Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Joyful Sister of Life!

My dear friend Sister Mary Clare (one of Mary Clare's namesakes!) visited this week. We got to see her give a beautiful testimony to a college group and then spent some time the next morning visiting at the student center with her and a group of friends and their kiddos! It was a memorable experience of LIFE with children everywhere and our joyful Sister of Life basking in it all. Then we walked to an on-campus daily mass and ate at the dining hall! That was humorous, eating with toddlers in a college cafeteria! Such a fun day!

My first college friend!
We were in "fish camp" together and I remember her with her bible,
spending quiet time in prayer each day on her top bunk in the cabin.
We became great friends and lived together in a Catholic community.
I hope our friendship will continue over the years and the states.
Please pray for her ministry to women in crisis pregnancies.

Friends and kids visiting with Sister:

And the girls' favorite part of the day...
eating at the on-campus dining hall and getting rainbow popsicles!
See Sister in the background...
I wonder what the students were thinking...
Four beautiful young nuns eating in a public university cafeteria!

"Too the Zoo Again! Just can't wait to go to the Zoo Again!"

We went back to the zoo last weekend with the family. It was a fun trip with beautiful weather, only problem was the horrible crowd; it took us about 20 minutes to find a parking space!


The famous Super-Aunt Jill (who comments here sometimes and is probably my most faithful visitor!) with the kids at the aquarium. Imagine dozens of children yelling "It's NEMO!"

And one of the most favorite attractions: meerkats.
I don't think you can see them in the pictures; I'd never heard of them.
But they're like little prairie dogs and the kids love to watch them!
I love the way Mary Clare is gazing at her cousin E in this picture.
She adores her older cousin!

More of Thanksgiving week

Ellie loves grown up shoes these days. Too cute!

Another of sweet Ellie-Lu on her cousin's bouncy horse. She loved this!

This is why I don't have a Christmas card picture that I like yet! I have to bribe Mary Clare to get her to take a picture (hence the Lifesaver), normally she runs from cameras or makes funny faces. Then Ellie either runs away right when I have them posed, or she is fussy and wants to hold her blankey and suck her fingers. We'll see what comes of my Christmas card attempts!

For mom: I love this one! (these are my parents w/ my bro and his wife)

He's in the Navy Now!

My little brother left for Basic Training yesterday. He'll be gone for a few months and will miss Christmas with the family :( Please offer a little prayer for Brice and his wife Allison (they've only been married 6 months!), and for our family who will miss him so. But hopefully it will be a beautiful new adventure for their family! Here are Brice and Allison with the girls last week:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Some Thanksgiving pics

The cousins loved icing their sugar cookie turkeys!

And here's our game of "Cocktail Party". We each pick a person or thing (we had a Thanksgiving theme), and we go around guessing who everyone might skill really...we just try to guess who might have chosen turkey or sweet potatoes or whatever. Well, we rigged it so Steven would win and get his Apple Gift Card graduation gift.

Here he is nailing one person after another, thinking he's winning the game:

"I am the champion!"

And finally, he gets the gift card (many thanks to the B family and V&E!) and realizes he has been duped! We got him good!

More pics to come...still getting the hang of this iMac thing!

Mac Daddy!

He bought his iMac. We have officially turned into a Mac computer-using family. So I'll have to relearn the photo stuff and will try to post some of our Thanksgiving pics this weekend (wow, it even does spell check for me here!). We're about to go to daily mass where we'll have the blessing of seeing a friend of mine who is now a religious Sister of Life named Sister Mary Clare! Five of the Sisters are visiting here this week and I'm THRILLED to get to see my old friend :) Hope everyone is recovering from Thanksgiving. I'm still hyped up but that's because I'm hoping to finish all my Christmas shopping and Advent preparations this week. Lots to do!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


"I am the Good Shepherd...I know mine and mine know me."

I am most thankful for my Good Shepherd who loves me so.
I am thankful for my family, especially my husband and daughters who bring me joy every day.
I am thankful for my Church, which offers me a tangible means of experiencing Christ through the sacraments.
I am thankful for my friends, who teach me how to love and show me how to be a better mother.
I am thankful for my home, my clothing, and my food. God has been gracious indeed!

Steven being the youngest in the family, we're not in charge of much. Rolls and ice! But I really wanted to make something homemade, so I made knot rolls (using a fabulous Challah bread recipe) and sugar cookie turkeys which I'm hoping to let the kids decorate. Now in Steven's family there are 7 nieces and nephews ages 1-5 with triplets on the way. The holidays are going to get more and more fun! We'll probably have a kickball game, and spend time visiting my in-laws' newly remodeled home and my sister-in-law's possible new home! It's going to be so much fun, now with his parents and 3 siblings all living within blocks of each other.

I've got to pack up everything and get us all dressed to go to Thanksgiving Mass, then we'll be off..."to grandmother's house we go!"

My meager Thanksgiving contribution:

Another Reminder:

Do not bring children shopping. Especially to stores like TJ Maxx that have carts that 3 year-olds like to push around with their baby doll in it, running into other people and filling the cart with things we aren't buying. Do not go to the wall of toys for children to admire. And don't attempt to go in the dressing room with a toddler and preschooler, because they WILL run wild, laughing and slamming doors, and finding someone else's lipgloss to eat. When your daughter wants to carry a toy through the store in "her" shopping cart, DON'T let her. Because when you get to the check-out and ask her to give the toy back to the checker, she WILL throw a screaming fit and run around the store hiding from you.

Thankfully I'm not too self-conscious or I would've been REALLY embarrassed, dragging my crying children out of the store. Learned my lesson. Children will only go grocery shopping and not to stores with toys. If there are toys in the store, we will NOT go to that area. We WILL discuss ahead of time what we will be purchasing and that will NOT include a $15 toy dog cage. We will also NOT go shopping when it's lunchtime and children are whiney. How can shopping still be a stress relief for me? I have no idea, because most people would steer far clear of situations like that after a day like today. I'll probably try again on Friday :-/

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Reminder to self:

When you let the kids go wild with paints at the kitchen table, and they're covered in paint from head to toe, and you have a loving husband willing to give them a bath....

PLEASE remember to prepare the spaghetti dinner before you send them to the bath. Or else you'll just end up at the bath again (and this time with a screaming baby who for some reason was terrified of her parents' bathtub)!

Christmas Planning

So I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to fix up this dollhouse for Mary Clare. It's my old one and is big and beautiful, but the more I look at it, the more I realize it needs a lot of work. I'm wondering if I'd be better off just buying this and saving the "real" dollhouse to fix up when the girls are older. (By the way, I just read that Wal-Mart will no longer support controversial organizations and the AFA is recanting it's suggestion to not shop there the days after Thanksgiving!) I've already bought some Fisher Price Loving Family dolls and furniture because the wooden stuff just breaks too easily with the little ones. Maybe I'd just be better off buying a new house too (Steven, you're not reading this are you?)...

Ellie will probably get this for Christmas. I was so surprised to find a tricycle where her feet would reach the pedals! She LOVES bikes, almost as much as balls, so she will be thrilled!

Ooooh, but looking further I see something she would really love! It's so much fun being a mommy and thinking of just what your kids will like for Christmas.

But more importantly, I hope to get started on some Advent planning so we can really focus on the season and preparing for Christ's birth. We'll also be celebrating St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, which is coming up soon! We're still figuring out exactly what our family traditions will be, especially as regards St. Nick/Santa. Mary Clare is old enough now to know what's going on and we can't just avoid Santa this year. Although I did avoid the Santa Wonderland display when mall-walking today; I just wasn't ready for the questions at what that huge castle and throne were. Maybe I'll just tell her the throne is for Jesus, and make sure to ONLY go to the mall when he's not there! Don't think that would work for long though. She's too observant and inquisitive.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

My Favorite Dress

I absolutely love this dress, a hand-me-down from my niece. Smocking really makes my heart melt! Isn't she a doll? This is after church on Sunday.

Grandparents are Great!

The girls love their NeNe and PaPa and were also very excited to spend the weekend visiting with my two aunts! We had a nice relaxing visit and enjoyed the going away party for my brother who enters the Navy next week. We're looking forward to more time with family this weekend!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thankful Thursday (a day late)

Our Thursday was truly a day to be thankful for friendships, for the creatures God has given us, and for the gift of holy priests! Here are some pictures of our trip to the zoo with some wonderful friends.

The girls and the giraffes in the background:

Elephants! The new baby had just been named "Mac" the day before! He was the largest elephant born in captivity, hence the name. Everyone was SO excited to see the elephants:

There is a nice Children's Zoo area with a petting zoo. My girls are pretty scared of animals in general, so it was shocking when Mary Clare asked "Mommy, can you help me go in the petting zoo?" They each gave this little goat "Flora" a quick pet, and that was it! But I was proud of them:

The rhino was SO big and SO close!

Flamingos are fun!

The orangutans were really fascinating to watch!

We're missing 3 of Lillian's kids here, but here's most of the group of kids from yesterday. Such a fun outing!

We got home from the zoo just in time to tidy the house and prepare fajitas for Father Brian. We'd scheduled him for dinner about 2 months ago and the day finally arrived! He is an AMAZING young priest and one of the best preachers we've ever heard! He had some beautiful stories to share and it was great to learn more about him.

The girls warmed up to him very quickly and by the end they were reading stories (here they're reading "Angel in the Waters") and climbing all over him! We're so thankful for the gift of holy priests.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Zoo Tomorrow

Have you heard this kids' song?
"Mommy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow.
Mommy's taking us to the zoo tomorrow, we can stay all day.
Going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How about you, you, you?
You can come too, too, too. We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo."

I think I'm more excited than they are! Should be a wonderful day to visit with some friends and share God's beautiful gift of wildlife with the girls. Mary Clare hasn't been since she was about 1 1/2 and Ellie has never been. I'll post pictures when we get back.

Please send up more prayers for Steven as he continues his interviews and his last month of classes! Yay! I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving. Where did 2006 go? I'm looking forward to the new blessings of 2007!

Contemplative and Conquering

I heard a talk last night on these 2 aspects of the Christian life. I thought I would share some thoughts that jumped out from my notes and got me thinking about my prayer life.

-Christ was a man of prayer and action.
-We must learn about prayer at the Eucharist and spend substantial amounts of time there, asking for great love from the Lord.
-Our dreams and hopes should be born at the Eucharist, problems should be brought to him there and thanksgivings given there.
-Contemplative and conquering are what we should become: contemplating Christ, and conquering ourselves as he teaches us how to love.
-We should let him conquer others through our own self-giving.
-We should continually be receiving and giving, a cicular process of filling ourselves with Christ and giving him to others.
-Our Lady was a true example of being contemplative and conquering. At the wedding feast she told us to turn to Christ and do whatever he tells us.
-We must persevere to find perfection in him. Pope Benedict XVI said, "We were not created for an easy life, but for great things, for goodness."
-When asked how he can sleep at night with all the problems and crises in the Church, our Holy Father responded, "I sleep very well, thank you." That should be an example to us that we should sleep well and rest in the promise that Christ has already defeated death. If we can just be open to the graces he desires for us, we can do great things through him, and allow his Kingdom to reign in our hearts and on the earth.

Your Kingdom Come!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Children's museum

Yesterday afternoon we visited the area Children's museum for the first time with some friends. The girls enjoyed coloring turkeys:

Mary Clare, the princess surgeon. Gotta love the life-sized Operation game!

And of course the day wouldn't be complete without Ellie getting attached to a ball. She's saying "BOOOOL" here:

A weekend without Daddy always seems to be an adventure! Ellie had a big fall on her head in a rocket ship in the museum and wouldn't play for about 15 minutes. Then after the museum, we went out to a Mexican restaurant with our friends. Ellie started coughing and choking on a tortilla chip. Then she was gagging and not breathing so I did the Heimlich on her (Yet after just googling Heimlich to make sure I was spelling it right, I realized I did it wrong. I thought I was supposed to hit her back and put my fist under her ribcage. Guess I need a refresher course!). Then last night Mary Clare awoke once again with coughing fits throughout the night. After a trip to the steamy bathroom at 2am, she finally slept through the night. I think the girls are really allergy-prone. I'm hoping it's mostly the issues of moving to this area, and maybe with our hopeful move things will be better in 2007. If not, I'm starting to think MC might have asthma :-/

Awaiting Daddy's arrival and our late evening Mass. Not sure how this is going to go with the time change. Ellie's almost asleep on the floor already.

He's home! Yay!

Friday, November 10, 2006

This week...

A friend I've known since elementary school was visiting from out of state with her new baby boy. She and her sister made cookies with the girls. They had so much fun!

Ellie enjoys the crushed ice better than the cookie-making! Mary Clare works on mixing in the background:

Mary Clare happy with cookie dough:

The girls love the little baby boy. Ellie points, cocks her head, and says "baby!"

We go to the park a lot! Here's Mary Clare looking so big; I can't believe she's nearly 4!

I love the smile on Ellie's face here:

I think this will be a nice relaxing weekend at home before the storm begins...More interviews and several trips to H-town next week. Then it's already Thanksgiving week! Please keep Steven in prayer in this (hopefully) final round of interviews. God-willing we'll find a job and house in the next few weeks.

I started doing some Christmas shopping tonight! Maybe I'll finish before December so we can really focus on Advent and not do our usual night-before-Christmas shopping spree. I still remember the Christmas Eve when Mary Clare was due the next day and we spent the afternoon racing around the Galleria. We even missed Mass with Steven's family and had to go on Christmas morning. You would think that would've thrown me into labor, but no. Mary Clare was content to wait until the new year!

I started clearing out the toys under the couch a little bit ago. Scary. I had started storing some toys, like puzzles and flashcards under there, but tonight I found everything BUT puzzles and flashcards! Books, kichen toys, trash, crayons, fridge magnets (the NEW ones), animals, dress-up shoes. Yeeps! Must go finish cleaning and go to bed.

I realized tonight why it's so hard for me to go to bed at night. It's my only time of peace and quiet! Just me, the computer, and the wind howling outside...ahhh.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Music really helps with memory!

I remember lyrics from songs I learned in 3rd grade. I plan to teach many memorization concepts through song when I homeschool. The best one I created while teaching 1st grade was a song called "There are Seven Sacraments" to the beat of "We Will Rock You." Over the course of a few weeks I also taught them the Ave Maria latin chant by teaching a few lines each day. They sounded so beautiful!

Just a few minutes ago, Mary Clare was in her room singing "La vaca hace mu." (The cow says moo) We checked out a "We learn Spanish" tape from the library and both Mary Clare and I are learning more Spanish this week!

Ellie can say Jesus! Yay!

Oh and Lillian, she's in a Motherease diaper. Thanks again :) I'm back to cloth diapering at home.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Pray for Hans

I'm starting to think I know too many people :-/
Just found out that a little boy we knew from a church mom's group, who is about Mary Clare's age, has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer. Please pray (especially the rosary) for his healing and for his family. Here is his blog:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Ever feel like this?

Is there a basket for you that's too high to reach? Today at the park Ellie saw a man playing basketball and wanted so hard to try to make a basket with her soccer ball. She didn't try, just held it up and stared at the basket. So sweet! Finally, she handed it to me and I threw it in a few times :)

What is the basket that you're trying to reach? I guess for most of us, we're ultimately trying to reach Heaven. The thing is, we can't make it there ourselves. So just like I had to take the ball and make the basket for Ellie, Christ has made the sacrifice so we can share eternity with him. Nice analogy?

But then there are the little baskets that we just can't seem to make each day. My housework is one of those things. Just can't get on top of it. Another problem is my internet addiction ;) And I haven't even been blogging much! But my biggest problem right now is just finding peace amidst the chaos. My mind is spinning in so many different directions, thinking about my daily activities, our future family plans, the girls' health, the holidays coming up, frequent trips out of town, and so on.

What I need to realize is that Christ can make those baskets for me. He can make up for what I am lacking and grant me the peace I need to live in his will. Tonight I had a Gospel Reflection on the poor widow's contribution (part of upcoming Sunday's Gospel reading). It reminded me how I need to not just give from my surplus, be it surplus money, energy, enthusiasm, creativity...but to give what I don't have, that which only Christ can provide for me. Because in my weakness, that's where he is strong. That's where I learn to rely on him. That's where I learn trust and surrender.

Help me Lord, to rely on you in my little weaknesses, especially my housework, my computer usage, and my anxious thoughts. May I look to your Mother who lived a life of peace and abandon. May I be inspired by the other mothers I know in real life and in the internet world, to love you with a simple, faithful, and passionate love. And may I serve my family and your Church with great trust in your mission for me. Thank you for reminding me of all my blessings.

And here are some other pics of my blessings:

Mary Clare being camera-shy with her soccer ball and cones from her Aunt Jill who taught her how to play soccer this weekend. Thanks Jill! Also note her new boots; she is absolutely thrilled to have boots like her daddy for when she goes to the ranch and cattle auction!

Ellie again loving on her soccer ball. They really had a hard time sharing these with the other kids at the park!

And both girls heading to the park last week (it's been really nice park weather!). They're holding their painted pumpkins along with doll paraphernalia which always comes along on car rides.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Jumbled thoughts

"Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat,
Pleased to put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny
Then a hay penny will do.
If you haven't got a hay penny
Then God bless you!"

Anyone remember that one from elementary school music class? Speaking of music class, there's a fabulous little FREE music class called "Music Makers" put on at the Mormon church in my area. We've now gone twice and have really enjoyed it. It starts with singing welcome songs and one of the moms plays the piano. Then we split into groups and go to different rooms. In one we sing thematic songs (now we're starting Thanksgiving songs), in another we march around the gym with musical instruments, and in the other we say some nursery rhymes. Then we all go in the gym for singing with the bubble machine blowing bubbles, then play with one of those big parachutes with balls, and then sing and dance some more. We end with a story and goodbye song together. It's a nice ministry they have for young children and moms.

Now with the weather cooling off a bit, I've got Advent on the mind! I got out all our Christmas books and we've started reading some of them. Last night Mary Clare chose one about the Jesse Tree, a tradition which I've wanted to start for awhile. So I spent some time last night looking at Jesse Tree ideas on the internet. Here's the one I liked the most. I'll let you know as I start trying to create these ornaments.

These next few weeks are going to be so hectic...interviews continuing, Thanksgiving plans, Steven's parents moving into their new remodeled house, perparing for the triplets' arrival, Christmas shopping, Advent preparations, Steven's finals, and hopefully a move for us at the end of the year! It makes me just a little anxious (haha, more like it makes me feel sick) thinking about it all. Once again, I need to go back to my rainbow post and the scripture that sits in front of me:

"O Lord, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and when I stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and rest you mark; with all my ways yiou are your book all were written down; my days were shaped before one came to be. How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them!" Psalm 139

Must go pack for another trip this weekend...
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