Saturday, October 31, 2015

By all your saints still striving...

for all your saints at rest. (this is where I insert the pic that I didn't take of three of our children sleeping through the entire vigil Mass tonight...the older two were on the altar).

I can't blame them, it was a long day. #2 and I headed out this morning for our typical CMU Saturday (and got there early so we saw some cool sights)
This cool number, weird thing in the middle of a maze

A circular bench! We rolled around until I got sick. So cool!

Not one

But TWO Madonna and Child statues in the School of Architecture. I misjudged. Mea culpa.

The others were off at the Halloween parade and Trunk or Treat to get even more candy ('cause I guess you can never have enough)...all before the big event!

We were missing a few but the Saints party was better than ever. We had familiar Saints, unknown Saints, new and old Saints. It was a wonderful afternoon of learning and playing and having fun. Who knew that St. Charles Borromeo was the patron of apple orchards or St. Julian the Hospitaller is patron of circus performers or St. Barbara is patron of engineers? We learned these and more on our scavenger hunt!
St. Julian

St. Charles Borromeo

St. Barbara
Our Saints were guessed and we played and had a wonderful time sharing snacks like "St. Stephen's stones" and "St. Apollonia's teeth" and "St. Isadore's veggies".
St. John Bosco

St. Helen and St. Kateri

All the Saints

Vigil Mass, as you know, was rest time for the little three...just enough to refuel for the three blocks to fill our bags to bursting. I told the kids they were so lucky to live in the city...the yield is crazy.

He described himself as "the Chopped winner"

#1 enjoyed her last year by dressing as a Sister. A+ for evangelization opportunity.

Since tomorrow is the huge Slovak dance show, I'm going to bed. Enjoy the extra hour of sleep and pledge to ask for intercession anytime you need help. There are Saints to cover almost every situation!

All you Holy Men and Women, pray for us! We are blessed.

Friday, October 30, 2015

It is totally worth the commute

when this little dude says, "mama, can we go see Mama and light a candle to pray that she lets us under her mantle?" 

Our Lady, Queen of all Saints
wrap us in your mantle
and lead us to your Son.
Aid us in our quest
to join you and all the holy men and women in heaven.

We are blessed.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

It's Thursday night

Is anyone else hemming a priest cassock? Just wondering ;0)

We are blessed!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rainy day...

Seems like the perfect time to suit up my favorite sous chef
and start cooking! We've been at it all day while the big people are doing their work.

Pulled pork in the crock pot

Corn muffins for the pork and "Mary, Queen of Saints" muffins for Saturday

The last is a bit of a stretch for me but I'm game. If you look behind cutie in the picture above there is a green "Slovak-American cook book" Not sure why the "American" since it's all Slovak recipes (techniques like scalding your milk and using cake yeast) but it's my go-to for all things authentic.

Today is paska. Yes, it's traditionally Easter bread but Sunday is the Slovak Festival and we have to bake something. So, paska it is. Including golden raisins and cottage cheese dough for the middle. Looks promising. Hopefully this practice will make for some delicious loaves later.

Cottage cheese and regular dough...almost ready!
I am so grateful to have a vocation that allows me to cook and bake, especially for my family. It is a wonderful way to build traditions, share fun and grow together. I'm not a baker (I don't like to measure) so I make mistakes...that's a good thing to teach little ones that everything isn't perfect but if you take the time and love to make it, it's good no matter what it tastes like. Usually, it tastes pretty good.

We are blessed.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Refreshing weekend

I may have mentioned that our schedule has been getting me down. That is still true but this weekend, something terrible and wonderful happened. Two occurrences and one conversation pushed me past the breaking point. I could simply take no more. Guess what? God picked me up and led me where I would find refreshment...away from the hypocrisy and insanity of my usual weekend atmosphere. Sometimes you have to hit the bottom before you truly look up and see the clarity. I am so grateful to God for this weekend.

We spent some Saturday time at home as a family and, between soccer and a wedding, completed our 500 pieces!

 Sunday was Mass then down to the vigil to represent our church.
How blessed we are to spend time there with people who know and aren't afraid to live the faith! 

Home again to work on our Saints posters for the party on Saturday. Yes, it's Halloween...that's originally All Hallows' Eve (All Saints Eve)...see below ;0)

 LOL. We are blessed!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Chemfest Rocks!

Greatest pen ever and when unclicked, a smartphone stylus. Joy

We are blessed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I don't feel much like writing...

so when I find a thought-provoking article, I'm just going to pass it along.

Today's addresses Pre-Cana in the Catholic church. I've been through Engaged Encounter and Pre-Cana as a participant and I've observed Pre-Cana as a decade-long married individual. I've also attended about 12 weddings at our parish over the last few months. Let's just say it doesn't appear that we're successfully making the point that marriage is a Sacrament and not just a pretty party.

Go HERE and read it yourself. Pray about it. Do something.

We are blessed.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


I'm spent from a wonderful day of visits with friends and hayrides and pumpkins. Let me not forget today's special Saint, however, since she is full of amazing thoughts...

St. Teresa, Pray for Us!

Lately the cure for my mood has been friends and faith. Good thoughts, prayer and service never seem to fail to pull me up. Spending my time with friends and watching our kids establish good, solid friendships helps to give me hope for their future.

 Thank you, Father, for this day and these friends. We are blessed.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My five small pebbles...

Then, staff in hand, David selected five smooth stones from the wadi and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s bag. With his sling in hand, he approached the Philistine.
                                                                                                                   1 Samuel 17: 40
I'm feeling a bit down lately. Not clinically but enough to make me more conscious of finding the good in my days as they pass. That is a good thing. I suppose, if one must be depressed, it's good to pull oneself out as often as possible. Sitting in a dark hole never worked during the first half of my life. I'm grateful to have been led to this option for the second half.

Today we decided, between errands, to stop at The Vigil to pray for the babies. On the way down, #3 wanted to read us a story from his kids Bible and chose David and Goliath. I smiled because I identify with that story so much at this point in my life.

When we arrived, it was nearing lunchtime and I knew it would be a bit crowded but it doesn't matter much. We have been there during some interesting times and the kids know to pray for people that seem off-balance. We were warmly welcomed by the other vigil goers and we proceeded to the empty end of the circle to say our rosary.

All the kids were standing fairly quietly, holding their signs and praying (I say this because I followed along almost the entire time). People, as usual, were passing by with eyes averted. That's OK too since we were there for a short time and prayer for the babies and moms was most important.

A woman, a bit older than me, walked by and said loudly enough for me, "poor kids". It didn't register until she was gone. When she passed again on the other side of the street while I was mid-Hail Mary, she met my eyes when I looked up and smiled. She shook her head strongly and said many things that I was grateful were out of earshot. Please pray for her. I do worry about people who have that much anger in them. I have anger, please don't misunderstand, but it's usually not vented at random people on the street doing things that don't appear to concern me.

We left not long after to finish our final errand and head to the park for lunch. I told the kids why it was nice that David and Goliath was our story this morning. If you look for me on Pinterest, my username is 5smstones. These beautiful gifts above are my small stones (poetic license...I know it's supposed to be smooth). I'm not sure what God intends to use them for but I know that they are His and He will call them to their work. I'm just trying to keep them facing upward whenever possible.

On the way home I told them about the woman's comment and we talked. I told them she was very angry and we have to pray for her and all the people who hold so much anger in their heart. I told them that many people, including people they see in church or play with on the playground, think abortion is too sticky to be involved's no one's business. They know that abortion isn't that's a baby being murdered. I also told them that the doctors, when my blood work wasn't perfect, thought maybe it would be easier to not have the difficulty that might come with the birth of #5. They had many questions and had many, many good thoughts. I am pleased with their understanding and their beliefs at this point.

I don't pretend that they will always be this clear in their thinking. I know that I struggle with society and all the pulls that cause you to stumble along the way. So many days I feel like David looked heading toward Goliath. I pray that I can have his pure trust in God's plan. I pray that we can all work to follow God, even when we feel like the little boy against the giant.

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful day...what a gift from the Creator.

We are blessed.

Happy Columbus Day!

This is the day we celebrate the Italian side of, go grab a cannoli and mangia!

The principal and head teacher have decided, since some of the public and most of the private schools are off, we're going to have an all-Columbus-all-day school day while we enjoy the last (sniff) day of 70s weather this year.

You know it, friend.
We are blessed.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Interesting Day

Our Saturdays have turned into everything I have raged about other people doing so, other people, Mea culpa. I understand how difficult it is to say no and how easy it is to fall into being over scheduled and crazy. DH and I are formulating our escape plan. More on that later.

It is amazing to me, though, how God can make all things good. Failing that, at least make everything not as bad as it originally would seem Here's part of our interesting day and the lessons that came during and after.

#2 and I head out to a local university every Saturday a little before 9 so that he can attend an architecture class. I had high hopes but, sadly, it hasn't turned out to be what I expected. The campus is extremely liberal and, had I thought it through, I would have realized the class is less about building and more about saving our planet through recycling, green buildings, etc. The plus? My child who has long been a bit timid when it comes to new people is at least away from us for three hours and learning things that seem to interest him (a big struggle at the moment). Caring for the earth is also the pope's message so with a little work, we can make it a Catholic thing ;0) Finally, we have good discussions about how people might say things that, while true, are not exactly accurate (like "if you drop a plastic water bottle on the ground it will leech toxins into the ground water and poison us." DH pointed out, while true, it would take about a million years...see? Hyperbole is fun!)

Bouncing on and off of campus while I ran to and from home to finish other errands, I was having an "open to the Holy Spirit's sense of beauty and irony day". There was some type of football game or something else happening so, when I returned, I waited in line to park on the top floor of the garage. I thought about being annoyed but I gave it up, realizing there were enough people who already chose that route. When I got out of my car, I immediately saw this...
The Cathedral spires! On a beautiful day! Thank you, God!

Then heard and eventually saw this
A whole BUNCH of bagpipers! What an excellent place to stop and enjoy some beautiful music.

So, there you go. I was feeling some grace and gratitude as I walked across campus, enjoying the beautiful day. It carried me through pickup and allowed me to laugh at the cosmic joke that might have otherwise sent me into the society-hating pit on a day like yesterday. The class is in the Fine Arts building so it's full of wonderful sights and sounds (think orchestral instruments practicing and art installations...only some of which are odd). I learned a while ago, though, that I'm not really an art person at heart...I suppose I should clarify to say non-religious art people since I do know at least two artists who I could talk with for hours.

I digress. On my way through the building, I spotted this poster announcing an upcoming author talk.
Are you proud that your title reflects making an improper gesture? Wow. Society.

So this woman is taking the scientific approach to prove that morality is, in fact, a scientifically-based phenomena and nothing like the superstitious silliness that we religious folk are always droning on about. If I could bare to part with him another night, I would insist DH attend. I would love to hear about it and I fear I would make rude noises/gestures during the high points of the talk.

I know you're waiting for the irony. Well, I happened to pick up the book I'm reading on the way out the door that morning. I didn't have any deep thoughts about creating a hostile environment or creating dialogue, I just thought I might have a few minutes to sit down and read (I did...five). After taking the above picture, I realized what my reading selection for the day was and it made me LOL.
Can you call it Holy Irony if it comes from the Holy Spirit?
It made me laugh but I was also wishing I could call up dear Clive for a minute. He talks early in the first book about how there are social mores that prevent civilized folk from crossing certain lines of taste. I wonder what questions he would ask Alice Dreger about Galileo's middle finger?

At last, time to leave. Our city is in the fix-every-road-before-winter-destroys-them-again two weeks. I took the road that leads to the tunnel that is currently closed. Gah. Again, thought about getting angry and even had a few moments of refusing to let the people in who sped up the shoulder then I figured it was no use. I turned on the radio and when #2 said, "can't we listen to Classical music?" (which meant anything but this), I said, "Nope...we are listening to this"
Local Catholic Radio!
Imagine my joy when, at dinner, #2 piped up to say "Guess why they immerse the baby/pour Holy Water on the baby three times during Baptism?" Wow, he listened to the hour program on Sacraments in the Catholic Church and heard something. God is good...All.The.Time.

More of this interesting day at a later date...stay tuned.

We are blessed.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A little light reading

Everything managed to go opposite of the plan today (except Mass...happy feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and happy 1 year scapular anniversary to me!) so I have no thoughts to share. Luckily, there is a really excellent article you can read in the meantime.

Hey Parents!

We have been fighting the quick creep of over scheduling ( we're actually losing at the moment) and this was a great article to try to put things in focus for our family. Lots of "priority" ideas floating around...perhaps another day for that blog. Now, it's pickup/lunchtime.

We are blessed.

Don't forget to pray your rosary today...I recommend the car, which we are doing now :0)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Welcome October

It is OCTOBER! That means...

The month of the Most Holy Rosary
So cute...but that's not all! It's also

Respect Life Month

We are blessed to have a regular commitment with our Children's Rosary Group every 1st Sunday of the month...perfect day to pray the rosary with a few other families and a gob of kids!

After rosary, we might have gone downtown to 40 Days for Life or to participate in the Rosary March, which is always a favorite but I felt called to something new. This time, we headed to our old parish (the one we were married into and began our family) where they were participating in the Life Chain. This is a gathering of pro-life people who also hold signs on the street but, instead of gathering in front of an abortion clinic, they usually gather in front of a church. With no abortion-minded people to counsel, the time is free to silently witness to those who pass by and pray for an end to the scourge of abortion. 

It was a perfect choice and it just so happened to be our dear friend, Betty's, birthday (ahem). A wonderful hour of quiet witness followed by catching up with dear friends from a decade ago. Going home is a beautiful thing. We are blessed that we were able to join them today.

Dear Betty is in the yellow coat.
Having done our part to openly witness to the gift of life, we headed out to our final stop. Ice cream outside to enjoy the gorgeous day that God has gifted to us.

It's only October 4th so instead of planning your Halloween party (or All Saints party) take a few weeks to show your respect for life in some way. Pray at a 40 Days vigil, fast for a day, offer up each times you would like to yell at your children and instead hug them and give God thanks for the gift that is your parenthood. Pray for those who are dying or the Holy Souls in Purgatory. However it works for you, celebrate and respect life!
We are blessed.

Friday, October 2, 2015

September Pilgrimage

It was a blessing to have Pope Francis, not only in the US, but in an East Coast city! I was happy to see that he was able to make the rounds (especially to the prison and seminary and, who knew, St. Joe's! Very exciting...I had my last "real" job there...Jesuit connection, I suppose.) We watched some coverage on Thursday night (Bishop Barron's keynote was exceptional) but, truthfully, the White House charade made me a little bit queasy. We were recently scolded for being upset that the pope didn't talk about "political issues" but, truthfully, abortion and gay marriage aren't political issues at their core. They are issues of right and wrong and I'm sad if the clergy are shying away from these topics because of lost income/comfort/tax exemption/whatever. If we aren't educated (I just read that 50% of the people are unaware that Planned Parenthood provides abortions...huh?) how can we know right from wrong? Or is that the plan?

Big digression to say, in the end, I'm glad we didn't see the pope. The 3 hour security lines (we didn't even make it for 25 minutes in a museum on Sunday) and the general "bigness" of the event just said "no" to me. I'm struggling a lot right now with how being Catholic is the best choice, especially when the pope and many of the priests I encounter seem to be saying, "just be a good person and God is happy." Nothing that is unique and right about the Catholic faith seems to be highlighted any more. Are we still the one true Church?

When I say I'm struggling, it's the devil speaking. There are sooo many days when I am over-tired, ill, struggling with my vocation, whatever...I would so like to just cruise along and be a "good person". Catholic at those moments is too much work. Yet, I know I'm a Catholic. I could never truly walk away. I know because I wear shirts like this and don't think twice:
New gift from the Shrine...yes, it does spark joy for me ;0p

I get up in the middle of the night to adore Christ in the Eucharist. Thanks to God for the example of my good friend that, when difficulties come, I am usually present enough to think for whom my struggle might be offered to ease their day. Redemptive suffering, the Blessed Mother, the Real Presence...this is why I am a Catholic. (and the Saints. Happy fest of the Guardian Angels, BTW).

Since the pope visit was out and DH already took the vacation, we headed to Massachusetts (picked up three new states as well. Score.). Stockbridge, specifically, to The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. This is run by the Marian fathers and, as you may know, I have a deep devotion to Mary in Her Immaculate Conception which happens to be their credo (the full name is the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception).

Well, if I was struggling (and continue somewhat now), it was not evident while we were in Stockbridge. It felt like home to me. Everywhere you looked was either the Divine Mercy, the Holy Souls in Purgatory or the Immaculate Conception. To say it was Catholic immersion is an understatement. It filled my grace tanks to bursting. To share it with DH and the kids was a blessing.

Saturday we arrived in time for the afternoon Mass, followed by the blessing of the families and the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena. We were on Day 6:
Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of  Little Children,
and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.    
I promise you I had no idea but, wow, was that a huge hug from the Holy Spirit..."yes, you are in the right place on the right day doing the right thing" I love when that happens. Confession after was so amazing that I walked out of the confessional, leaned over to DH and said, you have to go...he said the same thing after he finished. A confession that ends with a personalized prayer over you, calling on Our Lady's help or that directly calls out the spiritual warfare that you are enduring? What a blessing that we were there with that priest on that day.

Sunday was a beautiful tour of the life-sized Stations of the Cross before Mass then visiting the Shrine of the Holy Innocents (DH got all weepy...I love him so much) and the Outdoor Shrine that is full to capacity on Divine Mercy Sunday.

It is said that roses are often given to you or in some other way show up while you are praying the Novena to St. Therese.
When we arrived at the Shrine we were on Day 4. It was bursting with dozens of red and white roses...#1's eyes were bulging out of her head ;0)

St Therese outside with more roses!

Amazing Stations

The grounds are breathtaking

Shrine of the Holy Innocents. So many names on the walls.
Truly a blessed day
Everyone journeys in their own way. I am so grateful that we had this trip, at this time. We stayed in the wilderness so there were only small interruptions in our family time and prayer time. It was so good for me to be there with my family.

I believe the grace carried me through the return trip and the last few days which have been an immersion into self-denial, prayer and praise for the unborn and these fine men
Look at all the new deacons!!! Please pray for them!!!
I am so grateful to God that this week is almost over and that we are all safely again at home.

Turns out the kids got to "meet" the pope anyway...
We are blessed.