Sunday, August 31, 2014

Amazing, glorious day...the rest of the story

Let's go back a bit...a few months ago, we were blessed to be asked to serve as godparents to our dear friends' new son. Well, still-cooking son, his due date is September 5th I believe. It really is a blessing at this time of our life. It's such an honor to be forever connected to this family...they are so amazingly loving and faith-filled, while still maintaining a real sense of struggle. Did that sound odd? Sorry. What I mean is that I feel like I can bring any issue, good or bad, to this friend and she will walk with me and, most importantly, pray for me, until it is worked through. I never feel like I have to have a secret compartment that she doesn't see. It is and has been an amazing gift to have that kind of person walking with me through motherhood for the past many years :0)

So the godparent thing was a blessing for obvious reasons but also because of my struggles over the past year with our baby lost to miscarriage and facing the end of our fertility. During our travels yesterday it was so clear to me that we will probably not have any more children and what a gift God gives us in this opportunity to help raise this little guy to know and follow Him. I can see why grandparents love's all the snuggling and loving and gifting without the day-to-day raising (although, hopefully, we will always be there praying and listening to the good and bad)...I can't wait.

In preparation for the arrival of this miracle, their fifth child and our first godson!, we have been planning out our trip and enjoying the task of buying some, hopefully, meaningful gifts. It is their tradition to keep the name under wraps until the arrival (we did the same) but, being the godparents, it's one of those special perks to know ahead of time. I also love this family because they tend to go in unique but religiously meaningful ways when naming children. This little guy followed the tradition so I had a really fun time trying to find something that would be perfect. As always, when you try (even in my most paltry ways) to move toward Our Heavenly Father, He sends the Holy Spirit along to guide you in each step.

While looking for a gift which would bear our godson's name, I kept running into a parish a bit North of here that had the same patron. Being a somewhat unusual Saint, it made me wonder how many parishes actually had that name. I did a pretty exhaustive search (my stockpile of Royal Pains episodes had just ended - see? even that worked for good) using several hours over the course of a few evenings. My search resulted in exactly one parish, which happened to be 2 hours North.

The other day, my DH said (in the most loving manner), "most wives say 'vacation', mine says 'pilgrimage'!" yes, that's me. Since our trip to Slovakia, and even before, it just makes sense to seek out the religious opportunities in our every day life. Travel can be so stressful and uncertain. I want the little people to remember that it's not just us, alone, on our journey...whether it turns out good or bad. So, we started planning...head up one Saturday afternoon to the namesake parish, offer Vigil Mass for our soon-to-be-born godson and family, have the object blessed, take some photos, and head back home. The only question...when to go?

I looked at our calender which I have, thankfully, been able to keep free most Saturdays. Once the gift to be blessed arrived mid-August, I was free to choose from among 4 or 5 weekends. I'm not sure what prompted me (ahem...Holy Spirit) but we chose Saturday, August 30th. I do remember thinking that it was a full week before his due date so we could get in some good prayers before his arrival and have him and his mother blanketed before labor began.

I read my friend's blog the other day and she mentioned that "Jesus, I trust in You" was going to be her constant prayer for the next weeks until baby arrived. How fortuitous (ahem) that The Divine Mercy is one of our kids' favorite EWTN shows! So, when I got a "we could use some extra prayers now" around 8 AM on Saturday, August 30, we got to praying right away (truthfully, she sent it at 6 AM but I didn't get to it until I woke up...God's timing being what it is, I think it counted). Around 9:30 (8:30 WI time) the kids began their song, which continued off and on for the next hour.

This is the part that had me so excited on Saturday. If you have read my blog at all, you know how much I try to look for the Holy Spirit and listen to the guidance when it is provided for me. Most days I am too tired, distracted, whatever to get to that place (although sometimes I see it afterward). Saturday was one of those gloriously in-tune days. I was still tired and such but I just felt so pulled to concentrate on my friend who was so far away preparing for our godson's arrival.

We continued through our day a bit and in a few hours I received the email. Our godson had arrived!!! A week early but everyone was happy and doing well. God is so good.

I know this has been a long post so I'll wrap it up. It was only while I was packing the car for our pilgrimage that I realized what had happened. We were heading to a parish that bore the same name as our newly arrived godson...the only parish I could find in the US with that name...and we were going today to pray for him. Today. The day of his birth. What a "coincidence" that I would choose today of all days for this journey. AHEM. God's timing is always perfect. Wow. I was so struck at that moment with His perfect plan for us. How we are all intertwined in this plan and how we can choose to see His hand in so many things if we just look.

Thanks for are the pictures :0)

This is where we went:

This is why we went:

Tobias Nathaniel born at 9:20 AM, Saturday, August 30th.

Can't wait to meet you, sweet boy. May God's mercy and blessings be on you every day of your life. We love you so very much.

We are blessed!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Amazing, glorious day!

So, whatever happens for the rest of the day, I'm good. More on the really good stuff tomorrow or Monday (you can wait, it's worth it!) but, just now...

I ran two miles in just over 26 minutes. I know, you're thinking, "I run a 10k in 26 minutes" and, to you, I say...that's really awesome! For me, the "plodder", this is awesome. Mostly because I ran it on a treadmill - yes, the most boring, un-like running piece of equipment known to man. So, a 13:10 minute mile on a treadmill is the same as me, I don't know, running in Wisconsin or somewhere. Which I will be...very, very soon!

This morning, I got to see my blonde-haired brother. He's in for Labor Day with his really pretty, really fun girlfriend. It's nice to see him giggly happy. Well, as close as a Slovak can get to that, anyway.

Now we're on a pilgrimage North. I just found out there is a Polish festival in the town over from where we will attend Vigil Mass so, there you go. The good stuff just keeps coming.

I'm going to BURST now with excitement about the other stuff so I'll just stop for now. If you get this before you go to Mass and you think of it, please pray for a special intention. Promise...I'll tell you soon (but, in case you're prone to speculation, it's not that we're pregnant). It's almost as good, though :0)

We are sooo blessed.

Friday, August 29, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real} - late Summer edition

round button chicken

It's been a whole lot of crazy around here lately...trying to squeeze every last bit of Summer out of these dog days (it was hot enough to melt our box of crayons this afternoon!). Here are some of the things we've been up to.


Birthday morning Mass then a FEAST to celebrate #1 turning 9! Stuffing ourselves with Pamela's (yes, I had lunch...I'm the only person on earth who doesn't appreciate their crepes, palachinki, pancakes) then a yummy home-cooked dinner, complete with lots of yummy, out-of-the-garden (well, someone's garden ;0) ) veggies. Mmmm.

Dinner al fresco, parks, baseball games and the last days of the excellent way to end August.


A little dance party for those who weren't interested in the slightly chilly water. Sorry you can't hear the music...he was right on beat. I think he is also in love with that lifeguard. He insisted that she watch all his moves.

Just one more...aren't they cute? The Slovak mafia.

We are beginning to develop a decent routine in our school day now that we've been at it for nearly two months. Still, I am so thankful that we homeschool. Then, when we feel like changing things up a bit, it's no problem. The day these pictures were taken, we walked to the library, returned to the back yard, selected our reading material and got down to it. (#1 is not reading because she read the whole walk, she won't be driving at 16).

Oh, there is one more "real" in our lives these days...our HUGE trip West (in like 10 days...eek). More later but, for now, I have the kids pouring over all the great info to decide what we should see during our trip.
I don't care where we seems they have cheese and beer everywhere ;0)
I also gave #1 Marian Shrines of the US to identify some good places to stop to make our travel more of a pilgrimage. I find, when traveling with five tiny people, it's good to remember Our Lady all along the way. Here is her list...did I mention it's only a 5 day trip?

Wishing you all a safe and blessed weekend. 


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Guess who came to visit!!!????

Any idea??? (Chocolate is one of the major food groups)

How about now???(I know the "Sloak" probably throws you off)
Fr. Peter, my cousin from Slovakia, was visiting this weekend! This trip he brought along two other priests and a doctor, all from his area of the country. What a blessed, exhausting few days! There is something so amazing about interacting with people from another country. The fact that they were priests, well, you know that was awesome. We are so blessed to have this opportunity.
Have you seen this? What an excellent way to work "art" into our trip!

Fr. Joseph, Dr. M and Fr. Frank...aren't they cute ;0)

Because school is everywhere, we had a great lesson on the Pittsburgh Agreement (PA/World history and geography) while walking downtown.

Then saw the actual agreement in the Czech-Slovak room at Pitt!

Godfather and Godson playing airplane in the parking garage.
Please pray for their merry band as they make their way to Niagara Falls and Toronto before heading back to the continent. What a wonderful weekend spent with family and friends. What a great gift to meet others who pray for and support what we do. We are blessed!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sweet Baby Girl

Nine years ago, right around this time, I became a mother. It wasn't an easy, entry into motherhood. It was a vomiting all night, miserable back labor, end with a C-section entry. Still, I wouldn't change any of it. It made me appreciate that this was the first of many, many, many times I would struggle and sweat and swear and bleed and pray to eventually, with God's good help, end up with something precious beyond measure. A good lesson for a new mom :0)

Happy birthday to #1. I love her so much. She is truly our "bundle of love".

Here is a walk down memory lane. Notice the changes in parents, siblings and camera quality - lol!

Baptism, 2005, St. Patrick's
Winter, 2006

New House, 2007
With #3 ;0) 2008
Turning 4, 2009
Finally a sister! 2010
Georgia Aquarium, 2011
Mr. G, 2012
Party in Siroke :0), 2013
Amazing Big Sis, 2014

Happy birthday to my second true love (well, you know, the first helped get her here...). I can't imagine a world without you. May God bless you with the grace to know His will and the fortitude to carry it out. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pools, Parks and Precious Ones

Tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of my delivering our 6th child while we were on a pilgrimage to Slovakia. If you need to catch up, go here. I suppose, more than anything, I am amazed at how quickly a year has passed. Time seems to go so quickly these days...

The little people around here have been in a slight funk as of late. In today's society it just reminds me that we are truly the oddest of the odd but it is almost like they are mourning the lack of a new sibling. It's not just about Bernadette either. We were on a routine. Every 18-21 months a fresh new miracle would arrive. Here we are at 28 months and nothing. I am trying to gloss it over as much as possible but I also want them to speak about their longing. After all, I have longing too. It's important that we acknowledge it and use that struggle in the best possible way.

So, today, we went and "did" things to change our pace a bit. Grocery shopping en masse (which means a trip to the "Eagle's Nest" and the video games that accompany it - we are so weird...#3 and #2 were bragging on the way out about who lost more games of Angry Birds...because they only see/play them there - cracks me up). Then we headed to the cemetery.

Usually we hit our family cemetery but, being one day from Bernadette's birthday, we went to the special place. I have mentioned before that we knew a family who lost a baby at birth and who then had to move far away because of a job. I feel so close to this situation. I left my baby in the care of someone else far away. I am so grateful for this chance. While it's not their sibling, the kids also get to visit someone else's sister who, I know they believe as I do, is playing with Bernadette in heaven (and Maria and Katrina and all the other friends). I like that thought. I can't wait to get there and join in the fun :0)

After placing our flowers and saying our prayers, we headed to the park. I laughed because even then the Holy Spirit was hard at work...while strapping G into his seat, a woman jogged by,
"Are they all yours?"
"Yes, they are!"
"Wow, God loves you"
"He really does."
Just in case I was tempted to get bogged down in the sorrow that is losing a baby...a small reminder to cherish and give thanks for the amazing miracles that are here with us now.

So we spent the rest of the day at the park and the pool and got nice and worn out...too much so to think about sad things right now. Who could be sad, after all, with such an amazing gift of a day?

Tomorrow we will get up very early to attend Mass and spend the morning as a family. Praying and remembering. I will share the "birthday candle" that our precious friend lit for B at Adoration in the wee hours of today

We will give thanks for all the friends who are praying for us or remembering our little one as we are. We will light the candle we brought her from Slovakia and ring her bell, calling out to her in heaven; remembering the day last year when she moved from our earthly family to her eternal dwelling place. We will pray for all the families who have lost a baby before, during or after birth. We will ask Our Mother to comfort us all. Then we will move back into our lives and, while we never really forget, we let it take a place in the background of our routine. The gifts of today are so fleeting. We should bask in them while they are with us, always grateful for our intercessors in heaven.

St. Bernard, Pray for Us

Monday, August 18, 2014

Loving that Holy Spirit

Don't you love it when a beautiful friend (who has five gazillion other things to do) sends you an amazing card to remember you and pray for you during an extra-stressful week? Don't you love it when, in that same stack of cards, an engraved gift that you've been waiting for, a gift for said friend's soon-to-be-birthed baby, also arrives?

AND DON'T YOU REALLY LOVE IT when that baby happens to have a name so unique that there is only one (that I can find anyway) Catholic church with that name in the US??? And...wait for it...

DON'T YOU LOVE IT EVEN MORE when that church is within a day's drive of your own personal home? You know, so that you can drive there to have the item blessed in the namesake church.

Seriously, people. If you think this is all coincidence, you're really not paying attention!

So, you do it now. Go and find your Holy Spirit connection this week. Open your heart and mind and, I promise you, it will be there. God can do that...He can do all things. You won't believe how it will make you smile :0)

We are soooooo very blessed.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fun with Flax :0)

Did you know that once it is spun, flax is forever known as linen? This is just one of the fabulous little tidbits we learned today at the Summer Flax Festival at the Oliver Miller Homestead in nearby South Park. It was so amazing to see the process of turning a long, green weed-looking plant into a beautiful piece of linen cloth. I am in awe of the pioneers. I can't imagine living back then. Sometimes, though, I wish we could...even for a while. It seems like it would be so hard but still so blessed being that close to the land. It reminded me a bit of Slovakia. Simple people with hard lives but so much to accomplish each day and not much time to worry about what other people are doing/thinking. We are so lucky to have this nearby. They still have lots of fun things happening this Fall so, if you are close, make a point to get there.

That is the whole process...truly amazing to watch. Oh, not the last picture. She was just finding out what it's like to be a "mom" in the 18th century. LOL

Have a blessed week!