Sunday, June 25, 2017

Our Wasted Weekend

Several years ago, Pope Francis said:
“When I hear the confession of a young married man or woman, and they refer to their son or daughter, I ask, ‘How many children do you have?’ and they tell me. Maybe they’re expecting another question after that, but I always ask, ‘And tell me, do you play with your children? Do you waste time with your children?'”
I'm with the kids most of the day but even then, I'm guilty of not wasting enough time...they amuse one another a good deal and I always have more to do. When dh comes home, he has things to do and I like to talk to him as well...not a huge amount left for the little ones.

So, weekends are the time we try to just be a family with limited outside interruption. This one was superb. Full of family time, celebrations, time with friends, and just ... nothing.

Saturday was #2's baptism day. This is a celebration in its own right, apart from a birthday. Like a birthday, however, it usually begins with Mass. Since it was Saturday, we got up a little bit earlier and went to our favorite local monastery. Also being the Solemnity of the birth of John the Baptist, it was a longer Mass (read: more for me to offer up since the bathrooms in the office don't open until 9 AM) but we all made it. After Mass we stood in line for 20 minutes to go to confession. I love that there are five of us that can receive the sacrament now! Next year at this time, God willing, it will be six!

Leaving church, we lit some candles then paused to witness the beauty of our hometown.
Baptism boy

1 month and 1 day...

little boy, big city
We took a family walk to the next town over's library for their last Slovak language class, then I had a power walk through the hills on the way home before returning to pick them up. We dropped off a paper and bulletin to a sick neighbor and went home for a birthday cookout. I even managed some baptism cupcakes. (yes they're sharks...and dinosaurs. lol)
Sunday was my very favorite day. The bright sun woke us up this morning and we had a wonderful, leisurely breakfast together (there is something to be said for attending later Mass). After breakfast, there was a great commotion in the hall...all the kids were excited about the God-rays breaking through our front door (welcome, Holy Spirit).

We went to church an hour early so we could attend faith sharing (free childcare!) which was about, ahem, the Holy of my favorite topics! Mass was beautiful, as always, and #2 did a great job serving at the altar...I think he's getting the hang of the whole "backwards" thing. Afterward, we spent time catching up with friends and serving others as part of the hospitality crew.

We headed home, changed our clothes, and took a drive that was delayed due to rain last week. A belated Happy Father's Day to my dad and his dad and my uncle (who played my dad after he was gone). I know it's probably odd to a lot of people but I remember being the little one of five sibs, chasing them through the headstones. There is something so consoling about watching our five do it now. Life continues. God is good.

All that work deserved a nice dinner at our favorite joint-down-the-hill, aka Drew's. Yum. Now they're all playing in the back yard with dh and I'm headed out to join them.

Blessings to you all for a wonderful week. Remember that time spent with family is always a good waste!

We are blessed.

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Retreat" week

This week was VBS. This year, because I'm taking a hiatus from driving (mostly), we stayed local and went to our home parish. Having a 5, 6, 8, 9 and 11-year-old, all attending, left me in an odd situation. I was alone for almost 3 hours every morning.

We started our week with Mass, just before VBS, so that we could attempt to get into good place to learn about God for the next 3 hours. The Gospel was MT 5:38-42,
Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand him your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go with him for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow."
Don't you love it when the Holy Spirit gives you homework before you even know the assignment? I appreciate that God is always pushing me to grow and connect with dh to lead our kids. Sometimes I'm kind of lazy about it though.

We are only friends with a few non-homeschooling families. It's not that we have anything deeply against them; it's just that sometimes it's easier to be with people who think like you do on the majority of things. One of these families has a girl the same age as our dd. When they are together with the families, all is wonderful. When she is among her school friends, we (not just dd; all of us) are invisible. How wonderful that God would speak to us prior to a particularly rude that we would have much to discuss at dinner about offering no resistance and turning your cheek. It is a difficult lesson to learn, about friends and what makes them so, but so important in today's society.

The second part just kind of makes me smile. I took a long walk while I was kid-less (my foot is very tender so jogging, even slowly, is not going to happen). On my last mile, as I was coming through town, I stopped to commend a young lady, about 8, who waited for the walk sign and crossed properly. As we walked on, she told me all about her schedule; swimming, visit dad, go home; and we discussed the topography of the area...what is best for walking, what for biking. Yes, we covered a lot in two blocks!

About 1/2 way through the first block, I realized she was going to talk a lot and I felt the strong urge to cut her off, say, "have a great day," and walk at a faster rate. Just about that time I had passed "the chain gang" (a terrible name dh and I have for the daycare kids that walk together on a always makes me really, really sad). Looking at those little ones and listening to this bigger one, it was pretty clear that the girl just wanted an adult to share this part of her day. So, for those two blocks, I did. Going one block with her instead of two was not a trial and perhaps it made her day a bit better.


I often wonder what stay-at-home-moms-with-most-of-their-kids-in-school do all day. I don't really know but this week is showing me what I would do...

positive - Pray the rosary, take long walks, listen to EWTN while I'm doing my work (I am a Benedictine at heart!)

negative - I would find all sorts of fantastic recipes and I would COOK. I know this because, after resigning my job in Philly and getting married, but before babies, that's what I did. DH and I also weighed even more than we do now! Not a long-term proposition but definitely fun for the week...homemade dessert that doesn't come from Grammy!

Sorry, I can't make that go straight. I think, by the end of the week, I will try this. A good excuse to clean the kitchen after and, who knows, if it works, it can be a good nutrition/science/math lesson for the fall!

 So, now it's Friday and I'm tired of this blog too ;0) Suffice it to say, there were really good things about this week (I went to they gym when it was pouring rain and ran two miles...alone! Yes, ran. I decided I was either being lazy or my foot was broken. Clearly it's the former) and some not so great (mostly really tired little people and all.this.rain). Ultimately, what I found is the reassurance that, again, we are choosing correctly for our family. We are responding to God's great gift of parenthood by doing our very best to raise our children to know and be centered in the faith. We don't lock them in the house (obviously...they were at vbs with brick-and-mortar but we do choose to educate them at home to avoid excessive influence from the outside. There is influence and it's not good. The day will come to send them out but that's a discussion for another time. For now, here are some pictures from the closing day...and our leg in the Global Rosary Relay for Priests that followed.

We are blessed.
#2 (goof) was reunited with his buddies from 4-year-old preschool. Why can guys do that so easily?

He didn't realize it wasn't Slovak dance and kept moving to the center of the stage. Cutie.

Music girl on the right. I was so happy she got to help out with the other big kids.

Not from the closing day but too cute not to share. Three homeschoolers in a row!
His Sacred Heart devotion (also a way to skip some of the rosary)

It was beautiful to see so many families show up with their kids. I definitely see the shift of participation taking a decidedly younger turn and, even in this time of uncertainty, it gives great hope.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

Sunday is a big day around here. Mostly sweet, a little sorrow. A good day to give thanks for the fathers in our lives and Our Father in Heaven.

The man who started it all (watch for those glasses later). They were spaced like us and now I totally understand a lot of the things he did. Still, it would be nice to have him around to ask advice sometimes. Since that's not possible, it's nice to have an extra helper in heaven. (I know you all recognize my clueless look ;0))

This was my father-in-law (and that sexy guy in the short shorts is dh! 😍) I also would have liked to bend the Sr. PJ's ear a bit. I have a feeling it would have made a few things more clear. Alas, he passed shortly after this picture and was the first to sing in heaven.

Of course, I'm also quite fond of the father who lives among us.
Fatherhood began here. He cried that night. I am so grateful for a husband who gets the gravity of the blessing.

Proud papa with his first-born son.

Slightly complicated #3. We were all grateful that God pulled everyone through.

New hospital, new girl. The doc refrained from the typical new-parent advice saying, "obviously this isn't your first time at the rodeo." No, indeed.

(glasses!) We were all so blessed by this big guy.
We're moving on in our marriage (next month, big #15) and there are days when I miss this.
It was a moment in time and it's a good memory but time marches on. If we're no longer in the "new father" stage, I am grateful that these little people have this man for the next phase...and the one after. Fatherhood begins at conception but it is a really, really long road (like forever here on Earth).

Let's take a moment to pray for all fathers; living, dead, and even the ones who wear the white collars. How blessed we are to have God's model here on earth.
Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Random stuff

Summer has officially begun with the end of online classes. Yippie! I have to confess, I felt some of that "oh no the kids are out of school!" stress that non-homeschool moms seem to face at this time of year. I realized it's because we don't thrive with no structure. There tends to be more arguing and more "I'm bored" which, really, doesn't work for me.

So, we are still in summer but now we have some things to concentrate on between the do-what-you-want stuff.  The kids who still have unfinished work in their books from last year are completing those. Math never ends...nor does religious instruction. Here are a few other things we've been up to...
Mom's current out the old texts

and putting in the new. I love new books! Full of opportunity :0)

Art. He loves those things. I think it counts for math as well ;0) not that I'm counting...cause it's summer

Slovak. Well, this must continue because the camp is currently going on. Good practice for #1 to work on her "teacher" skills as well. Let's just say she has my patience.

Online oboe lessons. Who knew? I love technology sometimes.

EWTN kids shows are a great way to calm down before dinner
Last night we actually had a family walk followed by parent time on the porch. Sometimes I love that we have old kids now!
The rain that has been around (due mostly to the Arts Festival...I think God really doesn't like that event) promises to be cleared out by this weekend. I'm not sure if that means we'll be ready to brave the pool (brrr.) but at least we'll be heading outside more...hooray! Free lunches start next week as well. Double hooray! (trying to be positive because my helper is on vacation for a month starting, I must run and get a pedicure while there is still time).

Have a wonderful day, wherever you are!

We are blessed.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Welcome Summer!

Our trip was moved up which made for some last-minute scrambling but we had a wonderful weekend...full of fun, family time.


Pennsylvania, that is. DH was our last-minute guy...he ended up with a presentation on Friday in the Greater Lehigh Valley so off we went on Thursday night, ending up in Bethlehem. I've never been there and I have to say, dragging five kids around with me, it wasn't the friendliest place I've visited. Still, there were some nice moments...

Moravians, Books, and Sculpture
While DH was in his meeting, we ended up walking through the historic part of town (the Moravians landed here in the early 1740's seeking religious freedom). Just down the street from the settlement is Moravian College, a present-day undergraduate institution which was started as a girls' school in 1742 by 16-year-old Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf.

Just across from the settlement was a sweet little library which housed, on the second floor, a newly rehabbed children's area...the perfect place for us to hang out while dad finished his meeting.

Outside the library, a short walk from the neat sculpture above, was a block from the wreckage of the Trade Center on 9/11. Read below for an just never know where you are going to find these cool bits of history/art.

Baseball, Bacon and a few Ghosts
After dropping DH back at the hotel to do his work, we went out into the beautiful day to explore two pretty cool places...first, a baseball stadium!
Coca Cola park is home to the Iron Pigs, a Phillies AAA team
Being the Iron Pigs, they are serious about all things porcine. In fact, the nickname for this place is Bacon City!

Not quite as large as the Louisville one ;0)
Moving on to the more serious side of things...we decided to check out the church in town. The name? Holy Ghost Catholic Church. Two days before Pentecost seemed a perfect time for a Holy Spirit mini-retreat and when do you ever hear Holy Ghost anymore? Old School!

Go figure, this is the only place all day that we were not only greeted warmly but also told to take our time and enjoy....ahem.
I love when they have all the Saints in Heaven. It is such a beautiful image.

still learning how to take pano but still a beautiful church

They had a lovely display set up on the Marian altar for Fatima's anniversary.

Perfect place to light a candle!
We did take our time and we did enjoy the quiet of God's house. I am so grateful when we are able to visit random churches during the day. I'm sure the time is coming when this may not be as simple to take for granted as it is right now.

After picking up DH and checking out of the hotel, there was time enough for one more stop and a bit of PA history. The site of Bethlehem Steel, once the second largest steel manufacturer in the US, has been rehabbed into a concert/arts venue. The backdrop of the concert venue is framed by the once majestic factory, still standing. It was great to show the kids what Pittsburgh looked like a few decades ago!
The Ghost of Bethlehem Steel

Saturday was a new day and a new city...up early because there was much to accomplish!

Malvern: Rain, Running and Nuns!

If you've been reading along, you know I enjoy a 5k now and then. Not to compete, although it's fun to see your time improve (or not in my case), but mostly to support a cause. I decided a while back that I would stick to Catholic causes when I chose to pay my entry fee. How blessed I was that this year that the entire clan joined me for the IHS Nun Run!
The night before the run we picked up our packets and the sisters gifted each of our girls with a pocket mirror. This is my kind of marketing!

Modeling the shirts...with Sister, brought for a good night's sleep
Saturday AM in the car waiting for the rain to stop before the race..movies are good to pass the time.

Ready to run!

The boys did well but the females in the crowd held their own :0)

So funny...the first steep hill.
What a wonderful run/jog/walk we had! Surrounded by statues of Saints, Jesus and Our Lady, even a rainy day passed quickly.
The funds went to Camilla Hall, home of the retired nuns. They were all out with signs and noisemakers when we went past. It was beautiful

So grateful to give our kids the opportunity to witness these wonderful women who have given their lives to the Church

C said she was dancing to the Sisters' beat...yes, I was walking off and on at this point. My fault...three days of "training" isn't quite enough - a runner I am not.

One of the sweet young sisters...luckily we didn't need her services ;0)

The signs were priceless. One said "Praise the Lord, you've finished two miles!"
When the older boys, the girls and I had finished, we turned back down the course to find our lost teammates. They weren't lost of course. When you have short legs, you can only walk/jog so fast. They did wonderfully...we picked them up, still moving along, at mile 3.
Alpha and Omega ;0)

The balloon made everything better

We all made it! And the sun came out!
It was a beautiful day, topped off with a visit to our very favorite (great) uncle.
We are blessed.