Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Prayers to Padre Pio...


This is probably not going to come as a shock to many, but I've been praying to St. Padre Pio that he intercede for us. My secret desire (or probably not so secret), and that of our only son, is to have another boy.
The Catholic book club I belong to at our neighboring parish just read about St. Padre Pio earlier this month. Reading about his fascinating life and then watching two movies about him, makes me love him and admire him even more. What an amazing Saint, and within our own century! I started to feel that I should pray for his intercession on this matter. I started praying toward the beginning of December for the intention that my husband would be willing to have another child. I tried desperately not to pressure my husband and resolved that I would not say another word about the subject until he brought it up.
Suddenly, while driving to our relatives house about a week ago my husband announced that he was willing to try. I didn't even know what he meant at first, but then he explained that our son had spoken to him earlier that morning about wanting to have a little brother and being sick of all the girls around. I guess that was the little whisper (or should I say whimper) that my dear husband needed to hear in order to have a change of heart. I believe it was St. Padre Pio's intercession that also touched my husband's heart. It had been about nine days since I started my prayers for the intention of his heart to change.
Now I need to be praying that we have a boy, so my son will have a brother. The prayers of children are very powerful, that is why I am going to have my children pray for this intention as well. If you would, please, join your prayers with ours that through St. Padre Pio's intercession we will have a little boy this time next year. Thank you and God bless you for your generosity in praying for our intentions. God's Will be done, not mine, though. Like I told my son, if it is God's Will that you only have sisters, he knows what you NEED far better than I.
ST. PADRE PIO, PRAY FOR US!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Our other Christmas Parties...









This was one of our best Christmas' ever! I think because we prepared for it better this year. By that, I don't mean that I went shopping on Black Friday, bought tons of presents, or even made a mountain of Christmas cookies ahead of time. We prepared for Christmas by focusing more on Advent during Advent and waiting to celebrate Christmas during Christmas.

We had a wonderful day with Nana and Aunt Olivia on Christmas Eve. We all relaxed at home and opened presents slowly. We had time to put the "some assembly required" toys together and even play with them. The favorite toy from Nana and Aunt Olivia was a wooden kitchen set for the girls.

Christmas morning we found that Santa had brought each of the kids a present and a stocking full of goodies. We read our Christmas story out of the book The Lord Jesus by Father Lovasik and sang "Silent Night" as the kids placed their baby Jesus in the manger. The toys from Santa were all a hit. Mass on Christmas went very well! We were asked to take up the offertory and the kids were so excited to assist in this way at Holy Mass. The music was beautiful, the homily was rather safe, and the kids behaved almost like angels (notice I said almost!). I felt like this was a little reward for not getting so stressed about Christmas this year and really preparing spiritually.

We really tried to use the Liturgical Calendar my dear hubby created and the books In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez. These really made a difference in helping me to focus on what was important. Making an effort to go to confession more frequently during Advent also helped. I hope that we can continue to go more frequently throughout the new year.

The last pictures are of the kids and their cousins at my brother and sister-in-laws home. We celebrated with my side of the family at their home the weekend after Christmas. Again, I was so pleasantly surprised by how well things went. There wasn't nearly as much drama as in past get-togethers. Even the homily at my brother's church was excellent, probably one of the best I have heard in a long time from a diocesan priest. As my son reminds me, today is the sixth day of Christmas, 6 more blessed days to go. Merry Christmas!












Monday, December 22, 2008

Our First of Many Christmas Parties...












I haven't blogged for a while(if that is the correct term) because of prepairing for and attending our first of many Christmas parties. We were blessed to be able to stay with my sister-in-law and her husband for the weekend. The kids had tons of fun and like always were really spoiled by their Grandma Mary.

The first of the pictures are my dear husband and his brother and sister. The two babies are my brother-in-law's twins, Collin and Hailey. We don't get to see them much, so this was a rare treat to visit with them. My sister-in-law is in the middle and she is the youngest of the three siblings.
The second picture is the collective clan of kids that these three siblings have been blessed by (so far) in their marriages. If you are counting, there are 11 total---five boys and six girls. They are all under the age of 9.

The third and fourth pictures are of the "sleep overs" that the cousins had. Of course the babies only had a mini-nap-time sleepover, but there are four of them in that little nursery. As predicted, when one woke up they all did. As for the big kids, I don't know how much sleep they got. They were up talking most of the night. I hated to shush them too much. I couldn't help but remember the holiday sleepovers with my cousins and that was, well, let's say a long time ago and leave it at that. (I don't want to go showing my age now, do I?)



Our Christmas party plans have just been simplified as of this weekend. We are no longer needing to travel on Christmas. A bit of a disappointment that we are not going to get to see dear Hubby's grandparents, but I am glad that we get to stay home all day after we attend Christmas Mass. This will be a first. The kids should be able to enjoy their gifts a little more by actually playing with them.

An update on our school year---my oldest finished her 3rd grade curriculum about a week ago. We recieved her grades via e-mail and she received straight A's. I am so proud of how hard she worked with the Seton books. They were a little challenging at times, but excellent. We ordered her fourth grade materials and they arrived a few days later. I looked over them this morning and I am excited to get started using these new books. Does that make me crazy? Or am I just a little weird because I like books so much?

My son is now half way through his 2nd grade year. He's a year ahead of his peers, but he still doesn't seem challenged at times. I'm not saying that to brag, but he just seems to be a really hard worker and enjoys school. I am so thankful for that.
Our middle daughter is enjoying our Christmas break. Since I am not doing full time school work with the older two, (just a little review every couple of days), she is getting lots more reading time with Mommy. Thankfully we got some new books for Christmas from Grandma Mary and she is really enjoying those.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Little Readers:



The kids have been really good about reading everyday, and for some, nearly every hour of the day. My oldest is quite the book worm. If she isn't at her desk doing school work I can always find her curled up on a couch with a good book. I guess I shouldn't complain, but she tends to get lost within the book and doesn't always come when called.
Our youngest, has decided she wants to imitate the older ones and seems to pick up any and all books she can. The only problem is she still likes to eat them. The latest book she has tried to consume was my Mustard
Seed book. It is a condensed, little book that
describes the basic Truths of the Catholic Faith.
At least she has good taste! It is a nice book that summarizes the Faith well.

Our middle child, has recently joined the older two in becoming an early reader. She won't be 5 until January, but has already read about 45-50 books. Of course they are simple, early reader, and beginner books, but I am proud of her nonetheless. Thank God for Frontline Phonics and the Catholic Heritage Curriculum series called Little Stories for Little Folks. (chcweb.com/ is where you can get the CHC series) We use both of these programs and I think the kids really enjoy them. After that we start to check out the Dick and Jane series from the library to work some more on fluency and sight words.
We also are doing the Pizza Hut Book-It awards program again this year. The kids and I set a goal of how many books they will read for the month. When they reach their goal, they receive a certificate for a free personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. (You can sign up online at the Pizza Hut home page.) We then go on a week day, during the lunch buffet to redeem them. I pay for my lunch buffet (about $6), the youngest two get to eat free since they are under 3, and the older three have their free personal pan pizzas. It ends up being a really cheap lunch for 6 people (about $6 plus tip). They feel like they have been richly rewarded and I don't have to cook or clean up after them for one meal! Sounds like a win-win situation to me. I would highly recommend this program to all home schooling families who have little readers in their home.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe




Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. To celebrate, we attended Mass, gave Father a bag full of the girl's haystack cookies, and then made luminarios and St. Juan Diego's tilma.
We recently read the book Night of Las Posadas by Tomie Depaolo. (You can find this book at tomie.com) The word "posadas" means inn. This book is a wonderful story that tells about the Mexican tradition where a couple portraying Joseph and Mary pass through the streets looking for a place to spend the night. In Mexico they do this for nine nights in a row. Only on the last night do the couple find a place to stay. Part of the tradition includes little luminarios that line the road way marking where the couple will go. This is where I got the idea to make the luminarios for today's feast day. I thought they might also be a good way to remind the kids that we are preparing for the light of the world (Jesus) this Advent season.

Since the younger girls couldn't be trusted with the hammers and ice picks, they did the tilma craft which mostly involved coloring, cutting, and gluing. Before our craft we read again about St. Juan and Our Lady's apparition to him in Mexico in 1531.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

For Any Friend Who Might Need This:

On the 40th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae
Most Rev. Thomas G. Wenski

(Most Rev. Thomas Wenski, Bishop of the Diocese of Orlando, is Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice andPeace. This originally appeared in The Florida Catholic.)

This past July 25th marked the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s controversial
and still little heeded encyclical, Humanae vitae (On the Regulation of Birth). Many
both within and without the Church – heady from the many changes initiated by the
Second Vatican Council – fully expected that the Church would change her clear and
constant teachings on human sexuality and procreation. Proponents of change then
argued that the development of the contraceptive pill made such change in teaching not
only possible but imperative. However, Pope Paul VI (advised closely by the then
Cardinal Wojtyla) realized that while much in the Church was rightly changeable (for
example, liturgical rites and languages had changed often in the Church’s two thousand
year history) no one – even the Pope – could change the received teachings of the
Church in matters of faith and morals.
In Humanae vitae, giving an ecclesiastical example of a profile in courage, Paul
VI reaffirmed the immorality of recourse to artificial means of birth regulation. While
Pope Paul VI and the Catholic Church practically stood alone in reaffirmation that the
procreative and unitive ends of the conjugal act could not morally be arbitrarily
separated, it is important to remember that up until the early 20th century this was also
the constant teaching of all other Christian ecclesial bodies – Orthodox, Anglican and
Protestant.
Of course, the Church is not against sexual pleasure as some of her opponents
allege; but, more importantly, we are for the happiness of the human person. The
fostering of that happiness requires understanding the gift of our sexuality as God has
intended it. Sex, in God’s plan, is more than just a “recreational activity”. As Catholic
feminist and philosopher, Janet Smith says: “…sex is for babies and bonding. If
people are not ready for babies and bonding, they ought not to be engaging in acts of
sexual intercourse.” And what are nuptials but the public expression of a couple’s
readiness to do just that?
A careful rereading of Humanae vitae – especially in the light of the “sexual
revolution” unleashed in society over the past 40 years –can help us appreciate how
prescient the Pope was in his warnings of the dire consequences that a “contraceptive
mentality” would have on society. The numbers of unwanted pregnancies and
abortions did not decrease with the widespread acceptance of contraception – they
increased. And the “pill” far from freeing women from male domination made them
more likely to be victims of sexual exploitation by men. The break up of families and
the epidemic of divorce in our culture, the increasingly high incidence of women
bearing children out of wedlock, the flight from adult responsibility and the extended
“adolescence” of men, all point to – in hindsight –the rightness of Paul VI’s and the
Church’s teaching on human sexuality.
(Continued on p. 2)
2
The Church condemns artificial contraception not just because of its bad consequences. She condemns
artificial contraception because it is intrinsically evil (and because it is evil it has bad consequences).
Contraception is evil because it violates the very purpose and nature of the sexual act – and in doing so violates
the dignity of the human person.
Pope John Paul II reaffirmed Humane vitae throughout his pontificate. His “Theology of the Body” has
sought to represent the perennial teachings of Church on human sexuality in an idiom more accessible to our
contemporaries. The sexual act, he teaches, implies self-giving, a self giving denied in the very act of
contraception. One’s “body language” should mean as much as one’s words do. Happiness and human
flourishing cannot be built on insincere language or lies. Contraception – like pre-marital or extra-marital sex -
is a lie because it denies the unconditional “yes” of one to another implied in the very act of love making.


To see this and other articles on this topic go to the following website:

http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp/forum_summer-fall08.pdf

Monday, December 8, 2008

Shopping For Christmas:

This year I am doing way more shopping online than ever before. I did a little the other day with Wal-mart's site to store deal. I now have my four nephews and four nieces marked off my list. Yeah!!! My favorite site right now is Land's End. Hear me out! Before you get ahead of your self, and think I am spending a fortune, just listen. They have been holding a St. Nick pick each day. It just so happened that the day I was shopping for a coat and boots for myself. They had a style from last year on clearance in the overstock department and then it was on sale that day. I also had a promotional code that made the shipping free. I was able to search through the overstocks and find the kids some really high quality shoes for the same price (if not cheaper) than I could find at Wal-mart! I was so happy! God had answered my prayers. I really had been stressing about how we were going to get the kids new shoes, since our clothing budget has been shot for the past two-three months.
Today, I received my coat, my boots, and the kids' shoes in the mail. I am really impressed with the quality. Land's End also sent along another promotion code to get $20 off my next order. Little did I know that the exact boots I was going to order for the kids are on sale today, $6.50 less than if I would have ordered the other day. And on top of that I will be getting the $20.00 off! I love that site. You have to check out their overstocks if you are looking to find a great deal. Happy hunting!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

St. Nicholas' Day


The orange things in the kids' shoes are carrots. They are for St. Nicholas' horse or reindeer, whichever he chooses to ride to deliver gifts. We read last year that the children in Germany traditionally leave carrots so the horse/reindeer have enough food to make the journey. Apparently, the kids didn't think that St. Nicholas has a car here in America either.











If you can't tell in the second picture, the kids received a holy card, a little flash light, and some candy in their shoes. They were very excited!






In discussing the feast of St. Nicholas, the kids came up with some interesting questions. The first one was, "Why do they call it a feast day? We don't eat a big meal that day?" Apparently, they were remembering Thanksgiving, because the next question was, "Is Thanksgiving a feast day?" The last question was far more difficult to answer, "How can St. Nicholas bring us gifts if he is dead?" That one came from my son. He is very practical at times. About the only way to answer that one truthfully was in a round about way and then quickly move off topic. I said that St. Nicholas died, but his soul is immortal ,so he now lives with Jesus in heaven as do all the saints. I quickly switched the discussion to naming other saints that we had been learning about over the past few weeks.
I just feel so sneaky some times. The kids didn't bring up the question again and all are kept in quiet belief...for the time being.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Planned Parenthood Gift Certificates!!!???!!!

I could hardly believe it when I read the following article in the Washington Times about Planned Parenthood selling gift certificates here in Indiana. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, this is Planned Parenthood. They murder unborn children. Nothing should surprise me about PP.

Planned Parenthood offers gift vouchers
Pro-lifers rap Indiana plan
Saturday, November 29, 2008

Indiana residents in need of a quick stocking stuffer this holiday season have an unusual option: Planned Parenthood gift certificates.
The group's Hoosier State chapter on Wednesday began selling gift certificates redeemable at any of its 35 facilities for any service provided -- from basic health screenings to birth control to abortions.
Betty Cockrum, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said the program was initiated in response to the state's ailing economy.
"Our patients are principally low-income women, and so, needless to say, those patients are more challenged now than ever," Ms. Cockrum said. "We find that when women are [financially] strapped, they're more worried about putting food on the table and gas in their car, and their health care is often put by the wayside."
Almost 800,000 Indiana residents don't have health insurance, she said.
Ms. Cockrum said the gift-certificate program is the first of its kind by any of Planned Parenthood's 99 affiliates nationwide.
Pro-life groups -- longtime opponents of Planned Parenthood -- have denounced the voucher program, saying it will lead to more abortions in the state.
"It's very typical of Planned Parenthood to pervert the meaning of Christmas, which is a time of life and selflessness and love and giving," said Katie Walker, a spokeswomen with the American Life League, a Catholic pro-life activist group.
Ms. Walker added that the gift-certificate program is "another money-making opportunity to continue [Planned Parenthood] assaults on families through abortion and through artificial birth control, through the sexualization of our children with their obscene sex-ed programs."
She also accused Planned Parenthood of targeting minority populations, saying that offering money or gift certificates takes advantage of the high rates of poverty in those communities.
"Planned Parenthood makes itself out to be this benevolent organization, but the fact is, they're receiving money hand over fist," she said. "It's very much a business."
Ms. Cockrum said that while the certificates may be redeemed for abortions, "I can't imagine that could happen."
"An abortion is a tragic and urgent situation in a women's life, and gift certificates don't lend themselves to that," she said.
Ms. Cockrum added that the vast majority of services provided by Planned Parenthood are for basic health care, such as Pap tests, which cost $58 at the group's centers.
"Even a gift certificate for $25 goes a long way toward what's potentially a life-saving but certainly just essential, basic health care for a loved one," she said.
The program has been endorsed by Dr. Judy Monroe, Indiana health commissioner, who called it a "really a meaningful gift."
The certificates, which come in $25 increments, work like cash and come with no restrictions and no expiration date. They can be purchased at many of the group's Indiana clinics and online, and can be used for some insurance co-payments and medication.
No other state affiliate has yet said whether it would accept the Indiana chapter's vouchers.
Ms. Cockrum said that while it's too early to judge the program's success, she plans to offer the certificates year-round.
Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 880 centers nationwide.

To see the article in it's original format go to:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/29/planned-parenthood-offers-gift-vouchers/

Monday, December 1, 2008

Journey to Therese: What Kind of Catholic are you?#links#links

Here is one of the best short videos I've seen about being Catholic, really being Catholic, and not Catholic in name only! (CINO)

Journey to Therese: What Kind of Catholic are you?#links#links

Busy weekend:
























The first picture is of the kid's opening night in the play "Butterfingers Angel...". They did very well. They were complimented by all who attended.
Besides having the family in to celebrate, Thanksgiving, we also celebrated our youngest's 1st Birthday on Saturday. We did a rabbit theme. I made a big rabbit face cake for everyone and a little bunny for the baby to devour. She had lots of fun and ate almost the entire cake! We also did pin the tail on the bunny, a bunny sack hopping race, and find the carrots (a hide and seek game). The kids had lots of fun and I think even the adults enjoyed themselves. It may sound cheap, but I gave the kids two quarters for a prize when they won a game. They were soooo excited to get real money. I think they liked it better than if I would have given them a toy. My little winners are already asking when they can go to the store to spend their quarters.

So Thankful for Thanksgiving Break:







My immediate family came to visit for Thanksgiving this year. All together we had my parents, my sister and her fiance, my oldest brother, my other brother and his wife, and their two kids. That made a grand total of 9 adults and 7 kids. Compared to some large families that's nothing. It felt like a lot more than that at times.
We had a wonderful buffet style Thanksgiving. It was so nice to attend Mass together and then have a nice relaxing lunch that everyone helped to make. I was really impressed with how much everyone helped out with the meal prep this year. It made for a really enjoyable time. Just like all large families, we had a kids' table and a grown-up table. The first picture is of my four oldest and their cousin (my brother's daughter). The second picture is of my sister-in-law, my Dad, my Mom, and my sister around some of the food.
After our lovely meal, my brother and I went for a walk with all of the kids, except my son. There is a cemetery about a 1/4 away. The kids like to walk there and then pray for the poor souls who might still be in purgatory (It is a protestant cemetery). The last picture is of my youngest who ran into a grave stone and scraped up her nose and eye brow. It sort of looks like she just had plastic surgery.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Home Schooling Questions Answered, or at Least Some...


I've been asked a lot over the past two months about home schooling. There seems to be an increased interest in home education, and for good reason. Here are the two websites I would like to recommend:



I have used both of these programs. The Catholic Heritage Curriculum is great for little kids. It is a much more "real books" approach to teaching your little ones. They help by giving you a topic, say mammals, and then you check out library books on that topic. You read a lot of children's books and do plenty of hands on activities. Their whole Social Studies program is focused on character development the first few years. I used the CHC curriculum for Kindergarten, first, and second grade with my oldest two children. I especially like their sacramental prep that they have for second graders preparing for First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion. (This prep is in their lesson plans).


We switched to Seton about a year ago. My oldest is finishing up third grade, and my second oldest started his second grade year in August (he's only six, but was ready). He really likes it and says his favorite subject is phonics. The books are loaded with Catholic art, stories of the saints, and virtues. I really like that nearly every textbook teaches them something about the Catholic Faith. This is how Catholic schools use to teach. Unfortunately, I don't see that in our local parish school. I should know I use to teach there!


I am not trying to bash the local Catholic school. In most cases, it is a better option than sending a child to a public school. Not everyone can home school. I understand that. However, today's curriculum providers make it so much easier than it use to be. Many of them provide daily lesson plans that nearly anyone can follow. You don't need to be a professional teacher to understand and use the lesson plans.


I guess my advice to those who have asked about home schooling, is to pray about it. While you are praying about it, do your home work. Research the topic of Catholic home schooling. You might consider reading a book about Catholic home schooling. One such book is Catholic Home Schooling, A Handbook for Parents by Mary Kay Clark. There is another good one by Kimberely Hahn, I have loaned it out to someone, and I can't remember the title.


Search through the Catholic home school curriculum websites. Look at a home schooling families curriculum. See if there is a local support group near you. Attend a group function. The home school group I belong to does an activity just about every First Friday. You may want to attend a home schooling conference near you. The web is the best place to do this research.


Even if you decide not to home school your children, that doesn't mean you can't supplement their religious education with these great books. Reading to your children is one of the best things you can do with them at a young age. A little each night goes a long way. I HIGHLY recommend the St. Joseph books, especially those written by Father Lovasik. They are all EXCELLENT!!!


Home schooling is not easy, but I know my children are worth it. I also think about how Mary home educated Jesus. It often gives me the reassurance I need to keep going on those tough days. If it was good enough for Jesus, then it is good enough for my kids.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Guns and a Movie?

video
That's right! I said guns and a movie! We did a his and her's date. A movie for him, and guns for me! HA! LOL!


We went to see the movie "Fireproof". The movie is one of those typical "chick flicks", but had a Christian message about the perminance of marriage. There were some pretty intense action scenes that really appealed to the guys. I was pleasantly surprised to hear them actually talking about the difference between a contract and a covanent marriage. If you haven't seen it, go! Especially, go with your spouse! It was worth the money. We plan on buying it once it comes out on DVD, so we can share it with others who need this message.


I am sure you want to hear about the gun range! Well, since Obama has was elected, we've been talking about getting a gun. Obama's stance on the life issues, gun control, and this 'Civilian Service Force' (or whatever he calls it) makes me think more of Hitler than hope. We've been talking about getting a gun just in case. In case of what? Well, if things tank and go down hill like in the Great Depression, we'll need something that will help us be able to hunt. That is why we got a shot gun. But, because of the worries associated with protecting our family, especially our 5 children, we want to make sure we are ready for anything. So, my dear husband, wants us to buy a hand gun. I have NEVER liked guns! EVER!!! I guess it is a sign of how truly worried I am, that I am more scared of an Obama regime than I am of guns. So, we went to the gun range. We rented two different guns: a 357 and a 9 mil. semi-auto Glock. I was so scared I started shaking and couldn't even shoot at first. What was so scary, you might ask. The thought that I might have to use that gun for real someday. An image of me shooting at someone frightened me. How desperate would things have to be, if it meant I was actually using that gun to protect myself and my family? Once the fear subsided, I was able to try both guns. I think I did a little better with the semi-auto 9 mil. Glock. I was able to get 5 directly in the head of the target. The 357 was heavier and a little more intimidating to me. However, the 357 would be more reliable the gun range owner said. As he put it, "If the rhino is charging you, you want to know that the gun you are holding will work!"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Aflack and the Kids






















































There is a really sweat lady from church, named Nancy. She is such an inspiration to me. Nancy has a 40-something-year old son who is in what doctors call a vegatative state. She is so faithful about going and reading and praying with him. He has recently recovered a miraculous amount of mobility and cognitive developement. Her faithfulness to her vocation as a mother is so amazing!

The other night Nancy came over to babysit. She brought with her a collection of ducks. Nancy and her son (before he was in a comma) had used these ducks to create the pictures for a wonderful children's book called Grandma's Back Porch that she had written. In her generousity, she wanted to share this story with my kids. I was surprised to find that she had left one of the ducks at our house so the kids could play with him. His name is Aflack. The kids took this duck under their wings and have played with him quite a bit. These pictures are some of the times that I have caught them playing with Aflack. I thought they were precious. But, what I find even more priceless is the story Nancy wrote and her inspiring journey with her son who took the photos.



Friday, November 21, 2008

Election Part II - Catholic Culture and the Election of Barack Obama

Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)Human Life International e-NewsletterVolume 03, Number 42 Friday, November 21, 2008
..................................................................................
http://www.hli.org/
Election Part II - Catholic Culture and the Election of Barack Obama
It is impossible to speak of a "Catholic culture" in America any longer. A whole segment of the populace who call themselves "Catholics" do not feel bound by any standard of Catholic orthodoxy or sanity. In fact, it is impossible to even speak of a Catholic culture in most parishes! At a recent "ministry faire" of a large Catholic parish in south Florida, the Respect Life ministry of the parish displayed its pro-life materials next to the table of the "social justice" committee of the same parish. Any commonality between the two ministries was simply in the space they shared. Their worldviews could not have been further apart, but they both call themselves Catholic.
In fact, the "social justice" people were positively aglow about the election of their new messiah, Barack Obama. Several of them were speaking of their plans to attend the Inauguration and were utterly unaware that there would be 100,000 people marching on the nation's Capitol two days later for the right to life of unborn Americans which they had just voted into irrelevancy by electing Obama to the highest office of the land. One of them even expressed shock at the provisions of the upcoming Freedom of Choice Act until he was confronted with the nasty little fact that his messiah had been a sponsor of that pernicious bill in the last Congress. True to form, he steadfastly refused to allow that truth to have any effect on his euphoria. His mind was made up, and he would not let himself be confused by facts. Needless to say, the orthodox, practicing, believing Catholic pro-lifers will not be attending the Inauguration.
How can these two groups sit side-by-side in the same pews and display their ministries in the same space at the same Catholic parish? Simply because this contradiction has been tolerated for years by those in charge of our Church. In this election season neither of these two groups received any guidance about voting according to Catholic principles because, as per usual, there was silence from the pulpit on the issue. The absolute failure of our church leaders to define for us what membership in the Church means - and then to enforce it - has led to the degradation of Catholic culture and the loss of meaning for things that are sacred. When Christ and Belial are considered equal partners in the sanctuary, then nothing in the sanctuary means anything any more and no meaningful standard exists to distinguish a true Catholic from a false Catholic.
The degradation of Catholic culture is largely, but not exclusively, the fault of the clergy. For four decades in the Catholic Church in America we have seen:
Liturgical abuses run rampant, aided and abetted by those in charge
Two or three generations of Catholics left un-catechized or taught with flimsy, Protestantized fluff passed off as Catholic education
Sexual abuse by clergy excused and unaddressed by the hierarchy
A blind eye turned to high profile dissent and political class heretics
Wholesale attacks on sacred teachings that receive virtually no response from our pastors (and if it weren't for Catholic Answers, EWTN and the Catholic League we would have no defense whatsoever)
The succumbing of our Catholic institutions of higher education to the ravages of political correctness, and the list goes on.
In the face of all this, should we be surprised that 54% of "Catholics" voted for Barack? Hardly.
The battle for Catholic culture begins with us, and there is no time like the present to don the armor of spiritual warfare. We either believe and practice what the Church teaches or we live as part of the shadow church, falsely trading on the Name Catholic for its benefits without at the same time shouldering the crosses that this entails.
There is, however, great hope for the future because the battle has already been engaged: new Catholic colleges are springing up to replace the old decrepit houses of heresy, new religious orders with abundant vocations and orthodoxy have arisen, home schooling families and strong lay movements are abundant now. Only when we take back our beloved Church from the false Catholics and clerics will our Church be able to stand up and rebuke the storm winds of paganism that are building faster than we care to admit. This project is not without its price, however. The cost of being a true believer will undoubtedly be much higher than ever before in our lifetime. Starting now and into the next generation we as Catholics will have to show the world not only what we believe but that we are willing to lay down our lives for it as a witness to the truth.

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Goals for the New Liturgical Year...




Some people make New Year's resolutions. I have never been one of them. This year, or at least this Liturgical year, I find myself needing to be one of them. I must get more organized! All this clutter is creating even more chaos. I have determined that the Liturgical Calendar my dear husband made for our wall will be the catalyst that will help orchestrate this massive undertaking.

1. I plan to systematically use the wonderful books, Catholic Traditions in the Home and Classroom by Ann Ball and A Year with God published by Little Way Press. The kids will hold me accountable if they see our activities written down on the calendar.

2. I plan to put my older daughter to work! She needs to take a more active role. She'll be starting 4th grade in January. Until now, I have not made her help out much or mentor the younger kids. I was too afraid that she would resent the fact that I had asked her to help her younger siblings. Today I realized I've been wrong about this. When I received a phone call this morning, she stepped in, without being told, and helped her younger sister with her reading. I was so proud of her and she was so glad to have helped. Now I feel bad for depriving her of the satisfaction she gets from helping others. Plus, this helps me!

3. I plan to utilize the Internet and all the vast resources it offers for keeping younger kids busy. I have found this website helpful for free preschool papers: http://homeschooling.families.com/blog/tips-for-home-schooling-multi-aged-children-printable-worksheets-for-preschoolers I use the ABC teach and enchanted learning pages the most.

4. Last, but not least, I want to stay home more! We need to simplify and slow down. I want to enjoy the time I have with my kids. I want to have the time to interact with my kids without having to rush out the door to yet another activity. The rush, rush, rush of doing so many activities has worn me out.

Lofty goals, I know. I think a fellow home schooling mom who is expecting her 13 child said it best, " We are trying to get our kids into Heaven, not Harvard!"
God bless!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Why do so many people dislike large families?

I've had an interesting today, to say the least! This morning, I was trying to email a fellow home schooling mom, when I hear shouts of "Mommy, she swallowed the chap stick lid! She swallowed the chap stick lid!" Immediately, I bolt up the stairs and expect to see my baby girl laying on the floor choking to death. Instead, I see her sitting up smiling at me with the tube of chap stick in one hand. The missing cap was nowhere to be found. I started interrogating the two older girls who saw her swallow the lid. They still emphatically said that the baby had swallowed the cap.

After five kids, you'd think one of them would have done this sort of thing before, but they hadn't. So I sort of panicked and called my husband at work. He said I should call the doctor. Well, dah! Why didn't I think of that? So I called, answered all their questions, and went in for an appointment at 1pm.

When I get to the doctor's new office, they all stare at my five kids and I with a rather disgusted look. You'd think that I had just brought a pack of muddy dogs into their newly carpeted room! The receptionist never said a single hi, hello, good day, can I help you...just stared for awhile and coldly handed me the paperwork to fill out. After awhile, she asked which doctor I'd be seeing and which one had the problem. I wasn't too offended at this point, just felt unwelcome, until I looked around the room and everyone was noticeably counting kids and shaking their heads back and forth in disapproval.

Why do so many people dislike large families? The kids were even being really good at this point! The baby was asleep and the other four were nicely sharing the toys they had brought with them!

Soon after I filled out the paper work, my dear husband shows up to help watch the kids while I see the doctor. Normally, I wouldn't have asked him to come help, but I had no idea if they were going to need to do anything extensive to the baby, like a scope. Plus I just needed someone to be there for me! I was still pretty worried. I don't think he even noticed the on lookers, but I did. As soon as they heard the kids say, "Daddy!" They all looked at him almost in anger, as if to say, "How could you do this to that poor woman!" Again, why do so many people dislike large families?

Long story short: the baby should be fine as long as the lid passes in the next 3 days.

As if the adventure at the doctor's weren't enough, I figured that since our school day had been cut short, and I was in town anyway, I might at well go to the grocery store. I should be use to it by now, I know, but the looks I got from everyone today, as I loaded the kids up into the two-seater blue cart, really get to me. Why can't I get use to the fact that I will always stick out like a sore thumb wherever I go? We live a counter-cultural life style. People see that, and they stare. I can live with that. What I have a hard time with is the nasty comments, the disgust, and sometimes anger that people have toward us. How do I get past that?

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Question of Socialization...






Our two oldest are in a Christmas production put on by the local theatre in our home town. Here are two pictures of my experiments with the face paint. If you can't tell, our daughter is portraying a cow and our son is a sheep. Of course, with the costumes and ears on, they look a lot more convincing. Play practices have been demanding more and more of their time as opening night fast approaches.

That leads me to address the question I hear from so many people the instant they realize that we home school.... "Don't you think you are socially depriving them by keeping them at home?" To that, I always have to contain my laughter. If people only knew the difference between being social and being socialized they would think twice about ever asking that question. Let me clarify the difference. Being social simply means being around others. Being socialized means acting appropriately in any given social situation. So let me address these two terms.


If anyone were to observe our family, they would quickly realize that my children have plenty of opportunities to be in social situations. The children are involved in soccer, ballet, Girl Scouts, Faith Formation at our parish, attend daily Mass, go to the grocery store, library, museums, the zoo, Dad's office, and to visit relatives and friends' homes. Obviously these are in addition to all of the interactions each family member has with one another throughout the week. How busy do kids really need to be? I'd say mine are busy enough and are exposed to plenty of social situations!


The key question is: are my children acting appropriately when interacting with others? In other words are they socialized? The answer is: Yes, well, most of the time! Seriously, though, they are actually very good kids or at least they sure do get complimented by other nearly every time we go out. I have seen them act appropriately in nearly everyone of these social situations. I find that they are rather patient, kind, share well, speak respectfully to adults, and cooperate with others. They know how to wait their turn, help each other, walk in a line, and say please and thank you when the situation dictates that you be polite. Isn't this being socialized? Of course it is! Where did they learn all this? Well, not from kids their own age! Kids don't innately know how to behave. They must be taught by an older child or adult how to act in any given situation. A 'traditional school' does not afford for much interaction with older children who would model the good behavior and teacher to student ratios are not ideal for this either. However, in a home school situation, the parent is able to be the role model and instruct the child. I feel this is actually one of the main reasons to home school! Who wants their child learning manners from a fellow six-year-old? Not me! So, as for me and my house we will home school! God bless.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November's First Friday Activities

I finally got the picture of the kids at First Friday activities uploaded! This was just a few days after All Saints and All Souls Day. Our home school group, on this particular First Friday, had the kids dress up like a saint. Each child had to give clues about the saint they were portraying and then the rest of the group guesses who they are. The kids learn a lot about a particular saint and get to play dress-up at the same time. From left to right, and in age order, we have St. Scholastica, St. Benedict, St. Agnes, and St. Agatha. The oldest liked this project so much that she wrote every one's little script and clues. Afterwards we all gathered for a game of saint's bingo, where the squares are filled with the names of the saints and the "caller" reads a saints name and a sentence or two about that saint. I learned a lot that day just by playing this game. Of course, the kids did too, but I think they liked the prizes and candy they won the best!










Pope Explains the Second Coming:

With the end of the Liturgical year fast approaching here is a great post from Adele about the Pope's explanation of the end times:
Journey to Therese: Why Christians long for the Second Coming: Pope Explains

Friday, November 14, 2008

Human Life International letter from Fr. Euteneuer



Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)Human Life International e-NewsletterVolume 03, Number 41 Friday, November 14, 2008
..................................................................................
http://www.hli.org/
Election Part I: "We Have No King But Caesar"
The following is the first of a three-part series on the 2008 Elections. In the next two weeks we will deal with issues of Culture and Conscience.
Now that the election is over, we can separate the real Catholics from those who just act the part. Those still reeling from the results of the election can rest assured that they are in good company with the saints. Those who have drawn a line in blood and made a decision to stand with the culture of death need a serious examination of conscience. Now look at what we've done to ourselves. America has made her "choice" for maximum leader and it is not pretty. In fact, it is one of the most devastating blows to American civilization that we have ever undergone, and I do not speak in hyperbole. Even such a saintly figure as Mother Theresa said that "a nation that kills its children has no future;" likewise, an authority like Fr. Benedict Groeschel recently commented that we have entered into "the beginning of the twilight" of our country - dire words that touch on the reality of electing the most extreme, pro-abortion candidate America has ever had the misfortune of occupying the highest office of our land.
This has happened before though. When the prophet Samuel complained to God that the people of Israel were asking for a king, the Lord God replied that they were not rejecting Samuel but were in actual fact rejecting God Himself, His sovereignty and His authority over them (cf. 1 Sam, ch. 8). He also told Samuel that the people would have to accept the consequences of their wicked desire, and as we know, the craven need to be like the surrounding pagan nations was a bitter pill for them to swallow. The people of Israel echoed that rejection of their God more than a thousand years later when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords stood before them in Herod's derisive purple robe and the people shouted, this time with vehemence: "We have no king but Caesar!" In essence, we have chosen a Barabbas over Christ - again.
And choices have consequences they say. The consequences of this election will be imprinted upon our national conscience for years to come, one of which is that, by electing abortion extremists to rule over us, both in the Presidency and in the Congress, we have now lost the blessing promised in Psalm 41:1-4 - "Happy those concerned for the lowly and the poor; when misfortune strikes, the Lord delivers them. The Lord keeps and preserves them, makes them happy in the land, and does not betray them to their enemies. The Lord sustains them on their sickbed." It is hard for Americans to imagine that a land so consecrated could be shriven of that blessing. Yet, we have made our sickbed and we must lie in it.
This did not happen, though, without dire and prolonged warnings about the institutionalization of evil. We can't say we were not warned. When moral persuasion about the killing of innocents did not work, rational science was our witness. When science was ignored and then co-opted for the works of death, AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases came to awaken people's consciences, but these did little better. God then had to allow such an onslaught of terrorism, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes and tsunamis in the past decade that He surely thought we would wake up to the deadly reality of the culture of death and repent. When that didn't happen, He hit us in the most sensitive spot on the human body: our wallets. The gas price hikes and the recent financial meltdown surely would do the trick, He thought, but apparently that did not work either because our people adamantly refused to be deterred at any price from our lust for abortion and put into office all those who would serve the interests of this unholy agenda for decades to come. Alas, we all need to get on our knees and repent from the very depths of our hearts for the plague that we have just invited onto our beloved nation.
At the same time, my friends, despite the dismal picture, this is a time to thank Almighty God for the gifts of life, love and family that we have been given. It is also the time to seriously engage in efforts to take the culture back so that eventually our politics will follow the growth of a new pro-life culture from the seeds we are planting today.
Stay tuned for next week's segment on winning the culture wars.

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Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,President, Human Life International

These Things: Morning Musing: The Near Occasion of Sin

Just found this really cute short story about the near occasion of sin. Well worth the read. I think I will be sharing this with my Wednesday night Faith Formation kids who will be celebrationg their first reconciliation in Jan.

These Things: Morning Musing: The Near Occasion of Sin

Liturgical Calendar

To my surprise, my husband has decided to put his talents and knowledge of auto-cad and computers to good use in creating a liturgical calendar wheel for the upcoming year. The current liturgical year will be ending on Nov. 29, 2008. The calendar he is designing is similar to liturgical wheel calendars you can buy at www.ltp.org/ . His, of course, is less colorful than the ones you can buy, but will be more practical for our needs because he has left more space on each day for us to write in special events like birthdays, lector schedules, and our home school groups First Friday activities. One advantage, of dear hubby being a civil engineer, is he has a very large printer at the office where he can print a really big version of this liturgical calendar wheel. I am not so thrilled about the large calendar taking up so much space on the wall, however, I am excited that we will be more organized about celebrating the feasts days throughout the church year.

I was first introduced to the liturgical calendar wheel by the book A Year With God, Celebrating the Liturgical Year published by Little Way Press and distributed by Catholic Heritage Curricula. This book can be ordered at http://www.chcweb.com/ I believe it is written by Theresa A. Johnson. The reasoning behind the celebration of these wonderful feasts can be best summarized by the following quote from Pope Pius XI:

"...people are instructed in the truths of faith and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectively by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned amount the faithful: feasts reach them all. The Church's teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart and have a salutary effect upon man's whole nature."



I think this is especially true for children. The more children attend Mass, hear about the heroic lives of the saints, and experience our rich Catholic Traditions and traditions, the more they come to understand the joy of being Catholic. I want my children to experience this more than I want them to memorize the names of dinosaurs, planets, or famous dates in history. If I can succeed at building a firm foundation of love for Christ, His Church, and His friends, the saints, then I will have given them the best gift I could ever give them, next to life itself.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Abortion, the genocide of our generation...

I am inspired by the following quotes:



1. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann asserted that more lives have been lost to abortion than in America's wars, and called upon his brother bishops to be courageous.
"Any bishop here would be willing, would consider it a privilege, to die tomorrow if it meant ending abortion," Hermann said. "We should dedicate the rest of our lives to taking any kind of criticism, whatever it is, to stop this horrible genocide."


2. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago raised the specter of potential threats to Catholic health care if (Catholic) hospitals were compelled under the law (proposed by Obama) to offer abortions.


“It could mean discontinuing obstetrics in our (Catholic) hospitals, and we may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our catholic hospitals entirely,” Paprocki said. “It would not be sufficient to withdraw our sponsorship or to sell them to someone who would perform abortions. That would be a morally unacceptable cooperation in evil.”


“I do not think I’m being alarmist in considering such drastic steps,” he said. “We need to respond in a morally appropriate, responsible fashion.”



3. Sedlak was particularly critical of recent comments by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., that he will not seek to deny the Eucharist to Vice-President-elect Joseph Biden, the country's first Catholic vice-president, after he takes office in January.


"You cannot say that abortion is a sin against God, and then deliver that same God into the hands of politicians who support abortion," Sedlak said, calling the failure of the bishops to adopt a uniform communion ban "a scandal and a source of confusion to lay Catholics."



These three men are modern day heroes of the Catholic Faith! I applaud them and pray that God will continue to strengthen them in the inevitable trials that await our country beginning inauguration day. May God help us all and bless this nation with more courageous individuals willing to lay down their lives for the Truth that is Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Little Moments of Grace...

So many trials and so many joys can be found throughout my day! There have been many moments of grace today. That little encounter with struggling Catholic moms at the library where I dropped some helpful hints about how to use a sling and why NFP builds trust in God, that was a moment of grace. The question from my six year old to my 11 mo. old, "You don't want to go to Hell, do you?", that was a moment of grace. The nice old lady from church who on a moment's notice came over to watch my kids while I had to go teach Religious Education, that was a moment of grace. The little old nun who smiled with glee when I showed her that they do still make a little catechism in a question and answer format like the old Baltimore Catechism, that was a moment of grace. Searching for the right phrase, opening a book, and finding the exact sentence I wish I had written, that is a moment of grace. God is so good. Jesus I trust in you. Thank you for my crazy grace-filled day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sick in more ways than one...

It was a very long night last night. My second youngest daughter woke up about an hour after I finally had gotten to bed. Long story short, she 'got sick' on and off throughout the night and I was able to only sleep a few hours. Life with kids is like that. I am not complaining just explaining my thought process. When I finally "woke-up" this morning, I felt rather sick. I don't know if the smell has gotten to me or if I am really sick. My middle daughter, just interrupted with, "My tummy hurts, Mommy!" School is officially cancelled for today. Now how do I get the oldest, 'healthy' daughter to Girl Scouts, ballet, and play practice without getting the rest of the world sick?
'The rest of the world sick', that phrase reminds me of how sick the rest of the world is, spiritually speaking. When our nation chooses death over life, at such a critical point in our history, it speaks volumes about our moral decline in this country. Is America even sure what they voted for in this election? I know God has His reasons for allowing this to happen. I know that now, more than ever, I need to trust Him and not those of this world. Good will come out of evil, but at what cost? That question sickens me more than this physical sickness that has overtaken my children. How many more unborn, helpless babies must be massacred before this country sees the genocide that abortion has allowed?

Monday, November 10, 2008

"The abortion President"

This is from the DFW Catholic Forum at www.dfwcatholic.org:

President-elect Obama Reveals his Position as ‘The abortion President’ with Proposed Executive Order Reversals
November 10, 2008
Washington DC (MetroCatholic) - On Sunday, transition advisors to the President-elect have revealed a potential list of executive orders that Mr. Obama would reverse once he became President.
They include reversing a provision barring international organizations that receive American aid from counseling about the availability of abortions and reversing President Bush’s ban of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research.
The Christian Defense Coalition, along with other faith organizations, warned that if Barack Obama were elected he would be the “most radical pro-abortion President” in American history.
The reversing of these executive orders would offend millions of Americans in the faith community and betrays President-elect Obama’s public statements about building bridges of unity with differing groups and being a President that respects faith and social justice.
Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, comments, “It was with a profound sense of disappointment that I heard President-elect Obama’s transition advisors publicly talking about reversing some life affirming executive orders once he becomes President.
If Mr. Obama reverses the ‘Mexico City Policy,’ which forbids groups that receive American aid from counseling women about the availability of abortion, it would greatly increase abortions around the world. It would also create a scenario in which American evangelicals and Catholics would be paying for abortion referrals through their tax dollars.
If President-elect Obama reverses this policy, it would show a complete and blatant disregard for the faith values of millions of American Christians as well as expanding the violence and tragedy of abortion worldwide. America should be exporting justice and human rights not brutality and violence.
Is this what President-elect Obama means by hope and change?
By reversing the ban on federal funds being used for embryonic stem cell research, Mr. Obama again shows a lack of respect for social justice and the deeply held beliefs of millions in the faith community. Embryonic stem cell research is the tragic destroying of human life and with modern breakthroughs in stem cell research is no longer needed. We invite President-elect Obama to step into the world of modern medical technology and move away from archaic barbaric medical practices.
We warned America that if Barck Obama were elected he would be ‘The Abortion President.’ Sadly, that appears to be the case. Since these decisions have not been made, we invite the faith community and all people of good will to pray that President-elect Obama will embrace a culture of life and stand for social justice and equality for all.
We also invite the pro-life community to come to Washington, D.C. on January 21-24, 2009 to be part of ‘The Birmingham Letter Project’ in which people will be able to participate in a prayerful and prophetic witness for life.”

Life is busy....

Life here is busy, with five children it is a constant balancing act just to get everyone dressed, fed, and educated. I feel a wave of insanity must have come over me when I decided to try my hand at blogging. Just one more thing on my plate! However, I feel that maybe adding one more thing, this time something for me, (an outlet for my inner dialogue) might add to the chaos, but just might help me stay sane.
My goal in creating this blog is to express myself, (when I feel I need to be creative), to update my friends and family, (when they are unable to see us in person), to enlighten others (who do not yet know the fullness of the Truth found in the Catholic Faith), and to encourage others (who hope to homeschool or have a large family). Lengthy and lofty are these goals, but little by little I hope to achieve them.
Why is life so busy? We are only here for a little while, and there is so much to do and see! Maybe that is why I feel so compelled to try to do it all. Not that I can, but I still feel compelled. The word 'no' just doesn't seem to be in my vocabulary sometimes. That being said, I feel like I need to say, "My name is Michelle, and I am a recovering 'Yesaholic'. God help me to say 'no' more often." May God bless you.