Sunday, November 30, 2014

And so we wait.

Happy Liturgical New Year!

I wish I were as on my game as in previous years and had a New Year's Eve party last night but, considering we were at a birthday party the night before and Thanksgiving the day before that, I just needed a break from all the festivities...we had a nice quiet evening at home, making an Advent wreath and preparing ourselves for the time of preparation.

I like the quiet of this time of the year. Not that it's quiet in this house. The quiet that seems to invade my heart. The Christmas stuff is taken care of mostly. (I'm discerning the cards...they're done but I'm thinking of not sending them until Christmas Eve or later...not to disturb anyone's Advent and so they can enjoy them during the Christmas season). The gifts need to be wrapped but that will happen in it's good time. For now, there are more pressing matters.


We are in another sacrament year - this time it's #2. First Penance occurs this week! I am always so happy that they do this during Advent. What a fantastic way to prepare for His birth!

It's been funny to watch how a totally different personality approaches this preparation...somewhat timid (behind the screen) and not-at-all racing to get there like #1...although, just the other day, I heard him say "I wish Reconciliation would hurry up...I could sure use it." Amen.

Now I just have to keep myself from weeping during the practice sessions. When I hear "Bless me Father, this is my first confession" I just well up. What a grace he is undertaking for the rest of his life. How blessed we all are to share in this!


So, no one will ever mistake me for a crafty person but I made our Advent wreath last night. We had one that wrote out the word "LOVE" but then I read it should be a, we have a wreath. It's nothing exciting but it will do for our nights of family dinner and prayer while we wait for Him. We are so blessed to share this time together. 


You know me and the Holy Spirit by now...I love it. So, today when I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't possibly haul myself all the way down to the Oratory for Adoration because 1. it's too late in the evening and 2. it's too far away, the phone rings. Would I be willing to fill in on Wednesday nights for the forseeable future (like through Advent and Christmas) at a local parish? Yes, of course. Thanks for ringing me up. There is nothing that helps me settle and calm like an hour alone with Christ in the Eucharist.

Also, the Children's Rosary group is making the 33 Day Consecration to Jesus through Mary (it started yesterday). What a great way to assure yourself of some daily prayer! Feel free to jump in and catch up if you wish. I'm using 33 Days to Morning Glory because, you know, Fr. Gaitley wrote it :0) and truth-be-told the St. Louis de DeMontfort original isn't going to keep me awake when I'm praying at night these days. That's terrible, I know, but I'm not going to start something that I know I will fail immediately. I'm trying to keep my daily rosary during the 33 Days so we'll see how it goes.

That's what we're doing. Us. Your Advent may look completely different. That is OK. I will be praying that whatever you choose to do, add or subtract, you do it with your heart turned toward waiting for the birth of our Savior. 

I've noticed that #1 is voicing some strong opinions these days and I can hear that they aren't entirely charitable (and many sound disturbingly like something I would say). I'll be using this Advent to help her (and myself!) make choices that keep her on the right path while (quietly) praying that others move in that direction as well. If she rants to you about a Lego Advent calendar that counts down the days to Santa's arrival (and gives you toys every day until Christmas when, I guess, you get more toys)...well, it couldn't be helped. I'm human. (Seriously...there is a new version every year and it's $60!)

There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands. - Isaiah

Blessings to you and yours on this first day of Advent. May your waiting be fruitful.

St. Andrew, Pray for Us! 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Five on Friday

What a week. I stand by my feeling that "holiday" weeks seem longer somehow. This was no exception. It's nice having DH around for four days but, whew, it was a long beginning to the week!

1. Light's Out

We had some wicked wind come through here on Monday afternoon. It was fun listening to the howling and watching things blow least until the lights went out. I am grateful that we have laptops that double as DVD players...just the thing to keep little boys less anxious as night falls. It was also a good time to walk around and light our candles, praying for safety and a quick return of the power.

 Just as the last bit of sun left us and Word World finished its run, daddy arrived with Chinese takeout and brought the lights with him :0)

2. Sniffs and Shots

Tuesday was flu shot clinic. The needle fear is nearly as strong as the bath fear around here so there was a slow simmer of anxiety all day. I did my best to divert attention with trips to the pretzel shop and the Mission (I delivered 6 trash bags full of toys and Christmas, win) and we were all very thrilled when we arrived at the office and realized 4 of the 5 would have the nasal spray this year. Joy. The tiny man is my hero. Big shot in his chub and no tears! Triple bonus of Chick-fil-a drive-through (no way I'm taking post-flu-vaccine kids there on family night) garnered the regular kids meal toy PLUS a cup AND a stuffed cow. Wow!

Superhero with cup and cow!


There is so much on this list. The kids and I did our "thankful turkeys" and it was a nice time together, music playing, watching the snow. May I never forget, even for a moment, how blessed I am.

4. Funny

My aunt bought these dishtowels for my birthday. I see no resemblance whatsoever.

5. Real

There are no more tragic children who visit Santa than my own. I'm not sure why, other than we never do it and never talk about it so, I guess they have no clue. This time I did it because I know my mom is always itching for a Santa photo op. In Market Square before the dance there was no line and it's only $5. Sold.

The problem is Santa. The kids can stand and smile but then there is the odd "what do you want for Christmas?" Do most kids say, "I don't know" or "nothing"? #2 actually managed to get out "a Christmas ornament" (I'm guessing because he saw the tree) but was unmasked when, pressed further, he said "shaped like a Christmas tree". Ug. It only gets better.

#1s answer was "nothing" to every question posed, "dolly, game, bike?" I said, "well, how about an end to hunger or world peace or something?" Sometimes I should just butt out because she then said, beginning to weep, "it would be really nice if everyone were just happy and got along." Eeyore visits Santa. I hand it to him, though. He pointed to her heart and said, "If you're happy here then all the people you see will be happy too." It bought her enough time for us to grab our picture and head out the door. I'm sure we'll laugh about it one day. Probably when I'm standing in line with my grandkids waiting to visit Santa.

Now I'm going back to enjoying our complete family...home and unbusy for an entire day.

We are blessed!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Praise To Our God...

Thankful today...
For my life and the lives of those that surround me
For the chance to attend Mass and share it with a church filled with people
For a mid-morning jog amidst the snowflakes
For a post-jog rosary to check in with Our Lady, my Mother
For old age beginning and the chance that gives me to depend more on others
For the marital disagreements which help communication and unity grow
For faithful friends, beautiful babies and new acquaintances
For family time
For spoken prayers for far away family
For the joy of knowing, amid the stress, Adoration awaits me tonight
For baby and far away
For all of God's creation. How blessed we are to be here.
"Would that I could exhaust myself in acts of thanksgiving and gratitude towards this Divine Heart, for the great favor He shows us, in deigning to accept our help to make Him known, loved and honored; He reserves infinite blessings for all those who devote themselves to this work."
— St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Il fait neige!

Or however you say that ;0)

Looks like hot cocoa and snuggling to me. I think our Thanksgiving break has officially begun!

Wishing you all a safe and blessed Thanksgiving. Remember all of those blessings...every day :0)

Monday, November 24, 2014


This was today's Morning Offering:

"Crosses release us from this world and by doing so bind us to God."
— Blessed Charles de Foucauld

An excellent prelude to the day. This morning I took #1 and #2 to attend the funeral of the mother of #1's classmate. She was 42 and had just ended her 7 year battle with breast cancer. It was a blessing for me to take these two and wade in amongst the other mourners. It was impressive to see the sheer number of people, equivalent to a Christmas Mass, who showed up to pay their respects. I didn't know Colleen well but it is clear that she had touched many lives.

I'm not sure if it's a bad thing or not (I was also paying attention to the Mass) but I have to look around and see the reactions. Having trained to study people, it's what I do.  Catholic funeral Masses are the most interesting to me. There is such a collision between sadness for losing someone on this earth and understanding that they have finally shaken off this world to earn their eternal reward. I call the former "selfishness" when I'm talking about myself to my kids, i.e., "if you were to die, I would be sad because I would want to keep you here with me but that is a little selfish on my part because you would be going to be with God forever". It's not a bad reaction, this selfish sorrow. Nor is the sadness that comes with watching a young father heard his young children up the aisle. It is sad to think that such a big part of their life is gone. It is human to think about all the difficult times that they will likely face. Still, it would be wrong, as a Catholic, to spend a long time being overcome with this grief. We know that there is more.

There are always at least a few at each funeral who, while I'm sure grieving the loss, don't break down openly. Perhaps that is just a personality thing (the public sorrow). Today I had the opportunity to witness the reaction of my #1 and a nun who was sitting one pew in front of us. Both showed ample respect for the dead and the mourners but neither were openly weeping. This was especially interesting to me because a group of girls my daughter's age were behind us sobbing a good deal of the time (so much so that I wanted to rock them for a while - the heartbreak was palpable). I'm never sure how people around us would react to my daughter in this instance, maybe no one saw her, but it's clear to me what's happening in her brain (especially since I asked her after the fact). She is sorry for her friend and sorry that the mother is no longer with her babies but she understands that Colleen is now on her journey to rest with God. After all the trials she faced in this life, she is in her final stretch. That is a good thing. We were driving a bit later this afternoon and I told them to look for rainbows (the weather is windy/rainy and very unsettled). We came over a hill in the town where Colleen (and we) lived and there it was. #1 quietly said, "you know mom, I think that is God welcoming Mrs. Pasquale home." I couldn't agree more.

Why does she have this insight? I think it is helpful that it wasn't her mother. I would like to believe she would have been openly sorrowful if it were me (although after saying what a nice first reading they chose, she turned to me and said, "maybe we can read it at your death."). Whatever reason God gave her this bit of wisdom, it is good that she is here with me. She teaches me a lot about the bigger picture.

I pray that all of those who were there today and who are deep in grief will one day, with time and distance, change perspective and rejoice in their wife/daughter/mother's arrival in her heavenly home. I don't know what the time period is. I still have moments when I am caught short by the thought of not seeing my dad again here. That makes it even more amazing to me when I read the blog of a mother who just lost her son to a 4 year battle with cancer (he was 6) and see that she has clarity this early in the process:

If sadness is my burden that I carry, then JOY is my strength.  
Why did God allow him to have cancer?  Why did he survive so long with it when other kids do not?  Why were we chosen to walk this journey?  We may never fully know the answers on this side of heaven...and that's okay.  It's not our job to know all these would be too much for us to know.  So I take comfort in knowing that God is in control and that He is good all the time.

In time, I will put down this blanket of sadness.  But, the great news???

The JOY will still be here!  

Amazing. What grace has been given to this woman. "He is good all the time"! Wow. We all need to strive for this. If a loved one is ill or has died, it's important to feel sorrow but not sorrow alone. And not for so long that we lose the opportunity to bind our cross to Christ or to bring about mercy. The death and the suffering are that person's cross but they can be our opportunity. From Saint John Paul the Great:
"Only later did I begin to grasp the profound meaning of the mystery of human suffering. In the weakness of the sick, I saw emerging ever more clearly a new sense of strength - the strength of mercy. In a sense, the sick provoke mercy...By their illness and suffering they call forth acts of mercy and create the possibility for accomplishing them"
We are blessed. Let us thank God in all things and remember that we are in community. Share the blessings and burdens you have with others and let them walk with you as you in turn share theirs. What a joyous thought for the coming season.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Luckily there is Sunday for rest...

Yesterday was a blessed and busy day. Whew. Cold too but I guess that's what happens in late November (although it's 50+ now so don't ask me about the weather). Anywho...we had a great Saturday. Here's the recap.

Little Dribblers is kind of like Little Kickers except for basketball and they let 9-year-olds play and you get a multi-kid discount! That means only one little person to contain. Plus, several friends have joined in and it's a wonderful way to spend Saturday morning!

So far no one has shown any of mama's genes on this one but it's still early. Perhaps Mr. G will be a strong forward one day ;0) For now, we're enjoying big people time while the little ones run around.
Next, it was off to Market Square to dance with the Pittsburgh Area Slovaks to usher in the opening of the Christmas market. We stopped to see Santa before they danced. It didn't go well. When I have the strength I might actually write about it later in the week. For now, we saw a bunch of mascots at the ice rink (bonus) and danced our hearts out (at least they were was frigid) and had fun. Mr. G was safe at home with Grammy and Auntie.


We are blessed! Have a happy, warm feast of Christ the King everyone. If today's Gospel got you in the mood to live out some corporal works, don't forget Fr. Gaitley's book! (no, he's not paying's just really great - I can't imagine what would happen if everyone tried follow it regularly.)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Favs on Friday

Nearly done with my shopping (actually I am I just need to stop). Just in case you need a few ideas...

1. Book
Sorry to go on and on but You Did It To Me from Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC is amazing. I'm pretty sure it would be awesome for any Christian, Catholic or not. What a great, action-oriented read. I'm all about pondering the scriptures but sometimes it's nice to do something.

2. Game

If you're looking for a really fun way to teach US geography without your kids finding out, this is your game! #3 is a master already (he busted me the other day when I was trying to move from NJ to MD) and it's our current go-to game. I would wager we play it at least 4-5 times per week.
 3. Little People Game

I wouldn't say we play the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel as often as Destination but it is a nice option for the 4-and-under crowd. Miles more exciting than Candyland (zzz) and the other like games. It also works on dexterity...always a plus.

4. Easy Shopping

I was talking with someone the other day and they told me they hadn't heard of Zulily. What now? Next to Amazon it's the name that is on most of the boxes that arrive on our porch this festive time of year. Toys, clothes for kids, adults and all sorts of cool house items...So, if you're like my friend, go HERE and get started. You're welcome.

5. Spouse Gifting...

DH and I ceased giving one another major gifts, well, I suppose when the kids came along. I don't know if it was a conscious thing or we just stopped one year but, most of the time it's all copacetic.  I say most of the time because I do remember one specific year that I was in a really bad place in my cycle and his mom was in town and...well, that's a story for another time. The rule is not hard and fast either. I will pick up a gadget or t-shirt if it seems particularly timely. I don't think I can pass on this...I think it will be his new favorite wear-out-shopping-on-a-busy-Saturday shirt ;0)


Get your shopping done soon so that you can fully and consciously prepare for His Joyous Birth on Christmas. We are blessed!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord

and may perpetual light shine upon them.
Today marks the fifth anniversary of my Uncle's death. Since I only ever had two uncles and this one lived nearby, he was the favorite. It went way beyond that, though. I loved so much about him and especially I loved to hear him speak. He seemed like one of the most intelligent people in the world to me. He was down-to-earth in ways that few others can grasp. "Things" meant nothing to him...people were most important. He and my Aunt were seasoned professionals, married later in life and had no children. We were so blessed to be "adopted" by them in so many senses.

After losing my own father too early, he was the one to walk me down the aisle. I still remember, just before we started toward the altar, he turned to me and said, "it's not too late...we can make a run for it." Funny that since the man he lead me to is like him in so many ways. How blessed we were to have this smart, funny, passionate man in our lives for so long.

We went to Holy Hour for Families tonight with the intention of praying for my dear Uncle. How appropriate then that we heard that the mother of my daughter's schoolmate also died today. She had battled breast cancer for so long and finally moved on to her eternal rest. I am just so sad for Angelo, the dad. I saw him last week and he looked, I told my husband, like a man who's wife was dying. Part desperation, part exhaustion, part extreme sorrow. The kids are so sweet. It will be a long road. Please keep them in your prayers. 

Our kids all thanked us for taking them to Holy Hour tonight. I didn't take the time to ask them why. I think they all had different reasons (like #5's reason would have been - thanks for letting me run around the entire hour but not for stopping me just short of the altar!). Whatever the reason, it was good that we could be there as a family; praying for other families and for the family of the Church. As I have said before, I'm always astonished when I look around and see so few others in our situation. I just say a prayer and trust that they are on their own path toward God and that one day we may actually all be in the same room. 

The homily was about the abuse of busyness today. How we are all too busy to eat, talk or pray together with our families and children. Let's try harder over the next few days to find that time so that next Thursday we can truly be grateful for all of our gifts.

We are so blessed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Why you should review the daily readings the night before...

“‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness,
the source of God’s creation, says this:
“I know your works;
I know that you are neither cold nor hot.
I wish you were either cold or hot.
So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out of my mouth.
For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’
and yet do not realize that you are wretched,
pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich,
and white garments to put on
so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed,
and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see.
Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise.
Be earnest, therefore, and repent." - Revelation 14-22

This was part of the first reading for today. Had I read it, perhaps my day would have gone differently. I'm noticing lately that I have to do this sort of "prep" to glean some guidance for my day and even then I miss out on too many opportunities to do the right and proper thing. My DH, because of goodness or sheer will, seems to be more stalwart in his faith when the difficulties come. Let me explain.

#1 was scheduled to serve daily Mass at 8 AM today. Having noticed that it would be in the teens (and less, windchill) at that time, we decided to let the little ones (and me) sleep and he would take her. This turned out to be an excellent plan since Mr. G had a recurring nightmare about losing his bearfriend from 2:17 AM onward.

Having slept in a bit, I wandered downstairs around 8 to start my coffeepot (which I forgot to fill...oops) and I noticed the garage door was open and that both cars were there. I remember thinking, "this is not good" and proceeded to check the backyard and surroundings to make sure the two didn't fall on ice and knock themselves unconscious (I'm worrisome on a good day - with no sleep, I can invent some pretty crazy scenarios).

Making my way to the front of the house I realized the culprit was a car parked across our driveway, making it impossible to get out. This makes me livid. Seriously. If you want to drive me insane just have your friends park us in every night. It would probably only take a week. Added to the normal rage I feel, I then realize that my husband and children (yes, #2 also went) were forced to walk through the cold for half a mile because of this person's decision.

Of course I called the police - mainly because, at that point, the culprit had pushed the remote starter to warm the car properly but still wasn't kind enough to move the car or even identify themselves. Twenty minutes later, the police arrive and the woman as well, now that the car was nice and toasty. "No, I can't give her a ticket, he says...she's leaving". The worst thing I called him was "dude" (which he immediately questioned) and still he was completely unmoved by my plight.

So, lack of sleep notwithstanding, I totally blew it. I was very angry and I didn't handle the situation with any of the compassion and understanding to which we are called. Perhaps she was coming home late from work and didn't notice the driveway. Perhaps she had to visit a sick friend and fell asleep. Perhaps...Thanks to God, my helper arrived right at 8:30 so I was able to rescue the travelers at church before they walked home.

It was then the Holy Spirit saw fit to chastise me as necessary and to reinforce the point...

"Wow, I hand it to you, husband...I'm not sure I would have pressed on"

"Well," said DH, " She didn't want to miss her Mass and he (#2) kept saying 'I want to visit Jesus' this morning, so we went. Turns out the first reading was about not being lukewarm in your faith so it was a good teaching moment."

He amazes me more than just some of the time. What a blessing it is to walk with him through this life - he is so good at forcing me to look at the other person's point-of-view. If he and the kids weren't angry, what right did I have?

Thankfully I have another chance tonight to join with him as we talk about parenting to the families seeking baptism for their children. Pray that I may lose all lukewarmness in my faith (although I'm fairly certain I will be physically freezing at that point). How good it is that we have so many new and different opportunities to provide witness to our faith!

We are blessed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Five on Friday

Today I'm thinking about others. Mostly, anyway, because we have a boatload of things going on and most of it is happening outside of these walls. Here are a few.

1. This Book

I am reading a few books simultaneously right now and, while they do seem to mesh, for better or worse, there is definitely one that I find myself agreeing with on every page. You Did it to Me: A Practical Guide to Mercy in Action This book is such a gift to me. Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC is extremely gifted when it comes to actually answering the question of how we can be the face of Christ to those around us. He uses the Works of Mercy and it is BRILLIANT.

You know I have a soft spot for the MICs but, beyond that, this is a wonderful book. I kind of go through life, trying to listen to the Holy Spirit, trying to point my kids in the right direction and it has been heartening to see some of the things I already do, listed in the book! So I am on the right track in some areas! Praise God!

2. The Works in Action

I am a member of Martha's Ministry at our parish. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me at this point in my life and a great way to show the kids how to put the needs of others ahead of our own.

Next Tuesday is the annual Thanksgiving dinner at Angels' Place, an organization that provides assistance and childcare to single parents who are full-time students and have children under 5. This year we're participating a little with the meal but we were also asked to come up with crafts for the kids during dinner.

#s 1 and 2 and I headed to Michaels the other day and picked out some things we thought they would like. #2 is an artist and all-around crafty guy and it was difficult for him to walk through that store and think about something other than all the great things he would like to create. I was proud of him for helping some other little people that he doesn't even know; especially since it meant skipping his crafts this time around.

Today the other three helped out. They sorted and stuffed until everything was ready for the party. We had a lot of fun and talked about how blessed we are to have our home and our family.


Another suggestion in the book is making meals for someone (feeding the hungry and ransoming the captive - in the case of a new mom ;0) ) Monday's meal is for a new mom, this is #6, with several teens in the mix. Just my style - LOTS of food!

This particular work has been such a blessing for our entire family. Our Martha's Ministry also takes weekend meals (meals on wheels doesn't deliver on Saturday and Sunday) to a lovely older man who lives alone and doesn't get around very well. He has been so sweet to the kids. They see his gratitude and realize they've done something very special. 

4. Mercy
Most little kids go through the "terrified of my bath" stage; I know that. I think the issue is when the kids are many and close, that stage never really passes...different kid, same blood curdling scream. So, I have to give big kudos to my DH who can calmly and lovingly manage a 4-year-old darling who, when being carried unwillingly upstairs, cries out as loud as humanly possible (I guess it's good that we live in a stand-alone house) "I WILL scream through my whole bath...I WILL cry very hard." God bless him. He has an amazing store of grace in that particular area.
So, as usual, I am a day late and a number short but, who cares? I'm off to make the new mom meal and watch my kids build girder and panel with their dad. We are blessed.
Happy Sunday everyone!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

St. Martin's Lent and other ideas...

The geography fair on Saturday was more than just learning about other countries. For us, while researching more into the Slovak Christmas traditions, we were also learning more about our Catholic faith. Today, for instance, is the Feast of St. Martin of Tours after which began "St. Martin's Lent" the period of waiting and abstinence that leads to Christmas. This was in the fifth century of course so things have lightened up a bit (less time, less fasting). Still, Advent is a time of prayerful waiting and we are waiting for something wonderful - the birth of our Savior! Why this requires less rather than more time, I don't know. As always, no one consulted me ;0)

That's a long way of saying I LOVE the Slovak Christmas book that we used to research the Christmas Eve meal and it has a whole script for St. Martin's Lent so that's what we're doing this year. Don't worry too would seem the Slovaks need a lot of "feasting" within the fast so there are all sorts of feast days that are noted along the way. I'm so excited to learn more about this history and these Saints and join it all together as a family activity.

So, when I mentioned St. Martin's Lent the little people started into a very frank discussion about what they were willing to give up (or do in addition) during this time. #3 is a great reminder of why there is an age limit for fasting/abstaining...I can also think of one very good thing for #1 to abstain from ;0)

#3 - I am giving up doughnuts for St. Martin's Lent
Me - OK but what happens if daddy brings them home for dessert some day?
#3 - Oh, I won't give them up that day then
#1 - That's not how it works!!!

You know, though, I'm dealing with little people who have short attention spans and limited will power. I do think that's the way it will work this time around...abstaining from something one day and adding something extra another day. As long as we're learning the faith and understanding the purpose of giving up/doing more, that's good enough for me.
  And, yes, it's totally cool that it is Veterans' Day and St. Martin of Tours is the Patron Saint of Soldiers.

Thank you to all the veterans (Uncle Charlie!), especially those who paid the ultimate price for our country's freedom. There was a lovely man walking into the grocery store today and it was clear that he was a proud veteran. I wanted so much to thank him...for me, for my children, but all I had were tears. I think, when he saw them he knew because he smiled the most beautiful smile. How selfless these men were and how grateful we should all remain.

We are so very blessed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Merciful Monday

If you've been reading along, you know that our weekends have been packed lately...the geography fair was awesome (see? no time to even write about it)!

While I enjoy our pilgrimages, time with friends, etc., most of the time a weekend like that leaves me slightly depressed and extremely exhausted on Monday.

Today was no exception. On days like today, I promptly turn off my alarm and snooze a bit until it's clear to DH that it's going to be "one of those days" and he usually picks up the slack for a bit until the guilt kicks in - how can I expect him to do more than he does now? Then I kind of mope around a bit, hoping that he'll say "go back to bed. I'll work from home" which, curiously, happened a lot more when I was pregnant...guess I went to that well a few too many times. :0)

So, he was out the door and I took a few minutes to check email. To my delight, though not completely a surprise since she's been on my mind a lot lately, I had an email from a long-lost friend! Since she does all that I do (with more kids) that's always a good motivator. Besides, it's just so nice to hear from her.

Then, God in His Mercy (or, truthfully, it feels more like Our Lady or even St. Gianna making good on the prayer for our marriage/family) decided it was a good day to allow this to finally happen...

Yes! The car that was purchased for me when we were married (12 years ago - it was used, btw) finally gave up). Wahoo! No, I don't believe God made the car stop working, it was on its way all along...I just think He realized it might be a nice morning to have my husband around a little bit longer.

So he was and I was able to sit with #3 and get some excellent work done while the little ones napped and the older two did their work. A crummy day turned into a blessing.

Not to mention the show at lunch - getting a tilt body down our driveway is no small feat. Excellent entertainment for little people.

 At least something holds their attention!
 Pulling it onto the truck.
He jumped down, bib and all, to see daddy up on the truck.

Encouragement from above on a sleepy, unmotivated day. We are blessed!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

More perspective, great blessing

Today for the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica and day 9 of our current novena, we headed here
St. Matthias church in Evans City.
What an adorable little church. Sometimes I like these just a little bit better than the one we currently attend but that's a talk for another time. For now, it was nice to worship in a place with 15 rows of pews on each side, surrounded by others who have come to worship...many with 4 or 5 little ones in tow. Kind of reminded me of my parish in KY:
altar, tabernacle, St. Joseph, Blessed Mother, Crucifix. That's all you need
Unfortunately,  the lack of mosaics on the ceiling prevented the tiny man from being well-behaved but otherwise, we did our best I think. It was wonderful to be in this church on this day, to hear in the homily that the Church is people...not buildings. Having been lots of places and in lots of Catholic Church buildings, I wholeheartedly agree.
That was just gravy though because we were going for another reason. Today, after Mass, the traveling relics of St. Gianna Molla were there.
Not just, "aren't they pretty to look at" relics. These were her actual gloves that you could pick up and touch. We held them as a family and asked her to guide us to God as she did always in her life. I asked for her motherly blessings on me as I try to raise my children and set a good example. We held them to our wedding bands and asked her to watch over our marriage. DS brought his Bible and #s 1&3 brought their patron Saint medals. We heard her story again and it was really a beautiful opportunity to show them that Saints are real people that lived just like we do.
Finally, because you love a good Holy Spirit story as much as I...
We were standing in line for the relics and they announced that there were holy cards you could touch to the relic then take home. #1 leans over to me and says, "I wonder if they would let me have more than one?" I asked why and she said, "This month, Little Flowers (her girls' club that studies virtues and the Saints) is on St. Gianna."

Yes, I laughed out loud. Would she ever think to mention this before we were standing in line or does she just know that the Holy Spirit will take care of her needs? Undoubtedly. Perhaps that was her silent intention during our novena this past week. Regardless, she got the prayer cards and we were all richly blessed by the experience.
We returned home and settled in for lunch. I had asked DH if I could skip out to go and run the course for an upcoming 5K (more later) and of course he said yes because he is awesome. I made my way into a largely silent town (football is out of state today) and had an amazingly beautiful run. I know there are so many areas of the country that are gorgeous but I think there is something about the places you knew when you were little that warm your heart even more. For me, it's enjoying the quiet and basking in God's beauty. How blessed I am.

"The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for all that He, in His goodness, sends to us day after day".
St. Gianna, Pray for Us!

Friday, November 7, 2014

All the Whos down in Whoville

have nothing on my children

We need an indoor gym stat or it's going to be one long winter.

We are blessed ;0)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fighting for Family

I've been writing and rewriting, hoping to get a handle on this topic. Lately there have been several news stories that have come to my attention and I feel like it may be time to get this completed and published. Bear with me...I have no answers, only thoughts on the issue.

The kids are getting older and with that, I am beginning to see, comes more opportunities outside the home. This is often a good and right thing (even for me who would rather keep all my peeps in the coop). I know that they need to be away from here sometimes, form friendships, explore new things.

Homeschooling enables us to work in a lot of the "away-from-home" time during the day. For now, this could not be more perfect. I am so much more willing to say yes to an outside activity with this arrangement than I would be otherwise. Let's see, you're at school for 7+ hours of your day and you want to do X which will take you away another hour or two in the evening (or worse, on weekends)? Uh, that would be a "no". It wouldn't be easy because I would still want all the good things I stated above but I would have to say it anyway. That's just the right thing for us to do. (Having said that you will see, below, that I still ended up with a crazy schedule for a while.)

I know you've read the studies about how family meals cut down on any number of difficulties as the kids get older. I take most studies with a grain of salt. Still, how could this be wrong? An hour or more of together time in the evening to process your day with one another. Time to recharge within your home instead of trying to "catch up" with a happy meal in the car. How can that be a bad thing? Worst case, you're all texting during the meal and it doesn't really count. Possibly, though, there will be a day or two (among many perhaps) that something comes up and is addressed with time and attention. Sounds good to me.

This season we found ourselves, during a 6-week period, with evening activities 3 days per week. This meant that DH had to rush home from work and we had to rush through dinner so that we could be on the road. It was pretty clear that wasn't going to happen long-term and, after the language course ended, nothing took its place. Taking control of family meal-time isn't easy but it is important. It is a choice to be unlike most other people. That's OK.

Truth be told, we do the happy meal in the car too. I am trying, however, to keep them the exception (and not just because the cost is astronomical - with #1 eating adult meals now, I can see becoming a rare treat). The cost of food is crazy to begin with and we have bottomless pits. Depressing to see my fridge like this more often than not.

I can see why my parents bought meat in half-steer quantities! How blessed we are with all these healthy, hungry little people.

Family dinners are only part of the equation. I bet people who never eat together but who have other options to spend time together end up ok. The point is not when you do it, it's that you must do it. Kids need boundaries and they need supervision. How does this happen if you never see them?

I was just introduced to this blog so I can't speak for everything she says. The parts about what boys need at different ages, however, sound right to me (as a parent of little boys and someone who studied this once-upon-a-time). Meg Meeker also writes some really excellent things on parenting and what is ultimately important (i.e. it's not a new phone).

I am biased because of the choices I have made with my husband about our kids. I don't know how it all turns out (stay tuned). I do know, when we go to family rosary and our 2-year-old recites his Hail Mary loud and clear, I have no "magic" to pass on. We value prayer and family time. That shows in the skills and choices of our kids so far. Will that continue? I hope so but I know how easily life can be thrown off the rails by someone who makes a bad decision.

These boys may have been raised in a home much like yours or mine. There are no guarantees in this world. For better or worse, other people can decide our fate. This is especially heartbreaking because I was in a mom's group with her when our kids were tiny. My is short; sometimes much more than we can imagine. It is so important that we remember what is essential and choose that FIRST. Praying with your kids, saying "no" to overindulgence, helping them learn right from wrong...none of that will earn anyone a long, happy life. Struggle and pain are also part of the human condition. Kids need to learn that too. Learning takes practice and someone to guide them. Please guide your kids. Don't be afraid to say "no" to them or "no" to society. It is so very important.

If you want to look at this as a rant from that "weird, homeschooling, religious nut" so be it. Perhaps you will keep it in your mind long enough to think about it when the next opportunity comes to spend a minute with your kids instead of a., b. or c. Having spent too much time writing and not enough "being with" my blessings, I will close.

Have a blessed day.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Blessed Day

Spending the afternoon working hard and thinking about the people who make us happy. If you're not on the list, no went on quite a while after I stopped the tape :0)

We are blessed!

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Whew, we did it. It's always a bit of a stressful time, trying to get little kids dressed on a normal day but add to that makeup on girls, entertaining a toddler and mom working the bake goods table...whew. We were the "newbies" this year so some decisions will be different next year (I think it's some sort of be sure you're "tough enough" ;0). This year, though, God provided (mainly in the form of some great friends who were willing to watch said toddler) and we were blessed to take part. Here is a video and a few shots (as I said, I was working so DH had my camera. He walked off mumbling but I think he did ok :0))
#1 son was the "hat" man this time - so exciting! Look for the little blonde in the red dress (Miss C) and #s 2 and 3 are also in the group. (sorry if it doesn't work...spotty)
 pre-show group shot...#1 lost another tooth yesterday!

Happy Sunday everyone!