Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pro-life Blog Awards

Thank you, DR at The Maritime Sentry for nominating me for this prestigious award from the American Life League.As ALL says, blogging, especially pro-life blogging can be a lonely and thankless job. I hear that.
Sometimes when comments are sparse, or overwhelimingly negative as they were on this post, I wonder if the only readers out there are coming by accident through Google. I certainly don't want to preach to choir, and unintentional readers may have their eyes opened in ways they never imagined, but still, it's so gratifying to be recognized by fellow writers, bloggers, and pro-lifers. Thank you.
There is no voting from the general public, a panel of pro-life bloggers and media specialists will decide the winners. I'm on pins and needles; this would be a great honor coming from ALL.

Hope for the future

Don't you just love these inspirational videos which show the wide range of activities which await our children with Trisomy 21?
As I was saying on the TV interview last week, there has never been a better time to raise a child with T21, the future is full of possibilities. Read the Down Syndrome Info Organtization's book "Whisper's of Hope" in PDF form, here.
IF only they weren't aborted at 90%!
Keep Infants with Down Syndrome.
HT Down syndrome Info.org

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feast of the Holy Innocents

In honor of the Holy Innocents,the first martyrs for Christ, killed by Herod, we celebrate this memorial today. The minor key and lyrics of The Coventry Carol carry the mood of mourning for the innocents of today who are killed in their mother's womb.

Coventry Carol
Pause Music!
Lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, Thou little tiny Child.
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young, to slay.

Then woe is me,
poor Child, for Thee
,And ever mourn and say;
For Thy parting, nor say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Carol Sing Along

Right now, on Christmas night, my girls and I are singing to the MIDIs on this page.
It's free music you can listen to and have a computer carol sing along.
A Blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tonight was my first TV appearance

Imagine the most grueling day possible; giving an ancient history test on the day before Christmas vacation to nineteen adolescents. Then imagine having to rush home towhisk a sick child to the pediatrician, while fighting a fever yourself. Rush to the drugstore, rush home all on snowy roads, and eat a quick supper. Then, make yourself presentable for your very first TV appearance. In English. (Last year at the March for Life, I was interviewed by Japanese TV. )
Got the picture? Now you have a vignette of my day. Actually the busyness was probably a blessing, keeping anxiety at bay. I called friends asking for prayers while nervously applying makeup, but once I got to the TV studio, only ten miles from home, and saw it full of my favorite Friars, who prayed the rosary while operating the cameras, I knew all would be well.
And it was.

I was on live TV on the Cable Access Show, "The Face of Pro-life". with host Corinne Dahm. She was very skilled at asking questions to keep a show moving, and dealt with callers as a consummate professional. Filming with Corinne was relatively easy, once I figured out which camera to face!
Talking first about the March for Life, on the live show, and then taping a show about my journey as the mother of a special needs daughter, was so easy that, when my time was up, I didn't want to leave. I spoke so enthusiastically that I almost made the show run overtime. Now Fra. Augustine will have to edit part of my comments out of the show. He had already taken some footage of Christina on the Friary playground, on the slide, playing tea party with him, and showing off for the camera. This footage was shown while we were talking, and I'm sure Christina stole the show from her mother. What a relief! I hated seeing myself on camera, it was a humbling experience.

I may have a face made for radio, and I feel more comfortable on it, but TV was easier than I thought. Thank you, Lord for providing the Friars, Corinne and Producer Darlene with the opportunity to use the expensive airtime and equipment to spread the Culture of Life.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No time or money to send Christmas Cards?

We're strapped this Christmas, for both time and money, and so I'm only sending out a few cards in the mail. Instead, I'm sending out these beautiful religious e-cards which promote my favorite new Christmas CD "The Priests". They were featured on the EWTN "The World Over" Christmas special.

This family knows what Christmas is all about!

The Duggar Family welcomes their 18th child; Jordyn-Grace.
This family is part of a growing movement of" "Quiverfull" families who understand the blessing of children.
We don't look like one of them, but for many miscarriages, we would have a large family. I am extremely grateful for my three girls, many of my friends wished for as many children as I have, and never had their own children. I do, however, get misty eyed looking at big families knowing that the season of childbearing is over for our family. God has great plans for our future, but more babies don't seem to be part of it. It's a wonderful phase in a family's life that I remember fondly.
God bless you, Duggar family for being a pro-life beacon and great example of homeschooling Christians in a darkened world!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fun in the Snow

Snow day

Since we homeschooled until this year, we never experienced the pure joy of a snow day. I got a call at 5:30AM before the snow started falling, since such a HUGE storm was expected, and since I was as excited as a little girl, I HAD to get up and enjoy not having to get up. I napped luxuriously at noon just because I could. Oh, forgotten joys of homeschooling!
I even made a run in the snow to the local grocery store in the snow, playing Christmas carols on the radio. I hated to bother God with a request for a White Christmas our first time in Connecticut, but He read my mind. Isn't He awesome?
People at the local IGA were cheerful. A remarked to a mother who had carrots, milk and Hershey's bars, that she had the essentials covered. "If I'm going to be snowed in with kids, I've GOT to have chocolate!" she said.
I was stocking up on dog food, dairy products and Christmas cookie supplies. It was such sheer pleasure finally spending time leisurely baking a Chicken Pot Pie with leftovers, and getting to light my Christmas candles, and play my new favorite CD, "The Priests", as the silent snow buried us in quiet. We had the fire crackling, and I finally felt that Christmas feeling in my new home.
I had felt it plenty at school. St Joseph's had a wonderful Christmas pageant, and the Acadmy did their more sophisticated, but beautiful tableaux earlier this week. Though the entire cast were young women (even Baby Jesus was played by an infant girl) the fact that the Wise Men were played by an Asian, an African American and a Mexican teenager was very moving. The Academy had representatives of all races in the nativity play. Yes, Christmas had definitely visted the schools, but we had so little time at home that I was looking forward to Francisco's coming up this weekend to feel like I was "home for Christmas". We will be spending Christmas Eve and Day with his parents and mine on Long Island. Such are the sacrifices of moving. BUT the girls have two weeks off, and we can spend plenty of time as a family up here enjoying the snowy woods.
This nativity was on sale at the store today, so I bought it for under $5 to remember our first "Country Christmas".

Vampires get a makeover

For those of you who have read my controversial review of "Twilight" series and film, know how I feel about the twisted idea of vampire love story. It bespeaks of a society which has turned morality on it's head.
I'm relieved to see that I am not the only one who finds it strange that formerly evil vampires are now "good guys". Phat Cat Apologetics has an impressive roundup of critical reviews from Catholics on the Twiligt Series.
Read the entire story here on the BBC website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The O Antiphons

Today the O Antiphons begin with 'O Sapientia' or, in English, 'O Wisdom'.
O Uncreated Wisdom that proceedest from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end mightily, and disposing all things sweetly! Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Sirach 24:2
Wisdom 8:1
Symbols: oil lamp, open book.

A good way to introduce your children to the O Antiphons is by singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and by building an O Antiphon House. Here is mine, as we come to the O Antiphon of the day, one of the children turns the block around, like an Advent calendar window or Jesse Tree.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great Resource for Advent: Holy Heroes

A Catholic homeschooling mom from North Carolina has put together a helpful website for the busy mom who wants to celebrate Advent but finds that time is short (isn't that all of us?)
She reminds you to pray with daily email alerts, and has plenty of solid Catholic resources.
And an adorable introduction video.
Go to Holy Heroes and help prepare your family for Jesus' coming.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Girard Family sees their new 'castle'

Gabbi took these photos from the site of "Extreme Home Makeover" when her school greeted classmate Jackie Girard as she saw her new home. This day was also her brother Lucas' 12th birthday.
The castle theme refers to the fact that her father and brother Marc who died in a tragic swimming accident last summer were very active in the Knights of Lepanto at the Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in nearby Griswold.
Gabbi said that Jackie said, "LOOK at this house!" when she was turned around to see it. Lots of crying and hugging ensued, then the family were led inside to see their fully furnished home, which has a bedroom for each of the five family members.
Governor Rell declared Thursday December 11 "Girard Family Day". It was so gratifying to see this lovely family who has given so much to the community received back some much needed support. Thanks to the Friars of Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary who submitted the video explaining the family's plight to the show, they are living in a castle.
Those who know the family, however, know how bittersweet this moment is. IF Thom and Marc could be back on earth with them, the family would trade this incredible house in one minute.
The leftover stones from the house will go to build the Marian Bell Tower at the Friary in honor of the fallen Knights of Lepanto, Thom and Marc.
Ave Maria!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Prayer to the Immaculate Conception

At the website of Our Lady of America.
This is the only approved apparition which occured in the United States, yet there is still no widespread devotion to Our Lady under this title. Fr Andrew Apostoli told me that she promised that if her statue were installed in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception that a great era of grace would begin and the Shrine would become even greater than Lourdes.
We need a new Marian devotion now than ever to combat the sins of the age.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Celebrate Our Lady's Feast Day with this wonderful book

"Take it to The Queen; A Tale of Hope"
by Josephine Nobisso
illustrated by Katalin Szegedi
Gingerbread House Books

Imagine a kingdom, whose benevolent King gave His subjects fresh water to drink which poured from golden fountains, fields of hearty grain for baking fragrant bread, fine foals in their stables for transportation, and best of all, a beautiful and gentle Queen from among their own people, whose Son would come to visit them. You can only imagine how grateful the King's subjects would be, thanking Him each day for His kind providence, and enjoying loving fellowship with the Queen and her Son. Anyone familiar with human nature darkened by Original Sin knows that this scenario could only exist in a fairy tale. The vices of greed and pride would soon take over, spoiling the perfect gift of the King for all. Man would soon find himself in self-imposed misery, and blame the KING, DOUBTING HIS VERY EXISTENCE.

Like her popular book, "The Weight of a Mass", "Take it to the Queen" is a captivating allegory of the life of faith. But don't let Katalin Szegedi's whimsical illustrations fool you into thinking that this book solely for young children. "Take it to the Queen" is a story which has a wealth of meaning which challenges readers of all ages, and the more you read the book, the deeper you are able to mine its riches. Author Josephine Nobisso has included extensive notes under the book flaps to help the reader interpret the deeper meaning of the story and the meticulously crafted, illustrations. She does years of research around the globe for each story she writes. In "Take it to the Queen", she has incorporated elements of the popular devotion begun by Luisa Piccaretta; the Divine Will. Notes from Mrs. Nobisso at the end of the chapter explain this devotion and how it is incorporated into the story. After careful reading of this thought-provoking story, I found myself not only questioning my response to the generosity of the King, but whether I trusted my meager gifts to the loving hands of the Queen and her Son who would bring them to the King in the most beautiful form possible.

Read this story with the entire family, and enjoy the powerful story without looking at the clues. Have the children suggest any allusions to the Gospel or the life of faith on their own. Then, ask the children to uncover the symbols in the story, and watch their excitement as they recognize elements from each. I read this story to students from 5th through 8th grade, and was amazed at how enthusiastic were the reactions from each class, though each enjoyed the book on a slightly different level. The children loved the story, and so did their teacher, though I had to fight the tears at the moving depictions of God's merciful love.

The sign of a masterpiece of children's literature is that it speaks to all ages and that the book is saved to pass on to the grandchildren. "Take it to the Queen" is on its way to becoming a well-loved Catholic classic like "The Weight of a Mass". This book is highly recommended for all children of the Queen!

Get this book for your Catholic teen for Christmas

Catholic Reluctantly is the first of a series on the students of fledgling Catholic school John Paul 2 High, and I enthusiastically recommend it from the standpoint of a Catholic mother, book critic, and middle school Literature teacher. This is one to let the teens get hooked on!
Read my review at Catholic Media Review.

Reporting on the Kennedy-Brownback bill

Dr Brian Skotko, whom I quoted in my article for the Register was the inspiration for the Kennedy Brownback Bill, by conducting a survey about how women were told their child had Down syndrome.
About half of the women said doctors talked about or emphasized negative aspects: that almost 50 percent of children with Down syndrome will need heart surgery; that they will need to see a specialist for their condition; and that they will need speech or physical therapy.
But that's far from the whole story, Skotko said.

Today, surgery, treatment and therapy are readily available and often successful. And a recent study showed life expectancy for people with Down syndrome doubled between 1983 and 1997, going from 25 to about 50 years old.
Also, children diagnosed with Down syndrome are routinely mainstreamed in public schools, Skotko said. And they are scoring higher on standardized tests. Many of them even work and live on their own.

"So, just like you and I have a whole range of talent, so do people with Down syndrome," he said.

This bill which we advocates of Down syndrome have worked so hard to pass, is starting to make itself known out there, for the hope it brings. Not to mention the lives it will save.
Now we have to make sure it receives proper funding in the Spring.
Read the entire story here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Update on the Girard Exteme Home Makeover

From the look of these demolition photos they're going for a Medieval Knight Theme. This no doubt, was inspired by the Knights of Lepanto in which Thom and Marc were deeply involved.
Here is the blog for updates on the Girard Family.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Girard family wins an "Extreme Home Makeover"

After a tragic year, in which the Girard family lost their home, their father, Thom, and their oldest son, Marc, they are winnning a new home from "Extreme Home Makeover". The Friars from the Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Griswold sent a video in which the family tragedy is explained, and as a result, they are going to recieve a new home at the end of next week, when the family returns from a week in Disney World.
If you knew the family as well as I do, you would realize how much this great gift is deserved. Thom and Marc were deeply involved helping youth in the Knights of Lepanto, an outreach of the Friary.
Read the entire story here.
HT The Day

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Narnia Personality Quiz

Movie Review:

Is up at Catholic Media Review. Phatcat Apologetics has a round-up of Catholic posts on the controversial series. Moms, don't just go with the flow; there are real dangers inherent in these books. More about it later.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Super gift idea: $2 Catholic books

Sofia Institute Press a wonderful Catholic publisher has this great deal here. One book is by one of my favorites, Fr Dwight Longnecker, entitled "Adventures in Orthodoxy". They guarantee delivery by Christmas if you order by Dec 12.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Da Mihi Animas: Peter Kreeft: How to Win the Culture War

Da Mihi Animas: Peter Kreeft: How to Win the Culture War

Reasons to give thanks at my house

My parents and my brother's family made the four hour trip over the river and through the woods to my new home in Connecticut for Thanksgiving, and we had a wonderful time by the fireplace and exploring my new neighborhood.
We discovered this adorable family of burros down the road from my house, which fascinated Christina so much, when we had to leave, she told them she was going home. We'll have to revisit them, they'll make our telling of the Christmas Story come alive.

We ate delicious strawberry, coconut custard and apple pies fresh from local bakers and visited Josie's General Store in Canterbury. After dinner, we played the piano and the kids had fun without TV, just being silly and playing with the three Labs. It was an old fashioned Thanksgiving family meal.

My brother took it upon himself to organize a clean up crew for my hopelessly unpacked garage, and now we can actually get the van in the garage! No more scraping ice off in the driveway or waiting for visibility to be able to leave for school! Not to mention how scary it was to go and get things we needed from the van at night!
God bless everyone who pitched in and for my husband and Dad who fixed my collapsed kitchen cabinet shelves. Little by little we are feeling comfortable in our new home. Now, if we could only get rid of ALL the mice. . .
good thing we have our faithful cat Fritzi on patrol.
During this beautiful weekend, we enjoyed the restful sights and sounds of the farms, stream and woods around my new neighborhood, including this winter sunset. We met some of my new neighbors, our parish priest, and even a Bobcat who loped accross the road with awesome cat like agility and speed. Nature is ever present in the last green valley on the East Coast.
So, between family time, moving into my home a bit more, watching the kids play, enought time to attend daily Mass, family and nature, it was a perfect weekend.
And I am thankful to God for it all.

An advent meditation from Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online has a special mini-site for Advent here. Here's a sample.

The readings in the Liturgy of the Hours throughout this Advent season will orient us to prepare for the coming(s) of the Lord. They will challenge us to examine our lives and clear out any obstacles to the working of His grace within us and then through us in the lives of others. This time of preparation for the Nativity, the First coming and time of anticipation of the Parousia, the Second Coming, is to be lived by us as men and women signed with the Cross who are wide awake, at the ready, always looking for His coming.
The excerpts from the treasury of writings in the Christian Tradition will emphasize this theme of watchfulness. We begin on the First Sunday of Advent with an excerpt from an ancient homily from St. Cyril of Jerusalem entitled “The Twofold Coming of Christ: “We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.