Saturday, September 29, 2007

Family Birthdays

It really is a blessing to live in the same city as both our parents and 4 of Steven's siblings. It makes for fun holidays and great birthday celebrations! Today we celebrated the birthdays of 3 of the 10 cousins who live in town. It was at one of those indoor inflatable party places and the kids had a blast!

Mary Clare got right down to business! We would see just her pigtails whiz by...


Ellie on the other hand was very apprehensive and wouldn't get in the moonwalk until I sat in there with her. It's a little nauseating though to sit in one of those things with kids jumping all around you and being pregnant! Finally after a few minutes she started venturing in there alone.


Ellie is our cleanly girl...she doesn't like her hands or feet to be dirty and wouldn't touch the cupcake. She would only lean over and lick it!


Mary Clare actually using a fork. She has been wanting to eat with her hands a lot these days so I was really proud that she found herself a fork for the cupcake!


Happy Birthday to Emily, Andrew, and Caleb!!! We are so thankful to be a part of your family :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Wonderful Holy Hour

Eucharistic Holy Hours (where Catholics pray adoring the consecrated communion host displayed on the altar) used to mean an hour of stillness and silence where I could look at Christ hidden in the bread and have a nice conversation with him, meditating on the Gospels, reading inspirational books, praying the Rosary, offering my intentions, and just listening to My Lord. These times of prayer have been few and far between since the arrival of our precious daughters. A quiet chapel with a toddler and preschooler don't seem to mix well together, and a husband with a very difficult work schedule makes it virtually impossible for us to make visits to an Adoration chapel alone.

But this morning, my Regnum Christi team was inspired to attempt this endeavor with our children. "A Holy Hour with children?", you say. How would that work? Well, to be honest this was one of the commitments which the teams in my area had never attempted with our children, as far as I know. We assumed that the Adoration Chapels at many of the area parishes would not be suitable for young children, so we all tried to make Holy Hours on our own, rather than a monthly Team Holy Hour.

But someone got the idea last week that we should attempt to have our Team Holy Hour at one of the parishes which doesn't have Adoration, but has a Eucharistic Chapel (where the Blessed Sacrament is in the Tabernacle) that is rarely visited during the day. I was optimistic as we set out this morning, though discouraged that we didn't awaken early enough to attend morning Mass or our planned library visit beforehand. I wasn't sure just how the girls would last in this first activity of the day.

We entered the quiet chapel where two of my friends sat with their babies. My girls were actually the only ones there over 9 months of age (there were 4 babies), but they did amazingly well. They brought their own baby dolls and baby doll gear and spent the hour walking around the chapel and cooing at the different babies. Mary Clare put her own doll in her child-size sling at one point and sat listening to a reflection with a very grown-up look on her face. It was priceless! And they had a visit to Chick-fil-A to look forward to afterwards where all my wonderful teammates shared a joyous lunch!

I can't say it was the same as a Holy Hour with silence and deep dialogue with Christ, but I can say it was a beautiful gift to be able to sit in that chapel with all God's little children and have a reflection, Rosary, and Litany together. I can't wait for next month's Holy Hour! And I encourage all the moms out there to not lose hope...prayer may not be what it was five years ago, but it's even more beautiful when we are able to reflect on the gift of the precious little souls God has graced us with. A true blessing.

(And a side note that we are also trying to coordinate a specifically Children's Holy Hour at our parish once a month, which would include children's songs, stories, Rosary decade, etc. Please pray that it might work out if it be God's will! Here is some more information about Eucharistic Adoration for Children)

Some Reminders to Self:

~If you set an alarm to wake up before the children, you must not turn it off and fall back asleep every day. This defeats the point of the alarm clock.

~Let children fall asleep for naptime, then take your own nap. Otherwise said children might just not fall asleep and you could find them rummaging in the refrigerator while you wake up watching Barney.

~Do not take young children to the library at naptime. Toddler will have several crying fits and children just might press the handicapped door button and escape out the front door while you are checking out.

(I'm sure I'll remember more later today...)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pictures

Since I don't have much else to say...

Growing belly...27weeks!


Mary Clare wanted to show NeNe her new skirt :)


We picnicked at the park today


Her baby had to have lunch too!


Ellie rode her tricycle all the way there!


It was hot getting there and back, but felt somewhat breezy in the shade at the park. Mary Clare had her first big fall off her bike when she refused to put her helmet back on, so she's got some nice scratches on her face :-( Then she had dance class this afternoon...we searched high and low for her ballet shoes to no avail (St. Anthony?), so she had several nice slips and falls in her class! But she enjoyed the butterfly wings they got to put on! I forgot to put the roast in the crockpot so I better figure out something else for dinner...ah, the mommy life! What a day! I love it :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Moonwalks

and birthday cake make for a fun Sunday evening!




We had our longest bikeride yet yesterday. I was worried that Mary Clare wouldn't make it back and one of us would have to go home for the car. But she persevered in our adventure to a park in a nearby neighborhood! Way to go, MC! I'm also glad we're getting some family exercise this week, with all the sweets I've been eating ;)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The alarm

worked in waking me on Wednesday, but today was another story. I had been up late and through the night with a feverish child, so the alarm was quickly turned off when it started to beep! The girls actually came in my bed just before 8am and we had a rather calm morning, even though I was readying the house for a group of ladies and kids who would arrive for our Regnum Christi meeting and potluck lunch!

But naptime is my friend. I love catching that middle of the day rest! We went to dinner (at Chili's who by the way will be donating all their proceeds next Monday to St. Jude's Children's Hospital) with my parents' who then accompanied us to Wal-Mart so we could all grab a few things. It is so nice going shopping with more adults than children! I even treated myself to some Double Stuff Halloween oreos with lovely orange filling! A great midnight snack ;-P

Speaking of Halloween, what shall we do? We had always planned to put all the focus on All Saints' Day. But last year Mary Clare found out what trick or treating was and has been mentioning Halloween all throughout the year. I've also learned that our neighborhood has some special festivities. So we'll see what happens. What do you all do?

And I'll end with a sweet picture of the girls and my parents from our Wal-Mart outing tonight. Gotta love the Dumbo 50 cent ride at Wal-Mart. It's the little things that make them so happy...


Oh, and our breakfast from yesterday...Mmmm, a German Puff Pancake with whipped topping and strawberries! Can you tell I have a sweet tooth this week? I also swiped some gummy worms at the store tonight. Must be sure I get a bikeride or some kind of exercise tomorrow!


Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Tomorrow...

..should start off better than today, because I will be waking up to an ALARM! Something about alarm clocks and stay-home mommies just doesn't seem to mesh. But I guess alarm clocks and homeschool must coincide.

Today the girls rolled out of bed a few minutes before me. I stumbled into the kitchen to find Mary Clare with the fridge opened and ready to pour some orange soda into a cup. She quickly put it back and grabbed the water jug with an embarrassed look, but the morning just went downhill from there. I tried to make things better with a walk to the park but it didn't help much. I was even adventurous enough to trim their hair! But I was still lost in frustration most of the day with continual behavior issues...

Once it was time for ballet this afternoon, things improved and got even better when Daddy got home and we went on a family bike ride! We'll see if the alarm helps me to be in a better mood, and thereby the girls in a better mood ready for another day of fun tomorrow!

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Productive Morning

I knew going into this homeschooling thing that I was going to need to wake up earlier than the girls for it to work. I've read plenty of times on other blogs, especially Lillian's, about how important it is to get things rolling in the morning. And I actually DO get up REALLY early, around 5:45am, to make Steven's lunch and see him off to work. BUT then I get back in bed. Sometimes until 8:00 or later.

The first week of September I was hoping to "start school" but our books arrived late and we had a lot going on. Then last week we had our wonderful guests for a few days. So this week I knew I had to get moving early Monday morning to make it work. Thankfully my guardian angel woke me up around 7:30 and the girls slept in, leaving me time for prayer and breakfast prep so that we could start school right after breakfast.

So far Mary Clare is enjoying Handwriting Without Tears the most! She's doing great with writing her letters and numbers, and it's what she wants to do first thing (after prayers, pledge and a patriotic song). For now, I'm taking the idea of a good friend of mine and letting her choose 2 or 3 subjects each day, hoping things will even out as the months go by. Right now she usually chooses handwriting and math. So today at breakfast I read a bible story so we could get back on track with bible dictation. I also recited a poem myself and taught it to Ellie even though Mary Clare wasn't interested. Hopefully she'll find some fun in it soon! And hopefully she'll want to start back up with 100 Easy Lessons, so we can continue her reading progress. But for now, I'm glad that she's at least enjoying handwriting and math!

We were done by 9:15 and made it out to the library and errands and back for naps. I figure if we can have 3 mornings a week getting schoolwork done right after breakfast, we'll get into a good routine...we'll see! Next in line is getting myself out of my pajamas before school ;)

And since the weekend posts were all about bikeriding, here was our other fun activity of the weekend...the pool! Yes folks, we're in Texas where September weather is still in the 90s! Actually it's getting quite pleasant in the mornings and the pool was a little chilly for my liking, but the girls had a fun time!




And finally, a picture of the girls with Aunt Pam, Steven's oldest sister and one of the few who lives out of town but stopped by for a quick lunchtime visit on Sunday. Thanks for coming to see us, Pam!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

She's got it!

Our biking girl...complete with helmet, knee pads, and tennis shoes for those who were worried about her :)
video

Biking home!
video

Friday, September 14, 2007

"The best day of my whole life"

Is how Mary Clare responded after succeeding at this...
She's almost got it!
video

Since that one doesn't quite capture her excitement and pride (and the love for her baby brother Peter), here's another...
video

Her other success today was figuring out how to write the number 5 (without it looking like an S or Z)! It was an afternoon of victories, after a totally fruitless morning with nothing much accomplished at all. We were finally able to get some homeschooling done and had lots of fun playing with puzzles and the train set. Mary Clare even dictated a very long story about the train. Maybe we'll post that later.

Here's how the girls spent the evening before bedtime, dancing! Mary Clare slept in her dance clothes!



And a last biking picture because she's just so sweet! Way to go, Mary Clare!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A visit in pictures

We had a great time with our friends the past two days. We are still getting used to a quiet house!

Upon arrival...the Aggie gang!


Our "Visitation"! Veronica due January, Blair due in December...the first time we've been pregnant together, and both with boys!


Who says boys can't play with dollhouses? Enriquito and Ellie:


Ellie and Gerardito playing with dollhouse stuff, although he does hold a toy knife in this pic! Ellie called him "that boy" for awhile and finally started calling him "Patito" instead of Palito (nickname from his brother for Gerardo Juan Pablo) the 2nd day. I told them I guess "little duck"(patito) might be better than "little stick"(palito)!


Getting a ride on Enrique:


Our homeschool supplies got lots of use!


A visit from Tia Marie and her little sweetheart:


Watercolors this morning. Notice Ellie painting her lips!


And a few books before they left...(Mary Clare said her favorite part of their visit was reading books together :)

We are really going to miss them over the coming months, especially as their little Fernando arrives. At least we get to see each other on the blogs and still get to talk on the phone thanks to their Vonage line!

It's really amazing how two families...with different backgrounds, children speaking different languages, different ages, different sexes, with different discipline techniques, and even different diets (we have a lot to learn on those last two items!)...with the one person, God, bringing us together...can be so close and seem to have so much in common! We are really blessed to share this friendship and hope it continues to grow over the years, the miles (or oceans) and the children. God bless you, G family! We love you all!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where am I?

I sit and reflect. I am here with 2 snoring angels behind me, a husband sleeping soundly in the next room, and in the room on the other side, our dearest friends and their little boys rest before more travel tomorrow.

I am in a home that I am thankful for everyday, in a suburb that makes me feel safe and happy, and in the city that holds almost all our close family members.

I am down the street from the pool, a short walk to the park, an easy drive to the dance studio, and a skip to most any restaurant, store, or entertainment venue I care to visit.

I am a short drive to several Catholic churches, one of which has someone adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament at this very minute. I am blessed with a homeschooling community of kind women and joyful children.

I am surrounded by holy women and priests who guide me on my spiritual journey, who pray for me, offer me the Sacraments, and teach me what it means to love God.

I am in a free country, a country built on tears and sacrifice. I am oceans away from fighting soldiers. But I am only minutes away from the thousands who mourn the loss of a loved one in the 9/11 tragedies or in a recent battle overseas.

I am here with a roof over my head, clothes on my body, food in my stomach, family and friends in my home, a baby in my womb.

I am blessed.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Some other special somebodys are coming!

We are thrilled to have our dearest friends Veronica and Enrique along with Enriquito, Gerardito, and in-utero Fernandito staying at our house for the next few days! We haven't seen Veronica and the boys since early January and they have never seen our house (well, since it's been ours!). So we've been cleaning up and getting ready and will go pick up our world travelers this morning. We can't wait!

We had a lovely weekend, spending part of Saturday at a birthday party at one of our favorite restaurants, take a look at where the kids spent their time at this "Dump Truck Party".



And the weather was such that any playing in the backyard had to be finished out by a dip in the little pool yesterday! Daddy was happy to spend the afternoon with Uncle Thomas at a Texans game. Whoop for the Aggies and Texans this weekend...a great start to the football season!

Ellie making "soup"


Mary Clare on the little cycle...apparently she is very close to riding her 2-wheeled bicycle as of last night! Hopefully we'll have pictures or videos of that to come!


And hopefully you'll be seeing some pictures of some sweet little boys and some big-bellied mommies in the coming days :) Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, September 07, 2007

First Friday

Our First Friday class finally came! I've been mentioning it for awhile but maybe never explained what our homeschool group does. We meet at the local parish and have activities for all the different age groups...Jr High/High School, elementary (Little Flowers and Blue Knights), preschool pray and play (my group) and a nursery.

I had 15 children in the class today and lots of parent helpers. It went so smoothly! All the preparations paid off...after our chaotic times during the spring semester (I think I mentioned children climbing walls, running wild, trying to escape, etc) it was really refreshing to have a nice calm class! We talked about Jesus' love for children, did two different cross crafts, had guitar singing time, and did all the first-time things like making nametags and putting binders together.

Here are the girls:
Not sure about this smile?


Ellie was so proud to make a little foam cross craft, she finally agreed to have her picture taken!




Afterwards, the homeschool group had a birthday party for Our Lady at the park (Mary's Nativity is tomorrow). We made a rosary out of cupcakes, sang happy birthday, and then chowed down! It was SO hot though, we won't be back at the park in the afternoon for awhile! But it was a joyous day and we are so thankful for our wonderful Catholic homeschool group!

The girls admiring the cupcake rosary

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Today's Mass

What a special morning for Northwoods Catholic school (where I used to teach)! Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, General Director of Regnum Christi and the Legion of Christ, made his first visit to the school, and is also here to form the first community of full-time Legionary priests and Brothers in Houston. Up until now, we shared our Legionary priests with other Texas cities (Austin, Dallas, San Antonio), so it is a true blessing to have these priests here to serve the laypeople full-time. They give spiritual direction to dozens, retreats to hundreds, advising all the different Regnum Christi programs (from schools, to youth groups, to missions) and help where needed around the archdiocese, providing the sacraments.

Here are a few pictures of Father greeting the people. The students lined the sidewalk and the entry to the school and chanted and clapped for Father as he entered. He shook hands with every student and almost every person he passed by (Mary Clare got a blessing). It was wonderful to see so many friends from the school and from Regnum Christi. It was a true gift to have this shepherd of tens of thousands of Catholics here as a representative from Rome, also sending greetings from our dear founder Fr. Maciel and sharing a story about our Holy Father Pope Benedict. It will be a treasured memory.

Signing a picture for one of my old students


Preparing for Mass, lots of priests!


Father looks up with a grin


Recessional after mass, also some of my students are altar servers now!


And greeting people as he exits


May his ministry be blessed. And may we, as the Gospel invited us today, and Father spoke about, put our nets out into the deep!

Happy Birthday, Steven!

Hope you have a super-duper day! We love you!
~Your girls, and Peter ;)



We'll be offering Daddy our busy day of doctor appointment (24 weeks!), Mass with Fr. Alvaro (yay!), lunch meeting with my Regnum Christi team, shopping for the final First Friday things, and printing up a storm this afternoon. It was a long night of Ellie's sniffles, so hopefully she's in good spirits this morning and we can all get a little rest this afternoon. Hope you all have a terrific Thursday!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Books Arrived!



We finally received our shipment of homeschool books, minus the "Mommy, It's a Renoir" teacher guide which is on backorder. I was hoping to officially start school yesterday (Tues) as the rest of the week holds lots of morning activities, so it looks like we will be continuing our here-and-there approach to homeschooling this week. I'm excited to get started on the math program (Singapore) and the handwriting (Handwriting Without Tears) and hope we can find some special moments to sit down and work this week!

We're still getting ready for the First Friday class...I've been on the hunt for some particular Wal-Mart 3-ring binders and have so far been to 4 different Wal-Marts trying to procure enough for our class! I'm typing up attendance charts, nametags, and songsheets and tomorrow will have some friends over to help finalize the first lesson plan. I know it sounds like a lot for a little once-a-month preschool class, but since we're coming up with it all on our own, and last year I was a "tad" disorganized (ie planning the night before, no lesson plans, children climbing on windowsills and chasing each other around the room), I'm hoping that all the preparations of the past couple weeks will pay off and make for a smooth year!

Mary Clare had her 2nd dance class today. It's really hard to see through the lace curtain, but she's on the left, with a black tank leotard next to the little girl in pink:



I am really impressed by this dance school. I grew up taking dance at a handful of studios, one of which used the "RAD" (Royal Academy of Dance) syllabus. This means that any level all over the world would be learning the same dance steps and techniques, and to go on to the next level we would have exams at the end of the year, with a professional "examiner" from England. I think it really helped me later on to have this good ballet background.

The studio where Mary Clare takes uses the Sonshine Christian Ballet syllabus, which I like even more because it is a Christian syllabus, at a Christian studio, but based on the RAD program. I can already tell that they are working on the most basics of ballet skills (demi plies, pointing and flexing, controlling knees and arms, runs and gallops, rhythm and miming) which makes for a class that appears very structured and uniform. We'll see how long she is actually interested in dance, but I'm glad to at least give her a good foundation if she chooses to continue.



Tonight we celebrated Steven's birthday with my family. Here we are attempting to take a family picture in front of the restaurant. You can't really tell, but Ellie has on real shoes...we'll see how long it lasts!

Better get back to bed.
~Signed, sleepless at 4am...

Monday, September 03, 2007

A Happy Labor Day!

I hope your Labor Day was a happy one!
It was a happy day because Daddy didn't have to go to work!
It was a happy day because our dog Timber was found after being lost overnight!
It was a happy drive across town with two napping girls, listening to an old Jars of Clay CD.
It was a happy afternoon sharing the holiday with Steven's family!
It was a happy time eating yummy fruit, chips & salsa, barbecue, German chocolate cake, and ice cream!
It was a happy half hour visiting the triplets, who are 9 months and absolutely adorable!
It was a happy experience playing the guitar and singing with all the kids (my girls and 5 nieces and nephews).
It was happy hearing the echoes of loud toddler voices (and screams and cries) throughout my in-laws' house.
It was happy realizing that next year there will not be just 7 voices, but 11 voices with the triplets and our little Peter added to the mix of under 7 yr-old cousins in the area!
It was a happy birthday celebration for Steven.
It was a happy drive home with two sleeping girls.
And it is a happy night spending my quiet time at the computer eating popcorn and lemonade!

Some pictures from today...

My father-in-law's flag collection. Each of his children and grandchildren have a flag that he hangs on the porch when the family comes to visit. They are always a bright and shining reminder of the joy of family! Mary Clare's is the spirally fish one and Ellie's is appropriately the flip-flop spiral one (before her flip-flop obsession!), Steven's sister made him an Aggie one, and me...well, all the "non-relatives" share the outlaw pirate flag!


Cousins! The oldest just started Kindergarten, so here she is reading to the others


One way to get 7 young children to sit down for more than 20 seconds...cake and Kool-Aid!


What the men do best...watching and talking sports and news!


And "The Brothers" (our triplet nephews) down the street...Cooper


Major


and Joshua!

Are they not the cutest? And such flirts! They make me so anxious to meet our little boy! Hopefully in 2008 they'll all be partying with the family!

A Happy Labor Day to you all! I can't believe September is already here!
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