Sunday, January 31, 2016

Back to the routine

We were blessed to have a three-day weekend around here. DH took off Friday to escort #1 to her Geographic Bee in the morning and stayed with us for the first day of Step Up in the afternoon. As always when we have a full-day of family time, it was memorable.

I don't have any pictures of the Geo Bee (moms and dads are different, you know?) but I will report that she came in 3rd place. It was disappointing after runner-up in her first outing last year but the first and second places were both eighth graders. Three extra years to study maps ;0)

Step up was, as always, a wonderful experience. I love seeing them all rush to their classes, see old friends and former teachers, and look really eager to learn. The best was #2 walking out of his last class saying, "mom, I know now what I'm supposed to do...I'm supposed to be a writer!" This is the child who moans whenever I ask him to write a few paragraphs. Oh well, at least he is motivated!

The added bonus was walking through the Holy Door at the Basilica (I think we actually walked through the door next to the holy door...does that count?) and going to Mass with DH and little boy. Ahh, I so missed my weekly outing with tiny. Guaranteed Mass helps the drive home go more smoothly.

Being the first day back, DH treated us all to dinner after classes. We saw a fantastic sunset (blazing red through the snow...looked like a pillar of fire) then headed to Kings. We sat in front of the fire (yay!) and were all reasonably behaved considering it had been a really long day already. The server was so sweet and when I realized my veggie burger was still pretty frozen on the inside, the manager took 20% off the entire bill (wow, that's not small for 7 people...I would have been happy to just have it microwaved!). I like it out in the country...if you're gracious, people go out of their way to help.

At, or close to, the Holy Door (Vatican flag wasn't cooperating)

So beautiful...even the water tower!
Saturday was pretty splendid as well, even though I had a little boy wandering in and out of my room all early morning.

First was Family Confession at a neighboring parish. A home school family we know fairly well runs it and we usually go to support their's not every day you have such a thing! Today it was clear that we were all there to, as another friend said, share the sacrament with friends. It's a blessing to see people we know and love, play a bit, then go to receive forgiveness for our sins! The little ones know why we're there and they are awaiting the time when they are able to leave the play room and walk into the church with all the big people. It's really beautiful. We are so grateful to have that opportunity.

After seeing our friends and scrubbing our souls it was time for some new do's for the males of the household. DH has been going to this barber for 18 years (Barber Joe predates me!) and it's so much fun to go, line the boys up, and shave it all off (we're not the long-hair boy type...except for those under three...are you shocked?) They added another chair since we last visited so it was even cuter to watch.
Aren't the so cute???

G hopped up in the chair and said, "Hey Barber Joe, I want a buzz cut!"

Barber Joe takes a man at his word!


The girls sat quietly to earn their lollies ;0)

After such a nice morning, and because it was a beautiful day, I finally(!) got to go outside and do some forward motion. I did pick one of the hilly routes but, wow, I am totally out of shape. It's always a slap to go out for the first day and realize that. Still, I'm going out and that's what matters. It will come in time. The weather was beautiful and all the ice dangers have passed, for now. I hope I can get another outdoor jog in this week before winter returns.

Evangelize while you run!
My new favorite snack...cute too!
Sunday, as always, are a day of family rest. Today we threw in 4 Open Houses! (two preschool, one house for sale and one gym). I was good and lifted weights while the others ate popcorn and cupcakes; the house is just up the street from dear friends but would never work for a variety of reasons; and the schools, well, that remains to be seen.)

Speaking of school, today begins Catholic Schools Week. As I mentioned, we consider ourselves a Catholic school and, as such, we're undertaking a study of "7" this week...stay tuned.

We are blessed.

Saint John Bosco, Pray for Us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ordinary Time

It's kind of another ingenious stroke of God to organize the happenings of Christ's life to allow us some "down" time between the major events (perfect, as always). Some of us call that "Ordinary Time" and while it's never ordinary to live in this world as a Christian, it usually means we're not in major preparation for Easter or Christmas...still, life being life, there are always "extra"ordinary moments.

Things break...

Our house is over 100 years old and, yes, there are always things needing to be fixed. It is a solid house, though, so it's usually something that can wait...not so with modern conveniences. Around Christmas, our dishwasher developed a crack in the basin, turning our kitchen into a small lake each time we ran it. (it made me laugh a bit because we seemed to have the same problem growing mom claimed it was good because she got to mop the floor and wash the dishes at the same time...I need to work on that kind of positive attitude!).

We were able, after a few weeks, to have a new dishwasher appear and fix that problem. Truthfully, I didn't mind it all that much because DH and I spent 30+ minutes every evening over the dishes, talking about our day. Perhaps that was the point.

Next up, the oven. Thankfully, it was only the coil that cracked and not something more dire but it was dramatic when the coil broke and burst into flames for a few moments. Fast forward another two weeks and that, too is fixed. In the meantime, I was reacquainted with the joys of crock-pot and on-the-stove-top cooking...lots of good things to be had there!
Crock-pot ham with mustard/brown sugar glaze. Yum.

Chicken Soup was perfect for the snow on Saturday!
 Taking a break...

We are, thankfully, in a hiatus from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. I'm not thankful for missing the classes because all the kids love it and I have 90 minutes of prep time each week(!) but I don't miss the 40 minute drive in the dark/'s nice to be a homebody for four weeks. During the hiatus they offer family Masses each Wednesday night. It's a great activity because during the homily, Father comes down in front of the altar and talks about the Gospel on kid-level. Our little people love that special time and attention from the priest. This year, the two older kids even have the honor of serving one of the Masses! We had fun during practice on Monday night.
I love the old-time cassocks!

I don't think he's quite ready to be cross bearer

Double-time recessional...time for dinner!
But not from everything...

Friday is a busy day this week. #1 will be competing in her second Geographic Bee and is excited and nervous for the opportunity. They will be home for a quick lunch and we're headed back to Latrobe for the first day of Step Up! It's hard to overstate how much we all enjoy our Fridays during the semester. Yes, the drive is long and yes, the day is longer but it is so much fun to gather with other homeschoolers on a college campus and learn new and exciting things. This semester we're leaning heavily on math and art...sounds good to me!

The end of Fall semester...stay tuned for the new photo!
Getting back to our usual routine will be just perfect because next week is Catholic Schools Week! Yes, I know, we're only an academy ;0) but we're most definitely Catholic so we will spend a good part of our week talking about, reading about, and living out all of the wonderful things that are a part of being a Catholic student (come to think of it, we should all be celebrating Catholic schools week...we're always learning more about our faith, yes?). Stay tuned...I'm sure it will be fun.

Today is a wonderful day to begin discussions on this, in fact, as St. Angela Merici  served as the inspiration of the Ursulines, the first teaching order of women. Perfect! (ahem)

St. Angela Merici, Pray for Us! We are blessed. 

ps - tomorrow's feast is St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of Catholic school children so, there you go. :0)

St. Thomas Aquinas, Pray for Us! 

Sunday, January 24, 2016


We were looking at some photos from the "Blizzard of 2010" and found some oldies but goodies. Sometimes it's nice to show kids where you/they came from. Heritage is so important.

The original "fifth of five" ;0)

#s 3, 4 & 5
5 with 4

In our "younger" days ;0)

Then, of course, I listened to #5 complain that he's not in any of the pictures. Yes, my friend, I feel your pain. Luckily he was "on the white couch" and believes that Heaven is preferable even to having baby pictures on Earth. Indeed.

We are blessed.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


We are all safe and warm in our house. I love it when snow storms come on the weekend!

Join us in praying for all those who are working or living outdoors today. May they find the safety and shelter they need. Let's also pray for anyone traveling today. Be safe out there!

We are blessed!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


I had an interesting conversation with someone the other day. I mentioned that I was a bit agitated with my Creator and asked, if He didn't plan to send any more kids, could He just hurry up with menopause already (it's not just an inconvenience...I'm pretty close to the woman in the Bible who hemorrhaged for 40 years). The person suggested I may be in for a crampy, uncomfortable week because of my outburst.

It was interesting to me, that God would punish me for crying out in my exhaustion and distress. I would have never thought to put that on Him and I was a bit confused; not sure if that person's faith tradition is still heavily in the Old Testament or I was just misunderstood. Perhaps they don't know me well enough to know that God and I can go round and round but I always have my "fiat" ready...along with my repentance.

This goes back many years to the time my dad was killed. He died Dec 19th, 1997, when an 18-wheeler drove over his car and broke every bone in his body (I read the coroners report). Clearly, there's no coming back from that one. My high school friend who was a fireman assured me that he was dead when they sawed his car open. I will have to take all of that as truth since I never saw my dad again...I couldn't quite bring myself to see him at the funeral home before they closed the casket. I carry visions like that forever and I knew it wasn't good for me.

Moving on...after skipping Christmas Mass that year I went to confession. (I was really heartbroken in so many ways. I was also struggling with the failure of my marriage and I was kind of done with everything)  It was a life-changing confession. The priest (who is abrupt on a good day) said, "you can be angry at God, He can take it; but you can never question His love or His plan for you." Wow. That changed everything about my faith and led me to where I am right now. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for that reconciliation at that time, with that priest, in that place.

This is a long way of saying, I think Pope Francis is right (I know, I'm slow to the party). I think it is all about MERCY. Society makes us all so stressed and ready to jump and condemn and that's not going to be our salvation...with God or with one another.

Today, specifically, I'm thinking about Adoration.

It is really, truly, the best time you will spend. Imagine! Jesus there before you, present in the Eucharist, seeing you and hearing your concerns. It's the closest we will ever come to sitting at the Last Supper. How could you not take advantage of that?

It is a blessing to have a few chapels nearby where I can go, with or without the kids, to worship the Lord present in the Eucharist. These chapels understand the importance of everyone coming to spend time with the Lord and do all they can to encourage people to attend. Yes, you can do that anytime you find a Catholic church, merely by drawing near the tabernacle. Still, there is something about the Host within the beauty of the monstrance. It's clear there is something extra special. As the kids would say, Jesus came out of His golden house for a visit.

Most Adoration chapels seem to come with some "rules" regarding behavior, dress, etc., and I applaud that. We are in a time that people seem to have forgotten (or have never been taught?) how to act in the Presence of the Eucharist (I saw three hosts drop during one Mass a few weeks back. Yes, they were all receiving by hand. Yes, you can drop it at any time but usually, by mouth, it has a better chance of getting where it belongs). Digression. There should be rules and they are there to help everyone have a better experience while reminding all involved why we are there in the first place.

Having seen a few of these "rules" posted, I get the distinct feeling that some may know a bit better why we are here...

From a local chapel :
Adoration is for everyone- all ages! God loves every soul that He created, and delights in you! In the silence of adoration, our hearts speak to the One Who created us, Who loves us beyond measure, and Who died and rose for us so that we could be with Him forever.

The Children’s Hour: Be sure and introduce children to this dynamic relationship with the Living God in Eucharistic Adoration! Teach them about Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and bring them into the chapel! Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs (Mt 19:14). While it is important to maintain silence in the chapel, it is quite reasonable to bring the little ones in for as long as their attention span will allow. No one expects little ones to be perfectly silent. There are children’s books on the book shelf. Teaching them about the Real Presence at a young age solidifies a life-long love of Jesus in the Eucharist. When they get older, if they have developed a relationship with their Eucharistic Lord, they will seek His Presence in difficult moments, and keep their Catholic Faith!

A little farther away, there is an Oratory where we can gather as a family on Monday morning for an hour of family-friendly Adoration. It's a beautiful space, made more beautiful by the smiles of those there who adore beside us, knowing the importance of teaching the truth to our children.

If you have Adoration near you that is family-friendly, here is a great resource for the kids...praying, loving and learning.

Yay! Hooray! They "get it"! I am overjoyed when we understand that God sent His Son for everyone.

Needless to say, not all Adoration chapels are as welcoming as these two. Some are pretty much the opposite, which is sad. When I approach a chapel, alone or with my kids, and there is a long list of "don't do this, don't do that" before I even get through the door, I'm heading the other way. I know those in charge have done so out of a belief that any distraction is insulting toward Jesus present in the Eucharist. Perhaps, but let's remember that these people have taken time out of their day to approach the monstrance with their cares, concern and love (you don't have to go to Adoration to be a practicing Catholic). Can we ascribe something nefarious to them if they choose to approach the monstrance in their spare time? I feel really sad that the chapels who lead with correction rather than mercy will always struggle. People who come to Adore are, more often than not, seeking relief. Jesus wants us to come to Him and seek His Mercy. Sometimes the person who acts the worst needs that Mercy the most (something about the well not needing a physician? I'm no Bible scholar). Shouldn't we be the first ones to welcome them with open arms and do all we can to help them find their relief?

In this week, specifically tomorrow, we need to beg His Mercy for the sin of abortion that has poisoned this nation for decades. Let's all pray and fast for an end to the scourge of our time. 


 We are blessed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"Look Mama, it's manna!"

Is it possible to watch too much EWTN? Naaahhh.

Which reminds me, if you get the chance, make sure you watch Skiff and AJ's fantastic voyage during this week when we celebrate the sad history of abortion in our country. It has a wonderful message and is great for the whole family.

We are blessed ;0)

Monday, January 18, 2016


I would say we're a long way from sustenance farming but I do like it when the kids can do something that helps them appreciate how easy it is to just walk into a store these days.

We're working our way through Betsy Ross during our winter "break" (we still do math and religion but the rest of the subjects are pretty well covered by using this book). 

Early in the story, they described the sourdough starter that Betsy's mother had that was passed down through generations prior. The discussion of "what to do before there was yeast in an envelope/jar" ensued and we learned how sourdough starters work with the yeast that is in the air around us. Yes, this screams for a science/home ec experiment ;0)

The "start" of the starter...

It's really cold in this house so it took a few extra days but we made sure to feed our starter every day (extra flour and warm water) and eventually, by day 8, it was ready to bake! Having gone through a week with "no bread" while waiting, we better appreciate how serious it would be to lose your starter!

I will say that it wouldn't win any awards in a baking competition but, hey, it was edible and it had bubbles!!! Success! The yeast were alive and burping away ;0) (watch Good Eats if you haven't, great way to learn food science).

Yeast evidence!!!
We will continue to nurture our starter along and see, by summer, if we can get some progressively better bread/pretzels/pizza. This is fun!

All thanks, of course, to God who created the universe in such a way that we can "capture" yeast to make bread out of the atmosphere. When I showed him the final product, DH said, "you made bread from nothing!!!" Not quite...only One person has been able to pull that off. Still, it's nice to know that the kids now see, first hand, what the pioneers dealt with and that, with some flour, water and time, they can produce sustenance for their family.

We are blessed!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Children, Indulgences and other major life issues.

Last night we went to the preschool/kindergarten meeting for our Catholic school. It was so wonderful to see some of the teachers/staff who were there from four years ago when our older two attended the school. It brought back all the wonderful memories of the teachers' dedication to educating faith-filled kids.

Just to be clear, it was never the teachers that drove us out. We left because, having been called for some time to homeschool, it was the proper moment and, to a lesser degree, because it was clear that a reasonable number of the parents often had different expectations than we.

Let's skip ahead, ok? Yesterday I felt strongly called to head down to Mass after picking the girls up from Little Flowers so that we could attend Mass today. When we arrived it was a nice plus that one of our favorite priests was presiding. When I heard the homily, it was clear why I had been called.

Today's first reading was 1 Sm 8:4-7, 10-22  and the Gospel was Mark 2:1-12. Father's homily addressed the first beautifully, saying that Israel wished to have a king "like everyone else" and when they said that, God told Samuel they were rejecting Him, not Samuel. Father went on to say that, if we are living correctly, we won't be like most everyone else (in society). He said, "if you live your faith, you'll be different...get comfortable."

The Gospel was about the paralytic who is brought to Jesus for healing by his four friends. Father pointed out that he was cured because of his friends' faith and that we need to also surround ourselves with like-minded friends. It is difficult, he said, to live in our society. We need friends, or groups, with whom we can connect to walk in our faith.

The Mass was lovely, as is anytime we get to share in Christ's sacrifice, and I couldn't imagine our good fortune when I heard "I'll be in the back for Confession after Mass". So, in addition to all the other graces, there is this...
To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every Cathedral or in the churches designated by the Diocesan Bishop, and in the four Papal Basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion. Likewise, I dispose that the Indulgence may be obtained in the Shrines in which the Door of Mercy is open and in the churches which traditionally are identified as Jubilee Churches. It is important that this moment be linked, first and foremost, to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world. - Pope Francis

In the car, on the way to Mass, we prayed the rosary and for the pope's intentions...

then we walked through the Holy Door at the Cathedral; went to Mass; finally Confession. I love it when a plan comes together (ahem...)

So, I digress (just as an example of how easy, peasy  it is to gain an Indulgence if you are so disposed).

It's not really a digression, though. As I sat and listened to the testimonials last night and as I spoke to some of the teachers that were new to me, I wondered how many of them would understand or even try to appreciate the life we have chosen. If I told this day's travels to them, would I get a look similar to the one that comes with "oh, you homeschool." I already know how it is having the discussion about someone's trip to Disney and ours to the EWTN studios (not yet, stay tuned!!!). Ours is not the only way to live according to God's laws and Jesus's teachings. I think it is one way, though, when we are strong enough to say "yes" to God's call. I do think, even with all of our failings, that we are on the right track.

I feel like the preschool discussion has become a bit more clear to me from our travels today. If nothing else, I know I have been given a strong confirmation of our choice to home school the older people. Father's message to "get comfortable" and "find like-minded people" has helped me to focus a bit more clearly (I have been feeling pushed, as opposed to called, lately and it's been a bit unsettling). We shall see what ultimately happens.

There is something else on my heart from what I heard last night but I'll save that for another time. If you would like, you may reread THIS as preparation. Until we meet again.

We are blessed!

Don't forget to pray for Opal ;0)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Simple blessings

Today was a quiet day but while reflecting over it this evening, I realized it was full of simple, everyday blessings. I am grateful that we are in our mid-winter slow-motion or I may have missed it!


Every Tuesday morning the older two serve daily Mass. Most weeks DH takes them since he's already up working and I get to sleep in with the little people. Today I decided to go. There is something lovely about a cold, snowy morning. You know God was having a moment of great inspiration when He thought about freezing water into unique, individual crystals. It was also good, as always, to see the dedicated parishioners who attend in all types of weather.

Saying Goodbye

Today, after sitting idle for almost six months, I returned our dear friend to the shop. 
Yes, after more than 5 years, the soothing tones are silent. It's been a rather emotional journey for a few months around here. I should say my emotional journey. Today I felt settled, though, when #1 asked for "one final goodbye" and petted it on the side like an old dog she had seen grow from puppyhood. She has no her, it is the right decision. I am learning to trust those decisions because she makes them very infrequently with this type of certainty. My feeling of calm came from the realization that, even if I don't, she understands the transient nature of "things" in this world. Her mature decision is helping me to understand that the way I see things isn't always the way things are. Pretty wise for a fifth-grader ;0)


There were a lot of squeals this morning when there was a dusting of the white stuff on the ground. After a few hours, when the blizzard began, there were all-out whoops (and how nice was God to wait until all the school work was done?). The cancellation of our trip North for Catechesis made it a no-brainer...outside we went to enjoy an hour of winter fun. Watching my kids in the snow is one of my favorite things. It makes them happy; it makes me remember days in the snow with my sibs; everyone sleeps well. Wins all around.

Favors returned

I found out a little while ago that this lovely day was likely the result of my dear friend offering her trials from far away. These are not any old mom trials...she has a three-year-old who recently broke her femur (yes, the thigh bone). I'm not including a picture because, even though she's smiling, it makes me hurt looking at the giant cast on her tiny body. 

When we found out about the accident, I knew immediately what I had to do. We were blessed to receive one for Christmas and it is, by far, the best gift we've had in a very long time...probably ever.
Biblezon tablet for kids
It's a Catholic tablet for kids that teaches/quizzes/shows them all sorts of lovely things about the faith (and it streams EWTN!). It's self-contained (can't browse the Internet) and runs from Wifi (no data plan!). Spectacular. 

Anyway, theirs came about three days early (because the Holy Spirit can put a rush on it when necessary) and it seems to be helping when things get a little difficult. I'm so grateful for that inspiration. It's good to know that we're helping in some small way, even when the distance is so great.

Please keep Opal in your prayers. I'm certain there will be some long days during the next many weeks but they are a God-centered family...perfect to help weather the storms that come (like a baby in a full cast...oh my, can you all say a rosary a day for them? that would be a good start!)


I'm actually most blessed by my friends. They take time out of their hectic lives to offer a trial for me or inquire about my day. Knowing that I'm doing the same on my end makes it a simple blessing that is so very important. Faith, knowledge, family, good friends. Wow, I am so blessed.

Stay warm,'s definitely a three-dog night (or in middle-child's case, a minion, Benjamin, Icy, cow, power babo night!)



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Blessed Epiphany....again!

It all began with Mary's yes to God

and now, 12 days after Christmas, we have arrived with the Wise Men to give witness to His birth and our Salvation.

Since we were partying on Sunday (and it wasn't really the "actual" day) we blessed our home this evening as a family. Quiet and calm, using the script we received from our parish the year we moved to this place (nearly 10 years now!).

May we all strive to spend this year doing more for others and doing all things, even the most tiny, for the love of the Father from Whom all graces flow. We are blessed.

St. Andre Bessette, Pray for Us

Happiness is...

See-through washing machines

and library day
We are blessed.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Our Gifts of Epiphany

Yesterday was the Feast of the Epiphany, the day the kings arrived to present Jesus with Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Around here, it was one of those celebrations where everyone gets a present. Our family was blessed enough to get three.

1. An amazing homily

We went to our regular Mass because the kids were singing and it is great for the little ones to see the big ones up front, giving their gifts of song to God. I was grateful we were sitting up front to more closely witness a fantastic homily about how reverence has been lost a great deal in the church (people used to dress up, not talk, come on time and stay the whole time) and how we should make sure we don't lose that reverence the kings had for Jesus. 

No words were recorded as spoken by the was that awe-inspiring an event. Each time we approach the altar we should be filled with that awe. Wonderful. (Tangent...I laughed today when I saw someone's Instagram talking about how happy she was with the reverence of the Mass she much that she took a picture during the Mass! Gah.) 

Good, challenging homilies can be a gift to everyone present. We all have room to grow in faith.

2. A rewarding routine

A little over a year ago, a lovely woman from our parish (mother of 5 grown children, I'm partial ;0)) began a Children's Rosary that meets each first Sunday of the month. During that 30 minutes, the families gather and the kids lead the rosary. It is a fantastic habit we've settled into and it is a huge blessing in our life. How grateful we are for this monthly opportunity!

 A Blessed Witness

We have developed a small group of religiously-grounded-like-minded friends. Our kids are of similar ages, they live nearby, and we are blessed to gather for different celebrations through the year.

Today, being Epiphany, we came together to play and share a meal and present the lovely story of the day, modeled on the play from Look to Him and be Radiant . Instead of wrapped boxes, the kids each placed one person or animal into the Nativity until the scene was complete. The perfect way to celebrate a day of giving in thanks for Our Savior.

Prior to the play, the hosts' Pastor arrived to bless the house then stayed for the production and fellowship after. I am hard pressed to think of a greater boost for vocations than having a member of the clergy or religious join you for "everyday life". The kids followed him through the house as he blessed it with holy water. It was a beautiful sight. 

Grateful for the blessings we received yesterday and always and for friends who help to guide us along the true path.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Pray for Us!

If I should have to advise parents, I should tell them to take great care about the people with whom their children associate…Much harm may result from bad company, and we are inclined by nature to follow what is worse than what is better. – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy Epiphany!

A king who would slaughter the innocents will not cut a deal for you...

Ahh, Sweet Baby James.

We are blessed!