Monday, December 31, 2007

Three Years Ago...

It is funny to think that 3 years ago today I was excited, tense, anxious, nervous and all smiles in seeing friends and family and taking care of last minute preparations for our wedding day. It seems so long ago. Tomorrow, at approx. 1:30pm EST we will have been married 3 years. James and I actually became friends 11 years ago this past week. While I was lamenting having my wisdom teeth removed, college applications and a minor fender bender.

I never would have imagined that in three years we have had two beautiful daughters.

Cecilia is a very active and intelligent 23 month old. She laughs, runs and plays with delight. She is learning words all the time and has begun potty training. She absolutely loves to be read to and loves her fruit and veggies. She will pass up cookies for an apple. She likes to sing and loves her baby sister and likes giving her kisses (I think Felicity gets more than we do). She is a beautiful and happy little girl.

Felicity is only 6 weeks old but already impresses us with her improvements in head control and hearty nursing and long hours sleeping. She smiles and rarely cries. She likes to nap in her swing and loves being held. She, unlike her sister, likes to be swaddled and likes looking at the world around her. She is laid back and generally calm but is eager to be more mobile.

Two people. Two girls. Two human beings that did not exist 3 years ago are alive and well today already making the world a better place. Two children make us smile and laugh and light up our lives as no one ever has. Imagine if they weren't here. I can't. They make life so much more complete and full in a way that no exploded diaper or toppled plate or temper tantrum can undo. Two little blessings we could not imagine our lives without. God has been very good.

Holy Family Homily

I didn't get a homily on the Holy Family or even family yesterday so I was grateful to find Fr. Martin Fox's online. I had to share:


What does your Holy Family look like? (Sunday homily)
This time of year, we all see the Hallmark-Card images
of family that are hard—
no, make that impossible!—to live up to.

So it was with my family, growing up;
probably yours, too, I imagine.
One of the best things I ever did
was to accept the reality of my family’s brokenness,
instead of the ideal that never was.

Speaking of “best things,”
my father says one of the best things he did,
as a husband, was to take mom out for a date
every Saturday night.

This goes with something Pope John Paul the first said:
“Parents begin to educate their children
by their love for each other.”
This is one reason why,
when married people come to confession,
I sometimes give this penance:
“Do something romantic for your spouse.”

But what the pope said calls to mind
something truly amazing:
God, in becoming a true human being,
an infant at Mary’s breast, growing up in a home,
learned about love from Mary and Joseph!

This is the mystery of the Incarnation:
God becoming like us in all things but sin.
He whom all heaven could not contain,
into Mary’s womb came to dwell.
The all-powerful Creator became a defenseless child!
The Ancient of Days learned about human life and love
from watching Joseph and Mary.

And you worry about what you teach your children!

On this Feast of the Holy Family,
let’s acknowledge some things:
Sometimes, in church, we talk so much about married life,
we neglect those who are single,
or those whose marriages ended in deep pain.

We often don’t know what to say.
Well, we could start with, “I’m not going to judge you;
and I do want to welcome you!”

Some people don’t “fit the mold”;
some can’t marry as God and nature define marriage.
It’s not our place to redefine marriage;
but it is certainly our place—indeed,
it’s absolutely our obligation before God—
to embrace everyone without mockery,
without ugliness, as Christ in our midst!

We hold up the Holy Family as an ideal;
but Christ knows well how “dysfunctional”
our families can be.
That’s why he came to be part of our human family!

You and I know about messages in society
and the media that threaten family life.

Let me say this:
Father Tom and Father Ang and I, and this parish—
we want to help!
Please tell us what we can do to help more!

You and I are also painfully aware of family troubles
we don’t like to talk about:
Alcoholism or other addictions;
anger, emotional abuse or physical violence;
depression or other emotional problems.

Yes, Christ took a beating on the Cross;
but he never inflicted such abuse on anyone—
and neither should we!

To make matters worse, some of these issues
aren’t dealt with openly,
but instead become shameful secrets,
wounds that never heal.

Don’t we call this the season of Light?
Christ offers his Light to heal these wounds.
Will we let him?

Christ, who came to carry the Cross
of all our human sinfulness,
will give you courage and walk beside each of us
on our own Way of the Cross. Will we let him?

Our second reading talks about the role
each of us has in our families.

Christ is the child among us—should he witness
parents berating and demeaning each other?

Christ the teenager: we have no idea what music he liked.
But do you think he would have tolerated music
that demeans women and exults violence?

Christ was a worker;
but he did not make work an excuse to neglect his family.

Christ the man saw women as Images of God,
not as servants, or imaginary partners on the Internet.

Christ was strong enough to bite his tongue;
he didn’t need fists or words to prove himself.

Men, are you and I “man enough”
to follow the leadership of Jesus Christ?

And Christ the healer never shamed anyone he met;
not the prostitute, not the tax-collector,
not the leper or the alien.

And he will never shame nor despise any of us
for our sins, our wounds, our secrets…
whatever they may be.

Yes, our families are far from the ideal.
But they, too, can be “holy families.”
Not because they look like a Christmas card,
but because we let Christ bring courage,
and healing, and hope:

Not to the families of our dreams,
but to the real family life we actually have.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Baby-Sitting Disservice at Mass

Our parish offers a baby-sitting service during mass on Sunday. It has been advertised in the bulletin and encouraged by our pastor. Now, this is not the children's liturgy where children sit with their parents through most of mass and leave only for the readings and homily. For the baby-sitting service, parents drop their children off at a separate room under the rectory, go to mass, and pick up their children after mass.

Now, I'm not condemning parents who use this service - after all, our pastor has been encouraging parents to use it, so they may not have a second thought about it.

However, James and I have a grave objection to the so-called "service." Since the parents go to mass, it is safe to assume, if not all, at least the vast majority of these children are baptized. And at their baptism their parents promised to raise their children in the Roman Catholic faith and doing this means attending mass. The only exemptions I know of from going to mass are for health reasons or if one is truly incapable of getting to one. There is no exemption for age. Even if they are too young to understand the mass, that does not mean they do not benefit from attending mass, hearing the hymns, seeing others pray, or receiving grace from simply being in the presence of Christ. This "service" is not only a disservice to the children but is in fact the breaking of the promise their parents made at their baptism!

As for why a priest would encourage this disservice and breaking of a promise made to God, my only hope is that he does not realize what he himself is doing.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Atheistic Hypocracy

The website of the Connecticut Valley Atheists reads:

"The mission of Connecticut Valley Atheists is to promote to the public a positive perception of Atheists and Atheism. CVA intends to accomplish this through community activities, charitable works, and sponsorship of educational events which demonstrate that Atheism is an ethical and meaningful way of life. We intend to seek out and encourage like-minded people to join us and contribute to our efforts."

Yet they have erected a sign under the pretense of celebrating the winter solstice with a picture of the World Trade Center Towers and the words "IMAGINE NO RELIGION." I say, "under the pretense" because since when did celebrating the winter solstice necessitate the absence of religion? It doesn't. And when was the sign erected? On December 1st - the day before the First Sunday of Advent. And this is supposed to promote a "positive perception of Atheists and Atheism"??? Spare me. If someone wants to be an atheist, I recognize their free will to do so but don't put up public displays against religion for the Advent and Christmas seasons and claim you just want to encourage a positive perception of yourselves because such an excuse makes no sense.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Favorite Passages from Spe Salvi

4.When the Letter to the Hebrews says that Christians here on earth do not have a permanent homeland, but seek one which lies in the future (cf. Heb 11:13-16; Phil 3:20), this does not mean for one moment that they live only for the future: present society is recognized by Christians as an exile; they belong to a new society which is the goal of their common pilgrimage and which is anticipated in the course of that pilgrimage.

23.There is no doubt, therefore, that a “Kingdom of God” accomplished without God—a kingdom therefore of man alone—inevitably ends up as the “perverse end” of all things...

28.Our relationship with God is established through communion with Jesus—we cannot achieve it alone or from our own resources alone. The relationship with Jesus, however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as a ransom for all (cf. 1 Tim 2:6). Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into his “being for all”; it makes it our own way of being. He commits us to live for others, but only through communion with him does it become possible truly to be there for others, for the whole.

32.When no one listens to me any more, God still listens to me. When I can no longer talk to anyone or call upon anyone, I can always talk to God. When there is no longer anyone to help me deal with a need or expectation that goes beyond the human capacity for hope, he can help me[25]. When I have been plunged into complete solitude ...; if I pray I am never totally alone.

33.Man was created for greatness—for God himself; he was created to be filled by God. But his heart is too small for the greatness to which it is destined. It must be stretched. ... To pray is not to step outside history and withdraw to our own private corner of happiness. When we pray properly we undergo a process of inner purification which opens us up to God and thus to our fellow human beings as well.

34. For prayer to develop this power of purification, it must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter between my intimate self and God, the living God. On the other hand it must be constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the Church and of the saints, by liturgical prayer, in which the Lord teaches us again and again how to pray properly. ... We become capable of the great hope, and thus we become ministers of hope for others. Hope in a Christian sense is always hope for others as well. It is an active hope, in which we struggle to prevent things moving towards the “perverse end”. It is an active hope also in the sense that we keep the world open to God. Only in this way does it continue to be a truly human hope.

35.Only the great certitude of hope that my own life and history in general, despite all failures, are held firm by the indestructible power of Love, and that this gives them their meaning and importance, only this kind of hope can then give the courage to act and to persevere. Certainly we cannot “build” the Kingdom of God by our own efforts—what we build will always be the kingdom of man with all the limitations proper to our human nature. The Kingdom of God is a gift, and precisely because of this, it is great and beautiful, and constitutes the response to our hope.

37.It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love.

39.Let us say it once again: the capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity. Yet this capacity to suffer depends on the type and extent of the hope that we bear within us and build upon.

42.A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope.No one and nothing can answer for centuries of suffering.

43.God now reveals his true face in the figure of the sufferer who shares man's God-forsaken condition by taking it upon himself. This innocent sufferer has attained the certitude of hope: there is a God, and God can create justice in a way that we cannot conceive, yet we can begin to grasp it through faith. Yes, there is a resurrection of the flesh[33]. There is justice[34]. There is an “undoing” of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright. ... The purely individual need for a fulfilment that is denied to us in this life, for an everlasting love that we await, is certainly an important motive for believing that man was made for eternity; but only in connection with the impossibility that the injustice of history should be the final word does the necessity for Christ's return and for new life become fully convincing.

44. The image of the Last Judgement is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope; for us it may even be the decisive image of hope. ... God is justice and creates justice. This is our consolation and our hope. And in his justice there is also grace. This we know by turning our gaze to the crucified and risen Christ. Both these things—justice and grace—must be seen in their correct inner relationship. Grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on earth ends up being of equal value.

47.The judgement of God is hope, both because it is justice and because it is grace. If it were merely grace, making all earthly things cease to matter, God would still owe us an answer to the question about justice—the crucial question that we ask of history and of God. If it were merely justice, in the end it could bring only fear to us all. The incarnation of God in Christ has so closely linked the two together—judgement and grace—that justice is firmly established: we all work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). Nevertheless grace allows us all to hope, and to go trustfully to meet the Judge whom we know as our “advocate”, or parakletos (cf. 1 Jn 2:1).

49.The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

God Knew What He Was Doing

I frequent a few message boards including Catholics ones and ones for moms who were/are pregnant and with small children. One of the hotter topics on the latter pertains to optional medical intervention to bring about labor and delivery before it would otherwise naturally come about. This would include unnecessary c-sections, breaking the bag of waters and using drugs such as pitocin,cervidil, etc.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I understand there are certainly times when a c-section is necessary or drugs are needed to speed along labor and delivery like when an unborn baby's heartrate drops and does not rebound or when mom's blood pressure goes through the roof. Obviously those are things that should not happen simply to give birth.

But I have been in awe of the number of women choosing to have their labor induced or have a c-section simply because they want their baby born on a specific day or because they are tired of the inconvenience of being pregnant. Certainly pregnancy is not all ease and comfort and that last month is generally far from it. But it seems like nowadays there is no sense of the natural order of things. Pregnancy is not a disease. Labor and childbirth are natural processes. "Full-term" is anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks. Some women are scared into induction by medical professionals though ultrasounds. They will be told at 36 weeks that their baby is measuring 7 1/2 pounds and if they go full term they will have huge babies and no one tells them that those late ultrasounds can be off by 1-2 pounds! I've even heard doctors pushing inductions because "no one wants to be in the hospital on (such-and-such) holiday" which really translates into "I don't want to have to deliver you on a holiday."

And of course most of these women do not realize that, like almost all medical interventions, there are risks involved - determined or undetermined - they opt for risks that they might not have even had to worry about.

Where has our respect for nature gone? You'd think with all the talk about being green and driving hybrids and eating organic and saving the planet, people would be MORE aware of nature and the natural order and yet it seems to be the opposite. God knew what he was doing and the baby won't stay in forever. Moms and dads and God chose when the baby got in there. God and the baby should choose when he/she comes out.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Birthing Ball

One thing I had to say about my first natural birth experience...

I felt a little odd buying one of those large birthing balls. I mean, I imagine myself on one and think I will look like an idiot. I also wasn't quite sure how it could make a difference or why it would be a big deal.

I must say in that last hour and a half or so before my water broke and before I went to the hospital I couldn't believe the difference it made. I mean it wasn't like I didn't feel anything but the contractions were not as sharp and easier to manage. I keep joking with DH I am going to name my birthing ball! I also can't help but wonder if it helped facilitate things as, only an hour and a half or so after I first began using it for the contractions my water broke and I was rushing to the hospital shortly afterwards.

I can't say that everyone should get one and all will be roses and sunshine, but from my experience I am so happy I got one and will be saving it for every subsequent pregnancy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Our Birth Story

For the birth story of Felicity, please click on the link to the left of The Journey of a New Life (I haven't changed the title to the link on my page yet, but it is there.)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We've Moved!

In mid-September we relocated ... about 3 1/2 miles from where we used to live, but a different city. We upgraded from an apartment to a townhouse we are now renting. It is cheaper than if we had renewed the lease at the apartment and yet gives us more space including and extra room, two extra half baths and a garage not to mention a deck and a backyard. The deck needs to be sanded and stained and the back yard fixed up a bit, but we are working on it. Our kitchen was upgraded to a fridge/freezer only 2 years old instead of 20, a dish washer that doesn't leak, a stove with burners that work and can even boil water in less than an hour and a double oven.

Cecilia has her own room now and sleeps in her own bed every night. She makes us read a few of her bedtime books repeatedly and then lays down on her baby pillow and sleeps in her own bed through the night. She shares a Finding Nemo and fish themed bathroom with grandpa.

We are almost done unpacking and setting up everything having gotten cable and internet service yesterday. We will try to get some pictures up once everything is clean and organized.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Which would you prefer?

This morning James watched Cecilia while I went to daily mass. (I love going to mass with Cecilia, but I'm lucky if I catch the readings no less the homily she keeps me so busy, so it was a nice treat to be able to focus...or try.) There were several small children at mass this morning and two pairs of them caught my attention.

One mom was seated directly behind me with two children, about 4 and 2 years old. They were quite noisy and not a little distracting but throughout the entire mass the mother tried to keep them quiet and was constantly trying to keep them focused on what was going on. She told them that bread and wine were being brought up to the altar and directed their attention to Jesus during the consecration. Coming back from communion I heard her say, "Okay, it's time to say our prayer to Jesus."

The other mom was seated about 2 pews ahead of me and one aisle over. She had about a 4 year old son and a daughter between 1 and 1 1/2 years old. They were almost completely quiet the entire mass. The little boy had a toy and both children ate pop tarts the whole time.

While certainly one set of children were more quiet, I had to prefer the mom behind me. Even though her children were more distracting, they were not there to eat or play but learn and be involved with the Mass. Isn't that why all of us go to Mass?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Why is it?

Recently we netflixed a movie called Savannah Smiles. It was a movie I loved when I was little and wanted to revisit and also wanted James to see. It is a little unrealistic and corny but I still love it.

It is about a little girl, about six years old, who is neglected by her wealthy and busy parents (her father is running for the state senate). She has a nanny who puts her to bed, she eats breakfast by herself and is left behind when her parents go on skiing trips. Watching Little Rascals, she gets the idea that running away would teach her parents a lesson. So she packs a suitcase and, during an outing with friends, sneaks away and hides in a run down old car that turns out to be stolen by two petty crooks named Alvie and Bootsy. Because they are fugitives, they are unable to simply return her and when they find out there is a $100,000 reqard for her safe return, hitting the jackpot becomes too good to be true.

I'll stop there for anyone who wants to see it but it is a wonderful story. Bridget Anderson, who plays Savannah, is wonderfully adorable. The story bears themes of conversion and redemption and the imporance of spending time with and knowing your children and how precious they really are.

The title song (I so wish they would release a soundtrack to this movie) begins with these lyrics:
"When Savannah smiles, I hear someone saying, 'hey, loser, you just won.' When Savannah smiles those grey clouds start to prayin', 'bring on the sun'. Music, sweet music, lifts my soul, sets it free. Everything is fine every single time Savannah smiles at me. Oh, smile Savannah, just one more time for me."
The song goes on to describe how just one of this little girl's smiles removes any pain or sadness or struggle and how much just a little smile from a child can do. And it got me thinking...

Why is it that no matter how tired I am and how many times Cecilia wakes up during the night, I can't sleep in another room without missing her like crazy?

Why is it that no matter how many tantrums she throws and whimpers for pity she dishes out, one hug makes it all disappear?

Why is it that no matter how much food she gets on her clothes and her chair and in her hair and on the floor or how many times I have to tell her not to throw her juice cup, whenever she says she is, "Done!" I can't help but smile?

Why is it that no matter how many news stories I see about terrorism or crooked politicians or senseless violence or anti-Catholic bigotry, she can wrap her arms around my neck with a hug and make the whole world disappear in a brightness of warmth and joy?

It is amazing, isn't it? Why is it?

Because it is through our children that it is easiest to see the face of God.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Message Board Comments

I won't be too specific, but occassionally I visit message boards for women who are pregnant and due around the same time I am. Today one woman posted that, at 22 weeks, the doctors discovered her unborn baby boy had the severest case of Spina Bifida they had ever seen and the "only option" was to terminate.

As I had to look it up, "Spina bifida is the most common disabling birth defect in the United States. It is a type of neural tube defect, which is a problem with the spinal cord or its coverings. It happens if the fetal spinal column doesn't close completely during the first month of pregnancy. There is usually nerve damage that causes at least some paralysis of the legs. Many people with spina bifida will need assistive devices such as braces, crutches or wheelchairs. They may have learning difficulties, urinary and bowel problems or hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain.
There is no cure. Treatments focus on the complications, and can include surgery, medicine and physiotherapy."

The woman on the message board and her husband decided to terminate the pregnancy and hope they will one day have children.

Now, first of all, I am very sorry that their son was diagnosed with such a birth defect. Any such discovery is quite trying on any parent.

That said, I quite simply cannot feel sorry for their loss and feel they do not deserve to be parents. They killed their child. Plain and simple. The child was not dying nor did he have a fatal disease. He had a birth defect that would require special care and treatment. According to the Spina Bifida Association, "The effects of Spina Bifida are different for every person. Up to 90 percent of children with the worst form of Spina Bifida have hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain) and must have surgery to insert a “shunt” that helps drain the fluid—the shunt stays in place for the lifetime of the person. Other conditions include full or partial paralysis, bladder and bowel control difficulties, learning disabilities, depression, latex allergy and social and sexual issues. Thanks to new medical treatments and technology, most people born with Spina Bifida can expect to live a normal life. People with Spina Bifida have many special challenges because of their birth defect, but their condition does not define who they are. People with Spina Bifida have careers, get married and have children just like people who don’t have Spina Bifida."

So simply because their child would have required special care, they killed him. All the replies on the message board were sympathy for their loss. I can't feel sorry for a murderer.

I would further add that I think the lack of humility of the doctors involved is quite disgusting. The "ONLY OPTION" is termination? What about the option of raising a challenging child? What about the option of loving their son? What about the option of having that little boy wrap his little arms around their necks and say, "I love you." They threw all that and more away because of a birth defect and they want me to feel sorry for them? No can do.

I didn't feel I could post this on the message board as it would be classified as "harsh," "unsupportive," and "insensitive." If that is how someone views my comments, feel free, but just consider how harsh, unsupportive and insensitive they were to their son who needed their love, support and care so much more.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The 10 Commandments of Motorists

Drivers' "Ten Commandments"

61. In any case, with the request for motorists to exercise virtue, we have drawn up a special "decalogue" for them, in analogy with the Lord's Ten Commandments. These are stated here below, as indications, considering that they may also be formulated differently.

I. You shall not kill.

II. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

III. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

IV. Be charitable and help your neighbour in need, especially victims of accidents.

V. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

VI. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

VII. Support the families of accident victims.

VIII. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

IX. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

X. Feel responsible towards others.

Friday, June 01, 2007

And the Rain, Rain, Rain came Down, Down, Down...

Around 11:30pm on Tuesday night, James heard a strange noise coming from our kitchen. He was not thrilled to discover periodic dripping coming from the wall behind our cabinets onto the counter that extends into our dining room. He woke me and we cleared off the counter. Fortunately nothing was damaged as we had papers and a few books there. We called emergency maintenance and around 12:15am he came and, as no one was living upstairs, he turned off the water to the apartment above us. Within a half hour the water had stopped and James and I were asleep.

We got up around 7am Wednesday morning (rather nice as Cecilia let us sleep in an hour) only to discover a constant drip in the walkway between our living room and dining room. Fortunately it was near the middle such that the only thing getting wet was the carpet and nothing was damaged, but we did relocate my computer, some of Cecilia's toys, etc. to prevent damage. In order to figure out what was wrong, the maintenance man had to rip two large holes in the ceiling. (see picture below.) It turned out it was leftover runnoff from the previous leak that had settled over that spot at the seam of the drywall.

Fortunately the man came to repair the drywall and we no longer have a holey ceiling! Geez. Ugh.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Extra! Extra!

Well, we had decided not to tell people in general until we were through the first part. But we can now "let the cat out of the bag." We are pregnant. Cecilia is going to be a big sister. We are all very excited!

We heard a healthy heart beat this morning so all seems to be going well!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On the Road Again....

Two weeks ago we made a drive up to New York City for a few days meeting family there. Of course we couldn't help buying a few new and good quality toys for Cecilia from FAO Shwartz and we visited the World of Disney in the hopes she could see Mickey or Minnie there but the only character they had out was Cinderella and she doesn't really know her.

My highlight was visiting the J.P. Morgan Library, which I've wanted to see for a few years now but they had during previous visits been renovating. I could have spent hours browsing the library and study - so many books and so little time! Cecilia is not even 16 months old and though she doesn't know it, she has already seen a Gutenberg Bible and original sketches by Bramante of St. Peter's. She mostly just wanted to run around the rooms though. It was quite fascinating and well worth the wait. They also have other wonderful exhibits like original documents from Shakespeare, Beethoven and Mozart but as they share their collection with other libraries and were still working on the upper and lower floors, we were unable to see those.

The Florida trip of last weekend, which you can read about Cecilia's return trip on her website, began well with good timing which was a greater blessing than we had realized as we got a flat tire outside Vero Beach. Cecilia sat quietly watching her video as we changed the tire to the spare along the side of I95 with cars and trucks going by at 75 and 80 miles an hour - talk about unnerving.

My brother's graduation went well though Cecilia wasn't fond of it - she found it too long, too crowded and far too noisy (some people brought blowhorns) though she did like the beach balls the students repeatedly tried to get into a volley without success. But she did see him receive the award for Fine/Performing Arts and see him get his diploma. The party afterwards went well for her as she loved all the fruit and veggies out to snack on. Cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes, tortilla chips - you name it and she was onto it - except the strawberries, she still doesn't seem fond of them. We alternated letting her wander the party where we had to follow her everywhere to make sure we didn't get into trouble and retreating to a private room that was at least partially baby-proofed allowing us a break and her some space to herself. We tried to minimize her time outside as it got warm quickly and she would begin sweating and we had to watch her like a hawk around the pool. She absolutely loved all the "Congratulations Graduate" balloons around the house though. She even collected three and brought them back to "her" room.

Cecilia absolutely loved my brother's dogs - two Shelties named Andy and Alicia. At first she was scared of them as they moved very quickly. Then she gained confidence and began chasing them as they fled - all around the house! Eventually Andy developed some courage himself and would walk right up to her and put his nose in her face (I think that began the moment he realized she might be carrying cookies or some other food). Alicia remained a coward until the very end, but she is by definition an adorably sweet courage and intellect-challeneged dog. I think by the end though Andy and Cecilia had an understanding as he would let her catch him and pet him and she would throw food from her high chair for him to get. What are you gonna do?

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Our Wedding Picture..., well, one of them.

Someone requested to see a picture of us, so here it is. Pictures of Cecilia are abundant on her website.

Monday, April 16, 2007


"Hope, in its widest acceptation, is described as the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it. The Scholastics say that it is a movement of the appetite towards a future good, which though hard to attain is possible of attainment. ... It is a truth constantly acted upon in Catholic life and no less explicitly taught, that hope is necessary to salvation. ... There is both a negative and a positive precept of hope. The negative precept is in force ever and always. Hence there can never be a contingency in which one may lawfully despair or presume. The positive precept enjoining the exercise of the virtue of hope demands fulfilment sometimes, because one has to discharge certain Christian duties which involve an act of this supernatural confidence, such as prayer, penance, and the like.(

I have always been a bit of an optimist. I always thought things could somehow work out, things always work out for the best, that good always triumph evil, that if given the chance people will do the right thing, etc. Within the last 7 years or so, I lost some of that optimism. I was excited and hopeful that voting for a pro-life, small-government president who actually won would have good effects. I thought with a Republican congress good things might finally begin to happen. The examples can go on - and not all political either.

Now I never lost faith in God's triumph over the world, etc. But I did lose some of my optimism as people disappointed me. The amount of selfishness, inconsiderateness, greed, laziness and hypocritical negativity I've seen from people over the years - terrorism, the murder of Terri Schiavo, a woman being sued in NJ for homeschooling her children, elephant dung on a picture of the BVM, Maryland's trying to remove any statute of limitations for Catholic institutions but not touching public ones, the increasing gap between the rich and the poor and the increasing cost of living in some areas, euthanasia, abortion, poor public education, road rage, and the list goes on and on from the most dramatic to the smallest incidents. How many of us turn on our turn signal before we need to get over to give another driver the opportunity to let us in? How often do we expect that consideration? How often do we hold the door open for each other or have the door held open for us? I've been pregnant and had people not hold the door or let me pass by. And the disappointing things, because they are part of humanity, span from the smallest moments to the biggest decisions.

The problem is that to ignore such things is to ignore life - good or bad it is part of this world we live in and we can't live outside it. We can't ignore it.

However, I came to notice that the loss of my optimism and my new cynicism and disappointment and low expectations from many people didn't effect them. It effected me. It effected my cheerfulness. It effected my outlook. And it took me a while to figure out why I was less cheerful. And I think the answer comes down to Hope. Now, I do not mean to say I can now hope in crooked politicians or murdering "doctors" or terrorists. But I can hope for them. I can hope for them because I have hope in God.

Easter is the season of Hope. It is the celebration that despair, sin and death do not get the last word. Easter teaches us that all our hope rests in the one who gives hope - the God Son who became "fetus" who became child who became man who suffered and died and took up his life again in glory. He gives us hope and if our hope is in Him, then through Him, we can have hope for others. It is because of Easter that we can live in a world of selfishness and deceit and hypocritical nastiness and not let it get us down. And it is through hope that, when the muck and grime of this world tries to bring us down, God keeps us soaring above it clean and dry.

So the next time a politician stands up to tell me how wonderful they are and then, true to form, serve only themselves or a driver cuts me off or a bomb goes off half way across the world or another innocent unborn child is brutally and senslessly murdered I will feel it and I will lament it but I will not be brought down by it - there is simply too much to hope for.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Divine Mercy Sunday

I've been sick with a nasty cold - you name it, it included it. Due to this, my head is a bit fuzzy. So I am only going to share a brief reflection on the Divine Mercy.

Adam and Eve disobey God and eat from the forbidden tree and then, shamed, hide themselves and are rebuked and punished for thier sin. (Genesis 3)

Then the LORD God said: "See! The man has become like one of us, knowing what is good and what is bad! Therefore, he must not be allowed to put out his hand to take fruit from the tree of life also, and thus eat of it and live forever." The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen 3:22-24)

I remember reading and rereading the creation, the creation, the fall, etc. until I was sick of it. But something caught my attention anew about this part not long ago I would like to share.

I had always read Gen 3:22 as though God was upset that man might climb the heights of immortality and be in some way equal to God. It always came across in the translation to me as though God were jealously guarding his special status as knowledgable AND immortal. And hence God banishes the man and the woman. But here is the thing... Adam and Eve at this point are in a fallen, sinful state. IF they had eaten from the tree of life at that moment they would not go to heaven or be eternally happy but be damned to hell for their immortality would have been solidified in a fallen state. So it is actually not jealousy but MERCY that provokes God to exile his disobedient children and great care and concern for them that he places the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword to save them from immediate damnation. By NOT eating from the tree of life, they may yet be redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Friday, April 06, 2007

Sorry it has been a while...

For two and a half weeks I was without a computer as mine was being worked on by Apple Geniuses. One day it just wouldn't boot. They spent 10 days replacing logic boards and hard drives and couldn't figure out what was wrong. So they ordered me a new one which I now have. Even after we got the new computer, our car decided to commit suicide so we spent a week car shopping. I must say, through the whole thing, Cecilia was fantastic. She had more patience than most adults would have at car dealerships - although she was somewhat placated by all their balloons. In the end we got a Honda Odyssey, which we all like very much. Cecilia has taken to it very quickly.

Sorry I've been away so long but hopefully now I can post a bit more regularly.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Prayer Request

Please keep the Bettinelli's in your prayers...

The are especially requesting petitions to Mother Theresa of Calcutta for her intercession.

Details are at Melanie's site (link to the left for The Wine Dark Sea) and Dom's website (link to the left for the Musings of Domenico Bettinelli)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Reflections on Motherhood

A blog I read and to which I have the link on the left has a wonderful reflection on Motherhood:

Motherhood is not a job, not a role, not a pastime. It is a vocation. I have been called by God. He names us, knows us, calls us by name and when we answer, we become what he calls. Mothers are called by God to emulate him, to give life, to pour out ourselves, giving away with abandon, to love completely, selflessly, even when hurts, especially when it hurts. A mother loves. God is love. By being mothers, we draw near to God.

Please pray for Melanie and Dom and their family after losing their dear little Francis by miscarriage last weekend.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Interdaily Prayer

For my Lenten reading I am reading Fr. Dubay's Fire Within. If anyone were to take only one thing from this book, at least based of my reading of the first 110 pages, it should be that if anyone wants to ascend to any degree of communion with God it is absolutely necessary to maintain a consistant and constant fervant prayer life. It doesn't matter if you pray the Divine Office or the Rosary or just the Our Father. It matters that you pray well and pray often and leave the rest to God and all will fall into place.

This made me wonder how often we, as people in general, pray during our day. Now, I'm a housewife and stay-at-home mother. I fold towels while my daughter unfolds them and try to clean bedrooms while my daughter rearranges the shoes on the floor. Certainly others are in offices and on telephones and doing all sorts of other things during their day. But how often do any of us take extra time to pray? The opportunities are quite numerous: while stuck in traffic or at a red light, while on the phone on hold, while trying to get a little one to sleep, while cooking, while waiting in line - anywhere: the bank, the food store, the cleaners, etc. I can't help but wonder how much better the world would be if we all took more time to simply pray during the day - pray for patience with poor drivers or charity when we answer those annoying telemarketer calls or diligence in work we don't want to do. Even more I can't help but wonder how much better our own lives would be by devoting so much time - even only a few minutes at a time - to prayer. How many things would we not have to regret doing or saying if we prayed before we did them?

Of course, I am no exception to the discussion. As part of my Lent, I am using the time I have to get Cecilia to sleep at bedtime and for naps to pray the rosary... just a decade here and a decade there, but it is impressive how they can add up.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Attack on Christ

"Jesus' Tomb?"

Doubtless many have heard of this by now. Some people, including "Titanic" director James Cameron, are suggesting they have found the tombs of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and their "son" Judah. Now such a story would not have reached the first telephone if it was not argued to be referencing Jesus of Nazareth on whom all of Christianity is founded - so let's not beat around the bush contending it could be the tomb of some "Joshua" and some "Miriam" from around the time of Jesus who had a son named "Judah." You have to be a plain fool not to know what they are trying to suggest.

Besides, it is not the first time, nor will it be the last, when someone tries to think themselves important and earth-shattering by proclaiming something about Jesus of Nazareth to get headlines, fame, money, etc. Look at the Da Vinci Code if you want a recent example or the gnostic gospels if you want an older one.

At best these attempts are selfish endeavors to make oneself seem important and make one wealthy. But at worse, much graver consequences can be on the horizon...

Suppose even one person, ignorant of scholarly work on the truth of such claims and perhaps not even with a very rich or deep faith to dismiss such claims in the way they truly deserve, actually doubts his or her own previously accepted beliefs that Jesus is the Son of God, fully alive, truly risen and actually in heaven and has no help to pull him or her back from those doubts. Now, whether due to the selfishness and selfimportance of others or through the malicious and cynical contention of them against the Son of God, such little lambs as these may at the very least become very confused.

When I first read the article I wanted to cry. Here were those same people who have insulted and ridiculed my Church now trying to take my Jesus from me completely. He is the light of my life and indeed the breath that keeps me going and, indeed, even makes me pray for those who would take him from me and yet they seek to destroy him. Now, for me, it is true they did not in the least damage my faith except perhaps my faith in the decency of some people, but they did nonetheless hurt me with such stupidity and arrogance and perhaps even maliciousness.

It is sad the world has come to such as this for among many, quite simply, nothing but themselves is any longer sacred.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lenten Beginnings

Well, Lent got off to a bit of a penitential start for me. Last night I spent part of the night in bed and part on the floor trying to calm Cecilia as she transitions into sleeping the whole night in her crib and no nursing during the night. It is a big change for her but it resulted in a poor night's sleep for all of us and, since we are not right now used to fasting added to the poor night's rest, significant headaches for James and myself today. Cecilia was somewhat cranky herself.

My Lenten reading is Dubay's Fire Within, of which I only read chapter one today. I hope to read it steadily throughout Lent.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Northanger Abbey

Well, I have now read all of Jane Austen's six novels. My order of preference is as follows:

Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey.

But do not think I disliked any of them. I liked all of them but to varying degrees. Pride and Prejudice remains my favorite of all books for I have seldom found it matched in humor, wit, tenderness or morality. Emma is plain and simply a fun and fantastic read - one I look forward to in the future. Mansfield Park is a great drama with much to say for itself and much to reflect upon both on the subject of matrimony as well as that of parenting. Sense and Sensibility is warm and tender. Persuasion's appeal is directed to the subject of second chances at love and the tender suffering endured by rejecting it the first time. Northanger Abbey is a satirical parody and, in this, very different from her other novels. In it Austen directs many sentiments directly to her reader acknowledging her "fable" and the rules thereof poking fun at the novel, particularly horror novels of her time, and society in general.

I think, before I read her short stories, I would like to reread Pride and Prejudice. I have watched the miniseries so many times since I last read it I think it would be good to refresh myself with the book before venturing into her unfinished novels, prayers and letters.

Overall I must say I find it quite sad indeed that Jane Austen is not more read today.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sense and Sensibility

Well, I finished Sense and Sensibility much sooner than I expected. Having a cold is certainly confining but it does tend to afford more time for reading. Thus far how I would rate my preference of Jane Austen's books:

Pride and Prejudice
Mansfield Park
Sense and Sensibility

I should make clear that I do not dislike any of her books. I have enjoyed all of them very much but this is my list of preferences.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mansfield Park

Well, in just over a week I finished Mansfield Park. It was very good with a large list of characters and quite a complex plot. Only mild fatigue from reading 200 pages in two days is slowing me from beginning Sense and Sensibility, which shall be my next Jane Austen read.

It is commonly regarded that Jane Austen's books are one of romance, generally with a happy ending and usually with something to say regarding marriage and courtship and virtue. I cannot deny this. But I have come to observe that no less a primary subject for Austen is courtship and marriage than is proper parenting. In each of Emma, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Mansfield Park there is one or several parents (and even some aunts and uncles) which Austen critcizes severely in their ineptness and disinterestedness in proper parenting or guardianship and the great responsibility they have in rearing children not only in education and manners but also in discernment, temper, disposition, humility and virtue. One could argue that, not separating parenthood from marriage, Austen is simply continuing her discource on the subject of matrimony rather through the superiors of her protagonists and their relations rather than through the protagonists and their relations themselves.

I must, at this time, still hold Pride and Prejudice as my favorite although further recflection and time may change that but I will only consider it upon rereading Pride and Prejudice. This I hope to do after reading Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Sandition and her other short stories, and then Pride and Prejudice again. It seems a lot, but since midDecember I have already completed three of her novels totalling over 1250 pages of reading which, with a one year old, is no small matter.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Jane Austen

Well, I read Emma and then Persuasion and am now on Mansfield Park. I guess you could say I am on a Jane Austen kick. I have also ordered Sense and Sensibility and Northangler Abbey and will read those after Mansfield Park. Then I will treat myself to rereading Pride and Prejudice and read her short stories. So basically I should cover all her writings before summer (except her letters, which I haven't gotten yet.

So far my rank of preference would be:
Pride and Prejudice

I don't know exactly where Mansfield Park will fall yet but I do, so far at least, like it better than Persuasion. Persuasion was good but not as enjoyable to me as the others.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

House ... of death

You may be familiar with the FOX show House. It has been on a couple of seasons now about a doctor named Dr. House. It tends to be very witty and can be quite humorous.

I have now watched two full episodes, the second being last night's "shocking revealing secret episode" and BOTH of the episodes I have completely watched had an abortion in them. I must say, in this case, two strikes and you are out. I cannot watch another one. The first I watched was in the first season where a 12 year old swimmer was given an abortion and Dr. House did/could not even tell her parents she was pregnant no less that they gave her an abortion. Last night's was of a girl who was raped and didn't believe in abortion and even argued with House about how it was murder, which House does not contend, and it was immoral, which he also concedes, but after an argument about God and the meaning of life he convinces her to "terminate" her pregnancy anyway. It is quite discpicable to me that such action would be taken and it actually be believed to have helped her - oh yeah like she won't regret betraying her own principles later - it was really for her own good and her own healing. Spare me.

My other issue concerning the series is their magic medicine and how much of the medical references in the show are made up. Of course they never tell the viewer how much is made up and how much isn't, but consider this....In last night's episode the girl had been rapes no more than one week before her seeing House and yet within a day or two at most, they know she is pregnant. Even with a blood test it has to be a MINIMUM of 10 days past conception for a blood test to acurately determine pregnancy. Prior to that the hormones to look for simply aren't there in levels detectable to indicate pregnancy.

While I grant the show to be written with a great amount of wit and humor with quick quips and one-liners, it is most despicable in my opinion not only to be pushing a pro-abortion agenda, but to even do so with fantasized medicine. It is one show I personally can no longer tolerate.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Well, if you have read Cecilia's page, you can imagine I've been quite busy with her since we all recovered from our holiday illnesses. In short, I've been quite tired lately.

However, James and I did beat PS2's LEGO Star Wars game - a lot of fun. I am also half-way through Jane Austen's Emma. I am also planning Cecilia's 1st Birthday Party, which will be Veggietales themes since she absolutely adores them. I am going to try to make the cake into either Bob or Larry and she can try cake for the first time.