Saturday, April 30, 2016

The great house relocation of 2016

No, we're not relocating our house (I wish...does someone out there know how to move a 100+ year-old house from the city to three or four acres just outside the know, like walking distance from the trolley?)

We did, however, relocate/renovate some of the things and rooms of the house this Spring, starting with the main bathroom. Don't get me wrong, this giant spa tub was lovely when it came to bathing many little people at once...
Two kids AND a baby in a baby tub!
however, as the babies have grown into bigger kids, it was just a huge waste of space. So, we lined up our guys and went from this

So happy there will be no more head bumping on cast iron!

The diaper pail was also a casualty of the demolition...hooray!
to this...
The new, normal-sized tub...with a curtain...I LOVE it.

This was my floor choice and DH wanted lighter. When he returned to purchase the lighter floor color, this was all that was left. Ahem. ;0)

Gone the tub-in-the-middle-of-the-room-with-crazy-steps.
DH is a huge fan of "since you're here, could you..." so the guys turned our back "storage" room from the unheated, largely unusable "arctic"
I don't have a "before" so this is "during...they framed and insulated the wall (it was originally a porch) and installed a baseboard heater

To our new "big people office"
ignore the "portfolio mess"...I have Our Lady and our wedding photo and a door that closes!

My view! Crummy photo but yes, I can see the Presbyterian steeple and hear the St. Bernard bells. It is a heavenly spot.

The best part is my suite-mate ;0) It's so nice to have a space where we can both work
It is an on-going process (more on the kids' rooms at a later time) but so worthwhile. I am grateful for this sturdy old house and happy that we are able to modify it enough to continue our life here.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Today we celebrated the "last week of school" by attending daily Mass together. Tuesday is the day the two older kids always serve and this particular Tuesday is the feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

I'll spare you the entire story but suffice it to say that Our Lady under this name has been with me for a very long time. When I began the Catholic Mom's Group in 2008, it was this image that I chose for the group. After passing that torch on, I knew she would be the one to guide us as we entered the realm of home education for our kids.

From Fr. Lovasik, S.V.D

Our Lady of Good Counsel, I beg you to teach me true heavenly wisdom which was the source of every good deed you performed. Keep me humble that I may be able to receive your counsel. How often am I confused in the problems of life. How often I do not know where to turn. Advise me what to do. Give me your good counsel, so that following it humbly I may ever please God, find true happiness on this earth and eternal life in the world to come.

Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady of Good Counsel, I appeal to you for advice and guidance. Teach me to desire ardently all that is pleasing to God, to seek after it prudently, to accept it truthfully and to do it perfectly, for the praise and glory of God. I beg you to pray for me that by the light of the Holy Spirit and your direction, I may see my duty, and by God's grace and your help I may fulfill it. 

You can find the background of the painting HERE

I am so grateful for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In all honesty, I only briefly knew the background of Our Lady of Good Counsel and yet was always drawn to her. Praying over it, learning more about it, I can fully attest that the guidance was Divine. Let's see...Augustinian? Check. Prudence, Wisdom? Yes, please. Pope Leo XIII? Yes! (story for another time).

Our Lady is such a wonderful part of the life of a Catholic and I, along with DH, think it is right and good to ask her intersession to her Son for the grace, wisdom and prudence (see?) needed as we raise our children in the faith.

On this special feast of our co-patroness (along with St. John Bosco) we were blessed to hear a wonderful homily as well. Our parochial vicar spoke about the account in the Acts of the Apostles when Paul was stoned to death but brought back to life. Paul, he said, was reinvigorated by the presence of  the disciples around him...he was strengthened by his assurance that he was not isolated. Father spoke about living in society today and how, when speaking the truth (like God's word or even natural law), we can be persecuted and feel (or actually become) isolated. What a wonderful reminder to a homeschool family during a celebration of our Lady's prudence. Mary, let us not lose hope but bear all things and quietly ponder them in our hearts!

Since we don't wear them much outside of nationwide trips (so lost children may be more easily identified) today was a good day to break out our Academy shirts (complete with Our Lady of Good Counsel ;0) ). When we are clothed in this manner, something usually comes up...positive or negative...but we rarely just fade into the background. We call attention to ourselves and our faith. When I put it on this morning, I felt as close as I could to a priest donning his clerics. You can't deny your devotion or motivation.

Is this prideful? I don't know. I don't think so. If someone asks, I usually reply that Our Lady is my constant companion as I face my days of motherhood and the quote on the back from St. John Bosco is something we hope to instill through our home education...knowledge and morals. Thinking of myself even twenty years ago, I know it is only the Holy Spirit who could have gotten me to this place. God pierced my heart so that I might open my mind to Him. How blessed I have been by all the joys and trials since!

So after that rambling diatribe, a few shots of the (almost...Thursday is the actual last day) new graduates. I smiled when #3 said "I can't wait for second grade!" How blessed we are by the guidance of our Lady and her example of obedience to the Father. How grateful I am to be an instrument in His call to our children. How much I pray that the Blessed Mother, St. John Bosco and all the Holy Men and Women will beseech God on our behalf to aid us in our struggle against the isolation as we resist the lure of current societal teaching.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid - John 14

Even the principal was there! lol

It stopped raining after Mass so we even had an outdoor shot.
Giving thanks to Him from whom all blessings flow. How grateful we are to have this time to share with our children and witness the miracle that is human growth and learning. Happy Summer!

We are blessed.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Birthday Blessings

We are lucky enough to have two little boys who share April as a birthday month. Being only 14 days (and 4 years) apart from my sister's birthday, I know it can be annoying to always share the big day but nice, sometimes, to join together as a family to celebrate another member's entry into the group :0) This month, we decided to have a "family night" to celebrate our April boys.

We found a lovely hotel not far from here (and very close to DH's office) that, for us, is a special gift. Four beds in a two room suite means the kids get to "sleepover" with whichever sibling(s) they choose. Better than a slumber party because you actually get a bed! The flat screen tvs are also equipped with Nickelodeon (we didn't watch because I guess they only show Sponge Bob now?), Disney (hooray for Paw Patrol!) and Food Network (Chopped is a big favorite, as is almost every other show). We also had the Peanuts Movie on hand for a special treat.

I know that one day our kids will want to go off with their friends and do their own things. For now, I like that they still enjoy being with their family (another benefit of a big family...a party wherever you go!). It makes me smile to see them together, laughing and playing, and reminds me of all the good things I cherish as the last of five kids.

a little cute!

The last year for "4" (sniff) and a makeshift "9"

The other people in the dining room joined in :0)

The blue glove in the back belongs to "Miss Mary" the lovely woman who attends to the nightly hotel dinner...another bonus - free dinner and breakfast the next day (hooray for me!)

He loved the "grass"


Back to the room for Peanuts!

An extended family party tonight with grammy and auntie and then we can close the book on birthdays this month! End of school next week and then the work (portfolio) begins. I will be praying for lots of rain so I have nothing else to do (sorry in advance).

Happy birthday to my bookend boys. How blessed we were to have you and how grateful we are to help in your journey.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

More randomness

We are in end-of-school-birthday-crazy-and-quiet-all-at-once mode so a jumble of happenings will have to do.


It is Summer, right? Sunday was 78 and Monday was over 80! The kids are in shorts and if it weren't for the school bus I just heard...well, I would put it at mid-June somewhere. Whatever, after the up and down cold/warm nonsense we've been suffering through, I'll take it. The true sign of Summer, of course, is when the "summer toys" come down from over the garage.

greatest summer toy ever...on it's 10th year!

Being a city person

I grew up on an acre of land, an hour outside of the metropolis of Pittsburgh. We got our milk from a dairy and we had a chicken coop (not a little one...a brick least until the rooster attacked me and we had a lot of chicken soup. bad memory). On my 13th birthday, I helped my dad gut a dear that my brother had just shot. I have always, at heart, considered myself a country girl. 

I guess the 20+ years of city have taken their toll, however. I take my kids on the trolley instead of trail rides and we go to farmer's markets to get our produce instead of growing them in our football field-sized garden. So it was nice, yesterday, to see that a mama bird had again chosen our extra flower pot as her nest. DH was even feeling a bit "countrified" to realize we had 3 baby birds growing up just outside the basement door. 

The little fluff on the right side is the nest

She hid them well. They are under the thatching where there is a black spot at the top left. DH was a little shocked when he lifted it up and peeked in...three babies!
The feeling didn't last long when I read my friend's blog. They have been dealing with raccoons in their attic for several days which has led to various types of traps. Their very countrified son took one of the traps and tried to catch a squirrel but instead ended up with this...

Ug. I don't even like it on my makes me queasy. Yes, I have become city through and through. I kind of expect that there will be mice and even a rat or two prowling around here but if I ran into this guy walking around one night, I think I might scream. I have become my husband.

Moving backward and forward

Today was the delayed (due to illness) but much-anticipated G and Mom Day Out. We were supposed to go to the museum but it was too nice to be inside so we walked to the park and grabbed lunch at the diner nearby. 

when he's alone he talks...a lot
It was an odd feeling, walking hand-in-hand with my child and not needing to have my eyes on four other kids. I was magically transported back in time to 2006ish, when it was just me and #1...hanging out, lunching and moving through our day.

While it was a nostalgic moment, I was also keenly aware that we are, finally, moving forward. On Sunday he declared (then dressed himself so no one would say otherwise) that he would wear underwear. He has every day since and, although there are one or two accidents each day, I think it's better than anyone had expected. 

This is completely new ground, having been dealing with diapers for the last decade and, while bitter-sweet, it is very welcome. I bought a huge new purse and I look forward to a day soon when it's only filled with my books to read when everyone else is occupied. (Babies are a blessing and wonderful but they are so exhausting...I'm beginning to see the blessing that we have passed though "the tunnel" and can see the light at the other side). 

Much more fun to come this week but you'll have to wait because I have to deal with the end of today first. I hope you're more awake than I am at the moment and I hope, wherever you are, that your weather is a beautiful as it is here.

We are blessed.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Tick, tick, tick...

Do you hear that? It's the sound of school ending. Full disclosure: it was supposed to end in two weeks but I'm sensing we'll need some "days off" for this amazing weather so, three weeks it is. We'll miss ending on our patron's feast on April 26th but instead finish in the month devoted to Our Lady so, close enough.

Yesterday was the last day of Step Up at St. Vincent. What a fantastic program that is; time with other kids their age, good subjects to learn (hooray for PA History this year!) and experience on a college campus. My time alone with little man each week is one of my favorite things. 

This was a special Friday. On the way out of town we stopped to pray a rosary at Planned Parenthood and, while there, were blessed to meet Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life. It was so good for the kids to meet a priest who is that deeply committed to life issues. There are several we run into at the vigil each year but you can never go wrong meeting another!

Then it was East for classes.  Lunch first, though, which was nutrition class (a demonstration of healthy vs. less healthy choices and agreement that, once in a while, the less healthy are perfectly acceptable) and PA History. Yes, we went to the Big Mac museum! So exciting :0) Marketing, foreign language and geography (the walls are covered with McDonald's ads from all across the world, art (the happy meal toy retrospective), music (can you sing the jingle?) and a pretty cool Big Mac. (don't judge...I'm sure the kids in school have their "light" days as well, lol)

It all began in would think it would be my favorite sandwich

Nutrition lesson...sometimes a whole meal in a sandwich isn't the best choice.

Told you it was cool!
 Onto St. Vincent...a ballet recital, snack and Mass, then farewell until Fall.

She is a ballerina, no doubt

If you feed him a snack, he is quiet through, win

We love you, St. Vincent!

We are blessed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Baby Boy

I have about three hundred things to do right now but today is a party day around here...our baby turns FOUR!!! 

It's kind of crazy to me. This morning, DH said, "It doesn't really seem that long, does it?". I don't know. It's a first for us. Usually there was a new baby within two years so the threes and fours got lost. How blessed we have been to have this guy be the one with whom we spend extra time. It's been a lot of fun. He is wise beyond his years and cracks us up on a regular basis. Like all good later-borns, he looks much smarter because he has so many opinions from which to choose. How blessed he is to be following all of these big personalities.

Our April boys...connected forever
He is blessed to have such wonderful godparents. not worthy of all of these amazing blessings.
I think being dragged along helps you have a more easy-going personality. Seems to have worked for him.
He is our intrepid traveler...always ready for the next adventure.

He will learn his faith, whether he likes it or not ;0)

He is, above all, a typical little boy. For that I am so grateful.
Today was a great day for a little boy. He put on his party hat at breakfast and didn't abandon it (it broke from his head being closer to adult size than kid size) until after lunch. Party at Mom's Day Out, lunch with great auntie at Armstrongs, home to watch some Gumby, then the best ever evening with Dad.
Gifts from sisters were delivered early

Not quite awake

Cards with breakfast

Brother is studying Matisse...he tells me it's a boy blowing out a birthday cake

Lunchtime (I told you about the hat)

His "gift" - two rooms of bubble wrap

Outfitted with his new shirt from Aunt Syl and ready to head out with Dad...Let's go Bucs!
Unexpected and unbelievable. We are so blessed by you. Happy birthday, Mr. G!