Monday, June 30, 2014

Is it bad ...

- that I try with all my might to save up at least 9 Weight Watchers points each night so that I can have a margarita?

- that I have fallen out of love with running and deeply hope that I can quickly fall into love with step?

- that I assign value to a lot of extracurricular activities depending on when they fall in the school "year"? For instance, a sewing class offered in June is not as attractive to me as a dance class in September.

- that I laugh out loud at #5 who is enamored with the between-decade "Ave Maria" during family rosary and, as such, sings it as loudly as possible?

- that I tend to complain to my friends...a lot...about my struggles with my vocation and its place in society (as long as I buy them a glass of wine first)?

- that I will teach math and science but let VBS take care of the other "requirements" and call it a full school week?

- that I purposely signed my kids up for three weeks of VBS (and one science week) this year so that I could have some easy weeks?

- that I feel called back to Catholic school and all that it offers because of our new, young, veiled principal?

- that I will wait a year or two to see how said principal does against the worldly influences that threaten our local Catholic school?

- that I let my husband put the kids to bed nearly every night?

- that we are starting the pre-breakfast pledge and prayers at 7:30 even though they would already be heading to the bus at that hour for "real school"?

- that I don't "get" NFP because my cycle is so entirely random? Or that I don't really care?

- that I kind of like the Holy Spirit hanging around to guide me when I stop to listen?

- that I love my Human Life and Dignity committee at church even though I'm the only under-50 (and mostly under-70) member?

- that I am crazy in love with these little people and cannot believe how quickly time is passing?

The answers, for me, are all "no". Don't judge me or yourself because you may have answered differently.

Because my last answer was "NO!" I need to go now and try to get everything pulled together for tomorrow. I am so blessed to have this husband, these kids and this life. Man, God is good.

Friday, June 27, 2014


It's that time of year again...Vacation Bible School! The kids are actually signed up for three over the course of the Summer (more on that later) so it was nice to begin with the one at our very own parish.

I value these each year and not because I am rid of some children for the morning hours (do the math - the two high-maintenance ones are still at home). I enjoy it because they spend three hours each day learning about God, bonding with one another (I always try to make sure they're in the same "tribe") and other kids, and interacting with members of our parish. This last one is so important. Today when #1 raised her had to answer a question and the pastor called her by name...that's what we're striving for. We're pretty much past the days of priests being around all the time for parties, house blessings, family dinners, like when we were growing up in the faith. So, we have to interact and know them on their turf. It happens to be our spiritual home so that's just fine with me :0)

Our three are in the middle sections with arrows (barely visible) above their heads.

Listening intently to Father...yay.

"So many roads, so many trials...God is with us through them all"

We have been singing and dancing all day. We are so very blessed.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


My littlest little person is engaging in the spoken word much more lately. This usually spurs some interesting conversation, like this morning when he and Blondie were leaving drop-off at VBS and heading to the grocery store:

G: Go church, Heaven
Me: Oh, that's you go to church to get to heaven?
Blondie: Of course not.

Me: What do you mean? Won't going to church get you to heaven?
Blondie: No. Going to Catholic church will get you to heaven.

I'm sure that's the Holy Spirit working on a theme since, after leaving VBS with the whole crew, I told #2 that I saw a bunch of his former school buddies going into the Presbyterian VBS.

#2: Well, I'm a Catholic so I only go to Catholic VBS.

Hmmm. At least they're listening during religion class.

I lost my St. Gerard medal today (I think I've lost it at least 3 times in 6 months...yes, I'm sensing a sign) and I asked #1 to keep an eye out. Being the child she is, she hears that as "immediately pray to St. Anthony," which she did. Much later this afternoon, when I was unpacking the car, I found the medal on the mat next to the back seat.

Me: Thank you for your prayers. St. Anthony heard you loud and clear!
Me again (to #2 who has been terribly argumentative lately): You had better hope your sister doesn't decide to pray for something bad to happen to you - her prayers are very powerful.

#2 (mumbling into the house): Saints aren't allowed to do bad things to people.

How would I entertain myself without these little ones? I am so blessed.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The rain falls on the just and the unjust.

I try to be the former and often end up the latter. No matter, Whomever I am today, the rain fell on me.

You see, of all the days this month (has it rained once or twice in 25 days?) today was the day my van was in the shop. The check engine light has been on forever and, well, the snow tires are still on. Not only is there no rain these days, there is definitely no snow!

So, no problem. Walk the kids to VBS, get in a little run, walk back at noon, walk to swim lessons, etc...perfect plan but today it rained. A lot. For some reason, the bad drivers also seem to come out in the rain. Let me explain.

We walked up without too much incident and arrived at the Scott intersection. We waited and began to cross at the light when we had the crosswalk sign. Thanks to God #1 son was not running ahead as usual or you would all be praying for him...a car came through the light about 3 full seconds on the red. A great lesson for city kids to pay attention to lights AND cars but still more than a little nerve wracking. So, you can give me a pass (here's where I'm unjust) when I got up in a lady's window when she did the same thing on our trip home (except she managed to stop directly in the crosswalk). I had to. She was very busy with her texting/Facebook so it took a minute to get her attention. If you are reading this and text/Facebook while you're in the car (don't say "only at red lights" because you always finish as you're pulling away, right?) please stop now. If you know people who do this, tell them to stop. For the sake of my family, I beg you.

Down from my soapbox now. Here is the trip in between almost being run over... We made it to church and dropped the older three off, just as the rain began. I tried to get into church but, with a double stroller and only one door unlocked, no such luck. So, we hung out for ten minutes under the archway and watched the rain and the people.

I would have stayed a lot longer and watched the rain but, as you can see from the cute knees, I had passengers that were getting antsy. So, we rigged up our contraption and headed out. Do you think the lady on Facebook was slightly distracted that she didn't notice the giant hot pink orb directly in front of her?

So, we are home and have 2 hours to dry before heading out again. I am giving thanks to God and our guardian angels for protecting us on our journey. How blessed we are to be so well watched-over. Have a blessed, if soggy, day.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Corpus Christi Blessings

No one can say we're not getting the most out of our Summer!

To celebrate the first official day of the season yesterday we decided to take in a parish festival. Not just any parish festival...the festival of our very first parish as husband, wife and later as new parents. Wow, what a lot of history there. So many blessings.

I'm jumping ahead. We went to the vigil Mass, pre-festival, to see the church and hopefully some of our old friends and pastor. Our pastor did not have Mass, the parochial vicar did, but he did not disappoint. What an amazing homily about the importance of us revisiting our attitude toward receiving the Eucharist. He talked about some history, the time of the Apostles and more recently, to gently remind us how easy we have it now. No one trying to kill us for worshiping and fasting for only an hour? How blessed we are these days! He even touched upon the proper stature of receiving - he's an "on the tongue" guy (yay!) but also spoke of proper reverence when taking it in the hand. This may all sound sleep-inducing but I'm pretty sure it's the kind of reminders that are lacking from the pulpit. We have gotten lazy as a faith community. Time to wake up.

After Mass (Mr. two-year-old was FRIGHTFUL) we headed outside and immediately saw "Miss Betty". She was such a wonderful gift to us while we were at St. Patrick's. Part of a community that welcomed us so warmly, despite not having roots in the area. Ahhh, I get so wistful when I go back. It was such a blessed time full of great formation to prepare us for the present day. Here are some shots of our fun...Mr. G wanted no part of "frownie" and Blondie couldn't get enough. Go figure.

Extra blessings - a memorial garden for #2's namesake, the priest who married us.

Nope, not going. 

Besides, there were free E&P cookies outside.

Vigil Mass is nice if you want to sleep in. Alas, no such luck. It was a good reason...more Bach, Beethoven and Brunch with friends (if you haven't gone and you live in the area, you should go...) we even had an in-group hand and face-painter this week!
Music done, home to change and on to church. Today being the feast of Corpus Christi, our parish had the Second Annual Eucharistic Procession. One of our close family friends equipped most of the procession, from the father of the family serving as banner-carrier, to three children as altar servers and even #1 son, a seminarian on break from Rome, carrying the Crucifix. What an incredible journey of a few blocks. Even with all the moral confusion in our nation, we are still free to participate in something as amazing as this. We are so blessed.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

A place for everything...

Just looked at the starts again a week from Tuesday. Eeek. At least I had two boxes of books waiting on the porch this week (I remembered to order them!). I have three weeks before I have to actually look at them though. We have two wonderful weeks of farmers market/Amish and horses unit study. Fun! If you want a very interesting book to open up all sorts of discussions with your kids (especially if they revolve around expected behavior or the "gimmies") have them read this...

It's a fascinating read. Can't wait to get to Amish country in a few weeks. It always leaves me at peace to know, at least somewhere, people aren't texing while they drive!
The arrival of school means that teacher (me) has to clean up her act. I can't be organized if I live in chaos. I need to find things when I need them, not three days later. Take, for instance, my office...aka the "junk room" (some people have a junk drawer, I have an entire room).
In my defense, it's also half kitchen stuff

but, yeah, it had to change...everything gets dropped back there.
So, when DH had the kids at the library's summer reading kick-off, I got to work. I had three boxes and put everything in a place where I would look first (hopefully). Each kid got an accordion folder for their schoolwork and artwork (they can cull later) and I was merciless in my shedding of useless things. I still have to sort out my desk and file cabinets (another two hours probably) but it is a huge improvement. I feel like I can move around, work with the kids and entertain tiny man who has learned to climb gates (which have been taken down) and now is a frequent guest.

I am so blessed to have a husband who will give up his haircut so that I have time to organize!
O Holy Mary! My Mother; into thy blessed trust and special custody, and into the bosom of thy mercy, I this day, and every day, and in the hour of my death, commend my soul and body. To thee I commit all my anxieties and sorrows, my life and the end of my life, that by thy most holy intercession, and by thy merits, all my actions may be directed and governed by thy will and that of thy Son.
- St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Pray for Us!



Monday, June 16, 2014


I don't know what happened but somehow, it's the middle of June already. I'm not sure what we've been doing for the last few weeks but I don't feel like it's been all that productive (except for the Tamburitzans thing, I guess). At the same time, I haven't felt really relaxed like I tend to in the Summer either. Looking at the calendar and all the camps to come (more on that late in another blog) I think, unconsciously, I wanted to change some things this week. I am so thankful I did.

This morning we had a book reading festival to reread some of our favorites before they were returned. Then, we took a walk, en masse, to the library before it got too hot. We turned in all but 17 books! I know it probably sounds like a lot but we are usually pushing (or slightly over) the 50 book limit. We adore the library system here and use it frequently.

After returning home I put Mr. G down for a nap. Again, it sounds crazy and it's not what I would choose but it's looking like this will be our homeschool time in a few weeks. He likes to nap and he likes it during the heat of the day. I always knew the later-born were smarter ;0)

While he slept, we dove into our Summer bridge books and then the older two started their chores for the day (more on that another time as well - we're still in the "experimental" stage). Blondie rested and looked at a book, I got some laundry done, #3 perfected his St. Louis Blues logo. Lunch for the oldest 4, pack lunch for G, wake him and we were headed down the hill by 1:15.

You see, swim lessons began today. It's a genius idea. I am soooo thankful that this year it finally works. I would be a wreck taking all of them to the pool alone but shipping off three while the two little ones and I play? Really brilliant. They all did well, too. Even my nervous middle child. I spent most of the time walking around the shallow end with the little two. We are so blessed to be near to this pool. The zero-entry is awesome. It means you can "swim" with your kids without ever putting on a suit because it's only a foot deep. Tomorrow I will wear a suit. The water was perfect.

So, we did it. We all made it down and swam for an hour and walked the entire way back up (with only 3, that's a steep hill!) Now, we will feast on applesauce pouches and watch WQED/EWTN until daddy comes home. This, in our house, is summer. We could not be more blessed.

 Waiting for the lessons to begin
 The two big boys were in the same class. It helped immensely.
 Learning to kick.
Acting like vegetables. This is the life :0)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

What a beautiful day. I hope wherever you are, you're spending time with, thinking about, and/or praying for your father. Being a parent has given me so much more understanding about all the things that never made sense about my dad. Now, I get it.

We started our day, as most Sundays, with Mass. The kids were on their "best-special-day" behavior and it was such a blessing to celebrate our family in the presence of our very favorite dad. He doesn't get nearly the praise he deserves. It's nice that all the dads at Mass were recognized and blessed.

After Mass we made a quick change, packed a picnic and headed to a local park for Bach, Beethoven and brunch. The day could not be more perfect weather-wise and it was so nice to share some time with two families who are so dear to us. I came to a realization the other day...just because our family "looks" like another family, that family may be worlds away from what we value and believe. Ultimately, the values and beliefs are so much more important than how many kids they have or where they live. We are so blessed to have found some families who seem to work so well with our own.

The "brunch" part while listening to some awesome Glenn Miller.

The king...on his throne.

I think she ate 10 pieces of pepperoni. 

On to bubble blowing...

and some Father's Day card-making.

Some pretty awesome dads with their progeny.

After our fun at the park, we bid our friends farewell and headed to see my father and grandfather. It was so nice to see so many people out and tending to their loved ones. A hot day on the hill but always nice to go and visit with Gramps. :0)

Wishing all of you a very blessed Father's Day!
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
Also, of course, a very blessed Feast of The Most Holy Trinity. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Please Pray

Priest killed in attack on Phoenix church, 1 injured, police say

From the left, Fr. Kenneth Walker, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix and Fr. Joseph Terra, are seen here in this undated photo.
One priest was shot and killed and another seriously wounded Wednesday night in an attack at a Catholic church in downtown Phoenix, police said.
Sgt. Steve Martos said police received a call about a burglary at the Mother of Mercy Mission near the state Capitol shortly after 9 p.m. Responding officers found two priests badly injured.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix on Thursday identified the slain priest as the Rev. Kenneth Walker and the injured priest as the Rev. Joseph Terra. It is believed that Terra called authorities.
Terra and Walker served as pastor and assistant pastor, respectively, according to the church website. They both belonged to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Church officials say Walker was 29 years old and asked for prayers for Walker's family, as well as for "the health and complete recovery" of Terra.
Martos says police found a car they were seeking in connection with the attack. He says the car was empty when it was located about four blocks north of the church.
Authorities held a press conference Thursday morning and said they are tying the sort through physical evidence. They said at this point in the investigation, a witness would be helpful in describing the attackers.
"When you're talking about individuals who are coming into a location like this to a church facility, commit a crime like this against individuals who are victims like this one can only imagine what they were likely to do," Martos told KTVK-TV.
Rorate Caeli, an online blog widely read in Vatican circles, said Walker was born in upstate New York near Poughkeepsie. He was the middle child among a family of 11 kids. He was ordained in May 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report 

Monday, June 9, 2014


I took the kids to a priest's funeral this morning. Yes, just me, and my five sometimes-good-but-often-misbehaved children. It's not because I'm trying to make a point by our spectacle (I know there are people who must think that). It was partly my selfishness (I really, really needed to go and, well, I have five kids with me most of the time) and partly for Father. I suppose, in some small way, it was for my kids as well. I only knew him for a year or so but in that time and since I have realized that there are only so many priests like him. The kind who are willing to say what needs to be said without concern for "being fair" or "offending someone" or any of the rest of the drabble I hear all the time.

O'LEARY REV. FR. BARRY PAUL Age 65, on June 6, 2014, formerly of Wilkinsburg. Loving son of the late Helen and Thomas O'Leary; dear brother of Shirley Gentile (Thomas), Ann Howard, Susan Krul (Karl), Richard O'Leary (Michelle), Nancy Childers (Thomas), Robert O'Leary (Mary), and Wilma Slaugenhaupt, also the late Kenneth O'Leary (Dana); uncle of many loving nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews. Fr. Barry devoted his life as a Catholic school teacher, principal, and Priest for over 35 years.

What it doesn't say is that he was a "late vocation". In fact, his late vocation (in his early 50's) makes my late vocation look early in comparison. Perhaps that's why we got along. Perhaps that's why I was weeping during Fr. Freedy's homily today.

Fr. Joe spoke about the fact that Fr. O'Leary was living a comfortable life as a school principal when he received a call to the priesthood. He could have ignored it. He could have stayed with his nice life. He didn't, he said "yes". His "yes", according to Fr. Joe, was a "human yes". It was filled with joy and tears and struggle and hope. It wasn't pristine in the way we think about certain "saintly" people. It was gritty and it was real.

You can imagine, while wrangling these little ones, how my "yes" may have sprung to mind just then. How much grace I was given to be there and listen at that moment. In the short time I knew him, I was so honored to watch this "young" priest work to further the Kingdom. He could be abrupt at times but he was always armed with the truth. He was emotional because it meant something to him.

Wow. What a blessing to have had this man cross my path in life!  How grateful I am to have been there to see his passing from this earth. How joyous the day that he has finally thrown off the sickness and pain of this life to rest in the arms of Christ. Oh happy day!

'Cause you're probably 80-minute Mass is a bit of a stretch for our two tiniest but they did as well as they could. By far, the greatest parts were the processional and recessional. I told the kids to count the priests they could see. The official count (from #1 because she knows how many stripes a deacon wears as opposed to a priest) was 2 deacons, 39 priests and 1 bishop. Not to mention all the nuns and seminarians surrounding us. No wonder the kids were well-behaved :0)

We are so very blessed. Farewell, Fr. O'Leary. May God grant you the eternal rest you so richly deserve. You were truly a good and faithful servant.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Come Holy Ghost!

I am so thankful that we were sent the Holy Spirit. I mean, think of life without that guidance. Personally, I'm lost enough as it is when I don't stop to listen. I can't imagine stopping and listening and hearing nothing...totally alone. Thank you, God, for this gift.

We made some fun hats (they are tongues of fire) and wore them around all morning (the older three wore them into and out of Mass.) Didn't want to disturb anyone who came in late and thought they were missing a "giveaway" - I know. I'm going to confession this week. Bad. Attitude.

I digress. Happy Birthday Church! Here are the cuties from this morning.

Now, back to yesterday. 

First, a Happy Birthday shout out to two far away friends, Iris and Abigail,  who celebrated their big day over the last few weeks (at least we had the right day for one!) We miss you and can't wait to see you!

So. We have worked and practiced, learned new instruments and new dances and even new languages, all to come together in one day - the year-end concert for the Jr. Tamburitzans of the South Hills. It was a long day but a lot of fun. I'm not sure we'll continue this coming year but it's always a possibility (an excellent music/physical education fulfillment ;0) ) I was proud of our two. They were nervous but did a really good job.

 Helicopter with the little girls ;0)
 The boy loves to sing!
 I was watching her and thinking...that's what I looked like in 3rd grade. Kind of cool.
 My pretty Russian girl
 Playing prim with the big kids.

 He made it through two hours of dancing. Cutie.
 Stick dance!

 Whew! They did it!

Then everyone had a blast dancing to the band. So much fun. We are blessed!