Friday, November 30, 2007

A reflection on parenting

These are some really great, really true thoughts (scroll way down to the paragraph that begins with "All my babies are gone now.") Here's an excerpt:

What those [parenting] books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations and the older parents at cocktail parties -- what they taught me was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay.

Worth reading that whole section.

The beauty of homemaking

Mrs. Alexandra of Home Living has a new site for homemakers. There's a lot of nice stuff on there that's worth perusing. I thought this excerpt from her Restoring the Culture of Home page was interesting:

There are no heated political arguments in [Jane Austen's] novels, neither any romantic adventures, no crimes or scenes of violence. Her novels are not of a kind which could be described as thrillers. And yet they are amazingly popular nowadays. Can the reason be that we as a society have lost something precious and now we are desperately longing for its return?

We seem to nearly have lost the culture of home. It is the description of this culture which makes Miss Austen's novels and their adaptations so irresistible to modern audience. In fact, we can learn a lot from them. Take, for instance the novel "Emma". There is the character of Mr Weston, which is a perfect illustration to my first point. He went into trade to make money and when he earned enough, he retired, though he was quite young and healthy. There is no mention in the novel that he ever regretted this decision. He evidently saw his market activity as a means to an end, and not an objective in itself.

Read the rest of this excerpt here, or check out the rest of the content here.

Church bulletin bloopers

I got a chuckle out of these.

16th-century paining shows angel with Down Syndrome


via Canterbury Tales

Shakespeare was Catholic?

Some thoughts.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Merry Tossmas!

via Domestic Vocation

The comfort of a home

Ouiz has a sweet, inspiring post about how wonderful it is to come home to the warmth and smells of a home-cooked meal.

Blog of the Week: I have to sit down.

OK, I was going to link to Simcha yet again, so I decided that I should either just make this site automatically redirect to hers, to just highlight her whole blog as a Blog of the Week. So here it is, one of my favorite reads: I have to sit down. I especially liked her latest post (that also has some great comments) about how she's still not used it, even after seven kids.

Adoration online

I found this webcame of the Blessed Sacrament through this interesting article at The Deacon's Bench. Neat idea.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Celebrities' real names

Now we know that it was Alphonso D’Abruzzo who starred on M.A.S.H. and that it was Lawrence Tero who pitied all those fools.

via DarwinCatholic

Christianity, the inconvenient religion

I loved this post from former atheist John C. Wright:

To those of you who think religion is a self-delusion based on wish-fulfillment, all I can remark is that this religion does not fulfill my wishes. My wishes, if we are being honest, would run to polygamy, self-righteousness, vengeance and violence: a Viking religion would suit me better, or maybe something along Aztec lines.

Read the whole thing (some good comments at the bottom as well).

via Claw of the Conciliator

Warning: extremely addictive word game

I really wish Simcha hadn't linked to this.

30 beautiful blog designs

Some design inspiration for bloggers.

via Daily Blog Tips

What does it mean to be a "consecrated virgin"?

Deacon Greg has the scoop.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The touching story of the only Arctic football team in America

Video and text here. I saw this on ESPN this weekend and thought it was such a neat story. Don't miss Part II.

The Washington Post on the Nashville Dominicans

Cool article about the growth of traditional religious orders.

via Mary's Aggies

Dispatches from the culture of death

A 27-year-old woman has an abortion and then sterilizes herself to help save the environment, and a former UN official likens pregnancy to slavery. Really troubling.

via Mary's Aggies

The Theology of the Body according to Simcha

Don't have time to read Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body? Just read this instead. It's shorter, and more hilarious.

"A sense of gratitude is necessary for both happiness and decency"

I'd seen this article before, but somehow missed the most thought-provoking part, which John C. Wright recently highlighted on his site:

The thinness of the new atheism is evident in its approach to our civilization, which until recently was religious to its core. To regret religion is, in fact, to regret our civilization and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy. And in my own view, the absence of religious faith, provided that such faith is not murderously intolerant, can have a deleterious effect upon human character and personality. If you empty the world of purpose, make it one of brute fact alone, you empty it (for many people, at any rate) of reasons for gratitude, and a sense of gratitude is necessary for both happiness and decency. For what can soon, and all too easily, replace gratitude is a sense of entitlement. Without gratitude, it is hard to appreciate, or be satisfied with, what you have: and life will become an existential shopping spree that no product satisfies.

Matthew Jarpe imagines what the future will be like if nothing comes along to solve our current environmental problems

Some interesting thoughts. But, most importantly, I have a rule that any post that references flying cars full of killer pirate robots automatically gets a link.

via John C. Wright

The baby who wouldn't die

A disturbing yet ultimately inspiring story about a baby who doctors tried to kill multiple times (to "end his suffering sooner rather than later") who is now a healthy child.

via John C. Wright

Muslims fill pews of newly reopened Iraqi Catholic church as show of support

An inspiring story.


Friday, November 23, 2007

The breakdown of families - when have we seen this before?

Abigail comes across something interesting in her husband's history textbook:

In the twenty years after 1917, all aspects of Soviet society came under the purview of the [Communist] party. The atomization of society, a prime characteristic of totalitarian government, did not permit such secret and trustful groups as the family to exist at ease...By and large the government worked to weaken the importance of the family. Initially after the revolution, divorces required no court proceedings, abortions were legalized, women were encouraged to take jobs outside the home, and communist nurseries were set up to care for children while their mothers worked.

Read her thoughts on it here.

Getting started with international adoption

Some helpful tips from a mom who has adopted multiple children from Africa.

"Religious relativism is founded on philosophical relativism"

Some interesting thoughts from Pope Benedict XVI.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Neat quote

"I render infinite thanks to God, for being so kind as to make me alone the first observer of marvels kept hidden in obscurity for all previous centuries."

- Galileo Galilei

The five best books about journeys of discovery

These all look great. (It's written by Dava Sobel, the author of one of my favorite books, Galileo's Daughter.)

The most unbelievable lawsuit ever

Warning: this is a really disturbing story about some slave traders in 1781. I usually avoid linking to depressing stuff, but I think this is worth pointing out since it's such a glaring example of evil at work. It's exactly the type of thing I was thinking of when I wrote about the devil being the "Father of Lies". People can do almost anything if they have a story to tell themselves about why it's not wrong.

Our Father in multiple languages

This is neat.

I think it's interesting that the Latin version seems to say "forgive us our debts" (though I'm no Latin scholar, so I may be misunderstanding that). The concept of having debt forgiven makes that part really hit home, probably because it offers a concrete visual: how amazing would it be if some credit card company to whom you owed a huge amount of money called and told you that you no longer needed to pay it, that it's been taken care of. That's sort of like what God has done for us.

WWII Monopoly games had real "Get Out of Jail Free" cards

From the Wall Street Journal:

The board game "Monopoly" served allied prisoners as a real-life tool to get out of jail during World War II, says Brian McMahon in Mental Floss, a magazine of farflung trivia.

In 1941, the British secret service asked the game's British licensee John Waddington Ltd. to add secret extras to some sets, which the Red Cross delivered to prisoners of war. These included a metal file, compass and silk maps of safe houses (silk, because it folds into small spaces and unfolds silently). Even better, real French, German and Italian currency was hidden under the game's fake money. Soldiers and pilots were told that if they were captured they should look out for the special editions, identified by a red dot in the game's "Free Parking" space.

Of the 35,000 prisoners of war who escaped German prison camps, "more than a few of those certainly owe their breakout to the classic board game," says Mr. McMahon.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Why pray?

This is a really, really good post. An excerpt:

In a society that is so preoccupied with feelings, many expect that prayer will result in feeling close to God. In fact, though, the great fruit of prayer is virtue. Putting ourselves into the presence of God opens us to the power of the Spirit that orders our priorities to see as Jesus sees and to desire what He desires...Prayer gives us the grace to move beyond preoccupation with self and, little by little, to put on the mind of Christ.

I love that concept of prayer as "putting on the mind of Christ". Read the whole thing.

via Kiwi Nomad's comment to this post

Challenge your children with greatness

I really liked this post. Here's an excerpt:

We do our children a disservice by expecting them to do their duty day in and day out without a worthy reason. On the other hand, saying, "I'll take you to Six Flags if you do all your schoolwork and don't complain for a whole week," is a demeaning motivator. For, essentially, in extending such a carrot, we are assuming the child can only care for the temporal and fleeting pleasures of life.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

What a touching story.

How can I know for sure that I'll go to heaven when I die?

Red Neck Woman has a good answer.

Mind over matter, and the Master of matter

Jessica, who just found out that she is pregnant with monoamniotic twins, writes a beautiful post about a lesson she learned when she broke both arms in Karate a few years ago.

A Catholic woman's experience with IVF

A very interesting post from Anne Marie about her experience with IVF before she returned to the Catholic Church:

I was never really quite comfortable with IVF although I could not put my finger on why. It began to come into focus as we sat in the doctor’s office and she pressured us to sign a form to allow for selective reduction. I wouldn't do it, but we told her we would think about it. I could not believe that a doctor who knew I had lost every one of my pregnancies would ask me to abort my children. I was stunned, and she would not do the IVF with out us signing the form.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Beautiful quote about conversion

I came across this comment from Margaret on this post at MommyLife.

After years of discernment and prayer, I joined the Catholic Church in 2000. The best way I can describe my conversion experience is this:

It was as if I had entered a beautiful and mysterious palace with hundreds, thousands of rooms. I had heard strange things about the palace and was warned not to go in. But I had been given false information and rumors. I had to see the palace for myself. Each room was full of rich treasures and I was in awe of the beauty, majesty, wisdom and peace there. The palace was lovely all along; I just needed the veil lifted from my eyes to see it and the courage to go in.

If "24" took place in 1994

Very amusing, and very well done.

Sometimes kids understand things better than we do

A little boy calls a radio station distraught at the loss of a beloved animal, but has some great wisdom to share.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Better off dead?

An excellent post from Chelsea about the mentality that we should end others' lives to spare them suffering. An excerpt:

I too have been pointed out as someone whose quality of life has been diminished as a result of my injury and have actually been told by another individual that they would kill themselves if they were in my position. I don’t know a single person who would want to trade places with me. But but does that mean that I would be better off dead? And who is this man to decide whose life is a living hell?

Read the whole thing.

Bloglines Top 1,000 Feeds

I don't dare look too closely at this -- I already have too many sites to keep up with!

via ProBlogger

Blog of the Week: Purify Your Bride

I wanted to highlight Purify Your Bride as my next Blog of the Week because it never fails to get me thinking. The author always brings up really interesting topics and manages to address them concisely. His recent posts about miracles and that mysterious human love of truth (and how atheists try to explain it away) are some good examples.

Paying it forward

A very nice post from Antique Mommy.

via BooMama

Leaving comments about your neighbors

Interesting concept for a site. I suppose something like this was inevitable.

Zillow - cool maps of how much houses are worth

I think most people have already heard of Zillow, but I thought I'd pass it on just in case. I had fun checking to see what some old houses we'd lived in were worth.

[Not an ad, just a site I like.]

Getting along with difficult people

I really needed to read this today. Great points.

When they don't come home

Get your kleenex ready for this beautiful, bittersweet post about failed adoptions.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Faith, reason and science

This article makes some great points:

[Richard] Dawkins’ understanding of religious faith as an irrational commitment strikes the Catholic as strange. The First Vatican Council condemned fideism, the doctrine that faith is irrational. It insisted that faith is and must be in harmony with reason. John Paul II developed the same idea in his encyclical on Faith and Reason, and Benedict XVI in his Regensburg academic lecture of September 12, 2006, insisted on the necessary harmony between faith and reason. In that context, he called for a recovery of reason in its full range, offsetting the tendency of modern science to limit reason to the empirically verifiable.

Read the whole thing at First Things.

Fr. Groeschel reminds us that detraction is a mortal sin

Good points.

via Tea at Trianon

A map that shows you where the planets are in the solar system on any given day


Monday, November 12, 2007

Whoa! What a way to get to school!

The kids in this video have to cross a raging river via a steel rope 1,200 feet in the air to go to school. Amazing.

Some pretty cool magic tricks

This guy's good.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oscar Wilde's fascination with the Catholic Church

Long but interesting. I didn't realize until recently that he converted on his deathbed.

How do we fully life our vocations?

Cortney shares some of the difficult situations she faces as a Catholic nurse practitioner, and asks some thought-provoking questions:

How do we "do" our vocations at work? How do we know how far to go, how zealous to be, how counter-cultural (and being Catholic, really Catholic, is certainly counter-cultural) to be? How do we "do" our vocations through blogs or websites or other forms of the written word? How often do we mistake what our vocations are, doing what we like or feel comfortable doing when God is waiting for us to do His will? How do we discern God's will for us?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Appreciating our troops

A nice video.

Blog of the Week: Reflections of a Paralytic

I'm going to start highlighting some of my favorite blogs roughly once a week. For the inaugural post, I want to highlight one of my favorite new-to-me blogs, Reflections of a Paralytic by Chelsea Zimmerman. Chelsea writes of the reason she started her blog:

If you have read my "about me" page, you know that I was paralyzed in a car accident almost 7 years ago. I have always been a pro-life advocate, but recently I have found myself at the forefront of the stem cell research debate in this country as someone who could theoretically benefit from such research. After testifying at a senate judiciary committee hearing in the state of Missouri in favor of a ban on human [cloning] I have made it my goal to research and educate people about stem cell research and human cloning. This blog is dedicated to promoting and building up a culture of life.

Go check out this great blog.

Mathematical fortune-telling

I'll be honest: I didn't read this whole thing. I didn't even read most of it. However, I realize that there are people out there (like my husband, who sent it to me) who find discussions of game theory really interesting, so I'm posting it. :)

Repair shops for broken DNA

A stray bullet rips through the command center, blowing holes in vital equipment and damaging the data archives. Repair teams spring into action. The damage must be patched up quickly or the control systems could go haywire. It's literally a matter of life or death, and a decision must be made: try to fix the damage in place, or move the broken parts to the repair shop.

This is a drama that unfolds every day in the microscopic world inside the cells of astronauts.

Read the rest.

Interesting stats about U.S. presidents

Which presidents fathered children out of wedlock, were related to one another, had adopted children, or were born before the U.S. became a country? Find out those answers and more here.

The current U.S. Poet Laureate on American-style poetry: "It's boring!"

The current U.S. Poet Laureate on American poetry:

[Charles] Simic points out some broader differences between American and European approaches to poetry. "In Europe poetry has always been a literary undertaking, it's really part of literature," Mr. Simic says. "If you write poetry in a serious way you are participating in a very long tradition, over a thousand years . . . they don't have, for example, the tradition of confessional poetry, they never had a Walt Whitman." He adds, "Surrealist poets broke a lot of literary taboos, they were irreverent, but they would never write a poem saying, 'this morning, I drove my kids to school. . .'"

In America, he says, poetry can play the role of a journal, or a record of one's life. And yes, there is a downside to this "raw, direct quality that allows us to write endless, endless poems in our culture." He explains: "One could say, this is all wrong, this is the trouble with American poetry, so much of it is about someone's life, there is a kind of a narcissism, me, me, me, me, me, this is what happened to me, and therefore I'm going to record it, put it down. And we all as readers shout: 'It's trivial! Don't bother! It happens to everyone! It's boring!'"

From The Wall Street Journal.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A woman gives back her adopted daughter

Wow, this is a tough story. What a sad situation. It sounds like the adoptive mother might not have been given reasonable expectations about what the process would be like.

An edgy sex education podcast for teens

Hmm. Interesting idea, but I have mixed feelings about it.

A touching story behind the first 40 Days for Life campaign

Read this email from David Arabie, a pro-life activist, in which he reveals the events that gave him the idea that would play a large part in starting the first ever 40 Days for Life campaign. Here's an excerpt:

My Dad entered the last stages of his long fight with Cancer on Memorial Day weekend '04. He began hallucinating and such. During this time he prayed Rosaries nearly all of his waking hours. Doctors said he would be gone in days. So I stayed with him.

It wound up being months before he passed away. In those months, he was rarely the man I knew as my father. But he said he loved me all the time, several times per conversation. After a couple of weeks he would say, "Let’s pray this rosary to end abortion."

After several rosaries to end abortion in one day, I asked, "Let’s pray this one to heal your cancer, or ease your pain."

He said, "NO! we are praying to end abortion."

He then shared with me a story one evening about my own conception, and its inconvenience. A very long and complicated story made short.

They chose to have it, "taken care of." They went to the Abortion Clinic, he paid the money, and then my mother stood him up for the final appointment.

He didn’t speak to her for weeks, until finally his mother shamed him into marrying my mom.

He said, "Here it is 25 years later, and the baby I wanted to kill is by my side at my deathbed."

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Shark break

Why does everyone think this is so cool? (And why did I just spend five minutes playing around with it?)

Encounters with the fertility police

A mom of a large family shares her thoughts (and some shocking stories) about the comments she gets about having six children. [Note that the article continues at the end, you have to click to get to page two. I missed that at first.]

Grace, because I asked

An elegant post, written by a mom who had stayed up all night with sick children.

via The Wine Dark Sea

How does a brilliant atheist become a theist...and then a Christian?

A very well-done, interesting video about C.S. Lewis. Definitely worth watching.

via From Burke to Kirk

Why are nerds unpopular?

An interesting article about kids and popularity (that Melanie referred me to in the comments to the post on my other site about peer orientation).

Great catechetics website

I'm enjoying reading through this site I just discovered called Catechetics Online, especially their apologetics section.

via Cow Bike Rider

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A brief history of Christmas and Advent

I thought this article was really interesting. For example, I didn't realize that Christmas wasn't widely celebrated in the early church:

Church Fathers such as Augustine didn't include a commemoration of Christ's birth in their lists of holidays at all. Early Christians focused their attention on Easter, the holiest day in the Church's calendar, the solemnity of solemnities....The earliest surviving record of a specific celebration of the Nativity is a sermon by St. Optatus, bishop of Mileve in Africa, from about 383.

The whole thing is worth reading.

Any other language nerds out there?

My husband sent me a Wall Street Journal article about Spain's Basque Country, and I was intrigued by its mysterious native language, Euskera, which is believed to be the oldest in Europe. I did some Googling and found this fascinating info.

The Basque not an Indoeuropean language, and shows no resemblance to languages in neighbouring countries...Owing to some similarities with the Georgian language, some linguists think it could be related to languages from the Caucasus. Others relate the language to non-Arabic languages from the north of Africa. One of the most likely hypotheses argues that the Basque language developed "in situ", in the land of the primitive Basques. That theory is supported by the discovery of some Basque-type skulls in Neolithic sites, which ruled out the thesis of immigration from other areas. Many think it is a very old language because there are words, such as that for axe ("aizkora" or "haizkora") for example, that have the same root as the word rock ("aitz"> or "haitz").

I thought that last sentence was particularly fascinating. (I should have majored in linguistics.)

Monday, November 5, 2007

A beautiful post about adoption

Kristen has a really touching post about adopting after years of infertility.

Find jeans, pants and bras that fit asks you a few of questions about how your pants / jeans / bras usually fit, then recommends a bunch of different items that should be a good fit for you. I can really appreciate this concept. I'm freakishly tall, so I can never, ever (did I emphasize EVER?) find pants that fit. On the plus side, there will be no harm to the hems of my pants if a flood comes through.

[This is not a paid ad, just a cool site I came across.]

UPDATE: Now I'm just depressed. They didn't show anything long enough. I guess I need to find a site that caters to yetis or something.

About those emails with the "praying bunny" animated gifs...

You know those Christian inspiration emails you sometimes get where the well-meaningness is directly proportional to the "logically flawed and doctrinally questionable"-ness? The ones with the animated gifs of kittens and/or bunnies? Yeah, those. Well, unfortunately someone has started tracking them. Doh!

via Toddler Dredge

Death and the materialist worldview

At least from my experience as a former atheist, Red Cardigan nails it:

[The materialist] believes that when he draws his last breath, he will simply cease to be.

And in his most private moments, the materialist is quite likely to be horrified by this thought. He is likely to be aware how much some force within him rejects it, turns in fear from it, weeps unseen tears over it. As tragic as he finds the deaths of those he loves, his own death looms like the greatest tragedy, clouding every bright horizon, drawing gray lines of terror over every future aspect.

Read the whole thing.

Brewers' yeast: proof of a loving God

Sean uses beer to prove God's existence. Who could argue with that? (And his blog was swiftly added to my Bloglines feed when I saw that he has a whole category called The Lost Art of Catholic Drinking.)

via Blog Nerd

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Historical Christian on why she became a Catholic

This is a really beautiful, inspiring and interesting post. A must-read.

Interesting thoughts on the limits of human comprehension of the universe

I thought the first comment to this post on DarwinCatholic was interesting:

[Carl Sagan] laid out a hypothetical world that exists only in two dimensions. The inhabitants of this world were flat pieces of paper moving about on a plane (a tabletop). One day an apple visits this world. Sagan dipped the bumpy bottom of the apple on an inkpad and set it down amid the flatworlders. To them, he said, the apple appears as four, distinct objects where the ink marks the tabletop. Their dimensionality prevents them from seeing the rest of the apple as it truly exists in three dimensions...One could argue that it also shows the weak spot of science if it bows to methodological materialism and only adheres to observations made with the five senses.

Cool idea: NaBloPoMo

I've been wondering what that crazy acronym/word thing stands for, and thanks to Google I found out that it's National Blog Posting Month. If you want to participate in NaBloPoMo you just have to sign up here and then commit to doing one blog post each day for the month of November, and your site will be linked to from the main site. Cool idea.

via Mighty Maggie

Friday, November 2, 2007

Exploding comet currently visible to naked eye


Are the media biased? The debate is officially over.

A joint survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy -- hardly a bastion of conservative orthodoxy -- found that in covering the current presidential race, the media are sympathetic to Democrats and hostile to Republicans.

Read the whole thing.

The life of contemplative nuns

A fascinating video.

via The Wine-Dark Sea

Stories from an abortion clinic protester

Shelray talks about her experience in front of an abortion clinic as part of 40 Days for Life.

The human virus

Some interesting thoughts over at Cosmos - Liturgy - Sex about the mentality that fewer people = better. (It reminds me of Simcha's hilarious posts on the issue, here and here.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A quick and easy way to make your pictures pop with Photoshop

A few people complimented me on the Wordless Wednesday picture over at my other site, so I wanted to share how I did it. First, I used my camera's automatic close-up setting to get a nice, close shot. Then I used this really easy, really cool Photoshop technique (it's the first one listed). Check out the results:



It works even better on people pictures! It's made some of my pictures of my kids go from looking like boring snapshots to professional portraits. I highly recommend trying it. Even if you don't have Photoshop you should be able to duplicate it in other programs.

via Lifehacker