Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Festa!

We were without our fearless leader and two older boys this weekend +. They were in NJ helping Great Uncle Frank settle into his new room at the nursing home. It was an odd bit, me with two girls and a boy, but we made the best of it. First rule of single-motherhood? Never cook dinner if at all possible. How lucky we were with this festival-packed weekend.

Our Parish

I love our parish. We have been so blessed at the place we worshiped for a decade...the big, beautiful church on the hill. So many of the people there are truly the face of God to others. Their faith and dedication are wonderful examples of Church. Still, it's a big place full of people (the others in the pews) who don't seem to share or support our choice of lifestyle. They are responsible to God for their choices, as I am for mine, so this isn't about that. It's the simple fact that, despite the handful of wonderful people, it is a great place to visit often but it was never home.

We were introduced to the parish down the road on a few occasions but once we started to attend the Mass Ad Orientem, we discovered a way of faith and life that felt like coming home. As we became more regular at this Mass, we were able to meet more people and participate in more ministries. The continuing education for adults (after/before Mass with free child care!), the hospitality ministry (free goodies after Mass every week and time to chat and catch up with friends), service opportunities that are there and open to anyone who wishes to participate. It's been a wonderful experience. The fit seems right and I am grateful to find a place that, for now at least, we can raise our kids as we were raised.

How good is my luck (ahem) that SEAS parish festival would be this weekend...along with so many yummy homemade treats? We headed out Friday night, met up with some friends, and had a great evening before we were chased home by the rain.
There was also a car cruise that night...so cool :0)


The trophy!

Celebrating her Name Day (St. Clare)

Instant bingo winner

not too big for the train

or the smallest whip. ever.
Home to bed, full of fun and food, we got up early and did...well, I'm not quite sure, but we made it to Vigil Mass then headed out for Chinese with Grammy. I wish I had pictures...the little two had their first sushi...and liked it!

Santa Rocco

August is a pretty big month around here. Two name day feasts (Dominic and Clare), a bunch of amazing Saints to celebrate the rest of the month, the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven, #1s birthday, and the name day of our family patron! There are several churches who do a great celebration for St. Rocco. This year we repeated our journey from last year except without the rain (I wish #3 were there because the presider even snuck some English into the Mass!)

No rain meant we could, finally, participate in the procession! I love ethnic religious traditions and this was not a disappointment. The tradition carried on through so many generations in attendance. Beautiful.
First, pin your money to the cope...for prayers hoped for or already granted.
Then, we march!

I love going through the neighborhoods, bringing the Saints to the world around us!
 
Of course we had the sweet cookies again this year
Called Mostaccioli...more HERE
Of course we had to eat after marching so St. Raphael was kind enough to have their festival in conjunction with the Mass. Kielbasa, corn dogs, cookies; yum, yum, yum.  

I did actually cook on Monday night to celebrate the reunion of our family but, wow, how blessed we were to close out summer in the best possible ways...faith and festa? God is so good.

We are blessed.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

God's graces

I haven't been doing that great health-wise lately. Some aging, some other things. It tends to get me down some days. Yesterday, when I woke up and my left had was twitching (my mom has pretty severe non-Parkinson's palsy in her hands and head) I ran right past all the offering-up and straight toward the edge of despair. I know God's not giving us more kids because of the things to come (or the things that are already here) and I am very grateful for the lifting of that extra burden/blessing, but I fail most of the time when it comes to living out my cross in the health area.

Luckily, there was enough grace in my tank that, when dh and I were lying in bed talking about the day that was about to begin, I mentioned that I really wanted to go to Confession. It hadn't been a month (our usual rotation) but it's to the point now that I can feel the need for the comfort it brings...comfort that is wonderfully similar to but not exactly like the grace that flows from Mass.

Grateful for technology (at that moment if not others) I looked up local Confession times and we picked noon at a nearby church which we knew of but had never attended. We have met the pastor and I had hoped he would be there because he had wonderful advice once prior during the Sacrament at a conference I had attended.

We packed up and went, stopping for pretzels on the way (nice post-soul-washing-treat) and arrived with 20 minutes to pray during Adoration before the priest arrived. After about 15 min, kids were starting to get antsy (Mr. G still tends towards, "but Mom...nothing's happening!" during Adoration because, to him, it's much less entertaining than Mass). I was antsy myself since there were more people coming and added to our five (God is so good!) we were running out of time to get to our next appointment. So, I knelt down, looked at Jesus in the Eucharist and prayed, "if you could, perhaps the priest could come a few minutes early?" I heard the door and smiled. God is such a Loving Father. He often senses our desperation and helps (if it won't block some other thing that leads to our sanctification). That's what love is...knowing a child's need and fulfilling it; most especially when the result is His children drawing closer to Him in the Sacraments!

We all had a wonderful confession (I love that pastor. He doesn't really candy-coat anything but he is so full of mercy...it is truly Jesus working through him). Back in the car and up the hill to Mount Saint Mary's. A lovely young couple was being married by our very favorite Oratorian priest (I don't know, we may not have only one favorite). We were grateful to arrive just at Communion so we could sit in the back and witness the man and woman pledging to work with God in whatever He calls them to as man and wife. Beautiful.

Don't judge...we weren't guests ;0) We were there to see the groom's aunt, uncle and kids, who came from CT. This woman. Well, we "met" on a national Catholic mom's board about 10 years ago and she has been my assurance that, even when everyone else seems to be facing their time of falling off the narrow path, following that path is the only way to travel. She is also wonderful when I'm the one who happens to have lost my way. How good is our God to give us people, near and far, to walk with us and provide support on difficult days? That, and their family is such a joyful witness to living God's plan. They are amazing to me.

The kids had a crazy, wonderful kid-time...the day was beautiful and running around on the overlook reminded me how blessed we are to live in this city. Ahh, what a great respite from some of the daily challenges that grind me down.


God loves these two...the day could not have been more beautiful!




Saying goodbye to our friends (until the next Stockbridge trip), we headed back down the hill and a bit south to pick up Grammy. It was festival weekend at her parish and we decided to take her to Vigil Mass before heading out to food and fun. We saw the Pastor on the way in and he was generous enough to hand us a bunch of ride tickets for later...enough to ride our fill and gift others with the rest. Joyfully walking into Mass, we were treated to another surprise...
It was POLKA MASS!!!
I know, I'm not a huge fan either but it seemed appropriate. If you're a member of the Liturgy Police, take a breath. Half of our family was going to Mass again today and if you look at the English, we were singing beautiful hymns that generations past sang in their churches. No "roll out the barrel" here ;0) (I told you, I was full-up on grace at this point and that gives me more ability to put the condemnation aside. Judging? Yes, it wasn't the greatest way to celebrate Mass but, honestly, it happens once a year.)

As I mentioned, it was a good prep for dinner...the Polish Platter included halushki, pierogi, stuffed cabbage and kielbasa. Bought a beer for my beloved and myself and it was a wonderful meal shared with family. They needed some sustenance for the rides and games to come...
She had a slight panic attack, poor thing.

better...how can you not have fun with Grammy?



G was not doing pictures yesterday

Ahhh, young children gambling. Such a Catholic tradition ;0)
We ended the day, physically exhausted but spiritually and emotionally overflowing. What a wonderful day with friends, family, and Our Lord. Seeking Him first when planning your day will insure, even if it's not a day of fun and feasting, that you will be protected and walked with by Him who knows and loves you like no one else on Earth.

We are blessed.

Friday, August 4, 2017

I like it...

I like when we randomly (ahem) pick a weekday to attend Mass, then realize it's the Memorial of St. John Vianney, Patron of parish priests.

I like it when, at said Mass, we have three priests (one of whom "just dropped by"..ahem) and a Dominican brother in the sanctuary.

I like the fact that the school through whom #1 will be taking science this year has an online orientation with lots of good things like time management, avoiding plagiarism, and a list of "dos" and "don'ts" when selecting your profile picture.

I like making it home from the pool before the thunderstorm crashes in.

I like sitting snuggled with the little people watching The Great British Baking Show while the storm thunders all around us.

I like family dinners and Fridays that find us with nothing to do but be together and relax.

I like parish festivals...especially those with a decidedly ethnic bent.

I like many, many things. I am blessed by these good things and I am blessed by the many trials I face. Mostly I like that I have a loving Father Who delights in my turning towards Him in good times and bad. He loves me even when there is no one else in the world who has time to care. I like that...so much.

Count your blessings today. If they happen to be on the puny side, count your crosses...then ask God to carry you through them. He will never forsake you.

We are blessed.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

July

Ok, I can officially admit, now that school has restarted (for the most part), I don't do well with the no-schedule-do-what-you-want summer months. We did a lot but, man, it's all a blur. Here's my best shot at a recap.

The month started with America's Birthday! The 4th is always a lot of fun and this year it was packed...birthday party in the am (see below), friend party in the afternoon, and me...all alone...Adoring Jesus in the Eucharist while the fireworks boomed all around. It was a really amazing way to end the day but, you know, I don't take pics at Adoration so you'll have to just imagine :0)
Italian with big bro and the birthday girl :0)

4th of July party - trying to put on a frozen t shirt

and picking up marbles with your toes

fun, fun, fun

This eventually descended into all-out-water-balloon-war
That week, we celebrated birthdays of two ladies I love very much. My mom turned 81 and my sweet Blondie turned 7. There were joyful celebrations to mark both wonderful days that these gifts to us first appeared on Earth.
She requested smores as her "cake"
with great-auntie

birthday girls :0)
The weather was pretty stinky most of the month but we did get a bit of exercise here and there. The older 4 had running camp twice a week for two weeks and I got to run/walk/jog... a 5k every day while they were working out...double bonus!
I was really happy with how well they did...

even this one who would rather be reading

sprinter

long-distance :0)
We took a lovely break (from the rain, running and other craziness) to gather with friends and celebrate our birthday girls (7/9) and (8/22). There were ten adults and 20 kids. I love that I have pictures to show when someone says "but do homeschool kids have friends?" I also got to talk to a mom of many who has reached the end of her baby days. It is so good to find people with whom I can share the journey. It is certainly different at the end.

A few pictures snapped before everyone headed into the pool.






More running and more rain then camp came to an abrupt stop because of the other athletic event that the five kids have been practicing for every week for months. It went wonderfully and we even got to take advantage of the rides this year. Gotta love Kennywood!
Getting ready under the watchful eye of Our Lady

The whole crew!
He danced this year! Yay!
They had to bounce around in a crouch like that. Luckily 7-year-olds have good knees :0)




Nothing better after a long day of dancing...your own personal rainstorm.






This makes me laugh every single time...
The end of the month is always my favorite time. The vegetables are coming in (if not mine, then those from our local farm) and the sun and heat have begun to burn out the earlier rain (and my thirsty veggies :0(). The best part, though, is the St. Anne Novena at a neighboring parish. The priests (twin brothers) who preach the novena are wonderful and we've gotten to know them the past few years. The turnout is always spectacular and it's good to see familiar faces year after year.

This year we began school the morning of Day 7 so we made sure to take the pictures before Mass, always dedicating our year to Jesus through Mary (and this year, by extension, through St. Anne!). May God bless our efforts in year 6!



He was all about holding that sign this year. Cutie.
The end of the novena falls on the Feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne. That's a really big day around here since it's both our wedding anniversary and Blondie's baptism day. How kind of the people at St. Anne's to throw us a huge reception after the last Mass ;0) Good people, that.
Happy #14!

7 years in the Church family :0)

Seriously, though, it's been a really wonderful month, even when it was crazy-busy. I look forward to school because, as I began this post, we seem to work better with structure of some kind. I'm sure August will be push-and-pull with sun-vs-school but there are ways to do both. Homeschool is a blessing in so many ways.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, end-of-summer. May it be abundant in family time and God time.

We are blessed.