Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dessert - Squanto Style

For those of you who are unafraid to give your kids refined sugar in abundance (once in a while and only if there is a school lesson involved!) witness the wonderful new way to learn what Squanto taught the Pilgrims about planting corn...

First, take your "dirt" (crushed Oreos) and your "fish and corn"
 Dig a hole, plant the corn then cover with the fish to act as fertilizer.
Symbolic, yes, but they are still talking about it ;0)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why I love my husband (part whatever...I don't do this nearly enough)

It is 2:14 AM and we're both awake. Me because I'm headed to a 3 AM Adoration slot. Him because he didn't want me to sleep through my time. Good, good guy :0)

Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Closer and closer...

did you realize that Sunday is the first day of Advent? Whew, that snuck up quick with this late Thanksgiving and all. I was picking up my son this morning and the discussions of elves, shelves and the other guy that comes on Dec 25th (the one in the red suit) have me feeling a bit anxious. Sometimes I feel like I may just give up the fight and go secular, especially when my DH decides to rid himself of the junk mail by handing toy catalogs to the kids (why does he do this? does he not know what will happen?).

So, like the Holy Spirit often does in my life, I received immediate reinforcement. This morning my prayer was answered via email... from one of the most Catholic people I know. Ahh...feeling much better.

The Advent Christmas Planner from Catholic Icing

If you're looking for some help with your Advent and Christmas planning and you want something that is FULL of great ideas, go here Advent and Christmas Planner. Hurry, for the next few days it's only $10. Trust me...definitely worth the cost for something to help you year after year.


Thursday, November 21, 2013


Miss Terri - C, are you excited for Thanksgiving?
C: Yes, but I'm also sad because we're out of wine.

If you were to look at the rack, it's full of big people wine. Blondie is referring to "kid wine", aka, white grape juice. Time for a run to the kid liquor store...aka Giant Eagle ;0)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Five Favorites - Travel Edition

If you've been following along, you know we just returned from a wonderful time in St. Louis. Here are the five favorites, travel edition:
1. Mountains and Hills
Let's face it, if you're born in the flatlands, it's what you know. Things like hills and very large hills ;0) make you a little queasy, especially in the snow and other foul weather (this is what my friends tell me). For me, though, there is nothing more mind-numbing than ten hours of this.
Yes, the sky is huge and beautiful but it makes me want to drive 120 mph. The policemen frown on that for some reason.
2. "City Playgrounds"
Having grown up in the country, I do appreciate the availability of acres on which you can let your children run free. Being citified now, I appreciate even more the opportunities for us to stretch our legs.
Forest Park - like South Park and North Park but bigger and FLAT. You can see them wherever they run! 

I am in love with this hallway outside of our hotel room. It BEGGED for a little kid footrace so, the day we left, they were off!
3. Man's Amazing Tributes to God
On our trip we were fortunate enough visit two shrines. Both beautiful in different ways.
Our Lady of the Snows is special to me because DH and I lit a candle there in 2004 to pray for a baby. It's like our native Levoca ;0)

The Shrine of St. Joseph is an AMAZING place. The statuary alone is breathtaking. The fact that it is the site of the second miracle attributed to St. Peter Claver makes it extra awesome. We were lucky enough to have a private tour from the man who works in the rectory. It was like All Saints Day revisited.

Called the "Altar of Answered Prayers" - completely carved from wood (and the "drapes" on the sides are painted wood)

Above the altar are King David, St. Joachim, Our Lady, St. Anne and Abraham

Love my little priest-to-be ;0)
4. Friends
I'm sort of sad when I think that most of our friends with similar values and ways of raising children have moved. Then I think of how great it is that we can have these field trips all over the country!
backyard whiffle ball and

leaf jumping

we are so blessed to have such wonderful friends! (can you tell who needed a nap?)
5. My Adventurous 5
Without these brave little people, none of this could happen. They are always up for a new adventure.
Hotels are always fun (but I give a big FAIL to Nickelodeon and Disney Jr. for evening programming...we watched the Food Network -mama was happy)

some were scared

and some were REALLY scared

but we made it to the top!

it's so cool to see the whole city and county (one benefit of FLAT)

this is post-ride in the capsule...when they realized it was all ok

the jewel box in Forest Park

she only does solo poses...I think it was the tutu

Where will we go to next? (we need a bigger van. the girls wanted to come along)
Mostly I am so very thankful for our multitude of blessings. Having the four days to work through the trials and successes as a family was the most valuable part of the whole exercise.
Oh, and my very favorite part was returning home to my well-rested husband. We are so blessed!

Monday, November 18, 2013

If you were worried

we made it home yesterday night around 7; thankfully in front of the storms.

Let's all pray for those who were impacted. It was a nasty storm.

More trip later. I'm still unpacking :0)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


I had a post on judgment and I had to take it down because I realized it's just being way too misconstrued. I've been reading a few blogs in the meantime and it's pretty much reinforced my original thoughts on the matter:

- People will call you judgmental if you don't agree with their personal opinion on how to eat/school your children/where you worship/etc.

- If you don't have an opinion (i.e. support their opinion or decry their opinion) you will be labeled "uninformed" and immediately made the subject of their conversion...even if you really, truly don't give a patoot about what they're addressing.

I don't have any answers. I'm just thinking about life these days. Why was it easier 100 years ago?

My friend and I were chatting while driving to the grocery store the other day (yes, it's sad but I've reached that level of multitasking). We were talking about Paradise/The Garden of Eden. We decided that Paradise was pretty simple. If you needed food, you went right outside to get it. The kids could run and play and be safe anywhere they went. People lived in harmony because all their needs (essential needs, not needs for 100 cable channels) were met.

Yep. We are definitely out of Eden.  Still blessed, though.

Back to packing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Fall Favorites

I'm back and it's still Fall. I've got a little better attitude today after reading a friend's successive "thankful for..." blog posts. I'm not quite that ambitious (to record it daily) but here are a few of my favorite things to be thankful for today...

1. My office

It is an enclosed porch off the back of our house which is surrounded by windows. Yes, that means it's usually cold/hot depending on the season but it also means something not all that common in this big old house - LIGHT! Lots of beautiful Fall sunlight. Like now when it makes the perfect leaf-dancing shadows on the blinds. Amazing.

2. Five Star Christmas Trees

I love all of Christmas but, most of all, I love the look and smell and overall being of a Christmas tree in my living room. Last year I ordered from Five Star and it was AWESOME. It got here the first week of December and was still beautiful at the end of the Christmas season (I mean Epiphany, BTW, not December 25th). If it's just as fresh this year, I think I'll make an argument to leave it up until February 2nd ;0)

Give them a try. If you order before the end of the day and use EARLYBIRD2013 you can save a bundle!

3. Redemptive Suffering

I mentioned my foot as a "fail" in the last post. I have been coming to see it in a more positive light these days. Since it's pretty certain to not be fixed for quite a while and since it still hurts quite a bit I've been trying to be more conscious of offering my suffering as a chance to lift up others and draw myself more deeply into the mystery of the Passion.

This is a good article on Blessed John Paul II and suffering. We were just watching the "kid" version of his biography on EWTN. It always strikes me that a man with so much trauma in his life, from the very beginning, could be so joyful. What a wonderful example for us!

4. Singing in a foreign language

I have no idea. It just seems more angelic to me somehow.

Maybe it's just the high little voices.

5. Travel.

God willing this time next week we will be here...

on our way to here...

I don't even know which/how many I'm taking. I'm just soooo happy to be getting a change of pace. After having the ability to pick up and go whenever and wherever for so many years, I'm looking forward to seeing some old familiar sights and people. I am the truck-drivin-man's-sis after all ;0)

We are blessed. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


so, today was kind of a "fail" type of day. Not that I am less-than-thankful for the gift of my life and those of my friends and family. Still, the past few hours+ have left me feeling a little Job-like.

1. My foot. If you're around much you've noticed that I've been sporting a large metal contraption on my foot. After the MRI (which, I've discovered, is my version of hell...endless hours of MRIs) it's evident that I have fluid and a torn tendon. Treatment? Surgery followed by "no weight on the foot for four weeks followed by two weeks in a cast and physical therapy." Uh. Have you seen my house (three flights of stairs) and my family (5 kids under 9 years). Not happening in the next 5 years or so. So, as my daughter is want to remind me, "offer it up".

2. My friend and her baby - OK. I admit this should have been first because my foot, comparably, is a silly, trivial point. My friend had her baby in September about 4 weeks early with a knot in his cord. After a month in the hospital he was released to mama and her milk and warm arms. This morning he was sent back to the ER with a 91.7 degree temp (yes, that's right, I guess little people go low when they have bad infections). Needless to say they need prayers - LOTS OF PRAYERS. Storm Heaven for little Andrew if you would...and their entire family (if I haven't mentioned, he's the youngest of 6 kids in the family).

3. Kid's Cooking at Market District. OK, I signed up because it was free. I should have known that you get what you pay for. Still, it was 10 minutes of fun with a pumpkin muffin and apples for the afternoon snack. Would I do it again? Probably not. Still, there were shining moments. Like walking into the store with my five little people:

Older man: Are they all yours?
Me: Yep

OM: looking incredulous
Me: Same dad 10 years :0)
OM: God bless you!

Me: He has! Five times! (yes, it's more than five but it's too much to explain in passing I think).

I love those interactions. I love showing my kids how much I love their dad and how much I love my big family and how NORMAL it all is!

Back to cooking:

Pre-cooking at the lobster tank. Actually very entertaining for little boy during cooking!

Making our turkey muffins

grumpy girl who is too old to make muffins ;0)
4. After the 10 minute turkey making we went to the deli and got FIVE free pieces of cheese (score! sometimes it's beneficial to be a walking freak show). We then picked up our pizzas for dinner and went to pay in the café. Of course, there is beer there so I can't resist. I look for anything dark and promising. I find this in the cold case
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout. EPIC FAIL. Remember the Martin Mull Guinness commercial? "what did you do, burn it?" Exactly. Stay far away. Not sure what they consider "chocolate" but since I currently have 10+ pounds of it in my house due to the recent holiday, I disagree. Completely.
My day wasn't all bad, though. #s 3, 4&5 completed another mom's day out allowing me to take #s 1&2 to Mass to pray for baby Andrew. We had another wonderful day as a family. We are blessed indeed. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Funny Guide to NFP

This was originally titled "Life, Death and NFP" but I realized I had more to say about this book so I'll just tackle the other two at a later date.

Sorry it's a little was in my drafts box and I forgot :0(

October 14th was NFP awareness day in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. This is a day to "(re-?)acquaint" Catholic people with NFP, the "alternative to artificial contraception". (BTW, this quote is from The Pittsburgh Catholic) I don't know about you but something about that is odd to me. Does that mean that NFP is "natural" contraception? Hmmm. I don't really think that's where they're going with this. I think the media person needs to find a new job.

Since we had no such "awareness" happen at our parish (not going on a rant, promise) I felt like I had to go out and find something to increase my awareness. This is a lie, of course, I'm as aware as I care to be. We don't practice NFP...never really found a good enough reason...still, I like to see what's out there to help people I meet that might be struggling with the Church teaching. Baptism class is always a great opportunity to promote.

What I found was The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fisher. It gets a 5-star rating on Amazon over 93 reviews and I agree completely. This is one eye-opening, straight-talking, clear-thinking book about all things NFP and much, much more. Of course, Simcha is my girl. I just love the way she writes. Her humor is my humor.

Yes, I agree, it's sort of an odd title (like natural contraception) but it is sooo worth a read. It even comes on Kindle. Yeah! So, without giving all the good stuff away, here are the two top things she addresses with regard to NFP (oh and if you want a "how to do NFP" guide" this isn't it)
1. Don't Judge - Wow! What a concept. Yet, the way she brings it out is just awesome. NFP is full of people who are judging others or being judged themselves. NFP is a decision that you come to with your spouse and God and that is your business. Just like it is for everyone else. So, as my brother-in-law is fond of saying, "just worry about yourself".

2. Fall in love with your husband - In the book, she talks about the difficulty that comes with saying "no" to your body and to your husband at a time when, physiologically, you want to be saying "yes" (if, that is, you are using NFP to avoid a pregnancy). I can imagine that this is a truly painful and sanctifying time. That's why it's great that she goes into such depth about things you and your husband can do that show love without the marital embrace (and I'm not just talking about the bedroom). If you're waiting on the next baby, use the time to strengthen your marriage. Again, what a concept!

So, I think you should pick it up. If you're Catholic, consider this an even stronger suggestion. It is a great way to look differently at how we use and respond to our fertility within the teachings of our church.

We are blessed!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Five Favorites - Family and Friends

Whew. Didn't I say now that soccer was over, we would be relaxing on the weekends? Well, it seems my plan has not caught up with the scheduler. Yesterday was All Souls so I guess there was a trip to the cemetery planned anyway. We added an additional cemetery to the tour (to visit the grave of the baby of a family we know and pray for all of our babies in Heaven) and a C-MITES afternoon.Today was loooong (maybe it's the extra hour) but very much fun with family and friends!

1. Picture People Groupon

My Christmas Cards are done! ;0) Well, OK, they are ordered. The photos are always the most trying exercise. A few weeks ago we had outdoor shots taken (also via Groupon!) but the family shots were only so-so. (I used the Groupon for a beautiful shot of just DH and commemorate our 10th anniversary). Today was Picture People and, as always, it's a slam dunk. Even little man cooperated enough to get some good shots. Here are a few outtakes (50% off the CD with the Groupon - score!).

2. Slovak Festival - Food

Today was the Slovak Festival at Pitt. This was our first year with all the kids but it was well worth the trip. First, of course, the food! Pierogi, haluski, kielbasa, stuffed cabbage and apricot cookies for dessert. Yum!

3. Slovak Festival - Dance

We were just in time to catch the PAS (Pittsburgh Area Slovaks) performing while we waited in line for our food. I'm thinking hard about switching the kids since they will teach them songs (in Slovak) and dance from age 2! We could take the whole family :0) For now, it was very fun to watch.

4. Slovak Festival - Friends

We were lucky to have some companions at the festival - a wonderful family that we are getting to know. Their boys are delightful and great cohorts for our older two. Mr. G is especially fond of their Mr.G. Our guy never fails to grin when he is around. What a blessing!
5. Slovak Festival - Crafts
I told you it was worth it ;0) We stopped to watch two women and their amazing skills. One was spinning yarn and the second was making lace. I have seen someone spin yarn before but the lace demonstration was incredible. She had 38 bobbins on her pillow and just went back and forth, weaving and moving pins. She said kids used to start at 4 making pin holes on the pattern and knew how to make lace by 5. Wow. That's pretty cool.

What a great day spent with friends and family learning about our heritage. We are blessed!

Friday, November 1, 2013

For all the Saints...

Yes, there was this during the week...

but let's get to the more important stuff!

1. Home School Saints Party

This is our second year and it's a not-to-be-missed event! If my kids were in school (especially a school who had an issue with kids dressing as a Saint for Halloween) I would sneak them in to this activity ;0). It's an awesome event. "Guess the Saint", Saints bingo, everything concentrating on the important part of late October/early November. Not a mummy, zombie or witch to be seen!
If you need a quick and easy refresher on how to approach Halloween with your Catholic kids, head over here.
2. All Saints Mass
We are early-risers so we always end up at 8 AM Mass for the Holy Days (also because DH has to get to work and can't wait around until 10). We have dressed in our Saints costumes for two years now and it's been awesome. People come up and talk to the kids about their Saint and tell them how happy they are to see the Saints here with them today. It can feel a bit awkward but, thankfully, it's our usual Mass and the people are used to our family doing things in a big Catholic way. This is our way of being in the world...we use every opportunity possible to witness to our faith. Hopefully when the kids are older we can walk up the main street to church in full costume. That would be awesome :0)
St. George (with his phone - lol), St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anne (not into the paparazzi),
St. Wenceslaus and St. Zita
3. Learning about the Saints
When we got home, today's lesson was on the Saints! Ha, I love that! So, for our history/art/reading, we learned about each kid's Name Saint, including their symbol (and why it's their symbol) and then colored a corresponding sheet to hang. I like the way it came out, including #1s - no template for those over 6 ;0)


All you holy men and women, Pray For Us! Wishing you all a blessed day.