Sunday, October 19, 2014

Where Are We?


top row: park outing after a full day of moving prep (i.e. refrigerator-finding), rainbow on the morning of moving day...God is faithful to His promises, moving vans parked and unloading.
2nd row: the girls with our sweet neighbor friend who had them both wrapped around her finger, kids with the friends in their sandbox, and Katie who was maybe ready to wake from a nap...or maybe not!
3rd row: evening bike ride, doing math on the floor (enjoying carpet again!), and the crazy HEB trip with all five kids on friday afternoon.

It is hard to believe we are actually here, in our old home, living back among our family and old friends, at our old parish, old homeschool group, old dance studio, hanging out with old neighbors.

A lot has changed in three years.  I feel like we are a different family now.  We have a new family member, our "baby" is now four years old, and the oldest two are no longer "little girls."  We are at a different point in our family life, and I know that the opportunity to spend three years away has stretched us and grown us in ways we have yet to understand.

But as it goes, I of course am still struggling with the same things.  I still have so much growing to do in so many areas of my life.  I knew that coming back "home" wouldn't solve my challenges, but I also knew that my heart had never left.  And so in that respect, I feel we are back where we are supposed to be.  Moving back into our old house feels natural, even in the way you reach for a light switch in the know exactly where it is because you are home.

This move has come with its own set of challenges.  The back and forth trips, hotel living, indecision about our housing, and ultimately moving to our old house has caused a lot of upheaval and stress in our family.  I've been struggling with the seemingly endless tasks relating to moving...address-changing, bills, utilities, unpacking, and the worries about our house selling.  There seems to be a new challenge each day with the upkeep of this house.  And I'm struggling to stay on top of the grading for the older ones and the school tasks for the younger ones. I really should have just taken a few weeks off of school, or planned an abbreviated schedule, but I just couldn't make myself do it!

Yesterday there was a fiasco with our gas company and we are without hot water for the weekend.  It is a very minor issue in the grand scheme, and it is a luxury to even have running water at all.  But my mama heart was already so overwhelmed that it just put me over the edge.  I had already dealt with my nice farewell gift from Corpus Christi (a red light camera citation), and spoke to a very unpleasant lady about a hospital bill from February.  I had taken all five kids to watch a history presentation and then to the grocery store.  So it was just too much for me, while attempting to bathe the baby last night, only to discover that our gas didn't get turned on after all!

But Saturday has been a healing day.  My parents came out and we all worked together in the house.  Almost all of the boxes inside are unpacked and I have a better handle on knowing what is still left in the garage.  I got some things up on the walls and did some more painting.  The guys did yard work and ran important errands.  My mom cleaned and folded about ten loads of laundry.  And the kids even helped!  The girls watched the baby, baked chocolate chip cookies, and organized the playroom.  The boys spent the evening cutting branches in the backyard and burning them in the fire pit.  Steven Joseph topped it off by smearing ashes all over his face and body while I was covered in paint, and the water was shut off so Steven could deal with a leaky faucet.  Oh the craziness!  But it feels like good craziness when I have other adults to share the load. 

My biggest lesson from Corpus Christi is the importance of HOME.  Today was my parents' parish festival, a local parish festival where many friends would be, Steven wanted to go out to our friends'  farm, and it was also the last night of a play where the girls'  friends would be performing.  And yet we just needed to be HOME.  This week there was an option of a field trip and a zoo visit that I turned down.  Saying NO to some of those appealing things can often help keep our family life in balance and can allow us to do those things that will help the days run smoother and allow our hearts to heal and grow together.  With five kids I just have to prioritize.  I hope this coming week brings more stability and peace for our family as we get into our routine, get our house fully unpacked and functional, and just take some time to enjoy the beautiful October weather with our family and friends!

Thanks for hanging around, and hopefully this blog will be showing some more house pictures and fun stuff in the coming months as we settle in, get our other house sold (St. Joseph, pray for us!), and maybe start a few fix-ups, as we also enjoy the beautiful parks and other fun activities here in our new/old HOME.  Have a great week, friends!

7 Quick Takes--Moving Madness

Hotel Homeschooling

We've now spent about four weeks in an extended stay hotel while homeschooling the kids, and while Steven is working long hours (sometimes back in Corpus Christi).  CRAZY.  I love hotels. I love our hometown here. I love my kids. I love being near our family again. But I am SO ready to be settled with a real home here again. The kids' behavior has been less than stellar. One day this week both boys had major meltdowns during two different times of the day when we were leaving the hotel. There was screaming, crying, and fits in the hotel lobby. I'm sure they will be glad to see us go!

House drama

I've been looking at houses since late spring, and we've been looking seriously at houses the past six weeks since we listed our home.  We looked at nearly 20 houses and our realtor was so very patient and accommodating, even meeting us for the last one we saw at nearly 9pm!  But our Corpus home still hasn't sold, and we didn't find anything
we really loved in our price range in the area where we most want to live. So it just made sense to move back into our old home here.  

The tenants in the house were able to secure a new rental in a few days and were out just a week later!  So now we are in the middle of a move and our belongings should be arriving here tomorrow.  I can still hardly believe it.  I'm praying that once we move and the house is cleared out and price lowered a bit, we will sell the other house quickly and will be able to focus on this home and our life here.

Moving back home

We are moving back into our very first house, the one we bought from our dear friends and the place we brought home both boys from the hospital and shared many family memories in the five years we lived there. Aside from my childhood home (where many of my vivid dreams still occur), this is the place where I've lived the longest! The home and the area hold so much sentimental value for us, along with the proximity to our family and many close friends. The location with easy access to the highway and all the wonderful perks of suburbia (shopping, parks, events, etc) is really the best for so many reasons.  

BUT there is one part that's going to be hard for me.  I was very spoiled with a large updated home in Corpus Christi.  There were only a couple things in the house that I even thought about changing.  Now, moving back into our old home (built in the 1970s) is a whole different situation.  There isn't one thing in the interior of the house that I don't want to change!  There are major issues that need repair like foundation, mold, roof, windows, and so many cosmetic issues too.  I am thrilled to be back in the area that is "home" to me, and I'm so grateful that we kept this house, but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with the amount of work ahead of us.


And so, one step at a time.  We've had the carpets professionally cleaned and have started repainting rooms.  When we moved into the house in January 2007, I was so excited to have our own house that I went wild with the paint.  When we left, there was a different crazy color in almost every room, including a burnt orange (unintentional...wanted tan but went by a paint chip), fluorescent yellow, lavender and baby blue (there when we moved in), muted green/blue, and even a deep dark blue color.  The tenants painted most of the main living areas white again, but it's a white with a mauve tint and doesn't fit with my style or furnishings. 

So I'm choosing new paint colors in hopes that painting the walls and trim will freshen things up a little bit!  We've had some sweet homeschooled teens doing the painting and I'm so grateful for that help! The boys go absolutely wild the second we walk in the door and there's no way I could be painting with them underfoot!

House blog?

I've never really wanted to be a fixer-upper person.  We're not very good at house repairs or updates.  But maybe this is what the next few years is going to look like for us, and maybe this blog will be changing a bit to reflect that.  I haven't had the time or mental capacity to write nice reflections like I did years ago, and maybe it would be fun for this blog to be something more than a family photo album.  I think I have varied readers from different places around the world (when I look at my stats a few times a year), and I know I love a good house-fixing story!  It's funny to me that posting a question about anything house related on Facebook brings friends out of the woodwork to comment. And I'm just the same way.  Making our homes a pretty place is something I think most women connect with. I'll start with sharing about the painting soon!

New routines

I'm longing for routine again that doesn't include a hotel television to occupy kids for hours each day. I will miss the free breakfasts I don't have to cook and I'll really miss the daily housekeeping! This hotel even offers free dinner Monday through Thursday nights. Just as when we left our rental cabin after Katie was born, I know I'll always hold a special place in my heart for this little place that was our home away from home for a few weeks...Homewood Suites! I definitely recommend it for larger families while traveling. Our room has a kitchenette, living area with pull-out sofa, and a separate bedroom (King or two Queen beds; we've had both). The two TVs have helped us survive! And we definitely enjoyed the pool and hot tub in September!

Okay, so back to routines. I'm loving our Mother of Divine Grace homeschool curriculum but it's definitely a new level of work and commitment. I think we will take a day (or a week) to regroup next week and then work on new routines in our new home. Our life will be a bit more complicated here with different activities and a long commute for Steven, but I am determined to keep focused on the simplicity we had in our Corpus life. I am getting so much better at saying NO these days!

Moving man

One thing I'm very thankful for tonight as I sit in a quiet hotel room is that Steven agreed to handle the move on his own. I made most of the phone calls and coordinated helpers to pack up a lot of the house a few weeks ago. But he's doing some rough work in directing packers and movers and saying goodbye to the house without us, except on FaceTime! It just didn't make sense for me to drive a second car with all five kids and all our luggage down there for a couple nights when we'd likely just be in the way. 

Maybe we will go back before the house sells, but I definitely hope to go back sometime in the next few months to say goodbye to our friends. It was a slow transition, but it still feels weird to not have said goodbye to our church and homeschool community there. I'm quite sure we will be making some summer road trips for beach and bay visits next year! 

And so, one more day of hotel life awaits before we are finally home again. Life is good!  Have a great weekend, friends! 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Every Thursday, at Like Mother, Like Daughter!


 At the farm...

At the First Friday park day...

Some farm pics by MC

We were all wearing blues and dressed nice for Sunday Mass when we arrived at the football-watching birthday party for Steven's sister.  So of course I wanted a photo shoot.  We got a couple decent ones, but most were like this... 

Some real iPhoto moments edited on Instagram the past few weeks...
Top row: powdered sugar mess on the first morning back home, Katie hanging in her laundry basket on the school table, standing by daddy after dinner and finding her first tooth had poked through, hotel bath in a laundry basket
2nd row: pulled up in her laundry basket, MC ballet selfie, tommy at the park, Chuy's family dinner
3rd row: after the Aggie loss holding her for naps all day, tommy on the city rug, aunt jills' birthday, and the houston skyline on the way home
4th row: katie's first pigtails, HEB instant winner tommy, paint shopping with all the kids, and katie at the indoor playground

Friday, October 03, 2014

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Katie Grace, 7 months old

A few pics of our sweet baby girl from the past couple weeks!  Some with her cute buddy Pio, exactly one month younger.  She cut her first tooth on Tuesday, and is putting up with all these back and forth road trips and hotel stays like a rockstar!  We all adore our Katie Grace!

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