Saturday, August 28, 2010

Are ya ready for some football?

Bam-bam is ....

hmmm, wonder who he'll be rooting for????


Feast Day: St. Augustine of Hippo

Yesterday, we prayed to Saint Monica for the conversion of all our friends, relatives and benefactors.  Today, we pray to St. Augustine of Hippo, her son, for all those who have problems with addictions, problems with their lifestyles, and for their continued conversions to the Faith.

St. Augustine, after years of tears and prayers from his mother and the assistance of St. Ambrose (bishop of Milan), became a Christian, selling his property, giving the proceeds to the poor, and founding a monastery (now known as the Augustinians). He became a monk, priest, preacher, bishop, and Doctor of the Church.

I particularly like St. Augustine because he was a very human reprobate who repented and gave it all over to God -- surely a sign that we too, can give up our less than stellar lives and become what God would have us be?

St. Augustine of Hippo, pray for us!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feast Day: St. Monica (mother of St. Augustine)

Today is the feast of St. Monica (322-387).  She is remembered as St. Augustine's mother ... a mother who prayed constantly for 30 some years for her son to convert from his evil ways and turn to God and His Church. 

Here is a very cool three-day novena I found that we will start praying today ... and for the next two days ... to help pray for all our freinds,r elatives and benefactors who are fallen-away Catholics or luke-warm Catholics and for non-Catholics; we will also pray that there may one day be unity amongst all Christians under the one true Church:


This Three-Day Novena may be begin three days before or on the feast days of St. Monica August 27, St. Augustine - August 28, St. Augustine's birthday - November 13, St. Augustine's Baptism - April 24
St. Monica, pray for us

FIRST DAY -- Prayer for Faith

O glorious St. Monica, transfixed with sorrow when you saw your beloved child Augustine living in the dark and gloomy abyss of error and vice, and straying far from the right path which leads to true felicity in the possession of God and His holy grace, hear our prayer, O afflicted mother. By that cruel sorrow, which with so much patience you did bear, and by those earnest sighs and bitter tears with which you did appeal to God to change the heart of your prodigal son, and by your wondrous confidence in God, which was never shaken, O grant to us, your children, that we may, like you, place all our trust in God, and in our trials and troubles be ever resigned to His holy will. While we ask you, O glorious mother St. Monica, to supply for us our special needs, we here earnestly ask you to pray for the erring children of Jesus, so many Augustines, straying from God and hurrying to ruin. Let that earnest prayer of yours go forth once more for us and for sinners, that we may live in the light of divine grace and be united again thereafter to bless the bounty of a loving God for eternity. Amen.

LET US PRAY. O God, look graciously down upon Your children who sigh in this valley of tears. With hope we pray for our daily bread, for the forgiveness of our sins, for the never-failing help of Your grace, and for the faithful fulfillment of Your promises: to find life everlasting and a happy abode with You in heaven, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.

May God, through the merits and intercession of Saint Monica, increase our faith, strengthen our hope, and enkindle the fire of charity in our hearts. Amen.

Our Father . . . Hail Mary . . . Glory Be. . . Saint Monica, pray for us.

SECOND DAY -- Prayer for Hope

O glorious mother, St. Monica, although the many means you employed to accomplish the conversion of your son Augustine seemed fruitless, and for a long time God Himself appeared deaf to your earnest prayer and unmoved by your ever-flowing tears, you never lost confidence in obtaining the long-sought grace for Augustine. You lovingly and tenderly admonished your erring son; you watched over him ever with all a mother's love, and fearless of danger and heedless of fatigue, followed him from place to place in his weary and wayward wanderings. In a word, all that a mother's tender love could suggest, all that a mother's anxious solicitude could inspire, all that a wondrous prudence and true wisdom could dictate, you, O great St. Monica, cheerfully did to effect the return to God of your firstborn and darling child. By all these generous efforts, so happily crowned in the end, hear, O mother, the petitions we make to you. Pray for us, too, and pray especially for those who are unmindful of and ungrateful to God. To you, O dearest mother, we are especially dedicated; look upon us, then, as your children, and win for us the grace we need. Regard mercifully the most destitute among us, that sin being diminished, the number of the faithful may increase, and greater glory may be given to Him who is the best of friends, the truest of benefactors, our first beginning and last end, the source of all our hope, our Savior, our God. Amen.

LET US PRAY. O God, look graciously down upon Your children who sigh in this valley of tears. With hope we pray for our daily bread, for the forgiveness of our sins, for the never-failing help of Your grace, and for the faithful fulfillment of Your promises: to find life everlasting and a happy abode with You in heaven, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.

May God, through the merits and intercession of Saint Monica, increase our faith, strengthen our hope, and enkindle the fire of charity in our hearts. Amen.

Our Father . . . Hail Mary . . . Glory Be . . . Saint Monica, pray for us.

THIRD DAY -- Prayer for Charity

O glorious mother St. Monica who can conceive the consolation that abounded in your heart, so long the home of brooding sorrow, when you saw your child Augustine rising in the light of grace and giving himself generously to God. When you folded your converted son in your arms and tears of every joy streamed forth to tell the glowing jubilee of your heart, Oh, how in that moment God in his mercy recompensed your years of sorrow and anxiety, your long and weary days of racking suspense. It was impossible that a child of tears like yours should perish and when your son Augustine heard the call of God he obeyed it, and his life and his deeds flung a luster all their own on you, St. Monica. O fortunate mother, twice mother of your child, deign to listen to our prayers and present our petitions to God. Look lovingly, and with all a mother's interest on us assembled here, under your protection, to honor you. We love you and let us become, as St. Augustine of old, the objects of your maternal love. Pray that we, too, like St. Augustine, may have strength to cling to God, and triumph over sin and temptation. By your prayers break the fetters of sin that hold in cruel bondage the souls of your sinful children in this world. O mother, pray that the miracle of grace in the heart of Augustine may again and again be repeated in these day of universal sin, and that the erring children of Jesus may be led back to the fold so that united here on earth, we may securely go through the dangers of life and be united with you, our mother, in heaven forever. Amen

LET US PRAY. O God, look graciously down upon Your children who sigh in this valley of tears. With hope we pray for our daily bread, for the forgiveness of our sins, for the never-failing help of Your grace, and for the faithful fulfillment of Your promises: to find life everlasting and a happy abode with You in heaven, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.

May God, through the merits and intercession of Saint Monica, increase our faith, strengthen our hope, and enkindle the fire of charity in our hearts. Amen.

Our Father. . . Hail Mary . . . Glory Be . . .
Saint Monica, pray for us.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Feast Day: Our Lady of Czestochowa

Our Lady of Czestochowa ... the patron of Poland and a favorite pilgrimage shrine for the man born in a small village nearby, a man who was born in an area of Poland where my Dad's family originated, a man who would become Pope John Paul the Great. 

Our Lady of Czestochowa is another reminder that God is in charge and prayers are amazingly, miraculously answered by our loving God.
Our Lady of Czestochowa, pray for us all!

When BamBam was just a few months old, I was blessed to be able to go on a peace pilgrimage with college students ... about 40 of us (including 3-month-old) piled on a bus for the overnight journey from Austria into southern Poland ... a trip I will never forget. 

Here is an article I wrote back five years ago about our visit to Jasna Gora:

It’s her eyes you notice first. Her eyes invite you to contemplate, to meditate, to pray. Her eyes are mysterious and yet open, sorrowful yet loving. These are the eyes of the icon known as “Our Lady of Czestochowa”.

John Paul II understood the power of this icon. As a boy growing up in Wadowice, the parish church had a life-sized version of the icon – a picture the young Karol prayer to after attending Mass. He had at least two copies of the Black Madonna in his private Papal apartments some 70 years later: one full-size version in his private chapel where he said his morning prayers and a smaller version near his desk in his private office. John Paul II arranged to stop at Jasna Gora and celebrate Mass on almost all of his six trips back to his homeland, ; his inability to visit imposed by the Communist regime who, as George Weigel explains in Witness to Hope, “didn’t want him working the crowd”.

Because of this icon, Jasna Gora is Poland's most important and revered Marian shrine among the numerous sites dedicated to Marian devotion throughout the country. In a country where Catholicism has been able to beat the Tartars and the Swedes, the Nazis and the Communists, this shrine is the focal point.

The shrine is part of the Monastery of Jasna Gora – Bright Hill. It shelters the miraculous icon of Our Lady, which is also known throughout the world as the “Black Madonna”. Housing a Basilica, museums, and the precious icon (in the Our Lady’s Chapel), Jasna Gora is a site of pilgrimage for millions of visitors each year.

Every night at 9:00 p.m., the final prayer is prayed and the icon is covered for the night. Poles at the Shrine are joined in prayer by Poles around the world in what has become known as the “Jasna Gora Appeal”. This Appeal was first prayed in 1954 for Poland and the freedom of the Primate, Stephan Wyszynski, who was imprisoned under the Stalinist regime.

The Appeal begins with the singing of the Polish Marian hymn, “Bogrodzica”. This hymn was the national anthem for many years. All then sing the appeal three times: “Mary, Queen of Poland, I stand before you, I am watching, I am on guard!” More prayers and intercessions follow and a final hymn is sung. During the final hymn, a silver plate is rolled down over the 4 x 2-1/2 foot image – this cover is over 300 years old – and the Sanctuary is closed for the evening.

As Polish people around the world join in this prayer it was a special blessing for me to be able to stand before “Our Lady of Czestochowa” on what would have been my father’s 75th birthday. I was able to pray for my father of Polish descent in front of the Queen of Poland. To pray in front of an icon my father had talked about when I was little.

The “Black Madonna” is steeped in mystery and miracles. Traditionally, the painting has been attributed to St. Luke, who painted the Madonna’s portrait on a table that Jesus had built. Art critics dismiss this, saying the icon is 5th or 6th century. Whoever painted the icon, and whenever it was done, doesn’t really matter. The fact remains that the venerated icon is many centuries old and has been protecting the Polish nation since it was brought to Czestochowa by Prince Vladislaus of Opole in 1382. Prince Vladislaus asked the Pauline Monks to build a monsatery and chapel to house the already revered icon.

This icon is more than just an ancient, mysterious painting. Many miracles, and the religious and patriotic spirit of Poland, are centered around this icon. The veneration of this icon, and the trust in the intercessions of “Our Lady of Czestochowa”, continues to bring the pilgrims – on foot, by car, by bus – from Poland and all the world. All come to venerate this lovely lady.

“Our Lady of Czestochowa” looks out at the viewer and her eyes mesmerize. She holds Jesus in her left arm and her right arm is raised, inviting us to meet and love her son. Jesus is also facing the viewer, but his eyes are turned elsewhere. He holds his right hand up in magisterial benediction while holding a book in his left hand. Both faces have a serious (almost sorrowful) but loving look. The icon invites you to prayer and contemplation, belonging to the group of Hodigitria icons, "she who indicates and guides along the road".

There is something which makes this icon even more dramatic. On Our Lady's right cheek are two slashes and a third horizontal cut. The neck of the image is marred by six additional scratches and there is another cut over her right eye. These are marks that were left when the image was stolen by a group of robbers on Easter Sunday, 1430. A gang of Bohemians, Moravians and Silesians, stole the painting, tearing-off the valuable votive offerings and slashing the image that looked back in sorrow as they desecrated the holy image. When the Pauline monks found the discarded image, they brought it to Krakow and had it repainted, leaving the slash marks as a reminder of the barbaric act of near-destruction.  On every rendition of this Black Madonna, these "war wounds" are always a noticeable feature.

Because of this desecration, and subsequent attacks by warring factions, the monks built a fortress around their monastery. A fortress that repelled invaders for centuries and protected the art works and precious objects given by the faithful for prayers answered. The walls of the Our Lady Chapel, where the icon is enthrnoned above the altar, are covered with amber and coral beads – thanksgivings from the faithful. Other walls of this side chapel are covered with crutches, canes and silver votives. The Pauline Monks keep these items in trust as they are thanksgiving offerings given to Our Lady.

A beautiful museum houses many of these offerings, as well as some being incorporated into the “dresses” that the icon wears. Our Lady has seven dresses made from precious jewels, velvet and silver and gold donations. In addition, the altar that surrounds the icon is made of silver and black marble – built through donations of the faithful. A gold rose is permanently displayed on Our Lady’s altar – a gift of Pope John Paul II during his first papal visit to Czestochowa in 1979. Additionally, a golden heart, emblazoned with the words “Totus Tuus”, is another gift of the Polish Pope to the Queen of Poland after the unsuccessful attempt on his life in St. Peter’s Square in 1981.

“Our Lady of Czestochowa” was enthroned as “Queen of Poland” in 1716 by Clement XI. From 1795 till 1915, a period of 120 years, Poland disappeared from the map of Europe – it was consumed by Austria, Prussia and Russia. During this unhappy period, Jasna Gora became the rallying point of the Polish nation and the icon became a pledge for a free Poland.

Poland and her people have turned to “Our Lady of Czestochowa” for help from invaders – such as the “miracle of Vistula”. In 1920, the Russians stood on the banks of the Vistula River, ready to conquer Warsaw. The entire Polish nation prayed to the “Black Madonna” for deliverance, while thousands traveled to the Shrine to beg her for victory. On September 15, 1920, the Feast of the Assumption (in the old calendar), the outnumbered Poles reigned victorious, pushing the Russians back to their homeland.

The irrepresible Polish Catholic culture has meant that Jasna Gora as a rallying point continued through the history of Poland. When Poland was occupied by Germany during World War II, the Poles turned to Jasna Gora. When Poland was occupied by the Communists during the post-War era, the Poles turned to Jasna Gora. When a Polish Pope was elected, the Poles turned to Jasna Gora to thank Our Lady. When the Communist-led government fell in 1989, the Poles came to Jasna Gora by the hordes to again thank their Queen for her intercessory prayers.

Today, this monastery is still operated by the Pauline monks who are entrusted with the care of this symbol of Poland’s Catholicism. Sitting high above the city of Czestochowa, this monastery is a beacon for the faithful, for the pilgrims who come to pray and attend the various services held within the shrine. This is the center of Poland’s catholicism. This is Jasna Gora!

Monday, August 23, 2010

And so we begin ....

... we took Catie to the train yesterday to start her adventures in Chicago ... dh has all-day teacher "in service" meetings this week (code for "commisserating committees before the hordes descend") ... so

St. Athanasius is now open for "real school", this year under the patronage of St. Athanasius and St. Josemaria Escriva.

Here is the prayer I will pray each morning before getting the kids up ... before starting my day ... to pray for my home learning adventures as well as for all homeschooling moms (especially Alice at Cottage Blessings who wrote this prayer.  You can find it in her book, Haystack Full of Needles, published by Hillside Education) ...
God's many blessings to all my home-educating friends ... may 2010-2011 be an exceptionally holy, healthy and happy year!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review: Patton: The Pursuit of Destiny


The name conjures up George C. Scott's rendition of the brawling braggart whose fame became infamy when he slapped and scolded a wounded soldier in Italy.  A man who was loud, brash, uncouth and even a bit sadistic. 
But, is this the true Patton? 
According to a new biography, co-authored by Agostino vonHassell and Ed Breslin, the answer would have to be "no"!  Patton was much more complex: a mixed bag of fears, hopes, joys, triumphs, intellect and pure drive.  Patton: The Pursuit of Destiny, published by Thomas Nelson (as part of their new series The Generals, edited by Stephen Mansfield), is a short, but fascinating relating of this general's life.  The authors describe a man who was larger than life, a man with a family history of "bravery under fire" who consistently fought his own fears of cowardice; a man who was tender and sensitive in letters to his wife and yet was a hard-talking, hard task-master with all those trusted to his guidance. 

Patton's family can date their military involvement back through the Civil War ... all the men in recent memory (well 150 years or so) were military heroes and George (born in 1885) wanted to uphold that tradition.  Unfortunately, raised in the early days of the 20th century out on a ranch in southern California with lackadaisical schooling, Patton's academics were severely lacking and he was initally refused entrance to WestPoint, a shock to the boy who wanted to follow in his family's military tradition.  Patton, using family connections and his classic chutzpah, won a slot at VMI in order to spend a year getting up to speed in the necessary academic background which he was missing.  After surviving not only his schooling but also the hazing of being a newbie, Patton left VMI with academic honors (all through hard-work as his learning disabilities would haunt him throughout his life) while also winning a coveted slot into WestPoint. 

The determination and drive evidenced in his early twenties carried him throughout his life:

  • an honor student in academics as well as military prowess at WestPoint and beyond

  • a voracious (almost fanatical) self-read student of military history

  • a self-taught German and French linguist (so he could read military history books in their original)

  • a daring military strategist who was more often succesful than not
Patton's life is fascinating and this book does a great job of bringing out this multi-faceted man's true nature.  By setting the stage of Patton's early life -- that is, before WW2 -- the reader understands Patton and his actions ... some of which have been misconstrued by contemporaries who misjudged or blatantly lied about this man.  The authors do a great job of spending the bulk of the book discussing Patton's life up till WW2, saving that final chapter of the General's life for the final couple of chapters of the book.  

Patton certainly wasn't perfect -- and the authors bring some of this out -- but, Patton was all NOT the schmuck as some would have it.

I highly recommend this book for high school students and higher -- it's important to read about these man of the modern age who showed commitment, resolve and determination to do the good (even though at times slipping from their pedestals). 

This book was obtained as part of Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program; the above review is my honest reaction to this book.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Knitting ... this just might be my favorite ever!

Knit Picks just posted my 7th (!) design ....
cool, huh?

The cable "hides" the button holes ... while the buttons are linked behind the scenes....

What do you think?????

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Feast Day: St. Maximilian Kolbe

Today is the feast day of Catholic priest and martyr, Franciscan Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, a man who sacrificed his life for another's in the death camp the world has come to know as "Auschwitz".  I have a special love for this saint:  a fellow Pole, an amazing priest who worked hard for the spread of God's kingdom even before WW2, and my eldest son's Confirmation saint.  He is also the "Hero of Auschwitz" ... a man of God who sacrificed constantly for his fellow prisoners ... a man who worked for God and the Blessed Mother.

The following is based on an article I wrote back in 2003 after a trip to Poland with some college students. 

Arbeit Macht Frei” – work makes you free.

Or so says the main gate of Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Oswiecim, Poland. A rather ironic statement. However, at least one man in Auschwitz proved this statement to be true. St. Maximilian Kolbe proved that work, if it’s God’s work, does make you free.
I knew little about this Polish saint before going to Auschwitz in February 2003. I traveled with a group of college students and my three-month old son on a “peace pilgrimage” to Southern Poland. The Franciscan priest accompanying us on this pilgrimage explained that St. Maximilian’s focus was love, that this was the real essence of the man.

I would see, promised our priest, that St. Maximilian’s worked proved the truth of “love not war”.

The snow was falling as our bus pulled up to the “State Museum in Oswiecim”, better-known as “Auschwitz Concentration Camp”. I was struck by the absolute stillness, the deathly silence of the place. The snow’s purity muffled my footsteps as I wandered the camp. The barbed wire and “Halt/Stoj!” signs, with a black skull-and-crossbones, dramatically reminded me of the theme of this “living museum”.

Signs in Polish, English and other languages explained what I was seeing – the gallows erected near the roll-call area for hanging prisoners who helped others escape, the crematorium and gas chambers for gassing or burning hundreds of thousands , the “death wall” for shooting prisoners. I was seeing proof of “man’s inhumanity to man.”

At the very back of the camp – past all the brick barracks where an average of 13-16,000 prisoners were housed (many of whom never walked out alive) – I found what I was searching for. The last block of the camp. Here is Block 11, the “Death Block”.

Here is where St. Maximilian sacrificed his life so that another (a husband with children) could live. Here is where he was locked, naked, in a basement cell with 9 others and given no food or drink. Here is where he worked to keep up the spirits of those jailed with him. Here is where he prayed and ministered, ignoring the abuses of the guards. Here is where he and his cellmates could hear fellow prisoners shot at the “death wall” right outside the small cell window. Here is where, still praying after three weeks of deprivation, he raised his left arm for the fatal injection.

Here is where St. Maximilian Kolbe did his final work for God.

The cell now has the eternal flame of a victory candle and bouquets of flowers. A place of prayer – the stillness and peace of the cell gave me a glimpse of this “hero of Auschwitz”. Almost a church-like atmosphere reigned here in this dark and dank basement. In Cell 21, perpendicular to St. Maximilian’s cell, there are scratchings in the wall that show Christ on the Cross and Christ’s Sacred Heart; scratchings made by a Polish officer at the time of St. Maximilian’s internment in Cell 18. Cell 18 is the peace of Auschwitz – the reminder that God lives even in a place of such unspeakable evil.

But, who is this man that would be beatified by Paul VI in 1971 and canonized by John Paul II in 1982?

Raymond Kolbe, born in a small Polish town in 1894, was a typical boy whose mother despaired of him ever being able to stay out of trouble. At 10 years old, this future saint prayed to the Blessed Mother, asking her what his future might hold. In a dream he saw the Blessed Mother hold out two crowns – the white crown of purity and the red crown of martyrdom. The Mother of God asked Raymond which he would choose – he chose both. At 16, he donned the Franciscan habit, choosing the name Maximilian.

Fr. Maximilian obtained two doctorates – in philosophy and theology – never losing his love and reverence for the Mother of God. In fact, with six other men, he began the Knights of the Immaculata – a group dedicated to Mary Immaculate as a tool for the conquest of souls. In his own words:
“…a movement that must enthuse souls, snatch them from Satan, and, won for the cause of the Immaculata, incite them to the apostolate of making the reign of Jesus Christ a reality.”
After a few years, he built the “City of the Immaculata” near Warsaw, where he and his brother priests could do the work of this great apostolate. Niepokalanow (as it is in Polish) is a priory built to help spread devoition to the Blessed Mother and defend the Catholic faith through modern media.

Continuing in his vocation as a Franciscan, Fr. Maximilian traveled to Japan to convert souls. For six years he worked and prayed with the Japanese. Called back to Poland in 1936, he was appointed superior of Niepokalanow. Three years later, Germany conquered Poland and deported Fr. Maximilian and 36 of his brother priests to a prison near Berlin. Released in 1940, he was again arrested and interred in Pawiak jail in Warsaw in February of 1941.

On May 28, 1941, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe was transferred to Auschwitz from Pawiak. 320 other prisoners went with him (a group that included many other priests). Three days later, the camp commandant came and took Fr. Maximilian and four other priests, and handed them over to one of his subordinates.
“Take these useless creatures and parasites of society and show them what work means!”
Fr. Maximilian spent the next 2-1/2 months on heavy labor work squads. His chronic tuberculosis and poor nutrition never stopped him from his missionary zeal:. spending his time preaching to his fellow prisoners about the love of God and the beauty of offering pain and suffering to Jesus. He loudly, and proudly, proclaimed himself a Catholic priest and willingly suffered all humiliations and violence heaped on him by his Nazi guards.

Stories abound about his many kindnesses – giving his bread to others, exhorting the men to bear up, allowing others to be served first. Fr. Maximilian whispered to a fellow prisoner:
“Hate is not creative, love is creative. Our sorrow is necessary that those who live after us may be happy.”
At the end of my visit to Auschwitz, I realized that the right kind of work does indeed make you free. St. Maximilian Kolbe preached (in words and actions) love and peace, suffering for Jesus, the belief and trust in God’s providence, and of course, his confidence in the Blessed Mother’s many graces. It took another four years for the evilness that was Auschwitz to end.

But St. Maximilian Kolbe’s work there, work for God, indeed made him and those he touched, free. This is the true message of Auschwitz.

St. Maximilian Kolbe, hero of Auschwitz, pray for us!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Funnies ... because sometimes we just need a little laugh!

My dear sister sent me the following email. 

Having worked for the airlines (back office), I've met many pilots and many mechanics .... these complaints and solutions are "spot on".  

THANKS, Anne -- I needed a good laugh tonight!
Just in case you need a laugh:
Remember it takes a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school  diploma to fix one; a reassurance to those of us who fly routinely in our jobs.
After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a 'gripe sheet,' which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.

Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (marked with a P) and the solutions recorded (marked with an S) by maintenance engineers.

[As a side note:  UPS is the only major airline that has never, ever, had an accident.]

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.
S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200-feet-per-minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what friction locks are for.

P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF is always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics..

P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from the midget.
Have a lovely Friday evening!

Life of Christ Timeline for Children

Here's a very COOL and helpful resource from That Resource Site. That Resource Site: Life of Christ Timeline for Children: "Timeline on the Life of our Lord, Jesus helps learners get to know our Saviour As we eluded to the other day, we have finished a project th..."

I'm looking forward to using this during Advent and Lent as a way to help us all focus on "the journey".

... and I have the perfect wall on which to post this marvelous teaching tool.

THANKS Resource Team!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Favorite Godson ....

named Steve ...

can actually cook!  Here, he's helping his cousin make crepes ...

We love when relatives come to visit ....

BEST NCAA Football Coach ...

... at least around here would have to be Mr. Les Miles from LSU! 

BamBam and he have struck up a snail-mail friendship and BamBam is over the top now:
The dear man sent BamBam an autographed picture for his bday in November!  How cool is that?  You ROCK, Les Miles and we'll be rooting for you and your Tigers all season (as usual!)


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: William F. Buckley by Jeremy Lott

I've always been fascinated by William F. Buckley ... his was an interesting (charmed, some would say) existence. A wealthy, large family upbringing at the very best of schools (including boarding school in England and Yale for undergrad), a stint with the CIA "back in the day", and a prolific writing and broadcast career. To top it all off ... he was a staunch Catholic and conservative in his politics and philosophies.
Bill Buckley was "there" for all the big events in the 20th century -- born in the pre-dawn Depression Era, raised in New England and overseas, a quick tour in the Air Force, four years at the ivy-covered Yale and off to Mexico with the CIA, then back to New York area to wreak havoc for liberals and conservative fence-sitters. 

His writing and very public denunciation of all things liberal began just after graduating from Yale -- he wrote a book titled God and Man at Yale -- a book that caused an uproar since it brought the question of religion (or lack thereof) into academia.  It actually caused such a public outcry that the CIA thought better of having Buckley as an operative in Mexico and sent him back state-side.

So from the very first, Buckley's persona has been linked to his religious sense -- he was raised in a family that believed (and he continued to believe till his death in 2008 at 83) that God, family and country deserve absolute fidelity and loyalty.  In Jeremy Lott's new book, William F. Buckley, the reader gets a great view of just who Buckley was and what made him tick -- and his religious sense as a devout Catholic had much to do with his philosophy and conservatism.

Part of Thomas Nelson's "Christian Encounter" series, Lott's book traces Buckley's entry onto the public stage, through his third-party run for Mayor of New York (not to win, so much, as to be able to air his views in a public forum), his debates with liberal and conservative leaders led to the interviewee's verbal-slaughter on "Firing Line", and his writings (both fiction and non-fiction) that allowed further cultivation and honing of his mystique.

Lott admires and respects his subject -- and has a similar turn of phrase to Buckley's now-famous way of writing.  Lott does a great job of subtly linking Buckley's religious sense to his understanding of why, for instance, nuclear proliferation was critical at the time (since the Communists only believed in the here-and-now, they had a great stake in ensuring the "button" was never pushed while most Americans were Christians who looked to an afterlife) or why Buckley supported Goldwater but not Nixon.  Buckley was involved in most of the latter-20th century political machinations -- either as an observer, critic or advisor.  And Lott's book traces all of these.

This is a short book -- barely 150 pages -- but each page is filled with Buckley-isms, conservatism and Catholicity.  It's a very readable volume with an excellent end filled with suggested further readings (which things to read or not) and resources.

I highly recommend this book for a great start (but don't stop there ... make sure you read some of his other writings and listen to his Firing Line interviews) to understanding this man who had such an influence on conservative philosophy in the second half of the 20th century.

Disclaimer:  This book was received as part of Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program.  In exchange for the book, I agreed to write a review.  The words of this review are my honest reaction to this book.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

SAA Plans for 2010-11: for one and all ...

Well, here are the plans for the 2010-11 school year ... this is for Lego Maniac (6th grade), String Bean (5th grade), and Bam-bam (2nd grade); if there is no name after a text/note than that applies to all three:

Reading:  read-alouds keyed to history/science/whatever strikes our fancy.  I don't like to pre-plan read-alouds as I find that the good ones "find" us ...

  • First Sacrament prep -- Bam-bam (separate resource listing) -- his study will include extensive usage of the Faith Folders from Lapbooks for Catholics -- as well as creating his own missal and other activities similar to his sibligns' work)
  • bi-weekly Saint reports using Amy Welborn's books:
Foreign Language
    Well, that should hold us for now!  Most of the links above go to Amazon pages -- so you can at least look at what we're using.  If you purchase through those links, I do get a small commission (which is always VERY appreciated).  Another great spot for getting many of these items, a place that has prices just about as good as Amazon, that is Catholic and a worthwhile spot to support is Sacred Heart Books and Gifts.  Linda has wonderful customer service, has great prices and free shipping for orders over $25 (to the lower 48) .... what more could you want?  Let her know I sent you ... she's a real peach!

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Review: From Slave to Priest -- Fr. Augustine Tolton

    Thirty-seven years ago, Sr. Caroline Hemesath (OSF), wrote a biography of the very first African-American priest in the United States.  In 2006, Ignatius republished this book and it is as timely to read now as it was when Hemesath published it in 1973.  From Slave to Priest: A biography of the Reverend Augustine Tolton, the first Black priest of the United States is an amazing read.

    This biography tells the true story (based on letters, diaries, newspaper accounts and historical research) of Fr. Augustine Tolton.  Tolton, born in 1854, the second of three children, started life in a slave shack in Missouri to Catholic slave parents.  His father, desperate to improve the lives of his wife and children, went off to fight for the Union in the American Civil War, sacrificing his life on the battlefield.  Mrs. Tolton, afraid that the War (and slavery) would never end, bundled her children and escaped across the Mississippi to freedom in Illinois. 

    At age 7, Augustine, his 8 year old brother Charley, and their 20-month old sister were free in name ... but the discrimination for their skin color last far longer.  Martha Jane Tolton, provided a home for her children, working hard all day to keep food on the table in "freedom" --  a shanty shack shared with another widowed woman and her child in Quincy, Illinois.  Augustine and his brother and mother worked long hours in a tobacco factory for what little money they could bring home; eventually, this small amount was lessened when always-sickly Charley caught pneumonia and died at the age of 10.  Augustine and his mother kept working.

    Mrs. Tolton, illiterate herself but knowing her catechism and 10 Commandments, worked hard to ensure her remaining two children would learn ... both book-learning and their Catholic faith.  Attending the German Church, St. Boniface, with it's sympathetic pastor Fr. Schaeffermeyer, allowed the small family to increase their learning ... both book and faith wise!

    It seems, Augustine had an early propensity for learning -- quickly picking up German and learning to read and write in both English and German.  He soon became the protege of the pastor and others ... but also the target for those "Catholics" who didn't like African Americans sharing their faith.

    The book goes on to detail Augustine Tolton's persistence in doing the will of God -- to become a priest -- even though NO seminary in the United States would accept his application to study.  Tolton's story of diligence, perseverance and seeking/finding help from those willing to help, finally allow Tolton to receive seminary training in Rome at the Pontifical Seminary.

    But, discrimination, hatred and abuse are never far from Tolton's life, even as a Catholic priest.  And yet, Tolton, knowing that Jesus suffered and died for us, willingly dealt with these horrors to pastor his flock in Quincy and Chicago.

    Hemesath does a wonderful job of detailing the ups and downs of such a life -- being neither overly dramatic nor glossing over the despicableness of the actions of some.  The book reads like a novel, helping the reader to live the life Tolton must have lived, to experience the fears with the growing faith, to cheer with the successes and rebel against the discrimination.

    This is a great book to read for celebrating the underdog, for embracing the good/bad/ugly of our Country's past, for reveling in the ability of God to make good out of bad.  I will have my 6th grader read this one for Black History month this year -- to help him see that good can win, that struggles and hardship for a good cause are worth it in the end, and to revel in the strength of one man's faith in God's will.

    This book was received for review as part of the Catholic Company's reviewer program.  The opinions expressed in this review are my honest view of this work.  For further information about From Slave to Priest, or any other items from the Catholic Company, please visit their site.