Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I'm thinking we need to reassess...

The nice thing about home school (one of many) is that when the day arrives that everyone is sick and you, yourself, feel less-than-stellar, you scrap the day. Lesson plans are fluid in this house. I am so grateful for that. We were supposed to be done May 1st. Instead, we will be done May 2nd or 3rd. It all works for me.

Today I woke up with the second day of high fever, #2 is hanging on by a thread and the baby slept until 9:30 (that's about 2 hours late around here). Then, shortly after breakfast, #1 came down from the school room and said "I'm not feeling well"...she was rather pale. Next thing I hear is her in the bathroom (the greatest thing about kids passing, say, 6-years-old, is that they have figured out where to throw up and when.).

So, that's enough for me. Sweats and videos day! Of course, the middle two are perfectly well (one glaring drawback to home school - you can't ship off the healthy ones!) so I'll have to come up with something for them. The blessing of that is that #3 has finally begun to read and he is enjoying the big boy feeling of reading to his little sister. Ahh, God is so good to me. The timing of everything is perfect.

I have to go now and try to find our School House Rock DVD...what's that, like, 2 hours?

We are blessed!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Whoever said

"feed a fever" clearly did not have body aches that made it hurt to open and close his jaw.

Just thinking out loud here.

Blessed to have a few more things to offer up; 0) oh and more time to read my John XXIII book. I like this guy!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I love it...

Today at Mass my kids were in very, VERY badly behaved (let's see, just for starters, the microphone went out during Fr.'s reading of the Gospel, just in time for Muffin to scream "need diaper change" about, oh, ten times). I don't mind him so much but the older ones (with the exception of the eldest) were in exceedingly poor form.

I'm not sure if it's the chocolate or the excitement or what. I love it because it happened on Divine Mercy Sunday. What a perfect day! Surely I can muster some extra mercy for my squirmy 3-year-old if Our Lord is so generous with His infinite Mercy toward me.

So, I tried and we made it through. Then we made it through, mostly, our Divine Mercy chaplet in front of the Tabernacle. Whew...then it was party time.

Today is a glorious day weather-wise...the perfect setting for the canonization of two great Saints!

Start with plenty of explanation and coloring opportunities
Then, fry up some pierogi and bake a Papal crème cake

it looked better once the powdered sugar was on
Pair up with a family who adds Italian sausage and tiramisu to the menu and you have the beginnings of a great brunch to celebrate two great men!

I am really enjoying my time with these little people. They have some amazing insights. I think we all learned a thing or two about both popes-now-Saints. How wonderful it is to have two more intercessors in Heaven. We are blessed!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

life is beautiful

I'm not sure if it comes through in my blog but sometimes society bugs me ;0) The emphasis on the secular pushes me toward despair and I don't really require any more assistance in that area. So, when there is an event hosted by a Catholic church that doesn't involve Santa or The Bunny, we're there...even if we have to drive 30 minutes (sigh...we need more on this side of the tunnels!)

It was held here...the first clue it might be right up our alley!

It was an amazing morning. A pro-life egg hunt to raise money for Genesis of Pittsburgh. I am so grateful that so many people showed up and they were able to raise so much money for such a good cause. It was our official first egg hunt! It won't be our last :0) (Yes, it is "legal" and even preferable to have egg hunts after Easter Sunday since Easter is a whole season, not just a day...I had to explain this to another mother at dance practice on Tuesday - yes, she's Catholic)

We went through registration and picked up these spiffy bags to hold all the eggs we could carry. The pro-abortion people call this "propaganda" but it's such a beautiful thing to see little people walking around carrying these.
Then, the rules were explained (after the hunt, you have to open the eggs to dump your loot in the bag so that they can reuse the eggs next year). Interspersed in the rules was a beautiful presentation (about 3 minutes long - perfect) about how God made us each in His image and how that makes us special and important and how we are called to use our special gifts. Oh, did I mention that this is put on by high school students? Wow.

Then...the hunt was on! They broke up the kids (aged 2-12) into age groups, the higher ages having a more difficult area in which to hunt. It was genius. I hear our tiny two did well but they were with non-photo-taking dad so we have no actual evidence (other than two heaping bags of treats). I went with the middle group. They had a blast!
DH said "Egg hunts are one of the few places where a kid who hates crowds ends up with more stuff!)

#3 wisely enlisted the help of one of the teen aids. He is sly, that one.

Two friends, hauling in their loot.
Such a blessed time with family and friends.

Waiting for the raffle winners (we didn't win but we did get 7 free pretzels and lemonades in celebration of "free pretzel day" at Philly pretzel on the way home!)
What a blessed day. The weather, the message, the time with friends.
God is so good!
(before the hunt - even the Little Flower was hiding an egg ;) )

Friday, April 25, 2014

Party Central!

For most of the last month, our house has looked like some version of this...
We have two birthdays ourselves, added to an extra "party" with friends and a friend's daughter's party today...oh, and then Holy Week and Easter of course - it's a regular fiesta these days!

Seriously, who knew so many people's birthdays fall in this month? I think having it like this makes everyone happier. Perhaps we'll start renting out our first floor to small functions. Sounds like a great SAHM business opportunity ;0)

In the meantime, we were so blessed to reconnect with some wonderful friends today to celebrate the impressive accomplishment of completing a PhD and equally as impressive, the birthday of a sweet 4-year-old girl. 
I watched the youngest two while mom took the older two to commencement to watch dad. What an incredible blessing. Having our two favorite "like us" families visit this month has been so bittersweet. Wonderful to see them for a short while but sad to see them go. I did enjoy my 7 kids for a few hours today (including 2 sets of near-twins) and yes I'm about to have a glass of wine now that it's all over.

C with her sous chef


Taking a break with Veggie Tails and popcorn 

Arts and Crafts 

Chatting with friends

Aren't they so adorable

Seriously...sweetest boys ever!

The day ended with a pizza party and some awesome cake (no, I only make two a's better this way, trust me!). What an amazing day with some very special people. I'm thinking we need a beach/meet-the-new-baby visit this Fall!

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lucky Number Seven

Everyone says "I can't believe it's been (enter number) years since he was born!" Well, I sort of can with this one. If anything, it feels like about fifteen. I suppose we should have known when he was breech and "stuck" under my ribcage - nothing would go easily where he is involved. Not that I would trade him, ever. Still, I wish there were more of the loving-little-boy days and fewer of the pre-teen glimpses. I suppose I should be thankful for the practice!

Let me just say "I can't believe it's been five years since you were TWO!" That is true. I vividly remember little chubby, curly-haired boy.
Can't help but notice, the cake was better then too. Ahh, the joy of only two children. The amazing things you can accomplish!

Of course, siblings are far more important than cakes so I'll take the way we are now. I think, most days, he would too. I am so proud of my highly-emotional, deeply-loyal, art-loving boy.
Happy birthday, first-born son. You are loved so very much!
It's a Lego brick...with cupcakes (chocolate bricks/Lego men on top) forming a "7"...promise!
We are blessed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lent...kid stuff

This is the first year I feel like a lot of my kids "got" Lent. The two littlest, of course, were not that clued in but the older three did well. In addition to the work-to-donate exercise, we tried to be more hands-on with some of the big lessons. Here are a few. Most (if not all) are thanks to Lacy at She's just awesome!

Crown of Thorns Pretzel

You're supposed to use a bread recipe and you're supposed to do this on Good Friday. Well, our Good Friday was too filled with "homemade fish fry" (read deep battered fish and shrimp) so I didn't really think adding the extra carbs on a fasting day was a great idea. Since Kellie's pretzels are easier and better than bread, we use that recipe a lot these days. We had our crown with dinner on Thursday. It worked out well and got our minds in the mood for the Passion.

before we bake...

put in the pretzel sticks at the end and voila!
Good Friday Scripture Lunch

Lacy again...what would we do without her? This was an amazing teaching tool. We took our time and worked through each symbol while DH read the appropriate scripture verse. We had some lovely discussions about Judas and Peter (one asked forgiveness and was saved, the other succumbed to despair) and the kids were still talking about it the next day. Yes, there were a lot of "sweets" for Good Friday but since everyone is under 9, we let it slide. Oh, I added licorice whips because someone asked about what "stripes" meant.


Dyeing Eggs

This is, by far, one of my favorite past times. We did it as kids (and well into our later youth and adulthood) and I look forward to our kids passing it on if they have little people. It's lovely to have pretty eggs to place in the basket for the food blessing on Saturday and if you need a "religious" reason (even if it's probably only legend, yes, Lacy again!). I also found this article which gives significance to specific colors. No wonder this top one was our favorite!
Faith and Trust! Great reminder that Divine Mercy Sunday (and a pretty special canonization ceremony) are next Sunday...hope you're all having a big celebration like we're going to attempt! Stay tuned...I'm not that talented with puff pastry and I'm trying and failing to mesh Polish and Italian into one happy brunch ;0)

We are blessed. Happy Easter Monday!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Reflecting on Lent...

Now that we've finally entered the Easter season I think it's time to look back a bit on the past 40+ days. I've mentioned a few things I was going to be more attentive to during this time. Since I've asked the kids to review and reflect on what worked/what they would change, I suppose it's a good thing for me to do the same...

1. No yelling - (or at least not yelling at a specific child). I was pretty sure this was doomed from the start and, as suspected, I did not go 40 days without yelling. What I did do was consider a bit more what I was saying before the moment. While there were still moments of immediate reaction, I do feel like I've tried to explain more and instruct more. As for the volume? It's noisy here. A lot of the time the yelling isn't out of anger as much as it is to be heard. Perhaps next year I'll rephrase it to "not yelling in anger".

2. Budget - I've been blessed throughout this marriage to not have to live on a strict budget (before this marriage it was a necessity so, perhaps, that's why I've shied away). At the start of Lent, I asked my beloved for the budget - income and expenditures - so that I could see what we might change. The major expenditure is life insurance premiums and that's not going to change in the near future so we had to skip that. The next three were church/charitable giving, my mom's helper, and food. While it pinches a bit to tithe sometimes, It's the right thing so that's not changing. My helper...well, that's a limited-time commitment. She is a big expense now but in a few years, that too will pass. For the moment, she allows me the time I need to get things done or spend time with kids individually. I think, were the kids in school, she would probably not be here so I just figure not paying tuition makes it a wash ;0)

That leaves food. When he told me the typical monthly expenditure, I was really shocked. I cook nearly every night and we don't do fast food more than once a week so it was unexpected to say the least. I figured, sure, we can trim hard can it be?

Well, it turns out that it's sort of hard but not impossible. Since we were already giving up fast food for 40 days, that helped. Then I acquainted myself with my new favorite stores, Aldi and Bottom Dollar, for the weekly staples; we go to Sam's more often to stock up only on what we need for a few weeks; and I've been trying very hard to do a meal plan for the coming week. Sometimes it's tweaked depending on the sales but, for the most part, it's been working well. The downside, of course, is that I can no longer go to one store and buy everything so I end up spending the most precious resource of all - time. Luckily the stores are located near to kid activities so I've been popping in while they are occupied elsewhere.

3. Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving - I feel like I have done a good deal in this area and that's why I'm kind of exhausted. I've been keeping up my daily rosary during the 40 days and we said it as a family every Sunday. I took the 3-4 AM Adoration shift at our parish for 6 weeks straight (no, I won't be signing up for that long-term) and attended a day of recollection. I (usually with the kids) stood vigil at the 40 days for life campaign three or four times and spent 3 days on a liquid-only fast to offer for the babies and their moms as part of the 40 days vigil (one of which was #2's birthday party - next year I'm going to concentrate on learning to plan ahead!) This past week I spent a great deal of time with my Aunt as she underwent surgery, recovered (thanks to God) and moved to respite care. What a blessing it was for me to have that opportunity to so closely serve someone I love during Holy Week.

The best thing to come out of this section was from the kids. As part of their monthly home school CCD, they were collecting money for a mission in Guatemala. The two older kids were on fire to find ways to help. I told them, if they helped more around the house, I would give them a weekly amount to donate. Immediately #1 decided she would fold the clothes from the dryer and #2 started collecting the trash every Monday. I am really impressed with how they dove in and still (even after the collection) remain dedicated to their jobs. As with many things, it seems like this is the time that they are finally ready to help. That not only makes my life easier but it helps me to see that they are, indeed, developing into older kids who are willing to do things for the good of the household. That is an amazing blessing.

I'm sure there is more that I missed but I've said enough. After reflecting, it's clear to me that I have been blessed during this Lent, both by opportunities to turn my life back toward God and also with situations that have helped me reassess my thoughts and decisions and how they do or do not fall in line with His will for me. He is a loving father and He wants the best for me. I have to continue to remember that and, while knowing and trying to follow the particulars, not turn my focus to the "checklist". It has been a huge help that this year the kids were asking "why" a lot more. It's good for me to sit with them and work out why something is done and what is gained from the action. This has helped me avoid the temptation of just "giving something up for Lent" and instead, trying to learn from everything I did or did not do...ultimately drawing closer to God in the process.

Happy Easter everyone! We are blessed.


Our Lord and Savior is risen from the dead! After that, does anything else much matter?

Other things matter some but, since I have a scratchy throat and still have baskets to fill, why don't we take a few days to reflect on this miracle that again opened the gates of heaven for us!

Happy Easter everyone :0)

See you in a few!

We are blessed.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Happy Holy Thursday everyone! Wow, it's so hard to believe that Lent is over and the Triduum has begun. What a blessing to have reached this stage. I am completely exhausted and that makes me feel like at least my Lent was productive. More on that next week.

Since we're still not up for the Mass of the Lord's Supper tonight (we have head colds and little man is resisting all things church at the moment) we will do a lot of this between today and tomorrow then have the food blessed and enjoy the Slovak vigil meal on Saturday before rejoicing on Sunday!

Part of the traditional meal is hrin (just say it like it looks). It's a delightful side condiment for kielbasa and ham and even hard boiled eggs. You make it by boiling some beets and shredding
then peeling and grating some of this bad boy...
finally mixing the two together and letting it sit for a few days...

My, my. If you are a "hot" food fan, this is your dish. Since it's just Uncle Dave this year, I made it extra spicy...the fresh horseradish is key. None of that diluted stuff in the jar ;0)

While I was cooking kielbasa and grating up horseradish (which also clears sinuses most effectively!) my cleaning crew was working on the living/dining rooms.

I am so very blessed!