Monday, October 30, 2006

Welcome to the All Saints Day Party!

We had a wonderful time meeting with our old homeschooling group for the annual All Saints' Day party at a family ranch in the country! I wanted to welcome you all in on the fun! The girls looked precious dressed as Our Lady with Baby Jesus (Mary Clare) and St. Clare of Assisi (Ellie):

Here are some pics of the party; it is such a wonderful way to share this feast with other Catholic families! The party starts with the march-in of saints walking around the property. There were about 40 kids!

Families create saint-inspired booths and the kids all get a bag with a chart listing all the games. They get a sticker at each booth and some kind of prize bag. Just like Halloween, only holier! This is Lillian's St. Joseph Wood Craft, where they made crosses of yarn wrapped around popsicle sticks.

Here is my St. Catherine of Bologna (a Poor Clare, patroness of artists, and incorrupt saint!) face painting booth. I didn't realize how much I would love facepainting! The kids were so excited, I had a great time doing the painting, and sharing a little encouragement with whatever design they chose (ie the rainbow reminds us of God's promise, the Sacred heart reminds us of God's love).

The Crown Mary game, throwing a halo onto Mary's head:

Then there's St. Kateri's Stone Rosary, where each child adds a rock to the Rosary, saying the prayer, then getting the prize bag!

The Knock Down the 7 Deadly Sins bowling game is a fun one!

Throw the flowers into the ring for St. Therese's Shower of Roses booth:

All Saints Bingo:

Other games I didn't get pics of were the St. Paul's Journey (ride on a tractor), St. Thomas Aquinas (Catechism Qs), St. Isadore's Farm & Garden, and St. Peter's Fisher of Men fishing booth.

The evening ends with a variety of a nice fall foods potluck, soups, breads, pies and all sorts of other delicious things. What a fun way to share this beautiful Feast of our Church. Happy All Saints' Day everyone, a few days early!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

10 Random Facts Meme

I've been tagged a couple times but have been having a hard time thinking of 10 things! I actually came up with 8, but lost the post. Let's try again for 10 random things about Blair:

1. I am distantly related to the makers of Luden's cough drops (the ones that taste like Lifesavers).
2. I was in a Randall's (grocery store) commercial in 3rd grade. I was more worried about missing school for the filming than anything else.
3. I took dance classes for about 12 years and taught classes in high school too. Tap was my favorite. I hope to take again in the near future, or maybe teach MC and her little friends.
4. We don't have a TV in the house (by choice). We do have a computer with a DVD player though, and I love to watch EWTN live on the internet.
5. When I do watch TV, like here at my parents' who have cable, I prefer to watch real life shows like those on HGTV, TLC, and Discovery Health. My family thinks I'm wacko for enjoying the surgery shows!
6. I play the guitar.
7. I can flare my nostrils wider than anyone I've ever seen!
8. My fingers are double-jointed and flex backwards; I can't make them straight.
9. My confirmation name is Elizabeth Ann Seton; she was a wife, mother, widow, Sister, teacher, and now a Holy Saint in heaven! Now I have my own little Elizabeth Ann :)
10. I have one younger brother (hubby on the other hand is the youngest of 7); Brice was adopted as a newborn when I was 6 years old. Now that was an exciting day to miss school! He recently got married and is about to join the Navy.

So that's me!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Ellie as St. Clare

I found the St. Clare costume this morning! Ellie didn't like the veil, and I forgot to put on the rope waist, but you get the idea. So cute! Hope we're all well for All Saints' :)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Preparing for All Saints' Day

All Saints' Day is one of my favorite Catholic feasts. I never really celebrated it until I was working at a wonderful Catholic School and we would have a saint parade, a beautiful mass, and then spend the day remembering all our Church's holy men and women with parties, games, and students' reports. I dressed Mary Clare up as St. Clare for her first All Saints' Day when she was 10 months old and went to this school celebration. The past 2 years she has refused to dress up, but we've still gone to the school celebration and a homeschool group's party.

Imagine my delight when she started wanting to make a costume about a month ago! She was deciding between St. Therese the Little Flower and Our Lady, and ultimately decided to be Our Lady. We bought blue material about a month ago, but tonight I finally got motivated to start making her costume (the party we're attending is 3 days away!).

I don't have a sewing machine yet, and because of Mary Clare being sick, we haven't been able to go borrow a friend's. So tonight I went wild with Stitch Witchery! Took me about 2 hours to iron it all together, but it probably would've taken much longer to sew it by hand. I'm just a bit concerned that it won't stay together or that it won't fit her right (since I made it after she went to bed). I guess I can always sew it this weekend, although I'll be getting things ready for the booth we'll be doing at the All Saints' party for our homeschool group, St. Catherine of Bologna's Face Painting Booth (patron of artists). It should be lots of fun! I just hope that MC is well and that there is good weather.

Here's the finished tunic and the few things I used to make it (iron, scissors, Stitch Witchery, and chalk), tomorrow I'll make the veil out of a headband with white material and a glue gun, and maybe add a white sash. Plus we'll dress up a baby doll as baby Jesus for her to hold! I need to go look for the St. Clare costume for Ellie; hopefully we can dress her up too. Fun times!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One of those days...

...Actually it was one of those afternoons. We spent the morning running around town helping Steven get ready for a big out of state interview tomorrow, visiting the library, then watched him fly off into the sky! That was fun.

But this afternoon I decided to take MC to the doctor for a cough she's had for several days, worried that she'd have another all-night coughing spree. The doctor visit turned into a 3 hour-long ordeal to find out all she's got is a little virus (and she sounds almost well tonight). I'm thankful it's nothing serious and that I got to offer up that little sacrifice for a special intention, but boy it was hard!

So I treated us to a Wal-Mart outing where I bought myself a skirt and MC a new little doll. She actually chose one with a doctor kit, even after a really traumatic doctor visit, LOL! Of course our shopping trip had to be complicated by a problem with our receipt and waiting in line at the exchange counter. I was almost in tears several times during all this. But then I got home to find my new Born clogs at the front door, a replacement for my damaged sandals. A great way to end the afternoon's stressful adventure! Shopping and new shoes...I definitely felt like a girly-girl tonight the way they helped me feel better. Also not forgetting how my recent days have been brightened by little (well, sometimes long) conversations with my mom and girlfriends. And of course the giggles of my little girls. I can't complain. I am truly blessed.

Here are some recent goings-on with the B family!

Mary Clare got some new playdough last week. She was having fun "baking" cookies and a cake one night:

This weekend we had a fun trip home to visit family and friends. We had a great dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant, Lupe Tortilla! Here are the girls and I in their outdoor sand playground:

Here are the girls having a blast playing with umbrellas in my parents' driveway. Gotta love finding coordinating dresses at resale stores!

And last but not least, Steven with the girls baking pumpkin muffins last night! This is a "famous" and most popular recipe from the NFP message board (linked on the right). Aren't they so sweet?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Loveliness Fair

Here's the link to the Loveliness of Babies Fair!

My entry is below! I'm so happy to join in one of these beautiful fairs.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Loveliness of Babies

Our Three Blessings
By Blair

On a sunny day in springtime
Here I ran to tell your daddy
Now a new life I was holding
God in all his goodness blessing
Then for many months we waited.

On a New Year’s Day in winter
Started many grueling hours
As you slowly came to meet us
We would name you Mary Clare.

Mary, like the Blessed Virgin
You will lead us to the Savior
Your sweet face will bring us laughter
Rosy cheeks so round and lovely
Little smile to melt all sadness
Like St. Clare you shine so brightly
Now our baby holds our heart.

On another day in winter
Now our toddler, she is growing
And we find there is another
But before we knew He made her
She was gone before we knew.

Now to dwell with saints and angels
Little Agnes God has chosen
Little lamb who lives with Jesus
The Good Shepherd holds you closely
You pray hard for us we know.

On a crispy day in Autumn
These new kicks I feel inside me
Doctor says you’re growing nicely
A third daughter now she tells us
And we grin to think of sisters
For a lifetime you’ll be friends.

On a lovely day in springtime
Here we meet our newest daughter
Sweet Elizabeth Ann Marie
Now her sister looks on proudly
And another smiles from heaven
God is good; our hearts are full.

Golden hair so soft and yellow
Light blue eyes as clear as blue skies
And your lips, a kiss from angels
Sister love and children playing
Adds a new joy to our family
A new wonder every day.

As God-willing we keep growing
Each new life His goodness showing
How our God comes down to meet us
In His Son and in our children
New life always helps us see
Just how the loveliness of babies
Is a sign from Him to me.

(professional photos by Jen at Jen Culotta Photography)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nursing Homes

We've lived in this town about 10 months and almost everyday I drive by a nursing home within 5 minutes of our home. Everytime I look at them I tell myself that I'll take the girls one day, but I just never get around to it. But when I found out a few weeks ago that a friend in my mom's group who also has 2 little girls has a father who lives at one around the corner, I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to go. Today was the day.

We walked in to find a sitting area with about a dozen elderly men and women seated in wheelchairs staring into space. Pretty much the whole home was filled with this, halls and sitting areas of old people just sitting and staring. A few were watching Rachael Ray's talk show on television. I don't think any of them were really watching it though. One of the few ladies who could walk actually came over and greeted us when we first walked in, commenting about the girls and how she had a 5 year-old granddaughter. I told her I loved her bright pink shirt. She told me it was red ;)

We went to look at the bird aviary and I approached a woman who was sitting nearby. She looked at me with her very small, squinty eyes, and kept trying to make out words with her mouth. Then she would get frustrated. Her poor hands were shriveled closed and she kept trying to use one shriveled hand to open the fingers of the other. She lit up for a minute when she saw the girls, but mostly just looked at me...trying to ask for something that I didn't know how to give. My friend's dear father is the hall-walker, wandering up and down the hallways all day. He was excited to talk to me about Animal Science (he had his PhD) when I told him that my husband was studying it. I hope to bring Steven back to visit him and see all his awards from his cattle days!

This visit makes me reflect on my own grandmother who lives in a nursing home a few hours away. It is so sad to visit her. The smell that hits me is their breath. Many of the elderly aren't able to brush their teeth on their own, and many times my grandmother has food that doesn't get swallowed. It's pretty repulsive to look at their teeth and to smell the stench of their mouths. What is encouraging though is to see the little short-lived smiles when they see my girls and when I look them in the eyes and just smile. Then I forget the stench and try to just be present to them.

There was one lady there who gave me hope. She was pushing herself down the hallway and had the most radiant smile! It was one of those smiles that is stuck on someone's face. We greeted her and I told her that she has a beautiful smile and seems very happy. "Thank you," she said. Something about her thanks made me recognize the way that some can approach death and old age with a positive attitude. The lady with the pink/red shirt also thanked us for coming to visit them. Those little smiles and thanks should be all I need to make this a regular thing. In college, I lived with a family who took their little toddler to the nursing home each week. I've always thought that was a beautiful practice. I hope my girls become more comfortable there and can offer smiles back to the residents instead of the looks of fear they had today.

And I hope I can be a better granddaughter to my Nana who is lonely in a nursing home, trying harder to visit, send pictures, and call her more often. There is a wealth and treasure in these people we are all missing out on. I hope I can tap into it more often.

Monday, October 16, 2006

John Paul II The Great

A beautiful tribute to JPII! What a man!

Here's when we had the great honor of meeting him and receiving a newlywed blessing! Mary Clare was born exactly one year later, to the day!

It's Raining, It's Pouring!

But nobody is snoring! Here's how Steven left for class this morning, braving the "monsoon":

And I thought you'd enjoy some pictures of my ball-loving daughter:

And my doll-loving daughter:

Friday, October 13, 2006

All Better!

Well, after I wrote that I figured out how to copy and paste the HTML for my links, yay! But I still can't get my profile pic to show up. Oh well. I'm starting to get the hang of all this stuff.

We had a blast at the soccer game tonight! Here's our Aggie fam all decked out:


I just spent about 45 minutes adding links to my sidebar and resizing my profile pic which still won't show up on the sidebar for some reason! I changed my template design to see if that would help, and then ALL my links that I individually typed in (all your blog addresses and my favorite forums and websites) were erased! Bah! You'll get to look at Google Me and Edit Me for a little longer :-/

On a happier note, we spent the afternoon making cookies and decorating them like pumpkins. And tonight we're going to our first college soccer game. Should be fun in this fall cool weather!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

More Texas Fun!

Well, I've had a hard time keeping up with my blog...not much exciting going on I guess. Thanks for the prayers for Steven's interviews; they all went really well and he's got at least one 2nd interview where they're flying him out of state! I'm learning trust and abandon right now as I am so anxious to find out what is next for our little family after 2006! I know it will be perfect, whatever it is. God's will be done.

Late this afternoon we got a nice hard rain, and then Steven called to tell me there was a beautiful rainbow! I love rainbows as you can read in a previous post. Here's the one from our front yard today:

And here are the girls playing outside after the rain. You can see my purple Mexican petunias are doing well :) Only in Texas can you wear a swimsuit outside in October! Actually we have a cold front coming through right now; finally it will feel like Autumn!

Tonight we fried! Chicken, that is. I don't do it very often since it makes such a mess, but we had lots of thawed chicken to cook, so we went wild! I also have some cookie dough in the fridge but I guess that'll have to wait until tomorrow. Here's Steven with a chicken finger in Texas-style (that's a TX flag on his shirt if you didn't know :)

The Gospel reading for this coming Sunday is a beautiful one, and very pertinent to me right now:

Mk 10:17-30 or 10: 17-27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother."
He replied and said to him,
"Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
"You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
"How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
"Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said,
"For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God."
Peter began to say to him,
"We have given up everything and followed you."
Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."

I've read it several times already with my Regnum Christi team and my Familia training. There are so many beautiful reflections from this Gospel. But I will have to ponder more later...

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Texas Fall Fun!

At the ranch on St. Francis day, riding in the Gator (golf-cart thing):

Daddy and Godfather after having fun burning trash. So dirty!

At the Poor Clare Miniature Horse Monastery's AutumnFest,
MC paints a ceramic pumpkin:

MC by St. Clare stained glass window on monastery chapel:

Ellie with a miniature horse:

And Ellie playing a water relay game :)

More on "I'm Done!"

Me: (putting Ellie down for nap)
MC: I'm done!!!! (yelling from the bathroom)
Me: I'm putting Ellie down. You'll have to wipe yourself!
MC: I'm done!!!! I'm DOOOONNNE!!!!
Me: Mary Clare, you're almost 4, you can try to do it yourself.
MC: No I can't do it! I'll never do it! I'm not wiping my bottom until I'm SIXTEEN!!!
Me: (laughing, going in to help)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Tell me, if you know all

1st reading from Mass today, a very good reminder of Who is in charge and why I should trust Him:

Reading 1
Jb 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5

The LORD addressed Job out of the storm and said:

Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning
and shown the dawn its place
For taking hold of the ends of the earth,
till the wicked are shaken from its surface?
The earth is changed as is clay by the seal,
and dyed as though it were a garment;
But from the wicked the light is withheld,
and the arm of pride is shattered.

Have you entered into the sources of the sea,
or walked about in the depths of the abyss?
Have the gates of death been shown to you,
or have you seen the gates of darkness?
Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all:
Which is the way to the dwelling place of light,
and where is the abode of darkness,
That you may take them to their boundaries
and set them on their homeward paths?
You know, because you were born before them,
and the number of your years is great!

Then Job answered the LORD and said:

Behold, I am of little account; what can I answer you?
I put my hand over my mouth.
Though I have spoken once, I will not do so again;
though twice, I will do so no more.


I held my baby girl alone together at Mass today, listening to a friend's son do the reading (an example to me of how holiness comes through the family), watching our friends with the 8 children slowly and joyfully arrive into mass (always teaching me to be calm even when running late), and for the first time seeing in person a young newly married husband stricken with cancer and his precious wife (recognizing how precious and short life is)...Reminds me of how much I have to learn...How I really know nothing about life...How God really does work good through the trials of our lives here.

Interviews went well. Now the waiting game and more interviews to come. Trying to trust in Him who knows all and like Job "put my hand over my mouth."

Pictures to come hopefully this weekend. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in You!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"I'm Done!"

During Sunday Mass I took Mary Clare to the restroom. I stood outside the stall; actually I was chasing Ellie around the restroom as she tried to climb on stools and grab paper towels out of the trash can. A few seconds later I heard the usual "I'm done!" yell from her stall.

A woman soon came out of her stall and began to tell me about how Mary Clare's "I'm done" reminded her of all the years of wiping tooshies. She got a little sentimental, even telling me that she had recently shared with her children how she missed that phrase! After telling this to her kids, one afternoon her teenage son yelled from the restroom, "I'm done!", getting a wave of laughter from throughout the house.

I'm sure in a few months I'll stop hearing Mary Clare's "I'm done" yells from the bathroom. As she gets closer to her 4th birthday I am realizing just how much she's already a little girl and no longer a toddler. She's starting to read and write (thanks to a Leap Frog DVD recommended by my friend and homeschooling mom of 8 Kimberly, and the BOB books recommended by another blogger Melissa). Last night she went yelling through the house "chair rhymes with hair, bed rhymes with head" and telling her daddy all the rhyming words she could think of. She was so proud of herself!

Today was the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, which we enjoyed by spending the evening with some friends at their ranch property. It was a beautiful and peaceful evening amidst a wild week. Steven has 4 interviews tomorrow and one on Friday! I can't believe we're almost at the end of this schooling journey (unless he accepts one of his prof's offers to do graduate work!). God has been so faithful. And I am so proud of my hubby. He even got a 96 in his genetics test last week! I think any of these companies would be proud and blssed to have him as an employee. St. Francis, pray for him!

Well, it's after midnight and I'm sure I'll be awakened soon by an "I'm done" from the bathroom, cries from the pack n play, or a hubby needing a shirt ironed. I'll post some pics tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Wild Week!

It's going to be one of those eventful weeks! Steven's week has been filled with tests, career fairs, meet-and-greets, and interviews (please keep him in prayer!). Last night I had a beautiful experience at the Catholic college students' praise & worship. It was so nice to have half an hour alone to praise the Lord in song! I really miss that form of prayer. It was like I went from wanting to jump out of my skin from a stressful evening of planning for the week, cooking, fussy kids, and a dead bird in the an immediate sense of grace and peace. Just what I needed! Then this evening was another of those crazy Mass times, with my lovely 3 year-old running (stomping) all around the balcony during the Consecration. I think it took over the award for worst Mass behavior. Still working on discipline issues there, but I've seen some (small) improvements :)

Afterwards, while driving to get a bite to eat with our friends who were visiting, we noticed that lots of stoplights weren't working. Then we realized that half the town was out of power! Thankfully we were able to find a place to eat, albeit without air conditioning. We cheered as we arrived home to a power-on house, only to go black about half an hour later.

But we had fun in the dark with flashlights and a lantern playing with the girls. The college students across the street were all in the yard visiting. Then they started watching a movie projected on the side of their house! Can't say I've seen that before! I remember reading a reflection about how times like this make you realize just how little time you spend uninterrupted with your family, without TV, computer, or radio. So true. I also watched the movie "RV" the other night (after Lillian's recommendation). It had a similar theme about spending time as a family and how you realize what's most important during the times you are forced to be close. This year living a little bit farther from family has definitely helped me to grow as a wife and mother. It's been such a blessing and I'm trying right now to bask in this wonderful little "yearlong retreat" as I call it. Thank you Jesus, for such a grace and blessing! Hope you are all having a week filled with God's wild love for you!

Here are a few pics from the weekend...

Mary Clare at her cousin's birthday, her first experience of a pottery-painting place (so fun!). Then Ellie after the party hugging a pole, so sweet! And the girls playing with Daddy's new Australian hat from their Godfather who took a business trip there. Steven's mom in the background:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Thursday we happened to make a last-minute trip to visit Lillian and her family, since their car problems prevented their trip up here. And it was also my parents' 32nd Wedding Anniversary! So we got to meet them at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. What a fun evening!

My glowing parents at dinner:

Ellie eating a chip and holding one of her balls (see post below about how she's my ball-lover):

Mary Clare playing train with Lillian's kids. What a fun place to hang out! I love big families! Thanks for having us over, Lillian :)
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