Friday, April 30, 2010

Article: "Organic, Local and Slow" Won't Work

In his recent article "Attention Whole Foods Shoppers," Robert Paarlberg (whom I have heard speak various times) makes some great points:
Helping the world's poor feed themselves is no longer the rallying cry it once was. Food may be today's cause célèbre, but in the pampered West, that means trendy causes like making food "sustainable" -- in other words, organic, local, and slow.
Influential food writers, advocates, and celebrity restaurant owners are repeating the mantra that "sustainable food" in the future must be organic, local, and slow. But guess what: Rural Africa already has such a system, and it doesn't work.
I totally endorse a healthy diet with as much raw, unprocessed, and natural foods as possible. Nevertheless, desires of achieving/imposing such a model ("organic, local and slow") around the world are misplaced and untenable.

A Shout-Out to Mom and Dad--Congratulations on 32 Years of Marriage!

Dear Mom and Dad,

Happy Anniversary! Can you believe that already 32 years have passed since you walked down the aisle together? Your marriage relationship serves as an example, undoubtedly, for so many people. With divorce statistics the way they are and with rampant unhappiness, young couples more than ever appreciate the example that you set of holiness, love, surrender, service, happiness and humor.
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We love you, Mom and Dad. Happy Anniversary!
Your Son

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Northern Virginia Can Serve as Immigration Precedent

An article today from a local newspaper makes the case that parts of Northern Virginia, and our county, Prince William County, in particular adopted a measure very similar to Arizona's in the fall of 2007. The result?
Since then over 2,000 suspected illegal immigrants have been turned over to the federal government [hopefully, for deportation], and crime last year reached a 15-year low.
Not too shabby.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thank you

To my little family,
Thank you for your love, surprises, and the moments that we are together. There is so much to learn on a daily basis in better knowing and trusting God in parenting, in loving, being faithful in the little things, and just taking up the little crosses that come with our journey toward heaven. Without the Veronicas and Simons in each of you, how could this be done alone? I loved the other day when I saw the three of you coming back from the store as I was preparing Friday night's dinner for our friends who blessed our evening with their company. Madge was coming quickly up the stairs to surprise me with roses. I love them! But more than the roses, the best gift was that I was thought of at the store and you marked that thought with such a special gift.
Being a wife and mom is truly a gift. I celebrate that gift of life-giving love today, St. Gianna's feast day. What a privilege it is to be a woman and to be granted the privilege and great responsibility of parenting God's little ones. I need His help every day to journey forward to be patient, loving, and most of all selfless. I thank my little family for their little ways of showing me how to love and give in the smallest and biggest of ways.
This past Sunday was one of those days to just drink in the blessings of family life after we came home from Mass. The girls romped with Caleb, and Pita played her game with Dad: he pretends to sleep and Pita (or Maddy) comes up and kisses him, waking him up. Wa-la! I am glad I am alive. Thank you to my parents for saying "yes" to life and not counting the costs along the way. St. Gianna, pray for us, that we too would be worthy of the promises of Christ.

To celebrate this day, the girls and I packed up a small lunch after we arrived back from today's last lesson with WWP. The sun was shining, the breeze was swaying (great for our bubble-blowing!), and Peach was ready to throw around the ball. We had a great picnic in between Pita getting up and eating on the go, blowing big breaths through an empty bubble wand, all of us playing hide-and-seek, Maddy climbing the jungle gym, Peach pouncing in mud, and Madge run up and down, up and down, UP and DOWN the hill. Pita, I love how you kept an eye on Maddy's "hiding" spot while I did the counting. We were sure to find her in no time... and we did! You and I hid behind a little bush, while Maddy perseveringly looked through the park for us. You stepped out from behind the bush and were in clear view, but as soon as Maddy saw you and ran towards us, you ducked behind the bush again. Peach, you make me laugh! We came home to enjoy clean hands, shoes off, barefoot toes, and books before nap. Now, you, my girls, are fast asleep after I sat with you and bounced you... one of my favorite parts of our day as you snuggle up to get cosy. I love you both. We will look forward to Daddy's arrival home before we all head back out for a family walk, a picnic in another park, and back home for showers and bed for the girls before I head out to celebrate more with some other moms on this feast of St. Gianna's. I'm glad I am alive...

Psychology Quote of the Day

A therapist says the greatest challenge she has with her clients is not helping them with their problems, but helping them to get over the belief that they shouldn't be having the problem.

My comment: The lens of Christianity allows us to perceive and understand suffering in a way that the unbeliever cannot.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


This past Sunday after Mass, we sat down at the kitchen table for play-doh time. It was a nice moment of family leisure. A good reminder to slow down some times for structured play. We had a wonderful time! All too often I find myself exhorting the girls to hurry up or to be aware that we have only five more minutes before heading off to the next activity. This was one of those moments where we just all were hanging out and playing play-doh as a family. Such a simple but memorable moment.


A bold new book, The Excellent Powder: DDT's Political and Scientific History, reinitiates the public debate on DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). Quick book synopsis here: Is it contentious? You bet. But it reminds me of the quote (I forget the source) and I paraphrase: Even if all the world's experts agree on something, that doesn't make the claim right or true.

This echoes one of my favorite books, The Skeptical Environmentalist, which bases all conclusions and policy recommendations on hard statistics. (This is the book that shows, among other things, that recycling is not economically viable.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Maddy Gets Her First Haircut

Madge and Surprises

Typically, people either like to be surprised or they do not like to be surprised. Mary loves surprises. I, well, not so much. Perhaps I'm too control-oriented, wanting to know what the next minute will hold. Either way, it's good to know people's surprise preferences, particularly close those of family members and of close friends.

Anyhow, I woke up early Saturday morning to go for a run. I left the house while all the girls were still asleep. When Madge woke up, she forgot it was Saturday and assumed that I had gone to work for the day. (I normally leave for work early in the mornings and hence never see the girls before I leave for the day.) I showed up at home at 7:30am, sweating and happy. Madge was so happy to see me. "You surprised me, Dad. I thought you were at work!" It was a joyful moment of reunion.

Later that weekend, we were at the park. Madge was sitting on my lap on the swings, as we were spider-swinging. We were looking into one another's eyes, as her little face was just a foot or so from my own. As we were talking, I asked her whether she liked surprises. Her thoughtful response surprised me: "Dad, I like it when I get birthday gift surprises for my birthday. But, I don't like to be surprised when you're staying home. I want to know what's going on."

Madge, I completely understand. Thanks for revealing more of yourself and your little preferences. Neat that you're forming your own personality. Madge seems to get the surprise picture already. Earlier in the weekend, she picked out a bunch of roses at the store so we could surprise Mom. Mares does love surprises.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad, and Happy Earth Day

Happy Birthday, Papá! We rejoice with you and the rest of our family and friends to celebrate your birth, to celebrate your life, to celebrate the many ways God has used you as an instrument in the lives of all those around you. I consider myself truly blessed to have you as my father, my mentor, my best friend, my best man, grandfather and godfather to my children. Since I know you, I never will have to wonder what it's like to live in the midst a saint.

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We've had so many wonderful times together over the course of my life and, in particular, over the last year. With each passing year I can say that my appreciation for you only grows more. I hope that you have a wonderful birthday, full of blessings, love, and good food. (He, he, he.)

My dad's one weakness, however, ties us to the other festivity celebrated in the green sphere: Earth Day. My dad loves to recycle. I like to joke with him that he'll be buried in a recycled coffin, with overdue library books scattered around him (the plight of every dad whose children frequent the library), and flower bouquets in crock pots (another of his passions). But seriously, he loves to recycle. So, it is apropos that Earth Day coincide with his birthday. I always give him a hard time about recycling, since I am a hardcore believer in not recycling. So, we make a good combo. (In one of our games, I remove items from the recycling bin to the trash bin to see if he'll find it and put it back.) He's ever a good sport about it and I have no doubt that he'll one day see the light.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Dad! And, Happy Earth Day.

Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church Homosexuality

I came upon this article that addresses in depth a number of salient aspects concerning homosexuality and the current sexual abuse "crisis" in the Catholic Church. While both sides of the discussion will continue to combat each other with opposing theories and concepts, statistics don't lie. It's nice to see some hard statistics on the issue. (I have to plead guilty to a proclivity for numbers and statistics.) I am not very knowledgeable on these issues, so I am not sure whether there are just as many statistics and peer-reviewed articles out there that advocate the other side. Either way, it's a good read.

Caveat: given the nature of the article, it may not suitable for all.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rainy Day and Baking

... We are supposed to get some rain showers for the rest of the day, into the night and for a good portion of the weekend. We landed ourselves a nice spot inside: drawing, cleaning, baking granola bars! It is beautiful outside with the leaves a bright green. Ahh, April showers bringing those May flowers. Loving this Spring weather!

Our Weekend

We had a really enjoyable end of the week and weekend, with a Friday night of popcorn in our special popcorn containers and a little bit of Monsters Inc. before bed. Saturday morning we woke up early to enjoy Dad's delicious omelettes before heading out for a walk to Historic Occoquan where we stopped at Mom's Apple Pie Bakery. we enjoyed some yummy pastries and a hot cinnamon roll on the porch of the bakery before we headed off to the boat dock to feed the ducks and geese. The sun was shining so beautifully with the crisp air chilling the air and the Spring blossoms lining the cobblestone pathways. A site to take in. After our trek to Occoquan we came home to quickly pack up in the car and head out for a few errands and a fun trip to the library to gather a bunch of Elisa Kleven's books, which the girls really are enjoying. Naps followed our errands, and the girls woke up in perfect time to head out to our friends' home up in Hamilton for Justus' 1st birthday party! As a surprise to Maddy on the way to the party we stopped at a house in Herndon to pick up a Craigslist sale.... a $5 bike! Madge was awed and ready to ride the next morning! We had a beautiful day out in Hamilton and headed back our way around 5pm before getting some Chinese food for a family date. Lovely day. Thank you to the foursome that made this day so beautiful. I love you all! Sunday was enjoyable too, but the weather was quite a change... Madge was sporting her "winter" tights to 8:30am Mass. :) After Mass and a little treat excursion, we headed to the city where we planned to visit the National Gallery of Art. Maddy had been learning about Monet, and I have been wanting to get to the city to see some of his paintings. We did it! We also got to see some of Renoire's, Degas', and Picasso's. Later in the day we enjoyed another family walk to a park nearby where we met Maddy's friends. We also had a nice time just watching the girls play outside and Maddy riding her NEW bike! You have learned so quickly, Madge, how to break and ride like a champ. We are proud of you and enjoying these special milestones with you. Pita, you are having a blast pushing your babies in the stroller. Soon, your trike will be following Maddy's bike path. We love you both.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sweet Times

To my girls,
What fun we have during the day, each day a gift. Whether the outdoors be gloomy or sunny, my days with you are filled with joys. I sat on the couch the other morning, coffee in one hand and book in another as I read to you, Peach, and I just watched you and grew in gratitude. I am so thankful for these moments with you. They are passing every day, and I see the times flittering by, and yet, I am with you all the time. How much I would miss if we were apart, and how sad I would be to know that I let those special moments go. But, I am so thankful for Daddy's hard work and our desire to grow stronger as a family and build up our best treasures here at home-- raising you! I love our tea moments and watching you two girlies enjoy your peach tea in Gram Dolan's pot. I love when you ask, "Mom, can I have tea in Gram Dolan's tea cup?" I know she must be enjoying her great-grand girlies drinking from her tea set. (Eternal rest grant unto Gram, whose birthday was yesterday, April 16). I love the times of watching you show us ballet steps, Madge. How could I forget the other night when you and Dad twirled in the living room? Memorable. Peach, you love keys. You are in a key-phase right now and absolutely love to open doors and just play at the front door for long periods of time before running to me to show me that you got the key in its hole! Pita, how can I forget to mention your awesome hugs? You say during the night, "Mama? Ma-ma?" And then I lay beside you and you wrap your little willowy arms around my neck and we snuggle into the night. You, girls, are my gems. How blessed I am to have you both, and truly it is a joy to watch you both grow into the girls God wants you to be. You are His, but boy are we enjoying these times in getting to know His treasures and lead you along the way. (I think, though, that it is you that do much of the leading. What a gift babies are!)

We're Waiting for You, Handsome Boy

Dear Little #3,
I had to write a post to you just to let you know how reassured you make me feel with your MANY movements. You are almost 27 weeks now, and boy, oh, BOY! you love to move. I laid in bed early this morning, before the sun rose, and just felt you kick, maybe toss around in there (space is getting tighter;) and had to have Dad feel your movements. We cannot wait to meet you. I cannot believe that we are more than half-way there. We even sent in the registration for the hospital the other day. The glucose test is your next appointment, and soon enough we will be holding you in our arms. Little boy, you have a little family just anxiously awaiting your arrival. Your sisters picked out presents the other day for you. They were so excited to find two little toys for you. Another friend, Laura, just gave me a monogrammed nursing cover, a beautiful blue, to use with you. What exciting times...and blue is my favorite color! We love you, sweet boy. Stay safe inside. I love having you here below my heart. You make me so happy and give me so many reasons to go on and attempt to do a better job each day. We love you, Your family

The Joys of Spring

The other day the girls and I went outside to enjoy the beauties of spring: planting flowers, playing hopscotch in the sunshine, soaking up the sun, and more. Here are a few picture thoughts from that delightful afternoon together.
Hearty plants and flowers
One sweet gardener
Fun shoes

Hopscotch fun
A good helper
Silly face!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Loquacious Non Sequiturs

Our Guadalupe always has so much to say. She has the cutest little mouth and little voice. She even has cute breath--at least at this point. She is ever the chatterbox and becomes quite involved whenever she is telling a story--facial expressions, hand motions, the works! Whenever Maddy tells us something, rest assured that Pita will be by only a moment later to give her version of the story. The only problem is that Pita doesn't yet use words--apart from her basic 10-20 words that we can understand. Everything she says is in 1-year old mumble speak.

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So, as she banters away, Mares and I look at one another with smiles. It gives us so much pleasure and joy to see her carry on the way she does. Obviously, we'll look forward to understanding her more as she builds her vocabulary. What a ham!

One of her favorite things to do is repeat back to us a "no-no" moment: i.e. a moment when she or someone else around her has been reprimanded. She'll come to us and start wagging the index finger of her right hand and shaking her head as she tells us that she is not supposed to hit or whatever else. She will put on a furrowed brow and pinches her lips into a pucker to drive the message home. It's hilarious to watch but she is communicating with us in all earnestness! For that reason, we take her seriously and repeat the message once again: "Yes, Pita, we don't do that, do we?" She's a funny little girl.

We love you, Peach! Thanks for bringing so much joy to our lives. Keep working on those conversation skills, and, importantly, on being yourself.

Princess the Guestess

I can't recall whether we've blogged before about reading the book "365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children Learn Etiquette"as a family at dinner. Anyhow, we've really enjoyed it. It has sparked a number of interesting dinner-time conversations with Madge. Host unlimited photos at for FREE! Anyway, the book led us to discussions of being a host versus being a guest.

Madge really took to this chapter. She loves to pretend to be the guest at our own house. Frequently as we return home, she asks us if she can be the "guestess" (her merger of "guest" and "hostess"). When we give her permission, she proceeds to the front door and rings the doorbell. In her mind, she transforms into a guestess when she rings the doorbell.

The doorbell rings. "Hello, guest. Welcome to our home."
"Thank you, host."
"What's your name, guest."
"You can call me princess. What a beautiful home you have, host. I really like your furniture."
"Thank you, Madge...erm, Princess."

Last night, she had a bit of trouble transforming from Princess back into Maddy. I wish that off button were as easy to push as the on button! She's our funny guestess, our princess, and our Madge Pie. We love yoooouuuuuuuuuu!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Curious Culinary Comment on Cilantro

A NYT article today ("Cilantro Haters, It's Not Your Fault") discusses an intense dislike for cilantro in certain parts/populations of the world. Biochemical factors may be involved. I found it an interesting read since Mares and I are big cilantro aficionados--we've been adding it a lot to our salads recently. Oh, well. Perhaps Julia Child spent too much time in France.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Madge and Netflix

Yesterday, Madge and I were talking about a movie when she decided to coin a new verb. She said, "Dad, we should Netflix that one." "Yes, indeed," I replied. And so it begins. We'll see if it catches on. If it does, I hope the English Language Dictionary will provide proper credit where due.

(I forget the figure of speech where a proper noun becomes a common noun--such as xerox, kleenex, or google--but it appears that Netflix might be next.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tennis Dates

We had a truly delightful weekend. We had wonderful weather and many opportunities to have healthy family leisure. (Yes, there were some errands, but overall, there was a lot of chilling as a family outside.) We're fortunate enough to have a park across the street from our home and another park two blocks away, with a tennis court. I was able to give Maddy some of her first tennis lessons on both Saturday and Sunday. She did well, and, she seems to enjoy it -- a plus! She was excited to have tennis dates with her dad. Equally enjoyable was hitting the ball around with Mares afterward. The girls would play at the park next to the court while Mares and I played a bit. Lovely, indeed.

PS. Notice our great little ball girl and tennis racket carrier. Pita was excited to carry our rackets and run after our balls. I would hold around 9 balls and pitch them to Madge. After she hit them, Pita would run around the court collecting. Thank God for our little ball girl. (...and no tennis ball bruises to the head!)