Tuesday, June 30

Live Action Films: Undercover #7

Still can't post to the Catholic Soccer Mom blog.  VERY odd.  Until Blogger fixes this weird problem (I'm not the only one having it), I'm going to post this here.  It's from Live Action Films, and it's the seventh video in this series.

This was the sixth video, in case you missed it:

More on Live Action Films' Mona Lisa Project:

Planned Parenthood clinics across the country are contributing to the abuse of young girls.

The Mona Lisa Project videos document Planned Parenthood's willingness to repeatedly violate mandatory reporting laws for statutory rape that protect children.

Our series of hidden camera investigations, collected by a team led by Lila Rose in summer 2008, provide the public the inside story about the abortion industry and its abuses across the nation. Despite a consistent pattern of lawlessness and abuse, Planned Parenthood receives over $330 million from taxpayers each year. The tax-exempt "nonprofit" netted $100 million in net income last year including revenue of over $100 million directly from performing 305,000 abortions.

We hope that our project will lead to prosecution and reforms at Planned Parenthood so that their business practices will be forced to comply with governing laws that protect young girls.

The Mona Lisa Project

One more thing you'll want to see on their homepage: an interactive map that shows violations they've documented from around the country.  Here's a screenshot, but please click over and see it for yourself.

Real Men Don't Have Debt

The Art of Manliness is wrapping up their month-long "Be a Better Man" series today, but nearly a week ago, they had a great article on reducing debt.  If you missed it, go back and check it out!

30 Days to a Better Man Day 25: Start a Debt Reduction Plan | The Art of Manliness

Monday, June 29

Prognostication in Film

I was going to do this at the Soccer Mom blog, but I can't seem to get to it for some reason.  Strange.


Last night, Travel Man and I watched Network, on a recommendation from The Anchoress.  She was commenting on the absolute circus going on around Michael Jackson's death.  I mean, the UN passed a resolution that requires the US to pay a certain percentage of our GDP to them, the Sentate approved a legal advisor to the administration that believes that international law should be considered when interpreting the United States Constitution, and the House of Representatives passed a massive bill that even the administration hasn't read completely.  (It went from 900 to 1200 pages overnight, then from 1200 to 1500 in an afternoon.  And I'm looking for the video of an administration official on Fox and Friends this morning; she admitted that she'd read "large portions" of the bill.  The question was "Have you read the whole 1000+ page bill?"  Her answer - several times - was, "I've read large portions of it," or, "I've read large swaths of it.")  This bill will effectively increase everyone's energy costs with cap-and-trade taxes.  (I'd give you more links than this, but I CANNOT FIND much of anything, especially on the UN resoltion.)

And what is the media doing for at least two solid days?  Hanging out in Gary, Indiana, by Michael Jackson's boyhood home.  Hanging out near his ranch.  Gawking at people in Harlem having candle-lit vigils of sorts by theaters.  Giving us live feeds from the hospital where people are crowding in the parking lots because they're so heartbroken over Jackson's death.  

Because we know how important all this is in relation to what's going on.

Mind you, I don't mind the mention of it, or even an update, but the live-feeds and interviews with every person who knew him or imitated him or listened to a record of his...it's ridiculous.  Jonah Goldberg summed things up nicely.

This was a complete coincidence, but this week's lesson in The Great Adventure Bible Study was about 1Samuel, and in it, we see Israel asking for a king.  They didn't ask for him for any reason except that they wanted to be just like everyone else.  Even when Samuel tells them the trouble a king will bring them, their answer is, "YAY!  GIVE US A KING!"  

During the DVD lesson we watched before Mass yesterday, Dr. Jeff Cavins commented about kings.  You see, the Lord God was King of Israel at this point in history.  Samuel knew that, and was more than a bit perturbed by Israel's "follow the crowd" mentality.  And today, Christians acknowledge Jesus Christ (the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) as King of kings.  Catholics have a feast day just to proclaim this fact: Christ the King.  So during his discussion of this passage, Dr. Cavins said, "Michael Jackson is not a king.  Elvis is not a king," and then went on to discuss what seems to be this need we have for royalty.  What's neat is that the Catholic Church has this kind of hierarchy built right in; we even call our bishops "princes of the Church."  

But back to Network.

The movie was really fascinating.  I'd never watched it before, but have wanted to for years now.  And it is absolutely prescient!  I suppose if I'd have watched this when it came out (fat chance: I was six) or even a few years ago, I would have scoffed that the news would be such a thing.  

But no more.

What is really amazing is how far into this vision we already are.  How much the news, especially with a 24 hour news cycle, has become bread and circuses.  It's entertainment!  It's exciting!  It FASCINATING!  And in an ever-increasing push to gain more ratings, more viewers, a bigger market share, the news is looking less like this:

And more like this (WANRING: language alert!!):

You doubt?  Really?  How about this:

Now, I like Glenn Beck, but he is (or, at least, has become) a milder version of Howard Beale.  And watching Network has only put me off the news channels a little bit more than they were doing on their own, what with the days-on-end coverage about the death of a pop singer and the constant fiddling while Rome burns mentality.

It's all bread and circuses, and good luck finding out what's actually happening in the world.

(WANRINGlanguage alert!!)
(WANRINGlanguage alert!!)

Friday, June 26

Jeepers, people! When someone dies, you go to church. Not a theater, not the double-wide he grew up in, not Times Square. You go to church & pray.

Seven Quickies!

Thanks, as always, to Jen for hosting.  (She's got a linky-thingy to more Seven Quick Takes, by the way, and I'm sure most of them will be more interesting than mine.  Go!  Read!)

Here we go:

  1. The weather has finally warmed up enough for swimming, and the girls are taking full advantage.  They actually jumped in one morning when it was still 71 degrees, and I had to put my phone on hold, go outdoors, and tell them to get the heck out until it's at least closer to 80!  Goofy kids.

    Anyway...they're hoping I get in soon, but I'm such a wimp.  I like my pool water to be at least 84, you know?  

    Updated as I get ready to post: And, hey, I hear them out there now.  They didn't tell me, but I can hear the splashing at ... 10:30 and 75 degrees.  Yeah...I think I'll get them indoors now.

  2. I had a wonderful time at the IHM conference, and Little Girl's curriculum has already arrived.  Now I just need to order Big Girl's materials, and I can sit and write lessons out in plan books for them.  Both girls are excited about the new books and going with curricula again, especially Big Girl.  For her, we've decided to go with CHC, and she likes the looks of what we've seen.  Hopefully, by this time next year, I'll be done working, and we can have a better school experience than we've had over the last year.  I want to do more with field trips and projects and fun things.  This work thing is cramping my style in a big way.

  3. I bought Guitar Hero III for Travel Man for Father's Day.  Found it on eBay for a good price, and totally surprised him with it.  Instead of just giving it to him, though, I wrote little notes and hid them around the house and yard.  We made him go on a treasure hunt for the present, which he got wind of the night before (the treasure hunt, not the present).  Nevertheless, he liked that - was impressed even - and guessed incorrectly on the present.  My last two clues hinted that it had something to do with music, and I told him to check his email on the iMac.  He was certain I'd blown the budget on an iPod Touch.  ;)

    Now we're both working on becoming rock gods.  We named our rock bands last night after several nights of practice, and started our little careers.

    Yes, I am totally excited about it.  I'm unlocking songs and playing encores and living that old dream of being in a band.  (Seriously.  That was my dream.  Stop laughing!)

  4. Little Girl forgot what she was doing on Sunday and did not receive Communion.  She crossed her arms over her chest and got a blessing.  She wasn't sure what to do, so she made a Spiritual Communion instead.  Silly kid!  I told her after Mass that she ought to have gotten back in line and gone up again.  She probably won't forget this weekend.  She gets to wear her dress again, help to crown the Blessed Virgin for the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and be the center of attention.  Oh, then we'll be back on Sunday morning, since Big Girl is going to be an altar server at Mass then, too.  And we've got an art show after Mass (at church), and The Great Adventure Bible Study DVD before Mass, and Travel Man is being Count de Monet after Mass, too.  It's a VERY busy weekend, and all full of church-y stuff.

  5. I get This Rock magazine, and for their May/June issue, they had a compilation/retrospective of their first 200 issues.  One article came out in 2006 during that DaVinci Code period; it's called "Was Jesus Married?".  (The answer is no, in case you wonder.)  There's a great line, though, that I really loved.  In a discussion of how the Bible specifically fails to mention any wife of Jesus', Mark Brumley writes, "There is as much historical evidence for jesus being married as there is for him being a professional surfer."  I love that line!

  6. We finished "Romeo and Juliet" the other night.  The girls had a hard time believing it was a tragedy, what with all the dying and stabbing at the end.  And watching a 1936 version of the play certainly isn't helping, since the fight scene was so obviously fake and over-acted.  I've got several versions coming on Netflix, including West Side Story and a ballet, and we'll see how they pan out.  Travel Man and I are going to watch the Leonardo DiCaprio version, which is WAY too intense for the girls.  Much, much too bloody.  But I liked it.

    Up next in our Shakespeare reading: "Hamlet."

  7. Video time!  I love this Happy Slip woman, and not just because we share a name.

Thursday, June 25

Changes in Store

This Sunday is the last weekend our pastor will be at our parish.  He will officially take over as pastor of his new parish on Wednesday, July 1, and our new pastor, Fr. K., will take over here the same day.

This is an emotional thing to my children, who have been at this parish with Fr. R. at the helm for the last 5 years.  Big Girl remembers a little of our old parish in Florida - she was, after all, 5 when we moved here.  But for Little Girl, who was 2 1/2 when we arrived in Virginia, this is a much larger change.  She really doesn't remember the old parish or our priests there.  For her, Fr. R. is the only pastor she has known.  So when he talked about his feelings upon leaving our little parish after next week, she leaned on me and whispered in a shaky voice, "I'm so sad that Fr. R. is leaving."  She nearly cried right then and there.

I know the girls will love the new pastor just as much as they love Fr. R., but I also know how they feel.  Though they know God is caring for us and he's guiding our bishop in this decision, it's a little scary to have someone new in this situation.  I know how they feel because when Pope John Paul II died in 2005, I felt that way, too.  

John Paul II was pope from the time I was 8 until I was nearly 35.  I loved him terribly, and when he died, it was like a grandfather dying.  I wondered how I would love any pope as much as I loved him!

Now that our beloved Pope Benedict XVI has been with us for four years, I look back on that sentiment and smile.  I love him just as much as John Paul, and I have such an appreciation for him - one that I never really had for our former pontiff.  And it did not take four years to get to this point.  One encyclical was all I needed.  (Oh, and have you read Spe Salvi, too?  Golly, if not, get it printed out and do so!  It's beautiful, and I highly recommend it for everyone - Catholics and Protestants and non-believers all alike!)

So the girls will adjust, and they'll come to love our new pastor, I'm sure.  But in the meantime, I'll keep them in my prayers.

Tuesday, June 23

Heard from the Upstairs...

The girls are playing some variation of Bible Scattegories, and I just heard Little Girl ask, "What's the square root of Jesus?"

Big Girl's answer?  "Choir!"

"YES!" yelled Little Girl in response.

Saturday, June 20

New Catholic Carnival!

This That and the Other Thing: Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

There's a new format for the Catholic Carnival, and I decided to go ahead and submit one of my posts this week to it.  

Happy Father's Day to all the dads who read my blog, and most importantly to my wonderful and amazing husband, aka Travel Man.

Friday, June 19

Seven Quickies

Thanks to Jen for hosting our weekly meeting.  :)

  1. Most important thought for today: It's my mother's birthday!  Happy birthday, Mom, if you are reading this.  :)  We can't wait to see you in three weeks!

  2. I did something that I am still freaked out about.  I bought a mantilla.  Part of me is happy - I feel like it will really help me in seeking humility and focusing during Mass - but part of me is a bit freaked out.  I will be the. only. one. wearing one at my parish.  Already, my overactive imagination has me arguing with several people.  I think I just need to chill out and deal with things as they come, as opposed to dealing with them as I imagine them.

  3. Little Girl's First Communion was on Pentecost Sunday.  She looked beautiful.  She was happy.  And now, she just marches right up there with the rest of us and receives our Lord.  I still get teary-eyed when we go up, watching her.  I think I'm a bit sad, in a way.  Unless we adopt, we'll have no more First Communions to look forward to.  

  4. I think I've discovered that I have an ongoing penance.  Every time I hear, "It's so beautiful that all these homeschooling families are so open to life," while I'm at a conference, it pains me.  It's practically physical pain at times.  I don't confess it again (I've been forgiven through that wonderful Sacrament), but it stings.  And so I decided that I would accept it as my penance for what I did.  And let me tell you, you can't turn around at that IHM Conference without bumping into a dozen pregnant women or nursing mothers!  Bellies, bellies, everywhere!  

  5. The pool is open around here, and it's warm enough for the kids to go in.  In fact, as I type this (Thursday afternoon), they are swimming right now.  They both forgot sunscreen, so hopefully that early afternoon sun won't give them too much of a burn.  I'm glad they enjoy the pool so much.  I'm also glad they enjoy each other so much.  I have had people remark that they get along so well, and I honestly chalk a lot of that up to our homeschooling.  They aren't segregated all day, and Big Girl isn't feeling pressured from friends do shun her baby sister.  Her friends are (for the most part) also homeschooled, so all the kids hang out together, even if they separate for games at times.  It's totally accepted in our circle to play with a younger sibling.  No, I take that back...it's expected.  And I find that to be really nice.  

  6. Travel Man will not be such a travler soon.  I'm okay with that, but I hate to lose his moniker.  Can't think of another name for him yet (that he'd let me share here), so for now, he'll be Travel Man whether he's away or not.  ;)  

    Because of his lighter travel schedule, I'm encouraging him to volunteer to teach Big Girl's CCD class, which will be on Sunday nights.  Honestly, I think he'd be great, and it'll be an excellent time for him to spend some time with her.  And scope out what they do in the mysterious middle school youth group.  (Yeah, I'm a little paranoid.  She'll be there with high school kids, and I don't particularly like the idea.  She is not even 11!!)  I can't shelter her forever, but I still feel the need to proceed with caution.

  7. In honor of my piano teacher coming to visit (I took lessons with her from second through twelfth grades), I'm posting this video.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 15

Humility Before God

We are not God, we are not even like gods (though I might say that in some ways, we are because God has dominion over all things in Heaven and on earth - He demonstrated this to the Egyptians when He conquered, one by one, their various gods).  

We are called to be humble before the Lord.  Banish pride from your heart!  Walk with faith and humility!  Come before Him with joy, but with an understanding that He is God and we are not.

How do we make ourselves humble before God?  Interiorly, we can do so, but sometimes we need more than the interior humility.  Sometimes, because we are creatures who are both flesh and spirit, we need a physical sign of our humility.  The sign is not for others, not to trumpet our strive to be humble.  The sign is for ourselves.

The first sign I undertook was the Scapular.  Invisible to everyone, the little woolen cloth sits against my skin.  In the summer, it's hot and scratchy at times.  But it's there, reminding me always: Remember Whose you are!  Each day, I kiss my Scapular, not out of superstition, but to remind myself again that I belong to the Lord.  I ask His Blessed Mother to pray for me when I put it on.  It's a perpetual prayer of sorts.  Unless it slips one way or the other, or sticks up like a tag, most people never know it's there.  But I know, and sometimes I reach up and gently touch the spot below my neck where it sits, reminding myself again Whose I am and how I am supposed to act.

For two years, I have toyed with a certain idea: wearing a mantilla to Mass (linked article is not the best explanation, BTW).  I started reading about it from bloggers who did not see it as a badge of honor, a way to SHOW THE WORLD you are Traditional and Orthodox.  (I have to admit that prior to this time, I had seen plenty of those kinds of musings.  I was not attracted to the idea, and, frankly, was a bit offended.  Take note, Traddies.)  I began to see occasional posts about wearing a mantilla, not to show others how Traditional they were, but to give themselves a way to physically remind themselves to be humble before God.

I read what I could from these bloggers, and not the former.  I did so for about a year.

Last year, I went to the IHM Conference and looked over the mantillas.  Pretty... But I wasn't sure if this was for me.  I didn't want to draw attention to myself with it.  I didn't want people to think, "What's with her?  Who does she think she is?"  Besides, the only other woman who wore one at our parish was so out of place - not for the mantilla, but for her behavior at Mass.  Kneeling at a time when no one else did.  Tsking loudly when First Communicants received in the hand or drank from the chalice.  I contemplated some more, and started my own thing with humility.  I always wore my hair up for Mass, pulling it back into one of those big clip thingies.  It got so normal that I did this that my pastor saw me at a parish brunch  (hair back down again) and couldn't figure out what was different about my hair.  But this was my first way to try to concentrate on some humility.  No fussing with my hair unconsciously during Mass, no big primping...just pulled back, simply.

Then, I read this blog post, and I decided to discuss the mantilla more seriously with Travel Man.  When we were on the way to IHM, I asked how he felt about the mantilla: can we check out how much they run, and can we think about me getting one?  Yes and yes.  Travel Man is the best.

So I checked it out.  Not too much (less than I'd seen online), and I jumped in and bought it.  Discovered during checkout that I'd been trying it on backwards, but no harm, right?  

So Sunday will begin the great experiment: wearing my mantilla to my parish, where no one wears one.

I'll let you know how it goes, but I think it'll be okay.

Thursday, June 11

Curriculum, Curricula...

For a the last couple of years, I've been schooling the girls without a set curriculum.  I've written lesson plans, gathered books, used the library, even purchased Maureen Wittmann's phenomenal book that helps peg excellent books for your unit studies.  I started this journey because I was using Seton (a fine institution!), and Big Girl would just bristle under all the workbook pages.

First, I branched out to Math-U-See so she could use manipulatives.  As a kinesthetic learner, this was a great move for her.  I use it with Little Girl, too, and she loves it as well, though she's not as kinesthetic and doesn't mind workbooks.  (She's like me in that respect.  I loved my workbooks!)

Then I started using some other books and ideas, but since I've been working, it's been harder and harder to get what I'd consider "enough" school done.  

Now, one reason I haven't completely lost it here is because the girls are voracious readers.  And when I say voracious, I mean it in the most sincere form.  We read bits and pieces of The Lord of the Rings to them while watching the movie, highlighting Catholic symbolism along the way.  When the movies were through, Big Girl took a hold of the book herself and plowed through it in a week.  (This wasn't that surprising except for the speed at which she read it because she read The Hobbit - alone - when she was seven.)  Little Girl easily reads CS Lewis' Narnia books alone.  I can't keep them out of books.  This alone has helped me, since so much learning can happen there.  I keep plenty of classic literature for them to read.

Oh, and I've mentioned before that Shakespeare is our fun family reading as of late, right?  We've read "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Taming of the Shrew" and are now working on "Romeo and Juliet" before we read "Hamlet."

Anyway, I feel really badly about how doing school in smaller chunks of time, around work, sports, ballet, library time, co-op, family trips, etc., etc., etc. is becoming more and more difficult.  I've had less and less time lately to write good lesson plans.  Big Girl starts sixth grade (!!) in the Fall, and I wanted to go with a full curriculum for her so I know she's getting all she needs should she decide to go to college.  So I searched, and looked at Kolbe and Catholic Heritage Curricula.  CHC is very hands-on, with plenty of projects and ideas - and choices! - for Big Girl to select from.  It seems like a perfect fit for my kinesthetic learner, and so Travel Man and I discussed the possibility of using it.  It's much pricier to go with a curriculum, but when I do, lesson plans are mostly done for me, too.  This has been a big stumbling block for me, and will continue to be so until that stupid debt is paid off and I have to work.  So, minus math and religion (I'm sticking with Seton for continuity reasons), I'm ripping off the band aid and buying a year's worth of books for her.

But then there's Little Girl, who is starting third grade this fall.  She needs attention, too, and we discussed the idea of just going back to a full curriculum for her, as well, to make my life easier in regards to those pesky lesson plans.  Again, pricier, but sanity-saving.  Knowing how much she likes workbooks, we have decided to stay with Seton for her until I am able to quit working again.

For me, I would still dearly love to be literature-based, building units around what we read, but the horrible guilt I have been feeling over not doing enough for them is overwhelming.  I know I am not supposed to be like school - public school, that is - but I have not been consistent enough.  It is most definitely my vocation to homeschool the girls.  Public school is just not an option here.  But I need help for now.  Having lessons laid out for me at this time will be a help.

With a little summer reading and finishing up the English books this summer, I know we'll be set for using both CHC and Seton for the following school year.  And, God willing, when that year is finished, I'll be officially retired again and be able to do more unit studies.

Now, in the meantime, Travel Man has some interesting units of study he'd like to create for the girls, too.  I'll give assistance and ideas, but the unit will be his.  If I can get him to do so, maybe he can post about it here.  (Bug him about it if you want.)  ;)  But I can think of several books that will fit in, and he's been eyeing some grown-up-research books, too.  Gosh, I'm thinking of some very cool projects the girls could do, too.  What fun!

But anyway, this afternoon, we'll leave for the IHM Conference in Chantilly, which actually starts Friday morning.  And while I'm there, I'll give myself a break and just get that Seton curriculum.  Might pick up some extras (I'm thinking Theology of the Body for Teens so I'm ready to help Big Girl with that), but mostly, I'm sticking with the curriculum.  

And while we're there, we'll be getting some serious spiritual food for the soul.  Some of the talks given are difficult to chose from.  For example, at the same time as Raymond Arroyo is speaking about living your faith in a Culture of Death (with ideas from the Holy Father and Mother Angelica!), Father Levis is speaking about papal encouragement for homeschoolers.  It's like trying to choose between the delicious grilled steak and the delectable seafood platter!  Thank God for the recordings, which we can load into iTunes for later reference.  

This gazelle business has been tough - it's why I'm working at all - but it's the reason that, in spite of having to purchase a new water heater and a car purchase looming on the horizon, we still had the money to have a spectacular weekend of celebration around Little Girl's dance recital and First Holy Communion.  And still have the money to purchase a full-out curriculum for each of the girls for the Fall.  I'm forever grateful to the office buddy who first handed Travel Man that Dave Ramsey book.  

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 10

Hysterical (G-Rated) Fail of the Day

If you're not reading FailBlog.org, you're missing some very funny (if sometimes extremely juvenile) stuff.  This is one of my favorites so far:

Tuesday, June 2

I Shouldn't Even Need to Say It, But...

My first reaction to Tiller's murder was, "Oh, my God!  How horrible!"

Pray for his soul.  Pray for his murderer.  No matter how awful Tiller's actions (and trust me, butchering babies right up until the ninth month of pregnancy is pretty bad), he did not deserve to be murdered in cold blood.

May God have mercy on his soul.

Heard While Opening Presents

As she was opening a toughie - the wrapping did NOT want to come off:

"Maybe it's a little racoon!"

After reading a card encouraging her to grow in God's richness - a card that contained a $50 bill:

"Grow in richness...like this money here!"

Little Girl cracks me up.

Victory for Me

This weekend was FABULOUS for many reasons, and I'm sure I'll blog about it later.

But a big thing for me, which might be small for others, is that I overcame my fear (and revulsion) of accepting or (gasp!) asking for help.

The girls did the floors that were not the kitchen, and they were not perfect.

I did not fix them.

I had relatives washing dishes for me, carrying things around, assisting with cooking sausages, clearing tables, and when they offered help I nearly always said, "YES!" and gave them something to do.  (I did not do this frequently with my Nana, as she's nearly 90, and I didn't want her up and doing too much.  She would not listen most of the time and shoved her way in.  Ornery Irish woman, that one!)

I have always had a very hard time accepting help - what if they don't do it the way I like it? I shouldn't ask guests to help! - but I did it last weekend.  

In fact...I actually ASKED MY MOTHER to wash some things for me because I simply did not have the time.

And so, we managed to have 11 people for dinner on Friday, more than 50 on Saturday for a BBQ, and then more than 20 for Brunch on Sunday.  And I had help.  And I did not die from the extra people OR the help.

Unless you're like me (hi, Jen!), you have no idea what a victory that was for me.  But if you know that feeling of being afraid to ask for help or accept it when it's offered, you know it.

And guess what?  It was nice.  I was able to relax more.  It didn't kill me to have it done slightly differently, either.  Hooray!  Give it a try sometime!

Who are your heros?


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