Monday, June 29, 2009

Ugly Flu...

Wow, this is turning into an icky week!
Laura went home with the Flu, courtesy of Lilly, I think.
Brendan and Tim both have it now...
Brendan got nailed before Mass yesterday and his fever went up to around 103, then Tim came down with it in the afternoon. We were going to go out for our anniversary, but we had to change plans. Tim has been down since yesterday. His fever keeps coming and going. Brendan's spiked again at around 10:00 this evening, so who knows what tomorrow will bring? If I remember right, Lilly had it for a whole week.
Well, I am glad I went to the library tonight and checked out some books.
I have Les Mis that I am trying to work through as well. I think I am going to abandon the study, because I can't keep up and trying to examine it, with all that is going on, is just too much.
If I get sick, I guess I will just hole up at home for the rest of the week.

Sure glad school is finished....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Little Oliver... Finally

I am hoping to load a clip from one of the Oliver! rehearsals. It's a long time coming, I know. He had so much fun and we all enjoyed it so much. I don't know if it is going to go. Here are a few pictures...

Food Glorious Food!

"That's your Funeral". The most macabre and hilarious Mr. Sowerberry I have ever seen.

Paul sitting on the bench while Fagin has a chat with Oliver...

Here is a scene in the middle of the show. Paul and Maria Hoppel are sitting in the middle.

Looks like Paul has another theatrical endeavor coming up. He was chosen to play one of the children in "The King and I". He is going to have more fun rehearsing and performing!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Blessing from Bremerton!

What a wonderful expression of love for the Eucharist!
Our Lady, Star of the Sea, is a beautiful parish. I loved going to Mass there when we lived in Washington.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yes...There are Turkeys in Every Office...

Battelle Staff

Just a reminder to remain vigilant regarding security at the BEST Center. All visitors must enter the building through the main lobby.

We currently have an individual who has made numerous attempts at entering the building without registering as a visitor at the front desk.

Please contact Security if you see this individual in the building without a badge.

Posted this morning at Tim's office Building...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

And They Get to Go Home!

Just heard that Mom and Dad get to go home tomorrow.
Praise God!!

Thanks so much for so many prayers!

Caring Bridge Site

Here is a link to mom's Caring Bridge Site. It will have updates as often as we get them.
Please keep praying whenever you think of it!
Mom is still in the hospital waiting for information.
The waiting is the hardest part. Not knowing what is going to have to be done and when.
I know mom had lost weight and that is not good. She has had a hard time staying at a good weight for a long time, because of the Schleroderma. It has affected her esophagus. Now, she has lost more weight because of all the tests and just the condition of her bowel.
If she has a Chemo battle ahead of her, she can't afford to lose any more.

Thanks so much to all who are praying. Whether we have ever met, or not, know that your prayers and thoughts mean the world to us.

Prayer, for peace.
Prayer, for wisdom.
Prayer, for healing.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Storm...the Grace

I have so much to post and so much to think about.

It's just not easy to write it all down and get the words together in one place.

Saturday morning, as I was setting up for the Strawberry Festival at our church, I got a call from my mom and dad and heard words that changed the whole world.
The colonscopy that Mom had last week showed a tumor in her colon and a follow-up CAT scan showed it has spread to her liver, and the biopsy came back as Stage IV. Even as I type this now, it seems unbelievable and I keep thinking that it must be a mistake.

Mom and dad went right over to Seattle and today she had another colonscopy and at the same time had a stint implanted to keep the bowel open. The procedure went well, and that is a Blessing. Tomorrow they will meet with an Oncologist to discuss a treatment plan.

Last week, everything was crazy, busy and normal. Last week I read the news, blogs and listened to talk radio.
This week, none of that seems to matter or really even exist. This week I am talking on the phone and emailing my family and friends and trying to relay information that just can't be real. But it is.

Still, I feel carried. There are so many prayers and so much Grace. Mom and Dad seem to be doing so well and their Faith just gives and gives.
God is so faithful. He always gives us the Grace we need in any situation. I know He is with us all.

I will post as we learn the path that is laid out before Mom and Dad. Pray for them please.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Even in The Storm....

There is never a time in our lives when Our Lord leaves us alone in the boat.

He is there in all the storms and there is nothing to fear.

Yes, I feel the storm rising, but all I have to do is go to Jesus and let him know that I am afraid and He will calm the tumult.

I will Praise you in THIS Storm.

Reading 1
Jb 38:1, 8-11

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:
Who shut within doors the sea,
when it burst forth from the womb;
when I made the clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
When I set limits for it
and fastened the bar of its door,
and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stilled!

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31

R. (1b) Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
R. Alleluia.
They who sailed the sea in ships,
trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the LORD
and his wonders in the abyss.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
R. Alleluia.
His command raised up a storm wind
which tossed its waves on high.
They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths;
their hearts melted away in their plight.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
R. Alleluia.
They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them,
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
R. Alleluia.
They rejoiced that they were calmed,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his kindness
and his wondrous deeds to the children of men.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
R. Alleluia.

Reading II
2 Cor 5:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.

Mk 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
"Let us cross to the other side."
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
"Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?"
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!"
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?"
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
"Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is a very special day.
It the feast of the Sacred Heart and it is a day to celebrate the love of Christ for the world.

From the thirteenth to the sixteeenth century, the devotion was practiced as a private, individual devotion of the mystical order. In the sixteenth century, the devotion took an onward step and passed from the domain of mysticism into that of Christian asceticism. It was constituted an objective devotion with prayers already formulated and special exercises of which the value was extolled and practice commended.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart developed further during the seventeenth century. Ascetic writers spoke of it, especially those of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), Alvarez de Paz, Luis de la Puente, Saint-Jure and Nouet and Father Druzbicki, small work "Meta Cordium, Cor Jesu".

The devotion was greatly increased by the visions Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690), a French Visitandine nun at the convent of Paray-le-Monial. She had a vision of Christ's Heart on the feast of Saint John that was similiar to that of Saint Gertrude. Jesus permitted her to rest her head upon His Heart, and then disclosed to her the wonders of His love, telling her that He desired to make this known to mankind and to diffuse the treasures of His goodness, and that He had chosen her for this work, (probably 1673, Dec. 27). In June or July o f 1674, Sister Margaret Mary said, Jesus asked to be honored under the figure of His Heart of Flesh and asked for a devotion of expiatory love -- frequent Communion, Communion on the first Friday of each month and the observance of Holy Hours.

In another vision, on the feast of Corpus Christi 1675, Sister Margaret Mary reported that Jesus told her, "Behold the Heart that has so loved men...instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part (of mankind) only ingratitude..." Jesus then asked for a feast of reparation on the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi. bidding her to consult Father de la Colombiére, then superior of the small Jesuit house at Paray. He recognized the action of the Spirit of God and consecrated himself to the Sacred Heart and directed Sister Margaret Mary to write down her account and to circulate it throughout France and England. Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque was canonized in the 20th century.

Litany to the Sacred Heart

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven, Response: have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, ..
God the Holy Spirit,...
Holy Trinity, one God, ...
Heart of Jesus, Son of the eternal Father, ...
Heart of Jesus, formed by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mother's womb, ...
Heart of Jesus, substantially united to the Word of God, ...
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, ...
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, ...
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, ...
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, ...
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, ...
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, ...
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, ...
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, ...
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, ...
Heart of Jesus, King and center of all hearts, ...
Heart of Jesus, wherein are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, ...
Heart of Jesus, wherein dwells all the fullness of the Godhead, ...
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, ...
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, ...
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, ...
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, ...
Heart of Jesus, rich unto all who call upon You, ...
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, ...
Heart of Jesus, propitiation for our offenses, ...
Heart of Jesus, overwhelmed with reproaches, ...
Heart of Jesus, bruised for our iniquities, ...
Heart of Jesus, obedient even unto death, ...
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, ...
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, ...
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, ...
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, ...
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, ...
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, ...
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, ...
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, ...

Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of heart,
R. Make our hearts like unto Thy Heart.

Let us pray, Almighty everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Thy dearly beloved Son, and upon the praise and satisfaction He offers Thee in the name of sinners and for those who seek Thy mercy. Be appeased, and grant us pardon in the name of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hike to Kilgore Falls

Yesterday we were invited on a hike with several other families.
We drove about 45 minutes to Rocks State Park, and hiked for about 15 minutes through Honeysuckle and bushes.
to Kilgore Falls.

We have been there before, when the boys were younger.

They had so much fun. They went into the river, under the rocks, over the falls (well, I only let John go up there, it's pretty dangerous for the younger set.), and caught any number of minnows, tadpoles, frogs and other swimming creatures.

It was such an awesome day!

Their Bad. My Blog. Mea Culpa.

USA Today Gets Homeschool Story Wrong

Media Relations Department

June 16, 2009

On May 28, 2009 USA Today published a story based on a report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which is part of the Federal Department of Education, titled “The Condition of Education 2009.” The headline of the USA Today story was “Profound shift in kind of families who are homeschooling their children.” A few days later the title was changed to “More higher-income families are homeschooling their children.”

Regrettably, among other problems with the article, USA Today made one blatant error and one very misleading claim. The blatant error is USA Today’s statement that homeschoolers are increasingly white. We do not understand how USA Today can reach this conclusion. Simply by reading the NCES report you will discover that the estimates for white homeschoolers, as a percentage of the entire homeschool population, were 75.3% in 1999, 77% in 2003 and 76.8% in 2007. The obvious conclusion is that for the years 1999–2007 white homeschoolers consistently represented just over three-quarters of the homeschool population.

HSLDA asked the NCES to comment on the USA Today article. Below is a statement from JoAnn Webb, a spokesman for the NCES, “The percentage of all homeschoolers who are White, non-Hispanic has not changed over this period (in the mid-70 percent range).”

Another misleading claim, as the revised title for the story states, is that more higher-income families are homeschooling their children. Again, USA Today failed to correctly read the report. In order to make their point, USA Today defines “higher-income” as families whose household income is over $50,000. How many people really consider $50,000 in household income “higher-income?” For comparison, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2006 married-couple families with one or more related children under age 18, the median nationwide income was $74,049. It is very misleading for USA Today to boldly assert that more “higher-income” families are homeschooling when out of the 60% of families they cite as being “higher-income” — (26.8% in the $50,001–$75,000 bracket and 33.2% in the $75,001 or more bracket) the 26.8% that USA Today believes to be “higher-income” actually have below average incomes.

Also, as has been confirmed by the NCES, the income figures between 1999 and 2007 were not adjusted for inflation. This means that the same type of person answering the NCES survey in 1999 that fell in the $25,001–$50,000 income bracket could easily find themselves in the $50,001–$75,000 bracket in 2007 since an income of $45,000 in 1999 becomes $55,518.63 in 2007 after adjusting for inflation.

It’s a shame that in an era when hundreds of diverse media outlets are able to accurately report on the homeschool movement a major newspaper has made such simple errors.

Perhaps the writer was just in a rush to be first, since his story was published on the day the NCES report was released online, or perhaps he has an agenda to falsely paint homeschoolers as rich and white, thereby dismissing the full range of people who are making tremendous sacrifices on limited budgets to ensure that the next generation receives the best education and upbringing available. Either way USA Today should make additional corrections to their factually inaccurate story.

Other Resources

USA Today article: “More higher-income families are home schooling their children”

NCES “Condition of Education 2009”

To report corrections and clarifications concerning USA Today articles please contact Reader Editor Brent Jones at

Monday, June 15, 2009

Review of Oliver!

Consider youself at home with Covered Bridge Theatre Company's Oliver! at Cecil College

June 15, 3:53 PM

Oliver!, the musical by Lionel Bart, opened Friday at Milburn Stone Theatre of Cecil College.

Oliver! is the Charles Dickens story of an orphan who wants more. Imprisoned in an 1850 English workhouse, Oliver Twist has the gall to ask his master for a second helping of porridge one night. As a result of this "greed", he is sold to an undertaker as a stand-in for corpses. Escaping his ill-treatment, he falls in with a gang of pickpockets shepherded by the slippery Fagin and terrorized by the sinister Bill Sykes. Arrested on his first outing, Oliver becomes a potential liability to the whole gang. He is both pursued by Sykes and pitied by Sikes' woman, Nancy. For some characters this story has a happy ending.

For others, not so much.

This is an impressive production. Oliver is played with sincerity and vocal finesse by Zachary Pennington. Somewhere, 22 young people in period costume were found who could take direction and to a person remain in character.

Perhaps the mean streets of Elkton?

The set is fabulous. A functional old stone bridge traverses the whole stage, and there are also platforms and crannies - all of which are well-utilized throughout the proceedings. Fagin (Chris Cahill) seems to be either on the verge of some sort of breakdown, or failing at the recovery from one. The undertaker (Tim McAlee) and his wife (Heidi Kramer) make a hilarious, enjoyable couple. My understanding of marriage is that sometimes hilarity is the best you can do. The live band, directed by J. Andrew Dickenson, is competent and appreciated. Great musical theatre is made even better by live music.

The quibbles are minor. The prominent spotlight trees in the wings are distracting. A couple of scenes are too quiet, or excited dialog is too-rapidly spoken and missed. The first meeting of Fagin with Bill Sykes (Ryan Millliner) is too dimly lit to see what transpires. Street vendors look out of place trying to sell on the elevated platforms.

Nobody is going to buy strawberries up there.

There are also several wonderful moments in the production. Perhaps my favorite is the performance of "As Long As He Needs Me" by Nancy (Gail Bareham). A large crowd scene immediately precedes, and the crowd disperses leaving Nancy and a solitary piano player (David Strauss) upstage and facing away from the audience. Vocally, Bareham impresses with her mastery. She brings the goods. Strauss's piano playing is velvety and exquisite. Those elements alone are enough for greatness, but director S. Lee Lewis finds even more. He has Nancy at one point walking back and making eye contact with Strauss while performing. It is an acknowledgement that the piano player is part of the scene, too. Not to make more of this than it is, but this is a nod to stage musicians and a toast to friendship and solidarity among performers in this show and everywhere.

It is a good moment.

The Opening Night audience was large and appreciative. This production deserves more large audiences, and you deserve an excellent evening of theatre.

For more info: Oliver! continues its run June 19 and 20 at 8pm, and June 21 at 3pm. Adults $15, Students/Seniors/Children 12 and under $12. Box office 410.287.1037 or
Author: Chris Barsam
Chris Barsam is an Examiner from Baltimore. You can see Chris's articles on Chris's Home Page.

Family Stuff

Well, last weekend was just a wild ride and the one coming up is even going to be more exciting!

Friday was John's birthday and he and Tim had a great time at the Uvdar Hazy Museum near Dulles. They were there for five hours!
Brendan, and I went to the opening night of Oliver! and watched Paul having a blast singing and dancing and just cutting up. He is going to be really sad when it's all over.
The show is excellent! I can't wait to post pictures!
The whole cast is so talented. The woman who plays Nancy has an awesome voice. The kids are really good as well.
I will be ushering this weekend and so I get to see part of the show.

The show ran all three days of the weekend. I ushered Saturday night and that was really fun! I enjoyed meeting people and it seemed like everyone was just having a great time.

John will go on Sunday with Laura, and hopefully Nina.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

St. John Vianney
Feastday: August 4

St. John Vianney
St. John Vianney

St. John Vianney, Priest (Patron of priests) Feast day - August 4 Universally known as the "Cure of Ars)," St. John Mary Vianney was ordained a priest in 1815. Three years later he was made parish priest of Ars, a remote French hamlet, where his reputation as a confessor and director of souls made him known throughout the Christian world. His life was one of extreme mortification.

Accustomed to the most severe austerities, beleaguered by swarms of penitents, and besieged by the devil, this great mystic manifested a imperturbable patience. He was a wonderworker loved by the crowds, but he retained a childlike simplicity, and he remains to this day the living image of the priest after the heart of Christ.

He heard confessions of people from all over the world for the sixteen hours each day. His life was filled with works of charity and love. It is recorded that even the staunchest of sinners were converted at his mere word. He died August 4, 1859, and was canonized May 31, 1925.

Thank You to Catholic

Some Inspiration from St John Vianney:

The Year of the Priest


Pope Benedict XVI has declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on June 19, 2009. The year will conclude in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father on June 19, 2010.

With the announcement of this Year for Priests, the Pope has declared St. John Vianney the Universal Patron of Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Curé d’Ars.

On this website you will find a number of resources to aid your parish’s celebration of the year for priests. There is also information regarding events for priests that will occur throughout the Year for Priests.

Please pray for our priests that they might always be faithful to their sacred calling.

Visit the US Conference of Catholic Bishops website for more about this special year!

About the Icon

Explanation of the icon of Christ the Great High Priest

Iconographer Marek Czarnecki of Seraphic Restorations in Meriden, Connecticut, has graciously given the USCCB the rights to use the icon of Christ the Great High Priest during the Year for Priests. Any parish or diocese that would like to use the image in conjunction with this special year is also permitted to do so.

This icon (egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panel, 28” x 22”) is “based on a fifteenth century Greek prototype; here Christ is shown in Latin Rite vestments with a gold pelican over His heart, the ancient symbol of self-sacrifice. The borders contain a windig grapevine and altar prepared for the celebration of the liturgy of the Mass; in the borders are smaller icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.” Incidentally, it is St. John Vianney whom Pope Benedict XVI, with the announcement of this special year, has declared the Universal Patron of Priests.

Czarnecki explains: “I wrote the icon about seven years ago [for seminarians and priests] to be able to see Christ in themselves, and themselves in Christ. We often hear that the icon is called a window; in this case, it’s also meant to be a mirror.” The Good Shepherd reminds the priest that he is to “lay down his life for his sheep.” (

Friday, June 12, 2009

Happy Birthday John!!!

My Sweet oldest son is 11 today!
He is turning into a handsome, capable young man and I am so proud of him!
He and Tim took the day to go down to Dulles and check out the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. That was what he wanted to do for his birthday.
They will have a great day.

"One Second After"

Here is a link to the Website of author William Forstchen.
He is a really interesting guy and the information on Electro Magnetic Pulse effects is really worth reading.
I am going to try to find the book at the library. An exciting Summer read, if nothing else.

From Mark Steyn...

So your bank account’s wiped out...

Given our massive debt load, this fictional apocalyptic scenario’s not looking that bad.

“ ‘Hey, Dad, something strange.’

“ ‘Yeah?’

“ ‘Listen.’

“He stood there silent for a moment. It was a quiet spring evening, silent except for a few birds chirping, the distant bark of a dog . . . rather nice, actually.

“ ‘I don’t hear anything.’

“ ‘That’s it, Dad. There’s no traffic noise from the interstate.’

“He turned and faced toward the road. It was concealed by the trees . . . but she was right; there was absolute silence. When he had first purchased the house, that had been one disappointment he had not thought of while inspecting it but was aware of the first night in, the rumble of traffic from the interstate a half mile away. The only time it fell silent was in the winter during a snowstorm or an accident . . .

“ ‘Most likely the accident’s further on and people were told to pull over and wait,’ he said.

“The girls nodded . . . It was almost eerie. You figure you’d hear something, a police siren if there was indeed an accident, cars down on old Highway 70 should still be passing by.

“And then he looked up. He felt a bit of a chill.

“This time of day any high-flying jets would be pulling contrails . . . ”

But there aren’t any contrails, or jets. It’s America “one second after,” to use the title of William R. Forstchen’s novel.

One Second After what? After an EMP attack. What’s EMP? “Electromagnetic pulse.” You’re on a ship hundreds of miles offshore floating around the ocean, and you fire a nuke. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hit Cleveland, or even Winnipeg. Instead, it detonates 300 miles up in the sky at a point roughly over the middle of the continent. No mushroom cloud, no fallout, you don’t even notice it. That’s the “second” in One Second After and what comes after is America (and presumably pretty much all of Canada south of Yellowknife) circa 1875—before Edison. The cars on the interstate stop because they all run on computers, except for Grandma’s 1959 Edsel. And so do the phones and fridges and pretty much everything else. If you were taking a hairpin bend when your Toyota Corolla conked out, don’t bet on the local emergency room: they’re computerized, too. And, if you’ve only got $27.43 in your purse, better make it last. The ATM won’t be working, and anyway whatever you had in your account just vanished with the computer screen.

Mr. Forstchen tells his tale well, putting an up-to-the-minute scientifically sound high-tech gloss on an old-fashioned yarn. One Second After is set in small-town North Carolina, but the stock characters of Anyburg, U.S.A. are all here—the sick kid, slow-on-the-uptake local officials, gangs of neo-barbarians, the usual conflict between self-reliant can-do types and the useless old hippies. I liked this passage:

“ ‘What a world we once had,’ he sighed.

“The parking lot of the bank at the next corner was becoming weed-choked, though that was being held back a bit by children from the refugee center plucking out any dandelions they saw and eating them.”

And at that point I stopped thinking of One Second After as a movie-thriller narrative, and more in geopolitical terms. After all, the banks in America and western Europe are already metaphorically weed-choked, and may yet become literally so. In the Wall Street Journal a couple of months back, Peggy Noonan predicted that by next year the mayor of New York, “in a variation on broken-window theory, will quietly enact a bright-light theory, demanding that developers leave the lights on whether there are tenants in the buildings or not, lest the world stand on a rise in New Jersey and get the impression no one’s here and nobody cares”—or, to put it another way, lest the world stand on a rise in New Jersey and get the impression Manhattan’s already been hit by an EMP attack. A friend of mine saw his broker in February and asked him where he should be moving his money, expecting to be pointed in the direction of various under-publicized stocks or perhaps some artfully leveraged instrument novel enough to fly below the Obama radar. His broker, wearing a somewhat haunted look, advised him to look for a remote location and a property he could pay cash for and with enough cleared land and a long growing season. My friend’s idea of rural wilderness is Martha’s Vineyard, so this wasn’t exactly what he wanted to hear.

And this is before EMP hits.

So it wipes out your bank accounts. What’s in there? I mean, really. The average American household is carrying $121,953 in personal debt. What would be so bad if something goofy happened and all the meters got reset to zero? And Joe Schmoe’s credit card debt is as nothing compared to what the government’s signed him up for: USA Today recently calculated that the average American household is on the hook for $546,668 in federal debt—i.e., not including state and municipal. The Atlantic crunched the numbers further and reckoned that, to pay off the federal/personal debt over half a century at three per cent, the average household would have to write an annual cheque for $25,971. U.S. median household income is 50 grand, before taxes—and that $26,000 cheque assumes no further increase in federal or personal liabilities.

Critics of USA Today...

Read the rest HERE

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

High Art and Mom's Review Night

Here are a few pictures from the last few days.

On Monday night Tim and I went out to dinner for his birthday. We went to one of our favorite restaurants, and since Paul was at rehearsal, we didn't need a babysitter!
It's a new experience for us to be able to leave the two older boys at home and go out together.
It's nice, but a bit strange.
Anyway, we really don't worry about them getting in trouble while we are out. They are just very reliable.
So, John called my cell and wanted to know if he could find any modeling clay around. I think he was inspired when he watched "Close Encounters" the other night. He said he wanted to make "Devil's Tower". I must trust them a LOT, because later on the thought occurred to me that the permission to build something like what the guy in the movie had made could really be a disaster in my basement!
Well, I told him where to find it, and we went back to our evening alone.
Later he called and said that he had given up on "Devil's Tower".
He had made a brain instead and stuck it on a plate with a fork in it and called it "Thought for Food". Pretty catchy title. I really wish he had saved it...

He ended up using the clay over and made this.

It's called "Self Indulgence". Food eating itself.

Brendan made a muscle man.
So this was art at our house on Monday...

Last night a bunch of the moms from our TORCH group got together and had our end-of-year reviews here at our house.
We had a rip-roaring storm just before everyone was supposed to show up, and so it was a little dicey, what with several families losing power.

Everyone did make it though and we had such a great night!

We ordered Chinese food, and while we were waiting for it to be delivered, we sat down and set out all the boxes and bins that everyone had brought.
There were some really beautiful projects. Some of the kids have really done some beautiful work this year.
We all got to see what the kids have been up to and get ideas for next year. It's so nice to have these wonderful women to share with. Our reviews are so encouraging and uplifting. It's challenging to get through the year and sometimes we are really up against some tough circumstances. Some of the kids have learning issues, and there are some families that have faced other things that I can't begin to imagine schooling through, and yet they were here, they had persevered and they had these wonderful projects to show for it. . This is an inspiring group of women and I am so honored to be a part of it.

We shared what our kids had done and then each of us was signed off by one of the other moms.
My forms are all signed and ready to go.
Time to start gearing up for next year!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Moving Right Along...

Les Miserables - Book Two - Valjean

In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo assigned himself a formidable task - presenting a human drama against a political background - certainly not unique, but I believe, the most remarkable job in literature. Other novelists have done this and done it well - Charles Dickens comes to mind (A Tale of Two Cities) - but as a French writer, Hugo knows the historical and political landscape of France and assumes his readers will as well. As 21st century Americans, some of us may be a little fuzzy in this area - but if you're like me, you may prefer your history lessons this way :)

So just a few remarks to place this in context:

An Excellent Commentary...

Barbara, over at Mommy Life is guiding us through one of the greatest works of Literature that I have had the pleasure of reading.
If you don't have time to read the book, as huge a project as that is, just stop over there and check out what Barbara has to say about it. It is very enlightening.
I'll post whenever she does.

Les Miserables - Book One commentary

les miz.jpg

Victor Hugo begins Les Miserables with a lovingly detailed portrait of Monseigneur Bienvenu, a French bishop whose every action exemplifies the Christian life.

His character is revealed through anecdotes:

• His exchange of his bishop's palace for the humble hospital next door: "Obviously this is wrong, there are twenty-six of you in five or six small rooms; there are three of us in space enough for sixty."

• His intercession - so like Mother Teresa - for alms from the rich to aid the poor.

• His understanding that For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48: : "The faults of women, children and servants and of the weak, the indigent, and the ignorant, are the faults of the husbands, fathers and masters, of the strong, the rich, and the wise.

• His belief in education and spiritual awakening: "If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but the one who causes the darkness."

Can you hear the irony in Hugo's voice when he - as author - says, "Clearly he had his own strange way of judging things. I suspect he acquired it from the Gospels."

As though polishing a gem, Hugo displays the facets of M. Bienvenu's character: his disposition of material assets, his domicile, his transportation (a donkey), his interaction with the poor and the rich, his relationship with his sister.

M. Bienvenu does not boast of his humble piety, which some of the upper classes regard as an affectation. Hugo assures us it is not, that the bishop's life is like a seamless garment: "The private life of M. Myriel was filled with the same thoughts as his public life."

He is a practical man, and how he spends his time is decided according to the needs of each day: "When he had money, his visits were to the poor; when he had none, he visited the rich."

He wears his violet cloak not out of pride or authority, but to hide the worn-out condition of his cassock, because he would rather give money to the poor than to buy a new one. Hugo does not note, but I could not help but think how prone to misjudgment this made him - and how dead wrong those who judged him would be.

This is the third time I've read Les Miserables, but my first time as a Catholic. I felt so much more love for M. Bienvenu because now that I see and understand the sacrifice priests make - vowing poverty, chastity and obedience so that they might put themselves wholly in God's hands to minister to the people He has placed in their care. Certainly there have been wicked and sinful priests - just as the Bible is full of God's anointed leaders who often fell drastically short - but for every one the world uses to destroy the reputation of the church, how many more like M. Bienvenu are there? I know I've met a few in the past year and a half.....

There's lots more at Mommy Life, this is just a taste!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Guess I'll hold off on buying the Burqua...

The Fantasy...

JERUSALEM – The number of Muslims in the U.S. would make America "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," claimed President Obama in an interview released last night.

By Aaron Klein

The Fact...

H/T to "Change Barak"

Where Would We Be if He Hadn't Come?

Posted by Patrick Archbold of Creative Minority Report

Gratitude...Or Lack Of It

"If they hadn't come, where would we be today?" -- Louis Delevin, resident of Normandy, France.

I am an ingrate. Life has a way of obscuring, for me, the things for which I should be most grateful.

Sixty five years have past since the Normandy invasion. In that fateful morning those many years ago, freedom for Europe was a question very much in doubt. At the cost of much British and American blood, Nazi tyranny began to be pushed back.

Many years have passed since those fateful days and such things are rarely in the thoughts of the people of Europe and America. Once a year, people gather on the shores of nothern France to commerorate those days, but the truth is most people have forgotten what was given them, at the cost of much blood.

Not so Louis Delevin. He was twelve years old living on his family farm at the time of the great invasion. He vividly remembers giving out apple cider to soldiers who passed his farm. He knows what was gained for him and it still grateful.
[Boston] "If they hadn't come, where would we be today?' said Delevin, 77, who as a farm boy of 12 provided the pilots with apple cider between raids on the retreating German troops. "You don't have to be a great scholar to understand that the freedom we enjoy today was decided in those days in 1944."
I am impressed by gratitude I think because I realize how often I am not. It is true, I rarely think of how the freedom I enjoy was secured for me. Boys half my age gave their lives in places they likely never heard of before they died there. They gave me this gift and I so rarely remember, never mind show the proper gratitude.

As great was their sacrifice, as wonderful the freedoms I enjoy, so much more has been given to me. Two thousand years ago my God humbled Himself to be born in poverty and to suffer, die, and be buried, and to rise again so that I may live, forever. This amazing gift of God is completely undeserved. And yet, so many times I reject this freely given gift only to once again beg for and be granted a forgiveness I don't deserve.

John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."

Why am I such an ingrate? Why am I so incapable of love? Why can't I remember what has been given me and how? Where would I be if He had not come?

When looking at the crosses in the ground on the cliffs of Normandy I should be truly grateful for what has been given me at so great a cost. Ever so much grateful should I be when I look at the cross above my bed.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hearts and Homeschools

Tonight our TORCH Homeschool group had the annual Promotion Celebration for all the kids and families that could be there.
It was such a special time with friends and fellow homeschoolers.
We gathered at St. Joan's in Aberdeen and started out with Pizza. Everyone had plenty to eat! There were also some amazing desserts, and munchies.

There was a special cake to honor the Eighth Grade Graduates,

After everyone had eaten we went over to the stage area and the kids started their recital.
Every year the kids do something to show how hard they have worked.
Both John and Brendan played pieces on the piano, and Paul, who arrived late with Danielle and Maria Hoppel, sang a song from Oliver.

There were poems and musical performances.

A father and son horn duo.
The Klopcic family sang three songs and they did a beautiful job! Well, part of the family...

The poems that were recited were not simple little nursery Rhymes.
One young lady did "The Spider and the Fly". A long poem, and she recited with so much expression!
One of the little boys recited "Casey at the Bat". It took him awhile to get up his nerve, but it was worth the wait!Lizzie did a poem by A.A. Milne.

There was a Karate demonstration,

A couple of the kids did a scene from "Hamlet".

After all the kids were done, there were certificates and awards to hand out.

There was a certificate for each of the kids, to recognize that they have completed the year. This one is John's.
Some of the kids participate in the First Friday Novena. We try to make it to Mass and Communion on nine consecutive First Fridays. The kids that did all nine get a certificate. This is what they look like.

It was just such a great end to the year. I am so grateful to all the people that worked so hard to make it happen, and that we have such a wonderful group!