Saturday, December 31, 2011

Our 2011 in Review

New Year's Eve has been a bit of a non-starter for me the past several years. Perhaps either being pregnant or nursing and, as such, being exhausted and unable to imbibe could have played a part. I think it's also the fact that the years seem to run together any more. I've been trying to get through the days and the years just seem to pass. Still, I want to concentrate on being thankful for all things, even the difficult ones, since they are all gifts. We aren't always happy but we are always blessed.

So, let's see how the year shaped up.

Entering 2011, we cheered on our Steelers

and had lots of fun in the snow!

We did the usual trek to Hershey for Easter Saturday then were blessed to meet the Bishop after Mass on Sunday. What a great experience! Definitely not going to Hershey this year but perhaps the Bishop has a special blessing for someone who is 39 weeks pregnant?

May was very busy - Sil "graduated" kindergarten, Pat had a birthday, we visited the zoo, had the parade/picnic for Memorial Day. Whew, you'd think that would have worn me out.

But, no, June was the craziest month ever. We made our 4-day trip to Georgia (yes, we drove) and, just for fun, stopped in Kentucky and Tennessee on the way home. While visiting Pat's family, we went to the Georgia Aquarium.
On the way home, we went to Lookout Mountain in Tennessee. The kids who freak out on the Incline had no problem with this, go figure.
Later that month we went to Central PA and stayed on a train,

 Visited Dutch Wonderland,
 Saw Thomas and stayed on a farm. Very fun and very exhausting!

July we were homebodies, celebrated Chiara's first birthday, celebrated 8 years of married life and enjoyed the sun and the pool. Hmmm, perhaps that's why, in early August, we were thrilled to find out we were going to welcome a fifth Rocco :)

August was a great month for me. In addition to realizing the miracle that I was again carrying new life, we had a wonderful trip to Erie and I ran my first 5K (no pictures of the latter - I insisted on going alone. I do have my bib number, though).
The week after the 5K Sil started 1st grade, Dom started preschool, and I started throwing up. That's been our life for the last four months. We have also been blessed to share holidays, birthdays, feast days and every other day together as a family. I suppose that's the greatest gift of the whole year...the ability to spend most every day surrounded by my family.

Sil filled out a year-end questionnaire. She is so my child. Brownies and sleep. I pray she gets enough of both to last her if she, one day, is blessed to have my life. Perhaps I have enough brownies but I could definitely use more sleep!
I pray that your New Year will be filled with more good days than trials and that every day you find something for which you can be thankful. Happy 2012!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas, continued...

What a blessing it was to have Pat home on Monday! We made the most of it by attending Family Hour of Adoration at the Pittsburgh Oratory and then heading to see the Creche. It's always so nice to see (and so cold! Brrr!). Thankfully parking was free!

Since it was still pre-lunch, we headed out to do the grocery shopping as well. I love our little local grocery store. No huge crowds but they still stock almost everything we need. During these days of supermarket insanity, it's nice to have something right down the road. The kids were fairly well-behaved and no one asked if we were running a daycare. ;)

Today was a day to relax and play with toys. I have forgotten how much work it is to have all four kids home all day! I have a feeling May is going to be an interesting experiment in patience for everyone.

We're almost done opening presents. Not that they got all that many but our kids like to open one and "play it out" before moving on. It helps them appreciate the Christmas season, I think. Gifts to open for three or four days instead of just one! (ok, sounds a bit like Hanukkah now that you mention it).

One week until Christmas break is over - Can't wait to see what fun and exciting mischief we can stir up in that time!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bread baking

I think the last time I baked homemade bread, Sil was just over a year old. She was my sleeper and I could do all sorts of things in the hours she spent napping during the day. Alas, I haven't been so blessed with the next three little people.

Going to Christmas Mass at 7 AM has its benefits (in addition to always being assured a seat). I have missed this breadmaking. The feel of the dough, the excitiement of the kids as it "gets fat". Fun, fun, fun.

Crusty country loaf, ready for the first rise...

Punch it down!
Commencing second rise.

Ready to bake :)
The smell is incredible. Add some mini rigatoni baked with ricotta, Romano and four cheese rosa sauce and I believe we have a new Rocco Chrismas dinner tradition. Yum!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Why I love my husband...

He lets me take a three-hour nap on Christmas.

When I am complaining about getting the proper water temp to make bread, he says things like, "yeast are ornery things...they don't eat on command."

He is an amazing father. Each added child makes him even moreso.

He watches wedding shows with me.

He can talk to anyone, anywhere and always have something to say  :)

How blessed I am this Christmas to have such a wonderful gift.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

We woke up late, had a big breakfast, made ornaments and played for a while. Singing included O Come, O Come Emmanuel, Joy to the World, Away in a Manger, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Butterfly Driving a Truck. Yes, I lost on the last two but if they're singing, they're not fighting so I'll take it for the moment.

This year I feel like I've been doing even more thinking than usual. This is probably because I have actually been blessed with some time to myself, wrapping gifts on the third floor. A few thoughts...

1. No matter how much I try to cut down on the number of gifts, there always seem to be too many. I fight with myself about this and try not to discuss it with my spouse who, himself, is a big believer in "the less the better". As much as my children drive me nuts sometimes, they are good kids for the most part. They don't get a lot lavished on them during the year so I think a few extra things is probably alright. I am happy that a good number of them came from Craig's List. What a wonderful invention that is!

2. I am so happy to have grown up in the family I did, along with all the odd Slovak traditions for Christmas Eve. When I got up and turned on the lights this morning, part of me was a little sad. It was always a great game. Still, I know the kids wouldn't "get it" right now so I think it would be a losing battle. We will eat our pierogi and mushroom soup tonight with money in our pockets. We won't spend money today (I like that one - who wants to shop on Christmas Eve). Mostly, I'll keep my dad in my heart and thoughts. He always seemed happier on Christmas Eve. I hope he's had the last few in Heaven. Can you imagine what a gift that will be?

3. It always strikes me at this time of year, how very "big" Christmas is within the Catholic (and Christian) church. Without the birth of Jesus, the Resurrection cannot occur. I guess He could have just appeared on the earth one day but, really, would that have had the same effect? Would we be able to identify with His humanness in the same way? This is why I'm perplexed that 1. so many people fail to realize the amazing gift of Mary's "yes" and 2. so many people are still caught up in all the crazy shopping/rushing/overconsumption (see #1). I hope, in the midst of all the hubub of tomorrow, everyone will take a moment to reflect on the way and place Jesus came among us. The peace and simplicity of the stable are so enticing to me. The gifts hadn't even arrived yet!

4. Christmas Day at our house will consist of Mass at 7 AM, a nice breakfast, opening gifts and playing. I have no idea what we'll have for dinner. After hosting last weekend's festivities and Christmas Eve, that's just fine with me. Maybe I'll have the boys make some gnocchi with me. Oh, and homemade bread. Perhaps I am a little Italian after all. I could really go for some lasagna right now. Whatever we eat, as long as we're together, I can't think of a better gift.

May the Light of Jesus's birth warm you today and throughout the year. God's blessings for a safe and happy 2012!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Birthday

Our Little Man turned three today. It's hard to believe that this tiny bald guy is now walking around and stating his opinion freely. Time flies. It would appear he had a good day (other than his brother having extreme birthday envy) so that's a plus. How blessed we were three years ago to bring him home on Christmas day! That and the fact that he was born the day (although 11 years later) that my dad was buried pretty much saved the holiday for me. Not that I don't always rejoice in the birth of the Savior but the joy has returned. For that I am grateful.

Happy Birthday, Antonin Clement Rocco. May you have many, many more :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

80's on 8

We only have basic cable, no DVR, no HD television. However, one thing I cannot live without is music. I was thrilled to realize that my "new to me" van came with a Sirius trial subscription and my husband has been kind enough to renew my subscription each year.
Mostly I listen to The Catholic Channel or Kids Place Live but tonight, alone in my car, I had to turn on 80's on 8. I know that anyone who passed me thought I was insane and I probably am for driving through the trolley parking lot just to get to the end of the song but, come on, Jackson Browne's "That Girl Could Sing"? Not passing that up, ever. It is amazing to me how one song can change your mood entirely. I may go grocery shopping at night more often!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fleeing Facebook

OK, so I've decided I'm over Facebook. While I have enjoyed reconnecting with some of the people of my youth, generally, it's been a time and psychological drain for me. I have spent way too much time getting agitated about things that matter not and clearly I don't have all that much time to waste. It has been interesting to watch interactions and comments but, again, time better spent elsewhere.

Also, I have to admit, the whole "friend" thing confuses me. I'm probably just weird but a "friend" is not someone I follow on Facebook. Friends, to me, are people with whom you share things in person - intimate and integral parts of your life. That takes time. That doesn't happen often. Well, it doesn't happen often for me. Aside from my family, I'm guessing I have less than 10 true friends in my life. If that is accurate, I consider myself to be truly blessed. One or two true friends in a lifetime is all I would have hoped to find. As I said, friendship to me is something that takes a great deal of time and work to achieve. This doesn't mean that casual friends are a bad thing. That's where lifelong friends come from, right? Facebook, however, seems to create a false intimacy and, at least in my experience, people you barely know treat you in a way I would reserve for only family and the closest friends. Perhaps that's because of all the "sharing" that goes on? Who knows. It was beginning to creep me out so I decided to stop.

So, instead of Facebook, I'm going to try my hand at blogging. It's funny because just a few months ago I chastised a Facebook "friend" about blogging. What types of egos do this sort of thing, I wondered aloud? Does anyone really think many people care what they have to say? Yes, I am extremely uneducated on many things but that doesn't usually keep me from expressing an opinion (working on it). Thankfully, over those same few months, I have begun to read some blogs that have really inspired me and made me think. I am reforming my opinion (obviously) and joining the ranks of the bloggers. I will endeavor to keep my rants to a minimum (or at least to things about which I know somethng). My spelling and grammar are horrific so be warned. Perhaps, if nothing else, it will catch you up on things in our household. Please don't let this be a reason to not visit, call, write or email. That would completely defeat the purpose.

You may also realize by now that I'm a stream-of-consciousness writer. That may or may not work for you. I can't really help it and judging by the amount of sleep I've been getting, I fear it will not be improving anytime soon.

That's it. Little people are sleeping but that won't last long so dinner is the next task.  Off I go :)