Out of the 9 kids in this accident, one of them could not swim.

Miraculously Mig landed in the water within arms reach of a life jacket.

Last Friday we started our reunion with a group prayer.

We were thankful for the opportunity to get together and we asked for our time together to be blessed.

I didn't write in detail about the capsizing of our 10 foot diving dock because I was still in a bit of a shock.

It was not a nothing.

It was in fact, a terrifying event.

All my friends had gone to the store and they decided to leave me so I could relax.

I was so happy to see all the kids bonding. 

It was the first time for many of them to meet. 

When I saw all of them sitting up on the top level of the dock, I didn't worry because in the two years that we had this thing, it had carried that weight before without any problem.

I took their photo and reveled in their camaraderie.

When it started tipping over, the kids scrambled to balance the weight out.

When it didn't correct, I watched in horror as the kids fell, jumped and attempted to clear the falling structure.

Everyone landed on the one side of it except Jeremiah.

He tried to avoid landing on people in the water by going over on the other side.

His decision to protect others cost him dearly.

Despite the chaos, Cole and Miguel C, quickly realized J was hurt and they were able to get him to shore. 

Mig and Haley were able to stop the bleeding with pressure and they went with me to take Jeremiah to the nearest Hospital 17 miles away.

This accident could have had a fatal injury. 

As I am writing this, I am in awe of J's spirit.

Maybe in an effort to show everyone he was okay despite 7 stitches on his chin, he still went slacklining when he got back from the ER.

Before we parted ways yesterday, we gathered to say a prayer of thanksgiving.

I am profoundly thankful for what I have come to realize as a gift. 

As the summer progresses we are scheduled to host several reunions in our property (with young kids too)

I look at this event as a reminder to stay on top of safety.

I should not be in shock when time and time again God has shown his presence in my life. (Emmanuel: God is with us)

This weekend was no exception.


Under Construction

Just like my home is under some minor repairs, so is my mental state. 
It hasn't yet reached an alarming point. 
I am just taking note so I know to be proactive instead of having to dig myself out of a hole.
While I want to blame my mental state on the work being done here, blah blah blah workers in my exercise and prayer space--I know it is also due to changes in our family's life.
Kika moved out to a house with three other roommates and even if she is not far from us, I miss her so much.
We all miss her.
Gabi likes hanging out in her house.
So we are getting a taste of what empty nesting is all about.


A Visit From An Old Friend

A few days ago Steve noticed a cat on our porch.
The cat would leave as soon as it saw someone but would return once the porch was empty.
Then Kika came home one night at and gave it water and food and so it was no longer afraid of us.
He came right up to us and sat on our laps when we sat out in the porch. (it was unseasonably warm this week)
The cat wanted to come inside our house.
But we didn't let it in because of our dog, rabbit, gerbil and also because we wanted the cat to be able to go back to its home.
The cat didn't have a collar,  but he certainly did not act like a stray.
When the girls asked if we could keep the him if we could not find the owners, Steve was adamant.
He said, "I'm not a cat person" and Kika is allergic. (which she is.)
However, for some strange reason, despite Kika's cuddling with this cat, it was not making her eyes swell up.
Anyhow, we set out to find the owners.
I posted pictures on Facebook and on the local neighborhood website.
Then Kika and I took the cat to the vet to have him scanned for an identification microchip.
The cat did have a chip but when the vet called the chip company, the phone number attached to the chip was disconnected.
But the company said that the chip was bought and implanted by the Animal Rescue League in 2002.
We were so surprised to find out that he was over 16 years old.
And, the date it was implanted was December 3rd, which happens to be my birthday.
I called the ARL and gave them the microchip number but they too came up with a dead end for the owner.
I sent them photos of the cat and all of my information.
Meanwhile, the ARL told me to bring the cat in and they would find it a new home.
The prospect of taking a 16+ year old cat to the animal shelter did not appeal to us.
Steve suddenly had a mysterious change of heart.
Somehow this cat nuzzled his way into our life.
We decided that the only way he was leaving us was if we found his owners.
We bought supplies "cat people" buy.
We got a collar and a tag with his new name "Wendell" and my cell phone number listed on the other side.
We loved him for an entire day.
Until the Animal Rescue League called me back telling me that they found Wendell's owner.
Wendell's real name is Ben.
Ben was reunited with his owners today, February 23rd.
I found out that Ben walked two miles and crossed an extremely busy main road to meet me and my family.
February 23rd is the birthday of my best friend Elaine.
Elaine died in a car accident and was an avid cat lover.
She had a cat named Tabby that looked exactly like Ben.
February 23rd is also significant because after Elaine died, it is the date I found out that I was pregnant with Kika even if I thought I could not have children.
This cat was microchipped on my birthday so that in case he was ever lost he would be found.
This cat was found by his owners on Elaine's birthday so that just in case I ever doubted, I would be strengthened.



The Heart Ball 2018

Unbeknownst to me, I had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction.
The sticky bra that I was wearing, fell a few inches below what they were supposed to be supporting. So in some of these photos, I ended up having a weird growth protruding in my front.
I only realized it after I went to the bathroom.
When I returned to Steve I told him that my extra boobs fell down my rib cage.
He said, "oh I noticed that earlier!"
I said to him, "And you didn't you think to tell me!?!?"
"Here I was sashaying around feeling like a million bucks and I was walking around with four breasts!"
He said: "I didn't know what was going on." (Shrugs)
You can see this clearly in some of the photos.
Thank goodness the design on my dress camouflaged this a little bit.
Side story: the young man I took a photo with is Brian Burley.
He was one of my students.
I knew him from when he was in second grade to when he was in fifth grade!
He is now an author and a leader in Pittsburgh. So proud.
And an even prouder moment was when the honoree of the American Heart Association's was Filipino doctor, Dr. Flordeliza Villanueva.
When I was listening to her credentials and all her accomplishments, I was bursting with pride like I gave birth to her.
But her parents were there. 90 and 91-year-old cuties.
They set aside the walker and took to the dance floor to celebrate their legit pride.


Happy Valentine's Day and First Day of Lent

In a surprise turn of events, Kika actually invited Steve and me to attend mass for Ash Wednesday. 
So Steve, Kika and I went. (Gabi is in Jamaica on a Mission trip with her school.)
After mass--Steve and I met up with our friends at Cappy's, a bar near our house.
Before we left though, Steve wiped his ashes off. 
He is shy like that. 
I on the other hand, actually fixed my ashes so it would be a nicely symmetrical cross on my forehead. 
Someone actually commented on how perfect it was.
Sheepishly, I admitted that I retouched it.


A Prayer for 2018

May God make your year a happy one! 
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain, 
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes; 
Not by making your path easy, 
But by making you sturdy to travel any path; 
Not by taking hardships from you, 
But by taking fear from your heart; 
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine, 
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows. 
~ Anonymous 


Shadyside 5K 2017

Steve is bow hunting this weekend but surprised me by driving 90 miles just to watch me run. I was in the middle of taking a lotus meditation  photo before leaving for the race when he arrived. This is how the moment of his surprise was captured.