Friday, March 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes

It's been awhile, so I figured it would be a good Friday for some Quick Takes!

Fabric Softener,
where have you been all my life?  
We stayed with our friends at the farm a few weeks ago, and I took out a load of her laundry.  It was SO soft!  I bought a bottle of fabric softener on a whim when we got home, and I'm not sure I'll ever go back.  The smell is a bit strong since we're used to Free & Clear detergents, but the softness just can't be beat!

My camera situation.
So it appears I've broken another camera.  I (kind of) joked with Steven tonight on how I really want a Canon (DSLR).  He just laughed.  He (kind of) joked that I need to write a plan of action for how to deal with my current camera issues.  So here is my plan...
-Take the camera to the repair shop while visiting Houston this weekend since we don't have a camera shop here.  See if they can clean out the sand.
-If they can't fix it for a reasonable amount of money, start spending hours of time on the internet researching camera deals and whine about my crummy and fuzzy iPhone photos for the next few months.
-Definitely will be researching Blair-proof cameras with Otterbox-type cases.  Maybe I need a waterproof camera since we'll be spending lots of time at the beach and pool this summer?
-Try my hardest to remember not to hang camera on the handle of my stroller in case of tipping stroller. 
-Also try my hardest to remember not to hold camera, take photos, and turn it on and off (opening and closing the lens) when I am chasing children through sand dunes at the beach with sand on my hands.

New Otterbox.
I may have some camera issues right now after having it only 2 months, but my current iPhone has survived over 6 months!  The Otterbox case was totally falling apart though, and the inner plastic was cracked in several places.  I love that it's under a one-year warranty!  I have a pretty new case now, and it feels like a brand new phone.  We still think back on the salesman who threw the iPhone in an Otterbox across the room at the AT&T store to show us how sturdy it was.  We immediately knew that was the case for me! 

It's creeping up on us.  I am craving all sorts of yummy desserts.  I haven't done any shopping yet, but I do have some things in my Amazon cart...I was so happy to learn today that Steven is now off the waiting list and can officially be an "Amazon Mom" and get those diaper discounts and free 2-day Prime Shipping!  Mine expired in December and I've really missed it!  We'll actually be spending Easter here in our new town.  I have mixed feelings about it, but am hoping that we enjoy all the activities at church over the weekend including Mass, an egg hunt, a BBQ, and a dinner party.  Steven even has off work on Good Friday, so that will be a nice family day, too.

Beach trip.
Starting to get excited about our August beach house adventure with Steven's family.  His parents are celebrating FIFTY YEARS of marriage this year, so we're renting a giant house for 33 people.  My head spins just thinking about a week with that many people under one roof, but his family all gets along great, so I'm sure it will be a fun vacation.  I know the kids will be thrilled to spend so many days with their cousins; we haven't rented a beach house together since Ellie was a newborn, so almost 7 years ago!

The girls are enjoying their dance studio here, and are looking forward to their recital performance of "Aladdin."  I'm having a hard time with the adjustment because I miss our friends at ballet back home and haven't been able to meet new families because I don't get to stay and watch them dance (no space to be with the boys), and I know the instruction and environment is nothing like what we had back home and I worry about them being exposed to things I'm not comfortable with.  But we had some major progress this week when one of the girls started sobbing to find out that she might miss the company's performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" here this weekend since we need to go to Houston.  To think that she's that excited about anything in this town is a real improvement on our situation.

Slowly adjusting.
Anytime someone finds out we recently moved here (4.5 months now), they ask how we like it.  "We're slowly adjusting," is my mantra.  "Home" is our own little house and family here, but "home" still feels like the city 4 hours away where nearly all of our extended family and longtime friends live.  I don't know how long it will take before this begins to feel like home, or if it ever will.  I know some people are able to move around and adjust easily to new environments.  I think if we weren't so deeply grounded in our life there, it wouldn't have been so hard.  I almost started crying in the shoe store yesterday when a grandma walked in to join her daughter and granddaughters shopping for shoes.  The two little girls were so excited to see their grandma and started yelling and jumping up and down.  That was a weekly occurrence for us back home, and it's hard not to have that consistent family support here.

But I trust that God has a beautiful plan for our family and for our hearts.  He knows when we need to "come away and rest awhile."  He knew we needed the beautiful water and sand and waves, the quiet ocean breeze, and chirping birds day and night.  But most importantly, a chance for our little family to grow in our relationships and for Steven and I to grow in our vocations as a husband and wife.  For us to see and feel God's hand in our lives and his longing for our minds and hearts when we don't have the distractions of so many activities.  I pray that we can each take advantage of this experience, and all the beautiful Catholic churches, convents, and ministries help us to be still in this moment of our little retreat here in the heart of the "Body of Christ" (Corpus Christi).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

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


A last-minute evening beach trip on Sunday; we had a nice time, except that I got sand in my camera so it's not working anymore!!!


The kids have been enjoying some warm afternoons with the hose on the driveway!


An example of the Nerf arsenal at church after Sunday Mass.  I love that Steven Joseph is thrilled to go to church these days, although I'm not sure it's quite for the right reasons...

Also, note his almost-grown-to-bowl-cut-length of hair, because it's been buzzed again!  It was getting a bit too shaggy for Daddy's liking.  I'm not sure I'm going to win this one, so at least I'll enjoy Thomas' longer locks for the moment ;-)

 We really got to go to Mass with Cardinal Dolan on Monday morning!  (Gotta love the iPhone zoom capabilities!)  My friend who grew up here had found out through a family member that he'd be saying mass at the chapel of the "Pink Sisters" and that we should try to make it.  Of course, it had to be a morning where Steven needed to be at work early and couldn't join us!  So I dragged all 4 kids out of bed to the standing-room-only mass.  The girls shared a folding chair while I chased the boys around outside the chapel.  We didn't get to meet Cardinal Dolan but they handed out medals he blessed of the foundress of the Holy Spirit Adoration Sisters, Blessed Maria Virgo.  Steven Joseph's medal even holds a small relic!

For those who aren't familiar with Cardinal Dolan, he is the Archbishop of New York recently named to the College of Cardinals and is the President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  A charismatic and conservative leader, many say that he could end up becoming the first American pope.  Who knows!  Regardless, a special morning for us to attend this mass, and a reminder to me of how I should take advantage of these beautiful convents, chapels, religious centers, and everything that is just minutes from my doorstep!

And I'll leave you with a striking photo of two of my beauties...

Thankful this Thursday for all the beautiful things in my life!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Texas Ranger T-Ball Spring 2012

We didn't buy pictures, so this is it!  We got to the field an hour early for photos before his 2nd game on Saturday.  When I went to take my own pictures, I realized that I left my camera battery at home!  That was before I broke my camera on Sunday by getting sand in it at the beach.  Hopefully it can be cleaned out.  I think I have a camera curse!  Back to iPhone photos for awhile now...

My little Texas Ranger

and his cute team

Some videos from the 2nd game for the grandparents!

Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation Review
10 Goals for March 19-25
 Prayer and Community
1. Make a sacrifice jar for the children.  Actually the girls each made a bag and are doing it on their own.
2. Read the daily mass readings or the Divine Office 4x this week.  Probably more like twice :(
3. Attend the mom's night out and Stations of the Cross/Potluck dinner.
4. Attend two Zumba classes.
5. Go to bed by midnight, up before 8am (I know this sounds late, but I'm slowly adjusting).  Definitely didn't succeed at this
6. Plan weekly meals and serve them.  Made all listed but Saturday's meal (had breakfast for dinner)
Mon-Leftover chicken and rice, Tues-Shepherd's Pie, Weds-First t-ball game (eat out), Thurs-pizza (mom's night out), Fri-baked potato/salad bar potluck after Stations of the Cross at church (bring something), Sat-Bacon Ranch slow cooker chicken (use leftovers for King Ranch casserole), Sun-grill

Home Management and Homeschool
7.  Measure and buy wood for upper bunkbed rails now that Thomas can climb!
8.  Start one more sewing project on my list (camera case, stockings, pillow covers, skirts, quilts for kids' beds) and work with girls on their quilts/aprons.  Friday night sewing night at church after potluck.  Did work on a sewing project but not any new ones on the list.
9.  Start getting kids ready for bed at 8:30, lights out at 9pm!
10. Read books with the boys once a day, listen to Ellie read, and encourage MC's fun reading with a book report (buy dry erase marker to use on Story Map poster) 

Monday Motivation
10 Goals for March 26-April 1

 Prayer and Community
1. Attend 7am Mass Monday morning with Cardinal Dolan at local convent!
2. Read the daily mass readings or the Divine Office 3x this week.
3. Pray with the children at bedtime.
4. Attend two Zumba classes.
5. Wake by 7am this week.
6. Plan weekly meals and serve them, but eat less portions myself!
Mon-Chicken Quesadillas, Tues-Some Chicken pasta (Pinterest), Weds-Spaghetti, Thurs-Pasta bake, Fri-Pasta/Pizza potluck after Stations of the Cross at church (bring pizzas/salad?), Sat-Bacon Ranch slow cooker chicken (use leftovers for King Ranch casserole), Sun-grill

Home Management and Homeschool
7.  Measure and buy wood for upper bunkbed rails now that Thomas can climb!
8.  Start one more sewing project on my list (camera case, stockings, pillow covers, skirts, quilts for kids' beds) and work with girls on their quilts/aprons. 
9.  Start homeschool by 9am.
10. Read books with the boys once a day, listen to Ellie read, and work on some book reports with the girls.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

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

One of my new favorite times of the week, piano lessons!  The girls had their 3rd lesson today.  The teacher is such a kind, gentle, quiet soul.  Her home reflects that.  It's an hour of peace in the midst of a busy week.  Thomas has slept through the lessons in the stroller the past 2 times!  She sets out toys for the kids (you can see the Legos), and today they showed the girls a beautiful old dollhouse in the garage.  They were in Heaven!  They cannot wait until piano day, and are doing really well with their lessons, too!

 And some pretty things around my house...
This beautiful framed print of Paris, I got from the thrift store for $5

 And fun fresh flowers making me smile :-)
Today was finally the first t-ball game for Steven Joseph!  Is he cute, or what?  He's been waiting all week for game day.  His favorite part was the snow cone each team member got after the game!

He's 2nd from the left, these boys are just too cute for words!  My favorite part was watching about 10 of them go after the same ball!

He was the team cheerleader, yelling "baseball ready!" and getting all his teammates to yell and cheer for themselves too.  His coach complemented him on that, and for reminding his teammates not to fight over the ball!

Had to add a pic of happy little brother here today on his half-birthday.  I can't believe he's 18 months old!  He was a good sport today having to go to piano, ballet, and the t-ball game.  He spent most of the game yelling for DADDY at 3rd base.  He wanted to be out on the field with the boys!

Okay, so I'm obviously not the best at teaching spelling.  But this list just had to be shared!  I found it on my nightstand this morning.  I'll translate her requests:
"a baby sis, Playmobil Hospital, Kindle, my own room, to move back to Houston, to get a dog or cat, to get a fish, to go to medical school, no more chores, a queen bed, to meet Arden (her cousin in CA), to see Hannah (her friend who moved to FL), to paint my room pink, to sign me up for 4-H (she goes to meetings but I haven't figured out the online registration), and for Uncle Brice to find a job in Corpus Christi.  Dear Mom and Dad, please consider these things.  Love, Mary Clare"
Poor thing.  Most of these requests we have not much control over, whether financially or logistically.  But I love her wishes nonetheless! 

Funny how much a little magazine can make me happy!  I saw on my favorite deal blog that you could sign up for a free subscription (I also got some magazine for the kids a few weeks later, can't remember which one).  So many of the houses featured in the articles are the fun, colorful style that I love, and I had such an enjoyable time looking through this tonight.  I found myself wishing it was digital so I could "pin" a bunch of photos onto my Pinterest boards!

Hubby is really into beekeeping.  Here he is putting the hive together (I think).  If you missed his video of capturing a feral beehive, you might want to watch it (unless you're NeNe!).  It's pretty fascinating.  And just a little bit scary.

Mary Clare explained this as the bees making a queen cell.  She understands all of this better than I do.

Real after-dinner fun.  Poker with Daddy!  Thomas was trying to steal the chips!  My husband is quite a student of life.  From beehives to poker, from sports to cooking...I love the way he enjoys learning and teaching all these things.  Thank you, God, for a husband who can really show me and the kids how to broaden our horizons and learn something new every day.

Wordless Wednesday-18 months old today!


St. Patrick's Day Dinner Party

The day after St. Patrick's Day, we had two families (bringing 9 children with them) over for a nice little dinner party.  Saturday was cleaning and shopping day...

Here are the kids on the real St. Patrick's Day

And the girls shopping at HEB with me, had to try on this hat :)

I'm so glad we found that new kitchen table last week, because we were able to use the old one, along with one of the school tables, to fit the 10 kids in the schoolroom (babies sat with the parents).

Here's one of the tables for the older girls.  We bought one green plastic tablecloth, which was big enough to cut for both the kids' tables.  Also bought the cute little green flowers and some tulips!  It was fun to be able to set places for everyone.  Usually our big meals and parties are just buffet-style, find a spot around the house!

I printed out some pretty St. Patrick color pages (I think they were from this link to CHC, down on the list of coloring pages).  My girls also made the shamrock place cards, and we happened to have some little Holy Trinity shamrock foam crafts from Oriental Trading which had been passed down from someone.  The kids enjoyed making those later in the evening.

Here's the adult table set for the 6 adults and 2 toddlers (there was also a small lap baby).  I bought the tulip plant on clearance.  Tulips are my favorite!  My orchid from our last dinner party/house blessing is still alive back there on the counter!

The wonderful Chef Steven, working on his pork loin and mashed potatoes!  We had a bit of a rush getting the food ready since we'd forgotten that Steven Joseph had t-ball practice right before the party.  Steven took the boys to that while the girls and I decorated, but the cooking part was running a bit behind.  This is when it would be nice to have a kitchen that was open to the living room so you can still visit with guests while they sit and have drinks and appetizers and you finish cooking.  Maybe one day!

Here are the some of the girls working on the coloring pages!  They actually spent a lot of time working on these, while Steven Joseph ran around with his Nerf gun.  I was laughing about how unique it was to have a party of nearly all girls, except SJ and the babies. Definitely a different dynamic!

I made my own green punch, it's just lime sherbet and Simply Limeade.

I made this Irish Soda Bread.  It was delicious!  I made two loaves and we had some leftover (I ate the last scraps with butter just now!).  Just FYI if you haven't made this before, it ends up being a batter you pour in the loaf pans.  The girls and I were confused at why it didn't form a dough and kept adding flour, until I read the recipe enough times to realize it was meant to be poured.  My loaf pans overflowed, so maybe the extra flour was really too much...or I need bigger loaf pans!

Steven made his tasty pork loins.  He uses a hickory rub and sears them in the cast iron skillet, then puts them in the oven for about 20 minutes, I think.  After that he puts Pineapple Habanero jelly on top, usually saving one without the jelly for the picky eaters like Mommy :-)   Not sure why my camera continues to take fuzzy photos...Still haven't learned how to use it well.

I made a rainbow fruit tray (was going to put whipped cream "clouds" at the bottom if we used it for dessert, but a friend brought dessert).  I also served our potato chips and ranch dip, which is usually done with sour cream and the dry ranch dip packet, except that I didn't have enough so we ended up using dry Italian...didn't taste as good.  Paper plates for appetizers and for the kids :-)

So our menu wasn't quite the traditional Irish dinner, but I did make a good Shepherd's Pie tonight, braving it without the Cream of Mushroom soup, so maybe we'll try that next year!  Listing all the foods, we had the pork loin and these raved-about chicken thighs (which I thought tasted too mustard-y, but were much better chopped in a stir-fry last night as leftovers!), our favorite roasted broccoli, mashed potatoes (wanted to try the Colcannon Irish ones but couldn't find good cabbage at the store), Irish Soda bread, green punch, rainbow fruit tray, potato chips/ranch dip, and our friends brought beer, french bread, and a chocolate "dirt pie" for dessert!  

The fun evening was capped off with some great time visiting and getting to know the other two couples (one who's also new to town and both are transplants from other parts of the country and go to our parish and homeschool group).  The kids had a blast and the girls were thrilled to be the "ballet teachers" and put on a show complete with costumes where 4 of the younger kids danced...even Steven Joseph participated, as you can tell in the fuzzy shot below!

Hope you all had a fun St. Patrick's Day!  Anyone have a special meal or craft activity you'd like to share?

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