Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tired Mama

This morning I was laughing at what I was hearing...One child who wanted to watch a show on the computer, one who wanted to go out for donuts, and one who was crying for me not to get in the shower. Now this afternoon he's sobbing because he found a shield and helmet and insists on going to the store wight now to buy a sword, while the girls have set up an egg hunt around the house.

It's been one of those weeks so far. One where Mama feels exhausted and kids are demanding attention. On Monday I thought I was just recovering from our weekend trip. Yesterday I felt nearly as tired, especially after wrangling the kids down the street to the first swim team practice and handling the dinner/bedtime dance without Daddy's help.

I had some energy this morning while we ran errands, only to arrive home and feel like I was going to pass out while doing the dishes. I spent about an hour resting in bed while directing things around the house, and now we have a frozen pizza in the oven, ready for lunch and naptime before ballet and swim practice this evening.

I really thought I had gotten over the "hump" of the first trimester, but I think it's going to be an ongoing battle between my "aging" body (which is growing another person!) and my desire to be up and about and enjoying these gorgeous days with my kids. But as I was relaxing in my bed just a bit ago, I was still enough to feel those little movements...those little kicks that tell me it's all worth it...that remind me that this tiny life inside me needs me to slow down. It also makes me think of those newborn days that are coming again. Oh to cradle that sweet, helpless child in my arms! I can hardly wait to meet him or her.

Thanks for listening to my continual whines. Hopefully I'll have some more happy life reflections soon!


In other news, on the prayer request front...I'd been asking for prayers for my good friend's sister Juliana, who had a kidney transplant on Good Friday. She was finally released from the hospital about a week ago to head back home. Thanks be to God for her continued healing! And thanks be to God for generous organ donors like her friend Leslie.

On a similar note, my friend Sarah's 3 year-old son Cooper had a small bowel and colon transplant yesterday. He has had feeding problems since birth and has recently been diagnosed with a mitochondrial syndrome. The hope is that this surgery will improve his quality of life, allowing him to eat normal foods, instead of receiving all his nutrition through a central line, and thereby prevent excessive hospital stays to to continual line infections. Please pray for the continued healing of little Cooper in the many months of recovery ahead. Also offer a prayer for the young child whose organs he received, and the generous family who chose to give the gift of life while grieving the loss of life in their own family.

On a more happy note, we're thrilled that our niece Emily, pictured in the trip below, will be receiving her First Holy Communion on Saturday! Please offer a prayer for her and for all First Communicants, as they prepare to receive Our Lord's Precious Body for the first time. It's hard to believe that Mary Clare will be doing the same at this time next year. I was in tears reading Kristen's Blog Post earlier today, an excerpt from the homily of her daughter's First Holy Communion this weekend. Beautiful.

Finally, I've been asking on Facebook and my message boards for camera recommendations. I'd really love to move up to an SLR camera in the near future. I think I'd really enjoy learning about photography! It looks as if my Fuji has kicked the bucket. It won't turn on at all. And I can't go much longer with fuzzy iPhone photos, especially in this kind of weather! Any recommendations? I think so far the top rec is the Nikon D5000, followed by the more expensive Canon Rebel xTi.

Okay, pizza time! Hopefully the day improves and Mama gets me some more energy!

Monday, April 26, 2010

American Girl Place

We celebrated Ellie's 5th Birthday with a special Girls' Weekend to Dallas! Too bad my camera seems to have died, so fuzzy iPhone photos will have to do!

Off we went with the generous Aunt Mary who was so kind to drive us all weekend. Thank you so much, Mary! The boys back home had a great time with outings to the pool, an Astros game, and Mass. Apparently SJ hardly even realized we were gone!

Here are the girls at the famous Buc-ee's rest stop, with a nice friendly Native American!

We arrived at Aunt Pam's house on Saturday afternoon and the girls went straight to her pool! They had a blast swimming in the hot tub, and trying out the frigid pool a few times. The girls start swim team tomorrow, so they'll have to get used to the chilly water! They got dressed and proceeded to try on all sorts of old costumes and cheer uniforms of their cousin. Then at one point Mary Clare fell back into the pool with her clothes on while trying to watch the pool cleaner! Poor thing!

Pam made us a delicious Lasagna dinner and we had a nice time hanging out while the girls watched movies. We got up for 9:00 mass and then came back to load up and head to the American Girl store. Thanks to the generous Aunt Pam for always hosting us during our trips to Dallas!

We had reservations at the restaurant which was quite a fun experience for the girls. The dolls got to sit in a special chair at the table with their own little menus!

Here are the girls at the table

Ellie with doll Elizabeth

Mary Clare with doll Emily

and cousin Emily with Kirsten!

Mary Clare with my Aunt Marilyn (NeNe's sister), who was so sweet to drive up. We were sad that NeNe and PaPa could not make it because PaPa has been under the weather. We'll have to go back again with them! I didn't get pictures of Aunts Mary and Pam (Steven's sisters).

Ellie with her and her doll's AG t-shirts from Aunt Pam

Me with my sweet girlies!

They brought Ellie her cookie with a candle in whipped cream and everyone sang to her. Here she is recreating the candle blow-out since I was video-taping the singing.

My girls with their dolls

After some fun shopping for all sorts of doll paraphernalia from violins to bunny rabbits, here are the girls ready to head back home!

What a fun girly weekend we had! Happy Birthday to my sweet Ellie, the big 5 year-old!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Birthday Girl

Yesterday, April 22nd, was Ellie's 5th Birthday! We started the day at the donut shop, a special treat for everyone! Then we went on to a local art class held at a nearby church. They sang to Ellie and she enjoyed doing the weaving project:

Outside the church are 2 little playgrounds, one has a big ark where the kids enjoyed playing Noah. They also love the seesaws!

We had a fun but crazy lunch at Sweet Tomatoes, 3 moms and 9 kids, and my parents came by for a bit. We were quite the amusement of the restaurant. When I was the first to find a table with a load of kids, an elderly man at a nearby booth thought I might be "Kate" from Jon & Kate!

We went back to the house and some friends brought special gifts, like stuffed animals and craft items they found at home, and homemade cards.

The kids played for several hours and then we sang to her again

and enjoyed some cupcakes!

Some of the friends stayed very late, we enjoyed ordering pizza, and hanging out. It was a last-minute "playdate" since I didn't want to plan a big coordinated party. We'll have our special celebration this weekend with family.

She was a very happy (albeit bossy, in true 5 year-old fashion) Birthday Girl!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lots to say... time to say it.

I've been lying in bed at night thinking of all these beautiful reflections I'd love to write about. But of course by the morning there is nothing left. Except for the memories of vivid, scary dreams of things like drowned children and my body being sawed open for surgery. I have had really bad dreams the past year or so.

I also have no working batteries for my camera right now, so that's my other excuse. I hate writing without an image to go with it! But I must find batteries by tomorrow, even if they have to come from this computer keyboard, because...

Ellie turns 5 tomorrow! She has been counting down the days for weeks and is so excited about becoming a big 5 year-old. Last night we went to the grocery store together to buy some special treats for her birthday. She really is such an easy to please child. She was utterly thrilled to buy some mini-cupcakes, gum, and other snacks, and was literally skipping and jumping to the car.

Tomorrow we'll attend a little art class and lunch with some friends and then have them over for cupcakes so she can celebrate with a few friends. Then on Saturday, we'll be traveling out of town for a girls' night with her aunts and cousin to go to the American Girl store on Sunday! I'm just praying that Steven and Steven do well at home together; they might actually get to go to a real baseball game with some other family members! I know us girls will have a great time!

Thinking back over the past weeks, I'm really amazed at just how much better I'm feeling than I was a month ago. My energy is starting to return, my moods are improving, I'm not sleeping as much, I'm cooking a little more, and the house is starting to get organized again! I can't believe just how much a messy house affects my moods.

Another load off my shoulders has been the abandonment of my "Charlotte Mason" ideals for the rest of the homeschooling year. It's just not the season right now for library and craft store visits, extensive planning and printing things off the computer, scouring my bookshelves each week for the right "letter" books, etc. We have enough workbooks to keep the girls busy for months and they are actually thriving with them!

A simple 2nd grade workbook from Walmart has already taught Mary Clare about map skills, alphabetizing, parts of speech, coins, and more. And it's helped me to realize just how much she already knows. I've been amazed at how quickly she picks up these skills and speeds through the pages of the workbook. Both girls are using Explode the Code phonics and some handwriting workbooks, Ellie is completing her MCP math, and Mary Clare has completed some spelling lessons, read in her religion textbook, and continued with her 3rd Little Angel Reader.

Steven Joseph is also amazing me with his memory and vocabulary. Last night he found a photo of them with Santa from a neighborhood Christmas party and recalled to me that it was raining that night! He's been pointing out things that "match" and making all his specific needs known, particularly telling me he wants me out of bed whenever I lie down for a little break! I may not have mentioned before but he's also my "cap" boy. He always has a baseball cap on when we leave the house. Right now he's telling me he doesn't like the sound of my typing while he's trying to watch a video about crafting animals with Ellie. The other 2 family members are already asleep!

So I guess I'm in the season of workbooks and iPhone communication. Hopefully I'll be back more often to share some reflections, whenever I think of them again. And of course we'll have some photos of the birthday girl coming soon!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pictureless Post

I was having so much fun meeting fellow bloggers and old and new homeschooling friends at the ARCH conference that I got NO pictures! Bummer. I had a beautiful evening with Danielle Bean (blogger, author, and editorial director of Faith & Family). After picking her up from the airport, she got checked in to her overnight location and we went on to have a great Texas fajita dinner at Pappasito's. Meeting Catholic homeschooling moms is like meeting long-lost friends. We all have so much in common and it's great to learn about their families and their hometowns and homeschooling choices and the like! I got back home pretty late and crawled into bed, anticipating another busy day ahead.

Yesterday started with an unwilling ballerina. I think she was too excited about spending the day with her cousins, and was not happy about her exam rehearsal (her studio requires the children take exams at the end of each year, and the preceding month boasts Saturday morning exam rehearsals). She cried that she didn't like ballet anymore and it was too hard. After some discussions about the financial investment we've made for the rest of the year, and the consequences of her not attending, she finally got dressed and we made it to class (only 20 minutes late!). She seemed to enjoy herself fine; we'll see if yesterday was just a stunt or if she is really tiring of ballet.

After ballet, I dropped the kids at their cousins' house without even a tear from the toddler (sometimes he gets upset when I leave, while other times like yesterday he could care less that I left!) and I was off to the conference in time to make the last 10 minutes of Danielle's talk. Afterwards I spotted Jen and got to visit with her, then Danielle, and some other bloggers for a bit. Everyone split up for lunch and I rushed over to Daily Mass (missing all the readings). I thought I had better take advantage of a Mass without kids!

I checked out the cafeteria a few times, but the choices were slim. There was breakfast food still hanging out, and about 20 people in line for a fresh hamburger. I decided to sneak away for a quick lunch down the street. The conference was held at the University of St. Thomas which is in a bustling area of Houston, so I figured the lunch choices would be many. The next block over is Montrose and I drove down for a few blocks, passing a few fast food joints, but remembering a really good Greek restaurant a little ways further. Traffic was heavy and the Greek restaurant parking lot was totally full. I waited for a few minutes before finding a spot and rushed in to make a quick to-go order and head back to the conference. Needless to say, after waiting in line about 10 minutes and making my order, I was told it would be 30 minutes until my food would be ready!

I opted to go elsewhere, figuring I could easily find food and get back to the conference in half an hour! At this point I was starting to get shaky (it was about 1:30 and breakfast had been at 9am), and managed to find a little bag of Skittles from Easter in my purse. Score! I thought I remembered a LaMadeleine restaurant (one of my favorites) nearby, so I drove a few minutes through the traffic, before finally putting it into my phone and realizing I'd already gone way past it. Turnarounds on one-way roads, many with no left turns, is frustrating. But I was determined to get my Chicken Caesar Salad before much longer.

My phone was telling me I'd arrived, but there was no LaMadeleine to be seen. Back and forth, down little alleyways and through the shopping centers I drove, before finally finding it at the first corner of the large intersection (I'd been looking at the other side of the street). I parked and went in to find a line of just a few people. But of course they didn't know what they wanted to order and I was getting restless. As I approached the front of the line, I reached into my purse to retrieve my wallet, only to realize I had left it in the car!

So I forfeited my spot in line, walked back to scour the car for my wallet, then went back inside to find four new patrons, who also were oblivious to what exactly they might like to eat! Ahhh! Finally my time arrived and I got to sit down with my salad, bread and butter, and water with lemon for a peaceful lunch.

As I was driving back to the conference I was starting to really feel my lack of sleep. Realizing that it was after 2pm, I thought maybe I could find a nearby Sonic restaurant for a cheap, sugary "Happy Hour" slush to perk me up. This was another wild goose chase with my phone. I couldn't for the life of me find the Sonic it was showing on the screen, so I conceded and tiredly drove back to UST.

My lunch outing had taken just over an hour, but felt like an eternity, and I was disappointed that I didn't get to say goodbye to some of my new friends. I spent some time exploring the vendor booths, meeting another blogger, Colleen, who was hilariously funny and had us all in stitches. I listened to a sweet elderly Sister speak about some Montessori reading materials, which was a bit monotonous. If any of us moms were struggling with reading 3-letter words, we got a 45-minute review from Sister who sounded out all her flashcards and showed us how to spell dozens of words with wooden letters. She was so kind, though, answering our questions, and giving away packets outlining the Montessori techniques used at her school.

I ran into a few other friends from college, and after visiting for a few minutes, we were told it was time to leave and I was off to pick up my happy kiddos who were waiting for pizza which their uncle was picking up. We spent the evening visiting with family and playing (and bathing) with cousins, Daddy arriving over from work in time to hang out a little while, before the long drive back home.

I got my first good night's sleep in several days and am now just about recovered and ready for a laid-back Sunday. Yesterday was my aunt's birthday and so we're planning to spend the day visiting with her and my parents. I've got a crying toddler who wants to play with a permanent marker (Bic, Shannon!), so I better get moving on the day. Hope you all have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, April 16, 2010

7 Quick Takes!

Tonight I get to meet a "famous" Catholic mommy blogger. I'm super excited! It relates to the Catholic homeschool conference I'll be attending tomorrow in Houston...that's a hint! I also hope to meet the host of 7 Quick Takes, Jen from Conversion Diary!

I think I'm about 14 weeks now. Hard to determine with all the due date changes! I'm definitely feeling more myself, but have really been needing my midday naps since I've been staying up later. I think I've been feeling some little flurries for awhile but look forward to the real kicks coming soon!

I guess mid-May will be my 20 week appointment and ultrasound. As of now, we're planning to wait until the baby is born to find out the gender! We've never done that before but I do love the idea of having a big surprise to look forward to in the midst of such a scary time with the c-section surgery. But I'm also a bit hesitant since the ultrasound technician at my doctor's office is a high school acquaintance. I don't like the idea of her knowing the "identity" of the baby and not me! Still a few more weeks to decide...

Last night was our monthly book club; we're reading The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori. I was assigned the first three chapters of last night's reading, which discussed the education of the senses. I felt like I was back in college again, reading very scientific educational information, and then writing a summary to share with the group. It was a beautiful idea, though, that we need to teach our children to learn with and use all of their senses. Of course Montessori loved hands-on materials and manipulatives and we all got some great ideas of activities to do with our young children. I didn't get home until 12:30am!!! Yawn...

This is one of Steven's busiest weeks of the year, where he'll have to work both Saturday and Sunday! His sisters are helping to watch the kids while I'm at the conference tomorrow, and hopefully after mid-week of next week things will slow down in time to celebrate Ellie's 5th Birthday! We'll have a little playdate with friends on her actual birthday Thursday, then Saturday we'll travel on a special girl overnight adventure out of town with some family members to celebrate at a place the girls have been longing to visit. Any guesses?

I'm starting to get more excited about our trip to visit my brother and family in California this summer. I was looking up information on Disneyland and such, and look forward to spending the next couple months planning our fun itinerary! It will be our first big out-of-state family vacation, and the first plane trip the girls will remember, so I know it will be a great family experience.

I'm feeling really burnt out with the Alphabet Path stuff. We only have a few letters left (U-Z), but my creative juices are pretty much gone. We're doing the basics, workbooks and reading, right now. And I'm not sure if we'll finish or not. The kids are enjoying lots of time outside, along with things like art classes, nature club, playdates at the park, etc. So I don't think they're missing it that much. I'm sure Mary Clare would like to finish reading the stories though. Maybe I'll have the motivation in a few weeks.

Speaking of activities, we've got Nature Club at the park in about 30 minutes so I better get moving!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


We haven't had the opportunity to travel a bit out of town to find a real field of bluebonnets, so afraid that I was going to miss the blooms I opted to take pictures in a small field outside the church after Sunday Mass.

Here are a few of the favorites...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Random photos

off my iPhone from the past few weeks. I've posted some of them on Facebook but wanted to have them here in case I ever get this blog printed one of these days!

Steven Joseph watching some big boys fishing at the park. He was so upset he didn't have his "wod" (fishing rod) with him.

Kids at the rodeo

Joey watching the horse show at the rodeo.

The girls dressed him up for a tap class one morning

This was the day he wore the sailor suit and did a singing and dancing performance (earning the lollipop) and got to celebrate his 7th birthday later in the day ;-)

"My future's so bright, I gotta wear shades."

Kids dressed in red on Palm Sunday (notice the shades again)

After a rough day, Steven insisted I take the evening off. I had dinner by myself at LaMadeleine. My favorite caesar salad+fresh bread and butter+water and lemon=one happy mama!

Daddy with the kids and komodo dragon at the zoo

This morning's joys

~A toddler who woke up too early, crying, but was satisfied by a banana and a sippy cup of water, and drifted back into dreamland, allowing me...

~A shower without interruption!

~An eldest daughter who woke up and instead of whining at me to make breakfast or sneaking onto some electronic device, she sat by the window of the (newly cleaned) schoolroom and drew pictures while mommy slept a little longer.

~A man from our city hall who came over to try to solve the problems with our (free city-wide wi-fi) internet connection. Not sure if it's solved, but we're closer at least...

~And last but not least, an eldest daughter who FINISHED her Math-U-See Alpha book! We completed the appendix lessons on the clock and filled out the certificate that she is done with math, yay! Now she is helping her younger sister work on her math workbook :-)

~It's also a "beautiful day in the neighborhood" and we have the back door open to enjoy the fresh air.

Hope you had some special joys this morning!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


So Monday was my 12 week appointment and my 3rd peek at the baby! Little One was actually measuring 12 weeks 6 days, so my due date has been moved up about a week, from October 19th to October 12th. Always nice to skip a week of pregnancy in one sitting! Since I may be delivering 2-3 weeks early, it looks like we could be meeting this blessing in September.

Baby was moving around, flapping his/her arms, and even got the hiccups! It was so fun to watch and such a joy to see the baby at this stage in pregnancy. Previously I've only had early ultrasounds at around 6 weeks, then the mid-pregnancy ultrasound at 20 weeks. So this was my first time to see a little moving baby, measuring about 3.5 inches!

Here's his/her profile and hand with 5 fingers by the face.

Initially I couldn't really see the legs clearly, so she got a special shot of one of the little legs kicking. So cute!

So the question I get over and over again, "How are you feeling???" I admit I've been getting a little frustrated with this question recently. It's somewhat of a loaded question to ask a mom in the first trimester!

Honestly I've felt pretty crummy the past couple months. Not really nauseous, but more like exhausted, hormonal, emotional, irritable, and overwhelmed. I'm sure it's a combination of the 1st trimester pregnancy exhaustion, caring for a house with 3 kids and homeschooling, and hopefully the feelings have been exaggerated by the hormone supplement I've been taking to help prevent miscarriage (since I have a history of 2 early miscarriages). I say hopefully because I'm hoping now that I'm off the progesterone and entering the 2nd trimester, I'll start feeling more like myself again! I'm sure my family would love that!

This week we are taking "Easter Break" off school and I think that's definitely helping me to have a more positive outlook and a bit more energy without the daily stress of getting Mary Clare to do her schoolwork. I still have a bit to do with closet organization for Steven and I, and homeschool room organization, before I feel like I can jump back into the "homeschool mom" role again next week. I'm surely feeling a little better and starting to be able to go more days without my mid-day nap and 8:30 bedtime! Maybe you'll see me on the blog more often and possibly even writing some more articles soon.

One thing for sure, that little wiggly baby is worth all the discomfort and I hope my family will not be too traumatized by the emotional, irritable mother they've had for the past few months! I'm hoping that the next 6-or-so months will be filled with peace and excitement as we await the arrival of this sweet little blessing! Thanks for all your prayers and support!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Weekend Memories

We were thrilled that Steven was off work on Good Friday! I would've loved to attend the Triduum services, in particular on Good Friday which we haven't attended since this experience 2 years ago. Mary Clare still remembers it and I look forward to attending with her next year as she'll be nearing her First Communion at that time!

But this year we decided to have a nice family day and reflect on Christ's sacrifice and God's gift of creation at the Zoo! It was a little misty and very crowded but we still enjoyed the afternoon.

Ellie by the giraffes

Steven Joseph is still scared of many of the animals and spent much of the time crouched in the stroller!

Approaching the elephants

In the bird house, talking with Daddy about some of the different kinds of birds.

In a rush to get over and see the Komodo Dragon

I can't believe he got this close to it!

And finally, the aquarium tunnel is always a favorite activity

On Holy Saturday we went out for a nice breakfast buffet and spent most of the day cleaning the house! I changed out winter/spring clothes in the kids' closets and have nearly conquered the "sewing room" (ie laundry baskets and mounds everywhere). Of course, once the house was nearly clean it received an Easter explosion, but we're taking Easter Break this week so I can get a handle on things before starting school again.

The Easter Bunny was very generous this year (note that the dolls sit out with their own baskets or stockings now at holiday times). I'm sure she will learn to calm down next year. She has been known to go a little bit crazy at Target during holiday times.

Mary Clare apparently woke up at 2am and inspected everything. She got to work on a project she had in her basket and then woke her sister up to see the gifts before Mom and Dad realized what was going on! The girls wore sponge rollers, but Mary Clare took hers off during her 2am romp around the house, so hers didn't take.

But Ellie's did! She's enjoying her healthy Easter breakfast :)

Timber the dog also enjoyed a nice Easter breakfast, as he opened and devoured about 35 of the 45 eggs that were hidden in the backyard! His breakfast included fruit snacks, teddy grahams, mini Oreos and mini Chips Ahoy cookies. The kids really weren't all that upset, since they had the donuts and toys to keep them entertained! We'll have to give the Bunny a heads-up next year to either put the dog up or hide the eggs inside the house!

The guilty party with all his eggs (these were all hidden off the ground too! a talented dog!)

The girls sitting around playing with some crafts they got. Ellie was totally thrilled to get pom-poms and googly eyes; she's very easy to please!

SJ got a baseball and mitt. Here he's practicing with Daddy.

The Alleluia letters I made before Lent and strung on the mantle. Idea here on Catholic Icing. I also put up the Easter portrait of the kids.

An attempt at an after-Mass photo (SJ had been asleep)

A better shot in our front yard after Mass

We changed out of our Easter finest to head across town, but not before NeNe sent the kids on another little hunt in our yard...

special Easter surprises!

Aunt Mary once again hosted the B family extravaganza, complete with a big backyard egg hunt!

All the Houston area cousins, 11 0f them ages 8 and under! I'll be making it an even dozen this fall!

Checking out their loot

Steven Joseph gets into the "boy toys" with his cousins (Mini-transformer things, I think they're called Bakugans?)

Cousins finish off the day playing with Littlest Pet Shop animals in the yard!

We spent part of Easter Monday with our friends the K family, as they watched the kids while I had my 12 wk OB appointment. I came back to a pizza party, egg decorating, bubbles, and even an Easter production!

"He is Risen" video by the B and K kids:
Start watching around second 20 for the best part!

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