Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Some Thoughts on Recent "News"

So, we watched a bit of the Goldman Sachs hearings last night. I couldn't help but think that some of those politicians sound like they are saying (cue whiney voice and stomping foot) "But you guys made more money than somebody else!! That's not FAIR!!"

Remember how those Tea Parties are supposed to "incite violence"? Did you hear about the refried bean-swastika-smear on the windows at the Immigration rally? Or the pinata with the face of the Arizona governor being beaten by children? Hmmmm....


This article appeared a few months back on the Times Online website. I meant to blog on it then, but it slipped off the radar (gotta fix that radar system of mine....this happens way too much!). Here is the part of the article, titled "Children reaching age 3 without being able to say a word, survey finds", that struck me:
The survey of more than 1,000 parents found that a child’s background was not a factor in how quickly they learnt to talk. Working parents who put their babies in day care are just as likely to have a child whose speech develops late as those who leave their baby in front of the television.

Okay, so there are two kinds of parents: those who put their kids in daycare, and those who put their kids in front of a TV. A "child's background was not a factor"!!! Really??? Did that survey of 1,000 parents find any parent who DIDN'T put their kids in daycare and DIDN'T put them in front of the TV?  I volunteer for the next such "survey".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Conversation with Four Year Old

On the way to the potty, she says to me: "Is this a James Herriot book? Is this book about James Herriot? There is cow story about James Herriot. We will pretend to be James Herriot. We like James Herriot, don't we? Is this about James Herriot?" I think I got a few yes's in but that was my entire contribution.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

American Idol's Children

We watched American Idol Gives Back last night (yes, confession time....we DVR the show and watch it every week). This week there were lots of musical numbers to speed through, but we watched most of the segments on the Give Back program. They highlighted different charitable organizations that Idol is supporting. Most of the segments featured children....after-all,  children elicit sympathy in most everyone. They are innocent victims of whatever poverty situation you can present. The segments are moving. The children are sweet. You want to hug them too. As you watch the celebrities coo and hug and wipe away a tear about "these precious children", you remember that most (if not all) of them would not think twice about aborting that same child moments before his birth. It is so sad. They seem sincere in their love for the children, but underneath it all is the conviction that they perhaps shouldn't be there in the first place.
I know there was a bit of a controversy over the pro-abortion agenda of the groups that Idol supports. I guess I was not surprised by this. I assumed it. It is a sad fact of the celebrity culture (which Idol uses to make this night work) that they are almost uniform in their support of abortion and contraception, especially for the poor.

Of course, what we really wanted to see on American Idol last night was who was going to be eliminated.  Sadly, one of my favorites went home--Tim Urban. He is the guy with the smile, always upbeat. If I remember correctly, he came from a large family. And, I have been waiting since the first live show to see if anyone would make the obvious connection to Peter Brady. But no one did! So I am....don't you think he looks like Peter Brady? The hair, the goofy good natured way, the cracking in his changing voice (not really, but you can imagine him singing the song!). Of course the Brady-like moves in the group sing segments each week might be what caused the connection in my mind.

Friday, April 23, 2010

St. George's Dragon Cake

Well, I did it! I have amazed even myself. The homemade frosting was just okay and it looked a bit "crumby", and the last minute wings were made of construction paper, but the kids were duly impressed. In fact, I think they were a little worried about "killing" it when we took out our swords!
Here he is all lit up!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Volcanic Ash Cloud with silver lining

We should be in Assisi today. But we are home, looking at blue sky's and wondering if the invisible cloud of volcanic ash is going to drift down to our roof and sidewalks. We have seen some little particles blowing in the wind that might be ash, but that is it.
The 8 day pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi was replaced by a four day pilgrimage to the Yorkshire Dales, land of James Herriot. So he isn't a saint! And there were no relics to venerate, or beautiful churches to inspire awe, or ancient paintings to wonder at (at which to wonder?).
But....we did sit in his car!! And we found out his real name!! And we got very, very close to some sheep!! And we drove on winding, rock wall lined, narrow roads....just like he did!! So, it was a bit like a pilgrimage. Seriously though, as new (except for the husband who watched it as a kid) fans of the old TV show and books, it was a real treat to see the actual location. And.... check out the new hat The Ringmaster is sporting: 

On a more religious note, we visited a ruined Cistercian Abbey, probably destroyed by Henry VIII. We stood in what was once the large chapel in front of what was once the altar and recited the Angelus AND the Regina Coeli. We sat in what was once the chapter house and did the Magnificat in choirs, just as the monks would have. 
This magnificent abbey was tucked into a little valley, with a cluster of homes on one side, and a more modern Methodist church in the middle of the cluster. There were sheep on the hills all around. You could squint your eyes and imagine the monks working in their fields, tending their sheep, in procession to the chapel for prayers. Amazing....and sad. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Economic Puzzles....

Shopping in the UK leaves me puzzled.....

Why is it common to find basic grocery items have been sold out?
Why are there fewer choices in terms of brands (except in the case of tea kettles....there are THOUSANDS of choices for electric tea kettles!)?
Why would a business choose to stop selling an item "because people kept buying it all up"?
Why do Christmas decorations sell out weeks before Christmas?
Why do certain grocery stores (ASDA) sell certain flavors of ice cream (chocolate strawberry Magnum Mini ice cream bars) and not others (other stores sell other flavors, but not that one!!!)?
Why is every grocery store very, VERY crowded all the time? Can't they build more?

What sort of government regulations/economic conditions make doing business here so much different?

I wish I knew. My hypothesis is that a nanny state sort of government like this one must regulate everything to make it "fair"....which leads to less competition, fewer choices, less urgency to do business exceptionally well (whether that means quality of service, or product).

Contemplating God?

Lately, my 5yo son (The in circus) has been turning on his book light at night and “reading” his kids bible. One night, his Papa asked him what he was doing and he said “I’m contemplating scripture”. Last night, he said he would rather “contemplate God” than listen to the recording of the rosary. He said he needed pictures to “contemplate God”. 
Not sure where he got all of this...but it seems to be sincere and not just a way to get out of going to sleep when the lights go out. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Practice your "Yes"

Sometimes when our kids are being especially defiant.....ummm.....challenging...we have them practice their "yes". They repeat "Yes, Mama" or "Yes, Papa" five times in a row in a nice voice. Usually by the end they are more compliant, especially if my face shows increasing happiness with each "Yes, Mama".

It occurred to me today that I need to do this. That my prayer, rather than rattling on about my worries, fears, concerns, or hurts, needs to be a repeated "Yes, Jesus".....just for practice. It is my chance to remind myself that His Will is my goal, that He has my best interest in mind, and that whatever cross He allows (no matter how much I fear it), He will be there to help me carry it.

"Yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus. Yes, Jesus." I can feel His smile.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Girl Time

Today we went shopping. She carried her purse, slung over her shoulder. She smiled as we got out of the car, telling me, as she always does, that she liked being with me. We looked at accessories and she pointed out the pretty necklaces. We looked at clothes and she held up blouses and skirts. She spotted a life size picture of a model (dressed like a college girl might, these days) and said that I should wear that, that I should look like that. I felt young. She sat in the fitting room, giving her opinions on the outfits I tried on. "That looks cute Mama!" We made the obligatory stop at Starbucks and held hands all the way back to the car. Time with my girl. God willing there will be many more shopping dates....and other sorts of dates as well.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Catholics vs Big Government

The Church ought to have a healthy fear of big government (especially when it comes to medical issues) because of its ability to force immoral actions on people (abortion, contraception, IVF, euthanasia, etc). The principal of subsidiarity seems to be lost on even the highest of Church officials (trying not to name names here). Even if Bart Stupak could have gotten anti abortion language in the bill, it would have eventually been taken out. Once government takes over health care, federal funding for abortion is inevitable (show me a country with government health care that does not have abortion?). We needed (and still need to) argue against the health care bill on the principle of subsidiarity---that government ought not to be able to take over responsibility for those who CAN care for themselves. And, we have to remember that part of this principle, in a certain sense, necessitates that there will be inequality in terms of outcomes in individual lives. There is nothing in true Christian teaching that requires that everyone's life be somehow equal---we are not required as a Christian nation to make sure everyone's house is the same, or salary, or even that everyone has the means to pay for the same doctor care. This would be to usurp their individual freedom, and take away their chance to work and earn by their own power, and their chance to give to other under their own power (what merit is there in forced charity!). The call to take care of the widows and orphans, the sick and poor, is a call on the individual to help as much as they can, but the individual's first responsibility is to himself and his family. That is what "self-interest" is (as opposed to selfishness)...making sure my life is in order and those under my care have what they need, then I am able to take care of those who don't have family to care for them (selfishness stops at "me" and never goes to "those for whom I am responsible"). Even in the spiritual realm this is true, if I do not care for the needs of my soul I will be unable to bring others to Christ. Ultimately, at the end of my life, I face God on the merits (or otherwise) of my OWN actions, my OWN response to grace, and part of that is caring for those God has given me to care for. The current leaders of our nation want us to look down on those who produce, who make money, as if mere profit is the problem (rather than ill-gotten profit), as if money is the problem (rather than "love of money"). But it is profits that makes it possible for our country to be the most generous in world in terms of charitable giving.

Enough About Stupak Already!

I think the whole Stupak thing is a distraction. He was never going to let this health care bill go down, he said as much in the past. He was trying to solidify his position as a "pro-life democrat" (a term that is unrealistic at best, IMHO, but that is a discussion for another day). The REAL issue here is that this bill is such an assault on liberty, on our constitution, on our American way of life, that with or without abortion provisions it is an abomination!! It must be repealed whole and entire (not just pieces of it), and the only way to do that is to elect conservatives at all levels, but especially in the House and Senate come November. And in 2012. There is NOTHING GOOD in this bill. There are things that SEEM good to some, but are really designed to bring down private insurance companies and take your choices away. For example:eliminating pre-existing conditions--really, how can an insurance company survive if it is forced to take on even the riskiest of clients---this is how insurance premiums go UP!!! Not down!!! And what is going to happen when this practice begins? People will not buy health insurance (they will pay the fines, which are cheaper than a good health insurance plan at this point in time) and then when they have the accident or get the cancer diagnosis THEN they will get the insurance and the company will have to take them on----and raise your premiums as a result. And FORCING people to purchase something (ie Health insurance), since when can the government dictate what you must buy...this is nothing like auto insurance since you can choose whether or not to buy a car (and therefore whether or not you are obligated to buy car insurance) AND the car insurance company is free to drop you if you are too high risk (ie lots of tickets or accidents). We can argue all we want about "abortion language" and "safeguards" but the unborn cannot be protected by ANY government run health care one European style government health care system that does not pay for abortion!!!