Wednesday, April 30, 2008

10 years of terror

It just dawned on me...I passed the 7/97 CA Bar exam, but was in IL clerking when the results came, so I didn't get admitted until 4/30/98. Wow. Time flies when you're suing for stuff!

A Year And A Day

[pics removed by request of family - sorry!]
Nothing like a bit of cake in our toes

The bib is messy, but the sentiment is pure...

Oh all right, here's a demure one of the boy in his birthday suit

As many of you know by now, our journey to having the boy was a long and sorrowful one. After having two beautiful girls without really "trying," we tried for seven years - with seven miscarriages - to have another. No one could tell us why I kept miscarrying, or what was wrong. We had all sorts of tests - all normal. I refused to take fertility medication, between my personal convictions about such things, practicing full time, not wanting to deal with wacky mood swings, and two bouts of pre-eclampsia telling me having a litter would not be wise, it just was not a road I wanted to go down. So it was an ongoing heartbreak with each passing month and year. Then, after a year of retirement and two months after we got to NY, my Beloved answered the call, once again, to go overseas for two one-year contracts to support airfield firefighting and security for 8 Army bases in Kuweit. Naturally, this hindered our reproductive efforts. To top that off, I'd begun having terrible, wildy out-of-sorts cycles. So I figured the factory was letting me know it was going to cease operations. I called - and reset - 3 appointments with the OBGYN because I was busy with work, and I think I was not ready to hear bad news or schedule surgery.

In August of 2006, on a last-minute whim, I packed the girls up for a roadtrip. We took off for VA, AL, and decided to drop in on the EWTN 25th anniversary weekend before heading to Chicago, and then home.

We stopped in Hanceville at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament on our way to Birmingham. It was lovely, very reminiscent of the beautiful churches we'd seen in Italy. We sat for about 20 minutes at adoration, and for the first time in a long time, I prayed about my fertility issues. At 38, still without answers, I was ready to give up the issue and be content with the two wonderful daughters we have. Knowing several people who've struggled for years with infertility and have NO children, I've always felt a bit selfish praying for more. My girls are an embarrassment of riches. As one who likes to get answers and solve problems, it was quite a struggle for me to let it go. But I knew it was time.

I said to the Lord, "I'm not asking anymore. Your will be done, not mine. would be nice. " And so with that, I tendered my resignation, wiped my eyes, and walked out, feeling very tired, but strangely at peace.

The next day, we went to the convention center to see some of the speakers and to attend Mass. Along the way, we bumped into one of the Brothers (Br. Leo) who the girls recognized from the EWTN kids' programs. We said hello, and I introduced the girls. "Are these all your kids?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied.

"Only two?"

(I was a bit shocked by the frankness of the question, let's just say.)

"Yes, ummm, but not for lack of trying."

He looked at me with a raised eyebrow, so I told him what we'd been through, and asked him to pray for us. He looked duly shocked - even a tiny bit ashamed, to his credit - and assured me, in no uncertain terms, that our family would be in his prayers.

The next day, my younger one (Therese/Our Lady of Fatima), came up to me with a locket depicting the Infant of Prague that she'd picked up at the Shrine's gift shop. She had been "telling all her secrets" into the locket from the minute she unwrapped it. She said, "Mamma, I told Him everything. I told Him we needed another baby. He understands."

(Whoa. Okay...)

The following weekend, my husband came home for his sister's wedding. I was in the midst of one of those bad, 6 weeks off/3 weeks on cycles. He was home for 10 days, and with houseguests and wedding madness, opportunities to be alone were scarce, shall we say.

A month later, I went out with some law gal pals on a minor bender, wherein much wine was consumed, but not so much that I should've felt awful the next day. I couldn't move, and I got sick late in the afternoon. One of my friends joked that I was losing my touch, or I was pregnant. Lights went on. I got a test.

It was positive, and I was elated, but even more terrified. The Beloved was not due home until April, I was due in mid to late May. I went through the whole pregnancy alone in my adult inner world, scared half to death until 24 weeks, then 28, then 32...all sorts of complications, a slightly positive AFP test, which I chose to ignore (and rightly so). My girls were amazing - they became the caregivers, picking up extra responsibilities around the house, doing more for themselves, and growing up in ways I couldn't have imagined.

On the big day, they watched him come into the world (from outside the OR and behind the drape for a c-section, never fear), 3 weeks early but healthy and perfect, bringing our miracle to life. Each day that has passed since then has been a joy and a blessing. He is the sweetest, most even-tempered little guy, he is adored and cherished, and I still pinch myself to make sure it's all really happened.

When I call him our Miracle Baby, I really mean it.

God has been very good to us.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Year With A Miracle

Happy First Birthday to our precious little boy!

After seven long years of heartache, and seven little angels who went to heaven before we met them, this beautiful little man came into our lives on a sunny Spring Sunday afternoon. We are so blessed. Thank you Sts. Catherine of Sweden, Gerard, Gianna, Jude, our Blessed Mother, and our Guardian Angels for so many prayers answered.

(Tawk amungst yuhselves, I'm verklempt again!)

More pictures tomorrow...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Common Sense Prevails!

The ACLU and voters' rights groups could've spent their millions in grant money on funding low- or no-cost photo id programs for those "threatened" classes of voters...instead of legal fees. While it is "free" to get the id, there's cost involved in getting the required supporting documents (i.e., certified copy of a birth certificate, marriage license, passport, etc).

Supreme Court says states can demand photo ID for voting
Associated Press
Posted: 2008-04-28 16:34:33

WASHINGTON (AP) - States can require voters to produce photo identification, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, upholding a Republican-inspired law that Democrats say will keep some poor, older and minority voters from casting ballots.

Twenty-five states require some form of ID, and the court's 6-3 decision rejecting a challenge to Indiana's strict voter ID law could encourage others to adopt their own measures. Oklahoma legislators said the decision should help them get a version approved.

The ruling means the ID requirement will be in effect for next week's presidential primary in Indiana, where a significant number of new voters are expected to turn out for the Democratic contest between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

The results could say something about the effect of the law, either because a large number of voters will lack identification and be forced to cast provisional ballots or because the number turns out to be small.

Supporters of the law say it's all about preventing fraud.

Indiana has a "valid interest in protecting 'the integrity and reliability of the electoral process,'" said Justice John Paul Stevens in an opinion that was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy.Stevens said that Indiana's desire to prevent fraud and to inspire voter confidence in the election system are important even though there have been no reports of the kind of fraud the law was designed to combat. Evidence of voters being inconvenienced by the law's requirements also is scant. For the overwhelming majority of voters, an Indiana driver's license serves as the identification.

The law does not apply to absentee balloting, where election experts agree the threat of fraud is higher.

The Indiana law was passed in 2005. Democrats and civil rights groups opposed it as unconstitutional and called it a thinly veiled effort to discourage groups of voters who tend to prefer Democrats.

It was in effect during the 2006 elections when Democrats picked up three congressional seats in Indiana and won control of the state House of Representatives.

Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with the outcome Monday, but wrote separately in favor of a broader defense of voter ID laws.

"The universally applicable requirements of Indiana's voter-identification law are eminently reasonable. The burden of acquiring, possessing and showing a free photo identification is simply not severe, because it does not 'even represent a significant increase over the usual burdens of voting,'" Scalia said.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter dissented.

Indiana's voter ID law "threatens to impose nontrivial burdens on the voting rights of tens of thousands of the state's citizens," Souter said.The targets of the law, he said, are "voters who are poor and old."

Yet Stevens wrote that the law does not single out groups of voters for different treatment. "We cannot conclude that the statute imposes 'excessively burdensome requirements' on any class of voters," he said. That opinion suggested the outcome could be different in a state where voters could provide evidence that their rights had been impaired.

Indiana provides IDs free of charge to people without driver's licenses. It also allows voters who lack photo ID's to cast a provisional ballot and then show up within 10 days at their county courthouse to produce identification or otherwise attest to their identity.

Stevens said these provisions also help reduce the burden on people who lack driver's licenses.Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, a Republican, praised the decision. "This says to the voter you can have confidence again in the elections because we're doing some of the things the guy at the video store does when you go and rent a video," Rokita said.

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, said the court was willing to burden "tens of thousands of eligible voters who lack a government-issued identification while accepting at face value Indiana's unsubstantiated claim of voter fraud." The ACLU brought the case on behalf of Indiana voters.

The proliferation of voter ID laws followed the enactment in 2002 of the federal Help America Vote Act. The law was designed in response to the disputed 2000 presidential election. The law's voter ID provisions apply to first-time voters and do not mandate photo identification.

Many Democrats criticized the ruling Monday. It places "an unnecessary burden on elderly and low-income voters, not to mention other voters of disparate racial and ethnic backgrounds," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Mary Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters, said her group has never found a problem with in-person voter fraud. "We'd be the first ones out there to prevent voter fraud, if there really was a problem," she said.

Several critics pointed to a footnote in Stevens' opinion to show how far back he went - 140 years - to describe the corrosive effects of widespread fraud at polling places, a reference to Boss Tweed's influence in New York's municipal elections in 1868.

Republicans, meanwhile, praised the decision for recognizing the threat of voter fraud. "Today's ruling rightfully allows states to safeguard against such destructive abuse," said House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio.

In Oklahoma, Republican legislators said the ruling should help them pass a less-stringent voter ID bill. The Oklahoma House has approved legislation to require voters to present some form of identification - including a utility bill or bank statement. The measure faces a final vote by the state Senate.

Monday's case was the court's first significant foray into election law since the Bush v. Gore dispute that sealed the 2000 election for George W. Bush. The voter ID ruling, with no majority opinion and four of the nine justices writing, lacked the conservative-liberal split that marked the 2000 case.

The consolidated cases are Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, 07-25.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


In a good way. Thanks to Adrienne, of course, who has provided a link to Fr. John Trigilio's blog, Black Biretta. Link's on the sidebar. Sample post:

Go read it!

OK, if you've managed to come back now, I am a huge fan of Fr. John's, bumped into him on a kneeler in Alabama, and most importantly, his book, Catholicism for Dummies actually intrigued my saintly but under-catechised beloved enough to read up on some of the basics that didn't sink in during CCD in the 70's. And he enjoys Fr.'s show, Web of Faith on EWTN for the same reason - simply, powerfully-delivered answers to common questions.


(Off to a good start for the next 100 posts!)

Century post - award winning moments


MOTL tells me the 100th post is one of distinction, so I am taking this time to (finally ) post several awards, give 'em back, and thank all of you who've stuck it out with me these past several months!

First, we'll start with, well, my first-ever award. I have had a few of these, and I appreciate them - seriously - here I am all snuggled up under the blankies with my laptop, blathering on, and you think it's "excellent?" (Sniff... You like me! You really like me!) And I like you back. So this one is for everyone on my blogroll, because if I didn't think the same of you, you would not be there.

(I also want the Fixer to have this one, but because she is young, I don't link to her for privacy and good clean internet safety reasons - so Fixer, if you're out there reading this, here you go!)

This next one makes me think of Angela (maybe it's the hair?) and all the smiles she must get for all of the thoughtful things she does for everyone. (Check out her blog in November and you'll see what I mean!)

Of course, this next one came from MOTL ( can we tell? Love her vintage graphics!) and she deserves it back in spades for all the entertainment she provides to us all, but it applies to so many of you! Karen, Stephanie, Ma, Adrienne, Thorn, Dymphna, Kasia, SwissMiss, Tara, WSNS, Jackie, Autumn, and my newfound blog ladies Jane and She - whether we are laughing, debating, or even grieving together as we chat, you all have made me think, and you've made my day. Hope I've done the same for you here and there...

Here's another one for all you ladies reading - flowers for all! (Do your best parade/beauty queen wave!)
And again, for my youngest reader friend and photoshopper extraordinaire...give and you shall receive! (Are you going to explain the shelf thing to me?)

And then there's this one...which was a surprise and rather humbling. As many of you know from my early posts, I had a rough Catholic upbringing and fought my way back. I am there in theory, but I have a long way to go in practice. (Like wanting to throttle and smite other people. A Lot. I'm not exactly Radiating Christ, but I do own that excellent book...) So if someone thinks I've actually said anything worthy of this, I guess it means I've come a REALLY long way! Wow!

Finally, one of my own, newly made, to all of you who read this...

You know who you are. We're all down here in the trenches talking together about all the little things that happen in our daily lives, expounding on our theories of politics and religion, sharing our opinions, but from what I've seen from all who visit here, we share a common purpose, and that is in striving to live our lives and to be witnesses for the Greater Glory of God. Feel free to pass it on to others who you've met and who do the same. (Has a Pentecost-y thing going on, doesn't it?)
So there you have it. Thanks again for reading my 100th post, thanks for inviting me into your virtual lives, and please keep on dropping in!

Friday, April 25, 2008


UPDATE: We survived, the show was lovely (the current Phantom is oustanding!), and I managed not to slaughter several worthy candidates among my daughter's I was made a "group leader" for a few of the giddiest. Tempting. Very tempting.

Oh my...

Going on a field trip to NYC at 4:45 am with the Princess and her French class for a day trip of Broadway, Museum, Mme. Tussauds...with 22 hormonal teenagers who are obsessed with this movie and the live show.


St. Genesius, according to legend, was a comedian who converted to Christianity. While performing a farcical version of Christian baptism on stage for the Emperor Diocletian (Roman Emperor and persecutor of the Church, born 245, died 313), Genesius suddenly had a revelation and refused to continue to make fun of Christianity. Diocletian was outraged and ordered the actor's death. He was tortured, torn with hooks, beheaded, and burned on stage. (He is also described as patron saint of lawyers, printers, and secretaries.) His feast day is August 25.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Going to the Dentist tomorrow...

St. Apollonia was one of a group of virgin martyrs who suffered in Alexandria during an uprising against the Christians c. 249. She and others were beaten by the crowds. Her teeth were knocked out in the process. She was dragged before a bonfire, and told by her captors to renounce her faith and blaspheme the Lord, or she would be thrown into the fire. She paused for a moment as if she wanted to ponder...and then voluntarily jumped into the fire, choosing the victory of martyrdom over denouncing her true Faith. She is the patroness of dentists and of those who suffer with toothaches.
St. Apollonia, smile down on me tomorrow! I have to have some old bonding on my front teeth replaced with veneers...all because I was self conscious about a teeny gap between my front teeth that came back, despite years of orthodontia, while I was pregnant with my oldest. (Yes, friends, EVERYTHING spreads!). Because I am the child of a retired dentist, I am a habitual flosser....which has chipped the bonding, catching coffee stains, necessitating repairs...and now after 14 it's just gotta all come off. In order not to look like a deranged rabbit, the adjoining two teeth are being made over to match. Not covered by our dental plan. Dad's too far away and 10 years into retirement. It's gonna cost more than sending a kid to Catholic school for a year. Yuck.

German Parade Float

Why, you ask? I don't know, but it cracked me up.

Won't happen

Florida's legislature is set to consider authorizing this state issued license plate:
Here's a link to the story:

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Price of Free Speech

Okay - DISCLAIMER - I don't agree with the choice of words here.

Colorado Lawmaker Calls Mexican Workers 'Illiterate Peasants'
Monday , April 21, 2008 (Associated Press)

DENVER — A Colorado legislator known for kicking a photographer was ordered to leave the podium of the state House of Representatives on Monday because he called Mexican workers "illiterate peasants."
State Rep. Douglas Bruce, who has a history of provoking controversy, made the comment during debate on a bill that would allow the state to help immigrant workers get temporary federal visas. The measure is intended to ease a shortage of farm workers in the state.

"I would like to have the opportunity to state at the microphone why I don't think we need 5,000 more illiterate peasants in Colorado," Bruce said.
His outburst drew an audible gasp from the House.

"How dare you," said state Rep. Kathleen Curry, a Democrat who was serving as chairwoman during the debate. She told the Republican lawmaker he was no longer recognized to speak.

House Minority Leader Mike May, head of the GOP caucus, said legislative leaders were trying to determine what action to take against Bruce.
Rep. Terrance Carroll, a Democrat, said the remark could result in a formal ethics complaint that would require a hearing and possible suspension, censure or expulsion.

Bruce later defended his remarks.

“I looked up ’illiterate’ in the dictionary and it means somebody who is lacking in formal education or is unable to read and write,” he said. “I don’t think these people who are planning to come over here and pick potatoes or peaches are likely to have much of a formal education.
I looked up the word ’peasant.’ The word ’peasant’ means a person who works in agricultural fields.

"These people, most of them, don’t speak English. Most of them haven’t had any formal education, that’s why they’re coming over here. I don’t blame them for trying, but I don’t think we should pave the way for more aliens to come here,” he said.

He became the first Colorado lawmaker censured by the House after he kicked a newspaper photographer for taking his picture during a prayer.
Republicans later removed him from the powerful State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee because he refused to co-sponsor a resolution honoring military veterans. Bruce said he believed resolutions were a waste of time because they have no legal effect.

Like it or not, this man is entitled to express his opinion, which has more than a faint whiff of truth to it, as a legislator and as a participant in the free marketplace of ideas in this country.

Those of you who live in a border state, you know what it's like when you turn in to the parking lot of Home Depot and see the huddled groups looking for day labor, (and some of whom have been known to "accidentally" jump in front of oncoming cars in an attempt to win the gringo insurance lottery), casting furtive glances to see if anyone looks interested. It is a real, complex problem with no easy answers. Outright amnesty is not going to work. We simply can't absorb the numbers. Aiding and abetting (that's you, Cdl. Mahoney, that's you, Mexican Government providing food and water stops along the way north) sure as hell ain't right.

The fact that the Democratic Chair cut him off and did not allow him to complete his thought or explain his reasoning bothers me more than what he said. When "free" speech is limited or unilaterally stifled by one member of the ruling party in the very seat of government, we have a serious problem.

Some people, like this guy Bruce, act as lightening rods. They thrive on sparking controversy by the use of invective. The words he used make you think about the issue. These are not "fighting words" akin to Don Imus' "nappy headed ho" remarks, nor are they as inflammatory as referring to the Mexican illegal farm workers as "modern day slaves." I found Obama's "clinging to guns and religion" remarks far more demeaning to middle class America than Bruce's words used to describe people who violate our laws to come here and who do so not purely out of the noble desire to feed and clothe their families back in the homeland, but as importantly, to obtain benefits (health, education, welfare) that their own dysfunctional government refuses to provide. Why can't we openly address these issues rather than cutting off the microphones?

Again, don't get me wrong - I am all for immigration - my earliest relatives hit the rocky shores of Mass. back in 1641 (unpopular to be Catholic in England back then), and the latest (1912) married her way down here from Quebec/Ste Anne de Beaupre. The rules were different then, true. But we have a right to expect that the laws of this sovereign nation be followed by those who want to come here. And damn straight, the laws are burdensome. Just ask any of my disabled Social Security clients who've been waiting three-plus years to get a hearing to find out if they're entitled to benefits.

The legislation Bruce was speaking against has some positive points - basically, the employers report the workers, get permits, and help pay the costs of fast-tracking them to obtaining legal status (a glorified "guest worker" approach). It needs work, but it's a start. Here's the link:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Supporting the troops with deeds, not words

Get your hanky ready - no hints, just make sure you have your volume on.

This woman is a gift of pure love.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Verklempt again

Was misty throughout, but when he greeted the WTC victims individually, the injured officer who limped terribly, yet still tried to genuflect before His Holiness as he kissed the ring...really opened up the floodgates...then the bagpipes playing "Going Home" as the Popemobile went up the ramp got me going, too, and then again, when the cameras on EWTN followed one of the women survivors going up to the others, and she hugged and wept with them, I was a mess.

How beautiful she was, and her spirit too, in the midst of such tragedy.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Papa Schatzi...

...LOVED his fabulous red shoes today at the UN. Striking with the Papal white and gold ensemble.

Am feverishly looking for pics online so that I can share....

UPDATE #2: It's not just me!!!

(From the BBC)


YESSSSSS!!!!!! Sehr Schon, Papa!

(The New York Times is good for something, anyway - ed.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Forgot to mention...

...because I was so busy trying to find my nephew.

I thought Pres. Bush's opening remarks on the South Lawn were nicely done. Did you see the Pope's face light up in agreement when Bush said (I paraphrase) we cannot let ourselves or our country fall prey to the dictatorship of relativism? Good stuff.

Nicely done, Mr/s. Speechwriter!

Also, I am SO GLAD that the Holy Father spoke so candidly about the sex abuse scandal, and that he met privately with victims. The feral side of my brain wanted (and still wants) heads to roll. Fortunately, it is tempered by the legal side. The legal side tells me, rationally, that we've had to wait all this time for such a public demonstration of remorse until the storm of litigation had subsided, by and large.

It's terrible to say (morally, and "common- sensically") but from a legal standpoint, earlier apologies might have been construed as admissions of guilt while litigation was still pending. (NB: while I believe many people were indeed abused, some personally known to me and my family, I also believe that there's been a lot of bandwagoning by sick, sad, angry people - so let's just say all proven cases had to be brought to conclusion.)

Now that the majority of cases have been resolved, the healing process can begin. Many criticize JPII for not doing enough, or saying enough, but I firmly believe that he was not in a position to be able to do so, at least in public, before his death. Our German Shepherd was not so reserved, calling the abusers "filth" and "scum" while still a Cardinal.

I think B16's greatest legacy, his health and God willing, will be to reform, tighten things up, separate the wheat from the chaff, clarify catechetical questions, and quell the post-V2 that we can reclaim and reaffirm our Catholic identity. "It is more important to have good priests than many priests."

Rock-steady, and Rock-on, Successor of Peter!

Why am I not surprised?

(Haven't heard much from her lately...)

Resolution Welcoming Pope Hits Abortion Snag in Congress Before Passing

Thursday , April 17, 2008
By Trish Turner
(From Fox News)

A resolution welcoming and honoring Pope Benedict XVI to Washington hit a temporary rough patch on the way to its eventual approval — and the rough patch involved the always-nuclear topic of abortion.

Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., crafted a resolution "Welcoming Pope Benedict XVI to the United States and recognizing the unique insights his moral and spiritual reflections bring to the world stage."

But when the resolution was circulated for approval of all the members, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., an outspoken "pro-choice" advocate, put on the brakes.

The offending language: "Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out for the weak and vulnerable, witnessing to the value of each and every human life."

A Boxer aide pointed specifically to the last 10 words of that sentence, saying it points directly to "pro-life" language. Boxer, with the support of a number of her Democratic and Republican colleagues, held up the bill for three days, trying to find a compromise.

One senior Republican leadership aide told FOX News, "What's the problem with this? Does Sen. Boxer not value life? It speaks directly to the message the Pope delivered when he arrived here."

From the Papal mass this morning, FOX News has learned, Brownback e-mailed his staff to strike the offending language.

Now, the resolution, which was just approved by unanimous consent, reads: "Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has spoken out for the weak and vulnerable."

Boxer also objected to another line that has since been changed.
The original line said: "Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has spoken approvingly of the vibrance of religious faith in the United States, a faith nourished by a constitutional commitment to religious liberty that neither attempts to strip our public spaces of religious expression nor denies the ultimate source of our rights and liberties."

It was changed to: "Whereas Pope Benedict XVI has spoken approvingly of the vibrance of religious faith in the United States, a faith nourished by a constitutional commitment to religious liberty."

Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz e-mailed a statement to FOX News saying, "We are very pleased we were able to reach an agreement with Senator Brownback to remove the political language and pass this resolution welcoming Pope Benedict."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Way cool!!!

UPDATE: We saw him! He was positioned in an archway directly behind and to the right side of the dais (behind Pres. Bush), not holding a flag. Handsome boy.

Deo Gratias!

My nephew is in the Old Guard (Army) and will be in the honor guard at the White House tomorrow morning, apparently standing quite close to His Holiness! Look for a strapping Irish lad, 6'2", with icy silvery-blue eyes....

He served with distinction for his year in Baghdad, as a sniper assigned to SIT ON TOP OF or walk NEXT TO Bradleys and other armored vehicles during neighborhood patrols, and to pick off anyone who fired at his group. He held two friends as they died. He admits looking into the eyes of 6 enemy combatants as he shot and killed them. He received an Army Commendation Medal with a special "V" for valor after being pinned down in a bombed-out crater/wall with 4 friends, one critically wounded by enemy fire, for several hours. In order to get a clear shot at the nest of insurgents who were firing at them, one of them would have to come up out of the hole and from behind the cover of the wall, run several yards around the wall, and take the shot. When it was clear no help was coming anytime soon, he ordered everyone else to stay put, made the move - and made the kills - to get he and his friends out of their position and back to safety, and to get the wounded soldier medical help.

All of this was done during his 20th year.

When he got home, his CO recommended him for a special tour with the Old Guard, the best of the Army's best, known for its troops' valor. They perform ceremonial duties at Arlington National Cemetery, guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and are responsible for the protection of The Military District Washington DC. (The Marines get to take care of the President.)

Hoo-Ahh, Boy. Your "Auntie Kiss"* is proud of you.

Oh yeah. After my sister's divorce, what little Mass attendance there was stopped. He started going again while stationed in Baghdad. He doesn't talk about it, even with me. He just goes...and pins anyone down with a baleful stare from those clear eyes if they try to pry, or worse yet, tease him about it.

*(He doesn't talk like that anymore. But those unearthly icy-silver-blue eyes sparkling at you from a toddler's sweet face...unforgettable.)

Welcome Papa!!!

(Photo from Fox)

Thank you

3 hours to touchdown...

Pope says he is 'deeply ashamed' of clergy abuse scandal
Associated Press
Posted: 2008-04-15 12:07:42

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday he was "deeply ashamed" of the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and will work to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood, addressing the toughest issue facing the American church as he began his first papal trip to the United States.Benedict spoke in English on a special Alitalia flight from Rome to Washington, answering questions submitted by reporters in advance."It is a great suffering for the Church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen," Benedict said. "It is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betray in this way their mission ... to these children.""I am deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future," the pope said.Benedict pledged that pedophiles would not be priests in the Catholic Church."We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry," Benedict said. "It is more important to have good priests than many priests. [Amen!]We will do everything possible to heal this wound."

Please, Papa, start by removing complicit Bishops who knew, looked the other way, and reassigned these "troublesome" priests to other parishes. In my smallish Southern Tier/Finger Lakes community, my sources tell me that THREE such priests were reassigned, apparently with the thought that by banishing them to the furthest (and less populated) areas of his realm, Bp. Clark could remove them from the closer scrutiny they'd received in his seat of Rochester.

THREE. In a 4-county area with less than 250,000 residents/50,000 Catholics/11 parishes-parish clusters. One of these priests - AFTER being reassigned following allegations of sexual misconduct - was placed in charge of a parish with an elementary school on the grounds. Fortunately, he was busted for online child porn before he harmed any child (that we know of) here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Are you awake?

Hamas Cleric Predicts 'Rome Will Be Conquered by Islam'
(From Fox News)
Monday , April 14, 2008

A sermon last Friday by a prominent Muslim cleric and Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament openly declared that "the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital," would soon be conquered by Islam.

The fiery sermon, delivered by Yunis al-Astal and aired on Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV, predicted that Rome would become "an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread though Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, even Eastern Europe."

"Allah has chosen you for Himself and for His religion," al-Astal preached, "so that you will serve as the engine pulling this nation to the phase of succession, security and consolidation of power, and even to conquests through da'wa and military conquests of the capitals of the entire world.

"Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our prophet Muhammad," he added.

Al-Astal last June preached how it was the duty of Palestinian women to martyr themselves by becoming homicide bombers. "The most exalted form of jihad is fighting for the sake of Allah, which means sacrificing one's soul by fighting the enemies head-on, even if it leads to martyrdom," he said in a June 23, 2007 interview.

"When jihad becomes an individual duty, it applies to women too, because women do not differ from men when it comes to individual duties," he said, calling Jews "the brothers of apes and pigs" who should "taste the bitterness of death."

Friday's rant repeated that theme: "Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam.

"I believe that our children, or our grandchildren, will inherit our jihad and our sacrifices, and, Allah willing, the commanders of the conquest will come from among them.

"Today, we instill these good tidings in their souls – and by means of the mosques and the Koran books, and the history of our Prophets, his companions, and the great leaders, we prepare them for the mission of saving humanity from the hellfire at whose brink they stand."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Good Shepherd

At Mass today, I suddenly recalled something I'd forgotten long ago, probably 13 years or so...a beautiful painting I could not then afford.

I was at a Catholic bookstore in Irvine, CA, not too far from our military base housing. A local artist had a number of religious paintings displayed and for sale. The artist was skilled, but not great - yet she (and I have no idea of her name, I just remember it was a "she") captured something so unique, I was riveted. The painting depicted Christ sitting beneath a tree on a hillside, surrounded by a group of disciples and locals who'd come to listen as He told a parable, probably. But it was like a candid snapshot of an off-moment, because He was looking past them, laughing. Off to one side was a young boy tending to his flock of sheep and lambs, one of whom had apparently just knocked the boy over. It was heartwarming, and it reminded me that in His humanness, Christ probably found plenty of these moments to enjoy, laugh...and then get back to the work of our salvation.

I thought about it all the way home...and again after I posted my response to a nutter who tried to slime my combox. (See below).

I think it cost $350. It might as well have been $350 million back then. But it still stands out in my mind. If I had any artistic talent (beyond that which makes me virtually unstoppable at Pictionary), I'd try to recreate it for reflection here in my little home library.

(It just occurred to me that this reminds me of the image of JPII laughing shortly before his death, when the errant dove he and some children tried to release circled back around and into the window...)

Well well well....

I finally got my first nasty, psycho-wacko, cuckoo-loco comment, which I have summarily deleted. It had to do with condemning me, Catholicism, conservatives, the military, lawyers, my children, my pets, you name it.
. . .


I decided not to deface this main page with the stupid things that my deranged commenter said, so I've shifted the post - or manifesto, if you prefer - to the combox. I'd rather keep the more positive stuff front and center.

No Greater Love...

Requiescat in Pace, Cpl. Jason Dunham
(November 10, 1981 - April 22, 2004)

All of these hurt, but this one hits a bit too close to home -- a Marine from Scio, NY, a tiny town an hour or so away from here, Cpl. Jason Dunham (note his birthdate!) earned his posthumous Congressional Medal of Honor much the same way as PO2 Monsoor did. He wrestled an insurgent who pulled a pin on a grenade, called out the warning, and used his body as a shield to save his fellow Marines. A Navy Ship - a missile destroyer, no less - has been named in his honor, its "keeling" will be in May of this year. From the official citation:

Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander's convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast.

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

Godspeed, Cpl. Dunham, and may all Sailors and Marines who take to the seas on the ship bearing your name recall and honor you, and serve safely and with distinction.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Nice Man Cometh!

This is going to be great...especially for Dymphna...lucky!!!

From his letter to us on the Vatican website:

Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends in the United States, I am very much looking forward to being with you. I want you to know that, even if my itinerary is short, with just a few engagements, my heart is close to all of you, especially to the sick, the weak, and the lonely. I thank you once again for your prayerful support of my mission. I reach out to every one of you with affection, and I invoke upon you the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I will be watching all of these events on EWTN, but FYI, there will be a special presentation on the upcoming visit this Sunday at 8 ET on Fox News. I think they've done a nice job in past coverage on Catholicism, the passing of JPII, so I am looking forward to watching this, too.
As for tonight, however, I've posted the perfect recipe at Brookside Bistro. Enjoy! ;-)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Requiescat In Pace

Petty Officer Michael Monsoor
The Navy Hymn

Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep,
Its own appointed limits keep.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea! Amen.
Eternal Father, lend Thy grace
To those with wings who fly thro' space,
Thro wind and storm, thro' sun and rain,
Oh bring them safely home again.

Oh Father, hear an humble prayer,
For those in peril in the air! Amen.

Oh Trinity of love and pow'r,
Our brethren shield in danger's hour,
From rock and tempest, fire and foe,
Protect them where so e'er they go.

Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea! Amen.
(Photo from FoxNews. Happened to be walking by the tv when they showed the ceremony - the President cried openly alongside PO Monsoor's parents. So did I.)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Oh to be 14 again...

...or not! The Princess had a school dance this past Friday and her "crush" (who is "dating" a PUBLIC SCHOOL girl...) actually danced the last dance of the evening with her. She came home all giddy and has been reliving it ever since.

"He looked at me the whole time and when it was over he didn't let go for a few seconds...he SMILED at me!"

I had to know, so I asked "did it look like was gonna try and KISS you?"

"NOOOOOO!!! MAMMM-MAAAAAA!!! I'd never do THAT, especially at SCHOOL, and oh yeah, ummm....he has a GIRLFRIEND!"

(She is such a square. And BOY am I glad!)

While I would love for 40 year old me (eek! I just typed that out in a sentence!) to go back for a day and slay all the mean girls who have been picking on her for the past several months, and grin at the thought of being so excited about HIM dancing with me and NOT being ALMOST KISSED...nah, not worth it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Kitchen project


Meet Wiley, the Golden Retard.

5 years ago, a year after we lost our first doggie boy to bone cancer at 8, we adopted him from the So. Cal. Rescue Retriever Society - a great organization. It was akin to adopting a child - we had to give personal and veterinary references, had our home inspected by appointment AND by took about 2 months to complete the process.

Wiley was physically abused and locked outside all day by his former owners. He dug his way to freedom, escaped, was caught and put in a San Diego City shelter 5 times before his owners were fined into submission and were finally persuaded to give him up. His bottom front teeth were worn to the roots from gnawing on his chains and fencing. It took him a year not to cower at sudden movements, or at the sound of the beloved's deep voice. He immediately attached himself to my oldest for sleeping, and me for shadowing during the day. We almost renamed him Eeyore, at first, because he had such a sad, guilty look and sense of impending doom about him until he learned to trust us. Still does on days like...last Sunday. More on that in a bit.

He has only done a few really "bad" things since he came to us - tore up a beloved Raggedy Ann doll, got half of my favorite pair of Birkenstocks and did the same to a pair we got in London for the beloved, got all the Christmas candy once, and on occasion has been known to snout his way into the pantry to hunt and kill boxed goods, like mac-n-cheese, instant oatmeal packets, rice, and a kid-did-not-properly-screw-on-lid peanut butter jar. But all in all, he's been a wonderful addition to the family. After we moved here in 2004, we got him a little bitch buddy (aka, Lilli, the yellow Labradork) to dominate and that made all the difference - perked him up and made him all manly and alpha male-y, and gave her an adopted uncle to torment and take out all her puppy energy on. They have been living in neutered bliss ever since.
So last Sunday, I pulled out my binder with all the old family recipes in it to make a cake - my great-grandmother's recipe, an old "ditto" (purple ink - remember that?) copy on yellowed paper that I've had since stealing it from my mother back in high school. Left the binder on the kitchen countertop, went to 5pm Mass...and when I got home, the binder and all its contents were torn apart and strewn on the kitchen floor. I was (and am) heartsick. I can get most of the recipes back from my mom, sister, and great-aunt...but the old handwritten versions (even though many were dittoes and xeroxes of the originals) were special. You know what I mean, I'm sure.

This week, one of my wedding gifts from 15 years ago - the Betty Crocker Cookbook - was unceremoniously ripped from its shelf on the kitchen island and similarly devoured. While vastly annoying, this I can replace without feeling bereft as I do about my old black vinyl binder. Wonder what the heck was dripped on those, or what prompted this after 4 years of them being in the same place?!?

Well, the answer to all of this may die with Wiley, the BAD boy, but in order to recover, and maybe get some new ideas to freshen things up in my NEW personal binder, I've started a sub-blog - "Brookside Bistro" (cute, eh?) the link's on the blogroll (right).
I'll be posting recipes here and there on the weekends as I reconstruct my binder (finally putting these on a computer after all these years, in the event of another catastrophe - wait, that offends my cat - DOGastrophe). Please, please visit and feel free to contribute your own stand-bys. I'm not asking for Aunt Agatha's secret pie crust recipe or other such proprietary family secrets, but anything that appeals to the masses, kid friendly, appallingly bad for you but yummy, calorie conscious (for after you've indulged in the prior category...), quick, all day, anything you like. All are welcome, I hope to add to your collection, and I appreciate your help!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

5 Critically Named Movies I Detest Meme

From Karen...and here you go!

1. Schindler's List - Wanted to shoot myself to get it overwith. No, I am not an anti-Semite or Holocaust denier. I just don't like being so heavy-handedly delivered a message, emotionally manipulated by a little girl in a pink dress, and all that. I get it. I always have. It makes me sick. Interestingly, the beloved ran out in the middle of this one and got terribly sick - I was shocked at the thought of him being overwrought and sat there trying to decide if I should go check on him, but it turned out to be bad shrimp cocktail.

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey. I'm with you Karen - blech!

3. Bringing Up Baby - I love Katharine, I just found her whiny-wacky schtick to be a bit much

4. Saving Private Ryan - Like Schindler's List, I don't need to be beaten over the head with survivor's guilt, and then there's the gore factor in the opening scene, the stabbing scene...just too much. Sure, good filmmaking, whatever, but not for me.

5. Pulp Fiction - I just flat out missed the point of this one - HATED it.

TAG: MOTL, Adrienne, WSNS, AA, and of course...MA!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I am an April Fool for a meme!'s been awhile!

From we go!


1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.

2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What was I doing 10 years ago?

Working part time as a lawyer and staying home as much as possible to play with my young baby. Pretty much exactly what I'm doing now! I had just been admitted to the CA Bar, which I took 7 months pregnant. Still not sure how I managed it, but thanks again, St. Jude, for prayers answered!

Five things on my to do list:

1. Clean out the attic, basement, and closets and have a HUGE yard sale!

2. Settle a few of my older cases so I am not freaking out about paying my exorbitant NY property taxes, PLUS my student loans, PLUS kid tuition deposit for the local quasi-Catholic high school, which is twice as expensive as the quasi-Catholic Jr. High she attends now....PLUS....a lot of other stuff that is converging on the family budget this month.

3. Exercise (outside) more now that it's above 40* ...every other day, anyway.

4. Pray that I get the full-time teaching job at the college so I can work a more normal schedule (15 hours of class, 10 hours of office/grading time...yay!). Summers and doing project/trial work for my full time atty friends....ideal! (All additional prayer support greatly appreciated on this one!)

5. Become (and stay!) enceinte within the next year...wouldn't it be loverly? My little guy needs a buddy close in age to him. The girls will be adults and out of the house when he is in early grade school. I feel kinda bad for him, and, well, I ADORE having a little baby in the house why not?

Favorite Snacks:

Rice pudding, Oreos dipped in milk (yummmm...), Cadbury anything, Walkers Shortbread

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Annoy people. Really. People would be annoyed a) that I had that much money , b) that they did not have said money c) that I did not give some of that money to them d) that I set up a huge charitable foundation and gave my money to causes and people I care about, of which and of whom they did not approve...fortunately, I have gotten to the point in my life where I care very little about what the "theys" in life think about me. And I enjoy being annoying to people like that. :)

Seriously, I would ensure that the beloved, me, and my children had large, meticulously planned, well-supervised and maintained trust funds. I would then buy chunks of real estate in places I like to travel (villa in Tuscany, flat in London, apt in Manhattan, beach house in LaJolla and/or the South of France...or maybe Santorini....) and split my time among them, seeing as much of the world as possible. And always fly first class! (No private jet, just being able to get a ticket whenever i feel like leaving would be fine). I'd probably also want to design and build my own estate-type house somewhere. And I was not kidding about the foundation. I would do all sorts of philanthropic work and give away a lot of money - as I have mentioned, I love the act of giving far more than receiving - and do a good deal of it in an anonymous way.

Three of my bad habits:

1. Eating whatever I feel like eating (occasional gluttony)

2. Cussing. WORST habit of all.

3. Handbags and shoes. For some it's the ponies, others the ganja....the smell of leather is like legal crack to me! I am horrible, but not nearly as bad as a lot of women I know. I am very selective, but have crazily expensive taste. Fortunately, pre-eclampsia pregnancies and resultant swelling have widened my feet from 8(N) to 8.5(W), so it's harder to go wild on the shoes. Whatever I wear for more than a few hours at some social function has to be COMFY. I have worn mostly Birks, Uggs, and Crocs since moving to NY. But I do have a big collection of "others" that gets added to several times a year.

Five places I have lived:

Woodstock, IL (and Palatine, later on...)
Scottsdale (and Cave Creek), AZ
Irvine, CA
San Diego, CA
Finger Lakes, NY

Five jobs I have had:

Drugstore clerk
Ice Cream Truck Driver (FUN!!!)
Dental assistant/office manager

Now...I tag 5 of the more prolific of my blogpals: Ma Beck, MOTL, Gem, Digi, and Angela M., because I know that they will find more far-reaching friends to tag and thus keep les bontemps roulez-ing!