Thursday, April 30, 2009

IDSC for Life to be features on John and Kathy Show

The IDSC For Life will be interviewed on the John and Kathy Show in Pittsburgh, PA. You can catch us on Wednesday, May 6, at 4:14 eastern time. We are very excited about this opportunity to share about the IDSC For Life! You can listen in on their website linked above. We hope to be able to link an audio after the interview.

We hope you can join us!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bedtime was a nightmare tonight

So I got this link from Jen (Conversion Diary) on Twitter, and now I feel better.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm speaking at the Pro-life Coffee House May 9

If you would like to hear me explain how God has blessed us, and particularly what a child with Down syndrome gives to a family, come to the
Pro Life Coffee House
Academy of the Holy Family,
W Main Street
Baltic, CT
on Saturday, May 9 at 7PM.

You will also hear from members of the Smith family, parents of Christy's church buddy, 7 year old Tommy. You will be blessed to hear of his parents' unselfish gifts of their time to take care of Tommy, and the joy he in turn gives to the whole family.

Come and share an evening of the joy of special parenthood!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday

Thanks again to Jen at Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes this Friday.

1. During Holy Week, Francisco started construction on the bonus room which he's making into a big bedroom for Gabbi. She'll have the best view in the house, and plenty of room for sleepovers.

2. We learned more about country life. The farmer accross the road has a cornfield. The farmer up the hill has cows. They worked out a deal, and what I affectionately call the "Poop Truck" makes several runs down the hill, past my house each week. Only sometimes the road is bumpy and they leave fragrant samples along the road.

Green acres, we are there!

3. Cosmo the kitten had a cold, and once he recovered, he grew 50% and found MORE energy.
Especially at night. ZZZZZZZ

4. We took our girls to Watch Hill, RI on a balmy 70 degree day, and dipped the tips of our toes (YES, the water was COLD!) into the ocean. The teenagers slept while Bella explored and Christina watched. I took photos, naturally.
The ocean was a mixture of aqua and royal blue, sparking in the sunshine. What a wonderful time we had!


5. I have been growing things for spring; on the first day I began life as a stay at home mom with kids in school (I was a homeschooling mom) I planted some flowers in my lovely garden window, thinking I'd have plenty of time to garden.

Well. . .they need thinning and transplanting, and I have no time with all the writing assignments I have.

Nice thought though.

6. Over Easter vacation we took in three boarding students from Gabbi's school, girls who were not going home for Easter. That gave us an excuse to go exploring our local environs. We took them to the mall in Providence and came upon this tea party at the Capitol Building.
7. I almost have my manuscript ready for the publisher. Should be working on it right now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Asking for research funds from the Stimulus package

Dr. Raynard Kington
Acting Director
National Institutes of Health
9000 Rockville Pike

Bethesda , Maryland 20892

Dear Dr. Kington:

As members of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and on behalf of the 400,000 individuals with Down syndrome and their families, we are writing to request that you allocate additional fiscal year 2009 funds, as well as a portion of the funding provided to NIH as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Public Law 111-5) to meet the short- and long-term objectives of the agency’s strategic plan for Down syndrome.

We support the recommendations of the January 2008 NIH Research Plan for Down Syndrome, and appreciate your agency’s commitment to improving the health of people with Down syndrome. However, we are concerned the resources NIH currently dedicates to Down syndrome research are not sufficient to effectively accomplish the goals set in the plan. In addition, we were hopeful that NIH would include Down syndrome in its documents which listed NIH's "Highest Priority Challenge Topics" for potential grant topics for federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, yet it was not.

In fact, NIH funding for research related to Down syndrome has decreased significantly in recent years, from $23 million in 2003 to $17 million in 2008. With nearly 400,000 people with Down syndrome living in the United States today, this means that only $40 is being committed in research dollars for each person with Down syndrome, far less than the amount of research funding allocated to far less common medical conditions. Since Down syndrome occurs in people of all different races and origins, the lack of funding for research on the condition further contributes to significant health care disparities. Therefore, we believe tripling the NIH funds dedicated to Down syndrome research over the next three years is a reasonable goal for achieving the critical objectives outlined in the strategic plan.

With the allocation of additional funding, there is no shortage of promising research projects, including applications currently pending with NIH, which would help meet the near-term goals of the strategic plan. We understand the Trans-NIH Working Group on Down Syndrome received a two-year project list, based on a survey of nearly two dozen researchers, scientists and other medical professionals. Scientists and medical researchers from well recognized institutions Stanford, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Colorado contributed to the list. Areas of research covered by these projects and applications include:

(1) the pathophysiology of Down syndrome and disease progression;
(2) diagnosis, screening and functional measures;
(3) treatment and management;
(4) research infrastructure; and
(5) living with Down syndrome.

Additional NIH funding is also needed to make research mice more affordable and widely available. As you know, a major impediment to the development of new treatments for people with Down syndrome is the high cost of mouse models that exhibit different subsets of Down syndrome phenotypes. At an initial cost of more than $200 per mouse, research expenses can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, thereby discouraging researchers and promising areas of Down syndrome research. We urge NIH to allocate additional funding to offset the cost of such mice.

Increasing funding for Down syndrome research is critically important not only to people with the condition, but to millions of Americans afflicted with many other conditions. Seizure disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, congenital heart disease, leukemia, diabetes, celiac disease and hypothyroidism are just a few of the medical conditions that more commonly occur in people with Down syndrome. By finding research solutions for people with Down syndrome, millions of Americans without Down syndrome will benefit as well. Further, adults with Down syndrome are less likely to develop many types of solid tumor cancers, including breast cancer, lung cancer, and mouth cancers, in comparison to people who do not have Down syndrome. Further research may unlock the mysteries and new therapies for many human cancers.

We recognize the difficulties in the NIH budget, but with the new federal funding, the scientific support, and the NIH Roadmap, we believe now is an ideal time for NIH to act to fully support Down syndrome research. Significant Down syndrome research has been slowed, and, in some cases, halted, because of the recent lack of research funding. This is particularly acute at a time when increased funding by NIH is needed to advance recent important research discoveries through translational research initiatives to develop effective new therapies for children and adults with Down syndrome. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to use fiscal year 2009 funds and resources available in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Public Law 111-5) to put NIH on path toward tripling the amount of funding dedicated to Down syndrome research, necessary to fully implement the short-term goals outlined in the 2008 NIH Research Plan on Down Syndrome.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. We look forward to your prompt response.


Rep Cathy McMorris Rogers (R, WA)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Susan Boyle; overcoming the tyranny of low expectations

As a mentally disabled schoolgirl with frizzy hair, Susan was mocked. She was one of 9 children, and lived with her parents caring for them till their deaths, she attended Sunday Mass and sang in the choir.Her life was one of quiet service.
I'd call her a success, just based on that. However, thanks to her triumph at "Britain's Got Talent" the world is calling her a success as well.
Why did they assume that she was a loser just because she doesn't fit the stereotype of a beautiful slim young vocalist?
If you are too loving to have been one of the crowd who laughed at Susan's dream, then this story will make your day, over at Aliens in this World blog.
UPDATE: I have the embedded video!!

The Philippines pray the Divine Mercy Prayer as a nation

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Catholic writers meet for lunch in Massachusetts

Two Saturdays ago, at the suggestion of Heidi Hess Saxton, my former editor of Canticle Magazine, a xolumnist at Catholic Mom, and founder of the Extraordinary Moms Network, I had a Catholic writer's luncheon. It was a blast!

I had the pleasure of meet in two Catholic authors whose columns I admire on Catholic Mom: Patrice Fragnant-McArthur who blogs at Spiritual Woman(next to me) and Pat Gohn, who blogs at Write In Between and has started up a podcast called Among Women. Pat Gohn has a background in radio, and worked on Long Island, in two stations close to where I grew up, but transferred to Boston in the 1990's.

We discussed their Master's degrees in Theology (I am considering this but time and finances are limited) being a Catholic writer, and how we hope that our writing help to evangelize the culture. We spent two hours together, and the time flew by. I hope we can get together again sometime soon.

We recorded a podcast right there in 99 Restaurant near Worcester, MA. When it airs, I'll be linking to it here.

One Year Ago Today I met Pope Benedict

I was at the Papal Youth Rally at St Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, enjoying time with my daughter Gabbi and the youth. I wrote this article about my experience for the National Catholic Register. I also made this montage (below)with some of the photos I took.
What a wonderful time that was, the Pope, the President and the people united in joy.
How I miss that sense of unity now.
Pray for the Divine Mercy of God to heal our nation

Here is what happened one year ago yesterday. Pope Benedict had a special encounter with a young man with T21.

Divine Mercy Sunday

Jesus I trust in You.
Today we complete our Divine Mercy Novena for our family members, for employment, and for our nation.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Susan Boyle's pastor speaks

She makes me proud on many levels.

She's a holy woman living her faith in a quiet way, giving her vocal talents to God in her home parish of Our Lady of Lourdes. She is learning disabled, having been deprived of oxygen at birth; I can relate to the pain of mockery(actually on behalf of my daughter who has Down syndrome). I can relate to having people expect little of a housewife with a keyboard, when you are dismissed because of your poor hairstyle, frumpy outfit and less than svelte figure.

AND yet, Susan triumphed, despite the mockery.

Enjoy it my dear, and keep close to your pastor, he'll protect you from the damage fame can inflict upon your soul. Thanks for inspiring me.
Her pastor, Fr Clark says, "It is a great opportunity for her and as far as I am concerned she should make the best of it, and if it lasts, it lasts, and if it doesn't, then it's still more than almost any one of us will ever achieve," he added. "It is important in sustaining her and making sure this is all a very, very beneficial experience."He described Boyle as "a woman of great faith" who was often "very gentle and very caring" though she could also be "needy and demanding."
Here's her fan site.
Read the entire story on CNS.
Update: Collette Home at the UK Herald gets it: "She is a gift to Simon Cowell and reality television. Her story is the stuff of Hans Christian Andersen: the woman plucked from obscurity, the buried talent uncovered, the transformation waiting to be wrought.
It is wonderful for her, too, that her stunning voice is now recognised. A bright future beckons. Her dream is becoming reality.
Susan is a reminder that it's time we all looked a little deeper. She has lived an obscure but important life. She has been a companionable and caring daughter. It's people like her who are the unseen glue in society; the ones who day in and day out put themselves last. They make this country civilised and they deserve acknowledgement and respect.
Susan has been forgiven her looks and been given respect because of her talent. She should always have received it because of the calibre of her character."
Well said, Collette.

Read the entire story here.

Our new kitten

Cosmo, as the girls named him, is an overdue Christmas gift. He is packed with energy, especially at night when you want to sleep, but he has won our hearts.
Can you blame us?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Thursday

This is my favorite evening of the year. Really, even better than Christmas. It's SO holy and no one has found a way to commercialize Holy Thursday. There are no gifts to buy, or relatives to visit. It's just a beautiful Mass followed by a solemn procession with "Pange Lingua" which stirs me to my toes, and then I get time alone with Jesus at the Altar of Repose. I love to follow the custom of visiting three different churches to be with Jesus on the commemoration of His night in prison before the Crucifixion, but I couldn't bring myself to leave St Mary's.
Tonight He drew me close. I can only describe it as a burning inside my heart, and a reluctance to leave.
Subjects for prayer kept popping into my head, and I ended up praying for all of my extended family, especially those who are away from the sacraments, for my recently deceased cousin Phil, for my work projects, my money problems, my houseguests, my prayer life, my job as a mother to each one of my children, my job as a wife, my happiness at what Jesus has accomplished in my life since I moved to CT, my plans to do more for Him in the future, my failure to lose weight, my success at making this a holier Lent, my plans to finish moving into my home, my book reviews (I ususally write them in front of Jesus, I just type them later) my gratitude for my parents' health, my hopes for Christina to begin to speak more clearly, my love of my family, my love for Jesus, my desire to let Him take over more and more of me. To give Him all my life, my will, my talents. My atttempts to overcome my pride. His attempts to help me overcome my pride. How I was honored to share in some of His sufferings this Lent. How I am grateful that after only 7 months in CT, I know nearly everyone at Mass. How I'm going to go to adoration on a regular basis, since I'm unemployed again, and I need the prayer time. How I'm applying for a job which I feel Jesus calling me to do. How I am amazed at all He's accomplished in my life.
No wonder I was there nearly 2 hours!
Now I understand why the saints loved adoration, it's like sitting in the sun, you radiate His light when you leave.
Thank you, Jesus for the gift of Your Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist. Thank you Jesus for the gift of the priesthood which brings You to us.
Here is a live image of the Holy Eucharist in the monstrance. Here is a link from Catholic Culture for Holy Thursday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

La Via Crucis

La Via Crucis, the Hispanic Way of the Cross
Many Catholics are familiar with the Stations of the Cross, with 14 sculptures representing events in Christ’s condemnation by Pontius Pilate to his Body being laid in the tomb borrowed from Joseph of Arimethea. You see them on the walls of your parish church, or outdoors at retreat houses or shrine. This is a custom which dates back to the Middle Ages in Europe, when devout Catholics who couldn’t make the pilgrimage to the Holy Land tried to recreate the famous pilgrimage sites from Christ’s Passion, with the faithful walking from one to another, praying and meditating on how painfully our salvation was won. We try to ‘do the stations’ in Lent and Holy Week as a family. We also have been privileged to participate in several Via Crucis with the Hispanic Community, we have never seen the stations the same way again. It’s an unforgettably emotional recreation of Christ’s Passion which will serve as a lesson to your family, deepening your joy at the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
In Central America and Mexico, the entire community prepares for the Via Crucis for weeks, roles are handed out, parts are learned, props are made and costumes are sewn. Then, fourteen family’s homes are selected in the community and given plaques representing one of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. On Good Friday they will proudly display their plaque, decorated with flowers in front of their home, which tells the community that the Via Crucis will stop at their home. At noon, the entire tableau of the Passion of the Christ will be reenacted in living color, with a narrator telling the story, and the priest reading the parts of Jesus while a young man acts out Christ’s Passion. The faithful follow this solemn procession through the streets, as Jesus is carrying the cross, meeting with His mother, consoling the weeping women of Jerusalem, Veronica wiping His face with her veil, His three falls, and finally His crucifixion, death, and burial. They pray the prayers with the priest, and between each Station, they will sing a hymn, like “Perdona Su Pueblo Senor” or “Pardon Your People”. Each participant looks inward at his own soul, begging Jesus pardon for his sins as he participates in the re-enactment of the events of Good Friday.
At the climax of the Via Crucis, the man who plays Christ will be ‘nailed’ to the Cross very dramatically, and spend a long time there while the priest reads “Las Siete Palabras” or the Seven Last Words Christ spoke on the Cross from “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” to “It is finished, into Thy hands I commend my spirit”.
I attended a very moving Via Crucis in Marietta, Georgia, where the ‘dead’ body of Christ, was carried into the Church, and laid in the sanctuary in front of the altar, while the priest gave a homily, and the faithful came forward to kiss the cross. (See the montage below)
There is an air of solemnity around these events which transfer down to the youngest children; they watch at the passion play from their father’s shoulders. This way, the faith is brought down to the next generation in an unforgettable experience. I have long held the theory that the reason Hispanics have such wonderful customs for Good Friday, and fewer customs for Easter Sunday, is because, at this time in history, their lives more closely reflect the crucifixion, and they easily relate to the Lord’s cross. One of the Spanish hymns sung in the Via Crucis ends,”Mas grande son mis culpas, mas grande tu bondad” or “the greater my sins, Lord, the greater your goodness”. Thanks to the Via Crucis, the Hispanic community is able to contemplate the sacrifice the Lord made for us on Good Friday, seeing in His blood and pain to the immeasurable love He has for each one of His children.

Polish Easter Customs

The blessing of the Easter food or the ‘Swieconka’ is a tradition that is very dear to the heart of every Pole. Grateful to God for all his gifts of nature and grace, and as a token of this gratitude, we have the food sanctified with the hope that when spring comes, the season of the Resurrection, we will also be blessed by God’s goodness and mercy.
Traditions vary from region to region and from family to family. They have changed and evolved with each passing generation. Traditionally, the food is brought to the church in a basket decorated with a colorful ribbon, sprigs of greenery are added, and a linen cover placed over the top. The food is blessed by the parish priest on Holy Saturday morning. If it is absolutely necessary, the food can also be blessed at home. After the blessing, the food is usually set aside until Easter morning when the head of the house shares the blessed egg, symbol of life, with his family and friends. Having exchanged wishes, they all continue to enjoy the rest of the meal.
The foods traditionally blessed by a priest for Easter can be placed in three categories:
• Easter bread and cakes of all kinds, particularly a yeasty cake called babka
• Meat products, ham, veal, suckling pig, sausage, bacon and so on.
• Dairy products, butter, cheese, eggs - some without their shells, others, decorated, called
Each of the foods has a deep and symbolic meaning
• Butter - often shaped into a lamb (Baranek Wielkanocny} or into a cross. This reminds us of the good will of Christ that we should have toward all things
• Babka (Easter bread) - a round or long loaf topped with a cross or a fish, symbolic of Jesus, who is the true Bread of Life
• Horseradish with grated red beets ('Chrzan') - symbolizes the Passion of Christ still in our minds but sweetened with some sugar because of the Resurrection
• Eggs (Jajka) and (Pisanki - decorated with symbols of Easter, of life and prosperity.) Eggs are considered a symbol of the resurrection, the emergence of a new life
• Sausage (Kielbasa) - spicy sausage made of pork products, indicative of God's favor and generosity
• Ham (Szynka) - symbolic of great joy and abundance. Some prefer lamb or veal. The lamb also reminds Catholics that the Risen Christ is the 'Lamb of God'.
•Smoked Bacon (Slonina) - a symbol of the abundance of God's mercy and generosity
• Salt (Sol) – a necessary element in our physical life, symbolic of prosperity and justice, to
remind us the people are the flavor, the salt of the earth
• Cheese (Ser) – ball shaped, as the symbol of the moderation Christians should have at all times
• In some regions a candle is also inserted into the basket to represent Christ, the Light of the world.

Triduum at the Friary in Griswold

APR 05TH - APR 11TH:

Holy Mass (5.30pm)

Passion of the Christ Movie (12.00pm)
Passion and Communion Service (3.00pm)
Stations of the Cross (5.00pm)

Hour of the Mother (12.00pm)
Holy Mass (9.30pm)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lumina Retreat

I always try and provide support for those facing a poor prenatal diagnosis, by encouraging them to continue their pregnancy and give life to their special needs baby. But if you aborted your baby, do NOT despair! There is forgiveness for you!
The Catholic church provides help and healing through a ministry called Lumina. Here is an upcoming retreat in the New York City area on April 25, with a compassionate priest from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Fr Mariusz Koch.
Click here for more information.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday Procession at the Friary

The solemn procession began witht the blessing of palms in St Joseph's chapel, wound round the grounds and into the main church where a beautiful Missa Cantata followed.

An auspicious beginning to a blessed week.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Choose life Hillary!

Over at Cottage Blessings, Alice has commented an article by my pro-life hero, Rep Christopher Smith. He has commented on two of Madame Secretary of State's trips: to the Planned Parenthood to receive the Margaret Sanger award and to see the miraculous tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe( only to embarass herself by asking, "who painted it?")
Only a devout Catholic like Chris Smith would notice the irony in the juxtapostion of those events:

"On the one hand, the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe has for five centuries brought a message of hope, faith, peace, reconciliation and protection for the weakest, most vulnerable among us. On the other hand, each year, Margaret Sanger's Planned Parenthood kills approximately 300,000 unborn baby girls and boys in their abortion clinics scattered throughout the United States."
Thank you Chris Smith for showing great moral leadership in a time when it is sorely needed, and for reminding the world what a racist eugenist Margaret Sanger was.
I included Rep Smith in my article for Canticle Magazine on outstanding Catholic politicians. His wife Marie told me that he was elected in a mostly pro-abortion district in southern New Jersey but has kept his seat because of his integrity. This photo was taken at the Family Research Council Blogs for Life January 22, 2008
In honor of Rep Smith's important speech, I'm giving away an autographed Congressional Calendar from his office which I received when I gave him a pro-life award this year at the March for Life, leave a comment below, saying you want it, and I will mail it to you.
Read the entire story at CNS.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Kurt Kondrich: Chloe's Dad

Tonight, in an attempt to get in touch with my natural habitat, I attended a nature workshop at my local library on vernal pools. Those are temporary bodies of water which appear in spring giving frogs and salamanders a place to lay eggs and the tadpoles a place to grow legs before they take up lives as forest creatures. I think that God's wonderful plan for nature is awesome, however the evening soured for me as the presenters described new federal grant monies to study rare salamanders and toads.
In this time of recession, we have millions to study humble amphibians, yet when Dr Mobley discussed his promising research to provide a medication to normalize the cognition of people with Down syndrome, he couldn't raise the $5 million dollars to develop the drugs from the government. Nearly half a million people with Down syndrome are in the USA (should be 5 million if they weren't aborted at a rate of 90%). These people can't get funding for drugs which would make them able to live independent lives, go to college, have fulfilling jobs, marry and live just like we do.
Salamanders. Phooey!
Kurt Kondrich(creator of the lovely video posted below) had the same reaction I did when he learned about the millions used to study the Kangaroo Rat from satellites. This shows a sad sense of priorities in this nation. Why don't people come before toads and rats?!

Read the entire story in the National Right to Life News and Views.

Lifted up by Down syndrome

Good Counsel Homes to open affiliate in Norwich CT

I have had the pleasure of meeting Joan and Chris Bell and their beautiful children twice. The latest was walking downtown Yonkers, NY from the Papal Youth Rally where I first recognized his son Emilio. Chris and Joan have lived exemplary Catholic lives fully devoted to the prolife cause in precisely the ways the Vortex video below challenges us. Please help him with his work at Good Counsel Homes. The Right to Life group I belong to here in Norwich voted to join his network, trusting that his experience and reputation will guide our work.
Read the article in Catholic New York which describes his work.
Here's a personal note from Chris Bell,

Would you kindly consider passing this article around to all your friends, family, anyone and ask if any can send any support our way now -- no gift is too large or too small -- it will help the dozens of moms and babies with us today, and those calling tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. We really need help now.

Thanks. God bless you greatly. Hope to see you soon.

Christopher Bell +

Good Counsel homes
24/7 Helpline:


P. 201-795-0637

Good Counsel
P.O. Box 6068
Hoboken, NJ
Good Counsel's Lumina program
Lumina - Hope and Healing After Abortion
offers hope and healing after an abortion
1.877.LUMINA1 (1.877.586.4621)

Every mother and child deserves love and support
from the moment of conception.