Fonticulus Fides

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The "Responsibility and Duty" of Unity

Just read this article about meetings between John Paul II and Echumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of the Eastern Orthdox Church. Good for them. Good for all of us, someday, and Christ Himself, I hope.

I have long felt that the Great Schism and many other smaller ones that followed must pain Christ quite deeply. Seems to me that the rampant denominationalism we see in Christianity is rooted in the sin of pride. Got to see it in action when we were Anglican -- our little congregation was affiliated with a different branch of the Anglican communion pretty much every 14-16 months or so. We always had to change the initials behind our church's name in the annual Yellow Pages ad...ECA, CEA, ACA, ACE, ad nauseum. Not surprisingly, each change came with the installation of a new bishop, less support from the national level and a smaller circle of congregations. Poor Fr. Ray tried to keep fanning the flames, but the church dissolved a few months ago, and not due to any lack of sincerity, concern or skill on his part.


Monday, June 28, 2004

One birthday party down, one to go...

Edyn's second birthday is this Thursday, and since her brothers is at the end of July, I try to have her party the Sunday before her birthday and his the Sunday after so I get as much time as possible between the two events. I go a bit overboard on birthdays...probably a psychological backlash from the fact that my parents rarely celebrated mine (it's very close to my dad's and my parents usually went away for an extended weekend for his birthday, so they often weren't even in town on mine).

Anyhoo, I decided to have a Mother Goose party for Edyn, and since I had trouble finding enough tips on one web site, I am going to post all the gorey details here, just in case somebody else wants to throw a Mother Goose party for their own toddler. If the thought of that bores you to tears, come on back tomorrow, when I hope to have something more grown up to say.

Edyn's Mother Goose Party

Invitations: I found some blank cards featuring the cow jumping over the moon ("Hey Diddle Diddle"). The message said, "Edyn May with eyes of blue/Will have a party when she turns two/We hope you'll come to laugh and play/To eat ice cream and cake for Edyn's big day." After I sent them out, I thought of a better rhyme: "Hey Diddle Diddle, the cat and the fiddle/The cow jumped over the moon/We're having a party for Edyn's birthday/We hope you can come; answer soon!"

Decorations: I used simple balloons and streamers. If I would have had the time, I would have added pictures from a Mother Goose coloring book, blown up on a photocopier and colored. But I didn't have time.

Cake: I made an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe Cake, following the basic directions on this site. However, I also made sugar cookie dough and cut out small gingerbread men shapes, plus one large woman shape and decorated them with royal icing to be the Old Woman herself and all the children that led her to not know what to do. The kids munched on cookies while I sliced the cake. I tried to decorate one cookie to look like each of the kids who came (mostly cousins), but I'm not that skillful. The kids didn't care. We also served vanilla ice cream and our Wedding Punch (recipe follows).

Games: Ring-Around-the-Rosey, London Bridge and Duck-Duck-MotherGoose (that's Duck-Duck-GreyDuck for you Northeasterners) were on the list. Also, I made a Humpty Dumpty game. I took a plastic Easter egg (actually top half white & bottom half green), drilled small holes and inserted pipe cleaner arms and legs (ends finishing inside the egg so no poked fingers). I taped two pennies in the bottom as a weight, then I taped it shut with black electrical tape to serve as the belt and drew on a face with a Sharpie. Then we built a brick wall out of legos and set it on the floor with Humpty on top. The kids threw beanbags at it to knock Humpty off the wall. (Sometimes just hitting the wall is enough to knock him down.) We also were going to play Jack Be Nimble with candlesticks of varying sizes made out of a wrapping paper tube, construction paper and tissue-paper flames, but I didn't get time to put that game together. I toyed with the idea of playing a Miss Muffet game -- sort of like hot potato, but you use a spider beanie baby instead -- however, I thought two many of the little girls including Edyn would be too timid to enjoy it...or play it properly.

Goody Bags: We bought cheap sand pails to be the "bag" in deference to Jack and Jill. Inside, we put a Cow Jumps over the Moonpie, a small bag of cotton candy labelled "Baa Baa Wool", a horn (Little Boy Blue), a sheet of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star stickers, and a bag of fruit snacks (Care Bears -- not Mother Goose, but Edyn picked those out herself).

Thank You cards will probably be the notecards I saw with black sheep on them (Baa Baa Black Sheep), unless I can find something more Little Bo Peepish or Miss Muffetish.

Edyn was exceptionally polite and thanked everybody individually as she opened their gifts. An hour and a half after the party started, she was staring into space, dazed, so it was definitely time for a nap! She got several terrific books, a pair of dress-up shoes that she clomped around in all evening, a Mrs. Potato Head (sooo cute), various sand toys, toy pots, pans & dishes, a new outfit and phonics fridge magnets. People are so generous!

Okay, now for that recipe. This is what we served at our wedding, and it's quite tasty.

Our Wedding Punch

2 quarts cold cranberry-raspberry juice
1 12-oz. can lemonade concentrate, thawed + 1 can water
2 litres chilled ginger ale (or lemon-lime soda, but that makes it very sweet)
1 pint raspberry sherbet.

Mix the juice, lemonade and water in advance. As guests arrive, add chilled ginger ale and stir gently. Float small scoops of sherbet in the punch and serve.


Friday, June 25, 2004

"No one steals from God."

Interesting bit about a Chicago priest who foiled an attempted collection box theif. This was at St. Agnes of Bohemia on the west side.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Mixed feelings...

When I first read that Catholic church buildings in Boston are being sold and developed into condos, I thought that this was totally inappropriate and really sad. And then I thought, gee, I sure wouldn't mind living in a holy place. That would be kind of cool.

Somehow, though, I don't think the majority of people who are buying luxury condos are thinking in those terms.

So now I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I think it would be okay for somebody to live in a former sanctuary, if that person had respect for what that meant. On the other, you can't be sure that the new inhabitents of the location would feel that way. And, of course, what else do you do with one of these beautiful buildings? If the Church can't afford to keep it and you don't want the building used for anything else, then you have to destroy it. That doesn't seem quite right either.

What do you think?


Wednesday, June 23, 2004

You can tell I grew up in rentals...

Last year, we thought we were buying another house & started painting the outside of our current house to sell it. Our realtor suggested a "painfully neutral" color. I picked out a medium tan and my husband overruled me and went with a light tan (because the 16-year-old at the paint store thought the darker tan would be hard to make). So, we started painting the house, and then my morning sickness got real bad so I couldn't help, and then the deal fell through on the house we wanted to buy, and things got busy...

Long story short, only half the house got painted and none of the garage. I used to think anything was better than the ugly yellow our house was when we bought it, but the tan has turned out to be pretty darn ugly, too. I'm sure the realtor was correct in suggesting a neutral color if we were selling, but now we're not selling.

Today, my husband pulled out the paint cans and decided to finish the job. Guess what happens to paint that is left in an unheated garage all winter, freezing and thawing and freezing again?

Yeah, it's ruined. Like 8 gallons of paint, ruined. And right now, we can't afford to replace it, so we are stuck with two sides ugly tan and two sides ugly yellow with various patches of primer.

On the bright side, though, maybe when we can afford more paint, we can switch to the rich mossy green color I wanted in the first place!

As long as you are reading my blog today, would you mind saying a quick prayer for me about an emotional/spiritual tussle I'm having at the moment? Thanks.


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Birthday blessings... St. Blog's own Mama Owl (Davey's Mommy). Many happy returns of the day, my friend! And thanks to Peony Moss for the reminder.


Friday, June 18, 2004

Terri Schindler Schiavo Update

Head over to Fr. Rob's blog and scroll down to Thursday's post to learn the latest promising news from Terri's parents. Fr. Rob is headed to Florida soon and also offers an opportunity to send a word of encouragement to Terri's family.


Thursday, June 17, 2004

On the bright side, we’re raising honest kids…

My husband: Why is your sister crying?

Zooey: I was building a fort, and she kept knocking it over, and then I must have hit her too many times.

It wasn’t funny at the time, but I’ve laughed about it a lot since then.

--Sparki (quiet for almost a week and then three posts in one day. Lucky you!)

Farm Update
- - or - -
How to Make a 100-acre Parking Lot Without Really Trying

We’re about 4 inches ahead in annual average rainfall around here, which on the surface sounds like a good thing. Unfortunately, the rain has not always come in a useable fashion, which has ominous implications for my father-in-law’s soybean fields.

His corn was planted first (before his accident, which led to the four broken ribs and punctured lungs), and it came up and established enough of a root system before all the unpleasant weather. So it’s looking pretty good. I think he’s had some hail damage, but not a lot. If we get decent and steady amounts of moisture through July, he should have a good corn crop this year. If we go back to a drought pattern through July, though, even if each stalk sets an ear, the kernals will be stunted, which will make for a smaller yield.

Soybeans were supposed to go in back in early May, but my father-in-law’s broken ribs delayed things. His seed dealer came over and did the planting eventually, but it takes almost two weeks for spouts to stick up through the soil. Unfortunately, the weather got in the way.

Shortly after planting, we got a heavy rain (the one with all the tornados) followed by hot, dry wind. That basically crusted over the bean fields and the soft, tender shoots could not force their way through the surface. It’s almost like cement, it’s so hard – hence the "parking lot" bit.

It’s quite maddening. You can go out into the field and poke around with a pocket knife and find a bean shoot trying it’s best to straighten up through the soil. But it would be impossible to do that for every single plant in 100 acres.

Over the weekend, we got more heavy rains, and my father-in-law was hoping it would help break the soil so the beans could actually come up. I don’t know how many made it before we got more hot dry winds, which started to produce the hard crust again. We got more rain overnight, though, so maybe that helped.

If the beans can get established, they need some rain through July and August in order to set pods. The family farm, which is about an hour away from here, is in the "abnormally dry" section of the state, so we’re hoping he can get enough rain to get by this year and make a decent harvest. Towards the center part of the state, they are in first stage drought or worse, and out west, they are in an extreme drought. Lots of cattle ranches out there besides the grain farms, so it is a major concern. Throughout the Diocese, we are offering daily prayers for enough moisture, and that it arrives safely and soon.

Surviving the Twister

Out in Hallam, that village that was pretty much completely demolished by a May 22 tornado, clean-up is slow and steady. It’s hot, and there is no shade because almost of the trees have been stripped of their limbs and leaves. But lots of volunteers have been showing up to help.

Bulldozers have already taken out most of the irreparable buildings. There is still no water or sewer service and only scant electrical service, but they are working to get that corrected. Right now, even the people who own the three homes that are inhabitable can’t live in them because of the lack of water and sewer service. Folks are trying to maintain a sense of humor through it all. That’s Nebraska resiliancy for you.

Estimates are that 75-80% of the rest of the residents will rebuild, and pretty much all of the businesses. The bank is operating out of a trailer leant to them by some banking association. The owners of the pub, service station and other businesses are all planning to rebuild. The Hallam United Methodist Church members were at the site this week, salvaging and sorting brick out of the ruins for the new building. The USPS is also going to rebuild the post office. So it looks like the town will survive after all. No word yet on whether the destroyed school in nearby Firth would be rebuilt in time for classes to start next September.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Shrinking Self-Esteem of Women

This is something I’ve wanted to blog about for at least a month now, but I haven’t had the guts before today. I'm feeling brave because not so many people are reading my blog these days.

One of the things about depression for me has been a lack of appetite. Some people eat more when they are stressed or depressed. I’m one of the people who eats less.

It was easy to ignore at first, because I still had some pregnancy pounds to lose. Then I realized I was losing 5 pounds every three weeks or so. I had a doctor’s appointment coming up, and knowing I was losing weight too rapidly for a nursing mother, I started drinking a soda and eating a little junk food every day to keep from losing more. I’m not skinny, mind you – I’m just losing weight in an unhealthy way.

Even so, the 5-6 pounds I’d lost in that month between visits concerned my doctor. She even told me if it took a trip to Baskin Robbins every day to get my calorie count to 2,000 a day (basic for a nursing mom like me), I should do it.

That was last Wednesday. I’ve lost two pounds since then, even with a daily bit of junk food.

The thing of it is, I know that if 100 women were reading this blog today, only 10 of them or so would understand why this is an issue. I’d lay money on it that 73 would be saying, "Lucky her," 12 would be scheming a way to develop depression like mine so they could lose weight too, and 5 would be thinking what a b---h I am to complain about it.

How do I know it? Experience.

For one thing, friends and acquaintences keep telling me how wonderful I look, how marvelous it is that the baby weight came off so easily for me. They ask me how I’ve done it. They hint that I must be working out at the gym (I’m not, nor could I afford a gym membership). Am I doing Atkins, South Beach, the Zone?

For another, one of my former co-workers recently got married, and my husband and I actually hired a sitter (!!!) and went to the reception. There, we met up with a couple of guys from the office and their wives. I hadn’t seen either Amy or Stacy for over a year, and both of them had also had babies in the interim. Both of them gave me the once over after learning I’d had a baby in January and then wouldn’t socialize with me afterwards.

We all ended up at the same table, and as my husband plied me with hor d’ourves and cake, they refused to eat and seemed to grow increasingly impatient with my attempts at conversation. I finally realized that the only reason they could possibly be so resentful of me was that I’d lost all my pregnancy pounds, and they hadn’t yet. And to make matters worse, my husband kept setting plate after plate of yummy things in front of me, trying to get me to eat. No wonder they refused even a bite of cake.

I told my husband I wasn’t feeling well, and we left early. I felt bad that my current body shape had affected Amy and Stacy in such a negative way, and I hoped that by leaving early, they were able to relax and enjoy the party. I was also frustrated that they had let something so superficial get in the way of what should have been friendly conversation. I was dismayed that I couldn’t tell them that my weight is actually an unhealthy thing right now ("I was suicidal and had to go on anti-depressants" isn’t exactly good wedding reception conversation). And I was – and still am – so very angry with our stupid modern culture that has convinced so many women that if they are carrying a few extra pounds, they are somehow less worthy, less desirable, less attractive.

It’s so bad, even marginally overweight women often suffer from such a lack of confidence, they won’t befriend a thin woman. In every place I ever worked and in every group of women I’ve ever belonged to, there was a thin and pretty woman who was ostracized just because she was thin and pretty. I always thought that I’ve never been thin enough and I’m too plain to be called pretty, and that’s why I haven’t been the outcast. Amy and Stacy are both prettier than I am, but apparently the weight issue takes precedence when it’s just a group of moms.

Why can’t people just focus on being healthy – eating healthy foods, getting healthy amounts of exercise, clean water, fresh air and sleep – and simply accept the fact that there are different body shapes and sizes out there?

That’s how I’m trying to raise my kids. That’s how I’m trying to live. But the culture works against me. From the constant "lose weight" ads all over TV, magazines, the Internet…to fashions which are pretty much designed for thin people or to emphasize thinness…to the "Extreme Makeover" shows on TV…to the huge amount of "weight conscious" pre-packaged food options at the grocery store…It’s way out of hand, people.

So here’s what I’m asking of you today. Next time you see somebody who has lost a lot of weight rapidly, ask them if they’re okay. If they are losing the weight on purpose and doing it in a healthy way, you can share in their joy. But if they are losing weight in an unhealthy way, it might just be an opportunity for you to help, with a prayer or a meal or a word of encouragement.

You’d be surprised what people might be hiding in their hearts.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

St. Columbkille, pray for us!

My husband's patron...


Tuesday, June 08, 2004

’Til Death Do Us Part…

When we were married and said these vows to each other, my husband and I weren’t thinking about the end of our marriage, but the beginning. We were – and still are -- concerned with how we would grow together more completely, be one more completely. That’s just how it is. At the wedding, you don’t think about what happens when the two-who-have-become-one are parted by death.

I just saw a photograph of Nancy Reagan leaning her cheek against her husband’s flag-draped casket. They had one of those powerful unions that I’ve blogged about before – like my paternal grandparents, like Johnny and June Carter Cash.

But as Mrs. Reagan once said, the Reagans experienced a "very long good-bye." In this last decade, Alzheimer’s robbed them of the joys of their great love. Nancy still loved her Ronnie, to be sure, but he was locked away in confusion and lost memories. How difficult and painful it must have been for her.

In the end, though, the grace of God prevailed. The Reagans’ daughter Patti Davis recounts her father’s last moments in a magazine article quoted on today:

"At the last moment, when his breathing told us this was it, he opened his eyes and looked straight at my mother. Eyes that hadn't opened for days did, and they weren't chalky or vague. They were clear and blue and full of love."

I am so glad for Mrs. Reagan. Her beloved husband came back to her one last time to show her that their love had survived his terrible disease.

And now the grieving process begins. I know the family will at times find comfort in the fact that Mr. Reagan is now free from Alzheimer’s oppressive grip, but his absence will still be keenly felt. For Mrs. Reagan in particular, despite the years of foreshadowing, she must feel absolutely split in two. The oneness she was part of is over forever. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain of that.

I pray that God will bless her and her family, and that He will grant Mr. Reagan himself rest and peace.


Sunday, June 06, 2004

To be honest...

I'm a little offended that my mother-in-law will just sit by and let her son burn in hell. I mean, she will not speak with him about this whole Catholic thing. If she really believes my husband is in league with the devil by being Catholic, I should think she'd at least try to help him. But she won't. And since she won't come to him about it, he's assuming the subject is off limis.

This is soooo frustrating.


Saturday, June 05, 2004


How discouraging it was for me to learn today that not only is my mother-in-law displeased with our conversion to Catholicism, she honestly believes we'll be going to hell if we persist in it.

I always knew she was anti-Catholic. My husband remembers not being allowed to play with the little boy down the street because the boy was Catholic. And I've heard her say many little things over the years that hint toward her distrust. But for some reason, I thought that when we converted -- her deeply religious oldest child and I -- I thought she'd open her mind a bit. I thought she knew her son better that this. I thought she knew that her son, my husband, would never make such a choice unless he was absolutely convinced in intellect, emotion and spirit that Catholicism was exactly where Christ wanted him to be.

Foolish of me, I guess.

I don't know what to do about it. I heard all this through the family grapevine, because my mother-in-law wouldn't dream of telling us her feelings to our faces. In fact, it's been over a year, and I was starting to think she was okay with the whole thing beause she hasn't even dropped a hint of misgivings.

I really don't want her to be so uncomfortable with our Catholicism. I don't want her to fear for our souls, or for her grandchildren's in particular. I don't want her to persist in the many misconceptions she has about Catholicism. And I don't want her scheming ways to "correct" my children's belief system now that we are "ruining" it with all this Catholic worship, schooling, etc.

If she would just ask my husband about things and listen to his explanations, she'd be thoroughly satisfied. I know she would be. But she won't ask.

When he got home from work tonight, I told my husband what I had learned. He was less surprised than I was. He'd been expecting it, I suppose. I encouraged him to talk to his mother, or a least write a letter, but he doesn't see the point. He's quite certain she'll never change her mind. And he pointed out that if she really wanted to discuss it with him, she'd bring it up herself. Since she has it, it's entirely likely that she'd reject any of his attempts to open the lines of communication.

I learned long ago not to meddle in family relationships, so there isn't anything more I can say or do to get the two of them talking. And I can't approach her myself without my husband's okay. So once again, I am "stuck" with prayer as my only recourse.

Well, that and blogging about it so that maybe some of you can pray that we can set my mother-in-law at ease about the whole thing.


Friday, June 04, 2004

A Happy Decade

Ten years ago this morning, my husband and I were married. And he's still the best thing that ever happened to me (besides Christ, of course). Thank you, my love, for being everything I could have wanted and needed...and more.


Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Bishop Bruskewitz Speaks

Catholic World News has an interview with our Bishop regarding the whole failure-to-comply thing, if you're interested.


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

So Ends the Month of May

We spent Memorial Day out at the farm. It was a $20 car trip, now that gasoline is so expensive, but we hadn’t been out there since Easter, and we all needed the fresh air and wide open spaces.

Zooey brought his kite but promptly forgot all about putting it up when his cousins arrived. Instead, he spent the entire day outside with them, climbing up to the tree house, digging in the dirt, coaxing our dog to play fetch with a ball. Edyn was too shy to wander far from my side for the first couple of hours, but she eventually stopped hiding her face in a pillow and charmed all the relatives with her big blue eyes. Happily, Laurel ignored the new tooth that is pushing its way through her bottom gum and smiled enthusiastically at anybody who would talk to her.

My husband grilled hamburgers and hot dogs to feed the 20-some people gathered. His mom, aunt and grandmother rounded out the feast with various salads and baked side dishes. Lots of macaroni and not too much Jell-O® this time.

Breathless and thoroughly aired, the kids ate their dinners outside on the picnic table, dropping bits of meat in the grass for the dog when they thought nobody was watching. Half the grown-ups balanced their plates on their laps as they relaxed in lawn chairs set up in the sunny and breezy front yard. The rest of us ate indoors, closer to the food and farther from the gnats. (I’m still too "city" to enjoy eating al fresco if I have to constantly shoo bugs away from my food.)

Afterwards, my husband walked the children through the soybean fields down to the pond to look for deer and other wildlife. Zooey accurately called the pond "an animal junction" – we’re wondering where he picked up that phrase, but he seems to understand what it means. Meanwhile, I nursed Laurel to sleep upstairs in the farm house, listening to the laughter and conversation below, the songbirds outside, the silent song of praise in the heavens. God is so very good to us.

We’d made ice cream at home for the feast, much to Zooey’s delight, though he rejected it in favor of the red, white and blue popsicles that Grandma handed out. The ice cream was unanimously approved by the rest of the family, so I offer the recipe here.

Vanilla Ice Cream

3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
4 teaspoons vanilla

Wisk the eggs and yolks together. Set aside. In a heavy saucepan, heat the milk, evaporated milk, sugar and salt over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just starting to simmer. Reduce heat to low. While whisking steadily, slowly pour one cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, then slowly pour the egg mixture back into the rest of the milk, stirring constantly. Cook for one minute longer, stirring frequently.

Pour the mixture into a metal bowl and set it in an ice bath. Stir for 3-5 minutes, or until the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla. Chill at least 2 hours in the fridge, and then freeze according to the directions on your ice cream maker. Pack tightly into a plastic container and ripen in freezer for 3 hours or more.

This would probably be even tastier if you heated a vanilla bean in the milk mixture, then removed it and scraped the seeds into the milk before adding the eggs. You could also use vanilla sugar instead of plain. Make vanilla sugar by burying that scraped vanilla bean pod in a plastic container filled with ordinary granulated sugar, then sealing tightly and storing for at least 2 weeks.