Wednesday, May 30, 2012

San Antonio Zoo






 
 
 








Memorial Day and Family Legacy

So, Memorial Day was yesterday, but I couldn't seem to find the time to blog and spent way too long trying to upload a couple of these to Facebook.  We didn't really celebrate Memorial Day in true Americana picnic fashion; we said goodbye to our friends after a honey harvest from our beehive and went out for a diner dinner and drive that evening.  But...we did have a pre-Memorial Day outing the weekend before while in San Antonio!  

All my trips to San Antonio as a child were to visit my grandparents, Nana and Pops.  We visited them most summers and spent many lovely days at parks, zoos, and museums with the family.  It felt odd being in San Antonio without visiting their home.  I sure miss them!  Now this gravesite is the physical marker of my grandparents' life.  It was an honor to be able to pay our respects and see the beautiful Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery.





Before visiting my grandparents, we stopped in front of the house near Ft. Sam where my mom grew up.  It was a very nice visit and was topped off by our trip to the zoo which I'll hopefully share in my next post!
~~~

Also on my heart right now is my brother as he prepares to complete his deployment to the Gulf.  He should be home in a few weeks and I can't wait to see him and his family, especially our sweet one year-old niece who we have yet to meet!  I am so grateful for all our military heroes and for their families, especially their spouses and children, who make such sacrifices for our freedom.  May the souls of the faithful departed, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for peace in the world, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
~~~

Yesterday was also the birthday of Steven's grandfather, his dad's dad, Edward Bradley B.  How special it was to find out that one of Steven's uncles would be visiting us this week!  So, this evening we were blessed with the presence of Uncle Barney to be a light of God's love and mercy to our family.  He is here to visit a dying friend (please offer a prayer for him), but he has also given me a gift.  I am so grateful for the encouragement that family and friends give when I most need it.  I know God is real because he speaks through people and works through prayers.  Thanks to Uncle Barney for being God's messenger of love and mercy and for seeing His works in all things.
~~~

When Mary Clare was taking ballet back in Aggieland, the recital theme was "Legacy" which came from a beautiful song by Nichole Nordeman that has continued to be one of my favorites.  The lyrics to the chorus speak to me about the blessings of the family gone before me.  Will I leave that kind of legacy???

 I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monday Motivation

I'm having a hard time getting through all my goals!  But I still enjoy writing them out and feel it's helpful, even if just to make meal plans.  Last week was a bit of a doozy with the stomach virus.  I don't think I've dealt with that many bodily fluids in a long time.  Every family member except one had the throw-ups, and some had other stomach issues as well.  Like I said in one of my last posts, our friends and their 5 kids still decided to brave the trip to our house for the holiday weekend, even knowing we'd just gotten through a puke-fest and baby wasn't quite feeling well yet.  The morning they were coming, I took the kids out to run errands and he had a NASTY diaper problem, where it was dripping out of his clothes and onto the contents of the shopping cart at Academy.  YUCK! 
 
I put Thomas to bed for the night before our friends arrived on Thursday, and he was fine and happy on Friday for our trip to the Aquarium!  Then he gave us a middle-of-the-night surprise with another puke fest for 3 hours or so.  I skipped out on the beach trip with him the next day, although he was fine after he woke up at NOON!  Not fine, though, was one of our friends Saturday night.  Then we had a great Sunday Mass complete with a child puking on the pew in front of him!  Thankfully, the elderly lady was kneeling while the throw-up hit her seat.  My friend ran to the bathroom with the sick one, while I ran out to the car to get a beach towel.  I sopped it up and then took it outside to try to clean it out with a water hose.  
 
Oh my goodness.  I felt sick all day and was waiting for another of their kids to come down with it.  They're home and I haven't heard of anyone else getting it yet.  Fingers crossed for them!  We also dealt with a lot of fun things that happen when 13 people are staying in one house like toilets overflowing, finding random child poop ball on the carpet, liquid dishwasher detergent flooding the laundry room floor, and purple/black baby food squirted all over the white carpet!

Can you believe another relative is going to brave our house for an overnighter?  We gave him full warning, but Uncle Barney isn't worried and will be joining us Tuesday night.  We really enjoy hosting visitors and hope to have many this summer!  Okay, finally on to my goals...
 
 
Monday Motivation Review
10 Goals for May 21-27
 
 Prayer and Community
1. Continue reading Hallie's Book about Catholic womanhood
2. Pick a scripture for the week, and pray a rosary decade with the children
3. Schedule a visit with the Carmelite Sisters
 
Health 
4. Attend one fitness class
5. Take kids on a nature walk or to a park
6. Plan weekly meals and clean for visitors!
Mon-crockpot cream cheese chicken, Tues-leftovers/breakfast for dinner, Weds-frozen pizza, Thurs-Mon-plan meals with friends!

Home Management and Homeschool
7.  FPU class and homework
8.  Finish school year, 3 tests
9.  Work on blog format, and continue to research cameras.
10. Schedule dental appt, schedule check-ups/find doctor

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Monday Motivation
10 Goals for May 28-June 3
 
 Prayer and Community
1. Continue reading Hallie's Book about Catholic womanhood
2. Pick a scripture for the week, and pray a rosary decade with the children
3. Schedule a visit with the Carmelite Sisters
 
Health 
4. Attend one fitness class
5. Start/register for summer activities for kids (swim team, swim lessons, VBS)
6. Plan weekly meals
Mon-Out, Tues-(uncle visit) tuna/chicken, mashed potatoes and salad, Weds-Pizza, Thurs-Spaghetti, Fri-Pasta bake, Sat-grill, Sun-leftovers

Home Management and Homeschool
7.  FPU class and homework
8.  Update budget info on Mint.com
9.  Work on blog format, and continue to research cameras.
10. Schedule dental appt, schedule check-ups/find doctor

Thursday, May 24, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

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

 
 {pretty}
  Pretty girls at the homeschool conference, which was held at a Catholic high school.  I thought it'd be cute to take a pic of them by the lockers in the hallway.  I love both MC's skirt (resale store) and Ellie's dress (thrift store), pink and purple are always their colors.  And I see that they're also wearing their new miraculous medals here.  Love my beautiful girls who are growing up before my eyes!


{happy}
Happy to share about Our Lady of Fatima at our Apparition Fair to finish off the year with our homeschool group.

Also, very happy to spend an afternoon at the San Antonio Zoo!


{funny}
Dr. Ray Guarendi was the keynote speaker at the homeschool conference.  He was hilarious and we were all laughing the whole time!  And yes, the high school auditorium was nearly full!  It was a wonderful conference and very well attended for the first time it was done in San Antonio. 
 

 
{real}
This week has been a rough one.  A stomach virus hit the whole family.  At one point there were three of us throwing up about the same time.  Miserable.  It only lasted a few hours, but it's just never a fun thing to go through.  Last time we got one right before Christmas, and this time it hit right before some friends were supposed to come visit.  Looks like they're going to brave it, so we are doing some serious cleaning and disinfecting, and praying that we don't spread this virus to anyone else!

Since I was already in the cleaning mode, why not clean out the girls' room?  You'd never know that we've only been in this house for six months if you looked at what was under their beds!  But now the bedrooms are really cleaned out.  I just need to get back on the ball to give them their last few tests so we can officially be done with the 2011-2012 school year!
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!  And thanks for hosting, Rosie!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Baseball Boys with Videos

This spring has been a fun time for baseball!

Thomas playing t-ball in the driveway

SJ in long pants and longsleeved shirt on a hot day, with a knight shield, Texans football helmet, and plastic bat :)


He got tired of baseball and got out his spaceship

He loves to wear big brother's cap backwards

Happy little guy at big brother's last game

Lining up to greet the other team

Go Rangers!

Ellie heads up the snowcone line

And some videos of Steven at his last game, and Thomas in the driveway!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Motivation

Well, since it's already Monday (1:22am to be exact), I'll go ahead and write up my weekly goals.  I should be sleeping, after an exhausting traveling weekend, but now I'm up on adrenaline after one child has been throwing up every 15 minutes.  What a way to end the weekend!  
 
If you could spare a prayer that it would be a quick illness and the rest of us would stay well, we would so appreciate it.  After a slow few weeks, we have a lot of exciting activities and visitors in the coming up, so a stomach virus doesn't really fit into the schedule!  I'd hate to see a repeat of our Christmas let-down 2011 where we were recovering from a tummy bug and missed out on our plans.  Thank you for praying for us!
 

I'll start with a cute pic of SJ with a painting he drew for his friend.  I love being able to take a photo/video of things and quickly send them on my phone to friends and family!  My family was really excited to get some from our trip this weekend.  I'll get the photos up here soon!
 
 
Monday Motivation Review
10 Goals for May 14-20
 
 Prayer and Community
1. Continue reading Hallie's Book about Catholic womanhood
2. Pick a scripture for the week
3. Pray at least a decade of the rosary with the children
 
Health 
4. Attend one fitness class
5. Take kids on a nature walk or to a park
6. Plan weekly meals:
Mon-Grill, Tues-Shepherd's Pie, Weds-Pasta with grilled chicken and salad, Thurs-Quesadillas, Fri-Potluck at church, Sat and Sun-travel

Home Management and Homeschool
7.  FPU class and homework
8.  Work on school plan for Steven Joseph, Apparition project with girls
9.  Kids laundry beginning of week, our laundry end of week
10. Schedule dental appt, schedule check-ups/find doctor, have windows repaired




Monday Motivation
10 Goals for May 21-27
 
 Prayer and Community
1. Continue reading Hallie's Book about Catholic womanhood
2. Pick a scripture for the week, and pray a rosary decade with the children
3. Schedule a visit with the Carmelite Sisters
 
Health 
4. Attend one fitness class
5. Take kids on a nature walk or to a park
6. Plan weekly meals and clean for visitors!
Mon-crockpot cream cheese chicken, Tues-leftovers/breakfast for dinner, Weds-frozen pizza, Thurs-Mon-plan meals with friends!

Home Management and Homeschool
7.  FPU class and homework
8.  Finish school year, 3 tests
9.  Work on blog format, and continue to research cameras.
10. Schedule dental appt, schedule check-ups/find doctor

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

{pretty, happy, funny, real}

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

 
 {pretty}
 My pretty ballerina all dressed up to practice in her costume today!

And a pretty Saturday morning at the beach with the Little Flowers group.  It was supposed to be a pool party, but the hosts were having issues with their pool chemicals, so we drove down the street to the beach.  It was a nice morning out with the girls (and Thomas) while the boys went fishing!  I really enjoyed the time visiting with the other moms after Daddy picked up the baby on his way home from fishing :)


{happy}
Happy boys playing in the driveway one morning this week.

And a very happy little brother playing with a baseball at his big brother's last t-ball game.  He's always SO happy to see Daddy at the end of the day!

{funny}
On Wednesday nights we have our Dave Ramsey Financial Peace course at church.  It's a bit funny to have a big screen TV in the middle of the sanctuary.  But the hardest part is genuflecting.  I feel like I'm genuflecting to Dave!  Tonight the video had already started and I just couldn't do it...maybe I should come in from the side of the aisle so I can see the tabernacle while genuflecting!


{real}
Steven Joseph had a great t-ball season, but let's be real, their favorite part of the game is when it's over and they get to run off the field to get in line for snow-cones!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Memories

I didn't take one photo yesterday but I have some nice memories to store in my mind.  I woke up to waffles and bacon in bed, with flowers from our yard, and even the baking sheet was wrapped in colorful paper!  Mary Clare gave me a project she'd made in secret this week.  She'd taken a small glass vase and used Modge Podge to decorate it with torn tissue paper, including some cut out to spell MOM.  Steven offered to get me a camera, but I'm not sure I'm ready to spend money on that when I don't have a very good track record.  Still considering that.  I was just so glad that Steven didn't have to go out of town, which almost happened on Saturday night just as we were about to go out to an early Mother's Day dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  Thankfully they found a temporary fix to a problem on an oil well, and got in touch with the on-call technician before he had to drive there.

So back to Sunday morning, everyone was dressed up and we got to church early, and it turned out they were doing a May Crowning at the beginning of mass.  The children were all given a flower and they processed up to the Mary Statue.  We sang some beautiful Marian hymns, and Steven took the baby to the back so I actually got to follow the homily! 

After Mass was donuts and a brunch on the church deck with a beautiful cool breeze.  The kids played wonderfully and I had a lovely time visiting with the other moms.  We left at about 2pm (after attending 10am mass), and went home for a short rest time.  I was determined to make it to the free Zumba class nearby, which I did (and I'm sore today even though it didn't feel like a great workout).  Then I went to the grocery store while Steven and the kids picked up the house...such a gift!  We had a feast of leftovers for dinner and I baked some cookies (store-bought dough).

After a somewhat rough couple of weeks, this day was joy to my weary soul.  There haven't been any big stresses, just some exhaustion with late-night children's needs, frustration with behavior issues, readiness to finish the school year, and some longing for our old hometown during the time that is always filled with activities and celebrations.  But we have a lot to look forward to as this week will start a season of fun with visitors and a couple out-of-town trips.  I know it will be good for my soul to spend time with friends and family, watch the girls perform, start swim team, attend a homeschool conference, and get out of town a bit.

What I realized this Mother's Day as we mark six months in an unfamiliar town without family or close friends, our own little family is at a place where we have a very good home life.  We don't have the stresses or time constraints from activities and Steven's old job and commute.  We don't have to worry about repairs for the house where we live, our home is better organized and easier to clean, we can enjoy the ocean and the breeze, and we are much more stable financially (and working on that thanks to the Dave Ramsey class!).  I am so grateful that God has us here for this season, and that he is bringing peace and joy to our hearts and souls.

In Father's homily at mass yesterday, he spoke about JOY, and described it as an inner peace that results in outer happiness.  I thought that was good food for thought.  Here's my JOYFUL little windowsill above the sink that reminds me to find joy in doing the little things like the dishes!  Mary Clare's vase gift is on the left with the bluebonnets :)


And I must end here before I go and buy a Canon Rebel right this minute because that photo is so bad!  Haha.  It was a Happy Mother's Day for sure!  And my four little blessings make me a truly joyful mama!

Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation Review
10 Goals for May 7-13
 
 Prayer and Community
1. Continue reading Hallie's Book about Catholic womanhood
2. Pick a scripture for the week
3. Pray at least a decade of the rosary with the children
 
Health
4. Attend one fitness class
5. Take kids on a nature walk or to a park
6. Plan weekly meals:
Mon-Skinny Chicken Alfredo, Tues-Quesadillas, Weds-Frozen pizza, Thurs-Baked chicken and rice, Fri-Breakfast for dinner, Sat-Grill, Sun-Leftovers

Home Management and Homeschool
7.  FPU class and homework
8.  Work on school plan for Steven Joseph, Apparition project with girls
9.  Kids laundry beginning of week, our laundry end of week
10. Schedule dental appt, have windows repaired, get new license, make hotel reservation for homeschool conference 

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Monday Motivation
10 Goals for May 14-20
 
 Prayer and Community
1. Continue reading Hallie's Book about Catholic womanhood
2. Pick a scripture for the week
3. Pray at least a decade of the rosary with the children
 
Health 
4. Attend one fitness class
5. Take kids on a nature walk or to a park
6. Plan weekly meals:
Mon-Grill, Tues-Shepherd's Pie, Weds-Pasta with grilled chicken and salad, Thurs-Quesadillas, Fri-Potluck at church, Sat and Sun-travel

Home Management and Homeschool
7.  FPU class and homework
8.  Work on school plan for Steven Joseph, Apparition project with girls
9.  Kids laundry beginning of week, our laundry end of week
10. Schedule dental appt, schedule check-ups/find doctor, have windows repaired

Sunday, May 13, 2012

MOMS

On this Mother's Day, I pray for all the mothers in my life...my mom and mother-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, and friends.  May you be blessed with FAITH, that your mind will trust and believe in the God who made you.  May you live with HOPE, that your eyes will look forward to the good things to come, in this world and in the next.  May you be filled with LOVE, that your husband and children (and grandchildren) will always bring smiles and joy to your heart.  And may the blessings of Almighty God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be with each of you today and forever.

I love you!
~Blair :-)


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Timber, our faithful friend. 1998-2011

This post has been in the drafts folder for months.  Steven had mentioned writing it, but it never quite happened.  I think I've been avoiding it, because it brings up the grief that I still hold in my heart, missing my house and my dog and my hometown.  But anyway, here's his story...

Steven had always wanted a yellow lab.  I think it was for his 22nd birthday (1998, the year we started dating) that I got him a stuffed yellow lab named Timber.  But just a few weeks later, he could no longer wait for the "real thing," and we were off on a little road trip to pick up our first puppy.  If I remember correctly, Timber was actually my pick.  I thought he looked smaller than the other pups in the litter, and his nose was less-pointy.  We took him back to Steven's apartment, and there began the months and years of trying to keep our dog in a rented apartment.  Some of the places, he was allowed, others he wasn't.  He spent some months with "grandparents" and came to visit us often. His first few weeks in Steven's little apartment were quite humorous.  I think he chewed up an entire leather belt, half a boot, and the bottom of the bathroom door!  He spent many days at SJV, the community house in Bryan where we both lived at different times, and he was like our house's little mascot.

Just a few weeks after we got him, Timber got very sick.  We think he had Parvo.  Steven took him to the University vet clinic, who didn't give us a whole lot of hope, but told us we could try a saline under the skin (kind of like an IV drip) to see if that might hydrate him and help him recover.  Sure enough, he did get better, and went on to live 13 happy years!


Timber loved to run.  He loved to escape.  I distinctly recall Steven letting Timber run down the streets of the neighborhood where I grew up (our first apartment was there).  He drove alongside Timber and let him tire out.  I think he got away a few times at both my parents' and Steven's parents' homes, but his escapes at our last house were many and often.  It seemed like several times a month we'd find our back wrought-iron gate open (it didn't close right), or someone would yell that he got away, and I'd have to load up the kids in the car to go on a Timber hunt, or if Steven was home, he'd chase after him on his bike.  Sometimes Timber would just be down the street and I'd have to drive alongside him for a block or two before he'd tire out and agree to jump in the car.  Sometimes the police would find him and threaten to ticket us since he wasn't "registered" with the city.



In his early years, Steven worked with him on retrieval skills for hunting, but I don't think he ever quite measured up to that ideal hunting dog.  But he loved playing fetch and jumping in the water at the ponds.  I'm pretty sure this photo which we have framed was taken at a park in College Station, with Steven's maroon Dodge Ram in the background.  Looks like he was ready for a swim!


Timber was great with the kids, as you can tell by the photo here of little Ellie sitting on him!  In his early years, he loved to jump.  He would jump straight up the air, especially when he was excited to see Steven.  But in his later years, he just spent his days basking in the backyard sunlight, happy as could be.  He had some arthritis, cataracts, and had a crazy flea infestation just before the wild days of the 2008 Hurricane Ike.  But he was a happy dog.

One day he escaped and we couldn't find him for a day or two.  Someone suggested I check our online classifieds and sure enough, there was a picture and description of Timber in the lost animal section.  The kind lady who found him had been part of a rescue organization so she spoiled him and even took him to the vet!

I think one of our funniest Timber memories was from Easter 2010.  The Easter Bunny must have stopped by when it was still dark.  By the time the morning rolled around, we went outside to find that Timber had had his own Easter party!  He had opened every single egg that was within his reach and ate all the contents.  Thankfully it was just fruit snacks, Teddy grahams, and Oreos and not candy!  Doesn't he look guilty in the photo?  We had quite a laugh that morning!


The week that we were first going to check out our new hometown last July, Timber got sick with some kind of seizure-type illness.  We almost had him put down because we were very worried that he was suffering.  But after a few days (and care from our kind neighbors), he recovered and was back to himself!

Timber loved running around out at Little Way Farm, so when it came time to prepare for our move in mid-November, we opted to take Timber out there to spend his final days at the farm.  It was a difficult goodbye, especially for the children (as we were spending lots of time saying goodbye to friends, too), and I regret not taking a picture or taking some time to say goodbye to our faithful 13 year-old friend.  I was having too hard a time with goodbyes those days.  It was a busy time for all of us, and we had to make the decision that the farm would be a good place to spend his final days.  Just a few short days later, the farm helper found Timber had passed away.

Steven often said that he hoped he'd be half the man that his dog thought he was.  I think that's a good lesson for us all.  Our faithful pets know only the good things about us, they find their joy in simple things like a scratch on the ears, running down the street, or basking in the sunlight.  Timber was a good dog and we have many happy and funny memories.

Now, 6 months out from this loss, the kids would of course love to have another dog.  But here in a rental home with frequent trips away and no place for a dog to stay, we think it's best to wait.  And I admit that the four kids keep me busy enough these days!  Still we look forward to having another dog at some point.  But none will match with our fondness for our first family dog.  Timber Land Bailey.  May he rest in peace.


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