Thursday, December 13, 2007

New vaccine trend: Flu shots no longer optional?

New Jersey has become the first state to require flu vaccines (AP article). The mandate applies only to preschoolers at present. I won't be surprised if this vaccine eventually becomes mandatory not only for preschoolers, but also for all students (primary, secondary, and higher education). Frequently when there's a flu vaccine supply shortage, government officials reserve the vaccines for the very young and elderly. Some doctors believe that these two demographic categories have the most vulnerable immune systems and should be the last candidates for the vaccine.

Most flu vaccines still contain thimerosal (mercury). The vaccines (three rounds) cost parents about $50 per child per year. Free vaccines available to low income households via the federal Vaccines for Children program.

Another vaccine news tidbit: CNN reports that Merck has recalled 1.2 million doses of its meningitis vaccine due to a sterilization problem.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sorry, but I've got to show off...

We had an informal photo shoot with our friends, the Daly family, a few days ago. This was one of our favorite pics of Maddy. I think she's adorable. PBP (Paternal Bias Present) Disclaimer, of course.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Birthday to Our Brothers!

Today, November 22, 2007--the feast of St. Cecilia and the day of Thanksgiving--we give God thanks and glory for his beautiful creations in the life of my brother Matt and in the life of Caleb's brother Micah.
Happy Birthday, Matt. We love you. I am so thankful that God sent you to our family. What would the three of us girls have done without you growing up with us (besides not receiving so many opportunities for embarrassment, meeting "Kansas City"?). We love you. Thank you for being my brother, my Confirmation sponsor, my friend. Thank you for loving us and now loving little Madge. What a lucky girl she is to have you and see you on your birthday! May God bless and guide you from this day forward and may you always know His love. Happy birthday, Buster!
Micah, happy birthday to you! We wish we could bilocate for the day and celebrate with you as well. That would also give you an opportunity to try out your "Boo" technique with Maddy as you did in Hawaii when you learned those fast head movements and whiplashing head turns. We love you. I am grateful to have you as a part of my life now through Caleb. We have so enjoyed our moments with you when you've come to visit, and we hope that those are just the start of many more. May God bless and guide your footsteps in the year ahead, and may you take every opportunity to live life to the fullest with God as your guide.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Witnessing Imitation and Personal Expression as Parents

It's weird as a parent to witness your children grow up. As we see our kids developing and maturing, the interplay between imitation and expression is exquisite.
  • Example of imitation: Maddy had a fear of our blender. (We love our fruit smoothies every morning for breakfast. Bring them on!) In order to overcome this fear, Mary and I would carry out a complex dance ritual to the rhythm of the blender every time we turn it on. Now, every time we turn on the blender, Maddy instinctively dances around and gets excited. Her behavior has been shaped (read "conditioned," "programmed," or whatever you want) through imitation. Much of our kids' behavior stems from imitation.
  • Example of expression: Maddy picked up her signature dance style all on her own. Whenever music comes on, she begins to dance. She lifts and shakes her right leg behind her in the air and bobs up and down on the left leg. She may even switch back and forth between legs. Oooh, I know: intimidating stuff, right? Personal expression is cool to witness as parents because we are able to cast a small glance into the unique personality developing in the child. Mary and I frequently look at each other and quip: Where did she get that? Perhaps we'll never know. (It's fun to blame other family members.)
Anyhow, I had a funny "imitation moment" yesterday evening. Maddy and I were taking a bath together. Like most little kids, initially Maddy was not a fan of getting her hair washed: Who likes water and shampoo flowing over and into their open eyes, nose, and mouth? Nevertheless, she watched how I would pour water over my head to rinse out the shampoo (the tear-free baby-kosher stuff, of course). I pretended to have such a good time of it. After a couple baths she wanted me to pour water over her head, too. I obliged. A couple months have since passed by; she continues to be very good in letting me wash her hair. Yesterday, after I washed my hair, she filled up the bath-bucket with water. She offered it to me and uttered her version of please ("leeeeze"). I poured the bucket of water over her head and, predictably, she bobbed her head sadly a bit as the shampoo ran over her facial orifices. I had to stop and think. Through imitation, Maddy not only does something that's not particularly enjoyable (though necessary, mind you), but she actively initiates it and says please. What a good little girl.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

St. Nick Came Early

Maddy is ready for December 6th; that's why she has no shoes on. They are already outside her door, waiting to be filled.

Hate Crimes and Catholicism

Recently the AP came out with its typical PC version of hate crime statistics. The FBI releases these statistics on an annual basis (the stats from 2005 and 2006). The absolute numbers matter, however, most analysts look at the increase/decrease rates for future trends and changes in public attitudes/behaviors. In such a light, the AP focused its report on the increase of those hate crimes that are racially-biased. Over half of the hate crimes in the U.S. are racially-biased (51.8%), an increase of 7.8%. Another source provides variant interpretations of the data. The increase in anti-black hate crimes was only 0.4% while the increase in anti-white hate crimes was 7.5%!

Anti-religion hate crimes increased by 19%. Yet, the teeming throngs of islamophobic American citizens saw an minimal increase in anti-Muslim crimes of 2%. Meanwhile, anti-Jewish crimes increased by 14% and anti-Catholic crimes increased by 31%. It would appear that we, the tolerant, are less becoming less than tolerable. I guess it's not a huge surprise. The Catholic principles of "turning the other cheek" and forgiveness, coupled perhaps with a timidity of speaking out, undoubtedly reduce the number of reported anti-Catholic hate crimes. We can expect to see these numbers increase in the near future. "If they persecute me, they will persecute you..."

Another interesting tidbit: anti-homosexual crimes up by 22%; anti-heterosexual crimes up by 24%! I won't comment.

Here is Wikipedia's entry on "hate crimes." While I understand why hate crimes have received legal status, I personally question whether they ought to exist as they are. I believe that they're superfluous.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fertility and Health Insurance

Have you ever looked through your health insurance policy manual (that quasi-intelligible, intentionally jargon-laiden, 300 page brick of a book) at the fertility section? Most health plans I have looked at seem to have a definite bias in that section. Instead of helping infertile couples conceive, their services focus on keeping fertile couples childless. In most health insurance plans, those covered end up paying 100% of the cost for any type of infertility treatment. However, there's exceptional coverage for abortions, birth control, contraceptions, hysterectomies, etc. Is it consumer demand in action or a blatant policy bias? I wish I had the answer, but I don't. Either way, it seems really hard to find a good health insurance for infertile couples.

Recently, the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) published medical codes for natural family planning:
  • V25.04: Counseling and instruction in natural family planning to avoid pregnancy;
  • V26.41: Procreative counseling and advice using natural family planning.
I wish this meant Natural Family Planning would be now included in all insurance policies. However, this is a step in the right direction, legitimating NFP as a medical option for infertile couples. It does open a small window of possibilities by providing medical codes for insurance plans. Let's see if any of them choose to provide these services. I also hope that the insurance companies patronize decent NFP counselors.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Catholics and Politics

Any country with a democratically-flavored polity gives its citizens the right to participate in the political process, typically through voting. Without getting into the moral or civic imperative of whether or not to vote (let's all exchange our voting rights for ipods--woohoo), I imagine most people would agree that voting decisions should be based on beliefs and opinions. Religion is (or, at least, should be) a major influence over one's beliefs and opinions. The religion of a political candidate should make a difference. The religion of the voter should make a difference. The frequently-proclaimed divorce between Church and State exists in the public sphere and not in the individual person. As an integral person, it's psychologically unhealthy to split the human identity into public and private halves.

One of the beauties of the Catholic faith has been the consistency with which it has provided foundational moral principles for making sound decisions. I really look forward to the USCCB publication of a document entitled "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility From the Catholic Bishops of the United States". (I think it's great that there seems to be such a consensus on this document among U.S. bishops: the final vote was 221-4.) A shorter version of the 26-page document will be included in all parish bulletins. Stay tuned.

Recently the Bishop of Boston, Bishop O'Malley, explicitly stated that Catholics voting for pro-abortion politicians "border on scandal." Some bloggers and national newspapers find it contradictory that the Catholic Church states that voting for a pro-abortion politician can endanger the voter's eternal salvation. Needless to say, it's doctrinally false and unchristian to decry those in the wrong (anyone voting for a pro-abortion political candidate, anyone living in the state of mortal sin, etc.) of "going to hell". We should leave such judgment to God. I am sure that anyone believing that the Bishop said this misunderstood or twisted the meaning of his words. It's wonderful that the Catholic Church continues to clearly define the Catholic voter's duty and responsibility. There should be no room in the Catholic voter's mind when it comes to issues of life.

I also like the fact that Bishop O'Malley took umbrage with the Republican stance on various issues (immigration policy, capital punishment, economic issues, and the war in Iraq). Our primary duty as a voter is to our conscience, not to a political party. It's increasing difficult for me to identify with either political party. (I put myself in the independent political camp.) We should vote by issues, not by platforms. However, despite Bishop O'Malley's disagreement with the Republican party on the above-mentioned issues, he claims that abortion is a more important guide for Catholic voters.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Note to Self:


Check the 2 gallon soap re-filler when things are lost in the house. A little 3-foot midget may have deposited something(s) there. (Over these last couple of weeks, we have been wondering where Maddy's plastic ware has been. Last night I found it when I went to fill up the bathroom soap with our big soap re-filler, which was under the kitchen sink--a spot adjacent to "Maddy's Kitchen Cabinet" where she sits and sorts her plastic dishes. I was astounded to find all of her utensils, which she loves to use at every meal, carefully and successfully dropped into the spout of the liquid soap container. At least they'll be spick-n-span.)

"Get Kids Vaccinated or Else"

My sister-in-law, Jenny, recently forwarded to me an interesting article from the Washington Post, Get Kids Vaccinated or Else, Parents Told. The article details the threat of legal action that a Maryland county may take against parents (of more than 2,300 kids) who have failed to "meet the state's immunization requirements." Maryland's state immunization requirements are laid out in Maryland Code/Education/Title 7. Public Schools/Subtitle 4. Health and Safety of Students/§7-403. §7-403 serves as a legal foundation for Title 10. Department of Health and Mental Hygiene/Subtitle 6. Diseases/Chapter 4. School Health Services and Required Immunizations before Entry into School, or more simply COMAR 10-06-04. As you may have noticed by now if you looked at these documents, any attempt at understanding state immunization requirements means a foray into legalese, obviously intended for all of us non-lawyers. (Please note sarcasm: reference annotation 1.239.b. Article12.) It actually isn't all that bad once you can find the pertinent documents online. Most states publish a list of "required" vaccines, following individualized or CDC-recommended immunization schedules.

What happens if you don't want you kid to be immunized? We, as parents, have the right to look out for what we believe is in our children's best interest, do we not? We should cede that right to the state only if we want to (or are forced to, as in extreme circumstances). I have no problem with the state recommending immunizations. Requiring them is a different story. It's like the policy of having to opt out of donating your organs (proposed now in the UK and already a common practice in many countries) rather the current state in the U.S. of having to opt in. It becomes a real bear of a task for parents to choose conscientiously to opt out of immunizations. Anyone opting out has to fill out an exemption waiver, according to the particular state's policy. Most states allow immunization exemption for religious reasons (Maryland included) and for reasons of medical contraindication. What about those of us who object to immunizations on conscientious, philosophical, medical, or statistical grounds? Nope. Sorry. Only religious reasons will work in most states. I suppose conscientious reasoning can flow into one's personal, religious reasoning. It's a bit of stretch, though perhaps a necessary one at times. In principle, however, immunizations in the U.S. lack a strong philosophical underpinning.

Personally, it doesn't bother me whether you are for vaccines or against them. What does bother me is when public or private institutions implicitly assume through legal protocols that they can usurp parenting decisions anytime they're acting for the public good. (Public agencies always seem to work for the public good, right?) Pro-abortion feminists love to tout, "my body, my choice." Why can't we use that same mantra for opting out of immunizations? Shouldn't individuals, or their legal/biological guardians, be able to formulate choices for their own bodies?

(Mary can probably provide more links: the internet is full of information for the brave and curious.)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Our First Fire


The cold outside last week urged us onwards to go get our first load of firewood: that we did. With coats on, the three of us headed out to gather a load of logs and rush back to crinkle balls of paper and stash them beneath a few splintered pieces of wood and set it ablaze. Our first fire was lit last week, and it was another "first" for Maddy, as this is her first winter since she entered the world almost sixteen months ago. As we watched the wood pop, crack, and make hushing sounds, little Madster sat in awe and gazed upon a peaceful fire in her warm and peaceful home.

Tent Time

Last week we were finishing up dinner and down Maddy went from her highchair to begin playing while we finished up dinner. Soon after she got up, we were all up and down, playing "Tent" and "Tunnel" in our living room. Caleb spread out a blanket across the hope chest and couch, and there was our cozy cubby hole. Such simple things in life can be the most fun, plus they can double as good ab workouts.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Co-Sleeping

The possibility of co-sleeping is one of the many benefits that a king-sized bed provides. Mary and I decided to give co-sleeping a try when we first had Maddy. It seems to be conducive to breastfeeding mothers and provides an array of other perks (see below for an example). The attachment parenting crowds advocate the practice. Even the NYTimes recently ran an article on co-sleeping. Part of me would love to see the practice increase in the U.S. and around the world. Part of me doesn't want it to become mainstream because I make it a habit and goal to avoid the mainstream. (If you feel like reading a myriad articles on the pros and cons of co-sleeping, you can google it to your heart's content.)

This morning I got an extra special dose of co-sleeping love. I normally start my day at 5:15am. Given such an early rise, I don't see Mary or Maddy until I return home from work in the afternoon. Every now and again one of them will be up to kiss me good-bye. Around 5am I felt something moving next to me. I opened my eyes to discover that Maddy had wrapped her little arms around my neck and had laid her head on my face. The sweet scent of baby shampoo still lingered in her hair from last night's bath. She lie next to me for a few minutes, resting her face on mine. She then climbed up on my chest and rested up there for a few minutes. The alarm clock hearkened the harsh reality of having to leave such a surreal reverie. I would never enjoy such moments if she were in her crib. Thank God for co-sleeping. These experiences leave an indelible mark on the heart of a dad; they create memories that will last a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My Dad

Here are a few photos of my dad when he came to visit us a few weeks ago. It's hard to describe in words how much my dad means to me. He was my best man for our wedding and has been my best friend throughout my entire life.



I sometimes rib my dad about staying in such good physical shape. He exercises physically with the same constancy and intensity that the prays: every day, never missing a beat. There was one funny occasion when we were having a webcam-dialogue (webcamalogue? I don't know!) with my dad. He kept the webcam on as he started to exercise. Mary, Maddy and I started doing the same exercises in our living room. Though some 600 miles separated us, we were united through our sit-ups and jumping-jacks. Upon asking my dad why he exercised so frequently, he responded that he wanted to stay in good shape to be around for his grandkids. Now, how great is that? I never had the opportunity of knowing either of my grandfathers. Both my parents had lost their fathers by my age. I am ecstatic that Maddy will have the opportunity of spending time with her grandfather. He goes by many names; the most common are Grandpa Tiej, Beeba, PapĂ , and Little Mickey. I can't say enough good things about my dad. The only problem is that he has set the bars of fatherhood and husbandhood so high that I already have my life's work cut out for me. The way that he interacts with Maddy brings tears to my eyes. He has an aura of sanctity and peace. She sits in his arms with that same peace and security. I love you, Dad. One day I hope to be the man you are.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Man-a Lisa Pumpkin Pictures

"Man-a Lisa" Pumpkin


It's Maddy's 3rd Pumpkin Carving (2 outside the womb, and 1 in). We had a great time on Sunday as we watched Caleb carve our plump pumpkin. Afterwards he told me the story behind the mouth: if you look at it and see on the left side (facing it) it appears to be smiling, but if you look at its other half, the right side appears to be frowning. He is our "Man-a Lisa" Pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Little Pro-Baby Girl


A couple of days ago Maddy and I headed out to support the 40 Days for Life Campaign by meeting a friend and her baby boy at a nearby abortion clinic, where we walked along the side walk in front of the abortion mill, with other prayerful pro-lifers outside. I brought a sign, and Maddy practiced holding it before we left. But really, I didn't need one. I had a beautiful witness to the beauty, sacredness, simplicity, and laughter of life in my arms: all 20+ pounds of her. Cars passed and honked quite frequently. Maddy just stayed there, complacent in my arms, and waved back. She'll be making friends with passers-by for the months to come as we make our way back on a monthly basis. Who knows what future friends she is helping save by just being.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lou! 10.28.07


Happy Birthday, Louise. We are thankful to God for your life. You were born in a year that has been etched in American history. We thank Mom and Dad for welcoming life right off in their marriage, and for giving life to you, my oldest (and shortest) sister. You are my sister and our friend. We love you and pray that your angel may watch over you and guide your footsteps in this journey called life. Thanks to God for yours. Much love from us.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Homonym or Homophone? Or, Neither?



Today, soon after Maddy woke up from her nap I asked her, "Would you like a snack?" She responded with an action: she started to snap. I think we will begin the homonym and homophone lesson tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2007

One Way to Measure a Leaf

The Stumpies


On Saturday afternoon we headed out for an excursion along the Occoquan river. Occoquan Regional Park is a beautiful Fall wonderland and the leaves are changing into beautiful burnt oranges, roasting reds, and beaming yellows. While there at the river walk, we also found our namesake.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

10.10.07


I am so thankful for my life. I have so much to be thankful for, so much that some will never experience, and in response to what I have been given I say, "Thank you" to God, my little family of Madge and Caleb, my parents for giving me life, my siblings for being with me from childhood until now (and again to my parents for giving me siblings), and my new family through marriage, and to such dear friends. How blessed I am. With each passing day and each passing year, I realize how blessed I am and how I should share my joys with others and show them how much I appreciate them and how much they are loved. I had a wonderful birthday on the 10th. Caleb had given me the wonderful gift of taking off the day of my birthday, the day after, and then he had that Friday off for his flex day. So, I thought, we would have some really special time as a family. I was right on the part of having special time, but there were a few others besides the three of us. On Tuesday evening, Maddy and I had stuck close to home and done a few things around here. Caleb was due back at around 7pm. Because I hadn't gone out for errands, the car was in its spot throughout the day, until I headed out around 5pm to take out trash. A few minutes before Maddy and I headed out to drop the trash in the dumpster, Maddy stood at our bedroom window and looked out saying, "Da-Da." I told her, "No, Daddy doesn't come home for a couple more hours. Then we headed outside, only to find that our car was gone. I had seen it all day sitting there, so I thought "Oh great, it's been stolen." I called Caleb immediately at work. No Answer. Then I tried his cell phone, which he answered and said that he was running errands. He had taken the early shuttle home to surprise me and picked up the car. So here Maddy really had seen Caleb out the window. Within 45 minutes, Caleb was home and I was preparing dinner. He asked if I wanted to make a bit more chicken, because he had plans for the next day. I told him I could make it later, since it was no big deal to defrost it and bake some more. Little did I know he was trying to subtly say: "Please make more. We're having company in 15 minutes." Sure enough, there was a knock at the door the eve of my birthday, and it was Caleb's day and his little sister and brother. They had driven 10 hours just to surprise me on my birthday. I was stunned, surprised, so happy. I was so touched. His little sister and Dad had to leave the day after my birthday, but Joe would stick around for a week. I got some great gifts, but they visit was amazing. That night Caleb's Dad surprised me with a crockpot (something I've been wanting to get) and brought handpicked apples so that he could make his special "Beeba Applesauce." So there he was at 9:30pm, peeling apples and starting the aromatic apple blend that would creep through our house throughout the night. The next morning I woke up to my sweet baby girl holding my face and kissing me. We went to 9am Mass and then headed down to Occoquan to this little park on the river where I opened my presents and ate homemade cupcakes. Afterwards we walked to my favorite shop in Occoquan, came home and prepared the lasagna for dinner, and then got changed to play Aussie tennis --Caleb, his Dad, and I--while Mary and Joe watched Maddy play at her favorite little park. I had a wonderful day filled with calls from family and notes from friends, cards, presents, and surrounded by the love of others. Thank you, everyone. I had a super day.

Maddy's 1st


At this point in Maddy's life: 15 months after her birth, we are still counting all of the "firsts." One of these is the fact that she is just feeling what Fall weather and seasonal changes are all about. Having been born in Beijing in the peak of summer, visited family in the Midwest in the scorcher month of August, and returned to Honolulu for the rest of her babyhood time, and then having moved to the mainland in summer, she has never felt cooler weather, i.e. anything below 70 degrees. So, here we are in Fall. She sported a jacket the other day at the soccer field and romped around with Dad and Uncle Joe. She also is enjoying her pumpkin. Welcome Fall. It is Maddy's 1st, and she is enjoying it. So are we.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Got Smoothie?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Being Childlike is so Freeing and Fun

Today on St. Therese's feast day, we will pray to God for the grace to be childlike, not childish; appreciate the gift of life and the fact that we are upon this earth (where, sometimes, the most trivial things can be made to be the greatest burdens in the world if St. Therese's Little Way is not taken into considertation); learn to better understand and grow in our spiritual lives by imitating a child's trust, vulnerability, self-less love, and innocent curiosity in truth. Life is amazing and beautiful; it is a blessing when you can sit back and let a baby teach you how to be real. St. Therese, pray for us.

Remember, Pray, Take Action


Remember that today is the Pro-Life Memorial for the 48 million unborn babies, who have been murdered by abortion since Roe vs. Wade in 1973. There are so many events that are taking place throughout this month of October, and today, October 1st, is the Supreme Court's first day in-session. Please pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten their minds and strengthen their wills to make truly wise decisions. We were all little people, helpless and voiceless inside our Moms at one time.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Madeleines


Today Maddy and I were at St. Vinny's, where we found a shell-scallop baking tray, perfect for making Rosewater Madeleines. We are chilling the dough right now and will soon place the cookie batter into the tray and anxiously await Maddy's namesake cookies to be eaten. Mmm. Maybe we we can put Starbuck's out of business in the Madeleine cookies department after we make our first batch.

Dad, can I come to work with you?

The last couple of days, Maddy has tried to come to work with me. You'd probably call me crazy for refusing the request of someone this cute. I normally wake up at 5:15am. By now I am accustomed to the early mornings...well, as accustomed as one can be to such ungodly hours. The difficulty is getting ready without waking up the little girl. For the most part I don't have any problems. I brew some joe in the kitchen, do some exercises in the living room, and then get ready in the bathroom. I do all of this behind closed doors with the minimum amount of light.

Maybe it's because Maddy has had an unusually early bed time the last two days. Maybe it's because she has been welcoming new teeth. Maybe it's just because she loves her dad. Whatever the reason why, Maddy has been waking up with me the last two days. Yesterday, I awoke to her sitting on my head in bed. It may not sound like a great experience. But when it's your cute daughter, somehow you mind less and the act itself becomes cute. Anyhow. Today I was shaving in the bathroom and I heard her knocking on the door. There she was. I scooped her up in my arms. She was all snuggles and warmth: so wonderful to hold and hug. The best part about a breastfeeding baby is that you don't have to worry about morning breath. So even her breath was adorable. (Maybe I am just being partial as her dad. I suppose that's a possibility, too.)

It was nice to see her before I headed off to work. I just hope that she fell back asleep. Otherwise, poor Mary will have a fussy one on her hands today! She was upset that I wouldn't take her to work with me. I laugh silently to myself as I think about trying to work in my office with her roaming about: no doubt she would be pointing at everything and gibbering about all the good things in life. I left her to Mary's care and hobbled off to work.

Late last week Mary and Maddy came to visit me at work. Maddy loved all the open spaces around the DC Mall. She enjoyed the monuments and the people. Here she is, posing in front of the Jefferson Memorial. It is one of our family favorites. Mary and I would frequently go for jogs around the memorial. It's an especially beautiful area when the cherry blossoms bloom: we look forward to the springtime for that. In the meantime I am sure that we will enjoy the other seasons. After two years in Hawaii, I think that we are ready to see some seasonal variation.

Monday, September 24, 2007

From Here to Eternity

The other night Caleb and I sat down with our big mugs of hot tea and enjoyed Pan's Labyrinth. It was very good, we thought. It was thought-provoking, beautifully filmed, and a "no-wonder" why it has been nominated for 3 Academy Awards. After watching the film we started talking about a topic that we discussed several weeks ago: being in tune with God and hearing His voice. The movie has so many thought-provoking ideas about humanity and eternity, and that of being in tune with the next life by being open to and listening to God's voice now. There have been many times when I have fallen short in my prayer life; it is at those times that I am hardly aware of God's many wonders--simple and complex, because I am not in the right plane. Sometimes I find myself close to drifting into a less spiritually-inclined wavelength that the world so easily sucks us into. Its moments like those that I am thankful to be reminded by God of where I need to travel in order to reach Him, hear Him, listen to Him. To be open to God's voice in the little and big things is analogous of hearing a lion's roar, like we did at the zoo several weeks ago. The other week we were walking through the zoo and heard the lion "Roarrrr!" It was low, clear, audible, but one had to be listening for it. If I had been walking through the zoo absorbed in conversation or the sites around me, I would not have noticed the lion's deep whisper. His voice scared me when I thought,"What if I were roaming through the jungle and came upon such a confident creature? I would be completely surprised, because I would not intune with that plane on which his audible tone could be heard." Then, I began thinking how many times I am like that with God. When I am open to His will, voice, and signs, I listen to Him, and hear. He is always there, but I cannot always hear Him because I am not on the same wavelength. In Pan's Labyrinth these thoughts were evoked once more as I watched Ofelia enter another world: a world that exists, but that which not everyone can see, because not everyone desires to be a part of it. These thoughts took me to another plane: eternity. Eternity: it seems so far off, and yet it is so present. It is our final resting spot with our Creator. It is the place we are all meant to return. We are here on this earth for fleeting moments. We are sojourners, who are constantly being spoken to by God, but how often do we listen to Him, let alone hear Him? Wavelengths, planes: they stretch from here to eternity.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How Old Are You?



This is fun..

Are you really your age, younger, or old(er)? Hmm, let's see!

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm 14 months today!


I love my peaceful life.

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Boy


Nicholas, you are 3 now. Where have three years gone? I remember the day Mommy told me that she was expecting you. I was on cloud 9 the moment I heard I was going to be your auntie and godmother. I love you. We love you, Beautiful Boy.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Is it possible


...for the Easter Bunny to arrive in September?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Beauty, Simplicity, Love, Faithfulness


Recently it seems that wherever I look everything is "pro" woman. There is so much hoop-lah about moms working outside the home and trying to mother their children simultaneously and being "able" to do it all. Sounds fishy. Anybody knows that when a person is throwing oneself into a job, task, daily duty, some other thing suffers. Cause and effect... Unfortunately, the "thing" here is really a person. Kids: they are the ones who end up suffering while the media keeps throwing out the mantra that women can do it all. Women are everything. Women. Woman. Whoa-man.

Yesterday I noticed that on the TODAY show there is a whole new hour added to the show. It seemed a bit over the top. Three women were the hosts and the show was a whole lot of loving yourself. That would be fine if everyone was loving himself...err...herself, with the knowledge that each is designed by God in His image and likeness. But, such is not the case. It is all of this looking to self for some fantastic ideas, inner strength, love, etc. But, how can one get all of this from within when it is not given to or desired to be received from Another? On this note, a very beautiful and humble woman is in my mind.* She is the Mom of an amazing son who is always giving again and again, and he never counts the cost. He loves guys and girls and doesn't place one sex over the other, because he is aware of their uniqueness. He doesn't pretend that men are the same as women, because he never intended them to be. He likes different and that's what he made them: different from one another. Thanks, Jesus. Thanks for being in charge. Thanks for your beautiful Mom, who was so humble. She could have been flashy and saying how she balanced being the mother of Royalty while running a household and always being so social with your many friends, but she was not flashy. She was faithful to her vocation and prioritized her life beautifully. May each of us learn well from her, and may all women embrace the beautiful gifts that they are given instead of finding ways to "deal" with them.
*I was reading True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis De Montfort when I began comparing how Mary's humility stuck out so beautifully in contrast with the whole "over-worked woman mentality" that is out these days and filled with a lot of misguidance and yucky pride.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

When We Get Lonely for Waikiki...


we use ironing boards for surfing.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Please Pray


Please pray for Lili and Kate. They are very ill with the sickness gastroenteritis, which they contracted from a friend. Fr. Joe, heaven's new saint, please hear our prayers and intercede for them, through Christ our Lord, amen.

Our Date


It's not often that Caleb and I will go out by ourselves, without Maddy, and that is fine. But it is also fine, enjoyable and a little strange to be alone, just the two of us on a "date." That is what we did last night while our good friends watched Maddy for a few hours. I kind of went numb when our friends offered, because I thought: "What should we do?" Should we clean something up at home? Organize? Go to a movie? Grab a bite to eat? Go for a walk? Make a holy hour? The ideas were coming right and left, and finally we settled on-- due to time and driving distance-- dinner and a walk through various shops. It was enjoyable. I felt like we were dating again as we walked into Express for Men. We weren't buying anything, we were just looking, like the other couple of "daters" in the shop. We talked, and talked, and did a bit more of the former and latter. The time together wasn't a day, it wasn't a week, it was just enough to enjoy and to give more thanks to God for the gift of our marriage. We were both ready to get back to Maddy--the gift of our mutual love. How beautiful it is to have this special little girl-- a little bit of me and a little bit of Caleb--who gives us a lot of love always. It is a delight to have special time together, but it is wonderful to be a threesome when we come back together as a family. When we got home last night and walked in the door, all three of us eventually made our way to our bedroom where we tickled Maddy, who giggled hysterically and reminded us just how happy we are to be married, to have one another, and to be a family.