Friday, December 28, 2012

It's Just You and Me, Lord (a book review with a giveaway...)

So, I am having some difficulties here. Perennially sunny in spirit and mood, I have begun having very dark days. Since banning conventional medicine even for my chronic Multiple Sclerosis, I hesitated to contact a doctor and have been treating naturally, based on my homemade diagnosis...perimenopause. I suppose I will eventually see a doc, but my fermented cod liver oil and other health store supplements seem to be helping. Still, it was a tough month or so while everything kicked in. My daughter had begun laughing every time I started to cry, to the point that I was increasingly embarrassed and that would make me cry again...sigh. And as much as I would just love to blame it on my "old lady" hormones, there has been an awful lot to cry about senseless shooting after another, fiscal cliff and $7 a gallon milk prices...the price of gas. It is enough to put me over the edge any way you look at it. Then there was my long overdue reconciling with my health diagnosis. Last summer I embarked on my new career, teaching. I love teaching and learning how to do it...I was energized. I had begun to feel unappreciated at home, despite our adoptions, and was looking, like many women, outside the home for more appreciation. Only halfway through my program, I began substituting in our school district. It was then that reality sunk in...I really don't have the ability to teach. Oh, I might have the knowledge and even the desire, but I don't have the stamina.

Yes, I know that it was a big order to think that while raising a family with 11 children, I would still find the time and energy to work outside the home. Even if I didn't have MS, it would be difficult. However, the reality that my professional life was dead coupled with some dissatisfaction with parenting 11 children most of whom are somewhere on the spectrum, made the depression that much more intense and overwhelming. Is this really all there is, Lord?

'Its Just You and Me, Lord' Blog hop

In the middle of all of that, I received an invitation to read this book , Its Just You & Me, Lord and review it for the official blog hop. No disrespect to the author, Marion Stroud, but I wouldn't have gone looking for it. I was beyond looking for solutions and was firmly entrenched in despair; quite comfortably settled there, in fact. But since it came looking for me, I eagerly dove in hoping to at least be distracted. Thank-you, Ms. Stroud...what a treasure you have written. The book contains many prayers and reflections that women with various life circumstances would find interesting. I devoured it in two days.

According to the publisher,"It’s Just You and Me, Lord' offers heartfelt prayers to inspire and encourage women no matter where they are in life’s journey. Addressing common issues and providing practical prayers, Scripture, and quotes, author Marion Stroud encourages women to express honest and heartfelt communication with God." The book did all that for me, and more. Because it breaks down the issues women face at different stages of life, I was able to read the whole book in one fell swoop, and still have the ability to easily find prayers and inspiration for whatever age or stage is currently troubling me at that time. With children ranging in age from 6 to 19 and life issues that cover everything from early parenting years to caring for aging parents to downsizing in the workplace and in our homes, it is a treasure that touches on many difficult but real issues women face everyday; issues I face every day. It also brings home the answer for all of really is just you and me, Lord. And that really is enough. Thank-you, Ms. Stroud for writing such a timely and inspiring book. If you would like a chance to win a copy of 'It's Just You and Me, Lord,' the publishers have supplied a copy for me to raffle off...Just leave a comment on this post for a chance to win. You may also earn a chance for following my blog and one for liking my Dwell in Glory facebook page...just follow the link here: Dwell in Glory facebook page. I will leave the raffle open through the New Year, in case the holidays keep people from participating, and will close this give away on January 6th, 2013! Good luck! I have been provided free of charge, a copy of "It's Just You and Me, Lord" free of charge, however the opinions of this book are my own.

Approved Publishers Excerpt from the book, Its Just You and Me, Lord...



A Woman Within

Summer Suns Are Glowing

Will the Real Me Please Stand?

A Different Kind of Fast


What’s in a Name?


Free Indeed

How Big Is Your God?


All Change . . .

Dreams and Visions

Just an Ordinary Day

Pierced Ears

Cultivating My Inner Garden

A Woman and Marriage

Becoming One

The Gift of Words

The Walled Garden

The Other Woman

I Thought He Was THE One

One Day My Prince Will Come—Won’t He?

Loving through the Dark Days

A Woman and Her Children

A Child’s Eye View

Night Watch

On the Outside

Steps of Faith

Blended Families

The Gift of Laughter


The Trouble Tree

Lean on Me

Lost and Found

A Different Kind of Prodigal

Someone Special

Not What I’d Have Chosen

A Woman and Her Friends

Friends Near and Far

You Never Bothered to Tell Me

For Your Ears Only

Fine Feathers

Grey Days

Speaking of the Unspeakable

If You Want to Walk on Water . . .

Will Someone Please Carry Me?

Love in Action

A Woman at Work

Monday Morning Musings

It Wasn’t on the List

Reaching My Limit




The Enemy Within

Why, Lord, Why?

A Woman and Her Family of Faith

What a Privilege


Mystery Worshipper

As It Was in the Beginning


A Christmas Prayer

Just Another Man?

A Woman and the Wider World

The Enemy Within

Have You Given Some Thought to Your Food?

Man Down!

The Suitcase

Looking on the Outside

The Return

Something Beautiful for God?

It’s Not Our Business

Sunlight and Shadows

A Woman Growing Older

Roots and Wings

The Crowning Years

The Past Is a Foreign Country

Prayers in the Night

Seize the Day


A Life Complete

Will the Real Me Please Stand?

I searched everywhere, determined to find wisdom and to understand the reason for things.

Ecclesiastes 7:25 NLT

She wants to live for once. But doesn’t know quite what that means. Wonders if she’s ever done it. If she ever will.

Alice Walker

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

John 10:10


“I’m sorry, I don’t know your name,” she said.
“I always think of you as David’s mother.”
“Are you the dentist’s wife?” the nurse inquired,
advancing on me,
ready to take a sample of my blood.
“I think he’s wonderful!”

“I was expecting a real ‘earth-mother’ type
when I was told you had so many children,”
she murmured cheerfully,
waiting for a chance to introduce me
to the noisy group
of coffee-drinking women,
“but actually, you look quite elegant!”

Dear Lord, these people know me
only through my association
with someone else.
And really, I can’t blame them.
For there are days when I stop and wonder
who this woman really is,
whom I see daily in the mirror.
I am amazed at times
to think that she is me.

I’m usually too busy, Lord,
to think about
these challenging life questions.
But today,
when I have been reminded
that you intend your children
to have life in all its fullness,
I really need to ask you what you meant,
when you voiced such an all-encompassing remark
to your disciples.

I have to say,
if you were meaning “lots to do,”
then I’ve received your gift already.
My days are packed
and stretch into the night,
while I whirl around
cooking, cleaning, checking details,
and doing all the rest that must be done
to keep a family headed
in the right direction.

And yet somehow I can’t believe
that this is all my life is meant to be about.
If you have made me
unique and special,
as your Word tells me that you have,
numbering my days,
counting every hair and catching every tear,
blessing me with gifts,
and giving me a purpose to fulfill
in your economy,
then surely there is more to life
than what I do for other people.

Please help me, Lord.
Enable me to find that sacred space
where I can meet with you.
Then you can gently take apart
the many layered Russian doll
that often seems to represent my life,
and show me who the “real me” is,
so that I can embrace
all that I am, and all you have for me
with joy and thankfulness.

At any moment an unsatisfying life may become once more a grand adventure, if we will surrender it to God. The adventure of faith is exciting, difficult and exacting, but full of new discoveries, fresh turns and sudden surprises.

Paul Tournier


Monday, November 5, 2012

Didn't We Do This Last Year?

About a million, childless years ago, Shawn and I spent the Christmas holidays with my brother in CA. Alix had a CD he played that had parodies of Christmas songs...One that stuck in my head that week, and obviously,  a million years later, was a spoof of "Do You Hear What I Hear?"--"Didn't I Get This Last Year"...It pops into my head at the strangest time, though usually more with, "Didn't we do this last year..." Almost everything we do is familiar, because we do it over and over again.

The popular media hyped a storm, correctly it would appear, as being a massive, never before seen "perfect storm." The storm lived up to the hype, and my family in the Northeast can attest, it ain't been easy. My heart bleeds for them. A week without power, the house blowing around them, gasoline scarce, food running out, and its getting colder...

News stories began to appear like this; very depressing. Yes, it was a once in a generation storm. Another article this week said severe storms may be the new norm? Now, I may be old, but I can remember right off hand several disasters that have taken our country down in just the past few years. FEMA is working overtime. I remember scenes like this during Katrina. Hurricane season in TX every year since I have moved here including 2 years ago when Houston went for a week I think without power.  All so sad, all so depressing...all so avoidable?

With our country a trillion dollars in debt, I am not so sure that I am happy that my tax dollars will go towards rebuilding in areas of the country that repeatedly get clobbered in once in a generation storms every few years--didn't we do that last year? I am inspired to see fellow Americans pull together and help victims of this storm...people they don't know. I fear for the people who have to rebuild and am thankful that I am not one. But I really question whether this is enough for us to go further into debt as a country. Is FEMA the only answer, or even a good answer? What did we used to do before we let the government jump in to protect us every time the wind blows? Isn't the onus on us to build smarter and better...safer. And to prepare more, including building up our savings to cushion us in times like this?


Friday, October 12, 2012

The Party Line...

Nothing Personal, but my party believes...

"Yes, I believe in equality for all races, but my husband's best friend was stabbed by a black man and he died when he received an HIV tainted blood transfusion, so you can see how my husband hates all black men..."

No, I really can't. I relate that conversation that took place years ago just to illustrate a point. Yes, that man can hate the black man who stabbed his friend and eventually led to his death, but I think that you would have to really, really stretch to make the leap that that could reasonably cause you to hate all blacks. But we sometimes stretch to make that leap or ones similar to it.

Likewise, we can stretch to believe that birth control, or abortion, or gay rights, or cheap student loans are the most important issue of the 2012 election. Or we might think that the election isn't important at all. But it is. I have, without apology, voted single issue for every year I have voted. I voted for the babies. I won't argue that, because frankly, my mind cannot be changed, and I suppose yours cannot either. I pray that hearts will change and let Jesus do the work. But for the first time I have considered that maybe, my single issue, would have to be expanded...None of it really matters if we don't have our constitutional protections firmly in place and the continued ability to make that choice.  In light of that, I have tried to look at other issues. That too, is exhausting, because it seems that everyone has a pet issue. In an attempt to find harmony, I have tried to look at some points of agreement. Neither party has all the answers. Partisan politics may have out-lived its usefulness...but it's what we are stuck with for right now. However, there are a few things that we should all agree with: preserving our rights and supporting our boys in the military.

Not only do millions of our children don a uniform each year and vow to defend each and every American, they do so often at great sacrifice and often without a firm understanding of why they are fighting. I like to think they are fighting for all of us to have our opinion and the ability to cling to it, even if, for example, that opinion is to hate all blacks because of a very narrow excuse...special interest excuse, if you will. Everyone has a moment, or a person, or situation that is dear to their heart because of his or her own situation. But that doesn't make it the most important thing. I got a request to sign a petition regarding an 18 year old boy scout who was denied his final project badge or pin because he was gay. Was he surprised by that? Is it in the rules? If that is the Boy Scout rules, he should have quit before it was a problem for him...somewhat shortsighted. Would I be upset if it was my son? Yeah, but I would have tried to find out the rules before having my son invest years of his life into it. If it was still important to him, he could live without the pin. If it wasn't, no loss. I like to think I would have more important things to think about than whether or not he could get his pin, for example, life expectancy of gay men. I would hate the lifestyle my son chose to embrace and the pain his decisions would likely lead to. I would never hate my son, gays in general, the Boy Scouts, or even the people who choose to believe that this is one of the most important issues of our time. But it is a narrow issue. As long as we have the choice to agree, disagree, sign a petition or not....well, that's what matters.

So 2012 is an election year. Most people are already tired of it. Wish people would start posting jokes again instead of mini campaign posters. Who cares about which party wins...they are all funded by BigPharma and Agribusiness anyway, so either candidates are going to have the same results...Apathy is the danger. Just vote and care, because it is the American way. If we don't believe in the process, the choice can and will be taken from us. Teach your children the right to vote is just as important as a Boy Scout pin. And if all playing fields are level, I say vote for the one who supports our constitutional rights and didn't go on campaigning while our embassies, flags, and citizens burned in Libya....


Friday, September 21, 2012

Following Without Hesitation

from Today's Mass Reading from EWTN Matthew 9:9-13

9As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.
10And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and his disciples.
11And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
12But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13Go and learn what this means, `I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

It should have been a tough call. From the looks of it, Matthew had a pretty good life going on. Jesus said, "Matthew, come follow me!" Matthew didn't ask questions, he just followed. I imagine his friends, fellow tax collectors, frowned on his new relationship. Certainly, Jesus' observers took exception to his new friend. While it is uncertain, tradition suggests he was martyred for Christ so it was not a choice without any eventual and immediate consequences. Had he continued on his initial path, Matthew would have enjoyed a much more profitable and pain-free life--by the world's standards. We certainly have been blessed by Matthew's ability to recognize what God wanted him to do and to do so without hesitation. I am sure Matthew concurs that it was the right choice.

     To always be so certain when the road is difficult; Saying Goodbye to Bishop Vann

On my way to Mass this morning, I heard about our local Bishop, Bishop Vann, and his immediate transfer to lead the people of the Diocese of Orange County in California. It is with a heavy heart I see him go. He is a personal favorite in our family. A pastoral Bishop, my baby girls learned how to properly communicate with a bishop by watching him walk the halls of our church. OK, maybe not properly, I may never be able to see Bishop Vann without thinking of my baby practicing, over and over again, "Good afternoon, My Tushie." Also, a strong advocate of all life, we will miss his undying work on behalf of the unborn.

However, I can see how the Holy Father found him a good choice. He communicates fluently in Spanish--sometimes switching back and forth between the two languages in the same mass...even the same paragraph! Like Ft. Worth, Orange County has a huge Hispanic population. Our church, if not our country, needs to acknowledge the impact that the largely Catholic Hispanic population brings to our country.  

While I am sad to see Bishop Vann go, I am sure Bishop Vann is not completely happy with the decision either, leaving the comfort of the familiar and comfortable is never easy, I am happy he continues to follow the will of God and the Holy father without hesitation. I am encouraged by it. I have struggled with our relocation to Texas from the familiarity of Pennsylvania. I struggle with the loss of the community we grew up with and began raising our children in. I question whether people are meant to move about the country toward opportunity or for the will of God, or if it is right to stay with family for the sake of family. In times of uncertainty, I always cling to home. I face fear, which is obviously not of the Lord, and hesitate in setting down roots. I understand that we are to live in the moment, but its hard to embrace my life if I am not sure this is where we belong. Is the only thing that ties us to TX Shawn's job and is that enough? I would love to hear your thoughts on this. You can reply here, or right at the Dwell in Glory Facebook page...Please "Like" us while you are there!!

So, on this feast of St. Matthew, I pray for our beloved Bishop Vann, who goes with the prayers of all the faithful in the Diocese of Ft. Worth. God Bless you...

Catholic Bloggers Network linking at Catholic Bloggers Network...please read along and share!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Off With Her Head...

Lessons learned from John the baptist...

John the Baptist was kind of a laughing stock. As the songs go, he walked around in rags, ate bugs, and yelled to whoever would listen, and even some who wouldn't listen, the moral truths of the time they were living in. It made him wildly much so that the queen had her daughter ask the king for his head on a platter. A sad demise for a man who only loved God and tried to get the people to listen to the truth.

A gay activist in Toronto taunts parent's at a Catholic school telling them if they opt their children out of sexual rights "education" they are attacking "Inclusivity" and contributing to a hateful environment.  In Libya, our soldiers and our diplomats are being killed. In fact the Middle East is in turmoil. Is there a connection? I am afraid to blog. I have lost my words. I am so tired of fighting my friends, kids for being so different from everyone they know.

It isn't easy going against the popular culture.

Yesterday, I took Mariah to a dentist appointment. Armed with my recently acquired knowledge that fluoride is bad for us, I didn't allow her usual fluoride rinse and talked with the hygienist when she wanted to change my mind. I told her I was reading about this now and trying to educate myself, but nothing I had read suggested to me that it is effective in preventing cavities and further, if there was a chance it might hurt her, I would hold off until the next six month check up and we could revisit the issue. She understood and told me that she loves fluoride and wishes everyone would understand it like her, but she understood my reluctance. Not so Mariah. She berated me on the way home for being so rude. The familiar complaint, "why do we have to be so different." was starting to wear on me. I know that it not unusual for teens to feel this way about their parents, but as a mom to 11 adopted children, largely minority children, in a very white neighborhood, and Catholic to boot, I realize that there is some truth to the complaint.

Why we must persevere...

Sept. 11th this year I forgot...why was there a flag outside the children wanted to know. They did not experience the horror of that morning 11 years ago when our country watched our towers fall down, clung together in horror with friends and family, and talked about where our loved ones were. Were they OK? It is just a story to them. Even the ones who lived it were too young to really remember. While in the business of everyday life, I forgot...But I will never really forget. The horror was brought home anew later that afternoon when I heard that protesters had killed our Libyan diplomat and several marines. Because we had allowed a film to be made that was disrespectful to their Islamic leaders. Really...And we apologized for that movie, thank you Mrs. Clinton. But really...Some things are just wrong. I don't hate people who are gay. I may not agree with them, but to tell our Catholic parents that to not allow their children...their children to hear propaganda for gay marriage is wrong. Our church has some absolutes and it is unchanging. The same truth's that John the Baptist was preaching against are still as wrong today as they were 2000 years ago. God doesn't change his mind with the "times." Sometimes saying it will make me unpopular. And not exposing our children to that activism is not promoting hate. What the gay activist chose to forget is that in most families, we teach love not hate and that includes people who are gay. And Muslims. And telling Muslims that it is not OK to kill people to get because they don't like what we say is not right and is not not promoting an atmosphere of hate but it is necessary. We need to say it is not right. Not saying it doesn't make it any less true. And it makes us look weak. Life is not full of grey areas. There are moral absolutes...

So my children's discomfort at not being like everyone else might cause some discomfort. Hey, getting un-friended on facebook is uncomfortable, too. But, unlike John the Baptist, who told it like it is, I probably won't lose my actual head. I hope he is smiling down on me right now, in heaven, whole and basking in  glory with Jesus as a good and faithful servant. I persevere so that I might one day be able to join them.

We must never forget and we must always do and say what is right, regardless of who disagrees with us...even if, maybe especially, if it is hard.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Do I Really Have to Eat the Body of Christ?

First Eucharist Gifts

This walnut wall cross has a medal relief of a chalice cut-out. Makes a great First Communion gift.

I had a day this year when we almost had to run out of Mass. I whispered to my youngest son, who was having an extraordinarily good Mass day, "Just think Ant, soon the whole family will be able to go up for Communion and share the Body of Christ." The look of absolute horror on his face...hmm, maybe I need to prepare him a little better. When I first began teaching elementary Religious Ed, I had grade K. I was loving it, until I had to tell them about Communion. The comments were strange and difficult to do you make a 5 year old understand Transubstantiation when adults can't really explain it. "It's a divine mystery" doesn't get you very far when you are talking to 5 year old about potentially eating anything unfamiliar, let alone a PERSON...I can't even get mine to eat peas! So I began instruction on my own earlier, at the beginning of the year. If I could get it in before it was "the lesson," I might have a chance.
We began with talking about families, and how we share with our families at meals, especially the dinner table. Eventually, I was able to make them see the connection between the altar at church and the family table. Also, one of our first lessons was always about Adam and Eve and the gates of Heaven being closed. Sin is a tremendous part of Eucharist, as is the redemption of the cross. I think we don't tell our children, or even our big people enough about sin or frequent use the sacrament of Reconciliation. Eventually, I could share with them that Jesus died on the cross, he gave his body as a gift to us all to re-open the gates of Heaven. We celebrate that each week, at least, in the sacrament of Eucharist, and celebrate the gift of Jesus every week when we are old enough, through the sacrament. When they make the connection, and kids always do...I tell them it's a miracle that only a priest can perform, each week, through his Holy Office...and I tell them the name, "transubstantiation." It's a big word, but I don't expect them to spell it :o) I want them to have pride in their Catholicism. Yes, all Christians can know Jesus, but only Catholics can receive him in the Holy Mass...yeah, Us!! Catholics are very blessed!

A valuable aid for helping children prepare for First Holy Communion.

Aquinas carries many educational books for children to help prepare them for their sacraments...this book on the 10 Commandments has a mini examination of conscience.

This year, our family was indeed blessed to have 2 elementary children receive First Holy Communion, as well as 4 older children come into the church at Easter during the vigil. We had to give much thought to Communion Gifts. My husband and I believe in giving traditional gifts for Sacraments and at other holidays. This was no exception. We bought several rosaries as well as prayer books. Aquinas and More has many such gifts, including First Communion bibles, for both girls and boys. They can even be engraved with the child's name.

A beautiful vinyl over paper flexible cover gift edition specially designed for a girl's First Holy Communion. Pages are edged in pink.


They also have a huge selection of rosaries, like this...

This black glass-bead rosary has a pewter crucifix and chalice/host center. The rosary is 17in. long and comes in a round plastic rosary box with a picture of Christ giving Holy Communion to a young boy.

The card comes with a 5/8in. pewter medal on an 18in. chain which has a chalice and host and the words "Body of Christ, Amen" on the front. On the back are the words "My First Holy Communion."This card depicts Christ giving Communion to a young boy. On the back of the card is the following prayer:

My Lord Jesus Christ, I firmly believe that I am about to receive, in Communion, Your Body, Your Blood, Your Soul, and Your Divinity.

I believe it because You have said it, and I am ready to give my life to maintain this truth

Thinking outside the box is always a good idea, especially if you are buying for a friend who may have received these special gifts from family members. Medals, such as this St. Anne's medal are always appropriate, especially if you use the child's name as a guide.

This beautiful laminated hold card shows St. Anne with the Child Mary at her knee. On the back is the following prayer:

Glorious St. Anne, filled with compassion for those who invoke thee, and with love for those who suffer, heavily laden with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at thy feet and humbly beg of thee to take the present affair which I recommend to thee under thy special protection.

Vouchsafe to recommend it to thy Daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and lay it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Cease not to intercede for me until my request is granted. Above all, obtain for me the grace of one day beholding my God face to face, and with thee and Mary and all the Saints, praising and blessing Him for all eternity.

Good St. Anne, mother of Her who is our Life, our Sweetness and our Hope, pray to her for us, and obtain our request. Amen

Aquinas and More also has fine jewelry, such as this Rosary bracelet and wow, I love this jasper stone First Communion Rosary!

Present this gorgeous and unique rosary to a first communicant as a keepsake of their first Eucharist and a motivation to constantly pray

This 5-decade First Communion rosary has white pearl beads and a Celtic crucifix. Beads measure approximately 4mm. Overall rosary length is 17in.

In case you are still having to catch up on some items for First Communion prep (not that I would know anything about that!!) look at these banners!! Aquinas and More even has banner class kits and information about Communion prep to make it as easy as possible!!

Isn't that banner beautiful?

And if you waited until the last minute and don't know what to get, I hear from my kids, a ball is always appropriate, so just punt...I mean kick! How about this St. Christopher soccer medal!

This hand engraved New England pewter 1in. X 5/8in. oval St. Christopher Medal, inscribed with the words, "Protect us", depicts a soccer player and comes with a 24in. stainless chain.

While Aquinas and More can help with all your gift giving needs, your prayers and support are all that is necessary for your special little ones inition into the church! Congratulations!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hey, deja vu...

Really missed talking at you...

Been a while...I have missed you my friends! I think I had a bit of a mental vacation. I was reading, as you all know, about Autism. In my search for information, I realized that it is entirely possible...likely...that I am raising 11 Autistic children. I am exhausted, as if somehow giving what we are living through a name makes it somehow harder. It's not. It's always been hard. But now I am convinced that regardless of the fall out, I need to have a professional step in and help with actual diagnosis, referrals for school, and other assorted minutia in the life or any family that has 11 kids with challenges. We started the summer with good intentions. I was going to home school them lightly, focusing on organizational skills which are needed across the board. Follow it up with test and note taking skills, which would be necessary where ever they are schooled. Finally, I would dip into some literature about the civil war and a Note booking study on the same. I hoped to follow this up with a trip to some Civil War sites in PA when we took our annual holiday to see Grandma. However, by one hour into day one, we quit. My children basically said that they were never going to home school and why do we have to be so different from everybody else. And can we all get iPhones...I figured it was going to be a long hot summer, but I had no idea...I was stressed. I think I lost my words. That made me very sad. How about those kids who don't have their words in the first place. I felt so helpless.


To the end of subsidizing a robust treatment plan and being stricter with our whole food regime and babysitters, sigh, I decided to look for a job :o) Yes, being the mother of 11 children is a Full-Time Job, but I am an old mommy with a chronic disease. I have already spent more than 16 years of my life being a SAHM and now I want to go out!!! Even if it's just to a job. I tried having a position where I could beef up my writing and hope that went somewhere, however, my first two foray's were somewhat unsuccessful...I think I need better equipment!! A little more software. In order to that, I need a job. I know my husband would probably do this and he is entirely supportive, however, feeling a little my 6 year old when she get stubborn...My want to do it by myself!! In my research for the articles for Autism, what struck out at me is, wait for it...there is really a shortage of qualified teachers in the United States! OK, in North Texas anyway, and I am not moving back to Scranton!! Investigating grad school and entertaining enrollment counselors was fun, but I also found out that TX (and a few other states) has programs to help individuals with bachelors' degrees segue into teaching. Awesome! In a few days, I was signed up and getting started. I have to admit I had a bad moment when I sent an email to Penn State asking to have my transcript forwarded to iTeachtexas. I asked the enrollment counselor what grades were required assuring her that while my bachelor's grades were probably not stellar (I had a great time in college, and that's about all), I had at least 12 masters' credits that were all A's. She actually hung up on me when I said that about having a great time in college. Probably thought I was a crank. Anyway, because of said grades, I am only really qualified to teach Special Ed. Shawn thinks that is wonderful. I have to wonder how that would be any different than summer with my kids, but so be it...It may all be moot anyway. I mean, how can I teach? I have 11 children! I immediately change the look of my blog, utilizing a picture. I wanted to add the tag line of the actual photo amended just a bit..."You don't scare me. I have 11 children." I deleted it in the end. I really don't want anyone to think I am making light of our situation, but there you have it. My life in a nut shell. We canceled the trip to see grandma. I went with three of the girls. I decided then that I really, really need to move on to my plan. Have you ever had a child put ice cubes down your shirt while you are driving 70 mph on a crowded highway. Welcome to my life...
before the road trip, Relaxin' in the car!

And finally, the more things change...

I missed my blog, and I missed you...hey I have seven subscribers now. I am planning on going back to its original intent...talking about God, and Mass, and annoying people with my firmly Catholic viewpoint. Did you miss me....digressions and all! In support of that goal I am starting two other blogs so this can stay firmly about Catholicism, my 11 crazy kids, and eating nutritionally dense food. I'm baaaack...


Friday, May 25, 2012

Autism Speaks...Now It is Starting to Scream

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Hey, have you missed me? I have been kicked in the butt by life. My children have entered another birthday phase. Add to that the end of school, spring football parties, and finals, well...I was done. My disappearance was probably amplified by my promise to deliver a second part to my last post on Autism. After all the research for my last post, I was so proud. I diagnosed my kids and figured out, among other things, their inability to succeed in school. Not only that, I had been investigating going back to school and was examining the choices at Penn State Online. I was shocked by all the new course offerings. One was a certificate course in Autism. Really? I had to Google it and there are many new programs and businesses starting up. That's great...when the crushing burden of caring for all the children who are being diagnosed and will conceivably be unable to live a normal life...marry...have children. At least we will have a more educated population to care for them. Established programs for them to live in and be educated in. I started to seriously consider the Autism program at Penn State. I could really make a difference in my boys' lives. I could help them to gain necessary skills. Then later I could join a program and help other kids...make a difference. My hold up, the one that had kept me from considering Autism initially was a belief that autistic children have some type of disability in the social skills...communication. All my boys are very popular and have no trouble making or keeping friends. Long story, short (and when was the last time you ever heard ME say that!): the good news is my boys aren't Autistic. Since I was going to be an Autism professional I decided to check out the DSM guidelines. Nope, not a one. Nada. OK, let's check Aspergers...nothing. Not even a little PDD...what the heck. In frustration I checked Learning Disability in the DSM and my goodness, there it was. It explained my kids problems to a T. But why not Autism.
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I have also read...a lot...about natural cures to heal autism. I will develop this next time :o) I promise I won't stay away long...but there is much anecdotal research to suggest that Autism, along with other autoimmune diseases such as Fibromyalgia and MS, are caused by inflammations in the body. These can be exacerbated by vaccines, among other things. The government refuses to assign that as a possibility, going so far as to continue to expand the recommended schedule and increase limitations to objections. A memory nagged at me and I went searching for their vaccination records. Nope, they were not vaccinated as infants. My only vaccinated on time child was my son I adopted privately right from the hospital and possibly my oldest. The others were all at least a hardy 2 year old before getting, figuratively, of course.
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So, while its not Autism, I will begin looking into resources for could I not know that this was a stand alone disorder like Dyslexia. I though it was just a category for disorders like Dyslexia, but I digress. Whew...that probably saved me thousands of dollars. Then I thought about institutions that designed programs to combat the glut of children, mostly boys, affected by Autism. What about the other areas of Human home providers, homes, institutions, doctors...There is training for professionals, there are educational quick Google search yielded 1,310,000 hits. How many people are counting on these poor children to sustain their own families in a depressed economy. What about the individuals who profit from the vaccines in the first place. I realize that some individuals make considerable money from the research and development of them, however, there must be an army in just supplying America with all the vaccines we are required to submit are children to, even just in the first year. Is it wrong for them to want to make a good life for their own families...

Families wanting to earn a good living -vs- a generation of boys who may never marry, gain independence, or support their own families. Hmmm....tough call.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

222 > 24,000...the new math?

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Like the Bird Flu that kept us out of school for what seemed like forever, news of illness breaking out in large numbers is scary. Visions of communities patrolled by armed guards and gates...I have read the thrillers, seen the movies. I have a healthy fear of outbreaks of illness! So when I saw this article, reported by USAToday, about a measles epidemic in the United States, I instantly had to click on it.  
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Lately, every time I turn around, someone is complaining about their boy's behavior. Everywhere I turn I see that boys especially are on the spectrum. I have 11 adopted children, 6 who are boys. All the boys have behavior problems and even though I am an experienced mother who has a bachelors and some graduate credits in social work and spent my entire career in parent education, I am not that familiar with autism. I assumed it could not be my child's disease. However, I have sought out information and am finding that behaviors who look more like my boys are indeed being diagnosed as autism. Or would if I took them to be evaluated. When I heard the crazy stats about them, 1 in 88 which is probably understated, I said, well that's my answer. Research suggest that the Autism epidemic is caused by vaccines. The government is in complete denial. There are entire blogs posted about the behavior of the CDC, who mandates that children take more and more immunizations. The doctors who develop the immunizations and consequently profit from them. Even the support agency that is making tremendous dollars to find a cure, Autism Now--where is the incentive to find a cure when it is paying for all their salaries? Many parents still believe vaccines are the cause, but it is disputed firmly by Thomas Insel and other experts during a recent panel called "Information from New Research into Autism." During the recording, a caller said that her child was not autistic when he was born and brought up the fact that the 2 month old vaccines contain a toxic load of well over the safe limit of 20mcg. Insel quickly denied a link, claiming,
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"Studies] have indicated that there is no such link. These most recent numbers, if there was any lingering doubt, should speak to that fact, because ...the theory was that thimeral, an additive in vaccines, was responsible and thimerosal has been removed from virtually all vaccines ... you would have expected those numbers to go down. ...In fact, they've gone up.”

On the other side of the debate, Rep. Dan Burton, who's grandson was diagnosed with autism in the late '90's said, "I’m not a scientist, but the Committee heard from many credible scientists and experts who are convinced that mercury is a contributing factor; and the theory is no less worthy of exploration than the theories being propounded today that the pregnancy weight of the mother or the age of the father at conception influences whether a child becomes autistic. When you have no idea what is causing a disease, policymakers and scientists should never be afraid to investigate any plausible theory. In fact, researching possible environmental factors is a central component of today's research on autism."

I am not a scientist either, but I can do math if I have a calculator nearby. Lets see, we are positive that it isn't vaccines, but we have no idea what it is. Credible scientists believe that autism is caused by vaccines, yet we don't give every hypothesis a chance. We eliminate one even though it has been found by more than one scientist and countless anecdotal evidence by parents who have pictures, tapes, and family witness to speak to the fact that their children began exhibiting symptoms only after vaccinations, but we will discard that idea as completely not possible and explore every one of the other 80,000 possibilities it could be in search of the answer. But what do I know. I mean they have 222 cases of confirmed measles last year. Measles is a tough disease and all those whiny parents of  autistic kids refusing to vaccinate are going to bring back every epidemic...222 kids with measles vs. 24,000 children born this year who will be diagnosed with autism.
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Lost in all the numbers is one clear fact,

If you look at those numbers, the increase and recognize how many of those kids will become adults, we ...also need to be thinking about how we prepare the nation for a million people who may need significant amounts of services as they are no longer cared for by their parents or as their parents are no longer around.

Yes, Mr. Insel, what are we going to do...isn't that your job...

Please join me next week for part two... and don't worry, I'll be watching...
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Not a Creature was Stirring except a cat who looked like a mouse plus a review: Dumbing Us Down

I try to get to bed by 1o:oo every night. It is not always doable, but its a goal. Last night I was bed well before my goal. Tucked in and sound asleep with all the children; they have STAAR tests this week and have been told by their teachers how important a good nights sleep is...even if you are in K through 2nd and don't have testing yet. It is your responsibility to get a good nights sleep so you will be on your best behavior and quiet several halls away where your older siblings are eating mints and taking tests (evidently mints are a time honored tradition, much like mums, here in the south...but I digress). At approximately 11:27 (yes, I looked) I was awoken by a small "mew" sound. I shot a look at my fat cat sprawled on the bottom of my bed. I heard it again, and her mouth never moved. In fact, she looked at me like this...
Clearly, it was not Ashe. The two of us went off in search of the now much louder mewing...did the birds learn to meow? Didn't I tell y'all that the Murphy Farm grew by two birds last Easter, thank you very much Easter Bunny! I am trying to teach them to talk though my two girls tell me often that Parakeets have lost their ability to speak. That said, every time I walk in their room, I say in a high squeaky voice, "Nico, Kiki" convinced that they will repeat me one day and finish off my heart. Now Ashe began to hiss at an alarming frequency and began to hold back in the quest, ignoring the delicious looking birds room, so I knew it wasn't them. No, it go louder the closer to the lit up kitchen I got. There, Matthew had the tiniest grey cat with the largest voice captive in a cage. "I rescued it mom from the parking lot of the health club...can I keep it?"  I looked at Ashe, and though all she would do was hiss, I just kept thinking, "remember the last time you tried to bathe a cat and how that turned out...and this kitten stinks." But I just said put it in the garage with some food and make it stop making so much noise, and back to bed I went thinking what is it about my PA kids that has made their inner farmer come clawing to the surface. We can't get enough animals. Mariah took one look at the half dead kitten in the morning and claimed if her crazy dog is going to be willing to share. But like that, it was settled.

Later, I couldn't help but think is it Nature vs. Nurture. I have been reading a book by John Taylor Gatto  called, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. He isn't very encouraging saying, "School, as it was built, is an essential support system for a model of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows as it ascends to a terminal of control." I had to use his words,because he is genius. Those words and his enthusiasm for education are what made this book such a long enduring success. He claims that he left a very lucrative career as a copywriter, and if you read the book, you will see that he must have been very successful. He can make you believe in a reading (a quick read, it wasn't easy to stop once in!! ) that all public schools should just be scrapped. They are too big and too expensive to just be reformed. In fact, Mr. Gatto claims that the Public School system is 100% successful in its true goals which have nothing to do with education, but instead with turning us into a population of materialistic, unattached, and distracted individuals that have no true support systems or values. That is a very lofty if misguided goal. I don't believe that it is the true agenda of the Public School System, however, there is much that rings true in his assertions. Societal problems that Mr. Gatto attributes to the school system include: provisional self-esteem or basing self-worth and value on something external; dependency on others to tell them what to do or fear of getting anything done without expert instruction; that no one can be trusted and you must watch everyone all the time; the demise of family and community in favor of shallow networks; drugs; suicide; and divorce. He said that the lessons of public schooling, "confusion, class position, indifference, emotional and intellectual dependency, conditional self-esteem, and surveillance. All of these lessons are prime training for permanent underclasses, people deprived forever of finding the center of their own special genius." He believes that school encourages youth, and consequently, the population, to sever community ties in favor of networks to gain better jobs and ways of life, but which are not rich sources of community--in fact are not community at all. He talks about successful communities who grow by like minded people moving closer to each other and helping each other....caring about each other. Not in a network because they fall into the same catch man area. Pretty heavy stuff for a mom who was just wondering why her PA kids keep bringing home animals and my city kids  are content to  watch TV...but what do I know.

Anyway, I can't help but think that Mr. Gatto has made an impressive start on the debate of compulsory schooling. Of course, this book was written initially in 1992 and I was reading the 1oth anniversary issue...the debates well underway. The book gives a wonderful explanation for many of the ills of our society that we currently are plagued with. Kids are very could they not be if every time they begin to get interested in something a bell rings and they need to put it away and move to something else. Genius, but no real supporting research. I guess I need that because I am a product of compulsory education and would like an expert opinion or two. I am tempted to agree with him because he confirms my position that children should spend more time at home with each other than with teachers. I believe there is sufficient evidence to that, even the Bible and the Catholic church agree there, but I am not ready to scrap the entire public school system on Mr. Gatto's very persuasive and enthusiastic anecdotal evidence after 30 years in one city school district. Might a rural school have fared better if he had spent the same amount of time there. Can the national system of education really have a decades long evil agenda, even if it initially began that way? The system was self-perpetuation because it involves many individuals, a lot of money, and entire industries that now feed into it. Even the home school industry has many dollars riding on education. Which leads me to my original question that led to the search for the book...
artwork from digiscrap studio and holly murphy

And the one thing I really wanted to know, why I even bought the book was his idea that it takes about 100 hours to transmit the information to a child how to read, write, and do math once that child is sufficiently ready and zero money. If that is true, then I can definitely teach my children. Can I really home school, or do I need an expert to teach me how to do it...I was unable to find expert support (damn my compulsory schooling!) for that statement, however, I will keep looking. If its true, then really, I just have to make them love learning, follow their lead and natural inquisitiveness, keep them away from television (which Gatto said is the second agenda stealing our children away from their natural support) and wait until they are emotionally ready to learn. Then they will excel. In that case, Mr. Gatto has made me a believer. That is supported by the millions who do home school. I may be a product of my education, but I'm not stupid!

If you are even a little curious, whether or not you may choose to homeschool, this is an important look at the state of our nation's future...our youth. I have the book linked in my Amazon widget on this page...enjoy! I sit here several days after we adopted an abandoned kitten, much to Ashe's dismay, she is still hissing, and wondering if we are going to have to bury it, too...any cat experts out there...

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John Taylor Gatto. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (p. 13). Kindle Edition.  

John Taylor Gatto. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (p. 16). Kindle Edition.

John Taylor Gatto. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (p. 33). Kindle Edition.