December 31, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Belated Merry Christmas to everyone. And Happy New Year. May God bless you.

I am fortunate enough to have some time off from work to spend with my family (even better: it's paid time off). As I watch my young daughter dance around the room, I reflect on our little family and how important it is to cherish each day. Last Sunday was the feast of the Holy Family. I pray that we, as a family, live as Christian models to others. We're still working on it!

Have a happy and safe new year's eve.

December 17, 2008

Maintaining your marrige = strong family

My husband and I have returned from a wonderful week together in a much warmer climate. Neither one of us realized how stressed we both had been. But more surprisingly, I don't think either of us realized how much we needed this time together without other people around. We missed our daughter terribly, but we were able to share quality time rediscovering why we got married. In no way was our marriage in trouble, but I can see how spouses slowly over time lose sight of each other and the marriage deteriorates.

The valuable lesson for us is that a strong, connected marriage will lead to a strong and happy family. Thank you to everyone who kept us in your prayers!

December 3, 2008

Traveling and the worrying mother

We will be traveling in the near future on a much needed vacation. While visiting family is wonderful, this will be a real vacation. I am being a typical mother and worrying about anything and everything that could go wrong (we are leaving our daughter with relatives for the first time for longer than a day). Nonetheless, both my husband and I are looking forward to getting away together. I know we will both miss the little one, but we will also be able to focus on each other for a change.

Prayer before Starting on a Journey
My holy Angel Guardian, ask the Lord to bless the journey which I undertake, that it may profit the health of my soul and body; that I may reach its end, and that, returning safe and sound, I may find my family in good health. Do thou guard, guide and preserve us. Amen.

Fight Foca

If you haven't already done so, please sign the petition at Fight Foca.

November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I've been away from this blog for awhile. I blame it on my new job that seems to take all of my time. Not what I was planning, but in this economy and at my employer, I am thankful for the job.

I'm thankful for so many things in my life. I found this prayer that states it so clearly:

Thanksgiving Prayer
Father in Heaven, Creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon us and receive our heartfelt gratitude in this time of giving thanks.

Thank you for all the graces and blessings. You have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal: our faith and religious heritage. Our food and shelter, our health, the loves we have for one another, our family and friends.

Dear Father, in Your infinite generosity, please grant us continued graces and blessing throughout the coming year.

This we ask in the Name of Jesus, Your Son and our Brother. Amen.

(Source: Catholic Online)

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 3, 2008

Prayer before the election

Pray for a victorious outcome to the election tomorrow. Please consider carefully and conscientiously each candidate's beliefs and proposed policies, and what that means to the most vulnerable of our country.

St. Michael Prayer
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

October 24, 2008

Oh, wait...some more "Yeah, buts..."

Following up on my earlier post regarding the recent letter issued by the bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth: apparently there are a number of people who say that they are Catholic but strongly disagree with the bishops. The Dallas Morning News covered the reactions of DFW area Catholics in its October 14 article "Catholic bishops' letter on voting causes a stir, with critics likening it to an endorsement of McCain". Several of the dissenters are, unfortunately, from my parish, which sits across the street from the Dallas Diocese offices.

"I was personally offended," said Phillip Archer of Dallas. "My bishop basically told me that if I vote for Barack Obama, I will go to hell."
Nicole LeBlanc said several people at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Dallas walked out during the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass when the letter was read at the time usually reserved for a homily.

"As a Catholic, we're taught about being independent moral agents with free will," she said. "That letter from the bishops is basically telling us that if we vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights, we are basically immoral and our souls are imperiled."

On a positive note:
"I don't think it's an endorsement or a condemnation of a specific candidate," said Rick Nyman, a Frisco Catholic who applauded the letter. "I think it's a reminder of what church dogma is. If you like it, fine. If you don't like it, that's not so fine, but we love you anyhow."

Ms. Taylor said the letter was not an endorsement of any political candidate but sought to clarify Catholic teachings, particularly a document issued by U.S. bishops called "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship." She said the bishops felt the document was being misunderstood by some in their dioceses.

I'll admit that I missed the fact that Fr. Tony was reading the bishops' letter; I blame that on trying to keep a toddler relatively quiet and off the floor. But I did catch bits and pieces and thought "Good job for speaking about the Church's teaching on abortion."

Source for Organic Gardening

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a presentation on "gardening". It was free, during a time that I could attend, and well, why not? I didn't really read the description closely but was pleasantly surprised to hear the speaker start off with "so, you want to know more on organic gardening techniques." Why, yes I do! Now, we currently don't have a yard, but someday we will.

Howard Garrett, aka the Dirt Doctor, spoke for an hour or so on various aspects of organic gardening. He started off with dispelling the myth that organic gardening is more expensive, siting the 50% savings on a golf course's water bill. Check out his website for all sorts of tips on not only organic gardening but also organic living.

October 15, 2008

No more "Yeah, buts..."

The bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth issued a joint statement "to provide clear guidance on the proper formation of conscience concerning voting as faithful Catholics and to articulate the Church's clear and unambiguous teaching on the life issues as they relate to other issues of concern." Bishops Kevin Farrell and Kevin Vann leave no room for any "yeah, buts" regarding what the Church's teachings are on abortion and other issues facing the American voter today.

It is worth taking the time to read the entire statement (it's less than three pages). The bishops clear up any misconception one may have:

"...there are no "truly grave moral" or "proportionate" reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year."
"To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or "abortion rights" when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible."

...Today is the feast day of St. Teresa of Avila. Below are two prayers attributed to her that touched me:

Christ has no body now but yours
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things pass away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who has God
Finds he lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

October 7, 2008

St. Francis, the animals, and praying for peace

St. Francis of Assisi's feast day was October 4 - this past Saturday. We have three cats, who, like most cats, don't travel well, making a trip to church for the annual blessing of the animals a bit too much to handle. Maybe other families bring their cats, but I think it wiser to leave ours at home. Instead, we say an extra prayer for them on this day.

If you don't know, St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and ecology. But he also encourages us to be instruments of peace, to truly seek peaceful solutions. My plan was to go line by line and analyze his Prayer for Peace (see below), but I haven't quite made it. To summarize, if we didn't hate, didn't hold grudges, and offered others forgiveness, hope, love and understanding even before seeking these for ourselves, how much better would the world be?

St Francis' Prayer for Peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

October 1, 2008

Feast of the Guardian Angels

October 2 is the feast of the Guardian Angels. How comforting it is to know that we each have an angel that guards us! Psalm 91:11 says, "For to His angels He has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways." As a parent, I’m especially comforted knowing that an angel watches over my little one. In Matthew 18:10, Jesus tells his disciples, "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven."

We say the Guardian Angel prayer every night before our daughter goes to bed:
Angel of God, my guardian dear
To whom His love entrusts me here
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard
To rule and guide

May you find comfort in knowing that an angel watches over you.

September 25, 2008

More on Prayer; feast day of St. Vincent de Paul

The National Catholic Register has a nifty one pager titled “How (and Why) to Pray”. To summerize, prayer is made of ACTS

This past Lent I started praying the rosary during my drive to work. I’ve discovered that 1) my drive to work is much more pleasant, and 2) I’m better able to face the day after having meditated on the mysteries. We also added morning prayer to our family prayer tradition, which our toddler-aged daughter has embraced. My heart smiles when I see her make the sign of the cross, fold her hands in prayer, and babble along with us (the babble is getting clearer every day).

But I long for more. I suppose I’m rather lazy in a way. I can think of all the great ways to enhance my prayer life – and then never get around to actually praying (beyond what I’ve been doing for years). Things like keeping a prayer journal (started one), or meditating on a particular prayer or bible verse.

My plan has been to really think about a particular prayer or bible verse. What does it really mean? How does it relate to me? How can I use this prayer or bible verse to enhance my prayer life?

This Saturday, September 27 is the feast of St. Vincent de Paul. Our church is supported by Vincentian Fathers, so this is a special day for our parish. I found this quote that applies very much to my current life:

"Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent. Free your mind from all that troubles you, God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this [choice] without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires" (St. Vincent de Paul, Letters).

Of course, this applies to everyone all the time. Funny how just the right quote, prayer, or bible verse pops up when you really need it. Between job uncertainty, possibly listing our house for sale, and the general decline of the economy, I’ve been letting stress and anxiety take hold of me lately.

To close, I also found this prayer:
Almighty God, who called your servant Vincent de Paul to serve you in the person of those in need: Grant that we, following his example, may fulfill your commandments by defending and supporting the poor, and by loving you with all our hearts, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

September 22, 2008

Hurricane Ike - Follow Up

Thank you all for your prayers. All of our family and friends are safe and well. As of this weekend, most have electricity again.

September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Please pray for all those in the path of Hurricane Ike.

September 10, 2008

Chores, Allowances

My husband and I have talked off and on about chores, allowances and grades. I grew up with minimal chores but never questioned the few that I was asked to do. I was neither paid for grades nor received a regular allowance. On the other hand, my husband didn't grow up with the same requirements for keeping his room clean, etc. He wasn't paid for grades but has said that this may have helped him in school (he never liked school growing up).

We do believe that children should participate in an age appropriate manner with the care and maintenance of the household. In addition, with some persuasion on my part, we agree that payment for grades is not how we will operate. However, I do think that some sort of allowance helps children develop money management skills as well as encourages responsibility.

Angie at Many Little Blessings validates my thoughts on allowance and offers a few additional ideas that we'll most likely use. She has a more recent post that summarizes nicely age appropriate chores. Thanks Angie!

September 8, 2008

Just a little something

Okay, apparently I've been overwhelmed with life lately judging from the last time I posted anything. Does it count that I was thinking of writing something?

If you are Catholic and married to a non-Catholic, check out Kate's latest in her series on mixed marriages.

I've also been thinking a lot about prayer and what that means to me. My parents taught us the standard prayers but weren't much for informal, personal praying. My husband, on the other hand, grew up Baptist and was only familiar with informal prayer (beyond the Lord's Prayer). Sure, I pray my personal prayers - but usually silently. I am trying to be more vocal in the hopes that I can grow and so that my daughter grows up doing both.

That being said, my plan is to occasionally post prayers (formal or not) and explain why I like the prayer and how it is relevant to me.

Enough rambling from me! Let me know how you approach prayer and if you have a favorite prayer.

August 18, 2008

What does this teach kids?

Recently, the Dallas Independent School District announced its new grading policy. The key points are:

Homework grades should be given only when the grades will "raise a student's average, not lower it."

Teachers must accept overdue assignments, and their principal will decide whether students are to be penalized for missing deadlines.

Students who flunk tests can retake the exam and keep the higher grade.

Teachers cannot give a zero on an assignment unless they call parents and make "efforts to assist students in completing the work."

(Dallas Morning News, Aug. 17, 2008)

What does this teach students? First, doesn't this significantly lower educational standards and diminish the value of a degree? Second, what life skills does this teach? Employers should let you do whatever whenever you get around to it?

Is this happening across the country - or is this merely bad news for Dallas students?

August 15, 2008

Dirty Dozen

Many already know this, but just in case I've listed the "dirty dozen" fruits in vegetables in terms of pesticides. The list was developed by the Environmental Working Group and can be found here.

1 Peaches
2 Apples
3 Sweet Bell Peppers
4 Celery
5 Nectarines
6 Strawberries
7 Cherries
8 Lettuce
9 Grapes (Imported)
10 Pears
11 Spinach
12 Potatoes

Carrots are listed at number 13. Since we eat a lot of carrots, they are on my organic list. I didn't look into the details of the research, but I'm surprised that tomatoes don't rank higher.

August 7, 2008

Sexualization of Young Girls - Part 2

A few weeks ago I blogged about recent studies on the sexualization of young girls. Two new reports caught my attention that further confirm the negative impact of media on our children.

The first is a new book So Sexy So Soon by Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne and reviewed recently on the Today show. You can read an excerpt here. In their book, the authors discuss how today's highly sexualized culture and media affects our children - even the youngest, and offer advice on how parents can protect them. Examples of real life stories include seven-year-old Hannah thinking that she is fat, five-year-old James drawing a picture of a professional wrestling girl (complete with large chest), and seven-year-old Eva asking her mother what a certain sexual act meant.

Released this week, the Parents Television Council's™ report "Happily Never After" concludes that prime-time television paints marriage in a negative light, glorifies non-marital sex, and exposes children to formally taboo sexual behaviors. Particularly disturbing are the statistics reported for the so-called "family hour" (8-9 pm Eastern):
The Family Hour — the time slot with the largest audience of young viewers, where one might reasonably expect broadcasters to be more careful with the messages they are communicating to impressionable youngsters – contained the highest frequency of references to non-married sex as opposed to references to sex in marriage, by a ratio of 3.9:1. During the 9:00 and 10:00 hours, the references to non-marital versus marital sex averaged 2.5:1.

We parents must protect our kids as much as possible while guiding them on how best to live their lives. As Dr. Ray Guarendi says, "Walk with God, and hold your kids tight by the hand."

August 6, 2008

How to Know God

Darcee over at Simply Catholic posted a wonderful description of how we know and love God. She outlines how we develop our relationship with God through

- Nature, Art, Music and Beauty
- Prayer
- Scriptures
- Catechism
- The Sacraments
- Writings of the Saints and others
- The Lives of Others
- Our Service to Others

Thanks Darcee!

August 4, 2008

Save money by not wasting fruits and vegetables

No rocket science here: make sure you use your fruits and vegetables before they go bad. We are usually pretty good about this at our house since we love fruits and vegetables. But every now and then, I throw something out. I hate to do it. Seems like such a waste.

So, besides only buying what I think we will use, I will now try to freeze any leftovers. Again, this seems so obvious, especially since I freeze extra portions of soups and such. Apparently it took reading Shauna's post to get me to really think about freezing extras.

Here is a trick to freezing portions of soups, stews, and I assume just about anything: label and fill a plastic bag with the portion that you will need in the future, close and lay flat on a cookie sheet, and place in freezer. When it is frozen, you will be able to stack the flat portion more easily than a lumpy version that's just thrown in the freezer. Now, there's some rocket science!

July 24, 2008

Vinegar Cleaner

If you haven't already, give good old vinegar and water a try for a household cleaner. I waited a long while before mixing up a batch because I couldn't believe it would work as well as chemical cleaners. Recently, I decided to give it a whirl.

I mixed half vinegar and half water in a spray bottle, added a few drops each of tea tree, lavender and peppermint essential oils, and mixed in a couple of drops of liquid castile soap. It works great on greasy stoves, kitchen counter tops and bathrooms. And it's inexpensive!

Have you tried a natural cleaner that works particularly well? Let us know!

Five Steps to Make Your House Healthier

Short post about a longer article on "Make your home healthier in five easy steps". The article outlines easy ways to reduce pollutants in your home in the kitchen, family room, bedrooms, playroom, and backyard.

July 17, 2008

Question: Is your home a Catholic home?

In her entry "A Blueprint for Your Domestic Church", Catholic Mom blogger Denise Hunnell provides a checklist to answer the question "Is your home a Catholic home?" I've answered below:

Are morning and night prayers a daily occurrence in your home? Yes to both
Do you say grace before and thanks to God after meals? Before meals
Do you say a family Rosary every night? No, but I do say one each morning while driving to work
Do you carry a Rosary at all times? Yes
Do you wear a religious medal or a scapular? Up until a month ago, I wore a rosary bracelet. I need to get it repaired.
Do you read and discuss the Bible often? Sometimes. It goes in cycles.
Is your home dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus? No; we need to do this
Is there a crucifix hanging in a prominent place? One in each bedroom
Do you ask God’s help in the solution of family problems? Yes
Do you have a sick-call set for Communion or Anointing of the Sick? No
Do you attend church as a family? Sort of. Little One and I go every Sunday. Hubbie isn't Catholic, so we are still working on him
Do you go to Confession regularly? Yes
Do the children attend a Catholic school or Catholic religious instruction program? Not yet; she's only two
Do you have religious instruction at home? Yes
Are there Catholic periodicals in your home? No, but we have Catholic books
Do you have a crib at Christmas? Yes
Do you send out cards that indicate Christmas is the birth of Christ? Yes
Does Christmas mean the coming of Christ or a chance to get gifts? Coming of Christ
Does Easter Sunday mean the resurrection of Christ or new clothes? Resurrection of Christ
Do you ever invite lonesome or needy people into your home? No
Do you ever provide a basket of food to a needy family, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas but during the rest of the year? Rarely

July 14, 2008

Sexualization of Young Girls

In today's culture of "live and let live", I don't know how to get across the point that it is everyone's responsibility to voice concern regarding the media's sexualization of young girls (or better yet: any woman). I hope to provide my child with the love and support to face the negative imagery that she is bound to come across. But she will still have to live in a world where most people don't seem to care.

In an article about a study from the UK:
Dr. Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation which worked on the study, said, "Girls and young women are being forced to grow up at an unnatural pace in a society that we, as adults, have created and it's damaging their emotional well-being."

Results of a study conducted by the American Psychological Association (2007), summarized here:

Research evidence shows that the sexualization of girls negatively affects girls and young women across a variety of health domains:

Cognitive and Emotional Consequences: Sexualization and objectification undermine a person's confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety.

Mental and Physical Health: Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women-eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.

Sexual Development: Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls' ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.

Just for Fun: The Blog Readability Test

I had no idea...
blog readability test

July 8, 2008

Organic Pricing

On a recent trip to Whole Foods to pick up some organic milk, I decided to check out their store brand pricing in comparison to products at other grocery stores. It still seems expensive, but not necessarily by much. I haven't done in depth analysis, but I did find this article by someone who did. The organic, 365 Everyday Value brand of milk seems to run about 15-30% more (using my best guess on what milk runs at Kroger).

So, perhaps we will buy a few more organic products after all.

July 1, 2008

Forgiveness and Love

Driving home yesterday, I caught the NPR segment This I Believe: "The Long Road To Forgiveness" by Kim Phuc. She is the nine year old girl in the famous photo of children running through the streets after a napalm attach during the Vietnamese war. She spent over a year in the hospital where she was operated on 17 times. She grew to hate her life because she was not "normal". Kim Phuc talks about spending her days in the library - one of those books was the Holy Bible.

In 1982 she became Christian. She shares with listeners:
It was an amazing turning point in my life. God helped me to learn to forgive — the most difficult of all lessons. It didn't happen in a day and it wasn't easy. But I finally got it. Forgiveness made me free from hatred. I still have many scars on my body and severe pain most days but my heart is cleansed.

Napalm is very powerful but faith, forgiveness and love are much more powerful. We would not have war at all if everyone could learn how to live with true love, hope and forgiveness. If that little girl in the picture can do it, ask yourself: Can you?
An interesting question for us all.

June 23, 2008

Going Organic

I only wish I had the time! Sure, I would love to be buying and eating only organic, but...

Nevertheless, I'd like to try. It's true that switching everything all at once to organic may be difficult, so perhaps just some things for now. Maybe it will be peanut butter, but I'm thinking more along the lines of decreasing processed foods. I did take Little One to the local Farmer's Market this weekend where we bought some yummy fruits and veggies. And today's lunch errand was to Sprouts, where I purchased some raw nuts, lentils, beans and whole wheat pasta (which I will mix in slowly with the regular pasta). It's a start!

June 18, 2008

A little history

So, why "7th Generation Texan"? Through my father's side of the family we have strong ties to Texas that date back to the 1820s Austin Colony in southeast Texas. My mother's family came to Texas a bit later, but still managed to get in just as many generations (faster procreators). This is all fresh in my mind as we just returned from the annual extended family reunion where my 8th generation daughter got to play with her 3rd, 4th, and 5th cousins. Yes, we have the family history thing down.

That covers the name of the blog. Moving on... I have been looking for ways to encourage Little One to develop a love for the Catholic faith. And I mean, not just going through the motions, but really understanding and living happily as a Catholic Christian. I've taken her to Mass most Sundays since she was about 1, we pray before meals and at night, those sorts of things. What more? Recently I stumbled across Guiding Your Catholic Preschooler by Kathy Pierce and Lori Rowland. Wonderful little book. I bought my 1992 addition at Half Price Books, but there is a newer addition. Great ideas on how to get preschoolers involved. We've incorporated a few ideas like saying a morning prayer with a candle that she gets to blow out.

Granted, some of the suggestions are pretty obvious, like teaching your child the Sign of the Cross. But maybe not so obvious since I've seen this as a requirement for starting children's faith formation classes (usually at about 5 years old).

June 17, 2008

Why blog now?

Why blog now? Partly as a diary, but mostly to share with and learn from others ways to raise children in today's scary world. I remember my mother telling me and my sister how different the world was when she was little. Yes, I now sound like my mother: Things were different when I was young.

So, in the days, weeks, and months to come, join me as we all explore the wonderful world of raising kids in today's world!