Monthly Archives: May 2011

Post Wedding Revelry

by Colleen

There is so much more I should be doing in my study hall right now other than a blog post.  But, I haven’t written in a while and couldn’t resist sharing this.  This is my bit of wedding nostalgia:

I loved the wedding, every minute of it.  From the rehearsal dinner to the end of the reception, it was beautiful and perfect.  But, my most favorite part of the whole Oklahoma trip was not the wedding ceremony or even the reception following (although I did end up catching the bouquet!).  My most favorite part was spending time with my older brothers and sisters after the reception, just talking and laughing out in the night air in a gazebo behind our hotel.

Being the seventh of nine children, I have always been considered one of the “little kids”, and that night was the first time that I did not feel “too little”.  I got to spend time with my older brothers and sisters and be considered, at least for that one night, part of the “older kids”.  This was an amazing experience for me, and like the dork I am, I loved it.  I went to bed that night feeling so very loved by all my family and loving them with a ferocity that surprised myself.  The poet in me knew that this was perfect fodder for a poem and so the following was created.    

Laughter in their eyes, green, brown, and hazel, all around me

It sparks against the soft, warm-taffy night air from mouths wide in smiles,

More precious to me than any of the brilliant stars that dot the skies.

The long, festive day is done, but the happiness, joy, excitement, lingers on,

Sweeter than the chocolate wedding cake that still lingers on my tongue.

The wedding finery has been laid to rest in heaps and piles on hotel room floors,

And white cotton shirts and jeans now relax upon relaxed figures.

As the night deepens, tongues loosen, and stories come pouring out,

faster than the amber liquid sliding lazily from glass bottles into mouths.

Words clamber happily over each other and fill the night with sound,

The best and brightest of all these sounds is the laughter,

Which spreads out from my brothers and sisters in pools of happiness,

In their eyes, green, brown, and hazel, there is laughter

And timidly, I join in, my own eyes alight and glowing in the knowledge of their love.

Red Dirt Wedding, Part Four

by Kate

At last we come to the finale of the exciting Red Dirt Wedding Series with the gorgeous reception. The dinner and dance portion of the evening were held at the historic turn of the century Harn Homestead.

This little farmstead was as close as you can get to Wisconsin in the heart of Oklahoma City within sight of the capital building.

Rob and Nicole appeared at the barn door balcony looking like the red dirt royalty they are.

Speaking of dirt, the little ringbearer who didn’t bear the rings had gotten plenty of sleep by this point, and led the other kids in aclassic farm wedding game consisting of digging, tossing, and pouring dirt upon themselves.

Olympia, his first cousin, thought this game was fantastic.

There was wine, there was sunlight.

There was whiskey, there was beer.

Heading inside the barn…

There was a red velvet stagecoach.

And a pretty darn impressive cake.

Let’s take one more look at that cake and the stagecoach. I do believe that is a surrey with the fringe on top.

Of course the rugged wooden beams were hung with tulle and strung with lights.

There were also mason jars of lemon drops on every table. Altogether lovely. Of course the loveliness of the bride outshone all else. Here is the fantastic back of her dress.

Outside the sun kept shining and kids were clambering up on an old wagon wheel.

Girls had flowers in their hair.

And a good game of horseshoes was going on.

A fine time was had by all.

Slowly the sun set.

The two stepping wound down, and then it was time for the happy couple to be on their way.

I didn’t photograph the end of the night, but it was beautiful. All the yellow rose petals had been gathered and were handed out to the guests, who made two lines at the door of the barn. Rob and Nicole headed into the farmhouse to change, and camerunning out into the deep dusk hand in hand. Rob was wearing a flannel shirt and Wranglers, and Nicole  had on the perfect honeymoon sundress and cowboy boots. They passed through the lines of cheering, laughing, crying friends and family in a whirl of yellow rose petals, and then they were through the barn and off in the big white truck to take on the world together.

Now in Wisconsin, this would have been when the real party kicked into high gear and raged on into the night. In fact, one of the most vivid stories at the reception was that of a Wisconsin couple from our ridgetop parish of St. Peter’s who have been married 50 years or so. They were able to attend the wedding in Oklahoma since they have a daughter in Dallas, and they told us that when they were married in Middle Ridge, they had 21 kegs of beer. 21! Every drop was gone by the end of the night, which I imagine was also the beginning of the morning. That is how we do it on the ridge. The reception is only partially about the glowing new couple and also very much about the rest of the community, from babies to couples married 50 years, who are ready to dance and drink the night away. In Oklahoma, when the bride and groom head off into the sunset all the guests do too. As soon as Rob carried Nicole off in that huge white pickup truck the music went off, the lights went down, the lemon drops got loaded up, and the kegs were wheeled away- to the slight consternation of the young Wisconsinites.

All is not lost, however, and kegs of beer beckon on the horizon. If you’ll recall, when Rob asked Nicole to marry him he was building a barn. Well, that barn is done now.

On June 25th my parents will be hosting a Barn Dance and Wisconsin reception for Rob and Nicole and all the folks who couldn’t make it to the Oklahoma shindig. There will be lots of music and cheese and my Mom’s fresh bread. The Slattery girls are baking and there will be babies and farmers and city folk and wine and beer, and a bonfire. You’re invited, of course- if you can’t make it to Wisconsin we promise we’ll keep you posted right here.

Love, Kate

In case you missed the rest of the series:

Our Red Dirt Royal Wedding

Red Dirt Wedding Part One

Red Dirt Wedding Part Two

Red Dirt Wedding Part Three

Red Dirt Wedding, Part Three

by Kate

The day of the wedding dawned bright and clear, and the cast of characters began to assemble in the back of the church.

Rob was smiling so hard I thought his face might split open, and actually physically radiating happiness. It was tangible.

His groomsmen looked pretty joyful as well.

Handsome group of men, right? They all wore yellow roses in their buttonholes. Yellow roses are Nicole’s favorite- if you’ll recall, Rob gave her a bouquet of them when he proposed.

There was a slight problem with the ring bearer. After an epic journey and a long rehearsal the day before, he was exhausted by the time the actual wedding rolled along.

He didn’t wake up till long after his duties had been performed by someone else. I’m actually not exactly sure how the rings got up there, but they did. Meanwhile the lovely Aurora, the first Slattery sister in law and mother of said ring bearer, showed up in a gorgeous blue outfit. I covet her scarf.

Let us take a closer look at the lovely baby Antonia Rose sleeping in her arms.

Please note Aurora’s spectacular shoes.

For the record, my shoes were pretty amazing as well- brown velvet with gold embroidery and amber inlaid- but there was no-one to take a close up. Casey’s mohawk was in fine form.

James was a server, meaning he was bearing a very large candle. I am not sure that he should be allowed to carry candles after his recent experience setting Mary’s hair on fire, but he looked like he was being extra responsible.

Colleen Rose was ready to play Pachellbel’s Canon in D on the piano and make everyone cry for the grand for the entrance.

And with that, let us move into the church where the bridegroom awaits…

At this point, let me ask you to forgive my firm decision not to muck around with photoshop and also the fact that, due to a squirming 13 month old, I did not by any means capture every moment of the beauty. The bridesmaids wore pink cocktail dresses and carried yellow roses.

They all looked gorgeous, of course.

Mary and our brother Gabe were both glowing with happiness.

My brother Patrick asked me to note that he looked particularly dashing and debonair.

Finally we had the Best Man and Maid of Honor

Followed by little Clare Slattey, niece and flower girl extraordinaire.

She did a lovely job laying yellow rose petals.

All was ready.

And in came the bride! Nicole was luminous in a tall column of fitted lace with an white flower in her hair and ethereal veil floating behind her in a long train. She carried a bouquet of blush roses.

Rob beamed and her sister cried (and I did not correct the red eye, sorry).

Nicole and her father did a lovely little do-si-do at the altar.

And the wedding began.

Shortly thereafter, I retreated to the airy foyer to wrangle my 13 month old Olympia, and we spent much of the rest of the ceremony on the outside looking in.

Luckily, we had lots of well dressed company including a pair of dashing young twins Olympia’s age.

And this little blossom of a baby.

And with that, I leave you breathlessly awaiting the fourth and final part of this series, coming soon- the Reception and the Dance! Till then, and thanks for coming along on the adventure,


Red Dirt Wedding, Part Two

by Mary

At 8:30, my now Sister-In-Law Nicole, picked me up from my hotel room where I was huddled on a bed flirting with sleep after a restless night of insomnia.
Wearing a robe that read “bridesmaid” on the back, I rode with Nicole to the church and started in on getting ready for the big day with Nicole and company.

Much to my relief, my bridesmaids dress that I had lost the night before manifested, and the very kind girlfriend of my brothers friend Nick, took mercy on my horsetail like hair that had been more than a little tangled from riding around Oklahoma City in the bed of Robert’s truck the previous night. Kelly brushed it out for me while I watched Nicole transform into a” Princess Kate, you totally just got outdid” bride.  The new Mrs. Slattery exuded an aura of calm radiance. She looked so gorgeous that I gave her the helpful suggestion for future financial gain. I said that when she and Rob are broke, she can pick up extra income by becoming a bridal magazine model.
Look!!! She is so calm that we have no work to do. I literally have my hands in my scapular-lined pockets!
Getting ready for the wedding was so organized that I was able to steal off to the church to have a visit with Jesus in my cheery yellow robe. As a veteran bridesmaid, I can compare and contrast bridal stories. After this last one, I shall put it in its very own category as a VERY non-Wisconsin wedding. Don’t worry, I won’t hold you hostage by pulling up a ton of bridesmaid tales. I will just pick one for a case example. I choose Kate’s to share with you all.
Wisconsin weddings usually mean crazy, disorganized, excited energy. And work. Lots and lots of work. Often times I end up doing the flowers for weddings as well as cooking and baking. Trust me, I never get the time to float off into the church to pray.
Pictures can piece a story together can’t they? Please enjoy viewing some of these pre wedding pics from Kate’s extravaganza. Here are a few of the gals getting the reception meal ready.

Chicken Pickin Bonding
We have heart!

At this point, I get even more excited about flowers than normal! Making pies and doing flowers SOLO are my kind of thing!
Ok, I give up now, or I will end up posting way to many pictures. The moral of this little post is I am honored and humored to stand as a bridesmaid. Weather I am wearing a yellow Beauty and the Beast dress on top of a silo, or chatting it up with my Maker alone in a quiet church in my yellow robe, I love the excitement and variety of each special day, and am grateful to have such fine friends and Sisters to share life and laughter with.

Mother’s Day Lullaby

by Kate

This mother’s day, I will put on pearls and a billowing ballgown. I will load my harp into the car and my husband will load me and the baby, and off we will go for my performance at a nursing home High Tea. The white haired elegant elderly women will tell me that I play like an angel and that my curly haired baby is beautiful. They will ask me when I learned to play the harp, and if this is my first baby. They always do.

The answer to these questions is complicated and intertwined.

I first fell in love with the harp when I was 18 and stumbled upon a woman playing a Celtic harp. I was entranced by the quality of the rippling music, and decided I wanted to learn to play the instrument. My parents told me that this was a great idea- and that I should buy one. With nine children on a Catholic journalist/organic farming salary, there was no way they could buy me one. This seemed reasonable to me, and with the first paycheck from my first job I bought a tiny three octave harp and a copy of “Teach Yourself to Play the Folk Harp.” I made various attempts to teach myself to play, but my world was full of siblings and senior year and heading off to college, and the harp became more of a unique decorating piece than anything else.

This changed, along with everything else in my life, when I was 21 years old and became pregnant. I was unmarried, had just left college, between jobs, between houses, completely adrift and at sea in the world. Just before I found out I was pregnant, I had been planning to move to Peru to do volunteer work in an orphanage there. Instead I was contemplating the end of my life as I knew it, and the beginning of the life of my child.

It took three months of praying and fighting and sobbing and writing for me to decide to give my baby up for adoption. As the eldest of nine, I knew that I could be a good mother. What I kept having to face was that I could not be a father. I felt that it was crucially important for my child to have a mother and a father who would love each other and help each other raise their children. The decision was agonizing, but continually resonated with me as the right choice.

I was living in a silent apartment with my Great Aunt in Chicago and had all the time in the world to face my present and my future. It was terrifying. I read endless books, walked the city streets, and slowly fell deeper and deeper in love with my unborn child. I also began to pour myself into learning to play the harp.  I felt that I had so little to give to this child who I loved more each day. Playing every day became my gift for the child and my hope for the future. Slowly, over the course of the months, my fingers stumbled less upon the strings and began to fly.

Brigid Maureen, my first child, was born on May 8th, 2001, a few days before Mother’s Day. The fruit trees were in bloom and the sky was blue and the world was beautiful. On Mother’s Day the adoptive parents came to mass at St. Peter’s on the ridge with my family, and after mass our home was full of roses for all the mothers.

In some ways for me the adoption process was like those big bouquets of roses. Deeply beautiful, vivid, full of thorns. There were hard days and hard years and an incredible depth of pain, but out of the suffering came such incredible beauty. I was broken and I learned a depth of compassion that I could not have learned in any other way. I learned what it really meant to love selflessly, and to put the welfare of another before my own.

Brigid’s adoptive parents, Chris and Michelle, are two of the most incredibly generous, loving, and self-giving people I have ever met. Their love for God, for each other and for their five children (Brigid is the eldest) is incandescent. I have learned so much from them.

I also did learn how to play the harp. While I was pregnant with Brigid, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep playing after I gave her up because it would be too sad. Instead, during the months and years that followed, playing the harp was often my greatest joy. These days, the ability to play means that I can help support our family. Last year on April 5th, I gave birth to my second daughter, Olympia Julianna. In the hospital, one of the first calls I received as I held my newborn baby was from a nursing home asking if I could play for them on Mother’s Day. I smiled and thought of Brigid, as I always do. I said yes.

I thought that learning to play the harp would be a gift for my child. In the end, it was a crucially important gift from her to me. Thank you, Brigid Maureen. Happy 10th birthday!

Love, Kate

More posts about adoption:


September in the Orchard

Adoption Interview Project 2011

A Different Place

Red Dirt Wedding Part One

by Kate

When we arrived in Oklahoma great gusts of wind were chasing billowing clouds across the sky. Nicole had feared a tornado would snatch her wedding away, but the sky was blue and the sun shining brightly. We had flown into Dallas and had a long hot drive ahead of us. Just after crossing the Oklahoma border we overtook Cale chugging up a hill with the old 4runner packed full of siblings.

That vehicle is a trooper. I crossed the eastern continental divide hundreds of times when I owned it, spun gravel up a dirt road leading to my mountain cabin every day and night. I’m glad he has taken it on. That is a southern vehicle at heart and never took to the cold harsh salty Pittsburgh winters. But I digress. Right now, I bet you are thinking that the only vehicle that you’d like to see is the famous Amish Special, the old 15 passenger van.

Yes, that’s it. Grandma’s right there in the front seat. Who could drive this beast over hill and dale, you ask? Why, my Uncle Roger. Who appears to have been taking sartorial tips from his Amish brethren, particularly regarding hats, glasses, and facial hair.

I will admit here that I rode the van back to the motel from the reception, and I found it to be an unexpectedly peaceful experience. There was a faint sweet scent of alfalfa, a deeper tone that may have at one time been a hint of a cow pie. A hushed silence. All in all it reminded me of a dairy barn early in the morning. Not a bad place to be at all. However, back to the beginning!

We arrived in time for the dress rehearsal. This gave us a chance to check out the church, which was modern but perhaps my favorite modern church architecture in a long time. There was a great foyer with high light arched beams.

And a dynamic statue just asking to be imitated by 95 percent of my siblings.

Pretty stained glass.

A lot of great art, but perhaps the most unique was a full size blackened crucifix. It turns out that the old church burned down, but the crucifix, though charred, remained. It was striking and beautiful.

The night ended with Rob’s white truck heading off into the twilight full of siblings and cousins. It was a beautiful thing.

At this point you may be wondering if there are pictures of the bride and groom featured in this series. Rest assured that there are many glorious pictures to come. Stay tuned for the rest of the series- the wedding! The roses! The Dress and all the dresses and the Jim Beam bottle in the barn at the dance.  Y’all come back soon.

The Ants Go Marching In


We’re back from the Great Oklahoma Wedding, and as promised I’m making my full report on the trip down and back in the 15-passenger van. We loaded up and started out at about 9:30 on Thursday morning, with all but one place unfilled in the van. I was plunked down in the middle of the very back seat in between my niece Claire and my other niece Adeline. At first they weren’t so bad, but as the trip progressed they soon became restless and made frequent trips back and forth to their mother’s seat. At some points I’d have my nephew Thaddeus and Claire by me, Adeline and Thaddeus, or all the three. Needless to say it wasn’t very comfortable back there for me when I was wedged in between three small, fidgety children.

Soon it came time to pop in a movie in the portable DVD player and get the kids to stay seated. I had been attempting to get my homework done all this time, and was so sick of trying to balance my book on my knees and write down ledgible and sensible answers that I finally gave up and tried to watch the movie. The choice of entertainment turned out to be Barbie Mermaidia. After a bit I just couldn’t take it anymore and turned back to my homework. Someone suggested singing. And so started an upbeat and greatly annoying “The Ants Go Marching In” song to end. I’ll forever hate that song.

After dropping off Peter with relatives in Missouri, we soon arrived in Kansas City, Kansas, where we stayed the night at our aunt and uncle’s house. The next day we got down to business and made it to Oklahoma City in the early afternoon in good time and without too many crying fits. Then followed our own personal Royal Wedding and after all the excitement was done, we started out again on Sunday morning, this time going all the way back home, no splitting the trip. We had to tackle those 14 hours in one Sunday. Whew. I didn’t think it was going to be that bad. The ride up had been almost nice most of the time. But the ride up was… different.

We had added two people to our caravan, brother Gabe and Colleen. Gabe started out in the back seat with Claire and Adeline, and I moved up a seat. But neither of the girls were happy with that. Both wanted to sit with their mom, knowing that Gabe wasn’t going to be easy on them. So early on, we had crying. Not a good sign. Drinks were spilled, bladders almost overflowed, and it seemed it would never end. The trip went on, and on, and on. Night came. People fell asleep, but not me. I don’t usually sleep in cars. Thankfully I was saved by Thaddeus, who was still wide awake and happy at midnight, and was at a dangerous level of cuteness. Showing me how he could “nap his fingers”, and that “akchuawy he’s kind of shy” shed a ray of light in the darkness of that van. At 1:00 A.M we finally made it home with our heads still on and the beautiful memories of a beautiful wedding. Bags were collected, and I walked into the house loving the look of home sweet home.