Monday, February 28, 2011

Girls, It's All About You...But It Shouldn't Be.

Wow....a whole commercial dedicated to selfishness. I don't watch TV, so I have never seen this before, but I was told about it. It's scary.
The woman "shopping" for a guy. Talk about treating people like objects! And I get angry when men treat women that way.
The stork trying desperately to get attention.
The whole idea that you can have everything you want. That what you want, including a physical relationship without strings, should come before other people. 
Women, wake up! Stop buying the lie that it's all about stuff and a good time.

If this is really who we are, then I fold.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Lovely Sunday!

It was a beautiful day today in every way!
The boys went to Mass last night and Brendan and Paul served, so Tim and I went alone, well, sort of.
Lilly and Nina were there too, and Lilly was very good!
It was a nice Mass, and it seemed like there were a lot of people there!

After Mass, Tim and I went out to lunch at McGregor's. We just wanted a quick salad, but the chance to catch some time alone was very nice! The boys were home, along with Maggie. They are all such good guys, and we appreciate the chance to go out occasionally.

When we got home, I took Maggie out for a walk. The weather was just gorgeous, and I couldn't resist! We both enjoyed the sun and seeing the neighborhood waking up from the cold weather of the past few weeks. Maggie was a perfect lady. She walked right by several people, which is huge progress!

I took Brendan and Paul down to Whitemarsh mall for a bit. We stopped on the way to deliver Fr. Henry's "dessert of the month".
Brendan wanted something in particular at the Disney store, and it wasn't there :(
He was very disappointed. They were both such good sports though. I took the opportunity to find a new little purse to replace my black one, and the boys just went along and didn't complain at all. I know they REALLY didn't want to be there! I did find something, and then we headed home.

We had a roast and potatoes for dinner, and then I let the boys stay up a little late to watch "Prince of Persia" as a reward for being such good sports all day.

Tomorrow is another school day. The boys have play practice after we get school done. I am finally caught up on my Bible Study reading, and I will get to go tomorrow night! I hope to make it to the rest of them. I have missed so many. I love this study.

So on we go. This is the last full week before Lent begins, and I have to say, I have never looked forward to Lent with this much anticipation! We will be beginning another "40 Days for Life" on Ash Wednesday, and it is just so exciting to see the fruits of so much concentrated prayer as the campaign goes forward. Every day brings wonderful reports of babies and their moms brought to the truth of LIFE!
God is so good!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So Many Cuties!

Between Lucy, Lilly and Molly, there is just so much CUTE going around.

Lucy is a sweetie and so doggone grown-up. I just love all the things she says. When I am on the phone with Laura, she is always chattering on in the background about something or other. Keeping Laura informed on all the latest.

Lilly is a little sweetie. Loves Jesus and Maggie and her uncles. Oh, and Grandma Susie. They have some kind of special relationship. Lilly is always cheerful and full of life. Of course, there is the odd moment when she she's mad. She recovers quickly. what a mover! That girl has her own personal drum line! I love the way she sings. SO cute!
I just love little girls! With all the boys around here, a little feminine input is more than welcome!

Thanks to my girls for being so generous and giving the world more reasons to smile!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Hero For Our Times

A truly great man has passed from our midst.
Dr Bernard Nathanson, a former abortionist turned pro-life activist, has gone to his reward, and I can just imagine his reception.
Jesus must have hugged him and said "Well done, good and faithful servant".
Millions of sweet voices singing "Thank you, Dr Nathanson, for speaking for us when we couldn't speak for ourselves."
Ronald Reagan, who was his good friend, was waiting as well, I'm sure.
Pope John Paul II, who was the pope when Dr Nathanson came into the Catholic Church.
And my sweet Mom, who loved him and thought of him as a personal hero for so many years.
Give him a big hug for me, Mom.

You can read more about the life of this great man here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Place Called Home

Yesterday was so special. We attended the wedding of two wonderful young people that we have known since we moved here. The Weber and Ortman families are homeschoolers from way back. We all brought our kids up together in TORCH and now Brad and Holly are creating a family of their own.

The ceremony was so beautiful, and the church, St Ignatius, is  the first Catholic church that was built in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. It has been there since 1792. The parish has since built a new "Chapel" that is twice the size of the original church, but they have refurbished the old church and it is just gorgeous!

I was looking around after Mass, and I have to say that, for a moment, I felt a little wistful at the lavishness that the parish can afford in redecorating a church that is almost never used, while Good Shepherd still has to find a way to raise the money for a new roof. It was kind of like visiting the homes of some of our friends that have these fabulous new houses, with all the bells and whistles. I am not begrudging anyone the chance to live in a beautiful new home, certainly. Just as I am thrilled that the Parish of St Ignatius can afford to make the church as lovely as it has. It is a testament to their love for the Lord. God Bless them!

At the same time I was filled with love for our dear Good Shepherd. I thought of the way that we have been able to make it beautiful. Not the same way, but our own way. I thought of how much sweat and how many tears have been shed just trying to keep it going. It is not only still going, it is slowly turning the corner to financial health!
We can't afford to hire a bunch of contractors, and buy a lot of expensive materials. Still, Fr Jay, and a lot of very talented people have been able to refurbish the Sanctuary, make it beautiful, and give us a lovely space. God has been very generous with us, through other parishes, and we now have a marble altar, new lights, new carpet, new paint, and soon a new Crucifix.  Fr Jay has many friends, and some of the things that we now have in the church came from the parish where Fr Jay said his first Mass!
So many people have put in time, money and talent to get the work finished. It's really our church. We are really a family and this effort has bound us together in a way that doesn't happen without adversity.
There have been lots of disagreements, some pain, as jobs in the parish had to be cut, and some discomfort. There have also been many triumphs and so much love. That is what it's like in a real family. Those are the experiences that build a foundation and make it what it is.

Our church isn't going to be a showplace. We don't want a showplace. I am comfortable there.
It feels like home. Our own house is very much the same. We steadily pick away at the projects that we can afford, as we can afford them. We are battling gravity and nature all the time. We don't have a lot of money, but Tim is just amazing at taking on projects and making improvements. We haven't had to get any loans, and while that means that the going is slower, we are not in debt, which I find much nicer!
There is balance. Our home isn't new, it isn't showy, but it is comfortable, warm, and it is exactly right for us. I am so glad that the boys have had the chance to live in the same house, and the same wonderful little town, and be a part of the parish at Good Shepherd, as long as they can remember.

There are as many different types of "home"  as there are families and there are many, many special parishes within the Catholic church, all over the world. I am just so glad to feel so Blessed in our comfy little corner.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Making History

So to change up the routine a little, I assigned some thing different for History last week.
We are currently in Rome, and the boys have been digging in and studying really hard.
I told them I wanted them to choose one building, feature or piece of the landscape, write a report, find some illustrations online and import them, and then create it using whatever materials they chose.

Paul chose an Etruscan Coffin. He was very interested in the sculptures on the outside.
He wanted to use Legos to build it, and it came out great!
The Etruscans were kind of ancestors of Rome, so it counts. Here is a real Etruscan Coffin:

And here is the one Paul built, notice the sculptures on the top.

Brendan chose to build a teeny, tiny Lego version of Circus Maximus, the chariot racing stadium.

Here is the real one:

And here is Brendan's:

John wanted to really go for it, the Roman Senate building out of.....
Rice Crispy Treats!

Here is the real one. As you can see, it is still standing....

Well, John and I BOTH learned a LOT about the proper material for modeling buildings.
It's not rice crispy treats.
We did learn that you can model an ancient building, and it will fall to ruins within minutes, kind of a time-lapse effect.
John's Senate is NOT still standing, but it was delicious!

 Brendan also built a The Parthenon out of blocks, but that's Greece. Just wanted to include it because it's cool. 

Maggie Got A Boo-Boo...

Well, Maggie managed to get one of her nails caught, I think probably in her kennel, while we were at Mass, and she tore it pretty badly. We tried to treat it at home, but it was just too painful for us to work on. It needed to be treated, and of course it is a Saturday night, so it was an emergency call and after hours at that. What can you do, though? The poor puppy was just following me around begging me with her eyes to fix it. So we packed her off to the clinic.

They pulled the nail, bandaged her up with a purple wrap (which she will eat, so I have to take it off tonight) and out she came 15 minutes later with a big smile on her face.
The young lady that took her back said she had never had a dog jump up on the scale like she knew what it was for. That's really because Dr. Lindsey always treats her for getting on the scale.
That 15 minutes was pretty spendy! If anyone is looking for an outrageously great hourly wage, I would strongly suggest going into veterinary medicine.

Maggie is now recovering at home with a purple foot and some pain pills that must work pretty well.
She seems grateful for the attention, but then, she is always grateful for attention!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Truly Breathtaking....

This is just a joy to watch. Amazing technology that can bring us such a view into a place that only God can see.

Vacuum Dilemma...

OK, I have to get a new vacuum. I. HAVE. TO.
Yes, I have asked lots of people about what they use, and have received lots of great advice.
However, I am falling victim to Amazon's customer reviews. Whenever I find something that seems like it is just what I would want, I go to the site and find that it's hated by enough people that I can't trust it.
Very telling is the fact that all the Hoovers have a suggested additional purchase of spare belts. Yeah. That gives me great confidence.
Eureka, apparently, has so much plastic that there are any number of places that it can break.
The bagless ones, well, I know it's just me, but I like a bag that holds everything nice and neat, and then I just pop it out and throw it away. As much as Maggie sheds, I am going to have to buy a LOT of bags! So that is another wrench in the works.
Seems like there is something wrong with every one of these things. Meanwhile, my old vac doesn't do much of a job anymore and the dog hair keeps piling up. This is only going to get worse as the weather gets warmer...
This is becoming a lot more trouble than it should be.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

St. Valentine
Patron of Love, young people, happy marriages

Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith in effectual, commended him to be beaten with clubs, and afterward, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270.

The Origin of St. Valentine

The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in a The Nuremberg Chronicle, a great illustrated book printed in 1493. [Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.] Alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269].
Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."
St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travelers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

Sunday Birdwalk

John and I took the opportunity to go down to the local nature trail, Joe K's Loop, named after our next door neighbor, to do a bit of birdwatching.
It was a chilly day, but we were pleasantly surprised with the number of different species that we saw!
I took my small camera, because it has a good zoom lens, and I was fairly successful. John took his binoculars and he was just thrilled with all that we saw.
Three Herons, which I missed getting shots of. They live here,

A hawk, hunting down by the swamp.

Three types of Woodpeckers, although this was the only one I got a shot of. It's a Northern Flicker.

Something that looked like a Catbird, which we thought were migratory, but these obviously aren't because they were hanging around in the cold.

The usual Cardinal gangs.

Some grazing Canada Geese.

And a few more that I missed, like a vulture, ugh.

We will go back in a couple of weeks and see what the warming weather brings out.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What To Do With a Saturday?

You just don't get many days like this.
A whole Saturday with nothing on the calendar. It's like having a lump sum of money dropped in the bank, and you want to be sure that you spend it wisely. Or should it be used to just have fun?
I don't know. So far I have checked email and facebook, read the news, and given one boy breakfast.
I could spend the whole day on the house, and I would get a lot done, I have no doubt.
It's still to cold and nasty out to work in the yard.
I could do lots of things, but right now, with the day stretching ahead, and the dog at my feet, and a cup of coffee, I just don't want to commit. I could just spend the day reading. I won't, but I could. The day has...potential.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Word About Sacramental Confession...

I just downloaded the new Confession App for my iphone.
I have to say, I laughed at first, but the thing is really very useful!
It keeps track of when you last went, has lots of wonderful prayers, an imprimatur, which means that it is approved by the Church, and has a great examination of conscience. Well, it will as soon as I figure out why it won't give me the right one for my state in life. It keeps giving me the one for a kid.
Of COURSE you can't use it in place of the confessional. Any real Catholic knows that.

As I was looking for an answer to why I can't get the right examination, via Google, I saw a comment from someone regarding the usefulness of this app. He said that it looked good for Catholics but, "I’m lucky, my God let’s me confess any time, anywhere with no roaming fees. Free salvation for first time customers."
Well, his definition is not quite all there is to it. That's a type of confession, certainly. You can confess to your mom that you lied. You can confess to your friend that you betrayed a confidence. You can stand in a field and confess your sins to God and He will hear you, of course. And you might feel better, having been open and honest, so there is a sense of reconciliation.
There is SO much more that goes with the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After reading all the reviews on this whole app thing, even from Catholics, I am wondering how many people even know what Sacramental Confession really does for the soul.
Confessing is good, confessing within the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is best.

It's about Grace.
The Sacraments are conduits through which Grace flows. The Holy Spirit acts upon the penitent in Confession, with an infusion of Sacramental Grace, this Grace comes through the administration of the Sacrament through the priest. Kind of like getting over-the-counter medications as opposed to prescription. You can communicate your sorrow to God anytime, of course, and He knows that you are sorry. But, if you receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you receive that Grace which helps combat sin. Like chemo drugs, it seeks out and destroys the attachment that you have to that particular sin, and makes you stronger and more able to resist. Of course your intention has to be correct. You have to be open to Grace.

It is God's gift. You can't go buy Grace, you can't bargain for it, you can't demand it. It is the free gift of our loving Father, to Sanctify us, so that someday we can enter Heaven as His children. We have to open our hearts, be humble and willing to let His gift change them. The more Grace we receive, the faster we will progress. It's like a super-vitamin for the soul.

I do think this app will help me in some ways, it's a great idea. If it helps some people get to Confession more often, then it's doing a tremendous service, bringing more Grace to more people. Who's not for that?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Who Knew....Or Wanted To?

As a bit of an Anglophile, I found this very interesting and informative.
Probably way more than most people, actually, but if you ever wanted to know anything about how our friends "Across the Pond" define themselves, this'll do it!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In The Scheme of Things....

Some days it just seems that I am spinning my wheels and each day is very much like the last.
I try to see the big picture, but it seems kind of fuzzy and far off.
I know that school is going well, because we are making progress and working our way through the lessons and the grades on all the tests are great. Still, on a day to day basis it seems like I have lost my creativity and so things are getting kind of dry and just coming out of the books.
On days like this I feel like I want to drop every other activity that is distracting me from schooling. 
Fortunately, all three of the boys are voracious gatherers of information, so while they may not be getting a lot of interesting discussions about the way flowers pollinate (very difficult this time of year and it's annoying that their whole Science book revolves around things that only happen in the Spring!), they are fascinated with birds, and all things geological, and how things work. So I guess their natural interests and curiosity are taking us all in directions that are unexpected, yet very educational.

I know that part of this is the February doldrums. We all get bogged down in this month of cold, dark and dreary. It seems like time is at a standstill and that the lessons are as stale as the air in the house.
We long to throw open the windows, run through a warm meadow and hear the birds in the trees.
At least I do. I am so tired of stepping out the door and being chased back inside by the biting cold. I am tired of slogging through the dirty old snow to get out in the yard.

This happens every February, and I should be used to it by now.
I am taking steps to make this particular February a little more interesting.

We are going to DC in a couple of weeks to explore the National Gallery. We are going to spend a whole day soaking up the art. I am going to take pictures and the boys are going to draw pictures. We are going to have a nice warm museum, full of great people that want to teach us things!

We are also going to go to the Basilica this weekend, if all goes well, to go to Mass, and have a new book signed by Cardinal Wuerl. I really hope we can go. We have been wanting to get back down there, the boys just love the place. I just have to figure out what to do with Maggie. Hopefully Nina will be able to help out.

Tim and I are going to be able to attend the wedding of two young people that we have seen grow up before our eyes. Holly Weber and Brad Ortman. Two wonderful kids from two families that we have been close to for years. It is going to be so special to be a part of that day!

So, all in all, I guess there is yet some spice in this winter month. I just have to be able to find it and remember that it's out there on the days when the walls start closing in.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Our Girl is ONE Year Old!

Sweet Maggie is one today.
We just want to say "Thank You" to a very special family, the Tellups, that made our family so complete with the perfect addition.
Maggie is everything we could have asked for in a best friend.
She is loved, boy, is she loved!