Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Busy Day in Pictures

We had a busy day today! Nani took us to "The City" for a Girl's Day of shopping and fun! And I snapped pictures along the way. Sadie is looking so big these days!

Mae Babe is ready to head out shopping!

Nani and Sadie pick out sun glasses!

Mae is hoping for grown up food at lunch...

Sadie eats a cheese bread roll.


More Cuddles!

The girls' favorite store is Costco because of the carts.

Ready for the trip home!

Sadie and Belle.

Getting sleepy...

She's out!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I'm Back!

Yay for a computer that is 99% up and running. I re-ran the startup disks and the hardware check (it came back as okay!) and my computer is dong everything it's supposed to, unless I try to open multiple windows in tabs, then it instantly freezes and crashes the program. I'm hoping it's one of those things that will be fixed with the next update (because that's usually what seems to happen with Mac problems that we've had in the past). Now to get my mind out of "fix the computer" panic mode and back into blogging mode.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Oh No... A Very Sick Computer...

Blogging may be a little slow going this next week. I am afraid that my computer, while less than two years old, is on it's last little legs. For those of you who have any computer skills, here are the symptoms:

Quite suddenly (one moment my computer was fine, the next it was about as useful as a paperweight...) my computer started "thinking" with the little mouse arrow turning into a colorful circle that moved at first and then just froze. None of the commands worked (it's a Mac Powerbook) and I finally just ended up pressing the button until it turned off manually. This happened every time I turned it on.

And it turns on very slowly. None of the "Apple" programs work (even the dashboard with the calculator). However Microsoft Word does seem to work (very, very slowly).

I can't find the startup disks at the moment (two moves since we got the computer) because I was trying to find the hardware test disk...

Thankfully it's under warranty until fall so it looks like it will be going back to Best Buy. Unfortunately the last time we went into Best Buy when it was making a funny sound they said they would have it back to me in a minimum of two weeks. Ugh.

Is this God's way of telling me I need to give up my computer for Lent?

This is going to make my year of dresses a little more difficult too. Guess I'll keep snapping pictures and post them later (or upload some onto Paul's computer...).

Now to straighten up the house... The girls and I were away with Nani and Grumpa (while Daddy worked on his thesis in a quiet house) and there's a lot that needs to be done...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Technical Difficulties

Your regular scheduled blog is experiencing technical difficulties (mainly that my computer is apparently not a fan of the internet connection where I am at the moment... I hope... if it's still not working when I get home it'll be going back to Best Buy where it's, thankfully, still under warranty...). I will be back tomorrow though, even if I have to borrow Paul's computer!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning and Facebook

A few weeks ago I did a little "spring cleaning" on facebook. I deleted around 50 people, mostly acquaintances that I had worked with in college, but that I hadn't spoken to in years. I wasn't planning on doing anything else.

But lately, opening my facebook page was becoming a chore I avoided. Sure I wanted to check to see if I had any messages from my closest friends and from family members, but reading status updates in the "Top News" section was becoming rather disturbing. There was a young man ranting about a young woman he "had not beaten" (she was apparently, from the gist of the post accusing him of this), while his family members and friends threatened her with colorful language in the comments section. There were posts about someone being charged with elder abuse and someone else losing custody of their children (these were accusations flung at each other that made the "Top News"). And then there was just the general profanity.

A quote from a college english professor begins to come to mind whenever I read anything filled with expletives. He said in class one day that whenever he read anything filled with profanity he began to question the writers intellect because he felt they lacked the ability to express themselves in any other way. Now I wouldn't go so far as to question a posters intellect based on a status update, but over the years his words have given me pause. There are far better ways of expressing emotion than resorting to four letter words (particularly the same four letter word over and over again...).

I know that you can block people's posts so they don't show up, but at that point is there really a point in keeping them on your friends list if you've decided you don't want to see anything that they say?

Last night, however, I read something that was the last straw. A "friend" had been involved in a conversation and for whatever reason, facebook decided that it was "top news." As it involved religion my attention was captured and I began to read. By the second comment she had used the words "Catholic" and "Nazis" in the same sentence (as in "the great Christians of the past that fought against the Catholic Church and the Nazis..."). By the end I was ready for a second round of spring cleaning.

I began by thinking: "Wouldn't it be nice if my facebook was filled only with people that I genuinely like? People who don't use the f-word in every sentence or that compare my religion with a regime that committed genocide?" And I started clicking delete. Over and over again.

At the beginning of the month I had 282 friends (or something like that). I ended the night with 121 friends. All of my online/blogging friends made the cut (apparently you Catholic bloggers don't use very much profanity on facebook!). All of my family members made the cut. Most of my family friends made the cut (the woman who made the comment was actually someone I'd grown up going to Church with from my parents' generations...) Lots of teachers made it. And of course my best friends through the years were safe.

And I really like the change.

Now I just need to start spring cleaning in my house...

Friday, March 25, 2011

Daily Dose of Cuteness: Food on Maggie's Outfit

Sadie is very bothered by dirt or messes of any kind (although she loves to make them!). I snapped these three photos yesterday when she was lamenting the fact that Maggie had food on her sleeper:

A Big Day with Big News!

I got a bit distracted last night, first by the combox, then by the dress that I'm sewing (yay! So far so good!) and finally by a two year old who was determined to stay awake (around midnight!). I was determined to be productive however, once the migraine painkillers finally kicked in, but my to-do list was just too long!

I'm back though and have some great news!

First, the Maggie news! Maggie, took a break from learning to walk yesterday and said her first word. Now, whenever she doesn't have my full attention and wants me she can squeal and say "Mama!" and she was delighted to find that it works in capturing everyone's attention!

Now for the other news! No it's not that kind of news (the rumors have already started in our own town as people wait for "that kind" of news!)! It's law school news!

A while back I conducted a poll, which is still in the sidebar to the right. Catholic University topped the poll with 21% of the votes, Saint Louis University came in second with 15%, Ave Maria was at 13% in third place and Boston College was in fourth place with 10%. While we haven't heard back from all the colleges Paul applied to yet, we've heard back from the majority.

The decision isn't official yet (since we're still waiting on a few schools) but my favorite little school in South West Florida sent us a letter yesterday doubling the scholarship that they offered Paul! He had been offered a larger scholarship from another law school and so he had asked that it be matched and they actually beat the other offer (definitely worth it to try to negotiate scholarships for law schools!)!

So I'm very excited about this news! This made my day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Favorite Things (or What I've Been Up To!)

I've been busy making chaplets! I have a to-do list that I can't see the end of because I keep finding chaplets that I want to make! This Saint Michael is one of the latest that I added to my shop!

Very rarely do I design a chaplet and then make one to keep for myself. This one falls under that category!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prayers with Sadie: A Hail Mary

When we pray before bed each night (before the family rosary) I'll say the first part of each verse of a prayer and then she'll usually add the last word. We'll do the sign of the cross, an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be. Sometimes though... Sadie gets creative:

Me: "Hail Mary, Full of..."
Sadie: "Grace!"
Me: "The Lord is with..."
Sadie: "Thee!"
Me: "Blessed art though amongst..."
Sadie: "Wo-Men!"
Me: "And blessed is the fruit of you-"
Sadie: "Jesus!!!!!"
Me: "your womb, Jesus... Holy..."
Sadie: "Baby you're the one!"
Me: "Mary, mother of..."
Sadie: "God"
Me: "Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."
Sadie: "Amen!"

"Spiritually Immature"

A couple of weeks ago someone online told me, after reading my blog, that she found me to be “spiritually immature.” I believe, from what was said, that it all went back to my headcovering series. I managed to keep from firing off a knee jerk response (“I’m not sure calling someone ‘spiritually immature’ is the most ‘mature’ response”).

Instead I took a deep breath and swallowed my pride and admitted that I do have a lot of growing to do. I then asked that she pray for me.

Did I think that she was right on the basis of her comment (my defense of headcovering as a sign of "spiritual immaturity")? No. But was the underlying claim true? Yes. I still have a lot of growing to do! I am spiritually, very much like a toddler, taking shaky steps on unsteady legs, praying that God keeps me upright!

Unsurprisingly this received no response at all (actually, the way the conversation had been headed I wouldn’t have been altogether surprised to receive another snarky comment… so I guess no response may be the best possible end result).

Perhaps that’s why, recently, I’ve noticed online accusations (towards others) of “spiritual immaturity” that got me thinking about what is being said when those words are flung around (or are at least implied).

The words themselves are kind of redundant. Most people, even people who try very hard, aren’t living lives of “heroic virtue.” The vast majority of us aren’t saints (yet). Hopefully we all will be someday. After all, the only tragedy in this life is to not become a saint.

When I hear the accusation, either said in an outright way or implied, my first thought is that while it’s a) not a very nice thing to say, it’s b) probably true and lastly c) possibly says more about the speaker than the listener since saying that someone else is “spiritually immature” gives the speaker an air of superiority that sounds suspiciously like pride.

The basic definition of “immature” is “not fully developed.” So to be spiritually immature is to be not fully developed spiritually. Can any of us make the claim of being fully developed spiritually while on this earth?

It’s hard to develop spiritually in a world where so much emphasis is placed on the physical world and the “importance” of the individual. I often feel like I’m taking baby steps on my journey and slipping and sliding backwards when I lose my temper or say something unkind.

Still I am grateful when my conscience tells me that something is wrong. That sting of conscience is preferable to the silence that this world cultivates when faced with evil.

And prayerfully, through God’s grace, may each of us grow spiritually a little more each day.

Hopefully, as we do, we can find ways to help others on their own journeys towards God, without condescending and pointing out the obvious, which in this case is a struggle that each of us must strive to overcome.

My Growing Girls

While I'm pretty average in height (5'5") I remember thinking of myself as "short" growing up, until the spring and summer before junior high when I suddenly grew something like eight inches (and then stopped!). Even in college though, people usually thought I was younger than my age and at work when asked what year in school I was my response of "sophomore" was often met with "at (fill in the name of a couple local high schools)?"

We're running into the opposite sort of experience with Sadie. When she came into the world, 22 inches long, she was already "tall." The last time I measured she was right at three feet (and that was before Maggie was born!) and I know she's grown... I just haven't gotten her to hold still long enough to measure her.

I didn't realize how tall she was, however, until we were at Mass on Saturday and she walked ahead of me and passed an altar server. She came up to the boy's shoulder. I would guess he was nine or ten... and she is now two and three quarters!

Which brings me to the issue that we run into the most frequently with our little towering two year old...

People think she's much older than she is. It seems that the assumption is that she's four, or maybe five. You really only have to be around her for a few moments to realize that she's much younger, but that doesn't stop frowns and glares when she's squirmy (she's quiet at Mass 95% of the time, just squirmy) that I really don't think she'd get if she were an average sized two year old. After all, the expectations for stillness with a five year old are much higher than for a toddler, but few people seem to realize that she is still a toddler!

In Maggie News: she took six steps pushing her sister's doll stroller on Sunday afternoon and now seems determined to learn how to walk. She keeps standing up and letting go of what she's holding on to (she sometimes raises her arms like a "V" and smiles) and trying to just walk without anything. I can't believe how determined she is!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Home Sweet Home

We braved a storm yesterday to go to Mass. There had been a break in the storm right around the time we had planned on heading out that made us brave enough to give it a try... besides, the weatherman said that the storm wasn't supposed to hit until 11pm and we would be home way before 11pm.

Except that a mudslide hit and then an accident and while we sat there waiting to go through the road status changed to chains... And we were stuck.

So we found a motel and bought some baby food and toothbrushes and settled in for the night.

When we woke up this morning I called and the roads were still closed (for cars without chains or 4 wheel drive). We decided that we would buy cables (our car isn't supposed to use chains... we were hoping that the manual would say cables were okay...) if the roads were still closed once we were ready to go.

Thankfully once we got on the road I called the 800-number again and the road had reopened. We scooted through before it closed again (the storm is raging outside and the mud walls were sliding down with small-ish rock and mud slides all along the road in addition to the snow) and are now home safe and sound.

Mae was particularly relieved. She has a tough time being away from home and when she saw where we were she started zooming around checking to make sure her toys were still here.

And Sadie is glad to be back near her potty. She had a bit of a trauma yesterday with an automatic flushing toilet (I will now mention my loathing for automatic flushing toilets) that set us back a week or so in potty training... We'd been accident free for the most part for over a week...

Now to make pizza for lunch! I am so glad to be home!

Today's picture is a blast from the past! It's over a year old!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sadie Frown of the Week: Bearing False Witness

I just read about one of my favorite high profile priests and found that accusations have been leveled against him and that he has been placed on administrative leave. He vehemently denies the accusations and I believe him (I'm not mentioning his name, although I imagine it will be in the news soon enough, because I don't want to help the slander spread in any way, even in defense of him...). Unfortunately the words of his former employee mean (apparently) that he must be placed on administrative leave while the situation is investigated. As he points out on his own site he is being treated as guilty "just in case" and now must try to "prove" his innocence.

My first thought when I read this horrible news was this: There is a sin I would not want to have to explain to God on judgement day. Seriously. "Hi God, um... remember that time when I bore false witness against a priest who had helped people around the world with his direct, straight forward explanations of the faith? Yeah... I was just... um... kidding?"

Sex abuse is horrible. Yet in a different way, these types of lies, both against clergy and against lay people (often times men who have tried to help their communities and made enemies) can be just as damaging and traumatic. Lives are destroyed. Reputations are lost. Cases drag on for years and years and then, after being dragged through the mud the accused is acquitted with a whisper. After all, an acquittal doesn't quite get the same ratings that some drug addled woman ranting about sex or harassment gets.

Anyone can say anything. And in a society where a premium is placed on getting what we want, instead of doing what is right, telling a little lie for money, or attention or to hurt someone in a position of power that we've decided we don't like, may not seem all that bad anymore.

I'm sure Satan attacked this particular priest from every angle. After all, he's a man who has strengthened the faith and understanding of many. When that didn't work Satan decided on the next best thing: an attempt to discredit his work and all the good that he has done by leading someone weaker into sin.

We should pray for all involved. Maybe Saint Gerard Majella is a good patron saint for this case. He was falsely accused (google him to see how he became the patron saint of expectant mothers) and the woman who accused him finally repented and told the truth. What a sad day...

Murder and Marijuana

Our entire county was shocked by a vicious crime earlier this week. In the beginning, very little was known. We heard that two people had been murdered and that two more had arrived at a local store badly injured. This took place in a little town two and a half hours from the county seat and ended with a police car chase down highway 101 that left the suspect dead.

In our area it's hard not to instantly think of drugs when you hear this sort of thing. In the past twelve months we've heard about fires and kidnappings and it always comes back to the same cause: Marijuana production.

We've spent the last couple of days waiting to hear more information. Tonight the local news was shocking. Here's the story as it was told on the news:

A 911 call came in on Sunday night from a town two and a half hours from the county seat. A law enforcement officer (on the news they said a CHP officer, in other reports they've said sheriff's deputy) called a couple who live out in the rural area and asked them to go over and check on their neighbors. When they arrived they found their neighbors dead, with their throats slit and the killer, who was still in the house attacked the two rescuers with a tazer (to the face) and then slit both of their throats as well. The two who had been sent as rescuers somehow made it to the local store separately, where 911 was called again.

The man was able to give a description of the attacker and his car and later that night law enforcement officers spotted the car and attempted to pull it over. The suspect fled and after a very long chase down highway 101 (which is very curvy and cliffy up here) crashed into a tree and was killed.

Both rescuers have survived. The woman was sent to a University with a slit windpipe and the man was later released from the local hospital.

If you're from our area, there's still a good chance you'd be wondering, after reading about all of this, about the motive (and how drugs, very likely fit into the picture). I lived in Humboldt county when I was growing up (actually in Garberville, the town that the two victims were taken to the hospital in) and I can't view marijuana production and use through rose colored glasses as other bloggers can.

And then the reporter announces the next sentence and it all makes sense:

The suspect was linked to the scene by evidence found in his car, which included marijuana packaged the same way as marijuana found at the scene of the crime.

Of course growers can twist this and say that legalization would have prevented this (because stealing marijuana that was legalized just wouldn't make sense, right? People never steal things that are legally produced just because they don't want to pay for them?) or that it quite simply can't have anything to do with it because marijuana doesn't make people act differently (I'm trying to come up with a more articulate response but "whatever.... keep living in that fantasy world..." is all that really comes to mind). And of course there are the many friends of the suspected murderer on other blogs (that I don't want to link to because they are all about marijuana production) who say he was a gentle giant and never could have done something like this (again not fathoming that drugs can cause major personality changes...).

In other local pot news, we drove by our old apartment the other day and this apartment (which had four small children living in it and people and people who smoked pot outside) had crime scene tape all around it. I'm sure that had "nothing to do with marijuana" either... I just pray those four little kids are okay...

My New (Made By Me) Skirt

Not only is this Day 70 of my Year of Dresses but I made today's skirt last night. It's pretty simple, but I can already tell it's going to be a favorite. I love the length!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Journalists Don't Just Misunderstand the Church...

I just finished reading this article by Dr. Josef Oehmen, a research scientist at MIT. It's really interesting (okay, I was a science and math geek as a kid, so I realize that "interesting" is relative and that what I might find interesting my husband and many [most?] other people would find brain-numbing):
"I repeat, there was and will *not* be any significant release of radioactivity from the damaged Japanese reactors.

By "significant" I mean a level of radiation of more than what you would receive on - say - a long distance flight, or drinking a glass of beer that comes from certain areas with high levels of natural background radiation.

I have been reading every news release on the incident since the earthquake. There has not been one single report that was accurate and free of errors (and part of that problem is also a weakness in the Japanese crisis communication). By “not free of errors” I do not refer to tendentious anti-nuclear journalism – that is quite normal these days. By “not free of errors” I mean blatant errors regarding physics and natural law, as well as gross misinterpretation of facts, due to an obvious lack of fundamental and basic understanding of the way nuclear reactors are build and operated. I have read a 3 page report on CNN where every single paragraph contained an error..."

Read the entire article here.
I'll admit, my first thought when I read the final paragraph was "Wow, that many errors? And the report isn't about the Catholic Church (and more specifically the Vatican?)?" A three page report on CNN where every single paragraph contains an error? I bet we could beat that...

But I digress. The article is, in itself definitely worth reading.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Daily Dose of Cuteness: Rainbows, Spiders and The Sign of the Cross

Daily Dose of Cuteness: A Sadie Quote

Sadie (looks at me very seriously after hearing her sister cry in the other room while she and I were having a special movie night watching a princess movie): "Me Baby Too!" (while pointing at her chest).

She got lots of hugs and cuddles and yes, once, Maggie fell asleep five minutes later (this was two nights ago, not last nights long night!) we did get to finish watching her movie together.

Then there's:

Me: "Who's your favorite princess?"
Sadie: "Holy Baby Princess!"

And also:

Me: "What kind of birthday party are you going to want this year?"
Sadie: "Holy Baby!"
Me: "Not Ru and Lumpy?"
Sadie: "Holy Baby! Holy Baby!"

Hmmmm.... I wonder where you find nun birthday decorations... At least it will be an easy Halloween costume to make...

They Just Won't Sleep!

If Maggie took a bottle I would have thought someone had poured sugar and caffeine into it. Since she doesn't I have no idea what was going on last night. I do know, however, that she and her sister had us parents beat.

Sadie woke up with a scream at 10 pm and in the fifteen seconds it took me to get to the baby room Maggie had joined in the ruckus. So I scooped up Maggie and settled down at the edge of Sadie's bed. Sadie, however, decided pretty quickly that she wanted to be in the big bed and when she realized the answer was no, it was too early, the screaming recommenced. Daddy tried to help, but this was one of those nights where everyone wants Mommy's lap and no one thinks there's enough room for anyone else on it.

I did get them both settled down. Maggie even fell back asleep. But I could see Sadie's little eyes staring at me, waiting for me to try and move. In a desperate move to get Maggie into her crib I whispered: "Maggie's asleep now. Should I put her down in her crib?" In a reasonable voice Sadie said "Yes!" I thought maybe, just maybe, this has a chance at working.

I made it halfway across the (very small) room to the crib before the shriek from Sadie's bed shattered the quiet and woke Maggie back up.

Thus began a stretch of wakefulness that involved Maggie giggling hysterically while bouncing up and down, until even Sadie was ready for her to be asleep and was getting grouchy at being kept awake by her energetic little sister.

I will note that when Sadie woke up at 5am she was much quieter and didn't wake Mae Babe.

In other news Maggie stood up by herself for the first time three days ago and then again yesterday (she did it without holding on to anything the first time and fell backwards into a sitting position... so I think she kind of frightened herself! Last night she gave it another try!).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sad Statistics

I found this horrifying (yet important) post over at The Catholic Key. It's a look at the leading causes of death in New York City in 2008...

"Let’s break it out with some leading causes of death in New York City in 2008:

Cause of Death Number of Deaths
Heart Disease 21,844
Cancer 13,116
Influenza/Pneumonia 2,578
Diabetes 1,708
Stroke 1,669
Deaths by All Causes (excluding abortion) 55,391
Induced Abortions 82,475
The number of people who died from abortion in 2008 in New York City is 149% of the number of people who died from all other causes. Put another way, abortion accounts for 60 percent of all deaths in New York City..."

One Long Night

If you see me today and my eye looks a little bit swollen it's because I got clocked with the fist of a two year and a half year old at 3:30 am last night. She went through a two hour phase where she would almost fall back asleep every fifteen minutes, then she'd drop "Holy Baby" and start flailing and screaming "Holy Baby, Holy Baby" in a terrified voice while flailing about. I'm not sure the punch was an accident because she seemed to think that I was part of the Holy-Baby-snatching-conspiracy. I also became the bad guy when I insisted on having my head our from under the covers instead of having the quilt she'd pulled up flat across my face (and she would check this by reaching over and grab/smacking my face to see if the quilt was there). Needless to say, it was a pretty long night. And that is why my blogging brain is mush at the moment. Sleep deprivation will definitely do that to you.

Now she's sound asleep and I feel like I should wake her up in hopes of getting her back on our normal schedule, but to be honest, I'd rather not face the wrath of my so-not-a-morning-person daughter when she still wants to be asleep and someone is trying to wake her for a reason other than, oh, I don't know, ice cream sundays.

Oh, she's stirring! I'm hoping I don't have a little grouch here after her long night.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sadie and Sister Scholastica

Sadie has a best friend. Her name is Sister Scholastica and she and Sadie are inseparable. As you can probably guess, Sadie hasn't quite mastered the name "Sister Scholastica" but she has dubbed her "Holy Baby" after the DVD and she take Holy Baby with her everywhere.

In fact when Holy Baby isn't with us we know that we're only moments away from potential disaster. Holy Baby is Sadie's lovey. If she notices that we've forgotten Holy Baby somewhere she goes from zero to inconsolable in about five seconds flat.

Maggie has a doll of her own "Baby Bosco" who Sadie calls "Don Bosco!" Sadie thinks that Maggie and Don Bosco should be as inseparable as she and Sister Scholastica are and frequently brings Don Bosco over and tells Maggie his name (usually when Maggie has settled down to nurse). Don Bosco does sit with Maggie in her car seat when we go on drives and he always makes her smile!

In case you're wondering where Sister Scholastica and Baby Bosco are from, they're characters in the Holy Baby DVD series (there are two DVDs: Holy Baby Seven Prayers in Seven Languages and Holy Baby 2 Jesus Loves Me He is the Bread of Life. I purchased these two DVDs after entering a giveaway at Modern Catholic Mom when Sadie was a baby. At the time I thought: I never win anything and I was really impatient to get a DVD designed for Catholic babies (and involving the rosary!) and I ended up ordering the two DVDs and forgetting about the giveaway. A few days later we found out that we had won!

It worked out perfectly, however. We donated two of the DVDs to our parish's library and kept the other two.

In the first Holy Baby DVD, your child will learn the prayers of the rosary (in seven languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Vietnamese and German). In between prayers they watch "Sister Scholastica" pray while a song plays. And then while the prayers are being spoken in the different languages, colorful images are shown on the screen.

Holy Baby 2 is also filled with cheerful music, along with parts of the Mass. The girls have only recently started watching Holy Baby 2 so Baby Bosco might be gaining popularity with Sadie soon (I'll have to make sure she doesn't steal her sister's doll too!).

Lately the Holy Baby DVDs have been a lifesaver. If I need to fix a quick dinner and the girls are particularly rambunctious I can pop one of the two DVDs into the DVD player and silence instantly falls over the house. Maggie will giggle and Sadie will grab Sister Scholastica and collapse on the couch with a huge smile.

Sadie loves counting the number of items in each picture (there are three nuns in a statue so she says "one, two, three!" and giggles) and naming Mary whenever a statue comes onto the screen that depicts Our Lady. She's also making the sign of cross frequently throughout the day and sat on my lap before Mass yesterday helping me "learn" how to make the sign. Two days ago we were looking at a book and she pointed to Our Lady of Guadalupe and said "Mary!" When I asked her who Mary is she said "Mother of Jes! Mother of God!" in an enthusiastic voice (she can't quite say "Jesus" yet).

This DVD is helping our girls learn the prayers that we say every night in our family rosary and is helping them be excited about them! And I don't feel bad about letting them watch it when I have something that I really need to get done because they're learning prayers and parts of the Mass! To top it all off, seeing Sadie walking around with a little nun doll (in a habit!) always brings a smile to my face! Especially when she bursts out singing: "Holy Baby, You're the One!"

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Future of the Internet

I write a monthly article for a local political journal and while exploring the options for this month’s piece I stumbled across a small story (that I can’t find now!) that said that the Obama administration was pressuring a group called ICANN, who controls Internet domain names to hand control of the whole domain name process over to the United Nations. The story was instantly alarming.

I began to turn the arguments that would be inherent in such a situation over in my head. Which would be preferable? Would it be better to have governments, with their own agendas and issues with censorship and free speech, controlling domain names? Or would it be better to have a private company (although ICANN is a non-profit) holding the reins?

I have to say that as encroachment on religious rights becomes the norm (Catholic colleges can’t opt out of providing abortion coverage? And there’s the ever present threat the stating Christian beliefs may soon be classified as “hate speech…”) I am exceedingly uncomfortable with the idea of any government controlling the Internet in this way. So I set out to learn what ICANN does and what is really happening at the moment.

When I first began my search I found a bunch of old conspiracy theory sites. Then I found a Time article and from there was able to launch a much more effective search and find answers to my questions. First off, in layman terms, what does ICANN do? Here’s the answer (I tried to simplify it!):

One of ICANN’s jobs is to ensure that the internet has stable and secure identifiers. They coordinate the domain names system (DNS) and numeric addresses that are used to reach computers who are online. These DNS names help users find what they’re looking for online. Each computer has an IP address, but these IP addresses are long strings of numbers. A DNS allows familiar letters to be used instead of numbers and that is what a domain name is. So instead of typing in 9 numbers, you type in to get to my blog.

Five years ago the US government renewed ICANN’s contract to continue with this job for another five years. This fall, the contract is up and there are many people who would like to see this job turned over to the UN. Here’s an important quote from the article:
"Last month the U.S. circulated a proposal that would have essentially given world governments a veto over any new proposed TLD “for any reason.” That proposal was ultimately softened under public pressure, but the Obama Administration continues to place pressure on ICANN to give governments more say over its policy decisions. If it's too principled about free expression, the logic goes, ICANN and the U.S. may face overwhelming pressure to cede authority to the UN."
One of the reasons foreign powers are pressuring the turnover is because they feel that the US could use the US based company to unfairly control the internet. An example of one of these worries in action is shown in an article in the Washington Post in this way: Say the US decides Syria is misbehaving and decides to use ICANN to retaliate. They could, theoretically, use Syria’s country code domain (which you’d see at the end of Syrian websites) to direct people to freedom of expression sites.

At this point the commerce department worries that a large number of foreign countries are going to lobby the U.N. to take control of the system. And the International Telecommunications Union, a 145- year old agency of nearly 200 nations and Territories, is eager to take over.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the entire situation is the anti-ICANN quotes that I found attached to many articles. There is certainly a movement demanding that ICANN step aside so that other nations can decide through “consensus” what is appropriate and what is not. This makes me very uncomfortable. This “democratic” process could easily be used to control the speech of dissenters across the political spectrum. I find that to be incredibly troubling.

And that is one of the main reasons I hope that ICANN does end up successfully renewing their contract this September. I’d rather see a “too principled” company allowing free expression online, regardless of what opinion is being voiced, than have the countries of the world deciding by consensus which voices shouldn’t be heard.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Critical Mass

Here's another great video from the vortex. In a time when too many think the Mass is about "us" instead of God, it is certainly timely:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nursing and Fasting: Just Don't Do It!

Every year I see the question come up on the Catholic forums. Are nursing and/or pregnant mothers excused from the fast? There is always immediately a flurry of responses. For the most part they are filled with common sense. But then the encouragement starts... as in "I'm nursing and I'm fasting and I still have a ton of milk. You should do it too." These answers worry me (more on that below). Anyways here is the formal answer to whether or not we're required to fast, which will be followed by my own experience with the matter:
"Those who are excused from fast or abstinence Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline."

From EWTN's Fasting and Abstinence
Now many of us can give up meat. I know that, as I design my food schedule on a budget, we have plenty of days that, unintentionally, don't include meat. And since eggs and dairy products are allowed, it's pretty easy to get adequate protein in other ways (we tried Greek Yogurt recently, I believe it was Yoplait, and it had something like 13 g of protein! It's hard to beat that in anything! And for those worried about health it has 0g of fat! And it was tasty!).

Fasting, however, is an entirely different thing. And the mentality that many of us can fall into can be dangerous. We may think "well she's only nursing x number of time a day... How much can one day of fasting in a week (two during this first week) really affect my milk supply." For some, rare women, it may not be much. But for many of us, the result would be dramatic.

When Sadie was almost one I thought I'd be okay "cutting back" on Ash Wednesday. She was eating a lot of baby foods and while she still nursed quite a bit I didn't think that one day would really affect my milk supply all that much. Besides, I told myself, I would still eat two small meals and one big meal. I wouldn't be doing the whole bread and water thing. Really the main difference was that I was cutting out snacks.

I was fine all day and so was my milk supply. Then it was bedtime and I was faced with a very hungry baby. And suddenly it was gone. I had no milk. And I had a baby who lay next to be and sobbed herself to sleep.

It took over a day for my milk supply to return to normal. And in that time I had a miserable, hungry, cranky baby and a dribbling supply of milk that slowly returned as I ate.

You may be able to nurse and fast. But there's a good chance you may not. And why would anyone want to risk finding out? I think we can all agree that the babe in our arms isn't included in the fast.

Sure, some little bit of pride in the back of my head tells me I can fast every single year. After all, I'm only nursing... well let's see... six.... or seven times a day... and Maggie gets a lot of her food from baby food these days... I tell that tiny thought to be quiet. It's not what's best for my baby. And that is the important thing.

There's very likely plenty of time in the future for fasting. For now, if you're a nursing mom, accept your exemption and know that sometimes it's harder not to fast when everyone else is fasting and you'd really like to join them (aren't we an odd bunch! Really, wanting to fast?).

Besides, there are many of substitutes we can make. Give up the internet (okay, I'm not doing this, but I've heard of brave souls who do!). Or your cell phone (that would be easy for me... I'm always forgetting mine. I haven't seen it in two weeks although I suspect it's dead at the bottom of my diaper bag). Or television! There are lots of sacrifices we can make that don't affect the well-being of our children.

Just pick something that has become a distraction in your life and see how the next forty days go without it!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Sweater Question!

I'm going to post this particular post on both blogs since I'm asking for opinions (and kind of wincing as I wait for responses!). I knit a lot and have for quite a while. And while I churned out lots of things for other people and the babies, I never actually made a sweater for myself.

Shortly after I found out I was pregnant with Maggie I began this sweater. I planned on wearing it for Christmas when I was a few months pregnant and worked on it all the way to my grandmother's memorial service (a 8 hour drive) and all the way back (and quite a bit during other times too). I designed it in my head. And then I just started knitting the picture that I had in my mind's eye (I tried to write down the pattern but I'm not very good with sticking to writing down what I'm doing when I'm in the knitting zone!). I ended up finishing the front and the back and one and a half arms. Then I just gave up.

I'm not exactly sure how it happened. I was almost finished. I was in the home stretch. But then it got put away somewhere and I just didn't pick it up again. I was off on other projects and it was nearly forgotten on my knitting needles.

I found it the other day and started back up. I finished the last arm by matching it up to the one that was already done. Then I began sewing it together (the body itself was already done! All I needed was the arms!). I put on the body first and Paul told me I looked like a celtic tavern wench at a renaissance fair (Thanks honey!). After I put the sleeves on he was rather non-committal in his answers of how it looked.

So I'm turning to you guys. I think it's okay as a maternity sweater (I love short maternity sweaters). And I'm leaning towards putting it away until it's time to bring it out as a maternity sweater. At the same time I really want to wear it now! It's finally finished! But would it look weird as a non-maternity sweater (I am going to add a front closure to it. I'm leaning towards a narrow strand of ribbon that would tie together on the inside of the front center part)?

Now I will brace for the opinions in the comment section.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Daily Dose of Cuteness: A Sadie Quote

Sadie's version of row row row the boat: "Row, row the boat down the stream. Mary, Mary walks by, a Dream!"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Headcovering: An Everyday Cover

I'm taking a quick break from explaining why I cover and why it's important to me, to give a little practical covering advice that has worked well for me. At Mass I usually where a mantilla, although I've gone through various phases, from the Hat-Phase to the Snood-Phase to the Mantilla-Phase.

And like a couple of you have mentioned in the comment section, in the last year and a half when I felt the call to cover, I felt the call to cover all the time. You see I wanted to be covered when I prayed and when I went about my day as a reminder to serve God. It made sense to me that I would cover all the time...

... So I tried it for a while with snoods. The reaction I met with was hard...

Women particularly were openly hostile. And not just towards me. Their hostility was particularly directed towards my husband. Women who'd always talked to him at work would now glare as they walked by.

That was the main reason I left off covering after less than a month. Lately I've been experimenting with different types of covering. You'll notice in a lot of the pictures about half of my hair (in the back) is usually up in a scarf. That doesn't seem to bother people nearly as much.

Anyways, I snapped a few pictures yesterday showing how to tie a scarf in the way I usually wear it. It can be worn up, as it is when I first tie it, or pushed back to cover half of your hair. The scarf in the picture doesn't work very well up because it's so slippery, but some of the matte finish scarfs I have will stay up quite well.

And now, here's one way to tie a scarf:

Fold the scarf into a triangle and place on your head as shown:

Pull towards the back of your neck so it covers as much hair as you'd like it to cover.

Cross the ends in the back under your hair (I've only tried this with a bun).

Pull ends up and cross over the top of the bun.

Cross again under the bun, you can do this with the back free as in the picture below or...

You can tuck the ends (the bottom of the triangle) under the part your crossing so that it's fitted to your bun.

Tie in a loose knot.

The final result:

And shown pulled back to cover half of your hair.

Now as long as the bunnies don't spend all night awake, hopefully I'll be back to my regular scheduled headcovering explanation very soon!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Headcovering: A Requirement?

Back when I first threw my hat into the ring in the headcovering debate, I am embarrassed to admit that I took a hard line. It was a very reactive stance. I would see online debates on headcovering and for the most of part, those of us who did cover our heads were outnumbered. We’d be called proud and hateful and the knee jerk reaction was to prove that we were right. Proving that one is right doesn’t always bring out the most charitable response, and unfortunately that was the case for both sides in many of these debates.

Fast forward to the present. I’ve been covering since Sadie was born (that was the deadline I set for myself after about a year of thinking about it because I was so nervous about what others would think…), which means it’s been a little over two and a half years. I no longer give much thought to what others think when I walk in with a hat or a snood or a chapel veil, because my hands are, quite literally, full with a toddler and an infant who both think that they should be sitting on Mommy’s lap and are ready to fight it out for that prized seat.

I first became interested in headcovering after I heard the story of how it ended as a requirement. Many of us already know the story. Here it is in a nutshell: A prelate, usually identified as Annibale Bugnini, emerges from the second Vatican Council to a crowd of reporters. A female reporter in the crowd asks him what they’ve decided about headcovering in the Church. He replies that they didn’t even speak of it. She runs the story that the Church no longer requires women to veil. It’s really yet another example of the media misunderstanding a Church officials statement. And in the aftermath of the lie, women stop wearing their veils.

Fast forward a couple decades: When the 1983 Code of Canon law came out it didn’t mention headcovering.

Now there’s much debate over what this means. I’ve heard good arguments on both sides. I tend to accept that it’s no longer required, because I do believe it’s an issue that shouldn’t be forced (more on that when I explain why I cover).

If I hadn’t felt called to cover I imagine that I would have resented being made to wear something (at least I would have early on in my conversion) and it could have easily become an obstacle rather than an aid during Mass.

So I went searching for answers to the question of “whether headcovering is required.” I’d found many good arguments for headcovering. I was looking for the other side of the story (and I wanted it to be a side that wasn’t written by angry feminists with an anti-Church agenda). I knew it had to be out there, but since the people who do most of the writing on this subject seem to be pretty passionate about it, I had a hard time finding what I was looking for initially. Then I stumbled across Inter Insigniores, which was written by Paul VI to address the ordination of women (the veil merits a brief mention):

"But it must be noted that these ordinances, probably inspired by the customs of the period, concern scarcely more than disciplinary practices of minor importance, such as the obligation imposed upon women to wear a veil on their head (1 Cor 11:2-16); such requirements no longer have a normative value. However, the Apostle's forbidding of women to speak in the assemblies (1 Cor 14:34-35; 1 Ti, 2:12) is of a different nature, and exegetes define its meaning in this way: Paul in no way opposes the right, which he elsewhere recognizes as possessed by women, to prophesy in the assembly (1 Cor 11:15); the prohibition solely concerns the official function of teaching in the Christian assembly. For Saint Paul this prescription is bound up with the divine plan of creation (1 Cor 11:7; Gen 2:18-24): it would be difficult to see in it the expression of a cultural fact. Nor should it be forgotten that we owe to Saint Paul one of the most vigorous texts in the New Testament on the fundamental equality of men and women, as children of God in Christ (Gal 3:28). Therefore there is no reason for accusing him of prejudices against women, when we note the trust that he shows towards them and the collaboration that he asks of them in his apostolate."
I actually included a little more of this text than was necessary because I thought the entire paragraph contained pretty important information. But to avoid getting too sidetracked I’ll continue with my observations and research on headcovering.

I think one of the reasons I was pleased to find an encyclical explaining that headcovering is optional is that I would hate to see it as a stumbling block to anyone considering coming home to the Church and I know that it very well could be.

To avoid writing an extremely long post on this subject I’m going to break up this post by topic. You’ve just finished the first post: Headcovering: A Requirement? And the answer that I believe is true is that it is not. It’s beautiful and lovely and it has added to my life immensely. For that reason I would enthusiastically recommend it to anyone. But it is not required. And no one should be made to feel guilty for following their conscience on this particular issue. Quite simply the Church has not taught that it is required in our time. So it’s not.

Now that we’ve talked a little about what headcovering isn’t, I’d like to take a look at what it is and why women, myself included, cover (although I have a feeling I’ll address some of the myths tossed around about headcovering in another post!).

Is it a little crazy that I spent so much time explaining how something that I think is wonderful isn't required? Maybe it is. But now we can look at how, while it isn't required, it is still wonderful.