Friday, September 18, 2009

Music in Utero: The Smile of the Unborn

As both a pro-lifer and a musician, I find this article so beautiful. Here's a taste:

The footage was part of a recent PBS special, The Music Instinct:
Science & Song. The program was an exploration of, among other things,
music’s “biological, emotional and psychological impact on humans.”

Part of this “exploration” included how music affects babies. If we
are, as some scientists believe, “wired for music,” then babies are ideal test
subjects since their reactions are, by definition, instinctual.

Part of this research involved the effect of music on fetuses.
While we knew that mothers often sing to their unborn children, we weren’t sure
that the unborn child could hear them.

We are now. A segment of The Music Instinct featured Sheila C. Woodward of the University of Southern California, who has studied fetal responses to music. A camera and a microphone designed for underwater use were inserted into the uterus of a pregnant woman. And then Woodward sang.

The hydrophone picked up two sounds: the “whooshing” of the uterine
artery and the unmistakable sound of a woman singing a lullaby.

Then something extraordinary happened. Upon hearing the woman’s
voice, the unborn child smiled.

It was one of those moments that makes you catch your breath. The
full humanity of the fetus could not have been clearer if he had turned to the
camera and winked.

Apparently, fetal responses to music aren’t limited to smiling. They have been observed moving their hands in response to music, almost as if conducting. They have been soothed by Vivaldi and disturbed by loud tracks from Beethoven. They have even responded “rhythmically to rhythms tapped on [their] mother’s belly.”

Read the rest here. Thrilling...and powerful!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On Marriage

A few weeks ago, a lady I know who writes for the Herald News called me to get some quotes for an article. It came out today, discussing a current "debate" on the ideal marriageable age for Christians. Although I'm not sure I get the title, I think she did a fairly good job covering the contrasting viewpoints on the topic. One stance says couples should delay marriage until they have finished college, paid off the loans, and established a career. This mindset seems to me to be rather inspired by our me-in-control, individualistic culture. Of course, I've known wonderful people who were called to a longer season of singleness before marriage (evidenced by the fact that they didn't meet their spouse until they were a bit older). But when a couple in their early 20's has been together for some time, truly know one another, and know they want to spend the rest of their lives together, delaying the commitment by a few or several years can usher in plenty of negative effects. Especially when the pair is striving to remain pure. Love desires union, and particularly the full marital union of husband and wife. Don't presume that you are strong enough to indefinitely wait (the key word there is "indefinitely"). Wait, yes! But I have heard plenty of wise couples advise against a long engagement for this very reason — so the passions don't run away.

I think it's no coincidence that another marriage-themed article also appeared in today's paper: 'Playing house' not a good idea. Finally, a reality check! The news? It's not healthy for your relationship to cohabitate before marriage. I find it both sad and amusing when "new studies" come forth confirming what the Church (and common sense) have known and taught for, well, at least the last 2000 years.

How unfortunate for a generation to go such lengths to get rid of moral standards, only to realize that "old-fashioned" values aren't such a bad idea after all.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Prayers For My Friends

The father of some friends of mine (and volunteer catechists for the RE program that I coordinate) was found dead in his bed this morning. He was a devout Catholic husband, father of four (ages 24-4) and history teacher at the local Catholic high school. Please keep his soul and his family in your prayers in their time of grief!

Monday, September 07, 2009

From Sweet Sixteen... to Sweet Seventeen

Dear Veronica,

I can remember — though I was only four — that day you were born: how can it be 17 years ago? What colorful years they have been! Your creativity, personality, and spunk have etched your invaluable place as the third child in our family.

"Sugar and spice and everything nice" always makes me think of you. Your dramatic demeanor has always made it easy for your family to "roast" you, yet you are usually quite gracious as the subject of laughter. ;)

Persistant and devoted, your gifts and talents edify not only your family, but so many others as well.

"His Little Butterfy", how utterly special that from our long-watched cocoon should emerge a gorgeous butterfly — on the morning of your birthday!

You live life with a passion, and though the combination of our assertive personalities has induced "clashes" at times, I love you lots and am so grateful to call this graceful, taller-than-me 17-year-old my sister.

In the spirit of your patron Saint Therese, keep growing as His little flower!

With love,

P.S. Thanks for letting me have so much fun taking birthday photos of you!

(Explanation for readers... the first few photos were snapped at Grandpa and Grandma's farm in WI when we were there yesterday, the butterfly photo this morning, and the rest this afternoon after I did Veronica's hair to match her 1930's Belles on Their Toes-inspired homemade dress. Isn't she too charming? And so photogenic...I wanted to capture every pose!)

By the apple tree

About to leave on her daddy-daughter date this afternoon

* * *

Happy Birthday, dear Sister!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

I Love the Duggars!

In an era that devalues the gift of life, I think the joyful Duggar family is a wonderful witness to the reality of this gift. Parents Jim Bob and Michelle are always so upbeat and positive, and I can never get over how stunning and youthful Michelle looks — just pregnant with number 19, she is more gorgeous and glowing than ever! It's both sad and interesting how many people are derogative about their openness to life. And I'm sure these critics are the very same who claim to stand for "tolerance" and "choice". Why should they be mad about a large, happy, Christian, homeschooling family that chooses life (and that lives debt-free in a home they built themselves)? These well-rounded children will each bring a valuable contribution to society. I also love how beautifully and femininely the ladies of the Duggar family dress — Michelle and all 8 daughters! This family stands for the kind of beautiful values that are all-too-rare today. Though the Duggars are not Catholic, I think it's great how Jim Bob quotes Mother Teresa in this recent video announcing baby #19:

And there are some very sweet photos in this one. See what I mean about a lovely mama? (At 42, she hardly looks older than her daughter-in-law!)

May the Lord continue to bless this family, and may their courageous witness inspire many to embrace the gift of life.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Thank you all for your prayers! I am doing better. I'd like to share a quote that was timely and encouraging...

Just as the butterfly must wait upon its maker to be transformed, so must we. God is His infinite wisdom has a sovereign and individual plan for the transformation of our hearts and minds. Psalm 27:14 says "Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!" Being transformed is a process, so do not loose heart. "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus."

~from a past issue of the Girlhood Home Companion (Volume 1, Issue 12)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


I know my readers are pray-ers (if anyone is left reading this neglected blog by now), and I'm having an extraordinarily rough day, so could I please petition for your prayers for this tired soul? I can't go into all the detail, but a boost of grace would be a big help. Thank you so much.