Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Novena for Culture of Life

Please join me in this novena:
This year's election offers another opportunity to further the Culture of Life. Please join us in praying a novena for the victory of the Culture of Life at all levels in the upcoming elections, and in the Supreme Court decision on the federal Partial-Birth Abortion ban (hearing scheduled for Nov 8).The novena begins on Monday, October 30, and ends election day, November 7, 2006.
The suggested prayer is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but feel free to substitute the Rosary, daily Mass, or another prayer of your choice.
Here's the info on praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy using a regular rosary:1. Our Father ...2. Hail Mary ...3. I believe in God ... (Apostles' Creed)4. On the "our Father" beads: "Eternal Father I/we offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your dearly beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world."5. On each "Hail Mary" bead: "For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."6. At the end (after 5 decades), pray 3 times: "Holy God, holy mighty One, holy immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

Halloween morning

Its a busy morning here: St. Joan of Arc needed a haircut and shower, St. Francis needs some birds sewn onto his shoulder, and our little 2 year old bee keeps backing up to his siblings and "stinging" them. We are rushing out to take our little angel to preschool. "I'm not an angel yet, I'm not dressed." The dragon (used to go with St. George years ago) has a cold and instead of blowing smoke is a little stuffy.

Monday, October 30, 2006

No more cookbooks from the library!

I checked out several books on baking and while reading them have been instantly overcome with a desire to make cookies. An hour later the odors of cinnamon and carmelized sugar waft out the kitchen door. In the past week I have made oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, pink cupcakes, birthday cake, and two loaves of bread. Then in a moment of weakness, I picked up a raspberry pie at Kroger. The thing weighs 2 pounds and I am the only one in the house who will eat it. In spite of running three times this week I have gained weight.

My new resolution: No more reading cookbooks. Instead I will check out gardening magazines that feature new varieties of lettuce.

I did sign up for several 5K road races next month so I can't quit.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Birthday Maggie May

Our sweet Maggie May is the singing, joy-filled, pig-tailed, bright light in our family. My world would be a lot duller place without her in it. She loves tea parties, puppy dogs, and "doing school" like a big kid. Today she is 4 years old!

Tim deployed on the big gray boat when Will was 4, Mary was 2.5 and I was 7 months pregnant. It certainly didn't work out the way we planned, because even though they changed the date the ship was to leave 13 times ( a record, I'm sure), my due date would not budge. So, while Tim's ship was entering the Suez Canal I was in the hospital. Maggie didn't get to meet her daddy for another 7 months- the war started and the return date was postponed two times.

Sometimes I think, how did I do it? Well, I went to Mass every Sunday, the Eucharist is what really sustained me. But I also refused to feel sorry for myself. I lived by the motto that someone else always has it worse. There was that 22 year old new mom of twins who didn't meet their daddy until they were 9 months old. There were wives who barely had enough money to make it until payday. Some wives didn't get the letters and phone calls I received daily. I kept all our emails and letters in two big binders and every once in a while I read them and reminisce. I think today I'll re-read those letters from when our sweet Maggie was born.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

This is the moment I have been waiting for

Every evening for over 8 years I have read at least 3 picture books before we said our prayers and put the children to bed. That's at least 9000 stories.

This week I started reading the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. However, I don't read fast enough and have to stop too frequently due to having to change nappies and make dinner. So, Will and Mary decided to start reading them all by themselves. They have been reading in the car, draped over the chairs in the living room, and by flashlight after bedtime. They can't hear me when I call them for meals they are so absorbed in their reading.
When these two were toddlers I recall envying another homeschooling mom with teens when she remarked, "we spent the whole afternoon reading, it was so quiet I could hear a pin drop." Now, I seem to have my own voracious readers and I am thrilled. There have been fewer quarrels this week since the two are "out of action."
What is going to happen when they finish the series? I have been preparing for this moment for several years with bookcases filled with such favorites as Anne of Green Gables, the OZ books, and all the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books. I must have thousands of children's books just waiting for eager readers to be absorbed and noiseless.

Things I never thought I would say

"Will, please don't belch the alphabet."
"Will, stop looking at your sister!"
"Will, you are being so 8!" (as in acting like an 8 year old, which he happens to be)
I once told Will that he was not allowed to be 7, since most 7 year old boys are obnoxious know-it-alls. It was a joke, but he thought I was serious and was terribly upset as his birthday approached. He turned out to be a delightful 7 and is for the most part is a pleasant 8. But there are several moments daily that frustrate and then make me laugh at their obsurdity.

Friday, October 27, 2006


When I was a child my grandmother would take us to swimming lessons. She drove us over to the Naval Hospital pool, barely slowed the car down, and said, "I'll pick you up in an hour." To get my kids to swimming lessons, and swim my laps it is a little more complicated:
pack bag-4 suits, 4towels, 4goggles
yell at everyone to put their shoes and socks and jackets on
oops, forgot to feed baby, nurse Timmy
herd everyone in car, strap babies in
drive to YMCA (like a crazy woman since I'm already 10 minutes behind)
drop off babies at childwatch
get Maggie and Mary changed, change myself, send Will in to get changed
drop Maggie off at one end of the pool, swim my 12 laps fast, keep an eye on the oldest between laps
shower, then get Maggie changed, make oldest sit in chairs and wait for their lesson to start
drop off Maggie in childwatch
sit down poolside and chat for few minutes
get Mary showered and changed
collect all the little ones
go home
Its not just swimming, its everything. Soccer games, Mass, even going to the commissary is a major logistical operation- worthy of General Patton directing his troops in Europe. Maybe even more, he certainly didn't have to fill any sippy cups or deal with a sagging diaper among his men.
Is it worth it? Well, we have to go to Mass and we have to eat and some interaction with the outside world is a good thing, but I wouldn't want to have to do it everyday. If I got any more organized Donald Rumsfield might take notice and want me in Iraq.
Sorry, Mr. Secretary, but I have my own little army to get to swimming lessons.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

10 years of marital bliss

One clear and warm October day I got up, walked across the street to the church, put on a bead strewn, fluffy, white gown and told Tim that I would love him, cherish him, and honor all the days of my life. All our friends and family were there to witness those vows. It was a simple wedding, the reception was in the parish hall, decorated with pansies and clouds of white tulle. Tim wore his Navy uniform and simply looked dashing. It was one of the happiest days of my life.

Ten years later I am happy to say I would say those vows again. I am so grateful that I am married to the most kind, honorable, gentle, and loving man on Earth. He shows us everyday how he is grateful God gave us to him. I vow today that I will try harder to show Tim how grateful I am that God gave him to me.
My mother (with no bias whatsoever) declared it to be the most beautiful wedding she has ever attended. I think that this was because it was evident to all how joy-filled we were and how seriously we took our committment to God and each other. Sad to say some of those with us that day are now no longer with us, including his brother, my grandfather, and 4 aunties.
Thank you Tim for ten happy and baby-filled years. May God grant us many more years together to know, love, and serve God together.


Why is it that the children start bickering loudly as soon as I get into the shower?
They do the same thing when I am upstairs nursing the baby. Is there some switch in their brain that clicks and says, "Mommy is occupied right now and can't keep us in line. Let's go wild!?"

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

what got us thinking about homeschooling

Tim and I were married almost a year when we went on a missionary trip to Jamaica. A friend of his from med school had gone down to an orphanage in the middle of the island the year before and asked us to accompany them.

It was an exciting two weeks: looking out the window in the morning at the dozens of people lined up to see a doctor or dentist, likely the only one they had seen in many years. Some days I assisted the dentist, sucking out spit while he extracted black, rotting teeth from villagers, some not any older than me and some from children. They didn't have enough money for adequate food, much less flouridated toothpaste with exra whiteners. Other days I worked in the primative pharmacy, handing out medicine for worms, and infections, but mostly lots of Tylenol.

The fifity children in the orphanage were bright, happy, and well-fed. They were cared for by an elderly Baptist couple from Florida who had given up the easy retiree's life to minister to these children. Our friend's two girls (6 and 9)fit in with all the others and spent the two weeks playing, reading, eating exotic things like pig's feet, and just being good sports. I was impressed by them and even more so after we were dropped off at the airport to return to the States.

The plane was broken.

We could see a bunch of Jamaican men out on the tarmac with wrenches and knew it wasn't a happy scene. We prayed that they would fix the plane and it would stay fixed. Well, hour after hour dragged on and eventually we were all put up in a cheap hotel with pink walls and smelly bedspreads. Early the next morning we returned to the airport and resumed our wait. The girls drew pictures, played UNO, and stayed cheerful. This was a sharp contrast to the boozy Americans from the resorts who complained, argued with each other, and yelled at the pretty ladies at the counter. They yelled into their cell phones and acted like, well, children. And the only children waiting were acting much more mature.

Guess what? They were homeschooled.

Eventually, by that afternoon, it was evident that the plane was permanently broken, there was no replacement coming and all the passengers would have to be put on other flights. It looked like we were stuck and all of us had jobs to return to the following day. I was starting my student teaching in the projects and getting a bit ansty myself.

The girls saved the day. They had drawn pictures for the ladies at the counter during our lengthy wait and the girl's model behavior had caught their attention. One of the representatives from the airline beckoned us over and whispered, "there are 6 seats on this flight, leaving in an hour- I saved them for you. Thank you for being so patient and having such nice children."

I spent the flight asking their mother about homeschooling. Later when we started having children of our own, the story of that trip stayed with me and when it came time for Will to begin Kindergarten, I knew that I would follow in my friend's footsteps. I called her and asked what program she used.

Four years later, I can't say that my children are the most patient children around. I can't say they would eat pig's feet willingly- actually I know they wouldn't. But they are happy, loving, helpful children and I am so grateful that that plane "got broke" so I could learn about homeschooling.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Trying to lose baby fat

After every baby I have tried to lose the excess weight by signing up to go the gym, working out for a few weeks and then giving up in frustration. Child care problems (I have no child care), boredom with the workout, and laziness are the main reasons. Mostly I have been lonely. I always ran in high school with a pack of girls so running alone is not fun, plus there is no accountability- no one to help keep me going when I want to quit.

So, I am going to try to attack this problem and those last 14 problem pounds in several ways:

1. run with one of the older kids biking alongside
2. sign up for a road race and finish it
3. post my progress or lack of it here
Right now I am swimming 12 laps two times a week and running 4 miles once a week, I need to up the running and get faster. I need to continue to watch what I eat, at the same time making sure I get enough to nurse Baby Timmy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

smiling baby

Baby Timmy is almost 4 months old and is just a doll! He is, by far, the nicest baby I've had- sleeps all night, easy going, not very fussy, and cute as a button. He also smiles a great deal. In fact, yesterday and this morning he cooed and smilied at himself in the mirror. I don't know if he thinks he is looking at another baby and smiling at him or realizes that it is his own reflection (I doubt it).
I could stare at the toothless lopsided grin of his for hours! That is if I didn't have 4 other little ones to feed/dress/teach/clean up after.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Requiescant in pace

Our chapel had a beautiful Requiem Mass for our former pastor, Father Damian last night. I am so grateful that my oldest was one of the servers and that there were lots of children in attendance. Father was always very kind to them, letting them hang out with him in the sacristy after Mass, answering questions, listening to their jokes, and blessing the preschoolers. He came out of retirement to preside over the Traditional Mass and celebrated his 60th year of ordination last year. He was a wonderful priest and a gentle man. We miss him and continue to pray for his soul.
Father Damian Abbaticchio
Order of Saint Benedict
Monk of Saint Vincent Archabbey
Born 1917
Professed 1939
Ordained 1945
Died 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Conversion Story

I grew up an Episcopalian, it seemed more of a social experience than spiritual. My husband and I met at church so that is where we were married and our first child was baptized. Our priest was a good, holy man and taught us how to study Scripture and pray.

Then the new Catechism of the Catholic Church came out- must have been late 1997 or early 1998. Tim had been doing one of those read the Bible in a year studies (Scripture Union) and had found several glaring inconsistancies in the Protestant religion. Why were some Scripture passages taught literally and others had to be twisted into knots to understand? We had many dinner and late night discussions about this and the lack of moral courage in the Anglican/Episcopal church.
So Tim asked me to buy him a copy of the Catechism. He read it front to back- an amazing feat and discovered the Truth in its pages. Many more discussions and arguments ensued. He was convinced that the Roman Catholic Church contained the fullness of Truth. I was skeptical, not intellectually (because I trust Tim and because 99% of the time he is the smartest person in the room), but from a purely superficial view. I had attended a few Masses as a child, mostly after sleep-overs and what I saw didn't thrill me: people in shorts, lots of hand-holding, ugly, modern churches. But over time I came to appreciate the Church's stance on abortion, divorce, contraception, and other moral issues and agreed to go into RCIA.
We already had orders to go to Naples, Italy so it was decided to wait until we got there to start RCIA. We had a wonderful priest come over for dinner weekly and answer questions and were confirmed at the Easter Vigil 1999.
Here is the link to part of an article Tim wrote at that time: New Catholic
Since then we have settled in a Traditional Latin Mass parish and enjoy sensational homilies from our FSSP-trained priest, a beautiful Gregorian chant High Mass, and the support of other families that are open to life, homeschool, and have become our extended family.
Thank you God for all you have given us, especially the gift of your Church.

Friday, October 20, 2006

reason #45 why we don't have TV

"What have television, bad weather and autism got to do with one another? Quite a lot, according to new research led by Michael Waldman of the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. The incidence of autism has grown tenfold over the past 30 years, from one in 2500 children to one in 166 children in the United States -- with similar levels elsewhere. Apart from general agreement that both genetics and environment play a part in the condition, very little is known about what causes it.
One smoking gun is the growing amount of television and related media watched by very young children, due to the growth of cable TV, VCRs and DVDs in the last few decades. Waldman and colleagues figured the highest rates of TV watching would occur in places where there was more rain and/or snow, and these places would have higher rates of autism. Analysis of data for three states -- California, Oregon and Washington -- showed autism rates were positively linked to levels of precipitation. And data from California and Pennsylvania showed a link between autism and the percentage of households subscribed to cable to TV."
Tim (my wonderful dh) basically thew our TV away before we had children, 9 years ago. I did buy a small TV/VCR when he deployed 4 years ago (I had 2 young children and then a newborn by myself for 9 months) and when it died we replaced it with a slightly bigger one and a VCR/DVD player. But it is not hooked up to antennae, cable, or satellite so the children have never been exposed to commercial TV. In the summer we go up to Maine so they don't even have that, they read books and play outside.
They have never wanted colored sugar bombs for breakfast, the latest video game, fancy sneakers, or brand name clothes. Good thing- because we don't have any of those things. We shop at thrift stores, I cut their hair, they declare that "Mommy's biscuits are the best!", and I get their shoes at the exchange. I find classic movies at the same thrift store and we find educational videos at the library. I discovered The Famous Explorers series yesterday so we will follow up on our reading of Catholic explorers and patriots of America with a video of Marquette and Joliet this afternoon.

staying up late and getting up early

Last night I went out to dinner with some folks from church and had coffee afterwards, not something I normally do. Well, of course if I combine the effects of caffine and adult conversation I can't fall asleep. I stayed awake until 1:30am reading. At least it was a good book: On Agate Hill, a post-Civil War tale of a young lady in North Carolina. Then this morning baby Timmy woke at 6am to eat and change. I came downstairs and Will had set the table all by himself. Thank you! Hopefully I will make it through the day on 4 hours sleep.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

addition can be rewarding

I decided to take a week off from our regular homeschooling workload and focus on those areas where the kids need a little extra help. Will really needed to focus on memorizing his Latin responses since he is schelduled to serve Mass three times this weekend and work on his addition facts. Mary's handwriting is lacking somewhat and she also needs to wean herself off the number line.

So far, so good- the Latin sounds good and getting faster (he has to be able to keep up with the bigger boys) and after a few days of drill we started timing the addition flash cards. Will went from 3min 42sec to 2min 58sec and Mary went from 6min 15sec to 4min 3sec in 2 days! If they beat their previous best time they got a m&m. With that incentive, they enthusiastically did them 4 times in one day. While there is still progress to be made, I am very encouraged. (I did it in 1min 14sec)
Mary has been copying prayers in her special notebook with the adorable puppy on the front and I happened to find a stray paper while cleaning up with "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you" written on it. I think I will tape it up in our schoolroom for all of us to focus on. May we do everything to show God and the Saints how much we love them.

thanks mom

While we were walking out of the YMCA after swimming lessons:

Will: "Thank you Mommy for giving us baby Timmy."

me: "Are you sure? He is a lot of work and he does cry and fuss."

Will: "But he gives us such nice smiles too."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

bodily fluids

Today is gearing up to be more of the same as yesterday.

Tuesday the cat brushed against me and got cat poop on my socks and pants, I had to change 3 poopy diapers, and got to clean up one sopping wet potty-trained(?)girl who wet all the way up the wooden stairs.

So far this morning, I have had to chase Charlie around the house to put a clean diaper on him after he stripped everything off (boy, I wish those footie pjs came with a lock at the zipper). Then when I was finishing up nursing Timmy he got a little too full and threw up all the milk in his tummy- all over my clean, brand new sheets and pillows.

Oh dear.

Maybe it is God reminding me to lean on him and to make sure we say our morning prayers before we start school today.



Let me introduce myself. My name is Katherine, I am a convert Catholic, married to a wonderful man, with five little ones at home. Will is 8, Mary is 6, Maggie is almost 4, Charlie is in the terrible 2's, and baby Timmy is 3 months. We homeschool the two oldest using Seton Home Study School. My husband is currently in the US Navy and will be retiring in the not-too-distant future so we can move to Maine and become farmers. (The votes on the tractor purchase are 5-1 in favor of John Deere)

I love my family and hope to share the little bits that make having a larger family worthwhile!