Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Two Weeks!

Wow! It's been two weeks since I've blogged. That hardly ever happens, but here are some reasons why...

Copper the Dog
We tried so hard to accommodate that sweet dog and I was spending about half of my day walking him around the backyard, cleaning up his messes, and stressing over getting home from outings in time to care for him. It was an incredible amount of work for all of us. He was a sweet and happy dog, but he just had so many issues we didn't know about.

What we learned were a few things: 1. You can never fully know the background of a rescue dog, and there is a very high likelihood that even with an adult dog you'll have to deal with things like house-training issues, crating issues, chewing, barking, escaping, and in our situation carsickness along with all of those other issues. 2. You need to ask VERY specific questions to the foster family.  You might not be able to count on what they say about his habits in their home, especially because the dog might behave differently with your family. 3. Having a high-maintenance adult dog requiring extensive training from old habits might not be the best idea for a big family with a baby.  4. It might be best to have a trial period before officially adopting a dog. Some of his behaviors surfaced right away (puking in the car) while others didn't surface for a few days (peeing around the house), but we might have saved ourselves such an emotional decision had we waited a few days and realized that he wasn't the right fit for our family.

All that to say, we sadly had to return Copper back to the foster home after two weeks.  It was an agonizing and tear-filled decision.  We are considering some other options now.  We miss his happy presence here though, and I'm sad I didn't have the ability to make it work.

House Sale
Our Corpus Christi home is under contract, and we are hoping and praying that we will close by the end of the month. Inspections went well and now we're just looking forward to the day we can close the door of that phase of our life and move forward with our life here, and maybe begin some renovations on this home in this coming year.

I also spent a night or two putting together a video to apply for some HGTV shows! No response yet, though, and Steven reminded me after it was done that they are mostly looking for outgoing families and I should've focused on our personalities rather than listing the things that need fixing around our home. Oh well, maybe I'll apply again with a lip sync or crazy song!

Christmas Cards
A few nights of possible blogging time were spent creating our Christmas cards and then addressing them.  I love this Christmas tradition, and we look forward to getting the mail every day to see new cards arriving! Now that we have moved three times in the past three years, I know people are having a hard time keeping track of us, but hopefully we will still receive greetings and photos from our friends and family.  We ended up using two photos of the entire family, so here's the one I like of the kids...

Christmas Shopping
What did I do before Amazon? Having Amazon Prime allows me to wait until 10 days before Christmas to order everything and to do it from a quiet chair in my dark home, instead of a bright and crazy store with a fussy baby! Last year we had some shipping issues, but I'm hoping I ordered early enough for all the items to arrive in time. I have ordered almost all the gifts in the last 24 hours, but we still have a few things to buy at a real brick and mortar store. I sure do love the Amazon option though. So very convenient. And now in the middle of typing this post I just spent several hours working on photo gifts online until after 2am. The only quiet time in my house! There's so much to do during this season!


I found a used FitBit pair on Craigslist, so Steven and I have been doing daily challenges, and I'm also doing challenges with a group of Facebook friends. It has made me realize just how little walking I do in a day! I was keeping up when we had the dog and I was doing extensive walking, but this week has been hard and I am so exhausted from doing things until 1-2am every night. We will be pet-sitting for a friend over Christmas, so I hope that will keep me up and moving around. Right now I just want to crawl back into my warm bed because the heater won't turn on!  Steven is doing much better than me with all the walking he does at work, including some airport trips this week!

Friends and Family
It has been such a fun season and I'm thrilled that we can share it with our family and old friends here without dealing with the stresses of traveling. We attended Steven's company Christmas party on Friday, the girls and I went to a baby shower on Saturday, and we had a fun day on Sunday at the ice skating rink and dinner on the Waterway for a friend's birthday. We had my parents over and visited at their house this week to help with their Christmas decorations. Today we had a playdate with a few friends (and our 18 kids!), tomorrow Steven will take the boys to have an early celebration for SJ's birthday at a pizza and game place, and this weekend we hope to visit Top Golf again to celebrate my parents' December birthdays along with SJ's. This is a time of so much celebration and activity, but we're still spending most of our weekdays at home. I need a lot of rest after all these activities and late nights! But my heart is so happy to be here celebrating with all those we love.

Katie Grace
Our almost 10-month old has four teeth, is crawling all over, and pulling up on furniture. Our house still isn't really baby-proofed so I don't leave her on the floor all that much unless it's newly vacuumed and the kids have picked up all their little toys. I need to work at getting things more safe for her as she will begin to walk very soon! She's still happy as a lark and enjoys outings and new people (as long as they don't try to hold her, like at Steven's company party!). She loves chicken and mashed potatoes and will tolerate other things. It'll be so fun to share her first Christmas! One of my next big projects for the week will be making her a stocking to match the others.

I keep thinking of more I want to say or photos to share, but I really need to catch up on sleep and have been writing this for a couple days already, so I'll go ahead and end with two tidbits from today that I shared on Facebook:

Conversation with Thomas...
Thomas: Can I have some chips and salsa?
Me: For breakfast?
Thomas: No, mom! To eat while you're making breakfast!

Tonight's late night reflection...
FYI, Light Sabers on Amazon: If they want Luke's blue, that's $45. If they want a saber that changes from Anakin's Blue to Darth Vader's Red, that's $31. But if they're content with just Darth Vader's red saber, that's $21. I think this is some kind of life lesson, right? And I bought the cheapest one. Poor Tommy.

A continued Happy Advent to you all! One week until Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

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

Here's our sweet girl all dressed up for the season!

I didn't get photos of our Thanksgiving meal, but here are a few of a walk around the neighborhood with NeNe and PaPa on Thursday afternoon.

lots of card-playing on Thanksgiving!

Our kiddos had fun at the annual family flag football game on Saturday before our 2nd Thanksgiving Dinner.  Copper the dog wasn't sure about the whole thing. And he threw up in the car again (the 4th time). He will not be taking car rides for awhile! One day I'll think this adjustment to a new adult dog is funny. Right now it's just very frustrating! He has escaped from the house/backyard about a dozen times and has now peed in the house twice. He's truly living up to his name, David Copperfield!

Steven Joseph was real happy to be able to celebrate with all the December birthday kids. Cupcakes and annoying screaming B family birthday song. It's a tradition!

Happy Advent, friends!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Introducing our new Thanksgiving Friend!

and sharing some Thanksgiving memories...

We've had a wonderful Thanksgiving week! Steven had an overnight trip back to Corpus Christi to get some important things that were left (my curtains and the Blessed Mother outdoor statue!). We got our first offer on our house, which was unfortunately way too low to even negotiate, but we've had some more showings and had heard that another offer might be in the works.

We hosted our first Thanksgiving meal here with my parents for lunch on Thanksgiving Day. Steven took Ellie and SJ on a duck hunting trip this morning. We visited our new local Costco store last weekend and had a fun outing to IKEA with some friends on Tuesday. We had a family photo shoot with some friends. We've enjoyed lots of family time with cleaning and cooking. The kids helped in the Thanksgiving prep and even put up Christmas lights in the front yard! Tomorrow will be our big Thanksgiving dinner with Steven's family, and we are all looking forward to that and the flag football game at the park beforehand.  We will have lots of fun memories from this week!

But our biggest decision came this week in the form of a new furry family friend!  Here's David Copperfield, aka "Copper!"

As I've shared here, we've been looking for a dog for weeks, and dreaming of a new pet ever since Timber passed away three years ago.  We knew we wanted to adopt an adult dog this time around, so we wouldn't have to deal with chewing and housebreaking. I've been looking at rescue websites, Facebook pages, Craigslist, and I've filled out a handful of very detailed applications for different groups. We found that prices can range from $20-350 or more, which is quite a range! Both of us were nearly at the point of just buying a new puppy because this process has been a bit overwhelming and it seemed the cost would be about the same. 

But I saw this little guy on Craigslist earlier this week, and we met him today at an adoption event at a Petco across town (in "Copperfield").  He was rescued about a month ago from the city shelter we visited last weekend. We went there on Sunday just as it was closing and there were dozens of people in line to adopt on the $20 day. It's nice that there are rescue groups that can be the "middle men" to grab these cuties, give them the care they need, and foster them to prepare them for life in a new home.  Because looking at them in the kennels was quite sad and overwhelming, and I'm not sure how people can go in there and choose a dog when you're faced with so many sad eyes and barking dogs wanting your love!

We were hoping for a mellow lap dog this time around, and well...he's a lap dog! Copper isn't quite the calm and submissive dog we were thinking we'd find this time. But after visiting with a lot of dogs, I realized we needed to have a more engaged and playful pet to handle our rowdy crew. I think our busy bunch would probably scare a timid dog.  Copper will keep our boys (and girls) busy, and will hopefully be a fun addition to our home.  We'll be reading up and watching videos on dog training, and we can already tell that he learns quickly and wants to please. Most of all he just seems like a happy go lucky dog, which we really wanted for our family!

My parents helped with watching different kids today while we went back and forth to the adoption event twice (due to my indecisiveness!), and my mom even helped think up the dog name. We were told by Steven's sister that Copper is also the name of the dog in the movie The Fox and the Hound! The rescue group gave us a harness, leash, food, etc.  My parents gave us their old dog kennel and bowl, so we are just about set!  They think Copper is a 4yr old Schnorkie, Schnauzer/Yorkie mix. His fur was shaved due to matting and fleas, but I can't wait to see his beautiful coat come in. I really hope he's a good fit for our family. He barked for a bit tonight, and had one little run out the front door, but is now sleeping soundly in his crate tonight, and I am looking forward to watching him become more comfortable with our family in the coming days and weeks.

Here are some photo memories from the week so far...
top row: family trip to Costco, clothes for family photos, MC taking Katie pics, Ellie with the desk she loves at IKEA.
2nd row: Tommy with an OJ popsicle from his new IKEA popsicle tray, Katie loves playing on the OUTSIDE of the exersaucer, my first homemade cranberries, and the lights the kids put up
3rd row: Steven did great with the turkey, the little spread, the sleeping daddy and papa after lunch, and the hunting kids this morning
4th row: Katie starting to crawl around at Nene's, empty seat before it was...filled with Copper!, and Daddy walking Copper at my parents'.

Hope the rest of your holiday weekend is just swell :)
We have so much to be thankful for. God is so very good to us and we are grateful to be here back home enjoying the holiday season with our families. I pray that this season we will be mindful of all that we have, content in our blessings, and willing to share ourselves and our resources with those in need. Praying for whoever is reading this that you will be filled with God's grace and Christ's love in the coming Advent and Christmas seasons!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Katie Grace, 9 Months Old!

Katie turned nine months old last week.  We are closing in on a year and it is flying by way too fast!  This little love is such a delight to everyone.  She smiles all day long.  Everyone is just so happy to see her and hug on her when they haven't seen her for a few hours, or even a few minutes.  We just can't get enough of our girl!  Mary Clare and I did a little photo shoot the other day, and here are some of my favorites...

You can see her two little teeth on the photo below!  She now has one top tooth poking through too.  She loves eating big people food and enjoys sitting in her high chair and watching the chaos going on around the house!

It was a little chilly so we added a sweater, and her hair needed a "little" bow! These pink overalls were Mary Clare's, a Gymboree favorite (6-12 month). She can still squeeze into some 3-6 month clothes, but is mostly in the 6-9 month outfits and inching into the 12 month ones soon!

We moved her into the backyard, and the leaves were just so tempting!

The boys had to be a part of the photo shoot too.  They always want their turn to hold her and "watch" her, and they're usually very gentle with their Katie.

She's starting to crawl, but mostly prefers standing up and is starting to cruise a bit around the furniture.  She takes about three naps each day, and puts up with our comings and goings for homeschool outings, ballet class, and church each week.  She's becoming a bit more active and vocal during mass now and has a much harder time napping away from home.  She'll still sleep in the Ergo and stroller/carseat for a short time though. She loves bath time and will tolerate the pack and play for quite awhile in the morning.  She only wants to stand next to the exersaucer though, and doesn't appreciate being trapped in it!  She loves to explore...

She likes putting everything into her mouth! It's going to be a challenging next few months once she becomes mobile and the Legos and crayons and other small toys become quite a hazard and temptation!

Happy 3/4 year, Baby Girl! We can't wait to share the holidays and new year with you. We all love you so very much and are so thankful this Thanksgiving to have another sweet baby to love.  I am in awe every day of how amazing it is that I get to have one more little soul to love and lead.  It's truly humbling. May God help me to be a better Mommy to you and your siblings every single day.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Another Wacky Week-7 Quick Takes

Two more days until Thanksgiving Break! I can't wait. I really just want to cozy up in bed and watch movies all day. This week has been quite a doozy with dental work, various little accidents, and topped off with a stomach virus! 

We did have some pretty moments throughout the week...

What's the baby eating?
Sweet siblings and a pool missile one morning...

Snow in Houston?
Some yummy Dutch Baby puffed pancake slices with powdered sugar. I commented on Instagram that this would be the only kind of snow we'd be seeing here in Texas!

Ballerina girls
Monday evening was ballet class, and I got some photos and videos since the teacher left the door open. The boys were with Steven so I had a quiet evening watching my ballerinas. 

Beautiful baby bundled up at ballet
She turned 9 months old on Wednesday!

Morning quiet
Tuesday also started off in a calm way with four little angels asleep in our bed. But it was a hectic morning getting to Nature Club and then back home in time to prepare for my own dental appointment. 

Dental adventure and shattered glass 
The dentist appointment was quite eventful. Reminder: leave baby with someone, or bring two people to help with her! She had a blowout diaper for Ellie and then was fussy after I went to change her. I still have half the work left to go! I guess all these babies and breastfeeding are doing a number on my teeth!

That night we had some adventures with more poopy pants (not the baby's), meanwhile the blender got knocked down from a high cabinet and shattered on the kitchen floor. Then we had issues stepping on glass shards the rest of the night until I was finally able to mop at about 11:30pm!

Vertigo and tummy bug
I had a few hours of vertigo symptoms yesterday and then came down with a GI virus in the night. The kids are having a few mild symptoms too. The girls were very helpful with the baby today during the hours that Steven couldn't be here. At least we're not in a hotel this go round!

Ellie reading to Katie. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be our club meetings and tea party, but it looks like we will be resting at home and starting off our holiday week with a bang...or a barf!

Hoping for some fun and pleasant moments to come soon!

More takes over at Conversion Diary!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week in My Life Finale: Dentist, Baby Shower, and Doggy Update

 Joining Kathryn's link-up at Team Whitaker!

Well, we left off on Tuesday night with a bowl of ice cream.  I sure needed that for the next few days!    I'll hit the highlights of the rest of the week, since I was too tired to blog the past few nights! (Please excuse the horrible quality photos on this post. One of my goals next week is to get out my good camera more!)

We woke up Tuesday morning to get Steven Joseph ready for his dental appointment.  I am SO grateful that Steven was able to help for a bit that morning, so they left just after 7am, and I followed with the rest of the crew around 7:45.  I was getting text message play-by-plays from Steven.  Poor SJ kind of freaked out in the beginning. We really didn't want to have to do the sedation drink (the appointment would be much longer, involved, and expensive), so we all powered through and he made it with just the laughing gas. I took over being in there with him halfway through, and I was SO glad I'd gotten him that reward, because he deserved it! He felt good enough for a library visit and then we stopped at Jamba Juice for some smoothies.

NeNe and PaPa came later that morning with some other little gifts for the patient, and they helped by mowing the lawn and folding clothes.  SO grateful for that!  

A little scene of everyone in the living room...

This little angel was pretty cute that day...

Other highlights of the week...

Katie prefers big people food.  Here she is with a puff pancake (Dutch baby).

This kid.  This was actually on Monday before the freezing weather started! 

I think this was Thursday night's kitchen situation, which I ended up leaving there for the next morning!

Typical Thomas. Eating a frozen yogurt tube and pouting about something.  I think he was begging me to help him get dressed, but I was cooking breakfast! The day before, he was barely dressed when his friend came to play at 2pm, so I think he realized he'd better start getting out of his PJs a little earlier!

Friday night was the group baby shower for my homeschooling group. This year we honored 13 moms, some with small babies and some whose babies are yet to arrive.  I like choosing special gifts for the moms; one year I even made diaper wreaths for each of them! Recently I've been giving small board books, but this year there were so many moms that it would have been a bit cost-prohibitive.  I had resigned myself to giving baby wipe packages this year, until Mary Clare became determined to find something on Pinterest!  I was glad to do something more creative than wipes :)

So on Friday, I took all five kids to Burlington Coat Factory, Kohl's, and Walmart.  I just wanted to be humbled, right? Actually I needed to get some things for the shower gifts, food to bring to the shower, and we have also been looking for some clothing items for certain kids like coats and boots.  They mostly behaved pretty well. I fed them Chick-fil-A first.

After about two hours of shopping, I just let them play on the diaper shelves. All four of the big kids were playing house back there behind the boxes and were having a blast.  Finally an employee walked by and I realized we'd better go before we got in trouble!

Katie enjoyed hanging out in the main part of the shopping cart!

A little "what I wore" of me and the baby. This has been a week for boots, and I found Katie this sweet birdy/flowery leggings outfit at Ross on Tuesday night.  I mostly have to wear the teething necklace, because she wants to bite any necklace. Once during Mass she actually broke one and nearly choked on the tiny beads, so I try to stick with this one!  The shirt ended up being a bad choice because it kept riding up at the bottom above my cami all night. Oh well. Please excuse Ellie's room disaster!

So here are my little crafters. I honestly did NOT ask them to make the gifts for me. They just started working as soon as we got home. MC actually wanted to bake a cake, but I said to just wait on that since I was taking over the kitchen making quesadillas to bring to the shower.

The finished product! Two washcloths wrapped together (used a tiny rubber band to secure), with a baby spoon taped on the back.

All of them together! I also added little tags before we left.

And some photos of the baby shower!  So. Much. Fun!  Love all these ladies and babies, and our friend Kiley was so kind to open up her gorgeous home to the group.

Today was spent resting and running errands. Steven's back is bothering him quite a bit, so we didn't make any progress around the house like I was hoping.  He did take all four of the big kids to the library and grocery store, so he wins SUPER-DAD for that! We had a nice Mexican dinner out, and I did some resale shopping with the baby this morning, and then some Old Navy and shoe shopping with her and Ellie this evening. I think everyone has a warm coat now, and the girls have warm boots. I'm still so aggravated that SJ's coat and shoes never showed up from the park. I haven't found him new tennis shoes yet.

My other fun part of the evening was getting a call from a dog rescue organization for a little "interview." You would think that adopting a rescue dog would be a pretty straightforward thing. We aren't picky about breed, and we don't care if it's a boy or girl. We just want a gentle dog that's out of the puppy stage, is kid-friendly, and house-trained. We're hoping for a little lap dog this time. So we went to a rescue kennel last weekend and the German owner looked us up and down and said in her strong accent, "Hmph. I don't know. We have maybe one dog who could handle all these kids." Bonkers was sweet but I just didn't fall in love. My friend is fostering a dog who might be a good fit but won't be available for a month or more.

I've emailed dog owners, have filled out extensive applications, and we haven't made much progress the past couple weeks. I was laughing so hard last night at one of the applications. It wanted to let us know that "caring for a dog/grooming could add up to $1200 or more a year" and wanted me to choose if "there's no way we'd pay that much for a dog" or "we would end up paying much more." Those were the only options. It asked for references and even asked for the name and contact info of who would take the dog if we died!  Wow!  I think most people read my messages or applications and see "five children" and immediately write us off, especially since some of the smaller rescue dogs can be overly active or aggressive.

I filled out one of the applications earlier this week, not even thinking the people from this particular breed would give me the time of day. It is one of the popular European breeds and most owners are very passionate about it. But while shopping tonight I got a phone call from the sweetest lady, asking me about my interest in adopting from their group. She loved the idea of me being home and homeschooling all the children. She was warm and friendly, and maybe one of those dogs will just be the right fit for our family. We will see.  We were planning to adopt a mutt, but maybe we'll end up with a beautiful purebred who also needs a home. Who knows!

Tomorrow starts our last week before Thanksgiving Break. I'm so excited! We will have to plan some fun things to do during that time, because I've been quite the strict mama about staying on top of schoolwork this year. I even declined another offer to join the science museum classes. Staying home on weekdays is really so important to our success and my sanity as we stay on track with our work. We should get through Week 14 of our syllabus before Thanksgiving, and then I guess we'll be at Week 16 before Christmas.  That break will be so nice!

We had two showings on our Corpus house this week, but nothing further.  Our Lady and St. Joseph, please pray for us!  Thanks for following along on this week, and just our family's life in general. Sometimes it seems so weird to know that all these friends (and some strangers) are keeping up with our lives while I journal in this public way.  It's funny when friends bring up stories from my blog or share how they enjoy reading about my crazy days. I'm sad that I don't know all that much about some of my friends who read this and who I don't see very often. But I guess I'm grateful that they know how our family is doing and that they care enough about our family to follow along!  Much love and many hugs to all of you who read and care about us, and I hope I can catch up with you all soon!

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