Wednesday, July 29

Wordless Wednesday: Fancy Gap

We drive past Fancy Gap, VA, every time we go to Florida.  It's gorgeous, and the morning we left for vacation, it was foggy, which only added to the beauty.  More from vacation here.

Saturday, July 25

It Looked Lovely, I'm Sure

My parents have a pool with an eight-foot deep end, and the first night we were in Florida, my girls went swimming before dinner.  Big Girl saw that my mother had come out to check on them, and she waved at her and yelled, "Hey, Grandma!  Watch me to a handstand in the deep end!"

She dove under water, then came back after a few moments and cried, "TAH DAH!!!!"

Friday, July 24

Extra Picture

I really like this statue outside of Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine.  It's from France, originally made in the 1700's, and stands in the Rosary Garden.  Gazing at it while reciting the Hail, Holy Queen is quite the experience.

Seven Quickies: Back from Vacation Edition

Hello, Quick-Takers!  Thanks to Jen for being just the bestest hostess ever.  :)

Here we go!
  1. Our family was on vacation last week.  It was HEAVENLY.  My parents like to take their grandchildren on vacations, and normally, Travel Man and I stay home, work, and squeeze in a date.  This time, we decided to take a vacation at the same time.  Alone.  I don't need to tell you that this was a really nice treat.  We saved up, set a budget, and stayed within it.  We ate out, we lounged by the pool, we visited family and friends in the Orlando area, and generally relaxed.  Oh, did I mention the reading?  Yeah, baby!  

    We did decidedly non-touristy things, too, which meant very low-key outings when we had them.  We visited Leu Gardens, which I lived a mere 20 miles from for close to 15 years and never went to.  We took the tour of Butler Chain of Lakes, too.  It was really neat.  And I took a gazillion pictures, especially of the flowers at Leu Gardens.  By the time Friday rolled around, and I knew the girls would be back with Mom and Dad, I was completely ready to see them again and to go home.  Perfect.  

    Did I mention we went to Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine?  We did.  :)

  2. While on vacation, I read Orwell's 1984.  It's much more frightening than I remember it to be (way back in 1984).  Depressing, too.  I noticed something that kind of escaped my attention back then: there is no God to the people of Oceania, unless you count Big Brother.  Religion is mentioned only in passing, when speaking of the past when capitalists and priests were so oppressive.  But everything there seemed to be a twisting of the Truth - a twisting of Catholicism - right down to the "sex is only for making babies and that's it and don't have any fun at it" mentality.

    I also noticed that the people were quite accepting of the bread and circuses they were fed daily by the telescreen in their homes and the telescreens in the streets.  (The constant noise was one dehumanizing method, and I believe the Church has spoken many times on the need for quiet reflection and mental rest.  In other words, silence.)  I couldn't help but think about how noisy our world is - noisy to the point that our minds cannot rest or settle on a single topic or thought for more than a fleeting moment.

  3. The soothing balm I read next was Father Elijah, which, while it's apocalyptic, still has the Church leading her children in those times, even under persecution.  Orwell didn't see the Church surviving, but Catholics know that "the gates of Hell cannot prevail against it."  So while it was an end-times book, it was one with great hope in it.  

  4. The other soothing balm - or even the key to avoiding Orwell's frightening world - is the new encyclical.  You know, even if you're not Catholic, the encyclicals are wonderful lessons.  The Holy Father writes them for everyone, not just Catholics - and, Catholics, not just for the clergy!  I'm working my way through the encyclical, albeit slowly, and highlighting as I go.  I've avoided reading much of anything about it, and I am also avoiding reading it to verify what I believe.  I am certain that I am going to learn something here and have to change my viewpoint to fit what the Holy Father teaches here.  And that is why I'm reading it as a Catholic - not a Republican or a conservative or a capitalist.  If you read it, you should do the same.  Read it with an open mind.  (I'd suggest doing that with any encyclical, but Justice and Peace stuff is especially important in that way.  We cannot look to it for the condemnation of our perceived enemies, only for the condemnation of our own flawed beliefs.)

  5. Speaking of learning, we're gearing up to write out lesson plans for the coming school year.  I'm going to be getting Big Girl's books and lessons in the next week, and I've already got Little Girl's.  I finally decided to just go back to set curricula to help me keep my sanity and to keep them on a decent academic track.  Yes, I know my final goal is Heaven, not Harvard, but at the same time, I must do justice to their schooling.  It's my vocation - not the Apple stuff - and I am expected by Someone to do a good job.  My girls are, quite frankly, smarty-pants kids.  I don't want to waste that with crummy schooling when they are capable of much more.  Until we're done with Baby Step 2 and well on the way with Baby Step 3, I need help with having my lessons ready-to-go.  

    One other nice thing is that Travel Man (who is not traveling as much) wants to teach each girl one subject - their choice - as well as work on a unit on Knights and the Crusades.  I'm not unaware that I am truly blessed by God when it comes to my spouse.  Not only does he "allow" the homeschooling, he supports it and participates.  I know plenty of women who either don't homeschool because their husbands say no or who homeschool under duress because their husbands think it's not right.  It's a shame, and I thank God all the time for my wonderful husband.  (Sometimes I think that if anyone is working off their Purgatorial time here on earth, it's him.)

  6. Can I show off a bit?  I got a camera for Christmas, and I've got some pictures that I'm kind of proud of that I'd like to share.  You can see more (gradually, as Flickr lets me upload to my free account) here.  I also put them up at MobileMe, and you can see them here (in case Flickr is stingy with that free account).  In case you're wondering, I haven't retouched these pictures at all.


  7. Video time!  :)  I like leaving that as my last item, so here's something to watch this fine Friday afternoon.  (I have to say that I was on vacation when this happened, so this is the only news I have seen on the pope's meeting with our president.)

Monday, July 20

Not the Kind of iMac iLike

At The Corner on National Review Online, Rich Lowry links to a post on NRO's new health-care blog, which contains this bit:

The president has decided — just days before the deadline he himself set for passage of health-care bills in both chambers of Congress — that he wants to create a new and very powerful executive branch agency, the Independent Medicare Advisory Council (IMAC), which would be accountable only to him and have the authority to re-write the Medicare program from top to bottom by executive memo.  Now that’s audacious.

Power grab after power grab, and he shoves it all down our throats so fast we barely have time to object before he's got some new power-grab in the works.

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Tuesday, July 7

Change Your View

Carl Anderson, Worthy Knight, has some words for us to remember as we read the Holy Father's New encyclical, which teaches us about Catholic Social Justice (or, specifically, charity - love).  In an article found at Headline Bistro, we see that Anderson lives up to his title of Worth Supreme Knight:

Pope's new encyclical asks us to re-examine foundation of the economy:

"'Commentators,' Anderson says, 'should avoid trying to analyze the pope’s document from their own perspectives or through a political lens. Pope Benedict XVI's comments in this encyclical, like his writing on the economy previously, concern the need for an ethical underpinning in order for any economic system to be sustainable. An ethical underpinning to economic systems must transcend politics.'

Another reaction that Anderson warns against is reading the encyclical and then 'asking not how it validates our worldview.' Instead, he suggests asking how one's worldview should change in response to the document." [all emphasis added -ed.]

This is important for everyone to remember - not just Catholics who lean to the Left politically OR Catholics who lean to the Right.

I have only printed off the encyclical so far, and will most likely be reading it on vacation, but I'm really looking forward to it.  If you haven't read the Holy Father's other encyclicals, please click through below and check them out.  Yes, I mean non-Catholic readers, too.  There is so much for us all to learn from Pope Benedict XVI!

* Deus Caritas Est (On Christian Love - God is Love)

* Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope)

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No...not the Wells Fargo Wagon...

"Caritas in veritate"


How Can It Be?

My baby turns eight today!  

Instead of a little girl, Little Girl is becoming a big girl.  

It's hard to believe sometimes.

Friday, July 3

Congressional Motors New Car

Okay, I almost wish I could add to that Seven Quick Takes post I have, but here...

Seven Quickies: Independent Edition

Thanks to Jen, who is the wonderful hostess for Seven Quick Takes Friday.

  1. My baby is turning eight on Sunday.  EIGHT!  When I look at her, snaggle-toothed and all, I realize that she is growing up fast.  Really fast.  Gone is ALL baby fat, and entering is this beautiful girl, graceful and tall.  Holy cow.  Travel Man says he's in big trouble with our two girls.  Beautiful, confident, poised ... we're awfully proud of them.  They're just growing up so fast.  

  2. Speaking of growing up, did I mention that Big Girl is getting a figure?  Yeah, I noticed it earlier than Travel Man, who saw her in her bathing suit earlier in the summer and reacted with much distress.  (Okay, not much distress, but that sounded better in my head that way.)  I looked into Theology of the Body for Teens, but she is SO not ready for some of the subject matter there.  Lesson one of that got right into "My friend said she 'did it' with her boyfriend and he doesn't call her," and "He said he'd love me more if we had sex."  Yeah...I need help, but that's still above where we are.  She's not even 11 yet!  But I do need to start in on more things from TOB, and I am afraid that I am learning as we go, too.  Studying for me is in order this summer.

  3. By the way, in case you were wondering, I have no solid position on the Christopher West hubub.  I think he was not careful enough to measure his wording in that interview - he should have known that they'd be selective and crop things and twist them to make it more sensational - but I also am certain that he is not perfect when it comes to teaching on Pope John Paul II's lessons.  No one is.  So I'll take what's good about it and use it, and borrow from plenty of other sources (including the enormous Theology of the Body book I have with all of the pope's discussions).  Plus, I'll be praying for help and guidance on the whole thing.  After all, I never learned about it before, and I certainly know that the world is trying to teach everyone the molecular opposite of TOB.  God has a much better plan for our lives, including our sex lives, than the world.  The big challenge is helping my children understand it better than I did (or do).

  4. I am counting down days until my vacation.  The girls go on a trip with my parents and their cousins ("Grandma and Pa Pa Vacation") at least once a year, and this year, Travel Man and I are going to take a week off at the same time and have a vacation, too!  (Usually, we send the girls off and work while they're gone.)  We've had weekends alone, but not a whole week since our tenth anniversary - nearly six years ago.  So the girls will be going to Pompano Beach, FL, and we'll be in Orlando.  We're hoping to have lunch or dinner with family and friends in the area a couple times, take a day to visit Leu Gardens, and mostly laze about the pool with stacks and stacks of books.  ahhhhhh... relaxation!

  5. Travel Man and I watched Office Space last night.  He found it on DVD with a digital copy at Sam's for under $6.  I have only watched it once before, maybe twice, and it seems to be longer than then approximately 90 minutes.  It's a very odd film.  Very.  Maybe I just don't get it because I've never been cubicle bound.  I do, on the other hand, relate to the flair thing.  (I worked for Friday's for nearly five years.)  I did get a kick out of the old computers, though.  I guess working with them so much for the last year has given me an appreciation of how far they've come.  Old Compaq's with 3.5" floppy drives and Word Perfect.  Niiiiice.  The scene where he's trying to shut down at the end of the day on Friday cracks me up.  I remember that...waiting to get back to DOS so you can turn off the computer.  

  6. Our family has been saying the Rosary together each day since coming back from the IHM conference.  We've only missed two days in the two weeks since then, but it's been really nice.  Time well spent.  Once this is comfortable, I might see about adding some of the Liturgy of the Hours.  (Shhhhh...I haven't told Travel Man that part yet.)  But we do light candles and turn on a CD of chant (from the same Carmelites that bring you what The Anchoress rightly calls "Liquid Crack": Mystic Monk Coffee).  

  7. It's video time!  How about these for your Independence Day weekend?

    More reading for Independence Day:
Have a safe and blessed weekend!

Thursday, July 2

Grieving Jackson Fans 'Commit Suicide' - Yahoo! News UK

Okay, let's start by saying that this is probably bunk (about the suicides), but I wanted to point out a quote from a so-called "minister."  First the link:

Grieving Jackson Fans 'Commit Suicide' - Yahoo! News UK

Now the quote:

Jesse Jackson, a friend of the singer, has recorded a YouTube film on the site urging fans not to "self destruct".
He said: "This is a time when hearts are heavy. There is great pain but great cause to celebrate Michael's life.
"It made Michael happy saying 'We Are The World'. Don't self destruct.
"We fall down sometimes, we get back up. That's the right thing to do. In Michael's name let's live together as brothers and sisters and not die apart as fools."

Does anyone seriously think that Jesse Jackson is a Christian minister when he talks this way?  "In Michael's name"? 

"In Michael's name:"?

In Which I Agree With ... Helen Thomas??

Get up off the floor.  It's true.  Kathryn Lopez has the story at The Corner:

( - Following a testy exchange during today’s briefing with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas told that not even Richard Nixon tried to control the press the way President Obama is trying to control the press.

“Nixon didn’t try to do that,” Thomas said. “They couldn’t control (the media). They didn’t try.

“What the hell do they think we are, puppets?” Thomas said. “They’re supposed to stay out of our business. They are our public servants. We pay them.”

Um... I can't say that I didn't see this coming.  But at least some of the press is waking up a bit.

Here's the rest.  It is completely worth reading, especially her sparring with Gibbs.  Fantastic!

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Wednesday, July 1

We're Adopting This Form of Healthcare...Why?

I came across this article via Headline Bistro: Editorials, Political Cartoons, and Polls from Investor's Business Daily -- Canada's Single-Prayer Health Care

"Infant mortality rates are often cited as a reason socialized medicine and a single-payer system is supposed to be better than what we have here. But according to Dr. Linda Halderman, a policy adviser in the California State Senate, these comparisons are bogus.
As she points out, in the U.S., low birth-weight babies are still babies. In Canada, Germany and Austria, a premature baby weighing less than 500 grams is not considered a living child and is not counted in such statistics. They're considered 'unsalvageable' and therefore never alive.
Norway boasts one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world — until you factor in weight at birth, and then its rate is no better than in the U.S.
In other countries babies that survive less than 24 hours are also excluded and are classified as 'stillborn.' In the U.S. any infant that shows any sign of life for any length of time is considered a live birth.
A child born in Hong Kong or Japan that lives less than a day is reported as a 'miscarriage' and not counted. In Switzerland and other parts of Europe, a baby is not counted as a baby if it is less than 30 centimeters in length."

Do click through for the whole thing.  It's worth reading.  

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It's All About Power

Government for the people, of the people, by the people.

Government over the people, consisting of power, by the elite. 

Court refuses to allow D.C. vote on gay marriage

Why on earth would we let the unwashed masses make decisions about the laws which govern their lives?  

(Still can't post on the Soccer Mom Blog, so I've got politics bleeding over here where I usually do not.)

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Who are your heros?


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