Friday, July 31, 2015

Five on Friday

Here's the recap...

1. Growing things

While our garden is prolific with weeds, the lack of water lately (and probably also the weeds!) has meant less-than-stellar performance. We managed to pull these two out yesterday...the green one eaten raw and the purple sauteed with oil, garlic and spinach as a side. Yum.

2. Summer...finally

DH hates this weather but it's pretty much perfect for me. The last few days have consisted of school in the AM (or park with friends), down to the pool lot to secure a perfect parking place, pick up our free lunches (thank you KO school district lunch's free for everyone under 18 - sandwich, fruit and veggie plus milk. They love free stuff!), sit and eat said lunch, then hang out in the pool for the next 1 to 3 hours. I was floating along today and thinking how very blessed I have children old enough to not drown while I float along; to have the ability to purchase a pass so that we can go any day we wish; and to have such a magnificent pool. Truly. Even on the busiest days there is plenty of room.

3. Science and stuff

Last week was science camp at CMU, next week is science camp at the Science Center. I'm enjoying the week off to process all the cool stuff they've learned (and I'm not missing the commute!)

 Super-absorbent polymers (yes, it does sound like Monty Python)

 3-d printers...a penny in a sphere

The graduates

4. Food, fun and fire prevention

As you know, we've started school so there is something we all look forward to in July...Chick Fil A fire safety night. It's family night (= free dessert) and the local firefighters come to show off their wares, give out free stuff (=backpacks and rulers), and answer questions. Yes, it counts. I love home education ;0)

5. Planning

One of the assignments the older two had this week was to "spend" $500 gathering supplies for the Corps of Discovery expedition (Lewis and Clark). It was interesting to watch them haggle over what was important (soup or playing cards) and arrive at a final list. We will be discussing a bit more this weekend since, well, they seemed to forget any type of writing implement (how will you record things in your journal?)***ignore that, I just reread and it says $10 not $0...the men will definitely be well-fed (I would expect nothing less from our children!)

It was completely intentional. Next week is crazy-planning-packing-week and they need to be in that evaluation mindset or I'm going to need a bigger van. We're all excited and ready to head West. Please keep us in your prayers.

We are blessed.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Do you have faith?

I've already talked about how wonderful the St. Anne novena was this week. I'm happy to report that we attended 7 of the 9 days and prayed the other two at the Sts. Joachim and Anne windows at St. Bernard. We have been amazingly rewarded lately and I'm sure St. Anne has no small part in that. Also, the challenge from Fr. Gielow the last day we attended. He said "God can do anything! Do you expect a miracle? Do you have faith? Or do you still doubt?"

It was in my brain and came to the front several times this weekend.

1. Family Friendly Confession on Saturday

I have a friend who, despite also having a million little kids, goes out of her way to help other Catholic families deepen their faith. This was her idea and she brought it to fruition...a supervised playroom for the little people while the older kids and parents take time in church praying and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. Brilliant. So simple I guess it just never occurred to anyone else ;0)

While taking advantage of my prayerful time and during the sacrament, I was able to have a nice discussion with Father about my anger at society and concern for my children's welfare these days. He commented that perhaps the most unfortunate thing I was doing was teaching my children not to have faith in God's overall plan for and protection of them. Again, so simple and so true. There are so many times I can see God's hand in my life but when it is less clear...well, I a lot more work.

2. Delivering a meal 

Our family is involved in the Martha's Ministry in our parish and, as I've mentioned before, we have been blessed to develop a wonderful relationship to one older man to whom we deliver a monthly meal. The kids love this adopted grandfather and he seems to look very forward to their visits. For one reason or another, I never have been able to go along to deliver the meals. Yesterday I finally made the trip.

I kind of knew, somewhere in my subconscious, that this was probably the case but upon meeting dear Mr. Ray, I was immediately transported back in time to my dear Fr. Al. The priest who first answered my call, walked me through a divorce and annulment, counseled me alone then with my soon-to-be spouse, all culminating on July 26, 2003, when he stood with us to witness our marriage sacrament. He was such a gift to my life and God saw fit to allow me to meet this other wonderful little Italian exactly 12 years later.

12 years ago to the day...our wedding rehearsal

3. Visitors and blessings

Today we celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary and the 5th anniversary of Blondie's baptism. We attended 11 AM Mass because the two older kids were serving. The blessings flowed all morning...we were able to see our old neighbors and catch up on their lives. We saw Mr. G's godparents and caught up with them as well. The best gift came when the introductory announcements began. "The presider for today's Mass is Fr. Brian Noel"...what????...Fr. Brian was our parochial vicar two years ago, he has since moved on, and the very priest to baptize the little Blondie five years ago! He was here to fill in for our pastor while he is on sabbatical. What a blessing to have him say the Mass we were attending to celebrate!

We missed saying hello to Fr. Brian because he had to rush out after Mass to drive North to say yet another Mass. Again, had I truly believed in the depth of God's love, I would have known that as we stood outside catching up with friends, ahem, Father would be coming out the side door to go to his car and drive away. Just enough time for a marriage and baptism blessing.

God is so good all the time.  'I have faith. Help my lack of faith!'

Sts. Joachim and Anne, Pray for Us!
We are blessed.

Friday, July 24, 2015


There are many, many weeks I am grateful to God for the arrival of Friday. I'm grateful usually because it means that our family can once again be together for two days straight. In addition to that, today means the end of another successful camp experience for #s 1&2. It also means day 7 of the novena. All good things.

I was thinking about Five on Friday but I don't have enough time to be that formal so I'm just going to touch on a few things that were extra blessings this week. It's good to spend time thinking about things I am grateful helps me keep the proper focus.

 Her attitude improved as the week went on (sort of)

This has been our first church-based novena as a family. As you know, we had one epic failure but, otherwise, it's been fairly smooth-going. It's been nice to hear a different perspective about a lot of things. The topic of this novena is Family and that seems perfect for our family-based novena which will end on our anniversary and #4s baptism day. How kind of them to work with us ;0)

Last night the pool afternoon worked exactly as planned and we had much more docile children in the pew. In fact, Mr. G passed out cold about 10 minutes in and I had the blessing of holding him the whole Mass and hearing the entire homily! There were lots of good things that Father had to say but, to me, the most simple was the most powerful...
When we were baptized, we couldn't walk or talk, we didn't have an important job, we didn't have fame or fortune, we weren't great athletes, we could do almost nothing and yet that day God put His hands over us and said, "this child is the most important thing in the world to Me!". We were that valuable to God having done nothing...we don't have to earn our value to Him, we already have it. Yet, in the years following, we spend all of our time trying to prove how valuable we are. Why?

Wow. Talk about refocusing your priorities.

Earlier in the week Father (or his brother...who can be sure - these two are really identical!) talked about being a disciple. He talked about how the first disciples "got it" because they were with Christ and learned at His feet. We don't have that opportunity but we do have the Bible, which we believe is God's word, so we should read and study will tell us what we need to know!

As such, I've been trying my best to spend some time each day with the readings to really think about and glean what I can. Truthfully, some are difficult but many are pretty straightforward. Like today's First Reading...

Reading 1 Ex 20:1-17

In those days:
God delivered all these commandments:

“I, the LORD, am your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves
in the shape of anything in the sky above
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God,
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness
on the children of those who hate me,
down to the third and fourth generation;
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished
him who takes his name in vain.

“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work,
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter,
or your male or female slave, or your beast,
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother,
that you may have a long life in the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.

“You shall not kill.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife,
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass,
nor anything else that belongs to him.”
Yes, the Ten Commandments! Guess what, even though society would lead you to believe that they are way out of date, they are still the same and they are still God's Law! Nothing has changed! (sorry...just wanted to be clear in case you were confused). The First, for me, is particularly important in these days of fads and trends...are we making something else in our life superior to God? It is also a good reminder that God is merciful to those who follow His commands but for the others? Well, read it over yourself just as a refresher.

Reading it yourself

I subbed for Adoration at 2 AM today. That time of night is difficult for me. These people don't settle down until about 10 so I only get a few hours of rest before I'm up again. Add to that this lovely respiratory mess I'm dealing with and the coughing allowed me about an hour's sleep. Good day to go to Adoration...I'm up anyway and I can offer up all of my distress for those who can use some extra grace.

Often when I have Adoration so early I try to read something new so it keeps my mind focused. Today was Pope Francis' Joy of the Gospel. I hadn't heard much about it except in passing from a friend who is all about happy-clappy joy and not so much thoughtful joy. My friend made the point to me that the Pope didn't want people walking around with long faces...we need to be JOYFUL!!!

Imagine my surprise when I read the first chapter and, yes, the pope did talk about being joyful but he also acknowledged that there would be times in your life when you must "sow the message through tears". Yes! He actually said that people would have difficult times in their lives and that the trial should not keep them from carrying the joy of Christ along with them, even in their grief.

My point? Don't believe what the press, the chat boards or even your friends have to say about current Church teaching. Go to the source. Hash it out with your spouse or spiritual advisor. Sometimes (most of the time in the press's case) they pick and choose what makes a good soundbite and leave the rest behind.

I'm looking forward to beginning "Laudato Si" since it seems to be causing a lot of Americans to lose some love for our Holy Father. That, in itself, is usually an indicator that he has something important and challenging to say. Oh, I do know that it's not just about the environment so if that's what you believe, perhaps we should read along together ;0)

National NFP Awareness Week

We are wrapping up another Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. I wasn't at my home parish for Mass last week so I don't know what happened. Nothing happened where we were because of the novena and, truthfully, that is too bad because it would have worked wonderfully with the whole St. Anne bit. 

I'm not a person to talk about NFP because we don't use it. We did when we were actively trying to have children and since that time, well, we're old and we're open to God's plan. It doesn't matter if more babies come. We would be joyful ;0) and welcoming to new life.

It's an individual decision for a Catholic couple to make...whether or not to follow NFP in their marriage. Whether to use NFP or sterilization/contraception is not and individual decision for a Catholic couple. It's not. Period. Sterilization and contraception are contrary to Church teachings.  NFP when used correctly (same words as any contraception you choose) has a higher success rate than anything other than abstinence and, oh, it builds your marriage as well. So, struggle if you must but know that NFP, abstinence or using nothing are the only things that keep you on the path to heaven. There is no excuse. You are a reasonable, thinking human being. You can take your temp and write it on a sheet of paper. You can do this! You will be better for it! It's so much nicer than adding to the abundance of hormones already being flushed into our water system or, heavens, putting a wire coil in your fallopian tube (it's 

OK, I guess I do have some opinions. Go figure ;0)

Have a wonderful Friday and a very blessed weekend. I'll see if I can dig up a picture of the happy couple on Sunday. If not, keep us in your prayers. Twelve years seems monumental to me!

We are blessed.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Like a child rests in his mother's arms

So will I rest in You.


Have you met my 3-year-old?

So, instead of "what a lovely Mass we had" I will say, I wasn't resting and neither was he.

So it is (ahem) a coincidence that I would have this quote sitting in my inbox from Monday waiting for the appropriate post.
"You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds… What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can."
— St. Thomas More

That was me tonight, making as little bad as I could. I even had some peace about it. I just hate interrupting the service and missing pretty much the whole Mass to stand in the lobby with a naughty little boy. But that's our sacrifice, isn't it? We are mothers and fathers, parents, grandparents, who know that sometimes it's smooth sailing with the sun on your face and sometimes it's uncontrollable winds.

Either way, we are blessed.

St. Mary Magdalene, Pray for us!

Postscript...oh, if you think you've seen this quote before, you have. I just found it one year and one day ago HERE (ahem.) Guess July is a stormy month around here ;0)


Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, July 19, 2015

St. Anne, Pray for Us!

If you missed it, yesterday was the first day of the St. Anne Novena. Being the mother of Our Lady and grandmother of Jesus, she is a pretty special and powerful intercessor. We are trying to complete the novena as a family. We succeeded for day 1! ;0)

If you did miss it, no worries, jump in anytime. You can find the complete prayers HERE.

Saint Anne, Bless My Family
I entrust my family to you, Good Saint Anne.
Keep a careful eye on them and guard them against all
physical and spiritual danger.
My family is where my life develops; it is my vital setting; made up of the persons I love most in the world.
My family is the small community where I live through a succession of joys and pains. It is, as it were, my home church.
I know that the model of all families must be found in the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. 
You yourself, Saint Anne, with your husband Joachim and your daughter, the Virgin Mary, gave the example of an ideal family.
Help my family be as closely united as yours and that of Jesus. Make us love and help one another as you did.
Saint Anne, you were a spouse, a mother and a grandmother.

Bless all the members of my family. Keep them united and always faithful to the Lord.

Help all Christian families become a living example of love and peace to people they meet. May they proclaim Christ and His Gospel by word and charity.

Thanks to your intercession, may the whole family of the children of God, the Church, remain faithful to Jesus. Amen.

 We are blessed.

Friday, July 17, 2015


Why wouldn't you want to go to her whenever you are in need?

"There is, actually, only one person in all humanity of whom God has one picture and in whom there is a perfect conformity between what he wanted her to be and what she is, and that is his own mother. Most of us are a minus sign, in the sense that we do not fulfill the high hopes the heavenly Father has for us. But Mary is the equal sign. The ideal that God had of her, that she is, and in the flesh. The model and the copy are perfect; she is all that was forseen, planned, and dreamed. The melody of her life is played just as it was written."
— Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Glorious Day

Well, I'll put up a few pictures and talk about it later. We had everyone at Kennywood for 9 hours today! I am more than pleased. If you were there and heard Blondie shrieking on the way to the car...well, you know, she was really tired ;0)

We are blessed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


This post has been postponed for costume pressing, make-up and hair stuff gathering, snacks baking and other assorted tasks associated with Slovak Day. If you're bored tomorrow, come join us! I am definitely going on Noah's Ark :0)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Weekend Wrap Up

Well, we finally got our beautiful weekend. It was busy but fun and the weather was amazing.

This Thursday is Slovak Day at Kennywood (local theme park). Slovak Day is something we used to attend with my dad's family forever. Bub, my grandmother, was the leader of the pack and there were always a million people there. Now that the older generation has mostly passed, it's definitely less well-attended but still a nice day. Four of our five will be dancing (I hope anyway, Blondie had a major melt down at Friday's dress always, kids keep you guessing).

We also spent a lot of the day cleaning since Saturday brought our friends from the West!


After they left DH said, "I love to visit with's so easy. Their kids interact nicely with our kids, they are interesting and fun, and then there is Sweet T". I probably said that last one. Tell me, is there a cuter kid than this?

He's not the only cute one, though. They are all pretty special. I mourn the fact that they are far away but every time we get together the kids just go back to where they left off. God is so good to put this amazing family in our lives!
I think what I love most is two giant tables filled with kids...what blessings!
Letting the silly out
 She looks like she's singing some Aretha but she's really saying, "get this moose out of my playhouse!"
Beautiful friends.

After our friends departed, we raced around to go our respective ways...DH to take #s 2,3&4 to a Lego camp and me to take Alpha and Omega to a wedding. Let's say Mr. G wasn't getting the whole thing. Gratefully, it was only a ceremony and we were out in 35 minutes. Also grateful for the programs which doubled as...
a great toy for a three-year-old. You fan yourself, then you smack the pew, then you toss it in the air (we were three rows from the back and I was doing all I could to keep him from screaming, "where is the bride mama? I don't SEE the bride!")

Because we are gluttons for that sort of thing, we ran home, picked up the others and headed to Vigil Mass (well, it couldn't be helped, the two oldest were serving). Tiny man had had enough of St. Bernard's at this point and happily drifted off to sleep in my lap. I was able to offer up the pain of an extra 40+ lbs of dead weight and we all made it through.


It turned out well that we went to vigil as we were then able to get our rest, eat our breakfast, and head to a park downtown to meet up with more friends for Bach, Beethoven and Brunch. What fun. A beautiful day, lots of fun with friends, and a bassoon! I am blessed ;0)

Hoping that you had a weekend that was equally blessed. Oh, the best thing about this week starting...Miss Terri is en route home! I am so pleased with myself for making it through...and I will be even more pleased to see her. She was a big part of the family missing for many weeks. 

We are blessed.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Birthday Blessings...

Well, if I were a five-year-old, I'd think I made out pretty well today. It was a blessing to me to see that so many of the special moments involved her siblings. I think that's just perfect.

Wake up! She was serenaded by her roomie/sister, then the two older boys went up for their turn. Sleepyhead met up with her in the office to give his rendition.
 And, of course, a birthday hug.

Off to 8 AM Mass...what an added bit of grace to witness a baby priest (12 days old!) say Mass and then give a family/birthday blessing. God is so good!

Madagascar 3, one of her favorites, on the big screen with friends.
 Couldn't pass it up...

To daddy's office to share a pretzel lunch then home for a well-deserved rest.

Pool time! What a great day to show some excellent big-sister enthusiasm.

Home for dinner, dessert and gifts. 

She is blessed and we are blessed by her. Happy Birthday, CC. We love you :0)

Sweet, Sour and 5!

I recently found a book about a little girl who flips from being a sweetie pie to being a sourpuss (see the Goodreads feed to the right). Our newly 5-year-old pinkie pie seems to fit that bill most days. I seem to remember 5 for some reason and I think it was difficult...not quite a big girl and not a baby. We were so blessed to have this so-different-yet-one-of-the-tribe second daughter. We'll take whatever she wants to dish on any trying day and be grateful for her...good, bad and ugly, because the good is really, really good.

Happy birthday, my sweet. We love you more than you could ever know.

They came to visit and wanted to stay ;0)

 Look at that little (big) brother! Sweet boy
 They didn't want her to be lonely...sibling love is the best.

We are blessed!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Then again...

I sometimes jump the gun on the quality of my day.

Full-disclosure/girl-stuff moment...I am extremely anemic right now. My favorite Bible passage is Luke 8:40-48 because, while not 40 years, I can say I've identified with the woman in a big way for at least the last 25. I love pregnancy because it means no periods for a year...hurray! That's not the case today. Today is a day when I need an iron shot or, more truthfully, a blood transfusion.

Digression over...just trying to set the stage. We spent most of the morning searching down library books needed to write reports and by the time swim lessons came around, I was exhausted. We made it through that (thank you car video and Pocoyo!) and came home. It's Wednesday...

Our church has holy hour every Wednesday. If you've been reading the blog, you know I always find some good stuff at holy hour. Tonight, even in my exhaustion and dragging two tired little people along (the others were well-behaved...minor miracle), the grace was flowing.

I know this because as we pulled up I heard drums...and amplified guitar. The church next to ours is fond of this type of worship. Let me say I don't even like Festivals of Praise because Adoration, to me, is silent (or as silent as little people can be...I'm good with chatting about Jesus in the Monstrance or saying a Divine Mercy Chaplet...nice, right? Drums? Not so much). When we entered the church we were good because the rectory serves as a block to most of the rock church next door. Problem solved.

Except for the neighbors on the other side...Crossfit moved in a few months ago. Let me say I have nothing against people working out. It's a good thing. If I have a few childless moments and have planned ahead, I too like to indulge in a little physical activity. The noise music, however, I find less-than-appealing.

They don't care of course and usually it drives me a little to distraction. Today? Grace. Complete and total Grace. I heard it, I felt it and I had no reaction at all. I looked at the Monstrance and thought, "I'm where I need to be". Father furthered that idea in his homily which I enjoy because sometimes I think I'm just wandering alone out there.

Somewhere in the "quiet time" of the hour, I looked toward the Tabernacle. We have a beautiful space to house our Tabernacle.
God above with His hands outstretched, the Blessed Mother below Him and a ring of Marian Saints surrounding Jesus in His Tabernacle. It's such a lovely sight.

Well, tonight we sat in the right section in the back and when I looked up I saw the Tabernacle completely but only God's right hand and arm and the right hand of the Blessed Mother. For the next few minutes my eye kept being called back there.

I feel like most days (certainly today), that's my life. I'm not a Fatima kid or a great Saint. The visions of God and Our Lady are not mine to enjoy in this life. Still, the grace I receive is enough to remind me that they are there, leading me. Their hands are clear to me (except on those days when I have to walk completely with faith...thankfully they are few lately) and enough to keep me walking toward the goal. I know, earlier in my life, it was probably more like the tip of one finger and I am grateful that I held on in that precarious time. I know now that the Tabernacle in full view is what allows me to walk with certainty on more days than not. He is pushing me as His dear Mother and Our Father guide me. What an amazing blessing to have. What a gift of grace...and dearly needed in this life.

Father talked about the joy of having our crosses to unite with Christ's. Tonight, in my state, having an extra 40+ pounds push my tailbone most uncomfortably into the wood of the pew...that's about as clear a sign as any I can hope for in this life. I prayed hard and thought of all the intentions for which I could offer the pain only, in God's goodness, to be rewarded at the end of the service with the realization that I had been holding my very own cherub during that most difficult time.

Following His will can take more strength than any human has alone. This is why it is essential that we do all we can to draw more closely to Him as often as possible. His Grace is sufficient.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
rocedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio. Amen. 

(To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty. Amen.)

We are blessed.

And sometimes...

Little people need to sit and watch Pocoyo during their sib ' s swim lessons.  Not every day is award-winning and yet we are still blessed!