Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Feeling Guilty

This photography studio that does pics of babies at home called and offered to take pics of Nicolas and were giving us one free, no obligation to buy. I really hate that and usually would say no, because I know I'd feel pressured into buying at least some of the pictures and that they would be expensive. Well, more expensive than ordinary photos anyway.

So the guy came today with the pics to view and of course was selling them either individually or in three packages. The least expensive was $125 and included all the photos (13 5x7's) plus the negatives. The idea that the negatives came with it interested me, since then I could just go and get more photos, but honestly, I really didn't need all those pictures of the same child on the same day. I could have had the two nicest plus the one free one for $40 and I think that would have been enough. Maybe I should have gone with that. But I bought the $125 package which ended up being almost $150 with the taxes.

Now I feel really bad. I would definitely pay money for pictures, if there was some special reason to get pictures done like that, like a wedding or something. But I've never paid lots of money for good pictures for just the birth of a baby. Thing is, I happen to know personally a few people that would dearly love to have an extra $125 a month. People that barely make more than that in a month to pay for all their needs. And here I am buying baby pics for that price. My parents would never have been able to afford something like that. I guess what I am saying is that I feel guilty because we are? We can pay that amount for something worthwhile, but we definitely should be choosey about it. It's not like we are rich either, (not in first-world standards anyway). Now what am I going to do with these pictures? Store them away somewhere?

The only thing that makes me feel better is the idea that I can give these pics away, and they can be gifts for grandparents and godparents.

Maybe I should have taken the three nicest for $40 and given the rest to charity? Or at least spent it on something useful like groceries or activities?
















































































































Friday, March 24, 2006

Jonathan Cheechoo

Article on Jonathan Cheechoo, breaking records

I did not know Victor Linklator was Jonathan's uncle. Is there no end of people in Moose Factory that Victor is related to? :) It seems that he is related to everyone, ha ha. Big family.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pinata time again

March 30th is Maryssa's birthday, and I am now in the middle of making yet another pinata, a horse this time.

You can see other pinatas that I have made here and here.

And here is the last one I made, (for Gabriel in October) which is not on the list:



When I started making pinatas for birthdays, I only had two children. Now I have five. And two of them have birthdays about a month apart, and the other three are also spaced out about a month. Which means that at least twice in a year, there is a pinata/birthday party rush, no sooner is one done than the next one is to be started... Well, I can't say I've had the three in a row rush yet, since Nicolas was just born, and I probably won't make him a pinata this year either, he's too young (and I'm too tired/lazy), but two in a row is work, and I've got 5 kids to take care of while I try to plan these things. So it's one of those things, that once I've started it, I love it, but it takes so much energy that I dread starting. (Typical artistic personality, if you are artisitic, you know what it is...) No wonder I never paint anymore.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The boys' room is close to being completed

When we first moved here from Prince George, the poor boys had to sleep outside, there was so much stuff in the place that was to be their room. (I say poor boys, but they probably thought it was fun.) Eventually, we unpacked anough stuff (I unpacked enough stuff) so that they could actually get to their bed and sleep in it. Since then, stuff has been slowly leaving their room and been put elsewhere. (A lot of it is now in boxes on Marc's side of the room, waiting for him to deal with it... among others, some still unopened mail from over 10 years ago!!!) Now, there is nothing in their room that isn't theirs... well except for all the tools and paint and wood scraps and... you get the picture, not much of a room yet, but the walls are up, the electricity is done, and all that is needed are a few more touchups of plaster, a coat of primer and some paint. Oh, and curtains and all the rest of the decoration stuff.

I have to congratulate Marc for a great job. He had to tear down the half-wall that was there, put in a closet and put up a whole new wall with door. The closet has lots of space and shelves on either end, and he is even putting shelves on the outside end of the closet, (otherwise it would just have been wasted space between the closet and the door). It is going to look great when it is done. (And the decorating talents of yours truly have come into play.) But of course decorating talents are worth nothing is what is underneath is crap, which it is not. Way to go Marc!

I am definitely looking forward to that being done, because a lot of the mess in the playroom will also be taken care of. Books can be put back on bookshelves, and the new wall painted,... etc. In fact I think we'll just have to re-paint the whole thing again.

Now that I have finished talking about it, I must go and finish painting the closet in the boys' room so we can finally use it. (And get their clothes out of Gabriel's miniature closet). Ta, ta, see you later, hasta la vista...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

All ready for Lent

Check out my Yahoo! avatar on the right there, she's all dressed in black for repentance and purple for Lent... (Just thought I'd point that out, since it's probably not obvious.) If they could do a Church background, that would be awesome, or some kind of praying position, but that's probably not "politically correct." It makes me feel just slightly better to see that the Jews get equal treatment in that, no synagogues in sight, not even in the Kwanzaa or Hanukkah sections.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The joys of Pottie Training

Me: (in disapproving voice) "Gabriel! Did you do caca in your pants again?"
Gabriel: "No."
Me: "Then how come I'm smelling caca?"
Gabriel: "Your nose not good."

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!!

We are going to be celebrating Saint Patrick's Day today. (I'll make a little exception to the normal Lenten fast... but we'll still try to have a meat-less Friday, I say try because at school, they probably get meat in the hot meals... here at home it'll be meat-less)

Sunday in Montreal there will be a Saint Patrick's Day Parade... Might be nice to go see that. Cecil and Jane will be in Montreal on the weekend too.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Diet vs Lifestyle change

TO COUNT, OR NOT TO COUNT? (CALORIES)

This was me, in April of 2000, about a month after my third child was born. I lost about five pounds the next month, and then nothing. I started running that summer, and only managed to lose about 5 more pounds. I hadn't, as yet, made a change in my eating habits.

My husband bought me a book on the Montignac method of losing weight. Which I read over half-way through (and have yet to finish, maybe some day?). But that gave me the boost I needed to start changing my eating habits.

There are myths going around about fat people and diets and losing weight.

MYTH NUMBER ONE
FAT PEOPLE EAT TOO MUCH, THAT IS WHY THEY ARE FAT.

Let's bust that one right away. Fat people do not eat more than regular people, in fact, quite often they eat LESS than regular people. It is not how MUCH you eat that matters. It is WHAT you eat that matters.

MYTH NUMBER TWO
BEING FAT IS HEREDITARY

Fat people have fat kids, my parents are over-weight, that is why I am overweight. Therefore obesity is genetic. Right?

Wrong. Genetics might help a little bit, as in where on your body you put on the weight and how your metabolism works etc, but it is WHAT you eat that makes you fat. Not genetics. Children have a tendancy to eat the same
foods as their parents. If your parents are overweight and you are eating the same foods they eat, chances are you will be overweight too. Chances are, your children will eventually be overweight as well.

MYTH NUMBER THREE
IF I EAT LESS I WILL LOSE WEIGHT (CALORIE-COUNTING)

If you are going to eat less calories, and to do so, you switch to foods that fill you up but have less calories, then that might work. If you just eat less of the same foods you have always eaten, and you are still feeling hungry after, this won't work. You might initially lose weight, but you will gain it all back once you go back to eating more. That is because your body thinks it is starving and it will hang on to anything you give it to counter the starving. Your body will be storing fat instead of getting rid of it. You will most likely end up gaining more pounds.

WHAT WORKED FOR ME

Now that we've busted three common myths. I'm going to tell you what worked for me. I lost 25 pounds. That's probably not a lot compared to some people, but that was about how much I need
ed to lose to be in shape again.

You need to cut down on sugar, not just fat. When refined sugar (white sugar) enters the body, your glycimique levels rise, and eventually, this causes you to store fat. (Montignac explains how this happens in his books, if you want the details, check him out.) Starchy foods in the body break down into sugar and cause the same effect. Which means you need to cut down on foods like potatoes and rice as well.

I put whole wheat flour in everything, from pies to cakes to muffins. I never use white flour for anything anymore. When I buy bread, I check the label to make sure that the only flour in there is whole grain flour. Multi-grain does not equal whole grain. Check the label. Extra bran, does not equal whole-grain, again, check the label. I make my own cakes and muffins, because you can't find those in a supermarket without white flour. I cut the sugar, or even better use fructose instead of regular sugar and use only half or 2/3 of what the recipe calls for. I substitute apple sauce for oil/butter/margarine. Some of you may think you need to do half and half, but you can choose to not use any butter/margarine at all. It works just as well. Brown sugar is also a healthier option to white sugar, as are honey and maple syrup.

A healthy lifestyle starts at the supermarket. I never buy what I don't want tempting me around the house. Not even for my kids. A change of lifestyle is not just for me, it is also for my children. The tendancy towards obesity starts young. They may not start to store fat right away, but what they eat while they are young will make a huge difference later on, in their weigh
t. They have to get used to eating right while they are young.

Eating healthy doesn't mean depriving oneself of yummy foods. Healthier, just as yummy options exist. I have a sweet tooth, so I try to make sure I have a lot of different fruits (which I love) around the house. You can get jam sweetened with grape juice instead of sugar, (and it is even tastier than the kind sweetened with sugar in my opinion.) Buy low-fat yogourt for deserts instead of puddings and other sweets. You can buy the plain kind and sweeten it with the above-mentioned jam, maple syrup (delicious), or even a touch of brown sugar. (Or eat it plain) Or you can get the kind sweetened with something besides sugar.

Always check the labels. Diet foods might have less fat, but they often have MORE sugar. I worry more about the sugar content than the fat content. Some fats are good for you. And if you stay away from refined and starchy foods, the good fat just passes through your body anyway, instead of sticking. All processed (refined) foods are to be avoided. They do nothing for your body, they only serve to keep you fat.

Chocolate is NOT bad for you. It is the sugar added to the chocolate that is bad for you. Chocolate should be 70% cacao minimum. Milk chocolate is to be avoided. Not all chocolate is the same. I have eaten 70% cacao chocolate that is bitter, and I have have eaten some that aren't. You h
ave to taste the different brands and see. Lindt makes 70% cacao chocolate that is bitter. Désir Noir by Cémoi makes 72% cacao chocolate that is scrumptious. (Of course I have never liked milk chocolate to begin with, so for some dark chocolate might be an aquired taste... but it is worth it. Chocolate is actually GOOD for you.)

Get used to not putting sugar in tea and coffee. Reduce your sugar intake in other areas. Go slowly if you have to, but start reducing it now. It has been about 5 years now, since I started reducing my sugar intake and I don't even get cravings for sugar anymore. Sugar and other refined foods act similar to a drug on your body, you have to wean yourself from them. If I eat something really sweet like a donut now, I feel yucky afterwards. It's when you get over that addiction, and get used to eating better that you realize just how bad it was for you when you don't feel quite right after eating even just a small quantity. I find I don't crave sweets anymore. I crave fruits now when I have that "I gotta munch on something" attack. I even crave vegetables when I eat meals. Who'd have thunk? Rice and meat just seems so bland and missing something. I like to stir-fry veggies (with lots of onions for taste). Yum!

Instead of putting ketchup and barbecue sauce into meatloaf, I use V8 juice. (or the equivalent - again, check the label, some store brands add sugar, V8 has no sugar added. President's Choice now h
as the equivalent with no sugar added either.) That way, not only are you cutting out the processed foods from your meatloaf, you are adding VEGGIES!!! (Shhh, don't tell your kids, they won't notice.)

All that is darn good for you, but I found I wasn't losing weight very quickly. It isn't until I tried eating a huge breakfast every day for a couple of months at the end of 2004, that I lost the last 15 pounds that I wanted to loose. I started eating two eggs, 4 pieces of whole wheat toast, a fruit, orange juice and/or water, and yogourt for breakfast everyday. That filled me up so I was barely hungry for the rest of the day. Eggs have lots of protein, which you need to start the day. Eat more at breakfast, and you will automatically eat less (and snack less) the rest of the day. Supper should be the smallest meal of the day and breakfast should be the biggest.
You should also avoid eating too much bread the rest of the day. I felt like I suddenly melted. It didn't happen right away in the first month, I think my body was probably adjusting to the new regime first, but in the second month, my body practically melted!

And here I am in April of 2005, 25 pounds lighter, and much healthier. As I have recently mentioned, I got pregnant again, (was actually pregnant in this picture) and gained weight again, which I am losing, slowly but surely, (10 pounds already - but the initial 5 hardly counts, I always lose five pounds about a month or two after giving birth, it's the rest that's harder to lose) and once the baby gets older, it'll probably go a bit faster.

I NEVER count calories. I eat until I am full. I just make sure what I'm eating is good for me (most of the time - one CAN cheat every once in awhile...).

From Zenit - Unbelief and Bad Belief

Unbelief and Bad Belief
Vatican Document Weighs How to Evangelize Culture

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Indifference or hostility to religion is a well-established phenomenon in many Western countries. (My note: No kidding! Really? I hadn't noticed.) Recent events such as the Mohammed cartoon controversy point to the serious consequences that follow when secular society is unable to appreciate religious sensibilities, giving rise to needless offense. (And when it is someone you supposedly love, the religious insensibility seems to double... it's all part of the be nice and polite to strangers but take it out on friends and family, they can take it after all, regime. Kind of like in that e-mail that circulates about how if we accidently bump into a stranger on the street, both parties apologize profusely, but if it happens at home, we get mad...)

In this context a document made available a short while ago on the Vatican's Web site merits a closer look. "The Christian Faith at the Dawn of the New Millennium and the Challenge of Unbelief and Religious Indifference" contains the conclusions of the March 2004 plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

To prepare for the meeting, the council gathered information from countries around the world. The answers provided give an overview of some of the main characteristics of secularization.

The document starts by noting the loss of faith in today's world. "There is a rupture in the handing on the faith, intimately linked to the process of abandonment of a popular culture long attached to and impregnated by Christianity," the introduction states. The weakening of this popular religious culture brings with it serious consequences in terms of how people think, behave and judge.

"The Church today is confronted more by indifference and practical unbelief than with atheism," the pontifical council commented. With few exceptions, governments no longer publicly affirm atheism.

Yet while the number of regimes marked by an atheistic political system has declined, a certain cultural hostility against religions has spread. This is palpable in some sectors of the media and is directed against Christianity, particularly Catholicism, the document observed. (my note: particulary Catholicism and any fundamental Christian group, you know, the openly pro-life, conservative ones...)

The threat here is more subtle. "It is a veritable sickness of the soul which induces to live 'as though God did not exist,' a neo-paganism that idolizes material goods, the achievements of work, and the fruits of power," the pontifical council noted. This leads to what the document terms as "homo indifferens," and often the search for happiness is reduced to a desire for material prosperity and the gratification of sexual impulses. (My note: In other words, Sex has become the new God. You see it everywhere, from billboards to magazines, from ads in newspapers to TV shows. How to get more of it, spice it up, do it differently, give and get more pleasure, etc, etc,... It's all so shallow. Good sex has nothing to do with how many times you do it, where you do it, in what position you do it, etc. It's all about respecting and loving the person you do it with. It's all about giving and receiving your whole selves. It's all about accepting everything about the next person, including their fertility. If you don't have this then sex won't be "good" for very long...)

Causes of unbelief

The document notes that there are old and new causes behind the loss of religious belief. Drawing, in part, on the analysis made in the Second Vatican Council's pastoral constitution, "Gaudium et Spes," the Pontifical Council for Culture identifies some of the main factors.

-- The presumptions of modern science. The vision of the world without any reference to God, that rejects his existence on the basis of scientific principles, has become widespread and commonplace.

-- Man as the center of the universe. Western culture is permeated by a form of subjectivism that professes the absolute subjectivity of the individual and denies the existence of objective truths or values. This exaltation of the individual means that the Church is no longer accepted as a doctrinal and moral authority.

-- The problem of evil. "The mystery of evil has been and always will be a scandal for intelligent man, and only the light of Christ crucified and glorified can fully reveal and express it," the Pontifical Council for Culture notes. Today, the document adds, awareness of the presence of evil is amplified through the power of the mass media.

-- The limitations of Christians and the Church. Negative or unpleasant experiences, or scandals caused by priests, can estrange some people from the Church.

-- Handing on the faith. Changes in the family and Catholic schools make the transmission of the faith to new generations more difficult. The power of the mass media also undermines traditional cultural practices in the area of religion.

-- Secularization. Many believers follow a lifestyle in which God or religion is of little importance.

Changes in sexual morality have also had negative effects for the life of faith, the document notes.

Believing without belonging

Nevertheless, it is wrong to think that this means religion ceases to have a role, the pontifical council contends. After an initial rejection of religion there is a sort of reaction, by a portion of the population at least, and people look once more for spiritual sustenance. But this search is no longer directed through the established churches or by means of traditional forms of worship.

What ensues is a search "for an experience which is entirely individual, autonomous and guided by one's own subjectivity." This sort of instinctive religiosity, the pontifical council explains, is based more on emotions than on doctrine and is expressed without reference to a personal God. The document describes it as "believing without belonging."

Modern culture is, therefore, characterized by a twofold phenomenon: "unbelief and bad belief." Both of them have in common a desire for autonomy. The Pontifical Council for Culture also identifies a number of other characteristics of these new forms of belief.

-- It is a romantic form of religion, a religion of the spirit and of the self which has its roots in the crisis of the subject who is more and more narcissistic, and rejects all historical and objective elements. This do-it-yourself religion leads people to create a new image of God at different stages of their lives, according to the needs they perceive.

-- It is a strongly subjective religion, where the individual is under no obligation to give an account of his reasons or behavior.

-- It is an adherence to a God who often has no face or personal characteristics. God is often seen more as a force or superior transcendent being, but not as a Father. In some circles this leads to a return of pantheism.

-- It is a religion in which there is a lack of interest for the question of the truth. For many, truth has a negative connotation, associated with concepts such as "dogmatism, intolerance, imposition."

Overcoming obstacles

The Pontifical Council for Culture went on to propose a number of ways to tackle the problems outlined.

-- Dialogue, which is personal, patient, respectful, loving, sustained by prayer. This dialogue can be based both on fundamental questions of human life -- the meaning of death, religious experience, the inner freedom of the human person -- and on major social themes, such as education of the young, poverty, human rights, religious liberty and bioethics.

-- Evangelization of culture. This can be done in a multiplicity of ways: a public witness, such as the World Youth Days; city missions that carry the Church out into the marketplace; the work of Christian movements and associations in the public sphere and the mass media; the cooperation of the Church with organizations of nonbelievers to do things that are good in themselves; the promotion of public events on cultural themes. In general, this evangelization needs to ensure the presence of the Church in the public arena, which will help bridge the gap between the spiritual realm and daily life.

-- Help families transmit the faith. This can be started as part of the assistance offered to couples during their preparation for marriage. Once the couple marry and have children they need to ensure that their faith is lived out in concrete ways, such as the proper celebration of religious feasts, family prayer and visits to churches. Through these means parents can help build up solid roots of faith in their children.

-- Improve religious education. This needs to be done both at parish level and in religious schools.

-- Giving witness of Christian charity, by means of forgiveness and fraternal love.

Toward the end the document takes note of the need to convince nonbelievers that they will only find the fullness of their humanity in Christ, true God and true man. A task that could test the faith of any believer.
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From Zenit - The Modern Aftermath of the Crusades

Modern Aftermath of the Crusades
Robert Spencer on the Battles Still Being Waged

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The Crusades may be causing more devastation today than they ever did in the three centuries when most of them were fought, according to one expert.

Robert Spencer, author of "Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)" (Regnery), claims that the damage is not in terms of lives lost and property destroyed but is a more subtle destruction.

Spencer shared with ZENIT how false ideas about the Crusades are being used by extremists to foment hostility to the West today.

Q: The Crusades are often portrayed as a militarily offensive venture. Were they?

Spencer: No. Pope Urban II, who called for the First Crusade at the Council of Clermont in 1095, was calling for a defensive action -- one that was long overdue.

As he explained, he was calling the Crusade because without any defensive action, "the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked" by the Turks and other Muslim forces.

"For, as most of you have heard, the Turks and Arabs have attacked them and have conquered the territory of Romania [the Greek empire] as far west as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont, which is called the Arm of St. George," Pope Urban II said in his address. "They have occupied more and more of the lands of those Christians, and have overcome them in seven battles. They have killed and captured many, and have destroyed the churches and devastated the empire.

"If you permit them to continue thus for a while with impunity, the faithful of God will be much more widely attacked by them."

He was right. Jihad warfare had from the seventh century to the time of Pope Urban conquered and Islamized what had been over half of Christendom. There had been no response from the Christian world until the Crusades.

Q: What are some popular misconceptions about the Crusades?

Spencer: One of the most common is the idea that the Crusades were an unprovoked attack by Europe against the Islamic world.

In fact, the conquest of Jerusalem in 638 stood at the beginning of centuries of Muslim aggression, and Christians in the Holy Land faced an escalating spiral of persecution.

Early in the eighth century 60 Christian pilgrims from Amorium were crucified; around the same time the Muslim governor of Caesarea seized a group of pilgrims from Iconium and had them all executed as spies -- except for a small number who converted to Islam.

Muslims also demanded money from pilgrims, threatening to ransack the Church of the Resurrection if they didn't pay.

Later in the eighth century, a Muslim ruler banned displays of the cross in Jerusalem. He also increased the tax on non-Muslims -- jizya -- that Christians had to pay and forbade Christians to engage in religious instruction of their own children and fellow believers.

Early in the ninth century the persecutions grew so severe that large numbers of Christians fled for Constantinople and other Christian cities. In 937, Muslims went on a rampage in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, plundering and destroying the Church of Calvary and the Church of the Resurrection.

In 1004, the Fatimid Caliph, Abu 'Ali al-Mansur al-Hakim, ordered the destruction of churches, the burning of crosses, and the seizure of church property. Over the next 10 years 30,000 churches were destroyed, and untold numbers of Christians converted to Islam simply to save their lives.

In 1009, al-Hakim commanded that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem be destroyed, along with several other churches, including the Church of the Resurrection. In 1056, the Muslims expelled 300 Christians from Jerusalem and forbade European Christians from entering the rebuilt Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

When the Seljuk Turks took Jerusalem in 1077, the Seljuk Emir Atsiz bin Uwaq promised not to harm the inhabitants, but once his men had entered the city, they murdered 3,000 people.

Another common misconception is that the Crusades were fought to convert Muslims to Christianity by force. Glaringly absent from every report about Pope Urban's address at the Council of Claremont is any command to the Crusaders to convert Muslims.

It was not until over 100 years after the First Crusade, in the 13th century, that European Christians made any organized attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity, when the Franciscans began missionary work among Muslims in lands held by the Crusaders. This effort was largely unsuccessful.

Yet another misconception revolves around the Crusaders' bloody sack of Jerusalem in 1099.

The capture of Jerusalem is often portrayed as unique in medieval history, and as the cause of Muslim mistrust of the West. It might be more accurate to say that it was the start of a millennium of anti-Western grievance mongering and propaganda.

The Crusaders' sack of Jerusalem was a heinous crime -- particularly in light of the religious and moral principles they professed to uphold. However, by the military standards of the day, it was not actually anything out of the ordinary.

In those days, it was a generally accepted principle of warfare that if a city under siege resisted capture, it could be sacked, and while if it did not resist, mercy would be shown. It is a matter of record that Muslim armies frequently behaved in exactly the same way when entering a conquered city.

This is not to excuse the Crusaders' conduct by pointing to similar actions. One atrocity does not excuse another. But it does illustrate that the Crusaders' behavior in Jerusalem was consistent with that of other armies of the period -- since all states subscribed to the same notions of siege and resistance.

In 1148, Muslim commander Nur ed-Din did not hesitate to order the killing of every Christian in Aleppo. In 1268, when the jihad forces of the Mamluk Sultan Baybars took Antioch from the Crusaders, Baybars was annoyed to find that the Crusader ruler had already left the city -- so he wrote to him bragging of his massacres of Christians.

Most notorious of all may be the jihadists' entry into Constantinople on May 29, 1453, when they, according to historian Steven Runciman, "slew everyone that they met in the streets, men, women and children without discrimination."

Finally, it is a misconception that Pope John Paul II apologized for the Crusades. He did not.

There is no doubt that the belief that Pope John Paul II apologized for the Crusades is widespread. When he died, the Washington Post reminded its readers "during his long reign, Pope John Paul II apologized to Muslims for the Crusades, to Jews for anti-Semitism, to Orthodox Christians for the sacking of Constantinople, to Italians for the Vatican's associations with the Mafia and to scientists for the persecution of Galileo."

However, John Paul II never actually apologized for the Crusades. The closest he came was on March 12, 2000, the "Day of Pardon."

During his homily he said: "We cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken toward the followers of other religions."

This is hardly a clear apology for the Crusades.

Q: How have Muslims perceived the Crusades then and now?

Spencer: For centuries, when the Ottoman Empire was thriving, the Crusades were not a preoccupation of the Islamic world. They were, after all, failures from a Western standpoint.

However, with the decline of the military power and unity of the Islamic world, and the concomitant rise of the West, they have become a focal point of Muslim resentment of perceived Western encroachment and exploitation.

Q: To what extent are false ideas about the Crusades being used by extremists to foment hostility to the West today?

Spencer: The Crusades may be causing more devastation today than they ever did in the three centuries when most of them were fought -- but not in terms of lives lost and property destroyed. Today's is a more subtle destruction.

The Crusades have become a cardinal sin not only of the Catholic Church but also of the Western world in general.

They are Exhibit A for the case that the current strife between the Muslim world and Western, post-Christian civilization is ultimately the responsibility of the West, which has provoked, exploited, and brutalized Muslims ever since the first Frankish warriors entered Jerusalem.

Osama bin Laden has spoken of his organization not as al-Qaida but of a "World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders," and called in a fatwa for "jihad against Jews and Crusaders."

Such usage is widespread. On November 8, 2002 -- shortly before the beginning of the Iraqi war that toppled Saddam Hussein -- Sheikh Bakr Abed Al-Razzaq Al-Samaraai preached in Baghdad's Mother of All Battles mosque about "this difficult hour in which the Islamic nation [is] experiencing, an hour in which it faces the challenge of [forces] of disbelief of infidels, Jews, crusaders, Americans and Britons."

Similarly, when Islamic jihadists bombed the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in December 2004, they explained that the attack was part of larger plan to strike back at "Crusaders": "This operation comes as part of several operations that are organized and planned by al-Qaida as part of the battle against the crusaders and the Jews, as well as part of the plan to force the unbelievers to leave the Arabian Peninsula," the jihadists said in a statement.

They also said that jihad warriors "managed to enter one of the crusaders' big castles in the Arabian Peninsula and managed to enter the American consulate in Jeddah, in which they control and run the country."

In the face of this, Westerners should not be embarrassed by the Crusades. It's time to say, "enough," and teach our children to take pride in their own heritage.

They should know that they have a culture and a history of which they can and should be grateful; that they are not the children and grandchildren of oppressors and villains; and that their homes and families are worth defending against those who want to take them away, and are willing to kill to do so.
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Spring and Maple Syrup

Today we are going to a Cabane à Sucre. It's sugaring-off time again!!! Spring is definitely in the air... it's been raining a lot recently and most of the snow is now gone. The pond, which just last week was frozen, now has a lot of water on top of what is left of the ice.

We are going to the maple hut Au Pain de Sucre, here in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, with Les Relevailles, a breast-feeding support group for Saint-Jean, which I just recently joined.

Sugaring-off season is always a sure sign of spring. Especially in this part of the province. By April, the snow will be completely gone and the tulips will probably already be coming out.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Look who's three months old!


Nicolas just turned three months yesterday. He giggles now and he coos. He is especially happy in the mornings. He sleeps well at night too. He only gets up once usually, at around 4:00 or so.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Feminism, where are we?

I was reading in the paper the other day, an article on feminism (actually it was a whole segment of the paper, with nothing but articles on that subject). It was divied into views from different women, from the most radical to the most conservative. (The most conservative being a woman who had given up her career to be a stay-at-home mom). The most radical woman thought most women were just uneducated or unaware about the issues. For instance, those who parade around in minis and tight clothing, they're just unaware that you don't have to be a piece of meat, that you don't have to dress to seduce. I have to agree on that. (That you don't have to dress like a piece of meat.) But she also thought that those who chose to stay at home were just not thinking straight either. Noone should have to be dependant on another for their source of income according to her. Those that choose to do so are simply not choosing with enlightened minds.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but I would not change being a stay-at-home mom for anything. Why should I pay anyone else to watch my kids. (Especially since, right now, any job I could get would only just pay for the babysitter and there wouldn't be anything left afterwards anyway.) I happen to think that I am the best person to watch my children. I happen to think that they will be happier, more confident people for having been with me instead of dumped off at a daycare where they would never get the kind of attention they get at home. There is also a little thing in a couple that is called trust. I trust my husband not to suddenly drop me and go off with some other lady leaving me and the children to suddenly fend for oursleves. Even if that were to happen, or if he were to die, I would simply go back to school, and get myself a job in something that would pay enough to support five children. I would manage. I have friends and family who I know would be there to support me if I needed it. Plus he would be obliged to pay child-support anyway. And at the very limit, there is welfare too. Someone has to watch the children. Just because I'm not paid to do it, doesn't make my job less important. In fact, I can't think of any job more important than that of caring for our children.

Speaking of being paid for caring for my own children,... here in Quebec there is a program that pretty much subsidizes child care for all working parents. So if you are a working mom, you get money to spend on child-care from the government. A lot of people think that stay-at-home moms should also get the same amount. If the government is going to pay for daycares to care for children, why won't it pay for moms to care for their own children? It only makes sense. In fact, in paying for daycare for working moms only, the governement is discriminating against those who choose to stay at home. It is sending out the message that choosing to stay at home with one's children has much less value in their eyes than going out to work. This is the society we live in today. To be a successful career person is the only thing of value. Anything else is of little value.

I went to a breast-feeding support group the other day, and there they were signing a petition to ask the government to give the same amount of money to stay-at-home moms. I definitely signed it.

Simon says...

Earlier today the children were playing "Simon Says". Just now, Gabriel (3 years) came to me, asking to go to bed. (Yes! I actually have a child who asks to go to bed!) When I wasn't moving right away to put him to bed, (I wanted to finish reading an article first), and after having asked a couple of times already, Gabriel finally stared me in the eyes and with the voice of one who has authority he said: "Simon says 'You go put me bed!'"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Saint John Bosco


I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Saint John Bosco. When I was little his story was one of my favourite stories of lives of the saints. When I went to Paraguay in 1993 with Agapê-Mission, I just happened to opt for volunteering with a home for street kids, run by (who else but) Salesians. That kind of did it for me. That's when he really began to stand out among other saints in my mind. Not that he was better than them, just that his life seemed to speak more to me as a person than some of the others. I felt that he could have been a friend. The more I read up on him, the more I found him interesting. (And I haven't even done much reading up on him in past years, I think it is high time I did some more reading.) My oldest son is named for him. I just received the Mothering with Grace E-zine (for which you can sign up here.) And in it was a link to something written by Saint John Bosco on gentle parenting. (Non-violent). I have to say, that soft spot in my heart has grown even softer...

Letter from Saint John Bosco

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

Yesterday was Mardi Gras, and the kids all made "carnival" masks, we had pancakes and I made horribly sweet cupcakes and filled them with whatever I could find, raisins, butterscotch chips, liqueur de cassis, etc... they were sinful... and it would have been really difficult to eat more than one of them...

I think we are ready for Lent now. Am going to hang up my homemade stations of the cross, and I am hoping to get to an Ash Wednesday service today. Now I have to get off the computer. I'm going to try spending my time on more useful things, like ironing my husband's shirts. (There is a mountain of them in Gabriel's room right now...)