Thursday, October 26, 2006

Child-Led Fashion

Child-led learning? Yes. I'm all for it.

Child-led fashion? Sorry, she's just not ready.

Blood Type Surprise

We've been following the Eat Right For Your Type eating approach for about a year now, give or take. We thought it was so handy that my husband and I and our daughter were all type O. How convenient. The only wildcard was our son, whom we adopted. Still don't know his type.

I bought two blood type cards recently, and today was the day when we were going to test my son. It involves getting stuck by a little lancet, of course, so at the last moment he chickened out, after I had the card all prepared. So, I tested my daughter instead, since we didn't know her rhesus factor (positive or negative).

Imagine my surprise when her result turned up A+!

I was distracted by this development all day long, told my husband about it, and had him sit down for the test right after dinner. He who long believed himself to be O- tested as A-.

Now, you know that something is really a part of your life when a change in it throws you for a complete loop. It was like discovering you aren't really who you thought you were. Just very, very weird.

For dh, it means no beef or lamb. No tomatoes, bananas or green peppers (things he'd been eating daily). It means coffee gets a welcome back (instead of a guilty drink now and then). Sour cream, non-fat, goes back in the fridge, corn and corn chips (do you have any idea how many things corn shows up in?), and lots of grains.

For me, it means learning a whole second set of food requirements, and doing a bit of creative meal preparation.

Now I can just guess that ds will test as B. Just to throw me for another loop.

The Eat Right plan really has produced great results for me. I've never been exactly overweight, but I have lost pounds that just weren't going anywhere. The best result of course was that we were able to conceive my daughter -- cutting out wheat and dairy seemed to have a drastic effect on my endometriosis.

So, I do recommend the plan. And soon, I'll know a whole lot more about how another 40% of the world's population best eats!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Direction for our Times

Two weeks ago, I went to hear a speaker at Franciscan University. She is known as Anne, and she is reported to receive locutions from Heaven. Now, I am not one who chases after every private revelation or everyone claiming a message from God. I believe, wholeheartedly, that God does speak to people. That God desires to communicate with us in private ways. But I believe the Church also asks us to be discerning.

That Fr. Michael Scanlon and Dr. Mark Miravalle were welcoming her got my attention as they certainly are not light-weights or people who promote spurious causes.

So, I went. I was pretty much expecting to hear someone who was serious, dramatic, who had instructions about more praying and more fasting, or something like that.

Instead what I heard was a woman whose demeanor can best be described as "normal." Extremely normal. Her message was not at all dreary, or heavy or depressing. And so much, SO MUCH of what she said just resonated with me and affirmed what I feel God has been leading me in for the last many months.

You can read more about the mission here:

After she spoke, there was a Holy Hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The priest who works with this apostolate lead the holy hour, and we prayed (among other intentions) that God would give us the grace to know clearly His will into which He desired to lead us.

This last week I have had that grace, and many others.

Much of the message is simply that we need to embrace our daily duty in a holy way. Live simply, and get rid of "excess baggage" that detracts from our duty or just isn't necessary. Offer and consecrate each day to the Lord, pledge your allegiance to Him and pray for the grace to follow His will in all things. God's desire, this message tells us, is to come into the world through us, through our daily duties which we thus consecrate to Him.

There are many writings which Anne has produced, and I've only read a few little things. I want to read more, though, and plan to do so.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Unschooling Snippets

Yesterday Kwamai and I did a few fun things. For one, we read through a science book on light and colors. It was written with a little information, then questions to elicit from the reader what s/he already knew about the subject at hand, and experiments to find out more.

Here are some of Kwamai's comments.
Q: What are things that give off light?
A: The sun, the full moon, lots of little stars all bunched together, planet blobs in the sky.

Q: How can you see at night?
A: You can use your whiskers to feel where you are.

Q: How can you make a shadow get bigger?
A: Hold someone's hand.

We tried our first full-fledged science experiment, which was supposed to show that if you twirl a multi-colored ring around you will see white, due to colors blending into white light. It didn't work, but Kwamai thought it was great fun anyway.

Then I tried a little idea to expand Kwamai's sight vocabulary and ability to spell beyond toilet content words. I gave him a magazine, asked him to pick out pictures and tell me what word he associated with it. He picked Elmo, football (as in the sport, not the object), drums, funny face and colors. I pasted the pictures onto cardboard, and put the written words on the back. He looked them over a few times, and was able to tell me by looking at the word what it said very quickly. He did have to concentrate a bit a couple of times which tells me he truly was reading it. The funny thing was, when he tried to verbally spell "drums", he started out "p...". From reading the book Upsidedown Brilliance, I knew that if I told him that b, d, p, and q were all the same letter just turned a different way, that that would make sense (and was "ok" and wouldn't scar him educationally for life!!)

The cool thing to see was how his confidence soared after mastering these few words. It was like he knew he could do something he really wanted to do.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Remembering Fr. John

Fr. John Campbell, S. J., was my spiritual director at a very pivotal time in my life. I had just become a Catholic, and there was much that was confusing to me. It was like stepping into dazzling brilliance from murky grey.

God had led me right to him, practically. He (God) had given me rather specific instruction to start going to daily Mass. When I finally heeded that call, I went to the 5:30 pm Mass at Gesu parish (on the campus of Marquette University in Milwaukee, which was about 8 blocks from my then-apartment). I remember the first Mass I attended at which Fr. John presided. I thought to myself "he might even be saved!" I didn't have any trust in clergy at the time, and almost none in anyone Catholic. (It was no big surprise that God had me wait almost 18 months from my initial conversion of heart to actually entering the Church, but that is another story.)

Fr. John preached intelligent, thoughtful homilies, and even then I could see that he was all about the paschal mystery.

But eventually one thing really started to bother me about dear old Fr. John. He was of the generation and place and circumstance where he just never called God "He." He didn't call God She, either, mind you; mostly just "God." I remember one Psalm response which became "God Godself is in the midst of God's people." It started to drive me nuts, and soon I started to avoid that particular 5:30 pm Mass and attend at a different parish when I could. Then one Sunday (mind you, this was all before I actually came into the Church, in 1992), he was the presider for the particular Mass I attended. I *almost* turned to leave to come back for the next Mass, when certainly another of the many Jesuits would be presiding. But something made me stay. Specifically, God kicking me in the butt. If the Holy Spirit can have a stern "voice", He told me ever so sternly to respect this man (and by connection, everyone participating in Holy Orders). Specifically because this man knew what it was to walk through the darkness by faith. I felt deeply chastised, humbled, and practically commanded to pray for and love this man.

What happened next, I will never forget. A Religious Sister started talking to me after Mass, a rarity. We chatted on and on, and then she suddenly said "have you met Fr. John? Let me introduce you." She led me over to where he was, and introduced me. He started telling her that I listened so intently to his homilies, and that it really helped him to pray. He was so gracious, so welcoming, so real, so accepting of me. I felt like slithering under the tiles in the floor. Now, he knew who I was.

I don't remember how long it was after that that I really really felt the need for a spiritual director. I felt like a kitten whom God was picking up by the scruff of my neck and depositing at Fr. John's door. At the time I was so extremely nervous about talking to strangers (and everyone felt like a stranger to me). It took a good long time, almost a year I think, and enough desperation, for me to finally call him. Again gracious, he returned my call with that jovial voice of his.

We met for spiritual direction for the first time in January of 1994. He had the great skill of making me feel completely at ease, and not at all strange for being an ex-Pentecostal struggling to make sense of myself in a Catholic context. We met monthly at least for the next nine months. I poured out my heart, we shared a few tears, and most of all, he listened. Listened. Listened very well. I don't remember much of what he told me, and I do remember some of it not seeming to make any sense at the time at all. But we were able to share in a kind of spiritual communion that was deeply healing to me.

Then, I went to Japan. It was really the worst decision I had ever made, and I made it during my third month in spiritual direction. He wasn't the type of director to say "now, Marie, are you sure this is a good decision? Are you sure this is what God wants for you?" Maybe I really needed to learn the hard way at the time.

And he was there when the whole Japan thing came down around my ears. I ended up being briefly engaged to a Japanese man, and that would have been such a disaster had we actually gotten married. I shudder to think of it. I was back in the States on "break" when I realized I needed to come home for good, and I was about to be stranded in Los Angeles -- long story there. Fr. John set me up with relatives of his who were so kind to me. When I finally washed up on shore to the US again for good, I saw him again.

And then I was off to Steubenville.

I had written to him frequently in Japan, and he made it clear he wasn't a correspondent and wouldn't write back, and I said that was fine. Once I got to Steubenville and started truly feeling alive again in many ways, I started writing letters of thanks to Fr. John. I think maybe once or twice a year I would just well up with the awareness of thanks for the gift God had made of Fr. John in my life.

After I got married, Fr. John eventually started writing back. My husband and I had lunch with him when we went to Wisconsin one Christmastime. That was wonderful, and strange too, for I still had a good deal of that painful shyness. Eventually, I would write at least at Christmastime, and so would he.

In Christmas of 2004, I wrote of our good news that we were expecting a baby in April, and that our son's adoption would finally be finalized. He wrote his news; he was battling cancer of the tongue, but he was looking victorious, although he'd been forced to stop preaching for several months.

My newborn daughter had this little half smirk-grin that reminded me so much of Fr. John. I so wanted to tell him that, and I thought of it every time I looked at her. It took me some time to get a picture sent off to him, though, with all the busyness of having a new baby. It was September when I finally did.

Around this time last year I got a card from Gesu Parish. I stared and swallowed when I realized it wasn't Fr. John's handwriting. It was from his superior. He had taken it upon himself to open my letter, and to let me know that Fr. John had passed away on June 26, 2005. The cancer had spread rapidly, the experimental treatments he had volunteered for were not successful. He welcomed his time to go home to the Father's house, at age 60.

I felt -- I feel still now, in a way, more alone in the world. Ah, but with friends in high places.

Fr. John, as always, I pray for you and carry you in my heart. Please, do the same for me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Your Inner Pharmacy

I've recently finished reading this book: Your Inner Pharmacy: Taking Back Our Wellness by Dr. Robert Blaich.

I would recommend this book to anyone with any health concerns. It discusses Applied Kinesiology, the role of good diet, the role of exercize, and gives hope to those who desire excellent instead of mediocre health. It is a great resource for people who would like to be still active and healthy into their 80s or 90s.