Monday, July 29, 2013

Unexpected blessings

Don't you love it when you're just kind of coasting in the day-to-day and BOOM...something great happens? I don't mean "great" like everyone makes it through a meal without spilling a drink. I mean you have a text/email/conversation that contains a nugget that stops you and makes you want to read/hear it again and again.

That just happened. My friend, whom I respect so much, said she was proud of me.

It's funny because it's probably not as earth-shaking as you had expected but it is to me. In these days when showing your real usually means exposing the not-so-shiny parts of your life, it stopped me to receive such a real and unexpected compliment. What a grace to me that she took the time to be real in that moment. How blessed I am to call her friend.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Perfect Day!

Today, on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne (the parents of Our Blessed Mother), I was blessed  with the perfect day to celebrate with my husband on our 10th wedding anniversary. Yes, ten. Wow! I'm impressed. I can't say I've had many relationships of any kind last that long. We have been through so much together and made it this far. I am so happy, looking back over the ten years, that we have done our best to always say "yes" even when it seems difficult. It feels so right to walk with God at the center of our marriage.

So, how did we celebrate ten years? Well, like most big events we started with 8 AM Mass. Today was especially great since the first reading was the same as the first reading at our actual wedding. I probably heard about as much today as I did ten years ago (although for different reasons).

Then we had the inaugural session of Armata Bianca in St. Bernard's Eucharistic Chapel. What a beautiful thing to do today, on the feast of Our Lady's parents. There were 7 adults and 19 little people all praying the rosary in front of the tabernacle. Beautiful. I just love it.

The rest of the day was cooking and cleaning.

A big Italian dinner (complete with three types of pasta) requires all five burners!

Fine china, baptism candle (it's also Blondie's baptism day) and kid wine
The kids worked hard on the chalk welcome out front...

It says "welcome Sister Dorothy" and has a picture of a nun and a convent (even though she doesn't live in a convent - LOL)

Sister Dorothy is a dear friend from college who we have been trying to get here for dinner and finally, it worked out! How blessed we are that it coincided with the anniversary and baptism day! What a coincidence! (you know I don't think so ;0) ) We had so much fun talking and laughing and, being one of 7, she gets the "big family" thing. I can't think of anything I'd rather do to celebrate my 10th year of life with my beloved. We are blessed!
We love Sister Dorothy!

Even those of us with bad attitudes ;0P

And, let's be frank, her dessert ROCKED! (those are TWINKIES!!!)


Sunday, July 21, 2013

How to be a Catholic dad

For my latest review, I chose a book that I could read and discuss with my husband. We both agree that Man to Man - Dad to Dad: Catholic Faith and Fatherhood is a much needed resource in the arena of Catholic parenting. The shelves are full of mom-oriented books which focus on keeping kids Catholic but this is a great view from the male perspective...actually, many male perspectives, since

The structure of a different author for each chapter gives the book many different perspectives to entice different types of readers. Some of the chapters focus mainly on scripture in relation to parenting and others are more real-world. Whatever your style, you will find some great advice in these pages.

Each chapter provides encouragement and easily digested wisdom. The chapter by Patrick Madrid, "You Can Keep Your Kids Catholic," is full of real-world ideas for fathers trying to keep their children in the faith like praying the family rosary and providing each child with their own Bible with an inscription from their parents.

The book is a quick read but full of enough good information to meet the needs of both first-time and more experienced fathers. It would make a great book for any father who is searching for inspiration to raise and keep their children in the Catholic faith.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Man to Man - Dad to Dad: Catholic Faith and Fatherhood. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm here...

I'm just not feeling it right now so, rather than put down crummy stuff (like a rant) I will just be silent. Thanks for understanding ;0)

If it helps, all is well....bad thunderstorm (which means the third swim lesson cancellation!) and I could not be more at peace. Sometimes God immediately answers my prayer (I really didn't want to drag everyone to the pool today).

Oh, I know! I got to "play" a wedding photographer at the Cathedral today. It was a favor I was happy to do but I can safely say it's not even on the list of my callings. I almost missed half the shots because I was listening so intently to the Mass. Oops.

I don't have a big cool flash so some of the shots were dark like this :oP
It was nice though, being ten years and a week away from my nuptials, to attend and listen. It was extra special to have my #1 and #2 children with me to attend their first wedding. We are blessed.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

What a week!

To say the least, July has been busy, busy, busy around this household. This week was the busiest yet. So many are a few.

1. VBS - Vocation Bible School, that is!

Had to be the Holy Spirit again because I can assure you that, left to my own devices, I would NEVER have signed up to leave the house at 7:30 AM each day to drive 45 min (except for Wednesday, which was torrential downpour/thunder and lightening and so, more like an hour) and spend three + hours hanging out with other people's kids (I was working in the nursery. Cute as buttons, each and every one but, wow, what a three or four sets of twins at once!). Anyway, it was the Holy Spirit and, as always, I am so glad I listened.

#1 son learned all about the Spiritans in his class. How the Holy Spirit leads us, sometimes to places we would never imagine, and how we should listen closely and follow. A wonderful Spiritan father came to talk one of the days and told them all about his mission work. Perfect for little boys who love adventure!

#2 son was with the Fransicans and learned all about The Pope, St. Francis, and the creche (which was St. Francis's creation). He cried at breakfast this morning and said "I miss the Franciscans". How cute is he?

#1 daughter...well, you probably know her penchant for all things religious by now. She was in the Benedictines (yes, Benedict and Scholastica...her very favorite Saint siblings) and turned out to be the only girl in the group. This meant she was lucky enough to put on the mini-habit when they were discussing the different parts of the uniform. She met three amazing nuns and one postulant, all of whom promised to be pen pals with her this year. She was so blessed by the experience.

Some photos of the week:

Our rainbow of saints-in-training

some of my charges checking out nature

Thanks to my friend, Kellie,

for taking pictures of my sons!

Little Sister ;0)

He's a big fan of nuns himself.

After going through the week's crafts, we were blessed with a puppet show staring the Holy Spirit and Pope Francis
2. Birthday!

Every morning of the week, I was usually out the door before the two tiniest of our crew were even awake. It was hard - I missed them a lot! So, I was thankful that we had a chance to celebrate our newest three-year-old on Tuesday. Princesses were everywhere  - we do love our parties!

I do love Amazon Prime...they have everything and you can shop at 4 AM!

She was very pleased. I love the tiny expectations of tiny people.

Sister is becoming quite proficient at "Happy Birthday"

Yeah! Now we all have backpacks for our trip.
3. Prayer
Oh, yes, that's right. Four weeks and a few days and we'll be heading to another continent. Wow. That's really overwhelming when you think about it since, other than backpacks and passports, I've done precious little.
It's been clear from the beginning that Our Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit have this trip in hand... I think the purpose/destination and the dates of travel (two Marian feast days) are a good indicator. So, instead of running around and getting stressed, my DH and I have decided to pray.
This morning, we started preparation for the Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. We're doing a combination of Monfort and Gaitley (because, in my current mental state, I'm not sure I would get much out of straight-Monfort). I'm excited because we will make our consecration the day we leave. My stress is lower knowing that Our Lady will be close to us, constantly leading us to her Son. 

Have a blessed Sunday! Rest ;0)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Time flies...

I know I say this all the time but it is really, really hard for me to comprehend that this tiny, tiny girl
will be three years old in a few hours. Wow, that was quick (and if you don't believe me, Gman was wearing the "designated napper" shirt yesterday ;0)!

I am so thankful for my blonde, blue-eyed fireball. She is an amazing little girl. I can't wait to see God's plan for this one.

Let's all dance for joy a little tomorrow, huh? We are blessed.


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Our funny life...

Sometimes I stop when things are happening here and wonder what it's like to live in someone else's house. I'm guessing it's not much like ours (ok, I know some that are similar). That's hard to handle sometimes in this society but, most day's it's just right for us.

This morning when I came downstairs, I saw this
I said, "is this an orphanage?" "No," said blondie, "I'm the mommy." Further discussion revealed that it was her home, she was the mommy and my son was the cross bearer (the cross, sometimes doubling as a radio antenna).

Suddenly, my other son announced, "there is another baby coming." Immediately an addition was started to house said child with my DH explaining," you have to give up the radio antenna...sometimes, when you have more kids, you have to give things's more important to have another baby than a radio antenna"

So, the addition was made and the new baby welcomed.

I love my family :0)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

God Bless America!

Happy Fourth, everyone.

If you were here last year, you know we're all about parties today. Our little hamlet just outside of Pittsburgh celebrates today as their very own "Day"! complete with festival and fireworks. What can I say? All we have to do is walk to the end of the street and we can entertain the kids for a while.  Good enough for me.

of course

you have to stop at the park first

since it's on the way to the festival

Blondie loved this ride

He was good considering he wanted to be running around

This woman kept referring to me as "granny" which, in this town, is entirely possible ;0)



Home for baths and a rest and then came Grammy's birthday party! It's kind of cool that my mom's birthday is July 4th. It's a good day for a picnic and celebration.
Making "Uncle Sam" cupcakes

They're kind of cute!

Happy Birthday, Mom. God bless America!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

He walks !

So, thanks be to God, G man took some steps today. That means, instead of teaching him to walk in a foreign country, we will hopefully be holding his hand as he toddles along. We shall see. For now, it's just the cutest thing. We are blessed.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Slovakia Part 1

So, I never really explained why, when we could be going to the beach, we are heading to EASTERN Europe. That's right, not even the land of the French and Italians...we're going straight to the Eastern Bloc. It's high time I filled you in.

In May of 2004, my aunt, brother and I headed to Slovakia to visit some family. It seemed the perfect time. I was jobless after moving from Philly to get married and my brother, who was not yet married, was able to take time off to visit. We would meet family, share some laughs and head home.

Well, it was sort of like that. The family, anyway. First, was Kosice and Paul. He is my aunt's uncle, I think anyway, but WOW...Charlie and I almost fell to the ground. It was as if my dad, who had died in 1997, were standing before us. I guess there is something to be said for genetics.
Even the hair is the same color. Wow. I still get goosebumps looking at this picture.

So, then we met Fr. Peter, who works at the seminary in Kosice. He was "working" on his English and was to be our tour guide. Let's just say it's good that my aunt is fluent in Slovak.
Peter ended up agreeing to serve as #3 child's godfather which is another great reason we're heading East!

Siroke, in the center of the country, was next. This is the home village of my dad's family. It was quite moving to meet some of his direct relatives and visit the cemetery where my aunt's grandparents and her elder sister are buried (yes, we have a thing about cemeteries, don't we?)


My aunt's sister's grave

That, my friends, is a STORK's nest. Yes, there were lots of "baby signs" to be had during this trip
In the evening of our day in Siroke, we all walked out of Peter's childhood home and joined the rest of the village to attend evening Mass. I didn't appreciate it at the time but now I am awed by the scene that is in my brain from that night. What an amazing site. People actually planned their day around Mass! The whole village!
On to Levoca. This is the site of a Marian Shrine to which a big pilgrimage occurs each July. You may notice that neither of our trips coincide with this pilgrimage. I prefer the quiet times.

St. Anne's window

The altar

the trail to

Mary's chapel, where the stream runs uphill and the water is said to have miraculous powers.
By this point in our trip, most of the family and friends were praying for us. Why? Well, my bro was in his late 30's and still not married and I had been married nearly a year with no sign of a child. These two things put together cried out for intervention.
Since babies are of utmost importance, I was given spring water to drink and we visited the nuns who live next to the church and take care of the grounds of Levoca. After having tea, while we were saying our goodbyes, one of the nuns held her hands over my belly, said a prayer and told my aunt, "have her come back in a year with her baby." OOhhh...again. Tears thinking about it. It was such an amazing thing to be near people who are so close to their faith.
So, nearly 10 years later, we will return with our five babies. What blessings we have had during that time. What a joy it will be to show my children this place - that they hear of so often - which had so much to do with their coming into being.