Thursday, December 28, 2006

Blessed Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

I'm very sorry it has been over a week since I posted. Two weeks ago Cecilia got sick with a cold. Last week James got sick with a cold that is quite persistant. And I've been sick since Christmas with some fever/cough thing. So, basically, we have been sleeping in and taking it easy as much as possible. My fever seems to have gone away and Cecilia is better but James and I are still working through the coughs.

We do hope everyone is having a very Blessed Christmas Season though and we will try to get some pictures of Cecilia's first Christmas on her website within the next couple of weeks. When you are sick, everything goes slower.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Airport HELL

First, let me clarify that I am NOT speaking of the BWI airport, which was most accomodating, nor Ft. Lauderdale's airport which we also had no problem at.

However, when we flew out of Orlando's airport this morning, it was a nightmare I never would have anticipated. Lines and chaos seem to be the two most prized things in the airport. For out 11:10am flight back to BWI we arrived at the airport at 9:15 - almost two hours beforehand.

We got to the ticketing area and there were two lines - one from each entry way - both ending in the same spot. We waiting in one of these lines until we got to the front where an employee was listening to each person's situation and then directing them to the correct line. So, then we waited in a second line. (Ingenius system wouldn't you say?) By the time we finished checking in we became worried about time since James still hadn't returned the rental car. So, knowing security would take longer for Cecilia, the stroller, the car seat, the diaper bag, the camera bag and whoever had them, we decided to split up - James left to return the car while I pushed or carried Cecilia and all of the forementioned items on a cart to security. Oh if only the saga had ended there.

I waited in one line only to be told when I got to the front of it that my cart could not come through (at BWI they did permit the cart through and the only sign to tell me it was not permitted I later saw on the far right of security) and if I needed help I would have to go back to ticketing and ask for help there. So I got out of line, pulled over and put Cecilia and everything else either in or on the stroller or myself. So I was now pushing Cecilia in the stroller, my purse and the camera bag hanging one off each handle bar, all of our coats and her blanket and a towel draped over the stroller, the diaper bag on one shoulder and carrying the car seat with the one arm not pushing the stroller. I got back in line at security. After waiting in one line and nearing the front by only a few people, they closed that line and I had to get in another. I finally got to the front of that line where they checked my ID and our tickets and let us pass into a mob of people who were pushing for the next found of lines to get through the X-ray machines. Eventually, we got up to the counter on which to put everything. I put up the diaper bag, the car seat and the camera bag and my purse while I took off my shoes. I got a bin and places my shoes BESIDE the bin. A security employee commented that my shoes had to go through security on the belt - not in a bin and then took the bin. By now I was ready to lose it. I picked up the jackets and blanket and towel for which I had gotten the stupid bin in the first place and threw them on the counter. The employee wasn't even't paying attention and just pushed everything through on the belt. I finally got Cecilia out of the stroller but, not familiar with folding the stroller without shoes on, I couldn't do it. I had to set her and our IDs and tickets on the floor and she began crying. Finally, an employee saw me struggling, and came over to help with the stroller. She asked how to fold it, I explained, and she got another employee to fold it and put it through. While getting everything together after security was not too difficult, Cecilia was scared and crying hysterically. Having been surrounded by so many people and mommy struggling and going from out of the stroller to in to out to in I finally took her out and held her putting the car seat in the stroller.

Now, completely forget for a moment that we are in Hanukkah or that Christmas is a week away and this is a season to be kind and joyful and generous - ignoring all this, I was still a paying customer by myself with an infant struggling and it took until Cecilia broke down screaming on the floor before ANYONE - employee OR passanger helped me. And for the record, in the end I received far more help from other passangers than from employees.

P.S. - get this - while going through security at the BWI airport, the guard told me that it would be easier for them if I placed the ziplock bag with Cecilia's peaches and juice separate from the other things. So, in Orlando, I did this ... they never even checked them.

The Orlando airport has to be the slowest, stupidest, most idiot run airport when it comes to ticketing and security I have seen in years. And to think this is an airport that sees an especially high number of tourists with small children!

It will be a frozen day in Orlando before I ever fly out of there again.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Birthday Meme

The Rules:

1) Go to Wikipedia.
2) In the search box, type your birth month and day but not the year.
3) List three events that happened on your birthday.
4) List two important birthdays and one death.
5) One holiday or observance (if any).

3 Events:
1. 4004 BC - On the preceding eve of this day (in the proleptic Julian calendar), the universe was created, according to the archbishop James Ussher in what is now called the Ussher-Lightfoot Calendar.
2. 1930 - The first miniature golf tournament was completed in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
3. 2001 - Apple Computer releases the first iPod.

2 Birthdays (and 2 for added fun):
1844 - Sarah Bernhardt, French actress (d. 1923)
1925 - Johnny Carson, American television host (d. 2005)
1942 - Michael Crichton, American writer
1959 - "Weird Al" Yankovic, American musical parodist

1 Death (plus 2 for fun):
42 BC - Marcus Junius Brutus, Roman senator (b. 85 BC)
Giovanni da Capistrano, Italian saint (b. 1386)
1950 - Al Jolson, American singer and actor (b. 1886)

R.C. Saints - Saint Giovanni da Capistrano; Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
Hungary - National Day (revolution of 1956 and the proclamation of the Republic of Hungary in 1989)
Astrology: First day of sun sign Scorpio in Western tropical astrology.
Chemistry: Mole Day

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another Hot Topic - Crying It Out

A topic so controversial on mother message boards so as to be placed on their "Great Debate" boards along side Circumcision and Vaccination is whether or not to let a baby CIO or Cry it out.

Now, let me first say, that, at least for the purposes of this post, I am not speaking about when a parent is on the verge of losing it and prudently chooses to set the child down and walk away for a few minutes to regain control of themselves. In such a case, it is a prudent decision for the parent to do so so as to prevent any greater harm from coming to anyone even if it means the baby cries for a bit. I am also not speaking of an incrimental or gradual CIO method where the parent would leave the child and when the baby began crying, the parent returns to the baby, calms him and then leaves again.

I am speaking of when a parent makes sure as best as they can that there is nothing wrong with the baby and then leaves him in his crib and does not return even if the baby cries for over an hour. I've heard some parents let their infants cry for 3 hours or more, persistantly hoping the baby will just get the point, give up and go to sleep. I have heard mothers say that they use this method because their baby "deserves the opportunity to learn to sleep on their own."

Over the course of Cecilia's 10 months now, Cecilia has been anything but a great or easy sleeper. She has been attached to me since we brought her home, she fusses very easily, has been a very light sleeper making moving her almost impossible, has struggled greatly with teething, and indeed, has at times woken up 8 or more times a night. Indeed, it can be very tiring for her and me. I don't think I've ever had a Diet Coke with breakfast before simply to get the caffeine. Cecilia still sleeps in our bed, beside me. Some nights she is fantasic and will not wake more than once. Other nights it seems she is awake more than she is asleep. And more than one or two people have advised James and me to simply "let her cry."

It is however, a completly natural instinct to hold and comfort your child when they are crying. No parent should ever wish to see their child cry and, indeed, God has built us with an innate desire to wipe away all their tears. So it is reasonable that there should, indeed, be a very good reason, to simply ignore a baby's crying as well as our desire to calm that baby.

Personally, I cannot bring myself to do this for two reasons:
1. When God entrusts his innocent and completly dependent creation of a baby to me such that I become everything to that baby, yes, indeed, even becoming a representative of God to her and she is psychologically and intellectually incapable of intentionally trying to manipulate me but rather seeks only to fulfill her needs of nourishment and comfort, how can I morally and with justification ignore her cries? When we are sad or angry or in pain or lonely and we cry unto God, he is ALWAYS there. He never ignores us or abandons us or lets us wallow in sadness or pain so we can "have the opportunity to learn on our own," but rather he is always there guiding, comforting, enlightening, caressing, and wiping away our tears. As we are so gently and lovingly treated by Our Father, how could I justly choose not to strive to treat my daughter likewise?
2. Everyone, including her pediatrician, makes the defense, "they won't remember it." I grant you I don't know anyone who remembers such an event, but can anyone provide absolutely proof positive evidence that when a baby is left to cry and her whole world - her parents - ignores them, it has absolutely no negative consequences, especially psychologically? I am not saying there is proof positive evidence that it does cause harm, but without evidence to the contrary, shouldn't we always err on the side of caution?

I am certainly not saying not letting a baby CIO is easy. Heaven knows it isn't. There have been about 4 or 5 nights in the last two weeks where I have barely slept. But I simply cannot justify leaving Cecilia to CIO. I have been and will continue to work with her regarding her sleep (which has improved quite a bit I must say over the past month or so - The No Cry Sleep Solution has been helpful) but beyond that it is one more sacrifice my vocation calls me to make, as every vocation demands sacrifices.

I am certainly open to discussion on the topic, but I have explained my reasonings and would need those to be addressed before even considering such a course of action. Regarding any responses, please remember to be respectful and consider seriously my objections such that they be regarded in a thorough manner in any response. Thank you and God bless.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Santa, Part II

It seems the Santa Question is a hot topic on more than one Catholic website or blog.

Here is Rod Dreher's Blog (he writes for the Dallas Morning News) where, if you scroll down, the debate continues.

So I just thought I'd expand a bit more on the topic from my perspective. Please feel free to comment below but do remember to be respectful.

There seem to be three approaches to Santa:
1. There is a man at the North Pole with flying reindeer and elves, etc. as real as you or I or the Incarnation is.
2. There is a myth of a man at the North Pole who symbolizes the spirit of Christmas or a characture of a real Saint that has been embellished but continues to capture the spirit of Christmas.
3. Santa who?
Regarding Option 1, there have been several arguments made against it as well as several made in favor of it.
1. It is a pleasure to believe in Santa not to be denied to a child.
2. It encourages fantasy and wonder.
3. It accents and emphasizes the Spirit of Generosity and of Christmas.

1. It is a lie and we should avoid lying to our children.
2. It distracts children from Christ - the reason for the season.
3. It isn't necessary to celebrate Christmas.

Now, I hardly think the whole thing to be a serious moral issue, so I would respect any parent's decision on the subject with regard to their own children. However, here are my comments on both arguments.
In Favor: 1. It may be a pleasure, but there are many pleasures in life. Pleasure by its very definition is enjoyable but is not a necessity nor a right. Many children and adults alike took pleasure in Christmas long before there was the modern version of Santa Claus. So, granted it is a pleasure, but not a necessary one, and the question becomes, is it a pleasure that is worth it? 2. I would certainly grant that it does encourage fantasy and wonder. So does the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. And Charlotte's Web and the Chronicles of Narnia and Bing Crosby's White Christmas and Harry Potter and playing dress up and having tea parties without real tea, Lincoln Logs, etc. ad nauseum. Santa certainly encourages fantasy and wonder, but so do many many things. So my question now becomes, is telling a child the myth of Santa is a reality worth the pleasure and the fantasy and wonder? 3. I think Santa CAN accent the Spirit of Christmas depending on how it is treated. Secular society shoves him down our throats proclaiming him the national mascot and representative of Christmas itself. By the same token, a family certainly can treat him in a way where he would accent the meaning of Christmas. But he isn't necessary in this capacity either. So my summary of my comments on the arguments in favor are, "Telling children the man at the north pole with the flying reindeer and elves is as real as you are does give pleasure, does encourage fantasy and wonder and can accent the spirit of giving, but at what price and is that price worth it?"

Against: 1. I am not going to debate if there are ever times it is okay to lie to our children, but I will say that to consider it I'd have to have a very good reason. Consider what happens when they find out I did lie. Some people are hurt. Some get angry. As for myself I felt like a gullible idiot for having believed it until I was in the 5th grade. Could a child resent their parent for having lied to them? I don't, but it is a possibility worth considering. Would they then doubt other things they have believed because this "reality" that they have held so long has turned out to be a lie? There are several risks in lying to children. Are those risks worth their pleasure and a source of fantasy for them? Depending on the parents, the family, the children and how the whole thing is handled, some might say yes, some no. 2. The reason Christmas exists at all is quite simply that the Almighty and Most Merciful God humbled Himself to become human and was born to save humanity from sin. Does Santa detract from this amazing reason to celebrate? Personally, for me, I believe it did. I don't remember any of my Christmas masses growing up. I remember wanting stuff. I remember going through the entire Pennys catalogue and writing out over 2 pages on a yellow legal pad stuff I wanted from it. In my naivite, I simply figured since Santa didn't need cash, I could ask for as much as I wanted. It was very easy to focus on stuff I wanted rather than sitting through Church for an extra long mass. Now as an adult, I see secular society working all the harder to force the Stuff angle to be all the easier and easier to fall in to. This argument really is the most crucial, for, if anyone is distracted away from Jesus at Christmas, then the entire celebration is hollow. To tell a child that Santa with his reindeer and elves is just as real as the birth of Christ is to put them both on the same level of truth as they share the same holiday. For me, this is the critical point, for I would see no pleasure, no source of fantasy or wonder, no risk to faith or trust and no accent to the spirit of the season as being worth even risking (no less putting another subject on the same level of view) the failure to gaze in relentless joy at the Christ Child and celebrate His birth and the source of our redemption. 3. I think I've already commented enough above to simply state that Santa is not a necessity but a luxury that I don't believe to be worth the cost when he is treated as a complete reality.
Regarding Option 2:
Santa, as I stated in my previous post, is originally based on a Catholic Saint - St. Nicholas. And, as my previous post stated, I have no objection to Santa Claus as a symbol of a truth and as an embellishment of St. Nicholas, provided children know that it is a myth and a symbol and an embellishment and are not really told that there is in truth a chubby guy at the north pole with flying reindeer and elves. In this manner, the objection regarding lying ceases to exist, Santa is not placed as a reality along side Jesus but rather, as simply a reflection of the Spirit of Christmas, directs our focus not at himself, but directly at Christ, removing the second objection. In this way, he can still provide pleasure and a sense of fantasy even while the children know it to be a fantasy and truly highlight and accent the spirit of Christmas.
Regarding Option 3:
I suppose circumstances could one day arise such that I would consider completly erasing Santa (not St. Nicholas) but I cannot say I am in them now, don't see them arising anytime soon, and, indeed, am not even sure what they would be.

I hope this post has further elucidated my thoughts on the Santa argument which seems to be a bit of a hot topic in some areas. I would certainly respect other parent's making any of the three options above and I would likewise expect them to respect our choice. As I said above, I'm certainly open to comments or discussion on the subject, but I am not sure how much more I can say on the subject. If anyone should choose to comment, please remember to be respectful. To not be so would not only be rude, it would hurt any argument you would make. God Bless and Blessed Advent!

Since when is being a flirt a good thing?

I am certainly open to comments on this, but I am wondering when and where it became a compliment to refer to someone as a flirt?

Last night, James, Cecilia and I went to dinner with Cecilia's Godparents, Kristen and Andy. We went to a local, family run restaurant - a very nice quaint place. Cecilia, true to herself, from her high chair began waving and smiling at anyone and everyone within range. She loves to wave at people - at Church, any store, and yes, in restaurants as well and she loves when they wave back.

Well, she waved at 3 or 4 tables near us and most people simply waved back and smiled. A couple asked how old she was and what her name was. She simply likes interacting with people and is a very friendly baby provided no one tries to hold her.

One man, at one table with another woman who I assumed to be his wife and two young girls (about 12 and 14) I assumed to be his daughters, to whom she waved and smiled responded by waving back and pointing back in what seemed to be a very friendly manner. And then he began to call her a flirt and tell me that my daughter was "a little flirt." Now he may very well have simply meant to be cute or funny, but I must say I took offense. Not only is the sheer idea of a girl as little as she is flirting with a grown man with his wife and daughters disturbing, but it is hardly a compliment in my book to tell me my daughter is a flirt. If anyone told me that about my teenage daughter and I found it to be true she and I would have to have a little talk.

Perhaps I am simply old-fashioned but I was neither amused nor flattered by such a comment.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Santa Question

As Christmas approaches James and I have discussed at length the question of whether or not to tell Cecilia there is a Santa Claus, North Pole, flying Reindeer, elves, etc.

The brief answer is no, we are not going to pretend there is a Santa, for Cecilia or any of our children.

Here are our reasons why...

Saint Nicholas was a 4th century bishop who was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so they could marry. His feast day is December 6th. St. Nicholas became the origin for the myth that flourished in the form of a jolly and generous red-suited and white-bearded man who gave gifts in celebration of the Incarnation, that is, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I must say, not a bad foundation for such a myth. Basically though, Santa became a symbol for the charitable joy we all should demonstrate at the birth of our Savior. It is for this reason, that we have nothing whatsoever against the myth of Santa in and of itself.


We cannot ignore the violent assault waged against Christ and his birth at Christmas by the ACLU, retailers and many politicians who want to makes millions of dollars in Christmas sales and have "holiday" parties but make it illegal to have a nativity within public view. Meanwhile, it has become socially acceptable to replace the nativity with a Santa Claus as a Christian symbol of Christmas making Santa not a heart-warming symbol of the spirit of Christmas but rather a replacement for the whole reason for Christmas - Jesus Christ.

Hence, while we both enjoy Bing Crosby's Santa Claus is Coming to Town and I enjoy wearing a Santa hat, since outside our home there is little we can do to stop the deletion of Christ from Christmas and the obsession with Santa as a replacement for Jesus, we intend to keep our home Christ-centered throughout Advent and the Christmas season and this means Cecilia and any brothers or sisters she may have will grow up knowing Santa Claus as no more than a warm-hearted symbol for the generous giving of God in his gift of his only Son on Christmas Day.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tepeyac Center Award

You may recall Cecilia was delivered by the doctors of the Tepeyac Center. There recently was an article in the Arlington Catholic Herald about them and their fundraising Gala. You can read the whole thing here:

Here is one exceptionally nice snippit (recall Susan Torres was the young woman who entered a coma but her family and doctors kept her alive to try to save her unborn daughter. James and I also worked with her and her husband at UD):

The emotional highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Susan M. Torres Award. This award is given to a TFC patient “who has lived out the Gospel of Life and mystery of suffering in her own medical experience.” The award is named in honor of Susan M. Torres, a young mother who died while comatose in 2005 as she attempted to bring her child to viability.
Anderson presented this year’s award to Kirstin and Matt Page of Olney, Md.
“The medical staff of TFC unanimously chose Kirstin for this award because of her courageous fight for the life of her child against insurmountable odds,” Anderson said.
“At 13 weeks of pregnancy, Kirstin prematurely ruptured her membranes and lost her amniotic fluid. She failed to reseal and continued to leak throughout the rest of her pregnancy.
“Since very few babies survive this grave medical condition, several doctors recommended abortion,” Anderson said. “One even wrote in her medical record that her child had a ‘zero percent chance of viability.’”
But the Pages never gave up hope. Instead, they came to TFC where the staff carefully watched Kirstin for signs of infection and hospitalized her for the last five weeks of her pregnancy.
The birth of Joseph Page on Oct. 2 was truly a “one in a million medical phenomenon,” Anderson said. “He took a breath of air into lungs that were not expected to develop and let out his first cry.” Joseph is almost six weeks old now and is expected to go home from the hospital next week.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

By the Light of the Moon

Well, I finished Koontz's By the Light of the Moon. I must say overall I did not like it and do not recommend it. It had some good themes and points but overall was just too bazaar and seemed random at parts. Here was my favorite part though:

"I love the natural world, it's what I paint. You see perfection everywhere in nature. The perfect efficiency of bees in the hive. The perfect organization of an anthill, a termite colony. But what makes humanity beautiful is our free will, our infividuality, our endless striving in spite of our imperfection."
"Beautiful...and terrifying," she suggested.
"Oh, it's a tragic beauty, all right, but that's what makes it so different from the beauty of nature, and in its own way precious. There's no tragedy in nature, only process--and therefore no triumph, either."

There are a few moments like this in the book, this being my favorite, but I just think the plot is too chaotic and wierd such that, in the end, I only really cared about one of the characters - Shepherd, the autistic one.

Anyway, I'm moving on to St. Catherine of Siena's Dialogue, which I must say so far is wonderful and fascinating. It is written as a dialogue between "she" (St. Catherine refers to herself in 3rd person) and God the Father.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Well, a couple of weeks ago I saw a Biography on Linda Blair, which made me curious about the book The Exorcist. So I read it. Then I rewatched the film. The film is pleasantly very close to the book. Having read a few books on exorcism, I'm not sure how accurate the work of fiction would be of an actual exorcism, but it has other points to make. Not the least of these points seems to be how for many modern people, it is easier to believe that a person could have a form of schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder (about which the book claims doctors know almost nothing about) along with hysteria exhibiting evidence of guilt-driven self-punishment, hallucinations, ESP, telekensis (moving things with only the mind) and super human strength all rolled into one individual rather than the possibility that a demon could possess a person. I don't know why the first option with its many questions, would be easier to believe, but I don't doubt for many it would.

I am on to new books. I'm speedily working through a Dean Koontz book titled By the Light of the Moon. So far it is okay. I enjoyed my only previous reading of his work, The Face, much more I think, but I'll hold final opinions until I finish the book, which I expect to be within the next week as I am already half way through it. Upon completion I will then dive into St. Catherine's Dialogue for something a bit brighter.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Signs of the Times

Today at lunch the waitress was admiring Cecilia and asked if she was my first child. Then she turned to James and asked him if he was her first as well.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

My thoughts on N. Korea, Iran, etc.

The Wolves and the Sheep

After the Wolves and Sheep had been at war
Some thousand years, or maybe more,
At last on terms of peace they hit
By which both parties seemed to benefit;
For if the Wolves ate each stray sheep they found,
Each Shepherd in a slain wolf's skin was gown'd;
And neither side could seek their diet,
Of grass or flesh, in peace and quiet,
Or of their goods have any calm fruition,
So peace was signed and hostages exchanged,
The Sheep-dogs for the Cubs; the whole arranged
By an Extraordinary High Commission
In strict accordance with tradition.
As time went on, the Whelps grew large and bold,
Each one by now a full-sized glutton
With a developed taste for mutton;
And when one day the Shepherds left the fold,
Choosing their moment with exactitude
In privy concert with their sires and dams,
They throttled half the fattest Lambs,
And bore them 'twixt their jaws into the wood.
Meanwhile the old Wolves fell upon the Dogs,
Who in their blind trust lay asleep like logs,
And scuppered the whole pack in one eye-twinkling:
All were mincemeat before they had an inkling.

Compound not with the wicked - there's my moral.
With such, the wise man has a truceless quarrel.
Peace in itself is a good thing, I know,
But not with a perfidious foe.

By Jean de la Fontaine

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Whistle Down the Wind

Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the music for a musical called Whistle Down the Wind. I have never seen it. It is actually one of the six shows of his I have not seen. (He has composed 16.) I am quite familiar with its soundtrack however and was curious about the book it was based on, Whistle Down the Wind by Mary Hayley Bell. Mary Hayley Bell is actually the mother of the well-known Hayley Mills. My mom bought a copy for me as they are not easy to find. It is actually a hard cover first edition. I'm going to see if I can get someone to remove the crayon marks and typical wear from library usage.

It is only 175 pages and is basically a children's book. I would not say it is for small children as the narrator likes to use the word "hell" a number of times but perhaps a 10 year old or so would enjoy it.

It is simply a story of a group of children, three primary ones strangely named Swallow, Brat and Poor Baby (they are all really named after birds with Swallow being the only one to use her birth name), who find a strange man and they believe him to be Jesus. With a high fever, the man says the name "Jesus" when asked who he is while looking around the barn. He bears a hole through each foot and even quotes the bible. The children are convinced that he has returned to earth and they must care for him. It is soon discovered that all the adults are on the lookout for a convicted felon who is on the run and, as an adult reader, it becomes obvious that the man is in fact the convict. But through the man's kindness, the children still believe him to be Jesus.

In the end, it really doesn't matter that he most likely is not, in fact, Jesus. There is more than one moral to the story. First, every life must always have purpose and the greatest purpose is in caring for each other. Second, with the faith of a child we can see Jesus in others. Third, you have to have faith - faith in miracles, faith in the impossible, faith in each other - and hope in God.

It is a children's story every child and adult should read. (Now if only one could find a copy!)

Monday, October 09, 2006


Well, I had made two cakes for our Church's Fall Festival weekend. It has been a while since I baked and I missed it but dieting doesn't allow a whole lot of room for baked goods, especially when there are only two of you to eat it. So our Church's festival provided an opportunity for me to have some fun without having to eat it! Here is one of my cakes (the other's picture had trouble showing up, but it was the same thing but chocolate):

Why the Bumble Bee? Our Church's name is a saint that begins with the letter B, so it is often referred to as St. B's. In fact the icon often used for it is a bumble bee. The candycorn just seemed like a fun idea.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Never Broadcast Christianity

As you may or may not know, we have been fans of Veggietales for quite some time. And as I play them for Cecilia, she is growing quite fond of them herself. She will actually bounce up and down when she sees their theme song come on. Veggietales believe:
The same media, used responsibly, can have an equally positive impact
The best way to improve people's lives is to promote biblical values and encourage spiritual growth

Our Core Values:
Personal and corporate integrity
Creative excellence and design innovation in all we do
The prioritization of people over products and profits

Our Core Purpose:
To markedly enhance the moral and spiritual fabric of our society through creative media
At the end of the summer, it became known that the fun, funny and loveable veggies would be airing on NBC. However, they are being aired without their references to God. NBC required that the dreaded "G-word" be removed in order for the shows to be aired. They also refuse to air the Bible verse always found at the end of every episode. NBC claims this is so as not to offend viewers.

And yet...

NBC did not hesitate to air a segment on their Saturday Night Live spoofing Veggietales where a cucumber dressed as a priest resigns as he admits to molesting several gerkins. Of course that wouldn't offend anyone right? Everyone would just think that was funny right? Seems to me NBC should be renamed to stand for the Never Broadcast Christianity channel!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Open Cold Season

Well, James came down with a nasty cold last Monday. Thursday night it hit me. I spent yesterday feeling like Cecilia was sitting on my head and my chest at the same time. Ugh. Our hope at this point is that Cecilia won't get it or if she does, she gets a milder form. So far the most we have noticed is a slight congestion in her nose when she is breathing at night but nothing more than that and she is as happy as usual. This is the first time I've been sick this year. Hopefully it will pass swiftly for all of us, but I was hoping Cecilia wouldn't get her first cold until after she was a year old.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

If Jesus Came to Your Local Sports Arena

Cecilia and I went to mass this morning and I had to wonder something as I looked at the people there for mass.

If it was announced that Jesus would be coming to your local sports arena and making a personal appearance there. Tickets were completely free and seating was on a first come first serve basis. Given this scenerio, and if you were to come, would you opt to sit in the nose-bleed seats?!?! So, why at mass do so many people choose to sit in the back or the corners or so far away from the altar when there are plenty of open seats near to the front and Jesus Himself will be there? I know I'd want to be as close as possible and do sit half-way up the pews even though I know I will probably end up having to get up and walk Cecilia around the back of the Church for a while.

I suppose the same scenerio would also give rise to the question of why more people aren't at daily mass, but there could be many reasons for that so I'm not going to go there.

It just seems to me that if people really reflected on what happened at mass a lot more of them would sit a lot closer.

Monday, October 02, 2006

The Weekend

Well, James, Cecilia and I all went up to New York this weekend. A friend of mine and her husband were baptizing their new baby girl, Therese Marie, and after missing the baby shower I had to go to the Baptism! Overall the trip went quite well. The drive up was smooth with Cecilia sleeping 2 1/2 hours of the 4 1/2 hour drive. Unfortunately, having to eat off the NJ turnpike my diet died this weekend, but hopefully I can kick it back into gear this week. But Saturday afternoon Therese and Cecilia had their first play date which mostly consisted of Cecilia trying to pull off Therese's stockings and then eating Cheerios on the floor while Therese nursed and slept but they did get a little time to say "Hello" and hold hands and see each other. Considering Therese is only 6 1/2 weeks old and Cecilia is 8 months (35 weeks), it went quite well.

We did manage to keep Cecilia's bedtime before 9pm both nights (she is used to between 8 and 8:39 so the difference wasn't much). Unfortunately Cecilia's nights did get worse, I think, primarily due to sleeping in strange places and circumstances, etc. The Church was not located in my favorite part of town - the Bronx (I like their zoo but don't care to wander much) - but it was an absolutely beautiful Church with elaborate stained glass, paintings of the saints on the walls and ceiling and a beautiful altar.

The Baptism went well being said in Latin but poor Therese cried almost the whole time. Cecilia felt for her little friend and became quite fussy herself.

The drive home went well in that Cecilia slept through all of New Jersey but in Delaware we ran into slow traffic so it was good we left when we did. It was a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

New Computer

Yipee! I got my new computer last week! A computer that works ... well, ... like a computer! The screen isn't pink and the F key actually types Fs!!! And it hasn't randomly shut down on me!

Friday, September 22, 2006

In Memoriam

One year ago today I lost a dear friend

Sometimes when I am driving I will mistake my jingling keys for his collar

He would have loved our recent Autumn weather and my walks with Cecilia.

Although he left far too soon and before Cecilia was born, he guarded her before birth. He would have loved to play with her now and she would have loved to pet him and grab those soft golden ears.

One year later, I can't forget him and still miss him.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Is EVERYTHING Business now?

I spoke to my mom for a half hour or so this morning. She is doing well. She can walk down a hall and eat but she is still in pain and her stomach is very sensitive.

She recalled to me her transfer from the hospial to the facility where she will receive physical therapy for the next 5 days or so. She could have been transferred by wheelchair to my dad's car and he driven her but it was thought better to have her moved by stretcher and driven by ambulance. In hindsight, the car would probably have been better.

The EMTs were a couple of young men and they brought the stretcher up to her room. She gently shifted herself onto the stretcher and then, without proper care, the young men lifted up the side railings of the stretcher. My mom had not properly centered herself first and the side railing went into her incision. Needless to say, the tears just began falling. Whose wouldn't?

Now, after wheeling her down to the ambulance, she asked them what route they were taking to the facility. Now the quickest and easiest route from the hospital to the facility was to head south and then directly west and it would have been a flat 4 miles taking about 10 minutes. Instead, they drove north, then west passing the facility, then heading south and then east driving 5.5 miles and taking at least 20-30 minutes depending on traffic. My dad left the hospital after the ambulance left with my mom (he went back up stairs to get the rest of her stuff) and he arrived at the facility and was waiting 10 minutes before she got there!

Now, I suppose one could try the excuse that these two young men just had no clue where they were going, but after my mom told them in the ambulance which ways they should take and argued with them about how they were taking the longest route possible, upon arriving, she heard one of them tell the other, "5.5."

Is anything not just a business now? These young men drove the longest possible route (without looking like they were completely lost) with complete disregard for my mom in pain in a bumpy ambulance so they could collect more miles. I suppose it is more disturbing than all the doctors and pharmacutical companies who push every drug on patients regardless of possible negative effects. But I for one find it sick and appauling that these two young men could hear and see my mom in pain in the ambulance while she is telling them to go a shorter route and they go a longer one, causing her more pain, soley so they will get more $$$.

Unfortunately, in a society where unborn children are mercilessly slaughtered, the family degraded and disregarded, and drugs more imporatant than health, we can only expect to see more of this type of behavior where no person is regarded higher than the almighty dollar.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Personal Reflections on Islam

Okay, I know just in typing this I will have many people upset at me but it is something I've wanted to type for a while now.

Everyone has probably heard about the Pope offending Muslims, unintentionally of course.

Now, if someone came up to me and said, "overeating makes you fat," why in the world would I react in rage to their comment by pigging out? It makes no sense unless I am not a human being functioning on a rational level but simply responding on my emotions in a tantrum-like manner to something I did not like.

So, the Pope tries to make the point that religious beliefs are never an excuse for violence and what happens? Muslims react enraged with violence.

Personally I see this as evidence of my personal belief regarding Islam for a while now. Now, let me be clear...

I hope those are clear to avoid misconception. I've known people who were very nice, not terrorists in the slightest, and were indeed proud to be Muslims. I am NOT speaking about them or any like them. However, given history and recent political events, I have come to believe that Islam has a natural tendency to being interpreted and used for evil and recent headlines support my belief.

I find it childishly absurd that Muslims react so violently to any "insult" even if it happens to be true. I've never heard of a people being so sensitive as to throw violent tantrums because someone disagreed with them.

And this is not only true of the fanatical terrorists, either, as the media demonstrates - it is quite a number of Muslims.

I sincerely hope the Pope does not apologize simply because HE DID NOTHING WRONG! He quoted a historical fact for the purpose of demonstrating a personal and Catholic belief - that religion never be used to justify violence.

It would appear that it is a Muslim belief that if anyone says or does anything to offend you, then you are justified in getting angry to the point of burning, exploding, igniting, shooting, etc. until you feel vindicated. And it does not appear that this belief is held only by Osama Bin Laden and his cronies but by a fair amount if not all of the Muslim world. And such a belief is, indeed, evil. Hence my belief that Islam has a natual propensity towards evil.

I don't know about you, but I know which religion I prefer to hold.

Prayer Request

Please keep my mother in your prayers as she recovers from hip surgery. The surgery went well but it will be a long, slow and painful recovery.

Also please keep a friend, C., in prayer as she will be having neck surgery Sept. 27th.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Crapola in a Box

Cecilia and I were walking around the Columbia mall today since it was raining outside and we browsed the KBToystore. I saw a toy that seemed to resemble a toy my brothers and I had when we were young. The one we had was a long rectangular toy with 4 different doors on top and four different devices along the front, one for each door. The devices, when activated either by pushing, turning, flipping, etc., popped open the door on top and a small head of Mickey or Elmo or some other character popped up. The toy I saw today did not have any well-known characters but the idea was the same - four different devices to open four different doors. Curious, I activated all four doors but was surprised when I saw that the four heads that popped up were bobble heads, the springs of which I could see along their "necks." I thought, "geez, my daughter would open each door and make a beeline for heads and pull those things off in no time."

It seems that many of the toys companies push on little children nowadays are basically cheap crap not intended to last very long but always costs too much. I don't mind buying toys, but I at least want them to be of such quality as to last through at least a few children. I'm not saying all modern toys are crapola in a box, but it seems to me that the toy stores push quite number of them.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memoriam

On September 11, 2001, 2996 people were brutally murdered by Islamic fanaticals in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. Please take a moment today to pray for all those who died, all who lost loved ones and the capture and justice of Osama Bin Laden.

May the souls of the faithfully departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sexualizing Six Year Olds!

The Drudge Report had this article linked to their website: Retailers Peddle Padded Bras for Girls.

Upon looking at the story I was disgusted to read that some stores are actually selling PADDED BRAs for girls as young as SIX years old! Now, even if you disregard the plague of pedophilia and child pornography in this world, to allow a child to wear such clothing naturally inclines anyone to regard them more as sexual beings or even sexual objects, including themselves.

When asked about this, one distributor replied:
"The idea of the padding is for girls to be discreet as they develop," a spokeswoman said.

"It is more about hiding what you have got than showing it off. It is certainly not there to make children look like they have breasts."

Since when do 6,7,8,9,or 10 year olds need padding to "hide what they've got?" Furthermore, since when do 6-10 year olds have anything to hide? Target also defended the products.

It amazes me how some adults seem to think the best way to treat children is to completely ignore their childhood and fast forward through any innocence and push them straight into adulthood. Absolutely Shameful!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Dangers of Day Care

I visit a message board occassionally and this morning there was a message that a baby born in August of 2005 had died:

"katie is now in heaven died sept 6th she was the smartest and most beautiful little girl in the world she was a very happy and enegetic baby who had just begun to walk i dont understand why she died i dropped her off at daycare and was called 7 hours later to be told she had stopped breathing she had gone down for a nap to never be awoken im so mad and upset an cant stop crying this was the first time she was in daycare in her life and had only been their for a week and half and never took a bottle well since she was breastfed but they didnt bother checking on her for almost 3-4 hours from what the sheriff said their doing a full investigation i just cant imagine everyday is going to be with out her she is survived by her big brother whos only 2 and 1/2 and mommy"

I can't imagine what Katie's mom is going through. But it is stories like hers and like this one that make me refuse to ever put any child of mine in any day care. I'm not saying accidents can't happen at home or with a child's parent or that SIDS cannot stike at any time or place. But how much more attentive would a parent be to his or her own children rather than a complete stranger who simply gets paid to. For a parent's own child, there is so much more invested than any amount of $$$. A parent invests not only time, money, energy, effort, etc. in his or her own child but also a part of himself or herself. Just as there is no way any day care provider could take the place of a parent to that baby, there is no way any day care provider could care for that child the way its own parent could.

I'm not blaming parents who do use day care. There are circumstances when it may very well be necessary. However, personally, if was merely a matter of dollars and cents, no amount could outweigh the risk of something like this happening to one of my own children. No amount could be worth it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Marriage as Witness

His Holiness on Marriage as Witness:

I think we priests can learn from married couples, from their suffering and sacrifice. Often we think that only celibacy is sacrifice. But in getting to learn the sacrifices of married persons - think of raising children, the problems that arise from that, the fears, the suffering, the ailments, rebelliousness, or just think of the first years of having children, with sleepless nights attending to crying babies - there is much we can learn from their sacrifices, and our own sacrifices.

Together with them we can learn how beautiful it is to mature in suffering and to work for the sake of others. Don Pennazza, you have cited the Vatican Council which affirmed that Matrimony is a sacrament to save others - above all, this means, to save the other, the spouse, husband or wife, but also the children and ultimately, the community. Even we priests are able to mature in our encounters with our married parishioners.

Weekend Six

From Patrick's The Weekender

1. What was the last charity you donated something to? How long ago did you make your last donation?

Actually, ironically enough, it was the Tepeyac Family Center. Last month. (I didn't count our parish church as that is a weekly given.)

2. Describe the worst weather event/national disaster that you experienced firsthand.

Well, I think in terms of an overall event it had to be Hurricane Andrew, but Hurricane Frances was a peach too.

3. Did the experience you just described change you in any way, (or if you've never experienced such an event firsthand, do you think it would change you significantly)?

It taught me how to be properly prepared and handle such events and gave me one more reason I prefer to live further north.

4. Take the quiz: What subjects should you have studied in school?

Your Learning Style: Unconventional and Insightful

You are very intuitive and ingenious. You're attracted to any field of study that lets you break the rules.

You Should Study:

Art history
Comparative religions
Eastern religion

5. Did you actually study or major in any of the courses suggested by the quiz?

Yep, my major as an undergrad was Philosophy. I also took courses in Education, Theology, Art and Architecture.

6. What's your current screen saver? How long have you had it, and what do you like best about it?

It is a simple Windows one that I update monthly that says "Cecilia is 7 Months Old!" and it rotates around.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Washington Post Article on Tepeyac Center

An article appeared in the Washington Post yesterday on medical offices blending health and faith.

The OB/GYN office mentioned in the article, the Tepeyac Family Center, is where my OB/GYN practices. In fact it was Dr. Fisk at Tepeyac who delivered Cecilia.

Here was my letter:

Mr. Stein,

I read your article on and would like to comment. I am a patient of Tepeyac Family Center and greatly enjoyed all my visits there last year and earlier this year during my first pregnancy and have continued to be grateful to them for a wonderful delivery of my daughter last January. But I’d like to explain why I sought them out as my doctors.

Several years ago, when I was away at college, I sought out a local doctor because my throat was bothering me and, due to a history of being very susceptible to strep throat, I wanted to get it checked. Even though I was only going there for a throat ailment, the doctor tried to put me on birth control pills. I declined because I don’t believe in contraception but the doctor persisted on encouraging me to get them. I never went back. A couple of years later I went to a doctor for an illness and the subject came up that I had just gotten engaged. The doctor asked if I was on any contraception and when I said no, she simply said, “well we will get you on some.” Not only did the doctor not ask me if I wanted contraception, she arrogantly assumed I would not want children once I got married. I have even had my endocrinologist, whose only concern should have been my thyroid gland, encourage me to get on the pill.

I would like to point out that while your article mentions the concern that medical centers combining health and faith do not inform the patients of all their options, I have never once had a doctor try to push the pill or some other form of contraception on me and also mention Natural Family Planning. Not once did any of the three doctors I referred to above mention NFP as an option and I have to wonder how many doctors out there do. While I am sorry some patients feel “rubbed the wrong way” or “judged” by such practices as Tepeyac’s, there are, unfortunately, just as many who have felt the same way by doctors who do push contraceptives.

Doctors who encourage patients to take contraception or have abortions believe these things are okay or good. Doctors who don’t pray for or with their patients believe prayer isn’t necessary or doesn’t help. Every doctor practices according to what he or she believes. If a patient believes contraception is a good thing and they want to be on it, they should go to a doctor who believes likewise. I go to a doctor who believes as I do that contraception and abortion are anything but good and it is important that such doctors continue to practice their beliefs for those like me.



Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I've been Blogrolled at Elige Ergo Vitam! Thanks Nate!

Monday Meme and If You Could Meet Five People...

I saw these on Nate's blog and thought they would be fun...

1. Do you do dishes by hand or do you use a dishwasher?

Dishwasher unless they can't handle it.

2. How many people have your cell phone number?

About a dozen, not a whole lot.

3. Do you shower in the morning or at night?

At night. There is no way to do it in the morning with an infant and I like getting into bed clean.

4. Do you ever have a song 'stuck' in your head?

Sometimes. I've even woken up from Cecilia at 3am with a song stuck in my head. (I hated a Pizza Hut commercial for a while because of that!)

5. Do you pay your bills when they arrive, or do you wait until closer to the due date to pay them?

I don't do the bills, James does.

6. Are you obsessive about anything in particular?

I'm obsessive about turn signals and using proper English.

7. What one thing would you say you have a zero tolerance for?

Persistent and continuous Stupidity!

If You Could Meet Five People...

"If you could meet and have a deep conversation with any five people on earth, living or dead, from any time period, who would they be?" (Explaining why is optional).

Name five people from each of the following categories:

Five Saints:

1. St. Michael the Archangel

2. St. Catherine of Siena

3. St. Mary

4. St. Joseph

5. St. Bernadette

Five in the Process of Being Canonized:

1. Pope John Paul II

2. Bishop Fulton Sheen

3. Ven. Pope Pius XII

4. I can't think

5. of any more.

Five Heroes from Your Native Country:

1. Harriet Tubman

2. Abraham Lincoln

3. John and Abigail Adams

4. Thomas Jefferson

5. John Muir

Five Authors/Writers:

1. C.S. Lewis

2. J.R.R. Tolkien

3. Jane Austen

4. William Shakespeare

5. A. A. Milne

Five Celebrities:

1. Celine Dion

2. Billy Joel

3. Sandra Bullock

4. Michael Crawford

5. Mel Gibson

Monday, August 28, 2006

NBC Sensitivity Crashes

If anyone watched the Emmys last night, there was a intro parady of the series Lost which featered a plane crash. NBC decided to air this intro even though there was a tragic plane crash in Kentucky at 6:30 that morning in which 49 out of 50 people died.

Many people are stunned and offended that NBC would be so insensitive to air such a clip on such a day.

Personally I hardly find it surprising. After all, why should it be surprising? When it comes to television, hollywood and the media in general, God is not sacred, religion or Churches are not sacred, human body parts are not respected, unborn children are disregarded, marriage is degraded, ad nauseum. If the fundamentals of life such as marriage, children, faith and sexuality are not respected and regarded with some dignity, why should anyone expect the industry to suddenly regard the deaths of people in a tragic accident with any respect or integrity? Anyone who thinks that this industry such as it has been would find anything beyond the almight $$$ sacred has not been paying attention.

My sincere condolences to all those who lost loved ones in the Kentucky plane crash. God be with you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Benefits of Children

Fanny emailed this to me this was too good not to post...

The Price of Children

The government recently calculated the cost of raising a child from birth to 18 and came up with $160,140 for a middle income family. Talk about sticker shock! That doesn't even touch college tuition.

But $160,140 isn't so bad if you break it down. It translates into:
* $8,896.66 a year,
* $741.38 a month, or
* $171.08 a week.
* That's a mere $24.24 a day!
* Just over a dollar an hour.

Still, you might think the best financial advice is don't have children if you want to be "rich." Actually, it is just the opposite. What do you get for your $160,140?

* Naming rights. First, middle, and last!
* Glimpses of God every day.
* Giggles under the covers every night.
* More love than your heart can hold.
* Butterfly kisses and Velcro hugs.
* Endless wonder over rocks, ants, clouds, and warm cookies.
* A hand to hold, usually covered with jelly or chocolate.
* A partner for blowing bubbles, flying kites
* Someone to laugh yourself silly with, no matter what the boss said or how your stocks performed that day.

For $160,140, you never have to grow up. You get to:
* finger-paint,
* carve pumpkins,
* play hide-and-seek,
* catch lightning bugs, and
* never stop believing in Santa Claus.

You have an excuse to:
* keep reading the Adventures of Piglet and Pooh,
* watching Saturday morning cartoons,
* going to Disney movies, and
* wishing on stars.
* You get to frame rainbows, hearts, and flowers under refrigerator magnets and collect hand prints set in clay for Mother's Day, and cards with backward letters for Father's Day.

For $160,140, there is no greater bang for your buck. You get to be a hero just for:
* retrieving a Frisbee off the garage roof,
* taking the training wheels off a bike,
* removing a splinter,
* filling a wading pool,
* coaxing a wad of gum out of bangs, and coaching a baseball team that never wins but always gets treated to ice cream regardless.

You get a front row seat to history to witness the:
* first step,
* first word,
* first bra,
* first date, and
* first time behind the wheel.

You get to be immortal. You get another branch added to your family tree, and if you're lucky, a long list of limbs in your obituary called grandchildren and great grandchildren. You get an education in psychology, nursing, criminal justice, communications, and human sexuality that no college can match.

In the eyes of a child, you rank right up there under God. You have all the power to heal a boo-boo, scare away the monsters under the bed, patch a broken heart, police a slumber party, ground them forever, and love them without limits, So one day they will, like you, love without counting the cost. That is quite a deal!!!!!!!

Love & enjoy your children & grandchildren. It's priceless!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bush Betrays Pro-Lifers?

Q Thank you very much. Mr. President, some pro-life groups are worried that your choice of FDA Commissioner will approve over the counter sales of Plan B, a pill that, they say, essentially can cause early-term abortions. Do you stand by this choice, and how do you feel about Plan B in general?

THE PRESIDENT: I believe that Plan B ought to be -- ought to require a prescription for minors, is what I believe. And I support Andy's decision.

So what exactly is Plan B?

"Plan B is emergency contraception, a backup method to birth control. It is in the form of two levonorgestrel pills (0.75 mg in each pill) that are taken by mouth after unprotected sex. Levonorgestrel is a synthetic hormone used in birth control pills for over 35 years. Plan B can reduce a woman’s risk of pregnancy when taken as directed if she has had unprotected sex. Plan B contains only progestin, levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone used in birth control pills for over 35 years. It is currently available only by prescription."

So basically it is a contraceptive device. Except.....

"Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation). It may prevent the union of sperm and egg (fertilization). If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb (implantation). If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work."[emphasis mine]

So it isn't quite so simple after all.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Neighbor Update

Well, I regret to say my neighbor continues to confirm my concerns regarding her.

Yesterday she came by asking for $10-20 to buy the children food and snacks for camp. She got government support to buy food for the month last weekend. How in the heck did she go through them all already!?!? She even mentioned she had her mother and sister downstairs, as if to add how many mouths she had to feed.

I told her quite honestly that neither James nor I had any cash on hand. She didn't seem to mind my answer and left. I hate to think so, but I now fear our neighbor is completely incapable of running her household in any way but efficiently.

I did however pick up 10 packages of Ramen Noodles (5 beef flavor and 5 chicken flavor) for a total with tax of $1.05 for the next time she comes by and says she needs money to feed her children.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Valley of the Tramps

James and I took Cecilia to lunch today and wanted to visit a nearby store so Cecilia could get out of her carseat and we could walk a bit (in air conditioning). We decided to go to ToysRUs since we are also browsing toys that might aid her in practicing walking. She already crawls like crazy, pulls herself into a standing position almost anywhere, and even cruises a wee bit.

While we were there we also browsed the Dolls section just to see what was being sold in the area of dolls for future reference. We were mildly amused and thoroughly appauled to discover Barbie has turned into a mother's worst nightmare. There is now the "My Bling Bling" collection by Mattel including Madison, Chelsea, Nolee, and, of course, Barbie. Now in addition to the waist Scarlet O'Hara would envy and feet only larger than my six month old daughter's and a C cup chest, little girls can play with dolls wearing knee-high go-go boots, miniskirts that couldn't fit on your thumb, and tube tops or other such tops that barely cover anything. (Of course none of these dolls wear bras.) Now I suppose I might just be thankful Mattel has not made them anatomically correct yet, but is this the "woman" that we should hope our daughters aspire to?

You know these are not primarily purchased and played with by 16 olds or older. So frighteningly Mattel must believe the market for such a doll to be out there among the younger girls. Perhaps Mattel has been making them like this for years and I just didn't notice.

I would not object to getting my daughter a doll when she is older but it will definately not be along this line.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Repaying Charity with Complaining.

There is a woman who lives in our apartment building about whom I have decided to post. She seems to tell her story to anyone who will listen, so I do not think I am betraying any information to tell some of her background first. She is about 40 with two children, a boy about 12 and a girl about 9. Her husband is in prison and will be for about the next 9 or 10 years. Her mother is older and not well and lives with her sister, who struggles to provide for her 3 children, each from a different father. This woman who lives in our building, I'll refer to her as C, has explained to me that she knew nothing about her husband's previous life/crimes, etc. until after they were married and she struggles to provide for her two children by herself.

James and I have been sympathetic and tried to be charitable towards her. Over a year ago we began letting her use our phone since she couldn't afford one. When she lost her car, we began occassionally giving her rides. She comes by asking for eggs, milk, tomato paste, celery, hotdogs, etc. In fairness, she has given us two of her daughter's infant dresses, one new dress for Cecilia from Target, a package of diapers and a tin of formula (even though Cecilia has never nor will ever get formula). We have never asked her for anything nor expect anything but who could ask for anything from someone who has made it very clear they are in need of help?

This summer she lost her job at UPS. Personally I think her incapability to ever be punctual in my experience could have played into that but she says it was because she had to keep taking off work to take her son to some sort of therapy. She takes him to therapy or something of that sort in order to get his record expunged because he was caught taking a knife to school. She claims he got picked on and brought it simply, and stupidly, to defend himself.

Since she lost her job she has repeatedly come to us asking for food products and rides to places and never fails to retell her situation. I've heard more than once that they have nothing to eat except pancakes (not the simply add water kind I might add but the kind that requires eggs, milk and oil), she can't pay her rent or her phone bill, she needs to buy groceries for her mother, she's so tired of struggling, it's so difficult to raise two kids by herself, etc. Now, I have no doubt it is not easy to raise two children on her own, esp. since she cannot get child support as her husband is in prison. In this regard she has my utmost sympathy and it is for this reason James and I have repeatedly helped her. However, it has gotten to the point where she is repaying our charity by complaining nonstop about her own situation. Yesterday when I drove her and her two children to three different destinations she asked me, "Can you imagine what it is like for me raising two children by myself?" I responded quite honestly that I couldn't, but I have gotten the distinct impression that she is trying to play upon me as a fiddle. She has even told me she had to hide crying from her son after scolding him when he asked her if he could "exercise his skills" (a.k.a. shoplift) at Safeway because he was so angry at not having enough food.

Not three weeks ago when James and I were blessed to sell his old car and she told us they had nothing to eat we gave her $80 so her children could eat (we also gave her about $20 we had on a bus pass so she would use the public transportation to get around). I realize $80 is not much, but there are ways to make it last if you have to. I told her that those Ramen Noodles come in several flavors and were on sale at our nearest grocery store for 10 cents a package. (They are quite good and very filling.) She said she forgot to look for them and was hinting again yesterday for more cash.

There are other inconsistencies and facts that have made us hesitant. Perhaps her son has caused her so much trouble but I must say, even for a 12 year old, he has always been very nice and especially polite whenever I have seen or spoken with him. James and I have come to agreement in instituting a "NO CASH" policy when it comes to her or her children but if there is something in particular in terms of a grocery or something, we will try to help. However I have also said I am much more weary now about letting her into our apartment. She has her own phone again and I'm becoming more weary of allowing anyone in her family near Cecilia or in our apartment.

Perhaps this post is more of a vent than a reflection but I do feel as though our charity and neighborly kindness is being repaid with complaining and almost a nagging of further donation. A dear priest friend of mine told me several years ago that it was a charity to not complain to others. Now of course complaining should not be confused with answering truthfully to personal questions of close friends or family, but if an acqaintance asks me how I am doing I am not about rant about every difficulty or complaint or problem I have to them. There is probably not much they can do about them, only makes them a dumping sight for my difficulties and probably makes me less than a joy to be around. As Christians it is our Christian duty to bring Christ's love to others and whining or complaining to someone who is not at fault and can do little to help is not very Christian. Personally, when it comes to such people, I find it harder to have sympathy to self-proclaimed martyrs. True martyrs let their lives witness for them. They do not need to tell everyone how unfair their life is. And it is in watching such people do their best without complaining that they become admirable and an inspiration to everyone else.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Terrorists and The Devil

There has been a lot of talk and print lately involving terrorists, politics, etc.

It seems to me that if the devil appeared on the earth tomorrow, his agenda would be along the lines of the terrorists: destruction of Jews and Christians by any means possible. After all, if you are the archenemy of God, you'd seek to destroy any and all of God's people. Now, if a giant winged demon by the name of Lucifer did appear on the earth, I personally would have no qualms about trying to destroy him in any way possible. But I am left wondering how many people would debate about the Devil's "civil rights" and not "judging" him and how we should be "tolerant" of diversity and how we should not impose ourselves on him. I can see the headlines already:

"Can Lucifer Aid Mideast Peace?" "U.N. Defends Diversity of Demon" "PETA Demands Protection for New SuperSpecies" ad nauseum.

Or would the world even recognize the Devil if they saw him? Has evil become so undistinguishable in our world of abortion, mass destruction, nuclear missles, contraception, embryonic stem cell research, propogation of homosexual acts, etc. that we have trouble telling when evil rears its horned head?

Let me make this simple. The Devil seeks destruction, suffering, pain, loss and death. The Islamic extremists, a.k.a. "terrorists," seek the destruction of Israel and many nations of the West, the suffering of anyone they deem their enemy, and the loss and death of millions of people. If a person came up to you with a knife, a gun and a grenade and said, "I want you extinct and I will stab you with my knife and if you try to run I will shoot you and if I think you even could survive outside of my reach I will use my grenade to kill us both because killing you means more to me than living," what would you do? What would you say?

Would you try to negotiate for your life? Would you give up your children, your home, your freedom to try to bargain to live? It would be completely pointless to give up anything and everything to someone who desires your death more than his own life. It is similar to a Jewish man in 1940 trying to bargain for his life from Hitler. Bargaining with Hitler didn't help anyone either - it simply delayed the inevitable and cost many more lives in the process.

I argue that, as unpleasant and pessimistic as it sounds, you simply cannot bargain with terrorists, not in money, not in supplies, not in land, not in time, not for lives. Terrorists insist that the rules of the game are kill or be killed. I am tired of hearing about pleas and desires for peace with people who seek only death. The only peace that will come is when such people are no longer able to pursue their agenda of death. Until the murderous destruction of the extremists is completely and permanently extinguished, there will not be peace for there is no peace with the Devil. As Spencer Tracy said in Inherit the Wind, "Fanatacism and ignorance is forever busy and needs feeding," and terrorism will never stop unless the terrorists are snuffed out.

*As a Catholic I am always in understanding with the Church that conversion be the first goal, but seeing as how Bibles are, well, shall we say, scarce to be found in terrorist nations, and terrorists breed their hate from childhood and forbid Christian influence within their circles, barring a miracle, which, by all means everyone can keep praying for, I believe the conversion of terrorists to be an unrealistic pursuit in our times.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Time to Press the Press?

I have despised most of the mainstream media for quite a while now so I was not in the slightest surprised over the recent photography scandal. But it does present a very real problem. The Bill of Rights do not in any way restrict the freedom of the press. And the press seems to profess the freedom to make up "news" and lie and manipulate to their hearts content to sell whatever story they deem best. Now, I will not deny that the media is not a charitable institution but a business and so must consider which stories will sell magazines, newspapers, etc. However, at what point does the media become responsible for being simply honest and admitting that they are no longer reporting facts or possibly even "news?" Are the examples of Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair and now the Reuters photographer simply isolated incidents? Or are they merely the most obvious extentions of the general media's desire to twist stories to their own agenda?

Now this places Americans in a difficult situation. If the media in general is so manipulative and dishonest, how do Americans know what is true and what isn't? How do they know what the reality of a foreign war is? Or what politicians really said? We have all heard so many conflicting reports about what exactly happened in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. What is the truth? How are Americans to think or feel or, perhaps most importantly, vote if anything and everything they are told or read could be a festering pit of lies and twists and spin? And yet under every story is that ever-waving right to freedom of the press. Should there be some legal restrictions that any outlet professing to provide political, legal, or social"news" (no, I don't consider celebrity news "news") never willfully and deliberately manipulate facts or quotes to intentionally deceive the public? Certainly it would not be easy to prove in a court of law. But I'm not a lawyer. That is their problem.

I just find it repulsive that, under the banner of the Bill of Rights, the general media is protected to mislead, manipulate, and deceive the public leaving the public often at the whim of a "journalist's" personal political, religious, or other slant on any set of events.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Horror of Horror Films

I've always enjoyed many of the films that would fall in the "Horror" genre. James and I found a book called Monsters from the Id: The Rise of Horror in Fiction and Film. I admit I haven't read all of it. (I made some good headway in it last year but the pregnancy put me onto other books.) But James has read it and we have discussed its ideas at length. The primary points I'll be using from the book are that the genre of horror began with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as a reaction to the Enlightenment and that the original purpose of horror was to draw the reader/viewer back towards a concept of the supernatural. IOW, human beings do not know everything. Hence horror always had a moral whether it was not to try to "play God" with human life as in Frankenstein or to practice chastity and sobriety as in Halloween.

However, I have noticed a more recent trend (oh say the last 5-10 years) whereupon horror films do not strive to have any moral whatsoever but simply to be the bloodiest, most violent and goriest films. Somehow gory/bloody/violent is supposed to = horror. I admit I have not seen all of them, but Saw, High Tension, Cabin Fever and, my most recently viewed film which spurred this reflection, Hostel all seem to have one simple goal - to be as gory and bloody and violent as possible. And I'm sure there have been others which I have been blessed not to see.
In Hostel there really isn't any innocent character for which to root or feel much sympathy. In fact it is in the survival of a sinful character in which any lack of moral is obvious.

So do such "horror" movies have any redeeming value? I would say no. I can watch Nightmare on Elm Street and plainly see that Freddy does not attack his victim when she has her crucifix on the wall or understand that Jamie Lee Curtis survives the immortal Michael Meyers because she is the virgin and faithful babysitter but it seems modern "horror" films have lost any sense of deeper purpose than spewing as much blood on the screen as possible. According to, Tarantino used 150 gallons of blood in Hostel alone.

I would further argue that such films become an instrument of the devil placing evil images before human eyes with no purpose other than to present such images. And they become images that plague our memory and dull our senses and numb our reality to violence.

The relatively recent plague off such films has left me longing for the older films like The Haunting (the original) and skipping going to the theater.

Just for the record, I still think the scariest film I've ever seen remains The Exorcist. Either version counts, but the more recent version have an extra edge over the first.

CONTINUED: I wanted to add, that I do not hold the position that a film, even a horror film, cannot simply be fun and entertaining, but I further want to add that anyone who is entertained by such films should ask themselves why? What is "fun" or "entertaining" about severed body parts or gallons of blood? I cannot find any appropriate answer to this. Now I can agree that senses of humor may vary and what is enjoyable may be subjective but material such as this can only be entertaining and fun to those who would bask in human suffering and relish in the destruction of human beings.

Am I saying that all who see these movies are evil? Of course not. Most people do not realize the evil propgated by such films. What I am saying is that such films are evil by their nature and, while the evil, common to evil itself, is not obvious to many, it has a natural propensity to cause harm to those who view it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hours of Confession

Today is the feast of St. John Vianney, the patron of priests. St. John Vianney is most known for his many hours spent in the confessional. He used to sit in the confessional hearing confessions each day for 16 hours (and this was before air conditioning)!
At mass this morning our pastor mentioned in passing that it was not easy to sit in the confessional for more than an hour or two and that even his experience of 3-5 hours at a previous assignment could be a challenge.
This made me think of a parish I went to briefly in Dallas called Blessed Sacrament. At the time the pastor was a priest by the name of Fr. Paul Weinberger. I remember when I first went there I was stunned to learned he heard confessions for 16 hours over the course of one week. I had never heard of a modern priest hearing confession so many hours in one week before. I did go to confession there once and the line formed around the inside of the Church. Around the time I left Dallas, this wonderful priest who had been given this parish 10 years prior when it was deep in debt and had managed not only to get rid of all debt but also redecorate the inside of the Church and repave the parking lot was ordered to transfer. Blessed Sacrament was indeed a poor parish of poor people of various and diverse ethnic backgrounds. Fr. Paul unified them all under English, Spanish and Latin masses. He said he wanted to "spoil the poor." But he was transferred to St. William parish quite a ways away from Blessed Sacrament.
I decided to look up his previous parish, still fairly large holding at 2000 and compare the hours available for confession with his new parish, a much smaller 725. The parish that used to be able to fill 16 hours of confession in one week is now only offered 2 hours and 15 minutes of scheduled confession time. And Fr. Paul's new parish of less than half his previous parish has 8 hours and 40 minutes of scheduled confession time.
I have not been to either parish since I left the Dallas area but I have to wonder, it is Fr. Paul that brings so many to confession? Is it simply, if you offer the hours, they will come? I cannot believe the people changed since, being such a poor parish, it is not likely many moved very far. So the question becomes, does the priest make the difference or does the hours make the difference or is it both? I honestly cannot say I know the answer to this but I think they would go hand in hand. The better the priest who encourages frequent confession the more hours he will offer confession and the more parishoners will go to him for confession. So then the question becomes, "What must happen to get more people back in the confessional?"

Book Meme

Book Meme

1. One book that changed your life: The Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska. It was quite a long read since I didn't rush through it. When I began I thought just getting through it should be worth some indulgence. By the end I realized reading all of it was worth much more in itself.

2. One book that you've read more than once: Although there are many books I'd like to read again, there are so always so many I want to read I rarely read the same book twice but I have read The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis more than once now.

3. One book you'd want on a desert island: I'd have to say something regarding survival or raft-building.

4. One book that made you laugh: The Harry Potter Series, by J. K. Rowling

5. One book that made you cry: Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

6. One book that you wish had been written: Mary, the Autobiography.

7. One book that you wish had never been written: The Koran.

8. One book you're currently reading: The Bible, by God. I'm reading it from cover to cover but thus far am only in 2 Samuel.

9. One book you've been meaning to read: A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens