From Faith

What Nino Read, April 2017

Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment
Viking Raiders
The Wishing-Chair Collection
Draw Really Cool Stuff
Space (DK Eyewitness)
Knute Rockne (COFA)
The Greenleaf Guide to Ancient Egypt
How to Draw Spider-Man
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (for dictionary work)
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Mike Venezia)
On My First Holy Communion (Angela Burrin)
George Gershwin (Mike Venezia)
Henry Ford (COFA)
The Land of Stories (Colfer)
The Black Book of Colors
The Tale of Samuel Whiskers
The Tale of Mr. Tod
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
The Tale of Two Bad Mice
The Great Brain
Boats (Gallimard Jeunesse)
The Rain Forest (Gallimard Jeunesse)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (COFA)
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!
Homer Price
Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors
The Beginner’s Bible
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (IP)
The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (IP)
Tell Me About the Catholic Faith (IP)
King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (Green)
Dr. Dolittle (IP)
The New Junior Classics: Stories of Wonder and Magic (IP)
The Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia (IP)
DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Egypt (IP)
Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle
Drawing From Memory (Allen Say)
Nick and Tesla’s Robot Army Rampage
A Boy Called Dickens
Rock and Roll Highway
Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown
Peter Kent’s Big Book of Armor
Journey to Easter
The Story of the Cross
An Introduction to the Liturgical Year (Lent)
The Way of the Cross (Inos Biffi)

New noteworthy skills this month:
– biking on two wheels
– long division
Also enjoying his weekly gymnastics classes soooo much.
Current favorite game: Dominion and Pokemon. Ugh. Pokemon. 😛
Working on Life of Fred Honey for Math.
Also continuing to prepare for First Holy Eucharist in May.
Eats green beans, spinach, carrots, and mushrooms. Not voluntarily, except maybe the carrots. Horrified to find out I put avocado in smoothies. :/

Argentina Unit Study

Living Books:

Other resources that may be helpful:

Argentina Booklet: A Country Study – $3.50 digital download

Animal Habitats free download

Christmas Around the World: Argentina

A unit study here from Homeschool in the Woods

Can’t forget the food!


Start at 6:00 to see them try Argentinian foods:

The Chocotorta! Very similar to Italian Tiramisu, but you don’t have to make zabaglione.

100 Books Every (Catholic) Woman Needs To Read


Inspired by this post, 100 Books Every Man Needs to Read, I tried to come up with my own 100-book list. I got up to 65, then 118, and then cut it back down to 86, then back up to 112, down to 91, and so on…. I’m at 96 now and tired of trying to decide what should go on it and what shouldn’t. I’m trying to achieve some sort of balance, I suppose — genre, history, voices, etc… but I don’t know if it’s realistic to put a limit on myself, though it’s a good question to ask: If I could read ONLY 100 books, what should they be? I may tweak pending input, or not. 🙂

33 Days to Morning Glory – Fr. Michael Gaitley
A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
A Mother’s Rule of Life – Holly Pierlot
A Return to Modesty – Wendy Shalit
A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Mosseini
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn – Betty Smith
Abandonment to Divine Providence – Jean Pierre de Caussade
Adam and Eve After the Pill – Mary Eberstadt
All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
Anne of Green Gables (series) – Lucy Maud Montgomery
Apologia Pro Vita Sua – John Henry Newman
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Catherine of Siena – Sigrid Undset
Christian Self-Mastery – Basil Maturin
Come Be My Light – St. Teresa of Calcutta
Covenanted Happiness – Cormac Burke
Divine Intimacy – Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene
Essays on Woman – Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross)
Far from the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
Fire Within – Thomas Dubay
For Better, For Worse, For God – Mary Jo Pedersen
Forming Intentional Disciples – Sherry Weddell
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
Getting Things Done – David Allen
God Has No Grandchildren – Leila Marie Lawler
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
In This House of Brede – Rumer Godden
Interior Castle – St. Teresa of Avila
Interior Freedom – Fr. Jacques Philippe
Introduction to the Devout Life – St. Francis de Sales
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Joan of Arc – Mark Twain
Joseph of Nazareth – Federico Suarez
Kristin Lavransdatter – Sigrid Undset
Left to Tell – Immaculee Ilibagiza
Life of Christ – Fulton Sheen
Life-Giving Love – Kimberly Hahn
Love and Responsibility – St. John Paul II
Making Sense Out of Suffering – Peter Kreeft
Man and Woman He Created Them – Michael Waldstein
Married Saints and Blesseds – Ferdinand Holbock
Maurice and Therese – Patrick Ahern
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Mulieris Dignitatem – St. John Paul II
My Antonia – Willa Cather
My Name Is Asher Lev – Chaim Potok
Nudging Conversions – Carrie Gress
On Food and Cooking – Harold McGee
Out of the Silent Planet/Perelandra/That Hideous Strength – CS Lewis
Particles of Faith – Stacy Trasancos
Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water – Susie Lloyd
Poems and Prose – Gerard Manley Hopkins
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
Silence – Shusako Endo
Simplifying Your Domestic Church – Abby Sasscer
Something Other than God – Jennifer Fulwiler
Splendor in the Ordinary – Thomas Howard
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child – Anthony Esolen
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey
The Art of Eating – MFK Fisher
The Authentic Catholic Woman – Genevieve Kineke
The Betrothed – Alessandro Manzoni
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
The Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor – Flannery O’Connor
The Dark Night of the Soul – St. John of the Cross
The Fairy Tale Novels – Regina Doman
The Five Love Languages – Gary Chapman
The Gorgeous Nothings – Emily Dickinson
The Great Heresies – Hillaire Belloc
The Hidden Power of Kindness – Fr. Lawrence Lovasik
The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
The Holy Bible – God 😀
The Imitation of Christ – Thomas a Kempis
The Lord – Romano Guardini
The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan
The Privilege of Being a Woman – Alice von Hildebrand
The Reed of God – Carryl Houselander
The Secret Diary of Elisabeth Leseur – Elisabeth Leseur
The Sinner’s Guide – Luis de Granada
The Song of Bernadette – Franz Werfel
The Soul of the Apostolate – Jean Baptiste Chautard
The Spiritual Combat – Dom Lorenzo Scupoli
The Story of a Soul – St. Therese of Lisieux
The Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson
The World’s First Love – Fulton Sheen
The Wrinkle in Time Quintet – Madeleine L’Engle
Till We Have Faces – CS Lewis
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
What’s Wrong With the World – GK Chesterton
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

So I Lost My Planner/Journal Today….


I got to Kroger and as I stepped out of my car, I reached for my journal on the passenger seat and WHOOPS! IT’S NOT HERE. I had left it at Costco, probably on the baby/toddler seat plastic thingie on the cart, because my journal’s pink and I might not have noticed that I left it. :O

So I went ahead and grocery-shopped and then called Costco. Whew. Someone had turned it in and they had it at their office, so I’ll go pick it up sometime.

But as I shopped all kinds of thoughts were popping in my head, which I’m sharing here.

Of course I was upset that the planner/journal was lost, because it holds precious memories I wanted to remember/treasure, BUT I was also very thankful that although that journal holds some of my most private thoughts I wouldn’t necessarily post online, there was also nothing there that would possibly embarrass the person reading it, or me, or my spouse, or my children.

What I have in my planner/journal:

– project lists
– to-do lists
– grocery lists
– notes on homilies at Mass
– Scripture passages
– foods I want to eat
– saint quotes
– sections of the Catechism
– prayers
– prayer lists
– poems
– “processing”, like when I’ve got a particular thought that I’m trying to explore
– lyrics of songs that move me,
– lyrics of songs I’m working on
– mind maps
– notes on essays I’m working on

The journal pretty much contains the thoughts I have from day to day, but what a relief to know that I don’t have any deep, dark, hidden secrets that could scandalize others if they were exposed to light. And while there are things that are rightfully just between my Lord and me, as I continue to work on my salvation, what a relief to know that even if I were to lose my journal, it could potentially end up blessing, not harming, the person finding it.

Making Sense of Islam and ISIS (2 of 2)


Way past due compilation of news items and commentaries. Treating this like a homeschooler and educating myself. I’ve bolded the articles that I found most helpful to me. Note that inclusion on this list doesn’t mean I agree with the author or the article.

ISIS believes it is destined to fight “the armies of Rome” outside of Jerusalem. The Catholic is a member of that selfsame Army, fighting “the world, the flesh, and the devil” in and through the unity of the entire Church, a unity sacramentally re-presented in its earthly shepherd, the Pope, successor to the Apostle Peter, whose Seat is at Rome.
Quite like ISIS, we believe that we are destined to a Last Battle. But much to the disappointment of the easy, carnal convictions of ISIS theology — that bloodlust which attracts the moronic “gangster” culture to their ranks as much as believers — this Battle is not merely a temporal one. It is the daily struggle for holiness, the true “jihad” which ISIS-style worldliness renders stupid. – from BadCatholic

December 2015

4 Insane Reasons Why Liberals Admire and Romanticize Islam
100 Years Ago, Americans Talked About Catholics the Way They Talk About Muslims Today (Liberal) … ’cause you know, 100 years ago Catholics were beheading people, etc.
All Schools Shut Down in Virginia County Over Islam Homework
AP Source: Woman In Shooting Pledged Allegiance to ISIS
Cleric Denies Ties to San Bernardino Killers as Phone Records Surface
Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? (Francis Beckwith)
French Kicking Down Doors, Closing Mosques, Findng a LOT of ‘War-Grade’ Weapons
Hard Sayings About Terror
House to Probe Claims of Intelligence Manipulation
Members of the Female Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) Brigade Mutilates, Kills Breastfeeding Mom
Muslims in America: More Latinos Converting to Islam as US Population Grows, Report Claims
San Bernardino Eyewitness Account: Chris Nwadike (LA Times video)
San Bernardino Killers Illegally Modified Their Rifles to Carry More Ammo and Fire Bullets Faster
Search Underway for Afghan Trainees Missing from Air Base
The Terror This Time
Dr. Kashif Chaudhry on Pakistan
‘We Are Coming’: Threatening Pro-Islamic State Messages on US College Campus
What’s Worse: Banning Them or Bombing Them?
When A Mother Chooses Jihad Over Life


January 2016

About that Mosque President Obama Will be Visiting…
The American Taliban and the Assault on Memory
American Folk Singer Hopes Peace Concert for ISIS Will Win Over Terror Group
Bibi Wilhailm — Ihr macht Deutschland kaputt! Aufklärung einer 16 jährigen über Asylpolitik!
Boy’s Response to Blasphemy Charge Unnerves Many in Pakistan
Could Paris, Cologne Terror Attacks Happen in America?
David Garrison speaking at the Finishing the Task 2015 Conference at Saddleback Church
In Europe, Muslim Extremists Turn to Sexual Terrorism
On the Reformation of Islam
Priest: Pray for Jihadists’ Conversion — One of Them Could Be a Future St. Paul
Saudi Arabia’s Swan Song
Saudi Prince Picks Fight with Donald Trump on Twitter
Sweden to Expel 80,000 Failed Asylum-Seekers: 163,000 Refugees Applied for Asylum in 2015 (Ukraine Today video)
Twitter Fury After 1000 Muslims Sexually Attack Women: Germany Censors Media
Why Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God (Francis Beckwith)
Yes, Muslims Should Be Asked to Condemn Islamic Terror

February 2016

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?
Genocide is Also Killing Cultures and Destroying Communities
Ibn Rushd vs Ghazali: Did the Muslim World Take a Wrong Turn?
ISIS Beheads 15-year-old Iraqi Boy for Listening to Pop Music
ISIS Extremists Stone Four Women to death on Charges of ‘Committing Adultery’
Islam — Facts or Dreams?
New York High School Holds World Hijab Day
Two Turks Arrested by Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department for Gang Rape Robbery
Yazidi Women Tell How They Escaped Their ISIS Captors

Quote from a friend:

Much online commentary oscillates between two extremes: one side refuses to say anything against both Islam and Muslims, another side refuses to make any distinctions between the worst of Islam and all Muslims. I wish to have no part with either extreme. As a traditional Catholic I have strong opinions against the tenets of Islam — and “against” is an understatement. But as a Christian I cannot condemn all Muslims. I have little patience with those who refuse to make any connection between terrorism and some Islamic beliefs. I have the same impatience with those who say that there are no moderate or anti-extremist Muslims.

March 2016

393 to 0: US House Unanimously Declares ISIL IS Committing Genocide Against Christians
A 60 Minutes Crew Met Muslim Refugees. Things Went Really Wrong. Here’s the Tape.
Christianity is the Answer
Muslim Migrants Attack Australian News Crew in Sweden (video)
The Coming ISIS-al Qaeda Merger
The Pope and the Mongols
The Quran’s Deadly Role in Inspiring Belgian Slaughter
Three Sikh-American Soldiers File New Lawsuit Against US Department of Defense
To Maintain Supply of Sex Slaves, ISIS Pushes Birth Control
The West Won’t Even Defend Its Own Values. How Can It Be Expected to Defeat ISIS?
Two Women Risked Their Lives to Capture This Chilling Footage of Life Inside the Capital of ISIS

April 2016

Female Arab Journalist: Muslims Who Say Extremists ‘Do Not Represent Islam’ Are ‘Hypocrites’
First, Let’s Get the Facts on Saudi and Iranian Involvement in 9/11
First Syrian Family in Surge Resettlement Program Arrives in US
ISIS Fighter Numbers Drop in Syria, Iraq Amid US Military and Cyber Attacks
ISIS Taps Tech for Web Radio
Jordan’s Muslim King Abdullah to Fund Restoration of Jesus’ Tomb in Holy Sepulchre
Meriden Mosque Shooter Seeks Forgiveness From Muslim Community
Muslim Newscaster Shares Her Devotion to St. Charbel, Urges Peace
New Poll Finds Young Arabs Are Less Swayed by the Islamic State
Refugee Converts: “This Could Be My Death Sentence”
Syrian Government Takes Back al-Qaryatain from ISIS

May 2016

Blessed Anthony Neyrot was Catholic, Then Muslim, Then Catholic, Then Martyred
ISIS Sends Parents Body Parts of Daughters, Video Showing Their Brutal Rape and Torture
Meet the Kurdish Female Warrior Who Battles ISIS
The Crusades Were A Reasonable Response to Unchecked Islamic Aggression
Tom Rogan discussing ISIL Operations in Europe
What ISIS Wants (PragerU Video) (funny “bag-daddy”)

June 2016

How Can We Prevent Another Attack Like Orlando?
Iraqi Christian Details How ISIS Fighters ‘Married’ Her Only For Rape
ISIS Burns 19 Yazidi Women to Death in Mosul for ‘Refusing to Haave Sex with Fighters’

Other helpful thoughts for pondering:

Archbishop Sheen’s Prophetic Warning of 50 Years Ago: Mary and the Moslems; The Significance of Fatima
Flying Hijacked Planes into Glass Houses
The Road to Peace?
How Christians Deterred Me From Leaving Islam
The Sunni-Shia Divide (from the Council on Foreign Relations)
20 Answers: Islam by Prof. Andrew Bieszad
The Muslim World Needs Conversion, Not Understanding

Prayer Resources

30 Days of Prayer

Making Sense of Islam and ISIS (1 of 2)

Way past due compilation of news items and commentaries. Treating this like a homeschooler and educating myself. I’ve bolded the articles that I found most helpful to me. Note that inclusion on this list doesn’t mean I agree with the author or the article.


June 2014

Brigitte Gabriel Gives Fantastic Answer to Muslim Woman Claiming All Muslims Are Portrayed Badly

August 2014

You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

September 2014

Christianity and Islam: Are We At War? (Fr. Mitch Pacwa)
Regensburg Redux: Was Pope Benedict XVI right about Islam? (Analysis)

October 2014

Obama’s Former Pastor: I Helped Obama Accept Christianity Without Having to Renounce Islam

November 2014

How Does ISIS Fund Its Reign of Terror?

January 2015

From Napoleon to Bin Laden: France and Modern Terrorism

February 2015

The Atlantic’s Big Islam Lie: What Muslims Really Believe About ISIS
The Truth About the Islamic State and the End of Days Prophecy
What Is “Islamic”? A Muslim Response to ISIS and the Atlantic

March 2015

Ideological Foundations of Islamic Extremism (from Mindszenty Foundation)
What ISIS Really Wants

June 2015
Why Do People Become Islamic Extremists? (PragerU video featuring Haroon Ullah, senior State Department advisor and a foreign policy professor at Georgetown University)

August 2015

Germany’s Muslim Demographic Revolution
Islamic State: The Dutch Teen Who Maps the Jihadists

September 2015

Before Clock Incident Made Him a Celebrity, Ahmed Mohamed “Racked Up Weeks of Suspensions” and Clashed With Authority
For Christians and Yazidis Fleeing Genocide, the Obama Administration Has No Room at the Inn
For the Record: It IS About Islam
A German Town in Decline Sees Refugees As Path to Survival
Germany’s Plan for Migrants Will Reshape Its Future
Muslim Brotherhood Extremists Attack Journalists on the Streets of New York City
Why the West Turns a Blind Eye to Saudi Arabia’s Brutality

October 2015

The breaking of the Oslo Accords (Jordan Sekulow)
Can Islam and Individual Freedom Coexist?
The Confused Person’s Guide to the Syrian Civil War
Evangelist Franklin Graham Doubles Down on Shocking Proposal About Muslim Immigration
For the Record: Europe’s Migrant Crisis Could Put America at Risk
How to Defeat Religious Violence
ISIL Child Training Camp Discovered in Istanbul: Report
ISIS: What the “Do-Nothing” West Is Doing
Migrant Violence Increasing in Germany as 30-year-old Woman Attacked and Man Hospitalized at Student Football Match
Ministers Approve Mandatory Arabic Studies from First Grade
Pres. Obama’s Disastrous Consequences
Russia, Syria, the US and Israel
Stunning Interactive Map Shows the Thousands of Migrants Flocking to Europe Every Month and How 680,000 Have Arrived This Year Alone

November 2015

27 Iraqi Christians Face Deportation in US While Obama Offers Asylum to Thousands of Muslims from Syria
3 People Arrested in Belgium in Connection to Paris Attacks, Officials Say
‘A Shocking Truth Is Unfolding’: Matt Drudge Teases Bombshell Claim ABout US and Islamic State
A Thanksgiving Meditation on Freedom and Its Enemies
After Paris: Five Things We Need to Do Now to Protect America’s National Security (Jay Sekulow)
Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Obama’s Strategy on Islamic Extremism ‘Has Failed’
Ban the Burqa! This European Country Will Now Fine Women Up to $10,000 For Wearing a Head-to-Toe Burqa
The Barbarians Are Inside, and There Are No Gates (Mark Steyn)
Breaking: Putin Reveals ISIS Funded by 40 Countries, Including G20 Members
Can Muslims and Christians Coexist? ‘Of Gods and Men’ Offers an Answer
Catholic Schools Rule Out Islam for Religious Studies: Muslim Leaders Hit Back
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Gives Surprisingly Brutal Review of Obama’s Islamic State Claims at G-20 Summit
Do The Rest of ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Need to Die?
Egyptian Cleric: ISIS Grows Out of Islamic Mainstream
Emails Show DOD Analysts Told to ‘Cut It Out’ on ISIS Warnings; IG Probe Expands
Exclusive: Islamic State Fighter: Kill Women Who ‘Provoke Sexual Desires of Men’

I believe ISIS is partly due to Christian sins of omission. #EvangelizationFail – from Sr. Helena Burns

Exclusive: Islamic State: ‘The Threat to the United States’
The Fear of Being Called Phobic
Fears ISIS Could Poison Paris Water Supply
Former CIA Director Tells TheBlaze TV: Would be Surprised If Islamic State Didn’t Strike US Homeland Soon

Back in August of 2014, as the Islamic State was emerging on the world scene, I launched a petition calling on our government to lead an international effort to destory ISIS as a fighting force. Joined by friends from across the political spectrum, from Dr. Ben Carson to Professor Cornel West, I warned that ISIS was better equipped, better funded, and even more determined, ruthless, and brutal than al Qaeda. We warned that this terrorist organization could not be contained but must be destroyed. We further warned that a failure to destory it swiftly would permit it successfully to recruit terrorists who would carry out mass attacks in Europe and eventually in the United States. We further warned that with every passing day ISIS would grow stronger and more difficult to destroy. We pleaded for immediate and decisive action. Our plea went unheeded. What we got was too little, too late. Alas.

Here is the petition in full, from our website at – Excerpt, from Prof. Robert George

Gov Rep McSally: There are 10,000 IRS Agents for Charity Deductions, But Only Two Dozen People Focused on Countering ISIS
A Humble Plug for Refugees
I’m A Gay Man and Mass Muslim Immigration Terrifies Me (Milo Yiannopoulos)
‘I’m Coming Home’: Ahmed ‘Clock Kid’ Mohamed Meets With President Accused of War Crimes, Orchestrating Genocide
Iraq: 300 ISIS Militants Surrender to Peshmerga
ISIS, Liberal Democracy, and the Holy Catholic Church: A Call to Arms (Marc Barnes)
The Islamic State Wants You to Hate Refugees
‘It Is A Little Frightening’: Glenn Beck Reveals Little-Known Theory that Attempts to Explain Current Events
Maher: ‘Islam is a Problem,’ Saying Syrian Refugees Have Values at Odds with Ours ‘May Not Be Wrong’
Obama’s Intel Scandal
Obama, Speaking from the Ruins of His Own Policy
Paris Attacks: Many Arrested in Raids Across France
Paris Terrorist Was Migrant Who Registered as a Refugee in Greece
Pentagon Expands Inquiry Into Intelligence on ISIS Surge
Recognizing 8 Signs of Terrorism
Scandal: US Christian Groups Prioritize Muslim Refugees Over Christian Ones. Here’s Why
School of ISIS (PBS Frontline video)
Submission: A Novel
The Underground Revival in the Middle East That Might Take Down Islam
‘This is Looney Tunes’: Media Mocked Glenn Beck’s Caliphate Prediction
This Muslim TV Host Gave An Incredible Speech Following the Paris Terror Attacks
The World Is United Against ISIS, So What Do We Do? (Stephen Colbert with Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs
Two Major Victories for Christians
Why Hillary and Obama Prefer Islam to Christianity (Ben Shapiro)

What Nino Read, April 2016

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101 Secrets A Good Dad Knows – learned how to multiply any number from 1-100 by 11
A Little History of the World (history spine)
Abner Doubleday (COFA)
Airplanes by Gallimard Jeunesse
Artistic Pursuits Book 1 (doing art lessons from this now)
American History Mysteries
Ang Paglalakbay ni Butirik (the English section)
Baltimore First Communion Catechism (religion lessons from this book now)
Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema
Basketball for Young Champions – he LOVES playing basketball and usually challenges Dad to a game when Dad gets home from work
Boats by Gallimard Jeunesse
Buffalo Bill (COFA)
Cam Jansen and the Ghostly Mystery
Cam Jansen and the Wedding Cake Mystery
Curious George Visits the Library
Days of the Knights: A Tale of Castles and Battles
For the Love of the Game: My Story by Michael Jordan
Fruit by Gallimard Jeunesse
Get Into Gear, Stilton!
How Science Works
Hurricane and Tornado (DK Eyewitness Books)
If You Lived At the Time of the American Revolution
Joseph by Brian Wildsmith
King David and His Songs
Knucklehead (Jon Szieszka)
Math Quest: The Planet of Puzzles
Measuring Penny
Money: A Rich History
Moses (doing narration from this book today)
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
My Amazing Book of Egypt
My Five Senses by Aliki
Papa’s Latkes
Physics for Every Kid (doing experiments from this book now)
Pirates Past Noon (Magic Tree House #4)
Prima Latina (Latin lessons from this book now)
Samuel F .B. Morse by Jean Lee Latham
Scientific Progress Goes “Boink”
Singapore Math 2A (almost done)
Space Station: Accident on Mir
Stories of Wonder and Magic
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport
The Boxcar Children
The Camera by Gallimard Jeunesse
The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes
The Glorious Impossible
The Hard to Swallow Tale of Jonah and the Whale
The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook
The Human Body by Gallimard Jeunesse
The Kid Who Only Hit Homers
The Ladybug and Other Insects by Gallimard Jeunesse
The LEGO Ideas Book
The Little Book of Whittling
The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor
The Magician’s Nephew
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Can You Find It?
The New Way Things Work
The Polar Express
The Ring by Liza Maizlish
The Secret of the Caves
The Tree by Gallimard Jeunesse
The Triple Hoax
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!
The Twin Dilemma
The Two Towers
The Wishing Chair Collection
The World’s Best Fairytales
Tom Jefferson
Toto In Italy
What Do People Do All Day?
Yummy Yucky

Spotlight on Clergy Abuse


Important to understand:

1. Many claims of abuse are exaggerated.
2. Many claims are against deceased priests who cannot defend themselves.
3. The Church has already taken MANY steps, and continue to do so, to correct wrongs, and to prevent abuse from taking place, including child protection programs that involve laity. The responsibility for preventing abuse belongs to ALL of us.
4. The Church has done so much to prevent abuse from happening again that it is now one of the safest places to be.
5. Abuse in the Church is ONE symptom of the overall DISEASE that afflicts society. Abuse is EVERYWHERE — in our schools, in non-Catholic churches, in our families, in Hollywood, in day care, in sports teams, etc. There’s enough blame to go around, but it’s not surprising that the spotlight for the last couple of decades has been on the Church, because we tend to hold the clergy to a higher standard than we do other adults in positions of authority. Whether that’s fair or not, you decide.
6. Transparency and honesty are needed EVERYWHERE, not just the Church, if we are to stop the cycle of abuse.

In case it helps, some links:

– The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002: A Research Study Conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice:
– The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010: A Report Presented to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research Team
– March 2015 Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
– Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors articles:

Humans + Animal Behavior: Offensive or Not?

The Internet seems to have lost its collective brain cells again, this time thanks to boxing superstar and pride of the Philippines Manny Pacquiao’s statement on same sex “marriage”, saying,

Common sense lang. Makakita ka ba ng any animals na lalaki sa lalaki o babae sa babae? Mas mabuti pa iyong hayop, [chuckle] marunong kumikilala kung lalaki lalaki, babae kung babae. O di ba?  Ngayon kung lalaki sa lalaki o babae sa babae, e mas masahol pa sa hayop ang tao.

Celebrities, politicians, and other netizens took to social media to express their disgust and disapproval…. and this is where it gets funny. People are so offended that Manny Pacquiao compared homosexual behavior to animal behavior, AND YET, they use ANIMAL BEHAVIOR to defend homosexuality! In fact, animal behavior was the number one argument they used.

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So let’s get this straight. When it’s Manny Pacquiao comparing them to animals, it’s offensive, because RELIGION… but when they compare themselves to animals, it’s not offensive, because SCIENCE?

Thus it is NOT that Manny Pacquiao compared them to animals that’s offensive here, oh no, it is that Manny Pacquiao DARED to point out THE TRUTH as consonant with his religious beliefs.

Let’s have a moment of honesty here, shall we, folks?

Following animal behavior defenders’ logic, Manny Pacquiao’s views on homosexuality would be ACCEPTABLE if only he didn’t express them from his point of view as a person of faith. If Manny Pacquiao were an atheist saying homosexual behavior is animal behavior, he would be embraced by the LGBT community for proclaiming exactly THE TRUTH that they use to defend themselves!

You know, there used to be a time when being compared to an animal was considered an insult. Parents taught their children civilized behavior. Table manners, learning to take turns and share, treating others as one would like to be treated… inside and outside the home we expect people to act exactly like they’re supposed to: like human beings.

We took pride in being CIVILIZED, EDUCATED, even WELL-BRED. Many of those behaviors that we call MORAL were/are part of the whole Judeo-Christian set of beliefs, though we rarely thought of them that way. But now we find it offensive when we are reminded to act like human beings. What have we become?

Besides the obvious cognitive dissonance, one can’t help but question the animosity displayed towards Manny Pacquiao. Everyone is proud of him, proud of him representing the Philippines at the boxing ring, but please oh please keep your religious beliefs to yourself because you then become a national embarrassment? Who’s discriminating now? Tolerance for all, but not for Manny or anyone else unless they (we) all buy into something that goes against their (our) faith?

For the record, Manny Pacquiao has apologized for his words. Indeed, it is not charitable, Christian behavior to compare people to animals, no matter how they act, precisely because we were created to be higher than animals.

God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female — He created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food, and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. – Genesis 1:27-30

This is why we think, we reason, we love, we exercise self-control. We have intelligence far above animals, and we can put our instincts, our emotions, our thoughts, our desires, under the control of our will. We can make decisions on wrong and right behavior. We understand concepts like “common good”. We know that all our actions have consequences, and can therefore choose, time and again, to behave in a manner that neither hurts another person or ourselves, and that includes, whether we like it or not, sexual behavior.

Culture of Life Rising (Abortion Compilation) | August 2015 – January 2016


I haven’t been able to blog much lately. Busy with several projects and expect to remain this busy until the latter half of the year. Also need to declutter my digital space badly, so for a while, my posts here will probably consist of compilations — articles I’ve read and saved on various notepads (by topic) and really need to process somehow. I’ve grouped them by sub-topic to make it easier to find them again when I need them. Hopefully my groupings will be helpful to you too.

Through the Eyes of Faith
Marching for Life, Mother Teresa, and Mrs. Clinton
Chiara Corbella Petrillo: 21st Century Witness to Love
Letter from a Pregnant Nun Who Was Raped
There is no equivalence
Laughing at dead babies and the avenging conscience
Pope Francis on Abortion’s “Innocent Victims:” “It’s Wrong to Look the Other Way or Remain Silent”

Conversions of the Heart
NBC’s Gifford Blames Abortionist Kermit Gosnell for Real ‘War on Women’
“The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head”
I Don’t Know if I’m Pro-Choice After Planned Parenthood Videos
Pro-choice, but with open eyes, heavy heart
A Tale of Two Baby Boys Slated for Abortion
A Millennial’s Take on the Culture’s Acceptance of Abortion

In the Year of Mercy
When my abortion is forgiven by the Catholic church, I will be free — Note that the sin of abortion has always been considered forgivable (as all sins are) by the Catholic Church, but its gravity is not in the same league as talking back to your parents, let’s say, and therefore someone confessing this sin would have had to receive extra guidance than would typically be available in the daily/weekly Confessional. In allowing the sin of abortion to be forgiven via regular channels, Pope Francis a requirement that was considered a huge burden by many (mostly from misunderstanding), but at the same time it also places a much larger responsibility on priests. If you don’t understand this, consider your child coming to you and confessing that he has murdered someone. What would you say and do, how would you react? THAT’S how heavy that burden is — there’s no way to take it lightly, not by the sinner, and not by the priest in the Confessional.
On Pope Francis and abortion: a reply to Fritzie Rodriguez
Pope Francis on reconciliation for abortion
Holy Year Gestures on Abortion and the SSPX: 12 Things to Know and Share

Non-Believer but Pro-Life
You Can Be An Atheist And Still Be Pro-Life

Hippocrates Who?
Abortion workers reveal disturbing facts about abortion industry
How the ‘abortion pill’ Mifegymiso could change reproductive health
Suppressing Awareness Regarding Breast Cancer
Since Abortion Was Legalized in the U.S., Women’s Risk of Breast Cancer Has Quadrupled
Abortion is the Primary Preventable Risk Factor for Breast Cancer
New Docs Confirm UMass Purchased Fetal Cadavers for Use in Humanized Mice as StemExpress Dumps Planned Parenthood
Boston Children’s Hospital Has Been Using Brains of Aborted Children in Research for Years
Why We Don’t Need Fetal Cells to Conduct Life-Saving Research

Surrogate defies biological parents’ abortion demand

Tales of the Misled, Corrupted and Pseudo-Scienced
Woman charged with attempted murder in failed abortion
Herbal Abortion Experiences in the Philippines
Poll: More Than 40% of Women Having an Abortion Attend Church, 70% Say They are Christians
Catholic Colleges Collude with Planned Parenthood
‘Leftovers’ Star Amy Brenneman: Abortion is Being ‘Demonized’
Back to Science Class for the Science Guy
I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and the choice

The Hard Cases: Rape, Incest, Life of Mother
Philippa Taylor: Abortion is no answer to children conceived through rape or suffering fatal fetal abnormality
Report from LTI speaker Jannique Stewart, on her debate at Florida Atlantic University with Dr. Ethelene Jones of the ACLU and former director of Planned Parenthood
Catholic Hospitals Are Right, Abortion is Rarely Medically Necessary

Culture of Life Rising
Pro-life activist heads to court to defend undercover videos
Closed Planned Parenthood Facility Purchased by Pro-Lifers Re-Opens as Pregnancy Center

It is increasingly clear to me that as the culture continues to degrade we are wasting valuable time trying to change the minds of college students. Unlike most HS students they have been fed a bunch of lies from their liberal teachers and pop culture for too many years. Also, HS students are not generally as sexually active as college students and, therefore, have not developed sophisticated coping mechanisms for defending immoral behavior.

On the other hand college outreach represents a good training ground for our staff, interns and volunteers because we get to respond to the party line pro-abortion arguments. – From From Mark Harrington and Created Equal

Meet The Pro-Life Millennial
Taking Back Our Pink
The Wall of Secrecy Is Crumbling…
#ShoutYourAbortion? How Could Anyone Shout Her Abortion?
I’m a Pro-Life Female Attorney, I Didn’t Have to Abort My Baby to Advance My Career
When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense
Can National Pro-Life Health Centers Become the Cure for Planned Parenthood?
Now hospitals are saving babies born at just 22 weeks: Medical advances raise new doubts on abortion limit
Planned Parenthood issue isn’t going to go away

Master Manipulators
The three types of men who support abortion
Reuters Agrees to Correct Questionable Abortion Statistic
Watch the Shocking Scene From ABC’s ‘Scandal’ That’s Being Lambasted as ‘Stomach Churning’ — and Listen for Song Playing in Background
Obama Administration Paid for Research Using Intact Human Brains From Aborted Babies
New Abortion Panel Bought & Paid For
Baby Development… and Murder
Liam Neeson and Amnesty International get abortion wrong
Obama Science Czar Hides E-mails
Woman: Planned Parenthood pressured me to ‘donate’ my aborted baby
Now We Know Why Reporters Won’t Cover The Planned Parenthood Videos

The Real War on Women
‘One Child,’ by Mei Fong
Naresh Patel, who attempted “abortions” on non-pregnant women, sentenced to 18 days
The Fashion of Abortion
Dr. Drew is Deluded: Blah Blah Blah

On Killing Abortionists
Killing Abortionists: A Symposium

Abortion Law
Supreme Court Review Puts Abortion At A Crossroads
Supreme Court agrees to hear biggest abortion case in two decades
The Surprising Ways Other Countries Think About Abortion

Wisdom for the Battle
4 Reasons Pro-Lifers Need to Stop Doing This
If abortion kills children, act like it.
The Surprising Ingredient To Creating A Pro-Life Culture
The Myth of the Pregnancy Rewind
‘We Are Ambassadors to the Pro-Life Cause’
What are The Best and Worst Biblical Arguments for the Pro-Life View on Abortion?
A Letter to Jennie

First Person
The Timeline Of What It’s Really Like To Go Through An Abortion
Archbishop Cupich’s Seamless Bulletproof Vest for Pro-Choice Politicians: An Open Letter to the Archbishop of Chicago on Planned Parenthood and Poverty

Religious Liberty
Southern Nazarene Universty v. Burwell

Abortion Survivors
Why Abortion Survivors’ Stories Should Be Heard

The Truth Will Out
UN Data Backs Pope on Abortion and Contraception, Climate Alarmists Disappointed

Voices of Sanity
I Should Be Able To Murder You In a Safe, Clean, Legal Way
Abortion Is The New Slavery
A Miscarriage of Humanity: A Brief History of Abortion Arguments
Wouldn’t More Women Die if Roe Fell?
Feminism and the Unraveling of the Social Bond

Folks, when are we going to learn that abortion empowers men and not women? There is an article on Slate about Jacqueline Smith, a woman who died in an illegal abortion in 1955 (link in the first comment). They are trying to use it to make the case for legal abortion of course, but it actually makes the case against it.

Jacqueline Smith was in College, away from her family. She found out she was pregnant and she thought her boyfriend was going to marry her but he told her that she was going to have an abortion. Sounds familiar? This is exactly what happened to me 21 years ago.This happens all the time. Men coercing into/forcing abortion on women who comply out of fear.

The difference is that Smith’s controlling boyfriend arranged for a butcher to come to his apartment and the botched abortion sadly claimed her life but the narrative is still the same. – Beatrice Fedor

Six Weeks Off FB: (Not the Usual) Lessons Learned


Growing in our spiritual life means that we sometimes need to do hard things. Leaving Facebook was one of those things for me. I’ve posted before my main reasons for leaving, but as I’ve been gone these six weeks I’ve been working on attaining greater purity and rectitude of intention with regards to the use of social media, and I share these in the hopes that they may help someone else. But first this, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices.

On becoming frustrated with the slowness and the challenges of pro-life work:

From Father’s homily a couple of weeks ago:

How do you respond when there are tensions in a group? Do you say “I’m fed up, enough for me?” Or do you work through the tensions, accepting that it’s refining, changing, like gold in fire, as you all grow in charity and holiness? Do we allow peculiarities/oddities to grate on us — do we grow in annoyance, or do we grow in affection? Do we recognize that it’s holiness in the making?

From a conversation with my daughter:

Once we’re in the pro-life movement, we just need to accept that people will never not need information and education. We may need to repeat ourselves a hundred times before a message penetrates, takes root, or moves people to action.

On being overwhelmed with human need and suffering, especially those I feel powerless to help with (like Paris over the weekend):

If certain problems are beyond our power to change, at least we can contribute the warmth of our friendship. True love can overcome any obstacle. – In Conversation with God

On becoming upset/annoyed at noise/content:

Jesus does not distance himself from sinners. The life of Christ is a continual reaching out to souls in need. Jesus intends to serve everyone, not only those who follow his call, but even those who seem completely hardened to the divine Word. – In Conversation with God, Volume 5

So much of social media is noise, and the Hide, Block, and Unfriend buttons make it easy to make judgments one shouldn’t make. Where engagement was uncalled for, prayer should have been my automatic response, but it often wasn’t. My knee jerk response was “I don’t want/need to see this.”

I curated my feed so that noise was minimized, but while practicing custody of the eyes and ears is essential, there is also the danger of objectification — “I only want to see/hear from you if what you’re saying/doing enriches me.” Instead of allowing the Lord to bless and sanctify each moment of encounter, I get preoccupied with the CONTENT, instead of the PERSON behind the content. I decry fakeness and demand authenticity, but even when authenticity is on full display I refuse to meet people where they are. I wanted those friendships, but only on MY TERMS.

On being exhausted:

This requires an intense spiritual stamina as compared to the passive state of daily mechanical work; but this stamina perishes in the long run if not refreshed by the eternal wellspring. – Edith Stein/St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Woman

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. – from Isaiah 30:15

I didn’t recognize spiritual depletion because I had not stopped praying daily. My mistake was in assuming that that was enough. I had let it get to the point where I was practically running on empty and felt I had nothing left to give. But what I needed to do was to actively pursue the Lord, even more than before. Because of the work I was involved in, I needed MORE of Him, not less; certainly not status quo. Simply put, I couldn’t give what I didn’t have.

Mindfulness in the age of social media can be tricky, as the pendulum can swing both ways — we can engage too much than is necessary or helpful, but we could go the other extreme of excessive withdrawal from people. Balance can only be reached by a careful consideration of how we engage. As an introvert getting to that balance was important to me.

More helpful reading, if you like, on the next page:

Mama Mary, the Rosary, and Me


She was there when I learned my first prayers, in bed with my mom waiting for Papa to get home, the Sacred Heart of Jesus image in the hallway lit, as we prayed the Angelus and Mommy taught me how to use her Rosary beads.

She was there as I was growing up, praying the nightly family Rosary, kneeling all together in my parents’ bedroom, at times being overcome with distractions and giggling fits. My cousins and I were a bunch of silly teens; I hardly knew her and gave no thought to what role she played in my life.

When we moved to the US, she was there every morning as my mom and I walked the seven blocks to the bus stop for our daily commute to work and school, in the middle of winter, bundled up in scarves and bonnets and boots, our gloved hands fingering the Rosaries in our coat pockets, mine a silver-beaded one, from an aunt who had visited Rome.

She was there when I was heartbroken and lonely, crying my heart out in front of the Blessed Sacrament. She taught me to cling to her Son no matter what life brings.

She was there when I met my future husband, and when I taught him how to pray the Rosary. She was there the day I said yes, the promise sealed by the green crystal beads that I gave him.

She was there through the pangs of childbirth, and during the busy, stress-filled years of young parenthood, when I’d lose the habit of prayer and find it again… through every illness, major decision, and milestone.

She was there when my husband decided we needed to recommit ourselves to nightly family prayer, and she’s been there for every child who learned how to pray and lead the Mysteries in their turn.

She was there when I made my consecration in 2008, and when the first three kids made theirs.

She was there on my husband’s 50th birthday, when I gave him a brand new Rosary with lapis lazuli beads, the work of my hands.

She was there as our oldest children learned to drive, her motherly love around me as I battled with myself to let go and let God. She was there when our oldest son got lost for two hours in the mountains of West Virginia on a camping trip. And she was there when our 24-year-old’s car broke down in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota, keeping our daughter company as she waited several hours for help.

She was there on our boys’ first road trip, smiling down at me when I texted them that I had finished praying my Rosary for them, and they texted back that they had just finished praying all twenty Mysteries, and I breathed a sigh of relief. She quiets the quaking in me and helps me find peace in the midst of this noisy world.

She was there when our youngest child learned to pray his first Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

She was there when we took my mom to the hospital recently. She held my mom’s heart and mine in hers, as we sat there late at night, praying together, our lives drawn full circle, the faith passed on from mother to child, and then mother to child again. In blessing and in pain, she keeps our eyes on Him Who gives us our purpose and reason for being.

Through it all, she has shown me what it means to believe, believe in, and trust my Creator. Though my stubbornness and pride know no bounds, she has taken me from fiat to fiat, and with every one I utter, I learn to pattern myself after her obedience and her humility. Who else can teach me these lessons best, if not our Blessed Mother, the very first disciple? Where else do I turn when I need to understand that a life of freedom means a life of surrender? Mama Mary has taught me to praise, to worship, with my life. She has helped me listen to the Holy Spirit, to define my vocation as woman, wife, and mother. I’ve celebrated the joyful, mourned the sorrowful, and learned from the illuminated mysteries of my own life, following in her footsteps, praying that as the Lord was magnified in her soul, He will be magnified in mine.

Mama Mary, ora pro nobis!

O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life. Grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Further reading:

Where Did the Rosary Originate?
33 Days to Becoming a Saint
Ring Around the Rosary

How Do We Help Others Carry the Cross?


Much guidance can be found on how to suffer profitably, how to think of suffering, and why it even exists. But one of the things I’ve struggled with in my prayer life is how to pray for loved ones who find themselves in the midst of suffering. And now that I seem to be surrounded by so much of it, I find myself asking these questions again.

Several years back, my husband had to undergo three surgeries in the span of two years. Like many men though, he somehow knows how to suffer well, and other than play Florence Nightingale and do all the things I do anyway as his wife, there wasn’t much beyond prayer that I could offer.

Trust an overthinker to even worry about this, but my question always has been: Should we be praying that our loved ones be relieved, spared, or healed, knowing that they are being purified and perfected, and that this is their opportunity to unite their pain with Christ’s cross, which cannot be wrenched apart from salvation?

There are those who are able to see gift and grace even in suffering; there are those who don’t. A quiet suggestion to “offer it up” isn’t something one can say to everyone, only to those who understand and appreciate the redemptive value of suffering. And what of the loved one who refuses to let you share his pain, wanting to spare you what he wrongly assumes would be a burden to you?

Ultimately how a person handles suffering is between him and his Father. Will it make him turn away from God, or cause him to cling even more?

I’ve been reading Job lately and seeing myself in his friends. Well-meaning though they were, I couldn’t help but breathe a mea culpa in those instances when it seemed they did nothing but add insult to injury. To sit and simply listen to another’s woes, to refrain from saying the wrong thing or offering unwanted advice, to watch in silence… all these can be tough, but sometimes they’re all we’re called to do.

In the end, our prayer needs to be “Your Will be done.” And yet even Jesus in Gethsemane asked His Father, if possible, to let that cup pass from Him.

We are blessed when we are able to directly ease another person’s pain, but what about those times when we aren’t able to? There is, of course, the natural desire to see people delivered from it because it pains us to see them suffer — is it selfishness then to ask for that? The temptation to turn away can get unbearable sometimes. Simon of Cyrene didn’t exactly volunteer to get that close to Jesus and His Cross, though he was transformed in a way he couldn’t have been, had he stayed a bystander. I often pray that my intentions be purified, that my thoughts and prayers be rooted in love. We can pray for grace, not only for our loved ones who carry their crosses, but also for ourselves who walk this path with them.

We are not guaranteed a pain-free existence in this world, no matter how our suffering-averse society tries to convince us of it. More than any physical pain, though, the spiritual struggle is an unavoidable component of any suffering. Whether suffering is temporary or one that brings our loved ones to life’s end, inviting them to focus their eyes past the Cross, to the eternal happiness that awaits, is the most compassionate thing we can do.

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him,” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

On this, Pope Saint John Paul II’s feast day, I take much comfort in thinking upon his life, for he too, suffered much. Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

Helpful reading:

Salvifici Doloris
Making Sense Out of Suffering
Love and Suffering: The Paradox of Love
A Tsunami Cannot Be Drawn in Pastels: On Dignity and Suffering

The Gentle and Arduous Task of Shepherding Little Souls


Yesterday after supper, the 6-year-old squeezed himself into the space between me and the back of the couch while I tried to catch up on reading. He does this often, using me alternately as pillow, footrest, jungle gym or whatever else suits his mood and restless muscles. It’s like having a cat except mine’s heavier, not furry, and talks. And doesn’t cause fits of sneezing. Usually he reads while I work, but last night after several minutes of performing his usual acrobatics beside, on, and around me, he got serious.

“What if I don’t remember my sins, Mommy?”

It took me a second to focus on what he was saying and recall that we were doing a bit of sacramental preparation the last couple of weeks, specifically Confession. To keep it simple, I had summarized it as “remembering your sins and telling them to the priest who is Jesus’ representative here on earth”. (It will be a while until his First Confession, so please pray for him.)

“I can give you a little notebook, and you can write them in there at night before we pray.”
“Can you write them down for me?”

I started launching into an explanation of why it’s a good idea to recall our sins at night, so we can pray about them, ask God’s forgiveness, and ask for His help so that we don’t make the same mistakes the next day… but I hadn’t quite finished when he interrupted me, tearing up a bit.

“Kuya and I had a fight last night.” (Kuya = Big Brother in Filipino)

“Yes, you did.”
“I spat at him,” he said, looking very remorseful and sad.

So we covered apologies, and forgiveness, and trying again. And I told him about a close relative who used to do the same thing because it was one of the things he could do when he got into a fight, since being little meant being unable to land punches as effectively as a big person can.

We laughed a bit, but then he got serious and teary-eyed again.

“What if someone always makes you mad? And what do you do when someone kicks you?”

As I probed further, I found out that he had a fight with a friend on a recent camping trip, and the friend kicked him, and he kicked the boy back. Dad joined us briefly to discuss things in more detail, and to plan what needs to be done next: he will sit down with the boys face to face and get to the bottom of things, and give them some instruction so it doesn’t happen again. The boys had been roughhousing at the campout, as boys are wont to do, and there were adults around, but I guess no one noticed much that was of concern to them.

Except that my boy is a sensitive soul and he thinks about these things long after they’ve happened.

There’s the concern, of course, that the boy is a bit older and bigger than him, but I didn’t want to use the word “bully” because I didn’t want my child getting locked into labeling someone who, most likely, is also still learning how to manage emotions and control impulses. That the child belongs to a strong Christian family, friends of ours, puts our minds at ease too.

Beyond this, though, my child was concerned that this friend seems to know just what buttons to push, and that he often ends up getting angry.

I explained how certain people just manage to rub us the wrong way at times. And how there are things that need to be brought to the attention of adults right away, BUT that there are also things that we can choose NOT to get upset or offended about, and that there are unpleasant things in life we can learn to just let go, or avoid altogether if avoidance would be best for everyone concerned. I gave him suggestions on healthy ways to express anger that doesn’t hurt him or someone else. And we talked about how being angry or offended about too many things isn’t a good formula for happiness.

A few more minutes of hugging and reassuring and he was back to making fart jokes.

I’m sure my son doesn’t realize it, but as I’m shepherding his heart and soul, he shepherds mine. He has such a simple and profound way of looking at the world and the bottom line of things. It’s almost heartbreaking to see him grapple with these thoughts and concerns at such a young age, but I am also deeply, infinitely blessed by his musings. What a privilege and a responsibility to tend to the little ones in His flock. I am awed at the wonder of it, and humbled and grateful that God saw it fit to make me his mother. Thank You, Lord.

Today, as we celebrate the canonization of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, I pray that we parents take inspiration from them as we grow our own families. Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us!

Help! We’re having a baby! How do I homeschool the toddler/older child(ren)?


[I wrote this post a year ago because a friend who was new to homeschooling AND was expecting a baby wanted to know how she could possibly homeschool when the demands on her time potentially could be endless. Reposting it for another friend who’s due with her fourth child soon and slightly panicking.]

The key thing to remember when you have a baby is to SET PRIORITIES.

#1 Priority: The Baby. Which means, YOU, the mom. You need to be getting sleep (with the understanding that moms don’t get a lot, but get as much as you can). Things that can help:

– Is dad going to be able to take off work? If he is, take advantage of that, and GET SLEEP. Cleaning the house, etc., can wait. Dad will need sleep too. Napping with baby on his chest? Awesome. That’s why all our kids are close to dad.

– If laundry needs doing, one load a day. Have older child help with sorting/folding. Good activity to do when baby’s napping.

#2 Priority: Food. Before baby is born, prepare freezer meals, at least a couple of weeks’ worth, so that all dad or older child(ren) will have to do is heat up food. Don’t stress it though. If you have to resort to freezer-to-microwave meals from the store, or Chinese, or fast food, or pizza delivery, that’s okay. You’re not going to keel over and die from fast food (not right away anyway [wink]).

#3 Priority: Homeschooling. I put this here because I know that’s your biggest worry, but I wanted to illustrate that it really should be last after the above are taken care of. Because homeschooling is LIFE. Our children will learn far more from LIVING life with a new baby than from any other formal lesson they’ll have about reading or math or science.

  • Children will learn that sometimes you just need to go with the flow. A baby, esp. the first few weeks of life, dictates the schedule. Build the rest of your day around the baby. When the baby naps, go nap with the older kids too. At the very least cuddle on the couch and read favorite books. Or older child reads to toddler. Work out things so you all have DOWN TIME or QUIET TIME once or twice a day. Put on some classical music or an audiobook for the older child to listen to. THIS WILL BE YOUR LITERATURE AND MUSIC LESSON.
  • There will be many areas of concern, but I want to address the 3 basics — food, clothing, shelter. Past the first couple of weeks, when life starts to normalize a bit more, get older child to help you cook. Simple meals only, or assembly type food items. THIS WILL BE YOUR READING, MATH AND SCIENCE LESSON. Learning to follow a recipe is an important life skill and it will carry on to other skills. Loading a dishwasher is also a lesson in Math/Geometry. Math worksheets (Singapore Math make them really colorful and fun) are great if you just want to make sure she’s practicing her computation skills.
  • Sorting clothes can be a lesson for the toddler. THIS IS A MATH SKILL. Sort clothes into piles (Dad, Mom, Big Sis, Me, Baby), Big Sis or mom folds.
  • Turn cleaning into a game. Sing songs and/or set a timer. “Let’s see how much clutter we can put away in five minutes!! Go!”
  • Live the liturgical year. Morning prayer, grace at meals, night prayer. Read a saint’s bio a day, talk about that saint’s life, what he/she did to become a saint. There’s your RELIGION LESSON.
  • Encourage your older child to keep a journal. This will take care of WRITING AND NARRATION SKILLS. If a child is not particularly fond of HANDwriting, require only a few sentences (depending on age and maturity). The rest can be done via computer, either the child keyboarding herself/himself, or record audio/video narrations.
  • STOP worrying about the AMOUNT of learning that’s going on, or covering a certain number of chapters per week. Much of learning isn’t measurable anyway. Just make sure you surround them with TRUE, GOOD, BEAUTIFUL. Strew good books around, on a variety of subjects. The child will pick up those books because THEY’RE ACCESSIBLE. Hang fine artwork around the house, even if it’s just postcards. OR, set up your screensaver to rotate artwork. You can do Matisse for a week, Monet for the next, etc.
  • Get out as much as you can, every day, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day. You’ll need fresh air and sun, and exercise. While you’re out, take note of things like the sky, trees around you, rocks, etc. RELIGION AND SCIENCE LESSON right there. If/when you can go out to a park or a nature trail, take a field guide or two with you, a magnifying glass, binoculars, so you can identify trees, leaves, birds, etc. Bring a small bag for adding a bit to a child’s rock or leaf collection, and a small journal plus pencils so they can document what they see/observe.
  • Grocery shopping = MATH LESSON. Also HEALTH — Why do we buy this item vs. that. Why this vegetable/fruit is good for you. Where do we get protein and why do we need it? etc.
  • If you can, WEAR BABY. This will do wonders in keeping him/her happy and you being able to do stuff around the house and making yourself available to the other kids.
  • The baby becomes the lesson! Borrow children’s books from the library on human development. One book I would recommend — Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman. (I can list more recommendations if you like.) Great time to talk about biology. TOB!
  • Let older child help out as much as he/she can. This will help dissipate any feelings of envy and give her a wonderful sense of accomplishment.
  • Do make sure that when Dad’s home and taking care of baby, that toddler and older child get LOTS of hug time, better if individually. What we’ve also done in the past is sometimes have Mom, older child and baby in the family bed, and dad and toddler in another bed. (These are just suggestions; I will not further address co-sleeping because every family is different.)
  • What’s most daunting, I think for most moms with toddlers, is keeping the toddler occupied. Rotate toys/manipulatives to keep them interesting. Duplo, wooden blocks, pattern blocks, large puzzles, playdough (make or buy these before baby comes), finger paints (outside so you don’t have to worry about cleanup), etc. If summer, a sandbox + diff. size cups, and water box outside will keep toddler occupied for hours. Even just a plastic container with a lid will do, you don’t have to get a real sandbox. Also, GOOD VIDEOS (i.e., Veggie Tales or educational ones) — don’t worry about having to resort to these if you need your nap. It’s not going to be forever!
  • Educational videos for the older child/children too ARE OKAY. There are so many available, you won’t run out! So it’s not ideal. So what? You’re also teaching FLEXIBILITY.
  • More than anything, just RELAX. When our kids see us taking life one day at a time, not majoring in the minors, not stressing over the petty things, THAT’S a valuable lesson. It teaches them how to trust and live in God’s grace and His perfect time. You can do this, Sis!!