexico, I was able to attend a Quincinera Mass at the Cathedral in Hermosillo. The young lady dedicated her chastity to the Blessed Virgin Mary as she entered society, a Catholic debutante. I was invited to a Salvadorean girl's party which was as lavish as a wedding, with limousines, and a catering hall, and friends dressed in bridesmaid dresses and tuxedos.
I think such celebrations are way overdone in terms of cost, but the idea of a Mass where a young woman promises chastity during her courtship years is one which Evangelicals have picked up on in some ways better than Catholics. I can hear you say, "why don't you, Leticia?" Don't worry, I'm already thinking of something for Gabbi's sweet sixteenth party. . .

Meanwhile, let me wish my daughter all the love she has brought to me. Gabbi is my first child, who endured all my new mother nervousness as she screamed with colic for hours on end her first three months. She taught me how to mother, and then began to mother her little sisters, especially Christina. To understand their close relationship, read her prizewinning essay, "My Sister is Special". No wonder she's in demand as a babysitter!

She is the charming young lady whose Latin is better than mine, who teaches me the Latin hymns she sings in Holy Angels Schola, which will be singing for a Mass on my birthday June 28 (I can't think of a better gift). She's the sharp dresser who can make modest clothing look cool, and whose fashion advice I consult before any of my big events. I wouldn't even think of going out the door if Gabbi says, "you're going to wear that?"
After ten years of being homeschooled, Gabbi works all day on her own, sometimes doing her papers late a night, after she finally gets Mom away from the computer. She is my right hand around the house, always seeing what needs to be done, and quietly doing it.
Always ready for our family jokes with her brilliant smile, she has a great sense of humor and, like her mother loves to play softball. She used to play in the school field behind our backyard, she'd climb over the back fence when she was late to practice. She is already counting the days till she can take her road test (about 360) and I have a feeling that she won't be home much longer, so I try to cherish every moment we have left.
Gabbi dreams of being a Nurse Practitioner because, as she says, "I like working with people," and she understands how difficult marriage is when one is working the long hours of a doctor. She already has her CPR certification and is much calmer than I in a crisis. She'll be a wonderful nurse, she is gentle, compassionate, smart and connects easily with anyone she comes across. She is in great demand as a best friend.
God has great plans for you, my sweet oldest daughter, and as long as you continue in His friendship, trusting your future to His providence, it will be amazing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

On acquiring virtue

St. Francis de Sales
“[T]here are some virtues of universal application, and which should infuse their own spirit into everything. We have but rarely opportunities for the practice of courage, magnanimity, and great sacrifices. But every action of our daily life should be influenced by gentleness, temperance, humility, and purity. … Every station in life imposes some peculiar obligation; different virtues are incumbent upon a bishop, a prince, or a soldier –the wife has her duties and the widow hers, and although all should practice every virtue, still each should seek chiefly to advance in those peculiarly required by the state of life to which God has called him. … Amongst those virtues not especially involved by our position, we should cultivate the most excellent rather than the most showy…It is a good practice to select some particular virtue at which to aim ---not neglecting the others, but in order to give regularity and method to the mind.”
Introduction to the Devout Life
I remember reading that St. Francis had a violent temper in his youth, but conquered it so completely through daily confession (it's reputed he sometimes confessed three times daily) that by the time of his death he was known as mild mannered.
HT Mary Vitamin

Happy 11th birthday, Isabella

To my vivacious daughter who loves nature, and devours life in big bites, never letting her mother forget that life is a precious gift, happy birthday. I have been told that you are my boy because of your boisterous enthusiasm, yet you are sublimely beautiful and feminine, through rough and tumble by turns, just as I was in my scabby-kneed youth.
You are the first to break out the Advent box in November, and decorate the house, the one who finds the daffodils peeking out of the earth in February, and runs to inform me of the first robin of spring. You remind me to pray, and come up with profound spiritual questions while I'm cooking dinner. Your mind is always working, sometimes, making it hard for you to sleep. Just like your mother!
You suffer from allergies, but never let that stop you from loving the outdoors, as you explore the woods beyond our yard with the dog at your side.
You patiently teach Christina how to speak and sing her Barney songs endlessly, sometimes making her collapse in helpless belly laughs with your antics. You are a great companion to your older sister, and I love to listen to you two whispering together in that secret sister talk I always longed for growing up.
May Our Lady and Our Lord Jesus always be close to you, bringing out the best in your brilliant personality, and joyful spirit, and keeping you close in your trials, which must surely come. Within their care, your life will always have meaning, your joy will be sweeter, and your future is eternal happiness.
I love you!

Monday, June 2, 2008

June is for weddings

My friend Elizabeth has posted her terribly romantic courtship and wedding story. No showy platinum weddings or scary bridezillas, just two young Catholics in love who do things right!

This story should serve a role model for our daughters, first comes love and faith. Weddings plans do not deserve the ridiculous out of proportion attention they now receive, thanks to materialism.