Friday, January 30, 2015


I'm in the kitchen, trying to get dinner started in the crockpot (potato-leek bacon but a perfect snowy Friday meal) and I am laughing at these silly people. I have to record some of these so I can save them for a sad, rainy day.

#3 running around like mad, blue robe flapping behind him.
Me: What's wrong?
#3: I am serving Midnight Mass and I've lost my cincture. I'm doomed!

#4 and #5 are taking turns giving checkups (we watched Doc McStuffins last night)
#5 - Say 'ahhhh'
#4 - 'ahhhh'
#5 - now say 'lalalala'
 cue to break into "Glory to God" and immediately argue about which version is correct.

Happy Friday, everyone. Stay warm.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I'm sort of obsessed with this at the moment. Most of the difficulties in society, including my own, seem to deal in some small or large part with being selfish. "I want this house/car/television now." Doesn't matter that I can't afford it or I don't need something that big. I'm told by everyone around me that I need and deserve bigger and better and so I will. Why not? Everyone else seems to be doing this...why should I have less? If I get into trouble, someone will bail me out.

This even happens with little people. It helps with homeschool to avoid the day-to-day comparison but there are still stores and commercials. Greed is human nature. I think those born without a natural inclination toward excess want are very few.

Knowing all this, I will literally drop everything and load up the car if there is a good, concrete example nearby. Yesterday I got an email that our bishop was sitting in, of all things, an ice house (!) to raise money for charity. It turns out it was part of the Dollar Energy Fund cool down for warmth program. Basically, you choose to sit in the house to raise funds from your friends. The funds are used by Dollar Energy to help those who are struggling to heat their homes this winter.

Gimmick? Of course but, you know, kids are all about the "wow" factor. We could have talked about it and sent in a donation but it was worth so much more to actually be there. So, off we went.

As we drove the 10 minutes into town we talked about the cold and the people who may not have as much as we do and how we can help. The older two talked about the works of mercy (thank you most excellent DRE!). Then they each decided the amount of Christmas money they were willing to contribute (yes, I capped it at $20 each...the little ones especially have a hard time keeping any if it's a good cause in their eyes...more lessons to work on!)

We walked up, were invited in, and made it through about 5 minutes of discussion before they asked to leave because it was very, very cold. From the conversation on the ride home, I'm guessing the point was made...for now, at least. Prayers were said last night for those who are outside or struggling in any way with the cold. 

I don't know how much of a lasting impact this had. It seems like a day-to-day struggle to get everyone (me included) to think outside themselves for any length of time. Still, it wasn't wasted. Now, when I need an example, I think I will only need say "ice house" and they will remember.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

L-O-V-E it...

My new magnet...

Great for all the little (and big) trials in your life. He's waiting ;0)

We are blessed.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The measure of a man

It was a long, somewhat trying weekend around here. Still, as most things, it had its blessings sprinkled in among the crosses. I have been thinking about it and appreciating how thankful I am for some of the men in my life.

- For my brothers, all of whom cherish and protect in different ways, but all of whom do it so well. Thank you for your clear example of putting other before self.

- For the far away priest who took time out of his busy, over-worked life to provide insight to someone he doesn't know and will likely never meet. Thank you for truly living up to the call to be Christ to others. Thank you for making time to put a pilgrim back on the path.

- For the nearby priest who delivered one of the best homilies about supporting life that I've heard in some time. Thank you for worrying less about what people might think and more about promoting the Gospel. Thank you for educating and challenging. Thank you for your vocation.

- For my husband, who lovingly guides me back to sanity when I get sidetracked by the craziness of the world. Thank you for taking your vows so seriously that you are willing, day-after-day, to walk with me on this journey.

A man should cherish, protect, educate and love. How blessed we are for the men who aspire to this every day. How good it is to see Christ through them.

Thought of the day...

"We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place for those who love us."
– St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Most days I try to read the readings (or listen if I'm lucky enough to be there) and find something that speaks to my heart. Today, I'm just confused...

Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” MK 3:20-21

It's a little chilling since most of my family happens to be elsewhere today trying to have a chat with one family member who currently seems to be lacking all rational sense. One could even say this person is "out of his/her mind". 

So, where do you go with that? I would love to have a spiritual director with whom to hash this out. Lacking that, I will go to Fr. Humberto who usually has good insight.

3. Out of His Mind?  Some of Jesus’ relatives, whose outlook was all too human, believed that Christ’s commitment to others was excessive. “The only explanation, they thought, was that he was out of his mind. On reading these words of the Gospel, we cannot help being moved, realizing what Jesus did for love of us: people even thought him mad. Many saints, following Christ’s example, have been taken for madmen — but they were mad with love, mad with love for Jesus Christ” (The Navarre Bible: St. Mark, p. 87). Do I long to love Christ in my heart and in my life, even to the point of madness? Is my one great ideal in life to be a saint — not for my own sake, but in order to be able to transmit Christ’s love to those around me, to help bring about his Kingdom in souls?

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith. It is a gift more precious than life itself. Help me to see others with the eyes of faith, to pour myself out in loving and serving them, just like you did. Help me to love you with madness as I serve each of my brothers and sisters.

Resolution: At the end of the day, I will pay special attention to fulfilling the needs and desires of my family members.
So, I will pray because, when I am completely confused, especially in this situation, I just have to turn it to God. He's the one who knows how it will all shake out and, at the moment, I'm at a loss for more energy to devote to this situation.

I pray for my family members, especially the one with the lost mind, that they will all work with the love of Christ and try to resolve the issue. Failing that, we will all wait in prayer for the day if/when it comes, that we are called to welcome this lost sheep back into the fold.

I think my confusion is thinking that everyone's "crazy" behavior has to be accepted. Society is so quick to point that out, yes? Still, I'm certain that some behavior would not be worthy of or pleasing to Jesus and that is the yardstick I will continually try to use from now on. If I can't tell if the person is Jesus-crazy or society-crazy, I'm just handing it over to Him. He has a certain knack for making all things good.

Even in unaware madness, we are blessed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Five on Friday - Homeschool Edition

I'm kind of wiped out right now. I went on a bread and water fast for March for Life yesterday and the lack of caffeine is taking its toll. Sad, really, how dependent I've become on that substance. I digress...I've been thinking about all the blessings we have in choosing to homeschool (there are plenty of trials but I'm being positive are in luck!) Here are five of our favorites this month.

1. Music

Our city is amazing in the number of family-friendly cultural opportunities available ...many of which are free! First up, a local concert featuring the advanced students at #1's music school. What a great way to spend part of a Sunday afternoon!

This young woman was incredibly gifted on the violin. 

A few days later we headed down to a School Time concert. We have been doing these for many years and I still can't get over it. Watching a symphony performance, learning about the pieces and instruments (this one dealt with a lot of Eastern interesting!) and visiting this beautiful landmark. Win, win, win! 

2. Engineering

If you guessed this was a DH project, you are right! A bit too messy for my taste but it came out wonderfully. The boys got this building kit for Christmas and it is really neat. You mix up mortar and use it with real (albeit tiny) bricks. When you are finished, soak it in water and the mortar dissolves! Each of the older 4 took turns with the placement after they figured out how it all went together. I'm fairly certain #4 turned it into a castle for her princesses ;0)

3. Art and Public Service

I'm sure I've already gone on and on about her but the DRE at our parish is exceptional. This year she is offering the homeschooled CCD kids a monthly opportunity to live out a corporal work of mercy; from visiting the sick to giving drink to the thirsty. This month they made blankets for the little ones at a local shelter (shelter the homeless). A wonderful lesson and fun too!

4. Science
This, by far, is the best part of having the kids all in one class. Sure, they may not all "get it" at the same level but I'm amazed at the discussions that follow. Sometimes it's fun to learn!

 They were using iodine to test the starch level in different types of food.
White bread and potatoes!

5. Geography

#1 has a keen interest in this subject. I would probably even call it an obsession. We love games like Scrambled States (the book is hysterical as well), Geo Bingo and DestiNation USA. Knowing that, when an offer came to join in a homeschool section of the National Geographic GeoBee we were in! It was a really great experience for both of us. I love to see her in action. Like her father, performing in front of a group is never an issue. I was so much more stressed than she. What a great group, as well. Kids in grades 4-8 with smiles, support and kind words for one another. 

 The group of 15 and the host
 Down to 5

She finished second overall, and the winner was in 4th grade as well. It was especially nice to see so many kids who were interested in geography. Judging from the questions in the first round, our nation could use some brushing up on that subject!

I suppose some of this isn't unique to homeschool but I'm still glad for the opportunity to gather together as a family to learn, play, and support one another. The atmosphere of the other families is so helpful to me - healthy cooperation and support with a heavy dose of faith front-and-center. I will miss these days when they are gone. It's a unique situation in which we are blessed to participate. 

Happy weekend, everyone. If you continue your prayers for my extended family, it would be appreciated. Thank you!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The difference between now

and 20 years ago is pretty immense. Today was one of the days God was going to make sure I realized how very much different...all thanks to Him!

I'm in a mood today (you're shocked, I'm sure). My morning temperature fell through the floor, just like I knew it would. I never know how to answer people when we get into this discussion so, let me put it this way...we have never not been open to the possibility of new life. I don't like to put it that way because people get're old, you aren't healthy, you already have five. Still, there is something within me that feels like, since we started this gig so late, why should we ever say "no" when there is absolutely no reason? I know, after 2 years of "not avoiding", we're done...I got that memo. Regardless, I still feel sad when I know it's definitely, absolutely, not happening this cycle. Perhaps it will one day not be an occasion of sorrow for me or perhaps it's just God's way of refining me through the fire of my own selfishness. Who knows? I'm trying to walk it one day at a time.

Add to that the fact that our helper walked in crying this morning about the "piece of furniture at the curb". It's trash day. DH threw out the crib. Sob. I'm hormonally deranged and he wouldn't have known since it came several days early but, still. Probably not the best day (and, to be fair, he unbagged the Christmas tree because I cried about it leaving last night - told you...deranged).

Then, Catechesis. I begrudge these women nothing since I was once them with many small children clinging to me and I get tired just watching it now. Still, perhaps, if two could have waited until another day to tell me they were pregnant. That sounds terrible and I am sincerely joyful for them. I am. I hold none of the jealousy or anger that once filled me at moments like this (see? change!) but with everything else, I feel like I probably wasn't as jump-up-and-down happy as I could have been. Oh well, next week.

Oh, and I forgot. Have you read the latest news coverage of the Pope in the Philippines?  Something about Catholics not having to "breed like rabbits" and his chastisement of a woman on her eighth child/c-section, saying she was "tempting God" and "irresponsible"? That second part troubled me. A lot. All through this journey of ours, with each successive child, we have left it up to God..yes or no, when, how many. I suppose it could be that the woman is using artificial means to get pregnant but why not say that then? I was very, very disappointed that the head of the Church would say such a thing. It's like the whole world is upside down sometimes (I do allow for the media totally misstating it as well but, at the moment, not what I needed to hear).

Then, you know, the whole extended family mess continues. It is coming to a head soon and I'm less than thrilled about all of it. I feel anchor-less and sad. I wish other people's decisions didn't effect my family so directly.

OK. I bring the little ones home after Catechesis, during the drive helping them to work through why we don't have any more babies while the other people do, and there is an old box on my kitchen counter that Terri says our dear neighbor dropped off and said "perhaps we could use". God is good to me. He knows how mired I become in my selfish wants and He sends a sign that not even I could miss.

Right. So, here is my "child" and my Savior delivered to me in a tidy little package. See what I mean? The Holy Spirit knows my brain is pretty mush these days. What a gift! (I'm not sure which Jesus this's like the Infant of Prague without a crown? I will have to look into it soon). I called DH and told him Jesus came to say "stop being a brat" and DH said, "no, I think he just stopped to say 'I love you'" Awww..I love that guy.

With all the same problems but a different perspective (20 years ago I would have crawled into bed with a bottle of wine) I headed out the door with my four Kids of Steel. We walked/ran through some beautiful snowfall all the way to church where we were completely alone (!) and could recite our Divine Mercy chaplet together and then talk a little about St. Sebastian, today's feast day.

I'm not filled with joy after this busy day but I am filled with peace (and, truthfully, we laughed a lot of the trip to and from church). I know that I am loved and I know that my blessings number among the stars. I am easily pulled into the desires of the here-and-now and I so often forget where I am headed. How blessed I am to have a neighbor who would take time in her busy life to answer the Holy Spirit's call, today, when I needed such a visual reminder. How I pray that my children learned something today...that faith is our constant companion; in good times or in bad. God is with us always and ready to carry us on the days when we just can't walk another step. I am so blessed.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

May I recommend...

If you're looking for another blog to follow (or perhaps to substitute for one that has grown stale or no longer works for you - it's ok, you can use it to substitute for mine...I don't have this level of insight and it would be better that you grow in faith as much as possible) let me suggest you travel over to visit Father Humberto's Blog. He writes a reflection on the day's readings, including some exercises/suggestions to put the words into practice for your own life.

Today was the feast day of our January Saint-of-the-Month, St. Anthony of Egypt. We all headed over to a neighboring parish for Mass and because the two older ones wanted to get their confessions in since they missed "date night" with us on Thursday. Even with the 2-year-old ("I'm two", he says in a way that have to excuse all my behavior. "Actually, you're closer to three" is always my response) it was a grace-filled morning.

As of late (why didn't I think of this before?) I have taken a moment before Mass to turn my eyes heavenward and ask for some insight during Mass; the readings, the homily, etc.. Please, I beg, speak to my heart and tell me what to do. Well, as usual, the Holy Spirit is on the line as soon as you pick up your end. Between the Mass readings and the reflection by Fr. Humberto, I have some good motivation to face my continuing extended-family struggles.

The Gospel reading was from Mark and ends with the line
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Oh, I love that line because I know how spiritually sick I am. It gives me so much hope that the Great Physician will be there to help if I just sit to dine with Him as often as possible. 

Then, as often happens, Fr. Humberto makes it pertain directly to my current situation:

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, the call to follow you is a call to conversion of heart. Touch my heart with your grace in such a way that my thoughts and actions may always reflect my desire to imitate your example of love. Make me patient in each situation and capable of forgiving those who may cause me harm or create difficulties.

Yep, uh huh. Heard loud and clear. Now, if only I can muster the strength to put that into practice. I know the grace from today will help. Thank you to all who are praying on this matter. It is a great blessing to know others who are willing to pray for people unknown. That is faith. 

So, this week as I deal with my personal issues and as we remember all the babies slain as a result of the Roe v. Wade decision, I will do my best to make my thoughts and actions imitate the love of Jesus. I will work hard to be patient and forgive. I believe it can happen. After all, nothing is impossible with God. We are blessed.

St. Anthony of Egypt, Pray for Us!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

My birthday

was a month and two days ago. That day was the beginning of a string of very trying times for our family, personal and extended. Today I was blessed to finally take a few hours out with my beloved to celebrate #46 in our usual manner.

We start with confession and today, considering the past few weeks, it was more of a balm than usual. We had our beloved priest, whom the family has grown closer to over the years and who, as DH says, "is cut from a different cloth than the new guys." Amen. It's hard to find a priest who can bring the Bible and Shakespeare to bear in a meaningful way during confession. He is one-of-a-kind and we are blessed, at least for now, that he is our one.

Newly clean souls, we drove off to my favorite local joint to indulge in some drinks and de fruits de mer.

Looking down to see this
and across to see this
then heading home to share the last episode of Underdog with our pj-clad little people...

well, that's just about as blessed as one girl can get. Happy birthday to me :0)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Invoking all the Saints I know (I need a few more peg people! )

As well as the Queen of Heaven...Pray for us!

Please help

Collect for January 14, 2015: 
Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care, O Lord, we pray, that they may see what must be done and gain strength to do what they have seen. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

If you would, please pray for my intention. A family member (not DH or kids, extended family) is in grave danger and making seriously destructive decisions. Satan is a master at turning people away from God and it is certainly true in this case. So hard to see a positive solution in this but Nothing is Impossible for God. I have trust but a few extra prayers for protection could never hurt.

Thank you so much.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

It occurs to me

that I probably only started homeschooling for the stationary supplies. Perhaps I should have just opened a Michaels and saved everyone a lot of trouble.

Happy icy Monday! We are blessed!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Five on Friday

It's been a while...let's see if I can manage to get 5 things down by midnight.

1. Cleaning

I am writing this on my break from my second-floor cleaning while the kids are earning their "Kids of Steel" mile downstairs (see #2). KOS is a nice break in the day and it gets them up and moving around during this string of reallllyyyyy cold days. (see #3) The house was decluttered and deep-cleaned during our successive Christmas/New Years visits and I'm trying to keep up with the routine. Since school has restarted, the clutter is again winning but at least I can keep the dust bunnies at bay.

Not even sure where I found this but it is an excellent way to combine physical education and nutrition requirements for the second half of the year. Over a four-month training period, the kids earn "miles" that will ultimately equal a marathon (or in our case, more, since even for us, that's a lot of time to achieve the goal). The miles can be an actual mile that is run or walked or any 20 minutes of exercise that causes them to breathe heavily (see: pushing little siblings around in the snow for an hour). They are able to "complete" the last mile during the fun run for the Pittsburgh Marathon or pass.

In addition, they are encouraged to try new fruits/nuts/beans/veggies during the four months. I kind of wish they would do this in the summer/fall since there are more things available but, for now, it's been amazing what they're willing to try. 
Our fruit this week was a pummelo, kind of a sweeter, less fleshy grapefruit. The judges were less-than-enthused. They also gave a "thumbs down" to avocado. Fine with me and Mr. G...more for us!

Tonight will be turnip greens, steamed with butter and lemon, with our fish fry. I can't expect ovations. It's enough that they are willing to try.

3. Winter's Arrival

Finally, winter has made an appearance. I'm thrilled. I was out this morning shoveling the walk (not that it matters since the wind just blows it right back into place). It's one of my favorite activities. Alas, due to that darn wind, we have been forced to keep the little people inside (today was the third consecutive 2-hour delay for the schools with a sub-zero wind chill at bus time). At least it's been good for discussions about weather, thinking about negative numbers and looking at God's beauty in the form of sudden blizzard conditions. I am so thankful that we can do all of this from our warm nest.
The snow didn't come out in the pictures but it was beautiful in person!

4. Building boys

#2 and #3 have kind of taken over the 3rd floor playroom now that our friends have moved out. They are building all sorts of amazing structures and art installations! I love the way they look at the pieces and work until their vision is brought to life. I can do that sometimes with words, never with blocks and panels. It is a joy to watch the "brother builders" at work.

5. Back to Ordinary

On Monday we will begin to dismantle the mangers and the tree (although, as usual, it will probably stay up until Candlemas without the ornaments because one month just seems too short a time). It's always bittersweet. It will mean the house is less cluttered but a lot of the visuals that have had us rapt for the last few weeks will also be gone. What a splendid time to begin a new book before quiet time. The Life of Our Lord for Children by Marigold Hunt No deep theological thinking, just a nice overview of Jesus' life, by one of our well-loved authors. 

This Spring is full of fun and informative activities: Confirmation, First Communion, 40 Days for Life, finishing school (hopefully), a trip South. We are so blessed with every day we have to spend here, with one another. I'm reading a book about vocations from a parent perspective (that doesn't sound right - it is vocation stories which are then examined in regard to the types of family into which the vocations came). More and more it seems that prayer, proper examples, and plenty of opportunity (the right opportunity) are the keys to raising children with eyes turned upward. In #1s swim lesson yesterday, the teacher told the little ones, "if you ever get out of breath from swimming too hard, turn over and lift your head to look up to the sky...then you will have all the rest you need." Who knew you would get such great life lessons at the JCC? ;0)

Wishing you all a happy close to the Christmas season and a blessed beginning to 2015. Do something every day to show your gratitude to the One from whom all blessings flow. God is so good...shouldn't we let Him know we noticed?

During a four-month training period children will earn miles to run the equivalent of a full marathon (26.2 miles) and taste new fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts along the way. Kids of STEEL culminates in one of two optional runs - See more at:
During a four-month training period children will earn miles to run the equivalent of a full marathon (26.2 miles) and taste new fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts along the way. Kids of STEEL culminates in one of two optional runs - See more at:
During a four-month training period children will earn miles to run the equivalent of a full marathon (26.2 miles) and taste new fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts along the way. Kids of STEEL culminates in one of two optional runs - See more at:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Don't bring me down...

so, I finally coordinated "quiet time" and work time and had everyone in their place when I got on the treadmill and found the screen was dead. (yes, I suppose I could run outside but it's something like 14 and I have these five people to bring along with me...)
You got me runnin' goin' out of my mind
You got me thinkin' that I'm wastin' my time

Yes, ELO did just happen to be playing at that moment. It was then that I realized how very affected I am by music. I think that's the only reason I run at this point. It's like the daily fortune cookie of music.
All of her lovers all talk of her notes
And the flowers that they never sent
And wasn't she easy?
Isn't she pretty in pink?
The one who insists he was first in the line
Is the last to remember her name
He's walking around in this dress that she wore
She is gone but the joke's the same
 Makes me sad thinking about a sad situation right now. That was immediately followed by
I've had enough, I'm getting out
To the city, the big big city
I'll be a big noise with all the big boys
There's so much stuff I will own
And I will pray to a big god
As I kneel in the big church
Which makes me lol because I sing it every time (jokingly) I walk into my parish. The fit is disturbingly appropriate some of the time.

Ultimately, I like it when the Holy Spirit hooks me up with a good reminder, good or bad, or just makes me laugh or see something differently.

The treadmill belt and controls still worked, it turns out, it just didn't show how fast/far I was going. So, I put it on "pretty fast" and ran for 30 min while listening to all of these lovely tunes. The time to myself, getting lost in my music, recharging my spirit. Kind of appropriate that this would show up during cool down.
Got no butler, got no maid.
Still I think I've been overpaid,
I've got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.
Got no silver, got no gold,
What I've got can't be bought or sold.
I've got the sun in the morning
And the moon at night.

Blessings to you on this snowy, blustery day (yes, I think it calls for some Pooh now that you mention it). Keep thinking about your blessings, even if you get sidetracked a bit by something difficult or sad. Ultimately we all have our loving Father and that's even better than the sun AND the moon ('cause, you know, He created all that).

We are so very blessed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Blessed, blessed, blessed

Well, I've been waiting a while and it is FINALLY here! The snow (all 2 inches of it) arrived last night and this morning brought the first 2-hour delay. Well, not for us, because homeschoolers miss that perk. Still, we let the little ones sleep while #1 and I braved the cold so I guess that counts. She was scheduled to serve and I needed some extra grace (always.) so off we went. Since she was the only server (the other girl attends the parish school and, being on a delay, wasn't there yet) so she got to hold the book today! Very big blessing for such a newbie. Our pastor is awesome. He has such trust and's helped her immensely.

After grocery shopping (we are in the 1-gallon-a-day milk habit now) we headed home and out into the snow. It's freezing but no one could say no, not even me. So much fun to be all together and experiencing the white gift from above.

 She earned her Kids of Steel mile today just pushing all the sleds around!

The masked muffin.

How blessed we are to have healthy, happy kids and the chance to enjoy this first snowfall. My biggest blessing (the one that helps me make it through this cold) is knowing we will be here in a few weeks...
What a joy it will be to spend time together as a family, catch up with friends and hear the ocean! I am so excited. It has been a trying few weeks and it is so nice to have a reward at the end of this tunnel. We are blessed.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Gifts of Epiphany

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany (yes, some of you celebrate it on Tuesday which is technically the real day but, being lazy, we wrap it all up into one day. Wouldn't want people to have to go to Mass twice in one week ( can guess who said that) To be fair, we will be at Mass on Tuesday as well but...I digress).

I like that it was today because, finally having a minute to stop and collect my thoughts, I realized that today is also the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. From Franciscan Media's Saint of the Day:
Mother Seton is one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church. She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity. She opened the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage. All this she did in the span of 46 years while raising her five children.

Five children? Yep, that's me. 46? That's me too. So, perhaps, Mother Seton had her hand on one shoulder while the Holy Spirit pushed from behind. I haven't done all the amazing things she did in that short life but I am trying to be ever more open to any opportunity to expose our kids to the faith. I know there was some extra-worldly encouragement to get us through what turned out to be a glorious day, full of gifts, as we celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings.

We went to Mass last night because #1 was serving. I'm not thrilled with the vigil, as you know, but it did give us a rare treat...time to sleep in on a rainy, windy morning. We were up, dressed and fed in time to head out for Childrens Rosary . I L-O-V-E this time with the kids every month. There are such faithful, loving people involved. It is an amazing opportunity to pass our beliefs, along with several generations of others, to our children. They love getting together with this group. What an amazing gift.

 Practicing his lector skills before we begin.

Beautiful people, beautiful chapel, glorifying Jesus through His Mother

We headed home and had some quiet time while we waited in great anticipation (and did a few rehearsals) for our reenactment of the Three Kings arriving to present their gifts to the newborn King.

 After a few costume adjustments he proceeded to jump around yelling "flap, flap, flap"

 Blessed Mother and our Kings (frankincense candle...purple box for the myrrh)
Presenting their gifts

Today is also the day that the kids open their final Christmas gift...this year it was from their other siblings. Tradition in the making.

Finally, we come together on this day to bless our home as a family...

20 + C + M+ B+15
This inscription is usually written in chalk above the door. The
20 and 15 refer to the year, the CMB are said to represent ei-
ther Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar-the Magi-or the Latin
Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means "Christ, bless
this home. - Liturgical Publications
How grateful we were this year to have a special guest! Our deacon is one special man; dedicated, faith-filled and hard working. He is so loving to our kids, always willing to give an extra blessing after Mass or educate them in some today, as he was putting on his garb, he was explaining/asking/quizzing them on the different parts. He was such a good sport...going room-by-room with us to bless our home with holy water after DH wrote in the "5" (with our newly blessed chalk pen!). Amazing, amazing blessing we were given today.

How blessed we were to have this day, shared with family and friends, spending time to help our children learn about the beginning of Jesus' life in this world. How grateful I am to have these "gentle nudges" to seek out these opportunities. There may be other things to do but nothing that is this important. God is so good!

We are blessed! Happy Epiphany everyone! St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Pray for Us!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

I like it...

How would our actions be different today if we first raised our eyes and hearts to God? Would we do and say the same things? I know I would not. What a great reminder! (I added the italics because that's a huge deal for me - resisting my natural impulses...which are often not "of God")

"It is necessary to have an absolutely sure intention in all our actions, so that the generous fulfillment of our daily duties may be directed toward the highest supernatural ideal. Thus, our life, apart from moments of prayer, will be a prayerful life. It is clear that the habit of giving an upward glance to God at the moment of action is a great assistance in aiding us to behave always with a pure intention and in freeing us from our natural impulses and fancies, so, that, retaining our self-mastery, or rather, God becoming the sole Master, all our movements become dependent upon the Holy Spirit. We see in the Gospel that whenever our Lord was about to undertake some important step, He always paused for a moment to raise His eyes to Heaven, and only after this moment of recollection did He take up the work He had to do. 'He lifted up His eyes to Heaven' is a phrase that recurs with significant frequency. And doubtless, when there was no outward sign of this prayer, there was the inward offering. The ideal is the same for us. The constant subjection of self to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is made easier from the fact of His presence in the soul, where He is asked explicitly to preside over all our doings . . .We shall not submit wholeheartedly to the invisible Guest unless He is kept in close proximity to us."
— Raoul Plus, S.J.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Pray For Us!

Last year we started something new after reading a suggestion from a local homeschool group. According to the instructions, each member of St. Faustina's order would pick a yearly Saint to guide her. Instead of picking one Saint for the whole year, since we have little people with short attentions, we choose a slip every month. One of the older three reads the slip and another makes the "sign" to hang. Then, to the best of our ability, we pray for that Saint's intercession, learn about the Saint and when it happens during the same month, attend Mass on the Saint's feast day.

This month we were lucky to be guided to St. Antony of Egypt so we will plan for Mass as a family on the 17th and hopefully be well-versed in his story by then. It is full of good stuff, like fighting with the devil. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for choosing someone who will ignite our desire to learn about these holy men and women.

In closing, let's look at the last 12 Saints (Blesseds, Archangels, Holy Souls) who "chose us" in 2014:

Saint Dominic, Pray for Us!
Blessed Francisco of Fatima, Pray for Us!
Child Jesus, King of Love, Pray for Us!
Blessed Charles de Foucauld, Pray for Us!
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, Pray for Us!
Saint Francis Xavier Cabrini, Pray for Us!
Archangel Raphael, Pray for Us!
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Pray for Us!
Saint Francis Xavier, Pray for Us!
Holy Souls in Purgatory, Pray for Us!
Saint Helen, Pray for Us!
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Pray for Us!

We are blessed!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year, New Appreciation

I was joking with DH last week that for Christmas I was going to buy him a shirt that said, "We are United in our Diversity". It was probably when his mom was here and we were more at odds than normal (this also happens when my family is in town so don't's nothing personal to mil). During the discussion, I explained that, even with all of our differences, we share things in common that eclipse all the little day-to-day irritations/differences of opinion.

During our New Year's Celebrations (yes, there were two, we are quite blessed) and into New Year's Day, I had to reflect again on this idea. Our New Year's went like this...

We picked up DH at work and headed to some friends' home where we met up with yet another family and did an early New Year's dinner and celebration. These families are outgoing and fun and their kids are very similar - the New Year's horns were especially popular. They live experiential, technicolored lives. This is especially appealing to our kids because they know, when they are with these particular friends, they can let loose a bit more than they might do otherwise.

Watching "Cars" on the big screen

 Happy (mostly), fun, raucous group
 See? Horns

We headed home around 8 to join up with our travel-weary friends. They were finishing up their Christmas in Maryland and blessed us enough to stay overnight and join us for New Year's brunch. We got to know them over a long period here before they moved West (sniff, sniff) and it's so much fun to get together with them.

These are not horn-blowers. Not that they're not loud at times, but they are much more introverted, play with one or two friends instead of a pack, and enjoy the discussions that come when sitting and cooking in a pretend kitchen or building a brick castle. Even the sleepover was more quietly serene than I could have imagined (perhaps because everyone was exhausted).

 Tiny man conked out early while the other boys hatched a plan to "stay up all night buy taking shifts" didn't work ;0)
 The penthouse suite. These guys are troopers for sure. Maybe the added warmth of friendship made the accommodations a bit more agreeable.
 Silly friends with great anticipation
  Little people sharing

 and learning together

 Mr. Adorable was a big hit
 Oh he is a smoodge. I miss him.

New Year's Morning

To say the second group is more my "type" (in only the most Myers-Briggs way) would be true. To say I benefit from both groups of people is also extremely correct - the first being a way to pull myself out of my comfort and allow my children the chance to be silly and act with childlike abandon. The biggest blessing from the whole day is the clarity with which all three families are unified in our faith. Shared dinner prayers, bedtime prayers, discussions of blessings and trials, walking the journey together. 

We are so blessed...

 Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us.
Amen. Alleluia!