Saturday, May 31, 2014

Planting Time!

I took all of my helpers for a field trip on Friday. We went to the local farm to pick up our flowers and vegetable plants for the garden. The ride to the farm was hysterical. They get so excited, deciding what they want for "their" plant.

Me - So what vegetable plants would you like to get this year?
#1 - I want a tomato!
#3 - I want some basil!
#5 - Pickle! (he is the cutest thing...when we convinced him there was no pickle plant he settled for a "tornado"...tomato)  

It was so much fun looking at all the different things - I think we counted 15 different types of tomatoes! I guess I get a little excited as well, knowing that in just a few months we will be steps away from fresh produce. Yum!

Taking a break on the cool swing while mom loads the car - I think they need a bigger swing.
 
 
We had some other things to do when we got home and we were waiting for the potting soil from Dad so this morning, after breakfast, we all headed out to plant some things. They all did well for a while then boredom set in for the smallest two. That would be why they missed the final shot.
 
 
 
Not that much to see now but wait a while! It is such a wonderful tradition around here. We help by picking and planting and God does the rest. How blessed we are.
 
Have a blessed Sunday. If you're near the South Hills, come join us for Family Rosary at 2 :0)


Monday, May 26, 2014

Whew...

Wow, last week was a tough one. No mother's helper (I know, waaah...still, it's so nice to have the option to not take five kids with me everywhere I go), finished the portfolio/had it evaluated/handed it in, played with some of our favorite friends to the North, etc..

Then...it was time for some baseball! My brother Dave is a Pittsburgh fanatic. Truly. Steelers, Bucs, Pens...doesn't really matter; he loves them all. So, for a kid Christmas gift, he was kind enough to come in for the long weekend to attend four games with rotating members of our family.

We are so blessed to be where we are raising these kids. I do wish my siblings were closer but other than that, it's truly an amazing place. Taking the train to see a ballgame with family. It doesn't get much better than that.

What an amazing week+end! Beautiful weather; the Bucs won 3 of 4; amazing seats; fun with "uncle"...win, win win. Here are some photos from Friday and Sunday. (I was on little man duty Thursday and Saturday).
















 (We even got to see the Pierogi beat the Presidents)

Wishing you all a blessed Memorial Day. We are so thankful to all of our Veterans; especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

St. Philip Neri, Pray for Us.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

And...we're done!

Let's hear it - summer has finally begun! We have just returned from dropping off #1s portfolio to the local school district. I took all five along for the ride. It was worth it to see the faces of everyone we encountered. I'm sure there are people who would be offended by the looks and commentary but it just makes me :0) We are a witness everywhere we go - like it or not!

I'm also done, thanks to God, with all of my testing. This morning I had a mammogram and two types of sonogram...DH referred to it as the "yearly tune-up" - funny guy. They were checking on some symptoms that were worrisome. Thankfully it looks like I'm just old, nothing more devastating, so, I'll take it.

Females only - for those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of a mammogram...it's not that bad. Don't believe all the hype. It's uncomfortable but, in its way, kind of cool. I wouldn't volunteer to go once a month but I will not be too upset to conform once a year.

So, we're off to start Summer. I wish the pool were open today because it's hot and sticky. Perhaps we will just have some water play in the back yard. Whatever...I am just glad for the break!

Big brother arrives today for a four-day Pirates extravaganza. Stay tuned :0)

We are blessed!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Super Sunday

Our day started a little later this morning. I told the boys to sleep in until at least 8 since we wouldn't be rushing to Mass. I enjoyed the few extra minutes of talking to my DH before the craziness of the day. I also got to actually read my morning offering before leaving my bed! Highly unusual.

"Love Mary! She is lovable, faithful, constant. She will never let herself be outdone in love, but will ever remain supreme. If you are in danger, she will hasten to free you. If you are troubled, she will console you. If you are sick, she will bring you relief. If you are in need, she will help you. She does not look to see what kind of person you have been. She simply comes to a heart that wants to love her."
— St. Gabriel Possenti of Our Lady of Sorrows

Knowing where we were headed, it seemed particularly fitting and not at all surprising ;0)

I've been struggling with my parish (and or pastor, not sure, but I think it's the former) lately. We don't really seem to fit in - there are some beautiful families who had 7-9 kids once-upon-a-time. They are now in their 70s+ but they do support us heavily in the choices we make about how to live our lives. Many of the rest, however, are just seat holders. At least it seems that way.  Come in late, leave early, read the bulletin in between. We're also running a bunch of programs that, along with the pithy messages on our new electronic sign, leave me feeling like I walked into the Methodist church by mistake. Or at least yearning for the Catholic church of old. So, I wasn't exactly complaining that we were missing yet another Mass at our home parish.

Of course the Holy Spirit had that well in hand.

After a relaxed family breakfast we took a 10 minute walk and hopped on the T. I love where we live for that reason...a short walk and you can be almost anywhere within a 10 mile radius. I should note that Mr. G has a love-affair with trolleys. If he had his way, they would go by our street about every minute and a half. It was absolutely the cutest thing. He just couldn't get into his mind that we were on the trolley. He kept pointing out the window saying, "where trolley?"

 
We landed at Steel Plaza with plenty of time to walk around and enjoy the beautiful day. I love our city. City-like but without so many people ;0)

Little man is not a fan of Mario I guess.

I do appreciate that you can be at a Catholic church from anywhere in town in about, oh, 5 minutes by foot (OK, maybe 10 but really, not long at all!)
 
It was finally time and we headed into church to get ready for Mass. I was a little bit discouraged by the turnout. It was much smaller than it had been in the past - certainly many fewer families with small children. I was feeling a bit disappointed by that until the first "and with your Spirit" which was so loud, it echoed off the walls. I had been needing a heavy shot of devout Catholics and here we were among some of the most serious. I am SO blessed.
 
DH had the "happy" job of wrestling with G the whole Mass. When we got home, he told me a woman (who ended up being the person to introduce the bishop) stopped by the pew and said, "I know it will be difficult with him but don't worry if he makes noise...it is so important that you are here and we are so happy that you are." So, it would seem the Holy Spirit was beefing up DH as well!
 
So, why were we here? It was the 75th annual Rosary March. It begins with Mass and today Bishop Z gave a marvelous homily about not becoming discouraged! Then the Bishop processes through town holding the monstrance aloft, followed by the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, while we follow and recite the rosary. Goose bumps.
 
Our Lady, leaving the church (with hankies waving)
 
The monstrance is waaaayyy up under the overpass.

We were at the end, as usual, but I kind of like that. It lets us see for certain how many other faithful Catholics are joining us in the procession.
 
So, I am still struggling but today was definitely a day when I felt particularly snug within Mary's mantle. I do wish there would have been many (or even any) more families with tiny kids. I know it's nap time and sports time and there are a lot of other things happening so I am just thankful that we were able to go.
 
For now, I feel like I kind of "get" what the priests have been telling me in confession. Today I "left" my parish to be nourished elsewhere and, in praying for but not worrying about my peers, I didn't "look for Jesus in them". I simply went where I knew our shepherd would be, along with Our Lady. In doing this, I carried my children along. I made it a family priority. How blessed I was to hear on the walk home, "you know Mom, I am planning to attend the 100th annual Rosary March." Pray God, my sweet.
 
Have a blessed day.



The musical ones...

Isn't it funny how every child has different gifts? I think it's clear that #1 and #5 are the musicians in the family.

video
 

Friday, May 16, 2014

What's for dinner?

Back in the day when I was a fresh newlywed with nothing to do but wait until God decided to grant the miracle that would be our first baby, I was at home...all day. My only jobs (other than getting pregnant) were cleaning the house, doing the laundry (ahhh, back when DH got his shirts ironed!), and cooking. We still had cable back then and I loved TV food network. Emeril, Rachel, Curtis and I were great pals...they taught me how to perfect my craft. I love to cook and I loved trying new dishes.

Then the babies came and mostly we settled into the standard family fare. Well, with the blessing of being laid up for six weeks came meals from many lovely people. Most were the traditional "family" type but some were a bit of a stretch for us (think marinated flank steak). The kids love almost everything that comes through the door - go figure - and will readily eat a "gift" meal while leaving my nearly identical attempt cold on the plate. So, post-op, I have started bringing out some of DH's and my old favorites. To my delight they love them! It's so nice to have good, flavorful food and a blessing to have a break from the old standbys.

1. Balsamic Rosemary Chicken (that's what I call it - Rachel has a fancier name). Sometimes we make gnocchi and have it with brown butter but usually it's mac n cheese (a la Alton - NO Velveeta!)
Rosemary Chicken Breasts, Brown Butter and Balsamic Ravioli, Warm Spinach Salad with Pancetta and Sweet Vinaigrette
 
 
2. Emeril's Steak Au Poivre  - I just made this for birthday/baptism day and we all love it (#1 is not a fan of the sauce). To be perfectly honest, I only "pepper" one side of the steak and with a LOT less than when it was only us two but still. I am so happy that everyone eats the same thing!
 
Steak Au Poivre with Herbed Fingerling Potatoes and Asparagus
 
We're going back to no-meat Fridays after I read that the whole "nevermind, we don't have to do that anymore!" we were taught growing up isn't exactly what they said. Besides, giving up meat a few times a week is a good thing. So, I'm trying to mix that up a bit as well. Usually it's homemade fish fry, (these Martha fish sticks are AWESOME!) or tuna casserole (yes, we do have crushed chips on top!).
 
Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks with Herb Dipping Sauce
 
 
I'm always on the lookout for new meat-free ideas. Looks like the Barefoot Contessa is cooking up something yummy. Rachel's chickpea salad? Put some sourdough alongside and it's enough for many a hot Friday evening to come.

 
Chickpea Salad
 

Whatever the food, it is a true blessing that our family is together for nearly every evening meal. I know that one day schedules will cause us to run in different directions and grab sustenance when we can. That's why I am thankful for these days - relaxed and together.
 
Have a blessed weekend!


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Three on Thursday

Yeah, I'm kind of short on time and you know I write a lot on each thing so I figured three would be more than enough for everyone. This appears to have become the "Catholic edition"

1.
 
I have been picking up a lot of books lately and I have to say, the more Catholic books I look at, the less interested I am in the mind-candy nonsense that I have seemed to gravitate toward in the past. I think it's going to be a conscious choice for me - to choose something that will improve my mind instead of sending it somewhere it shouldn't be or putting odd thoughts into it. So, I loaded this onto my Kindle:
 

I knew nothing about Mr. Vinny Flynn so I looked him up. According to his web page, he is “the man who sings the Divine Mercy Chaplet on EWTN.” So, OK, not the Divine Mercy Chaplet that we watch but, even so, if he's on EWTN, I'm on board. He has been deeply involved in ministry for a very long time. Also, the introduction is by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC...of 33 Days to Morning Glory fame. I am becoming a Marians of the Immaculate Conception groupie. I love everything about those guys. This book has been a blessing to me. It puts so many things in a straightforward manner, beginning with the definition of "sin" and how it effects our lives.
Sin is real. We all do it. And it happens when we turn our backs on God or live as if His existence has no bearing on our lives. We need to realize that every action either strengthens our relationship with God or weakens it. (my emphasis)
Wow! I love when I "get" something so easily. Everything I do - every word I utter, every book I read or show I watch, every interaction I have...they can all bring me closer to or push me farther from my Heavenly Father. This is one of those Holy Spirit head-smacks for me. I have been so unsettled lately about some relationships (should they stay or go) and other goings-on in my life. This has helped SO much to bring about some much needed clarity.

 2.
 
Speaking of confession, yesterday was our family penance evening. Normally this happens at our home parish on a Thursday evening, every 6 to 8 weeks. We have decided (my DH and I) that we're in need of a bit more grace in our daily vocations so we're aiming for 4 to 6 weeks. While DH and child #1 are more than happy with our local confessor, I've found it a bit uncomfortable lately since some of my confession deals with my current struggles within the parish. So, to mollify me, DH was kind enough to take a family trip to a neighboring parish that has confession every Tuesday evening. They have confession once a month during the morning, which I could attend alone, but I kind of like the family outing. It can be trying (especially keeping Mr. Muffin quiet during Adoration) but I want the kids to see it as something we consciously chose to put on the schedule as a family every month or so. It is as or more important than anything else we do.
 
The pastor was hearing confession so I was happy, since I know of him and his family, and he had come highly recommended by someone at my parish. I've been struggling with something for a while now so I had to confess it again this time around. It's always interesting to me to hear what different priests have to say about the same sin. The last one suggested I leave my parish to go where I would be more supported. This time, I got some advice that I won't write down because I'm still chewing on it...I have tried a few times and nothing I write can convey the core of what he said. It was helpful to me, at least. Isn't it funny how you can hear something that speaks to your heart but you can't pass it along to someone else? I'm grateful for the opportunity of frequent confession. That way, even if I have to sit and discern the advice I've received, I can rest in the knowledge that my sins have been forgiven. That's the beauty of the sacrament. We are two imperfect people but the grace is still flowing. What an amazing blessing!
 
3.
 
Just one more! The reading thing, well, it won't stop while I'm breathing.  I love that there are so many things out there that I have yet to see. This is especially true in my faith life. I'm excited to start the Acts of the Apostles with #1 in the Fall and in the meantime I'm trying out lots of other things. I've consciously decided to avoid the current "Catholic mommy blog" authors. I'm sure they have good things to say but since I'm so far behind in the fundamental Catholic authors, I figure I'll go back and move forward. This will sound random but did you know that post-1970, the California Achievement Tests were re-normed to a lower standard? That's kind of how I feel about Catholic writers these days, at least many of the non-ordained ones. I am thrilled at each and every non-Catholic that has a conversion story (I call several my close friends!)...but I need a little more than that to consider it a worthwhile read. We all have a story, don't we? Also, many of these writers seem to take on an almost "rock star" quality - readers talking to and about them as if they hang out and have coffee together on a regular basis. This an unfortunate side effect of our online existence. So, just to make sure I don't become another groupie (to anyone other than a bunch of priests and, really, I was mainly kidding), I'm sticking to reading dead people.
 
 
 
Whew. OK. I have only read two sections of this book and, as such, I can't give it an endorsement. I will say that I'm using it mainly as a feeder book to find writers I should be reading or Catholic heroes I should be investigating. The people who write about these famous Catholics are "Catholic" writers but some are clearly "Catholics" who would be delighted to see the Church modernized. So, as I said above, I stick to dead people (for the most part).
 
Societal rant over. It wasn't one anyway. I am so happy that there are so many different authors to meet the needs of all the different people who are at their personal stop on their religious journey. So many opportunities to grow in our faith. We are blessed!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Double Blessings Day

Without a doubt, one of my favorite days (that and July 26th). We get to remember and celebrate two of the most special people in our lives...
I know...but it never gets old for me ;0)
Happy #49 to my beloved. May God grant you the grace you need and a long, blessed life.

 
Blessings to my son on the 2nd anniversary of his baptism. May God grant you trust and wisdom and may we always do our best to lead you to Him.
 
 
 
"What time is it??" "It's p-a-r-t-y time!"
 
We are blessed.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blondie

So, thanks to Groupon, #4 has begun her violin career. Not really. I'm fairly certain that after this month (and the Groupon) ends, she will be taking a break for at least a few years. Not that it's all tears. She is particularly smitten with the "fishbowl" (a large globe filled with dirt and cacti) in the play area.

On the way home today:

C - "Mom, I LOVE violin!"

Me - "Good...why do you love violin?"

C - "Because of the fishbowl...it's so cool!"

Me - "Oh, that's interesting. It's not a fishbowl, though, it's full of dirt."

C- "It's a fishbowl. I have bad news though."

Me - "Oh no, what's that?"

C - "That fish is dead"

 Little girl...big humor.

My Monday

Well at least this means I am almost done...and alone with coffee and wifi is not at all a bad thing!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Gentle Woman

Today is the last day of school...Woot Woot!

I am so pleased when our beginning/ending of classes corresponds with a religious event. It makes it so much more special when we can add that to the festivities since God and His Church are the center of all things, especially school, at our house.

Today happened (not by coincidence!) to be the May Crowning at our church. The school kids do a great job; the kids (mainly Muffin) decided to not scream "Father" and "Jesus" the whole time; the day was beautiful. What a perfect ending to our school year.

It was an extra blessing for me. Since first finding out about our pregnancy in 2004, through all of our subsequent losses and births, to the decision to home school; each and every time we faced something monumental...I have always run to my Mother, knowing that she would intercede for me to Her Son.

It has worked so very well and there are still so many times that I need even more grace! I am such a fallen child. When I am overwhelmed with my vocation, why don't I always start by asking help from my Mother? Ug. So much more learning I have to do. Thankfully heaven is full of Saints, most especially their Queen, who are ready and willing to respond to my call. I will persevere to be more like the Gentle Woman I so admire.

So, we begin our Summer vacation (well, they do...I have to get a portfolio put together and evaluated). We are looking forward to some exciting trips in the Fall (mmmm, cheese), lots of fun Bible and science camps and LOTS of time at the pool! (like today would have been perfect...it's 85!). We will be back in July with our "first day" pictures. Through good and bad, we have decided that we will continue this experiment. Today's park pictures remind me of why I started this...it's so important to keep them together as a cohesive unit right now. I want the best peers for them now, while they are forming their personalities and consciences.

I wish you many blessings in this month of Mary. Turn to Her when you are rejoicing and when you are in trouble. Join Her in giving thanks to Her Son for all good things! We are so blessed.

Here are some photos of the day. I'm going to take a nap.