Saturday, May 18, 2013

I. Love. You.

Your faces remind me of gratitude. I love you. Each of you. You have blessed me so much, and for you and God's blessings through you, I am grateful.


This evening I picked Madge up in my arms and just swayed back and forth with her. She leaned on me and just rubbed my back before whispering in my ear: "I like to look at you, because you are a reminder of God to me." I asked, "Why do you think that?" She responded, "Because you  have taught me all my life." Dear Madge, we love you so very much. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Article: Human Biome

There was a very interesting article in the New York Times on the micro bacteria living inside people. Among the numerous fascinating observations were the following excerpts on breast feeding, normal delivery. One can draw extensive corrollaries as applied to home births, too.
The study of babies and their specialized diet has yielded key insights into how the colonization of the gut unfolds and why it matters so much to our health. One of the earliest clues to the complexity of the microbiome came from an unexpected corner: the effort to solve a mystery about milk. For years, nutrition scientists were confounded by the presence in human breast milk of certain complex carbohydrates, called oligosaccharides, which the human infant lacks the enzymes necessary to digest. Evolutionary theory argues that every component of mother’s milk should have some value to the developing baby or natural selection would have long ago discarded it as a waste of the mother’s precious resources. 

It turns out the oligosaccharides are there to nourish not the baby but one particular gut bacterium called Bifidobacterium infantis, which is uniquely well-suited to break down and make use of the specific oligosaccharides present in mother’s milk. When all goes well, the bifidobacteria proliferate and dominate, helping to keep the infant healthy by crowding out less savory microbial characters before they can become established and, perhaps most important, by nurturing the integrity of the epithelium — the lining of the intestines, which plays a critical role in protecting us from infection and inflammation.
Most of the microbes that make up a baby’s gut community are acquired during birth — a microbially rich and messy process that exposes the baby to a whole suite of maternal microbes. Babies born by Caesarean, however, a comparatively sterile procedure, do not acquire their mother’s vaginal and intestinal microbes at birth. Their initial gut communities more closely resemble that of their mother’s (and father’s) skin, which is less than ideal and may account for higher rates of allergy, asthma and autoimmune problems in C-section babies: not having been seeded with the optimal assortment of microbes at birth, their immune systems may fail to develop properly.

Viva el Papa!

  ”It is God who gives life. Let us respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother’s womb." -Pope Francis
Vatican to Host Global Pro-Life Conference and Papal Mass
ROME, May 17 (C-FAM) Pro-lifers held their breath the day the world received a new Pope. They did not question his pro-life credentials but wondered if he would speak forcefully. An old quote soon surfaced and concerns faded. “Defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you. No child should be deprived of the right to be born, the right to be fed, the right to go to school.”
This June the Pope also will play a central role in the Vatican’s annual celebration of the Gospel of Life, the papal teaching published by Pope John Paul II in 1995. His successor, Benedict XVI, started the annual celebration a few years ago that features a papal mass for pro-life leaders. The new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, established by Benedict to encourage a reawakening of the faith in traditionally Christian countries, leads an expanded celebration this year.
This year’s three-day celebration begins with a conference funded by C-FAM and led by its chairman, Douglas A. Sylva. Cardinal Raymond Burke will deliver the keynote address on the Gospel of Life and the New Evangelization. Dr. Robert Royal of the Faith and Reason Institute and Dr. Francis Beckwith of Baylor University will answer Burke’s keynote address.
Unlike Protestant and even Evangelical denominations, the Catholic Church has not waivered on the question of abortion or other life issues. The Church sees an inextricable link between its central evangelical mission and the life.
On Saturday morning pro-life pilgrims will gather around Rome and proceed to the tomb of St. Peter. Churches near the Vatican will host an afternoon of Eucharistic adoration followed by a prayer vigil and candlelight procession led by American Archbishop Augustine DeNoia, head of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship. The procession ends near the Vatican where some think Pope Francis will greet the crowd. Surprising many, Francis visited the Roman March for Life.
On Sunday, June 16, Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass for Life in St. Peter’s Square.
A number of Americans have helped plan this event including representatives from Priests for Life, the Pro-Life Secretariat of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Alliance Defending Freedom, Susan B. Anthony List, Students for Life of America, LiveAction, and Americans United for Life.
Besides the conference for English speakers, there will be events in other languages with many attendees expected from Europe.
The Pope’s commitment to life issues cannot be underestimated. He sets the tone of the church and while many bishops and priests shy from the life issues, they find that more difficult if the Pope assertively leads the way.
Pope Francis continues to express strong pro-life views. Besides appearing unexpectedly at the Rome March for Life, he tweeted this week: ”It is God who gives life. Let us respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother’s womb."

Two worlds combined

...and we are so glad they are.
Life and education: atmosphere, discipline, life.
Charlotte emphasized treating each child as a person, not as a container into which you dump information. She believed that all children should receive a broad education, which she likened to spreading a feast of great ideas before them. Charlotte encouraged parents to have an active role in teaching and training their children in academics, fine arts, faith, citizenship, and habits of character.
You can summarize Charlotte’s approach to education in three words. Charlotte believed that “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.” By “atmosphere,” Charlotte spoke of the environment our children grow up in. She knew that the ideas that rule our lives, as parents, will have a profound impact on our children. “The child breathes the atmosphere emanating from his parents; that of the ideas which rule their own lives” (Vol. 2, p. 247).
By “discipline,” Charlotte emphasized the importance of training our children in good habits—habits that will serve them well as they grow. In fact, she likened good habits to railroad tracks that parents lay down and upon which the child may travel with ease into his adult life. Good habits are a powerful influence on our children and must play an important part in their education. “It rests with [the parent] to consider well the tracks over which the child should travel with profit and pleasure” (Vol. 1, p. 109).
By “life,” Charlotte wanted to remind us that “all the thought we offer to our children shall be living thought; no mere dry summaries of facts will do” (Vol. 2, p. 277). And the methods that Charlotte used presented each subject’s material as living ideas. Here is where the reading, writing, and arithmetic come in, along with all the other school subjects. But notice two important points: first, they are presented as living thoughts; and second, those school subjects occupy only one-third of the big picture of education.
All three components of Charlotte’s three-pronged approach are vital in the education of our children. Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. (Taken from:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Little lights, graces

Today I was emptying suitcases, getting unpacked, and reorganizing things as our four little sweet peas napped. I noticed a little light, but a beautiful one, shining on the ground in the dining room. It reminded me: how many times we pass the little graces, the little moments, which are really the big important lessons in our days, as we race to do what we think is important. Thank you, Lord, for the little moments, the small things (I will write more about this later as I saw once again our girls scoop up the little moments, the important ones, this weekend-- another reminder that God is always with us in the big and the small steps of our days.)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fun While Tailgating

A few weeks back, Mares introduced the kids to a great American pastime: tailgating. They took their first tailgate picnic at the lake near our house. Needless to say, the kids loved it! That was the highlight they recounted to me at the end of the day. We've been tailgating a few times since then.

A few blocks from our house is this restaurant resort area, called in Portuguese "The Big Point." It has lots of restaurants on the water and some green areas and some parks. We packed a picnic lunch, went to fly the kite, and snapped some great pics of the kids. In the midst of the picnic lunch (which we had in the generous space of our Suburban trunk), I also threw out a picnic blanket and set Penny on the blanket for her to roll around. I also placed our picnic basket down on the blanket. Since this is Brazil (you have to live here to understand :)), I proceeded to open a bottle of wine for Mary and I. A few minutes later, a security guard came by. I got a little nervous. He asked us if we were aware of the regulations at The Big Point. I told him no. He said that picnics were not allowed. I asked him what that meant. He said that it meant no blanket on the ground. In other words, no problem with the wine (now sitting open in a cup holder), or with the tailgating...just with the picnic blanket since that violated the rules. I smiled and complied. Mares and I gave a little chink-chink with our wine and we enjoyed our picnic lunch hanging from the truck of our car. Gotta love it.

Our little park infractor!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Big Retreat

Two weeks ago, Mary made a retreat. To make a retreat is a big deal. It takes real effort, planning, and love, as anyone who has made a retreat knows. Making a retreat as a parent takes some extra creativity! Add to Mary's retreat the following components: making a retreat with a six-month old infant (who was teething), making a retreat when you don't know anyone else attending, making a retreat in a foreign country...and the entire thing is in Portuguese! Wowsers. Eu sou tão orgulhoso dela! It was quite the retreat. I had a great time with the older kids over the weekend. At the end of the retreat on Sunday evening, the kids and I drove to get Mary and her little retreatant, Penelope. Here are some pics from when we arrived to pick up the spiritually-rejuvenated duo from the retreat house located just outside Brasilia.

You know what love and running are all about!

As we sat, eating our picnic lunch after a bike ride and run along the lake today, Pita noticed a man and lady that were running together. Right away, she mentioned that maybe they are married, maybe they are a  mom and dad, because, she said, "They are running at the same time, the same way!" When you love someone, you run with them, and when you run with them, you run at the same time in the same way.... you must be married! You know what love and running are all about! W love you, Peachy!


This morning our little man Caleb, awake bright and early like every day, saw the beautiful sunlight beams casting themselves on the wall in the dining room. He was amazed by the rays. I think he was even more amazed that he could go touch them!He did. And with a mind filled with simple, and beautiful wonder and amazement (the kind you hope for every single person to enjoy when he wakes up each new day, thankful that start to a new day has begun), he said, "Mom, take a picture (of them)!"   I waited too long to catch those rays in the dining room, but could grab a few shots of the bright lights cast through the living room. And, just as Little Caleb expressed, they were beautiful. Thank you, Lord, for the wonder of each new day.