Monday, May 27, 2013

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Last night we had a great time at "Catholic Family Night" with the Columbus Clippers! It was the boys' first baseball game. The weather was gorgeous and even though the Clippers lost, we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Father - Son Campout 2013

Jon, Ray, and Adam attended their third annual homeschool father-son campout on Friday night. As always, they had a wonderful time!
Here they are, ready for take-off. Can you believe how much stuff they took for a one-night (less than 24 hour) trip? Jon will blame that on me... I kept suggesting they take more and more items "just in case."

The proud campers in front of their tent ---

The boys love having time and space for exploring nature. The stories I heard involved mud mountains, "real clay" mountains, crayfish, snakes!!!, snails, sticks..... and then I think I stopped listening. Ray told me he held three snakes (but they weren't poisonous) and that one bit him but it didn't hurt at all. (!!!!!)

One of the dads worked with the boys on knot-tying. The boys were excited to bring home a piece of rope that glows in the dark. (I wish he would have taught them to tie their shoes!)

When the campout was planned so late in May, we feared the weather could be really hot. But it was actually VERY cold! We pulled out sweatshirts, hats, gloves, and pants... and they were definitely cold out there!

Every year the boys and dads pray the Rosary around the campfire! Awesome, huh?

Jon went equipped with his griddle and his Kuerig! That man loves his breakfast!

I am so thankful that my guys have this opportunity each year. It's great for Jon to be with the other dads. I understand they played a lot of poker out there this year.

And, yes, it's really my FAVORITE night of the year! I love my guys fiercely, but a night all to myself is heavenly too! I enjoyed lunch with a friend, some shopping, SILENT time at home alone, and a few drinks with some friends in the evening. And of course I slept in too!

The campout was the perfect length of time, though. Just as I was really starting to miss them, they came home.... smelling yucky and bringing with them lots of laundry!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wrapping Up and Moving Up

This weekend the boys wrapped up their soccer season. Unfortunately, their undefeated streak was broken as they lost the last two games of the year. They had fun and played hard though.

The Flyers with Coach Sean

MaMaw even came to watch.
I let her borrow my "princess chair."

On Sunday evening we gathered with our Cub Scout Pack for an end-of-the-year picnic, awards ceremony, and graduation.

Ray was promoted from Wolf Cub to Bear Cub

Ray actually got to be the one to give Adam his neckerchief.
Adam was promoted from Tiger Cub to Wolf Cub.

We are so blessed to have the boys participate in such fun activities with really nice families. But we are very glad to have things wrapping up for the summer. We're ready for some downtime at the pool!

Pentecost Ponderings

This is a picture of the dome at the top of our church.
It's my favorite part of our church.
Happy Pentecost! I hope that you celebrated and experienced the Spirit's powerful presence in some way today.
We attended a beautiful Mass at our parish at noon. We had triumphal music featuring several brass instruments, inspired preaching from a new deacon, and even a Confirmation! The boys were really great in Mass. Ray loved receiving his 3rd Communion.
We've been discussing Pentecost and the Holy Spirit for the past several days. Ray set up our prayer table for this great celebration ---
I love how he lined those apostles up like bowling pins with Mary at the front!
I found the Sequence to be particularly moving at Mass today, especially the following lines --
Let Your radiance in us shine,
And our inmost being fill.
Bend the stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm the chill.

On the faithful who in You,
Trust with childlike piety,
Deign Your sevenfold gift to send.
I was deeply struck by the great and awesome power of the Holy Spirit. He is truly so much more powerful than my own stumbling efforts and resolutions. Yet I don't call upon His power nearly enough. It seems backward to be saying "Come Holy Spirit." I feel like the Spirit must be saying something like, "I'm right here. Just open your heart/mind/spirit you stubborn, independent girl."
I'm sure the Holy Spirit would say it so much more eloquently and lovingly of course. ;) And that's the point, really. He loves me better than I love myself. He can help me in ways I can't help myself. And this great, solemn Feast is a reminder of that. We hear of the awesome experience of the apostles. We're reminded of the origin and unity of our Catholic Church. And we're reminded that God sent the Spirit to US! He wants us to be open to receive the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, piety, counsel, fortitude, and awe..... EVERY DAY in EVERYTHING we do. They are gifts extended to us, yet so often left un-opened and un-used.
My other annual pondering on this great Feast is that we really should work to return this day to it's deserved level of solemnity and celebration. It's a HUGE and important day in our liturgical year. Although we said special prayers, attended Mass, and went out to lunch.... the rest of our day was filled with errands, chores, and a Cub Scout gathering. As I've said before... next year we'll do it up big! Really. Any ideas? How can we celebrate the Spirit together in ways that will evangelize our own as well as the world?
With renewed vigor and trust, I end this day with this beautiful prayer by St. Augustine ---
A Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe in me O Holy Spirit
that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit
that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit
that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit
to defend that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit
that I always may be holy.
St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ray's First Holy Communion

" I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever."
John 6:51

On Saturday evening we enjoyed a wonderful celebration of Ray's First Holy Communion! It's truly awesome to see how grown up he is and what reverence and joy he had as he finally was able to share fully in the Eucharist. We are very proud of him.

He looked so much like a mini-Jon in his spiffy suit!

Jon surprised me with a beautiful corsage! At the last minute I put a jacket on Adam. He loved it and wore it all evening. He called it his cape.

Posing with Mamaw before Mass
Ray was so serious about keeping his hands folded the whole time.

We luckily were assigned to sit in the front row!
We had a great view to see him receive Communion.
I was too emotional to care that his shirt was hanging out in the back.


Although it was a chilly and very overcast day, there were two points during the Mass -- just after the Consecration and after Communion -- when brilliant rays of sun shone through the big rose window behind the altar. It was a beautiful sign of the Holy Spirit's presence among us!

Posing for a picture with Fr. Schmit
After Mass we were thrilled to host a big houseful of family and friends for a grand celebration. Although I didn't get many pictures of our guests, we are so thankful that so many loved ones were able to join us. Jon's mom ended up not being up for the long trip down from Michigan and we were disappointed about that. However, two of his sisters and their families did come down and it was awesome to have them with us. My dad and Mary were here and were so helpful with setting things up and doing some last minute cleaning and preparation. My fantastic mom helped me plan and prepare the food. My sisters were great about getting the house opened up and the food set out.
The Menu:
Ham Slices
Roasted Potatoes
Macaroni and Cheese
Roasted Asparagus
Vegetable Tray
Pickles and Olives
Dinner Rolls
Fruit Salad
Strawberry Pretzel Jello Salad
Jello Jigglers
Cake and Ice Cream
I borrowed beautiful 3-gallon drink dispensers for water, lemonade, and iced tea.
Sorry.... no pictures of the food. I guess I was too busy enjoying the food and the company! I will say that it ended up being a delicious and easy meal.
I love this picture of Ray (and a friend) relaxing and enjoying the evening.
He ran in and changed into tennis shoes after Mass.
Several weeks ago Ray and I decided it would be neat to do our annual backyard May Crowning after his First Communion Mass. He had definite ideas about how he wanted to do it and it was so cute to see him lead the other children in prayer.
We had all of the children choose a flower and gather around our Mary garden.
Following Ray's directions, we said three Hail Mary's.... he stepped forward one stone for each prayer.

Ray crowned Mary and then we all sang one verse of "Immaculate Mary." Then all of the children took turns placing their flowers in the vases around the Mary statue.

Since it was Mother's Day weekend, we crowned our Mother in heaven and then gave flowers to each of our moms as well.

Ray received so many very special gifts for his First Communion. We are in awe of the generosity of our family and friends.
This special First Communion set came from Grandma Ryzenga.

A beautiful statue of Jesus from Ray's Godparents

My dad gave Ray the Rosary that belonged to HIS dad, who was also named Ray.
This is such a special treasure!
Nothing is sweeter than seeing these sweet children celebrating their faith together!

Our party favors, which Ray was thrilled to give our guests as they left.
Prayer at a Child's
First Communion
Lord Jesus Christ, in the Sacrament of
the Eucharist You left us the outstanding
manifestation of your limitless love for us.
Thank You for giving Ray the
opportunity to experience this love
in receiving the Sacrament for the first time.
May your Eucharistic presence keep him
        ever free from sin, fortified in faith,
pervaded by love for God and neighbor,
and fruitful in virtue, that he may
continue to receive You throughout life and
attain final union with You at death. Amen.