Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sunny Sunday :)


I dressed everyone in white for some springtime photos on Sunday. First we went to the fountains on the waterway.

my girls

men in khaki :)

with NeNe and PaPa

by the fountain

Then it was off to a nearby park to attempt some shots in the bluebonnets. Didn't turn out that great. We might try again this weekend!

At first Ellie was asleep so here are the others in the grass!

MC, my perfect poser :)

SJ will not look at the camera!

and neither will Ellie!

attempts at sibling shots!

and the girls even got one of Mommy,
for good measure!

Hope that spring is sprouting where you are too!
We had a beautiful day at the art museum today, but no photos from that. But it was a great experience and I hope we can go again soon. Thanks for your continued prayers for our family, especially our little "heart" boy!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kid Update #3-My Heart Baby

Steven Joseph, Jr.

StevenJoseph, Stevie, Steve-O, Joseph, JoJo, Joeyboy

My sweet baby boy. Time for an update on him, as if I don't update on his shenanigans every day! Actually I'll start with the big news on my "heart baby". At a doctor appointment when he was sick in February, the pediatrician detected a murmur and referred us to a pediatric cardiologist, who we saw on Friday. I was ready to check that concern off my list, and even after listening to his heart initially, the cardiologist still thought it was just an innocent murmur.

Well, after an echocardiogram, EKG, and x-ray it was determined that Steven Joseph actually has a hole in his heart, atrial septal defect (ASD), which will likely require open heart surgery. We should hear from the surgeon this week and meet with him soon to find out more details, but the surgery will probably be postponed until he is 2 or 3 or even later. It should not affect his health at all, this is a condition that many people don't discover until adulthood. It is also one of the least severe of the heart defects and one that is very "easily" correctable with patching the hole. But of course I don't call open heart surgery EASY! We are shocked and discouraged about this news, but thankful it's not more serious and hopeful that God has a great plan for our baby and that he holds all our hearts close to his own right now. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support and I'll try to keep updated here when we find out more information.

So back to our sillyboy! Stevie is 15 months old and quite the comedian. He loves getting a laugh (or a scolding) and of course is always getting into mischief! Crayon-eating and table-climbing are some of his favorites. Yesterday during about 30 seconds in the bathroom at a party, he managed to open the (child-locked) cabinets, pull out cleaning supplies, unroll the toilet paper, and splash in the toilet water...each before I could catch him. He's quick! Last week at dance class while I turned my eyes for a moment, I found him down the hall trying to bite off the plastic safety cover from the outlet on the wall! He is something else!

In other news about Mr. Man, he really is a cuddly boy. He loves snuggling with Mommy and has started dragging a blanket from the bed across the house to come and find me to nurse. I was sure thankful that he's still nursing on Friday when he had to be still for over 30 minutes while they did the ultrasound of his heart! Steve-O loves the water! He was thrilled when I let him play with the hose, and was very excited to try out an indoor pool at the Y on Friday. When I ask him if he wants to shower, he walks straight to the shower and grunts that he wants to get in! His new light saber is still his favorite toy. I'll try to add a video below showing the day when he got it!

Steven Joseph doesn't have any definite words that he repeats, but he has been known to say on occasion, "dada, mama, dog, all done, and nonono." I think he is going to be my musician! He can hum on the same note when I'm humming and loves listening and dancing to music. In the photo above, he was totally fascinated by the piano at a baptism party yesterday and spent a long period of time listening to the children playing it and trying to play too! Stevie has turned into a picky eater in the past few weeks. Sometimes I'll put him in his high chair and he'll eat nothing. Sometimes he'll get fixated on a bottle of salad dressing or the salt shaker and throws a fit wanting to have it. The things he does enjoy eating the most are cheese, chicken nuggets, french fries, crackers, cookies, mac n cheese, pancakes, and apples. Sometimes he'll eat other things depending on his mood.

He still usually takes 2 naps, one at 11ish and the other is at about 4, which means that he's usually up too late at night! I need to move that 2nd nap forward, but it just never quite happens right. Sometimes he skips the 2nd nap, but then he is in a bad mood all evening. He still fights the carseat battle, especially on long trips. It's definitely gotten better over the months but it's very hard to have him on road trips. So really, he's just the typical toddler boy, getting into all sorts of mischief, but also getting deeper into his mama's heart! I love each new day with him and so does his daddy! He really is a "daddy's boy" and gets so excited when Steven walks in the door. They could play with the toddler basketball hoop all day long. Sometimes he even chooses his daddy over me! Here are the Stevens at the park last week:

Steven Joseph, your mommy loves you so much. More and more each day. I look forward to watching you grow up alongside your sisters and watching all those silly "boy" things you do. I can't wait for you to start talking and sharing just what's going on in your little head; I'm sure it'll be hilarious! I'm so sad that you'll have to undergo such a serious surgery in the coming years, but I know you will be ever stronger for it. So keep healthy for mama now, and don't give me any more scares with poison control or medical conditions, okay? Better go find my babbling boy for a snuggle...I love you!

(videos won't upload; i'll try again later)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kid Update #2

Ellie Belly Libby Lu!

Our sweet Ellie girl turns 4 in April! She's officially exiting the "toddler" years and growing into a big preschooler. Ellie has also grown a lot over the past months. Pants and jeans that fit her just a couple months ago are now too short! Her hair is growing too, and she prefers to wear it in a ponytail most days. She also has a lot of opinions about her clothes these days. The past week she insists on "a shirt without sleeves touching my arms" and "capwees" (ie capri pants). She wants to wear the same outfit multiple days in a row, so I have to use my creative juices to keep her in clean clothing!

Ellie is a big helper. She almost always gets things for me the first time I ask, and also likes to help her brother and sister when they need something. She was especially generous during the weeks of Mary Clare's knee surgery recovery, being patient and helping out, with great sensitivity towards her sister. She's learning her letters, sounds, and numbers and wants to do schoolwork just like her big sister. She loves to draw, and you might just find her artwork lining the kitchen wall, the sofa table, the pantry, and the door mouldings! She likes to hoard gum and candy, so we also find "ABC" (already been chewed) gum in various places around the house and car. She's quite the chocoholic, and is currently enjoying my special purchase of "magic shell" chocolate syrup on her ice cream! She's a bit of a picky eater...there's not one vegetable she will eat! On a recent trip to Sweet Tomatoes salad bar restaurant, she exclaimed with joy, "My favorite things are crutons, ranch, shredded cheese, and pizza! And the ice cream!"

Ellie loves going to ballet class and is a very talented little dancer. She concentrates very hard on each step, and has been acting a tad silly with her classmates. She loves to climb and I often find her on kitchen counters, and most recently she's been found sitting up on the top shelf of the pantry "hanging out", much to our dismay. But her sweet apologies and hugs after making mischief are enough to melt your heart!

She likes to dress up; in the picture above she's wearing a life jacket and that's all! Purple is her favorite color, and the American Girl doll Elizabeth is her favorite doll. She still takes her pink blankey with her many places. Recently she took the blankey to a restaurant and we got to the car without "ray-ray". I went back in with my sister-in-law and with some persuasion by her, we found out that the bus boy had thrown it in the trash! It looks so raggetty! We had to take it home and wash it; thankfully we still have two of them. I've just realized that I don't have a whole lot of pictures of Ellie by herself. She's hard to keep still and get a picture of, and even harder to get a nice smile. But we love her silly smiles and her silly self. Ellie is a true joy every day!

Ellie, Mommy is so happy to watch you grow and can't wait to celebrate Easter and your birthday next month! You are fun to be around and are always making us laugh. Recently you've been a little bit mischeivious, but I think with all the hoopla going on in our family, you just need a little more attention. I'm excited about teaching you to read and learning with you as we start homeschooling in the next couple years. You are so eager to learn; I know it's going to be a fun adventure! Mommy always loves you!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kid Update #1

I haven't done big updates on the kids for a long while, so here goes!

Mary Clare turned 6 in January. She is growing so much, and looks so tall and thin to me. She enjoys trying to find the perfect pose to have me take her picture, and really likes to take random photos of objects around the house! She loves playing with her dolls. I thought she'd be spending all her time playing with her American Girl doll, but I think she still prefers the baby dolls. She's learning each day to be more generous with her toys, to share with her siblings, and to be obedient. She loves getting to take a "thorn" out of our Lenten crown for good deeds. I know Jesus is so happy to see all the love she is showing and the ways she is growing!

The past few months have shown some major progress in our homeschooling endeavors. I put away some of the "textbooky" stuff for a month or two and now she is so much more willing to do it! I think we're on lesson 65 of 100 Easy Lessons, and she is reading more fluently each day. We're still on "break" from Math U See, trying to master the 8 and 9 addition facts before moving on. Yesterday we bought a big Atlas Activity pack with posters, maps and stickers, which she is really enjoying!

When she looks back on her 5th and 6th year, I'm sure this knee injury, surgery, and recovery will be a big part of her memories. I am so proud of the way that she has undergone so much pain and so many challenging situations. I know it has made us all much stronger and helped her to mature in ways that she might not have otherwise. Today she started physical therapy and did great! By the end of the 1-hr session she had already gained a few degrees of motion in her knee. She'll have lots of exercises and checklists to complete at home too. We're hopeful that after the prescribed 6-8 weeks of physical therapy she'll finally be back to normal after a long 9 months with this injury!

Mary Clare enjoys getting together with her homeschool friends and her cousins. She is doing well in her "Little Flowers" class and is looking forward to joining the swim team and finishing the year of ballet class with the recital in June. She loves spending time at her NeNe's house, especially now that baby Addison is living there! She does all sorts of crafts and artwork at NeNe's; recently she has enjoyed making beaded jewelry and threaded friendship bracelets. She also loves to help me cook! Pancakes are her favorite thing to help with right now, although she is always anxious to help me with whatever I'm making!

Mary Clare, I'm so proud of you! I have been so blessed to spend these 6 years by your side, living and learning together. You are a very smart and thoughtful little girl. Daddy and I are always amazed at how you pick up on things; you are very insightful. You love making cards for other people and putting together special little gifts, like our paper roses for Valentine's Day which you wrapped in tissue paper! I look forward to this spring and summer time and all the fun things we will do together, enjoying this wonderful world God made for us! I am so happy that he made a beautiful girl like you, and that he chose me to be your mother. I love you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weeding and pruning

Steven has done an amazing job with our yard the past couple weeks. This flower bed in particular has gone from weed-infested with mossy tree stump to weeded, pruned, and mulched. I can't wait for the crepe myrtles to bloom and I just know that he's going to save that special rosebush! He salvaged St. Francis from the pit...even though the bottom of the statue is still broken, he can now stand in the new mulch with stones holding him down. The rotting tree stump was evacuated, which I know involved a rope, an ax, and Steven's truck!

I'm very impressed with my husband.

I started this season of Lent with a hopeful optimism, excited about the ways that Christ might be asking me to grow. I was looking forward to the sacrifices, fasting, and deepened prayer life. As with most seasons in my life, I am always surprised by just how different my own plans are from the ultimate will of God.

Suffice it to say that our little family has been weeded, pruned, and rained on, and a new layer of mulch is being laid. Just like the broken statue, the image of Our Lord had fallen out of our sight for a time and needed help to come back to the center of our garden. There are items in our flower beds that needed transplanting. We know with faith that the flowers will bloom again, but the pruned branches are so scratchy and unsightly. Just as this flower bed, we are laid bare in humility and weakness.

But even in looking at that bare flower bed, I know the beauty is coming. I hear the birds singing in the trees; I see one sitting up under our porch. The squirrels scurry up and down the trees and the dog lays in peace under the warm glow of the sun. Sometimes a bright-colored butterfly flutters through my sight. The flowers aren't quite blooming in our yard yet, oh but the azaleas in the yards of others are amazing!

Yesterday I walked back and forth in my sister-in-law's yard, holding my sweet tired baby and feeling the fresh grass beneath my feet. The wind rustled my hair and the birds were singing a sweet song to God. The squirrels ran along the fences and the children played in the distance. Hope.

There is a hope that is just around the corner, a celebration that is just outside our view, a flowering that is so beautiful that we are not able to see it yet. A few nights ago our neighbors were having a party. Late into the night we heard talking and laughing, games and fun. I wanted to be laughing with them. Oh, how I am wishing we had some huge azalea bushes in our yard...colorful and beautiful...and blooming...

We long to be in that place. The celebration. The blooming. But Lent isn't over yet. In fact, we're just past the halfway mark. The road to Calvary is long and hard, the wounds are deep and the Resurrection is just so far away. We might have made it out of Gethsemane, but the road is still difficult and we rely on Simon the Cyrenian to help us along.

So many people are in this place. So many spend years in darkness, days in despair. People die, children go hungry. Crimes are committed against the innocent and the guilty run free. Families are broken apart and people fall ill. What a terrible world we would see if we didn't have eyes of faith, the hope of Christ. For no matter how long the road to Calvary, no matter how painful this Cross, we know the end of the story...

Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.

and this year they will be even more lovely.
I just know it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday

Deep breath. I'm writing this on Thursday evening because my husband has taken ALL THREE CHILDREN to Wal-Mart by himself. I wish I had a video or photo account of this, but couldn't convince him. They are exchanging the bird feeder I bought yesterday; apparently I don't know how to choose appropriate bird feeders, so the Animal Scientist is taking care of it while I get some peace and quiet!

While I'm giving "props" to my husband, I'll note that last week I mentioned the idea (given to me by my friend Bev) of having a little herb planter outside the kitchen window. So the next day, Steven went out and bought me one! And the herbs are sprouting!

I bought the wooden word "JOY" (seen above) in the markdown section at HEB a few weeks ago. It was white with glitter and a hanging snowflake, very Christmas-y. I decided to rip off the snowflake and let the girls go wild painting it, so I can think of JOY every time I'm at the kitchen sink!

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. Jn 15:11

Mary Clare knee update: she is off the brace and walking without crutches! She starts physical therapy next week and will hopefully be back to normal activities by May, in time for swim team and the ballet recital!

Speaking of swim team, today the girls went SWIMMING at a friend's house! They didn't last long in the frigid water, but were very happy when they heated up the jacuzzi! I felt like I had a little slice of summer vacation, sitting in our friend's little outdoor oasis while the girls played and the baby slept in his stroller. Ahhhh.

Hopefully they'll be just as excited to get in the pool for swim team in one month!

As I'm catching up on blogs, I'm feeling a bit of St. Patrick's Day guilt. We didn't do anything special for St. Patty's day this year, just spent the day doing a big house and yard clean-up. It's been a stressful last week, so I have high hopes that I'll plan ahead for some more fun next year. I did buy some of those yummy iced sugar cookies decorated with shamrocks yesterday for our dinner guest (Steven's boss), and we made some white chocolate-covered pretzels with green sprinkles for the baby shower we attended today. But next year, I will do some activities with rainbows, shamrocks, pots of gold, and leprechauns...I will!

My family is back from Wal-Mart (yes, they survived!). They bought a hanging bird feeder for the backyard and made a hanging dish bird feeder for the front porch! Here are the sweet matching girls on the front porch and the little bird who likes to hang out up under the porch. We're hoping he'll stick around! Have a fabulous Friday, all!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My first pizza

Homemade pizza on Friday. Made 2 and they turned out pretty good.

recipe on the back of this

finished product, a bit undercooked

Maybe I'll try again this week. One with pesto added was really yummy!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Children's Museum

On a rainy Thursday afternoon, we met some friends at the museum since our Nature Club had to be canceled. It had been a few years since we'd gone to the local children's museum. Ellie was probably Steven Joseph's age the last time we went, so she was in awe! Here are some highlights...

Ellie was totally fascinated with the kid-sized grocery store!

all 3 of them playing while we waited for all our friends to arrive

Mary Clare digging for dinosaur bones

she found one!

playing with friends at the train table

Ellie did some nice performances for us on the stage,
with her sidekick SJ

a whole SAND ROOM! They had a blast in here!

there was a kayak for boat play

MC painting with friends

Ellie LOVED this virtual dancing video thing!

Hopefully we'll make it back there again soon!
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