Tuesday, March 13, 2012


We heard peepers on our way home tonight. Honest. Peepers! It felt so warm as the breeze blew through the rolled down car windows. It couldn't really be Winter still could it? Nah. I knew it was going to be that kinda day this morning when I had to chase little ones back into the classroom three separate times. They were busy with a few toads they had caught on the porch. They placed a clear plastic lid over them to trap them and watch them simultaneously. Trying to do Math while there are 2 toads sitting on the porch behind your class window is mighty difficult. Once lessons were over Mike and Tom disappeared alllllll day. I finally called them in at suppertime. We grilled tonight and Sarah kept asking when we'd open the pool. Hope the sun soaked into your soul wherever you are, as much as it did in these parts today.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012


I spent the day in the kitchen prepping food for a Father Daughter Dance happening tomorrow night. It should be a whole lot of fun. I know my Mary and Sarah are absolutely turning themselves inside out at the mere thought of attending. We made a whole lot of food today and tomorrow will bring the hot stuff, plus the set-up. We even have a dance instructor to teach everyone properly! Of course I hadn't planned the most important thing of all- dresses ( try to remember how many boys I had before dresses entered back into my world and you might make a little space for the faux pas!)  and only thought of it for the first time while on the phone with my faithful friend Elizabeth. Thankfully she drove over an assortment of swirly, twirly dresses for us to pick from. I might even curl hair if I find a few minutes. I think Fred will be on his own with the suit and tie, but he cleans up pretty well- so there are no real worries! 

I'll be sure to post some pictures as soon as I get them. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bathing with the Dinosaurs

I believe its PBS that has a show called "Walking with the Dinosaurs". My kids love it and just about any show there is with Dinosaurs and other 'creatures'. 'Creatures'  is actually  Mike and Toms code word for all slippery, slimy little boys stuff like snakes, crayfish, salamanders,and frogs. The only thing they love more than plastic dino's is real creatures they find in the yard. Yesterday as we drove to noon mass, Thomas and I chatted about the beautiful sunny day. I mentioned how warm and pretty it was today, Thomas answered with "there must be creatures coming out" with this wistful voice that delighted almost as much in the thought of creatures, as the actual find.
Tonight we bathed all the grubby little girls, and trimmed bangs, and blew dry hair, and cut all mid to young boys hair on the front porch. They washed all the dirt from their little bodies and climbed into clean beds with fresh jammies on. When I was finally done and needing to wash the itch off of me from all the haircuts, I jumped in after them. I found- creatures- and I was just too tired to clear them all out of the tub so I bathed with plenty of dinosaurs and an alligator too. It is nice to be a kid. It is sometimes just as nice to simply have kids. I am grateful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


My kids came in today and announced they found some pretty flowers! They are always so excited to find the first crocus. Me too actually. That pale color after all that cold, does good for the soul as it springs out of the ground. Joe took some photos for me before running back out to play.

Monday, March 5, 2012

What a Fluke!

Did you all hear this yet? The Georgetown college woman 'Sandra Fluke' who testified before Congress ( she was very well spoken I might add- even if I utterly disagreed with her). Rush Limbaugh said some nasty things about her afterwards that caused a stir, and then the President called to see if she was OK?  

Did you ever have one of those moments when you're just NOT convinced you're getting the whole story? I kept trying to read about it and give the benefit of the doubt to her, but just felt that nagging feeling inside. Today I figured out why. 

It turns out Sandra Fluke is not 23, she is 30.  So I guess the media got that wrong- or did she give the wrong age...hmmmm? Certainly age doesn't mean everything, but it was a little deceptive on someone's part for a start. Then it turns out she actually targeted  Georgetown for the very reason that she wanted to change things up with their contraceptive policy. She was a plant! You know the whole fool me once line? That is how I felt reading about her.She is a professional activist going around stirring up trouble for those who are- in her opinion- acting unjustly towards others in the sexual sphere- (as defined solely by her views it would seem as well.) I CANNOT believe what a shabby job the media did in parading this one out like she was the Irish Spring Girl. 

When Sandra says unfair, she doesn't just mean the whole contraceptive thing. She wants all of us to pay for all sorts of stuff like  gender reassignment operations as well. Don't believe me? Read the whole article she co-wrote and published  in the Georgetown Law Journal- you can purchase  it here ( but I wouldn't waste my money). She is not some brave, young, innocent, freedom-loving woman, who was attacked by a portion of  the media after gathering up enough courage to voice her opinion- she has a serious agenda most folks wouldn't agree with that she has been working for years! This is the culmination of it for her.

What a crock. Maybe she didn't deserve to be called a s**t, but I just gotta tell you, I can come up with a few names of my own.  

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Week 2 Lent

Its week 2 of Lent in these parts. There are black garbage bags littering my house. We have not made as much progress as I hoped on our 40 bags in 40 days yet. I think it is because we don't accumulate all that much stuff most of the year, so it's not so hard for us to get rid of excess when it comes time.

There are still lots of nooks and crannies left, but they don't fill a bag completely so I may have to revise my goals ( or get tricky and buys some smaller bags). I am most happy about the linen closet which is functioning again. I had so many linens in there that I could barely open it, and sorting was a bear; so now that I have less than half the amount I should actually be able to find what I need and use it. Phew!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Josh Part III

(Tonight I'll conclude the conversation with Josh. To see what we have already covered click here and here. )


Can I ask you something related to all this in my mind? Does it seem to you, as it has to me lately, that the first wrong step in this whole ordeal was the mistaken notion that the government should be providing what the church actually should and vice versa?What I mean by that is that the role of the church in the past was to care for the poor, and be a voice of charity and conscience in a depraved world. Somehow the Church seemed to accept too readily the state stepping into that role. The church has now grown a loud political voice and  conversely the state is stepping into a moral realm saying people have ‘rights’ to such things as health care and mandating issues that have always been attached to a moral dimension?

Don’t misunderstand me Josh, I want for the poor and all men to have health care, but I don’t think it can be a right- per se. Certainly not in the same sense as life, liberty, and pursuing happiness. I also think that would be best if it was brought about, not by an imposition of the state as that eats away at how we then define our freedoms. Is a poor man who is fed by the state, and clothed by the state, and cared for medically by the state, and directed to which doctors he can or can’t go really free any longer? Is he not simply a slave of a new breed- and perhaps an even worse slavery we could ever have  imagined than before?  Is it not a slavery of complacency and entitlement?  How is this freedom any longer, even if all those needs are being met? At what price are they being met?

It is interesting that throughout the last few years the bishops, following Catholic Social Teaching, have consistently agreed that universal health care is a priority -- but note they say universal health CARE, not universal health INSURANCE.  Many people have taken Catholic Social Teaching to imply that we need a government-sponsored health program such as the Obama administration proposed; but there are other ways -- including, as you suggest, more charity and justice on behalf of individuals -- to ensure universal access to health care.

Moreover, CST also demands respect for the rule of law, and there are strong arguments to be made that under the US constitution the federal government is not supposed to be in the business of providing health care or health insurance.  The bishops are aware of this, and they are also aware that the fact that something needs to be provided doesn't mean that the government should provide it.

Apart from the constitutional issue, you know the standard liberterian economic arguments about how government is not going to be an efficient and effective provider of goods.  And beyond that there is the moral/theological concern you raise, that to assume that government is responsible for the provision of goods is to remove the provision of goods from the sphere of voluntary action where it can actually be virtuous.

HOWEVER, I don't want to go so far as to say that government should play no role in providing goods.  Government is not evil, not even a necessary evil; people need government and it is a natural part of the social order.  When as Christians (or just people of good will and common sense) we see that there are others in need, we should look for ways to help them.  Government is one of many means available to our disposal, but not the only one; we know that other individuals, churches and church-affiliated institutions, creative business enterprises, and yes our own selves through charity and generosity are able to much to provide and distribute goods, and we need to ensure that this remains possible.  One of the saddest things about the HHS mandate is that it could literally shut down many excellent social services; in the name of "access" (to cheap things already widely available, like contraception) it could gravely harm many people most vulnerable and in need (like all those dependent on Catholic hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc.).

And we should not forget that one of the blessings of our government is that there are mechanisms by which citizens can respond lawfully, safely, and we hope effectively, when fundamental rights and liberties are threatened.  It is significant, indeed, that we have been able to oppose the HHS mandate through all three branches of our government: putting pressure on the executive branch for a change in policy, advocating a legislative fix through passage of a conscience bill, and of course taking recourse to the judicial branch through lawsuits.  There are people in other parts of the world whose governments do not have such clearly defined or separated powers, and who would not feel safe mounting opposition to a government policy.
Thanks Josh. 
As always-you have helped me tremendously!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Josh- Part II

(Tonight I continue the exchange on the HHS mandate with my friend Josh.... read last nights post to see where we left off)

 Wow Josh, a lot to digest!

 Unlike some- I do think our president is a very intelligent man and sometimes obfuscating seems a brilliant tactic he employs. Of course at its heart obfuscation hides the truth from those who have a right to hear. I guess what I have been thinking most about in all this Josh is the public at large. I understand the need for these religious issues to be clearly defined, but how can I presume to speak for others? Don’t we all support things that go against our beliefs in one form or another through payment of taxes or wages to other who hold different beliefs? How is this issue so different than all the others? The first amendment does seem to allow Congress to pass laws limiting religious expression if the laws are neutral and generally applicable. Can we really expect people outside of our faith 
( whom the Catholic Church also employs) to hold our religious laws above those of the state without violating their first amendment rights? What am I missing  here?


 P.S.-I had seen the women speak for themselves link- it is an impressive list of names, and made me smile as I often feel so under-represented for my views and choices.I guess I am not as alone as I believed! 

 How is this issue different from others – a great question.

 First, being required to pay taxes is different from being required to purchase a product. (Even apart from the contraception issue, there are deep constitutional questions about that dimension of the health plan anyway.) Taxes that go to the general welfare are different from benefits purchased by employers for employees. So being required to pay taxes that may go to something one disapproves of is different than being required to purchase a product that one would never in good conscience purchase freely.

 Second, as you note, all reasonable limits to religious expression must be by laws which are neutral and generally applicable. The case for neutrality and generality is easiest to make when there are laws already on the books, and someone comes along and asks for an exception (e.g. Mormons asking for – and being denied – an exemption from polygamy laws). That case is also easiest to make if the law “burdens” everyone equally. It is much harder to make the case for neutrality and generality when a new law is made in the face of a longstanding religious practice, and when the law really only burdens, and in fact seems designed to change the behavior of, those of certain religious affiliation – as is the case here. 

 Third, in this case the mandate and proposed accommodation have not really come through a normal legislative process. The larger health plan passed by legislators was only tentatively supported by some Catholics on the expectation that there would be a traditional religious exemptions; the HHS, a government agency without legislative authority or accountability, specified further regulations and refused to allow the traditional religious exemption. Lastly, and perhaps most simply: by respecting the rights of individuals and corporations not to have to purchase products against their conscience, nobody else’s rights are being violated. An employee whose employer is not purchasing contraception for him or her is not having any first Amendment rights denied. (This is true even for someone who thinks that access to contraception, sterilization and abortion are a fundamental health issue, which we haven’t even discussed but there are good reasons to call that into question too!) 

 --Josh P.S. No, you are certainly not alone. But you are, alas, in the minority, and it is sad that more women, especially young women, don’t get the chance to hear any alternative to our cultural status quo on contraception.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Josh in Three Parts

 I had wanted to update all of you,  on the HHS mandate situation, and to do so I asked a trusted friend Josh to help me play catch up on the issue as life around here had gotten to be busy (I wonder why... hmm?) When I went to post about what I had learned, I realized it would be best to simply share the exchange  we had with you all and let you judge it for yourselves in order to draw your own conclusions. Josh has always challenged me to think a bit harder on issues than what initially appears and I believe that shows itself well here.   It will likely take the next 2 or 3 nights to publish the exchange due to its length - but I found it extremely helpful and hope you might also.(Needless to say Josh gave me his permission to publish)  :

 Dear Josh, 
 Hey-I’ve been super busy this past week and don’t know where we’ve landed with the HHS thing. Could you give me an update? I have heard a compromise has been reached in some news outlets and others say this isn’t so- what’s up? Hope all is well with you!
PS had a great visit with my cousin Bob, if he comes back I’d love for you to meet him- I know you’d find him really interesting.

Great to hear from you, and good question. So yes, Obama announced an "accommodation" on February 10, and this has been taken by many as a compromise that solves the problem of HHS violating religious liberty with its "contraception mandate" (i.e. requiring that employer-provided insurance include contraception, sterilization, and abortion). But no, it is not over.

 Here's why: 1. Legally nothing changed. Obama promised to revise the rule, but the rule went into effect without any revision. 2. It is not clear what Obama promised. Because all we have to go on are some general comments about how some future revised rule might work, there is no agreement about what how it would actually look in terms of the legal details. 3. Obama didn't actually negotiate. Despite decades of history of policy makers keeping open dialogue with the Church when it comes to matters like provision of health care, the White House announced a "compromise" without any discussions with bishops or others who were objecting the loudest. 4. Even on the most generous reading of his "compromise" he is still requiring that employers who purchase health plans must purchase plans that will cover contraception, sterilization, and abortion. There may be a small change in the chain of responsibility, allowing employers to feel that they are less directly providing the coverage, but the bottom line is the same. 5. Even if the accommodation did make some concessions to religious institutions (hospitals, universities), it doesn't at all address independent employers. In other words, if you are a business owner and want to provide health coverage to your employees but have a religious objection to providing contraception, sterilization, and abortion, the HHS mandate is still a violation of your conscience. 6. Part of the rationale for the proposed accommodation is that contraception is "free," meaning "no additional cost," meaning "upfront costs are compensated for by later savings." Leaving aside the question of whether we want to treat public health issues that way (sterilizing people brings down the cost of caring for their families?) that's a bit like saying that paying off your mortgage early is "free" because down the road you save interest payments.

 For all of these reasons, although most of the mainstream media coverage of the HHS mandate has faded for now, there has been a lot of discussion and reaction, and the issue will not go away. A lawsuit filed on behalf of EWTN before February 10 still stands, and three more have been filed, two by Catholic colleges and one by a Protestant college. Educators, health professionals, and others have signed a strong letter against the mandate -- Cardinal Dolan recently added his name: http://www.becketfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Unacceptable-2-28-12pm.pdf In general, the bishops have come out very strongly in opposition. Congress held hearings, and the media covered them very superficially (complaining that those who spoke against the mandate were all men). In response there is an excellent petition that is interesting: http://womenspeakforthemselves.com 
 Blessings to you and yours! 
 P.S. I do look forward to hearing about the visit from your cousin. I know you were excited to host him!