someone who talks

Still reporting from very-occasionally-rainy CA.

I took both boys to a playground devoid of other little kids yesterday. The day before that, my dad had taken Joe to the same playground where he had found four other kids his age to play a pretend fireman/rescue game. Joe looked obviously disappointed during our trip to see that his cohorts had departed. I told him he could just play his game with Amby instead.

"Well, but..." he wrinkled up his face quizzically. "I think I need someone who talks."

Amby, the little half-mute younger brother, is good for many things, Joe has discovered.

Talking ain't one of them.


prayer for our nation / no coincidences

Happy Feast of the Annunciation. And by (no) coincidence, happy day that the Supreme Court hears arguments from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood--arguments that will decide whether business owners (and, nay, every American) still have a smidgeon of religious liberty left.  

Remember the punched-in-the-gut feeling on the day the Supreme Court didn't rule Obamacare as unconstitutional? I do. I feel like I'm in for round two, though I pray for the opposite.


As usual, Catholic Vote has both narrative and action for today. Narrative first:    

Do business owners have religious freedom?
Can ‘free citizens’ be forced to pay for child-killing drugs?
On Tuesday, March 25, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments in two cases (Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood) that could dramatically alter the future of religious liberty in America.
That’s why we have launched our National Prayer Campaign for Religious Liberty.
The court is set to hear arguments in these critical cases on March 25th – the Feast of the Annunciation. The day when the Blessed Virgin was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would give birth in 9 months to the Savior of the World.
A coincidence? No way.
Religious liberty is at the heart of these court cases. And while the Supreme Court has incredible power, the power of prayer is unmatched.
That’s why we are asking every CV member to commit to praying to Our Lady of the Annunciation. We printed out tens of thousands of prayer cards and sent them to parishes and schools and to CV members nationwide.
This prayer reflection is based on a Marian consecration by Patrick Cardinal O’Boyle, former Archbishop of Washington — and it was prayed in parishes throughout the United States in November of 1959.
Religious liberty has allowed the Church to flourish in this land for two centuries.
At this hour, when the right to practice our faith is on the line, let it be known that we Catholics not only stood our ground – but that we also fell to our knees in prayer.

And second, action: Print and say this prayer for our nation tonight with your family.


week's best clicks / 04

1 /
"Dancing with the Stars" and "classy" don't normally appear in the same sentence, but leave it to D.J. Tanner to make it so. Go girl.

2 /
I could eat this salad for nights on end. Feta. Give me more feta.

3 / 
Catholic Sistas round up the cleverest first-time or repeat pregnancy announcements. I personally love selling the bikini and what I think might be a beer brewing set.

4 / 
Speaking of children, this week brought an overflow of grief for many Catholic families, who must now surrender to the grace, healing and comfort that only the Lord brings, notes Jessica at Housewifespice.

5 / 
Horses, lances and hormones, oh my! Catholic Vote sheds light on the oft-pondered common ground between dueling/jousting and the Pill.

6 /
I don't know if I could ever forego my beloved Russell Stover marshmallow bunnies, but Haley gives some lovely alternatives and charming basket-stuffer ideas.

7 / 
Move over, Alicia Keys: A sweet young nun rocks the stage (and delightfully shocks the judges) on Italy's The Voice 2.

pretty funny happy real / in CA

pretty /

No doubt about spring being sprung here in California, though the current drought may make 
flowers like these scarce come summer. We're soaking up the pretty and praying for rain.

funny / 

Not too sure about this whole stick-face-in-the-hole thing at the zoo. 

happy / 

Cheating here with two pics, but couldn't help but include some grandparent love. Also filed under the category of: stuff my parents have for the kids to ride on.

real / 

I joked with a friend today that my parents' house has so much more space than ours does, and that this means the boys can fight and bicker in the backyard, in the front yard or even in the spacious living room! However, these warm days have also seen them walk to the park with their Babcia, holding hands and pointing out every garbage can, kitty cat, and "ga-bug-ga-ball" (basketball hoop) along the way. Not a bad way to spend March.

Like Mother Like Daughter has more p/f/h/r goodness.


life wins / 01

There's enough discouraging news about abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide, the erosion of religious liberty and the like to fill pages and pages of news each day.

It's important to be aware of these offenses against life. You can't fight an enemy if you don't know where the battleground is. 

But it's also important to know when life wins, when it triumphs over death. I'm starting a weekly round-up of links to these wins for two purposes. First, good news (and morale boosters) should spread just like bad news. And second, many of these wins are pro-life apostolates that could greatly benefit from 10 bucks being thrown their way. Not everyone can start a pregnancy crisis center... but almost everyone can support one. 

So without further ado! Three life wins for this week:

Abortion Interrupted
"Kim had taken mifepristone, also known as the abortion pill. [She] was about nine weeks along when she took it ... it induces abortion by counteracting the hormone progesterone needed to maintain a pregnancy. 
[She] searched the Internet for “abortion reversal” on her smartphone. That search landed her at www.abortionpillreversal.com and their 24-7 hotline. Her call ultimately connected her with Dr. Edwin Anselmi, a physician with Our Lady of Hope Medical Clinic in Centennial. 
To block the effects of mifepristone, Anselmi launched a protocol developed by Doctors George Delgado and Mary Davenport described in their case study “Progesterone Use to Reverse the Effects of Mifepristone” published in “The Annals of Pharmacotherapy” December 2012. It involves progesterone injections for three consecutive days, followed by an injection every other day for two weeks, then continued progesterone twice a week until the end of the first trimester. 
“He was amazing,” Kim said of Anselmi. “He was so kind and loving and gentle. He’s really an exceptional person.”
God love these pro-life physicians. God love, bless and protect them and this amazing work. 

"The scar of that abortion is still very real.  I think of the frightened, self-centered nineteen year old girl that I was and I am sad.  I’m sad that she ran to a clinic for answers to a very personal situation that she viewed only as a problem. I’m sad that she was offered no counseling.  I’m sad that she let fear overtake her.  I’m sad that she chose to hide her situation from the baby’s father and from her family. It is sad she felt like those were her only options. 
Thanks to the Sisters for Life healing retreats, I have found peace.  I have learned to forgive myself and to trust in God’s mercy."
Abortion, drugs, a tubal ligation... and in the end, two miracle babies, and healing. Praise God. No one speaks for all women on these issues. Women Speak For Themselves. Love this group. 

Ever wish there was some sort of modern-looking website that could synthesize the resources of Heartbeat International, CareNet and BirthRight International for young girls in crisis pregnancies, but be easy to navigate and user-friendly?

Enter the genius of StandUpGirl.com. Not only is it easy to find the nearest pregnancy resource center, but users can post questions in moderated chat rooms and forums, email with volunteers, and even text PREGNANT to 313131 and receive 24-hour support. StandUpGirl has over 400,000 visitors per month and reaches 400 a month women through that text number alone. Bravo, girls. 


week's best clicks / 03

1 /
First things first: Make this the year you show corned beef and cabbage who's boss (the Pioneer Woman won't let you down).

2 /
Catholic Vote makes a list of all the Church teachings Pope Francis has changed in his first year. *crickets*

3 / 
Perfect lip color is hard to come by. Kate at The Small Things Blog tries out some perfect (if pricey) winners.  

4 / 
Banish the fleece and bring in the light-weight raincoats, PLEASE. 

5 / 
Bill Donohue of The Catholic League defends the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in New York: "But just as gays can march, so can pro-lifers and NRA members; they simply must blend in like everyone else. No one feels victimized save for homosexuals." 

6 /
I can't imagine this slow cooker vanilla pear butter making my house smell anything less than heavenly.

7 / 
I need to become friends with an open-front cardigan one of these days, according to Dweej (and in these matters, I trust her totally). 

Linking up to Conversion Diary's 7 quick takes, and thanking sweet Bonnie for the link!


on the street where you live

Ironies abound in life. Take the street on which my town's local Planned Parenthood sits. The abortion clinic--a dingy, grey, aged monument for the sanctioned killing of babies and the maiming of women--shares a wall with...

... a day care center.

Behind the joined buildings, the day care center has a little fenced in yard and playground, so that its pint-sized attendees can run and frolic in the shadow of the building where, just feet away, children a few years their junior are dismembered in utero.

I once had the privilege of attending a vigil led by the heroic former-abortion-clinic-manager-turned-pro-life-advocate Abby Johnson outside that very Planned Parenthood. The event had been highly publicized, and she drew a big crowd to the abortion clinic on a cold October morning.

I stood next to a woman who confided that she had never been to a vigil such as the one held that day. Nor had she stood and prayed outside of any abortion clinic before. "Actually," she said, "I didn't even know we had a Planned Parenthood in this city."

My mouth dropped. Granted, this woman lived a few miles away, but who wouldn't know whether or not one's town boasted an abortion mill? Does it have to move in next door for folks to notice?

A 2013 poll conducted by the National Right to Life Committee found that 55% of American's don't know that Planned Parenthood commits abortions. That number blows me over. The largest abortion provider in America skates by on the pretenses of being a "mainstream healthcare provider." And for more than half of this country, that's what they know and believe.

It's likely that anyone reading this blog post is not part of that 55% mentioned above. But the tentacles of Planned Parenthood stretch far and deep into American culture, into businesses and organizations, into politicians and non-profits, into categories never polled nor likely to be polled.

Take, for instance, the Girl Scouts and their eponymous cookies. Sweet little girls selling boxes of their troop's treats can be found every February at your local grocery store, hardware store, even at your front door.

But if only 55% of Americans know Planned Parenthood commits abortions, then a great deal less have probably seen the last few months of news regarding the Girl Scout's ties (at both regional and national levels) to fervently pro-abortion politicians and Planned Parenthood itself:
- The new national spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts, Kelly Parisi, is the former spokeswoman for a pro-abortion organization — one founded by Gloria Steinem. 
- The Girl Scouts have been criticized for their involvement in the May, 2013 Women Deliver Conference, an international event that included “safe and legal abortion” among its overarching themes. It documents its role in the planning and facilitating of the December, 2012 Bali Global Youth Forum and the outcome declaration, which demands youth access to abortion. 
- The ties between the two groups have been questioned ever since former Girl Scouts CEO Kathy Cloninger admitted on NBC’s The Today Show: “We partner with many organizations. We have relationships with…Planned Parenthood organizations across the country.” See the video here. 
- In a national survey, 17 Girl Scouts councils admit to partnering with Planned Parenthood; many other councils refuse to answer the survey question. Of the 315 Girl Scout councils in the U.S., 17 councils reported having a relationship with Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, and 49 reported they do not. The other 249 refused to disclose any relationship. 
- In 2010-2011 Girls Scouts in New York partnered with Planned Parenthood for a sex-ed program, “Real Life. Real Talk.” The program website touts their partners: “Real Life. Real Talk. is proud to count the following organizations, faith communities and companies as partners: …Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways.” 
- For fourteen years, the Girls Scouts in Waco, TX co-sponsored a sex ed conference with Planned Parenthood. “It’s Perfectly Normal” a book written by a Planned Parenthood executive was  given to all children in attendance says abortion can be “a positive experience.” And in January 2012, Girl Scouts employee Renise Rodriguez wore a “Pray to End Abortion” t-shirt during off-duty visit to her Tucson Girl Scout office and was ordered to her to turn the shirt inside out or leave. 
- In 2012, the Girl Scouts joined with Planned Parenthood to head a UN conference and LifeNews reported on the investigation the Catholic Church is undertaking into the ties between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups.
As might be assumed, I don't buy Girl Scout cookies, and I've tried to spread the word. It's a little late now, writing this in the middle of March, but I'm still seeing folks savoring Samoas and Tagalongs on my various social media feeds.

Planned Parenthood's evil work (of aborting children, lying to mothers, covering for child rapists and making a buck off it all) isn't abated when it reaches outside clinic walls--it only becomes that much more insidious. 

If a person hasn't heard that the Girl Scouts are in cahoots with abortion advocates, it's not that person's fault. It's not their fault for not knowing Planned Parenthood commits abortions, for not knowing there's a Planned Parenthood just down the street.

It's mine. It's my fault. If I have the knowledge, it's dependent on me (and everyone who knows the truth) to share it.

Wherever it is, evil's all the same. It can be 50 miles away or show up on your very street. But it's up to each of us to call it what it is, and stop the silence.


week's best clicks / 02

1 /
Looking to upgrade to a place with a little more space? Buzzfeed finds six castles that cost less than an apartment in New York City.

2 /
Yummy for breakfast or dinner: Modern Mrs. Darcy's easy 20-minute frittata (omit the sausage and that's one easy Friday Lenten meal).

3 / 
Mandi at Messy Wife, Blessed Life lists 10 things to do if you must miss Mass. (Is there anyone that hasn't had to stay home at least one Sunday this flu season, taking care of a little one? Bless you!)

4 / 
"Think globally; act locally" runs smack dab into "unless you're gay, same-sex marriage doesn't affect you in any way." SSM activists can't have it both ways, according to Catholic Answers.

5 / 
Awesome, happy-dance news: The alleged miracle of Bonnie's son James through the intercession of Archbishop Sheen has been unanimously approved by the Congregation of the Causes of Saints at the Vatican! The case moves on from here, but wow. Huge.

6 /
Frame-worthy envelopes.When buying a greeting card that's matched with a plain white envelope, I always ferret out a more colorful envelope from another card. Bills and bank statements have plain white envelopes; birthday cards shouldn't. 
7 / 
My lovely friend Eleri (living in North Dakota) says, "We get a lot done when it's still bitterly cold in March."

Linking up to Conversion Diary's 7 quick takes. Are takes this quick even allowed? We shall see.

good clean (or dirty) fun

My boys are so different. Amby begs to be outside, in the dirt, in the ice or snow or mud. He climbs and scampers. Yesterday I had to change his pants three times. He gets into so much trouble. I love him for it.

Joseph likes to sit and read books about large machinery. If I'm reading him a book about passenger trains, he'll stop me and say, "May I pretend?" I try to always say yes. He takes the book from me, then traces tracks and the movement of the trains with his fingers, making puffing and chuffing sounds the whole time.

I love him for it.

One boy loves the dirty fun, one loves the clean. Sometimes I wonder if I did something wrong that made them such polar opposites. Maybe it's the age? Maybe it's temperament? Maybe one should be more like the other? Should I push Amby to be more interested in books and Joe to get his knees scraped up a little more?

Ah. I don't know the answer. But if I did, I'm sure I'd be filthy rich.

Linking up with Cari for Theme Thursday: Dirt.


just get past the intro already

I admit: Whenever I start a classic novel (one that demands historical context), I most always get too bogged down in the introductory essays to ever read the book. As much as I try to convince myself that skipping these modern essays and just getting to the meat of the book would be more fruitful than getting mired in the essay muck and giving up entirely, I always do it. It's a problem.

Today I cracked my Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament to begin my Lenten reading, only to realize that before I began the 512 pages of Scripture, annotations, cross-references and word studies, I had 16 pages of introductory reading to do before getting to the Gospel of Matthew.

The intro's not light stuff, either. I'm wading through 500-word sections on the Genre of the Gospels, definitions of inspiration vs. inerrancy, and something called "The Farrer Hypothesis," which has something to do with the ordering of the four Gospels, but sounds more to me like a Star Trek episode than anything else.

But no matter. This is one book I'm determined to get through, introduction or not.

PS. I just read about Abbey's #holylens project at Surviving Our Blessings. For moms trying to fast at home, I think it builds a great sense of solidarity to be able to click that hashtag on Instagram and see the ways other stay-at-home moms are journeying through Lent. Today's theme: fast. There's a lot of pictures of rice, beans, and oatmeal. :)

PPS. Linking up late to WWRW. How did I write a book post on a Wednesday and not remember to link up? I blame the fasting.


somehow or other it came just the same!

As a clear example of my scholarly leanings, this won't be the first post I've written which has drawn inspiration from that classic tome of great literature, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Swap me for the protagonist and insert "stomach flu" for Christmas, and you've got our house today:

[She] hadn't stopped [the stomach flu] 
from coming--it came!
Somehow or other 
it came just the same!

You'd think that by March 1, there'd be a general truce between every kind of icky winter virus and the human race, but no. Here we are today.

Like every other mother this winter (and every mother in winters before me), I'm praying the buck stops with my little Amby, that the rest of us escape unscathed, and that he'll be quickly on the mend.

For today, I'm proud to put this little line up, once again, but for the last time:

(Along with a lot of other lovely bloggers [see the list here], I wrote seven posts in seven days this week. BOO YAH.)


why pro-lifers are so obnoxious

About 40 shivering pro-lifers gathered today on the snow-covered mowing strip that separates our local Planned Parenthood with a busy street. We came to kickoff the spring 40 Days for Life campaign. I stood in the crowd, holding my Students for Life sign, "I am the pro-life generation."

Today's high temperature: 18 degrees. The low: 4. I think it was about 16 degrees for the hour we stood outside. Inclement weather never seems to bother pro-lifers. I admit to feeling somewhat protected by it: If the weather's horrible, there seem to be fewer people going ballistic when they see us.

But today was weird. In addition to light peppering of flip-offs and drive-by profanity, we had at least three cars approach our vigil group, slow to a crawl, roll down car windows, and glare. Most of the group pays no attention, and for good reason. Engaging people who a) seem mad and are b) behind the wheel of a vehicular weapon never ends well.

But the juxtaposition today seemed stark: I stand peacefully (in a group of people doing the same), and occasionally, people react menacingly.

My friend Jodi (a pharmacist, member of Pharmacists of Life International, and former communications director for a 40 Days for Life campaign), gave one of the short talks. Her title: Why are pro-lifers so obnoxious?

The crowd chuckled at the cute title, but Jodi explained its import:

"The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training."

Our very presence at Planned Parenthood is obnoxious to those who feel like abortion is a right, a necessity. 

In my heart, I do not think that the majority of people who drive by screaming "F--- YOU!! I love abortion" (honest quote) are wicked. They do not understand what they're saying. 

They're wounded and hurt. They're possibly post-abortive, or have played a role in procuring one. They're misinformed, ignorant of both science and biology. The fault with this lies no small part with Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics that rake in the cash from telling customers that a baby isn't alive until birth, that a baby in the womb doesn't feel pain, that a woman suffers no dangerous, life-long side effects from aborting her baby

Standing there with my little sign, many people find me obnoxious.

But I feel called to stand outside Planned Parenthood. To reproach that terrible building for its years of transgressions. To pray people out of it.

I go to offer women information about our local crisis pregnancy centers, about maternity homes, about adoption, about the people who love her, her baby, and want both to live happy lives. 

So for that, I'm obnoxious. I'm ok with that.

(I'm writing seven posts in seven days this week. To check out other bloggers who are doing the same, see the list here.)