Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our St. Francis

Several days ago, I was grading papers and I saw Joseph dash across the room.  He had a can of tuna in his hand.  He'd already brought a small bowl of milk to the front porch, too. I missed the milk going out the door.  Stray cat.  Not our cat.  Joseph fed the cat and I told him, "This cat is not ours and you will have to find the owner."  That was several days ago. 

Yesterday, Joseph carried the cat in the pet carrier door to door looking for his owner.  He came back with a huge smile across his face and announced, "Toni doesn't belong to anybody.  Can we keep him!?"  He'd been named Toni because the boys felt it was a name that could be used for a boy or a girl.  Even Matthew likes Toni.  THAT is a surprise.

Toni likes my front porch swing and he also likes the planter just outside our front door. Toni is making himself at home.  A friend told me tonight that Toni has an owner.  Us.  Joseph says he wants to use the money he has saved up from his dog sitting job to pay for Toni to go to the vet and get shots.  He is pretty serious about this cat.  Today, Joseph introduced Toni to Henry, our bunny.  I'm not sure where this is going, but if Toni is here when we get back from our medical trip, then we may have to keep him.   Dad is not a big fan of animals, so he may run Toni off while we are gone.  Joseph is asking St. Francis to help keep Toni around while we are gone.

Here are a few pictures that Joseph took of Toni.  I also took a few. 

Henry Meets Toni

Henry Checks Toni Out


Junior Achiever Award

Tonight after the vigil Mass, we went to the awards dinner at Holy Cross. I mentioned a few days ago that I had to write a bio for Matthew because he was getting an award-- he received the Junior Achiever Award. He had no clue. It was pretty funny to see his reaction. When they announced his name, he was shocked. He looked at us and said, "Me!? Did they just call my name?"

It was wonderful to hear all of the the things he has accomplished.  Something about hearing a litany of items he has done makes me say, "WOW! He has done so much, how did this happen!?" 

Matthew right after he realizes it is really his name they just called

Matthew standing as she reads his list of accomplishments

Award winners with Fr. Paul

Friday, January 28, 2011

Duty to Work - What Does the Church Teach?

Recently, our family was discussing conditions in third world countries such as Haiti. Our guest discussed that it seemed that the people in Haiti didn't understand the common good. That they failed to understand what they do upstream affects those down the river. They failed to understand that washing and using the bathroom upstream wasn't good for the common good of the people downstream. I get that, I really do. I added that another reason many people are not able to thrive is because they lack the freedom to build and thrive, that we had once experimented with building a society based on "the common good", and it wasn't until Captain John Smith quoted the Bible and said, "He who shall not work, shall not eat." At that point, our guest interjected with, "That is the Protestant work ethic." It was news to all of us.

We'd never heard of it, so after our friend left, we looked up the scripture in 2 Thessalonians 3:10. St. Paul says, "In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat." I told my boys that this scripture was in all Bibles-- Catholic and Protestant. We then looked up what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about this same scripture. The Catechism says:

"2427 Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence
work is a duty: "If any one will not work, let him not eat." Work honors the Creator's gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows
himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ"

The Church clearly teaches that work is a duty and that work can be a means of sanctification. The Church uses 2 Thessalonians 3:10 as a reference for that teaching.

I looked up the Protestant work ethic and found that the Protestant work ethic isn't even something accepted in all scholarly circles and some sources say it is a capitalist work ethic and later, it gets linked to Marxism, etc. Liberation theology was condemned by the Church because of the many references to Marxism. Is it a stretch to say that a belief in the Protestant work ethic is part of Liberation theology? I don't know, but I find the link interesting. I'm not a theologian nor am I a scholar. After our discussion, I just wanted to know what the Church taught about this scripture.

My answer? I believe what the Bible says and I believe what the Church teaches. Work is a duty and it can be a means of sanctification. This scripture is not linked to the Protestant work ethic (the sites I searched didn't even mention 2 Thessalonians 3:10 - one site mentioned Matthew 6:33). It is curious that this Protestant work ethic is linked to Luther and Weber. Luther believed in sola scriptura and I find it odd that a man who was against the Church because of its teaching on works would then turn around and develop a theory that working hard and aquiring worldly goods showed you had favor with God or was somehow linked to one's salvation.

Our founding fathers knew that men needed freedom to thrive. They knew that work was a duty. Charles Carroll, a Catholic signer of the Declaration, obviously realized this, as well. Captain John Smith had been captured for over a month before returning to the colony. His friends had been killed and he wasn't aure if he would suffer the same fate at the hands of the Indians. When he returned to the colony, it was in chaos. They had already lost too many colonists; the colony was failing after a winter of illness and famine. The colonists all had been working for the "common good". It failed. Not everyone able to work was working. Once Captain John Smith quoted this verse of the Bible, the colony turned around. They paid their debt to England and prospered.

Was Paul saying this scripture applied to those who were lame, sick or unable to work? Nope. He was speaking of those unwilling to work. He was not speaking of those unable to work. The Church tells us it is our duty to work, just as it also calls us to care for the sick, lame and poor. This scripture doesn't take away our obligation to help those in need.

Opus Dei (work of God) is a wonderful prelature of the Catholic Church. I am a cooperator in Opus Dei and have enjoyed the spirituality of Opus Dei for over 13 years now. Finding God in ordinary life. Finding God in our work-- no matter what station in life you are in, your work can be a means of sanctification. I wrote an article once on Scrubbing Toilets for God, where I go into a little bit of how we can make he ordinary life extraordinary by offering our work up to God.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

St. Francis de Sales

My day started with my husband reading an article about St. Francis de Sales. He said, "OH, look, he was born two months premature and nearly died, he has something in common with you!" (I was born two and a half months premature and given somewhere around a ten percent chance of living) Then my husband began laughing hysterically when he got to, "From an early age he was curious about the mysteries of the faith, thoughtful, yet quick tempered." Yes, I am very thoughtful ~laughter~ and........ quick tempered *sigh*.

I'm working on it! Unfortunately, as I have said in te past, dealing with the stresses of daily life can sometimes put me on edge and I snap. Not always and not on purpose, of course,

Today I managed to maintain my cool. I thought the day was going well with our catheter order reminder came and it had the correct items and numbers on the order! That is a miracle.... then I received the itinerary for Sean's brain MRI and they had him listed as getting it with contrast (he is allergic) and received another alcohol prep pad recall notice.

Here is hoping that tomorrow I can have another day of even-temperedness. While it is not funny, it is nice to know there are saints who suffered from the same flaws I deal with on a daily basis. There is hope for me! We are all called to holiness and learning about the saints helps m to realize that saints are people who had to overcome their weaknesses and sins!

Health note: Sean is still running a fever tonight. We know it isn't the flu or strep.... here is hoping tomorrow is fever-free.

Cracked Glass Card Tutorial Video

I own the rights, so I can share this video I made for a website:

Cracked Glass from Pattie Curran on Vimeo.

Batik Video Tutorial

Batik from Pattie Curran on Vimeo.

I'm sharing another sneak peek of a video I made for a wesbsite (I own the rights, so I can share!)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


After the March, I noticed that the March for Life wasn't reported on the mainstream news media. I wasn't surprised about that, of course. I was surprised to find out that 90% of Down Syndrome babies diagnosed prenatally are aborted. That is Eugenics. That is Genocide. Why doesn't the news report this stuff? See this article:

News Media Ignores March for Life

Having two children with genetic illnesses, I have given much thought to the practice of eugenics in our society. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was a big Eugenicist in her day. She wanted to "exterminate coloreds, the poor and the unfit." Have we really come any further than the bigots of her day? I don't think so-- we exterminate babies in the womb based on genetic information. Read the KIDS blog for more information on the prenatal killing of Down Syndrome kids.

Something that those practicing eugenics don't seem to realize is that none of us is genetically perfect. We all have mutations, polymorphisms and flaws. Most of us walking around are just lucky that our genetic defects aren't as prominent. We may have an increased risk for many types of cancer..... should we have been exterminated in our mother's womb because we MIGHT suffer and die from a rare cancer or illness?

Look at the picture of my three boys and tell me which one you think I should have gotten rid of. Can you tell by looking at them which of the three have two genetic illnesses? Can you see Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome or Mitochondrial Disease? Which one has a life not worth living because of genetic illnesses?

I think the news media ignores the Right to Life movement because it can't look at the ugliness of eugenics and it can't face that we are no better now than we were 100 years ago when Margaret Sanger preached her gospel of eugenic hatred....then Hitler did the same..... We are no better off than when Martin Luther King, Jr fought for civil rights for blacks. I wish that people could look at Planned Parenthood for what it really is-- and look at where it started. Its founder wanted to exterminate blacks! Now they build clinics in poor neighborhoods -- when have you see a PP clinic in a rich neighborhood?

In NYC, 41% of all black babies are aborted. 41%! We need to be the voice for the voiceless and we need to let people know the truth about the mission of Planned Parenthood.

Kindle Cover

This is too cool! I had to share. One of my friends made a cover for her Kindle. I don't have a Kindle, but have many friends who do!!!! This is just too cool.

Insert clever name here: Protecting My Christmas Present: " This year for Christmas, The Collar gave me a Kindle. I hadn't gotten a cover yet, so I started looking for one. I found t..."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

March for Life 2011

My first thought at 2:30 am on Monday was, "Who are these people and why are they so loud!?"  The noises coming from my basement didn't seem normal for that hour!   I don't think anyone of us slept for more than a few hours that night.  Between the Packers winning, Joseph's Steelers winning and the excitement for the March for Life building, sleep was tough.

The bus headed to DC at 4am.  Triad Students for Life fundraised for a year to get enough money to rent the bus.  Seats on the bus were free and we were blessed to have Hispanic members of our church there with us and several Protestant families, too.  We arrived at the Basilica at 10:30 and were excited to prepare for the annual NC Life Mass celebrated by the Bishops of Raleigh and Charlotte.  We looked around the Basilica a bit before heading up to the main church for the Mass.

Our bishop, Bishop Jugis, gave a wonderful homily.  He talked about the reason we are pro-life.  It is the love of Christ.  I wish I could have recorded it!  The teens we were with were absolutely precious.  As the two Bishops and other priests processed up to the altar, the Bishop of Raleigh saw Matthew in his Green Bay Packers jacket and said something to him about the Packers.  Bishop Jugis noticed the children, too.  The kids were so excited and the message was sent to our side of the pew like a game of telephone, "Did you see the bishops talk to Matthew!?  Did you see it!?  How cool is that!?"  What a neat thing for kids to be excited over. 

After Mass, we all ate our lunch on the stairs of the Basilica then headed to the Metro for the Mall.  We never expected we'd see our priest friends or the bishop after Mass.  We joined the March for Life somewhere in the middle.  After several minutes, we realized that Fr. John had seen Matthew and taken him to the side.  We made our way toward Matthew, and saw Bishop Jugis standing there.  Bishop Jugis loves these kids!  He was happy to let us get a picture with the kids.... and even remembered Triad Students for Life.  He spoke to them individually and asked them questions-- we could all see the love he had for each one of these kids!  Thank you, Fr. John, for finding Matthew!  The kids were so excited.  One of them said that this was the best pro-life experience of her life! 

We have a wonderful Bishop and I am so thankful that he and Fr. John have taken such an interest in the Triad Students for Life! 

I've seen news reports reporting that there were 300,000 - 400,000 marchers there yesterday.  Amazing.  Here are a few of our pictures.  The ones with the wrong date are from my friend's camera-- it keeps putting the wrong date. 

Our group in front of the Basilica

Some of the TSFL students with Bishop Jugis

Inside the Basilica before the NC Life Mass

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Amazing Things

My oldest is getting an award and I have to write a bio. He is pretty amazing. He will be 17 in a few weeks and was just elected to the board of directors of a non-profit organization. Not Shwachman-Diamond America, either! ha ha ha. Can you believe that!? He is serving on the board of Room at the Inn of the Carolinas. It is a volunteer position. We are so proud of him. Where did this child come from? {smile} I just added that to his section in the "My Family" portion of this blog.

We had a great time meeting with a priest friend of ours Friday for lunch. Matthew is planning another teen pro-life retreat for August and we are going to have the first Catholic Homeschool Prom. It is going to be wonderful. He also asked Matthew to altar serve at the Mass at the National Shrine on Monday. How cool is that? Who is this amazing child?

He is MY child... he is God's child. Through the years and all of my mistakes, God has filled in the gaps and made up for my shortcomings. God does amazing things. I am so proud of all my boys and the amazing things they have done for God, too. They are great kids.

So many people tell me, "I could never homeschool." I could never do it without God. With all of the hospitalizations and medical procedures, homeschooling has not been easy, but God truly does make up for all of our shortcomings -- IF we allow Him into our lives. If we put God first, that is.

It has been an amazing ride watching what my children have done as they have grown up. Today is the 38th anniversary of Roe v Wade. Today I am thankful for my children and being able to watch them grow. Today, I think of all those children killed in their mother's womb -- children of God who will never be on this earth. So sad.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Persuasive Compositions and Constitutional Books

My oldest is currently working on a five paragraph persuasive composition.  He chose the topic Why Christians have the right to display religious symbols in public places.  He started coming up with reasons, which then lead him to looking closer at our founding documents and the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.  Who were these men, what shaped their belief that we all have unalienable rights and the right to religious freedom? 

We have many books on the founding documents in our home.  We also have copies of the founding documents!  Matthew pulled these off the shelf to help with his composition:

  • Constitutional Law for Enlightened Citizens by Michael P. Farris, ESQ. 
  • The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence by Dennis Brindell Fradin
  • The Declaration of Independence: The Story behind America's founding document and the men who created it.
I thought I'd mention these books here.  I love the 56 Signers book.  It gives a detailed account of the life of each of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence.  If you have never read about these men, you should pick up a copy. 

Lists, Lists and more Lists

I'm a list maker. I have lists on all of my electronic devices, but my favorite lists are on post it notes. Throughout the day, I check off what I have accomplished and add more to the list. Each night, I rewrite the list, removing the items already "checked off". Just as the father in the original Cheaper by the Dozen play, I think that better organization is ALWAYS of general interest! Is there a patron saint of organization? If not, there should be!

Through Shwachman-Diamond America, we send out SDA Cares packages to Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome children in the hospital. This month, we have three SDS friends going through transplant. I was able to get the donated items packaged and ready to mail out. Please keep our friends in your prayers. We also have a young SDS friend who went through transplant last year who may need a second transplant. The doctors are going to try a boost of bone marrow stem cells to see if this helps, they will try this twice before deciding to go to transplant again. These are friends that we have met at camp or at the hospitals and we hold each of them close to our hearts.

In the moments I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the tasks yet to be done, I thought of our friends who are going through transplant. Sometimes, we need the reminder that in the middle of ordinary life and ordinary frustrations, we have a lot to be thankful for! We are abundantly blessed.

In other news, I'm busy transferring our family website over to this blog. I even enlisted the help of a designer... so hopefully I will soon have a great new design! I'm excited..... and then our family website can revert to the free site. It was only a few dollars a month, but I found I like this format much better. It is going to be SO cute! So, if you notice the current changes, they are all in preparation for the new and updated version.

Joseph is working through his confirmation classes and really enjoying it. This week he told me he really had fun reading the various readings and being able to vote on the OT reading for the Confirmation Mass. Next week they will vote on the other readings.... he is very cute!

Baseball season is upon us! Sean has his first practice session this Saturday! From here on out, it will be baseball, baseball, baseball!

A quote from my spiritual reading today:  "The children of God care about every soul there is, because every soul is important."  ~ St. Josemaria Escriva

Another Brain MRI Coming Up

I've been trying to move my family website here to my blog... bringing it all under one roof, so to speak. I was busy transferring some of the things I'd like to have here when the phone rang. The pediatrician was on the phone. I wasn't expecting a call. Well, not really.

I'm the eternal optimist. Last month, when she said she'd repeat sean's brain MRI if the tilt table test was normal, I heard what she said. The nurses had told me they felt it was normal even with him having a dizzy spell during the test. The blod pressure drop wasn't big enough to cause dizziness. When we saw the pediatrician a few weeks ago, she still had not received the tilt table results. I started to assume that there would be no reason to worry about repeating the brain MRI since I had not heard back yet. Then the phone rang.

I'll get a call when it is scheduled. She hopes we can get it before our visit with the Mito doctor in a few weeks. I understand why we have to do it.....I just don't want to do it. Here we go with another year started off with expensive tests. We will meet our out of pocket max by Febraury. C'est la vie.

We cannot just assume that all of his symptoms are due to the Mito. She explained that with his recent growth spurt, the lesion could also have grown. It has been three years since we checked it. To recap-- we found th brain lesion back in December of 2006 when Sean's migraines began to get worse and we ended up in the ER several times with him unable to stop throwing up. This was after being on meds for several years and seeming to have them under control. We saw a neurologist in Cincy who had him get an MRI done immediately. We received the results and the doctor wanted us to return for a repeat MRI with contrast and an MRA. We drove back to Cincy the day after Christmas. What a year that was-- this was the same time we found out Joseph looked liked he'd be needing a bone marrow transplant and they typed our entire family again. Put us in touch with the donor search coordinator who did th preliminary search that showed Joseph did not have a match in the donor registry.

I'm sure that the MRI will be just fine... but we can't just blame it all on Mito when we know he has a benign brain lesion (benign lesions can grow, too). I'm surprisingly not worried. More of a "we need to get this out of th eway, it is going to be fine, but then we can say this is most likely due to Mito."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Piano Competitions are Right Around the Corner!

Sean has made superiors at the UNCG District piano competitions several years in a row, which have allowed him to move up to the State piano competition.  He's bee practicing his pieces. He has only 6 weeks to perfect them before he competes! 

Minuet in D major Ludwig van Beethoven from Pattie Curran on Vimeo.

Etude of Contrary Motion Figures Donald Waxman from Pattie Curran on Vimeo.

Scherzo in D Minor from Pattie Curran on Vimeo.

If You Live Your Faith, You Will Be Mocked

The homily given by a visiting mission priest this week was great. I needed to hear him say, "If you live your faith, you will be mocked." After the week I'd had, wow! I needed that reminder.

I am not perfect, nor is my family perfect. We do try to live our Catholic faith, however. Why is it that when you tell some people that you pray, they assume you are condemning them to hell? Why is it when you refuse to participate in sinful behavior, people think you are condemning them to hell? I often tell people that I can curse like a sailor. I can. I didn't grow up on the Leave it to Beaver set and I was in the Army. I can string a few together. The difference is that I don't condone the sin and I don't consciously set out to curse. It happens sometimes. I slip.

This past week, I was attacked with such venom and vulgarity as I have never seen before. Not even when I went through basic training and Officer Candidate School in the Army. Again, my family life was rough, too. Brothers on drugs, in jail...... Eventually one brother committed suicide and one died of a drug overdose. The third one has done 3 different prison sentences in the state pen. I've heard curse words and been attacked before! This was BAD.

As I am an adult, I just removed friend's from Facebook. no problem, right? OH MY! This just increased the attacks. I'm still in shock that anyone would allow such vulgarity on their Facebook wall, condone it and then stick up for it! This even led to my being threatened with a lawsuit. All because I had the audacity to choose not to participate or see filth and vulgarity in my Facebook feed and chose not to have the temptation to go and read the nasty comments being written about me and to me. I had been threatened and much more.

I HAVE been praying for the parties involved and wondering why it was so crazy-making for them that I wanted no part of any of it. They attacked my Catholic faith..... One person said he wiped something with my faith and also said that he was glad I found comfort in my faith, much like some people found comfort in caries and leprechauns.

It was good to be reassured that we would be mocked if we try to live out faith. I have been praying for everyone involved. if we truly know the love of God and believe as the Bible tells us that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, then we would behave accordingly.

In this culture of Death, it is increasingly hard to live our faith without being mocked. We are made fun of on TV and in other media outlets. We do not think we are perfect-- far from it. We are Christians who struggle to keep God's Commandments in a world that laughs at us for doing so. Jesus, himself, was mocked. If they mocked the Lord, we should expect the same!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Scratch and Sniff Cards Tutorial Video

I love, love, LOVE scratch and sniff cards. You can make any scent you want using sugar-free kool aid. I hope you have lots of fun with my tutorial video. I made this last year for a website and luckily, I retain all rights to my video productions and creations and can share them with my blog readers! Happy crafting y'all! Enjoy!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dr. Harris Presents Grand Rounds at Wake Forest

Back in November, I completely forgot to post pictures of Dr. Richard Harris presenting Grand Rounds at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Shwachman-Diamond America paid for his expenses and helped to set up Grand Rounds. Dr. Harris did a great job. He presented on the bone marrow failure syndromes. The section on Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome included diagnosis, treatment and bone marrow transplant. I was really excited that we had over 80 physicians, medical students and residents in attendance. Shwachman-Diamond America has done some great things this past year.  We've supported research and education projects.  I'm very proud that I have been part of the board all these years. 

Paper Flowers

These flowers are so cool!  These are going to be on my tutorial website on January 18, 2011.  They are very easy to make. 

Twosday's Techniques

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Purse (Pocketbook) Card Tutorial Video

If you would like the template for this card, please send me an email and I will email it to you. I did this video for a website (I can share it because I own the rights to the video and my creations) and I wanted to share it with my blog readers. I love purse cards!

Purse Pocketbook Card from Pattie Curran on Vimeo.

A Patriot's History of the United States

Looking for a great history book? This is it! A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. I've been reading this 900 page book and absolutely loving it. It starts with Columbus' great discovery and goes through the War on Terror.

I bought it in celebration of the outcome of the November 2010 election.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Paper Bag Scrapbook Tutorial Video

Here is a video I made for a website and I wanted to share (I can do that since I own the rights to my video!) This is a fun way to make a memory book (scrapbook) from paper bags. The bags create cute pockets to hold memorabilia.

Have fun making a scrapbook with paper bags!

Paper Bag Scrapbook from Pattie Curran on Vimeo.