Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Maggie Is the Best!

There is no creature on earth as loving, generous, willing and compassionate as a Golden Retriever...
I don't know what we ever did before Maggie....

Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer is Officially HERE!

What a hot, gorgeous and fun filled weekend it has been!

Saturday we had a GREAT time at the Watkins Graduation/Birthday/First Communion party!

Matt Watkins was the Graduate/cook. He was celebrating heartily, along with his happy family, after completing his Master's at John's Hopkins.

Brendan and Paul got to hang out with their best buddy, Henry, who was the birthday boy, and John represented the family at Nora's first Communion, which we couldn't attend because Brendan and Paul had to serve at Mass at Good Shepherd.

Yesterday we went up to the pool for much of the afternoon. We all ended up a little pink, but it was such a great day!

Today we went back up to the pool and the boys ordered Pizza for dinner.
The weather was hot and perfect! The water has warmed up and it is just lovely!
Nina and Lilly joined us and it was a very nice start to our summer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just So Ya Know....

In response to the comment that I received this morning....
I am a Roman Catholic, happy to be obedient to the Magisterium, and our Holy Father Benedict XVI.
I am trying to live a life worthy of the Gifts that Christ has bestowed on me through His Church.
Pope Benedict is the successor of Peter. As such he has my undying fidelity and prayers. No human being in history, besides Our Lord, and His mother Mary, has ever been able to get through this life without failing in some way. No one is perfect.
From Saint Peter to Pope Benedict every pope in history has been human. Some have been better than others, but they have all fallen occasionally. I find that to be reassuring, because I am more human than I care to admit.
Pope Benedict is a man of God, and he has been given the Grace to carry out his duties in an exemplary way. Every pope is given to the Church for the time and season that he must oversee. I know that the Holy Spirit chose the right man for the job.
So, rumor-mongering and internet sites that are created to spread dissension within the Faithful, won't get through this blog.
God Bless our dear Holy Father.
I am praying for all who are confused about what the Church teaches and it's mission on Earth.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Congratulations Maria!

Tonight was the celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation at Good Shepherd.
I was honored to be Maria Hoppel's sponsor. She is a lovely young lady with a wonderful faith, and I can't wait to see what she will be called to in this life. Whatever it is, she is going to be one of God's hard workers.
God Bless you Maria.

Home Off The Range

Well, we had a rip-roaring good time out in Texas!

birthday partyin',


and all around family lovin'.

Those Cookes are a wonderful family.
The girls are so well behaved and sweet.

They thoroughly enjoyed playing with the boys and we felt so blest to be able to have the time with them.
Claire is a little doll. She is going through the typical newborn adjustment, which turns the household upside down occasionally, but everyone seems to roll with it.

Laura was such a wonderful hostess. Probably a little too good sometimes, because she was trying to be a new mom, a sister, daughter, wife and mommy. That's a lot on anyone's plate. Newborns are exhausting, and Laura really gave us a wonderful visit, even though she probably felt like falling down half the time. You would never know it!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Bureau of Engraving

We had a really interesting tour of the Bureau of Engraving today.
No pictures, because cameras, cell phones, etc. are verboten, but I think the boys were quite impressed.
Stacks and stacks of millions of dollars can do that to a person.

I think the thing that I found the most interesting about the whole day happened on the bus that we had to take to get to the actual building where the tour takes place.

Laura had Claire, of course, and being a two week old baby, her thoughts turned to breastmilk the minute she exited the carseat. So, Laura proceeded to do what any loving mommy would do and began to breastfeed Claire before we were able to go into the complex.
There were a couple of school groups going through with us, and they were also waiting in front of the building. One of the teachers noticed Laura feeding the baby and became extremely uncomfortable.
As we got on the bus, she glared at Laura, and snapped at one of the boys in her group "Turn around!"

I found this extremely ironic, considering that these children have probably been learning about sex for the last three years, and yet the act of breastfeeding, which is the most natural use of a woman's anatomy, is frowned upon. How about giving children an environment in which the body is respected for it's natural beauty and the gift of sexuality, instead of teaching them to exploit each other "safely"?

Texas Entertainment

This is how Texans have a good time.
We are having such a great time with the Cooke family.
Tonight is Rockband night.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Somewhere in the Middle

This song is so true. It perfectly describes the sense of conflict that we find when we try to do God's Will and continue to try to be in control of our lives. It is the struggle to serve Him without reckless abandon.

"With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is".

We can go on in the gray, tepid comfort of a lukewarm faith, or we can throw ourselves off the edge of control, with passion and trust and find that He is there and He will catch us, and we will never be the same.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Miracle of the Son

Image used with permission.
  Art Prints available through www.ImmaculataArt.com
 Today is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima:
Our Lady of Fatima
Between May 13 and October 13, 1917, three Portuguese children received apparitions of Our Lady at Cova da Iria, near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon. (See February 20 entry for Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto). Mary asked the children to pray the rosary for world peace, for the end of World War I, for sinners and for the conversion of Russia. The third visionary, Lucia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and died in 2005 at the age of 97.
Mary gave the children three secrets. Since Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta the following year, Lucia, who later became a Carmelite nun, revealed the first secret in 1927, concerning devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The second secret was a vision of hell.
Pope John Paul II directed the Holy See's Secretary of State to reveal the third secret in 2000; it spoke of a 'bishop in white' who was shot by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows into him. Many people linked this to the assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square on May 13, 1981.
The feast of Our Lady of Fatima was approved by the local bishop in 1930; it was added to the Church's worldwide calendar in 2002.
The image above was created by an amazing artist who is wholeheartedly dedicated to the Pro-Life cause.
I found her website while searching for a certain image online, and when I stumbled onto it I was so touched by the way all of her art work brings together God's tremendous love and power, and the humanity that He uses to bring it into our experience.  Below is the story of Nellie Edwards and her vocation of mother and artist.
(This version of the painting above will not be on the website for a week or so. To order prints you can request Word Made Flesh with "Rosary text."  Art Prints may be ordered bulk at wholesale.)
 I was born in Yakima, Wa., one of nine children.  As far back as I can recall, I wanted to be two things when I grew up...a mother and an artist.  God was good to give me nine children, one of whom is with the Lord, interceding for us before his throne. It was evident He had granted me the motherhood prayer but I couldn't paint, though I tried off and on over the years!   
I read Humanae Vitae as a newlywed and felt led to promote it's beautiful truth, whenever I was given the opportunity.  In 1983, I co-founded a chapter of Catholics United for Life, to go to the place where babies were being killed by abortion...to pray the holy Rosary and offer help to young mothers arriving for their 'appointments.'  At the end of four years, numerous babies and their mothers were spared the horror that is abortion...The abortionist had finally quit, but our celebration was tempered, knowing the holocaust was continuing all across the country. 
In 1996, my husband and I moved our family to North Dakota, where we started a family business. I named it "Mother of Eight Designs".  It grew quickly and I found myself receiving many public speaking invitations, so I knew I had a way to plug faith and family values.  One day, at a point when we were selling our product to more than 200 locations nationwide, I found myself telling our four eldest sons to start their own business....ceramic tiling!  They had learned from a friend's father, who did it professionally.  I knew this would mean the decline of our business, since we lived in a tiny community, with no talent pool to draw from, but trusted this was God's will and He would provide.  The next thing I knew, the boys were asking me to make a pattern for a tile inlay, to be embedded in front of the Blessed Sacrament altar at a Church they were tiling.  I was happy for the honor and that it would be a fairly simple design, since I had no talent for anything too detailed.  I found myself asking for a PC tablet, which I had seen advertised in my husband's computer magazines.  I figured I could get perfect symmetry that way, even though I knew nothing of how the 'gadget' worked. It turned out well and the boys executed the inlay beautifully.  (This mother loves seeing her sons on their knees in God's house hours at a time!)   Long story, but it turned out that the PC tablet and stylus were providential, in that they became my canvas and brush.  I was inspired to 'paint' Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, (even though I had no special devotion to her at the time). Half way through, got a call from Fr. Steve Kranz, asking me to speak at an annual Indian congress!  He didn't know I was working on Kateri and I wasn't sure why, but I knew this was a tremendous confirmation, that it was the Will of God.  "Holding on to Faith" is featured in the month of June, in the 2011 Catholic Extension Society calendar...their major fundraiser each year.  When I got the request, I was elated, since I believe the Indian people are going to be a vital new infusion in the ProLife movement.  (have had numerous signs of that, through the 'painting.')  Each painting (digital painting is accepted my the mainstream art world, since most is done freehand) has a story to it and I am profoundly grateful, that my feeble talents, mixed with ardent desire, are of use to help build the Culture of Life.  Numerous groups across the country have contacted me for "Word Made Flesh" and others, to bring these visuals of Truth to those they are striving to help.  Prayer answered!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Yes, We Can Make a Difference!

Pro-life ‘victory’ as Indiana law cuts all Planned Parenthood funding
By Kevin J. Jones

Governor Mitch Daniels
.- Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law a bill that cuts Planned Parenthood state funding and adds other restrictions on abortion.
“It’s a great victory,” said Glenn Tebbe, executive director of the Indiana Catholic Conference. “This is an achievement we’ve been working towards for a number of years.”
He thought the law offers “a very good chance” to reduce the number of abortions in Indiana.
“That’s probably the most important aspect,” he said.
The law ends all state-directed funding for businesses that do abortions except for hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, USA Today reports. It cuts $2 million of the $3 million the Indiana Planned Parenthood organization receives annually in government funds.
The law also makes Indiana the first state to prohibit the use of Medicaid at Planned Parenthood.
“It’s good that our tax dollars don’t have to support an agency that performs abortions,” Tebbe told CNA on May 11.
He credited the “persistence” of pro-life groups and the pro-life community over past years which allowed them to take advantage of the opportunity to pass the legislation.
Daniels was supportive of the legislation “from the beginning,” Tebbe reported.
Read the rest at Catholic News Agency...

Our Boy of Summer

Paul is loving Baseball, and I am so glad!
He is just enjoying getting out on the field. He connects with the ball at bat occasionally, and he even catches it once in awhile.
I just think it is so cool that he doesn't feel pressured to perform, but is accepted by the team, and is making improvements at every practice and game. One of the most talented players on the team has been helping Paul with his throwing and catching.
I really feel like the spirit of Little League is alive in this team. The other players are pretty easy going and no one has an attitude of superiority. The coach is SO patient and he really takes all the kids for themselves, not for his own purposes, but for the good of the team. He just loves baseball.
I'm really glad that Paul is having a really good experience this year. I am encouraged about next year!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Wish....

....That we were going to be finished with school by the time that we leave for Texas next week.
I can see that that is not going to be the case and we are going to be back at it when we get back. I would love to be the kind of person that can just say "bag it" and be done, but I have this thing about getting to the end of the books.

We will finish a few things by then. We haven't gotten to the end of the History book, only halfway actually, but that is much further than I intended to go. We were only going to do ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, but we ended up getting all the way to the middle ages! We used so many more supplemental resources, that I am going to have to sit down and put them all into Homeschool Tracker, and then print them out for our review!

We are also done with Religion, and most of our English workbooks. Spelling will be done at the end of this week! Science is almost there. John has a couple more chapters and the other boys are about one unit away. We didn't get in as many projects as I would have liked but everyone did their reading and vocabulary.
I think the plays were the big hit of the year as far as projects.
"Search for Delicious" was such a great experience for Brendan and Paul. Taking a book, and turning it into a play, complete with scenery and costumes, was huge!
John is participating in a Shakespeare play for the third year and it is going really well! "The Merchant of Venice" may well be the best yet! I am working on costumes and having a wonderful time!

Math is going to be the one that drags on and on....Everyone is doing well, and they all totally get it, but it is a struggle every day to get the lessons done. We are all just itching for Summer break.

Spending time with Laura, Andrew and the littles will be such a welcome respite! We are all just going to soak up the sweetness.....

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Hope it was the best ever! You are in such great company! Give my little ones a kiss from Mama....See you in the blink of His eye!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What A Great Program!

Wild Horse Inmate Program in Colorado Benefits Both Mustangs and Prisoners

By Kelly David Burke
Published May 06, 2011
| FoxNews.com
It’s been 25 years since the Bureau of Land Management decided to speed up adoptions of wild horses by using prison inmates to train them. Since then nearly 5,000 animals have been gentled or saddle trained in the Wild Horse Inmate Program and adopted out.

Fran Ackley, who runs the BLM wild horse facility outside of Canon City, Colo., says the U.S. Border Patrol buys many of the inmate-trained horses.

“American mustangs working to protect America's borders, it just seems like a natural fit. We've adopted 95 horses to the U.S. Border Patrol, mostly on the southern border, but we have almost 30 horses on the northern border as well.”

Agents on horseback can patrol remote terrain where motorized vehicles just can’t get. And when it comes to horses, Mustangs bred in the wild are toughest and most sure-footed there are.

That’s why, Ackley says, they are the preferred choice of the Border Patrol. “They really like the quality of the horses (and) they use them all day, every day. And they can handle it: they're durable, they don't give out, they have really tough feet.”

With the nation’s renewed emphasis on border security, the Border Patrol plans to increase the use of horse patrols. Another 70 Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) animals are on order.

Using inmates to do the training saves taxpayers money in several ways. Saddle-trained WHIP animals cost $1,025 each. That’s about the same as it would cost to lease a comparable horse for a year, and less than half what it would cost to buy one from a private seller.

And trained horses not bought by the Border Patrol are much more likely to get adopted by members of the general public. In 2010, more than 40 percent of the BLM’s $64-million Wild Horse and Burro budget went to the care and feeding of animals that no one would adopt. Taxpayers no longer have to pay for animals adopted out. Untrained horses can be adopted for just $125, but takers for unbroken horses are much harder to find.

For the inmates doing the WHIP training, “It’s a little piece of freedom every day,” according to James Hershey who says he’s doing a 4-year stretch for drugs in the nearby Four Mile Correctional Facility.

“It is very relaxing, and rewarding. You see a change in their eye from when…they're a completely wild animal, to the point where they trust you. (Then) you can see a softness in their eye.”

The aptly named Cody West manages the inmate side of the program. “Horse training's not for everybody,” he says while explaining that not all inmates make the grade.

“They have to be patient. At the same time they have to be brave. There's a certain kind of risk you take anytime you get around one of these animals.”

A fact attested to by inmate Timothy Schoenleder. “I been bit, kicked, stomped, you name it. It's not if you get hurt, it's when you get hurt, 'cus you will. They're scared. It's fight or flight. In their world everything's out to eat them. Once they learn that you're not out to eat them then they're all right, then they're like big babies.”

On the outside Schoenleder rides a Harley instead of a horse. “It’s a lot different. A motorcycle you can control. A horse sometimes you can’t.”

But still to him working with horses is a kind of therapy. “I was out here before (in prison) and I got out in 2007. Then I screwed up and came back with a little trespassing charge. When I got out I didn’t miss the place, but I missed the horses. I love it out here (working with the animals).”

The horse training inmates all come from minimum security facilities. It’s a privilege they have to earn. Interestingly, most have never trained horses before, which is how West likes it.

“I'd prefer them not to have any horse experience because then I don't have to break any bad habits. They come in here green, and I can show them how we want it to be done, and it works out a whole lot better.”

West says the number one quality in a good horse trainer is something that doesn’t come naturally to people who land behind bars.

“Patience more than anything, nothing happens in horse training in a fast pace.”

Consequently, inmate trainers tend to learn as much from the horses as they horses learn from them.

“It teaches me patience and how to just relax and think about what I'm doing,” says Ramon “Gonzo” Gonzales, serving a three-year sentence for 2nd degree burglary, as he dismounts a three-year-old Palomino named Ringo.

“He’s close to being done. He’s going to be going to the Border Patrol here within the next month. Seeing them come out of the wild and then come to be like this…that’s really rewarding.”

West says wild horses train pretty much the same as others except in the beginning.

“They come in and they’re three years old and they’ve never been handled, where most domestic horses have been handled since six months of age. So that first two weeks we just have to build some trust with them and let them know we’re not going to hurt them.”

The Border Patrol gives some additional training to the mustangs it buys from WHIP. It includes getting them used to the firing of a weapon, helicopters flying overhead and other things specific to their news job securing America’s borders.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where Have I Been?

I've been to Texas to welcome the newest Princess to the Cooke Family!
Beautiful Claire Faustina was born on Tuesday, May 3rd.
I was so blest to be able to be there to welcome her!

I am so grateful to so many people that welcomed the boys, as Tim was away as well.
Nina, you are wonderful!! Paula, Susan, Rachel, Nettie..... You made my whole year!

 Kasie, you have been such a blessing to all of us, especially Laura, who doesn't have to worry about her

first two princesses!

Such a special blessing to such a wonderful family. Her sisters are just over the moon!